Rudolf Haym recounts how Hardenberg, profoundly depressed after losing his fiancée, Sophie von Kühn, in 1797, had just met Julie von Charpentier and renewed his interest in his professional vocation, having returned to Weissenfels in the spring of 1799 and commenced his career as a mining assessor:
Again, just as three years earlier, he faced the world with serene hopes and plans; for the second time he set about becoming a person favored by love, domestic happiness, and renewed activity. Indeed, fate seemed to smile on him in every possible way, since now it also brought him into a circle of new friends, one of whom was particularly destined to exert an enormous influence on his inner life and especially for the development of his poesy.
It was none other than Ludwig Tieck.
Tieck, too, had in the meantime given his own life more stability. Reichardt’s sister-in-law, Amalie Alberti, whom Tieck had chosen even before his university days, indeed virtually while still merely a boy, had become his fiancée in 1796 and in his wife in 1798.
That same year, as we recall, he had made Wilhelm Schlegel’s personal acquaintance in Berlin. The latter was still residing in Jena, indeed, had even recently, on the basis of his Shakespeare translation, become an extraordinarius professor at the university there. Staying in Jena became increasingly more attractive.
Goethe, whom the Schlegels continued to court, stayed in Jena for sometimes lengthier, sometimes shorter periods of time. Fichte, on the other hand, was soon to leave forever the locale where he had established his fame and enjoyed the most agreeable sphere of influence; dismissed from his lectern as a result of the well-known atheism dispute, he left for Berlin in the summer of 1799, returning briefly to Jena only temporarily later.
Beginning at Michaelmas 1798, however, Schelling had been teaching alongside Fichte at the university, opening up new perspectives on the application of Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre through his own philosophy of nature. Philosophy was finally complemented as well by the lively activities of the natural sciences themselves; in the ingenious Ritter, physics, more specifically the doctrine of galvanism, had acquired a promising advocate. Those were powerful attractions for Novalis. He was especially interested in Ritter’s discoveries and experiments; Novalis came over from Weissenfels as often as possible if for no other reason than to see Ritter, to whom he also felt drawn personally and whose external circumstances were also the object of his general concern.
Tieck, too, could not help but be attracted by such a gathering of individuals. Hence in order to visit his friend Schlegel and to see the general living circumstances in Jena for himself, he made a side-trip to the neighboring town of muses in the summer of 1799 from Giebichenstein, where he was spending several weeks at the house of the brother-in-law, Reichardt. It was in Jena that he then met with Novalis, who had long admired Tieck’s Volksmärchen,  and from the first moment of their acquaintance they sensed their spiritual and intellectual kinship.
That very first evening, amid animated conversation, their hearts opened to each other. Tieck preserved his memory of that night in Phantasus, a night in which the new friends, after a merry evening, wandered around in the lovely surrounding area exchanging enthusiastic words about nature, poesy, and friendship. 
I entertain the beautiful hope that the bonds of our friendship will tighten even more and become fixed for eternity. Behold, my beloved, the shimmering, in gentle desire, of these transient, fleeting lives, that glitter like diamonds through the dark green foliage, awakening our emotions sometimes in trembling clouds, sometimes merely as gentle, individual, shimmering tones — and above us the radiance of the eternal stars! Does heaven not stand above the quiet, dark earth like a friend whose eyes radiate love and trust, a friend whom one is moved to trust, with all his heart, in every moment of danger in life, and amid all change?
This sacred, serious peace awakens in the heart all the slumbering pain that yet becomes quiet joy, and thus does noble Novalis now smile at me, grandly, gently, with his understanding gaze, reminding me that that night when after a merry celebration I wandered about in the lovely surrounding area with him, over the hillsides, and we both, not suspecting that separation was so near, spoke about nature and its beauty and about divine friendship.
Perhaps while I am thus thinking of him so intently his heart is in fact lovingly encompassing me, just as does this glittering starry night. Rest in peace; I want to seek my own sleep now, that I might meet him again in my dreams.
In Novalis, Tieck found a replacement for his Wackenroder; in Tieck, Novalis found, for the first time, a friend who did not merely understand his intellect, as did Friedrich Schlegel, but also, being himself a poet, his poetic soul. It was an encounter similar to that between Jacobi and Goethe. Just as Jacobi wrote at the time that it was as if he had found “a new soul,” so also did Novalis write to Tieck on 6 August, in an emotional recollection of the days and hours they spent together first in Jena, and then, traveling back together, in the Hardenberg house in Weissenfels, and finally also in Giebichenstein at Reichardt’s house:
Your acquaintance commences a new book in my life. Just as my Julie seems to me to possess the best of everything, so also do you seem to touch and be kindred to me in the very quick of my being. — — No one has every moved me as quietly and yet as thoroughly as you. I understand every one of your words completely. Nowhere do I sense even the slightest difficulty. Nothing human is alien to you — you participate in everything — and spread out lightly, like a fragrance, over all objects, and yet attach most preferably to flowers.
It was not just in recollection that these beautiful hours were to be renewed. The two were also yet granted the opportunity to travel their life paths together for a time. Tieck was master of his own life at this point. In October of that same year, 1799, he moved to Jena with his wife and newborn daughter, Dorothea, followed by Friedrich Schlegel as well. Two friends, two more reasons prompting Novalis, too, to visit Jena even more often now. . . .
The circle of Romantics had never been as complete or in such close proximity. Never had the mutual exchange between the individual members of this group been as comprehensive and animated — it was in every respect the real blossoming of Romanticism.
 Ludwig Tieck, Phantasus, part 1, Schriften, vol. 4 (Berlin 1828) 114–15; illustration: Matthijs Bril, Zwei Wanderer in einer mondbeschienenen Nacht (1611); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur 22.1 Geom. (7-24). Back.
Translation © 2013 Doug Stott