Letter 163h

163h. Wilhelm Schlegel to Georg Joachim Göschen in Leipzig: Jena, 24 June 1796 [*]

Jena, 24 June 1796

My good friend!

Please pardon me for having allowed, first, general distractions, and, afterward, business matters to prevent me from renewing my regards to you in writing for so long. I was greatly pleased to hear the news my lady friend related to me from one of your cordial letters to her concerning your stay out in the country after the wretched book fair and concerning your own and your family’s well-being. [1] You realize, of course, that I can never cease to take a lively interest in your life.

Since I myself left Leipzig, [2] things have gone uncommonly well indeed. I have made a great many interesting acquaintances and have generally been received quite well here; Jena, moreover, will for now become my permanent residence. —

Various circumstances in my situation here made it advisable to hasten my alliance with Caroline even more. [3] In a few days I will be traveling back to Braunschweig [4] and will be back here with her in less than two weeks, reckoning from today. [5] You are perhaps familiar with the area here — it is quite charming, and we will be living in a garden house with a delightful view. [6]

I have not yet been to Weimar, [7] having one less reason to go, namely, Wieland’s absence, while Goethe has been here most of the time. [8] I will, however, go over before my return trip to Braunschweig . . .

I have learned all sorts of things leading me to fear that things are not going well for the bookseller Michaelis. Should you yourself perhaps learn anything in this regard, I would be extremely obliged if you might pass such along to me. I have not yet sent him any manuscript of Shakespeare and must confess I would greatly prefer to delay doing so until I learn something more about his situation. [9]

My translation of Romeo enjoyed considerable approval from Goethe, to whom I read the entire piece aloud. [10] . . .

Stay very well and very content, my valued friend, and give my warmest regards to your dear wife.

A. W. Schlegel

My address is: Rath Schlegel in Jena.

Perhaps you already know from the Literatur-Zeitung that the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt bestowed this title on me. [11]


[*] Source: Körner (1930), 1:33–34. Back.

[1] That letter to Caroline has apparently not been preserved. Back.

[2] Wilhelm had left Dresden in early May and traveled to Jena by way of Leipzig and Halle, arriving in Jena in mid-May (documentation Körner-Wieneke 198). Back.

[3] Caroline and Wilhelm married in Braunschweig on 1 July 1796 in the Church of St. Catherine on the Hagen Market across from the Grand Opera and the Collegium Carolinum ([1] Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 4 [Vienna 1776], plate 32); [2] Friedrich Wilhelm Culemann, Braunschweig [1798] Stadtarchiv Braunschweig, H XI 5 18):



Here in the late 19th century (Festgabe: Braunschweig “Einst und Jetzt”: dargestellt in Wort und Bild [Braunschweig 1897], plate 9):


Here, no. 20 at center, in an excerpt from an engraving of Braunschweig in 1641 by Matthäus Merian (Braunschweig, Ansicht von Osten [1641]; second illustration: [?] Pfeiffer, “Die St. Katharinenkirche in Braunschweig,” Zeitschrift für Bauwesen, ed. Ministerium der öffentlichen Arbeiten 41 [1891], 421–28, here 421–22):



Here the nave and altar of the Church of St. Catherine where Caroline and Wilhelm wed (Oskar Doering, Braunschweig, Berühmte Kunststätten 31 [Leipzig 1905], 87):


Waitz, (1871), 1:169n2, cites the Braunschweigische Anzeigen (1796), no. 54 (Wednesday, 13 July 1796), 1139:


On 1 July 1796, the ducal Saxon Rath in Jena, Herr August Wilhelm Schlegel [was married to] the surviving widow of the deceased mining physician Herr Johann Franz Wilhelm Böhmer, née Michaelis. Back.

[4] Wilhelm seems to have left Jena on 28 June 1796 (see his letter to Schiller on that date [letter 163i]). Back.

[5] Caroline and Wilhelm do indeed seem to have arrived in Jena on 8 July 1796. Back.

[6] The exact location of this “garden villa,” as Karl August Böttiger refers to it in a letter to Wilhelm from Weimar on 27 July 1796 (Körner [1930], 35), can likely no longer be determined (Johann Diederich Gries moved into a similar apartment during the spring of 1801 to work undisturbed on his translation of Tasso).

According to a letter from Friedrich Schlegel to Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) on 23 July 1796 (letter 167a), it was located just outside the town gate (Löbder Gate). Caroline’s description of the location of the house (see her letter to Luise Gotter on 17/20 July 1796 [letter 166]) notes that Goethe passed by it “on his way to Paradies [Jena’s greenspace along the Saale River],” i.e., coming from his living quarters at the time in the Jena castle (here a photograph from 1863, from Dirk Endler, Das Jenaer Schloss: Die Residenz des Herzogtums Sachsen-Jena, vol. 6 of the series “Dokumentation” of the Städtische Museen Jena [Rudolstadt, 1999]):


The house thus seems to have been situated somewhere in the general area between the Löbder Gate (indicated in blue on the southern edge of the old part of the city) and the Paradise greenspace along the river.

Here on a 1731 town map with the Jena castle at top right, the Löbder Gate at center, and the Paradise greenspace at bottom; between the town gate and the greenspace one can see residential structures along the road (Matthäus Seutter, Grundriss der berühmte Thüringische Universitaets Stadt Iena an der Sale, mit Anzeige ihrer vornehmste Gebäude in Kupfer gestochen u. Verlegt durch M. Seutter. S.K.M. Geogr. in Augsp. [Augsburg 1731]; illustrations of Löbder Gate from [interior] Carl Schreiber, Jena von seinem Ursprunge bis zur neuesten Zeit, nach Adrian Beier, Wiedeburg, Spangenberg, Faselius, Zenker u. A. von Carl Schreiber u. Alexander Färber [Jena 1850], plate following p. 52; and [exterior] Goethe’s rendering from 1810 as reproduced on a postcard reprinted in Jena in alten Ansichtskarten, ed. Wolfgang Gresky [Frankfurt am Main 1979], 55):




Here a view from the east in 1616 with the castle at the right corner of the town walls and the Löbder Gate indicated at the left, southwestern corner; the green space between the town walls and the river with various residences is clearly visible in this illustration of the town’s location along the river, albeit from almost two centuries earlier (Petrus Bertius, Iena [1616]; from Petrus Bertius, Commentariorum Rerum Germanicarum: Libri Tres, Primus est Germaniae veteris, Secundus Germania posterioris, a Karolo Magno … Tertius est praecipuarum Germaniae urbium cum earum Iconisinis et Descriptionibus [Amsterdam 1616]):


Here a contemporary illustration of the Paradise greenspace from Ernst Borkowsky, Das alte Jena und seine Universität (Jena 1908), 125, and ca. 1864 (Henry Mayhew, German Life and Manners as Seen in Saxony at the Present Day, 2 vols. [London 1864], 2:166):



See esp. Peer Kösling, Die Frühromantiker in Jena, esp. 18–19. Back.

[7] Wilhelm visited Weimar for the first time on 27 June 1796, the day before his departure from Jena (see his letter to Schiller on 28 June 1796 [letter 163i]) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[8] From late May till September, Christoph Martin Wieland was in Switzerland with his wife; Goethe in his own turn was in Jena from 28 April till 8 June 1796 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:43–44). Back.

[9] The publisher Salomo Michaelis, who had been interested in Wilhelm’s incipient translation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was in financial trouble and seems eventually to have gone bankrupt. Schiller, too, had problems with him. Back.

[10] Wilhelm had written Schiller from Braunschweig back on 26 February 1796 (Körner-Wieneke 27):

You yourself have probably already guessed that I have been occupied with a poetic translation of Shakespearean pieces. Many years ago I once tried my hand at a translation of A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, for which Bürger did several of the Lieder and rhymed scenes [see esp. Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter on 13 November 1791 (letter 110) with note 6].

Now, however, having considerably changed my own ideas concerning such a translation, and having, as I flatter myself, more fully developed my own powers of translation, I had to recast the entire thing almost completely after having a look at it. This winter I translated Romeo anew. I would very much like to have included a few scenes today, since I am extremely eager to hear your assessment.

Unfortunately, the copying of the essay [“Etwas über William Shakespeare bey Gelegenheit Wilhelm Meisters,” Die Horen (1796) vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 57–112] left no time for such, nor did I particularly want to wait till the next postal day to send it, so I will save it and everything else until the next one or one of the following.

I did not suggest including any fragments of my translation in Die Horen because I believed it would lose too much out of context, and also because my intention is in fact to have it published in full this summer.

In fact, “Scenen aus Romeo und Julie” appeared even before the essay, namely, in Die Horen (1796) vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 92–104. Back.

[11] See Mother Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm in June 1796 (letter 163f) with note 1. Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott