Letter 356b

356b. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 4 April 1802 [*]

Jena, 4 April 1802

My sincere thanks, my good friend, for your extraordinarily cordial efforts with respect to a potential publisher for my dialogue. [1] Could I but be so fortunate as to perform a similar service to you as well on a more pleasant occasion! . . . [Instructions concerning the publication.]

I will be absolutely delighted if you manage to find this dialogue stylistically pleasing. [2]

It is my first attempt, and I am hoping to continue further on this particular path and become increasingly at home in the genre. [3]

That a mind as harmonious as Hülsen’s is able to recognize himself in my philosophical ideas delights me as much as it will if Fichte now increases his polemic against me. [4] I certainly need no more evidence in this regard, and am quite sure of where I stand with him.

Caroline has probably related to you what is behind the alleged journey to B[erlin]. I used it in a letter to F[ichte] merely as a turn of phrase or complimentary closing. [5] In the meantime, however, I have been thinking about the plan more seriously after all insofar I would very much like to see B[erlin] and spend a least a short time there. But now all sorts of other difficulties have arisen that prevent me from being able to count on genuinely carrying it out. [6]

Let me ask that you pass along my thanks to your brother for Alarcos, just as I thank you myself. [7] It is certainly to be reckoned among his most noteworthy productions, with a completely unique, special construction and a remarkable combination of different styles, simultaneously so ancient and yet so modern, the likes of which I have never yet quite seen. But I cannot yet really have any opinion on it. [8]

I intend to inquire with Goethe either in person, if the opportunity arises, or, more likely, in writing. It seems he is currently devoting himself entirely to the theater. [9] He staged Mahomet again last week, rehearsing Mademoiselle Jagemann as Séide, Mademoiselle Maass as Palmire. [10] Before the troupe departs, [11] everything is to be performed, one piece after the other, which is being viewed as a grand step — Ion, the Adelphen, Turandot, Tancred, [12] and — which you must also relate to Caroline — Don Carlos, but entirely new and reworked by Schiller himself. [13]

That you yourself have not produced anything else this summer but your lectures can certainly be understood in light of productions such as Ion, in view of which, however, surely nothing much has been lost through the pause. No doubt you will surprise the world anew with something quite different from but at the same time harmonious with Ion.

As for the comedy of intrigue, I have heard nothing more from Goethe other than what you yourself already know. [14]

I will relate some other things that may be of interest to you in my letter to Caroline, from whom I yearn to hear good news. [15]

Stay well, and be assured of my sincerest gratitude for your cordial efforts, which I do in any event anticipate will bear quite pleasant fruit, and to which I cannot but feel some reserve in now adding the proofs as well. [16]

Yours truly,


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:361–63; Fuhrmans 2:395–98, here 397–98; Briefe 2:1:424–27.

By this time, Caroline and Schelling were, by any other name, a couple; yet the relationship between Schelling and Wilhelm Schlegel continued as, perhaps surprisingly, one of mutual scholarly and even personal support, as seen in coming letters. Such remained the case even after Caroline and Wilhelm decided to seek not just a separation, but an official divorce, a decision prompted by an otherwise obscure incident during Caroline’s trip to Berlin.

In coming letters, Wilhelm supports Schelling even publicly not least in the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death that emerges during 1802, and Schelling supports Wilhelm in securing the divorce during 1802 and on into 1803, not least by trying to circumvent appearances before the consistory.

Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Scheidung (“divorce”) (1788), Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.775:


The local church consistory generally had the last word in cases of divorce. Here Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki’s illustrations of (1) a meeting of hierarchical consistory members ca. 1774, and (2) an individual having to appear before such a consistory ([1] “Ein hierarchisches Konsistorium,” from the Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate LXXIII d; [2] Sebaldus vor dem Consistorium [1774]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [1-51]; both illustrations Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [1-15]):




[1] Concerning Schelling’s problems with Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge. Ein Gespräch and Wilhelm’s offers of help, see his letter to Wilhelm on 29 March 1802 (letter 356a), note 2. Back.

[2] See Friedrich Schlegel’s reaction to Bruno in his letter to Schleiermacher on 15 September 1802 (in Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 [letter 371c], note 32). Back.

[3] Schelling had planned for similar dialogues to follow Bruno, the first being on mythology. For various reasons, however, these dialogues did not materialize, and by Schelling’s own admission much of what was to constitute the second was incorporated in his publication Philosophie und Religion (Tübingen 1804) (see its preface); certain explications on mythology and poesy were likely also incorporated into his posthumously published lectures on the philosophy of art. Back.

[4] August Ludwig Hülsen maintained a loose correspondence with Wilhelm. Concerning the strained and ultimately doomed relationship with Fichte, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 22. Back.

[5] Schelling had concluded his final letter to Fichte (25 January 1802) with the words “It is still my plan and hope to greet you personally in the spring [in Berlin],” intended merely as an embellishment with which to close the letter rather than seriously. For the text to that letter, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), note 26. Back.

[6] Schelling did end up following Caroline to Berlin later in the spring, probably in late April or early May, but apparently did not see Fichte there. Back.

[7] Wilhelm had recommended Friedrich’s play Alarcos to Goethe for performance (see his letter to Goethe of 17 March 1802, Körner-Wieneke 130). It was indeed performed in Weimar on 29 May 1802 in Friedrich’s presence, who had returned from Dresden with Dorothea Veit. See the supplementary appendix on the reactions to Alarcos. Back.

[8] Schelling’s assessment here, of course, is prudently ambiguous. Back.

[9] On the evening of 3 April 1802, Goethe attended the performance of Mahomet (see below) in Weimar, and on 5 April left Weimar to spend several days at his estate in Oberrossla, also visiting Christoph Martin Wieland at the latter’s estate in Ossmanstädt on 8 April 1802, and returning to Weimar on 11 April 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:54). That is, Schelling had little opportunity to meet with him in Weimar.

Concerning Goethe’s estate, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 20 April 1801 (letter 310), note 16. Back.

[10] Goethe’s own adaptation Mahomet: Trauerspiel in fünf Aufzügen nach Voltaire (Tübingen 1802) was performed in Weimar on Saturday, 3 April 1802 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 43); Caroline Jagemann played the male role of Séide, Wilhelmine Maass the female role of Palmire. Back.

[11] Concerning the Weimar troupe’s residency and performances outside Weimar itself over the course of the year, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 11 May 1801 (letter 315), note 2. Back.

[12] Wilhelm’s play Ion: ein Schauspiel was not performed again in Weimar after its premiere on 2 January 1802.

The rest of the plays in order:

Friedrich Hildebrand von Einsiedel’s adaptation of the play Die Brüder. Ein Lustspiel nach Terenz in fünf Akten (Leipzig 1802), was performed on 31 May 1802. Schiller’s Turandot. Prinzessin von China. Ein tragicomisches Mährchen nach Gozzi (Tübingen 1802) was performed on on 24 April 1802. But Goethe’s adaptation Tancred: Trauerspiel in 5 Aufzügen nach Voltaire (Tübingen 1802) was last performed in Weimar only on 16 January 1802, and not performed again during the present season. All performance dates from Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 42–43. Back.

[13] Schiller’s play, Dom Karlos: Infant von Spanien (also: Don Carlos), parts of which Schiller published in his journal Die Thalia, then in full in 1787; his reworking of the play in 1801, 1802, and 1805 involved considerable shortening, though Schiller also prepared a prose version for theater companies unable to cope with the verse. It was performed in Weimar as the concluding offering of the season on 19 June 1802 (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 43).

These plays, including Tancred, were performed during the 1802 summer theater season in Lauchstädt according to the following schedule (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 43–44):

27 June: Einsiedel’s Die Brüder
1 July: Goethe’s Tancred
8 July: Schiller’s Turandot
29 July: Wilhelm’s Ion
31 July: Einsiedel’s Die Brüder
5 August: Schiller’s Don Karlos
9 August: Wilhelm’s Ion

Similarly in Rudolstadt during that summer (Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 44–45):

22 August: Einsiedel’s Die Brüder
24 August: Wilhelm’s Ion
27 August: Schiller’s Don Karlos
5 September: Schiller’s Turandot

Caroline and Schelling attend the opening of the new theater in Lauchstädt on 26 June 1802. What Schelling does not mention and cannot have known at this point is that Friedrich Schlegel’s Alarcos was also performed during the spring and summer of 1802: in Weimar itself on 29 May (its premiere); then in Lauchstädt on 13 July and in Rudolstadt on 16 September Das Repertoire des Weimarischen Theaters 43–45). Back.

[14] In her letter to Wilhelm on 11 March 1802 (letter 353), Caroline had remarked that “if Goethe had only had the intrigue with him, the one in question, I would go ahead and read it this evening. He will send it to Schelling as soon as he is back in Weimar.”

Concerning this intrigue by Sophie Bernhardi that Wilhelm had entered in a competition arranged by Goethe and Schiller in 1801, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 15 February 1802 (letter 347), note 12. Concerning the ultimate fait of this intrigue, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 14 August 1801 (letter 327a), note 16. Back.

[15] At the end of his next letter to Wilhelm, on 12 April 1802 (letter 356c), Schelling remarks that he is growing worried at still having received no news yet from Caroline in Berlin. Back.

[16] Wilhelm had agreed to read the proofs to Schelling’s Bruno. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott