Letter 429

• 429. Caroline to Luise Wiedemann in Kiel: Munich, 22 February 1808

[Munich] 22 February [1808]

|515| From my last letter in January, which I hope you have already received, you can see how little I suspected that the end was so near. [1] It upset me more than I can put into words, more even than you might comprehend insofar as you, having watched our poor mother suffer, cannot but view the cessation of such suffering as a comfort. As I do as well, except that I perceive this event as the tearing asunder of the last, intimate, natural bond between Mother Earth and myself. I consider what I have already lost, and the way — if I may put it this way — I have been tuned to the point of devastation by every possible dissonance of pain and have already had to endure so much death. [2]

My eyes have hardly been dry since I received this news. I seized on it as an occasion — or so it seems even to me — to cry myself completely out, since I was now able to do so without virtually rending the heart of the very best husband at the same time. But then again, when I consider how laborious were our dear mother’s final steps to the grave, it is almost no comfort to me to consider, on the other hand, that it |516| is now over. Anything comforting that you can yet relate to me about it all will be an enormous favor to me.

Schelling knows the preacher Fock by reputation as an excellent man. I am so glad she was yet able to converse with someone who could reassure her calmly and sensibly. You remark that she died during the night from the 5th to the 6th. Philipp, whose letter I received today, mentions the night of the 4th to the 5th. Please let me know which it is. It was on February 4 that Böhmer died. [3]

May God grant you unclouded days now and preserve your children. [4] [Distribution of inheritance.]

I do indeed remember well Doctor Kleucker as a teacher in our house, and even more vividly than is usually the case. [5] Please give him my regards; tell him I enjoyed reading what he published on Indian things and also that Schelling thinks quite highly of him and indeed first became acquainted with the Zend-Avesta through him. [6]

Madam Hufeland was here for two weeks with Therese and Adolph [7] — I have no idea how it happened, but enough: she paid me another visit with Madam Niethammer, with whom she was staying, and I in my own turn was together with her several times afterward as well. You can well imagine that I acted not in the least unpleasantly toward her. [8] Indeed, she was rather shy. The extent to which she has become ugly, however, cannot be described, so much so that people here consider her to be as remarkably ugly as she used to be considered remarkably beautiful. Her excessive use of rouge has also ruined her skin. She looks wholly like a caricature, though Therese is gracefully charming and of a rather frivolous predisposition. [9] Mathilde will also be staying here. Are all of you also reading the letters you receive? [9a]

Stay well, my dear Luise, and stay healthy. Schelling sends his greetings, |517| as do I to Wiedemann. We have been living like birds up in the branches since the great sinking of the earth that came upon us. [10] We still do not know when we will be traveling — but it will happen eventually. [11]


[1] Louise Philippine Antoinette Michaelis, Caroline and Luise’s mother, had died on 5 February 1808; Caroline’s letter to Luise of January 1808 is not extant.

Here two representative illustrations of such a situation ([1] Johann August Rossmäßler, Frau auf dem Totenbett mit Familienangehörigen und Höflingen [ca. 1776–1825]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 2277; [2] an illustration to Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s novel Lienhard und Gertrud, 4 vols. [1781–87], “Grandmother Catherine passes away” (D. Chodowiecki, (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Die Grossmutter Catharine stirbt [1782]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.531):



[2] Caroline had lost all four of her children: Johann Franz Wilhelm Böhmer, Therese (Röschen) Böhmer, Wilhelm Julius Kranz (Böhmer), and Auguste, her first husband, Franz Wilhelm Böhmer as well as, in 1791, her father. She had also, however, lost friends and relatives under painful circumstances, such as her sister-in-law Philippine Hoppenstedt, née Böhmer, who had died in childbirth back in 1801 (Rudolph Zacharias Becker, Das Noth- und Hülfs-Büchlein Oder Lehrreiche Freuden- und Trauer-Geschichte Des Dorfes Mildheim, vol. 2, rev. ed. [Gotha 1815], 793):



[3] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in February 1788 (letter 85), note 2, concerning the death of her first husband in February 1788. For Caroline’s further reaction to her mother’s death, see her letters to Luise Gotter on 9 March 1808 (letter 431) and to Luise Wiedemann on 2 April 1808 (letter 432). Back.

[4] Emma and Minna Wiedemann. Back.

[5] Luise remarks in her autobiography (Erinnerungen 46):

After I had had my first Zoe, my dear mother also died [February 1808], who had long been sickly. Gout, though especially also her lower abdomen. She was by far not as old as I am now, and yet was never able to engage in any particularly strenuous activity, and had had a life without any significant losses. But she did not have a cheerful disposition despite the fact that she was of a calm nature. When she followed after us and came here [to Kiel], she did have quite pleasant contacts, one especially delightful one being the elderly Dr. Kleucker, who had earlier been a tutor in my father’s house, and a [his] little boy, of whom she was quite fond. He also accompanied Mother to her grave. —

My confinement with my first Zoe severely taxed me, so much so that even three weeks after the birth I only saw my mother once more. I was so severely ill that I was not permitted to go to her again. When she saw me, she thought I was an apparition from another world. [And] then the upsetting death of little Zoe [July 1808], who, like my little boy August, died quickly from a twisted intestine. Back.

[6] Johann Friedrich Kleucker, a theologian in Kiel, who had been a poor student in Göttingen in 1770–73, had translated the Zend-Avesta (3 vols. (Riga 1776–78):



[7] The Hufelands had three children, Mathilde, Therese, and Siegmund (Adolph), the latter of whose middle (or first) name was apparently Adolph. Adolph Hufeland is listed as a pupil in the Gymnasium in Munich in 1813, identified, moreover, as a native of Jena and as the son of a Justizrath and professor (which Gottlieb Hufeland was) (Jahres-Bericht von der königlichen Studien-Anstalt zu München [Munich 1813], 25; two years later similarly Feierlicher Schluss des Schuljahres in dem Königlich-Bayerischen Erziehungs-Institut für Studierende zu München 1815 [Munich 1815], 45, 46, 50).

It appears the Hufelands were bringing him (and perhaps Therese and Mathilde, as Caroline shortly remarks) to Munich to complete their education, and that this was the reason Madam Hufeland was staying with the Niethammers in the first place (having previously lived in the same house with them — and the Schlegels — in Jena at Leutragasse 5). For perhaps not coincidentally, in 1808 Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer had been appointed to an administrative position in Munich, where he was charged with reforming the secondary school system in Bavaria, including the humanistic Gymnasium. Back.

[8] Because Madam Hufeland was Luise Wiedemann’s sister-in-law, Caroline is careful to emphasize the propriety her own behavior (illustration: Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808):


To wit, Wilhelm Schlegel (and Schelling) had been on uneasy terms in Jena with the Hufelands in connection with the quarrel with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (see the correspondence esp. from the summer and autumn of 1799), and Caroline herself, when both couples were living in Würzburg, was involved in tense and uneasy relations with several faculty wives, including at least indirectly Konradine Luise Hufeland, in what later was called the “ladies’ war in Würzburg.” Back.

[9] “Das leichtsinnige Mädchen” (“The frivolous young girl”), Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1809; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[9a] Presumably from the Hufelands; as noted above, Madam Hufeland was Luise Wiedemann’s sister-in-law (Leipzig Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[10] Presumably an allusion to the geopolitical changes associated with Napoleon’s reshaping of Europe, esp. through the Treaty of Tilsit the previous summer. Caroline uses the same metaphor (birds on branches) in her letter to Luise Gotter on 9 March 1808 (letter 431), where, as here, she associates it with a change of circumstances; see below concerning the journey to Italy. Back.

[11] I.e., to Italy, a journey Caroline and Schelling had been trying to arrange since 1803 but could not undertake because of Schelling’s appointment in Würzburg along with military developments and geopolitical changes (Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. [New York 1921], 151):


Caroline and Schelling were intentionally not putting down roots in Munich that were too deep because they were counting on this journey to Italy finally materializing in connection with the establishment (in May 1808) of the new Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, of which Schelling would be not only a member but also an officer, namely, general secretary.

Concerning these plans earlier, see, e.g., Schelling’s letter to Georg Friedrich von Zentner on 19 January 1806 (letter 400d). Regrettably, the journey never materialized. That notwithstanding, one of the long-term goals behind Schelling’s decision to deliver the plenary address at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities for the name day of Maximilian I (the lecture “On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature”) was to engage his potential membership (he ended up becoming general secretary) in the envisioned Academy of Fine Arts to promote his and Caroline’s envisioned journey to Italy.

They seem still to have been discussing this possibility, otherwise Caroline would hardly have mentioned her confidence in this letter. See also her letter to Luise Gotter on 6 June 1808 (letter 433), in which she relates how Schelling’s new position in that academy offered a “considerable number of rather attractive prospects as well.” The realization of their journey likely never seemed (or indeed: was) closer than at this time. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott