Letter 191a

• 191a. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Jena: Berlin, before mid-November 1797 [*]

[before mid-November 1797]

Dearest Auguste,

|622| The business with the Lied really is dumb. [1] I already thought about it myself. I cannot yet promise you the right one with any certainty. Unger is an incredibly busy man whom I simply cannot inconvenience with such things. It is also quite possible that the music has been set but not printed, but the manuscript itself destroyed. Then you will just have to be patient. But be assured that I will take care of your request as well as I can, just as you take care of mine, for which I am very grateful, just as I am also grateful that you wrote me.

Your letter made me very happy indeed. Especially also what you write about Hardenberg and that my friend pleases you so much. [2] Listen, had your letter not come, I would have written to you. I could now give you an example of what it would mean to write from the heart. [3] Hardenberg would have been there, you would know how I love him, and had you considered that it would make me glad and had you then related something about him to me, then you would have written to me from the heart. Then I would really have wanted to |623| reproach you for not having done it, and reproached you quite nicely indeed. But you anticipated me and I must now express my warmest gratitude to you.

Kiss your mother’s hand on my behalf and tell her short and sweet that her inclination to be angry with me is rubbish; [4] may she but lick and tend the young bear Herkules with all her soul and with all her might that it may thrive. [5] She should let me know in confidence what it is she still wants. Do you also want to contribute something? —

But seriously, only tell her that I am a bit astonished that she thinks it necessary to be angry with me. But since she astonishes me so often now, it will quickly pass. [6]

Be merry and learn Greek.

Your Fritz


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:622–23 (letter no. 9); Waitz (1871), 1:360–61; KFSA 24:38–39. Dating according to KFSA 24:38. — Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1. Back.

[1] Presumably the Lied (art song) Friedrich mentions in the postscript to his letter to Auguste, Caroline, and Wilhelm on 31 October 1797 (letter 188c). KFSA 24:345n30.1 points out that because, as Friedrich mentions, the music was being published by Friedrich Unger, it was likely a Lied from Wilhelm’s translation of Shakespeare set to music by Johann Friedrich Reichardt; in his next letter to Auguste in mid-November (letter 191b), Friedrich reveals that the piece comes from the translation of Twelflth-Night; or, What You Will: Shakspeare’s Dramatische Werke übersetzt von August Wilhelm Schlegel, vol. 2, Julius Cäsar, Was ihr wollt (Berlin 1797). Friedrich similarly mentions Reichardt’s involvement in his letter to Auguste in August 1797 (letter 184c) with note 9. Back.

[2] Friedrich had asked Auguste about her opinion of Friedrich von Hardenberg in his earlier letter in late September 1797 (letter 185b). Back.

[3] Concerning the notion of “heart” or “inner disposition,” see Friedrich’s letter to Auguste, Caroline, and Wilhelm Schlegel in early November 1797 (letter 190) with note 1. Friedrich picks up the topic again in his next letter to Auguste in November 1797 (letter 191b). Back.

[4] Genealogische Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1790; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Caroline’s “inclination to be angry” with Friedrich “is rubbish” presumably because of rumors concerning Friedrich’s love interests in Berlin, which she has from Meta Liebeskind and Friedrich von Hardenberg but without further details from Friedrich himself. Whence also the jesting reference to “jealousy” in Friedrich’s letter to Auguste on 24 August 1797 (letters 184d, ), and Friedrich’s disquiet concerning Caroline’s queries in his letter to her and Wilhelm on 31 October 1797 (letter 188c) with note 9. See also his letter to Auguste, Caroline, and Wilhelm in early November 1797 (letter 190) with note 4 concerning Hardenberg’s involvement. Back.

[5] Herkules was the proposed name of the periodical Friedrich was proposing he and Wilhelm establish (what later became their Athenaeum). See Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm and Caroline on 31 October 1797 (letter 188c). Back.

[6] This irritating element of alleged presumption and misunderstanding in Friedrich’s relationship with Caroline passes increasingly less swiftly as time goes on and eventually no longer passes at all. Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott