Letter 354

• 354. Caroline to Julie Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 11? March 1802 [*]

[Jena, 11? March 1802]

|319| Your letter, dear Julchen, [1] did indeed reach me while I was still here, nor was I even close to climbing into the carriage, for on Sunday, and quite unexpectedly, I received a letter from Schlegel telling me that Grattenauer would be traveling much sooner than was initially anticipated, [2] and at the same time that Madam Bernhardi had lost her youngest child and was utterly inconsolable, and the entire household quite depressed. [3]

All this prompted me to wait for Grattenauer after all, since Schlegel himself seems to wish it that he might prepare a more cheerful reception for me than would be possible in these initial weeks.

I now suspect that my departure will be delayed until the end of the coming week [4] and that my traveling companion, rather than the previously mentioned, quiet gentleman versed in the arts of healing, will instead be an active, lively legal scholar. [5] Admittedly, since things are now as you describe, I would probably do better to make haste.

In the meantime, since I did allow the winter to pass by rather negligently, I am hoping still to arrive soon enough to prevent the conjunction of those two particular stars, namely, the poet and the actress. [6] Is it possible that one still cannot get away from this stain there with you? The medisance there is, I must say, quite like the wooden horse in Don Quixote. [7]

By the way, regarding what you told me, well, |320| Madam Niethammer entertained me quite splendidly with it yesterday. [8] But Minchen Conta did nonetheless sell you a whole slate of lies about it all, even according to the reports from Weimar. The council and citizenry did not want to let the hall be ruined — Kotzebue merely wants for it to have been Goethe so that he, Kotzebue, can play the role of someone who has been oppressed and innocently banished, which is also why he did not accept any of the offers made to him by other public houses. [9]

Moreover, in Die Kleinstädter Goethe also deleted only — a few personages satirizing the Schlegels etc. because they could not allow the theater to be used for such. [10] Kotzebue has become so impudent because of all the rubles and the certificate of nobility, the latter of which he presented so that she might appear at the court [11] — that he even attacked Goethe at the dowager duchess’s over the matter, indeed, our dear Christel came up and insisted that now her husband would “no longer be performing any plays” there, and then the elder Madam Kotzebooby wrote Goethe an extremely coarse letter telling him that they were “all trying to drive her son out of Weimar.”

Thus does such baseness manifest itself, and thus also how it is protected. —

Schiller was heartily grateful that they did not perform his “Bell.” [11a] Fräulein Lesbos did indeed lament loudly, since her costume alone allegedly cost her 50 gold guilders. [12] As far as Goethe’s “flight” is concerned, you yourself know that his arrival here was planned long before all this happened. [13]

From here I must relate to you that the diminutive lady Paulus is said to be “of good hope,” or at least a bit crazy, or perhaps both. [14] She allegedly is so cranky that even her closest lady acquaintances no longer come to see her. As far as that good hope is concerned, it seems to me quite inappropriately put considering the person herself, nor can one expect it to come into the world with any real blessing.

|321| One more thing. Friedrich wrote to Fromman and assured him they would be returning here at Easter, the explanation for which is simply the fact that Madam Veit genuinely does have to pay the toll in question. [15]

. . . Since you have been away, I have been inviting a guest over each evening and just wanted to notify you that I have now also found Hegel to be extremely merry and in full glory. Here in town a great many teas after the new fashion are now being given and a great many entertaining but soporific games played whose cheerful boredom Gries and Möller cannot extol highly enough to me. All this is taking place in honor of the Ziegesars; [16] they also visited the Hufelands. [17] . . .


N.B. The return visit was also not thus. You will remember that the Frommans were even present when Goethe paid his return visit to Kotzebue. He was merely stiff and did not speak. [18] . . .


[*] Erich Schmidt’s dating derives from the content and wording of this letter, both of which closely resemble Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 11 March 1802 (letter 353). Back.

[1] Apparently not extant. Julie Gotter had returned to Gotha from Jena on 6 March 1802 ([1] Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; [2] Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; [3] from Samuel Richardson, Pamela or Virtue Rewarded [New York 1906], plate following p. 78):





[2] See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), note 3. Back.

[3] See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352). Back.

[4] Dating this letter to ca. 11 March 1802 concurs with the estimated date of Caroline’s departure for Berlin on or just after 18 March 1802. Back.

[5] Although Caroline nowhere unequivocally identifies her traveling companion, he seems to have been Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer, with whom she was also staying in Berlin (see below). See her correspondence with Wilhelm Schlegel beginning on 1 March 1802 (letter 349) through 18 March 1802 (letter 356); see also Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 29 March 1802 (letter 356a), note 1. See esp. Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), note 3 and on 18 March 1802 (letter 356), notes 2 and 4. Back.

[6] Yet another allusion, apparently prompted by something Julie Gotter wrote, to a relationship between Wilhelm and Friederike Unzelmann in Berlin (anonymous, Galante Szene mit Handkuss [1776–1800]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. A: 179):


See, e.g., Caroline’s remarks to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322):

Ah, but I really must relate to you what Ludekus heard in the Roman Kaiser in Erfurt and then told Luise. You allegedly were getting on so well with Unzeline that you wanted to marry her, she intending to get a divorce from Unzelmann and you from me. But Woltmann was so jealous he was intending to write me an anonymous letter to alert me of the plan in good time. — Could one make up anything crazier?

Although Caroline teases Wilhelm on several occasions about “Unzeline,” or the “fairy child”, she seems to have been less worried about his relationship with the actress than with Minna van Nuys, on which see the supplementary appendix on Caroline’s rival. Back.

[7] Médisance, Fr., “gossip, slander, backbiting” (“Ein Thé — medisant,” Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1803: Dem Edeln und Schönen der frohen Laune und der Philosophie des Lebens gewidmet [1804], plate 5; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Julie Gotter had been reading Cervantes’s novel. See her letters to Cäcilie Gotter on 9 June 1801 (letter 319c) and to Luise Gotter on 26 June 1801 (letter 322a).

Clavileno the Swift was the wooden horse allegedly controlled by a peg on its forehead that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are tricked into riding through the air, albeit blindfolded and stationary, to free the bewitched ladies of their beards in Cervantes, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, part 2, chap. 40 and 41.

To simulate the horse’s flight, several bellows were used to blow air on the pair, then flax set on fire to touch off fireworks in the horse’s tail to simulate a crash landing. Illustration from The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha (Hartford 1855), plate following p. 314:



[8] Concerning the episode of August von Kotzebue’s shipwrecked celebration for Schiller on 5 March 1802, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 March 1802 (letter 353). Back.

[9] I.e., Kotzebue wanted to blame Goethe for having orchestrated the failure of the celebration, something Weimar society itself was also tending to believe. Back.

[10] Concerning the episode with Kotzebue’s play Die deutschen Kleinstädter, including the letter from his mother Caroline goes on to mention, see supplementary appendix 344.1. Back.

[11] Kotzebue’s title of nobility was attained in 1785, while he was in Russian service. Back.

[11a] See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 11 March 1802 (letter 353), note 8. Back.

[12] “Fräulein Lesbos,” Amalie von Imhoff as the author of “Die Schwestern von Lesbos,” a six-canto verse story of two sisters who love the same man, first published in Schiller’s Musen-Almanach für 1800, 1–182, then separately in Frankfurt in 1801 (see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 21 October 1799 [letter 250], note 13, there also illustrations).

Clemens Brentano portrayed her as the character “Lesbia” in his Satiren und poetische Spiele von Maria. Erstes Bändchen. Gustav Wasa (Leipzig 1800), a parody of August von Kotzebue’s play Gustav Wasa: Ein Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen (Leipzig 1801), which was performed in Weimar on 4, 6 January and 15 March 1800 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 35), and whose final scene Brentano literally incorporates into his own initial pages as a seamless springboard to the satire.

Dorothea Veit writes to Schleiermacher on 16 June 1800 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben; KFSA 25:125–26):

He [Brentano] has written a farce, Gustav Wasa, in which he believes he is the veritable Tieck of Tiecks; but it is enormously stupid and crazy, and yet does sound a bit like Tieck, so much so that the latter is indeed infuriated about the whole thing, which is also why he took him so severely to task in the Journal [Ludwig Tieck, Poetisches Journal (Jena 1800), no. 1, 126–38]. Back.

[13] The allegation is that Goethe “fled” to Jena, “just as he always does whenever he creates such mischief” as was the case with Kotzebue’s derailed celebration for Schiller; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 March 1802 (letter 353), note 11. Back.

[14] I.e., pregnant; Wilhelm Paulus would be born on 3 May 1802, i.e., in just over a month-and-a-half. Caroline later makes unkind remarks regarding the paternity (Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1809: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[15] I.e., the Jewish toll; Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit had been in Dresden since early February 1802 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Concerning this issue and the prospect of Friedrich and Dorothea returning to Jena from Dresden, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), notes 15 and 16. Back.

[16] The family of August Friedrich Karl von Ziegesar, whose daughter, Sylvie von Ziegesar, became Pauline Gotter’s best friend, lived in Drakendorf near Jena. Back.

[17] Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:693, s.v. G. Hufeland, identifies this particular Hufeland as Gottlieb Hufeland rather than Friedrich Hufeland; although Schelling and Caroline were on less than intimate terms with the former editor at this point after Schelling’s and Wilhelm’s break with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in 1799, the Ziegesars or, if such be the pronominal reference, Gries and Möller had no reason to avoid such a visit. Back.

[18] Uncertain allusion to an obviously awkward social gathering (Wiener Damenkalender zum Nutzen u. Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott