Letter 401b

401b. Karl Eberhard Schelling to Schelling in Würzburg: Murrhardt, 24 March, 6 April 1806 [*]

Murrhardt, 24 March

I am enclosing a letter from Professor Paulus to our father that arrived yesterday. . . . I cannot pretend that it did not make an extremely unpleasant impression on Father, and that he frankly wishes you had not even found the Jew worthy of calling him by his name. In his response to Paulus, Father laments that such unpleasant feelings now obtain between you and him, and that he certainly does not at all approve of you having applied that comparison to your quarrel, a comparison that Paulus could not but find highly odious. [1]

He wrote him further that you had written here urgently several times on the subject of finding this particular book . . . and he promised Paulus that if the book were not found with the same success as were the ships of the merchant — which were also considered lost — he would do everything in his power to secure another copy. [2] . . .

You can easily imagine what I think about this Jew being so crude as to try to draw Father into this entire affair as well and to send (unfranked) such a wretched letter to Father. Had it been possible to conceal the letter, I would have. Father basically suspected that Paulus must have been speaking quite ill of the Schelling name recently, and for some time now has often railed at both him and his works; he himself probably told you that he does indeed know what an treacherous canaille he is.

So he finds the comparison with Shylock quite accurate, he would merely prefer to know you are at peace with the whole world than that such accurate truths are flowing from your lips, accomplishing little apart from getting you involved in hostilities. He thus asks that I entreat you earnestly to let this thing with Paulus lie, and to leave it to him to satisfy the Jew.

I, too, ask that you let him be your advocate in this affair. You never have anything to gain through such disputes, in which solely your [illegible] entangles you. You have such a splendid disposition that any repugnant feeling that creeps into it cannot but harm you more than it would a more ordinary temperament. I simply cannot comprehend how such discord was ever able to gain such a foothold in your personality, and what ill-fated circumstances enable such crude beasts to rile you. . . .

The rumor of your journey to Italy, which Paulus also mentioned, has again made mother somewhat nervous, and she would invite you instead to come here and spend at least the spring here. [3] . . .

6 April 1806

Just this moment we received your and your dear spouse’s letters, which pleased us all the more since we have been anticipating them for some time now. . . . You will in the meantime have received a letter from me . . . in which I also enclosed the letter from Paulus. You can see that here, too, the Jew anticipated you. There can be no doubt that, before God, you acted quite properly in this matter, though considered politically, a mealy-mouthed sneak such as Paulus is a dangerous man, and the true Antichrist.

Paulus’s brother-in-law . . . assured me today that Paulus is thinking about staying in Würzburg and lecturing there just as before. Hence it is good if you will be leaving, since such neighbors are poison. [4] . . .

We are all doing very well and are looking forward to perhaps seeing both you and your spouse — whose hand I kiss in gratitude for her letter — in our land. [5] . . .


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:315–17. — At issue is Schelling’s insulting letter to H. E. G. Paulus on 13 March 1806 (letter 401a), in which he compares Paulus to the character of Shylock in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice; see below. Back.

[1] I.e., the comparison with Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. Back.

[2] In the Merchant of Venice, Antonio’s ships are initially thought to be lost or shipwrecked but later are found.

In act 3, scene 1, Salanio speaks (Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. W. J. Craig [London 1966]): “Why, yet it lives there uncheck’d that Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the narrow seas; . . . Ha! what sayest thou? Why, the end is, he hath lost a ship.” Bassanio later reads a note from Antonio: “Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried, my creditors grow cruel, my estate is very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit.”

Later Antonio to Portia (act 5, scene 1): “Sweet lady, you have given me life and living; / For here I read for certain that my ships / Are safely come to road.” (The Illustrated Shakespeare, ed. G. C. Verplanck, vol. 2 [New York 1847]):



[3] Concerning Caroline and Schelling’s latest plans for Rome, see Schelling’s letter to Georg Friedrich von Zentner on 19 January 1806 (letter 400d).

Schelling’s mother was nervous back in 1803 as well, when Caroline and Schelling were first planning a trip to Italy; see the editorial note to Auguste’s letter to Schelling on 4/5 June 1800 (letter 261) concerning the death in 1800 of Schelling’s younger, third brother, Gottlieb Schelling. Caroline mentions his death again in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 16 September 1803 (letter 381) in connection with Schelling’s mother’s disinclination to see Caroline and Schelling travel to Italy, where she had already lost a son recently. Back.

[4] Relations between the Pauluses and Schellings remained chilly on into 1807; Karl Schelling remarks in a letter to Schelling from Stuttgart on 3 January 1807 (Fuhrmans 3:396):

I have already encountered Paulus and his wife several times; since I was already engaged with other company, and he as well, he did not speak to me, something he otherwise would have done after his cordial greeting. When our brother-in-law, Herr Gross, who is acquainted with Madam Paulus, and Beate recently encountered her and spoke to her, she was cordial. Paulus himself is wearing a large Bavarian cockade on his hat here.

As a means of inspiring solidarity esp. among his new subjects in territories that previously did not belong to Bavaria, on 16 January 1806, Maximilian Joseph had issued the following decree (Ludwig Lang, Die Zeit König Max Joseph’s I.: geschichtliche Darstellung [Augsburg 1856], 105): “So that Bavarians may recognize one another as brethren, . . . we herewith order that all state servants will forthwith wear the blue and white cockade on their hats as part of their uniforms, and that all other subjects similarly be allowed to wear these cockades” (illustration © Ingolstadt, Bayerisches Armeemuseum):


The Pauluses did not remain in Würzburg; see Dorothea Schlegel’s letter to Karoline Paulus on 23 February 1806 (letter 400h), note 1. Back.

[5] Caroline’s letter is apparently not extant. Caroline and Schelling do not seem to have visited Schelling’s parents in Murrhardt before leaving for Munich (Franz Ludwig Güssefeld, Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland [1804]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):



Translation © 2017 Doug Stott