Johann Wilhelm Ritter and Galvanism: Laboratories and Experiments.
Almost from the beginning of his appearance in this present correspondence, Johann Wilhelm Ritter was studying and experimenting with the incipient sciences associated with galvanism. His experiments included, not least, frogs. That interest culminated perhaps in his remarks to Schelling on 24 May 1808 (letter 432d) that
“once we understand the brain, and to this degree (by equivalent stimulants) represent it, we will also be able to conquer death in all cases where it derives from brain failure or exclusion (through death or separation), and artificially maintain the phenomenon of life. I am not turning the brain here into a cabinet instrument, but intend rather to suggest how the greater earth takes on the organism, becoming its head and brain when the lesser earth fails it.”
As Ritter concludes elsewhere: “The pulse would begin anew, and the dead person would awaken.”
Because there is some indication Ritter’s health eventually suffered irrevocably from, among other things, his experiments, the following illustrations show the typical laboratory at the time as well as a representative sample of the experiments in which Ritter himself was interested.
(Illustrations from various editions of Aloysii Galvani [Luigi Galvani], De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius, cum J. Aldini dissertatione et notis. Acc. epistolae ad animalis electricitatis theoriam pertinentes [Apud Societatem Typographicam, 1792].)