Letter 247b

247b. Dorothea Veit to Sophie Bernhardi in Berlin: Jena, 7 October 1799 [*]

[Jena, Monday] 7 October 1799

Although things are not going quite as well as you wanted, dear Bernardi, [1] neither are they going as badly as you feared. [2] You can likely take care of the modest changes or corrections Becker is demanding in no time at all. Then simply send the manuscript back by return mail, and everything will be taken care of quickly and properly.

Both Friedrich and Caroline are being quite conscientious about it, that much you can see from the fact that they immediately offered it to Becker; and both are intent on having it succeed according to your wishes. You are to have the money as soon as Becker sends it. I do not think you will be dissatisfied with the conditions. Although it was admittedly to be more than 17 printer’s sheets according to your initial plan, you will doubtless be able to arrange it such that this presents no hindrances. If possible, send the whole thing all at once, or at least as much as you have copied out; the more you send, the more advantageous will it be for the business end of it, since Becker does want it.

Actually I am writing all this in Friedrich’s name, who sends his warm regards to both you and Bernardi. He is well, is musing on all sorts of things, and completing some, which is why I have offered to write you in his name. And since I am not the messenger of bad tidings, I am doubly glad to write to you.

I arrived here yesterday morning. My first impression of everyone and everything that greeted me was wonderful — just wonderful. That much I can tell you, my dear friend. Until now, Caroline has seemed quite charming toward me, Wilhelm quite cordial, and Friedrich healthy — and in a better mood than recently in Berlin. I was received with enormous cordiality by everyone, am living quite comfortably and pleasantly — in a word, everything seems to point to an extremely entertaining winter ahead.

Usually everyone keeps to their rooms to work, and then when we all come together, everyone is cordial and in good spirits. Dante is read each evening, with Friedrich instructing both Caroline and Schelling; indeed, I am thinking that I, too, would like to participate. [3]

Everyone is anxiously awaiting Tieck, for Goethe is here now but will be staying only two more weeks; [4] Wilhelm S. believes that Tieck must absolutely see Goethe in Jena, since he is allegedly quite different here than in Weimar. W. Schlegel is also particularly counting on him with respect to various poetic projects. Everyone is also quite curious about Malchen, for Hardenberg announced here that she was the most charming and attractive woman he had ever seen!! [5]

Although I traveled here by way of Weissenfels and spent several hours there, I did not even make Hardenberg’s acquaintance; that is how proudly I am conducting myself these days! You should see, my dear, I am putting on quite the airs! I do, however, still hope to see Goethe before he departs; if only the weather would cooperate such that one might take walks, a chance meeting would probably be quite likely. [6]

As far as Malchen’s jealousy is concerned, I do think you can relax a bit, since it seems to me that Caroline is mightily occupied with Schelling, and there is absolutely no chance she will have time for any other undertaking. [7] I will relate everything to you with utter honesty, but under the inviolable seal of eternal secrecy. I do not even pass such remarks on to Friedrich, [8] and frankly I would prefer it if you would immediately burn those of my letters that contain anything about the people here; otherwise unfortunate things might someday happen with them.

Today, however, I cannot write you anything more, otherwise I will miss the post. But you yourself must come to Jena sometime; the area between here and Leipzig is so beautiful and so romantic that you really must see it; a new life would emerge for you in all these valleys and cliffs and amid all the grand scenery, which almost frightened me in its beauty. [9] — For a Berliner it is a grand event indeed to see such a beautiful landscape!

Stay well for today, my dear! Write me lots about yourself, about how you are doing, and how things stand with your health.

D[orothea] V[eit]
And please extend my cordial regards to Bernardi.


[*] Sources: Wieneke, (1914), 297–300 (incomplete); KFSA 25:8–10.

Concerning Dorothea’s route from Berlin to Jena, see see the editorial note to Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Auguste on 7 October 1799.

Dorothea notably recounts in this letter that she spent time in Weissenfels (albeit without meeting Friedrich von Hardenberg) before continuing on to Jena after passing through Leipzig, and also extols the romantic landscape between Leipzig and Jena (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Dorothea’s orthography is sometimes incorrect even given the lack of standardization at the time, and she also distinguishes inconsistently between the dative and accusative cases in German. Back.

[2] The reference is to the sale of the manuscript of Sophie Bernhardi’s novel Julie Saint Albain (Dresden 1801), in which regard Caroline had already written to Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker (letter 244a); see esp. the editorial note to that letter. Back.

[3] References to these Dante study sessions and similar evening readings at Leutragasse 5 recur both earlier and later in this correspondence.

Although the following, well-known, indeed famous illustration by Georg Melchior Kraus of a communal evening with friends and acquaintances engaged in various activities portrays a scene from the Weimar court life of Anna Amalia ca. 1795 (Goethe is third from left, Anna Amalia at center, Herder at far right), a social sphere to which Caroline and Wilhelm seem never to have enjoyed even brief access, presumably, or not least, because of Caroline’s previous reputation — the illustration nonetheless doubtless resembles the sort of gathering to which Caroline and her correspondents, including Dorothea in this present letter, frequently refer (repr. in black and white in Goethe und sein Kreis, ed. Franz Neubert [Leipzig 1919], 125; also Gustav Könnecke, Bilderatlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Nationallitteratur, 2nd ed. [Marburg 1895], 290):



[4] Ludwig Tieck arrived with his wife, Amalie (Malchen), and daughter, Dorothea, on 17 October 1799. Goethe was in Jena between 16 September and 14 October 1799 (according to his diaries, Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:259, 265). Back.

[5] Although the Tiecks had spent time with Friedrich von Hardenberg in Weissenfels on their way to Jena, Hardenberg had already met Amalie Tieck in Giebichenstein, where the Tiecks were spending part of the summer 1799; Hardenberg made Ludwig Tieck’s acquaintance in Jena during July (see supplementary appendix 242a.2), then accompanied him back to Giebichenstein. Hardenberg had then been in Jena on 28–29 September, when he also related these enthusiastic sentiments to Caroline; see Caroline’s jealous reaction in her letter to Auguste on 30 September 1799 (letter 245). Back.

[6] Dorothea’s wish would be fulfilled, albeit a bit later; see her letter to Schleiermacher on 15 November 1799 (letter 255b). Back.

[7] I.e., Amalie Tieck was apparently jealous of Caroline’s possible interest in Ludwig Tieck. Otherwise Dorothea’s remarks here seem to be the first extant documentation of an incipient romantic relationship between Caroline and Schelling (Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer von Bildung auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[8] Friedrich writes to Schleiermacher a few days later, on 10 October 1799 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:126; KFSA 25:11): “Personally I can get on quite well with Schelling; in fact, I have even had an attack of wanting to love him.” Back.

[9] Dorothea repeats these impressions in her letter to Schleiermacher on 11 October 1799 (letter 247c); see note 15 there with a cross reference to Caroline’s similar initial reaction to the landscape around Jena.

Here a representative example of the beauty of the area surrounding Jena with its “valleys and cliffs and amid all the grand scenery,” in this case the popular “saw mill” (Schneidemühle), also known as a rural entertainment locale located in the southeastern part of Jena that began on the other side of the Saale River (ca. 1780 by Christian Gotthilf Immanuel Oehme; Dresden, Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek [SLUB], Kartensammlung, Signatur/Inventar-Nr.: SLUB/KS B2446):



Translation © 2013 Doug Stott