Supplementary Appendix: Georg Ernst Tatter

“Georg Ernst Tatter”
by Herr von Hedemann
Neues Hannoversches Magazin 74
(Friday, 14 September 1810) 1169–78

|1169| Examples of noble, excellent persons are always beneficent for the heart, illustrating and concretizing as they do for us those particular merits we have come to appreciate on the basis of more abstract acquaintance. Should such examples come from a man we ourselves have known, a man with whom we were more intimately connected, who was one of us insofar as he came into this world beneath the skies of this our own fatherland, we experience stronger, more subtle, and more deeply penetrating emotions and feelings. And, alas! we do need these more profound beneficent external impressions during a time when the harsh blows of fate have prevented us from participating in the fate of others, restricting us instead to our own palpable distress and to our more immediate surroundings.

These are the general considerations that have prompted me to publicize the brief biography in these same pages, composed largely by |1170| Hofrath Adelung in St. Petersburg, of Legation Secretary Georg Ernst Tatter, who died there on 16 April 1805.

Should any pardon be necessary in speaking about quiet virtues, then let me beg such from my readers for making them witnesses of my own recollections of this deceased friend. Tatter’s friends will welcome this celebration of his memory.

This memory connects the past with the immeasurable future, firmly holding the delicate bonds of a friendship grounded on true high esteem.

Tatter’s own friendship was unchangeable, as were all his views and disposition. His calm prudence examined and considered; his gentle devotion was characteristic of him, and his mild seriousness made it easy to take up with him, and one felt comfortable being around him.

|1171| The interesting acquaintances he had made in the way of countries and peoples he encountered along his journeys, and his broad acquaintance with the realm of generally worthwhile knowledge made him pleasant company. His company was instructive, never lecturing. Although he had a dignified appreciation of the good qualities he encountered in others, he also patiently tolerated and bore, in his own way, the faults of his friends, drawing the latter’s’ attention to them in a considerate way, without pointing such faults out more sharply unless required by genuine urgency; his reproach was amiable, never bitter. His entire being exhibited a quiet, unpretentious disposition that moved forward straightforwardly toward its positive goal without creeping or striding too forcefully.

The following biographical eulogy was read graveside at his funeral. On the initiative of the English envoy, Lord Gower, it was translated into French that it might be disseminated more widely, since the death of this excellent, upright man stirred emotions in all the circles of St. Petersburg, with many of the most illustrious persons in this grand imperial city expressing their grief at his passing.

von Hedemann

A simultaneously sacred and yet painfully sweet emotion is evoked when we recall and relate as a model to posterity the circumstances of the life of men |1172| as excellent as the one around whose coffin true friendship and profound grief at his irreplaceable loss has gathered us here today with rent hearts. And yet time has not yet sufficiently ameliorated our pain at losing this unforgettable man, our own breast yet cannot find sufficient words to present a picture, one worthy of the deceased, of his characteristics and the rare cultivation of his understanding and heart of the sort that indelibly characterized his life and career.

All of us here today knew — or rather, since with respect to this fortunate, noble man such was one and the same: we esteemed and loved him, indeed, the language of the purest friendship may certainly add without being suspected of panegyric flattery: we worshiped him; his memory will long remain precious to us, his example instructive, and his meritorious posthumous renown comforting, encouraging, and unforgettable.

The trembling hand of a grieving friend will present here but a few sketches of all the changing variety that characterized his career. He who clothed this beautiful stranger into the weak frame of mortality will also judge his spirit with fatherly consideration.

Georg Ernst Tatter was born in 1757 in Hannover. |1173| He was the eldest son of an upright father, who was a master gardener in Herrenhausen, and the loving brother of seventeen siblings. After laying the foundation of his education in his hometown, he entered the university in Göttingen, devoting himself for three years there and with exemplary diligence to the study of theology. Soon sensing, however, that his breast was too weak for the vocation of a public speaker, he renounced his first choice and resolved to study philosophy and politics, returning to that end to Göttingen, where he enthusiastically prepared himself for a new career. His comportment was so exemplary, winning him such universal respect, that the subsequent royal British field marshal, Imperial Count von Wallmoden-Gimborn, entrusted him with the guidance of his own two eldest sons, whom after a time Tatter also accompanied on journeys.

After his return, he accepted a position as private secretary with that same count, who at the time was an envoy at the Roman Imperial court. He remained with the count in Vienna until the latter returned to Hannover.

In 1786, the deceased received the position of legation secretary from the King of Great Britain, |1174| thereafter being appointed the instructor to the three royal princes, Ernst, Augustus, and Adolphus, the current dukes of Cumberland, Sussex, and Cambridge, whom he accompanied at the University of Göttingen, thereby acquiring the opportunity of attending this famous academic institution for yet a third time.

After a sojourn of five years in Göttingen, on the orders of the king in 1792, he joined Prince Augustus, who had already commenced his trip to Italy, and accompanied the prince to Rome, thence, after six months, to England. Here he spent a year living close to his royal charge before commencing a new journey to Italy with him, where he then spent four and a half years devoting himself to his obligations and academic disciplines.

At the end of 1797, he left Italy — for which he harbored genuine yearning for the rest of his life — and returned to Hannover, where he was received with warm friendship by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. This prince loved the deceased with particular tenderness, of which he constantly provided the most flattering demonstrations. The prince never forgot the merit of his friend’s influence |1175| especially on the excellent moral cultivation that so advantageously distinguishes him [the prince], always acknowledging such both loudly and gratefully.

In the summer of 1800, the deceased was again called to England and, after his arrival, immediately appointed seated [“real”] legation secretary to the Electoral Hannoverian embassy at the Russian court. He arrived here in St. Petersburg in November of that same year with the envoy, Count von Münster, and during his stay of more than four years won undivided respect and love both here and everywhere he went. After Count von Münster was recalled to London, the deceased’s king appointed him Legation Counselor, accrediting him as chargé d’affaires at the imperial court here. An illness of two months, the result of dropsy caused by earlier podagra, ended his irreproachable career on 4 (16 April) 1805.

Thus his public life, which concluded with an equally exemplary death. — It would be difficult to describe this complete man of the world, the restless scholar, noble human being, loyal son and brother, unshakeable friend, and practical Christian if every member of this grieving assembly |1176| had not already had the occasion to become eminently acquainted with him in at least some capacity.

The deceased was a scholar in the broad sense of the word. For many years he was one of the most prolific collaborators of the famous Göttingsche Anzeigen, contributing a large number of quite excellent reviews of antiquarian and statistical pieces concerning especially Italy. — He enjoyed, to an extraordinary degree, the most intimate contact with Lichtenberg, Kästner, Heyne, Schlözer, Pütter, and other great men associated with the Göttingen university, also gaining the admiration and respect of the most excellent scholars in all countries through which his honorable vocation took him. People were everywhere keen on doing justice to both his heart, cultivated in the noblest humanity, and his intellect, ennobled by the most varied knowledge and practical life wisdom.

Several foreign scholarly societies were honored to appoint him a member, including the Royal Academy of Science in Naples and the Arcadian Society in Rome, and their premiere scholars remained in |1177| contact with him through uninterrupted correspondence even during his absence.

Such was the goodness, such the excellence of him whose earthly remains we today |1178| return to the earth, whose name will live long among us, and whose respectful and loving memory will never fade among us.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott