KLEIST, Heinrich von (1777-1811). Autograph letter signed ('Heinrich v. Kleist') to Georg Moritz Walther of the Waltherschen Hofbuchhandlung in Dresden, 'Willsche Gasse, Löwen-Apotheke, 4 Treppen hoch', [Dresden], 5 April 1809, 2 pages, 4to, integral address leaf (remnant of seal). Provenance: Stargardt, 23/24 March 2004, lot 195.
THE END OF THE FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN KLEIST AND ADAM MüLLER. Kleist's letter is a furious protest against the actions of Müller in consigning the outstanding subscriptions for their journal, Phöbus, to its new publisher, Walther, for only 136 Thalers: 'Ew Wohlgeboren sehe ich mich genöthigt, zu melden, daß der Contract, in welchem der Hofr. Müller die Forderung der Phöbus-Redaction, in Pausch und Bogen, für 136r an Sie abgetreten hat, gänzlich ohne mein Vorwissen abgeschlossen worden ist'; he is in no doubt that Walther was unaware that he had been kept in ignorance of this transaction, which has destroyed the good relations between him and Müller: 'Inzwischen ist, durch ein so wenig freundschaftliches Verfahren, wozu noch andere Schritte kommen, die nicht hierher gehören, das gute Vernehmen gestört worden, das bisher unter uns obwaltete'. If therefore the publication of Phöbus is to continue, Kleist will be obliged either to withdraw from involvement, or to seek 'einen andern Corredacteur, als den Hof. Müller'.
Phöbus was founded by Müller (1779-1829) and Kleist in January 1808 on the model of Schiller's Die Horen, although a plan to involve Goethe and Schiller in the journal came to nothing. In spite of the journal's bungled business foundations and minute circulation (estimated at 150), it was to see the first publication of a number of Kleist's most important works, including the novella Die Marquise von O. and fragments of his dramas Penthiselea and Der zerbrochene Krug. This lack of success did not diminish Kleist's fury when Müller, who looked after the business aspects of the publication, sold it to Walther, together with its outstanding subscriptions, in exchange for remission of its debts. The present letter effectively marked the end of the journal and of the friendship between Kleist and Müller. Owing to his suicide at the age of 34 only three years later (in a pact with Henriette Vogel), Kleist's letters and manuscripts are rare. Published in Briefe von und an Heinrich von Kleist (1997), no.158.