Letter 212a

• 212a. Friedrich Schlegel to Auguste Böhmer in Jena: Berlin, December 1798 [*]

[December 1798]

|639| Please do not die, dearest Auguste, at least not out of sadness or sorrow, for my heart has softened and I will be giving you Henriette for Christmas. [1] Your letter must have worked miracles! But you will be hearing it yourself, for she is writing you even now. But now keep your promise and write me for the third time.

Much luck with your new sisterhood; how are things with Greek? [2]

Your Friedrich

Are you reading more now in Goethe or in Shakespeare? [3]

P.S. Let me also tell you a story that is quite fashionable here just now. — Once upon a time there was a farmer, and the farmer had an owl, and the farmer sat in one corner and the owl sat in the other corner. Then the |640| farmer looked at the owl and the owl looked at the farmer. All of a sudden a mouse came along, and if the mouse’s tail had been longer, the story would also have been longer.


[*] Source: Schmidt (1913), 1:639–40 (letter no. 25); Waitz (1871), 1:370–71; reprinted in KFSA 24:214. — Concerning the textual history of Friedrich Schlegel’s letters to Auguste Böhmer, see supplementary appendix 181d.1. Back.

[1] It is unclear when Henriette Mendelssohn arrived in Jena for her visit with the Schlegels, but it seems to have been well into the spring of 1799 rather than at Christmas 1798; in any event, she is attested as being there in mid-April 1799. Concerning her journey to Vienna and decision to try out her independence, see Friedrich’s letters to Caroline in mid-December (letter 211) and to Wilhelm Schlegel and Caroline on 15 December (letter 212); also earlier Caroline’s letter to Friedrich 14–15 October 1798 (letter 204) with note 30. Back.

[2] Friedrich has spoken in earlier letters as well about Auguste’s instruction in Greek. See, e.g., his letters to her on 28 April 1797 (letter 181d), in mid- and late September 1797 (185a, 185b), and ca. 25 October 1797 (letter 188b); he even concludes one letter (prior to mid-November 1797 [letter 191a]) with “Be merry and learn Greek.” Back.

[3] It may be recalled that Wilhelm Schlegel and Caroline were working on translations of Shakespeare’s plays at this time. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott