Letter 265h

265h. Friedrich von Hardenberg to Friedrich Schlegel in Jena: Weissenfels, 28 July 1800 [*]

Weissenfels, 28 July 1800

You have related some very sad news to me indeed. [1]

I feel most sorry for Wilhelm. Does her death have any connection with Caroline’s story? What you wrote about that was not entirely clear. Auguste was a dear, beautiful girl. Her fair complexion and slender figure probably presaged her early demise. She would have become very attractive. Heaven has now taken her in, since her mother abandoned her and her father surrendered her over. [2] It was on the very threshold of the world that she had to turn around. She escaped a sad fate, hence let us wish her well and be glad she was yet able to take along with her a pure, youthful recollection of this world.

May the peace of her soul come upon Wilhelm. For her mother, it is a serious warning. One cannot keep such a child as easily as one does a lover. But now she is completely free, completely isolated. I doubt she will take it the way it should be taken. Vanity is an immortal child. [3]

As much as I would like to, I cannot come visit you just now. In a few days I must travel to the area around Magdeburg, and then directly to Dresden. [4]

My regards to Madam Veit.

Your friend,
Friedrich vHbg.


[*] Sources: Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, ed. J. M. Raich (Mainz 1880), 140–41; Friedrich Schlegel und Novalis. Biographie einer Romantikerfreundschaft in ihren Briefen. Auf Grund neuer Briefe Schlegels, ed. Max Preitz (Darmstadt 1957), 161; Novalis Schriften 4:333–34; KFSA 25:148. Back.

[1] The reference, of course, is to Auguste’s death on 12 July 1800 (Friedrich’s letter to Hardenberg announcing this news has not been preserved). In his edition of this letter, J. M. Raich remarks (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, 140fn1):

[This statement] [r]efers to the death of Auguste Böhmer in Bocklet, Caroline Schlegel’s fifteen-year-old daughter from her first marriage, a victim of botched medical intrusions into her treatment by Schelling, whose spouse she was to become. Back.

[2] The reference is not to Franz Wilhelm Böhmer, Auguste’s biological father (who died in 1788), but to Wilhelm Schlegel, who — so Hardenberg’s presumed reasoning — knew about Caroline’s relationship with Schelling but allegedly did nothing to thwart it. Back.

[3] J. M. Raich again comments (Novalis Briefwechsel mit Friedrich und August Wilhelm, Charlotte und Caroline Schlegel, 141fn1):

As is well known, Caroline was pressing for a dissolution of her marriage as early as 1803 [correct: 1802], and hardly a month later [viz. after her divorce was granted from Wilhelm in May 1803; they had been petitioning for a divorce since the spring of 1802] entered into a new one with her “friend” Schelling. Back.

[4] Hardenberg had been named a local circuit inspector of the Thuringian saltworks administration on (coincidentally) 12 July 1800; his reference is to business travel (KFSA 25:487fn4) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



Translation © 2014 Doug Stott