Letter 148b

148b. Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Amsterdam: Dresden, 18 November 1794 [*]

Dresden, 18 November 1794

Your vexation at our failed plans, dearest Wilhelm, sorely grieves me, and I will be unable to rest until things have been worked out one way or the other. [1] I wish you would go ahead and begin considering new plans lest you give up hope entirely. Do you not, however, think it worth the effort to consider seriously my recent suggestion? [2] Resolve but to return to Germany, and your own will has been attained. Simply cut through whatever difficulties cannot be otherwise resolved.

Karoline is not satisfied in Gotha. Fine! But where will she find things better now? or even as good? She has genuine friends there, and Gotha itself is rather inexpensive. Were you nearby, she would doubtless be able to bear it. Jena would be extremely advantageous for you. You would be in the right place with respect to all your literary projects; it is also quite easy to make publishing contacts there, and in that regard it would offer undeniable advantages over Dresden itself; and in another regard as well. Although things are not expensive here, it is well known that Jena is even more, indeed incomparably inexpensive. If you are not pleased with it, you are certainly not obligated to stay and can find a different place to live in the vicinity. You will find Humbold[t] there. [3] Weimar is nearby, and thus Herder and Goethe.

If afterward you have plans for other locales, such as Braunschweig, you will not be as far away as in Amsterdam, nor even, for that matter, as far as in Dresden. [4] Although you will find no art collections in Jena, you will find natural beauty, and you can be in Gotha when and how and however long you like. It will be no problem making contact from Jena with all the journals or scholarly newspapers to which you want to contribute, or to find publishers for your own works, and for translations. If you are willing to countenance the latter, you can doubtless earn quite a bit; it is, moreover, doubtless a more palatable occupation than your present one. You will, after all, be free; you will be able to do what you like, your life will be your own, your very own.

I believe you are being too anxious about the money; what are the 1000 florins [5] by comparison, considering that here you would be moving forward each year toward future prospects, whereas there you would be moving backward.

But for you personally as well, for your own satisfaction, your residence there is so excruciating and so deleterious that you really must not endure it much longer. You will doubtless object that you will not be in the same locale as Karoline; but who would prevent you from spending months at a time in Gotha? [6] And even in Jena, you would be very close. Frequent visits are, after all, better than complete separation. Indeed, I cannot see why you could not occasionally spend six months at a time in Gotha.

If you do not like Jena, then move to Weimar. I am advising you thus without any consideration of myself; indeed, I would advise you to return even without any consideration of Karoline, and the advantages of Dresden and Jena would be so balanced that I would perhaps sooner decide in favor of the latter. —

Write me soon and let me know what you decide; it would also be better to pour out your laments than to stifle them in vexation; that said, however, now is not the time for laments in any case, but for a quick decision. I implore you to relate to me very soon your thoughts, your new plans, and your opinion of my suggestion. —

There is yet another objection you or Karoline may perhaps make, namely, that if you were to spend a lengthier time in Gotha, it would have unpleasant consequences for her connections and situation there. But regardless of where you two may meet, people will talk about it; [7] and perhaps most of all if she goes to Holland to be with you. The latter cannot but have quite ill effects on her family; and the opinion of her family is, I would say, the only one that really deserves some consideration. . . .


[*] Sources: Walzel, 192–94; KFSA 23:211–12. — The configuration of locales of which Friedrich speaks in this letter is the following (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] That is, plans for having Caroline live in or around Dresden; concerning the reasons for this failure, see Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 October 1794 (letter 148a). Back.

[2] To move to Jena so as to be nearer Caroline in Gotha (see letter 148a), ca. 65 km away. See Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 October 1794 (letter 148a), note 3. Back.

[3] Wilhelm von Humboldt had moved his family to Jena in February 1794, where he was extremely close to Schiller and would remain till July 1795, returning again in November 1796 and remaining till April 1797. Back.

[4] Concerning Wilhelm’s plans for a possible position in Braunschweig, see Moritz Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 June 1795 (letter 150d), with note 1 (W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):



[5] Which Wilhelm was apparently earning annually in Amsterdam. Back.

[6] Matthäus Seutter, Die Hochfürstliche Residentz Frieden Stein und Haupt Stadt Gotha. H. A. König delineavit (Augsburg ca. 1738); Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen; second illustration: H. Schwerdt and A. Ziegler, Thüringen, Meyers Reisebücher, 2nd ed. (Hildburghausen 1871), plate following 422:




[7] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Gnädige Herren, schöne Frauen (1777); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.212:



Translation © 2011 Doug Stott