Clement Theodore Perthes.

Memoirs of Frederick Perthes, or, Literary, religious, and political life in Germany, from 1789 to 1843 (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Columbia ©nitiem'tj)








FROM 1789 TO 1843.








Kinxnuitfut : I'Hi.ntkd bv t. cONSTAiii.E, ri!iMi:i; Tt> mki: v.




The M;irriaf,'e of the Eldest I);ui'j,hter, ..... 1


'J'he Miuriage of the Sccoiul Daughter, . . . . .16


I )oparturf of tlie Eldest Sou for the University. . . . .25

Tlu; Last Days of Caroline, ...... 42


Condition of Gotha, and Perthes' First Settlement there— 1822, . . (52

Establishment of the Puhlisliing Business, .... 76


Excursions during the Summer and Autumn of 1822, ... 98


Perthes' Activity in Unprofessional Life— 1822-1824, . . .108





Perthes' Inner Life during tbo First Years of his Residence in Gotha —

1822-1825, ........ 131


Perthes' Second Marriage — 1825, . . . • . . 15<>


First Years of the Second Marriage— 1825-183U. .... 170


Perthes' Tlicological Pres.s— 1822-1830, ..... 190


Correspondence on the Rehitions of Life, ..... 209


Catholicism and the Protestant Church-Parties— 1822-1830, . . 220


Rationalism and its Opponents — 1822-1830, .... 240


Movements in Private Circles outside the Church— 1822-1830. . . 254


Scientific Tlieology and Ecclesiastical Authority — 1822-1830, . . 265


Political Movements in Southern Europe — 1822, 1823, . . . 277


Liberalism and the Political Institutions of Gernianv — 1822-1825, . . 285




Political Feelings and Expectations— 1822-182.5, . . • .297


I'olitical Events and Relations— 182.5-1830, .... 310

The Revolution of July 1830, ...... 322

Situation of Prussia— 1830, 1831, ...... 334


Course of the Political Movement in Germany — 1831-1833, . . 352

J.iterary Discussions— 1830-1840, ...... 367


Protestant Movements— 1830-1840, . . ■ • .378


Controversy about the Constitution of the State-Assemblies — 1834-1838, 393


Hierai.hical Constitution and the Public Agitati(m— 1837, 1838, . 400

CHAPTER XXIX. Tendencies and Events— 1838-1843, .... 4(i(;


Tlieoloiiical and Ecclesiastical Controversies — 1840-1843, . • 418



Pcrtlics' Activilv in Business— 1830-1843, .... 432

Pt-rthes' D.miostic ami So.-ial Life— 1830-1837, .... 443

T.ast Y.'ars— 1837 1843, ....... 458

8icknes.s and Death— 1843, ...... 477




Although neither the political commotions, nor the mani-
fold religious and ecclesiastical controversies of the time ever
became uninteresting to Caroline, or failed to draw forth her
sympathies, they never again engrossed her whole soul as
in 1813. Her heart was in her home, and there she ever
found fresh cause of joy and gratitude. Her eldest daughter,
Agnes, had been betrothed, since the summer of 1813, to
William Perthes, who had formerly taken part in the busi-
ness at Hamburgh, afterwards campaigned as a volunteer,
and now managed the business which he had inherited from
his father in Gotha, and which, under his auspices, had be-
come very flourishing. " God has again showered down joy
and gladness upon us," wrote Caroline about this time ; " how
can I thank Him enough for so manifestly protecting us and
our children ! It is certainly a great happiness to be able to
commit so pure and innocent a child to the man whom we have
so long esteemed, knowing that he will cleave to her with his
Avhole heart, loving and cherishing her as long as he lives."

On the 12th of May 1818, the marriage took place, and on



the 16th the young couple departed for their new home. The
following is the first letter of a correspondence which supplied
the lack of personal intercourse : — " My beloved Agnes, you
have hardly been gone from me three hours, and I am already
writing to you, because I cannot help it. When you left, I
watched you till jou had passed the bridge, and then gave
you up in the sure confidence that you are, and ever will
remain, in God's hands. You — dear Agnes, know that I love
you, and can imagine the rest. How well I remember the
moment when you were first laid beside me on the bed, when
I looked at you for the first time, and gave you the first kiss.
Since then, I have rejoiced in you every day, I might say every
hour, through twenty years. Should I not thank God, and
if He has willed it, consent to part with you ? He will forgive
me if I cannot do it without tears. And you, too, my dear
Agnes, must and ought to weep ; and your beloved William will
understand you, and forgive you if you weep too long. Never
conceal from him anything that relates to yourself, even if
you think that it may displease him ; you will soon find that
even with the fondest love, there is room for mutual forbearance.
I rejoice beforehand in your future, for we, too, shall be sharers
in it : remember that you are never to be weary of communi-
cating your joys and sorrows, that so we may still live a com-
mon life." Joy and gratitude for the happiness of her daugh-
ter, and for her own, was the groundwork of all Caroline's
letters. " Perthes has just brought me your letter," she writes
in answer to the first news from Gotha : " I have read it again
and again, and rejoice and thank God, and also your dear
William, for making you so happy. You know how confident I
was of this beforehand, and it will be permanent where God


has given His blessing. Conjugal happiness lives in the depths
of the heart even amid the sorrows and trials of life ; indeed it
is by these only the more deeply rooted, as I know from my own
experience, thank God, I rejoice with you, and on your ac-
count, dear children, and school myself to bear your absence
cheerfully ; so does your father ; it is a real pleasure to look
at his face when he comes to the door with one of your letters."
— "We cannot think of anything but William's birthday," she
writes somewhat later ; " we would gladly have lived in the same
place with you if God had so ordered it. Ah ! what a pity that
the world is so wide ! how delightful it would be if we, and all
whom we love, could live together, and we could have kept .this
birthday with you. But I will not comj)lain, I will rather rejoice
and be glad even in your removal. May God preserve your
happiness to you and us, and with it a thankful and watch-
ful heart. I cannot tell you often enough that you are always
with me and at my side ; and none knows so well as myself
how gladly I would hear you answer when in thought I speak
with you. At the same time, I do not grudge you to your
dear William, and it is my constant desire that you may be-
come dearer and dearer to each other. That you are in the
right path I am fully persuaded ; yours is indeed a happy lot,
my beloved Agnes, and if every day finds you walking more
humbly before God, and more lovingly, you will have a heaven
within you. Your dear father is well and cheerful. Would that
he could only secure a quiet hour for me occasionally ! this is my
only want, and it troubles me more and oftener than it ought."
In July 1818, Caroline went with Perthes for a few days to
Liibeck to visit her family, returning by Rheinfeld, the birth-
place of her father. " We have actually been to Liibeck, and


have enjoyed it very much," she wrote to Agnes. " Your father
was young- again, and very merr}', and so was I. We stayed
two days with my brother, and were truly happy. I am really
well, and hardly know which is best, to awake or to go to sleep
in health ; but I think the latter. Oh, Agnes, pray that I may
remain so ! — St. Mary's Church is large, and I believe that many
earnest prayers and cries ascend to heaven from it. The long
row of tombs, with their great stone coffins, and the obscurity
of the place, impressed me deeply ; one can hardly realize the de-
struction of these heavy coffins, and this is to me an unpleasant
thought, seeing that the body, on account of which they are
t-rected, is so soon dissolved. The Cathedral Church is very fine,
and I would gladly pass an occasional hour there. On Tuesday
evening we left for Rheinfeld ; the quietness of this place passes
all description ; it is situated on the shore of a large lake,
richly wooded on one side. It was a still, peaceful evening :
we had escaped from the world, were alone, and inconceivably
happy. Would to God we had more such hours ! When our
busy life in Hamburgh occurred tome, I felt rather discouraged,
and yet I am convinced that my work there is, on the whole,
better for mo than this calm blessedness. God has led me by a
very different way from that which I had laid out for myself, but
it has been the right way — this I not only believe but know ;
He has given me in labour and tumult what I would gladly
have sought and found in quiet and solitude. We also went to
the church of your dear grandfather, and to his grave, and into
the confessional where there was an old arm-chair in which he
had often sat, and a few books in which he had often read. The
next morning we again went out for a walk, and rested our-
selves in a beautiful spot. How did I rejoice in the happiness


of Perthes, he was so delighted with me and everything ! But
to return to you and jour letter: what you write of N.'s chil-
dren is true, and distresses me greatly, for I am convinced that
heartfelt love, which lets itself be seen, and in a manner felt in
everything, is the dew and the rain indispensable to the growth
and bloom of children. I believe that the more children are
loved, and the more conscious they are of being loved, the
better ; of course there is also a time for seriousness and dis-
cipline. But I know many people who think it right carefully
to conceal their affection from their children. They should
study 1 Cor. xiii., and they would see that there is nothing to
fear in that direction. You know that with reference neither
to children, nor to anything else, am I fond of words ; but to
give occasional expression to the feelings of the heart, I con-
sider not only not wrong, but right ; the mouth naturally over-
flows with whatever fills the heart, — and how can it overflow
but in words ?"

Caroline was anxious to instruct her daughter in housekeep-
ing, and often desired her to write all sorts of details. In
return she sent many an approved receipt, and many a useful
hint, and also gave news of her daughter's friends. Thus : —
" You ask after Z. ; she was here lately, and was so inge-
nuous and confiding, that, to my horror, she did not shrink
from saying that she believed all unmarried women had
missed their vocation, and had but a melancholy prospect.
I pray God to defend every girl from so miserable a notion.
No ; God has provided love and happiness for all who will
accept them, whatever their rank or sex. No one need want
objects of aflection, dear Agnes ; you cannot for a moment
doubt that I, like you, regard a good husband as a great and


precious gift from God ; but God can send His blessing directly
into tlie lieart, without attaching it to any intermediate object,
and make us happy without husbands. For, dear Agnes, your
mutual love can be a means of happiness and blessing only as it
increases your love to God; and can you not imagine, that to
turn directly to God, and love Him without the intervention of
any human medium, must be far, far better ? And even with
a human medium I can imagine unmarried to be quite as
happy as married life, else poor maidens must indeed despair,
and wo with them, and for them. If we but propose to our-
selves some serious object, pursuing it with our whole heart,
and labouring for it in dependence on God, His blessing and
happiness can never fail us. This is my honest opinion, and
I believe that every young woman acts wisely when slie turns
her affections to God, instead of looking about her with yearn-
ing and anxiety for an earthly object ; this is a melancholy
condition which withers and dries up the heart, and annihilates
all hajDpiness. I know nothing so sad as a poor girl in this con-
dition, especially if she be pure and good. If, however, a
woman finds such a dear Perthes as you and I have found, or
rather as God has given us, let her close with him at once,
and be thankful."

But Caroline's anxiety about the spiritual influences that her
daughter might find in her new home, took precedence of every
other. " I thank you for your letter,'' she wrote, " but not at
all that you have not yet looked out for a real friend of your
own sex. I earnestly wish one for you, so that you may liave
something to fall back upon, when William cannot be with you.
If you are sketching a model of perfection in your friend, I can
quite understand how it is that you have not found one ; but


you must make allowances, and go forth with a generous confi-
dence, not suffering yourself to be ruffled, as you too often do.
It is often easier to tolerate weaknesses and failings, than
manners and modes of speech to which we are unaccustomed.
Only bear perpetually in mind that there is no difference at
heart between the people of Gotha and Hamburgh ; there, as
here, there is much shortcoming and much good, and many
little things that you would rather do without, yet which you
must take along with every acquisition. It is very natural that
the good qualities of your friends here should appear to you in
the liveliest colours ; their weaknesses and failings, on the other
hand, in the faintest ; and yet, there were not many of them
with whom you could speak of the deepest and holiest things,
and to whom you could pour out your whole heart. Neverthe-
less you loved them, and took pleasure in their society. Onl}'
make the attempt in Gotha, let your heart speak in truth and
confidence, and you will find that what comes from the heart,
goes to the heart ; you will be met more than half way, for the
necessity and the pleasure of loving and being loved is common
to us all, and the young ladies there have no William as you

Perthes also wrote to warn his daughter against seclusion from
others : — "Make the most of your own happiness, but remember
that you are not alone in the world ; and do not shut up your
house from your friends ! it is perilous, and leads to family ego-
tism, and brings its own punishment. I am glad that j^ou have
young men living with your dear William ; continue this custom
even to old age ; it will preserve you alike from the gossip and
the tedium of company. Communicate freely with others, and
shew that domestic happiness does not estrange you from them.


The earth Is God's house, and wo may not live only to ourselves.
I know, dear Agnes, that you will not let any needy person
whom you can help go empty away ; but neighbours and ac-
quaintances wish to talk of their affairs, their joys and sor-
rows, and tliose of their friends, and nothing is so offensive as
cold reserve, as though we were beings of a superior nature,
able to live, and suffer, and rejoice alone."

" That you do not find in the puli)it what you seek," wrote
Caroline, "distresses me greatly, but does not surprise me,
since the clergy for the most part preach only morality, which
is but meagre l^ire. But do not be cast down on this account,
my dear Agnes ; take refuge in your own inner church :
God can serve up a better table than any preacher, and will
assuredly feed you, if only you are hungry. The old hymns
and chorals have ever been my best stimulants, and are so still,
whenever the inner life grows languid; in particular, those
beautiful hymns of longing after God, in Freylinghausen's
book, have often revived me, and will, I trust, support me
even in death. But if the preaching be not satisfactory,
do not on this account absent yourself from church; there
are seasons in which you are more likely to be aroused and
quickened in the church than in the house, where I at least
seldom have a quiet hour." " I am indeed sorry," she says in
a letter of later date, " that you are obliged to live without
music ; still, my advice is, not to form any intimacies only for
the sake of music ; you might pay too dearly for it, and not
perhaps find it easy to draw back. My piano is also dumb, I
cannot sing one of our songs to it ; when I sound the first note,
I feel that you are no longer by my side ; tears then come and
choke the rest. Yes, dear Agnes, I feel that it is a hard duty


to part from a gift in wliicli God has so long allowed us to

In this, and in many other letters, we see the struggle in
Caroline's heart, between her joy at the happiness of her child,
and the sorrow of separation. " I know that you are hapj^y,
and that is the chief thing ; but, my dear Agnes, a mother's
heart is not at all times to be quieted by reason, and has its own
rights too. Only it must not be intractable ; that it should not
be so is, in quiet hours, my daily study. As long as you were
with me, I was wholly yours — heart and soul, mind and body,
hands and feet ; if you have no longer need of my hands and
feet, you may yet find my affection useful, for in this con-
sists the glory and excellency of love, that if we are only
pure, it can never hurt us : of its giving and receiving there
is no end here, and it endures throughout eternity." — " That
you still think of us with warm affection and attachment,
and would gladly be with us, I find quite natural," she
writes in another letter ; " you could not love your William so
well if you could forget us. I am fully persuaded that I love
you as truly and fondly as William does, and have done so for
twenty years ; and thus it is but just that you should continue
to love me for at least twenty years, and what will be yet better,
my dear, long-loved Agnes, — for ever. Preserve then your affec-
tion for us in all its fervour, it is quite consistent with that to
your dear William. The soul is so constituted, that, while we
are here below, wishing and yearning are not only compatible
with our happiness, but our best and proper happiness is
only realized when this wishing and yearning are directed
towards the best things." — " To-morrow is our wedding-day,"
writes Caroline in a letter on the 1st of August ; " it is the first



on which I have had to look back on gifts resigned. Do you
enjoy the onward road, it also has its cares and troubles ; but, as
I find by experience, the retrospect is harder and more painful.
Youth has its dangers, but those of age are, I fear, greater and
more trying, though, thank Heaven, I observe this rather in others
than in myself, and in God"s name I also am going forward.
Dear Agnes, love me still, and keep as close to me as you can.
My dear bridegroom is quite well and cheerful, and as dear to
me now as he was twenty years ago. I never believed it
possible that affection could continue so uninterruptedly for
twenty-one years— and how much longer it will continue is not
for me to say." Again, on the following day,—" The children
had adorned our breakfast-table with flowers and wedding gar-
lands ; we sat in a bower of leafy green, and examined the little
presents that your sisters had prepared for us. It appears very
strange to me that you should be wandering about the world
without me on this day, and that I should not know whether
you are at Schwarzburg or Rudolfstadt, or where you are."

But it was not only the joyful anniversaries that Caroline
loved to devote to correspondence with her absent daughter ;
those consecrated by sad remembrance were also spent in the
same way. " It is six years to-day since my angel Bernard
was born," she writes on the 27th September, ''and his
earthly body is already so decayed, that I can now see only
his dear, bright eye, which, when I was in trouble, used
to revive and strengthen me, and renew my confidence and
joy in the Lord. You also recollect how he rejoiced and com-
forted us all at Aschau, and how kindly, and pleasantly, and
lovingly he looked on us all. Would tliat, though unseen by
me, he still looked upon me, and raised my soul to God ! Tlie


angel-child must be able, and he is certainly willing, to do even
more for us now. How gladly I would know more about the
nature of the happiness of my beloved, departed children ! God
does indeed allow us to apprehend it in the depths of our hearts,
as something transcending thought ; but whenever I would
realize this presentiment of the heart in my understanding,
it dissolves and vanishes altogether: and yet, I cannot help
thinking, though I know that it is in vain, and that on this,
as on all other great questions, we can do nothing more in this
world than keep alive in ourselves the yearning and longing
after truth, not allowing it to be disturbed and destroyed by
external influences of any kind."

A new source of happiness was opened to Caroline in the
prospect of becoming a grandmother. " I have just received
your letter, dear children, and am beyond measure delighted,
affected, and thankful. You can have no idea of the happi-
ness that, if it please God, is awaiting you, neither can I ex-
plain it to you, although for twenty years my heart has been
filled with it. Rejoice, and again I say rejoice, and pray to
God for His blessing. If I could but tell you something of
your coming joys, — but they are inconceivable and unspeakable,
and come directly from God himself; may He impart them in
richest measure ! "

The succeeding letters express the tenderest maternal sym-
pathy with the hopes and fears of her daughter ; but in all,
the call to gratitude and joy is paramount. Thus towards the
the end of 1818 she wrote — " Every one has, doubtless, reason
both for hope and fear, in regard to the New-Year, but God
helps us all through. Farewell, dear Agnes, and don't forget
your grandfather's prescription for the eve of New- Year's Day,


viz., to sit down upon a stone and pray : — you have much to
remember and to hope for ; but you must spare us, too, a
thought from the depths of your heart." " A happy, happy
Christmas may God give you, dear children,'' so wrote Caroline,
on despatching a small Christmas box ; — " if you have but
a tenth part of the delight in unpacking which the children
have had in packing it, you will be content. The three
little ones have been especially busy, and the pleasure of
giving and sending has often ended in tears because there
was nothing more to give. Remember that your gratifica-
tion is to equal theirs, or we shall not be satisfied. The
box will reach you at six o'clock, and then, assuredly, you
will think of us ; and I, too, shall think of you, dear Agnes :
you seem still a part of myself ; and though I weep, I cannot tell
whether they are tears of joy or of sorrow. The Christmas
prayer which I put up from my inmost heart for you, last year,
is more than fulfilled ; let us then, now again, thank God, and
place ourselves, and those who are near and dear to us, witli
confidence and faith in His arms, and rejoice. You must also
help us to thank him ; let us with united voice sing, ' Oh
for a thousand tongues,' &c. That sweet hymn always recurs
to me when I know not what to say in reviewing the past
one-and-twenty years." — " Perthes is a true child at Christ-
mas time," says Caroline, a few days later, in her account of
Christmas eve ; " my heart is stirred afresh by him every year
at that season. It is three-and-twenty years since I first felt
this, and my conviction, that one who could take such child-
like delight in the Christmas tree must have a pure and