Letter 347

• 347. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 15 February 1802 [*]

[Jena] Monday, 15 Febr[uary 18]02

|295| So, this time it was the little fairy sprite who beat me to you with the Ionian news; the previous time it was a witch. [1] Though it does not really surprise me that the little fairy sprite knows everything, it does seem a bit odd that she learned it so quickly.

Goethe maintains that he did not open his mouth to a single person about it. Admittedly, however, because two full printers sheets had already been set for printing and had to be undone, it was immediately known to the typesetters, printers, and footmen. [2] The entire matter has gone that way and has probably entertained you no less than us. They allegedly got to Böttiger to such an extent that he will not be showing himself again anytime soon. |296| It seems he received a formal directive from Geheimrath Voigt.

Although I do not yet really believe the thing about Goethe being able to reserve the power of general censorship for himself, I do know that in the future only official articles will be published in the Modejournal and that Goethe will be writing the one on Ion. [3]

To answer your questions: The king and queen appeared first with two accompanying persons who remained until the former left. Phorbas, too, with two treasure bearers — in which regard I also mentioned to you that it would have been better with a procession of several persons each of whom carried something individually. [4] At every subsequent appearance, the escorts remained behind except when Phorbas was led in by four such escorts.

I thought one nice touch was that Ion first examines the gifts with youthful curiosity before his attention is directed to Phorbas’s discourse and he then goes over to the latter and Pythia. [5]

Apollo did not have a lyre, only the bow. Goethe had the positioning of Apollo Belvedere in mind as the most familiar and made every effort to get Hayde into this position, though he succeeded much better with Ion himself, who perfectly assumed this posture and head position while standing in the temple entrance. [6]

Ion has not been performed again since then and will not be before Easter. You realize that Goethe rarely repeats plays of this genre, presenting them instead as rare showcase pieces. Nor would it give him any rest if he did so, and would moreover impose a bitter burden on the actors, who, if left to themselves even the smallest bit, perform comme des cochons. [7] The play will allegedly be promoted at Easter, and then he again intends to do everything he can anew to make it a success. [8]

|297| But now I do have something else to tell you in this regard that no one could have told you before me. The Frankfurt theater queried Goethe yesterday whether it might receive a copy of Ion and at what price. Goethe wanted to know whether one should write to you first and let you determine the price — but since I believed you yourself would have sought Goethe’s counsel in any event, we were able to make this determination in your spirit without any delay. His opinion is that one ought to leave it up to the theater directors, then one would receive the most money; and since they absolutely have to negotiate with Goethe, that is indeed probably the case, and he will proceed accordingly but also take care that you receive enough. [9]

Is that not quite nice, my friend? And how shall I be rewarded if this particular query has in fact been prompted by the modest essay in the Elegante Zeitung? [10]

The latter actually provided yet another modest occasion for joy as well. Goethe asked Schelling whether he had read it, since it allegedly pleased Goethe himself very much indeed and he read through it with considerable pleasure — and all this without the slightest suspicion that it might come from a familiar hand — then added that one could see someone had written it entirely de son propre chef, [11] and though some things were less clearly articulated, nonetheless a pure and beautiful perspective did indeed predominate in it. Schelling did not initiate him any further or reveal anything, and so also shall it remain.

But how delightful that I am always figuring out your secrets! How now, good Sir: you wrote an intrigue, and I know nothing about it? [12] Goethe certainly imagined nothing other than that I certainly must know, and the uncle himself betrayed it all to me, he who never before chatted so volubly. [13] I quickly gathered myself and spoke with such delicate imprecision that he never even noticed, while I, on the other hand, learned all sorts of things that |298| they were in fact not at all intending to divulge to me, I who, after all, am more discreet than the old gentleman himself could ever be.

Your punishment, however, is that you shall not learn what his opinion of it is, which he certainly did divulge as far as possible considering I was unable, really, to go into any detail. And as authentication I can tell you this much, namely, that even though you did not specify any more closely for him that you really authored this piece, I am nonetheless inclined to conclude from what he said that it is not by you. Eh bien, mon ami? [14]

Truth be told, I do now vaguely recall your having said something about a piece that you would perhaps be sending to him; I simply did not immediately think of that allusion when he first started talking about it. But all is fine now; you can tell me about it in person.

Solely weather can keep me here longer than I indicated in my last letter. This new snow has disastrously ruined all the roads. [15] But let me nonetheless ask that you arrange everything such that if I do not come next week, I will be able to come at the beginning of March. [16]

It will indeed be bad if it turns out that the Grattenauers have not really believed I would be coming and offered the rooms to you only with that in mind [17] — but it will not be all that bad. If Ion is still slated to be performed on 10 March, I absolutely must attend. [18] If there is a frost, I will certainly make use of it, since otherwise everything is already arranged for the journey. [19]

I will let you know in plenty of time if I will be making use of your offer to pick me up in Potsdam and will also take care to avoid a day on which you lecture. [20] In any event, please do write immediately and let me know the name of the inn in which I am to look for you in Potsdam. And even if it might be more convenient from the perspective of the conveyance to take it all the way into Berlin itself, |299| it is nonetheless impossible that I should actually travel into the city alone; [19a] I would be horribly fearful and must thus ask you also to give me the name of a place or inn near to Berlin where you could then come meet me, perhaps with Madam Bernhardi.

Please read this carefully lest you respond absent-mindedly and I then end up in a distressful bind with it all.

Apropos of absent-minded responses! You otherwise pride yourself in being uncommonly sensible, while I am the one you scold as being without good sense. But it does seem to me that you are now the one who has become less sensible. O, my stupid friend: Is the issue whether the cook is pretty or is an Ethiopian, or that a favor is to be done for you? [21]

By no means. I must simply know whether I am to retain one at all. Certainly not for me alone; I need her only if you will be here the entire summer, as was not at all in doubt at least up to your last letter, and if the Bernhardis will also be coming, which at least until now you have also presented as an almost absolute certainty.

So please let me know only whether it is indeed completely certain that they will not be coming, since I really do have to make my arrangements accordingly. [22] If you will be here only for an indeterminate period of time, I assume you can make do with me and Rose, and I will give the cook notice in that case as well, for as you will perhaps recall, I do not really need her full-time with respect to Schelling and could not make any arrangement [23] with him regarding her services since he will not be here for most of the summer in any case. [24]

You took my comments about the lectures the wrong way. [25] Quite the contrary, Schelling does not at all doubt that they would be enormously successful. Several students came to him who had heard that you were perhaps intending to lecture, and |300| he has already made arrangements with the one, Schlosser, such that they would gather signatures on their own initiative that would not even be binding on you. [26]

I must at least tell you that much as a corrective without at the same time trying to persuade you one way or the other. I myself would be quite delighted if things were to remain as they were in the initial plan — but we will soon discuss it. Give my regards to Madam Bernhardi; I feel as if all these unknown people are already becoming quite familiar to me.

I wish you had said something in your letter yesterday to Schelling about the effect your billet had on Iffland. [27] — I will also be delighted if you end up doing Shakespeare with Unger again, since then I will be able to visit Madam Ungermonster. [28]

Listen, Goethe knows about the thing with Alarcos and Friedrich just as surely as Unzeline knows about Ion and Böttiger. [29] He said all sorts of things about him, how he was always the pursuer as well as the pursued and also a real stinging nettle, along with a whole array of inspired things about him that at the very least balance out Friedrich’s own epigrams about him.

What you say about how jealousy goaded him on is no different than what we here expressed so explicitly right at the beginning — it is indeed true, the Fury is driving him on. [30] And I entreat you now to look back and consider how long his behavior might already have been so impure. May he remain at a considerable distance from you in the future so that he not be in a position to play ill tricks on you as well instead of merely stupid ones.

I consider it quite impossible that he will draw Tiek over to Vermehren’s Allmanach, especially if Cotta is not particularly compliant. [31] Friedrich can be bought — perhaps Tiek as well. I know nothing about the latter having had a falling out with Fromman; she paid me a visit and mentioned only that Tiek had not yet sent anything more of Octavian. [32] So what is he then doing? And what is it that these people are trying to get going together? |301| They should all get together and eat nothing but black soup until they have become genuinely honest and diligent.

This reminds me of an accursed letter that came in for you in which a biological brother of your mother, as he writes, residing 5 hours from here, quite unabashedly places a dagger against your breast. [33] You and Friedrich, you are supposed to give him something every three months, and if he receives no answer he intends to come himself and force you to do so, since his wife has relatives among the residents here.

I opened the letter because the outside made me suspect something of the sort, and now I am having Julchen write anonymously that you both were currently elsewhere, something the “person responsible for taking care of arriving mail here,” as I put it, is herewith letting him know. I vaguely recall that there was some such good-for-nothing; he is also complaining that no one in Hannover has responded either. [34]

They, however, do send their regards to you and are quite delighted; your brother wrote to me.

After six months of silence, a long and rather peculiar letter from Röschlaub arrived about which I will tell you more in person. [35] No answer from Martinengo. [36] I will be taking the oil portrait of Auguste with me; perhaps Tiek can find time to begin doing the bas-relief from it. Give my regards to him as well. Let us see whether we can recruit some Fichteans for him. [37]

Fichte’s meager success has admittedly taken us all aback. Madam Fichte is always the same. Must the silly goose stand in the window to catch such judgments that have absolutely nothing to say and do nothing but lead one astray!? [38]

Schelling sends his heartfelt thanks for the translated lines; they arrived at just the right time, since they just today began printing the piece in which they will appear, something which, if I am not mistaken, |301| is also a magnificent piece in its own right. Although I myself will probably not be able to bring it along, it will follow hard on my heels. [39]

One can hardly describe what fun Goethe poked at Vermehren’s Allmanach, at the sidecar and not even sidecar, at the Covent of your beer etc. [40] Goethe is here to oversee the cleaning and arranging of the Büttner library. [41]

I probably have not even told you that he is writing a novel. It is called Cäcilie. [42]

The anecdote about Kotzebue delighted him exceedingly and us certainly no less. [43]

If the postal service has not become crazy all over again, you will receive this early enough before the mail departs there to answer me immediately, so that I will receive that answer with the Wednesday mail the following week, something I would very much like to request.

Should I bring any other books with me besides those about which I already know? Stay well, my good, dear Schlegel.


[*] In this letter, Caroline recounts several items from conversations with Goethe, who was in Jena between 8 February 1802 and 21 February 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:49–51). Regrettably, neither Caroline nor (oddly) Goethe’s diaries provide any information concerning exactly when they met. Back.

[1] Concerning Caroline’s nickname for Friederike Unzelmann, see Wilhelm’s poem “Das Feenkind. An Friederike Unzelmann”.

The “news” is the scandal concerning the suppressed review of the Weimar premiere on 2 January 1802 of Wilhelm’s Ion: ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803) by Karl August Böttiger, which Caroline had related to Wilhelm in her letter on 8 February 1802 (letter 346). Back.

[2] I.e., the interrupted printing of Böttiger’s review.

Here an illustration of the various employees of a period printing operation who might know about the interrupted printing (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki (Die Arbeit in der Buchdruckerei, from 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 xxi c):


The following three illustrations date to the early eighteenth century (Christoff Weigel, Abbildung Der Gemein-Nützlichen Haupt-Stände Von denen Regenten Und ihren So in Friedens- als Kriegs-Zeiten zugeordneten Bedienten an biß auf alle Künstler und Handwercker nach Jedes Ambts- und Beruffs-Verrichtungen meist nach dem Leben gezeichnet und in Kupfer gebracht etc. [Regenspurg 1698], illustrations following pp. 240, 248, 256 [misnumbered as 456]: printers, binders, management):




[3] In her letter to Wilhelm on 8 February 1802 (letter 346), Caroline had remarked that one of Goethe’s conditions for continuing as theater director in Weimar was that “in the future everything that was published in Weimar concerning the theater be subject to his censorship.”

Modejournal is shorthand for the cultural-historical periodical published by Friedrich Justin Bertuch in Weimar, Journal des Luxus und der Moden (1786–1827). See the supplementary appendix on Ion for the text of Goethe’s review. Back.

[4] King Xuthus, Queen Creusa, and the elderly Phorbas in Ion. Caroline earlier addressed this issue of attendants in her letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339):

With respect to the offerings, my criticism was that although they were certainly nicely arranged, they were all borne on a single bier, and by only two slaves. A procession of slaves each bringing a single gift would have been more effective in my opinion.

Caroline is thinking of a processional similar to the following (albeit with slaves), in which the four Horae, together with other deities (including Hephaestus and Athena) bring gifts to Peleus and Thetis (veiled as a bride) on the occasion of their wedding (Carl Ottfried Müller and Carl Osterley, Denkmäler der alten Kunst, 3rd ed., ed. Friedrich Wieseler [Göttingen 1877], vol. 2, no. 2, plate 961):



[5] Act 1, scene 4. Back.

[6] Here Apollo with his traditional lyre (Carl Ottfried Müller and Carl Osterley, Denkmäler der alten Kunst, 3rd ed., ed. Friedrich Wieseler [Göttingen 1877], vol. 2, no. 2, plate 132):


In her description of the premiere of Ion on 2 January 1802, Caroline remarks to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 4 January 1803 (letter 339):

Goethe had instructed Mademoiselle Jagemann [who performed the role of Ion] to position herself, while performing her temple service at the beginning of the play, in the same place in the temple opening as did Apollo at the end of the play — and to linger there for several minutes. This positioning provided a beautiful evocation of the beginning of the play at the end and, at the same time, provided a connection between father and son by means of a more striking resemblance.

Apollo Belvedere, a sculpture originally done in bronze by a Greek sculptor ca. 350–325 BCE and rediscovered in a marble copy in Italy during the late 15th century, now housed in the Belvedere Palace of the Vatican in Rome. Although Napoleon acquired it during his Italian campaign in 1796 and from 1798 housed made it part of the Louvre collection, it was returned to the Vatican in 1815.

It is unclear whether Caroline was aware of this development, and uncertain with which reproduction or she was familiar, either as an illustration in a book or as an engraving or plaster reproduction, which were quite popular in Europe during the late eighteenth century.

The kind and quality of reproduction with which Caroline may have been familiar is found, e.g., in Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s, Histoire de l’art chez les anciens, trans. Hendrik Jansen, vol. 1 (Paris 1793), plate xxv:


It is difficult to overestimate the significance and influence this piece had on the understanding of beauty during the eighteenth century, initiated not least by Winckelmann’s discussion in his Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, vol. 1 (Dresden 1764), 392–94 (The History of Ancient Art, vol. 2 [sic], trans. G. Henry Lodge [Boston 1880], 312–14):

Among all the works of antiquity which have escaped destruction the statue of Apollo is the highest ideal of art. The artist has constructed this work entirely on the ideal, and has employed in its structure just so much only of the material as was necessary to carry out his design and render it visible. This Apollo exceeds all other figures of him as much as the Apollo of Homer excels him whom later poets paint. His stature is loftier than that of man, and his attitude speaks of the greatness with which he is filled. An eternal spring, as in the happy fields of Elysium, clothes with the charms of youth the graceful manliness of ripened years, and plays with softness and tenderness about the proud shape of his limbs.

Let thy spirit penetrate into the kingdom of incorporeal beauties, and strive to become a creator of a heavenly nature, in order that thy mind may be filled with beauties that are elevated above nature; for there is nothing mortal here, nothing which human necessities require. Neither blood-vessels nor sinews heat and stir this body, but a heavenly essence, diffusing itself like a gentle stream, seems to fill the whole contour of the figure.

He has pursued the Python, against which he uses his bow for the first time; with vigorous step he has overtaken the monster and slain it. His lofty look, filled with a consciousness of power, seems to rise far above his victory, and to gaze into infinity. Scorn sits upon his lips, and his nostrils are swelling with suppressed auger, which mounts even to the proud forehead; but the peace which floats upon it in blissful calm remains undisturbed, and his eye is full of sweetness as when the Muses gathered around him seeking to embrace him.

The Father of the gods in all the images of him which we have remaining, and which art venerates, does not approach so nearly the grandeur in which he manifested himself to the understanding of the divine poet, as he does here in the countenance of his son, and the individual beauties of the other deities are here as in the person of Pandora assembled together, a forehead of Jupiter, pregnant with the Goddess of Wisdom, and eyebrows the contractions of which express their will, the grandly arched eyes of the queen of the gods, and a mouth shaped like that whose touch stirred with delight the loved Branchus. The soft hair plays about the divine head as if agitated by a gentle breeze, like the slender waving tendrils of the noble vine; it seems to be anointed with the oil of the gods, and tied by the Graces with pleasing display on the crown of his head.

In the presence of this miracle of art I forget all else, and I myself take a lofty position for the purpose of looking upon it in a worthy manner. My breast seems to enlarge and swell with reverence, like the breasts of those who were filled with the spirit of prophecy, and I feel myself transported to Delos and into the Lycæan groves, — places which Apollo honored by his presence, — for my image seems to receive life and motion, like the beautiful creation of Pygmalion. How is it possible to paint and describe it! Art itself must counsel me, and guide my hand in filling up hereafter the first outlines which I here have sketched. As they who were unable to reach the heads of the divinities which they wished to crown deposited the garlands at the feet of them, so I place at the feet of this image the conception which I have presented of it.

Goethe writes from Rome on 25 December 1786 (Letters from Switzerland. Travels in Italy, trans. A. J. W. Morrison, Edition de Luxe, vol. 4 [London 1882], 200):

Marble is a rare material. It is on this account that the Apollo Belvedere in the original is so infinitely ravishing; for that sublime air of youthful freedom and vigor, of never-changing juvenescence, which breathes around the marble, at once vanishes in the best even of plaster casts.

Goethe writes to Herder in the autumn of 1771 after visiting an exhibition of antiquities in Mannheim on his way home to Frankfurt from Strasbourg (Early and Miscellaneous Letters of J. W. Goethe: Including Letters to His Mother. With Notes and a Short Biography, ed. Edward Bell [London 1889], 84):

I force myself to write to you in the first fullness of feeling. Away, cloak and collar! Your hellebore letter is worth all the daily experiences of three years. That is no answer to it, and who could answer it? My whole being is shaken, as you could imagine, good man, and it still vibrates far too much for my pen to be able to mark firmly. Apollo Belvedere, why showest thou thyself in thy nakedness, that we must be ashamed of ours? Spanish suit and cosmetic!

Concerning this visit to Mannheim, he later remarks in his memoirs (Memoirs of Goethe, 2 vols. [London 1824], 1:399):

I gave myself up, for some time, to the first impression — the irresistible effect of the whole. I afterwards stopped to examine separately such of these masterpieces as most attracted my admiration: and who will deny that the Apollo Belvedere by his half-colossal size, the elegance of his form, his noble attitude, the ease of his gesture, and his victorious look, triumphs over all his rivals and over ourselves? Back.

[7] Fr., “like pigs; beasts.” Back.

[8] Ion would not be performed again in the Weimar theater, though it would be performed during the summer of 1802 in both Lauchstädt (29 July and 9 August 1802; later also on 6 August 1803) and in Rudolstadt on 24 August 1802 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 42–48). Back.

[9] Ion seems not to have been performed in Frankfurt. Here an early iteration of the stage, loges, and spectator space in the Junghof location of the Frankfurt theater (frontispiece to A. H. E. von Oven, Das erste städtische Theater zu Frankfurt A. M.: Ein Beitrag zur äusseren Geschichte des Frankfurter Theaters 1751–1872 [Frankfurt 1872]):



[10] I.e., by her review in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, with which Wilhelm was so displeased that he not only expressed his displeasure to her in a letter (see her response to him on 1 February 1802 [letter 345]), but also inaugurated the long-winded exchange of opinions in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt itself. Back.

[11] Fr., “on one’s own authority.” Back.

[12] The reference is almost certainly to Donna Lauro (or Laura), the comedy of intrigue by Sophie Bernhardi that she and Wilhelm variously discussed in their correspondence during 1801. It was intended for a competition being conducted by Goethe. Concerning the background, see Wilhelm’s letters to Sophie on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), note 16, and on 3 October 1801 (letter 329k), note 11, with cross references.

Although Goethe, with Schiller’s assistance, had in November 1800 announced a prize of 30 ducats for the best play of intrigue, to be announced in mid-September 1801, none (!) of the thirteen entries won, including Clemens Brentano’s version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Brentano’s comedy Ponce de Leon [Göttingen 1804]; see Gustav Roethe’s exhaustive monograph, Brentanos “Ponce de Leon”. Eine Säkularstudie [Berlin 1901]). Although the idea of the competition continued to exert a measure of influence, it is highly unlikely Wilhelm himself ever submitted an entry of his own, functioning instead merely the silent mediator. He had, e.g., encouraged Ludwig Tieck to submit an entry, whom Friedrich Schlegel had also queried in this regard.

The sequence of correspondence was approximately as follows:

  • Wilhelm did not announce to Goethe what was likely not his, but rather Sophie Bernhardi’s entry until 19 January 1802 (again, the original deadline was mid-September 1801), nor actually send it until 23 January;
  • he queried Goethe concerning its status on 9 February and again on 16 March, but Goethe never actually sent his drafted response.
  • Wilhelm queried yet again on 4 May 1802 and finally received an answer from Goethe on 13 May 1802. Some of this correspondence follows.

Wilhelm writes to Tieck from Braunschweig on 23 November 1800 (Briefe an Ludwig Tieck 3:255; Lohner 52):

I hear that Goethe and Schiller have offered a prize for the best intrigue drama, though such has presumably not yet been made public. Would you not be keen on winning this prize? It would primarily be only to get something onstage with éclat [Fr. uproar, sensation].

Christian Gottfried Körner writes to Schiller on 4 October 1801 (Schillers Briefwechsel mit Körner. Von 1784 bis zum Tode Schillers, 2nd ed., ed. Karl Goedeke, Zweiter Theil: 1793–1805 [Leipzig 1874], 385; trans. Correspondence of Schiller with Körner, trans. Leonard Simpson, 3 vols. [London 1849], 3:252): “Let me know something more about the comedies. Tieck is said to have sent in one.”

Wilhelm writes from Berlin to Goethe on 23 January 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 125–26):

Enclosed please find the long-promised and only accidentally delayed comedy. Both I and the author would be obliged if you could let us know your assessment as soon possible. I would be delighted if you found this composition, which at the very least is anything but ponderous, pleasing and if you were to find it suitable to be performed there to its advantage. If it be performed there and received with favor, one could then consider how it might then be best promoted elsewhere as well for theatrical performance, with respect to which it was in fact specifically written.

Goethe drafted a response at the beginning of February 1802 (letter draft; (Körner-Wieneke 126–27; Weimarer Ausgabe 4:16:419–21):

The comedy arrived and pleases me greatly, and if Demoiselle Jagemann is interested in playing the role of the countess, I will probably have it performed. At first glance, I would point out that the intrigue takes place more in the audience’s hearts and minds than before their eyes, or, to express it perhaps more accurately, that it did not contain sufficient palpably striking and pleasing situations, though it does contain some of this sort. But all this can be more clearly discerned in performance, which in my opinion can on the whole come across well enough. You will soon hear more in this regard.

In her letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348), Caroline relates to him essentially what Goethe expresses in this draft. Wilhelm then writes from Berlin to Goethe in Weimar on 4 May 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 132–33):

I flattered myself that I might receive some word from you concerning the comedy I sent you quite a while back. Since the author gave careful consideration to an actual performance when writing it, he also wishes to see this goal attained with the piece.

Hence I am asking in his name whether any public decision might yet be forthcoming with respect to the theatrical competition and the pieces in the competition. Although he would certainly be willing to wait for such a decision, if your decision is that you have found none of the entries worthy of the prize, he would like to offer it to another director.

With respect to the theater here, there is no time to lose, since Iffland will be leaving for two months at the end of this month, and the piece, if it is to be performed during this period, must thus be accepted and distributed beforehand. We would be extremely obliged if you could give us some news in this matter.

Goethe responds on 13 May 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 134–35):

I really would like to have staged the comedy you sent me a while back that I might see what effect it had; alas, I was unable to assign the parts of the two female actresses who had to appear in men’s costumes such that I might justifiably anticipate a successful performance. If the author wishes to try to place it with other theaters, I know of no reason now why he should not do so.

The situation with the pieces entered in the competition is rather peculiar. Although thirteen were submitted, none could really be performed, though several did not at all lack at least some merit. Back.

[13] The “uncle” is Goethe himself, so named after the uncle in Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre 4 vols. (Berlin 1795–96); concerning the allusion, see supplementary appendix 272.3. Back.

[14] Fr., “Well, my friend?” Back.

[15] Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 (Vienna 1775), plate 12:


In her letter to Wilhelm on 8 February 1802 (letter 346), Caroline had remarked that “Unless something entirely unforeseen happens in the meantime, I will be in Berlin the last week of this month.” Back.

[16] Caroline would not depart until after 18 March 1802. Back.

[17] Caroline mentions in her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340) that the Berlin attorney Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer had offered to provide accommodations for Caroline during her stay in Berlin. Grattenauer lived at Lindenstrasse 66 (map excerpt here from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826]):


Grattenauer had earlier helped Wilhelm in the latter’s dispute with Johann Friedrich Unger (see Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 [letter 309] and supplementary appendix 309.1), and had recently put a hall in his house in Berlin at Wilhelm’s disposal for the latter’s lectures on the fine arts. See Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 18 September 1801 (letter 329e), note 21. Back.

[18] Ion was not performed in Berlin until 15/16 May 1802; Caroline and Schelling both attended. Back.

[19] I.e., frozen and therefore passable roads as opposed to mud and slush (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 8 [Vienna 1782], plate 532):



[19a] Here Unter den Linden in 1800 (Adolf Streckfuss and Leo Fernbach, 500 Jahre Berliner Geschichte: Vom Fischerdorf zur Weltstadt, Geschichte und Sage [Berlin 1900], 401):



[20] Wilhelm had offered to meet Caroline’s conveyance in Potsdam outside Berlin rather than have her travel into town by herself.

At the time, Potsdam (also: Pozdam), located just over 40 km southwest of Berlin, was one of the last postal stations before actually reaching Berlin (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration: F. Meyer and Andreas Ludwig Krüger, Troisieme vue de la Ville de Potsdam [1772]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur ALKrüger AB 1.35):




Concerning the possible route, see also her letter to him on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), note 32. — Wilhelm was lecturing on Sundays and Wednesdays from 12:00 till 1:00; see his letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f), note 19. Back.

[21] In her letter to Wilhelm on 1 February 1802 (letter 345), Caroline had queried him regarding whether to retain a cook for the coming summer. Back.

[22] Although previous plans had indeed anticipated that the Bernhardis would be spending the summer with the Schlegels in Jena, the visit never materialized; see, e.g., Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335); 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336); and 28 December 1801 (letter 338). Back.

[23] Arrangement in French in original. Back.

[24] As it turned out, Schelling would indeed be in Jena during the summer of 1802 except for attending the theater in Lauchstädt with Caroline, while Wilhelm never returned to Jena in any case. Back.

[25] I.e., about possible lectures at the university in Jena. See her letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339), note 61, and on 18 January 1802 (letter 341) with note 5. Back.

[26] I.e., signatures of students committing to attending Wilhelm’s lectures during the coming term without thereby also requiring Wilhelm to commit to holding them (here students entering a lecture hall, from Ed. Heyck, Heidelberg Studentenleben zu Anfang unseres Jahrhunderts [Heidelberg 1886], plate following p. 14):



[27] In his letter to Goethe on 9 February 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 127), Wilhelm includes a billet from Iffland dated 7 February 1802 as well as a copy of a previously dispatched missive from Iffland to Franz Kirms in Weimar, allegedly full of praise for Ion, whereas Iffland in fact wrote to Kirms on 6 February 1802 (Ludwig Geiger, ed., “Neue Mitteilungen. Schauspielerbriefe,” Goethe Jahrbuch 26 [1905], 51–73, here 59) that “Ion is a piece with much reason, no heart, and no really sophisticated understanding of propriety.” Back.

[28] The Berlin publisher Friedrich Unger did indeed publish the next volume of Wilhelm’s translation of Shakespeare. Unfortunately that volume would not be published until 1810, long after Unger (1804) and even Caroline herself (1809) had passed away. See supplementary appendix 309.1. Back.

[29] A reference to the issue of Friedrich’s remuneration for his play Alarcos from August Wilhelm Iffland; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1 February 1802 (letter 345), note 11. The other reference is to Karl August Böttiger’s suppressed review of the premier of Wilhelm’s play Ion. Back.

[30] Jealousy about the apparent success Wilhelm’s play, Ion? Or about Wilhelm’s success in general?

The Furies or Eumenides (William Smith, A Smaller Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography, 11th ed. [London 1868], s.v. Eumenides; illustration: L. d Montlyard, Mythologie, c’est à dire explication des fables, contenant les Genealogies des Dieux etc. [Lion 1612], 215):

avenging deities . . . They are represented as the daughters of Earth or of Night, and as fearful winged maidens, with serprents twined in their hair, and with blood dripping from their eyes. They dwelt in the depths of Tartarus, dreaded by gods and men. . . . They punished men both in this world and after death.


In her own turn, Dorothea had earlier referred to Caroline’s letters being held up to her “like the head of Medusa.” Back.

[31] Johann Bernhard Vermehren’s Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 (Leipzig 1802) and 1803 (Frankfurt 1803). Back.

[32] Ludwig Tieck’s grand drama Kaiser Octavianus: Ein Lustspiel in 2 Theilen was not published by Friedrich Frommann (Jena) until 1804. Back.

[33] Johann Georg Gotthelf Hübsch (28 October 1689–29 May 1773), the father of Mother Schlegel and her brother, Johann Christian Gotthelf Hübsch (1770–1848), had been a professor of mathematics at Schulpforte west of Naumburg. This brother to whom Caroline refers was living in Kösen, essentially the location of Schulpforte itself and ca. 25 km northeast of Jena (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 19):



[34] Wilhelm’s and Friedrich’s brother Karl Schlegel and his family lived in Hannover. Back.

[35] A puzzling reference, since no letters from Röschlaub to Schelling during August 1801 seem to have surfaced, and since his next extant letter to Schelling is dated after Caroline is here writing, albeit scarcely a month later. The letter will thus be included here.

On 20 March 1802 (Plitt 1:359–60; Fuhrmans 2:392–93), Andreas Röschlaub wrote Schelling an almost prescient letter with respect to events that would take place quite soon, indeed, during the summer of 1802, as well as later, following Schelling’s appointment in Würzburg in 1803:

My last missive to you was too hastily written for me to give the proper attention to several of the points you yourself made in your extremely interesting letter [no letters from Schelling to Röschlaub are known]. Hence let me catch up here with what I was unable to do earlier. I especially want to address one point with respect to which I can relate to you much that is true even if very little that is new.

You believe you have many enemies, and that precisely this circumstance provides your adversaries in Jena with reason enough for insolence toward you. — Although I doubt not that you have enemies enough, you probably do not have all that many elsewhere (i.e., outside Jena and a few other nearby districts), nor can they cause any real trouble for you outside Jena itself.

That which opposes you in other provinces (allow me to speak my mind openly) is more the erroneous understanding of your system than any personal prejudice against you yourself. People imagine your system to be the strangest, most peculiar thing, something differing from a birth of madness solely by virtue of context. I know for a fact that several men who exert considerable influence on the governments of various territories have this good opinion. What leads them astray in this regard is primarily — not at all your own writings, but rather — your students and your actual followers.

Those among more intelligent people who genuinely read and try to understand your writings themselves have nothing but respect for you. By contrast, those who judge you according to many of your followers, and their boasting, can hardly judge differently, especially if instructed according to that previous ilk, who without being in possession of either your intellect and spirit or the extension of your learning, are immediately inclined to denounce everything, declare everything to be nonsense, and to reproach everything that does not accord with their opinion, and yet who when genuinely called to account are utterly at a loss for words. Too often they embarrassingly expose themselves, as is quite natural, and can but fumble awkwardly even in what they have managed to learn.

How easy are hairpiece gentlemen and gentlemen in wigs misled into laying culpability for such scenes at the feet of the teacher himself, and, prejudiced in any case against any innovation they cannot comprehend, use their influence with the state in countering such teaching.

Although Bavaria, too, can already attest a certain number of such consequences, fortunately it also has good minds enough with considerable influence on the cabinet of the prince elector, among whom the deception will be discovered such that when I myself, as I firmly believe, am transplanted there [Röschlaub received an appointment in Erlangen in the spring of 1802], I need not give up the hope that I might yet live there with you.

I know too many examples of what I just wrote you. But it will do little harm to you with respect to the future, especially if you remain untouched by the clerics. Intelligent, excellent individuals whom you have trained will raise a voice for you as powerful as was the previous mood against you. The best thing is probably for an increasing number of bright people to come to understand you. Back.

[36] Concerning the memorial for Auguste. See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Caroline on 10 December 1801 (letter 335b), note 5. Back.

[37] I.e., “recruit some Fichteans for him” as subscribers for casts of an otherwise unknown bust; Wilhelm mentions the bust in a letter from Berlin to Goethe on 9 February 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 128):

Tieck’s works seem to be enjoying considerable approval here. He has been commissioned by Madam von Berg and her daughter, Countess von Voss, to do both their busts, and is also about to undertake Fichte’s portrait.

Caroline mentions the bust again in her letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348). Back.

[38] Uncertain allusions. Back.

[39] Concerning Schelling’s verses for Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802); see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), note 42.

The book was in the initial stages of printing (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 1 [Vienna 1774], plate 4):



[40] Goethe met with Johann Bernhard Vermehren himself two days later, on 17 February 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:51).

See Adelung s.v. Kofent: convent-beer, associated with monasteries (Latin conventus); an after-beer or thin-beer formed through a process of double dilution, making it also suitable for meals as a daily “table beer.”

The metaphorical meaning here likely derives from the sense of “dilution, watering down.” See Richard W. Unger, Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Philadelphia 2004), 189:

In Germany, the weak and cheap beer was called kofent or kovent, suggesting a connection with religious houses. The cheap beer appeared as early as 1405 at Lübeck and turned up in a number of other German towns. Other names for it included pfennigbiere and blaffertbier. Beer sold as kovent may have even included the water used to rinse out the brewing copper.

By the early seventeenth century, there were complaints in Germany about its quality. It was brewed too thin and was undrinkable, or such were the claims. By that time in Antwerp the small beer was so weak that it was called, derisively, reboiled water. The low-quality beer carried an extremely low price because it was free of tax.

Here three peasants smoking and enjoying their beer in front of a tavern; a fourth seems to have partaken to excess (Pieter Jansz Quast, Drei zechende Bauern vor einem Gasthof [1626]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Z2121):



[41] See Caroline’s letter to Julie von Studnitz on 3 September 1781 (letter 25), note 4. In his diary, Goethe mentions spending time with library matters on 14, 16 February, possibly also 18 February 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:50–51) (Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 4 [Vienna 1776], plate 2):



[42] Goethe’s alleged novel Cäcilia was but an obscure rumor. Back.

[43] Uncertain allusion. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott