Letter 388a

• 388a. Caroline to Anna Maria Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 2 December 1804

Würzburg, 2 December [18]04

|396| The day before yesterday, my dearest Madam Windischmann, I took a coffee machine to the post office for you and today am sending this modest letter along as well — I think they will probably arrive at the same time.

Although we received your parcel with enormous gratitude, we are truly saddened to hear that Windischmann’s eyes are still causing him such suffering. Of course, one must take just as good care of one’s eyes as one does of the apple of one’s eye, and Schelling certainly does not want to prompt him to do anything to aggravate them. But could you yourself not be your husband’s eyes and hand on this occasion and have him dictate to you? You see, you have gained nothing by making the matter so urgent, and now we are urging you, or rather are virtually importuning you, to take up the matter similarly.

Schelling sincerely begs your pardon for not answering yet; [1] he is suffering terribly from a lack of time, and today the definitive announcement of the Jahrbücher is going out. [2] |397| —

As for the books Windischmann sent, I will see to it that he receives them back at the stipulated time. [3] He can keep both parts of Jean Paul but should also acquire the third for himself, which is much better than the first two. [4] That is the one we really did like. In addition to the genuine sincerity of disposition emerging from its pages, there are also a great many remarks, comparisons, and juxtapositions whose expression is as stirringly witty as it is truly beautiful. He has discovered expressions for certain insights that in their own turn then create new insights.

You still remember how the coffee machine works, do you not ? . . . May the aroma of its caffée pleasantly greet you and similarly agree with you. This invention is not, however, particularly conducive to being thrifty. [5]

Farewell for today; I am just now prevented from writing more.



[1] Windischmann was waiting for Schelling’s opinion of his book, Ideen zur Physik, part 1 (Würzburg, Bamberg 1805); Schelling’s harsh assessment came in Schelling’s letter to him on 7 December 1804 (letter 388b). Back.

[2] Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft. Verfasst von einer Gesellschaft von Gelehrten, edited by F. W. J. Schelling and Adalbert Friedrich Marcus (Tübingen 1806/08).

The project faltered during the fall and early winter 1804/05, and the “definitive [second] announcement” to which Caroline is here alluding appeared on 20 January 1805 in several different newspapers. Although the first issue was planned for January 1805, it did not appear until September 1805. The journal then appeared in six issues between October 1805 and October 1808 before being canceled.

Schelling had sent out the first announcement for this journal back in July 1804; see Fuhrmans 1:312–14 for its original text, also Schelling’s cover letter to Hegel of 14 July 1804 (letter 383m) inviting the latter to participate, which Hegel did not answer until 3 January 1807. Back.

[3] In his letter to Windischmann on 24 October 1804 (letter 387g), Schelling had requested “the volumes of the Munich Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung from 1803 and 1804″ as part of his preparation for responding to critics. Back.

[4] Jean Paul’s Vorschule der Ästhetik, 3 vols. (Hamburg 1804). See Fritz Martini, Deutsche Literaturgeschichte von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, 15th ed. (Stuttgart 1968), 302:

In his Vorschule der Ästhetik (1804), Jean Paul presented not only a justification of his own style and humor, but also a textbook for the psychology of the beautiful and of art; despite its wholly different understanding of art , this treatise quite holds its own alongside the aesthetic writings of the Weimar Classic and provides a grounding for the experiential levels of humor and mood as well as for the narrative forms of the novel that the Weimar writers had excluded. Back.

[5] The American-British scientist Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson) (1753–1814) invented an improved drip/press coffee pot, known as the Rumford percolator, with metal sieves and an insulating water jacket. He describes and provides several illustrations of this percolator and other coffee pots in his essay “Of the Excellent Qualities of Coffee and the Art of Making it in the Highest Perfection,” published in London in 1812 and reprinted in The Complete Works of Count Rumford, vol. 4 (Boston 1875), 617–60. See supplementary appendix 388a.1. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott