Supplementary Appendix 91.1

Concerning the boûts rimés composed in Marburg that Wilhelm Schlegel had received from Caroline and was to pass along to Gottfried August Bürger for assessment (Waitz [1882], 20, and Strodtmann, vol. 4).

Bouts-rimés (or bouts-rimez), “rhymed ends”, a kind of poetic game defined by Joseph Addison, in the The Spectator 60 (Wednesday, 9 May 1711), 7–8, as “a List of Words that rhyme to one another, drawn up by another Hand, and given to a Poet, who was to make a Poem to the Rhymes in the same Order that they were placed upon the List: The more uncommon the Rhymes were, the more extraordinary was the Genius of the Poet that could accommodate his Verses to them.” That is, the more odd and perplexing the rhymes, the more ingenuity is required to give a semblance of coherency to the poem.

In a bit of fun, Wilhelm Schlegel enlisted Gottfried August Bürger to deliver an expert opinion concerning “a request [that] has come to us from Frau Caroline Böhmer, née Michaelis.” Schlegel’s original (and tongue-in-cheek) letter reads as follows (Strodtmann 4:102–3):

[Göttingen January 1791]

To Gottfried August Bürger, chosen people’s poet of the Holy German Empire, perpetual promoter of good taste etc. etc. etc.

We entreat His Royal Poeticalness with a most humble request with respect to two poems prepared by two poets in Marburg (mirabile dictu [wonderful to say]) with the same bouts rimés or so-called end rhymes. Insofar as a respectable Marburg public has been sundered into two camps concerning the value of said poems and accordingly much desires to secure the assessment of a proven poet in same matter, concerning which a request has been dispatched to us from Madam Caroline Böhmer, née Michaelis, we thus felt no reserve in humbly addressing Your Royal Poeticalness with this request and are confident in the grace we have already so oft experienced that you will indeed deign and condescend to fulfill said humble request. To that end we are enclosing aforementioned bouts rimés, which we have similarly received from Marburg, of a so-called suicide victim for the emotional pleasure of Your Royal Poeticalness. We remain most humbly etc. etc.

August Wilhelm Schlegel

I would like to have my translation of Ugo[lino, after Dante]; I need it. Stay well and forgive me my foolishness.

Materials relating to this request, including the stipulated words providing the end rhymes as well as the poems themselves of the participants, can be found in Strodtmann, 4:90–112.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott