Supplementary Appendix 209.1

Caroline, Charlotte Ernst, and Auguste Ernst in Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde. [*]

Isaac-Julien Rouge begins as follows in his preface: [1]

Perhaps nowhere in the entirety of literature can one find a novel as universally rejected and yet as frequently discussed as Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde. Although with respect to form and content it is reproached for being a “non-thing,” yet with respect to both it is viewed as so characteristic of the early Romantics’ understanding of both art and life that it is repeatedly adduced by those trying to characterize their doctrines. . . .

Rouge discusses Caroline, Charlotte Ernst, and the latter’s daughter, Auguste, beginning ibid., 25:

Salvation and deliverance appear in the figure of a woman “who moved him to the very depths of his heart for the first time” (91). Such salvation and deliverance, however, are not a gift of requited love. They are the prize of self-overcoming, sacrifice, and renunciation. To wit, this woman had already made her choice, and Julius was the friend of her beloved. He never for a moment considers destroying their bond, engaging instead all his energies to avoid troubling that friend, doing so by utterly suppressing his own love. In so doing, however, he perceives his own unworthiness more keenly than ever before and resolves to earn happiness, as it were, and to gain control of himself in this regard. “He recognized in himself a high calling to divine art, berated his laziness for having put him so far behind in his development and for making him too weak to meet any great challenge. He didn’t let himself sink into idle despair, but followed the heralding call of this sacred duty.” This deification of his sublime lady friend becomes “the spiritual foundation and fixed center of a new world” (93).

It is here that the soul of the protagonist undergoes its initial purification. Henceforth, although there will indeed be references to infinite yearning, passionate brooding, and completion through death, there will be no more talk of unsatisfied desires, fragmentation, or suicide. What is understood more narrowly as the pathological element of romantic fragmentation and disunion is declared overcome here, and this recovery is attributed to what is actually a genuinely classical remedy, namely, self-overcoming.

Ibid., 100–01:

Caroline Boehmer. . . . The woman introduced as savior is Caroline Boehmer, who in July 1793, having fallen into considerable distress through her own actions, was accompanied by Wilhelm Schlegel to the town of Lucka, near Leipzig, where he then entrusted her to Friedrich’s oversight. We have already discussed the motif of self-healing through self-overcoming as such in the general overview above, p. 25. Here one need only ascertain the extent to which the narrative corresponds to actual facts. I believe the notion of struggle and victory are considerably exaggerated here. The sober reality emerges in a letter to Wilhelm written on 16 September 1793, which suggests that although Friedrich did indeed offer a certain sacrifice in this regard, it consisted only in foregoing any claim on Caroline’s friendship with the same sort of importunateness mentioned above. [2]

The author of Lucinde probably also exaggerates in his assessment of the influence Caroline actually had on him. Although it is true that at precisely this time he did pull himself together and soon start a new life in Dresden, he had already found the personal resources to do so even before Caroline arrived. [3] The actual contribution this venerated woman made to his rebirth comes to expression with equal measures of moderation and emotion in a letter of 2 August 1796: “What I am and will be, I owe to myself; the fact that I am thus, I owe in part to you.” [4]

He sketches this portrait of Caroline with a hand that is equally sure and loving. In the process, of course, he overlooks all her transgressions. Otherwise, however, what appears here is the model of the romantic woman as she was in concrete reality: no bluestocking elements, no pythonesque elements, no virago elements, but rather a genuine woman. Friedrich extols the fusing of all her characteristics in the crucible of perfect womanliness using words similar to those he had used in extoling the fusing of all merits into perfect beauty in Sophocles. [5] For an idea of the manner in which she read sublime poetry aloud, one can adduce the impression she made on both Wilhelm and Friedrich through her reading of Goethe’s Iphigenie. [6]

Ibid., 102:

The other woman, “whom he respected and loved as a sister, and whom he considered only as such (95),” is indeed his own sister Charlotte, who lived in Dresden as the wife of the court official Emanuel Ernst. She provided accommodations for her brother for two years (1794–96), loyally assisting him in getting out of the straits he was in at the time. Although the relationship between the calm, reasonable middle-class housewife and the excitable opponent of all philistine notions of society was initially not particularly good, gradually he came to appreciate her differently. In letters to his brother, he particularly extols her participation in plans that would enable Wilhelm to settle in Dresden with Caroline. [7] Like their other siblings, she does indeed seem not to have objected to Wilhelm’s relationship with this severely compromised woman. She similarly seems to have had no particular problem approving even of Friedrich’s relationship with Dorothea. [8] During the summer of 1798, when both he and Wilhelm were living with her, he probably won her over for his in this context “morganatic” sister-in-law. Hence it is quite natural for Friedrich to praise the “profound consideration and true gentleness” with which she expressed herself “about the prevalent opinions of mankind, and the excesses and anomalies of those who lived counter to the general stream of things” (95). One example of this measured reserve emerges in the way she later discusses the relationship between Tieck and Countess Henriette von Finckenstein. [9] She was acquainted with Christian Gottfried Körner, [10] and Novalis quite enjoyed her company. [11] She later maintained steady contact with Tieck. That this child of Adolf Schlegel, too, did not want for intellectual acumen is attested by several of her unpublished letters to her brother Wilhelm, and certainly also one to Novalis. [12]

But it is not simply these particular characteristics of disposition and understanding whose “romantic” gradations Julius appreciates and is able to portray with such precision. He also extols — quite sincerely and without irony — her “spirit of friendly order” (95), her prudent activity, traits that bring him ineluctably to the conclusion that “consistency was the only real virtue” (95).

The child with whom “nature finally rewarded the motherly virtue of this wonderful woman” is Auguste [Ernst], with whom we became acquainted above [earlier in Rouge’s discussion pp. 73ff.; see below] as the model for young Wilhelmine.

The portrayal of perfect “domestic happiness” is a welcome complement to the childless portrait of Caroline.

Ibid., 73–74:

The little girl Wilhelmine is introduced quite specifically to provide Schlegel with a grounding for his apology of unashamedness. The false and repugnant elements in this exploitation of the innocence of a child, however, should not diminish one’s enjoyment of this otherwise charming portrayal.

The portrait of this two-year-old girl is so true to life that it had to have been taken directly from nature itself. In little Wilhelmine, I recognize Friedrich Schlegels real-life niece, Auguste, daughter of his sister, Charlotte Ernst, in Dresden.

Later in life, this daughter was to be the cause of considerable grief for her parents — who worshiped her as their only child — in her unhappy marriage with a certain Baron Buttlar. Praise of her positive character traits and the story of her sad experiences fill the unpublished letters of Charlotte to her brother Wilhelm now residing in the Royal Library in Dresden. She also appears occasionally in Friedrich’s and Dorothea’s letters. She trained as a painter, and one of the portraits of Friedrich Schlegel (familiar through Josef Axmann’s engraving) is from her hand. During the night Friedrich struggled with and ultimately succumbed to death, his niece stood by him utterly alone. [13]

According to Dorothea, in 1816 Auguste was twenty years old; [14] hence it was probably her birth that Friedrich mentioned to his brother on 28 July 1798, [15] and she was thus indeed two years old during the summer of 1798, when Friedrich was staying with his sister in Dresden. He mentions her in the letter to Schleiermacher on 3 July 1798 when he laments Wilhelm’s perpetual “working work” and adds: “and yet there are a few people here with whom I can engage in synidleness and can synexist, namely, my sister and her amusing child.” [16]

The physical portrait of the little daughter succeeds as well as does the psychological portrait of her mother below [see above]. One really can see this “amusing child” and hear its baby talk. The urge to imitate, the tendency to use repetition, the disconnected enumeration of favorite ideas, and the equally inquisitive and love-hungry attraction to the wooden doll — all these features are observed and portrayed with equal accuracy, and then incorporated with delightful humor into philosophical observations or as grounding for Romantic doctrinal positions.

The first section is one of the most heartwarming in Lucinde, one of the few that gives a sense of freshness. The rest of the chapter, by contrast, is merely the inferior play of intentional affectation. As mentioned above, the child is to provide the author with justification for his own unashamedness, and to that end the reader is shown how charming little Wilhelmine often “takes an inexpressible pleasure in lying on her back and kicking her legs up in the air, careless of her dress and the world’s opinion” (52). This true-to-life image might prompt interesting observations concerning the question of the extent to which a woman’s sense of shame is inborn or acculturated, and for determining the boundary between natural shame and affected prudery. Julius, however, makes things much easier for himself by continuing quite straightforwardly: “If Wilhelmine does that, what may I not do, since I am after all, by God, a man, and do not need to be more modest than the most modest of women!” (52). This clumsy confusion between unconscious innocence and conscious intentionality, this crude blindness to what in a child is charming but in an adult simply ridiculous or even disgusting, makes an extraordinarily unpleasant impression on the reader, especially with respect to an object of this sort. And yet one must not take this condemnation too far.

Oskar Walzel associates this imagery with the negative motif so popular in the erotic literature of the eighteenth century, namely, that passion is excited by a view of the most hidden, concealed beauty. [17] He adduces especially two of Goethe’s Epigramme Venedig 1790 (nos. 39 and 40): [18]

Dear child, by no means turn your legs up toward heaven!
For Jupiter will see you, the rogue, and Ganymed become concerned.
Go ahead and turn up your little feet toward heaven, and without care!
For we raise our arms up in prayer, but not innocently, like you.

Walzel remarks that “Friedrich Schlegel, full of lustfulness but utterly lacking plastic, formative imagination, was quick to combine the situation of the first epigram with the moral interpretation of the second. . . . Here innocence is utterly corrupted, distorted.” I think it more likely that Schlegel drew this image directly from nature, and I am of the opinion that here, where the reference is explicitly to a two-year-old child, no such lustfulness can be at work. Innocence is misused — maladroitly at that — for alien purposes, but is not impiously or blasphemously defiled. What remains true is the observation that this particular passage exemplifies Schlegel’s mannerism, something Walzel demonstrates by adducing evidence from Clemens Brentano’s letters [19] and from Immermann’s Münchhausen. [20]


[*] Isaac-Julien Rouge, Erläuterungen zu Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde (Halle 1905). Hereafter cited as Erläuterungen. — All translations from Lucinde are from Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde and the Fragments, trans. Peter Firchow (Minneapolis 1971); parenthetical pagination refers to this edition. — Footnotes are those of the present editor. — For the full text of the section in Lucinde modeled on Caroline, see supplementary appendix 132a.1. Back.

[1] Erläuterungen, 7. Back.

[2] See Friedrich to Wilhelm on 16 September 1793 (letter 135.1). Back.

[3] See Friedrich to Wilhelm on 3 April 1793, Walzel, 84, KFSA 23:88–89; on 2 June 1793, Walzel 90, KFSA 23:99–100; and on 19 June 1793, Walzel 94, KFSA 23:104. Back.

[4] Letter 168; see also Friedrich to Wilhelm on 11 December 1793 (letter 136c); and on 21 January 1794 (letter 137d). Back.

[5] Ueber das Studium der Griechischen Poesie, Jugendschriften 1:142, lines 25–38. Back.

[6] Sämmtliche Werke 7:196 (cited in Friedrich to Wilhelm on 27 February 1794, note 3); see Friedrich to Wilhelm on 29 September 1793 (letter 135.2); and on 27 February 1794 (letter 141a). Back.

[7] Friedrich to Wilhelm in late July 1794 (letter 145a); on 27 October 1794 (letter 148a); on 20 May 1795 (letter 150a). Back.

[8] See Friedrich von Hardenberg to Friedrich on 20 January 1799 (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, ed. J. M. Raich [Mainz 1880], 104; Novalis Schriften 4:272; KFSA 24:219). Back.

[9] Unpublished letter of 17 May 1826, Anton Klette, Verzeichniss der von A.W. Schlegel nachgelassenen Briefsammlung, nebst Mittheilung ausgewählter Proben des Briefwechsels mit den Gebrüdern von Humboldt, F. Schleiermacher, B.G. Niebuhr, und J. Grimm [Bonn 1868] 12,24. Back.

[10] Friedrich to Wilhelm on 21 August 1793 (letter 133a). Back.

[11] Novalis to Wilhelm Schlegel on 12 January 1798 (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, 51; Novalis Schriften 4:244); to Caroline on 20 January 1799 (letter 216); to Friedrich on 31 January 1800 (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, 131; Novalis Schriften 4:317; KFSA 25:53); Friedrich to Wilhelm on 16 January 1801 (Walzel, 455; KFSA 25:219); Novalis to Ludwig Tieck on 1 January 1801 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck, ed. Karl von Holtei, 4 vols. [Breslau 1864], 1:311 [not Holtei, Dreihundert Briefe as in Rouge, Erläuterungen, 102]; Novalis Schriften 4:343). Back.

[12] In February 1799 (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, 113–15; Novalis Schriften 4:517). Back.

[13] See Ludwig Tieck’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 13 January 1829 (Lohner 189–92). Back.

[14] To Countess Julie Zichy on 28 July 1816 (Dorothea von Schlegel geb. Mendelssohn und deren Söhne Johannes und Philipp Veit. Briefwechsel, ed. J. M. Raich, 2 vols. [Mainz 1881], 2:370). Back.

[15] Walzel, 286; KFSA 23:324. Back.

[16] Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:76; KFSA 24:141. Back.

[17] “Zu den Romantikern: Geschichte eines komischen Motivs,” Euphorion 3 (1896), 109–10. Back.

[18] Most of Goethe’s “Venetian Epigrams,” his “Epigramme / Venedig 1790,” albeit rendered less abrasive in some instances, were initially published in Schiller’s Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1796, 205–60. Back.

[19] Achim von Arnim und die ihm nahe standen, ed. Reinhold Steig and Herman Grimm, 3 vols. (Stuttgart 1894–1904), vol. 1, Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano, ed. Reinhold Steig, 1:273. Back.

[20] Karl Leberecht Immermann, Münchhausen, in Immermanns Werke, ed. Max Koch, 2 vols. (Berlin 1887), 2:112. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott