Letter 455

455. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Coppet: Stuttgart, 12 March 1810 [*]

[Stuttgart, 12 March 1810]

Dearest friend, I received your letter of 19 August of last year in Stuttgart a short time after I had lost Caroline. [1] I confess it did not exactly arouse feelings that were particularly compatible with the feelings accompanying my grief and melancholy. Although it was not possible for me to answer it at the time, I did hope that you knew me well enough not to interpret my silence as hostility.

The thoughts expressed in your letter of 21 February, a letter which, because it had to be sent back here, I only received today, [2] were exactly my own from the start; except that, because the departed had left no last will and hence the disposition over her finances fell to her relatives, I first had to inform the latter. [3] They gave their consent without qualification and authorized me to take care of having the monument erected. I also immediately made arrangements with Friedrich Tiek in the matter.

I completely agree with your ideas concerning the choice of symbols, and would also accept without qualification having it erected in the church [5] were I not concerned that the simple stone that now marks her grave might too easily be moved, thus perhaps quickly rendering the exact location of the precious grave unrecognizable. [6]

But that issue can be addressed. Just as I was planning on speaking with you first concerning the concept of the monument itself, so also did I want to make final arrangements with Friedrich Tiek, who was planning to pass through here shortly on his way to Italy. Now I do not know whether he might perhaps be planning to stay there for the summer, [7] something I conclude from your letter.

Generally speaking, it would probably be better. I am still waiting for an answer from Würzburg concerning the master artisan to be chosen, who at the same time is supposed to prepare an estimate. [8] Only then can I make formal arrangements with Tiek, which I think is good. To wit, his slackness is an ill affair. That said, however, he was originally chosen for the job, so I am disinclined to change anything in that regard. [9] I entreat you only to put the money at my disposal insofar as I have taken over the reckoning of such for the relatives. In their regard, you will probably also have to add the annual interest, which, if I am not mistaken, has been running since 1802. [10]

So, fate will now be taking you, too, away — and so far away from your friends and acquaintances! [11] But only for a brief period, I hope; or? It is sad to think about how everyone is dispersing and indeed has already dispersed. I was still hoping to see you again, perhaps this summer, and even if not in Coppet then in Switzerland, for you would not have been opposed to undertaking a modest journey to see an old acquaintance, would you? May God be with you and bring you safely back over to us!

You asked about my frame of mind, and how I am doing. [12] You can imagine my mood; grief with respect to the past dissolves into unspeakable longing for what is future. —

I have been doing tolerably well since returning here. I first had to return to Munich, where everything had remained in precisely the condition one expects when commencing a trip from which one is expecting to return after 1½ months. [13] I have been back here since the end of January and am living within the circle of my relatives and old friends at the very least better than I would there. Moreover, I will be remaining here at least into May. [14] Otherwise my intention is to complete that one thing about which you yourself already know and of which the overall concept and at least some details have already been prepared and which I would have liked to discuss with you. [15]

I did not know that Hülsen, too, has since passed away, something that touched me all the more profoundly insofar as I received a letter from him only a few days after Caroline’s passing in which he urgently invited me to meet him in Halle at Steffens’s and also to bring my wife along. [16]

Have you heard anything from others about the circumstances of her passing? I do not know whether I would be capable just now of writing it all down, and much can be communicated only in person in any case. [17] It was in every respect a wondrous death and non sine numine divo, [18] even if, unfortunately, the cause was only too natural.

Stay well, my dear friend; write me at least once more before your departure, and be assured of my unwavering friendship and concern for your well-being.


p.s. Might I ask that you pass along my kind regards to Madame de Staël?

You promised, if I remember correctly, to send me your lectures on the dramatic arts and literature. In case you did indeed put in such an order to your publisher, let me note that I have not yet received them from him. Even in the larger sense, he seems to be rather neglectful in such things. [19]

But please do tell me in a few words (I entreat you) what you think of Die Wahlverwandtschaften! [20]


Stuttgart, 12 March 1810
(at the house of the town clockmaker
Widmann) [21]


[*] Source: Krisenjahre 2:119–21.

While Schelling and Wilhelm were never genuinely close friends and would never become such, they nonetheless continued to share professional respect and interest in each other’s work even after Caroline’s death to the extent such might be expected given what Schelling in this letter quite accurately — and with a certain bittersweet element — calls the “dispersion” of their former friends and allies. Back.

[1] Krisenjahre 2:66–71, a letter in which, among other things, Wilhelm defended — with remarkable clarity (Wilhelm was never a philosopher) and in an even-tempered presentation — his brother Friedrich against some of the criticisms, including that of pantheism, Schelling had raised in “Philosophische Untersuchungen über das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit und die damit zusammenhängenden Gegenstände,” Philosophische Schriften, vol. 1 (Landshut 1809), 397–511, here 402–3 (Sämmtliche Werke 7:338–39).

These criticisms appeared earlier in this correspondence. See Schelling’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 7 August 1809 (letter 442a), note 2; and Dorothea Schlegel’s letter to Wilhelm on 25 November 1809 (letter 451c). Back.

[2] Wilhelm’s letter is not extant, but it must have discussed the honorarium for the monument for Auguste to be done by Friedrich Tieck and the debt of 600 Thaler incurred by Caroline (not by Schelling, as asserted in Körner [1930], 2:79fn1) for that purpose. Back.

[3] Philipp Michaelis in Harburg and Luise Wiedemann in Kiel Central Europe Wars of the Third Coalition 1805–7 (Cambridge 1923):



[4] Namely, in person in Munich; see Schelling’s letter to Wilhelm on 12 December 1808 (letter 437a); Friedrich Tieck’s letter to Wilhelm Schlegel from Rome on 13 February 1808 is also cited there in note 1. Back.

[5] In Bocklet (illustration from “the author of ‘St. Petersburgh,'” The Spas of Germany, 2 vols. [London 1837], 322):



[6] This is precisely what happened, and today the exact location of Auguste’s grave is unknown. See the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet. Back.

[7] I.e., in Munich, where he was living with his siblings Ludwig Tieck and Sophie Bernhardi. Back.

[8] Uncertain allusion. Back.

[9] Eventually, however, such did indeed become necessary, with Bertel Thorvaldsen eventually getting the contract. See below. Back.

[10] Schelling corresponds with Wilhelm over the next eighteen months about the problems getting Friedrich Tieck into motion with respect to the monument for Auguste (correspondence in Krisenjahre 2). Since Friedrich Tieck had not only already done Auguste’s bust, but also turned in several sketches for the monument and had been Caroline’s initial choice to do the work, Schelling was hesitant to pull the contract from him. Finally, on 18 August 1811 — two years to the day after he and Caroline had departed Munich for Maulbronn, and after even Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann had written to Thorvaldsen from Munich on 22 Mai 1811 (Thorvaldsen Museum, Archival reference m3 1811, no. 14) — Schelling wrote Wilhelm (Krisenjahre 2:225):

I believe I must alert you, my good friend, that I have now come to an agreement with Thorvaldsen concerning the execution of the monument, who has promised me to complete the entire piece within six months. As much cause as I have to be satisfied in every respect with knowing this project is in the hands of such an excellent artist and upright man, just as sorry am I, on the other hand, to have been prompted by Tieck’s tardiness and vacillation to abandon any hope that he might deliver the monument within a year’s time, or even several years’ time.

Schelling followed up with a letter to Thorvaldsen in Rome on 18 August 1811 to set things in motion (Thorvaldsen Museum, Archival reference m3 1811, no. 21).

Thorvaldsen ended up doing

(1) the triptych monument (photo Martin Reulecke):


(2) a second bust of Auguste based on the first but altered according to Schelling and Caroline’s instructions to render Auguste with less melancholy and more serenity (Auguste Böhmer, bust by Bertel Thorvaldsen, 1811–14, after that of Friedrich Tieck. Marble. 39 cm; Thorvaldsen Museum Copenhagen. Inventory number: A703):


Both pieces, along with Friedrich Tieck’s original bust, which Schelling had sent to Rome for Thorvaldsen’s use in creating the second one, are now housed in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. See the supplementary appendix on the memorial for Auguste. Back.

[11] Wilhelm’s anticipated journey to America as part of the entourage of Madame de Staël never materialized. Back.

[12] See Schelling’s letters to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 14 January 1810 (letter 453) and to Pauline Gotter on 12 February 1810 (letter 454). Back.

[13] See Schelling’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 7 August 1809 (letter 442a), note 3. Therese Huber recounts on 17 October 1811 in a letter to Karl August Böttiger that, as she understood it, Schelling was so despondent that he was still having Caroline’s place set at the table and her nightgown hung over her chair (Therese Huber Briefe, vol. 4 [1999], 1810–1811, letter 269, here: p. 482). Back.

[14] Frontispiece to Heinrich Matthias August Cramer, Unterhaltungen zur Beförderung der Häuslichen Glückseligkeit (Berlin 1781):


Schelling had returned to Stuttgart on 20 January; what was initially planned as a four-month leave of absence from his responsibilities in Munich was prolonged to the end of September 1810. Back.

[15] Josef Körner, Krisenjahre 3:448, suggests that the reference is perhaps to the long-envisioned but never-completed piece Die Weltalter (“The ages of the world”), even though (Krisenjahre 3:489) eleven printer’s sheets had already been printed by Easter 1811. Back.

[16] August Ludwig Hülsen had died on 24 September 1809 in Stechow, east of Berlin (Jahrbuch zur belehrenden Unterhaltung für Damen 1801; Inhaltsverzeichnis deutscher Almanache, Theodor Springmann Stiftung):


Wilhelm must have informed Schelling of his death in his letter of 21 February. His letter to Schelling is not extant.

Concerning Steffens’s odyssey away from and back to his university position in Halle, see the editorial note to supplementary appendix 427.1. Back.

[17] For details of Caroline’s passing, see Schelling’s letter to Luise Gotter on 24 September 1809 (letter 448). Back.

[18] Latin, approx. “not without divine aura.” Back.

[19] Wilhelm’s lectures Ueber dramatische Kunst und Litteratur: Vorlesungen von August Wilhelm Schlegel, 3 vols. (Heidelberg 1809–11); his publisher Zimmer in Heidelberg had sent copies of the initial volumes to Schelling, but they had gotten lost in transit.

In a letter to Wilhelm on 23 November 1810 (Krisenjahre 2:183), Schelling remarks that he received vol. 2 after returning to Munich but had still not received vol. 1, and on 15 May 1811 thanked Wilhelm from Munich for vol. 3, which had been sent to Stuttgart rather than Munich. Schelling in any case finally writes to Wilhelm from Munich on 18 August 1811 (Krisenjahre 2:225–26):

I have just been reading the third volume of your dramaturgical lectures. What gratitude must we others extend to you for having given us so much previously unknown information through this equally pleasant and erudite presentation of the English and Spanish theaters. May we now also have the good fortune in this world of receiving from you the entirety of Shakespeare and as much as possible of Calderon.

See the listing of volumes in Wilhelm’s edition of Shakespeare; no further volumes appeared from his hand. See also the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Shakespeare concerning the remaining volumes. Back.

[20] See Schelling’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 12 February 1810 (letter 454), also with notes 6–8. Back.

[21] Uncertain location.

Wilhelm Ferdinand Schwarzmann, Wegweiser für die Kgl. erste Haupt- und Residenz-Stadt Stuttgart (Stuttgart 1829), 350, notes only that the “clockmaker’s widow Frau Widmann” was “still renting a residence at Neckarstrasse 183,” a street that began behind the residence castle and extended out to the Cannstadt Gate that was not created until sometime just after 1807, and was not named “Neckarstrasse” until 12 May of 1811 (J. Fritz, Sammlung der Polizei-Gesetze und Verordnungen für die königliche Würtemberg’sche Residenzstadt Stuttgart [Stuttgart 1829], 74).

Here in any case the location of the street in 1831 (Neue Bildergalerie f.d. Jugend [Gotha 1831], vol. 4, plate 64, no. 380, “Grundriss von Stuttgart”) and a bird’s-eye view in 1852; N.B. only very few buildings were located on the Neckar Straße in 1810 (F. Federer after F. Wagner [1852]; Stuttgart Staatsgalerie):



Whether the Widmanns were already living there in 1810 is uncertain. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott