Supplementary Appendix 119.2

Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring writes to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 29 January 1793 (Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring, 608 [not 600 as in Schmidt (1913), 1:700]):

Unfortunately, there is but one opinion concerning Forster’s situation, namely, that he cannot be saved as far as his future in Germany is concerned.

Böhmer is still quite busy as Custine’s secretary. Besides Huber, Madam Böhmer [Waitz (1871), 1:113n2, adds: “the widow”], bears the bulk of responsibility for Forster’s misfortune.

Sömmerring writes to Heyne from Frankfurt on 19 March 1793 (ibid., 612–13):

I cannot describe to you how it grieves me to see Forster so deceived. Molitor, Weidmann, Gichtel, etc. are hardly able to describe how upset he is. — People are saying he has at least in part lost his senses.

Back in December, when Therese had hardly been gone even a few days after having been advised to do so by Huber, Madam Forkel asked me whether it was indeed true that Forster had divorced his wife and married Madam Böhmer. She seemed genuinely surprised when I assured her such was utterly impossible. About a month ago, Forster himself complained to Molitor, saying he — Forster — was indeed an unhappy man insofar as his wife was sitting in Neuchâtel with Huber.

And now I see that the same rumor has been making the rounds in Göttingen as well. Even though Forster himself believed it, I can assure you that it is quite false, since I myself saw Huber often up till 26 February and have it from his own mouth that he returned to Saxony on the 27th. Notwithstanding that apparently he himself, together with Madam Böhmer and Therese, misled Forster into taking the most weighty steps, here he nonetheless chided Forster for having gone too far and for having exaggerated the whole thing.

I hinted to Forster that he might want to give some thought to his own security; whether he did so I cannot say.

I would never have thought him capable of such infantile actions as growing a moustache as a sign of his satisfaction at the execution of the king.

(Almanach der Revolutions Opfer für das Jahr 1794; Revolutions-Almanach von 1794; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Schmidt (1913), 1:700, remarks how Heyne’s own blind antipathy knew no bounds. Although it is difficult to determine exactly when Caroline and Auguste departed for Mainz, Georg Forster had written Heyne back on 10 January 1792 (“Ungedruckte Briefe Georg Forsters: IV. An Christian Gottlob Heyne,” Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, xlviii [1894] no. 93, 23–63, here 49):

I have a couple of requests to make of you, good Father. . . . The other is the following: Should you already have read and finished with the Asiatick Researches, might you be so kind as to give the book to Frau Doktorin Böhmer [Caroline’s form of address as the widow of a physician], who will be traveling here at the end of January, but under the explicit condition that she bring the book herself rather than, as did the Mademoiselles Morrien, pack it in with the baggage the driver will be bringing along later.

It is clear from the following, however, that Caroline was still in Göttingen in mid-February, for Heyne writes to Forster on 17 February 1792, apparently just as Caroline is about to depart Göttingen for Mainz (Albert Leitzmann, “Aus Heynes Briefen an seine Tochter Therese und seine Schwiegersöhne Forster und Huber,” Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen 121 [1908], 10):

Surely Madam Böhmer will finally begin making serious arrangements to depart. She is an utterly heartless woman, nothing but a tiny intellect, full of vanity, conceit, and falsity; her sister’s [Lotte Michaelis, who was implicated by association in Elise Bürger’s scandal] depravity at least has a foundation in her temperament. But she [Caroline] lacks even that.

Heyne writes to Huber on 3 September 1793, after the fall of Mainz (Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen 121 [1908], 13):

Therese should have stayed completely out of politics, and that diabolical woman, Madam Böhmer, should never have been drawn into things.

And finally to Huber in November 1793 (ibid. 14 [not 94 as in Schmidt [1913], 1:701]):

I was unaware of the most disgraceful story of all, namely, that the pasquinade had been sent to Therese. What a horrific game of passions! . . . That depraved creature, Madam Böhmer, who was reckoned as her [Therese’s] friend, connected a whole series of ideas [compromising Therese]. For a female more wretched and as unworthy of any and all respect can hardly be found; how was anyone even able to tolerate her?

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott