Supplementary Appendix 392.1

Anonymous, “Leonhard Friedrich Huber” [*]

There [in Mainz] he made the acquaintance of Georg Forster, with whom he quickly developed the life-and-death bond of the most ardent friendship, and in whose intelligent wife, Heyne’s enormously erudite and witty daughter, he could experience the social interaction that comes to imaginative young men solely through the transfiguring hands of a woman, as is the case with every fruit from Paradise. In the meantime, that horrific explosion in Paris, [1] igniting the accumulated combustibles of the age, created an electric shock that was initially welcomed by all good-natured, magnanimous people, who thought it would eventually nourish and revivify our world.

Georg Forster, too, shared this pardonable delusion with the best of his contemporaries, and paid for that delusion with his very life and property. Forster’s final, wretched days in Paris, and the terrible emotions with which he woke from his beguiling cosmopolitan dream to the harsh light of gruesome reality, is still covered by a gentle veil, and what the public at large learned at the time about these events does not at all suffice for an examination and assessment of the civil and domestic circumstances of this truly noble man, a man who remains irreplaceable even today for certain areas of literature and yet who was incredibly deceived and blinded.

Huber sacrificed the entirety of his civil circumstances, which promised him a radiant career, and accepted what for his refined, sensitive heart was the doubly painful disapproval of his elderly parents in Leipzig and all his Saxon friends, and with incredible effort and self-renunciation took on the task of becoming the savior, father, and caretaker of the Forster family. There is a tribunal of conscience that, elevated above all worldly and spiritual judges, can and ought to judge what we are wont to call the transgressions of rare individuals. Even at that time, Huber doubtless was justified by this tribunal when amid the most vehement human hatred and the most overwrought private passions his behavior, which admittedly exceeded ordinary rules and order, was subjected to so much misinterpretation and vilification.

In that unfortunate hour when, to Germany’s shame and yet to the delight of all milksop intriguers, the Pandora’s Box of the Xenien was opened, a poisonous arrow dipped in the bile of an aggrieved woman was directed at him. [2] Such behavior could not but profoundly appall a man who now found himself so unexpectedly stabbed in the back because of an event that absolutely had no business being presented thus to the public at large and delivered over to the poisonous tongues of literary gossipers and washerwomen.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to let him speak himself with the sincerity and straightforwardness that were unique to him concerning those circumstances that were so exposed to the ambiguous, double meaning of praise. Let no one object that today, too, these events have no place being discussed in public. Let us instead allow the justification of the reviled, beloved deceased who can now, from his final resting place, yet say something in his own defense, something he could not do during his lifetime. On 22 April of last year [1804], he wrote in strict judgment concerning his own actions to a friend who prompted this outpouring of the heart by asking Huber a modest question:

“I have,” Huber wrote to his friend on 22 April 1804,

never had anything other than positive experiences with the Electoral Saxon government. My departure from the service of the Electoral Prince was prompted solely by my private and personal circumstances. While serving in that capacity, I could never have even thought about being granted permission to enter into an alliance that could take place only by means of a divorce according to French law — and according to those in force at the time, in 1793. And yet Forster’s circumstances at the time, and those of his family, were such that I could not hesitate to secure, resolutely, my relationship as protector of the latter, and with his concurrence, by marrying his divorced wife.

Political gossip in [Saxon legation] headquarters in Frankfurt provided the excuse for me to request my release. The most liberal comportment of the Saxon Court, however, thwarted this excuse, especially that of the excellent minister [Christian Gotthelf] Gutschmid [1721–98], and no other option remained for me except to disclose to him the real reason, whereupon I then had to expend considerable effort in attaining my goal precisely because, with the best of intentions, he still tried to dissuade me in every possible way. I persevered in my resolve, which necessity, based irrevocably on honor and the most sacred sense of duty, had prescribed for me, and now, insofar as they still wanted to retain me, had to effect the break in a fashion that left an open wound that could never be healed.

A few months later, I in the meantime had occasion to enjoy the blessed reward of knowing that my resolute actions, if I may put it thus, had saved Forster’s family. For without my resolve and what I did commensurate with that resolve, that family would reliably have fallen victim to the horrors of the Clubbists [3] — and would very likely have perished amid those horrors.

I can neither justify nor good-naturedly condemn the fact that this element of necessity arose beforehand. It was instead an aberration of emotion and of the heart, deeply grounded in the individuality of three good human beings of whom none was more and none less culpable than the other. The only certain thing is that, given what transpired beforehand, I would have been the most despicable of all human beings had I acted differently. Toward a man like you, I take no notice of the gossip concerning those of us who engaged in the political tensions of the time; what does remain incomprehensible to me, however, is the willfully intoxicated cheekiness with which he who is otherwise such a respected writer then incorporated this equally stupid and malicious material into his Xenien.

How easy it would be to adduce irrefutable proof from Forster’s, my wife’s, and my own correspondence that precisely the opposite from that gossip constituted the truth. Apart from one extraordinary case, which is in fact the case here, such domestic circumstances concerning persons two of whom are still alive do not belong in public. And yet I would indeed be greatly interested in leaving behind precisely such proofs for a time when I myself am no longer alive. Such would do much for providing for those three persons’ posthumous reputation and, moreover, provide an instructive example for future examples of wretched, confused vilification.

[additional biographical material]

For several years, Huber had been busy organizing the literary estate of the late Forster that had just barely been saved from the chaos of the Reign of Terror in Paris, with the goal of publishing it for the benefit of his children. Hence he sincerely lamented the premature new edition of Sakontala, for which Forster’s papers supplied several metrically adapted scenes. [4]

But now he is no more, and Germany justifiably asks who will now present us with Huber’s own literary estate. All eyes are focused on the only woman who can do so most appropriately. Among the Romans of antiquity, it was the beloved widow who gathered the ashes and remains of her spouse, bathed them with nards and tears, and set them aside in an alabaster urn.

Thus did the gentlest, most sensitive of all Roman elegiac poets, gentle Tibullus, wish to be buried. The noble German wife of our German Huber will doubtless understand how to collect together in a fashion worthy of both him and herself the most precious remains of the deceased, namely, his writings. Nothing is to be lost that his genius produced, a genius manifesting itself with consistent creativity and sensitivity in so many different forms and figures, including his shorter essays and critiques (e.g., that on Goethe’s Eugenia in the Leipziger Litgeratur-Zeitung). [5]

The last thing Huber wrote for the public was the clever introduction to the brilliant Kartenalmanach that was published this year by Cotta. One can say that just as the witty and sensitive lady inventor [6] was able to use the red and black points of the l’hombre cards for the most delicate and ardently sensed games of the imagination, and in doing so, drawing utensil in hand, managed to play with the game itself, so also did Huber, in his introduction, manage to play once more with the most charming figures that a clever woman created, thereby demonstrating in the most charming fashion their myriad appropriateness and applicability to “jest and seriousness” itself. [7] Yet who could have intimated that the melancholy ballade and cemetery scenes of the 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8 of spades would first apply to the prophetic interpreter himself! [8]





[*] Anonymous (“—r.”), “Leonhard Friedrich Huber,” Der Freimüthige oder Ernst und Scherz (1805) 34 (Saturday, 16 February 1805), 133–35; 35 (Monday, 18 February 1805), 137–40. The title, of course, is incorrect, and should read Ludwig Ferdinand Huber. The following biographical excerpts pick up during the period when Huber was appointed Electoral Saxon legation secretary in Mainz. Back.

[1] The French Revolution. Back.

[2] Concerning Schiller and Goethe’s Xenien, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 22 October 1796 (letter 172), note 2. Concerning the Xenien aimed at Georg Forster and his wife at the time, Therese Forster, née Heyne, see Caroline’s same letter to Luise Gotter on 22 October 1796 (letter 172), note 6.

Franz Boas, Schiller’s und Goethe’s Xenien-Manuscript: Zum erstenmal bekannt gemacht, ed. Wendelin von Maltzahn (Berlin 1856), 133–35, picking up on Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s participation as editor for Johann Friedrich Cotta’s periodical Flora: Teutschlands Töchtern geweiht von Freundinnen und Freunden des schönen Geschlechts (“Flora: devoted to Germany’s daughters by lady and gentleman friends of the more comely sex”), which appeared between 1793 and 1803 as one of the first periodicals for women in German, maintains that the reference is to Schiller’s Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1797, 236 (xenion 125/357):

125. Publications for Ladies and Children.
Constantly for women and children! Methinks one would write for men,
And leave to the husband care of his wife and child.

The xenion is addressing Huber as editor of Flora; the husband, of course, is Georg Forster. This xenion was preceded by another poking fun at periodicals for women and children in general:

112. Writings for Ladies and Children
"Library for the opposite sex, along with fables for children" —
So, not for children, and not for the opposite sex either.

Erich Schmidt, Xenien 1796, 156, disagrees with what he understands as Boas’s identification of both xenien referring to Cotta’s periodical:

Boas’s interpretation, according to which the reference is to Cotta’s women’s periodical with its publication of Pfeffel’s fables, is forced and fails to recognize the broader target of the merely fictitious title that originally was worded differently. Such writing by and for ladies — what Schiller called the “so-called publications for ladies” — was proliferating at the time.

Schmidt, however, neither addresses Boas’s identification of the specific target in xenion 125/357 as Ludwig Ferdinand Huber nor anywhere suggests which other xenion may have referred to Huber.

Boas, Schiller’s und Goethe’s Xenien-Manuscript, 45–46, however, who was familiar with the present eulogy for Huber and with the reference to the “poisonous arrow dipped in the bile of an aggrieved woman,” draws attention to an earlier xenion that was in fact not included in the collection published in the Musen-Almanach as originally planned (“*” indicating “not included”):

*(7.) Flora, Devoted to Germany's Daughters.
Ah! Would but Pomona [Roman goddess of tree fruit] also bring,
And Hymenaeus, fruits to these good souls.

That is, were marriage but also included in the offerings of those behind the periodical, namely, Huber. The “aggrieved woman” is Dora Stock; the allusion is to Huber’s prior engagement to Dora Stock, the sister of Christian Gottfried Körner’s wife Minna, all of whom, along, originally, with Huber himself, were close friends of Schiller (see esp. Dora Stock’s biogram).

In Mainz, Huber eventually broke off his engagement to Dora Stock, took up with Therese Forster, with whom he had already developed a romantic relationship, gave up his diplomatic post, departed Mainz, later met up with Therese and her children, and married Therese after Georg Forster’s death, eventually landing in Switzerland. See Therese Forster’s letter to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 22 March 1793 (letter 121a), note 7. Boas explains why this particular xenion was not included in the published collection (Schiller’s und Goethe’s Xenien-Manuscript, 46):

I understand the meaning of this epigram as follows: Germany’s daughters are to be lamented if they are to be satisfied merely with the blossoms of being betrothed, that is, if fruits do not beckon to them from the altar of matrimony as well. As is well known, Huber, in order to marry Therese Forster, separated from his betrothed fiancée, Dora Stock. Goethe knew the latter personally along with her sister, Minna, from his earlier youth, having taken instruction in engraving and etching from their father during his university years. In his autobiography, he remembers both daughters of the upright Stock: “of these two, one is happily married [Minna Körner], the other an excellent artist; both have remained my lifelong friends.”

With respect to xenion 125/357 above, Boas now explains how *no. 7 came to be eliminated and no. 125 inserted as its replacement against Huber (Schiller’s und Goethe’s Xenien-Manuscript, 134–35):

With regard to xenion no. 7 above, we saw that . . . [Huber’s] behavior toward his fiancée constituted the epigrammatic point of the distich. Schiller, however, was probably disinclined to drag Dora into the quarrel, which is why that particular xenion [i.e., no. 7] was left behind. The two friends [Schiller and Goethe] thus arranged to punish disloyal Huber in a different way, collectively implementing the plan of having Schiller compose no. 112, and Goethe no. 125.

Although xenion no. 347 is referring solely to Georg Forster and his wife [Therese Forster, née Heyne, Huber’s later wife], Huber was indeed personally attacked in the Xenien, something the well-informed biographer also knew who composed Forster’s eulogy in the Berlin periodical Der Freimüthige (1805) 34 [Boas now cites the passage in question here with the reference to the “aggrieved woman”].

Charlotte von Schiller names her husband as the author of the epigram, and I could not but agree with her before finding out that Goethe, too, took part and also took sides in this situation. Back.

[3] See supplementary appendix 128.1 and the play The Mainz Clubbists in Königstein. Back.

[4] Sakontala oder der entscheidende Ring: Ein indisches Schauspiel von Kalidas, trans. and ed. Georg Forster, 2nd ed., ed. I. G. v. Herder (Frankfurt am Main 1803). Back.

[5] Concerning Goethe’s play Die natürliche Tochter (Jena 1803), a play sometimes referred by the name of the primary character, Eugenie, see Dorothea Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 8 December 1804 (letter 388c), note 4. Ludwig Ferdinand Huber had reviewed the piece in the Neue Leipziger Literatur-Zeitung (1804) 28 (29 February 1804), 433–37. Back.

[6] The designer Countess Jennison Vallvort. Back.

[7] Germ. Scherz und Ernst, a play on the periodical’s subtitle. Back.

[8] No illustrations were included in the original article; illustrations here: Bibliothèque nationale de France. Concerning the cards, see supplementary appendix 391.2. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott