Letter 161b

161b. Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Braunschweig: Dresden, 30 January 1796 [*]

Dresden, 30 January 1796

. . . What Karoline has now copied out is quite beautiful. [1] Although I did not have it quite as well in memory, I did still remember the previous scene, down to the tiniest details. Ah, how I would laugh were I to hear — and see — Karoline scan it, since she always uses her fingers to do so. [2] Will you two not also soon have Auguste to the point that she can scan in bed? In Lucka she could still sing the Marseillaise; [3] now do re mi; she will soon be à la hauteur. [4] . . .

Have you two read my review? [5] I am including it in a letter to Karoline, which you will be reading at her place. She is absolutely set on my singing, and you yourself know that in the end, she must have her way. [6] It should matter not at all to you whether you read my letters a bit sooner or later. Do allow her the feminine amusement of confiding to you what first she coerces me to conceal from your view. . . .


[*] Sources: Walzel, 262; KFSA 23:280–81. Back.

[1] Scenes from Wilhelm’s translation of Romeo and Juliet, an initial sample of the incipient edition of Shakespeare; earlier in the letter, Friedrich discusses issues relating to publishing individual scenes in Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker’s periodical, though such did not happen (see KFSA 23:491n18). Back.

[2] Concerning similar scanning, see Goethe’s fifth Roman Elegy, Goethe’s Poems, trans. Paul Dyrsen (New York 1878), 235:

Now I admire much better the marble; I see and compare, for
Touch is as keen as the sight, sight is as full as the touch.
Though the beloved will rob me of valuable hours in the day-time,
More than she takes she bestows on me in hours of the night;
For after kiss and embrace we sensibly talk to the purpose.
When she succumbs to sleep, revels productive my mind.
Many a time in her arms I composed a poetical fancy
And the hexameter's rhythm have I with fingering hand
Counted upon her back. Back.

[3] Which she had learned in Mainz. Back.

[4] Fr., “up to the task, (quite) apace.” — Do re mi, i.e., as a result of her ongoing musical instruction. Back.

[5] Presumably of Condorcet’s Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit human. 1795, in the Philosophisches Journal einer Gesellschaft Teutscher Gelehrten, ed. Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer, vol. 3, no. 2 (1795), 161–72; reprinted in Jugendschriften 2:50–56; KFSA 7:3–10. Back.

[6] Here “singing” likely refers to composing poetry. Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott