Letter 321

• 321. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 19 June 1801 [*]

Jena, 19 June [18]01

|171| My dear friend, it probably could just as easily have been my turn to write this time as yours, but I thought the most important thing was that Julchen write. She is here, and seems glad to be so. And there are several passages in your letter that you |172| really could have left unwritten, e.g., about her being a “burden” etc. But now I would like to turn the tables and do you the service of offering suggestions other than those involving suitable opportunities to bring Julchen back again.

If such opportunities do indeed fall under the rubric of being “burdensome,” and if you are not seriously opposed to Julchen remaining here with me for the time being, then I myself will certainly be happy if I do not become burdensome to her and will view it as just as keen an obligation that she stay as for you that I keep her.

Julchen and I can indeed be mutually quite useful to each other. Everything a family’s daughter usually does, she relieves me of having to do myself, and I can really no longer do without that assistance, since my health suffers after almost every physical exertion, not least because I tend never to be able to do things with the appropriate leisureliness. In return, I certainly intend there to be no lack of personal and spiritual support and entertainment from my end as gratitude for her more physical support. [1] . . .

Schlegel will not be coming until July, though then for certain, as he now believes he can assure me. [2] He would never forgive me for allowing Julchen to go before he came. Things would then also become more cheerful and pleasant for her, and there would be more distraction, something I tend to flee for my own part but which I am certainly happy for her to have. [2a]

We have been living very quietly together here, particularly during that past two weeks while Luise has been in Weimar. [2b] She returned yesterday accompanied by Cäcilie and Minchen Conta. The weather was again unfavorable for Cecile, just as it basically has been for everyone for some time now. The same as a year ago. And we are having to heat the house daily. Nor does this do my health any good, and at this very moment I also certainly feel bad enough. I was so sorry that Julchen had to endure it here with me and I could not show her Maria Stuart. I was not really able to go myself, and no other opportunity presented itself, since almost everyone has already seen it. But it will no doubt be made up to her in the future. [3]

What you wrote me about Perthes’s offer is quite welcome to me just now, since Schlegel has his hands full with his own business and has himself just experienced what kind of people booksellers really have become now that they are also intent on directing the course of literature. You can be assured that he would not be able to get any better conditions for you. So go ahead and accept these. [4] His lawsuit with Unger had not yet been decided, at least according to his last letter, and I am expecting more news tomorrow. [5]

. . . At the first opportunity I intend to ask Meyer his opinion of her talent, since he has seen her drawings and is a true connoisseur though not a painter himself. I heard that Meyer has expressed reservations regarding the idea with Tischbein, the latter allegedly not really being an artist in the highest sense of the word. [6] Of course, we already know that as well — but where, pray, does one then find the real ones? . . .

Stay well, my dear.


[*] Background: Julie Gotter (Julchen) had been living with Caroline since 31 May 1801, while her sister, Cäcilie, was staying in Weimar. See Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm Schlegel on 31 May 1801 (letter 319) and on 7 June 1801 (letter 320). Back.

[1] Julie Gotter remained with Caroline in Jena until the spring of 1802. Concerning the background to her stay in Jena, see the editorial note to her letter to Cäcile Gotter on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Wilhelm did not arrive back in Jena from Berlin until 11 August 1801 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2a] Such included the various types of social gatherings, including dinners, dances, visits, concerts, teas, and assemblies both indoors and out (Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808):



[2b] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, studies from 1779; Rijksmuseum:


Luise Wiedemann had been in Weimar with her daughter Emma since 6 June 1801. Back.

[3] Julie Gotter remarks in her letter to Cäcile (Cecile) on 9 June 1801 (letter 319c):

Ah, Cecile, how sorry I am for you that you were here during the winter rather than the summer, for what a magnificent area! If you are ever able to come over here for a couple of days, we will wander about everywhere.

Schiller’s Maria Stuart was performed in the Weimar theater on 10 June 1801. In her letter to Wilhelm on 10 June 1801 (letter 320), Caroline mentions that her “condition prevented me from traveling over there yesterday for the performance of Maria Stuart.” Concerning the impossibility of Julie Gotter having an opportunity to see it again soon, see esp. note 10 there. Back.

[4] The reference is to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s unpublished plays, including “Der schöne Geist.” See Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, 277–78:

Its publication also encountered problems. Georg Joachim Göschen, whom Caroline had already tried to interest in Der schöne Geist in March 1797, declined this piece along with the other plays in Gotter’s literary estate in 1801. Similarly, the publisher Johann Gottfried Dyk could not be expected to pay a high enough honorarium, nor was the piece suitable for an anthology edition — Caroline had considered the quarterly published by Seckendorf.

Neither was Vieweg in Braunschweig nor a publisher in Berlin interested, though Wilhelm Schlegel had tried to mediate in Leipzig, Braunschweig, and Berlin.

Finally, in June 1801, the plays were placed with Perthes in Gotha, who published them in 1802 as Gotter’s litterarischer Nachlass (“literary estate”), or as the third volume of his Gedichte.

The honorarium does not seem to have been particularly impressive. Caroline, who had told Wilhelm Schlegel that Luise Gotter could expect 150–200 Thaler — 300 Thaler had been paid earlier for Gotter’s Schauspiele — now advised her friend to accept Perthes’s offer, since Schlegel could likely also not negotiate better terms for her. We do not learn what Perthes actually paid. —

Hence in the end, it became difficult even to find even a single publisher for Gotter’s works, which at one time had been so popular.

The reference is to Gotter’s Gedichte, vol. 3: Literarischer Nachlass von Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter. Mit des Verfassers Biographie und seinem Bildnisse, ed. Friedrich von Schlichtegroll (Gotha: J. Perthes, 1802), containing

  • Mariane. Ein bürgerliches Trauerspiel in 3 Aufzügen für das herzogliche Hoftheater, rev. ed. ([originally] Gotha 1776), 1–124;
  • Der schöne Geist oder das poetische Schloss, 125–418;
  • Geister-Insel, 419–564;
  • Eine Kantate auf Maria Theresia (“Maria Theresia bey ihrem Abschiede von Frankreich. Kantate”), 565–76.

See Wilhelm’s review of vol. 1 of Gotter’s Schauspiele (1: Die stolze Vasthi; 2: Esther; 3: Die Basen) (Leipzig: Göschen, 1795), in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1796) 13 (Tuesday, 12 January 1796) 97–103, in supplementary appendix 144.1. Back.

[5] See esp. Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 (letter 309) and the accompanying supplementary appendix 309.1 concerning the quarrel with the publisher Johann Friedrich Unger, and Wilhelm’s futile letter to Johann Friedrich Cotta on 23 April 1801 (letter 310c). Back.

[6] At issue is Cäcilie Gotter’s training as an artist; see Julie Gotter’s letter to Cäcilie on 9 June 1801 (letter 319c) and Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 7 June 1801 (letter 320). Caroline here repeats, in part verbatim, what Julie had already written Cäcilie. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott