Letter 369k

Letter 369k. Christian Gottfried Schütz to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 24 September 1802 [*]

To Herr Rath Schlegel in Berlin.

Allow me to answer Your Esteemed Sir’s missive, which made its way to me through Herr Professor Schelling, immediately, since the postal coach for Berlin is about to depart.

The reviewer [1] has already sent us an explication concerning the passage in question; it will be published in the issue of our Intelligenzblatt that will be appearing here tomorrow. [2]

As far as I myself am concerned, I believe

(1) firmly that the author of the pamphlet has perpetrated no libel with his statement; the assertion may be truth or fiction, but not every spoken or rumored untruth or lie constitutes libel.

(2) that the reviewer was not guilty of any animum injuriandi [3] by excerpting this as well as other passages from that piece — of this, too, I am firmly convinced.

Let me further say

(3) that the passage in question by no means crept into the A.L.Z. without my foreknowledge. To the contrary, I let it pass as a passage excerpted from an external publication that I, as the words now stand, considered and still consider to be quite harmless, in which consideration I would recall

(4) that I myself am not, as might be insinuated, the author of this review. Were I myself ever to write anything about or contra Herr Schelling — something for which I have no desire whatever in any case — I would never write anonymously, and I thus simply leave to others any praise or criticism in the A.L.Z. that might pertain to him.

Although I perceive not the slightest fundamentum actionis injuriarum with respect to this review, [4] feel free, should you nonetheless consider it prudent, to choose the path of legal prosecution with the High Ducal Administration in Weimar against the Direction of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, in which case however, I fail to comprehend why you intend to represent, of all people, precisely Herr Professor Schelling, who, after all, is quite of age himself, unless it be that since he has already represented you in a different matter, you now feel obliged to provide a reciprocal service to him. [5] Such a vicarship non equidem invideo miror magis, [6]

Your Esteemed Sir’s

most devoted


[*] Source: Christian Gottfried Schütz, Species facti nebst Actenstücken zum Beweise dass Hr. Rath August Wilh. Schlegel der Zeit in Berlin mit seiner Rüge, worinnen er der Allgem. Lit. Zeitung eine begangne Ehrenschändung fälschlich aufbürdet, niemanden als sich selbst beschimpft habe / von C. G. Schuetz. Nebst einem Anhange über das Benehmen des Schellingischen Obscurantismus (“Species facti [the particular character or peculiar circumstances of the thing done; the particular criminal act charged against a person] along with documents proving that Herr Rath Schlegel, currently residing in Berlin, has rebuked no one but himself with his Rebuke, in which he falsely accuses the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung of having committed a defamation of honor / by C. G. Schuetz. With an addendum concerning the comportment of Schellingian obscurantism”) (Jena, Leipzig 1803), 7–9.

This present letter is the response to Wilhelm’s letter to Schütz on 18 September 1802 (letter 369h). Back.

[1] I.e., Schütz himself, evident not least from the impossibility of Schütz taking Wilhelm’s letter as the occasion for contacting the “anonymous” author of the review and receiving the response back the same day unless that author be at least in the same town. Back.

[2] Schütz adds in a footnote the abbreviated bibliographical information for this explication or “correction,” which in full reads: Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 173 (Saturday, 25 September 1802) 1399–1400. Schütz gives the issue number as 6, but it was in fact fourth on that particular Saturday; it did not, however, appear until 29 September.

In any event, “the reviewer” (i.e., Schütz) of Franz Berg’s book tries to shirk responsibility by explaining that this particular quotation had prompted some people — unbelievably — to understand the reference as a case of intentional death caused by Schelling, whereas in reality the reference was merely gossip:

III. Corrections

In my review of the brochure Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy that appeared in the A.L.Z. 225, I excerpted the following passage among others:

Except may heaven forbid that he suffer the misfortune of killing in reality those whom he heals in ideality, a misfortune that befell Schelling, the One and Only, in Boklet in Franconia in the case of M. B.*, as malicious people maintain.

Is one to believe that there are those who might have understood this as referring to an instance of genuinely intentional death perpetrated by Herr Professor Schelling?

Let me thus hasten to illuminate, if possible, the understanding of such people who understand nothing with this declaration, namely, that the anonymous passage cited, as the context obviously shows, is to be understood as a reference merely to a treatment attempted by Herr Professor Schelling that according to the gossip of certain malicious people went awry, and that I as little as any other reasonable person either could or would have wanted to understand it as having any other reference, nor did I have any part whatsoever in perpetrating this story, which the author himself, an author otherwise unknown to me, declared to be merely the gossip of malicious people, nor, finally did I ever intend to declare such either credible or well founded. Back.

[3] Latin, usually animus injuriandi,”malicious desire to offend, intent to injure.” Back.

[4] Latin, “basis for action because of injury.” Back.

[5] A snide and thinly veiled reference to Schelling having essentially usurped Wilhelm’s status (1) as Caroline’s husband (see Anselm Feuerbach’s letter to his father on 18 January 1802 [letter 340a]), and/or (2) as the party pursuing the most expedient means to secure Caroline and Wilhelm’s divorce. Back.

[6] Yet another cutting remark concerning Schelling’s “vicarship” of Wilhelm; from Virgil, Bucolica, Ecloga I., “for truly, I am not jealous [or envious]” of such vicarship, “but rather behold in wonder.” Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott