Letter 335d.1

335d.1. Julie Gotter to Cecile Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 14 December 1801 [*]

Jena, 14 December 1801

It was with indescribable joy that I once more opened all your missives. [1] Since I cannot address each person individually today, let me here thank all whose lengthy and dear letters gave me such wonderful pleasure. I do indeed, however, need to write to you this time, my dear Cecile, and hope that Pauline will forgive me. I will try to make it up to her later.

Above all, we must speak about your plans for this coming summer. [2] Dresden is probably the most preferable choice in any case since we do not really know anyone in Kassel. [3] And Caroline will be glad to handle the negotiations. She maintains she has already told Mother and has just been waiting for all of you to give her instructions, since, after all, she did not yet know whether you even had settled on Dresden. It would in any case be difficult to arrange anything with Graff, for although his wife is allegedly quite nice, Caroline does not really know her that well, whereas he is quite dull and in her opinion would probably not agree to anything of this sort. And since, moreover, he is already so far along in years, it is probably not advisable for you to go to him.

So we discussed all sorts of possibilities. You would probably find things quite pleasant with the Tiecks, perhaps even too pleasant, since having so many people around you all the time and the rather chaotic life they lead might too easily distract you from your work. [4] Examples of such disruption have already arisen — for Tieck himself, for example, who has had to endure the incessant visitations of his dear wife’s family. You know that Madam Alberti was generously blessed in her marriage. In a word: the sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law etc. etc. etc. — such that there was no end to it. [5] That everyone was there in a single room together, along with the squawking of little Dorothea — could not but disturb him not a little and utterly distract him from his work.

So finally he himself became a bit crazy from it all, not least because the natural consequences of doing absolutely nothing could not be pleasant, and he may well have silently cursed the presence of this horde of sisters, which was a singular spectacle just by itself, watching these half-dozen female figures like a bunch of livestock wandering around the streets and walking paths of Dresden, hanging tightly together like a bunch of prickly burrs, and always in a tenaciously unified group [6] — and that is the honest truth, Madam Loder told us so. [7]

At the beginning, Madam Bernhardi had already observed this dreadful state of affairs with considerable displeasure indeed, for she is one of those sisters with boundless love for her brothers. And she is particularly, indeed indescribably attached to Ludwig, for whom she has already provided infinite help. [8] Ludwig has lived quite irresponsibly and spent a great deal of money, and she has always given him whatever she earned.

Now, however, she can hardly be pleased by his marriage, and indeed, at the beginning they did not really behave all that courteously toward her, [9] so it is no surprise that she is now angry at his laziness this past summer, since he has nothing to live on if he does not work — and yet somehow he was just fine.

But here I have almost related to you his entire biography and neglected what I should have been discussing. From what I have said, however, you can probably see that you do not really belong there. Though they will be living in proper circumstances this coming winter, it is in any case not something for you.

Caroline believes that the best arrangement for you would be with Becker, and if Mother so desires, Caroline will write to him and try to set things in motion. [10] She knows yet another artist, a certain Neumann, with whom Madam Tieck’s sister spent some time (who is also an artist; Caroline pointed out that she started quite late in life). But Caroline nonetheless believes that Becker is more unselfish.

By the way, she severely reproaches your inertia and believes you really do need to go to Leipzig for the next trade fair and also to Dresden on the same occasion, and that since you do have the Mayers there, [11] things will work out. But she insists you need to move quickly.

It just now occurs to me that you might be very well situated with Madam Veit, indeed excellently so. Why did I not think of this possibility earlier? You will probably prefer that arrangement to all others. [12]

But truly, Cäcile, you will be spending a splendid summer among so many interesting and intelligent people. Caroline will give you references everywhere, with the Ernsts, the Tiecks, and even Friedrich will be going there as well — What more could you want? I am already imagining you there adding to the pentic [pantic?] Albertian womens’ processional! — — —

Tell Mother not to worry about the sausages not keeping. Schelling will be glad to take on the task of devouring them soon, and indeed she is kindly requested to order more. Mother and Caroline’s mutual generosity always makes me laugh. [13]

Mother figured on only 10 gr. for the blouse. I saw it immediately but did not yet want to tell Caroline after all. On the other hand, Madam Schlegel chided me for asking one Carolin for the dress — but because the second-hand dealer was willing to pay that much, I thought it reasonable, so now she, too, is dissatisfied [14] . . .

[End of sheet]


[*] Source: Forschungsbibliothek Gotha Chart-A-02181-01-02 _0009r–Chart-A-02181-01-02 _00010v; 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) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Presumably in connection with the festival of St. Nicholas on 6 December, a family feast when bags of sweets and fruits were distributed among the children of the house and their friends (Johann Heinrich Lips, after Johann Martin Usteri, Der Weihnachtsmann [1799]):



[2] In connection with Cäcilie Gotter’s desire to become a painter and portraitist, a goal toward which Caroline had long been involved in helping her. Back.

[3] Jena is located 65 km east of Gotha and 150 km west of Dresden; Gotha is similarly 45 km west of Weimar, the latter 20 km west of Jena (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Dresden was also desirable for a young artist because of the Dresden gallery and Antiquities Collection.

The Gotters do nonetheless spend time later in Kassel, though apparently not long. See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 4 January 1804 (letter 382). Back.

[4] Back in late June 1800, Ludwig Tieck and his family departed Jena for Weissenfels, Giebichenstein (just north of Halle), and Hamburg before settling again in Berlin. In the spring of 1801, they moved to Dresden (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795])



[5] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Weiss nicht die Jugend, man guckt sich blind in der Dämmerung? Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung (7-512):


The reference is to Amalie Tieck’s mother, whose marriage was indeed “amply blessed” with eleven children. In general, Ludwig Tieck seems to have been copiously surrounded by family and visitors in Dresden (Roger Paulin, Ludwig Tieck. A Literary Biography [Oxford 1986], 148):

The writer Friedrich Schulze (pseudonym Laun) remembered Tieck in Dresden (and that included the winter of 1803) as surrounded by visiting family and friends, the Bernhardis, Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel [ed. note: at the time: still Dorothea Veit], Steffens, Louise Reichardt, Maria Alberti. . . . Maria Alberti, his sister-in-law, was studying with the portraitist Anton Graff, as was Franz Gareis, the fiancé of Louise Reichardt. Back.

[6] Here a street scene in Dresden ca. 1750 (by Bernardo Belotto):



[7] Despite the further discussion of possibilities for Cäcilie in Dresden, the journey never came about. See the second paragraph of Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 15 June 1802 (letter 363), i.e., after Julie herself had returned to Gotha and Caroline from Berlin. There also a discussion of why staying with the Tiecks would have been impractical, since they would be leaving Dresden during the latter half of the summer in any case. Back.

[8] Although evidence of Sophie’s allegedly more-than-sisterly devotion to Ludwig is precarious and speculative, she has in any case been described — accurately, it may be argued — as “neurotically possessive” (Roger Paulin, Ludwig Tieck. A Literary Biography, 50). Back.

[9] I.e., toward Amalie Tieck. Tieck had become engaged to Amalie née Alberti during the summer of 1796 and married her in April 1798 (Roger Paulin, Ludwig Tieck. A Literary Biography, 84). Back.

[10] Caroline did indeed write to Becker; see her letter to him on 21 January 1802 (letter 342a). Back.

[11] Possibly a son (and wife? family?) of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s stepsister Julie, the latter of whom through marriage lived in Lyon in France. Back.

[12] Friedrich Schlegel had left Jena for Berlin at the end of the month, on ca. 29 November, with Friedrich Tieck. By early February 1802, both Friedrich and Dorothea — who had remained behind in Jena, where she had had to fend off creditors — were living in Dresden, though they departed for Paris from Weimar on 30 May 1802 after the performance of Friedrich’s play Alarcos he previous evening (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Elementarische Landkarte von Europa,” in 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 xl):


That is, they were not in Dresden during the summer of 1802 in any case. Back.

[13] In her letter to Luise Gotter on 16 November 1801 (letter 329v), Julie request that “if you can get sausages, please forward them and the dress to Doctor Huschke [in Weimar]; you can specify that the parcel be picked up and save on postage.”

The background to the following anecdote is uncertain. Back.

[14] Göttingischer Taschen-Calender für das Jahr 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



Translation © 2019 Doug Stott