This interview with Karl Marx first appeared on January 5, 1879, in the Chicago Tribune—one of the most conservative newspapers of the time, which regularly attacked socialism and trade unions.
LONDON, DECEMBER 18 —In a little villa at Haverstock Hill, the northwest portion of London, lives Karl Marx, the cornerstone of modern socialism. He was exiled from his native country—Germany—in 1844, for propagating revolutionary theories. In 1848, he returned, but in a few months was again exiled. He then took up his abode in Paris, but his political theories procured his expulsion from that city in 1849, and since that year his headquarters have been in London. His convictions have caused him trouble from the beginning. Judging from the appearance of his home, they certainly have not brought him affluence. Persistently during all these years he has advocated his views with an earnestness which undoubtedly springs from a firm belief in them, and, however much we may deprecate their propagation, we cannot but respect to a certain extent the self-denial of the now venerable exile.
Our correspondent has called upon him twice or thrice, and each time the Doctor was found in his library, with a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other. He must be over seventy years of age. His physique is well knit, massive, erect. He has the head of a man of intellect, and the features of a cultivated Jew. His hair and beard are long, and iron-gray in color. His eyes are glittering black, shaded by a pair of bushy eyebrows. To a stranger he shows extreme caution. A foreigner can generally gain admission; but the ancient-looking German woman [Helene Demuth] who waits upon visitors has instructions to admit none who hail from the Fatherland, unless they bring letters of introduction. Once into his library, however, and having fixed his one eyeglass in the corner of his eye, in order to take your intellectual breadth and depth, so to speak, he loses that self-restraint, and unfolds to you a knowledge of men and things throughout the world apt to interest one. And his conversation does not run in one groove, but is as varied as are the volumes upon his library shelves. A man can generally be judged by the books he reads, and you can form your own conclusions when I tell you a casual glance revealed Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray, Moliere, Racine, Montaigne, Bacon, Goethe, Voltaire, Paine; English, American, French blue books; works political and philosophical in Russian, German, Spanish, Italian, etc., etc.
During my conversation I was struck with his intimacy with American questions which have been uppermost during the past twenty years. His knowledge of them, and the surprising accuracy with which he criticized our national and state legislation, impressed upon my mind the fact that he must have derived his information from inside sources. But, indeed, this knowledge is not confined to America, but is spread over the face of Europe. When speaking of his hobby—socialism—he does not indulge in those melodramatic flights generally attributed to him, but dwells upon his utopian plans for “the emancipation of the human race” with a gravity and an earnestness indicating a firm conviction in the realization of his theories, if not in this century, at least in the next.