Letter 432

• 432. Caroline to Luise Wiedemann in Kiel: Munich, 2 April 1808

[Munich] 2 April [1808]

|523| Your letter of March 9 only arrived here yesterday. I had one at the same time from Philipp written on the 21st with several powers of attorney already signed by you. [1] Thank God all of you are well and are only slightly subject to the present effects of the war in your region. I can certainly imagine that Mother’s death was more comforting for those around her than was her life, which had declined so. [2]

I, too, am more saddened by memories of the latter than the former, and the element that was so hard for me in all this was something that also affected me alone [3] — as far as what most affects you in it all, I am sooner relieved that your own domestic existence will invariably enjoy a greater degree of harmony now that you are alone with your husband and children. And do turn all your attention now to them, my dear Luise. [4]

But how much more salutary is it when one’s capacities and senses are more inclined to diminish in old age rather than, as was the case with Mother, attain a state of heightened sensibility. [Distribution of inheritance.]

Of course, I have now become completely the aunt they do not know. [5] And yet how can we arrange to get together again? I must say that yet another example of how people are now being cast about in the world is Hufeland. You do not seem to have heard that he has now been summoned back to his hometown, Danzig, as the chief mayor |524| and administrative (as long as General Rapp is there) vice president with an income of 5000 rh. [6] They were happy to accept the offer, and the decision has already been made that they will be going there at the beginning of the summer. They could probably not be happy staying in Landshut, [7] and his hometown along with family relations there also enticed him to accept, even though Danzig has indeed suffered a great deal from the war. Although General Rapp was in complete agreement with this appointment (it may be that he had made Hufeland’s acquaintance earlier in Switzerland), [8] as far as I know the definitive decree has not yet arrived.

Mathilde, about whom you ask, [9] is allegedly quite good now, less obstinate regardless of how she may otherwise invariably appear. An extremely large mouth and thoroughly rotten teeth (her poor mother is now wearing almost an entire row of wax teeth) distort her appearance somewhat, and the way she carries herself, given her height, lacks all grace. And although Therese can boast of many appealing features, her mother maintains she is nonetheless is a dreadful person. [10]

If you are still sitting there in the depths of winter, do not believe for a moment that we here are rid of snow ourselves and do not instead have a quite fresh supply — we cannot imagine how spring can even begin to make any inroads at this point.

If we but lived even half as far away from each other as we do now, I could ask that Emma come stay with me. [11] She would certainly be capable of offering assistance now herself. [12] Everything is so piecemeal now; I often have trouble getting by with everything without a nièce. It would also be a delight for Schelling, though I am sure he would often tease Emma about the dead hamster. [13] By the way, although I do not really live a solitary life, my own household has not really been arranged with such social gatherings in mind of the sort foreigners here now [14] . . .

[Conclusion is missing.]


[1] At issue is the inheritance from Caroline’s mother, who had died back on 5 February 1808; see Caroline’s letter to Luise on 22 February 1808 (letter 429) and to Luise Gotter on 9 March 1808 (letter 431). Here an attorney executes a last will and testament (Berlinischer Damen Kalender auf das Iahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Caroline, Luise Wiedemann, and Philipp Michaelis were the three surviving siblings. Lotte Dieterich, née Michaelis, had died in childbirth in 1793; concerning the perils of childbirth at the time for both mother and child, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 22 June 1785 (letter 57), notes 2, 3, and 5. Back.

[2] Madam Michaelis had apparently suffered from chronic depression, as attested in Caroline’s two letters (and others; see the cross references there) mentioned above (Frauenzimmer Allmanach zum Nutzen u Vergnügen für das Jahr 1792; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[3] Namely, that, as she put it in her letter to Luise on 22 February 1808 (letter 429), she had “already had to endure so much death,” i.e., in her own immediate family, including children and husband. See esp. note 2 there. Back.

[4] Emma and Minna Wiedemann (“Die Erholung,” Göttingischer Taschen-Kalender für das Schalt-Jahr 1808; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[5] I.e., to Luise’s two daughters. Caroline had not seen Emma since 1801 and had never met Minna. Beginning with Würzburg, Caroline had been residing increasingly distant from her sister and the latter’s family. Kiel was now essentially at the other end of Germany from Caroline’s residence, further even than Braunschweig, where Luise and her family had previously lived (“Central Europe: Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7,” Cambridge Modern History Atlas [Cambridge 1912]):



[6] After capitulating to the French army 25 May 1807, Danzig had become a free city with a French commandant or governor, namely, Genral Jean de Rapp. Hufeland’s wife, Luise Hufeland, was Luise Wiedemann’s sister-in-law, hence Caroline’s surprise that Luise has not yet heard about the move (map: “Central Europe: Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7,” Cambridge Modern History Atlas [Cambridge 1912]; illustration: excerpt from Mattäus Merian [1652]):




[7] Hufeland had received a faculty appointment in Landshut after having to leave Würzburg when the latter changed hands back in 1806 Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[8] Concerning Hufeland’s earlier journey to Switzerland, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 8–17 September 1803 (letter 381), note 32. Back.

[9] Strictly speaking, the Hufeland children were also part of Luise’s family relationships. Back.

[10] Caroline had recently seen Madame Hufeland socially on several occasions in Munich; see the fourth paragraph in Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 22 February 1808 (letter 429) (illustration: Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808):



[11] Kiel is located ca. 870 km from Munich; see maps above. Back.

[12] Emma, born on 1 October 1798, was now nine years old. Back.

[13] Wilhelm Schlegel had written from Jena to Sophie Bernhardi in Berlin back on 21 August 1801, when Luise Wiedemann and her daughter, Emma, were visiting the Schlegels in Jena, having returned to Jena with Caroline from Braunschweig (letter 327f):

Emma did indeed greatly enjoy your bonbons. A few days ago, Schelling gave her a small hamster that has been a great joy to her; this fashion is currently the grand delight of all the children here.

See esp. note 31 there. Back.

[14] Foreigners, i.e., non-Bavarians; concerning the “Gotha (or Saxon) colony” that had emerged in Munich, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 12 November (December?) 1807 (letter 426), especially with notes 2 and 5 there (Carlo Goldoni, Opere complete, Commedie die Carlo Goldoni [Venice], uncertain volume):



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott