Letter 395f

395f. Carl Joseph Windischmann to Schelling in Würzburg: Aschaffenburg, 29 August 1805 [*]

Aschaffenburg, 29 August 1805

. . . I found the news about Röschlaub absolutely incomprehensible; I would never have suspected him of being inclined to paroxysms of this sort. Here . . . everything was fine and cordial; although he did express a bit of annoyance at the Jahrbücher, objecting to this and that, on the whole he comported himself very much as your friend. He is, admittedly, quite impressionable, and perhaps one cannot count on him.

In the meantime, I myself remain on good terms with him personally and am disinclined ever to have to reveal to him my straightforward opinion of his literary status. That would be the end of the peace. And yet he is misfortunate enough to deceive himself more with respect to that particular quantity than to the better qualities in his personality. For that reason, however, I do not really consider him to be the touchstone of truth in medicine; just as you yourself view the matter, however, I do consider him a person with respect to whom the strength of the cause might well be developed just now. [1] . . .

As for the wretched review, I am indeed firmly resolved to use the reviewer only as a representative in whom I can say some serious things to the entire accursed bunch and tear off their sneering masks. [2] I will be writing to Göbhardt today. [3]

Warm regards to you and your dear wife. . . .

Ever your friend,

Have you also heard the voice in the most recent issue of Der Freimüthige concerning the alleged conspiracy of your and others’ reviews? [4] . . .


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:239–40.

This letter is Windischmann’s response to Schelling’s letter to him on 27 August 1805 (letter 395e); see that letter concerning the “news about Röschlaub,” Röschlaub’s visit to Aschaffenburg and the Windischmanns, Röschlaub’s view of Schelling’s Jahrbücher der Medicin, and concerning Schelling’s remark about Röschlaub being “a person with respect to whom the strength of the cause might well be developed.” Schelling responds on 5 September 1805 (letter 396a). Back.

[1] Schelling did indeed break with Röschlaub; see the latter’s letter to Schelling on 24 August 1805 (letter 395c), and Schelling’s final response n late September 1805 (letter 397b). Back.

[2] I.e., the review of Windischmann’s Ideen zur Physik in the Neue Leipziger Literaturzeitung; see Schelling’s letter to Windischmann on 23 August 1805 (letter 395b), note 1, and Windischmann’s letter to Schelling on 25 August 1805 (letter 395d), note 5. Back.

[3] In his letter to Windischmann on 27 August 1805 (letter 395e), Schelling had recommended that Windischmann have his own publisher, Göbhardt in Bamberg, send him a copy of the Neue Leipziger Literaturzeitung with the review. Back.

[4] Fuhrmans, 3:240–41n2, suggests that the reference is to the anonymous article “Aus Bamberg,” Der Freimüthige oder Ernst und Scherz (1805) 167 (Thursday, 22 August 1805), 152, with its reference to Konrad Joseph Kilian’s account of the scandal involving Adalbert Friedrich Marcus and to an otherwise obscure accompanying scandal:

From Bamberg. Have you read Kilian’s little piece Meine Zurückberufung nach Franken [und Wiederaufnahme daselbst durch Direktor Marcus im Bamberg (Munich 1805)] . . . ? If you have not done so, do so immediately; it deserves attention insofar as it shows our Herr — Markus in his true form. One also learns that a certain falsum [Latin, “forgery, false account”] is similarly to be extended to include Messieurs Walther and Gotthardt, but that the editors of the Frankfurt and Augsburg newspapers did not want to publish the essay.

It is probably not possible to take the — — — any further than is here proven by evidence on file. The sentence of the local court on p. 139 according to which Herr Marcus — Herr Schelling’s bosom buddy, as everyone knows — is declared per majora ad falsarium [Latin, “by the majority to be guilty of forgery”] and incompetent with respect to and hence deprived of all fidei publicae [Latin, “public credibility] as well as all attestation, is extremely noteworthy.

What Herr Kilian alleges concerning a certain respected statesman [Count von Thürheim?] has not been proven, and is sooner improbable, so why was it printed? Is it all that extraordinary that a state official must consult his superior twice? And can a provincial head promise anything more than salva ratificatione [Latin, “reserving the approval or ratification”] of the highest administrative body? And if he should determine that it is best not to authorize this ratification, is that his fault? —

That this entire process can ultimately be analyzed solely through access to all the files, that one would also like to learn a bit more about Herr Kilian’s personal comportment, well, while reading this modest work one is invariably and rather forcefully prompted to raise of these and other questions. Word has it that Herr Kilian has received permission to spend his pension of 600 florins elsewhere and is presently living in Leipzig, where he allegedly also formerly practiced with some success.

Concerning the background to this dispute between Kilian and Marcus, see the supplementary appendix on “News from Würzburg,” esp. with note 4; also Adalbert Friedrich Marcus’s letters to Schelling on 15 June 1804 (letter 383i), 13–14 October 1804 (letter 387f), and 4 November 1804 (letter 387j).

The reference (“concerning the alleged conspiracy of your and others’ reviews”), however, is to the anonymous article “Literarische Kunstgriffe,” Der Freimüthige oder Ernst und Scherz (1805) 167 (Thursday, 22 August 1805), 144 (illustration: anonymous, John Bull shewing the Corsican Monkey!, watercolour after Isaac Cruikshank [ca. 1803]):

Literary Sleights of Hand

On 1 May, the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung published an essay on Schelling’s philosophy of nature proclaiming that Herr Schelling was a new philosophical Messiah, and Kant ultimately compared with — a worm. On 6 May, the Intelligenzblatt of the same newspaper published Herr Schelling’s amusing manifest [letter/document 393b]. On almost the same date, articles appeared in the Bamberg and Augsburg newspapers in which Herr Schelling was called a “philosopher par excellence,” and compared (quite sincerely and honestly) with a siren who was enticing everyone into its auditorium.

Shortly thereafter, the Intelligenzblatt of the respected Leipziger Literatur-Zeitung contained a notice by Herr Schelling himself in which he responded to several alleged queries by referring to the aforementioned comical manifest. At the same time, the Salzburger medicinische Zeitung published a lengthy article on the advantages of healing based on the philosophy of nature as practiced in the Bamberg General Hospital.

And finally, a few days later under the rubric “Miscellaneous” in the Polizy-Fama, immediately following the announcements concerning wanted criminals, Herr Schelling again voiced his opinion in the usual fashion.

One need reflect but a very brief moment to see that the simultaneous appearance of such varied notices and articles on one and the same subject cannot be attributed to mere chance. To the contrary, one can see quite clearly that a systematic plan underlies all these publications, and that the goal to create as great a stir as possible one more time and to impress the literary John bull [a satirical personification of England or the typical Englishman, represented as a stout, red-faced farmer variously dressed in a hat, boots or buckled shoes, blue coat].


Dear God! So much ado about nothing! How many far more sensible systems have already ended up in the junk room of history? And we are supposed to believe that the adventures of an immature young man are the non plus ultra [Latin, “culmination, high point”] of the human intellect and spirit? Indeed. When Herr Schelling is forty years old, do you think he will genuinely be ashamed of his immodesty?


The critiques of Schelling and his followers published in the Berlin periodical Der Freimüthige reached a crescendo in issue 245 (9 December 1805) (letter/document 399c). Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott