Letter 189

• 189. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 1 November 1797

Jena, 1 Nov[ember] 1797

|433| Dear Louise, I confess you have told me some extraordinarily disheartening things about yourself, and your letter has thwarted some very dear, long nurtured expectations. Hence you are quite right in believing your heart when it tells you that we are extremely dissatisfied with you. |434| You should have decided much earlier to come visit us, then you would not have to allow yourself to be held back now by an irksome set of circumstances. [1]

Auguste is absolutely inconsolable, since now I cannot promise her that I will be traveling over there. Without a specific purpose, it is always just so circumstantial, and although such a purpose would itself make it easy enough to overcome such obstacles, the very act of overcoming requires a new decision in its own turn. Your firm promise to come in the spring can indeed not satisfy us, since we no longer trust you and — more seriously yet — since in the spring we ourselves will presumably be taking another lengthier journey. [2]

So you can see what a mess you have made of everything! How I would have loved to see you here, and let me tell you, it would also have done you a world of good to get away from things! You are expending all sorts of energy that you still so desperately need. Your incessant grief is not good for your children — my precious, dearest woman, your entire soul should be focused on them; you should be nurturing your hopes at least as tenderly as you do your pain. Although I do not for a moment doubt your maternal concern, you must believe me when I say that every bit of grief and sorrow gradually brings about inertia. At the very least, you then might easily take the wrong path.

It is surely not beneficial for Cecile’s young disposition to witness, daily, such a wholly unstable emotional disposition as yours must be at the moment — she has always been rather inclined to precocity — and which element of cheerfulness — cheerfulness certainly not compatible with such a disposition — do young girls not need if they are to prepare for themselves a proper place in the world, in preparation for which all their talents must be nurtured and yet none of their emotions unnecessarily stirred?

My dear Louise, he would be of the same opinion as I — are you not convinced of that yourself? The most intimate friendship had resolved to commend precisely that to you, flattering itself |435| that you would return home more comforted than before. Hence forgive me if I am unable to view the postponement of your journey as an otherwise indifferent matter that merely robs us of the pleasure of seeing each other again. I was myself postponing until your visit all the things I wanted to put before you, all the things I wanted to tell you to help ease your pain. You really have no one around who can speak to you that way. Personal experience and heartfelt urgency grant me certain privileges before others in this regard. To me it seemed so urgent that we see each other — you, of course, are not occupying yourself with me now as much as I with you. — And I will certainly take advantage of the next opportunity. —

If you could and would promise me that Cecile might come visit were I to come see you soon, I believe Schlegel would gladly give me permission to make a special trip there. Toward the spring, you would then get her back again along with Auguste, whom we are definitely not taking with us this time for several different reasons; [3] and after our return you would come visit me with all your children. [4]

All this just occurred to me now. But please be not afraid that I am trying to push you or coerce your inclination in one direction or the other. It is merely that, my dear friend, you should also not count on us always remaining nearby to where you live — such can change quite easily. [5] And pay no attention when Cecile becomes difficult and does not want to let you go — when I come, I will speak with her, and she will follow me when she sees that it is both your and my wish. So please do consider it, dear, and not merely superficially — I am speaking out of the very depths of my soul.

Young Hof came and recounted the sad occurrence to me — when I received this particular bit of news instead of the anticipated letter from you, my faith in your visit immediately sank. The more concern and worry surround you [6] . . .

[End of page.]

|436| I have reproaches to make with you in your other matter as well, my dear. From the very outset, you expressed yourself in so confused a fashion concerning it that only now do I understand what the issue is. [7] . . It was I who suggested that at most one might eliminate scenes in order to free Fleischmann from the fear of another compositeur. This was after you yourself had again accepted Schiller’s request, which I had already wholly rejected because you seemed so disinclined. . . .

Come what may, Schiller is completely innocent, and I do not at all understand what your intention is with your mistrust or the lines from his hand. However he may otherwise be — (and no one is less partial to him than I), there can be no question that he passed the manuscript on. That said, whatever he is planning to publish he must, after all, pass on to someone else. Indeed, that which is published in Die Horen is actually printed in Swabia, and thus must travel the entire way there. [8]

This is the first I myself have heard that any publication of the opera violates a contract with Fleischmann. The first act has just appeared in its entirety with the note [9] — the others will be appearing in the following volumes, each one individually.

We can do nothing but prevent the printing of the final act until after the actual performance in Frankfurt, if even this is still possible, since one prints such things far in advance. In all likelihood it will not happen this year. Not even Schiller himself can know that for sure. Should you not definitely have explained what sort of contract you had with Fleischmann? He is horribly afraid of rivals. And in any event, once the piece has been performed somewhere, no one, after all, can then prevent it from being passed on secretly. In Berlin, Himmel will certainly not own that it is Fleischmann’s composition that is being performed. [10] |437| If it is good, if it has a successful run in Frankfurt, it will long have gotten into circulation by the time Himmel is finished. . . .

Of course, Schiller would not have accepted it in fragmentary form, from what I hear. Whatever you end up doing to address the wrong done to Fleischmann, only do not blame Schiller, who is completely innocent. He was glad to use his journal [11] to present something for which people had long been waiting, and to do so in an extremely advantageous fashion for you. But it is not at all like him to mention it further, even in conversation.

That Himmel allegedly already has the manuscript is surely merely a piece of gossip. I believe Einsiedel would have preferred to give it to Himmel. Madam Schröder was not satisfied with Fleischmann’s music — but they are just as unlikely to have passed it on anywhere.

I am heartily embarrassed by this affair, and yet I can also not ascribe any blame to myself, since I knew absolutely nothing specific about it. Please let me know soon whether you are now planning to undertake anything against Fleischmann, or what else I can do. The Diderot manuscript can wait for now, [12] only see if you can find the one for Einsiedel, since he reminded me of it once again. [13]

Forgive me for perhaps having had to upset you today in these different ways. Take the first part of the letter to heart once more — and do not worry yourself unnecessarily on account of the second.

Your Caroline


[1] Caroline had been trying to persuade Luise Gotter, a recent widow, to visit her in Jena since the death of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter back on 18 March 1797 (see Caroline’s letters to her on 28 June , 7 September, and 15 October 1797 [letter 183, 185, 188]) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


It is the grief occasioned by his death and by the ensuing familial problems (including finances) to which Caroline is referring in the first part of this letter. Back.

[2] Caroline would be in Dresden from May till early October 1798, a journey of approximately 170 km if one travels by way of Leipzig (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; street scene in Dresden ca. 1750 by Bernardo Belotto):





[3] Caroline had wanted Auguste to stay with the Gotters in Gotha while Caroline herself and Wilhelm were in Dresden during the spring of 1797; see her letter to Luise Gotter in early 1797 (letter 180). Gotter’s death in March made it necessary to take Auguste with them after all, whence some of the letters from Jena we now have from Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste in Dresden. This time, too, Auguste would accompany them to Dresden. Back.

[4] The Gotters’ daughters were Cäcilie, Julie, and Pauline. Back.

[5] Jena is ca. 60 km from Gotha. There is, however, otherwise no documentation that Caroline and Wilhelm were seriously discussing leaving Jena at this time (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[6] Calender für das Jahr 1803 (Offenbach) (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[7] At issue is the complicated history of the musical composition for Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s play, Die Geisterinsel, concerning which see supplementary appendix 181.1. Concerning several other plays under discussion at the time, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in March 1797 (letter 181) with note 2. Back.

[8] By Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen, southwest of Stuttgart, the latter already 200 km southwest of Jena (Thomas Kitchin, (Composite of) Europe divided into its empires, kingdoms, states, republics, &c [1787]):


Tübingen is then situated ca. 40 km southwest of Stuttgart itself (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[9] The first installment of the publication of Die Geisterinsel in Schiller’s Die Horen (1797) 11, no. 8, 1–26, was prefaced on page 1 by the following note:

From Gotter’s literary estate. This opera, by virtue of a formal and exclusive contract with the writer, was set to music by Herr Fleischmann in Meinungen, and indeed finished while the writer was yet alive. Its execution enjoyed the deceased writer’s complete approval. The opera will very soon be performed in the theater, and immediately after the first performance both the score and the libretto will be available, in which regard the theater directors who wish to acquire such are advised to direct their requests either to the composer or to the poet’s widow. Back.

[10] Fleischmann’s score was rejected in Berlin in favor of that of Johann Friedrich Reichardt. Back.

[11] Die Horen. Back.

[12] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 15 October 1797 (letter 188) with note 8. Back.

[13] At issue is a play Einsiedel allegedly wrote called Lothimela; see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 15 October 1797 (letter 188) and Caroline’s assurances to Einsiedel himself in the matter in her letter to him on 18 October 1797 (letter 188a). Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott