Letter 319

• 319. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 31 May–1 June 1801

[Jena] 31 May [–1 June 1801]

|156| Although I do indeed have a great deal of time, it is by far not as much as you think, since everything I do takes so much time given my weakened condition, to which in the future let us instead refer as my “fragility,” since that sounds better. Sometimes I am as immobile as a plant, and I am sure that externally one cannot even discern that I am breathing, living, loving. But I do want to write you today; and please write and tell me how long all this writing is going to continue.

Cécile was here for one day this week, and today Julchen arrived almost unannounced and extremely crestfallen not to have found you here as well. She is counting on staying here for a while, [1] and I for my part would like to keep her as my domestic daughter, since although I am keen on being quite exact in my housekeeping and such, I often cannot get up and down the stairs fast enough. Luise, moreover, has taken to being lazy here, something I do, however, gladly grant her, since it might perhaps result in her having a more graciously relaxed disposition. I would not, I confess, be able to stand having Cécile’s sickly nature around me all the time, whereas Julchen is a healthy child, and is my noble white rose alongside my other Rose, whom you, of course, also know.

You will not find the old master here when you arrive, not even were you to sprout wings and fly here. He was here for 2 days to see Jena once more, and otherwise truly did not see anything here but Jena and Schelling. [2] He will be going to Pyrmont for 7 to 8 weeks, and I do hope the mineral baths will perform royally again. He is quite cheerful and lively. I had someone tell him not to miss Söder, since this will presumably be the only time he gets to Lower Saxony; he graciously accepted the reminder. [3] Friedrich Tiek |157| will now miss seeing him. Why did he not come at the right time? Wiedemann visited him and wrote on 8 May that he would be departing in “approximately” 2 weeks; but who can say how long 2 weeks will “approximately” last? [4]

(A whole river of ink just spilled out onto my paper, and I had to cut off half the above sheet, since a page with nothing but pure ink on it would constitute an extremely uncultivated letter. Do not scold; it was caused by my excessive fragility.)

We came up with a motto for the Crystal Clear Report ***:

Doubt thou the sun’s lucidity,
Doubt even the stars’ bright light,
But my truth, dear reader, doubt not,
Nor your own stupidity.

The basic idea was Schelling’s, the last line mine. Schelling related it to Goethe, who, greatly delighted, immediately had someone fetch the Crystal Clear Report itself that he might, as he put it, allow himself to be maltraité by Fichte for a couple of hours. [5]

We just entertained ourselves a bit with Reinhold’s 2nd issue. [6]

When Friedrich is able to justify himself, he has no problem opening his mouth quite wide indeed, as one can see from the enclosure. [7] You really did miscalculate somewhat. But do not let it bother you. —

I am waiting for your next letter so I will have a clearer understanding of the matter with Unger. [8] So, after having behaved so coarsely and crudely with you, he is now giving the benefit in turn to Tiek and Friedrich? How abominable that one must deal with such people. I do not want to discuss this back and forth superfluously. Just let me know specifically how far we here are permitted to go in making our own arrangements. —

Although Nicolovius was here for two days with his wife, I did not see him; [9] they were always taking one excursion or the other here in the surrounding area with the Frommans, |158| and Fromman himself seems to have developed a commensurate sacred awe toward me and is disinclined to get too close. Bohn is also here but is in bed with podagra. [10] So much for the goings-on of the booksellers.

Although Friedrich has already sent one basket full of books, I am for now still missing Hemsterhuys and Tiek’s Donquixote, [11] though I do not intend to ask for them until I have gotten all the books arranged. Perhaps I will remember others that are missing as well. —

I am quite pleased that you intend to demand the letter now without any further discussion. [12] Had you but written that he should send it to you sealed, out of consideration for him. In any event, you are certainly free to break it open as far as I am concerned. How clever it would be were he to allege it had been torn or incinerated.

From what I have heard, Madam Veit was already sick in Leipzig. Two days after their return, however, when I sent Rose over there, they — both of them — were in Weimar, so she must have gotten sick again since then. [13] Gries related that she had lost all her teeth and wanted to have new ones put in while they were in Leipzig, which in its own turn caused her to come down with nervous fever. —

I actually do not have Gries tell me things too often now, my breast cannot much endure his conversation, since he does not have much to relate in any case. [14] But because I had declined his visitations several times, we formally invited him over for an evening this week during which we assaulted him with so much wit that he no longer knew where his head was, assuring us that, except for an evening at the masked ball in Weimar where Schelling allegedly teased everyone with the Ehrenpforte, he had not felt that off balance the entire winter. [15] — Although he is bitterly ashamed of associating with the Frommans, he is nonetheless still inclined to eat, drink, and be flattered there. [16]

|159| Steffens just finished a book on the earth that he dedicated to Goethe, albeit not without parenthetic dashes. Goethe graciously acknowledged not only the courtesy, but also the content of the book. [17] Steffens was in Bamberg and was greatly feted, as one physician wrote to someone here. There are now over 80 of the latter there, and no doubt Schelling was responsible for attracting many for them.

With Marcus leading the way, they gave Steffens a proper fête at which they also toasted both the philosophy of nature and the theory of excitation. [18] Madam Paulus was there, and the ladies seemed quite intoxicated with Bamberg itself. Caroline is performing with the private theater there. I want to hear nothing of it. This child, who without the slightest spark of poesy is being driven into this eccentric career, and the mother with her vacant restlessness — they pain and repulse me, the more so on the sacred ground on which they make such an asinine spectacle of themselves. [19]

June 1

Philipp writes that under the present circumstances he himself will need the money from Hufeland but merely does not really know how to have it paid out. [20]

I sent Succow the 4 louis d’or along with a nicely worded billet. That was necessary because I had to have Kilian come, in part for me and in part for the cook (who I feared had dysentery), and Succow could have mentioned the earlier debt had he learned about it. [21]

In the meantime, I will continue to leave the money for the Niethammers alone. They do not need it now, since they are now wealthy people, have bought the estate in Wenigenjena, and are sitting out there now in their own manure. Indeed, they loaned out 30,000 fl. in cash |160| to the provincial states in Swabia. Hence Niethammer can now dispense with philosophy just as it long ago dispensed with him. [22] By contrast, however, Madam Niethammer’s health is so bad that they are seriously fearing for her. —

Just please do pay Hufeland as soon as you can. His wife has once again become a bit crazy.

As far as the hymnal is concerned that Hardenberg had, would it not be better for you to inquire concerning it on your way through Weissenfels? [23] You will, after all, be seeing Sidonie.

Theirs is a shattered family now. As it turns out, the 12-year-old boy who drowned last summer genuinely did throw himself into the river — though no one knows of any reason why he should do such a thing, nor had anyone noticed anything unusual about him except an aversion to all learning. [24]

Is something of the novel yet going to be published? [25] — Tiek’s inactivity greatly concerns me. If only he will do what is appropriate for the Allmanach. [26]

I myself would like to do something to earn some money. I intend to see whether Wiedemann cannot refer something to me from Paris. [27]

All of you will be seeing Brinkmann in Berlin again, and in general “German Paris,” namely, the Humbolds. [28]

So that was the situation with the Mädchen von Orleans? [29] Aha! — The actors will not start performing again before the first of October and until then will be in Lauchstedt and Rudolstadt. [30] — By the way, I was no longer really interested at all, since I thought I already knew everything.

Voss will be coming here. There is a certain younger Voss studying in Halle with whom Gries spoke and who told Gries, among other things, that his father genuinely preferred your translation of the Spindle both to his own and to that of Eschen. [31] Gries believes that your amende honorable will make an impression on Voss. [32] Gries also heard for certain from the aforementioned younger Voss that Bothe is indeed the author of the Gigantomachie. —

Gries is beside himself because you wrote such negative things about Ossian, which had provided such support for him during his hours of emotional distress. I calmed him down. [33]

Schelling sends his regards — he is lecturing again and is not at all healthy — double reason merely to send regards this time.

It would really be something if Schelling could have gone to Pyrmont with Goethe.

Stay very well.


[1] Julie Gotter remained with Caroline in Jena until mid-March 1802. The girls had come from Gotha to Weimar, where Cäcile was receiving artistic training (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Goethe arrived in Jena early on 27 May 1801 and returned to Weimar early on 30 May 1801, meeting with Schelling at 11 am on 28 May and then again on 29 May (on the latter day also with Friedrich Schlegel) (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:14). Back.

[3] Concerning the location of Söder Chateau, see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 15–24 October 1800 (letter 272), note 15. Caroline, Wilhelm, and Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann had visited the estate during late October 1800. See letter 272 just mentioned as well as the gallery on Caroline at Söder Chateau.

That said, Pyrmont is located ca. 315 km northwest of Weimar, Söder ca. 210 km northwest of Weimar, 16 km southeast of Hildesheim, and ca. 85 east of Bad Pyrmont; it was, however, quite out of the way, and not a postal station (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Goethe’s trip to Pyrmont did not take him to Söder, though Schelling had drawn up the route for him. Back.

[4] That is, Christian Rudolph Wilhelm Wiedermann had visited Friedrich Tieck in Paris. Concerning Wiedemann’s route, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), with note 20.

Wilhelm had been negotiating with Friedrich Tieck to do a memorial and bust for Auguste. See Tieck’s letter to Wilhelm from Paris on 24 April 1801 (letter 311b), and the cross references to previous letters and materials in note 1 there; also Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 (letter 317), note 1.

Tieck did indeed come to Weimar in the autumn of 1801 to do work on the castle renovations, beginning in earnest in June 1802 after a brief stay back in Berlin (castle illustrations from Wilhelm Bode, Damals in Weimar [Weimar 1912], 44, 47, 48):




He arrived in Weimar in early September 1801, dined with Goethe on 6 September, and met with Goethe almost daily during late September and the first half of October (Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], 22). Back.

[5] Maltraité (Caroline uses the loan verb maltraitiren), Fr. “mistreat, abuse.

These verses on Fichte’s Sonnenklarer Bericht an das grössere Publikum über das eigentliche Wesen der neuesten Philosophie. Ein Versuch den Leser zum Verstehen zu zwingen (Berlin 1801) (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 [letter 317]: “We have the Sonnenklarer Bericht — but do tell, what is it that drives Fichte to cast his doctrine and teaching down at people’s feet like a sack of wool and then to pick it up and throw it down in front of them yet again?”) were modeled after Hamlet act 2, scene 2 (Polonius reads a note from Hamlet to Ophelia; text: Shakespeare Complete Works, ed. W. J. Craig [London: Oxford, 1966]):

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love. Back.

[6] Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Beyträge zur leichtern Uebersicht des Zustandes der Philosophie beym Anfange des 19. Jahrhunderts 2 (Hamburg 1801); concerning the dispute with Reinhold, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 (letter 317), note 30. Back.

[7] Apparently not extant. Back.

[8] See Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 (letter 309) and supplementary appendix 309.1 concerning this quarrel. Back.

[9] Friedrich Nicolovius in Königsberg was publishing Wilhelm’s and Friedrich’s Charakteristiken und Kritiken; he and his wife had just married and may have been in Jena on their honeymoon, something arguably suggested as well by the reference to excursions in the next sentence. Back.

[10] Johann Friedrich Bohn had published Dorothea Veit’s novel Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Leipzig 1801), and was married to Johanna Frommann’s sister. Back.

[11] Tieck’s translation of Cervantes’s Leben und Thaten des scharfsinnigen Edlen Don Quixote von la Mancha, 4 vols. (Unger: Berlin 1799–1801). Caroline had complained about missing books and other items from the apartment at Leutragasse 5 very soon after having returned to Jena from Braunschweig on 23 April 1801. Back.

[12] Concerning this “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.

[13] Dorothea had departed for Leipzig ca. 20 April 1801, Friedrich had departed Jena to pick her up there on 7 May 1801, and the two had then arrived back in Jena on 10 May 1801. Back.

[14] Conversation as written (in French) in original. Back.

[15] Concerning how Gries spent the winter and spring of 1800–1801 after his return to Jena from Bamberg with Schelling, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 April 1801 (letter 312), note 14. Back.

[16] Johann Diederich Gries remained one of the most faithful of friends of the Frommann family, speaking fondly of them in his letters; see Aus dem Leben J. D. Gries. Back.

[17] Henrich [sic] Steffens, Beyträge zur inneren Naturgeschichte der Erde (“Contributions to the interior natural history of the earth”), vol. 1 (Freyberg 1801). Caroline is referring to the deferential — “parenthetic” — “dashes” in the text of Steffens’s dedication:


I am so bold to dedicate to you the answers nature herself has given to my queries. The natural scientist may well refute this or that in these pages, and a discerning observer correct much that is found here. Every reader will raise this or that objection, and many will be quite right in doing so.

But solely the single spirit that in fact created my views has the right to eradicate them. It will surely endure — and my own work along with it? — have I succeeded in perhaps disclosing individual tones from nature that coincide with its eternal harmonies? — will that which I have sown with quiet industry, and curated with reverent care, also grow into the plant of a nobler nature? —

That is what I hope to experience by offering up — with sacred reticence — my work — in the Delphic temple of a more sublime poesy.

His letter to Goethe informing the latter of the dedication, and the draft of Goethe’s own cordial response, can be found in Goethe und die Romantik 1:274–76:

Freyberg, 30 April 1801

I have been so bold as to provide an unmerited enhancement for my publication by invoking the name of Your Esteemed Sir. When I finished my work, a natural bit of self-deception made me believe that what was produced through so much effort could not escape the approval of him whose assessment in indeed the loftiest. Vanity is the support of delicate youthful merit.

It is for you alone to determine whether such boldness, as easily understandable as it may well be, is also pardonable. It is with the deepest respect that I remain

Your Esteemed Sir’s
Most devoted servant,
H. Steffens

Goethe’s response reveals much about his attraction to the philosophy of nature as represented by Schelling and others (letter draft):

Every confidence you might have demonstrated to me privately would have pleased me. All the more so is that the case with the public honor you have shown me, and I extend to you my warmest gratitude for having thereby acknowledged me as your colleague. I will diligently read your book and also comment on it if time and circumstance allow.

People generally are of one mind that our observation of nature challenges us to reflect, and that its fullness similarly prompts us to come up with various methodologies if we are to manipulate it even modestly. Only a much smaller circle, however, understands that our observation of nature awakens ideas to which we attribute the same element of certainty as we do to nature herself, indeed, an even greater element of certainty, ideas we can allow to guide us both when we seek as well as when we organize what we have found.

When I first embarked upon what was for me the only possible path for studying nature, I found myself utterly alone in the wide world. All the more pleasantly must I now, in my later years, consider myself rewarded in enjoying the company of younger men who are traversing precisely these regions with vigorous steps and in whose concurrence with me I may have an even purer trust now that you yourself come to me with unexpected treasures from completely strange regions and meet with me even without previous arrangements.

Please do send along news to me from time to time about your progress, and be assured of my ardent and sincere interest in your work.

Jena, 29 May 1801 Back.

[18] Steffens had accompanied Nikolaus Möller as far as Frankfurt on the latter’s journey to Paris during the spring of 1801 and on the way back visited Bamberg, where he was indeed festively received (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Von Berlin nach Danzig. Eine Künstlerfahrt im Jahre 1773 von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den Originalen in der Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Mit erläuterndem Text und einer Einführung von Professor Dr. W[olfgang] von Oettingen [Berlin, Amsler & Ruthardt, Kunsthändler o.J. [1883], plates 94):


For his touching account of the episode, see supplementary appendix 319.1. Back.

[19] In 1780, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki did a series of tongue-in-cheek examples of excessive or exaggerrated social behavior, on the one hand, and appropriate or seemly social behavior, on the other; the following illustrates a couple making a spectacle of themselves through exaggerrated sentimentality or emotion (Almanac de Goettingen pour l’année 1780; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Auguste was supposed to have performed the role of Nina the previous summer in Bamberg but was apparently prevented from doing so by her death in July 1800. See Dorothea Veit’s letter to Auguste in June 1800 (letter 263), esp. note 2. Back.

[20] Caroline discusses this issue in her letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 (letter 317). This debt seems to have involved Hufeland’s treatment of Caroline during her prolonged illness during the spring of 1800. Caroline was hoping Philipp might get paid and loan the money to her in his own turn. She will mention the matter and her annoyance again in her letter to Wilhelm on 19 July 1801 (letter 326). Back.

[21] Caroline had not been feeling well over the past week; see the initial paragraph in her letter to Wilhelm on 25 May 1801 (letter 318), where she mentions almost having to summon Kilian earlier. Back.

[22] Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer was in very good financial shape after the death of his father-in-law on 22 December 1800. The latter had previously owned the estate in Wenigen-Jena across the Saale River, which he had purchased from its previous owner, and his daughter — Niethammer’s wife — inherited it after his death (excerpt from frontispiece map to Carl Schreiber and Alexander Fäber, Jena von seinem Ursprunge bis zur neuesten Zeit, nach Adrain Beier et al. [Jena 1850]; Wenigen-Jena is located to the northeast, across the river on the right):


Here an illustration from across the Saale River just behind (to the east of) Wenigen-Jena itself, the complex of buildings in the foreground. The Camsdorf Bridge across the Saale River to Jena is to the left; to visit Wenigen-Jena, one would cross over that bridge from Jena and then walk up alongside the river (Abbildung der Fürstlichen Saechsischen weltberühmten Universitaets-Stadt Jena, wie solche von Nordt-Ost anzusehen/gezeichnet und gestochen von Joh. Christoph Müller [Gera, 1748]):



[23] Uncertain reference, though Wilhelm had been queried by Ludwig Tieck concerning the whereabouts of several books after the latter’s departure from Jena in the summer of 1801, including a copy of the Bamberg Hymnal, responding to Tieck on 28 April 1801; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313), note 22. — Weissenfels lay on the return route from Berlin to Jena. Back.

[24] See Charlotte Ernst’s letter to Wilhelm in late January 1801 (letter 284a) and Caroline’s to Schelling on 13 February 1801 (letter 286). Here Weissenfels in 1907 situated on the Saale River (frontispiece to Friedrich Gerhardt, Geschichte der Stadt Weißenfels a. S. [Weißenfels 1907]):



[25] The reference is to Hardenberg’s unfinished and unpublished novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen, which Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Schlegel were intending to publish. A dispute had also arisen concerning whether Tieck would finish the novel. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 April 1801 (letter 312), note 22. Back.

[26] Wilhelm was experiencing trouble getting Ludwig Tieck to act on requests concerning the edition of Shakespeare (Tieck had been at the Leipzig book fair and was supposed to query publishers after Wilhelm’s quarrel with Friedrich Unger), and with respect to the publication of their Musen-Almanach (see Wilhelm’s letter to Tieck on 7 May 1801 [letter 313a] and Tieck’s rather brusque response in early June [letter 319a]). Back.

[27] Caroline is thinking about translation work from the French. Wiedemann himself translated numerous pieces esp. in the field of medicine. — Concerning Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann journey to France, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1–2 March 1801 (letter 293), note 12. Back.

[28] Karl Gustav von Brinckmann had visited the Schlegels in Jena in February 1798 on his way to his current diplomatic position in Paris (1798–1801). See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 21 February 1798 (letter 196). Brinckmann had socialized with Wilhelm von Humboldt in Paris as well as with Madame de Staël. Humboldt himself returned to Berlin during the summer of 1801. See esp. Wilhelm’s letter to Ludwig Tieck on 14 September 1800 (letter 267e), note 3. Back.

[29] Uncertain reference, though several of Caroline’s recent letters to Wilhelm have discussed Schiller’s play Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie. Possibly an allusion to Wilhelm’s attempts to arrange for Friederike Unzelmann to play the main role; see esp. Caroline’s letter to him on 11 May 1801 (letter 315). Concerning Friederike Unzelmann’s performances in Weimar during the autumn of 1801, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10. Back.

[30] Concerning the actors performance schedule outside Weimar, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 2. The 1801 summer season in Lauchstädt lasted from 21 June to 12 August 1801, and the 1801 late-summer season in Rudolstadt from 17 August to 15 September 1801, when the company then returned to Weimar. Back.

[31] A translation of Theocritus, “The Spindle [distaff],” (idyll no. 28) appeared in Athenaeum (1800) 216–18 in the original meter; the accompanying footnote about metrical considerations concludes with the remark: “Voss translated this piece in hexameters in the Musenalmanach of 1798″ (“Die Spindel,” Musenalmanach für das Jahr 1798, ed. Johann Heinrich Voss [Hamburg], 28–30). Eschen’s translation, “Die Spindel,” had appeared in Der Neue Teutsche Merkur (1799) no. 8 (August), 289–92 (illustration of woman with a distaff/spindle from William Smith, ed., Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 2nd ed.[London 1859], 365):


Here the English translation of M. J. Chapman, Greek Pastoral Poets. Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus (London 1836), 239–40:

The Distaff

Distaff! quick implement of busy thrift,
Which housewives ply, blue-eyed Athene's gift!
We go to rich Miletus, where is seen
The fane of Cypris 'mid the rushes green:
Praying to mighty Zeus for voyage fair,
Thither to Nicias would I now repair,
Delighting and delighted by my host,
Whom the sweet-speaking Graces love the most
Of all their favourites; thee, distaff bright!
Of ivory wrought with art most exquisite,
A present for his lovely wife I take.
With her thou many various works shalt make;
Garments for men, and such as women wear
Of silk, whose colour is the sea-blue clear.
And she so diligent a housewife is,
That ever for well-ankled Theugenis
Thrice in a year are shorn the willing sheep
Of the fine fleeces which for her they keep.
She loves what love right-minded women all;
For never should a thriftless prodigal
Own thee with my consent: 'twere shame and pity!
Since thou are of that most renowned city,
Built by Corinthian Archias erewhile,
The marrow of the whole Sicilian isle.
But in the house of that physician wise,
Instructed how by wholesome remedies
From human kind diseases to repel,
Thou shalt in future with Ionians dwell,
In beautiful Miletus; that the fame
For the best distaff Theugenis may claim,
And thou may'st ever to her mind suggest
The memory of her song-loving guest.
The worth of offering from friend we prize
Not in the gift but in the giver lies. Back.

[32] See Johnson’s (Revised) Universal Cyclopaedia, ed. Frederick A. P. Barnard and Arnold Guyot, vol. 1 (New York 1886), 110:

Amende Honorable, in French law, a form of infamous penalty to which criminals who offended against public decency or morality were condemned. The simple amende honorable consisted of a confession in open court made by a bareheaded and kneeling criminal. The amende honorable in figuris was made by a culprit kneeling in his shirt, with a torch in his hand and a rope round his neck. In modern speech the term is applied to a public recantation or apology.

(Illustration: Antoine Franç, Derues fait amende Honorable devant l’Eglise de N. Dame, étant en chemise, nue tête, nus pieds, la corde au col et tenant une torche du poids de deux livres, et déclare a haute voix ses infames forfaits dont il demande pardon à Dieu, au Roi et à la Justice, après il a été rompu vif et jetté au feu le 6. mai. 1777; Bibliothèque nationale de France):


The reference is to Wilhelm’s addendum to his earlier, extensive review of Johann Heinrich Voss, Homers Werke (Altona 1793). The review itself, now with the title “Homers Werke von Voss,” was reprinted in Charakteristiken und Kritiken 2:97–191, along with (for the first time) the addendum, ibid., 192–97, and it is to this publication that Caroline is referring here. For the text of this addendum and public apology, see supplementary appendix 319.2. Back.

[33] In his essay “Über Bürgers Werke,” in Charakteristiken und Kritiken 2:1–96, here 90 (Sämmtliche Werke 8:64–139, here 135), Wilhelm remarks the following concerning James Macpherson’s Ossian (concerning Ossian, see Caroline’s letter to Lotte Michaelis on 20 March 1786 [letter 67], note 11 and the project bibliography s.v. Macpherson):

In the meantime, this modern, sentimental, shapeless, patchwork, modern construction concerning whose absolute worthlessness I cannot express myself forcefully enough, can perhaps be put to some use after all. Since in our age it seems every poetically inclined youth must at one time or another get through a case of sentimental melancholy, I would suggest inoculating them with Ossian in the future. In this way, just as now one gets off with cowpox instead of small pox, the malady will be considerably less severe and of the shortest duration possible.

(Johann David Schubert and Johann Friedrich Bolt, illustration to Scenen aus der Familie Ehrenberg with the text “Ruhig sah der Kleine zu, als der Arzt ihm die Schutzpocken impfte,” Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1808 [Leipzig 1808], June, no. iv):



Translation © 2015 Doug Stott