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Duchess Hedwig Diaries

user image 2012-04-02
By: Leopoldina
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My face is not that of a beauty, on the contrary I myself have difficulty tolerating it, and personally think [...] that I have a highly impertinent appearance, which [...] would mostly seem to invite a box on the ears [...]. I detest flattery, but welcome praise where praise is due, and I like to please, although more by the qualities of my heart that by my appearance.

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta Dagbok I (Diary, vol. 1)


Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte,one of the beauties of the gustavian court, kept a diary between 1775-1817,and is a good source for information about the swedish court during these years.I found and intersting article about it:

Between 1775 and 1817, Duchess Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta (1759-1818) wrote a voluminous diary of more than 4600 printed pages. She had come to Sweden in 1774, a fifteen-year-old German princess, to marry King Gustaf IIIs brother, Karl; the following year she started keeping a diary. The marriage was unhappy. Duke Karl was renowned for his sexual escapades with ladies-in-waiting and actresses, activities which he suspended for only a brief period after his marriage. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta bore him two children, in 1797 and 1798 respectively, but neither survived. Her hopes of finally becoming a mother, and thereby having a meaningful existence, were thus crushed. In 1809, she became Queen of Sweden when her husband ascended the throne as Karl XIII.

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas diary is one of the most important historical documents relating to the Gustavian and post-Gustavian era. It was written in French, and drawn up as monthly letters summarising the most significant events at court during the preceding month. Having initially favoured descriptions of court parties and entertainments, which to a large extent consisted of theatre performances arranged by Gustaf III, as she grew older Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta became increasingly interested in political issues.

In order to fill the lonely vacuum and to have an ongoing occupation, both worthy of me and at the same time agreeable, for my active mind, I decided to write down everything that occurred before my eyes. However, she writes in a preface, it would be far too dull to write only for herself: she needed someone to write to, someone to write for. The entries in the diary are addressed to a woman of her own age, her best friend since her arrival in Sweden: Sophie von Fersen, who became Sophie Piper upon her marriage in 1778. Like Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta, Sophie Piper was trapped in a marriage of convenience. Sophie Piper is the diarys ideal reader, the one being spoken to: You desire of me, my dear friend, a meticulous account concerning everything that occurs here.

The diary also, however, addresses itself to posterity, and gradually assumes the character of court chronicle and political document.

Over the years, Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta also wrote thousands of letters to Sophie Piper, alongside the diary affectionate, tyrannical, romantic letters, full of the Pre-Romantic nurturing of friendship. And it is quite obvious that friendship and dialogue with Sophie are the motive powers in her extensive writing project. These discourses keep her pen writing and her heart beating, even when the two friends are apart.

Time and again she returns, in reality and in her thoughts, to the bosquet dlicieux , the delightful bower in the park of Rosersberg Palace, where she and Sophie sat in affectionate conversation. She later sits there alone, reading and dreaming. And from here she writes to her friend, telling her how she longs for her, and reminding her of the everlasting friendship they have vowed one another. The bower becomes the symbol of the magic ring their friendship had drawn around the two women: a secluded place for whispered confidences, affectionate glances, and playful comments about the surrounding world.

A little verse written by Hedwig,about her friendship with Sophie Piper:

For corrupted hearts, friendship is not made. / O, divine friendship! Consummate bliss! / The only excitement of the soul in which exaggeration is allowed [...].

original text found at: http://nordicwomensliterature.net/article/what-occurred-my-eyes