Letter 420b

420b. Karl Schelling to Schelling in Munich: Stuttgart, 15 January 1807 [*]

Stuttgart, 15 January 1807

. . . Many thanks for the account concerning the experiments. [1] . . . I am delighted to hear about these experiments, though I have unfortunately found that they include discoveries I myself had hoped to be the first to report. May the devil go ahead and take me insofar as I myself do not possess this sort of magical body, as do some people, otherwise I would already have made these discoveries sometime after having read about Thouvenel’s experiments in Nordhof’s journal, for in fact I already performed some experiments a year ago, trying to set metals into motion through the energy in my body — but I could not, whereas those same experiments succeed brilliantly when I have Dr. Reuss here perform them today, who similarly possesses a Pennetic nature. [2]

Some time ago I heard a philistine recount the experiment with the ring over water; it immediately seemed cogent to me, so I tried it, and absolutely nothing happened. Had I myself had such a body, I would have succeeded with the experiment long ago. I heard about the experiment with the sword . . . six months ago. . . . I tried it several times, but in vain.

On the other hand, I did try out the sword experiments [with Dr. Reuss] and others, a few of which I will relate to you . . . but I cannot write about all of them, otherwise it would take me a week. [3] . . .


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:397. Back.

[1] Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser Francesco Campetti, see the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti; also Schelling’s letter to Hegel on 11 January 1807 (letter 420a); Johann Wilhelm Ritter letter to Hans Christian Örsted on 19 January 1807 (letter 420c); and Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421).

Schelling had apparently already written his brother about the findings around the New Year’s 1806–7, for Karl had thanked him on 11 January 1807 (Fuhrmans 3:396):

Many thanks for the account you sent about Campetti . . . I have been familiar with the rotation experiment for six months now, and indeed have been doing it with a sword. [Recounts at length, but that part of the letter remains unpublished.] Back.

[2] “Pennetic,” after Joseph Pennet, who had also been involved in investigating dowsers, diviners, and somnambulism. — Dr. Reuss is uncertain; the professor of medicine Christian Friedrich Reuss in Tübingen? Back.

[3] Karl’s account does in any case take up 1 ½ pages, though Fuhrmans similarly did not publish that part of the letter. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott