Letter 286a

286a. Dorothea Veit to Schleiermacher in Berlin: Jena, 16 February 1801 [*]

Jena, 16 February 1801

I am writing you in Friedrich’s name today, my dear friend! He is not well, has stretched out with his head on one pillow and his feet tucked under another, and sends his regards.

First, he is waiting longingly for “Phaedrus”; it must come soon, otherwise it can no longer be published at Easter. He accepts the offer concerning “Protagoras.” [1] He will write you about everything else on the next postal day. In case Wilhelm is already in Berlin, you are to tell him that he, too, will be receiving a large parcel on the next postal day, involving business as well as everything else. [2] Tieck should also send his piece, and “Heinrich von Afterdingen.” [3]

You, dear Schleier, gladdened Friedrich’s very soul with your last two letters. You must, however, come at some point; we will be staying here at least another year, if not longer, and in our present situation are doing better than might be the case almost anywhere else. [4] Our Friedrich, moreover, is quite taken with his lecturing. Despite all our diligence, however, only half of what we undertake is ever finished.

One of the hindrances is our health, which is never stable. Sometimes one of us is not doing well, sometimes the other, and, of course, the other is then also hindered with work. I am suffering almost incessantly now from dizziness, which greatly impedes my work.

People here are enormously fond of Florentin, [5] which pleases me with respect to the credit it provides me with the bookseller, though otherwise I am quite ashamed of it all, and am annoyed at becoming so properly popular; fie! [6]

Can Jette not arrange to come to Leipzig at Easter? or am I perhaps still under the Herzian ban? [7]

My hills here will soon be rid of their snow, and it will be so beautiful here again; ah, could you but come and see our springtime! [8]

Hardenberg is back in Weissenfels and is still sick. I do not really think he will recover his health this time. [9]

May God preserve you, and please write me soon.



[*] Sources: Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:263 (frag); Briefe von Dorothea Schlegel an Friedrich Schleiermacher 100–01; KGA V/5 57–58; KFSA 25:233. Back.

[1] “Phaedrus” and “Protagoras” were part of Friedrich’s and Schleiermacher’s translation project with the works of Plato. Schleiermacher sent the translation with his letter on 14 March 1801. Back.

[2] Wilhelm was still in Braunschweig. In his letter to Schleiermacher on 9 February 1801 (letter 285c), he queries Schleiermacher about securing him a furnished room into which he might move on 20 February, and he seems to have passed along that same information to Friedrich as well. In any event, he did not leave Braunschweig until 21 February (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

Braunschweig_Berlin_Jena_ map


[3] Presumably for the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802. Ludwig Tieck’s piece was possibly his unfinished “Bemerkungen über Parteilichkeit, Dummheit und Bosheit bei Gelegenheit der Herren Falk, Merkel und des Lustpiels ‘Kamäleon,’” which was, however, published only posthumously in Ludwig Tieck’s Nachgelassene Schriften. Auswahl und Nachlese, ed. Rudolf Köpke, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1855), 2:35–93 (see Schleiermacher’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 December 1800 [letter 276c], also note 4 there; also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 23 January 1801 [letter 283] and the supplementary appendix on the Kamäleon and the Romantics).

Friedrich von Hardenberg’s novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen was published not by Johann Friedrich Unger in Berlin as originally planned, but in 1802 by the Realschulbuchhandlung in Berlin and edited by Friedrich and Ludwig Tieck. Back.

[4] Despite much entreaty over the past year, Schleiermacher never visited Dorothea and Friedrich in Jena.

Friedrich and Dorothea’s future movements outside Jena went as follows: On ca. 29 November 1801, Friedrich departed Jena for Berlin in the company of Friedrich Tieck, albeit without Dorothea, who remained behind in Jena. On 27 January 1802 Friedrich departed Berlin for Dresden, while at essentially the same time Dorothea departed Jena for Dresden. They met up in Leipzig, and by 1 February 1802 both were in Dresden.

They returned to Jena but a single time, for the performance of Friedrich’s play Alarcos in Weimar on 29 May 1802, immediately after which they departed for Paris, leaving Jena forever. Back.

[5] Dorothea’s anonymously published novel had just appeared, Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Leipzig 1801). Back.

[6] See Dorothea’s remarks to Clemens Brentano in Marburg on 27 February 1801 (Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:[19] [no. 7*]; Wieneke (1914) 344; KFSA 25:239):

Although we are doing quite well among ourselves, we never see strangers now at all, and hear very little about them; but what we do hear amuses us almost indescribably.

For example, we are now being told that all of Jena is maintaining that I, yes I, wrote Florentin! and it is precisely because people are so convinced of that now that they are mercilessly criticizing and attacking it. Indeed, some who after it was announced [Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1801) 21 (Wednesday, 4 February 1801) 173] believed that Friedrich himself must have written it, and were praising it beforehand, now are retracting that praise, and still others, those who had reproached it beforehand, now do not quite know how they should be reacting. In a word: what fun!

See Schiller’s assessment in a letter to Goethe on 16 March 1801 (Correspondence Between Goethe and Schiller 2:365–66):

Madam Veit has published a novel which I send you; look into it for curiosity’s sake. You will find the ghosts of old acquaintances flitting about in it too. However, this novel — which is a rare caricature — has nevertheless given me a better idea of the authoress, and is a new proof of how far this style of dilettantism can be carried at least in what is mechanical and void of form. Back.

[7] Concerning Dorothea’s dental and other health problems and journey to Leipzig in April/May 1801, see Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm Schlegel on 5–6 March 1801 (letter 296), note 31, and on 31 May 1801 (letter 319). Dorothea similarly mentions the visit in her letter to Schleiermacher on 16 April (letter 308a). See also Friedrich’s letter to Schleiermacher on 18 May 1801 (letter 317a), in which he speaks of her illness and relapse. Back.

[8] Concerning the beautiful spring weather in Jena the year before and Dorothea’s reaction to it, see esp. Dorothea’s letter to Rahel Levin on 28 April 1800 (letter 259l), esp. with note 6. Back.

[9] Friedrich von Hardenberg would die on 25 March 1801 with Friedrich present.

Concerning Hardenberg’s condition and trip from Dresden back to Weissenfels, see Charlotte Ernst’s letter to Wilhelm in late January 1801 (letter 284a). Also Caroline to Schelling on 13 February 1801 (letter 286) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



Translation © 2014 Doug Stott