Letter 349

• 349. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 1 March 1802 [*]

[Jena] Monday, 1 March [1802]

|308| My dear Schlegel, nothing has changed — you invited me, and I am coming. It would certainly have been convenient with Grattenauer, but I am not at all certain I |309| would like to wait for that to materialize, having already made all these arrangements here. [1]

Zelter just had tea with me here, and I am writing in the greatest haste. [2] He would be a superb traveling companion for me if only he did not travel both day and night; but perhaps we can still arrange something together from Leipzig, where I will be seeing him again at the Tischbeins. [3]

I will be departing here such that I will be in Leipzig next Sunday toward evening, then will depart Leipzig on Monday morning; hence I do not believe I can arrive in Berlin before Wednesday evening. [4] If I arrive at a very late hour, I will get off at the inn you mentioned; [5] if I arrive before 8, I will travel on to Grattenauer’s. In no case will I be expecting you in Potsdam; [6] it would end up costing twice as much, since they are demanding just as much here. The only thing that is causing me some embarrassment is how I am to act with them in regard to the visitator-inspectors, [7] though I’m sure my ingenium will help me out. [8]

Adieu, my friend; please pass along regards in my name to those who will be my closest companions there. [9]


[*] At issue in this and the next few letters is Caroline’s departure date for her trip to Berlin. In her letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348), she relates that her coachman was unwilling to depart because of the foul weather. Caroline herself was hoping that the weather would dry out sufficiently during the following week — the week of 1 March — to make the journey possible. She was also having difficulty finding a male traveling companion.

These aggravations were joined by various other scheduling problems, some more serious than others, such that Caroline’s next few letters reflect the increasingly hectic planning preceding her departure sometime after 18 March 1802. Back.

[1] As becomes evident in the following letters, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer seems to have had plans to be absent from Berlin for a time. Caroline’s remarks here along with others, especially that she was expecting a missive from Grattenauer from Weimar on 19 March 1802 (see her letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 [letter 356]), suggest that Grattenauer himself was to be her traveling companion, as eventually was indeed the case. See also Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 March 1802 (letter 350).

Caroline’s turn of phrase here (“nothing has changed — you invited me, and I am coming”) is the first indication in extant letters that Wilhelm was having second thoughts about her trip to Berlin. See her letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356). See also his undated letter to her during May 1802 (letter 359). Back.

[2] Leipziger Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Karl Friedrich Zelter’s letter to Goethe on 7 April 1802 (Der Briefwechsel zwischen Goethe und Zelter, ed. Max Hecker, 3 vols. [Leipzig 1913], 1:14–16), in which he expresses his pleasure and gratitude at having visited Weimar and made Goethe’s acquaintance, does not mention this visit to Caroline in Jena (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[3] Zelter was about to leave for Berlin after spending time with Goethe in Weimar.

Traveling at night on what were frequently poor roads was dangerous not least also because of the risk of highwaymen (Christian Gotthilf Salzmann, Carl von Carlsberg oder über das menschliche Elend, vol. 6 [Leipzig 1788]):


The Tischbein family was currently residing in Leipzig, where Johann Friedrich August Tischbein was head of the art academy (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[4] Had these travel plans materialized, Caroline would have

  • arrived in Leipzig on Sunday, 7 March 1802,
  • departed Leipzig on Monday, 8 March 1802, and
  • arrived in Berlin not before Wednesday evening, 10 March 1802.

As it was, she did not leave until a week later. Back.

[5] In her letter to Wilhelm on 15 February 1802 (letter 347), Caroline remarks (her emphasis) that

And even if it might be more convenient from the perspective of the conveyance to take it all the way into Berlin itself, it is nonetheless impossible that I should actually travel into the city alone; 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.

Here the Inn of the Three Moors in Augsburg ca. 1820 in a scene resembling that which Caroline here anticipates (anonymous, Gasthof zu den Drey Mohren, Augusburg [ca. 1820]):



[6] Wilhelm had offered to travel out from Berlin and meet Caroline’s carriage in Potsdam, southeast of Berlin. See her letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), note 35. Back.

[7] Adelung 4:1216 s.v. Visitator: A sworn servant of the authorities that inspects visitors and goods entering a town for the purpose of determining customs duties. Although the holder of this office had various names in other parts of Germany (Adelung, s.v. Zollbeseher, Güterbeschauer; a master in a guild who examined goods made by other masters in the guild could also be called Visitator or Schaumeister), in both Lower and Upper Saxony the term was Visitator. Back.

[8] Latin, “innate quality, nature; natural disposition; capacity; talent.” Back.

[9] Presumably August Ferdinand andSophie Bernhardi, with whom Wilhelm was residing. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott