Letter 195c

• 195c. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Jena: Berlin, February 1798 [*]

[February 1798]

|625| Your letter gave me much joy, my dear Auguste, all the more so since you had been silent toward me for so long — for all the many reasons you mention in your letter and for the one most important reason as well, which you do not mention, namely, that you have become a veritable thespian, as your mother writes me. [1] . . .

I would, however, be extremely sad were you and your mother genuinely unable to come to Berlin. [2] And you yourself, who have already seen so many different cities and lands, ought you not — and do you not really want to — see Berlin as well? — It is almost enough to make me angry with you that you so quickly get used to the idea of not seeing me again. I hope that when you do come, as I wish, hope, believe, and indeed command, it will please you so much here that when you do have to leave you will be unable to do so without shedding at least some tears. [3]

|626| But seriously, I had already thought of so many things to do, discuss, read, and see with you, and now I am not even to see you again? Cruel, cruel mother! Tell her I will have to hate her quite properly if she does such a thing to grieve me . . .

I am so glad that you now have your friend Cecile with you there, to whom I ask that you most graciously commend me. [4] — Fear God and be merry.

The requested list of my friends here, both men and women, would not be particularly long, but it would be, let us say, of ample girth. That is, although I have only a single male friend and a single female friend here, they, too, are both quite so.

The king, my dear girl, is ruling quite well, i.e., quite royally. [5] That is the latest and most interesting news. And with that you can quite properly surprise all the politicians.

Your mostest*
Friedrich Athenaeus [6]

*That is a sample of my mystical terminology that, as Wilhelm believes, is the only thing I know and am able to do, and which your mother finds barbaric. [7]

You still owe me a report concerning your opinion of Nathan, and concerning my view as well. Does it agree with your own? [8]

The book-fair catalog of your reading material is probably being published by Göschen, considering how long it has been since I received such a list.


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:625–26 (letter no. 12); Waitz (1871), 1:362–63; reprinted in KFSA 23:93–94. Not in Otto Braun, “Friedrich Schlegel an Auguste Böhmer,” Das literarische Echo 19 (August 1917) despite ellipses in Erich Schmidt (1913). — Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1. Back.

[1] Though written somewhat teasingly, Auguste was indeed participating in the amateur theater in Jena (see Caroline to Luise Gotter on 11 February 1798) with note 4. Back.

[2] Friedrich speaks about this possibility with Caroline in his letter to her in mid-February 1798 (letter 195a). Back.

[3] Friedrich had presented a similar argument (and with similar wording) in his letter to Caroline on 12 December 1797 (letter 192c). Back.

[4] Concerning the visit of Luise and Cecile Gotter in Jena, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 11 February 1798 (letter 195) with note 2. Back.

[5] Friedrich Wilhelm III had reigned since his father’s death on 16 November 1797. Back.

[6] A play on the title of the periodical Athenaeum. Back.

[7] Wilhelm had quipped in his letter to Schleiermacher on 22 January 1798 (letter 194d): “Indeed, in the final analysis his [Friedrich’s] entire genius is limited to mystical terminology,” and Caroline had apparently used the term “barbaric.” Friedrich mentions as much in a letter to Wilhelm on 17 February 1798 (Walzel, 354; KFSA 24:90) in connection with keeping deadlines for articles to be included in Athenaeum: “Personal relationships have absolutely no bearing on the matter, and a harsh or, to use Caroline’s words, barbaric expression is, after all, not as bad as not having both issues appear at Easter.” Back.

[8] Concerning Friedrich’s essay on Lessing’s play Nathan der Weise: Ein dramatisches Gedicht in fünf Aufzügen (n.p. 1779), see his letter to Auguste on ca. 24 October 1797 (letter 188b), note 3. Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott