Letter 320c

320c. Julie Gotter to Cecile Gotter in Weimar: Jena, 15 June 1801 [*]

Jena, 15 June 1801

My dear sister, Madam W. has probably wholly dashed for you any hope that we might see each other in Weimar. For me to inform you myself would really be quite difficult, since I certainly do not want my own letter to cause you to faint — which would probably your reaction to such horrific news. [1]

As much as your letter certainly did amuse me with its wry humor and wit, I nevertheless did feel sorry for you and greatly sympathized with you. Indeed, only then did I really, truly begin to lament so profoundly that we did not go to Weimar, [2] and solely for your sake from this pure source, though I am at the same time persuaded that your yearning to see me comes merely or almost completely from curiosity. [3] But I had already philosophically resigned myself to doing without the theater [4] and all the other pleasant possibilities in Weimar, and had done so quite without it causing me any unpleasant feelings.

You are probably imagining that I am studying philosophy with our friend, and that I genuinely have already made such enormous progress that I am now wholly indifferent to something of that sort. By no means, my excellent sister! You are quite mistaken. For I am still just as much a layperson in this discipline as I was in Gotha. And yet precisely because I have already made such progress quite without ever having even engaged in such study, what a fine pupil would he not find me to be were he to accept me as such! [5]

And by the way, my dear Cecile, I cannot help but laugh with every letter I receive from you. For who was it who said she would “almost never write”? Have you already forgotten? I really cannot but smile at your frequent emotional outpourings, and probably, in order to force me into quite poetic expression, you decide to cast such a sprat to catch a mackerel? Poor child! How, pray, could I torment you were I to write you absolutely nothing? But no matter, for I can never bring myself to do such a thing in any case.

I must inform you that I am forbidden from telling anyone — including you — what is discussed here. I have spoken on several occasions with Madam Schlegel about certain things, and she said I was to tell no one about them. [6] I assured her that it would be extremely difficult for me to do so in any case, since I knew not a single soul to whom I might relate these things. “Including not to Cecile,” she said. But since I am convinced she actually has nothing against you learning of it, I will tell you everything in person, for I can excuse that to myself. But I will not discuss privately in my letter secrets that do not concern me. That is my firm resolution that nothing will make me change and against which you, too, can raise no valid objections.

Confidentially I must tell you that I wish Madam Wiedemann would stay away a little longer; [7] things are so much more pleasant for me then. When she is here, Schelling and Karoline often go to a different part of the house and speak alone, while I have to stay with Madam Wiedemann and the child. [8] But you can easily imagine that it would be much more pleasant for me to be in the others’ society, not least because Schelling is, after all, here but a few hours a day.

But I do get along quite well with Madam Wiedemann; she is very kind to me, and we have gotten off on a quite cordial foot, [9] something you can conclude from my letter to her if you have read it. [10] But she cannot be to me what those others are. And then I also see her the entire rest of the day as well. Since she has been away, however, I have only rarely been alone. Indeed yesterday we had a quite entertaining day. Schelling stayed here from midday till the evening, and was in a proper good mood. He is very open toward Madam Schlegel, and tells her everything [11] . . .

[End of sheet.]

[*] Source: Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181-3-2-1-00003–Chart-A-02181-3-2-1-00004v; by permission.

Concerning the background to Julie Gotter’s stay in Jena, see the editorial note to her letter to Cäcile Gotter on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b). Back.

[1] Luise Wiedemann had been in Weimar with her daughter, Emma, since 6 June 1801. Caroline had tentatively planned to travel over to Weimar with Julie on Saturday, 13 June 1801, to pick them up; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 7–12 June 1801 (letter 320). Julie had already related her own anticipation to Cecile in a letter to her on 9 June 1801 (letter 319c).

See below concerning the reason for Julie not being able to travel over to Weimar, namely, Caroline’s health (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[2] Caroline mentions in her letter to Wilhelm on 10 June 1801 (letter 320) that

[t]he couple of days of cooler weather again derailed me, though Kilian did not, by the way, prescribe anything more than a regular glass of Bishop of fresh bitter orange three times a day [hot drink made of port wine, oranges, cloves] . . . Luise has been in Weimar for several days now with Ludekus. My own condition prevented me from traveling over there yesterday for the performance of Maria Stuart.

Schiller’s Maria Stuart. Ein Trauerspiel (Tübingen 1801) was performed on 10 May 1801, but the Weimar company performed only twice more (13, 15 June 1801 — the day Julie is here writing) before concluding its season in Weimar and moving to Lauchstädt for the main summer season, which is why Julie Gotter so laments having not been able to come to Weimar just now. Otherwise Julie speaks on several occasions in her correspondence with Cecile — as does Caroline herself — about Caroline’s (tediously) poor health. Back.

[3] Uncertain reference; although Julie Gotter had been in Jena since 31 May 1801. Back.

[4] I.e., in this instance the performance of Maria Stuart Caroline mentions in her letter to Wilhelm. Julie Gotter later has ample opportunity to attend the theater in Weimar, and indeed had already attended on 3 and 6 June 1801; see her letter to Cecile on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b), esp. with note 12. Back.

[5] Although even Julie Gotter herself writes to Cäcilie about the philosophical discussions between Caroline and Schelling (see her letter to Cäcilie on 9 June 1801 [letter 319c]), no documentation yet attests that Schelling ever considered instructing or otherwise tutoring Julie Gotter herself in philosophy. Back.

[6] Presumably concerning Caroline’s relationship with Wilhelm, on the one hand, and Schelling, on the other. Julie Gotter turned eighteen on 30 June, and as becomes clear in her letters, was aware of Caroline’s affection for and intimacy with the latter and marital problems with the former, who was absent in Berlin in any case (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Die sonderbare Art Schwiegermutter zu gewinnen [1780; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung 4-255):


Wilhelm did arrive back in Jena on 11 August 1801 but then returned to Berlin in early November) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


In later letters to Julie Gotter, Caroline continues to speak openly about these matters. Nor was Julie Gotter the only person in Jena who was aware of Caroline’s relationship with Schelling in Wilhelm’s absence. See especially Anselm Feuerbach’s frank letter to his father on 18 January 1802 (letter 340a). Back.

[7] See note 1 above; on 10 June Caroline wrote that Luise Wiedemann had already been in Weimar for several days with Johann Wilhelm Ludecus. That is, she had already been gone for a good week. Caroline herself, however, earlier refers to Luise as someone “who is occasionally also known as Madame Wüthemann.” Back.

[8] Not surprisingly, romantically involved couples alone in part of a house separate from other characters was a common situation in literature and the theater at the time. Here four evocations from Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki ([1] Rieckchen, Sieh mich an! Gott weiss, es ist kein falsch in mir [1786]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Uh 4° 47 [63]; [2] Liebespaar [ca. 1751–1800]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 430b; [3] Lieber grausamer Freund! hast du deine Caroline so verlassen können! [1786]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Museumsnr. DChodowiecki AB 3.710; [4] Heyrath durch Zuneigung [1788], Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museumsnr./SignaturDChodowiecki AB 3.765):




[9] Julie Gotter had only been in Jena since 31 May 1801 (Briefwechsel der Familie des Kinderfreundes 1 [Leipzig 1784], illustration following p. 102):



[10] Presumably a letter Julie had written to Luise Wiedemann over the past week while the latter was in Weimar. Back.

[11] Toiletten Kalender für Frauenzimmer (1799); Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Translation © 2019 Doug Stott