Letter 371h

371h. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, ca. 16 October 1802 [*]

Jena, ca. 16 October 1802

I publicized your brochure here today, [1] though, of course, there is no way to ascertain yet what effect it is having. I thought it important to disseminate it as widely as possible here, where everyone shares our opinion in the matter; hence I sent copies to most of the professors, including Griesbach, and will be distributing fifty copies to students in my lectures; a certain number has also been given to the academic bookstore for retailing.

As far as other places are concerned, copies have been sent to Bamberg, Landshut, Tübingen, Halle (to Schelver), Hamberg (Perthes), Braunschweig (Wiedemann), Erlangen (Mehmel), and Coburg (Forberg). And today to Gotha. Enough; I worry not about its dissemination.

You were quite right concerning how Schütz would react to your letter. He utterly lost his head, that is, if he could lose something he has long been lacking in any case. But he will now lose it anew, and give free rein to both his rage and his vileness. Although I myself am disinclined to read his response, if you wish I will send it along to you. [2]

It seems to me we would be doing ourselves a great injustice were we to allow this pathetic person to have even the slightest effect on us. On the other hand, considering how far things have gone in any case, I do think in this regard he deserves nothing less than a proper flaying. Anything less would be undignified.

I wish to God I had the same talent for such as you do! Why not go ahead and resolve to renew the scene with Kotzebue now contra Schütz and the Literatur-Zeitung? [3] Schütz will always be able to stand his ground against whatever responses we issue deriving from principles of honesty, for he has no qualms about stirring up the most profound dregs of infamy. But not even this heroic vileness can stand up to wit. A grand act of this sort will free us forever. –

Nor is there any need now for being less than utterly ruthless, for regardless of what you undertake against Schütz, he will impotently rant and rave, but he will doubtless no longer fall into the trap of a lawsuit, against which we in any case possess a completely secure counter, namely, a rejection of the legal forum here. [4] Nor need one anticipate any steps being taken by Weimar, which has assumed the posture of utterly ignoring the matter and wishes only to hear absolutely nothing more about Jena — everything I have written is essentially Goethe’s opinion as well, who was just here for a few days. He had no criticisms of your brochure except that it did not really constitute a radical death blow. [5]

That Goethe is not doing more in this matter derives from the fact that he is in basically the same position as we, since he stands quite alone in Weimar, and even his immediate acquaintances are more or less straddling the fence. [6] From what I can tell, he is considering going away for a rather lengthy period, though I do not know where. –

In any event, you will have his approval and that of all reasonable people if you decide to go ahead and end everything with a single blow. . . .

As far as the other matter is concerned, [7] nothing more is necessary apart from what I already sent to you. It seems, moreover, that the request to avoid having to appear personally may well be granted after all. [8] . . .


Please be so kind as to tell me specifically when you need your manuscript again, whether you need the whole thing immediately, and if not, which part? [9]

Goethe did not bring Schütz’s letter over with him, so I cannot enclose it today. [10]


[*] Plitt 1:422–24; Fuhrmans 2:459–61. Response to Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling of 13 October 1802 (letter 371g).

Although Plitt 1:422 dates this letter to 13 October 1802, Schelling’s remark that Goethe had already left Jena likely dates the letter after 15 October, since Goethe was in Jena 12–15 October 1802 (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:65); hence Fuhrmans 2:459 with fn1 tentatively dates the letter “16 October 1802[?].” Back.

[1] To the Public. Rebuke of a Defamation of Honor Perpetrated in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (letter/document 371b). Back.

[2] Schütz’s response, 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), appeared in early 1803. On the cover of his own copy, Schelling wrote: “Not read, coming as it does from the hand of a dishonorable person.” Back.

[3] I.e., do something similar to Wilhelm’s Kotzebuade. Back.

[4] Schelling had just written in his letter to Wilhelm on 8 October 1802 (letter 371c):

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.

See note 12 there. Back.

[5] So Fuhrmans 2:460; Plitt 1:423 reads “you did not really constitute etc.” Back.

[6] Many people were uneasy with Goethe’s cordial relationship with the Schlegels. Back.

[7] The divorce Caroline and Wilhelm were pursuing (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Scheidung [“divorce”] [1788], Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.775):



[8] I.e., appear before the Weimar consistory Here Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki’s illustrations of (1) a meeting of hierarchical consistory members ca. 1774, and (2) an individual having to appear before such a consistory (“Ein hierarchisches Konsistorium,” from the Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate LXXIII d; Sebaldus vor dem Consistorium [1774]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [1-51]; both illustrations Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [1-15]):




[9] In his letter to Schelling on 13 October 1802 (letter 371g), Wilhelm had voiced his delight that Schelling had found part 1 of his Berlin lectures “not uninteresting.” See the pertinent discussion in Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 September 1802 (letter 369d).

Schelling sent this manuscript for part 1 back to Wilhelm on 1 November 1802 (Plitt 1:429). Back.

[10] Christian Gottfried Schütz’s letter to Wilhelm of 24 September 1802 (letter 369k), which Schelling had passed along to Goethe. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott