Letter 276c

276c. Schleiermacher to Wilhelm Schlegel in Braunschweig: Berlin, 6 December 1800 [*]

Berlin, 6 December [1800]

Enclosed, my good friend, you will find Schadow’s letter; although it is laconic enough, the whole story is that he does not like Fiorillo’s idea regarding the conceptual drawing of the overall memorial; he thinks it reflects “impure taste” and believes the primary factor prompting you to depart from your initial idea, namely, the enlargement of the figures, might just as easily be attained by enlarging the entire urn, which would produce a far nobler work of art and similarly not exceed your expenses.

But he would like to wait for your answer before providing an exact estimate for an urn enlarged to these proportions. He does not wish to give his detailed opinion concerning the figures until you have seen his own. Perhaps you will prefer these in some respects. You would probably be disinclined to abandon the motif of Hades, similarly also perhaps the portrayal of the mother as Niobe. [1]

The best thing would be for you to come here soon and speak with him yourself; it is much better to discuss this sort of thing in person, and I am sure you can reach an agreement with him, since he is quite eager to undertake the project and his estimates at least until now have been lower than you anticipated. Since his Prince of Dessau has been installed, he has the time for both the requisite concentration and the work, and if things can be settled in a timely fashion, the work of art itself can doubtless be done by the time you wish. [2]

Your most recent statement in this regard startled me with its very sad news about Caroline’s health; in the meantime, I do hope it was but a temporary gloomy outlook. . . .

I await the Kotzebuade every postal day now with keen anticipation. [3] Tieck will also be publishing something against Falk and Merkel. If he remains true to his initial idea of remaining purely didactic and of not pointing out how stupid and tasteless they go about their own polemics, it may turn out very good indeed; but if he proves unable to hold himself back from wasting jests on these people, I would be very sorry.

I will not yet relate anything to you about less important matters of this sort, things that took place on the occasion of a new comedy the Chamäleon between Tieck and Iffland and the police, since they are simply local matters and one will forget all such things in the face of your Kotzebue-deviltry. [4]

I know precious little about what is happening in Jena. Although Friedrich did write me that Goethe is there, he said nothing about what the latter is actually doing, and about himself was unfortunately unable to say anything other than that he is lecturing; [5] Lucinde still does not seem to be finished. Florentin, which was maliciously slandered here, probably at the instigation of Madam Unger, is, I think, a quite nice book, one I genuinely enjoyed. [6] Because I have read it only very fleetingly, I cannot yet really say how much derives from my own relationship with the authoress.

Please give my regards to your grieving wife, and let me hear from you soon, or better yet, let me see you soon: the deviltry and the devil himself. [7]


[*] Sources: Schleiermacher als Mensch. Familien- und Freundesbriefe. Sein Werden. 1783 bis 1804, ed. Heinrich Meisner (Gotha 1922), 187–88; Waitz (1882), 84–85; Josefa Elstner and Erich Klingner, “Briefe Friedrich Schleiermachers an August Wilhelm Schlegel,” Euphorion 21 (1914) 584–98, 736–73, here 762–63; KGA V/4 348–50.

Concerning the memorial for Auguste discussed in this letter, see esp. the editorial note to Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 1 December 1800 (letter 276b). Preliminary designs for the memorial can be found in the gallery on Auguste’s memorial. Back.

[1] Wilhelm had discussed this mythological figure in his letter to Schleiermacher on 21 August 1800 (letter 265m); see also note 3 there. Caroline, of course, had now lost four children of her own. Back.

[2] From 1800, Schadow’s sculpture of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau (1676–1747) stood in the southwestern corner of the Berlin Lustgarten, though later it was moved (engraving by Christian August Günther after Franz Ludwig Catel):



[3] Wilhelm’s dramatic satire against August von Kotzebue, Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue bei seiner gehofften Rückkehr in’s Vaterland. Mit Musik. Gedruckt zu Anfange des neuen (Braunschweig 1801), was to be published in mid-December. Concerning the background and disposition of this piece, see the supplementary appendix on the Kotzebuade. Back.

[4] The actor Heinrich Beck from Gotha had derided the romantics — and especially Ludwig Tieck, even mocking Tieck’s financial problems — in his play Das Chamäleon, performed on 3 November 1800 in Berlin but not published until 1803.

Tieck never finished his lengthy rejoinder “Bemerkungen über Parteilichkeit, Dummheit und Bosheit bei Gelegenheit der Herren Falk, Merkel und des Lustpiels ‘Camäleon’. Von Ludwig Tieck. An diejenigen, die sich unparteilich zu sein getrauen”; it was not published until 1855 in his Nachgelassene Schriften, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1855), 2:35–93. Reference to Beck’s play recurs in later letters; see esp. Caroline to Luise Gotter on 23 January 1801 (letter 283) with the supplementary appendix on Beck’s Kamäleon and the Romantics. Back.

[5] Concerning Goethe’s current stay in Jena during this period, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Schleiermacher on ca. 17 November 1800 (letter 274b), note 7. Friedrich had been lecturing in Jena since 27 October 1800. Back.

[6] Dorothea Veit, Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Lübeck, Leipzig 1801). Dorothea had sent Schleiermacher page proofs; see her letter to him on 31 October 1800 (letter 273b). Back.

[7] Concerning Wilhelm’s Berlin plans, see his letter to Schleiermacher on 1 December 1800 (letter 276b), note 1. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott