Letter 306

• 306. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Harburg, 12 April, 1801 [*]

12 April, Haarburg [1801]

|94| I have returned from across the Elbe and just want to let you know briefly how things stand.

I did receive your letter of 1 April. [1] If my yearning is able to give you any joy, then you may certainly be triumphant, for it is tearing me apart, consuming me, something I must hasten to bring to an end.

Hence I have also abbreviated all further plans that I may depart here on the 16th, meet my mother in Celle that she in her own turn may return here with my carriage and traveling companions, and I then arrive in Jena before late on the 24th. [2]

I only hope my arrival will not disturb you precisely at the beginning of your lectures. [3] Be strong, my friend, for I do not want to see, acknowledge, or love you any other way.

The situation regarding public events has been greatly altered by Paul’s death. [4] Everything can remain the way it was in Lower Saxony. Although the Hannoverian troops did |95| indeed march out of here yesterday, reliable news since yesterday also maintains that the advance march of the Prussians has for the moment been stopped — a courier from Berlin came through here trying to catch up with the English prince in Cuxhaven, where the latter was intending to leave for England, and recall him [5]

England appears to be seeking peace with France. Also yesterday, L’estoc, Buonaparte’s adjutant, [6] and Berthier’s son both came through; [7] they along with a merchant stopped at the house of my brother’s brother-in-law and told him both that England wanted peace and that they were on their way to Copenhagen in order to negotiate the articles involving the north. —

The Danes are expected to leave Hamburg any day now. [8] Even though they defended themselves quite courageously in the Sund, [9] Nelson simply has the far superior numbers, and without Sweden, which seems to be wavering, and without Russia, which has suffered an exceptional stroke, he will doubtless be able to become the complete master of Denmark [10] — which is why ultimately this great thunderstorm will probably disperse after all.

I will be writing you at most once more before my arrival.

Hardenberg has passed to the other side, and very gently. Schlegel wrote and told me. Friedrich was there with him when he died. [11]

May God keep you until I myself can, you my friend, my beloved above all else.


[*] Caroline is now back in Harburg. The following illustration shows the location of Caroline’s previous letter, namely, Altona, in the foreground, and, in the farthest distance to the left, just visible across the Elbe River, Harburg (G. A. Liebe, View from Altona upon the River and Parts Thereabouts as far as Haarburg [1771]):



[1] In her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel from Hamburg on 10 April 1801 (letter 305), Caroline remarks that she would likely be returning to Harburg the next day. Concerning the location of Harburg, south of Hamburg across the Elbe River, see the editorial note to Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 4–5 April 1801 (letter 304). — Schelling’s letter is no longer extant. Back.

[2] Concerning the route of the journey back to Braunschweig, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 24 November 1800 (letter 275), note 17. Caroline arrived back in Braunschweig from this trip on 18 April 1801; her mother, however, returned to Harburg with Philipp Michaelis. Caroline departed Braunschweig on 21 April and arrived back in Jena on 23 April 1801 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[3] Concerning Schelling’s lecture schedule in Jena during the summer semester 1801, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 April 1801 (letter 304a), note 1. Back.

[4] Czar Paul I of Russia, who had ascended the throne in November 1796, was assassinated in his bedroom in St. Michael’s Palace in St. Petersburg on 23 March 1801. Concerning the political and military situation Caroline discusses next and how his death altered both, see supplementary appendix 304.1. Back.

[5] Cuxhaven is located up the Elbe River ca. 100 km from Hamburg and Harburg (Ludwig Ravenstein, Atlas des Deutschen Reichs [Leipzig 1883]):


Prince Adolphus had been in Berlin trying to negotiate with the Prussians. Back.

[6] The name L’estoc reappears in the third paragraph of Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 14 April 1801 (letter 307) but was crossed out and replaced with Laurisson, probably Jacques Lauriston. Back.

[7] Uncertain allusion. Because the war minister, Berthier, did not marry until 1808 (a niece of the king of Bavaria), and since their only son, Napoléon Alexandre Berthier, was not born until 1810 (died 1887), the identity of this “son” remains unclear. Perhaps one of his brothers is meant, César Berthier (1765–1819), who also served in the French army, at this time as an adjutant general, but in Italy, and who is not otherwise mentioned in this capacity in 1801, or Victor Leopold Berthier (1770–1807), a general and engineer, who is also not mentioned in this context. Berthier’s own father was Jean Baptiste Berthier, though he was never minister of war (Caroline will mention Berthier as the minister of war again in her letter to Wilhelm on 14 April 1801 [letter 307]). Back.

[8] Concerning the Danes’ evacuation of Hamburg, see the final paragraph in supplementary appendix 304.1. Back.

[9] Öresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden providing one of the few outlets from the Baltic Sea Map of the Empire of Germany including all the states comprehended under that name with the Kingdom of Prussia, &c. (London 1782):



[10] Concerning the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801, Nelson’s naval superiority, the bravery of the Danes, and the death of Paul I, see supplementary appendix 306.1. Back.

[11] Friedrich had reported Hardenberg’s death to Wilhelm on 27 March 1801 (letter 303a), who in turn reported it to Caroline in a letter (no longer extant) to which she replied on 10 April 1801 (letter 305). Concerning the circumstances of Hardenberg’s death, see supplementary appendix 303a.1. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott