Letter 195d

195d. Wilhelm Schlegel to Goethe in Weimar: Jena, 19 February 1798 [*]

Jena, 19 February 1798

. . . By the way, I have remained so utterly silent since those pleasant hours I spent with you because from week to week I entertained the hope that I might finally see you here in our peaceful Jena, where I am not the only one excitedly yearning for your arrival. I am all the more interested in such because I will not be spending the summer in Jena in any case. I am planning first to make a brief excursion to Berlin after Easter, then to enjoy the pleasant summer season in Dresden. [1] I will, however, still have Jena as my permanent residence and will be returning here to my winter quarters in the autumn.

Otherwise I am doing quite well. My wife, who had considerable health problems at the beginning of the winter, is now completely recovered, and we are living quite contentedly in our small circle. Madame Gotter, who was quite in need of cheering up, spent several weeks with us here and has left her daughter to stay for an even longer period. [2] She has one of Gotter’s plays, Der schöne Geist, which, although brought to a certain conclusion, is nonetheless still not quite finished and which, with the help of my wife, who had heard the author himself read it aloud, she completely retrieved from among her husband’s confused manuscripts and is thinking about having performed by the Berlin theater. [3]

I am diligently at work on Shakespeare and on other things as well, and am hoping I will be able to show you something or other soon in which, given your kind interest in my work, you might find pleasure. Herr von Brinkmann, whose acquaintance I made today, has been kind enough to bring along this letter, and will relate my regards to you in person. [4] My wife sends her kindest regards.

Your devoted,


[*] Source: Körner-Wieneke 65–66. — Goethe’s diary does not mention any visit by Wilhelm during this period that might correspond to the “pleasant hours” mentioned in the first paragraph (representative illustration: Bergisches Taschenbuch für 1798 zur Belehrung und Unterhaltung 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[1] Easter fell on 8 April in 1798. — Caroline and Auguste would leave for Dresden on 9 May 1798 accompanied by Johann Diederich Gries; Wilhelm arrived in Berlin ca. 20 May and then in Dresden with Friedrich Schlegel on 30 June. Caroline and Auguste would arrive back in Jena in early October 1798 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



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

[3] Concerning Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s play, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in March 1797 (letter 181). Back.

[4] Karl Gustav von Brinckmann had been introduced to Goethe in Weimar on 31 January 1798, then visited him on 18, 20, and 22 February (according to Goethe’s diary, Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:199); in the interim, he also visited Schiller in Jena on 19 February (according to Schillers Calender. Nach dem im Jahre 1865 erschienenen Text, ed. Ernst Müller [Stuttgart 1893], 51). Goethe writes to Schiller on 21 February 1798 (Correspondence Between Goethe and Schiller 2:52–53):

Brinkmann was very pleased at having spent a few hours of friendly intercourse with you. His lively interest in so many different subjects really deserves a good reception; he dined with me yesterday, and I placed him between our two amiable authoresses [Caroline von Wolzogen and Amalie von Imhoff], where he evidently felt himself extremely happy. But, in reality, his character seems to me to be made for a large sphere like Berlin.

Caroline mentions in a letter to Luise Gotter on 21 February 1798 that Brinckmann had already left for Paris (letter 196), though it seems clear Brinckmann had returned to Weimar and visited Goethe one final time before departing. See also Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Caroline in mid-February 1798 (letter 195a) (Maurille-Antoine Moithey, L’Europe: Divisée en tous ses Royaumes et subdivisée en ses principales parties [Revue et Corrigée] [Paris 1785]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):



Translation © 2012 Doug Stott