Letter 374b

374b. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 7 January 1803 [*]

Jena, 7 January 1803

Enclosed you will find, among other things, also a rescript from the Weimar consistory, which arrived here about a week ago with a similar one to Caroline. [1] I did not want to forward it to you before also being able to relate what exactly you were to do with it. Because the personal appearance before the consistory has likely already been parried, Caroline has directed a missive to the duke both for herself and, to the extent such was acceptable, also for you.

As I understand it, the final formality requires a blanquet from you, for which you will find an enclosed form. [2] You will need to copy it on the lower half of a whole (cut) folio sheet, press your seal onto it, and sign it. Send it back to me immediately, and the rest will then be taken care of. Caroline has to do a similar one for herself. . . .

The news about your brother was taken from the Allgemeine Zeitung, [3] where it was probably supplied by Böttiger, who, I hear, also disseminated things about your brother from letters from his correspondent in Paris. To wit, Madam von Wolzogen, who recently returned, relates that at the very first thé littéraire at Millin’s, [4] some of his remarks shocked the French. Whence probably those reports. I have heard, however, that your brother himself wrote someone here to the effect that he has the possibility of a position in the Department of the Rhine. [5] . . .

The amusement about which I spoke above consists in the enclosed letter from Paulus, which greatly entertained us. [6] But do not pay him anything yet, since he has certainly had time and occasion enough to address Madam Veit or you yourself as long as she was still present here; but please do be so kind as to respond to him with a few lines lest he further upset and importune Caroline. . . .

I cannot believe that Goethe is piqued with you. . . . Since you yourself will not relate it further, I can tell you that recently, in an otherwise quite general conversation, he said something about “impiety” with regard to the story with the art exhibition, and seemed to be alluding to an initiator with whom he had formerly had a cordial relationship. But surely he was not referring any of your immediate friends (the way some, as Friedrich Tieck informed me, allegedly suspected Tieck himself and his brother as being the author of that account). [7]

If quite apart from the general import of these words, considering that, as you well know, he is always happy to claim the privilege of age, — if these words otherwise are alluding to someone specific — something I do not myself believe — the target is probably Hartmann, whom now people are tending to view as the author, something I also heard from Tieck. Because Goethe heartily approved of and took great interest in the more recent works [of Friedrich Tieck], I cannot comprehend how Tieck could have any reason to think Goethe is less favorably disposed toward him. [8] . . .

Caroline deeply empathizes with Madam Bernhardi’s unfortunate recent maladies and hopes to hear soon that she has fully recovered. [9] Although Caroline would very much like the pleasure of sending along a bottle of the excellent Tokay with its considerable healing powers, with which the Hungarian Baron has amply supplied us, she fears the excise will end up causing too much circumstantial unpleasantness. [10] Although the delicate and charming boy’s rescue is certainly good news in and of itself, I am also glad for Hufeland, to whom I do ask you pass along my regards. [11]

You probably know that Himly has now definitely received an appointment in Göttingen and is definitely going. Thus the high price these days for such profound mediocrity. [12] . . .

Hegel sends his regards.

Stay well, stay healthy, and continue your friendship for me.


P.S. Only after rereading this do I see that I should have pointed out that, apart from the blanquet, there is nothing more for you to do on your end with the application to have the personal appearance waived. Such were the instructions we received from Weimar. [13] Although I myself am not familiar with the details of its use and have not really had the time to make further inquiries, it seems that your position will be represented by the blanquet itself.

Just in case this business with the art exhibition might have caused some ill feeling with Goethe toward your closer friends and thereby also toward you — though let me again sincerely assure you that from his behavior and remarks I do not have the slightest reason to think such is the case — but just in case, and if you yourself are concerned: since I can do so in a more effective and seemly fashion, and since Goethe would likely find any public mention quite unpleasant and view it as merely stirring up the entire matter again, let me ask that you authorize me to provide the same assurance to him on this point, in whatever fashion is most appropriate, that you yourself would provide give him.

3rd Postscript. I keep forgetting to relate that Rose’s declared lover now is Herr Geist, the beginnings of which Platonic connection were made last summer in Lauchstädt. [14] He is not at all neglectful in writing letters to Demoiselle Rosette Abbt; [15] as far as we can determine, however, he seems quite to be playing the Lothario among the domestics.


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:437–42; Fuhrmans 2:477–82. Back.

[1] Viz. the summons to appear personally before the consistory in the divorce request. See Herder’s missive to Wilhelm on 14 December 1802 (letter 373b). Back.

[2] The reference is to a power of attorney. See Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 7 January 1803 (letter 374a). Goethe had supplied the form and instructions. See note 2 there for the form itself. Back.

[3] In Stuttgart, not the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in Jena. Back.

[4] Fr., “literary tea.” Back.

[5] Friedrich Schlegel was unable to establish himself in Paris, and in 1804 he and Dorothea Veit moved to Cologne, where for a time he was a professor at the secondary school, the école supérieure. Back.

[6] See Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm on 3 June 1802 (letter 362), and Friedrich’s to Wilhelm Schlegel from Paris on 16 September 1802 (letter 369e). At issue was a debt for coffee and other items Friedrich had incurred with Paulus during Wilhelm and Caroline’s absence from Jena during the summer of 1800. Back.

[7] The reference is to the scandal surrounding the anonymous review of the Weimar art exhibition and competition between 24 September and 31 October 1802 that had appeared in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt. See supplementary appendix 373.1. Back.

[8] See Tieck’s frantic letter to Wilhelm concerning his anxiety at Goethe’s suspicions in supplementary appendix 373.1. Back.

[9] Sophie Bernhardi had given birth to a son, Felix Theodor Bernhardi, on 6 November 1802; two weeks later, her eldest son, Wilhelm Bernhardi, had taken ill. See Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374). Back.

[10] Concerning the plentiful supply of Hungarian Tokay wine Caroline and Schelling now had in the cellar, see her letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374); concerning the wine itself, see note 7 there. Back.

[11] The physician Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, who had recently moved to Berlin, seems to have treated Sophie Bernhardi during her recent illness (anonymous, Arzt bei der Visite [1780]; school of Chodowiecki):



[12] In her letter to Julie Gotter on 2 January 1803 (letter 374), Caroline relates that the “university in Göttingen enticed him [Himly] away for 1200 rh.” Back.

[13] Note that Schelling does not mention Goethe’s name as the person advising him and Caroline in this matter. As was Schelling’s agreement with Goethe, Wilhelm remained unaware of Goethe’s role. See Schelling’s letter to Goethe on ca. 17 October 1802 (letter 372a). Back.

[14] Where Caroline and Schelling had gone during June 1802 to attend the theater opening. See Caroline’s letter to Cäcilie Gotter in late June 1802 (letter 366), note 9. Rose had accompanied them. Back.

[15] I.e., to Rose; Schelling is referring to the way the addressee’s name is written on the outside of the letter itself. Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott