Letter 425b

425b. Carl Friedrich von Rumohr to Ludwig Tieck in Ziebingen: Lübeck, 26 September 1807 [*]

26 September 1807

After my last journey, I am resolved to spend several years in Munich. [1] Although my original intention was even to have some sort of employment there, I have in the meantime reconsidered, since I can always live and work there as a private individual. [2] After what I have already written you, I need not enumerate any more reasons for this plan, since you yourself know how much more suitable Munich is both for literary studies as well as for the publication of those monumenta inedita. [3]

The proximity of such charming people, people, moreover, so kindly disposed toward me, such as Baader and Schelling, has also prompted me to carry out my plan quickly, and to set my departure for before Easter of next year. The Schellings, who have put up with me a great deal as a visitor at their home and with whom I have for some time spent some of the most wonderful days I can recall, viewing and talking constantly about art together as we did — remarked with regret how so many people who were earlier friends now no longer live together. [4]

They are working on securing an appointment for Steffens in Munich, and may God grant success to those efforts that he may escape his tense situation, which the overall fate of the Danes themselves has now made quite horrible. [5] I am hoping that once he has become firmly established there, he will become a valuable asset to the government through geognostic journeys and discoveries. Were it but possible to bring peace to this noble, intelligent person and prevent temporal concerns and vicissitudes from consuming him.

And finally, I would also inquire whether you yourself might not be inclined to visit me in Munich or perhaps even to go there with me, since you do indeed have considerable reason given your current studies. [6] I will live there in moderation and like a scholar that I may finally become something whole.


[*] Source: Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:187–88.

That Rumohr was expecting Tieck to be in Ziebingen is attested by his request at the end of this letter (not included) that Tieck might pass along his, Rumohr’s, regards to Wilhelm von Burgsdorf, Amalie Tieck, and the daughters of Burgsdorff’s uncle, Count Friedrich Ludwig Karl Finck von Finckenstein. Rumohr himself had written Tieck from Hamburg back in July 1807 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:181) on his way back to Lübeck and his estate Krempelsdorf outside Lübeck; the letter may have been written from either locale (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland [1804]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



[1] Rumohr had been in Munich in August 1807. See Caroline’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 24 August 1807 (letter 425). Back.

[2] Rumohr had remarked at the beginning of this letter (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:184) that “since we saw each other last, I have become my own master, an estate owner, in easy circumstances, in a comfortable and luxurious country.” To wit, his father, Henning von Rumohr (1722–1804), had died and left him not only in good condition financially, but also as the lord of the estates Bliestorf, Schenkenberg, Rothenhausen und Krempelsdorf.

It is from Krempelsdorf that Rumohr writes Caroline in early 1808 (letters 427, 430) and where he took in Henrik Steffens during the winter of 1807–8 after Steffens had lost his university position in Halle (concerning the siege of Halle and the closing of the university there, see supplementary appendix 417j.1; concerning Steffens’s time with Rumohr in Krempelsdorf, see supplementary appendix 427.1). Back.

[3] Latin, “unedited/unpublished monuments,” here: “manuscripts.” At the time, Tieck was intensely focused on gathering, examining, and publishing manuscripts of older German (here: national) literature, an interest, as seen earlier, he shared with Wilhelm Schlegel (see Sophie Bernhardi’s letter to Wilhelm on 19 September 1807 [letter 425a]). See Roger Paulin, Ludwig Tieck: A Literary Biography (Oxford 1986), 175:

It is nevertheless right to see Tieck’s main interest at this time in things medieval. His letters record an activity in this field disproportionate to anything else; his unpublished papers and marginalia reveal the true extent of his efforts. For a time, he seems to be in the forefront of activity in the field of old German texts. He made the acquaintance of Friedrich Heinrich von der Hagen, who in 1807 published the first modernized version of the Nibelungenlied and had brought Goethe’s attention to this national epic.

Tieck, having collected different manuscript variants on his recent travels, might have been resentful. But his was a generous nature in matters of common interest and concern. Making the younger man’s acquaintance in the autumn of 1807 [i.e., contemporaneous with this letter], and being attracted to him, he discussed plans with von der Hagen, exchanged books with him, even lending him his annotated copy of [Christoph Heinrich] Myller’s text [1782], with its interlinear variants. Tieck also had a store of material on the Heldenbuch, going so far as to announce an edition in 1807 and even sending part of the manuscript to the Heidelberg publisher, Johann Georg Zimmer [never published]. Back.

[4] I.e., friends from their earlier time together in Jena. In her letter to Luise Gotter on 4 January 1807 (letter 420), Caroline lamented:

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. My sorrow is only that they no longer poetize together — we at least hear nothing more of their songs.

Illustration from Goethe’s novelle The Good Women (Die guten Weiber [1801]), Goethe’s Works, trans. George Barrie (Philadelphia, New York, Boston 1885), vol. 3, 242:


Caroline later remarks in her letter to Johanna Frommann in November 1808 (letter 437):

Quite a large number of threads are coming together again here, some of which really have already been reconnected, others of which we can only see are on their way. For some time now, there has certainly been no lack of familiar faces.

See also Rumohr to Ludwig Tieck on 12 January 1808 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:191):

Aug. W. Schl[egel] was recently in Munich [with Madame de Staël]. In Munich we also have so many more points of contact now. And if Schelling succeeds in securing Steffens as well — something that does indeed have some prospect of success — that would round out a circle of the sort one finds today in very few German towns indeed. Back.

[5] Henrik Steffens had lost his position at Halle after Napoleon closed the university (see supplementary appendix 417j.1) and had been living on the charity of friends. He exchanged several letters with Schelling concerning an appointment in Munich but was unsuccessful.

Rumohr, however, was taking active steps to help Steffens during the autumn of 1807; see Caroline’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 24 August 1807 (letter 425), note 10. See Steffens’s own account of this period in his memoirs, supplementary appendix 427.1.

In the meantime, the Treaty of Tilsit had included secret clauses between Russia and France whereby Russia would join in a war against Great Britain should the latter not agree to restore France’s captured colonies; Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal were, moreover, to be compelled to put their fleets at France’s disposal to help the French against the superior British fleet, long one of Napoleon’s goals. In July 1807, however, Britain got wind of these secret clauses and of the danger of the Danish fleet being seized, so sent its own ships to persuade Denmark to send their fleet to England to prevent its seizure.

The Danes balked at such a request, and the British finally bombarded Copenhagen and destroyed part of its fleet, sailing the rest to British ports (Marie-Joseph-Louis-Adolphe Thiers, “Bombardement de Copenhague,” Collection de 350 gravures, dessins de Philippoteaux, etc. pour l’histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire, 2 vols. [Paris 1870], vol. 1, no. 128):


Although Napoleon thereby lost access to the Danish fleet, the French did invade and occupy Denmark itself, closing it and practically every other continental port to British shipping, albeit only nominally, for smuggling was encouraged in an attempt to drain Britain of gold. Denmark thus effectively became an ally of France, and Russia now declared war on Britain (Michael Glover, The Napoleonic Wars: An Illustrated History 1792–1815 [New York 1979], 124–28; The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of World History, ed. William L. Langer, 2 vols. (New York 1975), 1:622). Back.

[6] Ludwig Tieck did indeed move to Munich for a time with his sister, Sophie Bernhardi (October 1808–mid-1810). Caroline remarks in her letter to Luise Gotter on 15 January 1808 (letter 428) that she was expecting both Rumohr and Tieck toward the spring (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Besetztere und illuminierte Landkarte von Deutschland, from the 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 xlv):



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott