Like Wagner and his Minna, the wife of Marx’s youth clung to him through his utmost vicissitudes, denying herself the necessities of life so that he might not starve. In London, where he spent his latest days, he was secure from danger, yet still a sort of persecution seemed to follow him. For some time, nothing that he wrote could find a printer. Wherever he went, people looked at him askance. He and his six children lived upon the sum of five dollars a week, which was paid him by the New York Tribune, through the influence of the late Charles A. Dana. When his last child was born, and the mother’s life was in serious danger, Marx complained that there was no cradle for the baby, and a little later that there was no coffin for its burial.
Marx had ceased to believe in marriage, despised the church, and cared nothing for government. Yet, unlike Wagner, he was true to the woman who had given up so much for him. He never sank to an artistic degeneracy. Though he rejected creeds, he was nevertheless a man of genuine religious feeling. Though he believed all present government to be an evil, he hoped to make it better, or rather he hoped to substitute for it a system by which all men might get an equal share of what it is right and just for them to have.
Such was Marx, and thus he lived and died. His wife, who had long been cut off from her relatives, died about a year before him. When she was buried, he stumbled and fell into her grave, and from that time until his own death he had no further interest in life.
He had been faithful to a woman and to a cause. That cause was so tremendous as to overwhelm him. In sixty years only the first great stirrings of it could be felt. Its teachings may end in nothing, but only a century or more of effort and of earnest striving can make it plain whether Karl Marx was a world-mover or a martyr to a cause that was destined to be lost.
FERDINAND LASSALLE AND HELENE VON DONNIGES
The middle part of the nineteenth century is a period which has become more or less obscure to most Americans and Englishmen. At one end the thunderous campaigns of Napoleon are dying away. In the latter part of the century we remember the gorgeousness of the Tuileries, the four years’ strife of our own Civil War, and then the golden drift of peace with which the century ended. Between these two extremes there is a stretch of history which seems to lack interest for the average student of to-day.
In America, that was a period when we took little interest in the movement of affairs on the continent of Europe. It would not be easy, for instance, to imagine an American of 1840 cogitating on problems of socialism, or trying to invent some new form of arbeiterverein. General Choke was still swindling English emigrants. The Young Columbian was still darting out from behind a table to declare how thoroughly he defied the British lion. But neither of these