Letter 450

• 450. Schelling to Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer in Munich: Stuttgart, 2 October 1809

Stuttgart, 2 October 1809

|573| You have doubtless known for some time now about the harsh blow I recently suffered. I really should have written immediately to you and indeed to |574| several other friends as well, but the inexpressible pain of separation from so beloved a being, one in whose life my own is intertwined with a thousand bonds, simply overwhelmed my powers.

The only thing that could preserve me in these moments was complete internal and external solitude and being able to occupy myself solely with her and with things of a different world. Although my dear mother had to fulfill the obligations of friendship in my stead, her own profound grief, made worse by her empathy with mine, prevented her from writing more than a single letter, albeit one I do hope was related to all our friends. [1]

We should yet thank you and your dear wife for the final evening of entertainment we shared in Munich. [2] It still pains me to recall how I had to leave the company early because of a renewed cramp in my chest and how Caroline, who would like to have remained, was good enough to follow me. [3]

I know not with what melancholy feeling we walked home. Did we have any inkling that it would be the last time she would walk through these streets on my arm? [4] Please remember this good woman with cordial and gentle thoughts of recollection. She was a noble and in every respect magnificent woman, and as short or long as my own life may end up being, it will forever and wholly be dedicated to her memory. Nothing further can either occupy or console me than focusing on the objects of a higher world through which alone I might sublate this painful separation. [5]

I now need friends who are themselves not unfamiliar with mature, serious pain and grief, friends who sense that the only true and salutary condition of the soul is the divine sadness in which all earthly grief is submerged. Hence let us continue always to remain more intimately connected through precisely this shared inclination to that which is higher. [6]

Among our friends, I have thought particularly often about the Stengels. |575| My wife always had the most tender, heartfelt feelings of friendship for Frau von Stengel. [7] I believe that very few people were as dear to her as were she and her family. I would like to write to her myself if only circumstances permitted.

In the meantime, please allow me to ask you or your dear wife to relate to them from me everything friendship and sincere esteem require. I will be relating everything to them in person and will often remember the beloved deceased with them.

In Munich she sometimes remarked that she did not want to be buried there. The most gentle premonition prompted her to select the place where my parents live as the setting for her own final transformation, that she might then die, apart from everyone else, in the arms of those to whom her heart and love belonged and who in their own turn also loved her most affectionately and indeed with continually increasing affection. [8] Herr von Stengel has a drawing of the church in Maulbronn. Behind it, close to the rear wall, is the final resting place of the beloved [9]. . .


[1] Gottliebin Schelling’s undated letter to Meta Liebeskind in Munich in early September 1809 shortly after Caroline’s death (letter 446). Back.

[2] Thursday evening, 17 August 1809. Concerning that evening, see Meta Liebeskind’s letter to Gottliebin Schelling on 14 September 1809 (letter 447), in which she speaks about Caroline’s behavior that evening and her peculiar remarks “And were I now not to return at all.” See esp. note 5 there, with a cross reference, also concerning Rosine Niethammer, to Caroline’s letter to Meta Liebeskind on 28 August 1809 (letter 444). Back.

[3] Concerning Schelling’s illness during the summer of 1809, 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. Schelling was, moreover, certain that the burden of caring for him had contributed to Caroline’s weakened condition (see his letter to Luise Gotter on 24 September 1809 [letter 448]). Back.

[4] Taschenbuch für Grabennymphen auf das Jahr 1787; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung:


In 1809 the Niethammers lived at Am Maxthor 204 (see Henriette von Hoven’s letter to Charlotte Schiller on 6 August 1807 [letter 424a], note 6), the Schellings at Im Rosenthal 144, a considerable walk by even the most direct route, which may or may not have been the route they took (Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03; illustration of night street in Munich in 1805: (Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805] no. xlvii [Saturday, 21 November 1805], no pagination):



The following illustrations show the streets and pedestrians of Munich in 1805, i.e., just a year before the Schellings arrived and four years before this, Caroline’s final evening there (Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805] no. xvi [Saturday, 11 May 1805], no pagination, plate xvi, and no. xxiv [Saturday, 24 August 1805], plate xxxv):



Ultimately, of course, they arrived at their own house, Im Rosenthal 144 (Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805] xxv and xxvi [Saturday, 25 June 1805], plate xxv, house on left; its later number was 15, handwritten at top; photograph: uncertain, presumably from the Stadtarchiv München):




[5] Schelling soon began investigating the problem of immortality after death, in which context the work of Emanuel Swedenborg acquired considerable influence on him for several years. One product of this turn in his thinking seems to have been the fragment “Clara oder über den Zusammenhang der Natur mit der Geisterwelt. Ein Gespräch,” trans. by Fiona Steinkamp as Clara, or, On nature’s connection to the spirit world (Albany, N.Y. 2002), which was not published in Schelling’s lifetime (first published in Sämmtliche Werke, 9:1–110). Back.

[6] Horst Fuhrmans (Fuhrmans 1:450fn194) points out that

Schelling’s relationship with Niethammer seems not to have been entirely without problems in 1810. Whereas in early 1809 Schelling had quite favorably reviewed Niethammer’s publication Der Streit des Philanthropinismus und Humanismus in der Theorie des Erziehungs-Unterrichts unsrer Zeit (Jena 1808), in the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung (1809) nos. 13ff. (16, 17, 18 January 1809), in 1810 he viewed Niethammer as a follower of the Paulus-faction. Niethammer’s close relationship with Hegel also prompted Schelling to distance himself from Niethammer (Plitt 2:243): “Niethammer is basically of the same opinion as Paulus . . . He assured Paulus he would help him secure an appointment in Erlangen; he is also keen on securing one for Hegel there.” Georg Friedrich von Zentner, head of the Bavarian educational administration, was allegedly “not at all satisfied with the crude, imperious disposition of Madam Niethammer and Madam Paulus.” Back.

[7] Caroline had had a touching farewell with the Stengels at the Niethammers’ social gathering on 17 August 1809; see Meta Liebeskind’s letter to Gottliebin Schelling on 14 September 1809 (letter 447), note 5. Back.

[8] Jahrbuch zur belehrenden Unterhaltung für Damen (1801):



[9] J. E. Gailer, Neuer Orbis Pictus für die Jugend oder Schauplatz der Natur der Kunst und des Menschenlebens, 5th ed. [Reutlingen 1842], plate 320:



Translation © 2018 Doug Stott