Letter 449

• 449. Luise Gotter to Schelling in Stuttgart: Gotha, 3 October 1809 [*]

Gotha, 3 October 1809

|572| It is with a profoundly moved heart that I thank you for your kindness. It was sad consolation for me to hear from you the more detailed circumstances of the passing of our eternally beloved friend. The initial news of this unfortunate event had already dazed and stunned us; [1] it was like a bad dream from which one in vain tries to wake up.

Alas, it was but recently that we received from both written and oral sources the very best news concerning this beloved friend, and now she has been snatched from us forever. Having to get used to this idea is terrible thing. You, however, my most noble friend, have poured the first drops of balsam onto our grievously wounded hearts with your moving account of her suffering. Not a single word of your cordial account, not a single expression of your own grief was lost on us, for we, too, appreciated Caroline’s worth and are proud to have been able to perceive such. So how could we possibly not weep along with you and ardently share your grief? The expression of your own grief, however, has transformed ours into a gentler feeling of melancholy.

Could I speak but even a single word of consolation to you; but how could I? May God grant you the strength to bear this harsh fate and the courage to live through hope in a happier reunion. Without faith as beautiful as this, human beings would be very unhappy indeed. But we will see her again, this immortal, beloved friend, who was everything to you and extraordinarily precious to me.

I count my friendship with her, which began in my early youth, among the most fortunate occurrences of my life. [1a] Every hour spent in her company was pure gain for both heart and mind. [1b] I owe so much to such hours, |573| as do my children now as well. What I would have given to live in the same locale with her. Alas, that remained one of my unfulfilled wishes, as did the wish that I might embrace her once more in this life. [2]

Over the past year, I myself did not receive any letters from Caroline. She directed them all to Pauline, though they were intended for all of us. [3] I am enclosing them here but am also requesting that you not withhold them from us for very long. It was difficult for Pauline to part with them, and we preserve as a sacred object every single line from Caroline. [4]

Were you not living so far from us, my dear friend, we might hope to see you here. [5] How many interesting things could you still relate to us about this unique woman, things that could lift our spirits. As it is, however, I am left with only the wish that our transfigured friend create an invisible bond between you and us, one that neither time nor distance may ever sunder; then I can flatter myself that we would never be completely lost to your memory, which is so dear to us. [6]

Cecilie and Julie will be writing you themselves. Did you receive Pauline’s letter? [7] She addressed it to Munich. According to your instructions, I am sending this one today [8] to Stuttgardt even though given how slow the postal service is I am still unsure whether it will reach you there in time. I only received yours yesterday. I hope we will soon receive reassuring news concerning your health. May God continue to be with you.

Luise Gotter, née Stieler


[*] This letter is Luise Gotter’s response to Schelling’s letter to her on 24 September 1809 (letter 448). Back.

[1] Concerning how the Gotters learned of Caroline’s death, see Schelling’s letter to Luise Gotter on 24 September 1809 (letter 448), note 1. Back.

[1a] Goettinger Taschen Calender vom Jahr 1784 Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[1b] Genealogische Kalender auf das Jahr 1810; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[2] Concerning Luise Gotter’s last meeting with Caroline, see Pauline Gotter’s letter to Schelling on 23 September 1809 (letter 447a), note 2. Schelling, too, had not seen the Gotters since that visit. Back.

[3] The last extant letter from Caroline to Luise Gotter was on 6 June 1808 (letter 433). All subsequent extant letters to the Gotter family are addressed to Pauline Gotter, beginning with Caroline’s letter to her on 16 September 1808 (letter 435) (Königl. Großbrit. Genealogischer Kalender auf das 1786 Jahr; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[4] See Schelling’s request to Luise Gotter in his letter to her on 24 September 1809 (letter 448), along with note 21 there. Back.

[5] See the map in the editorial note to Pauline Gotter’s letter to Schelling on 23 September 1809 (letter 447a). Back.

[6] Schelling, of course, married into the Gotter family on 11 June 1812, when he wed Pauline Gotter in Gotha. Back.

[7] Pauline’s letter to Schelling on 23 September 1809 (letter 447a). Back.

[8] Luise Gotter seems inadvertently to have written “these today” instead of “this one today”; the following singular masculine pronoun clearly refers to a single letter, as does this context. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott