Letter 361a

361a. Schelling to His Father in Murrhardt: Jena, 28 May 1802 [*]

Jena, 28 May 1802

Your letter, dearest Father, truly delighted me. Without a doubt, you are justified in entertaining the greatest hopes for Karl, and if he continues to be supported as has hitherto been the case, something to which I myself intend to contribute when I come to Württemberg, those hopes will doubtless be fulfilled. I figure that the church council, which spent nothing on me, will turn out to be all the more generous toward Karl. [1] I am thinking about making a request myself on his behalf to the director and the most eminent members of the council, and even to call on Herr von Palm and commend Karl to him.

What it was impossible for him to learn here, that is, things for which there are simply no provisions or opportunity here — are the practical principles in the more concrete sense. [2] — Neither the instructors nor the institutions here were qualified to provide him with instruction as thorough as I demanded; and in my opinion it is better to learn such things with utter thoroughness or not at all.

All the more diligently did I try to ground him in the purely theoretical material, a reliable foundation on which, once he has the opportunity, he can easily build further. Kielmeyer in Tübingen will complete his theoretical training.

The practical training cannot be acquired at universities lacking hospitals and larger medical clinics. He will acquire such in abundance in Bamberg, where Marcus — the greatest practical genius in this area I myself have gotten to know, my close friend and follower, who, moreover, was delighted with Karl’s company and has in every letter since asked me to entrust Karl to him for his final practical training — could provide considerable advantage for him. Marcus will not treat him as a normal student, but will instead initiate him through direct contact and example into all the secrets of the medical arts.

The next stop is Vienna, where he will again find many friends. There he would finish his medical apprenticeship and be equally equipped for both a theoretical and practical career. And such is also his own opinion, namely, that he might combine the two. [3]

Your invitation to come visit is so charming that, were I not already resolved to do so, I could not resist in any case.

It is just that another journey, one from which I have just returned, came between — a journey to Berlin I long planned and suddenly decided to take during this break. [4] This has set me back a few weeks such that I doubt I will be able to depart from here before the end of June. I am still hoping that Madame Schlegel will make the trip with me; [5] she has need of a mineral-springs spa, and would have access to such in Württemberg.

Karl has probably already told you what I owe to her. She has been my closest, dearest friend for several years now, someone who has taken an interest in everything that concerns me. [6] It would be as difficult for me to be separated from her as to leave her behind here. [7] You will be enhancing and extending my stay in Swabia by offering her logis and sojourn. [8] Compared to the usual Saxon fare, the frugal Swabian cuisine is exquisite.

In general, you will encounter in Madame Schlegel not only an extremely intelligent, but also an extremely charming, cordial, and good woman, one whose company will be a pleasure not only for my sister and mother, but certainly equally for you yourself. [9] If you might provide a room for her with a view out into the open, one that also enjoys sunshine, I am certain she will enjoy her stay with you in every possible respect. —

The initial part of the stay in Swabia will be dedicated to the mineral-springs therapy, with which Madame Schlegel will spend July. [10] We will spend August and September, however, completely with you. Perhaps you might resolve to employ the leisure afforded you by your current position to accompany us to Wildbach or Teinach. [11] Having access to a mineral-springs spa would doubtless be extremely salutary for your health, for both of you. Might I ask that in the meantime you inquire concerning which of the two spas is the most restorative and how one might arrange a stay there at the most reasonable cost? —

We for our part will strive to make our stay in Murrhard as pleasant for you as possible and to demonstrate our gratitude for your cordial and hospitable reception as often as possible. I thought it justifiable to solicit my father’s house for Madame Schlegel beforehand for this trip insofar as I have the prospect of making a longer trip to Italy with her. [12] Let me ask, however, that for the time being you mention neither this possibility nor the trip to Swabia to anyone except your closest acquaintances. [13] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:370–72; Fuhrmans 2:405–7.

Schelling’s father had become prelate in Murrhardt (Murrhard) on the Murr River in the SwabianFranconian Forest in Württemberg in 1801 after having been dean in Schorndorf since 1791. Murrhardt is located ca. 50 km northeast of Stuttgart and ca. 365 km from Jena (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 23; second map: Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angroenzenden Laendern [Vienna 1805]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):



Here Murrhardt ca. 1850, water color by Pieter Francis Peters, with the multi-story parsonage visible to the right of the Church of St. Januarius, the latter at center right (Württembergische Landesbibliothek, catalogue 379840278, Graphische Sammlungen Württembergica, Signatur Schef.qt.5385c):


This letter is of interest for various reasons.

(1) In its first part, Schelling, who, as mentioned earlier, was entering a period during which he had more contact with medical scholars and physicians than with philosophers, provides at least a glimpse of his broader understanding of medical education and the distinction between university theoreticians, on the one hand, and practicing physicians, on the other, a distinction he thought should be balanced out (here: in Karl Schelling’s education).

Such a combination of theory and practice could be found, he suggests, in Bamberg, where Adalbert Friedrich Marcus was also head of the Bamberg General Hospital, which Schelling, Caroline, and Wilhelm Schlegel had visited back in August of 1800, after the death of Auguste in Bocklet.

Concerning another perspective on this distinction, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 29 June 1801 (letter 323), note 9, with the cross reference there to the discussion of surgeons in the supplementary appendix on the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death.

(2) Schelling also offers an eloquent testimony to his attachment to Caroline; because most of his letters to her seem no longer to be extant, such remarks are all the rarer (Bergisches Taschenbuch für 1798: Zur Belehrung und Unterhaltung; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


(3) Finally, the copious plans for the future that Schelling envisions in this letter, including not least a journey to Italy with Caroline, arguably attest his disenchantment or at least dissatisfaction with his position in Jena. Contemporaneous geopolitical conditions and developments, however, including the Wars of the Coalition, repeatedly put obstacles in their way.

Concerning these developments and their influence on Caroline and Schelling’s anticipated journey to Italy as early as the spring of 1803, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 April 1803 (letter 377b), note 1. Back.

[1] The Württemberg consistory customarily supported future scholars and scientists financially for educational trips abroad (i.e., outside Württemberg); e.g., such support enabled H. E. G. Paulus to spend time in England during the academic year 1787–88. Back.

[2] Concerning Karl Schelling’s arrival in Jena to study medicine, see Schelling’s letter to his parents on 29 December 1798 (letter 213a) along with the editorial note to that letter. Back.

[3] See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 3 May 1802 (letter 357a).

Karl Schelling, however, did not study under Marcus in Bamberg. Instead he began further study in Tübingen in May 1802, took his medical exams there in 1803, and traveled thence to Vienna for training in ophthalmology. He eventually settled in Stuttgart (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Besetztere und illuminierte Landkarte von Deutschland, 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 xlv):



[4] That is, the break between the winter and summer semesters at the university in Jena.

No documents seem to specify exactly when Schelling departed Jena for Berlin, though he himself mentions later that he traveled by way of Halle rather than Leipzig Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


He was in any case present in Berlin for the premiere of Wilhelm’s play Ion there on 15 May 1802. He departed Berlin for Leipzig with both Caroline and Wilhelm (and Caroline’s maidservant Rose) on 19 May 1802, then departed Leipzig for Jena with Caroline and Rose on 24 May 1802, arriving that evening (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[5] Schelling and Caroline did not make the trip to Swabia until a year later, in May 1803, after her divorce from Wilhelm Schlegel was granted. Back.

[6] Friedrich Schlegel remarks in a letter to Schleiermacher on 14 February 1800 (letter 258n) that Caroline and Wilhelm had been “privately separated” since early September 1799 and that she was already linked with “another friend,” namely, Schelling. And Johanne Fichte writes to her husband on 16 October 1799 (letter 248a) that “people here are saying that a love affair has developed between Madam Schlegel and Schelling” (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Gnädige Herren, schöne Frauen [1777]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.212):



[7] During her stay in in Berlin in March, April, and May 1802, Caroline and Wilhelm Schlegel had resolved to end their marriage and seek a divorce, though such would run into considerable difficulties with the consistory in Weimar and ultimately have to be petitioned directly with Duke Karl August (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 (“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; 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]):



During this same time, as attested by Schelling’s remarks here, he and Caroline had apparently also resolved to stay together permanently, though no more is known about that decision; there are no extant letters between them during the time she was in Berlin and he still in Jena. Back.

[8] Logis, adopted from Old Fr., “house, dwelling; lodging, accommodations.” Back.

[9] Schelling’s father, an Old Testament scholar, was well aware that Caroline’s father was Johann David Michaelis, and in 1771 and 1775 had even sent Michaelis, one of the most renowned Old Testament scholars of the period, copies of his own works. Back.

[10] A somewhat curious statement on Schelling’s part, since although in her extant letters from the winter and spring of 1802 Caroline does regularly complain of headaches and feeling unwell, such seems to have been associated more with the impending visit to Berlin and its logistics than with any chronic illness.

As noted in Julie Gotter’s letter to Luise Gotter on 18/21 August 1801 (letter 327d.1), Eckart Klessmann remarked in September 2009 in Maulbronn in connection with an oral presentation at the commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of Caroline’s death that one of the recurring patterns in Caroline’s life was, simply put, to fall ill, sometimes gravely so, in times of personal crisis, in at least two instances (August 1801 as attested in Julie’s letter and the spring of 1801, though intimated elsewhere) in connection with nervous fever (Taschenkalender für Damen auf das Jahr 1799; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


To wit, that observers outside Germany were wont to refer to this, at the time, peculiarly frequent illness as “the endemic disease of the German literati” (see the supplementary appendix) alludes perhaps to the context both of the illness and its frequency at least in Caroline’s life.

See in any case her letter to Julie Gotter on 15 June 1802 (letter 363), which does not attest an illness or condition serious enough to prompt such plans for a stay at a mineral-springs spa:

Why should I not instead simply remain quietly and peacefully here [in Jena]? It is indeed possible that I may be going to some mineral-springs spa and genuinely be doing a bit of traveling, but it is by no means certain yet and I confess I am not particularly yearning to do so.

At the same time, in her earlier letter to Wilhelm on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), Caroline nonetheless had remarked quite openly, and perhaps surprisingly, that should the family of August Ferdinand Bernhardi be unable to spend the summer of 1802 with her and Wilhelm in Jena (such did not happen), “I myself am not particularly inclined to remain here. I would go to the prelature in Murhard, and you and Schelling could travel to France together.” Back.

[11] Two mineral-springs spas.

Bad Wildbad is located ca. 70 km, Teinach ca. 50 km west of Stuttgart ([1] Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 23; [2] Wildbad, frontispiece to Wildbad und seine Umgebungen, 3rd ed. [Stuttgart 1860]; [3] Wildbad in 1837, Augustus Bozzi Graville, The Spas of Germany, vol. 1 [London 1837], 100):





[12] The first mention of Caroline and Schelling’s plans for a trip to Italy, which never materialized. The idea reemerges in the spring of 1803; see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 18 February 1803 (letter 375), in which she mentions plans to travel to Swabia in May or June (which did indeed come to pass) and thence to Italy in the autumn to spend the winter in Rome (Central Europe 1803 after the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803 [Cambridge 1912]):



[13] In the final paragraph of this letter, Schelling mentions problems he has encountered ordering a watch in Weimar.

As mentioned earlier, Fuhrmans 2:407, points out how these plans, whether they came to fruition immediately or not, do demonstrate how as early as 1802 and certainly the following year Schelling was longing and essentially already planning to leave Jena. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott