Letter 383l

383l. Carl Joseph Windischmann to Schelling in Würzburg: Aschaffenburg, 30 June 1804 [*]

Aschaffenburg, 30 June 1804

Let me answer you immediately, beloved friend, that I may assure you that your silence in no way roused my anger, though it did indeed make me uncomfortably anxious that I might have been extinguished in my friend’s memory. It is that and any occasion for it that would sooner lead me to be depressed.

Though we might well think differently about various things, I do hope such will never push my own soul away from yours, and even were such difference to involve essential views, as might be the case, for example, in my being convinced of the inappropriateness of esoteric and exoteric treatment of religion in the contemporary world, nonetheless the new age is characterized by a higher inclination one ought not, and will not, hinder through any sort of Freemason mysteries or secret ceremonies; that hierarchy has already persisted too long for one to introduce it again in a new guise.

As much pleasure as your piece did indeed give me, all the more striking did I find the appendix on further consideration, which I still view more as a description of things as they are and as they naturally conceal and reveal themselves than as they should be. But more on that topic in person. [1]

So, I am to be seeing you soon — a blissful prospect for my heart! Ah, how much I have to tell you, how much to ask! For me, Würzburg seems shrouded in Egyptian darkness [2] — I simply cannot figure out what is really going on from the contradictory rumors from there. Every day I read yet more nonsense in the Munich [Oberdeutsche] Literatur-Zeitung and have yet more reason to be annoyed. Why on earth must this coarse rag even exist? Believe me, even better men occasionally suck poison from it. Can science not acquire even a single herald who might do it honor?

I hear from everyone who comes from Würzburg that things are in chaos, that tension is regnant, that there are persecutions — all this makes it easier to comprehend your circumstances there, and now your own complaints in that regard. You will no doubt remember what I told you about the character of the Franconians — I know that brood, and anticipated beforehand that in a place where higher things were hitherto unknown, neither science would be able to flourish nor friendship abide, since such is everywhere suffocated by the vapor of an evil spirit.

That is the primary reason Vogt did not accept the appointment, which, that notwithstanding, he would perhaps have accepted could his family but decide to move to Würzburg. I can also conclude from something my uncle told me that someone has apparently passed along to Count von Thürheim a devastating powder keg contra philosophy. Thürheim requested in Würzburg that “he press Vogt all the more to come there insofar as one was in need of a practical man to counterbalance the eccentric nature of philosophy and replace such unfruitful speculation among the young people there, speculation that was being excessively nurtured in Würzburg, with a more practical direction.”

This annoyed Vogt, who is himself an enemy of everything that smothers the spirit. A thousand thanks for your efforts on Ackermann’s behalf! – I am very sorry for him; I hardly believe he will really stay in Jena; he will probably retire to private life on his estate in the Rheingau. [3]

So, for a third time concerning the prince elector’s titles; I notice you have a poor memory when it comes to titles: Most Highly Esteemed Archbishop, Most Gracious Prince Elector and Lord, and, in personal address, Your Prince Electoral Grace. But why lay your publication at the prince elector’s feet? Let us instead make use of the natural custom of passing along our gifts by hand even to princes. Let me implore you to avoid such expressions with our prince, for he is not at all fond of them; though I realize they mean nothing in and of themselves, they do have the semblance of meaning.

I hope you will not repeat the request for pardon on the trifling subject of keeping the books too long. Of what consequence are such things! Had I needed them, I would have requested them earlier.

In delightful anticipation of seeing you, we send our warmest regards to you both.

Eternally yours,



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:19–21; Fuhrmans 3:90–92. Response to Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 26 June 1804 (letter 383k) (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):


Windischmann, despite or perhaps because of his sometimes excessively deferential attitude toward Schelling, had a peculiar knack for triggering Schelling’s arrogance. This letter reflects not only the nature of the relationship between Windischmann and Schelling, especially considering Schelling’s response to Windischmann’s comments about Philosophie und Religion and to the information Windischmann provides about the prince elector — see Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 14 July 1804 (letter 383n) — but also the generally acknowledged, increasingly chaotic and tense state of affairs in the Würzburg academic community, especially with regards to Schelling’s situation. Back.

[1] Schelling had sent Windischmann a copy of Philosophie und Religion (Tübingen 1804); the appendix on the external forms of religion bears the title “Ueber die äusseren Formen, unter welchen Religion existirt” (“On the external forms among which religion exists”) (pp. 73–80, though the original edition inadvertently has two different sets of pages 73–74). For Schelling’s arrogant response, see his letter to Windischmann on 14 July 1804 (letter 383n). Back.

[2] Exodus 10:21—23 (NRSV) (illustration from Christoph Weigel, Biblia Ectypa: Bildnussen auß Heiliger Schrifft dess Alt- und Neuen Testaments, in welchen Alle Geschichte und Erscheinungen deutlich und schrifftmäßig zu Gottes Ehre und Andächtiger Seelen erbaulicher beschauung vorgestellet werden [Augsburg 1695]):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were.



[3] Concerning Schelling’s efforts on the behalf of securing Jakob Fidelis Ackermann a position in Würzburg, see Schelling’s letters to Windischmann on 7 April 1804 (letter 383b) and 26 June 1804 (letter 383k). Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott