Letter 272b

272b. Mother (Johanna Christiane Erdmuthe) Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Braunschweig: Hannover, 26 October 1800 [*]

[Hannover,] 26 October 1800

Dearest Son,

I received your letter a couple of hours ago. [1] As soon as I had sent my letter to you, [2] I feared exactly what has now happened, namely, that you would not be happy with it, but it had already been sent.

At my age everything wears me out, even if it is pleasant company, and especially farewells, in a word, I was exhausted, and that always upsets me such that I see the sad side of things.

Your visit gave me indescribable joy, [3] and also that you were mostly cheerful, and you also told me much that was very pleasant and reassuring, especially on account of Heinrich. [4] Including that he will be lecturing this winter. [5] But I just cannot reconcile myself with his novel and his situation with the Madam. [6]

My dear Wilhelm, you must have patience with my age, and with my limited views, a person who has nothing but a little bit of normal understanding cannot understand the way geniuses think. In a word, everything is the same as it was, you are my very beloved son about whom I know nothing except what does him honor, but the best and smartest people can be wrong, and an anxious mother who loves her children as much as I love especially you should be able to express a well-intentioned bit of concern.

Maybe I do sometimes have needless melancholy thoughts because of my solitude, but feel sorry for me for that. I am very aware that I am now at the age when one says “I do not like being this age,” all alone, without any specific chores and tasks, and yet with a restless and lively spirit that really has become a burden to me. — —

If Friedrich wants to visit us this coming summer, then we will be pleased to have him if he can put up with us. [7] — —

Give my warmest regards to your dear wife and to your mother-in-law, and write me again soon.

Mother Schlegel


[*] Source: Waitz (1882), 87. Passages Waitz did not include are indicated by “—.” Back.

[1] Apparently not extant. Back.

[2] Dated 21 October 1800 (letter 272a). Back.

[3] Concerning Wilhelm’s visit, see Mother Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 21 October 1800 (letter 272a), note 4. Back.

[4] I.e., Friedrich Schlegel. Back.

[5] Friedrich would begin lecturing on philosophy in Jena on 27 October 1800; he delivered his inaugural lecture on 18 October 1800. Back.

[6] See Mother Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 January 1800 (letter 258b). Back.

[7] Mother Schlegel was 66 years old at the time. Of her children, only Karl Schlegel still lived in Hannover; Friedrich and Dorothea did not visit her during the summer of 1801 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Der Besuch beim Pastor Fabritius,” Von Berlin nach Danzig. Eine Künstlerfahrt im Jahre 1773 von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den Originalen in der Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Mit erläuterndem Text und einer Einführung von Professor Dr. W[olfgang] von Oettingen [Berlin, Amsler & Ruthardt, Kunsthändler o.J. [1883], plate 68):



Translation © 2014 Doug Stott