Letter 393i

393i. Dorothea Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in Würzburg: Cologne, 13 July 1805 [*]

[Cologne,] 13 July 1805

I did not want to write you again until I had heard something from the minister and was in a position to tell you more about us, but this answer has still not arrived, and I do not know whether this delay should be reckoned among the good or bad omens. [1] — A letter was also sent to Count Thürheim, but it is still too early for him to have answered. [2] I cannot conceal, my dear, that we are quite uneasy about things now, and impatient concerning the success of this venture — May it succeed! . . .

I am so pleased to hear that Madam Stieglitz pleased you, for in our youth we spent a great deal of time together; though our different circumstances separated us later, I always remained fond of her. I am happy about her good fortune, she certainly deserves it. [3] . . .

Although I have, by the way, also begun working on Florentin again, amid my current way of thinking my attitude toward it is in fact more that of a stepmother’s, I am not satisfied with almost anything in it now (apart from the writing style), and now I wish I had gone ahead and finished it back then, then I could now all the more easily write an anti-Florentin; but now I suppose I will have to remain in costume with it, something that will not be easy. [4]

We also had a chance to read the Schellingiade in the Literatur-Zeitung, [5] which comes across as being rather pathetic in both style and content; people are apparently really laying into him now, and the man just keeps getting cruder and more tenacious without the slightest trace of propriety or polish, a true commissary-philosopher! . . .


[postscript from Friedrich:]

. . . [To H. E. G. Paulus] The letter to Count Thürheim went out on 10 July. —

As far as my literary circumstances are concerned, the only thing I said in the letter was that “I am no friend of the fashionable inclination to engage in the kind of squabbling that for some passes as philosophy, something best demonstrated, I think, by the fact that for 5 or 6 years now I have attacked not a single person, neither directly nor indirectly, nor even responded with a single syllable to any of the numerous attacks against me.” [6]

And this is a fact, and to my way of thinking says the most about the matter; nor did I want to adduce anything less than facts, since indefinite assertions can so easily seem hypocritical or feigned. . . .

And you, my dear lady friend [Karoline Paulus], should take time again to write us a proper, long letter, with all sorts of accounts and news, so that we do not become completely old amid all the old things here. There is, — so much foolishness and nonsense there where you live, a truly immeasurable field. And what are they there for but for us to laugh at them together!?

Fr. Schl.


[*] Source: Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus 62–65 (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[1] At issue is Friedrich’s attempt to secure a faculty appointment for himself in Würzburg; see Dorothea’s letters to Karoline Paulus on 28 April 1805 (letter 393a) and 3 June 1805 (letter 393e). Back.

[2] Friedrich had written to Karl Friedrich von Thürheim on 10 July 1805 (Franz Xaver von Wegele, “Ein Bewerbungsgesuch Friedrich Schlegels,” Zeitschrift für Kulturgeschichte [new (4th) series of the Zeitschrift für deutsche Kulturgeschichte] 3 (1896), 465–66:

P[raemissis]. P[raemittendis] [Latin, “passing over things that may reasonably be omitted”]. Among scholars genuinely concerned with the success of their endeavors, the circumstances amid which Electoral Palatinate Bavarian universities are flourishing under the auspices of Your High Ducal Excellency cannot but elicit the fervent wish to work as members of such excellent institutions, since it is only through a successful union and amid such wise patronage that the activities of individuals can come to full fruition.

I venture to express precisely this wish to Your High Ducal Excellency and to put myself forward to you as a professor of philology at the University of Würzburg entrusted to your particular guidance.

My name is not wholly unfamiliar to the scholarly public. Eight and nine years ago I published, as my initial attempts, several works on Greek literature and antiquities that did not go unnoticed by specialists in that field. Later I tried to apply the same principles of historical criticism to the literature of modern languages and the Middle Ages as well. For the past three years, during which I was living primarily in Paris, I have occupied myself almost exclusively with Oriental literature and languages, primarily with the Indic language, a knowledge of which, except in England, is as rare in Europe as it is important for the study of ancient history. I am currently occupied with finishing up a work on precisely this subject and flatter myself that Your Excellency will kindly permit me to present a copy of same to you.

The lecture courses that my previous studies now enable me to offer would include, apart from interpretive lectures on ancient authors and general and specific literary history, also the following: universal history, especially ancient, the history of philosophy, and oriental languages to the extent those on which I have focused (Indic and Persian) are commensurate with the needs and goals of the university or might enhance its reputation.

Should a plan already have been drafted for a philological section in connection with the position of professor of philology, I will, as soon as such is made known to me, conscientiously determine what within my own powers I am in a position to contribute to such.

It is with complete trust in Your High Ducal Excellency’s well-known kindly disposition toward scholars that I have ventured to present straightforwardly this my wish to you, and I have the honor to remain etc.

most humbly devoted
Friedrich Schlegel, Doct. philos.

Cologne on the Rhine
10 July 1805 Back.

[3] Jeannette Stieglitz, née Ephraim, whose husband’s visit to Würzburg Caroline mentions in her letter to Pauline Gotter in August 1805 (letter 395). Jeannette and Dorothea were childhood friends.

Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven also mentions this visit in his Biographie Von ihm selbst geschrieben und wenige Tage vor seinem Tode noch beendiget, ed. Dr. Johann Merkel (Nürnberg, Johann Leonh. Schrag, 1840), 202 (illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Er ging mit uns durchs ganze Zimmer, und sagte uns bey jedem Better, den Nahmen des Kranken, seine Krankheit — auch allerhand Umstände aus ihrem Leben,” “Der Besuch im St. Hiob zu **,” Wandsbecker Bothe von M. Claudius [1783], p. 225):

Not long after [Samuel] Vogel’s visit [from Rostock], the famous British court physician Stieglitz visited Würzburg from Hannover, though his stay was not as lengthy as that of Vogel. That notwithstanding, his one visit to the Julius Hospital sufficed to demonstrate to me what an excellent physician he, too, was. He was quite pleased with the hospital itself, as also, it seemed, with the manner in which I was directing it, for at his departure he told me that I ought never leave Würzburg, since I would never find such a wonderful and useful position anywhere else.



[4] Concerning Dorothea’s inability to produce a continuation of her novel, Florentin. Ein Roman herausgegeben von Friedrich Schlegel, vol. 1 (Lübeck, Leipzig 1801), see Franz Deibel, Dorothea Schlegel als Schrifstellerin im Zusammenhang mit der romantischen Schule, Palaestra XL (Berlin 1905), 68–69:

Although the second part of Florentin was supposed to be finished for the Easter book fair 1801 — it shared the same fate as [Ludwig Tieck’s] Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen [2 vols. (Berlin 1798)] and Lucinde: it was never finished. First it was Dorothea’s unstable health that kept her from continuing it, then the pressure of more urgent literary works that could earn money. The change in her own views that took place over the next few years may also have been less than favorable for continuing a piece whose disposition had in the meantime become increasingly alien to the author herself. Nonetheless, references to a continuation keep surfacing until 1808 (to Friedrich Schlegel, Pentecost 1808; Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:241):

The sorts of books I am able to write should not even be permitted to be written in an age that is as full of mystery, presentiment, and anticipation as our own; by all accounts people cannot really have time to read such things now. This judgment applies most harshly of all to Florentin, and that is why, at this moment, there is virtually nothing that could convince me to work on it again, nor could I even do so now, not even were I utterly committed to it; I do not have the imagination or inventiveness for it now, it is as if all that warmth has simply dispersed.

Schleiermacher admonishes her [10 October 1804; Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:406] to “take Florentin, though once weaned, back to your motherly breast,” and her friend Karoline Paulus urges her as well (Dorothea to Karoline Paulus on 1 December 1805, Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus 74): “And I should be working on Florentin as well? What are all these things you are wanting me to do during this miserable time? Should I perhaps also be commanding an army?” But things never progress past occasional work on it. Back.

[5] “To the Public,” Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 48 (6 May 1805), 417–22 (letter/document 393b). Back.

[6] The remarks Friedrich now claims to have written in the letter do not appear in the version Wegele published in 1896 (see above). Concerning Schelling’s actions on behalf of Friedrich’s application, esp. in light of Dorothea’s and Friedrich’s earlier and subsequent suspicions that Schelling vehemently opposed Friedrich’s appointment, see Schelling’s remarks to Johann Peter Pauls in the autumn of 1805 (Fuhrmans 1:335–36):

Friedrich Schlegel has applied with Count Thürheim for the professorship in classical literature. This matter then came before the university, and I did what I could to draw appropriate attention to his merits. It remains to be seen whether amid the present confusion any new faculty will be appointed. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott