Letter 417i

417i. Schelling to Goethe in Weimar: Munich, 16 November 1806 [*]

Munich, 16 November 1806

Your letter of 31 October was comforting to us all, indeed, we might even say heartening, since it simultaneously brought us assurance of your general well-being. During this time of disintegration, our love has turned away almost entirely from the public sphere, which, after all, no one can rescue in any case, and turned instead wholly to the distinguished individuals in whom we yet perceive a living, present, harmonious whole. The world has not yet become entirely impoverished if a mind and spirit such as your own is yet active and casting its radiance on that world.

The considerable reassurance this news brought us notwithstanding, we cannot but lament the harsh fate of so many of our friends in the North, and might almost consider ourselves fortunate indeed to have fled here to the South, where we can at least enjoy the peace and quiet that has followed upon the journey we managed to complete earlier. [1]

According to public newspapers, Herr Professor Meyer suffered a not insignificant loss with respect to his art collections; it must pain him not a little to watch turn to dust that which he had also managed to save and bring into a safe harbor from the Italian shipwreck. [2] — The Literatur-Zeitung in Jena has also attested its own continuation for us in several issues; [3] may all the hopes and wishes for this place be fulfilled, a place now eternalized in such an unexpected fashion.

With the most sincere wishes for your continuing well-being and with eternally loyal respect,



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:105–6; Goethe und die Romantik 1:249–50. This letter is Schelling’s response to Goethe’s letter to him on 31 October 1806 (letter 417h). Back.

[1] Concerning the fate of Weimar following the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, see supplementary appendix 417g.1. Concerning Schelling and Caroline’s other acquaintances in Jena and elsewhere, see the lengthy account and cross references in Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419). Back.

[2] Schelling and Caroline had read Heinrich Meyer’s announcement “Bitte” in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1806) 102 (Saturday, 8 November 1806), 840:

IV. Request

On 15 or 16 October [i.e., the first two days following the battle of Jena], a portfolio, not particularly large, covered over with paper of various colors and bound with gray taffeta ribbons, was stolen from the undersigned. It contained many individual illustrations both as color paintings and as watercolors, some of them copied after Raphael and some as originals.

Because the loss of these illustrations profoundly affects me personally, I would be grateful and appreciative toward anyone who might provide assistance in retrieving them, and would gladly agree to compensate that person for whatever expenses might be incurred in such retrieval or even to buy them back for an appropriate price.

Weimar, 8 November 1806

Professor Meyer Back.

[3] The Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung had continued to publish its daily editions throughout these events despite problems receiving contributions from elsewhere and sending out issues to subscribers outside Jena because of the disruption of the postal service. Its Intelligenzblatt missed its anticipated issue between 11 and 22 October 1806, but then picked up as usual.

News concerning the effects of the battle of Jena on the university constituted the lead article “Universität Jena,” Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1806) 98 (27 October 1806), 801–4; indeed, the paper was already opining that “on the 14th the important battle took place, one that for more than one reason deserves to be called the Battle of Jena“:



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott