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Autobiography by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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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,
every thing 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
hinderance; she helped to prepare the meals I enjoyed; she brought, in
the evening at least, the wine 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 connections, the more innocent they are,
afford the less variety in the long run, I was 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 humor at the failure of my poetical attempts,
at the apparent impossibility of coming to a clear understanding about
them, and at every thing 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 every thing 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.

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
labors, 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, connections, 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. A
great many families, far and near, I had seen already, 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 secrecy 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 [Footnote: "/Exposition/," in a dramatic sense,
properly means a statement of the events which take place before the
action of the play commences.--TRANS.] 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 Accomplices") is the only one that was
finished, the cheerful and burlesque tone of which upon the gloomy
family-ground appears as if accompanied by something causing anxiety; so
that, on the whole, it is painful in representation, although it pleases
in detached passages. The illegal deeds, harshly expressed, wound the
aesthetic and moral feeling, and the piece could therefore find no favor
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 stone/.

Through this earnestness, which cast a gloom over my first pieces, I
committed the mistake of neglecting very favorable 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 humor, which feels itself superior to the moment, and not
only fears no danger, but rather wantonly courts it. The reason 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." [Footnote: The real meaning of the passage is,
that the idiom "Possen reissen" is used also with the university word
"Suite," so that one can say "Suiten reissen."--TRANS.]

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. Whereas
such good-humored roguish and half-knavish pranks are practised with
personal risk for noble ends, the situations which arise from them are
aesthetically 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 extreme 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
labors 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,
whereas the latter knows how to set matters to rights, 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 mean time, 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 very much 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 neighbors 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 he commonly, when he admitted us to his presence, 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 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.

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 connection, quietly carry on their citizen-life side by
side. Thus for a considerable time complaints were made that 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 any thing 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 any thing 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 favor and grace. In the Lord's Supper earthly lips are to receive
a divine Being embodied, and partake of a heavenly under the form of an
earthly nourishment. This import is the same in all kinds of 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 join hands, 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 apostasy. The child in the course of life
goes on progressing 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, only, he is decidedly a
Christian, now for the first time he knows his advantages and also his
duties. But, in the mean time, a great deal 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 set at 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

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.

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 fervor 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 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 elasticity 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 cycle 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 joined 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
may be more favored, 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 inheritance. 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 joins 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 connection 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 others?

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 finger's 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 examimation
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.

But I found my good intention 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 of having many
failings, but 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 the very reason, that we were not obliged to confess
any thing in particular in the confessional,--nay, that this would not
be at all proper, even if we wished to do it. I did not like this at
all; 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: in my embarrassment I
opened the book I had in my 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 every thing was to be at
last; done away, was found limited by so many conditions, that one could
not with certainty dare appropriate it to one's self.

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
connection 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 way myself ashamed of them, and at last left
completely behind me this strange anguish of conscience, together with
church and altar.

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 honorable 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 [Footnote: The
lecture-room. The word is also used in university language to denote a
professor's audience.] 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 asked what were 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 any thing
worthy near it, 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 coarse, 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 gray horse.
This horse the elector had sent him, to oblige him to take an exercise
so necessary for his health,--a distinction for which he was not easily
to be forgiven.

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.

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. Every thing he did had to be done with slowness, and with 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 gray; and as the different parts of his attire were of different
material, and also of different shades, he could reflect for whole days
as to how he should procure one gray 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

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 towards me; and I, having been always accustomed and
inclined to the society of older persons, soon attached myself to him.
My intercourse served him, too, 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 humor, about the writings and poems of this man and that.
He received my productions with indulgence, and let me have my own 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 mean time, 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 tease 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.

My poetical compositions, 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 endeavored 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 any thing
empty and superfluous. He would, at the same time, 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 manoeuvre all the
calamities of literature. On the other hand, he extolled the grace and
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
reverted to the contrast with the compositor, turned a begun letter
upside down, and showed how unseemly it would be to write any thing 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 squandered our precious time; while it
could have occurred to none of us, that any thing would chance to
proceed out of our circle which would awaken a general sensation and
bring us into not the best repute.

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 one's self 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
labors, 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 far removed 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 honorable 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 favor 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.

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. Being of small stature, rather stout and thick-set, he was
violent in his motions, somewhat impetuous in his utterances, and
restless in his demeanor. 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
festive occasions. In the so-called "Ode," he followed the manner
employed 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 süssev 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/ gar manch Achtgroschenstück.
Glänzt deine /Urn/ dereinst in majestäts'chen /Pompe/,
Dann weint der /Patriot/ an deinem /Katacombe/.
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
/Und/ Hendel's /Tempel ist der Musensöhne Herz/."

[Footnote: The humor 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 Italicized on account of their
high-sounding pomp.

"O Hendel, whose fame extends from /south/ to /north/, hear
the /paean/i> 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 thy /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 /ballistoe/ be able to destroy /Germania/
and Hendel. Thy /weal/ is our /pride/, thy /woe/ our
/pain/, and Hendel's /temple/ is the /heart/ of the
/sons of the Muses/."-TRANS.]

This poem had its place for 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 aesthetic 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 to us; but 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,
displeased with 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 daytime 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 connection 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 farther, 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 like-wise 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.

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 considered an advantage;
thus alienated many with whom I had hitherto been 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 was meant by
experience? 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 nvan 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 about
to 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

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.
Being of a frank disposition, 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.

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 splendors were annihilated, and, of the whole, a glorious
land, much injured, alone remained.

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 a while 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's
observations, to go on after his fashion, I 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."


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 attracted me very much: 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. Every thing 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 affection or superfluity.
Thus also the first thing which he recommended to us, and to which he
always recurred, was simplicity in every thing that art and manual labor
united are called upon to produce. Being a sworn foe to 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 every thing 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 things on occasion, for a certain end and use, than of
undertaking and completing such as 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
/naive/ 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 humor. 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 Shakespeare, 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." 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 labored 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. Tims, 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 laboring in this
way, he once came behind me, and said, "More paper!" upon which he
immediately withdrew. My neighbor 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 connection 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 such 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-laborer, had done good service for art, and had
applied his learning to its true improvement. Heinecken, on the
contrary, could not be honorably 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 labors 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.

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 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 he cherished for his treasures; many more
who were added to the list,--all lived and labored 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 predilection for spiritual or temporal
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 of both 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.

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 one's self 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 /ut pictura
poesis/, so long misunderstood, was at once laid aside: the
difference between plastic and speaking art [Footnote: Bildende und
Redende Kunst." The expression "speaking art" is used to produce a
corresponding antithesis, though "/belles-lettres/ would be the
ordinary rendering.--TRANS.] 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 labors 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.

What enchanted us most was the beauty of that thought, that the ancients
had recognized death as the brother of sleep, and had represented them
similar, even to confusion, as becomes Menaechmi. Here we could first do
high honor to the triumph of the beautiful, and banish the ugly of every
kind into the low sphere of the ridiculous within the realm of art,
since it could not be utterly driven out of the world.

The splendor 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 eccentricity.

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 taken
firm root 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 any thing 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 neighbor, 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.

I went in search of 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?"
I replied. "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 humor, 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 any thing should be necessary. When he would have declined
it, and somewhat waggishly gave me to understand that he was not so
burned 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 nowadays."
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 labor incessantly was his first and most necessary care; that he
regarded every thing 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 philosophers. [Footnote:
"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.]

The hour when the gallery was to be opened appeared, after having been
expected with impatience. I entered into this sanctuary, and my
astonishment surpassed every conception which I had formed. This room,
returning into itself, in which splendor 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 guide, only I requested that I might
be allowed to remain in the outer gallery. Here, to my comfort, I felt
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 for dinner, I scarcely
believed my eyes; for I fancied I saw before me a picture by Ostade, so
perfect that all it needed was to be hung up in the gallery. The
position of the objects, the light, the shadow, the brownish tint of the
whole, the magical harmony,--every thing 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.

I visited the gallery at all permitted hours, and continued to express
too loudly the ecstasy with which I beheld many precious works. I thus
frustrated my laudable purpose of remaining unknown and unnoticed; and
whereas only one of the unclerkeepers had hitherto had intercourse with
me, the gallery-inspector, Counsellor Riedel, now also took notice of
me, and called my attention 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 there got 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
any thing 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 more and more deeply: and, when a vivat in
honor 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
amount, 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 taste.

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 somewhat regain his
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 so excessively
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 favors
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.

These delightful 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/!"

At last, though very loath, I returned 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 connection 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, who 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 granted 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.

I was now to enter into another sort of connection 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 labors, 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 working by a broad 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 humor, 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 any thing; but I had not care enough in guarding
against the deleterious vapors which are generated on such occasions,
and these may have contributed to the maladies which afterwards troubled
me for a long time. Amidst such labors, lest any thing should be left
untried, 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 favored by us. Eschenburg,
a handsome young man, but little older than we were, distinguished
himself advantageously among the students. Zachariä 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 honor 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 eyes, whose ability was
acknowledged in his country 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.

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 any thing 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, every thing spoke in favor
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 [Footnote: Winckelmann was
assassinated.--TRANS.] 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 favorable turn. I had already
brought with me from home a certain touch of hypochondria, which, in
this new sedentary and lounging life, was rather increased than
diminished. The pain in my chest, 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; coffee, which gave me a peculiarly melancholy tone,
especially when taken with milk after dinner, paralyzed 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 gayety and melancholy discomfort. Moreover, the
epoch of cold-water bathing, 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 hemorrhage, and had just strength and
presence of mind enough to waken my next-room neighbor. 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 tumor 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 humors, 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.

Among these friends I name first of all Docter Hermann, then senator,
afterwards burgomaster at Leipzig. He was among those boarders with whom
I had become acquainted through Schlosser, the one with whom an always
equable and enduring connection 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 any thing of all this appearing arduous to him, or
his having in the least hurried or been too late with any thing. 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 gray 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 /tete-a-tete/ 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 laboring 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 favor the more warmly, as no one is apt to seek a
closer connection 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.

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
felt all 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 convalescence.

The confidence which new friends repose in each other usually develops
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 connection
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 fluctuating 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 reason, and how great a share the feelings,
could and should have 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 connection 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 connection 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 one's self 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 unfavorably 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 honor.

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 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 honor 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 sidewalk, 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 neighborhood 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 favor 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 with 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? Suffice it to say, 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.

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, applied all his didactic taste to 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 finding some recreation 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. Nor was her writing
to 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, in these three years, hindered, or embittered to
her, so many innocent joys; and of his good and excellent qualities she
would not acknowledge even one. She did all 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. Not from love or
a desire to please did she accommodate herself to any thing, so that
this was one of the first things about which my mother complained to me
in private. 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
humor 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 tolerably comfortable. He was in good health,
spent a great part of the day in the instruction of my sister, went on
with 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 vigorous, 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.

My mother, by nature very lively and cheerful, spent under these
circumstances very tedious days. Her little housekeeping was soon
provided for. The good woman's mind, inwardly 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 demeanor 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 women. 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
favorite, 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 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 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
guided her way between both extremes, and seemed, with some self-
complacency, to see her own reflections in the image of Count
Zindendorf, 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 got
into disputes on this subject with my friend, 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 tumor 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 it best to open it; so
for a long time I had to suffer 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, fair-spoken, and, besides, an abstruse, man,
who had quite won the confidence of the pious circle. Being 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 one's self, 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 connection, 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 one's self 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 labor in this book was most accurately to notice the
obscure 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
terminology which might well have been compared to that of the later
sentimentalists. Fräulein von Klettenberg guided her way between both
extremes, and seemed, with some self-complacency, to see her own
reflections in the image of Count Zindendorf, 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 got into disputes on this
subject with my friend, 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 tumor 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 it best to open it; so
for a long time I had to suffer 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, fair-spoken, and, besides, an abstruse, man,
who had quite won the confidence of the pious circle. Being 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

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