Letter 395d

395d. Carl Joseph Windischmann to Schelling in Würzburg: Aschaffenburg, 25 August 1805 [*]

Aschaffenburg, 25 August 1805

. . . Friend Röschlaub, whose visit greatly pleased us (for which we have so long waited from you yourself), has probably already passed along out greetings to you. [1] I am particularly pleased that the small differences of opinion previously obtaining between us could be so easily eliminated. He has remained the same fundamentally good soul I knew in Würzburg. [2] . . .

I am obliged to you for the news about the review in the Leipziger Literaturzeitung. [3] You are the first to say anything about it to me, since we do not have that particular journal here in our reading circle. I would very much like for you to have the journal sent to me by return mail, since only with considerable difficulty, or very slowly, will I receive it any other way.

From your remarks it seems that the cordial author is either Berg or the famulus from Goethe’s Faust. [4] Against this creature I will spare none of the frankness in which I daily grow stronger and for whose unshakable steadfastness I pray; I will make an example of him for the world, since such falsity in citing certainly provides a legally legitimate enough reason. [5]

You have in the meantime probably already read my review of Weiller; [6] we will see how this smoothly self-conceited cleric will now comport himself. Surely he will take things at least as far as did Berg, who ultimately managed to bring his own postulates before the Weimar government, where he was, in God’s name, also denied. Perhaps the reviewer of my modest person can serve as a lightning rod. It is a good thing the iron rod is not touching me and that the lightning itself is unlikely to singe me either politically or literarily. [7]


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:234. Back.

[1] Röschlaub was returning to Landshut from Frankfurt and had stopped off in both Aschaffenburg and Würzburg, albeit without visiting the Schellings in the latter; see his letter to Schelling on 24 August 1805 (letter 395c) (Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795])



[2] Windischmann was apparently unaware of the deterioration of Schelling’s relationship with Andreas Röschlaub. As noted above, Röschlaub had passed through Würzburg on his return trip from Frankfurt to Landshut without visiting Schelling. Back.

[3] I.e., news concerning a review of Windischmann’s book Ideen zur Physik; concerning that review, see Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 23 August 1805 (letter 395b), to which Windischmann is here responding. Back.

[4] Franz Berg (as Schelling suspected), or Johann Jakob Wagner. Faust’s famulus or assistant in Goethe’s play is named Wagner, here on the right at the beginning of the play (Goethe’s Works, ed. George Barrie, vol. 2 [Philadelphia 1885], 25):



[5] In his letter to Windischmann noted above, Schelling points out that the reviewer, presumably intentionally, misquotes from Windischmann’s book. Windischmann published a lengthy, vehement response to the review in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1805) 112 (5 October 1805), 937–42, remarking in his opening paragraph that “the inspiration of the devil, who made a game of it for himself with the poor sinner, is so unmistakable that very few strokes indeed are needed to illustrate the transparency of this ill jest.” He continues later in the response (for part of the passage to which he here responds, see Schelling’s letter to him on 23 August 1805 [letter 395b], note 1):

Such distortions and misrepresentations and false attestations, expressed moreover with equal portions of palpable stupidity and malice, hardly warrant serious, thorough literary corrective; they need instead simply to be shown the legitimate path, and at the right time and place I will call the author of this failed pasquinade to account — whom I know well — and drive the devil out of him that the pathetic jester may stand there alone and, sensing his entire depravity, may be at least rendered innocuous for the well-being of society. The way he is going about things now, others, too, may well yet be denigrated and bespattered with dung.

Indeed, I would not have said a single word concerning such knavish villainy of the sort that is daily becoming increasingly more crude if the disgracefulness of the reviewer had not ultimately transitioned into shameful perfidy and the self-conceited clerical scheming and machinations aimed not only at denigrating my external reputation, but also at casting a hateful light on my inner disposition and morality, and to do so supported again by that particular art of misrepresentation and lies. . . .

After this sampling of diabolical malice, I cannot but wonder how this vile person can still talk about the religion of Christ. His own review is the most potent witness of how precisely this reflective, quiet, sacred religion has absolutely nothing to do with him. . . .

I for my part am certainly willing to suffer the same fate as Schelling and other friends of truth and of a loftier life and a traditional, straightforward disposition. . . . Shy not away from this battle, you who are better! Though millions stand against you, your own numbers are not small. This gang of ignoramuses and villains who oppose the revivification of a higher sensibility must be annihilated, albeit not in their temporal existence — let them keep their inferior life in that sense; but they must be rendered incapable of thwarting any longer the progress toward that which is better. Victory is inevitable if you but continue calmly and seriously along your chosen path, cultivating all more noble sprouts with divine love, and tearing out all pernicious outgrowths by their roots. Back.

[6] Windischmann reviewed Kajetan Weiller, Anleitung zur freyen Ansicht der Philosophie (Munich 1804) in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitungg (1805) 187 (7 August 1805), 257–64; 188 (8 August 1805), 265–72; Windischmann remarks toward the end of the review:

And such a book, containing a great deal yet offering not a trace of true scholarship and art, has been chosen as the text for all the philosophical lycées in Bavaria! [see Kuno Fischer’s discussion of Catholic opposition to Schelling in Bavaria] —

One cannot hold it against governments for not participating directly themselves in fostering the progress of philosophy and its attendant disciplines; they quite reasonably instead leave such to those more directly concerned with promoting scholarly disciplines and cultivating the rigor and soundness of young minds. Unfortunately, however, the shallowest persons do not infrequently push themselves onto even the most noble government by virtue of an external patina, thereby also deceiving trust through wicked means.

For it not just that, like the sophists in Greece, they confuse young souls through pro and contra — they also rob them of all stability though fateful rapturous enthusiasm that impresses through ridiculous leaps from word to word, while in truth devouring and drying out the soul. What is to become of such a generation that has been subjected to such instruction? Back.

[7] Doubtless part of Schelling’s discomfiture with the review was that, as mentioned in his letter to Windischmann on 23 August 1805 (letter 395b), note 3, such reviews were also intended to harm him politically in Bavaria. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott