Letter 200a

• 200a. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Jena: Berlin, 5 May 1798 [*]

Berlin, 5 May 1798

|628| Last Monday, on your birthday, [1] I already had my quill in hand ready to write to you, dearest Auguste, but I felt so unwell that I simply could not manage it. I had river fever for several days, as I did during the previous week as well. [2] But now I am well again and wish I were expecting you here soon as well.

In the meantime, however, we will surely see each other this summer even if you do not see Berlin, though I certainly wish you could. My lady friend sends profuse greetings, as does Schleiermacher, who is very sorry you will not be coming, since he, in addition to being an ardent friend of man, is also a very great friend of girls.

I am very pleased to hear that your love of Greek is so steadfast. If that continues to be the case, it will not hurt much even if Wilhelm is unable to give you lessons for a while. Would it not be possible for you to arrange your translations from Herodotus to me such that you might also learn something from them? [3] — Write them down on a sheet folded in the middle, but fairly legibly, if I may so request, and then you can absolutely depend on me always to send them back to you with comments in the margins. In that way, I can in a certain sense continue to give you instruction in this beautiful language even at a distance. You do, however, need to strive to make fewer mistakes rather than merely send a lot; and above all begin soon.

How I would like to send you another flower garland for the |629| violets I am so carefully keeping. [4] But in order to pick them myself, I would have to go quite far, for here there is nothing but sand everywhere.

Write me again soon and do not forget me.

Your friend Fr. Schlegel


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:628–29 (letter no. 15); Waitz (1871), 1:363–64; reprinted in KFSA 24:127. Supplementary material at the end of paragraph three from Otto Braun, “Friedrich Schlegel an Auguste Böhmer,” Das literarische Echo 19 (August 1917), 1377. — Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1. Back.

[1] Friedrich is writing on Saturday, 5 May 1798, Auguste’s thirteenth birthday was on Monday, 30 April 1798. Auguste has just returned from Weimar with Caroline and Wilhelm Schlegel. Back.

[2] (N.) Schwerdtgeburt, Moritz Müller, Ein Kranker auf seinem Lager (1814) (Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 1831):


Concerning “river fever,” see Adelung 2:233: “A remittent (intermitting) fever accompanied by discharges of the chest; febris catarrhalis“; variously also known as fièvre de rhume, rheumatic fever. See the supplementary appendix on catarrhal fever. Back.

[3] Friedrich mentions the possibility of Auguste reading and translating the work of Herodotus in his letters to her on 26 August, (undated) mid-September, and (undated) mid-November 1797 (letters 184d, 185a, 191b). Back.

[4] The flower garland was a popular literary motif at the time (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, [1] Welch ein Geschenk [ca. 1800]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [7-526]; [2] Es war mir wert darum hob ich ihn auf [1800]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.1028; violet illustrations: [1] Outgert Cluyt et al., Veilchen [1615]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur 6.11 Phys 2° [70]; [2]: Johanna Helena Herold, Märzveilchen und wilde Veilchen [1698]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Z 6493):




After Auguste’s death in July 1800, Friedrich composed a poem eulogizing her, “Der welke Kranz” (The withered garland), which alludes to these violets; Erich Schmidt included it “in all its artificiality because it appears quite often in Caroline’s later letters contra Friedrich” ([1913], 1:763).

To wit, this particular poem eventually generated considerable ill feeling between Friedrich and Caroline and as a result also between the Friedrich and Wilhelm; although several letters are involved, see esp. Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325). Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott