Letter 446

• 446. Gottliebin Marie Schelling to Meta Liebeskind in Munich: Maulbronn, September 1809

[Maulbronn, September 1809]

My very esteemed Frau Oberappellationsräthin Liebeskind, [1]

|563| Our previous, albeit brief acquaintance in Kinzelbach [2] permits me to come to you with the sad news that has plunged all of us into the most profound grief.

Because my dear son is unable to direct his quill sufficiently to write, thus does it fall to me, his elderly mother, to take on the painful task of informing you that his dear wife, our good Caroline, is no more. Oh, but how this news will pierce right through you. If you could but see this house of grief just now, |564| you would weep the bitterest of tears along with us, mixing yours in with our own. [3]

She came in order that she might be happy with us and recover from the burdens of this past summer, [4] and instead found her grave among us. [5] An epidemic nervous fever accompanied by dysentery seized her shortly after it had similarly already snatched away the wife of a professor here. We thought our good, dear daughter was protected from it because we had found her to be so healthy and looking so much better this time than the last. [6] Upon returning from a journey in one of the most beautiful of the surrounding areas here, a journey lasting but 3 days, the next morning she became [7] . . .

[Conclusion to letter is missing.] [8]


[1] Because Meta Liebeskind’s husband, Johann Heinrich Liebeskind, bore the title of Oberappellationsrath, “counselor on the high court of appeals,” so also was Meta Liebeskind addressed with the feminine form of this title, just as Caroline was addressed as Frau Direktorin in Munich. See Caroline’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 16 September 1808 (letter 435), note 29. Back.

[2] Puzzling allusion. Although there seems to be no locale by this name, a schoolmaster in Stuttgart by this name is attested at the time. In Monika Siegel’s monograph on Meta Liebeskind, “Ich hatte einen Hang zur Schwärmerey,” the word appears only in connection with this present letter. Back.

[3] Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Der Lebenslauff. VII te Periode (1780); Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum; Museums./Signatur DChodowiecki AB 3.947:



[4] Viz., Schelling’s illness, which had commenced around 26 June 1809 and for a time had kept him bedridden (“Weibliches Mitleid,” Der Freund des schönen Geschlechts: ein angenehm und nützliches Taschenkalender für das Jahr 1805; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


See Caroline’s letters to Pauline Gotter on 7 August 1809 (letter 442) and to Philipp Michaelis on 16 August 1809 (letter 443); to Beate Gross in Gaisburg in August 1809 (letter 445); and Schelling’s letters on 7 August to Carl Joseph Windischmann and Martin Wagner. Back.

[5] According to a physician’s statement to which Georg Waitz still had access ([1871] 2:371fn1), Caroline became ill on 3 September 1809 several hours after returning home in good health from a three-day excursion on foot (1–3 September). She died in Maulbronn on 7 September 1809 at 3:00 in the morning and was buried on the evening of 10 September. See the full statement in letter/document 445b; original in Plitt 2:169. Back.

[6] Caroline and Schelling had last seen Schelling’s parents in Murrhardt on 31 October 1803. Caroline had at the time just been through her lengthy and complicated divorce from Wilhelm Schlegel (finally granted on 17 May 1803), a process extending back as far as April 1802, and had spent part of the summer of 1803 taking the mineral-springs baths in Cannstadt to help her recuperate. Concerning the divorce, see the anticipatory remarks in the editorial note to Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 4 April 1802 (letter 356b). Back.

[7] Walter E. Ehrhardt, “Eine romantische Wanderung nach Leonberg: Carolines letzter Weg mit Schelling,” lecture delivered on 24 September 2006, published online by the Internationale Schelling-Gesellschaft, e.V. as part of the Schellingiana series, argues that this three-day excursion took Caroline and Schelling to Schelling’s birthplace, Leonberg, ca. 40 km southeast of Maulbronn and 17 km northwest of Stuttgart (map: Das Königreich Württemberg [1885]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; illustration: frontispiece to Beschreibung des Oberamts Leonberg [Stuttgart 1852]):



Ehrhardt’s argument is based in part on remarks Dorothea Schlegel made to Friedrich Schlegel in a letter on 21 November 1809 (letter 451b), in which while recounting the news of Caroline’s death she remarks that Caroline had taken “a pleasure trip to Schorndorf with Schelling and his brother.” Ehrhardt suggests that Dorothea misunderstood the news she had heard (from whatever source) that was referring to an excursion to a place associated with Schelling’s childhood, which Schorndorf was not, it being, moreover, too far for such a pleasure journey in any case (necessitating a stop in Stuttgart, where the Schellings were not registered as having stayed over), though Schelling’s father had earlier had a parish there as in Murrhardt (excerpt from “Wurtemberg,” in William Shepherd, Historical Atlas [1911], 143; image: University of Texas at Austin):


Instead, Ehrhardt suggests that the locale Caroline and Schelling sought out on their excursion was Leonberg, where Schelling was born.

Schelling writes the following, moreover, in a letter to Pauline Gotter on 27 May 1810 (Plitt 2:211; illustration: Frauenzimmer Almanach zum Nutzen und Vergnügen für das Jahr 1818; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):

During the spring [of 1810; Schelling was living in Stuttgart rather than Munich] I took advantage of the spring weather to take several excursions in the surrounding area, which has such a wealth of natural beauty and things to see, though I also took time to collect myself in the surroundings that contain my final memories of the beloved. And indeed, so many beautiful and gracious memories — initially repressed by the painful ones — now returned at various places where, one might almost say, I found her footprints in places where perhaps no one had stood again since we were there.


And on almost the exact spot where I received her final gazes and sweet words, I wrote down some things that might one day give pleasure to kindred souls.

(This final remark is possibly to be understood in connection with the fragment “Clara oder über den Zusammenhang der Natur mit der Geisterwelt. Ein Gespräch,” trans. Fiona Steinkamp as Clara, or, On nature’s connection to the spirit world [Albany, N.Y. 2002]; see Schelling’s letter to Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer on 2 October 1809 [letter 450], note 5.)

Schorndorf does not fit this description not least because, again, of the distance from Stuttgart, where Schelling was living at the time. Leonberg, however, does, though no certainty is yet possible. Back.

[8] See Meta Liebeskind’s response on 14 September 1809 (letter 447), also concerning her relationship with Caroline and gossip in Munich. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott