Letter 398

• 398. Caroline to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Würzburg, 31 October 1805 [*]

[Würzburg] Thursday morning [31 October 1805]

|416| The enclosed manuscript has been lying here ready for you for over two weeks, my dear Windischmann [1] — something you will sooner be inclined to believe insofar it was impossible for me to have finished it since late yesterday evening, when Köhler so urgently, so severely, and yet so gently reminded us of this very obligation through everything he said and everything he brought with him.

I had not forgotten about it for a moment, nor did Schelling, but he wanted to look through the copy first, and so there it lay, bewitched to the point of immobility. For even I myself have not seen him for a week now except when he has come downstairs to eat [2] and in the process also hastily took note of the latest news of victory; [3] Indeed, I myself have often stood before his closed door with all sorts of things to discuss, but, alas, Baal was deaf, and I soon began simply telling myself: Baal is putting poetic pen to paper. [4]

Hence let us allow him to continue to do so, and I will now send this off behind his back and include Steffens’s lectures as well, which, as Köhler says, you would very much like to see. [5] As far as the Markbronner is concerned, that is once again extremely wicked of you, and is more vexing than anything we can do to you; [6] but let me engage the entire breadth of my own malice just to see whether I cannot play a trick on you as well. This quite vexed us.

That notwithstanding, you may continue to believe in our most sincere friendship and gratitude, which not even assassination attempts of that sort on your part can cause to waver. But be not perplexed if, sometime, something that you may quite justifiably be expecting may nonetheless not come about for perhaps an inordinate period of time, since the reason is doubtless always merely the quite innocent aftershock of the fact that time is occasionally more expensive for us even than our daily bread, which, quite frankly, is unfortunately already extremely expensive in its own right. [7]

Since Schelling just came downstairs and saw me busying myself with this parcel, he took the poem away from me |417| that I had copied out so neatly and beautifully, and is correcting it for me such that it will again look quite ill, and such that no doubt not inconsiderable typographical errors would emerge were it to go to the printer in such a condition, so that in the final analysis one might also take it to be an enlightened poem. But I have no intention of delaying mailing it by copying it yet again. I have also enclosed a copy of the aphorisms, since, after all, you are allegedly a bit annoyed with the other essays in the complete issue. [8] Just please be not annoyed with my inferior paper, since for the same reason Schelling himself does not write you, he also does not give me any paper.


We have decided after all to wait until tomorrow to send the manuscript lest it appear before you in such an untidy copy. But you can indeed count on it being sent tomorrow, since it is the wife who is now giving you her word on it, which around here means more than if the husband gives his. My warmest regards to everyone around you.

Caroline Schelling


[*] Dating according to Fuhrmans 3:279n1 (Erich Schmidt, [1913], 416, dates the letter “December 1805”), i.e., immediately after Martin Heinrich Köhler’s arrival. Caroline seems to be responding to Windischmann’s letter to Schelling on 29 October 1805 (see below). The victory, moreover, of which Caroline speaks presumably refers to recent French victories esp. at Ulm on 20 October 1805 (see below). Back.

[1] Presumably (according to Fuhrmans 3:279n2) Schelling’s Heinz Widerporst’s Epicurean Confession of Faith and the second part of his “Aphorismen über die Naturphilosophie,” Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft (1805) I,2 (Sämmtliche Werke 7:198–244). See F. W. J. v. Schelling Werke. Auswahl in drei Bänden, ed. A. Drews and O. Weiss (Leipzig 1907), lxiii:

Schelling began his lectures [in Würzburg] during the winter semester 1803/4. As an introduction, he lectured on “Propädeutik der Philosophie,” the main theme being the “System der gesamten Philosophie und der Naturphilosophie insbesondere” (“System of philosophy as a whole and the philosophy of nature in particular”). The next winter [1804/5] he repeated the lectures on the system of philosophy and also lectured on the philosophy of art.

He also continued publishing; together with Adalbert Friedrich Marcus, Schelling founded the Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft, which appeared in three volumes till 1808. The philosophy of nature had already been developed as far as the human organism, and these Jahrbücher were now to provide the long-promised Organik, the third and highest part within the system of nature. After a preface dated 5 July 1805, that same year Schelling published “Aphorismen zur Einleitung in die Naturphilosophie” (“Aphorisms as an introduction to the philosophy of nature”) [1805], then the following year “Aphorismen über die Naturphilosophie” (“Aphorisms on the philosophy of nature”) [1806/7]. Back.

[2] Caroline and Schelling occupied the top two floors in the old university building, in the photograph below the two floors above the library (arcades) and second floor (Schelling’s auditorium) (illustration: Universität Würzburg, Universitätsarchiv; essentially the same illustration in R. Fick, ed., Auf Deutschlands hohen Schulen: Eine illustrierte kulturgeschichtliche Darstellung deutschen Hochschul- und Studentenwesens [Berlin, Leipzig 1900], 358; photograph: Würzburg insbesondere seine Einrichtungen für Gesundheitspflege und Unterricht, ed. K. B. Lehmann and Julius Röder [Wiesbaden 1892], 225):):



See the supplementary appendix on their residence in Würzburg, also with note 6 there. Back.

[3] See sections 7 and 8 in the supplementary appendix on the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg. General Mack had surrendered Ulm to Napoleon on 20 October 1805, then other troops surrendered near Trochtelfkingen and Bopfingen. Napoleon himself crossed the Inn River on 27 October 1805 and was moving toward Austria, thereby also freeing Bavaria from the Austrians and ultimately occupying Vienna itself on 13 November 1805 (“Central Europe: The Austrian War 1809,” The Cambridge Modern History Atlas, ed. A. W. Ward, G. W. Prothero, Stanley Leathes, and E. A. Ben [London 1912] [University of Texas, Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection]):



[4] “Baal”: Caroline’s teasing nickname for Schelling when the latter is at work (frontispiece to Restif de la Bretonne, Die Zeitgenossinnen: vom Verfasser des neuen Abeillard, vol. 1 [Berlin 1781]):


See A Dictionary of the Bible: Or, An Explanation of the Proper Names & Difficult Words in the Old and New Testament etc. (London, Worcester 1798), ed. Isaiah Thomas, s.v.: “Baal, Bel, or Belus, an idol of the Chaldeans, Phenicians, and Canaanites. The word Baal signifies lord, master, or husband, and was their supreme deity. Under this name they worship the sun.”

“Baal was deaf, and I soon began simply telling myself: Baal is putting poetic pen to paper” (Der Schreiber in einer guten Stellung, Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate lviii):



[5] Henrik Steffens had been a professor in Halle since 1804; during the summer of 1805, he had lectured for the first time on experimental physics (Was ich erlebte 5:183) (Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate xlv)



[6] Not an entirely clear allusion. Windischmann had alerted Schelling on 29 October 1805 (Fuhrmans 3:278):

It will be from the hand of the vagrant Köhler — to whom you are herewith warned not to grant accommodations — that you will receive this missive. I have every reason to be thoroughly irritated with you for letting me go along for so long without spiritual anointing [Schelling’s last letter was on 8 October 1805]; my lack of time does not allow me to pursue this quarrel at any length just now, as does Köhler himself, who for 4 days now is in an enormous rush. To vent at least a bit, however, I am sending you 6 bottles of Markbronner over in [. . .]

. . . I am expecting to receive quite soon what is now in arrears and would be especially happy and would indeed rejoice exceedingly in my very soul were I soon to be surprised by a missive from a charming feminine hand.

Warm regards from us all to both you and your dear, precious wife.

Markbronn is a village located ca. 13 km west of Ulm (Karte des deutschen Reichs, ed. C. Vogel [Gotha 1907], no. 26):


The lacuna (?) in the manuscript seems to preclude ascertaining Windischmann’s full intentions with regard to the shipment of bottles, apparently of wine (see Caroline’s letter to Anna Maria Windischmann on 11 December 1805 [letter 398]). Here wine being packed for shipment ca. 1860 (Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper 9 [1860], no. 214 [Saturday, 7 January 1860], 93):


Caroline in any case is herewith sending him the anticipated missive “from a charming feminine hand” and also teasing him about what may have been a missed shipment, alluding then perhaps to Windischmann’s complaint about Schelling’s failure to write as well as to send he requested manuscripts, which Caroline had indeed included with this letter. Back.

[7] A reference to the inflation that had begun plaguing not only Würzburg, but also other locales involved in the theater of war. Henrik Steffens, for example (Was ich erlebte 5:181), reports that inflation began increasing so severely in the summer of 1805 in Halle that citizens stormed the shop of a merchant known as a corn speculator. Back.

[8] From the Jahrbücher der Medicin als Wissenschaft (1805) I/1; Windischmann had requested them in his letter on 30 September 1805 (Fuhrmans 3:268–69). Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott