Letter 356

• 356. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 18 March 1802 [*]

[Jena] Thursday, 18 March [1802]

|322| I received your letter this morning and am extremely pleased, since now — after all — I do know how things stand. [1] The message from Grattenauer will presumably come to me early tomorrow morning from Weimar. I will not be negligent in urging him, since, frankly, right now I would just as soon be there already. [2]

And because I probably believed I might miss various things that were indeed important to me, [3] I have occasionally regretted having paid such attention to your presumed hints. But I genuinely did have to take them as such; among other things, you wrote that it would not be pleasant were I to find Madam Grattenauer |323| home alone, and that sort of thing. [4]

But things are now as they are, so let us go ahead and make the best of it. [4a] In the final analysis I do yet hope to get there in one piece and to see you again under a beneficent constellation, something to which I am greatly looking forward. —

We, in the meantime, have had a run of severe winter weather again, and for several days I myself have felt very ill indeed. —

The letter you sent me from my sister greatly distresses me. [5] Although I would, of course, remain fairly calm if my mother were to die, her suffering grieves me deeply, particularly since she herself is probably recalling my father’s final, sad days now, something that doubtless intensifies her own suffering not inconsiderably. And although Luise, for whom this whole domestic situation is certainly also not particularly salutary, [6] immediately received letters from me afterward, she is probably now wondering why the answer to this one is taking so long. [7]

Schelling has had to give in and negotiate back and forth with Gabler. It came to the point where he wanted to send you the eight proof sheets of a philosophical dialogue today that it might make the rounds in Berlin a bit, and indeed, the decision will not be made until late this evening whether it will genuinely go out with tomorrow’s mail. Had you been unable to find a home for it, he would have asked you to present it to Hufeland for Unger as well. He asked that I might mention such a request to you beforehand, though I myself think it will not prove necessary. [8]

He has developed a very nice plan for some lectures on academic study for the first month of the next half-year while he is still here. [9] Although they are assiduously entreating him to stay and keep lecturing, a sizable group is actually entertaining particular hopes that he will not lecture. Schütz and Schmidt are both collecting subscriptions, something the elder gentlemen have never before done; [10] Schad is lecturing |324| on the philosophy of nature, and a half dozen other fine birds have also fluttered in. —

My dear friend, I am counting on you saving at least some of the lectures, and that you crown at least the last one with a very special and singularly witty lady attendee [11]

Madam Fromman came to me a couple of days ago specifically to announce the return of Octavian, about which they are not a little pleased and, I might say, more out of an inclination for Tiek himself than, for example, out of self-interest. They are blaming everything on Malchen, in whom they would, as she says, have no further interest except that Tiek’s displeasure would have caused them grief; he, however, mentioned absolutely nothing about it in his letter. So I now genuinely have Octavian here in the house, and we will be reading it this evening. [12]

To ensure that you do not imagine the presence of anything like elephants among the recently mentioned Kotzeboobian personages, [13] let me relate to you what small, blind gnats they in fact were. Although the old gentleman is as silent as a wall and was clever enough to have Schelling tell him everything the latter wanted to know from him, [14] Madam Niethammer, who heard a reading of the play here at the Gruners’ and paid for it dearly by being bored, told me about it.

It was allegedly nothing but a miserable, utterly hors d’œuvre role of a poet who talks a great deal about sonnets (a word Goethe had replaced by “poem” in every instance), publishes a rather pious Almanach, and ultimately threatens someone with a Triumphal Gate. [15] It was this latter element that he was insisting on, a point on which Goethe was absolutely unyielding. —

Although Goethe told Schelling that, yes, The Small Towners would indeed have been quite dangerous to the small towners, he could not be enticed — not even with a full glass and while in an extremely boisterous mood — to speak about the two letters. [16]

Iffland is truly a f . . . . [17] for hesitating so long with Ion |325| and yet extolling the Regulus so highly. [18] Goethe mercilessly made fun of the report on Ion, [19] which was allegedly supposed to seem so sublimely aesthetic, and yet Iffland then fell so far out of character and into nature that he became insufferably magnanimous. He had Kirmes write that the honorarium was to be paid out to you there.

Apropos, last week a package addressed to you arrived from the [Allgemeine] Literatur Zeitung that I took to be merely a catalog, which indeed it was, and yet upon opening it I found the enclosed present, which I was meaning to bring along with me but which I am now sending on in case anything needs to be taken care of. [20]

Ritter is here again at the Frommans. [21] — The catalog was not, for example, the Winkler one, but only a simple book catalog with nothing really of note except three or four listings of Jakob Böhm’s works.

So, stay well, my friend; I am really not planning on writing you again. Give my regards to your friends.


[*] This letter is the last extant letter Caroline wrote before her trip to Berlin (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Wilhelm’s letter is apparently not extant; at issue is Caroline’s departure for Berlin (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[2] Concerning the Berlin attorney Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer and Caroline’s departure for Berlin, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), note 3. Caroline is referring to Grattenauer himself being in Weimar and to a missive she anticipates coming from him (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Grattenauer’s presence in Weimar essentially confirms that he himself was her traveling companion, not least also because from 1800 he lectured in Berlin on exchange law, and Caroline, in her letter to Julie Gotter on 11 March 1802 (letter 354), remarks that her “traveling companion, rather than the previously mentioned, quiet gentleman versed in the arts of healing [Friedrich Hufeland], will instead be an active, lively legal scholar.”

Having Grattenauer as her traveling companion would in any case likely preclude her having journeyed to Berlin from Jena by way of Braunschweig, as was traditionally suggested by a questionable reading of Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 29 March 1802 (letter 356a), a reading since corrected. Back.

[3] I.e., in Berlin. Back.

[4] Caroline might encounter Madam Grattenauer home alone in Berlin if her, Madam Grattenauer’s, husband was indeed to be Caroline’s traveling companion (which accounts in part for his presence in Weimar), and had she, Caroline, not waited for him, and instead traveled on to Berlin with someone else and arrived before him. Back.

[4a] As it turns out, Wilhelm’s “hints,” at least as he later interpreted them, were that Caroline not make the trip to Berlin at all. See his letter to her on 17 May 1802 (letter 359). Back.

[5] Not extant. Back.

[6] Madam Michaelis was living with Luise Wiedemann in Braunschweig (Leipzig Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen auf das Jahr 1794; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[7] That is, Luise seems to have expected Caroline already to be in Berlin. Back.

[8] Concerning Schelling’s problems with his “philosophical dialogue” Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802), see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348), note 27, and on 11 March 1802 (letter 353), note 22.

Schelling did indeed write Wilhelm the next day concerning the possibility of finding a publisher in Berlin. Johann Friedrich Unger eventually published Bruno after the Berlin and former Jena physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland queried Unger about it:


Hufeland reported back to Schelling on 28 March 1802 (Fuhrmans 2:394) with the news of Unger’s willingness to publish the piece, albeit with the interesting condition that Schelling now give Unger all his works to publish. Back.

[9] Schelling’s Vorlesungen über die Methode des academischen Studium [sic, rather than Studiums] (Tübingen 1803), which he delivered in Jena during the summer semester 1802. Back.

[10] I.e., subscriptions from students committing to attend a given course of lectures; the implication is that Christian Gottfried Schütz was trying to obligate students financially to prevent or discourage them from attending Schelling’s lectures instead. Here students entering a lecture hall (Ed. Heyck, Heidelberg Studentenleben zu Anfang unseres Jahrhunderts [Heidelberg 1886], plate following p. 14):



[11] Wilhelm’s first course of lectures in Berlin seems to have concluded on Wednesday, 7 April 1802 (he had been lecturing since early December), and Caroline was hoping not to miss at least the concluding lecture.

In his letter to Goethe on 17 April 1802 (Körner-Wieneke 131), Wilhelm remarks that he had just ended his lectures in Berlin “about a week ago,” i.e., likely on Wednesday, 7 April 1802, since according to the entry ticket Wilhelm was lecturing on “Sundays and Wednesdays — 12–1:00”; see his letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 21 August 1801 (letter 327f), note 18. Back.

[12] See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 February 1802 (letter 348) concerning the problems between Ludwig Tieck and the Jena publisher Karl Friedrich Ernst Frommann.

To wit, Frommann did not publish Tieck’s grand drama Kaiser Octavianus: Ein Lustspiel in 2 Theilen until 1804. Here the frontispiece to the edition Vienna 1817:


That is, Caroline is speaking about having the manuscript of Octavian to read rather than anything published. Back.

[13] I.e., allusions to certain persons in August von Kotzebue’s play Die deutschen Kleinstädter] (Leipzig 1803) that Goethe had wanted deleted before any performance in the Weimar theater, deletions Kotzebue refused. Caroline has already mentioned these deletions to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 11 March 1802 (letter 353): “Goethe deleted all the specific personages in it, and you can well imagine to whom they alluded.” Back.

[14] An odd sentence, presumably a reference to a conversation between Schelling and Goethe concerning the nature of the alterations Goethe had in mind for Kotzebue’s play; in the conversation, Schelling seems to have properly guessed the identity of, in the case Caroline here goes on to mention, Wilhelm himself in the character of the poet Sperling in the play. Back.

[15] These elements all allude to Wilhelm; one character in the play says of the poet Sperling: “He is not a bad poet at all. He is especially good at wheeling and dealing with sonnets, forcing rhymes out of things even if he has to tear their hair out by the roots.” Wilhelm had similarly published the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 and, of course, the anti-Kotzebue Trimphal Gate, or Kotzebuade. See supplementary appendix 344.1. Back.

[16] Viz., the letter from Kotzebue’s mother, Christina Kotzebue to Goethe, and Goethe’s harsh reply. Again, see supplementary appendix 344.1. Back.

[17] Erich Schmidt suggested the reading Fr., filou, “crook, pickpocket, thief; sharper, cheat, swindler,” here a “cutpurse” cutting a woman’s purse at the market to steal her money (“Der Beutelschneider und Filou,” Abraham S. Clara and Christoph Weigel, Etwas für Alle, Das ist: Eine kurtze Bschreibung allerley Stands-Ambts- und Gewebs-Persohnen etc. plate following p. 894):



[18] Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel was not performed until 15 May 1802 in Berlin.

“And yet extolling the Regulus so highly”: Caroline uses a Germanized version of the French verb prôner, “lift up to the altar, whence in this context: boost, laud, extol,” just as earlier in her letter to Wilhelm on 27 July 1801 (letter 327); see note 15 there.

The reference is to the Viennese author Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s tragic drama Regulus: Eine Tragödie in fünf Aufzügen (Berlin 1802), which had been performed in Berlin on 24 February 1802. Here the frontispiece to Heinrich J. v. Collin’s sämtliche Werke, vol. 1: Regulus, Coriolan, Polyrena (Vienna 1812):


Wilhelm castigated it as a “schoolboy’s exercise” in his review in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1802) 49 (Saturday, 24 April 1802), 385–88; 50 (Tuesday, 27 April 1802), 393–95 (Sämmtliche Werke 9:180–87; Kritische Schriften 2:122–27 [incomplete]); the journal Brennus also dampened its own praise for it in the second volume. For excerpts of his review, see supplementary appendix 356.1. Back.

[19] I.e., Iffland’s report to Goethe concerning the Berlin Theater’s acceptance of the play for performance. Caroline mentions this report toward the end of her letter to Wilhelm on 11 March 1802 (letter 353). Back.

[20] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[21] In 1802 Friedrich Frommann published Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s Beyträge zur nähern Kenntniss des Galvanismus und der Resultate seiner Untersuchung, vol. 2, no. 2.

Ritter had spent January and February 1802 in Gotha as the guest of the Ernst II of Gotha for the purpose of continuing his experiments and lecturing to court society on galvanism. Here copper engravings from vol. 1, no. 2 and vol. 2, no. 2:



Concerning Ritter’s itinerary during this period, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 July 1801 (letter 324) with additional cross references there in note 21. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott