Letter 383m

383m. Schelling to Hegel in Jena: Würzburg, 14 July 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 14 July 1804

The enclosed piece, my dear friend, will acquaint you with a plan with respect to whose execution I would very much like to secure your philosophical support. Here and there it will present a scientific piece relating to the doctrine of nature or medicine concerning which you might want to publish an opinion. Any treatises or essays of your own, or even detached thoughts and ideas from your hand, would certainly be no less welcome. I can offer a handsome honorarium and assure you that the execution of this enterprise will be of not inconsiderable use given present circumstances. Hence please do permit me in any event to count you among the number of participating friends. [1]

I am delighted that Niethammer has now also received an appointment here. Give him my regards and attest these sentiments to him in my name. — At the beginning, Paulus did not want to do anything to this end, and would have worked against it in every way possible, so I myself could have accomplished nothing in the matter. Now, however, he himself brought it up and proposed Niethammer’s appointment. — If the Niethammers do perhaps decide to come here, let me offer to take care of any and all services and requests beforehand for them. [2]

About 4 weeks ago, Sinclair surprised me; my impression was that with his hasty collection of nothing more recent than Fichtean ideas he had otherwise more or less surrendered himself over to philosophical flaccidity. He was on his way to Swabia to pick up Hölderlin, with whom he then did indeed return here. The latter is in a better condition than last year, but still noticeably disturbed. His translation of Sophocles perfectly expresses his degenerated mental condition. He told me he had become librarian for the Landgrave of Homburg, whither he then went with Sinclair. [3]

Stay well, and respond soon to your friend,



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:23–24; Fuhrmans 3:94–96 (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Fuhrmans 3:94–95, remarks that after Schelling had left Jena and allowed his previous periodicals to expire (the Neue Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik and the Kritisches Journal der Philosophie, the latter co-edited with Hegel), his new plan, initiated during the summer of 1804, was the Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft (“Annuals of medicine as a science”), to be edited by Schelling and Adalbert Friedrich Marcus and published by Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen. Schelling included the official announcement of the periodical in the letter to Hegel, and had already invited various friends and other acquaintances to contribute.

The periodical was, however, plagued by problems that delayed its publication, and a second announcement was issued in January 1805, though even then publication was delayed till October 1805. After five sporadically published issues, the final issue appeared in October 1808. Hegel, doubtless preoccupied with his own work, not only did not contribute anything to the journal, he did not even answer this request until 3 January 1807. The gradual philosophical estrangement between the two had essentially commenced. Back.

[2] When Schleiermacher did not accept an appointment in theology at Würzburg, Niethammer, who after Paulus’s appointment there expected to receive his chair in theology in Jena but did not, accepted an appointment to Würzburg and arrived in the autumn of 1804 (see Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 19 June 1804 [letter 383j], esp. note 5).

Hegel was already acquainted with Niethammer from Tübingen and quickly formed a friendship with him after arriving in Jena himself in 1801, whereas Schelling maintained more distance, presumably because of the latter’s friendship with Paulus. Although Hegel did not respond to Schelling’s letter here until January 1807 (see above), he did correspond with Niethammer over the next few years. See Niethammer’s letter to Hegel on 19 December 1804 (letter 388e) concerning Niethammer’s relationship with Schelling in Würzburg and Schelling’s situation there at the end of 1804 (see also Fuhrmans 3:95fn3).

Despite Schelling’s assurances here, the anticipated friendship did not materialize in Würzburg, and Caroline’s ebullient account in her letter to Beate Schelling on 2 September 1804 (letter 387), according to which the Niethammers were already in Würzburg and indeed the families had already visited, conflicts with Niethammer’s own account to Hegel on 19 December 1804. Back.

[3] Concerning Schelling’s most recent meeting with Hölderlin in Murrhardt during the summer of 1803 and Hölderlin’s subsequent movements,, see Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 11 July 1803 (letter 380a) and esp. supplementary appendix 380a.2.

Homburg von der Höhe is located just north of Frankfurt and east of Königstein and Kronberg (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 18):


Hölderlin remained in Homburg vor der Höhe until the autumn of 1806, when his mental deterioration prompted his remove to Tübingen. The translation to which Schelling is referring is Die Trauerspiele des Sophokles, 2 vols. (Frankfurt 1804), whose peculiarities some scholars judge more positively.


During 1803, moreover, Hölderlin was yet hoping that Schelling might assist him in getting his translation of Antigone performed in the Weimar theater (something they had likely discussed in Murrhardt), writing several letters to that effect to his publisher in Frankfurt (see Fuhrmans 3:96fn4). Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott