Letter 451

• 451. Schelling to Pauline Gotter in Gotha: Stuttgart, 9 October 1809 [*]

Stuttgart, 9 October 1809

|575| You wrote me, noble Pauline, [1] even before my own letter could have been in your hands, [2] and in this gesture I recognize your heart, which was doubtless worthy of being so loved by the noble deceased. It is not enough that you grieve over her; you also think of the poor survivor, who now remains behind and alone after having lost an alliance that had been entered into for life and for death. And even this, your concern, I owe to the eternally beloved; she was so fond of you and occupied herself so much with you during the most recent time that any word that now comes from your hand almost seems as if it comes from hers. [3]

I accept that word with gratitude and am |576| sincerely moved by it. With your letter, you have extended genuine solace to me. You sense that nothing, not even time, can alleviate this grief; you sense that it is eternal. — You being able to perceive this, — might I perceive it otherwise? Ah, keep not your beautiful feelings from breaking forth! As profound as my grief is — it nonetheless contains an element of sweetness that I would not exchange for all the joy of all other human beings. I do now believe that we are all happier in pain than in joy.

In my letter to your precious mother, [4] I wrote everything a grieving heart and a sensibility weakened by such suffering permit concerning the beloved’s end. Ah, it was a wondrous, extraordinary death, one accompanied by circumstances that can be related only in person to other devout souls and that almost rendered visible the higher will that called her home.

Let us speak often again about it, and about her, the unique, eternally unforgettable one.

I accept your words, my dear Pauline, words you also speak on behalf of your sisters and mother. Let us always remain bound by our shared memories. I will not feel that I have been totally abandoned if those whom Caroline loved so dearly during her own life maintain feelings of friendship for me even after her death.

Please think it not an immodest request if I express my wish that you not only think of me with such sympathy, but also write to me as often as you can. I will always be conscientious about responding, and if any consciousness of our grief might disturb the peace of the blessed where she now abides, Caroline would |577| surely thank you for everything you do on behalf of him who has been left behind, and for every word of solace and quickening that flows from your hand.

Your last letter arrived here after detouring through Munich. As you can see, I have not yet returned. Two weeks ago my relatives brought me here, where they are now all together. [5] Tomorrow I will make one more pilgrimage to Maulbronn to take leave of the last remains of the beloved. It is there that those remains now rest in monastic solitude in the land that gave life to me, death to her. [6]

Within two weeks, letters will find me back in Munich. [7] Although the lonely return trip will be heartrending, being in the presence of the surroundings in which it was last granted me to live with her, and the order that still reflects her spirit, will surely fill me with sweet, melancholy bliss.

I kiss your dear mother’s hands and send along my warmest regards to you and your sisters.



[*] The text of this letter is abridged in Erich Schmidt (1913), 2:575–77; missing passages from Plitt 2:178. Back.

[1] The reference is to Pauline’s letter to Schelling on 23 September 1809 (letter 447a), which she had addressed to Schelling in Munich, not knowing he had instead gone to Stuttgart. See the editorial note to her letter (Central Europe 1803 after the Peace of Lunéville 1801 and the Secularisations 1803 [Cambridge 1912]):



[2] Namely, Schelling’s letter to Luise Gotter (and to all of Luise’s daughters) on 24 September 1809 (letter 448); the two letters had crossed in the mail. Back.

[3] Concerning Caroline’s most recent attempts to persuade and arrange for Pauline to visit her and Schelling in Munich, see her letter to Pauline on 7 August 1809 (letter 442). Back.

[4] The letter mentioned above on 24 September 1809 (letter 448). Back.

[5] According to Xavier Tilliette, Schelling: Biographie (Paris 1999), 185, Schelling seems to have left his parents and Maulbronn for Stuttgart on 20 September 1809 ([1] illustration: Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Von Berlin nach Danzig. Eine Künstlerfahrt im Jahre 1773 von Daniel Chodowiecki. 108 Lichtdrucke nach den Originalen in der Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Mit erläuterndem Text und einer Einführung von Professor Dr. W[olfgang] von Oettingen [Berlin, Amsler & Ruthardt, Kunsthändler o.J. [1883], plate 1; [2] map: Johann Sebastian Gerster, Julius Iwan Kettler, and F. Rösler, Schauenburg’s neue Wand-karte von Baden, Württemberg und Hohenzollern [Lahr 1883]; Bibliothèque nationale de France):




[6] Schelling was born in Leonberg, dutchy of Württemberg (map: Das Königreich Württemberg [1885]; Bibliothèque nationale de France; illustration of Leonberg: frontispiece to Beschreibung des Oberamts Leonberg [Stuttgart 1852]):



See also the supplementary appendix on Caroline’s gravesite in Maulbronn. Back.

[7] I.e., the week of 23 October 1809; Martin Wagner arrived in Munich on 7 November 1809 (see his autobiographical notes in letter/document 450b) and moved in with Schelling at Im Rosenthal 144.

Schelling had a lengthy, solitary journey ahead of him back to his now empty apartment, and one can imagine with what excruciating sorrow he parted from his family in Maulbronn and from Caroline’s grave (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Desir de connoitre le monde [1773]; Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur HAB Uh 4° 47 [196]):


Stuttgart is located ca. 230 km from Munich ([1] map: Neue und vollstaendige Post-Carte Durch ganz Deutschland [1804]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans; [2] illustration of Munich from a distance: [Johann Michael von] Söltl, München mit seinen Umgebungen historisch, topographisch, statistisch, 2nd ed. [Munich 1838], frontispiece):




Translation © 2018 Doug Stott