Letter 393g

393g. Schelling to the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung in Munich: Würzburg, 9, 27 June 1805 [*]


The following documents are being published here as well for that part of the public elsewhere that has taken an interest in the disputes directed against me, disputes of a more personal and political than scholarly nature, and carried on by various erstwhile Enlighteners in Bavaria whom the progress of the age — equally fair in both hastening and lingering — has already reduced to the status and crudest sleights-of-hands of erstwhile obscurantists.


To the Editors of the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung,
with respect to an insert in no. 67 of their journal
(submitted to said editors)

I request that the editors of the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung in Munich accept this present missive in order to inform Professor Salat in Munich that although one might well have business with him before a civil court, one in no way has such business with him before any scholarly court for the appointment of whose judges he himself is already making arrangements.

As long as he denies being the author of the letters concerning Würzburg that the shameless Herr Böttiger has published in the journal that still bears Wieland’s name, [1] as long as he denies being the author of the most recent pasquinade, which, though I myself have not yet seen it, is being universally mentioned only with disgust, including in these same pages, to wit, as long as he denies being the author of these pieces and, moreover, is able to deflect having made any and all contribution to same as openly as he has been challenged with doing precisely that if indeed he be able —: just as surely does he become subject to that first court, and just as long must one hope that this prattler who constantly snuffles at everything and slanders everyone and knows everything better, will — notwithstanding his, as he believes, extremely refined deflections — nonetheless this time not escape the legal punishment that he has long merited in public opinion.

In a literary context, Herr Salat may well write whatever he can about or against me. My own acquaintance with his scholarly merits is limited to the material with which he has occasionally provided entertainment in these pages, and though this may not constitute knowing something about the lion on the basis of its claws, it does indeed constitute knowing everything about the salad on the basis of its leaf. [2]

I have, by the way, neither read nor even seen his other products, which he himself so often adduces, nor, surely, would anyone ever have anything to say to him about them, nor indeed about anything of a literary nature that might emerge from him, and that for reasons that he himself can doubtless surmise.

Würzburg, 9 June 1805


What I have stated here concerning Herr Salat I am now forced to extend to include Herr Kajetan Weiller, similarly of Munich. Let me say that I by no means view Herr Kajetan Weiller as a Jesuit, since the latter, despite their despicable pedagogical and other principles, did endeavor and in part undeniably succeed in training and educating true scholars in mathematics, physics, astronomy, and historiography. Nor do I believe his intention is to guide youth back into barbarism. [3]

Insofar, however, as the free views of Herr Weiller allow him every sort of base distortion and false logic in opposing my own views, and insofar as he never ceases to plunder precisely those views even in parody; insofar as, further, he has argued against the doctrine of the absolute at best about as tangibly as does a conceited peasant against the doctrine of God’s omnipresence (his imagination’s preferred image to that end, drawn from the entirety of nature, being that of turtles, which his book, intended for young people, frequently employs alongside those of various other vermin); insofar as he has never and in no instance exhibited even a shred of originality, while by contrast simultaneously presenting, in an infinite, bubbling cauldron of verbiage, a considerable lack of judgment and of true scholarly learning and education; and insofar, finally, as he suffers from such a complete lack of even the most basic concepts of literary dispute that he has found it necessary to summon the government for help —:

Insofar as all these things obtain, it would, obviously, be just as useless for the public, which has its own opinion, as for Herr Weiller himself, who presumably will never arrive at a genuine opinion, to respond to him in any way from a literary perspective. After all, now he even has to ask Herr Voss to prove to him the nonsense in the proposition that “nothingness is illuminated by the absolute after the fashion, e.g., of a wall”!

It seems that in former circumstances Herr Weiller was able to attain a certain sort of local importance by virtue of which he now considers himself justified in playing the Faithful Guardian of Bavaria, and, while his own crude talents obviously run aground on the more refined and sophisticated business of philosophy, in interpreting the dimming of his luster as a complete toppling of very the institution of the state itself.

Now, however, the spirit of an inexorably progressive government is inaugurating with ever more radiant beauty the grand day of science and scholarship and education; and though the rotten wood that yet managed to emit a dull glow even in darkness may very well continue its struggle against being extinguished once and for all, the sun will nonetheless rise.

The following examples can demonstrate what makes it utterly impossible for any upright man to have any literary contact with Herr Weiller.

In a declaration in the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung (1805) 62, he makes me the magnanimous offer of citing all the anonymous articles he has published in said newspaper, then adding that “for elsewhere I have published under the disguise of anonymity — nothing new against him.” Until such becomes known in some other fashion, those versed in these arts may easily enough guess just which ambiguous Jesuit reservatio mentalis lies concealed behind such a statement. [4]

In the same place, he declares that he always tries to distinguish between the error and the person, and yet the alleged refutation of Voss, which appeared shortly before, nonetheless contains (along with an assurance of his incapacity to speak any untruth) the following invectives directed — obvious to anyone familiar with the style and disposition of Herr Weiller — against me, to wit:

“That through the intoxication caused by use of the principles of the most recent philosophy students become contemptuous of all more noble wisdom”;

“that with unbridled contempt and in a state of ecstasy that, like that of Pythia, even brings the body to the point of convulsions, the hierophant of these principles passes judgment on things and, even more preferably, on persons”;

“and presents all other literary sources [Herr Weiller is presumably referring to the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung and journals of similar content, for with which other sources might he otherwise even be acquainted!?] as useless, despicable swamps [Herr Weiller is thus presumably acquainted with swamps that are useful and honorable], or does not adduce them at all”;

“that he [the hierophant] speaks in an ambiguous tone about any and all ennobling, particularly of the moral sort”;

“one hears that he shakes and jars every institution, even the new, better one”;

“that these efforts do not want for success”;

“that the initiates assault with insolent brazenness every rule of propriety, beauty, justice, and, after the fashion of all slaves, now understand nothing but mutiny and sacrilege” etc. (Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung [1805] 48).

Since he concludes these disgraceful insinuations — which as regards stupidity and malice simultaneously surpass anything the conceited clerisy and disgraceful political or religious presumption has leveled against capable men recently — with the assurance that he “only wanted to sketch these phenomena with a few broad strokes, though if necessary” [presumably should his denunciations genuinely be heard] he would “certainly be able to paint a more detailed picture of them and produce documents proving their authenticity,” he is herewith, for the time being by way of precisely this present declaration, summoned to produce precisely such proof, albeit legal proofs, considering that in the case of such criminal accusations a mere “one hears tell” counts for nothing, and that assassinations of this sort can reasonably anticipate being prosecuted themselves.

As long as he either does not produce this evidence or does not roundly and clearly asseverate that the aforementioned accusations refer to me in no wise and not at all (his own credibility is not an issue here), I in the meanwhile hereby declare him publicly to be a contemptible slanderer and disgraceful pasquinader.

This demand is thus the occasion for the first and last declaration concerning this Herr Weiller; for I am of the opinion and firmly resolved to expose to the last detail the impotence that feels itself constrained to stoop to calumny and personal defamation, and to carry through in every respect, more for the common good than my own, the satisfaction assured me by the government.

Würzburg, 27 June 1805



[*] Sources: Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 92 (19 August 1805), 777–80; also published in the Allgemeine Justiz- und Policeyfama 1 (1805) 70 (17 June 1805), 567 (=A: contra Jakob Salat); 78, (8 July 1805), 631–35 (=B: contra Kajetan Weiller); abridged in Fuhrmans 1:328–32.

Response to Kajetan Weiller, “To Herr Schelling” (dated 20 May 1805), Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung18 (1805) 62 (23 May 1805) (letter/document 393d), and Jakob Salat (dated 4 June 1805), “Concerning Herr Professor Schelling,” Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung18 (1805) 67 (4 June 1805) (letter/document 393f), which in their own turn were responses to Schelling’s “To the Public” on 6 May 1805 (letter/document 393b). Because the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung, however, had declined to publish these two open letters back when Schelling composed them (9, 27 June 1805), he published them together on 19 August 1805 in this single issue (no. 92) of the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.

Schelling is writing from Würzburg, his opponents from Munich (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):



[1] Der Neue Teutsche Merkur (1790–1810). Back.

[2] A play on words: Germ. Salat, “salad”; Germ. Blatt, “leaf; page.” Back.

[3] Here and below the reference is to Kajetan Weiller, “An Herrn Johann Heinrich Voss,” Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung (1805) 47 (18 April 1805), 749–50; 48 (20 April 1805), 765–68, the first paragraph of which reads:

In the striking assessment (in nos. 77, 78, 79 of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung) in which J. H. Voss declares the Prince Electoral educational plan to constitute an assassination of the most sacred cause of humankind (i.e., of the progressive education of same), I, too, am taken to task in a fashion with respect to which I cannot remain silent without raising the suspicion among at least some persons, in the first place, of having been a willing participant, as Herr Voss believes, in engaging this educational plan for the obvious purpose of casting humankind in our regions here back into an earlier state of barbarism. Back.

[4] Latin, “mental reservation.” Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott