Letter 397c

397c. Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel to Karoline Paulus in Würzburg: Cologne, 12 October 1805 [*]

[Cologne] 12 October 1805

My dearest Elisabeth, [1] I have been waiting for several days now for more definite news from you, and was still not yet able to decide whether to go ahead and write you, since I am wholly unsure whether my letter will even get to you, since you related to me in your last one that you did not yet know whether you would be staying in Würzburg. [2]

I would, however, like to scold you soundly for writing so fleetingly and with such little detail, since you can well imagine how eager we are to receive news from you and how worried we are about all of you. If this request does reach you in Würzburg, please make us wait no longer, and write me in detail, my beloved child, about your fate, your plans, and anything else one needs to know, e.g., whether it is to be attributed merely to the overall public situation that Friedrich received a formal refus [3] concerning an appointment, or to the influence of our personal enemies. [4]

For surely you both know that Count von Thürheim sent Friedrich word of this refus from Munich before the war broke out? — It came like a bolt out of the blue! We were both so confident in anticipating a successful outcome! Now, of course, we may as well be happy not to have been dragged into the general confusion there, and yet — our own situation is now extremely oppressive, since even the French plans and prospects have been shattered by the war! We are thinking about returning to Germany shortly, perhaps even before Easter, which is why I am even more interested in having you tell me where the two of you are thinking about going, since then it may be possible for us to meet somewhere. . . .

[postscript from Friedrich:]

. . . In these current sad times, I confess I really ought to be almost happy that nothing came of the beautiful Würzburg plans. Under the current circumstances, it would only have made my situation even more confused. But I would sincerely like to know how it really came about, that is, the extent to which and in what way my enemies influenced the outcome. What is the philosophical surgeon doing? — and especially Madam Schwerdtlein? [5] Is she faring well under French influence? My guess is she would be doing very well indeed, since it was there that she started out in any case, [7] and now she is there again, having completed her cycle, if the crooked path of such a two-legged serpent can even be called circular in the first place. May God, namely her God, i.e., the “God be with us,” bless it all for her and help her.

I remain the same old



[*] Source: Briefe von Dorothea und Friedrich Schlegel an die Familie Paulus 69–72 (Neueste Post. Karte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, ed. T. Molls [Vienna 1805]):



[1] Concerning Karoline Paulus’s nickname “Elisabeth,” see Dorothea’s letter to her on 28 April 1805 (letter 393a), note 2. Back.

[2] Concerning the military developments that had begun putting considerable pressure on Würzburg, see the supplementary appendix on the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg, August–December 1805.

The Paulus family and others were experiencing serious housing concerns since the arrival of Prince Elector Maximilian on 12 September 1805. His entourage and administration had fled Munich for Würzburg, where they had requisitioned considerable government buildings and even residential housing, including that of the Pauluses. See supplementary appendix 396.1.

Concerning the Pauluses’ loss of their apartment in the Borgias Building, see the pertinent section in the supplementary appendix on the Schellings’s residence in Würzburg. Dorothea’s question here on 12 October 1805 suggests that the Paulus family was considering leaving Würzburg a full two months before the Treaty of Pressburg on 26 December 1805, which brought an end to the hostilities at least between France and Austria.

As a result of that treaty, Würzburg was ceded to the earlier grand duke of Tuscany and current prince elector of Salzburg, Ferdinand III, brother of Franz II. H. E. G. Paulus initially maneuvered between the Bavarian and Tuscan administration, even reporting in sick to avoid the ceremonies honoring the new territorial lord in march 1806 (see Caroline’s letter to Julie Gotter on 12 March 1806 [letter 401] and Schelling’s missive to the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung on 28 March 1806 [letter/document 401c]); later, however, Paulus sided with Bavaria. See Reichlin-Meldegg 1:385:

As a result of these political developments, Würzburg was transferred to the archduke of Tuscany on 1 January 1806, and Paulus was left without any definite position until 1 October 1806. In the meantime, however, and on the orders of the highest administration, he remained as a professor in Würzburg service, being provisionally appointed on 7 November [1806] by the royal Bavarian administration to the university in Altdorf, which had previously come under the jurisdiction of the neighboring imperial city Nürnberg.

Just before he was ready to depart for Altdorf in the spring of 1807, on 3 March 1807 he was appointed successor to his friend and former colleague consistory councilor Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer in an administrative position in Protestant consistory and educational affairs in Bamberg. Niethammer had been appointed to the high consistory in Munich . . .

(“South West Germany and North Italy: The War of the Second Coalition 1798–1801,” The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912], map 88; [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):


The general territorial commissar, Count von Thürheim, sent the new “district and educational Rath” instructions to report to his new place of employment, Bamberg, on 19 March 1807.

But as long as his own employment in Bavaria remained indefinite and undecided after the transfer of Würzburg to Tuscany, Paulus found himself in an extremely unpleasant and uncertain situation. Back.

[3] Fr., “refusal.” Back.

[4] These “personal enemies” are Caroline and Schelling; concerning Friedrich’s attempt to secure a faculty appointment in Würzburg, see Dorothea’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 5 August 1805 (letter 394a), also with cross references to earlier letters in note 1 there. Back.

[5] “Madam Schwerdtlein,” a malicious nickname the Schlegels had begun applying to Caroline; see Dorothea’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 13 January 1805 (letter 389a), note 10.

Friedrich’s reference to Schelling as a “philosophical surgeon” may be alluding, first, to his having had more contact during the Würzburg period with physicians than with traditional philosophers, now even publishing a medical journal, the Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft (see Caroline’s letter to Anna Maria Windischmann on 2 December 1804 [letter 388a], note 2), and, possibly second, to the distinction still obtaining at the time between university-trained physicians, on the one hand, and traditional surgeons, on the other; see the section on this issue in the supplementary appendix on the scandal surrounding Auguste’s death. Back.

[6] Bavaria was allied with France during the Wars of the Third Coalition, and the Bavarian prince elector, Maximilian, as noted above, was now present in Würzburg along with his entourage and administration. Back.

[7] Malicious allusion to Caroline’s experiences in Mainz. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott