Letter to Karl Marx, August 10, 1841

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Author(s) Jenny von Westphalen
Written 10 August 1841


First published in: Marx/Engels, Werke, Ergänzungsband, Erster Teil, Berlin, 1968

Published in English for the first time in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 1

To Karl Marx in Bonn


[Trier, August 10, 1841]

My little wild boar,

How glad I am that you are happy, and that my letter made you cheerful, and that you are longing for me, and that you are living in wallpapered rooms, and that you drank champagne in Cologne, and that there are Hegel clubs there, and that you have been dreaming, and that, in short, you are mine, my own sweetheart, my dear wild boar. But for all that there is one thing I miss: you could have praised me a little for my Greek, and you could have devoted a little laudatory article to my erudition. But that is just like you, you Hegeling gentlemen,[1] you don’t recognise anything, be it the height of excellence, if it is not exactly according to your view, and so I must be modest and rest on my own laurels. Yes, sweetheart, I have still to rest, alas, and indeed on a feather bed and pillows, and even this little letter is being sent out into the world from my little bed.

On Sunday I ventured on a bold excursion into the front rooms — but it proved bad for me and now I have to do penance again for it. Schleicher told me just now that he has had a letter from a young revolutionary, but that the latter is greatly mistaken in his judgment of his countrymen. He does not think he can procure either shares or anything else. Ah, dear, dear sweetheart, now you get yourself involved in politics too. That is indeed the most risky thing of all. Dear little Karl, just remember always that here at home you have a sweetheart who is hoping and suffering and is wholly dependent on your fate. Dear, dear sweetheart, how I wish I could only see you again.

Unfortunately, I cannot and may not fix the day as yet. Before I feel quite well again, I shall not get permission to travel. But I am staying put this week. Otherwise our dear synopticist[2] may finally depart and I should not have seen the worthy man. This morning quite early I studied in the Augsburg newspaper three Hegelian articles and the announcement of Bruno’s book![3]

Properly speaking, dear sweetheart, I ought now to say vale faveque[4] to you, for you only asked me for a couple of lines and the page is already filled almost to the end. But today I do not want to keep so strictly to the letter of the law and I intend to stretch the lines asked for to as many pages. And it is true, is it not, sweetheart, that you will not be angry with your little Jenny on that account, and as for the content itself, you should bear firmly in mind that only a knave gives more than he has. Today my buzzing, whirring little head is quite pitiably empty and it has hardly anything in it but wheels and clappers and mills. The thoughts have all gone, but on the other hand, my little heart is so full, so overflowing with love and yearning and ardent longing for you, my infinitely loved one.

In the meantime have you not received a letter written in pencil sent through Vauban? Perhaps, the intermediary is no longer any good, and in future I must address the letters directly to my lord and master.

Commodore Napier has just passed by in his white cloak. One’s poor senses fail one at the sight. It strikes me as just like the wolves’ ravine in the Freischüz, when suddenly the wild army and all the curious fantastic forms pass through it. Only on the miserable little stage of our theatre one always saw the wires to which the eagles and owls and crocodiles were fastened—in this case the mechanism is merely of a somewhat different kind.

Tomorrow, for the first time, Father[5] will be allowed out of his constrained position and seated on a chair. He is rather discouraged by the very slow progress of his recovery, but he vigorously issues his orders without pause, and it will not be long before he is awarded the grand cross of the order of commanders.

If I were not lying here so miserably, I would soon be packing my bag. Everything is ready. Frocks and collars and bonnets are in beautiful order and only the wearer is not in the right condition. Oh, dearest one, how I keep thinking of you and your love during my sleepless nights, how often have I prayed for you, blessed you and implored blessings for you, and how sweetly I have then often dreamed of all the bliss that has been and will be.— This evening Haizinger is acting in Bonn. Will you go there? I have seen her as Donna Diana.

Dearest Karl, I should like to say a lot more to you, all that remains to be said—but Mother[6] will not tolerate it any longer—she will take away my pen and I shall not be able even to express my most ardent, loving greetings. Just a kiss on each finger and then away into the distance. Fly away, fly to my Karl, and press as warmly on his lips as you were warm and tender when starting out towards them; and then cease to be dumb messengers of love and whisper to him all the tiny, sweet, secret expressions of love that love gives you — tell him everything—but, no, leave something over for your mistress.

Farewell, one and only beloved.

I cannot write any more, or my head will be all in a whirl [...][7] you know, and quadrupedante putrem sonitu,[8] etc., etc.—Adieu, you dear little man of the railways. Adieu, my dear little man.— It is certain, isn’t it, that I can marry you?

Adieu, adieu, my sweetheart.

  1. Jenny von Westphalen uses ironically the expression “Hegeling gentlemen”, a derogatory name given to the followers of Hegel by their rabid opponent Heinrich Leo, historian and publicist. Leo wrote against the Young Hegelians the pamphlet Die Hegelingen. Actenstücke und Belege zu der s. g. Denunciation der ewigen Wahrheit, Halle, 1838.
  2. Bruno Bauer.— Ed.
  3. The announcement of the publication of Bruno Bauer’s book Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte der Synoptiker and his three small articles were carried in the Supplement to the Allgemeine Zeitung of August 1, 1841.
  4. Good-bye and be devoted to me.— Ed.
  5. Ludwig von Westphalen.— Ed.
  6. Caroline von Westphalen.— Ed.
  7. Here there are three incorrectly written Latin words which do not make sense.— Ed.
  8. The four-footed clanging of hooves (Virgil, Aeneid, VIII, 596).— Ed