Letter 377

• 377. Caroline to Julie Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 21 March 1803 [*]

[Jena] 21 March [1803]

|359| Herr Fromman will be bringing you the Reichsthaler I still owe. Had it been possible, I would have given him myself to bring along as well, but circumstances still prevent me from leaving here just now; [1] hence I did not even get to see the Bride of Messina (about which Fromman himself can give you more information, since he never lacks a healthy opinion concerning such things). [2]

If, as I now doubt not, everything comes about before Easter, [3] I am confident of being able to see all of you in person for a day. I confess I am a bit apprehensive about spending more than a day in Gotha after hearing Podmanitzky’s description; [4] he is back here again and can only throw up his hands in astonishment when recalling his impressions.

Ápropos, [5] did he tell you about the joke we played on him because he was privy to the discovery that my cook has been going to Herr Professor Augusti each evening? —

Something not á proposRose has become a bride. I am leaving her in the hands of a worthy man (pour ainsi dire). [6] She could hardly save herself from all the wooers once people recognized I would not be keeping her on because of the trip. In one instance, a baker almost put her into his oven, but she managed to escape just in time. But now a young man has come along, some sort of |360| construction contractor or master mason: something like Zelter (just not on as large a scale); he has been abroad, is able to do drafting plans, has 40 journeymen working under him, though not in the house itself, owns his own house etc., and his name is Wenzel. It seems she is quite pleased with accepting him. Herr Geist has also given him a good reference, and so, God willing, everything will go well. [7]

. . . We, too, are in danger of suffering a not inconsiderable loss, namely, through Arnemann, whose concurs has now been declared; [8] he has left Göttingen. It will pain me greatly because of my mother. [9]

Your mother is again well, I hope? My warmest regards to all of you, but I must close.



[*] Caroline’s last extant letter from Jena. Back.

[1] The publisher Friedrich Frommann likely had business in Gotha.

As Caroline mentions to Julie Gotter in her letter to her on 18 February 1803 (letter 375), “because I had to get out of making a personal appearance [before the High Consistory] by using the pretext of not feeling well, I cannot leave here.” Back.

[2] Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina oder die feindlichen Brüder. Ein Trauerspiel mit Chören (Tübingen 1803) (the first published edition was accompanied by an excursus on the use of the chorus in tragedy).

The piece, which uses a chorus after the fashion of Greek tragedy and originally had no division into acts, had premiered in the Weimar theater two days earlier, on 19 March 1803 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 46).

Here four nineteenth-century illustrations of scenes from the play (in order: [1] from the editions of Stuttgart 1838 and [2] Vienna 1809; [3] undated, by Johann Baptist Wilhelm Adolf Sonderland; and [4] by Eduard Gerhardt after an illustration by Wilhelm Kaulbach, Stahlstiche zu Schiller’s Werken in Einem Bande nach Zeichnungen von W. Kaulbach [Stuttgart 1840], plate 9):




[3] Namely, the granting of the divorce petition (letter/document 371). Easter fell on 10 April in 1803; the petition was not granted until 17 May. Back.

[4] Karl von Podmanitzky had just visited Gotha; see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 18 February 1803 (letter 375). Schelling and possibly even Caroline were originally to make the journey with him; see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374). Back.

[5] Fr., “with reference to, concerning (something just mentioned).” Back.

[6] Fr., “so to speak.” Back.

[7] Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1805 für edle Weiber und Mädchen, Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Schelling writes to Wilhelm on 20 May 1803 (letter 378): “on the same day we depart [22 May 1803], Rose will be marrying a construction contractor or mason here.” Oddly, on 7 January 1803 (letter 374b) he refers to Goethe’s scribe, Ludwig Geist, as Rose’s “declared lover.”

In any event, the father of Rose’s suitor may have been a certain Johann Carl Wenzel in Jena. See Johann Christian Jacob Spangenberg, Handbuch der in Jena seit beinahe 500 Jahren dahingeschiedenen Gelehrten, Künstler, Studenten und andern bemerkenswerthen Personen (Jena 1819), 9: “Johann Carl Wenzel, H. S. Weimar. Administrator for road construction in Jena. Died at 70 years old on 13 January 1809.”

Masters in guilds (first illustration: masons) generally took care of apprentices and other assistants and were often involved in larger construction projects (second illustration) (“Der Maurer,” from Christoff Weigel, Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an biß auf alle Künstler und Handwercker nach Jedes Ambts- und Beruffs-Verrichtungen meist nach dem Leben gezeichnet und in Kupfer gebracht etc. [Regenspurg 1698], illustration following p. 414; second illustration by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Arbeit an einem Bau von Maurern, Handlangern, Zimmerleuten und Steinmetzen,” from the (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 XXI):




[8] Johann Christoph Adelung The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages, composed chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adelung and of Mr. Schwan, 3 vols. (Leipzig 1796–99), 1:534, s.v. concurs: “a Concourse of the Creditors, to regulate Affairs with an insolvent Debtor.” Back.

[9] Caroline is here referring to a financial loss for the Michaelis family and esp. her mother.

Professor Otto Justus Arnemann had purchased the Michaelis family home in Göttingen at Prinzenstrasse 21 back in 1792, and Caroline mentions ongoing problems with the sale (Arnemann’s failure to pay interest) in her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340); see note 62 there for cross references to earlier letters. Caroline first mentions the sale of the house, which left her without a parental home, in a letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer from Mainz on 29 July 1792 (letter 116).

Caroline is here specifically referencing Arnemann’s move to Hamburg (where he committed suicide on 25 July 1807) after what for him was the vexing appointment of Karl Gustav Himly to a position Arnemann himself was expecting (Himly, incidentally, is also suspected of having committed suicide in 1837) (W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):


Arnemann published the following announcement in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1803) 93 (4 May 1803) 775–76:

Insofar as the appointment in Göttingen of Herr Hofrath Himly, my pupil, has thwarted the fulfillment of my justified and reasonable expectations, I am forced to resign my position and leave Göttingen. Hence I am requesting that all my friends and correspondents, as well as all patients who have previously consulted me, please address all letters to me henceforth to Hamburg.

Hamburg, 17 April 1803
Jungfernstieg no. 26.

Prof. Arnemann Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott