Letter 312a

312a. Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 27 April 1801 [*]

[Jena] 27 April 1801

. . . Many thanks for going to the trouble to explain to me in such detail the annoying story involving Unger, since I, too, have a certain interest in it. [1] I immediately fulfilled your request with respect to Frommann, presenting it to him as positively as I could without making him a formal offer. [2] Unfortunately, he did not really seem interested, which does not surprise me insofar as at least for the time being he may well be as committed to new projects as his financial resources will allow. . . .

I just now received a letter from Tieck with the good news that Charlotte is again doing markedly better and is now completely out of danger. [3] He will probably not be coming for now. [4] . . .

For almost a week now, I have been alone and Dorothea in Leipzig. [5]

Karoline arrived here last Thursday evening. I gave her the keys to your room and desk. I also thought it necessary, since you still seem to be agnosticizing her as your wife, to pay her a visit. Although things went nicely enough from both sides, it was so frosty that I doubt I will repeat it any time soon unless there be some particular occasion or reason for doing so. [6] If you could send your romances to me, which I am inexpressibly eager to see, by some other route, I would be very much obliged. [7]

I also returned the piano to Karoline. [8] It was very unpleasant for me that she found various small kitchen items missing. Fortunately, they have already found most of the things there in the house itself, since we had sent everything over there beforehand. For since Dorothea was not here, and I have a new cook, I felt quite embarrassed about it. [9] . . .


[*] Sources: Walzel, 478–79; KFSA 25:265–66. Back.

[1] The reference is to Wilhelm’s dispute with the Berlin publisher Friedrich Unger with regard to Unger’s reprint of Wilhelm’s edition of Shakespeare without Wilhelm’s consent and indeed without his knowledge. See Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 (letter 309).

Friedrich’s interest in any quarrels with Unger were likely financial; see Caroline’s remarks in her letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313), and esp. Johann Daniel Sander to Karl August Böttiger on 25 September 1804, shortly before Friedrich’s Unger’s death on 26 December 1804 (Die Briefe Johann Daniel Sanders an Carl August Böttiger, vol. 4, ed. Bernd Maurach [Berlin 1993], 112):

You want to know why Herr Unger is pursuing Herr Friedrich Schlegel with a warrant? Schlegel has owed him 500 Thaler for 6 years now but has delivered nothing to pay it off except Alarcos.

Friedrich apparently never paid the debt. His play Alarcos (Berlin 1802) and its unsuccessful Weimar performance are discussed in connection with later letters. Back.

[2] Likely an offer for Frommann to take on the continued translation of Shakespeare. Back.

[3] See Ludwig Tieck’s letter to Friedrich on 23 April 1801 (letter 310b). Back.

[4] I.e., to Jena, a journey discussed during this spring of 1801 in various letters but never actualized. See Tieck’s reasons for postponing the visit in his letter to Friedrich on 23 April 1801 (letter 310b); see note 3 for additional cross references. Back.

[5] Dorothea was in Leipzig to have new teeth made. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 April 1801 (letter 311), esp. note 3 there. Back.

[6] For Caroline’s description of the visit, at which Schelling was present, see her letter to Wilhelm on 24 April 1801 (letter 311). Back.

[7] The reference is to Wilhelm’s adaptation of the legend of the wandering Jew, and “Fortunat.” Back.

[8] Concerning the piano, see Friedrich’s letter to Caroline on 24 April 1801 (letter 311a), note 1. Back.

[9] Concerning Caroline’s displeasure with the state of her household items and such, see her letters to Wilhelm on 24, 27 April and 5 May 1801 (311, 312, 313) ([1] Martin Engelbrecht; Augsburg, Städtische Kunstsammlung; [2] Anonymous, “Küche” [19th century]):



This issue remains an ongoing point of contention. In fact, Dorothea felt it necessary to defend herself — heatedly — to Wilhelm even after Caroline’s death, writing to him concerning precisely these issues from Vienna on 16 January 1810 (letter 453a). Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott