Letter from Heinrich Marx to son Karl

in Berlin

Written: Bad Ems, [approx August 20, 1837]
Source: Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 1, pg 677-678.
Publisher: International Publishers (1975)
First Published: Marx/Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Abt. 1, Hb. 2, 1929
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcribed: S. Ryan
HTML Markup: S. Ryan

Dear, good Karl,

I do not know whether on receipt of this letter you will already have received the letter which I [sent] to your dear mother. But I think so. Meanwhile, since I like talking to you, and since you may perhaps find it pleasant to see someone whose friendly company I have enjoyed for a number of days, I take advantage of the kind willingness of the bearer [to] send you a few lines.

The bearer is a fine young man, tutor to the son of Prince Karl. I made his acquaintance here, where I, who do not easily mix, have mostly been isolated. I have spent many pleasant hours with Herr Heim, and insofar as one can get to know [someone] in a short time, I think I have found in him a very honest, pleasant and upright man. He will look you up, he tells me, and I shall be [glad if] he finds that the picture sketched by a father's self-complacency is accurate.

In view of the approaching vacation, it may perhaps not be unpleasing for you to see some things that are remarkable and it is possible that owing to his position Herr Heim can easily help you in this respect.

If you have leisure and write to me, I shall be glad if you will draw up for me a concise plan of the positive legal studies that you have gone through this year. According to your project, it seems to me unnecessary for you to take lectures on cameralistics. Only do not neglect natural science, for there is no certainty of being able to make up for this later, and regret comes too late.

Perhaps in a few years' time it will be a favourable moment to obtain an [...] entry into law, if you are making Bonn your goal, since there is absolutely no man there who can do anything out of the ordinary. I know that in regard to science Berlin has advantages and great attraction. But apart from the fact that greater difficulties arise there, you must surely also have some regard for your parents, whose sanguine hopes would be largely shattered by your residing so far away. Of course that must not hinder your plan of life; parental love is probably the least selfish of all. But if this plan of life could be fraternally combined with these hopes, that would be for me the highest of all life's joys, the number of which decreases so considerably with the years.

My stay here has so far yielded very little success, and yet I shall have to prolong it in spite of the most painful boredom in order to comply with the wish of your dear mother, who most urgently begs me to do so.

I shall obviously have to abandon my beautiful, long-cherished desire to see you during this vacation. It costs me great effort, but it seems it cannot be helped. This fatal cough tortures me in every respect!

Well, God take care of you, dear Karl, be happy and -- I cannot repeat it too often -- do not neglect your health as you enrich your mind.

With all my heart and soul,

Your father,