Letter 396b

396b. Henriette von Hoven to Charlotte Schiller in Weimar: Würzburg, 17 September 1805 [*]

Würzburg, 17 September 1805

How overjoyed I was at your letter, my precious, dear friend, and at the arrival of loyal Rudolph. He told me much about all of you. My tears flowed in torrents when he spoke about Schiller. [1] This manservant’s affection profoundly moved me; he had to remain here a day longer and tell his stories until late into the night. [2]

Do come visit me this coming year, my dear friend! Let us dwell in the past, where nothing can disturb us. [3] And even should those feared ladies be present here, at least for us they will not be; indeed, I have so little contact with them that I always simply view them as being perpetually absent. [4] We rarely see one another, and even when we do, we pass by one another coldly.

I am accustomed to the intimate company of sincere people, whereas these women are sincere with no one. Whenever they are together, they act cordial and intimate, eat heartily together, laugh at those who are absent, and then afterward criticize one another. Although Madam Niethammer may well have considerable understanding and be quite nice, I nonetheless avoid her company; but the gentlemen Paulus, Hoven, and Niethammer are often together. Although Madam Schelling goes her own, solitary way, she is less hostile to Niethammer than toward the other two. Those who are acquainted with them prefer Madam Hufeland; they think she is good-natured.

Paulus is quite right with his complaints about disharmony; to me most of the professors here seem like theater people. Those in good standing are envied by the others, and yet are themselves the least satisfied with their own situation, and would still be so even were their income doubled. [5] They also complain about lack of esteem, and of respect. Of course, in a town like Würzburg, professors are not really the premier citizens, and respect — must be earned.

Paulus is not popular, people think he is sneaky, greedy for power, and self-seeking. I know not who rewarded him with ingratitude, just as little as I know to whom he obligated himself, though it seems likely to me that he means Count von Thürheim, whom he would like to have — controlled, and who did not allow such to happen.

Paulus was always quite cordial to us, accommodating, and courteous in person, then afterward raked us over the coals all the more, so now we are familiar with his way of doing things. Hoven’s good-naturedness and artlessness, and especially his openness were severely abused; the family refers to him with a nickname, with which every acquaintance is christened. I, too, was accorded that honor. They maintain that Hoven is “lacking” something in his cranium.

Soon we will be separated by a greater distance than earlier, and will see one another even less frequently. Niethammer would very much like to enhance his own standing and similarly wield power.

The Martinis are an extremely dignified family; the wife is especially charming. When Professor Fuchs returns to Jena, we will be losing a true friend and a man everyone respects; because he has spent a great deal of time here with us, he will be able to tell you much about us. Although the administration is loath to let him go, he is very attached to his fatherland, and especially to Jena.

We lost our apartment when the court arrived; [6] all the families who reside in the university have to vacate; [7] we are hoping to have a place in the hospital, the others will be receiving housing funds and can choose apartments in town. Inflation is also quite noticeable here and continues to increase in leaps and bounds since the court has been here. Once even the Bavarian military arrives in Franconia, the distress will be not inconsiderable. And if war breaks out, we will again be facing thousandfold misery and problems. [8] . . .


[*] Source: Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde 3:277–79. Back.

[1] Schiller had died on 9 May 1805; here on his deathbed (Gustav Könnecke, Bilderatlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Nationallitteratur, 2nd ed. [Marburg 1895], 319):



[2] Gottfried Rudolf was presumably on his way to Tübingen, where he entered the service of Schiller’s publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta (anonymous engraving, 18th century):



[3] Genealogische Kalender auf das Jahr 1810; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[4] The “feared ladies” are Karoline Paulus, Rosine Niethammer, Luise Hufeland, and Caroline. See the supplementary appendix on the “ladies’ war in Würzburg.” Back.

[5] Here actors bickering and quarreling backstage (Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1819: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet 1819; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] The Hovens had been living opposite the Schellings and above the Pauluses in the old university building (17th- or 18th-century engraving; Würzburg Universität, Universitätsarchiv):


See Luise Wiedemann’s letter to Caroline on 4 September 1805 (letter 396), note 3, also with supplementary appendix 396.1. Back.

[7] The Schellings did not, since they had opted not to accept a new apartment in the Borgia Building when its renovations were finished. See the pertinent section in the supplementary appendix on the Schellings’s residence in Würzburg. Back.

[8] Concerning the military situation, see the supplementary appendix on the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg, August–December 1805. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott