Letter 416d

416d. Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in Würzburg: Cologne, 30 June 1806 [*]


Cologne, 30 June 1806

How wonderful, my dear, that nothing I imagined because of your long silence is true! Finally, I have your precious letter, and my bad dream is over — I do sense well how from time to time I fall into my old unbelief; how wretched it is, being unable rid oneself of something inborn like that. But now I have taken a solemn oath never again to fret and worry and be vexed even should you not write me for years and days on end, and especially never again to believe that you do not love me.

In the meantime, I could easily have written you at least a half dozen times, but I thought you were no longer in Würzburg and did not know where to write to you, enfin, j’ai été désolée! [1] — My dear soul, how fond I am of you! You little witch, what will you now do to earn so much love? . . .

My health is better than it has been in years, and I am using the same remedies as you, and no others besides, namely, wine, and nothing but wine! [2] A legacy of our late Dr. Best, who did not want to prescribe me anything and instead always simply ordered me to drink a certain quantity of wine. Each day I drink a half measure of red Aar wine, and really am doing tolerably well now; [3] at least my dizziness has passed. Opium has been banned, tea completely excommunicated except sometimes in the morning, but never evenings. In a word, were the Aar wine able to make my teeth grow back, [4] and if at the bottom of every bottle I might always find money for the next bottle, I would have every reason in the world to consider it the very best of medicines.

How dainty we both shall be, my dear Elisabeth, when the next time we see each other we are sitting at a round table, each with her own glass and bottle of wine before her! [4a] But I envy you your little button nose, for when (as will doubtless happen) we start getting couperose noses, then my venerable aquiline nose will cause a veritable scandal, whereas people will hardly notice anything on yours. [5]

We are pleased that you have remained in Würzburg; it is yet another bit of proof that at least for the moment you have neither given nor had any cause for discontent. May it but remain Austrian! [6] Let me tell you, in all, really all of Germany there is no salvation other than under the house of Austria; may it one day again enjoy good fortune! [7] Had the Germans but never renounced their emperor, and had they but, united under a single leader, defied every brazen foreigner! [8]

The rumors of inflation and shortages in Swabia must be exaggerated after all, otherwise you would not be planning to journey there! [9] Let me wish you a pleasant journey, and much happiness, though I would actually have preferred you stayed in Würzburg, since then I might have found the opportunity to come visit you while Friedrich is in Unterzell. [10] . . .

Our own situation here is still the same: uncertain, and our impatience is thus often so great it hurts . . . Have you read Fichte’s new writings? [11] My people here are reading them and telling me (I myself do not read anything new) what diabolical arrogance they contain, and how can someone allow himself to become so Prussianized? . . .

Apropos: Who is the lady in Würzburg who attended Fischer’s lecture course in which Friedrich was reviled so? No one would tell me; but it is allegedly not Frau Martha, but someone else, someone with whom we, too, are allegedly acquainted; [12] has Madame Hufeland perhaps become so presumptuous? And why is she so hostile toward us? [13]


Cologne, 30 June 1806

. . . Now that Schelling has left, and considering that you are remaining and that all of you now again have an upright government, I am really quite sorry that I did not get the position in Würzburg. [14]


[*] Source: Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus, 91–94 (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[1] Fr., “I was despondent.” — Concerning the immediate future of the Paulus family, see Dorothea Veit’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 23 February 1806 (letter 400h), note 1. Back.

[2] Rudolf Unger, Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus, 170, points out that Dorothea’s understanding of medicine in these lines is clearly influenced by the method of John Brown concerning defective or excessive excitation as propagated also by the philosophy of nature at the time (though by this time Schelling had already abandoned the theory proper), with its distinction between sthenic and asthenic illnesses. In this instance, Dr. Best, the family’s physician in Cologne (whom Dorothea mentions in other letters to Karoline Paulus), seems to have altered procedure with respect to the theory, which prescribes not only wine and similar beverages, but especially opium for asthenia. Concerning Dorothea’s earlier assessment of the Brunonian method, see her letter to Schleiermacher on 17 March 1800 (letter 258t). Back.

[3] Unclear reference, presumably to either the wines of the Ahr River valley, a tributary to the Rhine River in the Rhine Palatinate region, or the Aar Valley in Switzerland. See Frederick Charles Husenbeth, A Guide for the Wine Cellar, Or, A Practical Treatise on the Cultivation of the Vine and the Management of the Different Wines Consumed in this Country (London 1834), 17–18:

In the great improvements in the cultivation of the white wines, the growers of the red or black grape have also participated, and an excellent red wine is now made from the Burgundy grape, planted at Asmanshausen on the Rhine, at Ingelheim, near Mains, and near the river Aar. Of these red wines, that grown at Asmanshausen, near Rüdesheim, is very little, if at all, inferior to the best Burgundy, and will keep good in foreign climates much longer than Burgundy wine.

The red Aar wines were still valued in the late nineteenth century for their therapeutic properties. Back.

[4] Concerning Dorothea’s teeth and journey to Leipzig in April/May 1801 to have them replaced, see Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm Schlegel on 5–6 March 1801 (letter 296), note 31, and on 31 May 1801 (letter 319) (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Chirurgiesche Operationen [1789]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.822):


Dorothea similarly mentions the visit in her letter to Schleiermacher on 16 April (letter 308a). See also Friedrich’s letter to Schleiermacher on 18 May 1801 (letter 317a), in which he speaks of her illness and relapse. Back.

[4a] Excerpt from Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Winkopps Leben des Prior Hartungus (1782); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.472:



[5] See J. Krause, Medizinisch praktisches Hülfs- und Hausbuch der im gemeinen Leben am häufigsten vorfallenden Krankheiten, nebst Anleitung zu ihrer Heilart (Frankfurt, Leipzig 1805), 152–53:

On Copper Commerce, or so-called Copper Nose

Ladies and gentlemen inclined to sip wine, liqueurs, strong coffee, punch, etc. to excess, and cooks who keep a vessel of wine concealed in a corner during the afternoon for refreshment, are those whose noses are most likely to be wallpapered with trout speckles.


Is quite simply the following:

Let such a person, to wit, kindly most assiduously refrain from the abuse of coffee and all spirits, and to wash their noses regularly with Goulard’s water [aqua plumbi, lead water, cooling water]. Back.

[6] Würzburg had passed from the Bavarians to Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany and brother of the emperor Franz II of Austria through the Treaty of Pressburg in December 1805. It remained Austrian until 28 June 1814. The Pauluses remained Bavarian subjects, since they left Würzburg for Bamberg in 1807 (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern [Vienna 1805]):



[7] I.e., after the defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz. Otherwise Dorothea’s incipient Catholic sympathies are likely coming to expression here. Back.

[8] Less than two months later, on 6 August 1806, Franz II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, renounced his position as emperor, bringing that empire to an inglorious end. On 14 October 1806, Prussia’s attempt to reject Napoleon ended in complete disaster not only for the Prussian army, but for the Prussian state as well, with the royal couple fleeing Berlin and Napoleon eventually occupying the capital, Berlin (Napoleon enters Berlin; by L. Wolf, in Friedrich Neubauer, Preussens Fall und Erhebung 1806–1815 [Berlin 1907], 105):



[9] The Pauluses, who departed Würzburg in October 1806, spent the winter 1806—7 with friends and family in Schorndorf and Stuttgart in Swabia, where he awaited word from the Bavarian government concerning his future employment, albeit after 1 October 1806 without any further salary payments from Würzburg even though the Pauluses had left their belongings and luggage back in Würzburg. Paulus also suffered the misfortune of breaking his left hand in a fall from a carriage in Würzburg.

He did not receive his appointment in Bamberg as consistory councilor and Protestant school Rath until 3 March 1807, whereupon the family moved to Bamberg on 19 March 1807, with Paulus receiving the same salary as in Würzburg (Reichlin-Meldegg 1:385, 384, 390, 391, 392, 407). Back.

[10] Unterzell on the Main River, the estate of Karl von Hardenberg, Friedrich von Hardenberg’s younger brother; Friedrich stayed there from mid-August till late September 1806, also visiting the Pauluses in Würzburg, whence also Dorothea’s allusion.

Hardenberg and another interested party had purchased the convent Unterzell after secularization in 1803 for 100,500 Gulden. It was a subprioress in the Unterzell convent, Anna Maria Renata Singer, who on 21 June 1749 was the last woman executed as a witch in Germany, in the Marienberg Fortress.

Following this execution, so many of the nuns in the convent were afflicted with “hellish torments” that the bishop of Würzburg ordered they remove to Würzburg in late November 1749, where they remained until the spring of 1750, after the convent had been properly exorcised.

Unterzell, along with its neighboring villages Zell (or Mittelzell) and Oberzell, is located on the Main River just northwest of Würzburg (C. F. Hammer, Charte von dem Fürstenthum Würzburg, nebst dem Fürstenthum Schwarzenberg [Nürnberg 1805]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):


Here Zell (Mittlezell) in the foreground in 1847 and Unterzell in the distance, also on the left bank (Zell am Main [1847], engraving after Fritz Bamberger, from Ludwig Braunfels, Die Mainufer und ihre nächsten Umgebungen [Würzburg 1847], plate following p. 264):


See esp. also Caroline’s letter to Beate Schelling on 17–18 July 1804 (letter 384), with an account of her own visit to Zell. Back.

[11] Dorothea’s reference is to three books Fichte published in 1806, namely:

Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters. Dargestellt von Johann Gottlieb Fichte, in Vorlesungen, gehalten zu Berlin, im Jahre 1804–5 (Berlin 1806);

Ueber das Wesen des Gelehrten, und seine Erscheinungen im Gebiete der Freiheit. In öffentlichen Vorlesungen, gehalten zu Erlangen, im Sommer-Halbjahre 1805 von Johann Gottlieb Fichte (Berlin 1806);

Die Anweisung zum seeligen Leben, oder auch die Religionslehre. Durch Johann Gottlieb Fichte, in Vorlesungen gehalten zu Berlin, im Jahre 1806 (Berlin 1806).

These were the three publications prompting Schelling’s reviews and responses and, ultimately, his public break with Fichte. See Schelling’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 1 August 1806 (letter 417b). Back.

[12] Frau Martha (Schwerdtlein) = Caroline; see Dorothea’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 13 January 1805 (letter 389a), note 10. Back.

[13] The “lady” who attended the lectures of Christian August Fischer in Würzburg — and with whom Dorothea and Friedrich were “allegedly” acquainted — was likely none other than Karoline Paulus herself. See Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer’s letter to Hegel on 19 December 1804 (letter 388e) concerning not only the scandal, but also H. E. G. Paulus’s attendance at those lectures “along with his wife and his entire family.”

Fischer had resided in the apartment on the fourth floor of the Borgias Building in Würzburg directly above the apartment of the Paulus family and next door to the apartment of Karoline Paulus’s brother, Karl Paulus (Neuester Plan der Kreishauptstadt Würzburg, mit nächster Umgebung und Angabe der Stadt Strassenbau-Projecte [n.d.]):



[14] Dorothea and Friedrich seem not to be aware that the Protestant H. E. G. Paulus himself had become a persona non grata in Austrian (Catholic) Würzburg and would not be remaining. Dorothea and Friedrich, on the other hand, converted to Catholicism on 10 April 1808 in Cologne and had already been considering it for some time. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott