The sentimental revolution of Marie von Bruiningk

Notes on a patient of Friedrich Robert Faehlmann

The article discusses a biographical circumstance concerning Friedrich Robert Faehlmann (1798–1850), notably his relations with Marie (Méry) von Bruiningk (1818–1853) from the Lieven family. Estonian historiography knows Marie von Bruiningk as a revolutionary of 1848, a democrat and, possibly, a revolutionary agitator, the spiritual leader of the circle associated with the Bruiningk family in the 1840s. Also, her association with Karl Marx and the Russian revolutionary Alexander Herzen has been pointed out. Friedrich Robert Faehlmann was the family doctor and friend of the Bruiningks. His putative relations with Marie von Bruiningk have enhanced the political weight of his activity, while fiction has been feeding the myth of their possible intimate relationship.
     However, Marie von Bruiningk’s correspondence with Luise and Wilhelm Zimmermann (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach) and with Johanna and Gottfried Kinkel (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn), hitherto neglected by Estonian historiography, as well as the correspondence between Karl Marx and Alexander Herzen, and some other sources enable the conclusion that Marie von Bruiningk was not a key figure in the German Revolution of 1848, although she provided material support to certain revolutionary figures and events. In 1851–1852 the London home of the Bruiningks became a salon for German political exiles. Marie von Bruiningk seems to have been a typical lady of the salon. She became a partisan of the heroes of the hour, in particular of Gottfried Kinkel, and a sentimental poetess of the revolution. In the book „König und Dichter” (1851), under the pen-names of G. W. and Gottfried Welle, she published a few poems singing Kinkel. Doctor Faehlmann, however, mentioned by Marie von Bruiningk in a couple of letters to the Kinkels, does not seem to have belonged to her close friends, rather, the case concerns a confiding relationship between doctor and patient.