Letter 181b

181b. Moritz Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Jena: Göttingen, 1 April 1797 [*]

Göttingen, 1 April 1797

Dearest Brother,

I have been a resident of your charming wife’s hometown for more than six months now, something about which the two of you are no doubt still talking from time to time, and yet have still not written you a single line from here, staying connected solely through the letters from you and your dear wife that I happen to receive and that I read with the greatest interest and heartfelt attachment.

But I have had to establish myself in my new career and am rarely disposed for cordial written communication. [1] You have probably already heard tell of at least some of our complaints about Göttingen itself. Although I was hoping, and not without reason, to find a changed, improved, more sociable and humane Göttingen, it has instead remained absolutely the same as before, and apart from the insipid ladies’ clubs, which are a true horreur for my wife, [2] we have spent our winter here in solitary monotony.

My own enthusiasm for literature notwithstanding, my contact with academic tradesman, who are interested solely in their own specialized discipline and their own lectures and books and journals, has been less than satisfying. In general I have come to believe that one encounters much less universal cultivation and education in universities than in other larger and even midsized towns.

The departure of Spittler is treated as an indifferent bit of news, and mentioned really only in passing, people believing that his position can be easily and adequately filled by some other young scholar here. Religion here — thanks to the unsummoned Enlighteners who have been plying their trade here for twenty years now and who have not the slightest inkling of the true needs of humanity! — has fallen into an utterly wretched state of demise. This alone would suffice to spoil my stay here and to elicit in me the most ardent yearning for a quick change. — —

That said, however, amid all my discontentedness with my own affairs I have not in the slightest lost interest in the affairs of those closest to my heart. I am delighted to hear of your domestic happiness, your charming accommodations, your interesting trips, and your literary renown. — —


[*] Source: Waitz (1882), 39–40. Waitz indicated omitted passages by “— —.” Back.

[1] Moritz Schlegel had only recently (1796) become ecclesiastical superintendent in Göttingen (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Representative illustration: Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützlicher Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1808:



Translation © 2012 Doug Stott