Letter 333

• 333. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, late November 1801 [*]

[Jena, late November 1801]

|222| I really must present myself in person occasionally, my good Luise; all too often I must rely on my advocate to communicate with you, [1] and although that person is certainly not bad, I fear that by and by you will nonetheless lose sight of me and then relegate me to that dark background area, like some sick person who no longer participates in anything, whereas I do indeed never cease to take a genuine interest in everything that happens to you and your family. [2] . . .

As far as Aunt Seebach is concerned, |223| from what I hear she departed this life in peace and left behind much joy. [3] I am dissatisfied with her for not having rather left Julchen the house, Cecile the garden, and Lubinchen all the meadows, along with enough cash money so that Julchen could have laid out a park as well, Cecile have built an Italian house, and Lubinchen have bought — a whole flock of little geese, ducks, and chickens for the meadow. [4]

Julchen will probably give all of you an idea of how we live. [5] It has required every possible effort on her part to endure things here in my hermitage, and such will doubtless be credited to her in heaven for both temporal and eternal life.

Occasionally, when attending a larger social gathering, she does catch a glimpse of the larger world, albeit without any particular delight, or so it seems to me. [6]

Schlegel writes fairly often. He will begin his lectures in Berlin on December 1 before a magnificent assembly consisting almost exclusively of the nobility; only imagine! [Addendum from Julie Gotter: including a great many ladies]. [7] Actually, I have already promised him I would come for Christmas, though I doubt I will want or be able to go much before February. [8] [Errand requests.]

Your Caroline.

[Addendum in Julie Gotter’s handwriting]

Caroline has left almost no space for me to add a few words, my beloved mother; the attached dedication of our lady friend is for you. [9]


[*] Dating: because in her own letter to her mother on 16 November 1801 (letter 329v) Julie Gotter mentions presumably the death of the same aunt as does Caroline in this letter, and because Caroline, by her own admission, has not written Luise Gotter regularly and thus likely learned of the death from Julie herself, Caroline’s letter here is probably to be dated “mid-November 1801” rather than “late November 1801.”

That said, because only four letters currently intervene between Julie’s and Caroline’s letters, renumbering this letter can probably be avoided for the sake of simplicity. Back.

[1] Julie Gotter had been carrying on a regular correspondence with her family in Gotha (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Caroline’s jesting words are essentially correct insofar as Julie Gotter frequently, indeed regularly mentions Caroline’s illnesses in her letters home. See Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki’s illustration — at the time seriously intended (“Lord, I await thy salvation”) — of a physician attending a mortally ill person (Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate XLVII c):


One might more realistically picture Julie, Caroline, and the attending physician as follows (illustration from Christophe Schmid [Christoph von Schmid], La guirlande de houblon [1836], Oeuvres choisies, vol. 4, new ed. [Tours 1867], plate following p. 262):



[3] Uncertain allusion (Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1809; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Luise Gotter’s husband, Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter, had studied in Göttingen with a certain Johann Gottfried Friedrich Seebach from Gotha, who seems to have matriculated there in October 1764 after studying first in Jena. He died on 1 February 1773. Little is otherwise known about him; see Rudolf Schlösser, “Seebach,” in Lehrplan für den deutschen Unterricht in den unteren und mittleren Klassen eines sächsischen Realgymnasiums, ed. Curt Hentschel, 2nd supplement (Leipzig 1892), 195–99, here 196–97.

In any event, Aunt Seebach’s relationship with the Gotters is uncertain. Back.

[4] Caroline uses the nickname Lubinchen again in her letter to Pauline Gotter herself in August 1805 (letter 395).

Otherwise a charming evocation of the topos of pastoral, bucolic life made popular by Rousseau in the late-eighteenth-century (Gartenkalender auf das Jahr 1784; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[5] Julie Gotter had been living with Caroline in Jena since 31 May 1801; her letters do indeed provide copious information about her and Caroline’s daily life at Leutragasse 5 (Leipzig Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] In her letters home, Julie confirms the withdrawn and almost reclusive lifestyle she and Caroline and, previously, their housemates were living. Although she regularly speaks about taking walks, nonetheless Julie herself generally did not get out much.

Caroline’s allusion to the “larger social gathering” was most recently a ball to which both Schelling (in his letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 9 November 1801 [letter 329r]) and Julie herself (in her letter to her mother on 10 November 1801 [letter 329u]) likewise refer.

In that letter to her mother, Julie confirms Caroline’s remark about having had an experience at the ball that was less than ebullient (illustration: Albert Kindler, artist, and Johann Leonhard Raab, engraver, Die Verlassene auf dem Tanzboden [1878]; Österreichische Nationalbibliothek):



[7] See Rudolf Haym’s introduction to Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures. According to Haym in the late nineteenth century (followed by Erich Schmidt, [1913], 2:627), Jakob Minor had said all that was necessary about Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures in the preface to the edition of 1884.

The plan was already in place in August 1801. The announcement of the first cycle was posted at the end of the month, stipulating the period from November to Easter 1802, twice weekly from 12:00 to 1:00, with an advance fee of only two Friedrichs d’or — a poke at those who, like the later, intensely anti-Romantic Berlin periodical Der Freimüthige, which began publication in 1803 and would be edited by opponents August von Kotzebue and then Garlieb Merkel, mocked the alleged Romantic attitude toward money (Koberstein, 4:885–86; illustrations Jonah 1:17: Christoph Weigel, Biblia Ectypa: Bildnussen auß Heiliger Schrifft dess Alt- und Neuen Testaments, in welchen Alle Geschichte und Erscheinungen deutlich und schrifftmäßig zu Gottes Ehre und Andächtiger Seelen erbaulicher beschauung vorgestellet werden [Augsburg 1695]):


Messieurs Schlegel and Fichte came to Berlin to devour Berlin’s understanding the way the whale devoured Jonah; but Berlin devoured them instead, just as the ocean devours a droplet of water. And there they now sit, organizing new states and reading and reading. And the Berliners continue to love money, which Fichte throws out the window in his own state . . . And [the Berliners] continue to laugh at the grand statesman with the moneyless state.

Although the beginning of Wilhelm’s lectures was delayed until December, this ingenious, well executed novum for a mixed public wholly merited the grand success it enjoyed. Schelling was able to use the initial manuscript in the autumn of 1802 as a source for his own lecture series on the philosophy of art. In the winter of 1801–02, Wilhelm lectured exclusively on the theory or doctrine of art, then in the winter of 1802–03 on the history of classical literature, and in the winter of 1803–04 on the history of Romantic literature.

Concerning the “great many ladies,” see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f), note 18.

Wilhelm was doubtless looking forward to having an audience so different from the students in Jena (Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1805; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[8] Caroline did not journey to Berlin until the second half of March 1802 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[9] Uncertain allusion. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott