Concerning Schelling’s honorary doctorate from Landshut in 1802
and the possibility of his teaching in Bavaria
The university in Landshut had only just been established in 1800. Andreas Röschlaub, who had received an appointment and remained there until 1826, when the university was moved to Munich, where he also went, wrote to Schelling from Landshut on 15 May 1802 (Plitt 1:368–69; Fuhrmans 2:402–3 (map: Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):
Landshut, 15 May 1802
I arrived here — in fairly good shape — the day before yesterday. I will begin my lectures on nosology, therapy, and clinical medicine during the next few days.
Your system will be intensively studied here, that I can assure you. I have already encountered many of its friends. The medical faculty here, which includes quite excellent men, has such resolute admiration for your merits that it ardently desires that it not be unpleasing to you if it sends you a diploma for the title of Doctor of Medicine. This wish is unanimous, and I am to be the organ that brings you news of this decision.
I doubt not that you will grant your permission to this our wish (which was voiced by my colleagues even before my own arrival) and, as a sign of your pleasure, might as soon as possible provide the following:
a) your first and last names;
c) the teachers under whom and the places at which you studied.
The celebration of the establishment and endowment of the Landshut university will take place on 4 June. Our prince elector has declared the university here to be permanent, provided the endowment with an annual subsidy of 15,000 Gulden revenue, all sorts of buildings, gardens, and a hospital for its clinic and much more. In a word, what he did deserves a solemn celebratory acknowledgement.
At this celebration, the faculty of each department will grant a doctorate to that particular person whose performance they consider to have the highest merit for their discipline.
What do you think of all this? I suspect you are quite pleased, though I will await your answer, which I hope will come as soon as possible. — I will have considerable opportunity here to incline young men toward your system and — — — [?]
You understand me.
But please do write me quickly. I hope you will not regret it. Stay well.
Schelling wrote to his parents in Murrhardt outside Stuttgart from Jena on 8 July 1802 (Plitt 1:372–73; Fuhrmans 2:408–9; map: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Besetztere und illuminierte Landkarte von Deutschland, from the Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate xlv):
. . . I must tell you about the honorific acknowledgement I was recently shown, namely, the quite unexpected award of the degree of Doctor of Medicine by the medical faculty at Landshut on the occasion of the university’s dedicatory celebration. The faculty, moreover, had already decided on such even before Röschlaub joined their ranks.
If for your pleasure you would like to publicize this honor in our home newspapers, you can use the announcement Landshut itself published in scholarly journals, and which goes approximately as follows:
“Landshut, 5 June. Insofar as the medical faculty here was of the conviction that it, for its part, could not contribute to the celebrations in which the Ludwig Maximilian University has been engaged since yesterday any more appropriately than by awarding the Doctorate of Medicine to Herr F. W. J. S[chelling], Dr. and professor of philosophy in Jena, in view of his past and future merits with regard to establishing the scientific foundations of medicine, said Herr [F. W. J. Schelling] was indeed most commendably awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine today by the current dean of the faculty, Herr Aloys Winter, before a large and respected assembly”.
Two days later, the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 109 (Saturday, 10 July 1802) 888 published the following notice:
The medical faculty in Landshut has awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine to Herr Professor F. J. Schelling of Jena, prompted by their conviction of his merits with respect to establishing the scientific foundations of the study of medicine.
Röschlaub’s letter to Schelling from Landshut on 2 August 1802 illuminates how the notion of Schelling receiving an appointment in Bavaria was beginning to take shape. Since Caroline and Schelling’s plans to travel to Italy in the autumn of 1802 and spend the winter in Rome already attest Schelling’s desire to leave Jena, Röschlaub’s remarks here concerning the possibility of a position in Bavaria likely also got their attention (Plitt 1:377–81; Fuhrmans 2:415–418):
The speech the dean of our faculty had published with respect to your doctoral promotion created an enormous sensation here among both professors and students. Even though the students here are generally not from elsewhere, they nonetheless already number almost 500, and I hope that number will soon increase considerably.
So many minds, including many quite capable ones, sense how far behind they are, but without knowing how. The professors of philosophy are taking all too keen note of that and are anticipating some rather unpleasant consequences if they themselves do not move forward. The university trustees in Munich are becoming especially aware of you, and I hope that at the end of next month, when I will be traveling to Munich myself, I can take a significant step toward attaining my most ardent wish, namely, to live and work personally with you. I will, however, address future physicians from the angle of speculative physics in the larger sense and physiology. . . .
Even assuming you were to be appointed as a teacher in the natural sciences or however it is called, that still gives you the right to lecture in any of the philosophical areas. A professor is to lecture gratis in the area of his appointment, and for a fixed salary of the sort found in Bavaria, there is no problem giving such a course. . .
A desire to become acquainted with your system has been awakened in Bavaria, and you can imagine how many students your lectures would attract. The appointment to a position in the natural sciences would guarantee you all the more honorarium for private lectures.
But at least another year must past before I can see my wish realized, since at present the university, which was only recently moved here permanently, is having to expend enormous sums for buildings and other installations. The anticipated possession of (presumably) Bamberg, Würzburg, Eichstädt, Ansbach, Ulm, Augsburg with the accompanying territories etc. is costing the country a great deal. The previous administration utterly ruined the finances, and Bavaria (the university trustees) only wants to appoint men if it can honor them with a handsome salary. . .
Most of the professors who might oppose your appointment will not remain here long in any case, and as far as the trustees are concerned the opposition of many is no reason at all, or rather: their contra is sooner a pro.
Should you ever teach here, I estimate the number of students very high indeed. It can very easily gradually increase to 1000.