Letter 415

• 415. Caroline to Schelling in Munich: Würzburg, 17 May 1806 [*]

[Würzburg] Saturday, 17 May [1806]

I would say that the whole thing has been gotten through with gracefulness and dignity [1] — all the rooms are empty now, and the furniture, dispersed throughout Würzburg, has gone forth and is making disciples of all nations. [2] It went well, rarely less than and often more than my valuations. [Calculations.] I will tell you more about the fun and éclat of the whole scene when I see you in person, [3] |469| it was a paroli to your first lecture. [4] The total return to the extent I have been able to calculate up to this point, at least 1100 fl.

Ah, but it does pain me that I sold our Lord and Savior for 30 pieces of silver. [5] Had you not seduced me, I would surely have been devout enough not to have paid attention to eight of the daintiest ducats I will be bringing you in natura. [6] Through an incomparable mockery of fate that compelled our unfeeling Himmelstein — there not being any people with feeling present in any event, — your writing table, the gray one, went to the prince elector’s cook. Someone later tried to negotiate the piece away from him, but he was not to be persuaded.

There were ½ dozen Italians here. — The rivalry between the two presidential wives emerged in all its glory, though diminutive Madam Wagner was ultimately unable to come away with anything more than the small brown commode, for which, instead of 16 fl. — which was the most it may have cost even new — she paid 20 fl. 40 kr. [7] [Compensation business. [8] Journey.]

I will write you once more before I depart to arrange where we will meet — for I cannot yet say for sure. [9]

The business with the maidservant has again taken a step backward [10] — although she, who was herself so full of fire and life, had probably already resolved to try her fortune also in Munich, her mother is now anxious; it is, moreover, even more probable that the gentlemen von Guttenberge, Zobel, and that sort are keeping the beautiful child here, something I only recently learned by chance. [11] How, in any event, could such a flower manage to blossom untouched in Würzburg?

Then another girl, one who had followed her lover, the coachman from Minulli, found him sick and no longer wanted to marry him. She sounded the alarm as if there were nothing there [Munich] but inflation, epidemics, sick bridegrooms — nothing, that is, but beer. In brief: considerable |470| annoyance at the plentiful bounty here in Würzburg. She is also maintaining that all the Würzburg citizens there are grievously “hated” and “persecuted” [12] . . .

[So] I will take along with me the loyal creature I already have . . . and as far as the initial, more difficult period is concerned, she does, after all, already know the smaller habits of keeping our household. I only decided this today. [13]

Between today and Monday I will take care of all the requests you made in your last letter. [14]

Stay well, my heart — I must continue to count money.

The prince elector himself got my tea table for 20 fl.


[*] Caroline is writing after the conclusion of the auction of her household goods and furnishings, which was scheduled for both Friday and Saturday, 16–17 May 1806; in her letter to Schelling on 19 May 1806 (letter 416), Caroline mentions only that it was successfully held on 16 May, i.e., she does not mention both days. See below. Back.

[1] “Gracefulness and dignity”: Caroline is invoking Schiller’s influential treatise Ueber Anmuth und Würde, initially published in Neue Thalia 3, no. 2 (1793) 115–230; trans. by Jane V. Curran as Schiller’s “On Grace and Dignity” in Its Cultural Context: Essays and a New Translation, ed. Jane V. Curran and Christophe Fricker (Rochester, NY 2005), 123–70.

In her letter to Schelling on 19 May 1806 (letter 416), Caroline mentions that her auction of household items and furnishings on 16 and 17 May 1806 was a success despite it not having been announced on 9 May 1806, i.e., a week ahead in the Würzburger Intelligenzblatt (1806) 53 (Friday, 9 May 1806). It was instead announced a mere two days before the auction:


“For Sale,” Würzburg Intelligenzblatt (1806) 55 (Wednesday, 14 May 1806), 467–68, here 467:

(2) On Friday, 16 May [1806] and the following day, from 10:00 a.m. till noon, and from 3:00 till 6:00 p.m., various home furnishings will be publicly auctioned and immediately released upon cash payment in the second story of the university building above the library, such as: canapés [sofas, settees], divans, chairs, mirrors, commodes, desks, gaming tables, writing tables, dining and other tables, oven screens, bed frames, cabinets, etc.; also various household utensils such as a large washing roller, washing vessels, copper washing kettles, hanging and portable lanterns, glassware, a woven food cabinet, and various other kitchen utensils, similarly also an excellent piano made in Dresden and two antique, three-armed hanging lamps for lighting rooms.

The auction had been held on the floor with Schelling’s former auditorium in two rooms below Caroline’s apartment but above the library (see her letter to Schelling on 15 May 1806 [letter 413]; illustrations: [1] Universität Würzburg, Universitätsarchiv; [2] Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 8 [Vienna 1782], plate 24):



By all accounts, Caroline and Schelling were living in comfortable bourgeois style in Würzburg, or even in loftier style given Schelling’s position and reputation at the university and especially given the generously appointed living quarters they occupied in the old university building throughout their stay in Würzburg.

The auction listings (see also below concerning items still not sold after their departure) suggest that they occupied an apartment with furnishings certainly equal to those of, e.g., Goethe and Schiller in Weimar (first two illustrations below), and no less stylish or well appointed even than the apartments of persons associated with the Weimar court (final two illustrations below).

That is, although no illustrations of the Schellings’ apartment in Würzburg seems to exist, the photographs below arguably represent how one might imagine their Würzburg residence: (1) the Juno room in Goethe’s house in Weimar; (2) the living room in Schiller’s house in Weimar; and especially (3 and 4) two views of the living room of the lady at court Thusnelda von Göchhausen as it looked ca. 1800 in Tiefurt.

Compare especially the remarkably similar furnishings in the latter two photos with those listed above, even down to the oven screens, piano, sofas, three-armed hanging lamps, divans, chairs, mirrors, commodes, and tea table (C. H. Baer, ed. Deutsche Wohn- & Festräume aus sechs Jahrhunderten [Stuttgart 1912], 207–8):

Goethe’s Juno Room


Schiller’s Living Room


Thusnelda von Göchhausen’s Living Room in Tiefurt



Note in the greater detail of the same room the bed niche (with bed frame) behind the curtains (drawing by Wilhelm Wieger, Weimarische Interieurs aus der Goethezeit: 16 Handzeichnungen [Weimar 1912], plate 15):


The entry “Mixed Announcements” in the same Würzburger Intelligenzblatt (1806) 55 (Wednesday, 14 May 1806), but now on p. 472, mentions the wife of a certain Bavarian artillery captain Roppelt as the contact person for a “single individual” seeking a travelling companion to Munich:


By the end of May or beginning of June, a single individual will be traveling alone to Munich; since a comfortable seat is still available in the conveyance, this individual would like to secure a traveling companion. For more details, contact the wife of Royal Bavarian Artillery Captain Roppelt in the Vornberger house across the Main River, no. 142.

See Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 15 May 1806 (letter 413), note 10, for more information on this advertisement and the location of the house.

The wife of this same Captain Roppelt reappears, moreover, at the same address, in the Würzburg Intelligenzblatt the day after Caroline’s departure, namely, no. 58 on Friday, 21 May 1806, here pp. 499–500 under “For Sale”:


(3) Several new pieces of furniture are for sale privately, including: a mirror, canapé [sofa, settee], chair, commode, bracket clocks; everything is quite new and modern, and can be purchased cheaply. For more details, contact the wife of Bavarian Artillery Captain Roppelt in the Vornberg house across the Main River, no. 142.

That is, Caroline apparently did not sell all the items she wished, as is still often the case with estate and moving sales, whereupon the wife of Captain Roppelt was enlisted to dispose of the remaining items after similarly having been enlisted to help Caroline find a traveling companion. Back.

[2] Matt. 28:19 (NRSV), what is known as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Christoph Weigel, Historia von Iesu Christi unsers Heylandes Geburt, Lebenswandel, Wunderwercken, Gleichnußreden, Leiden, Sterben, Auferstehen und Himmelfahrt: Zur Einpflanßung von Jugend auf, und state Unterhaltung Gottseelige betrachtungen auß denen heyligen Evangelisten Mattheo, Marco, Luca, und Johanne, vorgebildet [Augsburg 1695]):



[3] Éclat, Fr., variously “burst, crash, sudden uproar; pomp, magnificence.” Back.

[4] Paroli, here: “equal,” from Italian paro “equal,” from Latin par. Back.

[5] Otherwise uncertain illusion (to a work of art?) to Matthew 26:14–15, 47–50 (NRSV):

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him [Jesus] to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him . . . Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

(Giovanni Lanfranco, Judas Ischariot erhält das Geld für den Verrat; Judas Ischariot verrät Jesus durch einen Kuss [ca. 1676–1700]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 2456, Graph. A1: 2469; original illustrations from Christoph Weigel, Historia von Iesu Christi unsers Heylandes Geburt, Lebenswandel, Wunderwercken, Gleichnußreden, Leiden, Sterben, Auferstehen und Himmelfahrt: Zur Einpflanßung von Jugend auf, und state Unterhaltung Gottseelige betrachtungen auß denen heyligen Evangelisten Mattheo, Marco, Luca, und Johanne, vorgebildet [Augsburg 1695]):




[6] In natura, Latin, here: “in nature,” here: “in their natural form, fig.: in the flesh.” Back.

[7] The two “presidential wives” are Maria Apollonia Seuffert and Jeanette Wagner.

The small brown Kommode Caroline sold was likely similar to the one in front of the mirror in the following period illustration (Carl Albert von Lespilliez, [Eine Kommode, darüber ein großer Wandspiegel und ein Gemälde, rechts und links verzierte Pilaster] [1743–96]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur CAVLespilliez AB 3.5):



[8] Concerning this issue, see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 15 May 1806 (letter 413), note 1. Back.

[9] Over the past several letters, Caroline has hitherto only mentioned having Schelling come out and meet her in Dachau, northwest of Munich (A. von Coulon, Post-Karte von Baiern [Munich 1810]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



[10] Caroline just discussed this issue with Schelling in her letter to him on 15 May 1806 (letter 413); see also her letter to him on 4–5 May 1806 (letter 407), also with note 11 there. Back.

[11] Because several men in Würzburg bore the surname Guttenberg and Zobel at this time, determining the specific identity of these two gentlemen is difficult. See, however, the account of the prince elector’s grand ride through Würzburg, at least part of which Caroline herself accompanied in a carriage, in which both names occur along the route (Zoblicher Hof [Schulstraße 66]; Guttenbergischer Hof [Herrengasse 579]; Guttenberg Hof [Sandergasse 250]). Back.

[12] The reference to the coachmen is uncertain.

The maidservant seems in any case to have followed him to Munich, discovered that she did not want to marry after all, and, to excuse her change of heart, produced a plethora of contrived reasons militating against anyone from Würzburg contemplating living in Munich ([1] illustration: Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1806; [2] map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[13] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Vrouwelijke bedienden (1780); Rijksmuseum:




[14] Because Monday would be 19 May 1806, Caroline seems to have decided definitively to depart on Tuesday, 20 May, albeit still without definite plans concerning where Schelling is to meet her. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott