Letter 388f

388f. Schelling to Heinrich Karl Abraham Eichstädt in Jena: Würzburg, 20 December 1804 [*]

Würzburg, 20 December 1804

I hardly have the courage to repeat yet again, Esteemed Sir, what I have already stated so often, namely, that I am certainly prepared to participate most actively in your excellent journal as soon as I am able to do so. [1] But to explain my chronic inability to do so would require that I describe in detail all the tasks that have absorbed literally all my time and efforts for some time now. [2]

Hence please reckon my willingness for the deed for just a bit longer, and please be not too angry with me, since I would certainly be sufficiently angry with myself had it been within my power to be a more diligent contributor to the Literatur-Zeitung than it has in fact been. But are others equally restricted in their leisure time? I must almost believe so, since I have already found some reviews in the discipline of philosophy whose acceptance by you could be explained almost solely by the lack of better ones.

I am referring not to Reinhold’s pieces, which do have relative value and by no means deny their origin; [3] but a scribent [4] as pathetic as Professor Wagner here in Würzburg, whose boastful tone of voice is virtually all that distinguishes him from the most forlorn scribe, should by all rights have really no part in your journal. [5]

I thought I recognized Steffens a few times; [6] Troxler, too, is greatly to be recommended. [7] Should you wish to commission my brother, Dr. Karl Schelling, with reviews, he, too, could perhaps contribute some fine work. [8]

I consider myself exceptionally fortunate to have made the acquaintance of Voss during his transit here. I do hope no considerations prevent either you or him from having him publicly and ruthlessly assess the new educational plan; his justified indignation would certainly qualify him to do so. [9] Even in Munich, as here, people even of otherwise quite disparate opinions are of one mind regarding it, or rather: opposing it. Although I for my part will always regret that Voss slipped away from us, it may well have been his own guardian daemon that had the accursed educational plan appear at just this moment. His unaffected straightforwardness would hardly have allowed him to tolerate certain persons and issues for very long. News about the new educational concepts in Franconia and the procedures whereby they are being implemented may be of some interest to your Intelligenzblatt; I offer my services to you in obtaining such news.

As far as a contributor in the area of belles-lettres is concerned, I can suggest only that you send me a number of books from that area; you will then receive reviews of those books, and if they be to your liking, I will assume responsibility once and for all for securing such and can indeed even guarantee a number of contributions from the same hand. [10] . . .

Might I ask that you pass along my regards to both Goethe and Voss?


Your Esteemed Sir’s most devoted servant,


[*] Sources: Plitt 2:43–45; Fuhrmans 152–56.

This letter is of considerable interest insofar as in it, Schelling, in discussing the new Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung with its editor, introduces Caroline, albeit anonymously, as a possible contributor of literary reviews to the journal:



[1] The Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung had been appearing since 1 January 1804 as the replacement and successor to the original Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, which Christian Gottfried Schütz had taken with him to Halle when he accepted an appointment there (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


Here Halle on the Saale River in 1653 (Matthäus Merian, Halle [1653]):


The latter was thereafter referred to as the Halle (Hallesche) Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, though its title page still bore only the title Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, without “Halle.” Here the inaugural issue’s title page, which was accompanied by a site plan and the following vignette of the entrance to the botanical gardens of, appropriately, the newspaper’s new host town, Halle:



Here the title page for the inaugural issue of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, which was accompanied by an engraving of the winning entry for the 1803 competition of the Weimar art competition., namely, Martin Wagner’s piece depicting how Odysseus soothes Polyphemus:



Goethe was instrumental in establishing the new Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, with “Jenaische” constituting part of the actual title; Eichstädt was its editor-in-chief.

Concerning Goethe’s original invitation to Schelling to contribute, see his letter to Schelling on 29 November 1803 (letter 381f). Goethe was positively inclined toward Schelling’s philosophy of nature, and the journal largely reflected that bias. Goethe was also keen on securing contributions from Henrik Steffens, especially for reviews of Schelling’s work (concerning the refusal of the original Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung to publish such a review, see Wilhelm Schlegel’s letter to Goethe on 13 June 1800 [letter 262b], note 1).

Steffens’s first piece, not published until 1805, was the lengthy article — rather than a review, which had hitherto been the editorial policy — “Schellingsche Natur-Philosophie,” Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 103 (1 May 1805), 209–16, followed by a continuation in issue 137 (10 June 1805), 481–88. Goethe also refused to publish anti-Schellingian material, though Eichstädt did not entirely concur with that policy; see Erich Frank’s discussion of this issue in his introduction “Caroline, Schelling, and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.” Back.

[2] Schelling was currently involved not only with his university obligations, but also with getting his Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft off the ground; see Caroline’s letter to Anna Maria Windischmann on 2 December 1804 (letter 388a), note 2. Back.

[3] Goethe valued Karl Leonhard Reinhold’s contributions even though he was familiar with Reinhold’s disinclination toward Schelling’s philosophy. Back.

[4] From Latin scribo, “write, compose; draw; orig.: scratch, etch,” here: “scribbler, hack writer.” Back.

[5] Although Johann Jakob Wagner had published a review of Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, Anleitung zur Naturphilosophie (Jena 1804) in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1804) 246 (13 October 1804), 89–92, both Eichstädt and Goethe quickly had reservations about having him contribute more, especially after his anti-Schellingian position became clear, and also after his declaration in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1804) 147 (24 December 1804), 1239–40 concerning a review of his System der Idealphilosophie (Leipzig 1804) in the Zeitung für die elegante Welt; Wagner’s declaration began:

To the Philosophical Public

Prompted by an anonymous review of my aesthetic philosophy (the 3rd book of my system of ideal philosophy) in the November issues of the Zeitung für die elegante Welt, I herewith declare the following:

(1) I reject not merely Schelling’s warmed-over Platonism, which deigns to consider itself philosophy, I also reject speculation in general to the extent it seeks to be considered philosophy. . . .

On 12 December 1804, in a general discussion of issues relating to reviews in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Goethe remarked to Eichstädt (Weimarer Ausgabe 4:17:226):

What self-conceit and presumption must the man have who sees nothing in Schelling but self-conceit and presumption! And how nicely, by contrast, does Windischmann, in his Ideen [Ideen zur Physik, part 1 (Würzburg, Bamberg 1805)], rather than dismissing Schelling’s most recent errors, instead with profound insight set them aright and with a gentle hand adjust them. Back.

[6] Schelling was mistaken; Steffens’s first piece did not appear until (1805) 103 (1 May 1805). Back.

[7] Ignaz Paul Vitalis Troxler never contributed any reviews. Back.

[8] Karl Schelling was largely responsible (with Johann Adam Schmidt [1759–1809] as co-author) for the review of Johann Jakob Wagner’s System der Idealphilosophie in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 60 (12 March 1805), 473–80. Back.

[9] Johann Heinrich Voss was one of the most vocal opponents of the Bavarian educational plan for secondary schools; see Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letter to Schelling on 13–14 October 1804 (letter 387f), note 5 concerning his extremely critical reviews in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.

A vitriolic dispute developed involving counter-articles and accusations in various journals, including Joseph Wismayr, the author of the plan, and even Kajetan Weiller, whose anti-Schellingian introduction to philosophy, Anleitung zur freyen Ansicht der Philosophie (Munich 1804) had been stipulated as the required text in secondary schools (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, “Die Philosophen,” Illustrationen zu Erasmus’ Lob der Narrheit in sechs Abteilungen [1780]; Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki WB 3.31):


See Kuno Fischer’s discussion in the supplementary appendix on Bavarian Catholic opposition to Schelling. Back.

[10] Here Schelling introduces Caroline, albeit anonymously (though Eichstädt quickly knew who was meant), as a potential contributor of reviews in the area of belles-lettres, which she did indeed become, writing under the pseudonyms “Bss,” “MZ,” and “N + d,” sometimes in concert with Schelling (frontispiece to Restif de la Bretonne, Die Zeitgenossinnen: vom Verfasser des neuen Abeillard, vol. 1 [Berlin 1781]):


See the section on Caroline’s literary reviews, volume 2, and esp. Erich Frank’s introduction “Caroline, Schelling, and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.” Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott