Letter 380a

380a. Schelling to Hegel in Jena: Cannstadt, 11 July 1803 [*]

Cannstadt, 11 July 1803

My dear friend, I received your letter here in Cannstadt, where I have been for two weeks now, staying in the Three Roses and, moreover, doing quite well. [1] Discounting the initial weeks, the weather has since proven to be unfailingly pleasant.

Murrhardt itself is an extremely pleasant place to spend time during the summer, not primitive or rough at all, as I imagined, but rather mild and, by virtue of its peace and quiet, also refreshing. Here things are louder, as you can easily imagine. I have not gotten out much yet in Stuttgart itself.

We had the pleasure of finding Madam Unzelmann there and of seeing her perform Maria Stuart; [2] otherwise the theater is simply beneath all criticism, and of unparalleled inferiority. In Huber I have found an extremely valiant, capable man with regards to his company in society, a man with whom indeed I have spent a great deal of time. [3] Among the local artists, I have (at least until now) visited only Dannecker, whose marble bust of Schiller and the one of Lavater are to be reckoned among the best in the genre. [4] . . .

Otherwise I have also attended various meetings of philistine societies in Stuttgart, — sort of private circles into which Haug introduced me, whose acquaintance I also made. For the most part, they are all quite easy-going people, especially the government councilors, who seem to me to be the best educated among the Stuttgart residents. [5] The antics of the court here are highly entertaining and comical, but too extensive to describe in a letter just now.

But now to other things. I was sorry not to have seen Kilian in Bamberg. [6] If he said something about my going to Würzburg, he is probably in the best position to know what is what. [7] I myself know nothing except that there is some general talk in Franconia about some people wishing that to happen — though for now I am still planning on traveling to Italy.

Life in Rome has sooner become more rather than less attractive because of the war, since, among other things, the English have now left, while many Germans have moved there from the other Italy. [8] The only disadvantage brought about by the war is the inflation, especially in Upper Italy and around Naples; otherwise it is perhaps only Sicily that the war has rendered inaccessible. All the letters from Rome that the aforementioned Uexküll has passed on to me to read sound quite inviting, even with respect to traveling there under the present circumstances. [9]

Paulus is not only being considered for the theological position in Würzburg, his is also the only name the theological faculty in Erlangen has suggested should the king enhance the salary sufficiently for them to offer the position to Paulus. [10] Three others were also proposed in the subsidium, including Niethammer. [11] At least that is what Gros told me in Stuttgart. [12]

Hoven in Ludwigsburg is to a certain extent counting on receiving an appointment in Jena. He is an extremely charming man and is to be pitied if it turns out that they there have made his mouth water in vain, since word has it that the tension and anxiety of anticipation have made him ill. Otherwise, given his extremely sensitive nature and his illusory notions concerning some sort of “pure zeal” for science and scholarship etc. that he thinks he will encounter and indeed satisfy there, he is probably better off if the position goes to someone else [13] . . .

I have seen nothing of literary things here except Jacobi’s letters, which are wholly insignificant except that in certain parts they do degenerate into maliciousness against both you and me and that the author wholly departs from his otherwise generally reticent disposition. That notwithstanding, during my stay here I could possibly entertain myself a bit by offering him the services of a response. [14] . . .

The saddest sight I have encountered during my stay here was that of — Hölderlin. Since his journey to France, whither he had gone at the recommendation of Professor Ströhlin with quite false expectations concerning what would be expected of him, and whence he immediately returned after demands seem to have been made on him that he in part could not fulfill and in part could not reconcile with his sensitive nature — since that unfortunate journey, his spirit has been utterly shattered, and though he is to a certain extent indeed capable of doing some work, e.g., translations from the Greek, his mind is otherwise utterly absent and distracted. Indeed, the sight of him unsettled me; he has neglected his external appearance to the point of disgust, and though his speech is less suggestive of madness, he has otherwise wholly assumed the mannerisms of someone in such a condition. —

There is no hope of curing him here. I thought I would ask whether you might see to him were he perhaps to come to Jena, which he wanted to do. [15] He needs quiet surroundings and could probably be straightened out with consistent, ongoing treatment. Whoever were to assume responsibility for him would absolutely have to function as a kind of tutor in reestablishing him from the ground up. He would be of no further trouble once one had rectified his external appearance, since he is otherwise very quiet and withdrawn. [16]

Write me again in Murrhardt if you do write, since I am unsure where I will be staying next. I will, however, not be leaving Württemberg before the end of August. [17]

Because of your friendship, you will not be indifferent to the news that I have recently been married to my lady friend. [18] She sends her warm regards and asks that you extend them to the Frommanns as well. [19] We have been so distracted here that it has not yet been possible for her to write to them herself. [20] . . .


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:465–69; Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Sämtliche Werke, vols. 27–30, Briefe von und an Hegel, vol. 1: 1785–1812, ed. Johannes Hoffmeister (Leipzig 1952), 69–71; Fuhrmans 3:2–7. Back.

[1] The inn Drei Rosen (“three roses”) seems to have changed its name early in the nineteenth century, as early as 1824 and consistently thereafter being called the Gasthof zur Rose and recommended as “good accommodations and quite decent service and food” (Karl Jäger, Handbuch für Reisende in den Neckargegenden von Cannstadt bis Heidelberg, und in dem Odenwalde [Heidelberg 1824], 44).

The hotel was located at the center of town at Marktstrasse 31 and at least in 1896 had ten beds (“Ausstellung und Wanderversammlung Stuttgart-Cannstatt. Wohnungsnachweis,” Mitteilungen der Deutschen Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft 11–12 [1896], no. 8 [April 1896], 70–72, here 72), and in 1863 was recommended for its excellent wines and kitchen, though also for being cheap (Julius Bernhard, Reisehandbuch für Württemberg und die angrenzenden Länderstriche der Nachbarstaaten [Stuttgart 1863], 597).

Here the hotel at the right on an early twentieth-century postcard:


Although no illustrations of the hotel contemporary with Caroline and Schelling seem to be extant, the facility was apparently one of the smaller ones, similar to the Gasthof zur Sonne, which is frequently mentioned with it; here the Gasthof zur Sonne in Cannstatt in 1868 (Album von Cannstatt und Umgebung, ed. Heinrich Ebner [Stuttgart 1868]):



[2] Concerning Friederike Unzelmann’s performances in Stuttgart, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380). Back.

[3] Ludwig Ferdinand Huber was at the time editor of Johann Friedrich Cotta’s Allgemeine Zeitung in Stuttgart. Here part of the front page of that newspaper on the day Schelling is here writing, namely, 11 July 1803.

Its lead story — significantly — is a continuation of its previous explication of the Hauptschluß der ausserordentlichen Reichsdeputation of 25 February 1803 (the Principal Conclusion of the Extraordinary Imperial Delegation), a document that would not only change the entirety of Europe geopolitically, but also decisively influence Caroline and Schelling’s future:


Concerning Caroline’s encounter with him in the Stuttgart theater at the performance of Friederike Unzelmann, see her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 19 June 1803 (letter 380). Back.

[4] Concerning the bust of Schiller, see Caroline’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 11 March 1802 (letter 353), note 11 (from Gustav Könnecke, Schiller. Eine Biographie in Bildern, 2nd ed. [Marburg 1905], 48):


Bust of Lavater from Felix Becker, “Eine Dannecker-Monographie,” Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst, N.S. 22 (1911), 121–24, here 123:



[5] Concerning the “Saturday Literary Circle” hosted by Ludwig Ferdinand and Therese Huber in July 1802, at which Haug and even August Wilhelm Iffland were present, see supplementary appendix 380a.1. Back.

[6] On their journey from Jena to Murrhardt, Schelling and Caroline had traveled through Bamberg; here their route, discounting Nürnberg (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Murrhardt is situated 25 km just southwest of Hall):


Konrad Joseph Kilian had just been appointed second physician at the Bamberg General Hospital. Back.

[7] Kilian’s new Bamberg colleague Adalbert Friedrich Marcus had initiated steps to have Schelling appointed to a professorship in Würzburg. See map in previous footnote and Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 30 April 1803 (letter 377c). Back.

[8] Concerning Schelling and Caroline’s plans to travel to Italy, and the war that would ultimately thwart those plans, see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 April 1803 (letter 377b), note 1. The “other Italy” is presumably the northern Cisalpine Republic. Back.

[9] Schelling mentions Uexküll earlier in the letter in connection with art collections he had seen in Stuttgart. Caroline, who makes no mention of such a visit or collection, may or may not have accompanied Schelling. Back.

[10] Erlangen, on the River Regnitz just south of Bamberg, had become a Prussian territory in 1792 and remained so until 1806, when it became French as a result of Napoleon’s victories, then Bavarian in 1810 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[11] Both Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus and Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer ended up accepting positions in Würzburg, thereby becoming Schelling’s colleagues there as they had been in Jena ((Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[12] Either the Erlangen professor Karl Heinrich Gros or perhaps Schelling’s future brother-in-law, Adolf Gross (according to Fuhrmans 3:4, with short biography of Gros). Back.

[13] Ludwigsburg is located just northeast of Stuttgart (Trigonometrische Carte von Schwaben, zur Übersicht der Berechnungen, auf welche sich die neuen Carten gründen [Dillingen 1802]; Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, 19Cg/107):


For von Hoven’s own detailed account of the failure of this anticipated position in Jena to materialize, see Erich Schmidt’s introduction to Caroline’s time in Würzburg. Back.

[14] The reference is to Friedrich Köppen, Schellings Lehre oder das Ganze der Philosophie des absoluten Nichts, dargestellt von Friedrich Köppen. Nebst drey Briefen verwandten Inhalts Friedr. Heinr. Jacobi (Hamburg 1803), a condescending, frequently derisive diatribe against Schelling’s philosophy from the perspective of the late Enlightenment’s disinclination toward speculation seemingly incommensurate with “healthy human understanding.”

The piece included three letters from Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. Köppen begins his argumentation (ibid., 1) with the following quip:

Despite all the differences between more recent German philosophical schools, these pushy, forward actors in the literary sphere, one cannot fail to discern one universal character trait among them. All emerge claiming universal validity, then over the course of their lives grumble and seethe at being so woefully misunderstood, and finally, before the explications, applications, and compendia have even been completed, sink into their graves.

All these previously deceased and currently dying systems were born confident of their own immortality; they demonstrated, i.e., proved their assertions as being eternal and necessary. Through those demonstrations, they thought themselves elevated above the transience of death, and then after they did indeed die, it remained incomprehensible to their adherents how they could have died.

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi had already been involved in a feud with Fichte in connection with the latter’s atheism dispute in 1799, including the famous “green letter” (see Caroline’s letter to Johann Diederich Gries on 9 June 1799 [letter 240], note 3), and similarly considered Schelling’s philosophy ultimately atheistic.

Although Jacobi was opposed to Schelling’s philosophy virtually from the outset, in a letter on 22 March 1802 he admitted having not read anything by Schelling before the summer of 1802 (Friedr. Heinr. Jacobi’s Briefe an Friedr. Bouterwek aus den Jahren 1800 bis 1819, ed. Wilhelm Mejer [Göttingen 1868], 18). These letters, which Köppen had invited Jacobi to include in his own lengthy (273 pages) critique of Schelling’s philosophy (Jacobi’s three letters are reproduced there on pp. 209–73), were the start of a dispute between Jacobi and Schelling that in 1810–11, i.e., after Caroline’s death, became extraordinarily vitriolic.

In this context, over the course of the next few years Schelling’s philosophy often provokes his opponents to engage in condescending, hypercritical, and even vituperative attacks similar to that of Köppen. Back.

[15] Hölderlin had earlier studied in Jena, where he attended the lectures esp. of Fichte and made the acquaintance of both Goethe and Schiller. Back.

[16] Although Caroline nowhere mentions these meetings with Hölderlin, she doubtless made his acquaintance on this occasion, when he spent thirty-six hours with the Schelling family in Murrhardt; she met him once more in Würzburg in 1804 (Taschenbuch zum geselligen Vergnügen 1803 (Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Concerning Schelling and Hölderlin’s meeting in Murrhardt, see supplementary appendix 380a.2. Back.

[17] The Dutchy of Württemberg was located in the circle of Swabia. Schelling and Caroline departed Murrhardt via Stuttgart for Munich on 5 September 1803, were back in Murrhardt on 10 October 1803, and departed for Würzburg on 31 October 1803, where they resided until the spring of 1806 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



[18] Schelling’s father had married them in the Church of St. Januarius in Murrhardt on 26 June 1803 (anonymous photograph; second illustration: Berlinischer Damen Kalender auf das Jahr 1809; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):




[19] Concerning Hegel’s general disposition toward Caroline, see her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 23 November 1801 (letter 331), note 16. Back.

[20] Caroline, of course, was taking the waters in Cannstadt (Cannstatt) and presumably otherwise participating in the customary social events common at such mineral-springs spas (frontispiece to Wilhelm August Rehmann, Die Leopoldsquelle zu Rippoldsau [Heidelberg 1833]; anonymous lithographs ca. 1850, Theresienbrunnen, Der Sprudel [the latter two in Karlsbad] [Dresden: Lehmann & Opitz, 1858]):





Translation © 2017 Doug Stott