Letter 243d

243d. Wilhelm Schlegel to Goethe in Weimar: Jena, 1 September 1799 [*]

Jena, 1 September 1799

Please allow me to commend to your acquaintance in these brief lines a charming lady who is traveling through here from Dresden and will be spending a few days in Weimar, Frau von Nuis. [1] She would count herself quite fortunate if she might see you but for a short moment, and if you could fulfill this wish in a fashion least disruptive to you — perhaps during a walk in the park, if you are still living in your garden house [2] — I would be infinitely obliged to you.

We have longingly but futilely anticipated your arrival here. Surely the summer will not pass by completely without you finding your way to Jena. [3] I have composed all sorts of small poetic pieces that I would like to relate to you.

Please be so kind as to pass on my regards to Herr Professor Meyer.

Your devoted,

. . . Since Frau von Nuis says she will perhaps yet be coming through Jena again, it occurs to me that I might give her my most recent poetic pieces to take along to you. Perhaps I could then hear from her what you think of them, something I am quite eager to know. [4] You will find that I have tried to construct the sonnets wholly in the Italian fashion — with the intention thereby to lend them more grandeur, since in Germany poets have otherwise focused more on the softer, more charming elements. [5] . . .


[*] Source: Körner-Wieneke 87. Back.

[1] Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch (Augsburg 1795):


Wilhelm had made Minna van Nuys’s acquaintance the evening of Friday, 30 August 1799 (see his letter to her on 13 September 1799 [letter 243e]); he is writing here on the following Sunday (Göttinger Taschen Calender Für das Iahr 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning his (and Caroline’s) relationship with her, see Josef Körner, “Carolinens Rivalin,” Preussische Jahrbücher 198 (1924), 27–52, translated here as the supplementary appendix Minna van Nuys. Back.

[2] Goethe spent August and part of September in his garden house in Weimar; see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 19 July 1799 (letter 242a), note 2; here illustrations of Goethe’s garden house in 1777 with the surrounding park by Georg Melchior Kraus, and by Rudolf Ridel, in Wilhelm Bode, Damals in Weimar (Jena 1912), 56:




[3] Goethe was in Jena 16 September–13 October 1799 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:259–65), where he met numerous times with Wilhelm to discuss metrical revisions to the poems he was preparing for publication (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration: Bergisches Taschenbuch für 1798 zur Belehrung und Unterhaltung; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




[4] Wilhelm himself was preparing for the publication of a collection of his poems with Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen. See Ludwig Ferdinand Huber’s letter to Wilhelm on 17 August 1799 (letter 243c), esp. with note 2. He does not seem to have sent any poems along for Goethe to see until 6 October 1799, when according to Goethe’s diary (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:263–64) he brought over some of his “older poem” and “new sonnets.” Back.

[5] Goethe’s diaries for September 1799 make no mention of Minna van Nuys. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott