Letter 288

288. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, Friday morning, February 1801

[Braunschweig] Friday morning [February 1801]

|40| What wonderful, dear things you write me! [1] And even more than wonderful and dear, for I am delighted by your most recent revelations, my friend, and could I ever grasp them completely I would be very happy indeed.

But I do quite suspect you will laugh at my present efforts when it comes time for an examination, and you then so optimistically consider how much more from among your ideas can continue to be added to my present understanding — and then the entire, splendid edifice collapses like a house of cards!

For the time being, I can doubtless get further with it on my own than with you, since in the latter case there are always distractions. Give me a teacher any day whom I neither see nor hear, who never becomes impatient if I do not immediately understand, and before whom I need not for that reason be ashamed. You, too, seem to be making more progress without me.

|41| I will not be able to write much today because the family nanny is sick, the little boy as well, and thus I am keeping restless little Emma with me, who is quite literally sitting on the back of my neck. [2]

But what is this with your renewed edict about not allowing any postal day to pass by? I would rather cut off my little finger than do that. The tardiness of the one letter is not my fault; it was sent to the post at midday between 1:00 and 2:00 just like all the others. I would be extremely indignant if Friedrich still had not complied with the enclosed instructions. I have already complained about him to Wilhelm. [3]

But only imagine: Wilhelm, quite on his own and as the first one, found that the following epigram was good that was published in an anthology, one you will probably not get a chance to read.

Pedantry asked Imagination
For a kiss; she referred him to Sin.
Impudently, but impotently, he embraced the latter,
And she was delivered of a stillborn child,
By name Lucinde. [4]

[Three quarters of the page cut away.]

. . . Jew who travels to the trade fair — She could appear thus at the carnival in Weimar. Do you not believe that someone will indeed make fun of this monster, and just who? [5]


[1] Schelling had apparently been writing to Caroline concerning his philosophy and current lectures; see, e.g., her letter to him on 17 February 1801 (letter 287). Back.

[2] Emma Wiedemann had just turned two years old in October 1800. Unfortunately, August Ferdinand Wiedemann would die on 10 March 1801; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 (letter 301). Back.

[3] Presumably a reference to the “epistolary affair”; see esp. also Friedrich’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 (letter 317a) and the editorial note there (with additional cross references). Back.

[4] This epigram was a critical volley fired by Friedrich Bouterwek in the Göttinger Musen-Almanach (1801), 209, with the title “Lucinde. Ein Roman,” and signed “B—k.” Line 2 actually reads: “she sends him to Sin”). Here the frontispiece to that year’s volume:


The epigram became a favorite later among both critics and supporters of Friedrich’s book. See the resolutely tendentious but enlightening remarks by Georg Brandes in his later book on Romanticism in supplementary appendix 288.1. Back.

[5] Unknown but intriguing allusion. These final lines (“Jew who etc.”) appear in the letter on the back of page 3 in part of the letter that is otherwise illegible because of having been torn; see Georg Waitz, (1871), 28n1; Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:603–4. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott