Letter 371a

371a. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 4 October 1802 [*]

Jena, 4 October 1802

In vain did I wait on the last postal day for some lines from you.

Schütz has in the meantime come out publicly; [1] the Intelligenzblatt on 25 September (the day after your missive was delivered) — which appeared later than that [2] — contains a correction, signed by the Reviewer. [3] You will find such copied out on the enclosed page of lit. C. below. That it is Schütz himself [4] is clear enough even from the tone and style; the correction is, moreover, composed with really almost incredible stupidity.

In part because in and of itself this correction was not suitable for retracting anything, being instead obviously designed to disseminate the defamation against me even more strikingly, and in part because all the arrangements for printing had already been made, I could, of course, not simply cease with the latter; [5] indeed, given my certainty concerning your concurrence, I did not really even think it necessary to consult with you first in the matter, or even with Goethe, who, because he still knows nothing of the matter, could have been initiated into the proper perspective only with some effort.

Of greater importance was a consideration of the use one should now make of this “correction” itself. It was impossible to pass over it in silence; it is too obviously a reaction to your letter, [6] it throws so much light on the overall context and serves as such strong evidence of the opinion you put forth in your main piece, namely, that Schütz himself is the author of the review, that I felt I would have missed something had I not made the best possible use of it. —

Hence it was absolutely impossible to write to you; I did not see the issue containing the correction until yesterday, and by the way, since Frommann has taken over the entire task of distributing it in Leipzig and sending it to booksellers, [7] it is imperative that the piece be dispatched to Leipzig this coming Friday. [8] Hence there was no other choice than to have the “correction” printed with the supplements and to add the annotations from my own hand, copies of which you will find enclosed and which were necessary for clarification. [9] With respect to the latter, as you yourself will see, I have limited myself to the purely factual and acknowledged nothing not already articulated more specifically in your piece. I want to separate out from this letter the explications concerning individual points and write them out on a separate sheet. [10]

It goes without saying that, should there be anything you feel unable to accept as your own (though I consider such possible only to the extent I may perhaps not even have addressed the matter with sufficient severity, being too concerned about going too far), or should it seem that I have not sufficiently approximated your writing style for you to acknowledge these remarks as your own, — again, it goes without saying that I will acknowledge my authorship in every one of these instances, since the goal of having the whole appear as having been authored purely by you, without any addendum from me, is of value with respect to the public only if not preempted by a yet higher goal.

If, however, you have no such concerns and do in general want to accept the entirety as your own, then two paths are open to you: either to do so without any further explanation, or with the following, namely, a statement to the effect that you granted to a plenipotentiary — (in which case you then have no need to mention me by name) — full authority to act in your name in all eventualities and with respect to anything necessary for the good of the cause, and that what he has done is to be viewed as having been done by you yourself. —

To a certain extent I genuinely did have to anticipate having such authority for the eventuality that Schütz, insofar as I was unable to hasten the printing as I wished, might try to anticipate us. Fortunately, his stupidity, which is essentially equal to that of Preacher F., [11] has guided him such that his anticipation serves merely to entangle him even more deeply and to throw an even more glaring light on the matter.

The consideration that might influence you for the latter case is that, according to calculations I invite you yourself to make, you could find it impossible for the Intelligenzblatt issued on 29 September to make its way to Berlin and your own comments to arrive here within that period of time. This calculation must in any case take into account that the piece cannot arrive in Leipzig any earlier than tomorrow week, Tuesday, 12 October, and that I cannot distribute any copy publicly here before at earliest the 14th.

Since I could send it to you on the 1st, and your answer could be here at least on the 11th, [12] and since no one among the reading public can in any case determine exactly how quickly the printing proceeded afterward and how much time the shipment to Leipzig took (where it can also be distributed on the 14th at the earliest), the question then becomes the extent to which the time in this calculation be found to be sufficient.

You will be receiving the first copies with next Friday’s post; [13] you need to decide how advisable it is to spread news of it in Leipzig before the actual date it is announced there.

The print run will be 1000 copies, [on] writing paper and 12 copies on vellum; format median-octavo, Latin font, approximately 1 or 1/2 grades smaller than those of my journal, [14] but spaced in the third degree — all this according to Frommann’s advice, who has been extraordinarily forthcoming and has done everything I could have wished from him. In part the addition of Schütz’s “correction” and the attendant annotations, in part because Röschlaub’s assessment arrived, [15] there will have to be over 14 printed pages, so that since two sheets will need to be left over, namely, those needed for the jacket and half-title, since the whole will merely be folded, the whole will probably come to almost two printer’s sheets.

That was not really of concern to me, and I saw no reason to stint, since the cost of typesetting will be the same in any case and only that of the actual paper will be higher. The material reprinted from the Literatur-Zeitung will be printed in an extremely small font in order to set it off; if the supplements were also to be reduced a degree in spacing, the whole could be reduced to 1 1/2 printer’s sheets. I have left this decision to Frommann, who is himself concerned with having a handsome external appearance.

I think that covers everything involving this matter; I will now definitely anticipate receiving your authorization of the proposed change to your piece on Wednesday that I might enter it in the proofs.

Let me quickly add as much as I can about other things.

Do not neglect to read Kosegarten’s highly amusing palinode either in the original or in the notice in the Greifswaldische Blätter; he is now again taking leave of the more recent aesthetic school after having strived so laboriously for the objective and naive earlier. [16]

Voss has been here for a few weeks and is apparently intending to settle here. [17]

Goethe will soon become a father, [18] Mephistopheles is marrying a certain Fräulein (von Koppenfels), and Schiller has been elevated to the status of imperial nobility. [19]

A month ago your brother wrote and told Frommann that Plato was on the diligence from Paris. This news calmed Frommann down, who is incensed with practically all his authors. Now, however, given the sauntering gait with which Plato is actually arriving, and the fact qu’il ne met pas plus de diligence a lui parvenir, is despairing all over again. [20]

Your notebook on aesthetics has given me unspeakable pleasure, and is a delight to read. I will have part of it actually copied out, and am reading the rest with quill in hand. [21]

Many thanks, and stay well.

Various addenda explicating the annotations.

Ad 1. [22] This goes without saying and was the main point that had to be emphasized to throw light on the identity between Schütz and the reviewer.

Ad 2. Similarly this remark, since the sole intention of the equally stupid and intentional lie perpetrated by such stupid people is to provide a pretended motivation seemingly independent of your missive to Schütz. [23]

Ad 3. This seemed necessary solely in case what is indicated there were indeed to happen, given the acute superficiality of readers, for whom a second explanation of your letter could function as genuine proof, and because if Schütz himself is too stupid, as I am convinced, to comprehend the stupidity of his declaration, there will be others who will draw his attention to it, so that if he is not, as I suspect, firmly convinced that a legal suit is envisioned, then the eventuality assumed here is to be expected.

Ad 4. Here, too, (1) one had to anticipate the proof that Schütz himself could draw from the testimony of the printers, who are at his beck and call to the broadest extent possible. The reading public is so hasty that if one assures them that the piece that appeared on the 29th actually was being printed on or before the 24th, they will not consider that that does not yet have any implications for the individual notice; [24] (2) I found it necessary to mention the possibility that a reviewer be named, since if one not be so named, then the matter becomes wholly obvious and the shame falls with all the more certainty back on Schütz, and if one be so named, then he was subordinated by Schütz from the outset or at least is so now, and because in case Schütz thought he could shunt the disgrace from himself off onto the other person, it be noted at the outset, even more clearly than in your piece, that a considerable, indeed the greatest part of that disgrace nonetheless still falls on him. —

The discourse is intentionally kept sufficiently — ambiguous such that one can apply it to the reviewer’s general references to such a notice, or to a maneuver of the sort Kotzebue used with Barth etc., [25] and such that the ultimate intention cannot be legally demonstrated.

Ad 6. Goes without saying and contains nothing not already in your piece. —

Please forgive my brevity! I had to write this latter material in great haste.

Supplements [26]

A. Review of Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 225.

B. Letter to Hofrath Schütz from A. W. Schlegel [27]

C. Addendum to To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung [letter/document 371b]:

After the preceding letter, in order to preclude any and all excuses on the part of Hofrath Schütz, had been delivered directly to him personally on the morning of Friday, 24 September by a dependable courier, there appeared the following Correction, signed by the reviewer of the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy:


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. [Schelling’s note: “The entire passage is reprinted in italics.”]

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.

The following points emerge quite on their own: [28]

(1) On the morning of 24 September, Hofrath Schütz receives the missive reprinted under B; the above correction by the reviewer appears in the Intelligenzblatt of 25 September. The further explanation merits pointing out that all the pieces dated earlier than that on the missive that was delivered were already distributed before the 24th, and that according to reliable sources the Intelligenzblatt of Saturday, the 25th, was in fact not distributed until the following Wednesday, 29 September.

(2) In the reviewer’s correction, one can discern the obvious attempt to appear independent of any particular declaration that might have been sent to Hofrath Schütz, and since neither a publicly issued reproach of his review nor his own deficient sense of honor could provide him with any other pretense for publishing such a correction, he seizes on the crude fiction of certain “people” who understood this passage as referring to an instance of intentional death.

(3) Hofrath Schütz can also lend to the reviewer’s correction the semblance of independence from the missive sent to him, Hofrath Schütz himself, by mentioning that missive afterward as a new occasion prompting yet a second declaration or correction, all of which it seems not superfluous to mention beforehand as yet another possible attempt at an excuse.

(4) Hofrath Schütz is free to provide the assurance that both the review itself and the correction were sent to him from elsewhere; the reading public, however, is similarly free to believe what seems most probable given the explicated circumstances, including in the case that some indefinite proof be presented that the piece dated 25 September genuinely was in the press prior to the 24th, or in the case that otherwise some obscure person or other is actually found who will own up to the disgrace of the review as well as the correction at least to the extent that it falls to him as the reviewer.

(5) Finally it should be noted that through his correction, the reviewer has in fact admitted that he intentionally had the libelous accusation contained in passage from the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy reprinted, disseminating it in the A. L. Z. solely as the gossip of certain malicious people, i.e., in the awareness that he himself was thus functioning as a pasquinian.

D. The following assessments of Hofrath Marcus in Bamberg and Professor Röschlaub in Landshut concerning the content of the defamation contained in the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy and repeated in the A. L. Z. have been communicated by them for publication.

1. Assessment of Hofrath Marcus etc. etc.

2. Assessment of Professor Röschlaub etc. etc.


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:405–12; Fuhrmans 2:445–49 (omitting materials in Plitt 1:410–12, included in part here).

In this letter, Schelling goes into considerable detail concerning his final assessment of and comments on Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Some of Schelling’s at times frenetic, indignant, and arrogant disposition in this discussion with respect to his adversaries reflects a salient part of his personality that has already been seen earlier (e.g., in his “The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature”) and is seen later as well, even after his departure from Jena. Back.

[1] I.e., publicly with respect to Wilhelm’s ultimatum to him concerning the review of the piece Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Schelling’s point is that though Schütz had commented publicly, it was not as Wilhelm had wished (by taking responsibility for the review and its insinuating passage), and not directed to Wilhelm specifically in any case, as Wilhelm had wished. Back.

[2] On 29 September 1802; see below. Back.

[3] On 24 September 1802, Schelling had had Wilhelm’s ultimatum (his letter of 18 September 1802 [letter 369h]) delivered to Christian Gottfried Schütz concerning a recantation of the slur against Schelling in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. A few days later the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 173 (Saturday, 25 September 1802) appeared with a “correction” in which the reviewer, allegedly someone other than Schütz, issued a declaration concerning the allegations against Schelling. Back.

[4] I.e., rather than an anonymous reviewer who is in fact someone other than Schütz. Back.

[5] I.e., with the printing of Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[6] I.e., to Wilhelm’s ultimatum to Schütz of 18 September 1802 (letter 369h), reprinted in To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), 19–22. Back.

[7] I.e., Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[8] Schelling is writing on Monday, 4 October 1802; the coming Friday would be 8 October; these logistical “calculations” play a role later in the letter. Back.

[9] The correction was reprinted in Wilhelm’s piece; Schelling’s “annotations” were not included. See below. Back.

[10] See below. Back.

[11] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[12] I.e., on 1 and 11 October (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[13] Schelling seems to be referring to Friday, 15 October 1802 (not 18 October as in Fuhrmans 2:448fn6). Back.

[14] See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369j), note 5. Back.

[15] I.e., Andreas Röschlaub’s affidavit, which was to be added to that of Adalbert Friedrich Marcus in Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). See below. Back.

[16] The reference is to the revised edition of Ludwig Theoboul Kosegarten, Poesieen, 2 vols. (Leipzig 1798); 2nd, rev. ed. 3 vols. (Leipzig 1802), whose first volume in 1802 commences with Kosegarten’s poem “An die Zeitgenossen,” “To My Contemporaries”:

To no school beholden, to no mob
Sold for disdainful derision and cheap praise,
Obeying instead the mighty God,
Did I dare to sing what breast brought forth.
Down the rocks the cataract did plunge;
Though rough, yet ardent were those youthful songs.

Ignited by the sacred and sublime,
Spewing sparks and hidden ardor;
The inferior alone, the base, the crude
Did consecrated rage disdain.
The love of my rose-colored youth did I sing:
God, nature, beauty, and virtue.

Then other times brought other lessons.
A new light burst forth from aged night.
We are called to worship new, foreign gods;
What the fathers found sacred — is derided.
And you, my song's substance and theme,
They scorn as specters without essence.

"Depart, finally, from rutted paths,
O tempted poets! Fools that you are,
And know, only prosaic natures need
God, virtue, and eternity.
Genius creates from richer depths, its own depths,
In grasping itself.

Spurning all surrender to alien power,
Exulting in the ardently attained light,
We renounce your eternal life,
Your virtue, your God.
We smolder in our own fires,
Intoxicated by the crystal stream of authentic poesy."

Thus left and right did the slogans of masters resound,
Neighing does the echo of disciples repeat them faithfully.
And laboriously through heath and cleft does
Poetry's dark, muddy brook wind its way,
That once over golden sand did flow, the fragrance of cynoglossum  
Round about, clear as the aether. 

Far be it from me to new tongues,
To new faith to convert!
What I sang, I sang.
We, we too have the spirit of the Lord!
Hence, genies of my youth, be ye eternal,
My high song: Deity, nature, and virtue!

In her letter to Wilhelm on 10 July 1801 (letter 325), Caroline remarked concerning the news of precisely this second edition:

Good Lord! Kosegarten’s Rhymes [Poesien] are indeed now sold out, and he is cleaning them up anew, intending to remove all that is sentimental in them and instead be pristinely naive, to which end he took to heart all the criticisms he read and all those he might have imagined himself; all this according to an announcement in the Hamburger Zeitung.

Concerning this remark as well as Kosegarten’s earlier homage to Caroline, see note 16 there. — Click on the image below to open a gallery of the illustrations to both editions:



[17] Johann Heinrich Voss settled in Jena in late autumn 1802, moving then to Heidelberg as a professor in 1805 (Fuhrmans 2:448fn8). Back.

[18] The daughter whom Christiane Vulpius bore on 16 December 1802, Kathinka, survived only three days; it died on 19 December 1802 (see Caroline’s letter on 2 January 1803 [letter 374]). Back.

[19] Schiller received his certificate of nobility from Vienna on 16 November 1802, though its bestowal, at the initiative of Karl August, was more for Charlotte Schiller’s sake than for Schiller’s, since without it (the Schillers were now living in Weimar) she had no natural entry to court circles. Back.

[20] Diligence, Fr., “express postal coach” [from Paris]; qu’il ne met pas plus de diligence a lui parvenir, Fr. (here: a pun on diligence): “that he is not making more haste to get it to him.”

Friedrich Schlegel had arranged with Schleiermacher to translate Plato; Friedrich’s lethargy and increasing friction between the two resulted in Friedrich abandoning the project in May 1803 and Schleiermacher finishing it without him.

See Friedrich Frommann’s letters to Schleiermacher on 21 May 1802 (letter 360a) and, shortly later than this present letter, on 22 October 1802 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:323–24):

The month of August passed, and I was without any communication from [Friedrich] Schlegel until 18 September. I hesitated and decided simply to wait till the end of September. On the 18th, I finally received a letter from Paris written on the 2nd assuring me that the three introductions were to leave with the first diligence and that the dialogues would follow ten days later, since he wanted to proof the copies again. . . .

But the diligence seemed to be creeping along at a torturous snail’s pace, for between 18 September and 8 October I again received nothing, and then finally I received, per mounted postal carrier, the two short introductions and a few words assuring me the greater part of the manuscript would be going per the address of my banker in Frankfurt am Main per diligence and would be in my hands a week latter. Such has not happened, though perhaps I will find it at home. . . .

This recent delay on Friedrich Schlegel’s part has admittedly thwarted my plan of having the first volume appear at the next book fair.

Frommann eventually abandoned the project. Schleiermacher alone began publishing the translation of Plato in 1804, Platons Werke, part 1, volume 1, trans. F. Schleiermacher (Berlin: In der Realschulbuchhandlung, 1804); the final volume appeared in 1828, and the translation is still used today. The first volume contained Phaedrus, Lysis, Protagoras, and Laches:



[21] Part 1 of Wilhelm’s Berlin lectures; see the pertinent discussion in Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 September 1802 (letter 369d). Back.

[22] These glosses (prefaced with ad, Latin, “concerning, on, pertaining to”; Plitt 1:409–10, and separate from numbered annotations 1–5 below) were not incorporated into the final publication. Back.

[23] I.e., of Wilhelm’s letter to Schütz of 18 September 1802 (letter 369h). Back.

[24] The Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 173 (Saturday, 25 September 1802) did not actually appear until 29 September 1802. Back.

[25] See the explanation of allusions in the Ode in the supplementary appendix on Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Back.

[26] These supplements were included in Wilhelm’s final publication, To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), with the following pagination:

Pages 2–16: Wilhelm Schlegel’s own discussion.

Then supplements:

A: 17–19: the original review of Franz Berg’s piece Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 225 (Tuesday, 10 August 1802) 327–28;

B: 19–22: Wilhelm Schlegel’s letter (ultimatum) of 18 September 1802 (letter 369h) to Christian Gottfried Schütz demanding a recantation;

C: 22–24:

(1) 22–23: affidavit by Schelling concerning the delivery of the preceding to Schütz and the timing of the “correction“;

(2) 23–24: reprint of the “correction” from the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 173 (Saturday, 25 September 1802) 1399–1400;

D: 24–28: medical affidavits:

1: 25—26 of Adalbert Friedrich Marcus;

2: 27–28 of Andreas Röschlaub. Back.

[27] Of 18 September 1802 (letter 369h). Back.

[28] Schelling’s annotations here (“following points”) 1–5 were not included in Wilhelm’s publication; see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 (letter 371c). Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott