Letter 419a

419a. Schelling to Carl Joseph Windischmann in Aschaffenburg: Munich, 18 December 1806 [*]

Munich, 18 December 1806

. . . And yet I myself profoundly perceive the incurable nature of our age and continue to delight in the destruction. We were utterly unable to imagine the degree of stupidity and profound vulgarity of the governments whose demise we are now observing; but now that such is clear, I myself, rather than lament, would much prefer, wherever possible, to contribute to the passing of the old. —

That particular age when the new, which may well surpass all our ideas, can be proclaimed and can genuinely emerge, has not yet come. I anticipate a complete reconciliation between all European nations and once more a common tie with the Orient. Unconsciously or not, the crusher is continuing with his work, and indeed has already transcended the previous boundaries restricting him. For what is Europe but the trunk, infertile in and of itself, onto which everything had to be grafted from the East and thereby ennobled? We cannot do without the latter; there must be open and free communication with it so that the earlier life of the 15th and 16th centuries may return even more beautifully. . . . .

One bit of literary news will surely please you: A few months ago, word came concerning a metal and water dowser in Italy, similar to Pennet, Thouvenel, et al. [1]Franz Baader (a magnificent seer and excellent person), Ritter, and I all went to considerable trouble to have this matter investigated. Our minister, who is open to all that is great and beautiful, authorized the money, and Ritter departed a few weeks ago. The initial reports have arrived back. The divining rod does indeed pulse for this particular individual. That much has been confirmed.

What a phenomenon, disclosing as it does the magical and superior power of human beings over nature! Ritter journeyed to Volta with Campetti (that is the man’s name), where this fact will first be confirmed, then Campetti will be brought here to remove all doubt. —

The enlightened are crying out horribly at the impertinence of nature. Please do not divulge these facts yet lest the news provoke unwanted raucous and obtuse cries. [2] — Adio.



[*] Sources: Plitt 2:108–9; Fuhrmans 3:384–85. Back.

[1] Pierre Thouvenel (1747–1815) and Joseph Pennet had both been involved in investigating dowsers, diviners, and somnambulism. Back.

[2] Concerning the episode involving Francesco Campetti, Joseph Pennet, Pierre Thouvenel, Franz Baader, and Johann Wilhelm Ritter, see Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421) and esp. the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti; the topic is mentioned in letters during 1807 and even into 1808. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott