Letter 148e

148e. Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Amsterdam: Dresden, 7 April 1795 [*]

[Dresden] 7 April 1795

When I received your letter today, dearest brother, my joy was as great as my impatience had previously been torturous. Indeed, it was all the greater insofar as your letter now assures us of everything we have been wishing. [1] I embrace you in thought and pass along to you my joy at the prospect of seeing you again.

It goes without saying that today I straightaway took care of your requests. Our gentleman friend [2] has suffered considerably from an illness whose causes seem to have been more disquiet and emotional suffering than any genuinely physical malady. According to his last letter, however, he is again completely healthy and will be leaving his present place of sojourn on the 12th of this month [3] and be establishing himself along with his family at the chosen locale commensurate with his intentions. [4] He will be pleased to hear from you and will surely send you his most tender regards, and should he not have entirely recovered his powers again, my own letter will doubtless find him quite well.

Ah, my dearest of friends! Although my joy at perhaps seeing you again soon should quite suffice for me, human beings are, it seems, excessively greedy creatures. May we but be united at a single place, a place with an amiable sky above and no restrictive circumstances to limit us. My own unchangeable preference for the ancients justifies perhaps my inclination for Rome, and excuses the otherwise foolish wish to spend at least a few years living on the Tiber with my beloved brother. While you would be discovering all sorts of things in Italian libraries hitherto lacking for your own literary projects, I in my own turn would be rooting around in the Greek treasures. Indeed, I believe you to be in possession of that particular sensibility for the formative arts, that particular knowledge, to complete what Winckelmann began. [5] A work of renown! This beautiful dream is perhaps not entirely without veracity. [6] . . .


[*] Sources: Walzel, 212; KFSA 23:227. Back.

[1] Namely, that Wilhelm would be returning to Germany in July. Back.

[2] Viz., Caroline; it is unclear why such precautionary measures were now necessary. Back.

[3] This passage documents Caroline and Auguste’s anticipated departure from Gotha on 12 April 1795. Brigitte Rossbeck, Zum Trotz glücklich: Caroline Schlegel-Schelling und die romantische Lebenskunst (Munich 2008), 124, dates the departure to an undetermined day in March 1795, remarking further (ibid., 125) that on 1 April 1795 Caroline, her mother, brothers (Philipp and Fritz), and sister (Luise) signed an inheritance protocol in Göttingen dividing their father’s estate. On the other hand, Caroline herself, in a letter to Luise Gotter from Braunschweig on 16 April 1795 (letter 149), remarks that she had to convince the coachman not to take them to Braunschweig by way of Göttingen because of the trouble it would cause her. Perhaps Caroline visited Göttingen before leaving Gotha (i.e., apart from the visit during July 1794)? Back.

[4] Namely, Braunschweig, whither Wilhelm Schlegel would ultimately also return (W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):



[5] Apart from Winckelmann’s general influence, Friedrich is likely also thinking of his influential works Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, 2 vols. (Dresden 1764) or the popular piece Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerey und Bildhauerkunst, 2nd ed. (Dresden, Leipzig 1756); here the section and dedicatory vignettes to the latter work:






[6] The dream of journeying to Rome was not realized; Wilhelm dismissed it as “unfeasible” (see Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm on 20 May 1795 [letter 150a]). This episode was Caroline’s first, albeit indirect unsuccessful brush with living in Italy. Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott