Letter 359

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

[Berlin, Monday, 17 May 1802]

|327| It was only after Rose had left that I noticed there was a billet in the books; but because I also had company at the time, I could not answer immediately.

I did indeed, some considerable time ago, make the promise you mention. Although it is certainly conceivable that I might consider myself released from that promise by something that occurred during your stay here, [1] I have not in any way made even the slightest remark yet |328| suggesting this might indeed be the case. Hence I do not see why you should be reminding me of it and prompting me to fulfill it as if it were an obligation.

I do feel constrained to remind you, however, that since that promise was given the assignation of 6 Carolin was made to me here; and to remind you as well of the calculations on the basis of which you made considerable demands of me and whereupon I in turn asked you to let me know specifically what your expectations of me were.

You left this question unanswered and yet decided to make the trip to Berlin, and wrote once that you were merely waiting for news from Braunschweig that you might determine whether you could undertake the trip at your own expense without needing anything from me in that regard. [2]

Because you insisted on making the trip even after what transpired between us regarding financial matters since those earlier invitations, [3] and that despite my (as you yourself once admitted) hints to you not to come, hints you did indeed understand very well, I was, to be sure, not prepared for some of the expenses your stay here generated. [4] The 6 louis d’or you gave me for safekeeping I in part returned to you in cash, and in part paid out for you, and I gave you additional cash as well. I still must settle with Grattenauer concerning your journey here, and such has indeed already been taken care of in part insofar as he kept 2 frd. that he had already accepted for me. [5]

I believe that during your entire stay here I never once made you do without, even though I certainly had no surfeit of money. I have taken care of all of your needs and have not shirked any expense. [6] For example, I have already paid a not inconsiderable sum to the coachman. Nor have I ever resisted paying for the furniture rental, and instead quite expected this demand. [7]

On this occasion, I would also like to learn whether I will be needing to settle an account with Grattenauer for expenses related to daily needs, and, if so, how high that might be.

Regarding the date of my departure, I have never expressed myself such that there could be any doubt, saying rather that after the performance of Ion I would need only a couple of days for minor business and errands and would thus be finished on Tuesday or Wednesday, and so it also remains. [8]

I confess that the distractions of Saturday and Sunday [9] along with my not feeling well today and the countless visits have made it very difficult for me to take care of the errands, but tomorrow I plan to send everything along and on Wednesday |329| be ready to depart.

Since Schelling is still here and would actually arrive in Leipzig later rather than earlier were he to leave with the next postal conveyance, it seems quite natural to me that we all travel together. [10] Doing so will be cheaper, something which, as I said, I cannot but desire insofar as it am by no means enjoying a surfeit of money just now. —

Fichte is loaning me his carriage, and since I alone will be obliged to him for doing so, I see absolutely no problem in accepting the offer. [11] I am hoping that four persons can fit into it comfortably; [12] one should be able to manage. If it simply proves to be impossible, then the simplest thing seems to be to have Rose travel on directly to Jena with the Halle postal conveyance. [13]

Lacking both money and time, I will have to do without the trip to Weimar for now and thus cannot accompany you further from Leipzig. [14] But that route is so short, and you are so familiar with it, that, should Schelling not be traveling with us, you can easily arrange to travel back to Jena alone with Rose. But if Schelling is indeed in Leipzig, then you could travel back the entire way with him; you could find a retour carriage or take the special postal carriage; [15] and if my own funds are sufficient, I will be glad to compensate you for your portion of the expenses in order fully to keep my promise; or if not, to do so as soon as it is possible for me.

I hope this resolves any ambiguity. In the larger sense, I can assure you in no uncertain terms that in the future I will certainly endeavor to take measures to avert this complaint, one I do not believe I did anything to prompt.

Have the papers picked up first thing tomorrow; [16] I cannot possibly send them this evening, since I must first collect them all together. I did not feel well |330| for most of the afternoon, and afterward had one visitor after another; hence forgive me for answering you so late.

A. W. S. [17]


[*] This letter is Wilhelm’s response to Caroline’s letter (billet) to him earlier that day, 17 May 1802 (letter 358). Caroline’s maidservant, Rose, apparently had left the letter among the books she delivered for Caroline. Caroline herself had been unable to come at midday as planned because she was feeling ill.

Dating: Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:327, dates this letter to “May 1802.”

Wilhelm, however, remarks in the second paragraph that

regarding the date of my departure, I have never expressed myself such that there could be any doubt, saying rather that after the performance of Ion I would need only a couple of days for minor business and errands and would thus be finished on Tuesday or Wednesday, and so it also remains. I confess that the distractions of Saturday and Sunday along with my not feeling well today [etc.]

The “distractions” of Saturday and Sunday were the performances of Wilhelm’s play Ion: Ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803) in Berlin on Saturday and Sunday, 15 and 16 May 1802. He was not feeling well “today,” namely, Monday, 17 May 1802, but would be ready to travel on Wednesday, 19 May, after taking care of Caroline’s requests “tomorrow,” Tuesday, 18 May.

Caroline responded to this letter the following day, Tuesday, 18 May 1802 (letter 360), saying that “for now nothing more is needed than the specifics concerning our departure, for which I will be prepared at any time tomorrow,” namely, the day they genuinely did depart.

The further timeline is as follows:

After attending the performances of Ion in Berlin on 15 and 16 May 1802, Caroline, Wilhelm, Schelling, and also Rose did indeed depart Berlin for Leipzig on Wednesday, 19 May 1802.

Caroline, Schelling, and Rose then departed Leipzig for Jena on 24 May 1802 (see Schelling’s letter to Hegel from Leipzig on 23 May 1802 [letter 360b]) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


In this present letter, Wilhelm remarks to Caroline that “lacking both money and time, I will have to do without the trip to Weimar for now and thus cannot accompany you further from Leipzig.” Friedrich Schlegel’s letter from Leipzig to Ludwig Tieck in Dresden on Saturday, 22 May 1802, i.e., after Wilhelm, Caroline, Schelling, and Rose had arrived in Leipzig, similarly attests that Wilhelm did indeed remain behind in Leipzig:

Wilhelm is here [in Leipzig], will be staying 4–6 days [i.e., longer than Monday, 24 May, when Caroline and Schelling, and Rose left Leipzig for Jena] and then be coming to you [in Dresden].

Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch (Augsburg 1795):


Though Wilhelm was initially planning to make the trip in order to visit both Jena and Weimar and to visit Goethe in Weimar (on 8 May 1802 [Körner-Wieneke 134, he mentions to Goethe that he is not yet certain he will be able to come to Jena and Weimar, though should such be possible, it would doubtless be toward the end of May), Goethe notes in his diary on 30 May 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:57), i.e., the day after the performance of Friedrich’s Alarcos on 29 May in Weimar, that he dined with both Schelling and Hegel, but not Wilhelm, which is difficult to imagine had Wilhelm made the journey as well.

Similarly, Caroline writes to Sophie Bernhardi in late May or early June that Friedrich had managed to be in Weimar for the performance of Alarcos but does not mention Wilhelm having attended or even been there. Nor does she mention Wilhelm having made the journey with her from Leipzig (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


That is, Wilhelm returned to Berlin by way of Dresden (see also the end of his letter to Schelling on 27 August 1802 [letter 369b]) rather than continue to Jena with Caroline and Schelling (contra Körner, [1930], 2:63, and KFSA 25:683). His arrival back in Berlin from Dresden on 13 June 1802 is attested by a letter from Berlin to an unknown recipient the following day, 14 June 1802 (Josef Körner, [1930], 2:63): “I did not see your esteemed Sir’s obliging missive of 25 May [1802] until yesterday, on my return from a journey.” Back.

[1] An intriguing but regrettably unspecified event. See below. Back.

[2] Caroline’s sister, Luise Wiedemann, and mother were living in Braunschweig. The allusion seems to be to financial assistance of some sort from Caroline’s relatives in Braunschweig that might help finance her journey to Berlin. Back.

[3] Unknown allusion. Back.

[4] Concerning these hints, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356).

Transcription note: although Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:328, reads “so war ich durchaus nicht auf manches der Ausgaben gefaßt,” the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels) clearly reads “so war ich allerdings nicht auf manches der Ausgaben geschickt.”

Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text from this point to the end of this paragraph, which reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Die 6 Lsd., welche du mir zu ver-
wahren gegeben, habe ich dir theils baar
wieder gegeben, theils für dich ausgezahlt
u. dir noch verschiedenes baar dazu gegeben.
Deine Herreise muss ich noch bey Gratten.
berichtigen, u. es ist zum Theil geschehen,
indem er für mich eingenommenes Geld,
2 frd. zurück behalten hat. Back.

[5] One cannot help but notice the peculiar circumstance that Wilhelm and Caroline were still married and yet are discussing — and testily — such financial matters as if such were not the case.

Wilhelm’s remark concerning yet owing Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer for Caroline’s journey to Berlin similarly suggests that Grattenauer was indeed her traveling companion. See Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), note 3; and on 18 March 1802 (letter 356), notes 2 and 4, and Schelling’s to Wilhelm on 29 March 1802 (letter 356a), note 1.

The final reference is possibly to money Grattenauer, who would be putting a hall in his house at Wilhelm’s disposal for the latter’s Berlin lectures, had taken in for Wilhelm (see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 18 September 1801 [letter 329e], note 21; and Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 December 1801 [letter 334], note 20). The honorarium was 2 Friedrichsd’or (see Sophie Bernhardi’s letter to Wilhelm on 21 August 1801 [letter 327f], note 18).

Caroline, moreover, stayed with Grattenauer and his wife, Anna Philippine Elisabeth Grattenauer, at Lindenstrasse 66 during her sojourn in Berlin (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 April 1802 [letter 357], note 12), a circumstance that generated expenses Wilhelm addresses in the next two paragraphs (Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Schalt-Jahr 1804; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[6] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text from this point to the end of the next paragraph, which reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription Hedwig Durnbaugh):

so habe ich schon beträchtliche Summen an den
Kutscher bezahlt, die Miete für die Mö-
beln zu zahlen habe ich mich nie geweigert,
sondern vielmehr diese Foderung erwartet.

Bey dieser Gelegenheit wünsche ich zu
erfahren, ob ich von bey Gratten. noch eine
Rechnung von Auslagen [above line: für tägliche Bedürfniisse] für Dich werde
zu berichtigen haben, und, [below line: falls es ist,] wie hoch sie sich be-
laufen möchte. Back.

[7] Wilhelm’s reference to the coachman possibly involves Caroline’s transportation inside Berlin itself; she was not residing with Wilhelm in any case, but rather quite a distance away. See her letter to Wilhelm on 24 April 1802 (letter 357), note 12. Caroline speaks about furniture rental in her letter to Wilhelm on 17 May 1802 (letter 358). Back.

[8] I.e., Tuesday, 18 May 1802; Wednesday, 19 May 1802. Back.

[9] The performances of Ion on 15 and 16 May 1802. Back.

[10] They did indeed travel together. Back.

[11] The potential problem with traveling with Fichte’s carriage was that Fichte and Schelling were no longer on good terms, and in fact no evidence documents that Schelling even visited Fichte during his own stay in Berlin. Back.

[12] I.e., Wilhelm, Caroline, Schelling, and Rose. Back.

[13] I.e., travel back to Jena by way of Halle instead of Leipzig. Concerning this route, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 March 1802 (letter 350), note 3. Back.

[14] As noted above, Wilhelm returned to Berlin by way of Dresden, arriving back in Berlin on 13 June 1802. Back.

[15] Fr., a “returning [carriage],” i.e., a carriage returning whence it came and in many cases seeking paying passengers to help cover costs; at inns and other stations, such carriages often had signs or simply chalk writing on them reading “Retour nach, “returning to . . . ” Here: a carriage returning to Jena from Leipzig.

The “extra” or special postal carriage was arranged privately with persons whose horses and carriages were used contractually by the postal service for the purpose of changing out either or both at postal stations. These persons often owned inns or taverns in connection with the station itself (“Zur Post,” “Zur alten Post,” which is still seen as a restaurant name in Germany). Back.

[16] I.e., Tuesday, 18 May 1802; the papers (or letters) are those Caroline had requested in her billet to Wilhelm earlier that day (letter 358). She likely dispatched Rose to pick them up. Concerning the distance between their places of residence in Berlin, see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 24 April 1802 (letter 357), note 12. Back.

[17] Without being able to specify exactly what happened between Caroline and Wilhelm in Berlin, one can nonetheless point out that this event (or events) seems to have prompted a decision between the two not merely to separate, but to pursue a divorce. In her letter to Julie Gotter on 18 February 1803 (letter 375), Caroline remarks that “in Berlin, where everything displeased me and yet where Schlegel intended to stay, I finally made my decision.” In that same letter to Julie Gotter, Caroline earlier points out, without specifying such as the primary reason, that

particularly since on several occasions Schlegel himself reminded me, through frivolous behavior, of the freedom obtaining between us, behavior which, even if I did not doubt the continuation of his love, I could nonetheless not find particularly pleasing and which at the very least did not exactly contribute to securing my affections.

In the context of Berlin, Caroline may be thinking particularly of Friederike Unzelmann and, perhaps for the first time (she does not seem to have suspected her earlier), also Sophie Bernhardi (Bergoldt, Ein Liebespaar in einem Zimmer [ca. 1797–1836]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. A: 395.6):


See esp. also the supplementary appendix on Caroline’s rival, Minna van Nuys. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott