Letter 303

• 303. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Braunschweig, 26–27 March 1801

[Braunschweig] Thursday, 26 [–27] March [1801]

|82| I did not write on the most recent postal day, my very good, very dear Schlegel, that I might spare you my bitter lament over the fact that you had not written. I was quite confident I would yet receive something from you that same day, but I feared even more that nothing might come — On that and the previous day, my mother was again not feeling well at all, and I saw new difficulties emerging before we all finally settled down again, and to a certain extent I did indeed despair.

Thus did I attend the first play the French company performed here again; [1] it was Eugénie by Beaumarchaiz. [2] The performance of Degligny and Mademoiselle Serigny was such that one absolutely could not resist the effect of several of the situations in the play. It quite swept me away beyond my |83| powers, and yet not beyond my anxiety at perhaps not finding any letters when I returned home, whereas Mr. Galatin read to us from a letter he had just received from Berlin. [3]

Had I not had this idée fixe, or rather: had this idée not been so excessively fixe, Mademoiselle Serigny could not have failed to distract me. She performed incredibly well, playing Eugenie for the first time [4] — a role to which she is otherwise unaccustomed — with an artistic flair and sensibility I have never before noticed in her. [5]

After that performance, we then enjoyed, in a small operetta, one of her mischievous young girls with all her boundless devilment and an element of charming gracefulness. Does your diminutive Unzeline also possess such an enchantingly mischievous element about her? If so, then in your place I would not be able to keep myself from just eating her right up.

But further — when Fauche brought me home and I found the letters but was so upset that I simply could not be glad, could not read, could not eat, could not drink — Your Most Severe Excellency would have been quite annoyed with me. It was very good indeed that Your Most Severe Excellency was present only in written form.

But it is wrong of me to linger over these stories, particularly since today, too, I simply do not have the extra energy. Quite late on the evening of the day before yesterday, I received some news that again upset me greatly — Professor Böhmer related to me in Hoppenstedt’s name that Philippine had finally fallen victim to her maternal hopes — she had gotten pregnant for the third time, which she had concealed from me, intentionally, it seems — On Osiander’s advice, and with opinions from other physicians, she resolved to try to save the child this time if possible by having labor artificially induced. She carried out this decision solely with her husband’s advance knowledge and assistance, having concealed it from all her other siblings and friends.

The birth did indeed take place, and a |84| living child was there, prompting considerable joy for everyone. Two hours later, however, the child died, and its mother was in danger of doing so herself; she spent three days in such danger before passing away, gently, apparently without any consciousness at all of her condition. —

Wiedemann is convinced Osiander killed her through this violent measure, and, because this measure — if its real purpose was to save the child when it was still smaller — was implemented much too late in any case, only 14 days before term — that Osiander everywhere acted with extreme imprudence. [6] But the mother’s loving resolve in the matter was nonetheless a beautiful thing and will doubtless make her even more unforgettable to her husband, though you will doubtless immediately remark that now he can marry a prettier wife. [7] She was indeed a valiant and courageous woman; she also made arrangements beforehand to provide for her husband, making him the sole heir of her estate, as one might reasonably expect.

In any event, the news came so unexpectedly for me that I could not sleep the following night and as a result am again somewhat ill, though nothing that will last long, since next Sunday I will be traveling to Celle, where Philipp is picking me up. [8] You see, he has written me every postal day for just that reason, promising it would cost me virtually nothing for the journey; then everyone here encouraged me as well, so that I finally overcame my inertia and said yes. [9]

My mother also seems to have taken a turn for the better since yesterday, and I doubt not that inside of three or four weeks she will be in a position to follow Philipp to Harburg, [10] who will be bringing me back the entire way himself, though she is indeed so faint-hearted that she makes us genuinely sad and has made us rather anxious concerning our plans, which are as important to Luise as they have always been to me. [11]

The visit by Tiek to which you alerted me makes me very glad indeed; [12] tell him that and give him my very warmest regards. Nor should he |85| stay downstairs, but rather in your room if you are not yet there.

Let me relate to you how my arrangements for the house look: Luise, her child, and I will be occupying the middle story and also be sleeping together in that room and the alcove in the corner. The room downstairs will remain free for eating and that sort of thing, and the chamber for bathing, which has been strongly recommended to me. Are these arrangements satisfactory? [12a]

Something that does not seem so good to me and which, to tell the truth, has irked me somewhat, is that Friedrich and Madam Veit are using my parlor, where my own picture is hanging, whenever they give parties. I heard about that from Sophie.

I do indeed hope, my dearest Schlegel, that they told you about this beforehand — but even then, I still consider it rather indelicate of Madam Veit, for it is not as if some dire necessity has forced them to do this. They already have a room in their own apartment that is just as large, [13] and as far as the things they used are concerned, the table settings and the porcelain — which have already been reduced enough as it is through normal usage — are, after all, my own, small, separate property, and, in a word, I do not intend to offer it for their use at the next doctoral banquet, especially if you do not officially notify me. And even if all that were not so, I remain firm in my opinion that it is indelicate, and my picture no doubt pursed its lips not a little at what went on. [14]

Except for these particulars, as far as the doctoral event itself is concerned, other sources, namely, students here, informed me, as Friedrich probably told you himself, that he really had to lock horns with that miserable dancer and portly theologian Augusti, whom the faculty maliciously forced on him as his opponent, and that afterward a very small [15] minority came out with music in support of Friedrich and a broad majority for Augusti. Such ridiculous stuff. [16] Schelling did not relate anything to me about the affair, he merely sent the theses along to me, |86| which I have freely and subtly translated but which I am not showing to anyone. [17]

It almost seems to me as if Paulus were now writing the entire Literatur-Zeitung by himself. [18]

Do listen, Madam Nuys has absolutely no capacity for judgment; upon hearing the rumor that Falk was dead, she almost tore her hair out. — Madam Campe visited us here; she thought the account of the redoute in the Modejournal charming. [19]

Last Saturday evening we dined with Madam von Sierstorf, and Herr von Sierstorf sent us a special invitation to come an hour earlier that he might show us his galvanic batteries, which consist of 160 layers; does he ever have Laubthaler! But otherwise nothing, at least no idea of it, or at most considerable mechanical skill. [20]

Does one really know for certain that the woman whose voice Herr Grappengiesser restored really had lost it in the first place? You should have the prescriptions; [21] on the other hand, let me entreat you to get rid of your head cold. I have often thought of you during these frequent storms, since you so often go out in the street late in the evening and can so easily catch cold. The weather is now finally beginning to calm down.

Hufeland has left and is thus now in Berlin; you must not neglect to see him soon. Loder immediately cast aspersions on him and promised there would be a successor; most people are still thinking it will be Himly or Horn. Himly would likely not work out. Goethe will hear nothing of it, unless perhaps he is merely posing or has relinquished any participation in the affair. I do not regret that it is not Röschlaub; [22] Roose tells me that in the most recent issue of his journal, he irresponsibly paid homage to Hufeland [23] — such are the fruits of our admonitions to be polite; [24] but once the good Lord has failed to give a person a sense for tact, |87| that person inevitably ends up doing everything crudely and badly. —

I would gladly have voted for Roose, but since Goethe wants nothing more to do with the matter, I, too, will stay completely out of it!

Goethe’s answer is a bit strange. [25] “Barbaric land” — “crossroads” — what I have seen of other countries was at least that barbaric, and a monument belongs in the open air, under the open sky; and whenever we happen to encounter one at such a crossroads, we are always gladdened by it. Truly, I do believe he wants to draw all art into the Weimar state. —

My own feeling is that precisely what he is suggesting would constitute “playing with one’s pain”; his magnificent “hall of remembrance” in Wilhelm Meister is similarly such a game. [26]

Really, I have no more extensive ideas for the monument than for a dress I might have picked out for the precious girl to adorn her graceful figure as beautifully as possible while she was yet alive — I am thinking really only of the pleasure she herself might have felt had she happened upon such a monument somewhere or other, indeed, at the peaceful, lonely place where she herself now rests. Hence let us stay with that but otherwise follow Meyer’s opinion.


I am an extremely pitiful child, with all sorts of pains and numbing pressure in my head — notwithstanding this is also vellum paper no less than yours. Heaven only knows whether the horses we have arranged will not have to return without having been used. [26a] Early the day after tomorrow, Galatin will be going to Berlin and will be bringing along the two handkerchiefs for you that are missing from the six.

Luise is acquainted with the charming young Herr Schütz, and similarly knows him as someone quite charming; he was in Göttingen the same time as Tiek, |88| and she once loaned him her clothes for a theater performance in which he played the daughter in the Cousin in Lisbon and also once the young painter in Babo’s piece. [27]

I am quite anxious to see your Romanze [28] — indeed, if you had had time and could have done The Eternal Jew [29] — surely you did not forget it, did you? — then you probably should take the prize from me. You announced all sorts of new gospels to me by Knioch and Mnioch. [30] What will that end up being? Will all of you not perhaps soon undertake a “census of your people”? I might almost have said that Friedrich has already undertaken something of that sort in his Herkules [31] — but you might not understand it as a jest, and my own weakness — regardless of what you may otherwise think of it — is that I am loathe to see you angry, my most amiable Wilhelm! Riddle of Bakis — yes, it is true, Seven go veiled etc. [32]

But seriously, I thought the elegy would deal quite specifically with Lessing — but you are right, what it expresses quite specifically is Friedrich Schlegel. Let me thank you for sending it along to me; you must not, however, ask me anything else about it now except that you are extremely kindly disposed toward me. You are also such in your wish to see Friedrich and Schelling brought closer together again.

Alas, my dear friend, do you even know whether Friedrich himself wishes it or even can wish it? Whether some things simply cannot be overlooked, ever? — I will be glad to extend my hand to Tiek in all respects, just not to force any artificial relationship where none at all can offer the same and even better service in that regard. It will make me very happy to be able to speak honestly with Tiek. Nor should you believe I ever suspected any ill-intentioned feelings he might have toward you and me — I always thought him incapable of such. [33]

|89| Do not excessively neglect Schleiermacher; you know how sensitive he is; invite him to Jena that I may finally see him and he me. I can well comprehend how time is running out from under your fingers. Did our wretched Fiorillo ever receive anything? [34]

The chaotic condition of the Berlin theater is indeed quite strange and can be the fault of no one but the director himself. So, the Weimar actors do constitute tout de bon [35] a better ensemble?

You still have much to tell me in person despite the long letters, which only provide a sketch. None arrived today, but neither was I expecting any. Address your next letter to Harburg; that way it will likely get to me more quickly. Nor should you imagine I can do without that letter any more easily on the banks of the Elbe. [36]

You could not even tell me whether the picture came out good?! I so wish for it to. In Berlin you will have the best opportunity to get it into a portfolio of Maroquin, where it will doubtless be best preserved. [37] Even if you do not go to Leipzig during the book fair, you will have to go there on account of the larger picture.

Friday morning [27 March]

I am feeling much better today, hence the trip is still on, though I will not really believe it until I see it, and even then not really; that is how little inclined I am. We are having a great deal of trouble with my mother because of her depression; in that regard, she is like my father. She has become very anxious because so much is about to happen, even because I am now departing, though she herself was the person who most strongly urged me to do so. [38]

By the time I see you again things will have calmed down and |90| all the various arrangements will have been implemented. Please do not remain away too long. [39] Stay healthy and also remain my good, dear friend.


[1] The Bursay theater company had recommenced performances in Braunschweig in March 1801 (see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe in early February 1801 [letter 285a], note 5). Concerning the Braunschweig theater’s lack of activity, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1–2 March 1801 (letter 293), note 14 with cross references. Back.

[2] Beaumarchais’s Eugénie, drame en cinq actes en prose (Avignon 1767) had premiered in Paris on 29 January 1767, “the story of a girl lured into a mock marriage by an English nobleman, who deserts her but finally repents of his misdeeds” (The Oxford Companion to French Literature, ed. Sir Paul Harvey and J. F. Heseltine [Oxford 1969], 56, s.v.Beaumarchais). Here the five illustrations from that first edition:





[3] I.e., Monsieur Galatin, rather than Mister Galatin (Galatin was from Geneva). Back.

[4] The female protagonist and daughter of the baron (earl) in the play. Back.

[5] See the anonymous correspondent in “Kultur der Musik in Braunschweig,” Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung 4 (1 October 1801–22 September 1802) 27 (31 March 1802), 441–46, here 443:

Two years ago, a certain Aurore Bursay arrived here to replace our former Italian opera with a French one. Her company consisted of 5 to 6 members but gradually became so numerous that she is now capable of performing at least two pieces each evening! —

Hardly 3 even moderately tolerable singers can be found among her members. Madame Bursay herself presumes to be the prima donna, and in this sense she does indeed make an indescribable impression, since she speaks in basso.

Although the company has greatly improved during these two years, not much can be said to commend it with respect to music. It is incomprehensible how it finds such active support of the sort that German companies, regardless of how much effort they made on behalf of art, were previously unable to attain. Perhaps French adeptness and the German predilection for things foreign is the answer to this riddle.

Mr. Le Gage is the musical director and an accomplished pianist. Demoiselle Sérigny is the prima donna. The orchestra consists of the royal orchestra but is, because it is weak, complemented by the Hautboisten [wind instruments]; but it includes quite worthy members and is currently an excellent ensemble.

And later that year another anonymous correspondent remarks in “Französische Bühne in Braunschweig,” Zeitung für die elegante Welt 2 (1802) 99 (Thursday, 19 August 1802), 795–96, here 796:

Mademoiselle Duquenoy and Madame Bursay distinguish themselves as singers. The latter is at once also a quite talented actress, though not versatile enough to compete with Mademoiselle Sérigny, who, by contrast, must rank behind her as a singer.

And finally Caspar Heinrich von Sierstorpff, husband of Caroline’s Braunschweig acquaintance Marie Sophie von Sierstorpff, remarks concerning the theater in Paris in his Bemerkungen auf einer Reise durch die Niederlande nach Paris im eilften Jahre der grossen Republik, 2 vols. ([Hamburg] 1804), 2:351:

The Feydeau Theater is the most handsome and pleasing in Paris, and is attended mostly by foreigners, since operettas and similar currently universally popular pieces are performed there. I myself saw Les deux journées there, — in which Madame Imberg performed the role of Comtesse d’Armand with a far better voice and yet on the whole not as well as Mademoiselle Sérigny in B*** [Braunschweig]. Back.

[6] Benjamin Osiander was the Göttingen physician involved in the death of Lotte Michaelis on 2 April 1793 after complications from childbirth. Concerning the circumstances and the resulting scandal, see Georg Tatter’s letter to Luise Michaelis on 27 April 1793 with note 1. Back.

[7] See the biogram of Philippine Hoppenstedt, née Böhmer, concerning her physical appearance. Back.

[8] Sunday, 29 March 1801. Back.

[9] Caroline had received a letter from Philipp Michaelis to this effect on 6 March 1801; see her letter to Wilhelm on that day (letter 296) with the editorial note and note 33. In her letter to Schelling on 6 March 1801 (letter 297), however, she was still planning on not making the journey. Back.

[10] Caroline arrived back in Braunschweig from this trip on 18 April 1801; her mother returned to Harburg with Philipp Michaelis. Back.

[11] Those plans concerned not only the trip to Harburg, during which Luise and Madam Michaelis stayed with friends and relatives in Celle, but especially also Caroline and Luise’s anticipated departure for Jena shortly thereafter (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[12] Ludwig Tieck was planning to come to Jena; the issue arose concerning where he was to stay, a contentious issue insofar as Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit had moved out of the apartment at Leutragasse 5 back in the autumn of 1800 and were hardly on speaking terms with Caroline once she returned to Jena. Back.

[12a] Although no floor plan of the house at Leutragasse 5 seems to be extant, click on the image below to open a gallery of illustrations of a typical mid-18th-century bourgeois residence of the sort to which Caroline was likely accustomed:



[13] Just how Caroline knows such specifics about Friedrich and Dorothea’s apartment is uncertain, since the latter moved only after Caroline herself had left Jena in May 1800, and Caroline had not been back to Jena in the meantime. Presumably Sophie Wiedemann had mentioned as much to her. Back.

[14] Friedrich Schlegel had received his doctorate in Jena on 17 August 1800 without further ado simply on the basis of his earlier writings on Greece. The traditional (and essentially obligatory) doctoral celebratory banquet to which Caroline is referring was the celebration Friedrich and Dorothea did indeed have on 15 March 1801 (after his public disputation on 14 March 1801) in the parlor of the house at Leutragasse 5.

Here an illustration, albeit from an earlier period, of a theology student being examined for his doctoral degree by professors from the Jena faculty (top illustration; the student is on the left, in the cape) and then celebrating his success at the traditional banquet with his friends (bottom illustration; frontispiece to Edmund Kelter, Jenaer Studentenleben zur Zeit des Renommisten von Zachariae, Supplement 5 to the Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissenschaftlich Anstalten, no. xxv, 1907 [Hamburg 1908]):


In the first scene, the professor on the right, with his finger in the air, asks the candidate whether he is a Wolffian, i.e., a follower of the Enlightenment as represented by the influential philosopher Christian Wolff, who although dismissed from Halle as a subversive, was subsequently reinstated only to arouse the ire of theologians yet again. The savvy student similarly raises his hand in emphasis and declares “May Wolff perish; long live Lange!” namely, Joachim Lange (1670–1744), a Pietist-leaning professor of theology in Halle.

At the doctoral banquet with his friends afterwards, he defiantly raises his glass and offers the toast, “Long live Wolff; may Lange perish!” In his own missive “To the Public” on 6 May 1805 (letter/document 393b), Schelling succinctly throws the distinction between the two into relief with respect to his own situation:

Every limited mind capable of dealing solely with artificial forms becomes a persecutor if he but disposes even seemingly over the requisite justification and means. The erstwhile Joachim Lange was such a priestish cleric who in his own time understood about as much about Wolffian philosophy as many, who resemble him not merely in this way, today understand about my own.

Dorothea writes from Jena to Clemens Brentano in Marburg on 13 March 1801 (KFSA 25:244):

What an annoying fuss all this business is with attaining the doctorate and with all the dear “bourgeois-ness”! it could not be more crazy were he to become First Consul [allusion to Napoleon on 9 November 1799]! The day after tomorrow, however, you really should be here, for we will have the most charming guests, including among others the woman acknowledged as being the most charming in all of Jena, and her husband. You really should have made plans to come.

Their use of Caroline’s residence and belongings continued to be an extremely sore point with Caroline after her return to Jena. Back.

[15] Here Caroline interestingly uses the Low German (or Low Saxon, where Braunschweig is located) term lütje (lütjet), from the same stem as “lite, little,” a term not otherwise occurring in her extant correspondence (Versuch eines bremisch-niedersächsischen Wörterbuchs, ed. Bremische Deutsche Gesellschaft, vol. 3: L–R [Bremen 1768], 106–7). Back.

[16] Concerning Friedrich’s scandalous disputation — in which he took a considerably harder and less accommodating position than the student in the illustration above — see supplementary appendix 303.1. For Caroline’s further account of the disputation, see her letter to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322). Back.

[17] Friedrich’s theses were published as De Platone. Dissertatio critica cui adiectas theses . . . pro venia legendi publice defendet A. D. 14. Martii Auctor Car. Guil. Frid. Schlegel Philosophiae doctor respondente Friderico Astio Gothano. Jenae ex officina Frommanni et Wesselhöftii. Caroline’s parody (translations of the Latin from Lisa Roetzel, in Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings, ed. Jochen Schulte-Sasse [Minneapolis 1997], 454–55):

|584| 6. Parody of Friedrich Schlegel’s Habilitation Theses 1801

I. Platonis philosophia genuinus est Idealismus.
[Plato's philosophy is genuine Idealism.]
My philosophy is the only true idealism.

II. Realismi majores sunt partes in Idealismo producendo quam Dualismi.
[Realisms are greater parts than Dualisms in producing Idealism.]
It contains, moreover, a great many parts of realism and also several of dualism.

III. Philosophia moralis est subordinanda politicae.
[Moral philosophy is to be subordinated to political philosophy.]
Philosophical morality is to be subordinated to political morality.

IV. Enthusiasmus est principium artis et scientiae.
[Enthusiasm is the origin of art and science.]
The imagination is the origin of my arts and sciences.

V. Poesis ad rempublicam bene constituendam est necessaria.
[Poesy is good and necessary in constituting the state.]
Poesy is necessary that everything might be mixed together.

VI. Mythologia est allegorice interpretanda.
[Interpreting mythology is allegorical.]
Mythology can be interpreted however one pleases.

VII. Kanti interpretatio moralis evertit fundamenta artis criticae.
[The moral interpretation of Kant overthrows the foundation of critical art.]
|585| Proper explanations must turn the foundation of things upside down.

VII. Non critice sed historice est philosophandum.
[Philosophizing is not critical but historical.]
One must philosophize not coherently, but in fragments. Back.

[18] Wilhelm (and by proxy: Caroline) had ceased contributing reviews to the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung back in the summer 1799. That said, they would not have reviewed the same materials as Paulus in any case, since they were involved in reviews of belles lettres, he in religious, biblical, and historical studies. Back.

[19] “Weimarisches Redoute am 30. Januar 1801,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 16 (1801) 2 (February), 103–13, an account of the masked ball in Weimar on 30 January 1801 celebrating the birthday of Duchess Luise of Sachsen-Weimar. Back.

[20] Anonymous engraving, late 18th-century:


Probably a simple voltaic pile, a primitive battery capable of providing a sustained electrical current, the explanation for which Alessandro Volta had published in 1800; his experiments in turn were based on the work of Luigi Galvani in the 1780s.

The Laubthaler coin was among the metals some scientists stacked in the requisite alternating pairs. Johann Wilhelm Ritter had also been experimenting with these concepts, using Laubthaler in precisely the same way.

Here voltaic piles — contemporary with Caroline’s letter — being used in experiments to connect the heads of separate cadavers and parts of a single cadaver. As seen later in this correspondence, revivification or reanimation was one of the goals of such experiments. Illustrations from Jean Aldini, Essai théorique et expérimental sur le galvanisme: avec une série d’expériences faites en présence des commissaires de l’Institut National de France, et en divers amphitéatres anatomiques de Londres (Paris 1804), plate 4, following p. 398:


Caroline is gently poking fun at how many Laubthaler it would take to construct such a battery. Back.

[21] Unknown allusion; perhaps Wilhelm had lost his voice because of the head cold Caroline goes on to mention. Back.

[22] Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland had been a professor of medicine in Jena since 1793 but had just accepted an appointment in Berlin. The question in Jena became who would replace him.

Although Andreas Röschlaub had been considered, opposition arose. In her letter to Wilhelm on 20 April 1801 (letter 310) Caroline mentions that Justus Christian Loder was intent on bringing in Karl Gustav Himly, though shortly thereafter the duke allegedly decided not to fill the position at all (Caroline to Wilhelm, 27 April 1801, letter 312).

Although Himly did eventually get the position, it was likely against Goethe’s wishes; Schelling in the meantime was lobbying for Carl Eschenmayer apparently with Goethe’s imprimatur; see Schelling to Eschenmayer from Jena on 8 May 1801 (Plitt 1:331; Fuhrmans 2:316–17):

I thought about you a great deal last winter. You already know about Hufeland’s departure. His position has still not been filled. Although it was quite natural to think of friend Röschlaub, virtually everyone here opposes that idea. Other circumstances have in the meantime conspired to prevent the position from being filled at all for the time being, which is in fact to be viewed as a true bit of good fortune, since otherwise we would surely have been afflicted by yet more mediocrity. —

In the meantime, however, the good cause can yet gain strength, and I do not deny how very often I myself have wished that you might be inclined to enter this career. It would be much more likely that you would be appointed than Röschlaub — and for this reason I would at least like to know your thoughts on whether you might want to sever your ties to your fatherland — and enter into this new situation here, which, I can assure you, you would quickly find both pleasant and desirable.

I will not go into detail about what you could and would mean for science here. I am in a position to take certain steps toward realizing this goal as soon as I am but assured of your own concurrence. You would find a good many friends here. Your review of Hufeland has elicited admiration everywhere. It has been found to be refined, clear, profound, and annihilating in the most polite way.

Goethe knows you and respects you. In a word: it is not at all impossible that you might get the appointment; and it is quite certain that, if other, particular circumstances do not otherwise play a determining role, you would find yourself in an extremely desirable position here that is quite commensurate with both your intellect and character.

Caroline and Schelling were both in Weimar on 2 May, where they saw Goethe in the theater at the performance of Mozart’s Don Juan (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 [letter 313]), then Goethe himself was in Jena 5–6 May (his diary, Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:13, records only his arrival), where he spent the entire morning of 6 May 1801 with Schelling (Caroline to Wilhelm on 7 May 1801 [letter 314), possibly discussing Hufeland’s vacated position and perhaps prompting Schelling’s letter to Eschenmayer. Back.

[23] Andreas Röschlaub, Magazin zur Vervollkommnung der Medizin 6 (1801) 1.

Caroline’s meaning here is unclear, since in the first issue (of two) of this journal for 1801, Röschlaub engages in extensive and at times derisive criticism of Hufeland, esp. in the article “Siebente Fortsetzung der Beleuchtung der Einwürfe gegen die Erregungstheorie,” 37–64, in which he takes Hufeland to task at considerable and detailed length for the latter’s critique of the Brunonian method (see Wilhelm’s letter to Johann Diederich Gries on 16 March 1800 [letter 258r], note 5).

Later in the same issue, he similarly mentions Hufeland derogatorily in the articles “Was hat die Medizin als Kunst durch Loders Journal bisher gewonnen?” 177–87; “Einige Worte über Herrn Hufelands Journal, und besonders einige Aufsätze in demselben,” 217–21; and “Noch einige Worte über Herrn Hufelands Journal, und besonders über den ersten Aufsatz im vierten Stück des eilften Bandes desselben,” 221–24 (Röschlaub does not seem to mention Hufeland in issue 2).

Perhaps the point is that Röschlaub paid excessive attention to Hufeland, though given the biting nature of Röschlaub’s critique such seems unlikely. In any event, at least in this journal Röschlaub nowhere “irresponsibly pays homage” to Hufeland; the occasional acknowledgement of Hufeland is consistently countered by a fundamental element of polemic

Concerning the dispute with Justus Christian Loder (“Was hat die Medizin als Kunst durch Loders Journal bisher gewonnen?”) and August von Kotzebue in the rejoinder “Auch noch etliche Worte an den Herrn A. von Kotzebue,” Magazin zur Vervollkommnung der Medizin 6 (1801) 2:435–42, and “Avis ans Publikum und Herrn von Kotzebue vom Doktor X.,” Magazin zur Vervollkommnung der Medizin 6 (1801) 2:443–54, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326). Back.

[24] Apparently during their stay in Bamberg during the summer and autumn of 1800. Back.

[25] Wilhelm had queried both Goethe and Heinrich Meyer concerning a memorial for Auguste to be done by Johann Gottfried Schadow. Goethe addressed the issue in his letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 2 March 1801 (letter 294a), advising rather coolly that urns be exhibited only for the circle of family and friends, not for “spa guests and sanctimonious clergymen.”

He also considered it “sinful for a work of art that is to be good and beautiful be relegated to a barbaric land, outdoors, especially during the present age, when one cannot even know to whom the real estate will belong next year.” Similarly, “our own homes and properties are by no means so rich in art that we are constrained to push such formative works outside and place them at public crossroads.” Heinrich Meyer’s written opinion is not extant. Back.

[26] Caroline is alluding to Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, book 8, chapter 8, which recounts Mignon’s obsequies in the “Hall of the Past” (Caroline cites from memory as “hall of remembrance”).

Mignon is the enigmatic, boyish, erotically attractive girl in the novel who proves to be the harpist’s child, and who sings several signature songs in the novel, e.g., Know’st thou the land where the lemon tree blows; here in an illustration from Goethe’s Works, vol. 1: Life of Goethe, Poems, ed. George Barrie (Philadelphia 1885), following p. 60:


See also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 20 May 1795 (letter 150), note 16.

Justifiably piqued at Goethe’s remarks, Caroline deftly picks up on the bizarre and in some respects, at least in her opinion and in the present context, tasteless nature of the scene.

Nor is Caroline alone in her uneasiness. See Mary E. Nutting, “The Over-Estimation of Goethe,” The Andover Review 12 (1889) July–December, 36–59, here 47–50 (illustration: Goethe’s Works, ed. Hjalmar Jhorth Boyesen [Philadelphia 1885], vol. 4, plate following p. 364):

The introduction of Mignon and of the picturesque harper [into the action of the novel] is felicitous to a degree, and we are in a manner indignant when we consider what a thread of gold running through the whole their story might have been, had not Goethe so ruined it at the close. . . . William Meister, alas! is one of those books which steadily diminish in interest to the close. . . .

What we chiefly deplore is his [Goethe’s] subsequent handling of the exquisite theme of Mignon and the harper. From our childhood we have known of this Mignon, her wondrous song has exercised upon us its weird fascination. If we have waited for full acquaintance till time and opportunity should enable us to cultivate it in the picturesque original, bitter will be our disappointment. . . .

We do not complain, indeed, that poor little Mignon should end her mortal life, seeming, as she does, scarcely a creature of mortal mould. But the theatric preparation of her dead body, the sort of travesty of a burial service in the Hall of the Past, her identification by the crucifix tattooed upon her arm, the story of her origin, on whose head of horror horrors accumulate — Mignon is the child of a terrible sin, assuredly; but it is difficult to see why it should be visited upon her with this sort of expiation. . . .


And what, we have a right to ask, has there been in the first meeting of Mignon and the harper with William, and their idyllic wanderings with him, which could possibly forebode such a termination?

More and more, as we have become further acquainted with the works of Goethe, have we been impressed by the theatric quality, theatric, that is, in the sense [viz., of “excessively emotional and dramatic behavior”] in which this term has come to be used in distinction from dramatic, in the large and vital sense. . . .

And it is curious that the further we remove from the theatre and the play-actors [as the backdrop and characters in the novel], the more we have of this theatric quality. We are most outraged by the parade of the dead Mignon.

The strange scene and tableau from the novel are worth citing in full to illuminate these and Caroline’s remarks and not least Caroline’s annoyance; see supplementary appendix 303.2. Back.

[26a] That is, the horses arranged for the journey to Harburg (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Ein polnischer Pferdestall,” Von Berlin nach Danzig: Eine Künstlerfahrt im Jahre 1773, von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den Originalen in der Staatl. Akademie der Künste in Berlin, mit erläuterndem Text und einer Einführung von Wolfgang von Oettingen [Leipzig 1923], plate 7):



[27] It is unclear in what context Caroline and Wilhelm are here speaking about Schütz. He had in any case completed his Habilitation in Jena at the end of 1800 with the piece Dissertatio de vera historiae catholicae idea ejusque conscribendae praeceptis et experimentis (Jena 1801) and had begun working closely with his father on the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (ADB), Gottlieb Hufeland having withdrawn from his co-editorship earlier.

Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, Der Vetter in Lissabon. Ein Familien-Gemälde in drey Aufzügen (Frankfurt, Leipzig 1786); Joseph Marius von Babo, Die Maler. Lustspiel in einem Aufzug (Munich 1776, 1783; Berlin 1793), the latter a military drama. Back.

[28] Wilhelm’s “Fortunat. Romanze” in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 243–50 (Sämmtliche Werke 1:229–34), a ballad in which a nocturnal rider on a horse, accustomed to visiting sometimes this, sometimes that lover at night, and on his way to see his “Lila,” goes astray into a suddenly unfamiliar region where he discovers a dense overgrowth of roses that conceals a secret to his past. For the text, see the supplementary appendix on “Fortunat.” Back.

[29] “Die Warnung. Romanze,” Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 52–58 (Sämmtliche Werke 1:223–28), in which the eternally wandering Jew meets boisterous young men in a tavern who taunt him and become angry at his glare, but to whom he tells his story, disappearing thereafter (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Bibliothek der Romane: Volks-Romane. Beschluß des immer in der Welt herumirrenden Judens [1785]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [5-323]):


See the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm Schlegel’s “Warnung: Romanze.” See esp. also Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 14 April 1801 (letter 307) and 7–8 May 1801 (letter 314). Back.

[30] Caroline is here imitating biblical language.

Wilhelm and Ludwig Tieck corresponded concerning Johann Jakob Mnioch, whose ambitious cycle “Hellenik und Romantik” in hexameters, distichs, stanzas, and terza rimas they published in their Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 221–34. Back.

[31] Friedrich’s lengthy elegy “Herkules Musagetes,” published in the Charakteristiken und Kritiken, 1:271–81 (Jugendschriften, 2:429–31), was intended as an addendum to the already finished essay on Lessing (“Ueber Lessing,” Lyceum der schönen Künste 1, no. 2 [Berlin 1797], 76–128).

The elegy, which in 1809 was interestingly abridged to tone it down, acknowledges “the foremost of the age, in the midst of battle and at the goal,” mentioning and extolling:

  • Lessing and Goethe together (“who established the culture of the Germans”);
  • Johann Joachim Winckelmann (“a worthy source were you, sainted Winckelmann”); and then moving on to his friends (“O, how gladly I confess that I need friends!”), including
  • Fichte (“divinely unconscious, in destruction, you, Fichte, came down from above, / Lightning in the midst of the people, then quickly cloaked by clouds”);
  • Ludwig Tieck (“God gave you grace, and the profundity of artistic poesy, Tiek, inventive friend; your works proclaim you loudly”);
  • Wilhelm (“my brother, / Who in sound style artistically mixes all colors, / Weaving touching sadness and beauty in ardent lament”);
  • Johann Wilhelm Ritter (“divine Ritter!”);
  • Schleiermacher (“with you / Was I once determined to become one, and did quickly, lovingly embrace you / Orator of religion”;
  • Friedrich von Hardenberg (“earlier Novalis, you as well”);
  • and describes his own ideals and development, acknowledging at the same time that “Sincerely did I tease the small, whom I did not spare: / Hence that the rabble hates me, yes, that have I truly merited. / Yet cordial do I remain.”
  • Back.

    [32] Goethe’s Weissagungen des Bakis (1800), intended as a kind of calendar offering a prophecy for each day of the year); here no. 7:

    Seven go veiled, and seven with uncovered faces,
    The people fear the former, as do even great men.
    But it is the others, the traitors! examined by no one;
    For the mask of their own face conceals the rogue. Back.

    [33] Compare, however, Tieck’s letter to his sister, Sophie Bernhardi, and brother-in-law, August Ferdinand Bernhardi, on 6 December 1799 (letter 257c), and his letter to Friedrich Schlegel on 23 April 1801 (letter 310b). Back.

    [34] Concerning Wilhelm’s role in the publication of Johann Dominik Fiorillo’s Geschichte der zeichnenden Künste von ihrer Wiederauflebung bis auf die neuesten Zeiten, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 February 1801 (letter 290), note 11, and on 27 February 1801 (letter 292). Caroline similarly mentions this issue in her letter to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 (letter 301). Back.

    [35] Fr., “in earnest, seriously.” Back.

    [36] John Luffman, The River Elbe from Cuxhaven to Hamburg in 1801 (London 1802) (David Rumsey Historical Map Collection):


    For Caroline’s travel itinerary, see her letter to Wilhelm on 5–6 March 1801 (letter 296), note 33. Back.

    [37] Taschenbuch von Maroquin, for Fr. portefeuille en maroquin, (or simply maroquin, for “minister’s portfolio), portfolio of Moroccan leather, often of red leather (the following originally belonged to Auguste François Louvel [1765–1843], French navy officer at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century [retired in 1817]; auction house Thierry de Maigret):


    Caroline is presumably referring to the picture of Auguste Caroline mentions to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 16 March 1801 (letter 301) and that the Tischbeins would send to him in Berlin; see note 31 there (also with respect to the “larger picture” Caroline here goes on to mention). Back.

    [38] König. Gros-Britt. Genealogischer Kalender auf das Jahr 1784; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


    Not only the trip to Harburg was looming for Madam Michaelis (who did not be return immediately to Braunschweig, proceeding on to Harburg to stay with Philipp Michaelis), but also the departure from Braunschweig of Caroline, Luise, and Emma Wiedemann, who were going to Jena, and Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann, who was traveling to France; the Wiedemanns did not return to Braunschweig until early October 1801. Back.

    [39] Wilhelm did not return to Jena or see Caroline again until 11 August 1801. Back.

    Translation © 2015 Doug Stott