Letter 344

• 344. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 28 January 1802

[Jena] 28 Jan[uary] [1802]

|286| Again no letter? [1] And in the one to Schelling you promised: [2] on the next postal day, and an entertaining bit of news on top of that? It is a good thing I have my curiosity under sufficient control; but what can it be? — Cowpox. A Play by Fr. Rambach, [3] or Brennus. A Quarterly by No One? [4]

My friend, your neglect does indeed perpetually provoke my anger. I will keep the better part of that anger to myself today, since the day after tomorrow something will no doubt come from you — but seriously, is a correspondent such as I worth no more?

Since the letter to Schelling tells me nothing about anything I must and want to know, it does not count.

I know not why I am even writing today — probably in part to admonish you that the day after tomorrow the anticipated letter does need to arrive, in part out of desperation — I am feeling so ill that I know of nothing else to do but write, though it really does mean nothing more than that; it derives from excessiveness in the reddish crystal of a pheasants-eye. [5] I notice that my style is almost as exquisite as that of Don Armado. [6]

It seems that, really, I have heard absolutely nothing from you for some time now, which, by the way, I entreat you not to take as a gentle reprimand. I am indeed quite serious in this regard, as a serious friend.


Fichte did admittedly write a long and thorough letter, and I probably need not relate the details to you, since you have doubtless already been able to glean them from his own statements. [7] In it, he is |287| still very much the teacher who sees others only as students.

But so that you will also understand what he may perhaps say next, I must also let you know that his letter to Schad constitutes an extremely ill intermezzo, and that it was not possible for Schelling to ignore it in his response to Fichte, which was already sent on the previous postal day. [8]

For in this letter, Fichte violated everything he had vowed to Schelling even for the most extreme situation; indeed, in his rage he set aside all respect. We saw the letter ourselves. Schad did not conceal it from anyone, which was doubtless never the intention in any case; instead he brought it to Schelling himself at the first opportunity, declaring himself to be wholly on his side.

Fichte’s letter states that he intends to expose Schelling’s pretensions in all their nakedness, that Schelling allegedly does not understand the Science of Knowledge any better than did Friedrich Nicolai etc.; all of it written in that tone, and in an even worse tone his attempt to conceal his smiling indignation and wrath.

Schelling wrote him with moderation, that much I can guarantee you, and, in order to cut off any further developments in the matter until later, also mentioned that he hoped to see Fichte personally in the spring — something he does indeed hope to do even though he can only come much later than I am considering. I trust you will use this information as you see fit in this eventuality. [9]

Schelling urgently entreats you not to let the excellent idea about satirizing the essay in the Überflüssiges Taschenbuch (which we have not yet seen) fall by the wayside. It would be an extremely valuable gift for him for which he would also gladly compensate you. He is also extremely fond of the distich, which he thinks is excellent — but that will probably appear in the Brennus. [10]

Goethe has heard nothing from Berlin, and has on |288| the contrary made urgent inquiries to ascertain whether you knew anything yet. [11] And as far as the legend concerning the duke and Schiller is concerned, it is being roundly contradicted here. [12]

Madam Veit is still here; I believe she is unable to leave. Rose told us that everyone was having enormous trouble with Madam Veit; the people who still had demands to make were constantly calling on her at home, and her maidservant was complaining about being constantly summoned because it was she who had fetched things to begin with, and now the people were also demanding their money from her. Bills are coming from Weimar as well, which I know because they are being delivered here at our house. Truly wretched household finances. [13]


We will probably be losing the upright, scholarly, and boring Ilgen. For some time now, he has been involved in negotiations with the Saxon court, which wants to engage him as the director of Schulpforte with quite advantageous terms; he is insisting on maintaining complete freedom to publish, and word has it that it will indeed be granted him. [14]

Augusti is already being mentioned as the successor for the professorship in Near Eastern studies. [15]

Word has it that Madam Veit might first be going to Berlin. There is nothing to that, is there? [16]

The lofty status of “father” just caught up with Vermehrena son was born to him. Vermehren is allegedly behaving quite foolishly, and I am wholly disinclined to count all the sonnets he will be composing to the newborn’s poopies and pee-pees and diapers and swaddling clothes. By contrast, in the front apartment the handsome little boy just died, the only remaining one with the name of Eckart. [17]

I am now unable to write more.

Are all of you there also enjoying such beautiful sunshine?

|289| Adieu, my dear, even though I will hate you until you write me a proper letter.

Fichte’s noble Announcement and time compensation greatly diverted us. [18]


[1] This letter and Wilhelm’s to Caroline on 26 January 1802 (letter 343) crossed in the mail. Back.

[2] Letter apparently not extant. Back.

[3] Friedrich Eberhard Rambach, Die Kuhpocken. Ein Familiengemälde in einem Akt (“The cowpox. A family portrait in one act”) (Berlin 1802). Back.

[4] The journal Brennus. Eine Zeitschrift für das nördliche Deutschland, ed. Julius Ludwig von Rohr, 5 vols. (Berlin January 1801–October 1803), with no editor mentioned in 1802, whence — and to describe its inferior character — Caroline’s otherwise unclear “No One.” Here the front and back covers along with the frontispiece and title page to vol. 1:



Although this journal initially tried to maintain an impartial position toward the Romantics’ adversary August von Kotzebue, on 28 April 1802, on the occasion of Kotzebue’s play Die deutschen Kleinstädter (Leipzig 1803), it fired a full volley at his enemies — the Jena Romantics and their Berlin sympathizers — whom the play parodies and satirizes (no. 1 [1801], 665; 2 [1802], 75; below the frontispiece from the 1833 edition of Kotzebue’s play next to an illustration of costumes from the original French play: La petite ville, comédie de Louis-Benoît Picard: costumes de Perroud [Vernon] et Madame Pélicier [Nina Vernon] [Paris 1801]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Arts du spectacle):


Every upright man despises and loathes the immoral tendency of these writers, who are so eccentric in both mind and heart, hence it is pleasing enough to see them exposed to the laughter of the general public even though, admittedly, from a moral perspective they might sooner have merited a more serious rebuke.

. . . the new Jakob Böhme and Hans Sachs are allegedly familiar only in the circles of a few Jewish families here who would like to boast of being in possession of transcendental philosophy, or in the houses of a few booksellers who quite openly function merely as patrons.

Concerning the play itself, the scandal surrounding it after Goethe’s intervention, and the Romantics, see supplementary appendix 344.1. Back.

[5] “Partridge-eye,” “pheasants-eye,” or oeil de perdrix, sparkling red burgundy, red champagne of various types. See Philoin, “Wine,” The Analectic Magazine: Comprising Original Reviews, Biography, Analytical Abstracts of New Publications, Translations from French Journals, and Selections from the Most Esteemed British Review (1817) 10 (July–December), 470–83, here 472:

Next to the wines of Burgundy, are those of Champagne; so well known as to render it unnecessary for me to dwell upon them. At all grand entertainments, Champagne wine is indispensable; its known quality is to produce gayety, and to enliven the spirits.

Throughout Champagne, the grapes cultivated are black, although the wine be white, or slightly tinged with red (oeil de perdrix.) The red wines of Champagne are lightly esteemed, except those from Bouzy, Verzei, or Vergenai. They are somewhat fiery in the mouth, though light and of a pleasant odour. Champagne is aperitive; it intoxicates easily; but will not bear water.

The most esteemed vineyards of Champagne, are those in the neighbourhood of Rheims, such as Ay, Silleri, and Espernay. These white wines keep best, when made of black grapes. Before the late method of making Champagne wine, it was rare that it would keep more than three years before it became sick.

In fact, few wines are so liable to disorder and to spoil, as Champagne. When they are so, they become muddy, they let fall a sediment, and a kind of filament, or threads are seen in the liquor, which are unpleasant to the eye. Hence, you should not lay in a large stock of Champagne, even though the price should be reasonable, and the vintage good; for the accidents to which it is liable, may make it come ultimately at a high price. Back.

[6] Don Adriano de Armado, the pretentious character (described in the dramatis personae as “a fantastical Spaniard”) in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, concerning whom in act 1, scene 1, Berowne remarks: “Armado is a most illustrious wight, / A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight” (Charles Henry Jeens, Armado and Jaquenetta, act 1, scene 2 [London 19th century] Folger Digital Image Collection):


Armado’s letter in that same scene reads in part (Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. by W. J. Craig [London 1966]):

So it is, besieged with sable-coloured
melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour
to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving
air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to
walk. The time when. About the sixth hour; when
beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down
to that nourishment which is called supper: so much
for the time when. Now for the ground which; which,
I mean, I walked upon: it is ycleped thy park. Then
for the place where; where, I mean, I did encounter
that obscene and preposterous event, that draweth
from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which
here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest;
but to the place where; it standeth north-north-east
and by east from the west corner of thy curious-
knotted garden: there did I see that low-spirited
swain, that base minnow of thy mirth etc.

Caroline and Wilhelm did not translate this play themselves in their edition of Shakespeare, but Caroline had access to it not only, of course, in the original, but also in German translations by Johann Michael Reinhold Lenz (with the Latin title Amor vincit omnia [Leipzig 1774]) and Johann Joachim Eschenburg (as Der Liebe Müh ist umsonst [Strasbourg, Mannheim 1778). In the Schlegel-Tieck edition, it was not translated until 1839 by Wolf Heinrich von Baudissin. Back.

[7] Fichte’s lengthy letter to Schelling on 15 January 1802, reproduced in Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel (1856), 113–26; Fuhrmans 2:370–80; translated in The Philosophical Rupture Between Fichte and Schelling: Selected Texts and Correspondence (1800–1802), ed. Michael G. Vater and David W. Wood, SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy [Albany 2012]). Not reproduced here, though see below. Back.

[8] Concerning this exchange, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341).

Fichte had written a letter on 29 December 1801 to Johann Baptist Schad in Jena that Schad himself then freely circulated and discussed; for the text that letter, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), note 23.

Schelling responded on 25 January 1802 in the last extant letter of his correspondence with Fichte; for the text that letter, see Caroline’s same letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), note 26. Back.

[9] Schelling does not seem to have seen Fichte in Berlin. Concerning Fichte and Schelling’s previous correspondence during this period, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 22. Concerning the increasingly strained relationship between the two men, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339a), esp. notes 6–8. Back.

[10] Concerning Johann Georg Jacobi’s Ueberflüssiges Taschenbuch für das Jahr 1800 (including a preface by his brother, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi), see Caroline’s letter to Johann Diederich Gries on 27 December 1799 (letter 258), note 27.

Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:635, was unsure to which essay Wilhelm was alluding, wanted to satirize, or what the target of his distich was, which, of course, was never published in the Brennus.

The Überflüssiges Taschenbuch (1800) includes a not inconsiderable number of poems or rhymed pieces that do not seem particularly susceptible to parody or satire. There is, however, one essay in the form of a fictitious letter, by “N.,” “Sokrates. An C*** S***,” 115–22; might “C. S.” refer to “Caroline Schlegel”? Back.

[11] I.e., anything concerning the reception of the manuscript of Ion in Berlin; see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 19 January 1802 (letter 341a), note 6. Back.

[12] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[13] Concerning Dorothea’s inability to leave Jena because of debts, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Schleiermacher on 4 February 1802 (letter 345a).

See also Philipp Veit to Friedrich Schlegel in Berlin in December 1801 (KFSA 25:318):

Mother has been doing quite well for several days now and has not used opium for over two weeks. . . . Mother was just in an embarrassing position because Mamsell Volkärn [unidentified woman in Jena] sent the lawyer [Johann Christian Friedrich] Hochhausen [1772–1824] over here and wanted the money for the furniture; but Mother handled it so well that the Herr Attorney had to leave. Back.

[14] Ilgen accepted the position at Schulpforte (also Schulpforta) in Kösen (later Bad Kösen) near Naumburg, located approx. 30 km north of Jena on the way to Leipzig (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Here the village of Pforte in releation to Naumburg (Johannes Janssonius, Grafschafft Thuringiae Nova Descriptio [Amsterdam 1688]):


Illustrations from Friedrich von Sydow, Thüringen und der Harz mit ihren Merkwürdigkeiten, Volkssagen und Legenden, vol. 3 (Sonderhausen 1840), plate following p. 154, and Ludwig Bechstein, Thüringen, Das malerische und romantische Deutschland: In zehn Sektionen 3, 2nd ed. [Leipzig 1847], plate following p. 108):



Over its history, the school’s pupils variously represented in this present edition included Johann Elias Schlegel; Wilhelm and Friedrich’s father, Johann Adolf Schlegel; Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock; Heinrich Ulrich Erasmus von Hardenberg (father of Friedrich von Hardenberg); Fichte; Heinrich Karl Eichstädt; Karl August Böttiger; and Erich Schmidt himself. Teachers included Johann Adolf Schlegel and Karl August Koberstein. Back.

[15] Augusti became a full professor in 1803. Back.

[16] Dorothea seems to have departed Jena on 27 January 1802, then met Friedrich in Leipzig before traveling on with him to Dresden.

Jena is 75 km from Leipzig, Berlin 150 km from Leipzig, and from Leipzig to Dresden it is then another 100 km (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration: Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto, Dresden from the right bank of the Elbe below the Augustus Bridge, inventory 1754:1 543; Gal. no. 606, from The Splendor of Dresden: Five Centuries of Art Collecting [New York 1978], 66):




[17] Presumably the son of Christoph Friedrich Sebastian von Eckardt, half-brother of Rosine Niethammer, Caroline’s landlady at Leutragasse 5. Considering that the elder Eckardt had committed suicide in April 1801, his son may well have been living with his half-sister, Rosine Niethammer. Eckardt’s father, Johann Ludwig von Eckardt, had died in 1800. Nothing seems to be known about Eckardt’s wife. Concerning Eckardt’s suicide, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20 April 1801 (letter 310), note 18. Back.

[18] Fichte’s announcement of a new version of his science of knowledge, “Ankündigung der neuen Darstellung der Wissenschaftslehre” in Allgemeine Zeitung (1801) 24 (24 January 1801), Beilage [supplement] no. 1, 1–4. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott