Letter 82

• 82. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Clausthal, 3 December 1787

[Clausthal] 3 December [17]87

|165| . . . I have not heard from you in such a long time that now there is just so much I must hear about. Professor Meyer told me quite a bit about your children. [1] My own are growing and thriving. [2] There is not much to relate about the rest of my life; externally it is so monotonous that one would merely repeat oneself talking about it. On the other hand, my interior story is all the more diverse, and |166| much too extensive. Why can I not see you? What a heavenly moment it would be, and what sweet hours would follow! [3]

Convey my regards to your husband — in Göttingen I read his poems with pleasure that was mine alone insofar as I was accompanied throughout by the recollection of the dearest years of my life. Please extend my thanks to him for my share, a share so modest and yet so large. [4] Böhmer also sends his regards. Stay well, my dear Louise.

Caroline B.


[1] Caroline apparently visited Göttingen during the autumn of 1787 (see also her letter to Lotte Michaelis earlier in 1787 [letter 78], where she comments on being “still worn out from the journey”). Concerning Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer’s stay in Gotha during the late spring and early summer of 1786, see Caroline’s letter to Lotte Michaelis on 28 May 1786 (letter 70), with note 2.

A year later, on 26 May 1787 (Elise Campe, Erinnerungen, 1:161–62), Meyer began a journey similar to the one he had made in 1786. This time, he visited Kassel, Marburg, Giessen, and Frankfurt, then Koblenz and Cologne (visiting Christian Conrad Wilhelm von Dohm). He then proceeded by way of Aachen and Liège (Lüttich) to Brussels, by way of Mechlin on to Antwerp, and finally by way of Louvain (Loewen), Maastricht, and Aachen to Düsseldorf (visiting Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi) (J. Walch, Neueste Post-Karte von Deutschland und dessen angrenzenden Laendern [Augsburg 1813 ]):


He then made the return journey together with Georg Heinrich Karl Wiebeking by way of Duisburg, Paderborn, Mühlhausen, Langensalza, and Erfurt to Weimar (visiting Herder), then on to Jena (visiting Christian Gottfried Schütz, Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, Justus Christian Loder, Johann Jakob Griesbach, and Gottlieb Hufeland), then back to Weimar (visiting Karl Ludwig von Knebel, H. E. G. Paulus, Christoph Martin Wieland, Anna Amalia, and Goethe):


Finally, he journeyed on to Gotha, where he spent a lengthier stay and, according to Caroline here, saw enough of the Gotters to render an account to Caroline concerning them and their children. He returned to Göttingen on 28 June 1787 and was apparently there when Caroline visited ca. autumn 1787 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Luise’s Gotter’s children were Cäcilie, Julie, and Pauline. Back.

[2] Auguste and Therese, albeit still younger than the two daughters in this illustration (“Die Erholung,” Göttingischer Taschen-Kalender für das Schalt-Jahr 1808; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[3] Goettinger Taschen Calendar für das Jahr 1792; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[4] In Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, Gedichte, vol. 1 (Gotha 1787), 308–10, the poems “Sie selbst” and “An sie selbst” may be referring to Caroline. Here the title vignette:


“Sie selbst” (She/her herself), ibid., 308–9 (“end rhymes of her choice” is glossed in a footnote: “The rhymes to be used in the piece were presented the author by another lady [the preceding poem also used end rhymes], to whom the subsequent poem is also addressed”) (concerning bouts-rimés [or bouts-rimez], “rhymed ends,” see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 22 June 1785 [letter 57] with note 13):

She Herself Composed in end rhymes of her choice. 1785

With what feeling can she linger at the cozy Klavier [pianoforte],
Or conjure the goddess of love's Büste [bust],
(Her likeness!) or a peaceful Küste [shoreline]
(The imprint of her heart!) onto Papier [paper].
More understanding does her own encompass than many a scholar's Hut [cowl],
More instructive her words than all the world's book-Schränke [bookcases],
Sufficient unto herself does she gaze with cold Blut [blood]
At flatterers' homage, at envy's petty Ränke [schemes].
In all she does, in bearing, gait, and Gruss [greeting]
Does her heart hold sway. — Alongside her, what then are most Weiber [women]?
(Though inclined to say it out loud, I know the truth causes Verdruss [vexation])
They are but assembled . . . Leiber [bodies].

“An Sie Selbst” (To Her Herself), ibid., 310:

To Her Herself 1787

Minerva's ideal itself renews in you;
For like as just to her do you
Think, speak, write, and paint,
And e'en embroider too.



Translation © 2011 Doug Stott