Letter 380b

380b. Therese Huber to Therese Forster in Colombier, Switzerland: La Floride bei Stuttgart, between 17 and 25 July 1803 [*]

[La Floride bei Stuttgart, between 17 and 25 July 1803] [1]

. . . So, let us move along, since I have the leisure today to speak to you about Madame Schelling, alias Schlegel, alias Boehmer, [2] under which name you knew her in Mainz. [3] To give you an adequate picture of this memorable woman, one must go back quite far; but since Henry Reuter will be taking this letter along with him, there is no reason that it not become boldly corpulent. [4]

Caroline Michaelis was my neighbor, my contemporary, and the only girl I saw during my earliest childhood. From age 8 till 15, chance separated us. [5] Then we became close friends. My parents opposed in principle any intimate liaison between persons of my age, and precisely that opposition made our friendship especially attractive, even though it never tempted me into acting against the wishes of my mother, or without her knowledge.

I opposed it openly, but not ostentatiously, and my mother, engaging her authority as a woman of wit and learning sparingly, and exercising it with the weakness that invariably allies itself with injustice and poor reasoning in a character as sweet and generous as that of my mother — so my mother tried to turn me away from that friendship without directly opposing it.

From that age till this very day, Caroline has always been keen both to love and to harm me. She constantly competed with me, though without our individual personalities, which are totally different, ever inspiring any hesitation of choice on the part of others — and unfortunately, I was always preferred where she positioned herself for a collision with me. [6]

And yet despite all that, I am sure she has tender feelings for me, her spirit loves me, and her heart respects me (thus the ambiguity — but examine it, and you will find that it is indeed the truth). I suit her better than any other person she knows among her sex with respect to intellect, and my actions have never been able to inspire anything but admiration in her — she has more spirit and intellect than I, and thus was her intellect able to love me, but — she is not good, hence her heart has always been capable only of respecting me, and the effect these contradictions have produced is hatred. [6a]

Finally, your father, Forster, arrived in Germany when I was 14 years old, and the interest his voyage aroused, and his strange, foreign quality, made him the object of general curiosity. [7] He singled me out during his stay in Göttingen, and from that time on Caroline imagined that he might marry me and did everything she could to rob me of that conquest, which was absolutely nothing more than an imaginary one.

At the same time, she also put it in my head that I was in love with him, which she did not long succeed in doing; for I feared such romantic notions. And soon I was surrounded by admirers more impressive than he, who was not around me and did not single me out any more, since I did not see him but 3 or 4 times between the ages of 14 and 19. [8]

Despite that, Caroline persisted in believing us engaged, especially when she and I became less intimate for other reasons. — As early as Forster’s first stay, she had already tried to attract him to herself, and she succeeded just as did all the women who were around him, for precisely that was his weakness. [9] Finally she devised to have an anonymous letter sent to me that was as absurd as it was insulting and that succeeded in causing us, Forster and me, to have a falling out.

Because we were not united in any case, the goal was not attained, and shortly thereafter a young monsieur, the lover of one of her lady friends, [10] thought it a good idea to steal the complete correspondence of these young ladies, in which he found the letters from Caroline revealing her entire plan with respect to that earlier anonymous letter and its intent, and he handed them over to my uncle Blumenbach. [11]

I avow that her letters and the manner in which this young man, the most perfect rapscallion, expressed himself vis-à-vis my uncle concerning that which involved me in this villainous intrigue in no way impugned my honor. Our good Blumenbach was enraged to see me the target of such malice on the part of these demoiselles and wanted to take vengeance. I was content to have that same anonymous letter sent to him somewhere — to Braunschweig, I believe —

Afterward he had it sent back to Caroline with no sign of it ever having been in my hands. You can easily imagine her surprise on seeing her pretty letter again after it having been gone for 7 months. —

So, that was but one of her productions, of which she played a great many on me, though I never retaliated; such has never been part of my character, proud as I was, busy, and content with everything around me. I have never known envy or malevolence.

Caroline was 20, I 19, when she married Doctor Böhmer, a poor, good man, the brother of the girlfriend mentioned above, confidante of their intrigues, which were astonishing and bold, he often victim of their thoughtlessness, and finally her spouse. She informed me of her marriage, and I was delighted at the news with my absurd sensitivity, so much so that several years later she confided in me that she had been quite embarrassed at the frank and naive expression of interest in her fate I had expressed.

A year later, when I was 20, I myself married. [12] Three years later, I returned from Poland, and a bit thereafter she became a widow with two children, pregnant with the third, her household quite disrupted, and with no fortune, the parents on both sides still living. [13] She settled in with her mother, gave birth there, and lost her last son a short time thereafter. [14]

After that time, she lived philosophically according to her imagination, quite loosely, platonically libertine, a sentimental egoist, while yet maintaining external appearances. Schlegel was pursuing his studies in Göttingen at this time and fell in love with her; he declared such to her, and she assured him — while holding him in an embrace — that she could never be anything but his sister, [15] her love being engaged with a certain Monsieur Tatter, tutor to the English princes. —

Schlegel did not have to be told twice, and yet addressed the loveliest verses to her, quite ardent, and remained her brother. About 18 months after the death of her husband, she settled in Marburg with one of her brothers, and it was from there that she came and paid me that visit in Mainz that you may still remember, accompanied by her daughter and one of her sisters. [16]

Two years or so later, she came and settled permanently in Mainz. [17] You will ask whether it was I who drew her there, whether we were close friends? Neither the one nor the other. I have never been intimate with any woman in such a way that one might confide secrets, a sort of intimacy of the heart, as it were — never, since the age of 17 — my mother alone spoke to me about things concerning which I never spoke with any other person. There was one woman apart from my mother whom I passionately loved — and I believe that was especially because I had made so many sacrifices for her — death took her away from me a year before my marriage; [18] but in all my other relations with those of my own sex, there has never been any confidence of the heart — I always had but few secrets in any case, and never solicited the help of others. [19]

When Caroline asked our opinion about her emigration to Mainz, I never saw it as anything other than gaining some pleasant company. Your father was of the same opinion, and my own activity was content in helping increase the objects of his solicitude. So finally she came to Mainz.

There was hardly a day when she was not at our house, and although I soon became aware of her intimacy with Monsieur Forster, I found no fault in it. [20] The esteem, the trust of your excellent father could never be in question for me, and the pleasure Caroline accorded him was not in my power — none of that ever gave me a moment’s concern.

At the end of 1792, I left Mainz with you, [21] and from that point on, up to Forster’s departure for Paris at the end of March 1793, I fear we have reason to reproach him for conduct that was less than delicate in every respect. [22]

Forster went to Paris, and Caroline, together with 4 other women and children, set out to return to the state of Hannover in order to avoid the disasters with which the Mainz revolution was threatening them on the left bank, and in their homeland, Saxony, where it appeared they had been declared rebels. [23]

Caroline’s behavior during this journey was inconceivably imprudent — beginning with her choosing the route to Mannheim. Having hardly arrived at Oppenheim, she (the 4 women and 3 children traveling with her) found themselves surrounded by retreating Frenchmen and in the next instant facing the first troops of the advancing Prussians. They fled on foot, their luggage was seized, and had a French captain not taken them in, they themselves would have fallen into enemy hands. [24]

Returning to Mainz, they procured the means necessary for crossing the Rhine at Kastel and for proceeding directly to Frankfurt. [25] Had they pressed their march and proceeded onward behind the armies without stopping in Frankfurt, they would have made it to their homeland without any obstacles. Instead, Caroline’s anger prompted her to take the stage each time an officer passed, and to address several Hessians she had known in Marburg. In Frankfurt she obliged the women to wait while she paid some visits. —

Forster’s friends advised her to set out again, and finally they told her they thought she was in danger. [26] — But she persisted, all the others refused to see what was going on, and on the third day the whole group, women as well as children, were arrested and taken to the fortress at Königstein, where they stayed for 3 months, and for 3 more they were under limited arrest in a nearby village. [27]

After just a short while in that prison, which was so distressful for all those unfortunate people who, having been identified as Jacobins, had lost their human rights, Caroline sensed that she was with child. — There was never any doubt that it was by a young French officer, Crancé, nephew of the Crancé often mentioned during the revolution — she, at least, maintained that this young, 18-year-old man was the father of her child. [27a]

What a situation! In a state prison, surrounded by the military, subjected to daily interrogations by a commission composed of Mainz residents who were earlier our neighbors, agents of the party opposed to the revolutionaries, paid by the prince elector — and in addition to the shame and misery, also personally hated and despised [28] — by her companions, whom she alone had dragged into this abyss of misfortune — for these women and children would never have attracted the attention of the Prussians, or the Frankfurt residents; it was she who was recognized and decried. [29]

She communicated letters to us, or rather to Huber, that she wrote to Schlegel during this time, who at the time had an advantageous position in Amsterdam. She asked him for the means to be freed from prison before the term of the sixth month of her pregnancy, or, that lacking, for poison, that through death she might avoid shame. Those letters are remarkable [30] — everything they contain in the way of beauty, courage — one forgets the character of the person and sees only the beautiful style, the beautiful sentiments. Schlegel left his post, his fortune, and arrived at just the moment when the King of Prussia, at the request of Mademoiselle Bethmann, freed her. [31]

He took Caroline and her daughter, Auguste, under his protection, accompanying her then to a village near Leipzig, secured all the conveniences for her, and went afterward to Braunschweig to give her time to carry her pregnancy to term. [32] She gave birth to a little boy, whom Crancé’s uncle acknowledged and for whom he paid her a large pension, — and his expenditures thereafter, combined with the fact that, as she mentioned to us, the uncle in question offered her the hand of his nephew, which she refused, all suggests to me that she received a considerable sum from that family. [33]

After giving birth, she, too, removed to Braunschweig, while her little Crançé, who was being cared for in the village, was, if not ignored, at least not certified, and died at the end of 6 months, [34] and a short while thereafter, at the same time, she married Schlegel publicly [35] — it is from this moment that his literary reputation dates.

The Schlegels are contra everyone alive, and everyone who has lived, including Euripides, whom Schlegel called pathetic Euripides [36] — published in his works — Wieland, Schiller, KlopstockKant, Racine — and everyone else are mere schoolboys — Dante, Ariosto, Shakespeare, Calderon, Goethe, Hans Sachs, all the older Germans [37] — their own present genre alone has good sense — in a word, it is a benediction! — Caroline herself wrote, shouted, and insulted. [38]

After marrying Schlegel, she had renewed her correspondence with Huber. Her letters were quite interesting, and she provided literary news he could not otherwise get in Switzerland, and though she manifested a grudge toward me tempered by respect, our good papa dismissed it, and although that did displease me without vexing me, the correspondence continued until — about two years ago. [39]

Huber had been solicited at the time by a literary journal, and he accepted, with zeal and a consciousness of the necessity, the commission to review several works by the Schlegels (there are two brothers). [40] Huber alerted them, also of the necessity for critical comments. — I believe I am as impartial as possible, and Huber’s opinion was the same as that of all people of taste, good sense, and morals — And now it was Caroline who responded to a letter addressed to her husband! [41]

And what a response!!! Huber parried with modesty, kindness, mildness. [42]

A short while thereafter, a second critique was published, [43] and a letter arrived from Caroline surpassing, however, everything that outraged vanity, and a forgetfulness of all the dignity of our sex, can dictate. [44] To me, that letter seemed like one of the most remarkable things. Huber returned it to her accompanied by these few words — “I believe, my dear Caroline, it will be unpleasant for you to know that this letter is in my hands.” [45]

The good people were not satisfied. Schlegel, her husband, now took up his quill as well, with considerably less insolence than his wife, declaring in the meantime that he approved of her comportment, and offering to Huber to return to him the latter’s letter; and as for himself, he would be responding publicly to his critique. [46]

So it was there that their correspondence came to an end. [47] At approximately the same time, a certain Master Schelling, son of a prelate in the state of Württemberg, [48] appeared in Jena, where Schlegel was a professor, [49] and set himself up as the antagonist of, or rather as the one who would complete and surpass Kant, as a philosopher of nature, and these messieurs are twin brothers as aestheticians, poets, and physicians of the Brunonian system. [50]

It is not within my power to explain the how and what, but the fact itself is certain, and quite unusual. — Schelling, actually an extremely profound intellect, is a physician, and judges poets, and similarly the rest; so Schelling is a deep thinker, but his arrogance, his fury, his brutality as an homme de lettres is quite inconceivable. In one of his writings, he said that he considers the critiques of his adversaries as nothing but “turnips,” adversaries he regards to be nothing more than “dead dogs” etc. [50a]

This same Schelling introduces himself at the house of Monsieur Schlegel, becomes an intellectual intimate there, quickly becomes passionately attracted toward Madam, and she toward him, then sleeps with her, then lives with her while Monsieur Schlegel goes to Berlin, then the two ask for a divorce and receive it. [51] Schelling, 11 years younger, marries Madam Schlegel and, 5 weeks ago, takes her along to his father, a Württemberg prelate in Murrhardt, where she takes control of everyone there, or rather, comes to dominate them, and then goes to Cannstadt to take the waters. [52]

After all that, you can imagine that I was interested, moved, intrigued by her arrival in our vicinity. —

I speak about it only in fun, though the moment was serious, and the memories quite weighty indeed. During Madame Unzelmann’s stay, Papa returned from the theater one day and told me he had been sitting in the row directly in front of Madam Schlegel, or rather Schelling, and her last husband, or rather current husband — they visibly recognized each other, but did not speak. [53]

The next day, I went to see Madam Unzelmann, who came out to meet me and cried out — “Ah, why did you not arrive a few minutes sooner! Madam Schelling was here, she longs to see you, she says that she feels she dare not hope to be received at your place, that the wrongs are too grievous, that she cannot renounce seeing at least your children, whom she will have sought out” — Much would need to be said here to explain my reactions. —

I am happy, esteemed, loved, I am blessed with children, with servants who respect me — and all that is the fruit of my strength of spirit to surmount obstacles, endure setbacks, for fortune has never spoiled me — Caroline has none of that — neither friendship, nor respect, nor children, nor the kind of pride that bestows merit — and she acted in enmity — A quarter hour later, I was with her, saying to her with a tranquil countenance that since has never yielded except to the kind of gaiety that is quite natural for me in society —

“Caroline, I believed I acted with more kindness in coming to see you — I hope that your fate will be a happy one.” — Her emotions were extreme, the comportment of her husband expressed the respect one develops for someone without being personally acquainted with them. — I remained there but a quarter hour. Since then, we have seen each other again at all the after-dinner affairs. I have never spoken about the past, nor about your excellent father; I comport myself around her the same way I do with everyone. —

She has become wholly a learned woman, a follower. My French taste, the simplicity with which I acknowledge it, the tenacity with which I refuse to enter into any literary disputes, the often sarcastic good humor with which I break off all scholarly conversation, enrages her. I make known a bit my own taste for domestic things, — she scoffs at me and affably mocks me, but then grows impatient at finding me unalterably animated, witty, and a woman in the extreme. — Otherwise she manifests an absolute insensitivity — her heart has been reduced to aesthetics. —

Neither my situation nor my friends nor men nor their troubles nor the sun nor the moon interest her except to the extent one can place them among works of art. She does admire my children, ostentatiously attaching herself to Claire, overwhelming her with gifts, neither blaming nor approving the way I raise my children, nor seeming even to take any note of it. She arrogantly disputes with men, ignores or flatters women in turn.

And Schelling? — Abstraction constitutes his entire scholarly existence; he is the sweetest, simplest, most polite, natural man, tolerating my lightly cavalier way of dealing with philosophy, smiling kind-heartedly, cherishing the children, indeed, becoming a child with them. — Ah, what a mix of qualities the man is!!! —

And Papa Huber? He equivocates for the sake of preserving the peace, and will finish by imposing the firmness with which he will support his truth. Papa Huber is the best, truest, most childlike being. They still believe, even now, that he does not have the courage to oppose their omnipotence, and that sorely vexes me. —

Openly he seems to bend before their superiority, yet on one fine occasion will prove to them as cold-bloodedly as possible that they are pigs and imbeciles, as Marat expressed it within polite memory, or poor, misguided people, as my own heart views it with affliction. [54] Their plan seems to be to settle permanently in this state. The family of the husband is respected, and I think Schelling will ultimately become a professor in Tübingen. [55]

Well, that was a long story! Will you be able to read it all the way to the end? . . .

Claire spent two days in Ludwigsburg with Madame Schelling — she adamantly asked such of me, but I refused her quite seriously. [56] . . .


[*] Sources: Ludwig Geiger, Dichter und Frauen. Abhandlungen und Mitteilungen (Berlin 1899), 85–94; Therese Huber Briefe 1:420–25. Back.

[1] Therese Huber and her family were spending 10–25 July 1803 at the estate of Karl Ludwig Heigelin (1776–1804), chancellery attorney in Stuttgart and owner of the estate La Floride in Fasanenhof due south of Stuttgart, an area today incorporated into Stuttgart itself (final map in Oberamt Stuttgart, Amt, vol. 28 of Beschreibung des Königreichs Württemberg, ed. Königliches topographsiches Bureau [Stuttgart 1851]):


In 1730, Duke Eberhard Ludwig von Württemberg (1676–1733) established a pheasant farm at the location, whence the name Fasanenhof (ibid.):


In 1783 Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg and his (at the time) mistress Countess Franziska of Hohenheim built a summer residence there, albeit a simple two-story house, to which later the duke’s brother added a temple to Flora and garden around an artificial lake, whence the name La Floride for the residence and property (ibid., 150). Heigelin acquired the property in 1799 (1799 illustration of the lake and temple by Viktor Heideloff):


Columbier is located just west of Neuchâtel (Neufchâtel below) on Lake Neuchâtel, where Therese and Ludwig Ferdinand Huber spent time following the events in Mainz in 1792–93 (Daniel de la Feuille, Caarte, van Neufchatel et Valangin [1706; reissue 1747]):


Therese and Ludwig Ferdinand Huber would then spend three days with the Schelling family in Murrhardt; see Therese’s letter to Therese Forster on 3 September 1803 (letter 380h). Back.

[2] In order: Schelling, Wilhelm Schlegel, Franz Wilhelm Böhmer. Back.

[3] Caroline and Auguste lived in Mainz between late February 1792 and 30 March 1793. See, also concerning what follows, Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s period in Mainz. Back.

[4] Ludwig Heinrich Friedrich Reitter (Reuter) (1789–after 1820), the son of one of Therese Huber’s neighbors in Stuttgart, was being sent to a boarding school in Switzerland (Therese Huber Briefe 1:823). Back.

[5] The family of Christian Gottlob Heyne lived at Papendiek 16, just around the corner from the Michaelis family at Prinzenstrasse 21 (Plan der Stadt Goettingen wie solche im Monath December A° 1760… bloquirt und eingeschlossenworden [n.p. 1760]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):


In the illustration below: to the left with the staircase, the Michaelis house; to the right directly behind the bridge, the Heynes’ garden house; and to its left, just visible behind the elongated wing of the university museum and laboratory, part of the Heynes’ house (Friedrich Besemann [1830]; Städtisches Museum Göttingen):


Therese Heyne, who was born in May 1764, i.e., not quite a year after Caroline, would have been 8 years old in 1772, Caroline 9.

Although Brigitte Rossbeck, Zum Trotz glücklich: Caroline Schlegel-Schelling und die romantische Lebenskunst (Munich 2008), 24, maintains that Caroline left for Gotha at Easter 1772, problems remain, since Luise Wiedemann maintains that Caroline left for Gotha when she, Caroline, was 14, i.e., 1777, though problems attach to that dating as well (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


In any event, Therese was in a boarding school in Hannover from March/April 1777 till Easter 1778. Caroline similarly seems to have spent two years in Gotha.

Concerning the dating problems, see Luise Wiedemann’s chapter on Caroline in her memoirs, note 1. Therese would have turned 15 in May 1779, which leaves a considerable period of separation of the two unaccounted for unless Therese is simply referring to a period when they were not socializing in Göttingen itself (Goettinger Taschen Calender vom Jahr 1784; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] Der Zauber des Orpheus für Freunde der Musik und Dichtkunst: Ein Almanach für 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[6a] König. Gros-Britt. Genealogischer Kalender auf das Jahr 1784; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[7] See Caroline’s letter to Julie von Studnitz on 31 January 1779 (letter 5), note 1. Back.

[8] Therese Heyne first made Georg Forster’s acquaintance during his first stay in Göttingen (21 December 1778–4 January 1779) (Göttinger Taschen Calender Für das Iahr 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning the other side of the story: Georg Forster later wrote to Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring on 17 June 1784 (Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring, 75; Georg Forsters Werke. Sämtliche Schriften, Tagebücher, Briefe, ed. Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, vol. 14: Briefe 1784–Juni 1787 [Berlin 1978], 101):

Therese once wrote me, among other things, that she had already been extremely interested in me five years ago, the first time I was in Göttingen, and that her most intimate girlfriend at the time, precisely this Caroline Michaelis, allegedly quite vehemently encouraged her to love me, something she did indeed do for two years with enthusiasm, but without perceiving any love in return from my part. Back.

[9] See Caroline’s letter to Julie von Studnitz on 31 January 1779 (letter 5), esp. with note 2 (Goettinger Taschen Calender für das Jahr 1791; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Therese’s other admirers seem to have included Peter Koskull, Gebhart von der Schulenburg, and Franz von Wrede (Der Zauber des Orpheus für Freunde der Musik und Dichtkunst: Ein Almanach für 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning a risqué escapade involving these students, Therese, and Caroline, see Therese’s letter to Luise Mejer on 1 March 1783 (letter 35a). Back.

[10] Presumably Friedrich Johann Lorenz Meyer, who along with his love interest, Caroline’s close friend Friederike Böhmer also played a role in the escapade mentioned above; Therese mentions her later in this letter as well. Back.

[11] Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was married to Therese’s stepmother’s sister, Louise, née Brandes. Blumenbach himself was once romantically interested in Caroline. See Caroline’s letter to Luise Stieler on 4 September 1778 (letter 1). Back.

[12] Therese was born on 7 May 1764 and married Georg Forster on 4 September 1785, hence was 21 when she married. Back.

[13] Franz Wilhelm Böhmer died on 5 February 1788, leaving Caroline behind with her children Auguste, Therese, and pregnant with Johann Franz Wilhelm.

Caroline’s own parents, Johann David and Louise Michaelis, were both still alive, as were her deceased husband’s parents, Georg Ludwig and Henriette Philippine Elisabeth Böhmer. Both sets of parents were still in Göttingen. Back.

[14] Caroline left Clausthal for the last time during the autumn of 1788 at latest. Back.

[15] Frontispiece to L. F. Huber (=Therese Huber herself), Die Familie Seldorf: Eine Geschichte, vol. 1 (Tübingen 1795):



[16] In April, May, or June (“spring”) 1790, Caroline, Auguste, and Lotte visited Therese and Georg Forster in Mainz (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Caroline and Auguste seem to have returned to Marburg in the late spring of 1791, Lotte to Göttingen in early October 1790, though this chronology is uncertain. Back.

[17] Caroline and Auguste moved to Mainz in late February 1792. Here an illustration of Mainz ca. 1806, essentially as Caroline and Auguste experienced it (E. Klebe, Reise auf dem Rhein, durch die Teutschen Rheinländer und durch die französischen Departements des Donnersbergs, des Rheins und der Mosel, etc [Frankfurt 1806], plate preceding p. 41):



[18] Concerning Therese’s relationship with Auguste Schneider and the latter’s death in Gotha, see supplementary appendix 143.1. Recent research suggests that the relationship, just as Therese here implies, may well have been romantic.

On the other hand, contrary to her asseverations here, Therese seems indeed to have had an intimate relationship, viz., that of a confidante, with another woman, namely, Luise Mejer. See Susanne T. Kord, “Eternal Love or Sentimental Discourse? Gender Dissonance and Women’s Passionate ‘Friendships,'” in Outing Goethe and His Age, ed. Alice A. Kuzniar (1996), 228–49, here esp. 271. Back.

[19] As noted above, this statement is not entirely true; concerning the relationship with Luise Mejer, who was eighteen years Therese’s senior, see esp., and in general, Petra Wulbusch, Therese Huber und Emil von Herder: Zum Geschlechterdiskurs um 1800, Untersuchungen zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte 124 (Tübingen 2005), 89. Back.

[20] Concerning the location and proximity of the two households in Mainz, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 20 April 1792 (letter 112), note 6. Back.

[21] Therese left Georg Forster and Mainz for Strasbourg on 7 December 1792 with her daughters, Therese and Claire. Ludwig Ferdinand Huber joined them in Switzerland in late June 1793. See the second paragraph of Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 17 December 1792 (letter 119), also with note 5. Back.

[22] The implication, one regnant at the time elsewhere as well, was that Caroline was Forster’s lover. See Caroline’s own explanation in her letter to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 16 May 1793 (letter 127).

The issue is directly addressed in the anonymous play The Mainz Clubbists in Königstein. Caroline was, moreover, further implicated in other illicit relationships in Mainz. See esp. Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 3 April 1793 (letter 121c). Back.

[23] Caroline was a subject of the Elector of Hannover in Lower Saxony and was trying to get to Gotha, where she might stay with the family of Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise Gotter (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


As a result of the events in which she was involved in Mainz — genuine and alleged —, she was eventually be proscribed in Göttingen (see letter/document 146).

Concerning Caroline’s traveling companions, see Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s letter to Therese’s father, Christian Gottlob Heyne, on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d), esp. with note 7.

Concerning the route the party tried to take out of Mainz, which Therese goes on to discuss, see note 6 there. Back.

[24] Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch (Augsburg 1795):


This incident with the French captain and the return to Mainz, although not otherwise attested, is nonetheless of interest biographically. Oppenheim is located ca. 18 km south of Mainz (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration in 1834: William Tombleson, Ober Rhein, vol. 2 [London 1834], plate preceding p. 35):




[25] Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch (Augsburg 1795):


Concerning Kastell, see Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s letter to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d), note 3. Back.

[26] See Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring’s letter to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d):

I am really quite sorry that the oh-so-clever Göttingen ladies were unwilling to follow my serious advice and leave immediately after the hearing, their names being simply too detested here, humiliating attestations of which, after all, they themselves certainly experienced insofar as they could hardly find lodging and even the waiter declined to serve them coffee.

Also on 8 April 1793 (letter 121e):

“What do they intend to do to us, what have we done?” was their response when I told them they should set out on foot were it not otherwise possible and leave what was for them an extremely dangerous place, a place where the names Böhmer and Wedekind elicited such vehement hatred.

Caroline, with her last name “Böhmer,” was unfortunately also mistaken for the wife of her brother-in-law Georg Wilhelm Böhmer, who had indeed served as secretary to the leader of the French army of occupation in Mainz, General Adam Philippe de Custine. Therese in any case seems largely to have gotten her information here from Sömmerring; see his letters to her father on 6, 8, 13 April 1793 (letters 121d, 121e, 121f). Back.

[27] Caroline and Auguste were incarcerated in Königstein on 8 April 1793, then put under house arrest in Kronenberg (Kronberg) between 14 June and 11 (13) July 1793. Here Königstein on a postcard from ca. 1900:



[27a] Jean-Baptiste Dubois de Crancé was nineteen at the time of his relationship with Caroline. The episode in question occurred in connection with an exuberant “ball of freedom and equality” intended as a celebration for all the residents of Mainz after the planting of a “freeedom tree” (Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Graphische Sammlung, Inventar-Nr. HB 28023, Kapsel 1328a; Aufnahme-Nr. GNM HB 28023/1328a; Microfiche-Scan mi08284a04; Aufn.-Datum: 1986; 00035960 [©Foto Marburg]):



[28] See the letter above from Sömmerring to Christian Gottlob Heyne about the inability of Caroline and her companions even to be served a cup of coffee. Back.

[29] In his letter to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 6 April 1793 (letter 121d), Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring remarks that

Although the latter three [Caroline and her two companions, Meta Liebeskind and her mother, Madam Wedekind] were trying to get to Göttingen and Gotha by way of Frankfurt, it was Madam Böhmer’s fault they were put under guard in Hattersheim and then brought here. I saw her both before and after the hearing, where to me she seemed to behave in a quite unwomanly fashion. Back.

[30] None seem to have survived. Back.

[31] It was through Sophie Bethmann that Philipp Michaelis was able to secure access to Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia in securing Caroline’s release from prison in July 1793 (see Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Wilhelm and Luise Gotter on 13 July 1793 [letter 131], note 1, and Luise Wiedemann’s account in her Erinnerungen, pp. 81–82). Back.

[32] Wilhelm returned to Amsterdam rather than to Braunschweig, where he did not join Caroline until the summer of 1795. Back.

[33] The “uncle in question” was François Ignace d’Oyré rather than the politician mentioned above. Caroline mentions in her letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 10 May 1794 (letter 144) that she had corresponded with the former, whom, as she also mentions, she had known before (Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1807; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


In her letter to Meyer on 30–31 August 1794 (letter 147), she relates having seen d’Oyré in Gotha, whom she even calls “my uncle.” Back.

[34] Julius Krantz (actually: Böhmer) died on 20 April 1795 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Totes Kind [1774–75]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [1-56]):


See the documentation in Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s period in Lucka.

Perhaps Therese is intentionally skipping over Caroline and Auguste’s time in Gotha, or is unaware of it (unlikely).

From Lucka they journeyed on ca. 4 February 1794 first to Leipzig, then to Gotha. After finally deciding against a move to Dresden (where Caroline had been proscribed in any case), they moved instead to Braunschweig in early April 1795. By 16 April 1795 they were living with Caroline’s mother and sister Luise while Wilhelm remained in Amsterdam ([1] J. Walch, Neueste Post-Karte von Deutschland und dessen angrenzenden Laendern [Augsburg 1813]; [2] W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):




[35] See Wilhelm’s letter to Georg Joachim Göschen on 24 June 1796 (letter 163h), note 3. Back.

[36] See Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures, 2:371, on Euripides’s play Electra:

Euripides’s play is a rare example of poetic non-reason. . . . His intentions in any case prevent the play from being a tragedy, and instead turn it into a family drama in the modern meaning of the word. The effects with Electra’s neediness, e.g., are pathetic. All the preparations for the deed are extraordinarily frivolous; and immediately after the deed, the deed itself is quickly extinguished by means of this sickly remorse, not to speak of the blasphemy against the oracle. etc. Back.

[37] This assertion is not entirely true for all these writers with the exception perhaps of Schiller, whom at least in Athenaeum the Schlegels simply never mention and with whom their relationship had been tense esp. since Friedrich Schlegel’s falling out with him. Most of the other writers Therese here mentions figure largely positively in the Schlegels’ understanding of literary and poetic history, not least in Athenaeum. Back.

[38] Caroline’s writing, if not her shouts and insults, included her contributions to Wilhelm and Caroline’s translation of Shakespeare, her literary reviews, including for Athenaeum, and proofreading of the brothers’ publications.

As for delighting in literary feuds, and despite Caroline’s undeniable quips and barbs about various writers or various works, Wilhelm wrote to Ludwig Tieck on 16 August 1799 (letter 243b) precisely about Caroline’s “anxiety” concerning the consequences of the often harshly satirical “Litterarischer Reichsanzeiger” (illustration: Toiletten Kalender für Frauenzimmer 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

Friedrich reports that the “Litterarischer Reichsanzeiger” has caused a sensational stir in Berlin and that its insulted opponents have already raised considerable cries of zetermordio [bloody murder] against it. Caroline is plagued by such anxiety concerning the consequences that she has not yet dared even to look at it, and wherever she sees it lying around, even from afar, she immediately covers her head with her hands.




[39] In her letter to Luise Gotter on 10 February 1796 (letter 162), Caroline mentions having answered a letter from Huber on 27 June 1796 (letter 164); Huber similarly answers Caroline concerning a review in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung of Schiller’s periodical Die Horen. Otherwise no other correspondence between Caroline and Huber from that period is known. Back.

[40] The Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung had commissioned Ludwig Ferdinand Huber to review Athenaeum (supplementary appendix 256.1) and then Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde (supplementary appendix 256.2). Back.

[41] Caroline’s letter to Huber on 22 November 1799 (letter 256). Back.

[42] No such letter is known, nor does Caroline mention one. Back.

[43] Therese is presumably thinking of Huber’s review of Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde (supplementary appendix 256.2) and has accordingly gotten the sequences of events confused. Caroline’s first letter to Huber, that on 22 November 1799 (letter 256) was written before she had read Huber’s review of Athenaeum, the second, on 24 November 1799 (letter 257), after the review had actually appeared (see Caroline’s letter to Huber on 22 November 1799 [letter 256], note 2). Huber’s review of Lucinde, however, did not appear until Wednesday, 7 May 1800. Back.

[44] Therese is presumably referring to Caroline’s second letter to Huber mentioned above, on 24 November 1799 (letter 257). Back.

[45] Huber wrote to Wilhelm Schlegel on 9 January 1800 (letter 258d):

I am too gallant to say that a letter from a lady is unworthy of being sent back to its owner [Caroline’s letter of 24–27 November 1799 (letter 257), which Huber had returned; see Wilhelm’s letter to Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a)]; I am too honest to demand such return explicitly; hence let me merely repeat what I wrote in case Caroline would not perhaps prefer to have it.

As Wilhelm related to Huber in his letter to him on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a),

she has absolutely no reservations knowing that letter to be in your hands. indeed quite to the contrary had entrusted it to you for any and all appropriate use, she was certainly prepared to resend it to you for such purposes should you request as much. Back.

[46] Wilhelm did not; in his letter to Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a), he told Huber that “we cannot acknowledge you as our opponent and thus will not be responding to your review,” then goes on to explain that, basically, Huber did not understand enough of Athenaeum to warrant a genuine scholarly response. Back.

[47] Huber responded to Wilhelm’s letter of 28 December 1799 (letter 258a) with letters on 9/11 and 16 January 1800 (letters 258d, 258h). Back.

[48] In the circle of Swabia. Back.

[49] Both Wilhelm and Schelling became professors in Jena (extraordinarius rather than full professors) during the summer of 1798. Back.

[50] Both Wilhelm and Schelling lectured on aesthetics (or the philosophy of art) in Jena (and Wilhelm in Berlin); both composed poetry, though Wilhelm was clearly the more prolific and adroit; but only Schelling beaome a student of the Brunonian method of John Brown. Back.

[50a] See Schelling’s remarks in his “Benehmen des Obscurantismus gegen die Naturphilosophie,” Neue Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 1 (1802), 161–88, here 176 (“The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature”), in which he remarks that though his adversaries are doubtless

the crudest people, they nonetheless believe themselves to possess both taste and judgment, and notwithstanding the only activity now remaining for them is that of gossip, they nonetheless consider themselves to constitute good society and the educated public. If one tells them that they have long ceased living in the contemporary world, they believe such a statement cannot really be meant seriously. If one assures them that they are in all seriousness to be reckoned as rabble, they find it absolutely incomprehensible. If, finally, one swears to them that they are viewed as nothing more than dead dogs, they, again, are utterly unable to comprehend this as a true statement, but rather only as barbaric behavior. Back.

[51] Wilhelm did not depart for Berlin (from Braunschweig rather than Jena) until February 1801 after leaving Jena for Bamberg back in July 1800 after Auguste’s death: (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

Braunschweig_Berlin_Jena_ map

He and Caroline were granted their divorce on 17 May 1803 (see documents/letters 371 and 377g). Back.

[52] Schelling and Caroline were not yet married when they arrived at Schelling’s parents’ home in Murrhardt on 30 May 1803; it was Schelling’s father who married them there on 26 June 1803. Back.

[53] Friederike Unzelmann performed in Stuttgart between 3 and 10 June 1803. Concerning her performance in Schiller’s Maria Stuart. Ein Trauerspiel (Tübingen 1801) on 10 June 1803, and Caroline’s version of this encounter with Huber, as well as her meeting with Therese, about which Therese goes on to speak here, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380). Back.

[54] Therese Huber Briefe 1:741, similarly is unable to locate the precise source of this allusion to Marat. Later accounts, however, consistently attest that Marat was well known for using contemptuous epithets for his adversaries in heated discussions during the French revolutionary conventions, two of the most famous and oft-cited being precisely those Therese here adduces; similar accounts were obviously circulating at the time Therese is here writing. Back.

[55] Schelling accepted a position in Würzburg during the coming autumn of 1803. Back.

[56] Claire Forster was fourteen years old at the time (Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen u Vergnügen für das Jahr 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


The French in the final sentence is ambiguous, since it is not entirely clear just what Therese was refusing Caroline or Claire, or whether Caroline was also asking Therese herself to come.

Ludwigsburg is located just northeast of Stuttgart (map: Trigonometrische Carte von Schwaben, zur Übersicht der Berechnungen, auf welche sich die neuen Carten gründen [Dillingen 1802]; Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, 19Cg/107; illustration: frontispiece to Beschreibung des Oberamts Ludwigsburg, ed. Königlich statistisch-topographisches Bureau [Stuttgart 1859]):



Therese Huber Briefe 1:741, situates this visit in Ludwigsburg at the home of Friedrich Wilhelm and Henriette von Hoven, albeit with reference only to Erich Schmidt’s notes, (1913), 2:643 (not 1:643 as in Therese Huber Briefe). See also Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380), note 25.

Henriette von Hoven writes to Charlotte Schiller on 14 February 1803 that Schelling’s parents, “relatives and valued friends of ours, have announced their son for a visit to us, during which she will probably come along as well,” and on 2 July 1803 that “Schelling will almost certainly bring her here, and he himself has let us know that he plans to visit.”

Henriette von Hoven does later suggest in a letter to Charlotte Schiller from Würzburg on 4 April 1804 (letter 383a) that Caroline may have visited them personally in Ludwigsburg, Henriette von Hoven remarking that Caroline “had already begun casting her net toward Hoven in Ludwigsburg.” Though Claire Forster may well have been present at such a visit with Caroline, no extant documentation attests such directly. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott