Letter 336

• 336. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 20–21 December 1801

[Jena] Sunday before Christmas [20–21 December 18]01

|235| Where should I begin if I am to scold you properly? Nor should even this particular occasion really offer you anything better than a scolding, for it is being headed up by our friend Kotzebue, in whose company Herr Geheimer Hofrath Loder is pleased and proud to be traveling. [1]

So, tell me, my friend, what is actually the reason behind your silence? Do you believe that because you sent me the Laubthaler, that takes care of everything? [2] Or are you so terribly distracted and busy that you have essentially neglected all your good friends here?

My own anticipation was cruelly deceived today when no letter arrived; in fact, all of us were — Schelling is even fearful something unpleasant may have happened to you, — and Julchen is almost more perplexed than am I myself. We really are entering the 4th week now since your last lengthier bit of news, and, quite frankly, much can have happened since then.

Dearest Wilhelm, I truly must always know how you are doing, otherwise I have no rest — moreover, what I hear from you is the only |236| cordial contact I have with the outside world — But enough; that should sufficiently illustrate for you how bitterly dejected you have made me.

My health is fairly good, but — you must write soon. Did you not receive my letter of Thursday a week ago early enough that you could already have answered? [3] If nothing else, simple urgency would have required it with respect to the apartment — just as, similarly, simple good will should have done with respect to me. [4]

To wit, I am supposed to give a definite answer with regard to the Asverus house. I had until today managed to prevail upon these people not to rent it to anyone else, but now I will have to proceed without your consent.

I have viewed it; it is an extremely amiable place. The view from the upstairs rooms, especially out the back, is as pleasant as might be imaginable, taking in the entire valley from Kunitz all the way to Dornburg, [5] though the rooms are small. But there are 6 of them, not counting the smaller chambers, everything new, wallpapered and ready, the price 60 rh.

The other people are asking 60 rh. for six months for Klipstein’s garden, and the former is at least as good (and in some respects just as bad) as a garden house. Were Mademoiselle Schubart to move out, who is currently in Schelling’s former logis, [6] then the Bernhardis could live there as well, which in all likelihood would work out just fine. [7] The owner’s house is completely separate, and the hillock associated with his profession in front of the house is indeed quite harmless.

In any event, I will take it for only a year. [8] The Niethammers will be moving into ours here, since their own has been sold. —

So much for that subject. Your books have been sent off, a bit later than I was hoping, but the extremely poor road conditions kept the transport carters here. [9] I think that Catel is to take Wieland along as well as the things by Schiller. [10] And you always have access to Shakespeare there with your friends if it proves to be too much for him. [11]

What you are receiving here, my fine friend, is a charming little epilogue Luise sent me and which I freely rendered into German on a couple of evenings. I am including the original so that you can judge whether the musical element in it really is part of the music of the whole piece or might justifiably be omitted; and as might be appropriate. [12] The quarrel cannot but come off as quite charming with the French-style acting. Are your actors there, however, probably not a bit too rigid for my two passengers? But I do think you can successfully move it.

I did not have Julchen make a clean copy, since the final copy of Ion that went |237| to the theater there was obviously in her handwriting, and having this one there as well might not really be comfortable for you. [13] And you do have a copyist there yourselves. It did occur to me to send it to Goethe as well, but since I do not yet know whether the Weimar theater pays even the least bit, I did not send it. You can do so from there if need be.

What the couple of songs and duets contain in the way of something more essential I treated the same so that nothing will be missed — except that perhaps Frank is expedited along once a bit hastily by the neighbor because the retardation effected by the music has been eliminated. [14] One could, by the way, have this music in Braunschweig, where the piece is being performed. [15]

If you would like to compensate me now by sending (through Loder) the pieces again that you so scornfully took along with you, then I will fix them all for you. Luise says that Diligence also comes across quite nicely in the theater, and that is also one for which I wanted to do a nice adaptation. [16] And so that you can see that it is not incapacity that prevented me from translating the rhymes, I am including a little sample of the translation of these that I have begun. [17]

But now a bit about loftier theatrical matters. Goethe let Schelling know that things were going quite well with Ion and that they were hoping they might hasten it along for a performance as early as this coming Saturday (as the 2nd holiday), but at latest a week thereafter. [18] Well, I am sure you can sense a bit of emotion! [19] Goethe seems to be extraordinarily pleased with how deft the actors are. You can well imagine how there is already talk about a play being performed, and what a play! Some are saying straightaway: in hexameters; others, however, the connoisseurs: in heptintomachelapeter. [20]

But something you would not have imagined: Friedrich apparently did not take seriously the part about keeping your name silent, [21] or was unable to relate that seriousness sufficiently to Madam Veit [22] — enough, Ritter betrayed your authorship to Gries — |238| hence presumably also to the Frommans and others of that sort — and yesterday Carl Schelling came by, who knew absolutely nothing, and had learned of it at a public meal at the Meders’ from a man by the name of Richtsteig, [23] who claims to have heard it from Monsieur Ast; but as a deep, dark secret. Well, since Ast goes walking with Madam Veit every day, she clearly passed it along to this young man — who reviewed her Florentin — in a fit of confidential gushing. [24]

In the final analysis, I would rather not have told you about this except that now you have all the more reason to be attentive to the fate of Ion with the theater direction in Berlin. Although it is not important here that you are known, it no doubt is indeed important there, not least because Iffland and Kotzebue are now getting together. [25]

Gries did tell me that in Weimar he heard only about the simple fact that it would be performed, but nothing about the author — but Kotzebue probably found it out quite easily here.

We are, frankly, furious about this indiscretion, and it seems to me you could probably ask Friedrich about it straightaway. And you must not entrust anything to him again that really needs to be kept silent, or at the very least have him expressly promise that he will say nothing to Madam Veit. Those circles are characterized by an inclination to engage in endless gossip and retelling, and no doubt there will be considerably less of it when both Madam Veit and Friedrich are gone, since he, too, is not entirely free of this weakness. [26]

Ritter similarly seems to have no conscience in this matter — quite in keeping with his impertinence in so many other things. — He had told Gries the following funny story that I will also relate to you for your amusement, [27] though you may already have heard it yourself from Friedrich. Friedrich had written a distich [28] in his copy of Brentano’s crazy novel that goes something like this:


A hundred-fold beating does your a** richly merit,
As Fr. Schl. and others quite distinguished here attest, nor would they spare it.

And several good friends had to sign their names to it as well, including Ritter. Ritter really wanted to have the copy so he could somehow get Brentano to see it, who is here just now, but word has it that Friedrich himself enclosed it, though Madam Veit, of course, denies it.

Brentano, of course, will learn of it in any case, which is also quite salutary in itself. He came, as he put it, to present himself to Fr. Schlegel, to the high priest, as it were, to determine whether he still has any leprosy and in general to learn how he is constituted. [29]

But Friedrich was away, and he has been running around here with his limitless impertinence (denigrating item [30] Goethe) such that one daily hears about his new capers, which greatly entertains us here at a distance, since the fool has not dared approach too close to us. [31] And precisely at this distance, his novel did indeed provide me momentary pleasure.

But there are other things — things no eye has heard nor ear has seen — indeed, man is but a silly Hanswurst if he set about to expound exactly what sort of things! [32] I had a most rare vision: and am referring thereby to Vermehren’s Allmanach. [33]

On that same day, we had a similar visit. A young man from Lower Saxony came with a young African, the former bearing the latter on his back. A couple of fine and lively fellows; the African especially was extraordinarily nimble. They were looking for the great philosopher of nature, Schelling, at my house — in the belief that philosophy as little as nature herself could forbear — apes. No, neither philosophy, nor poesy, nor especially love and religion!

What is your reaction to such accursed ding-dong? I would not blame a single one of you if you all felt translated like Bottom |240| behind the bush and started grasping at your heads to see whether you, too, would feel rough ears. [34]

How do you like Madam Eber, who “feels the eternal” within herself? [35] We were endlessly diverted by the whole thing.

So also by the review of your Almanach in the Salzburger Zeitung, which has never before launched such an assault with heavy cannonry. [36]

Please do write and let me know whether anyone there is planning to write a review of these Almanachs in the Erlanger Zeitung. [37] Just in general, there is much you need to write me about.

Kammerherr Einsiedel was here. [38] He is presumably here as part of the traveling party, it was his intention; in that case, you will be seeing him.

Word has it that Goethe is writing a novel. [39] Schiller is adapting a piece by Gozzi. His hand will rest heavy on it, I am sure. [40]

I am enclosing a letter from Marcus because I do not have time to relate to you everything in it — and I wrote to Martinengo. [41]

I also received a letter from your mother and have already answered her. She is doing well and is worrying only to the extent she always does.


Schelling urgently asks whether you might translate the enclosed Greek passages into the appropriate meter. He will gladly repay you in whatever way he is able. [42]


Please send me several things through Loder, e.g., the theater program of 1 January, Iffland’s flyer regarding the opening of the theater, etc. [43] Would they not want to honor Kotzebue at that occasion? Have you read his book? [44] It is comical, how prophetic you were in the Triumphal Gate |241| without having the slightest knowledge of what happened to him. Otherwise here, too, Kotzebue is a pitiable prince. The thing is miserably written and yet could easily have come off well had it been presented with even a modicum of objectivity.

Stay well, very well. I must close. Do not remain silent for so long again. Do not forget me. Give my regards to Madam Bernhardi and Tiek.


[21 December 1801]

“Man proposes, God disposes.” To wit, yesterday I write until my head is spinning, get the package ready, send it to Loder, who had stopped by here to tell me he would be departing yesterday evening at 10, and am pleased the package will soon be in your hands, — and then the news comes that he had suddenly come down ill and would not be departing after all. He allegedly had just sent a messenger on horseback to Weimar, [45] and said that had Rose come just a bit earlier, [46] Herr von Kotzebue could have taken it along with him.

Well, no, I admittedly would not have tolerated that, but now I cannot keep myself from simply going ahead and shipping the whole thing through the mail, since even I myself am now in the dark concerning Catel’s departure time, for even though I did make a query by sending a note with the messenger woman, she did not bring me back any response. I am almost inclined to believe he has already left.

One more postscript to yesterday. Fromman paid Schelling a visit this morning and spoke to him quite frankly and openly about your Ion. It is now known in Weimar as well. Fromman was over there last Wednesday and sat in the same loge with Kotzebue. [47] Kirmes came over to them and spoke about the new play but still knew nothing more about the playwright than his own curiosity, and Kotzebue presented the (perhaps Böttcherist) hypothesis that it is by Wilhelm Humboldt, with which Kirmes concurs, considering that Goethe has gone to so much trouble with it and must therefore be greatly interested in it.

On Saturday Fromman was again with |242| aforementioned personages, and suddenly they all know and are also already talking about a long monolog. [48]

So now I am all the more anxious to get your next letters and find out whether you in Berlin have already learned about the effects of this unpardonable behavior, for there can be absolutely no question concerning the source of the betrayal. [49]

My dear friend, if you continue to be serious about the theater, something I am now hoping and wishing more than ever, you must perhaps develop a personal rapport with Iffland again after all, for though he will doubtless continue to engage in his petty machinations, something he cannot help doing in any case, he will have to accept all your plays. You have probably already been able to find out through Unzeline whether he has taken this one on. [50]

How nice would it have been had the secret been faithfully kept. Again, stay well and remember your

Loyal friends

I have had absolutely no luck attending the theater this winter until dato, [51] when The Brothers is being performed, and yet we do not hear about it until three o’clock in the afternoon. [52]

In Nathan, Vohss’s performance is allegedly the most striking. Otherwise no one wants to see it a second time. [53]

PS Gries, which is oats, has now gone over totally to the deaf side. [54]


[1] After the assassination of Paul I in March 1801, Kotzebue returned to Germany, where he lived initially in Weimar and Jena. Unable to establish himself in literary circles there, however, he decided to move to Berlin in 1802.

Loder, whom Caroline knew from Göttingen and who was taking Caroline’s letter and a package with him for Wilhelm, traveled to Berlin with Kotzebue on this trip. Caroline mentions the trip again below ([1] Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; [2] Dilligence [19th century]; Bibliothèque municipale de Bordeaux, Album d’illustrations diverses] [278]):



Loder had been named Geheimer Hofrath — approx. “Privy Aulic Councilor” — in 1799. Back.

[2] Concerning these Laubthaler, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335). Back.

[3] Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on Thursday, 10 December 1801 (letter 335). Back.

[4] In that letter to Wilhelm on Thursday, 10 December 1801 (letter 335), Caroline discusses at length the problems she is encountering in finding a new apartment to rent in Jena.

Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends through four ellipses to the sentence beginning “In any event.” The omitted text reads as follows in the manuscript. The text already present in Schmidt’s edition is struck through (source: Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription by the translator and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Bis heute hatte ich die Leute vermocht
es nicht wegzugeben, aber nun werde
ich ohne deine Beystimmung verfahren
müssen. Ich habe es besehn, es ist sehr
freundlich, die Aussicht aus den obern
Zimmern, besonders hinten hinaus, so
hübsch wie möglich, das ganze Thal von
Kunitz bis nach Dornburg hin, übrigens
kleine Zimmer,
aber 6 Stück, ohne die
Kämmerlein, alles neu, tapeziert u fer[tig]
Der Preis 60 rht. — Für den Klipsteinischen
Garten wird für das halbe Jahr 60 rth.
begehrt, und jener ist doch auch so gut (u
so schlecht in mancher Betracht) wie ein Gartenhaus.
Zöge Mlle Schubart aus, die Schellings ehe
maliges Logis hat, so könten Bernhardis
mit darinn wohnen,
und das würde
wohl zu machen seyn. Das Haus des
Eigenthümers ist gänzlich abgesondert, und
der Hügel seines Handwerks vor dem Hause
ist in der That unschädlich. Auf allen Fall Back.

[5] An impressive view indeed from the house’s location in the northeast corner of Jena and up the valley of the Saale River (Karl Baedeker, Northern Germany as far as the Bavarian and Austrian Frontiers: Handbook for Travellers, 15th rev. ed. [Leipzig 1910], 269):


Here a view of the house (albeit it, given Caroline’s description “out the back,” possibly incorrectly positioned), next to the inn Zum Schwarzen Bären (“a” in the illustration) from the north, showing the open panorama to the left (northeast) about which Caroline here speaks; Kunitz is identified at the far left (Prospectus Sedis principalis, et celeberrimae universitatis studiorum Ienae, ex Septentrionali plaga intuentibus conspicuae Albertus Carolus Seutterus Geographus Caesareus Aug.Vind.; Prospect der Fürstl:Residenz und berühmten Universitaet Stadt Iena, wie diese von Norden sich praesentiret. herausgegeben von Albrecht Carl Seutter Kajsrl. Geogr. in Augspurg [Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden]):


A view from the south of the house’s location on the river; Kunitz is located to the right up the river (excerpt from Petrus Bertius, Iena [Amstelodami Janssonius, 1616]); Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden):


Here the view of Kunitz up the Saale River essentially as Caroline is describing, first in a contemporary illustration by Christian Gotthilf Immanuel Oehme, Beÿ Cuniz (ca. 1780), Sächsische Landesbibliothek, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden; second on an early postcard:




[6] Was Schelling, who had been living in the Asverus-house on Luther Platz, now living at Leutragasse 5? Unclear reference. Back.

[7] The Bernhardis of Berlin seem to have been making plans to move at least temporarily to Jena, perhaps for the summer, though the move never materialized. Caroline mentions this possibility in her letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[8] The “hillock” was likely either the detritus or the location of some procedure associated with the owner’s profession of tanning.

Caroline moved into the apartment in the Asverus-house on 24 May 1802 and departed Jena forever on 22 May 1803; that is, it was her last residence there. Back.

[9] Caroline mentions her intention to send certain books to Wilhelm in Berlin in her letters to him on 3 December 1801 (letter 334) and 10 December 1801 (letter 335). Back.

[10] I.e., Wieland’s collected works, complementary copies of which Wilhelm had received from the Leipzig publisher Georg Joachim Göschen. See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 10 February 1796 (letter 207a), note 10.

Concerning the break with Christoph Martin Wieland, see supplementary appendix 194c.2. The materials associated with Schiller are uncertain. Back.

[11] A reference either to Wilhelm and Caroline’s own edition of Shakespeare and/or to the original plays. Back.

[12] Caroline had translated two smaller French pieces:

  • the comic opera Philippe et Georgette (see her letter to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 [letter 301], note 15); and
  • La maison à vendre (1800) by Nicolas Duval-Dalayrac, the latter performed in the new Berlin theater first on 15 March 1802 in Herzfeld’s adaptation (as Der Hausverkauf) before Luigi Cherubini’s Wasserträger (C. Scharffer and C. Hartmann, Die Königlichen Theater in Berlin. Statistischer Rückblick . . . vom 5. December 1786 bis 31. December 1885 [Berlin 1886], 40).

Here the costume of Ferville from Maison à vendre, opéra-comique de Duval et Dalayrac (Paris 1810) (Bibliothèque nationale de France):


Concerning the music to La maison à vendre, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 28 December 1801 (letter 338), also with note 23.

Wilhelm reviews Friederike Unzelmann’s benefit performance of these latter two pieces on 14 May 1802 (Zeitung für die elegante Welt 2 [1802] 78 [Thursday, 1 July 1802], 625—26; Sämmtliche Werke 9:189).

Berlin National Theater
Der Wasserträger. Der Hausverkauf.

Berlin, 14 May 1802. I have yet to catch up on our most recent theater happenings this winter from the end of March till now.

. . . The Hausverkauf was performed for the first time on the same evening [as Der Wasserträger], an epilogue in one act after the French operetta Maison à vendre, the only deletions being the singing.

This diminutive piece, one a Viennese correspondent once chided in these same pages for I know not what reasons, is in my opinion one of the most charming in this entire genre, and its comic motifs are so obvious and resolute that even an utterly wrongheaded set (though difficult to fathom considering that the French author provided the most detailed instructions; and yet it is so) and the inferior performance through which the two main roles were distorted by Herr Schwadke and Herr Bethmann, could not subvert the overall effect.

It was received with universal applause on the first evening and has been performed often and to great delight since. Back.

[13] Ion: ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803), a copy of which had been sent to Berlin with certain deletions. See Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 5 December 1801 (letter 334b), note 5.

Concerning Julie Gotter’s role as copyist for Wilhelm’s play, see her letter to Cäcilie Gotter on 4 January 1802 (letter 339b). Back.

[14] German translations of French plays often changed the names of characters (as in Nina). In this case, the character of Monsieur Bonnefoi, “merchant and neighbor of Monsieur Martin” in the original (the latter being Georgette’s father), has become Frank in the German translation. It is difficult to determine in which scene Caroline’s situation takes place between the two neighbors. Back.

[15] Concerning the French theater company in Braunschweig at this time, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe in early February 1801 (letter 285a), note 5. Back.

[16] Uncertain allusion, possibly Jacques-Olivier-Claude Ferrand (1747–1809), La diligence du Havre à Rouen ou le conscrit déserteur, comédie en vers libres et en prose, vaudeville en 2 actes (Rouen 1802). Back.

[17] Erich Schmidt seems not to have had access to these materials, or at least did not indicate such. Back.

[18] Goethe’s missive has not been preserved. — Caroline is writing on Saturday, 20 December 1801; the following Saturday was 26 December 1801, the second day of Christmas (second holiday). The Saturday a week later was 2 January 1802, when the play genuinely was performed in the Weimar theater. Back.

[19] Emotion in French in original. Back.

[20] Uncertain allusion; possibly a play on heptameters (having seven metrical feet). Back.

[21] Wilhelm had wished to remain anonymous as the author, at least until later. Back.

[22] Friedrich Schlegel was currently in Berlin, Dorothea Veit still in Jena. Back.

[23] The Meders and Richtsteig are otherwise unidentified. Back.

[24] Leipziger Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


The reference is to Dorothea’s novel, Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Lübeck, Leipzig 1801). Friedrich Ast was allegedly the anonymous reviewer of the novel in the Gothaische gelehrte Zeitungen; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm in mid-June 1801 (letter 320b), note 4. Back.

[25] Viz., because Kotzebue was relocating to Berlin. Back.

[26] “Ein Thé — medisant,” Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1803: Dem Edeln und Schönen der frohen Laune und der Philosophie des Lebens gewidmet (1804), plate 5; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


“When both Madam Veit and Friedrich are gone”: Dorothea Veit followed Friedrich to Dresden on 27 February 1802. Back.

[27] Amusement in French in original. Back.

[28] A pair of verse lines, or “couplet.” Back.

[29] Although Brentano had matriculated at the university in Göttingen earlier in 1801, he had left Göttingen temporarily in August 1801 and, as Caroline notes, was still in Jena in late December.

Otherwise Caroline is alluding to the complicated priestly cleansing ritual for lepers (or for skin diseases) in Leviticus 13–14, which begins (NRSV; illustration by Harrison Weir, from Religious Tract Society, ed., The Picture Scrap Book; Or, Happy Hours at Home, part 1 [London 1855], 10):


When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the disease on the skin of his body, and if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous disease; after the priest has examined him he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean.

But if the spot is white in the skin of his body, and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall confine the diseased person for seven days. The priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if he sees that the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall confine him seven days more.

The priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the disease has abated and the disease has not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption; and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.

But if the eruption spreads in the skin after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again before the priest. The priest shall make an examination, and if the eruption has spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a leprous disease. [etc.] Back.

[30] Latin, “and in addition; similarly, likewise.” Back.

[31] Clemens Brentano, misunderstood (so Erich Schmidt, [1913], 2:629) in Jena and even mocked by Ludwig Tieck, whom he idolized, wrote to Sophie Mereau on 10 January 1802, that he allowed himself to be used by the “inferior writer” Friedrich Schlegel as long “as it pleased me and until I myself wrote him and attested through actual documentation that he was quite the scoundrel in my eyes” (Briefwechsel zwischen Clemens Brentano und Sophie Mereau, 2 vols., ed. Heinz Amelung. [Leipzig 1908], 50). Back.

[32] 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NRSV): “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

See Shakespeare’s A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, act iv, scene i (Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. by W. J. Craig [London 1966]):

Bottom. I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was — there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, — and methought I had, — but man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream, because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke: peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death. Back.

[33] Johann Bernhard Vermehren’s Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 (Leipzig 1802). Caroline also mentions this publication in her letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335). Back.

[34] See A Midsummer-Night’s Dream, act iii, scene i.

The players are rehearsing their scenes for a play at the duke’s wedding, but near sleeping Titania, whom Oberon has made to sleep through the same potion. Puck meanwhile has placed an ass’s head on Bottom. Titania awakens, sees Bottom with the ass’s head, and falls in love with him, toying with his “fair large ears” (Complete Works, ed. by W. J. Craig):

Snout. O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?
Bottom: What do you see? you see an ass-head of your own, do you?

[Exit Snout. Re-enter Quince.]

Quince. Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou are translated.


Bottom. I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid. [Sings]

Titania [Awaking.] What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?

[Bottom continues singing.]

Titania. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:
Mine ear is much enamour’d of thy note;
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue’s force, perforce, doth move me,
On the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.

Then in act iv, scene i (“Titania and Bottom, Fairies attending”; illustration by Johann Heinrich Füssli):


Titania. Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
and kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.

Caroline mentions this same scene in a letter to Luise Gotter on 25 December 1796 (letter 175) in connection with a dinner at Goethe’s house. Back.

[35] Madam Eber = Ebert (by first marriage, by which name Caroline is still referring to her), then Vermehren (by second marriage). See the sonnet she had just published in her husband’s Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 195 (approx. translation):

To S. M. Sonnet

So the fairest of my flowers you would break?
Like dust the very blossoms of hope are to drift away?
In the stream of time my most sacred thing pass away?
And death's own hand crush the spirit of love?

No; when with fresh green the meadows do adorn themselves,
And flowers resplendent stand in the light of spring,
And a thousand lives toward the sun do turn,
Must destruction not gaze from me alone.

The breast's sacred ardor cannot die out,
I feel the eternal, it lives and thrives,
The gods' greeting hovers about the imagination.

Never shall this beauteous image escape from me,
Close to the breast of hope will I ever cling,
For in the beyond, too, will spirit to spirit fly! Back.

[36] In the short review in the Allgemeine Oberdeutsche Litteraturzeitung (1801) 134 (28 November 1801), 909–10, a reviewer assesses Wilhelm and Tieck’s Musen-Almanach, citing numerous short samples and in part reproaching it as being disappointing (“The Tübingen Musen-Almanach has, after Schiller’s withdrawal, fallen into the hands of new editors. But what is being presented to us is, on the whole, not as comforting as some believe”) and even bizarre (“Where on earth did Herr Tieck learn German?”) or weak (“an old, poorly rhymed legend”) and then in part also praising individual pieces (“the poem ‘The Dancer’ has several good and poetic passages”; “‘Images of Childhood’: a touching poem by Sophie B.“). Back.

[37] Erlanger Litteratur-Zeitung. Back.

[38] Kammerherr, approx. “chamberlain.” Back.

[39] A reference not to a novel, but (so Erich Schmidt, [1913], 2:629) to Goethe’s incipient novellas. Back.

[40] Schiller’s Turandot. Prinzessin von China. Ein tragicomisches Mährchen nach Gozzi (Tübingen 1802), an adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s (1720–1806) Turandot (1762). Back.

[41] See Marcus’s letter to Caroline on 10 December 1801 (letter 335b), which also explains the reference to Gotthard Martinengo with respect to Auguste’s memorial. Back.

[42] Greek passages for Schelling’s dialogue Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802), 32 (Sämmtliche Werke 4:213–332; here 232).

Caroline enclosed the Greek passages in her letter to Wilhelm on 14 January 1802 (letter 340). In her letter to him on 15 February 1802 (letter 347), she passes along Schelling’s thanks for having done the translations. See Schelling’s own response to Wilhelm below.

The reference is to a couple of rather stiffly translated verses from Sophocles and Aristophanes. The verses are cited in a section of Bruno in which Schelling speaks of the Greek mysteries, though in effect he is speaking about his own philosophy of identity in Platonic guise. In Schelling’s dialogue, the discussion focuses on the mysteries, which allegedly “are such [i.e., mysteries] more through themselves than through external observances,” to which the character Anselmo responds (my emphasis):

Without a doubt, for even though all of Greece had access to the mysteries, and participation in them was considered to be a universal blessing . . . they did not for that reason cease to be secrets and as such to be rigidly observed, from which we must conclude that there was something in their very nature that, though communicated to the public at large, could nonetheless not thereby by desecrated.

Schelling then cites the following two passages from the ancients as proof texts:

From Sophocles, Fragment 719, Tragedies and Fragments, trans. E. H. Plumptre, 2 vols. in 1 (Boston 1902), 2:177:

Thrice happy they, who, having seen these rites,
Then pass to Hades: there to these alone
Is granted life, all others evil find.

And from Aristophanes, The Frogs, lines 451–57, The Complete Greek Drama, ed. Whiteney J. Oates and Eugene O’Neill, Jr., 2 vols. (New York 1938), 2:944:

For ours is the sunshine bright,
Yea, ours is the joy of light
All pure, without danger:
For we thine Elect have been,
Thy secrets our eyes have seen,
And our hearts we have guarded clean
Toward kinsman and stranger!

See Schelling to Wilhelm in early 1802 (fragment from another letter; Plitt 1:346; Fuhrmans 2:385–86, who dates it ca. February 1802):

I have just a moment yet before concluding the letter and posting it to thank you for your own [not extant; ca. 18 January 1802; see Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 25 January 1802 (letter 343)], and in excusing myself for delaying so long with a response to fall upon you yet again with a request, namely, that you send me as soon as possible the translation of the Greek verses, if you do indeed still would like to do them.

I will be needing them very soon now. They will be incorporated into a philosophical dialogue I am just now beginning to have printed. It cannot possibly take you more than a few moments time, though I do realize that even these are quite precious. In considerable gratitude I will mention you as the person to whom I owe the translations.

Although Schelling included a note in the original edition of Bruno, 225, adducing the source of the Sophoclean fragment (Opp. Soph., ed. [Richard François Philipp] Brun[c]k, ), 4:636; presumably some edition of Sophoclis tragoediae septem ad optimorum exemplarium fidem emendatae cum versione et notis ex edition [etc.], 4 vols. [1786–89], though this pagination does not seem accurate), he does not credit Wilhelm as the translator of the passages. Back.

[43] Concerning the old and new theaters in Berlin, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 28 April 1801 (letter 312c), notes 6 and 7.

At the opening of the new theater on 1 January 1802, Iffland delivered a verse prologue from Karl Alexander Herklot’s “Rede bei Gelegenheit der Einweihung des neuen Schauspielhauses.” August von Kotzebue’s Die Kreuzfahrer. Ein Schauspiel in fünf Akten (“The crusaders”) (Leipzig 1803) was performed (illustration from the edition Neue Schauspiele, vol. 9 (Leipzig 1803; second illustration: Louis Spohr, costumes for Die Kreuzfahrer: Oper nach Kotzebue [Mainz ca. 1850]; private collection):



See Brennus. Eine Zeitschrift fur das nördliche Deutschland (Berlin 1802) 1:129. Back.

[44] Das merkwürdigste Jahr meines Lebens (Berlin 1801); translated into English by Benjamin Beresford as The most remarkable year in the life of Augustus von Kotzebue: containing an account of his exile into Siberia, and of the other extraordinary events which happened to him in Russia, 3 vols. (London 1802):




[45] To alert his traveling companion August von Kotzebue (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[46] With the parcel for Wilhelm. Back.

[47] I.e., at a performance in the Weimar theater. On Wednesday, 16 December 1801, the company performed Das unterbrochene Opferfest. Eine heroisch-komische Oper in zwey Aufzügen (1796), a “heroic-comic opera in two acts” by Franz Xaver Huber, music by Peter von Winter (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 42). Back.

[48] Creusa’s monologue in act iv, scene i, in which she laments her seduction by Apollo and her exposure of the infant Ion at the shrine of Apollo. The nature of this monologue caused problems later especially at the Berlin performance. Back.

[49] I.e., Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit. Back.

[50] See Ella Horn’s essay on the background to the premiere of Hamlet in Berlin concerning the entire affair surrounding the troubled history of this performance of Hamlet as well as the progressively troubled relationship between Madam Iffland and her husband, August Wilhelm Iffland, on the one hand, and Wilhelm and Caroline, on the other. Back.

[51] Latin, “[until] today.” Back.

[52] Friedrich Hildebrand von Einsiedel, Die Brüder. Ein Lustspiel nach Terenz in fünf Akten (Leipzig 1802) was performed in Weimar on 21 December 1802 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 42). See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 June 1801 (letter 322), note 28.

After the review of the performance on Anna Amalia’s birthday in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1801) 135, by A. v. K(otzebue?), Wilhelm then published a lengthy, anonymous account in the next issue (Zeitung für die elegante Welt [1800] 136 [Thursday, 12 November 1801], 1093–98), excessively pedantic, after the fashion of Karl August Böttiger, concerning costumes, masks, and gesticulation (e.g., “The costumes of the two youths were less impressive . . . they were not properly tailored and were especially much too short in the rear; nor did they wear them to good advantage etc.”). Schelling queried Wilhelm from Jena on 16 July 1802 (Plitt 1:376):

We [he and Caroline] would like to know whether you ever published an account of the Weimar performance of Die Brüder in the elegante Welt; no one seems to know, and yet we do recall your having written such. Back.

[53] Schiller’s adaptation of Lessing’s play Nathan der Weise (N. p. 1779). See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 16 November 1801 (letter 330), note 6. Caroline similarly mentions the actors’, and esp. Vohs’s, performances in her letter to Wilhelm on 3 December 1801 (letter 334). Back.

[54] A play on words: Germ. Gries, “groats, oatmeal.”

Johann Diederich Gries was increasingly losing his hearing, so much so that after his troubling experience at the performance of Ion on 2 January 1802, he did not visit Caroline again until 14 January 1802 (see her letter to Wilhelm on that date [letter 340]):

His deafness caused him such despair in the theater that he began a serious cure for the first time and was not permitted to go out. What he heard and saw made him so anxious to hear even more, and made him so crazy because of his own neglect that he immediately threw himself into Himly’s arms. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott