Intellectual Life

Thanks to Gottsched's biography we know the family had social connections with the intellectual elite in Danzig, most notably they were familiar enough with Jacob Theodor Klein for him to join them in their family concerts. From her letters we know one of her best friends was also from such a family, Anna Renata Breyne. Klein and Johann Philipp Breyne were clearly the most notable Danzigers of their day. Both had become scientists, by avocation to be sure, but passionately nevertheless. Through his travels, correspondence and trade Johann Philipp Breyne had extensive European connections, especially in the field of botany. His coin collection was especially valuable. Klein collected animals, shells, amber, and more. Both opened their collections to the public, Breyne in one of his city dwellings, at Langgasse 30; Klein in museum that he had built especially to house his naturalia. Both made efforts to systematize their collections, but when it began to be known rejected the Linnean categorization. Luise Kulmus was intellectually curious enough to have taken an interest in the work of these two men. Surely we are not wrong to believe she visited their collections repeatedly. The mature Luise Gottsched was respected for her expertise in numismatics, and what is more logical than to assume she first learned about coins with her friend Anna Renata in the Breyne collection. Similarly she may well have heard arguments about the classification of plants and animals from two later opponents of Linnaeus.

On the basis of one of Luise Kulmus's early poems, Auf den Fall eines vornehmen Ministers, it seems likely the family was also acquainted with Dr. Georg Remus, who had been Russian Prince Menshikov's physician; for the poem investigates the moral consequences of a life like that of the prince. Like her father, Remus had also studied medicine in Halle. He returned to Danzig with his own large collection of curiosities, which she may well have known.

Similarly, she was likely familiar with current discussions on the relations between the body and the spirit. Her own father had dedicated his dissertation to his professor of medicine in Halle, Stahl, a man who believed the two were intimately connected. The prescriptions her father administered during the plague were based on Stahl's remedies. Her uncle, however, had studied with the famous Boerhaave in Leiden. Boerhaave had reinstituted the practice of autopsy and notoriously believed in the duality of human nature: body and spirit. After his first visit to Danzig, Gottsched sent Johann Georg Kulmus is own treatise on the subject. In this treatise he had defended the philosophy of Christian Wolff.

Most likely Luise Kulmus had also been familiar with the controversial philosophy of Christian Wolff from family discussions. Danzig resident and professor at the Academy (where her brother also taught) Michael Hanow was an serious advocate of the philsophy of Wolff. Indeed after the death of Wolff Hanow completed one of his texts. More particularly, however, she surely heard of Wolff and his philosophy from acquaintance with the young physicist, Christian Gabriel Fischer. When forced to leave Königsberg in 1725 for espousing this philosophy of rationalism, Fischer had fled to Danzig. There, with the approval of local authorities, he gave public (subscription) lectures on physics and rationalism. He also became the secretary of Jacob Theodor Klein, helping him to organize his collections. When Klein came for evening concerts in the Kulmus home, surely there were discussions about Christian Wolff. No doubt, however, Fischer was also a guest in the Kulmus home. When he visited Leipzig, where he traveled with two young Danzig charges, he was the one who likely first told Gottsched about the amazing Luise Kulmus of Danzig; for it was after his visit that Gottsched wrote requesting samples of her poetry.

Although he had died in 1687, the legacy of Johann Hevelius, was surely still felt. According to her husband, Luise Kulmus was fond of staring at the night heavens. She herself reports her interest in this in her letters to him. The observatory Hevelius had built might have been gone, but surely not the local knowledge of his scientific concerns: his account of the phases of the moon, his description of the lunar surface and more. Similarly, the young woman Hevelius married when he was already old, Catharina Elisabeth Koopmann, might have been dead; but the knowledge of her work on the posthumous edition of Hevelius's texts might not have been.

The intellectual disposition of the men of the Kulmus household, as of Danzig in general, was concrete, practical and scientific. They were strongly engaged in the most current scientific discussions of the day. As for her mother, we know of her fluency in French, that she was interested in the arts, that she wrote poetry and was devoutly religious.