Letter 265c

265c. Goethe to Wilhelm Schlegel in Jena: Weimar, 12 July 1800 [*]

Weimar, 12 July 1800

. . . I would be glad to see your brother at my house next Wednesday; I will arrange things so that we can speak without being disturbed. I would, however, request that you send word either through the messenger women on Wednesday itself or through the postal service the day before. [1]

As regards the issue at hand, [2] I will relate my further thoughts on it to you in person, since I am finally anticipating being able, for a longer or shorter period, to see you in Jena. [3]

The plays you requested were taken along to Lauchstädt with the rest of the theater library. [4] . . .


[*] Source: Körner-Wieneke 110. This letter is a response to Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 11 July 1800 (letter 265b). Back.

[1] Both Friedrich and Wilhelm visited Goethe in Weimar that following Wednesday, 16 July 1800 (Körner-Wieneke 236), though Goethe’s diary does not note such (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:301–2); Wilhelm responded from Jena on 13 July 1800 (Körner-Wieneke 110–11):

My brother will be pleased to make use of your kind permission to visit you on Wednesday. I, too, am unable to resist the urge to accompany him, and we are hoping to find you in good health.

(Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration of Goethe’s house in Weimar from an early postcard: “Vor dem Goethehaus zu Weimars klassischer Zeit”):




[2] Wilhelm’s quarrel with Christian Gottfried Schütz and Gottlieb Hufeland.

Concerning the “missive” Wilhelm had submitted to the Academic Senate in Jena at Goethe’s behest, see Wilhelm’s letters to Goethe on 30 May 1800 and 6 June 1800 (letters 260c, 261a), Goethe’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 June 1800 (letter 262a; text of missive in note 1), and Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 13 June 1800 (letter 262b), esp. with note 2.

Concerning the quarrel’s earlier history, see Hufeland’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 November 1799 (letter 252e), Wilhelm’s response on 3 or 4 November 1799 (letter 252f), and Wilhelm’s declaration in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 13 November 1799 and the editorial response (letter/document 255a).

The bad blood between the two groups (Athenaeum and the editors of the A.L.Z.) extended back into the summer of 1799 and similarly prompted an exchange between Wilhelm and Christian Gottfried Schütz on 20–21 October 1799 (letters 249b, 249c, 249d).

Goethe, however, seems to have advised moderation in the matter, and Wilhelm in his own turn seems to have dropped it despite it allegedly being a “point of honor” (see his letter to Goethe on 11 July 1800 [letter 265b]). Indeed — as already mentioned in letter 262b, note 2 cited above — it is difficult to imagine that, years later, Wilhelm could no longer even recall the issues that occasioned this tedious dispute whose consequences prompted changes not only in the lives of the Romantics, but in the journalistic landscape of Jena itself (see Körner-Wieneke 235). Back.

[3] Goethe departed Weimar for Jena on 22 July 1800, where he saw Friedrich Schlegel on 25, 28, 30, 31 July. Wilhelm had in the meantime left for Bamberg on 21 July.

Although Goethe returned to Weimar on 4 August 1800, he was back in Jena on 3–6 September. There he met (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:302–9):

with Friedrich on 5 September and on 10 September–4 October;
with Friedrich and Johann Wilhelm Ritter on 20 and 30 September;
with Friedrich on 25 September;
with Ritter on 1, 2, 3 October to discuss galvanism, among other things; and finally
with Friedrich again the evening of 3 October.

That is, Friedrich seems to have taken full advantage of Goethe’s presence in Jena during the absence of Wilhelm and especially Schelling (illustration: Calendar für das Jahr 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


By contrast, Schelling did not return to Jena until 3 October 1800, though Goethe notes having spent virtually the entire day of 17 September 1800 studying Schelling’s philosophy of nature by way of the second issue of latter’s Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik and then writing to Schelling in Bamberg on 27 September 1800 (in response to Schelling’s letter to Goethe on 8 August 1800 [letter 265k]; see the notes to that letter for the text of Goethe’s letter).

Caroline did not not return to Jena until 23 April 1801, and Wilhelm not until over a year later, on 11 August 1801. Back.

[4] Wilhelm had requested pieces by August von Kotzebue; see his letter to Goethe on 11 July 1800 (letter 265b), note 2.

Beginning in 1791, the Weimar theater ensemble regularly gave guest performances during the summer in Lauchstädt, ca. 65 km northeast of Weimar (Ludwig Ravenstein, Atlas des Deutschen Reichs [Leipzig 1883], no. 5):


Caroline and Schelling attend performances there during the summer of 1802 at the opening of the new theater edifice, the older theater having become inadequate (see supplementary appendix 366.1). Of the two plays by Kotzebue requested by Wilhelm, only Bayard was performed that summer — on 11 August 1800 — in Lauchstädt (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 37). Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott