Letter 453

• 453. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Munich, 14 January 1810

Munich, 14 January 1810

|580| You yourself, my beloved friend, provided the explanation for why I did not answer your letter to Maulbronn. [1] And your second |581| letter expressed perfectly how tender are your feelings for me and how accurately you have recognized that the issue here is not merely that of personal loss, but rather that the world itself has now become the poorer through such a death. [2]

I will never forget your feelings in this matter or those of our other, better friends, for that is what will connect me even more intimately with you for the entire rest of my life. For even if she whom I lost was and remains my very heart, the people who are otherwise closest to my heart are precisely those who knew her best. She is now free, and I with her. The final bond connecting me to this world has been cut. All the love I have is now covering that grave. The final wound, depending on how we conceive it, opens and closes all others.

I vow to you and to all my friends that henceforth I will live and create wholly and exclusively for the most sublime as long as I am able. This life can have no other value than that; to spend it unworthily, given that I must not arbitrarily end it myself, would be a disgrace. The only possible way to bear it is to view life itself as something eternal. To complete the work we have begun is the only basis of continuation once we have lost everything in this world — fatherland, love, freedom. Count on me, depend on me — I will spare no efforts. Only if then it does not succeed should you lament me, my friends. Only then is there nothing left for me — only then am I, too, genuinely dead, even were I yet breathing and subsisting [3] . . .


[1] Windischmann’s letter is not extant or has never been published. Schelling had last written to Windischmann on 7 August 1809 (letter 442a), approximately ten days before departing Munich with Caroline for Maulbronn. Back.

[2] In his letter to Philipp Michaelis on 29 November 1809 (letter 452), Schelling had written similarly:

Even had she not meant to me what she did, I as a human being would have to weep for her and grieve over the fact that this tour de force of spirit is no longer, this rare woman with such masculine greatness of soul, with the most incisive intellect, united with the tenderness of the most feminine, most delicate, loving heart. Ah, nothing of that sort will ever appear again! Back.

[3] See in this context esp. Karl Philipp Conz’s eloquent poem “To S.: After the Death of His Spouse, 1809,” which was published in May 1810. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott