Hegel to Niethammer
October 28, 1808

Source: Hegel: The Letters, translated by Clark Butler and Christine Seiler with commentary by Clark Butler, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, © Purdue Research Foundation.
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden for Marxists.org, 2012.

Each of your letters, arriving one after another in quick succession, is more pleasant than the last, revealing the goal to be ever closer. How greatly I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude by your kindness and active concern you can judge, my dear friend, by how long I have been waiting and yearning. It has already been many a year, and each day has eaten into me further. I learn from your letter received today that the Cause was threatened with shipwreck just as it was about to come to port. I thus do not want to be completely jubilant, since even now it is not yet safely anchored.

The modification you have made in the form of my employment I owe to your concern for my greater security as well as for expediting my entry into public service; and no place can be more desirable to me than Nuremberg, both for itself and because I will have Paulus as School Councillor there. A few days ago he picked up his family here, and the day before yesterday moved there with them. You have not indicated whether the reorganization of the gymnasium begins with the appointments, or whether I will have to assume the position under present conditions. At least you will not fail to let me know soon.

You inform me that the assumption of my duties could be required at short notice. I am, of course, already into the fourth quarter of the newspaper this year. A resignation before October or after December would have facilitated matters. Yet this difficulty is not to be taken into account, especially if the reorganization coincides with the appointment. Assumption of duties in the middle of a school semester already under way surely is not proper either. The essential difficulty is to find an editor to replace me, as I have pledged to help out in this matter and am in all honesty bound to do so. I hope chance – for it is on this that I must alone count – will favor me in a matter which in no ways allows an interim [between the two appointments]. The responsibilities of my new office are directly linked to my literary activities, and at least do not differ in nature even if they do differ in form. In this connection you yourself noted repeatedly and explicitly that you are keeping the prospect in Altorf open. Upgrading this institution in general is certainly of the greatest interest to you as a way of finally procuring a university for the Protestants. It is something they absolutely need if they are to cease viewing themselves – along with scientific education itself – as stepchildren. What is even better, however, is that you wish to take a personal interest in this institution. Any prospect you would hold out for me there would by itself be most appreciated, but what completely elevates this prospect above all others is the hope of thus joining you in a common life of teaching and active endeavor. Inasmuch as I know you in this respect, I hope there is no need to ascribe this prospect to some momentary frustration. Given the necessary conditions of professional activity in your field and your own mentality, I believe it is these conditions and not some isolated disfavor into which you may have fallen which has engendered this thought in you and that something solid lies at the basis of the plan. You first complete installation of this mechanism of your invention, then set it in motion, and due to its design it continues to operate on its own. All that needs to be done thereafter – dusting, oiling, etc. – are activities that can safely be left to others. You need not worry even if here and there something gets out of whack, which would happen anyhow even if you were overseeing matters personally. Upon your return to science after concluding such organizational activity, your work will remain closely connected with this activity – of which scientific work is the true foundation and consolidation. What a great future would be promised me if this plan were to materialize! I am daily ever more convinced that theoretical work accomplishes more in the world than practical work. Once the realm of representation [Vorstellung] is revolutionized, actuality [Wirklichkeit] will not hold out. And practical activity would not be lacking either: you have built a house for yourself and layed out the garden, and when you are finished with yours you will help me with mine. But heed the inclinations of the best of women in doing so. I am certain that she is not opposed, but is rather herself a partisan of those who live for themselves. ...

The affection of my friends, together with the love of my science, constitutes my entire happiness in life, or rather constitutes this happiness all by itself should my scientific endeavor not meet with success. This affection I will strive to preserve, and as for the rest I shall entrust my happiness to time and to my heart independently of circumstances, which are not determining.

Farewell. Be lenient toward my long-windedness as toward the rest. Do not let your secretary take any further part in your letter writing, since this way I will be assured you are no longer suffering headaches. I do not mean, by the way, to infer from this that headaches and a wife mean the same thing! On the contrary, I rather extend my most cordial greetings to her. Tell her I am right now gazing into the joyful eyes with which she beholds the fulfillment of her wishes for me. [Johann] Gries was here yesterday. Tomorrow I will write to [Johann] Huscher [gymnasium professor in Bamberg]. Yours, Hegel

October 29 1808

It was too late yesterday to send off this letter. Just this morning I received your letter containing the final decision. Through a variety of incidents, through so many crises, you have crowned your work.

I have already talked with Privy Councillor [Josef] von Bayard. He will give me full assistance in soon freeing me from this editorship. The only thing that can still detain me here is my bookkeeping, which contains much detail; but I hope to be able to leave next Tuesday or Wednesday.

I cannot fully express my satisfaction here in writing. I am thus today entering upon that existence in which nothing more is required of fate to accomplish what one is capable of, and in which fate can no longer be blamed for what one has not accomplished. You are my Creator, and I am your creature, who will respond to your work with feeling and, God willing – which now means “if I so will” – with works as well. And I do so will. I bid you farewell out of both the friendship I owe you personally and the respect I owe you as my superior. Your most devoted Hegel


Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page @ marxists.org