Letter 285

• 285. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, January, February 1801?

[Braunschweig, January, February 1801?]

[Beginning of letter is missing.]

|35| . . . can yet become when one finally is at the point you are now. And therewith have I revealed my secret to you. You may not abuse it, my intimate friend. You must sincerely try to determine whether you can do without me, but give yourself time enough to consider slowly. We belong to each other, we should be inwardly one. Have I ever mistrusted you, you my soul? Then why you me?

You will probably ask me whether I am indifferent to the outcome. I must answer yes, even though sweet love wants to hold me back. I am certain both of my indestructible happiness as well as of my incurable misfortune. That is my privilege.

And now let us retreat once more into our previous quietness and tranquility, where you have already so often allowed me to feel such joy over you. Indeed, cheer me with your own strivings and ideas. Love me. I kneel before you in thought and entreat you to do so.

Truly, the trip was just an impulsive idea, and I am convinced that you must remain in Jena. [1]

The genius that will guide me: it is yours. And it will surely be good.

|36| A few days ago I finally received an answer from Charlotte Urff. [2] They had kept my letter from her for a long time; she is not staying with her mother, but rather with friends in Frankfurt, from whom she cannot extract herself just now. The reasons for that are allegedly both important and sad, she writes, that is, everything important is allegedly sad. But it involves only that family, not her, and she believes she will still be able to visit me this summer if I still want her to. In her entire letter, she is the same as she always was, to be loved for her love and dignity. [3]

I do hope you will not hold it against me that I have included this enclosure? [4] I had offered it to Wilhelm. He has finished 3 acts in Shakespeare [5] and is now working on an essay on Bürger, the poet, to be included in the critical collection. [6] He cannot travel unless there is a frost, regardless of whether Friedrich might become annoyed, though the latter has not yet given any sign of such. I read all his last letters as well as the one today to him.

Given his present circumstances, can he possibly find it in his heart to be disinclined toward Wilhelm? Tant pis pour lui. [7]

My angelic, dear friend, stay well; I embrace you, so firmly, so loyally, so full of love and beneficent spirit, you cannot possibly remain insensitive to it.


[1] Uncertain and otherwise undocumented but intriguing allusion. Back.

[2] Uncertain reference, though likely an acquaintance from Marburg. See Joseph Friederich Engelschall, Gedichte (Marburg, Leipzig 1788), under the list of subscribers under “U” (Caroline’s brother Fritz Michaelis is similarly listed under “M”):

Baroness Caroline von Urff, in Nieder-Urff in Hesse
Baroness Augusta von Urff, in Nieder-Urff
Baroness Charlotte von Urff, ibid.

Caroline (or Karoline) von Urff was an author, her sister possibly this Charlotte (von) Urff. Their aunt was an acquaintance of Caroline in Marburg, and at least Caroline von Urff is attested there at precisely the time Caroline moved there. See Carl Wilhelm Otto August von Schindel, Die deutschen Schrifstellerinnen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, vol. 1: A–L (Leipzig 1823), 270–71:

Kröber, Karoline von, née von Urff (30 July 1765–1805), author in Marburg (pseudonym: Lina); born in Niederurff in Kurhesse [ca. halfway between Marburg and Kassel, just south of Zwesten; map 1: Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland (1804); Bibliothèque nationale de France; map 2: M. Brunnemann, Karte des Hauptgebietes von NiederHessen (Umgegend von Kassel) (Kassel 1880); Bibliothèque nationale de France]:



Eldest daughter of the deceased Hessian-Cassel Dragoon Colonel von Urff. From 1789 she often resided in Marburg with her aunt, Frau von Breidenstein [Malsburg?], and socialized frequently with the Jung-Stilling family. In 1793 she married Hofrath Kröber, tutor to two Counts von Stolberg; they had two children. This Hofrath Kröber is the same whom Jung-Stilling accurately portrays on p. 13 of his Lehrjahre under the name Raschmann. —

After the death of her husband, she lived after 1803 for a lengthy period in Marburg. Under the pseudonym Lina she published various poems characterized by delicate feeling and assonance. She also did a translation of the novel by Frau von Wiesenhütten.

It is likely though not certain that Charlotte (von) Urff is from this family, especially since Caroline goes on to mention that she was currently in Frankfurt, just south of Marburg. Back.

[3] It seems this episode must remain obscure at least for now, all the more regrettable because Caroline seems to have been in contact — however steadily or intermittently — with Charlotte Urff since her time in Marburg. This mention is in any case the only one in Caroline’s extant letters. Back.

[4] The enclosure seems to have been a missive of sorts to Friedrich Schlegel in Jena that she is sending along — as she goes on to explain — because Wilhelm still cannot travel. Friedrich writes to Wilhelm on 2 February 1801 (Walzel, 456; KFSA 25:226): “Give Caroline my regards and tell her I will answer her letter in detail as soon as I have time.” Walzel (456n2) remarks the following in his footnote to the sentence:

The “epistolary affair” mentioned here for the first time, one that will be discussed in greater detail in letters 174–77 [in Walzel’s own numbering], is one of the first stages in the increasing hostilities between Caroline, on the one hand, and Friedrich and Dorothea, on the other. Although Haym, Die romantische Schule, 714f. [for the text of Haym’s discussion see supplementary appendix 285.1], presents this falling out in a light quite unfavorable to Caroline, one cannot deny that for a long time Caroline, who was more than merely a friend to Schelling, engaged in ambiguous and disingenuous behavior toward Wilhelm.

Hermann Patsch, KFSA, 25:565n16, adds (referring in part to the sequence of flurried letters 329a–d in the present edition):

The letter [from Friedrich to Caroline, responding to Caroline’s “enclosure”] has not been preserved. Friedrich had not yet answered it on 18 May 1801 [letter 317a in present edition, in which Friedrich mentions the letter and the attendant problems with Caroline], and after much to and fro . . . he sent the letter back in September 1801 [14 September 1801 (letter 329d in present edition)].

Wilhelm Schlegel cites Friedrich’s sentence in his letter on 14 September 1801 [letter 329c in present edition]. Caroline’s letter is perhaps the “enclosure” about which she writes to Schelling in a fragmentary letter (dated to late January 1801 [i.e., this present letter 285].

See in this context also Friedrich’s letters to Schleiermacher before mid-September 1801 (letter 328j) and on 21 September 1801 (letter 329g).

The ill will generated by this “epistolary affair,” as Walzel points out, resurfaces later. Back.

[5] Vol. 8 of the edition of Shakespeare, containing König Heinrich der Sechste: Zweyter Theil, König Heinrich der Sechste: Dritter Theil (The Second Part of King Henry VI and The Third Part of King Henry VI) (1801); this volume, incidentally, would be the last published until 1810, and the penultimate on which Wilhelm himself worked. Back.

[6] The reference is to Wilhelm’s lengthy essay on Gottfried August Bürger, “Über Bürgers Werke,” in August Wilhelm Schlegel and Friedrich Schlegel, Charakteristiken und Kritiken, 2:1–96; the latter is the “critical collection” to which Caroline here refers (repr. Sämmtliche Werke 8:64–139, where the title is simply “Bürger”). Erich Schmidt, (1913), 603, remarks but does not otherwise explicate that Caroline herself seems to have contributed to this essay on Bürger. Back.

[7] Fr., “too bad, so much the worse for him.” Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott