EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed ('Albert') to his first wife, Mileva, n.p. [Berlin], 15 September 1914, 3 pages, 8vo, bifolium.
'NOTHING YOU COULD DO COULD POSSIBLY SURPRISE ME'. The letter responds to complaints by Mileva both about Einstein's financial provision for her and the children, and also about the division of furniture from their shared flat. Einstein finds her financial complaints 'incomprehensible', and lists two recent payments, not to mention the costs of moving house, in which he has kept very little of their household furniture for himself, just 'the blue sofa, the farmhouse table [Bauerntisch], two beds (originally from my mother's house), the writing table, the little chest of drawers from my grandparents' house', and by accident also the electric lamp that Mileva wished for, although the war-time conditions make it impossible to return it to Switzerland. Returning to the financial question he declares 'I would have sent you more money, but I have no more myself, to the extent that I wouldn't be able to survive without assistance': he has also had to pay for his mother's operation [for abdominal cancer]. He will however send 400 Swiss francs each month as soon as his salary comes through. 'Ich selbst lebe denkbar einfach, fast ärmlich [For myself, I live as simply as possible, almost in poverty]', and he hopes by such economies to be able to save something to leave to the children. The letter ends with a bitter response to Mileva's threat to beg others for financial support, describing this as the 'punishment for the weakness which led me to bind my life to yours. But I repeat: Nothing you could do could possibly surprise me'.
Characteristically, the letter contains no direct reference to the First World War, which had broken out six weeks previously, and was to make communication, meetings and the transfer of money between the separated couple so difficult over the ensuing four years.