Letter 371g

371g. Wilhelm Schlegel to Schelling in Jena: Berlin, ca. 13 October 1802 [*]

Berlin, ca. 13 October 1802 [1]

I received your letter of the 8th [2] yesterday along with the parcel with fifty copies of the Rebuke and the two new issues of your Zeitschrift. [3]

I completely approve of the solution necessitated by the correction. [4] The initial proposal was perhaps more for immediate effect; with this measure, Schütz cannot preempt me by contending I had intentionally suppressed his letter and ignored his assurance that he was in fact not the author of the review. [5]

Although I am, to be sure, now anticipating the most enraged attacks from him, I am also awaiting them with considerable indifference. I will not respond to him at all. Since I myself have already declared him to be a dishonorable person, I cannot have any further exchanges with him. It would indeed have to be a peculiar turn of events to prompt me to take up my quill again in this matter. I, too, think him shameless and vile enough to have his own letter to me published. [6]

You suggested that I perhaps should have had the letter returned to where I had received it. Such did not really occur to me not least because it was received during my absence. [7] Although it is true that after reading it I could have resealed it and sent it back to Unger with the explanation that the letter itself was of such a nature that I simply had to consider it as not really having been received, what would thereby have been gained? Schütz would have associated the “preferring not to accept” with the last allusion; [8] and let me repeat that I know of no other way to make it clear that one has indeed understood something like that apart from physical importunity. And since in any future attacks on me he will have to restrict himself to mere allusions lest he maneuver himself into a legally disadvantageous situation, it is highly unlikely he will be able to prompt me to break my silence.

Should Büchler be drawn into this game, it goes without saying that I will immediately send you a copy of his medical account along with the supplements, as well as a copy of your own report from the time. [9] I merely thought it best for now not to give this stranger any occasion for forcing his way before the public and justifying himself. Such would only prolong this entire, wretched quarrel.

That fairly well covers what needs to be said about that situation. Concerning the other matter, [10] I really have nothing to add except that I will await the necessary materials.

I am writing in great haste. Although I have not, of course, had time since yesterday to read the new issues of the Zeitschrift, I can see merely from paging through it that it will be of considerable interest and am very much looking forward to reading it. . . .

That you found my notebook not uninteresting cannot but please me greatly. Let me know whether Fernow has arrived in Jena and is genuinely lecturing. [11] . . .

Kotzebue is here, though I have seen neither him nor the booklet in which he has allegedly remembered me. [12]

Stay very well.

A. W. Schlegel


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:417–19; Fuhrmans 2:457–59. Response to Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 (letter 371c). Back.

[1] Fuhrmans 2:457fn1, points out that although Plitt dates the letter to 8 October 1802, the letter to which it is responding was written on 8 October as well, and, as Wilhelm points out, he is writing the present letter the day after receiving that letter. Fuhrmans thus suggests it can hardly have been written before 13 October. Back.

[2] Letter 371c. Back.

[3] Wilhelm’s own To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b), which had just been printed, and Schelling’s Neue Zeitschrift für speculative Physik (1802) I:2 and I:3 (these latter were the only two issues). Back.

[4] In his letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 (letter 371c), Schelling had suggested changes to Wilhelm’s To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b) (which had not yet been printed) in view of the appearance of Christian Gottfried Schütz’s “correction” in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung concerning the insinuating review of the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy. Back.

[5] In an otherwise lost letter to Schelling, Wilhelm had enclosed the letter Christian Gottfried Schütz had sent to him denying authorship of the review of the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy. Schelling had passed along the letter and Wilhelm’s piece To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b) to Goethe. See Schelling’s letter to Goethe on 10 October 1802 (letter 371e). Back.

[6] Schütz did indeed publish both his own letter to Wilhelm of 24 September 1802 (letter 369k) as well as Wilhelm’s initial letter to him of 18 September 1802 (letter 269h) in his 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), which would appear in early 1803. Back.

[7] The letter was delivered by Johann Friedrich Unger to the Bernhardi residence in Berlin, where Wilhelm was residing; Sophie Bernhardi signed for the letter. Back.

[8] Presumably a reference to Schütz’s final, insulting paragraph in his letter to Wilhelm on 24 September 1802 (letter 369k). Back.

[9] The Kissingen surgeon was presumed to be the source of the insinuation that Schelling, through his meddling, contributed to Auguste’s death in July 1800. Back.

[10] The divorce petition (letter/document 371); see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 (letter 371c) concerning the uncertain nature of Wilhelm’s request not to be forced to appear before the Weimar consistory. Back.

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

[12] After his return to Germany, August von Kotzebue had spent time in both Weimar and Jena.

His less than satisfactory relationship with Goethe had prompted him to move to Berlin in 1802, where together with Garlieb Merkel he was soon editing the journal Der Freimüthige as, among other things, a forum contra both Goethe and the Schlegels (Fuhrmans 2:459fn13) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):


See the supplementary appendix on Kotzebue’s caricature of “the most recent aesthetics” and Merkel’s publication of the caricature “the storming the Parnassus” in Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter in March 1802 (letter 355); also Caroline’s letter from Jena of 29 November 1802 to Julie Gotter (letter 373). Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott