Letter 259

• 259. Auguste Böhmer to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 31 March 1800

Jena, 31 March [1800]

|594| I would have written you long ago, my dear Madam Gotter, but the entire time I have simply had so much to do with mother |595| that not a single moment has been left free. Mother really was quite ill and has still not recovered completely. [1]

First she came down with nervous fever, during which she was very bad for an entire week, then the physician prescribed a mustard plaster on her leg, but it stayed on too long and then the wrong salve was applied to it so that it got very bad and caused Mother great pain. This caused her to relapse so severely that she got the nervous fever all over again, and now that that has passed, she has also gotten quite intense cramps, which now, however, are also easing up, and we are looking forward to her complete recovery with every new day.

They say she was in danger of dying a couple of times, but this thought is just too horrifying for me even to think about. [2] Thank God all the danger has now passed, and if things continue as they are and the weather remains good , she may perhaps be able to go out again in a couple of days.

Today it has already been 4 weeks that she has been sick, it was a terrible time, and I would not want to go through it again for anything!

Mother sends her regards and her thanks for your kind good wishes, she is hoping she will soon be able to write again herself. Please forgive my scribbling and my incomplete report, on the next postal day I will probably have more time and then also want to send Cecilie a proper, thorough description of everything that has happened. [3]

Give my warmest regards to your children, my dear girlfriends; ah, had even one of them been here during these days, what a comfort it would have been for me!

Stay well, dear Mother, and please remain at least a little bit fond of your little daughter here.

Auguste Böhmer

Please forgive my scribbling.


[1] Caroline had been ill since the beginning of March; see the chronology for an approximate timeline as reflected in the letters of the Jena group during this period. Back.

[2] Nervous fever was indeed viewed as a potentially mortal illness (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Alexander sitzt auf Minchens Totenbett [1779]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.313):



[3] If Auguste wrote such a letter, it seems not to have been preserved, since her next letter to Cecile Gotter is from Bamberg on 16 May 1800 (letter 260), in which she remarks only that because Caroline had still been ill, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland had urgently prescribed a stay in a mineral-springs spa; Auguste does mention there, however, that she may already have written as much to Cecile, so at least one letter seems to be missing.

Throughout this project, I translate the German term Bad as “mineral-springs spa” in such contexts, as opposed, e.g., to its references more narrowly to bathing.

Although the rendering “spa” alone might suffice, to avoid the evocation of subsequent English use as a type of “a bath or small pool containing hot aerated water” (New Oxford American Dictionary) I use “mineral-springs spa” commensurate with the broader description (“mineral source”) in A. B. Granville in 1838, Spas of Germany, 2nd ed. (London 1838), ix (illustration of Karlsbad ibid., frontispiece):

I have just mentioned the word Spa, and I have adopted it throughout the present work, instead of the more ordinary expressions of watering-places, bathing-places, &c. The reason must be obvious. It was necessary, where a constant repetition of it was likely to occur, that the word employed to signify a mineral source at which people assemble, to drink as well as to bathe in the waters, and at which gas-baths and mud-baths are also administered, should be brief, and equally applicable to all of them, without affecting any exclusive meaning, except that which, in common acceptation, it is understood to imply. The word spa was ready at hand, as a generic appellative, of the sort I wished; and the authority of the great English lexicographer left no doubt, in my mind, of the propriety of using it.



Translation © 2013 Doug Stott