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1782



Of  the January 13th, 1782, premiere of the play 'Robbers', an eye witness had the following to report:

"The theater was like a madhouse with people rolling their eyes, clenching their fists, with outcries from the audience. Strangers fell into each other's arms in sobs, women became almost unconscious and had to leave the theater. It was a general uproar, a chaos, out of the midst of which rose a new creation."

In his own words to Dalberg, Schiller commented that, if Germany should find in him a new dramatist, the history of that development would have begun at that premiere. Schiller's earnings from the first staging of his play merely covered his travel expenses to Mannheim!

It would be appropriate to provide a brief description of the plot of this play for better understanding:

Unlike Goethe's 'Goetz von Berlichingen', the 'Robbers' is set in Schiller's time rather than into a remote age. It describes the fate of a promising, talented young nobleman, Karl von Moor, who, through the intrigues of his brother Franz, becomes estranged to his family and who ten takes up the life of a leader of a band of robbers. Like Goetz, Karl von Moor punishes crime and arrogance and assists the oppressed. Ultimately, when there is a price on his head, he urges a man in need to hand him over to the justice system.

The 'Schwaebische Musenalmanach auf das Jahr 1782' featured a poem by Schiller entitled 'Laura' which described Schiller's passion for his (totally unaware!) landlady Luise Dorothea Vischer. Schiller's Anthology offered 83 poems, mostly by Schiller, in addition to some poems by his fellow students Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven, Johann Christoph Friedrich Haug, Johann Wilhelm Petersen and Ludwig Schubart (the son of Daniel Schubart) as well as by Professor Jakob Friedrich Abel and others. Schiller's use of many pseudonyms suggested a large array of co-editors and contributors. It also contained the 'Laura-Odes', the 'romantic' source of which has already been mentioned above.

The 'Wirttembergische Repertorium der Literatur' contained Schiller's anonymous review of his 'Robbers'. A Frankfurt critic subsequently protested against Schiller's own, harsh, self- review! The issue also contained Schiller's philosophical dialogues, 'Der Spaziergang unter den Linden' and 'Der Juengling und der Greis', and his essay 'Ueber das gegenwaertige teutsche Theater' (on the present-day German theater).

The cause for Duke Karl Eugen's forbidding Schiller to write stems from the so-called 'Graubuendner Protest': Already on December 13, 1781, an article entitled 'An den Verfasser des Schauspiels: die Raeuber' (to the author of the play: the Robbers) appeared in the 'Hamburg. Address-Comtoir-Nachrichten'. This article complained about the play's alleged badmouthing of that Swiss Canton, which, indeed, was featured in the plays Act II, Scene 3, when Schiller refers to Graubuenden as 'Athen der heutigen Gauner' (the Athen's of today's crooks), and 'hohe Schule der Spitzbuben' (academy of villains), both of which had their source in a very unpopular Graubuenden-native Karlsschule supervisor. Towards the end of April, the Chur (Swiss) magazine 'Churer Zeitschrift', reprinted this article by adding an 'Apologie fuer Buenden gengen die Beschuldigungen eines auswaertigen Komoedienschreibers' (Apology of Buenden against the allegations of a foreign playwright). This Apology was then played into the hands of the Duke. When the Duke forbade Schiller to write, Schiller submitted a petition to the Duke, which was refused and with the refusal of which further petitions were also forbidden.

The 'Fiesco Fiasco' on Schiller's arrival in Mannheim was mainly created by the play's initial weaknesses and by Schiller's 'dialect' reading of it in front of the Mannheim actors. Dalberg may subsequently have used these reasons as a good excuse not to right away support a Wuerttemberg deserter.

Schiller's acquaintance with Mme. von Wolzogen went back to June, 1781. In May, 1782, she accompanied him on his second journey to Mannheim and, in the summer of 1782, she offered him her Bauerbach property as a refuge in case of difficulties, particularly once she learned of his two-week prison stay.

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