Supplementary Appendix 241.1

The correspondence between Fichte, Johanne Fichte, and Schelling
July–November 1799:
Establishing a Jena “colony” in Berlin [*]


(1) Fichte to Schelling in Jena: Berlin, 20 July 1799. [1]

Berlin, 20 July 1799

I did not want to write you, my dear friend, before learning something more specific about those things of interest to both of us. That is the reason for my previous silence.

I do not yet know anything certain concerning myself. My arrival caused rather peculiar stirrings in the government and among the general public. [2] Certain ministers are not particularly well disposed toward me. Although certain necessary considerations have hitherto kept me from requesting more specific declarations concerning what position will be taken with respect to my presence here, I will certainly do so next month and then make the appropriate decisions.

Very specific inquiries allow me to tell you that things are almost inconceivably unfavorable with respect to the medical institutes, [3] e.g., with respect to the Charité, as the largest hospital here; and that, for example, the prophet there would be viewed as a god here. As far as anatomy is concerned, however, Berlin is without equal insofar as one has the opportunity to work there oneself, to prepare medications with excellent guidance, and so on. Moreover the resident anatomist here, Walther, has a solid understanding of his discipline.

For the rest, however, the even halfway intelligent people are rather thinly sown here. I myself see only Schlegel and his few acquaintances; nor am I likely any time soon to seek out more people than that. The administration is — — What can I say? By comparison, the Weimar administration is steadfast, resolute, consistent, and courageous. For example, my presence caused a certain element of panic fright, and probably still does.

Stay well, dear friend. Always yours,


My letters are being opened. I am assuming this one will not be, but do be so kind as to examine the cover very carefully.

(2) Schelling to Fichte in Berlin: Jena, 29 July 1799. [4]

Jena, 29 July 1799

Let me thank you, most esteemed friend, for your news.

I cannot believe — and indeed, my belief is all the more firm given the slack nature of the government there — that anyone will undertake anything publicly against you in Berlin.

This cowardice is perhaps trying to use intentionally disseminated rumors to prompt you yourself to do something that might then serve as an excuse, and it seems to me that on your own part it would be conceding too much even to inquire whether one wants you to stay. —

Your friends would like you not to leave unexposed the shamefulness of the diplomatic deduction with respect to your dismissal that appeared in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, since the latter’s shameful behavior has been amplified to the point of public lies.

You doubtless recall that several days after your letter was in his hands, Voigt told Paulus that absolutely nothing had yet been decided with respect to the matter; — and now the initial decree had allegedly already been made when your letter arrived! [5]

Your news concerning the anatomical educational possibilities in Berlin would easily persuade me if others had not already assured me that the instructor there, although undeniably skilled, is also an extraordinarily discourteous and unfriendly person from whom, if one genuinely wants to learn anything, one must put up with a great deal the likes of which I unfortunately cannot tolerate, such that ultimately I have at least the better opportunity of pursuing these studies here. (I have also heard that after studying in Berlin, Alex. Humboldt had to start from the beginning here under Loder).

Although, of course, one would have to try first, the main consideration is that I have abandoned the trip to Swabia, which will enable me to remain here this winter and pursue solely my own studies here without having to lecture, and to pursue several things besides anatomy as well, something I cannot do in Berlin not least because, merely in order to live there, and without gaining anything more, I would have to write, whereas here I can still take care of next summer, when I must write if my entire project is not to collapse. [6]

Judge for yourself whether both your and my future project is not better served if I limit myself with respect to what is more immediate plans for the sake of implementing later more distant ones. — I will not be able to rest until I have completed what I have set out for myself. — In the meantime, there is one more outstanding matter. I already mentioned to you the prospect of being able to pursue this through outside support. [7]

I have in the meantime taken steps that will decide whether that is indeed possible. If it succeeds, I will not have to worry about these particular considerations — and will be with you next winter.

In the meantime, stay well. — Since I cannot express to you the sentiments with which I think of you, I will simply close.

Ever yours.

(3) Fichte to Johanne Fichte in Jena: Berlin, 2 August 1799. [8]

I will without a doubt be staying in Berlin this winter. . . . If I were to leave Berlin soon, my persecutors would say I had been driven away. Moreover a stay in a place this large will invariably, sooner or later, be quite advantageous for my reputation. I am totally secure here. I spoke yesterday with the cabinet Rath Beyme — i.e., a man who works with the king every day and is the thinking part of this lord — and informed him of my situation. I told him quite sincerely that I came here with the intention of staying and was seeking security insofar as I was about to have my family join me as well. He assured me that, far from desiring to thwart these plans, one would instead consider it an honor and pleasure were I to take up residence here; and that the king was allegedly unwavering with respect to certain principles touched on by this question etc.

Hence am firmly resolved to remain here, at least until Easter, and it is up to you to follow me as soon as you can. As far as I can see, you could at the very least stay here with me in my present, albeit cramped, accommodations. My plans are as follows. Friedrich Schlegel, who is living together with a very interesting Jewess, Madam Veit, about whom I have already written you (just between us: it is a secret), intends to move to Jena this winter; I can neither desire nor allow this to happen, for then I would be utterly alone in Berlin.

Hence I would like to see him stay here. For reasons that are obvious to me, however, he can do so only if Wilhelm Schlegel comes to Berlin with his family, and I am working on bringing about precisely that. If this succeeds, then we, i.e., the two Schlegels, Schelling (whom one might also get to move here), and we will constitute one family, rent a spacious logis, keep a cook, etc., and I think one could live quite well thus. Do what you can to get Madam Schlegel to agree, to whom I am writing with this same post.

What do you think about this plan? Just do not let yourself be intimidated by Madam Schlegel. She is not really all that bad a woman; and if she makes even the smallest exception for herself, I think I can count on receiving at least enough respect from her, from Friedrich Schlegel, and from his lady friend to keep her within the proper bounds. Madam Veit is goodness and gentleness itself, and will doubtless become good friends with you. . . .

My regards to Hardenberg, and please give him my thanks as well. I will perhaps visit his relatives if I can be sure doing so will not raise too much suspicion.

Both Madam Fichte (in several letters to her husband, e.g., 1 November 1799, 13 November 1799) and, according to Schelling (see below), Wilhelm Schlegel were opposed to Fichte’s plan.

(4) Schelling to Fichte in Berlin: Jena, 9 August 1799. [9]

Jena, 9 August 179

Dearest friend,

you have doubtless learned from my inadvertently delayed letter that your wife misinformed you concerning my trip to Swabia. What I wrote you in the letter was the result of lengthy consideration and calculation. I do not see how, given the probable absence of outside support, I can spend even six months, not to speak of a more lengthy period of time, working comfortably on my project (which is necessary in any case) if I do not secure the means to do so within the next six months. According to my calculations, however, a winter sojourn in Berlin, not counting the journey itself or the expenses one incurs anywhere to pay for instruction, would cost at least between 300 and 400 Thlr., whereas I can live here on 200.

These conclusions are prompted not by any consideration of entertainment — for how should I not live more entertained in Berlin and in your company than in Jena and these surroundings — but solely by a consideration of my earlier plan, which (and of this you can be assured) sooner or later will intersect your own and make me even more welcome to you than now, when I am still only half what I desire to be. But I wrote the first and am writing this letter as well in order that you yourself may be the judge.

Hence see what you think and let me know whether you see any solution. One solution would be — even though it has already been cut off — if according to your own expanded plan a house of Jena colonists might coalesce in Berlin where all of us could then live more cheaply; unfortunately, your plan ran aground not because of the unwillingness of the wife, but of the husband, who insists such is absolutely impossible for reasons which he himself will doubtless explain to you in a letter.

I myself am still completely free. I was supposed to rent a logis with Tieck but have not yet done so; [10] in a word, I have kept everything open so that, as soon as that particular hindrance is eliminated (which, as I wrote you, is still at least possible), I might be able to hasten to you. [11]

I hope to have a definitive answer in a few days. In the meantime, I am glad to hear at least that you are secure in Berlin; without assuring you of such in words, let me ask you to continue to believe what you have previously believed of me, namely, that I will at the very least never depart from you and your plans even if I might be prevented from fulfilling your wishes for the moment.

Stay well, with cordial regards from your


( 5) Schelling touched on a different possibility of working together in his letter to Fichte from Jena a month later, on 12 September 1799. [12]

I have heard that I might perhaps be seeing you. Let me entreat that you write and let me know definitely, since if such not be the case, I will journey to see you during the holidays. My plan has sufficiently progressed. I have, without any external support, for now been put in a position to go to Bamberg for the summer. Röschlaub is asking that I lecture there privately, something that, as you can easily imagine, is very welcome to me. I intend to spend the following year in Vienna and then see what develops after that. [13]


So, I am hoping to be completely finished in 1 1/2 to 2 years, and we would have to postpone this plan at least that long. [14]

But will you be staying in Berlin, and might it not be possible for us to live together at least this coming summer?

(6) Schelling was still talking about a “Jena colony” in November 1799, when he wrote to Fichte about forming such a colony, if not in Berlin, then elsewhere; he writes from Jena to Fichte in Berlin on 1 November 1799. [15]

Yet another request is the following, namely, that you come here very soon; it is urgent that we consider actually carrying out our plan. And then the question whether we could perhaps live together this coming summer 1800. My own plans do not necessarily require that I go as far as Vienna; I can accomplish the same thing in Bamberg and Würzburg.

Hence, in order to work undisturbed on the implementation of the plan, I would initially definitely stay in Franconia, and would like nothing more than that you yourself similarly take up residence there. Working together would unite us inseparably forever. Since I am completely free — and yearn for the moment when I can leave Jena — I can dedicate myself anew solely to our shared project.

I do not know whether anything is keeping you tied to Berlin, but I would think that you could live more undisturbed and in some respects also more pleasantly, especially if, as is quite possible, a Jena colony should follow us there. Politically you doubtless have nothing to worry about in Bamberg. Röschlaub has some influence among the ministers, and even wants me to lecture privately there.


[*] Map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete (Leipzig 1937).

Although the originals of Fichte’s letters to Schelling have been preserved, the originals of Schelling’s letters to Fichte seem not to have been, which is why their subsequent publication has relied on the 1856 edition Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel. Concerning the possible losses and problems, see Fuhrmans 2:173n1.

The letters included here concern almost exclusively Fichte’s attempt to reconvene, as it were, the Jena colony in Berlin after his own departure from Jena in late June 1799. Concerning the correspondence and esp. the philosophical relationship between Fichte and Schelling immediately subsequent to this period, see The Philosophical Rupture Between Fichte and Schelling: Selected Texts and Correspondence (1800–1802), ed. Michael G. Vater and David W. Wood, Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy (Albany 2012). Back.

[1] Sources: Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel, 3–4 (not 33 as in Schmidt, [1913], 1:740); Fichte Briefwechsel (1930), 136–37; Gesamtausgabe III/4, 18; Fuhrmans 2:173–75. Back.

[2] Fichte arrived in Berlin on 3 July 1799. Back.

[3] Schelling’s work on his own philosophy of nature had prompted his desire to study medicine further, something he had already done to a certain extent earlier in Leipzig before coming to Jena. This desire contributed to his journey to Bamberg the following summer. Back.

[4] Schmidt, (1913), 1:740 incorrectly dates this letter to August. — Sources: Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel, 4–6; Fichte Briefwechsel (1930) 2:137–39; Gesamtausgabe III/4, 24–25; Fuhrmans 2:180–81. Back.

[5] See the text of this announcement in supplementary appendix 215a.1. Back.

[6] I.e., to study medicine for a time. Back.

[7] In Bamberg. Back.

[8] Sources: incomplete (abridged) in Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s Leben und literarischer Briefwechsel, ed. Immanuel Hermann Fichte, 2nd ed. [Leipzig 1862] 1:315; fewer deleted passages in Fichte Briefwechsel (1930) 139–40; full letter in Gesamtausgabe III/4, 27–28. Back.

[9] Sources: Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel, 7–8; Fichte Briefwechsel (1930) 2:141–42; full letter in Gesamtausgabe III/4, 35–; Fuhrmans 2:182–83. Back.

[10] Ludwig Tieck visited Jena for two weeks in July 1799, during which time he stayed with the Schlegels at Leutragasse 5, but would not move there with his family until 17 October, taking an apartment in a house opposite the former intersection of Grietgasse (earlier: Grethgasse) and Fischergasse in Jena (Peer Kösling, Die Frühromantiker in Jena, 44–45; also Bernhard Ritter, Führer durch Jena und Umgegend [Jena 1885], xiv) Here the location on the Stadtplan von Jena (1909), © Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung (Leutragasse with no. 5 at top left):


Concerning Schelling’s early place of residence in Jena, see his letter to his parents on 12 November 1798 (letter 207d), note 3, and Friedrich, Wilhelm, and Caroline’s letter to Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer on 6 July1798 (letter 202a), note 7.

As it was, Schelling did not move in with the Tiecks when they arrived in October, but rather presumably found lodgings in what was known as the Asverus house next to the Hotel zum Bären near Lutherplatz in Jena. Schelling mentions his move in a letter to his father on 29 July 1799 (Fuhrmans 2:182), urging him to come to a quick decision in allowing his brother Karl Schelling to study in Jena, since he, Schelling, would have to take Karl’s presence into consideration with respect to rent. Caroline mentions this building in a letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (not 23 November 1801 as in Kösling, Die Frühromantiker in Jena, 83n88) (letter 331), when she herself is about to rent an apartment there. Back.

[11] What happened was the exact opposite of what Fichte was trying to bring about. Friedrich and Dorothea moved to Jena that autumn, as did Tieck and his family — all from Berlin — and Schelling remained until leaving during the summer of 1800 for Bamberg, as did Caroline (and Auguste), with Wilhelm going briefly to Leipzig. Back.

[12] Sources: Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel, 12–13; Fichte Briefwechsel (1930) 2:160–61; Gesamtausgabe III/4, 71; Fuhrmans 2:190–91. Back.

[13] Map: W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 (1926).

Johann Diederich Gries was hoping Schelling would accompany him to Vienna in the autumn of 1800; before Gries arrived in Bamberg, however, he learned of Auguste’s death, and on his arrival in Bamberg was surprised to find Wilhelm and Caroline still there. In any event, because he was unable to persuade Schelling to travel on with him to Vienna, and disinclined to travel alone, Gries returned to Jena with Schelling. That is, Schelling abandoned this plan to go to Vienna and instead returned to Jena. Back.

[14] I.e., the plan to start a new journal. Back.

[15] Sources: Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel, 24; Fichte Briefwechsel (1930) 2:187; Gesamtausgabe III/4, 134; Fuhrmans 2:203. Back.

Translation © 2013 Doug Stott