Letter 368

• 368. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 5 July 1802

Jena, 5 July [18]02

|338| Considering the overall situation, I could anticipate that you would not obstruct in any way the wish I expressed with regard to my mother, and I would indeed have had to insist on that if the latest news about her condition did not seem to promise recovery. [1] Hence because I myself am not disposed to delay anything because of any less urgent matter, I do certainly accept your suggestion and |339| will thus take all the necessary measures. More news as soon as possible! [2]

I must, however, yet implore you in the meantime, that is, until the divorce is final, neither to speak about it yourself nor to allow anyone else to speak about it, just as I myself will do and just as is certainly necessary if we are to attain our goal in as undisturbed a fashion as possible and along the shortest possible path. [3]

I would further like to know how you are planning to deal with your relatives in Lower Saxony with regard to the matter that I might maintain the same behavior as you toward them or adjust my own behavior accordingly. [4]

Schelling has inquired whether you have received a vellum copy of Bruno from Meyer. [5] Since Schelling did have some additional income, we completely paid off the debt with the Niethammers and are thus now expecting the entire sum of 90 rh. 8 gr. [6] The tailor also brought the enclosed invoice. [7] You can subtract whatever you additionally pay out.


[1] Caroline’s mother, currently residing with Caroline’s sister Luise Wiedemann in Braunschweig, had been seriously ill, and Caroline was considering postponing taking any immediate steps toward securing a divorce out of consideration for her mother’s condition.

See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm in June 1802 (letter 365), note 4. Unfortunately the correspondence, presumably with Luise Wiedemann, in which Caroline is kept updated concerning her mother’s recovery seems not to be extant. Back.

[2] Only a single additional letter from Caroline to Wilhelm seems to be extant, namely, the undated letter from September 1802 (letter 370). Between that letter and mid-May 1803, when Caroline and Schelling leave Jena for good after the divorce was granted, communication concerning the securement of that divorce is exchanged largely between Schelling and Wilhelm, in part also between Schelling and Goethe.

Caroline, by contrast, as becomes evident and as she herself puts it in letter 370, gradually withdraws entirely. That is, although much of the correspondence in this edition during that period comes not from Caroline’s hand at all, the correspondence especially between Schelling and Wilhelm is included here to document the course and problems that arise in securing the divorce, and perhaps not least also to document the remarkably cordial personal relationship that largely if not entirely endured between the two men despite the unusual circumstances. Back.

[3] Caroline’s admonition not to allow anyone else to speak about the anticipated divorce recalls, consciously or not, her and Wilhelm’s vexation at the way Friedrich Schlegel and esp. Dorothea Veit had divulged Wilhelm as the author or Ion, notwithstanding Wilhelm’s wish to keep his authorship secret. See esp. Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 9 January 1802 (letter 341a). Back.

[4] Wilhelm’s mother, brother Karl Schlegel, and sister-in-law Julie Schlegel all lived in Hannover. Caroline seems to have corresponded with them, though only one of her letters is extant (from Jena to Karl and Julie Schlegel on 18 July 1796 [letter 167]) ([1] Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer von Bildung auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung; [2] Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):




[5] Schelling’s Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802), which Johann Friedrich Unger had just published in Berlin. Wilhelm had helped mediate the sale of the book to Unger earlier and had even offered to read proofs (see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 12 April 1802 [letter 356c]). Meyer is otherwise unidentified.

Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to the end of the letter. The omitted text reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription by the translator):

Die Schuld bey Niethammers
haben wir, da Schell. noch Geld
einnahm, vollends abgetragen u
rechnen also auf die ganze Summe
von 90 rhtl 8 gr. Der Schneider hat
noch beyliegende Rechnung gebracht.
Du ziehst dann ab, was du noch
auslegst. Back.

[6] In her letter to Wilhelm on 29 June 1802 (letter 367), Caroline mentions 91 rather than 90 rthl.

In her sometimes testy settling of financial accounts with Wilhelm in anticipation of the divorce, Caroline has relayed to him various invoices and information on payments from Jena. Their former landlords at Leutragasse 5, the Niethammers, had apparently been insisting on collecting rent interest (see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 30 July 1802 [letter 368b]). Caroline mentions it in her letters to Wilhelm on 18 June 1802 (letter 364), see note 6 there; and 29 June 1802 (letter 367). Back.

[7] Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 2 [Vienna 1775], plate 7:



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott