Letter 393a

393a. Dorothea Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in Würzburg: Cologne, 28 April 1805 [*]

Cologne, 28 April 1805

Your letter of the 19th arrived yesterday — How wonderful of you to take such an interest in us. Friedrich is quite prepared to take your advice and write to Minister Zentner, though beforehand he would like to request some necessary information from you, since he is utterly unfamiliar with such things and fears doing something, if not improper, then at least clumsy.

So, first of all, what is the complete title and form of address of this Zentner? And then: do the two of you think, or might one fear, should Friedrich indeed take this official step, and they are already irrevocably inclined against him, that they might publicize this step and ridicule it? Is such an offer normal, or might it be viewed as importunate? And finally, since Friedrich is not keen on making such an offer to the minister completely alone and without any support, might Professor Paulus be inclined (should his own circumstances allow) to accompany and support Friedrich’s letter with a reference letter of his own?

So, my dear, please do answer these questions, but do so soon, since if anything is to happen, it must happen soon, before Jacobi is in Munich, who, as we have heard, will soon be traveling there, and you can well imagine that once he is there he will move heaven and earth to make sure Friedrich does not receive an appointment. [1] . . .

Tell me truthfully, my dear Elisabeth, whether the fact that Friedrich is married to me does not greatly harm him in the eyes of the world. [2] Or do people perhaps still believe that we are merely living together, and are not married? And does this opinion of the world do him harm? Tell me what you think, dear, but do be honest. . . .

Do you think perhaps that I might do anything on Friedrich’s behalf in Würzburg myself, personally, or would my own presence there, before anything has been decided, sooner merely draw his enemies’ attention to our real intentions? [3] . . .


[*] Source: Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus, 51–54. Back.

[1] After Friedrich’s earlier literary attacks on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (e.g., his review of Jacobi’s novel Woldemar in 1796; see Caroline’s letter to Johann Diederich Gries on 9 June 1799 [letter 240], note 7) and considering Jacobi’s overall dislike of the Romantic school, Friedrich had every reason to anticipate both personal and scholarly objections from Jacobi. Oddly, or perhaps not, Friedrich’s changed religious proclivities brought him closer to Jacobi in their shared religious irrationalism (and shared opposition to Schelling); the two even corresponded in 1811–13. Back.

[2] Friedrich and Dorothea had married in Paris on 6 April 1804.

Reichlin-Meldegg, 2:314, remarks that Karl Leonhard] Reinhold had compared Karoline Paulus not with Queen Elizabeth in Schiller’s Maria Stuart, but rather with the character of Queen Elisabeth of Valois, wife of Philipp II of Spain in Schiller’s play Don Carlos: Infant von Spanien (Leipzig 1787) (Friedrich Pecht and Arthur von Ramberg, Schiller-Galerie: Charaktere aus Schiller’s Werken [Leipzig 1859], unpaginated illustration):


Karoline Paulus was, in fact, “known in the genteel social circles [of Jena] solely by the name Elisabeth” (one of her given names). Back.

[3] Such adversaries included, certainly in Dorothea’s view, esp. Caroline and Schelling, notwithstanding that, ironically, Schelling had earlier lobbied for Friedrich’s appointment.

In any event, Friedrich did not receive an appointment in Würzburg, and esp. the emergent war prompted by the Third Coalition against Napoleon made his and Dorothea’s already precarious financial situation increasingly unbearable during the remainder of 1805. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott