Letter 329n

329n. Sophie Bernhardi to Wilhelm Schlegel in Jena: Berlin, 13 October 1801 [*]

[Berlin, 13 October 1801]

Bernhardi has just gone out for a moment, so let me hasten to write a few words to you my dearest, most precious Wilhelm. [1]

Please excuse my foolish letter; I have already sufficiently chastised myself for it. [2] I thought it had turned you completely away from me. Just do come soon. O come, my beloved friend, I languish in longing for you.

Do believe that I love you eternally, unchangeably, but do not let it show, for my brother wrote me: “If I may trust appearances, you must be very fond of Schlegel indeed.” Since Bernhardi sees all my letters, you can imagine how such remarks are not at all pleasant for me. I would prefer to write nothing more and instead eternally repeat to you, “Come back.”

You would not believe the hours of the bitterest despair I have already experienced in your absence. O come, that at your breast I may forget all my suffering. If with the sweetest of words I could but make you forget all the gloomy moments my letter caused you. [3] I have never been envious, and yet now I am envious of all your words. Come, my beloved, most precious friend. The mere thought of seeing you soon inspires me, fills me with youthful joy and life. I hear Bernhardi; stay well. [4]


[*] Source: Krisenjahre 1:29–30. — This letter uses the informal du form of address and was probably a covert enclosure in the letter that uses the formal form, Sie, of the same date (letter 329m). Concerning the use of Sie and du in the correspondence between Sophie and Wilhelm, see the editorial note to Wilhelm’s letter to her on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a). Back.

[1] Sophie had been careful to explain the formality of her letter of the same date (letter 329m) by pointing out that “Bernhardi is sitting here.” Back.

[2] Sophie’s (second) letter on ca. 10 September 1801 (letter 328i), which had prompted a vehement response from Wilhelm’s in his (second) letter of 3 October 1801 (letter 329l). Back.

[3] I.e., the “foolish letter” mentioned above. Back.

[4] Joseph Highmore, Pamela . . . writing in her late Lady’s dressing room (1762); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur CLBenoist AB 2.1 (scene from Samuel Richardson, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, 2 vols. [London 1740]):



Translation © 2015 Doug Stott