Supplementary Appendix: The Mainz Clubbists

Die Mainzer Klubbisten zu Königstein, oder Die Weiber decken einander die Schanden auf, ed. Dr. Franz Blei, Deutsche Litteratur-Pasquille 4 (Leipzig 1907).

The Mainz Clubbists
in Königstein
How the Women Exposed
their Mutual Shame
A Tragicomic Play
in One Act

Dramatis Personae

Citizen Madam Böhmer, a widow who promises much and delivers little.
Citizen Madam Forkel, day laborer in the English translation factory of Citizen Forster, Deputy in the Mainz National Convention.
Citizen Madam Essbeck, formerly of the nobility, now Club lector.
Citizen Madam Wehdekind, mother of the grand arch-citizen Wehdekind.
Citizen Madam Wehdekind, wife of the arch-citizen Wehdekind.
Aloysius Franziskus Xaverius Ignatius Loyola Blau, professor of democratic dogmatics in Mainz.
Arnsperger, unbridled chaplain in Kassel, in Bingen.
Scheuer, police commissioner and proclamation herald in Mainz.
Reit, duodecimo scholar from Mainz
Arand, the most learned pastor in the locale nearest Mainz, regens and wine merchant in the seminary, pastor in Kristoph, Doctor baccal, Biblic. Stultiss. formatus & bombasticus, real auxiliary bishop, archbishop in petto.
Commandant of Königstein.


Scene I
Room of Citizen Madam Böhmer.

Citizen Madam Böhmer; Citizen Madam Wehdekind, the mother; Citizen Madam Forkel.

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, the mother. Alas! Just look where my son’s madness, blindness, and worthlessness have landed me, a poor old woman with one foot in the grave!

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Well, you are certainly unworthy to be the mother of such a great man! But I shall forgive you and attribute such language to your initial pain and your age.

Citizen Madam Forkel. If you keep carrying on like that, Mama, I will be forced to make a motion to the commandant to have you immediately banned from this room and from our assembly here.

Citizen Madam Wehdekind. Well, I would certainly lose scant comfort in you, you rude, excessively wayward daughter, you. But what in God’s name were you thinking when you decided to set out and deliver yourselves up right into the hands of our enemies?

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Citizen Clausius, our brother in faith, promised so solemnly to guide us in complete safety through all the advanced positions and dangerous areas that, since it was impossible anyway to get through by way of Oppenheim, that we really had no choice but to entrust ourselves to this experienced man.

Citizen Madam Forkel. A man who has already seen half the |8| world on his travels, a man who is very smart indeed and who has a good understanding of human beings, indeed a man lacking absolutely nothing except that he should have joined the Society of the Friends of Liberty and Equality.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Who would have believed that the Prussians would already have sunk so low beneath true human dignity and the nobility of freedom that they would arrest three harmless women?

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, the mother. How can you babble on like that about “true human dignity” and “harmless women”? Did not you yourselves run around all day with Clubbists? Did not you yourselves put yourselves on public display as some “heroines of liberty”? Did not you yourselves loudly berate the citizens of Mainz for not wanting to swear the oath of allegiance? Did not you yourselves advise others to use the most extreme violence against them? and agitate and incite for all you were worth, and then even boast of all these things?

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Indeed, we did all that, and had to do it were we ever to make the cowardly, indecisive, fainthearted souls of this grand, sanctimonious city of clerics — as Forster so accurately refers to them in his immortal periodicals — finally make a decision that might ensure them eternal happiness, turn their city into the premier commercial center in all Germany, annihilate Frankfurt, that den of murderers of the noble French, and finally break the chains amid which Mainz has been groaning for so long.

Citizen Madam Forkel. And even though these citizens of Mainz are clearly unworthy of such grand beneficence, and reward it only with ingratitude, this does not disturb true democrats, who are magnanimous enough to bring happiness even to the ungrateful, and even against their will.

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, the mother. Well, all that is just too lofty for me to understand. I certainly did hear people groaning in Mainz, but only because of French chains.

Citizen Madam Böhmer (sotto voce to Citizen Madam Forkel). We will have to have patience and forbearance with the old woman; otherwise we will be utterly unable to endure it. Let us change the subject. These wooden chairs are not nearly as comfortable as Forster’s canapé.

Citizen Madam Forkel. That is, not as comfortable as after his wife left, since before her departure that particular place was always reserved for Madam Forster and Huber.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Ah, if that canapé could only speak, what do you think it would say? —

Citizen Madam Forkel. Not much less about you yourself than about Madam Forster.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. And by a long shot not as much as Forster’s office would say about you during those long hours you spent there going over your English translations with him. In that respect you had it even better than I, since you were engaged in that work even while Madam Forster was still there, and without her disturbing you in the slightest, since during those times she could see to her own business with Huber all the more undisturbed herself.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Well, you yourself adequately demonstrated after Madam Forster’s departure that you certainly are a master of slander.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Ah, well, can you yourself really deny that, when you were all alone with Forster in his room, he never, ever touched you? —

Citizen Madam Forkel. Forster loved his wife far too much to even think about such a thing as long as she was present.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. (As long as she was present!?) Nicely put. But how about in her absence?

Citizen Madam Forkel (blushing). You interrogate me as if we were in a courtroom.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. That you blush suffices for me, not least because, frankly, I thought you no longer even capable of blushing.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Well, had I gone as far as you, though I must say you are indeed still capable of changing color, since you certainly turned white as a ghost when the Prussians arrested us. And even if I do count for something with Forster, at least I never chose the path you allowed yourself to choose.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. I “allowed” myself nothing more than to open his eyes to the real reasons his wife made such a sudden departure, and that much I — — — owed him as his friend.

Citizen Madam Forkel. As a friend, you were obliged to conceal his wife’s mistakes, her errors, her weaknesses and shortcomings under the cloak of love, to place them into the gentlest light, and to excuse them, and all the more so considering you spent nearly half your stay in Mainz with Madam Forster, enjoying all the benefits and blessings of your daily contact with a basically very good woman. That, my fine moralist, is what you owed him.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. And did I not do exactly that? Indeed, I remained absolutely silent until I could no longer avoid heeding the all-too-clear voice of my conscience.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Ah, you hypocrite! You remained absolutely silent until you calculated that your words would indeed make exactly the disastrous impression you planned, an impression you could expect to achieve only with the help of extraordinary circumstances. Instead of diverting Madam Forster from her unworthy passion for the wholly pathetic Huber, who |11| stole his way into Forster’s house like a burglar and stole away every shred of peace and every shred of happiness, —

Citizen Madam Böhmer (interrupting). You fool, you know the human heart all too well; anything I might have said in this respect would only have poured oil on the fire.

Citizen Madam Forkel. You yourself poured this oil, the only difference being that you did it actively with Forster himself — and both actively and passively with Madam Forster — instead of diverting her, you sooner flattered her passion, stoked it, needled her vanity, were so clever and efficient in teasing her with him that ultimately her passion turned to rage, rage that through Huber’s departure for Frankfurt — as soon as the French entered Mainz — escalated horrifically and finally erupted.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. You view everything I did from the most distorted perspective possible. You do recall that every evening, instead of dinner, there was tea amid considerable company at the Forsters, when newspapers were read and then discussed in the utmost degree of enlightenment and mutual love. At these assemblies, Madam Forster presided as president whenever Huber was not there, democraticizing, revolting, insulting, and upsetting all the so-called grand gentlemen with courage and eloquence that could only provoke imitation and competition. But if Huber was there, she caressed; and since democraticizing and caressing stem from the same source in women, so much so that when they can no longer caress because of old age or some other circumstance, they democraticize all the more annoyingly — as you yourself have seen Citizen Madam Essbeck do in so exemplary a fashion — so also did Madam Forster alternately engage in first the one, and then the other, and with the most exemplary success.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Ah, but when I recall these assemblies |12| over tea, where the fortunes of the obtuse citizens of Mainz were organized, debated, and discussed, the prince and coadjutor deposed, the nobility abolished, the self-conceited clerics kicked in their derrière, all the administrators gotten rid of, and our brethren placed on the throne — when I recall what great, even immortal men they all were who — assisted in establishing this eternal project over tea — and then compare it with our situation now, alas! it makes me want to scratch out the eyes of Citizen Clausius and — dissolve in tears! (Sinks down with both arms on the table, pitifully pulls out her handkerchief, gazes toward heaven, and — cries out) But that does not excuse you from answering me concerning all your ill behavior with Forster and Madam Forster.

Citizen Madam Böhmer (with a contemptuous look). You pitiful soul, unable to bear your misfortune, knowing neither how to live free nor to die, far be it from me to withhold any explanation from you. — As the Saxon chargé d’affaires, Huber had to leave Mainz as soon as the French approached the city, something certainly perfectly according with his natural inclination to cowardice. It was he who inoculated Madam Forster with democracy after, as Citizen Madam Dorsch so accurately put it, she had picked him up off the street like an unwashed bear and taken him into her house, where it would be all the easier for her to lick him clean. Then it was she who, with her own fire, electrified Forster himself, who, amiable and weak, initially shrank back from the French atrocities and accordingly also from capitulation . And so what at first was a rather trivial matter yielded the grandest, most useful action any person can engage in, namely, democratic proselytizing.

Citizen Madam Forkel. If only someone had inoculated me with democracy like this! Even Milton’s brush, when he paints |13| this blissful moment between Adam and Eve with absolutely unsurpassed colors, would be but that of a bungler compared to the feeling that would then swell my breast! But alas, my own husband is a musical boor with whom that sort of platonic, democratic embrace and inoculation are out of the question.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Well, then Huber wrote constantly to Madam Forster from Frankfurt about everything that was going on there — and not going on — in the way of anti-democratic activities. Each evening, at tea, Madam Forster then read those letters aloud — excerpts only, of course — in a tone of voice — and on the same canapé — in a tone of voice, — indeed, often with an emotion echoed by the elastic canapé. Forster noticed nothing. I, however, caught it all. After the unfortunate affair in Frankfurt, Madam Forster began to rage because she thought she had lost Huber or at least was in danger of losing him. But he soon consoled her with a touching missive that portrayed this gruesome massacre, the faithlessness of the citizens of Frankfurt against the French, the way they were dragged about on frames and carved up both alive and dead by Frankfurt butchers, like oxen, and the knives the Frankfurt citizens had specially made for just that purpose — he described all this so plaintively, in such detail, and with such truth that nothing was missing but a few wooden tables to enable him to trumpet this outrageous tale of murder to the most approving applause at every fair and in every marketplace. In response to this letter, which immediately became known to everyone, Citizen General Custine really had no choice but to set the entire city in flames and turn that second Sodom into a pile of ashes; that it did not happen, as is well known, Frankfurt owes solely to that hero’s magnanimity. From that point on, Madam Forster became increasingly depressed. Huber was no longer able to leave Frankfurt, |14| her correspondence with him became increasingly difficult, and she began thinking of nothing but how to reunite with this idol of her heart and her sensuality — and suddenly — she — the cornerstone of the women’s Club, she, the spouse of Forster himself, of the almighty Forster of the Mainz Revolution, would not cease from plying her husband with a thousand serpentine tricks until he finally gave in and allowed her to leave with her children to avoid the persecutions of the aristocrats, of the people of Mainz, of the anti-Clubbists, and every possible sort of danger with which she so vividly deluded him.

Citizen Madam Forkel. And it was here that you were lying in wait for her, and now — your own role in this story begins — about which I myself would like to say a few words now. You saw Forster sink into the most wretched depression, but without suspecting the real reason his wife departed from him, and you were — disgraceful enough tear his heart apart not only by relating the true reason, but also with absolutely false secondary circumstances. You — told him that his wife had arranged this trip with Huber, had thrown herself into his arms, was living with him in Neufchâtel, was already married to him, and had completely renounced her husband. And yet the whole time you knew all too well that Huber could not leave his post in Frankfurt, and that he only left it long afterward, after a certain court had let him know in no uncertain terms that he was being viewed as a democratic spy, and then advised and indeed ordered him to resign despite his all-too-servile and all-too-vile asseverations to the contrary. Your intent, however, was to ensnare Forster in your own net, to make him your husband, to move to Paris with him — who had long dreamed of nothing else and whom perhaps this plan alone might have made into a true democrat — as deputy of the Mainz |15| National Convention, and then to play the important, grand, learned lady both there and in Mainz, and —

Citizen Madam Böhmer. I have listened to your insults long enough and with as much composure as possible. If ever I did have a certain weakness for Forster, I could certainly be excused for it; — I am a widow, with no attachments whatsoever. You, on the other hand — are married, the wife of another man, and yet as often as it pleases you, you leave your husband to wander around in the world like a licentious harlot, belonging to no one, and everyone. And yet you now have the nerve to reproach me, you who yourself joined in on every occasion when Madam Forster and her flight with Huber were being castigated. Why did you not step up to defend her innocence? Why did you let Forster continue under the illusion that Huber was not in Frankfurt, but with his wife? Admit it, was it not because you yourself stood to profit from it?

Citizen Madam Forkel. I was trying to protect you, avoid exposing you as a lying, ambitious, false, wicked creature whose “democracy” is in fact not so very pure at all, having instead arrogance as its source; indeed, if the nobility had paid but even a little attention to you, it never would have occurred to you to take up that cause.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Silence, you vagabond! So your own reasons were purer? or did you perhaps not become a democrat precisely so you could run around without inhibition and cater to all your sensual desires?

Citizen Wehdekind, the mother. Well are you two nor fine examples of womanhood? You, Madam Forkel, deserve to be the sister of your brother Wehdekind. What transgression have I committed for heaven to punish me with two such abominations? (Weeps.)


Scene 2.
The previous.

The commandant enters.

Commandant. I have come to see whether anyone needs anything.

Citizen Madam Böhmer (melodramatically). The most precious gift heaven can offer: liberty, and through it: everything — everything. Daily we burned incense on its altars, sacrificed to it our most valuable gifts, broke our virginal knots, daily expanded its realm, and now — behold our reward! Alas! I die! —

Citizen Madam Forkel. Citizen Commandant!

Commandant. Madam, unfortunately I must forbid the use of the otherwise venerable title “citizen” by anyone in whose mouth it has become merely the slogan of all abomination.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. What am I hearing? Such blasphemy awakens me from dead! Ah, spirit of Brutus, strengthen my arm that it may put an end to this tyranny!

Citizen Madam Forkel. Herr Commandant, do not let this eruption disturb you. (Aside.) She sometimes seems a bit mad.

Commandant. I can pardon much in such situations. But do tell me, do you need anything?

Citizen Madam Forkel. Ah, Herr Commandant! Might you not allow us some tea?

Commandant. I will not only allow it, but also fetch it immediately at my own expense if such might refresh you.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Ah, you are too kind, and yet — I would request |17| another favor of that kindness. Every evening in Mainz, around this time of day, we all drank tea at the house of a mutual friend; all our friends gathered round, and we spent the happiest, most useful hours of our lives in just this modest company. But several of those friends are languishing here under the same fate as ours; might you not permit all of them to come here and take part in a small celebration of remembrance we would like to conduct?

Commandant. In no other wise but in my own presence, and, this room being as small as it is, in my own room as well, where I will immediately make arrangements.

Scene 3.
Citizens Madam Böhmer, Forkel, and Wehdekind.

Citizen Forkel. Well, was that not a clever idea? We will get tea that costs us nothing, a select company, and a chance to pass the time in a way we direly need given our monotonous life here. I came up with it all solely to calm you, for I cannot stay angry with anyone, and I really do think that, in the end, there is not very much for us to reproach each other with.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. If only we didn’t owe our small celebration to such an arrogant aristocrat who is — ashamed of the noble name “citizen”! My blood is still boiling for having to listen to such blasphemy without being able to exact instant revenge.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Let us not be too particular in our circumstances. Why not instead try enlisting all your powers in converting the commandant?

Citizen Madam Böhmer. I prefer not to waste my energy on such aristocratic rabble.

(The guard opens the door halfway, sticks his head in, and calls out.) You women are to get yourselves to the commandant. So, come along, get going.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. What an impertinent lackey of despots.

Scene 4.
The commandant’s room.
Citizen Madam Wehdekind, Citizen Madam Essbeck,
Citizens Madam Böhmer, Forkel, Wehdekind (the mother), the commandant.

Citizen Madam Wehdekind. God, my mother-in-law! (She runs into her arms, both are speechless, weeping.)

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, mother (after a pause). Just look at where the madness, blindness, and nonsense of your husband and my son have gotten us!

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, daughter. Alas! you are my witnesses to how often I implored him to stop and to live instead solely for his family and profession — but in vain; deaf to all my wishes, unfeeling toward all my tears, unfeeling even toward the illness my grief brought on me, and yet otherwise — the very best husband! —

Citizen Madam Forkel. Well, my dear sister, you say not a word to me.

Citizen Madam Wehdekind, daughter. I have nothing, absolutely nothing more to say to either you or Madam Böhmer.

Commandant. Well, it seems to me you would all do better to have your tea and talk about more pleasant things.


Scene 5.
Citizen Madam Essbeck, Citizens Blau, Arnsperger, Scheuer. The previous.

Citizen Madam Essbeck. Citizen Commandant. (Citizen Madam Forkel pulls on her coatsleeve and whispers in her ear.) Herr Commandant, (the commandant frowns), I despaired of ever finding another spark of human love in this bastille, but your example has taught me differently, and I wager you are one of those few more noble souls who sigh in secret that the aristocrats, over against bourgeois values, which are even now in full gallop — (stutters and catches herself) — expanding even — to Kassel and indeed across all of Europe (to herself: alas! if only my prompter were here!), indeed, that the aristocrats are once again putting chains on those virtues. Venerable Chaplain in Kassel, Citizen Arnsperger —

Commandant. Your imagination is taking you back to the Club; you are obviously accustomed to reading aloud, not to learning by heart. I sigh both in secret and out loud that the bourgeois virtues are indeed in full gallop such that one cannot but put them in chains. But do go ahead and drink.

Arnsperger to Essbeck. Keep silent, my lady friend. You have not sufficiently studied the discourse of your tutor.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Citizen Blau! You seem yet extraordinarily worn out and exhausted. Do have a cup of tea, which will certainly refresh you, and come sit next to me.

Citizen Blau. My entire back is black and blue, and hardly a square inch on my entire body is healthy; during our transport through Frankfurt we were shoved, beaten, kicked, thrown about, and from Frankfurt to here it was |20| even worse, since even the officer himself took the liberty of beating us with his own high hands.

Arnsperger. I did not fare much better, but that cursed aristocratic rabble in Frankfurt will one day pay dearly for it after Citizen Stamm, their most irreconcilable enemy, hears about it all. Jericho itself did not tumble into rubble from the sounds of trumpets the way this wicked nest will crumble before the fiery gaze of this excellent young man! Those fellows understand nothing but money, and because they did not earn as much as they could have, they fall upon every democrat in a blind rage. And they complain about having to pay to General Custine a petty million for the good fortune he offered them, and yet pay absolutely no attention to the several hundred million they lost by rejecting, in their petty imperial arrogance, this refined good fortune of liberty and equality. Stingy cheese merchants, just as Citizen Forster irrefutably demonstrated, is what they are, with absolutely no sense for anything grand, for —

Scheuer. If I may say a word . . . The beatings, the kicking, the eggs people threw in my face, I could have gotten over all that had I not had to go — by foot — I of all people! who in my administrative duties as commissioner of police always paraded on horseback, with my sash, my blue frock, all the women’s and girls’ hearts and gaze directed at me, surrounded by 25 cavalrymen with drawn sabers, I amid majestic pomp declaiming to the assembled people the magnificent, beneficent proclamations of the sublime Custine — I, on foot — and bound! — When the fairer sex in Mainz hears this, they will dissolve in tears.

Blau (with a transfigured gaze). Alas! I have endured it all |21| like a saint, and — praise God for having not placed my most intimate friend Dorsch in such circumstances.

Arnsperger. Brother, calm yourself. As soon as our deputy at the national assembly, Georg Forster, hears about these abuses perpetrated by the citizens of Frankfurt, he will immediately have the Mainz hostages guillotined as our satisfaction, declare Frankfurt free, and dispatch Custine and an army of six hundred thousand men to liberate us.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. May heaven grant that! and our revenge then will be both terrible and grand. Heaven itself will entrust us with its thunder that we may topple all tyrants from their thrones.

Commandant (to himself). And put yourselves on those same thrones, that you may then behave yet ten times worse.

Scene 6.
The previous. Citizen Reit.

Arnsperger. Behold! Citizen Reit!

Citizen Reit. Ladies and gentlemen, I am your most devoted servant.

Arnsperger. Have you been here long, Citizen Reit?

Reit (indignantly). I am a scholar, and just as one is to say according to status: Citizen President, Citizen General, so also am I due the title Citizen Scholar!

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Might I ask in which scholarly discipline you earned this comely title?

Reit (playing with his snuffbox and taking his snuff with lofty circumstance). |22| In all except theology, which I consider superfluous to the well-being of the human race and indeed even harmful. Presently my primary strength resides in the discipline of political science. I wrote an introduction to an Italian historiographer whom I translated, an introduction surpassing everything Veri, Genovesi, Montesquieu, Mably, and, in a word, all the most famous men in this discipline have ever said.

Arnsperger. But that cannot be everything. I recall having heard about various dramatic, poetic, prosaic, philosophical, historical, democratic products of your fine intellect, all alleged masterpieces.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. I must definitely get to know such a man better.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Why did you keep yourself withdrawn from our admiration for so long, Citizen Scholar?

Blau. For no other reason than Citizen Scholar’s extraordinary modesty, with whose philosophical works I confess I am unfamiliar, my personal rule being to read nothing but Kant and Dorsch, the two greatest German philosophers.

Citizen Reit. Please do not shame me; I myself must confess that in the present, unfortunate epoch my own muse would fall completely silent were my stomach in accord, since little fame is to be gained now through writing. But . . . I must eat and drink each day, and attend the theater and concerts; my talents have brought me into contact with certain alliances, and all this together keeps my quill in constant motion.

Citizen Madam Forkel. What are you talking about, Citizen Scholar? Never was more fame and profit to be gained — the latter being even more essential — |23| than precisely now! Are you familiar with the excellent publications of the Mainz Clubb?

Arnsperger. But of course! He must be familiar with them, since he himself was a Clubbist.

Reit (to himself). Disgraceful cleric.

Blau. And an extremely diligent Clubbist at that, who missed not a single one of our meetings.

Reit (to himself). Damned Jesuit! These two have it in for me. I need to deflect them. (Out loud.) Ah, yes, Madam Forkel, I am as familiar with these writings as with all the Italian, Spanish, French, English, Dutch, Swedish, and other writings that appear throughout the year.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. And despite this enormous reading also an author!

Arnsperger. And — to cite Ossian, the more secret object of the desires of all the handsome girls and women in Mainz.

Citizen Blau. So much so that in the house where he was employed as a tutor, both mother and daughter fell in love with Citizen Scholar at the same time, thereupon falling into a jealous rage against each other, whereupon Citizen Reit, despairing of being able to satisfy both women, fled the house.

Arnsperger. And without shooting himself to death, as the novel would definitely have demanded. — And to return to the Club once more: how gleeful you were, Brother Reit, when Citizen Hofmann, in a speech carefully designed to calm the citizenry, attacked Citizen Dorsch, calling him a rogue and a thief and accusing him of having stolen the royal paintings, which Dorsch in fact had merely borrowed and taken to his room for an indefinite period of time, — |24| reproaching his inclination to caress with beautiful women, and his entire affected personality, how he had the courage to criticize publicly the gallows that Citizen General Custine had erected in all public squares for his fellow citizens of Mainz as true symbols of freedom while at the same time allowing so many unhanged thieves run around free.

Citizen Blau. And I remember like it was today how at one of the next meetings you, Citizen Reit, were so indignant at General Custine when he declared to Citizen Hofmann in a thunderous voice that although he, Custine, was certainly authorized to have Citizen Hofmann hanged from one of those extolled gallows for this imprudent speech, he would nonetheless let it pass this time. You were also quite pleased with the dainty defense speech delivered by Citizen Dorsch, who spoke like an an Attic bee [Sophocles, because of the sweetness of his compositions].

Reit (to himself). These two cursed fellows are absolutely determined to make me into a Clubbist, while I myself am resolved not to be such since the Club failed to pay my debts. (Out loud.) Well, since you are speaking about Dorsch, Citizen Blau, just how did you like it when immediately after arriving successfully in Mainz he bought horses and a pathetic barouche in which to ride around the city as president together with Madam and to prove to all the world that he was not subscribing to equality on foot. And it was just too funny they way, amid such cold, rain, and snow, he wanted the Citizen President to be seen traveling to the administration, and yet Madam President, his wife, languishing and gentle as moonlight, to be seen traveling about to her acquaintances in a barouche open to both wind and weather. That did not seem very democratic to me.

Citizens Madam Forkel and Böhmer together. You are |25| absolutely right, Citizen Scholar. And those are exactly our own innermost thoughts! —

Citizen Madam Essbeck. Highly unseemly for such a creature to get a private carriage and horses.

Blau. Well, Citizen Madam Essbeck, that remark quite smacks of the old saw about the nobility who thought it alone had the right to horse and carriage, which it was still owed. Dorsch kept the horses solely because of his wife, whose delicate complexion no longer permitted her to walk about in inclement weather after she lost the surety of her love through an all-too-early birth — though strictly speaking she did not lose it entirely, it having been preserved in alcohol, which this most tender of all mothers daily fills with her own tears and displays to every sensitive soul.

Arnsperger. If Dorsch is unable to make up this loss, I am at his service.

Reit. In that case, Citizen Blau is the most logical choice, and doubtless understands the métier. My, whatever happened to the child that you and Dorsch once collectively manufactured for your maid? (To himself.) Now it is my turn.

(Citizen Blau blushes like a young girl, lowers his eyes in shame, places both hands crosswise on his chest.) Saint Aloysius, most precious patron saint, I summon you as witness to my innocence!

Citizen Arnsperger (to himself). He does not even believe in God and yet invokes the saints? I need to help him out of this. (Out loud.) Dorsch traveling about was not as noticeable as when Citizen Madam Daniel rolled through Schuster Street, languidly stretched out in a stolen royal carriage, to — pay a visit to Citizen General Custine.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. A most irritating sight!

Citizen Madam Forkel. An insult to our entire sex.

Citizen Madam Essbeck. Degrading for a royal carriage.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. She greeted passers-by as if it was for her alone to dispense grace.

Citizen Madam Forkel. As if every single one of us could not pay a far better visit to the general than this goose.

Arnsperg. But she was nonetheless a beautiful woman.

Citizen Madam Essbeck. I find absolutely nothing beautiful about her; she was ill formed, had a large foot, and was not at all genteel in appearance.

Reit. One cannot deny she had intelligence.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Is it intelligence to put oneself on display like that?

Arnsperger. The general bequeathed to her the royal library.

Citizen Madam Böhmer (mocking). Can she even read? —

Reit. She not only reads quite well, she also sings incomparably, and plays the piano like and angel.

Citizen Madam Forkel. If I remember correctly, you were the general’s rival.

Reit (self-complacently). It would have been a trifle to me to have been his successful rival. Whenever I passed by, she followed me as far as her eyes could reach.

Scene 7.
Citizen Arand. The previous.

(Citizen Arand, in violet socks, black leggings and vest, a gray coat, a rosary around his neck with a wooden cross hanging from it, an old, torn grenadier’s cap on his head, which he found in the fortress, instead of the bishop’s miter, and holding |27| a crooked grapevine instead of the bishop’s staff; looks around with a crazed expression, then remains standing in front of the mirror.)

(All at once:)

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Citizen Doctor.

Citizen Madam Forkel. Citizen Pastor.

Blau. Citizen Bishop.

Arnsperger. Citizen Church Father. How is it that we see you here?

Arand. A little while, and you will see me, and again a little while, and you will no longer see me, for verily I say unto you, my kingdom is not of this world. [John 16:16, 18:36] —

Reit (presents him with a chair). If Your Archiepiscopal Grace might but allow an admirer and connoisseur of your merits, merits demonstrated when you yet pressed the sweat of fear out of us with the sermons you delivered to the Brotherhood of the Mortal Fear of Death, — to wit, that you might allow this person to venerate you in all the insignia of the sublime dignity you predicted in the prophetic spirit of your cook, — and to pay homage to you as his archbishop, and that you might further allow him, in demonstration of his childlike reverence, to present you with a most subservient chair right in front of this mirror, that your most anointed figure may radiate its radiant reflection in same.

(Everyone laughs except Arand, who pulls a breviary bound in red saffian leather from his pocket.)

Reit. Your Archiepiscopal Grace no doubt left the brethren, Doctors Böhmer and Stamm, in good health?

Arand. My daily prayer ascends in clouds of incense to heaven, which will not allow its bishop to go unheard, and will grant health and prosperity not only to these worthy men, but also to our French brethren.

Arnsperger. Citizen Church Father, would you not like to show Citizen Scholar there the diploma, if you have it with you, that Citizen Böhmer presented to you as the most learned pastor in the entire archbishopric of Mainz?

Arand. I never go out without this amulet. (While he searches, he lets his staff fall.) Here it is. (Arand gives him a piece of parchment in the largest proclamation format; instead of a seal, a red cap with bells hangs from the bottom.)

Reit (picks up Arand’s staff). Here is Your Archiepiscopal Grace’s bishop’s staff, which Your Eminence dropped. Incomparable? I am surprised that Your Archiepiscopal Grace does not wear this diploma on your chest like a placard, that every man may see and, through the sound of the bells so wisely attached to the red cap, also hear that you are the most learned pastor in the entire archbishopric.

Arand. An excellent idea indeed! Except that then one could not see the bishop’s cross on my chest.

Reit. May Your Archiepiscopal Grace just give me full play. I will prove to you that even an unworthy layman like myself can be the ceremoniarius of a great bishop. Citizen Deacon Blau, you take the bishop’s miter, and you, Citizen Sub-Deacon Arnsperger, take the bishop’s staff.

(Blau removes the grenadier cap from Citizen Arand, Arnsperger the crooked grapevine. Reit sees a bundle of feathers with violet twine on the table.)

Reit. If Your Archiepiscopal Grace will allow me to use this twine, which bears the bishop’s color, instead of a violet ribbon.

Arand. Without reservation.

Reit. It also accords excellently with the bishop’s miter and staff.

|29| (Reit hangs the diploma around his neck so that the rosary and cross come to rest on top of it, then bows deeply; Blau places the grenadier cap back on his head, and Arnsperger hands him the crooked grapevine.)

Reit. Is there no incense burner here that we might cense His Archiepiscopal Grace?

(No one can answer for laughing.)

Arand. Although there is no real need for external signs, my scholarly renown proceeding before me like a pillar of fire, still I find it wholly commensurate with a bishop’s status and dignity. Citizen Scholar, I herewith appoint you my ceremoniarius and exempt you from clerical status.

Reit. Let me kiss Your Archiepiscopal Grace’s holy slippers.

Arnsperger. Your pastoral children will be completely disconsolate at losing you.

Arand. Although earthly things will no longer attach to me amid the burden of my episcopal duties, nonetheless centuries will pass before the eternal God will send the citizens of Nackenheim another such pastor. Please permit me now, my brothers and sisters, to speak with my Creator.

Reit. Shall I summon the court chaplain for Your Archiepiscopal Grace, that he may pray the breviary with you? —

Arand (with unctuousness and increasing ecstasy). No person can stand between me and my God when I speak to him. Like the burning bush on Mount Horeb, and yet never a devouring fire, the flame of prayer ascends to the Almighty from within my breast, the worshiping angels themselves fall silent; it is my prayer alone that God hears, his flame illuminating both earth and sea. —

Reit. Herr Commandant, I would advise keeping chains at ready for this burning ecclesiastical teacher.

Arnsperger. Citizen Umpfenbach’s personality greatly resembles that of Arand.

Reit. Exactly, except more unctuous, mystical, solemn, and political.

I recall the way, quite cleverly and unemotionally, he stayed in the wings of the democratic stage until through the sheer preponderance of his merits he had himself elected municipal advisor in St. Emmeram’s Church. It was always like a purgative for me to behold him in the municipal offices, in the midst of the most weighty business of state and passports, sitting on his trivet, dispensing all his nonsense like oracles, occasionally merely sniffing his snuffbox, sitting there with lowered eyes, and calling out in his unique, inimitable voice: Citizen Municipals!

Citizen Madam Böhmer. One can certainly not deny that Citizen Scholar possesses considerable wit.

Reit. Ah, let me kiss your beautiful hand.

Arnsperger. Might Citizen Staudenheiner not also have something in common with Church Father Arand? Although he did indeed perform meritorious service to the commandant of the city of Mainz as adjutant during the city’s defense — defense, moreover, that will surely go down in the annals of history as eternally remarkable and incomparably courageous — still, the extraordinary cannon and musket fire at the time must have rumbled his poor head a bit, for while leading the commando on horseback during the retaking of Rhine Avenue, he completely lost his otherwise omnipresent presence of mind at the sight of the first Prussian hussars, so much so that he galloped off with loose reins and eventually fell from his horse.

Reit. Was it not Citizen Stamm, colonel in the Mainz National and Illuminati Guard, who provided cover for him with his own corps during this military campaign? —

Scheuer. He, too, belongs to the grand light of the church, Arand. It always irritated me to see him riding along in his national uniform with his moustache and fur hat.

Reit. Admittedly, no one really had the right to ride legally except you, Herr Police Commissioner and Proclamation Herald.

Scheuer. What, exactly, is your meaning, Herr Duodecimo Scholar?

Reit (acts as if hears nothing). Stamm is a singular speaker and travelogue writer of the sort I have indeed never encountered. He should never have appeared on the grandstand in any other costume than seated, a small pot of burning coals between his feet, in an old women’s dress, a shabby calico coat, and couple of baskets of wrinkled apples and nuts from the previous year.

Arnsperger. Requiescat in pace; now he draws wine and does penance.

Reit. But no one had a better position than Citizen Patockt. Every time he concluded a civil contract between and man and woman for a certain number of years at the administrative center, or, to use the language of despots: in order to copulate — the new bride had to give him a kiss.

Arnsperger (his mouth watering). Ahhh! If only I were so lucky! But I would also have required the ius primae noctis.

Blau (covers his eyes with his hands). Ah, please, not so unchaste, else I must flee!

Arand (who has been praying the breviary the entire time, simultaneously gazing at his bishop’s miter and violet socks in the mirror, jumps up). Are you speaking about copulation, dearest brothers of liberty and equality? Whenever I myself performed this grand ceremony, six seminarians always had to attend me; because people were unable to bear up under my radiant episcopal stateliness, they usually ended up fleeing the church.

Reit. As they also did whenever Your Archiepiscopal Grace ascended into the pulpit to read the mass, nor could anyone long endure your radiant brilliance in the confessional.

Arand. The eagle alone is able to gaze directly into the sun, and it is only through the French constitution that all people can acquire such an eagle’s gaze. Let me continue in my breviary.

Reit. The constitution has already given the democrats a hawk’s eye, for wherever there is something to be stolen, they never miss it. Hence when Citizen Bookbinder Nickel peered through the flue and saw the Fransicans’ dried meat hanging in the bacon room, he had it brought to his own house. This sacrilege caused quite a stir.

Arnsperger. From what I heard, he divided it between himself and Brother Bookbinder Zech.

Reit. Well, he will not be enjoying it for long, for when he tried to drive his fellow citizens outside the city gate like a herd of livestock in his municipal sash, several butchers quickly beat him to death.

Blau. Pelletier de St. Fargeau also died as a victim of patriotism, and the nation interred his ashes in the Pantheon. Indeed, just as the Prussians advanced, I myself was working on a decree suggesting |33| St. Alban’s Church be used as a Pantheon for such men.

Reit. That church is currently the Pantheon where salted horsemeat is interred, and basically even that does not by far desecrate it as much as if even a single one of those you call “victims of patriotism” were buried there.

Citizen Madam Böhmer. Well, you are quite the impertinent one! —

Citizen Madam Forkel. A disgraceful aristocrat in disguise.

Citizen Scheuer. If I but had Merlin’s sword, I would split you in half from head to foot with a single stroke.

Reit. Easy enough to do on horseback. But have you no handkerchief to clean your runny nose?

Arnsperger. The rogue cozied up to the Club and played the role of the most ardent patriot simply because he was drowning in debt, and when they did not pay his debts, or find him the means to do so, he began grousing about our society and denying to everyone that he was ever a member of the Club.

Reit. He talks about railing and criticizing, and yet never was there such railing and criticizing heard as from his own pulpit. Did you not call your own territorial lord a “scoundrel”? Did you not yell at your peasants, “I simply cannot fathom why you refuse to accept the French constitution. You are nothing but a bunch of oxen and asses incapable of comprehending anything.” And was even a single girl or woman safe from your lecherousness? Indeed, were you not so brazen as to seek out beautiful women at home early in the morning . . . to hear their confessions?

They should have made you the young bull rather than the pastor of Bingen.

|34| (Arnsperger rips the bishop’s staff from Citizen Arand’s hands and moves to strike Reit with it. Arand steps between them.)

Arand. Ecclesia abhorret a sanguine. How is it, beloved brethren, that you act so unchristian toward each other in the presence of your bishop?

Arnsperger. Citizen Church Father, this Duodecimo Scholar was the very person who wrote the satire against you as head of the Brotherhood of the Mortal Fear of Death several years ago.

Arand. Be he forgiven just as my Father in heaven doth forgive.

Reit. I do not need your forgiveness. You yourself deserve to be scourged far more severely, and your behavior since has certainly provided me with sufficient reason. Will the seminary wines soon be sold out, Citizen Regent Wine Merchant? And you, Hypocrite Blau, did you received your cut of the sales? That was your petty reward for having so skillfully pressed and tread the vicariate and clerisy. Contemptible villains, that is all you are, you Clubbists, all of you, the most disgraceful traitors of the whole of humankind, with your most dangerous, wicked, slithery — Rulfs, called “most kind father of the poor” in the weekly newspaper with his purchased title “Court Chamberlain” — and your most furious and diabolical member: Hofmann — and your most absurd, and crudest member: Metternich. You taught the French things they would never have dreamed of — you roused their bloodthirstiness, their desire for revenge — the pathetic Wassmann, who murdered the merchant Bianko through his brutal construal of the oath — all these crimes rest on you.

Citizens Madam Böhmer and Forkel. String this disgraceful aristocrat up from the nearest street lantern!

Blau. No, simply pay off his debts and soon he will sing exactly the opposite tune. (Arnsperger jumps on Reit, Blau cries out). Calm yourselves, brethren! (Blau signals to Arnsperger to let Reit have it. The women shout, Arand straightens his grenadier cap.)

Commandant. Guard! (The guard comes in, everyone scatters.) Get this democratic rabble out of my sight!

Citizen Arand. Herr Commandant, please permit me first to dispense my bishop’s blessing to these good brethren. (Arand steps onto a chair.) May the God of liberty and equality, the god of the noble French brethren, bless you through my bishop’s hand, multiply you like the sand of the sea, preserve you like the cedars of Lebanon through all the centuries of the French Republic, forever and ever — amen.

(The guard pushes forward shouting.) Away with this unclean riffraff and rabble and pack of regicides!

Reit (shouts while exiting). Your Archiepiscopal Grace’s most humble ceremoniarius will not fail to wait most loyally and obediently upon Your High Eminence in the insane asylum now being vacated for use as your palace.

(Exeunt all. The commandant retains Citizens Wehdekind mother and daughter-in-law.) I feel sorry for you; try to bear your fate as best you can, I will do everything in my power to makes things easier for you.

(Exeunt the two women, weeping.)


by Franz Blei (1907)

|36| The “Society of the Friends of Liberty and Equality” — or the “Club,” as it was called — was established in Mainz on 25 October 1792 at the behest of General Adam Philippe de Custine, a man rich in words but poor in deeds. The Club drew its slogans from Paris, and its members included all sorts of malcontents. Its leaders were enthusiasts such as Georg Forster, ambitious men such as Georg Christian Wedekind, and fools such as Eulogius Schneider. [1] The first died before the guillotine was introduced, [2] the latter beneath it, and the ambitious Wedekind in 1839 as a baron in the service of the Archduke Ludwig I of Hesse. And yet the words of these three men could not really be distinguished during their time in Mainz in their declarations of the purpose of the Club as publicized in speeches, newspapers, and proclamations, declaring that Mainz and everything on the left bank of the Rhine should become French, “free Franks,” as one was wont to say at the time, just as the night watchman was permitted to sing only “Praise Citizen God.” One should not forget, however, that the (clerical) prince elector of Mainz, whose beloved Frau von Coudenhoven, ruled the roost in the household, had attended the last imperial coronation in Frankfurt on 14 July 1792 with an entourage of 1500 persons, including a capon stuffer and a wet-nurse. And that Heinse read his Ardinghello aloud there. And that it was in this court that the manifest of the Duke of Braunschweig was drafted threatening to burn Paris to the ground, whereupon Danton had 6000 royalists executed in a single week. Hence it came as no surprise that people in Mainz |37| sang the Ah! ça ira. [3] The residents of Mainz were “Frankish” for a year, then German again for a while, and the Clubbists who remained in Mainz had to pay for the freedom-inspired intermezzo. “After the French retreat,” the Frankfurter Journal reported on 29 July 1793, “the residents spent the entire day ferreting out Clubbists from their hiding places and placing them under arrest; everywhere one could see people covered in head wounds, with broken noses, scratched faces, torn hair, being dragged through the streets more dead than alive, and even if some poor wretch might gain a moment to rest, one person or another from the surrounding crowd inevitably broke through and unloaded his rage anew.” These citizens, whose lives had been disrupted for an entire year, paid no heed to Goethe’s admonition to let “God and the authorities” exact punishment; those citizens were interested in immediate revenge. The Mainz Clubbists are, of course, of only local interest historically — except for the excellent Georg Forster and Caroline Böhmer-Schlegel-Schelling, the names of the participants could just as easily be different — and yet the political masquerade of words in this small provincial theater becomes even more penetratingly clear than on the grand Parisian stage with its magnificent acoustics.

None of the pasquinades on the popular rage directed against the Mainz Clubbists goes much beyond their most immediate purpose, namely, denunciation and rather ridiculous personal defamation. Nor does a single line from the pen of the anonymous author of this rare “tragicomic play” manage to attain even a modest a level of impartial wit. Nor is he even sufficiently familiar with all the gossip and truth, otherwise “Citizen Madam Böhmer” would not have fared as well as she did. That Georg Forster’s wife, Therese, had |38| a relationship with her second spouse Huber even while Forster himself was still alive, though insinuated here as gossip, is not proven. It is not improbable that during this, the most adventurous period in her varied life Caroline may well have pleased Forster as well. As far as the other persons in the “play” are concerned, as well as those mentioned in it: Citizen Madam Forkel is the wife of the Göttingen musical director Forkel and sister of the Clubbist Dr. Wedekind; Madam Böhmer resided with her. The ladies “are being treated very well in Königstein, are free to move about the fortress, and have the appropriate servants,” C. Möller reports. They were soon set free, on 16 July 1793. Dr. Felix Anton Blau was a liberal theologian, as were Arnsberger [Arensberger] and Arand. Dorsek [Dorsch; see Minor’s review below], also mentioned during the discussion, was a pastor and had gotten married. Dr. Metternich was a professor of mathematics. Many of the Clubbists fared very badly, some went on to considerable professional success; only one went to ruin, namely, the best: Georg Forster.


Jakob Minor’s review of the anonymous
Die Mainzer Klubbisten zu Königstein. Ein tragic-komisches Schauspiel in einem Aufzuge. 1793,
Deutsche Litteratur-Pasquille, ed. Franz Blei, vol. IV (Leipzig 1907),
in Euphorion 15 (1908), 259–66.

It is probably Die Mainzer Klubbisten zu Königstein (volume 4 [of the 4 literary pasquinades published in the series by Franz Blei]) that most needs both historical and literary-historical commentary, without which the piece can indeed hardly be understood. This pamphlet concurs most closely with the letters Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring wrote to Christian Gottlob Heyne from Frankfurt, as published in Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s Leben und Verkehr mit seinen Zeitgenossen, 2 vols., ed. Rudolph Wagner (Leipzig 1844) 2:191ff., and Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 612ff., whereas the two volumes in Georg Waitz’s collection of letters to and from Caroline [(1871) and (1882)], and Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to his brother Wilhelm [Walzel] repeatedly deviate from it. The unknown author must doubtless be sought in Frankfurt.

I believe passages from two letters can be directly associated with the pasquinade. On 15 November 1793, Christian Gottlob Heyne writes to Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring:

Allow me to return to earlier times for a moment, back when Willert sent that shameful, outrageous comedy to my daughter in Neufchâtel; were you aware of that? and is Hufnagel likely to have known about it? and do you know who the author is, who allegedly has indeed been fully exposed?” [4]

Although Sömmerring’s answer to this query has unfortunately been lost, Heyne returns to the topic on 12 December 1793:

If Therese ever suspected that you knew about this trashy piece, it was doubtless solely under her initial impression, which has long disappeared. [5]

And indeed, it was quite natural for suspicions to fall on an author in Frankfurt, and on Sömmerring specifically, who was best acquainted there with what was taking place in Mainz. One must also consider, however, that Caroline, too, received her letters through Franz Wenner, head of the Varrentrapp and Wenner Bookstore in Frankfurt, and that these letters were initially sent unsealed. [6] Given the parallels discussed below, there can be no doubt that the indiscreet, anonymous author learned not a little from Sömmerring’s and Caroline’s correspondence, either in writing or in person. [7]

The historical background the pamphlet presupposes are the following. Caroline Böhmer left Mainz on 30 March 1793 with her daughter [8] Auguste to flee to Gotha ahead of the advancing German armies. Her companions included her friend Meta Forkel and the latter’s elderly mother, Madam Wedekind. Because in Oppenheim they found the countryside occupied by Prussians, they had to turn around, entrusting themselves to an otherwise unknown man by the name of Clausius, who was to bring them to Gotha by way of Frankfurt. But they were already stopped in Hattersheim and taken under guard to Frankfurt. When the women’s ominous names became known, their guide, who was himself a democrat, delivered them over to the Prussians to save himself. They now spent three days in Frankfurt under house arrest. Sömmerring, who visited them repeatedly there, found Caroline’s behavior extremely unladylike despite his profound sympathy otherwise, and recounts details concerning her still quite confident and wholly unembarrassed comportment. [9] Here other citizens of Mainz were also delivered by the Saxons and incarcerated, including Professor Blau, candidate Scheuer (Scheurer) (“Police Commissioner Scheur” in the pamphlet), and the chaplain of Kastel. [10] Clubbists who had escaped from Worms and Bingen were also picked up. After the decision had been made to cede jurisdiction in the entire affair to the court in Mainz itself, the whole group was transferred to the fortress of Königstein on 8 April 1793. Sömmerring, who by chance happened to witness this event, recounts vividly and bitterly, [11] though entirely in accordance with Caroline, [12] the abuses to which the Clubbists were subjected during transport not only at the hands of the officers and common soldiers, but even more at the hands of the embittered citizens of Mainz, and how not only the poor prisoners themselves were beaten half to death, but even a well-dressed woman who was looking on and chanced to express her pity for them was also physically abused. The procession included three carriages: in the first was Madam von Esebeck alone (“Essbeck” in the pamphlet; possibly either the wife or a relative of Johann Friedrich von Esebeck), in the second Madam Forkel with her mother, and in the third Caroline with Auguste. The incarceration was prolonged in the hope of exploiting the prisoners in an exchange for the citizens of Mainz whom the French had taken from Mainz to Strassbourg to cover the Clubbists. The expectation was that the leaders of the Mainz Clubbists, Georg Forster and Georg Christian Wedekind, would immediately free the imprisoned Mainz residents for their party comrades in Königstein. According to Caroline’s letters, however, the latter themselves were resolutely opposed to such an exchange. Instead they sought help from outside. Caroline herself turned first to her father-in-law, Professor and Geheimrath Georg Ludwig Böhmer in Göttingen, who was, however, only able to secure her some slight amelioration. Then, through Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter and Wilhelm von Humboldt, she had some unsuccessful steps taken on her behalf with Coadjutor von Dalberg and the Prince elector of Mainz. She also waited in vain for the government in Hannover would make an issue of her imprisonment insofar as she was a subject of its territory. [12a] The king of Prussia was considered only as the very last resort. In the meantime, the Prince elector of Mainz had considerably eased the prisoners’ circumstances by offering to them, at the beginning of June, the choice between two small villages where they were to live under local arrest but without guards. Caroline chose Kronenberg, an hour from Königstein and two hours from Frankfurt. Caroline’s youngest brother, Philipp Michaelis, arrived there on 17 June 1793 after hearing news of her arrest in Italy and accepting it as his sacred duty to secure her release. He immediately directed his efforts toward Berlin. Although the king resolutely and harshly rejected any intervention on the part of the Hannoverian ministry, a well-supported petition had all the more profound an effect once it became known that Caroline had been mistaken as the wife of her brother-in-law, Clubbist Georg Wilhelm Böhmer, who had greatly compromised himself in Mainz but with whom she had had no contact whatever. Sophie Bethmann, whom Sömmerring calls Caroline’s liberator, likely performed some service or other for Caroline in gathering signatures for the petition. [13] The reference is doubtless to Anna Sophie Elisabeth Bethmann, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the banker Peter Heinrich von Bethmann-Metzler; she later belonged to the circle around Frau Rath Goethe, also becoming well acquainted with Goethe under her married name, Madam von Schwarzkopf. [14] On 4 July 1793, the king of Prussia signed the rescript liberating the “widow Böhmer.” She received word of such on 11 July in the name of the prince elector and departed on 13 July, though with a heavy heart, leaving behind Madam Forkel still in prison. [15] Her brother must have cut a very good figure indeed in the affair, something attested not only by his quick success, but also by the unmistakably gracious tone of the royal missive and by the wholly extraordinary fact that the young physician who had intervened in so chivalrous a fashion on behalf of his sister received the prospect of a position in Prussian service.

Thus the situation based on the extant letters, whereby one must bear in mind that Caroline herself destroyed letters from this period, [16] letters that probably dealt with her pregnancy and lapse with the young Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Dubois de Crancé, [17] about which this pamphlet is not yet aware. The events in the pamphlet itself take place soon after the prisoners’ arrival in Königstein, that is, after 8 April 1793. It is possible, however, to specify the time even more closely. Unfortunately, in mid-May the prisoners lost the “humanely inclined” commandant, who at his very first appearance immediately inquires whether the prisoners need anything and even permits them to assemble a tea party in his quarters of the sort they frequented at the Forsters in Mainz, and they immediately felt the loss. [18] And the wife of Citizen Wedekind who greets her mother-in-law as a new arrival in the pamphlet (p. 18), did not arrive in Königstein until later, on 15 April. [19] Hence the play takes place between 15 April and 15 May 1793, in the “room of Citizen Madam Böhmer.” And in fact, the “Göttingen dames,” that is, Caroline and Madam Forkel-Wedekind, were able to get a more comfortable room at the initiative of Hofrath Böhmer, [20] though later Caroline still complains about the dirty room in which she has to live together with seven other people and where there are only tall wooden benches instead of chairs; [21] just as in the pamphlet as well (p. 9) she says, “These wooden chairs are not nearly as comfortable as Forster’s canapé.”

The first scene, which gives the pamphlet its subtitle, “How the Women Exposed their Mutual Shame,” can be traced point by point back to the original sources. The very first cry of woe from Mother Wehdekind [the pamphlet alters the orthography], who describes herself as a “a poor old woman with one foot in the grave” and laments her children’s madness, is confirmed by one of Sömmerring’s letters: [22] “The wife of Professor Wedekind, a doubtless innocent elderly woman, will probably shortly become a victim of this undeserved treatment, since her health is already quite in shambles.” And though Citizens Madam Böhmer and Forkel respond to the mother’s reproach regarding how they could have been so clumsy as to deliver themselves into the hands of their enemies, by praising and extolling their comrade in faith, Clausius, an experienced and widely traveled man with considerable astuteness and understanding of human beings, Caroline herself later admitted that it was stupid to entrust themselves to a man they had never seen before and whom only later they recognized as a foolish person, “one of those people who, though reputed to be upright, out of fearful timidity is nonetheless capable of committing all sorts of villainous tricks” when they fear losing that patina of loyalty. [23] And just as in the pamphlet (p. 8), she simply cannot believe that the Prussians could arrest three such harmless women, so also later in her letters does she admit that it never occurred to her that she herself might be under suspicion; [24] Sömmerring for his part was furious at the “oh-so-clever women Göttingen women” who in Frankfurt rejected his serious recommendation that they leave immediately after the hearing, to which purpose they had indeed been granted a day-and-a-half, their rationale being, “What do they intend to do with us? What have we done?.” [25] On the other hand, it is difficult to determine just what is behind the reproaches raised by the elderly Madam Wehdekind against her daughter and Madam Böhmer with respect to their activities in Mainz. “Did not you yourselves,” she cries out (p. 8), “run around all day with Clubbists? Did not you yourselves put yourselves on public display as some ‘heroines of liberty’? Did not you yourselves loudly berate the citizens of Mainz for not wanting to swear the oath of allegiance? Did not you yourselves advise others to use the most extreme violence against them? and agitate and incite for all you were worth, and then boast loudly of all these things?” Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer must have raised similar accusations against Caroline on the basis of such rumors, though she herself resolutely denied them, [26] insisting that she viewed herself as utterly insignificant given her lifestyle, a lifestyle uninterrupted and untainted by even a single public act, by absolutely no gestures of approval or by any foolishness of the sort Meyer mentioned; although she admits to having been ardently enthusiastic at the beginning (so, a late confession after all?), and that Forster’s opinion naturally swept hers up along with it, nonetheless from January onward she insists she was deaf toward and uninterested in anything political. And although the pamphlet has her utter the words (p. 12), “the grandest, most useful action any person can engage in [is] democratic proselytizing,” she insists quite to the contrary that she was never a proselytizer, neither publicly nor clandestinely. [27] But neither does C. Möller have much more to say in his letter to Wilhelm Schlegel; [28] though he does “fear” Caroline may have gotten too deeply involved in some things from which she should have kept her distance, he is unable to adduce anything concrete. But that she had long ceased to keep expression of her principles under control, was imprudent in some of her utterances — though not as wholly incautious as Georg Forster and his wife — and that she dined on several occasions with Custine — none of this is really more than Caroline herself acknowledges concerning the initial period of her stay in Mainz.

Once the subject of relationships with Georg Forster is raised, however, the two friends, Madams Böhmer and Forkel, each of whom accuses the other of impermissible intimacy with Forster, begin squabbling and indeed “exposing their mutual shame.” Just as in the pamphlet Madam Böhmer boasts of having opened Forster’s eyes to the real reasons behind his wife’s sudden departure, something she was allegedly obliged to tell him as his friend (p. 10), so also in Frankfurt did Caroline acknowledge the same thing to Sömmerring, who writes to Therese’s father:

I know for certain now from Madam Böhmer’s own statements that she was the cause of the separation between Forster and his wife; she congratulated herself for having finally prompted a declaration between Forster and Therese; nota bene only after Therese’s departure. [29]

And just as in the pamphlet Madam Forkel then addresses her derisively as a “fine moralist,” so also does Caroline herself refer to her relationship with Forster after his wife’s departure as that “more as a nurse offering moral support,” and that anyone “familiar with all his [Forster’s] more attractive personality traits can probably easily enough comprehend how precisely these traits, combined with his pitiable weaknesses, prompted me to persevere in an utterly voluntary, utterly selfless fashion.” [30] In the pamphlet (p. 14), Madam Forkel accuses Madam Böhmer of having described Therese’s departure as something arranged beforehand with Huber, telling him that his wife had thrown herself wholly into Huber’s arms and was now married to him and living in Neufchâtel. Such was likely also the case in reality, since Forster did indeed lament what an unhappy man he was because his wife with sitting in Neufchâtel with Huber; and it was doubtless through Caroline’s letter that the same rumor arose in Göttingen. [31] It is admittedly another matter entirely whether Caroline, as Madam Forkel accuses her in the pamphlet insofar as Caroline does not seem capable of denying it there, asserted as much against her better judgment and familiarity with the affair. For even if Huber was in fact not in Neufchâtel at the time, this matter was hardly a result of simple malicious invention, since very soon thereafter Neufchâtel did indeed serve Therese and Huber as a lovers’ sanctuary. When in the pamphlet (p. 4) Madam Forkel further accuses Madam Böhmer of scheming to ensnare Forster in her own net and make him her husband that she might play the important, grand, learned lady in Paris and Mainz, that, too, is based on a precise acquaintance with these persons. For immediately after Therese’s departure, Madam Forkel did indeed ask Sömmerring whether it was true that Forster had divorced his wife and married Madam Böhmer; [32] Sömmerring’s assurance that such was utterly impossible seemed to surprise and puzzle her exceedingly. During the days of her incarceration in Frankfurt, however, Madam Forkel raised the subject again, assuring Sömmerring now that Forster had explicitly declared to her that he would not take Madam Böhmer as his wife. And just as unequivocally as in the pamphlet with Madam Forkel, so also in her letters does Caroline completely reject the insinuation of any relationship between her and Forster; “People are greatly mistaken in what they believe concerning my relationship with him”; “Forster is supposed to redeem me [as a hostage]. — But Forster cannot, nor will I ever ask him to do so — for that is not the nature of our relationship”; “I am his friend, but not in the French sense of the word.” [33] On another occasion she speaks about “feminine, sisterly friendship.” [34] Just how precisely the author understands Caroline’s mode of expression is demonstrated by the passage (p. 12), where we read that Madam Forster, “as Citizen Madam Dorsch so accurately put it,” picked Huber up off the street like an unwashed bear and took him into her house, “where it would be all the easier for her to lick him clean.” Caroline appropriated this language of Citizen Madam Dorsch, with Friedrich Schlegel echoing it later in asking her to “lick and tend the young bear Herkules [name proposed for the periodical Athenaeum] with all her soul and with all her might that it may thrive.” [35]

Unfortunately, the insinuations concerning the notorious Madam Forkel also quite accord with the truth. [36] Sofie Dorothea Margareta Wedekind was the daughter of a Göttingen educator; at seventeen she married the Göttingen musical director Forkel, who was considered the lover of Madam Heyne, Therese’s mother. Neglected and abused by her husband, Meta Forkel fled to Berlin in 1788 with a lover, then moved around in various locales with other lovers, of whom according to Bürger she loved and enjoyed several at a time, an allegedly not merely inwardly, but also outwardly dissolute and smutty woman, whom even Bürger himself soon rejected. In the autumn of 1792 she arrived in Mainz to visit her brother, the physician Wedekind, who was playing a prominent role among the Clubbists (though he does not appear in the pamphlet himself, he is mentioned as the grand arch-citizen Wehdekind). Here Forster, who was not unaware of her past and her ill reputation, took her under his wing, putting her to work doing translations, several of which (Thomas Paine and Constantin Volney) he published with a preface under his own name. Whence we read in the pamphlet even under the dramatis personae, “day laborer in the English translation factory of Citizen Forster, Deputy in the Mainz National Convention.” One can reasonably doubt that Caroline ever reproached her, as is the case in the pamphlet, with respect to her past and illicit contact with Forster during her collective work with him. For Madam Forkel was Caroline’s own housemate in Mainz, who took her in despite having hardly any acquaintance with her. Indeed, Caroline judged her past quite mildly:

but I have no hatred toward sinners and no fear for myself. . . . I have found her quite pleasing to this point — I get on well with her — since one can do so without really committing oneself, I see no reason why I should not take the first steps. [37]

Caroline’s regret at having to leave her companion in misfortune behind in prison after being liberated herself militates against the veracity of the sort of bitter quarrels the pamphlet portrays between the two women. Caroline did admittedly later view Madam Forkel, who was likely the first to learn of Caroline’s pregnancy during their imprisonment, as the traitor once “it” became known in Mainz. [38] This pamphlet, however, is yet wholly unaware of these circumstances. It is also quite striking that little Auguste neither appears nor is even mentioned.

The remaining scenes are of a purely political nature. Madam Böhmer’s quip with respect to the humane commandant, “If only we didn’t owe our small celebration to such an arrogant aristocrat who is — ashamed of the noble name ‘citizen’!” (p. 17) is again wholly commensurate with Caroline’s personality, who writes, “I laugh at the great and despise them even as I humbly supplicate before them, but I am in truth merely a good woman, and no heroine.” [39]

Here, too, the editor [Franz Blei] has gone to no great trouble. Judging from his remarks, he himself was not entirely clear on several points. Although a certain “Dorsek” he mentions on p. 38 does not appear at all, the familiar Dorsch does. [40] Similarly, not every reader will realize that “Merlin’s sword” (p. 33) refers not to the familiar magician’s sword, but to that of a Mainz Frenchman who with a sweeping motion through the air with his sword solemnly declares, “I hereby disband the Club!” [41] Of course, any attentive reader can correct the typographical error in the following passage (p. 33), “He talks about having a cold [Germ. Schnupfen; should read: Schimpfen], and yet never was there such railing and criticizing [lit., “has anyone scolded, reproached, criticized,” Germ. geschimpft] heard as from his own pulpit.”


[1] Eulogius Schneider was a member of the Club in Strasbourg. Back.

[2] Georg Forster died in January 1794; the guillotine seems to have been used first in April 1792. Back.

[3] An emblematic song of the French Revolution. Back.

[4] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 642. Back.

[5] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 643. Back.

[6] Waitz (1871), 1:123, 128, to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter from Kronenberg on 15 June 1793( letter 128); and to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on the same day (letter 129). Back.

[7] See Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel on 28 August 1793 (letter 134), who reports having “brought her [Caroline] two letters from Franz Wenner in Frankfurt. The first contained the words, ‘I know about your entire situation.’ The second, which she opened first, ‘People know about it in Mainz: Gr. [Crancé] is still there.’ She was fairly stunned with fright and pain, and for a long time could utter only single words.” Back.

[8] Minor incorrectly identified Auguste as Caroline’s “stepdaughter.” Back.

[9] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 615, 616f., Sömmerring’s letter to Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d). Back.

[10] Incorrectly in the pamphlet (i.e., typographical error) as “Kassel,” as also in Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 617, Sömmerring to Heyne on 8 April 1793 (letter 121e) [translator’s note: and even in the pro-Prussian list of Clubbists Getreues Namenverzeichnis der in Mainz sich befindenden 454 Klubbisten, mit Bemerkung derselben Charakter (Frankfurt 1793), 2]. See by contrast Wagner, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s Leben und Verkehr mit seinen Zeitgenossen 2:199, who correctly identifies the Mainz suburb as “Castel” (or Kastel). Back.

[11] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 616f., Sömmerring to Heyne on 8 April 1793 (letter 121e); 620f., Sömmerring to Heyne on 13 April 1793 (letter 121f). Back.

[12] Waitz (1871), 1:122f. (not “172f.” as Minor originally states), to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotterr on 15 June 1793 (letter 128). Back.

[12a] As a native of Göttingen, Caroline was a subject of the Electorate of Hannover. See the chapter on Lower Saxony in the supplementary appendix on Germany in the late eighteenth century, esp. the section on the dominions of the Elector of Hannover. Back.

[13] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 632 (Minor’s pagination, “633,” is incorrect), Samuel von Sömmerring to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 13 July 1793, see note 3 to Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise Gotter on 13 July 1793 (letter 131). The memoirs if Caroline’s youngest sister, Luise, provides a few more details about how Philipp Michaelis secured Caroline’s release through the intermediary Sophie Bethmann; see her biography of Caroline, pp. 81–82. Back.

[14] Heinrich Pallmann, “Die Familien Goethe und Bethmann,” Festschrift zu Goethes 150. Geburtstagsfeier, dargebracht vom Freien Deutschen Hochstift (Frankfurt am Main 1899) 49–104, here 58–59. Back.

[15] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 632, Sömmerring to Heyne on 13 July 1793; see Caroline to Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise Gotter in Gotha on 13 July 1793 (letter 131), with the text of the royal rescript; Waitz (1871), 1:129; see in this regard also Ludwig Geiger, Dichter und Frauen. Neue Sammlung (Berlin 1899) 105f. (short biography of Meta Forkel). Back.

[16] Waitz (1871), 1:vii, note 9. Back.

[17] Geiger, Dichter und Frauen. Neue Sammlung, 89, 95, Therese Huber to Therese Forster on 17–25 July 1803 (letter 380b) and on 3 September 1803 (letter 380f), both concerning Jean-Baptiste Dubois de Crancé).; also Walzel, index s.v. Crantz. Back.

[18] Waitz (1871), 1:120, to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 16 May 1793 (letter 127). Back.

[19] Wagner, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s Leben und Verkehr mit seinen Zeitgenossen, 2:202, Sömmerring to Heyne from Frankfurt on 15 April 1793:

Frau Hofrath Wedekind also successfully arrived here yesterday from Mainz with her children; although a young Westphalian fellow had pretended she was his wife [to keep her identity secret], she identified herself here anyway, promptly received a six-man guard detail, and was also transferred to Königstein today. Back.

[20] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 620, Sömmerring to Heyne on 13 April 1793 (letter 121f). Back.

[21] Waitz (1871)1:121f., Caroline to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 15 June 1793 (letter 128). Back.

[22] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 617, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 8 April 1793 (letter 121e). Back.

[23] Waitz (1871), 1:119, 125, to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 12 May 1793 (letter 126), and to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129); Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 614, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d). Back.

[24] Waitz (1871), 1:125, Caroline to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129). Back.

[25] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 616–17, Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 8 April 1793 (letter 121e). Back.

[26] Waitz (1871), 1:124, 126, to Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129). Back.

[27] Waitz (1871), 1:126 (not 129) to Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129). Back.

[28] Waitz, (1882), 23–25, Möller to Wilhelm Schlegel on 16 May 1793 (letter 126a). Back.

[29] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 615, Sömmerring to Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d). Back.

[30] Waitz (1871), 1:124f., to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129). Back.

[31] Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 612, Sömmerring to Heyne on 19 March 1793 (text see supplementary appendix 119.2). Back.

[32] Ibid. Back.

[33] Waitz (1871), 1:118, 120f., to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 1 May 1793 (letter 125) and on 16 May 1793 (letter 127). Back.

[34] Waitz (1871), 1:125, to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 15 June 1793 (letter 129). Back.

[35] Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer, before mid-November 1797 (letter 191a). Back.

[36] See Strodtmann 3:214, Gottfried August Bürger to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 1 March 1789 (Bürger, discussing his insecure professional prospects, quips that he trusts “the prostitute Fortuna as little as I do Furceferaria [Meta Forkel]; 225, Meyer to Bürger on 14 April 1789 (concerning the latter passage and the nickname Furceferaria, see Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s time in Mainz, note 4); 4:168, Bürger’s letter to Elise Hahn’s mother in February 1792, in which he acknowledges his own previous “libertine escapades” with “a shady, disreputable married woman,” namely, Meta Forkel (text also in Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s time in Mainz, note 4); 209, where Bürger remarks to Wilhelm Schlegel that, compared to Elise Bürger (Bürger’s own wife), “Madam Furciferaria was a veritable ‘paragon of virtue’,” and index. See also Albert Leitzmann, “Beiträge zur Kenntnis Georg Forsters aus ungedruckten Quellen,” in Archiv für das Studium der Neueren Sprachen und Litteraturen Jahrgang 4G (1892) vol. 89, 15–32, here 26ff.; Ludwig Geiger, Dichter und Frauen 101–3, brief background information on Meta Forkel in Geiger’s chapter on Caroline. Back.

[37] Waitz, (1871) 1:111, to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer, 27 October 1792 (letter 118). Back.

[38] Walzel, 103 (see note 6 above), 107, both passages from Friedrich to Wilhelm Schlegel on 28 August 1793 (letter 134); in the second, Friedrich remarks that “we [he and Caroline] think it most likely that Madam Forkel was the traitor, out of envy over her earlier release. Back.

[39] Waitz, (1871), 1:123, to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 15 June 1793 (letter 128). Back.

[40] See Karl Klein, Georg Forster in Mainz. 1788 bis 1793 (Gotha 1863) 236 (a brief description of his role in Mainz) et passim. Back.

[41] Ibid., 321. Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott