Letter to Ludwig Kugelmann, December 24, 1867

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To Ludwig Kugelmann in Hanover

[London, 24 December 1867] 1 Modena Villas, Maitland Park[edit source]

My dear Mr Kugelmann,

You can have no idea of the delight and surprise you occasioned us yesterday, and I really do not know how I should thank you for all your friendship and sympathy, and especially now for the latest visible sign of your regard, old Father Zeus, who now occupies the place of the ‘baby Jesus’ in our household. Our Christmas festivities this year are again very much overshadowed by the fact that my poor husband is once more laid low with his old complaint. There have been 2 further eruptions, one of which is of some size and in a most painful spot, obliging Karl to lie on one side. I hope we shall soon get the better of this illness, and that in the next letter you will no longer be confronted with the temporary private secretary.

Yesterday evening we were all at home together sitting downstairs, which in English houses is the kitchen area from which all ‘creature comforts’ make their way up to the higher regions, and were busy preparing the Christmas pudding with all due thoroughness. We were seeding raisins (a most disagreeable and sticky task), chopping up almonds and orange and lemon peel, minutely shredding suet, and with eggs and flour kneading together the oddest potpourri from the whole mishmash; when all at once there was a ring at the door, a carriage was stopped outside, mysterious footsteps were going up and down, whispering and rustling filled the house; at length a voice sounded from above: ‘A great statue has arrived.’ If it had been ‘Fire, fire, the house is on fire’, the ‘Fenians’ have come, we could not have dashed upstairs in greater astonishment or confusion, and there it stood in all its colossal splendour, in its ideal purity, old Jupiter tonans himself, unscathed, undamaged (one small edge of the piedestal is slightly chipped) before our staring, delighted eyes!! Meanwhile, the confusion having somewhat abated, we then read the accompanying kind words you sent via Borkheim, and after pausing in deepest gratitude to you, we at once began debating which would be the worthiest niche for the new ‘dear god who is there in heaven and on Earth’.’ We have not yet resolved this great question, and we shall make many trials before that proud head finds its place of honour.

My warmest thanks to you also for your great interest and indefatigable efforts on behalf of Karl’s book [Capital]. It would seem that the Germans’ preferred form of applause is utter and complete silence. You have given fresh heart to all the moaners.

Dear Mr Kugelmann, you can believe me when I tell you there can be few books that have been written in more difficult circumstances, and I am sure I could write a secret history of it which would tell of many, extremely many unspoken troubles and anxieties and torments. If the workers had an inkling of the sacrifices that were necessary for this work, which was written only for them and for their sakes to be completed they would perhaps show a little more Interest. The Lassalleans appear to be the quickest to seize the book, so that they may fittingly bowdlerise it. However, that will do no harm.

But to conclude, I have a bone to pick with you. Why do you address me so formally, even using the title ‘gracious’, for me, who am such an old campaigner, such a hoary head in the movement, such an honest fellow-traveller and fellow-tramp? I would so much have liked to visit you and your dear wife and Fränzchen this summer, of whom my husband cannot stop saying so many nice and good things, I would so much have liked to see Germany again after 11 years. I have often been unwell in the past year, and I am sorry to say that of late I have lost much of my ‘faith’, my courage in facing up to life. I often found it hard to keep my spirits up. However, since my girls were embarking on a long journey — they had been invited to stay with Lafargue’s parents in Bordeaux — it was impossible for me to undertake my own excursion at the same time, and it is therefore now my fondest hope for next year.

Karl sends his warmest greetings to your wife and to yourself, to which the girls sincerely add their own, and I extend my hand to you and your dear wife from afar.

Jenny Marx

not gracious and not by the grace of God.