Letter 400b

400b. Adalbert Friedrich Marcus to Schelling in Würzburg: Bamberg, 2 January 1806 [*]

Bamberg, 2 January 1806

Beloved friend,

The moment the specific news concerning the conditions of peace arrived here . . . I immediately thought solely of the fate of Würzburg and of my friend [1] . . . No one now seems to know quite what . . . to speak about first and what last. Probably first about the overall situation.

Although the fate of Würzburg itself is sad, that of the university is even more so. I can well imagine that a large group in Würzburg will now triumph and rejoice, whereas I can find no reasonable reason for doing so. [2] And even were the new regent a god, the situation of so restricted a province and its servants cannot but remain extremely restricted. Little or nothing, of course, can be done for the sciences and arts just now, all the more so since everyone is now so enervated because of the previous tension.

I will say, however, that the situation of individuals, though particularly of teachers from elsewhere who received appointments, [3] seems most complicated. I am extremely curious to learn what Bavaria intends to do in this respect. [4] Wholly to abandon them does not to me seem in the spirit of this administration, and would be irresponsible in any case. The new prince elector of Würzburg will not tolerate Protestant teachers, on that one can rely.

Everything will depend on whether Bavaria will establish a branch university, and whether Erlangen will pass to Bavaria or not. From everything I have heard, one must perhaps expect the former. Then the question is where the second university might be transferred. The choice is probably between Bamberg and Erlangen. Were I to be asked, I would vote for Erlangen. [5] . . .

As far as your person is concerned, my dear Schelling, you can as little remain in Würzburg as any place where philosophy is reckoned as contraband. We must absolutely triumph in having Bavaria offer you a teaching position and transfer along with a salary increase. [6] This will happen if you do not oppose it, which is why I would like either to speak with you myself or otherwise soon learn what your own inclinations and decisions are . . .

Let me entreat you and your dear wife . . . to proceed with the utmost caution and prudence now, for a great deal indeed depends on this particular moment. Do not become intimate with anyone, and instead remain standing alone just as people have hitherto left you standing alone. [7] Just believe that your colleagues, each in secret, have already chosen which party they will cast their lots with. . . .


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:286–87.

This letter anticipates the considerable changes that were about to take place in Würzburg and profoundly affect Caroline and Schelling’s plans for the future (“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]):



[1] Concerning the fate of Würzburg, see sections 21 and 22 in the supplementary appendix on the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg. Back.

[2] Namely, the Catholic faculty. See Marcus’s letter to Schelling on back on 20 July 1803 (letter 380c), with note 4, and Kuno Fischer’s discussion of Catholic opposition to Schelling in Bavaria. Back.

[3] I.e., Protestant faculty members. Back.

[4] Bavaria, after acquiring Würzburg in 1803, had appointed several Protestant to professorial positions in Würzburg who now became personae non gratae under the new Catholic prince elector, Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. On the other hand, Bavaria now became responsible for providing professionally for these faculty members elsewhere in Bavaria. Back.

[5] Most of the Protestant faculty members that had been brought in during 1803 and afterward were assigned to positions elsewhere by the Bavarian government; Munich as yet had no university. Back.

[6] Schelling did not receive a university position as a result of these changes, the two vacant positions in Landshut going instead to his adversaries Friedrich Köppen and Jakob Salat; indeed, despite his success at the lectern in both Jena and Würzburg, he did not teach again until 1820, in Erlangen (Hans Jörg Sandkühler, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Sammlung Metzler [Stuttgart 1979], 72–73) (Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel, Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete [Leipzig 1937]):


For the time being, Schelling’s future was to be decided in a different way. Back.

[7] Faculty members at the university were required to take an oath to the new territorial lord in the spring of 1806, an oath Schelling declined to take on 6 March 1806. Back.

Translation © 2017 Doug Stott