Carl Friedrich Gauss Letter (1846)

Carl Friedrich Gauss Letter - 1846-08-09
by Carl Friedrich Gauss

Source: Handwritten original in the private collection of the Chambless family. A scan of it may be seen here. Transcribed from a translation done before 1926, and retyped and annotated in 1926, most likely by Anne Durfee Gauss. Transcribed to softcopy by Susan D. Chambless, 1999.

Translation Letter from Carl Friedrich Gauss to his son Eugene on August 9, 1846.

Dear Eugene:

I cannot refrain from replying in a few lines to your letter dated the 16th of May, which came to hand on the 30th of June, although for two reasons I am compelled to be brief. In the first place, because Theresa is hurried in regard to dispatching the package tomorrow and, secondly, because I am somewhat indisposed and compelled to pass the greater part of the day lying on the sofa. This may be due chiefly to the intolerable heat, from which I always suffer greatly, which is greater this summer than I remember to have endured in all my life. According to the newspapers this heat seems to have prevailed all over Europe.

That I now have also in the new world a grand-child on your side is very gratifying to me. In the old world my name will probably become extinct, since Joseph's marriage has remained childless for some years. In all probability Joseph will be placed in different circumstances in the near future, more pleasing to himself than a lieutenantcy in time of peace; it is also pleasing to me for the reason especially that he will be nearer to me. It is the intention to have him become a member of the railroad directorate, which will require him to leave the army and make Hanover his domicile, although he will have to spend a great part of the year in traveling. He is at the present time in Stade in order to fetch his wife to Hanover.

That your business is prospering gives me pleasure, but in a letter which your grandmother received lately there is a somewhat unintelligible intimation that you intend to give it up, to go into the country and there to carry on a wholesale business. As you make no mention of this at all in your letter to me, I surmise the statement in part at least rests upon a misunderstanding. Moreover, we have received tonight evidence of your business activity of late, since Mr. Wisthof* has sent us a small barrel of flour from the mill of Gauss and Weidner, which Theresa greatly praises as better than any made here. By chance at the same time we had received a jar of butter aus dem Altenlande from Joseph's wife, -- so there was nothing wanting for an omelette from my children in foreign countries but the eggs from William's chicken coop.

We were very much pleased with the Daguerre picture which your dear wife sent Theresa. The workmanship is better than I have ever seen in any Daguerre picture made in Europe. theresa reciprocates with two copies of her picture, which Mr. Angelroth will bring, one for you and one for William. Besides he will bring at the same time for the same distribution two lithographs of my portrait. They were reporduced from an oil painting last winter, which was made here six years ago. The original of this oil painting by a Copenhagen artist got to St. Petersburg and a copy for Mr. Sartorius remained here from which the lithograph was made. The picture was at that time considered a very good likeness. Now I have probably become very much unlike it. I have also to thank you for the map of Missouri and Arkansas which arrived at the same time with the picture. Grandmother has probably written you that Ewald was married again last year.

With hearty wishes for your welfare, your affectionate Father,

C. F. Gauss.

Göttingen, August 9, 1846.

Collector's notes following transcription:Edit

Charles Henry, first child of Eugene and Henrietta Gauss, was born August 14, 1845, in St. Charles, Missouri, and was the grand-child in the new world, referred to in first part of this letter.

Joseph Gauss, son of C. F. Gauss' first marriage, who remained in Germany, later had a son, his only child, named Carl, who is still living (1926) in Hameln, Germany.

Ewald, mentioned above, was the German Orientalist, who first married Minna, C. F. Gauss' daughter by his first marriage. Minna is said to have had a good deal of her father's mentality, but died a few years after her marriage to Ewald. Ewald married again, as stated in above letter.

C. F. Gauss' second wife was also named Minna, and her daughter was named Theresa. Her sons were Eugene and William, who both came to America. Theresa married after her father's death. After her death her husband married again and it is worthy of note that his second wife in her will had the fairness to return to the Gauss family the property or a portion of it that had come from that source, a fairness not always shown. Thus Eugene Gauss after many years received from Germany a small additional inheritance, as his share of this returned property.

  • Note from Dorris Keeven: this should be "Westhoff"