Letter 391

• 391. Caroline to Meta Liebeskind in Ansbach: Würzburg, 7 March 1805

Würzburg, 7 March [1805]

|402| Your recent mention of the Huber cabinet or copper-plate engravings collection prompted Schelling to wonder whether it might not be a good acquisition for the university here. [1] He would have proposed it as a teacher of aesthetics |403| and senateur [2] had he anticipated any success in the matter given the university’s exhausted financial condition, or rather had he not already known that for now it could have no success at all through such formal channels.

But it does surprise us that Madam Huber did not turn first to Bavaria; [3] the fact that the collector was a Bavarian etc. [4] might be sufficiently invoked, and one might perhaps be inclined to seize the opportunity to do more for the family than can happen simply for the sake of example; after such a brief year of service, she doubtless cannot count on more than the legally stipulated pension. [5]

Without mentioning Schelling, do at least tell her this much, namely, that she have Count Arco negotiate the matter with our count. The university really does own nothing like it, and the lack has become palpable. A few years ago, some inferior copper engravings were purchased for Landshut for 10,000 fl., so now they could bring the good ones here. People presumably immediately told her that the collection would not be purchased in Munich, whereas no one thought of Würzburg.

Perhaps the principal could be placed and earn interest. Of course, in that case she would be advised to hedge it tightly and securely and from every direction, since our fidelity and security is not particularly proven. We did speak with Sturz about the matter, but since that conversation could not take place until yesterday, I am only able to write you about it today. See if you can find our what the approximate asking price is.

In any event, wanting and having to sell such a collection does not mean what Therese herself is so bitterly maintaining. I hope, indeed, I am convinced that things will never even remotely get that far, and being prompted to occupy oneself with such things after such a loss is, at least the way I feel about it, more a relief and distraction than a higher degree of misfortune. [6]

|404| My sister has written and asked me recently what I think about the essays on and by Madam Huber — her opinion being that “it is appalling that in all the newspapers they are portraying Huber as the ‘savior’ and ‘protector’ of the Forster family,” and that “nothing is more abominable than to stir up things that are now best left alone, not least because doing so might well prompt someone from the Forster side to rise up in opposition — and it seems as if she is trying to deceive herself and to destroy everything in the past.” [7] — Those were the words she used, apparently under the influence of Antonie Forster. [8]

I have not yet seen any of this material. There is an essay in Aurora with the title “Huber” that does not, however, engage in such insinuations. [9] In several others, e.g., in an extremely early one in the Elegante Zeitung, the only thing I found rather indelicate was the allusion to the neediness of the survivors. [10] I am unfortunately convinced that Therese herself is quite capable of such indelicacy concerning this point. But would it be possible for her to write about even those circumstances? On the whole, it seems she is not at all disinclined to make herself interesting to the German public, and that is not really a worthy memorial to the dead.


[1] Note that this collection belonged not to Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, but rather to his father in Leipzig, Michael Huber.

Copper-plate engravings were a popular form of illustrations of the sort copiously represented in this present edition.

Here two engravers at work and a printer of such engravings (1, 2, 3) and an aficionado and collector (4) ([1] Christoff Weigel, Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an biß auf alle Künstler und Handwercker nach Jedes Ambts- und Beruffs-Verrichtungen meist nach dem Leben gezeichnet und in Kupfer gebracht etc. [Regenspurg 1698], illustration following p. 201; [2] Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 [Vienna 1775], plate 5; [3] Christoff Weigel, Abbildung, illustration following p. 204; [4] fontispiece to Johann Conrad Gütle, Kunst in Kupfer zu stechen, zu Radiren und zu Aezen in schwarzer Kunst und punktirter Manier zu arbeiten [Nürnberg, Altdorf 1795]:)






[2] In French in the original; here: in the university senate. Back.

[3] The reference is to Therese Huber, not to Anna Louise Huber, née l’Epine, the late (†1800) wife of her father-in-law, Michael Huber, to whom the collection belonged. Therese, as Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s widow, was now in a position to sell the collection herself. As seen below, the announcement of the sale in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung mistakes Therese Huber for her mother-in-law. Back.

[4] Michael Huber was a native of Lower Bavaria. Back.

[5] Ludwig Ferdinand Huber had worked for the Bavarian government only since 1803. Back.

[6] Caroline is presumably alluding to Therese Huber having added an element of dire financial emergency to the burdensome and urgent sale of the collection.

Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s father had died in 1804, and in the fall of that year Huber himself had made a trip to Leipzig to help organize his father’s estate (see Caroline’s undated letter to Meta Liebeskind in early 1805 [letter 389], note 1). As it turned out, the university in Würzburg did not acquire the collection; see the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 74 (6 July 1805), 626:

The reigning duke of Saxony-Gotha has purchased a valuable collection of copper engravings for 8000 fl. from the widow [correct: daughter-in-law] of the late Leipzig scholar Huber, father of the late Electoral Palatinate Bavarian Territorial Directory Rath who died last year in Ulm. Back.

[7] A letter from Therese Huber to the new editor of the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, Siegfried August Mahlmann, had been published in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1805) 13 (Tuesday, 29 January 1805), 100–103; see supplementary appendix 391.1. Back.

[8] See Caroline’s letter to Meta Liebeskind on 1 February 1805 (letter 390), with note 21. Luise Wiedemann lived in the same house as Antonie Forster at the time in Kiel (Thomas Kitchin, Map of Germany [ca. 1780]):



[9] Johann Christoph von Aretin’s Munich journal Aurora, eine Zeitschrift aus dem südlichen Deutschland (1805) 13 (30 January 1805), 49–50, published a touching, largely biographical article signed by “D.” (not, according to Erich Schmidt, [1913], 648, Bernhard Joseph Docen [1782–1828]) with the title “Huber,” apparently by a friend from Huber’s time in Stuttgart. At the end of the article, the author also mentions Georg Forster, Therese, and the children:

He also leaves behind two stepchildren — daughters of a woman, wholly worthy of him, whose first husband, Georg Forster, the gentleman who sailed around the world, died in 1795 [1794] in Paris, and besides these also two children of his own. — Their greatest inheritance is a revered name and the tears of love and friendship of all who belonged to and knew him. Back.

[10] The reference is to a review of a new issue of playing cards, “Karten-Almanach,” Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1805) 2 (Thursday, 3 January 1805), 13–14; see supplementary appendix 391.2. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott