Letter 206

• 206. Caroline to Luise Gotter in Gotha: Jena, 24 October 1798

Jena, 24 October [17]98

|466| I would rather make do with a shorter letter now than wait until the next postal day to send you greetings from here, my dear Louise. You can well imagine that I found much to do here upon my return, [1] and on top of that I also immediately had the Dutch guests in between; [2] entire days pass by without my having taken care of even half of what I wanted to do. So do not anticipate receiving any extensive news about the past six months, [3] though I do so ardently wish I could relate it all to you and Minchen in person. Should an opportunity present itself, I myself will travel over there for precisely that purpose. [3a]

I am extremely glad that the news of our dear Cecile’s health was such to put me at ease. You can demonstrate no greater love to me than to confirm her improvement. . . . It truly chagrins me to hear that |467| she came away with such gloomy memories of her stay in Jena. [4] It is difficult to imagine, having only been ill at a certain place, how things would be if one were healthy there. Cecile will have to erase these impressions some day during a beautiful summer here.

You now have us here on a fairly stable basis, and you are proving to be a rather peculiar soul insofar as instead of sending me cordial words about precisely that, you speak about our “principles.” First, I am unaware that Schlegel has ever vowed never to be “tied down” anywhere, though he has indeed said much in favor of independence and may well have preferred it, especially as a response to your being unable to imagine a proper husband who did not have a civil service job. Second, his independence will probably not be threatened by the professorship, since, in truth, he merely has permission to hold lecture courses if he so desires, which cannot prevent him from using his time differently or from being absent even for years at a time. [5] So calm yourself; we are still the same people. People go their own ways, and principles run alongside and simply have to develop as best they may. So do not rely on principles, and do not get upset when they fail to keep up; rely only and always on people whom you know, like us.

Schlegel is quite diligent. This will be a busy winter, and even we ourselves will have to restrict the kind social life we were yet able to experience so wonderfully this past summer.

As soon as a certain essay by Schlegel called “Die Gemälde” is published, I will make sure to send you a copy, since it is a monument to our stay in Dresden in which you will surely take an interest. [6]

. . . I found almost all my acquaintances absent when we returned. Madam Paulus is still in Swabia. Her husband has gone to pick her up. Schleusner’s life came to an end there. [7]

|468| Immediately after our arrival, the performance of the prologue to Wallenstein drew us over to Weimar. [8] The performance was excellent and was as noteworthy as the newly renovated theater was inviting and splendid. Will even that not be able to entice the Gotha residents to come for a visit? We can anticipate yet 2 other plays by Schiller on this stage this coming winter. [9] Have you received no news from Iffland? [10] Would you like for us to write him something? He is a bit troubled just now. Hamlet could not yet be performed, but will perhaps this coming spring. [11] In the meantime, he delivered 3 plays himself, though these need no new stage props or sets.

Stay well, my precious, dearest friend. I embrace your children and aunt. [12]


[1] Caroline, Wilhelm, and Auguste seemed to have arrived back in Jena from Dresden by way of Dessau on 2 or 3 October 1798 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[2] Uncertain reference. Back.

[3] Caroline and Auguste had traveled to Dresden back on 9 May 1798 with Johann Diederich Gries. Wilhelm arrived from Berlin with Friedrich Schlegel sometime after 20 May 1798. Back.

[3a] That is, to Gotha, ca. 65 km west of Jena (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[4] Luise and Cäcilie (Cecile) Gotter celebrated Christmas 1797 with the Schlegels in Jena, Luise returning to Gotha in early February, Cäcilie in April 1798. Caroline’s letters to Luise during that period speak of Cäcile’s illness (on 11 February, 21 February, February/March 1798 [letters 195, 196, 197]). Back.

[5] Wilhelm had acquired the privilege of teaching as an unsalaried Dozent, or private lecturer, at the university in Jena rather than as a salaried professor with stipulated teaching obligations. Back.

[6] “Die Gemählde. Ein Gespräch von W.,” in Athenaeum (1799) 39–151, a reflection of the Schlegels’ visit to the Dresden gallery during the past summer. As Wilhelm remarks later (Kritische Schriften 1:xvii–xviii; Sämmtliche Werke 7:xxxiv), “in ‘Die Gemählde,’ although the dialogue and the appended poems are my work, the descriptions are so only in part”; i.e., Caroline also contributed significantly to the piece. See in this regard “Caroline’s Literary Reviews Vol. 1” with note 10. Here the Dresden Gallery in 1830 (anonymous; the Sistine Madonna is at the rear bottom left; Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden; photo: Herbert Boswank):



[7] Karoline Paulus and her husband were both natives of Swabia. Schelling mentions the trip in his letter to his father on 20 September 1798 (letter 203b). — The young medical docent Gabriel Jonathan Schleusner had died barely two weeks earlier, on 8 October 1798, albeit not in Jena, but rather in Schorndorf, though it is not clear what he was doing there. Back.

[8] Wallensteins Lager and the trilogy’s prologue premiered in Weimar on 12 October 1798. See Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Schlegel on 14 October 1798 (letter 204), also concerning the renovations mentioned in the next sentence. Back.

[9] The second and third parts of the Wallenstein trilogy: Die Piccolomini premiered on 30 January 1799, Wallenstein’s Tod on 20 April 1799. Back.

[10] At issue is the disposition of Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter’s posthumous works. See Caroline’s letters to Luise Gotter on 2 May 1798 (letter 200); in late June/early July 1798 (letter 202); on 1 April 1799 (letter 233); and as late as 5 October 1799 (letter 246). See also supplementary appendix 181.1. Back.

[11] That is, Wilhelm’s translation; the play would not be performed until 15 October 1799. See Ella Horn’s essay on the background to the premiere of Hamlet in Berlin. Back.

[12] The aunt is unidentified. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott