Letter 372

• 372. Caroline to Julie Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 17 October 1802

[Jena] Sunday, 17 October [1802]

|345| I was just so relieved to hear of your successful transit, since the frightfully stormy weather genuinely had made me a bit uncertain about it. [1]

In any event, things here have calmed down again, and I have just returned home from a long walk after having become completely outfitted for these autumnal drives myself, for what did I find on my return from Weimar [2] but an exquisite topcoat of the finest casimir fumée de Londres. [3] The Richters and Loders paid me a visit the next day and brought similar ones along from Vienna, a town with which Madam Loder was quite well pleased. [4]

|346| I was indeed unable to do much in the way of entertaining you, in part because, as all of you well know, my household is no longer really set up to accommodate such things, and in part because I was occupied with something else at that time. The enclosed document [5] will tell you what it was without my having to say anything more about it, which I would prefer to avoid having to do in person just as I am now doing in writing. Nor can one really say anything in front of honest, upright people about the full extent of the infamy involved, at least not voluntarily.

The general disinclination and disgust I inevitably cannot but feel with regard to such things protects me against the particular way in which it might indeed otherwise weaken me. All of you no doubt also saw that although I was indeed occupied, it did not make me feel melancholy or defeated. Regardless of what the consequences of this squabble may be, all of you can rest assured that my child and I are beyond the reach of these disgusting abominations, or rather, that I am with my child, in heaven and only in this accidental form yet on earth. [6]

Nor will they have any success even with the more earthly things they might undertake.

Let me say yet one thing about how this maliciously spread tale was set in motion in the first place. [7] Yes, it was precisely Schelling’s zeal and the fact that he was simply beside himself with fear at the mere possibility of danger that did make him impetuous and which did, as Markus put it, incite the spa women in Boklet, among whom the surgeon must also be reckoned, against him.

But such has often been my fate, namely, to be surrounded by ill-fated wickedness, in this case the half-lunatic Madam Paulus along with her despicable companion, both of whom arrived shortly afterward and, driven by the venomous spite she harbors against Schelling and me, immediately could not but seize on what was originally merely a completely foolish piece of gossip and start circulating it. [8]

|347| There is nothing more common than such finger-pointing when a death elicits interest for one reason or another. And indeed, this is not even the first time I myself have had to experience it. For when my Therese died in Marburg, the town leveled an accusation against my brother, who was just as innocent, but which brought him to such a point of despair at the time that I truly had my hands full trying to console him.

But I must say that, given the circumstances applicable here now, only the most disgraceful malice is capable of wanting to inflict such harm. — But just as this is the first time I have mentioned this matter, so also will it be the last. —

Let me entreat you to have these enclosures taken care of by a manservant or by some other reliable person.

Is the Chanoinesse still there? Only if she specifically asks for it is the text to be given to her to read, and then also only with that which I myself have written here, similarly also with Minchen.

My warmest regards to your mother. May God bless all of you and protect you from such horrors. Although my own path has often led me directly through such, it is merely an external lot, and when one day it is time for me finally to close my eyes, it will be with a soul that in its innermost reaches is both peaceful and calm.

Cecile should definitely not neglect to go ahead and make her arrangements for the summer. [9]


[1] This statement and the next paragraph suggest that Julie Gotter and presumably her mother, Luise (Caroline refers to them in the plural), and possibly her sister, Cäcilie, paid Caroline at least a short visit in Jena from their home in Gotha (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; anonymous nineteenth-century engraving of travelers — coincidentally: apparently similarly a mother with three daughters — encountering such problems with the weather):




[2] The reason for Caroline’s visit is unknown, though given the reference to the visit by the Richters and Loders on the day after her return, the visit seems to have taken place before 15 October 1802. In his letter to Wilhelm Schlegel back on 20 May 1803 (letter 378), however, Schelling remarks that

we also spent several days in Weimar, Caroline primarily to direct the execution of the memorial and bust of Auguste, which through Tieck’s patience and considerable skill has succeeded to a degree one could hardly have hoped for.

Caroline may still have been going over to Weimar for this purpose. Back.

[3] Possibly a gift or ordered by Caroline herself.

Fumée de Londres, Fr., “London smoke,” a bluish- or rust-gray color, a bit lighter than black. In the late eighteenth century, “the discerning public also delighted in colour names with pungently negative associations,” including “Fumée de Londres” (William Jervis Jones, German Colour Terms: A study in their historical evolution from earliest times to the present [Amsterdam, Philadelphia 2013], 143). This expression appears as early as the 1780s and is still found in the 1830s. A similar expression was cheminée de Londres, a dark, chimney-brick reddish gray.

This casimir (casimere) material was spun from wool in England, as contrasted with cashmere from cashmere goats in the Himalayas. Concerning casimir at the time in approximately this color, see the second swatch below in the Journal für Fabrik, Manufaktur, Handlung, Kunst und Mode (1800) 18 (January–July 1800), plate following p. 258 (cordial communication from Sabine Schierhoff):

Sample swatches:

No. 1: New, printed cotton linen patterned after the fashion of cotton head and neck scarves, manufactured in England, for ladies’ clothes, furniture, etc. . . .

2. Pressed striped English casimir for clothes . . .


Here an illustration of such a casimir overcoat from November 1800 in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden (November 1800), 618, from a letter dated 20 October 1800:


The accompanying description reads as follows:

On the other hand, perhaps during this foggy month you would find it more comfortable to don the garment depicted in plate 32 that I herewith send along to you, and which the ladies in Amsterdam allegedly initially wore for patriotic reasons.

Here you see a young lady in a “trench runner” (Schanzelooper) [i.e., not extending all the way to the ground] made out of dark linen or casimir with a three-part collar, the upper part of which is overlaid with black velvet, the other two (lower) with velvet ribbon. The upper velvet collar folds freely up or down depending on whether one desires more or less covering and protection from the cold. Three to four buttons make it easy to overlap and close up this comfortable winter garment beneath the breast.

To protect the head at least somewhat from drafts and cold, our young lady is also wearing an English straw hat with a broad white ribbon knotted with a bow. A white ribbon beneath the chin is tied in a bow on the left. A lace cravat covers the neck, and a small, colorful silk scarf the breast.

Doubtless a most comfortable and healthy autumnal attire! Back.

[4] The Richters were presumably relatives of Justus Christian Loder’s wife, Luise, née Richter; here Vienna’s location in relation to Weimar/Jena and Berlin (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 xlv):



[5] Wilhelm Schlegel’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[6] W. Jury, Frau im Sonnenuntergang (ca. 1800); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1/ 1219:



[7] Viz., the insinuation that Schelling bore at least partial responsibility for Auguste’s death in Bocklet in July 1800. Back.

[8] Here Caroline explicitly accuses Karoline Paulus and Dorothea Veit of having spread the rumor, during their visit in Bocklet in July–August 1801, insinuating that Schelling was at least in part responsible for Auguste’s death (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 July 1801 [letter 327], also with note 12 there)

Here a satirically illustrated gossip-mongering — Fr., médisant — tea-circle at the time (“Ein Thé — médisant,” 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):


Wilhelm Schlegel, by bringing this accusation up in a letter to Dorothea after Caroline’s death, provokes a pointed response from Dorothea along with additional details not only about Dorothea’s stay in Bocklet, but also about Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s less than loyal behavior concerning a letter Caroline allegedly wrote him at the time.

See Dorothea’s letter to Wilhelm of 16 January 1810 (letter 453a). Back.

[9] For studying art in Dresden, though such did not happen. Caroline had gone to considerable effort trying to secure her a situation in Dresden making this study possible. See Caroline’s letter to Cecile late June 1802 (letter 366), note 1. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott