Letter 420

• 420. Caroline to Luise Gotter and her daughters in Gotha: Munich, 4 January 1807

Munich, 4 Jan[uary] 1807

To the mother and her three daughters [1]

|482| I hope all of you were as pleased as I when you discovered that our dispositions, like our letters, met halfway en route. Although at first I thought your letter was merely a hasty response, it turned out to be something considerably better, namely, an answer that had divined the question. And although such divination does involve so-called “natural” magic, I for my part consider all of you to be supernaturally gifted in any case —

Take you, for example, my dear Pauline, you who there in the Thuringian Forest are suddenly speaking Italian like a native of Rome, while I here, so close to the actual land of lemons and olive groves, [2] can hardly string six words of that Latinate language together without it ending up being Pig Latin; what, pray, is one to make of that? How I would love to hear you speaking these foreign tongues in person; if only all of you were not so far away. [3]

See whether, |483| amid your many other arts, you might not also find a way to come to me, one after the other, without horses and carriages, that you might offer me your gracious and instructive company amid the solitude of this capital city. [4] We might grant to our little Gries, however, that solely he himself might read Tasso and, even more so, Messer Ludovico Ariosto in the original language, for the comparison demonstrates more than is favorable to him that he is deaf and otherwise not particularly animated. [4a]

This diminutive gentleman visited me shortly before I left Würzburg; he was traveling on to Heidelberg after leaving Jena for good, no doubt with a presentiment that its ruin was imminent, similar to the premonition storks and other domestic birds have when leaving towns whose walls and towers are about to be laid waste. [5] And how have I myself wept for Jena and all its peaceful hills. [6] When you so flippantly mention the shame and how the elder Kraus died amid it all, [7] I am tempted to say:

You almost like a Frenchman prate — [8]

At first I thought it was merely a joke, but since Kraus really is dead, he genuinely must have had to pluck chickens. [9] A bit of boot polishing will admittedly certainly not do Augusti any harm. [10] Although amid such upheaval many things and many people are indeed put in their proper place again, surely a lady as young as you should have a more sensitive disposition! [11]

Tiek probably just managed to arrive home before the monarchy collapsed in on his head; [12] no one has any news of him. Baron Knorring recently passed through here on his way from Rome to Saxony — he left Madam Bernhardi and Friedrich Tiek behind there and will also return himself, buy a small villa near Rome, |484| and Madame will probably then become Baronesse. [13]

But alas, how all those who at one time were gathered together in Jena in such an intimate circle are now dispersed throughout the world, teaching all the gentiles. [14] My sorrow is only that they no longer poetize together — we at least hear nothing more of their songs.

By contrast, others, my dear Cäcilie, emerge, and even the most resolutely doubting Thomas [15] will simply have to believe in inspiration when he sees little Thomas complete such works born of enthusiasm. He carried letters to the beaux-esprits so long that he himself became one of them. [16] The really characteristic element here is the homage to women, and especially to his own wife — which is a custom of the age. —

But happy the land in which the prince and the letter carrier provide idylls and ideals. [17] Is it not correct that otherwise you really have no writers at all? Your Ast has been transplanted to our Landeshut, [18] where although he is indeed producing little branches since marrying his Lucinde, [19] he does not really seem to want to become a proper trunk. —

Were you still an artist, St. Cäcilie, [20] what stories could I tell you about the treasures in our gallery here, which through the acquisition of the Düsseldorf gallery has grown into what is at least the 2nd best collection in Germany. [21] (May God grant that Dresden remain the first!) Of course, despite this, I could still tell you about it, since you have doubtless remained an aficionado, [22] it is merely difficult to know where to start.

Among the various advantages of our present circumstances, the one I treasure most is being in a position to view such a collection daily. Although I have not yet really acquired as many or as unequivocal points of tranquility there as in the Dresden gallery, [23] I would nonetheless wish that all those whom I wish well in any case might also have the opportunity to view the Ascension of Mary by Guido Reni and St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness. [24] — An academy for painting and drawing will be established here under the direction of the Langers of Düsseldorf. [25]

|485| And who knows, my precious Julchen, whether a certain Hummel from Kassel will not be summoned here. [26] For there, too, it seems that the arts and muses are being torn asunder, and all the sublime refugees are finding shelter here with us. [27]Iffland, to be sure, was rejected here; the entirety of the theater personnel along with all the politicians opposed it because Iffland had become tainted in Berlin for having expressed political, that is, non-political, anti-French sentiments in the theater. [28]

I hardly ever attend the theater here, and when I do, it is only for the opera. The building itself is too small, one cannot find a seat, and the entire institution suffers from an annoyingly stingy style. [29]. I heard Brizzi sing in Achilles this summer, [30] and Brizzi, Mademoiselle Bertinotti, and Mademoiselle Schmalz in the Horatii, all of which was certainly worth the effort. [31] So what is Julchen really pursuing now — the useful arts or the fine arts?

And now I turn my attention to your dear mother. You see, my dear friend, that I was sincerely concerned with hearing precisely what you did indeed write to me, and that you for your part were just as concerned with hearing what I wrote, for if I am not terribly mistaken, I asked you about my brother just as you asked me about my mother and sister.

The storms of war just barely missed the latter two, the watershed extending virtually from the gates of Kiel itself on over to Lübeck. [32] I do not really believe, however, that they will get by entirely without visitors in this sense; the best they can probably hope for is to end up with a modest occupation by the French. Mother is healthier in Kiel than before despite the damp, harsh climate. Wiedemann is doing well; the two little girls are still alive and are comfort itself for their mother. [33]

But how torn asunder does the entire world look just now — what colossal misery, devastated prosperity, what wickedness — what total lack of even the most basic element of security. Nor does one |486| hear anything different from either near or far. How must the people now feel who are genuinely caught in the middle with both body and soul and who are unable to envelope themselves in an atmosphere into which such things merely seem to penetrate? I would much rather have been living in a village right at the battlefront in Jena and been trampled to death with all the others than to have my soul infected by this abominable confusion of all that is moral. [34]

But I am extremely fortunate to have the aegis alongside me here, for even if the entirety of this world of propriety and respectability were to perish in all its old forms, an immutable world nevertheless emerges for me against the backdrop of an even more beautiful horizon. He in whom I find it is an inexhaustible spring of all that is magnificent and comforting.

Perhaps my brother is simply not writing to you now, or, if so, with such caution that little can be gleaned from his letters concerning the real state of affairs. [35] There is allegedly unrest there. [36]

Here everything is extremely quiet; the citizens are manning the guard posts of the capital because we have dispatched literally the entire Militair elsewhere. [37] I often feel as if I am living in a handsome little town out in the country. The circle of those with whom I have social contact is quite small, nor do we ourselves wish it otherwise. Those whom I see a great deal include Weishaupt’s nièce and sister, who is a splendid elderly woman. She corresponds quite often with her brother and is always eager to hear anything about him third-hand as well, though you probably do not really see him. He again lost much with Prince August [38] — but do tell me whether all of you, too, have had to forfeit much in that regard. He probably could have left something to your daughters. [39]

Your dear, deceased sister-in-law is doubtless doing well now. [40] But how is Aunt Lenchen managing to deal with it, [41] and your dear father? — Give my regards to Minchen and please keep me informed about what |487| has changed in your lives for good or ill — I must at least know how all of you are doing.

Madam Wiebeking has a couple of extremely charming daughters. Feel free to relate that to Madam Siegfried. [42] In Fanny I sense a bit of the éducation of ma chère mere [43]

We once viewed copper engravings after Raphael amid a rather large company, and Fanny and I were the only ones who knew who the people were who were being portrayed, Plato, Diogène, Epicure, etc. in the School of Athens. [44] Here they know only about Jes Mari Josep! [45]

Stay very well, all of you, whom I also greet as allies insofar as you have now also joined the Confederation of the Rhine. [46]

C. S.


[1] Caroline addresses each of the three daughters and Luise Gotter in turn. Back.

[2] I.e., so much closer to Italy (Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. [New York 1921], 151):


Caroline is alluding as well to Goethe’s poem “Know’st thou the land where the lemon tree blows”, sung by Mignon in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Back.

[3] Gotha is located ca. 375 km from Munich (Thomas Kitchin, Germany [n.p., n.d.]):



[4] A revealing statement insofar as Munich had a population of ca. 40,000 inhabitants at the time. As this and coming letters reveal, Caroline had considerable social contacts in Munich; it is nonetheless uncertain the extent to which her marriage to a person who had become something of a persona non grata in Bavaria might have affected her social contacts. See in this connection Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 11 January 1807, esp. with note 5.

Caroline is otherwise alluding to the difficulty in traveling through areas still subject to French occupation and military movements. Back.

[4a] Gries, despite Caroline’s teasing, had produced what are even today still highly respected translations of Ariosto, Tasso, and Calderon. Back.

[5] Here Heidelberg with, as Caroline coincidentally implies, storks still nesting in the chimneys at left (Matthäus Merian, Zu Heidelberg [ca. 1622–24]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur MMerian AB 3.212):


Concerning Johann Diederich Gries’s visit, Ariosto, and Heidelberg, see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 9–10 May 1806 (letter 409), notes 5 and 6. Gries had also earlier translated Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered). (1580) as Befreites Jerusalem, 4 vols. (Jena 1800–1803). Back.

[6] Concerning Jena’s fate following the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, see the preceding letters in this collection and esp. Johanna Frommann’s account of her experiences in Jena, October 1806. Back.

[7] Uncertain allusion to Pauline’s remark, since we do not have the Gotters’ letter to which Caroline is here responding. Back.

[8] Spoken by Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust vs. 2645; translation from Faust. A Tragedy, trans. Bayard Taylor (Boston, New York 1870), 113–14; the scene is “A Street”; initially present on stage are Faust and Margaret (illustration: from a series of scenes in Urania: Taschenbuch für Damen auf ds Jahr 1815, Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

Faust. Fair lady, let it not offend you,
That arm and escort I would lend you!

Margaret. I’m neither lady, neither fair,
And home I can go without your care. [She releases herself, and exit.]


Faust.By Heaven, the girl is wondrous fair!
Of all I’ve seen, beyond compare;
So sweetly virtuous and pure,
And yet a little pert, be sure!
The lip so red, the cheek’s clear dawn,
I’ll not forget while the world rolls on!
How she cast down her timid eyes,
Deep in my heart imprinted lies:
How short and sharp of speech, was she,
Why, ‘t was a real ecstasy!

(Mephistopheles enters.)

Faust. Hear, of that girl I’d have possession!

Mephistopheles. Which, then?

Faust. The one who just went by.

Mephistopheles. She, there? She’s coming from confession,
Of every sin absolved; for I,
Behind her chair, was listening nigh.
So innocent is she, indeed,
That to confess she had no need.
I have no power o’er souls so green.

Faust. And yet, she’s older than fourteen.

Mephistopheles. How now! You’re talking like Jack Rake,
Who every flower for himself would take,
And fancies there are no favors more,
Nor honors, save for him in store;
Yet always does n’t the thing succeed.

Faust. Most Worthy Pedagogue, take heed!
Let not a word of moral law be spoken!
I claim, I tell thee, all my right;
And if that image of delight
Rest not within mine arms to-night,
At midnight is our compact broken.

Mephistopheles. But think, the chance of the case!
I need, at least, a fortnight’s space,
To find an opportune occasion.

Faust. Had I but seven hours for all,
I should not on the Devil call,
But win her by my own persuasion.

Mephistopheles. You almost like a Frenchman prate;
Yet, pray, don’t take it as annoyance!
Why, all at once, exhaust the joyance?
Your bliss is by no means so great
As if you’d use, to get control,
All sorts of tender rigmarole,
And knead and shape her to your thought,
As in Italian tales ‘t is taught. Back.

[9] Caroline is speaking literally rather than figuratively. Georg Melchior Kraus had died on 5 November 1806. Because he had tried to stop French soldiers from ransacking his house, they made him perform tasks of menial labor throughout the night of 14–15 October 1806.

Justus Christian Loder wrote from St. Petersburg to the physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland in Berlin on 24 March 1807, remarking after a few words about how Weimar fared during the battles in October 1806 (Loder had his information from August Karl Baron von und zu Egloffstein; Ludwig Geiger, Aus Alt-Weimar. Mittheilungen von Zeitgenossen [Berlin 1897], 101): “Poor Kraus, who lost everything, had to pluck chickens and was terribly abused because he had no more wine to give; he died at Bertuch’s house the next day.”

See also Richard and Robert Keil, Goethe, Weimar und Jena im Jahre 1806: nach Goethes Privatacten: am fünfzigjährigen Todestage Goethes herausgegeben (Leipzig 1882), 126–27 (illustrations: [1] Thomann von Hagelstein, Tobias Heinrich, Wo es ans Plündern geht kann nichts im Sichern bleiben [ca. 1720–64]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur THThoman AB 2.3; [2] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Begräbnis [ca. 1751–1800]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 428a; [3] Höltys Elegie auf ein Landmädchen [1794]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.985):

Georg Melchior Kraus . . . fell prey to plundering during that frightful night of 14—15 October. The brutish French soldiers completely plundered this single, seventy-three-year-old man who lived alone, who had to surrender almost everything he owned. And when he finally had no more wine to give, these brutal men not only destroyed many of his beautiful drawings, but also horrifically abused this elderly man himself. His house was set afire.


Now homeless and without shelter, the poor old man fled to the castle and then to his friend Bertuch, where he fell gravely ill from the abuse he had suffered, and died on the evening of 5 November.


All of Weimar shared its grief for the popular artist and teacher, particularly Goethe himself. The interment took place on 9 November. Eight artists, all of whom Kraus had trained, carried their teacher to his grave, and all his friends and pupils accompanied the casket, which while being lowered into the grave was adorned with a laurel wreath by a girl, one of his students, in the name of them all.


Despite his own shyness in the face of funerals, Goethe’s grief prompted him to participate in the interment of this unfortunate friends [it was the last he ever attended]. Back.

[10] Caroline is again referring to French occupation soldiers forcing residents of Weimar as a conquered, hostile town to perform menial, subservient tasks for them. Johann Christian Wilhelm Augusti had famously caused trouble for Friedrich Schlegel during the latter’s dissertation defense back on 14 March 1801; see supplementary appendix 303.1. Caroline refers to Augusti as a “dimwit” in her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 June 1801 (letter 322). Back.

[11] Pauline Gotter had just turned twenty years old (representative illustration: Wiener Damenkalender zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1800; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning Weimar residents’ experiences after the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, see the supplementary appendix 417g.1. Back.

[12] I.e., back to Berlin; Tieck was a native of Berlin.

Napoleon had entered Berlin on 27 October 1806 after Friedrich Wilhelm III and Queen Luise had fled the capital. Just after Christmas they similarly had to flee Königsberg for Memel (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; illustration: Queen Luise of Prussia, ill with typhus, during her flight to Memel, from Hermann Müller-Bohn, Die deutschen Befreiungskriege Deutschlands Geschichte von 1806–1815, vol. 2 [Berlin 1901], 108):



[13] During the summer of 1805, Ludwig Tieck had followed his sister, Sophie Bernhardi, and her two children, Wilhelm and Felix Theodor Bernhardi, to Rome for a lengthy stay and was only just now returning to Berlin (Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. [New York 1921], 151):


Sophie Bernhardi had separated from her husband, August Ferdinand Bernhardi. In Rome her relationship with the Baltic baron Karl Gregor von Knorring ultimately led to her divorce from Bernhardi in 1807, when she also returned north, first to Vienna, then in 1808 to Munich (references to this peculiar journey are made later in this correspondence), where she remained through 1811 (Thomas Kitchin, Map of Germany [ca. 1780]):


In 1810 (or 1811 or 1812; date uncertain) she married Knorring, after which she followed him back to Estonia.

Some sources recounting the life of Sophie’s son Felix Theodor Bernhardi between 1812 and 1820 identify the initial residence as Aruküla Manor, northwest of the later residence Ervita (see below) and just to the southeast of Reval (Talinn). Here the location and a photograph of the Aruküla manor house in 1938 (map: Eesti Kaart. Carte d’ Esthonie; photograph: Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia Kodu-uurimise Selts):



Ervita Manor was presumably the second estate on which Sophie lived with Knorring later, a tiny, essentially isolated rural estate southeast of the capital Reval (Talinn), here also in a closer excerpt from the same map (Eesti Kaart. Carte d’ Esthonie [Paris 1920]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



Here the main (traditional long) building of Ervita Manor on a twentieth-century postcard:


As Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:657, points out in any case that this daughter of a Berlin rope maker ultimately managed to hold her own among the demanding milieu of German-Russian aristocracy.

Concerning Ludwig Tieck’s earlier itinerary, see Dorothea Schlegel’s letters to Karoline Paulus on 13 January 1805 (letter 389a) and on 24 March 1805 (letter 392a). Concerning the three Tieck siblings’ earlier stay in Rome, see also Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 1 December 1805 (letter 399), note 17. Back.

[14] See 1 Timothy 2:7 (NRSV), the apostle Paul speaks about his commission: “For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Here Paul preaches on the Areopagus in Athens (Claude Du Bosc, Raffael Sanzio, Paulus Praedicans in Areopago [ca. 1702–45]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur CDubosc AB 2.7):



[15] John 20:24–29 (NRSV) (illustration: Crispin van den Broeck, Der ungläubige Thomas [1585]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur GdJode-Verlag AB 3.164):

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”


Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Back.

[16] Fr. bel esprit, lit. “fine mind”; here: pl. for “persons of great wit or intellect.” Back.

[17] The “prince” is Duke Emil Leopold August of Saxony-Gotha, who in 1805 had published Kyllenion oder ein Jahr in Arkadien (Gotha 1805), a slightly scandalous publication that relates tales of both traditional and homoerotic love set in ancient Greece. For reactions and excerpts, see supplementary appendix 395.1. Caroline mentions it disparagingly in her letter to Pauline Gotter in August 1805 (letter 395).

The letter carrier is Johann Caspar Thomas (Herzoglich-Sachsen-Gotha- und Altenburgischer Hof- und Adress-Kalender: auf das Jahr 1786 [Gotha 1786], 11), who in 1806 had published a modest, anonymous volume of poetry (Kurt Schmidt, Gotha, das Buch einer deutschen Stadt, vol. 2 [Gotha 1938], 349; Max Berbig, “Caroline von Schelling und Therese Huber in ihren Beziehungen zu Gotha,” Mitteilungen des Vereinigung für Gothaische Geschichte und Alterumsforschung [Gotha 1925], 11–25). In 1806 Thomas seems also to have published Über Kirchhöfe und den sogenannten alten Gottesacker zu Gotha (Gotha 1806). The copy in the Universitäts- und Forschungsbibliothek Erfurt/Gotha Forschungsbibliothek Gotha bears the handwritten author information: Thomas, Brieftäger auf der fahrenden Post (Thomas, letter carrier with the postal coach).

See Friedrich Jacobs, Personalien (Leipzig 1840), 61–63:

At the time [1803], Madame de Staël was seeking a tutor for her children, and because she had earlier had a young man from our area with whom she was quite satisfied and who in fact had died in her house, she sought his successor among us. But her wish could not be fulfilled at that time. In the meantime, however, she was quite fixated on the idea, and since she had by chance come across a French translation of a sermon by Löffler that quite pleased her, and because she heard that the translator, a certain Herr Thomas, resided in Gotha, she believed she had found the man for the job, namely, a German who knew French so well and who was a countryman of her late tutor.

This man, however, was a letter carrier for the postal coach, and though quite educated for his class, was nonetheless utterly unsuited to reside in the family of so genteel a lady and work as a tutor to her children; he was, moreover, married. And thus her hopes came to nothing, and she found it necessary to look elsewhere. [She ultimately chose Wilhelm Schlegel, who remained part of her entourage till her death in 1817.] Back.

[18] A wordplay on Friedrich Ast’s name, Germ. “branch, limb, bough,” and the town to which he had been transferred, Landshut, whose orthography Caroline and Schelling (see below) alter slightly (Landeshut) to mean “hat of the country/state”; viz., Gotha’s “branch” was transferred (as adornment) to Bavaria’s “hat” (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


See also Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 11 January 1807 (letter 420a). Back.

[19] Ast had attended lectures by Friedrich Schlegel while a student in Jena, whence presumably the (catty?) allusion to his wife (unidentified) as the title character in Friedrich’s scandalous novel. Back.

[20] St. Cecile (Germ. Cäcilia von Rom) is the patron saint of church music in the Catholic Church (Johann Jacob Kilian, S. Caecilia [ca. 1701–25]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 1282):



[21] That is, the second best after Dresden with its gallery and, presumably intended here as well, antiquities collection (see below).

The art gallery in Munich during Caroline’s residency was located in the arcades that ran along the northern perimeter of the Royal Gardens; by 1837 that street was appropriately named Galleriestrasse. Caroline would not have visited the Pinakothek, which was not built until later (today: Old Pinakothek) and was located to the west, though the considerations prompting that gallery’s construction had already arisen with the acquisition of so many collections over recent years.

Concerning both galleries and the developments that led to the transfer of the collections to the Old Pinakothek, see the supplementary appendix on the Munich art gallery at the Royal Gardens arcade. Back.

[22] Cäcilie seems to have abandoned her plans to become a portraitist, plans Caroline spent several years trying to help promote. Among the many letters documenting Caroline’s attempts to help, see, e.g., those to Wilhelm Schlegel in late June 1802 (letter 366), also note 1 there, and to Julie Gotter on 15 June 1802 (letter 363), note 7, with additional cross references. Back.

[23] Caroline and several others spent part of the summer of 1798 in Dresden, where they regularly visited both the art gallery and the antiquities collection. One of the results of that visit was “Die Gemählde. Ein Gespräch von W,” Athenaeum (1799), 39–151. Back.

[24] See supplementary appendix 420.1:



[25] Peter Langer and Joseph Langer. Back.

[26] Hummel settled permanently in Berlin instead. Back.

[27] Concerning Kassel’s fate during the latest geopolitical developments in Germany, see the supplementary appendix on Hesse-Cassel after the battles of Jena and Auerstedt.

Caroline is beginning to toy, wistfully, with the idea that Munich might eventually provide a circle of writers (“My sorrow is only that they no longer poetize together — we at least hear nothing more of their songs”) and artists similar to that previously in Jena and Weimar, including with former members such as, e.g., Ludwig Tieck. Back.

[28] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 28 November 1806 (letter 418), note 12. Back.

[29] During Caroline’s time in Munich, the opera house was located on Max Joseph Square just next to and connected with the residential palace; the Schellings’ apartment is at left (Johann Michael Schramm, Grundriss der Churbaierischen Haupt- und Residenzstadt München [Munich 1803]):


The “opera house,” however, was also known as the Residence Theater, or the Cuvilliés Theater (after its architect), whence Caroline’s reference to it as the “theater.” It was originally built solely for the performance of Italian operas during the carnival period and solely for an audience of those who were socially accepted at court, which explains not only its limited number of seats (here Caroline is quite right; see the illustrations below), but also the later impetus for the construction of a larger royal theater. It had been opened in 1753 after the original residence theater — inside the residence itself — had burned and the reigning sovereign did not want to risk such a disaster again. Here the theater interior in 1765 arranged for a court ball rather than an opera (Ignaz Günther, François de Cuvilliés, Bühnendekoration für den Dominoball im Münchner Cuvilliés-Theater [Munich after 1765]; Deutsches Theatermuseum Inventory no. VII 1202; F 835):


Here the interior of the theater in 1771 showing the stage at left, the loge arrangements all the way to the right, where the royalty sat, and, in cross section, the mechanisms below the parterre enabling the floor to be raised and lowered (Valerian Funck, Längsschnitt durch das kurfürstliche Residenztheater in München [Munich 1771]; Deutsches Theatermuseum Inventory number: VII 1102; F 833):


This new edifice was thus built connected with but separate from the Residence. As seen in the illustration below, Caroline is referring not to the “new” National Theater (also Hoftheater, “royal” theater) on Max Joseph Square, whose cornerstone was laid in 1811 and did not open until 1818, and which is thus not on the illustration from 1805, but rather to this “new” opera house or Residence Theater that had opened in 1753 and which, incidentally, had been open to the public since 1795; Napoleon had attended parts of two performances there in 1806.

Originally used primarily for Italian operas performed during the relatively short period of Fasching (carnival), after 1795 it was also used for German operas and plays. After the opening of the new Royal Theater on Max Joseph Square, it was again used only for Italian operas and appears on some maps as the “old opera.”

Here an illustration of the square in 1877, with, at bottom center, the older Residence Theater (to which Caroline is here referring) and, next to it, the National Theater, the latter of which Caroline never saw (T. Trautwein, Führer durch München und seine Umgebung [Munich 1877):


Here an 1805 illustration of the opera building or Residence Theater (“b” at center left) within the larger context of the square; “the letters aaaa indicate various parts of the Prince Electoral Residence, b is the new opera house, which His Prince Electoral Eminence [soon to be king] opened to the Royal and National Theater for the entertainment of the public” (Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805], xxv and xxvi [Saturday, 29 June 1805], n.p., plate xxvi):


Here a closer excerpt of the opera house (b) from the preceding illustration:


And here on an 1806 map of Munich; the opera house (Opernhaus) is indicated in the northeast corner of Max Joseph Square (Johann Carl Schleich, Thomas Green, and Joseph Consoni, Plan der Haupt und Residenzstadt München. 1806 [Munich 1806]):


See a bit later Alois Huber, München im Jahre 1819, vol. 1 (Munich 1819), 96–97:

The opera house is located southeast of the Residence — Maximilian III built it for special court celebrations and grand Italian operas. — Construction began in 1752 and was completed in 1765. — The theater itself is quite tall and enjoys handsome decorations . . . Some have criticized this opera house for having excessive decoration and ornamentation, with some visitors even saying that they feel uncomfortable in the building; in 1795, however, as a replacement for the older, dilapidated theater edifice on what is today Salvator Square, the opera house was designated anew as the Royal Theater, and since that time even the most dissatisfied visitor is completely persuaded by the quality of its appropriate attention to both the eye and the ear. —

Now, however, it might soon acquire its original designation anew after the grand National Theater is opened. . . . which occupies the eastern side of Max Joseph Square and with its façade, which faces west, offers a grand, magnificent view that in the future will be enhanced by a grand row of columns constituting its portal. Back.

[30] Ferdinando Paër’s two-act opera Achille, libretto by Giovanni De Gamerra (1801), one of Brizzi’s signature roles; it had debuted in Vienna in June 1801.


Caroline and Schelling may well have seen this opera in June 1807. Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi wrote to Schelling (undated, presumably) on Wednesday, 17 June 1807 (Fuhrmans 3:442):

The most urgent matter at the moment: Achilles, which is to be performed this evening. Sigra Bertinotti will be singing the role of Brisais. I have ordered a loge [standing loge subscriptions were introduced at the Munich opera in October 1806] — If I receive it, would you like one or two seats in it — or none?

The Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände (1807) 156 (Wednesday, 1 July 1807), 624, then published a full-column review, “Korrrespondenz-Nachrichten,” from Munich dated 18 June that began: “Yesterday [scil. Wednesday, 17 June 1807] Achilles by Pär was performed, in which Brizzi and Madam Bertinotti sang magnificently.” Fuhrmans 3:442fn1 is apparently mistaken that this June performance was the premiere of this particular opera in Munich, since Caroline mentions here that she had seen it the previous summer (1806). Back.

[31] The Horatii from Rome and the Curiatii from Alba are the protagonist families in the opera by Dominaco Cimarosa, Gli Orazi e i Curiazi, opera in three acts, libretto by Antonio Simeone Sografi (1797), set in Rome between two warring families connected by intermarriage that are seeking to end the hostilities through a final fight to the death between three members of each family (D. Weis, Gefecht der Horazier und Curiazier [Vienna 1797], on which the opera is based):


Back on 3 May 1805, a decree from (then) Prince Elector Max Joseph stipulated that two grand Italian operas were to be performed each year in Munich, and on 1 October of that year Antonio Brizzi was appointed producer for life at the opera and required to be present in Munich from March to July for the first six years of his tenure and thereafter permanently.

The director, Josef Marius Babo, was dismayed because of the anticipated extravagent production costs sure to be associated with these operas. Cimarosa’s Gli Orazi e i Curiazi was one of the five new operas performed in Munich during the season of 1806; it was produced by Brizzi and performed in Italian on 13 July 1806, the queen’s birthday, and repeated three more times, an unusually high number for Munich at the time; its “grandiose” production did indeed give Director Babo headaches even beforehand, requiring new set decorations as well as numerous new personnel (possibly as many as 208, with the Orazi requiring 8 new sets, 14 primary and 150 secondary actors) with new costumes.

Five different operas were performed in 1806. (Information here and above from Franz Grandaur, Chronik des Königlichen Hof- und National-theaters in München [Munich 1878], 61-65; also Max Zenger, Geschichte der Münchener Oper, ed. Theodor Kroyer [Munich 1923], 84–85).

Caroline does not mention the other operas she attended. The possibilities for newly performed pieces in 1806 were as follows (Franz Grandaur, Chronik des Königlichen Hof- und National-theaters in München, 64–65):

Five operas were performed for the first time in 1806. The first was Vogler’s Castor und Pollux, which was perormed on 16 January as a celebratory performance at the marriage of Princess Augusta and Eugen, viceroy of Italy [see supplementary appendix 400a.1]. At the opera’s conclusion, a sacrificial altar borne by the Graces rose with the letters “A” and “E” in sparkling fire. “Madame Renner, appearing as the tutelary spirit of Bavaria, sang a wonderfuly composed lied.” The work was repeated on 10 and 11 March. On 13 July, the queen’s birthday, Cimarosa’s Die Horazier und Curiazier [Gli Orazi e i Curiazi], staged by Brizzi, was performed in Italian and repeated three times.

Cherubini’s Faniska [premiered on 25 February 1806 in Vienna] followied in October. These pieces were joined by the two light operas, Die Intrigue durch das Fenster by Isouard, and Die Opernprobe, text and music by J. N. von Poissl.

The dramatist, novelist and novella writer Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811), who in January 1807 was himself arrested between Königsberg and Berlin by the French as a suspected spy, later extolled the Berlin native Auguste Schmalz in a distich as a fine coloratura singer. The occasion was a scandal in the Berlin theater in late 1810 (see Reinhold Steig, Heinrich von Kleist’s Berliner Kämpfe [Berlin, Stuttgart 1901], 225–29, here 227).

Two singers were competing for the lead role of Emmeline in Joseph Weigl’s Die Schweizer-Familie: eine lyrische Oper in drey Aufzügen (Vienna 1809): Auguste Schmalz, the favorite of the journal Berliner Abendblätter, and Emilie Herbst, the favorite of August Wilhelm Iffland. Both singers were currently giving guest performances in Berlin, but after Schmalz’s final performance as Camilla in Ferdinando Paër’s opera Camilla, ossia il sotteraneo (Vienna 1799), Iffland decided not to engage the native Berliner. Kleist, editor of the Berlinische Abendblätter at the time, issued a vague threat on 13 October 1810: “A local artist who is greatly admired is, we hear, about to leave the theater here precisely because of that. More details in a coming issue.” Instead of “more details,” however, on 17 October Kleist published the following distich using a play on words (“autumn wind,” Germ. Herbstwind):

To the Nightingale (When Mammsell Schmalz sang Camilla)

O nightingale, speak, where will you hide when the raging autumn wind
Roars and swooshes? — Why, in the throat of Mlle. Schmalz. Back.

[32] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 28 November 1806 (letter 418) concerning Caroline’s brother Fritz Michaelis, her mother, and Luise Wiedemann, and note 8 there concerning the military activities involving Lübeck and Kiel (“Central Europe: Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7,” Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. Sir Adolphus William Ward et al. [London 1912], map 92):



[33] Luise’s daughters were Emma and Minna Wiedemann (Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1802 für edle Weiber und Mädchen; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[34] Caroline is thinking not least about the abuse of citizenry as had occurred in Jena, Weimar, and other conquered towns and areas (Revolutions-Almanach von 1797 and 1800; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Accounts of the time relate that Napoleon (and his officers), when variously addressed about the devastation, misery, wanton disregard for human life and dignity allegedly characterizing the French army’s march through Germany during these months, often responded dismissively with remarks to the effect that such, unfortunately, was the nature of war, was out of his control, and could not be helped by him or anyone else in any case, or that he was merely a tool of providence (thus to Duchess Louise in Weimar; Friedrich von Müller, Erinnerungen aus den Kriegszeiten 1806–1813 [Hamburg 1906], 3). Back.

[35] Because of postal censors. Back.

[36] In the state of Hesse-Kassel; Fritz Michaelis lived and taught in Marburg. See (as noted above) the supplementary appendix on Hesse-Cassel after the battles of Jena and Auerstedt (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[37] In French in original, albeit with the orthography as written, Militair. Back.

[38] Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Bavarian Illuminati in 1776, had found protection and refuge in Gotha with Ernst II of Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg, who had died in 1804. Unfortunately, Ernst’s brother, August von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg, had also just died on 28 September 1806. Back.

[39] The implied relationship between the Gotters and Prince August is uncertain. Back.

[40] Puzzling reference presumably to a severely ill person who has passed away. Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter had three older biological sisters: Auguste, Julie, and Eleonore. One had died in 1768, another in 1767; Eleonore, the eldest, would not die until 1808. He also, however, had four stepsisters, née Avemann, his father having remarried in May 1762. One of the stepsisters was older, three were younger than Gotter; one, with the married name Meyer, eventually lived in Lyon (where Gotter visited her), and another married in Gotha and had at least one child.

Although Gotter had no biological brothers who lived to adulthood, he did have two stepbrothers, who were, however, already adults when his father remarried and otherwise played no role in his life. So this odd reference, if not — distantly — to the wife of one of those stepbrothers, is presumably to one of the stepsisters. Without Luise’s letter to which Caroline is responding or without dates, however, it is difficult to tell. Luise Gotter’s half-brother, Adolph Stieler, did in any case lose a maternal aunt in 1806, namely, Johann Friederike Sophie von Avemann (1751–1806), though her designation as sister-in-law is unlikely. Back.

[41] Unidentified; Lenchen short for Helene. Back.

[42] Unidentified. Back.

[43] Éducation in French in the original. — The sisters Charlotte Wiebeking, née Rousseau, and Auguste (Dorette) Schlichtegroll, née Rousseau, were granddaughters of “Mother Schläger” and daughters of Sara Dorothea, née Schläger, and the numismatic-cabinet director Jacques Auguste Rousseau. Back.

[44] Diogène and Epicure (Épicure) in French in original.

Raphael’s School of Athens (1509–11) in the Vatican City’s Apostolic Palace.

The copper-engraving reproduction Caroline saw was not in color. Here a reproduction from Adolf Rosenberg, Raffael: des Meisters Gemälde in 202 Abbildungen, Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 1 (Stuttgart, Leipzig 1904), 42.

Plato is the standing figure on the center left at the top of the steps, Diogenes reclines at center on the steps, and Epicurus stands at the low column on the left (for color closeups see their biograms):


Caroline was doubtless famliar with the piece not least from Schelling’s Philosophy of Art, in which he makes the following remarks (p. 151):

Now we must speak about the symbolic painting. . . . A picture is symbolic whose subject not only signifies or means the idea, but is itself the idea. You can see yourself that in this way the symbolic painting coincides completely with the so-called historical painting and actually designates the higher potence of the latter. Here again we encounter distinctions according to the object, which can either be something universally human that perpetually recurs and renews itself in life or refer to completely spiritual and intellectual ideas. The latter is represented by Raphael’s Parnassus and The School of Athens, which symbolically portray the entirety of philosophy. Back.

[45] As Brigitte Rossbeck, Zum Trotz glücklich: Caroline Schlegel-Schelling und die romantische Lebenskunst (Munich 2008), 253, suggests, Caroline is clearly preening here with her humanistic education against the backdrop of Catholic Bavaria (Johann Lowe, Der Kunstrichter [“The art critic”] [1791]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 1585a):



[46] Emil Leopold August, Duke of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg, an ardent admirer of Napoleon, had committed his territory to the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, concerning the latter of which see Henry Smith Williams, The Historians’ History of the World, vol. 25: Germanic Empires (Concluded) (London 1908), 293 (illustration: a highly stylized illustration [not all regents were present] by Charles Motte from ca. 1820 showing the oath to Napoleon at the establishment of the Confederation of the Rhine in St. Cloud on 12 July 1806):

It was in the middle of this eventful year [1806] that the last blow was inflicted upon the constitution of the Germanic Empire [Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation]; its dissolution, which already existed in fact, was now clearly and definitely confirmed.

On the 12th of July a Rhenish league was formed [Confedration of the Rhine], by which the kings of Bavaria and Würtemberg, the arch-chancellor of the empire (the elector of Mainz), the elector of Baden, the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, and the Duke of Berg (the last four as grand dukes), together with the princes of Nassau and Hohenzollern and other petty princes and nobles, separated themselves from the imperial alliance and acknowledged the emperor of France as the protector of their confederation.


He commanded the right of naming the prince primate of the league, who presided at the assembly; of deciding upon the question of war and peace, and fixing the contingent [of troops] to be furnished, so that each war of France must become a war of the Confederation of the Rhine, its members thus being forced to take up arms in her cause, even against their compatriots of Germany.

By such sacrifices, the princes obtained unlimited authority without being dependent upon any [sc. imperial] tribunal to which their subjects in case of necessity might appeal, and without being bound to adopt any ameliorated measures of government. On all these points, the resolutions of the confederation were clear and precise; but in all the rest, everything was obscure and equivocal, in order that the protector’s will might operate with all the effect of a law.

The emperor of Germany, laying aside the degraded crown of the ancient empire, more than a thousand years after Charlemagne had placed it upon his own head, declared himself, on the 6th of August, 1806, hereditary emperor of Austria. What protection, however, Germany had to expect from her new self-made guardian, when compared with that afforded her by the house of Austria, was immediately shown. For, at the very moment when the French envoy, [Theobald] Bacher, renewed the assurance that France would never extend her frontiers beyond the Rhine, the fortress of Wesel was arbitrarily taken possession of by the French and chosen as the headquarters of the 75th division of their army.

“Central Europe: Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7,” Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. Sir Adolphus William Ward et al. [London 1912], map 92):


The Encyclopaedia Britannica Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, 8th ed., vol. 10 (Edinburgh 1856), 142, adds (italics added):

These princes separated themselves, in perpetuity, from the territory of the Germanic empire, and united together in a new federation, of which the emperor of the French was declared the protector. The contingent to be furnished by each of the allies was determined; a great number of secularisations and annexations of territory in their favour were recognised and sanctioned; the old constitution of the Germanic body was dissolved; and Napoleon became, in fact, lord suzerain of a large portion of Germany.

His object, indeed, seems to have been to make the confederation of the Rhine the centre and pivot of his future power. The notification of the treaty of the 12th July was made to the diet at Ratisbon on the 1st of August, when fourteen German princes declared their separation from the Germanic body, and their new confederation under the protectorate of Napoleon. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott