Letters of Frederick Engels 1838

To Marie Engels
In Barmen

[Bremen] Sept. 11 [1838]

Dear Marie,

“Hoping to receive another four-page letter from you, I remain, etc.” Yes, you little goose, you shall have four pages but they are according to the saying that with the same measure as you measure will it be measured unto you, [Cf. Matthew 7:2.] and even that is too much for you. For I manage to get as much on a small page like this as you do on a big one, and I forbid such a waste of paper in future; when Fatty writes so spread out, that’s a different matter. Do you understand me, little Mamsell? — If you don’t go to Xanten this year, you must say:

Console yourself with job
And anoint the monk with syrup.

I can’t help it, they say here in Bremen. You can imagine to yourselves that you have already been there, and don’t you, Marie, know how Hermann [Hermann Engels] went on when he had a glass of wine? He drank it very slowly so as to have the pleasure of it for a long time. So you should say to yourselves: If we were at Xanten now, we would not be able to be glad that we were still to go there, but now we have a whole hopeful year ahead of us and we can be glad to our fill. See, that’s the political way, Socrates and Eulenspiegel would say just the same thing. Remember this for the future. You see, I can lecture you just as well as you me. And when you write to me again, don’t begin every paragraph with “Just imagine.” How did you get such a noble habit? How can you say “I don’t know what else to write about” when you have not yet told me what kind of school report you and Anna [Engels] have and who worked out your programme this year. Fatty must also have cracked a joke or two during the eight weeks I've been away, couldn’t you perhaps have written to me about that? How much else may have happened that I cannot know anything about? Tell me, what kind of excuse is “I don’t know what else to write about.” I don’t know what to write about either. When I begin a line, I don’t yet know what to put in the following one, but something always comes to me, and I hope that what I write to you will be useful and of no little profit to you. But when you have filled two pages with lines wide apart, you immediately think you have performed a colossal Herculean labour, but what about me? When I have finished this letter to you, I must still write three others and they must he ready for posting tomorrow or the day after. And I have not much time, for the Panchita is being sent off to Havana this afternoon and so I have to copy letters instead of writing some of my own. I am expecting a letter from Strücker at midday today and then he'll be wanting an answer too, and I can’t write exactly the same thing to one as I have written to the other. So, you see that it would be right if you wrote me six pages and should not complain if I only wrote you one-sixth of a page? However, this lecture is already as long as your whole letter and so that you can see that I can also write about other things I will now make so free as to tell you that if I have brushes before this letter goes off, I will enclose a few drawings of Bremen peasant fashions. — But now you are right, I don’t know what else to write about, but I just want to see if I get anything more to do. The four pages will be filled, and quite honestly too. What is very unpleasant is that in the evenings the city gates are closed when it gets dark and whoever wants to go out or come in has to pay a toll and it now starts at seven o’clock, when you have to pay two groats, and this increases as it gets later. You pay three groats after nine and six groats at ten and twelve groats at eleven. If you are on horseback you have to pay even more. I too have had to pay toll once or twice. — The Consul [Heinrich Leupold] is at this moment talking to Herr Grave about the letters which have to be written this afternoon. I am listening with the greatest excitement like a rascal who sees the jury return and is waiting to hear “Guilty” or “Not guilty”. Once Grave starts writing, before I know where I am I have six, seven, eight or even more letters to copy, each of which may be of one, two or perhaps three pages. During the time I have been here I've already copied forty pages, forty pages in a huge copy-book. Another letter for Baltimore is lying in front of me now, and look — the four pages are full, it is 11.30 and I shall go to the post under the pretext of collecting the Consul’s letters but really to see if there is a letter from Strücker. Adieu, dear Marie, I'm looking forward to four big pages.

Your brother