Letter 267a

267a. Schleiermacher to Wilhelm Schlegel in Bamberg: Berlin, 29 August 1800 [*]

Berlin, 29 August 1800

. . . I will say no more about my sympathy for your loss. I do know as much about your dear Auguste as was possible without having made her personal acquaintance, and if you have by chance heard about how preeminently interested I am in young girls, you can imagine how I felt on receiving the news.

I will carry out your request as soon as possible; [1] although Schadow is now living out in the country, I will assuredly not wait until he moves back to town, and will instead pay him a visit next week and then let you know as soon as possible what I find out.

I am hoping to hear from Jena whether my next letter might still reach you in Bamberg. Along with your letter, I at the same time received one from Dorothea, [2] albeit without even a single line from Friedrich, who probably had his hands full with his upcoming doctoral promotion. [3] I am wondering whether this occasion might not prompt some sort of attack or other. [4]

I hope you can return to your deviltry soon, whose object certainly has all the potential for becoming something extraordinarily entertaining. I leaped to my feet when I read the name Kotzebue; [5] on the other hand, you know how you always excite my expectations after only half satisfying the previous ones! . . .

Stay well; give my regards to your wife, whose health, as I unfortunately hear, has still not been completely reestablished, which after such a sad event can hardly be otherwise; and greet Schelling as well . . .


[*] Sources: Josefa Elstner and Erich Klingner, “Briefe Friedrich Schleiermachers an August Wilhelm Schlegel,” ed. Josefa Elstner and Erich Klingner, Euphorion 21 (1914), 584–98, 736–73, here 752–57; Schleiermacher als Mensch. Sein Werden. Familien- und Freundesbriefe 1783 bis 1804, ed. Heinrich Meisner (Gotha 1922), 183–87; KGA V/4 231–38.

A long letter of which only an excerpt is presented here. Schleiermacher spends considerable space in the letter speaking about the ill-fated journal that the Jena circle, albeit not entirely in concert, was trying to establish to replace the forum they had lost after having broken with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and published the final issue of Athenaeum. Indeed, as Schleiermacher recounts (Schleiermacher als Mensch, 185):

Since your departure from the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, the rumor has already circulated here that you and Friedrich would be publishing a new Literatur Zeitung with Cotta, and this rumor was renewed by various booksellers since the most recent book fair in Leipzig.

See Rudolf Haym’s summary in the supplementary appendix on the Romantics’ Jahrbücher project. Back.

[1] Wilhelm had charged Schleiermacher with querying Johann Gottfried Schadow in Berlin about the possibility of undertaking a commission to do a memorial for Auguste; see Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 21 August 1800 (letter 265m). Back.

[2] Dorothea to Schleiermacher on 22 Auguste 1800 (letter 266a). Back.

[3] See Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 (letter 265j), note 6. Back.

[4] It did. Friedrich’s disputatio (to attain permission to lecture) on 14 March 1801 degenerated into a bizarre spectacle that is discussed in volume 2. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 26/27 March 1801 (letter 303), esp. with note 14 and, concerning the disputation itself, supplementary appendix 303.1. Back.

[5] References between Wilhelm and Schleiermacher to “deviltry” invariably involve satirical pieces. This one is to Wilhelm’s anticipated Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue bei seiner gehofften Rückkehr in’s Vaterland. Mit Musik. Gedruckt zu Anfange des neuen Jahrhunderts (Braunschweig 1801), known generally as Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Wilhelm had written Schleiermacher on 20 August 1800 (KGA 218):

Since you are so eager to know about my private deviltry, I can already confide to you that it involves Kotzebue and the events in which he was involved in Russia. I am awaiting his return to Germany before announcing it. Of course, since my departure from Jena I have had neither the desire nor the disposition to work on it. —

Please tell no one about it. If we were together, I would straightaway show you everything I have thus far done with it.

See also Friedrich and Dorothea’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 (letter 265j), note 10, and Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 11 July 1800 (letter 265b), note 2. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott