Letter 322a

322a. Julie Gotter to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 26 June 1801 [*]

Jena, 26th June 1801

My dear mother, how delighted I was to receive the good news from Gotha. I was especially and inexpressibly entertained by our cousins’ good fortune and am quite sorry I cannot express my regards to them in person. Cecile, to whom I related this news, was also not a little delighted by it. [1]

Madam Wiedemann and her child returned yesterday at 2 p.m. accompanied by Cecile and Minchen Konta. [2] You can imagine how heartened I was by this visit — except that it was more of an “appearance” than a genuine “visit,” since they had to depart at 5 p.m. But I did have a chance to speak with Cecile, who was also anxious to talk because she is so terribly curious. Indeed, I am quite unable to satisfy her with my letters, which is, however, quite advantageous for me, since Cecile then writes me all the more often.

As far as sharing our letters is concerned, you will have to arrange that with Cecile, since you will certainly not be losing much with mine, whereas Cecile has written me some quite charming ones. As soon as she gives me the word, I will immediately send them along, though with the condition that they be returned soon. You already know that you can certainly read my letters, my dear mother, and I have no objections whatever — apart from their having been written very quickly and carelessly and will thus not give you much pleasure. But you alone may read them.

I must say that I do not really think I deserve reproach for not having written frequent or sufficiently long letters. Quite the contrary, it seems to me I have written too much stupid stuff. Our life here is so solitary and monotonous that there is not really much to say. While Madam Wiedemann was away, we hardly left the house, in fact, we have not left it since I last wrote; the bad weather and Caroline’s health do not permit it. [3] And yet we are always quite merry and do not really long for society; indeed, it was so quiet in the the house here that things have seemed quite peculiar since our housemates returned.

Madam Schlegel does not see Madam Veit, hence I have made neither her nor Friedrich’s acquaintance, though I do hope to meet Friedrich when Schlegel returns, since then Friedrich will surely come by. [4]

Otherwise I have seen no one else from society here except the Bathers [?], who were here. Lottchen Froriep was recently here, and when the weather improves we will also pay her a visit straightaway.

You wanted to know where I sleep and how I am occupying myself. Well, that is admittedly a rather uninteresting story, at least from my mouth. I am living in the downstairs room and chamber together with Madam Wiedemann and the child. During her absence, however, I slept there alone, quite separated from the rest, all of whose sleeping chambers are upstairs. [4a]

I usually get up at 7:00 and then breakfast next to Madam Schlegel’s bed. Madam Wiedemann and her sister rarely get up before 8:00. [4b] Then I have a few domestic chores to take care of and that sort of thing. The rest of the time I spend with handiwork, reading, also playing the piano. [5] I also while away the hours now and then with charming little Emma. I am not neglecting my French and have resolved also to write to Cecile in French. Although it is not spoken much here, when Herr Schlegel returns — who likes to speak it — I will converse with him in that language. [6]

We have not yet read anything together as a group, so each person reads as he likes. I have begun Don Quixote and am greatly enjoying it.

Page[s] missing

which also is not particularly flattering for her. [7] So yesterday after the evening meal, he maintained that she did not really understand what a hexameter was and that sort of thing. They went on, and then Schelling challenged her to compose a stanza. [8] He began one, and she rhymed along with it. I fetched paper and ink that I might properly write down these lofty products of the spirit. Madame Schlegel requested that he himself compose one, whereupon he very quickly produced the following, for which she provided the theme:

Modern you yourself in your innermost soul,
Prefer also not to cultivate the meter of antiquity,
You love the dingdong of Xenien, the blossom
Of newer verse, the ardor of the sonnet,
Were your heart not with the Italian passion,
The modern, too, would for you molder,
Though long have I it roasted 
Since for peace and freedom being born.

She then answered, but Schelling then added several lines:

the sages ancient do I value and hold dear,
With them should linger the master alone ,
For in them burns a constant fire,
Wherein the heart to find peace yet yearns.
Yet your imagination, the terrible,
This beauteous meter's measure cannot cultivate,
Hence pupil: do bathe in the pool of rhyme,
Till yourself you elevate to the school of the ancients.

(Schelling wanted to make some changes to the last two lines.)

[Written in margin: You have it because dissembling does it break! — — —]

You must allow that I am very amiable for sending this along to you; indeed it was for your sake alone that I copied it out yesterday. —

The oranges have been secured and also sent. I am enormously grateful to you for the hat and gratefully accept it. [8a] No more can be had in Gotha except for 2 ½, and that would just be too much. You can . . . it

[Page missing]

I have yet something else to relate to you. My mother wrote [9] that I should pay a visit to Madam Niethammer (they now live on an estate), which I would have done in any case. But she was already planning on departing on Saturday. [10] Madam Wiedemann was not here, so she could not accompany me. Madam Schlegel was not inclined to go, so I had no choice but to go alone. Schelling heard about this situation and declared he intended to accompany me and, moreover, to announce our visit beforehand, an offer I certainly accepted.

But the visit could take place only on Thursday, when I was going with Madam Schlegel to visit Madam Hufeland. [11] Because Schelling is disinclined to go there, I had to go to his garden to pick him up at 6:00 — all by myself, only imagine! Even though I myself thought nothing of it, several neighbors did seem to stare rather severely as I went by, but that did not bother me. I simply entered the garden with an air of solemnity and then, at his side, proudly continued on to Wenigen-Jena. [11a]

Must you not allow that I have already made significant progress here? And so it genuinely is, for in my initial days here I would never have been able to do such a thing.

The second time we went to his residence, Madam Schlegel first had an errand to attend to, so I went alone — but then lost my way and ended up in a place with which I was completely unfamiliar. I simply did not have the courage to ask directions to “Professor Schelling’s garden,” so I asked how to get to the Hufeland’s garden, hoping I could find my way from there. But no one knew the way. I finally came across Madam Wiedemann, who had come out looking for me. — Does this story not sound exactly as if it happened to you?

I stayed a couple of hours at the home of Madam Niethammer, which I indeed found quite pleasant. She also has a sister-in-law there and the fiancée of her brother, Madam Schulz, a couple of young, good, upright girls whom I will occasionally visit during her absence. [12] But no, just imagine, Madam Niethammer has journeyed to Liebenstein by way of Gotha.

I am very sorry to hear that my aunt is so worried about the “well-being” of my soul. I have no idea why she thinks so ill of me, and if she considers the people with whom I am living to be so “godless,” then she is quite wrong. You yourself know how things stand with Madam Schlegel. And Schelling — do you not believe, given that he occupies himself so extensively with the creation, that in the process he does not also think about its creator? —

Indeed, no, I can assure all of you that I will not return to Gotha in worse shape in that respect. Perhaps with a bit more conceit or pride? No, not even that; at least up to this point I have not yet had any opportunity to cultivate that particular disposition. [12a]

I hope to dispel any worries you have about my catching cold, beloved mother. I am dressing as warmly as in Gotha, and Madam Schlegel gave me her green scarf, which is warmer than those I have and which I wrap around me whenever I go outside.

I also have a brown velvet jacket that I put on early in the day. I have been so comfortable that it never occurred to me to see about anything extra; I simply forgot about it.

Butter here usually costs 5 gr up to 5 gr bds [?]; because it is less expensive in Weimar, I told Cecile to purchase some there, and also told her the price for which you would like to have some. The weight, however, is heavier than in Gotha, so even if it turns out to be a tiny bit more expensive than the stipulated price, it really comes out the same in the end. [12b]

I immediately looked for the handkerchief in Weimar and asked Cecile to give it along to Sophie, who then forgot it. But Hanna will receive it with the next post. I gave Cecile the material you asked for along with the butter.

Cecile also told me that you had sent my Laubthaler for the bitter oranges, but she kept it because she needed the money. So I paid for them out of my own. It seems she needs quite a bit of money away from home. But I intend then to be all the more frugal and will incur no more larger expenses. I am sending along here a listing of my previous expenses.

Apropos, I recently visited Madam Hufeland with Madam Schelling, and their former good relationship has been reestablished. [13] At first she was a bit awkward, but afterward quite normal. Herr Hufeland has completely withdrawn from the Litteratur-Zeitung after that affair. [14]

A thousand greetings to Pauline. Does she not intend to write me at all? Or does she consider the letter I wrote her not to be so terribly important? And second, soon I will have been in Jena for three weeks. I was supposed to find the money here at my arrival that was discussed earlier, and I hope she will explain this to me, and in general will relate to me a bit about what is going on in Gotha. She is also to send my regards to the children in the institute.

Adieu, my dear mother, my kindest regards to everyone in and outside the house who are near and dear to me. Please see to it that I receive a lot of letters. Lotte also intended to write. [15]

Your loyal and obedient daughter



[*] Source: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Nachlass F. W. J. v. Schelling, no. 933.

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) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1]. Uncertain allusion. Cäcilie Gotter was in any case in Weimar at the time. Back.

[2] Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1818: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:

Luise Wiedemann and her daughter Emma had departed Jena for Weimar on 6 June 1801. Back.

[3] Caroline makes the same point in her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 June 1801 (letter 322):

I almost feared the cold weather had made you sick as well, just as I myself still cannot quite recover and even today will not be able to write a thorough response because of a headache. I have not been out of the house since my last letter. Back.

[4] Wilhelm returned to Jena on 11 August 1801. Caroline writes to Wilhelm three days later, on 29 June 1801 (letter 323) that “it is quite consistent that he [Friedrich] now prefers to remove himself entirely from us, since he is unable to do so from her [Dorothea Veit].” Back.

[4a] Here a 1799 illustration by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki of a young woman with simple sleeping arrangements typical of the period (Adolphine sitzt in ihrer Schlafkammer [1799]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.1017):



[4b] Julie mistakenly writes “sister” instead of “daughter,” namely, Emma Wiedemann. Back.

[5] Almanach der Mode und des Geschmacks für Damen auf das Jahr 1802:



[6] On 10 May 1804 Therese Huber writes to her daughter Therese Forster, after a meeting with Wilhelm, that he “has become quite cultivated, speaks French very well, indeed fluently” (see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 15 May 1801 [letter 383f], note 32). Madame de Staël had already (23 March 1804) written to her father that Wilhelm “speaks French and English like a Frenchman and Englishman” (Pauline Gräfin de Lange, August Wilhelm Schlegel und Frau von Staël: Eine schicksalhafte Begegnung, trans. Willy Grabert [Hamburg 1940], 58 ). Back.

[7] Regrettably, the missing page[s] seem to have related, among other things, a visit by Schelling, which the narrative here picks up. Back.

[8] Frontispiece to Cytherens Kunstkabinet oder Toiletten-Hand-und Kunstbuch aus eigenen Erfahrungen für ihre Freundinnen bearbeitet (Nürnberg 1804):


The tricky implementation of hexameters in verse became a topic of conversation between Schelling and Caroline, on the one hand, and between Caroline and Wilhelm, on the other. See esp. her letter to Wilhelm on 15 May 1801 (letter 316), in which she asks Wilhelm to help settle a “dispute between Schelling and me” concerning hexameters. Three weeks after Julie’s letter here, on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326), Caroline informs Wilhelm that “I will begin by letting you know that I have learned to compose hexameters, namely, formal hexameters.” Back.

[8a] Here samples of ladies’ hats from 1801, 1802, and 1800 ([1] Göttingischer Taschen-Calender für das Jahr 1801; [2] Berlinischer Damen Kalender auf das Iahr 1802; [3] Leipziger Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1800; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[9] An odd, perhaps tongue-in-cheek turn of phrase, since Julie is writing to her mother. In any event, Julie initially responds on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b) to her mother’s suggestion that she make this visit. This letter is the second extant discussion of the visit. Back.

[10] That is, back on Saturday, 13 June 1801. Rosine Niethammer had been ill and was going to Liebenstein with Konradine Luise Hufeland to take the waters. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 7–12 June 1801 (letter 320) and the pertinent paragraph in Julie’s letter to Luise Gotter on 26 June 1801 (letter 322a). Back.

[11] Thursday, 11 June 1801, confirming the dating of Caroline’s visit to Luise Hufeland (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 12 June 1801 (letter 320), in which Caroline remarks that “she [Madam Hufeland] then received me quite graciously” (Genealogische Kalender auf das Jahr 1810; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[11a] Göttinger Taschen Calender Für das Iahr 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[12] Goettinger Taschen Calendar für das Jahr 1791; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


It is not clear to whom Julie is here referring. Madam Niethammer’s two brothers were already deceased: Christoph Friedrich Sebastian von Eckart (3 October 1765–9. April 1801) and Johann Theophil (Gottlieb) Wilhelm von Eckardt ( 8. März 1769–1. March 1800); information about their spouses, apart perhaps from the mention here of “Madam [née?] Schulz, are lacking.

Concerning Madam Niethammer’s journey to Liebenstein to take the waters, accompanied by Madam Hufeland, see Julie’s letter to her mother on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b). Back.

[12a] Illustration 1: “Das leichtsinnige Mädchen” (“The frivolous young girl”), Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1809; illustration 2: Göttinger Taschen Calender Für das Iahr 1798; both illustrations: Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:




[12b] Butter and cheese production at the time (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 1 [Vienna 1774], plate 29):



[13] See above; the visit took place on Thursday, 11 June 1801. Back.

[14] Viz., the break during the summer and autumn of 1799 between Wilhelm and Schelling, on the one hand, the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and its editors Christian Gottfried Schütz and Gottlieb Hufeland, on the other. See esp. Schelling’s “declaration” and the editorial response on 2 November 1799 (letter/document 252d) Wilhelm’s “farewell” on 13 November 1799 and the editorial response (letter/document 255a). Back.

[15] Uncertain identity. Back.

Translation © 2021 Doug Stott