Letter 387h

387h. Rosine Eleonore Niethammer to Charlotte Schiller in Weimar: Würzburg, 25 October 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 25 October 1804

It has already been so long since fate drew me away from you, my dear, and yet it has still not been possible for me to tell you anything about our life and activities in Würzburg. We are living on one of the best streets, facing the south, where the amiable sky amiably speaks to our hearts every day [1]

The old Jena crowd is quite drawn to us, especially Madam Paulus, whether from inclination or need I do not try to figure out; as long as I myself feel comfortable with it, I do not bother asking what their motives are. You know her, and you know she can be very charming, and thus has she also behaved toward me, exerting a quite pleasant effect on both me and my mood. One cannot, however, really trust her, for nothing is more important and dear to her than her own ego. But she is living completely differently here than in Jena, much more sociably, with more emphasis on being a woman, thereby also getting him out into society more, which is good for his health. [1a]

Otherwise he is still the same old Paulus, secretly going his own way and yet getting along well with everyone except Schelling. He had to participate in this feud because the women kept fanning the flames until things were burning white hot. Paulus would doubtless have preferred just to avoid it all quietly, but they had no rest with their gossip to and fro until everyone became involved. [1b]

Madam Schelling, on her arrival here, was still at odds with Madam Paulus, and abominably criticized Madam Paulus, believing she could clear herself by doing so. But she could criticize as much as she liked, she could still not wash away either Königstein or Mainz, Würzburg residents knew full well what role she had played there. [2] Madam Paulus heard of this from friends and gossip, but still went to Madam Schelling for the sake of external propriety, and that lady in her own turn also suddenly became quite accommodating, so much so that the two soon forgot their former resentment and became good friends again.

Thus did Madams Schelling, Paulus, Hoven, and Hufeland form a nice quadrille until Madam Schelling rediscovered and again began exerting her domineering personality. And that was admittedly hard for the other ladies, all of whom are very bright. So the kingdom collapsed for the second time and is now in a state of public feuding. [2a]

When I arrived here, the only thing I heard about was all the coarse, rude, presumptuous behavior and lies that Madam Schelling is alleged to have perpetrated. Madam von Hoven, however, is especially enraged with her and cannot stop talking about this manly-spirited lady — so much so that because the discussion never ends, I quite honestly know little more about Madam von Hoven herself other than that she must have been frightfully mistreated by Frau Lucifer, which is probably the main reason she is unhappy here. She is quite dissatisfied with Würzburg, and she admittedly may have enjoyed a more pleasant situation in Ludwigsburg, which may be preventing her from growing too fond of her situation here. But poor Würzburg itself is not at fault. [3]

The Hufelands are doing well; he is no longer so anxiously traversing the path of art and aesthetics, but rather also allows himself instead occasionally simply to be and live like a good, upright Würzburger, which sits very well with him, and when we observe him thus, in this way that seems natural for him, we remark that it does seem to suit him better when he does not par force pay such homage to art. [4] She is still much the same, and I am getting along with her quite well and enjoy being around her. Recently the handsome cloverleaf of consistory councilors formed here. [5] Martini has arrived, but it is difficult to believe he will be lighting a new candle for the church; but he did bring along a very nice wife, and that is enough at least for me.

I am almost ashamed of my contentedness insofar as I have so quickly come to do without our dear old Jena, where I enjoyed and suffered such sublime joy and bitter pain. For to be quite honest, I feel quite content here. My housing arrangement has been made wholly according to my own wishes, all foodstuffs are better than in Jena, not only not more expensive, but quite to the contrary cheaper. One does admittedly have more occasion to spend money, but when one lives the way one has already lived, one can get along quite nicely with just that amount of money, so we need not be concerned in that regard.

Although I am still a stranger as far as the people are concerned, Niethammer, whose duties have already introduced him to a larger circle of acquaintances, is quite content, having been accepted with both respect and trust, which in its own turn has made him quite fond of his sphere of activities and quite inclined to engage all his powers on behalf of the good cause. [5a]

Even though I seem to be praising and extolling everything here, I cannot possibly do so with regard to our theater without becoming one of those severe critics who maintain that art is not to be found on the stage here; nor, admittedly, is it even sought there, or only by very few. Count von Soden is trying to make money from the theater, not introduce art, and the Würzburg public, which admittedly has not been spoiled by the Weimar theater, seeks and finds solely amusement, while we who have been spoiled find it crude and boring.

I do occasionally wish I could spend even just half an hour with you to convince myself quite properly that you and yours are all healthy. To wit, we here are occasionally also quite concerned about Schiller, since we have not yet received any news about his complete recovery, so let me implore you to send us certainty soon concerning his complete recuperation. [6] Is the dear new little creature flourishing amid your maternal love and care? Please kiss the older children for me and my Julius. [7] Ludwig is no longer with us; last week we delivered him to the tender love and supervision of his uncle in Windsheim, where he is well provided for with respect to both mind and body, which is why I was able to leave him there with a confident heart. [8]

You will probably soon be celebrating a very nice occasion indeed when the long awaited grand duchess comes! You will have to give me a brief account of this event, since I still view her as my territorial princess. We, too, intend to toast her health and wish with all our hearts that she be as pleased with her new realm as we in our own small, modest apartment. [9]

It is finally time to close and tell you merely that your friendship is still one of my sweetest thoughts. Tell Schiller that I often pray most fervently and piously that he remain well. Please also give my regards to your sister.

R. Niethammer


[*] Source: Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde 3:181–84. — Eleonore Rosine and Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer had arrived in Würzburg in late August or early September 1804. Back.

[1] Concerning the Niethammer’s residence in Würzburg, see Caroline’s to Beate Gross, née Schelling on 2 September 1804 (letter 387), note 13. Back.

[1a] Illustration: Goethe’s Works, vol. 4, trans. G. Barrie [New York 1885], 300:



[1b] Illustration: Carlo Goldoni, I pettegolezzi delle donne (1750), in Opere complete, vol. 6 (Venice 1909), 437:



[2] See Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s period in Mainz. One might note that the editor of this edition of Charlotte Schiller’s letters, Carl Ludwig von Urlichs, glosses Caroline in a footnote as follows (3:182):

Née Michaelis from Göttingen, married to Dr. Böhmer [!] in Mainz, was imprisoned in Königstein for her participation in the intoxication of liberty in Mainz, was then married to A. v. Schlegel, and finally with Schelling. Back.

[2a] Taschenbuch für Damen auf das Jahr 1801:



[3] Ludwigsburg is located just northeast of Stuttgart (map 1: Trigonometrische Carte von Schwaben, zur Übersicht der Berechnungen, auf welche sich die neuen Carten gründen [Dillingen 1802]; Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, 19Cg/107; map 2: South West Germany and North Italy: The War of the Second Coalition 1798–1801, map 88 in the Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. Ward et al. [London 1912]):



Concerning Henriette von Hoven’s relationship with Caroline see her letters to Charlotte Schiller on 2 January 1804 (letter 381g), 4 April 1804 (letter 383a), and 4 August 1804 (letter 385a) (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Almanac de Goettingue pour l’anneé 1786; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung). In her letter on 4 April 1804, she wrote trenchantly that Caroline

is wasteful to an astonishing degree, but at once also stingy, full of pretention, presumptuous, imperious, importunate, critical and disparaging, posh, vain, arrogant, full of lust and cramps, in love, vengeful, always drinks one too many. In a word: she is an ugly animal!



[4] Fr., “by force.” During 1799–1800, Gottlieb Hufeland had been one of the co-editors, with Christian Gottfried Schütz, of the original Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. One reason he resigned in 1800 seems to have been his discontent with the increasingly vehement literary quarreling (Gottlieb Böttger der Ältere Diskussion zwischen zwei Männer [1799]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 243):



[5] Presumably a reference to Paulus and Niethammer along with Christoph David Anton Martini, whom Rosine Niethammer now mentions. Back.

[5a] Goettinger Taschen Calender für das Jahr 1791; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[6] On 19 July 1804, Schiller and his family journeyed to Jena, where he had taken an apartment in the house at Leutragasse 5 (see Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde 1:382–83) to be closer to his personal physician, Johann Christian Stark when Charlotte Schiller gave birth to their next child, Emilie (Rosine Niethammer next asks Charlotte about her).

The child was born on 25 July 1804, but the previous evening Schiller became grievously ill, having come down with a cold after having gotten chilled during an excursion to the Dornburg valley, a cold from which, complicated by his other health problems, he never quite recovered. (In her final Jena apartment, Caroline herself had had a view of the valley leading from Jena toward Kunitz and up to Dornburg; see her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 20–21 December 1801 [letter 336], note 5.) The Niethammers, of course, who owned the house, were still in Jena at the time, so were intimately familiar with this episode.

Unfortunately, Rosine Niethammer’s concerns were well founded. Schiller, who returned to Weimar on 19 August, never quite recovered, and died suddenly on 9 May 1805. Here Schiller on his deathbed (Gustav Könnecke, Bilderatlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Nationallitteratur, 2nd ed. [Marburg 1895], 319):



[7] Charlotte Schiller’s other children were Karl, Ernst, and Karoline. Back.

[8] Ludwig Döderlein, who was born in the house at Leutragasse 5 in Jena, was thirteen years old and would be moving in with a paternal uncle. He was also about to begin attending the famous Schulpforta, which he attended until 1810, thereafter becoming a respected philologist. Back.

[9] Concerning the betrothal of the Weimar crown prince Karl Friedrich with Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who would arrive in Weimar on 9 November 1804, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 20 April 1801 (letter 310), note 15. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott