Letter 336a

336a. Schelling to Goethe in Weimar: Jena, 21 December 1801 [*]

Jena, 21 December 1801

Please allow me to take the liberty, esteemed Herr Geheimer Rath, respectfully to request that you kindly secure a loge for Madame Schlegel and several friends for the performance of Ion. [1] Since I myself will likely be coming to Weimar the day before, you need only make a general reservation.

Unfortunately, but quite reliably according to our information, a rumor concerning the author of the piece has been spread not only here, but also in Weimar itself, [2] thereby depriving us, of course, of a not inconsiderable bit of amusement associated with the performance, and also modifying the nature of what is sent to Berlin, if not entirely eliminating it. [3] . . .

Schelling [4]


[*] Sources: Goethe und die Romantik 1:222; Fuhrmans 2:365. Back.

[1] The premiere in the Weimar theater was originally tentatively scheduled for 26 December 1801 (Caroline to Wilhelm on 21 December 1801 [letter 336]). In her letter to Wilhelm on Monday, 28 December 1801 (letter 338), Caroline alerts him that the play had not been given the previous Saturday, 26 December. It premiered the following Saturday, 2 January 1802.

The “several friends” included not least Caroline’s housemate and Wilhelm Schlegel’s copyist Julie Gotter, who later provides a useful synopsis of the play. Back.

[2] Wilhelm had originally intended to remain anonymous. It seems Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit divulged his authorship; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20 December 1801 (letter 336). Back.

[3] Namely, the altered manuscript for the play’s Berlin performance. See Schelling’s letter to Goethe on 29 November 1801 (letter 333a), note 1, and Goethe’s response on 5 December 1801 (letter 334b), note 5. Back.

[4] Goethe responds on 30 December 1801 (Goethe und die Romantik 2:222–23; Fuhrmans 2:366):

Ion will be performed on Saturday [2 January 1802]; people have ascribed it to no fewer than four authors. My loge will be at the disposal of you and your friends. Should you desire to stay the night with us after the performance, you will be most welcome. I will say nothing more, since I hope to see you in person soon.

Weimar, 30 December 1801


Schelling did stay the night with Goethe in Weimar (illustration of Goethe’s Weimar house on an early postcard: “Vor dem Goethehaus zu Weimars klassischer Zeit”):


He returned to Jena the following day (3 January) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Caroline and Julie had dinner in Weimar and stayed overnight at the Erbprinz Hotel after attending the premiere of Wilhelm’s play because “Caroline did not want to risk returning to Jena at night” (Julie Gotter to Cäcilie Gotter on 4 January 1801 [letter 339b]).

Risks, not least at night, included highwaymen along the route between Weimar and Jena by way of the Mühlthal, which at the time enjoyed an ambiguous reputation as a locale where shady characters lingered and often accosted travelers to and from Weimar, among other places. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 16 November 1801 (letter 330), note 7. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott