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Eighth Book

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

But the building of the new theatre, in my time, made the greatest
noise; in which his curtain, when it was still quite new, had certainly
an uncommonly charming effect. Oeser had taken the Muses out of the
clouds, upon which they usually hover on such occasions, and set them
upon the earth. The statues of Sophocles and Aristophanes, around whom
all the modern dramatic writers were assembled, adorned a vestibule to
the Temple of Fame. Here, too, the goddesses of the arts were likewise
present; and all was dignified and beautiful. But now comes the oddity!
Through the open centre was seen the portal of the distant temple: and a
man in a light jerkin was passing between the two above-mentioned
groups, and, without troubling himself about them, directly up to the
temple; he was seen from behind, and was not particularly distinguished.
Now, this man was to represent Shakespeare, who without predecessors or
followers, without concerning himself about models, went to meet
immortality in his own way. This work was executed on the great floor
over the new theatre. "We often assembled round him there, and in that
place I read aloud to him the proof-sheets of "Musarion." As to myself,
I by no means advanced in the practice of the art. His instructions
worked upon our mind and our taste; but his own drawing was too
undefined to guide me, who had only glimmered along by the objects of
art and of nature, to a severe and decided practice. Of the faces and
bodies he gave us rather the aspect than the forms, rather the postures
than the proportions. He gave us the conceptions of the figures, and
desired that we should impress them vividly upon our minds. That might
have been beautifully and properly done, if he had not had mere
beginners before him. If, on this account, a pre-eminent talent for
instruction may be well denied him, it must, on the other hand, be
acknowledged that he was very discreet and politic, and that a happy
adroitness of mind qualified him very peculiarly for a teacher in a
higher sense. The deficiencies under which each one labored he clearly
saw; but he disdained to reprove them directly, and rather hinted his
praise and censure indirectly and very laconically. One was now
compelled to think over the matter, and soon came to a far deeper
insight. Tims, for instance, I had very carefully executed, after a
pattern, a nosegay on blue paper, with white and black crayon, and
partly with the stump, partly by hatching it up, had tried to give
effect to the little picture. After I had been long laboring in this
way, he once came behind me, and said, "More paper!" upon which he
immediately withdrew. My neighbor and I puzzled our heads as to what
this could mean; for my bouquet, on a large half-sheet, had plenty of
space around it. After we had reflected a long while, we thought, at
last, that we had hit his meaning, when we remarked, that, by working
together the black and the white, I had quite covered up the blue
ground, had destroyed the middle tint, and, in fact, with great
industry, had produced a disagreeable drawing. As to the rest, he did
not fail to instruct us in perspective, and in light and shade,
sufficiently indeed, but always so that we had to exert and torment
ourselves to find the application of the principles communicated.
Probably his view with regard to us who did not intend to become
artists, was only to form the judgment and taste, and to make us
acquainted with the requisites of a work of art, without precisely
requiring that we should produce one. Since, moreover, patient industry
was not my talent, for nothing gave me pleasure except what came to me
at once, so by degrees I became discouraged, if not lazy; and, as
knowledge is more comfortable than doing, I was quite content to follow
wherever he chose, after his own fashion, to lead us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This pleasant beginning put me at once in good humor, and we rallied
each other for some time. His wife stood doubting how she should board
and lodge such a guest. On this point, too, he had notions which
referred, not only to the Bible, but also to "Gottfried's Chronicle;"
and when we were agreed that I was to stay, I gave my purse, such as it
was, into the charge of my hostess, and requested her to furnish herself
from it, if any thing should be necessary. When he would have declined
it, and somewhat waggishly gave me to understand that he was not so
burned out as he might appear, I disarmed him by saying, "Even if it
were only to change water into wine, such a well-tried domestic resource
would not be out of place, since there are no more miracles nowadays."
The hostess seemed to find my conduct less and less strange: we had soon
accommodated ourselves to each other, and spent a very merry evening. He
remained always the same, because all flowed from one source. His
peculiarity was an apt common sense, which rested upon a cheerful
disposition, and took delight in uniform habitual activity. That he
should labor incessantly was his first and most necessary care; that he
regarded every thing else as secondary,--this kept up his comfortable
state of mind; and I must reckon him before many others in the class of
those who are called practical unconscious philosophers. [Footnote:
"Pratische Philosophen, bewusstlose Weltweisen." It is impossible to
give two substantives, as in the original, since this is effected by
using first the word of Greek, then the word of German origin, whereas
we have but one.--TRANS.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My sister immediately associated herself with me, and as previously,
from her letters, so I could now more in detail and accurately
understand the circumstances and situation of the family. My father had,
after my departure, applied all his didactic taste to my sister; and in
a house completely shut up, rendered secure by peace, and even cleared
of lodgers, he had cut off from her almost every means of looking about
and finding some recreation abroad. She had by turns to pursue and work
at French, Italian, and English; besides which he compelled her to
practise a great part of the day on the harpsichord. Nor was her writing
to be neglected; and I had already remarked that he had directed her
correspondence with me, and had let his doctrines come to me through her
pen. My sister was and still continued to be an undefinable being, the
most singular mixture of strength and weakness, of stubbornness and
pliability, which qualities operated now united, now isolated by will
and inclination. Thus she had, in a manner which seemed to me fearful,
turned the hardness of her character against her father, whom she did
not forgive for having, in these three years, hindered, or embittered to
her, so many innocent joys; and of his good and excellent qualities she
would not acknowledge even one. She did all he commanded and arranged,
but in the most unamiable manner in the world. She did it in the
established routine, but nothing more and nothing less. Not from love or
a desire to please did she accommodate herself to any thing, so that
this was one of the first things about which my mother complained to me
in private. But, since love was as essential to my sister as to any
human being, she turned her affection wholly on me. Her care in nursing
and entertaining me absorbed all her time: her female companions, who
were swayed by her without her intending it, had likewise to contrive
all sorts of things to be pleasing and consolatory to me. She was
inventive in cheering me up, and even developed some germs of comical
humor which I had never known in her, and which became her very well.
There soon arose between us a coterie-language, by which we could
converse before all people without their understanding us; and she often
used this gibberish with great pertness in the presence of our parents.

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

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

I was much troubled with the tumor in my neck, as the physician and
surgeon wished first to disperse this excrescence, afterwards, as they
said, to draw it to a head, and at last thought it best to open it; so
for a long time I had to suffer more from inconvenience than pain,
although towards the end of the cure the continual touching with lunar
caustic and other corrosive substances could not but give me very
disagreeable prospects for every fresh day. The physician and surgeon
both belonged to the Pious Separatists, although both were of highly
different natural characters. The surgeon, a slender, well-built man, of
easy and skilful hand, was unfortunately somewhat hectic, but endured
his condition with truly Christian patience, and did not suffer his
disease to perplex him in his profession. The physician was an
inexplicable, sly-looking, fair-spoken, and, besides, an abstruse, man,
who had quite won the confidence of the pious circle. Being active and
attentive, he was consoling to the sick; but, more than by all this, he
extended his practice by the gift of showing in the background some
mysterious medicines prepared by himself, of which no one could speak,
since with us the physicians were strictly prohibited from making up
their own prescriptions. With certain powders, which may have been some
kind of digestive, he was not so reserved, but that powerful salt, which
could only be applied in the greatest danger, was only mentioned among
believers; although no one had yet seen it or traced its effects. To
excite and strengthen our faith in the possibility of such an universal
remedy, the physician, wherever he found any susceptibility, had
recommended certain chemico-alchemical books to his patients, and given
them to understand, that, by one's own study of them, one could well
attain this treasure for one's self, which was the more necessary, as
the mode of its preparation, both for physical, and especially for
moral, reasons, could not be well communicated; nay, that in order to
comprehend, produce, and use this great work, one must know the secrets
of nature in connection, since it was not a particular, but an universal
remedy, and could indeed be produced under different forms and shapes.
My friend had listened to these enticing words. The health of the body
was too nearly allied to the health of the soul; and could a greater
benefit, a greater mercy, be shown towards others than by appropriating
to one's self a remedy by which so many sufferings could be assuaged, so
many a danger averted? She had already secretly studied Welling's "Opus
Mago-cabalisticum," for which, however, as the author himself
immediately darkens and removes the light he imparts, she was looking
about for a friend, who, in this alternation of glare and gloom, might
bear her company. It needed small incitement to inoculate me also with
this disease. I procured the work, which, like all writings of this
kind, could trace its pedigree in a direct line up to the Neo-Platonic
school. My chief labor in this book was most accurately to notice the
obscure hints by which the author refers from one passage to another,
and thus promises to reveal what he conceals, and to mark down on the
terminology which might well have been compared to that of the later
sentimentalists. Fräulein von Klettenberg guided her way between both
extremes, and seemed, with some self-complacency, to see her own
reflections in the image of Count Zindendorf, whose opinions and actions
bore witness to a higher birth and more distinguished rank. Now she
found in me what she needed, a lively young creature, striving after an
unknown happiness, who, although he could not think himself an
extraordinary sinner, yet found himself in no comfortable condition, and
was perfectly healthy neither in body nor soul. She was delighted with
what nature had given me, as well as with much which I had gained for
myself. And, if she conceded to me many advantages, this was by no means
humiliating to her: for, in the first place, she never thought of
emulating one of the male sex; and, secondly, she believed, that, in
regard to religious culture, she was very much in advance of me. My
disquiet, my impatience, my striving, my seeking, investigating, musing,
and wavering, she interpreted in her own way, and did not conceal from
me her conviction, but assured me in plain terms that all this proceeded
from my having no reconciled God. Now, I had believed from my youth
upwards that I stood on very good terms with my God,--nay, I even
fancied to myself, according to various experiences, that he might even
be in arrears to me; and I was daring enough to think that I had
something to forgive him. This presumption was grounded on my infinite
good will, to which, as it seemed to me, he should have given better
assistance. It may be imagined how often I got into disputes on this
subject with my friend, which, however, always terminated in the
friendliest way, and often, like my conversations with the old rector,
with the remark, "that I was a foolish fellow, for whom many allowances
must be made."

I was much troubled with the tumor in my neck, as the physician and
surgeon wished first to disperse this excrescence, afterwards, as they
said, to draw it to a head, and at last thought it best to open it; so
for a long time I had to suffer more from inconvenience than pain,
although towards the end of the cure the continual touching with lunar
caustic and other corrosive substances could not but give me very
disagreeable prospects for every fresh day. The physician and surgeon
both belonged to the Pious Separatists, although both were of highly
different natural characters. The surgeon, a slender, well-built man, of
easy and skilful hand, was unfortunately somewhat hectic, but endured
his condition with truly Christian patience, and did not suffer his
disease to perplex him in his profession. The physician was an
inexplicable, sly-looking, fair-spoken, and, besides, an abstruse, man,
who had quite won the confidence of the pious circle. Being active and
attentive, he was consoling to the sick; but, more than by all this, he
extended his practice by the gift of showing in the background some
mysterious medicines prepared by himself, of which no one could speak,
since with us the physicians were strictly prohibited from making up
their own prescriptions. With certain powders, which may have been some
kind of digestive, he was not so reserved, but that powerful salt, which
could only be applied in the greatest danger, was only mentioned among
believers; although no one had yet seen it or traced its effects. To
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
style.

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

Another consideration which could not escape me in 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
notion.

I experienced a great influence from an important work that fell into my
hands: it was Arnold's "History of the Church and of Heretics." This man
is not merely a reflective historian, but at the same time pious and
feeling. His sentiments chimed in very well with mine; and what
particularly delighted me in his work was, that I received a more
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.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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