Letter 276d

276d. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Braunschweig: Jena, 15 December 1800 [*]

Jena, 15 December 1800

Let me extend my sincere thanks for being kind enough to have Dante III and an Italian dictionary sent along to me. [1]

By now the bit of devilty about which you lately wrote is doubtless already finished, [2] and I regret only that nothing will be coming of all our carnival merriment in Weimar, where it perhaps might even have been performed on stage, all the more so insofar as the public theater was to be transformed into a private one for the sake of several other bits of anonymous deviltry, from which even the women were to be excluded as spectators and the female roles perhaps performed by masked male actors.

Yet even after having previously arranged it all and put it all into motion, the duke has now deprived us of it all because of the current general sorrow. Because of the defeat of the imperial forces, he at the last minute prohibited all such merriment. [3] All the same, however, Iffland is to come to Weimar on 14 January. —

Although Goethe has been here since yesterday, I have not seen him yet. [4] Last week when I visited him in Weimar, he inquired most particularly about you and your current projects.

Hufeland’s departure has set all sorts of things into motion here. [5] Loder detests Röschlaub and would doubtless mobilize everyone against him were he to notice any interest in bringing him here. [6]

Röschlaub may indeed recently have been plundered. The advance columns of Augereau had the plunder signal drummed on the outskirts of Bamberg. Augereau himself is now there and is contenting himself with an enormous tribute that he has imposed on Bamberg quite over and above what it has already paid. [7]

There is no real literary news to report.

Stay well and continue to commend me to your friendship.



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:322–23; Fuhrmans 2:302–3.

Oddly perhaps, this letter is included here precisely because Schelling does not mention or even allude to Caroline in it. That is, even though Wilhelm and Caroline had already decided on a permanent separation (see Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 1 December 1800 [letter 276b]), notwithstanding there as yet seems to have been no talk of divorce, and even though it was to Schelling that Wilhelm had lost Caroline, the two men nonetheless remained friends.

Indeed, not only friends, but mutually supportive colleagues in coming disputes and problems before ultimately each went his own way. To wit, Wilhelm would resolutely come to Schelling’s defense in 1802, even publicly, in the scandal caused by Franz Berg’s allegation (one promoted, moreover, by the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung) that Schelling was responsible for Auguste’s death; and Schelling would play a crucial role during 1802–3 in helping Wilhelm and Caroline obtain a divorce with a minimum of trouble in a duchy in which such was not at all that easy.

Although, as Caroline points out later, she and Wilhelm had from the outset viewed their marriage as a “free” alliance, one would nonetheless little expect Wilhelm and Schelling to remain on such cordial and even mutually supportive terms considering the circumstances. That said, coming correspondence also demonstrates that this cordiality had its limits. Back.

[1] Friedrich wrote to Wilhelm that same day (Walzel, 449; KFSA 25:211): “I immediately took care of your requests and sent Dante along to Schelling.” Although neither Wilhelm’s letter making this request nor Friedrich’s to Schelling with the copy of Dante has been preserved, Dorothea Veit had earlier written to Sophie Bernhardi on 7 October 1799 (letter 247b): “Each evening Dante is read, with Friedrich instructing both Caroline and Schelling.” Schelling dealt at considerable length with Dante in his lectures on the philosophy of art during the winter semester 1802–3. Back.

[2] Wilhelm’s Ehrenpforte und Triumphbogen für den Theater-Präsidenten von Kotzebue bei seiner gehofften Rückkehr in’s Vaterland. Mit Musik. Gedruckt zu Anfange des neuen (Braunschweig 1801); see the supplementary appendix on this Kotzebuade. Back.

[3] For reasons of both domestic and foreign policy, Duke Karl August of Weimar, who was keen on staying out of the Second War of Coalition, had canceled what Goethe and Schiller had been referring to in their correspondence as the “Festum Saeculare” that had been planned for the turning of the millennium.

Napoleon had defeated Austria at Marengo on 14 June 1800, and Austria had to press for peace, having just suffered yet another defeat by the French under Moreau on 3 December at Hohenlinden, with the French armies then marching toward Linz and Vienna (South West Germany and North Italy: The War of the Second Coalition 1798–1801, in The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912], map 88 [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):


After the French also invaded Austria from the south in January 1801, Franz II sued for peace. The Treaty of Lunéville was concluded in February 1801. Back.

[4] Goethe arrived in Jena on 12 December 1800 and would be returning to Weimar with Schelling himself on 26 December (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:2:314–15), presumably at Caroline’s request; see her letter to Goethe on 26 November 1800 (letter 276). Back.

[5] In 1801, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, the Jena physician and professor who treated Caroline during her bout with nervous fever in March and April 1800, became head of the Charité Hospital in Berlin and personal physician to Queen Luise of Prussia. Back.

[6] Andreas Röschlaub was still in Bamberg. Concerning the selection of Hufeland’s successor in Jena, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 26 March 1801 (letter 303). Schelling eventually lobbied for Carl Eschenmayer. Karl Gustav Himly (Loder’s choice) ultimately received the appointment. Anti-Brunonian sentiments played a role in the decision. Back.

[7] Augereau had gained an important military advantage near Bamberg on the same day as the battle at Hohenlinden, namely, 3 December 1800, having taken Aschaffenburg on 25 November. Bamberg was occupied on 5 December.

Moreau had already demanded 600,000 Livres tribute from Christoph Franz von Buseck in July 1800, though Buseck fled Bamberg to Saalberg before this occupation (South West Germany and North Italy: The War of the Second Coalition 1798–1801, in The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912], map 88 [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):


Although Augereau now offered Buseck a separate treaty, the latter rejected it, hoping for better terms once the treaty with Austria was made (such did not happen). In the meantime, the French did indeed plunder the town of Bamberg and occasionally even attacked the populace. Back.

Translation © 2014 Doug Stott