Letter 276b

276b. Wilhelm Schlegel to Schleiermacher in Berlin: Braunschweig, 1 December 1800 [*]

Braunschweig, 1 December 1800

I finally received the sketches by Schadow from Jena, my good friend, and I confess I am more pleased with them than I had anticipated after reading your letter. Hence I did not hesitate to write him the very next postal day. That you might know everything that is going on in this regard, I have left the letter unsealed; when you send it on to him, please be so kind as to seal it with a wafer.

His statements do indeed almost suggest that he is not particularly interested in the undertaking. That may be simply because he believed we were so keen on saving money, and out of a sense of accommodation to me he then did not want to ask as much as he may have from someone else. And his proposed price is indeed unprecedentedly cheap, since the marble alone would cost as much; I cannot comprehend how at that price he can be even moderately compensated for his time. Hence I thought it necessary to send him a frank statement on this subject.

I am planning to secure additional advice and suggestions from art connoisseurs, especially from the Neapolitan Tischbein and from Goethe; but let this remain only between us. There will then still be time to have this or that altered. For now I merely wanted to say something pleasant to him in a general fashion.

I now no longer need a second sketch according to the other concept, namely, that the bas-reliefs be positioned on a pedestal outcrop. I would, however, like to hear Schadow’s opinion on that if he has said anything to you in person. When you have time, please also send Fiorillo’s sketches back to me.

It is better if the actual execution of the piece be a bit delayed to allow more time for adequate reflection than having the execution end up being not quite what I had in mind.

I may already have mentioned to you that I received a small wax model of the bas-relief from a sculptor in Cassel, Ruhl, according to Fiorillo’s sketch, albeit with considerable deviations. But I am not really pleased with it; the figures are rendered in too truncated and plump a fashion, and are cast in rather expressionless poses. . . .

I should not forget to mention the following. My trip to Berlin is not intended as merely a brief visit of 4 or 6 weeks, but as a genuine stay of residence during which I will be setting myself up to work. But that should remain between us. If your trip to Jena were to take place just after New Year’s, we could then travel on to Berlin together. [1]


[*] Sources: Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:244 (frag.); KGA V/4 341–42.

This letter is a response to Schleiermacher’s letter to Wilhelm on 25 November 1800 (lettee 275b). Schleiermacher in his own turn answers this letter on 6 December 1800 (letter 276c).

At issue are designs for a memorial for Auguste, in connection with which Schleiermacher was acting on Wilhelm’s behalf with the Berlin sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow. See Wilhelm’s previous letters to Schleiermacher on 21 August 1800 (letter 265m); 5 October 1800 (letter 269b), note 9; 27 October 1800 (letter 272c); on 24 November 1800 (letter 275a) with Schleiermacher’s response on 25 November 1800 (letter 275b).

See esp. the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet, and the gallery on Auguste’s memorial. The issue is discussed in coming letters as well. Back.

[1] It seems Wilhelm was intending to journey first from Braunschweig to Jena, then on to Berlin permanently. See Mother Schlegel’s letter to him on 21 October 1800 (letter 272a), note 3, and Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 November 1800 (letter 274a), note 6 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

Braunschweig_Berlin_Jena_ map

As it turned out, Wilhelm did not return to Jena before moving to Berlin in late February 1801 (he was repeatedly thwarted from traveling by inclement weather in Braunschweig as well as by illness; see Caroline’s letter to Schelling in January 1801 [letter 280]), nor did Schleiermacher ever make a trip to Jena.

The significance of Wilhelm’s plans as described in this letter is that he is now unequivocally not planning on returning to Jena with Caroline or even of remaining with her in Braunschweig — at least at this point: — any later than an unspecified time in December 1800, after which he would be in Jena and, after Schleiermacher’s stay in Jena “just after New Year’s,” would return to Berlin perhaps in late January 1801.

Caroline was doubtless aware of the specifics of these plans. Although there is no mention yet of divorce from either Caroline or Wilhelm (a complicated legal process at the time in any case), the separation at least had now been decided. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott