Letter 379

• 379. Caroline to Luise Wiedemann in Braunschweig: Murrhardt, 5 June 1803

Murhardt Prelature, 5 June [18]03

|363| Greetings to you from this distant and peaceful region, my dear Luise, where I arrived quite successfully and without the slightest incident, and where I have also been received in so cordial and splendid a fashion that it defies all description. [1]

I was en route for but 9 days even though I spent two full days in Bamberg and one in Würzburg, the latter of which is but a two-day journey from here. [2]

This town is situated at the foot of the mountain range, one not at all so wild, separating Franconia and Swabia, amid a setting that is not only even more charming than we had anticipated, nor even merely charming alone, but rather positively charmingly agreeable, situated in a broad valley between various hills and brooks. [3] The little town was rebuilt after a fire, [4] while the parsonage itself is located outside town, the house handsomely constructed, with a large, inviting courtyard in front as well as gardens, lakes, and the forest behind; [5] beyond the lake, on a small hill, there stands a pilgrimage chapel from olden times. [6]

To these lifeless, though certainly quite lively scenes, one can then add the good inhabitants themselves, Schelling’s venerable father and his warm and friendly mother, his sister, and the two brothers Carl and August, in all of whom the Schellingian spirit stirs in varying nuances, each having a quite clearly defined personality and character. [7] Although Beate would be extremely pretty were she not so strong, this feature is |364| probably not something that could have been avoided given this wealth of God’s gifts and her balanced, healthy activity.

I have been here for a week now and have become completely acclimated. I am not, however, yet really able to reflect adequately on the status of things outside this consecrated area here. The resolute outbreak of war will in all likelihood thwart our trip to Italy, which admittedly will be a great loss insofar as I was viewing it not only as a more earthly reward, but also as something of inestimable importance for Schelling. [8] But, of course, I am resigned to whatever may happen. Nor is all hope necessarily futile that a quick resolution to hostilities might yet be found. [9]

Your area, [10] however, is probably being plagued by renewed rumors of war, and the Hannoverians perhaps with more than mere rumors, though I still have my doubts in this regard. [11] Please do write and tell me what you know; indeed, I so yearn for any news from all of you. As I wrote earlier, [12] you can address your letters to Herr Professor Schelling in Murrhardt, via Studtgardt, to be given to the Murrhardt messenger.

I will be traveling to Studtgard this week. Madam Unzelmann is there and will be performing, and I must see and speak with this diminutive woman. [13] What are all of you up to? The story about the baron has already slipped from my memory, though I did manage successfully to spirit 2 bottles of Tokay here for the prelate. [14]

Bamberg is the most charming place I know simply as far as location is concerned; I would love to live there, where Auguste, too, was so indescribably happy. Marcus is full of activity and is absolutely serious about establishing something quite proper for the country with regard to medicine. Kilian was appointed second physician of the hospital in Bamberg and proprietor of the medical board. [15]

The most significant development, however, seems to involve Würzburg because of |365| the considerable fonds there. [16] The location there is more restricted than Bamberg, but still, sitting between vineyards and on the Mayn River as it does, handsome enough. [17] All these states, by the way, are still being reorganized under the new government, and elements of satisfaction and dissatisfaction are emerging in increasing proximity just now. [18] Please give my regards to Mother. The elder Schelling has already shown me several letters from our father, who must have thought a great deal of him. [19] Give my kisses to the children. I brought Emma’s doll along with me here. [20]

We are having enormous fun with Carl. The lads (as they say here) [21] traveled miles by horseback to meet us en route, [22] and everyone in town ran to their doors and windows when we drove up to the prelature. [23]


[1] Schelling’s father had become prelate in Murrhardt on the Murr River in the SwabianFranconian forest in Württemberg in 1801 after having been dean in Schorndorf since 1791. Murrhardt is located ca. 50 km northeast of Stuttgart and ca. 365 km from Jena (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 23):


Here Murrhardt ca. 1850, water color by Pieter Francis Peters, with the multi-story parsonage visible to the right of the large Church of St. Januarius (Württembergische Landesbibliothek, catalogue 379840278, Graphische Sammlungen Württembergica, Signatur Schef.qt.5385c):


With respect to Caroline’s warm reception by Schelling’s family, see Schelling’s earlier introductory description of Caroline to his parents on 28 May 1802 (letter 361a) (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Ihre Freudenbezeugungen waren rührend [1787]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [5-369]):


Because Caroline’s remarks in this letter constitute one of her rare rhapsodic reactions to landscape beauty, several in part similar illustrations and descriptions of Murrhardt are included in the annotations below for comparison. Back.

[2] Concerning the route Caroline and Schelling took between Jena and Murrhardt, see Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s letter to Hans Christian Örsted on 22 May 1803 (letter 378b), note 1. Back.

[3] On 11 July 1796 (letter 165), Caroline remarked the following concerning her first glimpse of Jena:

The fresh air got rid of my headache. Schlegel was afraid the rock cliffs at the entrance to the town might frighten me off. But I only paid attention to what is good and pleasant about the place and have already become quite good friends with this romantic valley.

Compare here the anonymous entry on “Murrhardt,” Beschreibung des Oberamts Backnang, ed. Königliches statistisch-topographisches Bureau (Stuttgart 1871), 215–262, here 215–17, 229:

The rare charm and gracious serenity characterizing the area around Murrhardt fills the wanderer with sublime peace, and is doubtless most beautiful in this sense when one enters the Murr Valley from the east, a valley into which one softly rounded hill after another descends, usually crowned with dark forests and with modest country-house ensembles hidden here and there between fruit trees. Thus does the charming valley stretch out before the traveler until finally joining the Lauter Valley in the far distance, which in its own turn continues deep into the Waldgebirge.

[Here the valley in which Murrhardt is situated, albeit in an approach from the north; Franz Schnorr, Stadt Murrhardt von der Nord-Seite (Stuttgart 1843); Württembergische Landesbibliothek; Graphische Sammlungen; Württembergica, Signatur Schef.fol.5382:]


But one’s view over the sturdy town toward the east is also quite handsome, toward which the quiet valley forests converge like a fan, with steep hills between; opulent gardens and fruit orchards surround the town, while the monastery buildings and the Gothic church with its dual towers rise up venerably within it, and as a special adornment at the southwest end of town, on a gentle, green hillock, the comely Walderich Church. —

It is especially beautiful here in the spring [when Caroline was arriving], when, bright green, oaks and beech trees shimmer through the dark fir forests, and everywhere cheerful brooks from the Murr River, fringed with radiant alders, hasten through flowered meadows. . . . Until 32 years ago [1839], the town still had 3 lakes, including the monastery lake behind the prelature, of which only the large Lake Walderich southwest of town is still extant; in case of fire, the latter can be opened and allowed to flow through the town streets. . . .

The town burned almost to the ground in 1765, and during its reconstruction acquired a regular layout; hence most of the houses come from the period immediately following the fire, are usually of medium size, and in part still attest a rural appearance; there are no particularly large or beautiful private houses. Back.

[4] “Murrhardt,” Beschreibung des Oberamts Backnang, 244 (representative illustration: J. E. Gailer, Neuer Orbis Pictus für die Jugend oder Schauplatz der Natur, der Kunst und des Menschenlebens, 5th ed. [Reutlingen 1842], no. 283):

On 24 August 1765, the entire town with all the buildings within the circle of the town wall, 119 houses and 34 barns, was transformed into a heap of ashes in 5 hours, whereby in the house in which the fire had started because of a lack of caution, five children were consumed by the flames.


Only the old and new abbeys, the monastery church, and the granary along with 4 monastery barns were spared. A special fire and construction deputation was formed, a collection taken up in the territory, and the town rebuilt according to the plan of the architect Gross. Back.

[5] “Murrhardt,” Beschreibung des Oberamts Backnang, 227, 217:

Other public buildings worthy of mention include the town parsonage located across from the domicile of the district forest warden at the southwest corner of the town, known as the earlier prelature or new abbey, a well-maintained, two-story building built anew in 1770; to its south one finds the previously mentioned Witch’s Tower . . . Of the former towers along the 5-meter-wide town hall, which once had a raised gallery, only part of the Witch’s Tower is still extant at the southwest corner of town; the vaulted Witch’s Dungeon is located in its lowermost floor.

Here the parsonage with the Witch’s Tower to its right and the spires of St. Januarius to its left, where Schelling’s father performed the marriage ceremony for Caroline and Schelling on 26 June 1803 (early postcard):


Here the church itself in an early anonymous photograph:



[6] “Murrhardt,” Beschreibung des Oberamts Backnang, 225:

The Walderich Church stands on a beautiful green hill to the southwest of the town, on which according to legend Saint Walderich’s cell was located, built on the site of an ancient, small Romanic church, which in its own turn was perhaps erected on the ruins of a Roman temple. The year of its construction, 1489, is carved in splendid lettering above the three pointed doors.

Here the Walterich Church ca. 1820 on the hill to the right of the parsonage and churh of St. Januarius (Württembergische Landesbibliothek; Katalog 379764911; Graphische Sammlungen; Württembergica Signatur Schef.qt.5380; also visible in the illustrations above; second illustration: late-nineteenth-century postcard):



Recent excavations have confirmed the presence of Walterich’s grave, albeit in a plundered condition. Back.

[7] See the editorial note to Auguste’s letter to Schelling on 4/5 June 1800 (letter 261) concerning the death in 1800 of Schelling’s younger, third brother, Gottlieb Schelling. Caroline mentions his death again in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 16 September 1803 (letter 381) in connection with Schelling’s mother’s disinclination to see Caroline and Schelling travel to Italy, where she had already lost a son recently. Back.

[8] Concerning the war and its influence on Caroline and Schelling’s anticipated journey to Italy, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 April 1803 (letter 377b), note 1. Back.

[9] A quick resolution was not forthcoming, and in the meantime Schelling had in any case taken a position in Würzburg. Regrettably, their trip to Italy never materialized. Back.

[10] Braunschweig. Back.

[11] Hannover was in worse shape than Caroline suspected; concerning the involvement of Hannover in the resumption of war between England and France, see supplementary appendix 379.1. Back.

[12] Unfortunately, this letter seems not to be extant. Back.

[13] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380). Caroline had, however, already made Friederike Unzelmann’s acquaintance the year before in Berlin and had quite enjoyed her company; indeed, on 16 (17?) May 1802, Caroline, Wilhelm, and Schelling had dined with Friederike Unzelmann presumably at the Unzelmann’s residence at Französische Strasse 47 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, scene from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady [1784]):



[14] After a cordial acquaintance between Schelling and Karl von Podmanitzky, differences seem to have developed; see Schelling’s letter to Johanna Frommann on ca. 20/21 May 1803 (letter 378a).

That notwithstanding, Podmanitzky apparently stocked Caroline’s cellar quite generously with Hungarian Tokay wine. See her letters to Julie Gotter on 29 November 1802 (letter 373) and on 2 January 1803 (letter 374); and Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 7 January 1803 (letter 374b). Back.

[15] Caroline seems to be citing Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 30 April 1803 (letter 377c), in which Marcus had remarked that “I intend to elevate the medical institutions in Franconia to a point hitherto unknown in Germany.” Marcus also mentions Konrad Joseph Kilian in that letter. Back.

[16] Fr., “funding, financing.” Back.

[17] Here Würzburg in 1648 by Mattäus Merian, Herbipolis. Würtzburg. Gesamtansicht von Norden, vom Steinberg aus, colorized copper engraving (1648):



[18] The more conservatively Catholic territories of Bamberg and Würzburg were passing to Bavaria, which, though also Catholic, was especially in its administration influenced by Enlightenment principles. See Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 30 April 1803 (letter 377c), note 3. Back.

[19] As a scholar of middle eastern and oriental studies himself, Schelling’s father, Joseph Friedrich Schelling, had enjoyed a professional connection with Johann David Michaelis, Caroline’s father. Back.

[20] Uncertain reference; possibly a doll Emma Wiedemann had left behind when she, Luise, and her father, Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann, returned to Braunschweig from Jena in early October 1801 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 Vd:


Luise Wiedemann’s other child at the time was Minna Wiedemann. Back.

[21] Germ. Bube, pl. Buben, “boy, lad, stripling, youth.” Back.

[22] See Schelling’s father’s letter to him on 30 May 1803 (letter 368c), note 4. Back.

[23] Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1818: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:

Although not yet married to Schelling, and although almost forty years old, Caroline would, as soon as that was effected later that month (26 June 1803), officially be considered a “daughter” in the family, and her arrival in Murrhardt seems to have been anticipated as such (see Schelling’s father’s letter to Schelling on 30 May 1803 (letter 378c) (Taschenbuch für Hæusliche und Gesellschaftliche Freuden auf das Jahr 1802; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott