Supplementary Appendix: Wilhelm Schlegel’s Residences in Berlin 1801–4

Wilhelm Schlegel’s Residences in Berlin 1801–4

Wilhelm Schlegel departed Braunschweig for Berlin on 21 February 1801, and during his initial time in Berlin lived at Friedrichsstrasse 165 at the corner of Friedrichstrasse and Behrenstrasse, possibly in an apartment or furnished room secured for him ahead of time by Schleiermacher (this and following maps from D. G. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826], with reference to the theater; house no. 165 is on Friedrichstrasse, no. 26 on Behrenstrasse): [1]


Wilhelm gave up that apartment before visiting Jena between 11 August and 3 November 1801, [2] moving at latest by early May 1801 either into a new apartment (though unattested) or, more likely, with August Ferdinand Bernhardi and his wife, Sophie Bernhardi, remaining at the latter’s residence in Berlin in the Friedrichswerder section at Jungerfernbrücke 10/Oberwasserstrasse 10 — except for a brief visit to the Leipzig book fair in mid-May 1802 — until the night of 18–19 April 1804, when he departed Berlin with Madame de Staël for Coppet in Switzerland. [3]

Bernhardi at the time was sub-rector (becoming rector in 1808) of the humanistic secondary school Friedrichswerdersches Gymnasium at this same location and lived in one of four private apartments put at the disposal of the faculty in the school building itself, which was located at the corner of Alte Leipziger Strasse and Oberwasserstrasse at the Jungfernbrücke (Jungfern Bridge, whence also the double address; today the bridge is the oldest in Berlin; D. G. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826]):


The following illustration of the Fischerbrücke in Berlin, just to the east of the Jungfernbrücke across an adjoining canal, portrays well the way houses were situated along Berlin canals at the time (Ludwig Lange, Original-Ansichten von Deutschland nach der Natur aufgenommen, vol. 10 [Darmstadt 1852], plate no. 8):


Here the design of the Jungfernbrücke looking north on the map above (Architekten-Verein zu Berlin, ed., Berlin und seine Bauten, 2 vols. [Berlin 1877], 2:43):


Here an undated drawing of the canal on which the Jungfernbrücke is located, looking south on the map above; Jungfernbrücke 10 is on the right just past the bridge (Jungfernbrücke von Norden; Landesgeschichtliche Vereinigung für die Mark Brandenburg e.V., Archiv Berlin-Mitte):


Here a broader view of the location showing the area that includes the Berlin theater (in 1826 the Berlin National Theater): [4]


And a view with Wilhelm’s earlier residence at Friedrichsstrasse 165:


The Gymnasium had been at this location since the autumn of 1800 and at the time had three secular and three ecclesiastical “gymnasiarchs,” Friedrich Ludwig Plessmann (1758–1807) as director, twelve regular and two special teachers, and one accountant. The opening of the first school year at this location was celebrated on 29 September 1800, that is, the autumn before Wilhelm arrived in late February 1801. [5] The Bernhardis had been married since 1799.

See Karl Eduard Bonnell concerning the history of the school at this time; his narrative picks up after recounting the fire that destroyed the original building used for the Gymnasium on 26–27 November 1794: [6]

Soon after the fire, His Majesty King Friedrich Wilhelm II, being not disinclined to resolve to acquire a building for the Friedrich-Gymnasium (thus also the name of our Gymnasium at the time) should the finance department purchase such location, therefore charged, in a cabinet decree of 15 May 1795, the municipal president at the time, Eisenberg, with so doing, indeed such that His Majesty had already earmarked a royal gift of 18,000 Rth. to reestablish same in its old location. [7]

That notwithstanding, it was not until March 1800 before our Gymnasium acquired its own location. To wit, with the authorization of His Majesty King Friedrich Wilhelm III [on 11 February 1800], the [Prussian secretary] Horch house, Oberwasserstrasse 10, was purchased for 18,000 Rth., and 3584 Rth. granted for furnishings, equipment, etc., with the additional stipulation that those parts of the building not required for classroom use were to be put at the disposal of four teachers as free apartments. . . .

After the building’s transfer, the Gymnasium had at its exclusive disposal the third story with seven classrooms for teaching, while the ground floor and fourth story were reserved as free personal apartments for the director and three eldest teachers. [Director] Plessmann described the classrooms as “high, spacious, bright, and ideally laid out given their purpose.”

At this time, however, the Gymnasium fell into a sad state under Plessmann before being elevated to its third florescence under Bernhardi between 1808 and 1820. The increased number of students under this excellent director soon made it necessary yet again for the faculty apartments (excepting that of the director, which was laid out in a rather inconvenient, disjointed fashion on the ground floor) gradually to be transformed into classrooms and libraries.

The house still stands unchanged at the Jungfernbrücke, and anyone can upon perusal be persuaded of its purposiveness or lack thereof with respect to the needs of a school of this sort. Nowadays no one would consider any of the classrooms of the period suitable for such purposes. Five were located in the front [east] of the building, on a street corner [with Alte Leipziger Strasse] and were noisy less because of the carriage and cart traffic of the day than because of the noise and quarrels prompted by the extremely frequent boat traffic.

Hence it seems Wilhelm likely resided on the fourth story rather than the ground floor, since Bernhardi would not become director until 1808. Although Wilhelm would spend 11 August–3 November 1801 in Jena, his return would largely coincide with the celebration of the centennial of the school’s elevation to the status of a Gymnasium on 27 November 1801, in which, of course, Bernhardi as sub-rector participated, speaking third in the program that morning. [8] Wilhelm’s scholarship in Berlin focused primarily on his lectures on the fine arts, Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst.

Here the Jungfernbrücke in 1909 looking across to the opposite side of the canal from the building at Oberwasserstrasse 10; the front façade of the building and its fourth-story dormers are visible to the far left of the photograph (photograph by Waldemar Franz Hermann Titzenthaler):


Here a photograph from 1880 of the Getraudenbrücke (approximately at center) and, behind it further, just visible down the Spree canal, the arched Jungfernbrücke, with the building at Oberwasserstrasse 10 visible to its immediate left (anonymous photograph):


Here a closer view from the previous photograph of the building at Oberwasserstrasse 10 in 1880, its four stories as described above clearly visible to the left of the arched Jungfernbrücke at the corner of Alte Leipziger Strasse, and a similar view in an excerpt from an early postcard:



And finally the Jungfernbrücke and the building Oberwasserstraße 10 in 1922 shortly before the latter’s demolition; note that the windows have already been removed (Archivspiegel Weblog des Berlin-Brandenburgischen Wirtschaftsarchivs; Sammlung Gert Lehnhardt):


The Paternity of Felix Theodor Bernhardi

After returning from Jena to Berlin on 3 November 1801, Wilhelm remained in Berlin from early November to 18 April 1804, the only exception being a brief visit to the Leipzig book fair in mid-May 1802. During this time in Berlin, he resided with the Bernhardis. It was in the winter 1801–2 that his love affair with Sophie assumed the form described by Karl August Varnhagen von Ense’s gossip. [9]

Given the chronology above, Wilhelm could easily believe himself to be the father of the child to which Sophie gave birth on 6 November 1802, namely Felix Theodor Bernhardi. Indeed, during the autumn of 1802 he composed a five-stanza poem for Sophie giving her encouragement during the final stages of her pregnancy. His remarks suggest an acknowledgement of his paternity even before Felix’s birth (excerpts; approximate prose translation): [10]

Oft, alas, with anxious hesitation,
Must I behold during these times
Among my tenderness
How a cruel fate does plague you. . . .

Hence stem now your laments,
Gentle heroine of pure desires,
Though no martyr of love,
Instead accept gratitude and rejoicing,
Beautiful hope would I dare to entertain . . .

Soon, soon will the hour come,
When the blossom in your womb,
Yet enclosed in its bud, like the fair rose,
Will dare to emerge from its shell. . . .

But lofty courage to bear the final struggle
Gather now in your heart,
But be not cross with me in your pain! . . .

Its hesitation is soon past,
And the newly sprouted life
Will flourish with frolicking striving,
Wonder about the riddle of its origin,
And tell us of our alliance [etc.].

Sophie wrote to Wilhelm much later from Munich on 16 December 1808: [11]

I was deeply disturbed that you seem utterly to have forgotten the day on which the most sacred oaths, oaths God surely heard, assured me of your friendship for all eternity. It was the day that, after the most unspeakable torment, and after the utmost danger, gave life to a child whom you chose as your favorite. I was hoping you would think of me on Felix’s birthday, considering you promised to love him like your own son.

See similarly Friedrich Tieck’s unsuspecting account of his nephew in a letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1834: [12]

He has become a large, tall man, with a handsome face with brown eyes that quite resembles his mother’s, in addition with various characteristics and peculiarities of movement that remind me immediately of you. What a strange thing it is with such similarities and what influences them. What significant influence must a mother’s surroundings have on the formation and movements of her children. Even as early as in Rome [in 1805] we all noticed to our astonishment his similarity with you with respect to gait and how he holds his arms, and now all these lesser resemblances.

Sophie in any case exploited this optimistic conviction to fleece Wilhelm financially for many years afterward until, presumably in the spring of 1808 in Vienna, the scales fell from Wilhelm’s eyes.

Before that realization, however, various circumstances conspired to confirm his initial error. Fichte had testified in the Bernhardi divorce proceedings that he had once come upon Wilhelm and Sophie in the latter’s bedchamber, an insinuation Wilhelm vehemently denied. [13]

The son, Felix Theodor Bernhardi was without question not Wilhelm’s son, but rather in all likelihood that of the Baltic baron Karl Gregor von Knorring, with whom Sophie had deceived both her spouse and Wilhelm. Varnhagen von Ense, who was close to the deceived spouse, shared this opinion. Knorring, who had been introduced to the household when he came to take private lessons in Greek from Bernhardi, [14] was among the witnesses at the child’s baptism (the witnesses included Wilhelm, Ludwig Tieck, and Friedrich Tieck, among others). In 1809 Caroline herself was astonished to find absolutely no resemblance between the boy and his legal father. [15]


[1] Wilhelm’s departure from Braunschweig is attested in Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 February 1801 (letter 290); his initial address in Berlin is attested in Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315). Concerning Wilhelm’s entreaties to Schleiermacher, see his letter to Schleiermacher on 9 February 1801 (letter 285c). Back.

[2] Wilhelm’s arrival in Jena in August is attested in his letter to Sophie Bernhardi on Friday, 14 August 1801 (letter 327a); his departure from Jena for Berlin is attested in his letter to Ludwig Tieck on 2 November 1801 (Lohner 95). Back.

[3] The timing of Wilhelm’s change of residences in Berlin is not entirely clear. Caroline seems to have known of his first move either to the Bernhardis or elsewhere during early May 1801, but, in her uncertainty, continued to address some letters to his initial address; see esp. her letter to him on 15 May 1801 (letter 317): “Since then I have out of uncertainty addressed some of your letters to your old logis, thinking that you had probably left forwarding instructions there” (she does not here mention specifically that he is residing with the Bernhardis). Ludwig Tieck, however, does address his letter of early June 1801 to “Professor Schlegel in Berlin, unfranked; to be delivered at the Friedrich-Werder Gymnasium, c/o Sub-rector Bernhardi at the Jungfernbrücke no. 10″ (Lohner 236).

Caroline gives a definitive date or terminus a quo for Wilhelm’s actual residency with the Bernhardis in her letter to him on 22 June 1801 (letter 322), in which she remarks that “I am glad to hear you are in the Bernhardis’ house and |174| are more comfortable.” And Sophie Bernhardi remarks in her letter to Wilhelm on 13 October 1801 (letter 329m), responding to his query about where to reside in Berlin after his return:

If you would be willing to restrict yourself a little and would be satisfied having the small room as your apartment in which Bernhardi resided during the summer, and then sleep together with my brother in the one you lived in during the summer, then you could live with us for the winter.

Wilhelm’s residence lengthier residence there is confirmed in Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 9 and 16 November 1801 (letters 229a, 330), and in Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Rahel Levin from Dresden on 1 April 1802 (Galerie von Bildnissen aus Rahel’s Umgang und Briefwechsel, ed. K. A. Varnhagen von Ense, 2 vols. [Leipzig 1836], 233; KFSA 25:345), and, later, in Sophie Bernhardi’s letter to Wilhelm on ca. 20 July 1803 from Dresden (Krisenjahre 3:44). See esp. Josef Körner, Krisenjahre 3:28, notes to letter 27, and 3:61, notes to letter 47. At his departure in April 1804, Wilhelm told Berlin friends that he was going only as far as Leipzig with Madame de Staël, when in fact he was trying to deceive creditors; that is, he would continue on with her to Coppet. Back.

[4] See the similar maps of this part of Berlin and the location of the theater in Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Caroline in early March 1799 (letter 224c), note 3 and in Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 14 February 1800 (letter 258m), notes 6 and 9. Concerning the Berlin theater at this time, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 28 April 1801 (letter 312c), note 4. Back.

[5] Johann Christian Gädicke, Lexicon von Berlin und der umliegenden Gegend . . . Ein Handbuch für Einheimische und Fremde (Berlin 1806), 197–98. Back.

[6] Karl Eduard Bonnell, “Schulnachrichten,” “F. Ereignisse und Geschichte,” Programm, womit zu der öffentlichen Prüfung der Zöglinge des Friedrichs-Werderschen Gymnasiums, welche Dienstag den 11. April 1865, . . . stattfinden wird (Berlin 1865), 55–59, here 56. Back.

[7] This information from the king’s decree can be found in “Kabinetsordres Sr. Majestät des Königs,” Jahrbücher der preussischen Monarchie unter der Regierung Friedrich Wilhelms des Dritten (1800) 1 (Januar, Februar, März, April), 225–26. Back.

[8] “Hundertjähriges Jubiläum des Friedrichs-Gymnasiums zu Berlin,” Jahrbücher der preussischen Monarchie unter der Regierung Friedrich Wilhelms des Dritten (1801) 3 (September, Oktober, November, Dezember), 321–22. Back.

[9] Varnhagen von Ense, Ausgewählte Schriften, vol. 2, 3rd ed. (Leipzig 1871), 33–36; for text see supplementary appendix 327d.2. Back.

[10] Josef Körner, (1930), 2:111–12, initially believed such perhaps to be the case. — The text to Wilhelm’s poem can be found in Krisenjahre 1:34–35. Back.

[11] Krisenjahre 1:662. Back.

[12] Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck. Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik (Leipzig 1906), 136. Back.

[13] See Wilhelm’s (unsent) letter to Fichte on 13 December 1808 in supplementary appendix 328b.1. Back.

[14] See Wilhelm’s lengthy letter to Ludwig Tieck from Coppet on 8 October 1804 (Lohner 153–59). Back.

[15] See her lengthy description of him in her letter to Luise Wiedemann from Munich on 17 March 1809 (letter 441). Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott