Letter 374i

374i. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 14 February 1803 [*]

Jena, 14 February 1803

Although my last letter [1] will already have informed you that the incident with the Weimar consistory has prevented you from receiving anything from here any earlier, let me cap it off by sending along here the letter from Caroline’s representative, whose date you yourself will easily enough notice.

The letter from your own attorney that you intentionally enclosed immediately explained the entire matter. It was solely the presumption and arrogant cleverness of this Herr Hesse that caused this entire, annoying postponement. —

Of course, the two attorneys were being used merely pro forma and had received no further instructions except generally to pursue the matter with the consistory. [2] They did not have enough awareness to see that one was depending on a higher authority in this matter, [3] and that trying to pursue the matter along the usual course had absolutely no hope of success. So your attorney believed he had to take the measures he did because he thought that the disinclination on the part of the consistory had already eliminated any chance of success. —

But in fact things stand just as I already long related to you, namely, that the granting of the petition by the duke has already been decided, and the consistory can do or say whatever it likes. The only thing it could insist on was the personal appearance, and that has been avoided by the measures already taken.

Caroline is grateful for your trust and greatly regrets if this particular incident caused you to doubt for even a moment the success of the measures taken; she herself would never have agreed to them without having been certain of their success.

Herr Hesse, with whom you have in any event gotten excessively involved, has in the meantime doubtless gotten an earful because of his importunate activities and will probably behave more prudently next time around. [4]

Things now stand thus. I had a consultation in Weimar. Caroline would have preferred no further postponement, but since the attorney is doubtless asking for one after reading your letter, one will likely have to make do with such.

Given the status of things, there was no need for further instructions to the two attorneys except

“to insist that the adduced reasons be sufficient and to lend special emphasis to those that in their opinion are the most important and that were perhaps not sufficiently emphasized in the petition, thereafter to request a favorable judgment from the consistory but, regardless of whether the latter either wants to or is able to provide such, to leave it completely to their decision.” [5]

In order to proceed with complete certainty, however, the man who so efficiently initiated the whole undertaking, doing so moreover with a beneficent, indeed fatherly disposition toward both parties, — that man has been solicited to articulate the instructions for both parties. It has been arranged for the day after tomorrow, and Caroline will afterward have nothing more to do than to instruct Messieurs Hesse and Hufeland in your and her name just as she herself has been instructed.

You can be assured that your interest in the matter is being observed as conscientiously as is Caroline’s own. Should the postponement prompted by your representative allow sufficient time to send you the instructions so that you might commensurately instruct Herr Hesse directly, such will indeed be done. If not, Caroline will make use of the power of attorney (which for now has also been sent along to him). [6] In general you can rest assured that the matter will have been completed at least by the next time. Although the consistory can indeed delay the report, one can nonetheless anticipate the duke issuing the favorable resolution without delay.

It is quite in order that you not receive any specific missive concerning non-appearance, since although Caroline alone petitioned the release from such, you were included in the petition because of the periculum in mora. [7]

I had to go on at such length about these matters that now I really cannot add more and must close. In my next letter, I will write more about other things.

Stay well.



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:451–53; Fuhrmans 2:490–91.

At issue in this letter is once again the tactic to be used to circumvent the customary required appearance before the High Consistory before being granted a divorce (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Scheidung [“divorce”] [1788], Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.775):



[1] On 11 February 1803 (letter 374h), which similarly provides the background (with cross references) to this letter. Back.

[2] Pro forma, Latin, “(simply) as a matter of form, for the sake of fulfilling formal requirements”; the two attorneys were essentially assigned to deal with the case before the consistory (Frauen Zimmer Calender Auf das Jahr 1788; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[3] Duke Karl August. Back.

[4] I.e., probably gotten an earful from Goethe and/or Christian Gottlob Voigt (Taschenbuch fur Häusliche und Gesellschaftliche Freuden auf das Jahr 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):



[5] Although the source of Schelling’s quotation here is uncertain, it likely comes from a directive from Goethe or Christian Gottlob Voigt to the attorneys or perhaps from a missive from Goethe to Schelling, perhaps also to Caroline, relating the instructions given to the attorneys. Back.

[6] See Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 7 January 1803 (letter 374a). Back.

[7] Latin, “danger in delay.” Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott