Letter 323b

323b. Julie Gotter to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 5/7 July 1801 [*]

Jena, 5 July 1801

Dearest Mother,

I was quite moved when I read your letter of yesterday; your kind and loving sentiments toward me filled me with gratitude. How I wish I could have spent my birthday among you that I might have heard your good wishes and admonishments in person. [1] As it was, I celebrated the day quietly for myself.

The Loders paid us a visit during the afternoon, and that evening we ate out in the garden. [2] Cecile wrote to me the other day and sent me a quite nice medallion as a gift. The piglet, which will be very useful to me, pleased me greatly; [3] thank you so much, and thanks to our aunt for her present as well. So — Pauline celebrated my birthday with her mouth; you know, she could have put her fingers to work and written me at least a couple of words. [4]

7 July

I was unable to continue my letter the day before yesterday because we went for a walk and then out into the garden, where we had our evening meal. I hope Cecile will not keep the letter too long that you might receive it soon.

Cecile wrote concerning the gift for Kraus, asking that I ask Madam Schlegel for advice. [5] Madam Schlegel believes it would be best not to give him anything, since it was doubtless a pleasure for him to do that for Cecile. Indeed, she sooner believes he might take it the wrong way, and that since you did not have the extra money, you could save it in this way.

My dear mother, I must now above all speak with you concerning my return to Gotha. [6] You write that I might not stay any longer than Michaelmas, [7] which quite put Madam Schlegel in an awkward situation, for it is not possible for her to be alone this winter, and she has counted on me remaining with her.

And indeed, I would be more useful to her than now, when Madam Wiedemann is here to keep her company. [8] She is already incapable of performing many household chores, and such will be even more the case this coming winter, when her health may cause her even more trouble. For that reason alone she must have someone around. Hence why should I not remain here?

Since Cecile will be in Gotha this coming winter, none of you there will lack for company, and you could find no place where I would be better situated than here with your friend, whom, of course you already know. You had nothing against me going to Lyon, where you are not really familiar with any of the people I would be around, and where I would be much farther from you and thus not able to visit you again so easily. [9]

You yourself are convinced that my stay here is beneficial for me, and that I myself find it pleasant — something you cannot doubt insofar as you know how much I love and admire Madam Schlegel. Hence should I then not remain here?

I am confident and hopeful that you will allow this. Caroline seemed to take it a bit ill when I told her. Please be so good as to give me an answer soon, since she must know that she might find someone else should I not remain. But you will not fail to do me this favor, not least because it costs you nothing. Indeed, it will rather save you money.

Schlegel sends good news. He was delighted to learn that I was here and is hoping I will linger here over the winter as well. His own return is still uncertain. Perhaps he will come at the end of this month, or perhaps not until the autumn. [10] Hence you can now send me my bed when it is convenient. [11]

I am extraordinarily glad to hear that the course of treatment has proven salutary for my aunt; may God grant that she soon be completely free of the malady! [12] Although I would have liked to write to her today, a walk interrupts me just now; one must, after all, take advantage of this beautiful weather, and these letter are also written for her. And tell her she need not be concerned, and that I will certainly not develop ill habits here, and that I will continually keep in mind both her and your reminders. [13]

Concerning both the good news from Gotha and the bad news of our [ . . . ]

[Rest of letter missing]


[*] 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] Julie had just turned 18 on 30 June. Back.

[2] That is, in the extensive and quite pleasant and restful garden behind Leutragasse 5 in which Julie and her housemates, as she goes on to relate, sometimes took their meals ([1] frontispiece to Eduard Helmke, Bericht über die Orthopaedisch-gymnastische Heilanstalt in Jena [Leipzig 1863]; [2] Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1813: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet):



This area was later built up with houses. Compare the rear area above in 1863 with a photo from 1932 looking in from the street through the arched breezeway between the house’s two rear wings (photo: Stadtmuseum Jena; by permission):



[3] Unclear allusion; perhaps a themed piece of handiwork. Back.

[4] Julie had already complained to her mother in her letter on 29 June 1801 (letter 322b) about Pauline’s failure to write. Back.

[5] Uncertain allusion. Cecile Gotter’s stay in Weimar was, among other things, supposed to serve her training as an artist, and Georg Melchior Kraus was head of the art academy in Weimar. On precisely this subject, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in early 1797 (letter 177). Back.

[6] Julie had been in Jena since 31 May 1801. Back.

[7] 29 September. Back.

[8] Luise Wiedemann, together with her daughter, Emma, and husband, Wiedemann, who eventually returned from France by way of Jena, returned to Braunschweig from Jena in late October 1801, a return that was presumably already at least broadly planned. Back.

[9] French Empire and Central Europe 1811: Political Divisions, map 94 in the Cambridge Modern History Atlas (1912); Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection:


See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313:

Her mother’s plans for her are rather grand to say the least; she wants to send her to stay with relatives in Lyon, where she is to be cultivated and is to perfect her French, which she already speaks very well indeed — ultimately, however, all this is headed toward the wretched governess’s pis aller [Fr., “last resort”] and I would very much like to see Julchen spared this if possible. Back.

[10] Wilhelm arrived back in Jena on 11 August 1801. Back.

[11] Verschiedene Speisen und Utensilien aus dem Alltagsleben, Pflanzen und Tiere (late 18th-century); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. C: 272:


Julie remained in Jena in the Schlegel household until sometime in March 1802, when Caroline journeyed to Berlin and Julie returned to Gotha (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Julie’s request for her bed is not unusual. Beds were often transferred to a person’s new — even temporary — residence. Friedrich Schlegel queries Caroline in Kronberg on just this point when he is trying to find accommodations for her after her release from prison in early July 1793 (letter 130a). Back.

[12] Julie had learned of her aunt’s illness and possible plans for a mineral-springs cure from her mother; see Julie’s letter to the latter on 29 June 1801 (letter 322b). Back.

[13] Julie’s aunt was concerned that the ongoing company of Caroline, Wilhelm Schlegel, and Schelling (and Friedrich Schlegel, notorious author of Lucinde?) in Jena might corrupt her niece’s religious disposition and perhaps more. Here a juxtaposition in 1776 of the distinction between revealed religion (Christianity and Judaism), on the one hand, and natural religion, on the other (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 4 [Vienna 1776], plates 46 47):



See Julie’s letter to her mother on 26 June 1801 (letter 322a): “I am very sorry to hear that my aunt is so worried about the well-being of my soul.” In that letter, Julie eloquently defends her Jena friends.

Schelling’s philosophy, however, was indeed still closely associated with that of Fichte’s despite the increasingly troubled relationship between the two, of which at this point the general public likely knew little if anything. And Caroline herself had written back in February that Christian Gottfried Schütz in Jena — whose family Julie was overtly disinclined to visit (see her previous letters to her mother) — had “offered a portrayal of Fichtean atheism” in his lectures. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin back on 27 February 1801 (letter 292).

At the same time, and viewed more broadly, ubiquitous attention was given in both popular literature — dramatic and narrative — and real life to protecting young girls and women from religious (moral) corruption and worse, including against the various “crises” faced by “pretty girls.” Such concern was joined by the anxiety that young women perniciously influenced by “dissolute persons” might indeed fall into sordid lives, thus the name of the novel by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner, Das Leben eines Lüderlichen: Ein moralisch-satyrisches Gemälde nach Chodowiecki und Hogarth, 3 vols. (Gotha 1787–88); here the frontispiece to vol. 3 by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki:



Translation © 2021 Doug Stott