Letter 387

• 387. Caroline to Beate Gross, née Schelling in Gaisburg: Würzburg, 2 September 1804 [*]

Würzb[urg], 2 September [1804]

|393| Although you did admittedly make us wait quite a while for news from you, your excuse was one that was already a valid one in the Gospel, where the invitee says: “I have just taken a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” [1] And certainly to have just taken a husband [2] — well, given the way the world turns, that certainly says even more. Enough, we are sincerely delighted to hear about your contentment, a contentment which, alongside that of your husband, which is, of course, one with your own, will always be part of ours as well.

As for us, let me assure you that we are well, that we will finally be going to Bamberg the day after tomorrow, and that we will be remaining in our present apartment. [3] This decision will probably be the most advisable thing even were the other apartment far more excellent even than it is. For here we are alone and can have some peace and quiet, which would be possible only with considerable artifice among those hostile and deceitful housemates, against whom one would constantly have to defend oneself, which, of course, already constitutes war. Just how this was arranged, and all sorts of other things as well, |394| would simply take too long to relate.

Quite recently I saw a conveyance to Ludwigsburg arrive and be loaded up with those most worthy friends. [4] Herr von Hoven has remained behind here because he has too many business matters, though presumably also because he feared being bored and being asked too many questions at home. In any event, you will now doubtless hear a great many things now about what the Swabian ladies, the maidservant included, will be saying publicly there. [5] Let me, on the other hand, betray to you that Minele, [6] as I recently learned, seems to be quite well known here for her penchant for falling in love and was allegedly discovered in a rendésvous here.

Should you hear that I am now keeping three maidservants, let me explain to you how the arrangement works. Magdalene, whom we always call the “Old Empress” after a play by Tiek that was recently read aloud here in our home and in which this crazy empress runs around with dark, searing eyes [7] — Magdalene genuinely did get sick from vexation and lovesick rage and checked herself into the hospital utterly without warning. I immediately found another girl and had no intention of taking Magdalene back into the house; she became completely insufferable to Schelling in any event, and my own nature had always found her repugnant . . .

For this autumn it will not be possible after all for us to come out and have a look at your rich harvest. We would like to postpone that until next year, when you — may perhaps come to receive us bearing a tiny fruit of a different sort. [8]

You will probably be interested to hear that the newspaper writer residing with the Hartlebens received his complete dismissal and that she now thinks the same thing of him as do we [9] . . .

Everyone in Würzburg is away from Würzburg this month. The military has marched to Munich to set up camp, [10] the young students |395| have all gone home to mama and papa, and most of the professors are also taking it easy. Professor Fuchs is leaving tomorrow with the Gärtners. [11]

Monsieur Lambinon will be coming through Stuttgard on his tour, and his pockets will be full of bits of news. [12] But let me relate one of them myself — namely, that the Niethammers really have arrived here and have their logis in the Neubaugasse cheek by jowl with the Hartlebens. [13] They immediately paid us a visit, and for the rest we will simply remain on the same terms with them as earlier. [14] She did not neglect to court Madam von Hoven’s favor several times already.

The many strangers and old acquaintances who have recently visited us include the diminutive, half-deaf Dr. Gries; you may remember us mentioning occasionally that he would soon be coming here. [15]

Although I do not have the extra time today to write to our dear mother, I will do so before my departure. If you would, please relate the contents of this letter to her. Schelling sends his warm regards to all of you and was delighted by the reply of your good husband as only a brother could be. Stay very well and also let me know whether you are quite healthy, quite cheerful, and quick on your feet, and also which roles you saw Iffland perform. [16]

Caroline S.


[*] Caroline’s forty-first birthday. — Stutgart, mit dero Gegend auf 2 Stund. 81 G. Bodenehr fecit et excudit; Recens emendavit, auxit atque divisit R. H. Stuttgardiae (1716–50):



[1] Luke 14:20 NRSV; translation altered to reflect Caroline’s imminent parallel comment about “taking a husband.” The reference is to the parable of the great dinner in Luke 14, though Caroline’s point about the excuse being valid is not really the point of the story in Luke (Hans Leonhard Schäufelein, Das Gleichnis vom Gastmahl ohne Gäste [1514]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. E: 63.1 [9]):


At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.” But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.” Another said, “I have just been married [taken a wife], and therefore I cannot come.” Back.

[2] Beate was married on 26 July 1804 in Murrhardt. Back.

[3] Caroline and Schelling departed for Bamberg on 4 September 1804, where they spent the break between the summer and winter semesters visiting Adalbert Friedrich Marcus. They returned to Würzburg in late October 1804. Bamberg is located ca. 90 km east of Würzburg (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern [Vienna 1805]):


In a letter to Schelling on 31 August 1804 (Fuhrmans 3:101), Marcus had written that the “main thing is that we remain quite close here, that you and your wife are able . . . to be, live, and linger right here with me in my house” (Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808):


Concerning the Schellings’ decision to remain in their original apartment in the university quadrangle rather than move into a new one in the Borgias Building, see the supplementary appendix on their residence in Würzburg as well as Caroline’s letter to Beate Schelling on 17–18 July 1804 (letter 384), note 23.

The determinative consideration, as Caroline goes on to explain, was the deteriorating relationships with other faculty wives and their husbands who had been living in the same complex, namely, the von Hovens and the Pauluses, on which see below. Back.

[4] Henriette von Hoven mentions in her letter to Charlotte Schiller on 4 August 1804 (letter 385a) that Karoline Paulus would be taking a trip back to her “fatherland,” namely, Swabia. Back.

[5] For the broader story of Caroline’s troubles with the other faculty wives in Würzburg, see Franz Xaver von Wegele, “Ein Frauenkrieg an der Universität Würzburg,” Allgemeine Zeitung (1885) supplement nos. 151–52; reprinted in Wegele’s Vorträge und Abhandlungen (Leipzig 1898), 291–309. Translated here as “A Ladies’ War at the University of Würzburg.”

For the opposing views, see Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven’s account of his and Henriette von Hoven’s initial period in Würzburg, supplementary appendix 381g.1; Henriette von Hoven’s letters to Charlotte Schiller on 4 April 1804 (letter 383a) and 4 August 1804 (letter 385a); Karoline Paulus to Charlotte Schiller on 11 March (letter 382e); Rosine Eleonore Niethammer to Charlotte Schiller on 25 October 1804 (letter 387h) and 25 October 1804, (letter 387h). Back.

[6] Identity (Wilhelmine) uncertain; perhaps one of Caroline’s maidservants? Or is this woman identical with Mademoiselle Minchen whom Caroline mentions in her letter to Beate on 24 July 1804 (letter 385)? Back.

[7] After the character of Magdalene, the mother of Octavianus, in Ludwig Tieck’s Kaiser Octavianus: Ein Lustspiel in 2 Theilen (Jena 1804). In part 1 of the play, based on a Volksbuch, the emperor is involved in an intrigue during which he is tricked into banishing his wife and two sons. Here the “crazy empress” — on the left — “runs around with dark, searing eyes” accusing Octavianus’s wife of adultery (Ludwig Richter and Jakob von Hartenbach, Geschichte vom Kaiser Octavianus Indem sie so schrie etc. [1838]; Library of Congress):



[8] The reference, of course, is to Beate Gross’s anticipated pregnancy (R. J. Steidele, frontispiece to Lehrbuch der Hebammenkunst [Vienna 1791]):


The “rich harvest” otherwise refers to a journey to Stuttgart/Gaisburg, for the harvesting of grapes in the Grosses’ vineyards. Back.

[9] Uncertain allusion. Theodor Konrad Hartleben transferred his periodical Allgemeine deutsche Justiz- und Polizei-Fama (General German justice and police news) (1802–30) from Salzburg, where he had previously taught and been police director, to Würzburg in 1804, after an apparent falling out with the administration in Salzburg:



[10] During the War of the Third Coalition especially as it played out in 1805, Bavaria, and with it Würzburg, took the French side. After Austrian troops arrived uncomfortably close to Munich in 1805, Maximilian I moved his court temporarily to Würzburg, prompting the families of H. E. G. Paulus and Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven to vacate the Borgias Building, which was to be used instead for Maximilian’s administration and entourage ([1] “Central Europe: The Austrian War 1809,” The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912] [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]; [2] Neuester Plan der Kreishauptstadt Würzburg, mit nächster Umgebung und Angabe der Stadt Strassenbau-Projecte [n.d.]):




[11] Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:646, identifies this person as Georg Friedrich Christian Fuchs (1760–1813), albeit without explanation. The family of Johann Andreas Gärtner was moving to Munich, and Fuchs may well have been accompanying them there. See Caroline’s letter to Beate on 17–18 July 1804 (letter 384), note 7. Back.

[12] Monsieur Lambinon is otherwise unidentified, though the reference to a “tour” suggests that he was a presumably French or French-speaking foreigner. He is also mentioned in Caroline’s letter to Beate on 17–18 July 1804 (letter 384). She relates to Beate on 13 April 1805 (letter 393) that he married in Würzburg before departing. Back.

[13] Logis, Fr., “house, dwelling, lodging, accommodations.” The Neubaugasse was contiguous with the Neubau Church and visible from the Schellings’ apartment (Kreishauptstadt Würzburg: Gemessen durch Carl Handwerk im Jahre 1832; Bayerische Landesbibliothek):


Concerning the background to Niethammer’s appointment, see Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 19 June 1804 (letter 383j), note 5. Back.

[14] Caroline’s account of the relationship with the Niethammer’s does not concur with that of Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer himself. See Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 14 July 1804 (letter 383m), note 2. Back.

[15] Johann Diederich Gries’s father had died in Hamburg in late 1803, and Gries, still living in Jena, spent most of the winter 1803–04 in a depressed mood. Prompted by a good friend, however, he visited Halle during March 1804, where he visited his earlier friend Justus Christian Loder, who introduced him to several professors in Halle as well. He returned to Jena by way of Dessau and Wörlitz (Wörlitz is located just east of Dessau; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Refreshed and encouraged by the journey, Gries then picked up work again on his translation the first volume (fifteen cantos) of Ariosto’s Rasender Roland, eventually 4 vols. (Jena 1804–8), which Friedrich Frommann eventually published. Here the frontispieces to the four volumes from the Viennese edtion of 1812 (Magazin der ausländischen klassischen Literatur [Vienna 1812]):



Unfortunately, Gries’s sense of hearing, which had been getting worse, seemed to deteriorate at an accelerated pace during this period, and Gries, on the advice of his physician, left Jena on 25 June 1804 to take a cure in Liebenstein, a mineral-springs and health spa in the northwestern part of the Thuringian Forest, approx. 70 km west Weimar and just east of Salzungen (maps in order: Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no.18):



Here ca. 1870 (H. Schwerdt and Z. Ziegler, Meyers Reisebücher: Thüringen, 2nd ed. [Hildburghausen 1871], plate following p. 268):


Here the Liebenstein castle ruins above the town (Ludwig Bechstein, Wanderungen durch Thüringen, Das malerische und romantische Deutschland in zehn Sektionen 4 [Leipzig n.d.], plate following p. 268):


See Aus dem Leben J. D. Gries, 55–56:

For some time [1803–4], Gries had begun noticing a certain loss of hearing, at first only slight, then increasingly severe. Following the advice of his physician, he decided to try the mineral springs in Liebenstein after finishing his current work. He set out on 25 June 1804. Although the cure helped very little indeed to address the actual ailment, it did nonetheless help to strengthen his overall health, which had suffered because of the strenuous work he had been doing. . . .

After a six-week stay there, he set out on a lengthier journey, first to Würzburg, where he found the old friends from Jena but also evidence of the ruptured friendships, which disturbed him greatly. He then journeyed by way of Neckargmünd for two hours through the valley of the Neckar River, enclosed by beautiful, lofty hills, and on to Heidelberg, where, as is unfortunately often the case in this splendid locale, it was raining incessantly.

[H. Henkenius and Ella Hoffman, Guide Through Heidelberg and its Environs Neckartal and Bergstrasse, 10th ed. (Heidelberg 1913), 6:]


After four weeks, however, the sunshine broke through once more, and old friends and new acquaintances, the former including Savigny and Reinhard, as well as the diversion of several excursions to Mannheim and Schwetzingen, made his stay so pleasant that he only unwillingly departed Heidelberg on 13 September [1804], albeit not without the silent wish to linger there a bit longer some day.

On the return journey, he did linger a bit longer in Würzburg [during which he visited Caroline], where he began to feel quite at home, though not so much that he might have given in to his friends’ encouragement to settle there.

His primary itinerary was as follows after returning to Jena from Halle, with Liebenstein, which was not a postal station, being located just east of Salzungen (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



Because Caroline is writing on 2 September 1804, she must be referring to Gries’s initial visit, which, after his six-week-stay in Liebenstein, must have occurred during August 1804. A second visit seems to have taken place during his return journey from Heidelberg to Jena, which he departed on 13 September 1804.

Gries reappears later in Caroline’s life and letters. One might add as an editorial aside at this point that Caroline’s remarks here betray an ongoing correspondence either with Gries himself or with his acquaintances in Jena who were familiar with his plans; regrettably, this correspondence, which may or may not have been extensive, seems to have been lost. Back.

[16] Although no documentation reveals which plays Beate attended, August Wilhelm Iffland gave guest performances in Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg at the special request of the Prince Elector of Württemberg between 14 and 19 August 1804, arriving in Stuttgart on 11 August 1804. Because the prince elector wanted to miss neither Iffland’s performances nor his own stay in his summer residence in Ludwigsburg, he had some of the performances held in the smaller Ludwigsburg summer theater.

The repertoire and performance dates, along with Iffland’s roles, were as follows: (Rudolf Krauss, “Ifflands Beziehungen zum Stuttgarter Hoftheater,” in Beiträge zur Literatur- und Theatergeschichte. Ludwig Geiger zum 70. Geburtstage als Festgabe dargebracht [Berlin-Steglitz, 1918], 197–208, here 205–7):

1. Tuesday, 14 August in Stuttgart: the role of Abbé de l’Epée in Der Taubstumme by August von Kotzebue, after Jean Nicolas Bouilly (1799) (frontispiece to the English adaptation Harancour Palace; or, the Orphan Protected: An Historical Tale [Sommer’s Town 1802]; second illustration: act 4, scene 2 from Thomas Holcroft’s adaptation Deaf and Dump Or, The Orphan Protected: An Historical Drama, in Five Acts [1825]):



2. Wednesday, 15 August in Ludwigsburg: the role of the count in Joseph Babo’s comedy Der Puls: Ein Lustspiel in zwei Aufzügen (Vienna 1804), and the role of Dr. Treumund in Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg’s one-act play Die eheliche Probe: Ein Lustspiel in einem Aufzüge;

3. Friday, 17 August in Stuttgart: the role of Nathan in Lessing’s Nathan der Weise: Ein dramatisches Gedicht in fünf Aufzügen (Johann Christoph Frisch, Nathan und der Tempelritter [1806]; Herzog August Bibliothek, Museums./Signatur Top 3b:11):


4. Saturday, 18 August in Ludwigsburg: the role of Langsalm in Kotzebue’s comedy Der Wirrwar, oder Der Muthwillige: Ein Lustspiel in fünf Aufzügen (1805);

5. Sunday, 19 August in Stuttgart: again the role of Langsalm as above;

6. Monday, 20 August in Stuttgart: the role of the house tutor Constant in Iffland’s own play Selbstbeherrschung (Leipzig 1800) (frontispiece to the edition Vienna 1840):


7. Tuesday, 21 August in Stuttgart: the role of Hofrath Stahl in Iffland’s Der Hausfriede;

8. Wednesday, 22 August in Ludwigsburg: the role of Privy Counselor Seeger in Iffland’s Die Erinnerung (frontispiece to the edition Vienna 1810):


9. Friday, 24 August in Stuttgart: the role of Regulus in Collins’s tragedy Regulus (see Wilhelm Schlegel’s earlier review of previous Berlin performances) (frontispiece to Heinrich J. v. Collin’s sämtliche Werke, vol. 1: Regulus, Coriolan, Polyrena (Vienna 1812):


10. Saturday, 25 August in Ludwigsburg: the role of Dominik in Mercier’s Der Essigmann mit seinem Schubkarren: Schauspiel in 2 Acten (publication uncertain), and the role of Count Braunstädt in the one-act play Die Komödie aus dem Stegreife (Vienna 1794) by Johann Friedrich Jünger;

11. Sunday, 26 August in Stuttgart: the same two roles;

12. Monday, 27 August in Stuttgart: the role of Count Wodemar in Otto Heinrich von Gemmingen-Hornberg’s Der deutsche Hausvater, ein Schauspiel (Berlin 1781) (frontispiece to the edition Mannheim 1790):


13. Tuesday, 28 August in Stuttgart: the role of Baron Sturz in Die beschämte Eifersucht, a comedy by Johanna von Weissenthurn, and the role of Berghelm in the one-act play Der gutherzige Alte (Frankfurt 1789) by Jean-Pierre de Florian;

14. Wednesday, 29 August in Ludwigsburg: the role of Hofrath Stahl in Der Hausfriede by Iffland.

See also supplementary appendix on the correspondence between Goethe and Schiller on the performances of Iffland in Weimar, 24 April–4 May 1798. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott