Draft for the Speech over the Grave of Jenny Marx
|3 December 1881
First published in L'Egalité, No. 1, December 11, 1881
Reproduced from the manuscript, verified with the newspaper
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 24 pdf
Engels wrote this draft in English. Its translation into French was printed in L'Egalité, No. 1, December 11, 1881 in the section "Angleterre". The author was named in the editorial preface.
In 1890-91, Paul Lafargue quoted Engels' speech in his article "K. Marx. Persönliche Erinnerungen" (Die Neue Zeit, Jg. 9, Bd. 1, Stuttgart, S. 41-42). In 1892, it was translated into Bulgarian from the text in Die Neue Zeit and printed in the magazine Den, No. 3/4, Shumen, July-August 1892, pp. 233-34.
The noble-hearted woman at whose grave we stand was born in Salzwedel in 1814. Her father, Baron W[estphalen], was soon afterwards appointed Regierungsrat in Trier where he became intimately acquainted with the Marx family. The children of both families grew up together. By the time M[arx] went to the university, he and his future wife knew that their fates would henceforth be inseparable.
In 1843, after Marx had first publicly distinguished himself as editor of the first Rheinische Zeitung, and after the suppression of that Paper by the Prussian government, the marriage took place. From that day she not only followed the fortunes, the labours, the struggles of her husband; she took an active part in them with the highest intelligence and the deepest passion.
The young couple went to Paris, into an exile, first voluntary, soon compulsory. Even in Paris the Prussian government persecuted him. With regret I have to state, that a man like A. v. Humboldt so far demeaned himself as to cooperate in inducing the Government of Louis Philippe to expel M[arx] from France. The family moved to Brussels. The revolution of February ensued. During the troubles caused by this event in Brussels, the Belgian police not only arrested Marx, they must needs throw into prison his wife too, and that without the pretence of a pretext. The revolutionary effort of 1848 collapsed in the following year. New exile followed, first again in Paris, then, owing to fresh government interference, in London. And this time it was real exile with all its bitterness. The ordinary sufferings of exiles she might have overcome—though in consequence of them she had to lose three children, amongst them both her boys. But that all parties—governmental as well as oppositional, feudalist, liberal and so-called democratic, combined into one vast conspiracy against her husband, heaped upon him the vilest and most baseless calumnies; that the whole press without exception shut him out, that he stood helpless and defenceless before antagonists whom he and she must utterly despise—that hurt her to the life. And that lasted for years.
But not for ever. By and bye the working class of Europe found itself placed in political conditions which gave it at least some elbow-room. The International Working Men’s Association was formed; it drew into the struggle one civilized country after the other, and in that struggle, foremost amongst the foremost, fought her husband. Then a time began for her which made up for many past sufferings. She lived to see the base slanders, heaped up around her husband, fly away as chaff before the wind; she lived to hear the doctrines of her husband, to stifle which the reactionists of all countries, feudalists as well as so-called democrats, had spent all their efforts—to hear them proclaimed openly and victoriously in all civilized countries and in all civilized languages. She lived to see the revolutionary movement of the Proletariat seize one country after another, and raise its head, conscious of victory, from Russia to America. And one of her last joys, on her deathbed, was the splendid proof of irrepressible life, in spite of all repressive laws, which the German working class gave at the late elections.
What such a woman, with such clear and critical intellect, with such political tact, with such passionate energy of character, with such capacity for self-sacrifice, has done in the revolutionary movement, that has not been pushed forward into publicity, that is not registered in the columns of the periodical press. That is only known to those who lived near her. But that I know, we shall often miss her bold and prudent counsels, bold without brag, prudent without sacrifice of honor.
Of her personal qualities I need not speak. Her friends know them and will never forget them. If ever woman found her highest happiness in rendering others happy, that woman was she.
The place where we stand is the best proof that she lived and died in the full conviction of atheist Materialism. Death had no
- On January 19, 1843 the Prussian government decided to suppress as of April 1, 1843, the publication of the Rheinische Zeitung für Politik, Handel und Gewerbe, which had been appearing in Cologne since January 1, 1842 and which, under the editorship of Marx (from October 1842), had acquired a revolutionary-democratic trend. Marx's resignation from the editorship on March 18, 1843 did not cause the government to rescind its decision, and the last issue appeared on March 31, 1843.
- On June 19, 1843.—Ed
- Edgar, Guido and Franziska.— Ed
- The words "feudalists as well as so-called democrats" are omitted in L'Égalité.—Ed.
- At the elections to the German Reichstag of October 27, 1881 the SocialDemocrats received 312,000 votes and 12 mandates.