Letter 363

• 363. Caroline to Julie Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 15 June 1802

[Jena] 15 June [1802]

I am finally getting around to writing you, my dear child. Although I was heartily pleased to hear from all of you, I was unable to respond as quickly as I would have liked because all sorts of things got in the way that simply fatigued me. We had the Sanders from Berlin, [1] Steffens, [2] an Italian improvisatore, and wondrously beautiful weather on top of it all. [3] And even now, I would certainly prefer simply to chat a bit, since frankly my head seems heavy indeed on my shoulders.

Tiek was also here. [4] From him I learned at least provisionally what I was unable to learn with any degree of certainty from Schlegel, who is perpetually en route somewhere, [5] namely, that sometime during the latter part of the summer the Tieks will be going to Giebichenstein [6] — |332| hence Cecile will probably have to wait, though she certainly will get there eventually. [7] Her enthusiasm is so splendid, it will surely be rewarded with every bit of progress she makes. Tiek told me that Mademoiselle Alberti has also made significant progress and has done some quite commendable portraits of Friedrich Schlegel and Steffens. [8] And she began much later and with less talent than Cecile.

Tiek greatly approves of modeling, asking only that it be done after heads from antiquity, that is, after casts of such heads from antiquity. [8a] It is not really advisable to go to Dresden in the autumn, since all access to the arts is cut off during the winter; but I will no doubt be able to relate more specific information concerning that very soon.

Tiek is now in Weimar to perform the work in the castle. [9] Goethe was here, and I spoke at considerable length with him. [10] He has built a theater in Lauchstädt, finished a prologue here, and will have all the most eminent plays performed there one after the other, including Alarcos, which I unfortunately missed in the hope there would be a second performance in Weimar. [11]

Friedrich did still manage to attend the performance himself, after which he immediately climbed into a carriage and hastened off to France, where he intends to get married in the republican fashion. [12] Under Robespierre, being drowned in the Loire River was referred to as noces republicaines, and I would gladly grant such a wedding to half that couple. [13]

. . . You asked about what we are busying ourselves with. The answer is quite simple. Surely you are not one of those people who believe it imperative that I, too, must also at least travel to Paris, are you? Madam Veit made considerable enquiries specifically about that. Why should I not instead simply remain quietly and peacefully here? It is certainly possible that I may be going to some mineral-springs spa and genuinely be doing a bit of traveling, but it is by no means certain yet and I confess I am not particularly yearning to do so. [14]

Although my mother was doing quite |333| poorly for a time, she is now somewhat better, [15] though poor Luise is doing rather ill because of it amid her own circumstances. To wit, she will be giving birth sometime next month. [16] She had a bit of cheer when Wiedemann was appointed professor at the maternity clinic and received an additional allowance of 300 rh. [17] Emma sent me a knitted herbal pillow for my swollen cheeks, the dear little creature . . .

Because I would like to answer both you and your mother at the same time, let me report further that I visited Madam Iffland and she me but that I otherwise saw nothing more of them, and Iffland not at all except on stage. [18] The entire society whose company I kept is, after all, to be reckoned among his archenemies, and although Schlegel is on courteous terms with him, [19] Iffland would probably be quite eager to do him considerable harm if he did not fear him. [20] The Kleinstädter by Kotzebue was performed just before Ion with all the so-called insinuating or offensive remarks that Goethe had deleted but which truth be told are quite harmless. [21] Although the play is a paragon of dullness, it is not so terribly bad, — if such characteristics are not mutually exclusive — in Kotzebue himself they certainly unite on occasion.

Madam Iffland is uglier than ever but as sensible as usual. They have a beautiful house with the customary sandy Berlin surroundings. [22] Every day I thank my stars that I am back here.

Madam Unzelmann is a treasure and is the most charming, proper woman in Berlin; we get along quite well indeed. I dined with her together with Schlegel and Schelling after the performance of Ion on the next-to-last evening. [23] Quast loves her unswervingly, and she is smart enough to remain unswervingly loyal to him. [24]

Give my heartfelt regards to the Chanoinesse if she is still with you all, and do not think that her wimple, which I admittedly |334| can never forget, might have robbed me of any of the respect and love of which she is so worthy.

Please write me again very soon, my dear Julchen. I embrace all of you. Pauline, I hope, will have a satisfactory mail day this time.

Stay well, all of you!

Caroline S.


[1] Friedrich Tieck writes to his sister, Sophie Bernhardi, on this same day (letter 363a) that Caroline and Schelling had triumphed insofar as Madam Sander had been treated quite ill in Jena, not only by Goethe, but by everyone. See supplementary appendix 314.1. Back.

[2] Concerning Steffens’s itinerary, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 31 May 1801 (letter 319), note 18, and on 22 June 1801 (letter 322), notes 17 and 18. Back.

[3] The Italian improvisatore Pietro Scotes had arrived in Jena on 5 June 1802. Schelling writes to Goethe in Jena on 6 June 1802 (Goethe und die Romantik 1:223; Fuhrmans 2:408; Goethe was in Jena between 5 and 11 June 1802 [Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:57–58]):

The Italian improvisatore, Herr Scotes, about whom I recently had the honor of speaking to you in Weimar, has been here since yesterday and was intending to go to Weimar when he heard you had arrived here. He ardently requests the privilege of calling on you; hence if it is possible for you to see him today or tomorrow, might I request that you kindly specify the time at which such might be most convenient for you. . . .

6 June 1802


Concerning Pietro Scotes’s performances in Weimar and Gotha (in the former at just the same time Caroline is here writing, namely, 15, 16 June 1802), see supplementary appendix 363.1. Back.

[4] See Friedrich Tieck’s letter to his sister, Sophie Bernhardi, on this same day (letter 363a), in which he mentions that he traveled to Weimar (where he would be working) by way of Jena simply because of the postal route (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


He also mentions that Caroline and Schelling seemed to be up to some sort of malicious plan with respect to Caroline and Wilhelm’s divorce, and that he, Friedrich Tieck, had eaten at midday there once simply because he felt he had to.

Since Tieck remarks that he arrived in Weimar on Saturday evening, 12 June 1802, after traveling there by way of Jena (because of the postal route and schedule; his letter is in any case misdated), it seems he dined with Caroline either on Saturday at midday, 12 July 1802 (during a layover in Jena?), or had returned to Jena from Weimar on Sunday or Monday, 13 or 14 June 1802.

The chronology is admittedly confusing and uncertain. Goethe does not note in his diary for this period that he met with Tieck, though he does note (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:58) that he returned from Drakendorf to Jena on 12 June 1802 and from there continued on to Weimar. Back.

[5] Wilhelm had only arrived back in Berlin on 13 June 1802; see the timeline in the editorial notes to his letter to Caroline on 17 May 1802 (letter 359). Back.

[6] Although it is difficult to determine whether the Tiecks went to Giebichenstein first, during the coming autumn they would in any case be going to Ziebingen (modern Cybinka in Poland) ca. 25 km southeast of Frankfurt an der Oder at the invitation of Wilhelm von Burgsdorf, at whose country estate they would reside (the estate house burned down in 1973) (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland [1804]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):


Tieck would fall in love there with one of the daughters of Burgsdorff’s uncle, Count Friedrich Ludwig Karl Finck von Finckenstein, whose estate, Madlitz, was located northwest of Frankfurt an der Oder (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 15):


Here the Ziebingen estate on an early postcard:


The Madlitz estate ca. 1860 (Die ländlichen Wohnsitze, Schlösser und Residenzen der ritterschaftlichen Grundbesitzer in der preussischen Monarchie: nebst den königlichen Familien-, Haus-Fideicommiss-Schatull-Gütern in naturgetreuen, künstlerisch ausgeführten, farbigen Darstellungen; nebst begleitendem Text, ed. Alexander Duncker, 16 vols. [Berlin 1857/83], vol. 1):



[7] Namely, wait to go to Dresden for further training in portraiture; the family of Ludwig Tieck was currently residing in Dresden.

Concerning Cecile’s (Cäcilie’s) prospects for training, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in March 1802 (letter 355), note 6, also the cross reference there to Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker in Dresden back on 21 January 1802 (letter 342a). See esp. the pertinent section in Julie Gotter’s letter to Cäcilie on 14 December 1801 (letter 335d.1). Back.

[8] Portraits seemingly not extant. Maria Alberti does, however, seem to have done a portrait (albeit allegedly unsuccessful) of Auguste; see Sophie Tischbein’s letter to Caroline on 28 August 1800 (letter 267), note 2. Back.

[8a] Göttingisches Taschenbuch zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1802; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Here the Weimar actress Corona Schröter doing just such a study from a cast, albeit not from antiquity (Wilhelm Hegeler, Tiefurt [Weimar 1913], 13):



[9] In connection with the Weimar castle construction after the fire that had severely damaged it on 6 May 1774 and, literally, decades of painstakingly slow work getting it ready for the royal family again (albeit not until August 1803), Tieck had been commissioned to execute the bas-reliefs in the staircase in the east wing designed by Heinrich Gentz. His three reliefs, in a simple Doric style, adorn the two side walls and the rear wall leading to the salons. Here the staircase with two of Tieck’s pieces visible (early postcard):



[10] As mentioned above, Goethe was in Jena between 5 and 11 June 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:57–58). Back.

[11] There was no second-night performance of Alarcos. See the supplementary appendix on the reactions to Alarcos. — Caroline and Schelling attended the opening of the renovated Lauchstädt theater on 26 June 1802.

Goethe’s new prologue for opening night in Lauchstädt was Was wir bringen. Vorspiel (Tübingen 1802). The Weimar theater company would perform frequently in Lauchstädt between 26 June and 12 August 1802; their offerings included pieces by Goethe himself, Schiller, August von Kotzebue, Iffland, Friedrich Schlegel, Wilhelm Schlegel, Nicolas Dalayrac, Einsiedel, Lessing, and Friedrich Ludwig Schröder. For a sampling of parts of the schedule with which Caroline was familiar, see her letter to Wilhelm in late May, early June 1802 (letter 361), note 2. For the complete schedule, see Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 43–44. Back.

[12] Godefroy Engelmann, Voiture à quatre chevaux avec un postillon (ca. 1800–1830; Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon):


Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit had left Weimar on 30 May 1802 for Paris. Neither they nor Wilhelm Schlegel returned to Jena, and Caroline never saw either Friedrich or Dorothea again (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):


Marriage “in the republican fashion”: The reference is simply to a civil marriage of the sort introduced during the French Revolution and into the early years of the nineteenth century as opposed to a religious marriage in the Roman Catholic Church as was previously customary in France, though see below.

It may be remembered that Dorothea Veit had not yet converted to Christianity and neither she nor Friedrich had yet converted to Roman Catholicism. Such civil marriages were conducted by a civil magistrate (Pierre François Legrand, Mariage républicain [Paris 1794]; Collection Michel Hennin; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



[13] Fr., “republican nuptials,” during which two persons, one of each sex, were tied together, exposed in a boat, and then drowned. Here in illustrations based on the current conception of such executions during the mass drownings in Nantes, located on the Loire River, on the orders of Jean Baptiste Carrier. Although 4000 people allegedly died, some scholars today are skeptical about the, strictly speaking, undocumented details of these executions.

That said, because Caroline was obviously familiar with the contemporary understanding of these executions, possibly even through, e.g., the second illustration below (from 1801) or a similar one, she is doubtless referring to this conception, false though it may have been (illustrations: [1] anonymous artist, A Nantes sous la Terreur en 1793–1794 — Les mariages républicains, ordonné par Carrier; [2] Taschenbuch für die neuste [sic] Geschichte 7 [1801]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




[14] Schelling had written to his father on 28 May 1802 (letter 361a) about the possibility of Caroline traveling with him to Württemberg, not only to visit Schelling’s parents in Murrhardt but also because “she has need of a mineral-springs spa, and would have access to such in Württemberg” (W. Wurm, Das Königliche Bad Teinach: Mineralbad und Wasserheilanstalt im Würtembergischen Schwarzwalde, 4th ed. [Vienna 1878], illustration following p. 80):


They did not make the trip until the following summer, when Schelling’s father also married them in Murrhardt. Back.

[15] Caroline’s mother, who was living with Caroline’s sister, Luise, in Braunschweig at the time, had apparently been quite ill, something attested by a letter from Luise that Wilhelm had forwarded on to Caroline earlier from Berlin (Leipzig Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1794; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


See Caroline’s letter to him on 18 March 1802 (letter 356) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[16] Minna Wiedemann was born on the evening of 11 August 1802 in Braunschweig. Back.

[17] See the biography of Wiedemann by his grandson:

Soon after Wiedemann had returned in the autumn of 1801 [from France and Jena, where he picked up Luise and Emma], the accoucheur in Braunschweig, Hofrath Sommer, died; Wiedemann took over his position, whereupon his income also increased.

Sommer had died on 22 February 1802. Wiedemann was thereafter appointed professor of obstetrics at the College of Anatomy and Surgery and also privy councilor at the court of the Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg. Back.

[18] Luise Gotter had long hoped Iffland would be interested in acquiring some of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s posthumous plays for performance in Berlin, and Caroline had been trying for several years to bring about some movement on that front. See among other letters that to Luise on 5 October 1799 (letter 246), esp. with cross references in note 12. Back.

[19] Wilhelm was interested not least in having his play Ion. Ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803) performed again, as well as other plays Wilhelm might compose in the future along with pieces by Shakespeare in Wilhelm’s (and Caroline’s) translations. See esp. Ella Horn’s essay on the background to the premiere of Hamlet in Berlin. Back.

[20] Viz., because of Wilhelm’s not undeserved reputation for satire, e.g., with his piece against August von Kotzebue, what Caroline referred to as Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Back.

[21] Kotzebue’s anti-Romantic play Die deutschen Kleinstädter (Leipzig 1803) had been performed in Berlin on 28 April 1802. Concerning the scandal esp. with Goethe in Weimar, see supplementary appendix 344.1. Back.

[22] Concerning the Ifflands’ house in Berlin, see Ella Horn’s essay on the background to the performance of Hamlet in Berlin, note 69. Back.

[23] Although strictly speaking Caroline’s next-to-last evening in Berlin was Monday, 17 May 1802, after the two performances of Ion on Saturday and Sunday, 15, 16 May 1802, the implication seems to be that the dinner took place after the performance itself of Ion, which would have been on the evening of Sunday, 16 May.

It in any case presumably took place at the home of the Unzelmanns at Französische Strasse 47 (representative illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, scene from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady [1784]):


Here Caroline’s residence at the top left, Lindenstrasse 66 (Unter den Linden), the Unzelmanns’ at bottom right (D. G. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826])



[24] Friederike Unzelmann, of course, was married at the time.

Concerning her relationship with Wolf Friedrich Quast:

Friederike Unzelmann became closely acquainted with the talented young Friedrich Gubitz in Berlin on 12 July 1809, who had previously seen her only on stage. The occasion was the dedication of a mineral spring near Berlin that a Berlin relative of hers had bought and renamed.

There she had urged Gubitz, against his better judgment, to dance with a local village girl who had asked him to dance but whom he had refused because of his fear of becoming dizzy and falling. He did become dizzy and faint, and Friederike, feeling guilty for having egged him on, took him home in her carriage. They later became close friends, and she spoke quite openly with him about her earlier life. Once such conversation went as follows (Friedrich Gubitz, Erlebnisse: Nach Erinnerungen und Aufzeichnungen, 2 vols. [Berlin 1868], 1:211–13):

What I have related here will demonstrate that I did indeed learn various things on occasion about her earlier social experiences, in connection with which she often added a word of warning. During one intimate conversation I once asked, “Will you forgive me for asking an immodest question?” She answered, “Certainly, out with it!” And I told her the following story:

“I could not have been older than fifteen, was still a Gymnasium student in Wittenberg and had walked to Berlin during the break to visit my parents [Gubitz, writing much later in life, is mistaken concerning the date; he was fifteen in 1801, when the following event could not yet have happened]. I had previously seen you but a couple of times on stage from the gallery, and now early one morning I was going to the Tiergarten because I wanted to spend the entire day working on my wood carving.

Along the way between Kemper’s Hof [a tavern on the south edge of the Tiergarten near the Potsdamer Gate] and the Charlottenburg Chaussée [to the north, dissecting the Tiergarten east-west from the Brandenburg Gate],

[Berlin, 1832 (Geographische Anstalt des Bibliographischen Instituts zu Hildburghausen 1832):]


I saw a mounted officer, and next to his horse a woman in a brilliant white morning dress; she was holding the reins tightly, entreating and adjuring the rider” –

[Title vignette from Quast’s book on dressage, Das Reitpferd. Dargestellt und durch 23 Kupfertafeln erläutert (Berlin 1809)]


“That was me!” she interrupted me abruptly. “Oh, how I remember this terrible event, I will never forget it!” And tears immediately broke forth, and she hid her face against the sofa; I, embarrassed, now quickly asked for forgiveness.

“No, no, it is quite alright,” she said, adding after briefly hesitating:

“The man was Herr von Quast, and I freely admit that he was my only love, the only love that completely overwhelmed me. At the time — I had a summer apartment in the Tiergarten — he martyred me with jealousy wholly without reason; alas! he was merely using it as a way to break with me. My first intimation of this came upon me that morning, I was beside myself, and in my despair I could think of nothing but to hold him back!” —

I later received proof that this confession, on which I will dwell no further, had to be true. That particular officer, whom I never saw, died suddenly after falling from his horse, [1812] and for weeks one could hardly even speak with Madame Bethmann [Friederike Unzelmann married Heinrich Bethmann in 1805].

(Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, (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 lxii):



During the first few days she simply could not stop weeping, and I must say to her husband’s credit that he quite understood how to comport himself both prudently and sympathetically with respect to the entire episode.

The following information comes from a personal communication from Sabine Schierhoff: The “morning dress” (morning outfit, negligé) corresponded less to our modern understanding of morning clothing, or certainly sleepwear, than to a casual and yet still fashionable piece of clothing a woman might wear during the hours prior to midday. Such pieces could nonetheless certainly be fashionably chic and quite flattering. These chemises were generally made of muslin or light linen under which the woman might wear an undergarment for warmth or even fleece hosiery.

These pieces fit comfortably, were easy to put on, and yet still provided for a fashionable appearance. They were, however, as the name suggests, worn exclusively during the morning hours at home or at most during short walks outside the house, e.g., in the garden or to the bathhouse. Although a modern observer might not immediately notice the difference between morning dresses and conventional daywear, at the time they were immediately recognizable — as Gubitz’s remarks above attest — as morning wear.

See “Modenbericht . . . Kupfertafel 17: Eine Dame in einem bequemen und eleganten Morgen- oder Badeanzug,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 18 (1803), June, p. 342:

Fashion Reports
Plate 17: A Lady in a comfortable and elegant morning or spa outfit

On the following plate you will find a comfortable morning outfit. It consists of a skirt of muslin, bound with a ribbon beneath the breast, and adorned with muslin down the front and around to the back. A muslin scarf with an embroidered rim, positioned on top of the head in the fashion of a turban, completes this modest and yet pleasing ensemble.


These outfits, of course, as fashionable as they well may have been in a more domestic or resort (mineral-springs spa) setting, were not normally worn on a public thoroughfare, as was the case in the scene Gubitz is here recounting, nor certainly by a woman seizing the reins of a horse in order to plead with the rider.

Compare in any case representative illustrations from 1781–82, i.e., some twenty years earlier (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Habillemens Caractheristiques [1782]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.525; DChodowiecki AB 3.416):




Translation © 2016 Doug Stott