Letter 275a

275a. Wilhelm Schlegel to Schleiermacher in Berlin: Braunschweig, 24 November 1800 [*]

Braunschweig, 24 November 1800

Here is the letter to Schadow, good friend, which I am leaving unsealed that you might know its contents. Because I know that artists are generally quite laconic correspondents, I must ask that you speak with him in person and then give me a thorough report of your discussions. Please especially urge him to do a couple of sketches soon, even if on the whole he approves of Fiorillo’s idea, I would like to have the choice with respect to details.

I suspect that given this plan the monument itself will end up being higher than were it to consist of a large urn on which the bas-reliefs were positioned. We could still manage a couple of hundred Thaler more than the initial estimate. [1] If, however, with the present plan Schadow’s price were to exceed our means, please do ask him to suggest an idea whose execution would be less expensive.

It goes without saying that I will take responsibility for the costs of Schadow’s sketches if we ultimately do not come to an understanding with him. I did not want to mention this specifically, so perhaps you can work it into the conversation with him in person.

A sculptor in Cassel, Ruhl, has apparently expressed interest in the work; at the very least, when Fiorillo showed him the sketches of the bas-relief he took the initiative to offer to do a small model, whose arrival I am expecting any day now. I admittedly do not know what his price would be, nor have I yet seen any of this artist’s work.

Please also mention — something I forgot in my letter to Schadow — that the three figures of the bas-relief, namely, mother, daughter, and Hermes, really do express my own idea; the fourth figure, however, I would like to see rendered a bit differently. To wit, either in a shorter tunic, with no sleeves at all, or with a cloak thrown over the shoulder, more stationary than striding, the arm pouring the libation more outstretched and elevated, the other perhaps on his side, the head bowed in grief toward the altar. The altar itself would then have to be lower, on a tripod rather than a massive block, and the lyre leaning up against a tree behind the figure, the tree also separating it from the grieving female figure.

I would then like to receive the sketches back.

By taking care of these requests you are performing a great favor of love for us. Caroline is now living solely in her grief and in her memories of the beloved child; may heaven grant that she at least lives to see the completion of the monument and can one day visit the adorned gravesite. [2]

I assume you have more recent news from Jena than I can give you. Friedrich has probably told you about Goethe’s current stay and activities there. [3]

When I get to Berlin, I am hoping to have news to relate to you about myself. Even in general, I am genuinely looking forward to renewing our contact. The first time we were around each other, I was much too preoccupied. [4] In the meantime, stay well, and be so kind as to send news to me soon.


I must ask your pardon for including the letter to Tieck; I will cover whatever postal costs you incur; but I do not yet know his address in Berlin and fear his celebrity has not yet increased to the point that without it his letter will be properly delivered. [5]


[*] Source: KGA V/4 337–39. — This letter contained letters to Johann Gottfried Schadow and Ludwig Tieck.

This present letter as well as the enclosed one to Schadow concerned the memorial for Auguste. Concerning the background to to this memorial, see Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 5 October 1800 (letter 269b), note 9, the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet, and the gallery on Auguste’s memorial. Back.

[1] Schadow’s initial estimate was 600 Reichsthaler (Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 5 October 1800 [letter 269a]). Back.

[2] Although Caroline would return to Auguste’s gravesite in Bocklet, no memorial would ever be erected at her grave, the exact location of which in the Bocklet churchyard is no longer known. Back.

[3] Concerning Goethe’s stay in Jena in November 1800, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Schleiermacher on ca. 17 November 1800 (letter 274b), note 7. Back.

[4] Schleiermacher and Wilhelm had become acquainted in Berlin in May 1798 just before Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel journeyed on to Dresden to meet Caroline and Auguste. Back.

[5] Concerning the Tiecks’ itinterary since leaving Jena in late June 1800, see Wilhelm’s letter to Johann Diederich Gries on 22 June 1800 (letter 264a), note 6. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott