Karl August Böttiger and Caroline’s fictitious “remarks”
in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie
Among the logistics accompanying Caroline and Wilhelm Schlegel’s divorce petition (letter/document 371), a personal appearance before the Weimar High Consistory, normally required in such cases, was one requirement they were determined to avoid, and not merely because Wilhelm no longer resided in Jena in any case.
To wit, the High Consistory included two members who had become resolute adversaries of the Jena Romantics and of the regnant philosophy of Idealism, Karl August Böttiger and Johann Gottfried Herder.  Significantly or not, nowhere do Caroline, Wilhelm, and Schelling mention these members by name in their correspondence, although much of the correspondence during the autumn of 1802 and especially the initial months of 1803 addresses with increasing anxiety the pesky issue of this appearance before the High Consistory despite the efforts even of Goethe and Christian Gottlob Voigt to direct the consistory and especially the lawyers (who turned out to have caused the most irksome delays) otherwise.
Caroline, Wilhelm, and Schelling, however, were aware that even as the divorce petition was being considered and the issue with the consistory still unresolved, Böttiger was writing and publishing severe and even personally insulting critiques of the Schlegels and Schelling, and in part even of Goethe. Quite apart from Böttiger’s suppressed review of Ion in early January 1802, Caroline and Wilhelm had every reason to be apprehensive about appearing as supplicants before this consistory, for on 25 January 1803 Böttiger, doubtless still smarting from the experience with his review, which was never published, took revenge in the following “Retrospect of German Literature” for the year 1802 in the British periodical The Monthly Magazine, that is, just as Schelling was relating to Wilhelm on 21 January 1803 (letter 374d) the good news that the “non-appearance” had indeed been granted, not realizing that complications would arise yet again.
The anxiety accompanying the correspondence between Schelling, Wilhelm, and Goethe concerning the appearance before the consistory was doubtless nourished in part by this awareness that Böttiger remained a journalistically active adversary of all three men, an awareness that comes to expression in an article with “remarks” — essentially a fictitious “letter to the editors,” Schelling and Hegel — in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie that challenges Böttiger’s integrity not only as a member of the consistory, but also as a schoolteacher.
This article, prompted presumably indirectly by the article in the Monthly Magazine and more directly by a footnote Böttiger published similarly in January 1803 in Der Neue Teutsche Merkur, was published in the final issue of the journal, which appeared at the Easter book fair of 1803, just before Schelling and Caroline would leave Jena forever, that is, at a safe distance from the High Consistory after the successful resolution of the non-appearance question. Although there is no definitive documentation citing Caroline as the author, for some reason Böttiger himself firmly believed such and even referred to her as the author of the “pasquinade” in correspondence (see below).
Below are the two documents: first, Böttiger’s “Retrospect of German Literature” (excerpted), then Caroline’s article and fictitious “remarks” along with Böttiger’s footnote in the Merkur.
II. Karl August Böttiger’s “Retrospect of German Literture” (25 January 1803) 
|646| In the hour of unstrained social festivity, the character and genius of an individual is most openly displayed: and in judging of the genius and character of a nation, the surest guide and criterion are the effusions of the poet, and other works of polite literature.
Scientific knowledge may pass unchanged from one people to the other; and therefore it neither forms, nor can be considered as a proper index of, national character. But poetry cannot be thus transmitted by transplantation or ingrafting from one nation to the other. Even when the poets of one country, with the utmost diligence, purposely endeavour to give a faithful transfusion of the masterly productions of foreign bards, they involuntarily and unconsciously impress, upon what was intended for an exact copy, the character of their national genius.
Hence it appears, that correct views of the state of fine literature among a people may, at the same time, be considered as furnishing important data, whence we may estimate the value of its character. In the course of this Retrospect we shall frequently have occasion to recur to these truths: but it may be of use to have exhibited them in a conspicuous place, on entering upon the subject, and thus have pointed out, to the reflecting reader, a station whence he might enjoy a more general and interesting view of the whole, and himself deduce from his observations results which may perhaps have escaped the writer of this article.
Before we can speak in a satisfactory manner of German poetry, it will be necessary first to give a glance at German philosophy; for the Germans are become so philosophical, or at least ratiocinating a people, that they compose even good or bad poems in proportion as they embrace and follow a rational or absurd system of philosophizing. This seems a strange assertion; but it is true; as the following statement will evince.
The doctrines of that profound thinker, Kant, had occasioned a general revolution in the reigning ideas. A German has called philosophy the chemistry of reason. If this definition be correct, Kant’s critical method of philosophy may almost be considered as the great universal menstruum,  which has not yet been found out by the experiments of physical chemistry.
The systems of his predecessors, and with them thousands of errors in every department of human knowledge, vanished before the irresistible force of his conclusions. The unavoidable consequence of this was a general anarchy and confusion; all preceding theories having tumbled down like baseless fabrics. Kant himself, when he had grown old, seemed terrified at the effects of his doctrines: and he, the victorious destroyer of all systems, now began to build one himself: but his earlier doctrines produced the same effect which it is expected the chemical universal menstruum, when discovered, will produce: for it will dissolve the vessel itself, in which it is collected from the still.
Kant’s former scholars applied his principles to the probation of his own system; and it could not stand the test. His authority now vanished; and a host of younger literati, whose chief merit consisted in having understood the critical philosophy of Kant, now looked down upon him with a kind of superciliousness, and hatched systems of their own, several of which, as, for instance, that of a certain Fichte, and that of a certain |647| Schelling, taught the most absurd idealism.
If an idealist act consistently, he must necessarily become proud and arrogant; for what deference needs he to pay to beings which he considers to be only the creations of his own brain. And in fact, proud and arrogant were the German idealists in so high a degree, that they drew upon themselves the odium, and, what is worse, the ridicule of the public.
But unfortunately they were seated in the professional chairs of the universities. Hundreds of youths heard their assertions thence trumpeted forth as the most sublime truths; and many of them adopted the most ridiculous opinions as the revelations of profound wisdom, and considered the arrogance of the teachers as a proof of the sublimity of their genius, and the strength of their minds, which they endeavoured to emulate.
What they had learned while attending the idealistical lectures, they applied to the other sciences; and Germany suddenly had to witness the equally scandalous and ridiculous farce — a troop of beardless boys schooling the men — and asserting, with the greatest confidence, that whatever had hitherto been done in any of the sciences (the mathematics only excepted) was nothing but wretched patchwork: — they would first introduce sense and order. 
This confusion likewise pervaded the region of poetry. A couple of coolheaded idealists,  but not possessed of the brightest talents, brought forth a Theory of Poetry, the fundamental, though indeed not the avowed, principle of which was, that nothing was sublime and excellent in poetry but that which they would produce.
They applied this theory to the already existing masterly works of the poets of Germany and other countries: and when they found that it did not agree with them, instead of becoming mistrustful of the solidity of the superstructure they had raised, they did not hesitate to declare these works to be wretched productions. Innumerable are the absurdities which, in consequence, they boldly held forth with the tone of the highest authority.
For instance, they said, that a work of art should have no other aim but to exist: — that the French nation had never yet produced a poet: — that the Germans possessed as yet no fine literature, except the ballads of the itinerant and alehouse minstrels, and the extravagant tales and wonderful stories sold in the streets to the populace, &c.
On the contrary, they praised the productions and conceits of the old Italian and Spanish poets; and poured forth an inundation of flat prosaic sonnets, trios, and the like: in short, they laboured with all their might to depreciate that which they were incapable of rising to, true poetry; and to persuade the world, that it essentially consisted of what they and and others without genius and poetical inspiration could furnish — in a trifling foolish play with words, metres, and fanciful arrangement of the rimes.
A number of circumstances concurred to favour their attempts. All the orthodox disciples of the sect of idealists joined their voices with their’s. They themselves were contributors to the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung of Jena, which is considered to be the best Review published in Germany; and they did not fail to make use of this vehicle to load their partizans with encomiums,  and to depreciate the works of such as happened not to belong to their sect.
At last, the editors of that journal became ashamed of their barefaced proceedings, and willingly laid hold of the first opportunity of dissolving their connection with them.  But now they began to publish journals of their own  (none ol which, however, outlived a year and a day)  in which they spoke with gross disrespect, and even contempt, of the most eminent writers of their country, and even of Wieland himself,  the immortal chanter of Oberon; and bepraised, with the most nauseous adulation only one German poet, Göthe, but who is not only a poet, but Prime Minister of the Prince in whose territory they then lived.
By such manœuvres they deterred every one, who loved his ease and tranquility, from attacking them. At last they wrote obscene books in which, in a very singular philosophical jargon, debauchery and libertinism are delineated as traits of strength of mind.  Thus they gained over to their side all the coquettes and wanton wives,  and all the young apprentices and gay young men, to whom nothing could be more agreeable than a doctrine which seemed to justify, by pretended philosophical reasonings, their lubricity, and the unbridled indulgence of their passions.
The idealist expressed the most common and most absurd things, by words and phrases of their |648| own coinage; and branded every one who found them un[in]telligible, as a man of only common sense, as a blockhead: but themselves and their disciples they exalted into a superior order of beings. This was sufficient lo acquire the applause of the whole tribe of vain, weak-minded, would-be, philosophers, who had only to hint that they understood the jargon of the idealists, and immediately found themselves puffed up into an equality, nay, far above, the greatest writers of the nation.
By such measures and intrigues, wholly calculated to delude the weak among the literary and non-literary vulgar: these mystical anarchists and agitators had been able to bring on a period, to which Germany will long look back with shame; a period, when the flattest nonsense passed for sublime poetry; a period, when it was the fashion to make sport of every thing that was great and sublime in literature; a period, in which a number of striplings, who had scarcely escaped from the nursery, railed their shrill voices from one end of Germany to the other, and croaked forth calumniating pasquinades against every one who refused to speak in their favour; a period, in fine, in which the writers, of whom the German nation had hitherto so justly been proud, retired from the scene of action, and were silent, lest they should become objects of wanton sport and derision. 
At last, however, when the evil had become quite unsupportable, a couple of energetic champions entered the lists against them, and, undaunted by the number of enemies who attacked them on all sides, continued to wield with force and address the weapons of reasoning, irony, and sarcasm, in the cause of truth and good taste.  The contest was sharpest during the year 1802; but, at present, a decisive victory seems to have been gained over the literary sans-culottes.  Their names are scarcely ever mentioned but in derision: many of their former most zealous partizans now laugh at them; and affirm, that they had enlisted under their banners, merely because it had become the fashion.
They themselves seem to continue weakly to defend their cause, only that their fall may be less striking and precipitous. They appear to be in a fair way to renounce their ridiculous opinions; therefore it is not necessary to draw forth their names from the obscurity into which they are sinking, though we thought that a short account of the revolution in literature, which they attempted to bring about, would not be uninteresting even to an English reader. We now proceed to give a short review of various poetical works which have been published in Germany in the course of last year.
[Discussion of epic poetry, drama]
|650| [Tragedy] Another dramatic work, by one of the best poets and prose-writer[s] of Germany, deserves to be here noticed with honourable distinction. The story of Ariadne, a subject never brought upon the stage by any of the Greek poets, probably from national considerations, though affording such excellent materials, has been treated, by Mr. Herder,  after the model, and conformably to the spirit and character of the ancient Greek Drama. In this little piece, every thing bears the stamp of genius, poetic inspiration, and genuine taste. 
Mr. Schlegel, who, for a series of years, has been labouring in almost every department of the Belles Letters, without rising above mediocrity in any, has prepared “The Ion of Euripides” for the German Stage.  He has made some alterations in the fable of the original; but these alterations are far from being improvements.
Thus, e.g. instead of Minerva, he introduces Apollo himself, and makes him give to Xuthus a very lubricous description, how he had violated the chastity of his wife.  Mr. Schlegel has translated some splendid passages from other ancient poets, and interwoven them with this imitation of |651| Euripides’s Tragedy, so that his work certainly contains many beautiful gleanings; but is, upon the whole, uninteresting, and is no longer represented at any theatre, on account of the indecencies in many parts of the dialogue. 
The author, however, in the mean time trumpeted forth his own praise,  asserting, that he had far surpassed Euripides; and unblushingly owns, that he thinks his work an excellent performance. This Mr. Schlegel possesses considerable talents for translating. He has published several volumes of a Translation of Shakespeare’s Works; in which he has indeed been guilty of the absurdity of giving, with a ridiculous Flemish precision, all the blemishes and errors of the original, not omitting even the most unimportant play upon words: he has, however, evinced, that he is well acquainted with the English, and has a great command of the German language.
A brother of the preceding has, on the contrary, brought forth a Tragedy, intitled [sic] “Alarcos,” which, for rant, absurdity, and want of taste, surpasses every thing that ever emanated from the distempered brain of a writer for the Stage. The hero of this piece, a Spanish Knight, stabs his tenderly-beloved wife, because he had promised to marry a princess, whom he abhors. He does not, however, marry the princess: but stabs himself at the side of his wife’s corpse — the princess dies in a state of insanity; and the king, her father, is frightened to death by an apparition. The language of this work is in the highest degree bombastic, and so far-fetched and stiff, as if it had been written for a puppet-show. The public laughed for a while at the ridiculo-horrid monster, and soon forgot it:  but the brother of the author, and his partizans, do not cease assuring us, that it is a wonderful master-piece.
[Discussion of didactic poetry, lyric poetry, pocket-books, novels romances, etc.]
III. Caroline’s article and “remarks” in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie 
The first issue of the second volume (1802) of the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie appeared in July 1802, the second issue in December 1802, the third at the Easter book fair. 
Although it is uncertain exactly when the third issue appeared, it seems it must be dated basically to the spring of 1803, likely before Schelling, as co-editor, left Jena in mid- to late-May of that year and the journal ceased publication. Karl August Böttiger (see below) remarks on 27 July 1803 that it had appeared “recently.”
The fourth and final article in that issue, “IV. Anhang zu No. II,” a two-part article, constitutes an addendum to article no. II, Schelling’s piece on Dante (pp. 35–50). Part 1 is a discussion of Friedrich Bouterwek’s view of Dante.
Part 2 contains first a discussion of an indignant footnote Böttiger had published in Der Teutsche Merkur complaining about the adherents of Idealism, and then “remarks” allegedly submitted to the editors of the journal concerning Böttiger’s character. Böttiger himself, in a letter to Friedrich Nicolai on 27 July 1803, i.e., two months after Schelling and Caroline had already left Jena, clearly suspected Caroline of having authored that section: 
. . . what at most only Madame Schelling, erstwhile Mad[ame] Schlegel, was permitted to say about me — utterly unpunished and unchecked — in a pasquinade directed at me recently published in Schelling and Hegel’s Journal.
b. Caroline’s Remarks in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie
IV. Addendum to no. 2
|59| [Editorial introduction:] A footnote in the Deutscher Merkur recently also adduced the following among the horrors of the most recent philosophical Idealism: |60| “The most venerable theologians of the Protestant church, e.g., [the rationalist Johann Salomo] Semler, Spalding, [the Enlightenment theologian Wilhelm Abraham] Teller, [Johann August] Nösselt, Herder, Löffler, etc., are, commensurate with such Idealism, inundated with derision and mockingly labeled by its adherents as ‘Clarifiers.'”  These adherents’ Christian gospel is allegedly Dante’s Hell and Purgatory (the author seems to have forgotten Paradise, or is intent on mentioning only the more gruesome elements), and other such nonsense. 
Since nowhere in the writings of any of the more contemporary Idealist philosophers are the “most venerable” Protestant theologians called “Clarifiers,” one of those philosophers must have applied such an appellation, perhaps in a lecture, to one of those theologians whom he considered less than venerable. One can be sure, however, that the author of that annotation did not attend this lecture (assuming, of course, that such a lecture was even delivered in the first place). Who, then, could it be other than the well-cultivated barker and universally recognizable gossip who was already characterized in an aside in the first issue of the first volume of this journal?
Since, then, there can be no doubt that this author is identical with a familiar, but truly not venerable man holding ecclesiastical office and status, one might ask indulgence if the following, recently submitted remarks, remarks wholly superfluous for our immediate audience, nonetheless, upon request, find their place here at the end for a different audience for whom — just as it must suffer the dust and dirt sweepings of the Protestant Enlightenment to be dished up to it as the ultimate wisdom — the masks of this region, too, might reasonably be presented as authorities. [Caroline’s “remarks” now follow:]
The author of this letter was born in a country of sound doctrine and belief and has still not been able to shake off the concepts of theological venerability he acquired there. |61| He understands that if in his fatherland, e.g., a councilor of the High Consistory were to engage in all sorts of literary undertakings, turning his study into a factory from which he then expedites 4–5 journals with the latest news and such out into the world, journals he then uses to publish assaults on publicly employed teachers in subjects of which he understands nothing, indeed, doing so not only in his own, but also others’ journals, at the same time presenting himself as the parasite of booksellers, selling praise and scorn at the Leipzig book fair, trying to elevate inferior scribes with his encomiums, importuning honest people with praise, — that for this reason alone he would be subject to universal contempt.
Let us assume, however, that instead of trying to combat, in sermons and edifying publications, the addiction to fashion and insidious luxury, he himself edits a Journal of Luxury and Fashion; or instead, as would befit his office, of writing contra the immorality of current theater pieces, he praises the most dissolute plays while simultaneously trying to tear down masterpieces, even if such be from antiquity. Let us assume that — since, were he a schoolteacher, he might yet be allowed to speak about Greek hetaerae, albeit only as an aside rather than ex professo  — he could not cease writing about the immoral houses and public prostitutes in London and Paris: he would, let us note, be relieved of his ecclesiastical office without objection according to the regnant customs in that and many other states. I doubt whether he would even still be allowed to teach, or perhaps only with the explicit directive to stick solely to the ancients.
To the extent, however, that from month to month he puts caricatures from English publications on display and explicates their smuttiness quite con amore  with images from Greek mythology, as an obvious corrupter of both taste and the purity of youth he would doubtless be relieved of this office as well, after which he would be free to peddle caricatures and pamphlets from door to door as he wishes and to engage with propriety in the insolent shamelessness of disseminating invectives against a philosophy that teaches the sacredness of nature, religion, and art, as if against a vitiation and poisoning of youth.
Of course, this “footnote scribe”  by no means escapes contempt here in this state, and he would do well, since, as already mentioned, he has long enjoyed no other reality here than that of a public comic, to turn to the pasquinian rabble in various utterly crude, unilluminated regions that according to reports plies its trade in an obscure Oberdeutsche Zeitung, and to join the chorus of the enlightened Capuchin sermons and Salat-brothels that are said to be being prepared there against philosophy.
That he reckons himself precisely among this class of human beings in that region has been shown in his having not refrained from directing his barroom wit, accompanied by a caricature by a Gilrey, even at a man who has been and will continue to be a benefactor to this region in his double identity as physical benefactor and friend of the sciences and arts, namely, Count Rumford. 
“The blind, abject life of these wretched ones is so low that they class
as envious the lot of all others. Let us not speak of them, but look and pass.” 
 Karl August Böttiger, “Retrospect of German Literature,” The Monthly Magazine; or British Register, 14 (1803) 2 (July to December), supplementary no. 96 (25 January 1803), 646–58, here 646–51. Originally in English; pagination, punctuation, and orthography as in the original. Partly excerpted in Ernst Friedrich Sondermann, Karl August Böttiger. Literarischer Journalist der Goethezeit in Weimar, Mitteilungen zur Theatergeschichte der Goethezeit 7, ed. Norbert Oellers and Karl Konrad Polheim (Bonn 1983), 234–39. Back.
 Latin, “solvent.” Back.
 Scilicet, “they would be the first to introduce etc.” Back.
 The reference is to the Jena circle, though Böttiger may well be thinking of other writers as well. Back.
 See Wilhelm Schlegel’s remarks to Ludwig Ferdinand Huber on 28 December 1799 (letter 258a): “Of course we praise our friends; they would not have become our friends in the first place had they not seemed praiseworthy.” Back.
 During the autumn of 1799; see the correspondence during that period between Wilhelm Schlegel, Christian Gottfried Schütz, and Hufeland, and the declarations of both Wilhelm and Schelling on 2 and 13 November 1799 (letters/documents 252d, 255a). Back.
 Athenaeum was published between Easter/May 1798 and August 1800. Back.
 E.g., Wieland himself, who wrote to Böttiger on 19 January 1802 with respect to the performance of Wilhelm’s Ion in Weimar: “I for my part intend to keep silent concerning this entire mess.” Back.
 Uncertain allusion, since the Jena circle had been involved in literary quarrels and had been satirized so frequently and severely over the past several years. Back.
 Fr., lit. “without breeches,” during the French Revolution a lower-class Parisian or ultra-violent republican. Here Böttiger wryly turns back onto Goethe and the Jena circle an article Goethe himself published in Schiller’s periodical Die Horen in 1795, “Litterarischer Sansculottismus”; see Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Caroline in late April 1799 (letter 236), note 14. Back.
 Ariadne Libera (1802), the latest contribution to his Adrastea, 6 vols. (Leipzig 1801–4), the collection of his later writings. See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339), note 32. Back.
 This characterization, including conforming “to the spirit and character of the ancient Greek Drama,” is precisely what in Böttiger’s opinion Wilhelm’s Ion was not. Back.
 Böttiger misstates the title, which is simply Ion. Ein Schauspiel (Hamburg: Friedrich Perthes, 1803). Wilhelm specifically did not intend merely to adapt Euripides’s version, but rather to treat the original material anew, and certainly not, as Böttiger goes on to state, present an “imitation” of Euripides’s piece. Back.
 See esp. the discussion of Creusa’s monologue in the supplementary appendix on Ion, a monologue that prompted the husband of the Berlin actress Henriette Meyer to forbid her from performing the role again. Hans Christian Genelli informs Wilhelm of these developments at considerable length in his letter to him on 29 May 1802 (letter 361b). Back.
 Kritisches Journal der Philosophie (1803) vol. 2, no. 3, 57–62. Back.
 Cited in Ernst Friedrich Sondermann, Karl August Böttiger. Literarischer Journalist der Goethezeit in Weimar, Mitteilungen zur Theatergeschichte der Goethezeit 7, ed. Norbert Oellers and Karl Konrad Polheim (Bonn 1983), 232. Back.
 Germ. Ausklärer, a play on Aufklärer, enlightener. Back.
 Here Böttiger’s entire footnote to the article by Jakob Salat, “Fortschritte wahrer Religiosität und Aufklärung in Bayern,” Der Neue Teutsche Merkur (1803) 1 (January), 54–78, here 65:
May heaven protect dear Landshut [from an influx of faculty members representing the philosophy of Idealism] — to whose florescence all of Germany is now directing its hopeful gaze — from such a concubinage of the crassest Catholicism with the most sublime Idealism! One need not go very far at all to become persuaded by one’s own eyes what ugly changelings cannot but emerge from such a state of unholy matrimony.
The most venerable theologians of the Protestant church, e.g., Semler, Spalding, Teller, Nösselt, Herder, Löffler, etc., are being sniffed by this generation — which so impudently kicks its own wet-nurses — and, commensurate with such Idealism, inundated with derision and mockingly labeled by its adherents as “Clarifiers.” Dante’s Hell and Purgatory are their truly Christian gospel, and daily do they lament the demise of this poetic Christianity and fall hungrily upon the unctuous visions of Bedlam of the sublimely enraptured shoemaker in Görlitz. Those who speak about moral Christianity are viewed as a prosaic atrocity.
Nowadays no one is to be prevented from becoming crazy on his own initiative. But once one begins to sell this rabid herb as a disenchanting moly to hundreds of gaping and beguiled youths, then it becomes a matter for the police on behalf of humankind, who is now being attacked in its most delicate blossom, namely, its academic youth.— B[öttiger]. Back.
 Latin, “as an expert, as a professional.” Back.
 Italian, “with love, tender enthusiasm, zeal.” Back.
 I.e., Böttiger as the author of the earlier footnote. Back.
 Uncertain allusion; presumably a reference to one of Böttiger’s earlier publications. — James Gillray (1756–1815), British caricaturist and satirist; Benjamin Thompson von Rumford (1753–1814), at the time a military reformer in Munich. Back.
 Dante, Inferno, canto 3, trans. Edward Wilberforce (London 1909), 15; translation altered to accord with Schelling’s abridged citation. Back.
Translation © 2016 Doug Stott