Letter 328.1

328.1. Julie Gotter to Cecile Gotter in Weimar: Jena, 25 August 1801 [*]

Jena, 25 August [1801]

Today I am writing you in German. [1]

First of all, a hug and a kiss. How are you doing, my dear sister? Are you still alive, or has curiosity devoured all your vital life spirits? My poor sister. And yet today I am nonetheless unable to provide them with any fresh nourishment even by resolving the cause of your sorrow. [2] Enough that through forgetfulness I have not positioned myself on the same level on which I would wish you. [3] I was so delighted to hear you speak that way. Although I had meant it quite seriously indeed, I now have reason to be more at ease. Someday you will learn things that will astonish you.

Your abomination of a letter caused a considerable stir here and cost me not a little effort in dealing with it all. Of course, I could not help but constantly laugh, just as with all your letters, and then Karoline harassed me frightfully to read it aloud, and yet I certainly could not relate all those dumb things to her, not least because Schelling was there. And in return everyone in the household, including Schelling, threatened to read any letter from me that might fall into their hands. Hence your caution was not necessary. I have, moreover, letters that are more important to me than . . .

[Page(s) missing]

In the meantime, Karoline wants you to know that you are as witty as Charlotte G. and Miss Howe (from Richardson and Grandison). [4] I assured her, however, that you were not acquainted with these heroines. She believes that otherwise you yourself would doubtless find the comparison quite accurate. [5]

I was intending, or rather was advised to excite your curiosity further, for I had told them that it was she who had produced that long letter that you wrote me. But my dear Cecile, I will not do it. I will tell all of you quite openly, but I am counting on your discretion. [6]

First of all, write me immediately whether Goethe is back. [7] Perhaps Schlegel will travel over to Weimar again this week, though I doubt I will accompany him because there will not be sufficient space; but you will surely see one of us. [8]

You must assure me [9] that you will ignore everything I will be telling you, and I am counting on your discretion; although here they have prohibited me from relating it to you, I am sure you will not speak of it if no one knows about it yet in Weimar. [10]

Madam Unzelmann will be coming to Weimar in mid-September, where she will be performing for an entire week! Just imagine! Are you not beside yourself with joy?! —

She will probably be travelling by way of Jena and spend a day with us. If possible, the Schlegels will also be staying in Weimar for the entire duration of her stay, when I — as I certainly hope — could stay with you. Do you not think this is possible? How we would properly enjoy ourselves there! and what bliss for you to be able to see Madam Unzelmann. Schlegel assures us that in some pieces she is even more of an artist than Iffland himself. How fortunate would I consider myself to be able to see a proper actress of whom I can as yet have absolutely no concept.

But enough. I already see you in spirit doing cartwheels in the room at the thought.

Apropos, you did not succeed in piquing my curiosity. The artistic intention was simply too transparent! [11] Also, I can only explain your interpretation seriously as a joke. No, dearest Cecile; that will not do. At the very least, I cannot speak along with Gretchen any further than “My peace is gone, my heart is sore, I never shall find it, ah, never and never and nevermore!” [12] The rest simply does not apply to me, though I do hope that such peace will be reestablished sooner than [illegible].

It was not until Friday that I wrote a long letter to mother. In the meantime, I am glad to hear that she did not get anxious about it. I have told you nothing yet about Karoline’s health; she is not well. [13] Yesterday I was in Löbstedt with her and Schelling, which is actually rather far from here. [14]

Today is again a rather dreary day that we must spend inside. Schlegel will probably read us all something aloud. He would already have done so more often except that Schelling cannot bear to listen when someone reads, so no one does so when he is here. Hence I will not write you much more today, since I must also enclose a letter to Pauline.

Please see to it that this package gets to the postal coach quickly; [15] I am not going to wrap it so that you can still read the letter. I hope the refuse wagon will not already have departed. [16]

Apropos, the detestable Madam Paulus and Dorette are here again. [17] Madam Wiedemann recently took a walk with them quite by accident. I have little desire to see her; [18] to the contrary, I cannot get past the aversion I have toward her that her remarks of last year prompted. [19] The students here are saying that she looks quite sluttish. [20] How do you like that?

Every day since her return, she has taken a walk of some sort. [In margin:] she has not been here yet, and yet it would attest a horrifically bad conscience were she not to come at all. For something happened between her and Madam Schlegel. [In margin of previous page:] on the contrary, she had spent the entire afternoon here yesterday before she finally left. [21] She rants frightfully against Jena and is behaving with utter imprudence.

[*] Source: Source: Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181-3-2-2-00005–Chart-A-02181-3-2-2-00006v; 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). That Cecile is still in Weimar emerges from the content of this present letter (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] While in Jena, Julie Gotter composes her letters home in both French and German, and often in both, as in this present letter. In her letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313), Caroline writes writes in this connection that Luise Gotter, Julie’s mother,

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., here: “last resort”], and I would very much like to see Julchen spared this if possible. Back.

[2] Namely, by writing. Back.

[3] See Julie’s letter to Cecile on 15 June 1801 (letter 320c), in which the issue of one sister not writing the other was already a point of contention. Back.

[4] Charlotte Grandison appears in Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison in a series of letters published from the originals by the Editor of Pamela and Clarissa in seven volumes (London 1754).

Miss Howe appears as the recipient of the protagonist’s letters in idem, Clarissa. Or the History of a Young Lady, 8 vols. (London 1748–49), translated, incidentally, by Johann David Michaelis as Clarissa: die Geschichte eines vornehmen Frauenzimmers, 2 vols. (Göttingen 1748).

For Thomas Stothard’s complete illustrations to The History of Sir Charles Grandison, click on the following gallery:


Click on the following image to open a gallery of Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki’s illustrations to the German and French translations by Ludwig Theobul Kosegarten, Clarissa. Neuverdeutscht und Ihro Majestät der Königin von Grosbrittanien zugeeignet, 8 vols. (Leipzig 1790–93) and M. Le Tourneur, Clarisse Harlowe, 14 vols. (Geneva, Paris 1785–87), a novel that functions almost as a locus classicus for the various “crises faced by pretty girls” when Caroline, her sisters, and her friends were young women:


Charlotte Grandison, sister of the protagonist Charles Grandison, has variously been interpreted as an example, particularly after her marriage to Lord G., of a “recalcitrant wife” in a marriage that is “difficult to begin with. Charlotte is aloof, willful, and wittier than Lord G., who is too solicitous, goodnatured, and not a match for her raillery” (so Sylvia Kasey Marks, Sir Charles Grandison: The Compleat Conduct Book [Cranbury, NJ 1986], 83).

Anna Howe, variously viewed as a precursor of Charlotte Grandison, was “the most intimate friend, companion, and correspondent of Clarissa” (Clarissa; or, the History of a Young Lady, vol. 1 [London 1785], list of characters following the preface). See Clara Linklater Thomson, Samuel Richardson: A Biographical and Critical Study (London 1900), 233–34:

“His Anna Howe and Charlotte Grandison,” said Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “are recommended as patterns of charming pleasantry, and applauded by his [Richardson’s] saint-like dames, who mistake pert folly for wit and humour, and impudence and ill nature for spirit and fire. Charlotte behaves like a humorsome child, and should have been used as one, and well whipped in the presence of her friendly confidante, Harriet.” . . .

Nevertheless, Charlotte’s entertaining letters, and especially those in which she relates her matrimonial experiences, add much to the liveliness of the book, and help to relieve the suspense caused by the uncertainty of her brother’s matrimonial projects. Back.

[5] Julie Gotter transitions to French here. Back.

[6] Uncertain allusion, perhaps because of the missing page(s) in this letter. — the word “discretion” is written in German (verschwiegenheit [sic]). Back.

[7] Goethe had departed Weimar for Pyrmont on 5 June 1801 and returned on 30 August 1801 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:15). On the return journey (he departed Pyrmont on 17 July) he spent considerable time in Göttingen. Back.

[8] Goethe’s diary notes that he met with Wilhelm on 31 August and 1, 8 September 1801 in Weimar (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:33–34); on 8 September 1801 Goethe also notes that Friederike Unzelman had arrived (“Le coche de voyage du dix-huitiéme siécle,” in anonymous, “La locomotion terrestre: Les ancients coutures de voyage,” La nature: Revue des sciences etc. 16 [1888], premier semestre, no. 768 [18 February 1888], 177–79, here 177):



[9] Uncertain reading. Back.

[10] Uncertain allusion, all the more regrettable because this letter seems to be lacking one or more sheets. The reference may simply be to the arrival of Friederike Unzelmann in Weimar.

Concerning Friederike Unzelmann’s performances in Weimar during the autumn of 1801, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10.

In any event, Julie had made a similar remark to Cecile back in her letter of 15 June 1801 (letter 320c) concerning being “forbidden” from mentioning certain things to Cecile or anyone else. — Julie now transitions back to German in this letter. Back.

[11] Uncertain allusion unless, as the following reference to Gretchen suggests, Cecile has mentioned some Romantic interest, as seems to have been the case after Friedrich Tieck arrived in Weimar in the initial days of September 1801 and visited the Schlegels in Jena shortly thereafter. Back.

[12] Julie’s and apparently also Cecile’s reference is to Gretchen’s song at the spinning wheel in Goethe’s Faust.

Caroline mentions the rather surprising appearance of this entire song in Ludwig Theogoul Kosegarten’s novel Ida von Plessen, 2 vols. (Dresden 1800) in her letter to Wilhelm in mid-June 1801 (letter 320b), see note 1 there.

That is, Caroline seems to have written Wilhelm about this same song concurrently with Julie’s letter to Cecile. In any event, the allusion here, commensurate with Gretchen’s song (which, as Julie points out, does not entirely apply to her), seems to be to a love interest. Back.

[13] Julie is writing on Tuesday, 25 August 1801; the previous Friday was 21 August 1801, the day she concluded her letter to her mother of 18/21 August 1801 (letter 327d.1), in which she provides a disturbing account of Caroline’s tedious health problems.

Caroline herself has mentioned her ill health in letters over the course of the summer; in one instance it prevented her and Julie Gotter from traveling over to Weimar for the performance of Schiller’s play Maria Stuart. See, e.g., Julie’s letter to Cecile on 15 June 1801 (letter 320c) with note 4. Back.

[14] The walk from Jena to Löbstedt, located ca. 3½ km northeast of Jena, was considered to be an “extremely pleasant walk” (H. Schwerdt, Thüringen, 3rd ed. [Leipzig 1880], 354; map: Franz Ludwig, Topographische Charte der umliegenden Gegend Von Jena / nach eigenen Messungen und andern Origin. Zeichnungen [Jena 1800]; reprinted in August J. G. K. Batsch, Taschenbuch für topographische Excursionen in die umliegende Gegend von Jena [Weimar 1800]):


Here Löbstedt in an illustration ca. 1780 (Christian Gotthilf Immanuel Oehme, Beÿ Löbstet [ca. 1780]; Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden):



[15] I.e., the slower postal coaches as opposed to a single postal rider (reitende Post), who generally carried only letters as opposed to larger or bulkier items such as the sort of package Julie was here enclosing (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 4 [Vienna 1776], plate 48):


Space in such coaches was generally determined by the quantity of such materials, with passengers taking up the remaining space (illustration from Friedrich Wilhelm Ohsen, Post Charte Der Chur-Braunschweigischen Und Angrenzenden Lande [Hannover 1777]):



[16] Refuse wagons were just that: wagons that carried refuse away from towns beginning in the seventeenth century; here examples from the late nineteenth century (Theodor Weyl, Handbuch der Hygiene, 2 vol; vol. 2: Städtereinigung [Jena 1894], 199–200):



Why Julie Gotter would be concerned that the wagon had already departed is unclear, since they are not otherwise noted as having carried postal materials. Back.

[17] Karoline Paulus and her daughter, Sophie, had been in Franconia and specifically Bocklet and Bamberg since the early summer.

On 20 July 1801, Dorothea Veit, after an illness, departed for Franconia and Bocklet with her son Philipp Veit and accompanied by H. E. G. Paulus. During her stay, Dorothea had visited Auguste’s gravesite in Bocklet.

On ca. 22 August 1801, Friedrich Schlegel, who had in the meantime journeyed to Bocklet, and Dorothea departed Bocklet for Jena along with H.E.G., Karoline, and Sophie Paulus, arriving in Jena by 24 August at the latest, and, judging by Julie Gotter’s remarks here, apparently a bit sooner (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Over the course of the summer, Caroline had been incensed at “the notion that this place was to be desecrated,” and “wept bitterly.”

Concerning Caroline’s painfully vexed reaction to the present stay, see esp. her letter to Wilhelm on 31 May 1801 (letter 319); also to Wilhelm on 6 July 1801 (letter 324), note 30 with additional cross references. Back.

[18] As becomes clear, the reference is to Karoline Paulus alone, not to Dorette Seidler as well. Back.

[19] Presumably an allusion to the news that Karoline Paulus had brought back to Jena following her stay in Bocklet the previous summer shortly after Auguste’s death there on 12 July 1800.

Concerning that stay, see Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 28 July 1800 (letter 265i), note 2. See esp. Dorothea’s remarks in her letter to Schleiermacher on 22 August 1800 (letter 266a), including:

She [Karoline Paulus] brought some quite interesting news back from Bocklet: Caroline and Schelling made a spectacle of themselves there, so ridiculous and detested were they. . . . Every shred of female sensibility cannot but be indignant at such heinous depravity.

Julie presumably learned of such remarks either from Caroline herself or from her mother, Luise Gotter, to whom Caroline may have confided them in a letter. Back.

[20] See the supplementary appendix on Karoline Paulus’s reputation. Back.

[21] Illustration: Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808:


Caroline makes no mention of such a visit, but one must keep in mind that her last extant letter prior to this present one was to Wilhelm back on 27 July 1801 (letter 327), i.e., a full month before the Pauluses returned from Franconia.

Concerning a possible “incident” between the two women, see in any case Dorothea’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 16 January 1810 (letter 453a), in which, among other things, she writes:

On my arrival there [Bocklet], I found a letter to Hofrath Markus warning him and the entire spa society against both me and Madam Paulus as the most despicable and vile creatures; I read the letter after having to give my solemn promise to Hofrath Markus to write absolutely nothing to you about it. And I kept my promise as long as the authoress was alive. In her vain conceit, it likely never occurred to her that Markus would betray her that way as a favor to Madam Paulus, of whom she thought so little! Back.

Translation © 2019 Doug Stott