Letter 338

• 338. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 28 December 1801 [*]

[Jena] Monday, 28 Dec[ember 18]01

|243| To prevent you from looking for something you will not find, let me go ahead and tell you that Ion was not yet performed on this past Saturday. But when I write you a week from today, I am hoping to let you know more. [1] For I have been feeling so good since then that without a doubt I can, must, want, and will attend. Everyone had already gotten ready for Saturday evening, the carriages had been arranged, and the groups organized — when suddenly Ion was transformed into Molinara. [2]

We have heard nothing more specific from Goethe since then, though presumably he was simply unable to get it ready in time after all. Otherwise he doubtless did everything possible. He was present for every rehearsal, even the read-throughs, and completely delighted the actors themselves, something that will no doubt greatly benefit this divine child. [3] From the anecdote involving Reichard that you related to me, and from the fact that every time there was any talk of Ion he himself wrote, I can also see that he dealt very carefully with the secret. [4]

In the meantime, it has become so little a secret here that I have received various billets querying me about when Ion would be performed. I am quite anxious to learn whether you have sensed any unpleasant effects there caused by this indiscretion. Might Iffland be so brazen as to decline to accept it? [5] I hope not, but it has in any event robbed us of considerable fun. Our upright Oat |244| was forced to confirm for me once more that he learned it from Ritter. And just so nothing is left unexplained, it was also Friedrich Majer who helped people in Weimar find out. [6]

Both of your most recent letters admonish us not to do anything that might give it away, which merely renewed our rage insofar as we can see that you are still enormously concerned about it. See what it is you have to do, and put us at ease as soon as possible by letting us know what has happened.

I wish you had let me know for certain whether you intend to depend so completely on my account of the performance, which I might perhaps do with Schelling’s assistance and which, of course, will also have to speak about the play itself, [7] — whether you intend to depend so completely on it that I can go ahead and send it to the Elegante Zeitung from here, and under what name. [8]

Even without running the risk of missing anything, I do think I could wait until the Thursday after this coming Saturday to send it in, and thus still have time to receive an answer to these questions from you on that same Thursday morning if you send it off immediately. Perhaps you will be writing me something in this regard in the meantime from which I might take some orientation. If such does not happen any sooner, then please write down a few words yourself about the play, for example, about the extent to which it uses Euripides [9] etc.

Perhaps also the names of the clothing pieces. [10] We are all quite stupid about such things and cannot really ask Böttcher for help. [11] It is good that Fleck had nothing to do in Ion. [12] That would have been a pretext for Ifland, since poor Fleck can no longer do anything. Although this death will spoil the joy of the official opening a bit, it may perhaps enhance the solemnities. [13] I personally am sorry for his little wife, and am also sorry I will no longer be seeing him. — Iffland, of course, will be wholly occupied with being hypocritical. —

|245| You never wrote and told my how Madam Meyer performed the Maid. [14] So I will probably not learn about that until I am in Berlin. It will not be performed in Weimar because the duke cannot stand the entire play; or perhaps he can only not stand for Mademoiselle Jagemann to be playing the unimpeachable virgin maiden. [15]

My friend, I hope to God you now have your books. [16] I can vividly imagine your impatience, and I still freshly recall your skittishness concerning the money. But I in no way deserve your accusations. At the beginning you wrote me twice: “Do not be overly hasty with the books, and seek instead the most reasonably priced opportunity.” I had ten different plans to send them to you cheaply, and spared neither effort nor worry in the matter. As soon as I had received definite information, the ground burned beneath my feet — and beneath the books — until I got them off. Now they are long gone; surely you have them by now, and if not, then the devil himself has had a hand in it.

Did I not act prudently, e.g., by not sending Tiek’s portefeuille poste restante, [17] asking instead at the postal office here whether the Halle postal service was also expecting the one here? If he had neither the portefeuille nor the bust, [18] then the artists in Berlin might think the same thing about him that his own mother ultimately did, namely, that everything with this charming pilgrim is actually merely a fairy tale. For he must have come across quite charming indeed with his flowers and his poem, [19] which is almost too beautiful for the lightness of the occasion. Many thanks for it — and for the catalogue as well, which will definitely not fall on infertile soil. [20]

I was quite diverted to hear that Friedrich was compelled to appear in his buff coat, since after his absence he doubtless wanted to present himself in Berlin in a somewhat less cynical outfit, and now he must return so scruffily! [21]

The greatest of all my divertissements, [22] however, is that your lectures are going just as you wished. |246| I cannot tell you, quite apart from the more temporal advantages it affords, how much that has pleased me.

Luise tells me that you had the music from Philippe et Georgette sent to you. She is also offering me the music from La maison à vendre. Have you done anything with the former? [23]

You probably have already seen from the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung itself that Goethe incorporated into it a program on the exhibition, accompanied by copper engravings. [24] I am hoping to be able to send you a special printing of it soon along with Schelling’s Journal. [25]


You need to give me some reliable advice concerning my trip. [26] I will be having to take a transport conveyance. I initially thought about going from here to Leipzig and then resting there for a few days. Then a conveyance from Leipzig; or would it be more advantageous for you to send me one there from Berlin? [27] But, God, it will be so expensive if Schelling cannot come along as well. [28]

In any event, I am thinking about coming during February. I will bring Rose along, that goes without saying (her sweetheart has not yet written her a single line, and the good thing had already bought herself a quill and some paper but is nonetheless not overly worrying). [29] Let me know whether you received any money from Hufeland. [30]

My beloved friend, I have the house! [31] And the view is as beautiful as that in Doctor Luther’s, in fact more beautiful, being more Catholic than Lutheran. [32] You will be dwelling high enough so that the children cannot annoy you and the smells cannot reach you. [33] Asverus has assured me that they never had any problems with that. [34]

In the front, you have 2 rooms and 1 chamber, and looking out the back a room and chamber completely at your disposition and situated in a kind of 5th story that is a bit like a mansarde, but, heaven knows, right pretty, so do not imagine it is some sort of attic room.

I also took the bottommost room |247| or étage, everything for 70 rh. [35] Schelling believes an auditorium could be set up there. [36]

For now, however, I do think that, even if Mademoiselle Schubart does not move out, the Bernhardis can also live there with us if we all but give and take a little. That would, after all, be a much more pleasant arrangement. I would prefer, however, not to commit myself, e.g., to having to dispatch food outside the house, just as little as I can presume Madam Bernhardi to do so for me now.

There is also a garden alongside the house for the children, not to speak of how wonderful it will be for the little Bernhardi children to be able to play on the tanners’ hillock. We sickly women can then also splendidly assist each other. She can bathe in the house. [36a]

In a word, everything could be done, and we would not need to make additional arrangements beforehand. —

And consider also, my dear Wilhelm, my sweet Wilhelm, what charming opportunities you will have to scold me if the children happen to squeal more loudly than usual, or if the tanner hangs out a hide, or the bears make too much noise in the Black Bear [37] — you will always quip, “If only, if only I were still sitting in my familiar little corner!” [38]

But I already know what I will then counter you with, and I have done everything to secure the house. One advantage is that we have absolutely excellent, upright landlords. You should see the portly, upright fellow and his large, beautiful wife. He is also willing to arrange everything in the house for me just as I want it, and to wallpaper one of my rooms blue. I will send you the contract to sign at the first opportunity, since my own signature is not valid in this part of the country.

Did all of you keep Christmas? I gave Julchen, as was appropriate, a delicate white dress, while Schelling gave her, as was also appropriate, a ball gown of the utmost elegance from Braunschweig. I gave my black cook, [39] besides her Laubthaler, also a new blouse after someone let me know that she did not have many; and I gave my red Rose an apron because hers was torn. Julchen also gladdened her with this and that, as she also did elderly Christiane, who declared this day to have been the happiest of her entire life. [40] I gave Schelling a tobacco tin in which Luise had placed the following charming note: |248|

“The painting depicts an open field with an ancient oak tree in the foreground. Students are streaming in from all sides to hear the great philosopher of nature. Because no hall can now accommodate their number, he, like Plato in his day, has fled with them into the open air.” [41]

Schelling gave me a veil and a pair of shoes lined with fur in which I am to attend the theater in Berlin. [42] — You did not give me anything, and I did not give you anything, and so we are even. —

Luise, with God’s help, is now engaged in a joyous arrondissment. [43]

Roose, the professor, has received an appointment in Kiel, which he will probably accept. [44] People have received appointments hither and yon. Schelling finds it extremely unjust that neither you nor he has received any. [45]

Stay well, my good friend. I have now gotten over having not heard from you for so long and having imagined so many stupid things. [46] The word here was that Fichte could not get to Altona fast enough as a result of the Biester affair — So I thought it quite possible that perhaps you, too, had been compelled to move on farther to the north. [47]

Adieu, adieu.


[*] Because Caroline speaks here for the first time at such length about the actual performance of Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel and about her anticipated review in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:630–33, chose to include in the notes to this letter considerable material and cross references concerning the play, its reception, and its reviews, notwithstanding the performance did not take place until 2 January 1802.

Because the play and reviews occupy considerable space in coming letters, most of Schmidt’s material and references now appear in a supplementary appendix on reactions to Ion that may be consulted as a separate document, though annotations here and later continue to reference certain sections in that document. Back.

[1] In her letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1802 (letter 336), Caroline was anticipating that the play would premiere in the Weimar theater on Saturday, 26 December 1802. She is now writing on Monday, 28 December. Her next letter was indeed a week later, Monday, 4 January 1802, after the play’s premiere on Saturday, 2 January. Back.

[2] Here the theater in Mannheim in 1782, similar to the Weimar theater, depicting the arrival of pedestrians and carriages for a performance (Joseph Sebastian Klauber and Johann Baptist Klauber after Johann Franz von der Schlichten, Das teutsche Komödienhaus [1782]):


On 26 December 1802, the Weimar company performed Die schöne Müllerin, the translated version of Giovanni Paisiello’s three-act singspiel La Molinara, (premiered 1790 in Vienna), then repeated the performance on 8 May 1802 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 42–43) (1820 piano excerpt):


Wilhelm Müller later treated the same material (unrequited love) in his cycle of poems “Die schöne Müllerin,” Siebenundsiebzig Gedichte aus den hinterlassenen Papieren eines reisendend Waldhornisten (Dessau 1821). Franz Schubert set the poems to music for solo voice (opus 25; Vienna 1824). Back.

[3] In the play, the character Ion was the son of Creusa and the god Apollo. Back.

[4] That is, Reichardt always wrote himself rather than dictating it to someone who may have revealed the “secret” of Wilhelm’s authorship of the play, which Wilhelm himself had wanted to maintain. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336) and the first section of the supplementary appendix on the reactions to Ion. Back.

[5] Initially, Iffland was indeed reluctant to stage the play. He wrote to to Franz Kirms on 6 February 1802, initially rejecting both Ion and Schiller’s Turandot (Turandot. Prinzessin von China. Ein tragicomisches Mährchen nach Gozzi [Tübingen 1802], an adaptation of Carlo Gozzi’s [1720–1806] Turandot [1762]), for which he also had disdain (Geiger, Ludwig, ed., “Neue Mitteilungen. Schauspielerbriefe.” Goethe Jahrbuch 26 [1905], 51–73):

Here is my opinion for you alone: Ion is a piece with much reason, no heart, and no really sophisticated understanding of propriety. — I will not take Thurandot at all, for that would be to mock good taste . . . . Back.

[6] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki in the Königlich Großbritannischer Historischer Genealogischer Kalender für 1795:


“Upright Oat”: a play on the name of Johann Diederich Gries; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), note 54. Back.

[7] See Caroline’s anonymous review of Ion in the supplementary appendix on Ion.

Wilhelm was dissatisfied precisely because she did not also “speak about the play itself.” See his response to her review. Her — in his view — omission prompted a whole series of exchanges in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (documented in the supplementary appendix on Ion). Back.

[8] Caroline does not seem to have heard from Wilhelm before submitting the review. Back.

[9] Wilhelm’s point in his responses to Caroline’s review was precisely that, strictly speaking, he did not use Euripides at all, but rather reworked the original, largely Attic fable, though such was heatedly debated.

In any event, according to the broader fable, Ion is the son of Creusa either by Apollo (so also in Euripides and Wilhelm) or Xuthus. The adventures of Ion, Xuthus, and Ion’s brother Achaeus among various authors are generally understood as references to ethnological history.

Legends consistently have Ion settle in Athens, where he establishes the four traditional Ionian tribes (N. G. L. Hammond and H. H. Scullard, The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2nd ed. [Oxford, 1979], s.v. Ion). Wilhelm’s play deals primarily with Ion’s ambiguous paternity and function in Delphi. Back.

[10] Caroline’s descriptions in the review are based largely on what is already reflected in the costume designs provided by Friedrich Tieck.

Here the colorized copper engraving by Friedrich Tieck depicting the costumes that appeared in a review of the play as copper engraving 8 (albeit incorrectly listed as 7) in “Weimarisches Hoftheater: . . . Colorirte Darstellungen der antiken Costumes im Ion, wie sie auf dem Hoftheater in Weimar erschienen,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 14 (1802) (March), 136–48. The characters are from left to right: Pythia, Xuthus, Ion, Creusa, Phorbas:



[11] Karl August Böttiger’s scathing but repressed review of Ion prompted a scandal later. Back.

[12] That is, no assigned role to perform in the anticipated Berlin production; the actor had died on 20 December 1801. Back.

[13] Caroline is referring not to the “opening” of Ion in Berlin, but rather to the opening of the new theater edifice there. Concerning the old and new theaters in Berlin, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 28 April 1801 (letter 312c), notes 6 and 7. Back.

[14] The reference is to Henriette Meyer’s performance of the role of Johanna in Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie (Berlin: Unger, 1801) (Eng. The Maid of Orleans), which had premiered in Leipzig on 17 September 1801 and in Berlin on 23 November 1801.

That the role had been assigned to Meyer instead of Friederike Unzelmann greatly vexed the latter, and Caroline had even heard rumors that Wilhelm had coached Henriette Meyer in learning the role (Caroline: “truth be told, she would have needed lessons in virginity as well as fencing”). See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 December 1801 (letter 334), with notes 4 and 5 with additional cross references. Back.

[15] Caroline Jagemann was the mistress of Duke Karl August; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 April 1801 (letter 312), note 15. Conceptions of the heroine Jeanne d’Arc varied but could include a figure such as the following during the latter half of the eighteenth century (Charles Étienne Gaucher, Jeanne d’Arc [ca. 1756–95]; British Museum 1901,1022.2340):



[16] Caroline has spent the last several letters reassuring Wilhelm that she would send along books to him in Berlin that he had left behind in Jena (illustration from Johann Georg Puschner, Natürliche Abschilderung des academischen Lebens [Nürnberg 1725]):


See, e.g., her letter to him on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), notes 9, 10, 11. The concerns about cost Caroline goes on to mention involve failed attempts to have acquaintances take the books along instead of having to send them separately by postal coach or transport carters. Back.

[17] Uncertain allusion to Friedrich Tieck’s portfolio. Poste restante, Fr., a service offered by a post office whereby mail is kept for an agreed period until collected by the addressee. Back.

[18] Presumably an allusion to Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), note 50. Back.

[19] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[20] The catalogue index for the Berlin art exhibition? Back.

[21] Friedrich Schlegel had moved from Jena to Berlin back in the summer of 1797, then moved back to Jena from Berlin in September 1799. This was his first journey back since then. Although he left for Berlin in early December, his suitcase had gotten stuck in Halle. See his undated letter to Rahel Levin in December (letter 335c), note 3. Back.

[22] Fr., “diversion, pastime,; amusement. Back.

[23] Caroline had translated two French plays; see her letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), note 12.

Here the first page of a duet from Nicolas Dalayrac , Philippe et Georgette, comédie en 1 acte en prose par le Citoyen Monvel, représentée pour la première fois par les Comédiens Italiens le mercredy 28 Décembre 1791, mise en musique par le Citoyen Dalayrac… Oeuvre XVI (Paris 1794); Bibliothèque nationale de France:


Here the first page of a duet from Nicolas Dalayrac, La Maison à vendre (1800), which Luise Wiedemann is offering Caroline:



[24] Goethe’s brief account of the Weimar art competition for 1801, “Preise 1801,” was accompanied by two copper engravings in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1801) 234 (9 December 1801), 1902; see supplementary appendix 330.1 for the text and engravings. Back.

[25] Schelling and Hegel’s Kritisches Journal der Philosophie I, 1 (1802). Back.

[26] To Berlin, which she would make after 18 March, remaining until 24 May 1802. Over the course of coming correspondence, however, it becomes clear that Wilhelm, as it were, lost interest in Caroline coming at all. Back.

[27] Here the postal route from Jena to Berlin via Leipzig, on the one hand, or Halle, on the other (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):




[28] Schelling did not travel to Berlin with Caroline, and arrived instead in late April, early May 1802; he did, however, return with her to Jena. Back.

[29] Concerning Rose’s love interest, “a certain Herr Moser“, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), note 58 (Taschen-Kalender auf das Jahr 1811; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[30] An otherwise obscure financial issue with Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 19–20 July 1801 (letter 326), note 35. Back.

[31] I.e., she has rented a new apartment. Back.

[32] Wilhelm mentions the Luther house to Sophie Bernhardi in his letter to her on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f). Caroline had written to him on 27 July 1801 (letter 327):

Do you remember the tall house at the gate toward Driesnitz? Kammerrath Helfeld has completely renovated it both inside and out, and the upper story is empty — that is the object of my speculation.

See note 25 there for more information on this house, which was situated at Neugasse 23 in Jena. The previous “Dr. Luther,” however, was not Martin Luther.

Concerning the view from the new apartment, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), note 5. Back.

[33] I.e., the children of the August Ferdinand and Sophie Bernhardi; the Berlin couple was tentatively planning to reside with the Schlegels in Jena during the summer of 1802. The visit never materialized.

The “smells” were from the tanner’s workshop on the ground floor. See below. Back.

[34] Ludwig Christian Ferdinand Asverus was the previous renter in the house. He seems to have moved out in 1802 and bought his own house in town (“Hinter der Kirche 11”). See Peer Kösling, Die Frühromantiker in Jena, 33–34. Back.

[35] Fr., “story.”

Schmidt, 2:247, enters the bracketed word [Bernhardis.] at this point to indicate, as elsewhere, essentially an ellipsis of material not included. The brackets, however, are misplaced, belonging instead after the following sentence. Back.

[36] I.e., a lecture hall; both Schelling and Wilhelm were professors at the university

Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to “There is also a garden.” The omitted text reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription by the translator):

Ich meyne aber
für jetzt, daß Bernhardis auf jeden
Fall, wenn auch die Schubart nicht auszieht
nun mit uns darinn wohnen können
wenn wir uns nur ein wenig
fügen und schicken. Das wäre doch
viel angenehmer. Ich möchte mich aber
so wenig darauf einlassen zb. das
Essen außer Haus zu schicken, als ich es
jetzt der Bernhard. für mich anmuthen
seyn kann.

In the final clause, Caroline seems to have lost her train of thought, the result being an impossible construction in German whose basic meaning, however, is nonetheless still discernible, the reference presumably being to Sophie Bernhardi’s hospitality during Caroline’s upcoming journey to Berlin. Back.

[36a] Illustrations in order: (1) Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI (Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774), plate Vb; (2) Jakob Glas, “Der Garten,” Die frohen Abende oder Erzählungen eines Vaters im Kreise seiner Kinder 1 (Leipzig 1810), illustration following p. 42; (3) Gottlieb Bötter der Ältere Kinder üben sich mit Mikroskop und Teleskop (1804); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 287:




Concerning Wilhelm’s earlier advice to Sophie Bernhardi about the health benefits of bathing, see his letters to her on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a); and 21 August 1801 (327f). Back.

[37] Zum schwarzen Bär, the inn and tavern next door (Städtische Museen Jena, Stadtmuseum Inv. Nr. SMJ 1151[P8]):



[38] Viz., at Leutragasse 5. Back.

[39] That is, her cook, Frau Schwarz, Germ. “black” (just as Caroline goes on to call Rose her “red” Rose). Caroline is possibly referring to the cook who followed her back to Jena from Braunschweig in April 1801. The last name of her earlier cook, Lene (if she genuinely was replaced), is not known. Back.

[40] Apparently another maidservant associated with the household. Back.

[41] Presumably Luise Michaelis. Perhaps Luise had sent Caroline the tin from Braunschweig.

Tobacco tins were frequently illustrated either through embossing or miniature paintings. Here a typical embossed tobacco and snuff box of brass and copper made by Johann Heinrich Giese in Iserlohn in ca. 1760, to whom in 1755 Friedrich II of Prussia (the Great) had granted sole manufacturing rights for such boxes (auction photograph):


The motif of which Luise speaks is presumably a version or variation of the well-known illustration of Plato with his students at the outdoor academy (anonymous, “Platon und seine Schüler im Garten der Akademie”; colorized woodcut from Hermann Göll, Die Weisen und Gelehrten der Alterthums: Leben und Wirken der hervorragendsten Forscher und Entdecker auf dem Gebiete der Wissenschaft bei den Griechen und Römern: dargestellt für Freunde des Alterthums, insbesondere für die reifere Jugend, 2nd ed. [Leipzig 1876], 101):


Caroline then writes to Julie Gotter approximately a year later, on 29 November 1802 (letter 373):

What Luise wrote in Schelling’s tobacco tin last year is indeed coming true. His lecture hall can no longer accommodate the large number of those attending, some of whom had to stay away because there was simply no more room, and even Schelling himself hardly has room. The number of subscribers is pushing 200.

Schelling had attracted two hundred people to his current lectures, something he himself mentions to Wilhelm in a letter on 29 November 1802 (letter 373a).

These were for Schelling the halcyon days of his teaching activity in Jena, similar to the following seventeenth-century illustration of an overflowing lecture hall (anonymous, Studenten im Hörsaal [ca. 1600–25]; Dutch school; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur C Geom. 2° [228]):



[42] Caroline and Schelling both attended the premiere of Ion in Berlin on 15 May 1802. Back.

[43] Fr., “rounding, making round”; uncertain allusion. Back.

[44] He did not, preferring to remain in Braunschweig instead. Luise Michaelis’s husband, Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann, however, did accept a position in Kiel in 1805, where he remained the rest of his life. Back.

[45] Wilhelm did not teach again as a regular faculty member until accepting a position in Bonn in 1818, whereas Schelling was part of a group of Jena professors who left for Würzburg in 1803. Back.

[46] Caroline’s good mood quickly dissipates on 4 January 1802 (letter 339) after she receives an apparently extremely irritating letter from Wilhelm. Back.

[47] Johann Erich Biester, journalist, librarian, and academician in Berlin, and an opponent of Fichte, had been involved in a public feud with Fichte in which Fichte had taken issue, in his article “Erklärung,” Kronos (1801) July, 204–10, with Biester’s earlier reference, in Biester’s own article in the Berlinische Monatsschrift (1801) June, 435, to Fichte’s piece Der geschlossene Handelsstaat (Tübingen 1800) as “woolgathering.”

In his article “Der sich selbst setzende Richter. Oder: Gegenerklärung über Hrn Professor Fichte,” Neue Berlinische Monatschrift 6 (1801) July–December 1801, October, 290–99, dated 27 September 1801, Biester recounts how Fichte sought him out personally (Biester edited the journal) to have him deliver Fichte’s challenge to the initiator (Biester himself) of such slander, speaking also (Biester claims he could not remember Fichte’s exact words) about friendship and propriety between writers living in the same town.

Biester remarks sardonically that he considered it an “honor” that Fichte had seen fit to leave his own apartment in the royal residence (Berlin) on such a warm summer day, at the height of the heat, in order to seek him out.

In any event, Biester quips that Fichte recounted the conversation with Biester in that four-page article in Kronos merely to “display all his charm to his new fellow citizens,” even though much of what Fichte alleged Biester to have said was, Biester insists, simply untrue, e.g., that Biester granted him the “right” to write “whatever he pleased and to challenge whomever he pleased.” Biester insisted he spoke merely about the “freedom” to do so.

That said, the one liberty Biester insists he will no longer grant Fichte is precisely the liberty to “honor me with a visit to my home.”

The public feud caused such a sensation that Fichte, as Caroline reports, was said to have fled Berlin because of it (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Die Philosophen” (The philosophers), Illustrationen zu Erasmus’ Lob der Narrheit in sechs Abteilungen [1780]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki WB 3.31):



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott