Letter 327

• 327. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 27 July 1801

[Jena] 27 July [1801]

|203| Your last letter came upon me in bed, and not in any natural way, but rather quite dreadfully and unnaturally, because of illness, and so you, too, became one of the hostile powers assaulting me.

I do not tell you this to soften your severe disposition, but merely to let you know how I am doing. The damp weather — admittedly an understatement considering the Primal Flood we have been experiencing, one that will perhaps rain out the harvest of an otherwise splendid year [1] — was undeniably the cause of my malady. I awoke one fine morning with an utterly swollen face, had to bathe with herbs, was extremely weak, and am still fairly so even now. Though also fairly content.

If you were annoyed by my letter no. 1, how |204| must you have fared with no. 2! [1a] I can promise you beforehand that I do not intend to respond again to your answer. Just as you said about yourself, I, too, wrote everything with the best of intentions, with purely good intentions, including with the best opinion of you. I cannot offer a long apology. I can but say quite briefly that not a single iota in all I wrote should have hurt your feelings.

In no way or form do I believe you are in the wrong toward Unger, and your determination in the matter pleases me more than any reestablishment of the sundered relationship would. [2] If I did not read Tiek’s letter in the right way, then you should have enclosed it for me. I could not guess what was in it. If it is the right one, then may the devil take him! for in that case Tiek is a proper scoundrel, though my own conviction does resist such a notion.

Are you two friends and yet still think that about each other? And if you are merely referring to each other as such, in the womb of a common church, well, art itself still needs a foundation of uprightness. So please write and relate to me what the final result of this dispute is. —

His views, moreover, did not influence me at all. It was purely fortuitous that all these bits of wisdom occurred to me that I unloaded before you. It is not that you find my wisdom rather stupid that I hold against you, but rather your mistrust, which generates such serious irritability. —

With regard to the announcement concerning Kotzebue: I do acknowledge — it was my own opinion and view of things that considers it superfluous [3] — why should I not say so? You will be robbing me of an astonishing measure of my genteelness and grace if you make me timid. It is your own loss.

You have probably already heard quite a bit more about the Bububu, since he did pass through Berlin. [4] He spent yesterday here. [5] The Frommans invited me and my housemates, |205| but I could not go, nor would I have gone even had I been able, since Fromman is such an impudent fellow. But the ladies did go simply to have some modest diversion. [6] Kotzebue had visited the Frommans and had come within a hair’s breadth of dining there — Loder had eaten lunch with him at Consistory Councilor Gruner’s, then just after 10:30 inquired whether he might yet attend on (would meet) Kotzebue at 7:00. —

Loder was just here this minute, in extreme haste, simply to check on how I was doing. You can imagine how he is burning with curiosity to get news from Petersburg; [7] that alone makes Kotzebue important. If the latter cannot get a large enough hotel in Weimar, he will return to Berlin and spend the winter there, though it is quite certain he will be spending the summer at his villa here. I hope you will also send me some news about him. The Frommans, quite in their traditional fashion, made a considerable fuss over and with him. [7a] It is a good thing I was not there. —

Cotta has not yet responded, but Fromman nonetheless does want to go ahead and begin with the printing and to that end will have someone pick up the manuscript from me during the next few days, since there is allegedly no longer any doubt about the matter. [8]

Concerning the trip to Berlin — no discord! My silly friend, how could you have forgotten that the word inexpedient or expedient was a cipher for us, partly because of the pedantic element attaching to it and partly because several ladies had appropriated it for themselves, e.g., Madam Schiller, Madam Nuys [9] — I underlined it in my letter just as I do when I use it in speech; there was absolutely no other “hidden meaning” behind it, and I certainly recognized how kind you were to offer me the trip, which admittedly I did not intend very seriously, though I could have taken it as such had it been an expedient means of picking you up there. Amen.

Give my regards to Madam Bernhardi. I was wondering whether I might not |206| send her something for her little newborn munchkin. Are you not the godfather? One possibility — namely, something knit — will not do, since she herself knits a lot.

Marcus sent me the Frankenthalischer Lustgarten, an older edition — I will keep it here for now because you probably do not want to interrupt your work now. [10] There will be future almanachs, and it does not have to be in this one. [11] But you know, this particular issue could well use something in an elegiac meter or in hexameters just to break up the predominant mood a bit.

Marcus sends his regards, saying he would like to compose an explanation for you, based on the theory of excitation, of the miracles occurring in connection with that theory. The company is now in Bocklet, though the weather will disturb them somewhat. [12] As far as I know, Friedrich remained here.

Which actually reveals an extremely unexpected bit of information concerning this Eduard. [13] Not surprisingly, everything is even worse than I could have surmised or suspected from the very outset.

Friedrich himself told me that this fellow had been there, had gone to America, and in general led me to surmise all sorts of grand and magnificent things about him. At the time, he welcomed him with an embrace that took Eduard completely by surprise. He also wanted me to believe that Philipp could well be the son of this Eduard, perhaps to take the edge off some of my ethnic aversion, for I heard afterward that Philipp was born earlier.

And now the quarrel with the sister, whom Madam Veit herself passed off as such a bad person — how does that fit? What lies, self-deception, and despicable stories. Does Friedrich really allow himself to be so deceived? [14]

And what bluster they made of it here. Paulus extolled Alton as someone who had been to Persia, then took him to the club and who knows what else. [15]

In the meantime, I know as little about whether he is even still here as I do about |207| Friedrich himself, and it is certainly quite understandable that I did not hear of his existence earlier, since I never speak about them, never ask anyone about them, hence what news I do get comes only by accident and often long after the fact.

But since I encountered Friedrich and discussed this sujet with him in Paradies the day after they returned from Leipzig, he must already have been brought along from there. Here we did at least hope that the real Florentin, in person, would also be bringing money along for them — and so now that is no longer the case? [16]

If so, then I understand even less how and from what they are living, since Friedrich is riding out so often and casks of wine are constantly arriving here by mistake that in fact should be delivered to them, or the excise is billed to me, which I then, however, most politely refuse. [17]

Alas, my dear Wilhelm, and despite the fact that things stand so ill, I do fear your hopes will not be fulfilled. — Forgive me for thinking after your first report that you could want to get mixed up in it. At the same time, do consider whether I might not feel quite justified after you so recently rejected my utterances and complaints concerning this disgraceful person, as if I were supposed to consider her untouchable, as if she were the sensible, constant, and honest one in all this [18] — I am loath to offer even more illustrations. Whatever in my last letter might have offended you, just attribute to this particular circumstance.

And then when in a larger sense I object to the hot-tempered, relentless anger in which you become capable of dispensing such reproach — pray do tell: Am I, too, not justified here? (to turn your last question back to you).

But come, we will be friends. I will expect to hear something definite about that in your next letters, that is, about when you will be coming. It is time, for I am beginning to wonder how you will manage to reconcile the members of my household |208| and especially how you will be able to establish your lordship over them after they have enjoyed such a long period of independence. You are in for a time of it all the way down to Emma.

Our life is very simple, taking walks being the most exercise we get. I do absolutely nothing other than sleep, eat, drink, read, pray, and walk when I can, for often I am left behind, and in such hours I do admittedly wish I had an apartment of the sort one can indeed find here and which at the very least would not envelope me so sadly. [19]

I do not need to give notice before Michaelmas, [20] so everything will remain in abeyance until you come so you can hear all my reasons. —

Julchen relieves me of all the housework and is in fact glad to be engaged in these sorts of tasks and activities. She is quite inclined to listen but very disinclined to read. And that is just fine; her mother will be leaving her here for the winter. [21]

Schelling is resolute about taking a trip in the fall, though he is not that keen on Berlin. [22] What you say about Fichte — and what someone else has said about him as well — is precisely our rather bold opinion as well, one we do, however, sometimes try to dissuade ourselves from and with which we are in any case quite cautious. When he lost his lectern, he also lost his Samson locks. [23]

So, do please bring me your picture, for I want to have it. [24] You are to have mine as well, and I myself might have been presumptuous enough to hang it in your room would it not leave behind an ugly spot on the wall in my own. Hence you must wait until the new apartment.

Do you remember the tall house at the gate toward Driesnitz? Kammerrath Helfeld has completely renovated it both inside and out, and the upper story is empty — that is the object of my speculation. [25]

Adieu, my friend, I cannot control my quill any longer. Stay very well and be good.

|209| P.S. If a bad letter comes, I will not answer until a good one is also here.


[1] Illustrations: (1) Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 (Vienna 1775), plate 32; (2) Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1811: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:




[1a] Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 10 and 19–20 July 1801 (letters 325, 326). Back.

[2] Here Caroline is referring to the comments concerning the quarrel with the Berlin publisher Friedrich Unger in her letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325); concerning also the role of Ludwig Tieck in that quarrel, which Caroline goes on to mention, see note 4 there. Back.

[3] The reference is to Wilhelm’s public declaration of authorship of the satire against August von Kotzebue. In her letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325), Caroline mentions that she simply did not “see the point”: “For what was the point? The grandezza of that magnificent satire was maintained better without it.” See also note 17 there. Back.

[4] That is, about August von Kotzebue, who had come through Berlin on his way back to Germany and Weimar from Russia. Here Kotzebue’s route back to Weimar (Elementarische Landkarte von Europa, from the Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate xl):


Caroline here uses words from a song in Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade to refer to Kotzebue himself. Back.

[5] That is, in Jena. Kotzebue was a native of Weimar and had planned to celebrate his mother’s birthday there on 8 July 1801 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


See Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322) and 10 July 1801 (letter 325), also with note 15 there. Back.

[6] Luise Wiedemann and Julie Gotter, Caroline’s housemates at the time (illustration: Goethe’s Works, vol. 4, trans. G. Barrie [New York 1885], 300):


Luise’s daughter Emma was also living there. Back.

[7] After positions with the Prussian royal family in Königsberg, then in Petersburg, Loder became the personal physician to the Russian czar Alexander I, who had become czar after the assassination of his father, Paul I, back in March 1801 but who had immediately become involved with power struggles in the government, not least involving his father’s assassins. Back.

[7a] Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1818: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[8] That is, the manuscript of the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, which Cotta in Tübingen was publishing and Frommann in Jena was printing (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Besetztere und illuminierte Landkarte von Deutschland Elementarwerk, from the (Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate xlv):


At an auction in Berlin in 1912, Erich Schmidt purchased the following billet from Caroline to Friedrich Frommann on 29 July 1801, i.e., two days after this present letter:

To Herr Fromman [in his handwriting: “1801, 29 July Mad. Schlegel”]. Might it not be possible for you to begin printing the Almanach without any reservation even without waiting for an answer from Cotta, who is perhaps not in Tübingen at the moment? The matter has otherwise been completely agreed upon, and I just received a letter from Tiek in which he relates to Schlegel that he already spoke with Cotta at the [Easter] book fair and had come to an understanding with him to the effect that you would be taking over the printing. Any later and things would likely have to proceed too hastily, especially since the gentlemen doubtless wish to see the Almanach appear before the [Michaelmas] book fair. Caroline S. Back.

[9] In her letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325), Caroline had remarked (map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

as far as I can piece things together, I may expect you at the beginning of August [Wilhelm arrived in Jena on 11 August]. But do not start thinking that afterward I might go along with you back to Berlin, since that seems inexpedient to me.



[10] Concerning this book, which Adalbert Friedrich Marcus had secured for Wilhelm in Bamberg, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 12 June 1801 (letter 320), note 38. Caroline had also just mentioned the book in her letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326). Back.

[11] Uncertain allusion; Wilhelm was apparently planning to incorporate something from the book into the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802. Back.

[12] Dorothea Veit and Karoline Paulus were in Bocklet from the end of July to the end of August 1801 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


In a letter to Julie Gotter on 29 November 1802 (letter 372), Caroline accuses the two of having spread the rumor, during this visit to Bocklet, concerning Schelling’s having been at least in part responsible for Auguste’s death. For Dorothea’s side of the story, see her letter to Wilhelm from Vienna on 16 January 1810 (letter 453a). Back.

[13] That is, one of Dorothea Veit’s former lovers in Berlin who was the model for the hero in Dorothea’s novel, Florentin. Ein Roman (Lübeck, Leipzig 1801) and who was now in Jena, apparently staying with the couple (Österreichisches Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1806; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Caroline has queried Wilhelm in her past two letters concerning his presence in Jena and the relationship between the three. See esp. her letter to Wilhelm on 6 July 1801 (letter 324) and on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326) with note 14. Back.

[14] Illustration: “Die schlechte Hausfrau” (“the bad/unfaithful housewife”), Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1809, Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Both of Philipp Veit’s parents, i.e., Dorothea and Simon Veit, were Jewish. “Earlier”: unclear; Dorothea married Veit on 30 April 1783, and Philipp Veit was born on 13 February 1793.

The sister could be Recha Mendelssohn rather than Henriette. Back.

[15] Caroline uses a Germanized version of the French verb prôner, “to lift up to the altar,” whence in this context: “boost, laud, extol.” She uses the verb again in her letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356) (Schlüter [engraver], Vier Männer im Gespräch [1785]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 2535):



[16] Another allusion to Friedrich and Dorothea’s chronic financial problems; here a “credit fool” pleading with a merchant (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Credit-Narr [1782]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.519):



[17] Friedrich had been going to the riding arena in Jena; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322), note 58.

Caroline also mentions Friedrich riding out “across the countryside” in her letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325); concerning the possible romantic background, see note 28 there. Back.

[18] The reference is to Dorothea Veit and her relationship with Friedrich, which Caroline considered detrimental to Friedrich and which she has already mentioned to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 29 June 1801 (letter 323),10 July 1801 (letter 325), and esp. 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326), where Caroline remarks how she find’s Dorothea’s “behavior and personality repugnant and base.” Back.

[19] The reference, of course, is to Auguste’s absence. The apartment at Leutragasse 5, moreover, was in any case quite large even for the three current residents and child, and Caroline points out in her previous letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326) how “quite a bit of space is simply going unused now.” Back.

[20] That is, notice to terminate the lease at Leutragasse 5. — Michaelmas is 29 September. Back.

[21] Julie Gotter remained with Caroline in Jena until just after mid-March 1802; she returned to Gotha when Caroline herself departed for Berlin (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


It may be recalled that Julie had just turned eighteen years old on 30 June 1801, i.e., was in many ways, though not yet married, at least a nominally mature young woman who was already and would continue to be — even after her departure from Jena — privy to many of Caroline’s private concerns (Göttingischer Taschen-Calender für das Jahr 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[22] Schelling had earlier been keen on traveling to Berlin to speak with Fichte; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 July 1801 (letter 326), note 6. Back.

[23] Fichte had had to leave his teaching position in Jena in July 1799.

Biblical allusion to Judges 16, here: vss. 15–22 (NRSV; illustrations: [1] Martin Luther, Die gantze Heilige Schrifft Deudsch, Ausgabe letzter Hand [Wittenberg 1545], 485; [2] Titian, Delila liefert Samson den Philistern aus [ca. 1520–66]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur NBoldrini V 2.543):

Then she [Delilah] said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times now and have not told me what makes your strength so great.”

Finally, after she had nagged him with her words day after day, and pestered him, he was tired to death. So he told her his whole secret, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me; I would become weak, and be like anyone else.”

When Delilah realized that he had told her his whole secret, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “This time come up, for he has told his whole secret to me.”

Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her, and brought the money in their hands. She let him fall asleep on her lap; and she called a man, and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. He began to weaken, and his strength left him.


Then she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” When he awoke from his sleep, he thought, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. So the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes.


They brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles; and he ground at the mill in the prison. Back.

[24] Presumably the portrait of Wilhelm by Friedrich Bury Caroline mentions in her letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326). Back.

[25] The reference is to what was earlier known as the “house of Doctor Luther” at Neugasse 23 in Jena, originally so-called because Martin Luther was alleged to have stayed there during a visit to Jena, though the reference seems sooner to be to the physician Paul Luther (28 January 1533–8 March 1593); Caroline’s present residence at Leutragasse 5 is at the top, Neugasse 23 at the bottom of the map (Stadtplan von Jena, 1909, Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung):


The “gate toward Driesnitz” was the New Gate at the southwest corner of Jena, here identified in 1800 (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Topographische Charte der umliegenden Gegend Von Jena / nach eigenen Messungen und andern Origin. Zeichnungen [Jena 1800]; reprinted in August J. G. K. Batsch, Taschenbuch für topographische Excursionen in die umliegende Gegend von Jena [Weimar 1800]):


The house (on the right) ca. 1905 by an unknown photographer (Stadtmuseum Jena; A6_083a):




Translation © 2015 Doug Stott