SCHILLER IN 1794

When Schiller visited Tuebingen, he also met his publisher Friedrich Cotta, a young man of 30 years of age, for the first time. The latter had taken over the “family business”, in existence since 1659, in the year 1787. The second meeting between Schiller and Cotta took place in May of that year (in Stuttgart). During a long walk, they discussed Cotta’s idea of a political newspaper, the editorship of which Schiller was possibly to take on (the newspaper in question was the “Allgemeine Zeitung”, which Cotta founded later, namely in 1798 and one of the “collaborators” of which would later, in 1831, be the German writer Heinrich Heine. However, Cotta and Schiller also discussed the latter’s plan of a “literary” periodical, the “Horen”, which then “had its lifetime” from 1795 to 1797.

During his stay in Wuerttemberg and after his “return” there to Stuttgart in mid-March, Schiller met some of his former fellow students from the Karlsschule, as, for example, the sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker and the painter Philipp Friedrich Hetsch.

After Schiller had returned to Jena, he, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Fichte prepared an invitation to the participation in the “Horen” magazine.

With respect to Goethe’s answer in writing to Schiller of June 24th and the ensuing lively correspondence can be reported that the two “literary greats” also met at a symposium of the “Naturforschende Gesellschaft” (Society for Scientific Research) at Jena on July 20th, and that they left this symposium together, went to Schiller’s apartment and continued their lively discussion there. They discussed Goethe’s concept of an “originating plant” and his differentiation between idea and experience. A second discussion took place on July 22nd, this time at Wilhelm von Humboldt’s home. In his letter of July 25th, Goethe welcomed the possibility of an exchange of thought with Schiller. After Goethe had accompanied Duke Karl August during his visit of the cities Dessau, Leipzig and Dresden, Schiller wrote to him the following letter which was dated August 23rd:

“Die neulichen Unterhaltungen mit Ihnen haben meine ganze Ideenmasse in Bewegung gebracht, denn sie betrafen einen Gegenstand, der mich seit etliichen Jahren lebhaft beschaeftigt. Ihr beobachtender Blick, der so still und rein auf den Dingen ruht, setzt Sie ni in Gefahr, auf den Abweg zu geraten, in den sowohl die Spekulation, als die willkuerliche und bloss sich selbst gehorchende Einbildungskraft sich so leicht verirrt. In Ihrer richtigen Intuition liegt alles und weit vollstaendiger, was die Analysis muehsam sucht, und nur weil es als ein Ganzes in Ihnen liegt, ist Ihnen Ihr eigener Reichtum verborgen. . . . Geister Ihrer Art wissen daher selten, wie weit sie gedrungen sind und wie wenig Ursache sie haben, von der Philosophie zu borgen, die nur von ihnen lerrnen kann. Diese kann bloss zergliedern, was ihr gegeben wird, aber das Geben selbwst ist nicht die Sache des Analytikers, sondern des Genies, welches unter dem dunklen aber sichern Einfluss reiner Vernunft nach objektiven Gesetzen verbindet. . . . Sie nehmen die ganze Natur zusammen, um ueber das Einzelne Licht zu bekommen; in der Allheit ihrer Erscheinungsarten suchen Sie den Erklaerungsgrund fuer das Individuum auf. . . . Nun, das Sie als ein Deutscher geboren sind, das Ihr griechischer Geist in diese nordische Schoepfung geworfen wurde, so blieb Ihnen keine andere Wahl, als selbst zum nordischen Kuenstler zu werden, oder Ihrer Imagination das, was ihr die Wirklichkeit vorenthielt, durch Nachhilfe der Denkkraft zu ersetzen und so gleichsam von innen heraus und auf einem rationalen Wege ein Griechenland zu gebaeren.”

The translation of this letter reads as follows:

“The recent discussions with You have moved my entire mass of ideas, for these discussions concerned a topic that has occupied my mind in a lively manner for some years. Your observing mind which rests so quietly and clearly upon the things, never puts you into any danger of “going astray” in which speculation as well as deliberate and merely self-relying imagination may all too easily lead. In your right intuition, everything lies and that more completely than that which analysis has to cumbersomely search for, and only due to the fact that this lies within you as a whole, your own wealth is hidden from you. . . . Minds of this nature seldom know how far they have come and how little they have reason to borrow from philosophy, which could only learn from them. The latter can only take apart and analyze what is given to it, but giving itself is not the prerogative of the analyst, but of genius which, under the dark but sure influence of pure reason strives towards more objective laws. . . . You take all of nature together in order to shed light on one particular problem, in the variety yet wholeness of nature’s forms, you seek for an explanation as to the individual. . . . Well, since you have been born as a German, since your Greek mind has been thrown into these northern realms, you had no other choice than to become an artists of the northern hemisphere yourself, or to claim that which its environment withheld from it, by employing the power of your mind and thus, so-to-say from “inside”, in a rational manner, give birth to “your own Greece.”

Goethe replied on August 27th, “it appears that, after such an encounter which occurred quite unawares, we have to wander on together.”

Schiller’s letter of September 7th, with which he accepted Goethe’s invitation to visit him at Weimar, described his own health situation, and which were actually the very circumstances in the midst of which he was to live during the last eleven years of his life and to produce his further literary works and which, in the truest sense of the concept, may very well represent what can “actually” be considered the works of “classical German literature”: his esthetic writings, the “Wallenstein” trilogy (which Thomas Carlyle daringly described as the “best” drama of the 18th century), and all of this further plays, including “William Tell”. Here an excerpt of what Schiller wrote about his health situation:

“Mit Freuden nehme ich Ihre guetige Einladung nach Weimar an, doch mit der ernstlichen Bitte, dass Sie in keinem einzigen Stueck Ihrer haeuslichen Ordnung auf mich rechnen moegen, denn leider noetigen mcih meine Kraempfe gewoehnlich, den ganzen Morgen dem Schlaf zu widmen, weil sie mir des Nachts keine Ruhe lassen, und ueberhaupt wird es mir nie so gut, auch den Tag ueber auf eine bestimmte Stunde sicher zaehlen zu duerfen. Sie werden mir also erlauben, mich in Ihrem Hause als einen voellig Fremden zu betrachten, auf den nicht geachtet wird, und dadurch, dass ich mich ganz isoliere, der Verlegenheit zu entgehen, jemand anderes von meinem Befinden abhaengen zu lassen. Die Ordnung, die jedem andern Menschen wohl macht, ist mein geaehrlichster Feind, denn ich darf nur in einer bestimmten Zeit etwas Bestimmtes vornehmen muessen, so bin ich sicher, dass er mir nicht moeglich sein wird.

Entschuldigen Sie diese Praeliminiarien, die ich notwendigerweise vorhergehen lassen musste, um meine Existenz bei Ihnen auch nur moeglich zu machen. Ich bitte bloss um die leiddige Freiheit, bei Ihnen krank sein zu duerfen.”

The translation reads as follows:

“With pleasure I am accepting your invitation to Weimar, but with my serious request that you, in no way, count on me and my actual presence in any of your household’s activities, for my cramps usually force me to sleep all morning, since they invariably trouble me during the night, and I never feel that well that I can count on my total well-being for any hour of the day. You will thus allow me to have you consider me as a complete stranger in your household who nobody pays any attention to and by my isolating myself I save myself from the embarrassment to have someone else depend on my state of health. The order and regularity which is so good and sensible for everybody else is my most dangerous enemy, for I only have to plan something for a certain time, and I can rest assured that I will not be able to follow through with it.

Please excuse these preliminaries which I had to necessarily mention first in order for me to make my existence in your house possible, at all. I merely ask for the unfortunate freedom that I may be ill at your house.”

In their discussions, Goethe and Schiller found that their views with respect to art and theories on art were very much alike in many respects, so that Schiller’s sequence of letters “Ueber die aesthetische Erziehung des Menschen” (on the esthetic education of man) found Goethe’s approval, and in return, Goethe sent Schiller his essay, “Inwiefern die Idee: Schoenheit und Vollkommenheit mit Freiheit, auf organische Naturen angewendet werden koenne” (As to how far the idea, beauty and perfection (combined) with freedom, can be applied to organic, natural phenomena).

Schiller also suggested that Goethe publish his “Wilhelm Meister” in sequels in the periodical “Horen”, but Goethe had to decline.

Goethe was also increasingly fascinated by the scientific institutions at Jena, so that he spent some time there in November of that year, and in Schiller’s house he also met a young German poet, Friedrich Hoelderlin. Howeve, Goethe could not appreciate this young man as much as Schiller did.

In reply to Goethe’s sending Schiller the first volume of “Wilhelm Meister”, Schiller replied in his letter of December 9th:

“Mit wahrer Herzenslust habe ich das erste Buch Wilhelm Meisters durchlesen und verschlungen, und ich danke demselben einen Genuss, wie ich lange nicht und nie als durch Sie gehabt habe.”

The translation reads:

“With my true heart’s delight, I have read through the first volume of Wilhelm Meister and have devoured it, and, thanks to it, I have experienced a pleasure that I have seldom had and never through anyone but you.”

Schiller’s and Goethe’s lively discourse with respect to Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre was to, from then on, accompany the writing process of this work, and Schiller’s letters became so important to Goethe that he saw in them an encouragement to carry on with his writings on this work.




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