Letter 421

• 421. Caroline to Luise Wiedemann in Kiel: Munich, 31 January 1807

Munich, 31 Jan[uary] [1807]

|487| Your letter took a long time to get here this time, my dear Luise (is it always necessary for you to send it by way of Wesel? After all, routes are open by way of Hamburg and Frankfurt) [1]

While I was reading it, it was my greatest comfort to anticipate that in these 3 weeks you surely would have gotten further along in your recovery and would have gotten through that particular time. [2] My precious soul, could I but assist you! Assistance in the real sense often means merely being with someone; a friendly, loving presence is itself a great help. Such is indeed emerging for you in your children, and I hope otherwise in Kiel as well; circumstances everywhere are unfavorable now as far as making new acquaintances is concerned, and certainly for all of you there in every way. [3] Try at least to remain healthy!

I myself admittedly know exactly what a slow convalescence involves. [4] At the time, I honestly did not believe |488| I would ever be able to work my way out of it. One feels caught in a deep well and must climb up sheer vertical walls to escape; one feels as weak today as yesterday, and precisely that weakness causes the wheels in one’s head to spin unbearably fast, making it impossible to sustain any reflection or think any thoughts with pristine clarity. At best, what happens is that after several weeks one notices that several weeks earlier it was indeed worse. [4a]

You are probably not doing as poorly as I was at the time, for after all, you have a calm disposition even though in general you are a rather restive creature — and yet there is nothing definite burdening your soul just now. And please also try to will yourself to be calm, try not to voluntarily make yourself anxious for any reason; it is incredible what a person can do through a strong will alone. What I myself have feared for you is the quiet after the storm, the quiet after the year in which so much happened and passed before you. It can never leave a pleasant impression when one suddenly sees nothing after having seen so much for so long. What is past is then merely the vision of a dream. [5]

But truly, that emptiness can indeed be filled if you have two or three halfway decent people who come see you each evening, people with whom you can converse and to whom you can gradually relate all that you have collected together in that time. Were I in your place, then instead of all the social contact with families I would instead only take things that far, and since there must always be some among the more settled who are in Kiel for the sake of study and who could be cultivated for such things, that would probably be the most expedient solution. Here I have social contact with more families than in any other place I have lived, and yet what I nonetheless miss, and Schelling as well, is seeing the door open each evening and a couple of familiar faces walk in. [5a]

We are currently caught in the midst of carnival — strangely enough, all public assemblies, |489| balls, etc. are restricted to the short period from the Feast of the Three Magi to Ash Wednesday. [6] Right now there is something every day, but then nothing at all, not even a single concert during the entire winter. When I see how backward everything here is now with regard to such social resources, I can only imagine how wretchedly barbaric things were 10 or 20 years ago. They do have one really nice institution, what they call the Académie masquée.

There is a grand hall (though still not really large enough, since not a single locale here is genuinely large enough to accommodate even the most modest requirements, all the way from the king’s palace, [7] the art gallery, the theater, [8] on down to the very smallest site) at one end of which they set up a theater, before which there are then 3–4 rows of chairs, then gaming tables dispersed throughout the hall; a gallery encircles it above with seats for spectators. [9]

Anyone may attend, and indeed everyone does so; the king and queen along with the members of the court, ministers, etc. are there almost every time and usually sit at the first gaming tables just behind the chairs, holding playing cards and watching a pantomime that is always performed in two acts on the theater stage, Italian farces, including some quite earthy ones, with Arlekin, Pierrot, Pantalone, Colombine in their characteristic costumes. [10] Some corpulent brewer’s wife or other will be sitting right up close to the king wearing a golden bonnet and with chains on her breast bib [11] — and although the crush of the crowd is dreadful, everyone moves about and mingles together.

Most of the gentlemen spend the evening playing domino because there they can keep their hats on, without a mask except perhaps on the hat itself, while the ladies, in the most beautiful finery, go about without any mask at all, or at most they bind a couple of black silk eyes around their white arms. Full masques are granted admission, and there are always some who come with the idea of playing some joke or other, |490| which, of course, is kept in check by the presence of the royal family. I greatly enjoy the pantomimes, in particular one extraordinarily delightful Pierrot who is able to come up with such unprecedented faces and gestures. [12] As one might guess, Tiek could always be found here. [13]

Head colds and headaches have prevented me from going out much elsewhere, for which I was extremely sorry on January 27, when we had made plans with a group to dine at a ball; although it was Schelling’s birthday, [14] I came down with an absolutely lethal headache and thus sent him there alone. —

But what a rencontre I had recently! I was in a store for fashion accessories along with 2 other ladies whose accents and charming mannerisms soon betrayed them to me as being — not from Munich [15] — after we had been there for a quarter hour, one of them turned to me. “We can no longer hold ourselves back, for we are almost sure we know you — do you not recognize us?” — But I could not think clearly. — “Are you not Madame Böhmer who once lived in Marburg?” — “Yes, indeed I am.” — “And you no longer recognize Caroline Hanstein and Antoinette, who was at the Schulers?” [16]

Then the scales finally fell from my eyes, and there was a tumultuous scene of greetings. Little Antoinette lives here and is married to the Württemberg envoy, von Bothmer, already has 6 children, and is an extremely charming woman about whom I have variously heard and even seen but whom, since I had not seen here since she was 12 or 13 years old, I did not recognize. She had already noticed me at the Académie masquée and thought she recognized me; she was playing with the queen; afterwards she got up, and I noticed quite clearly that she did not let me out of her sight — she had asked quite a few people about me but had only learned my present name. [17]

Caroline is living with her, unmarried; Minette is in a convent |491| in Westphalia and has allegedly gotten quite fat; the brothers are all married and have a great many children, and the other sisters, none of whom is married other than Antoinette, live with them. The Schulers are in Hildburghausen and will perhaps be coming here this summer. [18] They very much requested that I pay them a visit, and it is only indisposition that has since prevented me from doing so. Both they and I greatly enjoyed catching up. —

Several weeks ago Baron von Knorring also passed through from Rome and paid us a visit. [18a] As you know, he went there with Tiek and the latter’s sister. Madame Bernhardi the Insufferable remained behind there with the sculptor Tiek. Knorring will also be returning; I believe he was merely fetching financial support, and perhaps there will even be a divorce from Herr Bernhardi, since Knorring is utterly ensnared in the clutches of this pale, gaunt, toothless, eyebrowless, and hairless woman with her imperious, obstinate, essentially evil character — but with Tiekean visions. Schlegel is perhaps in England with Madame de Staël. [19]

I want to relate to you and especially to Wiedemann what we have been involved in here for some time now. Back in the autumn, Ritter (the Galvanist who was in Jena earlier and is now also a member of the Academy here) received reliable news that at the Tyrolean and Italian border there lived a young man out in the country who possessed the ability — one that has already appeared before but which has invariably been rejected, opposed, and persecuted — to sense water and metals beneath the earth precisely at the places where they are located, and for whom the so-called divining rod genuinely twists in his hands etc. [20]

Ritter pondered day and night how he himself might possibly investigate the phenomenon. — The incessant urging of Franz Baader, a divinatory physicist whom we have here and who is one of the most magnificent persons |492| and intellects not just in Bavaria but in all of Germany, persuaded the government to finance sending Ritter there himself. The result was that Ritter became completely convinced that the matter was indeed just as alleged — and anyone who knows Ritter cannot doubt the keenness and cold objectivity of his investigations.

He took the young man (Campetti by name) with him to Milan and Pavia, spoke with many Italian physicists and received especially from the Abbot Amoretti in Milan, librarian of the Ambrosian Library there, a wealth of information about a phenomenon that, while no more wondrous than any other revelation of nature, is nonetheless extraordinarily interesting and promising. Amoretti himself, along with several members of his family, possessed the same ability as Campetti, and as an educated physicist he was also able to carry out various investigations, whereas Campetti is really nothing more than a human divining rod.

Ritter brought him along here (that is, Campetti), albeit not to perform signs and wonders, but as an instrument for scientific discovery. [21] Then, however, he came upon the idea that this particular phenomenon, one that generally appears only in individual instances, might be connected with a much more universally widespread and thus also more universally verifiable ability, and he came upon the extraordinarily felicitous idea of associating it with the pyrite pendulum of Abbé Fortis [1741–1803]. (Wiedemann will know what I am talking about.) This experiment was immediately successful, and with few exceptions — exceptions not, however, demonstrably consistent — succeeds with everyone.

It consists in one taking a small cube of pyrite, affixing it to a strong thread, and holding that thread, lightly moistened, between two fingers over any sort of metal, water, |493| or something of that sort, but steady enough so that it is not being moved mechanically — as soon as it comes to complete rest and is completely free of mechanical movement, it will start to liven up on its own and rotate in perfectly regular, round oscillations, either inwardly or outwardly depending on the composition of the object over which it is rotating.

That characteristic depends on whether the object corresponds to the north or south pole of a magnet. Wiedemann may want to try the experiment first over a magnet shaped like a horseshoe on which the two poles are already designated; he will then know how to take the experiment further. N.B. the experiments must always be conducted uniformly insofar as the cube is always brought toward the object either from above or from the side — for this polarity inhering in all things is, of course, not something fixed, but rather something that shifts very subtly, but always with perfect regularity.

If you draw the cube away from the object for a moment in the same way as you originally brought it over it, either from the side or from above, and then bring it back over the object again in the same way, it will rotate in the opposite direction. Between two pieces of the same metal, it stands still — and otherwise probably also changes its rotation only if the person’s ability is considerable. — The continuous polarity of the human body is quite strange (by the way, every plant and fruit that is still fresh has its own such polarity) —

Although Amoretti had already discovered it, he always used that disdained instrument, the baguette, [22] in doing so — Ritter is now maintaining that the baguette is nothing more than such a double pendulum, something that does seem quite plausible. — Hold the pendulum over your head, and it swings as it does in the case of the south pole — the same if held before the forehead and eye — in the case of the nose, it turns and rotates as in the case of the north pole, |494| the same before the mouth, and before the chin it rotates again as was the case before the forehead.

Thus does it always indicate the symmetry of the right and left side in opposite oscillations. The most fascinating thing is to let it rotate over each fingertip — it rotates differently over the fourth, or ring finger, than above the others — here an opposite quality must be at work. For Campetti, who admittedly does possess this ability to set things in motion to a truly remarkable degree, a small iron rod, a bean, rotates around in a circle between the index and ring fingers. When he hangs the guard of a sword over these two fingers, the sword itself rotates in a circle, which otherwise happens only if two people each lay one finger beneath the guard. —

All these experiments have already been taken much further than I can describe for you in a letter; here I am merely giving you the ABCs. The best thing is that anyone can demonstrate to himself the authenticity of this force, of this effect that human beings must apparently have over so-called dead materials, which in their own turn must thus probably also be alive. This must be the same force that drives the planets around the sun; the human being is the sun with respect to the constituent parts of the earth, parts with which he is on intimate terms, just as he is, if one thing be certain here, with the entire universe to the extent the tiny point of his own existence permits. One cannot but be ecstatic, knowing thus about the magnificence attaching to all things and about the presence of God within all of them.

I can assure you, during this whole time it has seemed to me that although earthly empires have indeed been perishing, divine ones are emerging [23] — although I have already often felt thus alongside Schelling, now, however, it is all emerging before my very eyes, and I am tempted to say that at the same time, his own magnificent mind has also thereby become visible. —

I have been party to many interesting meetings between Baader, Ritter, and Schelling, |495| among them also our good Campetti, a strong, upright young man with his straightforward, cheerful countenance who clearly sincerely enjoys all these phenomena but who otherwise does not understand a single word of any of it, or indeed even a single word of German. You can also well imagine how I engaged my sense for the element of the pittoresque in all this, [24] and, really, a painter such as that of the school of Athens should have been present to capture these extraordinarily expressive heads on canvas. [25]

What follows from the aforementioned is that the ability to sense hidden metals and water, and that the way the baguette becomes animated when held in the hand over metals, coal, etc., [26] is merely a higher degree of a certain universally human characteristic that genuinely can be developed through practice. At first the baguette would not incline for Ritter except when Campetti laid his hands on Ritter’s shoulders; now, however, it does indeed beat [27]

Schelling did not need this mediation, it beats quite forcefully for him; when an opposing mechanical force is applied to it, the rod itself crackles so loud that one can hear it (they have hitherto used a thin, flexible reed that has been bent as follows Curved_line, held firmly on a table with the back of the hands and a piece of metal [e.g., a coin placed beneath the hand], where it then inclines either inwardly or outwardly depending on the metal). —

I have related all this to you merely for your evening’s entertainment and hope you have found it as interesting as have I. By the way, it goes without saying that one does not even need the pyrite; any metal, pure sulfur, a gold ring will behave this way. —

Please be so kind as to pass these pages along to Philipp right away. I suspect he will recall that precisely when he himself was in Italy, a certain Pennet, [28] under the guidance of Dr. Thouvenel, was traveling about conducting these experiments — at the time, they were persecuted, mocked, and perhaps driven a bit too one-sidedly by their promoters, |496| with an insufficient overall view of the phenomenon. Whereas Thouvenel claimed it was merely a manifestation of electricity, my physicists believe a much more immediate process of nature is at work. A dreadful war broke out in Italy because of it; I read about its history under the title La guerra di dieci anni. [29]

Although the thing finally died down, it will now presumably never die down again. There is no need to remind physicians of the sort all of you there are that animal magnetism is also connected with all this. Nonetheless I would like to mention one phenomenon in this context. Schelling’s brother, our Karl, reports that he saw how with a person suffering from cramps it was the iron that made the person himself rotate instead of the person the iron as is usually the case. When one balanced a key with the person, his arm began to rotate so irresistibly that it could be dislocated if not stopped. [29a]

You remember Frau Ziegesar’s illness, whom Himly had for the cure in Jena (although it occurs to me that at that time you had already left; but you do remember the elderly Frau Ziegesar); she regularly lay in a somnambulant condition for several hours at a time, her eyes tightly closed, and fell into convulsions whenever this or that metal was brought near; [30] although not all of them had ill effects on her, she could distinguish them all if one placed them on her stomach. I wonder that Himly did not say anything publicly about this entire illness; it lasted for an extremely long time, and his wife spent several weeks with the ill woman.

You can tell Reinhold that Jacobi, too, has seen quite a few of Campetti’s experiments and, though disinclined to believe, did observe what happened — for him, too, the baguette rotated when Campetti placed his hands on him. Schelling was with him again just yesterday, and they did quite a bit of |497| experimentation. [31]

But only a few people have actually seen Campetti so far; this is the wrong season to conduct experiments outdoors with metals buried beneath the earth of the sort Ritter was still able to conduct at Lago Maggiore around Christmas; the ground is quite frozen, and we have a great deal of snow.

That said, people both at court and in town have gotten quite into the “swing” of these pendulum swings. Diamond and gold rings are all being set into motion, and only few people are not able to make things rotate in this way, e.g., a few rather obdurate people at court who have already become rather fusty themselves and who presumably are more subject to the power of the metal than the metal is to them (like a person with cramps). This alternation reminds me of the joujous de Normandie, so I have already suggested calling it the joujous de Campetti. [32]

The old Academy of Sciences and Humanities has been abolished and is now closed. The new one will open with Jacobi as its president, which pleases Schelling greatly — one of the first reports at and by this new Academy will be the one concerning this new ability to raise those who are believed to be dead. [32a]

They say that our blood circulation, assimilation, etc. are based on the same process.

Once I got started, I, too — as you see — have spared not a single sheet of paper. If Wiedemann has something crazy lying around ready for publication, he should go ahead and get it out; after all, one of his friends is a bookseller, and it will not be awkward or anything like that. Cotta is publishing a Morgenblatt now, [33] a newspaper something like the Elegante Zeitung. [34] If Wiedemann thinks he might be able to get some of his own craziness out to readers in a seemly fashion through this newspaper, he should get it to them either directly or indirectly. Der Freimüthige has for the time being gotten very quiet.

I embrace your sweet children. [35] Stay well and please do send me news again soon. Schelling sends his greetings.


[1] Caroline is referring to the postal routes throughout Germany that had been closed or otherwise restricted because of the still unresolved war between France and Prussia and the latter’s allies. Wesel is located ca. 465 km southwest of Kiel; concerning Wesel’s status, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter and her daughters on 4 January 1807 (letter 420), note 46. To wit, Wesel was now in French hands, Bavaria’s ally.

Traveling to Munich from Kiel by way of Wese involved another 665 km, i.e., altogether over 1100 km, whereas the more direct route by way of Hamburg and Frankfurt is just over 1000 km, a lengthy route in any case (“Central Europe: Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7,” Cambridge Modern History Atlas [Cambridge 1912]):



[2] The specific ailment prompting Caroline’s reference to “recovery” and “particular time” is not identified, though see the chronological difficulties raised by the birth of Dora Bertha Zoe Wiedemann. Back.

[3] Kiel had been subject to an enormous influx of refugees after the disaster at Lübeck the previous autumn (representative illustration from an earlier period: Johann Georg Penzel, Aufnahme der Verfolgten [1797]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 1996):



[4] Here and in the following, Caroline is referring to her lengthy bout with nervous fever back during the spring of 1800 Christophe Schmid [Christoph von Schmid], La guirlande de houblon [1836], Oeuvres choisies, vol. 4, new ed. [Tours 1867], plate following p. 262):


Coincidentally, Zoe Wiedemann died on 12 July 1808, eight years to the day after Auguste had died following Caroline’s own illness (Nehm er ihm hin der uns ihn gab [1790]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DBerger WB 3.4):



[4a] Taschenkalender für Damen auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[5] Luise had spent the previous year largely in southern France. See the pertinent section ‎ in her autobiography. Back.

[5a] Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1817; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Although the reference is likely primarily to Jena, despite the hostilities of Schelling’s adversaries the couple did indeed enjoy their social contacts in Würzburg as well. Back.

[6] I.e., the period between the Feast of the Three Kings (Epiphany; Erscheinung Christi) on 6 January and Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch) on 11 February 1807 (Königlich-Sächsischer Hof- und Staats-Kalender auf das Jahr 1807):



[7] The royal palace in Munich, a large complex of several different buildings, including the royal residence itself, was situated on the newly constructed Max Joseph Square adjacent to the opera (see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 4 January 1807, note 29; Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03):


In the following illustration of Max Joseph Square in 1805, the palace is indicated on the left side by the letters “a” (Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805], xxv and xxvi [Saturday, 29 June 1805], n.p., plate xxvi):



[8] Caroline is referring to the Residence Theater edifice, also known as the opera house. Her criticism is accurate insofar as it was precisely the Residence Theater’s insufficient seating capacity and size (it was originally intended solely for the court and for those citizens who were socially acceptable at court) that prompted the initiative for the eventual construction of a new, larger theater. Back.

[9] Caroline’s reference to the gallery or balcony in a “grand hall” indicates that she is referring to the redoute hall (redoute, Fr., a masked assembly where there is dancing, card playing, and other entertainment, though also the locale itself) on the Prannerstrasse rather than to the Residence Theater, where such events seem also to have been held; here a masked ball (Der Gesellschaftswagen/ Ein unterhaltendes Taschenbuch . . . Zum neuen Jahr gewidmet [n.d.]):


The “grand hall” on Prannerstrasse had four tiers of loges rather than merely a balcony (Schelling’s reading society rented parts of this building, including the grand hall; see supplementary appendix 419.1).

The layout of the hall with the balcony is still evident in the illustration in “Geschichte der Gesellschaft ‘Museum,'” Die Gesellschaft Museum in München: Festschrift zur Hundertjahr-Feier 1802–1902 (Munich 1902), 7, here depicting the later meeting of parliament in the hall after the reading society and theater company no longer used the building):



[10] Joseph Richter, Bildergalerie weltlicher Misbräuche: Ein Gegenstück zur Bildergalerie katholischer und klösterlicher Misbräuche (Frankfurt, Leipzig 1785), illustration following p. 180:


Caroline was enjoying a version of the commedia dell’arte, a popular Italian folk comedy originally based entirely on improvisation with largely fixed action and story development on stage that varied stereotypical plots; individual features of each performance as well as witticisms and mimic jokes were improvised in the moment by the actors, who drew on long experience and even improvised monologue and dialogues as the pieces progressed on stage (Winfried Smith, The Commedia dell’Arte: A Study in Italian Popular Comedy [New York 1912], illustration following p. 214):


Fixed or recurring characters were indicated by specific masks and costumes but were rarely developed psychologically, acting instead according to popular stereotypes. Such recurring characters included, e.g., the voluble and learned pedant, the simple or elderly father, the genteel merchant, and the cuckolded husband. Harlequin (who in Germany became Hanswurst), also known as Pulcinella, sometimes portrayed as a shrewd, crafty, and comical servant; also Colombina (or Smeraldina), Harlequin’s love interest, the boastful Capitano, and so on (Francesco Valentini, Trattato su la Commedia dell’ Arte, Ossia Improvvisa [Berlino 1826], plate 19):


The commedia dell’arte originally developed out of sixteenth-century Italian farces and the literary Renaissance comedies, and its companies, which toured most of Europe, influenced popular folk comedy. The element of pantomime was integrated into it during the sixteenth century; in antiquity, a single actor (Gk. pantomimos) would perform all the roles of a piece, without speaking, solely through dance, facial expressions, and gestures, with perhaps an accompanying explanation from another person (one is performed at the end of Plato’s Symposium).

The addition of women’s roles later contributed to the increasing “earthiness” of which Caroline speaks. Christians opposed the performances in Rome, and the genre was eventually banned by Justinian in 526. It is from this version of pantomime that the improvised pantomime farce as such originated in Italy with the fixed or recurring characters described above. See below. Back.

[11] Concerning the Munich masquerade balls and harlequinades, see Bettina Brentano’s remarks to Goethe (Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child [Boston 1879], 194):

At the festivals (which one calls here Academies), — masquerades, and in the midst a little theatre, in which pantomimic representations of Harlequin and Pantaloon are given. I have become acquainted with the Prince-Royal; I talked awhile with him without knowing who he was; he has something attractive, friendly, and indeed original about him; true, his whole being seems more to strive after liberty, than to be born with her. His voice, his speech and gestures, have in them something forced; like a man, who with great expenditure of strength, had helped himself up a smooth face of rock, and has a trembling motion in his yet unrested limbs. And who knows how his infant years, his inclinations, were oppressed or provoked by opposition? I look upon him as one who has had much to combat with, and also from whom much that is good may spring; I like him.

Concerning the chains securing the woman’s breast bib, see Johann Bernoulli, “Reise nach Bayern im Jahre 1781 von Gottfried Edlem von Rotenstein” (a Hungarian aristocrat), part 2, Archiv zur neueren Geschichte, Georgraphie, Natur- und Menschenkenntniss (1785), 185–233, cited in “Kleinere Mitteilungen,” Forschungen zur Kultur- und Litteraturgeschichte Bayerns 3 (1895), 240–59, here 247:

Women’s folk costumes in Bavaria are quite different from those in Austria and Hungary, and I find them not at all pleasing. They wear short corsets under a red bodice that appears quite pleasant; but the breast bib over the bodice is completely bound by cast silver chains, and the women also wear a great deal of silver around their necks, all of which is to demonstrate that the country’s subjects are doubtless well-to-do people; all of them also appear quite sprightly and healthy, and the men similarly are all well built and physically strong.

Both men and women, however, wore such chains to secure their bibs (Fritz Launer, Gallerie der Nationen: Ein Bilderbuch zur Erweiterung der Kenntnisse über Länder und Völker, vol. 1, rev. ed. [Pest 1813], 5, with plate 1):

Country Folk from the Area around Munich

These illustrations portray the folk costumes commonly worn in the flat countryside in Bavaria, especially in the area around Munich. Although variations occur in locales farther from the capital, the common fashion for women includes short skirts, a breast bib tied in front, often with silver chains, and round felt hats. Their hats, with a bow-tied ribbon or other adornment, are always tastefully positioned on their heads. Their blouse extends up to just beneath their chins, and their hair tressed in back. Men cut their hair short, similarly wear round hats and suspenders, and a broad belt over their breast bib, which occasionally similarly has silver buttons.



[12] Caroline’s description, including her remark concerning having some sort of entertainment “every day,” largely concurs with that of Georg Bernhard Depping but a few years later, Remarques faites dans un voyage de Paris à Munich au commencement de 1813 (Paris 1814), 58–59:

The Munich bourgeoisie is characterized less by any particular taste for the arts than by that for entertainment and good food. It is particularly during carnival that this town offers a continuous series of parties and amusements. At the beginning of this period, a program enumerating the various public events scheduled each day is published. On carnival Sundays, there is usually what the residents of Munich call an Académie masquee, an entertainment event unique to this town.

It takes place at the grand theater [the Residence Theater], and no one is allowed to attend without wearing a mask, or at least part of a masque; guests take advantage of this latitude, and most appear only with a masked nose. A great many chandeliers illuminate the hall, and all the loges [rather than merely the balcony as in the hall on Prannerstrasse] are illuminated. The parterre is on the same level as the stage, but in the back they allow space for a small theater on which an extremely cheerful pantomime is performed whose characters are always Cassandre, Colombine, Arlequin, and Gilles.

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):


Concerning the various recurring characters in Italian and French pantomime, see these brief remarks from Arthur Pougin, Dictionnaire historique et pittoresque du théâtre et des arts qui s’y rattachent: Poétique, musique, danse, pantomime, décor, costume, machinerie, acrobatisme (Paris 1885), in order: 57–60 (Arlequin); 148 (Cassandre); 190–91 (Colombine); 404 (Gille) (illustration: Nicolas Lancret, Le Theatre Italien (Paris 1730–75), Herzog August Bibliothek, Museumsnr./Signatur Graph. GFSchmidt V 3.5202):


Cassandre: the naive old man who is constantly swindled and hoodwinked by his children and everyone else.

Arlequin (Harlequin): a character with charming, elegant, and crafty grace, likeable malice, and impish, spirited, and cheerful mischievousness. Generally in a fitted, multicolored costume with a black mask down to his lips and a jauntily set felt hat, and a light, agile gait and bearing. Often the love interest of the character Colombine.

Gilles: perhaps even of French rather than Italian origin; similar to the often silly character of Pierrot, including in costume type, though the two often appear in the same play.

Colombine: originally in Italian comedy, then imported to France along with other stock characters, often portrayed as Cassandre’s daughter. Invariably courted by, e.g., Léandre, Pierrot, or Arlequin, whom she usually ended up marrying.

Illustrations here by Maurice Sand, from Maurice Sand, A. Manceau, George Sand, Masques et Bouffons: Comédie italienne, texte et dessins, 2 vols. (Paris 1860), in order: Cassandre (Casnar, Papus, Pantalon): plate following 2:40; Colombine: plate following 1:203; Arlequin (Harlequin): plate following 1:66; Gilles (Giglio, Pierrot): plate following 1:280; and another version of Pierrot (plate following 1:256):


Depping continues:

The love affairs between Harlequin and Colombine, the tricks, costumes, monologue of Harlequin, the obstacles Cassandre and Gilles present to his rendezvous, such is the basis of all the pieces, although the details are indeed quite varied and succeed one another quite rapidly. This particular genre of performance, which seems to have been transplanted from Italy to Bavaria, leaves nothing to be desired; and yet it is part of the bon ton [Fr., “good form, tasteful and appropriate behavior”] of Munich not to pay any attention to it.

The best seats in front of the stage are occupied solely by the middle class and children. The other guests walk about or sit at one of the gaming tables arranged in the parterre area. The royal family almost always attends these evening soirées, and even play several hands of cards for one or two hours. For a stranger, it is a truly interesting spectacle to observe the king, queen, and princes all seated in the midst of their subjects, who in their own turn genuinely enjoy their presence without being disturbed in the least at their own amusements.

(Similar illustration by Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Kandide im Spielsalon; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Museums./Signatur Uh 4°47[88]):


To provide even more entertainment, someone came up with the idea of arranging a type of lottery at the hall entrance for the benefit of the poor. There one purchases tickets for a modest prize, though only one in ten tickets wins. This lottery simultaneously benefits the national industry, since all the items for profit are made in the country itself, such as scarves, gloves, silver spoons, etc.

A slightly different schedule for the period is found in J.-G. Prodhomme, “L’opéra à Munich aux XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles,” Revue internationale de musique (1898) 15 (1 November 1898), 936–47, here 945:

During carnival, i.e., from the Sunday of the Three Kings till Ash Wednesday, the following events take place: Tuesday: German comedy at the Old Opera, then a redoute in the hall of redoutes, Prannerstrasse [where Schelling’s reading society met]. Monday: opera seria [on a serious classical or mythological theme] at the Grand Opera of the Residence [Residence Theater], followed by two ballets entrée-libre [free admission]. Tuesday and Thursday: Académie masquée in the hall of redoutes [Prannerstrasse], then the opera buffa [Italian comic opera] and ballet. Wednesday: a German theater performance, then a redoute; Friday: the same, though without the redoute. Back.

[13] Concerning Ludwig Tieck’s presence in Munich and departure, see Caroline’s letter to 420. Caroline to Luise Gotter and her daughters on 4 January 1807 (letter 420), notes 12 and 13. Tieck’s own dramatic works, several of a decidedly experimental nature, owed a considerable debt to the tradition of the Italian opera buffa and commedia dell’arte. Back.

[14] Schelling had just turned thirty-two years old. Back.

[15] Fr., “meeting, encounter” (illustrations: [1, 2] Almanach, Der neuesten Moden [Vienna 1795]; [3] Berlinischer Damen Kalender auf das jähr 1803; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):





[16] The Hansteins had been close acquaintances of Caroline in Marburg and had stood by her when Therese died (Plitt, 2:275; see Caroline’s undated letter to Lotte Michaelis in 1789 [letter 95], note 2). Back.

[17] Indeed, since living in Marburg, Caroline had changed names twice, from Böhmer to Schlegel (1796) and from Schlegel to Schelling (1803). Back.

[18] See Caroline’s letter to Lotte Michaelis from Marburg in 1789 (letter 19), note 11. Hildburghausen is located just over 300 km almost due north of Munich (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern [Vienna 1805]):



[18a] Taschenbuch zum geselligen Vergnügen 1803 (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. (New York 1921), 151:



[19] Although Germain de Staël did indeed travel to England as part of her exile from France and flight from Napoleon, it was not until the summer of 1813.

Although Wilhelm Schlegel accompanyed Staël on her far-flung flight to Vienna and on to Moscow and Sweden beginning in May 1812, he remained behind in Sweden to work in the service of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte while she journeyed on to England (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Elementarische Landkarte von Europa Elementarwerk, in Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate_xl):


At the present time, namely, in January of 1807, Germaine de Staël was living near Versailles, having been banned from Paris, though she would defy the prohibition in April before returning to Coppet in May 1807.

In late November she began a five-month journey to Vienna with Wilhelm; the traveling company spent a week in Munich just before Christmas 1807, where they also spent time with Caroline and Schelling; it was the last time Wilhelm and Caroline saw each other. See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 15 January 1808 (letter 428). Back.

[20] Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser Francesco Campetti, see the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti; also Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 11 January 1807 (letter 420a), Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421), and Ritter’s own letter to Hans Christian Örsted on 19 January 1807 (letter 420c).

The divining rod, though appearing in various iterations, was basically held in both hands and allegedly used to locate subterranean water and metals; here an eighteenth-century illustration from Pierre Le Brun, Histoire Critique Des Pratiques Superstitieuses, Qui ont séduit les Peuples, & embarrassé les Sçavans: Avec La Methode Et Les Principes pour discerner les effets naturels d’avec ceux qui ne le sont pas, 4 vols., 2nd ed. (Paris: 1732–36), plate following 2:324; illustration of other hand positions from Pierre Le Lorrain de Vallemont, La physique occulte ou traité de la baguette divinatoire, et de son utilité pour la découverte des fources d’eau … par M.L.L. de Vallemont … augmenté en cette edition, d’un Traité de la connoissance des causes magnetiques des cures sympathiques (Paris 1709), plate following p. 124:


It may be recalled that divining rods were used in the Harz Mountains mining industry to locate metals beneath the surface of the earth. Although Caroline was presumably aware of such devices when she lived in Clausthal, she nowhere mentions them in her extant letters. Note the two miners on the left with divining rods in the area around the small town Zellerfeld, located just opposite Clausthal (G. E. Löhneyss, Bericht vom Bergkwerck, wie man dieselben bawen und in guten Wolstandt bringen soll, sampt allen darzu gehörigen Arbeiten, Ordnung und rechtlichen Process / beschrieben durch G. E. Löhneyss [Zellerfeld 1617], plate following p. 12):



[21] A standard image in the New Testament, e.g., Acts 2:22 (NRSV): “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know”; Acts 5:12 (NRSV): “Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico”; Acts 15:12 (NRSV): “The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles,” to mention but a few passages.

Here the transformation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana, traditionally known as Jesus’s first miracle (John 2:1–11) (Jean Le Clerc IV, Das Zeichen von Kanaan [ca. 1600]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur 24.1 Geom. 2° [17a-2]):



[22] Viz., baguetta divinatoria, Italian, “divining rod.” Back.

[23] The “earthly empires” being the state casualties of the Napoleonic Wars. Back.

[24] Fr., “picturesque.” Back.

[25] Caroline had seen a reproduction of Raphael’s School of Athens in Munich; see the penultimate paragraph of her letter to Luise Gotter on 4 January 1807 (letter 420), with note 44 there.

That reference notwithstanding, it is difficult not to imagine this scene with Campetti other than essentially as a séance of the type that became so fashionable in the nineteenth century, e.g., with the phenomenon of “turning tables” (Louis Figuier, “Les tables tournantes et les médiums,” Les mystères de la science aujourd’hui 1 [Paris 1887], 565–606, here 577):



[26] Illustration from Pierre Le Brun, Histoire Critique Des Pratiques Superstitieuses, plate following 2:514:



[27] The “inclination” of a divining rod (Pierre Le Brun, Histoire Critique Des Pratiques Superstitieuses, plate following 2:321):



[28] Joseph Pennet, also an alleged dowser. Back.

[29] Pierre Thouvenel, La Guerra di dieci anni: raccolta polemico-fisica sull’ elettrometria, galvano-organica; Parte italiana – parte francese (Verona 1802), 2 parts in one volume. Back.

[29a] Louis Figuier, “Retour en arrière,” Les mystères de la science aujourd’hui 1 [Paris 1887], 60–94, here 73:



[30] Louis Figuier, “Les docteurs électriques,” Les mystères de la science aujourd’hui 1 (Paris 1887), 306–72, here 361:


Luise Wiedemann had been in Jena between late April and early October 1801 after a shorter visit back in August of 1799. Back.

[31] Here a later group experiments similarly with what was known as baquets de Mesmer (Louis Figuier, “Mesmer entre en relations avec les corps savants,” Les mystères de la science aujourd’hui 1 [Paris 1887], 135–52, here 145):


Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi apparently attended several such demonstrations; in several of his letters to Schelling he mentions visits to Ritter in Munich (e.g., two letters on 13 June 1807, “This evening I will bring you the conclusion to my treatise [his Academy presentation] at Ritter’s” [Fuhrmans 1:380], “I hope we will see each other tonight at Ritter’s” [Fuhrmans 3:433]; regrets missing a session at Ritter’s, 17 June 1807 [Fuhrmans 3:442]; “This evening, before I go to Ritter’s, I will stop by and speak with you,” 30 June 1807 [Fuhrmans 1:381]; mentions securing an otherwise unidentified “apparatus” for such demonstrations in August 1807 [Fuhrmans 3:450]). Back.

[32] The joujoux de Normandie (Fr., “toys of Normandy”) was the original European name of the yo-yo (JoJo), so-called because it presumably came to Germany by way first of Normandy, then Flanders and the Netherlands. It was enjoyed not just by children, but also by adults as a fashionable pastime, initially in mineral-springs spas such as Aachen, Pyrmont, and Karlsbad (cordial communication from Sabine Schierhoff, citing Friedrich Justin Bertuch, “Joujou [JoJo. Modespiel] Normandie,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 7 [1792] 1 [January], 6–13).

Sabine Schierhoff with a reproduction made according to Bertuch’s instructions and diagrams in that January 1792 issue of Journal des Luxus und der Moden:


The following illustration on the left from anonymous, “Mode-Neuigkeiten 1: Aus England,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 6 (1791) 10 (October), 574–79, here p. 584a, plate 30; illustration on the right via cordial communication from Sabine Schierhoff:


Caroline’s comparison makes particularly vivid sense when considered in view of the illustrations above and this early twentieth-century photograph of the vertical positioning of the pendulum about which she is writing (Friedrich Kallenberg, Offenbarungen des siderischen Pendels: Die Leben ausströmende Photographie und Handschrift [Diesen 1913], 30):


See the following illustration of the comparable reaction of pendulums to the indicated human magnetic force fields (anonymous, [Frolob., engraver], Technische Versuchsanordnung mit diversen Apparaturen, einer weiblichen Versuchsperson und zwei Büsten im Hintergrund; Herzog August Bibliothek;Graph. Res. C/ 21):



[32a] See in this context esp. Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s letter to Schelling on 24 May 1808 (letter 432d). Back.

[33] Johann Friedrich Cotta’s enormously popular journal Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände (1807–65) (after no. 156 in 1837: “für gebildete Leser“) appeared up to six times a week.


Therese Huber edited it 1816–23. The catalog description of the reissue by Walter de Gruyter publishing company and edited by the Deutsches Literaturarchiv reads as follows: “the most important German periodical for literature, art and culture during the first half of the 19th century. It was a popular magazine, belonging to the standard repertoire of reading circles, combining the fine arts with historical disciplines, the life sciences, and technology. With its broad spectrum of interests, the Morgenblatt is a reflection of cultural and literary developments in Germany.” Back.

[34] I.e., the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1801–59), originally edited by Karl Spazier. Concerning its more expansive and eclectic character compared to the more strictly literary or literary-critical journals of the time, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326), note 24. Back.

[35] Emma and Minna ((Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1802 für edle Weiber und Mädchen; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott