Letter 329

• 329. Caroline to Pauline Gotter in Gotha: Jena, September 1801

[Jena, September 1801]

|209| Julchen can testify, dearest Pauline, what pleasure you gave me, in the midst of my illness and weakness, |210| with the handiwork bag, which is certainly a noble testament to your taste, skill, and cordial intentions, and which I had enviously eyed even before learning that it was in fact for me. [1]

Julchen admittedly came away rather badly in this matter, but I cannot help that and certainly cannot pretend that I would rather she have received it than I. I have it and intend to keep it and would like to thank you very much for it. Everyone admires it, and I have been thinking day and night — since I often cannot sleep — about what I might give you in return that is equally nice.

Give my regards to your good mother and tell her I really would like to see her soon, and that Julchen is as necessary for me as my daily bread, indeed, even more necessary — in fact, as necessary as wine! She will be writing to tell you that Madam Unzelmann is coming to Weimar and that all of you should also come. [2]



[1] Handiwork bag: a bag in which women kept tools and materials for sewing and knitting (Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch, vol. 1, s.v. Arbeitsbeutel).

Following information and photographs: personal communication from Sabine Schierhoff:


The bag itself was made of materials such as silks, silk ribbon, embroidery thread, and incorporated such techniques as chain stitching.


A base of cardboard, glued together from individual pieces, made it possible to place it upright on a table, a technique that continued to be fashionable during the following years.


The silk fabric in this example is carefully cut above a chain stitch and then pulled over the cardboard base, with only that part of the silk folded toward the inside being glued and sewn into the base. Decorations such as miniature portraits and silk bows were added, such bows in fact being a hallmark of these bags at the time. The bags, moreover, could be quite spacious.




Here a young woman carrying such a bag in 1805 (anonymous, “Junge Dame im Negligée [Morgenanzug] mit Arbeitsbeutel” [1805]; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. M 30139):



[2] Julie Gotter mentions Friederike Unzelmann’s anticipated performances in Weimar in her letters to Cäcile Gotter on 25 August 1801 (letter 328.1) and (with the probable dates of Friederike Unzelmann’s arrival) 11 September 1801 (letter 328k).

Luise Gotter did indeed travel to Weimar for these performances with her other two daughters, Cäcilie and Pauline. It was on this occasion that Schelling met Pauline for the first time, who on 11 June 1812 became his second wife after Caroline’s death in 1809.

Concerning the background to Friederike Unzelmann’s guest performances in Weimar, see Wilhelm Schlegel’s letters to Goethe on 14 August 1801 (letter 327c), and to Friederike Unzelmann herself on 7 September 1801 ( letter 328g). For her performance schedule during this visit, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott