Letter 369j

369j. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 24 September 1802 [*]

Jena, 24 September 1802

After considering all the arguments you put forth, I now find it appropriate in every respect to concur with the measures you have taken. I had all but abandoned any thought of directing a complaint to the administration. [1] This morning I sent the letter to Schütz through the man whom you yourself still know, the one who generally delivers the scholarly newspapers and journals, as the most dependable person available here, so that this coming Monday the printing can commence if necessary; [2] I really do not think Frommann will have any reservations with it.

In your declaration, which I myself find completely worthy, appropriate, etc., and in which I can think of nothing to add, I would change only the passage that admits that I at least assumed one could guess that Schütz was indeed the author of the initial review. That passage currently reads as follows:

by leaving it “to the readers themselves to draw the highly probable conclusion that Hofrath Schütz himself is the author of that . . . review.”

It seems to me this might be altered to read “by nowhere explicitly articulating the doubtless obvious conclusion that etc.” or however you might want to alter it. [3] — I can have your concurrence here by tomorrow week and then at least change it at the proof stage. —

I would also like — since I have received a specific attestation from Marcus in this matter and yet anticipate receiving such from Röschlaub (who has recently been in Munich rather than Landshut) — for you to add this as an appendix in a postscript to your declaration and simultaneously relate your own opinion concerning whether the letter to Schütz be printed before or after those appendices. (p.s. I now see, however, that you have already done this.) [4]

I am still uncertain whether to have the declaration printed with the smaller German font used for my journal or with a Latin font. [5] I also wish you had related to me your proposals about sending it out. I am thinking about having it printed for the Cotta Buchhandlung; since I myself am covering the costs, Cotta will have no objection. [6] I will be alerting him today of these tentative plans and requesting as well that he print the whole in a supplement to the Allgemeine Zeitung. [7]

Apart from the copies that Cotta’s own publishing firm sends out to bookstores, including with my journal (for I have since abandoned the idea of having your declaration appended to my journal), I will try to distribute this declaration as widely as possible in part myself and in part through friends. Let me know how many copies I should send to Berlin. It seems that everything is in order, and that I have nothing more to add in this matter.


Various projects (including a publicum I gave here these past weeks) [8] have not yet allowed me sufficient time these last few days to have a closer look at Lacrimas. [9] Please pass along my thanks to the author for sending it, and many thanks to you as well for allowing me to use your manuscript, which I will try to use to the best advantage in the briefest possible time. [10] I will in all likelihood be getting it back to you at the end of October.

At the same time, I hope you will permit me to exchange Lacrimas with Goethe for the manuscript of your Spanish piece; [11] I confess that I am impatient to become acquainted with Spanish dramatic art, all the more so because now that Caroline has become so proficient in Italian, we would both like to turn our attention to Spanish. —

Goethe, whom I saw on Wednesday (as well as W. Humboldt), [12] did not say anything about it to me. Perhaps he had just received it or was still awaiting it. . . .

With regard to Ritter, I was a bit surprised that a physicist like Kielmeyer completely concurs with the remark I made and assures me that he has always found Ritter’s stiffness amusing. [13]

It is unavoidable that I will be carrying on the correspondence in the matter still being resolved by you and Caroline, [14] since it was not possible for Caroline herself to initiate things in Weimar and I was in a better position to take care of it.

I have in the meantime received the following information from the businessman in Weimar — the only person we needed to trust in the matter. [15]

As far as the duke is concerned, there should be no problems from that quarter, and on the next postal day you will be receiving for your approval and signature the petition drafted according to the advice we received. [16] The ensuing course of action will be as follows.

Although the duke issues his consent in general to the consistory, in order to implement it the latter requires the appearance of both parties, or, since in this case the wife always receives a iusta excusatio, [17] that of the husband. There can be no dispensation in this regard from above, and it is left to the discretion of the consistory either to do it or not — or rather, without extremely compelling reasons, not this either, since a consistent procedure has been observed, and as the businessman has discovered through an examination of the documentation associated with the Mereau divorce, Mereau, too, genuinely did appear before the consistory. [18] Madame Mereau made use of the traditional excuse. —

It goes without saying that Caroline cannot take on the responsibility for this appearance. Letting the matter take its usual course helps even less, since in that case a personal appearance at various stages is even more indispensable and the entire procedure gets drawn out even more.

The question is whether making the trip to Weimar is compatible with your own intentions, and even if it is, whether you particularly want to give Böttiger and Herder the pleasure of your having to appear before them. [19]

The only possible solution in this regard, and the only one proposed to us, is to go through the channel of another member of the consistory, one who disposes over the pias causas [20] and who would on payment of a more considerable sum ad pios usus than would otherwise be demanded doubtless take over the task of securing the remission of that particular formality, something that is all the simpler insofar as, given your non-presence here, nothing will seem out of the ordinary if the appearance is indeed remitted. —

The person who gave this advice has also offered to take on the task of bribing this particular member of the consistory in the appropriately “pious” fashion; it does go without saying, however, that one not commit to doing anything until he himself has received assurance of success, — in written form, if necessary. The amount one would have to countenance would be approximately 100 Rth., of which Caroline is offering to pay half. If you are in agreement, the matter will commence without further delay.


As far as your complaint against Caroline is concerned, [21] I myself, at least to the extent you are referring to the written missive you recently enclosed, am not really in a position to judge her — having not really read the missive and preferring to leave its content open in this sense — other than according to my general acquaintance with her character, which I think incapable of the intentions you attribute to her.

I was all the less in a position to relate to Caroline the remarks of your most recent letter or the letter itself because I am of the opinion that she needs to be treated with consideration and spared such in every way just now. —

Since your last letter expresses so much tender consideration that you would even prefer to spare Büchler in this regard insofar as Auguste had a certain trust in him, it seems you would accordingly also have every reason to demonstrate that same disposition toward Auguste’s mother, the only person on earth to whom she genuinely clung.

I am disinclined to touch on earlier demonstrations of this and would prefer to forget them; but as far as the stranger is concerned who claims to have heard the news of her divorce from Caroline herself, that is nothing but fetid gossip unworthy of further attention; please be so kind as to name this cavalier that I might demonstrate that he never crossed Caroline’s threshold. [22]

Otherwise let me ask you to answer just this one question, namely, how someone can venture to tell you such things at all, and tell you such, as you yourself remarked concerning this stranger, without even really being acquainted with you, moreover, to tell it to your face, when not a single person has dared say anything of the sort to us, and whether from precisely this consideration Caroline, were she inclined to make more of these things than she in fact is, might not draw a far more justified conclusion concerning the public nature of your less than cordial remarks concerning her.

As far as I myself am concerned, you need never doubt the sincerity of my intentions and my sincere affection for you. Please do always be frank and open with me and please understand that everything with reference to Caroline also has such reference to me insofar as I am utterly unable to think of myself separated from her. — Then I see no reason whatever for any disunion between us. [23]

Maintain your friendship for me and stay well.



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:400–05; Fuhrmans 2:439–44.

Fuhrmans 39–40, notes that a letter from Wilhelm Schlegel to Schelling again seems to have been lost.

Wilhelm had in the meantime written his modest brochure contra Christian Gottfried Schütz, To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), and sent the manuscript to Schelling (who likely received it on 23 September) for approval and publication.

The parcel included a letter from Wilhelm to Schütz himself, written on 18 September 1802 (letter 369h), which Schelling was to deliver and which contained an ultimatum for Schütz according to which the latter had three days to recant.

Wilhelm had even proposed publishing a new issue of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung for 10 August 1802 without the review of Franz Berg’s Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy; otherwise, thus Wilhelm’s threat, Wilhelm would himself publish his piece contra Schütz, which is what happened notwithstanding that Schütz responded to Wilhelm directly on 24 September 1802 (letter 369k) rather than to Schelling as Wilhelm had requested, and without recanting. Back.

[1] I.e., to the court in Weimar. Schelling initially raised this possibility in his letter to Wilhelm on 3 September 1802 (letter 369d); Goethe seems to have dissuaded him from pursuing such a course of action. Back.

[2] The letter the man was to deliver was Wilhelm’s to Schütz on 18 September 1802 (letter 369h). The printing, namely, of Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), could commence after the three-day ultimatum had expired. Schelling is writing on Friday, 24 September 1802, the day on which Schütz received Wilhelm’s letter of 18 September; the following Monday would then be 27 September 1802. Back.

[3] The passage was not altered. Back.

[4] That is, already positioned these materials in To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b): Wilhelm’s letter to Schütz of 18 September 1802 (letter 369h) was reprinted on pp. 19–22; Marcus’s affidavit or statement was positioned on pp. 25–26, Röschlaub’s on pp. 27–28. Back.

[5] Schelling and Hegel’s Kritisches Journal der Philosophie (1802–3) used the following font:


Wilhelm’s Rebuke was printed using Latin font:



[6] Wilhelm’s piece was indeed published by Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen (1802). Back.

[7] I.e., Cotta’s own Allgemeine Zeitung published in Stuttgart, not the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in Jena. Wilhelm’s piece did not appear as an addendum to the former. Back.

[8] I.e., a public lecture, Schelling’s Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studium (Tübingen 1803) (On University Studies, trans. E. S. Morgan, ed. and introduction Norbert Guterman [Athens, Ohio 1966]). Back.

[9] Christian Wilhelm von Schütz, Lacrimas. Ein Schauspiel, ed. A. W. Schlegel (Berlin 1803). Back.

[10] Wilhelm had apparently included a copy of the manuscript of his Berlin lectures along with the piece contra Schütz. Concerning Schelling’s interest in these lectures, see the relevant paragraphs in Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 September 1802 (letter 369d). Back.

[11] Wilhelm had translated Calderon’s The Devotion of the Cross and sent it to Goethe on 11 September 1802. See Roger Paulin, The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel, Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry (Open Book Publishers 2016), 200, also concerning Wilhelm’s “misguided encouragement” of Schütz’s Lacrimas. Back.

[12] Wilhelm von Humboldt had been appointed Prussian ministerial president in Rome and was on his way there. Goethe’s diary notes his arrival on 19 September and dinner with Humboldt and his wife along with Schiller and his wife on 21 September (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:64).

Schelling had been in Weimar on 22 September 1802 to discuss Caroline and Wilhelm’s divorce with Goethe. Back.

[13] In his “The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature”, Schelling had referred to Johann Wilhelm Ritter’s “empirical leatheriness.” Back.

[14] Their divorce. Back.

[15] Presumably Goethe; see also Caroline’s undated letter to Wilhelm in September 1802 (letter 370), where she refers to “a gentleman who is favorably disposed toward both of us and who has power enough to get this through with the him [Karl August].” Back.

[16] Petition to Duke Karl August concerning the divorce (letter/document 371). Back.

[17] Latin, “valid apology, legitimate justification,” viz. for not appearing. Back.

[18] Sophie Mereau and Friedrich Karl Ernst Mereau had married in 1793 and then divorced in 1801. Back.

[19] Karl August Böttiger was director of the Gymnasium in Weimar, an adversary of the Romantics, and, unfortunately, at the same time a member of the Weimar High Consistory. Johann Gottlieb Herder was consistory president.

Böttiger was one of the last persons in Weimar or Jena before whom Caroline or, especially, Wilhelm would suffer having to appear as a supplicant, since Böttiger was doubtless still smarting from his unpleasant and arguably humiliating experience in connection with the performance of Wilhelm’s play Ion back in January 1802, a play both Herder and his wife had similarly rejected. See the section on Böttiger’s suppressed review of Ion in the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm’s play.

Concerning Böttiger’s further anti-Romantic activity, see esp. the supplementary appendix on Böttiger and Caroline’s remarks in the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie. Back.

[20] Latin, usually ad pias causas, also ad pios usus, “for pious, devout, religious purposes, works,” otherwise common, e.g., in last wills and testaments. Back.

[21] Uncertain reference. Fuhrmans 2:443n16 conjectures that Wilhelm had in an otherwise unknown letter perhaps raised the issue that Caroline may have not been sufficiently attentive during Auguste’s illness, and may have perhaps thought more of her own illness at the time. In any case, one can only speculate concerning this accusation. Back.

[22] That is, the “cavalier” who apparently confided such lies to Wilhelm in Berlin (Goettinger Taschen Calender vom Jahr 1790; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


News of the divorce was supposed to have been kept secret; Caroline had already written to Wilhelm on 5 July 1802 (letter 368):

I must, however, yet implore you in the meantime, that is, until the divorce is final, neither to speak about it yourself nor to allow anyone else to speak about it, just as I myself will do and just as is certainly necessary if we are to attain our goal in as undisturbed a fashion as possible and along the shortest possible path.

Caroline herself responds sharply to this accusation in her letter to Wilhelm of September 1802 (letter 370). Back.

[23] Although Schelling kept up his correspondence with Wilhelm Schlegel until 1814, Wilhelm did not always speak kindly of Schelling in letters to others. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott