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Autobiography by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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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
margin the number of the page where such passages as should explain each
other were to be found. But even thus the book still remained dark and
unintelligible enough, except that one at last studied one's self into a
certain terminology, and, by using it according to one's own fancy,
believed that one was, at any rate, saying, if not understanding,
something. The work mentioned before makes very honorable mention of its
predecessors, and we were incited to investigate those original sources
themselves. We turned to the works of Theophrastus, Paracelsus, and
Basilius Valentinus, as well as to those of Helmont, Starkey, and
others, whose doctrines and directions, resting more or less on nature
and imagination, we endeavored to see into and follow out. I was
particularly pleased with the "Aurea Catena Homeri," in which nature,
though perhaps in fantastical fashion, is represented in a beautiful
combination; and thus sometimes by ourselves, sometimes together, we
employed much time on these singularities, and spent the evenings of a
long winter--during which I was compelled to keep my chamber--very
agreeably, since we three (my mother being included) were more delighted
with these secrets than we could have been at their elucidation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One easily sees how the Redemption is not only decreed from eternity,
but is considered as eternally necessary,--nay, that it must ever renew
itself through the whole time of generation [Footnote: "Das Werden," the
state of becoming, as distinguished from that of being. The word, which
is most useful to the Germans, can never be rendered properly in
English.--TRANS.] and existence. In this view of the subject, nothing is
more natural than for the Divinity himself to take the form of man,
which had already prepared itself as a veil, and to share his fate for a
short time, in order, by this assimilation, to enhance his joys and
alleviate his sorrows. The history of all religions and philosophies
teaches us, that this great truth, indispensable to man, has been handed
down by different nations, in different times, in various ways, and even
in strange fables and images, in accordance with their limited
knowledge: enough, if it only be acknowledged that we find ourselves in
a condition which, even if it seems to drag us down and oppress us, yet
gives us opportunity, nay, even makes it our duty, to raise ourselves
up, and to fulfil the purposes of the Godhead in this manner, that,
while we are compelled on the one hand to concentrate ourselves (/uns
zu verselbsten/), we, on the other hand, do not omit to expand
ourselves (/uns zu entselbstigen/) in regular pulsation. [Footnote:
If we could make use of some such verbs as "inself" and "unself," we
should more accurately render this passage.--TRANS.]


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I took small, but well-situated and pleasant, lodgings, on the north
side of the Fish-market, a fine, long street, where the everlasting
motion came to the assistance of every unoccupied moment. I then
delivered my letters of introduction, and found among my patrons a
merchant, who, with his family, was devoted to those pious opinions
sufficiently known to me, although, as far as regarded external worship,
he had not separated from the Church. He was a man of intelligence
withal, and by no means hypocritical in his conduct. The company of
boarders which was recommended to me, and, indeed, I to it, was very
agreeable and entertaining. A couple of old maids had long kept up this
boarding-house with regularity and good success: there might have been
about ten persons, older and younger. Of these latter, one named Meyer,
a native of Lindau, is most vividly present to my mind. From his form
and face he might have been considered one of the handsomest of men, if,
at the same time, he had not had something of the sloven in his whole
appearance. In like manner his splendid natural talents were marred by
an incredible levity, and his excellent temper by an unbounded
dissoluteness. He had an open, jovial face, rather more round than oval:
the organs of the senses, the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, could be
called rich; they showed a decided fulness, without being too large. His
mouth was particularly charming, owing to his curling lips; and his
whole physiognomy had the peculiar expression of a rake, from the
circumstance that his eyebrows met across his nose, which, in a handsome
face, always produces a pleasant expression of sensuality. By his
jovialness, sincerity, and good nature, he made himself beloved by all.
His memory was incredible; attention at the lectures was no effort for
him; he retained all he heard, and was intellectual enough to take an
interest in every thing, and this the more easily, as he was studying
medicine. All his impressions remained vivid; and his waggery in
repeating the lectures and mimicking the professors often went so far,
that, when he had heard three different lectures in one morning, he
would, at the dinner-table, interchange the professors with each other,
paragraphwise, and often even more abruptly, which motley lecture
frequently entertained us, but often, too, became troublesome.

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

With this man I talked over my design of continuing to study
jurisprudence at Strasburg, so as to be able to take my degree as soon
as possible. Since he was exactly informed of every thing, I asked him
about the lectures I should have to hear, and what he generally thought
of the matter. To this he replied, that it was not in Strasburg as in
the German universities, where they try to educate jurists in the large
and learned sense of the term. Here, in conformity with the relation
towards France, all was really directed to the practical, and managed in
accordance with the opinions of the French, who readily stop at what is
given. They tried to impart to every one certain general principles and
preliminary knowledge, they compressed as much as possible, and
communicated only what was most necessary. Hereupon he made me
acquainted with a man, in whom, as a /repetent/, [Footnote: A
repetent is one of a class of persons to be found in the German
universities, and who assist students in their studies. They are
somewhat analogous to the English tutors, but not precisely: for the
latter render their aid /before/ the recitation; while the repetent
/repeats/ with the student, in private, the lectures he has
previously heard from the professor. Hence his name, which might be
rendered /repeater/, had we any corresponding class of men in
England or America, which would justify an English word.--/American
Note/.] great confidence was entertained; which he very soon managed
to gain from me also. By way of introduction, I began to speak with him
on subjects of jurisprudence; and he wondered not a little at my
swaggering: for, during my residence at Leipzig, I had gained more of an
insight into the requisites for the law than I have hitherto taken
occasion to state in my narrative, though all I had acquired could only
be reckoned as a general encyclopedical survey, and not as proper
definite knowledge. University life, even if in the course of it we may
not exactly have to boast of industry, nevertheless affords endless
advantages in every kind of cultivation, because we are always
surrounded by men who either possess or are seeking science, so that,
even if unconsciously, we are constantly drawing some nourishment from
such an atmosphere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No sooner had the news of the queen's happy arrival rung from the
capital, than it was followed by the horrible intelligence, that, owing
to an oversight of the police during the festal fireworks, an infinite
number of persons, with horses and carriages, had been destroyed in a
street obstructed by building materials, and that the city, in the midst
of the nuptial solemnities, had been plunged into mourning and sorrow.
They attempted to conceal the extent of the misfortune, both from the
young royal pair and from the world, by burying the dead in secret; so
that many families were convinced only by the ceaseless absence of their
members that they, too, had been swept off by this awful event. That, on
this occasion, those ghastly figures in the grand saloon again came
vividly before my mind, I need scarcely mention; for every one knows how
powerful certain moral impressions are when they embody themselves, as
it were, in those of the senses.

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

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

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

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

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

With my way of feeling and thinking, it cost me nothing to let every one
pass for what he was,--nay, for that which he wished to pass for; and
thus the frankness of a fresh, youthful heart, which manifested itself
almost for the first time in its full bloom, made me many friends and
adherents. Our company of boarders increased to about twenty persons;
and, as Salzmann kept up his accustomed order, every thing continued in
its old routine,--nay, the conversation was almost more decorous, as
every one had to be on his guard before several. Among the new-comers
was a man who particularly interested me: his name was Jung, the same
who afterwards became known under the name of Stilling. In spite of an
antiquated dress, his form had something delicate about it, with a
certain sturdiness. A bag-wig did not disfigure his significant and
pleasing countenance. His voice was mild, without being soft and weak:
it became even melodious and powerful as soon as his ardor was roused,
which was very easily done. On becoming better acquainted with him, one
found in him a sound common sense, which rested on feeling, and
therefore took its tone from the affections and passions; and from this
very feeling sprang an enthusiasm for the good, the true, and the just,
in the greatest possible purity. For the course of this man's life had
been very simple, and yet crowded with events and with manifold
activity. The element of his energy was indestructible faith in God, and
in an assistance flowing immediately from him, which evidently
manifested itself in an uninterrupted providence, and in an unfailing
deliverance out of all troubles and from every evil. Jung had made many
such experiences in his life, and they had often been repeated of late
in Strasburg: so that, with the greatest cheerfulness, he led a life
frugal indeed, but free from care, and devoted himself most earnestly to
his studies; although he could not reckon upon any certain subsistence
from one quarter to another. In his youth, when on a fair way to become
a charcoal-burner, he took up the trade of a tailor; and after he had
instructed himself, at the same time, in higher matters, his knowledge-
loving mind drove him to the occupation of schoolmaster. This attempt
failed; and he returned to his trade, from which, however, since every
one felt for him confidence and affection, he was repeatedly called
away, again to take a place as private tutor. But for his most internal
and peculiar training he had to thank that wide-spread class of men who
sought out their salvation on their own responsibility, and who, while
they strove to edify themselves by reading the Scriptures and good
books, and by mutual exhortation and confession, thereby attained a
degree of cultivation which must excite surprise. For while the interest
which always accompanied them and which maintained them in fellowship
rested on the simplest foundation of morality, well-wishing and well-
doing, the deviations which could take place with men of such limited
circumstances were of little importance; and hence their consciences,
for the most part, remained clear, and their minds commonly cheerful: so
there arose no artificial, but a truly natural, culture, which yet had
this advantage over others, that it was suitable to all ages and ranks,
and was generally social by its nature. For this reason, too, these
persons were, in their own circle, truly eloquent, and capable of
expressing themselves appropriately and pleasingly on all the tenderest
and best concerns of the heart. Now, good Jung was in this very case.
Among a few persons, who, if not exactly like-minded with himself, did
not declare themselves averse from his mode of thought, he was found,
not only talkative but eloquent: in particular, he related the history
of his life in the most delightful manner, and knew how to make all the
circumstances plainly and vividly present to his listeners. I persuaded
him to write them down, and he promised to do so. But because, in his
way of expressing himself, he was like a somnambulist, who must not be
called by name lest he should fall from his elevation, or like a gentle
stream, to which one dare oppose nothing lest it should foam, he was
often constrained to feel uncomfortable in a more numerous company. His
faith tolerated no doubt, and his conviction no jest. "While in friendly
communication he was inexhaustible, every thing came to a standstill
with him when he met with contradiction. I usually helped him through on
such occasions, for which he repaid me with honest affection. Since his
mode of thought was nothing strange to me, but on the contrary I had
already become accurately acquainted with it in my very best friends of
both sexes; and since, moreover, it generally interested me with its
naturalness and /na véte/,--he found himself on the very best terms
with me. The bent of his intellect was pleasing to me; nor did I meddle
with his faith in miracles, which was so useful to him. Salzmann
likewise behaved towards him with forbearance,--I say with forbearance,
for Salzmann, in conformity with his character, his natural disposition,
his age arid circumstances, could not but stand and continue on the side
of the rational, or rather the common-sense, Christians, whose religion
properly rested on the rectitude of their characters, and a manly
independence, and who therefore did not like to meddle or have any thing
to do with feelings which might easily have led them into gloom, or with
mysticism, which might easily have led them into the dark. This class,
too, was respectable and numerous: all men of honor and capacity
understood each other, and were of the like persuasion, as well as of
the same mode of life. Lerse, likewise our fellow-boarder, also belonged
to this number: a perfectly upright young man, and, with limited gifts
of fortune, frugal and exact. His manner of life and housekeeping was
the closest I ever knew among students. He was, of us all, the most
neatly dressed, and yet always appeared in the same clothes; but he
managed his wardrobe with the greatest care, kept every thing about him
clean, and required all things in ordinary life to go according to his
example. He never happened to lean anywhere, or to prop his elbow on the
table; he never forgot to mark his table-napkin; and the maid always had
a bad time of it when the chairs were not found perfectly clean. With
all this, he had nothing stiff in his exterior. He spoke cordially, with
precise and dry liveliness, in which a light ironical joke was very
becoming. In figure he was well built, slender, and of fair height: his
face was pock-pitted and homely, his little blue eyes cheerful and
penetrating. As he had cause to tutor us in so many respects, we let him
be our fencing-master besides, for he drew a very fine rapier; and it
seemed to give him sport to play off upon us, on this occasion, all the
pedantry of this profession. Moreover, we really profited by him, and
had to thank him for many sociable hours, which he induced us to spend
in good exercise and practice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, as it cannot be denied that there is in the whole mass a fine
proportion of height to breadth, so also in the details it maintains a
somewhat uniform lightness by means of these pillars and the narrow
compartments between them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During my residence in Frankfort I was quite cut off from such
pleasures; but in Strasburg, with other enjoyments of life, there soon
arose in my limbs the faculty of keeping time. On Sundays and week-days
one sauntered by no pleasure-ground without finding there a joyous crowd
assembled for the dance, and for the most part revolving in the circle.
Moreover, there were private balls in the country houses; and people
were already talking of the brilliant masquerades of the coming winter.
Here, indeed, I should have been out of my place, and useless to the
company, when a friend, who waltzed very well, advised me to practise
myself first in parties of a lower rank, so that afterwards I might be
worth something in the highest. He took me to a dancing-master, who was
well known for his skill. This man promised me, that, when I had in some
degree repeated the first elements and made myself master of them, he
would then lead me farther. He was one of your dry, ready French
characters, and received me in a friendly manner. I paid him a month in
advance, and received twelve tickets, for which he agreed to give me
certain hours' instruction. The man was strict and precise, but not
pedantic; and, as I already had some previous practice, I soon gave him
satisfaction, and received his commendation.

One circumstance, however, greatly facilitated the instruction of this
teacher: he had two daughters, both pretty, and both not yet twenty.
Having been instructed in this art from their youth upwards, they showed
themselves very skilful, and might have been able, as partners, soon to
help even the most clumsy scholars into some cultivation. They were both
very polite, spoke nothing but French; and I, on my part, did my best,
that I might not appear awkward or ridiculous before them. I had the
good fortune that they likewise praised me, and were always willing to
dance a minuet to their father's little violin, and, what indeed was
more difficult for them, to initiate me by degrees into waltzing and
whirling. Their father did not seem to have many customers, and they led
a lonely life. For this reason they often asked me to remain with them
after my hour, and to chat away the time a little, which I the more
willingly did, as the younger one pleased me well; and generally they
both altogether behaved very becomingly. I often read aloud something
from a novel, and they did the same. The elder, who was as handsome as,
perhaps even handsomer than, the second, but who did not correspond with
my taste so well as the latter, always conducted herself towards me more
obligingly, and more kindly in every respect. She was always at hand
during the lesson, and often protracted it: hence I sometimes thought
myself bound to offer back a couple of tickets to her father, which,
however, he did not accept. The younger, on the contrary, although never
showing me any ill will, was more reserved, and waited till she was
called by her father before she relieved the elder.

The cause of this became manifest to me one evening; for when, after the
dance was done, I was about to go into the sitting-room with the elder,
she held me back, and said, "Let us remain here a little longer; for I
will confess to you that my sister has with her a woman who tells
fortunes from cards, and who is to reveal to her how matters stand with
an absent lover, on whom her whole heart hangs, and upon whom she has
placed all her hope. Mine is free," she continued, "and I must accustom
myself to see it despised." I thereupon said sundry pretty things to
her, replying that she could at once convince herself on that point by
consulting the wise woman likewise; that I would do so myself, for I had
long wished to learn something of the kind, but lacked faith. She blamed
me for this, and assured me that nothing in the world was surer than the
responses of this oracle; only it must be consulted, not out of sport
and mischief, but solely in real affairs. However, I at last compelled
her to go with me into that room, as soon as she had ascertained that
the consultation was over. We found her sister in a very cheerful humor:
and even towards me she was kinder than usual, sportive, and almost
witty; for, since she seemed to be secure of an absent friend, she may
have thought it no treachery to be a little gracious with a present
friend of her sister's, which she thought me to be. The old woman was
now flattered, and good payment was promised her if she would tell the
truth to the elder sister and to me. With the usual preparations and
ceremonies she began her business, in order to tell the fair one's
fortune first. She carefully considered the situation of the cards, but
seemed to hesitate, and would not speak out what she had to say. "I see
now," said the younger, who was already better acquainted with the
interpretation of such a magic tablet, "you hesitate, and do not wish to
disclose any thing disagreeable to my sister; but that is a cursed
card!" The elder one turned pale, but composed herself, and said, "Only
speak out: it will not cost one's head!" The old woman, after a deep
sigh, showed her that she was in love; that she was not beloved; that
another person stood in the way; and other things of like import. We saw
the good girl's embarrassment. The old woman thought somewhat to improve
the affair by giving hopes of letters and money. "Letters," said the
lovely child, "I do not expect; and money I do not desire. If it is
true, as you say, that I love, I deserve a heart that loves me in
return."--"Let us see if it will not be better," replied the old woman,
as she shuffled the cards and laid them out a second time; but before
the eyes of all of us it had only become still worse. The fair one
stood, not only more lonely, but surrounded with many sorrows. Her lover
had moved somewhat farther, and the intervening figures nearer. The old
woman wished to try it a third time, in hopes of a better prospect; but
the beautiful girl could restrain herself no longer,--she broke out into
uncontrollable weeping, her lovely bosom heaved violently, she turned
round, and rushed out of the room. I knew not what to do. Inclination
kept me with the one present: compassion drove me to the other. My
situation was painful enough. "Comfort Lucinda," said the younger: "go
after her." I hesitated. How could I comfort her without at least
assuring her of some sort of affection? and could I do that at such a
moment in a cool, moderate manner? "Let us go together," said I to
Emilia. "I know not whether my presence will do her good," replied she.
Yet we went, but found the door bolted. Lucinda made no answer, we might
knock, shout, entreat, as we would. "We must let her have her own way,"
said Emilia: "she will not have it otherwise now." And, indeed, when I
called to my mind her manner from our very first acquaintance, she
always had something violent and unequal about her, and chiefly showed
her affection for me by not behaving to me with rudeness. What was I to
do? I paid the old woman richly for the mischief she had caused, and was
about to go, when Emilia said, "I stipulate that the cards shall now be
cut for you too." The old woman was ready. "Do not let me be present,"
cried I, and hastened down stairs.

The next day I had not courage to go there. The third day, early in the
morning, Emilia sent me word by a boy,--who had already brought me many
a message from the sisters, and had carried back flowers and fruits to
them in return,--that I should not fail that day. I came at the usual
hour, and found the father alone, who, in many respects, improved my
paces and steps, my goings and comings, my bearing and behavior, and,
moreover, seemed to be satisfied with me. The younger daughter came in
towards the end of the hour, and danced with me a very graceful minuet,
in which her movements were extraordinarily pleasing, and her father
declared that he had rarely seen a prettier and more nimble pair upon
his floor. After the lesson, I went as usual into the sitting-room; the
father left us alone; I missed Lucinda. "She is in bed," said Emilia,
"and I am glad of it: do not be concerned about it. Her mental illness
is first alleviated when she fancies herself bodily sick: she does not
like to die, and therefore she then does what we wish. We have certain
family medicines which she takes, and reposes; and thus, by degrees, the
swelling waves subside. She is indeed too good and amiable in such an
imaginary sickness; and as she is in reality very well, and is only
attacked by passion, she imagines various kinds of romantic deaths, with
which she frightens herself in a pleasant manner, like children when we
tell them ghost-stories. Thus, only last night, she announced to me with
great vehemence, that this time she should certainly die; and that only
when she was really near death, they should bring again before her the
ungrateful, false friend, who had at first acted so handsomely to her,
and now treated her so ill; she would reproach him bitterly, and then
give up the ghost."--"I know not that I am guilty," exclaimed I, "of
having expressed any sort of affection for her. I know somebody who can
best bear me witness in this respect." Emilia smiled, and rejoined, "I
understand you; and, if we are not discreet and determined, we shall all
find ourselves in a bad plight together. What will you say if I entreat
you not to continue your lessons? You have, I believe, four tickets yet
of the last month: and my father has already declared that he finds it
inexcusable to take your money any longer, unless you wish to devote
yourself to the art of dancing in a more serious manner; what is
required by a young man of the world you possess already."--"And do you,
Emilia, give me this advice, to avoid your house?" replied I. "Yes, I
do," said she, "but not of myself. Only listen! When you hastened away,
the day before yesterday, I had the cards cut for you; and the same
response was repeated thrice, and each time more emphatically. You were
surrounded by every thing good and pleasing, by friends and great lords;
and there was no lack of money. The ladies kept themselves at some
distance. My poor sister in particular stood always the farthest off:
one other advanced constantly nearer to you, but never came up to your
side; for a third person, of the male sex, always came between. I will
confess to you that I thought that I myself was meant by the second
lady, and after this confession you will best comprehend my well-meant
counsel. To an absent friend I have promised my heart and my hand; and,
until now, I loved him above all: yet it might be possible for your
presence to become more important to me than hitherto; and what kind of
a situation would you have between two sisters, one of whom you had made
unhappy by your affection, and the other by your coldness, and all this
ado about nothing and only for a short time? For, if we had not known
already who you are and what are your expectations, the cards would have
placed it before my eyes in the clearest manner. Fare you well!" said
she, and gave me her hand. I hesitated. "Now," said she, leading me
towards the door, "that it may really be the last time that we shall
speak to each other, take what I would otherwise have denied you." She
fell upon my neck, and kissed me most tenderly. I embraced her, and
pressed her to my bosom.

At this moment the side-door flew open; and her sister, in a light but
becoming night-dress, rushed out and cried, "You shall not be the only
one to take leave of him!" Emilia let me go; and Lucinda seized me,
clung close to my heart, pressed her black locks upon my cheeks, and
remained in this position for some time. And thus I found myself between
the two sisters, in the dilemma Emilia had prophesied to me a moment
before. Lucinda let me loose, and looked earnestly into my face. I was
about to grasp her hand and say something friendly to her; but she
turned herself away, walked with violent steps up and down the room for
some time, and then threw herself into a corner of the sofa. Emilia went
to her, but was immediately repulsed; and here began a scene which is
yet painful to me in the recollection, and which, although really it had
nothing theatrical about it, but was quite suitable to a lively young
Frenchwoman, could only be properly repeated in the theatre by a good
and feeling actress.

Lucinda overwhelmed her sister with a thousand reproaches. "This is not
the first heart," she cried, "that was inclining itself to me, and that
you have turned away. Was it not just so with him who is absent, and who
at last betrothed himself to you under my very eyes? I was compelled to
look on; I endured it; but I know how many thousand tears it has cost
me. This one, too, you have now taken away from me, without letting the
other go; and how many do you not manage to keep at once? I am frank and
good natured; and every one thinks he knows me soon, and may neglect me.
You are secret and quiet, and people think wonders of what may be
concealed behind you. Yet there is nothing behind but a cold, selfish
heart that can sacrifice every thing to itself; this nobody learns so
easily, because it lies deeply hidden in your breast: and just as little
do they know of my warm, true heart, which I carry about with me as open
as my face."

Emilia was silent, and had sat down by her sister, who became constantly
more and more excited in her discourse, and let certain private matters
slip out, which it was not exactly proper for me to know. Emilia, on the
other hand, who was trying to pacify her sister, made me a sign from
behind that I should withdraw; but, as jealousy and suspicion see with a
thousand eyes, Lucinda seemed to have noticed this also. She sprang up
and advanced to me, but not with vehemence. She stood before me, and
seemed to be thinking of something. Then she said, "I know that I have
lost you: I make no further pretensions to you. But neither shall you
have him, sister!" So saying, she took a thorough hold of my head,
thrusting both her hands into my locks and pressing my face to hers, and
kissed me repeatedly on the mouth. "Now," cried she, "fear my curse! Woe
upon woe, for ever and ever, to her who kisses these lips for the first
time after me! Dare to have any thing more to do with him! I know Heaven
hears me this time. And you, sir, hasten now, hasten away as fast as you

I flew down the stairs, with the firm determination never again to enter
the house.

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