Letter 328k

328k. Julie Gotter to Cäcilie Gotter in Weimar: Jena, 11 September 1801 [*]

Jena, 11 September 1801 [1]

More than ever, my dear Cecile, do I regret that you are not here. I have made the acquaintance of an extremely amiable and interesting young man, Friedrich Tieck, who would doubtless be even more so for you. [2] We have spoken a great deal about art, and you surely could have profited immensely from these conversations, and indeed doubtless had similar ones with him yourself on the subject.

He has been here since Monday, [3] arriving accompanied by Monsieur Catell, a young architect who is presently in Weimar and whose acquaintance you may even perhaps have made. [4] Schlegel has probably already related all this to you. He departed at just the wrong time for such a visit, and though we waited the entire day for him, he did not return until the next morning. [5] Unfortunately this timing little favored us, or to express it more clearly: the time has been quite unfavorable insofar as there was so little, and poor Tieck was unable to depart. [6]

I have become more aware than ever of the agreeable advantages of my stay here. Ah, my dear sister, how could I endure no longer being around such intelligent and bright people! Each and every day I see the benefits. Being alone with the two women and Schelling, [8] the society was a bit monotonous, [7] especially because the two interesting persons were always separated, and you also know quite well that our dear friend [9] has lost so much of her cheerful disposition since the loss of our amiable young friend. But those days when everyone was together, I believe it would be just so again were you here. Schlegel usually reads beautiful works aloud to us during the evenings, and Tieck did not at all seem like a stranger! [10]

My dear Cecile, how could I ever leave all that? I dare not even think about it; what is certain is that I would be unhappy in Gotha! — I simply must spend my entire life around interesting people, people who are bright and spirited — [11] (One is and could be a different person had one always lived with such people)

Is that not right? A different life? That alone is what it means to live, and anything else is but cheating God, who did not create us merely to live from one day to the next, being bored and passing time simply because one must pass time. [12]

I cannot really write and express completely how I feel, and especially not in French. You surely understand me, and I would not say any of this to anyone but you, since one can so easily be misunderstood. But I know that you think as I do, and any person who has lived thus and felt what it means cannot help but think that way as well. It is admittedly not always thus here, since Karoline is so often ill, and cannot always be thus at all under other circumstances. [13]

But let me assure you once more that even the mere thought of returning to Gotha is terrifying to me; I will be so unhappy! — — —

Schlegel asked Tieck to visit you and pass along his regards. [14] I probably should have given him this letter to deliver, [15] but I hate every sort of indiscretion, so I did not; perhaps I was wrong.

Madam Unzelmann will be coming here on the 18th or 19th, hence I will be coming to you there at the end of the coming or beginning of the following week. [16] Perhaps Tieck — as I certainly hope — will then be in Weimar, where you might have a good opportunity to see him. [17]

I am writing in German because I am in a hurry; it is already 9:00. If you do not see Tieck, then write and tell me, and I will relate to you whatever you might want to know.

Last Sunday I received letters from Mother and Pauline that I am enclosing here. I wrote the latter an extremely long and thorough letter that I would gladly have related to you had it not been so urgent.

A thousand greetings. I embrace you with sisterly love.


[*] Source: Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181-3-2 -1_00005r–Chart-A-02181-3-2 -1_00006v.

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] Julie begins this letter in French. Back.

[2] Both Friedrich Tieck and Cecile Gotter were artists: Tieck primarily a sculptor, though also a painter, Cecile a painter and sketch artist. Caroline had been trying to help Luise Gotter secure further artistic training for Cecile.

Here the three art forms of drawing, painting, and sculpture, the latter illustration including the kinds of interior work Friedrich Tieck had been contracted to do in the Weimar castle (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 [Vienna 1775], plates 1, 2, 3):





[3] Monday, 7 September 1801. Back.

[4] Friedrich Tieck had arrived in Weimar in the initial days of September and in fact was living with the architect Ludwig Friedrich Catel in Weimar. Here the art form of architecture from ibid., plate 4:


After dining with Goethe on Sunday, 6 September 1801, Friedrich Tieck travelled over to Jena the next day, Monday, 7 September (see Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], 22). Back.

[5] Complicated chronology. Wilhelm had traveled over to Weimar on 30 or 31 August, met with Goethe on 31 August and 1 September, and then returned to Jena (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


He returned to Weimar on 8 September and met with Goethe yet again (dates confirmed in Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:33–34).

That Wilhelm was still in Jena on Monday, 7 September 1801 — the day Tieck allegedly arrived in Jena — emerges from his letter to Friederike Unzelmann on that day from Jena (letter 328g), in which he acknowledges receiving a letter from her concerning her arrival in Jena and remarks: “Tomorrow I shall immediately ride over to Weimar again to relate this pleasant news to Goethe should he not already have received a letter from you himself.”

According to Julie Gotter here, Friedrich Tieck arrived in Jena on Monday, 7 September; Wilhelm then traveled over to Weimar the next day, where he did indeed meet with Goethe, and the others seem to have waited for him to return all day. But based on Julie’s letter here, he seems not to have returned until the following morning, i.e., 9 September. Back.

[6] Tieck was presumably pressed for time to get back to Weimar. Back.

[7] Uncertain reading in French: autoutomes or autontomes, perhaps mistakenly for monotone in the sense of ennuyeux. Back.

[8] Luise Wiedemann was also living with Caroline at the time with her daughter Emma. Back.

[9] Caroline. Back.

[10] Julie has been participating in precisely those pastimes that could make the Jena circle, especially for someone with inclinations such as hers, such a stimulating environment (frontispiece to Heinrich Matthias August Cramer, Unterhaltungen zur Beförderung der Häuslichen Glückseligkeit [Berlin 1781]):



[11] Illustrations to Goethe’s novelle The Good Women (Die guten Weiber [1801]), Goethe’s Works, trans. George Barrie [Philadelphia, New York, Boston 1885], vol. 3, 242):


The following parenthetical material is written in German between the two lines of French. Back.

[12] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Où suis je? (1774–75); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Uh 4° 47 (85):


Julie now transitions to German for the remainder of the letter. Back.

[13] Presumably an allusion to changes in Caroline and Wilhelm’s marital status or otherwise in their relationship or living circumstances. Julie apparently already knows that Wilhelm would be returning to Berlin, as it turns out: in early November 1801. Back.

[14] “Regards” uncertain reading; presumably Gruss. Back.

[15] I.e., when Tieck returned to Weimar. Back.

[16] Concerning Friederike Unzelmann’s guest performances in Weimar, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10; also Wilhelm’s letter to Friederike Unzelmann herself on 7 September 1801 (letter 328g), including esp. the editorial note. Back.

[17] Friedrich Tieck seems indeed to have still been in Weimar during that period (Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck, 22). Whether he ever met with Cecile Gotter is uncertain. Back.

Translation © 2019 Doug Stott