Letter 377b

377b. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 22 April 1803 [*]

Jena, 22 April 1803

. . . Since we will be departing here in the middle of next month and I am not yet certain where exactly I will be, let me ask you, should our trip to Italy not be thwarted by the war or other circumstances, to write and let me know anything you would like for me to take care of there or in which regard I might be able to be of service to you. It would be a genuine pleasure for me to secure for you even a few rare books that are otherwise unavailable in Germany. [1]

It goes without saying that I would like to request permission to write you beforehand, and to relate to you when the departure will actually take place.

We are thinking about spending the winter in Rome, and I will try to bring along back to Germany whatever I can from there, though at the same time I would ask that you, too, keep me up to date concerning yourself as well as your and your friends’ projects. I would guess that one additional path between the two countries is open through Humboldt. [2]

Before our departure, Caroline would like to be sure of the execution and the manner of execution with respect to Auguste’s monument. Goethe currently has the drawings. [3]

Tieck in his own turn would like to have both his assessment of the drawing as well as some guidance and oversight afterward in the execution on site. As soon as Goethe has returned them, we will relate them to you.

Tieck’s estimate is 570 Thaler, which you have. Should more than this be necessary, Cotta has been solicited to pay out whatever is necessary. . . .

As you can discern from the enclosed preliminary document, the duke’s favorable resolution has in the meantime been issued. [4]

The formality of publication with the consistory has either not yet taken place, or the attorneys have not yet taken time to report such. [5]

Since you may want to settle as yet outstanding financial matters with Caroline before her departure, she is sending along the enclosed note for your information.

Stay very well . . . [6]



[*] Sources: Plitt 1:454–55; Fuhrmans 2:495–97. Back.

[1] Caroline and Schelling’s anticipated route to Italy and Rome would first take them to Murrhardt, where Schelling’s parents lived (northeast of Stuttgart), and then south to Rome (Central Europe 1803 after the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803 [Cambridge 1912]):


Hostilities between Great Britain and France, however, had been renewed the previous month, in March 1803, despite the Peace of Amiens (see below). Regrettably — insofar as both Caroline and Schelling had long wanted to travel to Italy (Caroline had been considering such a trip since 1802; see her letter to Wilhelm on 29 June 1802 [letter 367], note 7) — Great Britain declared war anew on France on 18 May 1803, essentially the day Caroline and Schelling’s divorce was granted.

The complex geopolitical situation on the continent made travel esp. through Bavaria and Italy particularly risky (Napoleon had become President of the Italian republics in June, and in September and October he had annexed Piedmont, Parma, and Piacenza).

The question of secularization and mediatization further complicated the situation — that is, the arrangements for compensating German principalities and states for the territory they had lost on the west bank of the Rhine River: the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of February 1803, (Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation), which implemented parts of the Treaty of Lunéville (9 February 1802) and eventually brought about the end of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

As it turned out, it was Wilhelm himself, rather than Schelling and Caroline, who would soon spend time in Italy (see his letter to Caroline on 26 January 1802 [letter 343], note 14). The renewal of hostilities between Great Britain and France, prompted by Britain’s mistrust of Napoleon’s subsequent moves on the continent, brought to an end the relative tranquility provided by the Peace of Amiens of 27 March 1802.

See “Peace of Amiens,” The Popular Encyclopedia: Being a General Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, Biography, History, and Political Economy, ed. Thomas Thomson and Allan Cunningham, vol. 1 (Glasgow, Edinburgh, London 1841), 140:

Peace of Amiens, concluded March 27, 1802, by Joseph Bonaparte, the marquis [Charles] Cornwallis, [José Nicolás] d’Azzara, and [Rutger Jan] von Schimmelpenninck. In 1800, Britain saw herself deprived of all her continental alliances; the Russian emperor, Paul, was dissatisfied that Malta was not restored to the order of which he was grand master, and Pitt had laid an embargo on the ships of Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden, because, at the instigation of Paul, they determined to revive the armed neutrality of the north.

On the other hand, the ports of the continent were closed against the British ships, and this circumstance gave the opposition in parliament a majority against the ministry. At the same time, the minister could not obtain the consent of the king to the emancipation of the Catholics. So the Pitt ministry was dissolved, and the speaker, [Henry] Addington [1757–1844], took Pitt’s place, as first lord of the treasury. The new ministry, of which lord Hawkesbury [Robert Banks Jenkinson] was secretary of foreign affairs, commenced negotiations for peace, and the preliminaries were signed at London, Oct. 1, 1801. A definitive treaty was concluded at Amiens between Great Britain, France, Spain, and the Batavian republic, March 27, 1802. . . .

But this peace soon became generally unpopular in Britain; for the first consul fitted out a great expedition against St Domingo, and wished to place French consuls in all the ports of Ireland. On the other hand, Great Britain declined evacuating Egypt and Malta, maintaining that France had first threatened; in which assertion they were confirmed by [Horace François Bastien] Sebastiani’s inconsiderate report of his mission to Egypt.

May 10, 1803, the British court declared the conditions on which, alone, all new differences could be reconciled; demanded indemnification for the king of Sardinia, who had been expelled from the continent; restitution of the island of Lampedosa, and the evacuation of the Batavian and Helvetian republics by the French troops. These conditions the French refused, and the Court of St James’s declared war, May 18, 1803. Back.

[2] In August of 1802, Wilhelm von Humboldt had been appointed representative Prussian minister at the Holy See in Rome, where he arrived on 25 November 1802, and remained until October 1808. Schiller wrote to Goethe on 24 May 1803 (Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe, ed. Adolph Kohut [Berlin 1850], 435):

Humboldt wrote again . . . It is a real sickness the way in the middle of Rome he is languishing for the supersensory and nonsense-ory, so much so that he now heartily yearns for Schelling’s writings; he will . . . soon . . . get to see him, and then can presumably renew in the Vatican the conversations they began in Jena at the Fox Tower. I doubt he will be able to endure long there.

The Fox Tower in Jena (Fuchsturm) is situated on the Hausberg, east of Jena, and was a popular excursion locale esp. for Jena students, as well as the site of dances and other festivities (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Topographische Charts der umliegenden Gegend von Jena [Weimar 1800]):


The town church and market square are visible at far right, the Fox Tower at the left edge of the illustration (Copper engraving by Johannes Christian Mueller Roehr [1748]):


(Ernst Borkowsky, Das alte Jena und seine Universität: eine Jubiläumsgabe zur Universitätsfeier [Jena 1908], 178):


(Library of Congress Catalog no. 2002720733):


Humboldt did not, of course, see Schelling in Rome. Back.

[3] Concerning some of the early drawings, see the gallery on Auguste’s memorial. Back.

[4] I.e., a favorable resolution concerning the divorce petition (letter/document 371). Back.

[5] It was not until 30 April 1803 that the attorneys gave word that the divorce was to be finalized on 17 May (which did indeed happen). Back.

[6] Wilhelm answers this letter on 7 May 1803 (letter 377d). Back.

Translation © 2016 Doug Stott