Letter 292b

• 292b. (was 299) Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, late February? 1801 [*]

[Braunschweig] Wednesday evening [late February? 1801]

|72| Could I but come to you this evening and have an amiable chat! The sun and the blue sky tempted me irresistibly today and reminded me of my friend; but I finally wished that the weather might simply be and stay really bad until spring truly begins, since then everything round about is closed and shuttered and one knows one cannot go out in any case.

I paid a visit to a Protestant convent outside the town gate where Jerusalem’s daughter is the mother superior. [1] One still has some quite pleasant views there and especially magnificent plants in front of all the windows, mignonettes, heliotropes, and other flowers of that sort whose character is in their fragrance. —

My sweet friend, your letter rested with me overnight. I received it yesterday quite late. It was half with pain that I sucked all its love into me. If you react violently to what I sent you yesterday — alas, how you will continue to grieve me. It is not really violent at all — I was upset at the beginning, but everything had settled down, and the soul of my decision became quite independent of the beginning.

|73| Basically we did indeed often think that things would turn out this way for us; you yourself also wrote me such. Believe me, I will never enter into anything in which I cannot remain wholly your friend.

From my friend will naught divide me,
Nor does he part from me. [2] 

I have already recited this charming, simple song a thousand times over to myself today. “Friend,” however, is a wholly general word compared to what I mean, darling, you, whom I press to my heart like a precious child and yet adore as a man. You realize that I do both, though I occasionally must indeed harshly reprimand you.

My dear Joseph, you wonder whether I will rejoice in seeing you again? [3] Indeed, truly more than I can tell you, my joy is already hastening ahead of the time that yet separates us, and I surrender to it now without fear. [4] I have become so secure within myself precisely because I know what I want.

With bliss will I you see,
With bliss, pray, do also receive me.

May God grant you a heart more purely demonstrative of its faithfulness; but a more faithful heart? — no, you cannot find such, and that is why I do put some value in you nonetheless bearing this one out from the storm. Though you may push it away in a moment of grievance — yet will it hope for the hour when love returns, and remain faithful to you. Tell me, have I not always loved you, and still loved you even when I rebelled against you, because I simply could not do otherwise? Have I not always drawn you intimately, tenderly to my breast again and kissed the brow that looked so grim? [5]

Could I but get a bit of relief from that one, particular worry, namely, that I disturb your thoughts and words by what I have written you. — First through uncertainty, |74| now perhaps through certainty, — for you will probably imagine it to be much more cutting than it is — for it is indeed certain, but what, really, is so bitter about it? We simply would like to know that we are independent from ourselves and from the world. [6] For the rest . . .

[End of sheet.]


[*] Concerning dating and positioning, see the editorial note to letter 292a. — Caroline’s previous letter to Schelling, to which she refers in this letter, has unfortunately not been preserved. Back.

[1] Caroline seems to have made several visits to see Charlotte Jerusalem; see her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 1 March 1801 (letter 293).

The former Kreuzkloster in Braunschweig, founded in the early thirteenth century and also known as the Convent St. Crucis, was located outside the Peter’s Gate. From 1400 it was used as a Cistercian convent, and after initial resistance following the Reformation became Lutheran convent. It was destroyed by allied bombing on 15 October 1944.

Philippine Charlotte Jerusalem was its abbess 1789–1823, that is, during the period when Luise and Caroline were living together in Braunschweig. Here on a town map from the year 1400 with the suburb Rennelsberg, the Schweinemarkt-Wollmarkt and the Church of St. Andreas (where Luise and her husband lived), and the Peter’s Gate (Braunschweig: Plan der Stadt um das Jahr 1400, Urkundenbuch der Stadt Braunschweig, ed. Ludwig Hänselmann and Heinrich Mack, part 1 [Berlin 1905], 1321–1340), and on postcards from (1) 1902 and (2) undated:





[2] The first couplet is modeled on Ludwig Helmbold’s (1532–98) old hymn Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (1563). See the translation by Catherine Winkworth in The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis, MO, 1941), 572:



[3] Schelling was called Fritz in his family; Caroline occasionally used Joseph as his first name (Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling). See also Caroline’s letter to Schelling in late December 1800 (letter 278). Back.

[4] Illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Ich stand da, albern und betroffen genug (1794); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung (6-444):



[5] Indeed, Caroline repeats this touching asseveration later (Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1805: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] Despite these remarks, Caroline still seems to be struggling precisely with uncertainty concerning the kind of relationship that would be appropriate between her and Schelling in light of Auguste’s death. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott