To Heine came Marx and his beautiful bride. One may speculate as to Jenny’s estimate of her husband. Since his boyhood, she had not seen him very much. At that time he was a merry, light-hearted youth, a jovial comrade, and one of whom any girl would be proud. But since his long stay in Berlin, and his absorption in the theories of men like Engels and Bauer, he had become a very different sort of man, at least to her.
Groping, lost in brown studies, dreamy, at times morose, he was by no means a sympathetic and congenial husband for a high-bred, spirited girl, such as Jenny von Westphalen. His natural drift was toward a beer-garden, a group of frowsy followers, the reek of vile tobacco, and the smell of sour beer. One cannot but think that his beautiful wife must have been repelled by this, though with her constant nature she still loved him.
In Heinrich Heine she found a spirit that seemed akin to hers. Mr. Spargo says—and in what he says one must read a great deal between the lines:
The admiration of Jenny Marx for the poet was even more ardent than that of her husband. He fascinated her because, as she said, he was “so modern,” while Heine was drawn to her because she was “so sympathetic.”
It must be that Heine held the heart of this beautiful woman in his hand. He knew so well the art of fascination; he knew just how to supply the void which Marx had left. The two were indeed affinities in heart and soul; yet for once the cynical poet stayed his hand, and said no word that would have been disloyal to his friend. Jenny loved him with a love that might have blazed into a lasting flame; but fortunately there appeared a special providence to save her from herself. The French government, at the request of the King of Prussia, banished Marx from its dominions; and from that day until he had become an old man he was a wanderer and an exile, with few friends and little money, sustained by nothing but Jenny’s fidelity and by his infinite faith in a cause that crushed him to the earth.
There is a curious parallel between the life of Marx and that of Richard Wagner down to the time when the latter discovered a royal patron. Both of them were hounded from country to country; both of them worked laboriously for so scanty a living as to verge, at times, upon starvation. Both of them were victims to a cause in which they earnestly believed—an economic cause in the one case, an artistic cause in the other. Wagner’s triumph came before his death, and the world has accepted his theory of the music-drama. The cause of Marx is far greater and more tremendous, because it strikes at the base of human life and social well-being.
The clash between Wagner and his critics was a matter of poetry and dramatic music. It was not vital to the human race. The cause of Marx is one that is only now beginning to be understood and recognized by millions of men and women in all the countries of the earth. In his lifetime he issued a manifesto that has become a classic among economists. He organized the great International Association of Workmen, which set all Europe in a blaze and extended even to America. His great book, “Capital”—Das Kapital— which was not completed until the last years of his life, is read to-day by thousands as an almost sacred work.