Letter 420d

420d. Schelling (anonymous) to the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1807) 6 (Monday, 19 January 1807) [*]

Literary News.
Universities and other public educational institutions

. . . Würzburg (letters from December 1806). News published in an issue of this journal last year concerning the current circumstances of scholarly institutions in Würzburg [1] might now need some revision insofar as the clergy there has begun to show signs of being quite inclined to engage in their old habits and reestablish complete control of their diminished empire. In a short time, should things continue as they are, not a trace of the brilliant intermezzo will remain, such being preserved then only as the memory of bitterly endured injustice. [2]

Since the outbreak of war, [3] the processions previously dispensed with have once more been granted their former privileges. There had already long been talk of changes in the Gymnasium, and the territorial directorate had indeed worked out a plan whose success would have been quite welcome, since it gave grounds to hope that the familiar school plan might be replaced by something genuinely better.

Toward the end of the scholastic holidays, when it did seem that such would happen, suddenly on 27 October the directing state ministry decreed that all teachers appointed by Bavaria be forthwith dismissed from office. The decree was sent to each individual as follows:

According to a resolution passed by the directing grand-ducal state ministry of 27 October of the present year, it has been found necessary to change the present organization of the Gymnasium and with it also to suspend the attendant provisional employment of Professor [name]; in the meantime, said dismissed professor will retain his salary until further notice. Würzburg, 27 October 1806. Grand Ducal Territorial Directorate.

Here is must be noted that Rector Klein and Prof. Ziegler really did have definitive appointments. The ducal court was sent a rescript for a considered opinion concerning the obligatory nature for paying out the salaries for the dismissed teachers. The latter were: Rector Klein, Professors Ziegler, Heldmann, Krisan, Hüssemann, Rüger, and the drawing instructor Henzig, among whom although some might indeed not be missed, others had given excellent demonstrations of their capabilities, so that especially the dismissal of Rector Klein prompted universal objection. Four clergymen were then newly appointed: Pastors Neser, who under the Bavarian administration had been removed from the Gymnasium, Rutta, Reuss, and Bidermann, about whose obscurity nothing further need be said.

And now Herr [Ferdinand] Blüm has been appointed prefect of the entire Gymnasium and professor of philosophy, a person who had earlier been employed at the Gymnasium and who during the Bavarian administration had applied for various professorships as occasions presented themselves, and, when applying for the position in philology, maintained that he possessed all the qualifications and background listed as essential in the organizational rescript, for which requirements no less a scholar than Voss had served as the example and model. Earlier Blüm had applied for the position in mathematics; hence philosophy is now the third discipline in which this man excels.

Yet at every turn, every authoritative body had rejected him as incompetent; indeed, in one characterization required by the territorial directorate to who-knows-what-end the day before the appearance of the edict, this Blüm was alleged to be incapable of teaching poesy and rhetoric, which position he had, however, hitherto occupied.

Whereas both he and a certain Herr Schön were simultaneously allowed to count as professors of philosophy at the university and at the end of the school year to promote the best students to the status of doctors of philosophy, the university has now already presented the most vigorous counter arguments straightforwardly declaring the incompetence of both men and demanding they be informed that they were henceforth to cease burdening the university with their presumptions.

And yet it was, according to general opinion, this same Herr Blüm who under the Bavarian administration, and without reason, claimed to have been persecuted under the bishopric administration, and at the commencement of the present administration has played precisely the same role, though this time claiming persecution by the Bavarian administration, and which is now so excessively concerned with bringing about precisely the change that above all would result in the dismissal of the rector, precisely the position Herr Blüm himself has now attained.

All reasonable persons, among the clerisy as well as the general public, are of the opinion that in this fashion, what the administration, and particularly the tolerant, reasonable minister intended as a salutary reform has become merely a malicious intrigue of clerics.

To the extent the reform does not involve personnel, this much is known: there will be five instead of seven classes in the Gymnasium, and each teacher will have one class; further: that now fewer hours are required for learning the ancient languages than was stipulated by the Bavarian guidelines, and in some classes only half as many, notwithstanding the fact that the lack of sufficient language instruction was adduced as one of the primary reasons a change was needed in the first place. The instructional hours have on the whole been decreased, whereas the confessional days increased six-fold, and the teachers are now again required to wear the long black clerical costume. —

It is also worth noting that the compensation pension that the Bavarian administration granted the other five young persons who were expelled from the clerical seminary for having attended the lectures of Professors Paulus and Schelling was recently summarily withdrawn.

The painful consequences of this violent set of circumstances in Würzburg, particularly with respect to philosophy, are similarly beginning to manifest themselves. It was peculiar enough that during the Bavarian period the clergy (apart from the measure just mentioned) remained at least publicly calm toward philosophy, perhaps because several Protestants had in the meantime taken over the role of the shavelings, such that only now do the latter again think it necessary to intervene on their own behalf.

Herr Klein, who applied for a position with the university to which his talents and scholarship would doubtless do honor, seems to have careened from Charybdis into the hands of Scylla. [4] His application, according to the implemented rules, was passed from the trustees to the philosophical faculty and on to the senate.

Herr Klein, however, is the author of a book Darstellung der Philosophie als Wissenschaft des All etc. (Würzburg: Baumgärtner, 1805). [5] That, however, was an intolerable circumstance for certain persons; indeed, the senate meeting concerning this topic ended up being so tempestuous that one could hardly imagine such scenes were even possible today, scenes that recall the ages of darkest persecution.

Herr Berg, who is capable of portraying so masterfully the tactics of former Zealots in church history, presented the system of Herr Klein as the most dangerous monster imaginable with respect to both church and state, to which end Herr Berg then read aloud, and out of context, passages from the book of Herr Klein, criticized the title, pointed out typographical errors, etc.; he also had with him Steffens’s most recent work, Grundzüge der philosophischen Naturwissenschaft, out of which, in order to demonstrate the hazardous nature of this philosophy, he read primarily passages from pp. 192 and 193, where references are made to the female bosom; [6] one is familiar with the temptation to which this ecclesiastical gentleman was subjected, on the occasion of Herr Schad’s biography, by the beata ubera B. virginis Mariae in several ecclesiastical hymns and prayers; but does such distress apply to others as well? [7]

It is probably best to remain silent concerning Herr Metz (similarly a clergyman, and prior to the Bavarian administration the only teacher of philosophy at the university), mentioning only that even the inclination of young people had to be viewed as a transgression on Herr Klein’s part insofar as the new, illogical philosophy (il-logical in the sense of diminishing attendance at the customary lectures on logic) harmonizes so well with the thoughtless determination of youth to learn nothing of substance.

Franz Oberthür used religion as a shield for his objections in maintaining that, as everyone in the world knows, this particular philosophy exterminates religion from the ground up — indeed, one ought to be happy to have removed it so far from the university and should take steps to ensure that it never take root there again. Thus the words of the lucid and well-informed Herr Oberthür, who during his trips to northern Germany, however, has allowed the gentle light of his enlightenment to radiate expansively indeed. [8]

What a difference from solid Andres, similarly a clergyman, but in the beautiful sense of the word, who with Nestorian power countered by pointing out how from time immemorial the same objections have been presented against philosophy and against every individual eminent philosopher, and how neither philosophy nor religion had every suffered one from the other: quite in the spirit of the noble Franz Ludwig, a man unforgettable to all Franconians, whose declaration with respect to the question raised at the imperial diet, namely, whether the Kantian philosophy should be allowed to be taught, should still be fresh in memory, since in part it was precisely these accusers of later philosophy who were thereby protected in the presentation of Kantian philosophy.

Professor Behr, who is always on the side of that which is just and prudent, did the same; the other jurists, out of a sense of inner justice, were similarly in favor of Herr Klein’s application, and when at the end the votes were divided, it was the vote of the worthy prorector, Herr Kleinschrod, that decided in his favor. —

Apart from Herr Berg and Herr Metz, Herr Rückert also made a dual and unsolicited presentation against Herr Klein before the senate and the ministry. There is great interest in seeing how the matter will ultimately be resolved. Although a reasonable response might be expected from the unemotional impartiality of the minister, one can never know how far a certain party will go with things, since the remark has already been made that even if Herr Klein were appointed professor, the vicariate in any event would, after all, have to oppose it.

Is it thus still possible, in our age, that the clergy can reasonably hope to overturn or thwart the actions of a regent in his free state, thereby arrogating to itself the status of a government within the government? [9]


[*] Source: Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1807) 6 (Monday, 19 January 1807), 41–45; also in Erich Frank, “Caroline, Schelling, and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, 60–63.

Schelling sent this piece to Heinrich Karl Abraham Eichstädt in a letter on 6 December 1806 (Fuhrmans 1:374–77, here 375–76), remarking:

The news from Würzburg is enclosed, copied almost verbatim from letters whose veracity I can attest. It is appropriate to expose such scenes publicly, especially when staged by people who are otherwise seeking to win over by devious means the praise of enlightened men.

In any event, I will leave it to your judgment whether and to what extent this news can be published, since I understandably want to avoid having anyone demand that you divulge the name. If such is not to be feared, as I do not at all believe it should be, and since, even if such attempts be made, I am certain of not being compromised by you, then I do wish its inclusion, and I will take it upon myself roundly to thwart any challenge that might arise from this genus irritabile [irritable race] of self-conceited clerics.

As a matter of fact, the Würzburg administration did lodge a complaint demanding the name of the author. Eichstädt refused and took the reprimand himself; see Erich Frank, “Caroline, Schelling, and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung,” 59:

In his letter to Eichstädt on 16 November 1806 [letter 417j], Schelling spoke about “some pieces of news concerning the most recent obscurantist measures taken by the administration in Würzburg” he would be submitting for the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. The reference is apparently to the piece that appeared in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1807) 6 (19 January 1807) (see Eichstädt’s response on 19 December 1807 [unpublished]: to “The news from Würzburg — very interesting indeed — will be printed this coming week. The only thing I will omit is Voss’s name.”)

This publication had an interesting political epilogue when the authorities in Würzburg demanded that the administration in Weimar, with whom they were currently conducting diplomatic negotiations, reveal the name of the person who submitted the piece (according to Eichstädt’s unpublished letter to Schelling of 6 March 1807, in Schelling’s literary estate).

Eichstädt, however, refused, adducing editorial confidentiality, and instead accepted full responsibility himself. Hence the entire matter ended with a mere reprimand of Eichstädt, who provided Schelling with a humorous account of the course of events. A rescript had allegedly been sent to Würzburg to the effect that

Hofrat Eichstädt as editor of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung was responsible for this particular journal, one enjoying ducal privilege, and was questioned concerning precisely that responsibility. — As punishment for said incaution and impropriety, Hofrat Eichstädt was issued an emphatic reprimand with the additional, earnest admonition, for the purpose of avoiding even sharper punitive measures, to refrain forthwith from accepting such offensive correspondence.

“Copied word for word!” the letter writer insisted. Back.

[1] Schelling to the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, 28 March 1806 (letter/document 401c). Back.

[2] The “intermezzo” being the brief period of Enlightened Bavarian rule between 1803 and 1806, after which Würzburg again reverted to traditional Catholic rule and institutions following the war of the Third Coalition and the Treaty of Pressburg, August–December 1805 between France and Prussia and the subsequent ceding of Würzburg to Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany at the beginning of 1806. Back.

[3] More recently the war between France and Prussia and the latter’s allies during the autumn of 1806, including the battles of Jena and Auerstedt. Back.

[4] In the strait of Messina, a whirlpool called Charybdis was situated opposite the rock of Scylla. These two navigational hazards were so close that ships would strike Scylla when trying to steer clear of Charybdis, and were swallowed up by Charybdis when trying to avoid Scylla (anonymous engraving, Scylla on the right, the whirlpool of Charybdis on the left):



[5] Georg Michael Klein’s Beyträge zum Studium der Philosophie als Wissenschaft des All, nebst einer vollständigen und fasslichen Darstellung ihrer Hauptmomente (Würzburg 1806); see Caroline’s letter to Schelling on 9–10 May 1806 (letter 409); see also notes 17 and 19 there. Back.

[6] Henrik Steffens, Grundzüge der philosophischen Naturwissenschaft (Berlin 1806). Schelling is referring to the book’s ninth (and final) section (pp. 169—204), in which Steffens proceeds essentially by way of aphorisms explicating assertions such as (p. 169) “the inner tension in every isolated organization is simultaneously an external one through universal organic tension; the inner tension grounds particularistic life — the organic external tension grounds universal life, and the two are wholly one.” References to the female are merely part of a broader explication of bodily features and organic relationships in the admittedly peculiar peculiar terminology and conceptual premises of Steffens’s philosophy of nature; the sequence on those pages proceeds as follows:

The face is the identity of innermost vegetative life and of the inner being of animalization, hence the identity of the nervous and arterial systems.

Since both facial factors are inwardly infinite, here we find a maximum of sensual individuality attained. Through the face, the emergence of the mass itself becomes objective as a being, i.e., light. It is the revelation of inner infinity.

Hearing corresponds to the relative incorporation of space into time, and the face to the incorporation of time into space. Through hearing and seeing, however, that opposition between the two is suspended.

Consciousness inheres in animals, just as animalization in vegetation.

All the functions of vegetation are relatively conspicuous in the woman.

The greater the assimilation of the vegetative, the more individualized it is, also in this particular potence. The maximum of assimilation of the vegetative is the woman.

In the woman, the bosom is the mystery of the formative incorporation of inner being with vegetation, i.e., within generation.

In the man, reflection is what animalisa is among animals, the germ of new inner separations and the awakening of a new infinite gradation of inner, increasingly individualizing formations.

In the man, generation is relatively separated. Testicles (in the man that which the bosom is in the woman) demonstrate through their lower existence the independence of the man’s inner being from generation.

Women demonstrate a relatively conspicuous being in the universal separation of totality. The monthly purification is a periodic oscillation of birthing under the potence of universality.

The act of generation individualizes the universal birthing of women.

Every single organization constitutes a relative deviation from normal organization, which is represented solely by the totality. Back.

[7] Johann Baptist Schad, Lebens- und Klostergeschichte, von ihm selbst beschrieben (Erfurt 1803), with the subtitle “With a free characterization of the monks in Banz [where Schad himself had studied and lived], and of monasticism in general with respect to its ruinous influence on education, state, and religion.”

The connection with Franz Berg — if such be intended — is obscure, since Schad nowhere refers to Berg by name, nor was the anonymous review of the initial edition of Schad’s book in the Oberdeutsche allgemeine Litteraturzeitung (1803) 3 (6 January 1803), 41–44 — which did not mention bosoms — particularly negative.

Although Schad spends considerable time discussing the grievous temptation for monks represented by breviary references to the virginal female (viz., Mary’s) bosom (to which one “bosom preacher” in Banz referred as the “devil’s bellows”), Schelling is referring here specifically to pp. 247–51 (the passage in question from Breviarium Romanum ad usum fratrum minorum s. Francisci Capuccinorum et monialium eiusdem ordinis cum officiis Sanctorum novissime per summos pontifices ad hanc diem concessis annut ente Patie Salvatore ab Othierio etc. [Taurini 1856]; illustrations in order: Breviarium romanum Ex decreto Sacrosancti Conilij Tridentini restitutum, vol. 2 [Antwerp 1700], frontispiece; Klauber Brothers, Alphonsus betet vor Maria [Augsburg 1760]):


Choral singing [in the monastery] became a siren’s song for me and indeed my greatest temptation, especially on the holidays celebrating Holy Mary and other sainted virgins. On such days, the breviary is full of slippery passages from the Song of Solomon and contains what are often extremely and immodestly luxuriant hymns. My master, of course, taught me to understand these passages in a spiritual and celestial sense. But such a disposition was, after all, possible only through the opposition of one’s earthly disposition.


And thus did the latter always stand beside me, appearing to tease me out of pure schadenfreude, even during those times when I was enraptured into the third heaven. Indeed, it pursued me even unto the very throne of the deity, and to the pure kisses I offered to Holy Mary in spirit. And whenever in such sacred embrace of this bride of the Holy Spirit it occurred to me that she — God be with us — like every other lady also had a bosom, my rapture was at an end, and I rudely tumbled back down from heaven to earth.

And yet the breviary does indeed constantly play with these dangerous sacred objects. Every hora [liturgy of the hour] concludes with a prayer through which all the sins committed in prayer during the hora are suddenly to be, as it were, prayed away yet again (this power was acquired through an indulgence with which the pope impregnated this prayer), and whose ending parades with Mary’s breasts. Beata viscera Mariae Virginis, quae portaverunt aeterni patris filium, et beata ubera, quae lactaverunt Christum Dominum! Translated: “Blessed be the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the son of the Eternal Father. And blessed be the breast that nourished Christ the Lord.”

Alas! these viscera and ubera of the Holy Virgin were not at all sources of bliss for me, but rather the most dangerous cliffs that rose up even from the ocean of devotion itself, and on which my purity and my confused monastic conscience founded at every hora of choral singing. If during such passages I intentionally thought of something else that I might artificially circumvent these cliffs on the ship of devotion, then after the breviary prayer I was tormented by the fear that I had not prayed with sufficient attentiveness. If I reflected on the dangerous bosom passages, I feared I had suffered a shipwreck of purity and risked being devoured by the floods of sensuality. . . .


But how easily is one distracted for several minutes, since the choral singing itself takes up at least four hours daily, and eventually cannot but become mechanical simply becuase of the monotony. That is the reason praying the breviary and reading masses become the most hideous source of torment for one’s conscience. The occasion for such distraction during prayers or the reading of mass is usually the tender and enchanting bosom passages of the holy virgins, especially of Holy Mary, and the slippery allusions to earthly love, which is so often extolled by these lurid hymns. . . .

For those, however, who would enjoy the celestial meal without earthly seasoning, and the divine nectar without the whore’s wine of human pleasure, this amalgama of the heavenly with the earthly, of the divine with the human, of the spiritual bosom with the physical bosom becomes an extreme stumbling block, and indeed the occasion for madness. In Banz there were several monks whose entire bodies positively trembled when they prayed the breviary or read mass, and who labored so violently that they sweat from every pore. Several of these scrupulous monks so ruined their nervous systems that they finally contracted epilepsy.

This topos was not entirely novel at the time. In 1793 Georg Philipp Ludwig Leonhard Wächter (Veit Weber), with whom Caroline was acquainted (see her letter to Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Meyer from Mainz on 29 July 1792 [letter 113]), published Die Betfahrt des Bruders Gramsalbus (“The prayer journey of friar Gramsalbus”), the first volume of an anticipated but unfinished series of books under the title Holzschnitte (“Woodcuts”), about the monk Gramsalbus, who during one of his journeys is grievously tempted by a virgin to “deny God and all that is holy.”

In the following temptation sequence, Gramsalbus teeters over the portals of hell (Georg Philipp Ludwig Leonhard Wächter [Veit Weber], Holzschnitte: Von Veit Weber [pseud.] … Erster band. Die Betfahrt des Bruders Gramsalbus [Berlin 1793], 294, 319–20; illustration 295):


He was not yet safe from the power of these cruel people who might condemn him to kiss a virgin. . . .

Virgin: I often witnessed how my father was able to turn wood into stone with these magical words.

Gramsalbus: (yawning) And those words would be . . .

Virgin: Abrenuncio Deo et omnibus Sanctis Abracadabra.

Gramsalbus: What? But that means denying God! Satan, be gone from me!

Virgin: But do I look like a devil? Are my fingernails claws? My arms — (pushes up her sleeves to her shoulders) — talons? Are serpents and newts lurking in my braids? — (lets down her long, blond braids, allowing her hair to fall over her back) — Does my breast push this silver cross away from it? — (opens her dress that has delicately encompassed her radiant bosom) — Do my lips shrivel when I kiss this cross? —

Gramsalbus: Ah, but no, no! Lace yourself back up lest I and my virtue lose our balance! etc. Back.

[8] Concerning Oberthür’s connection with Enlightenment scholars in northern Germany, see his biogram. Back.

[9] Concerning Georg Michael Klein’s fate in this matter, see his biogram. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott