Letter 424a

424a. Henriette von Hoven to Charlotte Schiller in Weimar: Nürnberg, 6 August 1807 [*]

Nürnberg, 6 August 1807

Hoven is so pleased that his plans for the charitable institutions were realized; all this makes him extremely happy, he is living completely within this idea of doing good wherever he can, and indeed has ample opportunity to do so. [1] But the situation in the world has made him quite pensive, and he views it all with cheerless eyes. — We will be getting a free residence into which we will be moving before winter, and I truly hope we can then finally find peace and quiet, for I am just so weary of all the commotion and moving.

You ask about the Jena colony. [2] Madam Paulus is in Bamberg, and as far as I know is satisfied there; [3] she always enjoyed being there and has also found her old friends again. [4] She came through here six to eight weeks ago on her way to Swabia, though I did not see her. [5] Madam Niethammer is living near the court. [6] She was not particularly pleased with having to leave Bamberg.

Our friend Madam Hufeland in Landshut is often seen at the residence palace, where she delights both eye and ear with her figure and singing. [7] That provides some recreation for her, since Landshut is allegedly ungrateful toward her.

The Crown of All Women [8] is living quite lonely and — frugally, circumstances requiring such, and no one disturbs her philosophical gait. [9] Schelling is popular among various people in Munich, perhaps covertly among quite many. Breyer is generally well respected, having also an active friend in Jakobi. [10]

It was entertaining and in part quite instructive to witness all the discourse and actions of this colony in Würzburg; my observation of these people enriched my own experience not a little, though there were certainly some strange scenes. I kept my distance and came away with a black eye. I count myself blessed that I no longer have to live among them. [11]

How is Goethe? Has his health improved? [12] Word has it that on the day of the battle of Jena, he married Mademoiselle Vulpius. [13]


[*] Source: Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde 3:281.

The Hovens had just arrived in Nürnberg from Ansbach; concerning their moves since leaving Würzburg, see Henriette von Hoven’s letter to Charlotte Schiller on 8 March 1806 (letter 400i), note 1 (J. Walch, Neueste Post-Karte von Deutschland und dessen angrenzenden Laendern [Augsburg 1813]; illustration: Matthäus Merian [1648]):




[1] Friedrich von Hoven recounts this period in his autobiography, Biographie des Doctor Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven: Von ihm selbst geschrieben und wenige Tage vor seinem Tode noch beendiget, ed. Andreas H. Merkel (Nürnberg 1840), 215–18 (illustrations: [1[ Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 7 [Vienna 1781], plate 43; [2] “Frauen Kranckheiten,” in Wolf Helmhardt von Hohberg, Georgica Curiosa Aucta, Das ist: Umständlicher Bericht und klarer Unterricht Von dem Adelichen Land- und Feld-Leben etc., vol. 1, part 3 [1695], 439):

So I spent almost four months in Ansbach until finally the town of Nürnberg was ceded to the Bavarian crown [as a result of the Treaty of Pressburg]. Although one can easily imagine how thrilled I was at this development, because I could not be immediately employed there Count von Thürheim at first sent me there merely on commission that I might examine the various public hospitals on site and come up with a tentative plan for an institution more commensurate with the present age.

Because such a study would require considerable time, and because both I and Count von Thürheim deemed it clearly more advantageous for me to be in Nürnberg than in Ansbach, he allowed me to move there with my family as soon as I wanted. Hence I gave notice on my residence in Ansbach and rented one in Nürnberg, and at the end of July I departed Ansbach with my family. . . . In Nürnberg, too, I again rented an entire house in which I could live alone with my family . . .

As soon as we had gotten settled in our new residence, I commenced my work there, which was to examine all the health-related institutions more closely and, after becoming intimately acquainted with them all, to present my report. Unfortunately, that report was not at all favorably disposed toward them. Apart from the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, all the others were in such sorry condition that I could not but request their complete dissolution.

There were three such institutions, namely, the Hospital, called Zu den Hundert Suppen [“at the hundred soups”], the Schau- oder Schauerhaus [“show or shiver house”], and, outside the town proper, the Hospital of St. Sebastian. The Hospital was generally used for taking in the acutely ill, and both the building itself and the entire organization were so horrible that it is incomprehensible how any ill person could be healed there.


The Schau- or Schauerhaus was even worse, and was used primarily to house the chronically ill. It was not so much a hospital as a communal residence for several impoverished families who were allowed to reside there under the condition that each family would take in and care for one or two sick persons [ed.note: these dangerously ill persons were housed in the Schauerhaus in seven rooms (“Etwas über den Aufsatz vom Kanzelpasse,” Journal von und für Deutschland 9 [1792], 443–46, here 444)]. Saint Sebastian’s was a bit better, which housed exclusively those ill with mange, skin disorders, venereal disease, and in general repulsive illnesses . . .

Even the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, though the only one meriting the name of a genuine public institution, was extremely deficient, for it was not really a hospital at all, but rather an institution for elderly, poor, and feeble persons, and yet even for them poorly organized. . . .


In these circumstances, the first thing I requested, naturally, was the complete dissolution of those three institutions and the swift establishment either of a single general hospital or of several individual ones in appropriate buildings, and better organization for the Hospital of the Holy Spirit as a health facility.

As late as 1849, Friedrich von Hoven was still remembered as the driving force behind the renovation and improvement of the Hospital of the Holy spirit, here in illustrations showing both an exterior view and the interior courtyard (Friedrich Mayer, Nürnberg und seine Merkwürdigkeiten: ein Wegweiser für Fremde [Nürnberg 1849], 65):




[2] I.e., the former group of professors and their spouses who had come to Würzburg in 1803 and 1804 after the bishopric had passed to Bavaria. After 1806, when Würzburg passed to Ferdinand III and Protestants were no longer welcome (and eventually banned) on the faculty, the Bavarian government provided employment for them elsewhere, albeit not always to their liking. Back.

[3] Concerning the the Paulus family’s move from Würzburg to Bamberg, see Dorothea Veit’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 23 February 1806 (letter 400h), note 1. Back.

[4] Concerning the Pauluses’ earlier connections with Bamberg and Bocklet, see Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 28 July 1800 (letter 265i), note 2. Concerning Karoline Paulus’s relationship with Adalbert Friedrich Marcus, who was still living in Bamberg, see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374), note 16. Back.

[5] The Paulus family did not remain long in Bamberg. In September 1808, Paulus, who was quite dissatisfied with his administrative work there and who felt hindered in his scholarly aspirations, receiveed an appointment as an administrative educator in Nürnberg, having already worked in this capacity with Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer while in Bamberg. Back.

[6] Concerning the Niethammers, who had been in Munich since late July 1807, see Caroline’s letter to Beate Gross on 31 July 1807 (letter 424), note 9. Living “near the court” meant that they were living near the royal residence and palace complex on Max Square in Munich; see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421), note 7.

In 1809 the Akademisches Taschenbuch für die Mitglieder der Königl. Akademie der Wissenschaft zu München auf das Jahr 1809 (Munich 1809), 144 (similarly in the later edition of 1811, p. 167), lists the Niethammers’ residence at Am Maxthor 204, here in relationship to both the royal residence and palace on the right, and the Schellings’ initial apartment at Karlsthor 7 on the left (the Schellings had changed residences by 1809); the Niethammers’ apartment location is at center (Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03):


Here in a closer view of the Max Thor complex (ibid.):



[7] Madam von Hoven’s reference is to the former, mid-sixteenth century Renaissance residential palace in Landshut built originally in the style of Italian palaces but no longer serving as a royal residence; the implication is that Madam Hufeland was socializing in loftier circles in Landshut society ([1] Franz Kugler, Geschichte der Baukunst, vol. 5 [Stuttgart 1872], 529; [2] interior photograph of the Italian Hall in the palace [undated postcard]):



The Hufelands had been in Landshut since 1806 but stayed only until 1808, when Gottlieb Hufeland was chosen mayor of his hometown, Danzig ([1] Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; [2] William R. Shepherd, “Germany and Italy in 1803,” Historical Atlas [New York 1923]):



Concerning Madam Hufeland’s singing, see the initial lines of Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel in 1797 (letter 187). She was similarly described as “an extremely elegant, vivacious woman” (Christian Gottfried Schütz to Wilhelm Schlegel on 25 December 1797 [letter 194b], note 4) who, as Caroline writes to Auguste on 4 November 1799 (letter 253), was “once again in her accustomed element” once the university professors’ club reopened (see note 5 there) (Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1805; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[8] I.e., Caroline (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, study of woman reading from 1779; Rijksmuseum):



[9] Brigitte Rossbeck, Zum Trotz glücklich: Caroline Schlegel-Schelling und die romantische Lebenskunst (Munich 2008), 256, points out that costs associated with rent (especially when the Schellings moved into more expensive arrangements), the employment of two domestic servants, and the frequent guests in the Schelling household had a marked effect on their expenses; e.g., sometimes expenses for wine alone constituted half of their monthly expense, otherwise nonetheless a third. Caroline was also still paying back a loan from Philipp Michaelis, which also involved accrued interest. The unstable geopolitical situation in Europe, of course, which included an embargo on English goods, contributed to inflation. Back.

[10] Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Breyer, Schelling’s cousin, had been in Landshut since 1804 before receiving an appointment in Munich in 1807.

“Perhaps covertly among quite many”: Because Schelling had become a kind of persona non grata after his initially warm welcome in Bavaria back in 1803 insofar as his entire time in Würzburg had been essentially one of increasing conflict with adversaries, the Bavarian government was disinclined to offer him a professorship in, e.g., Landshut, or anywhere else. The solution was to sideline him, as it were, with a membership and compensation in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

At the same time, he had been a popular professor among students in Jena and Würzburg and had acquired a considerable reputation in the philosophical community at large, one that doubtless preceded him in Munich. In Munich, however, unlike in Jena and Würzburg, the Bavarian Catholic opposition was apparently setting the tone with regard to his presence.

See Kuno Fischer’s discussion of Bavarian Catholic opposition to Schelling. Back.

[11] Carlo Goldoni, I pettegolezzi delle donne (1750), in Opere complete, vol. 6 (Venice 1909), 437:


See the supplementary appendix on the ladies’ war at the University of Würzburg. Back.

[12] Goethe had been ill most of the spring of 1807 with a particularly virulent attack of what he called his “old malady” during the night of 16/17 April (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:205), and eventually spent from late May till September 1807 in the mineral-springs spa of Karlsbad (Genealogischer Calender auf das Jahr 1785 [Berlin]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[13] Goethe had married Christiane Vulpius on 19 October 1806. In her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419), Caroline remarks that “public accounts relate that on the day of the battle, he wed Mademoiselle Vulpius — as if trying to establish and indeed tighten bonds precisely at a time when all bonds seem sundered!” The situation was more complicated; see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419), note 5. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott