Letter 260a

260a. Friedrich Schlegel to Schleiermacher in Berlin: late May 1800 [*]

[late May 1800]

. . . You made some very important points to Dorothea about our situation here. [1]

Schelling initially comported himself quite well, merely urging openness and firm resolution. Then afterward things admittedly changed such that now he is not judged at all, so completely was he merely a tool in Caroline’s hands; I frankly would never have suspected such lack of character in him. —

He had, however, already degenerated earlier in that sense, since his arrogance became as unseemly as was his yearning attractive in which I initially encountered him; she genuinely did coax an element of amiability from his otherwise crude personality. —

You can now easily enough see how my own interest in Schelling can coexist quite well with Dorothea’s disinclination toward him. —

You need to contradict by every possible means these stupid lies about “town arrest.” [2] I have no idea what could have prompted them except that, because of his mutual injury suit with Schütz, Schelling had to put up 50 rth surety for court expenses because he wanted to travel to Bamberg with Caroline, which is straightforward enough. [3]

Though he will in all likelihood win his lawsuit, what is certain is that Schütz will not be able to effect anything against him in any case. Wilhelm has also filed a suit against Schütz before the academic court for defamation commensurate with the new law; what a delightful bit of fun that is.

I was thinking that this whole story would provoke you anew to lower the critical boom on German literature en masse as was originally the plan. [4] . . .


[*] Sources: Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:177–79 (frag.); KGA V/4 61–62; KFSA 25:114. — Dating according to KFSA 25:457. Back.

[1] Presumably in response to Dorothea’s lengthy letter to Schleiermacher on 15 May 1800 (letter 259s); Schleiermacher’s response is not extant. Back.

[2] Unidentified allusion, though presumably a rumor making the rounds in Berlin in connection with Schelling’s dispute with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, and with Christian Gottfried Schütz specifically. See below. Back.

[3] See KGA V/4 61–62n84–93 (similarly KFSA 25:458–59fn30) (bracketed remarks are those of the present editor):

In his piece “Ueber die Jenaische Allgemeine Literaturzeitung,” Schelling had maintained that it was generally known in Jena that Christian Gottfried Schütz, in his own lectures at the university, had tried, “not only through attacks against the most recent philosophy, but also through personal derision of Fichte, to rid himself of the oppressive feeling the presence of so superior an intellect probably often caused him” (Zeitschrift für speculative [spekulative] Physik [1800] I, 1, 81).

Schütz defended himself in his “Vertheidigung gegen Hn. Prof. Schellings sehr unlautere Erläuterungen über die A.L.Z.” in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1800) 57 (Wednesday, 30 April 1800) 465–80, adducing his own respect for and personal contact with Fichte (466):

Hence insofar as Herr Schelling is accusing me of breach of office, moreover of notorious engagement in such, and is otherwise trying to defame me as a public educator, I find myself forced to sue him injuriarum before the academic court, and will announce the outcome of this injury suit in these pages when such is forthcoming.

No files pertaining to this lawsuit seem to be extant (see Fambach 4:448n118: “The territorial archives of Thuringia possess no archival materials pertaining to the lawsuit Schütz-Schelling”). It ended with Schelling being fined 10, Schütz 5 Thaler (see Plitt 1:249 [information on fines]).

(“Paying a fine in court”: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Die Geldstrafe vor Gericht” [“Paying a fine in court”], 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 XXXIV):


In his own turn, August Wilhelm Schlegel was intending to sue the editors of the A.L.Z., Hufeland and Schütz, for libel after the academic senate of the university in Jena declared the matter outside its jurisdiction. A. W. Schlegel intended to adduce a Weimar decree of 20 March 1800 (the “new law” mentioned in this letter), which forbad all public remarks of an insulting nature (see Fambach 4:469n36a).

On Goethe’s advice, however, no complaint was filed with the authorities responsible for the universities; Goethe’s indirect attempt to prompt the university senate to issue such a complaint did not succeed (documentation in Fambach 4:460–65).

See Schelling’s letter to Schiller on 25 April 1800 (letter 259h), Schiller’s response to him on 1 May 1800 (letter 259n), and Schiller’s letter to Goethe on 5 May 1800 (letter 259q). See esp. Schelling’s original declaration in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on Saturday, 2 November 1799, and the editorial response (letter/document 252d), esp. with note 4. Back.

[4] Friedrich had mentioned such a plan — in connection with the notorious “Notizen” in Athenaeum 1800 — in his letter to Schleiermacher on 6 January 1800. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott