Letter 341

• 341. Caroline to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 18 January 1802

[Jena] Monday, 18 Jan[uary] [1802]

|274| My dear friend, I am writing immediately again and wish only that some of the things I wrote in my last letter I could be writing today instead, so that that letter would perhaps not have disturbed you in making your plans. [1]

We Whatever those plans be, that letter must definitely not influence them. Should you need a certain sum for something, it can still be arranged, and you simply should have mentioned such things earlier, then one could have made use of Philipp’s loan. [2]

It has already occurred to me that you might have some expenses associated with your excellent plan to undertake the Shakespeare project. [3] Please just let me know everything that is being discussed — and if you want, go ahead and suggest to Philipp directly yourself, for the sake of hastening things along, that he leave us use of the entire capital. [4] I will give him all the assurances he needs in this regard.

As far as the lectures here are concerned, nothing has happened yet because Schelling became somewhat more apprehensive once he had a closer look at things and was about to take steps on its behalf. [5] Not that there is any doubt about attracting an audience, but Carl, who spends a great deal of time among the students, has assured us that they are not at all disposed now to, as it were, commit themselves through subscription. They would far prefer simply to attend on their own, with no further commitment. [6] It would take someone like Winkelmann, a fly who shows up each and every time, to prompt them to come together the way he did for Friedrich. [7] Unfortunately, some people here still recall precisely this example with ill will. They did not find what they were looking for, and many ended up cursing themselves for having given their signature.

In any event, not even a third could be maintained by doing that. Schelling was thus thinking about doing it on the quiet and no doubt much more effectively. Later you yourself would have to post an announcement and, I might add, |275| fix a certain number. This, of course, is always open to you if nothing further is to happen just now. —

The aesthetic national groups are still completely in the power of Schütz and people like him. Not a single Livonian or Courlander, e.g., is attending Schelling’s lectures. [8]

There is a certain Doctor Fries, or whatever his name is, whose lectures on logic they are attending, a Schmidtian. [9] Loder allegedly also contributed to this situation by assuring his countrymen that Schelling would be “too difficult for beginners.”

Although all things will doubtless smooth out, it is highly probable that Schütz would now still try to thwart all tentatively planned courses. A great many Swiss have recently arrived.

It is still certain that you will be here this coming summer, is it not? I am, by the way, looking forward with great interest to hearing your plans. [10]

I must extol you, my dear friend, for having talked so differently upon receiving the first news about Ion instead of, like Narcissus, utterly immersing yourself in your own beautiful image. [11] — If out of sheer enthusiasm and haste I had not neglected to write “by way of Leipzig” next to the address that evening, those sorts of unhealthy reports would not have gotten to you before mine did. [12]

How could this person have learned so soon that the duke had gesticulated, and what Schiller had said, etc.? Schelling spent the entire following day at Goethe’s and heard the reports from town during the meal. But he did not hear this one, which also could only have been dispatched to them from town by Ritter and the peasant Meyer.

In any case, whenever Goethe comes, he can tell us for sure about the duke, who at least to me seemed extremely curious and anxious to get increasingly close but by no means impatient. [13]

Could Madam von Kotzebue, who sat on the side with the nobility, perhaps have related it to the Frommans, whence it then also reached Madam Veit? I will doubtless manage to |276| find it out, and Schiller’s exact assessment as well. [14] It would be very nice indeed were he really to have said something to that effect, very characteristic as well, since he always focuses on the logical connection and context at the cost of the poetic. [15]

For the rest, though, I simply know not how Ion, even in an initial consideration, could in the slightest be subject to reproach.

Divulging Tiek this early as the author of the illustrations — that would be very difficult. [16] Divulging Tiek would have meant divulging Schlegel, and be quite part of the mystery of the performance. All that can be taken care of later. If the piece is published, the illustrations must also be rendered in illuminated outlines.

I hope I will have the amusement of being able to enclose for you a review of the Maid of Orleans that just appeared in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and that construes the Maid according to the principles of the philosophy of nature. [17] It is actually a treatise composed merely on the occasion of the Maid, for there is very little of her in it but a great deal about potences, duplicity, and identity, even about magnets. [18] You will enjoy it. And it is the work of a young man, or rather of a youth, who intends to reveal himself to Schütz only after the latter has it printed. Herrmann, from Leipzig, submitted it.

I will probably also learn the name, since Carl Schelling is extremely close to a student to whom Schütz divulges everything. Schütz considers it to be an eminent piece and is basing his hopes in a new era for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on precisely this pillar. You will see that much in it is quite good, just nothing appropriate for this goal.

But do be so kind as to take note of the marked passage in which a certain someone is ignored. [19]

You have probably already seen the review of Maria Stuart; it almost seemed to me to be by Vermehren, or even by the précieux historian Breyer; [20] but the aforementioned student declares it is by Dellbrük, which is also quite credible. [21]

|277| But is it not quite comical that Schütz is taking in with such devotion precisely those who obviously are coming to him from Schelling’s lecture hall? Schelling thinks, considering various particulars, that this person was likely still attending his lectures as late as last summer.


What you write about Fichte now explains exactly what we had just learned beforehand, namely, that he sent a manifest to Schad in which he explicated his system to him yet again, maintaining, as usual, that Schelling does not understand him, but also saying afterward, as is not usual, that they were essentially in agreement.

Schad spent an entire evening talking about this letter especially with the ladies, and Madam Kilian recalled a great deal from it, [22] e.g., that Schelling’s “nature” was his “non-ego.” How charming that there is such active inclination around here for speculation.

Fichte indubitably did this out of anger. Schad, by the way, believes that, quite the reverse, this time it is Fichte who does not understand Schelling. [23]

What Cotta apparently said is incomprehensible. Perhaps he was merely entrenching himself against the possibility of Fichte’s displeasure. The only thing Schelling wrote him was — about undertaking a critical journal with Fichte, for which there was now little prospect, though he did add something about Fichte merely lacking both the inclination and the time. [24] We are very curious to see how it develops now. I am glad Schelling did not yet know anything about this when he wrote his last letter to F., [25] who afterward became quite cordial, and in an extremely unaffected way.

In the meantime, however, now that he knows it (he was here when your letter came, so I showed it to him quite without having any second thoughts), he is also wholly placid with regard to Fichte’s anger. He found the news about the 2 printer’s sheets of the Wissenschaftslehre extraordinarily peculiar. [26]

|278| You can tell from his few words about it that he did not consider Schleiermacher’s refusal to be entirely sincere, and we admittedly immediately suspected that Friedrich had exerted some direct influence in the matter. [27] Indirect influence is even worse, that is, if Schleiermacher is in general simply that slavishly afraid. So he really is worth no more than that? It makes me laugh to see how Friedrich’s powers as a prophet exert such a strong influence precisely on the Berliners. At the same time, however, it is precisely through such influence that Friedrich himself is coming to ruin. [28]

Since you mention Madam Sander as among his acquaintances, may I assume he is also the person to whom she complained about my alleged médisance? [29] Ah, what an ill connection! Doubt not that he is being quite crude in this matter and has no reservations about talking about me to these women. [30]

I will quite welcome the opportunity to meet him. — [31]

I inquired with the Tischbeins concerning how much it would cost to hire a carriage from Leipzig to Berlin and will make arrangements accordingly. [32] I do not, however, intend to make any plans for the money from Ion; instead, things will remain just as I wrote you previously. To wit, you will now have a disbursement to make with whose amount I will have to make do until further notice.

Madam Loder came to me with an urgent request for a pretty shawl, and to ensure that it is quite new and gustos, I am to ask Madam Unzelmann to pick it out [33] I will put all this down in a note and then depend on you to forward it to her on the spot, so that should you happen to receive this on Monday, the loaned jewel can depart on Tuesday. I am imagining it may well come to 3–4 louis d’or. [34]

Upon my soul, dear Schlegel, are you really planning to come to Potsdam to meet me? I accept. [35]


I just received the pages about the Maid. I must tell you, I am sorely tempted to submit the following to the Allgemeine Literatur Zeitung through a fourth or fifth or even sixth person removed: “The excellent and probably young and hopeful author committed this and this and this mistake in matters of chronology. Herr Hofrath Schütz would undeniably present this to him differently were he inclined to inquire of him in this regard.” Or something similar. I will give the matter some thought. [36]

Since this is, after all, costing me double postage, I will go ahead and enclose |279| the sketched or rather scribbled note from Tiek concerning the exhibition pictures to see whether the comparison might amuse all of you as much as it did me. [37]

On the other hand, I do have the following requests: Please write out clearly for me the underlined, utterly undecipherable words (for we here have made a legible copy of this muddled text and also cleaned it up a bit), and also let me know what Tiek wrote to his sister at the time about Hummel. I want to complement the files with it and then add Tiek’s drawing as well, which to my own considerable delight I intend to treat in precisely the same cavalier tone that he uses and yet that comes wondrously close to French mannerism.

Did Tiek’s Goethe arrive? [38] My own now looks divine on its extremely well-proportioned pedestal. [39] Goethe had his own padded a bit in the back so that it would incline more toward the front, which is supposed to give it a slender and lofty appearance. I did not find this necessary at all with respect to my own. Goethe has placed the bust in his own room.

What do Hummel and the others have to say? If you have anything to send to me, enclose it with the shawl, for example, the French comedies. [40]

One more thing. If Alarcos might happen to be published before I come, please send us a copy immediately. [41]

Since I had to write your brother in Hannover anyway, I could not resist giving them the pleasure of hearing about Ion, though I also forbade them from relating it to anyone else. [42] I also gave them a radiant report about the success of your lectures. Had I known about the thing with the prince, that would have been yet another treat for them. [43]

So, Fichte is now also lecturing? Oho! [44]

Stay well, my most beloved friend.

The cold weather has broken. Now there can again be lots of dung and horrific road conditions. [45]

Your C.

|280| You need to tell Unzeline that Madam Loder really is quite intent on her picking out the shawl. — If Unzeline has gotten hold of my Ionian reviews, then I probably praised our Ion a bit too much. [46]


[1] Caroline had just written to Wilhelm on 14 January 1802 (letter 340); in that letter, she had also discussed, among many other things, financial issues in their marriage (illustration: a wife presents her household financial ledger to her husband in person; Allmanach auf das Jahr nach der gnadenreichen Geburt Jesu Christi 1786; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[2] In her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340), Caroline mentions her plans to pay Philipp Michaelis back for an otherwise unspecified loan. Back.

[3] I.e., to continue the project now that Wilhelm had smoothed out his previously strained relationship with the Berlin publisher Johann Friedrich Unger. See Wilhelm’s undated letter to Unger in late 1801 (letter 338a). Back.

[4] Capital in French in original. Back.

[5] Caroline has spoken in previous letters about the possibility of Schelling helping Wilhelm arrange to lecture in Jena again during the coming summer semester, not least based on the perceived success of the performance of Wilhelm’s play Ion in Weimar on 2 January 1802. Back.

[6] I.e., without committing beforehand to attend (and pay for) a course of lectures; scholars who had earned the right to lecture but were non-salaried generally made use of this method.

Here illustrations of (1) students entering a lecture hall, and (2) a lecture hall in the law school in Leipzig from a slightly earlier period ([1] Ed. Heyck, Heidelberg Studentenleben zu Anfang unseres Jahrhunderts [Heidelberg 1886], plate following p. 14; [2] R. Hick et al., Auf Deutschlands hohen Schulen [Berlin 1900], 69):




[7] Friedrich Schlegel had begun lecturing in Jena on 27 October 1800; concerning his attempt to attract student commitments, see his letter to Wilhelm on 6 August 1800 (letter 265j). Things did not go well; see his letter to Wilhelm on 10 November 1800 (letter 274a). Back.

[8] That is, foreign students interested in aesthetics. Foreign students represented a not inconsiderable portion of the student body in Jena and tended to socialize and pursue their studies in national groupings. Back.

[9] Caroline is not entirely familiar with Johann Jakob Fries because he had only been lecturing in Jena since 1801, whereas she herself had only returned in April 1801. Back.

[10] Wilhelm did not return to Jena. Back.

[11] In her letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339), Caroline had given Wilhelm a thorough account of the premiere of Ion in Weimar.

Narcissus, a beautiful youth who was, however, inaccessible to the feeling of love. Echo, who was in love with him, died of grief. Nemesis punished Narcissus by causing him to see his own image reflected in a fountain, whereupon he became so enamored of the reflection that he gradually pined away and metamorphosed into the flower that bears his name (Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié, Narcisse [ca. 1769–1816]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur JCLavesseur AB 2.9):



[12] In her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340), Caroline had related that, as she had been told, “letters one sends on Thursday by way of Leipzig in fact arrive in Berlin as soon as those posted the preceding Monday.” The reference here is in any case to comments made about the performance of Ion that had as a result reached Wilhelm in Berlin before Caroline’s letter. Back.

[13] The implication seems to be that the duke was gesticulating impatiently for the actors to get on with the performance. In her account of the premiere in her letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339), however, Caroline remarks that

the duke went to every location in the theater to view her. As it happened, Vohss faltered just a bit when he revealed the possibility to Ion that he may be his father, the only tiny incident of faltering in the play. At that very moment, the duke had just positioned himself so near on the balcony that it also distracted the actors for a moment; but it was only a fleeting shadow within the overall performance.

Here illustrations of similar theater spectator arrangements with loges, parterre, and a balcony ([1] Der neuesten Moden Almanach auf das Jahr 1795; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung; [2] Joseph Richter, Bildergalerie weltlicher Misbräuche: Ein Gegenstück zur Bildergalerie katholischer und klösterlicher Misbräuche [Frankfurt, Leipzig 1785], illustration following p. 248):




[14] Concerning Schiller’s reaction to the play, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339) passim, though also with note 58. In that letter, Caroline similarly relates Goethe’s wry remark that he “would be surprised, though, that it pleased the old fellow [Schiller].” Caroline herself remarks in her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340) that Schiller “would perhaps be even more satisfied were he not so satisfied,” i.e., would have preferred the play to have fallen flat. Back.

[15] Unfortunately, Wilhelm’s letter has been lost in which he relates these alleged comments from Schiller. Back.

[16] Friedrich Tieck did (1) the illustrations for the costumes for Ion for Goethe, “Weimarisches Hoftheater: . . . Colorirte Darstellungen der antiken Costumes im Ion, wie sie auf dem Hoftheater in Weimar erschienen,” Journal des Luxus und der Moden 14 (1802) (March), 136–48. The characters are from left to right: Pythia, Xuthus, Ion, Creusa, Phorbas:


He also did (2) the frontispiece vignette for the published edition, Ion. Ein Schauspiel (Hamburg 1803):



[17] Apart from a few metrical remarks in part three (issue 16), the review of Friedrich Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie (Berlin 1802) in the

  • Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 14 (Thursday, 14 January 1802) 105–11;
  • 15 (Friday, 15 January 1802) 113–20; and
  • 16 (Saturday, 16 January 1802) 121–27,

by the Leipzig philologist and Rathsherr Johann August Apel, is abstract and abstruse.

Schiller himself was aggravated to find Schelling’s philosophy of nature applied to the work, and as a result lodged a protest with editor Christian Gottfried Schütz against such “metaphysics of art.” Schiller writes to Goethe on Wednesday, 20 January 1802 (Correspondence Between Goethe and Schiller 2:394–95):

Schütz has now also sent me a review of my Jungfrau von Orleans, which has been written by quite a different pen from that on my Mary [Maria Stuart. Ein Trauerspiel (Tübingen 1801)], and is moreover by an abler writer; it is at once evident that Schelling’s philosophy of art has been applied to the work.

But while reading it, it was very evident to me that another bridge is wanting between transcendental philosophy and the actual fact, inasmuch as the principles of the one against the reality of a given case look very strange, and either destroy it or are destroyed by it. In the whole review nothing is said of the actual work; it was, in fact, impossible to do so considering the path it pursued, as there is no transition from general, hollow formulas to any actual case.

And is this, then, what is called criticizing a work, where the reader who has not read it does not get even the remotest notion of it!

But it is evident from this that philosophy and art have, as yet, not comprehended each other at all, and have not penetrated one another, and we are more than ever conscious of the want of an organ to act as a medium between the two. In the Propylæa [Goethe’s periodical] this was attempted with regard to plastic art, but the Propylæa too started with that idea, and our more recent philosophers would prefer passing over directly from ideas to reality.

Accordingly, there is no other possibility than that what is generally said should prove hollow and empty, and that what is specially said should be flat and insignificant.

Schiller then writes to Schütz himself from Weimar on Friday, 22 January 1802 (Christian Gottfried Schütz. Darstellung seines Lebens, 2:422–23, albeit incorrectly dated to 20 October 1802) :

My esteemed friend, please accept my warmest thanks for the review of the Jungfrau von Orleans you graciously sent me. Although it attests a capable author, and I have reason to be quite satisfied with the kind opinion he has of me “and my poem,” I must nonetheless, in the interest of being truthful, confess that the demands a potential reader might justifiably make on a review are in no way fulfilled in this particular review. This review, if you will, is in fact an attempt to accommodate and apply his metaphysics of art to an extant work.

But a poetic work, to the extent even in hypothesi [hypothetically] it constitutes an organized, self-enclosed whole, must be judged from within itself rather than from the perspective of universal and precisely therefore hollow formulas, since the latter never exhibit any transition to the factum.

But you yourself have doubtless often had the opportunity to note how our most recent philosophy (even though its principles be accepted as true) does tend to limp in application, and that the attempts, even on the part of its initiators, to transition into the practical sphere have not been particularly successful, regardless of whether they have been undertaken in aesthetics, natural law, or politics.

In this regard, it has become increasingly clear to me that the major in a syllogism is easier than the minor [second and first terms of the conclusion in a syllogism], since precisely the youngest and most immature minds are more inclined to enter into the former than they are competent in dealing with the latter, which is, however, the foundation of criticism.

Hence I would summon the entire reading world to tell me whether the review quaestionis [in question] contains even the smallest actual perception of my play, whether in any of its sections the author of said review has addressed the inner economy of that play; for the individual and specific elements on which he touches are of no significance.

I am making this remark not so much as an author and to the extent I as such am interested in this matter, since I certainly have no reason to complain; it is rather simply as a reader and judge of art that I cannot let this lack of purposiveness go unchallenged.

You are far too deferential to me, my dear friend, if you believe that I myself might be best capable of taking of the task of critic and reviewer for my own plays. Ten years ago, I would have done so without hesitation, since at the time I had more faith in the theory of art and aesthetics than now.

Today, however, the two operations of poetic creation and theoretical analysis seem as different as the north and south poles to me, and I would necessarily fear utterly losing my footing in production were I to become too involved in theory. Although the latter is indeed absolutely necessary and essential in production itself, it is of a practical nature, and is more for the poet than the aesthetician.

And what, according to most recent experience, has been gained for poesy since aesthetics has been cultivated in this way? Vestigia terrent [“the footprints frighten me”; Horace]

Stay well, my most worthy friend, and maintain your friendship for me.

Schiller Back.

[18] Concepts related to Schelling’s philosophy of art and philosophy of nature. Back.

[19] Uncertain allusion. The allusion is perhaps to Wilhelm himself in issue 16, p. 119, where Apel addresses metrical issues:

The individual character of this play also includes its unique treatment of meter, in which regard it similarly distinguishes itself from other plays by the same author. Schiller was the first to try to lend to German drama an element of alternation deriving from rhymed and unrhymed iambics, which earlier no one [i.e., Wilhelm among others] had tried to imitate on the basis of the original even in translations of Shakespeare

Caroline, however, may well have a different passage in mind. Back.

[20] Précieux (Caroline: precieus) in French in original; “precious,” here: “affected.” Back.

[21] It was indeed Johann Friedrich Ferdinand Delbrück, a schoolteacher in Berlin, who reviewed Friedrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart. Ein Trauerspiel (Tübingen 1801) in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 1 (Friday, 1 January 1801) 1–8; 2 (Saturday, 2 January 1802) 9–16. Back.

[22] Taschenkalender auf das Jahr 1798 für Damen; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Little seems to be known about Konrad Joseph Kilian’s wife; Kilian himself was a resolute adherent of Schelling’s philosophy of nature. Back.

[23] The letter Fichte wrote to Johann Baptist Schad is reproduced in Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel (1856), 129–31, in Fichte Briefwechsel (1930), 2:343–44, and in Gesamtausgabe, Abteilung 3, vol. 5:100–02:

29 December 1801

Concerning Professor Schelling, I am not unfamiliar with that which you so kindly report to me. I hope that my new presentation, which will appear at Easter, will expose in all its nakedness his allegation that he has continued my system, a system that he has in fact never understood.

It may well be that his philosophy of nature, insofar as he seems to focus on utterly destroying appearances, could not be based on my metaphysics. And what is one to say concerning his new — transfigured! — Spinozism, in which he successfully allows the absolute to exist under quantitative forms, as does admittedly also Spinoza as well as all dogmatism. Can he who is so little acquainted with the true source of the entire concept of quantity and, with it, of all manifoldness ever have known what critical idealism is?

Of course, Schelling has never known this. He quite clearly reveals now that he has believed that the science of knowledge [Fichte’s theory] derives the thing from the act of knowing the thing, and that thus he himself formerly genuinely did intend it as such in his own idealism; [and] that he accordingly understood the science of knowledge as did Friedrich Nicolai as well. —

I was greatly pleased to have seen from several of your own reviews in the Erlanger Litteratur-Zeitung that you, my worthy friend, do not share this prejudice, one I must almost consider universally widespread at this point. My new presentation will, I think, put an end to this situation. It will show that the absolute (to which, precisely because it is the absolute, no predicate, neither that of knowing nor of being, and just as little that of the non-difference of the two, can be attributed) must be taken as the foundation: that it expresses itself as reason in and of itself, quantifies itself, splits itself into knowing and being, and only in this form becomes an infinitely differentiating identity of knowing and being.

Only in this fashion can it stand firmly as the εν και παν [Gk., “one and all”], though not such that, as in Spinoza, it lose the εν when coming to the παν, nor the παν when it has the εν. Reason alone has the infinite, since it can never comprehend the absolute; and only the absolute, which never, however, except formaliter [formally, positively], enters into reason, is the one, wholly qualitative alone, never quantitative etc.

Stay well.

Fichte Back.

[24] Concerning this failed project and the possible participation of Tübingen publisher Johann Friedrich Cotta, see the supplementary appendix about the Romantics’ Jahrbücher project. Cotta was now publishing Schelling and Hegel’s Kritisches Journal der Philosophie (Tübingen 1802–03) without Fichte. Back.

[25] Schelling’s letter to Fichte of 4 January 1802 has been lost, though Caroline describes it briefly in her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340):

Schelling wrote him such a cordial, warm letter that I would think Fichte would once again be on good terms with him. That letter brought to expression all the enthusiasm of the most sincere intentions.

Concerning the increasingly strained relationship between the two men, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339a), esp. notes 6–8. Back.

[26] Schelling responded from Jena to Fichte in Berlin on 25 January 1802 in the last extant letter of their correspondence (Fichtes und Schellings philosophischer Briefwechsel (1856), 126–29; Fuhrmans 2:383–85; translated in The Philosophical Rupture Between Fichte and Schelling: Selected Texts and Correspondence (1800–1802), ed. Michael G. Vater and David W. Wood, SUNY Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy [Albany 2012], 74–75; retranslated here as a courtesy to visitors of this site, since the letter is of considerable significance):

First and foremost, I am quite willing to do without knowing the name of the person who believes to have read a declaration from me contra you. You are right, it is enough that it in fact nowhere exists.

As far as the personal insults are concerned of which you accuse me, let me ask that you not take them as such, though I have no wish to conceal that everything that might have the appearance of such in my letter seemed merely to echo the spirit of your own tone against me, though I do nonetheless believe to have allowed myself nothing that might correspond, e.g., to your own offer in your last letter for me to come around, and I would also ask you to consider whether, everything else notwithstanding, any rather tangled statement with respect to a friend, as found in the announcement of the Wissenschaftslehre [in January 1801], must not prompt the quite justified sensitivity of that friend even more strongly than anything that might be said in a more straightforward fashion.

A straightforward path and sincerity of disposition have always guided me with respect to our relationship, and will continue to do so undeterred. I allowed myself merely to relate to you what I myself think of our relationship, nor have I ever denied my respect for you to a third party.

I, by contrast (among others as well), have recently learned of a missive from your side to a third party maintaining that you intend to “expose in all its nakedness” my allegation etc., and that I have never understood the science of knowledge any better than does Friedrich Nicolai, along with several other statements that are difficult to justify as long as the element of respect endures that you asseverate even in the most extreme cases.

Even more than in the case of the initial argumentation in the withheld response that you now enclose, concerning the quantitative element in my understanding of the absolute, which you derived not from my Darstellung §25 [“Darstellung meines Systems der Philosophie,” Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 2 (1801) 1:1–127, here 15–16: “With respect to absolute identity, no quantitative difference is conceivable”], which you are invited to read, but from overlooking the second half of the clause in my letter, which reads: “This absolute exists (appears) under the form of the quantitative difference individually and in the same non-difference in the whole,” — I had to smile even more at the fact that in the previously mentioned missive the same presupposition, namely, that I “successfully allow the absolute to exist under quantitative forms” — is in its own turn successfully used as a primary argument against me, whereby I am, of course, pleased to find at the end of the piece traces of an indirect confirmation of your direct statement: “As far as the real matter is concerned, we are probably of the same opinion.”

It follows quite naturally that in this sense that some things have changed in the matter since my last letter. Although the declaration written by me that so embittered you in fact does not exist, your own ambiguous statements in the announcement of the Wissenschaftslehre and well as the letter to Herr Schad do indeed exist in reality.

I will wait for your new presentation to appear. If in it you take Spinoza as your imaginary adversary, such also does not really seem to me to be the most straightforward path, moreover, it can easily enough lead you to refute more than is actually contained in Spinoza (assuming it will not be less), and I myself then have the double task of distinguishing precisely between what is from him and what from me, as well as to do what is otherwise necessary insofar as I have no intention of allowing him to be misconstrued under my name, nor I under his.

That is all I can respond to you just now. It is still my plan and hope to see you personally in the spring.


Horst Fuhrmans remarks concerning this final statement (Fuhrmans 2:385):

Although Schelling really was in Berlin for three weeks in May 1802, he probably did not visit Fichte. Their common cause and relationship was over. There were no more letters between the two. —

For the rest, Fichte probably did know about Schelling’s presence in Berlin, since A. W. Schlegel was seeing Fichte at the time, and Caroline probably also encountered Fichte there. She seems to have borrowed Fichte’s carriage for the trip home (at least as far as Leipzig; moreover, Schelling and A. W. Schlegel likely traveled with her as well). See Caroline to A. W. Schlegel several days before the return trip [letter 359 in present edition]: “Fichte is loaning me his carriage, and since I alone will be obliged to him for doing so, I see absolutely no problem in accepting the offer. I am hoping that four persons can fit into it comfortably.” Back.

[27] Schelling had solicited Schleiermacher to do a review; see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 January 1802 (letter 339a), note 9. Friedrich Schlegel had been staying with Schleiermacher in Berlin and had long had a strained relationship with Schelling. Back.

[28] In her letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340), Caroline bemoans the negative influence of Friedrich’s intense socializing with the (Jewish) “nation” in Berlin. See esp. note 30 there. Back.

[29] Fr., “gossip, slander, backbiting.” See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340) concerning the indirect long-distance quarrel with Sophie Sander. Here a satirically illustrated gossip-mongering — Fr., médisant — tea-circle at the time (“Ein Thé — médisant,” Taschenbuch auf das Jahr 1803: Dem Edeln und Schönen der frohen Laune und der Philosophie des Lebens gewidmet [1804], plate 5; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[30] During the coming years, Friedrich becomes increasingly inclined to speak disparagingly about Caroline; some of those remarks appear in letters cited here. Back.

[31] Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to “Madam Loder came to me.” The omitted text reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription by the translator and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Ich habe bei
Tischbeins angefragt wie viel eine
Fuhr von Leip. nach Berlin kostet, u
will mich dann danach einrichten.
Auf das Geld vom Jon [Jan(uar)?] will ich
aber keine Einrichtung machen, sondern
es bleibt dabey was ich dir zulezt schrieb
und zwar wirst du jetzt eine
Auslage zu machen bekommen, mit
deren Betrag ich bis zu weitrer
Nachricht mich [zu] begnügen habe. Back.

[32] The family of Johann Friedrich August Tischbein was living in Leipzig at the time; Caroline was planning to travel to Berlin by way of Leipzig. Here the postal route from Jena to Berlin via Leipzig, on the one hand, or Halle, on the other (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):




[33] Shawl and gustos (Italian [gusto]: “[good] taste”) as written in original. Caroline mentions this shawl again in her letter to Wilhelm on 21 January 1802 (letter 342).

Caroline elsewhere similarly requests that preferably Friederike Unzelmann undertake such purchases for women in Berlin (illustrations: Almanach, Der neuesten Moden [Vienna 1795]):



Erich Schmidt did not include in his edition the text that begins here and extends to “Upon my soul, dear Schlegel.” The omitted text reads as follows in the manuscript (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels; line breaks as in original; transcription by the translator and Hedwig T. Durnbaugh):

Dieses werd
ich auf einen Zettel thun, und ich lege
dirs ans Herz ihn auf der Stelle an sie
zu befördern, damit wenn du dieß
etwa Montags erhalten solltest,
Dienstags das verborgte Kleinod
abgehn könne. Es kann wohl auf
3-4 louisd’or kommen stell ich
mir vor. Back.

[34] The reference to the “borrowed jewel [or precious thing]” is uncertain. Back.

[35] At the time, Potsdam (also: Pozdam), located just over 40 km southwest of Berlin, was one of the last postal stations before actually reaching Berlin (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]; Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; illustration: F. Meyer and Andreas Ludwig Krüger, Troisieme vue de la Ville de Potsdam [1772]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur ALKrüger AB 1.35):





[36] Caroline does not seem to have acted on this possibility. Back.

[37] Friedrich Tieck’s “scribbled note” concerning the pictures (entries) in the recent Weimar art competition has been lost. Concerning this competition and its results (and treatment of Friedrich Tieck), see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11–14 January 1802 (letter 340). Back.

[38] Viz., Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Goethe (Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik [Leipzig 1906], plate 2, following p. 24):


See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), note 50; also her letter to Wilhelm on 16 November 1801 (letter 330), note 3 with cross references. Back.

[39] That is, Caroline’s own cast of Tieck’s bust of Goethe; in her letter to Wilhelm on 26 November 1801 (letter 332), she mentions that Friedrich Schlegel had stopped by to see it. Back.

[40] Concerning the French comedies, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20–21 December 1801 (letter 336) with note 12. Back.

[41] Concerning Friedrich Schlegel’s play Alarcos (Berlin 1802), which was published in mid-March 1802, see Caroline’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi in late May 1802 (letter 361) and the supplementary appendix on reactions to the play. Back.

[42] This letter unfortunately seems not to be extant. Back.

[43] Uncertain allusion; presumably a reference to a prince who was attending Wilhelm’s lectures in Berlin. Back.

[44] At first, Fichte gave his lectures in his apartment in Berlin. Here Fichte lecturing (Henschel, Schiller Nationalmuseum Marbach):



[45] Excerpt from Peter Paul Rubens, Schelte Polstert (engraver), Landschaft mit einem Pferdewagen bei Nacht, ca. 1620–59; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur SBolswert AB 2.30:



[46] That is, excessively praised the performance of the character Ion by the Weimar actress Karoline Jagemann; Friederike Unzelmann would perform the role in Berlin. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott