Letter 345b

345b. Julie Gotter to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 5 February 1801 [*]

Jena, 5 February 1801

Because I was hoping finally to hear some good news from all of you, I was over at the Frommanns’ residence. [1] Unfortunately, he did not speak with anyone except Sophie, concerning whose health he did, however, put me at ease to a certain extent. [2] He also told me he had seen Pauline, whom he found to be quite well and lively. But I never could have imagined that not even once did she inquire about her sister; I honestly did not realize she was that indifferent! —

I was in any case quite vexed with Herr Frommann for not making the journey later, for what a magnificent opportunity that would have been for me to come along. But he said not a word about it to me, otherwise I would have given him requests for you. We were in Weimar this past Saturday to attend the theater, where I learned about it from him [3] — to my considerable dismay, since I had long speculated about his journey.

On the last postal day, Madam Loder’s visit prevented me from finishing my letter; I hope, dear Mother, that my silence did not make you anxious. —

I was greatly pleased by the contents of your last letter; you did not mention the health of our dear aunt at all, something I take to be a good sign. On the other hand, I am quite vexed at my sisters’ laziness and am tempted not to write to them anymore, although Cecile will doubtless say that it is I who owes her a letter.

The time is getting closer and closer when I will be returning to my dear Gotha, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing so many beloved people again. Unfortunately, I will probably have an extremely difficult time finding a ride for the journey. Tomorrow I intend to see the stable master and inquire about the possibility; but since he has already been there earlier this winter, he is unlikely to be going again, at least any time soon. [4] If absolutely nothing can be found, then I will be taken as far as Erfurt, and someone from Gotha need travel over only that far to pick me up.

I mentioned earlier that I was in the theater in Weimar on Saturday. Turandot adapted after Gozzi was performed, and this time with Italian masks, a new phenomenon in the German theater. [5] I was extremely entertained while watching; the eye especially is quite pleasantly attracted and stimulated by the unusual and in part very beautiful costumes. [6]

Although it is supposed to be a “tragic-comic” piece, one could probably say that the former element predominates, especially since the Germans possess nothing of the animated, comical elements necessary for such performance. Becker was probably the only actor who really performed well. But what a variety of pieces are thus produced and performed on the Weimar stage — despite the small number of actors — which are not considered even in larger theaters.

And indeed, I vividly imagined how interested our good father would be in this new epoch of the Weimar theater, and what infinite pleasure he would have could he have seen the extraordinary plays recently performed there. —

Since I last wrote, I was present at a casino and, yesterday, at the attendant club, to which the Frommanns invited me. Because of the current damp weather and deep muck everywhere, Caroline almost never leaves the house, though she is doing well enough in her own way, something about which I am sure all of you are concerned and which is absolutely necessary for her imminent journey. [7]

I was astonished and delighted to hear that Jettchen is still in Gotha, since I can now entertain the pleasant hope of yet seeing her. [8] And I promise to relate to her much news about our diminutive friend. [9]

The brief time we were in Weimar but not in the theater we spent with Madam Ludecus, who looks dreadful and is quite depressed. [10] Minchen Conta, on the other hand, looks very well indeed and in fact has even gotten prettier. She is an astonishingly good-natured girl, and I spend some very pleasant time with her. But is it quite unacceptable that Cecile has not written her even a single time; writing such a letter cannot possibly cost her that much time and would provide such joy. —

I had not have even a quarter hour during which to pay the Huschkes a visit.

You recently wished to know about domestic lives. One day is generally like the next. I have various chores to do in the house, also handiwork, and I occasionally read; indeed, the time passes by so quickly that I never really know where the days go.

Schelling generally arrives here with us at 6:00, and that is usually the most interesting part of the day. We recently celebrated his birthday. [11] At dinner here that evening, the guests included his brother and Herr Möller, who is a Norwegian and a good friend of Steffens, whom Cäcile knows through Renemann. The champagne that was finally brought out for everyone made the company merry indeed. [12]

Let me relate as an aside that Schelling is inconsolable that [13] . . .

[End of letter.]


[*] 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] The Jena publisher Friedrich Frommann seems to have been in Gotha recently and seen if not spoken with some of the Gotter family. Back.

[2] Sophie in Gotha is otherwise unidentified but is mentioned in Julie Gotter’s letter to her sister Cäcilie Gotter on 4 January 1802 (letter 339b) as being seriously ill (Leipzig Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1794; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[3] Concerning this theater visit, see below. Back.

[4] Julie Gotter returns to Gotha in mid-March when Caroline departs on her journey to Berlin (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


The first illustration below portrays a young woman in a stable setting remarkably similar to that anticipated by Julie Gotter. The second includes an interior shot with carriage and horses, and the third a stable attached to an inn (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Sonntagsrast in Platte,” “Ein polnischer Pferdestall,” “Das kassubische Wirtshaus bei Wutzkow,” Von Berlin nach Danzig: Eine Künstlerfahrt im Jahre 1773, von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den Originalen in der Staatl. Akademie der Künste in Berlin, mit erläuterndem Text und einer Einführung von Wolfgang von Oettingen [Leipzig 1923], nos. 7, 31):





[5] Julie writes here on Friday, 5 February 1802; Schiller’s adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s play was performed on the previous Saturday, 30 January 1802.

Concerning this performance, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 1 February 1802 (letter 345), note 12. Back.

[6] Here representative characters from the play in colorful mid-nineteenth-century renderings of such costumes (Girolamo Franceschini; Theater Museum Vienna):



Concerning the use of Italian masks, costumes and characters for German theater audiences otherwise, see, e.g., Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421), note 12. Back.

[7] Julie had become slightly worried about making it back to Gotha as early as she would like if Caroline were to be too ill to make the journey to Berlin and she, Julie, might be urged to stay to care for her. Julie seems to have been essentially ready to return to Gotha.

The weather was in any case of perennial concern for travelers, esp. given the absence of chaussées in many parts of Germany at the time; it may also be remembered that Wilhelm Schlegel postponed leaving Braunschweig for Berlin back in February 1801 because of such “muck” on the roads, preferring instead to wait for a freeze.

Caroline writes to Luise Gotter from Braunschweig on 23 January 1801 (letter 283) that “a head cold and everything that goes along with it, along with the terrible roads, have also conspired to keep Schlegel here, and he is considering waiting for a really heavy frost” (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Im Unwetter zwischen Körlin und Köslin,” Von Berlin nach Danzig: Eine Künstlerfahrt im jahre 1773, von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den originalen in der Staatl. akademie der künste in Berlin, mit erläuterndem text und einer einführung von Wolfgang von Oettingen [Leipzig 1923], plate 8; second illustration: anonymous 19th-century engraving):




[8] Unidentified, though Julie mentions Jettchen (Henriette) in earlier letters. Back.

[9] Unidentified but mentioned in Julie’s letter to Cecile Gotter on 10 November 1801 (letter 329t): “I do not know whether Carl passed along my request to Jettchen; when I entered the room the diminutive friend immediately came up to me.” Back.

[10] Caroline mentions this visit in her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 1 February 1802 (letter 345). See esp. note 13 there. Back.

[11] Schelling’s twenty-seventh birthday on Wednesday, 27 January 1802. Back.

[12] Here a scene remarkably similar to that which Julie describes (J. E. Gailer, Neuer Orbis Pictus für die Jugend oder Schauplatz der Natur der Kunst und des Menschenlebens, 5th ed. [Reutlingen 1842], plate 124):



[13] A regrettable loss of text; perhaps “inconsolable that I [Julie] will be returning soon to Gotha”? Back.

Translation © 2021 Doug Stott