Letter 181

• 181. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, March 1797

[Jena, March 1797]

|419| Precious soul, my dear, precious woman, perhaps if I did not have to write you, I would not yet do so today. [1] As soon as I approach near to you, and be it only in thought, my heart, which is already overflowing, retreats back into itself for precisely that reason. Although I have already spoken and wept with you hundreds of times, I could yet wait a long time before I could write it down and articulate it in words addressed directly to you. You know everything I must be feeling now. Your pain renews our friendship. If only my own friendship could repay you in the future for some of the consolation and comfort yours has given me! In thought I am already hastening ahead to this potential time.

Forgive me for speaking to you so soon about business matters whose proper implementation can provide a modicum of relief for you. You have doubtless read my letters to our lady friends in which I spoke about the posthumous manuscripts of our deceased friend. [2] Please try to write and tell me your opinion on the matter before I depart, which will be this coming Sunday. [3]

Schiller is quite eager to publish something in Die Horen. If it is more than individual scenes, then the piece can admittedly not be published for a few years — but you would immediately receive 4 louis d’or per sheet. I think Göschen would perhaps offer 200 rh. for the volume, which would contain Der schöne Geist and Marianne. Please let me know whether in addition to these two pieces there is anything else — poems or dramatic pieces — that might perhaps be submitted for Die Horen — or whether you consider it more advantageous to have the pieces published and remunerated individually now, since they will admittedly be published again later.

|420| I would so gladly have come myself, dearest Louise, but there has been no opportunity, and our departure date is now too close. If you cannot decide concerning these things alone, you can nonetheless easily make those who will be participating understand that it must be undertaken soon. —

Please also write and tell me how things stand with the Geisterinsel if you indeed know. One might be able to submit individual scenes from that play for Die Horen; I do intend at least to ask Schiller about it. If Einsiedel’s consent is necessary, Schlegel will write him. If possible, and if you would like for us to help you in this matter otherwise as well, please send me Der schöne Geist that Göschen might see something of it and not be scared off by the word “translation.” [4] I am in a terrible hurry and am probably writing a bit confusedly, but you will . . .

[Conclusion to the letter is missing.]


[1] Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter had succumbed to consumption on 18 March 1797; a year later, in 1798, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki did an illustration of a grieving widow and three children remarkably similar to what Luise Gotter and her three daughters likely experienced (Göttinger Taschenkalender [1798]):


The widow and her children afterward remained in limited financial circumstances, whence these immediate concerns about publishing Gotter’s posthumous writings if possible. Back.

[2] The pieces under discussion in this letter:

  • Mariane. Ein bürgerliches Trauerspiel in 3 Aufzügen für das herzogliche Hoftheater (Gotha 1776), freely adapted in 1775/76 for the Gotha court theater after Jean-François de La Harpe’s monastic melodrama Mélanie. Drame en trois actes et en vers (Amsterdam 1770); Mariane was not published in its new (revised) version until 1802 in Gotter’s Gedichte, vol. 3: Literarischer Nachlass von Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter. Mit des Verfassers Biographie und seinem Bildnisse, ed. by Friedrich von Schlichtegroll (Gotha 1802), 1–124, which also included the rather long-winded comedy
  • Der schöne Geist oder das poetische Schloss, 125–418, adapted after Philippe Néricault (Destouches), La fausse Agnès ou le Poète campagnard. Comédie (Paris 1759), and
  • Die Geisterinsel (Geister-Insel in that edition), 419–564.

(The 1802 volume concludes with Eine Kantate auf Maria Theresia, “Maria Theresia bey ihrem Abschiede von Frankreich. Kantate,” 565–76.) Back.

[3] Caroline, Wilhelm, and Auguste seem not to have departed for Dresden until Monday, 10 April 1797 (see supplementary appendix 181c.1). Back.

[4] Concerning the disposition and posthumous publication of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s plays, see supplementary appendix 181.1. Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott