Letter 334c

334c. Julie Gotter to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 5 December 1801 [*]

Jena, 5 December 1801

Why, dearest Mother, must every letter I receive contain ever new reports of sad things that have happened? [1] I wait with both joy and anxiety for tomorrow’s post. God grant that it be comforting. The most recent news concerning our beloved aunt was somewhat better; [2] may it be an enduring improvement. I would never have guessed that things stood so wretchedly with our Uncle Hoff, since he has so often been quite ill and yet recovered quickly. [3] How is our poor aunt doing in all this? He seemed to be doing so well this past summer.

Caroline is doing tolerably well now, almost better than during the summer. In the meantime, however we did not go over to Weimar after all, since traveling back so late at night would not agree with her, and staying overnight is quite expensive. [4]

We did take a ride on the day the weather was good, and that agreed quite well with Madam Schlegel. Otherwise, because the weather has been so unpleasant she has gone out but a single time for several weeks now. And thus do we live a very quiet and solitary life. [5] On Sunday, however, I did go with Madam Froriep to a concert for the first time, even though such are given each Sunday; I wanted to hear Madam Hufeland sing. [6]

The Mayers and Carl will probably not be remaining in Gotha much longer. Our good aunt will have a difficult time separating from her children, though she will be keeping Aline. And since she knows they are so happy, that alone will contribute to her well-being if but from afar. If Carl is still there, please extend a thousand greetings to him from me. [7]

Fritzchen Heumann’s presence was doubtless a delight for all of you, especially Jettchen. [8] And though the déjeuner was already over, I was there in spirit and thought fondly about everyone who was present.

I am extremely heartened to have venerable Herr Heumann remember me, and am quite fond of his undeserved gift. I will thank him in writing, though I have no more time to do so today.

Though Cecile does not deserve it, I did write her a long letter, and yet I nonetheless went for so long without writing directly to you, my gracious Mother. But try the following: Do not write to me at all, and I will probably react like the small bird that did not sing until no one brought it anything to eat. Ah, but, no, you would never have the heart to do such a thing, and I for my part would worry myself to death over it. So please keep writing to me; at the very least, I can assure you that you are not wasting your generous goodness on an ungrateful heart — even if that heart does does always immediately express its gratitude.

Stay well, dearest Mother; my soul is always with and among you, and soon I will be thus in body as well. [9] May heaven turn everything for the best and grant my honored and inexpressibly dear aunt her health and serenity once again, which she has so long had to do without. —

Adieu, dear Mother. I impatiently await tomorrow that I may think about all of you all the more ardently.

Ever yours,



[*] Source: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften; Nachlass F. W. J. v. Schelling, no. 933.

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) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] See Julie Gotter’s letters to Luise Gotter esp. on 16 November 1801 (letter 329v) and, three weeks later, on 25 December 1801 (letter 336b). See also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in late (mid-) November 1801 (letter 333), in which she mentions the passing of a certain Aunt Seebach in the Gotter or Stieler family, whose passing Julie also mentions earlier.

Julie mentions several other relatives in this present letter in connection with sad news from Gotha, not all of whom can be reliably identified (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Soll ich sie traun? [1797–1807]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [7-513]):



[2] Although possibly Eleonore (Lorchen) Gotter, about whose health Julie was earlier concerned, the reference seems instead to be to the wife of the next-mentioned individual, Uncle Hoff (see next footnote). Back.

[3] Presumably Carl Ernst Adolph von Hoff (illustration [excerpt]: anonymous, Frau am Krankenbett [ca. 1771–1800]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. C: 1 oben rechts):



[4] The reference is to Lessing’s classic play Nathan der Weise: Ein dramatisches Gedicht in fünf Aufzügen (N. p. 1779). It was performed in the Weimar theater in Schiller’s abridged adaptation not on 21 November 1801 as originally anticipated, but rather not until the following Saturday, 28 November 1801, and was repeated on 2 and 14 December 1801. (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 41–42). Julie Gotter mentions the anticipated performance in her letter to Luise Gotter on 16 November 1801 (letter 329v), and Caroline in her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on that same day (letter 330).

Because Julie is writing here on Saturday, 5 December 1801, she is presumably referring to the performance either on Saturday, 28 November 1801, or on Wednesday, 2 December 1801.

Caroline and Julie did, however, eventually have dinner in Weimar and stay overnight at the Erbprinz Hotel after attending the premiere of Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel on 2 January 1802, because, similarly, “Caroline did not want to risk returning to Jena at night” (Julie Gotter to Cäcilie Gotter on 4 January 1801 [letter 339b]).

Risks also, however, included highwaymen along the route between Weimar and Jena by way of the Mühlthal, which at the time enjoyed an ambiguous reputation as a locale where shady characters lingered and often accosted travelers to and from Weimar, among other places. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 16 November 1801 (letter 330), note 7. Back.

[5] As early as in her letter to Luise Gotter on 26 June 1801 (letter 322a), Julie mentions that (illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki [1784])

our life here is so solitary and monotonous that there is not really much to say. While Madam Wiedemann was away, we hardly left the house, in fact, we have not left it since I last wrote; the bad weather and Caroline’s health do not permit it.



[6] Sunday concerts in Jena were held in what were known as the academic Rosensäle, or Rosengebäude (Rose Halls, Rose Building), just around the corner from Leutragasse 5 on Fürstengraben; the Pulverturm, or Powder Tower (see below) is the circular structure indicated at left (Stadtplan von Jena, 1909; Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung):


Here Fürstengraben in 1836 with the Rose Buildling on the left with its “bonnet” steeple and the Powder Tower in the distance (Gustav Heinrich Schneider, Die Burschenschaft Germania zu Jena [Jena 1897], 81, 121):



Here the Rosensäle concert building on two postcards from 1912:




[7] Julie Gotter had seen her cousin Carl (otherwise unidentified; Mayer?) during the latter’s previous visit in Jena. See her letter to Luise Gotter on 10 November 1801 (letter 329u). The “good aunt” may possibly be Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s stepsister Julie Mayer, who through marriage lived in Lyon in France. Back.

[8] Fritzchen (Friederike) Heumann (and her father, who is mentioned in the next paragraph) is otherwise unidentified, as is Jettchen (Henriette). Back.

[9] In her letter to Luise Gotter back on 16 November 1801 (letter 329v), Julie remarks that

my wish to come to Gotha is now stronger than ever, and as heart-rending as the reunion surely will be, it will nonetheless be such a relief to be around all of you and to share our sorrow and grief. For several days now Caroline has also not been doing well, though today she is a bit better. May God grant that she be well enough this coming winter to make the journey to Berlin. Then I can also soothe my own yearning.

As it turned out, Caroline was not well (or inclined) enough to make the journey to Berlin until mid-March 1802, at which time Julie did indeed return to Gotha (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



Translation © 2021 Doug Stott