Letter 387i

387i. Clemens Brentano to Sophie Brentano in Marburg: Neustadt, 31 October 1804 [*]

Neustadt, 31 October 1804

I arrived in Würzburg that evening at 8:00; [1] it is about three times larger than Leipzig, full of nooks and crannies, but also full of churches more beautiful than those in Erfurt, and yet it offers a rather sad prospect for actually living there, since not a single apartment really has a view. [2] . . .

I met the Niethammers the next morning; [3] they were fresh and healthy and quite pleased with their situation in Würzburg, [4] and I find them unchanged from the last time I saw them. I got into a conversation with him about the university situation and about Friedrich Schlegel; [5] he spoke about the former the way almost everyone does, except that he knew all sorts of contemptible things about Eichstädt, and about the latter that Vermehren had stood surety for him in Dresden for 800 Thaler, all of which was now lost for the children, [6] and that Schlegel had left Madam Veit in Cologne and was now visiting Madam de Staël to see whether he might somehow get in with her entourage as well. [7]

Madam Ebert will soon be marrying Herr Voigt, about which Madam Niethammer merely shrugged her shoulders. [8] Herr Niethammer went out to eat, and I continued a long conversation with her about you. She said rumor had it that I was being quite severe with you, that someone wanted to visit you in Heidelberg (she would not reveal the name), but that I would not allow it, and that I was mistreating Hulda.

So that got my ire up a bit and I spoke at length with her about all the vexation and grief we have had, and that we were now quite at peace and that you loved me. They were quite astonished that I was able to get you to stop using makeup, calling it a kind of miraculous, heroic deed for me, which made me quite sorry and seemed rather coarse of her. [8a]

I took my meal in the inn, took care of financial matters afterward, walked around the town a bit, which has a beautiful castle and promenades, and my head was fairly swimming with all the grand churches, images of saints, and the new Enlightenment, [9] so much so that I nearly wept.

Then I visited the grand Julius Hospital, the most splendid and grandest of its kind, and had a look at it. That evening I was Niethammer’s guest, we were alone, and I had to talk about everything I knew, so I was bored, and I wrote you from there. Madam Hufeland is in childbed, [10]

Madam Schelling no longer socializes with anyone, and I chanced to see the god Kama standing in the courtyard of the Isenburg Hotel in his sky-blue uniform. [11] He has already been in Würzburg for six months with his charge and continually socializes among the loftiest nobility, [12] and Medicus told me that several ladies had found him to be a quite sensitive young man. [13]

Medicus could not say enough bad things about Madam Hufeland’s domineering personality, and, by the way, Madam Niethammer and Madam Paulus, and Madam Siebold are quite intimately allied with her.

I saw Kilian on the street; he is awaiting the conclusion of his lawsuit. Markus has already been sentenced by the Bamberg court to cassation and is now in Munich engaging the entirety of his arts. [14] Markus certainly does no credit to the honor of Madam Paulus, he being in any case someone whom everyone has described to me as a filthy, extremely ugly, refined Jew. [15]


[*] Briefwechsel zwischen Clemens Brentano und Sophie Mereau, ed. Heinz Amelung, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1908), 2:101–3.

In October and November 1804, Clemens Brentano traveled from Heidelberg to Würzburg, Gotha, and Weimar on his way to Berlin to see Achim von Arnim, who had recently returned from an educational tour of almost two years through Germany, Switzerland, northern Italy, France, and England.

Neustadt on the River Saale, from where Brentano is writing, is located ca. 75 km northeast of Würzburg and just south and southeast of Jena and Weimar (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, 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 xlv):



[1] 29 October 1804. Back.

[2] Concerning the plethora of churches in Würzburg, see the steeples in Herbipolis. Würtzburg. Gesamtansicht von Norden, vom Steinberg aus, colorized copper engraving by Matthäus Merian (1648):



[3] Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer had arrived in Würzburg in late August or early September 1804, so still had considerable knowledge of people in Jena, as becomes clear in this letter; concerning his appointment, see Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 14 July 1804 (letter 383m), note 2. Back.

[4] See Rosine Eleonore Niethammer’s similar sentiments in her letter to Charlotte Schiller on 25 October 1804 (letter 387h). Back.

[5] I.e., about the university situation in Jena, from which the Niethammers had just moved to Würzburg. Concerning the relationship between Friedrich Schlegel and Clemens and Sophie Brentano in Jena, see Dorothea Schlegel’s letter to Clemens Brentano on 25 July 1800 (letter 265f), esp. the editorial note. See also her and Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 20 September 1804 (letter 387d). Back.

[6] Concerning Friedrich’s chronic financial debt, which often enough affected other people as well, as is the case here, see, among many other letters in this edition, Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 24 April 1802 (letter 357), note 10. Vermehren had died on 29 November 1803, leaving behind three children and his widow, Henriette Vermehren. Back.

[7] Brentano does not realize that Friedrich and Dorothea had been married since 6 April 1804.

Dorothea Schlegel wrote to Karoline Paulus on 20 September 1804 (letter 387d) that Friedrich “departed yesterday and will be gone a couple of months, going to Geneva to see his brother and make the acquaintance of Madame de Staël, then to Paris, hoping then to be back here in November.”

Friedrich’s journey took him far afield indeed; he did not, however, make it into Madame de Staël’s “entourage” and was still in Paris during the first week of February 1805, where he had fallen ill, and did not return to Cologne until ca. 10 March 1805 (Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus 45; W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):



[8] I.e., Henriette Vermehren, née von Eckardt, widow of the postal administrator Eber (not Ebert) in Jena, then wife of Bernhard Vermehren. See Dorothea Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in mid-May 1804 (Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus, 11, with notes 123n11,21): “I was disgusted to hear that Madam Vermehren will be remarrying. I must say, I am almost ashamed to belong to this sex. At one point I almost could have been fond of this woman.”

After Vermehren’s death, Henriette Vermehren married a third time at the end of 1804, this time Hofrath Johann Heinrich Voigt, professor of mathematics and physics in Jena, whose first wife had been the sister of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in Göttingen. Niethammer’s wife. Rosine Eleonore née Eckardt, widowed Döderlein, was Henriette Vermehren’s sister, whence, perhaps, the filial shrugging of shoulders. In a letter to Karoline Paulus on 20 September 1804 (letter 387d), Dorothea declares that she “still cannot believe” that Henriette Vermehren had already remarried (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 4 [Vienna 1776], plate 32)):



[8a] Pariser Moden Kalender für das Jahr 1787, part of the Östreichischer National Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1787; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[9] I.e., the Enlightenment-oriented changes especially in the university since Würzburg passed to the electoral principality of Bavaria in 1803. Back.

[10] The expected child was presumably Siegmund Hufeland (dates unknown); see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 28 October 1799 (letter 252), note 7. Back.

[11] Friedrich Majer was so-called because of his interest in Hinduism; kama: one of Hinduism’s four goals, incarnate as the god of erotic love; see in this regard Brentano’s earlier remarks concerning Majer in Dorothea’s letter to Schleiermacher on 31 October 1800 (letter 273b), note 21. Back.

[12] Majer had become tutor to the crown prince of Reuss-Schleiz, whom he accompanied to the Franconian universities in Würzburg and Erlangen. Back.

[13] “Medicus” seems to have been either Nicolaus Heinrich Julius (1783–1862), a student from Hamburg who had studied in Würzburg and in Heidelberg, then accompanying Clemens Brentano to Würzburg, who called him “Medicus” (so Reinhold Steig and Herman Grimm, Achim von Arnim und die ihm nahe standen, 2 vols. [Stuttgart 1894], 1:355), or Ludwig Wallrad Medicus (so Jürgen Behrens et al, Clemens Brentano Sämtliche Werke und Briefe, vol. 38:3, Erläuterungen zu den Briefen III 1803–1807 [Stuttgart 2004], 416). Back.

[14] See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s own letters to Schelling from Munich on 13–14 October 1804 (letter 387f), and in general supplementary appendix 383f.1, esp. note 4 there. Back.

[15] See Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374), note 16, and, in general, the supplementary appendix on Karoline Paulus’s reputation. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott