Letter 400f

400f. Friederike Unger to Schelling in Würzburg: Berlin, 8 February 1806 [*]

[Berlin, 8 February 1806]

Esteemed Sir, Most respected Professor!

It is as pleasant as it is flattering for me to find that I still live on in your memory. Although I have thought about writing to you on several occasions previously, a whole series of troubles and worries . . . shifted my focus and activities elsewhere. [1]

Now that you yourself have so cordially provided me with the occasion, you simultaneously relieve me of posing the question whether you might wish and authorize me to initiate a new printing of Bruno. I accept your proposed piece, “The New School of Athens,” if, that is, the conditions be acceptable, viz., are such as I might expect from your Respected Sir. Receiving it too late would . . . present a certain measure of unpleasantness for me, since late March and April is when calendar problems commence for me. [2]

Because I have not yet found anything in my late husband’s literary estate relating to your arrangements with him concerning Bruno, I would like to request information on such from your Esteemed Sir, since just now I have neither the time nor the good health to search through my entire corpus of files.

It is with ardent respect that I send my regards to your spouse; there was a time — ah, and such a wonderful time for me, when she honored me with her letters. [3] During the period when she lived in my proximity, we were often separated by merely a single wall. [4] I thought it importunate, however, to take the initiative, contrary to custom, in seeking out friends first . . .

With admiring respect and friendship I have the honor of being

Your most devoted widowed
F. Unger

Berlin, 8 February 1806


[*] Source: Fuhrmans, 3:303–4. Back.

[1] After Friederike Unger’s husband, Johann Friedrich Unger, died in 1804, she took over leadership of the publishing company, which was in considerable debt and eventually (1809) went bankrupt. Back.

[2] Fuhrmans, 3:304n2, remarks that although Schelling’s letter to Friederike Unger is not extant, he apparently had proposed a new edition of Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge: Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802), to which yet another dialogue, “The New School of Athens,” was to be added.

Bruno was initially conceived as merely the first of several such dialogues, the second being one on “mythology and language,” which was, however, preempted by Philosophie und Religion (Tübingen 1804). Neither a second edition of Bruno nor the anticipated “New School of Athens” was realized at this time, though a new edition of Schelling’s earlier piece Von der Weltseele. Eine Hypothese der höhern Physik zur Erklärung des allgemeinen Organismus (Hamburg 1798) was indeed published, albeit with the original publisher, Friedrich Pertes, rather than Unger.

“Calendar problems” likely refer to deadlines associated with the Easter book fair. Back.

[3] Unfortunately none of this correspondence, which might throw much-needed light on Caroline’s visit to Berlin in the spring of 1802, seems to be extant. Back.

[4] When Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel were contemplating Wilhelm’s visits to Berlin for the spring of 1798 and 1799, the tentative plan in 1798 was for Wilhelm and Caroline to live with the Ungers; see Friedrich’s letters to Caroline in mid-February 1798 (letters 195a, 195b) and esp., concerning dating Caroline’s visits, the editorial note to letter 195a.

Fuhrmans, 3:304–5n4, misunderstands the dating of those letters as indicating that Caroline visited and stayed with the Ungers in Berlin in June 1798, when she was in fact in Dresden. Fuhrmans also misdates Friedrich Unger’s death to 1802.

Here, however, Friederike Unger can only be referring to Caroline’s actual visit to Berlin in the spring of 1802, during which one can likely assume that Caroline did indeed visit her.

During that stay in Berlin, however, Caroline resided (primarily?) at Lindenstrasse 66, whereas the Ungers lived at Jägerstrasse (Iägerstrasse) 43; hence Friederike Unger’s remark unfortunately remains intriguing but obscure (map: D. G. Reymann, Neuester Grundriss von Berlin [1810], house no. 66 on Lindenstrasse [Unter den Linden], and no. 43 on Iägerstrasse; illustration: Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Schalt-Jahr 1804; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




Translation © 2017 Doug Stott