Letter 352

• 352. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 8 March 1802

[Jena] Monday, 8 March [1802]

|311| One thing I certainly was not anticipating was that I might yet receive the kind of letter from you that did indeed arrive yesterday, my dear friend, and you know me well enough to know I certainly could not remain indifferent after reading it, since although it may seem like a trifle and merely a passing bit of pain |312| when such a blossom falls to the ground, we know not whether they will all fall to the ground. [1]

It was best for all of you, and certainly for me, that I was not yet there. It was just so when the dear, handsome little boy died virtually in my arms a year ago; [2] I would have felt like the angel of death, and would have seemed a vague, illusory sign to the poor mother. —

May she recover quickly, and I find all of you in a more serene frame of mind. I am sorry I can now no longer expect any news from you unless perhaps Grattenauer has not yet departed when you receive this, according to my calculations, on Saturday, 13 March. [3] For since I noticed intimations in your letter to the effect that you do wish it, I abandoned all my arrangements yet again and intend to wait for Grattenauer’s arrival. [3a]

Perhaps he is still there, and you can immediately see what arrangements you can make with him; or he is already en route, then I myself have made arrangements to be informed of that immediately from Weimar. And it would be ill indeed should some obstacle or other have arisen with his plans because he was thinking, for example, that I was no longer even here; in the worst-case scenario, however, let us simply adhere to my previous arrangements.

It will, though, be quite unpleasant for me if I have to wait so long for news, perhaps even (if, as he wrote in his billet at the time, he is not able to depart until the 16th) until the 19th or 20th, while at the same time having no news about you and the disposition of all of you there. [4]

In the meantime, however, I will simply have to accept it patiently. [4a] I can well believe you said something to him about my maidservant and my luggage. He will doubtless have to take 2 additional horses, so that the cost difference will not be so appreciable for me except that I will no longer need to spend four nights en route. If he is still there, please be so good as to write and tell me what you have arranged with him, and in general to get some word to me as quickly as possible.

I related the incident to Doctor Hufeland immediately; [5] the Frommans still intend to let me use their carriage later if they do not otherwise need it. [6] Julchen found a suitable opportunity on Saturday, i.e., the day before yesterday, to travel back to Gotha, [7] so I am now alone in the house here, and the house itself is generally rather desolate because so many things have been removed in anticipation. [8]

On the other hand, however, it is not so bad that I do now have a certain amount of time, since I was again not well and was suffering violently from a stomachache accompanied by diarrhea. Moreover, the roads are improving daily. [9]

I imagine that Zelter will be overflowing with stories and is, moreover, probably also still a bit secretive. [10] |313| Hence he will probably not say anything about the poems he received. [11] One of them is called “Early Spring.” [12] Goethe has been back here for one or two days now; [13] he is doubtless working on something, perhaps his novel, about which Schelling suspects — I myself know not why — that it will be more of the “graceful” than the “grand” sort. [14]

Fromman received a missive from Friedrich in Dresden, allegedly very charming and engaging, with splendid promises with respect to Plato and with complaints about the corruptness of the text and the endless work, and yet also, which seemed rather odd to me, with the assurance that they would be back here around Easter. Did you know anything about this? [15]

I can well understand it, since Madam Frommann told me that Madam Veit does indeed have to pay the toll there; [16] she received a free pass for 4 weeks, but no longer, [17] and now each day is costing her between 1 fl. and rh. It is merely that the trip in general, viewed merely as such, is hard to comprehend; the only thing I can think of is that Madam Veit needed a view of that sort for Florentin. [18]

But what an ill choice to do it at this time of year! Or was Charlotte merely to be completely won over? [19] And what on earth are they contemplating doing here again? This tiny place is more pernicieus toward Friedrich than any other. His habit of getting into debt, of abandoning himself to gluttonness, and of doing nothing is something that has just come to stick to him. [20] Can you imagine: the Ramann brothers from Erfurt similarly queried me with a bill of between 60 and 70 rh. What a colossal amount he must have drunk. [21]

Here the factions are divided into two camps: the one feels sorry for Friedrich for being burdened with Madam Veit; the other feels sorry for Madam Veit for being plagued by Friedrich.

The letter contained not a single word about Tiek. Does anyone know how he is doing? Fromman also remarked that Octavian would |314| presumably end up being his best work — and yet was still unable to touch his mercantile heart. [22] But in truth, one cannot really blame him. If Friedrich does not deliver Plato soon, Fromman will also break things off there as well, or so it seems to me. [23]

I have in the meantime read Thucydides in a completely new French translation. [24] I am properly languishing for a German Plato and Thucydides. And is your Sophocles at a complete standstill now? [25] Schelling sends you his most heartfelt regards; he is utterly buried in work. —

Julchen departed amid a great many tears. [25a]

It was a great joy for me to hear that your lectures continue to go so well, and it would certainly sadden me were I not to experience anything more of them with my own eyes and ears. —

If Tiek has nothing to do, then he ought to arrange to do a bust of Goethe for the Frommans, with or without drapery, whatever he thinks most comely. I promised to see to it that he spares no trouble in making the finished product as excellent as possible. I am giving them mine to keep for me, which was a bit of trickery, since I knew they would then want one for themselves to put in its place. [26]

Schelling, with a free moment just now, is sitting here reading your first “Conversation” in the first issue of Athenaeum. He is praising the considerable acumen evident in it and has resolved to study it quite closely. [27]

Please do save the Hauskauf so I can use it as papillottes for my curls. You could easily have given it to Madam Unzelmann six weeks earlier. [28] By the way, do not worry, I will be quite modest concerning the theater lest we feel our lack of complimentary tickets too severely. It is certainly quite artless of Ifland to hesitate so with Ion. [29] (It was copied out for Frankfurt without any abridgement.) [30]

|315| Who is Herr Kynosarges? You, too, tell me nothing. Schelling declares it is a doggish title. [31]

Stay well, my good, dear friend. Extend my greetings to your housemates and tell the poor mother that a much poorer mother is thinking about her with great sympathy.


[1] Sophie Bernhardi’s child Ludwig Bernhardi had died on 28 February 1802 in Berlin. See Wilhelm’s letter to Ludwig Tieck on 1 March 1802 (letter 349a).

Caroline’s blossom-metaphor is not merely a perfunctory turn of phrase; she herself had lost all four of her children: Johann Franz Wilhelm Böhmer, Therese Böhmer, Wilhelm Julius Böhmer, and Auguste Böhmer. Back.

[2] August Ferdinand Wiedemann had died in Braunschweig on 10 March 1801; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 16 March 1801 (letter 301):

Yesterday morning it was a week since I took the beautiful, precious child from its mother, who had dressed it, and could hardly keep it in my arms it was so lively. Half an hour later, it was taken to its room, wailing, and not brought out again until it had slumbered into death. Back.

[3] Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer had offered Caroline accommodations in his house for her Berlin visit; Grattenauer lived at Lindenstrasse 66 (map excerpt here from G. D. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1826]):


These and the following remarks along with those in later letters demonstrate that Grattenauer himself was to be her traveling companion and was about to depart Berlin (perhaps not soon enough for Caroline) for Weimar. These logistics now play a considerable role in coming letters (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


In her letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802, she remarks that she was expecting a message from him in Weimar, and even in this present letter mentions that she intends “to wait for Grattenauer’s arrival.”

In light of these considerations, her remark to Wilhelm on 1 March 1802 (letter 349) that it “would certainly have been convenient with Grattenauer, but I am not at all certain I would like to wait for that to materialize,” now clearly document that a plan was in the works for him to be her traveling companion to Berlin, the legal scholar whom she mentions in her letter to Julie Gotter on 11 March 1802 (letter 354).

See esp. Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356), notes 2 and 4, and Wilhelm’s remarks about yet owing Grattenauer some money for her journey in Wilhelm’s letter to Caroline on 17 May 1802 (letter 359), note 5. Back.

[3a] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text from the beginning of the next paragraph to the sentence “It will, though, be quite unpleasant”; that 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):

Vielleicht ist er noch dort und du kannst
sogleich vollständige Abrede mit ihm nehmen,
oder er ist schon unter wegens, dann habe
ich Anstalten getroffen, es sogleich aus
Weimar zu erfahren, und es müste ja
schlimm seyn wenn sich bey ihm, etwa
in der gewissen Voraussetzung ich sey schon
nicht mehr hier, ein Hinderniß ein gefunden
haben sollte, im schlimmsten Fall aber
bleiben wir ja nach meinen vorhergehenden
Anstalten. Back.

[4] Caroline seems to have left for Berlin after 18 or 19 March 1802. Back.

[4a] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text from this point to the sentence “I related the incident to Doctor Hufeland,” which 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):

Das darf ich glauben daß du ihm von meinem Mädchen
und meinen [sic] Koffer auch ein Wort gesagt
hast. Er wird gewiß genötigt seyn
2 Pferde mehr zu nehmen, so daß
der Unterschied der Kosten für mich nicht
sehr beträchtlich seyn wird, außer daß
ich nicht vier Nächte werde unter wegens
zu seyn brauchen. Sey so gut, wenn
er noch da ist, mir zu schreiben, was du
mit ihm ausmachst, und überhaupt so schnell
wie möglich ein Wort an mich gelangen
zu lassen. Back.

[5] The Weimar physician Friedrich Hufeland had been a possible traveling companion for Caroline; see her letter to Wilhelm on 4 March 1802 (letter 351). Back.

[6] Friedrich Frommann had offered Caroline use of his carriage and horses for her trip even before this recent delay; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 March 1802 (letter 351). Back.

[7] Julie Gotter, who had been living with Caroline in Jena since 31 May 1801, had finally departed Jena for her home in Gotha on Saturday, 6 March 1802. She herself had experienced difficulties arranging a conveyance ([1] frontispiece to Strawberry Hill and its Inmates: by a Lady [Swaffham 1830]; [2] Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[8] That is, in anticipation not only of the trip to Berlin, but especially also of the move to the new apartment in the Asverus house, in which Caroline takes up residence immediately upon her return from Berlin in mid-May 1802. At the time of this letter, Caroline was, for the first time, living completely alone in the house at Leutrastrasse 5 except for her domestics. Back.

[9] Travel had been rendered difficult by snow and slush. See Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 15 February 1802 (letter 347) and 4 March 1802 (letter 351). Back.

[10] Karl Friedrich Zelter had just returned to Berlin from Weimar and Jena, where he had also visited Caroline and had been a potential travel companion for her for the trip to Berlin. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1 March 1802 (letter 349). Back.

[11] Viz., from Goethe; See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 March 1802 (letter 351), in which she remarks that “Goethe, so it seems, passed along something of Faust to him and gave him some new things to set to music, which are not, however, supposed to be made public yet”; see note 14 there with additional cross references. Back.

[12] Goethe’s poem “Frühzeitiger Frühling” (Caroline cites from memory, “der frühe Lenz”), written in 1801; published 1803. “Premature Spring,” from Goethe’s Works, vol. 1, trans. George Barrie (Philadelphia 1885), 35:

Days full of rapture,
Are ye renew'd? —
Smile in the sunlight,
Mountain and wood?

Streams richer laden
Flow through the dale.
Are these the meadows?
Is this the vale?

Coolness cerulean!
Heaven and height!
Fish crowd the ocean,
Golden and bright.

Gentle disturbance
Quivers in air,
Sleep-causing fragrance,
Motion so fair.

Soon with more power
Rises the breeze,
Then in a moment
Dies in the trees.

But to the bosom
Comes it again.
Aid me, ye Muses,
Bliss to sustain!

Say what has happen'd
Since yester e'en?
Oh, ye fair sisters,
Her I have seen!

From Zelter’s sämmtliche Lieder, Balladen und Romanzen für das Piano-Forte, 4 vols. (Berlin 1810–13), vol. 3, no. 8:



[13] Goethe had returned to Jena at noon on Thursday, 4 March 1802, having been in Weimar since 21 February 1802; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348), note 4. Back.

[14] Concerning the alleged novel Cäcilia, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 15 February 1802 (letter 347), with note 42 there. Back.

[15] The Jena publisher Friedrich Frommann had obviously showed Caroline Friedrich’s letter to him from Dresden of 1 March 1802.

At the conclusion of that letter, after discussing the issues involving the delayed translation of Plato on which he was working with Schleiermacher (thus Caroline’s reference here; concerning these problems, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 [letter 348], note 21) and before a postscript asking Frommann to help Johann Wilhelm Ritter cover debts of ca. 30 Thaler for which Friedrich had stood surety but was in no position to cover, Friedrich concludes (Krisenjahre 2:521; KFSA 25:337):

I am extremely grateful to you for the news you related concerning Ion [the Frommanns had attended the Weimar premiere of Wilhelm’s play on 2 January 1802; Caroline notes their attendance in her letter to Wilhelm and Sophie Bernhardi on 4 January 1802 (letter 339)], as is Madame Veit to you and your spouse for the cordial interest you have shown her. We both ask that you remember us kindly, and in 4–6 weeks we will be seeing you again.

On 29 May 1802, exactly three months — rather than six weeks — after Friedrich’s letter to Frommann on 1 March 1802, the couple was in Weimar for the premiere of Friedrich’s play Alarcos in the Weimar theater, a performance Caroline, however, did not attend. They departed Weimar precipitately the next day for Paris; they never returned to Jena (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Elementarische Landkarte von Europa,” in 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 xl):



[16] Dorothea Veit was subject to the Jewish toll (Germ. Leibzoll), to be paid by Jews when crossing territorial customs borders; concerning this toll and her previous encounters with it, see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Schleiermacher on 5 May 1800 (letter 259r), with note 8. Caroline mentions this issue again in her letter to Julie Gotter on ca. 11 March 1802 (letter 354). Back.

[17] Friedrich Schlegel and Dorothea Veit had been in Dresden since early February 1802, i.e., just at five weeks (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[18] I.e., for the anticipated but ultimately unfinished continuation (second volume) of her novel Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Lübeck, Leipzig 1801), the attendant problems with which are discussed in coming letters. Back.

[19] I.e., to Friedrich and Dorothea’s alliance; they were not yet married, and Dorothea was a divorced Jewess. Back.

[20] Fr., pernicieux, “pernicious, hurtful.”

Caroline is referring essentially to the popular notion of Schlaraffenland, the “land of plenty,” “land of Cockaigne,” literally, “land of sluggards,” a concept combining the images of the gourmand and the sluggard and a land in which one must work neither to feed nor to support oneself. Caroline unkindly evokes this notion later as well with respect to Friedrich’s gluttony and girth.

The initial illustration below bears the caption “Gourmand’s Library,” and the third (upper right corner) also shows how “roast pigeons” simply fly into one’s mouth ([1] “Biblioteck eines Leckermauls,” Almanach für Leckermäuler oder Küchen- und Tafelkalender [1804]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung; [2] Philibert Louis Debucourt, Au Gourmand [ca. 1776–1825]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. C: 856.1; [3] Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Das Schlaraffenland [ca. 1567–72]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur PBruegel nach WB 3.31):





[21] Lucas Vorsterman, Adriaen Brouwer, Gula (ca. 1615–75); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 2771a:


The catalogue Antiquariat Leo Liepmannssohn, Berlin, Versteigerungskatalog 180 (Berlin 1912), nos. 543–46, lists two business letters from Caroline to the Ramann brothers (see below) and two from Friedrich (an order) and Dorothea. For the text of Dorothea’s letter on 19 January 1802, see letter 341b.

See the editorial note to that letter for information on the Ramann brothers and on Caroline’s earlier dealings with them. For her later business letter to them, see her letter to them on 18 July 1802 (letter 368a). Back.

[22] Ludwig Tieck, like Friedrich, was late delivering a manuscript to the Jena publisher Friedrich Frommann. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348) concerning these problems. Tieck’s drama Kaiser Octavianus: Ein Lustspiel in 2 Theilen was not published by Friedrich Frommann (Jena) until 1804. Here the frontispiece to the edition Vienna 1817:



[23] Frommann did indeed abandon the project. Schleiermacher alone began publishing the translation of Plato in 1804, Platons Werke, part 1, volume 1, trans. F. Schleiermacher (Berlin: In der Realschulbuchhandlung, 1804); the final volume appeared in 1828, and the translation is still used today. Back.

[24] Caroline has likely been reading Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War, a French translation of which appeared as Histoire de Thucydide fils d’Olorus, trans. Pierre-Charles Levesque, 4 vols. (Paris 1795), though one cannot otherwise be sure Caroline is referring to this specific edition:



[25] The reference is to Wilhelm’s earlier plan to translate a piece by Sophocles with Schleiermacher. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), with note 53. Schelling mentions the translation in a letter to Wilhelm on the same day (letter 335a). Back.

[25a] Göttinger Taschen Calender Für das Iahr 1797; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:



[26] Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe is reproduced in Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik (Leipzig 1906), plate 2, following p. 24:


Concerning this bust, see also Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 3 October 1801 (letter 329k), note 2.

Caroline took her own bust of Goethe with her when she left Jena. The Frommanns however, seem to have acquired a bust just as Caroline suspected, since Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:637, writing prior to 1913, remarked that Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe was at that time still standing in the house of Friedrich Frommann in Jena (the Frommann house in 1970; reproduced by permission: Stadtmuseum Jena):



[27] “Die Sprachen. Ein Gespräch über Klopstocks grammatische Gespräche” (The languages. A conversation on Klopstock’s grammatical conversations), the first article in Athenaeum (1798) 3–69. See also Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 25 December 1796 (letter 175), note 9.

Christoph Martin Wieland writes to Karl August Böttiger on 28 May 1798 (Karl August Böttiger, Litterarische Zustände und Zeitgenossen, 2 vols. [Leipzig 1838], 2:181–82):

There is nothing in the world that cannot be subjected to witty derision in this arbitrary fashion. — The best, indeed the by far best piece in this presumptuous Athenaeon [sic] seems to me to be the dialogue on grammar, whose many true and subtle remarks, considerable wit and linguistic erudition, coupled with not a little urbanity prompt the reader’s favorable anticipation of the piece to which they provide the portal. Back.

[28] Fr., “curling paper.”

Concerning the Berlin performance of the German adaptation of Nicolas Dalayrac, La maison à vendre (1800) as Der Hausverkauf (Caroline: Hauskauf) on 16 March 1801, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336), note 12; there also Wilhelm’s review of Friederike Unzelmann’s benefit performance on 14 May 1802. Back.

[29] Ion did not premiere in Berlin until 15 May 1802. Back.

[30] A copy of Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803) had been made for the Frankfurt theater by a “a strapping non-commissioned officer”; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348). Back.

[31] Schelling is engaging in word play concerning the title of the quarterly journal Kynosarges. Eine Quartalschrift, edited by August Ferdinand Bernhardi and published by Heinrich Frölich in 1802, though only one issue appeared; named after the kynosarges (cynosarges, allegedly “white/swift dog”), a gymnasium of the Athenian cynics in ancient Greece dedicated to Hercules and situated in the demos Diomeia outside the walls of Athens, a place of education for those Athenian boys who did not enjoy full citizenship.


Bernhardi conceived the journal as a kind of successor to Friedrich Eberhard Rambach’s Kronos after the latter had left Berlin to enter Russian service. The new journal focused esp. on the Berlin theater.

At the same time, he rejected the “greater class of the reading public” as “rabble readers” and intended the journal to be guided by a “pure and disinterested love of art and scholarship” (“Introduction,” Kynosarges 1 [1802], 1–16, here 1–2), though such was here also accompanied by a more conservative political stance. The purpose of art, Bernhardi maintained, was to connect citizen and monarch, subject and sovereign (“Ueber die Stufen und den letzten Zweck der Erziehung: Ein Fragment,” 22–38, here 34).

Although he tried to maintain the general disposition of the Jena Romantics, he lacked their wit and stylistic adroitness, the result of which was that his articles sometimes bordered on unintended parody. Friedrich Schlegel referred to the journal — intentionally mistranslating the title — as “beer-heavy” Bernhardi’s “lazy dog” (undated letter to Wilhelm, Walzel, 504). Sophie Bernhardi also contributed to the journal. Bernhardi did in any case review at length the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 in Kynosarges 1 (1802), 121–53. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott