Letter 441a

441a. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Coppet: Munich, 2 May 1809 [*]

Munich, 2 May 1809

. . . You probably already know that Friedrich Tieck arrived here safely. It was less fortunate that he happened to arrive during the initial days of the war. Six weeks earlier and he would likely immediately have received commissions for several pieces of work. [1] As it is, he has been commissioned to do three busts, and as far as my own is concerned, an order for one cast, since he would be doing it in any case. [2] I would be really quite sorry were I to believe I myself prompted such. But the crown prince quite unexpectedly sent an extremely mediocre local sculptor to me to do my bust. Since you had already informed me that Tieck wanted to do it, this was an extremely convenient excuse to decline the other.

That things have now taken this particular turn, however, I can explain only as the result of what is now considered necessary frugality [3] or the influence of some rancune or other [4] or the fact that the prince is merely trying to save the reputation of his word toward the other sculptor. You can well imagine how flattered I am to have Tieck do my bust and that he himself expressed the wish in the first place.

It was merely initially that he did put me in a rather awkward position, namely, that it might be viewed as a speculation regarding the crown prince’s anticipated pantheon, which could not be further from my own thoughts. [5] Several local scholars, including our dear president, [6] have engaged in this speculation without success; it would not even remotely occur to me to lay claim to such an honor. Tieck has already been modeling my head for several days now, [7] and God alone — not at all having created that head to be presented as a bust — knows how it will turn out. [8] You really are doing me an injustice by believing that my remarks concerning him were referring to earlier disagreements. I was never in such a relationship with him, and I referred to that particular opinion only as the one other artists almost universally have of him, and am convinced that the milieu has more to do with that than he himself. [9] . . .

We got off especially easily at the beginning of the new war. [10] The generals and troops who entered here left no doubt concerning the outcome. The officers are nothing but rabble; I am convinced that they would like nothing better than to be taken captive. They in any case stayed here for three days without receiving or even trying to receive the slightest bit of news from the main army, and without budging from their positions here even though the main army could indeed have used their help. We are able to judge these things quite well from our close proximity here, and you can rest assured that the Austrian defeat is complete and almost unprecedented. Our crown prince exhibited the greatest examples of courage and resolve. —

First the Hamburger Zeitung and then the Moniteur as well have reported that your brother is currently working as a writer with the army of Archduke Karl and mentioned him alongside Genz and Stein. [11] I, indignant at such news, contradicted it at every opportunity and am convinced that this report must derive from some misunderstanding. Your brother would be well advised, as soon as he has the time, to contradict such reports publicly. [12]

Stay very well, my valued friend; it seems I have written you a great deal today. Let me hear from you again soon. We both send you kind regards, sincerely,



[*] Sources: Krisenjahre 2:35–37; Fuhrmans 1:437–40. Back.

[1] Friedrich Tieck had arrived in Munich from Rome by way of Coppet on approximately 16 April 1809 (William Shepherd, Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. [New York 1921], 151):


Shortly after his arrival, Tieck wrote to Wilhelm Schlegel [Krisenjahre 2:31] that had he arrived two days earlier, he would have been able to deliver to the crown prince his letter of introduction from Madame de Staël; the prince had departed Munich on 14 April with his division). On 24 April 1809, however, Tieck wrote the following to Wilhelm (Krisenjahre 2:32:

Among friends here, the Schellings are people of extremely bad principles, with the same grotesque ideas as earlier, and the things we might have cause to desire would doubtless not find their approval.

Tieck then writes Wilhelm again on 27 May 1809 (Krisenjahre 2:43):

Of all the people I have seen here — and this may well astonish you — I almost like Jacobi the best, and it seems we are getting along quite well with each other; his house also has an extremely handsome salon where I am always pleased to linger. The Schellings are quite cordial, though other things might be mentioned in that context as well. Back.

[2] Concerning Friedrich Tieck’s bust of Schelling, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 21 February 1809 (letter 439), note 3.

Friedrich Tieck was indeed working on the bust only in plaster; the bust was not rendered in marble until 1859 by Arnold Hermann Lossow. Sophie Bernhardi accordingly writes somewhat piqued to Wilhelm on 17 September 1809 (Krisenjahre 2:75):

He [Friedrich Tieck] did Schelling’s bust here, which will probably remain simply as a plaster cast and not be of any profit to my brother at all, since even before my brother arrived, the prince had wanted to have another sculptor do it, and Schelling had told him that my brother would be doing it upon his arrival “in any case.” So the prince treated it as an independent work of my brother and only ordered a cast. Back.

[3] Because of the outbreak of war with Austria. Back.

[4] Fr., “grudge, resentment.” Back.

[5] “Pantheon,” i.e., what later became Walhalla; see the supplementary appendix on Schelling’s bust cited above. Back.

[6] I.e., of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. Back.

[7] Friedrich Tieck seems to have begun the piece on ca. 25 April 1809; he finished on ca. 27 May 1809. Back.

[8] Bettina Brentano, who was put off by Schelling’s external appearance in any case, remarked to Achim von Arnim during the summer of 1809 (Schelling im Spiegel seiner Zeitgenossen, ed. Xavier Tilliette [Torino 1974], 202) that the finished bust was not a successful piece. Back.

[9] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[10] See also the shorter account of the War of 1809. Back.

[11] The reference is to the two newspapers Staats- und gelehrte Zeitung des Hamburgischen unpartheyischen Correspondenten (1808) and Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel (1809), both of which Schelling could regularly read as a member of the Museum reading society in Munich. Back.

[12] The rumors were true. Friedrich Schlegel had been appointed court secretary within the Viennese chancellery on 29 March 1809 (see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 17 March 1809 [letter 441], note 32), had accompanied Archduke Karl on the military campaign against Napoleon as a patriotic (i.e., pan-German) propagandist, was composing patriotic pamphlets, became a contributor to Der oesterreichische Beobachter, and ultimately founded his own newspaper, the Österreichische Zeitung (24 June–16 December 1809), the latter of which became essentially the voice of Austria after the official Wiener Zeitung fell into Napoleon’s hands when Vienna itself was occupied.

Indeed, the newspaper was then continued after the war as the leading periodical of the Austrian state. Other such “publicists” included the Austrian political writer Friedrich von Gentz (1764–1832) and the Prussian statesman Karl Count von Stein (1757–1831), the latter of whom had helped reorganize the Prussian state after the battles of Jena and Auerstedt and had been in Austria since 1808. Adalbert Friedrich Marcus quipped in a letter to Schelling from Bamberg on 5 May 1809 (Fuhrmans 3:602): “I hear that Herr Schlegel is with the Austrian army; at least ‘Catholic Friedrich’ is consistent, if also pathetic.” — Oddly, and inexplicably, Marcus concludes his letter as follows: “Please give my regards to your spouse, if she is still living.”

Schelling remarks to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 9 May 1809 (Plitt 158; Fuhrmans 3:605):

It is unfortunately true that Friedrich Schlegel was indeed here in Bavaria with the Austrians and had already moved into Landshut. What adventures the furor fanaticus [Latin, “rapturous fanaticism”] is sweeping this excellent mind off to!

Landshut had been occupied by the Austrians on 17 April 1809 during the Austrian advance on Munich, and Friedrich had accompanied Archduke Karl in uniform (“green coat with yellow buttons, a red vest with gold, and a hat with a gold border” [Krisenjahre 3:395]). Clemens Brentano, living in Landshut at the time, writes to Achim von Arnim (Achim von Arnim und die ihm nahe standen, ed. Reinhold Steig and Herman Grimm, 3 vols. [Stuttgart 1894–1904], 1:273):

During the next two days, the Austrians streamed through the city in continuo, magnificent riders, constant “Hallo!” before Archduke Karl, full of courage and gravity. The latter finally left the city, and Count Stadion arrived as intendant général, and with him Friedrich Schlegel, with a saber and his entire beard full of gravy, he having just dined with Count Zichy.

He came to see us, but it was five minutes before I even recognized him. He was allegedly to become an army writer and had the title of court secretary. I would, by the way, never have believed that someone engaged with army headquarters could have so little idea of what was going on before his very eyes. He talked about the war like Wilhelminchen with her little legs up in the air [the character of Wilhelmine in Friedrich’s own novel, Lucinde] and was quite angry, indeed found it incomprehensible that the Bavarians were fighting so excellently.

Since there was infinite business to attend to during the initial days, there was absolutely nothing for him to do, and he began hatching a plan for his own journal in the rear of the army. But there was no time left for him to carry out the plan. . . . In a word, you have no idea how absolutely out of place he seemed. He always seemed to me to be like a monk who has never worn trousers and now has to move his legs around publicly for the first time. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott