Letter 356a

356a. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 29 March 1802 [*]

Jena, 29 March 1802

Caroline has hopefully, or even certainly already successfully arrived in B., and if the journey has not otherwise strained her excessively, you will no doubt be pleased with her improved health. [1]

I am often grieved that I recently burdened you with such a presumptuous request. [2] Please do excuse it with my sincerest assurances. [3] Perhaps I will have the good fortune of receiving a letter from you soon; in the meantime, let me ask that you pass the enclosed one on to Caroline, [4] to whom I pass along my warm regards.



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:359; Fuhrmans 2:394; Briefe 2:1:420.. Back.

[1] Fuhrmans (2:394n1) wondered whether Schelling did not mean “Berlin” instead of “Braunschweig,” as was the traditional reading since Plitt, 1:359, and, following him, Georg Waitz, (1882), 96. Caroline herself speaks only about routes to Berlin by way of Leipzig (letter to Wilhelm on 1 March 1802 [letter 349]) and Halle (letter to Wilhelm on 3 March 1802 [letter 350]) Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Nowhere in extant letters does Caroline mention having traveled to Berlin by way of Braunschweig, nor that Wilhelm had met her there to accompany her to Berlin as might be suggested by Schelling’s wording here, a journey that not least for financial considerations would have been highly unlikely for Wilhelm.

Caroline may well have had reason enough to go to Braunschweig, since her mother, who was living with Caroline’s sister, Luise, in Braunschweig, was apparently quite ill, something attested by a letter from Luise that Wilhelm had forwarded on to Caroline (see Caroline’s letter to him on 18 March 1802 [letter 356]).

Schelling’s letter, however, does not mention “Braunschweig” in any case, but rather simply “B.,” which Gustav Plitt took to mean B[raunschweig], a reading subsequent editors perpetuated: “Hoffentlich oder vielmehr ganz gewiß ist Caroline glüklich in B. angekom(m)en, . . .” (Digitale Edition der Korrespondenz August Wilhelm Schlegels):


One might note that, in his next letter to Wilhelm not even a week later (letter 356b), Schelling uses the same abbreviation “B.” to refer unequivocally to “Berlin.” In any event, the most recent historical-critical edition of Schelling’s letters (Briefe 2:1:420) does indeed read “B.[erlin]” in its transcription.

This change in reading, however, has broader implications, to wit, concerning Caroline’s traveling conmpanion.

As noted in Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (letter 356), note 2, if her traveling companion was indeed, as suggested by that letter and by comments in previous letters (see cross references there), Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer, the detour by way of Braunschweig seems even more implausible, though certainly not impossible.

Schelling’s chronology in this letter also potentially militates against the Braunschweig route. Writing on 29 March 1802, ten days after Caroline’s last letter to Wilhelm on 18 March 1802 (discounting for the moment the possibility that Caroline may have written Wilhelm after that date despite remarking that she was not planning to do so), he remarks that he is almost certain that Caroline has already arrived in Berlin.

Caroline, however, was anticipating a journey of approximately four days, as she remarks in her letter to Wilhelm on 4 March 1802 (letter 351) concerning an itinerary that was eventually abandoned:

we will now not be leaving until the day on which I had originally planned to arrive, namely, Wednesday, 10 March, traveling first to Naumburg and on by way of Halle, then departing Potsdam on the morning of the 14th to arrive in Berlin.

From letter 356, we know that Caroline was still in Jena on 18 March and was awaiting a missive from Grattenauer from Weimar almost certainly the following day, 19 March, and that her sister, Luise, seems already to have expected her to be in Berlin even before 18 March 1802 — not in Braunschweig — since Wilhelm had to forward her letter to Caroline back in Jena.

We do not know the date of Caroline’s departure, nor does she ever explicitly mention her eventual traveling companion, but cumulative evidence points to Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Grattenauer himself.

See her correspondence with Wilhelm beginning with her letter to him on 1 March 1802 (letter 349) through 18 March 1802 (letter 356). See esp. her letter to him on 8 March 1802 (letter 352), note 3 and on 18 March 1802 (letter 356), notes 2 and 4.

In any event, the circuitous route from Jena to Braunschweig and from Braunschweig to Berlin would hardly have left even a day or two at most for her visit in Braunschweig, which, given her mother’s alleged condition, seems hardly to have been worth the extra travel (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Schelling, moreover, assumes that Caroline is almost certainly already in Berlin, which would have left even less time in Braunschweig. Nor, as already mentioned, do we know her exact departure date from Jena; every extra day makes the detour through Braunschweig even less plausible.

Although these considerations are admittedly speculative, evidence suggests that Caroline did indeed await Grattenauer’s arrival and traveled with him directly to Berlin by way of Halle or, less likely, Leipzig (see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 March 1802 [letter 350], note 3), and that they likely did not leave Jena until 20, 21 March 1802 or perhaps even later (one might note Caroline’s impatience and vexation in letter 356 on 18 March 1802 at the possibility of having to wait even longer). Back.

[2] Schelling had encountered what eventually became insurmountable problems with the Jena publisher Christian Ernst Gabler with respect to the anticipated publication of Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch, eventually published in 1802 in Berlin by Johann Friedrich Unger. In his letter to Wilhelm on 19 March 1802 (Plitt 1:356–58; Fuhrmans 2:389–91), he hastily outlined the problems and solicited Wilhelm’s help in securing another publisher, possibly in Berlin.

Because Schelling had originally planned to publish Bruno in installments in his journal Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik, and because Gabler had already initiated printing of the initial installment, the issue with securing a new publisher quickly became complicated. Schelling ultimately decided to publish Bruno with Friedrich Unger in Berlin and the continuation of his journal with Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen as the Neue Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik, whose first issue appeared in August 1802.


Caroline explicates these problems in her letters to Wilhelm on 15 February 1802 (letter 347); 22 February 1802 (letter 348); 11 March 1802 (letter 353); and 18 March 1802 (letter 356). Back.

[3] Schelling was grieved at having to solicit Wilhelm’s help with respect to the publisher Friedrich Unger also because of the vitriolic break between the two after Unger had published reprints of a volume of Wilhelm’s edition of Shakespeare without Wilhelm’s prior knowledge (see supplementary appendix 309.1). Wilhelm had, however, reconciled with Unger in the meantime (see his letter to Unger in late 1801 (letter 338a). Back.

[4] Not extant. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott