Letter to Jenny Marx, September 2, 1864

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 2 September 1864


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 556;
First published: in the language of the original (German), in Annali, Milan, 1958.
Keywords : Letter, Geneva, Crisis

To Jenny Marx in Brighton

[London,] 2 September 1864[edit source]

Dear Jenny,

Yesterday I got a letter from Freiligrath — copy below — from which you will see that Lassalle has been gravely wounded in a duel in Geneva. We were genuinely dismayed by the news since, whatever one may say, L. is too good to go under in this way. After receiving the letter, I went to see Freiligrath, i.e. at his private address, knowing that Ida was away. He seemed very ‘agreeably’ surprised by my visit. His daughter Louise was with him. The rest of the crew are coming back at the end of this week. Louise had been staying in Brighton for a fortnight with Franziska Ruge. Bearing in mind the Freilig.-Ruge, etc., connection, you should take care with your baroness’s cards. Ruge would be just the fellow to turn something like that to account.

Freilig. was by no means as ‘moved’ as he made out in his letter, but cracked his little jokes as always, even on the subject of L. He told me that his bank was in a state of crisis and that the Geneva affair in particular and the role played therein by Fazy were doing it a great deal of harm. Finally, here is Tussy’s last. It being plain from F.’s letter that L. had fought a duel on account of a lady he wished to marry, Laura recalled how he told every woman he could ‘only love her for 6 weeks’. So, says Tussy. ‘He is warranted for 6 weeks’.

Little Jenny is working like mad in her greenhouse. All are well and send their love.

The Old One

F.’s letter

‘I have just had a letter from Klapka in Geneva. He writes:

‘“Lassalle had been conducting a love-affair here, though with perfectly honourable intentions as he wished to marry the girl, the daughter of the Bavarian envoy, Mr von Donniges. The father objected to the marriage, the girl deceived poor Lassalle; a man to whom she had been previously engaged, the above-mentioned pseudo-prince, arrived from Berlin; then came explanations, an unpleasant exchange of letters, and a challenge ensued. Lassalle’s seconds were Colonel Rüstow and my fellow countryman, General Count Bethlen. Lassalle, as befitted a man of his reputation and political position, behaved with no less courage than dignity. He was shot in the stomach and is now laid up at the Hôtel Victoria with his life hanging in the balance. Unfortunately for him, the bullet is lodged deep in the body, so the wound might well become gangrenous. I went to see him at once upon my arrival and found him dictating his will, but otherwise calm and resigned to death. I am exceedingly sorry for him; often one does not get to know a person until his end is near at hand. Let us hope that, despite the doctors’ unfavourable prognoses, he will come safely through the crisis.”

‘So much for Klapka. I cannot but confess’ (what an affected way of putting it — as though he was on the rack!) ‘that I was deeply affected by the news and immediately, telegraphed Klapka, asking him to convey my sympathy and grief to Lassalle, if he should still be alive. Klapka will reply by telegraph and I shall immediately pass on to you anything I learn.’