Letter 451b

451b. Dorothea Schlegel to Friedrich Schlegel in Pest: Vienna, 21 November 1809 [*]

Vienna, 21 November 1809

. . . But only imagine: Caroline has died! It quite horrified me when Best told me. I feel very good about the fact that I have long forgiven her, otherwise I could not help but feel uneasy that she had to leave this world without reconciling, and I do now hope she will find forgiveness, just as I myself have forgiven her with all my heart.

She had taken a pleasure trip to Schorndorf with Schelling and his brother, [1] where she suddenly took ill and after only a few days died of the same illness and in the same way as did her daughter, under the hands of Schelling and his brother. [2]

I must no longer object to your plans, such as they are, to take up the quarrel with Schelling, [3] though inwardly I am dreading it, especially when I consider that you will be picking up the thread where it is no longer up to you to let it fall again, namely, with your faith and with the honor of the church. [4] May God give you strength and illuminate you with all the gifts of his Spirit!


[*] Sources: Dorothea Schlegel und deren Söhne 1:381.

Pest, or Pesth, on the eastern shore of the Danube River, was combined with Buda, on the western side, in 1873 to form the city of Budapest. From 1723 Pest had been the seat of the administration of the Kingdom of Hungary. Friedrich was traveling with the Austrian army (Central Europe: The Austrian War 1809, in The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912] [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):


Concerning his status, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 2 May 1809 (letter 441a), note 12. The article “Vermischte Nachrichten aus Wien vom geschlossenen Frieden bis zu Ende des J[ahres] 1809,” Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1810) 97 (Tuesday, 10 April 1810), 775–76, reported the following:

Concerns that the repugnant principles concerning desirable restrictions of freedom of the press might spread that were lately expressed by Herr Friedrich Schlegel in no. 27 of the Oesterreichische Zeitung (several issues of which were published by Hartleben in Pest) seem to have disappeared, and the zeal of Austrian literati seems to have become increasingly vigorous. Back.

[1] See Gottliebin Schelling’s undated letter just after Caroline’s death in early September 1809 to Meta Liebeskind (letter 446), note 7. Although Dorothea may be mistaking Schorndorf for Leonberg as suggested there by Walter E. Ehrhardt, she may also simply have mistaken Schorndorf for Maulbronn. Back.

[2] Dorothea had quickly seized on this version of events after Auguste’s death in July 1800, namely, that Schelling had “meddled” in Auguste’s treatment (see her letter to Schleiermacher on 22 August 1800 [letter 266a]). Karl Schelling had nothing to do with Auguste’s death and was never even on site. See in any case the correspondence from 1800 and 1801 in volume 2 of this edition and esp. the supplementary appendix on the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death. Back.

[3] Schelling had taken exception to one of Friedrich’s recent publications. See Schelling’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 7 August 1809 (letter 442a), note 2. Back.

[4] Both Friedrich and Dorothea had converted to Catholicism back on 16 April 1808, and, as seen above, Friedrich had already acquired a reputation for being a conservative defender of the faith and of the Austrin (Hapsburg) throne. Caroline remarked in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 17 March 1809 (letter 441) that “Friedrich has the temperament to become a heretic hunter.” Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott