Letter 335g

335g. Friedrich Schlegel to Rahel Levin in Berlin: Berlin, December 1801 [*]

[Berlin, December 1801]

You surprised me! — So you really were unaware of what I have always thought of you, and how I have always wished we could see each other more often? — For that I will indeed have to reproach you severely. — It is with heartfelt gratitude that I accept your permission to see you often, but you surely also should be prepared for me to make use of that permission. —

I found your billet late yesterday evening. Since my time today is already taken for the morning, I will arrive to inquire about you at 4:00. — Stay well.


I saw Brinkmann yesterday; it is interesting that he is not at all aware of what people think of him. That he has become so refined, however, is eliciting both astonishment and pity. [1] I have no time for Johanna. [2] Either at your place or [3]


[*] Sources: Briefe von und an Friedrich und Dorothea Schlegel, ed. Josef Körner (Berlin 1926), 35–36; KFSA 25:319. Concerning the background to the relationship between Friedrich and Rahel, see Friedrich’s letter to her from earlier in December (letter 335c), note 2. Back.

[1] Baron Karl Gustav von Brinckmann, who had recently returned to Berlin, had occupied a diplomatic position in Paris during 1798–1801, where he allegedly became “so refined.”

Josef Körner, Briefe von und an Friedrich und Dorothea Schlegel, 454–55, remarks that for some reason, an element of tension had developed between him and Friedrich, perhaps because Brinckmann had reacted negatively to Friedrich’s latest works. Friedrich remarks to Wilhelm Schlegel in early April 1802 (Walzel, 493–94; KFSA 25:344) that “few rogues are as repugnant to me this one.”

Brinckmann, had, however, visited Caroline and Wilhelm in 1798 in Jena on his way to begin that diplomatic mission (Taschenbuch zum geselligen Vergnügen 1803 (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning his presence in Weimar and Jena during that period, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 19 February 1798 (letter 195d) with note 4. Caroline also mentions him in her letter to Luise Gotter on 21 February 1798 (letter 196). Back.

[2] Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie had appeared in October 1801 in a calendar edition for 1802, Kalender auf das Jahr 1802 (Berlin: Unger 1801). The Berlin premiere took place on 23 November 1801, and the play was performed thirteen times before the year was out (Gero von Wilpert, Schiller-Chronik [Stuttgart 1958], 268, cited in KFSA 25:644n4). Back.

[3] Although speculation is perhaps unfair to Friedrich, it is still difficult to forget his indignation toward Caroline for her relationship with Schelling or that Dorothea was still back in Jena dealing with his creditors. The sort of relationship he envisions with Rahel Levin, although not entirely clear, can be conjectured given the circumstances and his persistent language in these billets (Kunst mit Weibern glücklich zu sein [1800]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


See esp. Dorothea’s calculated letter to Rahel at the turn of the year 1801/02 (letter 335h). Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott