Letter 181e

181e. Dora Stock to Charlotte Schiller in Jena: Loschwitz, 2 May 1797 [*]

Loschwitz, 2 May 1797

. . . The Schlegels are probably back [in Jena] by now, and quite ill edified by us, for we saw the lady on but a single occasion. [1] I cannot deny I was apprehensive regarding the unpleasant memories her presence might evoke for me, for she was the intimate between Madam Forster and Huber. [2] People here have not forgotten that she is the former Madam Böhmer who did time on Königstein, and we were warned by one of the more prominent families here not to have anything to do with her. [3] Hence you can easily imagine that we did not exactly look forward to her visit. She came, and I found absolutely nothing remarkable, but rather something quite ordinary about her. Perhaps she did not intend to present herself in all her intellectual adornment because our reception was so cool. We paid our return visit when she was not at home, then afterward avoided seeing her, and so it has remained. They are thus probably quite vexed with us and with Dresden in general because people took so little notice of her. [4] . . .

Notes

[*] Source: Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde, 3:22. — Loschwitz: a suburb of Dresden (Adam Friedrich Zuerner, Accurate geographische delineation der dioeces und des Ammtes Dresden [Amsterdam n.d.(1700–99?)]):

Loschwitz

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[1] Caroline, Wilhelm, and Auguste would not return to Jena from Dresden until 20 May 1797, though by 14 May they were in Pillnitz outside Dresden; it is uncertain whether they returned to Dresden before returning to Jena. See Wilhelm’s letter to Karl August Böttiger on 10 April 1797 (letter 181c), note 1. Back.

[2] Concerning the relationship between Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, Dora Stock, and Therese Forster, see esp. Therese Forster’s letter to Christian Gottlob Heyne on 22 March 1793 (letter 121a) with note 7. Back.

[3] A footnote by Ludwig Urlichs, Charlotte von Schiller und ihre Freunde, 3:22n3, perpetuates the misinformation that Caroline was the wife of her brother-in-law Georg Wilhelm Böhmer, “who played a role among the Mainz Clubbists,” rather than of Franz Wilhelm Böhmer. Back.

[4] The “we” in Dora Stock’s sentences refers primarily to herself and the family of Christian Gottfried Körner, the latter of whom remarks to Schiller on 17 April 1797 (Schillers Briefwechsel mit Körner, vol. 4, 1797–1805 [Berlin 1847], 23; here Correspondence of Schiller with Körner, trans. Leonard Simpson, 3 vols. [London 1849], 3:118):

The guitar has not arrived, but a poet has — Schlegel has arrived from Jena. I have not yet seen his wife. Minna has met her, and says she is very pretty. He has translated Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. What do you think of it?

Cf. Körner to Schiller on 29 May 1797 (Schillers Briefwechsel mit Körner, 4:23; here Correspondence of Schiller with Körner, 3:122–23):

We have seen very little of Wilhelm Schlegel and his wife. She does not please me, and there is something in his manners which I do not admire. His Julius Caesar is a good translation, but does not read like an original work. The dialogue is stiff at times. The obscure passages are chiefly the fault of the original; but the question arises, whether he ought not to have translated it according to his own interpretation. At all events, he should have added an explanatory note to such passages. With all his talent for the external beauties of poetry, Schlegel still seems not to have got further than the court-yard. The same may be said of his reviews.

The reference is to Wilhelm’s edition of Shakespeare, vol. 2, Julius Cäsar (Berlin 1797); the volume also included Was ihr wollt (Twelfth-Night; or, What You will). The advance copies of this volume, published by Johann Friedrich Unger in Berlin, were distributed in mid-May 1797.

In any event, Körner had gotten a different impression of Wilhelm during the latter’s initial visit to Dresden the previous year, when Wilhelm was assessing the professional possibilities for moving to Jena after marrying Caroline. Körner had written to Schiller on 12 April 1796 (Correspondence of Schiller with Körner, trans. Leonard Simpson, 3 vols. [London 1849], 3:52–53):

Schlegel is here, and pleases me exceedingly. He is more polished than the younger brother, without being superficial. He is fraught with a genuine enthusiasm for all that is excellent in Art, and his conversation is agreeable and humorous. His translations from Shakespeare, some of which you have seen, surely do him great credit. Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott