Letter 378

• 378. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Jena, 20 May 1803 [*]

Jena, 20 May 1803

Among the final distractions attending our departure, let me answer your letter of 7 May, which, however, because of the current postal conditions, did not arrive until the 15th. [1]

Humboldt himself has related to Weimar that conditions in Rome are indeed better, and our only concern now is that the beautiful edifice of our plans may yet go up in the smoke of war. [2]

I am hoping to secure the rime [3] of Michelangelo, and am almost certain I can at least get you a copy if not the original. [4]

The best way to get packages to Rome, when such cannot at least occasionally be forwarded from Berlin through Humboldt, is probably to have them sent to Milan with merchants’ goods. I will arrange to leave an address in Stuttgart and have it sent to you. . . .

We are happy to put the two sonnets at your disposal for your anthology, except that I am still not yet satisfied with the one in which you admittedly do need to determine the date; I am dissatisfied particularly with the plethora of monosyllables in the first quartet. [5]

Perhaps you could put a † or ** under both. I anticipate translating several more this summer and request permission to send these along to you as well should you find them worthy of inclusion. [6] . . .

Voss passed his last judgment on Heyne in a sixteen-page review of his Homer for the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. [7] It is a powerful, skillful, extraordinarily exhaustive piece that contrasts quite starkly with the rest of the materials in the A.L. Z. — Voss, whom I have not seen since his arrival here, was planning to visit me the past few days but was not feeling well enough to do so. If possible, I will try to get by to see him. . . .

Schelver, who has in the meantime been appointed special professor of medicine, sends his regards. He is getting off to a good start and is a real acquisition for Jena, which lost 300 students this spring while gaining a bit over 100 in return. Everyone is trying to leave: Loder to Halle, who on that account feted Herr von Kotzebue quite alone here. Paulus is awaiting not a vocatio, [8] but a signal to leave. He is still hoping for Heidelberg and would even accept an appointment to Würzburg, since a Protestant department of theology is being established there. [9] In a word, soon nothing will be left here but the familiar basic soup. [10]

Kotzebue’s status in Berlin is gratifying, [11] and the transplanting of Böttiger there would provide a source of infinite amusement. [12]

|360| We also spent several days in Weimar, [13] Caroline primarily to direct the execution of the memorial and bust of Auguste, which through Tieck’s patience and considerable skill has succeeded to a degree one could hardly have hoped for. [14] In this respect, too, you will find this work to be an infinitely worthy memorial.

Goethe is here but is so distracted by official business that he has not yet had time to discuss the drawings with me.

Because I missed my opportunity in connection with the book fair, I am herewith sending the lectures on academic study etc. (in which regard I do ask that you note the errata at the back) along with the essay on Dante; I hope they find your approval. [15]

Give my regards to all your friends, especially Tieck, and remember me kindly yourself.


The writing lectern was sold for 2 Thaler 6 Groschen to a new ecclesiastical owner, namely, Herr Marezoll. [16] That will be deducted from the sum with Tieck, and that I might conclude with another bit of domestic news, let me relate that on the same day we depart, Rose will be marrying a construction contractor or mason here. [17] And finally please deliver to Fichte the enclosed letter from Kant when you have the chance; I came into its possession earlier and had misplaced it among my papers. [18]

Caroline also sends her warmest regards. [19]


[*] Sources: Erich Schmidt (1913), 360 (short excerpt only); Plitt 1:462–64; Fuhrmans 2:504–7. This letter is the reponse to Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 7 May 1803 (letter 377d). Back.

[1] Schelling had written Wilhelm on 13 May 1803 (letter 377e), i.e., before having received that letter of 7 May on 15 May. Schelling and Caroline would leave Jena on 22 May 1803. Back.

[2] Concerning Wilhelm von Humboldt, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 22 April 1803 (letter 377b, note 2.

In that letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 April 1803, Schelling had also expressed concern that his and Caroline’s anticipated journey to Italy and Rome might be complicated or even thwarted by war. See note 1 there (Central Europe 1803 after the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803 [Cambridge 1912]):



[3] Italian (pl.), “rhymes, poetry”; here: the title of a book. See below. Back.

[4] Wilhelm had requested an edition of the poems of Michelangelo in that letter of 7 May 1803 (letter 377d). See also note 5 there. Back.

[5] I.e., two translated sonnets by Petrarch for Wilhelm’s poetic anthology Blumensträusse italiänischer, spanischer und portugiesischer Poesie (Berlin 1804). See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 31 January 1803 (letter 374e), also note 3 there, and Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 7 May 1803 (letter 377d).

Concerning these sonnets (Caroline’s translation was included, Schelling’s was not), see the supplementary appendix on their Petrarch translations. Back.

[6] Wilhelm did indeed follow a variation of Schelling’s suggestion here for identifying the sonnets. See the supplementary appendix on the Petrarch translations mentioned above. Back.

[7] Johann Heinrich Voss had moved from Eutin to Jena in the autumn of 1802.

He published an exhaustive and severely critical review of Christian Gottlob Heyne’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, Homerus: Carmina. T. 1–8. Cum brevi annotatione, accedunt variae lectiones et observationes veterum grammaticorum cum nostrae aetatis critica, charta splendidiori, adiectis parergis aere expressis, curante C. G. Heyne, vols. 1–8 (Leipzig, London 1802), in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1803) nos. 123; 124; 125; 126; 128; 129; 130; 131; 133; 134; 135; 136; 138; 139; 140; 141.


Schelling’s pagination may be referring to printer’s sheets rather than columns or pages. Back.

[8] Latin, “call in the sense of invitation, summons,” rather than “vocation, occupation one finds suitable and worthy of great effort.” Back.

[9] See the comments of H. E. G. Paulus concerning Loder specifically and the academic problems in Jena in general during this period (supplementary appendix 377c.1). Paulus himself ended up initially in Würzburg.

The new Protestant department of theology being established in otherwise Catholic Würzburg resulted from both Bamberg and Würzburg being ceded to Bavaria by the Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss) (“South West Germany and North Italy: The War of the Second Coalition 1798–1801,” The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912], map 88; [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):


See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 30 April 1803 (letter 377c), note 3.

Although Bavaria was indeed a largely Catholic region, the administration was strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and was recruiting Protestant scholars as well, largely to the chagrin of the largely Catholic population in Würzburg and certainly of the Catholic authorities there.

Unfortunately, through the Treaty of Pressburg on 26 December 1805, which ended hostilities after France’s defeat of Austria at Ulm (25 September–20 October) and Austerlitz (December 2) in the War of the Third Coalition and effectively ended the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the kingdom of Bavaria received Tyrol and Ansbach from vanquished Austria, and in exchange ceded the Würzburg territory to the previous prince elector of Salzburg, the Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, brother of the emperor Franz II of Austria, a development, of course, that necessarily led to considerable involuntary personnel changes in Würzburg, not least (but, as documented later, not only) in theology. Back.

[10] The “basic soup” refers to, among others, certainly also Christian Gottfried Schütz and Gottlieb Hufeland, the former still editor of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, though they along with Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer soon left Jena as well. Schütz even took the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung with him to Halle. Back.

[11] See Wilhelm’s remarks in his letter to Schelling of 7 May 1803 (letter 377d). Back.

[12] Especially after the suppression (by Goethe) of Karl August Böttiger’s critique of Wilhelm’s Ion back in January 1802, Böttiger’s position in Weimar had become increasingly uncomfortable. He moved to Dresden in 1806, though Schelling is here referring to a possible position in Berlin itself; see Wilhelm’s letter to Schelling on 7 May 1803 (letter 377d), note 10. Back.

[13] Goethe’s diary for 15 and 20 May 1803 notes: “15 May: at the midday meal: Herr Hofrath Schiller, Herr Professor Schelling etc. [Caroline?]” (illustration of Goethe’s Weimar house on an early postcard: “Vor dem Goethehaus zu Weimars klassischer Zeit”):


He continues on 15 May: “To Jena”; “20 May: Sent the carriage to Weimar. Evening Professor Schelling [in Jena]” (Weimarer Ausgabe 3:3:73). Back.

[14] The bust was originally to be part of the memorial triptych for Auguste. Back.

[15] See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 13 May 1803 (lettee 377e), note 12. It seems Schelling may have sent Wilhelm manuscript copies of these pieces rather than the printed versions in his Kritisches Journal der Philosophie. Back.

[16] Here two period illustrations of (1) a man writing at an angled lectern (rather than a flat table), along with a woman sewing, a child on a toy horse, and a maidservant; (2) writing and/or reading at a similar lectern along with the mother and children ([1] Johann David Donnhäuser, Eine Frau am Tisch sitzend, der Mann am Schreibpult, daneben ein Kind, ein Dienstmädchen kommt herein [ca. 1772–89]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. Res. B: 73; [2] Göttinger Taschen Calendar Für das Iahr 1798; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




[17] Caroline writes at greater length about Rose’s betrothal in her letter to Julie Gotter on 21 March 1803 (letter 377); see also note 7 there. Back.

[18] Uncertain but intriguing reference. Back.

[19] This letter is the last Schelling and Wilhelm Schlegel exchanged until 1807; they exchanged no letters after 1814.

Concerning their meeting in Würzburg in May 1804, while Wilhelm was en route with Madame de Staël between Berlin and the latter’s estate Coppet in Switzerland, see Wilhelm’s letter to Sophie Bernhardi on 15 May 1804 (letter 383f) (Thomas Kitchin, [Composite of] Europe divided into its empires, kingdoms, states, republics, &c [1787]):



Translation © 2016 Doug Stott