Letter 447a

447a. Pauline Gotter to Schelling in Munich: Gotha, 23 September 1809 [*]

Gotha, 23 September 1809

And so she is no more, this precious, unforgettable friend who lived in our hearts like a second mother, whom we admired with childlike tenderness and love; she has departed from us, and we will not see her again until that place where no distance, no earthly bonds separate us from her! [1]

How my heart is rent! — Since yesterday, when this painful news reached us, no other thought, no other emotion has been able to dispel the inexpressible grief that has descended upon all of us. But how you must be suffering, how you must be faring — that is now the first concern of our hearts. You were the most precious thing in the world to her, in you she found everything that could make her life worthwhile, and you had the comfort of closing her eyes, whose cheerful radiance will now never again gladden us. —

How she made each of us her own: all the enthusiasm of a youthful heart was dedicated to her; I could have sacrificed everything for her, and with what joy! —

For years now, my wishes, my hopes were to see her again, to demonstrate to her in person my affection. [2] All of us felt so rich through her love, and now a single moment is able to undo what it took so many years to build up. Alas, I feel as if half a world has departed with her, nor is this grief, this pain merely something that will rage for a moment and then be mitigated over time.

No, I feel too keenly that this pain will always abide just as it is, for nothing can replace what has been lost, things can never be the same again. —

But I should not be making you even weaker with such outbursts of our grief. —

Forgive me, and if possible please let us hear something from you soon. Our love for her was the bond of our friendship; now that this bond has been sundered, may our memory of this magnificent friend keep us connected. If we but think of one another in empathy, that will have a salutary effect on us all despite the distance between us.

Stay well; may peace and comfort be with you.

Pauline Gotter


[*] Source: Plitt 2:170–71.

Although Pauline Gotter addresses this letter to Schelling in Munich, he had gone to Stuttgart on 20 September 1809 with Karl Schelling and Beate Gross. Luise Gotter, in her letter to Schelling on 3 October 1809 (letter 449), mentions that Pauline had addressed the letter to Munich, and in his letter to Pauline on 9 October 1809 (letter 451), Schelling mentions the detour the letter had to make before reaching him in Stuttgart.

Gotha is located ca. 375 km north of Munich, and ca. 265 km northeast of Stuttgart (Central Europe 1803 after the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803 [Cambridge 1912]):



[1] Aglaia Jahrbuch für Frauenzimmer auf 1803; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[2] The last time Luise Gotter and her two daughters Cäcilie and Pauline had seen Caroline was in Jena during the autumn of 1801, when they visited Caroline, attended performances by Friederike Unzelmann at the theater in Weimar, and attended various social gatherings before returning to Gotha (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; illustration: Almanach und Taschenbuch zum geselligen Vergnügen [1798]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung ):



Luise’s second daughter, Julie, lived with Caroline in Jena from 31 May 1801, over that winter, and into the early spring of 1802, departing on 6 March 1802 (frontispiece to Cytherens Kunstkabinet oder Toiletten-Hand-und Kunstbuch aus eigenen Erfahrungen für ihre Freundinnen bearbeitet [Nürnberg 1804]):


The Gotters’ visit during the autumn of 1801 was the only time Schelling met Pauline in person before marrying her in 1812 (Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1811; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning Caroline’s most recent attempts to persuade and arrange for Pauline to visit her and Schelling in Munich, see her letter to Pauline on 7 August 1809 (letter 442). Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott