Letter 369d

369d. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 3 September 1802 [*]

Jena, 3 September 1802

Let me express my most sincere gratitude to you for your letter of the 27th of last month. [1] I am prompted to express this gratitude not only by both the general and the more personal indignation you cannot but feel at the injury done me, but also by the extra steps you are now so graciously offering to take in the matter. [2] I accept your offer without hesitation and now ask that you participate in implementing the following plan that I have drafted and which, after considerable reflection in the meantime, now seems the most appropriate to me. [3]

But first let me relate at least part of those reflections. —

You quite rightly anticipated that there was little use in consulting Goethe in the matter. Not because he himself did not sense the profound vileness and odiousness of the matter or had not demonstrated his best intentions, but because he felt unable, as he pointed out, to assure success in the matter. My plan was to prompt a direct intervention on the part of the administration through him.

He convincingly related to me the difficulties he would have to overcome in the matter and, indeed, would probably not be able to overcome — and though he did not advise against anything, he did offer the self-evident advice not to undertake anything regarding which one could not be absolutely certain regarding both the entirety of measures to be taken and the certainty of their success.

Given the unbounded shamelessness and infamy of Schütz, of which you yourself may perhaps not be entirely aware and which in the meantime has even increased, the personal weight of Goethe could have little effect, for example, in prompting the current editors of the Literatur-Zeitung to make the kind of retraction you suggest and which I myself also consider appropriate. To the contrary, Goethe would only thereby have exposed himself.

I, too, thought first of Griesbach after hearing about his comportment in the matter. [4] Given the uncertainty of success, however, I did not want to take any steps that might merely tie my hands later on. I also heard afterward, moreover — albeit only third- or fourth-hand — that he himself had also proposed the — very poorly considered measure of reviewing and praising a different piece that has in the meantime been published contra the Würzburg pasquinade [5] — that is to say, of putting an even worse varnish on the whole matter. Given these circumstances, I really did have to restrain myself from taking any steps of this sort.

I considered and still consider a lawsuit in the local courts to be the absolutely worst thing I could do, in part because every possible chicanery might be engaged against me here, [5a] and in part because a lawsuit would take far too long for a matter involving this sort of vileness, vileness against which one would prefer to engage the most direct and denigrating language possible.

Given these circumstances, nothing remained except genuinely to take the plan you suggested as one’s basis, and I think you will find the following appropriate in this regard.

(1) You will present precisely the explanation to which your own indignation, sympathy, and understanding of the matter prompt you. Nothing can be more reassuring for me, nothing more advantageous for the cause, than if you and I act collectively. Two points should be considered in this regard, namely,

(a) the extent to which the matter itself should be mentioned, and
(b) how strong the language should be with respect to Schütz.

Let me speak first and say what goes without saying in any case, namely, that it should naturally have no restrictions and that words such as “infamy,” “abomination,” and “dishonorableness” are the very least.

The extent to which a consideration of your professorial circumstances here might be affected depends solely on the value you yourself attach to them. [6] I can see that such is actually quite modest; moreover, it goes without saying — and I would be utterly lacking in honor myself were such not my own resolution — that as soon as this matter were successful in a way prompting you to take your leave — the next step for me would to take mine as well. —

You are quite right in your opinion that I ought not allow Schütz and Council this triumph without considerable trouble. [7] This consideration is the only one that kept me from taking the quite simple step of bringing the entire matter before the duke in order to demand punishment and satisfaction — and should such be denied — given the ill will directed toward all of us and recently especially toward me — to announce my resignation publicly in a declaration printed by virtue of my freedom from censorship — accompanied by a complete public disgracing of Schütz.

Indeed, considering that for some time now almost everyone — more or less — has become allied against me — for it has only been in this most recent matter that people here have joined my side — my departure here would give nothing but pleasure to the entire local rabble. —

In the larger sense, if it can be avoided that I either resign or am dismissed because of this matter, that would be preferable, since it is only a matter of a very short time before I take my leave in any case. [8]

You have much less need to be thinking in such extreme terms. You are not present here and are viewed as someone who has in effect already dissociated yourself; [9] hence it is clear that of the two of us, you are in the best position to proceed without any scruples in a matter that in fact allows for none.

Let me now address the other issue, namely, the extent to which the matter itself can and must be mentioned.

Your own sensibility already intimated to you earlier, and is doing so now as well, why I cannot wish for any discussion of what was the most painful event of my entire life.

My own role in the matter is clear enough. — It was as follows. —

Even during the first few days, I voiced a certain measure of distrust toward the person who had taken over Auguste’s medical treatment; given the unfortunate outcome, it was quite natural to expect trouble from me, even though he admittedly could be quite secure from my part. —

I changed nothing in his prescriptions — everything in his instructions was administered that could be considered correct and appropriate according to every possible consideration; nothing was removed except for what Röschlaub, Marcus, and any other similarly thinking physician would have removed — medicine containing tincture of rhubarb, and gum Arabic, a debilitative substance he had admixed with the opium because it would soften the body, make the bowels slippery, and all the other expressions one uses here [10] — furthermore the milk he had prescribed as a drink, which in at least one respect might indeed be useful and indicated according to common opinion, albeit a respect that never would have occurred to me. [11]

What remains amid all this, the pain — which I might well overcome externally but never inwardly, and which I have no desire to hide from you either — is that I could spend a week in such blindness — continuing to believe the assurances of this person who even the day or at most two days before the deceased’s last had assured us that she would “be able to leave the next day” — and persisting in the still regnant opinion concerning the harmlessness of the malady, — that I could miss the opportunity to summon a different physician. —

That is the reproach I make to myself, one with respect to which I can accomplish absolutely nothing personally — not even by prompting a legal investigation, which I resolutely do believe I could do — by bringing about the total condemnation of both the actions and the behavior of the person from whom this defamation is emanating. Rendered speechless by pain, depressed and indeed almost senseless from grief, I gave him the possibility and the courage to defame me before the presence of you and Marcus squelched it (though I cannot be certain of this). —

He gave you my prescriptions. The background story is that according to my opinion, both at the time and now, I could not use the opium mixed with gum arabic he prescribed — but the deceased never received a dose that either absolutely or even relatively surpassed his instructions, since initially, as I found on my arrival, he had given the opium in doses of a grain.

It is obvious that one cannot have the apothecary prepare doses of opium as small as must be administered in such a case. One of my prescriptions is from the last day, and even that I received too late to administer.

I am describing these circumstances for you as they occur to me that you might assess how the medical history would appear in the judgment of physicians such as Marcus and Röschlaub etc. Thus did Röschlaub himself consistently view it. I spoke less about it with Marcus because I soon preferred to repress all the pain.

It is very difficult for me to renew all these memories here in this letter. You can judge for yourself how impossible it would be for me to enter into a discussion of these memories publicly. Hence gauge your own remarks accordingly, all the more so insofar as no one would believe you capable of judging, and adducing Röschlaub and Marcus would merely provoke the response that they themselves made these statements to you merely to assuage you.

In this regard I myself will

(2) arrange to have your declaration followed immediately by one from Marcus and one from Röschlaub, both of which I am confident will be forthcoming, and whose public testimony is then all the more secure from suspicion, since Röschlaub came to B[ocklet] on the very day the death occurred, and Marcus later learned the entire medical history from the physician in Kissingen. [12]

Let me add the parenthetical request that if you can do without the written account of the medical history you received in Bocklet for a short time, then please send it along to me. You will receive it back as soon as it has been used in the following way: Kilian would like to see it and write something about it; I have great trust in his knowledge as well as in his character and devotion to the truth. [13]

(3) The third thing in the declaration would be a brief statement from me that would be based on the preceding, would repeat the charge of pasquinianism, and would deliver this infamy over to the contempt of all well-intentioned people “just as I would already have delivered it over for redress etc. to His Ducal Excellency of Weimar.” —

For I know that without publicity the duke cannot be moved to take any action whatever. I will relate the entire declaration to Goethe beforehand and inform him in person that it might be printed and he thus be put in a position to relate such to the duke as well. I will mention this myself in the document that will indeed be handed over to the duke, except that the printed declaration will also appear before he in his own turn has a chance to deny me the declaration, that is, the very next day after the document is delivered. [14]

All these individual points can yet be modified. It is merely with regard to the main point that I am certain and thus would like to ask you to arrange your own declaration such that it can be used without further consultation regardless of whatever other changes may be felt to be necessary or advisable with respect to individual points.

It will in any case be necessary to consult with Goethe again, who, himself quite blindsided by the matter, at first was unable to think clearly enough to give much advice; though he has the most resolute of intentions, he will not, by the way, dissuade me from any resolute decision on my own part.

Please be so kind as to relate to me soon your own further counsel with respect to this plan as well as your declaration.

Please consider also whether you think it advisable for the two of us together to pursue the complaint with the duke.

As far as the publication is concerned, my thoughts are to have it specially printed but otherwise to append it to my two journals, of which two issues at once will soon be appearing, and to have it inserted into the Allgemeine Zeitung, [15] something I believe I can attain through Cotta. Perhaps you, too, will then have the opportunity to have this declaration appended to other publications or journals of your friends. One channel of publicity is still the most widely distributed Journal de Francfort, for which the declaration would have to be rendered in French. — I would not think it impossible to prompt the editor of the Elegante Zeitung at least to include in his mailings the copies sent to him.

Although at the moment I am not in a position to send the Würzburg piece along to you, it will if possible go out on the next postal day. [16] The issue of the Literatur-Zeitung is 225. [17]


On a different topic, please be assured that your response concerning Ion greatly entertained me, just as it goes without saying that whoever teases can expect to be teased in return, and I hope you will nonetheless harbor a certain measure of gratitude toward me for having provided you with the occasion for such thorough and instructive explications. [18]

Everything of wit you will be issuing against your Berlin adversaries is already exciting my highest anticipation. [19] You do indeed have every reason to make an example of Nicolai insofar as he is still trying to forgive you through praise. One will admittedly be hard pressed to find the equal to the inanity of the review of the Musen-Almanach, [20] unless it be that of the recent review of my Zeitschrift and the Kritisches Journal, whose inexhaustible reserve of such is more of the quantitative sort, whereas the former would probably still be superior with respect to the quality of its loutishness. [21]

Your assessment of my polemical essay in the first issue of the Zeitschrift essentially expresses, albeit not entirely, my own. [22] Please do pass along your critiques to me, I implore you, as openly and frankly as possible; I will always be enormously grateful for such, even when I do not — as I do this time — almost unconditionally concur with you. Although it cannot serve as an excuse, it does perhaps provide some explanation to point out that the essay was written in the greatest haste, and that although at my departure for Berlin I gave it to Hegel to polish, he neglected to do anything with it.

As far as Ritter is concerned, perhaps one turn of phrase might indeed be changed, and the whole reference perhaps abbreviated. It is, by the way, impossible for you yourself to know Ritter with regard both to his inclination to force things to drag on and to his inclination to gossip, for it was he who handed over to the Duke of Gotha the Bamberg theses [23] and Hegel’s disputation, [24] whereupon only then did all the vulgarity concerning them commence first in the Reichsanzeiger, in Zach’s journal, etc., and he who never tired of passing on and in general disseminating every possible bit of gossip in Gotha, Halle (where I immediately encountered such when I passed through). [25]

I have — in part merely to annoy everyone here, [26] in part because of my need to expand my own philosophy in this direction and to acquire some higher forms from this region — decided after all to lecture on aesthetics this coming winter. [27] Allow me to relate to you something of what I am planning on explicating in the process.

I am from the very outset wholly forgoing any attempt to present a theory of art, which must more or less be subordinated to philosophy and — viewed from the speculative standpoint — must necessarily be empirical at least from one side.

Just as there are real or empirical things, so also is there real or empirical art — and such art is the concern of theory; — just as there are intellectual things, things in and of themselves, however, so also is there art in and of itself, of which empirical art is merely this appearance in the phenomenal world, and it is this that establishes a relationship between philosophy and art.

You can easily see that in this way, my philosophy of art can be more a general philosophy of the universe — hovering within the highest reflex of art — than a theory of art to the extent art is something specific, and similarly that such a philosophy cannot in any way really speak about empirical art, but rather only about the root of art as it is within the absolute, art thus being considered only from its mystical side.

I will not so much derive art itself as the One and All in the form and manifestation of art. It is quite easy to conceive that the universe inheres within the absolute as an artistic whole and as a work of art just as it does as an organic whole. Music, the verbal arts, painting — all arts possess, just as does art as such, an essential nature within the absolute.

With regard to the form, here, too, I will follow the same organizational scheme that has already led me through the most difficult entanglements of reflection in general speculative philosophy and that is best suited for presenting the All within the All. Here, too, I will portray the first and absolute unity separated into the two focal points of the real juxtaposition of the formative and verbal arts (the former corresponding to the real, the latter to the ideal), though in that particular unity in and for itself I will examine the ideal juxtaposition of ancient and modern art, which in its own turn is related as the real and ideal.

In this way I think I can maintain a coherent whole and at the same time grasp the idea of every individual art in and for itself in its absoluteness.

Please pardon these — still crude — fragments of ideas. —

No doubt your manuscript would do me great service in providing a point of orientation for me in returning from the empirical side of art, to which you, according to your own plan, are paying more attention, to the intellectual side — and also save me considerable research that even then might not lead me to my goal and would in any case hinder me in developing my speculative considerations. [28]

I would be extraordinarily obliged to you if you could have your manuscript copied there in Berlin at my expense and then send it on here toward the middle of next month, or even allow me to have it long enough to have it copied here.

In the hope that some of my ideas may already have proven useful to you as well, or might later on, after I have developed them further in this regard, I myself will make grateful and unhesitating use of your own ideas to the extent my individual capacity for assimilation permits.

I also expect, moreover, that you not to tally up ideas that I might come up with on my own in any case, such as, for example, that Euripides is infinitely inferior to Sophocles and Aeschylus. [29]

Stay very well, and remember me fondly.


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:390–99; Fuhrmans 2:429–37. Back.

[1] Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 27 August 1802 (letter 369b); Schelling also mentions Wilhelm’s letter of 28 August 1802 (letter 369c) later in this letter. Back.

[2] Wilhelm probably mentioned such steps in the portion of letter 369b that was lost; see note 8 there. See below regarding Schelling’s “indignation.” Back.

[3] Nothing Schelling discusses thenceforth in this letter was ever implemented except for a version of Wilhelm’s independent publication, likely because Goethe so forcefully advised against such measures.

What did come about was a vehement literary feud esp. with Christian Gottfried Schütz. What Schelling’s exacting explications do demonstrate, however, is the degree to which the passage cited in Schütz’s review of Franz Berg’s satirical piece Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy upset Schelling and aroused such indignation, prompting this intense focus on evening the score with Schütz publicly for what Schelling has variously called the “vile abomination” of implying that he, Schelling, somehow contributed to Auguste’s death back in July 1800.

See in general the supplementary appendix on the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death. Back.

[4] Johann Jakob Griesbach had joined the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung as co-editor after Gottlieb Hufeland’s resignation in 1800 because of the incessant literary feuding. Back.

[5] The reference is to a coarse book Schelling’s friends in Würzburg had published in response to Franz Berg’s Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy, namely, Lob der Cranioscopie: Ein Gegenstück zum Lobe der allerneusten Philosophie (“Encomium for cranioscopy: a rejoinder to the encomium for the most recent philosophy”) (n.p. 1802), containing a lithograph of Berg’s skull labeled according to a theory recently developed by the physician Franz Joseph Gall, who maintained that individual areas of the brain were in fact the “organs” of certain inborn intellectual powers (Lob der Cranioscopie, illustration following text):


This piece expressed regret at not having access to Berg’s actual skull that one might examine it according to Gall’s system, but did go on to identify Berg as the transition from human beings to animals, also deriving his inferior qualities of personality from the organs of his skull (see also the labeled illustration from the Taschenbuch zur Ehre alter und neuer Moden und Methoden [1806]; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Here Gall’s own illustrations from Dr. F. J. Galls neue Entdeckungen in der Gehirn-, Schedel- und Organenlehre (Karlsruhe 1807), final illustration:


On the subject of Gall’s theory being taken seriously, see the brief note in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1804) 122:1020, citing Wilhelm Gottlieb Kelch, Ueber den Schädel Kants. Ein Beytrag zu Galls Hirn- und Schädellehre (Königsberg 1804):

An examination of Kant’s skull according to Gall’s theory yielded the following data:

(1) The organ of local memory could be more clearly felt than seen;
(2) numerical and object memory as well as the organ of generosity were quite pronounced;
(3) the organ of wit was quite prominent, broad, and altogether sharply contoured;
(4) the organ of acumen was fused;
(5) the organ of philosophical speculation was discernible more to feeling than the eye, and was fused with the organ of object memory, but clearly separated from
(6) the extremely pronounced organ of good-naturedness;
(7) the organ of religion, artistic sensibility, persistence, and the love of truth were visible;
(8) the organ of upward striving and vanity were deepened;
(9) the organ of sexual sensibility was lacking;
(10) the organs of deliberateness and circumspection were arched outwardly;
(11) the overall structure of the skull betrayed a more pronounced inclination to the consumption of meat than vegetables.

Here six photographs of Kant’s skull made after his disinterment in 1880; from Karl Kupffer and Fritz Bessel-Hagen, Der Schädel Immanuel Kant’s: mit drei nach photographischen Aufnahmen angefertigten Lichtdrucktafeln und einer in Holzschnitt ausgeführten Constructionszeichnung des Medianschnittes von Schädel und Gesicht (n.p. 1881), plates 5–7:


In a letter to Schelling from Stuttgart on 23 November 1806, Schelling’s brother Karl Schelling mentions Gall’s appearance in Stuttgart (Fuhrmans 3:379):

Gall has lectured here to extraordinary acclaim . . . I did not speak with him because in Vienna, and quite unintentionally, I had spoken a rather strong sottise to him when taking my leave . . . Actually, this fellow is quite the man of the hour. His understanding of brain anatomy has much in the way of very nice things, but also a great deal that is simply incorrect, and is utterly without connection with his theory of the skull, though he himself acts as if the one were based on the other.

Once upon a time, I myself began a short dialogue concerning the theory of the skull in which the characters were the two gravediggers from Hamlet [act 5, scene 1], but I got tired of it. But now I see I really should have finished it.

Karl Schelling is referring to Hamlet, act 5, scene 1 (text here: Shakespeare Complete Works, ed. W. J. Craig [London: Oxford, 1966]; illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Pauvre Yorick, hélas!, from Hamlet, act 5, scene 1 [1778–85]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Uh 4° 47 [34]):


First Clown [Gravedigger.] . . . Throws up a skull.

Hamlet. That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once; how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jaw-bone, that did the first murder! This might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o’er-offices, one that would circumvent God, might it not?

Horatio. It might, my lord.

Hamlet. Or of a courtier, which could say, ‘Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?’ This might be my Lord Such-a-one, that praised my Lord Such-a-one’s horse, when he meant to beg it, might it not?

Horatio. Ay, my lord.

Hamlet. Why, e’en so, and now my Lady Worm’s; chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggats with ’em? mine ache to think on ’t.

First Clown. A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet;
O! a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.

[Throws up another skull.

Hamlet. There’s another; why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries; is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyance of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

Horatio. Not a jot more, my lord. . . .

First Clown. Here’s a skull now; this skull hath lain you i’ the earth three-and-twenty years.

Hamlet. Whose was it?

First Clown. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a’ poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.

Hamlet. This!

First Clown. E’en that.

Hamlet. Let me see. — [Takes the skull.] — Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that. Back.

[5a] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, 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 xxxiv:



[6] Wilhelm Schlegel was at least nominally still a professor at the university in Jena; though he never lectured there again, he had at least considered returning for the summer semester 1802 (see Caroline’s letters to him on 18 and 26 January and 15 February 1802 [letters 341, 343, 347]). Back.

[7] A collective reference to Christian Gottfried Schütz and his supporters. Back.

[8] Schelling left Jena with Caroline forever in May 1803, though he had already considered such a move much earlier than this scandal.

Indeed, see Schelling’s letter to Friedrich August Carus (?) on 9 November 1799 (letter 254b), where he remarks that “nor do my own current plans even involve staying here in any case, and since I now find myself in a position to spend some time on journeys, I will perhaps be leaving Jena next summer, a journey that will ultimately probably also take me to Vienna.” See esp. note 3 there.

Concerning Schelling’s (and Caroline’s) more recent, and certainly more concrete plans to depart Jena, see Schelling’s letter to his father on 28 May 1802 (letter 361a). Back.

[9] Wilhelm never returned to Jena. In May 1804 he would depart Berlin in the entourage of Madame de Staël. Back.

[10] Auguste seems to have died of dysentery. Concerning these medical issues, see the supplementary appendix on the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death. Back.

[11] Concerning the suspected initial source of the malicious rumor concerning Schelling’s alleged interference in Auguste’s treatment, see Caroline to Julie Gotter on 17 October 1802 (letter 372), in which she expresses her firm conviction that Karoline Paulus and her companion, who were in Bocklet at the time of Auguste’s death, had stoked the rumor. Back.

[12] Kissingen is located just south of Bocklet (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


These depositions were included in Wilhelm’s publication To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Back.

[13] Wilhelm mentions this report in his letter to Schelling on 27 August 1802 (letter 369b). It seems no longer to be extant. Back.

[14] As mentioned above, none of these plans involving Duke Karl August materialized. Back.

[15] I.e., the Allgemeine Zeitung that Johann Friedrich Cotta published in Stuttgart, not the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Back.

[16] The reference is to Franz Berg’s Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy, reviewed in the issue of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung Schelling mentions next. That is, Wilhelm would then have not only the review that cited the infamous passage, but also the work itself from which the passage was taken. Back.

[17] I.e., the issue in which Christian Gottfried Schütz’s review of Berg’s satire appeared, namely, the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 225 (Tuesday, 10 August 1802) 327–28. Back.

[18] Schelling is referring to Wilhelm’s concluding statements in the literary exchange concerning Wilhelm’s play Ion in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt (1802) nos. 100 and 101 (23, 24 August 1802); see Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 28 August 1802 (letter 369c), note 1. Schelling seems to have received Wilhelm’s letter of 28 August in the meantime. Back.

[19] Wilhelm mentions the multiple literary feuds in which he was currently embroiled in his letter to Schelling on 28 August 1802 (letter 369c). Back.

[20] Concerning Friedrich Nicolai’s involvement in this review, see Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 28 August 1802 (letter 369c), note 5. Back.

[21] Uncertain reference to an apparently collective review of Schelling’s periodicals Zeitschrift für die neuere Physik and Kritisches Journal der Philosophie. Back.

[22] Schelling’s essay had appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift für speculative Physik, and Wilhelm had offered his own opinion of the essay in his letter to Schelling on 28 August 1802 (letter 369c). Schelling had sent him the essay along with a letter to Wilhelm on 19 August 1802 (letter 369a). Back.

[23] In his essay “The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature,” Schelling points out that “it is well known that the Bamberg theses have been sought after for the courts of princes.” Back.

[24] Hegel had defended twelve theses in Jena on 27 August 1801 for the right to begin lecturing at the university. Karl Schelling had functioned as “respondent” in this disputation, Disputatio Philosophica de Orbitis Planetarum; it was then reported in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 12 September 1801. Back.

[25] The Reichsanzeiger was one of the journals to pick up on the insinuations of Berg’s Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy. See also Georg Nüsslein’s disclaimer in the supplementary appendix on Schütz’s review, note 3, where a journal in Würzburg is similarly adduced, one Schelling is likely referencing below.

The allusion to the journal published by Baron von Zach of Seeberg is referring to his Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmels- Kunde 5 (1802), 333–42, here 333–34, where Zach introduces his review of Placido Heinrich’s De Longitudine et Latitudine geogrpahica Urbis Ratisbonae (Ratisbonae 1801), with a broadside at the “increasingly proliferating number of our transcendental physicists,” i.e., the Bamberg theses:

Indeed, what phenomena could provide a sadder, more depressing, and yet more characteristic commentary than, e.g., what we recently, to the shame of our nascent century, had to experience at the Bamberg University, concerning which scholarly journals have expressed their displeasure. For what is one to say about an academic publication that asserts that true philosophy in no way recognizes the kind of law according to which yet another planet can be found between Jupiter and Mars, and that there is, by contrast, a different, true law that reveals that such a planet cannot be present in the cosmic system. Such impudent assertions, moreover, are being published in precisely the same year in which Ceres is discovered!

Such people, who should first learn before attempting to teach, who cannot even sufficiently distinguish between weight and gravity, and who commit the most infantile mistakes, — such people presume to be breaking new ground, and presume to criticize and chide Newton, whose shoes they are not even worthy to untie, and whose teachings still prompt the most brilliant discoveries in the cosmic system while their hyperphysics and daydreams have yet to bring forth even the slightest discovery, and indeed would have hindered such had they been followed!

What would become of our physics and astronomy were such a spirit to gain control? Is it not the duty of every thinking man to combat such literary vandalism?

Schelling had passed through Halle on his way to Berlin back in late April or early May 1802 rather than taking the route through Leipzig as had Caroline before him (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


Johann Wilhelm Ritter had spent January and February 1802 in Gotha as the guest of the Ernst II of Gotha for the purpose of continuing his experiments and lecturing to court society on galvanism. Concerning Ritter’s itinerary during this period, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 July 1801 (letter 324) with additional cross references there in note 21. Back.

[26] The newly appointed Jena professor Karl Fernow, who was supposed to lecture on aesthetics, was expected in Jena from Rome. Back.

[27] Schelling delivered these lectures again in Würzburg but never published them. His son published his lectures notes in Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schellings sämmtliche Werke, ed. K. F. A. Schelling, 1. Abtheilung, 5. Band (Stuttgart, Augsburg 1859), 353–736; trans. Philosophy of Art.

He and Wilhelm exchange comments about Schelling’s reaction to Wilhelm’s lectures over the course of the next few letters; see esp., however, Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 21 October 1802 (letter 372b). Back.

[28] The “manuscript” is a reference to Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures on the fine arts and literature. Schelling had probably become acquainted with the manuscript during his visit to Berlin in May 1802. These lectures were similarly published posthumously. Back.

[29] A tongue-in-cheek, jesting request and allusion to the epigram Wilhelm had published in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 26 (Sämmtliche Werke 2:35):

The Tragedians

Aeschylus summons titans up and gods down;
Sophocles gracefully presents all the heroes and heroines;
While Euripides, a sophistic rhetorician, gabs away in the marketplace. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott