Letter 164

• 164. Ludwig Ferdinand Huber to Caroline in Braunschweig: Bôle, Boudry, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 27 June 1796

B[ôle, Boudry, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland], 27 June [17]96 [1]

|383| What a lengthy pause that was, my dear Caroline! The first, next, and last reason was a rose-shaped tumor on my right hand that prevented me from using that hand for anything for fully three weeks. What then caused further delay was, as is often the case, the delay itself. One thing I in the meantime did not neglect to do, however, but which I managed to do during my illness, about eight weeks ago, was to forward the package with your letters [2] to the Zurich associé of Wolf’s Bookstore in Leipzig; according to my instructions, he will then have expedited it to Wolf’s Bookstore itself at the first opportunity, from whom it should then be coming to you.

|384| Now quickly to your complaint. You will probably take my word for it that I did not know the reviewer, nor does that make any difference in the matter in any case. [3] What does make a bit more difference, however, is that I did not actually read the review itself until three or four weeks ago. I merely saw it in Zurich, and after merely seeing it remarked that it was “shamelessly long,” in which case I could not possibly have found anything “shameless” about the review itself except its length, which, as I wrote to you — I can assure you of this on my honor — was the only thing I knew about it. “Shamelessly long” thus did not mean much more than perhaps “frightfully long,” and the severity of expression referred solely to the apparent partiality of the A.L.Z. [Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung], in which during the first year of the existence of Die Horen four or five sheets were dedicated to a review of this monthly on two separate occasions. Even accepting the assertion that the quality of Die Horen is really quite exceptional, that would still be wholly disproportionate compared to the status otherwise occupied by monthlies in the concept of the A.L.Z.

Now, however, I have also read the review itself. Notwithstanding the lack of freedom one senses in it, any more severe and demeaning expression would otherwise be quite ill applied to it. I think what is said about Schiller’s elegy and Goethe’s erotic-artistic poems is good and true. The analysis of the Schattenreich I do not like — not because I consider the idea of such an analysis to be misdirected in and of itself, nor because I believe it could not be commensurate with the object to be analyzed.

Nor did I ever take all that seriously what I said about Goethe and company. Of all those people, he is simply the only one for whom the business being perpetrated really |385| is a matter of nature, instinct, organization, genius — and as often as he becomes cheeky or willful out of sheer vanity, he cannot but laugh at all the others.

You wrote me something about Meyer that must be a quid pro quo. Canon Meyer really was recently in Paris, something I can conclude from a letter from the elder Heyne. But Wilhelm Meyer, the Berlin Meyer, is in Berlin, whence he wrote me last month.

I consider peace with Germany [4] to be so imminent that I would prefer to wait until then before considering going to Paris, where the most recent measures with respect to foreigners, though capable of being circumvented, would not really be compatible with my own purposes simply insofar as they would indeed have to be circumvented in the first place.

Things are thus much the same with us. We are all doing well, and the most recent arrival is doing best of all. [5] May you — or all of you — be doing no worse!

As is often the case when one has waited so long — I had quite comfortably set aside this morning for chatting with you in a long and extensive letter and yet have been robbed of my time by one interruption after the other, by visitations, business, and who knows what else. But it is deserved punishment — if you prefer to understand it as punishment as well — though I know not for what — I might at least have the mitigation of believing you would have preferred my letter were longer even were it simply to prattle on, as was the case with my judgment of a review I had not read — though not judgment, but merely a remark prompted by my initial impression of thus and so many sheets regarding Die Horen, with respect to the editors. Hence sans rancune, [6] as I hope to hear from you soon.

[No signature.]


[1] Huber had married Therese Forster on 10 April 1794. After having been denied a residence permit in the town of Neuchâtel in mid-June 1794, they moved to Bôle, still in the canton of Neuchâtel, at the end of June. See Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer on 7 June 1794 (letter 145), note 3. Concerning Therese’s immediate itinerary after leaving Mainz in early December 1792, see Caroline’s letter to Meyer on 17 December 1792 (letter 119), note 5. Back.

[2] To Georg Forster. Back.

[3] The (so Erich Schmidt [1913], 1:711) officious reviewer of the poetic and aesthetic part of Schiller’s periodical Die Horen, a journal indeed accorded an unusually broad discussion in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, was Wilhelm Schlegel. Huber had prematurely judged his extensive review of Die Horen (1795) issues 1–10 in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1796) 4 (Monday, 4 January 1796) 25–32; 5 (Tuesday, 5 January 1796) 33–38; 6 (Wednesday, 6 January 1796) 41–47 (reprinted in Sämmtliche Werke 10:59–90). The review’s center of gravity is the masterful discussion of Goethe’s Römische Elegien (issue 4, 27–32; Sämmtliche Werke 62–70), Schiller’s “elegy” (“Der Spaziergang”) (issue 5, 35–37; Sämmtliche Werke 10:74–77); and “Das Reich der Schatten” (what Huber will call the Schattenreich) (issue 6, 41–44; Sämmtliche Werke 80–84) (concerning “Das Reich der Schatten,” cf. Caroline to Luise Gotter in the autumn of 1795 [letter 155] with note 8). Back.

[4] Huber is referring to the initially successful French campaigns of 1796. “In the war against the Empire, the directory, on advice of [Lazare] Carnot, arranged for a triple attack: (1) the army of the Sambre and Meuse, under Jourdan, was to advance from the lower Rhine to Franconia; (2) the army of the Rhine and the Moselle, under Moreau, was to penetrate from the upper Rhine into Swabia and Bavaria; (3) the army of Italy, under Bonaparte, was to drive the Austrians out of Italy and unite with the other armies by way of the Tyrol.” “Jourdan and Moreau invaded South Germany, and [i.e., “whereupon”] Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria were obliged to conclude truces” in August 1796, though, also in August, the brother of Emperor Francis II, Archduke Charles, initiated an offensive against Jourdan and defeated him at Amberg and Würzburg (in early September). “The archduke then turned on Moreau, who retreated through the Black Forest to the upper Rhine” (The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of World History, ed. William L. Langer, 2 vols. [New York 1975], 1:614). Back.

[5] Ludwig Ferdinand and Therese Huber’s fifth daughter, Sophie Albertine, would be born soon as well, namely, on 8 September 1796. Back.

[6] Fr., “no hard feelings.” Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott