Letter 393h

393h. Kajetan Weiller to the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung in Jena, “Who is the slanderer, who the pasquinader, etc.?”: Munich, 30 August 1805 [*]


Who is the slanderer, who the pasquinader, etc.?

Response to the sally against me by Herr Schelling in the Allgemeine Justiz- und Policeyfama` (1805) 78 (and now also in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung [1805] 92).

I still have no other response to the outbreak of despair with which Herr Schelling cannot cease exposing himself with regard to me than that which I submitted to the editors of the PoliceyFama on 20 July but which I have not yet found to have been published. That response reads as follows:

Herr Schelling, as is well known, is excessively inclined to make use of the antiquated trick of responding to objections to his doctrines with smears against the persons from whom such objections come. For a while, especially in the eyes of the inexperienced, even an inferior cause can indeed be maintained in this way. Eventually, however, such sleights of hand fall flat, and the shame following such brief deception is then merely all the greater.

Herr Schelling was utterly unsuccessful with the aforementioned secret arts in the PoliceyFama no. 78. The passage from my response to Herr Voss on which he grounds his attacks on my honor has absolutely no reference to him, and indeed, a precise and objective consideration of all the characteristics of the hierophant sketched there, along with a comparison with certain events in other areas (besides Würzburg), reveals that it cannot have any reference to him in any case. [1] But since he has reacted without further ado to a mere notion utterly without foundation by disseminating the most abominable calumnies against me before the entire German public, let precisely this public itself decide who is — the contemptible slanderer, the disgraceful pasquinader, etc.

The right to criminal prosecution that Herr Schelling allegedly arrogates for himself seems to be something to which I am sooner entitled now. But who can possibly be interested in criminally prosecuting every schoolboy’s prank?! In such cases, contempt is more appropriate than criminal prosecution.

I hardly need point out that this pereat [2] that Herr Schelling has presented to me (after an extremely fitting expression used by our venerable Jacobi in a similar case) will hardly prevent me from opposing his doctrines and teachings in the future just as I have done in the past.

This will, however, likely be my last public statement to him regarding personal defamation. If he wishes to speak to me in the presence of my authorities, I am certainly always prepared for such.

Concerning the sentence of condemnation over me — not a word, since everyone has long known that apart from Herr Schelling and a few others of the elect, all the others of us are — but dead dogs. [3]

It is quite understandable that the editor of the PoliceyFama expresses himself in this matter even more categorically than does Herr Schelling himself, who to a certain extent seeks to defame me only provisionally — since my feud against Schelling’s teachings concerns him not at all, nor does he understand anything concerning it. Such people are always more forward and overloud. [4]

Munich, 30 August 1805


[*] Source: Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 112 (5 October 1805), 943–44.

Response to Schelling’s “Notice” to the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung on 9, 27 June 1805 (letter/document 393g), which was published in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 92 (19 August 1805), 777–80, and, earlier, in the Allgemeine deutsche Justiz- und PoliceiFama 1 (1805) 70 (17 June 1805), 567 (part A) and 78 (8 July 1805), 631–5 (part B). Weiller’s response is included here out of chronological order for the sake of easier reference for the reader and because of the somewhat odd dating of Schelling’s missive.

Concerning the disparate dates of Schelling’s piece: The difference between the date of Schelling’s notice and its publication dates derives from the two missives (A and B) having been written on 9 and 27 June 1805 and then first published in the Allgemeine deutsche Justiz- und PoliceiFama on 17 June and 8 July 1805. Because both were rejected by the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung, however, Schelling published them together considerably later in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 19 August 1805.

For the purposes of this present edition, Weiller’s response here suffices along with his and Schelling’s preceding exchanges to demonstrate the tedious — and ad hominem — nature of Schelling’s feuds since coming to Würzburg, feuds of which, as has been seen, the Bavarian administration had also taken disapproving note.

These feuds and Schelling’s combative behavior are of interest insofar as, as Caroline’s husband, his professional fortunes necessarily involved her as well, and as already intimated and as becomes trenchantly clear in coming correspondence and documents, geopolitical developments eventually, and significantly, prompt Schelling to leave not only his teaching position in Würzburg but the teaching profession in the larger sense.

Having cast his lot with Bavaria in 1803, Schelling soon finds himself at the professional mercy of precisely those Bavarian administrators whom his feuding nature has so irritated. As fate would have it, he and Caroline end up in Munich itself, the locus of these present adversaries and a town, moreover, with as yet no university and therefore no traditional teaching position for Schelling. Back.

[1] See Schelling’s letter to Heinrich Karl Abraham Eichstädt on 20 December 1804 (letter 388f), note 9; concerning Weiller’s response to Voss, see Schelling’s “Notice” mentioned above (letter 393g), note 3. Back.

[2] Latin, “may . . . perish; down with!” Back.

[3] See Schelling’s remarks in his “Benehmen des Obscurantismus gegen die Naturphilosophie,” Neue Zeitschrift für spekulative Physik 1 (1802), 161–88, here 176 (“The Comportment of Obscurantism contra the Philosophy of Nature”), in which he remarks that though his adversaries are doubtless

the crudest people, they nonetheless believe themselves to possess both taste and judgment, and notwithstanding the only activity now remaining for them is that of gossip, they nonetheless consider themselves to constitute good society and the educated public. If one tells them that they have long ceased living in the contemporary world, they believe such a statement cannot really be meant seriously. If one assures them that they are in all seriousness to be reckoned as rabble, they find it absolutely incomprehensible. If, finally, one swears to them that they are viewed as nothing more than dead dogs, they, again, are utterly unable to comprehend this as a true statement, but rather only as barbaric behavior.

Therese Huber mentions these remarks in a letter to her daughter Therese Forster between 17 and 25 July 1803 (letter 380b). Back.

[4] Weiller is referring to the note from the editor, Theodor Konrad Hartleben (the periodical was published in Würzburg), following Schelling’s rejoinder to Weiller in the Allgemeine deutsche Justiz- und PoliceiFama 78 (8 July 1805), here 635:

Readers familiar with the scope of the Police for the Security of Reputation and who are capable of viewing this issue from the proper perspective, will not be put off by the declarations by Professor Schelling, whose acknowledged profound conceptual power and comprehensive erudition can hardly be damaged by the elements raging against him, nor by the responses of his adversaries published in these pages.

This quarrel is obviously no longer of a merely literary nature. The adduced excerpts [i.e., the excerpts Schelling adduces in letter/document 393g from Weiller’s discussion of Voss] show that Schelling has been affronted as a person and as a civil servant, and that he must make a public declaration against such treatment in a journal devoted to law and order.

Although a certain person in the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung is trying to make clear to the less intellectually adept part of the public that all the scolding and degradation of Professor Schelling is intended solely as a reproach of him in his literary identity, one need not possess any particular legal acumen to see that quite the opposite is in fact the case.

The Editor. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott