Letter 339c

339c. Friedrich Schlegel to Rahel Levin in Berlin: Berlin, January 1802 [*]

[Berlin, January 1802]

If at the end yesterday I perhaps acted as I should not have, please do forgive me, or simply forget about it. I will not be that way again, nor the way I was before. Time is short, and you shall have no more reason to complain. [1]

It is quite true that I find it repugnant, and that it outrages me, that people are even allowed to know that I visited you, that they may even dare speak about it, and, in their own way to make conjectures, if such must be the case, concerning what they say. — And yet — it is no excuse — I may find myself importunate for a moment or even insulted, and I will certainly never be so again.

When I consider! and realize that I will, after all, have to depart quickly sooner or later. It seems that I still have so infinitely much to say to you, and then I am angry with myself for not having used the time more prudently.

All this, moreover, proves how much I love you, since I am speaking only of myself. —

The time will surely come when I say absolutely nothing more about myself, when I then can say what I know about you. But this, too, is not really what I wanted to say. I have not really comprehended you, my dear. — But I do know what you said, and more still. Nothing has been lost. I am happy even if I must be sad.


How did you sleep? Are you well again?

Will you be home today, perhaps later than 6:00? Drop me a line. You are almost turning me into Brinckmann with bi[tt]ch[?]. [2]

Please do not forget me, i.e., think continually of me. [3]


[*] Sources: Briefe von und an Friedrich und Dorothea Schlegel, ed. Josef Körner (Berlin 1926), 36–37; KFSA 25:321. Dating according to KFSA 25:646 (Körner [1926] 36: “December 1801”).

Concerning the background to the relationship between Friedrich and Rahel, see Friedrich’s letter to her from earlier in December (letter 335c), note 2, and his letters to her during December 1801 (letters 335c, 335d, 335g); see esp. also Dorothea Veit’s suspicions in her letter to Rahel at the turn of the year 1801/02 (letter 335h), with note 1, and her painfully urgent words to Rahel in January 1802 (letter 339c). Back.

[1] Concerning the location of Rahel’s residence in Berlin, see Friedrich’s letter to her in December 1801 (letter 335c), note 4.

Time was perhaps “short” because Friedrich was thinking about leaving Berlin soon; he departed for Dresden on 27 January 1802 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[2] Körner, Briefe von und an Friedrich und Dorothea Schlegel (1926), 454, suspects this puzzling word may be mocking a turn of phrase used by Gustav von Brinckmann. Perhaps the English word remains a possibility (< Middle English bicche; see also French biche, “doe; girl, young woman”; ma (petite) biche, “my love, darling”; bichette, “little dear, darling”)? Back.

[3] Friedrich’s remarks in this letter, not least concerning his love for Rahel, are suspiciously strong enough to suggest a romantic relationship that had perhaps become more serious than Rahel might have wanted or expected (Taschen-Kalender auf das Jahr 1811; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott