Letter 260b

260b. Friedrich August Eschen to Wilhelm Schlegel in Jena: Rümlingen bei Bern, 30 May 1800 [*]

Rümlingen bei Bern, 30 May 1800 [1]

I have long been wanting to send you news of my life and activities, esteemed friend, since I do hope that both you and your spouse still cordially recall me and since I so often and so fondly recall the happy hours I spent at your house as the recipient of your warm hospitality. — —

I am confident you will be willing to demonstrate that same cordiality in writing from which I once profited so considerably in person after reading aloud similar works to you and your spirited and intelligent wife. [2] — —

Jena will now be the place where I next set up my permanent residence for one or two years, and I am certainly looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with you and your esteemed spouse and with others whose memory is so dear to me, and to being able to assure you in person how I have continued to think of you even at this considerable distance. In closing, let me request that you also — — greet — — your Auguste. — — [3]


[*] Source: Waitz (1882), 74–75, with ellipses; another part of this same letter, namely, concerning Eschen’s translations of Horace’s odes (not included here), was published in August Eschen, “Briefe von Johann Heinrich Voss,” Archiv für Litteraturgeschichte 15 (1887), 361–79, here 379 (concerning Eschen’s translation work, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Caroline on 12 December 1797 [letter 192c], note 7).

Eschen perished just over two months later, on 7 August 1800, near Geneva (Chamonix Valley, Buet) in an accident involving the collapse of a snow bridge, and Wilhelm, in Bamberg after Auguste’s death on 12 July 1800, only received this letter after Eschen’s death (Friedrich announced its arrival in his letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 [letter 265j]).

Concerning Eschen’s death, see the supplementary appendix Friedrich August Eschen. Back.

[1] At the beginning of 1800, Eschen had acquired a position as private tutor at the estate of a certain Herr Frisching in Rümlingen near Bern, Switzerland (H. Keller, Reisecharte der Schweiz. Carte routière de la Suisse [1819]):



[2] Eschen attached a translation of Horace’s odes. Back.

[3] Perhaps an indication of Eschen’s romantic interest, however subtle, in Auguste (Almanach zur angenehmen Unterhaltung für das Jahr 1804; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


See also Henrik Steffens’s letter to Schelling on 8 or 20 August 1800 (letter 265l), with note 1.

In a footnote, Georg Waitz cites yet another Jena friend, “Fischer,” who writes similarly from Kammerswaldau on 20 May 1799 (Waitz is not entirely sure of the date): “We still reckon your and your spouse’s acquaintance among our most cherished from our stay in Jena; indeed, we have never stopped longing for your company. May we both be commended to you.”

In late July 1800, Eschen departed on what was to be a vacation journey with his new friend Thomas Ziemssen (1777–1843; from Greifswald) through the canton Freiburg toward Waadtland. The two friends lingered on 2 August 1800 in Vevey, then continued on.

On 7 August they climbed the Buet mountain with a guide. Eschen went ahead and then disappeared before the eyes of his terrified companions.

(Friedrich Steger, ed., Edward Whympher’s Berg- und Gletscherfahrten in den Alpen in den Jahren 1860 bis 1869 [Braunschweig 1872]):


A crevice in the glacier had been hidden by a weak layer of snow and ice, which broke under Eschen, who plunged to his death, getting caught in the narrow crevice and remaining suspended ([1] Friedrich Steger, ed., Edward Whympher’s Berg- und Gletscherfahrten in den Alpen in den Jahren 1860 bis 1869 [Braunschweig 1872], plate following p. 142; [2] the Lauteraar Glacier in the Canton Bern, in Gottlieb Sigmund Gruner, Reisen durch die merkwürdigsten Gegenden Helvetians, vol. 1 [London 1778], plate following p. 246):):



His body was not retrieved until the following day (Friedrich Steger, ed., Edward Whympher’s Berg- und Gletscherfahrten in den Alpen in den Jahren 1860 bis 1869 [Braunschweig 1872], plate following p. 334):


His friend Ziemssen brought the news to his family on 31 August 1800. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott