Karl Marx’s

Zalt-Bommel, 1 April 1865

First Published: in the original English in the International Review of Social History, 1956.
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

“Confessions” were semi-jocular questionaires that were very popular in Victorian England, and filling them out a common passtime in many families, including Marx's, where friends and relatives particpated. A number of versions of Confessions belonging to Marx have been preserved.

In the Spring of 1865 Marx stayed with his uncle, Lion Philips in Zalt Bommel (Holland), and his answers to the Confession he completed here is shown in the middle column below. His daughter Jenny kept an album, an image of which is shown, and the answers shown in the right hand column are in Laura Marx's hand. Where the answers are the same, it is shown only once.

Netchen, or Nannette, was Antoinette Philips, aged 28 at the time, Marx's cousin and a member of the Dutch section of the Internatrional. Martin Tupper was an English poet who penned trivial moralistic verses. Gretchen is the tragic heroine of Goethe’s Faust. “Keppler” refers to the great German astronomer, Johannes Kepler, and Spartacus was the leader of the slaves’ revolt in ancient Rome.

QuestionAnswer in 1865in Jenny’s album
The Quality you like bestSimplicity
     In manStrength
     In WomanWeakness
Your chief characteristicSingleness of purpose
Your favourite occupationGlancing at NetchenBookworming
The vice you hate mostServility
The vice you excuse mostGullibility
Your idea of happinessTo fight 
Your idea of miseryTo submit 
Your aversionMartin TupperMartin Tupper, violet powder
Your heroSpartacus, Keppler
Your heroineGretchen
The poet you like bestAeschylus, ShakespeareDante, Aeschylus, Shakespeare, Goethe
The prose writer you like bestDiderotDiderot, Lessing, Hegel, Balsac
Your favourite flowerDaphneLaurel
Your favourite dishFish
Your MaximNihil humani a me alienum puto [Nothing human is alien to me]
Your mottoDe omnibus dubitandum [doubt everything]
Your favourite colourRed
Your favourite Colour of eyes & hairBlack
Your favourite NamesJenny, Laura
The character in history you most dislike 

Karl Marx