Letter 380d

380d. Schelling to Georg Friedrich Zentner in Munich: Murrhardt, mid-August 1803 [*]

[Murrhardt, mid-August 1803]

Esteemed, Well-born Sir,

May the content of this missive excuse its boldness, concerning as it does the welfare of the scholarly disciplines in those particular states with whose welfare, fortunate for them, Your Excellency has been entrusted. [1]

The various efforts prompted by Würzburg itself sufficiently demonstrate the status of things insofar as it is not merely young people who are trying to find a secure position wherever they can, but also those who have outlived their careers at other universities and now seek a position at the new institution in order to extract themselves from the irksomeness of their current situation and escape contempt in a new position. [2] — What is it, however, that has plunged them into such a situation and is driving them away from their current locales?

It is a new and powerful development of the mind and of general culture and education at large, which they everywhere try to block in the external world after having been oppressed by it in the intellectual one despite all their efforts to counter it. [3]

What remains for the establishment of a new institution is, on the one hand, a choice between two utter antitheses, things wholly incapable of being mixed and that in one way or another will ultimately diverge externally as well, and, on the other, a situation of the scholarly disciplines that makes every step taken on their behalf into something significant and consequential in an external respect as well.

Two factors prompt me to speak about this situation. First, my precise acquaintance with the situation itself as a result of my own academic and scholarly activities; and second, the fact that I am not unaware that on the occasion of the renewal of the university in Würzburg, I have been honored by having my efforts taken into consideration and my opinion solicited.

At the beginning, it seemed this new institution might be established without external opposition. It would have been both a joy and an honor for me to dedicate the entirety of my efforts to it and the best part of my life and mind to promoting its prosperity. And I believe I could anticipate some success given that which I enjoyed in Jena and perhaps also that which my absence there means. My personal acquaintance with Count von Thürheim, which I was fortunate to make on my journey through Würzburg, [4] almost led me to believe that the hopes justifiably prompted by this new university had already been fulfilled.

Now, however, I learn from every quarter that Würzburg has been filled with those who are seeking to revive there what was in part a wholly abandoned existence elsewhere, and who to that end are engaging every possible means to secure such position at a handsome price. It would be painful to think that the distance from the locale — which alone makes it impossible to know the extent to which such is indeed the case — and other unavoidable circumstances made a mistaken decision possible despite all good intentions, since only one thing is really of importance in that regard.

This circumstance to a certain extent imposes the obligation of gratitude on my part, prompting me to disregard other considerations and do that whereby alone I believe I can reciprocate those good intentions.

Not even a general concern for the scholarly disciplines would have prompted me, before the forum of my own feelings, to take this step so resolutely. It is only with disinclination and considerable effort that one could relinquish the long-held hope that the Bavarian states would become a new, universal point of coalescence for the scholarly disciplines and sciences. —

But now, after Loder, when even Schütz and Hufeland are applying for a position in Würzburg, the most extreme result can only be that Jena be thereby cleansed and opened up anew for those driven by purer intentions. [5]

Since the only benefit Herr Schütz can adduce for the university with respect to his own person is the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, and since otherwise not a single impartial person acquainted with the literary world would hesitate voluntarily to attest the degree of personal contempt and literary imbecility in which he has lived for some time now, I need not say much about that topic; with respect to the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, however, I can limit myself to historically demonstrable facts, to wit:

— that since the initial blow whereby Herr Hufeland deemed it advisable to step down from his co-editorship of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, [6] not a single even marginally renowned man has contributed to the Literatur-Zeitung in the general, more significant disciplines of philosophy, belles lettres, medicine, etc.;

— that since then it has had to begin defending itself against its adversaries by means of pasquinades and the acceptance of pasquinian attacks, in connection with which it entered into its intimate relationship with Oberhofprediger Berg, a relationship that at the moment is one of the main motivations and the preeminent element in Schütz’s application; [7]

— and that, finally, amid the utterly diminished authority of this journal, the reason for its precarious continuation is that no better journal has yet emerged to counter it with even moderately united forces.

The Literatur-Zeitung of Herr Schütz will never again be a union of distinguished men, since instead of proceeding forward with the spirit of the age and with the expansion of science and scholarship, it has instead taken the sad position of working against such expansion. The reflection of the light it was previously able to borrow simply by virtue of its location [8] is now threatening to be wholly extinguished by what is happening in Würzburg. What besides despair at the certainty of this fate and its utter demise in the face of Würzburg can possibly prompt the owners of the Literatur-Zeitung to abandon their position in Jena and try to transfer their journal to precisely that locale itself?

The new university is being called on to help this old, crumbling institution eke out its existence, whereas that same university is in fact capable of establishing from its own resources a new publication spelling the complete demise of that older one. Indeed, not even the former possibility would come about, since precisely the removal of that journal from Jena will open up the possibility for a new journal at that same locale, where it would also doubtless enjoy the greatest support. [9]

It is not at all impossible that Herr Hufeland, insofar as he has united forces with Herr Schütz in this application for Würzburg, might have declared himself willing to enter into a new association with the Literatur-Zeitung if only to provide a more honorable reputation for this otherwise dishonorable journal. But this changes nothing with respect to the scholarly value and circumstances of the whole, or at most perhaps the possibility that Herr Hufeland’s own politics and powers of discernment might at times limit Schütz’s vulgarity.

That such a journal, however, cannot support a university, or certainly elevate it, is demonstrated by Jena itself, whose demise, to the contrary, has in fact been hastened precisely by the Literatur-Zeitung, nor can Herr Hufeland’s merits as a teacher be a consideration here, since he has largely lost his own students since Feuerbach’s arrival in Jena and then even failed to regain them after Feuerbach’s departure for Kiel. [10]

These men, who, as everyone must see who is familiar with the situation, brought Jena down such that even they think it best to leave, cannot possibly be in a position to elevate the university now to be established — to the contrary, they are merely transplanting themselves into fresh soil with all their vices, their petty cabals, all their pretentions to the sort of influence one finally acquires after having spent so long a period at a single place, all their hatred of progress, and all their habitual lethargy, now also infecting that new soil amid the particular receptivity provided by its current situation and previous circumstances, and in the meantime allowing that former locale to blossom again anew.

In a larger sense — a new scholarly institution, especially under the present circumstances, must be entrusted not to tired, worn-out names, but to the activity and purer enthusiasm of a younger generation. I do not think I am erring by recognizing such to be the opinion of Your Excellency as well. Thus was Göttingen formed, which did, however, and despite all external aids, later decline and have to yield to Jena because of a lack of that which those men would also try to drive away from Würzburg, namely, a lack of the true spirit of philosophy.

I hope Your Excellency will allow me to add a few bits of information affecting my own relationship with those efforts. The situation is such that in the particular order of things in which Schütz and those like him are currently caught, I must think too highly of myself to be caught as well, whereas they by contrast feel compelled to secure a position at the very place that they fear might become a center of dissemination of the scholarly spirit for me and those like me. Even were I in a situation of having anxiously to seek an external position, these efforts would be matter of indifference for me, since every place that they leave is thereby freed for science and scholarship and progressive culture.

But I see that they are aiming at the heart of the matter itself, and that they hope to deceive the administration concerning precisely this matter and concerning the attainment of the administration’s certainly praiseworthy goals with respect to that matter. Let me adduce but one attempt as an example, namely, in the field of the philosophy of nature (since one cannot hope to thwart directly the intention of having such taught at the new university if for no other reason than the administration’s own plans for the discipline of medicine) to substitute a former student or secondary scholar for the person who founded the entire discipline [11] and has turned it into the general subject of choice of our youth, and to have that substitute recommended by a man such as Herr Professor Paulus, who must have been won over to this party I know not how, since I have never had any adversarial relationship with him. [12]

I could find no other way to counter these manifold entangled machinations — concerning as they do not only me, but the heart of the matter itself and the very intentions of the administration — than to take the most straightforward path of writing to the person of Your Excellency in the language of a frank man and with a straightforward presentation.

In its current circumstances, having been transferred to new leadership, and filled with the dissatisfied and many who are fighting for their previous status and existence, Würzburg offers a variety of possibilities and an extended field for intrigues of all sorts (e.g., such that even Paulus has found it more advisable to take the part of Berg and his ilk), and Count von Thürheim must apparently be surrounded such that, even amid his zealousness to achieve the best on behalf of the university, mistakes can be made unless the calm clarity and insight of Your Excellency does not guide things differently.

It to this clarity and insight as well as your noble and generous disposition that I commend the content of these pages with the unlimited trust informing them, trust so personal that I will take the liberty of expressing my wish that you might view this missive from your side as well as being directed solely to you personally.

I am about to continue a journey to Italy interrupted by the outbreak of war. [13] I am standing between the choice of these two possible paths. A sign from Your Excellency can prompt me to take the path leading by way of Munich. [14] So much can be said only in person, since one can simultaneously respond personally to queries that may arise.

If with respect to the imminent decisions concerning a scholarly institution toward which all eyes are currently directed, Your Excellency finds it might be not uninteresting to speak in person with someone capable of providing a complete and open account of current literary circumstances, I would then request having a brief note sent to me in Stuttgart, where I will be till the end of the month. [15]


[*] Sources: Plitt 1:476–81; Fuhrmans 3:14–19. The extant draft of this letter is in Caroline’s handwriting.

This letter is a reaction to a suggestion made by Adalbert Friedrich Marcus in the latter’s letters to Schelling on 20 July; 1, 13, 14 August 1803 (letter 380c) (see the editorial note there), namely, to write to Georg Friedrich von Zentner on the matter of the reorganization of the university faculty in Würzburg, which had already generated various intrigues by, among others, faculty members in Jena interested in securing positions themselves in Würzburg and in preventing Schelling from doing so. Schelling is particularly focused on Christian Gottfried Schütz in this letter, his former editorial nemesis with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in Jena. Back.

[1] Concerning the territorial and geopolitical redistribution and realignment and concomitant social and educational reorganization to which Schelling is here alluding, see Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 30 April 1803 (letter 377c), note 3. Back.

[2] Fuhrmans 3:14 suggests that Schelling is likely referring to Christian Gottfried Schütz in Jena. Back.

[3] Presumably an allusion not least to the public quarrels between the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung and the Romantic circle and its adherents in Jena and Berlin as documented earlier in this correspondence. Back.

[4] On his and Caroline’s journey from Jena to Murrhardt by way of Würzburg at the end of May 1803; they seem to have been in Würzburg between ca. 25 and 30 May 1803. Here Caroline and Schelling’s route from Jena (discounting Nürnberg; Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; Murrhardt [not on a postal route, hence not on this map] is situated 25 km just southwest of Hall):



[5] Justus Christian Loder, currently in Jena, eventually went to Halle. Concerning his reasons for leaving Jena for Halle, see H. E. G. Paulus’s discussion concerning problems at the university in Jena and dissatisfaction among faculty members in 1803 (supplementary appendix 377c.1). Concerning his failure to secure a position in Würzburg, see Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letters to Schelling on 20 July; 1, 13, 14 August 1803 (letter 380c) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[6] Christian Gottfried Schütz and Gottlieb Hufeland had coedited the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, though Hufeland withdrew from the enterprise in 1800 after the dispute between the A.L.Z. and Wilhelm Schlegel and Schelling; see Schelling’s letter to the latter on 6 July 1800 (letter 265), note 5. Back.

[7] See Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 1 August 1803 (letter 380c), note 12. The piece Berg had written implicating Schelling in the death of Auguste, namely, the Encomium for the Most Recent Philosophy, had been reviewed, presumably by Christian Gottfried Schütz, in the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. Back.

[8] I.e., in Jena. Back.

[9] Christian Gottfried Schütz and his successors continued to publish the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung successfully in Halle till 1849, whereas in early 1804 Goethe began supporting the publication of a new version of the earlier journal, namely, the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, which was published until 1841 under the editorship of Heinrich Karl Abraham Eichstädt; both Caroline and Schelling contributed articles to the latter (see Caroline’s literary reviews, volume 2). Back.

[10] Anselm Feuerbach had received his doctorate in Jena in 1799 and departed for Kiel in 1802 (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Besetztere und illuminierte Landkarte von Deutschland Elementarwerk, from the Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate xlv):



[11] The founder, of course, being Schelling himself. Back.

[12] H. E. G. Paulus was proposing the appointment of Carl Eschenmayer as professor of the philosophy of nature in Würzburg. See Marcus’s letter to Schelling from Bocklet on 1 August 1803 (letter 380c). Schelling’s relationship with Paulus, notwithstanding his asseverations to the contrary here, had already become strained in Jena and continued so in the future. Back.

[13] See Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 22 April 1803 (letter 377b), note 1. Back.

[14] I.e., to Würzburg by way of its reorganization by Bavarian authorities. Back.

[15] See Caroline’s update to this situation in the second paragraph of her letter to Luise Wiedemann from Munich on 8(?)–17 September 1803 (letter 381) and the continuation in that same letter on 16 September.

Schelling and Caroline

  • departed Murrhardt via Stuttgart for Munich on 5 September 1803,
  • arrived on 7 September for a three-week visit,
  • learned of Schelling’s appointment in Würzburg on 14 September 1803,
  • departed Munich on 24 September 1803,
  • were back in Murrhardt on 10 October 1803, and
  • departed for Würzburg on 31 October 1803, where they lived until the spring of 1806 (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]):



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott