Letter 329t

329t. Julie Gotter to Cäcilie Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 10 November 1801 [*]

Jena, 10 November 1801

My dearest sister, because I have so much to write and tell and confide to you, I know neither where to start nor when or how to speak, hence let my visit with you today be in German, since these dear and pleasant sounds of our fatherland flow more quickly and easily from my body and fingers than do those of France. [1]

First of all, many, many thanks for your letter; words cannot describe what limitless pleasure it gave me, and even less how greedily I opened all the missives.

I read Pauline’s letter first because it was the shortest. Then — my curiosity will surely amuse you — the excellently packed jewel was freed from its bonds with the greatest of care. [2] One could not possibly mistake Schelling’s picture, even though, my dear Cecile, I cannot but feel seriously sorry for you that he lives thus in your heart or soul, for what a caricature indeed! I did not pay attention to the drawing, merely glanced at it briefly.

Because I happened to have something to do at the moment, I just put everything together under the box, and when I came back into the room, Madam Schlegel had in the meantime returned and was about to fall over from laughter. For she had discovered and immediately recognized the two ugly mugs as well as those I had not yet seen.

Tieck arrived shortly thereafter, and she gave him his picture, [3] which provided considerable fun for him. We then compared it with Tieck himself, but you did not really do such a good job, for the eyes would have to be much smaller and more recessed, and the lower part did not really show him at his best.

He also saw Schelling’s picture, and we made a great many jokes about the whole thing. Madam Schlegel took something from your letter, [4] and he said he hoped it contained a great many bad things about her, and that had he been able, he would have provided you with a bit of counsel for it. [5] She read him what was written in the margin about her; and then also, Madam Schlegel could read you too well, and said it did not really sound like that! [6]

I have not yet told you that Tieck had come to take a walk with me, so I was not yet able to read most of your letter. Tieck said it would be a good idea indeed to hide the letters well, since otherwise Madam Schlegel might find them out. It was a good opportunity to “discover my heart.” “You can discover everything,” I told her, and “go ahead and take everything and read it.”

Be not angry at all this, my dear Cecile; the audacity with which I said that to her could not but quite prove to her how wholly sincere and without guile I am. I had just read in your letter. I have never had a single thought that I could not have related to the whole world, so why should I have balked at giving her the letter? [7]

Let me say as an aside that Tieck does not share most men’s opinion of women, at least not in general. That has elevated him considerably in my eyes, and I am convinced that he does not have some foolish opinion of me, but rather sees me just as I really am. [7a]

Another thing I find interesting about him is his similarity with you, namely, how he hates anything that is abstract, or at least has a frightfully difficult time grasping philosophical concepts — a trait that has prompted much belittlement from others here. Indeed, you cannot imagine what jesting scenes we have had here, especially when Schlegel was still here, who incessantly teased and wrangled and tormented him. And yet Tieck always took it all so good-naturedly, only occasionally taking a swipe back at Wilhelm such that the rest of us were constantly entertained. [8]

On the other hand, he comprehends with extraordinary facility and swiftness everything that can be grasped in a picture, and every single picture he has ever seen, by dead or living people, is indelibly inscribed inside him, something he also has in common with you along with several other traits that escape me just now.

We went for a rather long walk and spoke quite properly and at length about various things. [8a] We finally went into Paradies, where right at the entrance we encountered Madam Paulus and Dorette, who had met Goethe, who was walking between them. That is the only time I saw them. [9]

But another encounter awaited us, one I found quite interesting indeed, namely, Friedrich and Madam Veit, both of whom greeted us quite cordially. We passed them several times while walking, and each time, I took the liberty of looking quite closely at her face. She was probably rather curious to see me as well.

But what a sight! She looks completely and utterly as if she were Friedrich’s mother. And Tieck maintained that, indeed, she could be exactly that. I found nothing really pretty about her, not even her eyes. [10] Although Tieck and I then spoke at length about their alliance, it would take too long to relate it to you here. [11] Tieck will doubtless never marry such a person! [12]

Once I arrived back home, I was able to read your letter leisurely, and when I have less to write, I will answer it in more detail. I was quite sorry to see Schlegel depart. I had become much less awkward around him than at the beginning. [12a]

Apropos, Madam Schlegel made every effort to ensure that Schelling did not see his picture, for this happens to be one of his weak points. Tieck’s drawing came out very well indeed. [13] Carl saw it. [14] And here I just thought of yet another similarity between you and Tieck, namely, that he spares no effort in his projects, though otherwise he has spent quite a bit of time here doing nothing, for which we accordingly have given him a rather hard time, though it does no good. [14a]

And then ever since he was a child, his most ardent wish has been to travel to Italy. He was originally supposed to become a rope maker, and would have been satisfied being such, since the moment he became an apprentice he could then have made that journey to Italy. [15] But this wish can still come to fulfillment, and one hopes it will indeed do so. [16] His brother has always prophesied that he will marry a young, beautiful, rich Italian girl, which is why that feature was incorporated into Sternbald, and indeed the brother was thinking of him while portraying that character, though the two are not really similar. [17]

Yesterday Schelling and I accompanied him as far as the Mühlthal. Schelling was quite moved at their farewell, and Tieck strode so lightly and freely out into the world with nothing but himself and a slender walking staff, and I again thought of Sternbald, though Tieck is a much worthier fellow than Sternbald. [18] When I returned, I found our dear Carl, and it was certainly fitting that heaven had compensated me for the loss of an admirer by having a cousin arrive.

I have written so much about Tieck because I know you are no Madam Wiedemann and because you will be interested in most of it. Indeed, I have grown quite fond of him. [19] Schelling continued his jest, and Carl has probably related all sorts of stupid stuff to you. Schelling behaved quite nicely, and I believe Carl had a good time. His presence and the appearance of the young Mayers [20] will surely give rise to many a quarrel, and they will surely also bring a bit of life to Gotha, which makes me happy for your sake.

I wanted to write you about various other things as well, but I forgot everything amid all the things I did indeed relate; so perhaps more another time. Please make do with this one today.

I wrote all the letters this afternoon but am unable to read them through again. I probably left out a lot because I am writing in such haste. I do not know whether Carl passed along my request to Jettchen; [21] when I entered the room the diminutive friend immediately came up to me.

Adieu; I must close. Give my warm regards to Carl.


[*] Source: Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181-01-02 _0005r–Chart-A-02181-01-02 _0008r; 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). Cäcilie Gotter is now back in Gotha rather than in Weimar (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] In her previous letters, Julie Gotter has written to Cecile in both French and German, occasionally in the same letter or indeed in the same sentence.

Julie was learning and practicing French with an eye on a possible position later as a governess. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel 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., here: “last resort”], and I would very much like to see Julchen spared this if possible. Back.

[2] According to Julie Gotter’s account here and in what follows, the package seems to have contained at least two portraits done by Cecile Gotter, one each of Schelling and Friedrich Tieck, along with several drawings not identified further. Back.

[3] I.e., the portrait of Friedrich Tieck that Cecile Gotter had done. Back.

[4] Apparently a page to read; or several? Obscure remark. Back.

[5] A rare and perhaps surprising allusion to Friedrich Tieck’s opinion of Caroline. Back.

[6] Unclear remarks that can probably be resolved only by Cecile’s letter. Back.

[7] Similarly obscure remarks that perhaps only Cecile’s letter might illuminate. In any event not a particularly flattering illumination of Caroline’s character, perhaps not least because Julie, although a guest in Caroline’s home, is not Caroline’s daughter and is, moreover, eighteen years old, albeit unmarried (Goettinger Taschen Calender fuer das Jahr 1791; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[7a] Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Schalt-Jahr 1804; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[8] The illustration below portrays a good-natured practical joke played on a participant at dinner; note the donkey’s ears behind the gentleman at the right (Frauen Zimer Calender Auf das Jahr 178[8]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Wilhelm had departed Jena on 3 November 1801 to return to Berlin, so had been gone for about a week. Back.

[8a] This correspondence frequently references how pleasant a setting Jena provides for extended walks. Illustrations (in order) by Leonhard Schlemmer, Liebespaar beim Spaziergang (1799); Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museumsnr./Signatur Graph. A1: 2532c; Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, illustration to Becker’s Almanach für 1799′ (1799), Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Süsse liebenswürdige Last! O Warum nicht so auf ewig, from “12 Blätter zu Cecillia oder Geschichte einer reichen Waise,” in the Königl. Grosbritannischer Historischer Genealogischer Calender für 1789, mit Kupfern von Chodowieki (Lauenburg, Göttingen 1788):




[9] Here the Paradies greenspace in Jena (Ernst Borkowsky, Das alte Jena und seine Universität [Jena 1908], 125):


Concerning Julie Gotter’s intense aversion to Karoline Paulus, see the final paragraphs to her letter to Cecile Gotter on 25 August 1801 (letter 328.1). Back.

[10] Caroline had remarked in a letter to Auguste on 6 October 1799 (letter 247) after meeting Dorothea for the first time: “She does not seem pretty to me; her eyes are large and glowing, but the lower part of her face is too slack, too pronounced.” Back.

[11] Although Dorothea had been divorced from Simon Veit since 11 January 1799, she and Friedrich were not yet married. Dorothea, moreover, was a Jew, and had had to leave her eldest child, Jonas Veit, with his father in Berlin while retaining custody of her youngest, Philipp Veit.

On 6 April 1804 she converted to Christianity and married Friedrich in Paris.

Concerning the relationship in general, particularly from Friedrich’s perspective, see the pertinent section in his remarkably frank letter to Caroline on 27 November 1798 (letter 210), also with note 3 there and supplementary appendix 210.1. Back.

[12] Concerning Tieck’s marital history, see Julie’s letter to Cecile on 11 October 1801 (letter 329l.2), note 13. Back.

[12a] Illustrations: (1) Königl. Großbrit. Genealogischer Kalender auf das 1786 Jahr; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung; (2) Leipziger Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1795; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:




[13] It was during this particular visit to Jena that Friedrich Tieck did this now familiar portrai of the young Schelling, what Julie calls the “drawing.” Back.

[14] Not Carl Schelling (Julie Gotter normally adds the last name when mentioning him), but rather the Carl mentioned below as Julie’s (or her mother’s) cousin who had come through Jena and whom Caroline mentions in her postscript to Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel the previous day, 9 November 1801 (letter 329r). Julie mentions him in her letter to her mother on this same day, 10 November 1801 (letter 329u). Back.

[14a] Here idleness or slothfulness as an “affect”; one man urges another to cease such unproductive behavior (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 10 [Vienna 1783], plate 19):



[15] Tieck’s father, Johann Ludwig Tieck, was a master rope maker in Berlin. Here an illustration of this profession from the early eighteenth century (Christoff Weigel, Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an biß auf alle Künstler und Handwercker nach Jedes Ambts- und Beruffs-Verrichtungen meist nach dem Leben gezeichnet und in Kupfer gebracht etc. [Regenspurg 1698], illustration following p. 100):



[16] Tieck traveled to Italy in 1805, then returned to Germany by way of Coppet, where he did a bust of Madame de Staël, and Munich, where he visited with Caroline and Schelling and worked on the bust of Schelling for Valhalla. He returned to Italy in 1812 (“Europe 1740,” frontispiece map to F. W. Longman, Frederick the Great and the Seven Years’ War [New York 1899]):

See also Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm from Munich on 12 December 1808 (letter 437a), note 1. Back.

[17] See note 12 above concerning Friedrich Tieck’s marital history.

Ludwig Tieck, Franz Sternbald’s Wanderungen. Eine altdeutsche Geschichte, 2 vols. (Berlin 1798). Here the frontispieces to vols. 1 and 2 of the edition Vienna 1821; in the first, Sternbald takes leave of his Nürnberg master, Albrecht Dürer:


See John George Robertson, A History of German Literature (Edinburgh, London 1902), 423:

The most considerable outcome of Tieck and Wackenroder’s joint-authorship was the romance, Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen: eine altdeutsche Geschichte, published by Tieck 1798. This, the first characteristic novel of the Romantic School, was written exclusively by Tieck, but the plot and the ideas upon which it is based date back to the excursions which the two friends made to Nürnberg and the Fichtelgebirge, while students together at Erlangen, in 1793.

[Ed. note: the Fichtelgebirge separates the valley of the Main from that of the Saale; (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete (Leipzig 1937):]


Franz Sternbald is a gifted pupil of Dürer’s who sets out from Nürnberg upon his wanderings, comes first to Holland, and from Holland turns his steps to Italy. He meets with companions by the way, and love episodes are not wanting, but little happens in the book and it remains unfinished.

To Wilhelm Meister, the fountainhead, as we have seen, of the entire fiction of the Romantic School, Franz Sternbald naturally owes much; the minor characters, especially the women, are close imitations of those in Meister, and Goethe’s example is the excuse for the many lyrics that are interspersed.

At the same time, the influence of Heinse, the creator of the “Kunstroman” in German literature [Ardinghello], is not to be mistaken. The pleasantest feature of the novel is the spontaneous, youthful freshness of the opening chapters, the buoyant delight in nature and the reverent worship of art. Back.

[18] Representative illustration: Hermann Saftleven, Landschaft mit Burg und Wanderer [1639]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Z 1698:


See Caroline’s similar description of Tieck’s departure in her letter to Wilhelm on 16 November 1801 (letter 330), where she confirms that Julie and Schelling accompanied Tieck because she herself “was lying on the sofa in great pain.” A description of the location of the Mühlthal can be found in notes 7 and 8 there. Back.

[19] Luise Wiedemann, who with her daughter Emma was also living with Caroline between late April 1801 and her return to Braunschweig in early October 1801, seems to have participated in some teasing of Julie about Julie’s nascent or potential romantic involvement with Friedrich Tieck.

Julie remarks in her letter to Cecile on 11 October 1801 (letter 329l1) that “Schelling is constantly plaguing me with ‘Tieck,’ with Madam Wiedemann, as you can imagine, invariably concurring with him.” At the same time, Julie’s remarks in this letter attest that Julie was indeed, as she openly says, at least “quite fond” of Friedrich Tieck, her “admirer” (Leonhard Schlemmer, Liebespaar beim Spaziergang (1799); Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museumsnr./Signatur Graph. A1: 2532c):



[20] Uncertain identity; possibly a son of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s stepsister Julie, the latter of whom through marriage lived in Lyon in France. Back.

[21] Uncertain identity; Jettchen is short for Henriette. Back.

Translation © 2019 Doug Stott