Letter 328c

328c. Sophie Bernhardi to Wilhelm Schlegel in Jena: Berlin, ca. 28 August 1801 [*]

[Berlin, ca. 28 August 1801]

I can only write you a few words today and merely want to ask you to forward the letter I am enclosing to my brother. I myself now have a letter from him in which he writes that he will be departing in 3 days, hence he can arrive in Weimar approximately at the same time as this letter. [1]

I assure you I will take care of your requests with the proper care and will write you very soon about the results. [2] I thank you for your great concern for my health and only wish I could give you the kind of report you demand, and since you so easily become vexed with your friends if they do not follow your instructions precisely, one might easily enough fear it will also happen even should these excellent instructions, though precisely followed, nonetheless not seem to help, and thus it is with me, and I should be very sorry indeed were that to make you angry with me.

I will respond at greater length as soon as these severe toothaches that have been tormenting me for weeks have abated. Then I will also respond to the cordial teasing of your wife, [3] which, were I to take it seriously, I could most easily refute by citing your own previous letter, in which you were happy finally to be so far away from Berlin again and so delighted with the mountains, the rushing brooks, and the first wine. [4]

All of us here are enormously pleased that you are so serious about returning to Berlin, and if my chest pains permitted I would describe our anticipation to you at length. [5] As it is, let me merely ask yet that you give my kindest regards to your wife.

Stay very well. I hope everything proceeds such that we see each other again soon. I would still like to write the comedy could I but write now at all; but I will very soon make a decision about that as well. [6] Stay very well. Your friend,

S.[ophie] Bernhardi


[*] Source: Krisenjahre 1:15–16. — This letter was composed using the formal form of address, Sie, rather than the familiar du. See in this regard the editorial note to Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a).

Addressed to “Herr Professor A W Schlegel in Jena.” Wilhelm’s letter of 4 September 1801 (letter 328e) collectively answers Sophie’s letters of 25 August 1801 (letters 328a, 328b) and the present one (of ca. 28 August 1801). There he assures her he will deliver the enclosed letter to her brother Friedrich Tieck (which Sophie mentions here) as soon as the latter arrives in Weimar. Although Tieck arrived there on approximately 5 September 1801, an annoying set of chance circumstances prevented their meeting before 9 September in Jena. Back.

[1] Friedrich Tieck, currently in Paris, was about to return to Germany, specifically Weimar, where he had commissions connected with the Weimar castle. His exact itinerary has been the topic of discussion in Wilhelm’s previous letters to Sophie and others (Maurille-Antoine Moithey, L’Europe: Divisée en tous ses Royaumes et subdivisée en ses principales parties [Revue et Corrigée] [Paris 1785]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



[2] The requests Wilhelm made in his letter of 14 August 1801 (letter 327a) involved preparations for his Berlin lectures. He had also urgently requested a report on Sophie’s health in that letter. Back.

[3] See Caroline’s postscript to Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on letter of 24 August 1801 (letter 328); see also note 15 there. Back.

[4] See Wilhelm’s buoyant words in his letter to Sophie on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f). Back.

[5] In his letters to Sophie on 21 and 24 August 1801 (letters 327f, 328), Wilhelm promised a quick return to Berlin. Back.

[6] Sophie’s anonymous entry in the dramatic competition set up by Goethe and Schiller; see Wilhelm’s letters of 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), 24 August 1801 (letter 328), 18 September 1801 (letter 329e), 3 October 1801 (letter 329k); also various of Wilhelm’s letters to Goethe during this period.

Sophie’s entry, the three-act comedy Donna Laura: Lustspiel in drei Aufzügen, although never published, was performed on 22 September 1821 in the Royal Berlin Theater and, unfortunately, jeered off the stage. Although Goedeke, vol. 7, 2nd ed. (Dresden 1900), 491, in citing the play’s performance and failure, adduces the Berliner Abend-Zeitung (1821), see similarly the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung 23 (3 January 1821–26 December 1821) no. 51 (19 December 1821), 863–64:

Berlin. November overview. The Royal Theater presented only a single new piece this month, viz. on the 22nd Donna Laura, a comedy in three acts accompanied by dance, by Sophie von Knorring, née Tieck (sister of the famous brothers, namely. the poet and the sculptor).

But the piece did not enjoy any success, in part because of the paltry content, which has already been used in many similar adaptations, and in part because of the elongation of that content through three boring acts.

But such a pity for the interesting overture, interludes, and the rest of the music accompanying the action proper (e.g., the serenades by Herr J. C. Kienlen, former orchestra conductor at the theater in Presburg, who has been performing independently and unattached here for a few years now). For unfortunately this music will probably not be heard again. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott