Letter 329e

329e. Wilhelm Schlegel to Sophie Bernhardi in Berlin: Jena, 18 September 1801 [*]

Jena, 18 September 1801

Since you commence your own letter with brandy, [1] it is only fitting that I begin mine with tea.

To wit, it has arrived, 9 ℔ for you: 6 of the lesser and 3 of the better sort. [2] My wife will relate the cost in a separate note. [3] It goes without saying that there is plenty of time to settle up when I return to Berlin. You could have the tea immediately, with this very letter, were we not inclined to save you the postal charges, since your brother will be traveling there so soon and can simply take it with him. Be the need more urgent, and should your brother perhaps linger here a bit longer, just write and let us know and we will send it through the postal system.

I received the enclosed billet from Friedrich Tieck on, I believe, Tuesday from the inn after he had already departed. I am extremely pleased that he will be doing Goethe’s bust. [4] Should it turn out well, which I doubt not, it can bring him both fame and, afterwards from the copies, money as well.

You will, however, have to be patient. He said that Goethe will have to sit for him over eight sessions, and since amid the imminent theatrical distractions such will be highly circumstantial, he may well have to stay another two weeks. Since I will be going to Weimar myself precisely to attend the theater, I am immeasurably pleased that he is still there. [5]

I recently was able to relate to you only in haste how very taken I am with him. [6] All of you gave me a false impression of him and will perhaps even yourselves find him much changed. For his external appearance is quite refined now, he has to the very highest degree what one calls tournure, [7] is quite deft and convivial in society, talks a great deal and quite well, and in a word is quite charming. And at the same time he elicits such trust; after only a couple of days we had become like old acquaintances, and are already on a first-name basis. — Given his considerable resemblance with his two siblings, I must nonetheless say that he evokes you more than his elder brother. —

In his artistic character, as least to the extent I have been able to discern it from a few sketches and drawings, one cannot really recognize the familial physiognomy. His drawing style is firm to the point of earthiness, and his composition exhibits energy and pittoresque boldness. Meyer, as you already know, says that he is imitating Giulio Romano; Goethe put it a bit more gently by saying that the works of this particular master seem to have made a tremendous impression on him.

Your brother concedes the similarity, which he says many others also have noted, but contends it is original, since he has not really specifically studied according the model Giulio Romano. You must know that this is the boldest and most brazen pupil of Raphael, and constitutes as it were the middle stage between the latter and Michelangelo.

Ludwig Tieck has now finally shown signs of life, sending along Bernhardi’s “Traum” after having successfully guessed the author. I have forgotten whether Bernhardi wants to have his real name put under it or a fictitious one, or merely a cipher. If I remain uncertain I will simply put B. [8]

For my Altes und Neues Jahrhundert I am using the name Inhumanus; [9] so I would suggest Bamboccio for Bernhardi, since he did, after all, write the Bambocciaden. [10] But I must receive word with the next post, since printing will begin very soon now. [11]

I am certainly pleased that you would like to contribute another poem; [12] I only hope your brother is not tardy, since you passed it along to him first.

I have not yet been able to read Goethe anything from your contributions; the last time; the “Ballade” had not yet been printed. He now has it there, but in the proof pages. He is quite interested in the Almanach in general. [13]

Everyone finds the “Bilder der Kindheit” delightfully beautiful and touching. I am excessively curious about the third. I hope your brother does not correct anything into it, or rather out of it. [14]

The latter has greatly complained about vexations, allegedly caused in part by our misunderstandings, and very much wishes to pull the veil of forgetfulness over the latter. [15] And thus, thank heaven, our quarrel is laid aside.

Whether he has produced anything during this past summer? I am inclined to doubt it. Nor does he write anything about publishing Hardenberg’s literary estate. Friedrich related to me that he still has a piece of the 2nd part of Ofterdingen and a considerable number of the “spiritual hymns.” [16]

Since your brother’s visit, I have been disquieted and have had all sorts of disruptions. I have not yet worked any further on Ion, and now a few more additional days of distraction will follow, though I do hope to be entirely finished with it by the middle of October. [17]

I am very pleased I can now announce to Goethe that he can be expecting yet another comedy of intrigue. [18] I will conscientiously carry out your request and make every effort to determine whether or not this intrigue has any loose ends, though I am not really competent in this genre myself; I have studied it too little, and have always been an honest soul, notwithstanding having been accused of being quite the opposite.

I cannot begrudge your brother his excursion to Schwarzburg; [19] indeed, had these gentlemen come to me, I myself would doubtless have decided to go along as well. Moreover, they also had magnificent weather. They were planning to be back here either today or tomorrow, and will perhaps find us with Madam Unzelmann, whom we are awaiting at this very moment.

Ludwig Tieck has urged his brother to come to Dresden rather than Berlin; or, were he to linger long enough in Weimar, he promises to come here himself about two weeks after Michaelmas, though the latter not with certainty. He will now likely not come about at all.

Now that all of you have come up with the ingenious idea of distributing the billets for my lectures at the Casino, moreover, by an elegant member of the same, I now no longer doubt success. [20] Please pass along to Schütz my sincere thanks for taking on this task, and to all my friends who have taken an interest in the enterprise. —

To prompt people to pick up the billets earlier, one might point out to them that the auditorium will be arranged according to the number of people attending. If things get serious, then one would indeed eventually have to start looking for such a locale. [21] If I am well paid, I would very much also like to have a rather elegant and handsomely situated place. —

If I have but 40 payees by the middle of October, I will begin making preparations for my departure; the remainder will probably not be a problem. Might you send me a list next time of the people who genuinely have already received billets? And a couple of copies of the printed announcement? —

Although Madam von Eibenberg came through here, I did not see her. When she arrives there, please send her several copies as if from me. [(gloss in margin) She is actually the former Mariane Meyer, widow of Prince Reuss.]

How delighted I will be if through such easy effort I acquire the means to spend the winter with my Berlin friends.

What shall I do about accommodations? If your brother cannot live with you because of the lack of heated rooms, might I not live together with him? Or with Schütz? [22]


Thank heaven your health is better. You can see that I have forced myself not to mention it any earlier. Now that you have resolved to take opium, I hope you will soon no longer need this divine remedy. Caroline has had to use it again quite a bit recently. Things are only tolerably well with her, and I am hoping the distraction in Weimar will do her good. Since the weather seems to be showing such splendid prospects, I am certainly hopeful.

Many thanks to the good Herr Papa for the things he sent, especially for the copy of his burlesque on Iffland, which I am reading aloud to my friends to their considerable amusement. [23]

I have now also read through Nicolai contra Fichte. This fine old man is trying to besmirch my name a bit among the authorities of his government, but probably nothing much will come of it. [24] The information in the Annalen der leidenden Menschheit can in any case be correct. [25] Someone drew my attention to it quite a while back, but I had completely forgotten about it. The Hannoverian government cannot, however, deny me a stay in Göttingen, since I was born in the state and am the son of a royal official. I would have to have committed some crime and have been exiled from the state.

Tell your father-in-law that if he be willing to bet his Magdeburg estate against me, I in my own turn would be willing to go there and test those laws. Otherwise I have no inclination to do so just now. In the meantime, the university has been quite courteous toward both me and my brother, and we are constantly receiving books from their library. [26]

I intend to write a few lines to Grattenauer and ask him to suggest Sander as mediator. [27]

Stay very well. Next time I will definitely write to Schütz, and a proper letter at that, [28] just as I did the last time to Schleiermacher. [29]

Have you already read Goethe’s initial continuation of the “Zauberflöte” in the Freundschafts-Almanach? [30]

Stay very well. Kind regards.

A. W. S.


[*] Source: Josef Körner, (1930), 1:136–40. — In this letter, Wilhelm uses Sie, the formal form of address. Concerning the use of Sie and du, the informal form, in his correspondence with Sophie, see the editorial note to Wilhelm’s letter to her on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] In his letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328e), Wilhelm had requested two bottles each of Maraschino, Breslauer, and Danziger for himself, Caroline, and Schelling; Sophie responded with a query in her (first) letter of ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h); see also note 1 there. Back.

[2] See the final paragraph of Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325), also note 32 there. Back.

[3] Caroline’s note has not been preserved. Back.

[4] Christoff Weigel, Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an biß auf alle Künstler und Handwercker Nach Jede Ambts- und Beruffs-Verrichtungen meist nach dem Leben gezeichnet und in Kupfer gebracht etc. (Regenspurg 1698), illustration following p. 190:


Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe (Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], plate 2, following p. 24):


Concerning this’s bust, see supplementary appendix 326.1; also Wilhelm to Ludwig Tieck from Jena on 17 September 1801 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:267; Lohner 90):

. . . the very next morning I received a billet from him here, from the inn, to the effect that he had passed through here again with Catel, but without stopping; they were going to Schwarzburg [see below] and would arrive back here the 18th or 19th. . . . He will not be leaving Weimar immediately, since he will be doing Goethe’s bust, for which the latter must sit for him over eight sessions. Back.

[5] Wilhelm is referring to the guest performances of Friederike Unzelmann, for the sake of which Wilhelm, too, spent eleven days (till 2 October 1801) in Weimar accompanied by both Caroline and Schelling, as well as Julie Gotter. Wilhelm himself initiated the actress’s visit, which has been a topic of conversation in these letters since May 1801.

For her performance schedule, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 10. She arrived on 19 September 1801. Back.

[6] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Die Freundschaft (1793); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.968:


Although Josef Körner, (1930), 2:59, suspects that a letter from Wilhelm to Sophie between this letter and his (first) letter of 4 September 1801 (letter 328e) has been lost, Wilhelm does mention looking forward to meeting Friedrich Tieck in his (second) letter to Sophie of 4 September 1801 and may be conflating those remarks with what he had just written to Ludwig Tieck the previous day (17 September 1801). For the text, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328f), note 17.

Wilhelm may, however, simply be remembering incorrectly, since otherwise the letters between Wilhelm and Sophie during this period seem generally accounted for, and otherwise this particular month witnessed a flurry of letters to and from Jena, Berlin, and Dresden in any case. The possibility does nonetheless remain that one has been lost. Back.

[7] French, here: “a certain cast of mind, style, demeanor, appearance.” Back.

[8] August Ferdinand Bernhardi’s poem “Der Traum,” in Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 261–72, signed simply “B”; see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328e), note 9. Back.

[9] Wilhelm’s “Ein schön kurzweilig Fastnachtsspiel vom alten und neuen Jahrhundert. Tragiert am ersten Januarii im Jahr 1801,” in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 274–93, under the name “Inhumanus” (Sämmtliche Werke 2:147–62). See esp. Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 2 January 1801 (letter 279); for an excerpt, see supplementary appendix 279.3. Back.

[10] August Ferdinand Bernhardi’s periodical Bambocciaden, 3 vols. (Berlin 1797–1800). Here the title vignettes to the three volumes in order (1797, 1799, 1800):





[11] Print production in the mid- to late-eighteenth century (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 [Vienna 1775], plate 8):


Wilhelm had his first full copy of proof pages of the Almanach on 3 October 1801 (Krisenjahre 3:36), which appeared in bookstores at the beginning of November (Körner, [1930], 2:60) (Joseph Richter, Bildergalerie weltlicher Misbräuche: Ein Gegenstück zur Bildergalerie katholischer und klösterlicher Misbräuche [Frankfurt, Leipzig 1785], illustration preceding p. 149):



[12] Ludwig Tieck later rejected Sophie’s poem, and it was not included in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802. He wrote to Wilhelm sometime after 17 September 1801 (Lohner 93): “I will not be sending you my sister’s poem because I consider it not strong enough.” Sophie mentions the poem in her letter to Wilhelm on ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h); see esp. note 15 there, which also includes an approximate prose translation of the first three stanzas. Back.

[13] Goethe had read the entire Almanach by 8 November 1801 and expressed his approval with a turn of wry humor (“despite the evil names on the title page,” namely, Wilhelm’s and Ludwig Tieck’s) to Schelling, as the latter related to Wilhelm in a letter on 9 November 1801 (Plitt 1:349). Back.

[14] The poems “Ballade” and “Bilder der Kindheit” (“Scenes from childhood”) were Sophie’s two contributions to the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 64–77; 129–32. Back.

[15] Wilhelm’s correspondence with Ludwig Tieck during the summer and early autumn of 1801 is replete with misunderstanding, annoyance, vexation, recriminations, and accusations, not only regarding editorial work associated with the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, but also regarding plans to publish Friedrich von Hardenberg’s posthumous works, especially but not limited to the fragmentary novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen.

The two did, however, manage to work through the problems. Ludwig Tieck wrote to Wilhelm from Dresden on 12 September 1801 (dating according to Josef Körner, [1930], 2:59; dated simply “September 1801” in Lohner 87):

We vexed and upset each other so much that I was simply unable to get around to writing for sheer melancholy, and thus kept putting it off from one day to the next. I no longer know what to write, since I have had to see how you took every word in my letters in a different sense, how I insulted you without even thinking of doing so, and certainly much in your own letters has had exactly the same effect on me notwithstanding you never intended anything so ill. Forgive me for having vexed you, and I promise the same to you, and so let us allow it all to pass into forgetfulness. Back.

[16] Friedrich Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck published Hardenberg’s writings as Novalis Schriften, 2 vols. (Berlin 1802) (with subsequent editions). The novel was eventually published as Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Ein nachgelassener Roman von Novalis (Berlin 1802). Concerning the “spiritual hymns,” see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f), notes 25 and 27. Back.

[17] Wilhelm’s Ion: ein Schauspiel (Hamburg: Friedrich Perthes, 1803). In his (first) letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328e), he mentions that “the 3rd act of Ion is finished except for a few lines, and I am hoping the remaining acts will also proceed very quickly.” Concerning the timeline, see note 14 there. Back.

[18] See Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), note 16, and Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on ca. 28 August 1801 (328c), note 6. Back.

[19] Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, in the Thuringian Forest ca. 60 km southeast of Jena and with its residence in Rudolstadt, was one of the myriad principalities in Germany at the time, much like — as seen on the map below — Saxon-Gotha with its residence in Gotha and Saxon-Weimar with its residence in Weimar (Jena also included, which was part of Saxon-Weimar) (Map of the Empire of Germany including all the states comprehended under that name with the Kingdom of Prussia, &c. [London 1782]):


Schwarzburg Castle was an emotionally charged excursion destination for Johann Diederich Gries as well (Aus dem Leben J. D. Gries, 23, 37, 134; representative illustration: Johann Samuel Bach, Juliane Wilhelmine Bause, Johann Friedrich Bause, Der Sommerabend [1787]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JFBause V 2.267):

The romantic Schwarzburg Castle was always the place whither he most liked to pilgrimage; whenever joy or pain stirred him, he wanted to celebrate his moments of recollection here in this charming area, remembering those dear to him, those with whom he had spent such happy hours here. . . .

With his brother and other friends he wandered about dreamily through lovely Thuringia till they celebrated a shared festival of memory on the heights of Tripstein at Schwarzburg, which Gries celebrated in his poem “Return to Schwarzburg.” He sensed profoundly that this place was the origin of the very first emotions he ever devoted to the poetic arts. . .

“In Schwarzburg, the precious place of consecrated memories, I stopped to rest yet again.” . . . “In the late autumn of 1822, I was returning to Jena from a lengthier journey. I came through Schwarzburg, the paradise of my youth, and decided to spend the night. It was a beautiful evening, the moon shone down from the clear night sky, creating a thousand changing forms from the rising fog on the meadows.


And then a bit of youthful longing overcame me yet again, and, quite unmindful of the cold, I spent the night wandering about in dreamy rapture through my beloved valleys and hills.”

Here two illustrations of the Schwarzburg castle itself and its setting (H. Schwerdt and A. Ziegler, Thüringen, Meyers Reisebücher, 2nd ed. [Hildburghausen 1871], 167; Ludwig Bechstein, Thüringen, Das malerische und romantische Deutschland: In zehn Sektionen 3, 2nd ed. [Leipzig 1847], plate following p. 86):




[20] Concerning the Casino in Berlin, see Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h), note 6. Back.

[21] It seems a different hall was secured for each of Wilhelm Schlegel’s successive lecture courses in Berlin, including

•(1) the hall of a certain Herr Bölke, Französische Strasse 43 (attested in Adalbert Silbermann, “Über den Verfasser einer gegen Goethe und die beiden Schlegels gerichteten Schmähschrift as dem Jahre 1803,” Sonderabdruck of VIII. Jahresbericht der Kaiser Franz Josef-höheren Handelsschule in Brünn [1908], 8).

Here the location of Französische Strasse 43 (top left) and the Bernhardis’ residence at Oberwasserstrasse 10 (lower right; see the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm Schlegel’s residences in Berlin; map excerpt here from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1810]):


•(2) the Hôtel de Paris at Brüderstrasse 39, formerly the hotel “Stadt Paris,” location attested in anonymous, “Ein historisches Haus,” Die Bauhütte: Organ für die Gesamt-Interessen der Freimaurerei 45 (1902), 366. It was conveniently located quite close to the Bernhardis’ residence at Oberwasserstrasse 10 (see the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm Schlegel’s residences in Berlin; map excerpt here from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1810]):


Friedrich Nicolai, Beschreibung der Königlichen Residenzstädte Berlin und Potsdam etc., 4 vols. (Berlin 1786), 1:120, 2:965, confirms the location and describes the hotel as one of the premier inns in Germany “because of its size and fine interior furnishings, cleanliness and order.”

Here a view down Brüderstrasse itself from the Hôtel de Paris toward the Church of Saint Peter ca. 1806 by Franz Ludwig Catel (attribution uncertain); the Hotel de Paris was located on the left side of the street:


The property at Brüderstraße 39 was later divided, but the hotel, now with the address 39a, remained and was eventually renamed Hotel König von Preußen, here the light building at center in a photo by Peter Wallé in 1903:


Hans von Müller, in his article “[E. T. A.] Hoffmann, Julius v. Voss und [Franz von] Holbein in Berlin,” Mitteilungen des Vereins für die Geschichte Berlins, 24 [1907], 136, mentions that ca. 1800, i.e., contemporaneous with the commencement of Wilhelm’s lectures, Franz von Holbein (1779–1855) performed as a singer and guitarist in the concert hall of the Stadt Paris.

That Wilhelm was planning to hold his lectures there is attested in W. Schoof, “Briefwechsel der Brüder Grimm mit Ernst von der Malsburg,” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 36 (1904), 173–232, here 214, where Ernst von der Malsburg writes to Wilhelm Grimm from Berlin on 27 December 1805:

We are living in the Hôtel de Paris, Brüderstrasse. The landlady has two daughters, the older being the widow of the medical Geheimer Rath [Christian Gottlieb] Selle [1748–1800; from 1798, in his third marriage, married with a certain née Dacke], the youngest unmarried. The former plays piano very well, the latter paints after paintings from the gallery. Both are also mightily ugly, and very talkative, albeit not in the unpleasant way, and both claim to have a literary cultivation, and give their frank opinions quite pertly and openly.

They contend that A. W. Schlegel is the less crazy one, [Friedrich Schlegel’s] Alarcos [Berlin 1802] is full of nonsense, A. W. S[schlegel], who last winter held lectures in this house, which both of them also attended, in which he presented much that was quite nice but also much that was ridiculous, citing, e.g., the sonnet Don Quixote and Nothe [?] etc., and people say that who do not even know the name S[chlegel], and smile approvingly.

•(3) and the private residence of the Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer (attested in Karl Ende, “Beitrag zu den Briefen an Schiller aus dem Kestner-Museum,” Euphorion 12 [1905], 397; for the text, see Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on ca. 10 September 1801 [letter 328h], note 3).

Grattenauer lived at Lindenstrasse 66 (map excerpt here from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826]):


The honorarium was 2 Friedrichsd’or; see Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on 21 August 1801 [letter 327f], note 18. Back.

[22] Wilhelm ended up residing with the Bernhardis in Berlin. Though his remark here might suggest otherwise, it seems he was already residing with them when he departed Berlin for Jena in early August. See the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm’s residences in Berlin. Back.

[23] The reference is to a piece by August Ferdinand Bernhardi; see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328e), note 19. Concerning the term Gevatter, here translated loosely as “Papa,” see Caroline’s letter to Lotte Michaelis on 20 March 1786 (letter 67), note 7. Back.

[24] See the initial paragraph to Sophie’s letter to Wilhelm on 25 August 1801 (letter 328a) along with the bibliographical information in note 1 there. Among other things, she mentions how Nicolai “talks about ‘snakes’ and ‘gnats’ and then mentions you and Tieck, so you yourself are to be viewed as a snake.” Back.

[25] In her letter to Wilhelm on ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328h), Sophie had remarked that she “recently had an argument with Bernhardi’s father, who was contending that both you and your brother were wholly prohibited from being in Göttingen.” See note 19 there for the background; for the actual text of the rescript, see letter/document 269. Back.

[26] Concerning such loans, see, e.g., Wilhelm’s letters to Johann Diederich Gries on 12 January 1800 (letter 258e), on 22 June 1800 (letter 264a), and 16 March 1800 (letter 258r), note 1. Back.

[27] That is, as a mediator in the legal dispute between Wilhelm Schlegel and Johann Friedrich Unger; see supplementary appendix 309.1. Back.

[28] No letters from Wilhelm Schlegel to Wilhelm von Schütz seem to be extant. Back.

[29] Josef Körner, (1930), 2:60, here adduces Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher of 7 September 1801 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:289–92), which may have included a lost enclosure, i.e., an intimate letter to Sophie. See Wilhelm’s (second) letter to Sophie on 4 September 1801 (letter 328f), where he remarks that “next time I will include a letter to Schleiermacher in the same way as this one”; see esp. note 16 there. Back.

[30] Goethe was so impressed by Mozart’s opera or singspiel Die Zauberflöte (The magic flute; premiered in Vienna on 30 September 1791), whose performance Goethe attended in Weimar in 1794, that he began a sequel on which he worked during the 1790s but never completed.

The unfinished piece was finally published as “Der Zauberflöte zweiter Teil. Entwurf zu einem dramatischen Märchen,” Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1802: Der Liebe und Freundschaft gewidmet (Bremen 1802), 15–36. Here the accompanying illustration (“What ails you, my dear little man?”; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Translation © 2015 Doug Stott