Letter 383f

383f. Wilhelm Schlegel to Sophie Bernhardi in Weimar: Morgenthal, Switzerland, 15 May 1804 [*]

Morgenthal, 15 May 1804

My dearest friend, please forgive me for not having written you during my entire journey until today. It has certainly not been for any lack of good will, nor have we been travelling with any particular haste; but the half days we have spent in some towns have been taken up in part by visits, in part by sightseeing and walks, then I often provided company when we rested, was occasionally quite fatigued in the evening, or, if not, the environment of inferior inns and taverns stifled any desire I had for writing.

Today, however, I am enjoying complete peace and quiet for the first time and will thus make use of this favorable leisure time. We arrived here a bit earlier than anticipated; I sent my young charges (for there are now two boys rather than one) on a walk with the manservant and am now sitting alone in a dainty room, a small lowland expanse with hills and blue mountains before me, the evening sun still shining in cordially beneath the house canopy. [1]

The small village where we have found such handsome accommodations is only a short day’s journey from Bern, where tomorrow we shall meet up with Madame de Staël again, who travelled there directly from Zürich. [2] From there it is three or four days to Coppet, so that if I post my letter tomorrow in Bern, you will receive it a week earlier than if I wait till we reach the end of our journey. [3]

You are no doubt not expecting a complete, formal description of my journey, but rather only an account of what has involved me personally. On the whole, the trip has been quite comfortable and pleasant. Because Constant does indeed possess an extremely imaginative and singular wit, there was often considerable competition between us given the enormous differences of opinion. [4]

We often worked in tandem to cheer up and entertain Madame de Staël; although she was generally very quiet, occasionally her previous animated interest in things returned. We had a copy of Goethe and several other books in the carriage, so we read aloud quite a bit, occasionally even translating into French on the spot.

Only now have I had a chance to become better acquainted with her daughter, of whom Constant is quite fond; he spends half the day playing with her, and she in her own turn responds with passionate interest. I have hardly ever encountered a more receptive child; she listens to stories and fairy tales in a fashion that makes one want to keep telling them to the point of exhaustion. Moreover, her tiny physiognomy is so wondrously expressive, with real Magdalene-eyes, brown and with long, dark lashes along with her golden hair. [4a]

We did not leave Weimar until toward midday, arriving then in Gotha that afternoon. [5] . . . The next day we travelled only as far as Schmalkalden, since the road in that direction is largely quite bad, and then over the mountains of the Thuringian Forest. [6] The third day as far as Meinungen, similarly hardly a half-day’s journey, where we had to stop because of a lack of horses in Schmalkalden, since we had departed without servants and had to wait for them till evening in Meinungen.

Had the disquiet of having to wait not disrupted the day, our stay there would have been better than elsewhere. The locale with its layout along with the surrounding area is small but extraordinarily amiable. The Englishman Mellish, whom I knew earlier in Weimar and Dornburg, [7] was there and visited us.

Hardenberg is now in Weissenfels rather than there, as I found out for certain in Meinungen. [8] Do write to him, and send him my kindest regards as well. I could have seen him had I not diligently kept it from Madame de Staël until Naumburg, since I did not want to prevent her from reaching Naumburg that evening. [9]

A day and a half from Meinungen to Würzburg; we arrived toward midday, [10] I sent a billet to Schelling, but as it turns out, he was away on an outing into the country, as was Hufeland. So I spent that afternoon in part having a look at the castle and all sorts of other things.

Würzburg, though more splendidly impressive, did not make nearly as amiable an impression on me as did Bamberg; the fertile hills surrounding Würzburg itself, which have been cultivated to quite a large extent, offer little shade or opportunity for walks. [11]

I visited Paulus toward evening, initially finding only his wife at home; [12] she received me quite cordially and immediately spoke a great deal about and against Caroline. Although they have indeed seen each other since their arrival, their relationship is now so strained that their husbands see each other only for business, while the wives see each other not at all. I myself would prefer not to decide who is to blame. [13]

Paulus is clever in a petty way, and his intentions are probably not always the best. For example, he allegedly went to considerable trouble to bring Schütz here from Jena along with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung before Schütz ended up in Halle. [14] But he is otherwise satisfied with his situation, so the rumors to the contrary one hears elsewhere are not true. —

Schelling, having found my billet, came to see us in the inn late that evening, as did also Hufeland. I introduced them to Constant, since Madame de Staël did not want to see anyone. [15] She was willing to remain in Würzburg for part of the next morning because I had seen so little of Schelling, though he himself had to leave early the next morning to meet Marcus on business in Schweinfurt, who was summoned to a severely ill patient in Meinungen the day after our stopover. [16]

Schelling was extremely obliging and cordial; he infinitely regretted our having missed each other and insisted that I return to his apartment at 11:00 that same evening, where we found Caroline still awake and I remained until after 1:00 a.m. She had already learned of my journey beforehand from the newspapers. [17] Schelling had another look at his letter from Marcus but found that his trip could not be postponed, so we departed the next morning at 8 a.m. after I had paid a brief visit to Caroline.

She seemed inclined to erase all the bitterness of memory, and was moved at my departure. Her appearance seemed to me better and healthier than in Berlin, [18] and then she always knows how to dress flatteringly and to arrange her surroundings quite handsomely. [19] She had set up the busts of Goethe and Auguste in a large salon, and had two large orange trees just inside the windows. In the living room, I saw the beloved portrait of Auguste again. [20]

I spoke with her as agreed about the memorial; she has altered her opinion in the matter and has probably already written to Tieck herself. She would now prefer to have it placed in the cemetery, where a Christian motif would fit better. I would think that our artistic friend Tieck himself would find this novel turn attractive. Otherwise she would also like to request that he send her the sketches for the bas-reliefs once more, to see whether she might now perhaps want to retract her objection to the third. —

Both she and Schelling confided much to me concerning his situation and plans, and concerning all the cabals against him. Caroline, of course, spoke as negatively about Madam Paulus as did the latter about her. And about Madam Huber and the latter’s ostensible but untenable reconciliation with her. [21] I forgot to mention that on the way to Würzburg I passed through Münnerstadt, only a couple of hours from Bocklet and Auguste’s grave. [22]

After a couple of rather dreadful nights as far as accommodations were concerned, but rather pretty landscapes on our entry into Swabia, especially near Ellwangen, we arrived in Ulm on the afternoon of the third day, where we remained until the next afternoon. [23] The weather, which until then had been extraordinarily good and even hot, became rainy, so I contented myself with merely hearing the Danube rushing beneath our windows, [24] and did not go out at all, since Constant was spending the majority of the day with his old acquaintances, the Hubers. [25]

The next morning, I viewed the cathedral and did a respectable job climbing its tower, which admittedly possesses a completely different shape than Huber, whom I found present with Madame de Staël when I returned. [26] He is currently a Bavarian state administrative Rath for the newly acquired territory in Swabia, and the uniform, along with his roundish face and short, fat stature, gives him an utterly philistine, old-Franconian appearance. He had greatly praised me to Madame de Staël, and I, of course, did not speak at all with him about literary matters. [27]

He took me to see his wife. She lives in quite domestic circumstances with him and gave birth to her 10th child a week ago, if I am not mistaken, and is already up and about. [28] She recalled earlier times when during a visit at my parents’ home in Hannover she knew me as a boy, then afterward in Göttingen as well, when she had returned there from Vilnius with Forster, but not since, and all these memories moved her for a moment when I entered the room. [29]

All that was admittedly long ago, however, certainly a good 16 years or so, which is why I should not really have been surprised to find that she had aged, since I had known her earlier when she was, albeit never pretty, yet certainly quite striking with her fresh, animated youth and witty, lively personality. [30] What I found, however, was that she had come to resemble, and quite horrifically so, her ugly, squinting father. [31] There was not enough time for me to determine just how poorly these people would have come to terms with me and I with them. [32]

From Ulm we passed through rather unknown locales, but largely pleasant, populated, fertile areas I would like to have seen had the weather been better, then on to Schaffhausen, still in the pouring rain. [33]

The next morning, we left earlier than Madame de Staël to see the Rhine falls at leisure and from different perspectives. [34] We travelled across the Rhine to Laufen Castle, beneath which a wooden gallery has been erected just beneath the waterfall. Madame de Staël remained on the other bank, since she had already seen this spectacle on a different occasion, and we met her on an elevation on the Rhine when we returned.

Without thinking, we sent our driver away too early and ended up getting lost in some rather steep precipices before finding our way again. We arrived in Zürich toward evening. Madame Necker, née Saussure, had travelled out to meet her cousin and was already there, but in a different inn. This reunion greatly upset Frau von Staël, and made for a very sad evening indeed. She did, however, insist on the planned excursion for me and the two sons, the youngest of whom had come along with her cousin to meet her. He is a handsome, blond, wild young man of 12 who has too much of what in the way of external liveliness the eldest lacks. [35]

Hence the next morning we saw only a little of Zürich, and then traveled on to Luzern the day before yesterday, in Constant’s light carriage. We still have a valet and manservant with us. The weather smiled a bit on us, and on the Albis, an extremely high mountain whence the view opens up onto the entirety of Lake Zürich, we enjoyed some moments of sunshine just as we did the day before at the Rhine Falls.

Yesterday we took an excursion on Lake Lucerne, landed at Küssnacht (refer to the map), and went to Tell’s chapel, that is, to the chapel dedicated to the memory of the murder of Gessler, and from there to an elevation where one can oversee Lake Zuger. [36] That is where I picked the forget-me-nots I am enclosing for you as a sign that this flower of remembrance also blooms in the womb of distant loneliness.

That evening we still had time to take a walk on a mountain near Lucerne from which we had a splendid view of the lake. [37] I was quite pleased with this town, it is so quiet and Catholic. We are now travelling toward Canton Vaud. — I must close; my eyes are heavy and tired. I will write about everything else from Coppet. [38]

I cannot tell you with what tenderness and affection I think of you and your little angels. [39] I am longingly awaiting news about your health. But I will write more extensively about my plans for you in my next letter. I embrace Wilhelm and Felix a thousand times over in thought. Your memory has followed me every step of the way.

Stay very well, and pass along my most tender brotherly regards to Tieck. I will not miss a single postal day in Coppet.

Again, adieu.


[*] Source: Krisenjahre 1:78–82. Wilhelm uses the formal term of address, Sie, in this letter. Concerning this issue, see the editorial note to Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a).

Wilhelm was traveling with Madame de Staël from Berlin back to her estate at Coppet after the sudden death of her father on 9 April 1804. Morgenthal is situated between Lucerne and Bern (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):


Wilhelm seems to have seen Sophie Bernhardi in Weimar, since he does not recount his journey from Berlin to Weimar, and since she writes him from Weimar on 9 May 1804 (Krisenjahre 1:77–78); Josef Körner (ibid., 3:62) assumes that Wilhelm accompanied her to Weimar at some point, a journey motivated primarily by Sophie’s wish to escape for a time August Ferdinand Bernhardi in Berlin. Sophie’s brother Friedrich Tieck was, moreover, still engaged in Weimar working on castle renovations (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


This letter marks a significant transition in Wilhelm’s life, including as a transition from Caroline, whom he sees but twice more.

De Staël had been on a tour of Germany and had earlier visited Weimar, among other locales. After the news of her father’s illness reached her, she left Berlin with her entourage, including Wilhelm, on the night of 18–19 April 1804. This sudden departure and change of return route prevented Wilhelm from meeting with his brother Friedrich Schlegel during a stopover. See Dorothea Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus in late April / early May 1804 (letter 383e), note 1.

Shortly after making Wilhelm’s acquaintance in Berlin, Madame de Staël became interested in having him, in effect, join her entourage, and when confronted with his reluctance, turned to Henriette Herz to help persuade him. Although Wilhelm seems to have cited his work on the edition of Shakespeare as his reason for wanting to remain in Berlin, Staël countered that she could see no reason why one must translate the English playwright in, of all places, the capital of Prussia.

Once Staël discovered that the real reason for his wanting to remain in Berlin was Sophie Bernhardi, she convinced Henriette Herz to invite the latter to dinner. When Henriette Herz pointed out that she, Staël could not understand German, and Sophie no French, Staël insisted anyway, pointing out that she would in any case be able to “watch how she speaks”
(Retif [or Restif] de la Bretonne, Les contemporaines; ou, Avantures des plus jolies femmes de l’âge présent, 42 vols. in 12 [Leipsick 1780–85], vol. 7 [1780], 170):

Wilhelm was enlisted to stand behind Staël and translate, and when Sophie Bernhardi made a statement critical of the French language, Wilhelm intentionally mistranslated the statement into praise for the melodic elements of French, whereupon Henriette Herz corrected the translation — the other guests at the table similarly having noticed the mistranslation — putting an end to Staël’s request for translations (Henriette Herz: Ihr Leben und ihre Erinnerungen, ed. J. Fürst, 2nd ed. [Berlin 1858], 214–16).

Staël had, it may be pointed out, attended Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures notwithstanding that the lectures were nearly finished, even paying the full entry fee to cover at least to a certain extent the lessons in German he was giving her.

Ultimately Wilhelm did not have that much difficulty accepting her offer to join her entourage, since his lecture series was almost finished in any case, he was not continuing the Shakespeare translation, Johann Friedrich Cotta would not be continuing his Musen-Almanach, and after their divorce in May 1803 he was no longer receiving payments from the funds Caroline had drawn from Auguste’s inheritance (see, e.g., her letters to him on 14 January 1802 [letter 340] and 26 January 1802 [letter 343]).

He was also in considerable debt in Berlin itself, and in February 1802 had already borrowed 600 Reichsthaler from Schelling (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 29 June 1802 [letter 367]).

In fact, at his departure in April 1804, Wilhelm told Berlin friends that he was going only as far as Leipzig with Madame de Staël, when in fact he was trying to deceive creditors, that is, would continue on with her to Coppet. In this situation, Staël offered him an annual salary of 12,000 Francs and a pension for life after her death (Körner, [1930], 79).

The initial leg of the journey between Berlin and Coppet took the party through Leipzig and Naumburg and on to Weimar (map: Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]; illustration: Schauplatz der Natur und der Künste, vol. 8 [Vienna 1782], plate 532):




[1] Here a representative scene much as Wilhelm describes on a 1907 postcard advertising an inn (Gasthof zum Wilden Mann at lower right) with the accompanying landscape:


Wilhelm had been engaged as the tutor to Madame de Staël’s two sons, the elder of whom, Auguste, had accompanied her on her trip to Germany, while the younger, Albert, stayed behind; Albert then traveled to Zürich to meet them as described later in the letter. Staël’s daughter, Albertine, is similarly mentioned later in this letter. Back.

[2] Madame de Staël had travelled with her cousin, Albertine Necker, née Saussure (1766–1841), directly from Zürich to Bern, while Wilhelm and her sons had taken the longer route via Lucerne (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[3] They arrived in Coppet on 19 May 1804 (frontispiece to Léandre Vaillat, Les demeures célèbres: Le Château de Coppet [Paris 1913]):



[4] Benjamin Constant had travelled from Coppet to Weimar to break the news of Madame de Staël’s father’s death to her, which he did on 22 April 1804; she had until then believed her father was merely seriously ill. Back.

[4a] Madame de Staël avec sa fille Albertine (ca. 1805); Collections du Château de Coppet:



[5] Madame de Staël’s entourage seems to have departed Weimar on 2 May 1804. Back.

[6] In general, even at the time the area was known for its picturesque scenery and remote villages and valleys (Ludwig Bechstein, Wanderungen durch Thüringen, Das malerische und romantische Deutschland 4 [Leipzig 1838], plate following p. 180):


This part of Wilhelm’s journey terminates in Würzburg and includes the following stops except Schweinfurt, which Wilhelm mentions in connection with his stay in Würzburg (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[7] See Goethe’s letter to Wilhelm on 1 May 1798 (letter 199c); see also Goethe’s diary entry on 29 March 1799 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:239): “Midday with Rath Schlegel, Chamberlain Mellish also present from Dornburg.” Back.

[8] Wilhelm had made Karl von Hardenberg’s acquaintance in Berlin in September 1803. Back.

[9] On the route from Leipzig to Weimar. Naumburg is located approx. 30 km north of Jena on the way to Leipzig (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[10] On Sunday, 8 May 1804, and, because Wilhelm’s traveling party was coming from the northeast, presumably through the Rennweg Gate, which is located just to the northeast of the Residence Castle and Residence Square; the Schellings’ apartment is on the left, and this gate plays a role later during their stay here (Friedrich Harrach and Leonhard Zertahelly, Plan Der Kreis-Hauptstadt Würzburg [München 1845]; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek):


Here an illustration from 1493 showing the gate at bottom center right (Hartmann Schedel, Chronica. Mit Holzschnitten von Michael Wolgemut und Wilhelm Pleydenwurf. [Nürnberg: Anton Koberger für Sebald Schreyer und Sebastian Kammermaister, 12.VII.1493], Blatt 159verso/160recto):


Here a photo of the Rennweg Gate prior to 1871, when the wall fortifications and the gate itself were finally razed (© Stadt Würzburg, Stadtarchiv; used by permission):



[11] See Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 18 March 1804 (letter 383), note 1, which includes a view of the vineyards surrounding the Marienberg Castle.

Wilhelm, however, and Benjamin Constant later (see below), are more likely referring to the royal Residential Palace inside the town itself, here in a 1720 illustration in Historisches Album der Stadt Würzburg. Zweiunddreissig photographische Ansichten, ed. V. Jos. Stahgel, introd. Franz X. Wegel (Würzburg 1867), illus. 11;


The Schellings’ residence in Würzburg was located near the residence in the triangular structure housing the old university and seminary (Kreishauptstadt Würzburg: Gemessen durch Carl Handwerk im Jahre 1832; Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online):



[12] Both Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel had had varying relationships with Karoline Paulus in Jena; see the supplementary appendix on Karoline Paulus’s reputation. Concerning Wilhelm’s visit at the Pauluses, see also Henriette von Hoven’s letter to Charlotte Schiller on 4 August 1804 (letter 385a). Back.

[13] See the supplementary appendix on the “ladies’ war in Würzburg.” Back.

[14] Cf., e.g., Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 8–17 September 1803 (letter 381), note 3 (map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; illustration: Matthäus Merian, Halle [1653]):




[15] Gottlieb Böttger, Drei Herren in einem Zimmer; Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig GR000785:


See Benjamin Constant’s reaction to both Wilhelm and Schelling (Journal intime de Benjamin Constant et lettres à sa famille et ses amis, ed. D. Melegari [Paris 1895], 32–33):

*** From Werneck [just south of Schweinfurt; see map in note 6 above] to Würzburg, I read a new book by Schlegel whose preface is the height of insolence. He complains not so much about his adversaries as about the importunity of his admirers, whom he treats as officious imbeciles who show off without understanding him. —

After arriving in Würzburg, I visited the castle, a spacious edifice, but in horrible taste. — Visited Paulus, a protestant theologian of the sort I appreciate and respect, working to reject all positive religion and all imposed belief. He is a man with a sophisticated, subtle, active mind moving in an excellent direction. His shortcoming is his lack of energy and his coldness. Also saw Huffland [Hufeland]; same sort of man, less sophisticated and less cold. Sound ideas about the Enlightenment, liberty, and political economy. —

Visited the natural history collection of Father Franck, the fruit of thirty years of research and twelve years of assiduous work and privation of every sort to defray expenses. What a joy to see such equal taste and occupation! Father Franck also breathes serenity, calm, and peacefulness.

*** I have finally seen Schelling! Although I never liked his works, I like his person even less. Never has a man made a more disagreeable impression on me. He is a presumptuous little monsieur, his nose in the air, a rigid gaze, harsh and unsettled, a condescending smile, a dry voice, speaks little, listening with the sort of attentiveness that is more malevolent than accommodating. And finally, through his character, wholly giving the impression of an evil person; and as far as his mind and intellect are concerned, a mix of French self-conceit and German metaphysics. . . .

*** [Again about Wilhelm Schlegel] I notice for the second time that, having devoted himself almost exclusively to a study of the arts and poesy, his system has become something truly personal for him, since when one attacks it, he visibly suffers. While talking about Cervantes, he grew pale, and his eyes filled with tears; the same when he speaks about Italian poesy. This man really has an enormous need for emotions; close one door, and they enter through another. Back.

[16] Illustration (excerpt): anonymous, Frau am Krankenbett (ca. 1771–1800); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. C: 1 oben rechts:


Schweinfurth is located just at 40 km northeast of Würzburg (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; see below concerning Münnerstadt):



[17] It is uncertain from which newspaper or Intelligenzblatt Caroline learned of Wilhelm having entered the service of Madame de Staël; it would in any case have to have been an issue between 19 April (Wilhelm’s departure from Berlin) and 8/9 May 1804 (his visit in Würzburg). The Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, now in Halle, does not mention these events. The Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung mentions Madame de Staël’s departure from Berlin in a report dated 25 April 1804, but does not mention Wilhelm.

See “Miscellen,” Der Freimüthige, oder Ernst und Scherz (1804) 83 (Thursday, 26 April 1804), 332:

Berlin, 24 April

Frau von Staël, caught unawares by the sad news of her father’s death, departed quickly a few days ago. —

Since various newspapers starved for material have considered it important enough to follow this variously discussed woman on her present journey through Germany, a few words about her stay in our town are probably in order. Although she did not stir up much interest, she was nonetheless received quite graciously at court. —

She made it her business, however, to become acquainted with as many of the local scholars as were accommodating or curious enough to surrender to her curiosity; indeed, several who thought they might thereby freshen up their sinking reputations virtually pushed themselves on her daily.

On the whole, she was thought to play the French bel-esprit [“wit”] more in a Swiss fashion. She both dished out and received a whole plethora of ribaldries that were supposed to be and in part genuinely were lively witticisms.

It was not until the issue of 12 June 1804 that Der Freimüthige mentioned that Wilhelm had joined her entourage, and then only satirically (Der Freimüthige oder Ernst und Scherz (1804) 117 (Tuesday, 12 June 1804), 468:


A few days ago, it was pointed out at a social gathering that A. W. Schlegel was now in the service of Frau von Staël with an annual salary of 1400 Thaler, as was reported recently in newspapers. One of those present remarked that he was not at all surprised, and that Frau von Staël would doubtless be able to make good use of Herr Schlegel. — “Frau von Staël, this bright, intelligent woman? Herr Schlegel?” another asked; “and for what, if I may ask?” — “Aye! As a walking, talking lexicon, for example.” — “Indeed, you are quite right,” a third remarked. — “Just too bad that this lexicon has so many — errata!”

See from mid-May, albeit after Wilhelm had already left Würzburg, the “Schreiben aus Ulm, den 13. May,” Augsburgische Ordinari Postzeitung (1804) 118 (Thursday, 17 May 1804): “On 9 May the Baroness Staël von Holstein, Necker’s daughter, passed through here on her journey to Geneva. The famous German poet and writer August Wilhelm Schlegel was in her entourage.”

See also in late July 1804 the Neue Leipziger Literaturzeitung 3 (1804) (July, August, September),”Correspondenz-Nachrichten,” Neues Allgemeines Intelligenzblatt für Literatur und Kunst (1804) 36 (Saturday, 28 July 1804), 577:

Herr Professor A. W. Schlegel has accepted the position of companion to Frau von Staël and of tutor to her children with a salary of 1400 Florins, and is accompanying her to Coppet, whither she has departed from Berlin following her father’s, Herr Necker’s, death. Back.

[18] Caroline had visited Wilhelm in Berlin between 18/19 March and 19 May 1802; the visit, during which Wilhelm and Caroline had decided on a divorce, had been stressful for her.

Wilhelm had, however, last seen Caroline on ca. 24 May 1802 in Leipzig after he had accompanied her and Schelling that far on their way back from Berlin to Jena; Wilhelm himself then continued on to Dresden. Caroline and Schelling departed Leipzig on 24 May 1802 for Jena (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[19] See Dorothea Veit’s letter to Schleiermacher on 11 October 1799 (letter 247c); Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven’s description of her apartment furnishings in his account of his initial period in Würzburg; and Henriette von Hoven’s critical remarks in her letter to Charlotte Schiller on 4 April 1804 (letter 383a).

Concerning Caroline’s apartment arrangement, see esp. her letter Luise Gotter on 4 January 1804 (letter 382), also with note 10 there. One might reasonably expect her furnishings and arrangements to resemble, with allowances for her apartment’s peculiarly elongated floorplan, those in the following illustration (Otto Güntter, Friedrich Schiller: Sein Leben und seine Dichtungen [Leipzig 1925], 116]):


For a list of household items and furnishings Caroline sold at auction just before she left Würzburg for Munich, see her letter to Schelling on 17 May 1806 (letter 415), note 1. Back.

[20] Both busts by Friedrich Tieck (photo of Auguste’s bust by Bent Nielsen; Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe from Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], plate 2, following p. 24):


Wilhelm had not yet seen Auguste’s bust, though he would later have Friedrich Tieck send him a copy to Coppet, where it still resides today.

Caroline presumably arranged the busts similar to those at the left in the illustration below between windows (illustration from “A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole At Strawberry-Hill near Twickenham, Middlesex,” The Works of Horatio Walpole, Earl of Orford, 5 vols. [London 1798], 2:395–516; here: plate following p. 460):


Orange trees could be cultivated in Germany only in hothouse environments and indoors in pots (Johann Andreas Christian Löhr, Erste Lehren und Bilder, oder unterhaltende Verstandesbeschäftigungen für Kinder, auch für solche, welche noch nicht lesen [Vienna 1810], plate 16):


In decorating her salon thus — busts and orange trees — Caroline may have been thinking of her yet anticipated journey to Italy and of Mignon’s famous Lied from Wilhelm Meister, namely, “Know’st thou the land where the lemon tree blows.”

Wilhelm had, however, already seen the portrait of Auguste by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (second illustration: (Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen u Vergnügen für das Jahr 1802; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



Concerning Goethe’s bust (with an illustration), see supplementary appendix 326.1. Back.

[21] See Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380). Back.

[22] Münnerstadt, the nearest postal-carriage station to Bocklet, here on a map showing its relation to Bocklet and Bad Kissingen, and also Schweinfurth mentioned above. Normal postal carriages did not take passengers all the way to Bocklet, 7 km to the west; those wishing to continue on to Bocklet presumably had the opportunity to hire a private carriage or other conveyance (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 18; illustration: the Laurentius Church [at right] in Bocklet where Auguste is buried [1932 postcard]):




[23] Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls (Vienna 1805):



[24] Bernhard Grueber and Henry Winkles, Panorama of the Danube from Ulm to Ratisbon (Ratisbon [Regensburg] 1846), unpaginated:



See Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 8–17 September 1803 (letter 381), note 14. Back.

[25] Concerning the Hubers’ presence in Ulm, see Therese Huber’s letter to Schelling in November 1803 (letter 381d), note 5. Back.

[26] Because work on the cathedral in Ulm had largely ceased in 1543 for various reasons (including lack of money) and did not recommence until 1844, its appearance and tower during Wilhelm’s visit would have been essentially that in the illustration of Matthäus Merian in 1643 (Antike Ansicht von Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, printed by M. Merian [Frankfurt 1643]):


See below concerning Ludwig Ferdinand Huber. Back.

[27] Ludwig Ferdinand Huber had recently become an administrative and senior educational official in the recently created Bavarian province of Swabia.

“Did not speak about iterary matters”: because of past quarrels concerning Athenaeum, Lucinde, and the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. See, in sequence and with cross references, Caroline’s letters to Huber on 22 and 24/27 November 1799 (letters 256, 257); Wilhelm’s letter to Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a); and Huber’s letters to Wilhelm on 9/11 and 16 January 1800 (letters 258d, 258h). Back.

[28] Therese’s daughter Clemence Huber, who was born on 29 April 1804, died only a few weeks later, on 28 May; indeed, that same summer Therese lost yet another daughter, Adele Huber, on 4 August 1804, then Ludwig Ferdinand Huber himself on 24 December 1804 (Rudolph Zacharias Becker, Das Noth- und Hülfs-Büchlein Oder Lehrreiche Freuden- und Trauer-Geschichte Des Dorfes Mildheim, vol. 2, rev. ed. [Gotha 1815], 793):



[29] After the death of Therese’s mother in 1775, Christian Gottlob Heyne eventually sent Therese to reside in a French finishing school in the house of Georg Friedrich Brandes in Hannover from the spring of 1777 till Easter of 1778 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Christian Gottlob Heyne, moreover, was acquainted with Wilhelm’s father, Johann Adolf Schlegel, and was in contact with him when Wilhelm himself was attending Heyne’s lectures in Göttingen as a student (Körner [1930], 1:4).

Therese’s first husband, Georg Forster, had been a professor in Vilnius (Wilna, Vilna); Therese left for Vilnius with him on 7 September 1783 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Der Tischler mit seinen Gesellen, 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; Thomas Kitchin, A new map of the Northern States containing the Kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway [London 1790]):


Here the geography of the Baltic states at the end of the 18th century with the regions of Livonia, Estonia, Courland, Lithuania, and Latvia (Lettia); Lithuania (Litauen) and Vilnius (Vilna) are at the bottom (ibid.):


See also the information in Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s time in Mainz. —

Forster and Therese returned to Göttingen in September 1787, then moved to Mainz the next year, where Caroline visited them before moving to Mainz herself. Wilhelm had matriculated at the university in Göttingen on 3 May 1786 (Körner [1930], 2:1); in fact, from Michaelmas 1788 till Easter 1790 he rented a room in the Heyne’s house at Papendiek 16 in Göttingen (ibid.). Back.

[30] See the possible insinuation in Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 21 November 1792 (letter 188b); see also note 1 there. Back.

[31] See Wilhelm von Humboldt’s diary in Göttingen (Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Albert Leitzmann and Bruno Gebhardt, 17 vols. [Berlin 1903–36], vol. 14 [1903], 43): “She is not pretty . . . Sometimes she is even ugly, in fact very ugly. She has completely inherited her father’s face, squinting with one eye just like her father.” Back.

[32] See Therese Huber’s account of the meeting in Ulm in a letter to her daughter Therese on 10 May 1804 (Ludwig Geiger, Dichter und Frauen. Abhandlungen und Mitteilungen. Neue Sammlung [Berlin 1899], 107–8; dating according to Krisenjahre 3:65):

10 May 1804

I wanted to write you a long letter today, but a visit from Benjamin Constant, who arrived yesterday evening at 9:00 and departed today at 4:00, filled up the hours during which I could have done so. I was delighted to see him again. Madame de Staël was also here, but so profoundly depressed over her father’s, Necker’s, sudden death that she did not want to go out, and Huber, who saw her twice, finds her completely changed.

But just imagine whom they had with them as the gouverneur of her children? Madam Schelling’s previous husband, August Wilhelm Schlegel. You may perhaps recall that he and Huber came into considerable conflict as writers; they respected each other as individuals, but thank God Huber can also demand respect with trust, since poor Schlegel’s civil comportment cannot insist on such. Hence there was something quite nice about our reunion, just as it is always nice when people are able to abstract from personalities.

Schlegel seemed quite moved by the unaffected and concerned interest we showed him. But good heavens! what a sad, ruined creature! The face of a corpse, with sickly movements, and then a whiff of Andromache [one of the strongest opium preparations], and then such desolate tastes as well, though otherwise the man has become quite cultivated, speaks French very well, indeed fluently, is unforced in his manner, and has not a trace of the presumption that makes Schelling so insufferable.

He visited Caroline in Würzburg — as Benjamin informed us, though he spoke neither of her nor of Schelling . . . There is an article on Würzburg in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, doubtless from the venomous quill of Frau Schelling. — See if you can get it, and whether you do not also find her tone of voice in it. The whole world is picked to pieces in it; Schelling alone not mentioned at all. . . .

Therese is referring to the anonymous report “Nachrichten aus Würzburg,” Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1804) 47 (Thursday, 19 April 1804), 374–75, which came not from Caroline, but from Adalbert Friedrich Marcus (text see supplementary appendix 383f.1).

Benjamin Constant recalls this meeting with Therese (Journal intime, 34; representative illustration: “Die gelehrte Frau,” Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1803: Dem Edeln und Schönen der frohen Laune und der Philosophie des Lebens gewidmet [1803], plate 6; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

I am going to see Huber; his wife has considerably more spirit than he. Lengthy anxiety, constrained finances seem to me to have subdued this rambling element in her, the directionless activity and disorderliness that constitutes the misfortune of most women of intellect, and also of those men whom they draw into their vortex.


Madam Huber speaks of my marriage with her daughter, Mademoiselle [Therese] Forster. She is said to be charming, and extremely sweet and bright. But this is not the day for me to speak of marriage, for it is the anniversary of the one I contracted fifteen years ago [on 8 May 1789 with Johanne Wilhelmine Luise (Minna), Baroness von Cramm (1758–1825)] and which I was forced to dissolve after four.

Ludwig Ferdinand, finally, recounts these meetings in a letter to August von Kotzebue from Ulm on 13 May 1804 (H. Meyer and Ernst, Versteigerungskatalog 35 [Berlin 1933], 51):

During these past few days I made the personal acquaintance of . . . A. W. Schlegel, who was traveling through here with Madame de Staël, with whom I was already acquainted, and one of her and my old friends, Benjamin Constant. If this man [i.e., Wilhelm] can yet be helped, that is to say, if it be still possible for him to cast off the pedantic arrogance that has turned him into what he is least suited to be, namely, a genius and a fool, then it would have to be within precisely this alliance . . .

Madame de Staël seemed to be puzzled, and passed that puzzlement along to him, that I spoke to her about my own frank declaration of my aversion to the role he plays in our literature, yet with respect for his learning, his intellect, and his . . . moral character. Back.

[33] Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls (Vienna 1805):



[34] Wilhelm and his traveling companions were now in Switzerland.

The Rhine Waterfall near Schaffhausen is one of the three largest and visually most impressive waterfalls in Europe ([1] Schaffhausen Falls in 1804, precisely when Wilhelm visited, Göttingisches Taschenbuch zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1804; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung; [2] P. Fehr, ca. 1740; [3] Laufen Castle, which is visible on the right bank above the falls in each illustration; G. C. T. Bartley, trans., The Rhine: From its Source to the Sea, rev. 3d. [London 1903], 49; [4] Eduard Duller, Deutschland und das deutsche Volk, 2 vols. [Leipzig 1845], 1:39):






[35] Wilhelm assessment of the two boys proved to be remarkably accurate; the hot-headed Albert was killed in a duel in 1813, and Auguste lived only until 1827. Albert had argued with a Russian soldier over a gambling debt; the Russian essentially severed his head in the duel with a single blow. Wilhelm was present (Jacques Callot, Das Duell [ca. 1630]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JCallot WB 3.14):



[36] Here a map of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee), Küssnach[t], and Lake Zuger (Zugersee) (Carte scolaire de la Suisse. Edition D, ed. Société d’édition de cartes géographiques H. Kümmerly [Bern 1902]; illustration of Lake Lucerne from Jerome John Mercier and Charles Pyne, Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy [London 1871], 11):



See Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia, vol. 8 (1895), 53, s.v. Tell, William:

According to Swiss legends, a celebrated marksman with the bow, living as a hunter at Bürglen in the canton of Uri. He was a member of the conspiracy which was formed against Austria at Grütli Nov. 7, 1307, by Walter Fürst, of Uri, his father-in-law, Werner Stauffacher, of Schwytz, and Arnold von Melchthal, of Unterwalden, and which finally succeeded in freeing the country from the foreign yoke. At this time Gessler, the Austrian bailiff in Kussnacht, raised a cap on a pole in the market-place of Altorf and ordered all passers-by to bow to the cap in token of submission.

Tell refused, and was condemned to death, but pardoned on condition that he should shoot an apple from the head of his son. He ventured the shot and succeeded, but Gessler noticed that he had put two arrows in his quiver, and asked why he had done so; and when Tell answered that if he had killed his son with the one he would have killed the bailiff with the other he was again put in chains and taken on board the bailiff’s boat to be brought to Küssnacht.

While crossing the lake the boat was overtaken by a fearful storm and Tell was unchained in order to steer it, but at a certain point, known as Tell’s Leap, he jumped ashore, lay in ambush in a defile through which Gessler had to pass on his way to Küssnacht, and shot him; which deed became the occasion of a general rising in the cantons. . . .

(Illustration of Tell leaping ashore: frontispiece to vol. 2 of Johann Gottfried Ebel, Schilderung des Gebirgsvolkes der Schweiz, 2 vols. [Leipzig 1798, 1802].)


The best poetic treatment of the Tell saga is that by Schiller in his famous drama Wilhelm Tell.

Schiller’s play had debuted on 17 March 1804 in Weimar. Back.

[37] Here Lake Lucerne in 1780 (anonymous engraving), and Lucerne itself in the nineteenth century, where Wilhelm was staying (John Mercier and Charles Pyne, Mountains and Lakes of Switzerland and Italy [London 1871], 11):




[38] The village and chateau of Coppet in the Canton of Vaud are just northeast of Versoix on the shore of Lake Geneva (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]; second map: Carte des environs du lac de Genève (n.d.); here as “Copet”):



Here the chateau (frontispiece to Josef Körner’s Krisenjahre vol. 1):



[39] Wilhelm and Felix Theodor Bernhardi; for a time Sophie managed to convince Wilhelm that Felix was his child. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott