Letter 392

• 392. Caroline to Meta Liebeskind in Ansbach: Würzburg, March 1805 [*]

[Würzburg, March 1805]

[Beginning of letter missing.]

|404| You probably saw much earlier than did I the articles I recently mentioned to you, concerning Huber, in the Elegante Zeitung and Der Freimüthige. [1] The former was actually just a copy of a letter from her, but to whom to you attribute the latter? I know not whether you have on the whole the same feeling as I — I find it |405| abominable, simply in and of itself, to drag the most sacred and intimate things through the muck of the dailies in this way. And what is Therese trying to accomplish with all of it anyway? Doubtless merely justify herself.

Even though there is some evidence to the contrary, the latter seems not to have come about without her participation. [2] It mentions the Xenien, about which she allegedly knew nothing — but about which, I believe, she did indeed know. [3] I confess that Schiller should have reaped much more for this extremely unmanly deed; [4] no mention was made of his close relationship with the late Huber, which aggravated her far more. [5] Nor do I really disapprove of such a reproach at a moment like this; quite the contrary, it is precisely the right one. [6]

But to disturb the peace of the dead now with such attempts at justification, when, after all, no one is really being called to account anymore and yet precisely when such attempts cannot but touch intimately on certain people’s lives and affect them in a great many ways, and when for just that reason the whole matter is presented not at all according to the truth with which it stands before God, but rather only according to mendacious self-deception and in impure relationships [7]

I confess, it just makes my heart ache. Please write me what you think about it. Schelling is not even interested in speaking with me about it in the first place, his indignation now far exceeding his interest. The two of us doubtless know the details of the affair better than anyone. Will Therese try to lie to us as well? For there are certainly all sorts of indications that she is intent on giving the public only her view of it all. [8]

If you are able, you should warn her. How strange that she is turning her grief toward the outside — yet another indication of her lack of inner peace. Tell me, what need prompts a person to open up to the world this way, to expose oneself to the inevitably despicable contemporary public? Is it merely the theatrical element in a person’s personality, or a bad conscience?

|406| I could understand how one might leave behind to one’s children and even to those who come after us certain materials documenting the confusing events of one’s life, that is, as an experience that might interest humanity as such. But only when names and persons are no longer of consequence does such material really appear in its true light.

To my way of thinking, writing down sincere confessions the way R. did always betrays a more or less sick and ugly nature; [9] embellished portrayals — not to speak of their inner unworthiness and womanish origins — are inevitably exposed in the end, and then it is even worse.

My firm belief is that every lie is ultimately exposed to the light, and that lying itself is the only real vice, and the devil its father. How unprecedented . . . [10]

[End of sheet.]


[*] Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:648, points out that Georg Waitz, (1871), 2:266–8, combines the present letters 389 (one sheet; here dated “early 1805”) and 392 (one sheet in a slightly different format; here dated “March 1805”) into a single letter, letter 318 by his numbering, dated 1 February 1805, something the literary historian Ludwig Jonas was the first to find chronologically impossible. Back.

[1] See Caroline’s letter to Meta Liebeskind on 7 March 1805 (letter 391).

  • In the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1805) 13 (Tuesday, 29 January 1805), 100–103, Siegfried August Mahlmann published an allegedly private, albeit clearly stylized letter from Therese Huber concerning the end of Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s life. For the text, see supplementary appendix 391.1; see also Caroline’s letter to Meta Liebeskind on 7 March 1805 (letter 391).
  • The Berlin periodical Der Freimüthige (1805) 34 (Saturday, 16 February 1805), 133–35; 35 (Monday, 18 February 1805), 137–40, published a lengthy (for which the editors apologized) article with the incorrect title (on which see below) “Leonhard Friedrich Huber,” a slogan-filled biographical sketch and panegyric that also praises Therese Huber. For excerpts pertinent to Caroline’s remarks in this letter, see supplementary appendix 392.1. Back.

[2] The two-part article/eulogy in Der Freimüthige might arguably be attributed to Therese herself, though conclusive evidence is probably impossible to adduce. The writing and even word choice in the article do over stretches closely echo those in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, and one plausible explanation for the egregiously incorrect resolution of “L. F. Huber” — which certainly no friend and hardly even a distant acquaintance of Huber would have committed — is that Therese composed the article and then either submitted it herself or had an acquaintance do so.

Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:649, however, further complicates this conjecture by maintaining, albeit without documentation, that Meta Liebeskind herself functioned as the intermediary for the letter of 22 April 1804 that is published (in full?) in the article in Der Freimüthige (included in supplementary appendix 392.1). Was the letter originally addressed to Meta’s husband, Johann Heinrich Liebeskind? The original title of the article may well have been the same as that in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, namely, “Huber,” or possibly “L. F. Huber,” and the staff at Der Freimüthige — N.B. in Berlin, where Huber had never even been before his journey during the autumn of 1804 — may simply have filled in the initials without further consultation (or been given incorrect information) with the common enough names “Leonhard” and “Friedrich.”

No one who even distantly knew of Huber’s editorial and literary activity seems likely to have committed such an error, and the attribution at the end of the article, “—r,” could arguably simply stand for “[Therese Hube]r.” In any event, Caroline’s suspicion in this letter, namely, that “the latter [viz., the article in Der Freimüthige] seems not to have come about without her participation,” is probably correct. Back.

[3] Concerning the Xenien in question, see supplementary appendix 392.1, note 2. Back.

[4] Goethe rather than Schiller seems to have been the author of the xenion in question; see see supplementary appendix 392.1, note 2. Back.

[5] Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, along with Christian Gottfried Körner, the latter’s wife, Madam Körner, and the latter’s sister, Dora Stock, had played a key role in Schiller’s life during the 1780s. See esp. the Dora Stock’s biogram. Back.

[6] I.e., the right reproach for Schiller having pilloried Huber and Georg Forster in the Xenien. Back.

[7] See esp. Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s letter of 22 April 1804 cited in supplementary appendix 392.1, which allegedly gives Huber’s own justification of his departure from Mainz, his intervention on behalf of Forster’s wife and children, and his eventual marriage to Therese. Back.

[8] Therese Huber did just that in her swiftly prepared biography, L. F. Huber’s Sämtliche Werke seit dem Jahre 1802 nebst seiner Biographie, 4 vols. (Tübingen 1806), vol. 1, the biography occupying pp. 1–246, and Huber’s abridged letters to Christian Gottfried Körner pp. 247–447:


Caroline expresses her disgust with the edition in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419); see esp. note 38 there. Back.

[9] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Les confessions, 2 vols. (Geneva 1782, 1789), the veracity of which has long been debated (illustration: “The visit of Madame d’Houdetot,” from The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, vol. 9 [Philadelphia 1902], 233):



[10] Concerning Caroline’s original assessment of Therese’s and Huber’s departures from Mainz in late 1792 and the attendant circumstances, see esp. the second paragraph of her letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 17 December 1792 (letter 119) with the explanatory footnotes. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott