Letter 434

• 434. Pauline Gotter to Caroline in Munich: Gotha, 6 September 1808 [*]

Gotha, 6 September 1808

|529| With autumn approaching, all the émigrés have now found their way home again, and in relating news about their own activities are also unanimous in wishing and longing to hear a cordial bit of news from Munich again as soon as possible. [1]

Caecilie returned a week later than I from the nymphs of the mineral-springs, [2] and as satisfied as she was with her stay there and its setting, it was nonetheless far removed from my own, and I do believe that the overwhelming natural beauty in Karlsbad suffices to make it preferable to every other mineral-springs spa. [3]

A fortunate if unforeseen coincidence of circumstances, however, provided us with a bit of pleasure there with which I would be hesitant to compare any other pleasure in the world. To wit, during the very first days of our stay, and to our considerable delight, we made Goethe’s acquaintance through the Ziegesars. [4] This acquaintance came about outdoors, in the open air, and was cultivated daily under those same circumstances: walks, excursion into the countryside, and lectures alternated pleasantly, and we very soon formed a small circle together with the Ziegesars, Goethe, and his friend Riemer that kept tightly together and was doubtless the most entertaining and merry circle in all of Karlsbad.

Little thought was given to the usual diversions of the elegant world, and neither balls, assemblées, nor concerts were able to entice us away. In return, however, we took daily excursions by carriage and by foot throughout the delightful surrounding areas, and I can safely say that there is not a single beautiful rock formation within three hours of Karlsbad in any direction that we did not clamber up with Goethe. [4a] He was the very soul of our little company, always equally charming, serene, and communicative.

After the Ziegesars departed [5] — they left Karlsbad two weeks earlier than the |530| Seckendorfs and I — we two took the remaining excursions with Goethe and Riemer alone, and at tea during the evenings, Goethe always related quite charming passages to us that are still in manuscript form. He is now working quite diligently on a sequel to Wilhelm Meister. [6] Without wanting to boast, I would nonetheless venture to say that he has taken a particular liking to me and has been extraordinarily accommodating. He often came early in order to give me instruction in botany, and on several occasions picked me up to take some long walks with him quite alone. [6a]

One circle there that was quite different from ours, one which to a certain extent also had a poet presiding over it, was that of Frau von der Recke and her friend Tiedge, a circle to which Goethe always referred as the “society of virtue” because they sang and recited the Urania daily. [7] Unfortunately, however, and despite the considerable extent to which Frau von der Recke seemed to patronize us otherwise, we were never fortunate enough to attend any such oratorio, probably because of our rather secular company, since otherwise all the genteel and virtuous spa guests from the prince down to the police official had to listen whether they wanted to or not.

As you probably already know, our sovereign lord also used the mineral springs for 3 weeks. Although he did not arrive until the day of our departure, I did not particularly worry about it because as loath as I was to leave Karlsbad itself, I was just as eager to see and embrace my mother and sisters again after being away for 3 months. [8] They all send their most tender regards to you and repeat with me yet again their request that you send us all a few lines from your own hand very soon indeed.

Stay very well, my honored friend, and be assured once again in the most tender fashion of our continuing affection.

Pauline [9]

|531| Herr Roussseau can reckon with not a single friendly face among us if he neglects to bring Schelling’s recent oration with him.


[*] Reprinted in Erich Schmidt, (1913), from Plitt 2:143–45. — Caroline responds to this letter on 16 September 1808 (letter 435). Back..

[1] The “émigrés” are members of the Gotter family, presumably among the daughters, who have been away for spring and summer excursions. Back.

[2] A metaphorical and poetical allusion to mineral-springs spas and their association with nymphs and creatures of the forest (John James Barralet, Nymphes au bain [1773]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur FBartolozzi AB 2.71):


See, distantly related, Caroline’s earlier review of The Health Springs, esp. note 3.

Because Goethe’s Karlsbad diaries (see below) and Pauline’s own remarks later in this letter date Pauline’s departure to 17 July 1808, Cäcilie Gotter must have returned on or about 24 July 1808. Back.

[3] Modern Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, formerly known as Karlsbad, ca. 270 km from Gotha; a popular mineral-springs spa especially during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Illustrations: (1) Franz Sartori, Taschenbuch für Carlsbads Curgäste wie auch für Liebhaber von dessen Naturschönheiten (Vienna 1817), frontispiece; (2) Jean de Carro, Carlsbad, ses eaux minérales et ses nouveaux bains à vapeurs: avec un appendice (Carlsbad 1829), frontispiece; (3, 4) August Leopold Stöhr, Kaiser-Karlsbad im Jahre MDCCCXXJJ: Ein Handbuch für Kurgäste etc. (Karlsbad 1822), illustrations following pp. 32, 42:





Pauline stayed at the inn Walfisch (The whale), where Caroline von Seckendorf (mentioned later by both Pauline and Goethe) also stayed; Mariane von Eybenberg referred to them thus as the “Jonahs” (Woldemar Freiherr von Biedermann, Erläuterungen zu den Tag- und Jahresheften von Goethe, Anhang an Goethes Werke: Abtheilung für Erläuterungen, Band 35 und 36 zu den Tag- und Jahresheften [Leipzig 1894], 117). Back.

[4] The Ziegesar family in this instance likely included August Friedrich Karl von Ziegesar, who had just retired from his administrative position in Gotha, and his wife Magdalene Auguste, née von Wangenheim, along with their daughter Sylvie (Woldemar Freiherr von Biedermann, Erläuterungen zu den Tag- und Jahresheften von Goethe, 116), though Goethe (see below) mentions the Ziegesar “children.”

Goethe was in Karlsbad between 12 May and 30 August 1808, interrupted only by a twelve-day stay in Franzensbad in July (after the Ziegesars went there), whither he then returned and remained till 12 September (Woldemar Freiherr von Biedermann, Erläuterungen zu den Tag- und Jahresheften von Goethe, 116). Back.

[4a] Anonymous, Passage et Ouverture du Hauenstein Canton de Soleure (ca. 1800); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur MPfenninger WB 3.2:



[5] Concerning this departure and activities in Karlsbad, see Goethe’s diaries below. The Ziegesar family departed Karlsbad on 1 July 1808; as seen in the following sentence, their departure also dates Pauline’s to ca. 14 July 1808 (in reality: 17 July 1808). Goethe first mentions Pauline in his Karlsbad diaries on 14 June 1808. Back.

[6] That is, a sequel to Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Lehrjahre being the “apprenticeship years” of the protagonist.

At the time, Goethe was working on novellas to include in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, oder die Entsagenden (Stuttgart 1821; complete ed. 1829), these Wanderjahre were to be his “years of journeying, as a journeyman.” Concerning this sequence of apprentice and journeyman, see Thomas Carlyle, “Goethe,” in his Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, 4 vols., 3rd ed. (London 1847), 198–257, here 231–32:

Wanderjahre denotes the period which a German artisan is, by law or usage, obliged to pass in travelling, to perfect himself in his craft, after the conclusion of his Lehrjahre (Apprenticeship), and before his Mastership can begin. In many guilds this custom is as old as their existence, and continues still to be indispensable: it is said to have originated in the frequent journeys of the German Emperors to Italy, and the consequent improvement observed in such workmen among their menials as had attended them thither. Most of the guilds are what is called geschenkten, that is, presenting, having presents to give to needy wandering brothers.

Carlyle translated the first, still incomplete version of the novel of 1821 as Wilhelm Meister’s Travels; or, The Renunciants: A Novel, vol. 4 of Carlyle’s German Romance: Specimens of Its Chief Authors (Edinburgh 1827). Concerning the novel itself, see George Madison Priest, A Brief History of German Literature (New York 1910), 208:

The Lehrjahre was followed by a sequel, Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre oder die Entsagenden, the first part of which appeared in 1821 and the whole in 1829. The aging author wished to amplify the somewhat incomplete description of middle-class life which he had attempted in the preceding novel, but the story-teller yields unconsciously to the philosopher, to the friend of mankind, to the pedagogue and prophet. As a story, this sequel has no interest, but it contains some of Goethe’s most fruitful ideas on social ethics. Carlyle enthuses over its “high, melodious Wisdom,” and says, “the purest spirit of all Art rests over it and breathes through it.” Several short stories [the novellas Pauline mentions] which Goethe interwove in it are models of their kind.

Here a scene from early in the novel in which Wilhelm engages in — as intimated above — a “meditation” on the life of Saint Joseph as depicted in paintings; two children listen (Goethe’s Works, vol. 5, ed. George Barrie [New York 1885], 9):


Concerning this novel’s reflection of the interest that dowsers such as Francesco Campetti had generated in Germany at the time, see the pertinent section in the supplementary appendix on Schelling and Caroline’s interest in Campetti. Back.

[6a] Calender 1803 (Offenbach); Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[7] See John G. Robertson, A History of German Literature (Edinburgh, London 1902), 400:

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, no poem was more popular than Tiedge’s Urania: über Gott, Unsterblichkeit und Freiheit: ein lyrisch-didactisches Gedicht, in sechs Gesängen (Halle 1801) [Urania: on God, immortality, and freedom; a lyric-didactic poem in six cantos], inspired by the Kantian ethics, and couched in the tone of those books on popular philosophy which, as we have seen, were so widely read at the close of the eighteenth century: its language is flowing and musical, but beneath the pleasing exterior of the poem, as a new generation was quick to discover, there were only platitudes.

Here the frontispieces to the editions of 1803 and 1810 (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Reviewers from a more resolutely Christian perspective, not surprisingly, viewed the poem quite differently (anonymous, “Hebrew Literature,” The Christian Treasury [Edinburgh, London 1878], 573–75, here 573):

Christoph August Tiedge, who was born in 1752, and died in 1841, was an eminent Christian moralist and poet. Impressed with the rationalism of his German countrymen this earnest believer consecrated his intellectual powers and poetical genius to prove by Kant’s own mode of reasoning [in the latter’s Critique of Practical Reason] the immortality of the soul, a future state of reward and punishment, the Divine mission of Christ, and the redemption which He brought for the fallen sons of Adam, who are groping in darkness. These sublime doctrines he propounded in a didactic poem, called Urania. The thrilling and charming language in which it is written, the struggles and despair in which he depicts soliloquizing man, on the supposition that there is no hereafter, and that this world is the sport of chance, the ineffable joy and comfort which the believer in Christ realizes, and which are celebrated in this poem in lofty and touching strains have made Urania a kind of Pilgrim’s Progress amongst a certain class of educated Germans.

Here the frontispiece to the edition of 1804; note the lyre:


It was, however, well known that Goethe found the poem tedious, and especially, as Pauline herself notes, its popularity and the practice of reading (or certainly singing) aloud from it (representative illustration: frontispiece to Jahrbuch zur belehrenden Unterhaltung für junge Damen [1795]):


See the vignette Henry Wadsworth Longfellow incorporates into Hyperion: A Romance, “Book the Second: Chapter II: A Colloquy,” The Complete Prose Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with His Later Poems, ed. Octavius B. Frothingham (Boston 1845), vol. 3, 1156–58, here 1156:

“And what think you of Tiedge’s ‘Urania’?” said the Baron, smiling, as Paul Flemming closed the book, and laid it upon the table.

“I think,” said Flemming. “that it is very much like Jean Paul’s grandfather, — in the highest degree poor and pious.”

“Bravo !” exclaimed the Baron. “That is the best criticism I have heard upon the book. For my part, I dislike it as much as Goethe did. It was once very popular, and lay about in every parlor and bedroom. This annoyed the old gentleman exceedingly; and I do not wonder at it. He complains that at one time nothing was sung or said but this ‘Urania.’ He believed in Immortality; but wished to cherish his belief in quietness.

He once told a friend of his, that he had, however, learned one thing from all this talk about Tiedge and his ‘Urania;’ which was, that the saints, as well as the nobility, constitute an aristocracy. He said he found stupid women who were proud because they believed in Immortality with Tiedge, and had to submit himself to not a few mysterious catechizings and tea-table lectures on this point; and that he cut them short by saying, that he had no objection whatever to enter into another state of existence hereafter, but prayed only that he might be spared the honor of meeting there any of those who had believed in it here, — for, if he did, they would flock around him on all sides, exclaiming, ‘Were we not in the right? Did we not tell you so? Has it not all turned out just as we said?'”

“How shocked the good old ladies must have been!” said Flemming.

“No doubt, their nerves suffered a little; but the young women loved him all the better for being witty and wicked, — and thought, if they could only marry him, how they would reform him.”

So ubiquitous was the poem that in 1804/5 Beethoven, who met Tiedge in 1811, set the poem “To Hope” to music (op. 32), recasting it yet again in 1813 (op. 94). The composer Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, however, set the same poem and others from Urania to music in Gesänge aus Tiedge’s Urania in Musik gesetzt (Oranienburg 1804), here the stylized frontispiece and music “An die Hoffnung,” 8–9:




[8] The chronology is uncertain. Did Pauline arrive in Karlsbad at approximately the same time as Goethe, i.e., ca. mid-May 1808 (departing on 17 July; see above), or closer to Goethe’s first mention of her in his diary on 14 June? Where else, in either case, did she spend the remainder of the three months? Back.

[9] Goethe mentions these Karlsbad acquaintances by name in his Tag- und Jahres-Hefte als Ergänzung meiner sonstigen Bekenntnisse, von 1807 bis 1822 (Weimarer Ausgabe 36:32), moreover with a politely jesting remark concerning Elisa von der Recke, whom Pauline herself affectionately mocks here, and her companion Christoph August Tiedge (Weimarer Ausgabe 36:31–32; trans. The Autobiography of Goethe. Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life; Books XIV.–XX.; together with his Annals; or, Day and Year Papers [London 1884], 376; illustration of Karlsbad from Neue Bildergalerie f.d. Jugend [Gotha 1831], vol. 4, plate 39, no. 347):


1808. The social personalities in Carlsbad had this summer assumed quite a different character for me. The Duchess Of Courland, graceful herself and with a graceful surrounding, Frau Von der Recke [the duchess’s sister] accompanied by Tiedge, and others attaching themselves to these, formed a highly joyous centre of life there. You met each other so often in the same place, in the same relations, finding your friends ever in the old style and fashion; that you seemed to have lived years with them; you confided without properly knowing each other.

The family of Ziegesar composed another more decided, more indissoluble circle. Parents and offspring I knew through all their ramifications; the father I had always highly respected, I may well say reverenced. The joyous activity of the mother, an activity knowing no decline, permitted nobody to be in her company without being satisfied. Children, on my first entrance into Drakendorf [25 September 1776] not yet born, here met me in the figure of grown-up, stately, amiable persons. To these were attached acquaintances and relations.

A more united, a more harmonious circle, could nowhere be found. Frau Von Seckendorf [from Schleusingen], by birth Von Uechtritz, and Pauline Gotter, were no small ornaments of this company. Every one endeavoured to please the other and was pleased with the other, the company naturally resolving itself into pairs, and excluding everything like envy or misunderstanding. These unsought relationships produced a mode of living which with more important interests would have adorned a novel.

Beginning with the initial mention (and acquaintance?) of these guests on 14 June 1808, Goethe’s diary mentions the almost daily contact, walks, excursions, instruction in the “initial elements of plant metamorphosis,” and several of the activities Pauline similarly mentions. His diary for June and July 1808 includes the following excerpts (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:346–61):

14 June [1808]. Worked on chapters 9 and 10 of Die Wahlverwandtschaften. . . . After dinner visited with Herr Franz Meyer, and with Frau von der Recke and Tiedge. . . . Then to the Ziegesars, where I found Duchess Appponyi with her daughters and Frau von Seckendorf with Demoiselle Gotter. Took a walk with the latter two along with Fräulein Sylvie [Ziegesar], up to the Andreas Chapel [a small chapel close to town with a small cemetery], farther to the immaculata conceptio, then the path through the gardens and fields at the foot of the mountain and down through the former Becher Garden. Accompanied the young ladies back to their quarters. . . .

15 June. Early at the Schlossbrunnen [Castle fountain], where the company had gotten larger. Frau von Seckendorf, Demoiselle Gotter, and the earlier ones. To the Neubrunnen [New fountain], Kammerrath von Flanz. Home with Madam von Ziegesar . . . After dinner . . . to Frau von Seckendorff, to Franz Meyer, helped him unpack.

The Schlossbrunnen, incidentally, disappeared a year later after the eruption of what became known as the Sprudel in 1809, and only reappeared in 1823; here — albeit not exactly as Goethe and Pauline Gotter experienced it — in the frontispiece to Johann Poeschmann, Der Schlossbrunnen zu Karlsbad: literarisch, geschichtlich, physikalisch, chemisch und medizinisch dargestellt, vol. 1 (Prague 1826):


The Neubrunnen and one of Karlsbad’s springs (the Sprudel) in illustrations from anonymous (un des médecins de l’établissement), Guide des étrangers à Carlsbad et dans ses environs (Carlsbad 1842), plates following pp. 30, 32:



17 June. Early to the Schlossbrunnen. With Frau von Seckendorf and Demoiselle Gotter. Afterward to the Neubrunnen with Madam Limburger. Accompanied the former two back to their quarters. . . . After 3:00 took a walk to the porcelain factory in Dalwitz. In the evening back again. Still enough time to go to the Ziegesars. Frau von Seckendorf and Mamsell Gotter were there. . . .

The porcelain factory in Dalwitz was located just north of Karlsbad (G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):


18 June. Early: began the poem for Sylvie’s [Ziegesar] birthday [the poem was “Zum 21. Juni 1808”]. Then to the Neubrunnen with Frau von Seckendorf and Demoiselle Gotter. At home continued on the poem. After eating went to Madam von Eybenberg. Then took a walk with Herr and Fräulein von Ziegesar. . . . Evening to tea. . . .

19 June. Continued working on the poem. At the Schlossbrunnen. Then to the Post with Fräulein Sylvie, Frau von Seckendorf, and Mamsell Gotter. Back again. . . . Evening tea with the Ziegesars.

The walk was not to a post office, but rather to the Posthof, a country house at the end of one of the pleasant and most popular walking paths in Karlsbad; one could get coffee there or even dine (G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):


Here illustrations from 1791 and 1830 showing the locale’s comely setting (K. Ludwig, Der Posthof in Karlsbad [Kalrsbad 1908], frontispiece and p. 16):



And on an early postcard:


20 June. Early a few moments at both fountains. Spoke with Madam Limburger about the French situation in Leipzig. At 11:00 with Fräulein Sylvie along the Findlater paths [one of many footpaths through the surrounding hills]. Then finished and copied the celebratory epistle for tomorrow. After the meal, visit at the quarters of Frau von Seckendorf. Walked with Demoiselle Gotter to the Carl’s Bridge. Evening with Ziegesars, read “Die neue Melusine” etc.

23 June. . . . Toward evening to the Ziegesars. Frau von Seckendorff, Demoiselle Gotter. The former whistled several small songs quite delightfully. . . .

25 June. . . . Toward 4:00 to the porcelain factory in Dalwitz with Frau von Seckendorf, Fräulein Sylvie, and Demoiselle Gotter. Threatening thunderstorm in the hills, though no rain where we were. Discussion with the factory head about the factory’s current situation with respect to commercial, technological, and chemical questions. Good weather on the return trip. At the Ziegesars. . . . Read the beginning of Faust.

28 June. . . . After dinner, accompanied Frau von Seckendorf, Fräulein Sylvie, and [Fräulein] Gotter to Engelhaus. It rained all around us, but we had good weather. That evening Faust.

Engelhaus, a village 6 km southeast of Karlsbad (map: Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste; illustration: Guide des étrangers à Carlsbad et dans ses environs (Carlsbad 1842), plate following p. 230):



30 June. Rainy day. The Ziegesars came by to take their leave.

1 July. Morning at the quarters of the Ziegesars, who traveled on to Franzensbad after we said our farewells. . . .

2 July. . . . After midday accompanied Frau von Seckendorf and Demoiselle Gotter to Hammer [a village outside Karlsbad], got out of the carriage there, took a walk into the hills, toward Kohlhaus. Tea that evening with the ladies. Then to the concert. . . .

Hammer, also known as Pirkenhammer and located just south of Karlsbad, was a popular excursion destination even by foot (G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):


6 July. Recast the scheme for Die Wahlverwandtschaften up to the end. Took a walk alone to the Carl’s Bridge and thought about these things. Toward midday to Frau von Seckendorf. Explained to Demoiselle Gotter the initial elements of the metamorphosis of plants. Took a walk with her to Säuerling and then back. After dining drove with both ladies to Aich and a bit farther. Then got out and walked on foot to the Egerthal [of the Eger River; see below] to the Heiling Rocks. Interesting giant rock face and water feature. Back to Aich, where we had tea. Back to my quarters. Beautiful evening. Moonlight. . . .

Aich is a village west of Karlsbad (Unterhaltungs- Auskunfts- und Anzeige- Blatt von Carlsbad und den anderen Curorten Böhmens 1 [1840], plate following p. 88):


Hans Heiling rock formations just west of Karlsbad, near Aich (Guide des étrangers à Carlsbad et dans ses environs [Carlsbad 1842], plate following p. 222):


Here both locales (G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):



8 July. Worked on the schema of Die Wahlverwandtschaften. To Frau von Berg. Toward midday at the quarters of Demoiselle Gotter. Discussions involving botany. Toward evening with Frau von Seckendorf to Hammer. From there to the porcelain factory and farther. Tea with Frau von Seckendorf. . . .

Goethe is referring not to the previously mentioned porcelain factory just north of Dalwitz, but rather to another just south of Hammer (Pirkenhammer; G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):


16 July. Drank [mineral water]. At the quarters of Madam Limpurg for coffee. Frau von Seckendorf and Demoiselle Gotter arrived from Karlsbad. Took various walks. Ate together at midday. . . .

17 July. Did not drink [the mineral waters]. Frau von Seckendorf and Demoiselle Gotter departed.

Pauline seems also to have spent several days in Weimar in November 1808, where Goethe once accompanied “Paulinchen G[otter]” home from the theater (see also Caroline’s letter to Pauline on 1 March 1809 [letter 440]) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


From Goethe’s diary for November 1808 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:397–98):

6 November. Die Wahlverwandtschaften and other things involving novels. . . . At 11:00 the singers, Geheimer Regierungsrath von Müller and wife; Demoiselle Gotter. They remained for the meal with Demoiselle Elfermann. Drawings by Friedrich. In the evening to Madam Schopenhauer. Mostly men except for Demoiselle Gotter.

9 November. Visit from the ladies. Die Nibelungen up to the fifth adventure. Midday alone. Concerning D’Alton and his particular familiarity with Friedrich Schlegel [Eduard D’Alton had been an early lover of Dorothea Schlegel]. In the evening in the theater. Maske für Maske and Der Deserteur by Kotzebue. Paulinchen Gotter was in the loge; accompanied her home.

11 November. . . . At 12:00 to Madam Schopenhauer’s, where Herr Cabrun von Danzig was showing his drawing collection. Remained to dine with Hofrath Meyer, Paulinchen Gotter, Fernow. Toward evening accompanied Demoiselle Gotter home. In the evening alone.

In a letter to Christiane Goethe on 31 October 1808, Goethe uses a teasing expression for flirtation and “making eyes” in referring to Pauline Gotter as “a pair of little Karlsbad eyes” (Weimarer Ausgabe 4:20:196): “Eberwein is here again, yesterday there was singing for the first time. The Günthers and a pair of little Carlsbad eyes, Pauline Gotter from Gotha, who is staying with them, were present, as were some strangers.”

On 12 November 1808, he writes to his other Karlsbad favorite, Sylvie von Ziegesar (Weimarer Ausgabe 4:20:212): “Paulinchen is here. A singular creature of the sort I have never encountered, sometimes charming and trusting, sometimes teasing and willful.”

And finally, Goethe writes to Pauline Gotter herself on 16 November 1808 following her departure from Weimar and return to Gotha (Weimarer Ausgabe 4:20:216–17; Plitt 2:145):

Since I was unable to hope that my gratitude for your final, dear words, and that a cordial farewell might still reach you in Weimar, then may it here follow after you amid the most beautiful sunshine. May you stay very well and serene, and may your life be like the day of your journey, my dear, good Pauline. And whenever you find yourself amid a bright, sunny midday, then allow your friends to walk to and fro in the camera clara of your mind, and behold these wandering images with a cordial eye. Please do write again, and also permit me now and then to send you a small volume or something of that sort.

Adieu, my dear child.
W[eimar], 16 November 1808


With the expression camera clara, Goethe is alluding to the camera obscura in Karlsbad, a viewing device situated in a hut on one of the lower peaks slightly north of town from which one can survey the course of the Eger River, the area beyond it to the north, most of Karlsbad itself, and the nearby mountains; here its location (G. Freytag, Karte von Karlsbad und Umgebung für Curgäste [Vienna 1902]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; département Cartes et plans):



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott