Letter 396a

396a. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 5 September 1805 [*]

Würzburg, 5 September 1805

. . . The circumstances obtaining between us will and indeed already have completely disappeared as far as I am concerned. I have become convinced that you, too, are not pursuing merely your own cause, and what you bore against me in your own bosom was not directed against the cause. I extend my hand to you for an eternal alliance on behalf of that which is in fact our shared religion — namely, the presentation of the divine in science, scholarship, life, and art, and the dissemination of that all-perception and its firm establishment in the hearts of human beings. [1] . . .

Although I have not yet seen those particular issues of the disgraceful Berlin rag you mention, even without any “conspiracy” I do hope that ultimately the head of this serpent will be crushed, and I myself will do whatever I can to ensure such does indeed happen. [2]

Please extend my kind regards to your dear wife and two small children, [3] and if you can get away even briefly from the nursery, do come visit us here for a few days, where you will find everything and everyone in a considerable fluster and agitation. [4]



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:72–74; Fuhrmans 3:252–53.

This letter closes the broader sequence of letters the two men exchanged during August and early September 1805, namely,

  • Schelling to Windischmann on 23 August 1805 (letter 395b),
  • Windischmann to Schelling on 25 August 1805 (letter 395d),
  • Schelling to Windischmann on 27 August 1805 (letter 395e), and
  • Windischmann to Schelling on 29 August 1805 (letter 395f).

The next letters between the two families are those from Caroline to Windischmann on 28 September 1805 and 31 October 1805 (letters 397, 398), and to his wife, Anna Maria Windischmann, on 11 December 1805 (letter 400). This series of letters illustrates in its own fashion how despite his often insufferably arrogant, condescending tone, Schelling could indeed get past scholarly differences and acknowledge friendships even after disagreements. Back.

[1] The reference is to the earlier disagreement and testy exchange of letters during late 1804 to late spring 1805 concerning Windischmann’s book, Ideen zur Physik, vol. 1 (Würzburg, Bamberg 1805), an exchange with a decidedly different tone than the present one; see

  • Schelling to Windischmann on 7 December 1804 (letter 388b);
  • Windischmann to Schelling on12 December 1804 (letter 388d);
  • Schelling to Windischmann on 26 February 1805 (letter 390b);
  • Windischmann to Schelling on 2 March 1805 (letter 390c), and finally
  • Schelling to Windischmann on 6 May 1805 (letter 393c). Back.

[2] The “disgraceful Berlin rag” is Der Freimüthige oder Ernst und Scherz (1805) 167 (Thursday, 22 August 1805), 152. Schelling is responding to Windischmann’s letter of 29 August 1805 (letter 395f), in which Windischmann alerts him to the periodical’s insinuation of a “conspiracy of your and others’ reviews” advocating Schelling’s philosophy of nature. See esp. note 4 there. Back.

[3] Windischmann’s wife, Anna Maria Windischmann, had given birth to twins on 31 July 1805, namely, Georg Karl and Anna Maria Franziska Windischmann (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Die berühmte Lady [1785]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Chodowiecki Sammlung [5-319]):



[4] “Fluster and agitation” caused by the developments associated with the Third Coalition during August and September 1805, developments ultimately leading to war between Napoleon and England, Russia, and Austria.

French troops received orders in late August 1805 to march to Germany from the Channel coast, prompting the prince electors of Württemberg, Baden, and Bavaria to enter into an alliance with him (William R. Shepherd, “Germany and Italy in 1803,” Historical Atlas [New York 1923]):


On 26 September 1805, the French troops crossed the Rhine River.

The war ended with Napoleon’s victory at Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December and be concluded by the Treaty of Pressburg on 26 December, as a result of which Würzburg passed from Bavaria to the Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, ultimately also prompting Schelling’s and others’ departure from Würzburg.

Caroline and Schelling’s as well other other Würzburg residents’ more immediate concerns were the rumored departure of Prince Elector Maximilian of Bavaria for Würzburg because of the threat of Austrian military incursion into Bavaria and Munich, since the Bavarian court requisitioned buildings and even residences in Würzburg for its own use. See esp. the supplementary appendix on Missives from the Hamburg Staats- und gelehrte Zeitung: Maximilian flees from Munich to Würzburg August–September 1805 . Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott