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Title: The Autobiography of Goethe - Truth and Poetry: From My Own Life
Author: Goethe, Johan Wolfgang von
Language: English
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Translated from the German








Before the following translation was commenced, the first Ten Books
had already appeared in America. It was the intention of the Publisher
to reprint these without alteration, but on comparing them with
the original, it was perceived that the American version was not
sufficiently faithful, and therefore the present was undertaken. The
Translator, however, is bound to acknowledge, that he found many
successful renderings in the work of his predecessor, and these he has
engrafted without hesitation.

The title "Truth and Poetry" is adopted in common with the American
translation, as the nearest rendering of _Wahrheit und Dichtung._ The
"Prose and Poetry of my Life" would, perhaps, convey to the English
reader the exact meaning of the Author, although not literally his


As a preface to the present work, which, perhaps, more than another
requires one, I adduce the letter of a friend, by which so serious an
undertaking was occasioned.

"We have now, my dear friend, collected the twelve parts of your
poetical works, and on reading them through, find much that is known,
much that is unknown; while much that had been forgotten is revived by
this collection. These twelve volumes, standing before us, in uniform
appearance, we cannot refrain from regarding as a whole; and one would
like to sketch therefrom some image of the author and his talents. But
it cannot be denied, considering the vigour with which he began his
literary career, and the length of time which has since elapsed, that
a dozen small volumes must appear incommensurate. Nor can one forget
that, with respect to the detached pieces, they have mostly been called
forth by special occasions, and reflect particular external objects, as
well as distinct grades of inward culture; while it is equally clear,
that temporary moral and æsthetic maxims and convictions prevail in
them. As a whole, however, these productions remain without connexion;
nay, it is often difficult to believe that they emanate from one and
the same writer.

"Your friends, in the meantime, have not relinquished the inquiry,
and try, as they become more closely acquainted with your mode of
life and thought, to guess many a riddle, to solve many a problem;
indeed, with the assistance of an old liking, and a connexion of many
years? standing, they find a charm even in the difficulties which
present themselves. Yet a little assistance here and there would not
be unacceptable, and you cannot well refuse this to our friendly

"The first thing, then, we require, is that your poetical works,
arranged in the late edition according to some internal relations, may
be presented by you in chronological order, and that the states of
life and feeling which afforded the examples that influenced you, and
the theoretical principles by which you were governed, may be imparted
in some kind of connexion. Bestow this labour for the gratification of
a limited circle, and perhaps it may give rise to something that will
be entertaining and useful to an extensive one. The author, to the
most advanced period of his life, should not relinquish the advantage
of communicating, even at a distance, with those whom affection binds
to him; and if it is not granted to everyone to step forth anew, at a
certain age, with surprising and powerful productions, yet just at that
period of life when knowledge is most perfect, and consciousness most
distinct, it must be a very agreeable and re-animating task to treat
former creations as new matter, and work them up into a kind of Last
Part, which may serve once more for the edification of those who have
been previously edified with and by the artist."

This desire, so kindly expressed, immediately awakened within me an
inclination to comply with it; for, if in the early years of life our
passions lead us to follow our own course, and, in order not to swerve
from it, we impatiently repel the demands of others, so, in bur later
days, it becomes highly advantageous to us, should any sympathy excite
and determine us, cordially, to new activity. I therefore instantly
undertook the preparatory labour of separating the poems of my twelve
volumes, both great and small, and of arranging them according to
years. I strove to recall the times and circumstances under which each
had been produced. But the task soon grew more difficult, as full
explanatory notes and illustrations were necessary to fill up the
chasms between those which had already been given to the world. For, in
the first place, all on which I had originally exercised myself were
wanting, many that had been begun and not finished were also wanting,
and of many that were finished even the external form had completely
disappeared, haring since been entirely reworked and cast into a
different shape. Besides, I had also to call to mind how I had laboured
in the sciences and other arts, and what, in such apparently foreign
departments, both individually and in conjunction with friends, I had
practised in silence, or had laid before the public.

All this I wished to introduce by degrees for the satisfaction of my
well-wishers; but my efforts and reflections always led me further on;
since while I was anxious to comply with that very considerate request,
and laboured to set forth in succession my internal emotions, external
influences, and the steps which, theoretically and practically, I had
trod, I was carried out of my narrow private sphere into the wide
world. The images of a hundred important men, who either directly or
indirectly had influenced me, presented themselves to my view; and
even the prodigious movements of the great political world, which had
operated most extensively upon me, as well as upon the whole mass of
my contemporaries, had to be particularly considered. For this seems
to be the main object of Biography, to exhibit the man in relation to
the features of his time; and to show to what extent they have opposed
or favoured his progress; what view of mankind and the world he has
formed from them, and how far he himself, if an artist, poet, or
author, may externally reflect them. But for this is required what is
scarcely attainable, namely, that the individual should know himself
and his age: himself, so far as he has remained the same under all
circumstances; his age, as that which carries along with it, determines
and fashions, both the willing and the unwilling; so that one may
venture to pronounce, that any person born ten years earlier or later
would have been quite a different being, both as regards his own
culture and his influence on others.

In this manner, from such reflections and endeavours, from such
recollections and considerations,arose the present delineation; and
from this point of view, as to its origin, will it be the best enjoyed
and used, and most impartially estimated. For anything further it may
be needful to say, particularly with respect to the half-poetical,
half-historic mode of treatment, an opportunity will, no doubt,
frequently occur in the course of the narrative.



FIRST BOOK.--Childhood--the City of Frankfort

SECOND BOOK.--The New Paris--Frankfort Citizen

THIRD BOOK.--Occupation of Frankfort by the French

FOURTH BOOK.--Studies--The Bible--Frankfort Characters

FIFTH BOOK.--Gretchen--Coronation Ceremonies


SIXTH BOOK.--Illness and Recovery--Leipzig

SEVENTH BOOK.--Leipzig _(continued)_--German Literature

EIGHTH BOOK.--Art--Dresden--Return from Leipzig

NINTH BOOK.--Strasbourg

TENTH BOOK.--Strasbourg _(continued)_--Herder--Tour in Alsace and


ELEVENTH BOOK.--Frederica _(continued)_--Return from Strasbourg

TWELFTH BOOK.--Merck--Wetzlar; the Imperial Chamber--Charlotte

THIRTEENTH BOOK.--Goetz von Berlichingen and Werther

FOURTEENTH BOOK.--Lenz--Lavater and Basedow--Cologne

FIFTEENTH BOOK.--Moravians--"The Wandering Jew"--Zimmerman--"Clavigo"


SIXTEENTH BOOK.--Spinoza--Jung(Stilling)

SEVENTEENTH BOOK.--Lili--Betrothal--Ulrich von Hutten

EIGHTEENTH BOOK.--Hans Sachs--The Stolbergs--Switzerland

NINETEENTH BOOK.--Switzerland--Lavater--"Egmont"

TWENTIETH BOOK.--Kraus--Daemonic Influence--Heidelberg--Departure for




Ὀ μὴ δαρεὶς ἄνθρωπος οὐ παιδεύεται.


On the 28th of August, 1749, at mid-day, as the clock struck twelve,
I came into the world, at Frankfort-on-the-Maine. My horoscope was
propitious: the sun stood in the sign of the Virgin, and had culminated
for the day; Jupiter and Venus looked on him with a friendly eye,
and Mercury not adversely; while Saturn and Mars kept themselves
indifferent; the Moon alone, just full, exerted the power of her
reflection all the more, as she had then reached her planetary hour.
She opposed herself, therefore, to my birth, which could not be
accomplished until this hour was passed.

These good aspects, which the astrologers managed subsequently
to reckon very auspicious for me, may have been the causes of my
preservation; for, through the unskilfulness of the midwife, I came
into the world as dead, and only alter various efforts was I enabled
to see the light. This event, which had put our household into sore
straits, turned to the advantage of my fellow-citizens, inasmuch as my
grandfather, the _Schultheiss_[1], John Wolfgang Textor, took occasion
from it to have an _accoucheur_ established, and to introduce or revive
the tuition of midwives, which may have done some good to those who
were born after me.

When we desire to recall what befel us in the earliest period of youth,
it often happens that we confound what we have heard from others with
that which we really possess from our own direct experience. Without,
therefore, instituting a very close investigation into the point,
which after all could lead to nothing, I am conscious that we lived
in an old house, which in fact consisted of two adjoining houses, that
had been opened into each other. A spiral stair-case led to rooms on
different levels, and the unevenness of the stories was remedied by
steps. For us children, a younger sister and myself, the favourite
resort was a spacious floor below, near the door of which was a large
wooden lattice that allowed us direct communication with the street
and open air. A bird-cage of this sort, with which many houses were
provided, was called a Frame (_Geräms_). The women sat in it to sew
and knit; the cook picked her salad there; female neighbours chatted
with each other, and the streets consequently in the fine season wore
a southern aspect. One felt at ease while in communication with the
public. We children, too, by means of these frames, were brought into
contact with our neighbours, of whom three brothers Von Ochsenstein,
the surviving sons of the deceased Schultheiss, living on the other
side of the way, won my love, and occupied and diverted themselves with
me in many ways.

Our family liked to tell of all sorts of waggeries to which I was
enticed by these otherwise grave and solitary men. Let one of these
pranks suffice for all. A crockery fair had just been held, from which
not only our kitchen had been supplied for a while with articles for a
long time to come, but a great deal of small gear of the same ware had
been purchased as playthings for us children. One fine afternoon, when
every thing was quiet in the house, I whiled away the time with my pots
and dishes in the Frame, and finding that nothing more was to be got
out of them, hurled one of them into the street. The Von Ochsensteins,
who saw me so delighted at the fine smash it made, that I clapped my
hands for joy, cried out, "Another." I was not long in flinging out a
pot, and as they made no end to their calls for more, by degrees the
whole collection, platters, pipkins, mugs and all, were dashed upon the
pavement. My neighbours continued to express their approbation, and I
was highly delighted to give them pleasure. But my stock was exhausted,
and still they shouted, "More." I ran, therefore, straight to the
kitchen, and brought the earthenware, which produced a still livelier
spectacle in breaking, and thus I kept running backwards and forwards,
fetching one plate after another as I could reach it from where they
stood in rows on the shelf. But as that did not satisfy my audience, I
devoted all the ware that I could drag out to similar destruction. It
was not till afterwards that any one appeared to hinder and save. The
mischief was done, and in place of so much broken crockery, there was
at least a ludicrous story, in which the roguish authors took special
delight to the end of their days.

My father's mother, in whose house we properly dwelt, lived in a large
back-room directly on the ground floor, and we were accustomed to carry
on our sports even up to her chair, and when she was ill, up to her
bedside. I remember her, as it were, a spirit,--a handsome, thin woman,
always neatly dressed in white. Mild, gentle, and kind, she has ever
remained in my memory.

[Side-note: The Stag-Ditch.]

The street in which our house was situated passed by the name of the
Stag-Ditch; but as neither stags nor ditches were to be seen, we wished
to have the expression explained. They told us that our house stood on
a spot that was once outside the city, and that where the street now
ran had formerly been a ditch, in which a number of stags were kept.
These stags were preserved and fed here because the senate every year,
according to an ancient custom, feasted publicly on a stag, which was
therefore always at hand in the ditch for such a festival, in case
princes or knights interfered with the city's right of chase outside,
or the walls were encompassed or besieged by an enemy. This pleased us
much, and we wished that such a lair for tame animals could have been
seen in our times.

The back of the house, from the second story particularly, commanded
a very pleasant prospect over an almost immeasurable extent of
neighbouring gardens, stretching to the very walls of the city. But,
alas! in transforming what were once public grounds into private
gardens, our house and some others lying towards the corner of the
street had been much stinted, since the houses towards the horse-market
had appropriated spacious out-houses and large gardens to themselves,
while a tolerably high wall shut us out from these adjacent paradises.

On the second floor was a room which was called the garden-room,
because they had there endeavoured to supply the want of a garden by
means of a few plants placed before the window. As I grew older,
it was there that I made my favourite, not melancholy but somewhat
sentimental, retreat. Over these gardens, beyond the city's walls and
ramparts, might be seen a beautiful and fertile plain; the same which
stretches towards Höchst. In the summer season I commonly earned my
lessons there, and watched the thunder-storms, but could never look
my fill at the setting sun, which went down directly opposite my
windows. And when, at the same time, I saw the neighbours wandering
through their gardens taking care of their flowers, the children
playing, parties of friends enjoying themselves, and could hear the
bowls rolling and the nine pins dropping, it early excited within me
a feeling of solitude, and a sense of vague longing resulting from
it, which, conspiring with the seriousness and awe implanted in me by
Nature, exerted its influence at an early age, and showed itself more
distinctly in after years.

The old, many cornered, and gloomy arrangement of the house was
moreover adapted to awaken dread and terror in childish minds.
Unfortunately, too, the principle of discipline that young persons
should be early deprived of all fear for the awful and invisible, and
accustomed to the terrible, still prevailed. We children, therefore,
were compelled to sleep alone, and when we found this impossible, and
softly slipped from our beds to seek the society of the servants and
maids, our father, with his dressing-gown turned inside out, which
disguised him sufficiently for the purpose, placed himself in the way,
and frightened us back to our resting-places. The evil effect of this
any one may imagine. How is he who is encompassed with a double terror
to be emancipated from fear? My mother, always cheerful and gay, and
willing to render others so, discovered a much better pedagogical
expedient. She managed to gain her end by rewards. It was the season
for peaches, the plentiful enjoyment of which she promised us every
morning if we overcame our fears during the night. In this way she
succeeded, and both parties were satisfied.

In the interior of the house my eyes were chiefly attracted by a series
of Roman Views, with which my father had ornamented an ante-room.
They were engravings by some of the accomplished predecessors of
Piranesi, who well understood perspective and architecture, and whose
touches were clear and excellent. There I saw every day, the _Piazza
del Popolo_, the _Colosseum_, the Piazza of _St. Peter's_ and St.
Peter's Church, within and without, the castle of _St. Angelo_, and
many other places. These images impressed themselves deeply upon me,
and my otherwise very laconic father was often so kind as to furnish
descriptions of the objects. His partiality for the Italian language,
and for every thing pertaining to Italy, was very decided. A small
collection of marbles and natural curiosities, which he had brought
with him thence, he often showed to us; and he devoted a great part
of his time to a description of his travels, written in Italian, the
copying and correction of which he slowly and accurately completed, in
several parcels, with his own hand. A lively old teacher of Italian,
called Giovinazzi, was of service to him in this work. The old man
moreover did not sing badly, and my mother every day must needs
accompany him and herself upon the clavichord, and thus I speedily
learned the _Solitario bosco ombroso_ so as to know it by heart before
I understood it.

My father was altogether of a didactic turn, and in his retirement
from business liked to communicate to others what he knew or was able
to do. Thus, dining the first years of their marriage, he had kept my
mother busily engaged in writing, playing the clavichord, and singing,
by which means she had been laid under the necessity of acquiring some
knowledge and a slight readiness in the Italian tongue.

[Side-note: The Puppet-Show.]

Generally we passed all our leisure hours with my grandmother, in
whose spacious apartment we found plenty of room for our sports. She
contrived to engage us with various trifles, and to regale us with
all sorts of nice morsels. But one Christmas evening, she crowned all
her kind deeds, by having a puppet-show exhibited before us, and thus
unfolding a new world in the old house. This unexpected drama attracted
our young minds with great force; upon the Boy particularly it made a
very strong impression, which continued to vibrate with a great and
lasting effect.

The little stage with its speechless personages, which at the outset
had only been exhibited to us, but was afterwards given over for
our own use and dramatic vivification, was prized more highly by us
children, as it was the last bequest of our good grandmother, whom
encroaching disease first withdrew from our sight, and death next
tore away from our hearts for ever. Her departure was of still more
importance to our family, as it drew after it a complete change in our

As long as my grandmother lived, my father had refrained from any
attempt to change or renovate the house, even in the slightest
particular, though it was known that he had pretty large plans of
building, which were now immediately begun. In Frankfort, as in many
other old towns, when anybody put up a wooden structure, he ventured,
for the sake of space, to make not only the first, but each successive
story project over the lower one, by which means narrow streets
especially were rendered somewhat dark and confined. At last a law was
passed, that every one putting up a new house from the ground, should
confine his projections to the first upper story, and carry the others
up perpendicularly. My father, that he might not lose the projecting
space in the second story, caring little for outward architectural
appearance, and anxious only for the good and convenient arrangement
of the interior, resorted to the expedient which others had employed
before him, of propping the upper part of the house, until one part
after another had been removed from the bottom upwards and a new house,
as it were, inserted in its place. Thus, while comparatively none of
the old structure remained, the new one merely passed for a repair.
Now as the tearing down and building up was done gradually, my father
determined hot to quit the house, that he might better direct and give
his orders--as he possessed a good knowledge of the technicalities of
building. At the same time he would not suffer his family to leave
him. This new epoch was very surprising and strange for the children.
To see the rooms in which they had so often been confined and pestered
with wearisome tasks and studies, the passages they had played in, the
walls which had always been kept so carefully clean, all falling before
the mason's hatchet and the carpenter's axe--and that from the bottom
upwards; to float as it were in the air, propped up by beams, being,
at the same time, constantly confined to a certain lesson, or definite
task--all this produced a commotion in our young heads that was not
easily settled. But the young people felt the inconvenience less,
because they had somewhat more space for play than before, and had many
opportunities of swinging on beams, and playing at see-saw with the

At first my father obstinately persisted in carrying out his plan; but
when at last even the roof was partly removed, and the rain reached
our beds, in spite of the carpets that had been taken up, converted
into tarpaulin, and stretched over as a defence, he determined, though
reluctantly, that the children should be entrusted for a time to some
kind friends, who had already offered their services, and sent to a
public school.

This transition was rather unpleasant; for when the children who had
all along been kept at home in a secluded, pure, refined, yet strict
manner, were thrown among a rude mass of young creatures, they were
compelled unexpectedly to suffer everything from the vulgar, bad,
and even base, since they lacked both weapons and skill to protect

[Side-note: The Walk Round Frankfort.]

It was properly about this period that I first became acquainted with
my native city, which I strolled over with more and more freedom, in
every direction, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the company of
lively companions. To convey to others in any degree the impression
made upon me by these grave and revered spots, I must here introduce
a description of my birth-place, as in its different parts it was
gradually unfolded to me. I loved more than anything else to promenade
on the great bridge over the Maine. Its length, its firmness, and its
fine appearance, rendered it a notable structure, and it was, besides,
almost the only memorial left from ancient times of the precautions due
from the civil government to its citizens. The beautiful stream above
and below bridge, attracted my eye, and when the gilt weathercock on
the bridge-cross glittered in the sunshine, I always had a pleasant
feeling. Generally I extended my walk through Sachsenhausen, and for
a _Kreutzer_ was ferried comfortably across the river. I was now
again on this side of the stream, stole along to the wine market,
and admired the mechanism of the cranes when goods were unloaded.
But it was particularly entertaining to watch the arrival of the
market-boats, from which so many and such extraordinary figures were
seen to disembark. On entering the city, the Saalhof, which at least
stood on the spot where the Castle of Emperor Charlemagne and his
successors was reported to have been, was greeted every time with
profound reverence. One liked to lose oneself in the old trading town,
particularly on market-days, among the crowd collected about the
church of St. Bartholomew. From the earliest times, throngs of buyers
and sellers had gathered there, and the place being thus occupied, it
was not easy in later days to bring about a more roomy and cheerful
arrangement. The booths of the so-called _Pfarreisen_ were very
important places for us children, and we carried many a _Batzen_ to
them in order to purchase sheets of coloured paper stamped with gold
animals. But seldom, however, could one make one's way through the
narrow, crowded, and dirty market-place. I call to mind, also, that
I always flew past the adjoining meat-stalls, narrow and disgusting
as they were, in perfect horror. On the other hand, the Roman Hill
_(Römerberg)_ was a most delightful place for walking. The way to the
New-Town, along by the new shops, was always cheering and pleasant; yet
we regretted that a street did not lead into the Zeil by the Church
of Our Lady, and that we always had to go a round-about way by the
_Hasengasse_, or the Catherine Gate. But what chiefly attracted the
child's attention, were the many little towns within the town, the
fortresses within the fortress; viz., the walled monastic enclosures,
and several other precincts, remaining from earlier times, and more
or less like castles--as the Nuremberg Court, the Compostella, the
Braunfels, the ancestral house of the family of Stallburg, and several
strongholds, in later days transformed into dwellings and warehouses.
No architecture of an elevating kind was then to be seen in Frankfort,
and every thing pointed to a period long past and unquiet, both for
town and district. Gates and towers, which defined the bounds of the
old city,--then further on again, gates, towers, walls, bridges,
ramparts, moats, with which the new city was encompassed,--all showed,
but too plainly, that a necessity for guarding the common weal in
disastrous times had induced these arrangements, that all the squares
and streets, even the newest, broadest, and best laid out, owed
their origin to chance and caprice and not to any regulating mind. A
certain liking for the antique was thus implanted in the Boy, and was
specially nourished and promoted by old chronicles and wood-cuts, as
for instance, those of Grave relating to the siege of Frankfort. At
the same time a different taste was developed in him for observing
the conditions of mankind, in their manifold variety and naturalness,
without regard to their importance or beauty. It was, therefore, one
of our favourite walks, which we endeavoured to take now and then in
the course of a year, to follow the circuit of the path inside the city
walls. Gardens, courts, and back buildings extend to the _Zwinger_; and
we saw many thousand people amid their little domestic and secluded
circumstances. From the ornamental and show gardens of the rich, to the
orchards of the citizen, anxious about his necessities--from thence
to the factories, bleaching-grounds, and similar establishments, even
to the burying-grounds--for a little world lay within the limits of
the city--we passed a varied, strange, spectacle, which changed at
every step, and with the enjoyment of which our childish curiosity
was never satisfied. In fact, the celebrated Devil-upon-two-sticks,
when he lifted the roofs of Madrid at night, scarcely did more for
his friend, than was here done for us in the bright sunshine and open
air. The keys that were to be made use of in this journey, to gain us
a passage through many a tower, stair and postern, were in the hands
of the authorities, whose subordinates we never failed to coax into

[Side-note: The Council-House.]

But a more important, and in one sense more fruitful place for us,
was the Council-House, named from the Romans. In its lower vault-like
halls we liked but too well to lose ourselves. We obtained an entrance,
too, into the large and very simple session-room of the Council. The
walls as well as the arched ceiling were white, though wainscotted to a
certain height, and the whole was without a trace of painting, or any
kind of carved work; only, high up on the middle wall, might be read
this brief inscription:

    "One man's word is no man's word,
     Justice needs that both be heard."

After the most ancient fashion, benches were ranged around the
wainscotting, and raised one step above the floor for the accommodation
of the members of the assembly. This readily suggested to us why the
order of rank in our senate was distributed by benches. To the left of
the door, on the opposite corner, sat the _Schöffen_; in the corner
itself the _Schultheiss_, who alone had a small table before him; those
of the second bench sat in the space to his left as far as the wall to
where the windows were; while along the windows ran the third bench,
occupied by the craftsmen. In the midst of the hall stood a table for
the registrar (_Protocolführer_).

Once within the _Römer_, we even mingled with the crowd at the
audiences of the burgomasters. But whatever related to the election
and coronation of the Emperors possessed a greater charm. We managed
to gain the favour of the keepers, so as to be allowed to mount the
new gay imperial staircase, which was painted in fresco, and on other
occasions closed with a grating. The election-chamber, with its purple
hangings and admirably-fringed gold borders, filled us with awe. The
representations of animals on which little children or genii, clothed
in the imperial ornaments and laden with the insignia of the Empire,
made a curious figure, were observed by us with great attention; and we
even hoped that we might live to see, some time or other, a coronation
with our own eyes. They had great difficulty to get us out of the
great imperial hall, when we had been once fortunate enough to steal
in; and we reckoned him our truest friend who, while we looked at the
half-lengths of all the emperors painted around at a certain height,
would tell us something of their deeds.

We listened to many a legend of Charlemagne. But that which was
historically interesting for us began with Rudolph of Hapsburg, who by
his courage put an end to such violent commotions. Charles the Fourth
also attracted our notice We had already heard of the Golden Bull, and
of the statutes for the administration of criminal justice. We knew,
too, that he had not made the Frankforters suffer for their adhesion to
his noble rival, Emperor Günther of Schwarzburg. We heard Maximilian
praised both as a friend to mankind, and to the townsmen, his subjects,
and were also told that it had been prophesied of him he would be
the last Emperor of a German house; which unhappily came to pass, as
after his death the choice wavered only between the King of Spain,
(_afterwards_) Charles V., and the King of France, Francis I. With some
anxiety it was added, that a similar prophecy, or rather intimation,
was once more in circulation; for it was obvious that there was room
left for the portrait of only one more emperor--a circumstance which,
though seemingly accidental; filled the patriotic with concern.

Having once entered upon this circuit, we did not fail to repair to
the cathedral, and there visit the grave of that brave Günther, so
much prized both by friend and foe. The famous stone which formerly
covered it is set up in the choir. The door close by, leading into
the conclave, remained long shut against us, until we at last managed
through the higher authorities, to gain access to this celebrated
place. But we should have done better had we continued as before to
picture it merely in our imagination; for we found this room, which
is so remarkable in German history, where the most powerful princes
were accustomed to meet for an act so momentous, in no respect
worthily adorned, and even disfigured with beams, poles, scaffolding,
and similar lumber, which people had wanted to put out of the way.
The imagination, for that very reason, was the more excited and the
heart elevated, when we soon after received permission to be present
in the Council-House, at the exhibition of the Golden Bull to some
distinguished strangers.

[Side-note: Imperial Coronations.]

The Boy then heard, with much curiosity, what his own family, as well
as other older relations and acquaintances, liked to tell and repeat,
viz., the histories of the two last coronations, which had followed
close upon each other; for there was no Frankforter of a certain age
who would not have regarded these two events, and their attendant
circumstances, as the crowning glory of his whole life. Splendid as
had been the coronation of Charles Seventh, during which particularly
the French Ambassador had given magnificent feasts at great cost and
with distinguished taste, the results were all the more afflicting to
the good Emperor, who could not preserve his capital Munich, and was
compelled in some degree to implore the hospitality of his imperial

If the coronation of Francis First was not so strikingly splendid as
the former one, it was dignified by the presence of the Empress Maria
Theresa, whose beauty appears to have created as much impression on the
men, as the earnest and noble form and the blue eyes of Charles Seventh
on the women. At any rate, the sexes rivalled each other in giving to
the attentive Boy a highly favourable opinion of both these personages.
All these descriptions and narratives were given in a serene and quiet
state of mind; for the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had, for the moment,
put an end to all feuds; and they spoke at their ease of past contests,
as well as of their former festivities--the battle of Dettingen, for
instance, and other remarkable events of by-gone years; and all that
was important or dangerous seemed, as generally happens when a peace
has been concluded, to have occurred only to afford entertainment to
prosperous and unconcerned people.

Half a year had scarcely passed away in this narrow patriotism before
the fairs began, which always produced an incredible ferment in the
heads of all children. The erection, in so short a time, of so many
booths, creating a new town within the old one, the roll and crush, the
unloading and unpacking of wares, excited from the very first dawn of
consciousness an insatiable active curiosity and a boundless desire for
childish property, which the Boy with increasing years endeavoured to
gratify, in one way or another, as far as his little purse permitted.
At the same time he obtained a notion of what the world produces, what
it wants, and what the inhabitants of its different parts exchange with
each other.

These great epochs, which came round regularly in spring and autumn,
were announced by curious solemnities, which seemed the more dignified
because they vividly brought before us the old time, and what had
come down from it to ourselves. On Escort-day, the whole population
were on their legs, thronging to the _Fahrgasse_, to the bridge, and
beyond _Sachsenhausen_; all the windows were occupied, though nothing
unusual took place on that day; the crowd seeming to be there only for
the sake of jostling each other, and the spectators merely to look at
one another; for the real occasion of their coming did not begin till
nightfall, and was then rather taken upon trust than seen with the eyes.

The affair was thus: in those old, unquiet times, when every one did
wrong according to his pleasure, or helped the right as his liking
led him, traders on their way to the fairs were so wilfully beset and
harassed by waylayers, both of noble and ignoble birth, that princes
and other persons of power caused their people to be accompanied to
Frankfort by an armed escort. Now the burghers of the imperial city
would yield no rights pertaining to themselves or their district; they
went out to meet the advancing party; and thus contests often arose
as to how far the escort should advance, or whether it had a right to
enter the city at all. But, as this took place, not only in regard
to matters of trade and fairs, but also when high personages came, in
times of peace or war, and especially on the days of election; and
as the affair often came to blows when a train which was not to be
endured in the city strove to make its way in along with its lord, many
negotiations had from time to time been resorted to, and many temporary
arrangements concluded, though always with reservations of rights on
both sides. The hope had not been relinquished of composing once for
all a quarrel that had already lasted for centuries, inasmuch as the
whole institution, on account of which it had been so long and often so
hotly contested, might be looked upon as nearly useless, or at least as

Meanwhile, on those days, the city cavalry in several divisions, each
having a commander in front, rode forth from different gates and found
on a certain spot some troopers or hussars of the persons entitled to
an escort, who with their leaders were well received and entertained.
They stayed till towards evening, and then rode back to the city,
scarcely visible to the expectant crowd, many a city knight not being
in a condition to manage his horse, or keep himself in the saddle.
The most important bands returned by the bridge-gate, where the
pressure was consequently the strongest. Last of all, just as night
fell, the Nuremberg post-coach arrived, escorted in the same way, and
always containing, as the people fancied, in pursuance of custom, an
old woman. Its arrival, therefore, was a signal for all the urchins to
break out into an ear-splitting shout, though it was utterly impossible
to distinguish any one of the passengers within. The throng that
pressed after the coach through the bridge-gate was quite incredible,
and perfectly bewildering to the senses. The houses nearest the bridge
were those, therefore, most in demand among spectators.

[Side-note: The Piper's Court.]

Another more singular ceremony, by which the people were excited
in broad daylight, was the Piper's-court (_Pfeifer-gericht_). It
commemorated those early times when important larger trading-towns
endeavoured, if not to abolish tolls altogether, at least to bring
about a reduction of them, as they increased in proportion with trade
and industry. They were allowed this privilege by the Emperor who
needed their aid, when it was in his power to grant it, but commonly
only for one year; so that it had to be annually renewed. This was
effected by means of symbolical gifts, which were presented before
the opening of St. Bartholomew's Fair to the imperial magistrate
(_Schultheiss_), who might have sometimes been the chief toll-gatherer;
and, for the sake of a more imposing show, the gifts were offered
when he was sitting in full court with the _Schöffen._ But when the
chief magistrate afterwards came to be no longer appointed by the
Emperor, and was elected by the city itself, he still retained these
privileges; and thus both the immunities of the cities from toll, and
the ceremonies by which the representatives from Worms, Nuremberg,
and Old Bamberg once acknowledged the ancient favour, had come down
to our times. The day before Lady-day, an open court was proclaimed.
In an enclosed space in the great Imperial Hail, the Schöffen took
their elevated seats; a step higher, sat the _Schultheiss_ in the
midst of them; while below on the right hand, were the procurators of
both parties invested with plenipotentiary powers. The _Actuarius_
begins to read aloud the weighty judgments reserved for this day; the
lawyers demand copies, appeal, or do whatever else seems necessary.
All at once a singular sort of music announces, if we may so speak,
the advent of former centuries. It proceeds from three pipers, one
of whom plays an old _shawm_, another a _sack-but_, and the third a
_pommer_, or oboe. They wear blue mantles trimmed with gold, having
the notes made fast to their sleeves, and their heads covered. Having
thus left their inn at ten o'clock, followed by the deputies and their
attendants, and stared at by all, natives and strangers, they enter the
hall. The law proceedings are stayed--the pipers and their train halt
before the railing--the deputy steps in and stations himself in front
of the _Schultheiss._ The emblematic presents, which were required to
be precisely the same as in the old precedents consisted commonly of
the staple wares of the city offering them. Pepper passed, as it were,
for everything else; and, even on this occasion, the deputy brought a
handsomely turned wooden goblet filled with pepper. Upon it lay a pair
of gloves, curiously slashed, stitched, and tasseled with silk--a token
of a favour granted and received--such as the Emperor himself made use
of in certain cases. Along with this was a white staff, which in former
times was not easily dispensable in judicial proceedings. Some small
pieces of silver money were added; and the city of Worms brought an
old felt hat, which was always redeemed again, so that the same one had
been a witness of these ceremonies for many years.

After the deputy had made his address, handed over his present, and
received from the _Schultheiss_ assurance of continued favour, he
quitted the enclosed circle, the pipers blew, the train departed as it
had come, the court pursued its business, until the second and at last
the third deputy had been introduced. For each came some time after the
other; partly that the pleasure of the public might thus be prolonged,
and partly because they were always the same antiquated _virtuosi_ whom
Nuremberg, for itself and its co-cities, had undertaken to maintain and
produce annually at the appointed place.

[Side-note: Summer Amusements.]

We children were particularly interested in this festival, because we
were not a little flattered to see our grandfather in a place of so
much honour; and because commonly, on the self-same day, we used to
visit him, quite modestly, in order that we might, when my grandmother
had emptied the pepper into her spice box, lay hold of a cup or small
rod, a pair of gloves or an old _Räder Albus._[2] These symbolical
ceremonies, restoring antiquity as if by magic, could not be explained
to us without leading us back into past times and informing us of the
manners, customs, and feelings of those early ancestors who were so
strangely made present to us, by pipers and deputies seemingly risen
from the dead, and by tangible gifts, which might be possessed by

These venerable solemnities were followed, in the fine season, by many
festivals, delightful for us children, which took place in the open
air, outside of the city. On the right shore of the Maine going down,
about half an hour's walk from the gate, there rises a sulphur-spring,
neatly enclosed and surrounded by aged lindens. Not far from it
stands the _Good-People's-Court_, formerly a hospital erected for the
sake of the waters. On the commons around, the herds of cattle from
the neighbourhood were collected on a certain day of the year; and
the herdsmen, together with their sweethearts, celebrated a rural
festival, with dancing and singing, with all sorts of pleasure and
clownishness. On the other side of the city lay a similar but larger
common, likewise graced with a spring and still finer lindens. Thither,
at Whitsuntide, the flocks of sheep were driven; and, at the same
time, the poor, pale orphan children were allowed to come out of their
walls into the open air; for the thought had not yet occurred that
these destitute creatures, who must some time or other help themselves
through the world, ought soon to be brought in contact with it; that
instead of being kept in dreary confinement, they should rather be
accustomed to serve and to endure; and that there was every reason to
strengthen them physically and morally from their infancy. The nurses
and maids, always ready to hike a walk, never failed to carry or
conduct us to such places, even in our first years; so that these rural
festivals belong to the earliest impressions that I can recall.

Meanwhile, our house had been finished, and that too in tolerably short
time, because everything had been judiciously planned and prepared,
and the needful money provided. We now found ourselves all together
again, and felt comfortable: for, when a well-considered plan is once
carried out, we forget he various inconveniences of the means that were
necessary to its accomplishment. The building, for a private residence,
was roomy enough; light and cheerful throughout, with broad staircases,
agreeable parlours, and a prospect of the gardens that could be enjoyed
easily from several of the windows. The internal completion, and what
pertained to mere ornament and finish, was gradually accomplished, and
served at the same time for occupation and amusement.

The first thing brought into order was my father's collection of
books, the best of which, in calf and half-calf binding, were to
ornament the walls of his office and study. He possessed the beautiful
Dutch editions of the Latin classics, which for the sake of outward
uniformity he had endeavoured to procure all in quarto; and also
many other works relating to Roman antiquities, and the more elegant
jurisprudence. The most eminent Italian poets were not wanting, and for
Tasso he showed a great predilection. There were also the best and most
recent Travels; and he took great delight in correcting and completing
Keyssler and Nemeiz from them. Nor had he omitted to surround himself
with all needful assistants to learning, such as dictionaries of
various languages, and encyclopedias of science and art, which with
much else adapted to profit and amusement, might be consulted at will.

The other half of this collection, in neat parchment bindings, with
very beautifully written titles, was placed in a separate attic. The
acquisition of new books, as well as their binding and arrangement,
he pursued with great composure and love of order: and he was much
influenced in his opinion by the critical notices that ascribed
particular merit to any work. His collection of juridical treatises was
annually increased by some volumes.

Next, the pictures, which in the old house had hung about
promiscuously, were now collected and symmetrically hung on the walls
of a cheerful room near the study, all in black frames, set off with
gilt mouldings. My father had a principle, which he often and strongly
expressed, that one ought to employ the living Masters, and to spend
less upon the departed, in the estimation of whom prejudice greatly
concurred. He had the notion that it was precisely the same with
pictures as with Rhenish wines, which, though age may impart to them a
higher value, can be produced in any coming year of just as excellent
quality as in years past. After the lapse of some time, the new wine
also becomes old, quite as valuable and perhaps more delicious. This
opinion he chiefly confirmed by the observation that many old pictures
seemed to derive their chief value for lovers of art from the fact
that they had become darker and browner; and that the harmony of tone
in such pictures was often vaunted. My father, on the other hand,
protested that he had no fear that the new pictures would not also turn
black in time, though whether they were likely to gain anything by this
he was not so positive.

[Side-note: Frankfurt Artists.]

In pursuance of these principles, he employed for many years the
whole of the Frankfort artists:--the painter HIRT, who excelled in
animating oak and beech woods, and other so-called rural scenes, with
cattle; TRAUTMANN, who had adopted Rembrandt as his model, and had
attained great perfection in inclosed lights and reflections, as well
as in effective conflagrations, so that he was once ordered to paint
a companion-piece to a Rembrandt; SCHÜTZ, who diligently elaborated
landscapes of the Rhine country, in the manner of SACHTLEBENS; and
JUNKER, who executed with great purity flower and fruit pieces, still
life, and figures quietly employed, after the models of the Dutch.
But now, by the new arrangement, by more convenient room, and still
more by the acquaintance of a skilful artist, our love of art was again
quickened and animated. This artist was SEEKATZ, a pupil of Brinkmann,
court-painter at Darmstadt, whose talent and character will be more
minutely unfolded in the sequel.

In this way, the remaining rooms were finished, according to their
several purposes. Cleanliness and order prevailed throughout. Above
all, the large panes of plate-glass contributed towards a perfect
lightness, which had been wanting in the old house for many causes, but
chiefly on account of the panes, which were for the most part round. My
father was cheerful on account of the success of his undertaking, and
if his good humour had not been often interrupted because the diligence
and exactness of the mechanics did not come up to his wishes, a happier
life than ours could not have been conceived, since much good partly
arose in the family itself, and partly flowed from without.

But an extraordinary event deeply disturbed the Boy's peace of mind,
for the first time. On the 1st of November, 1755, the earthquake at
Lisbon took place, and spread a prodigious alarm over the world, long
accustomed to peace and quiet. A great and magnificent capital, which
was, at the same time, a trading and mercantile city, is smitten,
without warning, by a most fearful calamity. The earth trembles and
totters, the sea roars up, ships dash together, houses fall in, and
over them churches and towers, the royal palace is in part swallowed
by the waters, the bursting land seems to vomit flames, since smoke
and fire are seen everywhere amid the ruins. Sixty thousand persons,
a moment before in case and comfort, fall together, and he is to be
deemed most fortunate who is no longer capable of a thought or feeling
about the disaster. The flames rage on, and with them rage a troop
of desperadoes, before concealed, or set at large by the event. The
wretched survivors are exposed to pillage, massacre, and every outrage:
and thus, on all sides, Nature asserts her boundless capriciousness.

[Side-note: Earthquake at Lisbon.]

Intimations of this event had spread over wide regions more quickly
than the authentic reports: slight shocks had been felt in many places:
in many springs, particularly those of a mineral nature, an unusual
receding of the waters had been remarked; and so much, the greater was
the effect of the accounts themselves, which were rapidly circulated,
at first in general terms, but finally with dreadful particulars.
Hereupon, the religious were neither wanting in reflections, nor the
philosophic in grounds for consolation, nor the clergy in warnings. So
complicated an event arrested the attention of the world for a long
time; and, as additional and more detailed accounts of the extensive
effects of this explosion came from every quarter, the minds already
aroused by the misfortunes of strangers, began to be more and more
anxious about themselves and their friends. Perhaps the demon of terror
had never so speedily and powerfully diffused his terrors over the

The Boy, who was compelled to put up with frequent repetitions of
the whole matter, was not a little staggered. God, the Creator and
Preserver of Heaven and Earth, whom the explanation of the first
article of the Creed declared so wise and benignant, having given
both the just and the unjust a prey to the same destruction, had not
manifested Himself, by any means, in a fatherly character. In vain
the young mind strove to resist these impressions. It was the more
impossible, as the wise and scripture-learned could not themselves
agree as to the light in which such a phenomenon should be regarded.

The next summer gave a closer opportunity of knowing directly that
angry God, of whom the Old Testament records so much. A sudden
hail-storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning, violently broke the
new panes at the back of our house, which looked towards the west,
damaged the new furniture, destroyed some valuable books and other
things of worth, and was the more terrible to the children, as the
whole household, quite beside themselves, dragged them into a dark
passage, where, on their knees, with frightful groans and cries, they
thought to conciliate the wrathful Deity. Meanwhile, my father, who
was alone self-possessed, forced open and unhinged the window-frames,
by which we saved much glass, but made a broader inlet for the rain
that followed the hail, so that after we were finally quieted, we found
ourselves in the rooms and on the stairs completely surrounded by
floods and streams of water.

These events, startling as they were on the whole, did not greatly
interrupt the course of instruction which my father himself had
undertaken to give us children. He had passed his youth in the Cobourg
Gymnasium, which stood as one of the first among German educational
institutions. He had there laid a good foundation in languages, and
other matters reckoned part of a learned education, had subsequently
applied himself to jurisprudence at Leipzig, and had at last taken
his degree at Giessen. His dissertation, "_Electa de aditione
Hereditatis_," which had been earnestly and carefully written, is yet
cited by jurists with approval.

It is a pious wish of all fathers to see what they have themselves
failed to attain, realized in their sons, as if in this way they
could live their lives over again, and, at last, make a proper use
of their early experience. Conscious of his acquirements, with the
certainty of faithful perseverance, and distrusting the teachers of
the day, my father undertook to instruct his own children, allowing
them to take particular lesson from particular masters only so far as
seemed absolutely necessary. A pedagogical _dilettantism_ was already
beginning to show itself everywhere. The pedantry and heaviness of the
masters appointed in the public schools had probably given rise to
this evil. Something better was sought for, but it was forgotten how
defective all instruction must be, which is not given by persons who
are teachers by profession.

My father had prospered in his own career tolerably according to his
wishes: I was to follow the same course, only more easily, and much
farther. He prized my natural endowments the more, because he was
himself wanting in them; for he had acquired everything only by means
of unspeakable diligence, pertinacity, and repetition. He often assured
me, early and late, both in jest and earnest, that with my talents he
would have deported himself very differently, and would not have turned
them to such small account.

[Side-note: Juvenile Studies.]

By means of a ready apprehension, practice, and a good, memory, I very
soon outgrew the instructions which my father and the other teachers
were able to give, without being thoroughly grounded in anything.
Grammar displeased me, because I regarded it as a mere arbitrary law;
the rules seemed ridiculous, inasmuch as they were invalidated by so
many exceptions, which had all to be learned by themselves. And if the
first Latin work had not been in rhyme, I should have got on but badly
in that; but as it was, I hummed and sang it to myself readily enough.
In the same way we had a Geography in memory-verses, in which the most
wretched doggerel best served to fix the recollection of that which was
to be retained: _e. g.:_

    Upper-Yssel has many a fen,
    Which makes it hateful to all men.

The forms and inflections of language I caught with ease; and I also
quickly unravelled what lay in the conception of a thing. In rhetoric,
composition, and such matters, no one excelled me, although I was often
put back for faults of grammar. Yet these were the attempts that gave
my father particular pleasure, and for which he rewarded me with many
presents of money, considerable for such a lad.

My father taught my sister Italian in the same room in which I had to
commit Cellarius to memory. As I was soon ready with my task, and was
yet obliged to sit quiet, I listened with my book before me, and very
readily caught the Italian, which struck me as an agreeable softening
of Latin.

Other precocities, with respect to memory and the power to combine,
I possessed in common with those children who thus acquire an early
reputation. For that reason my father could scarcely wait for me to
go to college. He very soon declared, that I must study jurisprudence
in Leipzig, for which he retained a strong predilection, and I was
afterwards to visit some other university and take my degree. As for
this second one he was indifferent which I might choose, except that
he had for some reason or other a disinclination to Göttingen, to my
disappointment, since it was precisely there that I had placed such
confidence and high hopes.

He told me further, that I was to go to Wetzlar and Ratisbon as well as
to Vienna, and thence towards Italy, although he repeatedly mentioned
that Paris should first be seen, because after coming out of Italy
nothing else could be pleasing.

These tales of my future youthful travels, often as they were repeated,
I listened to eagerly, the more since they always led to accounts of
Italy, and at last to a description of Naples. His otherwise serious
and dry manner seemed on these occasions to relax and quicken, and thus
a passionate wish awoke in us children to participate in the paradise
he described.

Private lessons, which now gradually multiplied, were shared with the
children of the neighbours. This learning in common did not advance
me; the teachers followed their routine; and the rudeness, sometimes
the ill-nature, of my companions, interrupted the brief hours of study
with tumult, vexation, and disturbance. Chrestomathies, by which
learn learning is made pleasant and varied, had not yet reached us.
Cornelius Nepos, so dry to young people, the New Testament which was
much too easy, and which by preaching and religious instructions had
been rendered even common-place, Cellarius and Pasor could impart no
kind of interest; on the other hand, a certain rage for rhyme and
versification, a consequence of reading the prevalent German poets,
took complete possession of us. Me it had seized much earlier, as I
had found it agreeable to pass from the rhetorical to the poetical
treatment of subjects.

We boys held a Sunday assembly where each of us was to produce original
verses. And here I was struck by something strange, which long caused
me uneasiness. My poems, whatever they might be, always seemed to me
the best. But I soon remarked, that my competitors who brought forth
very lame affairs, were in the same condition, and thought no less of
themselves. Nay, what appeared yet more suspicious, a good lad (though
in such matters altogether unskilful), whom I liked in other respects,
but who had his rhymes made by his tutor, not only regarded these as
the best, but was thoroughly persuaded they were his own, as he always
maintained in our confidential intercourse. Now, as this illusion and
error was obvious to me, the question one day forced itself upon me,
whether I myself might not be in the same state, whether those poems
were not really better than mine, and whether I might not justly appear
to those boys as mad as they to me? This disturbed me much and long;
for it was altogether impossible for me to find any external criterion
of the truth; I even ceased from producing, until at length I was
quieted by my own light temperament, and the feeling of my own powers,
and lastly by a trial of skill--started on the spur of the moment by
our teachers and parents, who had noted our sport--in which I came off
well and won general praise.

No libraries for children had at that time been established. The old
had themselves still childish notions, and found it convenient to
impart their own education to their successors. Except the _Orbis
Pictus_ of Amos Comenius, no book of the sort fell into our hands; but
the large folio Bible, with copperplates by Merian, was diligently gone
over leaf by leaf: Gottfried's Chronicles, with plates by the same
master, taught us the most notable events of Universal History; the
_Acerra Philologica_ added thereto all sorts of fables, mythologies and
wonders; and, as I soon became familiar with Ovid's Metamorphoses, the
first books of which in particular I studied carefully, my young brain
was rapidly furnished with a mass of images and events, of significant
and wonderful shapes and occurrences, and I never felt time hang upon
my hands, as I always occupied myself in working over, repeating, and
reproducing these acquisitions.

[Side-note: Popular Works.]

A more salutary moral effect than that of these rude and hazardous
antiquities, was produced by Fénelon's _Telemachus_, with which I first
became acquainted in Neukirch's translation, and which, imperfectly
as it was executed, had a sweet and beneficent influence on my mind.
That _Robinson Crusoe_ was added in due time, follows in the nature
of things; and it may be imagined that the _Island of Falsenberg_
was not wanting. Lord Anson's _Voyage round the Globe_ combined the
dignity of truth with the rich fancies of fable, and while our thoughts
accompanied this excellent seaman, we were conducted over all the
world, and endeavoured to follow him with our fingers on the globe. But
a still richer harvest was to spring up before me, when I lighted on a
mass of writings, which, in their present state, it is true, cannot be
called excellent, but the contents of which, in a harmless way, bring
near to us many a meritorious action of former times.

The publication, or rather the manufacture, of those books which have
at a later day become so well known and celebrated under the name
_Volkschriften, Volksbücher_ (popular works or books), was carried on
in Frankfort. The enormous sales they met with, led to their being
almost illegibly printed from stereotypes on horrible blotting-paper.
We children were so fortunate as to find these precious remains of the
Middle Ages every day on a little table at the door of a dealer in
cheap books, and to obtain them at the cost of a couple of _kreutzer._
The Eulenspiegel, the Four Sons of Haimon, the Emperor Octavian, the
Fair Melusina, the Beautiful Magelone, Fortunatus, with the whole race
down to the Wandering Jew, were all at our service, as often as we
preferred the relish of these works to the taste of sweet things. The
greatest benefit of this was, that when we had read through or damaged
such a sheet, it could soon be reprocured and swallowed a second time.

As a family pic-nic in summer is vexatiously disturbed by a sudden
storm, which transforms a pleasant state of things into the very
reverse, so the diseases of childhood fall unexpectedly on the most
beautiful season of early life. And thus it happened with me. I had
just purchased Fortunatus with his Purse and Wishing-hat, when I was
attacked by a restlessness and fever which announced the small-pox.
Inoculation was still with us considered very problematical, and
although it had already been intelligibly and urgently recommended
by popular writers, the German physicians hesitated to perform an
operation that seemed to forestall Nature. Speculative Englishmen,
therefore, had come to the Continent and inoculated, for a considerable
fee, the children of such persons as were opulent and free from
prejudices. Still the majority were exposed to the old disease; the
infection raged through families, killed and disfigured many children;
and few parents dared to avail themselves of a method, the probable
efficacy of which had been abundantly confirmed by the result. The
evil now invaded our house and attacked me with unusual severity.
My whole body was sown over with spots, and my race covered, and
for several days I lay blind and in great pain. They tried the only
possible alleviation, and promised me heaps of gold if I would keep
quiet and not increase the mischief by rubbing and scratching. I
controlled myself, while, according to the prevailing prejudice, they
kept me as warm as possible, and thus only rendered my suffering more
acute. At last, after a woful time, there fell as it were a mask from
my face. The blotches had left no visible mark upon the skin, but the
features were plainly altered. I myself was satisfied merely with
seeing the light of day again, and gradually putting off my spotted
skin; but others were pitiless enough to remind me often of my previous
condition; especially a very lively aunt, who had formerly regarded
me with idolatry, but in after years could seldom look at me without
exclaiming--"The deuce, cousin! what a fright he's grown!" Then she
would tell me circumstantially how I had once been her delight, and
what attention she had excited when she carried me about; and thus I
early learned that people very often subject us to a severe atonement
for the pleasure which we have afforded them.

[Side-note: Diseases of Childhood.]

I neither escaped measles, nor chicken-pox, nor any other of the
tormenting demons of childhood; and I was assured each time that it
was a great piece of good luck that this malady was now past for ever.
But, alas! another again threatened in the back-ground, and advanced.
All these things increased my propensity to reflection; and as I
had already practised myself in fortitude, in order to remove the
torture of impatience, the virtues which I had heard praised in the
Stoics appeared to me highly worthy of imitation, and the more so, as
something similar was commended by the Christian doctrine of patience.

While on the subject of these family diseases, I will mention a brother
about three years younger than myself, who was likewise attacked by
that infection, and suffered not a little from it. He was of a tender
nature, quiet and capricious, and we were never on the most friendly
terms. Besides, he scarcely survived the years of childhood. Among
several other children born afterwards, who like him did not live long,
I only remember a very pretty and agreeable girl, who also soon passed
away; so that, after the lapse of some years, my sister and I remained
alone, and were therefore the more deeply and affectionately attached
to each other.

These maladies and other unpleasant interruptions were in their
consequences doubly grievous; for my father, who seemed to have laid
down for himself a certain calendar of education and instruction, was
resolved immediately to repair every delay, and imposed double lessons
upon the young convalescent. These were not hard for me to accomplish,
but were so far troublesome, that they hindered, and to a certain
extent repressed, my inward development, which had taken a decided

From these didactic and pedagogic oppressions, we commonly fled to
my grandfather and grandmother. Their house stood in the _Friedberg_
street, and appeared to have been formerly a fortress; for, on
approaching it, nothing was seen but a large gate with battlements,
which were joined on either side to the two neighbouring houses. On
entering through a narrow passage, we reached at last a tolerably broad
court, surrounded by irregular buildings, which were now all united
into one dwelling. We usually hastened at once into the garden, which
extended to a considerable length and breadth behind the buildings, and
was very well kept. The walks were mostly skirted by vine trellises;
one part of the space was used for vegetables, and another devoted to
flowers, which from spring till autumn adorned in rich succession the
borders as well as the beds. The long wall erected towards the south
was used for some well-trained espalier peach-trees, the forbidden
fruit of which ripened temptingly before us through the summer. Yet we
rather avoided this side, because we here could not satisfy our dainty
appetites; and we turned to the side opposite, where an interminable
row of currant and gooseberry bushes furnished our voracity with a
succession of harvests till autumn. Not less important to us was an
old, high, wide-spreading mulberry-tree, both on account of its fruits,
and because we were told that the silk-worms fed upon its leaves. In
this peaceful region my grandfather was found every evening, tending
with genial care and with his own hand the finer growths of fruits and
flowers; while a gardener managed the drudgery. He was never vexed by
the various toils which were necessary to preserve and increase a fine
show of pinks. The branches of the peach-trees were carefully tied to
the espaliers with his own hands, in a fan-shape, in order to bring
about a full and easy growth of the fruit. The sorting of the bulbs of
tulips, hyacinths, and plants of a similar nature, as well as the care
of their preservation, he entrusted to none; and I still with pleasure
recall to my mind how diligently he occupied himself in inoculating
the different varieties of roses. That he might protect himself from
the thorns, he put on a pair of those ancient leather gloves, of which
three pair were given him annually at the Piper's Court, so that there
was no dearth of the article. He wore also a loose dressing-gown, and a
folded black velvet cap upon his head, so that he might have passed for
an intermediate person between Alcinoüs and Laërtes.

[Side-note: Goethe's Maternal Grandfather.]

All this work in the garden he pursued as regularly and with as much
precision as his official business; for, before he came down, he always
arranged the list of causes for the next day, and read the legal
papers. In the morning he proceeded to the Council House, dined after
his return, then nodded in his easy chair, and so went through the same
routine every day. He conversed little, never exhibited any vehemence
and I do not remember ever to have seen him angry. All that surrounded
him was in the fashion of the olden time. I never perceived any
alteration in his wainscotted room. His library contained, besides law
works, only the earliest books of travels, sea voyages, and discoveries
of countries. Altogether I can call to mind no situation more adapted
than his to awaken the feeling of uninterrupted peace and eternal

But the reverence which we entertained for this venerable old man was
raised to the highest degree by a conviction that he possessed the
gift of prophecy, especially in matters that pertained to himself and
his destiny. It is true he revealed himself to no one, distinctly and
minutely, except to my grandmother; yet we were all aware that he was
informed of what was going to happen, by significant dreams. He assured
his wife, for instance, at a time when he was still junior Councillor,
that on the first vacancy he would obtain the place left open on
the bench of the _Schöffen_; and soon afterwards when one of those
officers actually died of apoplexy, my grandfather gave orders that
his house should be quietly got ready prepared on the day of electing
and balloting, to receive his guests and congratulators. Sure enough,
the decisive gold ball was drawn in his favour. The simple dream by
which he had learned this, he confided to his wife as follows: He had
seen himself in the ordinary full assembly of Councilmen, where all
went on just as usual. Suddenly, the late _Schöff_ rose from his seat,
descended the steps, pressed him in the most complimentary manner to
take the vacant place, and then departed by the door.

Something like this occurred on the death of the _Schultheiss._ They
make no delay in supplying this place, as they always have to fear that
the Emperor will at some time resume his ancient right of nominating
the officer. On this occasion, the messenger of the Court came at
midnight to summon an extraordinary session for the next morning;
and as the light in his lantern was about to expire, he asked for a
candle's end to help him on his way. "Give him a whole one," said my
grandfather to the ladies, "he takes the trouble all on my account."
This expression anticipated the result--he was made _Schultheiss_;
and what rendered the circumstance particularly remarkable was, that
although his representative was the third and last to draw at the
ballot, the two silver balls first came out, leaving the golden ball at
the bottom of the bag for him.

Perfectly prosaic, simple, and without a trace of the fantastic
or miraculous, were the other dreams, of which we were informed.
Moreover, I remember that once, as a boy, I was turning over his
books and memoranda, and found among some other remarks which related
to gardening, such sentences as these: "To-night N. N. came to me
and said----" the name and revelation being written in cipher; or
"This night I saw----" all the rest being again in cipher, except the
conjunctions and similar words, from which nothing could be learned.

It is worthy of note also, that persons who showed no signs of
prophetic insight at other times, acquired, for the moment, while
in his presence, and that by means of some sensible evidence,
presentiments of diseases or deaths which were then occurring in
distant places. But no such gift has been transmitted to any of his
children or grandchildren, who for the most part have been hearty
people, enjoying life, and never going beyond the Actual.

While on this subject, I remember with gratitude many kindnesses I
received from them in my youth. Thus, for example, we were employed and
entertained in many ways when we visited the second daughter, married
to the druggist Melbert, whose house and shop stood near the market, in
the midst of the liveliest and most crowded part of the town. There we
could look down from the windows pleasantly enough upon the hurly-burly
in which we feared to lose ourselves; and though, at first, of all the
goods in the shop, nothing had much interest for us but the liquorice,
and the little brown stamped cakes made from it, we became in time
better acquainted with the multitude of articles bought and sold in
that business. This aunt was the most vivacious of all the family. When
my mother, in her early years, took pleasure in being neatly dressed,
working at some domestic occupation, or reading a book, the other,
on the contrary, ran about the neighbourhood to pick up neglected
children, take care of them, comb them, and carry them round, as
indeed she did me for a good while. At a time of public festivities,
such as coronations, it was impossible to keep her at home. When a
little child, she had already scrambled for the money scattered on such
occasions; and it was related of her, that once when she had got a good
many together, and was looking at them with great delight in the palm
of her hand, it was struck by somebody, and all her well-earned booty
vanished at a blow. There was another incident of which she was very
proud. Once, while standing on a post as the Emperor Charles VII. was
passing, at a moment when all the people were silent, she shouted a
vigorous "Vivat!" into the coach, which made him take off his hat to
her, and thank her quite graciously for her bold salutation.

Everything in her house was stirring, lively, and cheerful, and we
children owed her many a gay hour.

[Side-note: Religious Instruction.]

In a quieter situation, which was however suited to her character,
was a second aunt, married to the Pastor Stark, incumbent of St.
Catharine's Church. He lived much alone, in accordance with his
temperament and vocation, and possessed a fine library. Here I first
became acquainted with Homer, in a prose translation, which may be
found in the seventh part of Herr Von Loen's new collection of the
most remarkable travels, under the title, _Homer's Description of the
Conquest of the Kingdom of Troy_, ornamented with copper-plates, in the
theatrical French taste. These pictures perverted my imagination to
such a degree, that for a long time I could conceive the Homeric heroes
only under such forms. The incidents themselves gave me unspeakable
delight; though I found great fault with the work for affording us no
account of the capture of Troy, and breaking off so abruptly Math the
death of Hector. My uncle, to whom I mentioned this defect, referred me
to Virgil, who perfectly satisfied my demands.

It will be taken for granted, that we children had among our other
lessons, a continued and progressive instruction in religion. But the
Church-Protestantism imparted to us was, properly speaking, nothing
but a kind of dry morality: ingenious exposition was not thought
of; and the doctrine appealed neither to the understanding nor to
the heart. For that reason, there were various secessions from the
Established Church. Separatists, Pietists, Herrnhuter (Moravians),
Quiet-in-the-Lands, and others differently named and characterized
sprang up, all of whom were animated by the same purpose of approaching
the Deity, especially through Christ, more closely than seemed to them
possible under the forms of the established religion.

The Boy heard these opinions and sentiments constantly spoken of;
for the clergy as well as the laity divided themselves into _pro_
and _con._ The minority were composed of those who dissented more or
less broadly, but their modes of thinking attracted by originality,
heartiness, perseverance, and independence. All sorts of stories were
told of their virtues and of the way in which they were manifested.
The reply of a pious master-tinman was especially noted, who, when
one of his craft attempted to shame him by asking "who is really
your confessor?" answered with great cheerfulness and confidence in
the goodness of his cause,--"I have a famous one--no less than the
confessor of King David."

Things of this sort naturally made an impression on the Boy, and led
him into similar states of mind. In fact, he came to the thought that
he might immediately approach the great God of Nature, the Creator and
Preserver of Heaven and Earth, whose earlier manifestations of wrath
had been long forgotten in the beauty of the world, and the manifold
blessings in which we participate while upon it. The way he took to
accomplish this was very curious.

The Boy had chiefly kept to the first article of Belief. The God who
stands in immediate connexion with nature, and owns and loves it as his
work, seemed to him the proper God, who might be brought into closer
relationship with man, as with everything else, and who would take
care of him, as of the motion of the stars, the days and seasons, the
animals and plants. There were texts of the Gospels which explicitly
stated this. The Boy could ascribe no form to this Being; he therefore
sought Him in His works, and would, in the good Old Testament fashion,
build Him an altar. Natural productions were set forth as images of
the world, over which a flame was to bum, signifying the aspirations
of man's heart towards his Maker. He brought out of the collection of
natural objects which he possessed, and which had been increased as
chance directed, the best ores and other specimens.

[Side-note: The Boy-Priest.]

But the next difficulty was, as to how they should be arranged and
raised into a pile. His father possessed a beautiful red-lackered
music-stand, ornamented with gilt flowers, in the form of a four-sided
pyramid, with different elevations, which had been found convenient
for quartets, but lately was not much in use. The Boy laid hands on
this, and built up his representatives of Nature one above the other
in steps, so that it all looked quite pretty and at the same time
sufficiently significant. On an early sunrise his first worship of God
was to be celebrated, but the young priest had not yet settled how
to produce a flame which should at the same time emit an agreeable
odour. At last it occurred to him to combine the two, as he possessed
a few fumigating pastils, which diffused a pleasant fragrance with a
glimmer, if not with a flame. Nay, this soft burning and exhalation
seemed a better representation of what passes in the heart, than
an open flame. The sun had already risen for a long time, but the
neigbouring houses concealed the East. At last it glittered above
the roofs, a burning-glass was at once taken up and applied to the
pastils, which were fixed on the summit in a fine porcelain saucer.
Everything succeeded according to the wish, and the devotion was
perfect. The altar remained as a peculiar ornament of the room which
had been assigned him in the new house. Every one regarded it only
as a well-arranged collection of natural curiosities. The Boy knew
better, but concealed his knowledge. He longed for a repetition of the
solemnity. But unfortunately, just as the most opportune sun arose,
the porcelain cup was not at hand; he placed the pastils immediately
on the upper surface of the stand; they were kindled, and so great was
the devotion of the priest, that he did not observe, until it was too
late, the mischief his sacrifice was doing. The pastils had burned
mercilessly into the red lacker and beautiful gold flowers, and as if
some evil spirit had disappeared, had left their black, ineffaceable
footprints. By this the young priest was thrown into the most extreme
perplexity. The mischief could be covered up, it was true, with the
larger pieces of his show-materials, but the spirit for new offerings
was gone, and the accident might almost be considered a hint and
warning of the danger there always is in wishing to approach the Deity
in such a way.

[1] A chief judge or magistrate of the town.

[2] An old silver coin.


All that has been hitherto recorded indicates that happy and easy
condition in which nations exist during a long peace. But nowhere
probably is such a beautiful time enjoyed in greater comfort than in
cities living under their own laws, and large enough to include a
considerable number of citizens, and so situated as to enrich them by
trade and commerce. Strangers find it to their advantage to come and
go, and are under a necessity of bringing profit in order to acquire
profit. Even if such cities rule but a small territory, they are
the better qualified to advance their internal prosperity, as their
external relations expose them to no costly undertakings or alliances.

Thus, the Frankforters passed a series of prosperous years during my
childhood; but scarcely, on the 28th of August, 1756, had I completed
my seventh year, than that world-renowned war broke out, which was
also to exert great influence upon the next seven years of my life.
Frederick the Second, King of Prussia, had fallen upon Saxony, with
sixty thousand men; and instead of announcing his invasion by a
declaration of war, he followed it up with a manifesto, composed by
himself, as it was said, which explained the causes that had moved
and justified him in so monstrous a step. The world, which saw itself
appealed to not merely as spectator but as judge, immediately split
into two parties, and our family was an image of the great whole.

My grandfather, who, as _Schöff_ of Frankfort, had carried the
coronation canopy over Francis the First, and had received from the
Empress a heavy gold chain with her likeness, took the Austrian side
along with some of his sons-in-law and daughters. My father having
been nominated to the imperial council by Charles the Seventh,
and sympathising sincerely in the fate of that unhappy monarch,
leaned towards Prussia, with the other and smaller half of the
family. Our meetings, which had been held on Sundays for many years
uninterruptedly, were very soon disturbed. The misunderstandings so
common among relatives by marriage, now first found a form in which
they could be expressed. Contention, discord, silence, and separation
ensued. My grandfather, otherwise a serene, quiet, and easy man,
became impatient. The women vainly endeavoured to smother the flames;
and after some unpleasant scenes, my father was the first to quit the
society. At home now we rejoiced undisturbed in the Prussian victories,
which were commonly announced with great glee by our vivacious aunt.
Every other interest was forced to give way to this, and we passed the
rest of the year in perpetual agitation. The occupation of Dresden, the
moderation of the king at the outset, his slow but secure advances, the
victory at Lowositz, the capture of the Saxons, were so many triumphs
for our party. Everything that could be alleged for the advantage of
our opponents was denied or depreciated; and as the members of the
family on the other side did the same, they could not meet in the
streets without disputes arising, as in _Romeo and Juliet._

[Side-note: Family Disputes.]

Thus I also was then a Prussian in my views, or, to speak more
correctly, a Fritzian; since what cared we for Prussia? It was the
personal character of the great king that worked upon all hearts. I
rejoiced with my father in our conquests, readily copied the songs of
triumph, and almost more willingly the lampoons directed against the
other party, poor as the rhymes might be.

As the eldest grandson and godchild, I had dined every Sunday since my
infancy with my grandfather and grandmother, and the hours so spent
had been the most delightful of the whole week. But now I relished no
morsel that I tasted, because I was compelled to hear the most horrible
slanders of my hero. Here blew another wind, here sounded another tone
than at home. My liking and even my respect for my grandfather and
grandmother fell off. I could mention nothing of this to my parents,
but avoided the matter, both on account of my own feelings, and because
I had been warned by my mother. In this way I was thrown back upon
myself; and as in my sixth year, after the earthquake at Lisbon, the
goodness of God had become to me in some measure suspicious, so I began
now, on account of Frederick the Second, to doubt the justice of the
public. My heart was naturally inclined to reverence, and it required
a great shock to stagger my faith in anything that was venerable. But
alas! they had commended good manners and a becoming deportment to
us, not for their own sake, but for the sake of the people. What will
people say? was always the cry, and I thought that the people must
be right good people, and would know how to judge of anything and
everything. But my experience went just to the contrary. The greatest
and most signal services were defamed and attacked; the noblest deeds,
if not denied, were at least misrepresented and diminished; and this
base injustice was done to the only man who was manifestly elevated
above all his contemporaries, and who daily proved what he was able
to do,--and that, not by the populace, but by distinguished men, as I
took my grandfather and uncles to be. That parties existed, and that he
himself belonged to a party, had never entered into the conceptions of
the Boy. He, therefore, believed himself all the more right, and dared
hold his own opinion for the better one, since he and those of like
mind appreciated the beauty and other good qualities of Maria Theresa,
and even did not grudge the Emperor Francis his love of jewelry and
money. That Count Daun was often called an old dozer, they thought

But now I consider the matter more closely, I trace here the germ
of that disregard and even disdain of the public, which clung to me
for a whole period of my life, and only in later days was brought
within bounds by insight and cultivation. Suffice it to say, that the
perception of the injustice of parties had even then a very unpleasant,
nay, an injurious effect upon the Boy, as it accustomed him to separate
himself from beloved and highly-valued persons. The quick succession
of battles and events left the parties neither quiet nor rest. We ever
found a malicious delight in reviving and re-sharpening those imaginary
evils and capricious disputes; and thus we continued to tease each
other, until the occupation of Frankfort by the French some years
afterwards, brought real inconvenience into our homes.

[Side-note: In-door Amusements.]

Although to most of us the important events occurring in distant parts
served only for topics of ardent controversy, there were others who
perceived the seriousness of the times, and feared that the sympathy
of France might open a scene of war in our own vicinity. They kept
us children at home more than before, and strove in many ways to
occupy and amuse us. With this view, the puppet-show bequeathed by our
grandmother was again brought forth, and arranged in such a way that
the spectators sat in my gable room, while the persons managing and
performing, as well as the theatre itself as far as the proscenium,
found a place in the room adjoining. We were allowed, as a special
favour, to invite first one and then another of the neighbours'
children as spectators, and thus at the outset I gained many friends;
but the restlessness inherent in children, did not suffer them to
remain long a patient audience. They interrupted the play, and we
were compelled to seek a younger public, which could at any rate be
kept in order by the nurses and maids. The original drama to which
the puppets had been specially adapted, we had learnt by heart, and
in the beginning this was exclusively performed. Soon growing weary
of it, however, we changed the dresses and decorations, and attempted
various other pieces, which were indeed on too grand a scale for so
narrow a stage. Although this presumption spoiled and finally quite
destroyed what we performed, such childish pleasures and employments
nevertheless exercised and advanced in many ways my power of invention
and representation, my fancy and a certain technical skill, to a degree
which in any other way could not perhaps have been secured in so short
a time, in so confined a space, and at so little expense.

I had early learned to use compasses and ruler, because all the
instructions they gave me in geometry were forthwith put into practice,
and I occupied myself greatly with pasteboard-work. I did not stop at
geometrical figures, little boxes, and such things, but invented pretty
pleasure-houses adorned with pilasters, steps, and flat roofs. However,
but little of this was completed.

Far more persevering was I, on the other hand, in arranging, with
the help of our domestic (a tailor by trade), an armoury for the
service of our plays and tragedies, which we ourselves performed
with delight when we had outgrown the puppets. My playfellows, too,
prepared for themselves such armouries, which they regarded as quite
as fine and good as mine; but I had made provision not for the wants
of one person only, and could furnish several of the little band with
every requisite, and thus made myself more and more indispensable to
our little circle. That such games tended to factions, quarrels, and
blows, and commonly came to a sad end in tumult and vexation, may
easily be supposed. In such cases certain of my companions generally
took part with me, while others sided against me; though many changes
of party occurred. One single boy, whom I will-call Pylades, urged by
the others, once only left my party, but could scarcely for a moment
maintain his hostile position. We were reconciled amid many tears, and
for a long time afterwards kept faithfully together.

To him, as well as other well-wishers, I could render myself very
agreeable by telling tales, which they most delighted to near when I
was the hero of my own story. It greatly rejoiced them to know that
such wonderful things could befall one of their own playfellows; nor
was it any harm that they did not understand how I could find time and
space for such adventures, as they must have been pretty well aware
of all my comings and goings, and how I was occupied the entire day.
Not the less necessary was it for me to select the localities of these
occurrences, if not in another world, at least in another spot; and
yet all was told as having taken place only to-day or yesterday. They
rather, therefore, deceived themselves, than were imposed upon by me.
If I had not gradually learned, in accordance with the instincts of my
nature, to work up these visions and conceits into artistic forms, such
vain-glorious beginnings could not have gone on without producing evil
consequences for myself in the end.

Considering this impulse more closely, we may see in it that
presumption with which the poet authoritatively utters the greatest
improbabilities, and requires every one to recognise as real whatever
may in any way seem to him, the inventor, as true.

But what is here told only in general terms, and by way of reflection,
will perhaps become more apparent and interesting by means of an
example. I subjoin, therefore, one of these tales, which, as I often
had to repeat it to my comrades, still hovers entire in my imagination
and memory.



On the night before Whit Sunday, not long since, I dreamed that I
stood before a mirror, engaged with the new summer clothes which my
dear parents had given me for the holiday. The dress consisted, as you
know, of shoes of polished leather, with large silver buckles, fine
cotton stockings, black nether garments of serge, and a coat of green
baracan with gold buttons. The waistcoat of gold cloth was cut out of
my father's bridal waistcoat. My hair had been frizzled and powdered,
and my curls stuck out from my head like little wings; but I could
not finish dressing myself, because I kept confusing the different
articles, the first always falling off as soon as I was about to put
on the next. In this dilemma, a young and handsome man came to me, and
greeted me in the friendliest manner. "O! you are welcome!" said I,
"I am very glad to see you here." "Do you know me, then?" replied he,
smiling. "Why not?" was my no less smiling answer; "you are Mercury--I
have often enough seen you represented in pictures." "I am, indeed,"
replied he; "and am sent to you by the gods on an important errand.
Do you see these three apples?"--he stretched forth his hand, and
showed me three apples, which it could hardly hold, and which were as
wonderfully beautiful as they were large, the one of a red, the other
of a yellow, the third of a green colour. One could not help thinking
they were precious stones made into the form of fruit. I would have
snatched them, but he drew back, and said, "You must know, in the first
place, that they are not for you. You must give them to the three
handsomest youths of the city, who then, each according to his lot,
will find wives to the utmost of their wishes. Take them, and success
to you!" said he, as he departed, leaving the apples in my open hands.
They appeared to me to have become still larger. I held them up at
once against the light and found them quite transparent; but soon they
expanded upwards, and became three beautiful little ladies, about as
large as middle-sized dolls, whose clothes were of the colours of the
apples. They glided gently up my fingers, and when I was about to catch
at them, to make sure of one at least, they had already soared high and
far, and I had to put up with the disappointment. I stood there alt
amazed and petrified, holding up my hands and staring at my fingers,
as if there were still something on them to see. Suddenly I beheld,
upon the very tips, a most lovely girl dancing, smaller than those, but
pretty and lively, and as she did not fly away like the others, but
remained dancing, now on one finger-point now on another, I regarded
her for a long while with admiration. And, as she pleased me so much,
I thought in the end I could catch her, and made as I fancied a very
adroit grasp. But at the moment I felt such a blow on my head, that I
fell down stunned, and did not awake from my stupor till it was time to
dress myself and go to church.

During the service I often recalled those images to mind; and also when
I was eating dinner at my grand-father's table. In the afternoon, I
wished to visit some friends, partly to show myself in my now dress,
with my hat under my arm and my sword by my side, and partly to return
their visits. I found no one at home, and, as I heard that they were
gone to the gardens, I resolved to follow them, and pass the evening
pleasantly. My way led towards the entrenchments, and I came to the
spot which is rightly called the Bad Wall; for it is never quite safe
from ghosts there. I walked slowly, and thought of my three goddesses,
but especially of the little nymph; and often held up my fingers, in
hopes she might be kind enough to balance herself there again. With
such thoughts I was proceeding, when I saw in the wall on my left hand
a little gate, which I did not remember to have ever noticed before.
It looked low, but its pointed arch would have allowed the tallest man
to enter. Arch and wall were chiselled out in the handsomest way, both
by mason and sculptor; but it was the door itself which first properly
attracted my attention. The old brown wood, though slightly ornamented,
was crossed with broad bands of brass, wrought both in relief and
intaglio. The foliage on these, with the most natural birds sitting in
it, I could not sufficiently admire. But, what seemed most remarkable,
no keyhole could be seen, no latch, no knocker; and from this I
conjectured that the door could be opened only from within. I was not
in error; for when I went nearer, in order to touch the ornaments,
it opened inwards, and there appeared a man whose dress was somewhat
long, wide, and singular. A venerable beard enveloped his chin, so
that I was inclined to think him a Jew. But he, as if he had divined
my thoughts, made the sign of the Holy Cross, by which he gave me to
understand that he was a good Catholic Christian. "Young gentleman,
how came you here, and what are you doing?"--he said to me, with a
friendly voice and manner. "I am admiring," I replied, "the workmanship
of this door; for I have never seen anything like it, except in some
small pieces in the collections of amateurs." "I am glad," he answered,
"that you like such works. The door is much more beautiful inside. Come
in, if you like." My heart, in some degree, failed me. The mysterious
dress of the porter, the seclusion, and a something, I know not what,
that seemed to be in the air, oppressed me. I paused, therefore, under
the pretext of examining the outside still longer; and at the same
time I cast stolen glances into the garden, for a garden it was which
had opened before me. Just inside the door I saw a space. Old linden
trees, standing at regular distances from each other, entirely covered
it with their thickly interwoven branches, so that the most numerous
parties, during the hottest of the day, might have refreshed themselves
in the shade. Already I had stepped upon the threshold, and the old
man contrived gradually to allure me on. Properly speaking, I did not
resist; for I had always heard that a prince or sultan in such a case
must never ask whether there be danger at hand. I had my sword by my
side, too; and could I not soon have finished with the old man, in case
of hostile demonstrations? I therefore entered perfectly reassured; the
keeper closed the door, which bolted so softly that I scarcely heard
it. He now showed me the workmanship on the inside, which in truth
was still more artistic than the outside, explained it to me, and at
the same time manifested particular good-will. Being thus entirely
at my ease, I let myself be guided in the shaded space by the wall,
that formed a circle, where I found much to admire. Niches tastefully
adorned with shells, corals, and pieces of ore, poured a profusion of
water from the mouths of Tritons into marble basins. Between them were
aviaries and other lattice-work, in which squirrels frisked about,
guinea-pigs ran hither and thither, with as many other pretty little
creatures as one could wish to see. The birds called and sang to us as
we advanced; the starlings particularly chattered the silliest stuff.
One always cried, Paris! Paris! and the other Narcissus! Narcissus! as
plainly as a schoolboy can say them. The old man seemed to continue
looking at me earnestly while the birds called out thus, but I feigned
not to notice it, and had in truth no time to attend to him; for I
could easily perceive that we went round and round, and that this
shaded space was in fact a great circle, which inclosed another much
more important. Indeed we had actually reached the small door again,
and it seemed as though the old man would let me out. But my eyes
remained directed towards a golden railing, which seemed to hedge round
the middle of this wonderful garden, and which I had found means enough
of observing in our walk, although the old man managed to keep me
always close to the wall, and therefore pretty far from the centre. And
now, just as he was going to the door, I said to him, with a bow, "You
have been so extremely kind to me, that I would fain venture to make
one more request before I part from you. Might I not look more closely
at that golden railing, which appears to inclose in a very wide circle
the interior of the garden?" "Very willingly," replied he: "but in that
case you must submit to some conditions." "In what do they consist?" I
asked hastily. "You must leave here your hat and sword, and must not
let go my hand while I accompany you." "Most willingly," I replied;
and laid my hat and sword on the nearest stone bench. Immediately he
grasped my left hand with his right, held it fast, and led me with some
force straight forwards. When we reached the railing, my wonder changed
into amazement. On a high socle of marble stood innumerable spears
and partisans, ranged beneath each other, joined by their strangely
ornamented points, and forming a complete circle. I looked through the
intervals, and saw just behind a gently flowing piece of water, bounded
on both sides by marble, and displaying in its clear depths a multitude
of gold and silver fish, which moved about now slowly and now swiftly,
now alone and now in shoals. I would also fain have looked beyond the
canal, to see what there was in the heart of the garden. But I found,
to my great sorrow, that the other side of the water was bordered by
a similar railing, and with so much art, that to each interval on
this side exactly fitted a spear or partisan on the other. These and
the other ornaments rendered it impossible for one to see through,
stand as one would. Besides, the old man, who still held me fast,
prevented me from moving freely. My curiosity, meanwhile, after all
that I had seen, increased more and more; and I took heart to ask the
old man whether one could not pass over. "Why not?" returned he, "but
on new conditions." When I asked him what these were, he gave me to
understand that I must put on other clothes. I was satisfied to do so;
he led me back towards the wall, into a small neat room, on the sides
of which hung many kinds of garments, all of which seemed to approach
the oriental costume. I soon changed my dress. He confined my powdered
hair under a many coloured net, after having to my horror violently
dusted it out. Now standing before a great mirror, I found myself quite
handsome in my disguise, and pleased myself better than in my formal
Sunday clothes. I made gestures and leaped as I had seen the dancers
do at the Fair-theatre. In the midst of this I looked in the glass,
and saw by chance the image of a niche which was behind me. On its
white ground hung three green cords, each of them twisted up in a way
which from the distance I could not clearly discern. I therefore turned
round rather hastily, and asked the old man about the niche as well as
the cords. He very courteously took a cord down, and showed it to me.
It was a band of green silk of moderate thickness; the ends of which
joined by green leather with two holes in it, gave it the appearance
of an instrument for no very desirable purpose. The thing struck me as
suspicious, and I asked the old man the meaning. He answered me very
quietly and kindly, "This is for those who abuse the confidence which
is here readily shown them." He hung the cord again in its place, and
immediately desired me to follow him; for this time he did not hold me,
and so I walked freely beside him.

My chief curiosity now was to discover where the gate and bridge, for
passing through the railing and over the canal, might be; since as yet
I had not been able to find anything of the kind. I therefore watched
the golden fence very narrowly as we hastened towards it. But in a
moment my sight failed; lances, spears, halberds, and partisans, began
unexpectedly to rattle and quiver, and this strange movement ended
in all the points sinking towards each other, just as if two ancient
hosts, armed with pikes, were about to charge. The confusion to the
eyes, the clatter to the ears, was hardly to be borne; but infinitely
surprising was the sight when falling perfectly level, they covered the
circle of the canal, and formed the most glorious bridge that one can
imagine. For now a most variegated garden parterre met my sight. It
was laid out in curvilinear beds, which, looked at together, formed a
labyrinth of ornaments; all with green borders of a low woolly plant,
which I had never seen before; all with flowers, each division of
different colours, which being likewise low and close to the ground,
allowed the plan to be easily traced. This delicious sight, which I
enjoyed in the full sunshine, quite rivetted my eyes. But I hardly
knew where I was to set my foot; for the serpentine paths were most
delicately laid with blue sand, which seemed to form upon the earth a
darker sky, or a sky seen in the water: and so I walked for a while
beside my conductor, with my eyes fixed upon the ground, until at last
I perceived that, in the middle of this round of beds and flowers,
there was a great circle of cypresses or poplar-like trees, through
which one could not see, because the lowest branches seemed to spring
out of the ground. My guide, without taking me directly the shortest
way, led me nevertheless immediately towards that centre: and how was
I astonished, when on entering the circle of high trees, I saw before
me the peristyle of a magnificent garden-house, which seemed to have
similar prospects and entrances on the other sides! The heavenly music
which streamed from the building, transported me still more than this
model of architecture. I fancied that I heard now a lute, now a harp,
now a guitar, and now something tinkling, which did not belong to any
of these instruments. The door which we approached opened soon after a
light touch by the old man. But how was I amazed, when the porteress,
who came out, perfectly resembled the delicate girl who had danced
upon my fingers in the dream! She greeted me as if we were already
acquainted, and invited me to walk in. The old man remained behind, and
I went with her through a short passage, arched and finely ornamented,
to the middle hall, the splendid dome-like ceiling of which attracted
my gaze on my entrance, and filled me with astonishment. Yet my eye
could not linger long on this, being allured down by a more charming
spectacle. On a carpet, directly under the middle of the cupola, sat
three women, in a triangle, clad in three different colours; one red,
the other yellow, the third green. The seats were gilt, and the carpet
was a perfect flower-bed. In their arras lay the three instruments
which I had been able to distinguish from the outside; for being
disturbed by my arrival, they had stopped their playing. "Welcome!"
said the middle one, who sat with her face to the door, in a red dress,
and with the harp. "Sit down by Alert, and listen, if you are a lover
of music."

Now first I remarked that there was a rather long bench placed
obliquely before them, on which lay a mandoline. The pretty girl
took it up, sat down, and drew me to her side. Now also I looked at
the second lady on my right. She wore the yellow dress, and had the
guitar in her hand; and if the harp-player was dignified in form,
grand in features, and majestic in her deportment, one might remark in
the guitar-player an easy grace and cheerfulness. She was a slender
blonde--while the other was adorned by dark brown hair. The variety
and accordance of their music could not prevent me from remarking the
third beauty, in the green dress, whose lute-playing was for me at once
touching and striking. She was the one who seemed to notice me the
most, and to direct her music to me; only I could not make up my mind
about her; for she appeared to me now tender, now whimsical, now frank,
now self-willed, according as she changed her mien and mode of playing.
Sometimes she seemed to wish to move me, sometimes to teaze me; but
do what she would, she got little out of me; for my little neighbour,
by whom I sat elbow to elbow, had gained me entirely to herself; and
while I clearly saw in those three ladies the Sylphides of my dream,
and recognised the colours of the apples, I conceived that I had no
cause to detain them. The pretty little maiden I would rather have
captured, if I had not but too feelingly remembered the blow which she
had given me in my dream. Hitherto she had remained quite quiet with
her mandoline; but when her mistresses had ceased, they commanded her
to perform some pleasant little piece. Scarcely had she jingled off
some dancing tune, in a most exciting manner, than she sprang up; I
did the same. She played and danced; I was hurried on to accompany her
steps, and we executed a kind of little ballet, with which the ladies
seemed satisfied; for as soon as we had done, they commanded the little
girl to refresh me with something nice till supper should come in. I
had indeed forgotten that there was anything in the world beyond this
paradise. Alert led me back immediately into the passage by which I
had entered. On one side of it she had two well-arranged rooms. In
that in which she lived, she set before me oranges, figs, peaches, and
grapes; and I enjoyed with great gusto both the fruits of foreign lands
and those of our own not yet in season. Confectionary there was in
profusion; she filled, too, a goblet of polished crystal with foaming
wine; but I had no need to drink, as I had refreshed myself with the
fruits. "Now we will play," said she, and led me into the other room.
Here all looked like a Christmas fair; but such costly and exquisite
things were never seen in a Christmas booth. There were all kinds of
dolls, dolls' clothes, and dolls' furniture; kitchens, parlours, and
shops, and single toys innumerable. She led me round to all the glass
cases, in which these ingenious works were preserved. But she soon
closed again the first cases, and said--"That is nothing for you, I
know well enough. Here," she said, "we could find building materials,
walls and towers, houses, palaces, churches, to put together a great
city. But this does not entertain me. We will take something else,
which will be pleasant alike to both of us." Then she brought out some
boxes, in which I saw an army of little soldiers piled one upon the
other, of which I must needs confess that I had never seen anything
so beautiful. She did not leave me time to examine them closely in
detail, but took one box under her arm, while I seized the other.--"We
will go," she said, "upon the golden bridge. There one plays best with
soldiers; the lances give at once the direction in which the armies are
to be opposed to each other." We had now reached the golden trembling
floor; and below me I could hear the waters gurgle, and the fishes
splash, while I knelt down to range my columns. All, as I now saw, were
cavalry. She boasted that she had the Queen of the Amazons as leader of
her female host. I, on the contrary, found Achilles and a very stately
Grecian cavalry. The armies stood facing each other, and nothing could
have been seen more beautiful. They were not flat leaden horsemen like
ours, but man and horse were round and solid, and most finely wrought;
nor could one conceive how they kept their balance, for they stood of
themselves, without a support for their feet.

Both of us had inspected our hosts with much self-complacency, when she
announced the onset. We had found ordnance in our chests, viz., little
boxes full of well-polished agate balls. With these we were to fight
against each other from a certain distance, while, however, it was an
express condition that we should not throw with more force than was
necessary to upset the figures, as none of them were to be injured. Now
the cannonade began on both sides, and at first it succeeded to the
satisfaction of us both. But when my adversary observed that I aimed
better than she, and might in the end win the victory, which depended
on the majority of pieces remaining upright, she came nearer, and her
girlish way of throwing had then the desired result. She prostrated
a multitude of my best troops, and the more I protested the more
eagerly did she throw. This at last vexed me, and I declared that I
would do the same. In fact, I not only went nearer, but in my rage
threw with much more violence, so that it was not long before a pair
of her little centauresses flew in pieces. In her eagerness she did
not instantly notice it, but I stood petrified when the broken figures
joined together again of themselves; Amazon and horse became again one
whole, and also perfectly close, set up a gallop from the golden bridge
under the lime-trees, and running swiftly backwards and forwards, were
lost in their career, I know not how, in the direction of the wall.
My fair opponent had hardly perceived this, when she broke out into
loud weeping and lamentation, and exclaimed that I had caused her an
irreparable loss, which was far greater than could be expressed. But
I, by this time provoked, was glad to annoy her, and blindly flung a
couple of the remaining agate balls with force into the midst of her
army. Unhappily I hit the queen, who had hitherto, during our regular
game, been excepted. She flew in pieces, and her nearest officers were
also shivered. But they swiftly set themselves up again, and started
off like the others, galloping very merrily about under the lime-trees,
and disappearing against the wall. My opponent scolded and abused me;
but being now in full play, I stooped to pick up some agate balls
which rolled about upon the golden lances. It was my fierce desire to
destroy her whole army. She, on the other hand, not idle, sprang at
me, and gave me a box on the ear which made my head ring again. Having
always heard that a hearty kiss was the proper response to a girl's
box of the ear, I took her by the ears, and kissed her repeatedly. But
she gave such a piercing cry as frightened even me; I let her go, and
it was fortunate that I did so; for in a moment I knew not what was
happening to me. The ground beneath me began to quake and rattle; I
soon remarked that the railings again set themselves in motion; but
I had no time to consider, nor could I get a footing so as to fly.
I feared every instant to be pierced, for the partisans and lances,
which had lifted themselves up, were already slitting my clothes. It
is sufficient to say that, I know not how it was, hearing and sight
failed me, and I recovered from my swoon and terror at the foot of a
lime-tree, against which the pikes in springing up had thrown me. As
I awoke, my anger awakened also, and violently increased when I heard
from the other side the gibes and laughter of my opponent, who had
probably reached the earth somewhat more softly than I. Thereupon I
sprang up, and as I saw the little host, with its leader Achilles,
scattered around me, having been driven over with me by the rising of
the rails, I seized the hero first and threw him against a tree. His
resuscitation and flight now pleased me doubly, a malicious pleasure
combining with the prettiest sight in the world; and I was on the point
of sending all the other Greeks after him, when suddenly hissing waters
spurted at me on all sides, from stones and walls, from ground and
branches; and wherever I turned dashed against me crossways.

My light garment was in a short time wet through; it was already rent,
and I did not hesitate to tear it entirely off my body. I cast away my
slippers, and one covering after another. Nay, at last I found it very
agreeable to let such a shower-bath play over me in the warm day. Now,
being quite naked, I walked gravely along between these welcome waters,
where I thought to enjoy myself for some time. My anger cooled, and I
wished for nothing more than a reconciliation with my little adversary.
But, in a twinkling the water stopped, and I stood drenched upon the
saturated ground. The presence of the old man, who appeared before me
unexpectedly, was by no means welcome; I could have wished, if not to
hide, at least to clothe myself. The shame, the shivering, the effort
to cover myself in some degree, made me cut a most piteous figure.
The old man employed the moment in venting the severest reproaches
against me. "What hinders me," he exclaimed, "from taking one of the
green cords, and fitting it, if not to your neck, to your back?" This
threat I took in very ill part. "Refrain," I cried, "from such words,
even from such thoughts, for otherwise you and your mistresses will be
lost." "Who then are you," he asked in defiance, "who dare speak thus?"
"A favourite of the gods," I said, "on whom it depends whether those
ladies shall find worthy husbands and pass a happy life, or be left to
pine and wither in their magic cell." The old man stepped some paces
back. "Who has revealed that to you?" he inquired, with astonishment
and concern. "Three apples," I said--"three jewels." "And what
reward do you require?" he exclaimed. "Before all things, the little
creature," I replied, "who has brought me into this accursed state."
The old man cast himself down before me, without shrinking from the
wet and miry soil; then he arose without being wetted, took me kindly
by the hand, led me into the hall, clad me again quickly, and I was
soon once more decked out and frizzled in my Sunday fashion as before.
The porter did not speak another word; but before he let me pass the
entrance, he stopped me, and showed me some objects on the wall over
the way, while, at the same time, he pointed backwards to the door. I
understood him; he wished to imprint the objects on my mind, that I
might the more certainly find the door, which had unexpectedly closed
behind me. I now took good notice of what was opposite to me. Above
a high wall rose the boughs of extremely old nut-trees, and partly
covered the cornice at the top. The branches reached down to a stone
tablet, the ornamented border of which I could perfectly recognise,
though I could not read the inscription. It rested on the top-stone of
a niche, in which a finely-wrought fountain poured water from cup to
cup into a great basin, that formed, as it were, a little pond, and
disappeared in the earth. Fountain, inscription, nut-trees, all stood
directly one above another; I would paint it as I saw it.

Now, it may well be conceived how I passed this evening and many
following days, and how often I repeated to myself this story, which
even I could hardly believe. As soon as it was in any degree possible,
I went again to the Bad Wall, at least to refresh my remembrance of
these signs, and to look at the precious door. But, to my great
amazement, I found ad changed. Nut-trees, indeed, overtopped the
wall, but they did not stand immediately in contact. A tablet also
was inserted in the wall, but far to the right of the trees, without
ornament, and with a legible inscription. A niche with a fountain was
found far to the left, but with no resemblance whatever to that which I
had seen; so that I almost believed that the second adventure was, like
the first, a dream; for of the door there is not the slightest trace.
The only thing that consoles me is the observation, that these three
objects seem always to change their places. For in repeated visits to
the spot, I think I have noticed that the nut-trees have moved somewhat
nearer together, and that the tablet and the fountain seem likewise to
approach each other. Probably, when all is brought together again, the
door, too, will once more be visible; and I will do my best to take up
the thread of the adventure. Whether I shall be able to tell you what
further happens, or whether it will be expressly forbidden me, I cannot

       *       *       *       *       *

This tale, of the truth of which my playfellows vehemently strove to
convince themselves, received great applause. Each of them visited
alone the place described, without confiding it to me or the others,
and discovered the nut-trees, the tablet, and the spring, though
always at a distance from each other; as they at last confessed to me
afterwards, because it is not easy to conceal a secret at that early
age. But here the contest first arose. One asserted that the objects
did not stir from the spot and always maintained the same distance: a
second averred that they did move, and that too away from each other:
a third agreed with the latter as to the first point of their moving,
though it seemed to him that the nut-tree, tablet, and fountain rather
drew near together: while a fourth had something still more wonderful
to announce, which was, that the nut-trees were in the middle, but that
the tablet and the fountain were on sides opposite to those which I had
stated. With respect to the traces of the little door they also varied.
And thus they furnished me an early instance of the contradictory news
men can hold and maintain in regard to matters quite simple and easily
cleared up. As I obstinately refused the continuation of my tale, a
repetition of the first part was often desired. I was on my guard,
however, not to change the circumstances much, and by the uniformity
of the narrative I converted the fable into truth in the minds of my

Yet I was averse to falsehood and dissimulation, and altogether by
no means frivolous. Rather, on the contrary, the inward earnestness
with which I had early begun to consider myself and the world, was
seen even in my exterior, and I was frequently called to account,
often in a friendly way, and often in raillery, for a certain dignity
which I had assumed. For, although good and chosen friends were
certainly not wanting to me, we were always a minority against those
who found pleasure in assailing us with wanton rudeness, and who
indeed often awoke us in no gentle fashion from that legendary and
self-complacent dreaming in which we--I by inventing, and my companions
by sympathising--were too readily absorbed. Thus we learned once more,
that instead of sinking into effeminacy and fantastic delights, there
was reason rather for hardening ourselves, in order either to bear or
to counteract inevitable evils.

[Side-note: Juvenile Stoicism.]

Among the stoical exercises which I cultivated, as earnestly as it
was possible for a lad, was even the endurance of bodily pain. Our
teachers often treated us very unkindly and unskilfully, with blows and
cuffs, against which we hardened ourselves all the more as obstinacy
was forbidden under the severest penalties. A great many of the sports
of youth, moreover, depend on a rivalry in such endurances; as, for
instance, when they strike each other alternately, with two fingers
or the whole fist, till the limbs are numbed, or when they bear
the penalty of blows, incurred in certain games, with more or less
firmness; when in wrestling or scuffling they do not let themselves
be perplexed by the pinches of a half-conquered opponent; or finally,
when they suppress the pain inflicted for the sake of teasing, and even
treat with indifference the nips and ticklings with which young persons
are so active towards each other. Thus we gain a great advantage, of
which others cannot speedily deprive us.

But as I made a sort of boast of this impassiveness, the importunity
of the others was increased; and, since rude barbarity, knows no
limits, it managed to force me beyond my bounds. Let one case suffice
for several. It happened once that the teacher did not come for the
usual hour of instruction. As long as we children were all together,
we entertained ourselves quite agreeably; but when my adherents, after
waiting long enough, went away, and I remained alone with three of my
enemies, these took it into their heads to torment me, to shame me,
and to drive me away. Having left me an instant in the room, they came
back with switches, which they had made by quickly cutting up a broom.
I noted their design, and as I supposed the end of the hour near, I at
once resolved not to resist them till the clock struck. They began,
therefore, without remorse, to lash my legs and calves in the cruellest
fashion. I did not stir, but soon felt that I had miscalculated, and
that such pain greatly lengthened the minutes. My wrath grew with my
endurance, and at the first stroke of the hour, I grasped the one who
least expected it by the hair behind, hurled him to the earth in an
instant, pressing my knee upon his back; the second, a younger and
weaker ore, who attacked me from behind, I drew by the head under my
arm, and almost throttled him with the pressure. The last, and not the
weakest, still remained; and my left hand only was left for my defence.
But I seized him by the clothes, and with a dexterous twist on my part,
and an over precipitate one on his, I brought him down and struck his
face on the ground. They were not wanting in bites, pinches, and kicks,
but I had nothing but revenge in my limbs as well as in my heart. With
the advantage which I had acquired, I repeatedly knocked their heads
together. At last they raised a dreadful shout of murder, and were
were soon surrounded by all the inmates of the house. The switches
scattered around, and my legs, which I had bared of the stockings, soon
bore witness for me. They put off the punishment, and let me leave the
house; but I declared that in future, on the slightest offence, I would
scratch out the eyes, tear off the ears, of any one of them, if not
throttle him.

This event, though, as usually happens in childish affairs, it was
soon forgotten, and even laughed over, was yet the cause that these
instructions in common became fewer, and at last entirely ceased. I was
thus again, as formerly, kept more at home, where I found my sister
Cornelia, who was only one year younger than myself, a companion always
growing more agreeable.

Still, I will not leave this topic without narrating some more stories
of the many vexations caused me by my playfellows; for this is the
instructive part of such moral communications, that a man may learn how
it has gone with others, and what he also has to expect from life; and
that whatever comes to pass, he may consider that it happens to him
as a man, and not as one specially fortunate or unfortunate. If such
knowledge is of little use for avoiding evils, it is very serviceable
so far as it qualifies us to understand our condition, and bear or even
to overcome it.

Another general remark will not be out of place here, which is, that as
the children of the cultivated classes grow up, a great contradiction
appears. I refer to the fact, that they are urged and trained, by
parents and teachers, to deport themselves moderately, intelligently,
and even wisely; to give pain to no one from petulance or arrogance,
and to suppress all the evil impulses which may be developed in them;
but yet, on the other hand, while the young creatures are engaged in
this discipline, they have to suffer from others that which in them
is reprimanded and punished. In this way, the poor things are brought
into a sad strait between the natural and civilised states, and after
restraining themselves for a while, break out according to their
characters into cunning or violence.

[Side-note: Rudeness of Juvenile Companions.]

Force is rather to be put down by force; but a well-disposed child,
inclined to love and sympathy, has little to oppose to scorn and
ill-will. Though I managed pretty well to keep off the active assaults
of my companions, I was by no means equal to them in sarcasm and abuse;
because he who merely defends himself in such cases, is always a loser.
Attacks of this sort, consequently, when they went so far as to excite
anger, were repelled with physical force, or at least excited strange
reflections in me, which could not be without results. Among other
advantages which my ill-wishers grudged me, was the pleasure I took in
the relations that accrued to the family from my grandfather's position
of Schultheiss, since, as he was the first of his class, this had no
small effect on those belonging to him. Once, when after the holding
of the Piper's-court, I appeared to pride myself on having seen my
grandfather in the midst of the council, one step higher than the rest,
enthroned, as it were, under the portrait of the Emperor, one of the
boys said to me in derision, that like the peacock contemplating his
feet, I should cast my eyes back to my paternal grandfather, who had
been keeper of the Willow-inn, and would never have aspired to thrones
and coronets. I replied that I was in no wise ashamed of that, as it
was the glory and honour of our native city that all its citizens might
consider each other equal, and every one derive profit and honour
from his exertions in his own way. I was sorry only that the good man
had been so long dead; for I had often yearned to know him in person,
had many times gazed upon his likeness, nay, had visited his tomb,
and had at least derived pleasure from the inscription on the simple
monument of that past existence to which I was indebted for my own.
Another ill-wisher, who was the most malicious of all, took the first
aside, and whispered something in his ear, while they still looked at
me scornfully. My gall already began to rise, and I challenged them to
speak out. "What is more, then, if you will have it," continued the
first, "this one thinks you might go looking about a long time before
you could find your grandfather!" I now threatened them more vehemently
if they did not more clearly explain themselves. Thereupon they brought
forward an old story, which they pretended to have overheard from their
parents, that my father was the son of some eminent man, while that
good citizen had shown himself willing to take outwardly the paternal
office. They had the impudence to produce all sorts of arguments; as,
for example, that our property came exclusively from our grandmother,
that the other collateral relations, who lived in Friedburg and other
places, were all alike destitute of property, and other reasons of the
sort, which could merely derive their weight from malice. I listened to
them more composedly than they expected, for they stood ready to fly
the very moment that I should make a gesture as if I would seize their
hair. But I replied quite calmly, and in substance, "that even this was
no great injury to me. Life was such a boon, that one might be quite
indifferent as to whom one had to thank for it, since at least it must
be derived from God, before whom we all were equals." As they could
make nothing of it, they let the matter drop for this time; we went on
playing together as before, which among children is an approved mode of

[Side-note: Goethe's Reputed Grandfather.]

Still those spiteful words inoculated me with a sort of moral disease,
which crept on in secret. It would not have displeased me at all to
have been the grandson of any person of consideration, even if it had
not been in the most lawful way. My acuteness followed up the scent--my
imagination was excited, and my sagacity put in requisition. I began to
investigate the allegation, and invented or found for it new grounds of
probability. I had heard little said of my grandfather, except that his
likeness, together with my grandmother's, had hung in a parlour of the
old house; both of which, after the building of the new one, had been
kept in an upper chamber. My grandmother must have been a very handsome
woman, and of the same age as her husband. I remembered, also, to have
seen in her room the miniature of a handsome gentleman in uniform,
with star and order, which, after her death, and during the confusion
of house-building, had disappeared with many other small pieces of
furniture. These, and many other things, I put together in my childish
head, and exercised that modern poetical talent which contrives to
obtain the sympathies of the whole cultivated world by a marvellous
combination of the important events of human life.

But as I did not venture to trust such an affair to any one, or even
to ask the most remote questions concerning it, I was not wanting in
a secret diligence, in order to get, if possible somewhat nearer to
the matter. I had heard it explicitly maintained, that sons often
bore a decided resemblance to their fathers or grandfathers. Many of
our friends, especially Councillor Schneider, a friend of the family,
were connected by business with all the princes and noblemen of the
neighbourhood, of whom, including both the ruling and the younger
branches, not a few had estates on the Rhine and Maine, and in the
intermediate country, and who at times honoured their faithful agents
with their portraits. These, which I had often seen on the walls from
my infancy, I now regarded with redoubled attention, seeking whether I
could not detect some resemblance to my father or even to myself, which
too often happened to lead me to any degree of certainty. For now it
was the eyes of this, now the nose of that, which seemed to indicate
some relationship. Thus these marks led me delusively backwards and
forwards; and though in the end I was compelled to regard the reproach
as a completely empty tale, the impression remained, and I could not
from time to time refrain from privately calling up and testing all the
noblemen whose images had remained very clear in my fancy. So true is
it that whatever inwardly confirms man in his self conceit, or flatters
his secret vanity, is so highly desirable to him, that he does not ask
further, whether in other respects it may turn to his honour or his

But instead of mingling here serious and even reproachful reflections,
I rather turn my look away from those beautiful times; for who is
able to speak worthily of the fulness of childhood? We cannot behold
the little creatures which flit about before us otherwise than-with
delight, nay, with admiration; for they generally promise more than
they perform, and it seems that nature, among the other roguish tricks
that she plays us, here also especially designs to make sport of us.
The first organs she bestows upon children coming into the world, are
adapted to the nearest immediate condition of the creature, which,
unassuming and artless, makes use of them in the readiest way for its
present purposes. The child, considered in and for itself, with its
equals, and in relations suited to its powers, seems so intelligent
and rational, and at the same time so easy, cheerful, and clever,
that one can hardly wish it further cultivation. If children grew up
according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses;
but growth is not merely development; the various organic systems which
constitute one man, spring one from another, follow each other, change
into each other, supplant each other, and even consume each other; so
that after a time scarcely a trace is to be found of many aptitudes and
manifestations of ability. Even when the talents of the man have on the
whole a decided direction, it will be hard for the greatest and most
experienced connoisseur to declare them beforehand with confidence,
although afterwards it is easy to remark what has pointed to a future.

By no means, therefore, is it my design wholly to comprise the stories
of my childhood in these first books; but I will rather afterwards
resume and continue many a thread which ran through the early years
unnoticed. Here, however, I must remark what an increasing influence
the incidents of the war gradually exercised upon our sentiments and
mode of life.

The peaceful citizen stands in a wonderful relation to the great events
of the world. They already excite and disquiet him from a distance,
and even if they do not touch him, he can scarcely refrain from an
opinion and a sympathy. Soon he takes a side, as his character or
external circumstances may determine. But when such grand fatalities,
such important changes, draw nearer to him, then with many outward
inconveniences remains that inward discomfort, which doubles and
sharpens the evil and destroys the good which is still possible. Then
he has really to suffer from friends and foes, often more from those
than from these, and he knows not how to secure and preserve either his
interests or his inclinations.

[Side-note: Feelings of The Frankforters in 1757.]

The year 1757, which still passed in perfectly civic tranquillity,
kept us, nevertheless, in great uneasiness of mind. Perhaps no other
was more fruitful of events than this. Conquests, achievements,
misfortunes, restorations, followed one upon another, swallowed up and
seemed to destroy each other; yet the image of Frederick, his name and
glory, soon hovered again above all. The enthusiasm of his worshippers
grew always stronger and more animated, the hatred of his enemies more
bitter, and the diversity of opinion, which separated even families,
contributed not a little to isolate citizens, already sundered in many
ways and on other grounds. For in a city like Frankfort, where three
religions divide the inhabitants into three unequal masses, where
only a few men, even of the ruling faith, can attain to political
power, there must be many wealthy and educated persons who are thrown
back upon themselves, and, by means of studies and tastes, form for
themselves an individual and secluded existence. It will be necessary
for us to speak of such men, now and hereafter, if we are to bring
before us the peculiarities of a Frankfort citizen of that time.

My father, immediately after his return from his travels, had in his
own way formed the design, that to prepare himself for the service
of the city, he would undertake one of the subordinate offices, and
discharge its duties without emolument, if it were conferred upon
him without balloting. In the consciousness of his good intentions,
and according to his way of thinking and the conception which he had
of himself, he believed that he deserved such a distinction, which
indeed was not conformable to law or precedent. Consequently, when his
suit was rejected, he fell into ill-humour and disgust, vowed that he
would never accept of any place, and in order to render it impossible,
procured the title of Imperial Councillor, which the Schultheiss and
elder _Schöffen_ bear as a special honour. He had thus made himself an
equal of the highest, and could not begin again at the bottom. The same
impulse induced him also to woo the eldest daughter of the Schultheiss,
so that he was excluded from the council on this side also. He was now
of that number of recluses who never form themselves into a society.
They are as much isolated in respect to each other as they are in
regard to the whole, and the more so as in this seclusion the character
becomes more and more uncouth. My father, in his travels and in the
world which he had seen, might have formed some conception of a more
elegant and liberal mode of life than was, perhaps, common among his
fellow-citizens. In this respect, however, he was not entirely without
predecessors and associates.

The name of UFFENBACH is well known. At that time there was a Schöff
von Uffenbach, who was generally respected. He had been in Italy, had
applied himself particularly to music, sang an agreeable tenor, and
having brought home a fine collection of pieces, concerts and oratorios
were performed at his house. Now, as he sang in these himself, and held
musicians in great favour, it was not thought altogether suitable to
his dignity, and his invited guests, as well as the other people of the
country, allowed themselves many a jocose remark on the matter.

I remember, too, a BARON VON HAKEL, a rich nobleman, who being married,
but childless, occupied a charming house in the Antonius-street, fitted
up with all the appurtenances of a dignified position in life. He also
possessed good pictures, engravings, antiques, and much else which
generally accumulates with collectors and lovers of art. From time to
time he asked the more noted personages to dinner, and was beneficent
in a careful way of his own, since he clothed the poor in his own
house, but kept back their old rags, and gave them a weekly charity, on
condition that they should present themselves every time clean and neat
in the clothes bestowed on them. I can recall him but indistinctly, as
a genial, well-made man; but more clearly his auction, which I attended
from beginning to end, and, partly by command of my father, partly from
my own impulse, purchased many things that are still to be found in my

At an earlier date than this--so early that I scarcely set eyes upon
him--JOHN MICHAEL VON LOEN gained considerable repute in the literary
world, as well as at Frankfort Not a native of Frankfort, he settled
there, and married a sister of my grandmother Textor, whose maiden-name
was Lindheim. Familiar with the court and political world, and
rejoicing in a renewed title of nobility, he had acquired reputation by
daring to take part in the various excitements which arose in Church
and State. He wrote the _Count of Rivera_, a didactic romance, the
subject of which is made apparent by the second title, "or, the Honest
Man at Court." This work was well received, because it insisted on
morality even in courts, where prudence only is generally at home; and
thus his labour brought him applause and respect. A second work, for
that very reason, would be accompanied by more danger. He wrote _The
Only True Religion_, a book designed to advance tolerance, especially
between Lutherans and Calvinists. But here he got in a controversy
with the theologians: one Dr. Benner, of Giessen, in particular,
wrote against him. Von Loen rejoined; the contest grew violent and
personal, and the unpleasantness which arose from it caused him to
accept the office of President at Lingen, which Frederick II. offered
him, supposing that he was an enlightened, unprejudiced man, and not
averse to the new views that more extensively obtained in France. His
former countrymen, whom he left in some displeasure, averred that he
was not contented there, nay, could not be so, as a place like Lingen
was not to be compared with Frankfort. My father also doubted whether
the President would be happy, and asserted that the good uncle would
have done better not to connect himself with the king, as it was
generally hazardous to get too near him, extraordinary sovereign as
he undoubtedly was; for it had been seen how disgracefully the famous
Voltaire had been arrested in Frankfort, at the requisition of the
Prussian Resident Freitag, though he had formerly stood so high in
favour, and had been regarded as the king's teacher in French poetry.
There was no want, on such occasions, of reflections and examples,
to warn one against courts and princes' service, of which a native
Frankforter could scarcely form a conception.

[Side-note: Dr. Orth.]

An excellent man, Dr. ORTH, I will only mention by name, because here
I have not so much to erect a monument to the deserving citizens of
Frankfort, but rather refer to them so far forth as their renown or
personal character had some influence upon me in my earliest years.
Dr. Orth was a wealthy man, and was also of that number who never
took part in the government, although perfectly qualified to do so by
his knowledge and penetration. The antiquities of Germany, and more
especially of Frankfort, have been much indebted to him; he published
remarks on the so-called _Reformation of Frankfort_, a work in which
the statutes of the state are collected. The historical portions of
this book I diligently read in my youth.

VON OCHSENSTEIN, the eldest of the three brothers whom I have mentioned
above as our neighbours, had not been remarkable during his lifetime,
in consequence of his recluse habits, but became the more remarkable
after his death, by leaving behind him a direction that common
working-men should carry him to the grave, early in the morning,
in perfect silence, and without an attendant or follower. This was
done, and the affair excited great attention in the city, where they
were accustomed to the most pompous funerals. All who discharged the
customary offices on such occasions, rose against the innovation.
But the stout patrician found imitators in all classes, and though
such ceremonies were derisively called ox-burials,[1] they came into
fashion, to the advantage of many of the more poorly-provided families,
while funeral parades were less and less in vogue. I bring forward this
circumstance, because it presents one of the earlier symptoms of that
tendency to humility and equality, which in the second half of the last
century was manifested in so many ways, from above downwards, and broke
out in such unlooked-for effects.

Nor was there any lack of antiquarian amateurs. There were cabinets of
pictures, collections of engravings, while the curiosities of our own
country especially were zealously sought and hoarded. The older decrees
and mandates of the imperial city, of which no collection had been
prepared, were carefully searched for in print and manuscript, arranged
in the order of time, and preserved with reverence, as a treasure of
native laws and customs. The portraits of Frankforters, which existed
in great number, were also brought together, and formed a special
department of the cabinets.

Such men my father appears generally to have taken as his models. He
was wanting in none of the qualities that pertain to an upright and
respectable citizen. Thus, after he had built his house, he put his
property of every sort into order. An excellent collection of maps
by Schenck and other geographers at that time eminent, the aforesaid
decrees and mandates, the portraits, a chest of ancient weapons, a case
of remarkable Venetian glasses, cups and goblets, natural curiosities,
works in ivory, bronzes, and a hundred other things, were separated and
displayed, and I did not fail, whenever an auction occurred, to get
some commission for the increase of his possessions.

[Side-note: The Senkenbergs.]

I must still speak of one important family, of which I had heard
strange things since my earliest years, and of some of whose members
I myself lived to see a great deal that was wonderful--I mean the
SENKENBERGS. The father, of whom I have little to say, was an opulent
man. He had three sons, who even in their youth uniformly distinguished
themselves as oddities. Such things are not well received in a limited
city, where no one is suffered to render himself conspicuous, either
for good or evil. Nicknames and odd stories, long kept in memory,
are generally the fruit of such singularity. The father lived at the
corner of Hare-street _(Hasengasse)_, which took its name from a sign
on the house, that represented one hare at least, if not three hares.
They consequently called these three brothers only the three Hares,
which nick-name they could not shake off for a long while. But as
great endowments often announce themselves in youth in the form of
singularity and awkwardness, so was it also in this case. The eldest
of the brothers was the _Reichshofrath_ (Imperial Councillor) von
Senkenberg afterwards so celebrated. The second was admitted into
the magistracy, and displayed, eminent abilities, which, however, he
subsequently abused in a pettifogging and even infamous way, if not to
the injury of his native city, certainly to that of his colleagues.
The third brother, a physician and man of great integrity, but who
practised little, and that only in high families, preserved even in
his old age a somewhat whimsical exterior. He was always very neatly
dressed, and was never seen in the street otherwise than in shoes and
stockings, with a well-powdered curled wig, and his hat under his arm.
He walked on rapidly, but with a singular sort of stagger, so that
he was sometimes on one and sometimes on the other side of the way,
and formed a complete zigzag as he went. The wags said that he made
this irregular step to get out of the way of the departed souls, who
might follow him in a straight line, and that he imitated those who are
afraid of a crocodile. But all these jests and many merry sayings were
transformed at last into respect for him, when he devoted his handsome
dwelling-house in Eschenheimer-street, with court, garden, and all
other appurtenances, to a medical establishment, where, in addition
to a hospital designed exclusively for the citizens of Frankfort,
a botanic garden, an anatomical theatre, a chemical laboratory, a
considerable library, and a house for the director, were instituted in
a way of which no university need have been ashamed.

Another eminent man, whose efficiency in the neighbourhood and whose
writings, rather than his presence, had a very important influence upon
me, was CHARLES FREDERICK VON MOSER, who was perpetually referred to
in our district for his activity in business. He also had a character
essentially moral, which as the vices of human nature frequently gave
him trouble, inclined him to the so-called pious. Thus, what Von
Loen had tried to do in respect to court life, he would have done
for business-life, introducing into it a more conscientious mode
of proceeding. The great number of small German courts gave rise
to a multitude of princes and servants, the former of whom desired
unconditional obedience, while the latter, for the most part, would
work or serve only according to their own convictions. Thus arose an
endless conflict, and rapid changes and explosions, because the effects
of an unrestricted course of proceeding become much sooner noticeable
and injurious on a small scale than on a large one. Many families were
in debt, and Imperial Commissions of Debts were appointed: others found
themselves sooner or later on the same road; while the officers either
reaped an unconscionable profit, or conscientiously made themselves
disagreeable and odious. Moser wished to act as a statesman and man of
business, and here his hereditary talent, cultivated to a profession,
gave him a decided advantage; but he at the same time wished to act
as a man and a citizen, and surrender little as possible of his moral
dignity. His _Prince and Servant_, his _Daniel in the Lions' Den_, his
_Relics_, paint throughout his own condition, in which he felt himself
not indeed tortured, but always cramped. They all indicate impatience
in a condition, to the bearings of which one cannot reconcile oneself,
yet from which one cannot get free. With this mode of thinking and
feeling, he was, indeed, often compelled to seek other employments,
which, on account of his great cleverness, were never wanting. I
remember him as a pleasing, active, and at the same time gentle man.

[Side-note: Klopstock's "Messiah."]

The name of KLOPSTOCK had already produced a great effect upon us, even
at a distance. In the outset, people wondered how so excellent a man
could be so strangely named; but they soon got accustomed to this, and
thought no more of the meaning of the syllables. In my father's library
I had hitherto found only the earlier poets, especially those who in
his day had gradually appeared and acquired fame. All these had written
in rhyme, and my father held rhyme as indispensable in poetical works.
Canitz, Hagedorn, Drollinger, Gellert, Creuz, Haller, stood in a row,
in handsome calf bindings, to these were added Neukirch's _Telemachus_,
Koppen's _Jerusalem Delivered_, and other translations. I had from
my childhood diligently read through the whole of these works, and
committed portions to memory, whence I was often called upon to amuse
the company. A vexatious era on the other hand opened upon my father,
when through Klopstock's _Messiah_, verses, which seemed to him no
verses, became an object of public admiration.[2] He had taken good
care not to buy this book; but the friend of the family, Councillor
Schneider, smuggled it in, and slipped it into the hands of my mother
and her children.

On this man of business, who read but little, the _Messiah_, as soon
as it appeared, made a powerful impression. Those pious feelings, so
naturally expressed, and yet so beautifully elevated, that agreeable
language, even if considered merely as harmonious prose, had so won
the otherwise dry man of business, that he regarded the first ten
cantos, of which alone we are properly speaking, as the finest Book
of Devotion, and once every year in Passion week, when he managed to
escape from business, read it quietly through by himself, and thus
refreshed himself for the entire year. In the beginning he thought to
communicate his emotions to his old friend; but he was much shocked
when forced to perceive an incurable dislike cherished against a book
of such valuable substance, merely because of what appeared to him
an indifferent external form. It may readily be supposed that their
conversation often reverted to this topic; but both parties diverged
more and more widely from each other, there were violent scenes, and
the compliant man was at last pleased to be silent on his favourite
work, that he might not lose, at the same time, a friend of his youth,
and a good Sunday meal.

It is the most natural wish of every man to make proselytes, and how
much did our friend find himself rewarded in secret, when he discovered
in the rest of the family hearts so openly disposed for his saint.
The copy which he used only one week during the year, was devoted to
us all the remaining time. My mother kept it secret, and we children
took possession of it when we could, that in leisure hours, hidden in
some nook, we might learn the most striking passages by heart, and
particularly might impress the most tender as well as the most violent
parts on our memory, as quickly as possible.

Porcia's dream we recited in a sort of rivalry, and divided between
us the mid dialogue of despair between Satan and Adramelech, who have
been cast into the Red Sea. The first part, as the strongest, had
been assigned to me, and the second, as a little more pathetic, was
undertaken by my sister. The alternate and horrible but well-sounding
curses flowed only thus from our mouths, and we seized every
opportunity to accost each other with these infernal phrases.

One Saturday evening, in winter--my father always had himself shaved
over night, that on Sunday morning he might dress himself for church
at his ease--we sat on a footstool behind the stove, and muttered our
customary imprecations in a tolerably low voice, while the barber was
putting on the lather. But now Adramelech had to lay his iron hands on
Satan; my sister seized me with violence, and recited, softly enough,
but with increasing passion:--

    "Give me thine aid, I intreat thee, will worship thee, if thou requirest,
    Thee, thou monster abandoned, yes thee, of all criminals blackest;
    Aid me, I suffer the tortures of death, which is vengeful, eternal,
    Once, in the times gone by, with a hot fierce hate I could hate thee,
    Now I can hate thee no more! E'en this is the sharpest of tortures."

[Side-note: Klopstock's "Messiah."]

Thus far all went on tolerably; but loudly, with a dreadful voice, she
cried the following words:--

   "How am I crushed!"

The good surgeon was startled, and emptied the lather-basin into my
father's bosom. There was a great uproar, and a severe investigation
Wis held, especially with respect to the mischief which might have
been done if the shaving had been actually going forward. In order to
relieve ourselves of all suspicious of wantonness in the affair, we
confessed our Satanic characters, and the misfortune occasioned by the
hexameters was so apparent, that they were again condemned and banished.

Thin children and common people are accustomed to transform the great
and sublime into a sport, and even a jest; and how indeed could they
otherwise abide and tolerate it?

[1] A pun upon the name of Ochsenstein.--_Trans._

[2] The _Messiah_ is written in hexameter verse.--_Trans._


At that time the general interchange of personal good wishes made the
city very lively on New Year's day. Those who otherwise did not easily
leave home, donned their best clothes, that for a moment they might be
friendly and courteous to their friends and patrons. The festivities at
my grandfather's house on this day were pleasures particularly desired
by us children. At early dawn the grandchildren had already assembled
there to hear the drums, oboes, clarionets, trumpets, and cornets
played upon by the military, the city musicians, and whoever else might
furnish his tones. The New Year's gifts, sealed and superscribed,
were divided by us children among the humbler congratulators, and, as
the day advanced, the number of those of higher rank increased. The
relations and intimate friends appeared first, then the subordinate
officials; even the gentlemen of the council did not fail to pay their
respects to the _Schultheiss_, and a select number were entertained in
the evening in rooms which were else scarcely opened throughout the
year. The tarts, biscuits, marchpane, and sweet wine had the greatest
charm for the children, and, besides, the _Schultheiss_ and the two
Burgomasters annually received from some institutions some article of
silver, which was then bestowed upon the grandchildren and godchildren
in regular gradation. In fine, this small festival was not wanting in
any of those things which usually glorify the greatest.

[Side-note: Occupation of Frankfort by the French.]

The New Year's day of 1759 approached, as desirable and pleasant to us
children as any preceding one, but full of import and foreboding to
older persons. To the passage of the French troops people certainly
had become accustomed, and they happened often, but they had been
most frequent in the last days of the past year. According to the
old usage of an imperial town, the warder of the chief tower sounded
his trumpet whenever troops approached, and on this New Year's day
he would not leave off, which was a sign that large bodies were in
motion on several sides. They actually marched through the city in
greater masses on this day, and the people ran to see them pass by. We
had generally been used to see them go through in small parties, but
these gradually swelled, and there was neither power nor inclination
to stop them. In short, on the 2nd of January, after a column had come
through Sachsenhausen over the bridge, through the Fahrgasse, as far
as the Police Guard House--it halted, overpowered the small company
which escorted it, took possession of the before-mentioned Guard House,
marched down the Zeil, and after a slight resistance, the main guard
were also obliged to yield. In a moment the peaceful streets were
turned into a scene of war. The troops remained and bivouacked there
until lodgings were provided for them by regular billetting.

This unexpected, and, for many years, unheard-of burden weighed heavily
upon the comfortable citizens, and to none could it be more cumbersome
than to my father, who was obliged to take foreign military inhabitants
into his scarcely finished house, to open for them his well-furnished
reception rooms, which were generally closed, and to abandon to the
caprices of strangers all that he had been used to arrange and keep
so carefully. Siding as he did with the Prussians, he was now to find
himself besieged in his own chambers by the French;--it was, according
to his way of thinking, the greatest misfortune that could happen to
him. Had it, however, been possible for him to have taken the matter
more easily, he might have saved himself and us many sad hours, since
he spoke French well, and could deport himself with dignity and grace
in the daily intercourse of life. For it was the King's Lieutenant
who was quartered on us, and he, although a military person, had only
to settle civil occurrences, disputes between soldiers and citizens,
and questions of debt and quarrels. This was the Count Thorane, a
native of Grasse in Provence, not far from Antibes; a tall, thin, stem
figure, with a face much disfigured by the small pox, black fiery eyes,
and a dignified, reserved demeanour. His first entrance was at once
favourable for the inmates of the house. They spoke of the different
apartments, some of which were to be given up, and others retained
by the family; and when the Count heard a picture-room mentioned, he
immediately requested permission although it was already night, at
least to give a hasty look at the pictures by candlelight. He took
extreme pleasure in these things, behaved in the most obliging manner
to my father who accompanied him, and when he heard that the greater
part of the artists were still living, and resided in Frankfort and its
neighbourhood, he assured us that he desired nothing more than to know
them as soon as possible, and to employ them.

But even this sympathy in respect to art could not change my father's
feelings nor bend his character. He permitted what he could not
prevent, but kept at a distance in inactivity, and the uncommon state
of things around him was intolerable to him, even in the veriest trifle.

[Side-note: Count Thorane.]

Count Thorane behaved himself meanwhile in an exemplary manner. He
would not even have his maps nailed on the walls, that he might not
injure the new hangings. His people were skilful, quiet, and orderly;
but, in truth, as during the whole day and a part of the night there
was no quiet with him, one complainant quickly following another,
arrested persons being brought in and led out, and all officers and
adjutants being admitted to his presence;--as, moreover, the Count
kept an open table every day; it made in the moderately-sized house,
arranged only for a family, and with but one open staircase running
from top to bottom, a movement and a buzzing like that in a beehive,
although everything was managed with moderation, gravity, and severity.

As mediator between the irritable master of the house, who became daily
more of a hypochondriac self-tormentor, and his well-intentioned, but
stem and precise military guest, there was a pleasant interpreter, a
handsome, corpulent, lively man, who was a citizen of Frankfort, spoke
French well, knew how to adapt himself to everything, and only made
a jest of many little annoyances. Through him my mother had sent a
representation to the Count of the situation in which she was placed,
owing to her husband's state of mind. He had explained the matter so
skilfully--had laid before him the new and scarcely furnished house,
the natural reserve of the owner, his occupation in the education
of his family--and all that could be said to the same effect, that
the Count, who in his capacity took the greatest pride in the utmost
justice, integrity, and honourable conduct, resolved here also to
behave in an exemplary manner to those upon whom he was quartered,
and, indeed, never swerved from this resolution under varying
circumstances during the several years he stayed with us.

My mother possessed some knowledge of Italian, a language not
altogether unknown to any of the family; she therefore resolved to
learn French immediately, for which purpose the interpreter, for whose
child she had stood godmother during these stormy times, and who now
therefore, as a gossip,[1] felt a redoubled interest in our house,
devoted every spare moment to his child's godmother--for he lived
directly opposite--and above all, he taught her those phrases which she
would be obliged to use in her personal intercourse with the Count.
This succeeded admirably. The Count was flattered by the pains taken by
the mistress of the house at her years, and as he had a cheerful, witty
vein in his character, and he liked to exhibit a certain dry gallantry,
a most friendly relation arose between them, and the allied godmother
and father could obtain whatever they wanted from him.

As I said before, if it had been possible to cheer up my father,
this altered state of things would have caused little inconvenience.
The Count practised the severest disinterestedness; he even declined
receiving gifts which pertained to his situation; the most trifling
thing which could have borne the appearance of bribery, he rejected
angrily, and even punished. His people were most strictly forbidden to
put the proprietor of the house to the least expense. We children, on
the contrary, were bountifully supplied from the dessert. To give an
idea of the simplicity of those times, I must take this opportunity to
mention that my mother grieved us excessively one day by throwing away
the ices which had been sent us from the table, because she would not
believe it possible for the stomach to bear real ice, however it might
be sweetened.

Besides these dainties, which we gradually learned to enjoy and to
digest with perfect ease, it was very agreeable for us children to
be in some measure released from fixed hours of study and strict
discipline. My father's ill-humour increased, he could not resign
himself to the unavoidable. How he tormented himself, my mother, the
interpreter, the councillors, and all his friends, only to rid him
of the Count! In vain they represented to him that under existing
circumstances the presence of such a man in the house was an actual
benefit, and that the removal of the Count would be followed by a
constant succession of officers or of privates. None of these arguments
had any effect. To him the present seemed so intolerable, that his
indignation prevented his conceiving anything worse that could follow.

In this way his activity, which he had been used chiefly to employ
upon us, was crippled. The lessons he gave us were no longer required
with the former exactness, and we tried to gratify our curiosity for
military and other public proceedings as much as possible, not only at
home, but also in the streets, which was the more easily done, as the
front door, open day and night, was guarded by sentries who paid no
attention to the running to and fro of restless children.

The many affairs which were settled before the tribunal of the Royal
Lieutenant had quite a peculiar charm, from his making it a point
to accompany his decisions with some witty, ingenious, or lively
turn. What he decreed was strictly just, his manner of expressing it
whimsical and piquant. He seemed to have taken the Duke of Ossuna as
his model. Scarcely a day passed in which the interpreter did not tell
some anecdote or other of this kind to amuse us and my mother. This
lively man had made a little collection of such Selomonian decisions;
but I only remember the general impression, and cannot recall to my
mind any particular case.

By degrees we became better acquainted with the strange character of
the Count. This man clearly understood his own peculiarities, and as
there were times in which he was seized with a sort of dejection,
hypochondria, or by whatever name we may call the evil demon, he
withdrew into his room at such hours, which were often lengthened into
days, saw no one but his valet, and in urgent cases could not even be
prevailed upon to receive any one. But as soon as the Evil Spirit had
left him, he appeared as before, active, mild, and cheerful. It might
be inferred from the talk of his valet, Saint Jean, a small, thin man
of lively good-nature, that in his earlier years he had caused a great
misfortune when overcome by this temper; and that therefore, in so
important a position as his, exposed to the eyes of all the world, he
had earnestly resolved to avoid similar aberrations.

[Side-note: The Frankfort Painters.]

During the very first days of the Count's residence with us, all the
Frankfort artists, as Hirt, Schütz, Trautmann, Nothnagel, and Junker,
were called to him. They showed their finished pictures, and the Count
bought what were for sale. My pretty, light room in the gable-end of
the attic was given up to him, and immediately turned into a cabinet
and studio, for he designed to keep all the artists at work for a long
time, especially Seekatz of Darmstadt, whose pencil, particularly in
simple and natural representations, highly pleased him. He therefore
caused to be sent from Grasse, where his elder brother possessed a
handsome house, the dimensions of all the rooms and cabinets; then
considered with the artists, the divisions of the walls, and fixed
accordingly upon the size of the large oil-pictures, which were not
to be set in frames, but to be fastened upon the walls like pieces
of tapestry. And now the work went on zealously. Seekatz undertook
country scenes, and succeeded extremely well in his old people and
children, which were copied directly from nature. His young men did
not answer so well, they were almost all too thin, and his women
failed from the opposite cause. For as he had a little, fat, good, but
unpleasant-looking wife, who would let him have no model but herself,
he could produce nothing agreeable. He was also obliged to exceed
the usual size of his figures. His trees had truth, but the foliage
was over minute. He was a pupil of Brinkmann, whose pencil in easel
pictures is not contemptible.

Schütz, the landscape painter, had perhaps the best of the matter.
He was thoroughly master of the Rhine country, and of the sunny tone
which animates it in the fine season. Nor was he entirely unaccustomed
to work on a larger scale, and then he showed no want of execution or
keeping. His paintings were of a cheerful cast.

Trautmann _Rembrandtized_ some resurrection-miracles out of the New
Testament, and alongside of them set fire to villages and mills. One
cabinet was entirely allotted to him, as I found from the designs of
the rooms. Hirt painted some good oak and beech forests. His cattle
were praiseworthy. Junker, accustomed to the imitation of the most
elaborate Dutch, was least able to manage this tapestry-work, but he
condescended to ornament many compartments with flowers and fruits for
a handsome price.

As I had known all these men from my earliest youth, and had often
visited them in their studios, and as the Count also liked to have me
with him, I was present at the suggestions, consultations, and orders,
as well as at the deliveries of the pictures, and ventured to speak my
opinion freely when sketches and designs were handed in. I bad already
gained among amateurs, particularly at auctions, which I attended
diligently, the reputation of being able to tell at once what any
historical picture represented, whether taken from Biblical or Profane
History, or from Mythology; and even if I did not always hit upon the
meaning of allegorical pictures, there was seldom any one present who
understood it better than I. Often had I persuaded the artists to
represent this or that subject, and I now joyfully made use of these
advantages. I still remember writing a circumstantial essay, in which I
described twelve pictures which were to exhibit the history of Joseph;
some of them were executed.

After these achievements, which were certainly laudable in a boy, I
will mention a little disgrace which happened to me within this circle
of artists. I was well acquainted with all the pictures which had been
from time to time brought into that room. My youthful curiosity left
nothing unseen or unexplored. I once found a little black box behind
the stove; I did not fail to investigate what might be concealed in
it, and drew back the bolt without long deliberation. The picture
contained was certainly of a kind not usually exposed to view, and
although I tried to bolt it again immediately, I was not quick enough.
The Count entered and caught me--"Who allowed you to open that box?" he
asked, with all his air of a Royal Lieutenant. I had not much to say
for myself, and he immediately pronounced my sentence in a very stern
manner. "For eight days," said he, "you shall not enter this room." I
made a bow, and walked out. Even this order I obeyed most punctually,
so that the good Seekatz, who was then at work in the room, was very
much annoyed, for he liked to have mo about him; and, out of a little
spite, I carried my obedience so far, that I left Seekatz's coffee,
which I generally brought him, upon the threshold. He was then obliged
to leave his work and fetch it, which he took so ill, that he almost
conceived a dislike to me.

[Side-note: French Theatre.]

It now seems necessary to state more circumstantially, and to make
intelligible how, under these circumstances, I made my way with more
or less ease through the French language, which, however, I had never
learned. Here, too, my natural gift was of service to me, enabling
me easily to catch the sound of a language, its movement, accent,
tone, and all other outward peculiarities. I knew many words from the
Latin; Italian suggested still more; and by listening to servants and
soldiers, sentries and visitors, I soon picked up so much that, if
I could not join in conversation, I could at any rate manage single
questions and answers. All this, however, was little compared to the
profit I derived from the theatre. My grandfather had given me a free
ticket, which I used daily, in spite of my father's reluctance, by dint
of my mother's support. There I sat in the pit, before a foreign stage,
and watched the more narrowly the movement and the expression, both
of gesture and speech, as I understood little or nothing of what was
said, and therefore could only derive entertainment from the action and
the tone of voice. I understood least of comedy, because it was spoken
rapidly, and related to the affairs of common life, of the phrases of
which I knew nothing. Tragedy was not so often played, and the measured
step, the rhythm of the Alexandrines, the generality of the expression,
made it more intelligible to me in every way. It was not long before
I took up Racine, which I found in my father's library, and declaimed
the pieces to myself, in the theatrical style and manner, as the organ
of my ear and the organ of speech, so nearly akin to that, had caught
it, and this with considerable animation, although I could not perceive
the connexion of a whole speech. I even learned entire passages by
rote, like a trained talking-bird, which was easier to me, from having
previously committed to memory passages from the Bible which are
generally unintelligible to a child, and accustomed myself to reciting
them in the tone of the Protestant preachers. The versified French
comedy was then much in vogue; the pieces of Destouches, Marivaux, and
La CHAISE, were often produced, and I still remember distinctly many
characteristic figures. Of those of Molière I recollect less. What made
the greatest impression upon me was the _Hypermnestra_ of Lemière,
which, as a new piece, was brought out with care and often repeated.
The _Devin du Village, Rose et Colas, Annette Lubin_, made each a
very pleasant impression upon me. I can even now recall the youths
and maidens decorated with ribands, and their gestures. It was not
long before the wish arose in me to see the interior of the theatre,
for which many opportunities were offered me. For as I had not always
patience to hear out the whole pieces, and often carried on all sorts
of games with other children of my age in the corridors, and in the
milder season even before the door, a handsome, lively boy joined us,
who belonged to the theatre, and whom I had seen in many little parts,
though only casually. He came to a better understanding with me than
with the rest, as I could turn my French to account with him, and he
the more attached himself to me because there was no boy of his age
or his nation at the theatre, or anywhere in the neighbourhood. We
also went together at other times, as well as during the play, and
even while the representations went on he seldom left me in peace. He
was a most delightful little braggart, chattered away charmingly and
incessantly, and could tell so much of his adventures, quarrels, and
other strange incidents, that he amused me wonderfully, and I learned
from him in four weeks more of the language, and of the power of
expressing myself in it, than can be imagined; so that no one knew how
I had attained the foreign tongue all at once, as if by inspiration.

In the very earliest days of our acquaintance he took me with him upon
the stage, and led me especially to the _foyers_, where the actors
and actresses remained during the intervals of the performance, and
dressed and undressed. The place was neither convenient nor agreeable,
for they had squeezed the theatre into a concert-room, so that there
were no separate chambers for the actors behind the stage. A tolerably
large room adjoining, which had formerly served for card-parties, was
now mostly used by both sexes in common, who appeared to feel as little
ashamed before each other as before us children, if there was not
always the strictest propriety in putting on or changing the articles
of dress. I had never seen anything of the kind before, and yet from
habit, after repeated visits, I soon found it quite natural.

[Side-note: "Derones" and his Sister.]

It was not long before a very peculiar interest of my own arose. Young
Derones, for so I will call the boy whose acquaintance I still kept up,
was, with the exception of his boasting, a youth of good manners, and
very courteous demeanour. He made me acquainted with his sister, a girl
who was a few years older than we were, and a very pleasant, well-grown
girl, of regular form, brown complexion, black hair and eyes; her
whole deportment had about it something quiet, even sad. I tried to
make myself agreeable to her in every way, but I could not attract her
notice. Young girls think themselves far advanced beyond younger boys,
and while aspiring to young men, they assume the manner of an aunt
towards the boy whose first inclination is turned towards them.--With a
younger brother of his I had no acquaintance.

Often, when their mother had gone to rehearsals, or was out visiting,
we met at her house to play and amuse ourselves. I never went there
without presenting the fair one with a flower, a fruit, or something
else, which she always received very courteously, and thanked me for
most politely, but I never saw her sad look brighten, and found no
trace of her having given me a further thought. At last I fancied I
had discovered her secret. The boy showed me a crayon-drawing of a
handsome man, behind his mother's bed, which was hung with elegant silk
curtains, remarking at the same time, with a sly look, that this was
not papa, but just the same as papa; and as he glorified this man, and
told me many things in his circumstantial and ostentatious manner, I
thought I had discovered that the daughter might belong to the father,
but the other two children to the intimate friend. I thus explained to
myself her melancholy look, and loved her for it all the more.

My liking for this girl assisted me in bearing the extravagances of her
brother, who was not always within bounds. I had often to endure prolix
accounts of his exploits, how he had already often fought, without
wishing to injure the other--all for the mere sake of honour. He had
always contrived to disarm his adversary, and had then forgiven him;
nay, he was such a good fencer, that he was once very much perplexed by
striking the sword of his opponent up into a high tree, so that it was
not easy to be got again.

What much facilitated my visits to the theatre was, that my free
ticket, coming from the hands of the _Schultheiss_, gave me access to
any of the seats, and therefore also to those in the proscenium. This
was very deep, after the French style, and was bordered on both sides
with seats, which, surrounded by a low rail, ascended in several rows
one behind another, so that the first seats were but a little elevated
above the stage. The whole was considered a place of special honour,
and was generally used only by officers, although the nearness of the
actors destroyed, I will not say all illusion, but, in a measure,
all enjoyment. I have thus experienced and seen with my own eyes the
usage or abuse of which Voltaire so much complains. If, when the
house was very full at such time as troops were passing through the
town, officers of distinction strove for this place of honour, which
was generally occupied already, some rows of benches and chairs were
placed in the proscenium on the stage itself, and nothing remained
for the heroes and heroines but to reveal their secrets in the very
limited space between the uniforms and orders. I have even seen the
_Hypermnestra_ performed under such circumstances.

The curtain did not fall between the acts, and I must yet mention
a strange custom which I thought quite extraordinary, as its
inconsistency with art was to me, as a good German boy, quite
unendurable. The theatre was considered the greatest sanctuary, and
any disturbance occurring there would have been instantly resented
as the highest crime against the majesty of the public. Therefore in
all comedies, two grenadiers stood with their arms grounded, in full
view, at the two sides of the back scene, and were witnesses of all
that occurred in the bosom of the family. Since, as I said before, the
curtain did not fall between the acts, two others, while music struck
up, relieved guard, by coming from the wings, directly in front of
the first, who retired in the same measured manner. Now, if such a
practice was well fitted to destroy all that in the theatre is called
illusion, this is the more striking, because it was done at a time
when, according to Diderot's principles and examples, the most _natural
naturalness_ was required upon the stage, and a perfect deception was
proposed as the proper aim of theatrical art. Tragedy, however, was
absolved from any such military-police regulations, and the heroes of
antiquity had the right of guarding themselves; nevertheless, the same
grenadiers stood near enough behind the side-scenes.

I will also mention that I saw Diderot's "Father of a Family," and
"The Philosophers" of Palissot, and still perfectly remember the figure
of the philosopher in the latter piece going upon all fours, and biting
into a raw head of lettuce.

[Side-note: Duel with "Derones."]

All this theatrical variety could not, however, keep us children
always in the theatre. In fine weather we played in front of it, and
in the neighbourhood, and committed all manner of absurdities, which,
especially on Sundays and festivals, by no means corresponded to our
personal appearance; for I and my comrades then appeared dressed as I
described myself in the tale, with the hat under the arm, and a little
sword, the hilt of which was ornamented with a large silk knot. One
day when we had long gone in this way, and Derones had joined us, he
took it into his head to assert to me that I had insulted him, and must
give him satisfaction. I could not, in truth, conceive what was the
cause of this; but I accepted his challenge, and was going to draw my
sword. However, he assured me that in such cases it was customary to
go to secluded spots, in order to be able to settle the matter more
conveniently. We therefore went behind some barns, and placed ourselves
in the proper position. The duel took place in a somewhat theatrical
style, the blades clashed, and the thrusts followed close upon each
other; but in the heat of the combat he remained with the point of his
sword lodged in the knot of my hilt. This was pierced through, and he
assured me that he had received the most complete satisfaction; then
embraced me, also theatrically, and we went to the next coffee-house
to refresh ourselves with a glass of almond-milk after our mental
agitation, and to knit more closely the old bond of friendship.

On this occasion I will relate another adventure which also happened to
me at the theatre, although at a later time. I was sitting very quietly
in the pit with one of my playmates, and we looked with pleasure at a
_pas seul_, which was executed with much skill and grace by a pretty
boy about our own age--the son of a French dancing-master who was
passing through the city. After the fashion of dancers, he was dressed
in a close vest of red silk, which ending in a short hoop-petticoat,
like a runner's apron, floated above the knee. We had given our meed
of applause to this young artist with the whole public, when--I know
not how--it occurred to me to make a moral reflection. I said to
my companion, "How handsomely this boy was dressed, and how well he
looked; who knows in how tattered a jacket he may sleep to-night!"--All
had already risen, but the crowd prevented our moving. A woman who had
sat by me, and who was now standing close beside me, chanced to be the
mother of the young artist, and felt much offended by my reflection.
Unfortunately, she knew German enough to understand me, and spoke it
just as much as was necessary to scold. She abused me violently. Who
was I, she would like to know, that had a right to doubt the family and
respectability of this young man? At all events, she would be bound he
was as good as I, and his talents might probably procure him a fortune,
of which I could not even venture to dream. This moral lecture she
read me in the crowd, and made those about me wonder what rudeness I
had committed. As I could neither excuse myself nor escape from her, I
was really embarrassed, and when she paused for a moment, said without
thinking, "Well! why do you make such a noise about it?--to-day red,
to-morrow dead."[2] These words seemed to strike the woman dumb. She
stared at me, and moved away from me as soon as it was in any degree
possible. I thought no more of my words; only, some time afterwards,
they occurred to me, when the boy, instead of continuing to perform,
became ill, and that very dangerously. Whether he died or not, I cannot

Such intimations, by an unseasonably or even improperly spoken word,
were held in repute even by the ancients, and it is very remarkable
that the forms of belief and of superstition have always remained the
same among all people and in all times.

From the first day of the occupation of our city, there was no lack of
constant diversion, especially for children and young people. Plays and
balls, parades, and marches through the town, attracted our attention
in all directions. The last particularly were always increasing, and
the soldiers' life seemed to us very merry and agreeable.

[Side-note: Marshal de Broglio.]

The residence of the King's Lieutenant at our house procured us the
advantage of seeing by degrees all the distinguished persons in the
French army, and especially of beholding close at hand the leaders
whose names had already been made known to us by reputation. Thus we
looked from stairs and landing-places, as if from galleries, very
conveniently upon the generals who passed by. Before all I remember
the PRINCE SOUBISE as a handsome, courteous gentleman, but most
distinctly the MARECHAL DE BROGLIO, who was a younger man, not tall,
but well-built, lively, active, and abounding in keen glances.

He often came to the King's Lieutenant, and it was soon remarked
that the conversation was on weighty matters. We had scarcely become
accustomed to having strangers quartered upon us in the first three
months, when a rumour was obscurely circulated that the Allies were
on the march, and that Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick was coming to
drive the French from the Maine. Of these, who could not boast of
any especial success in war, no high opinion was held, and after the
battle of Rossbach it was thought they might be dispersed. The greatest
confidence was placed in Duke Ferdinand, and all those favourable to
Prussia awaited with eagerness their delivery from the yoke hitherto
borne. My father was in somewhat better spirits--my mother was
apprehensive. She was wise enough to see that a small present evil
might easily be exchanged for a great affliction; since it was but
too plain that the French would not advance to meet the Duke, but
would wait an attack in the neighbourhood of the city. A defeat of the
French, a flight, a defence of the city, if it were only to cover their
rear and hold the bridge, a bombardment, a sack--all these presented
themselves to the excited imagination, and gave anxiety to both
parties. My mother, who could bear everything but suspense, imparted
her fears to the Count through the interpreter. She received the answer
usual in such cases: she might be quite easy, for there was nothing to
fear, and should keep quiet and mention the matter to no one.

Many troops passed through the city; we learned that they halted
at Bergen. The coming and going, the riding and running constantly
increased, and our house was in an uproar day and night. At this time
I often saw Marshal de Broglio, always cheerful, always the same in
look and manner, and I was afterwards pleased to find a man whose form
had made such a good and lasting impression upon me, so honourably
mentioned in history.

Thus, after an unquiet Passion-week, the Good-Friday of 1759 arrived.
A profound stillness announced the approaching storm. We children were
forbidden to quit the house: my father had no quiet, and went out. The
battle began: I ascended to the garret, where indeed I was prevented
seeing the country round, but could very well hear the thunder of
cannon and the general discharge of musketry. After some hours we saw
the first symptoms of the battle in a line of wagons, in which the
wounded, with various sad mutilations and gestures, were slowly drawn
by us, to be taken to the convent of St. Mary, now transformed into a
hospital. The compassion of the citizens was instantly moved. Beer,
wine, bread, and money were distributed to those who were yet able
to take them. But when, some time after, wounded and captive Germans
were seen in the train, the pity knew no limits, and it seemed as if
everybody would strip himself of every moveable that he possessed to
assist his suffering countrymen.

The prisoners, however, were an evidence of a battle unfavourable to
the allies. My father, whose party feelings made him quite certain that
these would come off victorious, had the violent temerity to go forth
to meet the expected victors, without thinking that the beaten party
must pass over him in their flight. He first repaired to his garden
before the Friedberg gate, where he found everything lonely and quiet,
then he ventured to the Bernheim heath, where he soon descried various
stragglers of the army, who were scattered and amused themselves by
shooting at the boundary-stones, so that the rebounding lead whizzed
round the head of the inquisitive wanderer. He therefore considered
it more prudent to go back, and learned on enquiry what the report of
the firing might have before informed him, that all stood well for the
French, and that there was no thought of retreating. Reaching home in
an ill-humour, the sight of his wounded and captured countrymen brought
him altogether out of his usual self-command. He also caused various
donations to be given to the passers by, but only the Germans were to
have them, which was not always possible, as fate had packed together
both friend and foe.

My mother and we children, who had already relied on the Count's word,
and had therefore passed a tolerably quiet day, were highly rejoiced,
and my mother doubly consoled, the next day, when having consulted
the oracle of her treasure-box, by the prick of a needle, she received
a very comfortable answer, both for present and future. We wished our
father similar faith and feelings; we flattered him as much as we
could; we entreated him to take some food, from which he had abstained
all day; but he repulsed our caresses and every enjoyment, and betook
himself to his chamber. Our joy, however, was not interrupted; the
affair was decided; the King's Lieutenant, who, against his habit, had
been on horseback to-day, at last returned home, where his presence was
more necessary than ever. We sprang to meet him, kissed his hands, and
testified our delight. This seemed much to please him. "Well," said
he more kindly than usual, "I am glad also for your sakes, my dear
children." He immediately ordered that sweetmeats, sweet wine, and the
best of everything should be given us, and went to his room, already
surrounded by a crowd of the urgent, the demanding, and the suppliant.

[Side-note: Quarrel with Count Thorane.]

We had now a fine collation, pitied our poor father who would not
partake of it, and pressed our mother to call him in; but she, more
prudent than we, well knew how distasteful such gifts would be to
him. In the meantime she had prepared some supper, and would readily
have sent a portion up to his room, but he never tolerated such an
irregularity even in the most extreme cases; and after the sweet
things were removed, we endeavoured to persuade him to come down into
the ordinary dining-room. At last he allowed himself to be persuaded
unwillingly, and we had no notion of the mischief which we were
preparing for him and ourselves. The staircase ran through the whole
house, along all the ante-rooms. My father in coming down had to go
directly past the Count's apartment. This ante-room was so full of
people, that the Count, to get through much at once, resolved to come
out, and this happened unfortunately at the moment when my father
descended. The Count met him cheerfully, greeted him, and remarked,
"You will congratulate yourselves and us that this dangerous affair is
so happily terminated." "By no means!" replied my father in a rage;
"would that it had driven you to the devil, even if I had gone with
you." The Count restrained himself for a moment, and then broke out
with wrath--"You shall pay for this," cried he; "you shall find that
you have not thus insulted the good cause and myself for nothing!"

My father, meanwhile, came down very calmly, seated himself near us,
seemed more cheerful than before, and began to eat. We were glad of
this, unconscious of the dangerous method in which he had rolled the
stone from his heart. Soon afterwards my mother was called out, and
we had great pleasure in chattering to our father about the sweet
things the Count had given us. Our mother did not return. At last the
interpreter came in. At a hint from him we were sent to bed; it was
already late, and we willingly obeyed. After a night quietly slept
through, we heard of the violent commotion which had shaken the house
the previous evening. The King's Lieutenant had instantly ordered my
father to be led to the guard-house. The subalterns well knew that
he was never to be contradicted; yet they had often earned thanks by
delaying the execution of his orders. The interpreter, whose presence
of mind never forsook him, contrived to excite this disposition in them
very strongly. The tumult, moreover, was so great, that a delay brought
with it its own concealment and excuse. He had called out my mother,
and put the adjutant, as it were, into her hands, that by prayers and
representations she might gain a brief postponement of the matter.
He himself hurried up to the Count, who with great self-command had
immediately retired into the inner room, and would rather allow the
most urgent affair to stand still, than wreak on an innocent person the
ill-humour once excited in him, and give a decision derogatory to his

The address of the interpreter to the Count, the train of the whole
conversation, were often enough repeated to us by the fat interpreter,
who prided himself not a little on the fortunate result, so that I can
still describe it from recollection.

[Side-note: The "Gossip" and Count Thorane.]

The interpreter had ventured to open the cabinet and enter, an act
which was severely prohibited. "What do you want?" shouted the Count,
angrily. "Out with you!--no one but St. Jean has a right to enter here."

"Well, suppose I am St. Jean for a moment," answered the interpreter.

"It would need a powerful imagination for that! Two of him would not
make one such as you. Retire!"

"Count, you have received a great gift from heaven, and to that I

"You think to flatter me! Do not fancy you will succeed."

"You have the great gift, Count, even in moments of passion--in moments
of rage, of listening to the opinions of others."

"Well, well, the question now is just about opinions, to which I have
listened too long. I know but too well that we are not liked here, and
that these citizens look askance at us."

"Not all!"

"Very many. What! These towns will be imperial towns, will they?
They saw their emperor elected and crowned, and when, being unjustly
attacked, he is in danger of losing his dominions and surrendering to
an usurper; when he fortunately finds faithful allies who pour out
their blood and treasure in his behalf--they will not put up with the
slight burden that falls to their share, towards humbling the enemy!"

"But you have long known these sentiments, and have endured them like
a wise man; they are, besides, held only by a minority. A few, dazzled
by the splendid qualities of the enemy, whom you yourself prize as an
extraordinary man, a few only--as you are aware."

"Yes, indeed! I have known and suffered it too long, otherwise this man
would not have presumed to utter such insults to my face, and at the
most critical moment. Let them be as many as they please, they shall
be punished in the person of this their audacious representative, and
perceive what they have to expect."

"Only delay, Count."

"In certain things one cannot act too promptly."

"Only a little delay, Count."

"Neighbour, you think to mislead me into a false step; you shall not

"I would neither lead you into a false step nor restrain you from
one; your resolution is just; it becomes the Frenchman and the King's
Lieutenant; but consider that you are also Count Thorane!"

"He has no right to interfere here."

"But the gallant man has a right to be heard."

"What would he say then?"

"King's Lieutenant," he would begin, "you have so long had patience
with so many gloomy, untoward, bungling men, if they were not really
too bad. This man has certainly been too bad, but control yourself,
King's Lieutenant, and every one will praise and extol you on that

"You know I can often endure your jests, but do not abuse my good-will.
These men--are they then completely blinded? Suppose we had lost the
battle, what would have been their fate at this moment? We fight up to
the gates, we shut up the city, we halt, we defend ourselves to cover
our retreat over the bridge. Think you, the enemy would have stood with
his hands before him? He throws grenades, and what he has at hand, and
they catch where they can. This house-holder--what would he have? Hero,
in these rooms, a bomb might now have burst, and another have followed
it;--in these rooms, the cursed China-paper of which I have spared,
incommoding myself, by not nailing up my maps! They ought to have spent
the whole day on their knees."

How many would have done that!"

"They ought to have prayed for a blessing on us, and to have gone out
to meet the generals and officers with tokens of honour and joy, and
the wearied soldiers with refreshments. Instead of this, the poison of
party-spirit destroys the fairest and happiest moments of my life, won
by so many cares and efforts."

"It is party-spirit; but you will only increase it by the punishment
of this man. Those who think with him will proclaim you a tyrant and
a barbarian:--they will consider him a martyr, who has suffered for
the good cause; and even those of the other opinion, who are now his
opponents, will see in him only their fellow-citizen, will pity him,
and while they confess your justice, will yet feel that you have
proceeded too severely."

"I have listened to you too much already,--now, away with you!"

"Hear only this. Remember this is the most unheard-of thing that could
befall this man, this family. You have had no reason to be edified
by the good-will of the master of the house; but the mistress has
anticipated all your wishes, and the children have regarded you as
their undo. With this single blow, you will for ever destroy the peace
and happiness of this dwelling. Indeed, I may say, that a bomb falling
into the house, would not have occasioned greater desolation. I have so
often admired your self-command, Count; give me this time opportunity
to adore you. A warrior is worthy of honour who considers himself a
guest in the house of an enemy; but here there is no enemy, only a
mistaking man. Control yourself, and you will acquire an everlasting

"That would be odd," replied the Count, with a smile.

"Merely natural," continued the interpreter; "I have not sent the wife
and children to your feet, because I know you detest such scenes; but
I will depict to you this wife and these children, how they will thank
you. I will depict them to you conversing all their lives of the battle
of Bergen, and of your magnanimity on this day, relating it to their
children, and children's children, and inspiring even strangers with
their own interest for you: an act of this kind can never perish."

"But you do not hit my weak side yet, interpreter! About posthumous
fame I am not in the habit of thinking; that is for others, not for me;
but to do right at the moment, not to neglect my duty, not to prejudice
my honour--that is my care. We have already had too many words; now
go--and receive the thanks of the thankless, whom I spare."

[Side-note: Thorane's Magnanimity.]

The interpreter, surprised and moved by this unexpectedly favourable
issue, could not restrain his tears, and would have kissed the Count's
hands. The Count motioned him off, and said severely and seriously,
"You know I cannot bear such things." And with these words he went
into the ante-room, to attend to his pressing affairs, and hear the
claims of so many expectant persons. So the matter was disposed of, and
the next morning we celebrated with the remnants of the yesterday's
sweetmeats, the passing over of an evil through the threatenings of
which we had happily slept.

Whether the interpreter really spoke so wisely, or merely so painted
the scene to himself, as one is apt to do after a good and fortunate
action, I will not decide; at least he never varied it in repeating
it. Indeed, this day seemed to him both the most anxious and the most
glorious in his life.

One little incident will show how the Count in general rejected all
false parade, never assumed a title which did not belong to him, and
how witty he was in his more cheerful moods.

A man of the higher class, who was one of the abstruse, solitary
Frankforters, thought he must complain of the quartering of the
soldiers upon him. He came in person, and the interpreter proffered him
his services, but the other supposed that he did not need them. He came
before the Count with a most becoming bow, and said, "Your excellency!"
The Count returned the bow, as-well as the "excellency." Struck by this
mark of honour, and not supposing but that the title was too humble,
he stooped lower, and said, "Monseigneur." "Sir," said the Count, very
seriously, "we will not go further, or else we may easily bring it to
Majesty." The ether gentleman was extremely confused, and had not a
word to utter. The interpreter, standing at some distance, and apprised
of the whole affair, was wicked enough not to move, but the Count,
with much cheerfulness, continued, "Well now, for instance, sir, what
is your name?" "Spangenberg," replied the other. "And mine," said the
Count, "is Thorane. Spangenberg, what is your business with Thorane?
Now, then, let us sit down; the affair shall at once be settled."

And thus the affair was indeed settled at once, to the great
satisfaction of the person I have here named Spangenberg, and the
same evening, in our family circle, the story was not only told by
the waggish interpreter, but was given with all the circumstances and

After these confusions, disquietudes, and grievances, the former
security and thoughtlessness soon returned, in which the young
particularly live from day to day, if it be in any degree possible. My
passion for the French theatre grew with every performance. I did not
miss an evening, though on every occasion, when after the play I sat
down with the family to supper,--often putting up-with the remains,--I
had to endure the constant reproaches of my father, that theatres were
useless, and would lead to nothing. In these cases I adduced all and
every argument which is at hand for the apologists of the stage when
they fall into a difficulty like mine. Vice in prosperity and virtue
in misfortune, are in the end set right by poetical justice. Those
beautiful examples of misdeeds punished, _Miss Sarah Sampson_, and
the _Merchant of London_, were very energetically cited on my part;
but, on the other hand, I often came off worst when the _Fouberies de
Scapin_, and others of the sort, were in the bill, and I was forced to
bear reproaches for the delight felt by the public in the deceits of
intriguing servants, and the successful follies of prodigal young men.
Neither party was convinced; but my father was very soon reconciled to
the theatre when he saw that I advanced with incredible rapidity in the
French language.

[Side-note: Juvenile Attempt at the Drama.]

Men are so constituted that everybody would rather undertake himself
what he sees done by others, whether he has aptitude for it or not.
I had soon exhausted the whole range of the French stage; several
pieces I had already witnessed for the third and fourth times; all
had passed before my eyes and mind, from the stateliest tragedy to
the most frivolous after-piece; and as when a child I had presumed to
imitate Terence, I did not fail now as a boy, on a much more inciting
occasion, to copy the French forms to the best of my ability and
want of ability. There were then performed some half-mythological,
half-allegorical pieces in the taste of PIRON; they partook somewhat
of the nature of parody, and were much liked. These representations
particularly attracted me: the little gold wings of a lively Mercury,
the thunderbolt of a disguised Jupiter, an amorous Danaë, or by
whatever name a fair one visited by the gods might be called, if indeed
it were not a shepherdess or huntress to whom they descended. And as
elements of this kind, from _Ovid's >Metamorphosis_, or the _Pantheon
Mythicum_ of Pomey, were humming in swarms about my head--I had soon
put together in my imagination a little piece of the kind, of which I
can only say that the scene was rural, and that there was no lack in
it of king's daughters, princes, or gods. Mercury, especially, made so
vivid an impression on my senses, that I could almost be sworn that I
had seen him with my own eyes.

I presented my friend Derones with a very neat copy, made by myself,
which he accepted with quite a special grace, and with a truly
patronizing air, glanced hastily over the manuscript, pointed out a
few grammatical blunders, found some speeches too long, and at last
promised to examine and judge the work more attentively when he had
the requisite leisure. To my modest question, whether the piece could
by any chance be performed, he assured me that it was not altogether
impossible. In the theatre, he said, a great deal went by favour, and
he would support me with all his heart: only the affair must be kept
private; for he had himself once on a time surprised the directors with
a piece of his own, and it would certainly have been acted if it had
not been too soon detected that he was the author. I promised him all
possible silence; and already saw in my mind's eye the name of my piece
posted up in large letters on the comers of the streets and squares.

Light-minded as my friend generally was, the opportunity of playing the
master was but too desirable. He read the piece through with attention,
and while he sat down with me to make some trivial alterations,
turned the whole thing, in the course of the conversation, completely
topsy-turvy, so that not one stone remained on another. He struck out,
added, took away one character, substituted another,--in short, went
on with the maddest wantonness in the world, so that my hair stood on
end. My previous persuasion that he must understand the matter, allowed
him to have his way, for he had often laid before me so much about the
Three Unities of Aristotle, the regularity of the French drama, the
probability, the harmony of the verse, and all that belongs to these,
that I was forced to regard him, not merely as informed, but thoroughly
grounded. He abused the English and scorned the Germans; in short, he
laid before me the whole dramaturgic litany which I have so often in my
life been compelled to hear.

Like the boy in the fable, I carried my mangled offspring home, and
strove in vain to bring it to life. As, however, I would not quite
abandon it, I caused a fair copy of my first manuscript, after a few
alterations, to be made by our clerk, which I presented to my father,
and thus gained so much that for a long time he let me eat my supper in
quiet after the play was over.

[Side-note: Dramatic Theories.]

This unsuccessful attempt had made me reflective, and I resolved now to
learn at the very sources, these theories, these laws, to which every
one appealed, but which had become suspicious to me chiefly through
the impoliteness of my arrogant master. This was not indeed difficult,
but laborious. I immediately read Corneille's _Treatise on the Three
Unities_, and learned from that how people would have it, but why
they desired it so was by no means clear to me; and what was worst of
all, I fell at once into still greater confusion when I made myself
acquainted with the disputes on the _Cid_, and read the prefaces in
which Corneille and Racine are obliged to defend themselves against the
critics and public. Here at least I plainly saw that no man knew what
he wanted; that a piece like _the Cid_, which had produced the noblest
effect, was to be condemned at the command of an all-powerful cardinal;
that Racine, the idol of the French living in my day, who had now also
become my idol--(for I had got intimately acquainted with him when
Schöff Von Olenschlager made us children act _Britannicus_, in which
the part of Nero fell to me)--that Racine, I say, even in his own day,
was not able to get on with the amateurs nor critics. Through all this
I became more perplexed than ever, and after having pestered myself a
long time with this talking backwards and forwards, and theoretical
quackery of the previous century, threw them to the dogs, and was the
more resolute in casting all the rubbish away, the more I thought I
observed that the authors themselves who had produced excellent things,
when they began to speak about them, when they set forth the grounds
of their treatment, when they desired to defend, justify, or excuse
themselves, were not always able to hit the proper mark. I hastened
back again, therefore, to the living present, attended the theatre far
more zealously, read more scrupulously and connectedly, so that I had
perseverance enough this time to work through the whole of Racine and
Molière, and a great part of Corneille.

The King's Lieutenant still lived at our house. He in no respect
had changed his deportment, especially towards us; but it was
observable, and the interpreter made it still more evident to us,
that he no longer discharged his duties with the same cheerfulness
and zeal as at the outset, though always with the same rectitude
and fidelity. His character and habits, which showed the Spaniard
rather than the Frenchman; his caprices, which were not without their
influence on his business; his unbending will under all circumstances;
his susceptibility as to everything that concerned his person or
reputation--all this together might perhaps sometimes bring him into
conflict with his superiors. Add to this, that he had been wounded in
a duel, which had arisen in the theatre, and it was deemed wrong that
the King's Lieutenant, himself chief of police, should have committed
a punishable offence. As I have said, all this may have contributed to
make him live more retired, and here and there perhaps to act with less

Meanwhile, a considerable part of the pictures he had ordered had been
delivered. Count Thorane passed his leisure hours in examining them,
while in the aforesaid gable-room he had them nailed up, canvas after
canvas, large and small, side by side, and because there was want of
space, even one over another, and then taken down and rolled up. The
works were constantly inspected anew; the parts that were considered
the most successful were repeatedly enjoyed; but there was no want of
wishes that this or that had been differently done.

Hence arose a new and very singular operation. As one painter best
executed figures, another middle-grounds and distances, a third trees,
a fourth flowers, it struck the Count that these talents might perhaps
be combined in the paintings, and that in this way perfect works might
be produced. A beginning was made at once, by having for instance
some beautiful cattle painted into a finished landscape. But because
there was not always adequate room for all, and a few sheep more or
less was no great matter to the cattle-painter, the largest landscape
proved in the end too narrow. Now also the painter of figures had to
introduce the shepherd, and some travellers; these deprived each other
of air, as we may say; and we marvelled that they were not all stifled,
even in the most open country. No one could anticipate what was to
come of the matter, and when it was finished it gave no satisfaction.
The painters were annoyed. They had gained something by their first
orders, but lost by these after-labours, though the Count paid for
them also very liberally. And as the parts worked into each other in
one picture by several hands, produced no good effect after all the
trouble, every one, at last, fancied that his own work had been spoiled
and destroyed by that of the others; hence the artists were within a
hair's-breadth of falling out, and becoming irreconcilably hostile
to each other. These alterations, or rather additions, were made in
the before-mentioned studio, where I remained quite alone with the
artists; and it amused me to hunt out from the studies, particularly of
animals, this or that individual or group, and to propose it for the
foreground or the distance, in which respect they many times, either
from conviction or kindness, complied with my wishes.

[Side-note: The Painter Seekatz.]

The partners in this affair were therefore greatly discouraged,
especially Seekatz, a very hypochondriacal, retired man, who indeed by
his incomparable humour was the best of companions among friends, but
who, when he worked, desired to work alone, abstracted and perfectly
free. This man, after solving difficult problems, and finishing them
with the greatest diligence and the warmest love, of which he was
always capable, was forced to travel repeatedly from Darmstadt to
Frankfort, either to change something in his own pictures, or to touch
up those of others, or even to allow, under his superintendence, a
third person to convert his pictures into a variegated mess. His
peevishness augmented, his resistance became more decided, and a great
deal of effort was necessary on our part to guide this "gossip"--for he
was one also--according to the Count's wishes. I still remember that
when the boxes were standing ready to pack up all the pictures, in the
order in which the upholsterer at their place of destination might
fix them up at once, a small but indispensable bit of afterwork was
demanded, but Seekatz could not be moved to come over. He had, by way
of conclusion, done the best he could, having represented in paintings
to be placed over the doors, the four elements as children and boys,
after life, and having expended the greatest care, not only on the
figures, but on the accessories. These were delivered and paid for, and
he thought he was quit of the business for ever; but now he was to come
over again, that he might enlarge, by a few touches of his pencil, some
figures, the size of which was too small. Another, he thought, could do
it just as well; he had already set about some new work; in short, he
would not come. The time for sending off the pictures was at hand; they
must also have opportunity to dry; every delay was precarious; and the
Count, in despair, was about to have him fetched in military fashion.
We all wished to see the pictures finally gone, and found at last no
expedient than for the gossip interpreter to seat himself in a wagon,
and fetch over the refractory subject, with his wife and child. He was
kindly received by the Count, well treated, and at last dismissed with
liberal payment.

After the pictures had been sent away, there was great peace in the
house. The gable-room in the attic was cleaned and given up to me; and
my father, when he saw the boxes go, could not refrain from wishing
to send off the Count after them. For much as the tastes of the Count
coincided with his own, much as he must have rejoiced to see his
principle of patronizing living artists so generously followed out by
a man richer than himself, much as it may have flattered him that his
collection had been the occasion of bringing so considerable a profit
to a number of brave artists in a pressing time, he nevertheless felt
such a repugnance to the foreigner who had intruded into his house,
that he could not think well of any of his doings. One ought to employ
painters, but not degrade them to paper-stainers; one ought to be
satisfied with what they have done, according to their conviction
and ability, even if it does not thoroughly please one, and not be
perpetually carping at it. In short, in spite of all the Count's
own generous endeavours, there could, once for all, be no mutual
understanding. My father only visited that room when the Count was at
table, and I can recall but one instance, when, Seekatz having excelled
himself, and the wish to see these pictures having brought the whole
house together, my father and the Count met, and manifested a common
pleasure in these works of art, which they could not take in each other.

[Side-note: Departure of Thorane.]

Scarcely, therefore, had the house been cleared of the chests and
boxes, than the plan for removing the Count, which had formerly been
begun, but was afterwards interrupted, was resumed. The endeavour
was made to gain justice by representations, equity by entreaties,
favour by influence, and the quarter-masters were prevailed upon to
decide thus: the Count was to change his lodgings, and our house, in
consideration of the burden borne day and night for several years
uninterruptedly, was to be exempt for the future from billetting. But,
to furnish a plausible pretext for this, we were to take in lodgers on
the first floor, which the Count had occupied, and thus render a new
quartering as it were impossible. The Count, who after the separation
from his dear pictures felt no further peculiar interest in the house,
and hoped moreover to be soon recalled and placed elsewhere, was
pleased to move without opposition to another good residence, and left
us in peace and good-will. Soon afterwards he quitted the city, and
received different appointments in gradation, but, it was rumoured, not
to his own satisfaction. Meantime, he had the pleasure of seeing the
pictures which he had preserved with so much care felicitously arranged
in his brother's chateau; he wrote sometimes, sent dimensions, and had
different pieces executed by the artists so often named. At last we
heard nothing further about him, except after several years we were
assured that he had died as governor of one of the French colonies in
the West Indies.

[1] The obsolete word "gossip" has been revived as an equivalent for
the German "_Gevatter._" But it should be observed that this word not
only signifies godfather, but that the person whose child has another
person for godfather (or godmother) is that person's _Gevatter_, or
_Gevatterin_ (feminine).

[2] A German proverb, "Heute roth, morgen todt."


Much inconvenience as the quartering of the French had occasioned
us, we had become so accustomed to it, that we could not fail to
miss it, nor could we children fail to feel as if the house were
deserted. Moreover it was not decreed that we should again attain
perfect family unity. New lodgers were already agreed upon, and after
some sweeping and scouring, planing and rubbing with bees'-wax,
painting and varnishing, the house was completely restored again. The
chancery-director Moritz, with his family, very worthy friends of
my parents, moved in. He was not a native of Frankfort, but an able
jurist and man of business, and managed the legal affairs of many small
princes, counts, and lords. I never saw him otherwise than cheerful
and pleasant, and diligent with his law papers. His wife and children,
gentle, quiet, and benevolent, did not indeed increase the sociableness
of our house, for they kept to themselves; but a stillness, a peace
returned, which we had not enjoyed for a long time. I now again
occupied my attic room, in which the ghosts of the many pictures
sometimes hovered before me, while I strove to frighten them away by
labour and study.

The Counsellor of Legation Moritz, a brother of the chancellor, came
from this time often to our house. He was even more a man of the world,
had a handsome figure, while his manners were easy and agreeable. He
also managed the affairs of different persons of rank, and on occasions
of meetings of creditors and imperial commissions frequently came into
contact with my father. They had a nigh opinion of each other, and
commonly stood on the side of the creditors, though they were generally
obliged to perceive, much to their vexation, that a majority of the
agents on such occasions are usually gained over to the side of the
debtors. The counsellor of legation readily communicated his knowledge,
was a friend to the** mathematics, and as these did not occur in his
present course of life, he made himself a pleasure by helping me on
in this branch of study. I was thus enabled to finish my architectural
sketches more accurately than heretofore, and to profit more by the
instruction of a drawing-master, who now also occupied us an hour every

[Side-note: Lessons in Drawing.]

This good old man was indeed only half an artist. We were obliged to
draw and combine strokes, from which eyes and noses, lips and ears,
nay, at last, whole faces and heads, were to arise, but of natural or
artistic forms there was no thought. We were tormented a long while
with this _quid pro quo_ of the human figure, and when the so-called
Passions of Le Brun were given us to copy, it was supposed at last that
we had made great progress. But ever, these caricatures did not improve
us. Then we went off to landscapes, foliage, and all the things which
in ordinary instruction are practised without consistency or method.
Finally we dropped into close imitation and neatness of strokes,
without troubling ourselves about the merit or taste of the original.

In these attempts our father led the way in an exemplary manner.
He had never drawn, but he was unwilling to remain behind now that
his children pursued this art, and would give, even in his old age,
an example how they should proceed in their youth. Several heads,
therefore, of Piazetta, from his well-known sheets in small octavo,
he copied with an English lead-pencil upon the finest Dutch paper.
In these he not only observed the greatest clearness of outline, but
most accurately imitated the hatching of the copper-plate with a light
hand--only too slightly, as in his desire to avoid hardness he brought
no keeping into his sketches. Yet they were always soft and accurate.
His unrelaxing and untiring assiduity went so far, that he drew the
whole considerable collection number by number, while we children
jumped from one head to another, and chose only those that pleased us.

About this time the long-debated project, long under consideration,
for giving us lessons in music, was earned into effect; and the last
impulse to it certainly deserves mention. It was settled that we should
learn the harpsichord; but there was always a dispute about the choice
of a master. At last I went once accidentally into the room of one of
my companions, who was just taking his lesson on the harpsichord, and
found the teacher a most charming man. For each finger of the right
and left hand he had a nickname, by which he indicated in the merriest
way when it was to be used. The black and white keys were likewise
symbolically designated, and even the tones appeared under figurative
names. Such a motley company worked most pleasantly together. Fingering
and time seemed to become perfectly easy and obvious, and while the
scholar was put into the best humour, everything else succeeded

[Side-note: The Eccentric Music-master.]

Scarcely had I reached home, than I importuned my parents to set about
the matter in good earnest at last, and give us this incomparable man
for our master on the harpsichord. They hesitated, and made inquiries;
they indeed heard nothing bad of the teacher; but, at the same time,
nothing particularly good. Meanwhile I had informed my sister of all
the droll names; we could hardly wait for the lesson, and succeeded in
having the man engaged.

The reading of the notes began first, but as no jokes occurred
here, we comforted ourselves with the hope that when we went to the
harpsichord, and the fingers were needed, the jocular method would
commence. But neither keys nor fingering seemed to afford opportunity
for any comparisons. Dry as the notes were, with their strokes on and
between the five lines, the black and white keys were no less so:
and not a syllable was heard either of "thumbling," "point-erling,"
or "goldfinger," while the countenance of the man remained as
imperturbable during his dry teaching as it had been before during his
dry jests. My sister reproached me most bitterly for having deceived
her, and actually believed that it was all an invention of mine. But I
was myself confounded and learned little, though the man at once went
regularly enough to work; for I kept always expecting that the former
jokes would make their appearance, and so consoled my sister from one
day to another. They did not reappear, however, and I should never have
been able to explain the riddle if another accident had not solved it
for me.

One of my companions came in during a lesson, and at once all the
pipes of the humorous _jet d'eau_ were opened; the "thumblings" and
"pointerlings," the "pickers" and "stealers," as he used to call
the fingers, the "falings" and "galings," meaning "f" and "g," the
"fielings" and "gielings," meaning "f" and "g" sharp,[1] became once
more extant, and made the most wonderful mannikins. My young friend
could not leave off laughing, and was rejoiced that one could learn in
such a merry manner. He vowed that he would give his parents no peace
until they had given him such an excellent man for a teacher.

And thus the way to two arts was early enough opened to me, according
to the principles of a modern theory of education, merely by good
luck, and without any conviction that I should be furthered therein
by a native talent. My father maintained that everybody ought to
learn drawing; for which reason, he especially venerated the Emperor
Maximilian, by whom this had been expressly commanded. He therefore
held me to it more steadily than to music, which, on the other hand,
he especially recommended to my sister, and even out of the hours
for lessons kept her fast, during a good part of the day, at her

But the more I was in this way made to press on, the more I wished
to press forward of myself, and my hours of leisure were employed in
all sorts of curious occupations. From my earliest years I felt a
love for the investigation of natural things. It is often regarded
as an instinct of cruelty that children like at last to break, tear,
and devour objects with which for a long time they have played, and
which they have handled in various manners. Yet even in this way is
manifested the curiosity, the desire of learning how such things hang
together, how they look within. I remember that as a child, I pulled
flowers to pieces to see how the leaves were inserted into the calyx,
or even plucked birds to observe how the feathers were inserted into
the wings. Children are not to be blamed for this, when even our
naturalists believe they get their knowledge oftener by separation and
division than by union and combination,--more by killing than by making

An armed loadstone, very neatly sewed up in scarlet cloth, was one day
destined to experience the effects of this spirit of inquiry. For the
secret force of attraction which it exercised not only on the little
iron bar attached to it, but which was of such a kind that it could
gain strength and could daily bear a heavier weight--this mysterious
virtue had so excited my admiration, that for a long time I was pleased
with merely staring at its operation. But at last I thought I might
arrive at some nearer revelation by tearing away the external covering.
This was done, but I became no wiser in consequence, as the naked iron
taught me nothing further. This also I took off, and I held in my hand
the mere stone, with which I never grew weary of making experiments
of various kinds on filings and needles--experiments from which my
youthful mind drew no further advantage beyond that of a varied
experience. I could not manage to reconstruct the whole arrangement;
the parts were scattered, and I lost the wondrous phenomenon at the
same time with the apparatus.

Nor was I more fortunate in putting together an electrical machine.
A friend of the family, whose youth had fallen in the time when
electricity occupied all minds, often told us how as a child he had
desired to possess such a machine, had got together the principal
requisites, and by the aid of an old spinning-wheel and some medicine
bottles, had produced tolerable results. As he readily and frequently
repeated the story, and imparted to us some general information on
electricity, we children found the thing very plausible, and long
tormented ourselves with an old spinning-wheel and some medicine
bottles, without producing even the smallest result. We nevertheless
adhered to our belief, and were much delighted when at the time of
the fair, among other rarities, magical and legerdemain tricks,
an electrical machine performed its marvels, which, like those of
magnetism, were at that time already very numerous.

The want of confidence in the public method of instruction was daily
increasing. People looked about for private tutors, and because single
families could not afford the expense, several of them united to attain
their object. Yet the children seldom agreed, the young man had not
sufficient authority, and after frequently repeated vexations, there
were only angry partings. It is not surprising, therefore, that other
arrangements were thought of which should be more permanent as well as
more advantageous.

[Side-note: Pfeil's Boarding-School.]

The thought of establishing boarding-schools (_Pensionen_) had
arisen from the necessity which every one felt for having the French
language taught and communicated orally. My father had brought up
a young person who had been his footman, valet, secretary, and in
short successively all in all. This man, whose name was Pfeil, spoke
French well. After he had married, and his patrons had to think of a
situation for him, they hit upon the plan of making him establish a
boarding-school, which extended gradually into a small academy, in
which everything necessary, and at last even Greek and Latin, were
taught. The extensive connexions of Frankfort caused young French and
English men to be brought to this establishment, that they might learn
German and be otherwise cultivated. Pfeil, who was a man in the prime
of life, and of the most wonderful energy and activity, superintended
the whole very laudably, and as he could never be employed enough, and
was obliged to keep music-teachers for his scholars, he set about music
on the occasion, and practised the harpsichord with such zeal that,
without having previously touched a note, he very soon played with
perfect readiness and spirit. He seemed to have adopted my father's
maxim, that nothing can more cheer and excite young people, than when
at mature years one declares one's self again a learner, and at an age
when new accomplishments are acquired with difficulty, one endeavours,
nevertheless, by zeal and perseverance, to excel the younger, who are
more favoured by nature.

By this love of harpsichord-playing Pfeil was led to the instruments
themselves, and while he hoped to obtain the best, came into connexion
with Frederici of Gera, whose instruments were celebrated far and wide.
He took a number of them on sale, and had now the joy of seeing not
only one piano, but many, set up in his residence, and of practising
and being heard upon them.

The vivacity of this man brought a great rage for music into our house.
My father remained on lasting good terms with him up to certain points
of dispute. A large piano of Frederici was purchased also for us,
which I, adhering to my harpsichord, hardly touched, but which so much
increased the troubles of my sister, as, to do proper honour to the new
instrument, she had to spend some time longer every day in practice;
while my father as overseer, and Pfeil as a model and encouraging
friend, alternately took their positions at her side.

A singular taste of my father caused much inconvenience to us
children. This was the cultivation of silk, of the advantages of which,
when it should be more widely extended, he had a high opinion. Some
acquaintances at Hanau, where the breeding of the worms was carried
on with great care, gave him the immediate impulse. At the proper
season, the eggs were sent to him from that place, and as soon as the
mulberry-trees showed sufficient leaves, they had to be stripped, and
the scarcely visible creatures were most diligently tended. Tables and
stands, with boards, were set up in a garret chamber, to afford them
more room and sustenance; for they grew rapidly, and after their last
change of skin were so voracious, that it was scarcely possible to get
leaves enough to feed them; nay, they had to be fed day and night, as
everything depends upon there being no deficiency of nourishment when
the great and wondrous change is about to take place in them. If the
weather was favourable, this business might indeed be regarded as a
pleasant amusement; but if the cold set in, so that the mulberry-trees
suffered, it was exceedingly troublesome. Still more unpleasant was it
when rain fell during the last epoch, for these creatures cannot at
all endure moisture, and the wet leaves had to be carefully wiped and
dried, which could not always be done quite perfectly; and for this, or
perhaps some other reason also, various diseases came among the flock,
by which the poor things were swept off in thousands. The corruption
which ensued produced a smell really pestilential, and because the dead
and diseased had to be taken away and separated from the healthy, the
business was indeed extremely wearisome and repulsive, and caused many
an unhappy hour to us children.

After we had one year passed the finest weeks of the spring and summer
in tending the silk-worms, we were obliged to assist our father in
another business, which, though simpler, was no less troublesome. The
Roman views, which, bound by black rods at the top and bottom, had
hung for many years on the walls of the old house, had become very
yellow, through the light, dust, and smoke, and not a little unsightly
through the flies. If such uncleanliness was not to be tolerated in the
new house, yet, on the other hand, these pictures had gained in value
to my father, in consequence of his longer absence from the places
represented. For in the outset such copies only serve to refresh and
vivify the impressions shortly before received. They seem trifling
in comparison, and at the best only a melancholy substitute. But as
the remembrance of the original forms fades more and more, the copies
imperceptibly assume their place, they become as dear to us as those
once were, and what we at first contemned, now gains esteem and
affection. Thus it is with all copies, and particularly with portraits.
No one is easily satisfied with the counterfeit of an object still
present, but how we value every _silhouette_ of one who is absent or

In short, with this feeling of his former extravagance, my father
wished that these engravings might be restored as much as possible.
It was well known that this could be done by bleaching; and the
operation, always critical with large plates; was undertaken under
rather unfavourable circumstances. For the large boards on which the
smoked engravings were moistened and exposed to the sun, stood in the
gutters before the garret windows, leaning against the roof, and were
therefore liable to many accidents. The chief point was, that the paper
should never thoroughly dry, but must be kept constantly moist. This
was the duty of my sister and myself; and the idleness, which would
have been otherwise so desirable, was excessively annoying, on account
of the tedium and impatience, and the watchfulness which allowed of no
distraction. The end, however, was attained, and the bookbinder who
fixed each sheet upon thick paper, did his best to match and repair the
margins, which had been here and there torn by our inadvertence. All
the sheets together were bound in a volume, and for this time preserved.

[Side-note: Lessons in English.]

That we children might not be wanting in every variety of life and
learning, a teacher of the English language must announce himself just
at this time, who pledged himself to teach English to anybody not
entirely raw in languages, within four weeks; and to advance him to
such a degree that, with some diligence, he could help himself further.
His price was moderate, and he was indifferent as to the number of
scholars at one lesson. My father instantly determined to make the
attempt, and took lessons, in connexion with my sister and myself, from
this expeditious master. The hours were faithfully kept; there was no
want of repeating our lessons; other exercises were neglected rather
than this, during the four weeks; and the teacher parted from us, and
we from him, with satisfaction. As he remained longer in the town,
and found many employers, he came from time to time to look after us
and to help us, grateful that we had been among the first who placed
confidence in him, and proud to be able to cite us as examples to the

My father, in consequence of this, entertained a new anxiety that
English might neatly stand in the series of my other studies in
languages. Now, I will confess that it became more and more burdensome
for me to take my occasions for study now from this grammar or
collection of examples, now from that; now from one author, now from
another, and thus to divert my interest in a subject every hour. It
occurred to me, therefore, that I might despatch all at once, and I
invented a romance of six or seven brothers and sisters, who, separated
from each other and scattered over the world, should communicate with
each other alternately as to their conditions and feelings. The eldest
brother gives an account in good German of all the manifold objects and
incidents of his journey. The sister, in a ladylike style, with short
sentences and nothing but stops, much as _Siegwart_ was afterwards
written, answers now him, now the other brothers, partly about domestic
matters, and partly about affairs of the heart. One brother studies
theology, and writes a very formal Latin, to which he often adds a
Greek postscript. To another brother, holding the place of mercantile
clerk at Hamburgh, the English correspondence naturally falls, while
a still younger one at Marseilles has the French. For the Italian was
found a musician, on his first trip into the world; while the youngest
of all, a sort of pert nestling, had applied himself to Jew-German,
the other languages having been cut off from him, and by means of his
frightful cyphers brought the rest of them into despair, and my parents
into a hearty laugh at the good notion.

I sought for matter to fill up this singular form by studying the
geography of the countries in which my creations resided, and by
inventing for those dry localities all sorts of human incidents, which
had some affinity with the characters and employments of my heroes.
Thus my exercise-books became much more voluminous, my father was
better satisfied, and I was much sooner made aware of the acquirements
and the sort of readiness in which I was wanting.

Now, as such things once begun have no end and no limits, so it
happened in the present case; for, while I strove to attain the
odd Jew-German, and to write it as well as I could read it, I soon
discovered that I ought to know Hebrew, from which alone the modern
corrupted dialect could be derived and handled with any certainty.
I consequently explained the necessity of my learning Hebrew to my
father, and earnestly besought his consent, for I had a still higher
object. Everywhere I heard it said that to understand the Old as well
as the New Testament, the original languages were requisite. The latter
I could read quite easily, because, that there might be no want of
exercise even on Sundays, the so-called Epistles and Gospels had, after
church, to be recited, translated, and in some measure explained. I now
designed doing the same thing with the Old Testament, the peculiarities
of which had always especially interested me.

[Side-note: Rector Albrecht.]

My father, who did not like to do anything by halves, determined to
request the rector of our Gymnasium, one Dr. ALBRECHT, to give me
private lessons weekly, until I should have acquired what was most
essential in so simple a language, for he hoped that if it would not be
despatched as soon as English was learned, it could at least be managed
in double the time.

Rector Albrecht was one of the most original figures in the world,
short, broad, but not fat, ill-shaped without being deformed,--in
short, an Æsop in gown and wig. His more than seventy-years-old face
was completely twisted into a sarcastic smile, while his eyes always
remained large, and, though red, were always brilliant and intelligent.
He lived in the old cloister of the Barefoot Friars, the seat of the
Gymnasium. Even as a child, I had often visited him in company with
my parents, and had, with a kind of trembling delight, glided through
the long dark passages, the chapels transformed into reception-rooms,
the place broken up and full of stairs and corners. Without annoying
me, he questioned me familiarly whenever we met, and praised and
encouraged me. One day, on the changing of the pupil's places after a
public examination, he saw me standing as a mere spectator, not far
from his chair, while he distributed the silver _præmia virtutis et
diligentia._ I was probably gazing very eagerly upon the little bag out
of which he drew the medals; he nodded to me, descended a step, and
handed me one of the silver pieces. My joy was great, although others
thought that this gift bestowed upon a boy not belonging to the school
was out of all order. But for this the good old man cared but little,
having always played the eccentric, and that in a striking manner.
He had a very good reputation as a schoolmaster, and understood his
business, although age no more allowed him to practise it thoroughly.
But almost more than by his own infirmities was he hindered by greater
circumstances, and, as I already knew, he was satisfied neither with
the consistory, the inspectors, the clergy, nor the teachers. To his
natural temperament, which inclined to satire, and the watching for
faults and defects, he allowed free play, both in his programs and
his public speeches, and as Lucian was almost the only writer whom he
read and esteemed, he spiced all that he said and wrote with biting

Fortunately for those with whom he was dissatisfied, he never went
directly to work, but only jeered at the defects which he wanted to
reprove, with hints, allusions, classic passages, and Scripture texts.
His delivery, moreover--he always read his discourses--was unpleasant,
unintelligible, and, above all, was often interrupted by a cough, but
more frequently by a hollow paunch-convulsing laugh, with which he
was wont to announce and accompany the biting passages. This singular
man I found to be mild and obliging when I began to take lessons from
him. I now went to him daily at six o'clock in the evening, and always
experienced a secret pleasure when the outer door closed behind me, and
I had to thread the long dark cloister-passage. We sat in his library
at a table covered with oil-cloth, a much-read Lucian never quitting
his side.

[Side-note: Hebrew Studies.]

In spite of all my willingness, I did not get at the matter without
difficulty, for my teacher could not suppress certain sarcastic remarks
as to the real truth about Hebrew. I concealed from him my designs
upon Jew-German, and spoke of a better understanding of the original
text. He smiled at this, and said I should be satisfied if I only
learned to read. This vexed me in secret, and I concentrated all my
attention when we came to the letters. I found an alphabet something
like the Greek, of which the forms were easy, and the names, for the
most part, not strange to me. All this I had soon comprehended and
retained, and supposed we should now go to reading. That this was done
from right to left I was well aware. But now, all at once appeared a
new army of little characters and signs, of points and strokes of all
sorts, which were in fact to represent vowels. At this I wondered the
more, as there were manifestly vowels in the larger alphabet, and the
others only appeared to be hidden under strange appellations. It was
also taught, that the Jewish nation, so long as it flourished, actually
were satisfied with the first signs, and knew no other way to write
and read. Most willingly then would I have gone on along this ancient,
and, as it seemed to me, easier path; but my worthy declared rather
sternly, that we must go by the grammar as it had been approved and
composed. Reading without these points and strokes, he said, was a
very hard undertaking, and could be accomplished only by the learned,
and those who were well practised. I must therefore make up my mind to
learn these little characters; but the matter became to me more and
more confused. Now, it seemed, some of the first and larger primitive
letters had no value in their places, in order that their little
after-born kindred might not stand there in vain. Now they indicated
a gentle breathing, now a guttural more or less rough, and now served
as mere equivalents. But, finally, when one fancied that one had well
noted everything, some of these personages, both great and small, were
rendered inoperative, so that the eyes always had very much, and the
lips very little to do.

As that of which I already knew the contents had now to be stuttered
in a strange gibberish, in which a certain snuffle and gargle were
not a little commended as something unattainable, I in a certain
degree deviated from the matter, and diverted myself in a childish
way with the singular names of these accumulated signs. There were
"emperors," "kings," and "dukes,"[2] which, as accents, governing here
and there, gave me not a little entertainment. But even these shallow
jests soon lost their charm. Nevertheless, I was indemnified, inasmuch
as by reading, translating, repeating, and committing to memory,
the substance of the book came out more vividly, and it was this,
properly, about which I desired to be enlightened. Even before this
time the contradiction between tradition and the actual and possible
had appeared to me very striking, and I had often put my private tutors
to a non-plus with the sun which stood still on Gibeon, and the moon
in the vale of Ajalon, to say nothing of other improbabilities and
incongruities. Everything of this kind was now awakened, while, in
order to master the Hebrew, I occupied myself exclusively with the Old
Testament, and studied it, though no longer in Luther's translation,
but in the literal version of Sebastian Schmid, printed under the
text which my father had procured for me. Here, unfortunately, our
lessons began to be defective, so far as practice in the language
was concerned. Reading, interpreting, grammar, transcribing, and the
repetition of words, seldom lasted a full half hour; for I immediately
began to aim at the sense of the matter, and, though we were still
engaged in the first book of Moses, to utter several things suggested
to me by the later books. At first the good old man tried to restrain
me from such digressions, but at last they seemed to entertain him
also. It was impossible for him to suppress his characteristic
cough and chuckle, and although he carefully avoided giving me any
information that might have compromised himself, my importunity was
not relaxed; nay, as I cared more to set forth my doubts than to learn
their solution, I grew constantly more vivacious and bold, seeming
justified by his deportment. Yet I could get nothing out of him, except
that ever and anon he would exclaim, with his peculiar shaking laugh,
"Ah! mad fellow! ah! mad boy!"

Still, my childish vivacity, which scrutinized the Bible on all
sides, may have seemed to him tolerably serious and worthy of some
assistance. He therefore referred me, after a time, to the large
English Biblical work which stood in his library, and in which the
interpretation of difficult and doubtful passages was attempted in
an intelligent and judicious manner. By the great labours of German
divines the translation had obtained advantages over the original. The
different opinions were cited, and at last a kind of reconciliation was
attempted, so that the dignity of the book, the ground of religion, and
the human understanding might in some degree co-exist. Now, is often
as towards the end of the lesson I came out with my usual questions
and doubts, so often did be point to the repository. I took the volume,
he let me read, turned over his Lucian, and when I made any remarks on
the book, his ordinary laugh was the only answer to my sagacity. In
the long summer days he let me sit as long as I could read, many times
alone; after a time he suffered me to take one volume after another
home with me.

[Side-note: The Old Testament.]

A man may turn whither he pleases, and undertake anything whatsoever,
but he will always return to the path which nature has once prescribed
for him. Thus it happened also with me in the present case. My trouble
about the language, about the contents of the Sacred Scriptures
themselves, ended at last in producing in my imagination a livelier
picture of that beautiful and famous land, its environs and its
vicinities, as well as of the people and events by which that little
spot of earth was made glorious for thousands of years.

This small space was to see the origin and growth of the human race;
thence we were to derive our first and only accounts of primitive
history; and such a locality was to lie before our imagination, no less
simple and comprehensible than varied and adapted to the most wonderful
migrations and settlements. Here, between four designated rivers, a
small delightful spot was separated from the whole habitable earth,
for youthful man. Here he was to unfold his first capacities, and
here at the same time was the lot to befall him, which was appointed
for all his posterity, namely, that of losing peace by striving after
knowledge. Paradise was trifled away; men increased and grew worse;
and the Elohim, not yet accustomed to the wickedness of the new race,
became impatient and utterly destroyed it. Only a few were saved from
the universal deluge; and scarcely had this dreadful flood ceased, than
the well known ancestral soil lay once more before the grateful eyes of
the preserved.

Two rivers out of four, the Euphrates and Tigris, still flowed in their
beds. The name of the first remained; the other seemed to be pointed
out by its course. Minuter traces of Paradise were not to be looked for
after so great a revolution. The renewed race of man went forth from
hence a second time; it found occasion to sustain and employ itself in
all sorts of ways, but chiefly to gather around it large herds of tame
animals and to wander with them in every direction.

This mode of life, as well as the increase of the families, soon
compelled the people to disperse. They could not at once resolve
to let their relatives and friends go for ever; they hit upon the
thought of building a lofty tower which should show them the way back
from the far distance. But this attempt, like their first endeavour,
miscarried. They could not be at the same time happy and wise, numerous
and united. The Elohim confounded their minds--the building remained
unfinished--the men were dispersed--the world was peopled, but sundered.

But our regards, our interests, are still fastened to these regions.
At last the founder of a race again goes forth from hence, and is so
fortunate as to stamp a distinct character upon his descendants, and
by that means to unite them for all time to come into a great nation,
inseparable through all changes of place or destiny.

[Side-note: The Old Testament.]

From the Euphrates, Abraham, not without divine guidance, wanders
towards the west. The desert opposes no invincible barrier to his
march. He attains the Jordan, passes over its waters, and spreads
himself over the fair southern regions of Palestine. This land was
already occupied, and tolerably inhabited. Mountains, not extremely
high, but rocky and barren, were severed by many watered vales
favourable to cultivation. Towns, villages, and solitary settlements
lay scattered over the plain and on the slopes of the great valley, the
waters of which are collected in Jordan. Thus inhabited, thus tilled
was the land; but the world was still large enough, and the men were
not so circumspect, necessitous, and active, as to usurp at once the
whole adjacent country. Between their possessions were extended large
spaces, in which grazing herds could freely move in every direction.
In one of these spaces Abraham resides; his brother Lot is near him;
but they cannot long remain in such places. The very condition of a
land, the population of which is now increasing, now decreasing, and
the productions of which are never kept in equilibrium with the wants,
produces unexpectedly a famine, and the stranger suffers alike with the
native, whose own support he has rendered difficult by his accidental
presence. The two Chaldean brothers move onward to Egypt, and thus is
traced out for us the theatre on which, for some thousands of years,
the most important events of the world were to be enacted. From the
Tigris to the Euphrates, from the Euphrates to the Nile, we see the
earth peopled; and this space also is traversed by a well-known,
heaven-beloved man, who has already become worthy to us, moving to
and fro with his goods and cattle, and, in a short time, abundantly
increasing them. The brothers return; but, taught by the distress they
have endured, they determine to part. Both, indeed, tarry in Southern
Canaan; but while Abraham remains at Hebron, near the wood of Mamre,
Lot departs for the valley of Siddim, which, if our imagination is bold
enough to give Jordan a subterranean outlet, so that in place of the
present Dead Sea we should have dry ground, can and must appear like
a second Paradise; a conjecture all the more probable, because the
residents about there, notorious for effeminacy and wickedness, lead
us to infer that they led an easy and luxurious life. Lot lives among
them, but apart.

But Hebron and the wood of Mamre appear to us as the important
place where the Lord speaks with Abraham, and promises him all the
land as far as his eye can reach in four directions. From these
quiet districts, from these shepherd tribes, who can associate with
celestials, entertain them as guests, and hold many conversations with
them, we are compelled to turn our glance once more towards the East,
and to think of the condition of the surrounding world, which on the
whole, perhaps, may have been like that of Canaan.

Families hold together: they unite, and the mode of life of the
tribes is determined by the locality which they have appropriated or
appropriate. On the mountains which send down their waters to the
Tigris, we find warlike populations, who even thus early foreshadow
those world-conquerors and world-rulers--and in a campaign, prodigious
for those times, give us a prelude of future achievements. Chedor
Laomer, king of Elam, has already a mighty influence over his allies.
He reigns a long while; for twelve years before Abraham's arrival in
Canaan, he had made all the people tributary to him as far as the
Jordan. They revolted at last, and the allies equipped for war. We
find them unawares upon a route by which probably Abraham also reached
Canaan. The people on the left and lower side of the Jordan were
subdued. Chedor Laomer directs his march southwards towards the people
of the Desert, then wending north, he smites the Amalekites, and when
he has also overcome the Amorites, he reaches Canaan, falls upon the
kings of the valley of Siddim, smites and scatters them, and marches
with great spoil up the Jordan, in order to extend his conquests as far
as Lebanon.

Among the captives, despoiled and dragged along with their property,
is Lot, who shares the fate of the country in which he lives a guest.
Abraham learns this, and here at once we behold the patriarch a warrior
and hero. He gathers together his servants, divides them into troops,
attacks and falls upon the luggage of booty, confuses the victors,
who could not suspect another enemy in the rear, and brings back
his brother and his goods, with a great deal more belonging to the
conquered kings. Abraham, by means of this brief contest, acquires, as
it were, the whole land. To the inhabitants he appears as a protector,
saviour, and, by his disinterestedness, a king. Gratefully the kings
of the valley receive him:--Melchisedek, the king and priest, with

Now the prophecies of an endless posterity are renewed, nay, they
take a wider and wider scope. From the waters of the Euphrates to the
river of Egypt all the lands are promised him; but yet there seems a
difficulty with respect to his next heirs. He is eighty years of age,
and has no son. Sarai, less trusting in the heavenly powers than he,
becomes impatient; she desires, after the oriental fashion, to have a
descendant by means of her maid. But scarcely is Hagar given up to the
master of the house, scarcely is there hope of a son, than dissensions
arise. The wife treats her own dependent ill enough, and Hagar flies to
seek a happier position among other tribes. She returns, not without a
higher intimation, and Ishmael is born.

Abraham is now ninety-nine years old, and the promises of a numerous
posterity are constantly repeated, so that in the end the pair regard
them as ridiculous. And yet Sarai becomes at last pregnant and brings
forth a son, to whom the name of Isaac is given.

[Side-note: Natural and Revealed Religion.]

History, for the most part, rests upon the legitimate propagation of
the human race. The most important events of the world require to
be traced to the secrets of families: and thus the marriages of the
patriarchs give occasion for peculiar considerations. It is as if
the Divinity, who loves to guide the destiny of mankind, wished to
prefigure here connubial events of every kind. Abraham, so long united
by childless marriage to a beautiful woman whom many coveted, finds
himself, by his hundredth year, the husband of two women, the father of
two sons; and at this moment his domestic peace is broken. Two women,
and two sons by different mothers, cannot possibly agree. The party
less favoured by law, usage, and opinion, must yield. Abraham must
sacrifice his attachment to Hagar and Ishmael. Both are dismissed, and
Hagar is compelled now, against her will, to go upon a road which she
once took in voluntary flight, at first, it seems, to the destruction
of herself and child; but the angel of the Lord, who had before sent
her back, now rescues her again, that Ishmael also may become a great
people, and that the most improbable of all promises may be fulfilled
beyond its limits.

Two parents in advanced years, and one son of their old age--here, at
last, one might expect domestic quiet and earthly happiness. By no
means. Heaven is yet preparing the heaviest trial for the patriarch.
But of this we cannot speak without premising several considerations.

If a natural universal religion was to arise, and a special revealed
one to be developed from it, the countries in which our imagination
has hitherto lingered, the mode of life, the race of men, were the
fittest for the purpose. At least, we do not find in the whole world
anything equally favourable and encouraging. Even to natural religion,
if we assume that it arose earlier in the human mind, there pertains
much of delicacy of sentiment; for it rests upon the conviction of an
universal providence, which conducts the order of the world as a whole.
A particular religion, revealed by Heaven to this or that people,
carries with it the belief in a special providence which the Divine
Being vouchsafes to certain favoured men, families, races, and people.
This faith seems to develope itself with difficulty from man's inward
nature. It requires tradition, usage, and the warrant of a primitive

Beautiful is it, therefore, that the Israelitish tradition represents
the very first men who confide in this particular providence as heroes
of faith, following all the commands of that high Being on whom they
acknowledge themselves dependent, just as blindly as, undisturbed by
doubts, they are unwearied in awaiting the later fulfilments of his

As a particular revealed religion rests upon the idea that one
man can be more favoured by Heaven than another, so it also arises
pre-eminently from the separation of classes. The first men appeared
closely allied; but their employments soon divided them. The hunter
was the freest of all; from him was developed the warrior and the
ruler. Those who tilled the field bound themselves to the soil, erected
dwellings and barns to preserve what they had gained, and could
estimate themselves pretty highly, because their condition promised
durability and security. The herdsman in his position seemed to have
acquired the most unbounded condition and unlimited property. The
increase of herds proceeded without end, and the space which was to
support them widened itself on all sides. These three classes seemed
from the very first to have regarded each other with dislike and
contempt; and as the herdsman was an abomination to the townsman, so
did he in turn separate from the other. The hunters vanish from our
sight among the hills, and re-appear only as conquerors.

The patriarchs belonged to the shepherd class. Their manner of life
upon the ocean of deserts and pastures, gave breadth and freedom to
their minds; the vault of heaven, under which they dwelt, with all its
nightly stars, elevated their feelings; and they, more than the active,
skilful huntsman, or the secure, careful, householding husbandman, had
need of the immovable faith that a God walked beside them, visited
them, cared for them, guided and saved them.

We are compelled to make another reflection in passing to the rest of
the history. Humane, beautiful, and cheering as the religion of the
patriarchs appears, yet traits of savageness and cruelty run through
it, out of which man may emerge, or into which he may again be sunk.

That hatred should seek to appease itself by the blood, by the death of
the conquered enemy, is natural; that men concluded a peace upon the
battle-field among the ranks of the slain, may easily be conceived;
that they should in like manner think to give validity to a contract
by slain animals, follows from the preceding. The notion also that
slain creatures could attract, propitiate, and gain over the gods, whom
they always looked upon as partisans, either opponents or allies, is
likewise not at all surprising. But if we confine our attention to the
sacrifices, and consider the way in which they were offered in that
primitive time, we find a singular, and, to our notions, altogether
repugnant custom, probably derived from the usages of war, viz., that
the sacrificed animals of every kind, and whatever number was devoted,
had to be hewn in two halves, and laid out on two sides, so that in the
space between them were those who wished to make a covenant with the

Another dreadful feature wonderfully and portentously pervades that
fair world, namely, that everything consecrated or vowed must die. This
also was probably an usage of war transferred to peace. The inhabitants
of a city which forcibly defends itself are threatened with such a
vow; it is taken by storm or otherwise. Nothing is left alive;--men
never, and often women, children, and even cattle, share a similar
fate. Such sacrifices are rashly and superstitiously and with more or
less distinctness promised to the gods, and those whom the votary would
willingly spare, even his nearest of kin, his own children, may thus
bleed, the expiatory victims of such a delusion.

[Side-note: The Old Testament.]

In the mild and truly patriarchal character of Abraham, such a savage
kind of worship could not arise; but the Godhead,[3] which often, to
tempt us, seems to put forth those qualities which man is inclined to
assign to it, imposes a monstrous task upon him. He must offer up his
son as a pledge of the new covenant, and, if he follows the usage,
must not only kill and burn him, but cut him in two, and await between
the smoking entrails a new promise from the benignant Deity. Abraham
blindly, and without lingering, prepares to execute the command; to
Heaven the will is sufficient. Abraham's trials are now at an end,
for they could not be carried further. But Sarai dies, and this gives
Abraham an opportunity for taking typical possession of the land of
Canaan. He requires a grave, and this is the first time he looks out
for a possession in this earth. He had before this probably sought
out a two-fold cave by the grove of Mamre. This he purchases with the
adjacent field, and the legal form which he observes on the occasion,
shows how important this possession is to him Indeed it was more so,
perhaps, than he himself supposed; for there he, his sons and his
grandsons, were to rest, and by this means, the proximate title to the
whole land, as well as the everlasting desire of his posterity to
gather themselves there, was most properly grounded.

From this time forth the manifold incidents of the family life become
varied. Abraham still keeps strictly apart from the inhabitants, and
though Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian woman, has married a daughter
of that land, Isaac is obliged to wed a kinswoman of equal birth with

Abraham despatches his servant to Mesopotamia, to the relatives whom
he had left behind there. The prudent Eleazer arrives unknown, and, in
order to take home the right bride, tries the readiness to serve of
the girls at the well. He asks to drink himself, and Rebecca, unasked,
waters his camels also. He gives her presents, he demands her in
marriage, and his suit is not rejected. He conducts her to the home
of his lord, and she is wedded to Isaac. In this case, too, issue has
to be long expected. Rebecca is not blessed until after some years of
probation, and the same discord which in Abraham's double marriage
arose through two mothers, here proceeds from one. Two boys of opposite
characters wrestle already in their mother's womb. They come to light,
the elder lively and vigorous, the younger gentle and prudent. The
former becomes the father's, the latter the mother's favourite. The
strife for precedence, which begins even at birth, is ever going on.
Esau is quiet and indifferent as to the birthright which fate has given
him; Jacob never forgets that his brother forced him back. Watching
every opportunity of gaining the desirable privilege, he buys the
birthright of his brother, and defrauds him of their father's blessing.
Esau is indignant, and vows his brother's death; Jacob flees to seek
his fortune in the land of his forefathers.

Now, for the first time, in so noble a family appears a member who
has no scruple in attaining by prudence and cunning the advantages
which nature and circumstances have denied him. It has often enough
been remarked and expressed, that the Sacred Scriptures by no means
intend to set up any of the patriarchs and other divinely-favoured
men as models of virtue. They, too, are persons of the most different
characters, with many defects and failings. But there is one leading
trait, in which none of these men after God's own heart can be
wanting--that is, an immovable faith that God has special care of them
and their families.

[Side-note: The Old Testament.]

General, natural religion, properly speaking, requires no faith; for
the persuasion that a great producing, regulating, and conducting
Being conceals himself, as it were, behind Nature, to make himself
comprehensible to us--such a conviction forces itself upon every one.
Nay, if we for a moment let drop this thread, which conducts us through
life, it may be immediately and everywhere resumed. But it is different
with a special religion, which announces to us that this Great Being
distinctly and pre-eminently interests himself for one individual, one
family, one people, one country. This religion is founded on faith,
which must be immovable if it would not be instantly destroyed. Every
doubt of such a religion is fatal to it. One may return to conviction,
but not to faith. Hence the endless probation, the delay in the
fulfilment of so often repeated promises, by which the capacity for
faith in those ancestors is set in the clearest light.

It is in this faith also that Jacob begins his expedition, and if by
his craft and deceit he has not gained our affections, he wins them by
his lasting and inviolable love for Rachel, whom he himself woos on
the instant, as Eleazar had courted Rebecca for his father. In him the
promise of a countless people was first to be fully unfolded; he was
to see many sons around him, but through them and their mothers was to
endure manifold sorrows of heart.

Seven years he serves for his beloved, without impatience and without
wavering. His father-in-law, crafty like himself, and disposed, like
him, to consider legitimate this means to an end, deceives him, and so
repays him for what he has done to his brother. Jacob finds in his arms
a wife whom he does not love. Laban, indeed, endeavours to appease him,
by giving him his beloved also after a short time, and this but on the
condition of seven years of further service. Vexation arises out of
vexation. The wife he does not love is fruitful, the beloved one bears
no children. The latter, like Sarai, desires to become a mother through
her handmaiden; the former grudges her even this advantage. She also
presents her husband with a maid; but the good patriarch is now the
most troubled man in the world--he has four women, children by three,
and none from her he loves. Finally she also is favoured, and Joseph
tomes into the world, the late fruit of the most passionate attachment.
Jacob's fourteen years of service are over, but Laban is unwilling to
part with him, his chief and most trusty servant. They enter into a new
compact, and portion the flocks between them. Laban retains the white
ones as most numerous, Jacob has to put up with the spotted ones, as
the mere refuse. But he is able here too to secure his own advantage;
and as by a paltry mess (_of pottage_) he had procured the birthright,
and by a disguise his father's blessing, he manages by art and sympathy
to appropriate to himself the best and largest part of the herds; and
on this side also he becomes the truly worthy progenitor of the people
of Israel, and a model for his descendants. Laban and his household
remark the result, if not the stratagem. Vexation ensues; Jacob flees
with his family and goods, and partly by fortune, partly by cunning,
escapes the pursuit of Laban. Rachel is now about to present him
another son, but dies in the travail: Benjamin, the child of sorrow,
survives her; but the aged father is to experience a still greater
sorrow from the apparent loss of his son Joseph.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps some one may ask why I have so circumstantially narrated
histories so universally known and so often repeated and explained. Let
the inquirer be satisfied with the answer, that I could in no other
way exhibit, how with my distracted life and desultory education, I
concentrated my mind and feelings in quiet action on one point; that
I was able in no other way to depict the peace that prevailed about
me, even when all without was so wild and strange. If an ever busy
imagination, of which that tale may bear witness, led me hither and
thither, if the medley of fable and history, mythology and religion,
threatened to bewilder me, I readily fled to those oriental regions,
plunged into the first books of Moses, and there, amid the scattered
shepherd-tribes, found myself at once in the greatest solitude and the
greatest society.

[Side-note: History of Joseph.]

These family scenes, before they were to lose themselves in a history
of the Jewish nation, show us now, in conclusion, a form by which the
hopes and fancies of the young in particular are agreeably excited:
Joseph, the child of the most passionate wedded love. He seems to us
tranquil and clear, and predicts to himself the advantages which are to
elevate him above his family. Cast into misfortune by his brothers, he
remains steadfast and upright in slavery, resists the most dangerous
temptations, rescues himself by prophecy, and is elevated according
to his deserts to high honours. He shows himself first serviceable
and useful to a great kingdom, then to his own kindred. He is like
his ancestor Abraham in repose and greatness, his grandfather Isaac
in silence and devotedness. The talent for traffic inherited from his
father he exercises on a large scale. It is no longer flocks which are
gained for himself from a father-in-law, but people, with all their
possessions, which he knows how to purchase for a king. Extremely
graceful is this natural story, only it appears too short, and one
feels called upon to paint it in detail.

Such a filling-up of biblical characters and events given only in
outline, was no longer strange to the Germans. The personages of both
the Old and New Testaments had received through Klopstock a tender and
affectionate nature, highly pleasing to the Boy as well as to many
of his contemporaries. Of Bodmer's efforts in this line little or
nothing came to him; but _Daniel in the Lion's Den_, by Moser, made
a great impression on the young heart. In that work a right-minded
man of business and courtier arrives at high honours through manifold
tribulations, and the piety for which they threatened to destroy him
became early and late his sword and buckler. It had long seemed to
me desirable to work out the history of Joseph, but I could not get
on with the form, particularly as I was conversant with no kind of
versification which would have been adapted to such a work. But now I
found a treatment of it in prose very suitable, and I applied all my
strength to its execution. I now endeavoured to discriminate and paint
the characters, and by the interpolation of incidents and episodes,
to make the old simple history a new and independent work. I did not
consider, what, indeed, youth cannot consider, that subject-matter
was necessary to such a design, and that this could only arise by the
perceptions of experience. Suffice, it to say, that I represented to
myself all the incidents down to the minutest details, and narrated
them accurately to myself in their succession.

What greatly lightened this labour was a circumstance which threatened
to render this work, and my authorship in general, exceedingly
voluminous. A young man of various capacities, but who had become
imbecile from over exertion and conceit, resided as a ward in my
father's house, lived quietly with the family, and if allowed to go
on in his usual way, was contented and agreeable. He had with great
care written out notes of his academical course, and had acquired a
rapid legible hand. He liked to employ himself in writing better than
in anything else, and was pleased when something was given him to
copy; but still more when he was dictated to, because he then felt
carried back to his happy academical years. To my father, who was
not expeditious in writing, and whose German letters were small and
tremulous, nothing could be more desirable, and he was consequently
accustomed, in the conduct of his own and other business, to dictate
for some hours a day to this young man. I found it no less convenient,
during the intervals, to see all that passed through my head fixed
upon paper by the hand of another, and my natural gift of feeling and
imitation grew with the facility of catching up and preserving.

As yet I had not undertaken any work so large as that biblical
prose-epic. The times were tolerably quiet, and nothing recalled my
imagination from Palestine and Egypt. Thus my manuscripts swelled more
and more every day, as the poem, which I recited to myself, as it were,
in the air, stretched along the paper; and only a few pages from time
to time needed to be rewritten.

When the work was done--for to my own astonishment it really came to an
end--I reflected that from former year, many poems were extant, which
did not even now appear to me utterly despicable, and which, if written
together in the same size with JOSEPH, would make a very neat quarto,
to which the title "Miscellaneous Poems" might be given. I was pleased
with this, as it gave me an opportunity of quietly imitating well-known
and celebrated authors. I had composed a good number of so-called
Anacreontic poems, which, on account of the convenience of the metre
and the easiness of the subject, flowed forth readily enough. But these
I could not well take, as they were not in rhyme, and my desire before
all things was to show my father something that would please him. So
much the more, therefore, did the spiritual odes seem suitable, which
I had very zealously attempted in imitation of the _Last Judgment_
of Elias Schlegel. One of these, written to celebrate the descent of
Christ into hell, received much applause from my parents and friends,
and had the good fortune to please myself for some years afterwards.
The so-called texts of the Sunday church-music, which were always to be
had printed, I studied with diligence. They were, indeed, very weak,
and I could well believe that my verses, of which I had composed many
in the prescribed manner, were equally worthy of being set to music,
and performed for the edification of the congregation. These and many
like them I had for more than a year before copied with my own hand,
because through this private exercise I was released from the copies of
the writing-master. Now, all were corrected and put in order, and no
great persuasion was needed to have them neatly copied by the young man
who was so fond of writing. I hastened with them to the bookbinder, and
when very soon after I handed the nice-looking volume to my father, he
encouraged me with peculiar satisfaction to furnish a similar quarto
every year; which he did with the greater conviction, as I had produced
the whole in my spare moments alone.

[Side-note: Plitt's Sermons.]

Another circumstance increased my tendency to these theological, or
rather biblical studies. The senior of the ministry, JOHN PHILIP
FRESENIUS, a mild man, of handsome, agreeable appearance, who was
respected by his congregation and the whole city as an exemplary
pastor and good preacher, but who, because he stood forth against the
Herrnhuters, was not in the best odour with the peculiarly pious;
while, on the other hand, he had made himself famous, and almost
sacred, with the multitude, by the conversion of a free-thinking
General who had been mortally wounded--this man died, and his
successor, Plitt, a tall, handsome, dignified man, who brought from
his _Chair_ (he had been a Professor in Marburg) the gift of teaching
rather than of edifying, immediately announced a sort of religious
course, to which his sermons were to be devoted in a certain methodical
connexion. I had already, as I was compelled to go to church, remarked
the distribution of the subject, and could now and then show myself
off by a pretty complete recitation of a sermon. But now as much was
said in the congregation, both for and against the new senior, and
many placed no great confidence in his announced didactic sermons,
I undertook to write them out more carefully, and I succeeded the
better from having made smaller attempts in a seat very convenient for
hearing, but concealed from sight. I was extremely attentive and on the
alert; the moment he said Amen I hastened from the church and consumed
a couple of hours in rapidly dictating what I had fixed in my memory
and on paper, so that I could hand in the written sermon before dinner.
My father was very proud of this success, and the good friend of the
family, who had just come in to dinner, also shared in the joy. Indeed,
this friend was very well-disposed to me, because I had so made his
_Messiah_ my own, that in my repeated visits to him to get impressions
of seals for my collection of coats-of-arms, I could recite long
passages from it till the tears stood in his eyes.

The next Sunday I prosecuted the work with equal zeal, and as the
mechanical part of it mainly interested me, I did not reflect upon
what I wrote and preserved. During the first quarter these efforts
may have continued pretty much the same; but as I fancied at last,
in my self-conceit, that I found no particular enlightenment as to
the Bible, nor clearer insight into dogmas, the small vanity which
was thus gratified seemed to me too dearly purchased for me to pursue
the matter with the same zeal. The sermons, once so many-leaved, grew
more and more meagre; and before long I should have relinquished this
labour altogether, if my father, who was a fast friend to completeness,
had not, by words and promises, induced me to persevere till the last
Sunday in Trinity--though, at the conclusion, scarcely more than the
text, the statement, and the divisions were scribbled on little pieces
of paper.

My father was particularly pertinacious on this point of completeness.
What was once undertaken must be finished, even if the inconvenience,
tedium, vexation, nay, uselessness of the thing begun were plainly
manifested in the meantime. It seemed as if he regarded completeness
as the only end, and perseverance as the only virtue. If in our family
circle, in the long winter evenings, we had begun to read a book aloud,
we were compelled to finish, though we were all in despair about it,
and my father himself was the first to yawn. I still remember such a
winter when we had thus to work our way through Bower's _History of
the Popes._ It was a terrible time, as little or nothing that occurs
in ecclesiastical affairs can interest children and young people.
Still, with all my inattention and repugnance, so much of that reading
remained in my mind that I was able, in after times, to take up many
threads of the narrative.

[Side-note: Lessons in Fencing.]

Amid all these heterogeneous occupations and labours, which followed
each other so rapidly that one could hardly reflect whether they
were permissible and useful, my father did not lose sight of the
main object. He endeavoured to direct my memory and my talent for
apprehending and combining to objects of jurisprudence, and therefore
gave me a small book by Hopp, in the shape of a catechism, and worked
up according to the form and substance of the Institutions. I soon
learned questions and answers by heart, and could represent the
catechist as well as the catechumen; and, as in religious instruction
at that time, one of the chief exercises was to find passages in the
Bible as readily as possible, so here a similar acquaintance with the
_Corpus Juris_ was found necessary, in which, also, I soon became
completely versed. My father wished me to go on, and the little STRUVE
was taken in hand; but here affairs did not proceed so rapidly. The
form of the work was not so favourable for beginners, that they could
help themselves on, nor was my father's method of illustration so
liberal as greatly to interest me.

Not only by the warlike state in which we lived for some years, but
also by civil life itself, and the perusal of history and romances, was
it made clear to me that there were many cases in which the laws are
silent and give no help to the individual, who must then see how to get
out of the difficulty by himself. We had now reached the period when,
according to the old routine, we were, besides other things, to learn
to fence and ride, that we might guard our skins upon occasion, and
have no pedantic appearance on horseback. As to the first, the practice
was very agreeable to us; for we had already, long ago, contrived to
make broad-swords out of hazel-sticks, with basket-hilts, neatly woven
of willow, to protect the hands. Now we might get real steel blades,
and the clash we made with them was very merry.

There were two fencing-masters in the city: an old earnest German,
who went to work in a severe and solid style, and a Frenchman, who
sought to gain his advantage by advancing and retreating, and by light
fugitive thrusts, which he always accompanied by cries. Opinions varied
as to whose manner was the best. The little company with which I was
to take lessons sided with the Frenchman, and we speedily accustomed
ourselves to move backwards and forwards, make passes and recover,
always breaking out into the usual exclamations. But several of our
acquaintance bad gone to the German teacher, and practised precisely
the opposite. These distinct modes of treating so important an
exercise, the conviction of each that his master was the best, really
caused a dissension among the young people, who were of about the same
age, and the fencing-schools occasioned serious battles,--for there
was almost as much fighting with words as with swords; and to decide
the matter in the end, a trial of skill between the two teachers
was arranged, the consequences of which I need not circumstantially
describe. The German stood in his position like a wall, watched his
opportunity, and contrived to disarm his opponent over and over again
with his cut and thrust. The latter maintained that this mattered not,
and proceeded to exhaust the other's wind by his agility. He fetched
the German several lunges, too, which, however, if they had been in
earnest, would have sent himself into the next world.

On the whole, nothing was decided or improved, except that some went
over to our countryman, of whom I was one. But I had already acquired
too much from the first master; and hence a considerable time elapsed
before the new one could break me of it, who was altogether less
satisfied with us renegades than with his original pupils.

As to riding, it fared still worse with me. It happened that they
sent me to the course in the autumn, so that I commenced in the
cool and damp season. The pedantic treatment of this noble art was
highly repugnant to me. From first to last the whole talk was about
sitting the horse, and yet no one could say in what a proper sitting
consisted, though all depended on that; for they went to and fro on
the horse-without stirrups. Moreover, the instruction seemed contrived
only for cheating and degrading the scholars. If one forgot to hook
or loosen the curb-chain, or let his switch fall down, or even his
hat,--every delay, every misfortune, had to be atoned for by money,
and one was even laughed at besides. This put me in the worst of
humours, particularly when I found the place of exercise itself quite
intolerable. The great nasty space, either wet or dusty, the cold, the
mouldy smell, all together was in the highest degree repugnant to me;
and since the stable-master always gave the others the best and me the
worst horses to ride, perhaps because they bribed him by breakfasts
and other gifts, or even by their own cleverness; since he kept me
waiting, and, as it seemed, slighted me, I spent the most disagreeable
hours in an employment that ought to have been the most pleasant in
the world. Nay, the impression of that time and of these circumstances
has remained with me so vividly, that although I afterwards became a
passionate and daring rider, and for days and weeks together scarcely
got off my horse, I carefully shunned covered riding-courses, and
at least passed only a few moments in them. The case often happens
that when the elements of an exclusive art are taught us, this is
done in a painful and revolting manner. The conviction that this is
both wearisome and injurious, has given rise in later times to the
educational maxim, that the young must be taught everything in an easy,
cheerful, and agreeable way: from which, however, other evils and
disadvantages have proceeded.

With the approach of spring, times became again more quiet with us, and
if in earlier days I had endeavoured to obtain a sight of the city, its
ecclesiastical, civil, public and private structures, and especially
found great delight in the still prevailing antiquities, I afterwards
endeavoured, by means of Lersner's _Chronicle_, and other Frankfortian
books and pamphlets belonging to my father, to revive the persons of
past times. This seemed to me to be well attained by great attention
to the peculiarities of times and manners, and of distinguished

[Side-note: The Rebel Fettmilch.]

Among the ancient remains, that which, from my childhood, had been
remarkable to me, was the skull of a state criminal, fastened up on
the tower of the bridge, who, out of three or four, as the naked
iron spikes showed, had, since 1616, been preserved in spite of
the encroachments of time and weather. Whenever one returned from
Sachsenhausen to Frankfort, one had this tower before one, and the
skull was directly in view. As a boy, I liked to hear related the
history of these rebels--Fettmilch and his confederates--how they had
become dissatisfied with the government of the city, had risen up
against it, plotted a mutiny, plundered the Jews' quarter, and excited
a fearful riot, but were at last captured, and condemned to death by
a deputy of the emperor. Afterwards I felt anxious to know the most
minute circumstance, and to hear what sort of people they were. When
from an old contemporary book, ornamented with woodcuts, I learned that
while these men had indeed been condemned to death, many councillors
had at the same time been deposed, because various kinds of disorder
and very much that was unwarrantable was then going on; when I heard
the nearer particulars now all took place, I pitied the unfortunate
persons who might be regarded as sacrifices made for a future better
constitution. For from that time was dated the regulation which allows
the noble old house of Limpurg, the Frauenstein-house, sprung from a
club, besides lawyers, tradespeople, and artisans, to take a part in a
government, which, completed by a system of ballot, complicated in the
Venetian fashion, and restricted by the civil colleges, was called to
do right, without acquiring any special privilege to do wrong.

Among the things which excited the misgivings of the Boy, and even of
the youth, was especially the state of the Jewish quarter of the city
(_Judenstadt_), properly called the Jew-street (_Judengasse_), as it
consisted of little more than a single street, which in early times may
have been hemmed in between the walls and trenches of the town, as in a
prison (_Zwinger._) The closeness, the filth, the crowd, the accent of
an unpleasant language, altogether made a most disagreeable impression,
even if one only looked in as one passed the gate. It was long before I
ventured in alone, and I did not return there readily, when I had once
escaped the importunities of so many men unwearied in demanding and
offering to traffic. At the same time the old legends of the cruelty
of the Jews towards Christian children, which we had seen hideously
illustrated in Gottfried's _Chronicle_, hovered gloomily before my
young mind. And although they were thought better of in modern times,
the large caricature, still to be seen, to their disgrace, on an arched
wall under the bridge tower, bore extraordinary witness against them;
for it had been made, not through private ill-will, but by public order.

However, they still remained, nevertheless, the chosen people of God,
and passed, no matter how it came about, as a memorial of the most
ancient times. Besides, they also were men, active and obliging, and
even to the tenacity with which they clung to their peculiar customs,
one could not refuse one's respect. The girls, moreover, were pretty,
and were far from displeased when a Christian lad, meeting them on
the sabbath in the Fischerfeld, showed himself kindly and attentive.
I was consequently extremely curious to become acquainted with their
ceremonies. I did not desist until I had frequently visited their
school, had assisted at a circumcision and a wedding, and had formed
a notion of the Feast of the Tabernacles. Everywhere I was well
received, pleasantly entertained, and invited to come again; for they
were persons of influence by whom I had been either introduced or

[Side-note: Public Burning of a Book.]

Thus, as a young resident in a large city, I was thrown about from one
object to another, and horrible scenes were not wanting in the midst of
the municipal quiet and security. Sometimes a more or less remote fire
aroused us from our domestic peace, sometimes the discovery of a great
crime, with its investigation and punishment, set the whole city in
an uproar for many weeks. We were forced to be witnesses of different
executions; and it is worth remembering, that I was also once present
at the burning of a book. The publication was a French comic romance,
which indeed spared the state, but not religion and manners. There was
really something dreadful in seeing punishment inflicted on a lifeless
thing. The packages burst asunder in the fire, and were raked apart
by an oven-fork, to be brought in closer contact with the flames. It
was not long before the kindled sheets were wafted about in the air,
and the crowd caught at them with eagerness. Nor could we rest until
we had hunted up a copy, while not a few managed likewise to procure
the forbidden pleasure. Nay, if it had been done to give the author
publicity, he could not himself have made a more effectual provision.

But there were also more peaceable inducements which took me about in
every part of the city. My father had early accustomed me to manage for
him his little affairs of business. He charged me particularly to stir
up the labourers whom he set to work, as they commonly kept him waiting
longer than was proper; because he wished everything done accurately,
and was used in the end to lower the price for a prompt payment. In
this way, I gained access to all the workshops; and as it was natural
to me to enter into the condition of others, to feel every species of
human existence, and sympathize in it with pleasure, these commissions
were to me the occasion of many most delightful hours, and I learned
to know every one's method of proceeding, and what joy and sorrow, what
advantages and hardships, were incident to the indispensable conditions
of this or that mode of life. I was thus brought nearer to that active
class which connects the lower and upper classes. For, if on the one
side stand those who are employed in the simple and rude products, and
on the other those who desire to enjoy something that has been already
worked up; the manufacturer, with his skill and hand, is the mediator
through whom the other two receive something from each other; each is
enabled to gratify his wishes in his own way. The household economy of
many crafts, which took its form and colour from the occupation, was
likewise an object of my quiet attention; and thus was developed and
strengthened in me the feeling of the equality, if not of all men, yet
of all human conditions,--the mere fact of existence seeming to me the
main point, and all the rest indifferent and accidental.

As my father did not readily allow himself an expense which would be
at once consumed in a momentary enjoyment--as I can scarcely call to
mind that we ever took a walk together, and spent anything in a place
of amusement,--he was, on the other hand, not niggardly in procuring
such things as had a good external appearance in addition to inward
value. No one could desire peace more than he, although he had not
felt the smallest inconvenience during the last days of the war. With
this feeling, he had promised my mother a gold snuffbox, set with
diamonds, which she was to receive as soon as peace should be publicly
declared. In the expectation of the happy event, they had laboured
now for some years on this present. The box, which was tolerably
large, had been executed in Hanau, for my father was on good terms
with the gold-workers there, as well as with the heads of the silk
establishments. Many designs were made for it; the cover was adorned by
a basket of flowers, over which hovered a dove with the olive-branch.
A vacant space was left for the jewels, which were to be set partly in
the dove and partly on the spot where the box is usually opened. The
jeweller to whom the execution and the requisite stones were entrusted
was named Lautensak, and was a brisk, skilful man, who like many
artists, seldom did what was necessary, but usually works of caprice,
which gave him pleasure. The jewels were very soon set, in the shape
in which they were to be put upon the box, on some black wax, and
looked very well; but they would not come off to be transferred to the
gold. In the outset, my father let the matter rest; but as the hope of
peace became livelier, and finally when the stipulations--particularly
the elevation of the Archduke Joseph to the Roman throne--seemed more
precisely known, he grew more and more impatient, and I had to go
several times a week, nay, at last, almost daily, to visit the tardy
artist. By means of my unremitted teazing and exhortation, the work
went on, though slowly enough; for as it was of that kind which can
be taken in hand or laid aside at will, there was always something by
which it was thrust out of the way, and put aside.

[Side-note: Lautensak's Bouquet.]

The chief cause of this conduct, however, was a task which the artist
had undertaken on his own account. Everybody knew that the Emperor
Francis cherished a strong liking for jewels, and especially for
coloured stones. Lautensak had expended a considerable sum, and as
it afterwards turned out larger than his means, on such gems, out of
which he had begun to shape a nosegay, in which every stone was to
be tastefully disposed, according to its shape and colour, and the
whole form a work of art worthy to stand in the treasure-vaults of
an emperor. He had, in his desultory way, laboured for many years
upon it, and now hastened--because after the hoped-for peace the
arrival of the Emperor, for the coronation of his son, was expected in
Frankfort--to complete it and finally to put it together. My desire
to become acquainted with such things he used very dexterously in
order to distract me as a bearer of threats, and to lead me away from
my intention. He strove to impart a knowledge of these stones to me,
and made me attentive to their properties and value, so in the end I
knew his whole bouquet by heart, and quite as well as he could have
demonstrated its virtues to a customer. It is even now before me, and
I have since seen more costly, but not more graceful specimens of
show and magnificence in this sort. He possessed, moreover, a pretty
collection of engravings, and other works of art, with which he liked
to amuse himself; and I passed many hours with him, not without profit.
Finally, when the Congress of Hubertsburg was finally fixed, he did
for my sake more than was due; and the dove and flowers actually
reached my mother's hands on the festival in celebration of the peace.

I then received also many similar commissions to urge on painters with
respect to pictures which had been ordered. My father had confirmed
himself in the notion--and few men were free from it--that a picture
painted on wood was greatly to be preferred to one that was merely put
on canvas. It was therefore his great care to possess good oak boards,
of every shape, because he well knew that just on this important point
the more careless artists trusted to the joiners. The oldest planks
were hunted up, the joiners were obliged to go accurately to work with
gluing, painting, and arranging, and they were then kept for years in
an upper room, where they could be sufficiently dried. A precious board
of this kind was intrusted to the painter JUNKER, who was to represent
on it an ornamental flower-pot, with the most important flowers drawn
after nature in his artistic and elegant manner. It was just about
the spring-time, and I did not fail to take him several times a week
the most beautiful flowers that fell in my way, which he immediately
put in, and by degrees composed the whole out of these elements with
the utmost care and fidelity. On one occasion I had caught a mouse,
which I took to him, and which he desired to copy as a very pretty
animal; nay, really represented it, as accurately as possible, gnawing
an ear of corn at the foot of the flower-pot. Many such inoffensive
natural objects, such as butterflies and chafers, were brought in and
represented, so that finally, as far as imitation and execution were
concerned, a highly valuable picture was put together.

Hence I was not a little astonished when the good man formally declared
one day, when the work was just about to be delivered, that the picture
no longer pleased him,--since, while it had turned out quite well in
its details, it was not well composed as a whole, because it had been
produced in this gradual manner; and he had perpetrated a blunder in
the outset, in not at least devising a general plan for light and
shade, as well as for colour, according to which the single flowers
might have been arranged. He examined with me the minutest parts of the
picture, which had arisen before my eyes during a half year, and had
in many respects pleased me, and managed to convince me perfectly,
much to my regret. Even the copy of the mouse he regarded as a mistake;
for many persons, he said, have a sort of horror of such animals, and
they should not be introduced where the object is to excite pleasure.
As it commonly happens with those who are cured of a prejudice, and
imagine themselves much more knowing than they were before, I now had
a real contempt for this work of art, and agreed perfectly with the
artist when he caused to be prepared another tablet of the same size,
on which, according to his taste, he painted a better formed vessel
and a more artistically arranged nosegay, and also managed to select
and distribute the little living accessories in an ornamental and
agreeable way. This tablet also he painted with the greatest care,
though altogether after the former copied one, or from memory, which,
through a very long and assiduous practice, came to his aid. Both
paintings were now ready, and we were thoroughly delighted with the
last, which was certainly the more artistic and striking of the two. My
father was surprised with two pictures instead of one, and to him the
choice was left. He approved of our opinion, and of the reasons for it,
and especially of our good-will and activity; but, after considering
both pictures some days, decided in favour of the first, without saying
much about the motives of his choice. The artist, in an ill-humour,
took back his second well-meant picture, and could not refrain from the
remark that the good oaken tablet on which the first was painted had
certainly its effect on my father's decision.

[Side-note: Oil-Cloth Factory.]

Now I am again speaking of painting, I am reminded of a large
establishment, where I passed much time, because both it and its
managers especially attracted me. It was the great oil-cloth factory
which the painter NOTHNAGEL had erected; an expert artist, but one who
by his mode of thought inclined more to manufacture than to art. In a
very large space of courts and gardens, all sorts of oil-cloths were
made, from the coarsest that are spread with a trowel, and used for
baggage-wagons and similar purposes, and the carpets impressed with
figures, to the finer and the finest, on which sometimes Chinese and
grotesque, sometimes natural flowers, sometimes figures, sometimes
landscapes were represented by the pencils of accomplished workmen.
This multiplicity, to which there was no end, amused me vastly. The
occupation of so many men, from the commonest labour to that in which
a certain artistic worth could not be denied, was to me extremely
attractive. I made the acquaintance of this multitude of younger
and older men, working in several rooms one behind the other, and
occasionally lent a hand myself. The sale of these commodities was
extraordinarily brisk. Whoever at that time was building or furnishing
a house, wished to provide for his lifetime, and this oil-cloth
carpeting was certainly quite indestructible. Nothnagel had enough to
do in managing the whole, and sat in his office surrounded by factors
and clerks. The remainder of his time he employed in his collection of
works of art, consisting chiefly of engravings, in which, as well as in
the pictures he possessed, he traded occasionally. At the same time he
had acquired a taste for etching; he etched a variety of plates, and
prosecuted this branch of art even into his latest years.

As his dwelling lay near the Eschenheim gate, my way when I had
visited him led me out of the city to some pieces of ground which
my father owned beyond the gates. One was a large orchard, the soil
of which was used as a meadow, and in which my father carefully
attended the transplanting of trees, and whatever else pertained to
their preservation, though the ground itself was leased. Still more
occupation was furnished by a very well-preserved vineyard beyond the
Friedberg gate, where between the rows of vines, rows of asparagus were
planted and tended with great care. Scarcely a day passed in the fine
season in which my father did not go there, and as on these occasions
we might generally accompany him, we were provided with joy and delight
from the earliest productions of spring to the last of autumn. We also
learned to occupy ourselves with gardening matters, which, as they were
repeated every year, became in the end perfectly known and familiar to
us. But after the manifold fruits of summer and autumn, the vintage
at last was the most lively and the most desirable: nay, there is no
question that as wine gives a freer character to the very places and
districts where it is grown and drunk, so also do these vintage-days,
while they close summer and at the same time open the winter, diffuse
an incredible cheerfulness. Joy and jubilation pervade a whole
district. In the daytime, huzzas and shoutings are heard from every end
and corner, and at night rockets and fire-balls, now here, now there,
announce that the people, everywhere awake and lively, would willingly
make this festival last as long as possible. The subsequent labour at
the wine-press, and during the fermentation in the cellar, gave us also
a cheerful employment at home, and thus we ordinarily reached winter
without being properly aware of it.

These rural possessions delighted us so much the more in the spring of
1763, as the 15th of February in that year was celebrated as a festival
day, on account of the conclusion of the Hubertsberg peace, under the
happy results of which the greater part of my life was to flow away.
But before I go further, I think I am bound to mention some men who
exerted an important influence on my youth.

[Side-note: Frankfort Characters - Von Olenschlager.]

VON OLENSCHLAGER, a member of the Frauenstein family, a Schöff, and
son-in-law of the above-mentioned Dr. Orth, a handsome, comfortable,
sanguine man. In his official holiday costume he could well have
personated the most important French prelate. After his academical
course, he had employed himself in political and state affairs, and
directed even his travels to that end. He greatly esteemed me, and
often conversed with me on matters which chiefly interested him. I
was with him when he wrote his _Illustration of the Golden Bull_;
when he managed to explain to me very clearly the worth and dignity
of that document. My imagination was led back by it to those wild and
unquiet times, so that I could not forbear representing what he related
historically, as if it were present, by pictures of characters and
circumstances, and often by mimicry. In this he took great delight, and
by his applause excited me to repetition.

I had from childhood the singular habit of always learning by heart the
beginnings of books, and the divisions of a work, first of the five
books of Moses, and then of the _Æneid_ and Ovid's _Metamorphoses._ I
now did the same thing with the _Golden Bull_, and often provoked my
patron to a smile, when I quite seriously and unexpectedly exclaimed,
"_Omne regnum in se divisum desolabitur; nam principes ejus facti sunt
socii furum._"[4] The knowing man shook his head, smiling, and said
doubtingly, "What times those must have been, when at a grand Diet,
the Emperor had such words published in the face of his princes!"

There was a great charm in Von Olenschlager's society. He received
little company, but was strongly inclined to intellectual amusement,
and induced us young people from time to time to perform a play; for
such exercises were deemed particularly useful to the young. We gave
the CANUTE of Schlegel, in which the part of the king was assigned to
me, Elfrida to my sister, and Ulfo to the younger son of the family. We
then ventured on the BRITANNICUS,[5] for, besides our dramatic talents,
we were to bring the language into practice. I took Nero, my sister,
Agrippina, and the younger son, Britannicus. We were more praised than
we deserved, and fancied that we had done it even beyond the amount of
praise. Thus I stood on the best terms with this family, and have been
indebted to them for many pleasures and a speedier development.

[Side-note: Frankfort Characters - Von Reineck.]

VON REINECK, of an old patrician family, able, honest, but stubborn, a
meagre, swarthy man, whom I never saw smile. The misfortune befell him
that his only daughter was carried off by a friend of the family. He
pursued his son-in-law with the most vehement prosecution; and because
the tribunals, with their formality, were neither speedy nor sharp
enough to gratify his desire of vengeance, he fell out with them; and
there arose quarrel on quarrel, suit on suit. He retired completely
into his own house and its adjacent garden, lived in a spacious but
melancholy lower-room, into which for many years no brush of a white
washer, and perhaps scarcely the broom of a maid-servant, had found its
way. Me he could readily endure, and he had especially commended to me
his younger son. He many times asked his oldest friends, who knew how
to humour him, his men of business and agents, to dine with him, and
on these occasions never omitted inviting me. There was good eating
and better drinking at his house. But a large stove, that let out the
smoke from many cracks, caused the greatest pain to his guests. One of
the most intimate of these once ventured to remark upon this, by asking
the host whether he could put up with such an inconvenience all the
winter. He answered, like a second Timon or Heautontimoroumenos: "Would
to God this was the greatest evil of those which torment me!" It was
long before he allowed himself to be persuaded to see his daughter and
grandson. The son-in-law never again dared to come into his presence.

On this excellent but unfortunate man my visits had a very favourable
effect; for while he liked to converse with me, and particularly
instructed me on world and state affairs, he seemed to feel himself
relieved and cheered. The few old friends who still gathered round him,
often, therefore, made use of me when they wished to soften his peevish
humour, and persuade him to any diversion. He now really rode out with
us many times, and again contemplated the country, on which he had not
cast an eye for so many years. He called to mind the old landowners,
and told stones of their characters and actions, in which he showed
himself always severe, but often cheerful and witty. We now tried also
to bring him again among other men, which, however, nearly turned out

About the same age, if indeed not older, was one HERR VON MALAPERT, a
rich man, who possessed a very handsome house by the Horse-market, and
derived a good income from salt-pits. He also lived quite secluded: but
in summer he was a great deal in his garden, near the Bockenheim gate,
where he watched and tended a very fine plot of pinks.

Von Reineck was likewise an amateur of pinks; the season of flowering
had come, and suggestions were made as to whether these two could not
visit each other. We introduced the matter, and persisted in it, till
at last Von Reineck resolved to go out with us one Sunday afternoon.
The greeting of the two old gentlemen was very laconic, indeed, almost
pantomimic, and they walked up and down by the long pink frames with
true diplomatic strides. The display was really extraordinarily
beautiful, and the particular forms and colours of the different
flowers, the advantages of one over the other, and their rarity, gave
at last occasion to a sort of conversation which appeared to get quite
friendly; at which we others rejoiced the more because we saw the most
precious old Rhine wine in cut decanters, fine fruits, and other good
things spread upon a table in a neighbouring bower. But these, alas,
we were not to enjoy. For Von Reineck unfortunately saw a very fine
pink with its head somewhat hanging down; he therefore took the stalk
near the calyx very cautiously between his fore and middle fingers,
and lifted the flower so that he could well inspect it. But even this
gentle handling vexed the owner. Von Malapert courteously, indeed, but
stiffly enough, and somewhat self-complacently, reminded him of the
_Oculis, non manibus._[6] Von Reineck had already let go the flower,
but at once took fire at the words, and said in his usual dry, serious
manner, that it was quite consistent with an amateur to touch and
examine them in such a manner. Whereupon he repeated the act, and took
the flower again between his fingers. The friends of both parties--for
Von Malapert also had one present--were now in the greatest perplexity.
They set one hare to catch another (that was our proverbial expression,
when a conversation was to be interrupted, and turned to another
subject), but it would not do; the old gentleman had become quite
silent, and we feared every moment that Von Reineck would repeat the
act, when it would be all over with us. The two friends kept their
principals apart by occupying them, now here, now there, and at last
we found it most expedient to make preparation for departure. Thus,
alas! we were forced to turn our backs on the inviting side-board, yet

[Side-note: Frankfort Characters - Hofrath Huisgen.]

HOFRATH HUISGEN, not born in Frankfort, of the reformed[7] religion,
and therefore incapable of public office, including the profession
of advocate, which, however, because much confidence was placed in
him as an excellent jurist, he managed to exercise quietly, both in
the Frankfort and the imperial courts, under assumed signatures, was
already sixty years old when I took writing lessons with his son, and
so came into his house. His figure was tall without being thin, and
broad without corpulency. You could not look, for the first time, on
his face, which was not only disfigured by smallpox, but deprived
of an eye, without apprehension. He always wore on his bald head a
perfectly white bell-shaped cap, tied at the top with a ribbon. His
morning-gowns, of calamanco or damask, were always very clean. He
dwelt in a very cheerful suite, of rooms on the ground-floor by the
_Allée_, and the neatness of everything about him corresponded with
this cheerfulness. The perfect arrangement of his papers, books, and
maps, produced a favourable impression. His son Heinrich Sebastian,
afterwards known by various writings on Art, gave little promise in
his youth. Good-natured but dull, not rude but blunt, and without
any special liking for instruction, he rather sought to avoid the
presence of his father, as he could get all he wanted from his mother.
I, on the other hand, grew more and more intimate with the old man,
the more I knew of him. As he attended only to important cases, he
had time enough to occupy and amuse himself in another manner. I
had not long frequented his house, and heard his doctrines, than I
could well perceive that he stood in opposition to God and the world.
One of his favourite books was _Agrippa de Vanitate Scientiarum_,
which he especially commended to me, and so set my young brains in a
considerable whirl for a long time. In the happiness of youth I was
inclined to a sort of optimism, and had again pretty well reconciled
myself with God or the Gods; for the experience of a series of years
had taught me that there was much to counterbalance evil, that one can
well recover from misfortune, and that one may be saved from dangers
and need not always break one's neck. I looked with tolerance, too, on
what men did and pursued, and found many things worthy of praise which
my old gentleman could not by any means abide. Indeed, once when he had
sketched the world to me, rather from the distorted side, I observed
from his appearance that he meant to close the game with an important
trump-card. He shut tight his blind left eye, as he was wont to do in
such cases, looked sharp out of the other, and said in a nasal voice,
"Even in God I discover defects."

My Timonic mentor was also a mathematician, but his practical turn
drove him to mechanics, though he did not work himself. A clock,
wonderful indeed in those days, which indicated not only the days
and hours, but the motions of the sun and moon, he caused to be made
according to his own plan. On Sunday, about ten o'clock in the morning,
he always wound it up himself, which he could do the more regularly, as
he never went to church. I never saw company nor guests at his house;
and only twice in ten years do I remember to have seen him dressed and
walking out of doors.

My various conversations with these men were not insignificant, and
each of them influenced me in his own way. From every one I had as
much attention as his own children, if not more, and each strove to
increase his delight in me as in a beloved son, while he aspired to
mould me into his moral counterpart. Olenschlager would have made me a
courtier, Von Reineck a diplomatic man of business; both, the latter
particularly, sought to disgust me with poetry and authorship. Huisgen
wished me to be a Timon after his fashion, but, at the same time, an
able juris-consult; a necessary profession, as he thought, with which
one could in a regular manner defend oneself and friends against the
rabble of mankind, succour the oppressed, and above all, pay off a
rogue; though the last is neither especially practicable nor advisable.

But if I liked to be at the side of these men to profit by their
counsels and directions, younger persons, only a little older
than myself, roused me to immediate emulation. I name here before
all others, the brothers SCHLOSSER and GRIESBACH. But, as I came
subsequently into a more intimate connexion with these, which lasted
for many years uninterruptedly, I will only say for the present, that
they were then praised as being distinguished in languages and other
studies which opened the academical course, and held up as models, and
that everybody cherished the certain expectation that they would once
do something uncommon in church and state.

With respect to myself, I also had it in my mind to produce something
extraordinary, but in what it was to consist was not clear. But as we
are apt to think rather upon the reward which may be received than
upon the merit which is to be acquired, so, I do not deny, that if I
thought of a desirable piece of good fortune, it appeared to me most
fascinating in the shape of that laurel garland which is woven to adorn
the poet.

[1] The names of the sharp notes in German terminate in "is," and hence
"f" and "g" sharp are called "fis" and "gis."

[2] These are the technical names for classes of accents in the Hebrew

[3] It should be observed that in this Biblical narrative, when we
have used the expressions "Deity," "Godhead," or "Divinity," Goethe
generally has "die Götter," or "the Gods."--_Trans,_

[4] Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to
desolation; for the princes thereof have become the associates of

[5] Racine's tragedy.--_Trans._

[6] Eyes, not hands.--_Trans._

[7] That is to say, he was a Calvinist, as distinguished from a


Every bird has its decoy, and every man is led and misled in a way
peculiar to himself. Nature, education, circumstances, and habit kept
me apart from all that was rude; and though I often came into contact
with the lower classes of people, particularly mechanics, no close
connexion grew out of it. I had indeed boldness enough to undertake
something uncommon and perhaps dangerous, and many times felt disposed
to do so; but I was without the handle by which to grasp and hold it.

Meanwhile I was quite unexpectedly involved in an affair which brought
me near to a great hazard, and at least for a long time into perplexity
and distress. The good terms on which I before stood with the boy whom
I have already named Pylades was maintained up to the time of my youth.
We indeed saw each other less often, because our parents did not stand
on the best footing with each other; but when we did meet, the old
raptures of friendship broke out immediately. Once we met in the alleys
which offer a very agreeable walk between the outer and inner gate of
Saint Gallus. We had scarcely returned greetings, than he said to me,
"I hold to the same opinion as ever about your verses. Those which you
recently communicated to me, I read aloud to some pleasant companions,
and not one of them will believe that you have made them." "Let it
pass," I answered; "we will make them and enjoy them, and the others
may think and say of them what they please."

"There comes the unbeliever now," added my friend. "We will not speak
of it," I replied; "what is the use of it? one cannot convert them."
"By no means," said my friend; "I cannot let the affair pass off in
this way."

After a short and indifferent conversation, my young comrade, who was
but too well disposed towards me, could not suffer the matter to drop,
without saying to the other, with some resentment, "Here is my friend
who made those pretty verses, for which you will not give him credit!"
"He will certainly not be offended at that," answered the other, "for
we do him an honour when we suppose that more learning is required to
make such verses than one of his years can possess." I replied with
something indifferent; but my friend continued, "It will not cost
much labour to convince you. Give him any theme, and he will make you
a poem on the spot." I assented, we were agreed, and the other asked
me whether I would venture to compose a pretty love-letter in rhyme,
which a modest young woman might be supposed to write to a young man,
to declare her inclination. "Nothing is easier than that," I answered,
"if I only had writing materials." He pulled out his pocket almanac,
in which there were a great many blank leaves, and I sat down upon a
bench to write. They walked about in the meanwhile, but always kept
me in sight. I immediately brought the required situation before my
mind, and thought how agreeable it must be if some pretty girl were
really attached to me, and would reveal her sentiments to me, either in
prose or verse. I therefore began my declaration with delight, and in
a little while executed it in a flowing measure, between doggerel and
madrigal, with the greatest possible _naïveté_, and in such a way that
the sceptic was overcome with admiration, and my friend with delight.
The request of the former to possess the poem I could the less refuse,
as it was-written in his almanac; and I willingly saw the documentary
evidence of my capabilities in his hands. He departed-with many
assurances of admiration and respect, and wished for nothing more than
that we should often meet; so we settled soon to go together into the

Our party actually took place, and was joined by several more young
people of the same rank. They were men of the middle, or, if you
please, of the lower class, who were not wanting in brains, and who
moreover, as they had gone through school, were possessed of various
knowledge and a certain degree of culture. In a large, rich city there
are many modes of gaining a livelihood. These got on by copying for the
lawyers, and by advancing the children of the lower order more than is
usual in common schools. With grown-up children, who were about to be
confirmed, they went through the religious courses; then, again, they
assisted factors and merchants in some way, and were thus enabled to
enjoy themselves frugally in the evenings, and particularly on Sundays
and festivals.

[Side-note: First Acquaintance With Gretchen.]

On the way there, while they highly extolled my love-letter, they
confessed to me that they had made a very merry use of it, viz.--that
it had been copied in a feigned hand, and, with a few pertinent
allusions, had been sent to a conceited young man, who was now firmly
persuaded that a lady to whom he had paid distant court was excessively
enamoured of him, and sought an opportunity for closer acquaintance.
They at the same time told me in confidence, that he desired nothing
more now than to be able to answer her in verse; but that neither he
nor they were skilful enough, so that they earnestly solicited me to
compose the much-desired reply.

Mystifications are and will continue to be an amusement for idle
people, whether more or less ingenious. A venial wickedness, a
self-complacent malice, is an enjoyment for those who have neither
resources in themselves nor a wholesome external activity. No age is
quite exempt from such pruriences. We had often tricked each other in
our childish years; many sports turn upon mystification and trick. The
present jest did not seem to me to go further; I gave my consent. They
imparted to me many particulars which the letter ought to contain, and
we brought it home already finished.

A little while afterwards I was urgently invited, through my friend,
to take part in one of the evening feasts of that society. The lover,
he said, was willing to bear the expense on this occasion, and desired
expressly to thank the friend who had shown himself so excellent a
poetical secretary.

We came together late enough, the meal was most frugal, the wine
drinkable: while as for the conversation, it turned almost entirely
on jokes upon the young man, who was present, and certainly not very
bright, and who, after repeated readings of the letter, almost believed
that he had written it himself.

My natural good-nature would not allow me to take much pleasure in such
a malicious deception, and the repetition of the same subject soon
disgusted me. I should certainly have passed a tedious evening, if an
unexpected apparition had not revived me. On our arrival the table
had already been neatly and orderly covered, and sufficient wine had
been put on; we sat down and remained alone, without requiring further
service. As there was, however, a want of wine at last, one of them
called for the maid; but instead of the maid there came in a girl of
uncommon, and, when one saw her with all around her, of incredible
beauty. "What do you desire?" she asked, after having cordially wished
us a good evening; "the maid is ill in bed. Can I serve you?" "The wine
is out," said one; "if you would fetch us a few bottles, it would be
very kind." "Do it, Gretchen,"[1] said another, "it is but a cat's leap
from here." "Why not?" she answered, and taking a few empty bottles
from the table, she hastened out. Her form, as seen from behind, was
almost more elegant. The little cap sat so neatly upon her little
head, which a slender throat united very gracefully to her neck and
shoulders. Everything about her seemed choice, and one could survey her
whole form the more at ease, as one's attention was no more exclusively
attracted and fettered by the quiet, honest eyes and lovely mouth.
I reproved my comrades for sending the girl out alone at night, but
they only laughed at me, and I was soon consoled by her return, as the
publican lived only just across the way. "Sit down with us, in return,"
said one. She did so; but, alas, she did not come near me. She drank
a glass to our health, and speedily departed, advising us not to stay
very long together, and not to be so noisy, as her mother was just
going to bed. It was not, however, her own mother, but the mother of
our hosts.

The form of that girl followed me from that moment on every path; it
was the first durable impression which a female being had made upon me;
and as I could find no pretext to see her at home, and would not seek
one, I went to church for love of her, and had soon traced out where
she sat. Thus, during the long Protestant service, I gazed my fill at
her. When the congregation left the church I did not venture to accost
her, much less to accompany her, and was perfectly delighted if she
seemed to have remarked me and to have returned my greeting with a
nod. Yet I was not long denied the happiness of approaching her. They
had persuaded the lover, whose poetical secretary I had been, that
the letter written in his name had been actually despatched to the
lady, and had strained to the utmost his expectations that an answer
must soon come. This, also, I was to write, and the waggish company
entreated me earnestly, through Pylades, to exert all my wit and employ
all my art, in order that this piece might be quite elegant and perfect.

[Side-note: Gretchen's Advice.]

In the hope of again seeing my fair one, I went immediately to work,
and thought of everything that would be in the highest degree pleasing
if Gretchen were writing it to me. I imagined I had written out
everything so completely from her form, her nature, her manner, and
her mind, that I could not refrain from wishing that it were so in
reality, and lost myself in rapture at the mere thought that something
similar could be sent from her to me. Thus I mystified myself, while
I intended to impose upon another; and much joy and much trouble was
yet to arise out of the affair. When I was once more summoned, I had
finished, promised to come, and did not fail at the appointed hour.
There was only one of the young people at home; Gretchen sat at the
window spinning; the mother was going to and fro. The young man desired
that I should read it over to him; I did so, and read not without
emotion, as I glanced over the paper at the beautiful girl; and when I
fancied that I remarked a certain uneasiness in her deportment, and a
gentle flush on her cheeks, I uttered better and with more animation
that which I wished to hear from herself. The cousin, who had often
interrupted me with commendations, at last entreated me to make some
amendments. These affected some passages which indeed were rather
suited to the condition of Gretchen than to that of the lady, who was
of a good family, wealthy, and known and respected in the city. After
the young man had designated the desired changes, and had brought me
an inkstand, but had taken, leave for a short time on account of some
business, I remained sitting on the bench against the wall, behind the
large table, and essayed the alterations that were to be made, on the
large slate, which almost covered the whole table, with a pencil that
always lay in the window, because upon this slate reckonings were often
made, and various memoranda noted down, and those coming in or going
out even communicated with each other.

I had for a-while written different things and rubbed them out again,
when I exclaimed impatiently, "It will not do!" "So much the better,"
said the dear girl, in a grave tone; "I wished that it might not do!
You should not meddle in such matters." She arose from the distaff,
and stepping towards the table, gave me a severe lecture, with a great
deal of good sense and kindliness. "The thing seems an innocent jest;
it is a jest, but it is not innocent. I have already lived to see
several cases, in which our young people, for the sake of such mere
mischief, have brought themselves into great difficulty." "But what
shall I do?" I asked; "the letter is written, and they rely upon me to
alter it." "Trust me," she replied, "and do not alter it; nay, take
it back, put it in your pocket, go away, and try to make the matter
straight through your friend. I will also put in a word; for look you,
though I am a poor girl, and dependent upon these relations,--who
indeed do nothing bad, though they often, for the sake of sport or
profit, undertake a good deal that is rash,--I have resisted them, and
would not copy the first letter, as they requested. They transcribed
it in a feigned hand, and if it is not otherwise, so may they also do
with this. And you, a young man of good family, rich, independent, why
will you allow yourself to be used as a tool in a business which can
certainly bring no good to you, and may possibly bring much that is
unpleasant?" I was glad to hear her speaking thus continuously, for
generally she introduced but few words into conversation. My liking
for her grew incredibly,--I was not master of myself,--and replied, "I
am not so independent as you suppose; and of what use is wealth to me,
when the most precious thing I can desire is wanting?"

She had drawn my sketch of the poetic epistle towards her, and read it
half aloud in a sweet and graceful manner. "That is very pretty," said
she, stopping at a sort of _naïve_ point; "but it is a pity that it is
not destined for a real purpose." "That were indeed very desirable,"
I cried, "and, oh! how happy must he be, who receives from a girl he
infinitely loves, such an assurance of her affection." "There is much
required for that," she answered; "and yet many things are possible."
"For example," I continued, "if any one who knew, prized, honoured,
and adored you, laid such a paper before you, what would you do?" I
pushed the paper nearer to her, which she had previously pushed back to
me. She smiled, reflected for a moment, took the pen, and subscribed
her name. I was beside myself with rapture, sprang up, and would have
embraced her. "No kissing!" said she, "that is so vulgar; but let
us love if we can." I had taken up the paper, and thrust it into my
pocket. "No one shall ever get it," said I; "the affair is closed.
You have saved me." "Now complete the salvation," she exclaimed, "and
hurry off, before the others arrive, and you fall into trouble and
embarrassment." I could not tear myself away from her; but she asked me
in so kindly a manner, while she took my right hand in both of hers,
and lovingly pressed it! The tears stood in my eyes; I thought hers
looked moist. I pressed my face upon her hands and hastened away. Never
in my life had I found myself in such perplexity.

[Side-note: Juvenile Love.]

The first propensities to love in an uncorrupted youth take altogether
a spiritual direction. Nature seems to desire that one sex may by the
senses perceive goodness and beauty in the other. And thus to me, by
the sight of this girl--by my strong inclination for her--a new world
of the beautiful and the excellent had arisen. I read my poetical
epistle a hundred times through, gazed upon the signature, kissed it,
pressed it to my heart, and rejoiced in this amiable confession. But
the more my transports increased, the more did it pain me, not to be
able to visit her immediately, and to see and converse with her again;
for I dreaded the reproofs and importunities of her cousins. The good
Pylades, who might have arranged the affair, I could not contrive
to meet. The next Sunday, therefore, I set out for Niederrad, where
these associates generally used to go, and actually found them there.
I was, however, greatly surprised, when, instead of behaving in a
cross, distant manner, they came up to me with joyful, countenances.
The youngest particularly was very friendly, took me by the hand, and
said, "You have lately played us a sorry trick, and we were very angry
with you; but your absconding and taking away the poetical epistle
has suggested a good thought to us, which otherwise might never have
occurred. By way of atonement, you may treat us to-day, and you shall
learn at the same time the notion we have, which will certainly give
you pleasure." This address put me in no little perplexity; for I had
about me only money enough to regale myself and a friend; but to treat
a whole company, and especially one which did not always stop at the
right time, I was by no means prepared; nay, the proposal astonished
me the more, as they had always insisted, in the most honourable
manner, that each one should pay only his own share. They smiled at my
distress, and the youngest proceeded, "Let us first take a seat in the
bower, and then you shall learn more." We sat down, and he said, "When
you had taken the love-letter with you, we talked the whole affair over
again, and came to a conclusion that we had gratuitously misused your
talent to the vexation of others and our own danger, for the sake of
a mere paltry love of mischief, when we could have employed it to the
advantage of all of us. See, I have here an order for a wedding-poem,
as well as for a dirge. The second must be ready immediately, the
other can wait a week. Now, if you make these; which is easy for you,
you will treat us twice, and we shall long remain your debtors." This
proposition pleased me in every respect; for I had already in my
childhood looked with a certain envy on the occasional poems,[2] of
which then several circulated every week, and at respectable marriages
especially came to light by the dozen, because I thought I could make
such things as well, nay, better than others. Now an opportunity was
offered me to show myself, and especially to see myself in print.
I did not appear disinclined. They acquainted me with the personal
particulars and the position of the family; I went somewhat aside, made
my plan, and produced some stanzas. However, when I returned to the
company, and the wine was not spared, the poem began to halt, and I
could not deliver it that evening. "There is still time till to-morrow
evening," they said; "and we will confess to you that the fee which
we receive for the dirge is enough to get us another pleasant evening
to-morrow. Come to us; for it is but fair that Gretchen too should sup
with us, as it was she properly who gave us the notion." My joy was
unspeakable. On my way home I had only the remaining stanzas in my
head, wrote down the whole before I went to sleep, and the next morning
made a very neat fair copy. The day seemed infinitely long to me; and
scarcely was it dusk, than I found myself again in the narrow little
dwelling beside the dearest of girls.

[Side-note: Gretchen and Her Friends.]

The young persons with whom in this way I formed a closer and closer
connexion were not properly low, but ordinary sort of people. Their
activity was commendable, and I listened to them with pleasure when
they spoke of the manifold ways and means by which one could gain a
living; above all they loved to tell of people, now very rich, who
had begun with nothing. Others to whom they referred had, as poor
clerks, rendered themselves indispensable to their employers, and had
finally risen to be their sons-in-law: while others had so enlarged
and improved a little trade in matches and the like, that they were
now prosperous merchants and tradesmen. But above all, to young men,
who were active on their feet, the trade of agent and factor, and the
undertaking of all sorts of commissions and charges for helpless rich
men was, they said, a most profitable means of gaining a livelihood.
We all heard this eagerly, and each one fancied himself somebody, when
he imagined, at the moment, that there was enough in him, not only to
get on in the world, but to acquire an extraordinary fortune. But no
one seemed to carry on this conversation more earnestly than Pylades,
who at last confessed that he had an extraordinary passion for a girl,
and was actually engaged to her. The circumstances of his parents would
not allow him to go to universities, but he had endeavoured to acquire
a fine handwriting, a knowledge of accounts, and the modern languages,
and would now do his best in hopes of attaining that domestic felicity.
The cousins praised him for this, although they did not approve of a
premature engagement to a girl, and they added, that while forced to
acknowledge him to be a fine good fellow, they did not consider him
active or enterprising enough to do anything extraordinary. While he,
in vindication of himself, circumstantially set forth what he thought
himself fit for, and how he was going to begin, the others were also
incited, and each one began to tell what he was now able to do, doing,
or carrying on, what he had already accomplished, and what he saw
immediately before him. The turn at last came to me. I was to set forth
my course of life and prospects, and while I was considering, Pylades
said, "I make this one proviso, if we all would stand on a level, that
he does not bring into the account the external advantages of his
position. He should rather tell us a tale how he would proceed if at
this moment he were thrown entirely upon his own resources, as we are."

Gretchen, who till this moment, had kept on spinning, rose and seated
herself as usual at the end of the table. We had already emptied some
bottles, and I began to relate the hypothetical history of my life in
the best humour. "First of all, then, I commend myself to you," said I,
"that you may continue the custom you have begun to bestow on me. If
you gradually procure me the profit of all the occasional poems, and we
do not consume them in mere feasting, I shall soon come to something.
But then you must not take it ill if I dabble also in your handicraft."
Upon this I told them what I had observed in their occupations, and
for which I held myself fit at any rate. Each one had previously
rated his services** in money, and I asked them to assist me also in
completing my establishment. Gretchen had listened to all hitherto very
attentively, and that in a position which well suited her, whether
she chose to hear or to speak. With both hands she clasped her folded
arms, and rested them on the edge of the table. Thus she could sit a
long while without moving anything but her head, which was never done
without occasion or meaning. She had several times put in a word and
helped us on over this and that, when we halted in our projects, and
then was again still and quiet as usual. I kept her in my eye, and it
may readily be supposed that I had not devised and uttered my plan
without reference to her. My passion for her gave to what I said such
an air of truth and probability, that for a moment I deceived myself,
imagined myself as lonely and helpless as my story supposed, and felt
extremely happy in the prospect of possessing her. Pylades had closed
his confession with marriage, and the question arose among the rest of
us, whether our plans went as far as that. "I have not the least doubt
on that score," said I, "for properly a wife is necessary to every one
of us, in order to preserve at home and enable us to enjoy as a whole
what we rake together abroad in such an odd way." I then made a sketch
of a wife, such as I wished, and it must have turned out strangely if
she had not been a perfect counterpart of Gretchen.

The dirge was consumed; the epithalamium now stood beneficially at
hand; I overcame all fear and care, and contrived, as I had many
acquaintances, to conceal my actual evening entertainments from my
family. To see and to be near the dear girl was soon an indispensable
condition of my being. The friends had grown just as accustomed to me,
and we were almost daily together, as if it could not be otherwise.
Pylades had, in the meantime, introduced his fair one into the house,
and this pair passed many an evening with us. They, as bride and
bridegroom, though still very much in the bud, did not conceal their
tenderness; Gretchen's deportment towards me was only suited to keep me
at a distance. She gave her hand to no one, not even to me; she allowed
no touch; yet she many times seated herself near me, particularly when
I wrote or read aloud, and then laying her arm familiarly upon my
shoulder, she looked over the book or paper. If, however, I ventured
on a similar freedom towards her, she withdrew, and would not soon
return. This position she often repeated, and indeed all her attitudes
and motions were very uniform, but always equally fitting, beautiful,
and charming. But such a familiarity I never saw her practise towards
anybody else.

[Side-note: The Höchst Market-Ship.]

One of the most innocent, and at the same time amusing, parties of
pleasure in which I engaged with different companies of young people,
was this: that we seated ourselves in the Höchst market-ship, observed
the strange passengers packed away in it, and bantered and teased, now
this one, now that, as pleasure or caprice prompted. At Höchst we got
out at the same time as the market-boat from Mentz arrived. At a hotel
there was a well-spread table, where the better sort of travellers,
coming and going, ate with each other, and then proceeded, each on
his way, as both ships returned. Every time, after dining, we sailed
up to Frankfort, having, with a very large company, made the cheapest
water-excursion that was possible. Once I had undertaken this journey
with Gretchen's cousins, when a young man joined us at table in Höchst,
who might be a little older than we were. They knew him, and he got
himself introduced to me. He had something very pleasing in his manner,
though he was not otherwise distinguished. Coming from Mentz, he now
went back with us to Frankfort, and conversed with me of everything
that related to the internal arrangements of the city, and the public
offices and places, on which he seemed to me to be very well informed.
When we separated he bade me farewell, and added, that he wished I
might think well of him, as he hoped on occasion to avail himself of my
recommendation. I did not know what he meant by this, but the cousins
enlightened me some days after; they spoke well of him, and asked me
to intercede with my grandfather, as a moderate appointment was just
now vacant, which this friend would like to obtain. I at first excused
myself, because I had never meddled in such affairs; but they went on
urging me until I resolved to do it. I had already many times remarked
that, in these grants of offices, which unfortunately were often
regarded as matters of favour, the mediation of my grandmother or an
aunt had not been without effect. I was now so advanced as to arrogate
some influence to myself. For that reason, to gratify my friends, who
declared themselves under every sort of obligation for such a kindness,
I overcame the timidity of a grandchild, and undertook to deliver a
written application that was handed in to me.

One Sunday, after dinner, as my grandfather was busy in his garden, all
the more because autumn was approaching, and I tried to assist him on
every side; I came forward with my request and the petition, after some
hesitation. He looked at it, and asked me whether I knew the young man.
I told him in general terms what was to be said, and he let the matter
rest there. "If he has merit, and moreover good testimonials, I will
favour him for your sake and his own." He said no more, and for a long
while I heard nothing of the matter.

[Side-note: Gretchen's New Situation.]

For some time I had observed that Gretchen span no more, but on the
other hand was employed in sewing, and that, too, on very fine work,
which surprised me the more, as the days were already shortening, and
winter was coming on. I thought no farther about it, only it troubled
me that several times I had not found her at home in the morning as
formerly, and could not learn, without importunity, whither she had
gone. Yet I was destined one day to be surprised in a very odd manner.
My sister, who was getting herself ready for a ball, asked me to fetch
her some so-called Italian flowers, at a fashionable milliner's. They
were made in convents, and were small and pretty; myrtles especially,
dwarf-roses, and the like, came out quite beautifully and naturally. I
granted her the favour, and went to the shop where I had already often
been with her. Hardly had I entered and greeted the proprietress, than
I saw sitting in the window a lady, who in a lace cap looked very young
and pretty, and in a silk mantilla seemed very well shaped. I could
easily recognize that she was an assistant, for she was occupied in
fastening a ribbon and feathers upon a hat: The milliner showed me the
long box with single flowers of various sorts; I looked them over, and
as I made my choice glanced again towards the lady in the window; butious, if not unpleasant
consequences. For some time, already, Count Lindto Gretchen, nay, was forced to be convinced at last that it was
Gretchen herself. No doubt remained, when she winked with her eyes and
gave me a sign that I must not betray our acquaintance. I now with my
choosing and rejecting drove the milliner into despair more than even a
lady could have done. I had, in fact, no choice, for I was excessively
confused, and at the same time liked to linger, because it kept me
near the girl, whose disguise annoyed me, though in that disguise she
appeared to me more enchanting than ever. Finally, the milliner seemed
to lose all patience, and with her own hands selected for me a whole
bandbox full of flowers, which I was to place before my sister and let
her choose for herself. Thus I was, as it were, driven out of the shop,
while she sent the box first by one of her girls.

Scarcely had I reached home than my father caused me to be called, and
communicated to me that it was now quite certain that the Archduke
Joseph would be elected and crowned King of Rome. An event so highly
important was not to be expected without preparation, nor allowed to
pass with mere gaping and staring. He wished, therefore, he said, to
go through with me the election and coronation-diaries of the two last
coronations, as well as through the last capitulations of election,
in order to remark what new conditions might be added in the present
instance. The diaries were opened, and we occupied ourselves with them
the whole day till far into the night, while the pretty girl, sometimes
in her old house-dress, sometimes in her new costume, ever hovered
before me, backwards and forwards among the most august objects of the
Holy Roman Empire. This evening it was impossible to see her, and I
lay awake through a very restless night. The study of yesterday was
the next day zealously resumed, and it was not till towards evening
that I found it possible to visit my fair one, whom I met again in her
usual house-dress. She smiled when she saw me, but I did not venture
to mention anything before the others. When the whole company sat
quietly together again, she began and said, "It is unfair that you
do not confide to our friend what we have lately resolved upon." She
then continued to relate, that after our late conversation, in which
the discussion was how any one could get on in the world, something
was also said of the way in which a woman could enhance the value of
her talent and labour, and advantageously employ her time. The cousins
had consequently proposed that she should make an experiment at a
milliner's who was just then in want of an assistant. They had, she
said, arranged with the woman; she went there so many hours a-day,
and was well paid; only when there she was obliged, for propriety's
sake, to conform to a certain dress, which, however, she left behind
her every time, as it did not at all suit her other modes of life and
employment. I was indeed set at rest by this declaration, but it did
not quite please me to know that the pretty girl was in a public shop,
and at a place where the fashionable world found a convenient resort.
But I betrayed nothing, and strove to work off my jealous care in
silence. For this the younger cousin did not allow me a long time, as
he once more came forward with a proposal for an occasional poem, told
me all the personalities, and at once desired me to prepare myself for
the invention and disposition of the work. He had already spoken with
me several times concerning the proper treatment of such a theme, and
as I was voluble in these cases, he readily asked me to explain to
him circumstantially what is rhetorical in these things, to give him
a notion of the matter, and to make use of my own and others' labours
in this kind for examples. The young man had some brains, though he
was without a trace of a poetical vein, and now he went so much into
particulars, and wished to have such an account of everything, that I
gave utterance to the remark: "It seems as if you wanted to encroach
upon my trade and steal away my customers!" "I will not deny it," said
he, smiling, "as I shall do you no harm by it. This will only continue
to the time when you go to the university, and till then you must allow
me still to profit something by your society." "Most cordially," I
replied, and I encouraged him to draw out a plan, to choose a metre
according to the character of his subject, and to do whatever else
might seem necessary. He went to work in earnest, but did not succeed.
I was in the end compelled to re-write so much of it, that I could
more easily and better have written it all from the beginning myself.
Yet this teaching and learning, this mutual labour, afforded us good
entertainment: Gretchen took part in it and had many a pretty notion,
so that we were all pleased, we may indeed say, happy. During the
day she worked at the milliner's: in the evenings we generally met
together, and our contentment was not even disturbed when at last the
commissions for occasional poems began to leave off. Still we felt
hurt once, when one of them came back under protest, because it did
not suit the party who ordered it. We consoled ourselves, however, as
we considered it our very best work, and could therefore declare the
other a bad judge. The cousin, who was determined to learn something
at any rate, resorted to the expedient of inventing problems, in the
solution of which we always found amusement enough, but as they brought
in nothing, our little banquets had to be much more frugally managed.

[Side-note: Preparations for the Election.]

That great political object, the election and coronation of a King of
Rome, was pursued with more and more earnestness. The assembling of
the electoral college, originally appointed to take place at Augsburg
in the October of 1763, was now transferred to Frankfort, and both at
the end of this year and in the beginning of the next, preparations
went forward, which should usher in this important business. The
beginning was made by a parade never yet seen by us. One of our
chancery officials on horseback, escorted by four trumpeters likewise
mounted, and surrounded by a guard of infantry, read in a loud clear
voice at all the corners of the city, a prolix edict, which announced
the forthcoming proceedings, and exhorted the citizens to a becoming
deportment suitable to the circumstances. The council was occupied
with weighty considerations, and it was not long before the Imperial
Quarter-Master, despatched by the Hereditary Grand Marshal, made
his appearance, in order to arrange and designate the residences of
the ambassadors and their suites, according to the old custom. Our
house lay in the Palatine district, and we had to provide for a new
but agreeable billetting. The middle story, which Count Thorane had
formerly occupied, was given up to a cavalier of the Palatinate, and as
Baron von Königsthal, the Nuremberg _chargé d'affaires_, occupied the
upper floor, we were still more crowded than in the time of the French.
This served me as a new excuse to be out of doors, and to pass the
greater part of the day in the streets, that I might see all that was
open to public view.

After the preliminary alteration and arrangement of the rooms in the
town-house had seemed to us worth seeing, after the arrival of the
ambassadors one after another, and their first solemn ascent in a body,
on the 6th of February, had taken place, we admired the coming in of
the imperial commissioners, and their ascent also to the _Römer_,
which was made with great pomp. The dignified person of the PRINCE of
LICHTENSTEIN made a good impression; yet connoisseurs maintained that
the showy liveries had already been used on another occasion, and that
this election and coronation would hardly equal in brilliancy that
of Charles the Seventh. We younger folks were content with what was
before our eyes; all seemed to us very fine, and much of it perfectly

The electoral congress was fixed at last for the 3rd of March. New
formalities again set the city in motion, and the alternate visits of
ceremony on the part of the ambassadors kept us always on our legs.
We were compelled, too, to watch closely, as we were not only to gape
about, but to note everything well, in order to give a proper report at
home, and even to make out many little memoirs, on which my father and
Herr von Königsthal had deliberated, partly for our exercise and partly
for their own information. And certainly this was of peculiar advantage
to me, as I was enabled very tolerably to keep a living election and
coronation-diary, as far as regarded externals.

[Side-note: Baron Von Plotho.]

The person who first of all made a durable impression upon me was
the chief ambassador from the electorate of Mentz, BARON VON ERTHAL,
afterwards Elector. Without having anything striking in his figure,
he was always highly pleasing to me in his black gown trimmed with
lace. The second ambassador, BARON VON GROSCHLAG, was a well-formed
man of the world, easy in his exterior, but conducting himself with
great decorum. He everywhere produced a very agreeable impression.
PRINCE ESTERHAZY, the Bohemian envoy, was not tall, though well-formed,
lively, and at the same time eminently decorous, without pride or
coldness. I had a special liking for him, because he reminded me
of MARSHAL DE BROGLIO. Yet the form and dignity of these excellent
persons vanished, in a certain degree, before the prejudice that was
entertained in favour of BARON VON PLOTHO, the Brandenburg ambassador.
This man, who was distinguished by a certain parsimony, both in his
own clothes and in his liveries and equipages, had been greatly
renowned from the time of the seven years' war, as a diplomatic hero.
At Ratisbon, when the Notary April thought, in the presence of
witnesses, to serve him with the declaration of outlawry which had
been issued against his king, he had, with the laconic exclamation:
"What! you serve:" thrown him, or caused him to be thrown, down
stairs. We believed the first, because it pleased us best, and we
could readily believe it of the little compact man, with his black,
fiery eyes glancing here and there. All eyes were directed towards
him, particularly when he alighted. There arose every time a sort of
joyous whispering, and but little was wanting to a regular explosion,
or a shout of _Vivat!_ _Bravo!_ So high did the king, and all who were
devoted to him, body and soul, stand in favour with the crowd, among
whom, besides the Frankforters, were Germans from all parts.

On the one hand these things gave me much pleasure; as all that took
place, no matter of what nature it might be, concealed a certain
meaning, indicated some internal relation, and such symbolic ceremonies
again, for a moment, represented as living the old Empire of Germany,
almost choked to death by so many parchments, papers, and books. But,
on the other hand, I could not suppress a secret displeasure, when I
was forced, at home, on my father's account, to transcribe the internal
transactions, and at the same time to remark that here several powers,
which balanced each other, stood in opposition, and only so far agreed,
as they designed to limit the new ruler even more than the old one;
that every one valued his influence only so far as he hoped to retain
or enlarge his privileges, and better to secure his independence. Nay,
on this occasion they were more attentive than usual, because they
began to fear Joseph the Second, his vehemence and probable plans.

With my grandfather and other members of the council, whose families
I used to visit, this was no pleasant time, they had so much to do
with meeting distinguished guests, complimenting, and the delivery
of presents. No less had the magistrate, both in general and in
particular, to defend himself, to resist, and to protest, as every
one on such occasions desires to extort something from him, or burden
him with something, und few of those to whom he appeals support him,
or lend him their aid. In short, all that I had read in _Lersner's
Chronicle_ of similar incidents on similar occasions, with admiration
of the patience and perseverance of those good old councilmen, came
once more vividly before my eyes.

Many vexations arise also from this, that the city is gradually overrun
with people, both useful and needless. In vain are the courts reminded,
on the part of the city, of prescriptions of the Golden Bull, now,
indeed, obsolete. Not only the deputies with their attendants, but many
persons of rank, and others who come from curiosity or for private
objects, stand under protection, and the question as to who is to
be billetted out, and who is to hire his own lodging, is not always
decided at once. The tumult constantly increases, and even those who
have nothing to give, or to answer for, begin to feel uncomfortable.

Even we young people, who could quietly contemplate it all, ever found
something which did not quite satisfy our eyes or our imagination. The
Spanish mantles, the huge feathered hats of the ambassadors, and other
objects here and there, had indeed a truly antique look; but there
was a great deal, on the other hand, so half-new or entirely modern,
that the affair assumed throughout a motley, unsatisfactory, often
tasteless appearance. We were very happy to learn, therefore, that
great preparations were made on account of the journey to Frankfort of
the Emperor and future King; that the proceedings of the college of
electors, which were based on the last electoral capitulation, were now
going forward rapidly; and that the day of election had been appointed
for the 27th of March. Now there was a thought of fetching the insignia
of the Empire from Nuremberg and Aix-la-Chapelle, and next we expected
the entrance of the Elector of Mentz, while the disputes with his
ambassadors about the quartering ever continued.

Meanwhile I pursued my clerical labours at home very actively, and
perceived many little suggestions (_monita_) which came in from all
sides, and were to be regarded in the new capitulation. Every rank
desired to see its privileges guaranteed and its importance increased
in this document. Very many such observations and desires were,
however, put aside; much remained as it was, though the suggestors
(_monentes_) received the most positive assurances that the neglect
should in no wise ensue to their prejudice.

In the meanwhile the office of Imperial Marshal was forced to undertake
many dangerous affairs; the crowd of strangers increased, and it became
more and more difficult to find lodgings for them. Nor was there
unanimity as to the limits of the different precincts of the Electors.
The magistracy wished to keep from the citizens the burdens which
they were not bound to bear, and thus day and night there were hourly
grievances, redresses, contests, and misunderstandings.

The entrance of the Elector of Mentz happened on the 21st of May. Then
began the cannonading, with which for a long time we were often to be
deafened. This solemnity was important in the series of ceremonies; for
all the men whom we had hitherto seen, high as they were in rank, were
still only subordinates; but here appeared a sovereign, an independent
prince, the first after the Emperor, preceded and accompanied by a
large retinue worthy of himself. Of the pomp which marked his entrance
I should have much to tell, if I did not purpose returning to it
hereafter, and on an occasion which no one could easily guess.

[Side-note: Lavater.]

What I refer to is this:--the same day, LAVATER, on his return home
from Berlin, came through Frankfort, and saw the solemnity. Now, though
such worldly formalities could not have the least value for him, this
procession, with its display and all its accessaries, might have been
distinctly impressed on his very lively imagination; for, many years
afterwards, when this eminent but singular man showed me a poetical
paraphrase of, I believe, the Revelation of St. John, I discovered
the entrance of Anti-Christ copied, step by step, figure by figure,
circumstance by circumstance, from the entrance of the Elector of Mentz
into Frankfort, in such a manner, too, that even the tassels on the
heads of the dun-coloured horses were not wanting. More can be said
on this point when I reach the epoch of that strange kind of poetry,
by which it was supposed that the myths of the Old and New Testaments
were brought nearer to our view and feelings when they were completely
travestied into the modern style, and clothed with the vestments of
present life, whether gentle or simple. How this mode of treatment
gradually obtained favour, will be likewise discussed hereafter; yet I
may here simply remark that it could not well be carried further than
it was by Lavater and his emulators, one of these having described
the three holy kings riding into Bethlehem, in such modern form, that
the princes and gentlemen whom Lavater used to visit were not to be
mistaken as the persons.

We will then for the present allow the ELECTOR EMERIC Joseph to enter
the Compostello incognito, so to speak, and turn to Gretchen, whom,
just as the crowd was dispersing, I spied in the crowd, accompanied
by Pylades and his mistress, the three now seeming to be inseparable.
We had scarcely come up to each other and exchanged greetings, than
it was agreed that we should pass the evening together, and I kept
the appointment punctually. The usual company had assembled, and
each one had something to relate, to say, or to remark--how one had
been most struck by this thing and another by that. "Your speeches,"
said Gretchen at last, "perplex me even more than the events of the
time themselves. What I have seen I cannot make out; and should very
much like to know what a great deal of it means." I replied that it
was easy for me to render her this service. She had only to say what
particularly interested her. This she did, and as I was about to
explain some points, it was found that it would be better to proceed
in order. I not unskilfully compared these solemnities and functions
to a play, in which the curtain was let down at will, while the actors
played on, and was then raised again, so that the spectators could
once more, to some extent, take part in the action. As now I was very
loquacious when I was allowed my own way, I related the whole, from
the beginning down to the time present, in the best order; and to
make the subject of my discourse more apparent, did not fail to use
the pencil and the large slate. Being only slightly interrupted by
some questions and obstinate assertions of the others, I brought my
discourse to a close, to the general satisfaction, while Gretchen,
by her unbroken attention, had highly encouraged me. At last she
thanked me, and envied, as she said, all who were informed of the
affairs of this world, and knew how this and that came about and what
it signified. She wished she were a boy, and managed to acknowledge,
with much kindness, that she was indebted to me for a great deal of
instruction. "If I were a boy," said she, "we would learn something
good together at the university." The conversation continued in this
strain; she definitively resolved to take instruction in French, of the
absolute necessity of which she had become well aware in the milliner's
shop. I asked her why she no longer went there; for dining the latter
times, not being able to go out much in the evening, I had often passed
the shop during the day for her sake, merely to see her for a moment.
She explained that she had not liked to expose herself there in these
unsettled times. As soon as the city returned to its former condition
she intended to go there again.

[Side-note: Approach of the Election.]

Then the discourse was on the impending day of election. I contrived to
tell, at length, what was going to happen, and how, and to support my
demonstrations in detail by drawings on the tablet; for I had the place
of conclave, with its altars, thrones, seats, and chairs, perfectly
before my mind. We separated at the proper time, and in a peculiarly
comfortable frame of mind.

For, with a young couple who are in any degree harmoniously formed by
nature, nothing can conduce to a more beautiful union than when the
maiden is anxious to learn, and the youth inclined to teach. There
arises from it a well-grounded and agreeable relation. She sees in him
the creator of her spiritual existence, and he sees in her a creature
that ascribes her perfection, not to nature, not to chance, nor to any
one-sided inclination, but to a mutual will; and this reciprocation is
so sweet, that we cannot wonder, if from the days of the old and the
new[3] Abelard, the most violent passions, and as much happiness as
unhappiness, have arisen from such an intercourse of two beings.

With the next day began great commotion in the city, on account of
the visits paid and returned which now took place with the greatest
ceremony. But what particularly interested me, as a citizen of
Frankfort, and gave rise to a great many reflections, was the taking of
the oath of security (_Sicherheitseides_) by the council, the military,
and the body of citizens, not through representatives, but personally,
and in mass: first, in the great hall of the Römer, by the magistracy
and staff-officers; then in the great square (_Platz_), the Römerberg,
by all the citizens, according to their respective ranks, gradations,
or quarterings; and lastly by the rest of the military. Here one could
survey at a single glance the entire commonwealth, assembled for the
honourable purpose of swearing security to the head and members of the
Empire, and unbroken peace during the great work now impending. The
Electors of Treves and of Cologne had now also arrived in person. On
the evening before the day of election all strangers are sent out of
the city, the gates are closed, the Jews are confined to their quarter,
and the citizen of Frankfort prides himself not a little that he alone
may be a witness of so great a solemnity.

All that had hitherto taken place was tolerably modern; the highest and
high personages moved about only in coaches; but now we were going to
see them in the primitive manner on horseback. The concourse and rush
were extraordinary. I managed to squeeze myself into the Römer, which
I knew as familiarly as a mouse does the private corn-loft, till I
reached the main entrance, before which the Electors and ambassadors,
who had first arrived in their state-coaches, and had assembled above,
were now to mount their horses. The stately, well-trained steeds were
covered-with richly laced housings, and ornamented in every way. The
Elector Emeric Joseph, a comfortable-looking man, looked well on
horseback. Of the other two I remember less, excepting that the red
princes' mantles, trimmed with ermine, which we had been accustomed
to see only in pictures before, seemed to us very romantic in the
open air. The ambassadors of the absent temporal Electors, with their
Spanish dresses of gold brocade, embroidered over with gold, and
trimmed with gold lace, likewise did our eyes good; and the large
feathers particularly, that waved most splendidly from the hats, which
were cocked in the antique style. But what did not please me were the
short modern breeches, the white silk stockings, and the fashionable
shoes. We should have liked half-boots--gilded as much as they
pleased--sandals, or something of the kind, that we might have seen a
more consistent costume.

In deportment the Ambassador Von Plotho again distinguished himself
from all the rest. He appeared lively and cheerful, and seemed to have
no great respect for the whole ceremony. For when his front-man, an
elderly gentleman, could not leap immediately on his horse, and he was
therefore forced to wait some time in the grand entrance, he did not
refrain from laughing, till his own horse was brought forward, upon
which he swung himself very dexterously, and was again admired by us as
a most worthy representative of Frederick the Second.

Now the curtain was for us once more let down. I had indeed tried to
force my way into the church; but that place was more inconvenient than
agreeable. The voters had withdrawn into the _sanctum_, where prolix
ceremonies usurped the place of a deliberate consideration as to the
election. After long delay, pressure, and bustle, the people at last
heard the name of Joseph the Second, who was proclaimed King of Rome.

[Side-note: Approach of the Emperor and King.]

The thronging of strangers into the city became greater and greater.
Everybody went about in his holiday clothes, so that at last none but
dresses entirely of gold were found worthy of note. The Emperor and
King had already arrived at _Heusenstamm_, a castle of the Counts of
Schönborn, and were there in the customary manner greeted and welcomed;
but the city celebrated this important epoch by spiritual festivals of
all the religions, by high masses and sermons; and on the temporal side
by incessant firing of cannon as an accompaniment to the _Te Deums._

If all these public solemnities, from the beginning up to this point,
had been regarded as a deliberate work of art, not much to find fault
with would have been found. All was well prepared. The public scenes
opened gradually, and went on increasing in importance; the men grew
in number, the personages in dignity, their appurtenances, as well as
themselves, in splendour; and thus it advanced with every day, till at
last even a well-prepared and firm eye became bewildered.

The entrance of the Elector of Mentz, which we have refused to describe
more completely, was magnificent and imposing enough to suggest to
the imagination of an eminent man, the advent of a great prophesied
World-Ruler; even we were not a little dazzled by it. But now our
expectation was stretched to the utmost, as it was said that the
Emperor and the future King were approaching the city. At a little
distance from Sachsenhausen, a tent had been erected, in which the
entire magistracy remained, to show the appropriate honour, and to
proffer the keys of the city to the chief of the Empire. Further out,
on a fair spacious plain, stood another--a state pavilion, whither the
whole body of electoral princes and ambassadors repaired, while their
retinues extended along the whole way, that gradually, as their turns
came, they might again move towards the city, and enter properly into
the procession. By this time the Emperor reached the tent, entered it,
and the princes and ambassadors, after a most respectful reception,
withdrew, to facilitate the passage of the chief ruler.

[Side-note: The Imperial Carriage.]

We others who remained in the city to admire this pomp within the walls
and streets, still more than could have been done in the open fields,
were very well entertained for a while by the barricade set up by the
citizens in the lanes, by the throng of people, and by the various
jests and improprieties which arose, till the ringing of bells and the
thunder of cannon announced to us the immediate approach of Majesty.
What must have been particularly grateful to a Frankforter was, that
on this occasion, in the presence of so many sovereigns and their
representatives, the imperial city of Frankfort also appeared as a
little sovereign; for her equerry opened the procession; chargers with
armorial trappings, upon which the white eagle on a red field looked
very fine, followed him; then came attendants and officials, drummers
and trumpeters, and deputies of the council, accompanied by the clerks
of the council, in the city livery, on foot. Immediately behind these
were the three companies cf citizen cavalry, very well mounted--the
same that we had seen from our youth, at the reception of the escort
and on other public occasions. We rejoiced in our participation of
the honour, and in our hundred-thousandth part of a sovereignty which
now appeared in its full brilliancy. The different trains of the
Hereditary Imperial Marshal, and of the envoys deputed by the six
temporal Electors, marched after these step by step. None of them
consisted of less than twenty attendants, and two state-carriages--some
even of a greater number. The retinue of the spiritual Electors was
ever on the increase,--their servants and domestic officers seemed
innumerable,--the Elector of Cologne and the Elector of Treves had
above twenty state-carriages, and the Elector of Mentz quite as many
alone. The servants, both on horseback and on foot, were clothed most
splendidly throughout; the lords in the equipages, spiritual and
temporal, had not omitted to appear richly and venerably dressed, and
adorned with all the badges of their orders. The train of his Imperial
Majesty now, as was fit, surpassed all the rest. The riding-masters,
the led horses, the equipages, the shabracks and caparisons, attracted
every eye, and the sixteen six-horse gala-wagons of the Imperial
Chamberlains, Privy Councillors, High Chamberlain, High Stewards, and
High Equerry, closed, with great pomp, this division of the procession,
which, in spite of its magnificence and extent, was still only to be
the van-guard.

But now the line concentrated itself more and more, while the dignity
and parade kept on increasing. For, in the midst of a chosen escort
of their own domestic attendants, the most of them on foot, and a
few on horseback, appeared the Electoral ambassadors as well as the
Electors in person, in ascending order, each one in a magnificent
state-carriage. Immediately behind the Elector of Mentz, ten imperial
footmen, one and forty lackeys, and eight Heyducks,[4] announced
their Majesties. The most magnificent state-carriage, furnished even
at the back part with an entire window of plate-glass, ornamented
with paintings, lacker, carved work, and gilding, covered with
red embroidered velvet on the top and inside, allowed us very
conveniently to behold the Emperor and King, the long-desired heads,
in all their glory. The procession was led a long circuitous route,
partly from necessity, that it might be able to unfold itself, and
partly to render it visible to the great multitude of people. It had
passed through Sachsenhausen, over the bridge, up the Fahrgasse,
then down the Zeile, and turned towards the inner city through the
Katharinenpforte, formerly a gate, and since the enlargement of the
city, an open thoroughfare. Here it had been fortunately considered
that, for a series of years, the external grandeur of the world had
gone on expanding both in height and breadth. Measure had been taken,
and it was found that the present imperial state-carriage could not,
without striking its carved work and other outward decorations, get
through this gateway, through which so many princes and emperors had
gone backwards and forwards. The matter was debated, and to avoid an
inconvenient circuit, it was resolved to take up the pavements, and
to contrive a gentle descent and ascent. With the same new they had
also removed all the projecting eaves from the shops and booths in the
street, that neither crown, nor eagle, nor the genii should receive any
shock or injury.

Eagerly as _we_ directed our eyes to the high personages when this
precious vessel with such precious contents approached us, we could
not avoid turning our looks upon the noble horses, their harness, and
its embroidery; but the strange coachmen and outriders, both sitting
on the horses, particularly struck us. They looked as if they had
come from some other nation, or even worn another world, with their
long black and yellow velvet coats, and their caps with large plumes
of feathers, after the imperial court fashion. Now the crowd became
so dense that it was impossible to distinguish much more. The Swiss
guard on both sides of the carriage, the Hereditary Marshal holding the
Saxon sword upwards in his right hand, the Field-Marshals, as leaders
of the Imperial Guard, riding behind the carriage, the imperial pages
in a body, and finally, the Imperial Horse-guard (_Hatschiergarde_)
itself, in black velvet frocks (_Flügelröck_), with all the seams edged
with gold, under which were red coats and leather-coloured camisoles,
likewise richly decked with gold! One scarcely recovered oneself
from sheer seeing, pointing, and showing, so that the scarcely less
splendidly clad body-guards of the Electors were barely looked at,
and we should perhaps have withdrawn from the windows, if we had not
wished to take a view of our own magistracy, who closed the procession
in their fifteen two-horse coaches, and particularly the clerk of the
council, with the city keys on red velvet cushions. That our company of
city grenadiers should cover the rear, seemed to us honourable enough,
and we felt doubly and highly edified as Germans and as Frankfurters by
this great day.

[Side-note: Maria Theresa.]

We had taken our place in a house which the procession had to pass
again when it returned from the cathedral. Of religious services,
of music, of rites and solemnities, of addresses and answers, of
propositions and readings aloud, there was so much in church, choir,
and conclave, before it came to the swearing of the electoral
capitulation, that we had time enough to partake of an excellent
collation, and to empty many bottles to the health of our old and
young ruler. The conversation, in the meanwhile, as is usual on such
occasions, reverted to the time past, and there were not wanting aged
persons who preferred that to the present, at least with respect to a
certain human interest and impassioned sympathy which then prevailed.
At the coronation of Francis the First all had not been so settled
as now; peace had not yet been concluded; France and the Electors of
Brandenburg and the Palatinate were opposed to the election; the
troops of the future emperor were stationed at Heidelberg, where he
had his head-quarters, and the insignia of the Empire coming from Aix,
were almost carried off by the inhabitants of the Palatinate. Meanwhile
negotiations went on, and on neither side was the affair conducted in
the strictest manner. MARIA THERESA, though then pregnant, comes in
person to see the coronation of her husband, which is at last carried
into effect. She arrived at Aschaffenburg, and went on board a yacht
in order to repair to Frankfort. Francis, from Heidelberg, thinks to
meet his wife, but comes too late; she has already departed. Unknown,
he throws himself into a little boat, hastens after her, reaches her
ship, and the loving pair is delighted at this surprising meeting. The
story spreads immediately, and all the world sympathizes with this
tender pair, so richly blessed with their children, who have been so
inseparable since their union, that once on a journey from Vienna to
Florence they are forced to keep quarantine together on the Venetian
border. Maria Theresa is welcomed in the city with rejoicings, she
enters the _Roman Emperor_ inn, while the great tent for the reception
of her husband is erected on the Bornheim heath. There of the spiritual
Electors is found only Mentz, and of the ambassadors of the temporal
Electors, only Saxony, Bohemia, and Hanover. The entrance begins, and
what it may lack of completeness and splendour is richly compensated
by the presence of a beautiful lady. She stands upon the balcony of
the well-situated house, and greets her husband with cries of _Vivat_
and clapping of hands; the people joined, excited to the highest
enthusiasm. As the great are, after all, men, the citizen thinks them
his equals when he wishes to love them, and that he can best do when he
can picture them to himself as loving husbands, tender parents, devoted
brothers, and true friends. At that time all happiness had been wished
and prophesied, and to-day it was seen fulfilled in the first-born son;
to whom everybody was well inclined on account of his handsome youthful
form, and upon whom the world set the greatest hopes, on account of the
great qualities that he showed.

We had become quite absorbed in the past and future, when some friends
who came in recalled us to the present. They were of those who know the
value of novelty, and therefore hasten to announce it first. They were
even able to tell of a fine humane trait in those exalted personages
whom we had seen go by with the greatest pomp. It had been concerted
that on the way, between Heusenstamm and the great tent, the Emperor
and King should find the Landgrave of Darmstadt in the forest. This
old prince, now approaching the grave, wished to see once more the
master to whom he had been devoted in former times. Both might remember
the day when the Landgrave brought over to Heidelberg the decree of
the Electors choosing Francis as Emperor, and replied to the valuable
presents he received with protestations of unalterable devotion.
These eminent persons stood in a grove of firs, and the Landgrave,
weak with old age, supported himself against a pine, to continue the
conversation, which was not without emotion on both sides. The place
was afterwards marked in an innocent way, and we young people sometimes
wandered to it.

Thus several hours had passed in remembrance of the old and
consideration of the new, when the procession, though curtailed and
more compact, again passed before our eyes, and we were enabled to
observe and mark the detail more closely, and imprint it on our minds
for the future.

From that moment the city was in uninterrupted motion; for until each
and every one whom it behoved, and of whom it was required, had paid
their respects to the highest dignities, and exhibited themselves one
by one, there was no end to the marching to and fro, and the court
of each one of the high persons present could be very conveniently
repeated in detail.

Now, too, the insignia of the Empire arrived. But that no ancient usage
might be omitted even in this respect, they had to remain half a day
till late at night in the open field, on recount of a dispute about
territory and escort between the Elector of Mentz and the city. The
latter yielded, the people of Mentz escorted the insignia as far as the
barricade, and so the affair terminated for this time.

[Side-note: At Evening with Gretchen.]

In these days I did not come to myself. At home I had to write and
copy; everything had to be seen; and so ended the month of March,
the second half of which had been so rich in festivals for us. I had
promised Gretchen a faithful and complete account of what had lately
happened, and of what was to be expected on the coronation-day. This
great day approached; I thought more how I should tell it to her than
of what properly was to be told; all that came under my eyes and my
pen I merely worked up rapidly for this sole and immediate use. At
last I reached her residence somewhat late one evening, and was not
a little proud to think how my discourse on this occasion would be
much more successful than the first unprepared one. But a momentary
incitement often brings us, and others through us, more joy than the
most deliberate purpose can afford; I found, indeed, pretty nearly the
same company, but there were some unknown persons among them. They sat
down to play, all except Gretchen and her younger cousin, who remained
with me at the slate. The dear girl expressed most gracefully her
delight that she, though a stranger, had passed for a citizen on the
election-day, and had taken part in that unique spectacle. She thanked
me most warmly for having managed to take care of her, and for having
been so attentive as to procure her, through Pylades, all sorts of
admissions by means of billets, directions, friends, and intercessions.

She liked to hear about the jewels of the Empire. I promised her that
we should, if possible, see these together. She made some jesting
remarks when she learned that the garments and crown had been tried
on the young king. I knew where she would gaze at the solemnities of
the coronation-day, and directed her attention to everything that was
impending, and particularly to what might be minutely inspected from
her place of view.

Thus we forgot to think about time; it was already past midnight; and I
found that I unfortunately had not the house-key with me. I could not
enter the house without making the greatest disturbance. I communicated
my embarrassment to her. "After all," said she, "it will be best for
the company to remain together." The cousins and the strangers had
already had this in mind, because it was not known where they would be
lodged for the night. The matter was soon decided; Gretchen went to
make some coffee, after bringing in and lighting a large brass lamp,
furnished with oil and wick, because the candles threatened to burn out.

The coffee served to enliven us for several hours, but the game
gradually slackened; conversation failed; the mother slept in the great
chair; the strangers, weary from travelling, nodded here and there, and
Pylades and his fair one sat in a corner. She had laid her head on his
shoulder and had gone to sleep, and he did not keep long awake. The
younger cousin sitting opposite to us by the slate, had crossed his
arms before him, and slept with his face resting upon them. I sat in
the window-corner, behind the table, and Gretchen by me. We talked in
a low voice: but at last sleep overcame her also, she leaned her head
on my shoulder, and sank at once into a slumber. Thus I now sat, the
only one awake, in a most singular position, in which the kind brother
of death soon put me also to rest. I went to sleep, and when I awoke
it was already bright day. Gretchen was standing before the mirror
arranging her little cap; she was more lovely than ever, and when I
departed cordially pressed my hands. I crept home by a roundabout way;
for, on the side towards the little _Stag-ditch_, my father had opened
a sort of little peep-hole in the wall, not without the opposition of
his neighbour. This side we avoided when we wanted not to be observed
by him in coming home. My mother, whose mediation always came in
well for us, had endeavoured to palliate my absence in the morning
at breakfast, by the supposition that I had gone out early, and I
experienced no disagreeable effects from this innocent night.

Taken as a whole, this infinitely various world which surrounded me,
produced upon me but a very simple impression. I had no interest but
to mark closely the outside of the objects, no business but that
with which I had been charged by my father and Herr von Königsthal,
by which, indeed, I perceived the inner course of things. I had no
liking but for Gretchen, and no other view than to see and apprehend
all properly, that I might be able to repeat it with her, and explain
it to her. Often when a train was going by, I described it half aloud
to myself, to assure myself of all the particulars, and to be praised
by my fair one for this attention and accuracy; the applause and
acknowledgments of the others I regarded as a mere appendix.

I was indeed presented to many exalted and distinguished persons; but
partly, no one had time to trouble himself about others, and partly,
older people do not know at once how they should converse with a young
man and try him. I, on my side, was likewise not particularly skilful
in adapting myself to people. Generally I acquired their favour, but
not their approbation. Whatever occupied me was completely present to
me; but I did not ask whether it might be also suitable t others. I
was mostly too lively or too quiet, and appeared either importunate
or sullen, just as persons attracted or repelled me; and thus I was
considered to be indeed full of promise, but at the same time was
declared eccentric.

[Side-note: The Coronation-Day.]

The coronation-day dawned at last, on the 3rd of April, 1764; the
weather was favourable, and everybody was in motion. I, with several of
my relations and friends, had been provided with a good place in one of
the upper stories of the Römer itself, where we might completely survey
the whole. We betook ourselves to the spot very early in the morning,
and from above, as in a bird's-eye view, contemplated the arrangements
which we had inspected more closely the day before. There was the
newly-erected fountain, with two large tubs on the left and right, into
which the double-eagle on the post was to pour from its two beaks white
wine on this side and red wine on that. There, gathered into a heap,
lay the oats; here stood the large wooden hut, in which we had several
days since seen the whole fat ox roasted and basted on a huge spit
before a charcoal fire. All the avenues leading out from the Römer,
and from other streets back to the Römer, were secured on both sides
by barriers and guards. The great square was gradually filled, and the
waving and pressure grew every moment stronger and more in motion, as
the multitude always, if possible, endeavoured to reach the spot where
some new scene arose, and something particular was announced.

All this time there reigned a tolerable stillness, and when the
alarm-bells were sounded, all the people seemed struck with terror
and amazement. What first attracted the attention of all who could
overlook the square from above, was the train in which the lords of
Aix and Nuremberg brought the crown-jewels to the cathedral. These, as
palladia, had been assigned the first place in the carnage, and the
deputies sat before them on the back seat with becoming reverence.
Now the three Electors betake themselves to the cathedral. After the
presentation of the insignia to the Elector of Mentz, the crown and
sword are immediately carried to the imperial quarters. The further
arrangements and manifold ceremonies occupied, in the interim, the
chief persons, as well as the spectators, in the church, as we other
well-informed persons could well imagine.

In the meanwhile before our eyes the ambassadors ascended to the
Römer, from which, the canopy is carried by the under-officers into
the imperial quarters. The Hereditary Marshal COUNT VON PAPPENHEIM
instantly mounts his horse; he was a very handsome, slender gentleman,
whom the Spanish costume, the rich doublet, the gold mantle, the
high feathered hat, and the loose flying hair, became very well. He
puts himself in motion, and, amid the sound of all the bells, the
ambassadors follow him on horseback to the quarters of the Emperor
in still greater magnificence than on the day of election. One would
have liked to be there too, as indeed on this day it would have been
altogether desirable to multiply one's-self. However, we told each
other what was going on there. Now the Emperor is putting on his
domestic robes, we said, a new dress, made after the old Carolingian
pattern. The hereditary officers receive the insignia, and with them
get on horseback. The Emperor in his robes, the Roman King in the
Spanish habit, immediately mount their steeds; and while this is done,
the endless procession which precedes them has already announced them.

The eye was already wearied by the multitude of richly-dressed
attendants and magistrates, and by the nobility who, in stately
fashion, were moving along; but when the Electoral envoys, the
hereditary officers, and at last, under the richly-embroidered canopy,
borne by twelve _Schöffen_ and senators, the Emperor, in romantic
costume, and to the left, a little behind him, in the Spanish dress,
his son, slowly floated along on magnificently-adorned horses, the eye
was no more sufficient for the sight. One would have liked to detain
the scene, but for a moment, by a magic charm; but the glory passed
on without stopping, and the space that was scarcely quitted was
immediately filled again by the crowd, which poured in like billows.

But now a new pressure took place; for another approach from the market
to the Römer gate had to be opened, and a road of planks to be bridged
over it, on which the train returning from the cathedral was to walk.

What passed within the cathedral, the endless ceremonies which
precede and accompany the anointing, the crowning, the dubbing of
knighthood,--all this we were glad to hear told afterwards by those who
had sacrificed much else to be present in the church.

The rest of us, in the interim, partook of a frugal repast; for in
this festal day we had to be contented with cold meat. But, on the
other hand, the best and oldest wine had beer brought out of all the
family-cellars, so that in this respect at least we celebrated the
ancient festival in ancient style.

In the square, the sight most worth seeing was now the bridge, which
had been finished, and covered with orange and white cloth; and we who
had stared at the Emperor, first in his carriage and then on horseback,
were now to admire him walking on foot. Singularly enough, the last
pleased us the most; for we thought that in this way he exhibited
himself both in the most natural and in the most dignified manner.

Older persons, who were present at the coronation of Francis the First,
related that Maria Theresa, beautiful beyond measure, had looked on
this solemnity from a balcony window of the Frauenstein house, close to
the Römer. As her consort returned from the cathedral in his strange
costume, and seemed to her, so to speak, like a ghost of Charlemagne,
he had, as if in jest, raised both his hands, and shown her the
imperial globe, the sceptre, and the curious gloves, at which she had
broken out into immoderate laughter, which served for the great delight
and edification of the crowd, which was thus honoured with a sight of
the good and natural matrimonial understanding between the most exalted
couple of Christendom. But when the Empress, to greet her consort,
waved her handkerchief, and even shouted a loud _vivat_ to him, the
enthusiasm and exultation of the people was raised to the highest, so
that there was no end to the cheers of joy.

[Side-note: The Coronation Procession.]

Now, the sound of bells, and the van of the long train which gently
made its way over the many-coloured bridge, announced that all was
done. The attention was greater than ever, and the procession more
distinct than before, particularly for us, since it now came directly
up to us. We saw it, as well as the whole of the square, which was
thronged with people, almost as if on a ground-plan. Only at the end
the magnificence was too much crowded; for the envoys, the hereditary
officers, the Emperor and King, under the canopy (_Baldachin_), the
three spiritual Electors, who immediately followed, the Schöffen
and senators, dressed in black, the gold embroidered canopy
(_Himmel_),--all seemed only one mass, which moved by a single will,
splendidly harmonious, and thus stepping from the temple amid the sound
of the bells, beamed towards us as something holy.

A politico-religious ceremony possesses an infinite charm. We behold
earthly majesty before our eyes, surrounded by all the symbols of its
power; but while it bends before that of heaven, it brings to our minds
the communion of both. For even the individual can only prove his
relationship with the Deity by subjecting himself and adoring.

The rejoicings, which resounded from the market-place, now spread
likewise over the great square, and a boisterous _vivat_ burst forth
from thousands upon thousands of throats, and doubtless from as many
hearts. For this grand festival was to be the pledge of a lasting
peace, which indeed for many a long year actually blessed Germany.

Several days before, it had been made known by public proclamation,
that neither the bridge nor the eagle over the fountain were to be
exposed to the people, and were therefore not, as at other times, to be
touched. This was done to prevent the mischief inevitable with such a
rush of persons. But in order to sacrifice in some degree to the genius
of the mob, persons expressly appointed went behind the procession,
loosened the cloth from the bridge, wound it up like a flag, and threw
it into the air. This gave rise to no disaster, but to a laughable
mishap; for the cloth unrolled itself in the air, and, as it fell,
covered a larger or smaller number of persons. Those now who took hold
of the ends and drew them towards themselves, pulled all those in the
middle to the ground, enveloped them and teased them till they tore or
cut themselves through, and everybody, in his own way, had borne off a
corner of the stuff made sacred by the footsteps of Majesty.

I did not long contemplate this rude sport, but hastened from my high
position, through all sorts of little steps and passages, down to the
great Römer stairs, where the distinguished and majestic mass, which
had been stared at from the distance, was to ascend in its undulating
course. The crowd was not great, because the entrances to the
council-house were well garrisoned, and I fortunately reached at once
the iron balustrades above. Now the chief personages ascended past me,
while their followers remained behind in the lower arched passages, and
I could observe them on the thrice broken stairs from all sides, and at
last quite close.

[Side-note: Coronation Ceremonies.]

Finally both their Majesties came up. Father and son were altogether
dressed like Menæchmi. The Emperor's domestic robes, of purple-coloured
silk, richly adorned with pearls and stones, as well as his crown,
sceptre, and imperial orb, struck the eye with good effect. For all in
them was new, and the imitation of the antique was tasteful. He moved,
too, quite easily in his attire, and his true-hearted, dignified face,
indicated at once the emperor and the father. The young King, on the
contrary, in his monstrous articles of dress, with the crown-jewels of
Charlemagne, dragged himself along as if he had been in a disguise,
so that he himself, looking at his father from time to time, could
not refrain from laughing. The crown, which it had been necessary to
line a great deal, stood out from his head like an overhanging roof.
The dalmatica, the stole, well as they had been fitted and taken in by
sewing, presented by no means an advantageous appearance. The sceptre
and imperial orb excited some admiration; but one would, for the sake
of a more princely effect, rather have seen a strong form, suited to
the dress, invested and adorned with it.

Scarcely were the gates of the great hall closed behind these figures,
than I hurried to my former place, which being already occupied by
others, I only regained with some trouble.

It was precisely at the right time that I again took possession of my
window; for the most remarkable part of all that was to be seen in
public was just about to take place. All the people had turned towards
the Römer, and a reiterated shout of _vivat_ gave us to understand
that the Emperor and King, in their vestments, were showing themselves
to the populace from the balcony of the great hall. But they were not
alone to serve as a spectacle, since another strange spectacle occurred
before their eyes. First of all, the handsome slender Hereditary
Marshal flung himself upon his steed; he had laid aside his sword;
in his right hand he held a silver-handled vessel, and a tin spatula
in his left. He rode within the barriers to the great heap of oats,
sprang in, filled the vessel to overflow, smoothed it off, and carried
it back again with great dignity. The imperial stable was now provided
for. The Hereditary Chamberlain then rode likewise to the spot, and
brought back a basin with ewer and towel. But more entertaining for
the spectators was the Hereditary Carver, who came to fetch a piece
of the roasted ox. He also rode, with a silver dish, through the
barriers, to the large wooden kitchen, and came forth again with his
portion covered, that he might go back to the Römer. Now it was the
turn of the Hereditary Cupbearer, who rode to the fountain and fetched
wine. Thus now was the imperial table furnished, and every eye waited
upon the Hereditary Treasurer, who was to throw about the money. He,
too, mounted a fine steed, to the sides of whose saddle, instead of
holsters, a couple of splendid bags embroidered with the arms of the
Palatinate, were suspended. Scarcely had he put himself in motion than
he plunged his hands into these pockets, and generously scattered right
and left gold and silver coins, which on every occasion glittered
merrily in the air like metallic rain. A thousand hands waved instantly
in the air to catch the gifts; but hardly had the coins fallen than the
crowd tumbled over each other on the ground, and struggled violently
for the pieces which might have reached the earth. As this agitation
was constantly repeated on both sides as the giver rode forwards, it
afforded the spectators a very diverting sight. It was most lively at
the close, when he threw out the bags themselves, and everybody tried
to catch this highest prize.

Their Majesties had retired from the balcony, and another offering
was to be made to the mob, who, on such occasions, would rather steal
the gifts than receive them tranquilly and gratefully. The custom
prevailed, in more rude and uncouth times, of giving up to the people
on the spot the oats, as soon as the Hereditary Marshal had taken away
his share, the fountain and the kitchen, after the cup-bearer and the
carver had performed their offices. But this time, to guard against all
mischief, order and moderation were preserved as far as possible. But
the old malicious jokes, that when one filled a sack with oats another
cut a hole in it, with sallies of the kind, were revived. About the
roasted ox, a serious battle on this occasion, as usual, was waged.
This could only be contested _en masse._ Two guilds, the butchers and
the wine-porters, had, according to ancient custom, again stationed
themselves so that the monstrous roast must fall to one of the two.
The butchers believed that they had the best right to an ox which they
provided entire for the kitchen; the wine-porters, on the other hand,
laid claim because the kitchen was built near the abode of their
guild, and because they had gained the victory the last time, the horns
of the captured steer still projecting from the latticed gable-window
of their guild and meeting-house as a sign of victory. Both these
companies had very strong and able members; but which of them conquered
this time, I no longer remember.

[Side-note: The Ox and The Wooden Kitchen.]

But as a festival of this kind must always close with something
dangerous and frightful, it was really a terrible moment when the
wooden kitchen itself was made a prize. The roof of it swarmed
instantly with men, no one knowing how they got there, the boards were
torn loose, and pitched down, so that one could not help supposing,
particularly at a distance, that each would kill a few of those
pressing to the spot. In a trice the hut was unroofed, and single
individuals hung to the beams and rafters, in order to pull them also
out of their joinings; nay, many floated above upon the posts which had
been already sawn off below, and the whole skeleton, moving backwards
and forwards, threatened to fall in. Sensitive persons turned their
eyes away, and everybody expected a great calamity; but we did not hear
of any mischief, and the whole affair, though impetuous and violent,
had passed off happily.

Everybody knew now that the Emperor and King would return from the
cabinet, whither they had retired from the balcony, and feast in the
great hall of the Römer. We had been able to admire the arrangements
made for it, the day before; and my most anxious wish was, if possible,
to look in to-day. I repaired, therefore, by the usual path, to the
great staircase, which stands directly opposite the door of the hall.
Here I, gazed at the distinguished personages who this day acted as the
servants of the head of the Empire. Forty-four counts, all splendidly
dressed, passed me, carrying the dishes from the kitchen, so that the
contrast between their dignity and their occupation might well be
bewildering to a boy. The crowd was not great, but, considering the
little space, sufficiently perceptible. The hall-door was guarded,
while those who were authorised went frequently in and out. I saw one
of the Palatine domestic officials, whom I asked whether he could not
take me in with him. He did not deliberate long, but gave me one of the
silver vessels he just then bore,--which he could do so much the more
as I was neatly clad; and thus I reached the sanctuary. The Palatine
buffet stood to the left, directly by the door, and with some steps I
placed myself on the elevation of it, behind the barriers.

At the other end of the hall, immediately by the windows, raised on
the steps of the throne, and under canopies, sat the Emperor and King
in their robes; but the crown and sceptre lay at some distance behind
them on gold cushions. The three spiritual Electors, their buffets
behind them, had taken their places on single elevations; the Elector
of Mentz opposite their Majesties, the Elector of Treves at the right,
and the Elector of Cologne at the left. This upper part of the hall
was imposing and cheerful to behold, and excited the remark that the
spiritual power likes to keep as long as possible with the ruler. On
the contrary, the buffets and tables of all the temporal Electors,
which were, indeed, magnificently ornamented, but without occupants,
made one think of the misunderstanding which had gradually arisen for
centuries between them and the head of the Empire. Their ambassadors
had already withdrawn to eat in a side-chamber; and if the greater part
of the hall assumed a sort of spectral appearance, by so many invisible
guests being so magnificently attended, a large unfurnished table in
the middle was still more sad to look upon; for there also many covers
stood empty, because all those who had certainly a right to sit there
had, for appearance sake, kept away, that on the greatest day of honour
they might not renounce any of their honour, if, indeed, they were then
to be found in the city.

Neither my years nor the mass of present objects allowed me to make
many reflections. I strove to see all as much as possible; and when
the dessert was brought in and the ambassadors re-entered to pay their
court, I sought the open air, and contrived to refresh myself with
good friends in the neighbourhood, after a day's half-fasting, and to
prepare for the illumination in the evening.

[Side-note: The Illuminations.]

This brilliant night I purposed celebrating in a right hearty way;
for I had agreed with Gretchen, and Pylades and his mistress, that we
should meet somewhere at nightfall. The city was already resplendent at
every end and corner when I met my beloved. I offered Gretchen my arm;
we went from one quarter to another, and found ourselves very happy in
each other's society. The cousins at first were also of out party, but
were afterwards lost in the multitude of people. Before the houses of
some of the ambassadors, where magnificent illuminations were exhibited
(those of the Elector-Palatine were pre-eminently distinguished), it
was as clear as day. Lest I should be recognised, I had disguised
myself to a certain extent, and Gretchen did not find it amiss. We
admired the various brilliant representations and the fairy-like
structures of flame by which each ambassador strove to outshine the
others. But Prince Esterhazy's arrangements surpassed all the rest.
Our little company were in raptures both with the invention and the
execution, and we were just about to enjoy this in detail, when the
cousins again met us, and spoke to us of the glorious illumination with
which the Brandenburg ambassador had adorned his quarters. We were not
displeased at taking the long way from the Rossmarkt (Horse-market) to
the Saalhof; but found that we had been villanously hoaxed.

The Saalhof is, towards the Maine, a regular and handsome structure,
but the part in the direction of the city is exceedingly old,
irregular, and unsightly. Small windows, agreeing neither in form nor
size, neither in a line nor placed at equal distances, gates and doors
arranged without symmetry, a ground-floor mostly turned into shops,--it
forms a confused outside, which is never observed by any one. Now here
this accidental, irregular, unconnected architecture had been followed,
and every window, every door, every opening, was surrounded by lamps;
as indeed can be done with a well-built house; but here the most
wretched and ill-formed of all façades was thus quite incredibly placed
in the clearest light. Did one amuse oneself with this as with the
jests of the Pagliasso,[5] though not without scruple, since everybody
must recognise something intentional in it;--just as people had before
glossed over the previous external deportment of Von Plotho, so much
prized in other respects, and when once inclined towards him, had
admired him as a wag, who, like his king, would place himself above all
ceremonies--one nevertheless gladly returned to the fairy kingdom of

This eminent envoy, to honour the day, had quite passed over his own
unfavourably situated quarters, and in their stead bad caused the
great esplanade of linden-trees in the Horse-market to be decorated
in the front with a portal illuminated with colours, and at the back
with a still more magnificent prospect. The entire enclosure was marked
by lamps. Between the trees stood pyramids and spheres of light,
upon transparent pedestals; from one tree to another were stretched
glittering garlands, on which floated suspended lights. In several
places bread and sausages were distributed among the people, and there
was no want of wine.

Here now, four abreast, we walked very comfortably up and down, and
I, by Gretchen's side, fancied that I really wandered in those happy
Elysian fields where they pluck from the trees crystal cups that
immediately fill themselves with the wine desired, and shake down
fruits that change into every dish at will. At last we also felt such
a necessity, and conducted by Pylades, we found a neat, well-arranged
eating-house. When we encountered no more guests, since everybody was
going about the streets, we were all the better pleased, and passed the
greatest part of the night most happily and cheerfully, in the feeling
of friendship, love, and attachment. When I had accompanied Gretchen as
far as her door, she kissed me on the forehead. It was the first and
last time that she granted me this favour; for, alas, I was not to see
her again.

The next morning, while I was yet in bed, my mother entered, in trouble
and anxiety. It was easy to see when she was at all distressed. "Get
up," she said, "and prepare yourself for something unpleasant. It
has come out that you frequent very bad company, and have involved
yourself in very dangerous and bad affairs. Your father is beside
himself, and we have only been able to get thus much from him, that
he will investigate the affair by means of a third party. Remain in
your chamber and await what may happen. Councillor Schneider will
come to you; he has the commission both from your father and from the
authorities; for the matter is already prosecuted, and may take a very
bad turn."

[Side-note: Goethe in Trouble.]

I saw that they took the affair for much worse than it was; yet I felt
myself not a little disquieted, even if only the actual state of things
should be detected. My old _Messiah_-loving friend finally entered,
with the tears standing in his eyes; he took me by the arm, and said,
"I am heartily sorry to come to you on such an affair. I could not
have supposed that you could go astray so far. But what will not wicked
companions and bad example do! Thus can a young inexperienced man be
led step by step into crime!" "I am conscious of no crime," I replied,
"and as little of having frequented bad company." "The question now is
not one of defence," said he, interrupting me, "but of investigation,
and on your part of an upright confession" "What do you want to know?"
retorted I. He seated himself, drew out a paper, and began to question
me: "Have you not recommended N. N. to your grandfather as a candidate
for the * * place?" I answered, "Yes." "Where did you become acquainted
with him?" "In my walks." "In what company?" I started: for I would not
willingly betray my friends. "Silence will not do now," he continued,
"for all is sufficiently known." "What is known then?" said I. "That
this man has been introduced to you by others like him--in fact, by * *
*." Here he named three persons whom I had never seen nor known: which
I immediately explained to the questioner. "You pretend," he resumed,
"not to know these men, and have yet had frequent meetings with them."
"Not in the least," I replied; "for, as I have said, except the first,
I do not know one of them, and even him I have never seen in a house."
"Have you not often been in * * * street?" "Never," I replied. This was
not entirely conformable to the truth. I had once accompanied Pylades
to his sweetheart, who lived in that street; but we had entered by the
back-door, and remained in the summer-house. I therefore supposed that
I might permit myself the subterfuge, that I had not been in the street

The good man put more questions, all of which I could answer with a
denial: for of all that he wished to learn I knew nothing. At last
he seemed to become vexed, and said, "You repay my confidence and
good-will very badly; I come to save you. You cannot deny that you have
composed letters for these people themselves or for their accomplices,
have furnished them writings, and have thus been accessory to their
evil acts, for the question is of nothing less than of forged papers,
false wills, counterfeit bonds, and things of the sort. I come not
only as a friend of the family, I come in the name and by order of
the magistrates, who, in consideration of your connexions and youth,
would spare you and some other young persons, who, like you, have
been lured into the net." It was strange to me that among the persons
he named, none of those with whom I had been intimate were found. The
circumstances touched, without agreeing, and I could still hope to save
my young friends. But the good man grew more and more urgent. I could
not deny that I had come home late many nights, that I had contrived
to have a house-key made, that I had been seen at public places more
than once with persons of low rank and suspicious looks, that some
girls were mixed up in the affair; in short, everything seemed to be
discovered but the names. This gave me courage to persist steadfastly
in my silence. "Do not," said my excellent friend, "let me go away from
you; the affair allows of no delay; immediately after me another will
come, who will not grant you so much scope. Do not make the matter,
which is bad enough, worse by your obstinacy."

I represented very vividly to myself the good cousins, and particularly
Gretchen: I saw them arrested, tried, punished, disgraced, and then
it went through my soul like a flash of lightning, that the cousins,
though they always observed integrity towards me, might have engaged
in such bad affairs, at least the oldest, who never quite pleased me,
who came home later and later, and had little to tell of a cheerful
sort. Still I kept back my confession. "Personally," said I, "I am
conscious of nothing evil, and can rest satisfied on that side, but
it is not impossible that those with whom I have associated may have
been guilty of some daring or illegal act. They may be sought, found,
convicted, punished; I have hitherto nothing to reproach myself with;
and will not do any wrong to those who have behaved well and kindly
to me." He did not let me finish, but exclaimed with some agitation,
"Yes, they will be found out. These villains met in three houses. (He
named the streets, he pointed out the houses, and, unfortunately, among
them was the one to which I used to go.) The first nest is already
broken up, and at this moment so are the two others. In a few hours the
whole will be clear. Avoid, by a flunk confession, a judicial inquiry,
a confrontation, and all other disagreeable matters." The house was
known and marked. Now I deemed silence useless; nay, considering the
innocence of our meetings, I could hope to be still more useful to them
than to myself. "Sit down," I exclaimed, fetching him back from the
door; "I will tell all, and at once lighten your heart and mine; only
one thing I ask; henceforth let there be no doubt of my veracity."

[Side-note: Goethe's Distress.]

I soon told my friend the whole progress of the affair, and was, at
first, calm and collected; but the more I brought to mind and pictured
to myself the persons, objects, and events, so many innocent pleasures
and charming enjoyments, and was forced to depose as before a criminal
court, the more did the most painful feeling increase, so that at last
I burst forth in tears and gave myself up to unrestrained passion. The
family friend, who hoped that now the real secret was coming to light
(for he regarded my distress as a symptom that I was on the point of
confessing with repugnance something monstrous), sought to pacify me,
as with him the discovery was the all-important matter. In this he only
partly succeeded, but so far, however, that I could eke out my story to
the end. Though satisfied of the innocence of the proceedings, he was
still doubtful to some extent, and put further questions to me, which
excited me afresh, and transported me with pain and rage. I asserted,
finally, that I had nothing more to say, and well knew that I need fear
nothing, for I was innocent, of a good family, and well reputed; but
that they might be just as guiltless without having it recognised, or
being otherwise favoured. I declared at the same time, that if they
were not spared like myself, that if their follies were not regarded
with indulgence, and their faults pardoned, that if anything in the
least harsh or unjust happened to them, I would do myself a mischief,
and no one should prevent me. In this, too, my friend tried to pacify
me; but I did not trust him, and was, when he quitted me at last, in
a most terrible state. I now reproached myself for having told the
affair, and brought all the positions to light. I foresaw that our
childish actions, our youthful inclinations and confidences, might be
quite differently interpreted, and that I might perhaps involve the
excellent Pylades in the matter, and render him very unhappy. All these
images pressed vividly one after the other before my soul, sharpened
and spurred my distress, so that I did not know what to do for sorrow.
I cast myself at full length upon the floor, and moistened it with my

I know not how long I might have lain, when my sister entered, was
frightened at my gestures, and did all that she could to raise me up.
She told me that a person connected with the magistracy had waited
below with my father for the return of the family friend, and that
after they had been closeted together for some time, both the gentlemen
had departed, had talked to each other with apparent satisfaction, and
had even laughed. She believed that she had heard the words--"It is all
right; the affair-is of no consequence." "Indeed!" I broke out, "the
affair is of no consequence for me,--for us; for I have committed no
crime, and if I had, they would contrive to help me through: but the
others, the others," I cried, "who will stand by them!"

My sister tried to comfort me by circumstantially arguing that if those
of higher rank were to be saved, a veil must also be cast over the
faults of the more lowly. All this was of no avail. She had scarcely
left than I again abandoned myself to my grief, and ever recalled
alternately the images both of my affection and passion and of the
present and possible misfortune. I repeated to myself tale after
tale, saw only unhappiness following unhappiness, and did not fail in
particular to make Gretchen and myself truly wretched.

The family friend had ordered me to remain in my room, and have nothing
to do with any one but the family. This was just what I wanted, for I
found myself best alone. My mother and sister visited me from time to
time, and did not fail to assist me vigorously with all sorts of good
consolation; nay, even on the second day they came in the name of my
father, who was now better informed, to offer me a perfect amnesty,
which indeed I gratefully accepted; but the proposal that I should go
out with him and look at the insignia of the Empire, which were now
exposed to the curious, I stubbornly rejected, and I asserted that I
wanted to know nothing either of the world or of the Roman Empire till
I was informed how that distressing affair, which for me could have no
further consequences, had turned out for my poor acquaintance. They
had nothing to say on this head, and left me alone. Yet the next day
some further attempts were made to get me out of the house and excite
in me a sympathy for the public ceremonies. In vain! neither the great
gala-day, nor what happened on the occasion of so many elevations of
rank, nor the public table of the Emperor and King,--in short, nothing
could move me. The Elector of the Palatinate might come and wait
on both their Majesties; these might visit the Electors; the last
electoral sitting might be attended for the despatch of business in
arrear, and the renewal of the electoral union;--nothing could call
me forth from my passionate solitude. I let the bells ring for the
rejoicings, the Emperor repair to the Capuchin church, the Electors
and Emperor depart, without on that account moving one step from my
chamber. The final cannonading, immoderate as it might be, did not
arouse me, and as the smoke of the powder dispersed, and the sound died
away, so had all this glory vanished from my soul.

[Side-note: Goethe's illness.]

I now experienced no satisfaction but in chewing the cud of my misery,
and in a thousandfold imaginary multiplication of it. My whole
inventive faculty, my poetry and rhetoric, had cast themselves on this
diseased spot, and threatened, precisely by means of this vitality, to
involve body and soul into an incurable disorder. In this melancholy
condition nothing more seemed to me worth a desire, nothing worth a
wish. An infinite yearning, indeed, seized me at times to know how it
had gone with my poor friends and my beloved, what had been the result
of a stricter scrutiny, how far they were implicated in those crimes,
or had been found guiltless. This also I circumstantially painted to
myself in the most various ways, and did not fail to hold them as
innocent and truly unfortunate. Sometimes I longed to see myself freed
from this uncertainty, and wrote vehemently threatening letters to
the family friend, insisting that he should not withhold from me the
further progress of the affair. Sometimes I tore them up again, from
the fear of learning my unhappiness quite distinctly, and of losing the
principal consolation with which hitherto I had alternately tormented
and supported myself.

Thus I passed both day and night in great disquiet, in raving and
lassitude, so that I felt happy at last when a bodily illness seized
me with considerable violence, when they had to call in the help of
a physician, and think of every way to quiet me. They supposed that
they could do it generally by the sacred assurance that all who were
more or less involved in the guilt had been treated with the greatest
forbearance, that my nearest friends, being as good as innocent, had
been dismissed with a slight reprimand, and that Gretchen had retired
from the city and had returned to her own home. They lingered the
most over this last point, and I did not take it in the best part;
for I could discover in it, not a voluntary departure, but only a
shameful banishment. My bodily and mental condition was not improved
by this; my distress now first really began, and I had time enough to
torment myself by picturing the strangest romance of sad events, and an
inevitably tragical catastrophe.

[1] The diminutive of Margaret.--_Trans._

[2] That is to say, a poem written for a certain
occasion, as a wedding, funeral, &c. The German word is

[3] The "_new_ Abelard" is St. Preux, in the _Nouvelle Heloise_ of

[4] A class of attendants dressed in Hungarian costume.--_Trans._

[5] A sort of buffoon.




Thus was I driven alternately to assist and to retard my recovery,
and a certain secret chagrin was now added to my other sensations;
for I plainly perceived that I was watched,--that they were loth
to hand me any sealed paper without taking notice what effect it
produced--whether I kept it secret--whether I laid it down open, and
the like. I therefore conjectured that Pylades, or one of the cousins,
or even Gretchen herself, might have attempted to write to me, either
to give or to obtain information. In addition to my sorrow, I was now
for the first time thoroughly cross, and had again fresh opportunities
to exercise my conjectures, and to mislead myself into the strangest

It was not long before they gave me a special overseer. Fortunately,
it was a man whom I loved and valued. He had held the place of tutor
in the family of one of our friends; and his former pupil had gone
alone to the university. He often visited me in my sad condition, and
they at last found nothing more natural than to give him a chamber
next to mine, as he was then to employ me, pacify me, and, as I
marked, keep his eye upon me. Still, as I esteemed him from my heart,
and had already confided many things to him, though not my affection
for Gretchen, I determined so much the more to be perfectly candid
and straightforward with him, as it was intolerable to me to live in
daily intercourse with any one, and at the same time to stand on an
uncertain, constrained footing with him. It was not long, then, before
I spoke to him about the affair, refreshed myself by the relation and
repetition of the minutest circumstances of my past happiness, and
thus gained so much, that he, like a sensible man, saw it would be
better to make me acquainted with the issue of the story, and that
too in its details and particulars, so that I might be clear as to
the whole, and that with earnestness and zeal, I might be persuaded
of the necessity of composing myself, throwing the past behind me,
and beginning a new life. First he confided to me who the other young
people of quality were who had allowed themselves to be seduced, at
the outset, into daring hoaxes, then into sportive breaches of police,
afterwards into frolicsome impositions on others, and other such
dangerous matters. Thus actually had arisen a little conspiracy, which
unprincipled men had joined, who, by forging papers and counterfeiting
signatures, had perpetrated many criminal acts, and had still more
criminal matters in preparation. The cousins, after whom I at last
impatiently inquired, had been found to be quite innocent, only very
generally acquainted with those others, and not at all implicated with
them. My client, by recommending whom to my grandfather I had in fact
put people on the scent, was one of the worst, and bad sued for that
office chiefly that he might undertake or conceal certain villanies.
After all this, I could at last contain myself no longer, and asked
what had become of Gretchen, for whom I, once for all, confessed the
strongest attachment. My friend shook his head and smiled,--"Make
yourself easy," replied he; "this girl has passed her examination very
well, and has borne off honourable testimony to that effect. They could
discover nothing in her but what was good and amiable, the examiners
themselves were well-disposed to her, and could not refuse her desire
of removing from the city. Even what she has confessed in respect to
you, too, my friend, does her honour; I have read her deposition in
the secret reports myself, and seen her signature." "The signature!"
exclaimed I, "which makes me so happy and so miserable. "What has she
confessed, then? What has she subscribed?" My friend delayed answering;
but the cheerfulness of his face showed me that he concealed nothing
dangerous. "If you must know, then," replied he at last, "when she
was interrogated concerning you, and her intercourse with you, she
said quite frankly, 'I cannot deny that I have seen him often and with
pleasure; but I have always treated him as a child, and my affection
for him was truly that of a sister. In many cases I have given him
good advice, and instead of instigating him to any equivocal action, I
have hindered him from taking part in wanton tricks, which might have
brought him into trouble.'"

[Side-note: Change of Feeling Towards Gretchen.]

My friend still went on making Gretchen speak like a governess; but I
bad already for some time ceased to listen to him; for I was terribly
affronted that she had set me down in the reports as a child, and
believed myself at once cured of all passion for her. I even hastily
assured my friend that all was now over. I also spoke no more of her,
named her no more; but I could not leave off the bad habit of thinking
about her, and of recalling her form, her air, her demeanour, though
now, in fact, all appeared to me in quite another light. I felt it
intolerable that a girl, at the most only a couple of years older than
me, should regard me as a child, while I conceived I passed with her
for a very sensible and clever youth. Her cold and repelling manner,
which had before so charmed me, now seemed to me quite repugnant; the
familiarities which she had allowed herself to take with me, but had
not permitted me to return, were altogether odious. Yet all would have
been well enough for me, if by subscribing that poetical love-letter,
in which she had confessed a formal attachment to me, she had not
given me a right to regard her as a sly and selfish coquette. Her
masquerading it at the milliner's, too, no longer seemed to me so
innocent; and I turned these annoying reflections over and over within
myself until I had entirely stripped her of all her amiable qualities.
My judgment was convinced, and I thought I must cast her away; but her
image!--her image gave me the lie as often as it again hovered before
me, which indeed happened often enough.

Nevertheless, this arrow with its barbed hooks was torn out of my
heart, and the question then was, how the inward sanative power of
youth could be brought to one's aid? I really put on the man; and the
first thing instantly laid aside was the weeping and raving, which I
now regarded as childish in the highest degree. A great stride for the
better! For I had often, half the night through, given myself up to
this grief, with the greatest violence, so that at last, from my tears
and sobbing, I came to such a point that I could scarce swallow any
more, the pleasure of eating and drinking became painful to me, and my
breast, which was so nearly concerned, seemed to suffer. The vexation
which I had constantly felt since the discovery, made me banish every
weakness. I found it frightful that I had sacrificed sleep, repose and
health, for the sake of a girl who was pleased to consider me a babe,
and to imagine herself, with respect to me, something very much like a

These depressing reflections, as I was soon convinced, were only to be
banished by activity; but of what was I to take hold? I had, indeed,
much to make up for in many things, and to prepare myself, in more
than one sense, for the university, which I was now to attend; but I
relished and accomplished nothing. Much appeared to me familiar and
trivial; for grounding myself, in several respects, I found neither
strength within nor opportunity without; and I therefore suffered
myself to be moved by the taste of my good room-neighbour, to a study
which was altogether new and strange to me, and which for a long time
offered me a wide field of information and thought. My friend began,
namely, to make me acquainted with the secrets of philosophy. He
had studied in Jena, under Daries, and, possessing a well-regulated
mind, had acutely seized the relations of that doctrine, which he now
sought to impart to me. But, unfortunately, these things would not
hang together in such a fashion in my brain. I put questions, which he
promised to answer afterwards; I made demands, which he promised to
satisfy in future. But our most important difference was this, that I
maintained a separate philosophy was not necessary, as the whole of it
was already contained in religion and poetry. This he would by no means
allow, but rather tried to prove to me that these must first be founded
on philosophy; which I stubbornly denied, and at every step in the
progress of our discussions, found arguments for my opinion. For, as
in poetry a certain faith in the impossible, and as in religion a like
faith in the inscrutable, must have a place, the philosophers appeared
to me to be in a very false position who would demonstrate and explain
both of them from their own field of vision. Besides, it was very
quickly proved, from the history of philosophy, that one always sought
a ground different from that of the other, and that the sceptic, in the
end, pronounced everything groundless and useless.

[Side-note: History of Philosophy.]

However, this very history of philosophy, which my friend was compelled
to go over with me, because I could learn nothing from dogmatical
discourse, amused me very much, but only on this account, that one
doctrine or opinion seemed to me as good as another, so far, at least,
as I was capable of penetrating into it. With the most ancient men and
schools I was best pleased, because poetry, religion, and philosophy
were completely combined into one; and I only maintained that first
opinion of mine with the more animation, when the book of Job and
the Song and Proverbs of Solomon, as well as the lays of Orpheus and
Hesiod, seemed to bear valid witness in its favour. My friend had taken
the smaller work of Brucker as the foundation of his discourse; and the
further we went on, the less I could make of it. I could not clearly
see what the first Greek philosophers would have. Socrates I esteemed
as an excellent, wise man, who in his life and death might well be
compared with Christ. His disciples, on the other hand, seemed to me to
bear a strong resemblance to the Apostles, who disagreed immediately
after their Master's death, when each manifestly recognised only a
limited view as the right one. Neither the keenness of Aristotle nor
the fulness of Plato produced the least fruit in me. For the Stoics, on
the contrary, I had already conceived some affection, and even procured
Epictetus, whom I studied with much interest. My friend unwillingly
let me have my way in this one-sidedness, from which he could not draw
me; for, in spite of his varied studies, he did not know how to bring
the leading question into a narrow compass. He need only have said to
me that in life action is everything, and that joy and sorrow come of
themselves. However, youth should be allowed its own course; it does
not stick to false maxims very long; life soon tears or charms it away

The season had become fine; we often went together into the open air,
and visited the places of amusement which surrounded the city in great
numbers. But it was precisely here that matters went worse with me; for
I still saw the ghosts of the cousins everywhere, and feared, now here,
now there, to see one of them step forward. Even the most indifferent
glances of men annoyed me. I had lost that unconscious happiness of
wandering about unknown and unblamed, and of thinking of no observer,
even in the greatest crowds. Now hypochondriacal fancies began to
torment me, as if I attracted the attention of the people, as if their
eyes were turned on my demeanour, to fix it on their memories, to scan
and to find fault.

I therefore drew my friend into the woods, and while I shunned the
monotonous firs, I sought those fine leafy groves, which do not indeed
spread far in the district, but are yet of sufficient compass for a
poor wounded heart to hide itself. In the remotest depth of the forest
I sought out a solemn spot, where the oldest oaks and beeches formed a
large, noble shaded space. The ground was somewhat sloping, and made
the worth of the old trunks only the more perceptible. Round this open
circle closed the densest thickets, from which the mossy rocks mightily
and venerably peered forth, and made a rapid fall for a copious brook.

Scarcely had I compelled my friend hither, who would rather have
been in the open country by the stream, among men, than he playfully
assured me that I showed myself a true German, he related to me
circumstantially, out of Tacitus, how our ancestors found pleasure
in the feelings which nature so provides for us, in such solitudes,
with her inartificial architecture. He had not been long discoursing
of this, when I exclaimed, "Oh! why did not this precious spot lie
in a deeper wilderness! why may we not train a hedge around it, to
hallow and separate from the world both it and ourselves! Surely there
is no more beautiful adoration of the Deity than that which needs no
image, but which springs up in our bosom merely from the intercourse
with nature!" What I then felt, is still present to me; what I said,
I know not how to recall. Thus much, however, is certain, that the
undetermined, widely-expanding feelings of youth and of uncultivated
nations are alone adapted to the sublime, which, if it is to be
excited in us through external objects, formless, or moulded into
incomprehensible forms, must surround us with a greatness to which we
are not equal.

All men, more or less, feel such a disposition of the soul, and seek
to satisfy this noble necessity in various ways. But as the sublime
is easily produced by twilight and night, when objects are blended,
it is, on the other hand, scared away by the day, which separates and
sunders everything, and so must it also be destroyed by every increase
of cultivation, if it be not fortunate enough to take refuge with the
beautiful, and unite itself closely with it, by which both become
equally undying and indestructible.

The brief moments of such enjoyments were still more shortened by my
meditative friend; but when I turned back into the world, it was
altogether in vain that I sought, among the bright and barren objects
around, again to arouse such feelings within me; nay, I could scarce
retain even the remembrance of them. My heart, however, was too far
spoiled to be able to compose itself; it had loved, and the object was
snatched away from it; it had lived, and life to it was embittered.
A friend who makes it too perceptible that he designs to form you,
excites no feeling of comfort; while a woman who is forming you, while
she seems to spoil you, is adored as a heavenly, joy-bringing being.
But that form in which the idea of beauty manifested itself to me, had
vanished far away; it often visited me under the shade of my oak trees,
but I could not hold it fast, and I felt a powerful impulse to seek
something similar in the distance.

[Side-note: Drawing From Nature.]

I had imperceptibly accustomed, nay, compelled my friend and overseer
to leave me alone; for even in my sacred grove, those undefined,
gigantic feelings were not sufficient for me. The eye was, above all
others, the organ by which I seized the world. I had, from childhood,
lived among painters, and had accustomed myself to look at objects,
as they did, with reference to art. Now I was left to myself and to
solitude, this gift, half natural, half acquired, made its appearance.
Wherever I looked, I saw a picture, and whatever struck me, whatever
gave me delight, I washed to fix, and began, in the most awkward
manner, to draw after nature. In this I lacked nothing less than
everything; yet, though without any technical means, I obstinately
persisted in trying to imitate the most magnificent things that offered
themselves to my sight. Thus, to be sure, I acquired a great attention
to objects; but I only seized them as a whole, so far as they produced
an effect; and, little as nature had meant me for a descriptive poet,
just as little would she grant me the capacity of a draughtsman for
details. Since, however, this was the only way left me of expressing
myself, I stuck to it with so much stubbornness, nay, even with
melancholy, that I always continued my labours the more zealously, the
less I saw they produced.

But I will not deny that there was a certain mixture of roguery; for
I had remarked that if I chose for an irksome study a half-shaded
old trunk, to the hugely curved roots of which clung well-lit fern,
combined with twinkling maidenhair, my friend, who knew from experience
that I should not be disengaged in less than an hour commonly resolved
to seek, with his books, some other pleasant little spot. Now nothing
disturbed me in prosecuting my taste, which was so much the more
active, since my paper was endeared to me by the circumstance that I
had accustomed myself to see in it, not so much what stood upon it,
as what I had been thinking of at any time and hour when I drew. Thus
plants and flowers of the commonest kind may form a charming diary for
us, because nothing that calls back the remembrance of a happy moment
can be insignificant; and even now it would be hard for me to destroy
as worthless many things of the kind that have remained to me from
different epochs, because they transport me immediately to those times
which I remember with melancholy indeed, but not unwillingly.

But if such drawings may have had anything of interest in themselves,
they were indebted for this advantage to the sympathy and attention
of my father. He, informed by my overseer that I had become gradually
reconciled to my condition, and, in particular, had applied myself
passionately to drawing from nature, was very well satisfied--partly
because he himself set a high value on drawing and painting, partly
because gossip Seekatz had once said to him, that it was a pity I was
not destined for a painter. But here again the peculiarities of the
father and son came into conflict; for it was almost impossible for
me to make use of a good, white, perfectly clean sheet of paper; grey
old leaves, even if scribbled over on one side already, charmed me
most, just as if my awkwardness had feared the touchstone of a white
ground. Nor were any of my drawings quite finished; and how should I
have executed a whole, which indeed I saw with my eyes, but did not
comprehend, and how an individual object, which I had neither skill
nor patience to follow out? The pedagogism of my father on this point,
too, was really to be admired. He kindly asked for my attempts, and
drew lines round every imperfect sketch. He wished, by this means, to
compel me to completeness and fulness of detail. The irregular leaves
he cut straight, and thus made the beginning of a collection, in which
he wished, at some future time, to rejoice at the progress of his son.
It was therefore by no means disagreeable to him when my wild, restless
disposition sent me roving about the country; he rather seemed pleased
when I brought back a parcel of drawings on which he could exercise his
patience, and in some measure strengthen his hopes.

They no longer said that I might relapse into my former attachments
and connexions; they left me by degrees perfect liberty. By accidental
inducements and in accidental society I undertook many journeys to
the mountain-range which, from my childhood, had stood so distant and
solemn before me. Thus we visited Homburg, Kroneburg, ascended the
Feldberg, from which the prospect invited us still further and further
into the distance. Königstein, too, was not left unvisited; Wiesbaden,
Schwalbach, with its environs, occupied us many days; we reached the
Rhine, which, from the heights, we had seen winding along far off.
Mentz astonished us, but could not chain a youthful mind, which was
running into the open country; we were delighted with the situation of
Biberich; and, contented and happy, we resumed our journey home.

This whole tour, from which my father had promised himself many a
drawing, might have been almost without fruit; for what taste, what
talent, what experience does it not require to seize an extensive
landscape as a picture! I was again imperceptibly drawn into a narrow
compass, from which I derived some profit; for I met no ruined castle,
no piece of wall which pointed to antiquity, that I did not think an
object worthy of my pencil, and imitate as well as I could. Even the
stone of Drusus, on the ramparts of Mentz, I copied at some risk,
and with inconveniences which every one must experience who wishes
to carry home with him some pictorial reminiscences of his travels.
Unfortunately I had again taken with me nothing but the most miserable
common paper, and had clumsily crowded several objects into one sheet.
But my paternal teacher was not perplexed at this; he cut the sheets
apart, had the parts which belonged to each other put together by the
bookbinder, surrounded the single leaves with lines, and thus actually
compelled me to draw the outline of different mountains up to the
margin, and to fill up the foreground with some weeds and stones.

If his faithful endeavours could not increase my talent, nevertheless
this mark of his love of order had upon me a secret influence, which
afterwards manifested itself vigorously in more ways than one.

[Side-note: Goethe's Sister.]

From such rambling excursions, undertaken partly for pleasure, partly
for art, and which could be performed in a short time and often
repeated, I was again drawn home, and that by a magnet which always
acted upon me strongly: this was my sister. She, only a year younger
than I, had lived my whole conscious period of life with me, and was
thus bound to me by the closest ties. To these natural causes was
added a forcible motive, which proceeded from our domestic position; a
father certainly affectionate and well-meaning, but grave, who, because
he cherished within a very tender heart, externally, with incredible
consistency, maintained a brazen sternness, that he might attain the
end of giving his children the best education, and of building up,
regulating, and preserving his well-founded house; a mother, on the
other hand, as yet almost a child, who first grew up to consciousness
with and in her two eldest children; these three, as they looked at
the world with healthy eyes, capable of life, and desiring present
enjoyment. This contradiction floating in the family increased with
years. My father followed out his views unshaken and uninterrupted; the
mother and children could not give up their feelings, their claims,
their wishes.

Under these circumstances it was natural that brother and sister should
attach themselves close to each other, and adhere to their mother, that
they might singly snatch the pleasures forbidden as a whole. But since
the hours of solitude and toil were very long compared to the moments
of recreation and enjoyment, especially for my sister, who could never
leave the house for so long a time as I could, the necessity she felt
for entertaining herself with me was still sharpened by the sense of
longing with which she accompanied me to a distance.

And as, in our first years, playing and learning, growth and education,
had been quite common to both of us, so that we might well have been
taken for twins, so did this community, this confidence, remain during
the development of our physical and moral powers. That interest of
youth, that amazement at the awakening of sensual impulses which
clothe themselves in mental forms, of mental necessities which clothe
themselves in sensual images, all the reflections upon these, which
obscure rather than enlighten us, as the fog covers over and does not
illumine the vale from which it is about to rise, the many errors and
aberrations springing therefrom,--all these the brother and sister
shared and endured hand in hand, and were the less enlightened as to
their strange condition, as the nearer they wished to approach each
other, to clear up their minds, the more forcibly did the sacred awe
of their close relationship keep them apart.

Reluctantly do I mention, in general terms, what I undertook to set
forth, years ago, without being able to accomplish it. As I lost this
beloved, incomprehensible being, but too soon, I felt inducement enough
to make, her worth present to me, and thus arose in me the conception
of a poetic whole, in which it might be possible to exhibit her
individuality: but for this no other form could be devised than that
of the Richardsonian novels. Only by the minutest detail, by endless
particularities which bear vividly all the character of the whole,
and as they spring up from a wonderful depth give some feeling of
that depth;--only in such a manner would it have been in some degree
possible to give a representation of this remarkable personality: for
the spring can be apprehended only while it is flowing. But from this
beautiful and pious design, as from so many others, the tumult of the
world drew me back, and nothing now remains for me but to call up for a
moment that blessed spirit, as if by the aid of a magic mirror.

[Side-note: Goethe's Sister.]

She was tall, well and delicately formed, and had something naturally
dignified in her demeanour, which melted away into a pleasing mildness.
The lineaments of her face, neither striking nor beautiful, indicated
a character which was not and could not be at union with itself. Her
eyes were not the finest I have ever seen, but the deepest, behind
which you expected the most; and when they expressed any affection, any
love, their brilliancy was unequalled. And yet, properly speaking, this
expression was not tender, like that which comes from the heart, and
at the same time carries with it something of longing and desire; this
expression came from the soul, it was full and rich, it seemed as if it
would only give, without needing to receive.

But what in a manner quite peculiar disfigured her face, so that she
would often appear positively ugly, was the fashion of those times,
which not only bared the forehead, but, either accidentally or on
purpose, did everything apparently or really to enlarge it. Now, as
she had the most feminine, most neatly arched forehead, and moreover a
pair of strong black eyebrows, and prominent eyes, these circumstances
occasioned a contrast, which, if it did not repel every stranger at the
first glance, at least did not attract him. She early felt it, and this
feeling became constantly the more painful to her, the further she
advanced into the years when both sexes find an innocent pleasure in
being mutually agreeable.

To nobody can his own form be repugnant; the ugliest as well as the
most beautiful has a right to enjoy his own presence; and as favour
beautifies, and every one regards himself in the looking-glass with
favour, it may be asserted that every one must see himself with
complacency, even if he would struggle against the feeling. Yet my
sister had such a decided foundation of good sense, that she could
not possibly be blind and silly in this respect; on the contrary, she
perhaps knew more clearly than she ought, that she stood far behind her
female playfellows in external beauty, without feeling consoled by the
fact that she infinitely surpassed them in internal advantages.

If a lady can be recompensed for the want of beauty, then was she
richly so by the unbounded confidence, the regard, and love which
all her female friends bore to her; whether they were older or
younger, all cherished the same sentiments. A very pleasant society
had collected around her; young men were not wanting who knew how to
insinuate themselves; nearly every girl found an admirer; she alone
had remained without a partner. Indeed, if her exterior was in some
measure repulsive, the mind that gleamed through it was also rather
repelling than attractive; for the presence of any excellence throws
others back upon themselves. She felt this sensibly, she did not
conceal it from me, and her love was directed to me with so much the
greater force. The ease was singular enough. As confidants to whom one
reveals a love-affair actually by genuine sympathy become lovers also,
nay, grow into rivals, and at last, perchance, transfer the passion to
themselves, so it was with us two: for, when my connexion with Gretchen
was torn asunder, my sister consoled me the more earnestly, because she
secretly felt the satisfaction of having gotten rid of a rival; and
I, too, could not but feel a quiet, half-mischievous pleasure, when
she did me the justice to assure me that I was the only one who truly
loved, understood, and esteemed her. If now, from time to time, my
grief for the loss of Gretchen revived, and I suddenly began to weep,
to lament, and to act in a disorderly manner, my despair for my lost
one awakened in her likewise a similar despairing impatience as to
the never-possessings, the failures, and miscarriages of such youthful
attachments, that we both thought ourselves infinitely unhappy, and
the more so as, in this singular case, the confidants could not change
themselves into lovers.

[Side-note: The Sister's Lover.]

Fortunately, however, the capricious god of Love, who needlessly
does so much mischief, here for once interfered beneficially, to
extricate us out of all perplexity. I had much intercourse with a
young Englishman who was educated in Pfeil's boarding-school. He could
give a good account of his own language, I practised it with him, and
thus learned much concerning his country and people. He went in and
out of our house long enough without my remarking in him a liking
for my sister, yet he may have been nourishing it in secret, even to
passion, for at last it declared itself unexpectedly and at once. She
knew him, she esteemed him, and he deserved it. She had often made the
third at our English conversations, we had both tried to catch from
his mouth the irregularities of the English pronunciation, and thereby
accustomed ourselves not only to the peculiarities of its accent and
sound, but even to what was most peculiar in the personal qualities
of our teacher; so that at last it sounded strangely enough when we
all seemed to speak as if out of one mouth. The pains he took to learn
as much German from us in the like manner, were to no purpose, and I
think I have remarked that even this little love-affair also, both in
speaking and writing, was carried on in the English language. Both
the young persons were very well suited to each other; he was tall
and well-built, as she was, only still more slender; his face, small
and compact, might really have been pretty, had it not been too much
disfigured by the small-pox; his manner was calm, precise, one might
often have called it dry and cold; but his heart was full of kindness
and love, his soul full of generosity, and his attachments as lasting
as they were decided and controlled. Now this serious pair, who had but
lately formed an attachment, were quite peculiarly distinguished among
the others, who, being already better acquainted with each other, of
more frivolous character, and careless as to the future, roved about
with levity in these connexions, which commonly pass away as the mere
fruitless prelude to subsequent and more serious ties, and very seldom
produce a lasting effect upon life.

The fine weather and the beautiful country did not remain unenjoyed by
so lively a company; water excursions were frequently arranged, because
these are the most sociable of all parties of pleasure. Yet whether
we were moving on water or on land, the individual attracting powers
immediately showed themselves; each couple kept together, and for some
men who were not engaged, of whom I was one, there remained either
no conversation with the ladies at all, or only such as no one would
have chosen for a day of pleasure. A friend who found himself in this
situation, and who might have been in want of a partner chiefly for
this reason, that with the best humour he lacked tenderness, and with
much intelligence, that delicate attention, without which connexions of
this kind are not to be thought of;--this man, after often humorously
and wittily lamenting his condition, promised at the next meeting to
make a proposal which would benefit himself and the whole company. Nor
did he fail to perform his promise: for, when after a brilliant trip by
water, and a very pleasant walk, reclining on the grass between shady
knolls, or sitting on mossy rocks and roots of trees, we had cheerfully
and happily consumed a rural meal, and our friend saw us all cheerful
and in good spirits, he, with a waggish dignity, commanded us to sit
close round him in a semicircle, before which he stepped, and began to
make an emphatic peroration as follows:--

"Most worthy friends of both sexes, paired and unpaired!"--It was
already evident, from this address, how necessary it was that a
preacher of repentance should arise and sharpen the conscience of the
company. "One part of my noble friends is paired, and they may find
themselves quite happy; another unpaired, and these find themselves
in the highest degree miserable, as I can assure you from my own
experience; and although the loving couples are here in the majority,
yet I would have them consider whether it is not a social duty to take
thought for the whole? Why do so many of us unite together but to take
a mutual interest in each other? and how can that be done when so many
little secessions are to be seen in our circle? Far be it from me to
insinuate any thing against such sweet connexions, or even to wish to
disturb them; but 'there is a time for all things!' an excellent great
saying, of which, indeed, nobody thinks when his own amusement is
sufficiently provided for."

He then went on with constantly increasing liveliness and gaiety to
compare the social virtues with the tender sentiments. "The latter,"
said he, "can never fail us; we always carry them about with us, and
every one becomes a master in them without practice; but we must go in
quest of the former, we must take some trouble about them, and though
we progress in them as much as we will, we have never done learning
them." Now he went into particulars. Many felt themselves hit off, and
they could not help casting glances at each other; yet our friend had
this privilege, that nothing he did was taken ill, and so he could
proceed without interruption.

[Side-note: Humorous Oration.]

"It is not enough to discover deficiencies; indeed, it is unjust to
do so, if at the same time one cannot contrive to give the means for
bettering the state of affairs. I will not, therefore, my friends,
something like a preacher in Passion-week, exhort you in general terms
to repentance and amendment; I rather wish all amiable couples the
longest and most enduring happiness, and to contribute to it myself in
the surest manner, I propose to sever and abolish these most charming
little segregations during our social hours. I have," he continued,
"already provided for the execution of my project, if it should
meet your approbation. Here is a bag in which are the names of the
gentlemen; now draw, my fair ones, and be pleased to favour as your
servant, for a week, him whom fate shall send you. This is binding only
within our circle; as soon as that is broken up, these connexions are
also abolished, and the heart may decide who shall attend you home."

A large part of the company had been delighted with this address, and
the manner in which he delivered it, and seemed to approve of the
notion; yet some couples looked at each other as if they thought that
it would not answer their purpose: he therefore cried with humorous

"Truly! it surprises me that some one does not spring up, and, though
others hesitate, extol my plan, explain its advantages, and spare me
the pain of being my own encomiast. I am the oldest among you; may God
forgive me for that! Already have I a bald pate, which is owing to my
great meditation,"--

Here he took off his hat--

"But I would expose it to view with joy and honour if my lucubrations,
which dry up my skin, and rob me of my finest adornment, could only
be in some measure beneficial to myself and others. We are young, my
friends,--that is good; we shall grow older,--that is bad; we take
little offence at each other,--that is right, and in accordance with
the season. But soon, my friends, the days will come when we shall have
much to be displeased at in ourselves; then let every one see that he
makes all right with himself; but, at the same time, others will take
things ill of us, and on what account we shall not understand; for this
we must prepare ourselves; this shall now be done."

He had delivered the whole speech, but especially the last part, with
the tone and gesture of a Capuchin; for as he was a catholic, he might
have had abundant opportunity to study the oratory of these fathers.
He now appeared out of breath, wiped his youthful bald head, which
really gave him the look of a priest, and by these drolleries put the
light-hearted company in such good humour that every one was eager to
hear him longer. But instead of proceeding, he drew open the bag, and
turned to the nearest lady--"Now for a trial of it!" exclaimed he; "the
work will do credit to the master. If in a week's time we do not like
it, we will give it up, and stick to the old plan."

Half willingly, half on compulsion, the ladies drew their tickets,
and it was easy to see that various passions were in play during this
little affair. Fortunately it happened that the merry-minded were
separated, while the more serious remained together; and so, too, my
sister kept her Englishman, which, on both sides, they took very kindly
of the god of Love and Luck. The new chance-couples were immediately
united by the _Antistes_, their healths were drank, and to all the more
joy was wished, as its duration was to be but short. This was certainly
the merriest moment that our company had enjoyed for a long time. The
young men to whose share no lady had fallen, held, for this week, the
office of providing for the mind, the soul, and the body, as our orator
expressed himself, but especially, he hinted, for the soul, since both
the others already knew how to help themselves.

These masters of ceremonies, who wished at once to do themselves
credit, brought into play some very pretty new games, prepared at some
distance a supper, which we had not reckoned on, and illuminated the
yacht on our return at night, although there was no necessity for it
in the bright moonlight; but they excused themselves by saying that
it was quite conformable to the new social regulation to outshine the
tender glances of the heavenly moon by earthly candles. The moment we
touched the shore, our Solon cried, "_Ite, missa est!_" Each one now
handed out of the vessel the lady who had fallen to him by lot, and
then surrendered her to her proper partner, on receiving his own in

At our next meeting this weekly regulation was established for the
summer, and the lots were drawn once more. There was no question but
that this pleasantry gave a new and unexpected turn to the company,
and every one was stimulated to display whatever of wit and grace
was in him, and to pay court to his temporary fair one in the most
obliging manner, since he might depend on having a sufficient store of
complaisance for one week at least.

[Side-note: Second Oration.]

We had scarcely settled ourselves, than, instead of thanking our
orator, we reproached him for having kept to himself the best part
of his speech--the conclusion. He thereupon protested that the best
part of a speech was persuasion; and that he who did not aim at
persuasion should make no speech; for, as to conviction, that was a
ticklish business. As, however, they gave him no peace, he began a
Capuchinade on the spot, more comical than ever, perhaps, for the very
reason that he took it into his head to speak on the most serious
subjects. For, with texts out of the Bible which had nothing to do with
the business--with similes which did not fit--with allusions which
illustrated nothing--he carried out the proposition, that whosoever
does not know how to conceal his passions, inclinations, wishes,
purposes and plans, will come to no good in the world, but will be
disturbed and made a butt in every end and corner; and that especially
if one would be happy in love, one must take pains to keep it a most
profound secret.

This thought ran through the whole, without, properly speaking, a
single word of it being said. If you would form a conception of
this singular man, let it be considered that, being born with a
good foundation, he had cultivated his talents, and especially his
acuteness, in Jesuit schools, and had amassed an extensive knowledge
of the world and of men, but only on the bad side. He was some
two-and-twenty years old, and would gladly have made me a proselyte to
his contempt for mankind: but this would not take with me, as I always
had a great desire to be good myself, and to find good in others.
Meanwhile I was by him made attentive to many things.

To complete the _dramatis personæ_ of every merry company, an actor
is necessary, who feels pleasure when the others, to enliven many an
indifferent moment, point the arrows of their wit at him. If he is
not merely a stuffed Saracen, like those on whom the knights used to
practise their lances in mock battles, but understands himself how
to skirmish, to rally and to challenge, how to wound lightly, and
recover himself again, and, while he seems to expose himself, to give
others a thrust home, nothing more agreeable can be found. Such a
man we possessed in our friend Horn, whose name, to begin with, gave
occasion for all sorts of jokes, and who, on account of his small
figure, was called nothing but Hörnchen (little Horn). He was, in
fact, the smallest in the company, of a stout, but pleasing form; a
pug-nose, a mouth somewhat pouting, little sparkling eyes, made up
a swarthy countenance, which always seemed to invite laughter. His
little compact skull was thickly covered with curly black hair; his
beard was prematurely blue, and he would have liked to let it grow,
that, as a comic mask, he might always keep the company laughing. For
the rest, he was neat and nimble, but insisted that he had bandy legs,
which everybody granted, since he was bent on having it so, but about
which many a joke arose; for since he was in request as a very good
dancer he reckoned it among the peculiarities of the fair sex, that
they always liked to see bandy legs on the floor. His cheerfulness was
indestructible, and his presence at every meeting indispensable. We
two kept more together because he was to follow me to the university;
and he well deserves that I should mention him with all honour, as he
adhered to me for many years with infinite love, faithfulness, and

By my ease in rhyming, and in winning from common objects a poetical
side, he had allowed himself to be seduced into similar labours. Our
little social excursions, parties of pleasure, and the contingencies
that occurred in them, we decked out poetically, and thus by the
description of an event, a new event always arose. But as such social
jests commonly degenerate into personal ridicule, and my friend Horn,
with his burlesque representations, did not always keep within proper
bounds, many a misunderstanding arose, which, however, could soon be
softened down and effaced.

Thus, also, he tried his skill in a species of poetry which was then
very much the order of the day--the comic heroical poem. Pope's _Rape
of the Lock_ had called forth many imitations; Zachariä cultivated this
branch of poetry on German soil, and it pleased every one, because the
ordinary subject of it was some awkward fellow, of whom the genii made
game, while they favoured the better one.

It is not wonderful, but yet it excites wonder, when, in contemplating
a literature, especially the German, one observes how a whole nation
cannot get free from a subject which has been once given, and happily
treated in a certain form, but will have it repeated in every manner,
until, at last, the original itself is covered up, and stifled by the
heaps of imitations.

[Side-note: Comic Heroical Poetry.]

The heroic poem of my friend was a voucher for this remark. At a great
sledging party, an awkward man has assigned to him a lady who does not
like him; comically enough there befalls him, one after another, every
accident that can happen on such an occasion, until at last, as he is
entreating for the sledge-driver's right (a kiss), he falls from the
back seat; for just then, as was natural, the fates tripped him up.
The fair one seizes the reins, and drives home alone, where a favoured
friend receives her, and triumphs over his presumptuous rival. As to
the rest, it was very prettily contrived that the four different kinds
of spirits should worry him in turn, till at the end the gnomes hoist
him completely out of the saddle. The poem, written in Alexandrines,
and founded on a true story, highly delighted our little public, and we
were convinced that it could well be compared with the _Walpurgisnight_
of Löwen, or the _Renommist_ of Zachariä.[1]

While, now, our social pleasures required but an evening, and the
preparations for them only a few hours, I had enough time to read, and,
as I thought, to study. To please my father, I diligently repeated the
smaller work of Hopp, and could stand an examination in it forwards and
backwards, by which means I made myself complete master of the chief
contents of the Institutes. But a restless eagerness for knowledge
urged me further; I lit upon the history of ancient literature, and
from that fell into an encyclopedism, in which I read through Gessner's
_Isagoge_ and Morhov's _Polyhistor_, and thus gained a general notion
of how many strange things might have happened in learning and life. By
this persevering and rapid industry, continued day and night, I more
confused than instructed myself; but I lost myself in a still greater
labyrinth when I found Bayle in my father's library, and plunged deep
into him.

But a leading conviction, which was continually revived within me, was
that of the importance of the ancient tongues; since from amidst this
literary hurly-burly, thus much continually forced itself upon me, that
in them were preserved all the models of oratory, and at the same time
everything else of worth that the world has ever possessed. Hebrew,
together with biblical studies, had retired into the background, and
Greek likewise, since my acquaintance with it did not extend beyond
the New Testament. I therefore the more zealously kept to Latin,
the master-pieces in which lie nearer to us, and which, besides its
splendid original productions, offers us the other wealth of all ages
in translations, and the works of the greatest scholars. I consequently
read much in this language, with great ease, and was bold enough to
believe I understood the authors, because I missed nothing of the
literal sense. Indeed I was very indignant when I heard that Grotius
had insolently declared, "he did not read Terence as boys do." Happy
narrow-mindedness of youth!--nay, of men in general, that they can, at
every moment of their existence, fancy themselves finished, and inquire
after neither the true nor the false, after neither the high nor the
deep, but merely after that which is suited to them.

I had thus learned Latin, like German, French, and English, merely by
practice, without rules, and without conception. Whoever knows the
condition of school instruction then, will not think it strange that I
skipped grammar as well as rhetoric; all seemed to me to come together
naturally; I retained the words, their forms and inflexions, in my ear
and mind, and used the language with case in writing and in chattering.

[Side-note: Disgust at Frankfort.]

Michaelmas, the time when I was to go to the university, was
approaching, and my mind was excited quite as much about my life
as about my learning. I grew more and more clearly conscious of an
aversion to my native city. By Gretchen's removal, the heart had
been broken out of the boyish and youthful plant; it needed time to
bud forth again from its sides, and surmount the first injury by a
new growth. My ramblings through the streets had ceased; I now, like
others, only went such ways as were necessary. I never went again into
Gretchen's quarter of the city, not even into its vicinity; and as
my old walls and towers became gradually disagreeable to me, so also
was I displeased at the constitution of the city; all that hitherto
seemed so worthy of honour, now appeared to me in distorted shapes.
As grandson of the Schultheiss, the secret defects of such a republic
had not remained unknown to me; the less so, as children feel quite
a peculiar surprise, and are excited to busy researches, as soon as
something which they have hitherto implicitly revered becomes in any
degree suspicious to them. The fruitless indignation of upright men, in
opposition to those who are to be gained and even bribed by factions,
had become but too plain to me; I hated every injustice beyond measure;
for children are all moral rigorists. My father, who was concerned in
the affairs of the city only as a private citizen, expressed himself
with very lively indignation about much that had failed. And did I not
see him, after so many studies, endeavours, pains, travels, and so much
varied cultivation, between his four walls, leading a solitary life,
such as I could never desire for myself? All this put together, lay
as a horrible load on my mind, from which I could only free myself by
trying to contrive a plan of life altogether different from that which
had been marked out for me. In thought, I threw away my legal studies,
and devoted myself solely to the languages, to antiquities, to history,
and to all that flows from them.

Indeed, at all times, the poetic imitation of what I had perceived in
myself, in others, and in nature, afforded me the greatest pleasure. I
did it with ever-increasing facility, because it came by instinct, and
no criticism had led me astray; and if I did not feel full confidence
in my productions, I could certainly regard them as defective, but not
such as to be utterly rejected. Was this or that censured in them, I
still retained in private my conviction that I could not but gradually
improve, and that some time I might be honourably named along with
Hagedorn, Gellert, and other such men. But such a distinction alone
seemed to me too empty and inadequate; I wished to devote myself
professionally and with zeal to those aforesaid fundamental studies,
and while I thought to advance myself more rapidly in my own works
by a more thorough insight into antiquity, to qualify myself for a
university professorship, which seemed to me the most desirable thing
for a young man who intended to cultivate himself and to contribute to
the cultivation of others.

With these intentions, I always had my eye upon Göttingen. My whole
confidence rested upon men like Heyne, Michaelis, and so many others;
my most ardent wish was to sit at their feet, and attend to their
instructions. But my father remained inflexible. Howsoever some family
friends, who were of my opinion, tried to influence him he persisted
that I must go to Leipzig. I was now resolved, contrary to his views
and wishes, to choose a line of studies and of life for myself, by way
of self-defence. The obstinacy of my father, who, without knowing it,
opposed himself to my plans, strengthened me in my impiety, so that I
made no scruple to listen to him by the hour, while he described and
repeated to me the course of study and of life which I should pursue at
the universities and in the world.

Since all hopes of Göttingen were cut off, I now turned my eyes towards
Leipzig. There Ernesti appeared to me as a brilliant light; Morus,
too, already awakened much confidence*. I planned for myself in secret
an opposition-course, or rather I built a castle in the air, on a
tolerably solid foundation; and it seemed to me quite romantically
honourable to mark out my own path of life, which appeared the less
visionary, as Griesbach had already made great progress in a similar
way, and was commended for it by every one. The secret joy of a
prisoner, when he has unbound the fetters and rapidly filed through
the bars of his gaol-window, cannot be greater than was mine as I saw
day after day disappear, and October draw nigh. The inclement season
and the bad roads, of which everybody had something to tell, did not
frighten me. The thought of making good my footing in a strange place,
and in winter, did not make me sad; suffice it to say, that I only saw
my present situation was gloomy, and represented to myself the other
unknown world as light and cheerful. Thus I formed my dreams, to which
I gave myself up exclusively, and promised myself nothing but happiness
and content in the distance.

Closely as I kept these projects a secret from every one else, I could
not hide them from my sister, who, after being very much alarmed about
them at first, was finally consoled when I promised to send after her,
so that she could enjoy with me the brilliant station I was to obtain,
and share my comfort with me.

Michaelmas, so longingly expected, came at last, when I set out with
delight, in company with the bookseller Fleischer and his wife (whose
maiden name was Triller, and who was going to visit her father in
Wittemberg); and I left behind me the worthy city in which I had been
born and bred, with indifference, as if I wished never to set foot in
it again.

Thus, at certain epochs, children part from parents, servants from
masters, _protégés_ from their patrons; and whether it succeed or
not, such an attempt to stand on one's own feet, to make one's self
independent, to live for one's self, is always in accordance with the
will of nature.

[Side-note: Departure for Leipzig.]

We had driven out through the Allerheiligen (_All Saints_) gate, and
had soon left Hanau behind us, after which we reached scenes which
aroused my attention by their novelty, if, at this season of the year,
they offered little that was pleasing. A continual rain had completely
spoiled the roads, which, generally speaking, were not then in such
good order as we find them now; and our journey "was thus neither
pleasant nor happy. Yet I was indebted to this damp weather for the
sight of a natural phenomenon which must be exceedingly rare, for I
have seen nothing like it since, nor have I heard of its being observed
by others. At night, namely, we were driving up a rising ground
between Hanau and Gelhausen, and, although it was dark, we preferred
walking to exposing ourselves to the danger and difficulty of that
part of the road. All at once, in a ravine on the right-hand side of
the way, I saw a sort of amphitheatre, wonderfully illuminated. In a
funnel-shaped space there were innumerable little lights gleaming,
ranged step-fashion over one another, and they shone so brilliantly
that the eye was dazzled. But what stiff more confused the sight
was, that they did not keep still, but jumped about here and there,
as well downwards from above as _vice versâ_, and in every direction.
The most of them, however, remained stationary, and beamed on. It was
only with the greatest reluctance that I suffered myself to be called
away from this spectacle, which I could have wished to examine more
closely. On interrogating the postillion, he indeed knew nothing about
such a phenomenon, but said that there was in the neighbourhood an
old stone-quarry, the excavation of which was filled with water. Now
whether this was a pandemonium of will-o'-the-wisps, or a company of
shining creatures, I will not decide.

The roads through Thuringia were yet worse, and unfortunately, at
night-fall, our coach stuck fast in the vicinity of Auerstädt. We
were far removed from all mankind, and did everything possible to
work ourselves out. I failed not to exert myself zealously, and
might thereby have overstrained the ligaments of my chest; for soon
afterwards I felt a pain, which went off and returned, and did not
leave me entirely until after many years.

Yet on that same night, as if it had been destined for alternate good
and bad luck, I was forced, after an unexpectedly fortunate incident,
to experience a teazing vexation. We met, in Auerstädt, a genteel
married couple, who had also just arrived, having been delayed by a
similar accident; a pleasing, dignified man, in his best years, with a
very handsome wife. They politely persuaded us to sup in their company,
and I felt very happy when the excellent lady addressed a friendly
word to me. But when I was sent out to accelerate the soup which had
been ordered, not having been accustomed to the loss of rest and the
fatigues of travelling, such an unconquerable drowsiness overtook me,
that actually I fell asleep while walking, returned into the room with
my hat on my head, and without remarking that the others were saying
grace, placed myself with quiet unconsciousness behind the chair,
and never dreamed that by my conduct I had come to disturb their
devotions in a very droll way. Madame Fleischer, who lacked neither
spirit nor wit, nor tongue, entreated the strangers, before they had
seated themselves, not to be surprised at anything they might see
here; for that their young fellow-traveller had in his nature much of
the peculiarity of the Quakers, who believe that they cannot honour
God and the king better than with covered heads. The handsome lady,
who could not restrain her laughter, looked prettier than ever in
consequence, and I would have given everything in the world not to have
been the cause of a merriment which was so beautifully becoming in her
countenance. I had, however, scarcely laid aside my hat, than these
persons, in accordance with their polished manners, immediately dropped
the joke, and with the best wine from their bottle-case completely
extinguished sleep, chagrin, and the memory of all past troubles.

[Side-note: Leipzig.]

I arrived in Leipzig just at the time of the fair, from which I derived
particular pleasure: for here I saw before me the continuation of
a state of things belonging to my native city, familiar wares and
traders;--only in other places, and in a different order. I rambled
about the market and the booths with much interest, but my attention
was particularly attracted by the inhabitants of the Eastern countries
in their strange dresses, the Poles and Russians, and above all, the
Greeks, for the sake of whose handsome forms and dignified costume I
often went to the spot.

But this animating bustle was soon over, and now the city itself
appeared before me, with its handsome, high, and uniform houses. It
made a very good impression upon me, and it cannot be denied, that in
general, but especially in the silent moments of Sundays and holidays,
it has something imposing; and when in the moonlight the streets were
half in shadow, half-illuminated, they often invited me to nocturnal

In the meantime, as compared with that to which I had hitherto been
accustomed, this new state of affairs was by no means satisfactory.
Leipzig calls up before the spectator no antique time; it is a new,
recently elapsed epoch, testifying commercial activity, comfort and
wealth, which announces itself to us in these monuments. Yet quite to
my taste were the huge-looking buildings, which, fronting two streets,
and embracing a citizen-world within their large court-yards, built
round with lofty walls, are like large castles, nay, even half-cities.
In one of these strange places I quartered myself, namely, in the
Bombshell Tavern (_Teuerkugel_), between the Old and the New Newmarket
(_Neumarkt._) A couple of pleasant rooms looking out upon a court-yard,
which, on account of the thoroughfare, was not without animation, were
occupied by the bookseller Fleischer during the fair; and by me taken
for the rest of the time at a moderate price. As a fellow-lodger I
found a theological student, who was deeply learned in his professional
studies, a sound thinker, but poor, and suffering much from his eyes,
which caused him great anxiety for the future. He had brought this
affliction upon himself by his inordinate reading till the latest dusk
of the evening, and even by moonlight, to save a little oil. Our old
hostess showed herself benevolent to him, always friendly to me, and
careful for us both.

[Side-note: Gellert.]

I now hastened-with my letters of introduction to Hofrath Böhme, who
once a pupil of Maskow, and now his successor, was professor of history
and public law. A little, thick-set, lively man, received me kindly
enough, and introduced me to his wife. Both of them, as well as the
other persons whom I waited on, gave me the pleasantest hopes as to
my future residence; but at first I let no one know of the design I
entertained, although I could scarcely wait for the favourable moment
when I should declare myself free from jurisprudence, and devoted to
the study of the classics. I cautiously waited till the Fleischers
had returned, that my purpose might not be too prematurely betrayed
to my family. But I then went, without delay, to Hofrath Böhme, to
whom, before all, I thought I must confide the matter, and with much
self-importance and boldness of speech disclosed my views to him.
However, I found by no means a good reception of my proposition. As
professor of history and public law, he had a declared hatred for
everything that savoured of the _belles lettres._ Unfortunately he
did not stand on the best footing with those who cultivated them, and
Gellert in particular, in whom I had, awkwardly enough, expressed much
confidence, he could not even endure. To send a faithful student to
those men, therefore, while he deprived himself of one, and especially
under such circumstances, seemed to him altogether out of the question.
He therefore gave me a severe lecture on the spot, in which he
protested that he could not permit such a step without the permission
of my parents, even if he approved of it himself, which was not the
case in this instance. He then passionately inveighed against philology
and the study of languages, but still more against poetical exercises,
which I had indeed allowed to peep out in the back-ground. He finally
concluded that, if I wished to enter more closely into the study of the
ancients, it could be done much better by the way of jurisprudence.
He brought to my recollection many elegant jurists, such as Eberhard,
Otto, and Heineccius, promised me mountains of gold from Roman
antiquities and the history of law, and showed me, clear as the sun,
that I should here be taking no roundabout way, even if afterwards,
on more mature deliberation, and with the consent of my parents, I
should determine to follow out my own plan. He begged me, in a friendly
manner, to think the matter over once more, and to open my mind to him
soon, as it would be necessary to come to a determination at once, on
account of the impending commencement of the lectures.

It was, however, very polite of him not to press me on the spot. His
arguments, and the weight with which he advanced them, had already
convinced my pliant youth, and I now first saw the difficulties and
doubtfulness of a matter which I had privately pictured to myself as so
feasible. Frau Hofrath Böhme invited me to see her shortly afterwards.
I found her alone. She was no longer young, and had very delicate
health, was gentle and tender to an infinite degree, and formed a
decided contrast to her husband, whose good-nature was even clustering.
She spoke of the conversation her husband had lately had with me, and
once more placed the subject before me, in all its bearings, in so
cordial a manner, so affectionately and sensibly, that I could not help
yielding; the few reservations on which I insisted were also agreed
upon by the other side.

Thereupon her husband regulated my hours: for I was to hear lectures on
philosophy, the history of law, the Institutes, and some other matters.
I was content with this; but I carried my point so as to attend
Gellert's history of literature (with Stockhausen for a text-book), and
his _Practicum_ besides.

The reverence and love with which Gellert was regarded by all young
people was extraordinary. I had already visited him, and had been
kindly received by him. Not of tall stature, elegant without being
lean, soft and rather pensive eyes, a very fine forehead, a nose
aquiline, but not too much so, a delicate mouth, a face of an agreeable
oval,--all made his presence pleasing and desirable. It cost some
trouble to reach him His two _Famuli_ appeared like priests who guard a
sanctuary, the access to which is not permitted to everybody, nor at
every time; and such a precaution was very necessary: for he would have
sacrificed his whole time, had he been willing to receive and satisfy
all those who wished to become intimate with him.

At first I attended my lectures assiduously and faithfully: but the
philosophy would not enlighten me at all. In the logic it seemed
strange to me that I had so to tear asunder, isolate, and, as it
were, destroy those operations of the mind which I had performed
with the greatest ease from my youth upwards, and this in order to
see into the right use of them. Of the thing itself, of the world,
and of God, I thought I knew about as much as the professor himself,
and in more places than one the affair seemed to me to come into a
tremendous strait. Yet all went on in tolerable order till towards
Shrovetide, when, in the neighbourhood of Professor Winkler's house on
the _Thomas-place_, the most delicious fritters came hot out of the
pan just at the hour of lecture, and these delayed us so long, that
our note-books became disordered, and the conclusion of them, towards
spring, melted away, together with the snow, and was lost.

It was soon quite as bad with the law lectures: for I already knew
just as much as the professor thought good to communicate to us. My
stubborn industry in writing down the lectures at first, was paralyzed
by degrees, for I found it excessively tedious to pen down once more
that which, partly by question, partly by answer, I had repeated with
my father often enough to retain it for ever in my memory. The harm
which is done when young people at school are advanced too far in many
things, was afterwards manifested still more when time and attention
were diverted from exercises in the languages, and a foundation in what
are, properly speaking, preparatory studies, in order to be applied to
what are called "Realities," which dissipate more than they cultivate,
if they are not methodically and thoroughly taught.

I here mention, by the way, another evil by which students are much
embarrassed. Professors, as well as other men in office, cannot all
be of the same age; but when the younger ones teach, in fact, only
that they may learn, and moreover, it they have talent, anticipate
their age, they acquire their own cultivation altogether at the cost
of their hearers, since these are not instructed in what they really
need, but in that which the professor finds it necessary to elaborate
for himself. Among the oldest professors, on the contrary, many are for
a long time stationary; they deliver on the whole only fixed views,
and, in the details, much that time has already condemned as useless
and false. Between the two arises a sad conflict, in which young minds
are dragged hither and thither, and which can scarcely be set right by
the middle-aged professors, who, though sufficiently instructed and
cultivated, always feel within themselves an active endeavour after
knowledge and reflection.

Now as in this way I learned to know much more than I could digest,
whereby a constantly increasing uncomfortableness was forced upon me,
so also from life I experienced many disagreeable trifles, as indeed
one must always pay one's footing when one changes one's place and
comes into a new position. The first thing that the ladies blamed in me
related to my dress; for I had come from home to the university rather
oddly equipped.

[Side-note: Domestic Tailoring.]

My father, who detested nothing so much as when something happened in
vain, when any one did not know how to make use of his time, or found
no opportunity for turning it to account, carried his economy of time
and abilities so far, that nothing gave him greater pleasure than to
kill two birds with one stone.[2] He had therefore never engaged a
servant who could not be useful to the house in something else. Now, as
he had always written everything with his own hand, and had, latterly,
the convenience of dictating to the young inmate of the house, he
found it most advantageous to have tailors for his domestics, who were
obliged to make good use of their time, as they not only had to make
their own liveries, but the clothes for my father and the children,
besides doing all the mending. My father himself took pains to have the
best cloths and stuffs, by getting fine wares of the foreign merchants
at the fair, and laying them up in store. I still remember well that
he always visited the Herrn von Löwenicht, of Aix-la-Chapelle, and
from my earliest youth made me acquainted with these and other eminent

Care was also taken for the fitness of the stuff, and there was a
plentiful stock of different kinds of cloth, serge, and Götting stuff,
besides the requisite lining, so that, as far as the materials were
concerned, we might well venture to be seen. But the form spoiled
almost everything. For if one of our home-tailors was anything of a
clever hand at sewing and making up a coat which had been cut out for
him in masterly fashion, he was now obliged also to cut out the dress
for himself, which did not always succeed to perfection. In addition to
this my father kept whatever belonged to his clothing in very good and
neat order, and preserved more than used it for many years. Thus he had
a predilection for certain old cuts and trimmings, by which our dress
sometimes acquired a strange appearance.

In this same way had the wardrobe which I took with me to the
university been furnished: it was very complete and handsome, and
there was even a laced suit amongst the rest. Already accustomed to
this kind of attire, I thought myself sufficiently well dressed; but
it was not long before my female friends, first by gentle raillery,
then by sensible remonstrances, convinced me that I looked as if I had
dropped down out of another world. Much as I felt vexed at this, I did
not at first see how I could help myself. But when Herr von Masuren,
the favourite poetical country squire, once entered the theatre in a
similar costume, and was heartily laughed at, more by reason of his
external than his internal absurdity, I took courage, and ventured at
once to exchange my whole wardrobe for a new-fashioned one, suited to
the place, by which, however, it shrunk considerably.

After this trial was surmounted, a new one was to make its appearance,
which proved to be far more unpleasant, because it concerned a matter
which one does not so easily put off and exchange.

I had been born and bred in the Upper-German dialect, and although
my father always laboured after a certain purity of language, and,
from our youth upwards, had made us children attentive to what may
be really called the defects of that idiom, and so prepared us for a
better maimer of speaking, I retained nevertheless many deeper-seated
peculiarities, which, because they pleased me by their _naïveté_, I was
fond of making conspicuous, and thus every time I used them incurred
a severe reprimand from my new fellow-townsmen. The Upper-German, and
perhaps chiefly he who lives by the Rhine and Maine (for great rivers,
like the sea-coast, always have something animating about them),
expresses himself much in similes and allusions, and makes use of
proverbial sayings with a native common-sense aptness. In both cases
he is often blunt, but when one sees the drift of the expression, it
is always appropriate; only something, to be sure, may often slip in,
which proves offensive to a more delicate ear.

[Side-note: Provincial Dialect.]

Every province loves its own dialect: for it is, properly speaking,
the element in which the soul draws its breath. But every one knows
with what obstinacy the Misnian dialect has contrived to domineer over
the rest, and even, for a long time, to exclude them. We have suffered
for many years under this pedantic tyranny, and only by reiterated
struggles have all the provinces again established themselves in
their ancient rights. What a lively young man had to endure from this
continual tutoring, may be easily inferred by any one who reflects
that modes of thought, imagination, feeling, native character, must be
sacrificed with the pronunciation which one at last consents to alter.
And this intolerable demand was made by men and women of education,
whose convictions I could not adopt, whose injustice I believed I
felt, though I was unable to make it plain to myself. Allusions to the
pithy biblical texts were to be forbidden me, as well as the use of
the honest-hearted expressions from the Chronicles. I had to forget
that I had read the _Kaiser von Geisersberg_, and eschew the use of
proverbs, which nevertheless, instead of much fiddle-faddle, just hit
the nail upon the head;--all this, which I had appropriated to myself
with youthful ardour, I was now to do without; I felt myself paralyzed
to the core, and scarcely knew any more how I had to express myself on
the commonest things. I was told, besides, that one should speak as one
writes, and write as one speaks; while, to me, speaking and writing
seemed once for all two different things, each of which might well
maintain its own rights. And even in the Misnian dialect had I to hear
many things which would have made no great figure on paper.

Every one who perceives in this the influence which men and women
of education, the learned, and other persons who take pleasure in
refined society, so decidedly exercise over a young student, would
be immediately convinced that we were in Leipzig, even if it had not
been mentioned. Each one of the German universities has a particular
character: for, as no universal cultivation can pervade our fatherland,
every place adheres to its own fashion, and carries out, even to the
last, its own characteristic peculiarities; exactly the same thing
holds good of the universities. In Jena and Halle roughness had been
carried to the highest pitch: bodily strength, skill in fighting, the
wildest self-help was there the order of the day; and such a state of
affairs can only be maintained and propagated by the most universal
riot. The relations of the students to the inhabitants of those cities,
various as they might be, nevertheless agreed in this, that the wild
stranger had no regard for the citizen, and looked upon himself as a
peculiar being, privileged to all sorts of freedom and insolence. In
Leipzig, on the contrary, a student could scarcely be anything else
than polite, as soon as he wished to stand on any footing at all with
the rich, well-bred, and punctilious inhabitants.

All politeness, indeed, when it does not present itself as the
flowering of a great and comprehensive mode of life, must appear
restrained, stationary, and from some points of view, perhaps, absurd;
and so those wild huntsmen from the Saale[3] thought they had a great
superiority over the tame shepherds on the Pleisse.[4] Zachariä's
_Renommist_ will always be a valuable document, from which the manner
of life and thought at that time rises visibly forth; as in general
his poems must be welcome to every one who wishes to form for himself
a conception of the then prevailing state of social life and manners,
which was indeed feeble, but amiable on account of its innocence and
childlike simplicity.

All manners which result from the given relations of a common existence
are indestructible, and, in my time, many things still reminded us
of Zachariä's epic poem. Only one of our fellow-academicians thought
himself rich and independent enough to snap his fingers at public
opinion. He drank acquaintance with all the hackney-coachmen, whom he
allowed to sit inside the coach as if they were gentlemen, while he
drove them on the box, thought it a great joke to upset them now and
then, and contrived to satisfy them for their smashed vehicles as well
as for their occasional bruises; but otherwise he did no harm to any
one, seeming only to make a mock of the public _en masse._ Once, on a
most beautiful promenade-day, he and a comrade of his seized upon the
donkeys of the miller in St. Thomas's-square; well-dressed, and in
their shoes and stockings, they rode around the city with the greatest
solemnity, stared at by all the promenaders, with whom the glacis was
swarming. When some sensible persons remonstrated with him on the
subject, he assured them, quite unembarrassed, that he only wanted to
see how the Lord Christ might have looked in a like case. Yet he found
no imitators, and few companions.

[Side-note: Student-life at Leipzig.]

For the student of any wealth and standing had every reason to
show himself attentive to the mercantile class, and to be the more
solicitous about the proper external forms, as the colony[5] exhibited
a model of French manners. The professors, opulent both from their
private property and from their liberal salaries, were not dependent
upon their scholars, and many subjects of the state, educated at the
Government schools or other gymnasia, and hoping for preferment, did
not venture to throw off the traditional customs. The neighbourhood
of Dresden, the attention paid to us from thence, and the true piety
of the superintendent of the course of study, could not be without a
moral, nay, a religious influence.

At first this kind of life was not repugnant to me; my letters of
introduction had given me the _entrée_ into good families, whose
circle of relatives also received me well. But as I was soon forced
to feel that the company had much to find fault with in me, and that
after dressing myself in their fashion, I must now talk according to
their tongue also, and as, moreover, I could plainly see that I was,
on the other hand, but little benefited by the instruction and mental
improvement I had promised myself from my academical residence, I began
to be lazy, and to neglect the social duties of visiting, and other
attentions, and indeed I should have sooner withdrawn from all such
connexions, had not fear and esteem bound me fast to Hofrath Böhme,
and confidence and affection to his wife. The husband, unfortunately,
had not the happy gift of dealing with young people, of winning their
confidence, and of guiding them, for the moment, as occasion might
require. When I visited him I never got any good by it; his wife, on
the contrary, showed a genuine interest in me. Her ill health kept
her constantly at home. She invited me to spend many an evening with
her, and knew how to direct and improve me in many little external
particulars; for my manners were good, indeed, but I was not yet master
of what is properly termed _étiquette._ Only one female friend spent
the evenings with her; but she was more dictatorial and pedantic, for
which reason she displeased me excessively, and, out of spite to her, I
often resumed those unmannerly habits from which the other had already
weaned me. Nevertheless she always had patience enough with me, taught
me piquet, ombre, and similar games, the knowledge and practice of
which is held indispensable in society.

But it was in the matter of taste that Madame Böhme had the greatest
influence upon me; in a negative way truly, yet one in which she agreed
perfectly with the critics. The Gottsched waters[6] had inundated the
German world with a true deluge, which threatened to rise up even
over the highest mountains. It takes a long time for such a flood to
subside again, for the mire to dry away; and as in any epoch there
are numberless aping poets, so the imitation of the flat and watery
produced a chaos, of which now scarcely a notion remains. To find out
that trash was trash was hence the greatest sport, yea, the triumph
of the critics of those days. Whoever had only a little common sense,
was superficially acquainted with the ancients, and was somewhat
more familiar with the moderns, thought himself provided with a
standard scale which he could everywhere apply. Madame Böhme was an
educated woman, who opposed the trivial, weak, and commonplace; she
was, besides, the wife of a man who lived on bad terms with poetry
in general, and would not even allow that of which she perhaps might
have somewhat approved. She listened, indeed, for some time, with
patience, when I ventured to recite to her the verse or prose of famous
poets, who already stood in good repute,--for then, as always, I knew
by heart everything that chanced in any degree to please me; but her
complaisance was not of long duration. The first whom she outrageously
abused were the poets of the Weisse school, who were just then often
quoted with great applause, and had delighted me very particularly. If
I looked more closely into the matter, I could not say she was wrong.
I had sometimes even ventured to repeat to her, though anonymously,
some of my own poems; but these fared no better than the rest of the
set. And thus, in a short time, the beautiful variegated meadows at the
foot of the German Parnassus, where I was fond of luxuriating, were
mercilessly mowed down, and I was even compelled to toss about the
drying hay myself, and to ridicule that as lifeless which, a short time
before, had given me such lively joy.

[Side-note: German Poetry.]

Without knowing it, Professor Morus came to strengthen her
instructions. He was an uncommonly gentle and friendly man, with whom I
became acquainted at the table of Hofrath Ludwig, and who received me
very pleasantly when I begged the privilege of visiting him. Now while
making inquiries of him concerning antiquity, I did not conceal from
him what delighted me among the modems; when he spoke about such things
with more calmness, but, what was still worse, with more profundity
than Madame Böhme; and he thus opened my eyes, at first to my greatest
chagrin, but afterwards to my surprise, and at last to my edification.

Besides this, there came the _Jeremiads_, with which Gellert, in his
course, was wont to warn us against poetry. He wished only for prose
essays, and always criticised these first. Verses he treated as a sorry
addition, and what was the worst of all, even my prose found little
favour in his eyes; for, after my old fashion, I used always to lay,
as the foundation, a little romance, which I loved to work out in the
epistolary form. The subjects were impassioned, the style went beyond
ordinary prose, and the contents probably did not display any very
deep knowledge of mankind in the author; and so I stood in very little
favour with our professor, although he carefully looked over my labours
as well as those of the others, corrected them with red ink, and here
and there added a moral remark. Many leaves of this kind, which I kept
for a long time with satisfaction, have unfortunately, in the course of
years, at last disappeared from among my papers.

If elderly persons wish to play the pedagogue properly, they should
neither prohibit nor render disagreeable to a young man anything which
gives him pleasure, of whatever kind it may be, unless, at the same
time, they have something else to put in its place, or can contrive a
substitute. Everybody protested against my tastes and inclinations;
and, on the other hand, what they commended to me, lay either so far
from me that I could not perceive its excellencies, or stood so near me
that I thought it not a whit better than what they inveighed against.
I thus became thoroughly perplexed on the subject, and promised myself
the best results from a lecture of Ernesti's on _Cicero de Oratore._ I
learned something, indeed, from this lecture, but was not enlightened
on the subject which particularly concerned me. I required a standard
of opinion, and thought I perceived that nobody possessed it; for no
one agreed with another, even when they brought forward examples; and
where were we to get a settled judgment, when they managed to reckon
up against a man like Wieland so many faults in his amiable writings,
which so completely captivated us younger folks?

Amid this manifold distraction, this dismemberment of my existence and
my studies, it happened that I took my dinners at Hofrath Ludwig's. He
was a medical man, a botanist, and his company, with the exception of
Morus, consisted of physicians just commencing or near the completion
of their studies. Now during these hours I heard no other conversation
than about medicine or natural history, and my imagination was drawn
over into quite a new field. I heard the names of Haller, Linnæus,
Buffon, mentioned with great respect; and even if disputes often arose
about mistakes into which it was said they had fallen, all agreed in
the end to honour the acknowledged abundance of their merits. The
subjects were entertaining and important, and enchained my attention.
By degrees I became familiar with many names and a copious terminology,
which I caught up the more willingly as I was afraid to write down a
rhyme, however spontaneously it presented itself, or to read a poem,
for I was fearful that it might please me at the time, and that perhaps
immediately afterwards, like so much else, I should be forced to
pronounce it bad.

[Side-note: Destruction of Juvenile Poems.]

This uncertainty of taste and judgment disquieted me more and more
every day, so that at last I fell into despair. I had brought with me
those of my youthful labours which I thought the best, partly because I
hoped to get some credit by them, partly that I might be able to test
my progress with greater certainty; but I found myself in the miserable
situation in which one is placed when a complete change of mind is
required,--a renunciation of all that one has hitherto loved and found
good. However, after some time, and many struggles, I conceived so
great a contempt for my labours, begun and ended, that one day I burnt
up poetry and prose, plans, sketches, and projects all together on the
kitchen hearth, and threw our good old landlady into no small fright
and anxiety by the smoke which filled the whole house.

[1] This word, which signifies something like our "bully," is specially
used to designate a fighting student.--_Trans._

[2] Literally: "to strike two flies with one flapper."--_Trans._

[3] The river on which Halle is built.--_Trans._

[4] The river that flows by Leipzig.--_Trans._

[5] Leipzig was so called, because a large and influential portion of
its citizens were sprung from a colony of Huguenots, who settled there
after the revocation of the edict of Nantes_.--American Note._

[6] That is to say, the influence of Gottsched on German literature, of
which more is said in the next book.--_Trans._


About the condition of German literature at that time so much has
been written, and that so sufficiently, that every one who takes any
interest in it can be completely informed; the judgments of it are now
pretty well agreed; and what at present I intend to say piece-meal
and disconnectedly concerning it, relates not so much to how it was
constituted in itself, as to how it stood towards me. I will therefore
first speak of those things by which the public is particularly
excited; of those two hereditary foes of all comfortable life, and
of all cheerful, self-sufficient, living poetry:--I mean, satire and

In quiet times every one will live after his own fashion; the citizen
will carry on his trade or his business, and enjoy the fruits of it
afterwards; thus will the author too willingly compose something,
publish his labours, and since he thinks he has done something good
and useful, hope for praise, if not reward. In this tranquillity the
citizen is disturbed by the satirist, the author by the critic, and
peaceful society is thus put into a disagreeable agitation.

The literary epoch in which I was born was developed out of the
preceding one by opposition. Germany, so long inundated by foreign
people, interpenetrated by other nations, directed to foreign languages
in learned and diplomatic transactions, could not possibly cultivate
her own. Together with so many new ideas, innumerable strange words
were obtruded necessarily and unnecessarily upon her, and even for
objects already known, people were induced to make use of foreign
expressions and turns of language. The German, having run wild for
nearly two hundred years in an unhappy tumultuary state, went to school
to the French to learn manners, and to the Romans in order to express
himself properly. But this was to be done in the mother-tongue, when
the literal application of those idioms, and their half-Germanization,
made both the social and business style ridiculous. Besides this,
they adopted without moderation the similes of the southern languages,
and employed them most extravagantly. Just so they transferred the
stately deportment of the prince-like citizens of Rome to the learned
German small-town officers, and were at home nowhere, least of all with

But as in this epoch works of genius had already appeared, the German
sense of freedom and joy also began to stir itself. This, accompanied
by a genuine earnestness, insisted that men should write purely and
naturally, without the intermixture of foreign words, and as common
intelligible sense dictated. By these praiseworthy endeavours,
however, the doors and gates were thrown open to an extended national
insipidity, nay, the dike was dug through by which the great deluge was
shortly to rush in. Meanwhile, a stiff pedantry long stood its ground
in all the four faculties, until at last, much later, it fled for
refuge from one of them into another.

Men of parts, children of nature looking freely about them, had
therefore two objects on which they could exercise themselves, against
which they could labour, and, as the matter was of no great importance,
give a vent to their petulance; these were: a language disfigured by
foreign words, forms, and turns of speech on the one hand, and the
worthlessness of such writings as had been careful to keep themselves
free from those faults on the other, though it occurred to nobody, that
while they were battling against one evil, the other was called on for

[Side-note: Liskow.]

LISKOW, a daring young man, first ventured to attack by name a shallow,
silly writer, whose awkward demeanour soon gave him an opportunity
to proceed still more severely. He then went further, and constantly
aimed his scorn at particular persons and objects, whom he despised and
sought to render despicable, nay, even persecuted them with passionate
hatred. But his career was short; for he soon died, and was gradually
forgotten as a restless, irregular youth. The talent and character
shown in what he did, although he had accomplished little, may have
seemed valuable to his countrymen: for the Germans have always shown a
peculiar pious kindliness to talents of good promise, when prematurely
cut off. Suffice it to say, that Liskow was very early praised and
recommended to us as an excellent satirist, who could have attained a
rank even above the universally-beloved Rabener. Here, indeed, we saw
ourselves no better off than before: for we could discover nothing in
his writings, except that he had found the silly, silly, which seemed
to us quite a matter of course.

RABENER, well educated, grown up under good scholastic instruction,
of a cheerful, and by no means passionate or malicious disposition,
took up general satire. His censure of the so-called vices and follies
springs from the clear views of a quiet common sense, and from a fixed
moral conception of what the world ought to be. His denunciation of
faults and failings is harmless and cheerful; and in order to excuse
even the slight boldness of his writings, it is supposed that the
improving of fools by ridicule is no fruitless undertaking.

Rabener's personal character will not easily appear again. As an able,
punctual man of business, he does his duty, and thus gains the good
opinion of his fellow-townsmen and the confidence of his superiors:
along with which, he gives himself up to the enjoyment of a pleasant
contempt for all that immediately surrounds him. Pedantic _literati_,
vain youngsters, every sort of narrowness and conceit, he banters
rather than satirizes, and even his banter expresses no contempt. Just
in the same way does he jest about his own condition, his misfortune,
his life, and his death.

There is little of the æsthetic in the manner in which this writer
treats his subjects. In external forms he is indeed varied enough, but
throughout he makes too much use of direct irony, namely, in praising
the blameworthy and blaming the praiseworthy, whereas this figure of
speech should be used but extremely seldom; for, in the long run, it
becomes annoying to clear-sighted men, perplexes the weak, while indeed
it pleases the great middle class, who, without any special expense
of mind, can fancy themselves more knowing than others. But all that
he brings before us, and however he does it, alike bears witness to
his rectitude, cheerfulness, and equanimity, so that we always feel
prepossessed in his favour. The unbounded applause of his own times was
a consequence of such moral excellencies.

[Side-note: Rabener.]

That people looked for originals to his general descriptions and found
them, was natural; that individuals complained of him, followed from
the above; his over-long apologies that his satire is not personal,
prove the spite which has been provoked. Some of his letters crown him
at once as a man and an author. The confidential epistle in which
he describes the siege of Dresden, and how he loses his house, his
effects, his writings, and his wigs, without having his equanimity
in the least shaken or his cheerfulness clouded, is highly valuable,
although his contemporaries and fellow-citizens could not forgive him
his happy turn of mind. The letter where he speaks of the decay of his
strength and of his approaching death is in the highest degree worthy
of respect, and Rabener deserves to be honoured as a saint by all
cheerful intelligent men, who cheerfully resign themselves to earthly

I tear myself away from him reluctantly, yet I would make this remark:
his satire refers throughout to the middle-class; he lets us see here
and there that he is also well acquainted with the higher ranks, but
does not hold it advisable to come in contact with them. It may be
said, that he has had no successor, that no one has been found who
could consider himself equal, or even similar to him.

Now for criticism! and first of all for the theoretic attempts. It is
not going too far when we say that the ideal had, at that time, escaped
out of the world into religion; it scarcely even made its appearance in
moral philosophy; of a highest principle of art no one had a notion.
They put Gottsched's _Critical Art of Poetry_ into our hands; it was
useful and instructive enough, for it gave us a historical information
of all the kinds of poetry, as well as of rhythm and its different
movements; the poetic genius was presupposed! But besides that the poet
was to have acquirements and even learning, he should possess taste,
and everything else of that kind. They directed us at last to Horace's
_Art of Poetry_; we gazed at single golden maxims of this invaluable
work, but did not know in the least what to do with it as a whole, or
how we should use it.

The Swiss stepped forth as Gottsched's antagonists; they must
take it into their heads to do something different, to accomplish
something better: accordingly we heard that they were, in fact,
superior. BREITINGER'S _Critical Art of Poetry_ was taken in hand.
Here we reached a wider field, but, properly speaking, only a greater
labyrinth, which was so much the more tiresome, as an able man, in
whom we had confidence, was driving us about in it. Let a brief review
justify these words.

For poetry in itself they had been able to find no fundamental axiom;
it was too spiritual and too volatile. Painting, an art which one could
hold fast with one's eyes, and follow step by step with the external
senses, seemed more favourable for such an end; the English and French
had already theorized about plastic art, and by a comparison drawn from
this, it was thought that poetry might be grounded. The former placed
images before the eyes, the latter before the fancy; poetical images,
therefore, were the first thing which was taken into consideration.
People began with comparisons, descriptions followed, and only that was
expressed which had always been apparent to the external senses.

Images, then! But where should these images be got except from nature?
The painter professedly imitated nature; why not the poet also? But
nature, as she lies before us, cannot be imitated: she contains
so much that is insignificant and worthless, that one must make a
selection; but what determines the choice? one must select that which
is important; but what is important?

To answer this question the Swiss may have taken a long time to
consider: for they came to a notion, which is indeed singular, but
clever, and even comical, inasmuch as they say, the new is always the
most important: and after they have considered this for a while, they
discover that the marvellous is always newer than everything else.

They had now pretty well collected their poetical requisitions; but
they had still to consider that the marvellous might also be empty and
without relation to man. But this relation, demanded as necessary, must
be a moral one, from which the improvement of mankind should manifestly
follow, and thus a poem had reached its utmost aim when, with
everything else accomplished, it was useful besides. They now wished to
test the different kinds of poetry according to all these requisites;
those which imitated nature, besides being marvellous, and at the same
time of a moral aim and use, were to rank as the first and highest. And
after much deliberation this great preeminence was at last ascribed,
with the highest degree of conviction, to Æsop's fables!

Strange as such a deduction may now appear, it had the most decided
influence on the best minds. That GELLERT and subsequently LICHTWER
devoted themselves to this department, that even LESSING attempted to
labour in it, that; so many others turned their talents towards it,
speaks for the confidence which this species of poetry had gained.
Theory and practice always act upon each other; one can see from their
works what is the men's opinion; and, from their opinions, predict what
they will do.

[Side-note: Bodmer--Breitinger--Guenther.]

Yet we must not dismiss our Swiss theory without doing it justice.
BODMER, with all the pains he took, remained theoretically and
practically a child all his life. BREITINGER was an able, learned,
sagacious man, whom when he looked rightly about him, the essentials
of a poem did not all escape; nay, it can be shown that he may have
dimly felt the deficiencies of his system. Remarkable, for instance,
is his query:--"Whether a certain descriptive poem by König, on the
_Review-camp of Augustus the Second_, is properly a poem?" and the
answer to it displays good sense. But it may serve for his complete
justification that he, starting from a false point, on a circle almost
run out already, still struck upon the main principle, and at the end
of his book finds himself compelled to recommend as additions, so to
speak, the representation of manners, character, passions, in short,
the whole inner man; to which, indeed, poetry pre-eminently belongs.

It may well be imagined into what perplexity young minds felt
themselves thrown by such dislocated maxims, half-understood laws,
and shivered up dogmas. We adhered to examples, and there, too, were
no better off; foreigners as well as the ancients stood too far
from us, and from the best native poets always peeped out a decided
individuality, to the good points of which we could not lay claim, and
into the faults of which we could not but be afraid of falling. For him
who felt anything productive in himself it was a desperate condition.

When one considers closely what was wanting in the German poetry,
it was a material, and that, too, a national one; there was never a
lack of talent. Here we make mention only of GUENTHER, who may be
called a poet in the full sense of the word. A decided talent, endowed
with sensuousness, imagination, memory, the gifts of conception and
representation, productive in the highest degree, ready at rhythm,
ingenious, witty, and of varied information besides;--he possessed,
in short, all the requisites for creating, by means of poetry, a
second life within life, even within common real life. We admire the
great facility with which, in his occasional poems, he elevates all
circumstances by the feelings, and embellishes them with suitable
sentiments, images, and historical and fabulous traditions. Their
roughness and wildness belong to his time, his mode of life, and
especially to his character, or if one would have it so, his want of
fixed character. He did not know how to curb himself, and so his life,
like his poetry, melted away from him.

By his vacillating conduct, Günther had trifled away the good fortune
of being appointed at the court of Augustus the Second, where, in
addition to every other species of ostentation, they were also looking
about for a court-poet, who could give elevation and grace to their
festivities, and immortalize a transitory pomp. VON KOENIG was more
mannerly and more fortunate; he filled this post with dignity and

In all sovereign states the material for poetry comes downwards from
above, and the _Review-camp at Mühlberg_ (_Das Lustlager bei Mühlberg_)
was, perhaps, the first worthy object, provincial, if not national,
which presented itself to a poet. Two kings saluting one another in the
presence of a great host, their whole courts and military state around
them, well-appointed troops, a mock-fight, _fêtes_ of all kinds,--this
is business enough for the outward sense, and overflowing material for
delineating and descriptive poetry.

This subject had, indeed, the internal defect, that it was only pomp
and show, from which no real action could result. None except the
very first distinguished themselves, and even if they had done so,
the poet could not render any one conspicuous lest he should offend
the others. He had to consult the _Court and State Calendar_, and the
delineation of the persons therefore went off pretty drily; nay, even
his contemporaries very strongly reproached him with having described
the horses better than the men. But should not this redound to his
credit, that he showed his art just where an object for it presented
itself? The main difficulty, too, seems soon to have manifested itself
to him--since the poem never advanced beyond the first canto.

[Side-note: Schlosser.]

Amidst such studies and reflections, an unexpected event surprised me,
and frustrated my laudable design of becoming acquainted with our new
literature from the beginning. My countryman, JOHN GEORGE SCHLOSSER,
after spending his academical years with industry and exertion, had
repaired to Frankfort-on-the-Maine, in the customary profession of an
advocate; but his mind, aspiring and seeking after the universal, could
not reconcile itself to this situation for many reasons. He accepted,
without hesitation, an office as private secretary to the Duke LUDWIG
of WURTEMBERG, who resided in Treptow; for the Prince was named among
those great men who, in a noble and independent manner, purposed to
enlighten themselves, their families, and the world, and to unite for
higher aims. It was this Prince Ludwig who, to ask advice about the
education of his children, had written to Rousseau, whose well-known
answer began with the suspicious-looking phrase--"_Si j'avais le
malheur d'être né prince._"

Not only in the affairs of the Prince, but also in the education of
his children, Schlosser was now willingly to assist in word and deed,
if not to superintend them. This noble young man, who harboured the
best will, and laboured after a perfect purity of morals, would have
easily kept men from him by a certain dry austerity, if his fine and
rare literary cultivation, his knowledge of languages, and his facility
at expressing himself by writing, both in verse and prose, had not
attracted every one, and made living with him more agreeable. It had
been announced to me that he would pass through Leipzig, and I expected
him with longing. He came and put up at a little inn or wine-house
that stood in the _Brühl_ (Marsh), and the host of which was named
Schönkopf. This man had a Frankfort woman for his wife, and although
he entertained few persons during the rest of the year, and could
lodge no guests in his little house, yet at fair-time he was visited
by many Frankforters, who used to eat, and, in case of need, even take
quarters there also. Thither I hastened to seek after Schlosser, when
he had sent to inform me of his arrival. I scarcely remembered having
seen him before, and found a young, well-formed man, with a round,
compressed face, without the features losing their sharpness on that
account. The form of his rounded forehead, between black eyebrows and
locks, indicated earnestness, sternness, and perhaps obstinacy. He
was, in a certain measure, the opposite of myself, and this very thing
doubtless laid the foundation of our lasting friendship. I had the
greatest respect for his talents, the more so as I very well saw that
in the certainty with which he acted and produced, he was completely my
superior. The respect and the confidence which I showed him confirmed
his affection, and increased the indulgence he was compelled to have
for my lively, impetuous, and ever-excitable disposition, in such
contrast with his own. He studied the English writers diligently; Pope,
if not his model, was his aim, and in opposition to that author's
_Essay on Man_, he had written a poem in like form and measure, which
was to give the Christian religion the triumph over the deism of the
other work. From the great store of papers which he carried with
him, he showed me poetical and prose compositions in all languages,
which, as they challenged me to imitation, once more gave me infinite
disquietude. Yet I contrived to help myself immediately by activity.
I wrote German, French, English and Italian poems, addressed to him,
the subject-matter of which I took from our conversations, which were
always important and instructive.

Schlosser did not wish to leave Leipzig without having seen face to
face the men who had a name. I willingly took him to those I knew;
with those whom I had not yet visited, I in this way became honourably
acquainted, since he was received with distinction as a well-informed
man of education, of already established character, and well knew how
to pay for the outlay of conversation. I cannot pass over our visit to
GOTTSCHED, as it exemplifies the character and manners of that man. He
lived very respectably in the first story of the Golden Bear, where the
elder Breitkopf, on account of the great advantage which Gottsched's
writings, translations, and other aids had brought to the trade, had
promised him a lodging for life.

We were announced. The servant led us into a large chamber, saying his
master would come immediately. Now whether we misunderstood a gesture
which he made, I cannot say; it is enough, we thought he directed us
into an adjoining room. We entered, and to a singular scene; for, on
the instant, Gottsched, that tall, broad, gigantic man, came in at the
opposite door in a morning-gown of green damask lined with red taffeta;
but his monstrous head was bald and uncovered. This, however, was to
be immediately provided for; the servant sprang in at a side-door
with a great full-bottomed wig in his hand (the curls came down to
the elbows), and handed the head-ornament to his master with gestures
of terror. Gottsched, without manifesting the least vexation, raised
the wig from the servant's arm with his left, hand, and while he very
dexterously swung it up on his head, gave the poor fellow such a box
on the ear with his right paw, that the latter, as often happens in a
comedy, went spinning out at the door; whereupon the respectable old
grandfather invited us quite gravely to be seated, and kept up a pretty
long discourse with good grace.

[Side-note: Fellow-boarders at Leipzig.]

As long as Schlosser remained in Leipzig, I dined daily with him, and
became acquainted with a very pleasant set of boarders. Some Livonians,
and the son of HERMANN (chief court-preacher in Dresden), afterwards
burgermaster in Leipzig, and their tutor, HOFRATH PFEIL, author of
the _Count von P._, a continuation of Gellert's _Swedish Countess_;
ZACHARIÆ, a brother of the poet; and KREBEL, editor of geographical and
genealogical manuals; all these were polite, cheerful, and friendly
men. Zachariä was the most quiet; Pfeil, an elegant man, who had
something almost diplomatic about him, yet without affectation, and
with great good-humour; Krebel, a genuine Falstaff, tall, corpulent,
fair, with prominent, merry eyes, as bright as the sky, always happy
and in good spirits. These persons all treated me in the most handsome
manner, partly on Schlosser's account--partly, too, on account of
my own frank good-humour and obliging disposition; and it needed no
great persuasion to make me partake of their table in future. In fact,
I remained with them after Schlosser's departure, deserted Ludwig's
table, and found myself so much the better off in this society, which
was limited to a certain number, as I was very well pleased with the
daughter of the family, a very neat, pretty girl, and had opportunities
to exchange friendly glances with her,--a comfort which I had neither
sought nor found by accident since the mischance with Gretchen. I
spent the dinner-hours with my friends cheerfully and profitably.
Krebel, indeed, loved me, and continued to teaze me and stimulate me in
moderation; Pfeil, on the contrary, showed his earnest affection for me
by trying to guide and settle my judgment upon many points.

During this intercourse, I perceived through conversation, through
examples, and through my own reflections, that the first step in
delivering ourselves from the wishy-washy, long-winded, empty epoch,
could be taken only by definiteness, precision, and brevity. In the
style which had hitherto prevailed, one could not distinguish the
commonplace from what was better, since all were brought down to a
level with each other. Authors had already tried to escape from this
widespread disease, with more or less success. HALLER and RAMLER were
inclined to compression by nature; LESSING and WIELAND were led to
it by reflection. The former became by degrees quite epigrammatical
in his poems, terse in _Minna_, laconic in _Emilia Galotti_,--it was
not till afterwards that he returned to that serene _naïveté_ which
becomes him so well in _Nathan._ Wieland, who had been occasionally
prolix in _Agathon_, _Don Sylvio_, and the _Comic Tales_, becomes
condensed and precise to a wonderful degree, as well as exceedingly
graceful, in _Musarion_ and _Idris._ KLOPSTOCK, in the first cantos
of the _Messiah_, is not without diffuseness; in his _Odes_ and other
minor poems he appears compressed, as also in his tragedies. By
his emulation of the ancients, especially Tacitus, he sees himself
constantly forced into narrower limits, by which he at last becomes
obscure and unpalatable. GERSTENBERG, a fine but eccentric talent,
also distinguishes himself; his merit is appreciated, but on the
whole he gives little pleasure. GLEIM, diffuse and easy by nature,
is scarcely once concise in his war-songs. RAMLER is properly more
a critic than a poet. He begins to collect what the Germans have
accomplished in lyric poetry. He now finds that scarcely one poem
fully satisfies him; he must leave out, arrange, and alter, that the
things may have some shape or other. By this means he makes himself
almost as many enemies as there are poets and amateurs, since every
one, properly speaking, recognizes himself only in his defects; and
the public interests itself sooner for a faulty individuality than
for that which is produced or amended according to a universal law of
taste. Rhythm lay yet in the cradle, and no one knew of a method to
shorten its childhood. Poetical prose came into the ascendant. GESSNER
and KLOPSTOCK excited many imitators: others, again, still demanded an
intelligible metre, and translated this prose into rhythm. But even
these gave nobody satisfaction; for they were obliged to omit and
add, and the prose original always passed for the better of the two.
But the more, with all this, conciseness is aimed at, the more does a
judgment become possible, since that which is important, being more
closely compressed, allows a certain comparison at last. It happened,
also, at the same time, that many kinds of truly poetical forms arose;
for as they tried to represent only what was necessary in the objects
they wished to imitate, they were forced to do justice to every one
of these; and in this manner, though no one did it consciously, the
modes of representation multiplied themselves, among which, indeed,
were some which were really caricatures, while many an attempt proved

[Side-note: Wieland.]

Without question, WIELAND possessed the finest natural gifts of all. He
had early cultivated himself thoroughly in those ideal regions where
youth so readily lingers; but when, by what is called experience, by
the events of the world and women, these were rendered distasteful
to him, he threw himself on the side of the actual, and pleased
himself and others with the contest of the two worlds, where, in light
skirmishing between jest and earnest, his talent displayed itself most
beautifully. How many of his brilliant productions fall into the time
of my academic years! _Musarion_ had the most effect upon me, and I
can yet remember the place and the very spot where I got sight of the
first proof-sheet, which Oeser gave me. Here it was that I believed I
saw antiquity again living and fresh. Everything that is plastic in
Wieland's genius here showed itself in its highest perfection; and
when that Phanias-Timon, condemned to an unhappy insipidity, finally
reconciles himself to his mistress and to the world, one can well, with
him, live through the misanthropical epoch. For the rest, we willingly
conceded to these works a cheerful aversion from those exalted
sentiments, which, by reason of their easy misapplication to life,
are often open to the suspicion of dreaminess. We pardoned the author
for prosecuting with ridicule what we held as true and reverend, the
more readily, as he thereby gave us to understand that it caused him
continual trouble.

How miserably criticism then received such labours may be seen from
the first volumes of the _Universal German Library._ Of the _Comic
Tales_ there is honourable mention; but there is no trace of any
insight into the character of the kind of poetry. The reviewer, like
every one at that time, had formed his taste on examples. He never
takes it into consideration that, in a judgment of such parodistical
works, one must first of all have before one's eyes the original noble,
beautiful object, in order to see whether the parodist has really
gotten from it a weak and comical side, whether he has borrowed
anything from it, or, under the appearance of such an imitation, has
perhaps given us an excellent invention of his own. Of all this there
is not a notion, but the poems are praised and blamed by passages. The
reviewer, as he himself confesses, has marked so much that pleased
him, that he cannot quote it all in print. When they even meet the
highly meritorious translation of Shakspeare with the exclamation:
"By rights, a man like Shakspeare should not have been translated at
all!" it will be understood, without further remark, how infinitely
the _Universal German Library_ was behindhand in matters of taste, and
that young people, animated by true feeling, had to look about them for
other guiding stars. The material which, in this manner, more or less
determined the form, the Germans sought everywhere. They had handled
few national subjects, or none at all. Schlegel's _Hermann_ only showed
the way. The idyllic tendency extended itself without end. The want of
distinctive character with Gessner, with all his great gracefulness and
childlike heartiness, made every one think that he could do something
of the same kind. Just in the same manner, out of the more generally
human, some snatch those poems which should have portrayed a foreign
nationality, as, for instance, the Jewish pastoral poems, those on the
patriarchs altogether, and whatever else related to the Old Testament.
Bodmer's _Noachide_ was a perfect symbol of the watery deluge that
swelled high around the German Parnassus, and which abated but slowly.
The leading-strings of Anacreon likewise allowed innumerable mediocre
geniuses to reel about at large. The precision of Horace compelled the
Germans, though but slowly, to conform to him. Comic heroic poems,
mostly after the model of Pope's _Rape of the Lock_, did not serve to
bring in a better time.

Yet I must here mention a delusion, which operated as seriously as it
must be ridiculous when one examines it more closely. The Germans had
now sufficient historical knowledge of all the kinds of poetry in which
the different nations had distinguished themselves. This pigeon-hole
work, which, properly speaking, totally destroys the inner conception
of poetry, had been already pretty completely hammered together by
Gottsched in his _Critical Art of Poetry_, and it had been shown at
the same time that German poets, too, had already known how to fill up
all the rubrics with excellent works. And thus it ever went on. Each
year the collection was more considerable, but every year one work
pushed another out of the place in which it had hitherto shone. We now
possessed, if not Homers, yet Virgils and Miltons; if not a Pindar,
yet a Horace; of Theocrituses there was no lack; and thus they weighed
themselves by comparisons from without, whilst the mass of poetical
works always increased, so that at last there could be a comparison
from within.

[Side-note: Popular Philosophy.]

Now, though matters of taste stood on a very uncertain footing, there
could be no dispute but that, within the Protestant part of Germany
and of Switzerland, what is generally called common-sense began to
bestir itself briskly at that epoch. The scholastic philosophy--which
always has the merit of propounding according to received axioms, in
a favourite order, and under fixed rubrics, everything about which
man can at all inquire,--had, by the frequent darkness and apparent
uselessness of its subject-matter, by its unseasonable application
of a method in itself respectable, and by its too great extension
over so many subjects, made itself foreign to the mass, unpalatable,
and at last superfluous. Many a one became convinced that nature had
endowed him with as great a portion of good and straightforward sense
as, perchance, he required to form such a clear notion of objects
that he could manage them and turn them to his own profit, and that
of others, without laboriously troubling himself about the most
universal problems, and inquiring how the most remote things which
do not particularly affect us may hang together. Men made the trial,
opened their eyes, looked straight before them, observant, industrious,
active, and believed that when one judges and acts correctly in one's
own circle, one may well presume to speak of other things also, which
lie at a greater distance.

In accordance with such a notion, every one was now entitled, not only
to philosophize, but also by degrees to consider himself a philosopher.
Philosophy, therefore, was more or less sound and practised common
sense, which ventured lo enter upon the universal, and to decide upon
inner and outer experiences. A clear-sighted acuteness and an especial
moderation, while the middle path and fairness to all opinions was held
to be right, procured respect and confidence for writings and oral
statements of the sort, and thus at last philosophers were found in all
the faculties, nay, in all classes and trades.

In this way the theologians could not help inclining to what is called
natural religion, and when the discussion was how far the light of
nature may suffice to advance us in the knowledge of God and the
improving and ennobling of ourselves, they commonly ventured to decide
in its favour without much scruple. According to the same principle of
moderation, they then granted equal rights to all positive religions,
by which they all became alike indifferent and uncertain. For the rest,
they let everything stand, and since the Bible is so full of matter,
that, more than any other book, it offers material for reflection and
opportunity for meditation on human affairs, it could still, as before,
be always laid as the foundation of all sermons and other religious

But over this work, as well as over the whole body of profane writers,
was impending a singular fate, which, in the lapse of time, was not
to be averted. Hitherto it had been received as a matter of implicit
faith, that this book of books was composed in one spirit; that it
was even inspired, and, as it were, dictated by the Divine Spirit.
Yet already for a long time the discrepancies of the different parts
of it had been now cavilled at, now apologized for, by believers and
unbelievers. English, French, and Germans had attacked the Bible with
more or less violence, acuteness, audacity, and wantonness; and just as
often had it been taken under the protection of earnest, sound-thinking
men of each nation. As for myself, I loved and valued it: for almost
to it alone did I owe my moral culture, and the events, the doctrines,
the symbols, the similes, had all impressed themselves deeply upon me,
and had influenced me in one way or another. These unjust, scoffing,
and perverting attacks, therefore, disgusted me; but people had already
gone so far as very willingly to admit, partly as a main ground for
the defence of many passages, that God had accommodated himself to the
modes of thought and power of comprehension in men; that even those
moved by the Spirit had not on that account been able to renounce their
character, their individuality, and that Amos, a cow-herd, did not
wield the language of Isaiah, who is said to have been a prince.

[Side-note: State of Theology.]

Out of such views and convictions, especially with a constantly
increasing knowledge of languages, was very naturally developed that
kind of study by which it was attempted to examine more accurately the
oriental localities, nationalities, natural products, and phenomena,
and in this manner to make present to one's-self that ancient time.
Michaelis employed the whole strength of his talents and his knowledge
on this side. Descriptions of travels became a powerful help in
explaining the Holy Scriptures, and later travellers, furnished with
numerous questions, were made, by the answers to them, to bear witness
for the prophets and apostles.

But whilst they were on all sides busied to bring the Holy Scriptures
to a natural intuition, and to render peculiar modes of thought and
representation in them more universally comprehensible, that by
this historico-critical aspect many an objection might be removed,
many offensive things effaced, and many a shallow scoffing be made
ineffective, there appeared in some men just the opposite disposition,
since these chose the darkest, most mysterious writings as the subject
of their meditations, and wished, if not to elucidate them, yet to
confirm them through internal evidence, by means of conjectures,
calculations, and other ingenious and strange combinations, and so far
as they contained prophecies, to prove them by the results, and thus to
justify a faith in what was next to be expected.

The venerable BENGEL had procured a decided reception for his labours
on the Revelations of St. John, from the fact that he was known as
an intelligent, upright, God-fearing, blameless man. Deep minds are
compelled to live in the past as well as in the future. The ordinary
movements of the world can be of no importance to them, if they do
not, in the course of ages up to the present, revere prophecies which
have been revealed, and in the immediate, as well as in the most
remote futurity, predictions still veiled. Hence arises a connexion
that is wanting in history, which seems to give us only an accidental
wavering backwards and forwards in a necessarily limited circle. Doctor
CRUSIUS** was one of those whom the prophetic part of Scripture suited
more than any other, since it brings into action the two most opposite
qualities of human nature, the affections, and the acuteness of the
intellect. Many young men had devoted themselves to this doctrine, and
already formed a respectable body, which attracted the more attention,
as ERNESTI with his friends threatened, not to illuminate, but
completely to disperse the obscurity in which these delighted. Hence
arose controversies, hatred, persecution and much that was unpleasant.
I attached myself to the lucid party, and sought to appropriate
to myself their principles and advantages, although I ventured to
forebode, that by this extremely praiseworthy, intelligent method of
interpretation, the poetic contents of the writings must at last be
lost along with the prophetical.

But those who devoted themselves to German literature and the _belles
lettres_ were more nearly concerned with the efforts of such men, who,
as JERUSALEM, ZOLLIKOFER, and SPALDING, tried, by means of a good and
pure style in their sermons and treatises, to gain even among persons
of a certain degree of sense and taste, applause and attachment for
religion, and for the moral philosophy which is so closely related to
it. A pleasing manner of writing began to be everywhere necessary; and
since such a manner must, above all, be comprehensible, so did writers
arise, on many sides, who undertook to write about their studies and
their professions clearly, perspicuously, and impressively, and as well
for the adepts as for the multitude.

After the example of Tissot, a foreigner, the physicians also now
began to labour zealously for the general cultivation HALLER, UNZER,
ZIMMERMAN had a very great influence, and whatever may be said against
them in detail, especially the last, they produced a very great effect
in their time. And mention should be made of this in history, but
particularly in biography: for a man remains of consequence, not so far
as he leaves something behind him, but so far as he acts and enjoys,
and rouses others to action and enjoyment.

The jurists, accustomed from their youth upwards to an abstruse style,
which, in all legal papers, from the petty court of the Immediate
Knight up to the Imperial Diet at Ratisbon, was still maintained in
all its quaintness, could not easily elevate themselves to a certain
freedom, the less so as the subjects of which they had to treat were
most intimately connected with the external form, and consequently also
with the style. Yet the younger VON MOSER had already shown himself
an independent and original writer, and PUTTER, by the clearness of
his delivery, had also brought clearness into his subject, and the
style in which he was to treat it. All that proceeded from his school
was distinguished by this. And even the philosophers, in order to
be popular, now found themselves compelled to write clearly and
intelligibly. MENDELSOHN and GARVE appeared, and excited universal
interest and admiration.

With the cultivation of the German language and style in every
department, the capacity for forming a judgment also increased, and we
admire the reviews then published of works upon religious and moral,
as well as medical subjects; while, on the contrary, we remark that
the judgments of poems, and of whatever else may relate to the _belles
lettres_, will be found, if not pitiful, at least very feeble. This
holds good of the _Literary Epistles_ (_Literaturbriefen_), and of the
_Universal German Library_, as well as of the _Library of the Belles
Lettres_, notable instances of which could easily be produced.

[Side-note: The "Image-Hunt."]

No matter in how motley a manner all this might be confused, still
for every one who contemplated producing anything from himself, who
would not merely take the words and phrases out of the mouths of his
predecessors, there was nothing further left but, early and late, to
look about him for some subject-matter which he might determine to use.
Here, too, we were much led astray. People were constantly repeating a
saying of KLEIST, which we had to hear often enough. He had sportively,
ingeniously, and truly replied to those who took him to task on account
of his frequent lonely walks: "that he was not idle at such times,--he
was going to the image hunt." This simile was very suitable for a
nobleman and soldier, who by it placed himself in contrast with the
men of his rank, who did not neglect going out, with their guns on
their shoulders, hare-hunting and patridge-shooting, as often as an
opportunity presented itself. Hence we find in Kleist's poems many
such individual images, happily seized, although not always happily
elaborated, which in a kindly manner remind us of nature. But now they
also recommended us, quite seriously, to go out on the image-hunt,
which did not at last leave us wholly without fruit, although Apel's
Garden, the kitchen-gardens, the Rosenthal, Golis, Raschwitz and
Konnewitz, would be the oddest ground to beat up poetical game in. And
yet I was often induced by that motive to contrive that my walk should
be solitary, and, because many objects neither beautiful nor sublime
met the eye of the beholder, and in the truly splendid Rosenthal, the
gnats, in the best season of the year, allowed no tender thoughts to
arise, so,did I, by unwearied, persevering endeavour, become extremely
attentive to the small life of nature, (I would use this word after
the analogy of "still life,") and since the pretty events which one
perceives within this circle represent but little in themselves, so I
accustomed myself to see in them a significance, which inclined now
towards the symbolical, now towards the allegorical side, accordingly
as intuition, feeling, or reflection had the preponderance. I will
relate one incident, in place of many.

I was, after the fashion of humanity, in love with my name, and, as
young uneducated people commonly do, I wrote it down everywhere. Once
I had carved it very handsomely and accurately on the smooth bark of a
linden-tree of moderate age. The following autumn, when my affection
for Annette was in its fullest bloom, I took the trouble to cut hers
above it. Towards the end of the winter, in the meantime, like a
capricious lover, I had wantonly sought many opportunities to teaze her
and cause her vexation; in the spring I chanced to visit the spot, and
the sap, which was rising strongly in the trees, had welled out through
the incisions which formed her name, and which were not yet crusted
over, and moistened with innocent vegetable tears the already hardened
traces of my own. Thus to see her here weeping over me,--me, who had so
often called up her tears by my ill-conduct, filled me with confusion.
At the remembrance of my injustice and of her love, even the tears came
into my eyes, I hastened to implore pardon of her, doubly and trebly,
and I turned this incident into an idyl[1], which I never could read to
myself without affection, or to others without emotion.

While I now, like a shepherd on the Pleisse, was absorbed childishly
enough in such tender subjects, and always chose only such as I
could easily recall into my bosom, provision from a greater and more
important side had long been made for German poets.

The first true and really vital material of the higher order came into
German poetry through Frederick the Great and the deeds of the Seven
Years' War. All national poetry must be shallow or become shallow which
does not rest on that which is most universally human,--upon the events
of nations and their shepherds, when both stand for one man. Kings are
to be represented in war and danger, where, by that very means, they
appear as the first, because they determine and share the fate of
the very least, and thus become much more interesting than the gods
themselves, who, when they have once determined the fates, withdraw
from all participation in them. In this view of the subject, every
nation, if it would be worth anything at all, must possess an epopee,
to which the precise form of the epic poem is not necessary.

[Side-note: Gleim-Ramler.]

The war-songs started by Gleim maintain so high a rank among German
poems, because they arose with and in the achievements which are their
subject, and because, moreover, their felicitous form, just as if a
fellow-combatant had produced them in the loftiest moments, makes us
feel the most complete effectiveness.

Ramler sings the deeds of his king in a different and most noble
manner. All his poems are full of matter, and occupy us with great,
heart-elevating objects, and thus already maintain an indestructible

For the internal matter of the subject worked is the beginning and end
of art. It will not, indeed, be denied that genius, that thoroughly
cultivated artistical talent, can make everything out of everything by
its method of treatment, and can subdue the most refractory material.
But when closely examined, the result is rather a trick of art than a
work of art, which should rest upon a worthy object, that the treatment
of it by skill, pains, and industry, may present to us the dignity of
the subject-matter only the more happily and splendidly.

The Prussians, and with them Protestant Germany, acquired thus for
their literature a treasure which the opposite party lacked, and
the want of which they have been able to supply by no subsequent
endeavours. Upon the great idea which the Prussian writers could
well entertain of their king, they first established themselves, and
the more zealously as he, in whose name they did it all, wished once
for all to know nothing about them. Already before this, through the
French colony, afterwards through the king's predilection for the
literature of that nation, and for their financial institutions, had
a mass of French civilization come into Prussia, which was highly
advantageous to the Germans, since by it they were challenged to
contradiction and resistance; thus the very aversion of Frederick
from German was a fortunate thing for the formation of its literary
character. They did everything to attract the king's attention, not
indeed to be honoured, but only noticed by him; yet they did it in
German fashion, from an internal conviction; they did what they held
to be right, and desired and wished that the king should recognize
and prize this German uprightness. That did not and could not happen;
for how can it be required of a king, who wishes to live and enjoy
himself intellectually, that he shall lose his years in order to see
what he thinks barbarous developed and rendered palatable too late? In
matters of trade and manufacture, he might indeed force upon himself,
but especially upon his people, very moderate substitutes instead of
excellent foreign wares; but here everything comes to perfection more
rapidly, and it needs not a man's life-time to bring such things to

But I must here, first of all, make honourable mention of one work, the
most genuine production of the Seven Years' War, and of perfect North
German nationality; it is the first theatrical production caught from
the important events of life, one of specific temporary value, and one
which therefore produced an incalculable effect,--_Minna von Barnhelm._
Lessing, who, in opposition to Klopstock and Gleim, was fond of casting
off his personal dignity, because he was confident that he could at any
moment seize it and take it up again, delighted in a dissipated life
in taverns and the world, as he always needed a strong counterpoise
to his powerfully labouring interior; and for this reason also he had
joined the suite of General Tauentzien. One easily discovers how the
above-mentioned piece was generated betwixt war and peace, hatred and
affection. It was this production which happily opened the view into a
higher, more significant world, from the literary and citizen world in
which poetic art had hitherto moved.

The intense hatred in which the Prussians and Saxons stood towards
each other during this war, could not be removed by its termination.
The Saxon now first felt, with true bitterness, the wounds which the
upstart Prussian had inflicted upon him. Political peace could not
immediately re-establish a peace between their dispositions. But this
was to be brought about symbolically by the above-mentioned drama.
The grace and amiability of the Saxon ladies conquer the worth, the
dignity, and the stubbornness of the Prussians, and, in the principal
as well as in the subordinate characters, a happy union of bizarre and
contradictory elements is artistically represented.

If I have put my reader in some perplexity by these cursory and
desultory remarks on German literature, I have succeeded in giving
them a conception of that chaotic condition in which my poor brain
found itself, when, in the conflict of two epochs so important for the
literary fatherland, so much that was new crowded in upon me before
I could come to terms with the old, so much that was old yet made me
feel its right over me, when I believed I had already cause to venture
on renouncing it altogether. I will at present try to impart, as
well as possible, the way I entered on to extricate myself from this
difficulty, if only step by step.

[Side-note: Goethe's Peculiar Tendency.]

The period of prolixity into which my youth had fallen, I had
laboured through with genuine industry, in company with so many
worthy men. The numerous quarto volumes of manuscript which I left
behind with my father might serve for sufficient witnesses of this;
and what a mass of essays, rough draughts, and half-executed designs,
had, more from despondency than conviction, gone up in smoke! Now,
through conversation, through instruction in general, through so
many conflicting opinions, but especially through my fellow-boarder
Hofrath Pfeil, I learned to value more and more the importance of
the subject-matter, and the conciseness of the treatment; without,
however, being able to make it clear to myself where the former was
to be sought, or how the latter was to be attained. For, what with
the great narrowness of my situation,--what with the indifference of
my companions, the reserve of the professors, the exclusiveness of
the educated inhabitants, and what with the perfect insignificance of
the natural objects, I was compelled to seek for everything within
myself. If I now desired a true basis in feeling or reflection for my
poems, I was forced to grasp into my own bosom; if I required for my
poetic representation an immediate intuition of an object or an event,
I could not step outside the circle which was fitted to teach me and
inspire me with an interest. In this view I wrote at first certain
little poems, in the form of songs or in a freer measure; they are
founded on reflection, treat of the past, and for the most part take an
epigrammatic turn.

And thus began that tendency from which I could not deviate my whole
life through; namely, the tendency to turn into an image, into a poem,
everything that delighted or troubled me, or otherwise occupied me, and
to come to some certain understanding with myself upon it, that I might
both rectify my conceptions of external things, and set my mind at rest
about them. The faculty of doing this was necessary to no one more
than to me, for my natural disposition whirled me constantly from one
extreme to the other. All, therefore, that has been confessed by me,
consists of fragments of a great confession, and this little book is an
attempt which I have ventured on to render it complete.

My early affection for Gretchen I had now transferred to one Annette
(_Aennchen_), of whom I can say nothing more than that she was young,
handsome, sprightly, loving, and so agreeable that she well deserved
to be set up for a time in the shrine of the heart as a little saint,
that she might receive all that reverence which it often causes more
pleasure to bestow than to receive. I saw her daily without hindrance;
she helped to prepare the meals which I enjoyed, she brought, in the
evening at least, the wine which I drank, and indeed our select club
of noon-day boarders was a warranty that the little house, which was
visited by few guests except during the fair, well merited its good
reputation. Opportunity and inclination were found for various kinds
of amusement. But as she neither could nor dared go much out of the
house, the pastime was somewhat limited. We sang the songs of Zachariä,
played the _Duke Michael_ of Krüger, in which a knotted handkerchief
had to take the place of the nightingale; and so, for a while, it went
on quite tolerably. But since such connexions, the more innocent they
are, afford the less variety in the long run,--so was I seized with
that wicked distemper which seduces us to derive amusement from the
torment of a beloved one, and to domineer over a girl's devotedness
with wanton and tyrannical caprice. My ill-humour at the failure of my
poetical attempts, at the apparent impossibility of coming to a clear
understanding about them, and at everything else that might pinch me
here and there, I thought I might vent on her, because she truly loved
me with all her heart, and did whatever she could to please me. By
unfounded and absurd fits of jealousy, I destroyed our most delightful
days both for myself and her. She endured it for a time with incredible
patience, which I was cruel enough to try to the uttermost. But to
my shame and despair I was at last forced to remark that her heart
was alienated from me, and that I might now have good ground for the
madness in which I had indulged without necessity and without cause.
There were also terrible scenes between us, in which I gained nothing;
and I then first felt that I had truly loved her, and could not bear
to lose her. My passion grew, and assumed all the forms of which it
is capable under such circumstances; nay, at last I even took up the
_rôle_ which the girl had hitherto played. I sought everything possible
in order to be agreeable to her, even to procure her pleasure by means
of others; for I could not renounce the hope of winning her again. But
it was too late! I had lost her really, and the frenzy with which I
revenged my fault upon myself, by assaulting in various frantic ways
my physical nature, in order to inflict some hurt on my moral nature,
contributed very much to the bodily maladies under which I lost some
of the best years of my life; indeed I should perchance have been
completely ruined by this loss, had not my poetic talent here shown
itself particularly helpful with its healing power.

[Side-note: Die Laune Des Verliebten.]

Already, at many intervals before, I had clearly enough perceived
my ill-conduct. I really pitied the poor child, when I saw her so
thoroughly wounded by me, without necessity. I pictured to myself so
often and so circumstantially, her condition and my own, and, as a
contrast, the contented state of another couple in our company, that
at last I could not forbear treating this situation dramatically, as a
painful and instructive penance. Hence arose the oldest of my extant
dramatic labours, the little piece entitled, _Die Laune des Verliebten_
(_The Lover's Caprice_); in the simple nature of which one may at the
same time perceive the impetus of a boiling passion.

But before this, a deep, significant, impulsive world had already
interested me. Through my adventure with Gretchen and its consequences,
I had early looked into the strange labyrinths by which civil society
is undermined. Religion, morals, law, rank, connexions, custom, all
rule only the surface of city existence. The streets, bordered by
splendid houses, are kept neat, and every one behaves himself there
properly enough; but indoors, it often seems only so much the more
disordered; and a smooth exterior, like a thin coat of mortar, plasters
over many a rotten wall that tumbles together overnight, and produces
an effect the more frightful, as it comes into the midst of a condition
of repose. How many families, far and near, had I not already seen,
either overwhelmed in ruin or kept miserably hanging on the brink of
it, by means of bankruptcies, divorces, seduced daughters, murders,
house-robberies, poisonings; and young as I was, I had often, in such
cases, lent a hand for help and preservation. For as my frankness
awakened confidence, as my secresy was proved, as my activity feared
no sacrifice, and loved best to exert itself in the most dangerous
affairs, I had often enough found opportunity to mediate, to hush up,
to divert the lightning-flash, with every other assistance of the
kind; in the course of which, as well in my own person as through
others, I could not fail to come to the knowledge of many afflicting
and humiliating facts. To relieve myself I designed several plays,
and wrote the arguments[2] of most of them. But since the intrigues
were always obliged to be painful, and almost all these pieces
threatened a tragical conclusion, I let them drop one after another.
_Die Mitschuldigen_ (_The Fellow-sinners_) is the only one that was
finished, the cheerful and burlesque tone of which upon the gloomy
family-ground appears as if accompanied by somewhat of apprehension, so
that on the whole it is painful in representation, although it pleases
in detached passages. The illegal deeds, harshly expressed, wound
the æsthetic and moral feeling, and the piece could therefore find
no favour on the German stage, although the imitations of it, which
steered clear of those rocks, were received with applause.

Both the above-mentioned pieces were however written from a more
elevated point of view, without my having been aware of it. They
direct us to a considerate forbearance in casting moral imputations,
and in somewhat harsh and coarse touches sportively express that most
Christian maxim: _Let him who is without sin among you, cast the first

[Side-note: Youthful Pranks.]

Through this earnestness, which cast a gloom over my first pieces,
I committed the fault of neglecting very favourable materials which
lay quite decidedly in my natural disposition. In the midst of these
serious, and for a young man, fearful experiences, was developed in me
a reckless humour, which feels itself superior to the moment, and not
only fears no danger, but rather wantonly courts it. The ground of this
lay in the exuberance of spirits in which the vigorous time of life so
much delights, and which, if it manifests itself in a frolicsome way,
causes much pleasure, both at the moment and in remembrance. These
things are so usual that in the vocabulary of our young university
friends they are called _Suites_, and on account of the close
similarity of signification, to say "_play suites_," means just the
same as to "play pranks."[3]

Such humorous acts of daring, brought on the theatre with wit and
sense, are of the greatest effect. They are distinguished from
intrigue, inasmuch as they are momentary, and that their aim, whenever
they are to have one, must not be remote. Beaumarchais has seized
their full value, and the effects of his _Figaro_ spring pre-eminently
from this. If now such good-humoured roguish and half-knavish pranks
are practised with personal risk for noble ends, the situations which
arise from them are æsthetically and morally considered of the greatest
value for the theatre; as for instance the opera of the _Water-Carrier_
treats perhaps the happiest subject which we have ever yet seen upon
the stage.

To enliven the endless tedium of daily life, I played off numberless
tricks of the sort, partly without any aim at all, partly in the
service of my friends whom I liked to please. For myself, I could not
say that I had once acted in this designedly, nor did I ever happen
to consider a feat of the kind as a subject for art. Had I, however,
seized upon and elaborated such materials, which were so close at hand,
my earliest labours would have been more cheerful and available. Some
incidents of this kind occur indeed later, but isolated and without
design. For since the heart always lies nearer to us than the head,
and gives us trouble when the latter knows well how to help itself,
so the affairs of the heart had always appeared to me as the most
important. I was never weary of reflecting upon the transient nature of
attachments, the mutability of human character, moral sensuality, and
all the heights and depths, the combination of which in our nature may
be considered as the riddle of human life. Here, too, I sought to get
rid of that which troubled me, in a song, an epigram, in some kind of
rhyme, which, since they referred to the most private feelings and the
most peculiar circumstances, could scarcely interest any one but myself.

In the meanwhile, my external position had very much changed after
the lapse of a short time. Madame Böhme, after a long and melancholy
illness, had at last died; she had latterly ceased to admit me to her
presence. Her husband could not be particularly satisfied with me;
I seemed to him not sufficiently industrious, and too frivolous. He
especially took it very ill of me, when it was told him that, at the
lectures on German Public Law, instead of taking proper notes, I had
been drawing on the margin of my note-book the personages presented
to our notice in them, such as the President of the Chamber, the
Moderators and Assessors, in strange wigs; and by this drollery had
disturbed my attentive neighbours and set them laughing. After the
loss of his wife he lived still more retired than before, and at last
I shunned him in order to avoid his reproaches. But it was peculiarly
unfortunate that Gellert would not use the power which he might have
exercised over us. Indeed he had not time to play the father-confessor,
and to inquire after the character and faults of everybody; he
therefore took the matter very much in the lump, and thought to curb us
by means of the church forms. For this reason, commonly, when he once
admitted us to his presence, he used to lower his little head, and,
in his weeping, winning voice, to ask us whether we went regularly to
church, who was our confessor, and whether we took the holy communion?
If now we came off badly at this examination we were dismissed with
lamentations; we were more vexed than edified, yet could not help
loving the man heartily.

[Side-note: Sacraments of the Church.]

On this occasion, I cannot forbear recalling somewhat of my earlier
youth, in order to make it obvious that the great affairs of the
ecclesiastical religion must be carried on with order and coherence,
if they are to prove as fruitful as is expected. The Protestant
service has too little fulness and consistency to be able to hold the
congregation together; hence, it easily happens that members secede
from it, and either form little congregations of their own, or, without
ecclesiastical connexion, quietly carry on their citizen-life side
by side. Thus for a considerable time complaints were made that the
church-goers were diminishing from year to year, and, just in the same
ratio, the persons who partook of the Lord's Supper. With respect to
both, but especially the latter, the cause lies close at hand; but who
dares to speak it out? We will make the attempt.

In moral and religious, as well as in physical and civil matters, man
does not like to do anything on the spur of the moment; he needs a
sequence from which results habit; what he is to love and to perform,
he cannot represent to himself as single or isolated, and if he is to
repeat anything willingly, it must not have become strange to him.
If the Protestant worship lacks fulness in general, so let it be
investigated in detail, and it will be found that the Protestant has
too few sacraments, nay, indeed he has only one in which he is himself
an actor,--the Lord's Supper: for baptism he sees only when it is
performed on others, and is not greatly edified by it. The sacraments
are the highest part of religion, the symbols to our senses of an
extraordinary divine favour and grace. In the Lord's Supper earthly
lips are to receive a divine Being embodied, and partake of an heavenly
under the form of an earthly nourishment. This sense is just the same
in all Christian churches; whether the Sacrament is taken with more
or less submission to the mystery, with more or less accommodation as
to that which is intelligible; it always remains a great holy thing,
which in reality takes the place of the possible or the impossible,
the place of that which man can neither attain nor do without. But
such a sacrament should not stand alone; no Christian can partake
of it with the true joy for which it is given, if the symbolical or
sacramental sense is not fostered within him. He must be accustomed
to regard the inner religion of the heart and that of the external
church as perfectly one, as the great universal sacrament, which again
divides itself into so many others, and communicates to these parts its
holiness, indestructibleness, and eternity.

Here a youthful pair give their hands to one another, not for a passing
salutation or for the dance; the priest pronounces his blessing upon
them, and the bond is indissoluble. It is not long before this wedded
pair bring a likeness to the threshold of the altar; it is purified
with holy water, and so incorporated into the church, that it cannot
forfeit this benefit but through the most monstrous apostacy. The
child in the course of life practises himself in earthly things of his
own accord, in heavenly things he must be instructed. Does it prove
on examination that this has been fully done, he is now received into
the bosom of the church as an actual citizen, as a true and voluntary
professor, not without outward tokens of the weightiness of this act.
Now is he first decidedly a Christian, now for the first time he knows
his advantages, and also his duties. But, in the meanwhile, much that
is strange has happened to him as a man; through instruction and
affliction he has come to know how critical appears the state of his
inner self, and there will constantly be a question of doctrines and of
transgressions; but punishment shall no longer take place. For here,
in the infinite confusion in which he must entangle himself, amid the
conflict of natural and religious claims, an admirable expedient is
given him, in confiding his deeds and misdeeds, his infirmities and
doubts, to a worthy man, appointed expressly for that purpose, who
knows how to calm, to warn, to strengthen him, to chasten him likewise
by symbolical punishments, and at last by a complete washing away of
his guilt, to render him happy and to give him back, pure and cleansed,
the tablet of his manhood. Thus prepared, and purely calmed to rest by
several sacramental acts, which, on closer examination, branch forth
again into minuter sacramental traits, he kneels down to receive the
host; and that the mystery of this high act may be still enhanced,
he sees the chalice only in the distance; it is no common eating and
drinking that satisfies, it is a heavenly feast, which makes him thirst
after heavenly drink.

Yet let not the youth believe that this is all he has to do; let not
even the man believe it. In earthly relations we are at last accustomed
to depend on ourselves, and, even there, knowledge, understanding,
and character, will not always suffice; in heavenly things, on
the contrary, we have never finished learning. The higher feeling
within us, which often finds itself not even truly at home, is,
besides, oppressed by so much from without, that our own power hardly
administers all that is necessary for counsel, consolation, and help.
But, to this end, that remedy is instituted for our whole life, and an
intelligent, pious man is continually waiting to show the right way to
the wanderers, and to relieve the distressed.

[Side-note: Catholic Sacraments.]

And what has been so well tried through the whole life, is now to
show forth all its healing power with tenfold activity at the gate of
Death. According to a trustful custom, inculcated from youth upwards,
the dying man receives with fervour those symbolical, significant
assurances, and there, where every earthly warranty fails, he is
assured, by a heavenly one, of a blessed existence for all eternity. He
feels himself perfectly convinced that neither a hostile element nor a
malignant spirit can hinder him from clothing himself with a glorified
body, so that, in immediate relation with the Godhead, he may partake
of the boundless happiness which flows forth from Him.

Then in conclusion, that the whole may be made holy, the feet also are
anointed and blessed. They are to feel, even in the event of possible
recovery, a repugnance to touching this earthly, hard, impenetrable
soil. A wonderful nimbleness is to be imparted to them, by which they
spurn from under them the clod of earth which hitherto attracted them.
And so, through a brilliant circle of equally holy acts, the beauty of
which we have only briefly hinted at, the cradle and the grave, however
far asunder they may chance to be, are bound in one continuous circle.

But all these spiritual wonders spring not, like other fruits, from
the natural soil, where they can neither be sown, nor planted, nor
cherished. We must supplicate for them from another region, a thing
which cannot be done by all persons, nor at all times. Here we meet
the highest of these symbols, derived from pious tradition. We are
told that one man can be more favoured, blessed, and sanctified from
above than another. But that this may not appear as a natural gift,
this great boon, bound up with a heavy duty, must be communicated to
others by one authorized person to another; and the greatest good that
a man can attain, without his having to obtain it by his own wrestling
or grasping, must be preserved and perpetuated on earth by spiritual
heirship. In the very ordination of the priest, is comprehended all
that is necessary for the effectual solemnizing of those holy acts, by
which the multitude receive grace, without any other activity being
needful on their part, than that of faith and implicit confidence.
And thus the priest steps forth in the line of his predecessors and
successors, in the circle of those anointed with him, representing the
highest source of blessings, so much the more gloriously, as it is not
he, the priest, whom we reverence, but his office; it is not his nod
to which we bow the knee, but the blessing which he imparts, and which
seems the more holy, and to come the more immediately from heaven,
because the earthly instrument cannot at all weaken or invalidate it by
its own sinful, nay, wicked nature.

How is this truly spiritual connexion shattered to pieces in
Protestantism, by part of the above-mentioned symbols being declared
apocryphal, and only a few canonical;--and how, by their indifference
to one of these, will they prepare us for the high dignity of the

In my time I had been confided to the religious instruction of a good
old infirm clergyman, who had been confessor of the family for many
years. The _Catechism_, a _Paraphrase_ of it, and the _Scheme of
Salvation_, I had at my fingers' ends, I lacked not one of the strongly
proving biblical texts, but from all this I reaped no fruit; for as
they assured me that the honest old man arranged his chief examination
according to an old set form, I lost all pleasure and inclination for
the business, spent the last week in all sorts of diversions, laid in
my hat the loose leaves borrowed from an older friend, who had gotten
them from the clergyman, and unfeelingly and senselessly read aloud all
that I should have known how to utter with feeling and conviction.

[Side-note: Religious Apprehensions.]

But I found my good-will and my aspirations in this important matter
still more paralyzed by a dry, spiritless routine, when I was now
to approach the confessional. I was indeed conscious to myself of
many failings, but of no great faults; and that very consciousness
diminished them, since it directed me to the moral strength which
lay within me, and which, with resolution and perseverance, was at
last to become master over the old Adam. We were taught that we were
much better than the catholics for this very reason: that we were not
obliged to acknowledge anything in particular in the confessional,
nay, that this would not be at all proper, even if we wished to do it.
This last did not seem right to me; for I had the strangest religious
doubts, which I would readily have had cleared up on such an occasion.
Now as this was not to be done, I composed a confession for myself,
which, while it well expressed my state of mind, was to confess to an
intelligent man, in general terms, that which I was forbidden to tell
him in detail. But when I entered the old choir of the Barefoot Friars,
when I approached the strange latticed closets in which the reverend
gentlemen used to be found for that purpose, when the sexton opened the
door for me, when I now saw myself shut up in the narrow place face
to face with my spiritual grandsire, and he bade me welcome with his
weak nasal voice, all the light of my mind and heart was extinguished
at once, the well-conned confession-speech would not cross my lips;
I opened, in my embarrassment, the book which I had in hand, and
read from it the first short form I saw, which was so general, that
anybody might have spoken it with quite a safe conscience. I received
absolution, and withdrew neither warm nor cold; went the next day with
my parents to the Table of the Lord, and, for a few days, behaved
myself as was becoming after so holy an act.

In the sequel, however, there came over me that evil, which from the
fact of our religion being complicated by various dogmas, and founded
on texts of scripture which admit of several interpretations, attacks
scrupulous men in such a manner, that it brings on a hypochondriacal
condition, and raises this to its highest point, to fixed ideas. I have
known several men who, though their manner of thinking and living was
perfectly rational, could not free themselves from thinking about the
sin against the Holy Ghost, and from the fear that they had committed
it. A similar trouble threatened me on the subject of the communion,
for the text that one who unworthily partakes of the Sacrament _eateth
and drinketh damnation to himself_, had, very early, already made a
monstrous impression upon me. Every fearful thing that I had read in
the histories of the middle ages, of the judgments of God, of those
most strange ordeals, by red-hot iron, flaming fire, swelling water,
and even what the Bible tells us of the draught which agrees well with
the innocent, but puffs up and bursts the guilty,--all this pictured
itself to my imagination; and formed itself into the most frightful
combinations, since false vows, hypocrisy, perjury, blasphemy, all
seemed to weigh down the unworthy person at this most holy act, which
was so much the more horrible, as no one could dare to pronounce
himself worthy, and the forgiveness of sins, by which everything was to
be at last done away, was found limited by so many conditions, that one
could not with certainty dare appropriate it to oneself.

This gloomy scruple troubled me to such a degree, and the expedient
which they would represent to me as sufficient, seemed so bald and
feeble, that it gave the bugbear only a more fearful aspect, and, as
soon as I had reached Leipzig, I tried to free myself altogether from
my connexion with the church. How oppressive then must have been to me
the exhortations of Gellert, whom, considering the generally laconic
style with which he was obliged to repel our obtrusiveness, I was
unwilling to trouble with such singular questions, and the less so as
in my more cheerful hours I was myself ashamed of them; and at last
left completely behind me this strange anguish of conscience, together
with church and altar.

[Side-note: Decline of Gellert's Authority.]

Gellert, in accordance with his pious feelings, had composed for
himself a course of ethics, which from time to time he publicly read,
and thus in an honourable manner acquitted himself of his duty to the
public. Gellert's writings had already, for a long time, been the
foundation of German moral culture, and every one anxiously wished to
see that work printed; but as this was not to be done till after the
good man's death, people thought themselves very fortunate to hear him
deliver it himself in his lifetime. The philosophical auditorium[4]
was at such times crowded, and the beautiful soul, the pure will,
and the interest of the noble man in our welfare, his exhortations,
warnings, and entreaties, uttered in a somewhat hollow and sorrowful
tone, made indeed an impression for the moment, but this did not last
long, the less so, as there were many scoffers, who contrived to make
us suspicious of this tender, and, as they thought, enervating manner.
I remember a Frenchman travelling through the town, who inquired after
the maxims and opinions of the man who attracted such an immense
concourse. When we had given him the necessary information, he shook
his head and said, smiling, _Laissez le faire, il nous forme des dupes._

And thus also did good society, which cannot easily endure anything
estimable in its neighbourhood, know how to spoil on occasion the moral
influence which Gellert might have had upon us. Now it was taken ill of
him that he instructed the Danes of distinction and wealth, who were
particularly recommended to him, better than the other students, and
had a marked solicitude for them; now he was charged with selfishness
and nepotism for causing a table d'hôte to be established for these
young men at his brother's house. This brother, a tall, good-looking,
blunt, unceremonious and somewhat rude man, had, it was said, been
a fencing-master, and notwithstanding the too great lenity of his
brother, the noble boarders were often treated harshly and roughly;
hence the people thought they must again take the part of these young
folks, and pulled about the good reputation of the excellent Gellert
to such a degree, that, in order not to be mistaken about him, we
became indifferent towards him, and visited him no more; yet we always
saluted him in our best manner when he came riding along on his tame
grey horse. This horse the Elector had sent him, to oblige him to take
an exercise so necessary for his health;--a distinction which was not
easily forgiven him.

And thus, by degrees, the epoch approached when all authority was to
vanish from before me, and I was to become suspicious, nay, to despair,
even of the greatest and best individuals whom I had known or imagined.

Frederick the Second still stood at the head of all the distinguished
men of the century, in my thoughts, and it must therefore have appeared
very surprising to me, that I could praise him as little before the
inhabitants of Leipzig as formerly in my grandfather's house. They had
felt the hand of war heavily, it is true, and therefore they were not
to blame for not thinking the best of him who had begun and continued
it. They therefore were willing to let him pass, as a distinguished,
but by no means as a great man. "There was no art," they said, "in
performing something with great means; and if one spares neither
lands, nor money, nor blood, one may well accomplish one's purpose
at last. Frederick had shown himself great in none of his plans, and
in nothing that he had, properly speaking, undertaken. So long as it
depended on himself, he had only gone on making blunders, and what was
extraordinary in him, had only come to light when he was compelled to
make these blunders good again. It was purely from this that he had
obtained his great reputation, since every man wishes for himself that
same talent of making good, in a clever way, the blunders which he
frequently commits. If one goes through the Seven Years' War, step by
step, it will be found that the king quite uselessly sacrificed his
fine army, and that it was his own fault that this ruinous feud had
been protracted to so great a length. A truly great man and general
would have got the better of his enemies much sooner." In support of
these opinions they could cite infinite details, which I did not know
how to deny; and I felt the unbounded reverence which I had devoted to
this remarkable prince, from my youth upwards, gradually cooling away.

[Side-note: Behrisch.]

As the inhabitants of Leipzig had now destroyed for me the pleasant
feeling of revering a great man, so did a new friend whom I gained at
the time very much diminish the respect which I entertained for my
present fellow-citizens. This friend was one of the strangest fellows
in the world. He was named Behrisch, and was tutor to the young Count
Lindenau. Even his exterior was singular enough. Lean and well-built,
far advanced in the thirties, a very large nose, and altogether marked
features; he wore from morning till night a scratch which might well
have been called a peruke, but dressed himself very neatly, and never
went out but with his sword by his side, and his hat under his arm. He
was one of those men who have quite a peculiar gift of killing time,
or rather, who know how to make something out of nothing, in order to
pass time away. Everything that he did must be done with slowness,
and a certain deportment which might have been called affected, if
Behrisch had not even by nature had something affected in his manner.
He resembled an old Frenchman, and also spoke and wrote French very
well and easily. His greatest delight was to busy himself seriously
about drolleries, and to follow up without end any silly notion. Thus
he was constantly dressed in grey, and as the different parts of his
attire were of different stuffs, and also of different shades, he could
reflect for whole days as to how he should procure one grey more for
his body, and was happy when he had succeeded in this, and could put
to shame us who had doubted it, or had pronounced it impossible. He
then gave us long severe lectures, about our lack of inventive power,
and our want of faith in his talents.

For the rest, he had studied well, was particularly versed in the
modern languages and their literature, and wrote an excellent hand.
He was very well disposed to me, and I, having been always accustomed
and inclined to the society of older persons, soon attached myself to
him. My intercourse, too, served him for a special amusement, since he
took pleasure in taming my restlessness and impatience, with which, on
the other hand, I gave him enough to do. In the art of poetry he had
what is called taste, a certain general opinion about the good and bad,
the mediocre and tolerable; but his judgment was rather censorious,
and he destroyed even the little faith in contemporary writers which I
cherished within me, by unfeeling remarks, which he knew how to advance
with wit and humour, about the writings and poems of this man and that.
He received my own affairs with indulgence, and let me have my way, but
only on the condition that I should have nothing printed. He promised
me, on the other hand, that he himself would copy those pieces which he
thought good, and would present me with them in a handsome volume. This
undertaking now afforded an opportunity for the greatest possible waste
of time. For before he could find the right paper, before he could
make up his mind as to the size, before he had settled the breadth of
the margin, and the form of handwriting, before the crow-quills were
provided and cut into pens, and Indian ink was rubbed, whole weeks
passed, without the least bit having been done. With just as much ado
he always set about his writing, and really, by degrees, put together
a most charming manuscript. The title of the poems was in German text,
the verses themselves in a perpendicular Saxon hand, and at the end
of every poem was an analogous vignette, which he had either selected
somewhere or other, or had invented himself, and in which he contrived
to imitate very neatly the hatching of the wood-cuts and tail-pieces
which are used for such purposes. To show me these things as he went
on, to celebrate beforehand in a comico-pathetical manner my good
fortune in seeing myself immortalized in such exquisite handwriting,
and that in a style which no printing-press could attain, gave another
occasion for passing the most agreeable hours. In the meantime, his
intercourse was always secretly instructive, by reason of his liberal
acquirements, and, as he knew how to subdue my restless impetuous
disposition, was also quite wholesome for me in a moral sense. He had,
too, quite a peculiar abhorrence of roughness, and his jests were
always quaint, without ever falling into the coarse or the trivial.
He indulged himself in a distorted aversion from his countrymen, and
described with ludicrous touches even what they were able to undertake.
He was particularly inexhaustible in a comical representation of
individual persons, as he found something to find fault with in the
exterior of every one. Thus, when we lay together at the window, he
could occupy himself for hours criticising the passers-by, and when he
had censured them long enough, in showing exactly and circumstantially
how they ought to have dressed themselves, ought to have walked, and
ought to have behaved to look like orderly people. Such attempts, for
the most part, ended in something improper and absurd, so that we did
not so much laugh at how the man looked, but at how, perchance, he
might have looked, had he been mad enough to caricature himself. In
all such matters, Behrisch went quite unmercifully to work, without
being in the slightest degree malicious. On the other hand, we knew
how to teaze him, on our side, by assuring him that, to judge from his
exterior, he must be taken, if not for a French dancing-master, at
least for the academical teacher of the language. This reproval was
usually the signal for dissertations an hour long, in which he used to
set forth the difference, wide as the heavens, which there was between
him and an old Frenchman. At the same time he commonly imputed to us
all sorts of awkward attempts, that we might possibly have made for the
alteration and modification of his wardrobe.

The direction of my poetizing, which I only carried on the more
zealously as the transcript went on becoming more beautiful and more
careful, now inclined altogether to the natural and the true; and if
the subjects could not always be important, I nevertheless always
endeavoured to express them clearly and pointedly, the more so as
my friend often gave me to understand, what a great thing it was to
write down a verse on Dutch paper, with the crow-quill and Indian
ink; what time, talent, and exertion it required, which ought not to
be squandered on anything empty and superfluous. At the same time, he
commonly used to open a finished parcel and circumstantially to explain
what ought not to stand in this or that place, or congratulate us that
it actually did not stand there. He then spoke, with great contempt, of
the art of printing, mimicked the compositor, ridiculed his gestures
and his hurried picking out of letters here and there, and derived from
this manœuvre all the calamities of literature. On the other hand, he
extolled the grace and the noble posture of a writer, and immediately
sat down himself to exhibit it to us, while he rated us at the same
time for not demeaning ourselves at the writing-table precisely after
his example and model. He now returned to the contrast with the
compositor, turned a begun letter upside down, and showed how unseemly
it would be to write anything from the bottom to the top, or from the
right to the left, with other things of like kind with which whole
volumes might have been,filled.

With such harmless fooleries we lavished away our precious time, while
it could have occurred to none of us, that anything would chance to
proceed out of our circle, which would awaken a general sensation and
bring us into not the best repute.

[Side-note: Professor Clodius.]

Gellert may have taken little pleasure in his _Practicum_, and if,
perhaps, he took pleasure in giving some directions as to prose and
poetical style, he did it most privately only to a few, among whom we
could not number ourselves. Professor Clodius thought to fill the gap
which thus arose in the public instruction. He had gained some renown
in literature, criticism, and poetry, and as a young, lively, obliging
man, found many friends both in the university and in the city. Gellert
himself referred us to the lectures now commenced by him, and, as far
as the principal matter was concerned, we remarked little difference.
He, too, only criticised details, corrected likewise with red ink, and
one found oneself in company with mere blunders, without a prospect as
to where the right was to be sought. I had brought to him some of my
little labours, which he did not treat harshly. But just at this time
they wrote to me from home, that I must without fail furnish a poem for
my uncle's wedding. I felt myself far from that light and frivolous
period in which a similar thing would have given me pleasure, and since
I could get nothing out of the actual circumstance itself, I determined
to trick out my work in the best manner, with extraneous ornament.
I therefore convened all Olympus to consult about the marriage of a
Frankfort lawyer; and seriously enough, to be sure, as well became the
festival of such an honourable man. Venus and Themis had quarrelled for
his sake; but a roguish prank which Amor played the latter, gained the
suit for the former, and the gods decided in favour of the marriage.

My work by no means displeased me. I received from home a handsome
letter in its praise, took the trouble to have another fair copy, and
hoped to extort some applause from my professor also. But here I had
missed my aim. He took the matter severely, and as he did not notice
the tone of parody, which nevertheless lay in the notion, he declared
the great expenditure of divine means for such an insignificant human
end, in the highest degree reprehensible; inveighed against the use
and abuse of such mythological figures, as a false habit originating
in pedantic times; found the expression now too high, now too low, and
in divers particulars had indeed not spared the red ink, though he
asserted that he had yet done too little.

Such pieces were read out and criticised anonymously, it is true;
but we used to watch each other, and it remained no secret that this
unfortunate assembly of the gods was my work. Yet since his critique,
when I took his point of view, seemed to be perfectly just, and those
divinities more nearly inspected were in fact only hollow shadow-forms;
I cursed all Olympus, flung the whole mythic Pantheon away, and from
that time Amor and Luna have been the only divinities which at all
appear in my little poems.

[Side-note: Ridicule of Clodius.]

Among the persons whom Behrisch had chosen as the butts of his wit,
Clodius stood just at the head; nor was it hard to find a comical side
in him. As a little, rather stout, thick-set figure, he was violent
in his motions, somewhat impetuous in his utterances, and restless
in his demeanour. In all this he differed from his fellow-citizens,
who, nevertheless, willingly put up with him on account of his good
qualities and the fine promise which he gave.

He was usually commissioned with the poems which had become necessary
on festal occasions. In the so-called _Ode_, he followed the manner
used by Ramler, whom, however, it alone suited. But Clodius, as an
imitator, had especially marked the foreign words by means of which
the poems of Ramler come forth with a majestic pomp, which, because
it is conformable to the greatness of his subject and the rest of his
poetic treatment, produces a very good effect on the ear, feelings,
and imagination. In Clodius, on the contrary, these expressions had
a heterogeneous air, since his poetry was in other respects not
calculated to elevate the mind in any manner.

Now we had often been obliged to see such poems printed and highly
lauded in our presence, and we found it highly offensive, that he who
had sequestered the heathen gods from us, now wished to hammer together
another ladder to Parnassus out of Greek and Roman word-rungs. These
oft-recurring expressions stamped themselves firmly on our memory,
and in a merry hour, when we were eating some most excellent cakes in
the Kitchen-gardens (_Kohlgärten_), it all at once struck me to put
together these words of might and power, in a poem on the cake-baker
Hendel. No sooner thought than done! And let it stand here, too, as it
was written on the wall of the house with a lead-pencil.

    "O Hendel, dessen Ruhm vom _Süd_ zum _Norden_ reicht,
    Vernimm den _Päan_ der zu deinen Ohren steigt
    Du bäckst was _Gallien_ und _Britten_ emsig suchen,
    Mit _schöpfrischen Genie, originelle_ Kuchen.
    Des Kaffee's _Ocean_, der sich vor dir ergiesst,
    Ist süsser als der Saft der vom _Hymettus_ fliesst.
    Dein Haus ein _Monument_, wie wir den Künsten lohnen
    Umhangen mit _Trophän_, erzählt den _Nationen_:
    Auch ohne _Diadem_ fand Hendel hier sein Glück
    Und raubte dem _Cothurn_ gur manch Achtgroschenstück.
    Glänzt deine _Urn_ dereinst in majestäts'chen _Pompe_,
    Dann weint der _Patriot_ un deinem _Katacomhe._
    Doch leb! dein _Torus_ sey von edler Brut ein _Nest_,
    Steh'hoch wie der _Olymp_, wie der _Parnassus_ fest!
    Kein _Phalanx_ Griechenland mit Römischen _Ballisten_
    Vermög _Germanien_ und Hendel zu verwüsten.
    Dein _Wohl_ is unser _Stolz_, dein _Leiden_ unser _Schmerz
    Und_ Hendel's _Tempel ist der Musensöhne Herz._"[5]

This poem stood a long time among many others which disfigured the
walls of that room, without being noticed, and we, who had sufficiently
amused ourselves with it, forgot it altogether amongst other things. A
long time afterwards, Clodius came out with his _Medon_, whose wisdom,
magnanimity and virtue we found infinitely ridiculous, much as the
first representation of the piece was applauded. That evening, when we
met together in the wine-house, I made a prologue in doggerel verse,
in which Harlequin steps out with two great sacks, places them on each
side of the _proscenium_, and after various preliminary jokes, tells
the spectators in confidence, that in the two sacks moral æsthetic**
dust is to be found, which the actors will very frequently throw
into their eyes. One, to wit, was filled with good deeds, that cost
nothing, and the other with splendidly expressed opinions, that had
no meaning behind them. He reluctantly withdrew, and sometimes came
back, earnestly exhorted the spectators to attend to his warning and
shut their eyes, reminded them that he had always been their friend,
and meant well with them, with many more things of the kind. This
prologue was acted in the room, on the spot, by friend Horn, but the
jest remained quite among ourselves, not even a copy had been taken,
and the paper was soon lost. However, Horn, who had performed the
Harlequin very prettily, took it into his head to enlarge my poem to
Hendel by several verses, and then to make it refer to _Medon._ He
read it aloud to us, and we could not take any pleasure in it, for
we did not find the additions even ingenious, while the first poem,
being written for quite a different purpose, seemed to us disfigured.
Our friend, out of humour at our indifference, or rather censure, may
have shown it to others, who found it new and amusing. Copies were now
made of it, to which the reputation of Clodius's _Medon_ gave at once
a rapid publicity. Universal disapproval was the consequence, and the
originators (it was soon found out that the poem had proceeded from our
clique) were severely censured: for nothing of the sort had been seen
since Cronegk's and Rost's** attacks upon Gottsched. We had besides
already secluded ourselves, and now found ourselves quite in the case
of the owl with respect to the other birds. In Dresden, too, they did
not like the affair, and it had for us serious, if not unpleasant
consequences. For some time, already, Count Lindenau had not been quite
satisfied with his son's tutor. For, although the young man was by no
means neglected, and Behrisch kept himself either in the chamber of the
young Count, or at least close to it, when the instructors gave their
daily lessons, regularly frequented the lectures with him, never went
out in the day-time without him, and accompanied him in all his walks;
yet the rest of us were always to be found in Apel's house, and joined
them whenever they went on a pleasure ramble; this already excited some
attention. Behrisch, too, accustomed himself to our society, and at
last, towards nine o'clock in the evenings, generally transferred his
pupil into the hands of the _valet de chambre_, and went in quest of
us to the wine-house, whither, however, he never used to come but in
shoes and stockings, with his sword by his side, and commonly his hat
under his arm. The jokes and fooleries, which he generally started,
went on _ad infinitum._ Thus, for instance, one of our friends had a
habit of going away precisely at ten, because he had a connexion with a
pretty girl, with whom he could converse only at that hour. We did not
like to lose him; and one evening, when we sat very happily together,
Behrisch secretly determined that he would not let him off this time.
At the stroke of ten, the other arose and took leave. Behrisch called
after him and begged him to wait a moment, as he was just going with
him. He now began, in the most amusing manner, first to look after his
sword, which stood just before his eyes, and in buckling it on behaved
awkwardly, so that he could never accomplish it. He did this, too, so
naturally, that no one took offence at it. But when, to vary the theme,
he at last went further, so that the sword came now on the right side,
now between his legs, an universal laughter arose, in which the man in
a hurry, who was likewise a merry fellow, chimed in, and let Behrisch
have his own way till the happy hour was past, when, for the first
time, there followed general pleasure and agreeable conversation till
deep into the night.

[Side-note: Eccentricities of Behrisch.]

Unfortunately Behrisch, and we through him, had a certain other
propensity for some girls who were better than their reputation; by
which our own reputation could not be improved. We had often been seen
in their garden, and we directed our walks thither, even when the young
Count was with us. All this may have been treasured up, and at last
communicated to his father; enough, he sought, in a gentlemanly manner,
to get rid of the tutor, to whom the event proved fortunate. His good
exterior, his knowledge and talents, his integrity, which no one could
call in question, had won him the affection and esteem of distinguished
persons, on whose recommendation he was appointed tutor to the
hereditary prince of Dessau; and at the court of a prince, excellent in
every respect, found a solid happiness.

The loss of a friend like Behrisch was of the greatest consequence to
me. He had** spoiled, while he cultivated me, and his presence was
necessary, if the pains he had thought good to spend upon me were in
any degree to bring forth fruit for society. He knew how to engage
me in all kinds of pretty and agreeable things, in whatever was just
appropriate, and to bring out my social talents. But as I had gained
no self-dependence in such things, so when I was alone again, I
immediately relapsed into my confused and crabbed disposition, which
always increased, the more discontented I was with those about me,
since I fancied that they were not contented with me. With the most
arbitrary caprice, I took offence at what I might have reckoned as an
advantage to me; thus alienated many with whom I had hitherto stood
on a tolerable footing; and, on account of the many disagreeable
consequences which I had drawn on myself and others, whether by doing
or leaving undone, by doing too much or too little, was obliged to
hear the remark from my well-wishers, that I lacked experience. The
same thing was told me by every person of sound sense who saw my
productions, especially when these referred to the external world.
I observed this as well as I could, but found in it little that was
edifying, and was still forced to add enough of my own to make it only
tolerable. I had often pressed my friend Behrisch, too, that he would
make plain to me what experience might be? But, because he was full
of nonsense, he put me off with fair words from one day to another,
and at last, after great preparations, disclosed to me, that true
experience was properly when one experiences how an experienced man
must experience in experiencing his experience. Now when we scolded
him outrageously, and called him to account for this, he assured us
that a great mystery lay hidden behind these words, which we could not
comprehend until we had experienced ... and so on without end;--for
it cost him nothing to talk on in that way by the quarter of an hour
since the experience would always become more experienced and at last
come to true experience. When we were falling into despair at such
fooleries, he protested that he had learned this way of making himself
intelligible and impressive from the latest and greatest authors, who
had made us observe how one can rest a restful rest, and how silence,
in being silent, can constantly become more silent.

[Side-note: What is Experience?]

By chance an officer, who came among us on furlough, was praised in
good company as a remarkable sound-minded and experienced man, who
had fought through the Seven Years' War, and had gained universal
confidence. It was not difficult for me to approach him, and we often
went walking with each other. The idea of experience had almost become
fixed in my brain, and the craving to make it clear to me passionate.
Open-hearted as I was, I disclosed to him the uneasiness in which I
found myself. He smiled, and was kind enough to tell me, as an answer
to my question, something of his own life, and generally of the world
immediately about us; from which, indeed, little better was to be
gathered than that experience convinces us that our best thoughts,
wishes and designs are unattainable, and that he who fosters such
vagaries and advances them with eagerness, is especially held to be an
inexperienced man.

[Side-note: What is Experience?]

Yet, as he was a gallant, good fellow, he assured me that he had
himself not quite given up these vagaries, and felt himself tolerably
well off with the little faith, love, and hope which remained. He
then felt obliged to tell me a great deal about war, about the sort
of life in the field, about skirmishes and battles, especially so
far as he had taken part in them; when these vast events, by being
considered in relation to a single individual, gained a very marvellous
aspect. I then led him on to an open narration of the late situation
of the court, which seemed to me quite like a tale. I heard of the
bodily strength of Augustus the Second, of his many children and his
vast expenses, then of his successor's love of art and of making
collections, of Count Brühl and his boundless love of magnificence,
which in detail appeared almost absurd, of his numerous banquets and
gorgeous amusements, which were all cut off by Frederick's invasion of
Saxony. The royal castles now lay in ruins, Brühl's splendours were
annihilated, and, of the whole, a glorious land, much injured alone

When he saw me astonished at that mad enjoyment of fortune, and then
grieved by the calamity that followed, and informed me that one expects
from an experienced man exactly this, that he shall be astonished at
neither the one nor the other, nor take too lively an interest in them,
I felt a great desire still to remain awhile in the same inexperience
as hitherto; in which desire he strengthened me, and very urgently
entreated me, for the present at least, always to cling to agreeable
experiences, and to try to avoid those that were disagreeable as much
as possible, if they should intrude themselves upon me. But once, when
the discussion was again about experience in general, and I related to
him those ludicrous phrases of my friend Behrisch, he shook his head,
smiling, and said, "There, one sees how it is with words which are only
once uttered! These sound so comical, nay, so silly, that it would
seem almost impossible to put a rational meaning into them; and yet,
perhaps, the attempt might be made."

And when I pressed him, he replied in his intelligent, cheerful
manner, "If you will allow me, while commenting on and completing
your friend, to go on after his fashion, think he meant to say, that
experience is nothing else than that one experiences what one does not
wish to experience; which is what it amounts to for the most part, at
least in this world."

[1] "Die Laune des Verliebten," translated as _The Lover's Caprice_,
see p. 241

Footnote 2: "_Exposition_," in a dramatic sense, properly means a
statement of the events which take place before the action of the play

[3] The real meaning of the passage is that the idiom "Possen reissen,"
used also with the university word "Suite," so that one can say "Suiten

[4] The lecture-room. The word is also used in university language to
denote a professor's audience.

[5] The humour of the above consists, not in the thoughts, but in the
particular words employed. These have no remarkable effect in English,
as to us the words of Latin origin are often as familiar as those
which have Teutonic roots, and these form the chief peculiarity of the
style. We have therefore given the poem in the original language, with
the peculiar words (as indicated by Goethe) in italics, and subjoin a
literal translation. It will be observed that we have said that the
peculiarity consists _chiefly_, not _solely_, in the use of the foreign
words, for there are two or three instances of unquestionably German
words, which are italicised on account of their high-sounding pomp.

"Oh Hendel, whose fame extends from _south_ to _north_, hear the
_Pæan_ which ascends to thine ears. Thou bakest that which _Gauls_
and _Britons_ industriously seek, (thou bakest) with _creative genius
original_ cakes. The _ocean_ of coffee which pours itself out before
thee, is sweeter than the juice which flows from _Hymettus._ Thy house,
a _monument_, how we reward the arts, hung round with _trophies_, tells
the _nations_: 'Even without a _diadem_, Hendel formed his fortune
here, and robbed the _Cothurnus_ of many an eight-groschen-piece.'
When thine _urn_ shines hereafter in majestic _pomp_, then will the
_patriot_ weep at thy _catacomb._ But live! let thy bed (_torus_)
be the _nest_ of a noble brood, stand high as _Olympus_, and firm
as _Parnassus._ May no _phalanx_ of Greece with Roman _ballistæ_ be
able to destroy _Germania_ and Hendel. Thy _weal_ is our _pride_, thy
_suffering_ our _pain_, and Hendel's _temple_ is the _heart_ of the
_sons of the Muses._"--_Trans._


[Side-note: Oeser.]

Another man, although infinitely different from Behrisch in every
respect, might yet be compared with him in a certain sense; I mean
OESER, who was also one of those men who dream away their lives in
a comfortable state of being busy. His friends themselves secretly
acknowledged that, with very fine natural powers, he had not spent
his younger years in sufficient activity; for which reason, he never
went so far as to practise his art with perfect technicality. Yet
a certain diligence appeared to be reserved for his old age, and,
during the many years which I knew him, he never lacked invention or
laboriousness. From the very first moment he had much attracted me;
even his residence, strange and portentous, was highly charming to me.
In the old castle Pleissenburg, at the right-hand corner, one ascended
a repaired, cheerful, winding staircase. The saloons of the Academy
of Design, of which he was director, were found to the left, and were
light and roomy; but he himself could only be reached through a narrow,
dark passage, at the end of which one first sought the entrance into
his apartments, having just passed between the whole suite of them and
an extensive granary. The first apartment was adorned with pictures
from the later Italian school, by masters whose grace he used highly to
commend. As I, with some noblemen, had taken private lessons of him, we
were permitted to draw here, and we often penetrated into his adjoining
private cabinet, which contained at the same time his few books,
collections of art and natural curiosities, and whatever else might
have most interested him. Everything was arranged with taste, simply,
and in such a manner that the little space held a great deal. The
furniture, presses, and portfolios were elegant, without affectation
or superfluity. Thus also the first thing which he recommended to us,
and to which he always recurred, was simplicity in everything that art
and manual labour united are called upon to produce. As a sworn foe
of the scroll-and-shell style, and of the whole taste for quaintness,
he showed us in copper-plates and drawings old patterns of the sort,
contrasted with better decorations and simpler forms of furniture, as
well as with other appurtenances of a room; and, because everything
about him corresponded with these maxims, his words and instructions
made a good and lasting impression on us. Besides this, he had an
opportunity to let us see his opinions in practice, since he stood in
good consideration both with private and with official persons, and
was asked for advice when there were new buildings and alterations. He
seemed in general to be more fond of preparing anything on occasion,
for a certain end and use, than of undertaking and completing things
which exist for themselves and require a greater perfection; he
was therefore always ready and at hand when the publishers needed
larger and smaller copper-plates for any work; thus the vignettes
to Winckelmann's first writings were etched by him. But he often
made only very sketchy drawings, to which Geyser knew very well how
to adapt himself. His figures had throughout something general, not
to say ideal. His women were pleasing and agreeable, his children
_naïve_ enough; only he could not succeed with the men, who, in his
spirited but always cloudy and at the same time foreshortening manner,
had for the most part the look of _Lazzaroni._ Since he designed his
composition less with regard to form than to light, shade, and masses,
the general effect was good; as indeed all that he did and produced
was attended by a peculiar grace. As he at the same time neither could
nor would control a deep-rooted propensity to the significant and the
allegorical--to that which excites a secondary thought, so his works
always furnished something to reflect upon, and were complete through
a conception, even where they could not be so from art and execution.
This bias, which is always dangerous, frequently led him to the very
bounds of good taste, if not beyond them. He often sought to attain
his views by the oddest notions, and by whimsical jests; nay, his best
works always have a touch of humour. If the public were not always
satisfied with such things, he revenged himself by a new and even
stranger drollery. Thus he afterwards exhibited in the ante-room of
the great concert-hall, an ideal female figure, in his own style, who
was raising a pair of snuffers to a taper, and he was extraordinarily
delighted when he was able to cause a dispute on the question: whether
this singular muse meant to snuff the light or to extinguish it? when
he roguishly allowed all sorts of bantering by-thoughts to peep forth.

But the building of the new theatre, in my time, made the greatest
noise; in which his curtain, when it was still quite new, had certainly
an uncommonly charming effect. Oeser had taken the Muses out of the
clouds, upon which they usually hover on such occasions, and set them
upon the earth. The statues of Sophocles and Aristophanes, around whom
all the modern dramatic writers were assembled, adorned a vestibule to
the Temple of Fame. Here, too, the goddesses of the arts were likewise
present, and all was dignified and beautiful. But now comes the oddity!
Through the open centre was seen the portal of the distant temple, and
a man in a light jerkin was passing between the two above-mentioned
groups, and without troubling himself about them, directly up to
the temple; he was seen from behind, and was not particularly
distinguished. Now this man was to represent Shakspeare, who, without
predecessors or followers, without concerning himself about models,
went to meet immortality in his own way. This work was executed on the
great floor over the new theatre. We often assembled round him there,
and in that place I read aloud to him the proof-sheets of _Musarion._

[Side-note: Influence of Oeser.]

As to myself, I by no means advanced in the practice of the art. His
instructions worked upon our mind and our taste; but his own drawing
was too undefined to guide me, who had only glimmered along by the
objects of art and of nature, to a severe and decided practice. Of the
faces and bodies he gave us rather the aspect than the forms, rather
the postures than the proportions. He gave us the conceptions of the
figures, and desired that we should impress them vividly upon our
minds. That might have been beautifully and properly done, if he had
not had mere beginners before him. If, on this account, a pre-eminent
talent for instruction may be well denied him, it must, on the other
hand, be acknowledged that he was very discreet and politic, and that
a happy adroitness of mind qualified him very peculiarly for a teacher
in a higher sense. The deficiencies under which each one laboured he
clearly saw; but he disdained to reprove them directly, and rather
hinted his praise and censure indirectly and very laconically. One
was now compelled to think over the matter, and soon came to a far
deeper insight. Thus, for instance, I had very carefully executed,
after a pattern, a nosegay on blue paper, with white and black crayon,
and partly with the stump, partly by hatching it up, had tried to
give effect to the little picture. After I had been long labouring in
this way, he once came behind me and said: "More paper!" upon which
he immediately withdrew. My neighbour and I puzzled our heads as to
what this could mean: for my bouquet, on a large half-sheet, had
plenty of space around it. After we had reflected a long while, we
thought, at last, that we had hit his meaning, when we remarked that,
by working together the black and the white, I had quite covered up
the blue ground, had destroyed the middle tint, and, in fact, with
great industry, had produced a disagreeable drawing. As to the rest,
he did not fail to instruct us in perspective, and in light and shade,
sufficiently indeed, but always so that we had to exert and torment
ourselves to find the application of the principles communicated.
Probably his view with regard to us who did not intend to become
artists, was only to form the judgment and taste, and to make us
acquainted with the requisites of a work of art, without precisely
requiring that we should produce one. Since, moreover, patient industry
was not my talent, for nothing gave me pleasure except what came to
me at once, so by degrees I became discouraged, if not lazy, and as
knowledge is more comfortable than doing, I was quite content to follow
wherever he chose, after his own fashion, to lead us.

At this time the _Lives of the Painters_, by D'Argenville, was
translated into German; I obtained it quite fresh, and studied it
assiduously enough. This seemed to please Oeser, and he procured us
an opportunity of seeing many a portfolio out of the great Leipzig
collections, and thus introduced us to the history of the art. But even
these exercises produced in me an effect different from that which he
probably had in mind. The manifold subjects which I saw treated by
artists awakened the poetic talent in me, and as one easily makes an
engraving for a poem, so did I now make poems to the engravings and
drawings, by contriving to present to myself the personages introduced
in them, in their previous and subsequent condition, and sometimes to
compose a little song which might have suited them; and thus accustomed
myself to consider the arts in connexion with each other. Even the
mistakes which I made, so that my poems were often descriptive, were
useful to me in the sequel, when I came to more reflection, by making
me attentive to the differences between the arts. Of the little things
many were in the collection which Behrisch had arranged; but there is
nothing left of them now.

The atmosphere of art and taste in which Oeser lived, and into which
one was drawn, provided one visited him frequently, was the more and
more worthy and delightful, because he was fond of remembering departed
or absent persons, with whom he had been, or still continued to be, on
good terms; for if he had once given any one his esteem, he remained
unalterable in his conduct towards him, and always showed himself
equally friendly.

After we had heard CAYLUS pre-eminently extolled among the French, he
made us also acquainted with Germans of activity in this department.
Thus we learned that Professor CHRIST, as an amateur, a collector, a
connoisseur, a fellow-labourer, had done good service for art; and
had applied his learning to its true improvement. HEINECKEN**, on
the contrary, could not be honourably mentioned, partly because he
devoted himself too assiduously to the ever-childish beginnings of
German art, which Oeser little valued, partly because he had once
treated Winckelmann shabbily, which could never be forgiven him. Our
attention, however, was strongly drawn to the labours of LIPPERT,
since our instructor knew how to set forth his merits sufficiently.
"For," he said, "although single statues and larger groups of sculpture
remain the foundation and the summit of all knowledge of art, yet
either as originals or as casts they are seldom to be seen; on the
contrary, by Lippert, a little world of gems is made known, in which
the more comprehensible merit of the ancients, their happy invention,
judicious composition, tasteful treatment, are made more striking and
intelligible, while, from the great number of them, comparison is much
more possible." While now we were busying ourselves with these as much
as was allowed, WINCKELMANN'S lofty life of art in Italy was pointed
out, and we took his first writings in hand with devotion: for Oeser
had a passionate reverence for him, which he was able easily to instil
into us. The problematical part of those little treatises, which are,
besides, confused even from their irony, and from their referring to
opinions and events altogether peculiar, we were, indeed, unable to
decipher; but as Oeser had great influence over us, and incessantly
gave them out to us as the gospel of the beautiful, and still more
of the tasteful and the pleasing, we found out the general sense,
and fancied that with such interpretations we should go on the more
securely, as we regarded it no small happiness to draw from the same
fountain from which Winckelmann had allayed his earliest thirst.

[Side-note: Feeling for Art in Leipzig.]

No greater good fortune can befall a city, than when several educated
men, like-minded in what is good and right, live together in it.
Leipzig had this advantage, and enjoyed it the more peacefully, as so
many differences of judgment had not yet manifested themselves. HUBER,
a print collector, and a well-experienced connoisseur, had furthermore
the gratefully acknowledged merit of having determined to make the
worth of German literature known to the French; KREUCHAUF, an amateur
with a practised eye, who, as the friend of the whole society of art,
might regard all collections as his own; WINKLER, who much loved to
share with others the intelligent delight which he cherished for his
treasures; many more who were added to the list, all lived and laboured
with one feeling, and often as I was permitted to be present when they
examined works of art, I do not remember that a dispute ever arose: the
school from which the artist had proceeded, the time in which he lived,
the peculiar talent which nature had bestowed on him, and the degree of
excellence to which he had brought it in his performances, were always
fairly considered. There was no prejudice for spiritual or terrestrial
subjects, for landscape or for city views, for animate or inanimate;
the question was always about the accordance with art.

Now although from their situation, mode of thought, abilities, and
opportunities, these amateurs and collectors inclined more to the Dutch
school, yet, while the eye was practised on the endless merits of the
north-western artist, a look of reverential longing was always turned
towards the south-east.

And so the university, where I neglected the ends both of my family
and myself, was to ground me in that in which I afterwards found the
greatest satisfaction of my life; the impression of those localities,
too, in which I received such important incitements, has always
remained to me most dear and precious. The old Pleissenburg, the
rooms of the Academy, but, above all, the abode of Oeser, and no less
the collections of Winkler and Richter, I have always vividly present
before me.

But a young man who, while older persons are conversing with each other
on subjects already familiar to them, is instructed only incidentally,
and for whom the most difficult part of the business, that of rightly
arranging all, yet remains, must find himself in a very painful
situation. I therefore, as well as others, looked about with longing
for some new light, which was indeed to come to us from a man to whom
we owed so much already.

[Side-note: Lessing's Laocoön.]

The mind can be highly delighted in two ways, by perception and
conception. But the former demands a worthy object, which is not
always at hand, and a proportionate culture, which one does not
immediately attain. Conception, on the other hand, requires only
susceptibility; it brings its subject-matter with it, and is itself
the instrument of culture. Hence that beam of light was most welcome
to us which that most excellent thinker brought down to us through
dark clouds. One must be a young man to render present to oneself the
effect which Lessing's _Laocoön_ produced upon us, by transporting
us out of the region of scanty perceptions into the open fields of
thought. The so long misunderstood _ut pictura poesis_ was at once
laid aside, the difference between plastic and speaking art[1] was
made clear, the summits of the two now appeared sundered, however
near their bases might border on each other. The plastic artist was
to keep himself within the bounds of the beautiful, if the artist of
language, who cannot dispense with the significant in any kind, is
permitted to ramble abroad beyond them. The former labours for the
outer sense, which is satisfied only by the beautiful; the latter for
the imagination, which may even reconcile itself to the ugly. All the
consequences of this splendid thought were illumined to us as by a
lightning flash; all the criticism which had hitherto guided and judged
was thrown away like a worn-out coat; we considered ourselves freed
from all evil, and fancied we might venture to look down with some
compassion upon the otherwise so splendid sixteenth century, when, in
German sculptures and poems, they knew how to represent life only under
the form of a fool hung with bells, death under the misformed shape
of a rattling skeleton, and the necessary and accidental evils of the
world under the image of the caricatured devil.

We were the most enchanted with the beauty of that thought, that
the ancients had recognised death as the brother of sleep, and had
represented them similar even to confusion, as becomes Menæchmi. Here
we could first do high honour to the triumph of the beautiful, and
banish the ugly of every kind into the low sphere of the ridiculous in
the kingdom of art, since it could not be utterly driven out of the

The splendour of such leading and fundamental conceptions appears only
to the mind upon which they exercise their infinite activity--appears
only to the age in which, after being longed for, they come forth at
the right moment. Then do those at whose disposal such nourishment is
placed, fondly occupy whole periods of their lives with it, and rejoice
in a superabundant growth; while men are not wanting, meanwhile, who
resist such an effect on the spot, nor others who afterwards haggle and
cavil at its high meaning.

But as conception and perception mutually require each other, I could
not long work up these new thoughts, without an infinite desire arising
within me to see important works of art, once and away, in great
number. I therefore determined to visit Dresden without delay. I was
not in want of the necessary cash; but there were other difficulties
to overcome, which I needlessly increased still further, through my
whimsical disposition; for I kept my purpose a secret from every one,
because I wished to contemplate the treasures of art there quite after
my own way, and, as I thought, to allow no one to perplex me. Besides
this, so simple a matter became more complicated by still another

We have weaknesses, both by birth and by education, and it may be
questioned which of the two gives us the most trouble. Willingly as
I made myself familiar with all sorts of conditions, and many as had
been my inducements to do so, an excessive aversion from all inns had
nevertheless been instilled into me by my father. This feeling had
rooted itself firmly in him on his travels through Italy, France, and
Germany. Although he seldom spoke in images, and only called them to
his aid when he was very cheerful, yet he used often to repeat that he
always fancied he saw a great cobweb spun across the gate of an inn,
so ingeniously that the insects could indeed fly in, but that even the
privileged wasps could not fly out again unplucked. It seemed to him
something horrible, that one should be obliged to pay immoderately
for renouncing one's habits and all that was dear to one in life,
and living after the manner of publicans and waiters. He praised the
hospitality of the olden time, and reluctantly as he otherwise endured
even anything unusual in the house, he yet practised hospitality,
especially towards artists and virtuosi; thus gossip Seekatz always had
his quarters with us, and Abel, the last musician who handled the _viol
di gamba_ with success and applause, was well received and entertained.
With such youthful impressions, which nothing had as yet rubbed off,
how could I have resolved to set foot in an inn in a strange city?
Nothing would have been easier than to find quarters with good friends.
Hofrath Krebel, Assessor Hermann, and others had often spoken to me
about it already; but even to these my trip was to remain a secret,
and I hit upon a most singular notion. My next-room neighbour, the
industrious theologian, whose eyes unfortunately constantly grew weaker
and weaker, had a relation in Dresden, a shoemaker, with whom from time
to time he corresponded. For a long while already this man had been
highly remarkable to me on account of his expressions, and the arrival
of one of his letters was always celebrated by us as a holiday. The
mode in which he replied to the complaints of his cousin, who feared
blindness, was quite peculiar; for he did not trouble himself about
grounds of consolation, which are always hard to find; but the cheerful
way in which he looked upon his own narrow, poor, toilsome life,
the merriment which he drew even from evils and inconveniences, the
indestructible conviction that life is in itself and on its own account
a blessing, communicated itself to him who read the letter, and, for
the moment at least, transposed him into a like mood. Enthusiastic as
I was, I had often sent my compliments to this man, extolled his happy
natural gift, and expressed the wish to become acquainted with him. All
this being premised, nothing seemed to me more natural than to seek
him out, to converse with him, nay, to lodge with him, and to learn to
know him intimately. My good candidate, after some opposition, gave
me a letter, written with difficulty, to carry with me, and, full of
longing, I went to Dresden in the yellow coach, with my matriculation
in my pocket.

[Side-note: The Dresden Shoemaker.]

I looked for my shoemaker, and soon found him in the suburb
(_Vorstadt_). He received me in a friendly manner, sitting upon his
stool, and said smiling, after he had read the letter, "I see from
this, young Sir, that you are a whimsical Christian." "How so, master?"
replied I. "No offence meant by '_whimsical_,'" he continued; "one
calls every one so who is not consistent with himself; and I call you
a whimsical Christian because you acknowledge yourself a follower of
our Lord in one thing, but not in another." On my requesting him to
enlighten me, he said further: "It seems that your view is to announce
glad tidings to the poor and lowly; that is good, and this imitation
of the Lord is praiseworthy; but you should reflect besides, that he
rather sat down to table with prosperous rich folks, where there was
good fare, and that he himself did not despise the sweet scent of the
ointment, of which you will find the opposite in my house."

This pleasant beginning put me at once in good-humour, and we rallied
each other for some time. His wife stood doubting how she should board
and lodge such a guest. On this point, too, he had notions which
referred not only to the Bible, but also to _Gottfried's Chronicle_,
and when we were agreed that I was to stay, I gave my purse, such as
it was, into the charge of my hostess, and requested her to furnish
herself from it, if anything should be necessary. When he would have
declined it, and somewhat waggishly gave me to understand that he was
not so burnt out as he might appear, I disarmed him by saying, "Even
if it were only to change water into wine, such a well-tried domestic
resource would not be out of place, since there are no more miracles
now-a-days." The hostess seemed to find my conduct less and less
strange; we had soon accommodated ourselves to each other, and spent
a very merry evening. He remained always the same, because all flowed
from one source. His peculiarity was an apt common-sense, which rested
upon a cheerful disposition, and took delight in uniform habitual
activity. That he should labour incessantly was his first and most
necessary care; that he regarded everything else as secondary,--this
kept up his comfortable state of mind; and I must reckon him before
many others in the class of those who are called practical unconscious

The hour when the gallery was to open, after being expected with
impatience, appeared. I entered into this sanctuary, and my
astonishment surpassed every conception which I had formed. This
saloon, returning into itself, in which splendour and neatness reigned,
together with the deepest stillness, the dazzling frames, all nearer
to the time in which they had been gilded, the floor polished with
bees'-wax, the spaces more trodden by spectators than used by copyists,
imparted a feeling of solemnity, unique of its kind, which so much
the more resembled the sensation with which one treads a church, as
the adornments of so many a temple, the objects of so much adoration,
seemed here again set up only for the sacred purposes of art. I readily
put up with the cursory description of my conductor; only I requested
that I might be allowed to remain in the outer gallery. Here, to my
comfort, I found myself really at home. I had already seen the works
of several artists, others I knew from engravings, others by name.
I did not conceal this, and I thus inspired my conductor with some
confidence; nay, the rapture which I expressed at pieces where the
pencil had gained the victory over nature, delighted him; for such were
the things which principally attracted me, where the comparison with
known nature must necessarily enhance the value of art.

When I again entered my shoemaker's house to dinner, I scarcely
believed my eyes; for I fancied I saw before me a picture by Ostade,
so perfect that one could only hang it up in the gallery. The position
of the objects, the light, the shadow, the brownish tint of the whole,
the magical harmony, everything that one admires in those pictures,
I here saw in reality. It was the first time that I perceived, in so
high a degree, the faculty which I afterwards exercised with more
consciousness, namely, that of seeing nature with the eyes of this or
that artist, to whose works I had devoted a particular attention. This
faculty has afforded me much enjoyment, but has also increased the
desire zealously to abandon myself, from time to time, to the exercise
of a talent which nature seemed to have denied me.

[Side-note: Counsellor Riedel.]

I visited the gallery at all permitted hours, and continued to express
too loudly my ecstasy at many precious works. I thus frustrated my
laudable purpose of remaining unknown and unnoticed; and whereas only
one of the under-keepers had hitherto had intercourse with me, the
gallery-inspector, Counsellor Riedel, now also took notice of me, and
made me attentive to many things which seemed chiefly to lie within my
sphere. I found this excellent man just as active and obliging then, as
when I afterwards saw him during many years, and as he shows himself
to this day. His image has, for me, interwoven itself so closely with
those treasures of art, that I can never regard the two apart; the
remembrance of him has even accompanied me to Italy, where, in many
large and rich collections, his presence would have been very desirable.

Since, even with strangers and unknown persons, one cannot gaze on
such works silently and without mutual sympathy, nay, since the first
sight of them is rather adapted, in the highest degree, to open hearts
towards each other, I fell there into conversation with a young man who
seemed to be residing at Dresden, and to belong to some embassy. He
invited me to come in the evening to an inn where a lively company met,
and where, by each one's paying a moderate reckoning, one could pass
some very pleasant hours.

I repaired thither, but did not find the company; and the waiter
somewhat surprised me when he delivered the compliments of the
gentleman who made the appointment with me, by which the latter sent
an excuse for coming somewhat later, with the addition that I must not
take offence at anything that might occur; also, that I should have
nothing to pay beyond my own score. I knew not what to make of these
words; my father's cobwebs came into my head, and I composed myself to
await whatever might befall. The company assembled, my acquaintance
introduced me, and I could not be attentive long, without discovering
that they were aiming at the mystification of a young man, who showed
himself a novice by an obstreperous, assuming deportment; I therefore
kept very much on my guard, so that they might not find delight
in selecting me as his fellow. At table this intention became more
apparent to everybody, except to himself. They drank deeper and deeper,
and when a _vivat_ in honour of sweethearts was started, every one
solemnly swore that there should never be another out of those glasses;
they flung them behind them; and this was the signal for far greater
follies. At last I withdrew, very quietly, and the waiter, while
demanding quite a moderate reckoning, requested me to come again, as
they did not go on so wildly every evening. I was far from my lodgings,
and it was near midnight when I reached them. I found the doors
unlocked, everybody was in bed, and one lamp illuminated the narrow
domestic household, where my eye, more and more practised, immediately
perceived the finest picture by Schalken, from which I could not tear
myself away, so that it banished from me all sleep.

The few days of my residence in Dresden were solely devoted to the
picture-gallery. The antiquities still stood in the pavilion of the
great garden, but I declined seeing them, as well as all the other
precious things which Dresden contained; being but too full of the
conviction that, even in and about the collection of paintings much
must yet remain hidden from me. Thus I took the excellence of the
Italian masters more on trust and in faith, than by pretending to any
insight into them. What I could not look upon as nature, put in the
place of nature, and compare with a known object, was without effect
upon me. It is the material impression which makes the beginning even
to every more elevated amateurship.

With my shoemaker I lived on very good terms. He was witty and
varied enough, and we often outvied each other in merry conceits;
nevertheless, a man who thinks himself happy, and desires others
to do the same, makes us discontented; indeed, the repetition of
such sentiments produces weariness. I found myself well occupied,
entertained, excited, but by no means happy; and the shoes from his
last would not fit me. We parted, however, as the best friends; and
even my hostess, on my departure, was not dissatisfied with me.

Shortly before my departure, something else very pleasant was to
happen. By the mediation of that young man, who wished to restore
himself to some credit with me, I was introduced to the Director Von
Hagedorn, who with great kindness showed me his collection, and was
highly delighted with the enthusiasm of the young lover of art. He
himself, as becomes a connoisseur, was quite peculiarly in love with
the pictures which he possessed, and therefore seldom found in others
an interest such as he wished. It gave him particular satisfaction that
I was beyond measure pleased with a picture by Schwanefeld, and that I
was not tired of praising and extolling it in every single part; for
landscapes, which again reminded me of the beautiful clear sky under
which I had grown up---of the vegetable luxuriance of those spots--and
of whatever other favours a warmer climate offers to man, were just the
things that most affected me in the imitation, while they awakened in
me a longing remembrance.

[Side-note: State of Dresden.]

These precious experiences, preparing both mind and sense for true art,
were nevertheless interrupted and damped by one of the most melancholy
sights, by the destroyed and desolate condition of so many of the
streets of Dresden through which I took my way. The Mohrenstrasse in
ruins, and the Church (_Kreuzkirche_) of the Cross, with its shattered
tower, impressed themselves deeply upon me, and still stand like a
gloomy spot in my imagination. From the cupola of the Lady Church
(_Frauenkirche_)** I saw these pitiable ruins scattered about amid the
beautiful order of the city. Here the clerk commended to me the art
of the architect, who had already fitted up church and cupola for so
undesirable an event, and had built them bomb-proof. The good sacristan
then pointed out to me the ruins on-all sides, and said doubtfully and
laconically, "_The enemy hath done this!_"

Now then, at last, though unwillingly, I returned back to Leipzig, and
found my friends, who were not used to such digressions in me, in great
astonishment, busied with all sorts of conjectures as to what might
be the import of my mysterious journey. When upon this I told them my
story quite in order, they declared it was only a made-up tale, and
sagaciously tried to get at the bottom of the riddle which I had been
waggish enough to conceal under my shoemaker-lodgings.

But could they have looked into my heart, they would have discovered no
waggery there; for the truth of that old proverb, "He that increaseth
knowledge increaseth sorrow," had struck me with all its force; and
the more I struggled to arrange and appropriate to myself what I had
seen, the less I succeeded. I had at last to content myself with a
silent after-operation. Ordinary life carried me away again, and I
at last felt myself quite comfortable when a friendly intercourse,
improvement in branches of knowledge which were suitable for me, and a
certain practice of the hand, engaged me in a manner less important,
but more in accordance with my strength.

Very pleasant and wholesome for me was the connexion which I formed
with the Breitkopf family. BERNHARD CHRISTOPH BREITKOPF, the proper
founder of the family, who had come to Leipzig as a poor journeyman
printer, was yet living, and occupied the Golden Bear, a respectable
house in the new Newmarket, with Gottsched as an inmate. The son,
Johann Gottlob Immanuel, had already been long married, and was the
father of many children. They thought they could not spend a part of
their considerable wealth better than in putting up, opposite the
first house, a large new one, the Silver Bear, which they built higher
and more extensive than the original house itself. Just at the time
of the building I became acquainted with the family. The eldest son
might have been some years older than I was, a well-formed young man,
devoted to music, and practised to play skilfully on both the piano
and the violin. The second, a true, good soul, likewise musical,
enlivened the concerts which were often got up, no less than his elder
brother. They were both kindly disposed towards me, as well as their
parents and sisters. I lent them a helping-hand during the building up
and the finishing, the furnishing and the moving in, and thus formed
a conception of much that belongs to such an affair; I also had an
opportunity of seeing Oeser's instructions put in practice. In the new
house, which I had thus seen erected, I was often a visitor. We had
many pursuits in common, and the eldest son set some of my songs to
music, which, when printed, bore his name, but not mine, and have been
little known. I have selected the best, and inserted them among my
other little poems. The father had invented or perfected musical type.
He permitted me the use of a fine library, which related principally to
the origin and progress of printing, and thus I gained some knowledge
in that department. I found there moreover, good copper-plates, which
exhibited antiquity, and advanced on this side also my studies, which
were still further promoted by the circumstance that a considerable
collection of casts had fallen into disorder in moving. I set them
right again as well as I could, and in doing so was compelled to search
Lippert and other authorities. A physician, Doctor REICHEL, likewise an
inmate of the house, I consulted from time to time when I felt, if not
sick, yet unwell, and thus we led together a quiet, pleasant life.

[Side-note: Taste for Etching.]

I was now to enter into another sort of connexion in this house; for
the copper-plate engraver, STOCK, had moved into the attic. He was
a native of Nuremberg, a very industrious man, and, in his labours,
precise and methodical. He also, like Geyser, engraved, after Oeser's
designs, larger and smaller plates, which came more and more into vogue
for novels and poems. He etched very neatly, so that his work came out
of the aquafortis almost finished, and but little touching-up remained
to be done with the graver, which he handled very well. He made an
exact calculation how long a plate would occupy him, and nothing could
call him off from his work if he had not completed the daily task he
had set himself. Thus he sat at a broad work-table, by the great**
gable-window, in a very neat and orderly chamber, where his wife and
two daughters afforded him a domestic society. Of these last, one
is happily married, and the other is an excellent artist; they have
continued my friends all my life long. I now divided my time between
the upper and lower stories, and attached myself much to the man, who,
together with his persevering industry, possessed an excellent humour,
and was good-nature itself.

The technical neatness of this branch of art charmed me, and I
associated myself with him to execute something of the kind. My
predilection was again directed towards landscape, which, while it
amused me in my solitary walks, seemed in itself more attainable and
more comprehensible for works of art than the human figure, which
discouraged me. Under his directions, therefore, I etched, after
THIELE and others, various landscapes, which, although executed by an
unpractised hand, produced some effect, and were well received. The
grounding (varnishing) of the plates, the putting in the high lights,
the etching, and at last the biting with aquafortis, gave me variety
of occupation, and I soon got so far that I could assist my master in
many things. I did not lack the attention necessary for the biting,
and I seldom failed in anything; but I had not care enough in guarding
against the deleterious vapours which are generated on such occasions,
and these may have contributed to the maladies which afterwards
troubled me for a long time. Amidst such labours, that everything
might be tried, I often made wood-cuts also. I prepared various little
printing-blocks after French patterns, and many of them were found fit
for use.

Let me here make mention of some other men who resided in Leipzig, or
tarried there for a short time. WEISSE, the custom-house collector of
the district, in his best years, cheerful, friendly, and obliging, was
loved and esteemed by us. We would not, indeed, allow his theatrical
pieces to be models throughout, but we suffered ourselves to be
carried away by them, and his operas, set to music by Hiller in an
easy style, gave us much pleasure. SCHIEBLER, of Hamburgh, pursued the
same track; and his _Lisuard and Dariolette_ was likewise favoured by
us. ESCHENBURG, a handsome young man, but little older than we were,
distinguished himself advantageously among the students. ZACHARIÆ
was pleased to spend some weeks with us, and being introduced by his
brother, dined every day with us at the same table. We rightly deemed
it an honour to gratify our guest in return, by a few extra dishes,
a richer dessert, and choicer wine; for, as a tall, well-formed,
comfortable man, he did not conceal his love of good eating. LESSING
came at a time when we had I know not what in our heads; it was our
good pleasure to go nowhere on his account, nay, even to avoid the
places to which he came, probably because we thought ourselves too
good to stand at a distance, and could make no pretension to obtain a
closer intimacy with him. This momentary absurdity, which, however, is
nothing rare in presuming and freakish youth, proved, indeed, its own
punishment in the sequel; for I have never set eyes on that eminent
man, who was most highly esteemed by me.

Notwithstanding all our efforts relative to art and antiquity, we
each of us always had WINCKELMANN before our eves, whose ability
was acknowledged in his fatherland with enthusiasm. We read his
writings diligently, and tried to make ourselves acquainted with the
circumstances under which he had written the first of them. We found in
them many views which seemed to have originated with Oeser, even jests
and whims after his fashion, and we did not rest until we had formed
some general conception of the occasion on which these remarkable and
sometimes so enigmatical writings had arisen, though we were not very
accurate; for youth likes better to be excited than instructed, and it
was not the last time that I was to be indebted to Sibylline leaves for
an important step in cultivation.

[Side-note: Death of Winckelmann.]

It was then a fine period in literature, when eminent men were yet
treated with respect, although the disputes of Klotz and Lessing's
controversies, already indicated that this epoch would soon close.
Winckelmann enjoyed an universal, unassailed reverence, and it is
known how sensitive he was with regard to anything public which did
not seem commensurate with his deeply felt dignity. All the periodical
publications joined in his praise, the better class of tourists came
back from him instructed and enraptured, and the new views which he
gave extended themselves over science and life. The Prince of Dessau
had raised himself up to a similar degree of respect. Young, well and
nobly minded, he had on his travels and at other times shown himself
truly desirable. Winckelmann was in the highest degree delighted with
him, and, whenever he mentioned him, loaded him with the handsomest
epithets. The laying out of a park, then unique, the taste for
architecture, which Von Erdmannsdorf supported by his activity,
everything spoke in favour of a prince, who, while he was a shining
example for the rest, gave promise of a golden age for his servants and
subjects. We young people now learned with rejoicings that Winckelmann
would return back from Italy, visit his princely friend, call on
Oeser by the way, and so come within our sphere of vision. We made no
pretensions to speaking with him, but we hoped to see him; and as at
that time of life one willingly changes every occasion into a party
of pleasure, we had already agreed upon a journey to Dessau, where,
in a beautiful spot, made glorious by art, in a land well governed,
and at the same time externally adorned, we thought to lie in wait
now here, now there, in order to see with our own eyes these men so
highly exalted above us walking about. Oeser himself was quite elated
if he only thought of it, and the news of Winckelmann's death fell down
into the midst of us like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. I still
remember the place where I first heard it; it was in the court of the
Pleissenburg, not far from the little gate through which one used to
go up to Oeser's residence. One of my fellow-pupils met me and told
me that Oeser was not to be seen, with the reason why. This monstrous
event[3] produced a monstrous effect; there was an universal mourning
and lamentation, and Winckelmann's untimely death sharpened the
attention paid to the value of his life. Perhaps, indeed, the effect
of his activity, if he had continued it to a more advanced age, would
probably not have been so great as it now necessarily became, when,
like many other extraordinary men, he was distinguished by fate through
a strange and calamitous end.

Now, while I was infinitely lamenting the death of Winckelmann, I
did not think that I should soon find myself in the case of being
apprehensive about my own life: since, during all these events, my
bodily condition had not taken the most favourable turn. I had already
brought with me from home a certain touch of hypochondria, which, in
this new sedentary and lounging life, was rather strengthened than
diminished. The pain in the breast, which I had felt from time to
time ever since the accident at Auerstädt, and which after a fall
from horseback had perceptibly increased, made me dejected. By an
unfortunate diet, I destroyed my powers of digestion; the heavy
Merseburg beer clouded my brain; the coffee, which gave me a peculiarly
melancholy tone, especially when taken with milk after dinner,
paralysed my bowels, and seemed completely to suspend their functions,
so that I experienced great uneasiness on this account, yet without
being able to embrace a resolution for a more rational mode of life.
My natural disposition, supported by the sufficient strength of youth,
fluctuated between the extremes of unrestrained gaiety and melancholy
discomfort. Besides this, the epoch of the cold water bath, which was
unconditionally recommended, had then begun. One was to sleep on a
hard bed, only slightly covered, by which all the usual perspiration
was suppressed. These and other follies, in consequence of some
misunderstood suggestions of Rousseau, would, it was promised, bring
us nearer to nature, and deliver us from the corruption of morals.
Now, all the above, without discrimination, applied with injudicious
alternation, were felt by many most injuriously, and I irritated my
happy organization to such a degree, that the particular systems
contained within it necessarily broke out at last into a conspiracy and
revolution, in order to save the whole.

One night I awoke with a violent hæmorrhage, and had just strength and
presence of mind enough to waken my next room neighbour. Dr. Reichel
was called in, who assisted me in the most friendly manner, and thus
for many days I wavered betwixt life and death; and even the joy of
a subsequent improvement was embittered by the circumstance that,
during that eruption, a tumour had formed on the left side of the neck,
which, after the danger was past, they now first found time to notice.
Recovery is, however, always pleasing and delightful, even though it
takes place slowly and painfully; and since nature had helped herself
with me, I appeared now to have become another man: for I had gained a
greater cheerfulness of mind than I had known for a long time, and I
was rejoiced to feel my inner self at liberty, although externally a
wearisome affliction threatened me.

But what particularly set me up at this time was, to see how many
eminent men had, undeservedly, given me their affection. Undeservedly,
I say: for there was not one among them to whom I had not been
troublesome through contradictory humours, not one whom I had not more
than once wounded by morbid absurdity, nay, whom I had not stubbornly
avoided for a long time, from a feeling of my own injustice. All this
was forgotten; they treated me in the most affectionate manner, and
sought, partly in my chamber, partly as soon as I could leave it, to
amuse and divert me. They drove out with me, entertained me at their
country-houses, and I seemed soon to recover.

[Side-note: Dr. Hermann.]

Among these friends I name first of all Doctor HERMANN, then senator,
afterwards burgomaster of Leipzig. He was among those boarders with
whom I had become acquainted through Schlosser, the one with whom an
always equable and enduring connexion was maintained. One might well
reckon him the most industrious of his academical fellow-citizens. He
attended his lectures with the greatest regularity, and his private
industry remained always the same. Step by step, without the slightest
deviation, I saw him attain his Doctor's degree, and then raise himself
to the assessorship, without anything of all this appearing arduous to
him, or his having in the least hurried or been too late with anything.
The gentleness of his character attracted me, his instructive
conversation held me fast; indeed I really believe that I took delight
in his methodical industry especially for this reason, because I
thought, by acknowledgments and high esteem, to appropriate to myself
at least a part of a merit of which I could by no means boast.

He was just as regular in the exercise of his talents and the enjoyment
of his pleasures as in his business. He played the harpsichord with
great skill, drew from nature with feeling, and stimulated me to do
the same; when, in his manner, on grey paper and with black and white
chalk, I used to copy many a willow-plot on the Pleisse, and many a
lovely nook of those still waters, and at the same time longingly
to indulge in my fancies. He knew how to meet my sometimes comical
disposition with merry jests, and I remember many pleasant hours
which we spent together when he invited me, with mock solemnity, to a
_tête-à-tête_ supper, where, with some dignity, by the light of waxen
candles, we ate what they call a council-hare, which had run into his
kitchen as a perquisite of his place, and with many jokes in the manner
of Behrisch, were pleased to season the meat and heighten the spirit of
the wine. That this excellent man, who is still constantly labouring
in his respectable office, rendered me the most faithful assistance
during a disease, of which there was indeed a foreboding, but which had
not been foreseen in its full extent, that he bestowed every leisure
hour upon me, and by remembrances of former happy times, contrived to
brighten the gloomy moment, I still acknowledge with the sincerest
thanks, and rejoice that after so long a time I can give them publicly.

Besides this worthy friend, GROENING of Bremen particularly interested
himself in me. I had made his acquaintance only a short time before,
and first discovered his good feeling towards me during my misfortune;
I felt the value of this favour the more warmly, as no one is apt to
seek a closer connexion with invalids. He spared nothing to give me
pleasure, to draw me away from musing on my situation, to hold up to my
view and promise me recovery and a wholesome activity in the nearest
future. How often have I been delighted, in the progress of life, to
hear how this excellent man has in the weightiest affairs shown himself
useful, and indeed a blessing to his native city.

Here, too, it was that friend HORN uninterruptedly brought into action
his love and attention. The whole Breitkopf household, the Stock
family, and many others, treated me like a near relative; and thus,
through the good-will of so many friendly persons, the feeling of my
situation was soothed in the tenderest manner.

[Side-note: Langer.]

I must here, however, make particular mention of a man, with whom
I first became acquainted at this time, and whose instructive
conversation so far blinded me to the miserable state in which I was,
that I actually forgot it. This was LANGER, afterwards librarian at
Wolfenbüttel. Eminently learned and instructed, he was delighted at
my voracious hunger after knowledge, which, with the irritability of
sickness, now broke out into a perfect fever. He tried to calm me
by perspicuous summaries, and I have been very much indebted to his
acquaintance, short as it was, since he understood how to guide me in
various ways, and made me attentive whither I had to direct myself at
the present moment. I found myself the more obliged to this important
man, as my intercourse exposed him to some danger: for when, after
Behrisch, he got the situation of tutor to the young Count Lindenau,
the father made it an express condition with the new Mentor that he
should have no intercourse with me. Curious to become acquainted with
such a dangerous subject, he frequently found means of meeting me
indirectly. I soon gained his affection, and he, more prudent than
Behrisch, called for me by night; we went walking together, conversed
on interesting things, and at last I accompanied him to the very door
of his mistress; for even this externally severe, earnest, scientific
man had not kept free from the toils of a very amiable lady.

German literature, and with it my own poetical undertakings, had
already for some time become strange to me, and as is usually the
result in such an auto-didactic circular course, I turned back towards
the beloved ancients who still constantly, like distant blue mountains,
distinct in their outlines and masses, but indiscernible in their parts
and internal relations, bounded the horizon of my intellectual wishes.
I made an exchange with Langer, in which I at last played the part of
Glaucus and Diomedes; I gave up to him whole baskets of German poets
and critics, and received in return a number of Greek authors, the
reading of whom was to give me recreation, even during the most tedious

The confidence which new friends repose in each other usually developes
itself by degrees. Common occupation and tastes are the first things
in which a mutual harmony shows itself; then the mutual communication
generally extends over past and present passions, especially over love
affairs; but it is a lower depth which opens itself, if the connexion
is to be perfected; the religious sentiments, the affairs of the heart
which relate to the imperishable, are the things which both establish
the foundation and adorn the summit of a friendship.

The Christian religion was wavering between its own historically
positive base and a pure deism, which, grounded on morality, was in its
turn to lay the foundation of ethics. The diversity of characters and
modes of thought here showed itself in infinite gradations, especially
when a leading difference was brought into play by the question arising
as to how great a share the reason, and how great a share the feelings
could and should bear a part in such convictions. The most lively and
ingenious men showed themselves, in this instance, like butterflies,
who, quite regardless of their caterpillar state, throw away the
chrysalis veil in which they have grown up to their organic perfection.
Others, more honestly and modestly minded, might be compared to the
flowers, which, although they unfold themselves to the most beautiful
bloom, yet do not tear themselves from the root, from the mother stalk,
nay, rather through this family connexion first bring the desired fruit
to maturity. Of this latter class was Langer; for, although a learned
man, and eminently versed in books, he would yet give the Bible a
peculiar pre-eminence over the other writings which have come down to
us, and regard it as a document from which alone we could prove our
moral and spiritual pedigree. He belonged to those who cannot conceive
an immediate connexion with the great God of the universe; a mediation,
therefore, was necessary for him, an analogy to which he thought he
could find everywhere, in earthly and heavenly things. His discourse,
which was pleasing and consistent, easily found a hearing with a young
man who, separated from worldly things by an annoying illness, found it
highly desirable to turn the activity of his mind towards the heavenly.
Grounded as I was in the Bible, all that was wanted was merely the
faith to explain as divine that which I had hitherto esteemed in human
fashion.--a belief, the easier for me, since I had made my first
acquaintance with that book as a divine one. To a sufferer, to one who
felt himself delicate, nay, weak, the gospel was therefore welcome,
and even though Langer, with all his faith, was at the same time a
very sensible man, and firmly maintained that one should not let the
feelings prevail, should not let oneself be led astray into mysticism,
I could not have managed to occupy myself with the New Testament
without feeling and enthusiasm.

In such conversations we spent much time, and he grew so fond of me
as an honest and well-prepared proselyte, that he did not scruple to
sacrifice to me many of the hours destined for his fair one, and even
to run the risk of being betrayed and looked upon unfavourably by his
patron, like Behrisch. I returned his affection in the most grateful
manner; and if what he did for me would have been of value at any time,
I could not but regard it, in my present condition, as worthy of the
highest honour.

[Side-note: Riot at Leipzig.]

But as when the concert of our souls is most spiritually attuned, the
rude shrieking tones of the world usually break in most violently and
boisterously, and the contrast which has gone on exercising a secret
control affects us so much the more sensibly when it comes forward all
at once; thus was I not to be dismissed from the peripatetic school of
my Langer without having first witnessed an event, strange at least
for Leipzig, namely, a tumult which the students excited, and that
on the following pretence. Some young people had quarrelled with the
city soldiers, and the affair had not gone off without violence. Many
of the students combined together to revenge the injuries inflicted.
The soldiers resisted stubbornly, and the advantage was not on the
side of the very discontented academical citizens. It was now said
that respectable persons had commended and rewarded the conquerors for
their valiant resistance, and by this, the youthful feeling of honour
and revenge was mightily excited. It was publicly said that on the
next evening windows would be broken in, and some friends who brought
me word that this was actually taking place, were obliged to carry me
there, for youth and the multitude are always attracted by danger and
tumult. There really began a strange spectacle. The otherwise open
street was lined on one side with men who, quite quiet, without noise
or movement, were waiting to see what would happen. About a dozen young
fellows were walking singly up and down the empty side-walk, with the
greatest apparent composure, but as soon as they came opposite the
marked house, they threw stones at the windows as they passed by, and
this repeatedly as they returned backwards and forwards, as long as
the panes would rattle. Just as quietly as this was done, all at last
dispersed, and the affair had no further consequences.

With such a ringing echo of university exploits, I left Leipzig in the
September of 1768, in a comfortable hired coach, and in the company of
some respectable persons of my acquaintance. In the neighbourhood of
Auerstädt I thought of that previous accident; but I could not forebode
that which many years afterwards would threaten me from thence with
still greater danger; just as little as in Gotha, where we had the
castle shown to us, I could think in the great hall adorned with stucco
figures, that so much favour and affection would befall me on that very

The nearer I approached my native city, the more I recalled to myself
doubtingly the circumstances, prospects, and hopes with which I had
left home, and it was a very disheartening feeling that I now returned,
as it were, like one shipwrecked. Yet since I had not very much with
which to reproach myself, I contrived to compose myself tolerably well;
however, the welcome was not without emotion. The great vivacity of
my nature, excited and heightened by sickness, caused an impassioned
scene. I might have looked worse than I myself knew, since for a long
time I had not consulted a looking-glass; and who does not become used
to himself? Enough, they silently resolved to communicate many things
to me only by degrees, and before all things to let me have some repose
both bodily and mental.

[Side-note: State of Goethe's Family.]

My sister immediately associated herself with me, and as previously,
from her letters, so I could now more in detail and accurately
understand the circumstances and situation of the family. My father
had, after my departure, concentrated all his didactic taste upon my
sister, and in a house completely shut up, rendered secure by peace,
and even cleared of lodgers, he had cut off from her almost every
means of looking about and recreating herself abroad. She had by turns
to pursue and work at French, Italian, and English, besides which he
compelled her to practise a great part of the day on the harpsichord.
Her writing also could not be neglected, and I had already remarked
that he had directed her correspondence with me, and had let his
doctrines come to me through her pen. My sister was and still continued
to be an undefinable being, the most singular mixture of strength and
weakness, of stubbornness and pliability, which qualities operated
now united, now isolated by will and inclination. Thus she had, in a
manner which seemed to me fearful, turned the hardness of her character
against her father, whom she did not forgive for having hindered or
embittered to her so many innocent joys for these three years, and of
his good and excellent qualities she would not acknowledge even one.
She did all that he commanded and arranged, but in the most unamiable
manner in the world. She did it in the established routine, but nothing
more and nothing less. From love or a desire to please she accommodated
herself to nothing, so that this was one of the first things about
which my mother complained in a private conversation with me. But since
love was as essential to my sister as to any human being, she turned
her affection wholly on me. Her care in nursing and entertaining me
absorbed all her time; her female companions, who were swayed by her
without her intending it, had likewise to contrive all sorts of things
to be pleasing and consolatory to me. She was inventive in cheering me
up, and even developed some germs of comical humour which I had never
known in her, and which became her very well. There soon arose between
us a coterie-language, by which we could converse before all people
without their understanding us, and she often used this gibberish with
great pertness in the presence of our parents.

My father was personally in tolerable comfort. He was in good health,
spent a great part of the day in the instruction of my sister, wrote at
the description of his travels, and was longer in tuning his lute than
in playing on it. He concealed at the same time, as well as he could,
his vexation at finding instead of a stout active son, who ought now
to take his degree and run through the prescribed course of life, an
invalid who seemed to suffer still more in soul than in body. He did
not conceal his wish that they would be expeditious with my cure; but
one was forced to be specially on one's guard in his presence against
hypochondriacal expressions, because he could then become passionate
and bitter.

[Side-note: Fräulein von Klettenberg.]

My mother, by nature very lively and cheerful, spent under these
circumstances very tedious days. Her little housekeeping was soon
provided for. The mind of the good lady, internally never unoccupied,
wished to find an interest in something, and that which was nearest
at hand was religion, which she embraced the more fondly as her most
eminent female friends were cultivated and hearty worshippers of God.
At the head of these stood Fräulein von Klettenberg. She is the same
person from whose conversations and letters arose the "Confessions of
a Beautiful Soul," which are found inserted in "Wilhelm Meister." She
was slenderly formed, of the middle size; a hearty natural demeanour
had been made still more pleasing by the manners of the world and the
court. Her very neat attire reminded of the dress of the Hernhutt
ladies. Her serenity and peace of mind never left her. She looked upon
her sickness as a necessary element of her transient earthly existence;
she suffered with the greatest patience, and, in painless intervals,
was lively and talkative. Her favourite, nay, indeed, perhaps her only
conversation, was on the moral experiences which a man who observes
himself can form in himself; to which was added the religious views
which, in a very graceful manner, nay, with genius, came under her
consideration as natural and supernatural. It scarcely needs more to
recall back to the friends of such representations, that complete
delineation composed from the very depths of her soul. Owing to the
very peculiar course which she had taken from her youth upwards, the
distinguished rank in which she had been born and educated, and the
liveliness and originality of her mind, she did not agree very well
with the other ladies who had set out on the same road to salvation.
Frau Griesbach, the chief of them, seemed too severe, too dry, too
learned; she knew, thought, comprehended more than the others, who
contented themselves with the development of their feelings, and she
was therefore burdensome to them, because every one neither could nor
would carry with her so great an apparatus on the road to bliss. But
for this reason the most of them were indeed somewhat monotonous,
since they confined themselves to a certain terminology which might
well have been compared to that of the later sentimentalists. Fräulein
von Klettenberg led her way between both extremes, and seemed, with
some self-complacency, to see her own reflection in the image of Count
Zinzendorf, whose opinions and actions bore witness to a higher birth
and more distinguished rank. Now she found in me what she needed,
a lively young creature, striving after an unknown happiness, who,
although he could not think himself an extraordinary sinner, yet found
himself in no comfortable condition, and was perfectly healthy neither
in body nor soul. She was delighted with what nature had given me, as
well as with much which I had gained for myself. And if she conceded to
me many advantages, this was by no means humiliating to her: for, in
the first place, she never thought of emulating one of the male sex,
and secondly, she believed that in regard to religious culture she was
very much in advance of me. My disquiet, my impatience, my striving,
my seeking, investigating, musing, and wavering, she interpreted in
her own way, and did not conceal from me her conviction, but assured
me in plain terms that all this proceeded from my having no reconciled
God. Now I had believed from my youth upwards that I stood on very good
terms with my God, nay, I even fancied to myself, according to various
experiences, that He might even be in arrears to me; and I was daring
enough to think that I had something to forgive Him. This presumption
was grounded on my infinite good-will, to which, as it seemed to me,
He should have given better assistance. It may be imagined how often
I and my female friend fell into disputes on this subject, which,
however, always terminated in the friendliest way, and often, like
my conversations with the old rector, with the remark: "that I was a
foolish fellow, for whom many allowances must be made."

I was much troubled with the tumour in my neck, as the physician and
surgeon wished first to disperse this excrescence, afterwards, as they
said, to draw it to a head, and at last thought good to open it; so for
a long time I had to sutler more from inconvenience than pain, although
towards the end of the cure, the continual touching with lunar caustic
and other corrosive substances could not but give me very disagreeable
prospects for every fresh day. The physician and surgeon both belonged
to the Pious Separatists, although both were of highly different
natural characters. The surgeon, a slender, well-built man, of easy
and skilful hand, was unfortunately somewhat hectic, but endured his
condition with truly Christian patience, and did not suffer his disease
to perplex him in his profession. The physician was an inexplicable,
sly-looking, friendly-speaking, and, moreover, abstruse man, who had
gained himself quite a peculiar confidence in the pious circle. Active
and attentive, he was consoling to the sick; but, more than by all
this, he extended his practice by the gift of showing in the background
some mysterious medicines prepared by himself, of which no one could
speak, since, with us, the physicians were strictly prohibited from
making up their own prescriptions. With certain powders, which may have
been some kind of digestive, he was not so reserved; but that powerful
salt, which could only be applied in the greatest danger, was only
mentioned among believers, although no one had yet seen it or traced
its effects. To excite and strengthen our faith in the possibility
of such an universal remedy, the physician, wherever he found any
susceptibility, had recommended certain chemico-alchemical books to
his patients, and given them to understand that by one's own study of
them, one could well attain this treasure for oneself; which was the
more necessary, as the mode of its preparation, both for physical and
especially for moral reasons, could not be well communicated; nay,
that in order to comprehend, produce and use this great work, one must
know the secrets of nature in connexion, since it was not a particular
but an universal remedy, and could indeed be produced under different
forms and shapes. My friend had listened to these enticing words. The
health of the body was too nearly allied to the health of the soul;
and could a greater benefit, a greater mercy be shown towards others,
than by appropriating to oneself a remedy by which so many sufferings
could be assuaged, so many a danger averted? She had already secretly
studied Welling's _Opus mago-cabalisticum_, for which, however, as the
author himself immediately darkens and removes the light he imparts,
she was looking about for a friend who, in this alternation of glare
and gloom, might bear her company. It needed small incitement to
inoculate me also with this disease. I procured the work, which, like
all writings of this kind, could trace its pedigree in a direct line
up to the Neo-Platonic school. My chief labour in this book was most
accurately to notice the dark hints by which the author refers from one
passage to another, and thus promises to reveal what he conceals; and
to mark down on the margin the number of the page where such passages
as should explain each other were to be found. But even thus the book
still remained dark and unintelligible enough; except that one at
last studied oneself into a certain terminology, and, by using it
according to one's own fancy, believed that one was at any rate saying,
if not understanding, something. The before-mentioned work makes
very honourable mention of its predecessors, and we were incited to
investigate those original sources themselves. We turned to the works
of Theophrastus, Paracelsus and Basilius Valentinus; as well as to
those of Helmont, Starkey, and others whose doctrines and directions,
resting more or less on nature and imagination, we endeavoured to
see into and follow out. I was particularly pleased with the _Aurea
Catena Homeri_, in which nature, though perhaps in fantastical
fashion, is represented in a beautiful combination; and thus sometimes
by ourselves, sometimes together, we employed much time on these
singularities, and spent the evenings of a long winter, during which I
was compelled to keep my chamber, very agreeably, since we three, my
mother being included, were more delighted with these secrets than we
could have been at their elucidation.

[Side-note: Alchemical Turn.]

In the meantime a very severe trial was preparing for me; for a
disturbed, and one might even say, for certain moments, destroyed
digestion, excited such symptoms that, in great tribulation, I thought
I should lose my life, and none of the remedies applied would produce
any further effect. In this last extremity, my distressed mother
constrained the embarrassed physician with the greatest vehemence
to come out with his universal medicine; after a long refusal, he
hastened home at the dead of night, and returned with a little glass of
crystallized dry salt, which was dissolved in water, and swallowed by
the patient. It had a decidedly alkaline taste. The salt was scarcely
taken than my situation appeared relieved, and from that moment the
disease took a turn which, by degrees, led to my recovery. I cannot say
how far this strengthened and enhanced our faith in our physician, and
our industry to make ourselves partakers of such a treasure.

My friend, who, without parents or brothers and sisters, lived in a
large, well-situated house, had already before this begun to purchase
herself a little air-furnace, alembics and retorts of moderate size;
and, in accordance with the hints of Welling, and the significant signs
of our physician and master, operated principally on iron, in which the
most healing powers were said to be concealed, if one only knew how to
open it. And as the volatile salt which must be produced made a great
figure in all the writings with which we were acquainted, so, for these
operations, alkalies also were required, which, while they flowed away
into the air, were to unite with these super-terrestrial things, and at
last produce _per se_, a mysterious and excellent neutral salt.

Scarcely was I in some measure recovered, and, favoured by the change
in the season, able once more to occupy my old gable-chamber, than
I also began to provide myself with a little apparatus. A small
air-furnace with a sand-bath was prepared, and I very soon learned to
change the glass alembics, with a piece of burning match-cord, into
vessels in which the different mixtures were to be evaporated. Now
were the strange ingredients of the macrocosm and microcosm handled
in an odd, mysterious manner, and before all I attempted to produce
neutral salts in an unheard-of way. But what busied me most, for a long
time, was the so-called _Liquor Silicum_ (flint-juice), which is made
by melting down pure quartz-flint with a proper proportion of alkali,
whence results a transparent glass, which melts away on exposure to the
air, and exhibits a beautiful clear fluidity. Whoever has once prepared
this himself, and seen it with his own eyes, will not blame those who
believe in a maiden earth, and in the possibility of producing further
effects upon it by means of it. I had acquired a peculiar dexterity
in preparing this _Liquor Silicum_; the fine white flints which are
found in the Maine furnished a perfect material for it; and I was not
wanting in the other requisites, nor in diligence. But I became weary
at last, because I could not but remark that the flinty substance was
by no means so closely combined with the salt as I had philosophically
imagined; for it very easily separated itself again, and this most
beautiful mineral fluidity, which, to my greatest astonishment, had
sometimes appeared in the form of an animal jelly, always deposited
a powder, which I was forced to pronounce the finest flint dust, but
which gave not the least sign of anything productive in its nature,
from which one could have hoped to see this maiden earth pass into the
maternal state.

Strange and unconnected as these operations were, I yet learned many
things from them. I paid strict attention to all the crystallizations
that might occur, and became acquainted with the external forms of
many natural things, and inasmuch as I well knew that in modern times
chemical subjects were treated more methodically, I wished to get a
general conception of them, although, as a half-adept, I had very
little respect for the apothecaries and all those who operated with
common fire. However, the chemical _Compendium_ of Boerhaave attracted
me powerfully, and led me on to read several of his writings, in which
(since, moreover, my tedious illness had inclined me towards medical
subjects,) I found an inducement to study also the _Aphorisms_ of this
excellent man, which I was glad to stamp upon my mind and in my memory.

[Side-note: Character of the Letters from Leipzig.]

Another employment, somewhat more human, and by far more useful for
my cultivation at the moment, was reading through the letters which I
had written home from Leipzig. Nothing reveals more with respect to
ourselves, than when we again see before us that which has proceeded
from us years before, so that we can now consider ourselves as an
object of contemplation. Only, in truth, I was then too young, and the
epoch which was represented by those papers was still too near. As
in our younger years we do not in general easily cast off a certain
self-complacent conceit, this especially shows itself in despising what
we have been but a little time before; for while, indeed, we perceive,
as we advance from step to step, that those things which we regard as
good and excellent in ourselves and others do not stand their ground,
we think we can best extricate ourselves from this dilemma by ourselves
throwing away what we cannot preserve. So it was with me also. For as
in Leipzig I had gradually learned to set little value on my childish
labours, so now my academical course seemed to me likewise of small
account, and I did not understand that for this very reason it must
be of great value to me, as it elevated me to a higher degree of
observation and insight. My father had carefully collected and sewed
together my letters to him, as well as those to my sister; nay, he had
even corrected them with attention, and improved the mistakes both in
writing and in grammar.

What first struck me in these letters was their exterior; I was shocked
at an incredible carelessness in the handwriting, which extended
from October, 1765, to the middle of the following January. But, in
the middle of March, there appeared all at once a quite compressed,
orderly hand, such as I used formerly to employ in writing for a prize.
My astonishment at this resolved itself into gratitude towards the
good Gellert, who, as I now well remembered, whenever we handed in our
essays to him, represented to us, in his hearty tone of voice, that
it was our sacred duty to practise our hand as much, nay, more than
our style. He repeated this as often as any scrawled, careless writing
came into his sight; on which occasion he often said that he would
much like to make a good hand of his pupils the principal end in his
instructions; the more so as he had often remarked that a good hand led
the way to a good style.

I could further notice that the French and English passages in my
letters, although not free from blunders, were nevertheless written
with facility and freedom. These languages I had likewise continued
to practise in my correspondence with George Schlosser, who was still
at Treptow, and I had remained in constant communication with him, by
which I was instructed in many secular affairs (for things did not
always turn out with him quite as he had hoped), and acquired an ever
increasing confidence in his earnest, noble way of thinking.

Another consideration which could not escape me in reading through
these letters, was that my good hither, with the best intentions, had
done me a special mischief, and had led me into that odd way of life
into which I had fallen at last. He had, namely, repeatedly warned me
against card-playing; but Frau Hofrath Böhme, as long as she lived,
contrived to persuade me, after her own fashion, by declaring that
my father's warnings were only against the abuse. Now as I likewise
saw the advantages of it in society, I easily suffered myself to be
led by her. I had indeed the sense of play, but not the spirit of
play; I learned all games easily and rapidly, but I could never keep
up the proper attention for a whole evening. Therefore, when I began
very well, I invariably failed at the end, and made myself and others
lose; through which I went off, always out of humour, either to the
supper-table or out of the company. Scarcely was Madame Böhme dead,
who, moreover, had no longer kept me in practice during her tedious
illness, than my father's doctrine gained force; I at first excused
myself from the card-tables, and as they now did not know what else
to do with me, I became even more of a burden to myself than to
others, and declined the imitations, which then became more rare,
and at last ceased altogether. Play, which is much to be recommended
to young people, especially to those who have a practical sense, and
wish to look about in the world for themselves, could never, indeed,
become a passion with me; for I never got further, though I might
play as long as I would. Had any one given me a general view of the
subject, and made me observe how here certain signs and more or less
of chance form a kind of material on which judgment and activity can
exercise themselves--had any one made me see several games at once,
I might sooner have become reconciled. With all this, at the time of
which I am now speaking, I had come to the conviction, from the above
considerations, that one should not avoid social games, but should
rather strive after a certain dexterity in them. Time is infinitely
long, and each day is a vessel into which a great deal may be poured,
if one will actually fill it up.

[Side-note: Taste for Drawing Revived.]

Thus variously was I occupied in my solitude; the more so, as the
departed spirits of the different tastes to which I had from time to
time devoted myself, had an opportunity to reappear. I thus went again
to drawing; and as I always wished to labour directly from nature,
or rather from reality, I made a picture of my chamber, with its
furniture, and the persons who were in it; and when this no more amused
me, I represented all sorts of town-tales, which were told at the time,
and in which interest was taken. All this was not without character and
a certain taste, but unfortunately the figures lacked proportion and
the proper vigour, besides which the execution was extremely misty. Sly
father, who continued to take pleasure in these things, wished to have
them more distinct; everything must be finished and properly completed.
He therefore had them mounted and surrounded with ruled lines; nay, the
painter Morgenstern, his domestic artist--the same who afterwards made
himself known, and indeed famous, by his church-views--had to insert
the perspective lines of the rooms and chambers, which then, indeed,
stood in pretty harsh contrast with those cloudy-looking figures. In
this manner he thought constantly to compel me to greater accuracy,
and, to please him, I drew various objects of still life, in which,
since the originals stood as patterns before me, I could work with more
distinctness and precision. At last I took it into my head to etch
once more. I had composed a tolerably interesting landscape, and felt
myself very happy when I could look out for the old receipts given me
by Stock, and could, at my work, call to mind those pleasant times. I
soon bit the plate and had a proof taken. Unluckily the composition
was without light and shade, and I now tormented myself to bring
in both; but as it was not quite clear** to me what was really the
essential point, I could not finish. Up to this time I had been quite
well, after my own fashion; but now a disease attacked me which had
never troubled me before. My throat, namely, had become completely
sore, and particularly what is called the _uvula_ very much inflamed;
I could only swallow with great pain, and the physicians did not know
what to make of it. They tormented me with gargles and hair-pencils,
but could not free me from my misery. At last it struck me that I had
not been careful enough in the biting of my plates, and that by often
and passionately repeating it, I had contracted this disease, and had
always revived and increased it. To the physicians this cause was
plausible and very soon certain on my leaving my etching and biting,
and that so much the more readily as the attempt had by no means
turned out well, and I had more reason to conceal than to exhibit my
labours; for which I consoled myself the more easily, as I very soon
saw myself free from the troublesome disease. Upon this I could not
refrain from the reflection that my similar occupations at Leipzig
might have greatly contributed to those diseases from which I had
suffered so much. It is, indeed, a tedious, and withal a melancholy
business to take too much care of ourselves, and of what injures and
benefits us; but there is no question but that with the wonderful
idiosyncrasy of human nature on the one side, and the infinite variety
in the mode of life and pleasure on the other, it is a wonder that
the human race has not worn itself out long ago. Human nature appears
to possess a peculiar kind of toughness and many-sidedness, since it
subdues everything which approaches it, or which it takes into itself,
and if it cannot assimilate, at least makes it indifferent. In case
of any great excess, indeed, it must yield to the elements in spite
of all resistance, as the many endemic diseases and the effects of
brandy convince us. Could we, without being morbidly anxious, keep
watch over ourselves as to what operates favourably or unfavourably
upon us in our complicated civil and social life, and would we leave
off what is actually pleasant to us as an enjoyment, for the sake of
the evil consequences, we should thus know how to remove with ease many
an inconvenience which, with a constitution otherwise sound, often
troubles us more than even a disease. Unfortunately, it is in dietetics
as in morals; we cannot see into a fault till we have got rid of it; by
which nothing is gained, for the next fault is not like the preceding
one, and therefore cannot be recognised under the same form.

[Side-note: Survey of Works Written at Leipzig.]

In reading through those letters which had been written from Leipzig
to my sister, this remark, among others, could not escape me,--that
from the very beginning of my academical course, I had esteemed myself
very clever and wise, since, as soon as I had learned anything, I put
myself in the place of the professor, and so became didactic on the
spot. I was amused to see how I had immediately applied to my sister
whatever Gellert had imparted or advised in his lectures, without
seeing that both in life and in books, a thing may be proper for a
young man without being suitable for a young lady; and we both together
made merry over these mimicries. The poems also which I had composed
in Leipzig were already too poor for me; and they seemed to me cold,
dry, and in respect to that which was meant to express the state of the
human heart or mind, too superficial. This induced me, now that I was
to leave my father's house once more, and go to a second university,
again to decree a great high _auto-da-fé_ against my labours. Several
commenced plays, some of which had reached the third or the fourth act,
while others had only the plot fully made out, together with many other
poems, letters, and papers, were given over to the fire, and scarcely
anything was spared except the manuscript by Behrisch, _Die Laune des
Verliebten_ and _Die Mitschuldigen_, which last I constantly went
on improving with peculiar affection, and, as the piece was already
complete, I again worked over the plot, to make it more bustling and
intelligible. Lessing, in the first two acts of his _Minna_, had set up
an unattainable model of the way in which a drama should be developed,
and nothing was to me of greater concern than to enter thoroughly into
his mind and his views.

The recital of whatever moved, excited, and occupied me at this time,
is already circumstantial enough; but I must nevertheless again recur
to that interest with which super-sensuous things had inspired me, of
which I, once for all, so far as might be possible, undertook to form
some notion.

I experienced a great influence from an important work that fell into
my hands; it was Arnold's _History of the Church and of Heretics._
This man is not merely a reflective historian, but at the same time
pious and feeling. His sentiments chimed in very well with mine, and
what particularly delighted me in his work was, that I received a more
favourable notion of many heretics, who had been hitherto represented
to me as mad or impious. The spirit of contradiction and the love of
paradoxes stick fast in us all. I diligently studied the different
opinions, and as I had often enough heard it said that every man has
his own religion at last, so nothing seemed more natural to me than
that I should form mine too, and this I did with much satisfaction. The
Neo-Platonism lay at the foundation: the hermetical, the mystical, the
cabalistic, also contributed their share, and thus I built for myself a
world that looked strange enough.

[Side-note: Concoction of a System of Theology.]

I could well represent to myself a Godhead which has gone on producing
itself from all eternity; but as production cannot be conceived without
multiplicity, so it must of necessity have immediately appeared to
itself as a Second, which we recognise under the name of the Son;
now these two must continue the act of producing, and again appear
to themselves in a Third, which was just as substantial, living, and
eternal as the Whole. With these, however, the circle of the Godhead
was complete, and it would not have been possible for them to produce
another perfectly equal to them. But since, however, the work of
production always proceeded, they created a fourth, which already
fostered in himself a contradiction, inasmuch as it was, like them,
unlimited, and yet at the same time was to be contained in them and
bounded by them. Now this was Lucifer, to whom the whole power of
creation was committed from this time, and from whom all other beings
were to proceed. He immediately displayed his infinite activity by
creating the whole body of angels; all, again, after his own likeness,
unlimited, but contained in him and bounded by him. Surrounded by such
a glory, he forgot his higher origin, and believed that he could
find himself in himself, and from this first ingratitude sprang all
that does not seem to us in accordance with the will and purposes of
the Godhead. Now the more he concentrated himself within himself, the
more painful must it have become to him, as well as to all the spirits
whose sweet uprising to their origin he had embittered. And so that
happened which is intimated to us under the form of the Fall of the
Angels. One part of them concentrated itself with Lucifer, the other
turned itself again to its origin. From this concentration of the
whole creation, for it had proceeded out of Lucifer, and was forced
to follow him, sprang all that we perceive under the form of matter,
which we figure to ourselves as heavy, solid, and dark, but which,
since it is descended, if not even immediately, yet by filiation, from
the Divine Being, is just as unlimited, powerful, and eternal as its
sire and grandsire. Since now the whole mischief, if we may call it so,
merely arose through the one-sided direction of Lucifer, the better
half was indeed wanting to this creation; for it possessed all that
is gained by concentration, while it lacked all that can be effected
by expansion alone; and so the whole creation could have destroyed
itself by everlasting concentration, could have annihilated itself with
its father Lucifer, and have lost all its claims to an equal eternity
with the Godhead. This condition the Elohim contemplated for a time,
and they had their choice, to wait for those Æons, in which the field
would again have become clear, and space would be left them for a new
creation; or, if they would, to seize upon that which existed already,
and supply the want, according to their own eternity. Now they chose
the latter, and by their mere will supplied in an instant the whole
want which the consequence of Lucifer's undertaking drew after it. They
gave to the Eternal Being the faculty of expanding itself, of moving
itself towards them; the peculiar pulse of life was again restored,
and Lucifer himself could not avoid its effects. This is the epoch
when that appeared which we know as light, and when that began which
we are accustomed to designate by the word creation. Greatly now as
this multiplied itself by progressive degrees, through the continually
working vital power of the Elohim, still a being was wanting who might
be able to restore the original connexion with the Godhead; and thus
man was produced, who in all things was to be similar, yea, equal to
the Godhead; but thereby, in effect, found himself once more in the
situation of Lucifer, that of being at once unlimited and bounded;
and, since this contradiction was to manifest itself in him through
all the categories of existence, and a perfect consciousness, as well
as a decided will, was to accompany his various conditions, it was
to be foreseen that he must be at the same time the most perfect and
the most imperfect, the most happy and the most unhappy creature. It
was not long before he, too, completely played the part of Lucifer.
True ingratitude is the separation from the benefactor, and thus that
fall was manifest for the second time, although the whole creation
is nothing and was nothing but a falling from and returning to the

One easily sees how the Redemption is not only decreed from eternity,
but is considered as eternally necessary, nay, that it must ever
renew itself through the whole time of generation[4] and existence.
In this view of the subject, nothing is more natural than for the
Divinity himself to take the form of man, which had already prepared
itself as a veil, and to share his fate for a short time, in order,
by this assimilation, to enhance his joys and alleviate his sorrows.
The history of all religions and philosophies teaches us that this
great truth, indispensable for man, has been handed down by different
nations, in different times, in various ways, and even in strange
fables and images, in accordance with their limited knowledge; enough,
if it only be acknowledged that we find ourselves in a condition
which, even if it seems to drag us down and oppress us, yet gives
us opportunity, nay, even makes it our duty, to raise ourselves up,
and to fulfil the purposes of the Godhead in this manner, that while
we are compelled on the one hand to concentrate ourselves (_uns zu
verselbsten_), we, on the other hand, do not omit to expand ourselves
(_uns zu entselbstigen_) in regular pulsation.[5]

[1] "Bildende und Redende Kunst." The expression "speaking art " is
used to produce a corresponding antithesis, though "_belles lettres_"
would be the ordinary rendering.--_Trans._

[2] "Pratische Philosophen, bewusstlose Weltweisen." It is impossible
to give two substantives, as in the original, since this is effected by
using first the word of Greek, then the word of German origin, whereas
we have but one.--_Trans._

[3] Winckelmann was assassinated---_Trans._

[4] "Das Werden," the state of becoming, as distinguished from that
of being. The word, which is most useful to the Germans, can never be
rendered properly in English.--_Trans._

[5] If we could make use of some such verbs as "inself" and "unself,"
we should more accurately render this passage.--_Trans._.


"The heart is often affected, moreover, to the advantage of different,
but especially of social and refined virtues, and the more tender
sentiments are excited and unfolded in it. Many touches, in particular,
will impress themselves, which give the young reader an insight into
the more hidden corner of the human heart and its passions--a knowledge
which is more worth than all Latin and Greek, and of which Ovid was
a very excellent master. But yet it is not on this account that the
classic poets, and therefore Ovid, are placed in the hands of youth.
We have from the kind Creator a variety of mental powers, to which we
must not neglect giving their proper culture in our earliest years, and
which cannot be cultivated either by logic or metaphysics, Latin or
Greek. We have an imagination, before which, since it should not seize
upon the very first conceptions that chance to present themselves, we
ought to place the fittest and most beautiful images, and thus accustom
and practise the mind to recognise and love the beautiful everywhere,
and in nature itself, under its determined, true, and also in its finer
features. A great quantity of conceptions and general knowledge is
necessary to us, as well for the sciences as for daily life, which can
be learned out of no compendium. Our feelings, affections, and passions
should be advantageously developed and purified."

This significant passage, which is found in the _Universal German
Library_, was not the only one of its kind. Similar principles and
similar views manifested themselves in many directions. They made
upon us lively youths a very great impression, which had the more
decided effect, as it was strengthened besides by Wieland's example;
for the works of his second brilliant period clearly showed that he
had formed himself according to such maxims. And what more could we
desire? Philosophy, with its abstruse questions, was set aside--the
classic languages, the acquisition of which is accompanied by so much
drudgery, one saw thrust into the background--the compendiums, about
the sufficiency of which Handel had already whispered a doubtful word
into the ear, came more and more into suspicion. We were directed
to the contemplation of an active life, which we were so fond of
leading, and to the knowledge of the passions which we partly felt,
partly anticipated, in our own bosoms, and which, if though they had
been rebuked formerly, now appeared to us as something important and
dignified, because they were to be the chief object of our studies,
and the knowledge of them was extolled as the most excellent means of
cultivating our mental powers. Besides this, such a mode of thought was
quite in accordance with my own conviction, nay, with my poetical mode
of treatment. I therefore, without opposition, after I had thwarted
so many good designs, and seen so many fair hopes vanish, reconciled
myself to my father's intention of sending me to Strasburg, where I was
promised a cheerful, gay life, while I should prosecute my studies, and
at last take my degree.

In spring I felt my health, but still more my youthful spirits, again
restored, and once more longed to be out of my father's house, though
with reasons far different from those on the first time. The pretty
chambers and spots where I had suffered so much had become disagreeable
to me, and with my father himself there could be no pleasant relation.
I could not quite pardon him for having manifested more impatience
than was reasonable at the relapse of my disease, and at my tedious
recovery; nay, for having, instead of comforting me by forbearance,
frequently expressed himself in a cruel manner, about that which lay in
no man's hand, as if it depended only on the will. And he, too, was in
various ways hurt and offended by me.

For young people bring back from the university general ideas, which,
indeed, is quite right and good; but because they fancy themselves very
wise in this, they apply them as a standard to the objects that occur,
which must then, for the most part, lose by the comparison. Thus I had
gained a general notion of architecture, and of the arrangement and
decoration of houses, and imprudently, in conversation, had applied
this to our own house. My father had designed the whole arrangement
of it, and carried through the building with great perseverance, and,
considering that it was to be exclusively a residence for himself
and his family, nothing could be objected to it; in this taste, also,
very many of the houses in Frankfort were built. An open staircase
ran up through the house, and touched upon large ante-rooms, which
might very well have been chambers themselves, as, indeed, we always
passed the tine season in them. But this pleasant, cheerful existence
for a single family--this communication from above to below--became
the greatest inconvenience as soon as several parties occupied the
house, as we had but too well experienced on the occasion of the
French quartering. For that painful scene with the king's lieutenant
would not have happened, nay, my father would even have felt all those
disagreeable matters less, if, after the Leipzig fashion, our staircase
had run close along the side of the house, and a separate door had been
given to each story. This style of building I once praised highly for
its advantages, and showed my father the possibility of altering his
staircase also; whereupon he fell into an incredible passion, which was
the more violent as, a short time before, I had found fault with some
scrolled looking-glass frames, and rejected certain Chinese hangings.
A scene ensued, which, indeed, was again hushed up and smothered, but
it hastened my journey to the beautiful Alsace, which I accomplished
in the newly-contrived comfortable diligence, without delay, and in a
short time.

I alighted at the Ghost (_Geist_) tavern, and hastened at once to
satisfy my most earnest desire and to approach the minster, which
had long since been pointed out to me by fellow-travellers, and had
been before my eyes for a great distance. When I first perceived this
Colossus through the narrow lanes, and then stood too near before it,
in the truly confined little square, it made upon me an impression
quite of its own kind, which I, being unable to analyse it on the spot,
carried with me only indistinctly for this time, as I hastily ascended
the building, so as not to neglect the beautiful moment of a high and
cheerful sun, which was to disclose to me at once the broad, rich land.

[Side-note: Arrival at Strasburg.]

And now, from the platform, I saw before me the beautiful region in
which I should for a long time live and reside: the handsome city,
the wide-spreading meadows around it, thickly set and interwoven with
magnificent trees, that striking richness of vegetation which follows
in the windings of the Rhine, marks its banks, islands, and aits. Nor
is the level ground, stretching down from the south, and watered by
the Iller, less adorned with varied green. Even westward, towards the
mountains, there are many low grounds which afford quite as charming
a view of wood and meadow-growth, just as the northern and more hilly
part is intersected by innumerable little brooks, which promote a
rapid vegetation everywhere. If one imagines, between these luxuriant
outstretched meads, between these joyously scattered groves, all land
adapted for tillage, excellently prepared, verdant, and ripening,
and the best and richest spots marked by hamlets and farm-houses,
and this great and immeasurable plain, prepared for roan, like a new
paradise, bounded far and near by mountains partly cultivated, partly
overgrown with woods; one will then conceive the rapture with which I
blessed my fate, that it had destined me, for some time, so beautiful a

Such a fresh glance into a new land in which we are to abide for a
time, has still the peculiarity, both pleasant and foreboding, that the
whole lies before us like an unwritten tablet. As yet no sorrows and
joys which relate to ourselves are recorded upon it; this cheerful,
varied, animated plain is still mute for us; the eye is only fixed on
the objects so far as they are intrinsically important, and neither
affection nor passion have especially to render prominent this or that
spot. But a presentiment of the future already disquiets the young
heart, and an unsatisfied craving secretly demands that which is to
come and may come, and which, at all events, whether for good or ill,
will imperceptibly assume the character of the spot in which we find

Descended from the height, I still tarried awhile before the face of
the venerable pile; but what I could not quite clearly make out, either
the first or the following time, was that I regarded this miracle as a
monster, which must have terrified me, if it had not, at the same time,
appeared to me comprehensible by its regularity, and even pleasing in
its finish. Yet I by no means busied myself with meditating on this
contradiction, but suffered a monument so astonishing quietly to work
upon me by its presence.

[Side-note: Meyer.]

I took small, but well-situated and pleasant lodgings, on the summer
side of the Fish-market, a fine long street, where the everlasting
motion came to the assistance of every unoccupied moment. I then
delivered my letters of introduction, and found among my patrons a
merchant who, with his family, was devoted to those pious opinions
sufficiently known to me, although, as far as regarded external
worship, he had not separated from the Church. He was a man of
intelligence withal, and by no means hypocritical in his actions. The
company of boarders which was recommended to me, and, indeed, I to
it, was very agreeable and entertaining. A couple of old maids had
long kept up this boarding-house with regularity and good success;
there might have been about ten persons, older and younger. Of these
latter, one named MEYER, a native of Lindau, is most vividly present
to me. From his form and face he might have been considered one of the
handsomest of men, if, at the same time, he had not had something of
the sloven in his whole appearance. In like manner his splendid natural
talents were deformed by an incredible levity, and his excellent temper
by an unbounded dissoluteness. He had an open, joyous face, more round
than oval; the organs of the senses, the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears,
could be called rich; they showed a decided fulness, without being too
large. The mouth was particularly charming, from the curling lips,
and his whole physiognomy had the peculiar expression of a rake, from
the circumstance that his eyebrows met across his nose, which, in a
handsome face, always produces a pleasant expression of sensuality. By
his jovialness, sincerity, and good-nature, he made himself beloved
by all. His memory was incredible; attention at the lectures cost him
nothing; he retained all that he heard, and was intellectual enough to
take some interest in everything, and this the more easily, as he was
studying medicine. All impressions remained lively with him, and his
waggery in repeating the lectures and mimicking the professors often
went so far, that when he had heard three different lectures in one
morning, he would, at the dinner-table, interchange the professors
with each other, paragraphwise, and often even more abruptly, which
parti-coloured lecture frequently entertained us, but often, too,
became troublesome.

The rest were more or less polite, steady, serious people. A pensioned
knight of the order of St. Louis was one of these; but the majority
were students, all really good and well-disposed, only they were not
allowed to go beyond their usual allowance of wine. That this should
not be easily done was the care of our president, one Doctor SALZMANN.
Already in the sixties and unmarried, he had attended this dinner-table
for many years, and maintained its good order and respectability. He
possessed a handsome property, kept himself close and neat in his
exterior, even belonging to those who always go in shoes and stockings,
and with their hat under their arm. To put on the hat, was with him
an extraordinary action. He commonly carried an umbrella, wisely
reflecting that the finest summer-days often bring thunderstorms and
passing showers over the country.

With this man I talked over my design of continuing to study
jurisprudence at Strasburg, so as to be able to take my degree as soon
as possible. Since he was exactly informed of everything, I asked
him about the lectures I should have to hear, and what he generally
thought of the matter. To this he replied, that it was not in Strasburg
as in the German universities, where they try to educate jurists in
the large and learned sense of the term. Here, in conformity with the
relation towards France, all was really directed to the practical, and
managed in accordance with the opinions of the French, who readily
stop at what is given. They tried to impart to every one certain
general principles and preliminary knowledge, they compressed as much
as possible, and communicated only what was most necessary. Hereupon
he made me acquainted with a man, in whom, as a _Repetent_,[1] great
confidence was entertained; which he very soon managed to gain from me
also. By way of introduction, I began to speak with him on subjects
of jurisprudence, and he wondered not a little at my swaggering; for
during my residence at Leipzig, I had gained more of an insight into
the requisites for the law than I have hitherto taken occasion to state
in my narrative, though all I had acquired could only be reckoned as a
general encyclopedical survey, and not as proper definite knowledge.
University life, even if in the course of it we may not have to boast
of our own proper industry, nevertheless affords endless advantages in
every kind of cultivation, because we are always surrounded by men who
either possess or are seeking science, so that, even if unconsciously,
we are constantly drawing some nourishment from such an atmosphere.

[Side-note: Taste for Medical Studies.]

My repetent, after he had had patience with my rambling discourse for
some time, gave me at last to understand that I must first of all
keep my immediate object in view, which was, to be examined, to take
my degree, and then, perchance, to commence practice. "In order to
stand the first," said he, "the subject is by no means investigated
at large. It is inquired how and when a law arose, and what gave the
internal or external occasion for it; there is no inquiry as to how
it has been altered by time and custom, or how far it has perhaps
been perverted by false interpretation or the perverted usage of the
courts. It is in such investigations that learned men quite peculiarly
spend their lives; but we inquire after that which exists at present,
this we stamp firmly on our memory, that it may always be ready when
we wish to employ it for the use and defence of our clients. Thus we
qualify our young people for their future life, and the rest follows in
proportion to their talents and activity." Hereupon he handed me his
pamphlets, which were written in question and answer, and in which I
could have stood a pretty good examination at once, for Hopp's smaller
law-catechism was yet perfectly in my memory; the rest I supplied with
some diligence, and, against my will, qualified myself in the easiest
manner as a candidate.

But since in this way all my own activity in the study was cut
off,--for I had no sense for anything positive, but wished to have
everything explained historically, if not intelligibly--I found for my
powers a wider field, which I employed in the most singular manner by
devoting myself to a matter of interest which was accidently presented
to me from without.

Most of my fellow-boarders were medical students. These, as is well
known, are the only students who zealously converse about their
science and profession even out of the hours of study. This lies in
the nature of the case. The objects of their endeavours are the most
obvious to the senses, and at the same time the highest, the most
simple and the most complicated. Medicine employs the whole man, for
it occupies itself with the whole man. All that the young man learns
refers directly to an important, dangerous indeed, but yet in many
respects lucrative practice. He therefore devotes himself passionately
to whatever is to be known and to be done, partly because it is
interesting in itself, partly because it opens to him the joyous
prospect of independence and wealth.

At table then I heard nothing but medical conversations, just as
formerly in the boarding-house of Hofrath Ludwig. In our walks and in
our pleasure-parties likewise not much else was talked about; for my
fellow-boarders, like good fellows, had also become my companions at
other times, and they were always joined on all sides by persons of
like minds and like studies. The medical faculty in general shone above
the others, with respect both to the celebrity of the professors and
the number of the students, and I was the more easily borne along by
the stream, as I had just so much knowledge of all these things that
my desire for science could soon be increased and inflamed. At the
commencement of the second half-year, therefore, I attended a course on
chemistry by Spielmann, another on anatomy by Lobstein, and proposed
to be right industrious, because by my singular preliminary or rather
extra knowledge, I had already gained some respect and confidence in
our society.

[Side-note: Preparations for Reception of Marie Antoinette.]

Yet this dissipation and dismemberment of my studies was not enough,
they were to be once more seriously disturbed; for a remarkable
political event set everything in motion, and procured us a tolerable
succession of holidays. Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria and
Queen of France, was to pass through Strasburg on her road to Paris.
The solemnities by which the people are made to take notice that there
is greatness in the world, were busily and abundantly prepared, and
especially remarkable to me was the building which stood on an island
in the Rhine between the two bridges, erected for her reception and
for surrendering her into the hands of her husband's ambassadors. It
was but slightly elevated above the ground, had in the centre a grand
saloon, on each side smaller ones; then followed other chambers, which
extended somewhat backwards. Enough, had it been more durably built,
it might have answered very well as a pleasure-house for persons
of rank. But that which particularly interested me, and for which I
did not grudge many a _büsel_ (a little silver coin then current)
in order to procure a repeated entrance from the porter, was the
embroidered tapestry with which they had lined the whole interior.
Here, for the first time, I saw a specimen of those tapestries worked
after Raffaelle's cartoons, and this sight was for me of very decided
influence, as I became acquainted with the true and the perfect on
a large scale, though only in copies. I went and came, and came
and went, and could not satiate myself with looking; nay, a vain
endeavour troubled me, because I would willingly have comprehended what
interested me in so extraordinary a manner. I found these side-chambers
highly delightful and refreshing, but the chief saloon so much the
more shocking. This had been hung with many larger, more brilliant and
richer hangings, which were surrounded with crowded ornaments, worked
after pictures by the modern French.

Now I might perhaps have reconciled myself to this style also, as my
feelings, like my judgment, did not readily reject anything entirely;
but the subject was excessively revolting to me. These pictures
contained the history of Jason, Medea, and Creusa, and therefore an
example of the most unhappy marriage. To the left of the throne was
seen the bride struggling with the most horrible death, surrounded
by persons full of sympathizing woe; to the right was the father,
horrified at the murdered babes before his feet; whilst the Fury, in
her dragon-car, drove along into the air. And that the horrible and
atrocious should not lack something absurd, the white tail of that
magic bull flourished out on the right-hand from behind the red velvet
of the gold-embroidered back of the throne, while the fire-spitting
beast himself, and the Jason who was fighting with him, were completely
covered by the sumptuous drapery.

Here all the maxims which I had made my own in Oeser's school were
stirring within my bosom. It was without proper selection and
judgment, to begin with, that Christ and the apostles were brought
into the side-halls of a nuptial building, and doubtless the size of
the chambers had guided the royal tapestry-keeper. This, however, I
willingly forgave, because it had turned out so much to my advantage;
but a blunder like that in the grand saloon put me altogether out
of my self-possession, and with animation and vehemence I called
on my comrades to witness such a crime against taste and feeling.
"What!" cried I, without regarding the bystanders, "is it permitted
so thoughtlessly to place before the eyes of a young queen, at her
first setting foot in her dominions, the representation of the most
horrible marriage that perhaps was ever consummated! Is there then
among the French architects, decorators, upholsterers, not a single
man who understands that pictures represent something, that pictures
work upon the mind and feelings, that they make impressions, that they
excite forebodings! It is just the same as if they had sent the most
ghastly spectre to meet this beauteous and pleasure-loving lady at the
very frontiers!" I know not what I said besides; enough, my comrades
tried to quiet me and to remove me out of the house, that there might
be no offence. They then assured me that it was not everybody's concern
to look for significance in pictures; that to themselves, at least,
nothing of the sort would have occurred, while the whole population of
Strasburg and the vicinity which was to throng thither, would no more
take such crotchets into their heads than the queen herself and her

I yet remember well the beauteous and lofty mien, as cheerful as it was
imposing, of this youthful lady. Perfectly visible to us all in her
glass carriage, she seemed to be jesting with her female attendants,
in familiar conversation, about the throng that poured forth to meet
her train. In the evening we roamed through the streets to look at the
various illuminated buildings, but especially the glowing spire of
the minster, with which, both near and in the distance, we could not
sufficiently feast our eyes.

The queen pursued her way; the country people dispersed, and the city
was soon quiet as ever. Before the queen's arrival, the very rational
regulation had been made, that no deformed persons, no cripples nor
disgusting invalids, should show themselves on her route. People joked
about this, and I made a little French poem in which I compared the
advent of Christ, who seemed to wander upon the world particularly on
account of the sick and the lame, with the arrival of the queen, who
scared these unfortunates away. My friends let it pass; a Frenchman, on
the contrary, who lived with us, criticised the language and metre very
unmercifully, although, as it seemed, with too much foundation, and I
do not remember that I ever made a French poem afterwards.

[Side-note: Dreadful Accident at Paris.]

Scarcely had the news of the queen's happy arrival rung from the
capital, than it was followed by the horrible intelligence that, owing
to an oversight of the police during the festal fireworks, an infinite
number of persons, with horses and carriages, had been destroyed in
a street obstructed by building materials, and that the city, in the
midst of the nuptial solemnities, had been plunged into mourning and
sorrow. They attempted to conceal the extent of the misfortune, both
from the young royal pair and from the world, by burying the dead in
secret, so that many families were convinced only by the ceaseless
absence of their members that they, too, had been swept off by this
awful event. That, on this occasion, those ghastly figures in the grand
saloon again came vividly before my mind, I need scarcely mention; for
every one knows how powerful certain moral impressions are, when they
embody themselves, as it were, in those of the senses.

This occurrence was, however, destined moreover to place my friends in
anxiety and trouble by means of a prank in which I indulged. Among us
young people who had been at Leipzig, there had been maintained ever
afterwards a certain itch for imposing on and in some way mystifying
one another. With this wanton love of mischief I wrote to a friend in
Frankfort (he was the one who had amplified my poem on the cake-baker
Hendel, applied it to _Medon_, and caused its general circulation),
a letter dated from Versailles, in which I informed him of my happy
arrival there, my participation in the solemnities, and other things
of the kind, but at the same time enjoined the strictest secrecy. I
must here remark that, from the time of that trick which had caused us
so much annoyance, our little Leipzig society had accustomed itself
to persecute him from time to time with mystifications, and this
especially as he was the drollest man in the world, and was never
more amiable than when he was discovering the cheat into which he had
deliberately been led. Shortly after I had written this letter, I went
on a little journey and remained absent about a fortnight. Meanwhile
the news of that disaster had reached Frankfort; my friend believed me
in Paris, and his affection led him to apprehend that I might have been
involved in the calamity. He inquired of my parents and other persons
to whom I was accustomed to write, whether any letters had arrived,
and as it was just at the time when my journey kept me from sending
any, they were altogether wanting. He went about in the greatest
uneasiness, and at last told the matter in confidence to our nearest
friends, who were now in equal anxiety. Fortunately this conjecture did
not reach my parents until a letter had arrived, announcing my return
to Strasburg. My young friends were satisfied to learn that I was
alive, but remained firmly convinced that I had been at Paris in the
interim. The affectionate intelligence of the solicitude they had felt
on my account affected me so much that I vowed to leave off such tricks
for ever, but, unfortunately, I have often since allowed myself to be
guilty of something similar. Real life frequently loses its brilliancy
to such a degree, that one is many a time forced to polish it up again
with the varnish of fiction.

This mighty stream of courtly magnificence had now flowed by, and had
left in me no other longing than after those tapestries of Raffaelle,
which I would willingly have gazed at, revered, nay, adored, every day
and every hour. Fortunately, my passionate endeavours succeeded in
interesting several persons of consequence in them, so that they were
taken down and packed up as late as possible. We now gave ourselves up
again to our quiet, easy routine of the university and society, and
in the latter the Actuary Salzmann, president of our table, continued
to be the general pedagogue. His intelligence, complaisance, and
dignity, which he always contrived to maintain amid all the jests, and
often even in the little extravagances which he allowed us, made him
beloved and respected by the whole company, and I could mention but few
instances where he showed his serious displeasure, or interposed with
authority in little quarrels and disputes. Yet among them all I was
the one who most attached myself to him, and he was not less inclined
to converse with me, as he found me more variously accomplished than
the others, and not so one-sided in judgment. I also followed his
directions in external matters, so that he could, without hesitation,
publicly acknowledge me as his companion and comrade: for although
he only filled an office which seems to be of little influence, he
administered it in a manner which redounded to his highest honour.
He was actuary to the Court of Wards (_Pupillen-Collegium_), and
there, indeed, like the perpetual secretary of an university, he had,
properly speaking, the management of affairs in his own hands. Now
as he had conducted this business with the greatest exactness for
many years, there was no family, from the first to the last, which
did not owe him its gratitude; as indeed scarcely any one in the
whole administration of government can earn more blessings or more
curses than one who takes charge of the orphans, or, on the contrary,
squanders or suffers to be squandered their property and goods.

[Side-note: Strasburg Manners.]

The Strasburgers are passionate walkers, and they have a good
right to be so. Let one turn one's steps as one will, one finds
pleasure-grounds, partly natural, partly adorned by art in ancient and
modern times, all of them visited and enjoyed by a cheerful, merry
little people. But what made the sight of a great number of pedestrians
still more agreeable here than in other places, was the various costume
of the fair sex. The middle class of city girls yet retained the hair
twisted up and secured by a large pin; as well as a certain close style
of dress, in which anything like a train would have been unbecoming;
and the pleasant part of it was, that this costume did not differ
violently according to the rank of the wearer; for there were still
some families of opulence and distinction, who would not permit their
daughters to deviate from this costume. The rest followed the French
fashion, and this party made some proselytes every year. Salzmann
had many acquaintances and an entrance everywhere; a very pleasant
circumstance for his companion, especially in summer, for good company
and refreshment were found in all the public gardens far and near, and
more than one invitation for this or that pleasant day was received.
On one such occasion I found an opportunity to recommend myself very
rapidly to a family which I was visiting for only the second time.
We were invited, and arrived at the appointed hour. The company was
not large; some played and some walked as usual. Afterwards, when
they were to go to supper, I saw our hostess and her sister speaking
to each other with animation, and as if in a peculiar embarrassment.
I accosted them and said: "I have indeed no right, ladies, to force
myself into your secrets; but perhaps I may be able to give you good
council, or even to serve you." Upon this they disclosed to me their
painful dilemma: namely, that they had invited twelve persons to
table, and that just at that moment a relation had returned from a
journey, who now, as the thirteenth, would be a fatal _memento mori_,
if not for himself, yet certainly for some of the guests. "The case
is very easily mended," replied I; "permit me to take my leave, and
stipulate for indemnification." As they were persons of consequence and
good-breeding, they would by no means allow this, but sent about in the
neighbourhood to find a fourteenth. I suffered them to do so, yet when
I saw the servant coming in at the garden-gate without having effected
his errand, I stole away and spent my evening pleasantly under the old
linden-trees of the Wanzenau. That this self-denial was richly repaid
me was a very natural consequence.

A certain kind of general society is not to be thought of without
card-playing. Salzmann renewed the good instructions of Madame Böhme,
and I was the more docile as I had really seen that by this little
sacrifice, if it be one, one may procure oneself much pleasure, and
even a greater freedom in society than one would otherwise enjoy. The
old piquet, which had gone to sleep, was again looked out; I learned
whist; I made myself, according to the directions of my Mentor, a
card-purse, which was to remain untouched under all circumstances; and
I now found opportunity to spend most of my evenings with my friend in
the best circles, where, for the most part, they wished me well, and
pardoned many a little irregularity, to which, nevertheless, my friend,
though kindly enough, used to call my attention.

But that I might experience symbolically how much one, even in
externals, has to adapt oneself to society, and direct oneself
according to it, I was compelled to something which seemed to me the
most disagreeable thing in the world. I had really very fine hair, but
my Strasburg hair-dresser at once assured me that it was cut much too
short behind, and that it would be impossible to make a _frizure_ of
it in which I could show myself, since nothing but a few short curls
in front were decreed lawful, and all the rest, from the crown, must
be tied up in a queue or a hair-bag. Nothing was left but to put up
with false hair till the natural growth was again restored according
to the demands of the time. He promised me that nobody should ever
remark this innocent cheat (against which I objected at first very
earnestly), if I could resolve upon it immediately. He kept his word,
and I was always looked upon as the young man who had the best and the
best-dressed head of hair. But as I was obliged to remain thus propped
up and powdered from early in the morning, and at the same time to take
care not to betray my false ornament by heating myself or by violent
motions, this restraint in fact contributed much to my behaving for a
time more quietly and politely, and accustomed me to going with my hat
under my arm, and consequently in shoes and stockings also; however I
did not venture to neglect wearing understockings of fine leather, as
a defence against the Rhine gnats, which, on the fine summer evenings,
generally spread themselves over the meadows and gardens. If now, under
these circumstances, a violent bodily motion was denied me, our social
conversations certainly became more and more animated and impassioned;
indeed they were the most interesting in which I had hitherto ever
borne part.

[Side-note: Jung-Stilling]

With my way of feeling and thinking, it cost me nothing to let
every one pass for what he was, nay, for that which he wished to
pass for, and thus the frankness of a fresh youthful heart, which
manifested itself almost for the first time in its full bloom, made
me many friends and adherents. Our company of boarders increased to
about twenty persons, and as Salzmann kept up his accustomed order,
everything continued in its old routine; nay, the conversation was
almost more decorous, as every one had to be on his guard before
several. Among the new comers, was a man who particularly interested
me; his name was JUNG, the same who afterwards became known under
the name of STILLING. In spite of an antiquated dress, his form had
something delicate about it, with a certain sturdiness. A bag-wig did
not disfigure his significant and pleasing countenance. His voice
was mild, without being soft and weak; it became even melodious and
powerful as soon as his ardour was roused, which was very easily
done. On learning to know him better, one found in him a sound
common-sense, which rested on feeling, and therefore took its tone
from the affections and passions, and from this very feeling sprang
an enthusiasm for the good, the true, and the just, in the greatest
possible purity. For the course of this man's life had been very
simple, and yet crowded with events and with manifold activity. The
element of his energy was an indestructible faith in God, and in an
assistance flowing immediately from him, which evidently manifested
itself in an uninterrupted providence, and in an unfailing deliverance
out of all troubles and from every evil. Jung had made many such
experiences in his life, and they had often been repeated of late in
Strasburg, so that, with the greatest cheerfulness, he led a life
frugal indeed, but free from care; and devoted himself most earnestly
to his studies, although he could not reckon upon any certain
subsistence from one quarter to another. In his youth, when on a fair
way to become a charcoal burner, he took up the trade of a tailor,
and after he had instructed himself, at the same time, in higher
matters, his knowledge-loving mind drove him to the occupation of
schoolmaster. This attempt failed, and he returned to his trade, from
which, however, since every one felt for him confidence and affection,
he was repeatedly called away, again to take a place as private tutor.
But for his most internal and peculiar training he had to thank that
wide-spread class of men who sought out their salvation on their
own responsibility, and who, while they strove to edify themselves
by reading the Scriptures and good books, and by mutual exhortation
and confession, thereby attained a degree of cultivation which must
excite surprise. For while the interest which always accompanied
them and which maintained them in fellowship, rested on the simplest
foundation of morality, well-wishing and well-doing, the deviations
which could take place with men of such limited circumstances were of
little importance, and hence their consciences, for the most part,
remained clear, and their minds commonly cheerful; so there arose no
artificial, but a truly natural culture, which yet had this advantage
over others, that it was suitable to all ages and ranks, and was
generally social by its nature. For this reason, too, these persons
were, in their own circle, truly eloquent, and capable of expressing
themselves appropriately and pleasingly on all the tenderest and best
concerns of the heart. Now the good Jung was in this very case. Among
a few persons, who, if not exactly like-minded with himself, did not
declare themselves averse from his mode of thought, he was found not
only talkative but eloquent; in particular, he related the history of
his life in the most delightful manner, and knew how to make all the
circumstances plainly and vividly present to his listeners. I persuaded
him to write them down, and he promised he would do so. But because
in his way of expressing himself he was like a somnambulist, whom one
dare not call, lest he** should fall from his elevation, or like a
gentle stream, to which one dare oppose nothing, lest it should foam,
so was often constrained to feel uncomfortable in a more numerous
company. His faith tolerated no doubt, and his conviction no jest. And
if in friendly communication he was inexhaustible, everything came to
a standstill with him when he suffered contradiction. I usually helped
him through on such occasions, for which he repaid me with honest
affection. Since his mode of thought was nothing strange to me, but
on the contrary I had already become accurately acquainted with it in
my very best friends of both sexes, and since, moreover, it generally
interested me with its naturalness and _naïveté_, he found himself on
the very best terms with me. The bent of his intellect was pleasing
to me, and his faith in miracles, which was so useful to him, I left
unmolested. Salzmann likewise behaved towards him with forbearance,--I
say with forbearance, for Salzmann, in conformity with his character,
his natural disposition, his age and circumstances, could not but stand
and continue on the side of the rational, or rather the common-sense
Christians, whose religion properly rested on the rectitude of their
characters, and a manly independence, and who therefore did not like
to meddle or have anything to do with feelings which might easily have
led them into gloom, or with mysticism, which might easily have led
them into the dark. This class, too, was respectable and numerous; all
men of honour and capacity understood each other, and were of the like
persuasion, as well as of the same mode of life.

[Side-note: Lerse.]

LERSE, likewise our fellow-boarder, also belonged to this number; a
perfectly upright young man, and, with limited gifts of fortune, frugal
and exact. His manner of life and housekeeping was the closest I ever
knew among students. He dressed himself the neatest of us all, and
yet always appeared in the same clothes; but he managed his wardrobe
with the greatest care, kept everything about him clean, and required
all things in ordinary life to go according to his example. He never
happened to lean anywhere, or to prop his elbow on the table; he never
forgot to mark his table-napkin, and it always went ill with the maid
when the chairs were not found perfectly clean. With all this, he had
nothing Stiff in his exterior. He spoke cordially, with precise and
dry liveliness, in which a light ironical joke was very becoming. In
figure, he was well-built, slender, and of fair height, his face was
pock-pitted and homely, his little blue eyes cheerful and penetrating.
As he had cause to tutor us in so many respects, we let him be our
fencing-master besides; for he drew a very fine rapier, and it seemed
to give him sport to play off upon us, on this occasion, all the
pedantry of this profession. Moreover, we really profited by him, and
had to thank him for many sociable hours, which he induced us to spend
in good exercise and practice.

By all these peculiarities, Lerse completely qualified himself for the
office of arbitrator and umpire in all the small and great quarrels
which happened, though but rarely, in our circle, and which Salzmann
could not hush up in his fatherly way. Without the external forms,
which do so much mischief in universities, we represented a society
bound together by circumstances and good-feeling, which others might
occasionally touch, but into which they could not intrude. Now, in
his judgment of internal piques, Lerse always showed the greatest
impartiality, and when the affair could no longer be settled by words
and explanations, he knew how to conduct the desired satisfaction, in
an honourable way, to a harmless issue. In this no man was more clever
than he; indeed, he often used to say, that since heaven had destined
him for a hero neither in war nor in love, he would be content, both
in romances and fighting, with the part of second. Since he remained
the same throughout, and might be regarded as a true model of a good
and steady disposition, the conception of him stamped itself as deeply
as amiably upon me; and when I wrote _Götz von Berlichingen_, I felt
myself induced to set up a memorial of our friendship, and to give the
gallant fellow, who knew how to subordinate himself in so dignified a
manner, the name of Franz Lerse.

[Side-note: Subjugation of Natural Antipathies.]

While now, by his constant humorous dryness, he continued always to
remind us of what one owed to oneself and to others, and how one ought
to behave in order to live at peace with men as long as possible,
and thus gain a certain position towards them, I had to fight, both
inwardly and outwardly, with quite different circumstances and
adversaries, being at strife with myself, with the objects around me,
and even with the elements. I found myself in a state of health which
furthered me sufficiently in all that I would and should undertake;
only there was a certain irritability left behind, which did not
always let me be in equilibrium. A loud sound was disagreeable to
me, diseased objects awakened in me loathing and horror. But I was
especially troubled by a giddiness which came over me every time that
I looked down from a height. All these infirmities I tried to remedy,
and, indeed, as I wished to lose no time, in a somewhat violent way. In
the evening, when they beat the tattoo, I went near the multitude of
drums, the powerful rolling and beating of which might have made one's
heart burst in one's bosom. All alone I ascended the highest pinnacle
of the minster spire, and sat in what is called the neck, under the nob
or crown, for a quarter of an hour, before I would venture to step out
again into the open air, where, standing upon a platform scarce an ell
square, without any particular holding, one sees the boundless prospect
before, while the nearest objects and ornaments conceal the church,
and everything upon and above which one stands. It is exactly as if
one saw oneself carried up into the air in a balloon. Such troublesome
and painful sensations I repeated until the impression became quite
indifferent to me, and I have since then derived great advantage from
this training, in mountain travels and geological studies, and on great
buildings, where I have vied with the carpenters in running over the
bare beams and the cornices of the edifice, and even in Rome, where
one must run similar risks to obtain a nearer view of important works
of art. Anatomy, also, was of double value to me, as it taught me to
tolerate the most repulsive sights, while I satisfied my thirst for
knowledge. And thus I attended, also, the clinical course of the elder
Doctor Ehrmann, as well as the lectures of his son on obstetrics,
with the double view of becoming acquainted with all conditions, and
of freeing myself from all apprehension as to repulsive things. And I
have actually succeeded so far, that nothing of this kind could ever
put me out of my self-possession. But I sought to steel myself not
only against these impressions on the senses, but also against the
infections of the imagination. The awful and shuddering impressions of
the darkness in churchyards, solitary places, churches and chapels by
night, and whatever may be connected with them, I contrived to render
likewise indifferent; and in this, also, I went so far that day and
night, and every locality, were quite the same to me; so that even
when, in later times, a desire came over me once more to feel in such
scenes the pleasing shudder of youth, I could scarcely force this, in
any degree, by the strangest and most fearful images which I called up.

In my efforts to free myself from the pressure of the too-gloomy and
powerful, which continued to rule within me, and seemed to me sometimes
as strength, sometimes as weakness, I was thoroughly assisted by
that open, social, stirring manner of life, which attracted me more
and more, to which I accustomed myself, and which I at last learned
to enjoy with perfect freedom. It is not difficult to remark in the
world, that man feels himself most freely and most perfectly rid
of his own failings, when he represents to himself the faults of
others, and expatiates upon them with complacent censoriousness. It
is a tolerably pleasant sensation even to set ourselves above our
equals by disapprobation and misrepresentation, for which reason good
society, whether it consists of few or many, is most delighted with
it. But nothing equals the comfortable self-complacency, when we erect
ourselves into judges of our superiors, and of those who are set over
us,--of princes and statesmen, when we find public institutions unfit
and injudicious, only consider the possible and actual obstacles, and
recognise neither the greatness of the invention, nor the co-operation
which is to be expected from time and circumstances in every

Whoever remembers the condition of the French kingdom, and is
accurately and circumstantially acquainted with it from later writings,
will easily figure to himself how, at that time, in the Alsatian
semi-France, people used to talk about the king and his ministers,
about the court and court-favourites. These were new subjects for my
love of instructing myself, and very welcome ones to my pertness and
youthful conceit. I observed everything accurately, noted it down
industriously, and I now see, from the little that is left, that such
accounts, although only put together on the moment, out of fables and
uncertain general rumours, always have a certain value in after-times,
because they serve to confront and compare the secret made known
at last with what was then already discovered and public, and the
judgments of contemporaries, true or false, with the convictions of

Striking, and daily before the eyes of us street-loungers, was the
project for beautifying the city; the execution of which, according
to draughts and plans, began in the strangest fashion to pass from
sketches and plans into reality. Intendant Gayot had undertaken to
new-model the angular and uneven lanes of Strasburg, and to lay the
foundations of a respectable, handsome city, regulated by line and
level. Upon this, Blondel, a Parisian architect, drew a plan, by which
an hundred and forty householders gained in room, eighty lost, and the
rest remained in their former condition. This plan accepted, but not
to be put into execution at once, now, should in course of time have
been approaching completion, and, meanwhile, the city oddly enough
wavered between form and formlessness. If, for instance, a crooked side
of a street was to be straightened, the first man who felt disposed
to build moved forward to the appointed line perhaps, too, his next
neighbour; but perhaps, also, the third or fourth resident from him,
by which projections the most awkward recesses were left, like** front
court-yards, before the houses in the background. They would not use
force, yet without compulsion they would never have got on; on which
account no man, when his house was once condemned, ventured to improve
or replace anything that related to the street. All these strange
accidental inconveniences gave to us rambling idlers the most welcome
opportunity of practising our ridicule, of making proposals, in the
manner of Behrisch, for accelerating the completion, and of constantly
doubting the possibility of it, although many a newly-erected handsome,
building should have brought us to other thoughts. How far that project
was advanced by the length of time, I cannot say.

[Side-note: Expulsion of the Jesuits.]

Another subject on which the Protestant Strasburgers liked to converse
was the expulsion of the Jesuits. These fathers, as soon as the city
had fallen to the share of the French, had made their appearance and
sought a _domicilium._ But they soon extended themselves and built a
magnificent college, which bordered so closely on the minster that the
back of the church covered a third part of its front. It was to be a
complete quadrangle, and have a garden in the middle; three sides of
it were finished. It is of stone, and solid, like all the buildings of
these fathers. That the Protestants were pushed hard, if not oppressed
by them, lay in the plan of the society which made it a duty to restore
the old religion in its whole compass. Their fall, therefore, awakened
the greatest satisfaction in the opposite party, and people saw,
not without pleasure, how they sold their wines, carried away their
books, and the building was assigned to another, perhaps less active
order. How glad are men when they get rid of an opponent, or only of a
guardian; and the herd does not reflect that where there is no dog, it
is exposed to wolves.

Now, since every city must have its tragedy, at which children and
children's children shudder, so in Strasburg frequent mention was made
of the unfortunate Prætor Klingling, who, after he had mounted the
highest step of earthly felicity, ruled city and country with almost
absolute power, and enjoyed all that wealth, rank, and influence could
afford, had at last lost the favour of the court, and was dragged up to
answer for all in which he had been indulged hitherto; nay, was even
thrown into prison, where, more than seventy years old, he died an
ambiguous death.

[Side-note: The Knight of St. Louis.]

This and other tales, that knight of St. Louis, our fellow-boarder,
knew how to tell with passion and animation, for which reason I was
fond of accompanying him in his walks, unlike the others, who avoided
such invitations, and left me alone with him. As with new acquaintances
I generally suffered myself to go on for a long time without thinking
much about them or the effect which they were exercising upon me,
so I only remarked gradually that his stories and opinions rather
unsettled and confused, than instructed and enlightened me. I never
knew what to make of him, although the riddle might easily have been
solved. He belonged to the many to whom life offers no results, and
who therefore, from first to last, exert themselves on individual
objects. Unfortunately he had, with this, a decided desire, nay, even
passion for meditating, without having any capacity for thinking; and
in such men a particular notion easily fixes itself fast, which may
be regarded as a mental disease. To such a fixed view he always came
back again, and was thus in the long-run excessively tiresome. He used
bitterly to complain of the decline of his memory, especially with
regard to the latest events, and maintained by a logic of his own, that
all virtue springs from a good memory, and all vice, on the contrary,
from forgetfulness. This doctrine he contrived to carry out with much
acuteness; as, indeed, everything can be maintained when one permits
oneself to use words altogether vaguely, and to employ and apply them
in a sense now wider, now narrower, now closer, now more remote.

At first it was amusing to hear him; nay, his persuasiveness even
astonished us. We fancied we were standing before a rhetorical sophist,
who for jest and practice knew how to give a fair appearance to the
strangest things. Unfortunately this first impression blunted itself
but too soon; for at the end of every discourse, manage the thing as
I would, the man came back again to the same theme. He was not to be
held fast to older events, although they interested him,---although he
had them present to his mind with their minutest circumstances. Indeed
he was often, by a small circumstance, snatched out of the middle of
a wild historical narrative, and thrust into his detestable favourite

One of our afternoon walks was particularly unfortunate in this
respect; the account of it may stand here instead of similar cases,
which might weary, if not vex the reader.

On the way through the city we were met by an old female mendicant, who
by her beggings and importunities disturbed him in his story. "Pack
yourself off, old witch!" said he, and walked by. She shouted after
him the well-known retort, only somewhat changed, since she saw well
that the unfriendly man was old himself,--"If you did not wish to be
old, you should have had yourself hanged in your youth!" He turned
round violently, and I feared a scene. "Hanged!" cried he, "have myself
hanged! No, that could not have been; I was too honest a fellow for
that; but hang myself--hang up my own self--that is true--that I should
have done; I should have turned a charge of powder against myself, that
I might not live to see that I am not even worth that any more." The
woman stood as if petrified; but he continued, "You have said a great
truth, witch-mother! and as they have neither drowned nor burned you
yet, you shall be paid for your proverb." He handed her a _büsel_, a
coin not usually given to a beggar.

We had crossed over the first Rhine-bridge, and were going to the
inn where we meant to stop, and I was trying to lead him back to our
previous conversation, when, unexpectedly, a very pretty girl met us
on the pleasant foot-path, remained standing before us, bowed prettily
and cried: "Eh, eh! captain, where are you going?" and whatever else
is usually said on such an occasion. "Mademoiselle," replied he,
somewhat embarrassed, "I know not----" "How?" said she, with graceful
astonishment, "do you forget your friends so soon?" The word "forget"
fretted him; he shook his head and replied, peevishly enough, "Truly,
mademoiselle, I did not know----!" She now retorted with some humour,
yet very temperately: "Take care, captain, I may mistake you another
time!" And so she hurried past, taking huge strides, without looking
round. At once my fellow-traveller struck his forehead with both his
fists: "O what an ass I am!" exclaimed he, "what an old ass I am!
Now, you see whether I am right or not." And then, in a very violent
manner, he went on with his usual sayings and opinions, in which this
case still more confirmed him. I cannot and would not repeat what a
philippic discourse he held against himself. At last he turned to me
and said: "I call you to witness! You remember that small-ware woman at
the corner, who is neither young nor pretty? I salute her every time we
pass, and often exchange a couple of friendly words with her; and yet
it is thirty years ago since she was gracious to me. But now I swear it
is not four weeks since this young lady showed herself more complaisant
to me than was reasonable, and yet I will not recognise her, but insult
her in return for her favours! Do I not always say that ingratitude is
the greatest of vices, and no man would be ungrateful if he were not

"We went into the inn, and nothing but the tippling, swarming crowd
in the ante-rooms stopped the invectives which he rattled off against
himself and his contemporaries. He was silent, and I hoped pacified,
when we stepped into an upper chamber, where we found a young man
pacing up and down alone, whom the captain saluted by name. I was
pleased to become acquainted with him; for the old fellow had said much
good of him to me, and had told me that this young man, being employed
in the war-bureau, had often disinterestedly done him very good service
when the pensions were stopped. I was glad that the conversation took
a general turn, and while we were carrying it on we drank a bottle of
wine. But here, unluckily, another infirmity which my knight had in
common with obstinate men, developed itself. For as, on the whole,
he could not get rid of that fixed notion, so did he stick fast to a
disagreeable impression of the moment, and suffer his feelings to run
on without moderation. His last vexation about himself had not yet died
away, and now was added something new, although of quite a different
kind. He had not long cast his eyes here and there before he noticed on
the table a double portion of coffee and two cups, and might besides,
being a man of gallantry, have traced some other indication that the
young man had not been so solitary all the time. And scarcely had the
conjecture arisen in his mind, and ripened into a probability, that
the pretty girl had been paying a visit here, than the most outrageous
jealousy added itself to that first vexation, so as completely to
perplex him.

[Side-note: The Knight of St. Louis.]

Now before I could suspect anything, for I had hitherto been conversing
quite harmlessly with the young man, the captain, in an unpleasant
tone, which I well knew, began to be satirical about the pair of cups,
and about this and that. The young man, surprised, tried to turn it off
pleasantly and sensibly, as is the custom among men of good-breeding;
but the old fellow continued to be unmercifully rude, so that there was
nothing left for the other to do but to seize his hat and cane, and at
his departure to leave behind him a pretty unequivocal challenge. The
fury of the captain now burst out the more vehemently, as he had in the
interim drunk another bottle of wine almost by himself. He struck the
table with his fist, and cried more than once: "I strike him dead!"
It was not, however, meant quite so badly as it sounded, for he often
used this phrase when any one opposed or otherwise displeased him. Just
as unexpectedly the business grew worse on our return: for I had the
want of foresight to represent to him his ingratitude towards the young
man, and to remind him how strongly he had praised to me the ready
obligingness of this official person. No! such rage of a man against
himself I never saw again; it was the most passionate conclusion to
that beginning to which the pretty girl had given occasion. Here I
saw sorrow and repentance carried into caricature, and as all passion
supplies the place of genius, to a point really genius-like. He then
went over all the incidents of our afternoon ramble again, employed
them rhetorically for his own self-reproach, brought up the old witch
at last before him once more, and perplexed himself to such a degree,
that I could not help fearing** he would throw himself into the Rhine.
Could I have been sure of fishing him out again quickly, like Mentor
his Telemachus, he might have made the leap, and I should have brought
him home cooled down for this occasion.

I immediately confided the affair to Lerse, and we went the next
morning to the young man, whom my friend in his dry way set laughing.
We agreed to bring about an accidental meeting, where a reconciliation
should take place of itself. The drollest thing about it was, that this
time the captain too had slept off his rudeness, and found himself
ready to apologize to the young man, to whom petty quarrels were of
some consequence. All was arranged in one morning, and, as the affair
had not been kept quite secret, I did not escape the jokes of my
friends, who might have foretold me, from their own experience, how
troublesome the friendship of the captain could become upon occasion.

But now, while I am thinking what should be imparted next, there
comes again into my thoughts, by a strange play of memory, that
reverend minster-building, to which in those days I devoted particular
attention, and which, in general, constantly presents itself to the eye
both in the city and in the country.

The more I considered the _façade_, the more was that first impression
strengthened and developed, that here the sublime has entered into
alliance with the pleasing. If the vast, when it appears as a mass
before us, is not to terrify; if it is not to confuse, when we seek to
investigate its details, it must enter into an unnatural, apparently
impossible connexion, it must associate to itself the pleasing. But
now, since it will be impossible for us to speak of the impression of
the minster except by considering both these incompatible qualities as
united, so do we already see, from this, in what high value we must
hold this ancient monument, and we begin in earnest to describe how
such contradictory elements could peaceably interpenetrate and unite

[Side-note: Strasburg Minster.]

First of all, without thinking of the towers, we devote our
considerations to the _façade_ alone, which powerfully strikes the eye
as an upright, oblong parallelogram. If we approach it at twilight,
in the moonshine, on a starlight night, when the parts appear more or
less indistinct and at last disappear, we see only a colossal wall,
the height of which bears an advantageous proportion to the breadth. If
we gaze on it by day, and by the power of the mind abstract from the
details, we recognise the front of a building which not only incloses
the space within, but also covers much in its vicinity. The openings
of this monstrous surface point to internal necessities, and according
to these we can at once divide it into nine compartments. The great
middle door, which opens into the nave of the church, first meets
the eye. On both sides of it lie two smaller ones, belonging to the
cross-ways. Over the chief door our glance falls upon the wheel-shaped
window, which is to spread an awe-inspiring light within the church
and its vaulted arches. At its sides appear two large, perpendicular,
oblong openings, which form a striking contrast with the middle one,
and indicate that they belong to the base of the rising towers. In
the third story are three openings in a row, which are designed for
belfries and other church necessities. Above them one sees the whole
horizontally closed by the balustrade of the gallery, instead of a
cornice. These nine spaces described, are supported, enclosed, and
separated into three great perpendicular divisions by four pillars
rising up from the ground.

Now as one cannot deny to the whole mass a fine proportion of height
to breadth, so also in the details it maintains a somewhat uniform
lightness by means of these pillars and the narrow compartments between

But if we keep to our abstraction, and imagine to ourselves this
immense wall without ornaments, with firm buttresses, with the
necessary openings in it, but only so far as necessity requires
them, we even then must allow that these chief divisions are in good
proportion: thus the whole will appear solemn and noble indeed, but
always heavily unpleasant, and, being without ornament, unartistical.
For a work of art, the whole of which is conceived in great, simple,
harmonious parts, makes indeed a noble and dignified impression, but
the peculiar enjoyment which the pleasing produces can only find place
in the consonance of all developed details.

And it is precisely here that the building which we are examining
satisfies us in the highest degree: for we see all the ornaments fully
suited to every part which they adorn; they are subordinate to it, they
seem to have grown out of it. Such a manifoldness always gives great
pleasure, since it flows of its own accord from the suitable, and
therefore at the same time awakens the feeling of unity. It is only in
such cases that the execution is prized as the summit of art.

By such means, now, was a solid piece of masonry, an impenetrable wall,
which had moreover to announce itself as the base of two heaven-high
towers, made to appear to the eye as if resting on itself, consisting
in itself, but at the same time light and adorned, and, though pierced
through in a thousand places, to give the idea of indestructible

This riddle is solved in the happiest manner. The openings in the wall,
its solid parts, the pillars, everything has its peculiar character,
which proceeds from its particular destination; this communicates
itself by degrees to the subdivisions; hence everything is adorned
in proportionate taste, the great as well as the small is in the
right place, and can be easily comprehended, and thus the pleasing
presents itself in the vast. I would refer only to the doors sinking in
perspective into the thickness of the wall, and adorned without end in
their columns and pointed arches; to the window with its rose springing
out of the round form, to the outline of its frame-work, as well as
to the slender reedlike pillars of the perpendicular compartments.
Let one represent to himself the pillars retreating step by step,
accompanied by little, slender, light-pillared, pointed structures,
likewise striving upwards, and furnished with canopies to shelter the
images of the saints, and how at last every rib, every boss, seems
like a flower-head and row of leaves, or some other natural object
transformed into stone. One may compare, if not the building itself,
yet representations of the whole and of its parts, for the purpose of
reviewing and giving life to what I have said. It may seem exaggerated
to many, for I myself, though transported into love for this work at
first sight, required a long time to make myself intimately acquainted
with its value.

Having grown up among those who found fault with Gothic architecture,
I cherished my aversion from the abundantly overloaded,complicated
ornaments which, by their capriciousness, made a religious, gloomy
character highly adverse. I strengthened myself in this repugnance,
since I had only met with spiritless works of this kind, in which
one could perceive neither good proportions nor a pure consistency.
But here I thought I saw a new revelation of it, since what was
objectionable by no means appeared, but the contrary opinion rather
forced itself upon my mind.

[Side-note: Strasburg Minster.]

But the longer I looked and considered, I all the while thought
I discovered yet greater merits beyond that which I have already
mentioned. The right proportion of the larger divisions, the
ornamental, as judicious as rich, even to the minutest, were found
out; but now I recognised the connexion of these manifold ornaments
amongst each other, the transition from one leading part to another,
the enclosing of details, homogeneous indeed, but yet greatly varying
in form, from the saint to the monster, from the leaf to the dental.
The more I investigated, the more I was astonished; the more I amused
and wearied myself with measuring and drawing, so much the more did my
attachment increase, so that I spent much time, partly in studying what
actually existed, partly in restoring, in my mind and on paper, what
was wanting and unfinished, especially in the towers.

Since now I found that this building had been based on old German
ground, and grown thus far in genuine German times, and that the name
of the master, on his modest gravestone, was likewise of native sound
and origin, I ventured, being incited by the worth of this work of art,
to change the hitherto decried appellation of "Gothic architecture,"
and to claim it for our nation as "German architecture;" nor did I fail
to bring my patriotic views to light, first orally, and afterwards in a
little treatise, dedicated to the memory of Ervinus a Steinbach.

If my biographical narrative should come down to the epoch when the
said sheet appeared in print, which Herder afterwards inserted in
his pamphlet: _Von Deutscher Art und Kunst_, (_Of German Manner and
Art_,) much more will be said on this weighty subject. But before I
turn myself away from it this time, I will take the opportunity to
vindicate the motto prefixed to the present volume, with those who may
have entertained some doubt about it. I know indeed very well, that
in opposition to this honest, hopeful old German saying: "Whatever
one wishes in youth, one has abundance in old age!" many would quote
contrary experience, and many trifling comments might be made; but much
also is to be said in its favour, and I will explain my own thoughts on
the matter.

Our wishes are presentiments of the capabilities which lie within us,
and harbingers of that which we shall be in a condition to perform.
Whatever we are able and would like to do, presents itself to our
imagination, as without us and in the future; we feel a longing
after that which we already possess in secret. Thus a passionate
anticipating grasp changes the truly possible into a dreamed reality.
Now if such a bias lies decidedly in our nature, then, with every step
of our development will a part of the first wish be fulfilled--under
favourable circumstances in the direct way, under unfavourable in
the circuitous way, from which we always come back again to the
other. Thus we see men by perseverance attain to earthly wealth; they
surround themselves with riches, splendour, and external honour. Others
strive yet more certainly after intellectual advantages, acquire for
themselves a clear survey of things, a peacefulness of mind, and a
certainty for the present and the future.

But now there is a third direction, which is compounded of both, and
the issue of which must be the most surely successful. When, namely,
the youth of a man falls into a pregnant time, when production
overweighs destruction, and a presentiment is early awakened within
him as to what such an epoch demands and promises, he will then, being
forced by outward inducements into an active interest, take hold now
here, now there, and the wish to be active on many sides will be lively
within him. But so many accidental hindrances are associated with human
limitation, that here a thing, once begun, remains unfinished, there
that which is already grasped falls out of the hand, and one wish
after another is dissipated. But had these wishes sprung out of a pure
heart, and in conformity with the necessities of the times, one might
composedly let them lie and fall right and left, and be assured that
these must not only be found out and picked up again, but that also
many kindred things, which one has never touched and never even thought
of, will come to light. If now, during our own lifetime, we see that
performed by others, to which we ourselves felt an earlier call, but
had been obliged to give it up, with much besides; then the beautiful
feeling enters the mind, that only mankind together is the true man,
and that the individual can only be joyous and happy when he has the
courage to feel himself in the whole.

[Side-note: Study of German Architecture.]

This contemplation is here in the right place: for when I reflect
on the affection which drew me to these antique edifices, when I
reckon up the time which I devoted to the Strasburg minster alone,
the attention with which I afterwards examined the cathedral at
Cologne, and that at Freyburg, and more and more felt the value of
these buildings, I could even blame myself for having afterwards lost
sight of them altogether, nay, for having left them completely in the
background, being attracted by a more developed art. But when I now,
in the latest times, see attention again turned to those objects, when
I see affection and even passion for them appearing and flourishing,
when I see able young persons seized with this passion, recklessly
devoting powers, time, care, and property, to these memorials of a past
world, then am I reminded with pleasure that what I formerly would and
wished had a value. With satisfaction I see that they not only know
how to prize what was done by our forefathers, but that from existing
unfinished beginnings they try to represent, in pictures at least, the
original design, so as thus to make us acquainted with the thought,
which is ever the beginning and end of all undertakings; and that
they strive with considerate zeal to clear up and vivify what seems
to be a confused past. Here I especially applaud the gallant Sulpiz
Boisserée, who is indefatigably employed in a magnificent series of
copper-plates to exhibit the cathedral of Cologne as the model of those
vast conceptions, the spirit of which, like that of Babel, strove up
to heaven, and which were so out of proportion to earthly means, that
they were necessarily stopped fast in their execution. If we have been
hitherto astonished that such buildings proceeded only so far, we shall
learn with the greatest wonder what was really designed to be done.

May the literary-artistical undertakings of this kind be duly
patronized by all who have power, wealth, and influence, that the
great and gigantic views of our forefathers may be presented to our
contemplation, and that we may be able to form a conception of what
they dared to desire. The insight resulting from this will not remain
fruitless, and the judgment will, for once at least, be in a condition
to exercise itself on these works with justice. Nay, this will be done
most thoroughly, if our active young friend, besides the monograph
devoted to the cathedral of Cologne, follows out in detail the history
of our mediæval architecture. When whatever is to be known about the
practical exercise of this art is further brought to light, when the
art is represented in all its fundamental features by a comparison
with the Græco-Roman and the oriental Egyptian, little can remain to
be done in this department. And I, when the results of such patriotic
labours lie before the world, as they are now known in friendly private
communications, shall be able, with true content, to repeat that motto
in its best sense: "Whatever one wishes in youth, in old age one has

But if, in operations like these, which belong to centuries, one can
trust oneself to time, and wait for opportunity, there are, on the
contrary, other things which in youth must be enjoyed at once, fresh,
like ripe fruits. Let me be permitted, with this sudden turn, to
mention dancing, of which the ear is reminded, as the eye is of the
minster, every day and every hour in Strasburg and all Alsace. From
early youth my father himself had given my sister and me instruction
in dancing, a task which must have comported strangely enough with
so stern a man; but he did not suffer his composure to be put out by
it; he drilled us in the positions and steps in a manner the most
precise, and when he had brought us far enough to dance a minuet, he
played for us something easily intelligible in three-four time, on a
_flute-douce_, and we moved to it as well as we could. On the French
theatre, likewise, I had seen from my youth upwards, if not ballets,
yet _pas seuls_ and _pas de deux_, and had noticed in them various
strange motions of the feet, and all sorts of springs. When now we had
enough of the minuet, I begged my father for other dancing music, of
which our music-books, in their jigs and murkies,[2] offered us a rich
supply; and I immediately found out, of myself, the steps and other
motions for them, the time being quite suitable to my limbs, and, as
it were, born with them. This pleased my father to a certain degree;
indeed, he often, by way of joke for himself and us, let the "monkies"
dance in this way. After my misfortune with Gretchen, and during the
whole of my residence in Leipzig, I did not make my appearance again
on the floor; on the contrary, I still remember that when, at a ball,
they forced me into a minuet, both measure and motion seemed to have
abandoned my limbs, and I could no more remember either the steps or
the figures, so that I should have been put to disgrace and shame if
the greater part of the spectators had not maintained that my awkward
behaviour was pure obstinacy, assumed with the view of depriving the
ladies of all desire to invite me and draw me into their circle against
my will.

[Side-note: The Dancing-Master's Daughters.]

During my residence in Frankfort, I was quite cut off from such
pleasures; but in Strasburg, with other enjoyments of life, there
soon arose in my limbs the faculty of keeping time. On Sundays and
week-days, one sauntered by no pleasure-ground without finding
there a joyous crowd assembled for the dance, and for the most part
revolving in the circle. Moreover, there were private balls in the
country-houses, and people were already talking of the brilliant
masquerades of the coming winter. Here, indeed, I should have been
out of my place, and useless to the company; when a friend, who
waltzed very well, advised me to practise myself first in parties of
a lower rank, so that afterwards I might be worth something in the
highest. He took me to a dancing-master, who was well known for his
skill; this man promised me that, when I had in some degree repeated
the first elements, and made myself master of them, he would then
lead me further. He was one of the dry, ready French characters, and
received me in a friendly manner. I paid him a month in advance, and
received twelve tickets, for which he agreed to give me certain hours'
instruction. The man was strict and precise, but not pedantic; and as
I already had some previous practice, I soon gave him satisfaction and
received his commendation.

One circumstance, however, greatly facilitated the instruction of this
teacher; he had two daughters, both pretty, and both yet under twenty.
Having been instructed in this art from their youth upwards, they
showed themselves very skilful, and might have been able, as partners,
soon to help even the most clumsy scholars into some cultivation. They
were both very polite, spoke nothing but French, and I, on my part,
did my best, that I might not appear awkward or ridiculous before
them. I had the good fortune that they likewise praised me, and were
always willing to dance a minuet to their father's little violin, and,
what indeed was more difficult for them, to initiate me, by degrees,
into waltzing and whirling. Their father did not seem to have many
customers, and they led a lonely life. For this reason they often
asked me to remain with them after my hour, and to chat away the time
a little; which I the more willingly did, as the younger one pleased
me well, and generally they both altogether behaved very becomingly.
I often read aloud something from a novel, and they did the same. The
elder, who was as handsome, perhaps even handsomer, than the second,
but who did not correspond with my taste so well as the latter, always
conducted herself towards me more obligingly, and more kindly in every
respect. She was always at hand during the hour, and often protracted
it; hence I sometimes thought myself bound to offer back a couple of
tickets to her father, which, however, he did not accept. The younger
one, on the contrary, although she did nothing unfriendly towards me,
was yet rather reserved, and waited till she was called by her father
before she relieved the elder.

[Side-note: The Fortune-Teller.]

The cause of this became manifest to me one evening. For when, after
the dance was done, I was about to go into the sitting-room with the
elder, she held me back and said, "Let us remain here a little longer;
for I will confess to you that my sister has with her a woman who tells
fortunes from cards, and who is to reveal to her how matters stand with
an absent lover, on whom her whole heart hangs, and upon whom she has
placed all her hope. Mine is free," she continued, "and I must accustom
myself to see it despised." I thereupon said sundry pretty things to
her, replying that she could at once convince herself on that point
by consulting the wise woman likewise; that I would do so myself, for
I had long wished to learn something of the kind, but lacked faith.
She blamed me for this, and assured me that nothing in the world was
surer than the responses of this oracle, only it must be consulted,
not out of sport and mischief, but solely in real affairs. However, I
at last compelled her to go with me into that room, as soon as she had
ascertained that the consultation was over. We found her sister in a
very cheerful humour, and even towards me she was kinder than usual,
sportive, and almost witty; for since she seemed to be secure of an
absent friend, she may have thought it no treachery to be a little
gracious with a present friend of her sister's, which she thought me
to be. The old woman was now flattered, and good payment was promised
her, if she would tell the truth to the elder sister and to me. With
the usual preparations and ceremonies she began her business, in order
to tell the fair one's fortune first. She carefully considered the
situation of the cards, but seemed to hesitate, and would not speak out
what she had to say. "I see now," said the younger, who was already
better acquainted with the interpretation of such a magic tablet,
"you hesitate, and do not wish to disclose anything disagreeable to
my sister; but that is a cursed card!" The elder one turned pale, but
composed herself, and said, "Only speak out; it will not cost one's
head!" The old woman, after a deep sigh, showed her that she was in
love, that she was not beloved, that another person stood in the way,
and other things of like import. We saw the good girl's embarrassment.
The old woman thought somewhat to improve the affair by giving hopes
of letters and money. "Letters," said the lovely child, "I do not
expect, and money I do not desire. If it is true, as you say, that I
love, I deserve a heart that loves me in return." "Let us see if it
will not be better," replied the old woman, as she shuffled the cards
and laid them out a second time; but before the eyes of all of us, it
had only become still worse. The fair one stood not only more lonely,
but surrounded with many sorrows; her lover had moved somewhat farther,
and the intervening figures nearer. The old woman wished to try it the
third time, in hopes of a better prospect; but the beautiful girl could
restrain herself no longer, she broke out into uncontrollable weeping,
her lovely bosom heaved violently, she turned round, and rushed out
of the room. I knew not what I should do. Inclination kept me with
the one present; compassion drove me to the other; my situation was
painful enough. "Comfort Lucinda," said the younger; "go after her."
I hesitated: how could I comfort her without at least assuring her of
some sort of affection, and could I do that at such a moment in a cool,
moderate manner? "Let us go together," said I to Emilia. "I know not
whether my presence will do her good," replied she. Yet we went, but
found the door bolted. Lucinda made no answer; we might knock, shout,
entreat, as we would. "We must let her have her own way," said Emilia;
"she will not have it otherwise now!" And, indeed, when I called to
my mind her manner from our very first acquaintance, she always
had something violent and unequal about her, and chiefly showed her
affection for me by not behaving to me with rudeness. What should I do?
I paid the old woman richly for the mischief she had caused, and was
about to go, when Emilia said, "I stipulate that the cards shall now be
cut for you too." The old woman was ready. "Do not let me be present,"
cried I, and hastened down stairs.

[Side-note: Scene with the Two Sisters.]

The next day I had not courage to go there. The third day, early in the
morning, Emilia sent me word by a boy who had already brought me many
a message from the sisters, and had carried back flowers and fruits to
them in return, that I should not fail that day. I came at the usual
hour, and found the father alone, who, in many respects, improved my
paces and steps, my goings and comings, my bearing and behaviour, and,
moreover, seemed to be satisfied with me. The younger daughter came in
towards the end of the hour, and danced with me a very graceful minuet,
in which her movements were extraordinarily pleasing, and her father
declared that he had rarely seen a prettier and more nimble pair upon
his floor. After the lesson, I went as usual into the sitting-room;
the father left us alone; I missed Lucinda. "She is in bed," said
Emilia, "and I am glad of it; do not be concerned about it. Her mental
illness is first alleviated when she fancies herself bodily sick; she
does not like to die, and therefore she then does what we wish. We
have certain family medicines which she takes, and reposes; and thus,
by degrees, the swelling waves subside. She is, indeed, too good and
amiable in such an imaginary sickness, and as she is in reality very
well, and is only attacked by passion, she imagines various kinds
of romantic deaths, with which she frightens herself in a pleasant
manner, like children when we tell them ghost-stories. Thus, yesterday
evening, she announced to me with great vehemence, that this time she
should certainly die, and that only when she was really near death,
they should bring again before her the ungrateful false friend, who
had at first acted so handsomely to her, and now treated her so ill;
she would reproach him bitterly, and then give up the ghost." "I know
not that I am guilty," exclaimed I, "of having expressed any sort of
affection for her. I know somebody who can best bear me witness in this
respect." Emilia smiled and rejoined, "I understand you; and if we
are not discreet and determined, we shall all find ourselves in a bad
plight together. What will you say if I entreat you not to continue
your lessons? You have, I believe, four tickets yet of the last month,
and my father has already declared that he finds it inexcusable to take
your money any longer, unless you wish to devote yourself to the art
of dancing in a more serious manner; what is required by a young man
of the world you possess already." "And do you, Emilia, give me this
advice, to avoid your house?" replied I. "Yes, I do," said she, "but
not of myself. Only listen. When you hastened away, the day before
yesterday, I had the cards cut for you, and the same response was
repeated thrice, and each time more emphatically. You were surrounded
by everything good and pleasing, by friends and great lords, and there
was no lack of money. The ladies kept themselves at some distance. My
poor sister in particular stood always the farthest off; one other
advanced constantly nearer to you, but never came up to your side, for
a third person, of the male sex, always came between. I will confess
to you that I thought that I myself was meant by the second lady, and
after this confession you will best comprehend my well-meant counsel.
To an absent friend I have promised my heart and my hand, and, until
now, I loved him above all; yet it might be possible for your presence
to become more important to me than hitherto, and what kind of a
situation would you have between two sisters, one of whom you had made
unhappy by your affection, and the other by your coldness, and all this
ado about nothing and only for a short time? For if we had not known
already who you are and what are your expectations, the cards would
have placed it before my eyes in the clearest manner. Fare you well!"
said she, and gave me her hand. I hesitated. "Now," said she, leading
me towards the door, "that it may really be the last time that we shall
speak to each other, take what I would otherwise have denied you." She
fell upon my neck, and kissed me most tenderly. I embraced her, and
pressed her to my bosom.

At this moment the side-door flew open, and her sister, in a light
but becoming night-dress, sprang out and cried, "You shall not be the
only one to take leave of him!" Emilia let me go, and Lucinda seized
me, clasped herself fast to my heart, pressed her black locks upon my
cheeks, and remained in this position for some time. And thus I found
myself in the dilemma between two sisters which Emilia had prophesied
to me a moment before. Lucinda let me loose, and looked earnestly into
my face. I would have taken her hand and said something friendly to
her, but she turned herself away, walked with violent steps up and down
the room for some time, and then threw herself into a corner of the
sofa. Emilia went to her, but was immediately repulsed, and here began
a scene which is yet painful to me in the recollection, and which,
although really it had nothing theatrical about it, but was quite
suitable to a lively young Frenchwoman, could only be properly repeated
in the theatre by a good and feeling actress.

[Side-note: Lucinda's Curse.]

Lucinda overwhelmed her sister with a thousand reproaches. "This is
not the first heart," she cried, "that was inclining itself to me, and
that you have turned away. Was it not just so with him who is absent,
and who at last betrothed himself to you under my very eyes? I was
compelled to look on; I endured it; but I know how many thousand tears
it has cost me. This one, too, you have now taken away from me, without
letting the other go; and how many do you not manage to keep at once?
I am frank and good-natured, and every one thinks he knows me soon,
and may neglect me. You are secret and quiet, and people think wonders
of what may be concealed behind you. Yet there is nothing behind but
a cold, selfish heart that can sacrifice everything to itself; this
nobody learns so easily, because it lies deeply hidden in your breast;
and just as little do they know of my warm, true heart, which I carry
about with me as open as my face."

Emilia was silent, and had sat down by her sister, who became
constantly more and more excited in her discourse, and let certain
private matters slip out, which it was not exactly proper for me to
know. Emilia, on the other hand, who was trying to pacify her sister,
made me a sign from behind that I should withdraw; but as jealousy and
suspicion see with a thousand eyes, Lucinda seemed to have noticed this
also. She sprang up and advanced to me, but not with vehemence. She
stood before me, and seemed to be thinking of something. Then she said,
"I know that I have lost you; I make no further pretensions to you. But
neither shall you have him, sister!"

With these words she grasped me very singularly by the head, thrusting
both her hands into my locks, pressing my face to hers, and kissed me
repeatedly on the mouth. "Now," cried she, "fear my curse! Woe upon
woe, for ever and ever, to her who kisses these lips for the first time
after me! Dare to have anything more to do with him! I know heaven
hears me this time. And you, Sir, hasten now, hasten away as fast as
you can!"

I flew down the stairs, with the firm determination never to outer the
house again.

[1] A Repetent is one of a class of persons to be found in the German
universities, and who assist students in their studies. They are
somewhat analogous to the English Tutors, but not precisely; for the
latter render their aid _before_ the recitation, while the Repetent
_repeats_ with the student, in private, the lectures he has previously
heard from the professor. Hence his name, which might be rendered
_Repeater_, had we any corresponding class of men in England or
America, which would justify an English word_.--American Note._

[2] A "murki" is defined as an old species of short composition
for the harpsichord, with a lively murmuring accompaniment in the


The German poets, since they, as members of a corporation, no longer
stood as one man, did not enjoy the smallest advantages in the
citizen-world. They had neither support, standing, nor respectability,
except in so far as their other position was favourable to them, and
therefore it was a matter of mere chance whether talent was born to
honour or to disgrace. A poor son of earth, with a consciousness of
mind and faculties, was forced to crawl along painfully through life,
and, from the pressure of momentary necessities, to squander the gifts
which perchance he had received from the Muses. Occasional poems, the
first and most genuine of all kinds of poetry, had become despicable
to such a degree, that the nation even now cannot attain a conception
of their high value; and a poet, if he did not strike altogether into
Günther's** path, appeared in the world in the most melancholy state of
subserviency, as a jester and parasite, so that both on the theatre and
on the stage of life he represented a character which any one and every
one could abuse at pleasure.

If, on the contrary, the Muse associated herself with men of
respectability, these received thereby a lustre which was reflected
back to the donor. Noblemen well versed in life, like Hagedorn,
dignified citizens, like Brockes, distinguished men of science, like
Haller, appeared among the first in the nation, to be equal with the
most eminent and the most prized. Those persons, too, were specially
honoured, who, together with this pleasing talent, distinguished
themselves as active, faithful men of business. In this way Uz,
Rabener, and Weisse enjoyed a respect of quite a peculiar kind; people
had here to value, when combined, those most heterogeneous qualities
which are seldom found united.

[Side-note: Klopstock.]

But now the time was to come when poetic genius should become aware of
itself, should create for itself its own relations, and understand how
to lay the foundation of an independent dignity. Everything necessary
to found such an epoch was combined in KLOPSTOCK. Considered both
from the sensual and moral side, he was a pure young man. Seriously
and thoroughly educated, he places, from his youth upwards, a great
value upon himself and upon whatever he does, and while considerately
measuring out beforehand the steps of his life, turns, with a
presentiment of the whole strength of his internal nature, towards the
loftiest and most grateful theme. The _Messiah_, a name which betokens
infinite attributes, was to be glorified afresh by him. The Redeemer
was to be the hero whom the poet thought to accompany through earthly
lowliness and sorrows to the highest heavenly triumphs. Everything
Godlike, angelic, and human that lay in the young soul was here
called into requisition. Brought up by the Bible and nourished by its
strength, he now lives with patriarchs, prophets, and forerunners,
as if they were present; yet all these are only evoked from ages to
draw a bright halo round the One whose humiliation they behold with
astonishment, and in whose exaltation they are gloriously to bear a
part. For at last, after gloomy and horrible hours, the everlasting
Judge will uncloud his face, again acknowledge his Son and fellow-God,
who, on the other hand, will again lead to Him alienated men, nay,
even a fallen spirit. The living heavens shout with a thousand angel
voices round the throne, and a radiance of love gushes out over the
universe, which shortly before had fastened its looks upon a fearful
place of sacrifice. The heavenly peace which Klopstock felt in the
conception and execution of this poem, communicates itself even now
to every one who reads the first ten cantos, without allowing certain
requisitions to be brought forward, which an advancing cultivation does
not willingly abandon.

The dignity of the subject elevated in the poet the feeling of his own
personality. That he himself would enter hereafter into those choirs,
that the God-Man would distinguish him, nay, give him face to face the
reward for his labours, which even here every feeling, pious heart had
fondly paid in many a pure tear--these were such innocent, childlike
thoughts and hopes, as only a well-constituted mind can conceive and
cherish. Thins Klopstock gained the perfect right to regard himself
as a consecrated person, and thus in his actions he studied the most
scrupulous purity. Even in his old age it troubled him exceedingly that
he had given his earliest love to a lady who, by marrying another,
left him in uncertainty whether she had really loved him or been worthy
of him. The sentiments which bound him to Meta, their hearty, tranquil
affection, their short sacred married life, the aversion of the
surviving husband from a second union, all is of that kind which may
well be remembered hereafter in the circle of the blessed.

This honourable conduct towards himself was still further enhanced by
his being favourably received for a long time in well-minded Denmark,
in the house of a great, and, humanly speaking, excellent statesman.
Here, in a higher circle, which was exclusive indeed, but, at the same
time, devoted to external manners and attention towards the world, his
tendency became still more decided. A composed demeanour, a measured
speech, and a laconism even when he spoke openly and decidedly,
gave him, through his whole life, a certain diplomatic ministerial
consequence, which seemed to be at variance with his tender natural
feelings, although both sprang from one source. Of all this, his first
works give a clear transcript and type, and they thus could not but
gain an incredible influence. That, however, he personally assisted
others who were struggling in life and poetry, has scarcely been
mentioned, as one of his most decided characteristics.

[Side-note: Klopstock and Gleim.]

But just such a furtherance of young people in literary action and
pursuit, a hopeful pleasure in bringing forward men not favoured by
fortune, and making the way easy to them, has rendered illustrious one
German, who, in respect to the dignity which he gave himself, may be
named as the second, but, in regard to his living influence, as the
first. It will escape no one that GLEIM is here meant. In possession
of an obscure, indeed, but lucrative office, residing in a pleasantly
situated spot, not too large, and enlivened by military, civic, and
literary activity, whence proceeded the revenues of a great and wealthy
institution, not without a part of them remaining behind for the
advantage of the place, he felt within himself also a lively productive
impulse, which, however, with all its strength, was not quite enough
for him, and therefore he gave himself up to another, perhaps stronger
impulse, namely, that of making others produce something. Both these
activities were intertwined incessantly during his whole long life. He
could as easily have lived without taking breath, as without writing
poetry and making presents, and by helping needy talents of all kinds
through earlier or later embarrassments, contributing to the honour of
literature, he gained so many friends, debtors, and dependents, that
they willingly allowed his diffuse verses to pass, since they could
give him nothing in return for his rich benefits but endurance of his

Now, the high idea which these two men might well form of their own
worth, and by which others were induced also to think themselves
somebody, has produced very great and beautiful results, both in public
and private, But this consciousness, honourable as it is, called a
peculiar evil down for themselves, for those around them, and for their
time. If, judging from their intellectual effects, both these men may
without hesitation be called great, with respect to the world they
remained but small, and considered in comparison with a more stirring
life, their external position was nought. The day is long, and so is
the night: one cannot be always writing poetry, or doing, or giving;
their time could not be filled up like that of people of the world, and
men of rank and wealth; they therefore set too high a value on their
particular limited situations, attached an importance to their daily
affairs which they should only have allowed themselves amongst each
other, and took more than reasonable delight in their own jokes, which,
though they made the moment agreeable, could be of no consequence in
the end. They received praise and honour from others, as they deserved;
they gave it back, with measure indeed, but always too profusely; and
because they felt that their friendship was worth much, they were
pleased to express it repeatedly, and in this spared neither paper nor
ink. Thus arose those correspondences, at the deficiency of which in
solid contents the modern world wonders, nor can it be blamed, when
it hardly sees the possibility of eminent men delighting themselves
in such an interchange of nothing, or when it expresses the wish that
such leaves might have remained unprinted. But we may suffer these few
volumes always to stand along with so many others upon our bookshelves,
if we have learned from them the fact that even the most eminent man
lives only by the day, and enjoys but a sorry entertainment, when he
throws himself too much back upon himself, and neglects to grasp into
the fulness of the external world, where alone he can find nourishment
for his growth, and at the same time a standard for its measurement.

The activity of these men was in its finest bloom, when we young folks
began also to bestir ourselves in our own circle, and with my younger
friends, if not with older persons too. I was pretty much in the way
of falling into this sort of mutual flattery, forbearance, raising and
supporting. In my immediate sphere, whatever I produced could always be
reckoned good. Ladies, friends, and patrons will not consider bad that
which is undertaken and written out of affection for them. From such
obligations at last arises the expression of an empty satisfaction with
each other, in the phrases of which a character is easily lost, if it
is not from time to time steeled to higher excellence.

And thus I had the happiness to say that, by means of an unexpected
acquaintance, all the self-complacency, love of the looking-glass,
vanity, pride, and haughtiness that might have been resting or working
within me, were exposed to a very severe trial, which was unique in its
kind, by no means in accordance with the time, and therefore so much
the more searching and more sorely felt.

[Side-note: Herder.]

For the most important event, one that was to have the weightiest
consequences for me, was my acquaintance with HERDER, and the nearer
connexion with him which sprung from it. He accompanied the travels of
the Prince of Holstein-Eutin, who was in a melancholy state of mind,
and had come with him to Strasburg. Our society, as soon as it knew of
his arrival, was seized with a great longing to approach him, and this
good fortune happened to me first, quite unexpectedly and by chance.
I had gone to the Ghost tavern to inquire after some distinguished
stranger or other. Just at the bottom of the staircase I found a man
who was on the point of ascending, and whom I might have taken for a
clergyman. His powdered hair was put up in a queue, his black clothes
likewise distinguished him, but still more a long black silk mantle,
the skirts of which he had gathered up and stuck into his pocket. This
somewhat striking, but yet, on the whole, polite and pleasing figure,
of which I had already been told, left me not the least doubt that he
was the celebrated newcomer, and my address was to convince him at once
that I knew him. He asked my name, which could be of no consequence
to him; but my frankness seemed to please him, since he returned it
with great friendliness, and as we mounted the stairs, showed himself
ready immediately for animated communication. I have forgotten whom
we visited then; it is sufficient to say, that at parting I begged
permission to wait on him at his own residence, which he granted me
kindly enough. I did not neglect to avail myself repeatedly of this
favour, and was more and more attracted by him. He had somewhat of
softness in his manner, which was very suitable and becoming, without
being exactly easy. A round face, an imposing forehead, a somewhat
puggish nose, a mouth somewhat prominent, but highly characteristic,
pleasing, and amiable; a pair of coal-black eyes under black eye-brows,
which did not fail of their effect, although one of them used to be red
and inflamed. By various questions he tried to make himself acquainted
with me and my situation, and his power of attraction operated on me
with growing strength. I was, generally speaking, of a very confiding
disposition, and with him especially I had no secrets. It was not long,
however, before the repelling pulse of his nature began to appear, and
placed me in no small uneasiness. I related to him many things of my
youthful occupations and taste, and among others, of a collection of
seals, which I had principally gotten together through the assistance
of our family friend, who had an extensive correspondence. I had
arranged them according to the _State Calendar_, and by this means had
become well acquainted with the whole of the potentates, the greater
and lesser mightinesses and powers, even down to the nobility under
them. These heraldic insignia had often, and in particular at the
ceremonies of the coronation, been of use to my memory. I spoke of
these things with some complacency; but he was of another opinion, and
not only stripped the subject of all interest, but also contrived to
make it ridiculous and nearly disgusting.

From this his spirit of contradiction I had much to endure; for he
had resolved, partly because he wished to separate from the prince,
partly on account of a complaint in his eye, to remain in Strasburg.
This complaint is one of the most inconvenient and unpleasant, and
the more troublesome since it can be cured only by a painful, highly
irritating and uncertain operation. The tear-bag is closed below, so
that the moisture contained in it cannot flow off to the nose, and so
much the less as the adjacent bone is deficient in the aperture by
which this secretion should naturally take place. The bottom of the
tear-bag must therefore be cut open, and the bone bored through, when a
horse-hair is drawn through the lachrymal point, then down through the
opened bag, and the new canal thus put into connexion with it, and this
hair is moved backwards and forwards every day, in order to restore
the communication between the two parts;--all which cannot be done or
attained, if an incision is not first made externally in that place.

Herder was now separated from the prince, was moved into lodgings
of his own, and resolved to have himself operated upon by Lobstein.
Here those exercises by which I had sought to blunt my sensibility
did me good service; I was able to be present at the operation, and
to be serviceable and helpful in many ways to so worthy a man. I
found here every reason to admire his great firmness and endurance:
for neither during the numerous surgical operations, nor at the
oft-repeated painful dressings, did he show himself in any degree
irritable, and of all of us he seemed to be the one who suffered
least. But in the intervals, indeed, we had to endure the changes of
his temper in many ways. I say _we_ for besides myself, a pleasant
Russian, named PEGLOW, was mostly with him. This man had been an early
acquaintance of Herder's in Riga, and though no longer a youth, was
trying to perfect himself in surgery under Lobstein's guidance. Herder
could be charmingly prepossessing and brilliant, but he could just
as easily turn an ill-humoured side foremost. All men, indeed, have
this attraction and repulsion, according to their nature, some more,
some less, some in longer, some in shorter pulsations; few can really
control their peculiarities in this respect, many in appearance. As for
Herder, the preponderance of his contradictory, bitter, biting humour
was certainly derived from his disease and the sufferings arising from
it. This case often occurs in life; one does not sufficiently take
into consideration the moral effect of sickly conditions, and one
therefore judges many characters very unjustly, because it is assumed
that all men are healthy, and required of them that they shall conduct
themselves accordingly.

[Side-note: Herder.]

During the whole time of this cure I visited Herder morning and
evening; I even remained whole days with him, and in a short time
accustomed myself so much the more to his chiding and fault-finding,
as I daily learned to appreciate his beautiful and great qualities,
his extensive knowledge, and his profound views. The influence of this
good-natured blusterer was great and important. He was five years
older than myself, which in younger days makes a great difference
to begin with; and as I acknowledged him for what he was, and tried
to value that which he had already produced, he necessarily gained
a great superiority over me. But the situation was not comfortable;
for older persons, with whom I had associated hitherto, had sought
to form me with indulgence, perhaps had even spoiled me by their
lenity; but from Herder, behave as one might, one could never expect
approval. As now, on the one side, my great affection and reverence
for him, and on the other, the discontent which he excited in me,
were continually at strife with each other, there arose within me an
inward struggle, the first of its kind which I had experienced in my
life. Since his conversations were at all times important, whether he
asked, answered, or communicated his opinions in any other manner, he
could not but advance me daily, nay hourly, to new views. At Leipzig,
I had accustomed myself to a narrow and circumscribed existence, and
my general knowledge of German literature could not be extended by my
situation in Frankfort; nay, those mystico-religio-chemical occupations
had led me into obscure regions, and what had been passing for some
years back in the wide literary world, had for the most part remained
unknown to me. Now I was at once made acquainted by Herder with all the
new aspiration, and all the tendencies which it seemed to be taking. He
had already made himself sufficiently known, and by his _Fragments_,
his _Kritische Wälder_ (_Critical Woods_), and other works, had
immediately placed himself by the side of the most eminent men who had
for a long time drawn towards them the eyes of their country. What an
agitation there must have been in such a mind--what a fermentation
there must have been in such a nature--can neither be conceived nor
described. But great was certainly the concealed effort, as will be
easily admitted, when one reflects for how many years afterwards and
how much he has done and produced.

We had not lived together long in this manner when he confided to me
that he meant to be a competitor for the prize which was offered, at
Berlin, for the best treatise on the origin of language. His work was
already nearly completed, and, as he wrote a very neat hand, he could
soon communicate to me, in parts, a legible manuscript. I had never
reflected on such subjects, for I was yet too deeply involved in the
midst of things to have thought about their beginning and end. The
question, too, seemed to me in some measure an idle one; for if God
had created man as man, language was just as innate in him as walking
erect; he must have just as well perceived that he could sing with
his throat, and modify the tones in various ways with tongue, palate,
and lips, as he must have remarked that he could walk and take hold
of things. If man was of divine origin, so was also language itself;
and if man, considered in the circle of nature, was a natural being,
language was likewise natural. These two things, like soul and body,
I could never separate. Süssmilch, with a realism crude yet somewhat
fantastically devised, had declared himself for the divine origin, that
is, that God had played the schoolmaster to the first men. Herder's
treatise went to show that man as man could and must have attained to
language by his own powers. I read the treatise with much pleasure, and
it was of special aid in strengthening my mind; only I did not stand
high enough either in knowledge or thought to form a solid judgment
upon it. I therefore gave the author my applause, adding only a few
remarks which flowed from my way of viewing the subject. But one was
received just like the other; there was scolding and blaming, whether
one agreed with him conditionally or unconditionally. The fat surgeon
had less patience than I; he humorously declined the communication of
this prize-essay, and affirmed that he was not prepared to meditate on
such abstract topics. He urged us in preference to a game of ombre,
which we commonly played together in the evening.

[Side-note: Herder's Sarcasms.]

During so troublesome and painful a cure, Herder lost nothing of his
vivacity; but it became less and less amiable. He could not write a
note to ask for anything, that would not be spiced with some scoff or
other. Once, for instance, he wrote to me thus:--

    "If those letters of Brutus thou hast in thy Cicero's letters,
     Thou, whom consolers of schools, deck'd out in magnificent bindings,
     Soothe from their well plan'd shelves--yet more by the outside than
     Thou, who from gods art descended, or Goths, or from origin filthy,[1]
     Goethe, send them to me."

It was not polite, indeed, that he should allow himself this jest on my
name; for a man's name is not like a mantle, which merely hangs about
him, and which, perchance, may be safely twitched and pulled; but is a
perfectly fitting garment, which has grown over and over him like his
very skin, at which one cannot scratch and scrape without wounding the
man himself.

The first reproach, on the contrary, was better founded. I had brought
with me to Strasburg the authors I had obtained, by exchange, from
Langer, with various fine editions from my father's collection besides,
and had set them up on a neat book-case, with the best intentions of
using them. But how should my time, which I split up into an hundred
different activities, suffice for that? Herder, who was most attentive
to books, since he had need of them every moment, perceived my fine
collection at his first visit, but soon saw, too, that I made no use of
them. He, therefore, as the greatest enemy to all false appearances and
ostentation, was accustomed, on occasion, to rally me upon the subject.

Another sarcastic poem occurs to me, which he sent me one evening,
when I had been telling him a great deal about the Dresden gallery.
I had, indeed, not penetrated into the higher meaning of the Italian
school; but Dominico Feti, an excellent artist, although a humorist,
and therefore not of the first rank, had interested me much. Scripture
subjects had to be painted. He confined himself to the New Testament
parables, and was fond of representing them with much originality,
taste, and good-humour. He brought them altogether into every-day life,
and the spirited and _naïve_ details of his compositions, recommended
by a free pencil, had made a vivid impression upon me. At this, my
childish enthusiasm for art, Herder sneered in the following fashion:--

            "From sympathy,
    The master I like best of all
    Dominico Feti they call.
    A parable from Scripture he is able
    Neatly to turn into a crazy fable
    From sympathy:--thou crazy parable!"

I could mention many jokes of the kind, more or less clear or
abstruse, cheerful or bitter. They did not vex me, but made me feel
uncomfortable. Yet since I knew how to value highly everything that
contributed to my own cultivation, and as I had often given up former
opinions and inclinations, I soon accommodated myself, and only sought,
as far as it was possible for me from my point of view, to distinguish
just blame from unjust invectives. And thus no day passed over that had
not been, in the most fruitful manner, instructive to me.

I was made acquainted by him with poetry from quite a different side,
in another light than heretofore, and one, too, which suited me well.
The poetic art of the Hebrews, which he treated ingeniously after
his predecessor Lowth--popular poetry, the traditions of which in
Alsace he urged us to search after; and the oldest records existing
as poetry--all bore witness that poetry in general was a gift to the
world and to nations, and not the private inheritance of a few refined,
cultivated men. I swallowed all this, and the more eager I was in
receiving, the more liberal was he in giving, so that we spent the
most interesting hours together. The other natural studies which I had
begun, I endeavoured to continue, and as one always has time enough,
if one will apply it well, so amongst them all I succeeded in doing
twice or thrice as much as usual. As to the fulness of those few weeks
during which we lived together, I can well say that all which Herder
has gradually produced since, was then announced in the germ, and that
I thereby fell into the fortunate condition that I could completely
attach to something higher, and expand all that I had hitherto thought,
learned, and made my own. Had Herder been methodical, I should have
found the most precious guide for giving a durable tendency to my
cultivation; but he was more inclined to examine and stimulate,
than to lead and conduct. Thus he at first made me acquainted with
Hamann's writings, upon which he set a very great value. But instead
of instructing me as to these, and making the bias and drift of his
extraordinary mind intelligible to me, it generally only served him
for amusement when I behaved strangely enough, in trying to get at
the meaning of such sibylline leaves. However, I could well feel that
something in Hamann's writings appealed to me; and to this I gave
myself up, without knowing whence it came or whither it was leading me.

[Side-note: Herder's Departure.]

After the cure had lasted longer than was reasonable, Lobstein had
begun to hesitate, and to repeat himself in his treatment, so that
the affair would not come to an end; and Peglow, too, had confided
to me in private that a favourable issue was hardly to be expected;
the whole position became gloomy; Herder became impatient and out of
temper, he could not succeed in continuing his activity as heretofore,
and was obliged to restrain himself the more, as they began to lay
the blame of the surgical failure upon his too great mental exertion,
and his uninterrupted, animated, nay, merry intercourse with us. It
is sufficient to say, that after so much trouble and suffering, the
artificial tear-channel would not form itself, and the communication
intended would not take place. It was necessary to let the wound heal
over in order that the disease should not become worse. If, now, during
the operation, one could but admire Herder's firmness under such
pains, his melancholy and even fierce resignation to the idea that he
must bear such a blot about him all his life, had about it something
truly sublime, by which he gained for ever the reverence of those
who saw and loved him. This disease, which disfigured so expressive
a countenance, must have been so much the more afflicting to him, as
he had become acquainted with an excellent lady in Darmstadt, and had
gained her affections. It may have been for this cause principally that
he submitted to the cure, in order, on his return, to appear more free,
more cheerful, and more handsome in the eyes of his half-betrothed, and
to unite himself more certainly and indissolubly with her. However, he
hastened away from Strasburg as soon as possible, and since his stay
had hitherto been as expensive as it was unpleasant, I borrowed a sum
of money for him, which he promised to refund by an appointed day. The
time passed without the arrival of the money. My creditor, indeed, did
not dun me; but I was for several weeks in embarrassment. At last the
letter and the money came, and even here he did not act unlike himself;
for, instead of thanks or an apology, his letter contained nothing but
satirical things in doggerel verse, which would have puzzled, if not
alienated, another; but it did not move me at all, for I had conceived
so great and powerful an idea of his worth that it absorbed everything
of an opposite nature which could have injured it.

One should never speak, publicly at least, of one's own faults, or
those of others, if one does not hope to effect some useful purpose
by it; on this account I will here insert certain remarks which force
themselves upon me.

Gratitude and ingratitude belong to those events which appear every
moment in the moral world, and about which men can never agree
among themselves. I usually distinguish between non-thankfulness,
ingratitude, and aversion from gratitude. The first is innate with
men, nay, created with them; for it arises from a happy volatile
forgetfulness of the repulsive as well as of the delightful, by which
alone the continuation of life is possible. Man needs such an infinite
quantity of previous and concurrent assistances for a tolerable
existence, that if he would always pay to the sun and the earth, to
God and nature, to ancestors and parents, to friends and companions,
the thanks due to them, he would have neither time nor feeling left to
receive and enjoy new benefits. But if the natural man suffers this
volatility to get the control in and over him, a cold indifference
gains more and more the ascendancy, and one at last regards one's
benefactor as a stranger, to whose injury, perhaps, anything may be
undertaken, provided it be advantageous to ourselves. This alone
can properly be called ingratitude, which results from the rudeness
into which the uncultivated nature must necessarily lose itself at
last. Aversion from gratitude, however, the rewarding of a benefit
by ill-natured and sullen conduct, is very rare, and occurs only in
eminent men, such as, with great natural gifts, and a presentiment
of them, being born in a lower rank of society or in a helpless
condition, must, from their youth upwards, force themselves along, step
by step, and receive, at every point, aids and supports, which are
often embittered and repulsive to them through the coarseness of their
benefactors, since that which they receive is earthly, while that
which, on the other hand, they give, is of a higher kind, so that what
is, strictly speaking, a compensation, is out of the question. Lessing,
with the fine knowledge of earthly things which fell to his share in
the best years of his life, has in one place bluntly, but cheerfully
expressed himself. Herder, on the contrary, constantly embittered his
finest days, both for himself and others, because he knew not how to
moderate, by strength of mind in later years, that ill-humour which had
necessarily seized him in youth.

[Side-note: Artificial Gratitude.]

One may well make this demand of oneself: for, to a man's capability of
cultivation, comes, with friendly aid, the light of nature, which is
always active in enlightening him about his condition; and generally,
in many moral points of culture, one should not construe the failings
too severely, nor look about after the most serious and remote means of
correcting them; for certain faults may be easily and even playfully
removed. Thus, for instance, by mere habit, we can excite gratitude in
ourselves, keep it alive, and even make it necessary to us.

In a biographical attempt, it is proper to speak of oneself. I am, by
nature, as little grateful as any man, and on forgetting the benefit
received, the violent feeling of a momentary disagreement could very
easily beguile me into ingratitude.

To obviate this, I accustomed myself, in the first place, with
everything that I possessed, to call to mind with pleasure how I came
by it, from whom I received it, whether it was by way of present,
exchange, or purchase, or in any other manner. I have accustomed
myself, in showing my collections, to mention the persons by whose
means I obtained each article, nay, even to do justice to the occasion,
to the accident, to the remotest cause and coincidence, by which
things which are dear and of value to me have become mine. That
which surrounds us thus receives a life; we see in it a spiritual
combination, full of love, reminding us of its origin; and, by thus
making past circumstances present to us, our momentary existence is
elevated and enriched, the originators of the gifts rise repeatedly
before the imagination, we connect with their image a pleasing
remembrance, ingratitude becomes impossible, and a return, on occasion,
becomes easy and desirable. At the same time, we are led to the
consideration of that which is not a possession palpable to the senses,
and we love to recapitulate to whom our higher endowments are to be
ascribed, and whence they take their date.

Before I turn my attention from that connexion with Herder, which was
so important and so rich in consequences for me, I find yet something
more to adduce. Nothing was more natural than that I should by degrees
become more and more reserved towards Herder, in communicating those
things which had hitherto contributed to my culture, but especially
such as still seriously occupied my attention at the moment. He had
destroyed my enjoyment of so much that I had loved before, and had
especially blamed me in the strongest manner for the pleasure I took
in _Ovid's Metamorphoses._ I might defend my favourite as I would, I
might say that, for a youthful fancy, nothing could be more delightful
than to linger in those cheerful and glorious regions with gods
and demi-gods, and to be a witness of their deeds and passions; I
might circumstantially quote that previously mentioned opinion of a
sober-minded man, and corroborate it by my own experience; all this,
according to Herder, went for nothing; there was no immediate truth,
properly so called, to be found in these poems; here was neither
Greece nor Italy, neither a primitive world nor a cultivated one,
everything was rather an imitation of what had already existed, and
a mannerised representation, such as could be expected only from an
over-cultivated man. And if at last I would maintain, that whatever an
eminent individual produces is also nature, and that always, in all
nations, ancient and modern, the poet alone has been the maker; this
was not allowed to pass, and I had to endure much on this account, nay,
I was almost disgusted with my Ovid by it; for there is no affection,
no habit so strong, that it can hold out in the long run against the
animadversions of eminent men in whom one places confidence. Something
always cleaves to us, and if one cannot love unconditionally, love is
already in a critical condition.

I most carefully concealed from him my interest in certain subjects
which had rooted themselves within me, and were, by little and
little, moulding themselves into poetic form. These were _Götz von
Berlichingen_ and _Faust._ The biography of the former had seized my
inmost heart. The figure of a rude, well-meaning self-helper, in a
wild anarchical time, awakened my deepest sympathy. The significant
puppet-show fable of the latter resounded and vibrated many-toned
within me. I had also wandered about in all sorts of science, and had
early enough been led to see its vanity. I had, moreover, tried all
sorts of ways in real life, and had always returned more unsatisfied
and troubled. Now these things, as well as many others, I carried about
with me, and delighted myself with them during my solitary hours,
but without writing anything down. But most of all, I concealed from
Herder my mystico-cabalistical chemistry, and everything relating to
it, although, at the same time, I was still very fond of secretly
busying myself in working it out more consistently than it had been
communicated to me. Of my poetical labours, I believe I laid before
him _Die Mitschuldigen_, but I do not recollect that on this account
I received either correction or encouragement on his part. Yet, with
all this, he remained what he was; whatever proceeded from him had an
important, if not a cheering effect, and even his handwriting exercised
a magic power over me. I do not remember having ever torn up or thrown
away one of his letters, or even a mere envelope from his hand; yet,
with my various changes of place and time, not one document of those
strange, foreboding, and happy days is left.

[Side-note: Herder's Influence on Jung.]

That Herder's power of attraction operated upon others as well as upon
me, I should scarcely mention, had I not to remark that it extended
itself particularly to JUNG, commonly called STILLING. The true, honest
striving of this man could not but deeply interest everybody who had
any feeling, and his susceptibility must have charmed into candour
every one who was in a condition to impart anything. Even Herder
behaved towards him with more forbearance than towards the rest of us:
for his counter-action always seemed to stand in relation with the
action exerted upon him. Jung's narrowness was accompanied by so much
good-will, his urgency with so much softness and earnestness, that a
man of intelligence could certainly not be severe against him, and a
benevolent man could not scoff at him, or turn him into ridicule. Jung
was also exhilarated to such a degree by Herder, that he felt himself
strengthened and advanced in all he did; even his affection for me
seemed to lose ground in the same ratio; yet we always remained good
companions, made allowances for each other from first to last, and
mutually rendered the most friendly services.

Let us now, however, withdraw ourselves from the sick chamber of
friendship, and from the general considerations which refer rather to
disorder than to health of mind; let us betake ourselves into the open
air, to the lofty and broad gallery of the minster, as if the time were
still present, when we young fellows often appointed an evening meeting
to greet the departing sun with brimming goblets. Here all conversation
was lost in the contemplation of the country: here sharpness of
eye-sight was put to the proof, and every one strove to perceive, nay,
plainly to distinguish, the most distant objects. Good telescopes were
employed to assist us, and one friend after another exactly pointed out
the spot which had become the most dear and precious to him; and I also
did not lack such a little spot, which, although it did not come out
with importance in the landscape, nevertheless more than all the rest
attracted me with an amiable magic. On these occasions the imagination
was excited by relating our adventures, and several little jaunts were
concerted, nay, often undertaken on the spur of the moment, of which
I will circumstantially relate only one instead of a number, since in
many respects it was of consequence to me.

With two worthy friends and fellow-boarders, Engelbach and Weyland,
both natives of Lower Alsace, I repaired on horseback to Zabern, where,
in the fine weather, the friendly little place smiled pleasantly upon
us. The sight of the bishop's castle awakened our admiration; the
extent, height, and splendour of a new set of stables bore witness to
the other comforts of the owner. The gorgeousness of the staircase
surprised us, the chambers and saloons we trode with reverence, only
the person of the cardinal, a little wreck of a man, whom we saw at
table, made a contrast. The view of the garden is splendid, and a
canal, three quarters of a league long, which leads straight up to the
middle of the castle, gives a high idea of the taste and resources of
the former possessors. We rambled up and down there, and enjoyed many
parts of this beautifully situated whole, which lies on the outskirts
of the magnificent plain of Alsace, at the foot of the Vosges.

After we had enjoyed ourselves at this clerical outpost of a royal
power, and had made ourselves comfortable in its region, we arrived
early next morning at a public work, which most nobly opens the
entrance into a mighty kingdom. Illumined by the beams of the rising
sun, the famous Zabern-stairs, a work of incredible labour, rose before
us. A road, built serpentine-wise over the most fearful crags, and
wide enough for three wagons abreast, leads up hill so gently, that
the ascent is scarcely perceptible. The hardness and smoothness of the
way, the flat-topped elevations on both sides for the foot-passengers,
the stone channels to lead off the mountain-water, all are executed as
neatly as artistically and durably, so that they afford a satisfactory
view. Thus one gradually arrives at Pfalzburg, a modern fortification.
It lies upon a moderate hill; the works are elegantly built on blackish
rocks, and of the same kind of stone, and the joinings being pointed
out with white mortar, show exactly the size of the square stones, and
give a striking proof of neat workmanship. We found the place itself,
as is proper for a fortress, regular, built of stone, and the church in
good taste. When we wandered through the streets--it was nine o'clock
on Sunday morning--we heard music; they were already waltzing in the
tavern to their hearts' content, and as the inhabitants did not suffer
themselves to be disturbed in their pleasures by the great scarcity,
nay, by the threatened famine, so also our youthful cheerfulness
was not at all troubled when the baker on the road refused us some
bread, and directed us to the tavern, where perhaps we might procure
provisions at the usual place.

[Side-note: Zabern-Buchsweiler.]

We now very willingly rode down the Zabern-stairs again to gaze at
this architectural wonder a second time, and to enjoy once more the
refreshing prospect over Alsace. We soon reached Buchsweiler, where
friend Weyland had prepared for us a good reception. To a fresh
youthful mind the condition of a small town is well suited; family
connexions are closer and more perceptible; domestic life, which, with
moderate activity, moves hither and thither between light official
duties, town business, agriculture and gardening, invites us to a
friendly participation; sociableness is necessary, and the stranger
finds himself very pleasantly situated in the limited circles, if the
disputes of the inhabitants, which in such places are more palpable, do
not everywhere come in contact with him. This little town was the chief
place of the county of Hanau-Lichtenberg, belonging to the Landgrave of
Darmstadt, under French sovereignty. A regency and board of officers
established here made the place an important centre-point of a very
beautiful and desirable principality. We easily forgot the unequal
streets and the irregular architecture of the place when we went out
to look at the old castle and the gardens, which are excellently laid
out on a hill. Numerous little pleasure-woods, a preserve for tame and
mid pheasants, and the relics of many similar arrangements, showed how
pleasant this little residence must formerly have been.

Yet all these views were surpassed by the prospect which met the eye,
when, from the neighbouring Baschberg, one looked over the perfectly
paradisiacal region. This height, wholly heaped together out of
different kinds of shells, attracted my attention for the first time
to such documents of antiquity; I had never before seen them together
in so great a mass. Yet the curious eye soon turned itself exclusively
to the landscape. You stand on the last landward[2] mountain-point;
towards the north lies a fruitful plain, interspersed with little
forests, and bounded by a stem low of mountains that stretches itself
westward towards Zaber, where the episcopal palace and the abbey of St.
John, lying a league beyond it, may be plainly recognised. Thence the
eye follows the more and more vanishing chain of the Vosges towards the
south. If you turn to the north-east you see the castle of Lichtenberg
upon a rock, and towards the south-east the eye has the boundless plain
of Alsace to scrutinize, which, afar off, withdraws itself from the
sight in the more and more misty landscape, until at last the Suabian
mountains melt away like shadows into the horizon.

Already in my limited wanderings through the world, I had remarked
how important it is in travelling to inquire after the course of the
waters, and even to ask with respect to the smallest brook, whither
in reality it runs. One thus acquires a general survey of every
stream-region, in which one happens to be, a conception of the heights
and depths which bear relation to each other, and by these leading
fines, which assist the contemplation as well as the memory, extricates
oneself in the surest manner from the geological and political
labyrinth. With these observations, I took a solemn farewell of my
beloved Alsace, as the next morning we meant to turn our steps towards

The evening passed away in familiar conversation, in which we tried to
cheer ourselves up under a joyless present, by remembrances of a better
past. Here, as in the whole of this small country, the name of the
last Count Reinhard von Hanau was blessed above all others; his great
understanding and aptitude had appeared in all his actions, and many
a beautiful memorial of his existence yet remained. Such men have the
advantage of being double benefactors: once to the present, which they
make happy, and then to the future, the feeling of which and courage
they nourish and sustain.

[Side-note: Saarbrück.]

Now as we turned ourselves north-westward into the mountains, passed
by Lützelstein, an old mountain tower, in a very hilly country, and
descended into the region of the Saar and the Moselle, the heavens
began to lower, as if they would render yet more sensible to us the
condition of the more rugged western country. The valley of the Saar,
where we first found Bockenheim, a small place, and saw opposite to it
Neusaarwerden, which is well-built, with a pleasure-castle, is bordered
on both sides by mountains which might be called melancholy, if at
their foot an endless succession of meadows and fields, called the
Huhnau, did not extend as far as Saaralbe, and beyond it, further than
the eye can reach. Great buildings, belonging to the former stables of
the Duke of Lorraine, here attract the eye; they are at present used
as a dairy, for which purpose, indeed, they are very well situated.
We passed through Saargemünd to Saarbrück, and this little residence
was a bright point in a land so rocky and woody. The town, small and
hilly, but well adorned by the last prince, makes at once a pleasing
impression, as the houses are all painted a greyish white, and the
different elevation of them affords a variegated view. In the middle
of a beautiful square, surrounded with handsome buildings, stands the
Lutheran church, on a small scale, but in proportion with the whole.
The front of the castle lies on the same level with the town; the back,
on the contrary, on the declivity of a steep rock. This has not only
been worked out terrace-fashion, to afford easy access to the valley,
but an oblong garden-plot has also been obtained below, by turning off
the stream on one side, and cutting away the rock on the other, after
which this whole space was lastly filled up with earth and planted. The
time of this undertaking fell in the epoch when they used to consult
the architects about laying out gardens, just as at present they call
in the aid of the landscape-painter's eye. The whole arrangement of
the castle, the costly and the agreeable, the rich and the ornamental,
betokened a life-enjoying owner, such as the deceased prince had
been; the present sovereign was not at home. President von Günderode
received us in the most obliging manner, and entertained us for three
days better than we had a right to expect. I made use of the various
acquaintance which we formed to instruct myself in many respects. The
life of the former prince, rich in pleasure, gave material enough for
conversation, as well as the various expedients which he hit upon to
make use of the advantages supplied by the nature of his land. Here I
was now properly initiated into the interest for mountain countries,
and the love for those economical and technical investigations which
have busied me a great part of my life, was first awakened within me.
We heard of the rich coal-pits at Dutweil, of the iron and alum works,
and even of a burning mountain, and we prepared ourselves to see these
wonders close.

We now rode through woody mountains, which must seem wild and dreary to
him who comes out of a magnificent fertile land, and which can attract
us only by the internal contents of its bosom. We were made acquainted
with one simple, and one complicated piece of machinery, within a short
distance of each other; namely, a scythe-smithy and a wire-drawing
factory. If one is pleased at the first because it supplies the place
of common hands, one cannot sufficiently admire the other, for it works
in a higher organic sense, from which understanding and consciousness
are scarcely to be separated. In the alum-works we made accurate
inquiries after the production and purifying of this so necessary
material, and when we saw great heaps of a white greasy, loose, earthy
matter, and asked the use of it, the labourers answered, smiling, that
it was the scum thrown up in boiling the alum, and that Herr Stauf had
it collected, as he hoped perchance to turn it to some profit. "Is Herr
Stauf alive yet?" exclaimed my companion in surprise. They answered
in the affirmative, and assured us that according to the plan of our
journey we should not pass far from his lonely dwelling.

[Side-note: Coal and Alum-Works.]

Our road now led up along the channels by which the alum-water is
conducted down, and the principal horizontal works (_stollen_), which
they call the "_landgrube_," and from which the famous Dutweil coals
are procured. These, when they are dry, have the blue colour of darkly
tarnished steel, and the most beautiful succession of rainbow tints
plays over the surface with every movement. The deep abysses of the
coal-levels, however, attracted us so much the less as their contents
lay richly poured out around us. We now reached the open mine, in which
the roasted alum-scales are steeped in ley, and soon after, a strange
occurrence surprised us, although we had been prepared. We entered into
a chasm and found ourselves in the region of the Burning Mountain.
A strong smell of sulphur surrounded us; one side of the cavity was
almost red-hot, covered with reddish stone burnt white; thick fumes
arose from the crevices, and we felt the heat of the ground through our
strong boot-soles. An event so accidental, for it is not known how this
place became ignited, affords a great advantage for the manufacture
of alum, since the alum-scales of which the surface of the mountain
consists, lie there perfectly roasted, and may be steeped in a short
time and very well. The whole chasm had arisen by the calcined scales
being gradually removed and used up. We clambered up out of this depth,
and were on the top of the mountain. A pleasant beech-grove encircled
the spot, which followed up to the chasm and extended itself on both
sides of it. Many trees stood already dried up, some were withering
near others, which, as yet quite fresh, felt no forebodings of that
fierce heat which was approaching and threatening their roots also.

Upon this space different openings were steaming, others had already
done smoking, and this fire had thus smouldered for ten years already
through old broken-up pits and horizontal shafts, with which the
mountain is undermined. It may, too, have penetrated to the clefts
through new coal-beds: for, some hundred paces further into the wood,
they had contemplated following up manifest indications of an abundance
of coal; but they had not excavated far before a strong smoke burst
out against the labourers and dispersed them. The opening was filled
up again, yet we found the place still smoking as we went on our way
past it to the residence of our hermit-like chemist. This lies amid
mountains and woods; the vallies there take very various and pleasing
windings, the soil round about is black and of the coal kind, and
strata of it frequently come in sight. A coal philosopher--_philosophus
per ignem_, as they said formerly--could scarcely have settled himself
more suitably.

We came before a small house, not inconvenient for a dwelling, and
found Herr Stauf, who immediately recognised my friend, and received
him with lamentations about the new government. Indeed we could
see from what he said, that the alum-works, as well as many other
well-meant establishments, on account of external and perhaps internal
circumstances also, did not pay their expenses; with much else of the
sort. He belonged to the chemists of that time, who, with a hearty
feeling for all that could be done with the products of nature, took
delight in abstruse investigations of trifles and secondary matters,
and with their insufficient knowledge were not dexterous enough to do
that from which properly economical and mercantile profit is to be
derived. Thus the use which he promised himself from that scum lay
very far in the distance; thus he had nothing to show but a cake of
sal-ammoniac, with which the Burning Mountain had supplied him.

Ready** and glad to communicate his complaints to a human ear, the
lean, decrepit little man, with a shoe on one foot and a slipper on
the other, and with stockings hanging down and repeatedly pulled up in
vain, dragged himself up the mountain to where the resin-house stands,
which he himself had erected, and now, with great grief, sees falling
to ruins. Here was found a connected row of furnaces, where coal was
to be cleansed of sulphur, and made fit for use in iron-works; but at
the same time they wished also to turn the oil and resin to account;
nay, they would not even lose the soot; and thus all failed together,
on account of the many ends in view. During the life-time of the former
prince, the business had been carried on in the spirit of an amateur,
and in hope; now they asked for the immediate use, which was not to be

After we left our adept to his solitude, we hastened--for it was now
late--to the glass-house in Friedrichsthal, where we became acquainted,
on our way, with one of the most important and most wonderful
operations of human ingenuity.

Nevertheless, some pleasant adventures, and a surprising firework at
night-fall, net far from Neukirch, interested us young fellows almost
more than these important experiences. For as a few nights before,
on the banks of the Saar, shining clouds of glow-worms hovered around
us, betwixt rock and thicket, so now the spark-spitting forges played
their sprightly firework towards us. We passed, in the depth of night,
the smelting-houses situated in the bottom of the valley, and were
delighted with the strange half-gloom of these dens of plank, which are
but dimly lighted by a little opening in the glowing furnace. The noise
of the water, and of the bellows driven by it, the fearful whizzing and
shrieking of the blast of air which, raging into the smelted ore, stuns
the ears and confuses the senses, drove us away, at last, to turn into
Neukirch, which is built up against the mountain.

But, notwithstanding all the variety and fatigue of the day, I could
find no rest here. I left my friend to a happy sleep, and sought
the hunting-seat, which lay still further up. It looks out far over
mountain and wood, the outlines of which were only to be recognised
against the clear night-sky, but the sides and depths of which were
impenetrable to my sight. This well-preserved building stood as empty
as it was lonely; no castellan, no huntsman was to be found. I sat
before the great glass doors upon the steps which run around the whole
terrace. Here, surrounded by mountains, over a forest-grown, dark soil,
which seemed yet darker in contrast with the clear horizon of a summer
night, with the glowing starry vault above me, I sat for a long time
by myself on the deserted spot, and thought I never had felt such a
solitude. How sweetly, then, was I surprised by the distant sound of a
couple of French horns, which at once, like the fragrance of balsam,
enlivened the peaceful atmosphere. Then there awakened within me the
image of a lovely being, which had retired into the background before
the motley objects of these travelling days, but which now unveiled
itself-more and more, and drove me from the spot back to my quarters,
where I made preparations to set off with the earliest.

[Side-note: Zwey-Brücken.]

The return was not used like the journey out. Thus we hurried
through Zwey-brücken (Deux-Ponts), which, as a beautiful and notable
residence, might well have deserved our attention. We cast a glance
upon the great, simple castle, on the extensive esplanades, regularly
planted with linden-trees, and very well adapted for the training of
race-horses, and on the large stables, und the citizens' houses which
the prince had built to be raffled for. All this, as well as the
costume and manners of the inhabitants, especially of the matrons
and maids, had reference to a distant connexion, and made plainly
visible the relation with Paris, from which, for a long time, nothing
transrhenane had been able to withdraw itself. We visited also the
ducal wine-cellars, situated before the city, which are extensive, and
furnished with large, well-made tuns. We went on further, and at last
found the country like that in the neighbourhood of Saarbrück. Between
wild and savage mountains are a few villages; one here gets rid of the
habit of looking about for corn. We mounted up, by the side of the
Hornbach, to Bitsch, which lies on the important spot where the waters
divide, and fall, a part into the Saar, a part into the Rhine. These
last were soon to attract us towards them. Yet we could not refuse our
attention to the little city of Bitsch, which very picturesquely winds
around the mountain, nor to the fortress, which lies above. This is
partly built on rocks, and partly hewn out of them. The subterraneous
chambers are particularly worthy of remark; here is not only space
sufficient for the abode of a number of men and cattle, but one even
lights upon large vaults for the drilling of troops, a mill, a chapel,
and whatever else could be required under-ground, provided the surface
were in a state of disturbance.

We now followed the down-rushing brooks through Bärenthal. The thick
forests on both the heights remain unused by the hand of man. Here
trunks of trees lie rotting on each other by thousands, and young
scions sprout up without number from their half-mouldered progenitors.
Here, in conversation with some companions on foot, the name Von
Dieterich again struck our ears, which we had often heard honourably
mentioned already in these woody regions. The activity and cleverness
of this man, his wealth, and the use and applications of it, all seemed
in proportion. He could with justice take delight in the acquisitions
which he increased, and enjoy the profits he secured. The more I saw
of the world, the more pleasure I took, not only in the universally
famous names, but in those also, especially, which were mentioned in
particular regions with reverence and love: and thus I easily learned
here, by a few questions, that Von Dieterich, earlier than others, had
known how to make successful use of the mountain treasures, iron, coal,
and wood, and had worked his way to an ever-growing opulence.

Niederbrunn, where we now arrived, was a new proof of this. He had
purchased this little place from the Count of Leiningen and other
part-owners, to erect important iron-works in the place.

Here in these baths, already founded by the Romans, floated around me
the spirit of antiquity, venerable relics of which, in fragments of
bas-reliefs and inscriptions, capitals and shafts, shone out strangely
towards me, from farm-houses, amidst household lumber and furniture.

[Side-note: Sesenheim.]

As we were ascending the adjacent Wasenburg also, I paid my respects
to a well-preserved inscription, which discharged a thankful vow to
Mercury, and is situated upon the great mass of rock which forms the
base of the hill on one side. The fortress itself lies on the last
mountain, looking from Bitsch towards Germany. It is the ruin of a
German castle built upon Roman remains. From the tower the whole of
Alsace was once more surveyed, and the conspicuous minster-spire
pointed out the situation of Strasburg. First of all, however, the
great forest of Hagenau extended itself, and the towers of this town
peered plainly from behind. I was attracted thither. We rode through
Reichshof, where Von Dieterich built an imposing castle, and after we
had contemplated from the hills near Niedermoder the pleasing course of
the little river Moder, by the forest of Hagenau, I left my friend on a
ridiculous coal-mine visitation, which, at Dutweil, might have been a
somewhat more serious business, and I then rode through Hagenau, on the
direct road--already indicated by my affection--to my beloved Sesenheim.

For all these views into a wild, mountain region, and then, again,
into a cheerful, fruitful, joyous land, could not rivet my mind's
eye, which was directed to an amiable, attractive object. This time,
also, the hither way seemed to me more charming than its opposite, as
it brought me again into the neighbourhood of a lady to whom I was
heartily devoted, and who deserved as much respect as love. But before
I lead my friends to her rural abode, let me be permitted to mention
a circumstance which contributed very much to enliven and enhance my
affection, and the satisfaction which it afforded me.

[Side-note: The "Vicar of Wakefield."]

How far I must have been behindhand in modern literature, may be
gathered from the mode of life which I led at Frankfort, and from
the studies to which I had devoted myself; nor could my residence in
Strasburg have furthered me in this respect. Now Herder came, and
together with his great knowledge brought many other aids, and the
later publications besides. Among these he announced to us the _Vicar
of Wakefield_ as an excellent work, with the German translation of
which he would make us acquainted by reading it aloud to us himself.

His method of reading was quite peculiar; whoever has heard him preach
will be able to form a notion of it. He delivered everything, this
romance included, in a serious and simple style, perfectly removed
from all dramatically imitative representation; he even avoided that
variety which is not only permitted, but even required, in an epical
delivery--a slight change of tone when different persons speak, by
which what every one says is brought into relief, and the actor is
distinguished from the narrator. Without being monotonous, Herder let
everything go on in the same tone, just as if nothing was present
before him, but all was merely historical; as if the shadows of this
poetic creation did not act livingly before him, but only glided gently
by. Yet this manner of delivery from his mouth had an infinite charm;
for, as he felt all most deeply, and knew how to estimate the variety
of such a work, so the whole merit of a production appeared purely and
the more clearly, as one was not disturbed by details sharply spoken
out, nor interrupted in the feeling which the whole was meant to

A Protestant country clergyman is, perhaps, the most beautiful
subject for a modern idyl; he appears, like Melchizedek, as priest
and king in one person. To the most innocent situation which can be
imagined on earth, to that of a husbandman, he is, for the most part,
united by similarity of occupation, as well as by equality in family
relationships; he is a father, a master of a family, an agriculturist,
and thus perfectly a member of the community. On this pure, beautiful,
earthly foundation, rests his higher calling: to him is it given to
guide men through life, to take care** of their spiritual education, to
bless them at all the leading epochs of their existence, to instruct,
to strengthen, to console them, and, if consolation is not sufficient
for the present, to call up and guarantee the hope of a happier future.
Imagine such a man, with pure human sentiments, strong enough not to
deviate from them under any circumstances, and by this already elevated
above the multitude, of whom one cannot expect purity and firmness;
give him the learning necessary for his office, as well as a cheerful,
equable activity, which is even passionate, as it neglects no moment
to do good,--and you will have him well endowed. But at the same time
add the necessary limitation, so that he must not only pause in a
small circle, but may also perchance pass over to a smaller; grant him
good-nature, placability, resolution, and everything else praiseworthy
that springs from a decided character, and over all this a cheerful
spirit of compliance, and a smiling toleration of his own failings and
those of others,--then you will have put together pretty well the image
of our excellent Wakefield.

[Side-note: The "Vicar of Wakefield."]

The delineation of this character on his course of life through
joys and sorrows, the ever-increasing interest of the story, by the
combination of the entirely natural with the strange and the singular,
make this novel one of the best which has ever been written; besides
this, it has the great advantage that it is quite moral, nay, in a pure
sense, Christian--represents the reward of a good will and perseverance
in the right, strengthens an unconditional confidence in God, and
attests the final triumph of good over evil; and all this without a
trace of cant or pedantry. The author was preserved from both of these
by an elevation of mind that shows itself throughout in the form of
irony, by which this little work must appear to us as wise as it is
amiable. The author, Dr. Goldsmith, has without question great insight
into the moral world, into its strength and its infirmities; but at the
same time he can thankfully acknowledge that he is an Englishman, and
reckon highly the advantages which his country and his nation afford
him. The family, with the delineation of which he occupies himself,
stands upon one of the last steps of citizen comfort, and yet comes in
contact with the highest; its narrow circle, which becomes still more
contracted, touches upon the great world through the natural and civil
course of things; this little skiff floats on the agitated waves of
English life, and in weal or woe it has to expect injury or help from
the vast fleet which sails around it.

I may suppose that my readers know this work, and have it in memory;
whoever hears it named for the first time here, as well as he who
is induced to read it again, will thank me. For the former, I would
merely make the cursory remark, that the vicar's wife is of that
good, busy sort, who allows herself and her own to want for nothing,
but who is also somewhat vain of herself and her own. There are two
daughters,--Olivia, handsome and more devoted to the external, and
Sophia, charming and more given to the internal; nor will I omit to
mention an industrious son, Moses, who is somewhat blunt and emulous of
his father.

If Herder could be accused of any fault in his reading aloud, it was
impatience; he did not wait until the hearer had heard and comprehended
a certain part of the progress, so as to be able to feel and think
correctly about it; hurrying on, he would see their effect at once,
and yet he was displeased even with this when it manifested itself. He
blamed the excess of feeling which overflowed from me more and more
at every step. I felt like a man, like a young man; everything was
living, true, and present before me. He, considering only the intrinsic
contents and form, saw clearly, indeed, that I was overpowered by the
subject-matter, and this he would not allow. Then Peglow's reflections,
which were not of the most refined, were still worse received; but he
was especially angry at our want of keenness in not seeing beforehand
the contrasts of which the author often makes use, and in suffering
ourselves to be moved and carried away by them without remarking the
oft-returning artifice. He would not pardon us for not seeing at once,
or at least suspecting at the very beginning, where Burchell is on the
point of discovering himself by passing over in his narration from the
third to the first person, that he himself is the lord of whom he is
speaking; and when, finally, we rejoiced like children at the discovery
and the transformation of the poor, needy wanderer, into a rich,
powerful lord, he immediately recalled the passage, which, according to
the author's plan, we had overlooked, and read us a powerful lecture
on our stupidity. It wall be seen from this that he regarded the work
merely as a production of art, and required the same of us, who were
yet wandering in that state where it is very allowable to let works of
art affect us like productions of nature.

I did not suffer myself to be at all perplexed by Herder's invectives;
for young people have the happiness or unhappiness, that, when once
anything has produced an effect on them, this effect must be wrought
out within themselves; from which much good, as well as much mischief,
arises. The above work had left with me a great impression, for which I
could not account, but properly speaking, I felt myself in harmony with
that ironical tone of mind which elevates itself above every object,
above fortune and misfortune, good and evil, death and life, and thus
attains to the possession of a truly poetical world. I could not,
indeed, become conscious of this until later; it was enough that it
gave me much to do at the moment; but I could by no means have expected
to be so soon transposed from this fictitious world into a similar real

[Side-note: Pleasures of Travelling Incognito.]

My fellow-boarder, Weyland, who enlivened his quiet, laborious life by
visiting from time to time his friends and relations in the country
(for he was a native of Alsace), did me many services on my little
excursions, by introducing me to different localities and families,
sometimes in person, sometimes by recommendations. He had often spoken
to me about a country clergyman who lived near Drusenheim, six leagues
from Strasburg, in possession of a good benefice, with an intelligent
wife and a pair of amiable daughters. The hospitality and agreeableness
of this family were always highly extolled. It scarcely needed so much
to draw thither a young knight who had already accustomed himself to
spend all his leisure days and hours on horseback and in the open air.
We decided therefore upon this trip, and my friend had to promise that
on introducing me he would say neither good nor ill of me, but would
treat me with general indifference, and would allow me to make my
appearance clad, if not meanly, yet somewhat poorly and negligently. He
consented to this, and promised himself some sport from it.

It is a pardonable whim in men of consequence, to place their
exterior advantages in concealment now and then, so as to allow their
own internal human nature to operate with the greater purity. For
this reason the incognito of princes, and the adventures resulting
therefrom, are always highly pleasing; these appear disguised
divinities, who can reckon at double its value all the good offices
shown to them as individuals, and are in such a position that they
can either make light of the disagreeable or avoid it. That Jupiter
should be well pleased in his incognito with Philemon and Baucis, and
Henry the Fourth with his peasants after a hunting party, is quite
conformable to nature, and we like it well; but that a young man
without importance or name, should take it into his head to derive
some pleasure from an incognito, might be construed by many as an
unpardonable piece of arrogance. Yet since the question here is not of
such views and actions, so far as they are praiseworthy or blameable,
but so far as they can manifest themselves and actually occur, we
will on this occasion, for the sake of our own amusement, pardon the
youngster his self-conceit; and the more so, as I must here allege,
that from youth upwards, a love for disguising myself had been excited
in me even by my stem father.

This time, too, partly by some cast-off clothes of my own, partly by
some borrowed garments and by the manner of combing my hair, I had, if
not disfigured myself, yet at least decked myself out so oddly, that my
friend could not help laughing on the way, especially as I knew how to
imitate perfectly the bearing and gestures of such figures when they
sit on horseback, and which are called "Latin riders." The fine road,
the most splendid weather, and the neighbourhood of the Rhine, put
us in the best humour. At Drusenheim we stopped a moment, he to make
himself spruce, and I to rehearse my part, out of which I was afraid
I should now and then fall. The country here has the characteristics
of all the open, level Alsace. We rode on a pleasant foot-path over
the meadows, soon reached Sesenheim, left our horses at the tavern,
and walked leisurely towards the parsonage. "Do not be put out," said
Weyland, showing me the house from a distance, "because it looks like
an old miserable farm-house, it is so much the younger inside." We
stepped into the court-yard; the whole pleased me well: for it had
exactly that which is called picturesque, and which had so magically
interested me in Dutch art. The effect which time produces on all
human work was strongly perceptible. House, barn, and stable were just
at that point of dilapidation where, indecisive and doubtful between
preserving and rebuilding, one often neglects the one without being
able to accomplish the other.

[Side-note: The Pastor's Family.]

As in the village, so in the court-yard, all was quiet and deserted. We
found the father, a little man, wrapped up within himself, but friendly
notwithstanding, quite alone, for the family were in the fields. He
bade us welcome, and offered us some refreshment, which we declined.
My friend hurried away to look after the ladies, and I remained alone
with our host. "You are perhaps surprised," said he, "to find me
so miserably quartered in a wealthy village, and "with a lucrative
benefice; but," he continued, "this proceeds from irresolution. Long
since it has been promised me by the parish, and even by those in
higher places, that the house shall be rebuilt; many plans have been
already drawn, examined and altered, none of them altogether rejected,
and none carried into execution. This has lasted so many years, that
I scarcely know how to command my impatience." I made him an answer
such as I thought likely to cherish his hopes, and to encourage him
to pursue the affair more vigorously. Upon this he proceeded to
describe familiarly the personages on whom such matters depended, and
although he was no great delineator of character, I could nevertheless
easily comprehend how the whole business must have been delayed. The
confidential tone of the man was something peculiar; he talked to
me as if he had known me for ten years, while there was nothing in
his look from which I could have suspected that he was directing any
attention to me. At last my friend came in with the mother. She seemed
to look at me with quite different eyes. Her countenance was regular,
and the expression of it intelligent; she must have been beautiful in
her youth. Her figure was tall and spare, but not more so than became
her years, and when seen from behind, she had yet quite a youthful and
pleasing appearance. The elder daughter then came bouncing in briskly;
she inquired after Frederica, just as both the others had also done.
The father assured them that he had not seen her since all three had
gone out together. The daughter again went out at the door to look for
her sister; the mother brought us some refreshment, and Weyland, with
the old couple, continued the conversation, which referred to nothing
but known persons and circumstances; as, indeed, it is usually the
case when acquaintances meet after some length of time, that they make
inquiries, and mutually give each other information about the members
of a large circle. I listened, and now learned how much I had to
promise myself from this circle.

The elder daughter again came hastily back into the room, uneasy at
not having found her sister. They were anxious about her, and blamed
her for this or that bad habit; only the father said, very composedly,
"Let her alone; she has already come back!" At this instant she
really entered the door; and then truly a most charming star arose
in this rural heaven. Both daughters still wore nothing but German,
as they used to call it, and this almost obsolete national costume
became Frederica particularly well. A short, white, full skirt, with a
furbelow, not so long but that the neatest little feet were visible up
to the ankle; a tight white bodice and a black taffeta apron,--thus she
stood on the boundary between country girl and city girl. Slender and
light, she tripped along as if she had nothing to carry, and her neck
seemed almost too delicate for the large fair braids on her elegant
little head. From cheerful blue eyes she looked very plainly round, and
her pretty turned-up nose peered as freely into the air as if there
could be no care in the world; her straw hat hung on her arm, and thus,
at the first glance, I had the delight of seeing her, and acknowledging
her at once in all her grace and loveliness.

I now began to act my character with moderation, half ashamed to play
a joke on such good people, whom I had time enough to observe: for the
girls continued the previous conversation, and that with passion and
some display of temper. All the neighbours and connexions were again
brought forward, and there seemed, to my imagination, such a swarm
of uncles and aunts, relations, cousins, comers, goers, gossips and
guests, that I thought myself lodged in the liveliest world possible.
All the members of the family had spoken some words with me, the mother
looked at me every time she came in or went out, but Frederica first
entered into conversation with me, and as I took up and glanced through
some music that was lying around, she asked me if I played also? When I
answered in the affirmative, she requested me to perform something; but
the father would not allow this, for he maintained that it was proper
to serve the guest first with some piece of music or a song.

She played several things with some readiness, in the style which one
usually hears in the country, and on a harpsichord, too, that the
schoolmaster should have tuned long since, if he had only had time. She
was now to sing a song also, a certain tender-melancholy affair; but
she did not succeed in it. She rose up and said, smiling, or rather
with that touch of serene joy which ever reposed, on her countenance,
"If I sing badly, I cannot lay the blame on the harpsichord or the
schoolmaster; but let us go out of doors; then you shall hear my
Alsatian and Swiss songs; they sound much better."

[Side-note: Comparison with the "Vicar of Wakefield."]

During supper, a notion which had already struck me, occupied me to
such a degree, that I became meditative and silent, although the
liveliness of the elder sister, and the gracefulness of the younger,
shook me often enough out of my contemplations. My astonishment at
finding myself so actually in the Wakefield family was beyond all
expression. The father, indeed, could not be compared with that
excellent man; but where will you find his like? On the other hand, all
the dignity which is peculiar to that husband, here appeared in the
wife. One could not see her without at the same time reverencing and
fearing her. In her were remarked the fruits of a good education; her
demeanour was quiet, easy, cheerful, and inviting.

If the elder daughter had not the celebrated beauty of Olivia, yet she
was well-made, lively, and rather impetuous; she everywhere showed
herself active, and lent a helping hand to her mother in all things. To
put Frederica in the place of Primrose's Sophia was not difficult; for
little is said of the latter, it is only taken for granted that she is
amiable; and this girl was amiable indeed. Now as the same occupation
and the same situation, wherever they may occur, produce similar, if
not the same effects, so here too many things were talked about, many
things happened, which had already taken place in the Wakefield family.
But when at last a younger son, long announced and impatiently expected
by the father, at last sprang into the room, and boldly sat himself
down by us, taking but little notice of the guests, I could scarcely
help exclaiming, "Moses, are you here too!"

The conversation at table extended my insight into this country and
family circle, since the discourse was about various droll incidents
which had happened now here, now there. Frederica, who sat by me,
thence took occasion to describe to me different localities which
it was worth while to visit. As one little story always calls forth
another, I was able to mingle so much the better in the conversation,
and to relate similar incidents, and as, besides this, a good country
wine was by no means spared, I stood in danger of slipping out of my
character, for which reason my more prudent friend took advantage of
the beautiful moonlight, and proposed a walk, which was approved at
once. He gave his arm to the elder, I to the younger, and thus we went
through the wide field, paying more attention to the heavens above us
than to the earth, which lost itself in extension around us. There
was, however, nothing of moonshine in Frederica's discourse; by the
clearness with which she spoke she turned night into day, and there
was nothing in it which would have indicated or excited any feeling,
except that her expressions related more than hitherto to me, since she
represented to me her own situation, as well as the neighbourhood and
her acquaintances, just as far as I should be acquainted with them; for
she hoped, she added, I would make no exception, and would visit them
again, as all strangers had willingly done who had once stopped with

It was very pleasant to me to listen silently to the description which
she gave of the little world in which she moved, and of the persons
whom she particularly valued. She thereby imparted to me a clear, and,
at the same time, such an amiable idea of her situation, that it had
a very strange effect on me; for I felt at once a deep regret that I
had not lived with her sooner, and at the same time a truly painful
envious feeling towards all who had hitherto had the good fortune to
surround her. I at once watched closely, as if I had a right to do so,
all her descriptions of men, whether they appeared under the names of
neighbours, cousins, or gossips, and my conjectures inclined now this
way, now that; but how could I have discovered anything in my complete
ignorance of all the circumstances? She at last became more and more
talkative, and I more and more silent. It was so pleasant to listen to
her, and as I heard only her voice, while the form of her countenance,
as well as the rest of the world, floated dimly in the twilight, it
seemed to me as if I could see into her heart, which I could not but
find very pure, since it unbosomed itself to me in such unembarrassed

[Side-note: Comparison with the "Vicar of Wakefield."]

When my companion retired with me into the guest-chamber, which was
prepared for us, he at once, with self-complacency, broke out into
pleasant jesting, and took great credit to himself for having surprised
me so much with the similarity to the Primrose family. I chimed in
with him by showing myself thankful. "Truly," cried he, "the story is
quite complete. This family may very well be compared to that, and the
gentleman in disguise here may assume the honour of passing for Mr.
Burchell; moreover, since scoundrels are not so necessary in common
life as in novels, I will for this time undertake the _rôle_ of the
nephew, and behave myself better than he did." However, I immediately
changed this conversation, pleasant as it might be to me, and asked
him, before all things, on his conscience, if he had not really
betrayed me? He answered me, "No!" and I could believe him. They had
rather inquired, said he, after the merry table-companion who boarded
at the same house with him in Strasburg, and of whom they had been told
all sorts of preposterous stuff. I now went to other questions: Had she
ever been in love? Was she now in love? Was she engaged? He replied
to all in the negative. "In truth," replied I, "such a cheerfulness
by nature is inconceivable to me. Had she loved and lost, and again
recovered herself, or had she been betrothed,--in both these cases I
could account for it."

Thus we chatted together far into the night, and I was awake again at
the dawn. My desire to see her once more seemed unconquerable; but
while I dressed myself, I was horrified at the accursed wardrobe I had
so wantonly selected. The further I advanced in putting on my clothes,
the meaner I seemed in my own eyes; for everything had been calculated
for just this effect. My hair I might perchance have set to rights; but
when at last I forced myself into the borrowed, worn-out grey coat,
and the short sleeves gave me the most absurd appearance, I fell the
more decidedly into despair, as I could see myself only piecemeal, in a
little looking-glass since one part always looked more ridiculous than
the other.

During this toilette my friend awoke, and with the satisfaction of a
good conscience, and in the feeling of pleasurable hope for the day,
looked out at me from the quilted silk coverlet. I had for a long time
already envied him his fine clothes, as they hung over the chair, and
had he been of my size, I would have carried them off before his eyes,
changed my dress outside, and hurrying into the garden, left my cursed
husk for him; he would have had good-humour enough to put himself into
my clothes, and the tale would have found a merry ending early in the
morning. But that was not now to be thought of, no more was any other
feasible accommodation. To appear again before Frederica in the figure
in which my friend could give me out as a laborious and accomplished
but poor student of theology,--before Frederica, who the evening before
had spoken so friendly to my disguised self,--that was altogether
impossible. There I stood, vexed and thoughtful, and summoned all my
power of invention; but it deserted me! But now when he, comfortably
stretched out, after fixing his eyes upon me for a while, all at once
burst out into a loud laugh, and exclaimed, "No! it is true, you do
look most cursedly!" I replied impetuously, "And I know what I will do.
Good bye, and make my excuses!" "Are you mad?" cried he, springing**
out of bed and trying to detain me. But I was already out of the door,
down the stairs, out of the house and yard, off to the tavern; in an
instant my horse was saddled, and I hurried away in mad vexation,
galloping towards Drusenheim, then through that place, and still
further on.

As I now thought myself in safety, I rode more slowly, and now first
felt how infinitely against my will I was going away. But I resigned
myself to my fate, made present to my mind the promenade of yesterday
evening with the greatest calmness, and cherished the secret hope of
seeing her soon again. But this quiet feeling soon changed itself again
into impatience, and I now determined to ride rapidly into the city,
change my dress, take a good, fresh horse, since then, as my passion
made me believe, I could at all events return before dinner, or, as
was more probable, to the dessert, or towards evening, and beg my

[Side-note: The Exchange of Clothes.]

I was just about to put spurs to my horse to execute this plan, when
another, and, as seemed to me, a very happy thought, passed through
my mind. In the tavern at Drusenheim, the day before, I had noticed
a son of the landlord very nicely dressed, who, early this morning,
being busied about his rural arrangements, had saluted me from his
court-yard. He was of my figure, and had for the moment reminded me of
myself. No sooner thought than done! My horse was hardly turned round,
when I found myself in Drusenheim; I brought him into the stable, and
in a few words made the fellow my proposal, namely, that he should lend
me his clothes, as I had something merry on foot at Sesenheim. I had no
need to talk long; he agreed to the proposition with joy, and praised
me for wishing to make some sport for the _Mamsells_; they were, he
said, such capital people, especially Mamselle Riekchen,[3] and the
parents, too, liked to see everything go on merrily and pleasantly.
He considered me attentively, and as from my appearance he might have
taken me for a poor starveling, he said, "If you wish to insinuate
yourself, this is the right way." In the meanwhile we had already
proceeded far in our toilette, and properly speaking he should not
have trusted me with his holiday clothes on the strength of mine; but
he was honest-hearted, and, moreover, had my horse in his stable. I
soon stood there smart enough, gave myself a consequential air, and my
friend seemed to regard his counterpart with complacency. "Topp,[4] Mr.
Brother!" said he, giving me his hand, which I grasped heartily, "don't
come too near my girl; she might make a mistake!"

My hair, which had now its full growth again, I could part at top,
much like his, and as I looked at him repeatedly, I found it comical
moderately to imitate his thicker eyebrows with a burnt cork, and
bring mine nearer together in the middle, so that with my enigmatical
intentions, I might make myself an external riddle likewise. "Now have
you not," said I, as he handed me his be-ribboned hat, "something or
other to be done at the parsonage, that I might announce myself there
in a natural manner?" "Good!" replied he, "but then you must wait two
hours yet. There is a woman confined at our house; I will offer to take
the cake to the parson's wife,[5] and you may carry it over. Pride must
pay its penalty, and so must a joke." I resolved to wait, but these
two hours were infinitely long, and I was dying of impatience when
the third hour passed before the cake came out of the oven. At last I
got it quite hot, and hastened away with my credentials in the most
beautiful sunshine, accompanied for a distance by my counterpart, who
promised to come after me in the evening and bring me my clothes. This,
however, I briskly declined, and stipulated that I should deliver up to
him his own.

[Side-note: Goethe's Disguise.]

I had not skipped far with my present, which I carried in a neat
tied-up napkin, when, in the distance, I saw my friend coming towards
me with the two ladies. My heart was uneasy, which was certainly
unsuitable under this jacket. I stood still, took breath, and tried to
consider how I should begin; and now I first remarked that the nature
of the ground was very much in my favour; for they were walking on the
other side of the brook, which, together with the strips of meadow
through which it ran, kept the two footpaths pretty far apart. When
they were just opposite to me, Frederica, who had already perceived
me long before, cried, "George, what are you bringing there?" I was
clever enough to cover my face with my hat, which I took off, while I
held up the loaded napkin high in the air. "A christening cake!" cried
she at that; "how is your sister?" "Well,"[6] said I, for I tried to
talk in a strange dialect, if not exactly in the Alsatian. "Carry it
to the house!" said the elder, "and if you do not find my mother, give
it to the maid; but wait for us, we shall soon be back.--do you hear?"
I hastened along my path in the joyous feeling of the best hope that,
as the beginning was so lucky, all would go off well, and I had soon
reached the parsonage. I found nobody either in the house or in the
kitchen; I did not wish to disturb the old gentleman, whom I might
suppose busy in the study; I therefore sat down on the bench before the
door, with the cake beside me, and pressed my hat upon my face.

I cannot easily recall a pleasanter sensation. To sit again on this
threshold, over which, a short time before, I had blundered out in
despair; to have seen her already again, to have already heard again
her dear voice, so soon after my chagrin had pictured to me a long
separation, every moment to be expecting herself and a discovery, at
which my heart throbbed, and yet, in this ambiguous case, a discovery
without shame; for at the very beginning it was a merrier prank than
any of those they had laughed at so much yesterday. Love and necessity
are the best masters; they both acted together here, and their pupil
was not unworthy of them.

[Side-note: "Frederica's Repose."]

But the maid came stepping out of the barn. "Now! did the cakes turn
out well?" cried she to me; "how is your sister?" "All right," said
I, and pointed to the cake without looking up. She took up the napkin
and muttered, "Now, what's the matter with you to-day again? Has
Barbchen[7] been looking again at somebody else? Don't let us suffer
for that! You will make a happy couple if you carry on so!" As she
spoke pretty loud, the pastor came to the window and asked what was
the matter. She showed him to me; I stood up and turned myself towards
him; but still kept the hat over my face. When he had spoken somewhat
friendly to me, and had asked me to remain, I went towards the garden,
and was just going in, when the pastor's wife, who was entering the
courtyard gate, called to me. As the sun shone right in my face, I one
more availed myself of the advantage which my hat afforded me, and
greeted her by scraping a leg; but she went into the house after she
had bidden me not to go away without eating something. I now walked up
and down in the garden; everything had hitherto had the best success,
yet I breathed hard when I reflected that the young people now would
soon return. But the mother unexpectedly stepped up to me, and was
just going to ask me a question, when she looked me in the face, so
that I could not conceal myself any longer, and the words stuck in
her throat. "I am looking for George," said she, after a pause, "and
whom do I find? Is it you, young sir? How many forms have you, then?"
"In earnest only one," replied I; "in sport as many as you like."
"Which sport I will not spoil," smiled she; "go out behind the garden
into the meadow until it strikes twelve, then come back, and I shall
already have contrived the joke." I did so; but when I was beyond
the hedges of the village gardens, and was going along the meadows,
towards me some country people came by the footpath, and put me in
some embarrassment. I therefore turned aside into a little wood, which
crowned an elevation quite near, in order to conceal myself there till
the appointed time. Yet how strangely did I feel when I entered it; for
there appeared before me a neat place, with benches, from every one
of which was a pretty view of the country. Here was the village and
the steeple, here Drusenheim, and behind it the woody islands of the
Rhine; in the opposite direction was the Vosgian mountain range, and at
last the minster of Strasburg. These different heaven-bright pictures
were set in bushy frames, so that one could see nothing more joyous
and pleasing. I sat down upon one of the benches, and noticed on the
largest tree an oblong little board with the inscription, "Frederica's
Repose." It never occurred to me that I might have come to disturb this
repose; for a budding passion has this beauty about it, that, as it is
unconscious of its origin, neither can it have any thought of an end,
nor, while it feels itself glad and cheerful, have any presentiment
that it may also create mischief.

I had scarcely had time to look about me and was losing myself in sweet
reveries, when I heard somebody coming; it was Frederica herself.
"George, what are you doing here?" she cried from a distance. "Not
George!" cried I, running towards her, "but one who craves forgiveness
of you a thousand rimes." She looked at me with astonishment, but soon
collected herself, and said, after fetching her breath more deeply,
"You abominable man, how you frighten me!" "The first disguise has
led me into the second," exclaimed I; "the former would have been
unpardonable if I had only known in any degree to whom I was going;
but this one you will certainly forgive, for it is the shape of
persons whom you treat so kindly." Her pale cheeks had coloured up
with the most beautiful rose-red. "You shall not be worse off than
George, at any rate! But let us sit down! I confess the fright has
gone into my limbs." I sat down beside her, exceedingly agitated.
"We know everything already, up to this morning, from your friend,"
said she, "now do you tell me the rest." I did not let her say that
twice, but described to her my horror at my yesterday's figure, and my
rushing out of the house, so comically, that she laughed heartily and
graciously; then I went on to what followed, with all modesty, indeed,
yet passionately enough, so that it might have passed for a declaration
of love in historical form. At last I solemnized my pleasure at finding
her again, by a kiss upon her hand, which she suffered to remain in
mine. If she had taken upon herself the expense of the conversation
during yesterday evening's moonlight walk, I now, on my part, richly
repaid the debt. The pleasure of seeing her again, and being able to
say to her everything that I had yesterday kept back, was so great
that, in my eloquence, I did not remark how meditative and silent she
was. Once more she deeply fetched her breath, and over and over again I
begged her forgiveness for the fright which I had caused her. How long
we may have sat I know not; but at once we heard some one call. It was
the voice of her sister. "That will be a pretty story," said the dear
girl, restored to her perfect cheerfulness; "she is coming hither on
my side," she added, bending so as half to conceal me; "turn yourself
away, so that you may not be recognised at once." The sister entered
the place, but not alone; Weyland was with her, and both, when they saw
us, stood still, as if petrified.

If we should all at once see a flame burst out violently from a quiet
roof, or should meet a monster whose deformity was at the same time
revolting and fearful, we should not be struck with such a fierce
horror as that which seizes us when, unexpectedly, we see with our own
eyes what we have believed morally impossible. "What is this?" cried
the elder, with the rapidity of one who is frightened; "what is this?
you with George, hand-in-hand! How am I to understand this?" "Dear
sister," replied Frederica, very doubtfully, "the poor fellow,--he
is begging something of me; he has something to beg of you, too,
but you must forgive him beforehand." "I do not understand--I do
not comprehend--" said her sister, shaking her head and looking at
Weyland, who, in his quiet way, stood by in perfect tranquillity, and
contemplated the scene without any kind of expression. Frederica arose
and drew me after her. "No hesitating!" cried she; "pardon begged and
granted!" "Now do!" said I, stepping pretty near the elder; "I have
need of pardon!" She drew back, gave a loud shriek, and was covered
with blushes; she then threw herself down on the grass, laughed
immoderately, and seemed as if she would never have done. Weyland
smiled as if pleased, and cried, "You are a rare youth!" Then he shook
my hand in his. He was not usually liberal with his caresses, but his
shake of the hand had something hearty and enlivening about it; yet he
was sparing of this also.

After somewhat recovering and collecting ourselves, we set out on our
return to the village. On the way I learned how this singular meeting
had been occasioned. Frederica had at last parted from the promenaders
to rest herself in her little nook for a moment before dinner, and when
the other two came back to the house, the mother had sent them to call
Frederica with as great haste as possible, because dinner was ready.

The elder sister manifested the most extravagant delight, and when
she learned that the mother had already discovered the secret, she
exclaimed, "Now we have still to deceive my father, my brother, the
servant-man and the maid." When we were at the garden-hedge, Frederica
insisted upon going first into the house with my friend. The maid was
busy in the kitchen-garden, and Olivia (so let the elder sister be
named here) called out to her, "Stop; I have something to tell you!"
She left me standing by the hedge, and went to the maid. I saw that
they were speaking very earnestly. Olivia represented to her that
George had quarrelled with Barbara, and seemed desirous of marrying
her. The lass was not displeased at this; I was now called, and was
to confirm what had been said. The pretty, stout girl cast down her
eyes, and remained so until I stood quite near before her. But when,
all at once, she perceived the strange face, she too gave a loud scream
and ran away. Olivia bade me run after her and hold her fast, so that
she should not get into the house and make a noise; while she herself
wished to go and see how it was with her father. On the way Olivia
met the servant-boy, who was in love with the maid; I had in the mean
time hurried after the maid, and held her fast. "Only think! what good
luck!" cried Olivia; "it's all over with Barbara, and George marries
Liese." "That I have thought for a long while," said the good fellow,
and remained standing in an ill-humour.

[Side-note: Goethe's Disguise.]

I had given the maid to understand that all we had to do was to
deceive the father. We went up to the lad, who turned away and tried
to withdraw; but Liese brought him back, and he, too, when he was
undeceived, made the most extraordinary gestures. We went together to
the house. The table was covered, and the father was already in the
room. Olivia, who kept me behind her, stepped to the threshold and
said, "Father, have you any objection to George dining with us today?
but you must let him keep his hat on." "With all my heart!" said the
old man, "but why such an unusual thing? Has he hurt himself?" She led
me forward as I stood with my hat on. "No!" said she, leading me into
the room, "but he has a bird-cage under it, and the birds might fly
out and make a terrible fuss; for there are nothing but wild ones."
The father was pleased with the joke, without precisely knowing what
it meant. At this instant she took off my hat, made a scrape, and
required me to do the same. The old man looked at me and recognised
me, but was not put out of his priestly self-possession. "Aye, aye,
Mr. Candidate!" exclaimed he, raising a threatening finger at me;
"you have changed saddles very quickly, and in the night I have lost
an assistant, who yesterday promised me so faithfully that he would
often mount my pulpit on week-days." He then laughed heartily, bade
me welcome, and we sat down to table. Moses came in much later; for,
as the youngest spoiled child, he had accustomed himself not to hear
the dinner-bell. Besides, he took very little notice of the company,
scarcely even when he contradicted them. In order to be more sure of
him, they had placed me, not between the sisters, but at the end of the
table, where George often used to sit. As he came in at the door behind
me, he slapped me smartly on the shoulder, and said, "Good dinner to
you, George!" "Many thanks, squire!" replied I. The strange voice and
the strange face startled him. "What say you?" cried Olivia; "does he
not look very like his brother?" "Yes, from behind," replied Moses,
who managed to recover his composure immediately, "like all folks."
He did not look at me again, and merely busied himself with zealously
devouring the dishes, to make up for lost time. Then, too, he thought
proper to rise on occasion and find something to do in the yard and
the garden. At the dessert the real George came in, and made the whole
scene still more lively. They began to banter him for his jealousy,
and would not praise him for getting rid of a rival in me; but he was
modest and clever enough, and, in a half-confused manner, mixed up
himself, his sweetheart, his counterpart, and the _Mamsells_ with each
other, to such a degree, that at last nobody could tell about whom he
was talking, and they were but too glad to let him consume in peace a
glass of wine and a bit of his own cake.

[Side-note: The "New Melusina."]

At table there was some talk about going to walk; which, however, did
not suit me very well in my peasant's clothes. But the ladies, early
on that day already, when they learned who had run away in such a
desperate hurry, had remembered that a fine hunting-coat (_Pekesche_)
of a cousin of theirs, in which, when there, he used to go sporting,
was hanging in the clothes-press. I, however, declined it, externally
with all sorts of jokes, but internally with a feeling of vanity, not
wishing, as the cousin, to disturb the good impression I had made as
the peasant. The father had gone to take his afternoon-nap; the mother,
as always, was busy about her housewifery. But my friend proposed
that I should tell them some story, to which I immediately agreed.
We went into a spacious arbour, and I gave them a tale which I have
since written out under the title of _The New Melusina._[8] It bears
about the same relation to _The New Paris_ as the youth bears to the
boy, and I would insert it here, were I not afraid of injuring, by odd
plays of fancy, the rural reality and simplicity which here agreeably
surround us. Enough: I succeeded in gaining the reward of the inventors
and narrators of such productions, namely, in awakening curiosity, in
fixing the attention, in provoking overhasty solutions of impenetrable
riddles, in deceiving expectations, in confusing by the more wonderful
which came into the place of the wonderful, in arousing sympathy and
fear, in causing anxiety, in moving, and at last, by the change of
what was apparently earnest into an ingenious and cheerful jest, in
satisfying the mind, and in leaving the imagination materials for new
images, and the understanding materials for further reflection.

Should any one hereafter read this tale in print, and doubt whether it
could have produced such an effect, let him remember that, properly
speaking, man is only called upon to act in the present. Writing is an
abuse of language, reading silently to oneself is a pitiful substitute
for speech. Man effects all he can upon man by his personality,
youth is most powerful upon youth, and hence also arise the purest
influences. It is these which enliven the world, and allow it neither
morally nor physically to perish. I had inherited from my father a
certain didactic loquacity: from my mother the faculty of representing,
clearly and forcibly, everything that the imagination can produce
or grasp, of giving a freshness to known stories, of inventing and
relating others, nay, of inventing in the course of narration. By my
paternal endowment I was for the most part annoying to the company;
for who likes to listen to the opinions and sentiments of another,
especially a youth, whose judgment, from defective experience, always
seems insufficient? My mother, on the contrary, had thoroughly
qualified me for social conversation. The emptiest tale has in itself
a high charm for the imagination, and the smallest quantity of solid
matter is thankfully received by the understanding.

By such recitals, which cost me nothing, I made myself beloved by
children, excited and delighted youth, and drew upon myself the
attention of older persons. But in society, such as it commonly is,
I was soon obliged to stop these exercises, and I have thereby lost
but too much of the enjoyment of life and of free mental advancement.
Nevertheless both these parental gifts accompanied me throughout my
whole life, united with a third, namely, the necessity of expressing
myself figuratively and by comparisons. In consideration of these
peculiarities, which the acute and ingenious Doctor Gall discovered
in me according to his theory, he assured me that I was, properly
speaking, born for a popular orator. At this disclosure I was not a
little alarmed; for if it had been here well founded, everything that
I undertook would have proved a failure, from the fact that with my
nation there was nothing to harangue about.

[1] The German word is "Koth," and the whole object of the line is
to introduce a play on the words "Göthe," "Götter," "Gothen," and

[2] That is, towards _Germany_, Germany is _the Land_ by
pre-eminence.--_American Note_.

[3] Abbreviation for Frederica.--_Trans._

[4] The exclamation used on striking a bargain. It is, we believe,
employed by some trades in England.--_Trans._ [
F] The general custom of the country villages in Protestant Germany on
such interesting occasions.--_American Note._

[6] In the original his answer is "Guet," fur "Gut."--_Trans._

[7] Diminutive of Barbara.--_Trans._

[8] This is introduced in _Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjahre._--_Trans._




After I had, in that bower of Sesenheim, finished my tale, in which the
ordinary and the impossible were so agreeably alternated, I perceived
that my hearers, who had already shown peculiar sympathy, were now
enchanted in the highest degree by my singular narrative. They pressed
me urgently to write down the tale, that they might often repeat it
by reading it among themselves, and to others. I promised this the
more willingly, as I thus hoped to gain a pretext for repeating my
visit, and for an opportunity of forming a closer connexion. The party
separated for a moment, and all were inclined to feel that after a
day spent in so lively a manner, the evening might fall rather flat.
From this anxiety I was freed by my friend, who asked permission to
take leave at once, in the name of us both, because, as an industrious
academical citizen, regular in his studies, he wished to pass the night
at Drusenheim, and to be early in the morning at Strasburg.

We both reached our night-quarters in silence; I, because I felt a
grapple on my heart, which drew me back; he, because he had something
else on his mind, which he told me as soon as we had arrived. "It is
strange," he began, "that you should just hit upon this tale. Did not
you remark that it made quite a peculiar impression?" "Nay," answered
I, "how could I help observing that the elder one laughed more than
was consistent at certain passages, that the younger one shook her
head, that all of you looked significantly at each other, and that
you yourself were nearly put out of countenance. I do not deny that I
almost felt embarrassed myself, for it struck me that it was perhaps
improper to tell the dear girls a parcel of stuff, of which they had
better been ignorant, and to give them such a bad opinion of the
male sex as they must naturally have formed from the character of
the hero." "You have not hit it at all," said he, "and, indeed, how
should you? These dear girls are not so unacquainted with such matters
as you imagine, for the great society around them gives occasion for
many reflections; and there happens to be, on the other side of the
Rhine, exactly such a married pair as you describe, allowing a little
for fancy and exaggeration; the husband just as tall, sturdy, and
heavy,--the wife so pretty and dainty, that he could easily hold her
in his hand. Their mutual position in other respects, their history
altogether, so exactly accords with your tale, that the girls seriously
asked me whether you knew the persons, and described them in jest. I
assured them that you did not, and you will do well to let the tale
remain unwritten. With the assistance of delays and pretexts, we may
soon find an excuse."

I was much astonished, for I had thought of no couple on this or the
other side of the Rhine; nay, I could not have stated how I came by the
notion. In thought I liked to sport with such pleasantries, without
any particular reference, and I believed that** if I narrated them, it
would be the same with others.

When I returned to my occupations in the city, I felt them more than
usually wearisome, for a man born to activity forms plans too extensive
for his capacity, and overburdens himself with labour. This goes on
very well till some physical or moral impediment comes in the way, and
clearly shows the disproportion of the powers to the undertaking.

[Side-note: Return to Strasburg.]

I pursued jurisprudence with as much diligence as was required to
take my degree with some credit. Medicine charmed me, because it
showed nature, if it did not unfold it on every side; and to this I
was attached by intercourse and habit. To society I was obliged to
devote some time and attention; for in many families I had fallen in
for much both of love and honour. All this might have been carried
on, had not that which Herder had inculcated pressed upon me with an
infinite weight. He had torn down the curtain which concealed from me
the poverty of German literature; he had ruthlessly destroyed so many
of my prejudices; in the sky of my fatherland there were few stars of
importance left, when he had treated all the rest as so many transient
candle-snuffs; nay, my own hopes and fancies respecting myself he had
so spoiled, that I began to doubt my own capabilities. At the same
time, however, he dragged me on to the noble broad way which he himself
was inclined to tread, drew my attention to his favourite authors, at
the head of whom stood Swift and Hamann, and shook me up with more
force than he had bound me down. To this manifold confusion was now
added an incipient passion, which, while it threatened to absorb me,
might indeed draw me from other relations, but could scarcely elevate
me above them. Then came besides, a corporeal malady, which made me
feel after dinner as if my throat was closed up, and of which I did not
easily get rid, till afterwards, when I abstained from a certain red
wine, which I generally and very willingly drank in the boarding-house.
This intolerable inconvenience had quitted me at Sesenheim, so that
I felt double pleasure in being there, but when I came back to my
town-diet it returned, to my great annoyance. All this made me
thoughful and morose; and my outward appearance probably corresponded
with my inward feelings.

Being in a worse humour than ever, because the malady was violent
after dinner, I attended the clinical lecture. The great care and
cheerfulness with which our respected instructor led us from bed to
bed, the minute observation of important symptoms, the judgment of the
cause of complaint in general, the fine Hippocratic mode of proceeding,
by which, without theory, and out of an individual experience, the
forms of knowledge revealed themselves, the addresses with which he
usually crowned his lectures--all this attracted me towards him, and
made a strange department, into which I only looked as through a
crevice, so much the more agreeable and fascinating. My disgust at the
invalids gradually decreased, as I learned to change their various
states into distinct conceptions, by which recovery and the restoration
of the human form and nature appeared possible. He probably had his
eye particularly upon me, as a singular young man, and pardoned the
strange anomaly which took me to his lectures. On this occasion he did
not conclude his lecture, as usual, with a doctrine which might have
reference to an illness that had been observed, but said cheerfully,
"Gentlemen, there are some holidays before us; make use of them to
enliven your spirits. Studies must not only be pursued with seriousness
and diligence, but also with cheerfulness and freedom of mind. Give
movement to your bodies, and traverse the beautiful country on horse
and foot. He who is at home will take delight in that to which he has
been accustomed, while for the stranger there will be new impressions,
and pleasant reminiscences in future."

There were only two of us to whom this admonition could be directed.
May the recipe have been as obvious to the other as it was to me! I
thought I heard a voice from heaven, and made all the haste I could
to order a horse and dress myself out neatly. I sent for Weyland, but
he was not to be found. This did not delay my resolution, but the
preparations unfortunately went on slowly, and I could not depart so
soon as I had hoped. Fast as I rode, I was overtaken by the night.
The way was not to be mistaken, and the moon shed her light on my
impassioned project. The night was windy and awful, and I dashed on,
that I might not have to wait till morning before I could see her.

[Side-note: Return to Sesenheim.]

It was already late when I put up my horse at Sesenheim. The landlord,
in answer to my question, whether there was still light in the
parsonage, assured me that the ladies had only just gone home; he
thought he had heard they were still expecting a stranger. This did not
please me, as I wished to have been the only one. I hastened, that,
late as I was, I might at least appear the first. I found the two
sisters sitting at the door. They did not seem much astonished, but I
was, when Frederica whispered into Olivia's ear, loud enough for me to
hear, "Did I not say so? Here he is!" They conducted me into a room,
where I found a little collation set out. The mother greeted me as an
old acquaintance; and the elder sister, when she saw me in the light,
broke out into loud laughter, for she had little command over herself.

After this first and somewhat odd reception, the conversation became
at once free and cheerful, and a circumstance, which had remained
concealed from me this evening, I learned on the following day.
Frederica had predicted that I should come; and who does not feel
some satisfaction at the fulfilment of a foreboding, even if it be a
mournful one? All presentiments, when confirmed by the event, give man
a higher opinion of himself, whether it be that he thinks himself in
possession of so fine a susceptibility as to feel a relation in the
distance, or acute enough to perceive necessary but still uncertain
associations. Even Olivia's laugh remained no secret; she confessed
that it seemed very comical to see me dressed and decked out on this
occasion. Frederica, on the other hand, found it advantageous not to
explain such a phenomenon as vanity, but rather to discover in it a
wish to please her.

Early in the morning Frederica asked me to take a walk. Her mother
and sister were occupied in preparing everything for the reception of
several guests. By the side of this beloved girl I enjoyed the noble
Sunday morning in the country, as the inestimable Hebel has depicted
it. She described to me the party which was expected, and asked me to
remain by her, that all the pleasure might, if possible, be common to
us both, and be enjoyed in a certain order. "Generally," she said,
"people amuse themselves alone. Sport and play is very lightly tasted,
so that at last nothing is left but cards for one part, and the
excitement of dancing for the other."

We therefore sketched our plan as to what should be done after dinner,
taught each other some new social games, and were united and happy,
when the bell summoned us to church, where, by her side, I found a
somewhat dry sermon of her father's not too long.

The presence of the beloved one always shortens time; but this
hour passed amid peculiar reflections. I repeated to myself the
good qualities which she had just unfolded so freely before
me--her circumspect cheerfulness, her _naïveté_ combined with
self-consciousness, her hilarity with foresight--qualities which seem
incompatible, but which nevertheless were found together in her, and
gave a pleasing character to her outward appearance. But now I had
to make more serious reflections upon myself, which were somewhat
prejudicial to a free state of cheerfulness.

[Side-note: Effect of Lucinda's Curse.]

Since that impassioned girl had cursed and sanctified my lips (for
every consecration involves both), I had, superstitiously enough, taken
care not to kiss any girl, because I feared that I might injure her in
some unheard-of spiritual manner. I therefore subdued every desire, by
which a youth feels impelled to win from a charming girl this favour,
which says much or little. But even in the most decorous company a
heavy trial awaited me. Those little games, as they are called, which
are more or less ingenious, and by which a joyous young circle is
collected and combined, depend in a great measure upon forfeits, in the
calling in of which kisses have no small value. I had resolved, once
for all, not to kiss, and as every want or impediment stimulates us to
an activity to which we should otherwise not feel inclined, I exerted
all the talent and humour I possessed to help myself through, and thus
to win rather than lose, before the company, and for the company.
When a verse was desired for the redemption of a forfeit, the demand
was usually directed to me. Now I was always prepared, and on such
occasions contrived to bring out something in praise of the hostess, or
of some lady who had conducted herself most agreeably towards me. If it
happened that a kiss was imposed upon me at all events, I endeavoured
to escape by some turn, which was considered satisfactory; and as I
had time to reflect on the matter beforehand, I was never in want of
various elegant excuses, although those made on the spur of the moment
were always most successful.

When we reached home, the guests, who had arrived from several
quarters, were buzzing merrily one with another, until Frederica
collected them together, and invited and conducted them to a walk
to that charming spot. There they found an abundant collation, and
wished to fill up with social games the period before dinner. Here,
by agreement with Frederica, though she did not know my secret,
I contrived to get up and go through games without forfeits, and
redemptions of forfeits without kissing.

My skill and readiness were so much the more necessary, as the company,
which was otherwise quite strange to me, seemed to have suspected some
connexion between me and the dear girl, and roguishly took the greatest
pains to force upon me that which I secretly endeavoured to avoid. For
in such circles, if people perceive a growing inclination between two
young persons, they try to make them confused, or to bring them closer
together, just as afterwards, when once a passion has been declared,
they take trouble on purpose to part them again. Thus, to the man of
society, it is totally indifferent whether he confers a benefit or an
injury, provided only he is amused.

This morning I could observe, with more attention, the whole character
of Frederica, so that for the whole time she always remained to me the
same. The friendly greetings of the peasants, which were especially
addressed to her, gave me to understand that she was beneficent to
them, and created in them an agreeable feeling. The elder sister
remained at home with her mother. Nothing that demanded bodily exertion
was required of Frederica; but she was spared, they said, on account of
her chest.

There are women who especially please us in a room, others who look
better in the open air. Frederica belonged to the latter. Her whole
nature, her form never appeared more charming than when she moved
along an elevated footpath; the grace of her deportment seemed to
vie with the flowery earth, and the indestructible cheerfulness of
her countenance with the blue sky. This refreshing atmosphere which
surrounded her she carried home, and it might soon be perceived that
she understood how to reconcile difficulties, and to obliterate with
ease the impression made by little unpleasant contingencies.

The purest joy which we can feel with respect to a beloved person is
to find that she pleases others. Frederica's conduct in society was
beneficent to all. In walks, she floated about, an animating spirit,
and knew how to supply the gaps which might arise here and there.
The lightness of her movements we have already commended, and she
was most graceful when she ran. As the deer seems just to fulfil its
destination when it lightly flies over the sprouting corn**, so did her
peculiar nature seem most plainly to express itself when she ran with
light steps over mead and furrow, to fetch something which had been
forgotten, to seek something which had been lost, to summon a distant
couple, or to order something necessary. On these occasions she was
never out of breath, and always kept her equilibrium. Hence the great
anxiety of her parents with respect to her chest must to many have
appeared excessive.

The father, who often accompanied us through meadows and fields, was
not always provided with a suitable companion. On this account I
joined him, and he did not fail to touch once more upon his favourite
theme, and circumstantially to tell me about the proposed building
of the parsonage. He particularly regretted that he could not again
get the carefully finished sketches, so as to meditate upon them,
and to consider this or that improvement. I observed, that the loss
might be easily supplied, and offered to prepare a ground-plan, upon
which, after all, everything chiefly depended. With this he was
highly pleased, and settled that we should have the assistance of the
schoolmaster, to stir up whom he at once hurried off, that the yard and
foot-measure might be ready early on the morrow.

When he had gone, Frederica said, "You are right to humour my dear
father on his weak side, and not, like others, who get weary of this
subject, to avoid him, or to break it off. I must, indeed, confess
to you that the rest of us do not desire this building; it would be
too expensive for the congregation and for us also. A new house, new
furniture! Our guests would not feel more comfortable with us, now
they are once accustomed to the old building. Here we can treat them
liberally; there we should find ourselves straightened in a wider
sphere. Thus the matter stands; but do not you fail to be agreeable. I
thank you for it, from my heart."

Another lady who joined us asked about some novels,--whether Frederica
had read them. She answered in the negative, for she had read but
little altogether. She had grown up in a cheerful, decorous enjoyment
of life, and was cultivated accordingly. I had the _Vicar of Wakefield_
on the tip of my tongue, but did not venture to propose it, the
similarity of the situations being too striking and too important. "I
am very fond of reading novels," she said; "one finds in them such nice
people, whom one would like to resemble."

[Side-note: Plan for the New Parsonage.]

The measurement of the house took place the following day. It was a
somewhat slow proceeding, as I was as little accustomed to such arts
as the schoolmaster. At last a tolerable project came to my aid. The
good father told me his views, and was not displeased when I asked
permission to prepare the plan more conveniently in the town. Frederica
dismissed me with joy; she was convinced of my affection, and I of
hers; and the six leagues no longer appeared a distance. It was so easy
to travel to Drusenheim in the diligence, and by this vehicle, as well
as by messengers, ordinary and extraordinary, to keep up a connexion,
George being entrusted with the despatches.

When I had arrived in the town, I occupied myself in the earliest hours
(for there was no notion of a long sleep) with the plan, which I drew
as neatly as possible. In the meanwhile I had sent Frederica some
books, accompanied by a few kind words. I received an answer at once,
and was charmed with her light, pretty, hearty hand. Contents and style
were natural, good, amiable, as if they came from within; and thus the
pleasing impression she had made upon me was ever kept up and renewed.
I but too readily recalled to myself the endowments of her beautiful
nature, and nurtured the hope that I should see her soon, and for a
longer time.

There was now no more any need of an address from our good instructor.
He had, by those words, spoken at the right time, so completely cured
me, that I had no particular inclination to see him and his patients
again. The correspondence with Frederica became more animated. She
invited me to a festival, to which also some friends from the other
side of the Rhine would come. I was to make arrangements for a longer
time. This I did, by packing a stout portmanteau upon the diligence,
and in a few hours I was in her presence. I found a large merry party,
took the father aside, and handed him the plan, at which he testified
great delight. I talked over with him what I had thought while
completing it. He was quite beside himself with joy, and especially
praised the neatness of the drawing. This I had practised from my
youth upwards, and had on this occasion taken especial pains, with the
finest paper. But this pleasure was very soon marred for our good host,
when, against my counsel, and in the joy of his heart, he laid the
sketch before the company. Far from uttering the desired sympathy, some
thought nothing at all of this precious work; others, who thought they
knew something of the matter, made it still worse, blaming the sketch
as not artistical, and, when the old man looked off for a moment,
handled the clean sheets as if they were only so many rough draughts,
while one, with the hard strokes of a lead-pencil, marked his plans of
improvement on the fine paper, in such a manner, that a restoration of
the primitive purity was not to be thought of.

I was scarcely able to console the extremely irritated man, whose
pleasures had been so outrageously destroyed, much as I assured him
that I myself looked upon them only as sketches, which we would talk
over, and on which we would construct new drawings. In spite of all
this he went off in a very ill-humour, and Frederica thanked me for
my attention to her father, as well as for my patience during the
unmannerly conduct of the other guests.

[Side-note: Festival at the Parsonage.]

But I could feel no pain nor ill-humour in her presence. The party
consisted of young and tolerably noisy friends, whom, nevertheless,
an old gentleman tried to outdo, proposing even odder stuff than they
practised. Already, at breakfast, the wine had not been spared. At a
very well-furnished dinner-table there was no want of any enjoyment,
and the feast was relished the more by everybody, after the violent
bodily exercise during the somewhat warm weather, and if the official
gentleman went a little too far in the good things, the young people
were not left much behind him.

I was happy beyond all bounds at the side of Frederica;--talkative,
merry, ingenious, forward, and yet kept in moderation by feeling,
esteem, and attachment. She, in a similar position, was open, cheerful,
sympathizing, and communicative. We all appeared to live for the
company, and yet lived only for each other.

After the meal they sought the shade, social games were begun, and the
turn came to forfeits. On redeeming the forfeits, everything of every
kind was carried to excess; the gestures which were commanded, the acts
which were to be done, the problems which were to be solved, all showed
a mad joy which knew no limits. I myself heightened these wild jokes
by many a comical prank, and Frederica shone by many a droll thought;
she appeared to me more charming than ever, all hypochondriacal
superstitious fancies had vanished, and when the opportunity offered of
heartily kissing one whom I loved so tenderly, I did not miss it, still
less did I deny myself a repetition of this pleasure.

The hope of the party for music was at last satisfied; it was heard,
and all hastened to the dance. _Allemandes_, waltzing and turning, were
beginning, middle and end. All had given up to this national dance;
even I did honour enough to my private dancing-mistress, and Frederica,
who danced as she walked, sprang, and ran, was delighted to find in
me a very expert partner. We generally kept together, but were soon
obliged to leave off, and she was advised on all sides not to go on any
further in this wild manner. We consoled ourselves by a solitary walk,
hand in hand, and when we had reached that quiet spot, by the warmest
embrace and the most faithful assurance that we loved each other

Older persons, who had risen with us from the game, took us with them.
At supper people did not return to their sober senses. Dancing went on
far into the night, and there was as little want of healths and other
incitements to drinking as at noon.

I had scarcely for a few hours slept very profoundly, when I was
awakened by a heat and tumult in my blood. It is at such times and in
such situations that care and repentance usually attack man, who is
stretched out defenceless. My imagination at once presented to me the
liveliest forms; I saw Lucinda, how, after the most ardent kiss, she
passionately receded from me, and, with glowing cheek and sparkling
eyes, uttered that curse, by which she intended to menace her sister
only, but by which she also unconsciously menaced innocent persons,
who were unknown to her. I saw Frederica standing opposite to her,
paralysed at the sight, pale, and feeling the consequences of the
curse, of which she knew nothing. I found myself between them, as
little able to ward off the spiritual effects of the adventure, as to
avoid the evil-boding kiss. The delicate health of Frederica seemed
to hasten the threatened calamity, and now her love to mo wore a most
unhappy aspect, and I wished myself at the other side of the world.

But something still more painful to me, which lay in the background,
I will not conceal. A certain conceit kept that superstition alive
in me;--my lips, whether consecrated or cursed, appeared to me more
important than usual, and with no little complacency was I aware of my
self-denying conduct, in renouncing many an innocent pleasure, partly
to preserve my magical advantage, partly to avoid injuring a harmless
being by giving it up.

But now all was lost and irrevocable: I had returned into a mere common
position, and I thought that I had harmed, irretrievably injured, the
dearest of beings. Thus, far from my being freed from the curse, it was
flung back from my lips into my own heart.

All this together raged in my blood, already excited by love and
passion, "wine and dancing, confused my thoughts and tortured my
feelings, so that, especially as contrasted with the joys of the day
before, I felt myself in a state of despair which seemed unbounded.
Fortunately daylight peered in upon me through a chink in the shutter,
and the sun stepping forth and vanquishing all the powers of night, set
me again upon my feet; I was soon in the open air, and refreshed, if
not restored.

[Side-note: Correspondence with Frederica.]

Superstition, like many other fancies, very easily loses in power,
when, instead of flattering our vanity, it stands in its way, and
would fain produce an evil hour to this delicate being. "We then see
well enough that we can get rid of it when we choose; we renounce it
the more easily, as all of which we deprive ourselves turns to our
own advantage. The sight of Frederica, the feeling of her love, the
cheerfulness of everything around me--all reproved me, that in the
midst of the happiest days I could harbour such dismal night-birds in
my bosom. The confiding conduct of the dear girl, which became more and
more intimate, made me thoroughly rejoiced, and I felt truly happy,
when, at parting, she openly gave a kiss to me, as well as the other
friends and relations.

In the city many occupations and dissipations awaited me, from the
midst of which I collected myself for the sake of my beloved, by means
of a correspondence, which we regularly established. Even in her
letters she always remained the same; whether she related anything new,
or alluded to well-known occurrences, lightly described or cursorily
reflected, it was always as if, even with her pen, she appeared going,
coming, running, bounding with a step as light as it was sure. I also
liked very much to write to her, for the act of rendering present her
good qualities increased my affection even during absence, so that this
intercourse was little inferior to a personal one, nay, afterwards
became pleasanter and dearer to me.

For that superstition had been forced to give way altogether. It was
indeed based upon the impressions of earlier years, but the spirit of
the day, the liveliness of youth, the intercourse with cold sensible
men, all was unfavourable to it, so that it would not have been easy to
find among all who surrounded me a single person to whom a confession
of my whims would not have been perfectly ridiculous. But the worst
of it was, that the fancy, while it fled, left behind it a real
contemplation of that state in which young people are placed, whose
early affections can promise themselves no lasting result. So little
was I assisted in getting free from error, that understanding and
reflection used me still worse in this instance. My passion increased
the more I learned to know the virtue of the excellent girl, and the
time approached when I was to lose, perhaps for ever, so much that was
dear and good.

We had quietly and pleasantly passed a long time together, when friend
Weyland had the waggery to bring with him to Sesenheim the _Vicar of
Wakefield_, and when they were, talking of reading aloud, to hand
it over to me unexpectedly, as if nothing further was to be said. I
managed to collect myself, and read with as much cheerfulness and
freedom as I could. Even the faces of my hearers at once brightened,
and it did not seem unpleasant to them to be again forced to a
comparison. If they had found comical counterparts to Raymond and
Melusina, they here saw themselves in a glass which by no means gave a
distorted likeness. They did not openly confess, but they did not deny,
that they were moving among persons akin both by mind and feeling.

All men of a good disposition feel, with increasing cultivation, that
they have a double part to play in the world,--a real one and an
ideal one, and in this feeling is the ground of everything noble to
be sought. The real part which has been assigned to us we experience
but too plainly; with respect to the second, we seldom come to a clear
understanding about it. Man may seek his higher destination on earth
or in heaven, in the present or in the future, he yet remains on this
account exposed to an eternal wavering, to an influence from without
which ever disturbs him, until he once for all makes a resolution to
declare that that is right which is suitable to himself.

Among the most venial attempts to acquire something higher, to place
oneself on an equality with something higher, may be classed the
youthful impulse to compare oneself with the characters in novels. This
is highly innocent, and whatever may be urged against, it, the very
reverse of mischievous. It amuses at times when we should necessarily
die of _ennui_, or grasp at the recreation of passion.

How often is repeated the litany about the mischief of novels--and yet
what misfortune is it if a pretty girl or a handsome young man put
themselves in the place of a person who fares better or worse than
themselves? Is the citizen life worth so much? or do the necessities
of the day so completely absorb the man, that he must refuse every
beautiful demand which is made upon him?

[Side-note: Results of Novel-Reading.]

The historico-poetical Christian names which have intruded into the
German church in the place of the sacred names, not unfrequently to
the annoyance of the officiating clergyman, are without doubt to be
regarded as small ramifications of the romantico-poetical pictures.
This very impulse to honour one's child by a well-sounding name--even
if the name has nothing further behind it--is praiseworthy, and this
connexion of an imaginary world with the real one diffuses an agreeable
lustre over the whole life of the person. A beautiful child, whom
with satisfaction we call "Bertha," we should think we offended if we
were to call it "Urselblandine." With a cultivated man, not to say a
lover, such a name would certainly falter on the lips. The cold world,
which judges only from one side, is not to be blamed if it sets down
as ridiculous and objectionable all that comes forward as imaginary,
but the thinking connoisseur of mankind must know how to estimate it
according to its worth.

For the position of the loving couple on the fair Rhine-bank, this
comparison, to which a wag had compelled them produced the most
agreeable results. We do not think of ourselves when we look in a
mirror, but we feel ourselves, and allow ourselves to pass. Thus is it
also with those moral imitations, in which we recognise our manners and
inclinations, our habits and peculiarities, as in a _silhouette_, and
strive to grasp it and embrace it with brotherly affection.

The habit of being together became more and more confirmed, and nothing
else was known but that I belonged to this circle. The affair was
allowed to take its course without the question being directly asked
as to what was to be the result. And what parents are there who do
not find themselves compelled to let daughters and sons continue for
a while in such a wavering condition, until accidentally something is
confirmed for life, better than it could have been produced by a long
arranged plan.

It was thought that perfect confidence could be placed both in
Frederica's sentiments and in my rectitude, of which, on account of
my forbearance even from innocent caresses, a favourable opinion
had been entertained. We were left unobserved, as was generally the
custom, there and then, and it depended on ourselves to go over the
country, with a larger or smaller party, and to visit the friends in
the neighbourhood. On both sides of the Rhine, in Hagenau, Fort-Louis,
Philippsburg, the Ortenau, I found dispersed those persons whom I had
seen united at Sesenheim, every one by himself, a friendly, hospitable
host, throwing open kitchen and cellar just as willingly as gardens and
vineyards, nay, the whole spot. The islands on the Rhine were often a
goal for our water-expeditions. There, without pity, we put the cool
inhabitants of the clear Rhine into the kettle, on the spit, into the
boiling fat, and would here, perhaps more than was reasonable, have
settled ourselves in the snug fishermen's huts, if the abominable
Rhine-gnats (_Rhein-schnaken_) had not, after some hours, driven us
away. At this intolerable interruption of one of our most charming
parties of pleasure, when everything else was prosperous, when the
affection of the lovers seemed to increase with the good success of
the enterprise, and we had nevertheless come home too soon, unsuitably
and inopportunely. I actually, in the presence of the good reverend
father, broke out into blasphemous expressions, and assured him that
these gnats alone were sufficient to remove from me the thought that
a good and wise Deity had created the world. The pious old gentleman,
by way of reply, solemnly called me to order, and explained to me that
these gnats and other vermin had not arisen until after the fall of
our first parents, or that if there were any of them in Paradise, they
had only pleasantly hummed there, and had not stung. I certainly felt
myself calmed at once, for an angry man may easily be appeased if we
can succeed in making him smile; but I nevertheless asserted that there
was no need of the angel with the burning sword to drive the guilty
pair out of the garden; my host, I said, must rather allow me to think
that this was effected by means of great gnats on the Tigris and the
Euphrates. And thus I again made him laugh; for the old man understood
a joke, or at any rate let one pass.

[Side-note: The Pastor's Chair.]

However, the enjoyment of the day-time and season in this noble country
was more serious and more elevating to the heart. One had only to
resign oneself to the present, to enjoy the clearness of the pure
sky, the brilliancy of the rich earth, the mild evenings, the warm
nights, by the side of a beloved one, or in her vicinity. For months
together we were favoured with pure ethereal mornings, when the sky
displayed itself in all its magnificence, having watered the earth with
superfluous dew; and that this spectacle might not become too simple,
clouds after clouds piled themselves over the distant mountains,
now in this spot, now in that. They stood for days, nay, for weeks,
without obscuring the pure sky, and even the transient storms refreshed
the country, and gave lustre to the green, which again glistened in
the sunshine before it could become dry. The double rainbow, the
two-coloured borders of a dark grey and nearly black streak in the
sky, were nobler, more highly coloured, more decided, but also more
transient, than I had ever observed.

In the midst of these objects the desire of poetising, which I had not
felt for a long time, again came forward. For Frederica I composed many
songs to well-known melodies. They would have made a pretty little
book; a few of them still remain, and will easily be found among my

Since on account of my strange studies and other circumstances I was
often compelled to return to the town, there arose for our affection a
new life, which preserved us from all that unpleasantness which usually
attaches itself as an annoying consequence to such little love-affairs.
Though far from me, she yet laboured for me, and thought of some new
amusement against I should return; though far from her, I employed
myself for her, that by some new gift or new notion I myself might be
again new to her. Painted ribbons had then just come into fashion, I
painted at once for her a few pieces, and sent them on with a little
poem, as on this occasion I was forced to stop away longer than I had
anticipated. That I might fulfil and even go beyond my promise to the
father of a new and elaborated plan, I persuaded a young adept in
architecture to work instead of myself. He took as much pleasure in
the task as he had kindness for me, and was still further animated by
the hope of a good reception in so agreeable a family. He finished the
ground-plan, sketch, and section of the house; court-yard and garden
were not forgotten, and a detailed but very moderate estimate was
added, to show the possibility of carrying out an extensive project.

These testimonials of our friendly endeavours obtained for us the
kindest reception; and since the good father saw that we had the best
will to serve him, he came forward with one wish more; it was the wish
to see his pretty but one-coloured chair adorned with flowers and other
ornaments. We showed ourselves accommodating. Colours, pencils, and
other requisites were fetched from the tradesmen and apothecaries of
the nearest towns. But that we might not be wanting in a _Wakefield_
mistake, we did not remark, until all had been most industriously and
variously painted, that we had taken a false varnish which would not
dry; neither sunshine nor draught, neither fair nor wet weather were
of any avail. In the meanwhile we were obliged to make use of an old
lumber-room, and nothing was left us but to rub out the ornaments with
more assiduity than we had painted them. The unpleasantness of this
work was still increased when the girls intreated us, for heaven's
sake, to proceed slowly and cautiously, for the sake of sparing the
ground; which, however, after this operation, was not again to be
restored to its former brilliancy.

By such little disagreeable contigencies, which happened at intervals,
we were, however, just as little interrupted in our cheerful life as
Dr. Primrose and his amiable family; for many an unexpected pleasure
befell both ourselves and our friends and neighbours. Weddings and
christenings, the erection of a building, an inheritance, a prize in
the lottery, were reciprocally announced and enjoyed. We shared all joy
together, like a common property, and wished to heighten it by mind and
love. It was not the first nor the last time that I found myself in
families and social circles at the very moment of their highest bloom,
and if I may flatter myself that I contributed something towards the
lustre of such epochs, I must, on the other hand, be reproached with
the fact, that on this very account such times passed the more quickly
and vanished the sooner.

[Side-note: The Visit to Strasburg.]

But now our love was to undergo a singular trial. I will call it a
trial (_Prüfung_), although this is not the right word. The country
family with which I was intimate was related to some families in
the city of good note and respectability, and comfortably off as to
circumstances. The young towns-people were often at Sesenheim. The
older persons, the mothers and aunts, being less moveable, heard so
much of the life there, of the increasing charms of the daughters, and
even of my influence, that they first wished to become acquainted with
me, and after I had often visited them, and had been well received
by them, desired also to see us once altogether, especially as they
thought they owed the Sesenheim folks a friendly reception in return.

There was much discussion on all sides. The mother could scarcely leave
her household affairs, Olivia had a horror of the town, for which she
was not fitted, and Frederica had no inclination for it; and thus the
affair was put off, until it was at last brought to a decision by
the fact, that it happened to be impossible for me to come into the
country; for it was better to see each other in the city, and under
some restraint, than not to see each other at all. And thus I now
found my fair friends, whom I had been only accustomed to see in a
rural scene, and whose image had only appeared to me hitherto before a
background of waving boughs, flowing brooks, nodding field-flowers, and
a horizon open for miles; I now saw them, I say, for the first time, in
town-rooms, which were indeed spacious, but yet narrow, if we take into
consideration the carpets, glasses, clocks, and porcelain figures.

The relation to that which one loves is so decided, that the
surrounding objects have little to do with it, but nevertheless the
heart desires that these shall be the suitable, natural, and usual
objects. With my lively feeling for everything present, I could not at
once adapt myself to the contradiction of the moment. The respectable
and calmly noble demeanour of the mother was perfectly adapted to the
circle; she was not different from the other ladies; Olivia, on the
other hand, showed herself as impatient as a fish out of water. As she
had formerly called to me in the gardens, or beckoned me aside in the
fields, if she had anything particular to say to me, she also did the
same here, when she drew me into the recess of a window. This she did
awkwardly and with embarrassment, because she felt that it was not
becoming, and did it notwithstanding. She had the most unimportant
things in the world to say to me--nothing but what I knew already;
for instance, that she wished herself by the Rhine, over the Rhine,
or even in Turkey. Frederica, on the contrary, was highly remarkable
in this situation. Properly speaking, she also did not suit it, but
it bore witness to her character, that, instead of finding herself
adapted to this condition, she unconsciously moulded the condition
according to herself. She acted here as she had acted with the society
in the country. She knew how to animate every moment. Without creating
any disturbance, she put all in motion, and exactly by this pacified
society, which really is only disturbed by _ennui._ She thus completely
fulfilled the desire of her town aunts, who wished for once, on their
sofas, to be witnesses of those rural games and amusements. If this was
done to satisfaction, so also were the wardrobe, the ornaments, and
whatever besides distinguished the town nieces, who were dressed in
the French fashion, considered and admired without envy. With me also
Frederica had no difficulty, since she treated me the same as ever. She
seemed to give me no other preference but that of communicating her
desires and wishes to me rather than to another, and thus recognising
me as her servant.

To this service she confidently laid claim on one of the following
days, when she privately told me that the ladies wished to hear me
read. The daughters of the house had spoken much on this subject,
for at Sesenheim I had read what and when I was desired. I was ready
at once, but craved quiet and attention for several hours. This
was conceded, and one evening I read through the whole of _Hamlet_
without interruption, entering into the sense of the piece as well as
I was able, and expressing myself with liveliness and passion, as is
possible in youth. I earned great applause. Frederica drew her breath
deeply from time to time, and a transient red had passed over her
cheeks. These two symptoms of a tender heart internally moved, while
cheerfulness and calmness were externally apparent, were not unknown
to me, and were indeed the only reward which I had striven to obtain.
She joyfully collected the thanks of the party for having caused me to
read, and in her graceful manner did not deny herself the little pride
at having shone in me and through me.

This town visit was not to have lasted long: but the departure was
delayed. Frederica did her part for the social amusement, and I was not
wanting, but the abundant sources which yield so much in the country
now dried up in their turn, and the situation was the more painful, as
the elder sister gradually lost all self-control. The two sisters were
the only persons in the society who dressed themselves in the German
fashion. Frederica had never thought of herself in any other way, and
believed herself so right everywhere, that she made no comparisons with
any one else; but Olivia found it quite insupportable to move about in
a society of genteel appearance attired so like a maid-servant. In the
country she scarcely remarked the town costume of others, and did not
desire it, but in the town she could not endure the country style. All
this, together with the different lot of town ladies, and the thousand
trifles of a series of circumstances totally opposed to her own
notions, so worked for some days in her impassioned bosom, that I was
forced to apply all my flattering attention to appease her, according
to the wish of Frederica. I feared an impassioned scene. I looked
forward to the moment when she would throw herself at my feet, and
implore me by all that was sacred to rescue her from this situation.
She was good to a heavenly degree if she could conduct herself in her
own way, but such a restraint at once made her uncomfortable, and could
at last drive her even to despair. I now sought to hasten that which
was desired by the mother and Olivia, and not repugnant to Frederica. I
did not refrain from praising her as a contrast to her sister; I told
her what pleasure it gave me to find her unaltered, and, even under the
present circumstances, just as free as the bird among the branches. She
was courteous enough to reply that I was there, and that she wished to
go neither in nor out when I was with her.

At last I saw them take their departure, and it seemed as though a
stone fell from my heart; for my own feelings had shared the condition
of Frederica and Olivia; I was not passionately tormented like the
latter, but I felt by no means as comfortable as the former.

[Side-note: The "Disputation."]

Since I had properly gone to Strasburg to take my degree, it may be
rightly reckoned among the irregularities of my life, that I treated
this material business as a mere collateral affair. All anxiety as to
my examination I had put aside in a very easy fashion, but I had now
to think of the _disputation_[1] for on my departure from Frankfort I
had promised my father, and resolved within myself to write one. It is
the fault of those who can do many things, nay, much, that they trust
everything to themselves, and youth must indeed be in this position, if
anything is to be made of it. A survey of the science of jurisprudence
and all its framework I had pretty well acquired, single subjects of
law sufficiently interested me, and as I had the good Leyser for my
model, I thought I should get tolerably through with my own little
common-sense. Great movements were showing themselves in jurisprudence;
judgments were to be more according to equity, all rights by usage
were daily seen to be compromised, and in the criminal department
especially a great change was impending. As for myself, I felt well
enough that I lacked an infinite deal to fill up the legal commonplace
which I had proposed. The proper knowledge was wanting, and no inner
tendency urged me to such subjects. Neither was there any impulse from
without, nay, quite another faculty[2] had completely earned me away.
In general, if I was to take any interest in a thing, it was necessary
for me to gain something from it, to perceive in it something that
appeared fertile to me, and gave me prospects. Thus I had once more
noted down some materials, had afterwards made collections, had taken
my books of extracts in hand, had considered the point which I wished
to maintain, the scheme according to which I wished to arrange the
single elements; but I was sharp enough soon to perceive that I could
not get on, and that to treat a special matter, a special and long
pursuing industry was requisite, nay, that such a special task cannot
be successfully accomplished unless, upon the whole, one is at any rate
an old hand, if not a master.

The friends to whom I communicated my embarrassment deemed me
ridiculous, because one can dispute upon _theses_ as well, nay, even
better, than upon a treatise, and in Strasburg this was not uncommon.
I allowed myself to be very well inclined to such an expedient, but
my father, to whom I wrote on the subject, desired a regular work,
which, as he thought, I could very well prepare, if I only chose so
to do and allowed myself proper time. I was now compelled to throw
myself upon some general topic, and to choose something which I should
have at my fingers' ends. Ecclesiastical history was almost better
known to me than the history of the world, and that conflict in which
the church--the publicly recognised worship of God--finds itself, and
always will find itself, in two different directions, had always highly
interested me. For now it lies in an eternal conflict with the state,
over which it will exalt itself; now with the individuals, all of
whom it will gather to itself. The state, on its side, will not yield
the superior authority to the church, and the individuals oppose its
restraints. The state desires everything for public, universal ends;
the individual for ends belonging to the home, heart, and feelings.
From my childhood upwards I had been a witness of such movements, when
the clergy now offended their authorities, now their congregations.
I had therefore established it as a principle in my young mind, that
the state--the legislator--had the right to determine a worship,
according to which the clergy should teach and conduct themselves,
and the laity, on the other hand, should direct themselves publicly
and externally; while there should be no question about any one's
thoughts, feelings, or notions. Thus I believed that I had at once
got rid of all collisions. I therefore chose for my _disputation_
the first half of this theme, namely, that the legislator was not
only authorised, but bound to establish a certain worship, from which
neither the clergy nor the laity might free themselves. I carried out
this theme partly historically, partly argumentatively, showing that
all public religions had been introduced by leaders of armies, kings,
and powerful men; that this had even been the case with Christianity.
The example of Protestantism lay quite close at hand. I went to work
at this task with so much the more boldness, as I really only wrote
it to satisfy my father, and desired and hoped nothing more ardently
than that it might not pass the censorship. I had imbibed from Behrisch
an unconquerable dislike to see anything of mine in print, and my
intercourse with Herder had discovered to mo but too plainly my own
insufficiency, nay, a certain mistrust in myself had through this
means been perfectly matured. As I drew this work almost entirely out
of myself, and wrote and spoke Latin with fluency, the time which I
expended on the treatise passed very agreeably. The matter had at least
some foundation, the style, naturally speaking, was not bad, the whole
was pretty well rounded off. As soon as I had finished it, I went
through it with a good Latin scholar, who, although he could not, on
the whole, improve my style, yet easily removed all striking defects,
so that something was produced that was fit to be shown. A fair copy
was at once sent to my father, who disapproved of one thing, namely,
that none of the subjects previously taken in hand had been worked out,
but nevertheless, as a thorough Protestant, he was well pleased with
the boldness of the plan. My singularities were tolerated, my exertions
were praised, and he promised himself an important effect from the
publication of the work.

[Side-note: The "Disputation."]

I now handed over my papers to the faculty, who fortunately behaved
in a manner as prudent as it was polite. The dean, a lively, clever
man, began with many laudations of my work, then went on to what
was doubtful, which he contrived gradually to change into something
dangerous, and concluded by saying that it might not be advisable
to publish this work as an academical dissertation. The _aspirant_
had shown himself to the faculty as a thinking young man, of whom
they might hope the best; they would willingly, not to delay the
affair, allow me to dispute on _theses._ I could afterwards publish
my treatise, either in its present condition or more elaborated, in
Latin, or in another language. This would everywhere be easy to me
as a private man and a Protestant, and I should have the pleasure of
an applause more pure and more general. I scarcely concealed from
the good man what a stone his discourse rolled from my heart; at
every new argument which he advanced, that he might not trouble me
nor make me angry by his refusal, my mind grew more and more easy,
and so did his own at last, when, quite unexpectedly, I offered no
resistance to his reasons, but, on the contrary, found them extremely
obvious, and promised to conduct myself according to his counsel and
guidance. I therefore sat down again with my _repetent._ _Theses_
were chosen and printed, and the disputation, with the opposition
of my fellow-boarders, went off with great merriment, and even with
facility, for my old habit of turning over the _Corpus Juris_ was very
serviceable to me, and I could pass for a well instructed man. A good
feast, according to custom, concluded the solemnity.

My father, however, was very dissatisfied that the little work had not
been regularly printed as a _disputation_, because he had hoped that I
should gain honour by it on my entrance into Frankfort. He therefore
wished to publish it specially, but I represented to him that the
subject, which was only sketched, could be more completely carried
out at some future time. He put up the manuscript carefully for this
purpose, and many years afterwards I saw it among his papers.

[Side-note: Schöpflin.]

I took my degree on the 6th August, 1771; and on the following day
Schöpflin died, in the 75th year of his age. Even without closer
contact, he had had an important influence upon me; for eminent
contemporaries may be compared to the greater stars, towards which,
so long as they merely stand above the horizon, our eye is turned,
and feels strengthened and cultivated, if it is only allowed to take
such perfections into itself. Bountiful nature had given Schöpflin an
advantageous exterior, a slender form, kindly eyes, a ready mouth, and
a thoroughly agreeable presence. Neither had she been sparing in gifts
of mind to her favourite; and his good fortune was the result of innate
and carefully-cultivated merits, without any troublesome exertion. He
was one of those happy men, who are inclined to unite the past and the
present, and understand how to connect historical knowledge with the
interests of life. Born in the Baden territory, educated at Basle and
Strasburg, he quite properly belonged to the paradisiacal valley of the
Rhine, as an extensive and well-situated fatherland. His mind being
directed to historical and antiquarian objects, he readily seized upon
them with a felicitous power of representation, and retained them by
the most convenient memory. Desirous as he was both of learning and
of teaching, he pursued a course of study and of life which equally
advanced. He soon emerges and rises above the rest, without any kind
of interruption; diffuses himself with ease through the literary
and citizen-world, for historical knowledge passes everywhere, and
affability attaches itself everywhere. He travels through Germany,
Holland, France. Italy; he comes in contact with all the learned men
of his time; he amuses princes, and it is only when, by his lively
loquacity, the hours of the table or of audience are lengthened, that
he is tedious to the people at court. On the other hand, he acquires
the confidence of the statesmen, works out for them the most profound
legal questions, and thus finds everywhere a field for his talent.
In many places they attempt to retain him, but he remains faithful
to Strasburg and the French court. His immoveable German honesty is
recognised even there, he is even protected against the powerful Prætor
Klingling, who is secretly his enemy. Sociable and talkative by nature,
he extends his intercourse with the world, as well as his knowledge and
occupations; and we should hardly be able to understand whence he got
all his time, did we not know that a dislike to women accompanied him
through his whole life; and that thus he gained many days and hours
which are happily thrown away by those who are well-disposed towards
the ladies.

For the rest, he belongs, as an author, to the ordinary sort of
character, and, as an orator, to the multitude. His programme, his
speeches, and addresses are devoted to the particular day--to the
approaching solemnity; nay, his great work, _Alsatia Illustrata_,
belongs to life, as he recalls the past, freshens up faded forms,
reanimates the hewn and the formed stone, and brings obliterated broken
inscriptions for a second time before the eyes and mind of his reader.
In such a manner, his activity fills all Alsatia and the neighbouring
country; in Baden and the Palatinate he preserves to an extreme old
age an uninterrupted influence; at Mannheim he founds the Academy of
Sciences, and remains president of it till his death.

I never approached this eminent man, excepting on one night, when we
gave him a torch-serenade. Our pitch-torches more filled with smoke
than lighted the court-yard of the old chapter-house, which was
over-arched by linden-trees. When the noise of the music had ended, he
came forward and stepped into the midst of us; and here also was in
his right place. The slender, well-grown, cheerful old man stood with
his light, free manners, venerably before us, and held us worthy the
honour of a well-considered address, which he delivered to us in an
amiable paternal manner, without a trace of restraint or pedantry, so
that we really thought ourselves something for the moment; for, indeed,
he treated us like the kings and princes whom he had been so often
called upon to address in public. We testified our satisfaction aloud,
trumpets and drums repeatedly sounded, and the dear, hopeful academical
_plebs_ then found its way home with hearty satisfaction.

[Side-note: Koch and Oberlin.]

His scholars and companions in study, Koch and Oberlin, were men
in close connexion with me. My taste for antiquarian remains was
passionate. They often let me into the museum, which contained, in
many ways, the vouchers to his great work on Alsace. Even this work I
had not known intimately until after that journey, when I had found
antiquities on the spot, and now being perfectly advanced, I could, on
longer or shorter expeditions, render present to myself the valley of
the Rhine as a Roman possession, and finish colouring many a dream of
times past.

Scarcely had I made some progress in this, than Oberlin directed me
to the monuments of the middle ages, and made me acquainted with the
ruins and remains, the seals and documents, which those times have
left behind them; nay, sought to inspire me with an inclination for
what we called the Maine-singers and heroic poets. To this good man, as
well as to Herr Koch, I have been greatly indebted; and if things had
gone according to their wish, I should have had to thank them for the
happiness of my life. The matter stood thus:--

Schöpflin, who for his whole lifetime had moved in the higher sphere of
political law, and well knew the great influence which such and kindred
studies are likely to procure for a sound head, in courts and cabinets,
felt an insuperable, nay, unjust aversion from the situation of a
civilian, and had inspired his scholars 'with the like sentiments. The
above-mentioned two men, friends of Salzmann, had taken notice of me in
a most friendly manner. My impassioned grasping at external objects,
the manner in which I continued to bring forward their advantages, and
to communicate to them a particular interest, they prized higher than
I did myself. My slight, and I may say, my scanty occupation with the
civil law, had not remained unobserved by them; they were well enough
acquainted with me to know how easily I was to be influenced; I had
made no secret of my liking for an academical life, and they therefore
thought to gain me over to history, political law, and rhetoric, at
first for a time, but after wards more decidedly. Strasbourg itself
offered advantages enough. The prospect of the German Chancery at
Versailles, the precedent of Schöpflin, whose merits, indeed, seemed
to me unattainable, were to incite to emulation, if not to imitation;
and perhaps a similar talent was thus to be cultivated, which might be
both profitable to him who could boast of it, and useful to others who
might choose to employ it on their own account. These, my patrons, and
Salzmann with them, set a great value on my memory and my capacity for
apprehending the sense of languages, and chiefly by these sought to
further their views and plans.

I now intend to describe, at length, how all this came to nothing, and
how it happened that I again passed over from the French to the German
side. Let me be allowed, as hitherto, some general reflections, by way
of transition.

There are few biographies which can represent a pure, quiet, steady
progress of the individual. Our life, as well as all in which we are
contained, is, in an incomprehensible manner, composed of freedom and
necessity. Our will is a prediction of what we shall do, under all
circumstances. But these circumstances lay hold on us in their own
fashion. The _what_ lies in us, the _how_ seldom depends on us, after
the _wherefore_ we dare not ask, and on this account we are rightly
referred to the _quia._

The French tongue I had liked from my youth upwards; I had learned to
know the language through a bustling life, and a bustling life through
the language. It had become my own, like a second mother-tongue,
without grammar and instruction--by mere intercourse and practice. I
now wished to use it with still greater fluency, and gave Strasburg the
preference, as a second university residence, to other high schools;
but, alas! it was just there that I had to experience the very reverse
of my hopes, and to be turned rather from than to this language and
these manners.

The French, who generally aim at good behaviour, are indulgent
towards foreigners who begin to speak their language; they will not
laugh any one out of countenance at a fault, or blame him in direct
terms. However, since they cannot endure sins committed against their
language, they have a manner of repeating, and, as it were, courteously
confirming what has been said with another turn, at the same time
making use of the expression which should properly have been employed;
thus leading the intelligent and the attentive to what is right and

[Side-note: Difficulty with the French Language.]

Now although, if one is in earnest--if one has self-denial enough to
profess oneself a pupil, one gains a great deal, and is much advanced
by this plan, one nevertheless always feels in some degree humiliated;
and, since one talks for the sake of the subject-matter also, often
too much interrupted, or even distracted, so that one impatiently lets
the conversation drop. This happened with me more than with others,
as I always thought that I had to say something interesting, and, on
the other hand, to hear something important, and did not wish to be
always brought back merely to the expression,--a case which often
occurred with me, as my French was just as motley as that of any other
foreigner. I had observed the accent and idiom of footmen, valets,
guards, young and old actors, theatrical lovers, peasants, and heroes;
and this Babylonish idiom was rendered still more confused by another
odd ingredient, as I liked to hear the French reformed clergy,
and visited their churches the more willingly, as a Sunday walk to
Bockenheim was on this account not only permitted but ordered. But even
this was not enough; for as in my youthful years, I had always been
chiefly directed to the German of the 16th century, I soon included the
French also of that noble epoch among the objects of my inclination.
Montaigne, Amyot, Rabelais, Marot, were my friends, and excited in me
sympathy and delight. Now all these different elements moved in my
discourse chaotically one with another, so that for the hearer the
meaning was lost in the oddity of the expression; nay an educated
Frenchman could no more courteously correct me, but had to censure me
and tutor me in plain terms. It therefore happened with me here once
more as it had happened in Leipzig, only that on this occasion I could
not appeal to the right of my native place to speak idiomatically, as
well as other provinces; but being on a foreign ground and soil, was
forced to adapt myself to traditional laws.

Perhaps we might even have resigned ourselves to this, if an evil
genius had not whispered into our ears that all endeavours by a
foreigner to speak French would remain unsuccessful; for a practised
ear can perfectly well detect a German, Italian, or Englishman under a
French mask. One is tolerated, but never received into the bosom of the
only church of language.

Only a few exceptions were granted. They named to us a Herr von
Grimm; but even Schöpflin, it seemed, did not reach the summit. They
allowed that he had early seen the necessity of expressing himself in
French to perfection; they approved of his inclination to converse
with every one, and especially to entertain the great and persons of
rank; they praised him, that living in the place where he was, he
had made the language of the country his own, and had endeavoured
as much as possible to render himself a Frenchman of society and
orator. But what does he gain by the denial of his mother-tongue,
and his endeavours after a foreign one? He cannot make it right with
anybody. In society they are pleased to deem him vain; as if any one
would or could converse with others without some feeling for self and
self-complacency! Then the refined connoisseurs of the world and of
language assert that there is in him more of dissertation and dialogue
than of conversation, properly so called. The former was generally
recognised as the original and fundamental sin of the Germans, the
latter as the cardinal virtue of the French. As a public orator he
fares no better. If he prints a well-elaborated address to the king or
the princes, the Jesuits, who are ill-disposed to him as a Protestant,
lay wait for him, and show that his terms of expression are _not

Instead of consoling ourselves with this, and bearing as green wood
that which had been laid upon the dry, we were annoyed at such pedantic
injustice. We fall into despair, and, by this striking example, are
the more convinced that it is a vain endeavour to try to satisfy the
French by the matter itself, as they are too closely bound to the
external conditions under which everything is to appear. We therefore
embrace the opposite resolution of getting rid of the French language
altogether, and of directing ourselves more than ever, with might and
earnestness, to our own mother-tongue.

And for this we found opportunity and sympathy in actual life. Alsace
had not been connected with France so long that an affectionate
adherence to the old constitution, manners, language, and costume
did not still exist with old and young. If the conquered party loses
half his existence by compulsion, he looks upon it as disgraceful
voluntarily to part with the other half. He therefore holds fast to all
that can recall to him the good old time, and foster in him the hope
that a better epoch will return. Very many inhabitants of Strasburg
formed little circles, separate, indeed, but nevertheless united in
spirit, which were always increased and recruited by the numerous
subjects of German princes who held considerable lands under French
sovereignty, since fathers and sons, either for the sake of study or
business, resided for a longer or shorter time at Strasburg.

At our table nothing but German was spoken. Salzmann expressed himself
in French with much fluency and elegance; but, with respect to his
endeavours and acts, was a perfect German. Lerse might have been set up
as a pattern of a German youth. Meyer, of Lindau, liked to get on with
good German too well to shine in good French; and if, among the rest,
many were inclined to the Gallic speech and manners, they yet, while
they were with us, allowed the general tone to prevail with them.

[Side-note: Dislike to the French.]

From the language we turned to political affairs. We had not, indeed,
much to say in praise of our own imperial constitution. We granted that
it consisted of mere legal contradictions; but exalted ourselves so
much the more above the present French constitution, which lost itself
in mere lawless abuses, while the government only showed its energy
in the wrong place, and was forced to admit that a complete change in
affairs was already publicly prophesied with black forebodings.

If, on the other hand, we looked towards the north, we were shone upon
by Frederic, the polar-star, who seemed to turn about himself Germany,
Europe, nay, the whole world. His preponderance in everything was most
strongly manifested when the Prussian exercise and even the Prussian
stick was introduced into the French army. As for the rest, we forgave
him his predilection for a foreign language, since we felt satisfaction
that his French poets, philosophers, and _littérateurs_ continued to
annoy him, and often declared that he was to be considered and treated
only as an intruder.

But what, more than all, forcibly alienated us from the French, was the
unpolite opinion, repeatedly maintained, that the Germans in general,
as well as the king, who was striving after French cultivation, were
deficient in taste. With respect to this kind of talk, which followed
every judgment like a burden, we endeavoured to solace ourselves with
contempt; but we could so much the less come to a clear understanding
about it, as we were assured that Menage had already said, that the
French writers possessed everything but taste; and had also learned
from the then living Paris, that all the authors were wanting in taste,
and that Voltaire himself could not escape this severest of reproaches.
Having been before and often directed to nature, we would allow of
nothing but truth and uprightness of feeling, and the quick, blunt
expression of it.

    "Friendship, love, and brotherhood,
     Are they not self-understood?"

was the watchword and cry of battle, by which the members of our little
academical horde used to know and enliven each other. This maxim lay at
the foundation of all our social banquets, on the occasions of which we
did not fail to pay many an evening visit to Cousin Michel,[3] in his
well-known _Germanhood._

If, in what has hitherto been described, only external contingent
causes and personal peculiarities are found, the French literature had
in itself certain qualities which were rather repulsive than attractive
to an aspiring youth. It was advanced in years and genteel; and by
neither of these qualities can youth, which looks about for enjoyment
of life and for freedom, be delighted.

Since the sixteenth century, the course of French literature had
never been seen to be completely interrupted; nay, the internal and
religious disturbances, as well as the external wars, had accelerated
its progress; but, as we heard generally maintained, it was a hundred
years ago that it had existed in its full bloom. Through favourable
circumstances, they said, an abundant harvest had at once ripened,
and had been happily gathered in, so that the great talents of the
eighteenth century had to be moderately contented with mere gleanings.

In the meanwhile, however, much had become antiquated: first of all
comedy, which had to be freshened up to adapt itself, less perfectly,
indeed, but still with new interest, to actual life and manners. Of the
tragedies, many had vanished from the stage, and Voltaire did not let
slip the important opportunity which offered of editing Corneille's
works, that he might show how defective his predecessor had been, whom,
according to the general voice, he had not equalled.

[Side-note: Voltaire.]

And even this very Voltaire, the wonder of his time, had grown old,
like the literature, which, for nearly a century, he had animated and
governed. By his side still existed and vegetated many _littérateurs_,
in a more or less active and happy old age, who one by one disappeared.
The influence of society upon authors increased more and more; for
the best society, consisting of persons of birth, rank, and property,
chose for one of their chief recreations literature, which thus became
quite social and genteel. Persons of rank and _littérateurs_ mutually
cultivated and necessarily perverted each other; for the genteel has
always something excluding in its nature; and excluding also was the
French criticism, being negative, detracting, and fault-finding. The
higher class made use of such judgments against the authors; the
authors, with somewhat less decorum, proceeded in the same manner
against each other, nay, against their patrons. If the public was not
to be awed, they endeavoured to take it by surprise, or gain it by
humility; and thus--apart from the movements which shook church and
state to their inmost core--there arose such a literary ferment, that
Voltaire himself stood in need of his full activity, and his whole
preponderance, to keep himself above the torrent of general disesteem.
Already he was openly called an old capricious child; his endeavours,
carried on indefatigably, were regarded as the vain efforts of a
decrepid age; certain principles, on which he had stood during his
whole life, and to the spread of which he had devoted his days, were no
more held in esteem and honour; nay, his Deity, by acknowledging whom
he continued to declare himself free from atheism, was not conceded
him; and thus he himself, the grandsire and patriarch, was forced,
like his youngest competitor, to watch the present moment, to catch at
new power--to do his friends too much good, and his enemies too much
harm; and under the appearance of a passionate striving for the love of
truth, to act deceitfully and falsely. Was it worth the trouble to have
led such a great active life, if it was to end in greater dependence
than it had begun? How insupportable such a position was, did not
escape his high mind, his delicate sensibility. He often relieved
himself by leaps and thrusts, gave the reins to his humour, and carried
a few of his sword-cuts too far,--at which friends and enemies, for
the most part, showed themselves indignant; for every one thought he
could play the superior to him, though no one could equal him. A public
which only hears the judgment of old men, becomes over-wise too soon;
and nothing is more unsatisfactory than a mature judgment adopted by an
immature mind.

To us youths, before whom, with our German love of truth and nature,
honesty towards both ourselves and others hovered as the best guide
both in life and learning, the factious dishonesty of Voltaire and the
perversion of so many worthy subjects became more and more annoying,
and we daily strengthened ourselves in our aversion from him. He could
never have done with degrading religion and the sacred books, for
the sake of injuring priestcraft,[4] as they called it, and had thus
produced in me many an unpleasant sensation. But when I now learned
that, to weaken the tradition of a deluge, he had denied all petrified
shells, and only admitted them as _lusus naturæ_, he entirely lost
my confidence; for my own eyes had, on the Baschberg, plainly enough
shown me that I stood on the bottom of an old dried-up sea, among the
_exuviæ_ of its original inhabitants. These mountains had certainly
been once covered with waves, whether before or during the deluge did
not concern me; it was enough that the valley of the Rhine had been a
monstrous lake, a bay extending beyond the reach of the eyesight; out
of this I was not to be talked. I thought much more of advancing in the
knowledge of lands and mountains, let what would be the result.

French literature, then, had grown old and genteel in itself, and
through Voltaire. Let us devote some further consideration to this
remarkable man.

From his youth upwards, Voltaire's wishes and endeavours had been
directed to an active and social life, to politics, to gain on a large
scale, to a connexion with the heads of the earth, and a profitable
use of this connexion, that he himself might be one of the heads of
the earth also. No one has easily made himself so dependent, for the
sake of being independent. He even succeeded in subjugating minds;
the nation became his own. In vain did his opponents unfold their
moderate talents, and their monstrous hate; nothing succeeded in
injuring him. The court he could never reconcile to himself, but by
way of compensation, foreign kings were his tributaries; Katharine
and Frederic the Great, Gustavus of Sweden, Christian of Denmark,
Peniotowsky of Poland, Henry of Prussia, Charles of Brunswick,
acknowledged themselves his vassals; even popes thought they must coax
him by some acts of indulgence. That Joseph the Second had kept aloof
from him did not at all redound to the honour of this prince, for it
would have done no harm to him and his undertakings, if, with such a
fine intellect and with such noble views, he had been somewhat more
practically clever,[5] find a better appreciator of the mind.

What I have here stated in a compressed form, and in some connexion,
sounded at that time as a cry of the moment, as a perpetual discord,
unconnected and uninstructive, in our ears. Nothing was heard but
the praise of those who had gone before. Something good and new was
required: but the newest was never liked. Scarcely had a patriot
exhibited on the long inanimate stage national-French, heart-inspiring
subjects,--scarcely had the _Siege of Calais_ gained enthusiastic
applause, than the piece, together with all its national comrades, was
considered empty, and in every sense objectionable. The delineations of
manners by Destouches, which had so often delighted me when a boy, were
called weak; the name of this honest man had passed away; and how many
authors could I not point out, for the sake of whom I had to endure
the reproach that I judged like a provincial, if I showed any sympathy
for such men and their works, in opposition to any one who was carried
along by the newest literary torrent.

Thus, to our other German comrades we became more and more annoying.
According to our view,--according to the peculiarity of our own nature,
we had to retain the impressions of objects, to consume them but
slowly, and if it was to be so, to let them go as late as possible. We
were convinced that by faithful observation, by continued occupation,
something might be gained from all things, and that by persevering zeal
we must at last arrive at a point where the ground of the judgment
may be expressed at the same time with the judgment itself. Neither
did we fail to perceive that the great and noble French world offered
us many an advantage and much profit; for Rousseau had really touched
our sympathies. But if we considered his life and his fate, he was
nevertheless compelled to find the great reward for all he did in
this--that he could live unacknowledged and forgotten at Paris.

[Side-note: The Encyclopedists.]

If we heard the encyclopedists mentioned, or opened a volume of their
monstrous work, we felt as if we were going between the innumerable
moving spools and looms in a great factory, where, what with the mere
creaking and rattling--what with all the mechanism, embarrassing
both eyes and senses--what with the mere incomprehensibility of an
arrangement, the parts of which work into each other in the most
manifold way--what with the contemplation of all that is necessary to
prepare a piece of cloth, we feel disgusted with the very coat which we
wear upon our backs.

Diderot was sufficiently akin to us, as, indeed, in everything, for
which the French blame him, he is a true German. But even his point
of view was too high, his circle of vision was too extended for
us to range ourselves with him, and place ourselves at his side.
Nevertheless, his children of nature, whom he continued to bring
forward and dignify with great rhetorical art, pleased us very much;
his brave poachers and smugglers enchanted us; and this rabble
afterwards throve but too well upon the German Parnassus. It was
he also, who, like Rousseau, diffused a disgust of social life--a
quiet introduction to those monstrous changes of the world, in which
everything permanent appeared to sink.

However, we ought now to put aside these considerations, and to
remark what influence these two men have had upon art. Even here they
pointed--even from here they urged us towards nature.

The highest problem of any art is to produce by appearance the illusion
of a higher reality. But it is a false endeavour to realize the
appearance until at last only something commonly real remains.

As an ideal locality, the stage, by the application of the laws of
perspective to _coulisses_ ranged one behind the other, had attained
the greatest advantage; and this very gain they now wished wantonly
to abandon, by shutting up the sides of the theatre, and forming real
room-walls. With such an arrangement of the stage, the piece itself,
the actors' mode of playing, in a word, everything was to coincide; and
thus an entirely new theatre was to arise.

The French actors had, in comedy, attained the summit of the true in
art. Their residence at Paris, their observations of the externals of
the court, the connexion of the actors and actresses with the highest
classes, by means of love affairs--all contributed to transplant to
the stage the greatest realness and seemliness of social life; and on
this point the friends of nature found but little to blame. However
they thought they made a great advance, if they chose for their pieces
earnest and tragical subjects, in which the citizen-life should not
be wanting, used prose for the higher mode of expression, and thus
banished unnatural verse, together with unnatural declamation and

It is extremely remarkable, and has not been generally noticed, that
at this time, even the old, severe, rhythmical, artistical tragedy was
threatened with a revolution, which could only be averted by great
talents and the power of tradition.

In opposition to the actor Le Kain, who played his heroes with especial
theatrical decorum, with deliberation, elevation, and force, and kept
himself aloof from the natural and ordinary, came forward a man named
Aufresne, who declared war against everything unnatural, and in his
tragic acting sought to express the highest truth. This mode might not
have accorded with that of the other Parisian actors. He stood alone,
while they kept together, and adhering to his views obstinately enough,
he chose to leave Paris rather than alter them, and came through
Strasburg. There we saw him play the part of Augustus in _Cinna_,
that of Mithridates, and others of the sort, with the truest and most
natural dignity. He appeared as a tall, handsome man, more slender than
strong, not, properly speaking, with an imposing, but nevertheless with
a noble, pleasing demeanour. His acting was well-considered and quiet,
without being cold, and forcible enough where force was required. He
was a very well-practised actor, and one of the few who know how to
turn the artificial completely into nature, and nature completely
into the artificial. It is really those few whose misunderstood good
qualities always originate the doctrine of false "naturalness."

[Side-note: Rousseau's "Pygmalion."]

And thus will I also make mention of a work, which is indeed small,
but which made an epoch in a remarkable manner,--I mean Rousseau's
_Pygmalion_. A great deal could be said upon it; for this strange
production floats between nature and art, with the full endeavour of
resolving the latter into the former. We see an artist who has produced
what is most perfect, and yet does not find any satisfaction in having,
according to art, represented his idea externally to himself, and given
to it a higher life; no, it must also be drawn down to him into the
earthly life. He will destroy the highest thing that mind and deed have
produced, by the commonest act of sensuality.

All this and much else, right and foolish, true and half-true,
operating upon us as it did, still more perplexed our notions; we were
driven astray through many by-ways and roundabout ways, and thus on
many sides was prepared that German literary revolution, of which we
were witnesses, and to which, consciously or unconsciously, willingly
or unwillingly, we unceasingly contributed.

We had neither impulse nor tendency to be illumined and advanced
in a philosophical manner; on religious subjects we thought we
had sufficiently enlightened ourselves, and therefore the violent
contest of the French philosophers with the priesthood was tolerably
indifferent to us. Prohibited books condemned to the flames, which
then made a great noise, produced no effect upon us. I mention as an
instance, to serve for all, the _Système de la Nature_, which we took
in hand out of curiosity. We did not understand how such a book could
be dangerous. It appeared to us so dark, so Cimmerian, so deathlike,
that we found it a trouble to endure its presence, and shuddered at
it as at a spectre. The author fancies he gives his book a peculiar
recommendation, when he declares in his preface, that as a decrepit old
man, just sinking into the grave, he wishes to announce the truth to
his contemporaries and to posterity.

We laughed him out; for we thought we had observed that by old people
nothing in the world that is loveable and good is in fact appreciated.
"Old churches have dark windows; to know how cherries and berries
taste, we must ask children and sparrows." These were our gibes and
maxims; and thus that book, as the very quintessence of senility,
appeared to us as unsavoury, nay, absurd. "All was to be of necessity,"
so said the book, "and therefore there was no God." But could there not
be a God by necessity too? asked we. We indeed confessed, at the same
time, that we could not withdraw ourselves from the necessities of day
and night, the seasons, the influence of climate, physical and animal
condition; but nevertheless we felt within us something that appeared
like perfect freedom of will, and again something which sought to
counterbalance this freedom.

The hope of becoming more and more rational, of making ourselves more
and more independent of external things, nay, of ourselves, we could
not give up. The word freedom sounds so beautiful, that we cannot do
without it, even though it designates an error.

[Side-note: "Système de la Nature."]

None of us had read the book through; for we found ourselves deceived
in the expectations with which we had opened it. A system of nature
was announced; and therefore we hoped to learn really something of
nature--our idol. Physics and chemistry, descriptions of heaven and
earth, natural history and anatomy, with much else, had now for years,
and up to the last day, constantly directed us to the great adorned
world; and we would willingly have heard both particulars and generals
about suns and stars, planets and moons, mountains, valleys, rivers and
seas, with all that live and move in them. That in the course of this,
much must occur which would appear to the common man as injurious, to
the clergy as dangerous, and to the state as inadmissible, we had no
doubt; and we hoped that the little book had not unworthily stood the
fiery ordeal. But how hollow and empty did we feel in this melancholy,
atheistical half-night, in which earth vanished with all its images,
heaven with all its stars. There was to be a matter in motion from all
eternity, and by this motion, right and left and in every direction,
without anything further, it was to produce the infinite phenomena of
existence. Even all this we should have allowed to pass, if the author,
out of his moved matter, had really built up the world before our eyes.
But he seemed to know as little about nature as we did; for, having set
up some general ideas, he quits them at once, for the sake of changing
that which appears as higher than nature, or as a higher nature within
nature, into material, heavy nature, which is moved, indeed, but
without direction or form--and thus he fancies he has gained a great

If, after all, this book did us any mischief, it was this,--that we
took a hearty dislike to all philosophy, and especially metaphysics,
and remained in that dislike; while, on the other hand, we threw
ourselves into living knowledge, experience, action, and poetising,
with all the more liveliness and passion.

Thus, on the very borders of France, we had at once got rid and clear
of everything French about us. The French way of life we found too
defined and genteel, their poetry cold, their criticism annihilating,
their philosophy abstruse, and yet insufficient, so that we were on
the point of resigning ourselves to rude nature, at least by way of
experiment, if another influence had not for a long time prepared us
for higher and freer views of the world, and intellectual enjoyments
as true as they were poetical, and swayed us, first moderately and
secretly, but afterwards with more and more openness and force.

I need scarcely say that Shakspeare is intended; and having once said
this, no more need be added. Shakspeare has been acknowledged by the
Germans, more by them than by other nations, perhaps even more than by
his own. We have richly bestowed on him all that justice, fairness, and
forbearance which we refuse to ourselves. Eminent men have occupied
themselves in showing his talents in the most favourable light; and I
have always readily subscribed to what has been said to his honour, in
his favour, or even by way of excuse for him. The influence of this
extraordinary mind upon me has been already shown; an attempt has been
made with respect to his works, which has received approbation; and
therefore this general statement may suffice for the present, until I
am in a position to communicate to such, friends as like to hear me, a
gleaning of reflections on his great deserts, such as I was tempted to
insert in this very place.

At present I will only show more clearly the manner in which I
became acquainted with him. It happened pretty soon at Leipzig,
through Dodd's _Beauties of Shakspeare._ Whatever may be said against
such collections, which give authors in a fragmentary form, they
nevertheless produce many good effects. We are not always so collected
and so ready that we can take in a whole work according to its merits.
Do we not, in a book, mark passages which have an immediate reference
to ourselves? Young people especially, who are wanting in a thorough
cultivation, are laudably excited by brilliant passages; and thus
I myself remember, as one of the most beautiful epochs of my life,
that which is characterised by the above-mentioned work. Those noble
peculiarities, those great sayings, those happy descriptions, those
humorous traits--all struck me singly and powerfully.

Wieland's translation now made its appearance. It was devoured,
communicated and recommended to friends and acquaintances. We Germans
had the advantage that many important works of foreign nations were
first brought over to us in an easy and cheerful fashion. Shakspeare,
translated in prose, first by Wieland, afterwards by Eschenburg, was
able, as a kind of reading universally intelligible, and suitable
to any reader, to diffuse itself speedily, and to produce a great
effect. I revere the rhythm as well as the rhyme, by which poetry first
becomes poetry; but that which is really, deeply, and fundamentally
effective--that which is really permanent and furthering, is that which
remains of the poet when lip is translated into prose. Then remains the
pure, perfect substance, of which, when absent, a dazzling exterior
often contrives to make a false show, and which, when present, such an
exterior contrives to conceal. I therefore consider prose translations
more advantageous than poetical, for the beginning of youthful culture;
for it may be remarked that boys, to whom everything must serve as
a jest, delight themselves with the sound of words and the fall of
syllables, and by a sort of parodistical wantonness, destroy the deep
contents of the noblest work. Hence I would have it considered whether
a prose translation of Homer should not be next undertaken, though
this, indeed, must be worthy of the degree at which German literature
stands at present. I leave this, and what has been already said, to
the consideration of our worthy pedagogues, to whom an extensive
experience on this matter is most at command. I will only, in favour
of my proposition, mention Luther's translation of the Bible; for the
circumstance that this excellent man handed down a work, composed
in the most different styles, and gave us its poetical, historical,
commanding didactic tone in our mother-tongue, as if all were cast in
one mould, has done more to advance religion than if he had attempted
to imitate, in detail, the peculiarities of the original. In vain has
been the subsequent endeavour to make Job, the Psalms, and the other
lyrical books, capable of affording enjoyment in their poetical form.
For the multitude, upon whom the