Letter 315

• 315. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 11 May 1801

[Jena] Monday, 11 May [1801]

|133| Since the opportunity has presented itself today, let me include a page here in response to your last one.

I can now understand why you cannot get the Mädchen von Orleans out of your head, though this time not at all because of the “increase” poesy or unpoesy might thereby undergo; [1] although you are indeed clinging to a tiny tip of art in this regard, what you are really concerned with is that a certain diminutive lady artist play her. And yet so much that is personal is at stake here that even that tiny tip tears off in your hand.

In effect, I have hitherto been answering the wrong questions because of the utter mysteriousness, my dearest Schlegel, with which you now reveal things a bit more specifically while still disorienting me somewhat by trying to get information about the autumn, information that, as a matter of fact, I cannot really supply. Strictly speaking, probably not even in Weimar itself does anyone really know anything about the actors’ return. It |134| usually takes place at the beginning of November. For now, they will probably continue performing on into June. [2]

Mademoiselle Jagemann has been selected for Pucelle; the actors assigned to the other roles were also included, but that, of course, is a matter of indifference. It is very doubtful whether they will still be able to perform it now. [3]

But all of you will surely receive or have already received more specific information from Goethe. He just left here again, earlier than planned; some specific business or news from Weimar presumably prompted his return. [4] Although Unzeline would doubtless perform the role splendidly, the question is whether Mademoiselle Jagemann would allow anyone to keep her from being the first to perform it. [5] The piece itself, by the way, is probably already written the way it can be performed. [6]

The reading lasted from 7:00–12:00, though with souper in between. Among the roles for women, there is, in addition to the elderly Isabel, also that of Agnes Sorel (Madame Vohs), it seems, but not significant enough a role to offer Madam Unzelmann. [7]

This coming Saturday Maria Stuart will be performed. [8] I hear that the scene in which Melvil extends the sacrament to Maria will not be performed, something you thus probably did not know about, or? [9]

But do write me now without all the winks and blinks, otherwise I will myself resort to cabals as a counter. Honestly, I thought I ought to go ahead and order the roast for the festivities. [10]

I am glad you did not answer Friedrich immediately, and I would also like for you still not to do so yet, or merely with the words: “Caroline wrote to you, but you have not answered, hence she cannot yet put away her reticent reserve.” [11] — They were expected back yesterday; [12] from me he will find your last Romanze sealed up in an envelope with a request to return to me today both it and the other poems I gave him, since I had to use them to take care of a request you gave me, |135| and I would also like to send them on to Tiek this evening, and to write him. [13]

My dear friend, please, no manifest in this matter. [14] I can neither allow that Friedrich reconcile with me as the result of such a manifest, nor that as a result he should feel justified in saying that it was I who separated the two of you. Your arrival here will effect what is necessary in this regard. —

As far as Madam Veit is concerned, it is indeed preferable to me in precisely this regard that you have not written. She will now act according to her own resolve, and that in itself will provide sufficient clarification to completely justify, in your eyes as well, my decision not to see her in my home, something I could not in any case ever manage to do now without the most extreme aversion.

And though they attribute all the standoffishness, disinclination, etc. to Schelling’s presence around me, you must realize that it is all merely a ploy to win you over to their side. Their own consciousness toward me is what is authentic here. They have been far more considerate of Schelling than of me; he has complained about nothing as far as his own person is concerned.

In any event, if he did scare them away from trying to approach me, as I do believe was the case to a certain extent, still, I cannot do anything about that. Were I now capable of denying him as a friend after such shared suffering, I would indeed be the most worthless of creatures. And in this regard, too, I have your complete concurrence and indeed might expect no one else’s but Friedrich’s as soon as he sees what is true and sacred, something which, despite whatever other bitter complaints I may have against him, I do not doubt.

The “Nachricht von den Schriften des Boccaccio,” about which I knew nothing, gave me a great deal of pleasure; it is also beautifully written and contains an uncommonly profound and penetrating perspective on the novella. [15] — I did indeed suspect that Friedrich Tiek would be coming to Weimar and am certain I will be speaking with him. [16]

Stay well, my dear.



I am doing quite well myself, but Schelling is sick even though he does go out. He does not start lecturing until the day after tomorrow. [17]

Hufeland has so few students that he is regretting all the trouble he takes to lecture. Schelling has about as many students as is possible given how empty the university is just now.

[Reverse side.]

Let me use this empty space to relate something rather amusing that Schelling told us today at the midday meal, namely, Goethe’s description of how he once spent an entire evening playing chess with Jean Paul, i.e., in a figurative sense.

To wit, the latter was trying to entice Goethe into revealing his assessment of him and his genre, and wanted, according to Goethe’s expression, to lead him to the sh**pi**, making one move after the other with regard to Yorik, to Hippel, to the entire humoristic monkey brood — and Goethe steadfastly noncommittal! [18]

Well, you just have to imagine all this yourself with its attendant hideousness, the way Jean Paul finally got so painfully anguished and ultimately went home checkmated and exhausted. There is no more unrepentant rogue on earth than Goethe, and yet with the most pious heart imaginable toward his friends.

[In the margin on the first page.]

Madam Kalathiskos and her spouse are currently in the process of getting a divorce; it seems hatred has been entered as the accusation, not love. [19]

Wiedemann wrote from Metz and Paris, but nothing remarkable yet. [20]

[New sheet.] [21]

I know not yet whether Schelling, who was thinking about writing more extensively to Fichte when sending him his journal, will be able to get that done today by the time the mail leaves, [22] |137| so I do in any case want to conclude this letter that I might go just now as well, since we have been invited to the Loders.

Just at 5:00 I sent a note to Friedrich with regard to the poems, since I would have liked to send them along to Tiek today. In response I received the enclosed note along with the money mentioned there, and I am enclosing the note for your information. After Rose’s report, I suspected they had already arrived back yesterday evening.

We are all exceedingly annoyed that things are going so poorly in Egypt and that Buonaparte is so sleepy even in the larger sense, [23] and that everyone is acting so foolishly and that even the Prussians are about to vacate Hannover. [24] Are you not as well?

I have not told you yet how glad I am to hear about Charlotte’s improvement, but, after all, you already know that. [25]

Adieu again, my dear, best Wilhelm.


Have you read the sonnets in the Literatur Zeitung? [26] They were presumably by the younger Schütz, who has started lecturing: History of the French Revolution, thus the title, with an extraordinary gift of gab, and already in the first lecture he specifies Fichte and Schelling as axioms of praiseworthiness. And Pater Brey is just now spoon-feeding a porridge of universal history. [27]


[1] That is, not because of the play’s aesthetic merit.

Caroline refers to Schiller’s Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie (Berlin 1801) as Mädchen von Orleans just as she does when first mentioning the play to Wilhelm in her letter to him on 27 April 1801 (letter 312) (see footnote 3 below). Back.

[2] From the very beginning of his association with the Weimar theater (first performance on 7 May 1791), Goethe had the company perform not only in Weimar, but also in other towns, not least lest the public become bored with what was initially a limited repertoire, though it was also a prudent move financially.

The early tradition was to have spring performances in Weimar itself (initially May–June), then in the summer spa Lauchstädt (June–early August), then — at least during the early years — Erfurt (August–September), then back to Weimar for what became the traditional autumn/spring season (October–June).

In some years (e.g., 1794, 1795), the autumn/spring season included Erfurt as well as Weimar. During the late summer season in 1794 (August–early September), Erfurt was joined by Rudolstadt (September–early October), which in other years followed Lauchstädt (September–early October). In 1795–96, only Weimar was included in the autumn/spring season, followed by Lauchstädt and then Rudolstadt for the late summer season.

When Wilhelm, Caroline, and Auguste arrived in Jena in July 1796, the company was currently in Lauchstädt and then Rudolstadt, then returned to Weimar in early October. Lauchstädt and Rudolstadt would remain the late-summer venues through the late 1790s, and in 1799 Naumburg joined them, with performances in Weimar in July (map: Ludwig Ravenstein, Atlas des Deutschen Reichs [Leipzig 1883], no. 5):


In 1799–1800, the autumn/spring season was performed solely in Weimar, the late summer season in Lauchstädt and Rudolstadt, and the 1800/1801 autumn/spring season again solely in Weimar, with the final performance on 15 June 1801, i.e., just one month after Caroline is here writing and just as she suggests.

The 1801 summer season in Lauchstädt lasted from 21 June to 12 August 1801, and the 1801 late-summer season in Rudolstadt from 17 August to 15 September 1801, when the company then returned to Weimar. Back.

[3] Concerning the relationship between Schiller’s adaptation (Die Jungfrau von Orleans) and Voltaire’s earlier, risqué burlesque, La Pucelle d’Orléans. Poëme divisé en 15 livres (Louvain 1755), and the problems attending the play’s performance with respect to Caroline Jagemann in the title role, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 April 1801 (letter 312), notes 15 and 16.

Concerning the premiere of Schiller’s piece, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 27 April 1801 (letter 312), note 17; also Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 47. As Caroline confirms in her letter to Wilhelm on 15 May 1801 (letter 316), the anticipated performance of the Jungfrau von Orleans in Weimar indeed did not happen as planned. Back.

[4] Goethe had been in Jena since 5 May 1801 and was back in Weimar on 11 May 1801, as Caroline here indicates; he would return to Jena on 27 May 1801 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:13). What prompted what she refers to as his early return to Weimar is not known. Back.

[5] Although Caroline Jagemann may have influenced Karl August’s initial reserve toward the play, she was nonetheless not the first actress to perform the role of Johanna. See Heinrich Düntzer, Schillers Jungfrau von Orleans, Erläuterungen zu den Deutschen Klassikern, 3:21, 22, 2nd ed. (Leipzig 1878), 33–37 (summary):

  • On 30 April 1801, Schiller notes that the director of the theater in Leipzig had inquired about the play.
  • Schiller responded on 7 May and 7 June, offering the theater adaptation of the play to the director on 16 (or 17) July 1801.
  • The theater responded on 25 July, and the manuscript was sent on 31 July.
  • Another copy was sent to the theater in Hamburg on 31 July.
  • Johann Friedrich Unger also contacted the theater management in Berlin.

Schiller was in Leipzig on 17 September 1801, where on 18 September he attended a performance of the play after the play had premiered on 11 September 1801; here a popularized nineteenth-century illustration (“Die erste Aufführung der ‘Jungfrau von Orleans,'” from Moriz Ehrlich, Goethe und Schiller: Ihr Leben und ihre Werke [Berlin 1897], plate following p. 412):


The play was such a success that after the first act, the audience broke out in spontaneous cries of “Long live Friedrich Schiller,” and after the performance took off their hats while allowing him to pass out of the theater, even holding up their children for him to see (another popularized nineteenth-century illustration from Johannes Scherr, Schiller and His Times, trans. Elisabeth McClellan [Philadelphia 1880], illustration following p. 406):


Hence the first actress to perform the role of Johanna was the Leipzig actress Friederike Hartwig, here in costume (illustration by J. F. Schröter and K. Oelzner, Nationale Forchungs- und Gedenkstätten der klassischen deutschen Literatur in Weimar; colorized version at Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, Inventarnummer K/544/2006 GOS-Nr. gr014675; reproduced in Eike Middell, Friedrich Schiller, 2nd ed. [Leipzig 1982], 335; also in Mareen van Marwyck, Gewalt und Anmut: Weiblicher Heroismus in der Literatur und Ästhetik um 1800 [Bielefeld 2010], 81):


Click on the image below to open a gallery of illustrations to the play from the Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1807:


Click on the image below to open a gallery containing illustrations of several of the characters from this play incorporated into playing cards in 1805:



[6] Caroline is essentially correct; see the analysis in Heinrich Düntzer, Schillers Jungfrau von Orleans, 33–34. Back.

[7] Neither did Friederike Unzelmann perform the role of Johanna in Berlin; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 23 November 1801 (letter 331). Back.

[8] It was not performed on Saturday, 16 May 1801, in Weimar (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 39), when instead Wallenstein was performed in honor of Johann Friedrich Cotta, as Caroline confirms in her letter to Wilhelm on 15 May 1801 (letter 316). Maria Stuart. Ein Trauerspiel (Tübingen 1801) was, however, performed on Wednesday, 10 June 1801. Back.

[9] Duke Karl August took offense at scene 7 in act 5 of Maria Stuart, in which the character of Melvil administers the eucharist to Maria Stuart before her execution. For the text of that scene, see supplementary appendix 314.1. Back.

[10] Friederike Unzelmann did indeed come to Weimar during the autumn of 1801 and is mentioned in upcoming letters; concerning the background to the visit, see Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe of 14 August 1801 (letter 327c).

The 1801–2 autumn/spring season in Weimar began on 21 September 1801 with Schiller’s Maria Stuart with Friederike Unzelmann in the title role, who had arrived in Weimar on 19 September 1801 and would give eight successive guest performances before departing on 2 October 1801.

Here the excerpt from the Weimar repertoire for September 1801 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters, 41. It might be noted, esp. given Caroline’s remarks here, that Schiller’s Jungfrau von Orleans was not included, premiering instead in Leipzig on 11 September 1801). Friederike Unzelmann appeared on

  • 21 September in the title role of Maria Stuart (Kostueme Auf Dem Koen. National-Theater in Berlin [Berlin 1805]; Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar):


  • 23 September as Josephine in August von Kotzebue’s comedy Armuth und Edelsinn (Theater von Kotzebue, vol. 6 [Prague 1817]):


  • 26 September as Countess Orsina in Lessing’s Emilia Galotti (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur Z WB IX 39):


  • 27 September as Gurli in Kotzebue’s comedy Die Indianer in England (Daniel Chodowiecki, Die Indianer in England [1790]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.864):


  • 29 September in the title role of Kotzebue’s tragedy Octavia (frontispiece to Theater von Kotzebue, vol. 19 [Prague 1819]):


  • 30 September as (1) Julius von Solar in Der Taubstumme, oder der Abbé de l’Epée: Ein historisches Drama in fünf Akten by Jean Nicolas Bouilly, trans. by Kotzebue, and as (2) [the young Savoyard boy] Joseph in Heinrich Gottlieb Schmider’s Die beiden Savoyarden (music by Nicolas Dalayrac); and finally
  • 1 October in the title role of Lessing’s Minna von Barnhelm oder Das Soldatenglück: Ein Lustspiel in fünf Aufzügen (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Minna von Barnhelm II. Aufzug. VII. Auftrit, Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Uh 4° 47 [74])




[11] The reference is to the “epistolary affair” between Friedrich and Caroline. Back.

[12] From Leipzig, where Dorothea Veit had new teeth made; see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 April 1801 (letter 311), esp. note 3 there. Back.

[13] The Romanze was Wilhelm’s “Fortunat”; the poems, intended for the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, included Wilhelm’s sonnet “An Buri, über sein Bildniss der Gräfin Tolstoy, geb. Baratinsky,” Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802 107 (Sämmtliche Werke 1:369). For the text see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313), note 25. Back.

[14] For Caroline, writing in 1801, such a “manifest” referred to “a manifest, a public Writing by which a Prince or State gives a Reason or an Account of his or their Conduct of Behaviour in any important affair”(The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages composed chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adelung and of Mr. Schwan, ed. John Ebers, vol. 2: H–R [Leipzig 1798], 622, s.v. Manifest), similar to “manifesto” today, “a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer” (Merriam Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary s.v. “manifesto”). That is, Caroline did not want Wilhelm to send Friedrich such a statement in the matter of her relationship with Friedrich and Dorothea. Back.

[15] “Nachricht von den poetischen Werken des Johannes Boccaccio” (“News about the poetic works of Giovanni Boccaccio”), Charakteristiken und Kritiken 2:360–400. Caroline’s assessment is remarkably astute, since Friedrich’s essay was indeed genuinely seminal in shaping the theory of the novella.

See McBurney Mitchell, “Goethe’s Theory of the Novelle: 1785–1827,” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, ed. William Guild Howard, vol. 30 (N.S. vol. 23) (1915), 215–36, here 215–16:

In attempting to trace the theory of the German novelle back to its beginnings, a century and more ago, the student finds that Goethe’s famous epigram of 1827: “Was ist die Novelle anders als eine sich ereignete unerhorte Begebenheit?” [“What is a Novelle other than an unheard-of occurrence that has taken place”] is rightly given third place chronologically among the more important contributions to the discussion before Tieck.

Goethe’s predecessors in this field were the brothers Schlegel, and their contributions were pioneer work in a truly peculiar sense of the word; for at the time they wrote, the German novelle was as good as non-existent, and criticism is wont to follow, not precede, literary production. It is true that both had foreign models from which to deduce their theory; in the case of Friedrich Schlegel, Boccaccio furnished the norm,

[fn: The essay has been published four times: (1) Charakteristiken und Kritiken 2:360–400; (2) Friedrich Schlegel, Sämtliche Werke (Vienna 1825–46), 10:3–36; (3) Sämtliche Werke, 2nd ed. (1846), 8:5–29; (4) Jugendschriften 2:396–414, from which I quote.]

for August Wilhelm, both Boccaccio and Cervantes.

[fn: A. W. Schlegel, Vorlesungen über schöne Literatur und Kunst.]

But it is also true that, as the foremost critical talents of the Romantic movement, the Schlegels were in search of a new literary form into which might be poured the new literary content of the movement with which they were allied; and so their critical statements are, in a certain sense, more or less conscious propaganda for Romanticism. It was in their characteristically Romantic flight from an uncongenial present that they rediscovered Boccaccio and Cervantes and realised that these two masters had excelled in a form not native to Germany.

In introducing this form in theory into German literature theirs was pioneer criticism of the first order, and it is with no thought of belittling their attainment that attention may be called to the fact that their work was anticipated in a fashion by the greatest figure in literature among their contemporaries.

That is to say, Goethe’s epigrammatic definition of 1827 was only his final word on the theory of the novelle, and it contains only the briefest possible statement of essentials brought to light in the course of a long investigation which goes back to his Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten (1795), thus antedating the work of the Schlegels by over half a decade.

But since the theoretical statements of the Unterhaltungen are of real import only in the light of the later definition, and since the latter depends on the former for its elucidation and interpretation, it is evident that the Schlegels were the first among German critics to attempt a full and formal theory of the novelle, and to recognise in it a highly developed form as yet without counterpart in their own literature. Back.

[16] Wilhelm had been considering having Friedrich Tieck do a memorial and bust for Auguste. See Tieck’s letter to Wilhelm from Paris on 24 April 1801 (letter 311b), and the cross references to previous letters and materials in note 1 there.

Tieck did indeed come to Weimar in the autumn of 1801 to do work on the castle renovations. He arrived in Weimar in early September 1801, dined with Goethe on 6 September, and met with Goethe almost daily till mid-October (Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], 22). Back.

[17] Following Schelling’s return to Jena from Bamberg in early October 1800, his life was subject to various sources of stress, not least, of course, his grief at Auguste’s loss, and Caroline’s absence from Jena. Various professional matters also came into play, e.g., decisions about establishing his own periodical after the failure of the Romantics’ Jahrbücher project, and his increasingly tense relationship with Fichte, which ultimately ended in a break.

At the same time, it became increasingly clear, esp. after Caroline’s journey to Berlin in March 1802, that Caroline and Wilhelm would be seeking a divorce, in which Schelling and, as attested in coming letters, Goethe would play important roles.

At the same time, this period was one of or perhaps even the most creative in Schelling’s scholarly life.

For the summer semester 1801, Schelling lectured, according to the university catalog, on “philosophical propaedeutic” according to his system of transcendental idealism (System des transcendentalen Idealismus [Tübingen 1800]); the system of the entirety of philosophy with reference to its presentation in the Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik, namely “Darstellung meines Systems der Philosophie,” Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 2 (1801) no. 2, 1–127; and finally a public lecture on the philosophy of art.

Fuhrmans, 1:230–35, maintains that this semester marked Schelling’s transition from being essentially a pupil of Fichte to a philosopher with his own, independent system, what Fuhrmans calls a “total real-idealism,” one that, moreover, remained consistent to the end of Schelling’s life:

Summoned and influenced by Fichte, though also challenged by Fichte to develop his own position, profoundly influenced by Goethe’s world view, doubtless also not without stimulation from Hegel, who was present in Jena at the time, and with early influence from Hölderlin as well, ultimately, however, guided by Spinoza’s system, Schelling now developed his own system, the first grand system of objective idealism, a system, that through all its changes he never again abandoned.

For as changeable as Schelling’s philosophizing indeed was — for it never possessed that particular exploratory constancy characterizing Hegel’s path, but rather exploratory beginnings, turns that sometimes seem like breaks or a new beginning — nonetheless one must say that basic structures of the fundamental outline attained in 1801, the basic conception of his ontology, remained valid for his entire life.

Through all its stages and alterations, this philosophy remained total real-idealism to the very end, or — in its usual formulation — a philosophy of identity, which does not, however, mean — and here all interpretation quickly ran aground — that for Schelling all being (all that exists) was (pantheistically) real-identical, but rather that all that is or exists, whatever it be — God, angel, human being, plant, animal, matter — is identical as it thus is, put concretely: real-ideal being.

The spirit is never alone and solely in and for itself and without matter — not even in God; nor is matter ever lacking spirit! All spiritual (intellectual) being is allied, connected with the corporeal, all matter permeated by spirit: the origin of all being — God, the absolute — is not simply spirit, but rather spirit and “matter” [fn: . . . the spiritual and the corporeal are grounded in God . . .], logos and bio, ratio and irratio, res cogitans and res extensa, and so also all that exists or that is in the “world.” As a mirror or reflection of absolute being, which in and of itself is real-ideal being, so also is all finite being, all that exists or is finitely, similarly real-ideal.

On 12 May 1801, the day after Caroline is here writing, Goethe notes in his diary that after an evening in his garden with Schiller, he read the “Neue Darstellung in Schelling’s Zeitschrift für speculative Phisic,” vol. 2, no. 2 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:13). Back.

[18] Calendar für das Jahr 1796; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


“Yorick”: pseudonym used by Laurence Sterne in A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick 2 vols. (London 1768). Back.

[19] Göttinger Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1799, Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Concerning Sophie Mereau’s nickname “Madam Kalathiskos,” see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 5 May 1801 (letter 313), note 29.

As Caroline confirms in her letter to Wilhelm on 18 May 1801 (letter 317), the unhappy marriage between Sophie and Professor Friedrich Ernst Karl Mereau was eventually dissolved; it became official on 21 July 1801 and ultimately provided a precedent for Caroline and Wilhelm’s own divorce strategy. Back.

[20] W. R. Shepherd, Historical Map of Central Europe about 1786 (1926):


Concerning Wiedemann’s journey to France, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 1–2 March 1801 (letter 293), note 12. Back.

[21] The previous double sheet was inserted into this one with the remarks “To Herr Professor Schlegel in Berlin, Friedrichstrasse No. 165,” though this address may already be referring to his former, initial address in Berlin rather than his present one (see Caroline’s letter to him on 15 May 1801 [letter 317]). Concerning Wilhelm’s addresses in Berlin, see the supplementary appendix on his residences in Berlin 1801–4. Back.

[22] The periodical was Schelling’s Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 2 (1801) no. 2, with the significant piece “Darstellung meines Systems der Philosophie.”

Schelling’s relationship with Fichte was strained during this period and moving toward a final break precisely because Schelling was visibly moving away from Fichte’s system and philosophical position. After a break in their communication after late December 1800, Schelling wrote Fichte on 24 May 1801, to which Fichte then responded — again, only after a lengthy pause — rather gruffly on 7 August 1801 in a letter clearly indicating the gulf that separated them.

Schelling in his own turn then waited until 3 October 1801 to respond, after which the two exchanged but two more letters: Fichte to Schelling on 15 January 1802 (and a letter not sent on 15 October 1801), and Schelling to Fichte on 25 January 1802.

Excerpts of Schelling’s letter to Fichte on 24 May 1801 can be found in Caroline’s letters to Wilhelm on 1–2 March 1801 (letter 293), note 24, and on 25 May 1801 (letter 318).

Concerning Fichte’s letter to Schelling on 7 August 1801 and Schelling’s to Fichte on 3 October 1801, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 29 June 1801 (letter 323). For Schelling’s final letter to Fichte, on 25 January 1802, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341). Back.

[23] The reference is to the end of the French occupation of Egypt. See Michael Glover, The Napoleonic Wars: An Illustrated History 1792–1815 (New York 1978), 80–82 (concerning the earlier background, see Caroline’s letter to on 28 October 1799 [letter 252], note 8):

The French concern most exposed to British interference was the army in Egypt. Kléber, on hearing that Bonaparte had abandoned the army [see above], leaving it seven million francs in debt . . . soon attempted to negotiate for an evacuation of Egypt in return for an unobstructed passage back to France but this came to nothing. Being a very good soldier and administrator, he continued Bonaparte’s organization of the country and, in March 1800, defeated a Turkish army at Heliopolos.

It was unfortunate for France that Kléber was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic on the day [the Battle of] Marengo was fought, and his successor, Menou, who embraced Islam, was not his equal as a soldier. Bonaparte was meanwhile doing his best to send help from France. . . .

The fate of Menou’s army in Egypt had already been sealed. On 24 October 1800 General Sir Ralph Abercromby, commanding the expeditionary force at Gibraltar, had received the last of a long series of contradictory orders from London. He was to invade Egypt in cooperation with the Turks. . . .

Abercromby’s army landed against opposition in Aboukir Bay on 7 March 1801 and two weeks later the French were decisely beaten in the Battle of Alexandria (21 March) after which Menou allowed himself to be invested in that city. Unfortunately Abercromby was mortally wounded in the battle and the command fell to the intensely unpopular Major-General John Hely Hutchinson. The latter did, however, succeed in taking Rosetta and in June, Cairo, the French surrendering on condition that they be repatriated. . . .

It was September before Menou surrendered Alexandria on the same terms as the other parts of his army and the Franch occupation of Egypt was finally at an end. . . .

The Battle of Alexandria on 21 March 1801 was the first occasion since the war began on which a British force of all arms met and defeated a French army on equal terms. The self-confidence of the army, sapped by the defeat in America and by the disasters and fiascos of Flanders and Holland, began to revive. It was the beginning of a long road which was to lead through Maida, Vimeiro, Salamanca and Vitoria to the final triumph of Waterloo. Back.

[24] Concerning the Prussian occupation of Hannover during this period, see supplementary appendix 310.1, esp. the section on the evacuation of Hannover. Back.

[25] Charlotte Ernst had been seriously ill with nervous fever; see Tieck’s letters to Wilhelm on ca. 21 April 1801 (letter 310a) and to Friedrich Schlegel on 23 April 1801 (letter 310b) Frey, Babioles Lithographiques [ca. 1850]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. C: 319c):



[26] In the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1801) 83 (Wednesday, 29 April 1801) 665–66: three quite harmless, jesting sonnets for the “Ankündigung des Journals der allerneuesten Sonette” (“announcement of the journal of the very newest sonnets”), and signed by “The Publisher.” Back.

[27] Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Breyer, Schelling’s cousin. Caroline calls him “Pater Brey” after Goethe’s short satirical play Ein Fastnachtspiel vom Pater Brey, dem falschen Propheten (1774) in Knittelvers (rhyming couplets of four-stress lines), in which a pater abandons the rules of his order to make love to a lady whose betrothed is absent; the satire in fact lampoons someone who, during Herder’s absence, had pressed his attentions on Caroline Flachsland, Herder’s fiancé.

See Peter Hume Brown, Life of Goethe, vol. 1 (New York 1920), 125–26. First illustration: the initial scene in the play, from anonymous, “The Startling Development of the Bi-Dimensional Theater,”Current Literature xliv [January-June 1908], 546–49, here 49: “The text was read, with occasional accompaniment of music, while the pictures appeared on the screen” (second illustration: Göttinger Taschen Calender vom Jahr 1790; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


The subject of them [succession of scenes] is that [Franz Michael] Leuchsenring [1746–1827] whose acquaintance, we have seen, Goethe had made under the roof of Sophie von la Roche. Since then, apparently, Leuchsenring’s proceedings had provoked in Goethe a repugnance which displays itself in a strain of bitterness hardly to be found in any other of his works.

It was Leuchsenring’s habit to ingratiate himself with households where his pseudo-sentiment made him acceptable, and by questionable methods to make mischief between their members, and especially between the two sexes.


Goethe had seen the results of these intrigues in circles with which he was acquainted, and it was to punish the sinner that he wrote Ein Fastnachtspiel, auch wohl zu tragieren nach Ostern, vom Pater Brey dem falschen Propheten.

Pater Brey, the false prophet, is Leuchsenring, and his sugared speech and shifty ways are the main object of the satire, but other persons are introduced into the piece and exhibited in lights which are a singular commentary on the taste of the time.

The victim on whom Pater Brey plies his arts is Caroline Flachsland, who appears under the name of Leonora, and the injured lover is Herder (Captain Velandrino). The Captain, who has been informed of Pater Brey’s philanderings with his betrothed, appears on the scene, is assured of her faithfulness, and in concert with another character in the piece (Johann Heinrich Merck) plays a coarse trick on the Pater which makes him the laughing-stock of the neighbourhood.

Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Breyer, however, was a successful lecturer in Jena. Schelling had already written to his parents from Jena on 2 March 1800 (Plitt 1:296):

I am sure our cousin Herr Breyer has gotten in touch with you there. It seems he will do quite well here, especially since he now no longer has to suffer from his father’s excessive frugality. He has really had to struggle until now. — This past winter he gave an unpaid lecture course in which he had a great many students.

And in a letter to Schiller on 13 October 1800 (Ludwig von Urlich, Briefe an Schiller [Stuttgart 1877], 407), Breyer himself writes:

Although I admittedly cannot determine whether I will genuinely succeed in reawakening the slumbering interest in this scholarly area [history] here, at least my initial attempts have not at all come up short. In any case, however, I am quite proud that I may teach history at an academy just as you yourself once delivered lectures in history.

Unfortunately, Erich Schmidt, (1913), 2:617, remarks that in an otherwise unidentified letter he omitted Caroline’s long account to her sister-in-law, Beate Schelling, concerning an unsuccessful courtship attempt made by Breyer. Perhaps that account might illuminate Caroline’s choice of nickname for Breyer.

In any event, Hegel writes to Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer from Bamberg on 8 August 1807 in connection with Hegel’s derogatory remarks about the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Werke, ed. Marheineke et al., vol. 19, part 1, Briefe von und an Hegel, ed. Karl Hegel, [Leipzig 1887], 123; illustration: “Die schlechte Hausfrau,” Berlinischer Damen-Kalender auf das Gemein-Jahr 1809; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

But one of its members, our friend Breyer, — what on earth has fate done to him? Bridegroom of the heavenly bride, namely, the Academy, he now also developed a craving for an earthly one, and he finds himself demoted to the former?! What a loss! 80,000 fl.! not even counting the woman yet! —

I know not whether he or you is to be more pitied, since you yourself will have some consoling to do! —

You and Madam Niethammer will on your own initiative do what you can perhaps to find him another sweetheart. I entreated Madame Paulus recently with the same goal in mind, trying to evoke her sympathy and active assistance; she will probably not be lacking in exactly that. —

From your story, however, I cannot quite make out the extent to which it is to be taken metaphorically or more literally. You mention the lost power of the keys, of retaining sins, of not forgiving; did his voice perhaps fail just when it was time to sing? or if female inconstancy and unfaithfulness is the cause, then the whole matter is all the more peculiar, since as is well known there is not a single example yet of such in the entire history of humankind, not since the beginning of time. —


I hope you will elaborate more on this interesting story the next time. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott