Letter 258

• 258. Caroline to Johann Diederich Gries in Göttingen: Jena, 27 December 1799 [*]

Jena, 27 December [17]99

|587| It was with the best of intentions that my Christmas present to you would be to write to you, but since it came upon me so swiftly, I will now do it as a Christmas present for myself. [1] And since I also waited so inappropriately long with it, it is more than appropriate that I now no longer presume to entertain you with such a letter and instead consider myself quite happy if you will but read it without too much feeling of resentment.

I have done some soul searching and realized that it is not right to chat only with friends who are present, and in that regard Steffens has become the preacher of repentance. He has been here since the first day of celebration, keeping us company amid this recurring, bitterly cold weather. |588| We are not fools and will certainly not be taking as many sleigh rides as last year. I put a second, small sofa in front of the stove in the larger parlor, and frankly we would never leave it were our poor Tiek not suffering from rheumatism for 3 weeks now, prompting us to undertake a Völkerwanderung on many an evening. [2]

I find it quite splendid that our existence sometimes undergoes such sudden transformations. For example, our winter company here is quite different from what we had during the summer. It is like that which remains behind when wine freezes. (Who could come up with anything but metaphors with ice and fire just now?) We see almost no one except one another now; those who are mere acquaintances have pretty much separated themselves from our real friends. Since Schlegel’s break with the A.L.Z., we do not even see our closest neighbors anymore. [3]

I can imagine, dear Gries, that whenever you happen to hear something about us these days you cannot help simply throwing up your hands. All sorts of wondrous things have happened. It was by no means in vain that you could only shake your worried head about the last issue of Athenäum; [4] its effect was such that we hear new fairy tales concerning it with every new day; within northern Germany, it is perhaps only in Göttingen that one does not speak much about it. —

If I am to give you a report about our circumstances here, I must probably also mention this situation even though it would end up boring both you and me were I to speak too much at length about it all. Only let me provide a bit of enlightenment concerning the L.Z..

The break with the latter had been coming on gradually for a year now, and only a personal connection with the editors delayed it. [5] Eventually, however, the number of complaints (in connection with Schelling and others) had grown so large that I no longer dared ask Schlegel to consider exercising a measure of leniency. He had enough to do preserving his own dignity. |589| His declaration is literally based on the true disposition of the matter. The cowardly and deceptive response of the editors could not but cast sufficient light on that aspect if people would not allow themselves to be blinded by the seemingly moderate tone of a respectable journal, and were it not simply fashionable in the larger sense to detest the Schlegels. [6]

Schlegel announced his declaration to Hufeland in person, who then took steps in his own fashion to prevent it from being published. That is, he knew that more than two years ago Schlegel wrote a review with which he would not now like to be associated as the author because a while after publishing it he became personally acquainted with and even a friend of the person reviewed, and although his opinion of that person’s works has not changed, the connection with that person is nonetheless still of some value to him. [7]

Hufeland thus wrote to Schlegel — telling him that they, the editors, would in their own response mention all the reviews of which he was the author and that this would be the indispensable condition under which they would accept his own declaration.

Now, since Schlegel answered them very calmly, telling them they were certainly free to do this at their own risk, since other contributors would then see the extent to which one could rely on contracts with them — and that in any event he, Schlegel, had no reason to fear his reviews being mentioned and as a matter of fact could certainly have reserved that step for himself — they did not do this after all, though they did sprinkle several allusions into their response to the effect that some reason or other was prompting Schlegel to silence.

In the next issue of Athenäum, instead of carrying on this feud with the A.L.Z. any further, with which he has no desire to waste his time in any event, Schlegel intends to enumerate all his reviews himself. [8]

In a larger sense, even though Schlegel will not get involved in any more rejoinders, he will indeed continue to express his opinions and judgment quite openly. —

Among many other elements of gossip, one also hears that the duke has gotten involved in the affair and has allegedly just “prohibited” Schlegel from expressing precisely such open opinions and judgments. |590| But none of this is true. Even were the duke to allow himself to be incited in such a fashion, Goethe would probably advise him against taking any action.

Indeed, Goethe has ended up being extremely cordial throughout these events. He has been deeply involved in the entire matter, offering both advice and practical support, and concurs with Schlegel concerning everything involving the L.Z. Goethe was here for 4 weeks before Schiller left Jena and even stayed after Schiller’s departure, promising moreover to return. Schiller will be living in Weimar this winter, as you have perhaps already heard. [9] She recovered only very slowly from her childbed and had degenerated into a condition of utter insanity during which Schiller lived through a very sad time indeed. [10]

The most comical element in this whole affair is the review of Athenäum in the L.Z.. [11] Who could have dreamed of doing such a thing? It is from the pen of Huber, something you could doubtless have guessed from the style but probably not from simple considerations of probability. An attack of the old demangeaison [12] of Das heimliche Gericht came over Huber [13] — he has taken notice of absolutely nothing in literature for 6 years now — and now he gets hold of a copy of Athenäum, which quite astonishes him and whose audacity and paradox plunge him into a state of holy displeasure.

Commensurate with his character, he now believes himself called by God to curb this dreadful phenomenon. But then it occurs to him that he does have a certain relationship with Schlegel and that this attack might well take on an invidious appearance. Hence before the review itself was printed, a letter from him arrived here in which he magnanimously acknowledged his authorship, admonished the Schlegels to depart from their errant path, asked Schlegel to put his hand on his heart for the sake of the elderly Wieland [14] — while admitting, by the way, that although he lags far behind the Schlegels as far as scholarly expertise and other such common distinctions are concerned, it was precisely his own character and impartiality that prompted him to take this step.

|591| Schlegel just happened to be away on a journey when this encyclical arrived. He was picking up Auguste in Dessau. I opened it and, as his old acquaintance, straightaway also took the liberty of answering it, since it is certainly no secret that Herr Huber is in no way qualified to review Athenäum insofar as he has not the slightest understanding of the things with which Athenäum is concerned, such as philosophy, art, the study of antiquity, etc. [15] (For that reason alone, it was extraordinarily inappropriate for the editors to give it to him in the first place.) And, indeed, the review itself really does not even mention the content of the journal. —

After Schlegel arrived back home, he had a good laugh and immediately resolved simply to let Huber go just like the others. And, as always, since silliness must inevitably also simultaneously commit an act of wickedness, Huber then also published a review of the Der hyperboreische Esel in the L.Z. as revenge for my letter. [16] You will see for yourself how he went about it— and the review of Lucinde is yet to come. [17]

Although Schlegel had hitherto given him no response, he did allow himself the pleasure of such today, [18] and it is truly a shame that you yourself cannot come for a bit and derive some measure of enjoyment from it — as well as from an even more amusing project to be undertaken today, namely, a competition of three popular poets whose identity you can probably guess. [19]

I am enclosing something different here for you that I hope will make your hair stand on end. Merkel, incited by Böttiger, deliberately spread the rumor concerning the duke around Berlin, prompting Schlegel to issue him a formal dementi.

Then one unforgettable, happy evening Tiek and Wilhelm conjured up this betailed sonnet of ridicule, [20] had it daintily printed, and express posted it to Berlin, though not to Merkel himself. Chance played it much better — someone who did not even know Merkel came to a table d’hôte where Merkel was dining |592| and read the sonnet aloud, whereupon Merkel chose not to wait for the end of the meal to leave. [21] I hope you will consider it to be a masterpiece in this genre even though you may well otherwise find a bit too much audacity in it. [22]

In order to enjoy a dance, one must stand in the middle of the dance floor and allow oneself to be swept along by the brisk music. You should at least have observed how this sonnet was actually composed that evening — only during Homer’s time did the gods themselves laugh this heartily. [23]

Schlegel has composed several quite splendid poems in addition to that one, including a long one in stanzas, “Der Bund der Kirche mit den Künsten,” which delighted us all, and the old master as well, as a masterpiece. [24] Tiek wrote a tragedy, Genovefa, in which he overshadows everything he has written until now. [25] You can expect it at Easter. Schlegel is also promising to send you his collected poems around the same time, which Cotta is publishing. [26]

You were quite eager to learn something about the “superfluous Taschenbuch.” Well, what more is there to say except that it is indeed . . . superfluous? [27] — I also forgot about Schiller’s Allmanach fairly quickly. [28] One beautiful midday, his “Glocke” nearly had us rolling under the table with laughter. It could be the subject of a splendid parody. [29]

Auguste has been back here for 5 weeks now, and the Tischbeins are in Dresden. A great catastrophe befell Auguste recently that especially Steffens found amusing. To wit, she has become a young, well-behaved, and most charming Christian. She was hastily taught the requisite dogmas, the cleric examined her, confirmed her, and her lips touched the body of the Lord. Indeed she sends you her regards as a “fellow Christian.”

Although her voice must be greatly pampered, she has made considerable strides in music |593| and is also practicing now more than usual. Music is the only area in which we find we do miss the company of the lady next door. By the way, the suspension of that particular company is not our fault, that is to say, not my fault. Since Madam Hufeland never concerns herself with literary matters, I thought we could, as before, speak about fashion, balls, and family matters, and initially she, too, seemed to want it that way — until they suddenly decided otherwise and she got cramps when I paid her an unexpected visit one day, quite unsuspecting anything amiss.

There was nothing more for me to do, and I must also confess that not seeing her does relieve me of considerable wasted time now, and that I am especially pleased for Auguste’s sake, who not only wasted time over there but genuinely corrupted it. Steffens did not go over there at all. I still occasionally see the Loders and all the others.

Our exchange of Christmas presents was quite impressive — we all gave one another charming little gifts and charming little poems; [30] Steffens arrived just in time for it all. Since I know you will be most interested in Schelling’s poetry at this occasion, let me write out for you the stanza he wrote as an accompaniment to an elastic green sash for Auguste:

May this ribbon round the gracious body wind,
Flexibly, just as that which above it stirs;
Though many a heart, with anxious longing filled,
May secretly, quietly beat for you with hope,
One alone can make the color rise in your own tender cheeks,
One whom fate’s fickle wings carry far away from you;
Yet may the sweet bloom of hope never fade,
And may those who it merit heaven attain.

|594| (Because the “one far away” was supposed to be Steffens, it was a lovely surprise for us all when “fate’s fickle wings” did indeed bring him to us at just that moment.) [31]

Nor do I intend to withhold from you the lines of poetry on the wrapping paper around a pair of bracelets for me — after all, you would have read them had you been here.

Truly, golden apples in silver bowls,
As our dream of wisdom is wont to appear,
Is not that for which my own heart longs;
Far more easily could I yearn
For silver arms with golden bracelets.

So, there you have my properly historical letter. I had to take care of all this stuff first in order finally to get to a more sensible one.

One more thing — Jacobi behaved very ill indeed with the publication of his letter to Fichte — in the preface, he essentially invalidated everything in the letter that had validated Fichte, who is also extremely dissatisfied with it all and is working on an answer now. [32] He is here in Jena now but will soon be returning to Berlin with his wife. [33]

Everyone sends regards to you. Schlegel himself will write later. Schelling, too, has talked about writing you, indeed, talks about it as if he genuinely intends and will do so. Stay very well.

Caroline S. [34]


[*] Gries had returned to Göttingen to complete his law studies after having visited Jena earlier that autumn, though certain chronological questions still attach to that visit; see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 16 September 1799 (letter 244) with note 11 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


The following passage picks up where that note leaves off, carrying the narrative forward to March 1800, when Gries, one of Caroline’s most ardent admirers, would return to Jena yet again (Aus dem Leben J. D. Gries 37–39):

During the winter 1799–1800, Gries applied himself to his law studies with the utmost seriousness, working diligently, seeing [his friends] Sartorious and Ledebour only occasionally, and taking a private course on pandects from Professor Seidensticker after becoming better acquainted with him.

A cozy, comfortable apartment made these unaccustomed labors easier for him, as did the prospect of finally being able to attain his doctorate the following Easter [1800]. Around Christmas [1799], however, he began thinking how nice it would be to have his translation of Tasso published during the same time [Torquato Tasso, Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) (1580), trans. by Johann Diederich Gries as Befreites Jerusalem, 4 vols. (Jena 1800–1803)], indeed even before departing on his journey to [his hometown] Hamburg, which was to follow immediately on his doctoral promotion (W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 [1926]):


Hence he quickly began negotiations with Frommann in Jena, who had earlier shown an interest in the project and soon came to an understanding with Gries for what Gries himself considered an extremely generous honorarium of 3 louis d’or per printer’s sheet, of which each page was to contain only two stanzas. Gries countered by voluntarily offering the second and third volumes for an honorarium that Frommann himself could determine in case he had not covered his expenses with the first. — The grand success the enterprise later enjoyed likely satisfied both the author and the publisher.

[Here the frontispieces to the 2nd ed., Torquato Tasso’s Befreites Jerusalem, trans. Johann Diederich Gries, 2nd ed., 2 vols., Magazin der ausländischen klassischen Literatur 7 and 8 (Vienna 1815):]


Now, however, an equally grand effort had to be made not only to do justice to the muses, but at the same time not to lose sight of the pandects and their goal.

The initial draft of Tasso had already been finished before the end of the year when Gries resolved to work completely through all five cantos one more time, a difficult task he did indeed complete in not quite three-and-a-half months; unfortunately, jurisprudence admittedly suffered from this distraction, and even though he did regularly attend Seidensticker’s lectures, they were the sole interruptions in his poetical work, which he now otherwise pursued without interruption.

During the initial days of March [1800], however, he was briefly distracted from his Tasso by the appearance of his old friend Herbart, who, returning to Oldenburg from Switzerland, stopped by to visit Gries in Göttingen after having spent several days in Jena.

During Herbart’s two days in Göttingen, Gries did not leave his side; he [Gries] was overjoyed at the reunion, he found his friend completely unchanged in both his external appearance and his manner of being, and even his inner life appeared to have the same steadfastness and stability, the same masculine, searching spirit; he seemed to have gained in knowledge of the world and moved closer to practical life, whereas earlier he had lived almost solely for the world of speculation.

After their initial exchange of experiences since last seeing each other, their conversation turned in a completely poetic-philosophical direction prompted by Herbart’s idea of presenting philosophy poetically. Herbart’s own life circumstances were also discussed, and Gries could not but admire his friend, who had generously withstood severe struggles whose overcoming he could neither hope for nor indeed even want [Herbart’s parents had divorced]. —

After this visit, our poet [Gries] found it difficult to return to his work. And yet on 23 March [1800], it was successfully concluded. Now the printing was to commence; the problem that arose, however, was that of entrusting the manuscript to the postal service, as well as the wish to correct the proofs himself. All these considerations could be addressed only by Gries himself deciding to function as his own courier. Nor was this decision a difficult one; all his reservations were quickly overcome, and we again find him on his way to Jena, where he arrived on 28 March [1800]. Back.

[1] Girls in bourgeois families began learning to write at a young age and continued that instruction either through private tutors or, as did Caroline, in a boarding school (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Kind,” from the Göttingen Taschenkalender [1798]; Johann Gottfried Haid, La fille appliguée à écrire [1768]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JGHaid AB 2.9):



Chodowiecki did a series of vignettes in 1780 with the title Occupations des dames; one of those vignettes, “writing,” features a woman sitting at a writing table during the evening with a manservant standing across from her; the second illustration similarly features another figure behind the writing woman (Das Schreiben, Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.379; Sophia am Schreibtisch [1777], Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Uh 4° 47 [148]):


Not surprisingly, Chodowiecki did a similar illustration demonstrating the proper seating position while writing for men (Der Schreiber in einer guten Stellung, Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate lviii):


One might sooner imagine Caroline engaged in her voluminous correspondence as portrayed in the following engraving, that is, without a manservant (anonymous, Schreibende Frau an einem Tisch; inscription: Gesunde natürliche und anständige Stellung vor dem Schreibtisch [healthy, natural, and appropriate seating position at a writing table], [1751–1800], Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museumsnr./Signatur Graph. Res. A: 312):



[2] Völkerwanderung, “great migration, migration of the barbarians,” historically: into Europe, a movement that intensified from the fourth to the sixth century; for what is now Germany, such began when the West Goths crossed the Danube in 376 (illustration of a Germanic family during the migration from Johannes Bühler, Die Germanen in der Völkerwanderung: Nach zeitgenössischen Quellen [Leipzig 1922], plate following p. 30):


Caroline is presumably referring to the evening procession over to the Tiecks’ residence at the intersection of Grietgasse and Fischergasse; see Tieck’s letter to Sophie and August Ferdinand Bernhardi on 6 December 1799 (letter 257c), note 5. Back.

[3] Wilhelm had discussed his break with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung with co-editor Gottlieb Hufeland, who lived across the courtyard from the Schlegels at Leutragasse 5. Here a view of the Hufeland’s apartment (on the right) on an early twentienth-century postcard (courtesy Martin Reulecke):


Here, from essentially the same camera position, the entry to the apartments on the opposite (right) side of the courtyard along with the windows (left) to Caroline’s apartment (photo: Stadtmuseum Jena):



[4] Caroline spells it thus in this letter (and elsewhere) instead of Athenaeum, the latter being the orthography on the title page. Back.

[5] Wilhelm had been at odds with the editors of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung about (1) the absence of any review of Athenaeum in their journal (see his exchange with Gottlieb Hufeland in late April and early May 1799 [letters 235a, 236a], and Wilhelm’s letter to him in July 1799 [letter 242b]), and about (2) their (and the journal’s) increasingly adversarial attitude toward Athenaeum and the Jena Romantics generally, including Schelling (see Wilhelm’s exchange with Christian Gottfried Schütz on 20–21 October 1799 [letters 249b, 249c, 249d]).

These quarrels eventually led to Wilhelm’s withdrawal as a contributor to the A.L.Z. (see his exchange with Gottlieb Hufeland on 3–4 November 1799 [letters 252e, 252f] and his declaration in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 2 November 1799 [letter/document 255a]). See also Wilhelm Dilthey on the break between the Romantics and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (supplementary appendix 258a.1); and the supplementary appendix Garlieb Merkel on C. G. Schütz, the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, and Wilhelm Schlegel.

The personal connection of which Caroline speaks also includes Konradine Luise Hufeland, the sister-in-law of Caroline’s own sister Luise in Braunschweig. Back.

[6] The text of that response is included in letter/document 255a mentioned above. Back.

[7] Uncertain allusion, particularly in light of Wilhelm’s decision to publish his list of reviews in any case. Back.

[8] A list of Wilhelm’s (and Caroline’s) reviews was published in a supplement to Athenaeum 3 (1800) following page 164; see Wilhelm’s declaration in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 3 November 1799 (letter 255a), note 1. Back.

[9] Schiller and his family moved to Weimar on 3 December 1799, residing initially in a rented apartment on the third story at Windischengasse A 71 (today Windischenstrasse 8), owned by the wigmaker W. F. G. Müller and previously occupied by Charlotte von Kalb, who left some of her furniture for the family; the rent was 122 Thaler (illustration by Ludwig Bartning, in Wilhelm Bode, Stunden mit Goethe: Für die Freunde seiner Kunst und Weisheit [Berlin 1905], following p. 272; house at immediate right):


Because the house and apartment were rather “tumultuous,” as Schiller put it (Frau von Stein’s brother, a musician, lived on the second floor — a difficult climb for Schiller, who was often sickly — the Schiller family itself had three small children, and the street was noisy with “commerce”), and because Schiller had become increasingly interested in owning his own house, on 20 April 1802 they moved into the house on the Esplanade (a promenade at the time) now known as the Schiller House, a house he purchased from Joseph Charles Mellish on 19 March 1802 for 4200 Thaler, and facing the Graben, or former town moat, and beyond a wooded area — much more tranquil than the Windischengasse (illustration from Wilhelm Bode, Damals in Weimar, 3rd ed. [Weimar 1912], 78):


Here the location of Schiller’s residences in the Windischengasse and on the Esplanade (today: Schillerstrasse); Goethe’s house on the Frauenplan square; the market place; and the castle (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Weimar Stadtplan [1784]):



[10] Concerning Charlotte Schiller’s extremely difficult illness after the birth of her daughter, Karoline, on 11 October 1799, and her enduring delusional spells, see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 28 October 1799 (letter 252), note 16. Back.

[11] For the text of this review, see supplementary appendix 256.1. Back.

[12] Fr., “itching, longing.” Back.

[13] Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, Das heimliche Gericht. Ein Trauerspiel (The secret court. A tragedy) (Leipzig 1790; new ed. 1795), his best-known work, reminiscent of Goethe’s play Götz von Berlichingen mit der eisernen Hand. Ein Schauspiel (N.p. [Darmstadt] 1773); see Wilhelm Schlegel’s review of Huber’s piece in the Göttingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen (1790) 174, 1750–52 (repr. Sämmtliche Werke 10:39–40). Here two scenes from Goethe’s play (from Julius Risse, Göthe-Gallerie: Stahlstiche zu Göthe’s Meisterwerken nach Zeichnungen, no. 7 [Stuttgart 1840], plates v and vii):


Wilhelm’s review recounts the play’s story, which involves a secret society with one of whose precepts, namely, to expose concealed transgressions, one of its members comes into conflict because of yet another conflict involving a friend’s illicit love affair, then criticizes the disjunction between the play’s content and the spirit of the age Huber chose as setting (the secret courts of the fourteenth century) and the lack of distinction between the various roles (“He has blurred the individual features that normally characterize the way characters speak; the result is that the reader is constantly aware that it is in fact the playwright himself who is speaking”), but does praise Huber’s handling of the intrigue. Schlegel concludes:

This story would move us more were it not constantly so aware of the effort to portray the protagonists as lofty, noble people, for such greatness of character does not really sit naturally with them, being more like an official state robe that they take off after the performance. The portrayal of the only female character utterly fails and wholly lacks truth. —

One of the virtues of the play is the correct and florescent manner of expression in which both strength and delicacy are often excellently united. Here and there one does indeed recognize a specific model [i.e., Götz von Berlichingen]. Back.

[14] Huber had taken issue with Wilhelm’s critical treatment of Wieland; see Caroline’s letters to Huber on 22 and 22/27 November 1799 (letters 256, 257), in both of which she addresses this issue, as well as supplementary appendix 194c.2 (on the break with Wieland). Back.

[15] See Caroline’s letters to Huber on 22 and 24/27 November 1799 (letter 256, 257). Although Huber’s letter to her seems no longer to be extant, much of its content can be reconstructed from those two letters as well as the present one. Back.

[16] That is, for Caroline’s letter to Huber on 22 November 1799 (letter 256). See Wilhelm’s letter to Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a), in which he suggests that Huber review precisely this piece, then relates in the same letter to Huber that just such a review had just appeared in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1799) 415 (Saturday, 28 December 1799) 822–24, which means, of course, the review had long been written; for the text of that review and more on Kotzebue’s play, see supplementary appendix 250.1. Back.

[17] For the text of that review, see supplementary appendix 256.2. Back.

[18] Wilhelm’s letter to Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a). Back.

[19] The splendid parody “Wettgesang” (“competition”) between the poets Friedrich von Matthisson, Friedrich Wilhelm August Schmidt (known as Schmidt von Werneuchen), and Johann Heinrich Voss in Athenäum (1800) 161–64 (Sämmtliche Werke 2:194–99), which begins (approximate prose rendering):

Voss. Poesy like black soup
Will yet once be to your taste: God willing!
Matthisson. Proudly my Lied strides resplendent as a marble group ensemble,
And deceives from afar our gaze, as if it lives.
Schmidt. Red-clad like a boiled crab
Does the muse greet me in a filthy skirt.

Voss. A single swallow does not a summer make:
I prepare Lieder by the dozen.
Matthisson. The way morning air does de-embalm the meadow,
I color-wash onto paper with squeaky-clean diligence.
Schmidt. Those who know how to save enthusiasm
Never need all of it, or, indeed, even half etc.

Goethe was quite pleased with the poem; see Dorothea Veit to Rahel Levin on 10 April 1800 (letter 259d): “Papa Goethe was crazy with delight over it. [Wilhelm] Schlegel had to read it aloud to him three times de suite.” Back.

[20] “Betailed,” in this case an extra three lines at the conclusion of the sonnet; Caroline uses the German participial adjective geschwänzt, on which see Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch, s.v. schwänzen, 2.d., “mit einem Schwanz versehen,” “supply with a tail.” Back.

[21] Table d’hôte, Fr., a public meal served to guests at a stated hour and fixed price, here in a caricature amusingly appropriate to the present context (Moritz August von Thümmel, Journal of sentimental travels in the southern provinces of France: shortly before the Revolution, illustrations by T. Rowlandson [London 1821], illustration following p. 4):



[22] For the text of this sonnet and more on Merkel’s feud with the Schlegels, see supplementary appendix 252.1. Back.

[23] See Caroline’s account of this evening in her letter to Auguste on 28 October 1799 (letter 252); see also Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 4 November 1799 (letter 253). Back.

[24] Wilhelm’s lengthy “Der Bund der Kirche mit den Künsten” (“The alliance between the church and the arts”), stanzas distantly inspired by Goethe’s “Zueignung” (a poem of fourteen stanzas in ottava rime from 1784 positioned at the beginning of the edition of Goethe’s Schriften, vol. 1, new ed. [Leipzig 1801]) and, according to Erich Schmidt, (1913), 1:752, in substance, by way of a prédilection d’artiste, reminiscent of Chateaubriand; it appeared in Wilhelm’s Gedichte (Tübingen 1800), 143–56 (Sämmtliche Werke 1:87–96).

See Schleiermacher in Die Weihnachtsfeier. Ein Gespräch (Halle 1806), 44 (KGA I/5 59; Christmas Eve: A Dialogue on the Celebration of Christmas, trans. W. Hastie [Edinburgh 1890], 23):

I do not like the stiff Church which Schlegel has depicted for us somewhat stiffly in his stanzas; nor yet do I like the poor, begging, frozen arts being glad to find a place of refuge in it. If they are not to be eternally young, and to live richly and independently by themselves, forming their own world as the ancient mythology unquestionably formed its world, then I desire no part in them. In like manner religion, as we regard it, appears to me to be weak and questionable, if it wants to lean for support upon the arts. Back.

[25] Das Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva, published in volume 2 of Tieck’s Romantische Dichtungen, 2 vols. (Jena 1799–1800), 2:1–330; Tieck read parts of the play aloud on 14 November 1799; see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Schleiermacher on ca. 15 November 1799 (letter 255c). See esp. the review of the collection of illustrations by the Riepenhausen brothers (with cross reference to gallery). Back.

[26] August Wilhelm Schlegel, Gedichte (Tübingen 1800). Back.

[27] Johann Georg Jacobi (Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi did what he called the “superfluous” introduction), Ueberflüssiges Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1800 (Hamburg 1800). Here the frontispiece and title page:


The volume (Taschenbuch, pocketbook, a more modest format book, somewhat like a paperback today) was essentially a variation on the poetic almanacs of the time, though it also includes extensive items at the beginning such as listings of calendars, holy days, name days, lunar and solar eclipses, lunar cycles, and similar entries, and includes six landscape engravings of areas around Eutin and nearby Hamburg. For a gallery of these almanach illustrations, click on the image below:


[28] Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1800. Back.

[29] Concerning this incident, see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 21 October 1799 (letter 250); for the translated text of the poem, see supplementary appendix 250.2. Back.

[30] Friedrich Schlegel mentions in a letter to Schleiermacher on 6 January 1800 an additional poem of thirteen stanzas that Schelling had given Caroline for Christmas in 1799, a poem announcing a more extensive poem on nature. Concerning these stanzas, their background, and for a translation, see the supplementary appendix on Schelling’s Christmas stanzas for Caroline. Back.

[31] Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1818: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet (Frankfurt) (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Henrik Steffens himself acknowledges his romantic interest in Auguste in a letter to Schelling on 8 or 20 August 1800 after her death (letter 265l). This passage and his remarks in that letter are the only unequivocal documentation of such romantic interest in her. Unfortunately, nothing more is known of this relationship. Auguste was fifteen years old at the time of her death (Taschenkalender auf das Jahr 1798 für Damen; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[32] Concerning the publication of this letter, see Caroline’s letter to Gries on 9 June 1799 (letter 240) with note 3. Back.

[33] Fichte would be returning to Berlin with his family in March 1800 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[34] This letter is the last extant letter from Caroline’s hand between this date — 27 December 1799 — and 8/9 June 1800, when — significantly enough — Caroline and Auguste write to Schelling from Bamberg (letter 262), a letter in which Auguste composes approximately the first half, Caroline the second.

The next letter from Caroline’s hand after the one on 8/9 June is that to Luise Gotter from Bamberg on 18 September 1800 (letter 268), after Auguste’s death and in anticipation of passing through Gotha on her way to Braunschweig (she did not return to Jena until late April 1801).

This lack of letters from her hand presumably derives from the crisis, in part with physical manifestations such as nervous fever, she underwent during the winter and spring of 1800. Letters and documents from others, however, many of which Erich Schmidt mentions but does not include as such (whence also the extensive use of letters in letter numbers, e.g., 259r, 259s, 259t, etc.), function to tell her — and the Romantics’ — story during this crucial period, a story of crises and change, but also of heartbreak. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott