Letter 337

• 337. Caroline to Pauline Gotter in Gotha: Jena, late December 1801 [*]

[Jena, late December 1801]

|242| After much reflection, I could think of absolutely nothing more precious or suitable as a Christmas present for my worthy |243| Pauline than these delicate enclosed pages, on which she will daily be able to measure the fleetingness of her temperament. One cannot doubt that these little fish will turn into little birds on her hand each and every time. [1]


[*] This is the first extant letter from Caroline to Pauline Gotter, Schelling’s later wife. It may be noted that at the time of this letter, she was only slightly younger than was Auguste when the latter died. Back.

[1] An intriguing but uncertain allusion to the nature of the gift.

Such “pages” may have referred to copper-engraving printouts of the sort published for children and young people for the purpose of moral instruction, and often extolled in various journals as an appropriate Christmas present. Might such printouts also have been folded in different ways, e.g., as “fish,” in the fashion of origami?

Other copper engravings were designed to teach or cultivate patience by needing to be carefully painted. Finally, the reference may possibly be to a kind of token made of Mother of Pearl and often made in the form of a fish, extremely thin, delicate wafer-like pieces used in a game. (Personal communication Sabine Schierhoff.) Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott