Jay Johns Journal
of John Jay Johns
Families of MO
Friedrich Gauss Page
of Letter from Gauss
Waldo Dunnington Article
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and don't necessarily reflect my own views. More...
(From Mrs. William Gauss to her son Carl in Colorado Springs,
July 26, 1911
My dear Carl -
We've had no mail since your
Father's letter the day before we left Berlin, and as a mistake was
made about the forwarding address, I'm not sure whether we shall get
all the letters that are coming to us, but hope we shall.
We left Berlin on the 3.55
train on the 22d and reached Brunswick at 7.34, a pleasant run over
level fields, cultivated to perfection, but with no farmhouses on them,
so its evident that the farmers prefer to dwell in towns; we don't know
whether the lands are generally owned by big landowners or by those
who till them - perhaps may find out.
We went to a queer,
lonely hotel in Brunswick and afterwards we all wished we had gone to
another, still we were quite comfortable, except for the extreme heat,
which was worst on Sunday, the day we spent seeing the Gauss statue,
A Mr. Georg Heib had heard
from Carl Gauss of our coming and had left word at the hotel that he
would call at 10.30 the following morning and show us the places we
were interested in seeing. We learned afterward, not from him,
that he was the man who had carried through the plan for a Gauss memorial
room in the house where he was born. He was full of enthusiasm
on the subject of Gauss, and said he knew the history of the family
better than they did themselves.
He took us to the house where
Gauss' father had first lived, a narrow four-story one in a good neighborhood,
a few houses from the present Brunswick castle, which we went through
the next day; then to the school which Gauss had attended as a child,
a good building still, near which he showed us the church in which Gauss
was christened, confirmed, and married to his first wife.
We then walked a little distance
to the house with the tablet over the door ( a wreath of half-withered
flowers around it) saying that that was the house in which Gauss was
born, and giving the dates of birth and death.
We entered a flagged hall,
on the right of which is the Gauss memorial room, which was dedicated
in April. Mr. Heib gave Helen an account of the ceremonies and
she will mail it to your Father. By the way, I mustn't forget
to say that this Mr. Heib is a retired Royal Opera singer. This
we learned on seeing his picture in one of the museums in Brunswick.
He is middle-aged and more kind than I can possibly say, but didn't
speak English, so I couldn't talk with him, but I asked Helen to say
that your Father would write to thank him for putting through the plan
for the memorial room, which others told us he had done.
Tell your Father to address him as follows - Georg Heib, Brunswick,
Germany. He said he was known and that that would reach him.
He showed us all the articles
in the memorial room, where we stayed a long time. There was a picture
of Gauss on the wall, like the one in the living room at home, also
photographs, framed, of his children and of his first wife. There
is none of the second and Mr. Heib wishes very much to have one sent
to him. Tell your Father to send at the same time one of his own
photographs. There were on the walls framed quotations from Gauss'
writings, all of them short, for instance something like this - "He
is a true man who learns from his own mistakes", applying to all
mankind, as most or perhaps all of them did. Then there was the
picture of the death-mask, with the words about his faith or belief
in a future life "in which we shall all share", below it;
also other photographs of himself, one in which he stands near a telescope.
Then there was a glass case in which were some of his letters, one thanking
the citizens of Brunswick for some honor titles which they had bestowed
upon him. There were one or two of his books in the case, and
some other small articles, among the latter a gold dollar, the last
of those which he had received from Charles William Ferdinand, Duke
of Brunswick. On it he had had engraved on one side the Brunswick
arms. This he ad done when the Duke received the wound at Jena
(I believe) in 1806, from the effects of which he soon after died; in
his letter to the citizens, spoken of before, he alluded to the "never-to-be-forgotten
Duke of Brunswick", whose son, by the way, was killed in 1815 at
Quartre Bras - two days before Waterloo. Equestrian statues of both
stand in front of the palace - very beautiful and interesting, with
numberless fine portraits. The daughter of Gauss' friend became
the wife of George the III of England, - his mother (the Duke's) was
a sister of Frederick the Great, and portraits of them all hang on the
walls of the palace and the museums, a fine race of men, if one can
judge from their faces. It was interesting to see in cases in
the museums the uniforms worn by those "black Brunswickers"
- jet black, one and all, with perhaps a touch of color on the collars.
But to return to the Gauss
room, which is cared for by the man living in the house, his profit
arising from the small price of admission. There is in it a large
wooden case, which had belonged to Gauss, and also a bit of the wire
used in telegraphing - it is framed and there is a statement about the
wire having been used in sending the first telegram.
We finally left the room
and walked a short distance to the monument, which stands in a small
park-like plot, with what is called the "Gauss berg" just
back of it. It is covered with trees and is a hill with a flat
top with a walk around it. The statue faces another park just
across the street. It's very fine indeed, but I like the Berlin
one better. You know just how it looked, but I hadn't known that
the long garment, coat I suppose it would be called, is lined with fur
and the cuffs are fur.
It meant a great deal to
us to see these things, more than I can well say, and the next day we
saw them again before leaving, also another house, good in its day,
where Gauss' father had lived a while before his birth.
We also saw the parks in
Brunswick and many beautiful old buildings, public ones, as well as
many quaint old houses. It looks like a very prosperous city,
has 136,000 inhabitants; indeed all the German cities look prosperous,
as if people were doing well.
We were very tired when we
reached Hanover on the evening of the 24th, after a run of an hour,
and as it was very hot and your Aunt Mary not feeling well, we spent
but a day there, coming here in the hope of more open spaces.
But even here we are closely surrounded by houses, but are luckily in
a very good hotel, the best, while in Hanover we were again unlucky
in our selection. We have spent the morning going around looking
at the old buildings and at the old church, begun in the 12th century.
This place is picturesque in spots, not everywhere, as in Rothenburg,
has 47,000 inhabitants and looks like a busy place.
We went to see our cousins
Paula and Herminia (?) Hartmann in Hanover, the other one was in England,
and found them in a very pleasant house and like them very much
indeed. They were kind and cordial, served coffee, coffee-cake,
cakes, etc. and would have been glad to have us stay with them.
Its dreadfully hot here,
as it has been for a number of days, so we're going to be rather quiet
till Friday and then move on the Goettingen, and hope to be pretty well
rested by the 31st. Your Aunt Mary says Helen had better prepare
a few appreciative sentences, to use them in case she needs them.
How I wish I could see you
all, or even hear from you, but must possess my soul in patience!
Write to me often; give lots of love to the others and keep lots for
Source: Location of handwritten original unknown.
Typewritten transcription in the private collection of the Chambless
family. Transcribed to softcopy by Susan D. Chambless, March 11,
Source: Location of handwritten
original unknown. Typewritten transcription in the private collection
of the Chambless family. Transcribed to softcopy by Susan D. Chambless,
March 11, 2000.