Letters of Frederick Engels

To Marie Engels
In Barmen

Bremen, April 10, 1839

Dear Marie,

Pardon me for not writing to you for so long. Now I'll tell you something nice. On Good Friday, the local Burgomaster, His Magnificence Dr. Groening, died and the election of a new one took place a week ago. The Right Honourable Senator Dr. J. D. Noltenius got the appointment and last Friday there was a big procession for his installation. First came the eight gentlemen servants, two of whom are at the service of every Burgomaster, each wearing short porcelain-white breeches, fine hose and bright red frock-coats, swords at their sides, and tricorns on their heads. Following them came the Burgomasters with His Magnificence Dr. Smidt, the shrewdest of them all and as good as King of Bremen, well to the fore; then Herr Dr. Duntze, who was muffled up to his chin in fur and who always takes a thermometer with him to the meetings of the Senate. Then the senators, preachers and citizens, some 600-800 people, perhaps more, who all went into a house or several houses where they ate, that is, they were all given macaroons, cigars and wine, ate as much as they could hold and crammed their pockets full. Youngsters gathered before the doors and made a din, and when anyone came out they all shouted after him, “ht st, ht st!” [Has eaten, has eaten!] They also did this to Alderman Hase, who turned round majestically and said: “I am Herr Alderman Hase.” Then they shouted: “Ollermann Hase ht st, Ollermann Hase ht st” And you can imagine how this strut of the Bremen state set the struts of his own body in motion in order to save himself. Last Saturday a new senator was elected in Dr. Noltenius’ place; Dr. Mohr received the honour and his tuck-in took place on Monday. It is the custom on these occasions that one of the new senator’s relatives has to drink the pig [das Schwein trinken], i. e., he has to drink himself under the table, which difficult task was carried out by Herr H. A. Heineken, a broker, to the satisfaction of all. For a great poet says:

To enjoy the weariness of life with melancholy
Is virtue and conceptions

Marie: “But Friedrich, how can you write such stupid stuff? There’s neither rhyme nor reason in it.” Friedrich: “I can’t help it” I have to fill the page somehow — aha, I've just remembered something. Last Sunday I went out riding with Neviandt and Roth, and Neviandt brought along a little Englishman, the size of Anna. We were hardly outside the town before the Englishman got hold of a whip and walloped the horse, so that it lashed out with forelegs and hind-legs. He remains sitting on it calmly, the animal jumps about in all directions, but he isn’t thrown. Then he dismounts to pick up his whip, which he had dropped, and, oh, magnificent stupidity, leaves the horse all by itself, and the horse wastes no time to think before doing a bunk. He runs after it, Neviandt dismounts and goes after him, but returns unsuccessful, John and the horse are gone. We ride to Horn, have a drop, and have scarcely started back before Mr. John comes galloping up pleine carrire [At full speed] The horse had been stopped on the way, he had mounted, ridden it back to the stable and got himself a new whip. So we turn round. Neviandt and I have rather wild horses and as we begin to trot a little Mr. John shoots past me at a mad gallop. My horse gets a fancy and goes off in high style. I twigged what it was up to, calmly let it run and tried to slow it down now and again, but when I'd just got it out of its mad rush, John shot past me and it was worse than ever. Waving his hat he kept shouting: “My horse runs better than yours, hurrah!” Finally his horse puffed up in front of a cart and behold, my Norma also stopped. If only the silly horses knew that their riders enjoy it when they rush off like that. I wasn’t in the least afraid and managed quite well. Adieu.

Yours,

Friedrich