Letter 421c

421c. Carl Joseph Windischmann to Schelling in Munich: Aschaffenburg, ca. mid-April 1807 [*]

[Aschaffenburg, ca. mid-April 1807]

Since it may be some time yet, or, since the essay itself, perhaps because of its length, might not be published in any case in the Morgenblatt, I am enclosing its first draft here. [1]

I have in the meantime had some very nice experiences indeed that I will also be relating to you. Till now, however, I have only noted them down rather than worked them out on paper. I have also read some much older material on these wondrous things, including Physique occulte ou traité de la Baguette divinatoire, a book relating a great many wonderful experiences; [2] the explanation must be passed by for now. I am convinced that never before have greater mysteries been revealed than are about to happen, if only the procedures be guided by genuine science.

Be attentive, my good friend, concerning the experiments conducted around you there. What a friend recently told me is not insignificant, namely, that Ritter and Volta might be taking the entire matter excessively from the perspective of experimental physics and may well be overly eager to reap the harvest. — May magic and the attendant phenomena become clear physics for the clear eye etc.

I am eagerly continuing to research these matters by way of the ancients and myself as well. Perhaps I myself will be able to bring something of interest to light. I must also tell you that the enclosed essay, which has been passed around among acquaintances, has also prompted several alchemists to contact me, and I am hoping that one of them who is otherwise a very learned man will provide some not insignificant insights. Our prince had me summoned for just this reason; we spoke at length about these and other things of note; he demonstrated considerable enthusiasm and encouraged me to continue. . . .


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:422–25. — Undated; dating according to Fuhrmans 3:422n1.

Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser Francesco Campetti, see the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti.

See also Hegel’s letter to Schelling on 23 February 1807 (letter 421a), note 1, for additional cross references. See Schelling’s response on 30 June 1807 (letter 422b). Also in general Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421). Back.

[1] Fuhrmans, 3:422fn1, points out that Windischmann had written a six-page essay (now in the Berlin Schelling Nachlass [archives]) about divining rods (dated 6 March 1807), but that Johann Friedrich Cotta likely declined to publish it in the Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände as being inappropriate material for the newspaper, as he also declined other essays on the topic.

The paper did, however, eventually publish a series of survey articles about the phenomenon of divining rods and such (nos. 138 [10 June 1807]; 174, 175, 177 [22, 23, 25 July 1807]), also taking into account Schelling’s article in the Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände (1807) 26 (30 January 1807) (for the text, see the pertinent section in the supplementary appendix on Caroline and Schelling’s interest in Francesco Campetti).

Although the survey incorporated most of Windischmann’s article, it also voiced considerable critical doubts concerning the entire phenomenon as being a merely fashionable parlor diversion lacking critical control and with too little attention given the subjective elements involved. The surveys did not include the florid and rhapsodically speculative conclusion to Windischmann’s essay. Back.

[2] Pierre Le Lorrain de Vallemont, La physique occulte, ou Traité de la baguette divinatoire de son utilité pour la découverte des sources d’eau, de miniéres, des tresors cachez, des voleurs & des meurtriers fugitifs: avec des principes qui expliquent les phénoménes les principes obscurs de la nature (Amsterdam 1693).

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Translation © 2018 Doug Stott