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The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel

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Roger Paulin

1. Family, Childhood and Youth (1767‑1794)

Texte intégral

Antecedents

  • 1 On the Schlegel family see K. F. von Frank, ‘Schlegel von Gottleben’, Seftenegger Monatsblatt für G (...)
  • 2 [SW, VIII, 221, 263. On AWS’s ancestry see Konrad Seeliger, ‘Johann Elias Schlegel’, Mitteilungen d (...)
  • 3 Briefe von und an August Wilhelm Schlegel, ed. Josef Körner, 2 vols (Zurich, Leipzig, Vienna: Amalt (...)

1August Wilhelm Schlegel was inordinately proud of his ancestry.1 Writing in 1828 to defend himself against allegations of crypto-Catholicism, he could lay claim to a two-hundred-year line of Protestant pastors.2 His niece, Auguste von Buttlar, incurring her uncle’s displeasure for having converted to Catholicism, was similarly reminded in 1827 of those generations of Protestant ministers of word and sacrament, sober in Lutheran black.3

  • 4 Bound in the Schlegel family psalter (Nuremberg, 1525), Bonn, Universitätsbibliothek, S 1640.

2As we shall see, Schlegel invoked his Protestantism only when it suited him, and his ancestor-worship was similarly selective. Since 1813, he had been calling himself ‘von Schlegel’ (full title ‘Schlegel von Gottleben’). He had had an ornate copy made of the letters patent of nobility issued in 1651 to his great-grandfather, ‘Christophorus Schlegel a Gottleben’, adding portraits of three clergymen, ‘Martinus Schlegel’, the said Christoph, and his own father, ‘Johannes Adolphus Schlegel’. It suggested a pedigree of religious orthodoxy and ennoblement in office.4

3Not all of this was strictly true. In one way, his family was even more interesting than Schlegel imagined. For his grandfather Johann Friedrich had married a descendant of the great German (and Protestant) painter, Lukas Cranach. His descendant August Wilhelm Schlegel would later, in 1797, pass unmoved though the Cranach collection in the Dresden gallery: it was not a good year for the appreciation of that kind of Renaissance painting by the Romantic generation.

4Christoph Schlegel had most certainly been a Lutheran clergyman, and he had been ennobled by Emperor Ferdinand III, also king of Hungary. He had been court preacher, Gymnasium professor, doctor of theology, and pastor in Leutschau (today’s Levoča in Slovakia), at that time in the kingdom of Hungary (whence came the ennoblement). The letters patent— in Latin—were signed by the bishop of Nyitra and the archbishop of Esztergom, as well as by several Hungarian grandees, among them a Pálffy and a Batthyány. In 1808, descendants of these grand families were in the audience in Vienna when August Wilhelm Schlegel delivered his Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. The crest of the family arms showed a male figure holding a miner’s hammer: the German word for this tool is ‘Schlegel’.

5The next two generations saw the Schlegels in Saxony, but as jurists. Christoph’s son Johann Elias—the double names start here—was a lawyer in Saxon service. His son held high legal titles (‘Hof-und Justizrat’), becoming ‘Stiftssyndikus’ (senior jurist in the foundation) in Meissen cathedral in the electoral territory of Saxony, and it was with him that the family abandoned its noble title. Titles of nobility were useful in the seventeenth century, where a new noblesse de robe needed to be created. They mattered rather less in the eighteenth, when the middle classes dominated corporate and intellectual life, and towns like Leipzig or Hamburg—not royal residences—supplied so much of the intellectual energy, and the books that went with it. For August Wilhelm’s generation, however, with greater upward mobility, with careers opening up that were hitherto unheard of, an ennoblement had its uses—or the revival of a lapsed title. August Wilhelm and Friedrich von Schlegel were the only members of the family to benefit, and with their deaths, the title also became extinct.

6It was Johann Friedrich who married Rebekka Wilke, the descendant of Cranach. She died at the birth of their thirteenth child. August Wilhelm’s grandfather was not cut out for a legal career, preferring instead the pleasures of his vineyard in Sörnewitz, near Meissen: the pretty little village produces a good crisp white wine still to this day. He spent the time with studies and country pursuits, among beehives. His superiors had less time for such Virgilian idylls and sacked him in 1741. Funds were to be short for his sons, August Wilhelm’s father and his uncles, Johann Elias, Johann Heinrich and Johann August

  • 5 Such as Ernst Behler, Friedrich Schlegel in Selbstzeugnissen und Dokumenten, rowohlts monographien (...)

7Their lives showed no such disorder. There have been those who have seen in Johann Friedrich’s grandson, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, shortened to Friedrich, and his unregulated lifestyle and frenetic bursts of intellectual energy, something of his grandfather’s inheritance.5 True, Friedrich’s life was a kind of fever chart; but outward circumstances also played their part in it. He stands out all the more when compared with the ordered lives of his older brothers.

  • 6 Listed in Seeliger, 149f.
  • 7 Briefe, I, 5f.
  • 8 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, II, 6 (VIa, VIII).
  • 9 Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe [KA], ed. Ernst Behler et al., 30 vols (Paderborn, Munich, Vie (...)

8Of Johann Friedrich’s and Rebekka’s thirteen children,6 we are concerned with three only, at a pinch four, all Saxons born in Meissen, three of them part of German literary history, one (Johann Heinrich) a mere footnote, while the other two (Johann Elias and Johann Adolf) are rather more substantially represented. Their nephews, August Wilhelm and Friedrich, found it convenient to cite them when it suited their purposes. August Wilhelm was from an early age conscious of the family legacy: as a Göttingen student he wrote to Johann Joachim Eschenburg, the earlier Shakespeare translator, with the pious wish that he might live up to the name;7 he kept a piece of paper on which he jotted down the names of the dramatists by the name of Schlegel,8 himself and his brother of course—the authors of those dismal failures, Ion and Alarcos—but also his two uncles Johann Elias and Johann Heinrich. Friedrich Schlegel, in 1796 sidling up to another member of his father’s generation, Christoph Martin Wieland, expressed his pride in a family that had made its contribution to the ‘dawn of German art’ and the ‘first formation of taste in Germany’.9 No matter that it was pure hypocrisy: the young Romantics all abhorred Wieland.

‘From One House Four Such Marvellous Minds’

  • 10 Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, Werke, Sammlung der besten deutschen prosaischen Schriftsteller und (...)
  • 11 Opuscula quae Augustus Guilelmus Schlegelius Latine scripta reliquit, ed. Eduardus Böcking (Lipsiae (...)
  • 12 Carl Justi, Winckelmann und seine Zeitgenossen, 3rd edn, 3 vols (Leipzig: Vogel, 1923), I, 49.

9‘From one house four such marvellous minds’ and ‘paragons of taste and virtue’ was how Christian Fürchtegott Gellert poet, writer of fables and sermons, later a professor in Leipzig, characterised the Schlegel brothers whom he had met at the élite school of St Afra in Meissen or at the University of Leipzig in the 1730s and 1740s.10 In fact, only one (Johann Heinrich) was sent to St Afra, where Gellert—and more famously Lessing— had been pupils. Two (Johann Elias and Johann Adolf) attended the no less renowned Pforta school in Naumburg, alma mater to Klopstock (and to Nietzsche). Much later, when delivering a Latin oration in Bonn, August Wilhelm Schlegel could not resist informing his audience that his own father had been a pupil and then a teacher at the Pforta.11 These schools produced scholars and young gentlemen (in that order) trained in the classics and rhetoric, Euclid and world history and much more besides. One is tempted to paraphrase Carl Justi’s words in his great biography of Winckelmann, that attending these schools had ‘nothing youthful about it except the ability to cope with work, and lots of it’.12

  • 13 JES was born in 1718, not 1719, as is often assumed. For dating I rely on Seeliger, who consulted t (...)
  • 14 See Elizabeth M. Wilkinson, Johann Elias Schlegel: a German Pioneer in Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwel (...)
  • 15 [Edward Young], Conjectures on Original Composition (London: Dodsley, 1759), 12.

10Johann Elias13 was by far the most interesting and the most talented of the three. It was his great misfortune to die young. He had not been well served by embarking as a poet and critic under the tutelage of Johann Christoph Gottsched, the Leipzig pundit of French models of taste, or by being overshadowed by the young Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, his main rival as a writer of tragedies and comedies—and also Gottsched’s nemesis. The German stage had not been receptive to him, forcing him to find employment in Copenhagen until his early death. His critical writings on the limits of imitation and on the formation of a national style have earned him the title of a ‘pioneer in German aesthetics’,14 and that is in good part true. He came closer to his nephew August Wilhelm as a translator (from the French and Danish) and as an adaptor of Greek drama; and closest as the first real German voice to attempt an appreciation of Shakespeare. In his review of Johann Friedrich von Borck’s translation of Julius Caesar (1741), he rose above the conventional debates on merits and faults with a definition of genius as a ‘spirit that grows within itself’ (‘selbstwachsender Geist’), and pointed forward to Edward Young’s notion of an ‘Original’ that ‘grows; it is not made’,15 and through him, to Herder’s organicist thinking.

  • 16 He translated James Thomson’s tragedies Agamemnon, Sophonisba and Coriolanus, and Edward Young’s Th (...)
  • 17 On Johann Heinrich see Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, ed. C. F. Bricka, cont. Poul Engelstoft and Svend (...)
  • 18 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, ed. Johann Heinrich Schlegel, 5 vols (Copenhagen and Leipzig: Mumm; P (...)
  • 19 Jakob Thomson’s Sophonisba ein Trauerspiel aus dem Englischen übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen erläute (...)
  • 20 Cf. Ioannis Henrici Schlegelii observationes criticae et historicae in Cornelium Nepotem […] (Havni (...)
  • 21 J. F. W. Schlegel, Sur la visite de vaisseaux neutres sous convoi […] (Copenhagen: Cohen, 1800), su (...)
  • 22 Joh. Adolf Schlegel’, Friedrich Schlichtegroll, Nekrolog auf das Jahr 1793. Enthaltend Nachrichten (...)

11Johann Heinrich, a close friend of Lessing’s at St Afra, was also a translator from the English;16 he, too, went to Copenhagen, becoming a professor of history and geography at the university and royal librarian and historian.17 To him we owe the edition of Johann Elias’s works (1764‑73)18 that also contains material about the family. There is also his footnote in literary history, a minuscule one perhaps, for the preface to his translation of James Thomson’s Sophonisba (1758)19 was the first attempt to explain to the Germans the rudiments of English blank verse. Thomson’s orderly neo-classical tragedy is a long way from Shakespeare, but the iambic pentameter of German classical drama has an Augustan ring, and August Wilhelm’s translation of Shakespeare is not altogether free of it. Uncle and nephew never met, although their antiquarian interests were similar.20 The two cousins, August Wilhelm Schlegel and Johan Frederik Wilhelm Schlegel must have, as both were studying in Göttingen at the same time before the one became a law professor in Copenhagen, indeed the kind of professor that Schlegel might have become had Madame de Staël not entered his life. Later they found themselves on opposing sides as Denmark sided with Napoleon against Sweden (in 1800 he produced a memorandum on the boarding of neutral vessels, while August Wilhelm was to polemicize against the Continental System and specifically against Danish politics).21 The fourth brother, Johann August, from whom August Wilhelm perhaps took his second name, was the kindly uncle who for a time took in his wayward nephew Friedrich in his country pastorate at Rehburg near Hanover.22

  • 23 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, V, liii-lxiv; also in Johann Adolf Schlegel, Vermischte Gedichte, 2 v (...)
  • 24 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, V, lviii.
  • 25 Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Werke und Briefe. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, ed. Horst Gronemeyer (...)
  • 26 Voltaire, Discours en vers sur l’homme (1734-37).

12We need not dwell too long on the poetic merits of the ten-page elegy that Johann Adolf Schlegel wrote on his brother Johann Elias’s death.23 Its biographical content is of interest, tracing as it does patterns of destitution: emotional (and economic) through the death of his father, then the departure of his university friends, and now the death of his brother. The ‘friends’ catch the eye.24 In the style of eighteenth-century poetry, they are named: Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, Johann Arnold Ebert, Gottlieb Wilhelm Rabener, Nikolaus Dietrich Giseke, Johann Andreas Cramer. They are members of the so-called ‘Bremer Beiträger’ [Bremen Contributors], the group of young writers in Leipzig who were the first to challenge Gottsched’s authority. One name is missing: Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, whose meteoric rise as Germany’s greatest lyric and epic poet of his generation overshadowed all their efforts. They remained poetae minores, versatile in a variety of styles, grave and gay as the occasion demanded: his was the grand style alone and the inspired tone. Their names occur in an altogether different context, Klopstock’s great Alcaic ode, ‘Auf meine Freunde’ [To My Friends] (1749). Here Klopstock is in grand Dionysian flight—at least as the eighteenth century understood it—and turns impeccably respectable friends into a herd of goat-footed, thyrsus-brandishing fauns. Johann Adolf Schlegel comes off more lightly; still we do not know whether he was comfortable with being apostrophised as a priest at the wine-god’s altar.25 But friendship, ‘Seul mouvement de l‘âme où l’excès soit permis’ [the sole emotion where excess is allowed],26 in Voltaire’s formulation, surely permitted it.

  • 27 Klopstock, I, i, 97.
  • 28 Ibid., III, Briefe 1753-58, 24f.
  • 29 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX (21), 5.
  • 30 KA, XXIII, 298.
  • 31 As in Caroline. Briefe aus der Frühromantik. Nach Georg Waitz vermehrt hg. v. Erich Schmidt, 2 vols (...)

13Klopstock hoped—against all hope—to keep his friends assembled round him, as in his other great ode, on the Lake of Zurich (1750), ‘Were you here, we would build tabernacles of friendship, we would live here forever’.27 The reality was different, although Klopstock asked Johann Adolf in 1754 whether he would consider exchanging his position in Zerbst for the pastorate of St Catherine in Hamburg: it would bring him nearer to Copenhagen, where Klopstock was (and Johann Heinrich).28 Johann Adolf remained loyal to his friends and they to him: there are several poems by him addressing them. They stayed together in word and spirit if not in body; they provided important networks. Towards the end of his life Johann Adolf was still in touch with Johann Arnold Ebert, one of ‘the Poet’s Friends’ and now a professor in Brunswick and well-disposed to his son August Wilhelm, just out of university.29 And through Ebert, he knew his influential colleague, the Shakespeare translator Eschenburg. Even later, Klopstock himself, doubtless displeased at having his verse quantities criticised by a young upstart, may have been in some measure mollified in learning that the author was Johann Adolf’s clever son, August Wilhelm. Otherwise, these friends saw little of each other. Their letters tried to relive a lost presence and were passed on from hand to hand as sacred relics. The next generation, Goethe’s, but especially the circle around August Wilhelm’s later mentor, Gottfried August Bürger in Göttingen, outdid each other in an exuberance from which Klopstock’s generation would have recoiled. For the Romantics, too, friendship was an uninhibiting factor, as their letters testify. Not August Wilhelm’s, of course, but it is worth advancing the view that for him friendship was the closest he ever came to real intimacy, real exchange of minds, that the relationships that mattered and lasted were with friends, the Tieck brothers, Ludwig and Friedrich, later, Madame de Staël and her children; his dealings with his brother Friedrich (‘my oldest and most exacting friend’),30 have elements of this. Even his wife Caroline’s form of address to him, ‘mein guter Freund’ [‘my good friend’]31 may tell us something of the nature of their relationship.

Johann Adolf Schlegel

  • 32 On JAS see Schlichtegroll, Nekrolog, and esp. the exhaustive study by Joyce S. Rutledge, Johann Ado (...)
  • 33 As instanced by his poem, ‘Von der Hölle’, Vermischte Gedichte, I, 130-133.

14The Schlegel family reverted to type with Johann Adolf, the clergyman and theologian.32 He held on to the accepted tenets of the Christian faith and its Lutheran doctrinal basis—even accepting eternal damnation33—indeed he would not have found high office without general orthodoxy in such matters. A typical eighteenth-century career unfolded, where church and state, poetry and criticism, the pulpit and the study, held a not always easy balance. But with this generation, as almost everywhere in Europe, an independent career as a writer was almost impossible without private means or patronage—or a prodigious industry that could compromise literary standards. The three greatest representatives of Johann Adolf’s generation are instructive: Klopstock lived off a royal pension; Wieland had to write and write and write, and not all of it was good; as for Lessing, he was burnt up by projects and the fits and starts of a literary career. A generation on, Schiller could not exist without patronage, a university post, and a position at court, and he had to write for all he was worth. If the brothers Schlegel, Friedrich and August Wilhelm, like so many of their Romantic contemporaries, had to turn in later life to the state for their support, it is a measure of how much and how little had changed. In their father’s generation, the state, universities (especially a small group in Protestant territories), the school and the church were distributors of security. Elsewhere, Edward Young and Thomas Gray in England knew this to be true, as did the host of abbés in France.

  • 34 Klopstock, III, Briefe 1753-58, 25.
  • 35 See Rudolf Steinmetz, ‘Die Generalsuperintendenten von Calenberg’, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für (...)

15Johann Adolf knew hard grind and self-discipline, the drudgery of a house tutor, until he was appointed a teacher at his old school, the Pforta in Naumburg. There, he married Johanna Christiane Erdmuthe Hübsch, the daughter of the mathematics master Johann Georg Gotthelf Hübsch. Before becoming ‘Mutter Schlegel’ and the matriarch who bore ten children, she was briefly ‘Muthchen’ in letters from the Klopstock circle.34 In 1754 Johann Adolf accepted a post at the petty ducal residence of Zerbst in Anhalt (a Zerbst princess was to become Catherine the Great), with a church ministry and a professorship of theology and aesthetics at the Gymnasium. Gerlach Adolf von Münchhausen, first ‘Kurator’ of Göttingen university, then George III’s minister of finance in Hanover, heard of Johann Adolf’s powers as a preacher and in 1759 offered him either a pastorate at Göttingen or the Marktkirche in Hanover. He chose Hanover, bringing with him his brother Johann August to nearby Pattensen, then Rehburg. In 1775, he became ‘Superintendent’ and pastor of the Hof-und Stadtkirche, the court and city church in the Hanover New Town, later still adding the title of ‘Generalsuperintendent’ of Hoya (1782) and Calenberg (1787).35

  • 36 As : Neue Sammlung einiger Predigten über wichtige Glaubens-und Sittenlehren, 2 vols (Leipzig : Cru (...)
  • 37 August Wilhelm Iffland, Ueber meine theatralische Laufbahn, ed. Hugo Holstein, Deutsche Litteraturd (...)

16Yet these bare facts need qualifying and extending. Johann Adolf was called to these high ecclesiastical appointments on the strength of his skills as a preacher and as a writer of sermons. One of Hanover’s sons, the great actor-dramatist August Wilhelm Iffland, much later to cross paths with our Schlegel, remembered Johann Adolf’s oratorical powers—he preached from a memorised text, which he later published36—the warmth of his exposition, but also his Saxon dialect and his spare physical frame.37 His sermons follow orthodox teaching and homiletics, but they are not mere rhetorical exercises; the text of the day is central and its direct application to the faithful. August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel certainly picked up some tips for their own kind of secular predication, August Wilhelm’s Shakespeare essay, Friedrich’s ‘sermon’ on mythology, and the many courses of lectures that both brothers gave.

  • 38 Steinmetz, 196.
  • 39 Schlichtegroll, 100.
  • 40 SW, VIII, 221.
  • 41 On JAS’s hymnody see John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology […] (London: Murray, 1892), 1009-1010; (...)

17Two portraits of Johann Adolf represent the different sides of his personality: one, by Johann Gerhard Wilhelm Thielo, also the basis for the image in the family psalter, has him as a Lutheran pastor with preaching bands; the other, by Caroline Rehberg, shows high forehead and ascetic features, suggesting self-discipline, while the large eyes betoken a ready intelligence. A sober and scholarly figure, one who kept aloof where he could from the ‘Connexionen’ in the residence city,38 he retreated where possible to his ‘Official-Garten’ and was able to work impervious to children milling around him.39 But contemporaries also remembered his sense of duty, his application, his love of order, qualities that seem to recur in his second-youngest son, August Wilhelm. He, in 1828 reaffirming his Protestant roots (if not their doctrinal stance) described his father as ‘learned, pious, and a man of worth’.40 Learning and piety certainly characterised his collections of sermons and hymns, to which he devoted himself in later life, as an adjunct to his many pastoral duties. There was also a textbook for confirmands. At least two generations of Hanoverian worshippers would have sung the standard repertoire of German Protestant hymnody, like ‘Ein’ feste Burg’ or ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’, in hymnals edited by Johann Adolf, shorn of much of their original theological content and poetic language and reduced to virtue and morality.41 His sons, the one in his Catholicising phase, the other in his outright conversion to Catholicism, would—like most of their generation—react against this Enlightenment theology.

  • 42 Auf die Geburtstagsfeyer Georg des Dritten […]’, Vermischte Gedichte, II, 345-358.
  • 43 Rutledge, 197-221.

18Above all, he was known as a poet. The principle of versatility, poetic silvae, that characterised so much eighteenth-century poetry, applied in full measure to him: occasional poems (an ode to his temporal overlord, King George III, for instance, declaimed in 1770 ‘by one of my sons’),42 religious (on Christian devotion), didactic, fables, verse contes, and pastoral, fugitive, light-footed verse in the manner of Anacreon or Horace. It was restrained rococo, Phyllis never lifting her skirts indecorously. He was still issuing these poems as the young Goethe began to write in this vein. Then there was his translation of Charles Batteux’s normative Les beaux-arts réduits à un même principe [The Fine Arts Reduced to One and the Same Principle] (1746), that came out in three editions, one as late as 1770, and which, despite his attempts to modify the Frenchman’s rigidity, incurred Herder’s thunderous ire.43 Such texts could no longer hold their own in the years of the ‘Sturm und Drang’. Or his part-translation of Antoine Banier’s La Mythologie et les fables expliquées par l’histoire [Mythology and Fables Explained by History] (1754‑64), that found Lessing’s immediate approval and later Herder’s. One might be permitted the fantasy of imagining the young August Wilhelm absorbing his later knowledge of comparative mythology from these volumes in his father’s study. All this reflects both the contentments of ecclesiastical office and also the wider explorations of the intellect. Herder, later superintendent in Weimar, was to know their tensions; Johann Adolf was able to keep them in check.

Growing Up in Hanover

  • 44 Ludwig Schmidt, ‘Ein Brief August Wilhelm v. Schlegels an Metternich’ [recte Sickingen], Mitteilung (...)
  • 45 Reinhard Oberschelp, Niedersachsen 1760-1820. Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft, Kultur im Land Hannover und (...)

19‘I am a Hanoverian, born a subject of the king of Great Britain, who always showed great respect for my father’.44 Writing thus in 1813 from Stockholm to Count Sickingen, a high Austrian official, Schlegel was making two points. Despite being a ‘cosmopolitan’ in the close company of Madame de Staël, he maintained a sense of loyalty to Hanover, his birthplace, and to the kingdom of Hanover, that had been occupied by foreign forces during the Napoleonic troubles and whose fate as an integral German territory was his present concern. He had of course meanwhile moved on, to the great capitals of Europe, but his family name still remained linked to the administration and polity of the Hanoverian state,45 where his father had had high ecclesiastical office, his brother Moritz similarly, and his brother Karl was a jurist in the church consistory. His late brother Carl, too, had joined a Hanoverian regiment. It reminds us as well that Schlegel’s life is part of a family chronicle: there were significant moments when family concerns overrode all else, when the dutiful and obedient son or the solicitous brother dropped everything and interrupted an otherwise orderly life; or when August Wilhelm and Friedrich almost assumed a common identity of aim and purpose.

  • 46 Hanover, Landeskirchliches Archiv, A 07 Nr. 0892.
  • 47 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (5).

20Schlegel’s childhood was spent within the confines of the residence town of Hanover, where on 5 September, 1767 he was born. Whereas Zerbst was a smallish ducal seat with a huge Schloss, Hanover was different. True: it was no longer the seat of the duke-electors of Brunswick-Lüneburg, for they were now kings of Great Britain and Ireland; but there was still a palace, the Leineschloss, where the viceroy resided, where he received royal visitors progressing through their German territories, such as the sons of King George III, who underwent their military training in Hanover or attended the university at Göttingen. Thus Hanover enjoyed a special status in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: in personal union with one of the great extraterritorial powers, but locally administered according to German conventions. The population was 18,000 (Weimar’s: 8,000); there was a musical culture; there were frequent enough visits from theatre troupes to catch the young Iffland’s imagination. Johann Adolf Schlegel, as a church dignitary (‘Generalsuperintendent’), was in the hierarchy of the Hanoverian administration the ecclesiastical servant of King George III, and it was the same monarch who in 1775 signed the letters patent appointing him to the Court Church46 or who in 1786 ‘assures him of our affection’ when granting him a pension of 200-300 talers.47

  • 48 Ibid., II (5).
  • 49 Ibid., XI, V (B).

21Not that this Hanoverian connection ever made his son August Wilhelm into an anglophile. Perhaps only his later visits to the country and his acquaintance with the solidity of its institutions enabled him in some measure to overcome his prejudices: against, as he saw them, English coldness and superficiality, their inadequate system of education, their commercial mentality, the ‘impurity’ of their language. The list may be extended. But then there was Shakespeare: the ‘mixed’ language would be worth learning for his sake. Also, Madame de Staël was a staunch anglophile; it was she who introduced him to the haute volée in London. When London became the greatest repository of Sanskrit manuscripts outside of India, Schlegel willingly went there and enjoyed being feted. He was the proud recipient of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order48 (the white horse of Hanover is visible among his many other decorations on Hohneck’s portrait). And when in 1832 he was received by the Duke of Sussex, George III’s only studious son,49 they had in common that both had studied at the illustrious University of Göttingen, founded by His Royal Highness’s great-grandfather, King George II.

22Rapid urbanisation and the Second World War mean that there is now but little to recognise of Schlegel’s birthplace, today’s city. The town itself then was dominated by its four main city churches and the elaborate gables of the old town hall. Johann Adolf’s first appointment was to the big city church in Hanover, the Marktkirche, and it was in the pastorate that his younger children were born. This huge brick Gothic church of St George and St James was the tallest of the four spires that the beholder saw when approaching Hanover from outside. It still maintained its medieval character, dominating the market place and its old high-fronted houses.

  • 50 Iffland, vi.
  • 51 Ibid., 6.
  • 52 Briefe, I, 65, II, 25f.
  • 53 Enders, 83.

23The Old Town, with its fine medieval and Renaissance half-timbered fronts, lived in somewhat uneasy union with the ducal residence that Hanover had become when the house of Brunswick-Lüneburg made its seat there in 1636. This event had made it necessary to create a ducal palace, the Leineschloss, and indeed to extend the whole town across to the west of the river Leine. In the eighteenth century this was enclosed within a system of defence walls, beyond which was open country. In this New Town, the Neustadt, was built in 1666‑70 the Neustädter Hof- und Stadtkirche, to which Johann Adolf Schlegel was appointed as pastor and superintendent in 1775. It was the parish church for the court officials and employees, their tradesmen and servants. A baroque building designed by an Italian architect, it was a hall church with galleries, good for carrying the voice. Memorials to court officials, preachers and ‘Generalsuperindenten’ covered the floor; but none could compete with the grave of its most famous parishioner, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The young Iffland, whose father worked in the Hanoverian war chancellery,50 thus had not far to go to hear Johann Adolf Schegel, whose sermons so warmed his heart.51 There were close links with the families of other leading Hanoverian citizenry: Johann Adolf knew Karl August von Hardenberg, the future Prussian chancellor; later August Wilhelm was to use this connection as an entrée.52 Heinrich Christian Boie, one of the Göttingen circle around Bürger, was for a time the secretary to a general in Hanover53 and founded the influential periodical Deutsches Museum. This may well have forged the link with Bürger when August Wilhelm went to Göttingen to study.

Siblings

  • 54 As she writes. SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX (21), 16.

24Thus far, men have been to the fore. Johanna Christiane Erdmuthe Schlegel, ‘Mutter Schlegel’, as she signed herself in letters, was the matriarch of this remarkable family, as ‘Frau Generalsuperintendentin’ part of the ruling administration of the city and aware of the ‘Connexionen’ this afforded.54 Johann Adolf was absorbed by his pastoral duties, latterly, by his religious poetry. The practical concerns he left to his wife. It was she who held things together. The touches of Saxon dialect in her letters bring her speech alive. August Wilhelm, in his turn, did everything to support his widowed mother, whom he saw but rarely in the later years of her life. But in 1808, on his return from the triumph of the Vienna Lectures, despite rumours of war and armies on the move, he made a quick dash across from Weimar to Hanover just to see her.

  • 55 Schlichtegroll, 119.
  • 56 I have only been able to trace records of two sons who predeceased their parents, in Hanover: Georg (...)
  • 57 Karl August Moriz [sic] Schlegel, Auswahl einiger Predigten in Beziehung auf die bisherigen Zeitere (...)
  • 58 Johann Karl Fürchtegott Schlegel, Kirchen- und Reformationsgeschichte von Norddeutschland und den H (...)
  • 59 Johann Karl Fürchtegott Schlegel, Churhannöversches Kirchenrecht, 5 vols (Hanover: Hahn, 1801-06).

25According to Schlichtegroll’s Nekrolog,55 there were ten children, of whom four predeceased their parents: if this is true, there are records only of nine.56 The pattern (for the sons at least) of lawyers, theologians, and writer-academics that applied to Johann Adolf’s generation, seemed to be perpetuated in Moritz the pastor, Karl the jurist, August Wilhelm the academic, but then there was Carl August the soldier—and Friedrich, not trained for anything. The two eldest, born in Zerbst, were Karl August Moritz, known as Moritz, and Johann Karl Fürchtegott, known as Karl (Fürchtegott a tribute to Gellert). Moritz was first a pastor in Bothfeld near Hanover, then superintendent in Göttingen, finally superintendent-general in Harburg. Friedrich Schlegel, the ‘problem child’, found a kind of second father in Moritz. Moritz surprised everyone by producing a volume of sermons to mark the political events leading up to 1814.57 It was his mentally disturbed son Johann August Adolph for whom his uncle August Wilhelm later accepted responsibility in Bonn. His wife Charlotte survived all of the Schlegels of this generation. Karl was a ‘Konsistorialrat’, a jurist in the church administration in Hanover: their family circumstances, especially the letters written by his wife Julie during the Napoleonic occupation of Hanover tell us much of its cost to the civilian population. His history of the church in Hanover, not least of the Reformation, will not have pleased his younger brother Friedrich (August Wilhelm subscribed to a set on finer paper),58 while his compendium of church law in Hanover59 set out the respective spheres of competence of the spiritual and secular authorities (Karl knew from close observation of his father what the responsibilities of a pastor were). Karl’s works are still cited.

  • 60 A brother of his father’s, Johann Karl Schlegel (born 1727), is said to have been an officer of eng (...)
  • 61 Carl Schlegel served in the 14th Regiment, commanded first by Colonel Reinbold, then by Colonel von (...)

26But what of Carl August Schlegel, the brother who embodied— tragically—the link between Hanover and England? This mathematically and technically endowed brother (the grandson of a mathematician on his mother’s side, the nephew of an officer of engineers on his father’s)60 became a lieutenant in a Hanoverian regiment in 1782, while his young brothers were still at school. With it, he travelled to India in the service of the East India Company.61 Behind these bare facts stands a personal link with wider historical and political developments that was to colour August Wilhelm Schlegel’s view of European involvement in India.

27To augment the forces available for their wars against the French and against insurgent Indian rulers, the British in 1781 raised two infantry regiments in Hanover. They consisted of volunteers, who in their turn had to sign up for eight years, seven of these to be spent in India. They went in ships inadequately protected first against cold and then heat, the men packed in like sardines, illness and shipwreck a constant threat during the six months’ journey. Once arrived, they were prey to the extreme climate, pests and wild animals. The pay was good, if one survived, and only one in three did. General Stuart, commanding at Fort St George, immediately used his Hanoverians against the French, against the great Tipu Sultan and against mutinying Indian troops.

  • 62 SW, II, 13; Briefe, I, 6-9; see Rosane Rocher and Ludo Rocher, Founders of Western Indology. August (...)

28Carl Schlegel’s commanding general, realising his talents, sent him on a surveying expedition from Madras into the Carnatic, as far as the mountain region (his cartographic survey is today in Göttingen university library). All was not well with the young Hanoverian lieutenant: a charge of misconduct (later quashed) caused him distress and depression. Like so many Europeans, he was fired by the adventure of India; like so many, he never returned. He fell victim to a tropical disease and died at Madras, aged only twenty-eight. The letter of condolence from his superior officer calls him ‘extremely esteemed, and equally regretted by his brother Officers and friends’, and ‘Lines written on the death of Lieutenant Schlegel’ appeared in the Madras Courier for 21 October 1789.62

  • 63 Oskar Walzel, ‘Neue Quellen zur Geschichte der älteren romantischen Schule’, Zeitschrift für die Ös (...)
  • 64 Friedrich Schlegel, Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (Heidelberg: Mohr u. Zimmer, 1808), x (...)
  • 65 Rocher and Rocher, 30.
  • 66 Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (London, etc.: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), 10.

29Carl had found time to write affectionately to his younger brother Wilhelm, encouraging him in his poetry, rather as Johann Adolf might have, promising him funds out of the bounty that he was never to receive, and, from Fort St George, describing a Brahmin funeral.63 Eleven years later, when the death of his step-daughter Auguste Böhmer plunged him into grief, August Wilhelm extended the mourning process to include his brother, in the elegy ‘Neoptolemus an Diocles’. It would be reductive and simplistic to attribute the two younger brothers’ fascination with India solely to this family link, yet Carl Schlegel found mention in the preface to Friedrich’s Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier [On the language and Wisdom of the Indians] of 1808,64 while August Wilhelm referred to his brother in his first letter to the great Indologist Henry Thomas Colebrooke.65 Schlegel, not surprisingly, hardly ever had a good word to say about the East India Company. Coleridge and Schlegel, otherwise associated through a common way of seeing creative processes in art (those ‘borrowings’ with which Coleridge is taxed) were further linked, in that both lost an older brother, lieutenants in the Company service.66

30Schlegel’s two sisters, Henriette and Charlotte, married two brothers Ernst. Charlotte’s husband Ludwig Emanuel, a secretary in the Dresden court bursary and later second court chamberlain there, moved with the Saxon royal household between its residences in Dresden and Pillnitz. Their daughter was the talented painter Auguste von Buttlar, the niece for whom her uncle Wilhelm did so much in the 1820s. The Ernst household in Dresden was a place of refuge and repose for brothers ever on the move, Friedrich especially. Charlotte was intelligent, and a shrewd judge of character; she knew what drove her brothers, even if they did not. She was level-headed and sensible; she needed to be when one brother (August Wilhelm) married a ‘lady with a past’ (Caroline) or when another (Friedrich) was living in open liaison with a divorcee who happened also to be Jewish (Dorothea).

Childhood and Schooling

  • 67 Pastoris Joh. Adolph Schlegel Söhnlein August Wilhelm. Paten Frau Wilhelmine Sophie Pastor: Schleg (...)
  • 68 Comtesse Jean de Pange née Broglie, Auguste-Guillaume Schlegel et Madame de Staël. D’Après des docu (...)

31August Wilhelm’s birth was recorded in the parish register of the Marktkirche on 5 September, 1767.67 Godparents were his Uncle Johann August’s wife, and a daughter of the mayor of Zerbst. In September, 1813, in the uniform of a Swedish ‘Regeringsråd’, Schlegel found his aged godmother still alive in Zerbst, now blind and arthritic. She reminded him of his nurse’s prophecy that he would travel abroad: the tide of war had swept him back to the place where his father had ministered.68

  • 69 Enders, 169.

32How does one write the childhood of a man about whom the only anecdotes or other sources are scholastic, who seemed almost by parthenogenesis to have become a scholar, to emerge from a chrysalis as a fully-formed savant? Must one not move on swiftly to the Man? Already his position in the family, as the studious and industrious and talented second-youngest son, contrasted with the youngest sibling, Friedrich, the problem child of already elderly parents, handed over for a while, first to his uncle, then to his much older brother Moritz in his country parish.69 August Wilhelm, or Wilhelm, as he was more commonly called, secured a special place in his mother’s affections. He was reliable, orderly, punctual, particularly when after Johann Adolf’s death in 1793 the sons needed to support their mother financially (and Friedrich was constantly in debt).

33We have to begin with education. The latter part of the eighteenth century was dominated by debates about the ‘bud-time of childhood’, as Jean Paul’s treatise Levana (1807) called it. The educational theorists of the day, Johann Bernhard Basedow and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi especially, proceeded directly or indirectly from engagement with Rousseau’s Émile; all reacted in some way against the incarceration of children in former monastic buildings, their early years spent in drudgery, rote learning, hardly seeing the light of day, the miserable childhood suffered by two of Schlegel’s scholarly mentors, one, Johann Joachim Winckelmann by proxy, the other, the great Göttingen classicist Christian Gottlob Heyne, directly.

  • 70 Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, Die Kunst das menschliche Leben zu verlängern, 2 parts (Vienna, Prague  (...)

34Schlegel’s was a privileged childhood, and he would not disappoint that line of pastors and lawmen whose spiritual presence others might find daunting. In that sense he conformed to type: he did not shift radically from the family’s traditions; he was not like his Romantic contemporaries for whom the reformed Gymnasium in Berlin meant social change or social mobility, like Ludwig Tieck or Achim von Arnim; or like those remarkable brothers Humboldt, whose private tutoring extended to its limits the range of their intellectual and physical pursuits. But neither was he presumably a ‘Monstrum eruditionis’: the great eighteenth-century macrobiotic physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland warned his readers in 1797 that their children would become this if closeted with books too early.70

  • 71 August Wilhelm und Friedrich Schlegel’, Zeitgenossen. Biographieen und Charakteristiken, vol. 1 (L (...)
  • 72 Walter Jesinghaus, ‘August Wilhelm von Schlegels Meinungen über die Ursprache’, doctoral thesis Uni (...)
  • 73 Indische Bibliothek, 3 vols (Bonn: Weber, 1820-30), II (1827), 17.
  • 74 Vorlesungen über das akademische Studium, ed. Frank Jolles, Bonner Vorlesungen, 1 (Heidelberg: Stie (...)
  • 75 Ibid., 55; see also his ‘Abriß vom Studium der classischen Philologie’, published by Josef Körner, (...)

35A ‘monstrum’ he was certainly was not, but doubtless a kind of prodigy. His father Johann Adolf taught his own sons (there is no mention of his daughters) until they were ready for the Lyceum. There seems also to have been a tutor.71 From his own translations of Batteux and also of the French children’s writer Marie Leprince de Beaumont, we can extrapolate a kind of directmethod that appealed to the senses as well as to the intellect, that taught social forms of behaviour as well as facts, that tried to bring grammar and language paradigms alive. Not all of his sons may have needed this. When briefly a professor in Jena, then in Berlin and Bonn, August Wilhelm was to express thoughts on language, its origin and acquisition. The effortless assimilation of language by children72—like wet clay ready to receive all impressions, as he was to write much later73—even by imitation, was a sign of unconscious and innate powers at work; in each child were repeated the earliest processes of human language invention. In another context, he criticised Rousseau’s educational theories for their emphasis on sensory connotations and their neglect of moral and religious inculcation under parental guidance. But he did concede Rousseau’s concern for children’s physical welfare.74 He doubtless came closer to personal experience when he recommended the early acquisition of languages, and stressed the need to train the memory from childhood, to profit from the child’s natural aptitude for learning, by teaching him the classical languages:75 there was no royal road to Latin à la Comenius or Basedow, and Latin was the basis of the Gymnasium, the foundation of grammar and rhetoric—and of good style in the vernacular. Schlegel’s crisp, elegant, well-modulated sentences owed much to this, and Latin remained for him the vehicle for much of his scholarly discourse.

  • 76 For what follows see Franz Bertram, Geschichte des Ratsgymnasiums (vormals Lyceum) zu Hannover, Ver (...)

36All this was doubtless reflected in the curriculum of the old Lyceum in Hanover, founded in 1583, the Gymnasium that Schlegel attended, like before him Iffland, like Karl Philipp Moritz, the novelist and aesthetician.76 To reach it, he would have to cross the river Leine and walk into the Old Town, where a somewhat dilapidated half-timbered building stood next to the Marktkirche. It is not clear at what age his father released his sons for further schooling (Friedrich was never sent at all), but they would have experienced the Lyceum essentially as the Latin school that its name suggests. The old curriculum—it is worth listing it in its entirety—had been theology, catechism, Latin, Greek, universal history, Bible history, geography, arithmetic, logic, oratory, classical antiquities, Hebrew, writing and reading. French was added in 1761, English in 1773. In 1774, there were 170 pupils (including Karl Philipp Moritz and Iffland). The new rector, Johann Daniel Schumann, preferred over Herder’s head, complained of too much learning by rote. (It was the same Schumann who had an exchange with Lessing over the tenets of Christianity against perceived threats to the authenticity of revelation.) A directive of 1775 called for more lessons in the mother tongue and more ‘Realien’. These latter were supplied by the abbé Pluche’s Spectacle de la nature, in Johann Georg Sulzer’s version. Schumann taught English privately, and there was a French instructor. His successor, Julius Bernhard Ballenstedt, won the post in 1780 in contention with the schoolman, poet and translator Johann Heinrich Voss, and Karl Philipp Moritz. Competition indeed! The last rector in Schlegel’s time, Christian Friedrich Rühlmann, continued the move from excessive teaching of the classics to more geography and history. In his semi-autobiographical novel Anton Reiser (1785), Karl Philipp Moritz left his undisguised memories of his time under Schumann and his predecessor (1771‑76), the sheer joy of being taught well and being encouraged, but also the miseries inflicted by insensitive pedagogues.

  • 77 Zeitgenossen, 180; Enders, 181f.
  • 78 Cf. Doris Olsen, Linda Bock, Ralf Lubnow, ‘Theaterleidenschaft’, in: ‘Eine Jugend in Niedersachsen (...)
  • 79 Iffland, ix.

37As good Hanoverians, the school, its staff and pupils, celebrated the king’s birthday with poems, music and orations. On one of these occasions, the young Schlegel recited his own history of German literature in hexameters.77 There were also theatrical performances, no doubt fired by the great actors Friedrich Ludwig Schröder and Johann Franz Brockmann visiting Hanover and playing Hamlet in guest roles. Moritz’s Anton Reiser told of the draw of the theatre on the young and excitable mind; Iffland needed no encouragement.78 We learn that schoolboys performed Fresny’s Die Widersprecherin [The Lady Contradicts] in Luise Gottsched’s translation.79 No‑one was bothered that the nine-year-old Schlegel’s father had once been an adversary of Gottsched’s: the boy was given a female role in the performance.

  • 80 Zeitgenossen, 180.

38The boy’s powers of concentration were such that his tutor had trouble rousing him to take exercise.80 Thus one can only hope that there was ample use of the ‘Official-Garten’, or excursions outside the city ramparts and into the open country, perhaps with the children of other officials, or even an expedition to Bothfeld, where his brother Moritz was the pastor. We have no evidence at this stage: only later, when he did walking tours in the Alps with the Staël boys, or took seriously to horse-riding, do we see another, less bookish side to Schlegel.

Göttingen

  • 81 quod DEVS avertat’, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (7).

39For Schlegel, Göttingen would always mean two things: an idea of scholarship, an institution of minds, a notion of method, a school of thought; but also the plain and unadorned university town of the kingdom of Hanover, and its professors. It was set, as German universities then were, at a suitable distance from the royal or ducal residence, to keep student rowdiness at bay: Schlegel’s matriculation diploma of 3 May 1786 adjured him in the king’s name to ‘piety, sobriety, modesty’, to abstain from duelling and debts; should he commit any of these things (‘which heaven forfend‘)81 he was to be relegated in perpetuity. For him, it was to be a place associated with scholarly mentors, one or two of whom welcomed him into their closer circles; but also the place where he first caught sight of a bright and intelligent professor’s daughter, Caroline Michaelis. He was later to marry her.

  • 82 Schlichtegroll, 104; Rutledge, 30.
  • 83 August Wilhelm Schlegel, Hannoveranus, theol.’ Götz von Selle, Die Matrikel der Georg- August-Univ (...)
  • 84 in Göttingen dem Studium der Theologie durch den Reitz des Sprachstudiums entzogen’. Cornelia Böge (...)

40He would have known from his older brothers’ example that Göttingen, like German universities in general, was a place where one received one’s training in law or theology for a later career in administration or in the church. He may specifically have known that Münchhausen, the ‘Kurator’ of the university, had offered his father, Johann Adolf, the choice of either a pastorate at Göttingen or one in Hanover; and he would have shared in the family honour when the university awarded his father an honorary doctorate in 1787.82 It was August Wilhelm’s good fortune that Göttingen was Germany’s premier university: for a Hanoverian subject there was little or no choice. As it was, he was inscribed as a student of theology,83 moving gradually and decisively over into philology and philosophy.84 Later, his ever practical mother wished that he had studied something useful like law, but by then it was too late.

  • 85 Luigi Marino, Praeceptores Germaniae. Göttingen 1770-1820, Göttinger Universitätsschriften, A, 10 ( (...)
  • 86 Lettres inédites de Mme. de Staël, ed. Paul Usteri and Eugène Ritter (Paris: Hachette, 1903), 261.

41And yet this Göttingen had a double aspect. It was a small town (8,600), its numbers swollen by 850 students. If its professors were guaranteed greater freedom of opinion in teaching than elsewhere, there was also a care for public morals.85 The ‘Kurator’ of the kingdom of Hanover was also the ‘Prorektor’ of the university. It was not good when professors (like Gottfried August Bürger) involved themselves in marital scandal; or when professors’ daughters were wittingly or unwittingly caught up in revolution (like Therese Forster, née Heyne, or Caroline Böhmer, née Michaelis). But that was only one side. Göttingen had Germany’s largest university library, with the great classicist Christian Gottlob Heyne as its director. It had some international flair, with its contingents of English, Russian or French students, British royal princes among them: in 1813, Prince Adolphus, duke of Cambridge told Madame de Staël that he had known Schlegel in Göttingen and had formed a high opinion of him.86 It was home to Germany’s premier scholarly review, the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen, to which the young Schlegel was to contribute. And there was the ‘Göttingen school’, a branch of the international community of savants, the republic of letters; institutionalised, it is true, but linked by correspondence and contact with its peers throughout Europe. There had of course been German scholars who were independent of the university, Winckelmann or Lessing or Herder among them, but they formed part of this wider confraternity nevertheless.

  • 87 Antony Grafton, What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge U (...)
  • 88 Marino, 261; Horst Walter Blanke, Historiographiegeschichte als Historie, Fundamenta Historica, 3 ( (...)
  • 89 Opuscula, 397-399.

42Put at its simplest, the ‘Göttingen School’ stood for history.87 That did not merely mean those lectures on ‘Historische Enzyklopädie’ that the Kurator Münchhausen had made compulsory back in 1756 and that the historian Johann Christoph Gatterer would have been delivering in August Wilhelm’s time.88 It had to do rather with a general insight that all academic disciplines, whether law or politics or geography or classical philology, grew out of an awareness of human origins and development; that none was an end in itself but conformed to general patterns of knowledge about mankind. Thus all forms of historical knowledge were intrinsically of worth, whether Gatterer’s or August Ludwig von Schlözer’s great systemisations of the historical method (or the details, the historical documents and relics, the archaeological remains, works of art, in short, any testimony of human activity). Two of Göttingen’s greatest humanities scholars, Gatterer and Heyne, shared this largeness of view, as did Johann David Michaelis (Schlegel’s future father-in-law) or Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, both propounders of historical biblical criticism, even the ‘German Buffon’, the great comparative anatomist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, with his ‘vital energy’, whose work on fossils and crania Schlegel was later to cite (and whose laudatio he was to write in Latin for the university in Bonn).89

  • 90 Grafton, 190f.
  • 91 Marino, 269-273.

43Thus the Seminarium Philologicum that Schlegel joined, Johann Matthias Gesner’s creation and now Heyne’s inheritance,90 was not merely a place of textual study (it was certainly that); it was also a workshop of historical method, historical fact, historical commentary; the creative use of the old antiquarian sources—which of course one had to know91—but expanding them in all directions, giving them system, understanding their relationships and rapports. Winckelmann, free of the academy’s restraints, had had no other aim when he subjected classical archaeology to factors like climate and moeurs and historical contingency. Mythology, too, would be of interest to the classical scholar, not only for learned commentary, but for its opening up of ‘primitive’, ‘ancient’ cultures.

  • 92 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (8).

44It was Göttingen that made Schlegel a scholar and a historian (Gatterer himself signed the pass that admitted him to the Historical Institute of Göttingen and permitted him use of maps, inscriptions etc.).92 It also made him a critic. This involved sheer expertise, be it linguistic, textual, archaeological, as those later formidable reviews of Winckelmann, Grimm and Niebuhr testify (and which some waspish comments in the earliest reviews from his student years already demonstrated), but also the requisites of good style. The smooth, elegant prose, with just the right touch of emotion, that carried along his Nibelungenlied lecture in Berlin is written by the same man who laboriously collated antiquarian notes and sources on the identical epic.

  • 93 Bögel (2012), 179.
  • 94 Briefe, I, 10.
  • 95 Ibid., 3f.
  • 96 Achim Hölter,’August Wilhelm Schlegels Göttinger Mentoren’, in: York-Gothart Mix and Jochen Strobel (...)
  • 97 Paul Robinson Sweet, Wilhelm von Humboldt: A Biography, 2 vols (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1979-80), (...)

45He was, as his ‘Zeitrechnung’ (a rough chronological guide up to 1812) records,93 eighteen and a half when he became a student at the place that seemed so promising for his talents. With little evidence of anything but a studious boyhood and youth, it comes as a relief to read in letters (a little later) of a walking tour in the Harz (including the ascent of the Brocken), or of riding part of the way home when accompanying a student friend.94 His first letter from Göttingen, to his brother Karl,95 was a mixture of nature observation, conventional with ‘fresh’ and ‘green’ and ‘prospect’ (perhaps it would be read to his father); a castle ruin evoked echoes of Goethe’s Götz von Berlichingen, and he had been reading Homer and Ossian (in that order), regretting the passing of the heroic age. Just the sort of thing that this Romantic generation, force-fed on books, was prone to writing. But he had taken his lodgings in the town, where he had a good view of the gardens and the hills beyond; he had even heard a nightingale. Nature was however never enough: he looked forward to the discipline of new rules of conduct, which his brother the jurist will have noted with satisfaction. He had presented the letter of recommendation that his father had written to the great Heyne, but even the son of Johann Adolf Schlegel must earn his place in the Seminarium Philologicum and serve a trial period of six months. He certainly proved himself worthy. From 1788 until his departure in the summer of 1790, he actually lived in Heyne’s house,96 something not uncommon in the eighteenth century, and became a kind of personal assistant. The Heyne and Michaelis houses in the Mühlenpforte (today’s Prinzenstrasse) stood in close proximity: the daughters of both families, Therese Heyne and Caroline Michaelis, were extremely well read and knew all the eligible (and ineligible) young men who passed through their fathers’ houses. In Heyne’s seminar Schlegel met Wilhelm von Humboldt, born in the same year, later a Sanskritist and much else besides, but also a strict linguistician in the way Schlegel never was to be. His circumstances were different from Schlegel’s: he was wealthy, noble, not dependent on patronage or office (although he would accept high positions within the Prussian monarchy). Privately educated, he was for the first time free of the tutor who shadowed him.97 He moved in and out of the Heyne household as a matter of right; he consorted with British royal princes and nobles; he knew women and was sexually experienced. From Göttingen, he would embark on a Grand Tour that took in Paris and Switzerland. He and Heyne’s other daughter Marianne found Schlegel rather dull. There is no record of Schlegel having met Alexander von Humboldt, the other near-contemporary, whom he was to single out for praise and admiration and whose explorations were a model for his later studies on the origins of humanity.

  • 98 Debetur autem ille studio Aug. Guil. Schlegel, Hannoverani, ad praeclarum laudem exquisitioris doc (...)
  • 99 Schlichtegroll, 83; Enders, 6.
  • 100 Indische Bibliothek, II, 5f.

46By contrast, Schlegel found himself with several others helping Heyne to index his great Virgil edition of 1788‑89: Heyne praised him to the skies in his preface,98 for what was essentially learned hackwork (Johann Adolf had also known such drudgery with an index to Bayle’s Dictionnaire),99 but he could learn how editions are made and how they in their turn depend on other editions. He had had to sort out the incomplete work of two predecessors, and there had been inconsistencies to surmount. As late as 1827, defending such indices for Sanskrit texts, he pleaded indulgence for the young ‘accessory of learning’ [‘Handlanger der Gelehrsamkeit’].100

  • 101 Selle, I, 321.
  • 102 H. Scholte assumes that it is he. ‘August Wilhelm Schlegel in Amsterdam’, Jaarboek van het Genootsc (...)
  • 103 Briefe, II, 3f.
  • 104 Ibid., I, 625-627.
  • 105 ‘jur., ex ac. Oxford.’ 1786. Selle, I, 295.
  • 106 Broglie came in 1788 from Paris to Göttingen. Selle, I, 309.
  • 107 As: An Historical Development of the Present Constitution of the Germanic Empire, 3 vols (London: P (...)

47Towards the end of his studies, from Easter 1790, Schlegel became tutor to a fifteen-year-old Englishman named George Thomas Smith.101 It had been arranged through ‘Connexionen’, this time with another prominent Hanoverian, Johann Georg Zimmermann, personal physician to King George III and author of the much-read On Solitude. All had not gone well. In a letter to a Mr Hutton (whether the famous geologist James Hutton is not clear),102 Zimmermann explained why. Young Smith had come to Göttingen to study Persian. Heyne had recommended Schlegel as a tutor, but Smith had given ‘M. Schlegel’ nothing but trouble.103 An undated and unsigned letter, in halting English, ‘You will excuse, I hope, my troubling you’, was Schlegel’s account to Mrs Smith of these burdensome matters.104 Zimmermann knew Schlegel to be ‘as virtuous as he is reasonable and well- bred’ and hinted that he would be happy to add to his already considerable knowledge by coming to England. Mr Hutton did not take the hint. Schlegel was tutor to two further young gentlemen, the one English, the other French, and seems to have tutored them in their own languages, Josiah Dornford, lawyer and translator,105 and Count Ferdinand de Broglie, the son of a distinguished French general and diplomat, from a junior branch of the family Schlegel would know through Madame de Staël, and a soldier under Louis XVI.106 Dornford knew German sufficiently well to translate into English the huge work on the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire by the Göttingen jurist Johann Stephan Pütter.107

48Clearly, however, Schlegel was profiting from Heyne’s classical seminar and the methods being practised there. In June 1787, he was runner-up to the prize-winner in the competition set by the Philosophical Society in Göttingen, with the dissertation De geographia Homerica commentatio.

Fig. 1 August Wilhelm Schlegel, De geographia Homerica (Hanover, 1788). Title page.

Fig. 1 August Wilhelm Schlegel, De geographia Homerica (Hanover, 1788). Title page.

© and by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, CC BY-NC 4.0

  • 108 Full title: Augusti Guilelmi Schlegel, Hannoverani, seminarii philologici sodalis, De geographia Ho (...)
  • 109 Opuscula, 3.

49This duly came out in a small duodecimo volume of 198 pages with the publisher Schmid in Hanover in 1788, his first substantial independent publication.108 One should not approach this treatise with too high expectations: it is essentially a listing of the ships in Iliad Book Two, their putative origins, and of the peoples and places mentioned in the Odyssey. There is heavy reliance on Strabo as an external source. But one notes in the preface the name of ‘vir illustris Gatterer’,109 acknowledging his work on Herodotus and Thucydides and the new standards of historical enquiry set in it. The names of the Homeric scholars Robert Wood and Thomas Blackwell show that the young scholar was using the resources of Europe’s finest classical seminar; both were noted for their historical and geographical approach to Homer. What strikes us is his early interest in the origins and movements of peoples, their overlaps and admixtures. Who were the Pelasgians or the Scythians? What was the status in the Mediterranean of the Phoenicians and Egyptians and Libyans? What cultures converged on Sicily; which peoples sailed beyond the Pillars of Hercules out into ‘Oceanus’? Later, in a much wider context of the origins of mankind’s civilisation, languages and religion, Schlegel came back to the basic questions which his early dissertation had posed: those Pelasgians are there almost at the end of his Bonn lectures on general world history (1821), and the same issues were raised in his unpublished review of Alexander von Humboldt’s Vues des cordillères. (1817). When in 1797 he was supplicating for a doctorate honoris causa from Jena university and for the right to lecture there, he cited De geographia Homerica in support of his application. As well he might.

Gottfried August Bürger: ‘Young Eagle’

50With Gottfried August Bürger, whose acquaintance he seems to have made soon after his arrival in Göttingen, Schlegel entered a world where the spheres of the academy and poetry merged in personal union. Bürger was the poet of the German Sturm und Drang, or more accurately the German Sturm und Drang without Goethe. Bürger, and the poets of the Göttingen Musenalmanach of the 1770s—Ludwig Heinrich Hölty, Johann Heinrich Voss, Friedrich Leopold von Stolberg, and others—had been less inventive than Goethe and represented a kind of ‘middle tone’ in German poetry. Bürger had followed Thomas Percy—and Herder—in bringing both the form and tone of folk poetry into the stream of the German lyric; Hölty and Voss had seized on Klopstock’s formal experiments with Greek and Latin ode stanzas and had made them into a vehicle for the poetry of sentiment and friendship. Goethe had advanced, they rather less, although Voss was to be a highly innovative translator of Homer to whom Goethe in the 1790s was much indebted. Bürger the folk balladeer had not changed greatly, but he had experimented widely: with the Petrarchan sonnet, with a translation of the Iliad (in iambic verse), with a prose version of Macbeth. A classical scholar and popular philosopher in his own right, he had secured the right to teach in Göttingen. There was much here that was congenial to the young Schlegel. It was the other side of Göttingen, the place where poetry was forged and published, in a town where otherwise learning dominated. The attractions of poetry and learning had kept Bürger in Göttingen, where Voss, Stolberg and the others had moved on, as indeed Schlegel in his turn was to do.

  • 110 Göttinger Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen 109 (1789), 1089-1092 (not in SW).

51This was but one side of Bürger. The other side was unfortunate—or unedifying—depending on how one looked at it. His life seemed to be one set of contradictions. Though a trained jurist, Bürger was saddled with debt; a Petrarchan lover in his own poetry, he lived—in small-town Göttingen— in a ménage à trois (with sisters, both of whom died in childbirth) and then contracted a marriage, which ended in disaster. Everyone knew about these irregularities; gossipy letters between friends made sure of that. Heyne did what he could on the university front, and it was not much. Help from outside was not forthcoming. Goethe showed the stiff, glacial ministerial aspect that he adopted when it suited him: there were to be no more lame-duck Sturm und Drang poets in Weimar. What then came was even worse. In 1791 Schiller, unprompted by Goethe, for the period of their close association had not yet begun, took upon himself to review the revised edition of Bürger’s poems brought out by Dieterich in Göttingen in 1789. It so happens that the young August Wilhelm Schlegel had done a brief unsigned notice of the same edition in the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen in the year of its publication.110

52Much has been written about Schiller’s devastating review of Bürger. It may be that Bürger’s poetry reminded him uncomfortably of a period in his own development, but that is surely only one factor. Comparing it with another famous review of another poète maudit, Samuel Johnson’s Life of Richard Savage, one might say that human compassion was in short supply in Schiller’s Jena (or in nearby Weimar). While Johnson was not making a case for Savage’s poetry, he was pleading for a sympathetic understanding of the man. The later reactions by the English Romantics to the ‘marvellous boy’ Chatterton would not differ in this respect. Schiller duly reviewed the poetry, but he also introduced the fatal juxtaposition of ‘sittlich’ and ‘aesthetisch’, the ‘moral’ and the ‘aesthetic’. Not that he suggested for one moment that Bürger’s poetry was, by virtue of being its author’s own expression, morally compromised; but readers—and that is all readers— would have known the truth about Bürger’s private catastrophes. The word, once spoken, the association once hinted at, was enough.

  • 111 A succinct account of their relationship in: Friedrich Schiller-August Wilhelm Schlegel. Der Briefw (...)

53As a masterly demolition, Schiller’s review shows that the fine art of trashing literary reputations, so expertly exemplified by Lessing’s stiletto- work on Gottsched in 1759, was not dead. It takes its place among the line that would lead eventually to Heine’s assassination of Platen (and of Schlegel himself). For Schiller’s readers of 1791, there was the common, if tacit, understanding that a tribune of the people’s sentiments [‘Wortführer der Volksgefühle’] should also prove worthy of that office. Schlegel noted this life-and-works definition. It made him wary of Schiller, but also of the hagiography practised in his own day: Lessing panegyrized as a latter-day Elijah, Winckelmann deified by Goethe, or Novalis sanctified by Ludwig Tieck. His own answer to Schiller would have to wait until he had won his first spurs as a critic, but even then he refused to eulogise Bürger. As yet, it was but an early encounter in the uneasy relationship with Schiller that was to extend beyond the great dramatist’s death.111

  • 112 Briefe von und an Gottfried August Bürger. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte seiner Zeit. Aus dem (...)
  • 113 Ibid., 268.

54In his review, Schiller mentioned Schlegel as one of Bürger’s friends and a ‘fellow devotee of the Pythian oracle’. It was a reference to the sonnet ‘An August Wilhelm Schlegel’, proclaiming to the world that Schlegel was Bürger’s ‘disciple’. Such vocabulary was typical of the Göttingen fraternity of the 1770s; its use in 1789 was a sign that some brothers had not quite grown up. ‘My beloved son in whom I am well pleased’ was another appellation with which Bürger invested Schlegel;112 changing mythologies, Schlegel became ‘junger Aar’ (young eagle).113 This was hardly Schlegel’s style, then or later. Leaving aside Bürger’s extravagant imagery, he did learn all that could be learned about the craft of the Petrarchan sonnet. All this indicated that Schlegel, in a relatively short space of time since his arrival in Göttingen, had found his way into the literary world with some ease and alacrity. Nor would this surprise one in Johann Adolf’s son and the pupil of a leading Latin school, a young man who, it seemed, had already read everything.

  • 114 Ibid., IV, 102.

55In addition to indexing Virgil and investigating Homeric geography, this young man, hardly more than twenty years old, had added poetry and criticism to his list of attainments. He had Bürger’s active encouragement for all this. There is no documentary evidence, but we may safely assume that it was Bürger’s influence that induced him to pick up Italian along the way, not just from any source, but from Dante himself. Then Bürger, whose English was excellent, saw in this student a likely collaborator in a translation of Shakespeare. Entering Bürger’s world involved indulging in the occasionally forced jokiness and infantilism of their discourse (‘Ew. Poetisirlichkeit’ [Your Poetedness]) and the like.114 More importantly, it meant accepting the older poet’s willingly proffered hand, first of all on his terms, then—if the ‘young eagle’ image is not too far-fetched—taking to his own wings.

  • 115 York-Gothart Mix, Die deutschen Musenalmanache des 18. Jahrhunderts (Munich: Beck, 1987), 52.

56Bürger, whatever his marital and monetary disarray, was still the editor of the influential Göttingen Musenalmanach, and had been since 1777.115 He had had trouble with his publisher Dieterich over the monetary side, but he alone had the running of the publication and secured its contributors. We need to note the term Musenalmanach. Under its various guises—and these can be Taschenbuch, Taschenkalender, Blumenlese—it was essentially an anthology of what was best and most entertaining (or edifying) by way of poetic production in a given year. It took short poems—the Muses preferred these—and in the variety that the later eighteenth century and the early nineteenth found so agreeable. Everybody had a go at it. It brought Schlegel into the company of such shaky talents as Caroline von Dacheröden, later married to Wilhelm von Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm August Schmidt von Werneuchen, whom Schlegel was to parody, or Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer, to whom Caroline Michaelis poured out her soul and wit in letters. It was the title that Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck chose for their miscellany of 1802, which was also a Romantic memorial to the early dead. As late as the 1830s, Schlegel was joined by a younger generation of poets when he published satirical verse in periodicals still calling themselves Musenalmanach.

57Much of Bürger’s poetic output—ballads, Lieder, romances, epigrams— had first been published in the Musenalmanach with which he is usually associated. Why not encourage a young man, a ‘junger Aar’ indeed, with poetic talent, a good ear for rhyme, a sense of metre, and a head full of classical and mythological loci? None of these qualities alone, not even their totality, necessarily makes a good poet. No-one was ever going to call Schlegel that; a competent one perhaps, a correct one, a learned one— these are the qualities that spring to mind. They are also useful ones for the translator, who needs to rise above the limited store of his own poetic inspiration. Although he did not yet know it, this was to be his forte.

  • 116 SW, I, 7-27, 180-203, 328; II, 345-357, 360-364.
  • 117 Hans Grantzow, Geschichte des Göttinger und des Vossischen Musenalmanachs, Berliner Beiträge zur ge (...)

58The poetry by Schlegel that got published in Bürger’s Musenalmanach or allied almanacs116—mainly narrative poems with the light eroticism that the late rococo still enjoyed—showed him mastering the models available, nothing more.117 He did not emulate Bürger at his most innovative, the ballad in the mode of Percy’s Reliques, or the Lied, perhaps rightly sensing that it was better to restrict oneself to ‘safe’ subjects, bosky shades, Bacchus and Ariadne, sibyls, ruminations on the poetic office. The sonnet was a very different proposition altogether.

59Bürger may take much of the credit for the reintroduction of the sonnet into the mainstream of German literature. It had once enjoyed a vogue in the seventeenth century, but critical opinion early in the eighteenth century inimical to the baroque style had ensured its virtual disappearance from the assortment of available lyrical forms (there were hardly any by Johann Adolf Schlegel and his contemporaries). Thus it was not by chance that Bürger’s preface to his Gedichte of 1789 (the edition reviewed by Schiller) paid tribute to young Schlegel, his ‘beloved disciple’ (that tiresome vocabulary again), who with ‘poetic talent, taste and criticism’ had given him the necessary encouragement. He quoted in full a sonnet by Schlegel, ‘Das Lieblichste’ [The Most Pleasing] and one admires its neatness. ‘A very satisfactory form for presenting material in brief compass’ and ‘very agreeable withal’; suitable for the lyric or the didactic veins, for ‘occasional poems for friends of both sexes’. This was Bürger’s version of ‘Scorn not the Sonnet’, and it is a very reasonable working definition, too. Both master and pupil only ever used the Petrarchan model: Schlegel was never really interested in Shakespeare’s sonnets. It was in the form of a sonnet, from 1810, ‘An Bürgers Schatten’ [To Bürger’s Shade], that he acknowledged his debt to the older man, his inner awareness of Bürger’s lasting legacy but also his own poetic apostasy.

  • 118 SW, I, 328 ; II, 352-354. Cf. Emil Sulger-Gebing, Die Brüder A. W. und F. Schlegel in ihrem Verhält (...)
  • 119 SW, IV, 169-171 ; see Wilhelm Schwartz, August Wilhelm Schlegels Verhältnis zur spanischen und port (...)
  • 120 SW, I, 82-86.
  • 121 Writing from Fort St George in Madras 1 February 1784. Oskar Walzel, ‘Neue Quellen zur Geschichte d (...)

60There was much in these early poems that pointed towards the future. The sonnet on Guido Reni’s Cleopatra, for instance, or the poem ‘Adonis’,118 on a mythological and painterly subject, suggested that he was absorbing some of the lessons given by the university’s drawing instructor, Johann Dominik Fiorillo. The three metrical translations of Spanish romances showed that things Hispanic were being cultivated in Göttingen:119 it was here that this generation, that included Ludwig Tieck and the Humboldt brothers, gained their facility in the language. The poem, ‘Die Bestattung des Braminen’ [The Brahmin’s Funeral],120 in regular eight-line stanzas, addressed to his brother in India (Carl Schlegel had supplied the material for his young brother to commit to verse),121 is, together with his reference to Śakuntalâ, the first indication of Schlegel’s interest in things Indian and his respect for Brahmanic wisdom.

61This was not a young man merely willing to try out any literary genre that entered his head, unlike his younger contemporaries, or his younger brother Friedrich, who was about to begin omnivorously ingesting all the latest philosophy. There is no evidence of his having attended Bürger’s much-frequented lectures on Kant, the first offered in the university and a source of envy among his academic colleagues. That would change when he himself became a professor, but in the Kant-charged atmosphere of the university in Jena.

  • 122 Gedichte von Gottfried August Bürger’, Göttinger Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, 109 (1789), 1089.
  • 123 Ibid., 1091.
  • 124 Ueber Bürgers hohes Lied’, Neues Deutsches Museum 11 (Leipzig: Göschen, 1790), 205- 214, 306-348 ( (...)
  • 125 Strodtmann, IV, 42.

62For the time being, he stuck to what came naturally, poetry of course, but also increasingly criticism and translation. As a critic, he was prepared to take on anything, however obscure—or however well-known. It also meant making use of one connections: Heyne’s good offices secured him access to the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen. In 1789, he reviewed that new edition of Bürger’s poems,122 favourably of course (‘one of our best- loved poets’), taking note of the older man’s use of metre.123 His review of Bürger’s long love poem ‘Das Hohe Lied’ [Song of Songs] in Heinrich Christian Boie’s Neues Deutsches Museum,124 was, however, set up by Bürger himself, showing off his young prodigy to as wide a circle of his literary friends as possible. Boie was told of Schlegel’s ‘youth, power, imagination, language and versification’;125 in his turn, he paid well (17 Reichstaler and 17 Groschen) which was money from a more congenial employ than looking after Master Smith. The review itself satisfied both Bürger’s and Schlegel’s priorities, doing justice to this love elegy and also analysing how this ‘monument to passion’ is also an enshrinement of poetic form.

  • 126 SW, X, 3-56.

63The review appeared in two sections. Between these, Boie the editor inserted an account of the French Revolution. It seemed very remote from Göttingen, where Bürger’s latest misadventure was of greater interest to its academic citizenry. Schlegel would have an opportunity to observe the ever-widening circles of the Revolution after his departure for Holland the following Easter. Meanwhile, his Göttingen mentors, Heyne and Bürger, were enabling him to cast a critical eye over the literary production in Germany as a whole, even of Europe. For the twenty-five reviews that he provided for Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen between 1789 and 1791126 dealt with books in four different languages (German, French, Italian, English), with some names then resonant in German literature but now less so (Langbein, Thümmel), but also with Wieland, Goethe and Schiller.

  • 127 Ibid., 29.
  • 128 Ibid., 4.
  • 129 Ibid., 4-8.

64A ‘young eagle’ could scarcely mount higher—even as a reviewer. In view of the Schlegel brothers’ later plans for an ‘annihilation’ of Wieland, the older man came off quite lightly in 1790. How Wieland felt when told that his revised translation of Horace’s Epistles had gained in ‘poise, correctness and exactness’,127 is not recorded. In the manner of the young, Schlegel spotted an error. He reviewed Wieland’s Lucian translation almost as one expert to another. What of Goethe, whose works, his Schriften of 1787-91, announced that he had returned from Italy and was back in the literary scene? Of Volume Eight Schlegel noted that Goethe had carried out welcome revisions to his poetry, not least in matters metrical. Goethe’s ‘individuality’, that which rendered his poetry immortal, could be seen both in poems that were fully worked through or only just ‘hingeschüttet’ (‘thrown off’), a compliment capable of two different readings.128 In his review of Torquato Tasso he was on sure ground, knowing the biographical sources and notes.129 It conferred on him, in his eyes, the right to be fairly dismissive of the play itself. This was the first of his several reviews of Goethe, that recorded his continuing deference and then his gradual disenchantment.

  • 130 Strodtmann, IV, 124.
  • 131 SW, I, 8f.; Carl Alt, Schiller und die Brüder Schlegel (Weimar: Böhlau, 1904), 39f.; Josef Körner, (...)

65Schiller was a different proposition, especially when Schlegel, already in Amsterdam, was pushing Bürger to reply to the infamous review.130 His Musenalmanach poem ‘An einen Kunstrichter’ [To a Critic] can be read as a stiff address to Schiller to stick to his métier and not involve himself in moral issues.131 By then, however, there were indications enough that he needed to go beyond Bürger’s intellectual and poetic ambit and step out of the narrow confines of Göttingen. By the time Bürger died, in 1794, Schlegel had moved on, closer to Schiller. Given that Schiller was only eight years older than Schlegel and that he enjoyed a very cordial relationship with Schlegel’s exact contemporary Wilhelm von Humboldt, there is no reason on the face of it why Schiller and this older Romantic generation should not have made common cause, or at least in part. Their collaboration in Schiller’s periodical Die Horen was such an indication. Schlegel had much to share with the concerns of the older generation in general—Voss, Bürger, and others—in their search for new rhythms in poetic language, their classical learning (far superior to Schiller’s), and in some cases their interest in aesthetic theory. But that family business of the 1790s, the Brothers Schlegel, set out to forge quite different alliances, and they would be with those of their own generation, not with Schiller.

  • 132 SW, X, 30-36, ref. 31.
  • 133 Ibid., 32.
  • 134 Ibid., 34.

66The two reviews of Schiller that Schlegel produced (one appeared after he had left Göttingen) belonged essentially to the last years at the university. The notice in the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen of both parts of Schiller’s short- lived periodical Thalia (1785‑91), where of course not everything was by Schiller himself, served basically to inform the reader of the contents, with only the barest of comment (‘Profound thoughts presented with surprising novelty and warmth’).132 He was hardly interested in Schiller’s Dom Karlos (the first version of that play), or the stories that made Thalia so special. Schiller may not have been best pleased to be pulled up over his ‘impure rhymes’, less still over his ‘provincialisms’133 (Hanoverians to this day pride themselves on their ‘pure’ German). He did note especially Georg Forster’s translation of scenes from Śakuntalâ (based on Sir William Jones) and rightly commented how they alien they were to the European ear,134 a modest step towards his later Sanskrit studies.

  • 135 Ibid., VII, 3-23, ref. 19.

67The altogether much more substantial review of Schiller’s great philosophical poem ‘Die Künstler’ [The Artists] did come to Schiller’s notice, and he would have had no cause to be dissatisfied with it. There was, however, no question of a young reviewer seeking to ingratiate himself with the author of Don Carlos. He noted what for him were obscurities and impurities in the diction: having been told that ‘Fechter’ [‘fighter’] had associations with ignoble gladiatorial contests, Schiller actually changed it to ‘Ringer’ [‘wrestler’], presumably at the reviewer’s prompting.135 Schlegel could not suppress the view, one that would occur in Schiller’s periodical of the 1790s, Die Horen, that spoken rhythms and poetic language were humanity’s oldest expression, not the urge to draw or build, as Schiller would have it. What he most admired was how Schiller had taken material that was otherwise the stuff of didactic poetry or even art appreciation (Winckelmann or Mengs) and had made it into a rhapsody whose poetic expression and energy and the flow of whose language had enabled philosophical and aesthetic seriousness to be transmitted with such conviction.

The First Translations

  • 136 Hans-J. Weitz, ‘"Weltliteratur" zuerst bei Wieland’, Arcadia 22 (1987), 206-208.

68To review Goethe and Schiller meant ascending heady enough heights for a twenty-two-year-old ‘young eagle’, but aspiring to Petrarch, Dante and Shakespeare suggested Icarus instead. For anyone as careful as Schlegel, such an analogy is of course far-fetched, yet some surprise is justified nevertheless. Göttingen stood for two things: the historical accuracy of texts as they have come down to us, their integrity, the painstaking work of editors (Heyne)—and the perceived need to make the texts of world literature available in translation (Bürger). Nobody at that time was of course speaking publicly of ‘world literature’, but Wieland had used the word ‘Weltliteratur’ privately,136 and Georg Forster was saying essentially the same thing: it was not Goethe’s later invention. Mere translation was not enough; versions that did justice to the original in form and tone were needed. There was nothing extraordinary about this: debates had been going on throughout the century on the proprieties and practicalities. Where there were no debates, there were versions themselves, and plenty of them. Schlegel’s reviews in the Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen drew attention to the latest efforts from at least three languages, one of which was Sanskrit.

  • 137 SW, IV, 9, 22, 41, 47, 51, 53, 57, 59, 63, 68, 74, 76.
  • 138 SW, III, 199-230.
  • 139 Ibid., 226f.
  • 140 Ibid., 229.
  • 141 Michael Bernays, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Schlegelschen Shakespeare (Leipzig : Hirzel, 1872), (...)

69Bürger himself was an inveterate translator. Before Schlegel appeared on the scene to brighten up his last years, he had done versions of the Pervigilium Veneris, the Iliad, and Macbeth, an impressive list. But an Iliad in iambic verse was already a compromise, an anachronism even, when Klopstock and Voss were demonstrating how much in common Greek and German had (this would be Schlegel’s own later position). A prose Macbeth took its place among several such, notably Wieland’s and Eschenburg’s, and was unremarkable enough in that company (unless one cared for Bürger’s rumbustious witches). From writing sonnets in the Petrarchan style it was for Schlegel but a step to versions of the original, Petrarch himself.137 The handful of sonnets by Petrarch that he translated, mainly in Bürger’s Musenalmanach, together with one of the canzone, are not exciting reading, if proof enough that he could handle the stanzaic forms with early mastery. As yet there was no attempt at Dante’s verse, but an introductory essay Ueber die göttliche Komödie [On the Divine Comedy] that came out just after his departure from Göttingen,138 enunciated some important principles for the translator. The Divine Comedy was, says Schlegel, a work so much bound up with the personality and experience of its poet, so inextricably one with him, that the translator must render all of its characteristics and form and idiosyncrasies.139 They are the aerugo nobilis, the patina that declares an ancient coin to be genuine.140 Thus only a poetic translation, one that respects the character of the original, blemishes and all, is acceptable. It was his first formulation of the translation principles that he set out in Schiller’s Die Horen in 1796. Yet already Schlegel was in danger of overreaching himself, for these efforts were fragments of a general study of Italian poetry that got lost in other and more pressing enterprises.141

  • 142 Frank Jolles, A.W. Schlegels Sommernachtstraum in der ersten Fassung vom Jahre 1789 nach den Handsc (...)
  • 143 Ibid., 28f.

70Did he and Bürger, on their moonlit walks or as they took tea, make plans for a Shakespeare translation?142 It is unlikely to have been anything so ambitious, but the choice of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a joint translation effort was in itself noteworthy. An interest in Dryden and Addison’s ‘fairy way of writing’ among critical connoisseurs had kept interest in this play and The Tempest alive. These included Wieland, who had produced a verse translation in 1762, improved by Eschenburg in 1775. These two plays were also by tradition those that one found when opening the first volume of a Shakespeare edition. Even so, it was a measure of Wieland’s self-confidence that he submitted his versifying skills to this ultimate test. Bürger and Schlegel had a similarly high opinion of their capacities when they attempted the same task, but with Wieland and Eschenburg as guides. It was an important exercise, for it immediately showed up Bürger’s inadequacies, and yet in the same process convinced Schlegel that this might well be his own poetic métier.143 How far his thoughts went at this stage is unclear, but he took their joint translation with him and it found its way eventually to Jena when things Shakespearean resurfaced. It spoke for Bürger that he did not force his versions or his style on the younger man: he simply recognised superior talent when he saw it. Where in the opening scenes they were still competing, Schlegel by the close had the field to himself, with this, for example:

  • 144 The Dramatick Writings of Will. Shakspere […], 20 vols (London: Bell, 1788), V, 73.
  • 145 Jolles, 120.

The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Des Dichters Aug’ in schönem Wahnsinn 
       rollend,

Doth glance from heaven; to earth, from
       earth to heaven,
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown,
       the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives
       to airy nothing
A local habitation, and a name.

Such tricks hath strong imagination;
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos’d a bear?
144

Blitzt auf zum Himmel, blitzt
       zur Erd’ herab,
Und wie die schwangre Fantasie Gebilde
Von unbekannten Dingen ausgebiert,

Gestaltet sie des Dichters Kiel, und giebt

Dem luft’gen Unding Wohnsitz,
       Ort und Nahmen.
So gaukelt die allmächtige Einbildung:
Daß sie, sobald sie eine Freude fühlt
Auch einen Freudenbringer sich gedenkt;
Und in der Nacht, wenn uns ein Graun befällt,
Wie leicht, daß man den Busch für einen
       Bären hält!
145

71What matter if Schlegel made borrowings here and there from Wieland. What better source? And with this prentice work, under Bürger’s benevolent eye, he was in the process of consigning Wieland to history.

Johann Dominik Fiorillo

  • 146 On Bouterwek and Schlegel see Achim Hölter, ‘August Wilhelm Schlegels Göttinger Mentoren’, esp. 20- (...)

72Yet it would be misleading to attribute all the mentorship and guidance given to the young Schlegel entirely to Heyne and Bürger. How much he learned from Friedrich Bouterwek, a near-contemporary with whom he overlapped in Göttingen, is hard to assess.146 Also a member of Bürger’s circle, a minor poet (very minor), he shared Schlegel’s interest in the Romance languages (Italian, Spanish) and was, as Schlegel was preparing to leave Göttingen, beginning to give the first of the many systematic lectures on literature and philosophy that he was later to publish as compendia. For Bouterwek is the great compiler of facts, the systematizer, of his generation. Schlegel, too, needed facts when it suited him, but his narrative was organic, followed the natural development of human endeavours in the arts, the processes of change; it was never merely linear. Yet when Schlegel later needed to set out the history of the Spanish drama, it was to Bouterwek and his like that he turned (not always acknowledged)—but always in the interests of making known the poetry and the historical and social developments that produced it. With this difference in method went a mutual animosity. But were parts of Schlegel’s lectures in Bonn on German literature—the later sections in particular—all that better than Bouterwek’s undifferentiated accounts?

  • 147 On Fiorillo see esp. Claudia Schrapel, Johann Domenicus Fiorillo. Grundlagen zur wissenschaftsgesch (...)
  • 148 Strodtmann, IV, 138, 216.
  • 149 See Jochen Wagner, ‘Katalog der Druckgraphik und Handzeichnungen’, in : Manfred Boetzkes, Gerd Unve (...)

73Johann Dominik Fiorillo (spellings of his second name vary) was a different proposition.147 It was he who kindled Schlegel’s life-long interest in the fine arts and helped to make him, with his brother Friedrich, into formidable art connoisseurs and critics. Fiorillo, an artist in his own right (he had been in Pompeo Batoni’s studio) first came to Göttingen in 1781, becoming in 1782 drawing master and then in 1784 the inspector of the collection of engravings, much later, well after Schlegel’s time, a professor. From 1786 he gave private lectures on the history and theory of painting, although there is no evidence that Schlegel actually attended these. Fiorillo was a protégé of Heyne’s, doing the engravings for the Virgil edition for which Schlegel had performed more mundane services; he knew Bürger;148 he knew Bürger’s publisher Dieterich. We do not know with any certainty what Fiorillo specifically passed on to Schlegel: a couple of sonnets based on Titian or Guido Reni may not seem to amount to much, except that they do show knowledge of Italian painting, and the Italian schools were to be ever in the forefront of Schlegel’s art connoisseurship, not the Netherlandish, the Flemish, the French. Assuming, as we safely can, that Fiorillo showed Schlegel the prints and drawings of which he was the custodian, he would have seen sheets after the major Italian masters (including Raphael, Michelangelo, Bandinelli, Giulio Romano, Polidoro, Parmigianino, Correggio, the Carracci).149 What Schlegel did not receive were the systematic private lectures on art that his younger contemporaries Ludwig Tieck and Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder were to have from Fiorillo when they studied in Göttingen in 1792‑93. They had already been to galleries: Schlegel had not. Whereas Tieck’s and Wackenroder’s early output as writers (especially the latter’s) was heavily slanted towards art appreciation, Schlegel’s was as yet unfocused. He only started to show art connoisseurship in his reviews and his Dante essays from the 1790s. Meanwhile, he had to acquire the knowledge of originals, which no print collection could supplant. We do not know what he saw in Amsterdam; we can assume that he looked at the collections in Düsseldorf on his return journey to the Netherlands in 1794, the ones so recently praised by Wilhelm Heinse and Friedrich Leopold von Stolberg (although Schlegel never liked Rubens, the pride of Düsseldorf); with Caroline, he saw the collection of the dukes of Brunswick at Salzdahlum in 1795. It was however not until the crucial visit to the Dresden gallery in 1797 that his art appreciation began to take on a distinct profile.

  • 150 Johann Dominik Fiorillo, Geschichte der zeichnenden Künste von ihrer Wiederauflebung bis auf die ne (...)
  • 151 Letter of Fiorillo to AWS 7 October 1803, Schrapel, 489-490.

74Fiorillo must nevertheless have formed a favourable impression of Schlegel the Göttingen student, for in 1797 he entrusted him with the manuscript of the first volume of his monumental history of graphic art (Fiorillo was never quite secure in German) and thanked him publicly for his assistance with the language.150 Schlegel in his turn thought of Fiorillo when in 1803 he was charged with finding suitable copy for the new Jena Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and wondered if his old master could review art publications.151

Caroline Michaelis-Böhmer

75Two names are largely missing in this account of Schlegel’s Göttingen years: his brother Friedrich, and Caroline Böhmer, née Michaelis, later to be his wife. Friedrich was in many ways still a child when his older brother left for university, difficult, intractable, the afterthought of elderly parents, and what was worse in the Schlegel family, unstudious. Hardly grown up, at the age of fifteen, this ‘problem child’ had been sent to Leipzig to learn the banking trade. But Friedrich, whom his mother was soon to call ‘kein Wirth’ (‘cannot cope with money’), was constitutionally unsuited to this profession, or, one is tempted to say, any kind of fixed employment. It may have been the example of his older brother, or the awakening of his intellectual powers with puberty (his friend Novalis was to experience something similar): whatever, it sparked off the wish to go to the same university as August Wilhelm. His father had despaired of teaching him, and he had not been sent to the Lyceum. In a spate, an orgy, of reading, Friedrich in a few months seemingly devoured what his older brother had acquired in more systematic fashion. That may be an exaggeration, but he did read the whole of Plato in Greek. Armed with this, he was able to matriculate in 1790, attending lectures in mathematics and medicine, reading Herder, Kant, Winckelmann, Hemsterhuis as well. Friedrich does not feature in Bürger’s letters, so we may assume that he was not admitted to this poetic circle, but August Wilhelm did succeed in securing him an entrée to Heyne’s Seminarium Philologicum. Their ways parted at Easter 1791, and from that time the brothers’ letters keep us informed of the criss- crossing of their paths.

  • 152 Hakemeyer, 19f.
  • 153 Caroline, I, 77.

76Caroline Michaelis was by now ‘Mad. Böhmer’. In Göttingen, she had seen, some of them even in her father’s house, the explorers Georg Forster and Carsten Niebuhr, the publisher and author Friedrich Nicolai, the Princess Gallitzin (she had missed Goethe); she had kept up with all the developments in literature and the theatre, was competent in English, French and Italian, English especially. It was spoken in the house (her father had translated from the English); the royal princes were frequent guests.152 Yet in 1784 she married—was married off to—Johann Franz Wilhelm Böhmer, the son of another Göttingen professor. Böhmer was a doctor in Clausthal, the mining town in the Harz, sixty kilometres from Göttingen and a narrow provincial nest. She hated it.153 Their daughter Auguste was born in 1785. In that year, Therese Heyne, the daughter of her father’s colleague and a close but unreliable friend, married Georg Forster. These events were to have consequences for all of them. Another daughter was born. Then Böhmer died of an illness in 1788.

  • 154 Ibid., I, 182, 688.
  • 155 Briefe, I, 10.
  • 156 Bögel (2012), 179.
  • 157 Caroline, I, 686f.

77She would have seen Schlegel on her periodic visits home to Göttingen, indeed the young student living in the Heyne household came in useful when she needed a poem of congratulation for her father’s seventy-second birthday.154 In his way, he paid court to this widow, young still, but older and more experienced than he, her letters showing a psychological sophistication that his never did. His journey on foot through the Harz included a visit to Clausthal,155 but one cannot imagine this bookish student, doubtless with good manners, making any kind of impression, certainly not a favourable one. He, twenty years later, noted in his ‘Zeitrechnung’ that she left Göttingen in the summer of 1789—she is the only person apart from himself that he mentions156—for Marburg, to stay with her brother, a medical professor. Her second child died there, under distressing circumstances. She returned to Göttingen: Schlegel records that he saw her before his departure for Holland at Easter 1791. It would have been devotion at a distance, a Petrarchan or Dantean worship from afar. For in Göttingen, Caroline, the young widow, had a romantic attachment to Georg Tatter,157 the tutor to the three British royal princes studying there; Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer, ‘Kustos’ of the university library and a professor extraordinarius in philosophy and history, a man of considerable charm but of uncertain character, was her confidant in a stream of letters. She knew all the town scandal, not least the unedifying story of Bürger’s disastrous third marriage. She was still in Göttingen when August Wilhelm Schlegel left at Easter 1791. Their paths were not to cross again until 1793.

Summer 1791-Summer 1795: Amsterdam, Mainz, Leipzig

  • 158 Ibid., 225.

78These were not unproductive years—with Schlegel there was no danger of that—yet they were the space between the first unfolding of his poetic and critical talents, and the achievement of their first maturity of expression. They saw him cutting the cord that bound him to Gottfried August Bürger and accepting the hand of the same Schiller whose review, in Caroline’s words, had taken ‘all the human honour out of him’ [‘Bürgern um alle menschliche Ehre recennsirt’].158 As for Caroline, he was not taking ‘no’ for an answer; as a consequence, much of his time and energy would be devoted to extricating her from the toils spun by the French Revolution. It was a time of close meeting of souls with his brother Friedrich, but also of paying off his improvident brothers’ debts.

  • 159 Cf. Eschenburg’s letter to AWS of 30 April 1791, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX, 7 (84), whi (...)
  • 160 Walzel (1891), 490.
  • 161 KA, XXIII, 19.
  • 162 Letters (in extract) of Muilman Sr. and Willem Muilman to AWS in Scholte (1949), 134-146.
  • 163 Walzel (1891), 487f.
  • 164 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX, 12 (21).
  • 165 Ibid. (15).

79Most of this was conducted at a distance. We know of most of his doings through others’ letters. He was in a self-imposed exile from Germany, in Amsterdam. Not eating the bread of affliction: quite the contrary, for those useful ‘Connexionen’ (this time, Eschenburg in Brunswick) had secured him the post of tutor to the only son of the ‘Counsellor and Magistrate’, Henric Muilman.159 Muilman’s business interests extended to England, the East and West Indies, and he could afford to pay well. Schlegel was no longer dependent on sums like the ‘9 Rthl.’ that he got from Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen for 1791160 or even the one or two Louisd’ors per sheet that Schiller could offer.161 Schlegel travelled from Göttingen via Osnabrück to Amsterdam in the spring of 1791 and remained there until the summer of 1795. His letters to his Göttingen mentors, Heyne and Bürger, tell of his first impressions. The house at Herengracht 476 was remarkable for two reasons: its opulence, compared at least with anything that Schlegel would have been accustomed to, and its extended family, a daughter each from Muilman’s and Madame Muilman’s first marriages, and two children from their second. It was Willem Ferdinand Mogge Muilman, a wide-awake boy of 13, to whom Schlegel was tutor and with whom, if later letters are anything to go by, he seems to have had a good relationship.162 The idea was that Willem should emerge with the necessary skills in French and English that a young gentlemen and man of affairs must have—and much more besides. This Schlegel delivered. Thus when Schlegel later stated views on education, he knew what he was talking about. The household was comfortable; he was warmly clad (his mother saw to this) and well fed. It was, however, no more than a temporary arrangement until something permanent turned up. His father had been trying to pull strings to secure him a teaching position;163 and in letters from his mother we are kept posted about the health of professors at the Collegium Carolinum in Brunswick, where some of his father’s elderly contemporaries were ending their careers as professors.164 Their mental horizon did not extend beyond the usual eighteenth-century notions of ‘Amt’, the security afforded by fixed tenure. There were even hints—from his mother—that his family were glad to know that he was free of Bürger’s direct influence. Otherwise, there were parental admonitions to prudence, frugality and economy, qualities already abundant in Holland and ones that their son already possessed in large measure. Not so ‘Fritz’, now a student in Leipzig, ‘kein Wirth’ and a burden on their exchequer,165 in fact already in debt to the tune of 300 talers. But Friedrich discovered his now absent brother as a source of true friendship; a correspondence ensued, which is one of the most important and revealing documents of these years. We owe this to the tidiness of August Wilhelm: he kept Friedrich’s letters, while his own were lost.

Caroline’s Tribulations

  • 166 Caroline, I, 191.

80Lost, too, are his letters to Caroline Böhmer, née Michaelis, that young widow so much older in human experience and general sophistication than he. Had they survived, we would know for certain how earnestly and assiduously August Wilhelm had asked for Caroline’s hand. We would know whether those poems in Bürger’s Musenalmanach were mere exercises in style and versification or addresses of devotion to Caroline. We would know whether she ever wrote to him letters of such verve, of such stylistic accomplishment and vividness, as her friend Meyer or her sister Lotte Michaelis were to receive. In the spring of 1789, tired of Göttingen, she moved with her children to Marburg, where her brother was a medical professor. She met there the grande dame of German letters, Sophie von La Roche. For the moment, life seemed one late rococo fête champêtre. But in this atmosphere, away from the Hanoverian realms, she could only exclaim: ‘Schlegel and me? Not a chance!’166

  • 167 Ibid., 195-199.
  • 168 Bögel (2012), 179.

81Caroline needed all of her considerable powers of description to relate what happened next, the harrowing death of her two-year-old daughter Therese in December 1789.167 Eighteenth-century therapeutics could only try the standard cures, and they were fruitless; her brother the professor could not save the child. Then, for almost two years, she moved between Marburg and Göttingen, trying to pick up the pieces of her life. It was at Easter 1791, as Schlegel recorded in his ‘Zeitrechnung’,168 that he last saw her before his departure for Holland. In March 1791, she spent a month in Mainz with her old childhood friend, Therese Forster, née Heyne, and her family. In December of that year, she made the momentous—or fatal—decision to join Therese and all the Forsters, Georg, Therese and the children. It was to bring her, and the Schlegel brothers, face to face with the Revolutionary Wars and the consequences of the French Revolution. This deserves mention, as Friedrich’s later attitude to the Revolution, his articles on Condorcet and Forster, his elevation of the Revolution to one of the ‘tendencies of the age’, had as their author someone whose sister-in-law had escaped the siege of Mainz and had seen the inside of a prison. It was all very different from their friend Ludwig Tieck, a Göttingen student in 1793 and singing ‘Ça ira’ at a safe distance.

82But why Mainz? With a population of 25,000, it was the capital of the archdiocese and electoral territory of Mainz (‘Kurmainz’) that took in not just the substantial ancient city but other territories, such as Erfurt in Thuringia. With its position on the Rhine, it had commercial significance, but as events would soon show, also strategic value. For the city lay on that bank of the Rhine that was soon to change hands. The court and its appurtenances attracted men of culture. Wilhelm Heinse (Hölderlin’s ‘Heinze’), novelist and art critic, found a niche there before the troubles saw him removing to yet another court. The Elector of Mainz, Baron Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal, saw no contradiction between the opulence of his palace, and the spirit of enlightenment in his university. Even Germany’s Catholic universities, such as the one founded in nearby Bonn, were not immune to lumières: among those whom the Elector brought to Mainz, the anatomist Samuel Thomas Sömmering and the university librarian, Georg Forster, stand out.

  • 169 Phlegyasque miserrimus omnes admonet.
    O ich Tor ! Ich rasender Tor ! Und rasend ein jeder,
    Der, auf d (...)

83Forster might have become one of those universal figures like Goethe or Alexander von Humboldt, had he made the necessary accommodations to courts and state institutions that they—with varying degrees of reluctance— submitted to. With his life ending in ruins in the Paris of the Terror, he seemed in the 1790s to be a warning example of where revolutionary ardour or a belief in unending human progress led to. Goethe’s and Schiller’s heartless Xenion of 1796169 has to be seen in this context, but also Friedrich Schlegel’s essay of 1797, that sprang to his defence. Yet the Goethe of the 1820s, by now the author of the upliftingly anti-revolutionary Hermann und Dorothea but also of the cynical political allegory Reineke Fuchs, when writing the selective and embellished account of his own involvement in the Revolutionary Wars, avoided disparaging reference to Forster in Campagne in Frankreich [The Campaign in France]; he made no secret of the fact that in August 1792, on his way to the disastrous encounter with revolutionary forces, he spent convivial evenings with him and friends in Mainz (a draft even added ‘Mad. Böhmer’).

  • 170 Einleitung in die allgemeine Weltgeschichte’, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XXVIII, esp. [64-68 (...)

84One could not overlook Forster. When in March to May 1773 Goethe was just back from his unhappy sojourn in Wetzlar and Herder was chafing in Bückeburg, Forster was with James Cook in Dusky Bay in New Zealand, collecting plants, birds and native artefacts, all of which would go into his epoch-making Journey Round the World of 1777 (his Reise um die Welt of 1778‑80.) He was Alexander von Humboldt’s mentor, and his Ansichten vom Niederrhein [Views of the Lower Rhine], as significant as anything at all by Goethe or Schiller at the time, showed Humboldt how one could amalgamate topography, politics and culture in one narrative. Forster won August Wilhelm Schlegel’s later approval when he sided with Forster’s (and Blumenbach’s) views against Kant’s on racial types.170 He was the German translator of Sir William Jones’s Śakuntalâ, which for Schlegel merited mention among the pioneering history of German Indology.

  • 171 Caroline, I, 324f.
  • 172 Ibid., 242.
  • 173 Ibid., 250. Goethe’s words in Gedenkausgabe, XII, 289.
  • 174 Ibid., 274.
  • 175 Ibid., I, 302, 695; KA, XXIII, 431.

85But in 1791, Caroline, and by extension the brothers Schlegel, knew this wide-ranging genius only for his human frailty. Caroline had chosen Mainz as opposed to the minor residences of Gotha or Weimar, where everyone would have known who she was. That was in itself an error. The Forster marriage, never happy—only later would Therese confess to its full wretchedness—had collapsed.171 Therese was conducting an open affair with the Saxon legation secretary Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, later her husband. It was Huber, with Sömmering, who were to spread some of the gossip that led to Caroline being declared persona non grata in so many territories. Caroline was aware of the delicacy of her position.172 These were not normal times: the city was full of French émigrés, and the league of German princes that included Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar- Eisenach was about to move its armies down towards Verdun and Valmy to counter the revolutionary armies. She was reading Mirabeau, sensing the momentousness of the times she lived in. In words not unreminiscent of Goethe’s in Campagne in Frankreich—‘Here begins a new epoch in world history, and you can say that you were present at it’—she imagines telling her grandchildren of the ‘highly interesting moment in politics’ unfolding around her.173 But a few days before Goethe’s visit to Mainz, she was writing of the hatred felt in Mainz towards the émigrés and the imperial troops. On October 6, the French enemy was at the gates; on 21 October, the princes’ armies dispersed, and General Adam Philippe de Custine’s forces occupied Mainz. ‘What a change in events in 8 days’,174 she wrote on 27 October, with Custine in the Elector’s palace and a garrison of 10,000 men of the French Revolutionary Army in the city. A Jacobin Club was set up: Forster joined. A proponent of political union with France, he was sent in March 1793 to Paris as a delegate of the German National Convention. He was now alone, Therese and the children having left for Strasbourg, she to marry Huber, and then make a career as an independent writer. Caroline was one of Forster’s few remaining friends: later rumours, all of them malicious, would differ as to the degree of ‘comfort’ she is alleged to have afforded him. What is certain, is that she met a young French officer, Jean-Baptiste Dubois de Crancé, the nephew of Custine’s successor, General François-Ignace Ervoil d’Oyré, and that she surrendered to his advances, ‘an event that was very significant for her honour’, as Therese Huber later wrote.175

  • 176 Caroline, I, 694f.

86With Forster gone, or about to go, Caroline secured a pass to leave Mainz with her six-year-old daughter Auguste and two other women. The intention was to reach Gotha, and her friend Luise Gotter, and eventually Göttingen. What then happened is unclear: Sömmering, no friend of Jacobins—he reinstalled himself immediately after the siege was lifted—claimed that Caroline had tried to be witty with some Prussian officers—never a wise thing—and was promptly arrested.176 The latter part is certainly true. She thus escaped the bombardment and reduction of the city in July, that assault by the German princes on the ragtag defenders that formed the basis of Goethe’s wry account in Belagerung von Mainz. And she was spared Georg Forster’s death in Paris in January 1794, in isolation and sickness, dying for the principles of ‘communal spirit’ that the Revolution was in the process of betraying.

  • 177 Ibid., 656.
  • 178 Ibid., 650.
  • 179 Ibid., 292, 657.
  • 180 Ibid., 290.
  • 181 KA, XXIII, 89, 416.
  • 182 Caroline, I, 656.
  • 183 Ibid., 288.
  • 184 Sweet, I, 98.
  • 185 Caroline, I, 702.

87What was certain was that a small company of women found themselves arrested and incarcerated in the fortress of Königstein, in the Taunus hills above Frankfurt. ‘This is a most unfortunate state of affairs’;177 ‘Dear Caroline has not acted as she would have had she had all her wits about her’178 are words in an exchange of letters between her sister Luise Michaelis and August Wilhelm Schlegel. Caroline, now ill, had to spend nine weeks sharing a room with seven others. She was not denied pen and paper, and sent out pleas for help.179 She needed to, as she was proscribed and in danger of being treated as a hostage. Le Moniteur in Paris already referred to her as ‘la veuve Böh. amie du Citoyen Forster’ [the widow Böhmer, friend of Citizen Forster],180 and Friedrich Schlegel picked up a rumour that she was Custine’s mistress.181 We do not have the letters that she wrote, only the responses to them. She wrote to her family, to the Gotters in Gotha—and to August Wilhelm in Amsterdam. Friedrich Schlegel, apprised by a network of informants in Leipzig, wrote to his brother that ‘something must be done’. Proscribed or not, she was still a Göttingen professor’s daughter and a Hanoverian subject. The historian Schlözer, her father’s colleague, took up her cause;182 the dramatist Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter in Gotha was to approach Karl Theodor von Dalberg in Erfurt, ‘Coadjutor’, prince of the church, and the representative there of the Elector of Mainz;183 Schlegel wrote to Wilhelm von Humboldt, Dalberg’s protégé, only to learn that the Elector himself made the decisions.184 Finally, it was her brother Philipp, himself a doctor, who secured her release; he petitioned the commander in chief of the military alliance, King Frederick William II of Prussia, and learned that it was not ‘My will’ that the innocent should suffer. An adjutant was to issue passes for her safe conduct home.185

  • 186 Ibid., 696.
  • 187 Ibid., 298.
  • 188 KA, XXIII, 424,
  • 189 Caroline, I, 309.
  • 190 Cf. Muilman’s letter of 19 July, 1793, Scholte (1949), 134f.
  • 191 Caroline, I, 703; Erich Schmidt, the editor of Caroline’s letters, Prussian professor and civil ser (...)
  • 192 Ibid., 704.
  • 193 KA, XXIII, 192, 455.

88But it was less simple than that. The ‘illness’ proved to the first stages of pregnancy: she was carrying Crancé’s child. Her letter to Schlegel had, it seems, contained the request for poison, ‘to escape the shame through death’.186 ‘I have nothing more to live for in Germany’.187 Where was she to go? Prussia would not have her; Saxe-Gotha similarly; her ‘shame’ prevented her from returning to Göttingen. Her friends the Gotters used their influence with the publisher Georg Joachim Göschen in Leipzig.188 There she could stay for a brief time, provided that the Saxon authorities did not get wind. But how was this distressed person, five months pregnant and with a small daughter, to accomplish this? Their saviour proved to be none other than August Wilhelm Schlegel. ‘Of his own accord, not thinking of himself, and making no claims’, is how Caroline wrote in August of that year.189 Forgetting rebuffs and discouragements, he had come in July from Amsterdam (Muilman had granted him leave)190 and had accompanied Caroline from Frankfurt to Leipzig. There, his brother Friedrich had his meditations on Hamlet and other subjects rudely interrupted by the arrival of the small party; indeed August Wilhelm more or less handed Caroline over to him and returned to his duties with the Muilmans in Amsterdam. Not, however, before having installed Caroline in the small town of Lucka. ‘Kleinstaaterei’, Germany’s many pocket-handkerchief states, proved this time to have advantages: although close to Leipzig, Lucka was in the territory of Saxe-Altenburg and thus a safe haven. She was quartered in a doctor’s house, awaiting her confinement. August Wilhelm sent her the portrait of himself he had had done in Amsterdam, to remind her of his continuing devotion; Friedrich came in person. The ‘petit citoyen’ Wilhelm Julius Kranz was born on 3 November 1793 and baptised ‘the same day’.191 Fictitious parental names for ‘Crancé’ were signed in the parish register, but as one of the godparents we find the non-fictitious ‘Friedrich Schlegel, stud. jur. in Leipzig’.192 The child was fostered, its upkeep paid for by the ever-provident August Wilhelm Schlegel.193

Schlegel in Amsterdam

  • 194 Strodtmann, IV, 125, 139.
  • 195 KA, XXIII, 19.

89This was the only dramatic event in the four years that August Wilhelm Schlegel spent in Amsterdam. Yet late in 1792 and early in 1793, it seemed for a time that even the peace of that solid city was about to be disturbed by General Dumouriez’s incursions into the Low Countries (during which a young lieutenant colonel named Arthur Wesley, later Wellesley, then Wellington, first saw action). In the event, Schlegel seems to have settled down to a routine, not with any enthusiasm, for his letters to Heyne and Bürger evinced little inclination for the Dutch, their language, their culture, their political factions, in short, he seemed bored. Indeed as early as December 1791194 he wrote to his brother that he was prepared to abandon everything and move to Mainz to be near Caroline. The libraries, he claimed, were not adequate for the kind of intensive study of Italian literature that he wished to undertake (later, Friedrich sent him the necessary books). And yet the essential groundwork was laid for the big essays, on Dante and on language and metrics, that started coming out in Schiller’s periodical Die Horen in 1795. As early as the summer of 1791, we learn through Friedrich that Schiller wanted contributions to Die Neue Thalia, which Die Horen was to succeed.195 But Schlegel bided his time. References in Friedrich’s letters to his brother’s sample versions from Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, to a whole translation of Shakespeare, indicated that the break with Bürger had not spelled an end to such ambitions.

  • 196 Briefe, I, 14.
  • 197 Full title : (Anon.), Joachim Rendorps geheime Nachrichten zur Aufklärung der Vorfälle während des (...)

90And yet he could not avoid getting involved in the affairs that exercised the Muilman household, such as a schism in the Lutheran church (things like that did not happen in Hanover).196 It also produced Schlegel’s most unlikely publication. A brother-in-law of Muilman’s, Joachim Rendorp, had become embroiled in the issue of the regency during Stadholder William V’s minority and in particular against the regent himself, duke Ludwig Ernst of Brunswick. This elicted a defence from the Göttingen historian Schlözer, a protégé of the Brunswicker. Mr Rendorp wrote a spirited reply; Schlegel was asked to translate it into German for the publisher Heinsius in Leipzig—anonymously, so as not to offend Schlözer personally. These Nachrichten were essentially hack work and were discontinued after the first part (they are today a rarity).197 The 60 talers due for the work went straight into the insatiable maw of his debt-ridden brother Friedrich.

Fig. 2 Portrait drawing of August Wilhelm Schlegel as a young man, by unknown artist, undated [early 1790s].

Fig. 2 Portrait drawing of August Wilhelm Schlegel as a young man, by unknown artist, undated [early 1790s].

© and by kind permission of Hans-Joachim Dopfer, all rights reserved.

  • 198 KA, XXIII, 75.
  • 199 Now in the Freies Deutsches Hochstift, Frankfurt am Main. Cf. Freies Deutsches Hochstift Frankfurte (...)

91Despite his protestations of love and devotion to Caroline, there was talk of a ‘Sophie’, a singer in Amsterdam; indeed his brother counselled him not to mention her name in letters that Caroline might also see.198 But we must assume that it was for Caroline that August Wilhelm had his portrait painted by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein, in 1793, during one of that painter’s sojourns in Amsterdam. It is that slightly sensuous, effete and stylised portrait, with the modish high stock, that hitherto was our only image of the young Schlegel.199

Fig. 3 Portrait in oils of August Wilhelm Schlegel, by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein [1793].

Fig. 3 Portrait in oils of August Wilhelm Schlegel, by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein [1793].

Image in the public domain.

  • 200 KA, XXIII, 14.

92How good a likeness it is can only be gauged from Friedrich’s reactions, with which Caroline also agreed: forehead, nose and general area successful, but not the mouth; he had not captured the natural fire of the eyes and had substituted some significance perceptible only to himself. The sitter seems to have been satisfied, otherwise he would not have sent it. Perhaps it is the first sign of the vanity with which he later was taxed and which some detected as early as 1791.200

‘Du, Caroline und ich’: Friedrich Schlegel201

  • 201 For an account of Friedrich Schlegel’s early development see Enders, 200-277 ; Franz Futterknecht, (...)
  • 202 KA, XXIII, 104f.
  • 203 Ibid., 51.

93What of Friedrich, plunged into a broil of human affairs for which he was emotionally, perhaps even constitutionally, not prepared? The four years of correspondence with his brother August Wilhelm reveal the many sides of his character, by no means all of them flattering; but we do well to remember that this was a young man, a late developer, given to mood swings and dark reflections that only just recoiled from suicide. When these young (and not so young) men in the 1790s turned their attention to the figure of Hamlet, they revealed much of themselves: Goethe had his Wilhelm Meister believe in the Prince’s innate nobility; Christian Garve the popular philosopher found a balance between reason and unreason; Ludwig Tieck was fascinated by the phenomenon of madness; August Wilhelm saw a ‘surfeit of the rational’. Only Friedrich Schlegel saw ‘endless destruction, breakdown, of the very highest powers’ (‘unendliche Zerrüttung an den allerhöchsten Kräften’), a ‘fearful void’, and there was a sense of identification that the others lacked.202 When he learned in 1792 that Schiller had called him a ‘kalter Witzling’ (‘smart alec’),203 we perceive something of that inner insecurity that sought compensation in superficial brilliance or the parading of knowledge. It was a hasty judgement, a weakness to which Schiller inclined. It did not for the moment diminish Friedrich’s admiration for Schiller, but both brothers would learn to be wary of the older man’s prickliness.

  • 204 Ibid., 33, 176.
  • 205 Ibid., 198.
  • 206 Ibid., 211.

94This inner insecurity may be a reason why Friedrich elevated friendship as he did, not just as his father’s generation had done, but following Burke and Kant, to the sublime itself.204 He said this in 1791 and repeated it substantially in 1794. Yet these heady notions of friendship also had their feet on the ground of reality. It was not by chance that concrete sums of money occurred frequently in these fraternal letters. By the end of 1793, he was hopelessly in debt: his creditors were gathering round to prevent his departure from Leipzig for Dresden, and he desperately needed 500 talers. His brother in Amsterdam managed to raise this huge sum, using wealthy ‘Connexionen’ but also drawing on his own savings. It was to be the first of several quite hefty sums that Friedrich was to receive from this source, even when relations between the brothers later were strained. We wonder therefore how accurate Friedrich’s estimate of May 1794 was, computing the annual cost of living in Dresden: for a single man, his meals and a servant, 80 talers, for a married couple perhaps 250 talers.205 Later in the year, he saw no reason why August Wilhelm, once he had returned to Germany, should not be able to earn 1,000 talers from his writings (at roughly the same time, Schiller claimed to need 1,400 talers to live in an appropriate style).206 It is clear that Friedrich envisaged a future unburdened by ‘Amt’ and tenure, where the talers and Louisd’ors would be earned by the pen alone. The model was certainly Schiller, but even he was never a completely ‘independent writer’, never without a helping hand from some prince or other. It was a perilous path to follow, and not even his provident brother was able to pursue it consistently. The Romantic generation needed professional qualifications, or academic posts, or private estates, or patrons, or combinations of all of these. Not a single one of them was ever financially independent. The irony is that Friedrich Schlegel, who believed longer than most that he could be a writer and nothing else, was also the one whose finances were always in the greatest disarray.

  • 207 Ibid., 51.
  • 208 Ibid., 185.

95One does not wish to reduce the many heady literary plans, feverishly communicated to his brother in Amsterdam, to the level of mere income sources. They came bubbling up out of his fertile intelligence: ‘My hidden powers are alive, everything in me is active, and I only seek that which will ease, urge and channel the plenitude within me’.207 We do note their ambitiousness and their desire to supplant what was already published and articulated by others: the Roman republic (abandoned), the history of Greek poetry (reduced in scope), the Greeks and Romans compared with the Moderns (adapted). They involved absolute definitions of the nature of poetry: the inner unity of the disparate, the harmony of inner fullness, and attempt to express the many-sided as a system. Eventually, he came down to the amalgamation of the essentially modern (‘das Wesentlich-Moderne’) with the essentially ancient (‘das Wesentlich-Antike’).208 Big names cropped up: the Greeks, of course, for he was still in the grip of a kind of Graecomania, but also Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, as a post-classical canon. The formulations came in rapid succession; one touched off the next. Thus Hamlet, so close to Friedrich’s own mood, was the archetypical figure of the modern, the merely ‘interesting’ and sensational, the nihilistic and destructive. These notions pushed him closer to an examination of his own times and sparked off the essays on Condorcet, Lessing and Forster.

  • 209 Ibid., 138.
  • 210 Ibid., 218.
  • 211 Ibid., 160.
  • 212 Ibid., 227.

96But his letters were not without their propaedeutic side and their tendency towards absolute pronouncements. His older brother, never as philosophically inclined as he, was treated to several philosophy lessons. He was frequently enjoined to complete his Dante project, which of course he duly did. The translator of Petrarch must learn that the ‘ideal’ could only be found in tragedy; he must be told that Bürger, the sponsor of those translations, was merely a poet of ‘life’, not, by implication, of anything higher. But Friedrich did call on August Wilhelm’s superior knowledge of Homer or of Greek grammarians. He passed on comments from Caroline: August Wilhelm’s samples of Shakespeare contained, for her taste, too many archaisms, a negative effect of translating Dante.209 But both welcomed his new prose style, she noting that it had a polemically sharp edge, he finding elements of Herder and Johannes von Müller, high praise indeed.210 They seemed to form an ideal combination: ‘Du, Caroline und ich’.211 If only they could all be together in one place, Rome for instance, where they could complete Winckelmann’s work by supplying the poetic dimension to his history of Greek art!212

  • 213 Scholte, 141-146.

97By then, however, August Wilhelm was being published in Schiller’s Die Horen. Caroline was urging Friedrich to read Condorcet. August Wilhelm was willing to work for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in Jena. And at the end of 1795, he returned to Germany from Amsterdam. Muilman had treated him well, in a business-like fashion. Willem’s later letters to his former tutor are chatty: on his grand tour, which included England and Germany, he visited Schlegel, now a professor in Jena. In England, Willem had his portrait painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence.213

Notes

1 On the Schlegel family see K. F. von Frank, ‘Schlegel von Gottleben’, Seftenegger Monatsblatt für Genealogie und Heraldik 5 (1960-65), col. 314.

2 [SW, VIII, 221, 263. On AWS’s ancestry see Konrad Seeliger, ‘Johann Elias Schlegel’, Mitteilungen des Vereins f. Geschichte der Stadt Meißen 2, Heft 2 (1888), 145-188.

3 Briefe von und an August Wilhelm Schlegel, ed. Josef Körner, 2 vols (Zurich, Leipzig, Vienna: Amalthea, 1930), I, 460f.

4 Bound in the Schlegel family psalter (Nuremberg, 1525), Bonn, Universitätsbibliothek, S 1640.

5 Such as Ernst Behler, Friedrich Schlegel in Selbstzeugnissen und Dokumenten, rowohlts monographien (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1966), 8.

6 Listed in Seeliger, 149f.

7 Briefe, I, 5f.

8 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, II, 6 (VIa, VIII).

9 Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe [KA], ed. Ernst Behler et al., 30 vols (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna: Schöningh; Zurich: Thomas, 1958– in progress), XXIII, 288.

10 Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, Werke, Sammlung der besten deutschen prosaischen Schriftsteller und Dichter, 10 parts (Carlsruhe: Schmieder, 1774), X, 43.

11 Opuscula quae Augustus Guilelmus Schlegelius Latine scripta reliquit, ed. Eduardus Böcking (Lipsiae: Weidmann, 1848), 416f.

12 Carl Justi, Winckelmann und seine Zeitgenossen, 3rd edn, 3 vols (Leipzig: Vogel, 1923), I, 49.

13 JES was born in 1718, not 1719, as is often assumed. For dating I rely on Seeliger, who consulted the relevant parish registers (153).

14 See Elizabeth M. Wilkinson, Johann Elias Schlegel: a German Pioneer in Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1945).

15 [Edward Young], Conjectures on Original Composition (London: Dodsley, 1759), 12.

16 He translated James Thomson’s tragedies Agamemnon, Sophonisba and Coriolanus, and Edward Young’s The Brothers.

17 On Johann Heinrich see Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, ed. C. F. Bricka, cont. Poul Engelstoft and Svend Dahl, 27 vols (Copenhagen: Schultz, 1887-1944), XXI, 190-194; Leopold Magon, Ein Jahrhundert geistiger und literarischer Beziehungen zwischen Deutschland und Skandinavien 1750-1850 (Dortmund: Ruhfus, 1926), I, 268-274; J.W. Eaton, The German Influence in Danish Literature in the Eighteenth Century: The German Circle in Copenhagen 1750-1770 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1929), 148-151.

18 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, ed. Johann Heinrich Schlegel, 5 vols (Copenhagen and Leipzig: Mumm; Prost u. Rothens Erben, 1764-73).

19 Jakob Thomson’s Sophonisba ein Trauerspiel aus dem Englischen übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen erläutert […] von Johann Heinrich Schlegeln (Leipzig: Hahn, 1758), [xxif.].

20 Cf. Ioannis Henrici Schlegelii observationes criticae et historicae in Cornelium Nepotem […] (Havniae : Philibert, 1778).

21 J. F. W. Schlegel, Sur la visite de vaisseaux neutres sous convoi […] (Copenhagen: Cohen, 1800), subsequently in English. He also published the codex of Old Icelandic Law. On Johan Frederik Wilhelm see Neuer Nekrolog der Deutschen, 14. Jg., 2 Th. (1836) (Weimar: Voigt, 1838), 936-943; Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, ed Cedergreen Beck, 16 vols (Copenhagen: Gyldendahl, 1979-84), XIII, 122-123.

22 Joh. Adolf Schlegel’, Friedrich Schlichtegroll, Nekrolog auf das Jahr 1793. Enthaltend Nachrichten von dem Leben merkwürdiger in diesem Jahre verstorbener Personen (Gotha: Perthes, 1794), 71-121, ref. 91; Carl Enders, Friedrich Schlegel. Die Quellen seines Wesens und Werdens (Leipzig: Haessel, 1913), 169.

23 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, V, liii-lxiv; also in Johann Adolf Schlegel, Vermischte Gedichte, 2 vols (Carlsruhe: Schmieder, 1788-90), I, 222-243.

24 Johann Elias Schlegel, Werke, V, lviii.

25 Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, Werke und Briefe. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, ed. Horst Gronemeyer et al., 21 vols in 25 (Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 1974-in progress), I, i, 28.

26 Voltaire, Discours en vers sur l’homme (1734-37).

27 Klopstock, I, i, 97.

28 Ibid., III, Briefe 1753-58, 24f.

29 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX (21), 5.

30 KA, XXIII, 298.

31 As in Caroline. Briefe aus der Frühromantik. Nach Georg Waitz vermehrt hg. v. Erich Schmidt, 2 vols (Leipzig: Insel, 1913), I, 432.

32 On JAS see Schlichtegroll, Nekrolog, and esp. the exhaustive study by Joyce S. Rutledge, Johann Adolph Schlegel, German Studies in America, 18 (Berne, Frankfurt am Main: Herbert Lang, 1974).

33 As instanced by his poem, ‘Von der Hölle’, Vermischte Gedichte, I, 130-133.

34 Klopstock, III, Briefe 1753-58, 25.

35 See Rudolf Steinmetz, ‘Die Generalsuperintendenten von Calenberg’, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für niedersächsische Kirchengeschichte 13 (1908), 25-267, on JAS 192-201.

36 As : Neue Sammlung einiger Predigten über wichtige Glaubens-und Sittenlehren, 2 vols (Leipzig : Crusius, 1778).

37 August Wilhelm Iffland, Ueber meine theatralische Laufbahn, ed. Hugo Holstein, Deutsche Litteraturdenkmale des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts, 24 (Heilbronn: Henninger, 1886), 14.

38 Steinmetz, 196.

39 Schlichtegroll, 100.

40 SW, VIII, 221.

41 On JAS’s hymnody see John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology […] (London: Murray, 1892), 1009-1010; Inge Mager, ‘Die Rezeption der Lieder Paul Gerhardts in niedersächsischen Gesangbüchern’, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für niedersächsische Kirchengeschichte 80 (1982), 121-146, ref. 137-140.

42 Auf die Geburtstagsfeyer Georg des Dritten […]’, Vermischte Gedichte, II, 345-358.

43 Rutledge, 197-221.

44 Ludwig Schmidt, ‘Ein Brief August Wilhelm v. Schlegels an Metternich’ [recte Sickingen], Mitteilungen des Instituts f. Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 23 (1902), 490-495, ref. 495.

45 Reinhard Oberschelp, Niedersachsen 1760-1820. Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft, Kultur im Land Hannover und Nachbargebieten, Veröffentlichungen der historischen Kommission für Niedersachsen und Bremen, XXXV (Quellen und Untersuchungen zur allgemeinen Geschichte Niedersachsens in der Neuzeit, 4, i), 2 vols (Hildesheim: Lax, 1982), II, 261-264.

46 Hanover, Landeskirchliches Archiv, A 07 Nr. 0892.

47 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (5).

48 Ibid., II (5).

49 Ibid., XI, V (B).

50 Iffland, vi.

51 Ibid., 6.

52 Briefe, I, 65, II, 25f.

53 Enders, 83.

54 As she writes. SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX (21), 16.

55 Schlichtegroll, 119.

56 I have only been able to trace records of two sons who predeceased their parents, in Hanover: Georg Adolph Bonaventura, died 20 April 1782, and Friedrich Anton Heinrich, died 31 July 1784. Hanover, Ev. Luth. Stadtkirchenkanzlei. A third is Carl Christian August (1762-89), who died at Madras.

57 Karl August Moriz [sic] Schlegel, Auswahl einiger Predigten in Beziehung auf die bisherigen Zeitereignisse, und nach wichtigen Zeitbedürfnissen (Göttingen: Vandenhoek und Ruprecht, 1814).

58 Johann Karl Fürchtegott Schlegel, Kirchen- und Reformationsgeschichte von Norddeutschland und den Hannoverschen Staaten, 3 vols (Hanover: Helwing, 1828-32). AWS’s order I, xviii. A short characteristic of JAS III, 471, 486.

59 Johann Karl Fürchtegott Schlegel, Churhannöversches Kirchenrecht, 5 vols (Hanover: Hahn, 1801-06).

60 A brother of his father’s, Johann Karl Schlegel (born 1727), is said to have been an officer of engineers. Seeliger, 150.

61 Carl Schlegel served in the 14th Regiment, commanded first by Colonel Reinbold, then by Colonel von Wangenheim. Information about Hanoverians in the service of the East India Company in E. von dem Knesebeck, Geschichte der churhannoverschen Truppen in Gibraltar, Minorca und Ostindien (Hanover: Helwing, 1845), 123-183, ref. 182f.; also Oberschelp, Niedersachsen, I, 350-352.

62 SW, II, 13; Briefe, I, 6-9; see Rosane Rocher and Ludo Rocher, Founders of Western Indology. August Wilhelm von Schlegel and Henry Thomas Colebrooke in Correspondence 1820-1837, Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 84 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013), 1f.

63 Oskar Walzel, ‘Neue Quellen zur Geschichte der älteren romantischen Schule’, Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien 43 (1892), 289-296.

64 Friedrich Schlegel, Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (Heidelberg: Mohr u. Zimmer, 1808), xiif.

65 Rocher and Rocher, 30.

66 Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Early Visions (London, etc.: Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), 10.

67 Pastoris Joh. Adolph Schlegel Söhnlein August Wilhelm. Paten Frau Wilhelmine Sophie Pastor: Schlegel in Rehburg Eheliebste. Demoiselle Auguste Sophie Weissen Oberbürgermeister in Zerbst dritte Tochter’. Hanover, Ev. Lutherische Stadtkirchenkanzlei.

68 Comtesse Jean de Pange née Broglie, Auguste-Guillaume Schlegel et Madame de Staël. D’Après des documents inédits, doctoral thesis University of Paris (Paris : Albert, 1938), 458.

69 Enders, 169.

70 Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, Die Kunst das menschliche Leben zu verlängern, 2 parts (Vienna, Prague : Haas, 1797), II, 108.

71 August Wilhelm und Friedrich Schlegel’, Zeitgenossen. Biographieen und Charakteristiken, vol. 1 (Leipzig and Altenburg: Brockhaus, 1816), 80.

72 Walter Jesinghaus, ‘August Wilhelm von Schlegels Meinungen über die Ursprache’, doctoral thesis University of Leipzig (Düsseldorf: C. Jesinghaus, 1913), 41.

73 Indische Bibliothek, 3 vols (Bonn: Weber, 1820-30), II (1827), 17.

74 Vorlesungen über das akademische Studium, ed. Frank Jolles, Bonner Vorlesungen, 1 (Heidelberg: Stiehm, 1971), 49-52.

75 Ibid., 55; see also his ‘Abriß vom Studium der classischen Philologie’, published by Josef Körner, ‘Ein philologischer Studienplan August Wilhelm Schlegels’, Die Erziehung 7 (1932), 373-379.

76 For what follows see Franz Bertram, Geschichte des Ratsgymnasiums (vormals Lyceum) zu Hannover, Veröffentlichungen zur niedersächsischen Geschichte, 10 (Hanover: Gersbach, 1915), 256-284; also Hugo Eybisch, Anton Reiser. Untersuchungen zur Lebensgeschichte von K. Ph. Moritz und zur Kritik seiner Autobiographie, Probefahrten, 14 (Leipzig: Voigtländer, 1909), 18-53; Oberschelp, Niedersachsen, II, 183-191.

77 Zeitgenossen, 180; Enders, 181f.

78 Cf. Doris Olsen, Linda Bock, Ralf Lubnow, ‘Theaterleidenschaft’, in: ‘Eine Jugend in Niedersachsen im 18. Jahrhundert’, in: Silvio Vietta (ed.), Romantik in Niedersachsen. Der Beitrag des protestantischen Nordens zur Entstehung der literarischen Romantik in Deutschland (Hildesheim, Zurich, New York: Olms, 1986), 100-111.

79 Iffland, ix.

80 Zeitgenossen, 180.

81 quod DEVS avertat’, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (7).

82 Schlichtegroll, 104; Rutledge, 30.

83 August Wilhelm Schlegel, Hannoveranus, theol.’ Götz von Selle, Die Matrikel der Georg- August-Universität zu Göttingen 1734-1837, 2 vols, Veröffentlichungen der historischen Kommission für Hannover, Oldenburg, Braunschweig, Schaumburg-Lippe und Bremen, 9 (Hildesheim, Leipzig: Lax, 1937), I, 294.

84 in Göttingen dem Studium der Theologie durch den Reitz des Sprachstudiums entzogen’. Cornelia Bögel, ‘Fragment einer unbekannten autobiographischen Skizze aus dem Nachlass August Wilhelm Schlegels’, Athenäum, 22 (2012), 165-180, ref. 168.

85 Luigi Marino, Praeceptores Germaniae. Göttingen 1770-1820, Göttinger Universitätsschriften, A, 10 (Göttingen: Vandenhoek u. Ruprecht, 1995), 61.

86 Lettres inédites de Mme. de Staël, ed. Paul Usteri and Eugène Ritter (Paris: Hachette, 1903), 261.

87 Antony Grafton, What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007), 190-193; Gerhard Oexle, ‘Aufklärung und Historismus: Zur Geschichtswissenschaft in Göttingen um 1800’, in: Antje Middeldorf Kosegarten (ed.), Johann Domenicus Fiorillo und die romantische Bewegung um 1800 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 1997), 28-56.

88 Marino, 261; Horst Walter Blanke, Historiographiegeschichte als Historie, Fundamenta Historica, 3 (Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1991), 136.

89 Opuscula, 397-399.

90 Grafton, 190f.

91 Marino, 269-273.

92 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, VI (8).

93 Bögel (2012), 179.

94 Briefe, I, 10.

95 Ibid., 3f.

96 Achim Hölter,’August Wilhelm Schlegels Göttinger Mentoren’, in: York-Gothart Mix and Jochen Strobel (eds), Der Europäer August Wilhelm Schlegel. Romantischer Kulturtransfer—romantische Wissenswelten, Quellen und Forschungen 62 (296) (Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2010), 13-29, ref. 16f. Another source has AWS living first in the Alleestrasse 15, then in Heyne’s house, Papendiek 17, then as tutor, in the Buchstrasse (today’s Prinzenstrasse) 6. Ida Hakemeyer, Das Michaelis-Haus zu Göttingen (Göttingen: Kaestner, 1947), 20.

97 Paul Robinson Sweet, Wilhelm von Humboldt: A Biography, 2 vols (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1979-80), I, 35; Wilhelm von Humboldt, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Albert Leitzmann et al. for Königlich Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 17 vols in 18 (Berlin: Behr, 1903-36), XIV (=Tagebücher, I), 66-75.

98 Debetur autem ille studio Aug. Guil. Schlegel, Hannoverani, ad praeclarum laudem exquisitioris doctrinae eximiis ingenii et animi viribus annitentis’. P. Virgilii Maronis Opera, varietate lectionis et perpetua adnotatione illustrata a Christ. Gottl. Heyne […], 4 vols (Londini : Rickaby, 1793), IV, [vi].

99 Schlichtegroll, 83; Enders, 6.

100 Indische Bibliothek, II, 5f.

101 Selle, I, 321.

102 H. Scholte assumes that it is he. ‘August Wilhelm Schlegel in Amsterdam’, Jaarboek van het Genootschap Amstelodamum 41 (Amsterdam: de Bussy, 1949), 102-146, ref. 123.

103 Briefe, II, 3f.

104 Ibid., I, 625-627.

105 ‘jur., ex ac. Oxford.’ 1786. Selle, I, 295.

106 Broglie came in 1788 from Paris to Göttingen. Selle, I, 309.

107 As: An Historical Development of the Present Constitution of the Germanic Empire, 3 vols (London: Payne etc.; Oxford: Fletcher, 1790). Letters of Dornford to AWS SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX (6), 19-20; see also Oskar Walzel, ‘Neue Quellen zur Geschichte der älteren romantischen Schule’, Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien 42 (1891), 486-493, ref. 490.

108 Full title: Augusti Guilelmi Schlegel, Hannoverani, seminarii philologici sodalis, De geographia Homerica commentatio quae in concertatione civium academiae Georgiae Augustae IV Junii clc lccclxxxvii ab illustri philosophorum ordine proxime ad praemium accessisse pronuntiata est (Hanoverae: Schmid, 1788). Opuscula, 1‑144. The winner of the competition wrote on the geography of the Argonauts.

109 Opuscula, 3.

110 Göttinger Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen 109 (1789), 1089-1092 (not in SW).

111 A succinct account of their relationship in: Friedrich Schiller-August Wilhelm Schlegel. Der Briefwechsel, ed. Norbert Oellers (Cologne: DuMont, 2005), 5-15.

112 Briefe von und an Gottfried August Bürger. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte seiner Zeit. Aus dem Nachlasse Bürger’s und anderen, meist handschriftlichen Quellen hg. von Adolf Strodtmann, 4 vols (Berlin: Paetel, 1874), III, 211.

113 Ibid., 268.

114 Ibid., IV, 102.

115 York-Gothart Mix, Die deutschen Musenalmanache des 18. Jahrhunderts (Munich: Beck, 1987), 52.

116 SW, I, 7-27, 180-203, 328; II, 345-357, 360-364.

117 Hans Grantzow, Geschichte des Göttinger und des Vossischen Musenalmanachs, Berliner Beiträge zur germanischen und romanischen Philologie, 22 (Berlin : Ebering, 1909), 149-166.

118 SW, I, 328 ; II, 352-354. Cf. Emil Sulger-Gebing, Die Brüder A. W. und F. Schlegel in ihrem Verhältnisse zur bildenden Kunst, Forschungen zur neueren Litteraturgeschichte, 3 (Munich : Haushalter, 1897), 16f.

119 SW, IV, 169-171 ; see Wilhelm Schwartz, August Wilhelm Schlegels Verhältnis zur spanischen und portugiesischen Literatur, Romanistische Arbeiten, 3 (Halle : Niemeyer, 1914), 6f.

120 SW, I, 82-86.

121 Writing from Fort St George in Madras 1 February 1784. Oskar Walzel, ‘Neue Quellen zur Geschichte der älteren romantischen Schule’, Zeitschrift für die Österreichischen Gymnasien 43 (1892), 289-296, ref. 291-293.

122 Gedichte von Gottfried August Bürger’, Göttinger Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, 109 (1789), 1089.

123 Ibid., 1091.

124 Ueber Bürgers hohes Lied’, Neues Deutsches Museum 11 (Leipzig: Göschen, 1790), 205- 214, 306-348 (not SW).

125 Strodtmann, IV, 42.

126 SW, X, 3-56.

127 Ibid., 29.

128 Ibid., 4.

129 Ibid., 4-8.

130 Strodtmann, IV, 124.

131 SW, I, 8f.; Carl Alt, Schiller und die Brüder Schlegel (Weimar: Böhlau, 1904), 39f.; Josef Körner, Romantiker und Klassiker. Die Brüder Schlegel in ihren Beziehungen zu Schiller und Goethe (Berlin: Askanischer Verlag, 1924), 12f.

132 SW, X, 30-36, ref. 31.

133 Ibid., 32.

134 Ibid., 34.

135 Ibid., VII, 3-23, ref. 19.

136 Hans-J. Weitz, ‘"Weltliteratur" zuerst bei Wieland’, Arcadia 22 (1987), 206-208.

137 SW, IV, 9, 22, 41, 47, 51, 53, 57, 59, 63, 68, 74, 76.

138 SW, III, 199-230.

139 Ibid., 226f.

140 Ibid., 229.

141 Michael Bernays, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Schlegelschen Shakespeare (Leipzig : Hirzel, 1872), 89.

142 Frank Jolles, A.W. Schlegels Sommernachtstraum in der ersten Fassung vom Jahre 1789 nach den Handschriften herausgegeben, Palaestra, 244 (Göttingen : Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, 1967), 22-31.

143 Ibid., 28f.

144 The Dramatick Writings of Will. Shakspere […], 20 vols (London: Bell, 1788), V, 73.

145 Jolles, 120.

146 On Bouterwek and Schlegel see Achim Hölter, ‘August Wilhelm Schlegels Göttinger Mentoren’, esp. 20-22.

147 On Fiorillo see esp. Claudia Schrapel, Johann Domenicus Fiorillo. Grundlagen zur wissenschaftsgeschichtlichen Beurteilung der ‘Geschichte der zeichnenden Künste in Deutschland und den vereinigten Niederlanden’, Studien zur Kunstgeschichte, 155 (Hildesheim, Zurich, New York: Olms, 2004); on his relation to AWS see Hölter, ‘Mentoren’, 25-29.

148 Strodtmann, IV, 138, 216.

149 See Jochen Wagner, ‘Katalog der Druckgraphik und Handzeichnungen’, in : Manfred Boetzkes, Gerd Unverfehrt, Silvio Vietta (eds), Renaissance in der Romantik. Johann Domenicus Fiorillo, italienische Kunst und die Georgia Augusta. Druckgraphik und Handzeichnungen aus der Kunstsammlung der Universität Göttingen (Hildesheim : Roemer- Museum, 1993), 33-241.

150 Johann Dominik Fiorillo, Geschichte der zeichnenden Künste von ihrer Wiederauflebung bis auf die neuesten Zeiten […], 5 vols (Göttingen : Rosenbusch, 1798-1808), I, xx.

151 Letter of Fiorillo to AWS 7 October 1803, Schrapel, 489-490.

152 Hakemeyer, 19f.

153 Caroline, I, 77.

154 Ibid., I, 182, 688.

155 Briefe, I, 10.

156 Bögel (2012), 179.

157 Caroline, I, 686f.

158 Ibid., 225.

159 Cf. Eschenburg’s letter to AWS of 30 April 1791, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX, 7 (84), which makes it clear that Eschenburg was behind AWS’s appointment and makes Scholte’s (1949) remarks on this subject redundant (105f). Scholte otherwise the main source of information on AWS in Amsterdam.

160 Walzel (1891), 490.

161 KA, XXIII, 19.

162 Letters (in extract) of Muilman Sr. and Willem Muilman to AWS in Scholte (1949), 134-146.

163 Walzel (1891), 487f.

164 SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XIX, 12 (21).

165 Ibid. (15).

166 Caroline, I, 191.

167 Ibid., 195-199.

168 Bögel (2012), 179.

169 Phlegyasque miserrimus omnes admonet.
O ich Tor ! Ich rasender Tor ! Und rasend ein jeder,
Der, auf des Weibes Rat horchend, den Freiheitsbaum pflanzt !
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Gedenkausgabe der Werke, Briefe und Gespräche, ed. Ernst Beutler, 3rd edn, 27 vols (Zurich: Artemis, 1986 [1949]), II, 489.

170 Einleitung in die allgemeine Weltgeschichte’, SLUB Dresden, Mscr. Dresd. e. 90, XXVIII, esp. [64-68].

171 Caroline, I, 324f.

172 Ibid., 242.

173 Ibid., 250. Goethe’s words in Gedenkausgabe, XII, 289.

174 Ibid., 274.

175 Ibid., I, 302, 695; KA, XXIII, 431.

176 Caroline, I, 694f.

177 Ibid., 656.

178 Ibid., 650.

179 Ibid., 292, 657.

180 Ibid., 290.

181 KA, XXIII, 89, 416.

182 Caroline, I, 656.

183 Ibid., 288.

184 Sweet, I, 98.

185 Caroline, I, 702.

186 Ibid., 696.

187 Ibid., 298.

188 KA, XXIII, 424,

189 Caroline, I, 309.

190 Cf. Muilman’s letter of 19 July, 1793, Scholte (1949), 134f.

191 Caroline, I, 703; Erich Schmidt, the editor of Caroline’s letters, Prussian professor and civil servant, observed in 1913 that such irregularities ‘would not happen today’

192 Ibid., 704.

193 KA, XXIII, 192, 455.

194 Strodtmann, IV, 125, 139.

195 KA, XXIII, 19.

196 Briefe, I, 14.

197 Full title : (Anon.), Joachim Rendorps geheime Nachrichten zur Aufklärung der Vorfälle während des letzten Krieges zwischen England und Holland, aus dem Holländ. mit erläuternden Anmerkungen (Leipzig : Heinsius, 1793) ; KA, XXIII, 412.

198 KA, XXIII, 75.

199 Now in the Freies Deutsches Hochstift, Frankfurt am Main. Cf. Freies Deutsches Hochstift Frankfurter Goethe-Museum. Katalog der Gemälde, ed. Sabine Michaelis (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1982), 162f. The new edition of the catalogue retracts the attribution to Tischbein on the grounds of the paint quality and dates it at around 1800, the artist unidentified. This being outside of my sphere of competence, I leave the matter open. Freies Deutsches Hochstift—Frankfurter Goethe-Museum. Die Gemälde. ‘Denn was wäre die Welt ohne Kunst?’. Bestandskatalog, ed. Petra Maisak and Gerhard Kölsch (Frankfurt am Main: Freies Deutsches Hochstift—Frankfurter Goethe-Museum, 2011), 365-367.

200 KA, XXIII, 14.

201 For an account of Friedrich Schlegel’s early development see Enders, 200-277 ; Franz Futterknecht, ‘Zur Herkunft romantischen Geistes im Werk Friedrich Schlegels— Blumenbachs "Bildungstrieb" und das Elternhaus in Kurhannover’, in : Romantik in Niedersachsen, 175-232 ; Harro Zimmermann, Friedrich Schlegel oder die Sehnsucht nach Deutschland (Paderborn, etc. : Schöningh, 2009), 30-37.

202 KA, XXIII, 104f.

203 Ibid., 51.

204 Ibid., 33, 176.

205 Ibid., 198.

206 Ibid., 211.

207 Ibid., 51.

208 Ibid., 185.

209 Ibid., 138.

210 Ibid., 218.

211 Ibid., 160.

212 Ibid., 227.

213 Scholte, 141-146.

Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 August Wilhelm Schlegel, De geographia Homerica (Hanover, 1788). Title page.
Crédits © and by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, CC BY-NC 4.0
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2922/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Titre Fig. 2 Portrait drawing of August Wilhelm Schlegel as a young man, by unknown artist, undated [early 1790s].
Crédits © and by kind permission of Hans-Joachim Dopfer, all rights reserved.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2922/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k
Titre Fig. 3 Portrait in oils of August Wilhelm Schlegel, by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein [1793].
Crédits Image in the public domain.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/2922/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 91k

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