Letter 289

289. Caroline to Schelling in Jena: Braunschweig, February 1801

[Braunschweig, February 1801]

[Beginning of letter is missing.]

|41| . . . would live together this summer. But to me that seems like a failure to see the path we were to take.

My dear friend — and it is with love that I call you such — perhaps it truly is difficult to prompt me to make a decision, |42| but I have always managed to come to one before it was too late, and have then always, unwaveringly, held to it. I am not one to say today — “I want to do this” — and then tomorrow — “now I want something different,” saying it in each instance as confidently as if it were valid for all time — no, my utterances doubtless illustrate very clearly that I in fact do not know what I ought to do — until the moment arrives. That moment is here, and I entreat you, accept it as such.

I am not parting from you, you who are my everything on earth; the means the soul seizes to escape desecration of the alliance also creates everything, the alliance itself in all its beauty, and the tenderness that sustains it.

I am yours. I love, I respect you — I have had not even a single hour in which I have not believed in you, and though there have been circumstances that have clouded your belief in me, things will now become brighter. I will be seeing you again, presumably even sooner than I recently imagined. As your mother do I greet you, no memory shall ruin us. You are now my child’s brother; I give you this sacred blessing. From now on, it is a crime if we seek to be anything else to each other.

[One page is missing.]

. . . make it quite good for the world, and I am so fond of the children, they would do me good. [1]


Tuesday [24 February]

Schlegel left on Saturday morning; [2] he will you soon write from Berlin and left the enclosed Kotzebue with me to pass on to you [3] along with a rather crazy chart by a certain Professor Wild in Goettingen, which he has been wanting to give you in person. This fellow fancies that Fichte and you stole your initial, seminal ideas from him. [4]

|43| My dear friend, I must close now, for all the packing I had to do in order to forward Schlegel’s things to him, along with all sorts of other things that just happened to coincide with that, have greatly fatigued me. . . .

I ardently entreat my sweet friend finally to come to some understanding with his Caroline; I implore him not to take away my last hope.

I pray that God may bless these pages.


[1] Possibly a reference to the children of Luise Gotter. Caroline presumably traveled through Gotha on her way back to Jena in April 1801.

During the late spring of 1801, however, Julie Gotter traveled to Jena and lived with Caroline in the house at Leutragasse 5 until March 1802 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[2] That is, left for Berlin on Saturday, 21 February 1801 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):

Braunschweig_Berlin_Jena_ map


[3] That is, Wilhelm’s recent Kotzebuade. Back.

[4] Caroline has doubtless included one or both of the charts (or, more likely, is referring to both as a single chart) at the beginning of Johann Christian Daniel Wildt, Logik und allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften im Grundriss; eine vorläufige Darstellung der Hauptmomente des einzig richtigen Systems der Philosophie (Göttingen 1801), 7–14, whose noteworthy subtitle is “a preliminary presentation of the primary features of the only correct system of philosophy.”

Because the book bears an 1801 publication date, it presumably appeared at the Easter book fair. Perhaps Wilhelm had an advance copy or access to proofs (Göttinen publisher) or to a handwritten copy of the charts.

The charts outline the system of philosophy and then the system of understanding of the ich, “self,” or “ego,” a key concept in both Schelling and Fichte’s work. Here the three-page chart for the categories of philosophy along with the five-page chart of the the system of the ich, about which Wildt (p. 15) then remarks: “This chart of categories thus contains the first complete index of human understanding”:





Translation © 2014 Doug Stott