Letter 335f

335f. Dorothea Veit to Schleiermacher in Berlin: Jena, ca. 17/18 December 1801 [*]

[Jena, ca. 17/18 December 1801]

My dear Schleiermacher, I intend to fight for every square foot of land! precisely because there are so many things with which people can justifiably reproach us, they should not be allowed to do so unfairly, and for just that reason you definitely need to understand that we are absolutely not at all at fault that the suitcase was delayed! [1] It could not be addressed to Berlin because Friedrich intended to take it with him himself from Halle, [2] and because it was the first time this year that the postal coaches missed each other because of the miserable roads, and no one could have anticipated that. [3]

And by the way, I received my letter back from Halle today with the message that it did depart, but the scoundrels did not put any date on it; they definitely missed several postal days with it. So I am responsible for the suitcase probably having departed after all, and by no means the diminutive dainty lady, or the good Lord, as you believe. And what diminutive dainty lady might that be?

Madam Herz means well, but she has no real idea what it means not to travel to Dresden, she thinks it is merely some sort of reasonable sacrifice, and as such she certainly has a right to ask it of me, and if it cannot be then I can comes to terms with that as well.

But my very existence here without Friedrich is almost too, too wretched. If at all possible, I will write Madam Herz myself tomorrow, but I do not know yet. If it is not possible, then tell her for me that my trip to Dresden is, in the first place, not as expensive as she believes, and that I would be dressed immaculately and pristinely anywhere and everywhere, and there no more so than here. Nor do I wear finery in any case, so that makes absolutely no difference.

And otherwise it is not merely for pleasure that I want to go there, but because it would be gratifying for my and Friedrich’s honor for his sister to see me, because Caroline has slandered me so outrageously. But I will submit completely to whatever Friedrich arranges and decides. [4]

If Friedrich goes to Dresden alone, then please do not hold him back too terribly long in Berlin. Adieu my dearest, good friend, which I hope you will remain.



[*] Sources: Briefe von Dorothea Schlegel an Friedrich Schleiermacher 116–17; KGA V/5 286–87; KFSA 25:318–19. Dating: KFSA: “ca. 18 December 1801”; KGA V/5 286: “probably 17 December 1801.” Back.

[1] In an otherwise non-extant letter, Schleiermacher seems to have reproached Dorothea herself for the tardy suitcase. Concerning the suitcase, see Friedrich’s letter to Rahel Levin in early December 1801 (letter 335c), note 3, and Dorothea’s letter to Ludwig Tieck on 17 December 1801 (letter 335e). Back.

[2] Presumably, as Dorothea may well not have known, because he intended to make an interim stop in Camburg to visit Sophie Mereau. Back.

[3] Camburg is located ca. 20 km northeast of Jena, Halle another ca. 50 km northeast of Camburg (A New Map of the Circle of Upper Saxony; with the Duchy of Silesia and Lusatia, from the Latest Authorities 1801, from John Cary, Cary’s New Universal Atlas [London 1808]):



[4] KGA V/5 287n25–28 speculates that this trip to Dresden was apparently conceived as a farewell trip to Friedrich’s sister Charlotte Ernst before Friedrich and Dorothea relocated to Paris. Dorothea wrote to Friedrich on 7 December 1801 (Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:77; Wieneke (1914) 346–47; KFSA 25:313; also cited in KGA V/5 287n25–28):

If anything comes of Dresden, and if our grand plan is also realized [i.e., moving to Paris], then it is better that we go directly from Leipzig to Erfurt and do not return here [Jena] . . . Hence should you go directly from Berlin to Dresden, then write and tell me in detail which books and papers I need to pack for Paris and what to do with the other things.

Traveling west to Paris from Berlin to Leipzig and then directly to Erfurt — without passing through Jena, which required traveling first through Gera — was the more direct route (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Friedrich and Dorothea did, however, return to Weimar from Dresden to attend the performance of his play Alarcos (Berlin 1802) in the Weimar theater on 29 May 1802, in all likelihood without any stopover in Jena (KFSA 25:685n10). They departed for Paris the very next day, 30 May 1802, and arrived in late July 1802. They, like Wilhelm and eventually Caroline and Schelling, never returned to Jena. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott