Letter 393c

393c. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 6 May 1805 [*]

Würzburg, 6 May 1805

I received your letter through Herr Endres. [1]

The asseverations of friendship it contained could not but flatter me; let me nonetheless ask that you not hold it against me if I now do not respond to them quite the way you might be expecting, for just as I do not easily come to an opinion without persuasive reasons, so also do I not abandon that opinion without such. Hence please judge according to the steadfastness I herewith demonstrate, steadfastness of which I am indeed capable within a trusting and well-founded friendship.

Above all else, I value the purity of relationships, and with you I believe I can best attain such purity in a completely objective relationship when I have received more solid demonstrations of your serious, rather then merely momentarily surging, friendship, of the sort that is appropriate between men.

I do not view your anticipated self-reproach as such, which can serve no purpose. [2] You can demonstrate your respect to me not through compliments, but through a just assessment of my work and refutation of my errors rather than through passing shots or bookseller-announcements and self-reviews, a device you would be better advised to leave to others.

Anyone who was ever capable of giving credence to whisperings of Paulus and his consorts against me, or to attempt such lame attacks of the sort found in your recent announcement of the second volume of your Physik, [3] which in part genuinely echoes more hoarse voices from here — which I would not expect to resonate as far as Aschaffenburg — is not safe from subsequent recidivism either, and to that extent please do allow me for my own part to maintain the pure, just relationship of impartial assessment toward you I believe I have hitherto observed. . . .

We send our kind regards to your dear wife and wish you all the best.



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:56–57; Fuhrmans 3:213. Dating: Plitt corrects the date to 6 March in an editorial footnote, albeit without reasons; Fuhrmans retains the date of 6 May with no comment on Plitt’s footnote. Back.

[1] Windischmann’s letter to Schelling on 1 May 1805 (Fuhrmans 3:210–11), a self-effacing peace offering on Windischmann’s part after the previous tension. See the series of exchanges in the following letters:

  • Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 7 December 1804 (letter 388b);
  • Windischmann’s letter to Schelling on 12 December 1804 (letter 388d);
  • Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 26 February 1805 (letter 390b); and
  • Windischmann’s letter to Schelling on 2 March 1805 (letter 390c).

In his letter to Windischmann on 24 October 1804 (letter 387g), before this testy exchange started, Schelling had queried whether Windischmann might intervene on his behalf with the administration in Aschaffenburg, indeed with the prince elector himself, to determine whether Schelling might receive not a position, but rather “merely perhaps . . . an honorary position and a peaceful set of circumstances under which to live.”

That is, the Schellings had clearly already had enough of Würzburg and lacked confidence in any future there for Schelling. Back.

[2] In his letter of 1 May 1805, Windischmann had written: “Through a dignified self-reproach in the preface to volume 2 [of his Ideen zur Physik, which never appeared], . . . I intend to rid my soul of the hurtful accusation of having affronted you.” Back.

[3] Windischmann had published an announcement of volume 2 of his Ideen zur Physik (vol. 1: Würzburg, Bamberg 1805) in both the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung (1805) 43 (9 April 1805) and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 37 (3 April 1805), 310–12 (here 311), remarking that he would be presenting a development of ideas concerning the physics of the earth and of living beings, whereby “several errors attaching to the Schellingian doctrine, e.g., of the nervous system as symbol of magnetism within the structure of the organism etc., will have to be addressed.” Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott