Letter 292a

• 292a. (was 298) Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, late February? 1801 [*]

[Braunschweig, late February? 1801]

[Beginning of letter is missing.]

|71| . . . thus the earliest part of spring, when the violets break forth and cover the ground with their deep blue. [1] A year ago — ah, but you know what I want to say — you picked them together with my child and brought them back to the sick mother, [2] and now such violets are probably breaking up through the sacred earth that covers her. Poor mother, why not on your mound? My two darlings would then kneel down there in gentle melancholy. [3] I would not have made you two unhappy the way my sweet child did us. Forgive me, I do not want to and indeed cannot write any more. Good night.

Friday morning

Good morning, good friend; I slept for quite a long time. The Theogony is very much on my mind (is that not what the clearly written, underlined, and nonetheless illegible word is?). [4] Although that would surely make an excellent study, do not fragment your energies. Look, as far as limiting oneself is concerned — beforehand the material one intends to deal with looks absolutely infinite, |72| then as soon as one genuinely begins with the execution, it limits itself quite on its own. But go ahead and do it; everything you do will be good and will then genuinely be there and will remain.

Send me a bit of your translation of Hesiod. I want to see whether you have made progress with the poetic meter of antiquity. Wilhelm has doubtless helped me attain at least that much expertise. He could probably be quite useful to you now. I consider hexameters and the elegy to be much [5] . . .

[End of sheet.]


[*] Dating and positioning: Letters 292a, 292b, and 292c in this present edition were originally letters 298, 299, and 300 in Erich Schmidt, (1913), 71–75, and letters 227–28 in Georg Waitz, (1871), 2:48–50. Waitz had dated them March 1801″ and “March? 1801” (he considered positioning — in his numbering — letter 228 before letter 224 [letter 295 in present edition]; Waitz did not include the original letter 300 in present edition).

That is, Schmidt essentially redated the letters in his notes but could no longer alter their position in the printed volume, remarking concerning letters 298 and 299 ([1913], 2:607): “Waitz’s initial sequence is now corrected in the superscriptions [but not in the letters’ positioning]. These letters are governed by a more passionate tone; letter 300 [not in Waitz (1871)] may also need to be dated earlier.” Back.

[1] Dorothea Veit similarly mentions violets in her letter to Rahel Levin on 28 April 1800 (letter 259l), a letter in which she extols what was apparently a beautiful springtime in Jena that year:

Green velvet carpets ascending the gentle hills, embroidered with violets, cowslips, and primroses and permeated by a thousand fragrant herbs; all the trees in the most glorious blossom; lilacs and mayflowers in thick bunches; a kind of willow of the sort I have never before seen and whose blossoms smell like oranges, are everywhere, in all the meadows and hills [etc.] Back.

[2] Caroline had spent March and April 1800 severely ill with nervous fever; the general correspondence during that period reflects the course of and reactions to her illness. In early May 1800, she, Auguste, and Schelling then left for Bamberg. Back.

[3] Illustrations: (1) frontispiece to part 3 of Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel’s Lebensläufe nach aufsteigender Linie, 3 vols. (Berlin 1778–81; repr. Leipzig 1846), vol. 3:1 (1781); (2) Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Titelkupfer und Titelblatt zu Yorick’s empfindsamer Reise (1798); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung (4-250):



Concerning the location of Auguste’s grave, see the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet. Back.

[4] Theogony, by the Greek poet Hesiod, literally: the origin of the gods, a work recounting the origin of both the gods and the world. Alongside Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey one of the earliest sources of Greek mythology (ca. 700 BC). Caroline may have had trouble deciphering the word if Schelling had written it in Greek: θεογονια.

Here the initial lines (Hesiods Theogonie, introduced and annotated by Wolf Aly [Heidelberg 1913]):


Translation Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica, trans. H. G. Evelyn-White, Loeb Classical Library 57 (London 1914):

From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in Permessus or in the Horse’s Spring or Olmeius, make their fair, lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet. Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist, and utter their song with lovely voice etc. Back.

[5] Caroline writes to Wilhelm on 1 March 1801 (letter 293) that Schelling was “engaged in all sorts of studies and is currently practicing, among other things, writing in ancient meter by translating from Hesiod.” Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott