Letter 275

• 275. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Braunschweig, 24 November 1800 [*]

Braunschweig, 24 November 1800

Please forgive me, my dear friend, for having returned not even a single greeting to all of you. You would, I think, more quickly forgive me than be put at ease yourself if you but knew how I have been hindered by all sorts of ills, both physical and emotional.

You probably still remember our itinerary. [1] Only with considerable effort were we able to get to Göttingen, since neither your coachman nor your mareschino have the least bit of fire in them. Otherwise all of you are as dear and fine as ever, and I departed with a decidedly gentle and kind impression. Your children especially gave me more joy than ever before. —

I stayed in Göttingen for two-and-a-half days, though even that much became difficult because I was already suffering unpleasant cold symptoms. [2] An acquaintance with the Neapolitan Tischbein provided a bit of distraction, since he comically related — and also showed us — a great many remarkable things. [3]

I then left Schlegel there and traveled on to here, happy finally to be able to enjoy a measure of peace and quiet, which my body also very much needed. [4] For I was still barely in a condition to travel out and meet Schlegel in Söder according to our plans, the estate of Herr von Brabeck, from whom we had found an invitation upon arriving in Göttingen. Although I suffered a terrible case of diarrhea the night before I was to leave, my desire to behold magnificent works of art again was sufficiently strong for me to set out on the trip with Wiedemann in spite of it. [5]

We arrived at the country estate toward evening and found Schlegel already there, who |17| had arrived from Hannover. [5a] Although we were quite graciously received by Herr and Madam von Brabeck and given accommodations with them, I felt on the verge of fainting the entire evening. The night’s rest restored me to a certain extent, and for the next two days I was able to enjoy all the beauty there with much clearer eyes.

His collection of paintings is excellent. He has things of the most exquisite beauty and actually nothing at all that is merely mediocre. The house has been furnished with virtually pristine taste and provides a serene disposition, as it were, for the jewels of art he possesses. We spent our time there as if in a fairy castle, and as if removed from the world of pain in which I now have my home. —

Perhaps you can find a description of Söder to read, either in French, Soeder par Roland, or the translation. [6] Although this particular work is indeed full of praise, for us even those expectations were truly exceeded. One would have to and indeed would need to be considerably more frugal with one’s praise and yet could still produce an even more charming description, and certainly a much more elegantly entertaining one of our stay there.

Hardly had I arrived back here again before I also had to pay a price, [7] since first I had a light attack, then 14 days ago a much more serious one that would surely once again have produced a nervous fever had I not received the same medical treatment as I did this past spring. [8] Given these circumstances, Schlegel remained here with me, nor is his departure date definitely set yet. [9]

I cannot leave the house, and hardly even my room. Although I made several attempts to attend the French theater here (that is, to be driven there), which has been put together by several members of the French theater in Hamburg, it immediately went very ill for me indeed. Hence I have also given up even this modest distraction. [10] Except for the Campes and Viewegs |18| and some friends of my sister, I neither have been able nor have I wanted to visit anyone from among my old acquaintances. [11]

You can easily imagine, however, how I am otherwise living amid the most devoted maternal and sisterly care. Luise’s children are such agreeable creatures, the little boy especially is quite handsome and strong. [12] Through them, their grandmother is living quite in the present and has probably not really sensed as vehemently what I myself have lost. At the very least she perceives it more as my own misfortune than as the loss of the heavenly being herself.

As far as all of you are concerned, I do know that you all grieve not only over me, but also with me, and I will always, always want to return to be among you, for none of you will ever forget her. I still do not have the larger picture from the Tischbeins, and I also left the drawing in Goettingen and am longing indescribably for it. [13]

Schlegel has finished the Kotzebuffoon edifice; it will be printed in 14 days, and I will send you a copy. [14]

That reminds me of your request concerning Goeschen. [15] My dear friend, might you not write to him yourself? You well know how to wield a quill, and for me it would unavoidably turn into an extremely difficult letter because, given my relationship with the Goeschens, I cannot remain silent about my own situation and yet have gone so long without letting them know anything about me. Moreover, you certainly count as much in his estimation and indeed even more than we considering that he took sides with considerable zeal against Schlegel. [16] If he denies it to you, he would certainly have denied it to me. But do it quickly so that if necessary one can still consider other measures as well.

[Various concerns.] Please extend my warmest regards to Mother Schläger. —

I found letters from my brother Philipp containing urgent invitations to go to Harburg; he wanted to pick me up in Celle and also show me Hamburg afterward, but I simply cannot think about such things just now. Should I make it to Celle after all, however, I will definitely pay a visit |19| to the Chanoinesse as well in Wienhausen. [17]

My regards to your entire family. Schlegel remembers Julie with extreme fondness and all of you with the warmest feelings of friendship.

Your Caroline


[*] This letter is the first extant letter to Luise Gotter following Caroline and Wilhelm Schlegel’s visit in Gotha on their way from Bamberg to Braunschweig; they arrived in Gotha on 4 October 1800 and seem to have stayed a couple of days. Back.

[1] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 18 September 1800 (letter 268), note 1. Back.

[2] Caroline was also prohibited from staying longer; see the rescript of the Hannoverian University Board of Trustees to university officials in Göttingen (letter/document 269). Back.

[3] One seems to have been an invitation from Friedrich Moritz von Brabeck to visit his estate, Söder Chateau (see below). Tischbein himself, along with his nephew Wilhelm Unger, signed the guestbook at Söder on 30 October 1800, after Caroline, Wilhelm, and Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann had signed it on 22 October 1800. Back.

[4] Wilhelm continued on to Hannover to visit his mother. Back.

[5] “Le coche de voyage du dix-huitiéme siécle,” in anonymous, “La locomotion terrestre: Les ancients coutures de voyage,” La nature: Revue des sciences etc. 16 (1888), premier semestre, no. 768 (18 February 1888), 177–79, here 177:


Concerning this extraordinary visit, see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 15–24 October 1800 (letter 272) and the gallery on her visit to Söder. Back.

[5a] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Schnell und ungleich ist die Fahrt, die uns durch das Leben träget (1778); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.252:


“Found Schlegel already there”: Namely, at the Heidekrug Inn, not at the chateau with Brabeck. “Söder” as such included the inn at the time. All three travelers were then taken by carriage to the chateau itself (Aglaia: Jahrbuch für Frauenzimmer auf 1803 [Frankfurt]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] Contemporary illustration of Söder Chateau as such a “fairy castle” (reproduced by the kind permission of Jobst-Heinrich Lampe):


Charles Antoine de Saqui-Sannes, using the pseudonym S. S. Roland, Söder par S. S. Roland (Göttingen 1797) (in French); German translation: Söder von S. S. Roland, aus dem Französischen ins Deutsche übersetzt von C[arl] G[ottlieb] Horstig, mit zwey malerischen Ansichten un einem Grundrisse von Söder, nebst dem Bildnisse des Freyherrn von Brabek (Leipzig bey Voss und Comp., 1799); Tafelband (plates volume) Die Kupfer zu Söder (Leipzig 1799). See also Wilhelm’s review of the French original in supplementary appendix 272.1. Back.

[7] Caroline, Wilhelm, and Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann arrived back in Braunschweig on 22 October 1800. Back.

[8] It will be recalled that Caroline came down ill on 1 March 1800; concerning her illness and its treatment, see the letters during March and April 1800. Back.

[9] It seems Wilhelm was planning either on returning to Jena (thus the expectation of Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit in their letters to him during the autumn of 1800) or of continuing on to Berlin (thus the implication in several letters during the late summer and autumn of 1800). See esp. Mother Schlegel’s unclear remark in her letter to him on 21 October 1800 (letter 272a) concerning his return to Braunschweig from Söder: “You will also be quite content in Braunschweig, though the separation from your dear wife will be difficult.” Back.

[10] See Caroline’s account of her visit to the French theater in Braunschweig in her undated letter to Schelling in October 1800 (letter 273). Back.

[11] Johann Friedrich Vieweg, now Joachim Heinrich Campe’s son-in-law, had moved to Braunschweig from Berlin in 1799. Caroline and Auguste had lived in Braunschweig between April 1795 and July 1796. Back.

[12] The Wiedemanns had two children: Emma and August. Unfortunately, Caroline would witness August’s death in Braunschweig in March 1801; see her account in her letter to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 (letter 301). Back.

[13] Caroline wrote similarly to Schelling on 15 October 1800 (letter 272). She is here referring to the larger portrait of Auguste. Concerning illustrations of Auguste, see Sophie Tischbein’s letter to Caroline on 28 Auguste 1800 (letter 267), note 2. Back.

[14] The “Kotzebuffoon, elsewhere also called the Kotzebuade, is Wilhelm’s dramatic satire on August von Kotzebue’s return to Germany from Russia and represents Wilhelm’s response, albeit a bit belated, to Kotzebue’s anti-Romantic satire, The Hyperborean Ass.

References to and additional materials and reactions connected with Wilhelm’s piece recur in coming letters. See the introduction to the Ehrenpforte, as it is also often referred, in the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Wilhelm began the piece in July 1800, ceased work on it after Auguste’s death, and completed it on 20 November 1800. It was published in mid-December 1800. Back.

[15] Presumably concerning the complicated history of publication of materials in Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s literary estate. See, e.g., Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 2 May 1795 October 1799 (letter 246), note 12, with additional cross references. Back.

[16] Presumably a reference to Wilhelm’s harshly satirical remarks about the “aged Wieland” in Athenaeum. Concerning Wilhelm’s proposed “annihilation” of Wieland, see Friedrich’s letter to Caroline of 20 October 1798 (letter 205) and esp. the supplementary appendix on the break with Wieland, specifically its section on Wieland’s annihilation. Göschen had, moreover, given Wilhelm complementary copies of Wieland’s elegant collected works, Sämmtliche Werke (Leipzig 1794–1802), which eventually comprised forty-five volumes. Back.

[17] Celle (Zelle) is located ca. 35 km northeast of Hannover, 50 km northwest of Braunschweig, and 105 km south of Hamburg; Harburg is just south across the Elbe River from Hamburg (map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; illustration of Celle: Mathaeus Merian, Topographia und Eigentliche und Beschreibung der Vornehmbsten Stäte, Schlösser auch anderer Plätze und Örter in denen Hertzogthümer Braunschweig und Lüneburg und denen dazu gehörende Grafschafften, Herrschafften und Landen [Frankfurt 1654], following p. 216):


Wienhausen is located ca. 15 km southeast of Celle (Zelle) (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 13):


Here similar illustrations of the Wienhausen (also spelled Weinhausen here) convent by (1) Matthäus Merian (Martin Zeiller, Topographia und Eigentliche Beschreibung Der Vornembsten Stäte, Schlösser auch anderer Plätze und Örter in denen Hertzogthümer[n] Braunschweig und Lüneburg, und denen dazu gehörende[n] Grafschafften Herrschafften und Landen [Franckfurt 1654], following p. 214) and (2) from Wilhelm Göres, Vaterländische Geschichten und Denkwürdigkeiten der Vorzeit der Lande Braunschweig und Hannover, 2nd ed. ed. Ferdinand Spehr, vol. 3 (Braunschwieig 1881), 75:


Wienhausen_conven t


Translation © 2014 Doug Stott