Letter 453b

453b. Pauline Gotter to Schelling in Munich: Gotha, 6 February 1810 [*]

Gotha, 6 February 1810

You no longer write to us; in vain have we been hoping for news from you since October, and we do not even know how you are doing in that lonely place where our most ardent sympathy has so often sought you. [1] Alas, please leave us not in such uncertainty any longer; the memory of our eternally precious Caroline is intimately connected with our thoughts of you yourself.

After all, you were the most precious thing she left behind in this world. If we but maintain a relationship with you, if news of you finds its way to us, then we feel that we ourselves are not yet entirely removed from the beloved, and that which is irretrievably lost, that for whose return we yearn with our most ardent tears, still seems, in some way, to belong to us, and our sense of her death then does not exert such a devastating, utterly distressing effect on our entire being.

Could I but express to you how impossible it is for anyone else in the world to understand better the entire scope of your pain and grief, or to share it more profoundly and intimately than we, could I but tell you how deeply it resides within me, how the memory of that dear, magnificent woman fills my entire soul, and with what tender affection, with what ardor we all loved her — ah, then you, too, would find comfort in writing to us, and would not entirely forget us; for those who touch one another in such feelings can never become strangers.

You still have something sacred from me, the final letters of our blessed deceased friend, and if it does not cause you too much pain, I would very much like to ask you to return them to me. [2] I so yearn for them that I can no longer remain separated from them. I confess I am often frightened by the prospect that they might have gotten lost — we have heard not a word from you since then — I entreat you to reassure me on this subject.

How abandoned, how sadly must the winter have passed for you at the place where although every object recalls the joy of having lived with her, it also makes your grief doubly palpable at now having to do without her forever. [3] How different everything is now than I imagined just last summer, when I wholly entertained the sweet hope of seeing her again, to live near to her for a time. [4] I felt so happy amid these thoughts, and even when I learned from the Jacobis that it was not to be at least for the time being, I still viewed it merely as being postponed, never imagining that the bliss of seeing her again would be displaced into a distant future, a future unknown to us all. [5]

But autumn broke all our hearts, and now the snow is already flurrying round about the grave that encloses the joy of our lives. [6] Stay well, my dear friend. My good mother and Cäcilie send their warmest regards, Julchen has been in Schleusingen since November. [7] Keep the memory of your loyal friends before you always.



[*] Source: Plitt 2:190–91. — Schelling was already back in Stuttgart when Pauline wrote this letter. 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] Schelling had last written Pauline on 9 October 1809 (letter 451). Back.

[2] Schelling had requested those letters in his letter to Luise Gotter on 24 September 1809 (letter 448); in her letter to Schelling on 7 November 1809 (letter 451a), Pauline had made a nervous inquiry concerning them:

I parted from them [the letters] amid tears; indeed, it was only because I was placing them in your hands that I was able to part with them at all. But your own heart can also tell you whether you might keep them long. Back.

[3] Although Schelling had departed Stuttgart for Munich in mid-October, he had been back in Stuttgart since 20 January 1810, also because of health issues; see his response to Pauline on 12 February 1810 (letter 454). Back.

[4] Concerning Caroline’s attempts to persuade Pauline to come to Munich for an extended visit, see her letter to Pauline on 7 August 1809 (letter 442). Back.

[5] Uncertain allusion; Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, as seen earlier, lived in Munich, where he was president of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, of which Schelling was a member. — Did Jacobi perhaps know something about the Schellings’ plans to depart soon for Italy? Back.

[6] Caroline’s grave is located somewhere in this area still intersected by paths between the grave sections of deceased monks and others associated with the Maulbronn monastery (1907 postcard):



[7] Schleusingen is located 60 km south of Gotha (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland [1804]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):


What Julie Gotter was doing there is uncertain, though see Caroline’s undated letter to Lotte Michaelis in 1789 (letter 95), note 2. Pauline herself had recently spent time in Karlsbad with Caroline Countess von Seckendorf, who was from Schleusingen. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott