Letter 125c

125c. Georg Ernst Tatter to Luise Michaelis in Göttingen: Rome 11 May 1793 [*]

Rome 11 May 1793

I received your letter of 18 April yesterday evening and read it with — should I really tell you with what feelings? You have likely already received my letters of 26 April and 4 May to your dear mother, of which the first was one to you expressing my unspeakable grief at the loss of our unforgettably dear Lotte. [1] A few days ago I received a letter from Philipp in Florence, posted on the 6th, in which he related to me his fear concerning C[aroline], and that someone had written and told him that a certain Madam B[öhmer] had been arrested with Madam Wedekind, [2] he then hoping the former would not turn out to be C[aroline]. — You yourself can judge how your own more thorough details in this matter could not but have affected me. I know of nothing I can say, nothing I can advise, nothing I can do. Perhaps things have already been addressed, which for me would be a gift from heaven. In such cases, it is futile to try to express one’s emotions. Neither, indeed, can I think of anything to say to C[aroline] herself. She knows me. Any letter I send to her would be delivered by a third party, hence it is quite impossible to write openly. She is also aware that I never concurred with the ideas that have caused her current embarrassing predicament; even the remotest suspicion that I might allow myself to reproach her would be an abomination to me. My entire circumstances and situation, however, do not permit even the faintest appearance of my being in any way involved in this matter, [3] nor can my letters evoke such were they to fall into the hands of her investigators along her other papers, since from the very outset I unequivocally declared my opposition to the entire enterprise; indeed, one of my penultimate letters contains a discussion of the reasons for my behavior. It saddens me to consider the consequences of these sad developments, suffering as I do as much for her as for myself.

Believe me, my dear Louise, very few moments pass during the day that I do not think of your good mother with such a heavy heart that I would like to weep just to ease it. Do everything you can to ease her fate; let that be your sole task now. Of course, the deceased no longer needs our help; but the most worthy sacrifice we can make to her memory is to give doubly to those whom she loved, her mother and her child, what we previously distributed among them.

If possible, please send me soon what I previously requested as a remembrance of Lotte. [4] At the end of this month we will be leaving here in order initially to take up residence in Como or some other locale in Lombardy. General von Gmelin, however, will take care of our letters regardless of where we might be. My health is still not yet stable and dependable, I spent three days this past week in bed with a fever and angina, and my podagra is acting up again; I have almost given up hope of ever being genuinely healthy again.

Please pass along my most cordial, sympathetic regards to our good Dieterich, for whom I feel so, so sorry. Please also give my regards to his parents, who must be quite stricken. Such distraction is not always salutary; for me at least it generally makes a bad situation worse.

Please continue to be favorably disposed toward me, my dear Louise; our group is shrinking, hence let us cling all the more tightly to one another. I do hope C[aroline’s] health does not suffer irreparably! I am very apprehensive in that regard. Please relate as much as possible to me about everything, it is all of such concern to me. Stay very well, I for my part will always remain just who I was.


Herr von Hanstein has specifically charged me with sending you his regards.


[*] Source: Luise Wiedemann, Erinnerungen 106–7. — Concerning Tatter’s presence in Rome, see the editorial note to his letter to Luise on 27 April 1793 (letter 123a). For Luise’s reaction to Tatter’s behavior in the matter concerning Caroline’s imprisonment, cf. ibid., p. 81. Back.

[1] Lotte Michaelis had died on 2 April 1793 after complications from childbirth. Concerning the circumstances and the resulting scandal, see Georg Tatter’s letter to Luise Michaelis on 27 April 1793 with note 1. Tatter’s earlier letters to Luise Michaelis (letters 123a and 125c) are dated 27 April and 11 May 1793. Back.

[2] The reference (if he is not thinking instead of Meta Forkel, née Wedekind) is either to Sophia Magdalena Wedekind (with whom Caroline was genuinely arrested) or Luise Wilhelmine Wedekind (who was arrested later and joined Caroline and her traveling companions in Königstein). Back.

[3] Tatter had been accompanying Prince Augustus in Italy. Back.

[4] Concerning this request, see Tatter’s remark in his letter to Luise on 27 April 1793 (letter 123a). Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott