Letter 343

• 343. Wilhelm Schlegel to Caroline in Jena: Berlin, 26 January 1802

Berlin, 26 January [180]2

|283| I received your two parcels with the printed material together last Saturday and send you my warmest thanks for them. [1] I wrote Schelling a week ago and thus did at least send out some news. [2] Indeed, I do not have the leisure to write as thoroughly as do you yourself, so you must excuse me on that count. It seems that the most necessary thing was for me not to have omitted it at all and to have added considerably more simply for conversational purposes. But I do have to try to be brief and will also do so today.

First concerning the financial matters, to get them out of the way for later. [3]

I looked with the greatest care through what you wrote about the issue and at the calculations themselves. [4] There is no longer any need to speak about my proposal, since you must use for your own expenses that particular part of the principal that I viewed as surplus. I am certainly sorry if your assets have diminished that we were instead supposed to maintain for the future with absolute certainty.

Since I never write down what I take in and pay out, I can raise no objections to your assertion that since 1800 I have received more from you than I have paid out, except that in that particular summer I did pay considerable apothecary invoices, to Schirmer, etc., [5] and that I certainly did not use excessively much for my own person apart from at the beginning of my previous stay in Berlin [6] — when I did not really have the appropriate arrangements for managing finances economically; and that during that time I always |284| worked quite diligently and was indeed earning money, 40 louis d’or at the Easter book fair 1800 for my poems, [7] 50 louis d’or during the summer in Bamberg for a volume of Shakespeare, [8] 20 louis d’or during the winter in Braunschweig for the Triumphal Gate, again 50 louis d’or during the winter and spring for a volume of Shakespeare (during the interim period, I finished one section of “Tristan” [9] and the entirety of Ion, for neither of which, admittedly, I have yet received any money), [10] and finally, approximately 25 louis d’or during the autumn for the Almanach; and that since that time I have contributed an additional 80 louis d’or, the remainder of a principal of 1500 rhn. which I managed to save during approximately the past 6 years. —

I do not know of any other way to compensate you for your loss except for you to take me on as your debtor for the entire principal of 900 rh. [11] (the 100 rh. to Claproth admittedly had to be subtracted, since that money cannot concern me in the least). You may perhaps object that this is merely an imaginary possession; but I will make punctual interest payments on it to you and sign over my furniture and books as security for the eventuality that I may die before having paid it off in full. I do not know of any better way to do it for now. —

Half the expenses for the memorial would then be subtracted from the sum, [12] even if you specifically want to receive back the 9 louis d’or that I received for your brother from Hufeland, as is reasonable enough, since that money is also listed in the budget. [13]

But to ensure that our affairs are protected from confusion in the future, it would be good if at some point you could calculate as precisely as possible how much you need each year, apart from your own income, to cover your household expenses. These estimates would not take me into consideration, since we do not know how much time my pursuit of goals and plans elsewhere will really allow me to live in Jena (I must seriously consider a longer journey, or rather a quiet stay abroad, and could very likely be traveling to Rome together with Tiek); instead, for any time that I spend in Jena I would simply pay you expenses. [14] |285| —

If I then add what I need for my own person, I will know how much I must earn each year and can organize my own plans accordingly. Of course, we will in this regard have to consider our means and what can realistically be accomplished. [15]

If the things you are thinking about paying for from the 1 louis d’or remaining from your principal include postal expenditures that are not absolutely necessary, I would advise postponing them, since I must see to it that at Easter I am able to pay the house rent for the entire year.

I just received your letter of 21 January. [16] I will honor the assignation for 5 Carolin, though I cannot deny that this whole business has quite caught me by surprise. You could not know how much I have just earned, or whether I still had those earnings accessible here, a circumstance that might easily have caused me some embarrassment, and it would certainly have been a reasonable enough request for you to let someone know at least one postal day ahead of time about such things. You did not, moreover, even let me know whether you presented the assignation as being payable on receipt, or whether I had a few days before the deadline.

In a word, this entire procedure is quite disorganized. You will say that I already received payment on the 9 louis d’or from Hufeland a while back. Had you related to me that you needed the money there now, it would already have been remitted. At the first opportunity, I will now also subtract from your 9 louis d’or that which remains after payment of the 5 Carolin; but then this sum must also be subtracted from the principal that I have agreed to owe you.

By the way, I could not have been prepared for you to have to draw money from me so soon again, since before my departure I had already taken care of considerable amounts, and you, according to your own calculations, received 195 rh. from me since November. [17] It has not yet been 3 full months since then. For an entire year, that would be more than 800 rh., which is more than I am able to send if I myself am also to have enough to live on. You will consider that all of us together hardly spent that much even when there were three of us, [18] and will be able to restrict your own household expense a little in a town as small as Jena without compromising comfort.

As I said, I will repeat my request that you specify the sum you need each year, which I will then try to get to you as punctually as possible in specific increments. I will pay you interest on the principal until I can pay it off, to which end I will also set things in motion as soon as possible.

That much concerning financial matters, which, as I cannot conceal from you, are certainly well suited for putting me in an ill mood for several days and robbing me of all my time. So if you really are my friend, you will answer me as succinctly and briefly as possible with regard to these matters and will spare me recriminations, which, after all, really do lead nowhere.


[1] Parcels presumably accompanying her letter to him on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340) with, among other things, the rough draft of her review of the premiere of Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel on 2 January 1802 in Weimar and a discussion of financial matters, including ledgers, to which Wilhelm also refers here. Back.

[2] Caroline had complained in that earlier letter (letter 340) about not having received news from Wilhelm since 5 January 1802. Back.

[3] Here Wilhelm addresses issues Caroline had raised in her letter 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340). Back.

[4] Although the distinction is arguably slight (“greatest care, attentiveness”), the manuscript to this letter (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels) reads Aufmerksamkeit here rather than Genauigkeit (“precision, exactitude” also “rigor, severity”) as in Schmidt, (1913), 2:283.

Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to “I am certainly sorry if your assets.” 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 and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Von mei
nem Vorschlage braucht nicht mehr die Rede
zu seyn, da du den Theil des Kapitals welchen
ich als Überschuß annahm, zu deinen eigenen
Ausgaben verwenden mußt. Back.

[5] I.e., the summer of 1800; the reference is presumably to apothecary expenses in Bocklet in connection with Auguste’s illness (illustration by Claude Louis Desrais and L. Sailliar [1771]):



[6] Wilhelm had departed Braunschweig for Berlin on 21 February 1801, returned to Jena on 11 August 1801, then departed once more for Berlin on 3 November 1801. Back.

[7] Wilhelm is likely referring instead to the Easter book fair of 1801, and accordingly to his collection of poems Gedichte (Tübingen 1800). Sophie Bernhardi relates to him in August 1801 (letter 327e) that she has “reread your poems yet again.” Back.

[8] Vol. 7 of the edition of Shakespeare appeared in 1801, König Heinrich der Fünfte, König Heinrich der Sechste: Erster Theil (1801); the next volume appeared at Michaelmas 1801, König Heinrich der Sechste: Zweyter Theil, König Heinrich der Sechste: Dritter Theil (1801). Back.

[9] Concerning Wilhelm’s unfinished poem “Tristan,” see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 2 January 1801 (letter 279), note 6, with cross references. Back.

[10] Ion was not published until 1803 (in Hamburg), “Tristan” not at all. Back.

[11] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the following text in parentheses. 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 and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

(denn die 100 rh. an Klagroth mußten freylich
abgezogen werden, da diese mich gar nichts
angehen können). Back.

[12] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to the end of the paragraph. 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 and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

auch wenn du [above line:] /die/ 9 Ldr., die ich
für deinen Bruder von Hufeland emp-
fangen, [above line:] /besonders/ wieder haben willst, diese, wie
sich billiger Weise versteht, da sie auf dem
Etat mit angegeben sind.

Wilhelm seems to have lost his train of thought in this final section, since the word diese seems not to belong in any syntactically comprehensible way to the sentence. The sentence has thus been translated without incorporating that word. Back.

[13] An otherwise unresolved financial matter between Philipp Michaelis and Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland that has been mentioned at various times previously in this correspondence. Back.

[14] It seems clear that Caroline and Wilhelm had agreed to a permanent separation, i.e., rather than a divorce, an issue that arises during Caroline’s trip to Berlin. The couple never lived together again.

Wilhelm did not make it to Italy with either Ludwig or Friedrich Tieck, both of whom did eventually make the journey. He did, however, spend time there in the entourage of Madame de Staël between December 1804 and June 1805. Back.

[15] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to “By the way, I could not have been prepared etc.” 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 and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Wenn unter dem, was du mit den 1 ldr
die dir jetzt von deinem Kapital übrig bleiben
zu bestreiten denkst, Posten sind, welche nicht
ganz ununmittelbar nöthig,
so wollte ich wohl rathen, sie zu verschieben,
da ich darauf bedacht seyn muß, auf Ostern
die Hausmiete für das ganze Jahr zu be

So eben erhalte ich deinen Brief vom 21 Jan.
Ich werde die Assignation von 5 Carol.
honoriren, indessen kann ich nicht leug-
nen, daß mir diese Veranstaltung unerwar
tet kommt. Du konntest nicht wissen,
wie viel ich gerade eingenommen, u ob
ich das eingenommene bey der Hand hätte.
Ich hätte also immer in Verlegenheit dadurch
gerathen können, u es wäre doch billig einen
so etwas wenigsten einen Posttag zuvor
wissen zu lassen. Überdem meldest du
mir nicht einmal, ob du die Assignation
auf Sicht gestellt, oder ob mir ein paar
Tage Frist dazu bleiben. Kurz es ist in diesem
Verfahren keine Ordnung. Du wirst sagen,
daß ich ja die 9 Ldr. von Hufel. vor einiger
Zeit ausgezahlt erhalten. Wenn du mir
gemeldet hättest, du brauchtest sie jetzt dort,
so wären sie schon übermacht worden; ich
werde dir bey Gelegenheit nun auch das
was nach Auszahlung der 5 Carol.
übrig bleibt, von den 9 Ldr ab
tragen: Dann muß diese Summe aber auch
von dem Kapital, welches ich dir schuldig seyn
will, abgezogen werden. Back.

[16] Letter 342. Back.

[17] This figure is reflected in Caroline’s calculations accompanying her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340). Back.

[18] Viz., Wilhelm, Caroline, Auguste. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott