Letter 383

383. Caroline to Julie Gotter in Kassel: Würzburg, 18 March 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 18 March [18]04

|382| As always, my answer comes a little late, dear Julchen. I have actually completely got away from writing, more so than is really proper. I was, moreover, seriously ill at the end of January and beginning of February, when it was the good sense of my family and friends alone — and my own — that kept me from coming down with a serious nervous fever.

Otherwise we are doing quite well; spring is on its way, but since we are situated completely amid vineyards, one does not really notice it as much visually, and we sense it only in the fragrance of the air. There are remarkably few trees in the area here, which is a great disappointment for me. The vineyards and everything connected with them always look rather gray and sad, only afterward becoming a source of merriment, when they transform themselves into liquid gold. [1]

I am sincerely happy to hear that all of you are content and have, it appears, made yourselves quite at home in Cassel. I would be very much interested if Cäcilia could send me something of her work that demonstrates her most recent progress. [2] I wish I could tell you to send Herr Hummel down here with it. Schelling had intended to press you not a little with regard to your very nice recommendation of him; he doubtless would not have given it to you in person either, but be not anxious that we would have viewed it from the wrong perspective. [3] It is just that this time, nothing can be done for the non-local artist.

As chance would have it, an individual has developed here in Würzburg itself, quite unnoticed, who undeniably must be reckoned among the very best of those who today may claim that designation. His name is Martin Wagner, and he won first place in the most recent competition; you can read about it in the artistic program. [4] He is the son of the |383| palace sculptor here, who has likely not done much more in his lifetime than sculpt out coats of arms for the old established nobility; this son is doubtless his most successful work. Goethe wrote Schelling concerning him; he knew nothing about his circumstances and wished only that Schelling might prevent the young man from trying his wings first in Paris.

Unfortunately, that was precisely where he had fluttered away a couple of months earlier, though in the meantime he was so displeased with things there that he is now already on his way to Italy. Schelling proposed his name for the position here, albeit not so that he would immediately occupy it, but rather to provide a means of support for his stay in Italy for several years, something that has indeed been authorized.

Please forgive me for telling you so much about our artist; his work just makes him very interesting, and because I had the opportunity to get to know his entire family as well, I am inclined to take more of a personal interest in him.

Tiek has now sent me the completed bust of Auguste. Although the resemblance is such that anyone can recognize her, it does not really capture her splendor. Had he seen her but once, or had my own words but been able shape the clay. The most beautiful element is missing; he followed the drawings too slavishly and did not remove the elements that Tischbein had incorrectly added to them, as it were the downcast element of the spirit. There is an element of illness about it that rends my heart with memories, and yet I cannot be without it right at my side. [5]

The news you related to me concerning my brother along with his own greetings greatly pleased me; I can recognize my old friend in all of it, including in his embraces. [6] Please write and let me know whether he really is going to Münster; I am inclined to doubt it because I read nothing to that effect in any newspapers. [7]

All of you |384| really should visit him in Marburg. [8] True, he may well not particularly want to hear much about me these days, and the little he does know no doubt put him off in a rather peculiar way; indeed, he made some less than kind statements in that regard to my mother, though I was not angry at him for it. He simply lacks everything that might enable him to judge me fairly. Even my best, closest friends had to make do with guessing. I simply could not talk about it, so I simply put my trust in the fact that God, Schelling, and I knew everything. [9]

Almost everyone is leaving Jena now. A certain Professor Tennemann is going to Marburg. Please tell my brother he probably could have arranged for Schelling to receive an appointment there. An offer like that certainly cannot hurt. [10] We secured a not inconsiderable offer for Wiedemann. [11] Apropos, Luise is, I hope, expecting. [12] — Moreover, a good half dozen professors from Jena are going to Russia, and Monsieur Froriep to Halle. [13] Since. however, the place is now being cleansed of such inferior stuff, one cannot discount the possibility that the ground might indeed bear more beneficial fruits again some day.

At the very least, there is more to hope from such ground than from people who have already borne such inferior fruits. Our good friends from Jena are as treacherous here as they were there, and in particular are extremely envious. [14]

Karl Schelling is now in Vienna and is making very good progress indeed. His letters are splendid.

What is Pauline up to? Is she just roaming about? I really would like to know exactly what all of you are doing these days. If you are unable to acquire any new books, then get books out of the library, old books, travelogues or histories, [15] for a person lives not by bread alone, and the spoken word generally allows so little spirit and intellect to come to the surface |385| that one really must cling to the printed page. I myself read very little, but, then, my companion is a prophet who passes on words to me from the very mouth of God.

All of you please stay very well.

Beate is as white as you but not as blond, but also much more corpulent and considerably shorter. She has beautiful brown eyes. She certainly does not lack for curiosity; she is perhaps a bit further along than you in cooking but behind you in the finer social courtesies. [16]

Again, adieu.

Caroline Schelling


[*] Concerning the presence of the Gotters in Kassel (Cassel), see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 18 February 1803 (letter 375), notes 3 and 4. Back.

[1] Concerning at least one aspect of the wine culture in Würzburg, see Karoline Paulus’s letter to Charlotte Schiller on 11 March 1804 (letter 382e), note 2. The vineyards of the Steinberg referenced in Madam Paulus’s letter along with those beneath the Marienberg fortress across the Main River from Caroline’s apartment do indeed give one the impression of being surrounded by vineyards (Johann Baptist Homann, Accurate Vorstellung der Hoch Furstl. Bischöfl. Residenz und Haupt-Stadt Wurtzburg des Herzogthums Francken . . . [1723]):



[2] Cäcilie Gotter was an aspiring portraitist for whom over the years Caroline had tried to secure proper training. This topic has occupied not inconsiderable space in Caroline’s correspondence with the Gotters and others over the past several years. See, e.g., Caroline’s letter to to Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker on 21 January 1802 (letter 342a), and to Cecile herself in late June 1802 (letter 366), note 1 with cross references. Back.

[3] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[4] See Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 29 November 1803 (letter 381f) with notes 8 and 9. Back.

[5] Concerning drawings other than Tischbein’s color portrait, see Sophie Tischbein’s letter to Caroline on 28 August 1800 (letter 267), note 2.

Schelling seems to have shared Caroline’s sentiments. After her death in 1809, he eventually negotiated with Bertel Thorvaldsen to adapt Friedrich Tieck’s original bust, apparently according to Caroline’s remarks here. To that end, he sent the bust in the gallery on this site to Thorvaldsen in Rome, where the latter eventually did indeed rework the concept.

Unfortunately, not only did the new iteration never make it back to Schelling in Germany, neither did Tieck’s original bust. Instead both ended up in the Copenhagen Thorvaldsen Museum after the sculptor’s death in 1844, where both still reside today as inventory nos. G245 and A703 (photos Thorvaldsen Museum):


See also the gallery on the reproduction of Tieck’s bust. Back.

[6] Caroline was once passionately attached to her half-brother; see letter to Luise Gotter and Minchen Bertuch on 28 May 1784 (letter 41), written after his return to Göttingen from America. The relationship soured over the course of her stay with him in Marburg 1789–91; see in this regard esp. her letter to her mother on 30 July 1791 (letter 104). Back.

[7] Fritz Michaelis remained a professor in Marburg. Back.

[8] Kassel is located not quite 100 km of Marburg, at the time on a direct postal route (as “Mahrburg”; Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[9] The reference is to her divorce from Wilhelm Schlegel and remarriage to Schelling. Back.

[10] A telling statement and request given that Caroline and Schelling had not even been in Würzburg for six months; i.e., both Caroline and Schelling already sensed that things were not going well, and Schelling was already putting out professional feelers elsewhere. Back.

[11] Viz., for a position in Würzburg. In her letter to Luise Gotter on 4 January 1804 (letter 382), she remarks that

I almost had the good fortune of having my sister here. Wiedemann received an appointment, Schelling received the commission, Wiedemann had already decided to go, but the duke managed to keep him there with a generous gesture.

See note 16 there. Back.

[12] She was indeed; unfortunately, Maria Wiedemann, born on 3 September 1804, would not live through 1805, dying before the Wiedemanns moved to Kiel. See Luise Wiedemann’s own memories of the child’s death (Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1811: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet):



[13] Ulrich Rasche, “Umbrüche. Zur Frequenz der Universität Jena im ausgehenden 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert,” in Die Universität Jena: Tradition und Innovation um 1800. Tagung des Sonderforschungsbereichs 482: “Ereignis Weimar-Jena, Kultur um 1800” vom Juni 2000, ed. Gerhard Müller, Klaus Ries, and Paul Ziche (Stuttgart 2001), 79–134, here 132, confirms Caroline’s assertion here in a roundabout way, suggesting that no professors “of note” transferred from Jena to Russia:

Educational reforms were in the air even in distant Russia with the accession to the throne of Alexander I. Although no Jena professors of note received appointments in Russia, Jena did lose the majority of its Baltic students once and for all when the “Baltic state university” in Dorpat (Tartu) reopened in 1802.

It may be pointed out, however, that Johann Baptist Schad did accept an appointment in 1803 from Alexander I at the new (1804) university in Charkow in the Ukraine. Back.

[14] The reference is presumably primarily to H. E. G. and Karoline Paulus. Friedrich Wilhelm and Henriette von Hoven had not come to Würzburg from Jena, but rather from Ludwigsburg: (Trigonometrische Carte von Schwaben, zur Übersicht der Berechnungen, auf welche sich die neuen Carten gründen [Dillingen 1802]; Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, 19Cg/107):


Although Gottlieb and Luise Hufeland had come from Jena, they seem to have kept their distance from the others. Friedrich Immanuel and Rosine Niethammer did not arrive in Würzburg until the autumn of 1804, though Rosine Niethammer soon enough recounts the tension between the families in a letter to Charlotte Schiller on 25 October 1804 (letter 387h). Back.

[15] Caroline is essentially advising the Gotters to secure much the same reading material as did she herself when she felt so isolated in Clausthal during her first marriage. Back.

[16] (1) Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808; (2) “Ein schönes, sehr schönes Kind,” Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen u. Vergnügen für das Jahr 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:




Translation © 2017 Doug Stott