[SCHLEGEL, August Wilhelm von (1767-1845)]. A collection of five hundred and eight-five autograph letters, most with signatures, addressed to August Wilhelm von Schlegel (mostly at Coppet, a few at Jena, in France and at Berne) from correspondents in Berlin, Munich, Weimar, Cologne, Teplitz, Dresden, Vienna, Paris, Zurich, Rome and other places, August 1801 - April 1812 (many incompletely dated) including:
SCHLEGEL, Friedrich von (1772-1829). 83 autograph letters signed, 385 pages, 8vo, and 2 pages, 4to;
SCHLEGEL, Dorothea von (1763-1839). 18 autograph letters signed, 83 pages, 8vo, and 3 pages, 4to; and other members of the Schlegel family, 68 letters, 118 pages, 8vo, and 92 pages, 4to;
TIECK, Sophie Bernhardi (1775-1833). 58 autograph letters (mostly signed, 'Sophie T', 'S.B.' and 'S.T.') and one poem ('An August Wilhelm Schlegel'), 188 pages, 8vo, and 126 pages, 4to; and 11 poems in the hand of August Wilhelm von Schlegel (probably retained copies, one addressed 'An Sophie B.', two of them given twice), 13 pages, 8vo, and 3 pages, 4to;
TIECK, Christian Friedrich (1776-1851). 54 autograph letters signed, 68 pages, 8vo, and 121 pages, 4to (one letter enclosing a drawing of a memorial in pen, ink and watercolour, and an elevation);
SCHELLING, Friedrich Wilhelm Josef (1775-1854). 15 autograph letters signed, 17 pages, 8vo, and 39 pages, 4to;
FOUQUE, Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte (1773-1843). 6 autograph letters signed and one by his wife, Caroline, 22 pages, 8vo, and 38 pages, 4to;
NUYS-BERTHAU, Elisabeth Wilhelmina ('Minna') van (1770-1835). 20 autograph letters signed, 100 pages, 8vo, and 4 pages, 4to, in a small silk-embroidered portfolio;
RECAMIER, Juliette (1777-1849). 2 autograph letters signed and 3 unsigned, 6 pages, 8vo;
other correspondents including Franois Gautier de Tournes (4 letters), Johann Friedrich Cotta (10), David Ferdinand Koreff (10), Louise Voss (4), Henrietta Mendelssohn (19), Frederike Unger (33), Karl von Hardenburg (6), Eduard Hitzig (3), Heinrich Karl Eichstadt (7), August Böckh (4), together 96 letters, 332 pages, mostly 8vo; other friends and littérateurs (writers, editors, publishers), 97 letters, 284 pages, 8vo, altogether approximately 585 letters, 1600 pages, 8vo, and 440 pages, 4to (a few letters incomplete), address panels, seals.
The collection also includes:
Manuscripts (in unidentified hands) of 15 articles by August Wilhelm Schlegel, in German and in French (mostly published) including a review of Madame de Staël's Corinne, and generally on literary matters; two copies of Schlegel's dissertation, 'Considérations sur la civilisation en général';
an autograph memorandum and 20 letters addressed to Schlegel referring to his lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, Vienna, 1808, together with printed prospectuses (5), admission tickets (4) and a list of participants;
copies of Egidio und Isabella and Flore und Blanscheflur, verse dramas by Sophie Tieck (published);
printed items relating to the establishment of the Bavarian Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1807-1808, and two related letters;
articles from the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung 1791-1804, by August Wilhelm von Schlegel and Caroline Schlegel (his wife until 1803);
three issues of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and 16 related letters and notes; excerpts from the Zeitung fr die elegante Welt, 1802-1803, including articles by Schlegel; verses for the Heidelberger Jahrbcher and related letters;
letters and notes in unidentified hands on literary and philological subjects, 1806-1809 (26 manuscript and 19 printed items);
63 bills ('Comptes payés') addressed to Schlegel at Coppet, 1808-1810, for various purchases including books, stationery and clothing, and 16 bills at Berne, 1811-1812, for lodgings and food.
All the letters, manuscripts and printed items in the collection are arranged in 27 packages of which 24 are numbered (1, 3-9, 11, 13-15, 17-18, 20-22, and 25-31) and 3 unnumbered, the wrappers inscribed in Schlegel's autograph, and contained in two blue-edged white cardboard cartons, approximately 150 x 440 x 290mm, inscribed on each lid 'Papiers à Mr Schlegel Carton A' and 'Carton B', traces of seals.
Provenance. By descent to the present owner.
THE PRE-EMINENT SOURCE FOR THE CRISIS OF THE GERMAN ROMANTIC DEVELOPMENT; an archive central to the study of the circle of August Wilhelm and Karl Friedrich Schlegel for the years 1804-1812.
Before his dramatic departure from Switzerland in May 1812 for his journey with Madame de Staël to Vienna, Russia and Sweden, August Wilhelm Schlegel deposited his private letters and papers in two cartons at Coppet, arranging them in packages according to content, each inscribed, numbered and sealed. The cartons themselves were also sealed and inscribed 'Papiers à Mr Schlegel'. Schlegel was to return several times to Coppet, and in July 1817 accompanied the hearse bearing Madame de Staël's coffin from Paris, for her burial in her parents' mausoleum. In 1818 he moved to Bonn, but although his library was sent on to him, the cartons remained at Coppet. Schlegel mentioned them in a letter of 31 May 1819 to Auguste de Staël, but they were subsequently forgotten. They were rediscovered only in 1929, when Professor Josef Körner was examining other papers in the Coppet archive.
Members of the Schlegel family, originally from Meissen, distinguished themselves intellectually in several generations. August Wilhelm in his youth translated from Dante and Shakespeare. He moved to Jena in 1795 and with his younger brother Friedrich established the Athenäum, one of the most important organs of the new Romantic school. In its six issues, the talents of the two brothers were joined by those of Ludwig Tieck, Novalis, Fichte and the philosopher Schelling. In 1801 Wilhelm's lectures in Berlin established him as a literary historian of importance, and he laid down new principles for comparative studies. His translations from Spanish and Italian were almost as popular as his translations of seventeen of Shakespeare's plays, and when in 1818 he moved to Bonn he became an authority on Sanskrit and oriental languages. Friedrich, the youngest of seven children, was the most relentlessly energetic, devoting himself to philology, history and philosophy. In 1802 he moved to Paris to lecture, then to Cologne and later to Vienna. His departure from Jena initiated the dispersal of the circle which had dictated the development of what was later seen as Early Romanticism (the Jenaer Romantik), and was the geographical counterpart of a growing emotional estrangement from his brother. Together with Dorothea Veit, daughter of Moses Mendelssohn, whom he had married in 1804, he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1808: his vigorous renunciation of his former beliefs was increasingly unsympathetic to Wilhelm and other members of his circle. Both brothers wrote verse, best known in the settings to music by Schubert.
The first meeting between August Wilhelm Schlegel and Madame de Staël took place in Berlin in March 1804, when she wrote to her father 'J'ai rencontré ici un homme qui, en littérature a plus de connaissances et d'ésprit que presque personne à moi connu; c'est Schlegel'. He was persuaded to return to Coppet with her a few weeks later, to instruct Auguste de Staël in German and Greek, and to be her mentor in German literature. For the next thirteen years, apart from intervals of travelling, usually with Madame de Staël or her children, Coppet was to be his home, and members of his circle including his brother and Friedrich Tieck were received there, along with many luminaries of the German-speaking world.
The most important discovery when the present collection was revealed at Coppet was the series of over 100 letters from Friedrich and Dorothea Schlegel, which completes the collection published under the editorship of Oskar Walzel (Berlin, 1890). The series constitutes a vital source for the relationship between the two brothers after their separation, both geographical and emotional, while at the same time providing material essential to our understanding of the development of Romantic thought. Indeed, so much was the early Romantic movement a creation of particular personalities that in these letters biographical study is almost inseparable from the history of ideas. In the crisis induced by the political collapse of Germany during the Napoleonic wars, the beliefs of the two brothers, virtually the founding spirits of the movement, became almost radically opposed, while both underwent an inevitable transition from a narrowly literary and aesthetic approach to a more politicized activity and thought: while Wilhelm remained fundamentally liberal, though more and more pedantically academic, Friedrich's development from the early Romanticism of the Jena years to an increasing mysticism, mingled with political conservatism and nationalism, parallels the broader movement into what was to be known as Hochromantik. What is particularly arresting in the present series of letters, however, is the way in which, although estranged emotionally, and ideologically opposed, the Schlegel brothers retained in their correspondence the interdependence of their intellectual development that had characterized their relationship in the Jena years. In a number of letters, Friedrich comments on or makes suggestions for Wilhelm's philosophical or literary projects: on 16/11/1805 he writes suggesting Wilhelm should undertake a work similar to Madame de Staël's De l'Allemagne, but in the next sentence urging him to turn his attention to poetry - 'Deine jetzige Umgebung Dich reizt das so oft besprochene Experiment einer französischen Darstellung Deutscher Philosphie zu beginnen, kann ich mir recht denken. Nur solltest Du jetzt nicht die Zeit darauf wenden [...] Von dir wnsche ich aber vor allen Dingen Gedichte: dichte etwas tchtiges muß Dein elftes Gebot sein. Die Elegie freut mich schon sehr; ein oder ein paar Gesänge vom Tristan wären mir lieber [...]'. The most striking illustration of the separation of the brothers' epistolary from their personal and ideological relationship is Friedrich's proposal in a letter of 6/11/1807 that the two brothers should start a literary journal together - 'Etwas was auch Recht Noth thäte wäre daß wir zusammen einen Allmanach herausgäben [...] seit Schiller todt ist, fehlt das ganz' - almost as if they were to return unchanged to the years of their collaboration on Das Athenäum. Nowhere in Friedrich Schlegel's letters to his brother, however, does he discuss his conversion to Roman Catholicism.
The rest of the collection casts light on the continued interconnection of the Romantic coterie even after their geographical diffusion, and illustrates the intricate web of their private relationships, notably in offering evidence of August Wilhelm's passionate affair in 1801-4 with Sophie Tieck, sister of the writer Ludwig and the sculptor Friedrich and herself a writer in the Romantic vein. Her early letters to him are preserved with 14 poems and a number of letters by her brother Friedrich Tieck, in a package numbered '15', the wrapper inscribed in August Wilhelm's hand 'Papiers à brûler après ma mort sans ouvrir le paquet Schlegel'.
The philosopher Schelling (married from 1803 to August Wilhelm's former wife, Caroline) writes admiringly in letters of 1807-1808 of a work that Schlegel has had sent to him, 'Im vorigen Jahr erhielt ich durch den Verleger auf Ihr Geheiss ein Exemplar der Elegie: Rom, mir unendlich schätzbar als Beweis Ihres freundlichen Andenkens: der Bewunderung des Werks selbst war ich schon vorher voll [...]'; and generally on literary matters including the Lied der Niebelungen, Herr von Aretin's literary journal and the constitution of the newly founded Munich Academy of Sciences. Several letters of 1809-1810 refer to Friedrich Tieck and his designs for a memorial, and with mounting irritation to the sulptor's financial problems and lack of progress, 'ich frchte auch dieser Sommer vergeht, ohne dass es zu Stande gebracht ist. Tiecks Betragen ist hieran allein Schuld'. In November 1810 he expresses the general sadness that Madame de Staël's 'Lettres sur l'Allemagne' will not be published ('Wir alle, besonders Jacobi, sind hier trostlos, dass wir die 'lettres sur l'Allemagne' wie man versichert, nicht sehen werden'), and in an important letter of 15 May 1811 he provides an analysis of the Romantic crisis, linking the political collapse of Germany with a breakdown in mutual understanding: 'Es fehlt jetzt in Deutschland an jeder Art von Vereinigungspunkt. Sein Sie versichert, wie ich die Sache in der Nähe sehe, wrde gar vieles anders sein, wenn sich nur erst ein solcher wieder bildete. Aber das böse Prinzip, das jetzt in allen Angelegenheiten waltet, läßt es auch dazu nicht kommen und fast nicht zwei Menschen vereint leben, die im eigentlichen Verstand zusammenwirken könnten'.
The numerous letters from members of Schlegel's family other than Friedrich and Dorothea cover a wide range of subjects as well as family news, and include a letter from Wilhelm's brother Moritz discussing the possibility of his emigrating to America with Madame de Staël, and a long letter of advice from his sister Charlotte Ernst on the possibility of his marrying, arguing that he has spent so much time in the company of such interesting women that a quiet life of simple happiness would not suit him, and referring in particular to his close relationship with Madame de Staël: 'Auch bin ich berzeugt daß Du Dich nie völlig frey genug machen wrdest, von Deiner Leidenschaft zur Fr[au] v[on] St[aël] wenn Du es auch selbst glaubtest, wärest Du von ihr entfernt, Du wrdest bald eine schmerzliche Sehnsucht empfinden, und diese wrde in bittren Schmerz bergehen wenn sie unmöglich wäre, die Gegenwart wrde mit dem was sie Dir darbietet verschwinden'.
Dorothea Schlegel encloses with a letter of 19 April 1807 a copy of an announcement in the Jenaische Litteratur Zeitung, in which Wilhelm is publicly requested to pay his account with a bookshop. His extravagant tastes and much-remarked personal vanity are recalled in the collection of bills, from hatters, tailors, and shoemakers, for eau de cologne and toiletries, as well as wines, riding lessons, stationery, bookbinding and books from Jena, Heidelberg and Berlin, among the latter dictionaries, works by Cervantes and Calderon, and by English and Italian authors, and in 1808, perhaps for Madame de Staël's exploration of German literature, by Winckelmann, Werner and Collin.
The collection also illuminates Wilhelm Schlegel's turbulent private life. The early letters of Sophie Tieck, whose husband, August Ferdinand Bernhardi, later head of the Friedrichswerder Gymnasium in Berlin, was a former contributor to the Athenaeum, disclose her unbridled feelings for Schlegel ('Ich habe es selbst nicht geglaubt daß ich so ganz Dir angehöre alle meine Gedanken sind unwilkrlich an Dich gerichtet [...] wen[n] jemand die Thr öffnet so bin ich berzeugt Du mußt hineintreten'). Bernhardi is made the frequent butt of ridicule: Sophie writes in moments when he is out - one letter begins 'Bernhardi ist einen Augenblick ausgegangen und ich eile Dir mein liebster bester Wilhelm noch einige Worte zu schreiben' and ends dramatically 'Ich höre Bernhardi leb wohl'; and in a letter of 23 June , she even goes so far as to enclose a poem by her husband, so that Wilhelm can see what a hopeless poet he is. A retained copy of a letter by Schlegel to Ludwig Tieck makes clear Schlegel's own contempt for the hapless schoolmaster ('ein gemeiner Schurke'). One letter, written on her wedding anniversay, complaining of Schlegel's neglect of her and attempting to bring their relationship to an end, is torn in three, presumably by Schlegel in a fit of anger.
The collection also includes love letters from Minna van Nuys-Bertheau, suggesting an assignation, romantically enclosing a small circlet of dried flowers, and (on 21 May 1808) describing (in English) the silk portfolio that she has embroidered for him. Elsewhere she writes of his lectures in Vienna, and describes the inauguration of the Academy of Sciences in Munich, and generally sends gossip and news.
His other correspondents write of local events and news, family relationships and their friends, and also of publishing matters, and new works and journals.
Most of the letters are published or summarised in Josef Körner's Krisenjahre der Frhromantik: Briefe aus dem Schlegelkreis (Brno, Leipzig, Vienna, 1936-1937). (860)