Letter 327f

327f. Wilhelm Schlegel to Sophie Bernhardi in Berlin: Jena, 21 August 1801 [*]

Jena, 21 August 1801

Dearest friend!

The forwarded letter successfully arrived here that had been sent too late to me in Berlin. I wish you could have opened it. It was from my sister-in-law and contained a bit of news from Wiedemann concerning your brother, which I will now write out for you myself: [1]

P[aris], 18 July. Tieck will not be departing here before 1 or 2 weeks. I visited him this morning. Since the gallery of Italian paintings has been open since 14 July, he must view as many of these as possible. He himself is working quite well. Although I have not yet seen anything on a larger scale from him, one can nonetheless judge him from the smaller pieces as well. He has done some very nice portraits of children in bas-relief.

As you can see, this news concurs with Humboldt’s statement regarding the reason he is staying longer. At the same time, this news does make us almost wonder why he is not yet here, since today it has been just at two weeks since Humboldt visited my wife and assured her that Fr[iedrich] T[ieck] was following hard on his heels. [2]

I will soon find out more about the nature of his commissions at the Weimar castle. If their execution will be lengthy, I would expect he might first want to organize his affairs in Berlin and only then return here. Then it would be possible for him to spend part of next summer in Weimar, and he could also do the monument here. [3] All these issues, however, will be sorted out soon.

Although Caroline continues to recover, she is still extremely weak and must take things very easy. She has, however, recovered enough to go for rides and take walks, and I am hoping that before the winter sets in her health will have recovered to the point it was before this most recent illness (a nervous fever, had one not taken rapid measures to counter it). [3a] Our valiant physician Kilian does flatter himself, despite her present, almost infinite susceptibility, with having reestablished in her a quite solid constitution. This coming summer she will likely have to use a mineral spring, at least an artificial one — slag baths are being set up in the area around here. [4] Even now, baths with infusions and herbs are probably having the most beneficial effect on her.

All the measures being taken for Caroline’s health remind me of your own, and I urgently implore you to have a formal, official report concerning your health sent to me. And also concerning your daily lifestyle, that I might see whether you are taking adequate care of yourself and doing everything you should. How have the chocolate, the wine soup with sago, and Icelandic moss, etc. been working? I hope you have taken to heart my reminders concerning tea. [5]

In general, you need to overcome your disinclination toward the most salutary things if I am not to become quite angry with you. Surely you are being conscientious about getting moderate exercise with rides and walks before the more inclement season arrives, are you not? Although I wish you could also take baths, I realize that would be rather circumstantial with your apartment.

I intend to proceed like a French general and for now hold Bernhardi personally responsible for any harm you may incur in all this. Then next spring we will take you away from Berlin so you do not have to breathe any more dust and can instead enjoy the country air and be under the care of an authentic Brunonian physician. [6]

Yesterday we viewed an apartment to rent beginning next summer; it is extraordinarily handsome, and our friends should be quite comfortable there indeed. [7] It is located toward the edge of town toward Rudolstadt, is positioned wholly toward the open countryside, and enjoys the most magnificent views. [8] From the adjacent garden, too, one can see all the mountains round about on the horizon. [9] Moreover, Martin Luther once resided in this very house, thereby demonstrating his own fine taste.

In the meantime, however, the interior has been completely renovated, so the Lutheran elements have probably been pretty much removed. [10] We still do not know how much the owner will be asking; presumably quite a bit, since there is some furniture in the house that he does not particularly want to have moved. We have already joked about how we will charge entrée to the friends who will be coming to visit us. What is certain, however, is that one could not find a more pleasant gathering place for them. Caroline dreamed about it the entire night and now heartily despises our present apartment in anticipation of the new one. [11]

As for me, I am walking about in a new life here. I am drinking a bottle of light red Hungarian wine every day but only little beer and no tea at all. [12] I am bathing daily, reading the newspapers, taking rides, walks, and will also be riding soon. [13] I recently spent an entire afternoon taking a long walk with my sister-in-law and Mademoiselle Gotter — it just does a person so much good to have the chance again to hear the brooks rustling down from the mountains. [14] We have not yet been able to undertake any longer excursions, e.g., to Rudelsburg. [14a]

As I last wrote, I also spent several days rummaging about in my papers and books, also writing letters, and I have already read a great deal of Greek and Spanish. Although I have not yet gotten around to any of my own work, I will now do so with all the more vigor. It almost seems I have twice as much time here as in Berlin. True, one must certainly take into account all the tedious walking back and forth there. And then I also chatted away not a few very agreeable hours, my dear friends, especially the final weeks, anticipating I would soon be leaving you, which was, however, not really true, since I am already thinking about my return. [15]

Caroline has given her complete approval to my plan for lecturing in Berlin, notwithstanding that given her present condition she cannot promise to accompany me there immediately. [16] She does, however, think she can follow around Christmas. One primary hindrance is that she would not have a physician there whom she trusted completely should she become ill. —

Perhaps before the end of October she will be sufficiently healthy to come to a different decision. I will spare no effort in trying to persuade her. [17]

Here I have drafted the avertissement for my lectures and would like to ask whether it seems in order. [18] Consider it with Bernhardi and Schleiermacher. Should small changes seem necessary, the junta has full power of attorney to make them. But if all of you should reject the entire thing as being inexpedient, then please do let me know as soon as possible that I might send you a new version.

I would like for it to be printed in Berlin. Here, even were I to order complete secrecy in Frommann’s printing shop, there would be a big stir concerning my imminent “re”-departure, which would be quite disadvantageous for me afterward should nothing come of it. Frölich can take care of the printing and credit me, or Sander as well. Both will know whether something of this sort must first pass the censor.

I would like the printing to be at least a bit elegant, with Latin letters and on writing paper, which will not, however, be a large edition, since it should fit on a single page, at most two. The billets done with Latin letters on calling-card paper. [19] Probably about 200 copies of the avertissements must be printed.

I am hoping all my friends will engage enthusiastically on behalf of the project. Apart from your narrower circle, please also send some copies to Madam von Berg (with a letter I will be enclosing either today to you or on the next postal day), Madam Liepmann (to whom I shall similarly write a few lines), and Dr. Meyer. [20]

As far as possible, one must from the outset collect the prepayment from people and in no way suggest the thing might not actually come about. Should the latter be the case, the Friedrichsd’or will be paid back. —

One must arrange things such that the billets are valid only if one of my friends has countersigned them. Only a single person, however, should be doing this, lest any confusion arise: Bernhardi, Schleiermacher, or Schütze, whoever prefers to take on the task. That person will then write the name of the subscriber on it at the top, and under that: “paid” — and his name as well.

I must then also ask him to keep an exact register of persons to whom billets are given, along with their address, and not to give out any billets without Friedrichsd’or, for which (as the main point of the entire enterprise) I will be holding him responsible. I myself can distribute free billets to good friends when I arrive.

I am hoping to hear news very soon about the venture’s success. Should it not succeed, however, that will not at all spoil my stay in Berlin, and I will still return for the second half of the winter.


The printing of the Almanach has begun and will now proceed quickly. [21] I still have received no word from Tieck and do not intend to burden myself with writing, for why should I get all worked up for nothing? The Almanach is already rich enough even if he contributes nothing more. Tieck should, however, go ahead and publish Bernhardi’s poem and make his opinion known on it. Urge him to do so!

I am, by the way, now proceeding with editorial responsibilities as if I had taken them over as the only editor. [22]

Goethe wrote me from Cassel; [23] he is reliably expected back in a week, then I myself will go over to Weimar, present the pictures, and we will discuss all the other things as well. [24]

Schütze must still have Mnioch’s letter to me — send it to me when the occasion presents itself. —

Schleiermacher must have the original manuscript of Hardenberg’s Lieder. [25] Have him give them to you and then keep them safe for me. Also have B[ernhardi] give you the vellum copy of the 7th volume of Shakespeare, and keep that there as well. [26]

My brother tells me that Karl Hardenberg passed on to your brother a whole quantity of Hardenberg’s geistliche Lieder — so it now seems their plan to publish a collective hymnal will be realized after all. [27]

Before his departure, my brother left all his poems for Lucinde with me. There are a great many new ones as well. —

He also presented three dramatic plans to me, though nothing has yet been committed to writing. Neither has Friedrich gotten the Indic fairy tale onto paper yet; he does not want to get to work on it seriously until he knows whether it might yet be published in the Almanach this year, something that might not be possible. [28]

That he is currently learning Arabic is a groundless rumor, though he very much wants to. [29] By contrast, he has become a diligent Portuguese and has become enthusiastic about Camoëns’s Lusiade. He has also greatly encouraged me, assuring me that with my Spanish I could get as far in two weeks. Alas, I do not have two weeks just now to spend on it.

Regards to all my friends! Caroline also sends her kindest regards to both you and Bernhardi. With five charming ladies in this house, I am getting along in part well, and in part so so. [30]

Emma did indeed greatly enjoy your bonbons. A few days ago, Schelling gave her a small hamster that has been a great joy to her; this fashion is currently the grand delight of all the children here. [31]

Stay well, my dear friends.


I am probably permitted to tell you that I had an offer to make to Goethe from Madam Unzelmann to perform in Weimar in September. [32] He is quite pleased with it and intends to write her in Breslau immediately from Cassel. [33] He is thus presumably doubly gleeful at Mademoiselle Jagemann’s absence. [34] Because I feared some sort of reaction from her and her entourage, I have kept all this quite secret. Say nothing about it to anyone in Berlin either. —

The general rumor here is that Iffland will be performing in Weimar in September, but I do not believe it. Please relate to me everything you hear and know about the Berlin theater. [35]

My brother has not yet returned from his journey. [36]


[*] Source: Dreihundert Briefe 3:61–68.

This letter is Wilhelm’s response to Sophie’s letter of mid-August 1801 (letter 327d).

In this letter, Wilhelm uses the formal form of address, Sie, rather than the familiar form, du. Back.

[1] The reference is to the letter Sophie mentions at the beginning of her letter to Wilhelm in mid-August (letter 327d). Concerning Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann’s trip to France, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1–2 March 1801 (letter 293), note 12 for cross references. Back.

[2] Wilhelm had already related this information to Sophie in his letter to her on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a); see note 6 there. Back.

[3] That is, the anticipated monument for Auguste; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 31 May–1 June 1801 (letter 319), note 4 and the pertinent section in the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet. Back.

[3a] Wilhelm uses essentially (and suspiciously) the same wording to relate the same content as does Julie Gotter in the second paragraph in her letter to Luise Gotter on 18 August 1801 (letter 327d.1). Back.

[4] Julie Gotter, in her letter to Luise Gotter back on 8 June 1801 (letter 319b), had suggested the same cure for her younger sister, Pauline; see esp. note 2 there.

Concerning slag baths, see Johann Christoph Adelung, Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart, 5 vols. (Leipzig 1793–1819), 3:1483: “Slag bath: an artificial bath prepared with the hot slag of crude and black copper [dross, compost that falls off ore that is smelted or melted] and used to treat various illnesses.”

Also The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages composed chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adelung and of Mr. Schwan, ed. John Ebers, 3 vols. (Leipzig 1796–99), 3:91, s.v. Schlackenbad: “a Bath of Scoria [a cindery, vesicular basaltic lava, usually having a frothy texture]; of the Dross of melted Metal.”

According to E. Osann, Physikalisch-medicinische Darstellung der bekannten Heilquellen der vorzüglichsten Länder Europa’s, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Berlin 1839–41), 2:932, such baths were prepared with slag water from smelting locales and were thought to contain hydrogen sulfide gas, carbonic acid or carbon dioxide, and iron oxide, and sometimes (e.g., in cases of dropsy) were prepared with wormwood, absinthe, southernwood (artemisia abrotanum), chamomile, and camphor brandy. Often prescribed in cases of lameness, general weakness, after difficult childbed, miscarriages, or serious illnesses, also in cases of gout or rheumatic ills of a “nervous” nature. Back.

[5] Concerning these remedies, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), notes 14 and 15. Back.

[6] In his letter to Auguste in August 1797 (letter 184c), Friedrich Schlegel provided the following description of Berlin compared to Jena:

You wrote me a great deal about rocks, Rau Valleys, and clear brooks. There is nothing at all like that here. Instead we have dust clouds, marble palaces made of sandstone, long, broad streets, and filthy water. Back.

[7] “Our friends” were the Bernhardis themselves, who seem to have been planning a lengthier visit to Jena for the summer of 1802. Although Caroline will mention this possibility in later letters, esp. as such would concern living arrangements, the journey never materialized. Back.

[8] Rudolstadt is located ca. 40 km south of Jena (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Schelling, Caroline, and Auguste had passed through Rudolstadt on their way to Bamberg in early May 1800; see Schelling’s letter to Adalbert Friedrich Marcus on 3 May 1800 (letter 259o), note 7. Back.

[9] Here Jena from the northwest, ca. 1840, by Eduard Lobe; Bildrechte/-herkunft: Sammlung Jenaer Stadtansichten [Stadtmuseum Jena 13011]):



[10] Caroline had written to Wilhelm on 27 July 1801 (letter 327):

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.

See note 25 there for more information on this house, which was situated at Neugasse 23 in Jena; the previous “Dr. Luther,” however, was likely not Martin Luther. Back.

[11] As it turned out, Caroline and Wilhelm were not able to rent the apartment in the house after all; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335). Back.

[12] In the Brunonian system, brandy and similar “volatile stimulants” were considered “fortifiers.” See the supplementary appendix “Of the Brunonian Doctrine”.

Hungarian wine had been prescribed for Caroline during the spring of 1800 as a fortifying agent while she was ill with nervous fever.

See Wilhelm’s letter to to Johann Diederich Gries on 16 March 1800 (letter 258r); Dorothea Veit to Schleiermacher on 17 March 1800 (letter 258t); Wilhelm to Goethe on 23 March 1800 (letter 258v) and 4 May 1800 (letter 259c). Goethe seems to have been forthcoming in providing additional bottles at Wilhelm’s request.

Indeed, Caroline had asked Wilhelm whether she should order Hungarian wine from Salzburg in her letter to him on 7–8 May 1801 (letter 314). Back.

[13] Friedrich Schlegel had recently taken to riding; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322); also note 58 there (Bartolomeo Nerici, Manège, Leçon de L’Epoule en dedans [ca. 1769–83]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 1855):



[14] Illustration of the Rau Valley near Jena from Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 (Jena, Weimar 1806), plate:



[14a] Dorothea Veit and Friedrich Schlegel had visited the Rudelsburg (Rudolphsburg) north of Jena the previous summer. See their letter to Wilhelm from Jena on 25 August 1800 (letter 266b), esp. with note 2 there. Back.

[15] “As I last wrote you”: in his letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a).

That Wilhelm would already thinking about returning to Berlin after being in Jena hardly ten days was unlikely what he and certainly not Caroline had anticipated. As Julie Gotter reveals in her letter to her mother,

Because he had thought she [Caroline] was doing well, he was very unpleasantly surprised. And in general, all of us were so out of sorts because of various things that he did not really enjoy all that cheerful a reception, which he also rather held against us later.

Wilhelm’s trip to Jena seems not to have been going as expected, though he did nonetheless linger there until early November 1801. Back.

[16] Wilhelm’s series of lectures in Berlin between December 1801 and Easter 1804, published in part in Friedrich’s journal Europa, though in a better-known edition later in the nineteenth century by Jakob Minor, Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst. Back.

[17] Caroline did not make the trip to Berlin until late March 1802. Back.

[18] Concerning this avertissement, or advertisement, see Jakob Minor’s introduction to Wilhelm’s Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst, 1:vii–viii:

I was unfortunately unable to find any copy of the printed announcement of the first course of lectures (Böcking’s index of A. W. Schlegel’s published writings mentions only the announcement for the second course, which will be related in volume 2 of this edition); only a few lines were cited in the Intelligenzblatt of the Neue allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek 63 (1801) no. 2, issue 6, 472, where under “Vermischte Nachrichten und Bemerkungen” one reads:

Herr Professor A. W. Schlegel from Jena has let it be known through a special circular that he intends “to deliver lectures for the friends of belle-lettres and fine arts in Berlin on precisely these topics.” He flatters himself by anticipating not only male attendees, but intelligent female attendees as well.” The lectures will commence in the month of November [Wilhelm seems to have commenced the lectures on 1 December] and will be given twice weekly until Easter 1802 from 12:00 to 1:00. The advance fee is two Friedrichsd’or.

With respect to “intelligent female attendees,” Hans Christian Genelli concludes a letter from Berlin to Wilhelm in Jena on 15 September 1801 ([1930], 136; illustrations: [1] Göttinger Taschen Kalender Für das Iahr 1800; [2] Göttinger Taschen Kalender Für das Iahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Stay well and do not be concerned about your lectures taking place. I at least have no doubts whatever.

Your friend Merkel recently paid a visit to Bury and found a couple of your announcements lying about. Had he not found them there, he eventually would have found them somewhere. He opined that you seemed finally to be improving under his discipline. I myself know not whether the reference is to the fact that you are switching your lectures [from Jena] to Berlin, or to the fact that you will also be addressing the ladies [allusion to Merkel’s periodical Briefe an ein Frauenzimmer]. But he did find your style to be much the same in being quite pretentious and presumptuous.

There is something droll about this modern philosophical humility that has not a trace of Christianity anywhere in it.

In any case, after he had pontificated for a bit, Bury told him, “Now you have seen it, now please do criticize it everywhere you want, far and wide; the more stoutly you rebuke it, the more attendees will Schlegel get.”

Well, what do you say about the honorable conscientiousness of our Bury? The scoundrel [Merkel] is not entirely stupid and does see the wisdom of Bury’s remarks, and so now is not scolding in the slightest so as thus to get the best of you instead.

August von Kotzebue makes a mocking reference to these “ladies” in his satirical piece Expectorationen. Ein Kunstwerk und zugleich ein Vorspiel zum Alarcos (n.p. 1803); see the text in Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 7–12 June 1801 (letter 320), note 48.

In any event, Wilhelm discusses his preparations for the lectures in subsequent letters. Back.

[19] Although no copies of the avertissement seem to have survived, the Goethe-Schiller Archives in Weimar have a copy of one of these billets (transcribed in Krisenjahre 3:19):

Admission Ticket
Lectures on the Fine Arts
and Literature, in the Winter
by Professor Schlegel
Price: 2 Friedrichsd’or
Sundays and Wednesdays — 12–1:00
Luisenstrasse No. 66
First Lecture 29 November

Either Josef Körner or one of his assistants doubtless transcribed the address incorrectly, since Luisenstraße (Luisenstrasse) was not created until 1827. The correct address was instead Lindenstrasse 66 (Unter den Linden 66), where, as seen in coming letters, Caroline herself resided during her stay in Berlin during the spring of 1802.

The first lecture does not seem to have been given until 1 December 1801.

See in general Rudolf Haym’s introduction to the lectures. Back.

[20] Madam Liepmann is possibly the wife of Isaac Nathan Liepmann (1762–1819), a Jewish banker in Berlin (after conversion to Christianity in 1809: Isaac Nathanael Christian Lieman [or Liman]; she would divorce him after his conversion).

Dr. Meyer is presumably Heinrich Meyer, who in early 1801 (rather than 1802 as generally adduced) married the Berlin actress Johanna Henriette Meyer. Later he forbids his wife from playing the allegedly lewd role of Creusa in Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel. Back.

[21] Proofs for the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 appeared in early October 1801; the publication itself appeared in bookstores on 26 November 1801 (KFSA 25:630–31). Back.

[22] Concerning this editorial problems with Ludwig Tieck, see the editorial note to Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326) (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Der Schriftsteller,” Illustrationen zu Erasmus’ Lob der Narrheit in sechs Abteilungen [1780]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki WB 3.32):



[23] For the text, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 14 August 1801 (letter 327c), note 10. Back.

[24] Wilhelm did indeed visit Goethe in Weimar on Monday, 31 August (the day after Goethe’s return), and on Tuesday, 1 September 1801, presumably after an overnight stay (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:33–34; map: Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration of Goethe’s house: early postcard: “Vor dem Goethehaus zu Weimars klassischer Zeit”):



“Pictures” the reference is to entries in the Weimar Art Competition of 1801 by Friedrich Buri and Johann Erdmann Hummel; Wilhelm mentioned these pictures earlier in his letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a). Back.

[25] The first seven of Friedrich von Hardenberg’s “Geistliche Lieder” (“Spritual hymns”) appeared in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 189–204. Back.

[26] Vol. 7 (Berlin: Unger 1801) contained Wilhelm’s translation of The Life of King Henry V and The Second Part of King Henry VI. Back.

[27] The entire collection of Hardenberg’s Geistliche Lieder appeared in Novalis Schriften, ed. Friedrich Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, 2 vols. (Berlin 1802), 2:123–58; some are still in use today as congregational hymns. Back.

[28] Friedrich mentioned this project in his letter to Caroline back in July 1799 (letter 241); see esp. note 12 there. Back.

[29] Caroline had related to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 22 June 1801 (letter 322) that Friedrich was learning Arabic; see esp. note 58 there. Back.

[30] Concerning the uncertain identities of the five ladies, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), note 5, where he mentions four “charming ladies” in addition to Caroline herself, who here represents the fifth (Taschenkalender auf das Jahr 1798 für Damen; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[31] Caroline mentions this hamster again in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 2 April 1808 (letter 432) when discussing the possibility of Emma coming to Munich to stay with her.

Hamsters as such were not an entirely exotic pet; a thorough “natural history of hamsters” had already been written in 1774 by Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer of Gotha and published by Johann Christian Dieterich in Göttingen.

Here the title page and vignette and two illustrations from the book:




[32] Friederike Unzelmann did indeed perform in Weimar beginning on 21 September 1801; for an enumeration of her performances, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10. See esp. also Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 14 August 1801 (letter 327c). Back.

[33] Friederike Unzelmann had departed Berlin for Breslau on 24 July 1801; she arrived in Weimar on 19 September 1801; see esp. Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 14 August 1810 (letter 327c). Much is said of this visit in coming letters (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[34] Caroline Jagemann was currently engaged outside Weimar, viz., giving guest performances in Berlin. Concerning those performances, see Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h), note 18. Back.

[35] Wilhelm had already expressed these doubts in his letter to Goethe on 14 August 1801 (letter 327); he was correct, Iffland did not come to Weimar in September 1801. Back.

[36] From Franconia, where he was to pick up Dorothea. See Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), note 11; also Friedrich to Schleiermacher on 14 August 1801 (letter 327b), note 1. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott