Letter 432f

432f. Johann Wilhelm Ritter to Schelling in Munich: Munich, 30 May 1808 [*]

Munich, 30 May 1808

Campetti had an attack again the day before yesterday and has practically been projectile-vomiting blood since then. [1] He is in bed and utterly worn out. We have already let blood for him several times, but it was not until this morning that diminution of any significance has become noticeable, and in general it seems things are getting better. [2]

I would like to ask a favor of you. Since it is impossible for me to take him in at my place, he is spending a great deal of time alone, and any cordial show of concern and interest helps him. Might you have time to pay him a visit? — He is not aware that I am asking you to do this, and it would be a great surprise for him indeed, for he loves you very much — and more than anything. He lives at Damenstift, entrance no. 21 [3] . . .

If I knew if and when you were definitely going to visit him, I would arrange to be there myself. But you can easily enough find him without me, and it would really be even more refreshing for him. [4]

Please understand and excuse my request. I still respect Campetti as much as at the beginning; and he himself has remained just what he was; and our remedies will help him at least as much as those of the physician.

Otherwise things — are going just as you already know. [5]

Your devoted,
J. W. Ritter [6]


[*] Source: Fuhrmans 3:511. Back.

[1] Ritter had mentioned this development with Francesco Campetti in the addendum to his letter to Schelling on 24 May 1808 (letter 432d).

Concerning the episode involving the alleged dowser from Italy, 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) and Caroline’s letter to Luise Wiedemann on 31 January 1807 (letter 421), and the correspondence over the past year. Back.

[2] See the supplementary appendix on bleeding ca. 1808. Back.

[3] At lower center on the map below, on St. Anna Gasse: the building complex of the Order of St. Anna (Damenstift) with the Church of St. Anna above it, located in the general area of town as the Schellings’ initial apartment in Munich (at left) at Karlsthor 7 (Königlich Baiersche Haupt und Residenzstadt München am 1. Januar 1809 [Munich 1809]; Bayerisches Landesvermessungsamt München, Nr. 558/03):


Here part of the complex of buildings comprising Saint Anna’s and an illustration of nuns caring for the ill in a situation likely similar to that of Campetti, albeit in the Munich Kloster auf der Stiege (demolished in 1803) rather than in Saint Anna’s itself (Petrus Hötzl, Geschichte der Klosterpfarrkirche St. Anna in München [Munich 1879]; second illustration: Münchner Polizey-Uebersicht [1805], xxv and xxvi [Saturday, 29 June 1805], n.p., plate vi):




[4] Gottlieb Böttger der Ältere, Krankenbett mit Besuchern (Gotha 1805); Herzog August Bibliothek; Museums./Signatur Graph. A1: 242:

Visiting_the _sick


[5] Ritter was in considerable financial distress; see his letters to Schelling on 21 March 1808 (letter 431a) and 24 May 1808 (letter 432d). Back.

[6] Campetti eventually left Munich in June 1808, and Ritter never came to an understanding with the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities concerning the conditions under which the academy would accept the results of his experiments with Campetti over the previous year (which it had in part financed). The episode severely damaged Ritter’s professional reputation in Munich, and Ritter himself died in January of 1810 (see his letter to Schelling on 21 March 1808 [letter 431a], note 7). Oddly, Schelling, whose interest in the Campetti phenomenon was arguably no less serious than that of Ritter, does not seem to have suffered any damage to his reputation from the episode.

See Ritter’s letter to Hans Christian Örsted on 6 August 1808 (Correspondance de H. C. Örsted avec divers savants publiée par M. C. Harding, 2 vols., ed. M. C. Harding [Copenhagen 1920], 2:214):

Campetti has now had to return to his fatherland, at least for a while, after having started suffering from severe lung bleeding several months ago and being laid up sick for quite a long time, in addition to which he began suffering from homesickness. —

On the whole, this entire affair ended up causing me considerable external unpleasantness, notwithstanding how much I personally gained for our science. At this point, I do not really know whether, had I been able to anticipate everything that has happened, I would have occupied myself with it all so directly. But, grass eventually grows over everything, and so also in my own memory over all the various unpleasantness associated with this matter. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott