Letter 13

• 13. Caroline to Luise Stieler in Gotha: Göttingen, 17 March 1780

Göttingen, 17 March 1780

|24| . . . So, May 30 is the day that will unite you with Gotter [1] . . .

One more thing: In this year’s Göttinger |25| Musenalmanach, have a look at the poem “An Bianka bey einer Beerdigung,” with an Italian superscription and the signature “Gu–,” and then tell me whether it is not quite excellent; it is by a certain Meyer here, known as the “Harburg Meyer,” since there are several Meyers; [2] Gotter may be acquainted with him, since I think he was in Gotha once; but do not confuse him with Canon Meyer, who will be coming this summer and who is also an extremely ardent adorateur of Fräulein Böhmer [3] and whose character and appearance have many similarities with the other Meyer. “Bianka” is Friederike, the occasion was the burial of the blessed Baron von Reck, which I described for you. [4] Is this not a pretty passage?

In your heart can you grieve o'er another’s pain,
You for whom this whole world laughs.
But woe! should e'er it bear the scoundrel vain
Who makes you weep for yourself.

And how prophetic at the same time, since — alas! — only too soon the earth did indeed bear a scoundrel who made Friederike weep for herself. But this Meyer is now gone. And as you will see yourself, the other is a dangerous person, his noble soul comes to such fine expression in his countenance and makes one feel so secure. . . .


[1] Caroline seems to be mistaken with the date, since Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter married Luise Stieler on 30 March 1780 in Gotha; the other possibility is that Erich Schmidt misread the manuscript (for an explanation, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Stieler on 24 January 1780 [letter 10] with note 1). Back.

[2] Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer, “An Bianka, bei einer Beerdigung,” Göttinger Musenalmanach (1780), 97 (also — altered, including the passage Caroline cites later in the letter — in Meyer’s Spiele des Witzes und der Phantasie [Berlin 1793], 13–14, under the new title “Als Bianka bey einer Beerdigung weinte”; text see supplementary appendix 13.1); the Italian superscription is from Petrarch (translation from Francesco Petrarca, The Canzoniere, or, Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, trans. Mark Musa [Bloomington 1999], 111):

A VOI rivolgo il mio debile stile,
Pigro da se: ma'l gran piacer lo sprona;
E chi di VOI ragiona,
Tien dal suggetto vu' habito gentile

("to you I turn this style of mine so frail
by nature lazy, but by great pleasure spurred;
and he who speaks of you
acquires from the subject gracious habit")

Meyer published seven poems in the Göttinger Musenalmanach for 1780 under the pseudonym “Gu.” and one under the pseudonym “Pine” (enumerated in Strodtmann 2:361n1; see listing in project bilbiography. Back.

[3] Dr. iur. Friedrich Johann Lorenz Meyer did not really become canon of the Hamburg cathedral until 1784. On 12 April 1795, he did indeed marry Sophie Amalia Friederike Böhmer (“Friederike” in the next sentence), whose confirmation Caroline describes with pious effusiveness on 18 March 1780 (a letter Erich Schmidt unfortunately does not include). Back.

[4] Caroline must have mentioned the funeral in a letter to Luise Stieler that has since been lost. She also mentions the funeral in her letter to Julie von Studnitz on 25 August 1779 (letter 9) (Höltys Elegie auf ein Landmädchen [1794]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.985):



Translation © 2011 Doug Stott