Letter 202h

• 202h. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Dresden: Berlin, early September 1798 [*]

[early September 1798]

|633| To you, dearest Auguste, I will relate only the story of my journey, since I will be writing your mother about everything else going on here. [1]

I traveled the first stretch alone with the diminutive Rahel and her maidservant, since Madam Peter was accompanied by a good friend, a certain gentleman from among those who always say “I do b’lieve.” [2] He had a considerable quantity of cold, watery punch with him and a white nightcap on his head. He looked quite tolerable with all this adornment, especially when he took his leave. Madam Peter, however, was not particularly saddened by this and engaged in absolutely nothing but eating and sleeping.

I cannot say which of the two she did more often or which made her look better, for while doing both she always gazed out at us in a very amiable fashion with her big blue eyes. In the meantime, Mademoiselle Levi and I spoke quite a bit about understanding, about fashion, about the raison one conjures for oneself, [3] about contenance and canailleries. [4] I will refrain from writing down all the rest so as not to strain your memory excessively with such a heap of French words.

I spoke with Mademoiselle Levi and ate and slept along with Madam Peter — and philosophized with myself. Perfectly divided between the two of them, I sat there and reflected a great deal. On Berlin and on Dresden, on my friends here, and on all of you there.

Please do write me very soon and tell me what all of you are doing, and especially what you yourself are doing. Regards also to little Udli, the dear.

I am looking forward to your box of books. The picture arrived here in good shape.

Please give my regards to Wilhelm, Charlotte, Ernst, and all my acquaintances.

|634| Also send me the menu of your reading material, your antiquarian and artistic impressions regarding Moriz and the other antiquities and paintings or from the Greek. [5]

Above all else, however, please do not forget me. Whenever your ears burn, remember that we are talking about you here. Henriette also asks quite often about you and sends her regards to the poet with the freedom cap.

Regards and a kiss.


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:633–34; (letter no. 20); Waitz (1871), 1:366–67; reprinted in KFSA 24:169–70. — Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1. Back.

[1] Friedrich had arrived back in Berlin on 31 August 1798; see his and Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 4 September 1798 (“Briefe von Dorothea Schlegel an Friedrich Schleiermacher,” Mitteilungen aus dem Litteraturarchiv in Berlin N.S. 7 [1913] 1; KFSA 24:170) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[2] Anonymous, Departing Postal Coach (ca. 1830):


Rahel Levin had similarly been in Dresden during the summer; see Friedrich’s letter to Henriette Herz from Dresden on 24 August 1798 (letter 202g) concerning her excursion to Saxon Switzerland with Caroline and Wilhelm Schlegel. — Madam Peter and her friend are otherwise unidentified. Back.

[3] In the sense of rationalizations. Back.

[4] Fr. contenance, here in the sense of “air, bearing, countenance”; Fr. canailleries in the sense of “conniving, coarse scheming.” Back.

[5] It is uncertain which work or works by Karl Philipp Moritz are meant, though he did publish several works on aesthetic theory (see his biogram); Caroline and Wilhelm may have been reading his Über die bildende Nachahmung des Schönen (Braunschweig 1788) in connection with their visits to the Dresden Antiquities Collection. Friedrich’s references to “paintings” allude to the group’s visits to the Dresden gallery; see also Caroline’s undated letter to Lotte Michaelis from Clausthal presumably during 1786 [letter 72]). Back.

Translation © 2012 Doug Stott