Letter 270

• 270. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Gotha, October 1800 [*]

[Gotha, October 1800]

I will write you from Göttingen, God willing. [1]

Do see Goethe often, and disclose to him your interior treasures. [2] Bring to light the magnificent ore that is otherwise so brittle when one tries to expose it. My heart, my life, I love you with my entire being. Never should you doubt that.

What a radiant flash of good fortune when Schlegel gave me your letter yesterday evening. You need to write me in Braunschweig, in care of Professor Wiedemann.

Although Rose is absolutely delightful, it is extremely problematical whether Schlegel can use her. [3] She clings completely to me, and I get along with her very well. Let us see what develops.

May God bless you, please do be calm, you are certainly permitted as much.


[*] First extant letter from Caroline to Schelling. All but one of Schelling’s letters to Caroline have been lost (letter 406); most of Caroline’s letters to Schelling, in possession of the descendants of Hermann von Schelling, were destroyed during World War II.

Wilhelm Schlegel and Caroline departed Bamberg for Braunschweig on 1 October 1800, traveling by way of Gotha; Schelling and Johann Diederich Gries left on the same day and travelled with Wilhelm and Caroline as far as Coburg, then took the separate postal route to Jena. See Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 18 September 1800 (letter 268), note 1, and supplementary appendix 268.1, note 9.

Although Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:4, dates this letter to Braunschweig, it seems instead to have been written and posted in Gotha, while Caroline and Wilhelm were staying with the Gotters. Caroline mentions that she will write Schelling from Göttingen if possible, i.e., likely after leaving Gotha, and that Wilhelm had just brought Schelling’s letter to her; she then instructs Schelling that he should write her in Braunschweig in care of her brother-in-law, Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann; the reference seems to be to his next letter, not this one (the German present tense arguably implies the future here, a not unusual use of this tense at all).

Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 24 November 1800 (letter 275) similarly implies that she had only just arrived in Braunschweig after having left Wilhelm in Göttingen; he continued on to Hannover, and they eventually met up in Söder on 19 October 1800, as Caroline explains in her letter to Schelling on 15–24 October 1800 (letter 272). That is, Caroline did not journey to Braunschweig, return to Göttingen, and then return to Braunschweig, but rather stopped for two-and-a-half days in Göttingen with Wilhelm (who is also mentioned in the rescript letter/document 269), then continued on to Braunschweig without Wilhelm. The present letter seems to have been written in Gotha. Back.

[1] I.e., after arriving in Göttingen to settle matters of Auguste’s inheritance; see Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter from Bamberg on 18 September 1800 (letter 268), note 1, and from Braunschweig on 24 November 1800 (letter 275.

This letter is the first to Schelling in a series that counts among the most revealing and intimate in Caroline’s entire correspondence (Taschenbuch für Frauenzimmer zum Nutzen und Vergnügen aufs Jahr 1789; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[2] Caroline’s advice is prompted by her awareness of Schelling’s grief at Auguste’s death and, frankly, his separation from Caroline herself. Others were similarly aware of Schelling’s disposition during this period; see Friedrich Schlegel to Wilhelm in Braunschweig from Jena on 17 October 1800 (Walzel, 444; KFSA 25:193): “Although I myself have not yet seen Schelling [in Jena], I hear he is not well.”

Goethe was in any case quite favorably disposed toward Schelling both personally and with respect to his philosophy of nature; see esp. Schelling’s letter to Goethe from Bamberg on 8 August 1800 (letter 265k), with note 1. During the journey back to Jena, Schelling mentioned Goethe’s response to his traveling companion, Johann Diederich Gries: “Schelling even shared a letter from Goethe in which the latter told him that Schelling’s philosophy was until now the only one to which he felt drawn and which he was now diligently studying” (see supplementary appendix 268.1, with note 10).

Schelling was returning to Jena to continue lecturing, a prospect that had been bothering Friedrich for much of the summer, who was trying to launch his own university career and justifiably sensed the competition Schelling represented (see his and Dorothea’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 (letter 265j), notes 6 and 7):

Do you perhaps know that Schelling will be returning and perhaps has the same intentions [i.e., to lecture]? — That would doubtless stand in my way, and I would be quite sorry not having known about it beforehand. But now I cannot go back. 60 students have signed up, and in the next few days I will have to apply for my doctoral candidacy with the faculty; otherwise it is too late. — Do let me know what you know about this matter; I implore you. Back.

[3] Wilhelm’s unlikely “use” of Rose, the maidservant, may derive from her inability to cook (see Caroline to Schelling on 15 October 1800 [letter 272]). Concerning this situation, see Friedrich and Dorothea’s letter to Wilhelm in Gotha on 30 September 1800 (letter 269a), note 4; also their letter to Wilhelm on 4 September 1800 (letter 267b), note 2. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott