Letter 371c

371c. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 8 October 1802 [*]

Jena, 8 October [1802]

Let me say right at the beginning that everything was taken care of without any of the confusion that might have been a concern for you after my last letter. [1]

Even before your last letter arrived, [2] the suspicion that Schütz had doubtless written to you directly, intending perhaps to introduce an element of confusion into the measure on which we had agreed, prompted me to retract the remarks I had sent to you.

What I did instead you can see for yourself! It was impossible to leave out the correction, with which he was trying to play the praevenire [3] but basically merely entangled himself more deeply. Nor would it do merely to refer in a general fashion to the circumstances involving the date of the issue on the 25th, since then it would appear as if I were trying to excuse the measure I myself took by adducing the fact that that issue did not appear until the 29th, and as if I were of the opinion that the two of us could certainly have made do, if necessary, with that correction. [4]

My function as someone merely carrying out a commission left me the possibility of alluding to the necessary elements by doing nothing more than reserve for you yourself the use of this new piece of evidence, and since I took the opportunity to speak merely in order to present this witness, it seemed all the more harmless, since my own part in arranging the publication could not, after all, remain concealed. So I do hope you will approve of what I did!

All this had already transpired when your letter arrived with the disgraceful response from Schütz. [5] As annoyed as I was to see you exposed to such infamy, it was impossible to withdraw anything, since although not everything had been actually printed, it had been set, and all circumstances advised haste in the matter. [6] It is more correct to say that nothing was impossible; although I could have confiscated everything that had already been printed, I freely decided to leave things as they were. My primary considerations for doing so were the following.

You write in your piece: “this satisfaction, however, has been refused.” [7] Without any explanation one would necessarily associate that with a response to you from Schütz, since no one would know about the condition demanding it be sent it to me within three days.

Hence I had to relate this from your letter or eliminate all reference to it in your piece. That would have meant citing a passage from your letter without the whole, and this mere mention could only aggravate Schütz, since now, after your piece has appeared, he can no longer care whether or not your letter also be made public, which contains only that which the main piece says more forcefully in any case; and it would give him an equally valid reason to print your letter and thus his own as well. [8]

It was thus my firm conviction that if Schütz is going to publish his letter at all, he will do so in any case, and all the more so the more convinced he is of finding even the slightest hint that one was in fact trying to avoid precisely that, — it was that conviction that prompted me to leave things as they were and to avoid the considerable printing delay.

Believe me when I say that Schütz cannot be restrained from any infamy. Although his extreme stupidity prompts one not to expect him to refrain from printing his letter because he perhaps realizes the brainlessness of his assertions after the fact, even if he does repress the letter, he will not be repressing the notion, and here, as I said, there is no other countermeasure except either to box his ears or to slay him outright.

Whatever he may do, he is utterly branded by your piece — and then by his own letter such that one can probably rest at ease concerning the other considerations. The main thing seems to me to be that you should not have accepted the letter at all. [9]

As soon as I get the piece out publicly here, I will try to see that it makes the strongest possible impression; it will get into the hands of the most important people in Weimar, will be sent to all the professors here, including Griesbach, [10] excepting only the less important ones. [11] I will then see what else might possibly be effected in Weimar. I confess I cannot comprehend how Schütz can make it through this time.

Should Schütz himself instigate a lawsuit against either you or me, then you need to join me in implementing the collective measure of rejecting the forum here, which is an acceptable procedure, and of applying for transfer to a law faculty elsewhere. As our reason we can adduce the way my earlier lawsuit with him was handled. [12]

I actually did not change the passage about which I initially wrote you; [13] nothing follows from your opinion for me, nor did I confirm it by arranging for publication since I could not change anything.

Otherwise I changed several phrases only during actual printing, albeit not without Caroline’s consistently solicited advice and concurrence.

To wit, on page 4 “twelve days” instead of “fourteen days,” since the illness really did last only that long. [14]

Ibid., “continuation of opium” instead of simply “opium”; this change seemed necessary because that was indeed the case and because otherwise the view might arise that it was I who first prescribed the opium. [15]

Otherwise I really do not think anything else was was changed.

In Röschlaub’s statement, [16] commensurate with your intent, I left out an extremely strong passage contra the Kissingen surgeon. We must wait and see whether the infamy turns back on him as the source, [17] and whether after the resolute statements by Marcus and Röschlaub he still wants to repeat his horrible defamation. In that case, my intent is to hand the entire matter over to Röschlaub, who has offered his services in that regard, and I must then ask you for the copy of the medical history, since that would be essential.

You will be receiving 10 copies on writing paper; I will then send four more on vellum later. — And also two issues of the Zeitschrift, [18] with which I hope you will be pleased. I am not franking the package that it may proceed all the more securely, but let me ask that you make a note of the postage that I may settle with you at the next opportunity.

I am keeping Schütz’s letter in order definitely to show it to Goethe. [19] You will receive it back on the next postal day; it is also remarkable because of its false date of 23 September. [20]

I know not whether I already wrote and told you that the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy was published in Nürnberg by Felsecker’s Sons, the same who also published the father’s missive on Fichte’s atheism. [21] Berg is indeed the author; he being universally despised in Würzburg, even a circle of people in Bocklet has now spoken quite ill of him. According to a hint given me by Mehmel, I should perhaps also suspect that Abicht in Erlangen had a part in it, a vile fellow who, as I have learned through other sources, is intimately associated with Berg and from whom that particular missive might even derive, [22] which I am now convinced was produced in Franconia rather than in Saxony, where one could until now only suspect Heusinger, who, however, does not really have any connection with Franconia.

I still know not whether I will be sending you all the copies with this letter or only one, in which case you will receive the package with fifty copies from Frommann by way of Leipzig just as soon, where he will be traveling tomorrow; [23] I would merely prefer not to send you any printed matter through the postal service here.


With respect to the other matter, [24] what I have to relate can be reduced to the following:

(1) The petition draft has still not come from Weimar. [25] I am hoping to receive it tomorrow. This timely delay can do no harm, since I must unfortunately confess that we are in much the same situation as you yourself with regard to the required sum. [26] Although I would gladly offer to advance it, financial expectations went so contrarily this past summer, and the loss of time, my inability to work caused by all that happened to me this summer, have set me so far back, and even the income I am anticipating at the beginning of next month from my lectures will hardly suffice to pay even the debts I have already incurred. [27] I do, however, intend to guarantee fifty Thaler, at which time, around the end of this month, it will be possible for you to come up with the rest required for this purpose, even if only temporarily.

(2) If such disgracefulness should now also dare to attack Caroline and you personally, the most appropriate and dignified response would be the frank and straightforward declaration and acknowledgment of the fact — as the single or at least primary reason — that a separation has already been in effect for several years.


To be honest, we have had some thoughts about the cavalier who made the statements about Caroline in Berlin. [28] Please be candid and tell us whether it was Herr Silverstolpe. — What has raised our suspicion is that he was the only non-German we can recollect having seen this summer who afterward travelled on to Berlin; moreover, we both found him to be an insufferably brazen do-gooder and aspirant reformer of both people and the world, and among other things we both declined to give him letters of reference, I to Tieck, Caroline to you, [29] because we did not want to importune you with him.

This negative response, for which Caroline adduced the excuse that she simply did not know whether you were presently in Dresden or would still be there on his arrival, was the only exchange she had with him; this likely vexed him, and since perhaps Madame Sander had said something of the sort to him, he in his own turned imagined — something that is not at all far-fetched (given what I know of him) — that he in fact heard it from Caroline herself. [30]

I am hoping to receive the Spanish piece tomorrow and am certainly looking forward to it, [31] just as I was quite pleased and glad to hear about your brother’s interest in Bruno. [32]

Stay well.

Yours truly,


[*] Plitt 1:413–17; Fuhrmans 2:449–53 (whose notes are in part cited below).

In this letter, Schelling addresses the two ongoing concerns mentioned in the editorial note to Caroline’s undated letter to Wilhelm in September 1802 (letter 370), namely, (1) Schelling’s dispute with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung involving the insinuation that he contributed to Auguste’s death in Bad Bocklet in July 1801, and (2) Caroline and Wilhelm’s divorce petition.

The first part of this letter refers back to Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 October 1802 (letter 371a) with its sometimes frenetic and involved references to Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), which had appeared in the meantime; the second part discusses the draft of the divorce petition that was being vetted in Weimar. Back.

[1] I.e., Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 October 1802 (letter 371a) concerning Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), which had been published in the meantime. Back.

[2] Not extant, though it apparently included the letter Christian Gottfried Schütz had written to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369k) denying having written the review of Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1802) 225. Back.

[3] Latin, “to arrive first or beforehand, anticipate, forestall.” Back.

[4] The correction was dated 25 September 1802 but did not appear until 29 September 1802. Back.

[5] Schütz’s letter to Wilhelm mentioned above (on 24 September 1802 [letter 369k]). Back.

[6] Schelling is referring to the printing and publication of Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[7] I.e., the “satisfaction” of Schütz issuing not only a retraction, but a completely new issue of no. 225 of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung deleting the (in Wilhelm’s opinion: defamatory) review and substituting a different one. Back.

[8] Schütz did precisely that in his piece with the seemingly interminable title 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 (Jena, Leipzig 1803), which appeared in January 1803 (“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”). Back.

[9] Schütz had sent it to Berlin in care of the Bernhardis, where Wilhelm was residing. Sophie Bernhardi signed for the letter when it arrived. (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[10] Co-editor of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung since the resignation of Gottlieb Hufeland. Back.

[11] So the reading (“less important ones”) in Fuhrmans 2:451; Plitt 1:414 read “others?”. Back.

[12] See Schelling’s declaration in the Intelligenzblatt of the Allgemeine Literatur-ZeitungSaturday, 2 November 1799, and the editorial response (letter 252d), esp. note 4 there. See also Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 30 May 1800 (letter 260c) concerning the mutual personal injury lawsuits Schelling and Christian Gottfried Schütz filed against each other. Back.

[13] See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369j). Back.

[14] I.e., Auguste’s illiness (dysentery) in June and July 1800. Back.

[15] Schelling had disagreed with the course of treatment recommended and in part followed by the Kissingen surgeon Büchler (representative illustration by C. L. Desrais and L. Sailliar [1771]):



[16] I.e., Andreas Röschlaub’s affidavit cited at the end of Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[17] Viz., of the rumors that Schelling having meddled in Auguste’s treatment contributed to her death, as insinuated by the passage excerpted in Schütz’s review of the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy. Back.

[18] Neue Zeitschrift für speculative Physik (1802) I:2 and I:3; these were the only two issues. Back.

[19] See Schelling’s letter to Goethe on 10 October 1802 (letter 371e). Back.

[20] This seems to be the only mention of the discrepancy in the dating of Schütz’s letter to Wilhelm (letter 369k), which is otherwise dated 24 September 1802 (e.g., in Schütz’s own 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 [Jena, Leipzig 1803]). Back.

[21] The proceedings against Fichte in 1799 resulting in the charge of atheism and his dismissal from the university were initially prompted by the anonymous publication Schreiben eines Vaters an seinen studierenden Sohn über den Fichte’schen und Forberg’schen Atheismus (1798). See the excursus in the supplementary appendix on Fichte’s atheism dispute. Back.

[22] The “missive” was the “Auszug eines Schreibens aus Nürnberg vom 1. März 1801,” Intelligenzblatt of the Neue allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek 58 (1801) 1:4, 278–80, insinuating that Schelling’s review of Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade was the incident prompting the resignation of the co-editor of the Erlanger Litteratur-Zeitung Johann Georg Meusel. See also the section on the background to Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Back.

[23] Friedrich Frommann was printing Wilhelm’s piece. Back.

[24] The divorce between Wilhelm and Caroline. Back.

[25] The divorce petition (letter/documenet 371) arrived the next day; see Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 9 October 1802 (letter 371d). Back.

[26] The required sum, should such become necessary, to bribe one of the members of the consistory to excuse both Caroline and Wilhelm from having to appear before the consistory. Schelling discusses this issue at length in his letter to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369j); see also notes 19 and 20 there. Back.

[27] Schelling was still a special professor without salary who derived his income from student payments for his lectures. Back.

[28] See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369j); Wilhelm was concerned that Caroline had divulged to a stranger that their divorce petition had been undertaken, a stranger who then divulged that confidence to Wilhelm himself in Berlin (Goettinger Taschen Calender vom Jahr 1790; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[29] Tieck was residing in Dresden at the time (though would soon move to Ziebingen; see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 15 June 1802 [letter 363], note 6), Wilhelm, of course, in Berlin. Back.

[30] Toiletten Kalender für Frauenzimmer (1796); Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


Concerning Sophie Sander’s visit to Jena and Weimar, see Friedrich Tieck’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 15 June 1802 (letter 363a), note 4; also Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 18 January 1802 (letter 341), with note 29. Back.

[31] From Goethe, to whom Wilhelm had sent it earlier, namely, Calderon’s Devotion of the Cross; Schelling did not receive it until 12 October. Back.

[32] Schelling’s Bruno; oder, Über das göttliche und natürliche Princip der Dinge: Ein Gespräch (Berlin 1802). Friedrich Schlegel wrote Schleiermacher from Paris on 15 September 1802 (Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben 3:322; KGA V:6:148–49):

You asked to hear what I think of Bruno. After the preceding system, it could not but please me, for what would not seem refreshing after that, including with respect to the art of dialogue? Although it is admittedly an extremely weak and coarse initial attempt, I am hopeful he will soon produce better.

I hope you will not long be able to see your own preferred art in such weakened condition without taking measures yourself. What particularly displeases me in this respect is that he does not use specific historical persons. Bruno himself, other Italian philosophers, artists, and antiquarians, — that would have yielded an excellent symposium, and would have been exactly appropriate for Schelling, though admittedly such would have required more accoutrements than he really needed; that he did not do it was simply a result of pure asthenia.

I myself intransigently demand historical persons for dialogical works of art, specifically from modernity. I do also believe one could have the Gnostics say virtually everything of genuine value in our philosophy. Schelling’s mysticism has often made me laugh; it is exactly the same as the Romantic element in Schiller’s Johanna [title character in the play Kalendar auf das Jahr 1802, which contained Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie (n.p. [Berlin] 1801)]. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott