I spent almost another full year in Göttingen with Hoquel, whom I have already mentioned several times above; I was drawn to him from the outset, and we soon became the closest of friends. His father, a German, had acquired great wealth in Lisbon and wanted his son, on whose education he had spent considerable sums by sending him to Germany with a private tutor when he was still a boy, to pursue a diplomatic career in a Protestant country; and, indeed, this young man seemed to possess the most excellent talents for such a career.
His external appearance made an advantageous impression even at first glance. He was of medium stature, quite handsomely built, and was skilled in all the physical sports. His fair hair and white skin certainly did no harm to the appearance of his face, in which nobility and refinement predominated, while the gleem in his eye and the paleness of his face betrayed an inner fire whenever he was emotionally moved. He spoke fluent English and French, expressed himself elegantly in German, and was welcome in every society because of his gift of easy conversation.
(Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1810: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet [Frankfurt]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):
His father’s plans for him, however, were not his own. His ambition was focused on nothing less than a reform to which he wanted to contribute in his fatherland, Portugal. At his mother’s death bed, he had promised her, a Portuguese, that he would convert to Catholicism, and it was through such a change of religion that he hoped to pave the way to influential posts for himself.
Several distinguished Portuguese whom he met abroad, including, I believe, a certain Count Oynhausen, had encouraged these ambitions. These acquaintances had familiarized him in detail with the situation at court and with the character and weaknesses of persons one might exploit or whom one would need to topple in order to gain power and introduce a new order with the concurrence of the nation itself. He spoke enthusiastically about this nation’s talents and about the immeasurable advantages a more efficacious and expedient treatment of its colonies might bring about for it.
Countless revolutionary ideas were already fermenting in his head. He was familiar with the stories of all the plots. His favorite books included the memoires of Cardinal Retz.  The direction this focus had given his understanding had sharpened his sense of observation quite early and developed in him a considerable adroitness at picking up on and exploiting a person’s weaknesses to his own ends. He always welcomed an intrigue through which something good might be attained. Although he would never have used this talent for low, selfish purposes, things were quite different when ambitious purposes were involved, and such was indeed already the case with respect to satisfying a passion of a different sort.
To wit, shortly after his arrival in Göttingen he became quite seriously attracted to a very bright and lively young girl, Lotte Michaelis, who later captivated several other distinguished young men as well, including Alexander von Humboldt [who studied in Göttingen beginning in April 1789]. Despite the anxious concern of her parents, and the jealous attention of her elder sister [Caroline], he still managed to find ways to maintain contact with her, so that the family finally decided to remove the girl from Göttingen altogether and to carefully guard the secret of her new whereabouts; through collusion with certain people in the house, however, he soon succeeded in discovering the locale.
(Jakob Gottlieb Thelott, Liebespaar mit Dienerin [ca. 1728–60]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JGThelott WB 3.3):
She was living with an aunt in Gotha, and he immediately took the opportunity provided by the next academic break to travel there; he sought out the aunt and would not be deterred by any difficulties, until finally he had so charmed the aunt that she herself looked favorably on the young couple’s amorous inclinations.
Hoquel’s entire soul was captivated by this passion, and this relationship, had it continued, would presumably have taken his own fate in a completely different direction. But he discovered quite by accident that the object of his inclination in Gotha had hatched yet a second intrigue [presumably with August Kotzebue; see Therese Forster’s letter to Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring (letter 98a), and Kotzebue’s own letter to a Göttingen student on 22 October 1781 (letter 25a)], and after vehement inner struggles he completely withdrew from this relationship.
 Jean François Paul de Gondi de Retz, Mémoires de monsieur le cardinal de Retz (Amsterdam 1717). Back.
Translation © 2011 Doug Stott