Letter 358

358. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Berlin, Monday, 17 May 1802 [*]

[Berlin, Monday, 17 May 1802] [1]

|327| The man from whom the furniture was rented will probably be coming to see you this morning. Madam Grattenauer said only that she made an adjustment with him for half the price for the time they were not used, so up till 9 May it came to 6 rthl; I just want to let you know.

At the same time, let me ask that you get the papers to me today that I must have and to let me know definitely when we can depart and in general clear up any unresolved issues relating to the journey. [2] Insofar as once I did make my arrangements in accord with your various offers to cover the cost of my stay here as well as the return trip, I could not doubt for a single moment that you would keep your promise, since you did indeed transfer the requisite sum in January, which would be sent, for example, to Goethe from here on your behalf. And if in the meantime anything might have arisen making it impossible for you to cover the costs, nothing would have been easier or more natural than to relate these circumstances to me. [3]

Here are Guarini, Tasso, and Petrarch. [4] When will the mail depart again to Leipzig? On Saturday I forgot to write the Tischbeins. [5] I will not be coming today at midday, since with this headache I can hardly write even this.


[*] Caroline was not staying with Wilhelm during her trip to Berlin, but rather with the family of Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer. See her letter to Julie Gotter on 24 April 1802 (letter 357), note 12.

This letter is one of several to Wilhelm in which Caroline’s tone becomes increasingly testy. Although the source of this friction involved not least financial disagreements (see esp. his undated letter to her during May 1802 [letter 359]), other, unknown issues seem to have been in play as well.

Dating: Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:327, dates this letter to “May 1802.” This letter, however, is the billet Wilhelm mentions in his letter to Caroline on 17 May 1802 (letter 359), in which he remarks having found it in the books Caroline mentions at the end of this present letter.

Because he remarks in letter 359 that he was unable to answer immediately because of the distractions of Saturday and Sunday (15, 16 May, the Berlin performances of Ion: ein Schauspiel) and the constant stream of visitors, he seems to have answered it that evening, i.e., the evening of this same day, Monday, 17 May 1802 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Lateinisches Elementarbuch/Masculina; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums. Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung 3-17)7:


That Caroline also remarks that she “will not be coming today at midday” makes sense only for Monday, 17 May, rather than Sunday, 16 May, since she was in Berlin on Sunday in any case for the performance of Ion. See the editorial note to that letter for the timeline of Caroline’s final days in Berlin. Back.

[1] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text from this point to the words “At the same time,” 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):

Wahrscheinlich wird diesen Morgen der Mann von dem die Meublen
gemiethet sind zu dir kommen. Die Grp. sagte nur, sie habe
mit ihm für die Zeit wo sie nicht gebraucht wurden die
Hälfte der Zahlung ausgemacht, bis zum 9ten May betrug
es demnach 6 rh[t]l, wovon ich dich nur benachrichtigen will. Back.

[2] No documentation indicates which papers are meant; the reference is likely to a document associated with a specific letter (or letters) mentioned in Caroline’s next undated letter to Wilhelm in May 1802 (letter 360) and concerning the sharing of costs for Caroline’s trip to Berlin (Gottlieb Böttger der Ältere, Man und Frau in einem Zimmer [1804]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph A1 255):


Caroline seems to have departed Berlin for Leipzig with both Wilhelm and Schelling on 19 May 1802. She and Schelling would then continue to Jena Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[3] In one of his earlier letters to Caroline from Berlin, Wilhelm seems to have “hinted” to her that the trip would perhaps not be a good idea. See her letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356). See also his undated letter to her during May 1802 (letter 359). Back.

[4] Materials associated with the Italian poets Battista Guarini, Torquato Tasso, and Francesco Petrarch, all of whom Wilhelm treats in his Berlin lectures and Schelling in his philosophy of art. Wilhelm included translated samples of these writers in his anthology Blumensträusse italiänischer, spanischer und portugiesischer Poesie (Berlin 1804), along with material from Dante, Ariosto, Montemayor, Cervantes, Camoëns, a few of his own poems, and annotations.

Wilhelm’s goal with this volume was to introduce to the German reading audience previously little-known figures from what he had, significantly, come to understand as “Romantic” authors from other European cultures, including the Italian (Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto), Spanish (e.g., Cervantes), and excerpts from Camoëns’s (1524–80) grand Portuguese historical epic The Lusiads (1572).

The newness of some of the works comes to expression in Goethe’s words of thanks on 2 November 1803 for his complimentary volume (Körner-Wieneke 45): “Many thanks for the Blumensträusse, which truly are phenomena from another world!” See also the remarks in Jochen Strobel, August Wilhelm Schlegel: Romantiker und Kosmopolit (Darmstadt 2017), 77–79, who also emphasizes the European national cultures, as it were, over against the hegemonic intentions of Napoleon.

The anthology appeared as a handsomely produced volume; to open a gallery of the illustrations and title page, click on the image below:



[5] Caroline had initially planned to visit the Tischbeins in Leipzig on her way to Berlin from Jena. See her letter to Wilhelm on 1 March 1802 (letter 349). Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott