Letter 392a

392a. Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in Würzburg: Cologne, 24 March 1805 [*]

Cologne, 24 March 1805

. . . That Tieck is apparently suffering from gout does almost make us doubt whether it perhaps really was Ludwig after all. [1] Without this particular conditneion, we would certainly argue that it was not him, no matter what you say; and it is still incomprehensible. Have you really heard nothing about how the philosopher in question intends to come to Cologne during the Easter break? Several young people here claim to have heard as much. That would certainly be amusing enough. [2]

Please figure out some way, my dearest friend, for us to get together; my yearning to be with you is indescribable. Everything is still completely, completely up in the air regarding the school here! Heaven only knows how it will all turn out! Especially since such serious clouds of war are gathering, one should probably not put too much hope in a school being established! [3]

Otherwise life here in this old, remarkable Catholic city Cologne, which is so full of antiquities, would be quite good for Friedrich and for his studies and his activities, and I for my part find my fate, my destiny, and my happiness in Friedrich, and solely in him; if only things would improve for him! Life has likely never seen such an absurd fate as his — how can a person be so helpless and so beloved — so famous and so hated! . . .

[Friedrich’s postscript:]

I would be extremely interested in knowing as reliably as possible whether it really and truly is Ludwig Tieck, who is currently in Munich, or not rather, as I still believe, the sculptor. — and further, if it is that particular real Tieck, whether he is in Munich in order to travel on to Italy, or perhaps even to become an academic with Ritter under Jacobi? [4] Or whether he is there merely for his amusement, perhaps with Burgsdorf; and if he is not travelling with the latter, then it is also not the true Tieck, but a false one. [5] . . .


[*] Source: Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus, 47–48.

This letter had been preceded by two others to the Paulus family concerning the Schlegels’ dire financial circumstances; the first contained an outright plea for assistance, the second news about how such assistance was suddenly no longer needed, and the initial part of the present letter thanks for the assistance Karoline Paulus had nonetheless sent (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[1] See Dorothea’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 13 January 1805 (letter 389a), in which she queries Karoline Paulus about which Tieck is allegedly in Würzburg. Back.

[2] Schelling did not make the alleged journey to Cologne. Back.

[3] Between November 1804 and April 1805 Russia, Austria, England, and Sweden formed the Third Coalition against Napoleon. The ensuing war ended with the Treaty of Pressburg on 26 December 1805 between France and Austria after Austrian defeats at Ulm (25 September–20 October) and Austerlitz (2 December), after which Würzburg again changed hands, prompting yet another reorganization of the university. Friedrich was hoping to attain a more permanent and lucrative position teaching in the secondary school in Cologne. Back.

[4] Johann Wilhelm Ritter had been made a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities at the end of 1804. Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi received an appointment in Munich in the autumn of 1804 and moved there in the summer of 1805, becoming president of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Back.

[5] Ludwig Tieck and his family had been living on the estate of Wilhelm von Burgsdorff in Ziebingen near Frankfurt an der Oder since 1802 (Frauenzimmer Almanach zuym Nutzen u Vergnügen für das Jahr 1797; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


It was with Burgsdorff that Tieck had taken a trip through Bohemia and southern Germany during the summer of 1802 that came to literary expression in Tieck’s novella “Sommerreise,” containing the passage about Auguste (see Caroline’s letter to Auguste on 21 October 1799 [letter 250], note 5).

Since Tieck and Burgsdorff also visited Würzburg on that trip, Friedrich is likely conflating that trip with Ludwig’s journey to Munich with his sister, Sophie Bernhardi, in late 1804 (see Dorothea’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 13 January 1805 [letter 389a], note 17). Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott