Letter 280

• 280. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, January 1801 [*]

[Braunschweig, January 1801]

|25| Although I had so been looking forward to your letter, my dearest friend, I do think now such was certainly not in vain, for it transported me into a condition of pure delight, so much so that, if you will not hold it against me, I developed something like a slight headache from it after the first hour, albeit one that soon passed, leaving behind only the delight.

You related such splendid thoughts to me, such beautiful images, indeed, even tones, and then the most charming remarks. And even more than any |26| one specific thing, what shines forth from it all is the fact that my friend genuinely is getting on his feet again. I can see I was right to live and be in you during these past days, and if you continue thus, you will soon make me completely healthy again. Should my heart falter, however, I now know I can lean on yours and seek comfort there. That is the proper relationship between the mortal mother and the divine son.

Indeed, already you lift me up through the hope you offer, through your perspectives, which I, too, might have, and through your ideas, which I can have only through you, and that we might meet in that sphere of serene luminosity that alone is the true element of my heart and soul.


I am reading your letter again and again without stopping, everything in it so delights and enthralls me, and this time Schlegel, too, took in his portion, for you can imagine that the approval garnered by this little piece, a piece that gave him such unspeakably great fun in its composition, took that fun to an even higher level.

He is extremely obliged to you for having helped him with the science of his success, and for your intentions to continue as his herald. [1] What a splendid expression you chose in referring to his poesy as an “organ that has now grown powerful”; and indeed, one cannot foresee how much power and scope it yet might acquire as a result of his having, finally, transformed himself into this single unity. —

He is particularly gratified now to recall a prophecy of the prophet Friedrich, who once told him that his wit and comic side were of a poetic nature, not in a general sense, but quite specifically, and that were he ever able to express it in this fashion, he would be able to accomplish a great deal with it indeed.

We also received the pages from the Literatur-Zeitung at the same time; |27| your remark had led me to expect a more pronounced element of personality. But since surely even Friedrich himself has long ceased viewing Madam Veit as Lucinde, we have no right to do so either.

Schütz did not write it, for it is impossible not to recognize Falk in it if one knows him even a little; everything characteristic of him is present in it, and how nice that he must have written it even before the appearance of the Kotzebuade and that the sword was already hanging over his ill will. [2] The review of Soltau was perhaps written by the Spanish traveler Fischer. [3] Soltau is having his translation of Cervantes’s novellas published here by Vieweg and at his own expense several sheets contra Schlegel as well. [4] He also wrote that could he but get away from Lüneburg, he would very much like to make the acquaintance of Herr and Madam Schlegel, who he heard were in Braunschweig. [5] He is already an older gentleman with a great many wives and children.

It almost looked as if I would be able to give this letter to Schlegel to take along, but he cannot travel yet; the weather has made the roads treacherous from every direction, and he himself is not yet entirely well. If he did not have several things to attend to in Jena, including especially having to prompt Friedrich, he would be quite [glad] to take care of it himself. [6] . . .

[End of sheet.]


[*] Although Caroline speaks movingly here of the joy the reception of Schelling’s letter has given her, regrettably none of his letters to her from this period has been preserved (Königl. Großbrit. Genealogischer Kalender auf das 1786 Jahr; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[1] Although Caroline mentions Wilhelm’s plans to send Schelling a copy of his Kotzebuade (see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 2 January 1801 [letter 279]), Schelling’s response unfortunately seems no longer to be extant. Back.

[2] The Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1800) 366 (Thursday, 25 December 1800) 692–94, 694–96 published anonymous malicious reviews of Johann Bernhard Vermehren, Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde (Jena 1800) and of anonymous (Schleiermacher), Vertraute Briefe über Friedrich Schlegels Lucinde zur richtigen Würdigung derselben (Lübeck, Leipzig 1800), issuing in stichomythic verses ending with the remark “(exit to pavilion).” For the text to of these reviews, see supplementary appendix 280.1. Back.

[3] The allusion is to a review of Soltau’s translation of Cervantes’s Don Quixote in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1800) 364 (Wednesday, 24 December 1800) 673–80, a review that did, however, give preference to Soltau’s translation over that of Ludwig Tieck and also took issue with Wilhelm’s assessment of Soltau’s translation in the final issue of Athenaeum (1800) 297–329, which had appeared in August 1800.

The tiff over these translations and their assessment, however, was prefaced (1) by Wilhelm’s review of Tieck’s translation in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in July 1799; (2) by Friedrich Schlegel’s suggestion that yet more of Cervantes ought to be translated (Athenaeum [1799] 324–27, which had appeared in August 1799); (3) by Wilhelm and Tieck’s announcement in January 1800 that they were indeed contemplating such; and then (3) by Soltau’s own response to that announcement, which set a series of counterresponses in motion.

This lengthy and confusing exchange, culminating in the review by Fischer to which Caroline here refers, offers a representative example of the kind of tedious and drawn-out minor scholarly quarrels in which the Romantics became involved and to which Dorothea Veit objected with such exasperation in her letters to Schleiermacher on 28 October 1799 (letter 252a), 31 October 1800 (letter 278b), and 17 January 1801 (letter 282b) — as opposed, for example, to the hostile earlier exchange with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung itself in the autumn of 1799 and the later, unequivocally malicious scandal surrounding Auguste’s death, in which Schelling was accused of having contributed to Auguste’s death through medical dilettantism.

For excerpted texts, frontispieces from Soltau’s translation of Cervantes, and a summary of the course of this scholarly quarrel concerning Cervantes, see supplementary appendix 180.2. Back.

[4] Soltau also published M. de Cervantes Saavedra, Lehrreiche Erzählungen (Novelas ejemplares), trans. Dietrich Wilhelm Soltau (Königsberg: Nicolovius [N.B. not Vieweg] 1801), reviewed in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) no. 303 (Wednesday, 27 October 1802) 208. The reference to privately-financed publication of materials contra Wilhelm Schlegel (in connection with the quarrel mentioned above) is uncertain. Back.

[5] Lüneburg is just over 100 km north of Braunschweig (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[6] Concerning Wilhelm’s anticipated travel itinerary from Braunschweig to Jena and from Jena to Berlin, see the final paragraph in his letter to Schleiermacher on 1 December 1800 (letter 276b) and the accompanying note (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

Braunschweig_Berlin_Jena_ map


Translation © 2014 Doug Stott