Letter 433

• 433. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Munich, 6 June 1808

[Munich] 6 June [18]08

|525| Now that the charming celebration of Whitsun has arrived here, [1] I really should finally offer my thanks for the letters I received around Easter, for the trouble you went to, my dear friend. Indeed, I even still have a debt to repay from Christmas insofar as I have still not answered Minchen. [2] But the extreme distance between us also invariably drags a long period of time behind it. [3]

In the meantime, however, the other people from Gotha here [4] have doubtless been considerably more diligent such that I now probably have considerably less to report that is new, my dear, concerning a particular point that no doubt otherwise is indeed of interest to you — namely, that my husband’s situation here has been considerably enhanced insofar as the king appointed him general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts, which was only recently established, [5] in addition to his current position as a member of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities. [6] He now has the disposition and status of a council director and a salary supplement bringing him up to 2700–3000 fl. (15–1600 rh.) fixum. [7]

In reality, however, nothing really out of the ordinary has thereby been effected insofar as Schelling had previously only retained his Würzburg salary and in that sense had to remain behind other, extremely undistinguished people |526| and really could not be kept on thus. Lecture fees had doubled that salary in Würzburg. Moreover, such an enhancement was already assured him here from the outset.

But it certainly could not have been granted him in a more pleasant way, namely, through the unanimous agreement of all the higher administrators from the king and minister on. For the duties attaching to the position itself will be easy enough to execute, the entire business highly interesting, his own situation quite independent and offering a considerable number of rather attractive prospects as well. [8]

No one knew anything about the plan except those directly responsible for implementing it, and they had given their solemn word to observe the greatest secrecy, particularly concerning Schelling’s appointment in that regard, so that in the end it came as no small surprise when the whole thing finally came to light. What also particularly pleases Schelling is that the Bavarians here are uncommonly satisfied with it all and are happy to grant him the position, whereas otherwise they generally neither acknowledge the attainments foreigners already have nor respect them for those attainments.

Without him even having intended it thus, the oration he delivered on the king’s name day and which dealt with the formative arts did prompt his appointment to these various responsibilities. [9] I will try to enclose the constitution of the new academy with this letter so that all of you can read in more detail about his situation now. [10] It will admittedly be quite different from that of the other general secretary, who has fallen completely into the role of a servant, [11] and whose uniform looks no better on him than a livrée, [12] indeed, not even the status of the Order elevates him. [13]

For all of you surely know that we now also have a legion d’honneur, do you not? [14] Gotha has supplied it with 2 lesser knights |527| who frankly do not really know why they were chosen. [15] Schelling, too, was tapped for the Order. He looks quite good in it, indeed as if he has always had it. [16] And I must say that I do get a certain amount of satisfaction from the fact that my husband has gotten as far as my father. [17]

It is a festive time here. First we had to discuss the new constitution for the entire realm, [18] then that of the Academy of Fine Arts, then the Order, then there was a fête [19] that the minister gave for the entire Order along with the wives, and now the marriage of the princess with the crown prince of Württemberg, [20] an air flight by Garnerin, [21] subterranean illumination, [22] and an Italian opera in which Brizzi and Mademoiselle Bertinotti are singing. [23]

May heaven preserve us with such joy! Truly, we are about the only state without daily confusion and distress, where the regent and the people are still one. [24] And I myself was glad to be here for this reason alone, as was my husband, even when we could not yet boast of any particularly well-to-do situation.

But why are your own countrymen so hard to please? [25] After all, without a rather wondrous stroke of pure chance they could never count on as many good things as they have access to here, and yet they always make la petite bouche [26] as if they always had it better before. Sometimes it also looks as if they do not quite trust their own good fortune — if, e.g., you were to see how they wear their Order regalia, you would think they were constantly fearing that the whole thing might turn into medlars and nuts overnight as with the prince in the piece by Madame Beaumont. [27]

As far as Schlichtegroll is concerned, the whole thing is dissemblance. According to one bit of information one has about him here, he really is trying to get recalled back to Gotha but is doing so only to finagle a salary supplement for himself here.

Jacobs generally talks quite reasonably, but then otherwise, wherever |528| he happens to go or be, only about the uneasiness he feels. He cannot go back, he says, because he has lost his innocence. He believes Gotha would no longer please him. If, however, as he puts it, he could return to that paradise such that he would also have no consciousness of ever having left, then, yes, he would certainly like to do so. [28] [Personal circumstances.]

For the sake of your dear daughters, I must report that Herr von Rumohr has again found his way here — although viewed in the light of day the confused rumblings [29] in this young man are fairly void of any purpose or goal, and vacillating to and fro the way he does, his very presence can be quite burdensome. For me at least, nothing is more inconsolable or dreary than a baron so utterly adrift as he. He was intending to settle here, leave his earthly goods behind, and follow in the footsteps of Christ — but I suspect he will soon be setting off again because there is no seafood here and he is unable to find a table or kitchen commensurate with his taste. [30]

My dear Cäcilie, had you not laid your own artistic endeavors aside, I could now genuinely be of benefit and service to you. [31] We have some excellent artists here in the person of the two Langers from Düsseldorf, [32] and the general secretary would be happy to take you under his personal protection. But I do not want to remind you of that friendly dream of youth.

Dream, though gracious, I thee repel;
Love and life here also dwell. [33] 

What may perhaps keep me from enclosing the constitution [34] and oration is that I am not sure I can frank them the entire way to Gotha — but there will be an occasion to do so later. Madam Niethammer is now in Jena. [35]

Stay very well, all of you, and remember us often.



[1] Easter Sunday fell on 17 April in 1808, Whitsunday on 5 June, the day before Caroline is here writing. Back.

[2] These letters to Caroline seem to be lost. Back.

[3] Gotha is located ca. 375 km from Munich (Thomas Kitchin, Germany [n.p., n.d.]):



[4] 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):



[5] The organizational document establishing the Academy of Fine Arts is dated 13 May 1808. Back.

[6] Concerning the distinction between the two academies, Schelling’s position in each, and the long-term prospects for Schelling’s status in Munich, see Schelling’s letter to Johann Friedrich Cotta on 15 May 1808 (letter 432c), note 1. Back.

[7] Latin, here: “fixed salary.”

Erich Schmidt, (1913), 659, maintains that Schelling’s salary in Würzburg had been 1200 fl. What Caroline puts at 2700–3000 fl. is interpreted as follows by Horst Fuhrmans in two different publications:

  • Schelling had had a salary of 1500 fl. in Würzburg, to which was now added a supplement in excess of 1000 fl. (according to Schelling und Cotta Briefwechsel 1803–1849, ed. Horst Fuhrmans and Liselotte Lohrer [Stuttgart 1965], 292n31,19);
  • Schelling now received approximately 1400 fl. as general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts along with 1600 fl. as a member of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities (according to Fuhrmans 1:355; 3:499fn1). Back.

[8] What Caroline here calls “attractive prospects” Schelling presumably mentions in his letter to Goethe on 17 October 1807 (see below) as the “fulfillment of one of my earliest wishes,” namely, the long postponed journey to Italy.

Here views from a journal for artists and art aficionados essentially contemporaneous with Caroline’s letter here; illustrations: (1) Ostia; (2) the Tiber Valley (Almanach aus Rom für Künstler und Freunde der bildenden Kunst [1810, 1811]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




[9] Caroline’s remarks here (“Without him even having intended it thus”) are disingenuous.

Immediately after delivering the plenary lecture to the Academy of Fine Arts back on 12 October 1807, the “On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature”, Schelling sent a copy to Goethe on 17 October 1807, adding in his letter (Goethe und die Romantik) 1:251–52:

The piece was directed more at the friends and connoisseurs of art than at aficionados of philosophy who are less at ease with the foundation of art found in the life of nature, and who thus esteem only the conclusion of the lecture without really comprehending its beginning.

It is for this reason that I would sooner also like to hear some assessments from artists or connoisseurs; indeed, were it but possible for the Weimar Friends of the Arts [viz., effectively Goethe himself] to speak a true word about it in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, my highest wish would be fulfilled.

The success the lecture enjoyed here [Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi was the only dissenting voice], if supported by a serious response from outside this state, could very well be quite advantageous to my situation here.

I would very much like a sphere of influence in the Academy of Fine Arts here that will be opened very soon, whereby I might reliably anticipate exercising such influence more through my social contacts and presence than through any more traditional, formal teaching — and this would secure the fulfillment of one of my earliest wishes, namely, that of being able to undertake a journey to the locus of the treasures of art in Italy and France.

It is to this region, that of art, that I am now intent on directing my public activity, building on the earlier foundation of my acquaintance with antiquity. It is to this prospect that my mind and heart have turned ever more zealously after having left the office of teaching, that I might be released from that more fragmented sphere to acquire a loftier form for my best, innermost striving than has been hitherto possible for me.

As far back as May 1803, when Caroline and Schelling left Jena for good, Johann Wilhelm Ritter had mentioned in a letter (letter 378b) that they would be going not only to Swabia (where they married in June), but also to Switzerland (“Helvetien” on map below) and on to Italy, then returning “by way of France and perhaps Spain, though not for 2 years” (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):


Had even part of this anticipated itinerary been actualized, Schelling and certainly Caroline’s life would have taken a considerably different turn, and, if speculation be allowed, her expanded correspondence doubtless been enriched to an astonishing degree. One can but lament the loss.

In any case, Goethe did not publish such a review, which Schelling was hoping would both help rehabilitate him as a persona non grata (after the experiences in Würzburg) at the Bavarian court and also put him in a better position to take advantage of the new academy that was in the making.

This decision on Goethe’s part, however — who felt he could not review Schelling’s piece without also mentioning that of his friend Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi as well — was of no real consequence with respect to Schelling’s goals, since the lecture was a grand success in any case, including among government representatives who attended, including especially the crown prince, Ludwig, and it is probably not without some influence on his part that Schelling did indeed, following the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts on 13 May 1808, become general secretary of the organization, providing him with a measure of independence over against the Academy of Sciences and Humanities. As seen earlier (Schelling’s letter to Cotta on 15 May 1808 [letter 432c]), Fuhrmans (1:355) tellingly adds that

Schelling’s status in Munich had thereby finally acquired firm footing, and above all he had finally managed to extricate himself from the (to put it bluntly) initial disfavor with which he had come to Munich in the first place. Back.

[10] See in this regard Schelling’s letter to Johann Friedrich Cotta on 15 May 1808 (letter 432c), note 3. Back.

[11] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 9 March 1808 (letter 431), note 15. Back.

[12] Fr., “livery.” Back.

[13] See below concerning Schlichtegroll’s reception of membership in what Caroline now calls the legion d’honneur. Back.

[14] Fr., “legion of honor,” for Germ. original Zivil-Verdienst-Orden der baierischen Krone, “Civil Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown.” See Fuhrmans 1:355:

May 1808 provided yet another enhancement [in addition to the appointment as general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts] when the king established the Civil Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown, whose bearers were thereby elevated to the status of personal (non-hereditary) nobility; along with Schlichtegroll, Baader, and others, Schelling, too, received the Order and status of a Knight of the Order on 27 May 1808. This distinction essentially constituted inclusion among the notables of the new [since 1806] kingdom — something Schelling did not accept without an element of self-satisfaction. This development secured his position in Munich and assured him of the respect of the king and court.

The establishment of the order was officially announced in the Baierische National-Zeitung (1808) 126 (Friday, 27 May 1808), 512–14. Schelling now bore the non-hereditary surname “von Schelling.” Back.

[15] Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi had received the Commander’s Cross, while Franz von Baader, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Breyer, Schelling, Friedrich Jacobs (of Gotha), and Friedrich von Schlichtegroll (of Gotha) received the order of the Knight. Back.

[16] The constitution of the Order stipulated insignia for the various classes similar to the way the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities did for its uniforms.

The Great Cross of the Order consisted of an 8-pointed, white-enameled cross surrounded by an oak-wreath covered with the royal crown, in the middle the blue and white rhombus next to the golden crown with the inscription Virtus et honos (virtue and honor), and on the similarly formed lower part with the breast profile of the founder (the king) in gold, with the inscription Max. Jos. Rex Bojariae (Max[imilian] Jos[eph] king of Bavaria).

The cross was to be worn draped from the left shoulder down to the right hip on a four-finger wide, light blue silken ribbon whose edges were bordered in white. The star worn on the left side of the outer clothing on the chest was to be an 8-pointed silver cross with radiating beams, in the middle the royal crown on the blue and white rhombus with the inscription Virtus et honos against a red background and surrounded by an oak wreath.

The crosses of the commandant and knights (Schelling’s class) were to be similar to the Great Cross except in a smaller format and secured in a buttonhole (Baierische National-Zeitung [1808] 126 [Friday, 27 May 1808], 513). Back.

[17] Caroline’s father, Johann David Michaelis, had been quite proud of his own Swedish Order of the North Star. See also the church record of Lotte Michaelis’s wedding in Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter back on 20 April 1792 (letter 112), note 16. Back.

[18] I.e., of the Kingdom of Bavaria (Central Europe Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7, map 92 in the Cambridge Modern History Atlas [1912], Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas Libraries):



[19] Fr., “party, celebration, festivities.” Back.

[20] On 8 April 1808, Princess Charlotte Karoline Auguste of Bavaria, daughter of Maximilian I, had married Crown Prince Wilhelm of Württemberg, for whom the marriage was merely a way to avoid a forced marriage at Napoleon’s behest of the sort Charlotte’s sister, Princess Augusta of Bavaria, had had to accept when she married Eugène de Beauharnais (see supplementary appendix 400a.1). Back.

[21] Caroline regrettably says no more about this hot-air balloon exhibition in Munich by André-Jacques Garnerin, who had performed elsewhere in Germany as well, e.g., at the Frankfurt book fair in 1805 and for the royal couple in Berlin in 1803. Fortunately, however, his exhibition and stay in Munich, during which he also lectured, was copiously reported in the Baierische National-Zeitung.

Issue 133 (Saturday, 4 June 1808), 538, i.e., two days before Caroline is here writing, announced that Garnerin’s balloon, scheduled to lift off on either 9 or 10 June, could forthwith be viewed all day each day in the redoute hall up till the day of the flight, fully inflated, attached to its gondola and anchor, and decorated with the Bavarian, French, and Württemberg flags (in honor of the wedding).

Entry fees were 24 kr. for the floor of the hall, where visitors could also view the interior of the balloon, and 12 kr. for the gallery. Tickets for the flight (presumably for the takeoff in the courtyard behind the Royal Residence) were 2 fl. 24 kr. for those wishing to reserve seats, and 1 fl. 12 kr. for entry to the viewing area without seats.

Caroline and Schelling might have viewed the flight from various points in the town (see supplementary appendix below) (frontispiece to Captain Sowden and Mr. Locker, Air Balloon: A Full and Accurate Account of the Two Aërial Voyages Made By Monsr. Garnerin on Monday, June 28, and Monday, July 5, 1802 [Sommers-Town 1802]; second illustration: Caricatures parisiennes: Le Goût du Jour n° 8: Ascension de Madame Garnerin, le 28 mars 1802 [Paris 1802]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):


See supplementary appendix 433.1. Back.

[22] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[23] This performance took place on Thursday, 9 June 1808; the piece was Adelasia ed Aleramo, an opera in two acts by the Bavarian composer Johann Simon Mayr, libretto by Luigi Romanelli; see the Baierische National-Zeitung (1808) 137 (Friday, 10 June 1808), 556:


Munich, 10 June [1808]. Yesterday, in celebration of the fortunate marriage of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Württemberg with the Most Serene Princess Charlotte Augusta, Royal Highness, a serious Italian opera in 2 acts, Adelasia ed Aleramo, was performed in the Royal Theater, with the music of E. Maier and with free entry.

(Adelasia ed Aleramo: dramma serio per musica in due atti del Signor Luigi Romanelli [Monaco 1808]; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek):


The Illustrious Royal Personages and the High Newlyweds received from the public the homage and congratulations of every heart through universal applause at Their entrance, for a union that now unites two neighboring, cordially allied nations even more strongly through the bonds of the families of their Sublime Reigning Houses.

A grand and spectacular assembly of the first and most illustrious persons of the capital, the music performed with the utmost precision under the direction of Royal Music Director Herr Fränzel, the distinguished talents of the singers, the ladies Mademoiselle Bertinotti and Madame Marchetti, and the gentlemen Herr Brizzi, Mittermaler, etc. etc., the beauty of the decorations and sets, and the splendor of the costumes provided a spectacle worthy of the sublime occasion of this celebration, a spectacle the public similarly received with gratitude from the grace of its Beloved and Benevolent King. Back.

[24] Bavaria was a French ally, and Maximilian king by the grace of Napoleon; Bavaria had also not been the setting for military encounters for several years, a circumstance, however, that soon changed. Back.

[25] That is, members of Munich’s “Gotha (or Saxon) colony” mentioned above. Back.

[26] Fr., lit., “(make) the small mouth,” i.e., fig.: “to pout.” Back.

[27] See supplementary appendix 433.2. Caroline made this same allusion in an earlier letter to the Gotters as well. Back.

[28] Concerning Friedrich Jacobs’s chronic uneasiness and homesickness in Munich, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 9 March 1808 (letter 431), and esp. supplementary appendix 431.1. He eventually returned to Gotha. Back.

[29] Caroline uses a clever play on words with Rumohr’s name, using the verb rumoren (Johann Christoph Adelung The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages, composed chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adelung and of Mr. Schwan, 3 vols. [Leipzig 1796–99], vol. 2, s.v.): “To make a thundering Noise, a Rumour, a Bustle, &c. to tumultuate; (figur.) to imbroil, to confound or disorder, to make a Confusion or to put in Confusion.” Back.

[30] Der neuesten Moden Almanach auf das Jahr 1808 [Vienna]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Rumohr, who seems to have left Munich in July, was also a gourmet and author of the cookbook Geist der Kochkunst: von Joseph König. Ueberarbeitet und herausgegeben von C. F. von Rumohr (Stuttgart, Tübingen, Hamburg 1822); the book is still in print.


In her later letter to Pauline Gotter on 16 September 1808 (letter 435), after Rumohr had already left Munich, Caroline, after first praising Rumohr’s extraordinary sensibility for art, quips that

his sense for hearty eating is equally well developed. There can be absolutely no criticism of his understanding of cuisine, except that it is abominable to hear someone speak as intimately about a sea crab as about a portrayal of the little Lord Jesus. Back.

[31] Caroline had earlier tried for several years to help Cäcilie Gotter further her wish to become professional artist (Göttingisches Taschenbuch zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1802; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[32] Johann Peter von Langer and Robert von Langer, both of whom were associated with the Academy of Fine Arts. Back.

[33] Given the fact that Cäcilie had indeed abandoned her youthful aspirations to paint and draw professionally, Caroline’s preening and continued remarks about Schelling’s new position here seem self-serving and even callous.

Caroline in any case cites this verse from memory, albeit hearing “gracious” (Germ. hold) instead of “gold” (Germ. Gold) from Goethe’s poem “Auf dem See”; here in translation, “On the Lake,” in The Poems of Goethe, ed. Nathan Haskell Dole, 2 vols. (Boston 1902), 1:48:

And here I drink new blood, fresh food
From world so free, so blest;
How sweet is nature and how good
Who holds me to her breast!

The waves are cradling up our boat,
The oars are beating time;
Mountains we meet that seem afloat
In heav'nly clouds sublime.

Why, my eye, art downward turning?
Golden dreams, are ye returning?
Dream, though gold, I thee repel;
Love and life here also dwell.

'Neath the waves are sinking
Stars from heaven sparkling;
Soft white mists are drinking,
Distance towering, darkling.

Morning wind is fanning
Trees by the bay that root,
And its image scanning
Is the ripening fruit. Back.

[34] Of the Academy of Fine Arts. Back.

[35] Uncertain allusion; the Niethammers were about to move from Bamberg to Munich. They may still have owned property in Jena (e.g., Leutragasse 5), prompting Madam Niethammer’s journey Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott