|The still veiled commemorative plate on Herrenstraße 45|
Jacobi's life took a decisive turn when in 1784 and in an act of forced Enlightenment Emperor Joseph II appointed Jacobi, a Protestant, professor of belles lettres at the Catholic University of Freiburg paying him a yearly salary of 1000 guilders. Initially the faculty members were appalled but slowly gentle Jacobi earned their confidence such that in 1791 they unanimously voted him Rektor (university director) for the year 1792. Freiburg's citizens, in particular women, stormed his university courses. Jacobi's Teekränzchen (tea parties) in his house in Herrenstraße were famous. Maria Therese von Artner, a poet herself, wrote to a friend: Was wir also in unserem Kränzchen thun? Wir versammeln uns um den geselligen Theetopf, schlürfen seinen dampfenden Abguß, plaudern dieß und jenes, sind auch nicht ein bißchen altklug, und ich darf so viel und herzlich lachen, als es Lust und Laune zugiebt, tout comme chez nous … (So what do we do at our parties? We assemble around the sociable teapot, sip its steaming brew, chat about this and that, we are not a bit precocious, and I am allowed to laugh at a whim much and heartily, remaining entirely among our own ...)
|Tea party at Jacobi's house|
When under Napoleon the mostly Protestant Grand Duchy of Baden annexed the Catholic Breisgau belonging to the House of Habsburg Jacobi was one of the first to hail this as an essential unification alluding to the Zähringen roots of the ruling grand duke: Die seit Jahrhunderten getrennten Schilde / vereinen wieder sich, und eines Fürsten Milde / wird nun der guten Bürger Seelen /getrennten Ländern gleich / vermählen (Those coat of arms separated for centuries are now united again und your prince's kindness will marry the good citizens' souls separated countries alike). In founding a Lesegesellschaft in Freiburg in 1806 the Baden Besitznahmekommissär (commissary of seizure) Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Friedrich von Drais von Sauerbronn brought the newly arriving Protestant civil servants from Karlsruhe in contact with Freiburg's Catholic intelligentsia. "Reading societies" were popular in Germany at the time when books, newspapers, and journals were expensive but could now be shared by many. Jacobi not only was a founding member of the Freiburger Lesegesellschaft but one of its most fervent readers too.
When Jacobi died on January 4, 1814, everybody was sad, students carried his coffin to Freiburg's Alter Friedhof (Old Cemetery), an enormous crowd formed the funeral cortege, and his scholar Karl von Rotteck held the eulogy.
|Group shot in front of the illuminated plate. On the left Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach, |
on the right University Rektor Hans-Jochen Schiewer, and in the middle the organizers.