Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child – English Translation – e-text edition

By Bettine von Arnim

 

[Bettine von Arnim is usually anglicized as Bettina von Arnim. Her maiden name was Bettina Brentano]

Originally published in German 1835, English translation (by Bettina von Arnim). 1837

The two volume edition used for this transcription is located in the library of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, England - www.litandphil.org.uk

 

This e-text web edition was prepared by Bruce G Charlton, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK - April 2004.

Transcribed by Karen Leitch, adapted for web publication by David Pearce.

 

 

Editorial Preface

 

 

GOËTHE’S

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

WITH

 

A CHILD

 

________

 

IN TWO VOLUMES

________

 

VOL. I.

 

LONDON

 

LONGMAN, ORME, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS

 

1837

The original of this work was published in German, in aid of Funds for the erection of a Monument to the memory of Goethe, and many thousand copies were sold.

 

The present translation has been printed at Berlin, and sent to England to promote the same object.

 

Pasternoster-Row,

Sept. 1937

 

 

TO THE

 

PRINCE PUCKLER.

 

You once wrote me: “He who sees my park, sees into my heart” – It was last year in the midst of September, that I entered your park, early in the morning; the sun was spreading his beams, it was a great silence in all nature, clear paths led me between fresh green plots, on which the flower bushes seemed still asleep; busy hands soon came cherish them, the leaves shaken down by the morning breeze were gattered and the confused branches unwreathed; I went further on different days, at different houses; in every direction, as far as I came I found the same carefulness and peaceful grace, which was spread all around.  Thus does the loving develop and cherish sense and beauty of the beloved, as you here cherish an inheritance of nature you were trusted with.  I’ll fain believe this to be the mirror of your most profound heart, as it implies so many a beauty, I’ll fain believe that the simple trust in you will be no less cherished and protected, than each single plant of your park.  There I have read to you from the diary and my letters to Goethe, and you liked to listen; now I give them up to you, protect these pages like your plants, and so again leave unminded the prejudice of those, who before they are acquainted with the book, condemn it as not genuine, and thus deceive themselves of truth. 

 

Let us remain well minded to one another, what faults and errors may be imputed to us by others who don’t see us in the same light, we will not give up a confidence in a higher idealism which so far over-reaches all accidental offences and misunderstandings and all assumed and customary virtue.  We will not disown the manifold noble causes, intimations and interests of being understood and beloved; if others do not comprehend it, let it remain a problem to them.

 

August 1834

 

BETTINA ARNIM

 

Had they of thy many errors

Always much to say,

Had indeed to forge their saying

Trouble in ev’ry way;

Would they have the good of thine

Gently lik’d to say,

With a conscious faithful Hint

As’t were better nay –

Them trust me, should be the best

No concealed ray,

Which indeed not many a guest

Grants in cheering day. –

 

(Westeastern divan.  Book of contemplation)

 

It is no gift of chance or of whim, that is brought here to you.  By well reflected reasons and with joyful heart, I bid you to the best, I am able to offer as a token of my thanks for the confidence you trust me with.

 

All are not fit to sound truth, but only its appearance; to trace the secret ways of a profound nature, to solve the problems in it – is denied to them; they only may utter their delusions which produce stubborn prejudices against better conviction, and robs the mind of its authority to acknowledge what is deviating from the common; it was in such confusions that my views of you were also entangled, while moved by your own feelings, you declined every derogating judgement of me, kindly trusting, you would enrich heart and mind by me; how made this blush me.  The simpleness of your views, of your self-contemplating, self-forming nature, your subtle perception of other’s disposition of mind, your prompt organ of speech, in a melodious style symbolically displaying in various way’s inward contemplation and exterior objects, this natural art of your mind!  - all this has cleared my ideas of you, and made me acquainted with that higher spirit in you which ideally parodies so may of your utterances.

 

PREFACE

 

This Book is for the Good and not for the Bad.

 

Whilst I was preparing these papers for the press, I was in different ways advised to omit much or at least give my expressions another turn; to remove all possible chance of their being misunderstood.  But I soon perceived, that we follow good counsel only then, when it is not contrary to the tendency of our own inclinations.  Among many advisers there was but one whose counsel satisfied me; he said; “This book is for the Good and not for the Bad, who alone can misinterpret it; let every thing remain as it is: that gives the book its true value, and to you one can only be thankful, that you have confidence enough to believe, that what the good cannot misunderstand, will also not be misinterpreted”.  This advice inspired me; it was the suggestion of Mr. Klein, agent of the house of Trowitzsch and Son, the same who provided for type and paper, corrected the orthography, set commas and points, and by my little understanding in these matters evinced much patience.  This opinion of his thus expressed confirmed me therein, not to yield to ill boding prophets or the timorous conscience of my other counsellors.  Whatever may be the consequence of this advice, I rejoice in it, because it will undoubtedly be acknowledged as the most noble by the good, who will never allow, that the truth of a happy conscience should turn and fly before the interpretations of the bad. 

 

To the Chancellor Müller in Weimar my thanks are also due, for having troubled himself at my request, in spite of his manifold business, to discover my letters among the vast mass which Goethe had left.  It is now eighteen months since I recovered them, at that time he wrote to me: “Thus returns this untouched treasure of love and constancy to the rich source from whence it sprung! But one thing I would beg of your friendship, as a reward for my exact execution of your wish and will and for my self-restraint – give me any pages of this without doubt life-warm Correspondence; I will religiously preserve it, neither shew it, nor let it be copied, but sometimes in stillness, delight, edify or afflict myself according as the contents may be; I shall always possess it in a doubly dear memorial; as if it were a drop of your heart’s blood, which had flowed as a tribute to the greatest and best of men.”  I have not satisfied this request; for I was too jealous of these pages, in which Goethe had taken so extraordinary an interest; they are almost all corrected by his hand, both the orthography and here and there the construction; much is underlined with red ink, much with pencil, here parenthesis, there erasures.  As I once saw him after a long interval, he opened a drawer in which my letters lay and said “I read every day in them.”  These words raised in me at that time a slight emotion; and when I again read my letters, with these traces of his hand, I felt the same emotion again, and I could not easily have parted from even the most trifling pages.  Therefore I have passed over in silence the request of Chancellor Müller, but have not ungratefully forgotten it; may the use I have made of it, prove to him both my thanks and my justification.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

WITH

 

GOETHE’S MOTHER

­­­­­

DEAREST FRAU RATH*).

 

March 1st 1807

 

I have already waited long for some particular opportunity of entering upon our correspondence.  Since I sailed forth from your Abraham’s bosom, the haven of silent expectation, the stormwind has never ceased to blow and my nay-yea sort of life has, like a slow fever, robbed me of the beautiful season.  How I regret the pleasant prospect which I enjoyed on the foot-stool at your feet! Not the top of St. Catharine’s tower nor the forge of the sooty Cyclops, who guard the “Golden Fountain”**)  no!  I mean the view of your speaking fiery glance, which expresses what the lips cannot utter.  True, I am here in the very emporium of adventure, but the splendid net with which your motherly inspiration has encompassed me makes me indifferent to all.  Next door to me lives the Adjutant of the king, he has red hair and large blue eyes; I know one who considers him irresistible and that one is himself.  The other night he waked me with his flute out of a dream, in which for my life I had fain continued; the next day I thanked him for having so piously played the evening hymn to me; he believed I was in earnest and said I was a devotee;   since that, all the Frenchman call me so and wonder that I am not vexed at it – yet I like the Frenchmen very well.

 

Yesterday I met with an adventure.  Coming from a walk, I found Rothschild before the door with a beautiful grey horse; he said it was like a lamb and whether I would try it?  I did not wait foe entreaty; scarcely had I mounted, when this lamb took the bit between his teeth and set off with me at full gallop up the Wilhelmshöher alley and came back in the same manner.  All came up to me deadly pale; the lamb stopped short and I jumped off; and now they all said how frightened they had been.  I asked, “What then was the matter?” “Why, the nag ran away with you!” “Indeed,” said I.  Rothschild wiped the sweat from the horse with his silk-handkerchief, laid his coat over its back that it might not take cold, and lead it home in his shirt-sleeves; he was afraid he should never have seen it again.  When I went into company in the evening, the French-men no more called me a devotee, but all cried unanimously: “ah l’heroine!”

 

From out my world of dreams I say to you “Fare well!” for something of its power has also been spread over me.  A very handsome – yes I must be blind if I did not see it – well! an elegant, slender, brown Frenchman, observes me from afar with piercing looks, he approaches modestly, he preserves the flowers which fall from my hands, he speaks to me of my loveliness; - Frau Rath, how does this please one?  It is true I am cold and incredulous to him, but nevertheless when any one near me says “le roi vient,” I am a little startled for that is the name of my amiable adorer. I wish you good night; write to me soon again. 

BETTINE.

 

*) The title by which Goethe’s mother was named in all Germany.

**) the name of Goethe’s house.

 

GOETHE’S MOTHER TO BETTINE.

March 14th 1807

 

I have had my pen new pointed, and have filled my dried up inkstand to the very top, and since today is such horrible weather that one would not turn a dog out of doors, thou shalt immediately receive an answer.  Dear Bettine!  I miss thee much in the sad time of winter; how joyfully thou camest springing to me last year! when it snowed in every direction, then I knew it was just the right weather for thee; I had not to wait long, before thou camest.  Even now, from old habit I always peep at the corner of the Catharine gate, but thou comest not; and the very certainty of it grieves me.  I have visiters enough, but they are only such visiting people with whom I can chat about nothing.

 

I also like the French: it’s always quite another sort of life, when the French quartered here, receive their rations of bread and meat from that, when the Prussian or Hessian blocks are in garrison.

 

I did indeed enjoy the sight of Napoleon; he it is who has wrapped the whole world in an enchanted dream, and for this mankind should be grateful, for if they did not dream, they would have got nothing by it, and have slept like clods as they have hitherto done.

 

Amuse thyself and be merry, for he who laughs can commit no deadly sin.

Thy friend

ELIZABETH GOETHE

 

Thou makest no inquiries after Wolfgang – I always said to thee, wait only till another come and thou wilt soon cease to sigh for him.

 

FRAU RATH

March 20th 1807

 

Get away with you reproaches! So much I say in answer to your Postscript and no more.  Now guess what the tailor is making for me.  An Adrian?  No! – A Paduasoy?  No! – A Boddire? No! – A Mantilla? No - A pair of poches? No! – A hoop-petticoat?  No! – A training gown?  No! – A pair of trousers?  Yes! – Hurrah!  (Other times are now coming) and a waistcoat and coat too.  To morrow everything will be tried on; it must set well, for I have ordered all to be made full and easy; and then I throw myself into a chaise and courier-like travel day and night through the entire armies, between friend and foe; all the fortresses unbar at my approach, and thus on to Berlin, where certain business will be transacted, in which I have no concern.  But then back again in all haste, and no halt till Weimar.  O! Frau Rath, how then will all there look? – my heart beats violently, although I must travel till the end of April before I can come there.  Will my heart have courage enough to resign itself to him?

 

I feel as if he stood just before the door! all the veins in my head beat; ah! if I were only with you! that alone could quiet me, to see you also beside yourself with joy; or if one would give me a sleeping potion that I might sleep till I awoke in his presence!  What shall I say to him? Ah! he is not haughty is he? – I will relate to him everything about you and that I know he will like to hear.  Adieu! farewell and wish me in your heart a happy journey.  I am quite giddy.

BETTINE.

 

But I must tell you how all this has come about.  My brother-in-law came to me and said if I could persuade his wife to make a long journey of business with him in male costume, he would take me with him, and on his return, to oblige me, would pass through Weimar.  Only think! Weimar always appeared to me as far away as it if were in another quarter of the world and now it lies before the door!

 

DEAR FRAU RATH

May 5th 1807

 

A box containing a cup will be forwarded to you by the mail; it is the most ardent longing to see you again which induces me to send you so worthless a mark of my respect.  Do me the pleasure to drink your tea out of it every morning and therewith to thank on me.  “A rogue gives more than he has.”  At last I have seen Wolfgang: but alas! What matters it?  My heart is swelled like the full sail of a ship, which anchored on a foreign shore, would still so gladly steer for home.  Adieu my dear good Mother, do not forget me.

 

BETTINE BRENTANO

 

GOETHE’S MOTHER TO BETTINE

May 11th 1807

 

Why do’st thou droop thy wings?  After so delightful a journey, to write so short a letter and tell me nothing of my son but that thou has seen him! And that I know already, for he wrote to me yesterday.  What have I to do with thy anchored bark?  It tells me exactly nothing – write of something which has happened.  Consider I have not seen him for eight years and may never see him again: if thou wilt relate nothing of him to me, who shall?  Haven’t I heard thy silly stories a hundred times which indeed I know by heart? And now when thou hast really seen and heard something new, something more than common – when thou knowest thou couldst give me the greatest pleasure, - thou tellst me – nothing!  Is anything the matter with thee then?  There is no Ocean betwixt thee and Weimar; though now knowest well, one can be there ere the Sun has twice risen.  Art thou sorrowful?  Dear dear child! my son shall be thy friend – thy brother, who surely loves thee; and for the future thou shalt call me mother all the remaining days my old age grants me – it is the only name which can give me joy.

Thy true friend

ELIZABETH GOETHE

Thanks for the cup.

 

TO GOETHE’S MOTHER

May 16th 1807

 

Yesterday I wrote to your son; do you answer for it to him.  I would willingly too write you every thing, but I have now so much to think upon, it is almost impossible to tear myself away.  I am ever with him in mind, how shall I then relate what has been.  Have indulgence and patience: I will come next week to Frankfort and then you can ask me every thing.

Your child             

                                BETTINE

 

I lay some time in bed and now I get up to write to you all about our journey.  I told you already that we passed through the armies in male dresses.  Just before the gate, my brother-in-law made us get out; - he wanted to see how our clothes set.  Lullu looked very well, for she is splendidly formed and the clothes were admirably made: as for me, all was too loose and too long, as if I had bought them at Rag-Fair.  My brother-in-law laughed at me and said I looked like a Savoyard.  The postillion had driven us off the road through a wood, and coming to a cross-way, was quite at a loss: although only the commencement of our four-weeks journey, I was anxious lest we should miss our way and thus come too late to Weimar.  I clambered up the highest fir and soon saw where the mainroad lay.  -  I made the whole journey upon the box: I had a fox-skin cap, the brush hanging down behind.  When we arrived at a stage, I unharnessed the horses and helped to put the fresh ones to.  I spoke broken German with the postillions as if I had been a French-man.  – At first it was beautiful weather, as if spring were commencing, but soon became complete winter.  We passed through a wood of gigantic pines and firs, all the hoary, spotless – not a soul had been before us – it was perfectly white.  Besides, the moon shone on this desolate paradise of silver – a deathlike stillness! Only the wheels creaking from the frost.  I sat on the box, but was not at all cold: winter’s frost strikes sparks out of me! – As midnight approached we heard a whistling in the wood; my brother-in-law reached me a pistol out of the carriage and asked whether I had courage to fire if robbers came?  I said “Yes” “Only” said he, don’t fire too soon.”  Lullu was in great trouble, inside the carriage, but I in the open air with “pistol cocked and sabre girt,” numberless sparkling stars above, and glittering trees around, which threw their giant shadows across the moonlit way – all this made me bold on my exalted seat.  Then I thought on him – whether, if he had met me thus in his young days, it would not have made a poetical impression upon him, so that he would have written sonnets upon me and never have forgotten me?  He may now think otherwise – he will be elevated above a magical impression:  higher qualities – how shall I attain them – will maintain a right over him – if constancy – eternal, fixed on his threshold, do not at last make him mine!  Thus was I disposed in that clear, cold winternight, during which I found no opportunity of firing off my piece – when the day broke I first received permission.  The carriage stopped – I ran into the wood, and enthusiastically fired into the dense wilderness in honour of your son.  In the mean time the axle tree was broken.  We felled a tree with the hatchet which we had with us and bound it fast with ropes: my brother then found, that I was very handy, and praised me.  Thus we proceeded to Magdeburg.  At 7 o’clock precisely, the fortress is shut – we came a minute or two later and were obliged to wait till 7 the next morning!  It was not very cold and the two in the carriage fell asleep.  In the night it began to snow.  I threw my cloke over my head and remained quietly sitting on my exposed seat.  In the morning they peeped out of the chaise and there I was changed into a snow-hermit!  But before they had time to be thoroughly frightened, I threw off my cloke under cover of which I had sat quite warm.  – In Berlin I was as one blind among many men; I was also absent in mind; I could take part in nothing: I longed always for darkness, that undisturbed I might think on the future which now approached so near.  Ah! How often did the alarum beat! – Suddenly! Unawares! In the midst of tranquil stilness – how I know not – a sweet terror seized me.  Oh Mother!  Mother! Think on your son!  If you knew, that in a short time you should behold him – you would be as a Conductor; in which every thunder-cloud strikes.  – As we came within a few miles of Weimar, my brother remarked, he did not wish to go so far out of the way as through Weimar, and would take another road.  I was silent, but Lulla wouldn’t hear of it, she said: “it had been once promised me and he must keep his word.” Ah Mother! The sword hung over my head, suspended by a single hair, but fortune favoured me.

 

We arrived in Weimar at 12 o’clock and sate down to dinner, but I could not eat.  The two laid themselves on the sofa and slept; we had been up three nights.  “I advise you” said my brother, “to take some rest also.  Goethe won’t much care whether you come or not, and besides there is nothing so extraordinary to see in him.”  Can you believe this robbed me of all courage?  Alas!  I didn’t know what to do:  I was quite alone in a strange town.  I had changed my dress and stood at the window looking at the tower-clock! Just then it struck half post two.  I felt as if Goethe would not indeed care to see me – I remembered that people called him proud.  I pressed my heart hard to prevent its longings: - All at once it struck three and it was exactly as if he had called me.  I ran down stairs to the servants, there was no carriage to be had: would I take a sedan-chair?  “No,” said I, “it is an equipage for the Lazar-house.”  I went on foot.  The streets were a perfect chocolate-pool, I was obliged to be carried over the deepest morasses and in this manner I came to – Wieland’s, not to your son’s.  I had never seen Wieland, but I pretended to be an old acquaintance.  He tried every way to recal me to his mind and then said: “Yes, you are certainly a dear and well-known angel, but I cannot remember when and where I have seen you.!  I laughed at him and said: “Now I know that you dream about me, for elsewhere you cannot possibly have seen me.”  He gave me a note to your son – I took it afterwards with me, and have preserved it as a memorial.  I send you a copy: “Bettine Brentano, Sophia’s sister, Maximilian’s daughter, Sophia la Roche’s grand-daughter, wishes dear brother, to see you, says she fears you, and that this little note will be a talisman of courage to her.  Although I am tolerably certain, she makes game of me, yet I must do what she asks and shall wonder much, if you are not compelled to do the same.

 

April 23rd 1807.

W.

 

With this billet I went forth.  The house lies opposite the fountain: how deafening did the water sound to me!  I ascended the simple staircase: in the wall stand statues which command silence: at least I could not be loud in his sacred hall.  All is friendly but solemn.  In the rooms simplicity is at home, ah! How inviting!  “Fear not,” said the modest walls, “he will come and will be – and more he will not wish to be – as though art, - and then the door opened and there he stood solemnly, grave and looked with fixed eyes upon me.  I stretched my hands towards him – I believe, I soon lost all consciousness.  – Goethe caught me quickly to his heart.  “Poor child have I frightened you?”  These were the first words with which his voice penetrated to my heart – he led me into his room and placed me on the sofa opposite to him.  There we were both mute; at last he broke the silence: “You have doubtless read in the papers that we suffered a few days ago a great loss by the death of the Duchess Amalia?”  “Ah!” said I, “I don’t read the papers.” – “Indeed? – I had believed that everything which happens in Weimar would have interested you.”  “No! nothing interests me but you alone, and I am far too impatient to pore over news-papers.” – “You are a kind child.” – A long pause – I, fixed to that tiresome sofa in such anxiety.  You know how impossible it is for me to sit still in such a well-bred manner.  Ah! Mother, is it possible so far to forget one’s self?  I suddenly said: “I can’t stay here upon the sofa” and sprang up.  “Well,” said he, “make yourself at home,” then I flew to his neck – he drew me on his knee and locked me to his heart.  Still! Quite still it was! Everything vanished.  I had not slept for so long: years had passed in sighing after him, - I fell asleep on his breast and when I awoke, I began a new life.  More I shall not write to you this time.

BETTINE

 

September 1807

Frau Rath! As often as I meet with anything comical I think of you, and what fun and what tales there would have been if you yourself had seen or heard it.  Here, in the vine-covered Mildeberg, I sit with my friend Mr. Schwab, who was formerly Secretary to my father and who has fed us children with his stores.  He can tell a story at least as well as you, but he swaggers and makes use of Jews and Pagans, the discovered and undiscovered world in decorating of his adventures; you however stick to the truth, but with such joyful notes of exclaimation that one wonders what is coming.  The squirrel which you gave me, I set free in the great oak-forest and it was high time.  During its five miles ride in the carriage, it perpetrated considerable mischief, and at the inn during the night ate up the Burgomaster’s slippers.  I don’t know how you managed, that it did not throw down all your glasses, gnaw all your furniture and dirty all your caps and turbans.  He bit me, but in remembrance of the pround, handsome French-man, who brought him on his helmet all the way from South France to your house in Frankfort, I forgave him. I set him on the ground in the wood: as I went away, he sprung again upon my shoulder and would not take advantage of his liberty and I would fain have taken him with me again, because he loved me better then the beautiful green oaks.  But as I got into the carriage, the others made such an outcry and so abused our dear parlour-companion, that I was obliged to carry him back to the wood.  I made them wait long enough for it: I sought out the finest oak in the whole wood and clambered up.  At the top I let him out of his bag – he sprang gaily from branch to branch, then busied himself with the acorns, during which I descended.  On arriving at the bottom, I had lost the direction of the carriage and although I heard myself called I could not in the least distinguish from whence the voices came.  I stood still, till they drove up to fetch me.  They both scolded me but I was silent, laid myself at the bottom of the carriage on three bottles of Selterwasser and had a delicious sleep, till by moonlight the carriage was over-turned, but so gently that no one was hurt.  Away flew a nut-brown chamber maid from the box and in romantic disorder lay fainting on the flat bank of the Maine directly in face of the moon; two band-boxes with lace and ribbands flew somewhat further, and swam cleverly enough down the river; I ran after them into the water, which from the great heat was very shallow and all called after me was I mad? – I could not hear them, and I believe I and the boxes should have swum back to Frankfort, if a boat which stood out into the stream, had not brought them to.  I pached them under either arm, and walked back again through the clear waves.  “Thoughtless girl” said my brother Frank and with his soft voice tried to scold: I put off my wet clothes was wrapt up in a soft cloke and packed into the closed carriage. 

 

In Aschaffenburg they put me forcibly into bed and made me some camomile tea.  Not to drink it, I pretended to be fast asleep.  There upon my merits were discussed, how I had too good a heart, was full of kindness and never thought of myself, how, I had swum after the band-boxes which, if I had not ffshed again to laud, it would have been impossible the next morning to have performed toilette, before dining with the royal Primate.  Ah! They didn’t know what I knew, - viz: that in that wilderness of false locks, gilt combs and lace, was hidden a treasure in a red velvet bag, for whose sake I would have thrown both  boxes into the water, with all which did, and did not belong to me, and that but for this I should have rejoiced for the return-voyage of the band boxes.  In this bag lay concealed a bunch of violets, which in a party at Wieland’s in Weimar, your son secretly threw to me as be went by.  My lady mother!  I was then jealous of Wolfgang and believed the violets had been given him by a female hand, but he said “Art thou not content, that I give them thee?” – I took his hand in secret and drew it to my heart; he drank out of his glass and placed it before me that I also might drink; I took it in the left hand and drank; then laughed at him, because I knew he had placed it there, that I might let go his hand, “It” said he “then has such cunning, though wilt know well, how to chain me for life.”  I beg you not to be puffed up, because I have trusted you with my inmost heart; -  I must have someone to whom I can impart.  They, who have handsome faces, wish to see them in the glass; you are the glass of my happiness, which now blooms in its greatest beauty, and must therefore often see itself reflected.  Pray, chatter to your son in your next letter (Which by the by you can write to morrow, without first waiting an opportunity) how in the cold moonlight I swam after the bunch of violets in the band-box for a quarter of an hour (so long it wasn’t though) and that the waves bore me like a water-nymph along (waves there were none, only shallow water which scarcely bore up the light boxes), and that my inflated clothes showed like a balloon.  What are all the frocks of his youthfull loves in comparison with my floating garments.  Do not say that your son is too good for me, when I run myself into such danger for a violet!  I attach myself to the epoch of sensitive romance, and come luckily on Werther, where by the bye I feel much inclined to turn Charlotte out of doors.  Your Son’s taste in that “white gown with pink ribbands” is bad.  I will never during my life wear a white gown, green-green-all my clothes are green!

 

Apropos, take one peep behind your fire-screen, at the pretty painted side which you always turn to the wall for fear the sun should fade it; you will there discover that the squirrel has committed great ravages on the fire-goddess; having white washed her whole face.  I wouldn’t say anything about it, because, against your orders I had fastened the squirrel on the screen and I feared you would be angry: therefore I tell it you by letter, that in my absence you may expend your anger.  To morrow we go to Aschaffenburg when I will write further.  Let Eliza beat my foot-stool to keep out the moths and let no one else sit upon it.  Adieu Frau Rath, I remain your obedient handmaid.

BETTINE

 

TO FRAU RATH GOETHE

 

Frau Rath, you have a most villainous hand, a thorough cat’s paw, I do not mean the hand, which in the Theatre applauds Werdi the Actor, when like a Miller’s ass, he tramps about the stage and essays to play tragical Tragedy!  But the written hand which is abominable and illegible.  You can to be sure write as unreadably as you will, that I am a “silly thing”, I can still read it, even in the ffrst “s” – for what else can it mean?  You have told me so, often enough: but when you write to your son about me, busy yourself a little I beg, to make yourself legible.   The “Mild-berger Grapes” I did at last decipher, though written in Chaldaic and Hebrew characters: I will send you a whole box full, which indeed I had done, notwithstanding.  Moreover Mr. Schlosser has written nothing particular in your letter.  Again, I can’t bear that you should spend your time with him and I not there; and I command you not to let him sit upon my ottoman, for he is one who “imagines he can play the lute” and believes he can assume my seat: and you too, if you see him so often will imagine he is better than I: you did believe so once, nay! That he was a complete Apollo of beauty, till I opened your eyes: moreover Mrs. Schlosser said, that as a new born child, he was laid out on a green billiard-table and that he contrasted so well and looked like a bright Angel!  Is contrast then so great a beauty?  Adieu, I am sitting to write in a manger, out of which the cow is eating her clover: but don’t write this to your son, it might appear a little too crazy: for I myself, when I think of finding my lover sitting and inditing tender letters to me, in a cow-stall, hardly know how I should behave myself.  But I am sitting here above, in pure despair, because I want to conceal myself, and be alone that I may think upon him.  Adieu Frau Rath. We dined yesterday at the Primate’s, it was a holiday; we had curious dishes representing meat but which after all were none.  When we were introduced to him, he chucked me under the chin and called me “little angel” and “lovely child”.  I asked him, how old he thought I might be – “Well, twelve certainly”, “thirteen” said I.  “Indeed!” said he, “that is somewhat old, you must soon commence your reign.

                BETTINE

(The answer is wanting)

 

Winckel

 

Dear Frau Rath!  All that I have written down I will read to you: you may convince yourself, that I have added nothing and written only that which my eyes have drunk in from your lips, only I cannot conceive, how it sounds so well from your lips and flows again so stupidly from my pen.  That I am not very wise, I give many proofs: wherefore I can very well allow you to say to the people, that you wish they were all as foolish as I: - but never say now that I am clever, or you compromise yourself, and the Landlord at Cassel on the great Rhine bridge can afford a proof to the contrary.  It was so wearisome, waiting till our entire luggage was examined, that I took the fly-flapper and pursued some guats, till they settled on the window-panes: I struck at them – the pane flew out, and with it the guats to “olden liberty” into the broad, proud Rhine below; the landlord said, it was stupid and I was much ashamed.

 

Ah! Frau Mother, what a curious sort of life is it here in Langewinkel, Nature should here show lovely and it is so without doubt, only I have not the art to see it.  Before my eyes can wander to the Johannisberg, they are arrested by certain dirty alleys and a long field of caterpillared plum and pear-trees.  Out of every dormer-window hang pearl-strings of snips and slices: the tanner opposite pervades with his vapours every perfume of the air, and all the five senses are necessary, to perceive anything in its beauty; and indeed if the whole scene were ever so charming and the scent brought no proof with it, the process would nevertheless be lost.

 

The organ in the Church too, sounds quite out of tune here – one must travel from Frankfort to Winckel, if one will hear such harsh discords performed to the honour of God.

Good bye

BETTINE

 

Our coachman will bring you a box of peaches, but don’t spoil your stomach, for it is not of “nature godlike” and is easily seduced.

 

We went last Thursday with the two Schlossers to Lorch.  It was resolved to go by water.  Christian Schlosser thought he could not bear the water and went on foot.  I went with him to keep him company, but repented it.  For the first time I spoke of Wolfgang with another besides you, and that was a sin.  I can bear to hear every-thing of him, but no praise, no love.  You love your son, for you bore him – that is no sin and I have nothing to object to it – but no more; only others shall make no further pretensions to him.  You ask me if I have engrossed him for myself?  Yes! Frau Rath, to that I can answer!  I believe, that there is a way and manner of possessing another, which none can dispute, and this way I take with Wolfgang; none before me have understood it, that I know, spite of all his amours which you relate to me.  Before his face I am indeed very humble but behind his back I hold him fast and he must struggle hard to get loose.

 

Frau Rath!  I know Princess and Princesses only in the magic world of fairy-tales, and by your descriptions, which are much the same, only that in the former, the most beautiful Princesses are turned into cats and generally, set free and married, by some tailor.  – Consider of this, when you next invent a tale and afford this circumstance a moral explanation.

                BETTINE

(The Answer is wanting)

 

It is true, I have received a letter from Wolfgang her in Rheingau; he writes: “Keep my mother warm, and hold me dear.”  These sweet lines have sunk into me like the first Spring-rain; I am very happy that he desires me to love him; I know well that he embraces the whole world; I know that all men wish to see and speak with him, that all Germany says “Our Goethe”.  But I can tell you, that up to this day the general inspiration of his greatness and his name has not yet arisen within me.  My love to him is confined to that little white-walled room, where I first saw him, where the vine, trained by his own hand creeps up the window, where he sits on the straw-hassock and holds me in his arms – there he lets in no stranger, and knows of nothing, but me alone.  Frau Rath! You are his mother and to you I will tell it: when I saw him for the first time and returned home, I found that a hair from his head, had fallen upon my shoulder.  I burnt it at the candle and my heart was so touched, that it also flamed, but merrily, and joyfully as flames in the blue sunlit air, of which one is scarcely aware and which consume their sacrifice without smoke.  So will it be with me; I shall flutter joyfully my life long in the air and no one will know whence the joy comes; it is only, because I know, that when I come to him, he will be alone with me and forget his laurels.

 

Farewell and write to him of me.

                BETTINE

 

GOETHE’S MOTHER TO BETTINE.

Frankfort, May 12th 1806

 

Dear Bettine.  Thy letters give me joy, and Miss Betty who recognizes them on the address, says: “Frau Rath, the postman brings you a pleasure.”  Don’t however be too mad about my son, everything must be done in order.  The brown room is new-papered with the pattern which you chose; the colour blends peculiarly well with the morning-twilight which breaks over the Catharine-tower and enters into my room.  Yesterday our town looked quite holiday-like, in the spotless light of the Alba.

 

Except this, everything remains at it was.  Be in no trouble about thy foot-stool, for Betty suffers no one to sit upon it.

 

Write much, even if it were every day.

 

Thy affectionate friend

ELIZABETH GOETHE

 

FRAU RATH!

Schlangenbad

 

We rode yesterday upon millers’ donkies far into the country, away over Rauenthal. The way leads through rocky paths covered with woods; to the left you look into the deep ravine, and to the right on the woody, rising wall of rock.   “Then and there” the strawberries so seduced me, that I almost came from my post; for my donkey was the leader.  By continually halting to pluck the strawberries, the whole party pressed upon me from the rear and I was obliged to leave thousands of crimson berries unplucked upon the path.  A week has now passed, but I still languish after then; those which are eaten are forgotten, the unplucked still burn in my recollection.  Thus I should for ever burn, if I neglected that which I have a right to enjoy and herein you need not fear that I should overturn “order!”.  I do not hang upon my beloved like lead, I am like the moon which shines into his parlour: when well-dressed people throng it, and many lamps are lighted, it is little noticed; but when they are gone and the noise is past, then, the soul has so much the stronger desire to drink in its light.  Thus will he also turn to me, and think of me, when he is alone.  -  I feel angry with all who have to do with him, yet I fear none; but with this you have no concern.  Shall I fear the mother, if I love the son?

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

Frankfort, May 25th

 

Hey! Child, though art bewitched! What fancies hast though taken into thy head?  Why! Who is thy “beloved” who is to think of thee by night, and in moonshine too?  Dost thou think he has nothing better to do?  -  Ha! Your humble servant.

 

I tell thee again; every thing in order, and write connected letters in which there is something to read.  Stuff! To write to Weimar indeed! Write of all that happens, orderly one thing after another.  First who is there, how you like them and how they are dressed: whether the sun shines of whether it rains; for that is also to the purpose.

 

My son has begged me again, to tell thee to write to him.  But pray in an orderly fashion or thou wilt run the whole affair. 

 

I was at a Concert on Friday, where the Violoncello was played and I thought of thee, for its tones sounded exactly like thy hazel eyes.  Adieu child! thou art in every way missed by thy.

FRAU RATH

 

FRAU RATH!

 

I will with pleasure do you the kindness and for once write a long, legible letter of my entire manner of life at Winckel.

 

In the first place we are a houseful of women, not a single man, no not so much as a serving man amongst us.  All the shutters in the house are closed, that the Sun may not treat us like unripe vines, or quite roast us.  The storey in which we live consists of one great saloon in which are a number of little closets, looking out on the Rhine, each one of which, is inhabited by a couple of our party.  Dear Maria, with the auburn hair is our house-keeper and sees to “the baked and the boiled.”  In the morning we come out of our little rooms and meet all together in the saloon.   It is a peculiar pleasure to see one after the other making her appearance in Grecian drapery.  The day passes in humorous gossip, interspersed with song and guitar arpeggios.  In the evening we saunter along the banks of the Rhine, and ten encamp in the timberyard.  I read Homer aloud: the peasants draw around and listen, the moon rises between the hills and gives light, instead of the sun.  In the distance lies the dark ship, where a fire burns, and on whose deck the watch dog bays from time to time.  When we close the book, a regular political discussion takes place: the Gods themselves pass for neither more non less than other statesmen, and opinions are so hotly defended, that one might believe all had taken place yesterday, and that much might still be altered.  I have one advantage, viz: if I had not read Homer to the peasants, I should not to this day have known the contents, their questions and remarks have brought me to it.  -  When we return home, we go, (when tired) one after the other to bed.  I then set myself to the Piano, and melodies come upon me, to which I sing before Heaven, the songs I love best.  “How good, how friendly Nature is.”  In bed, I send  y thoughts there, where I best love, and thus I fall asleep.  Will life continue always thus? Surely not?

 

On Saturday my brothers were here and stayed till Monday, during which time, we passed the nights on the Rhine.  George with his flute, to which we sung; thus we passed from village to village, till the breaking day drove us home.  -  Lady Mother! To glide upon the splendid mirror of the Rhine by moonlight, and sing forth the boundings of the heart, to encounter in friendly company all sorts of merry adventures, to rise without care, and to lay down without harm, this is a life in the midst of which I stand.  Why do I suffer myself to be pleased with it? Do I not know better? And is not the World great? And are there not various things in it, - tarrying only for the spirit of man to become alive in him? And shall all this leave me untouched?  Oh God! The prosaic world is a hard nut, not easy to crack, and many a kernel dries up beneath the thick shell.  Yes, man has a conscience: it exhorts him to fear nothing, and neglect nothing which the heart asks of him. Passion is the only key to the world, by which the spirit learns to know and feel every thing, or how else should it enter into the world? And thus I feel, that only through my love to him, I am born in the spirit, and through him the world unlocks itself to me, where the sun shines to me and the day divides from night.  What I do not learn through this love, I shall never understand.  Would that I sat a beggar-child before his door, and took a piece of bread from his hand, and that he knew by my glance, of what spirit I am the child: then, would he draw me nigh to him and cover me with his cloak, that I might be warm.  I know he would never bid me go again; I should for ever wander in the house, and thus years would pass and no one should know who I was, and no one should know whence I came: and thus years would pass, and life, and in his features the whole world should be reflected to me, and I should not need to learn anything morel.  Why then do I not do so?  It depends only upon whether I can take heart, and so come into the haven of my happiness.

 

Do you still remember how in winter-time I came springing through snow and rain and you asked, “how doest thou run over the street?” and I said, “If I should care more for the old town of Frankfort, than for a poultry-yard, I should not come far in the world,” and you answered that you believed no water was too deep, and no mountain too steep for me; and even then I thought to myself: If Weimar were the deepest water and the steepest mountain.  I can now better tell you that my heart is heavy and will remain so, as long as I am not with him; and that you may find “in order” or not as you please.  Adieu!  I shall soon come to you, full tilt.

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE’S MOTHER

Winckel, June 12th

 

A letter from you always makes a great bustle among the people here; they would fain know what we have to say to one another, because I seem to them such a silly girl.  You may depend upon it never shall be wise.  How shall I attain to wisdom? My lonely life does not lead to it.  What have I seen and heard this year?  In winter I was sick: then I made a magic-lantern of pasteboard, where the cat and the knight had the principal parts; I studied the pat of the cat for nearly six weeks, but she was no philosopher, or I might have profited something.  In spring the orange-tree blossomed in my chamber: I had a table and a seat made around it, and there in its sweet-scented shade, I wrote to my friend: that was a joy for which no wisdom could have recompensed me.  In the mirror opposite I saw the tree reflected and the sunbeams streaming through its foliage; there I saw her, the presumptuous brunette, sitting to write to the greatest Poet – to the exalted above all men.  In April I went out early upon the rampart and sought the first violet and botanized: in May I learned to drive a pair of horses: in the morning I drove by sun-rise to Oberrad, walked in the potatoe-fields and helped the gardener to plant “by line and level”: with the milk-woman I laid out a carnation-bed – the deep-red carnations are my favourite flowers.  In such a way of life, what can I learn, or how become wise? What I write to your son pleases him; he always desires more and that makes me blessed; for I revel in an abundance of thoughts which refreshingly express to him, my love, my happiness.  What then are talent and wisdom, since I the most blest, do not want them?

 

It was last year in the beginning of May that I saw him for the first time.  He broke off a young leaf from the vine, which grew around his window, and laid it on my cheek, saying: “this leaf and thy cheek are both downy”; I sat upon the stool at his feet and leaned upon him, while the time passed in silence.  – Now what of wisdom could we have spoken to one another, which would not have detracted from this unrevealed bliss? What words of genius could have repaid that quiet peace which bloomed within us?  Oh! How often have I thought on that leaf, and how he stroked my forehead and face, and how he passed his fingers through my hair and said: “I am not wise, I am easily deceived, and thou wilt gain no great honour, if thou imposest on me with “Thy love”.  Then I feel upon his neck.  -  All this was not “Genius” and yet I have lived it over a thousand times in thought, and shall my life long drink from that fountain even as the eye drinks in, the light; - it was not “Genius” and yet to me it outshone all the wisdom of the world.  What could recompence me for his kind trifling with me? – what supply the fine penetrating ray of his glance, which streams into my eye?  I care nothing for wisdom:  I have learned happiness under another form; that too which gives others pain, hurts not me, and my pain no one can understand.

 

How bright is this night!  The hills with their vines clothed in splendour lie there, and sleepily suck in the nourishing moonlight.  – Write soon:

 

I have no one in whom I so willingly confide, because I know you are not united to, nor reserve yourself for, any one more than me, and that you never talk about me to another.  – If you only knew how far in the night it is!  The moon is setting: that grieves me.  Write to me very soon.

BETTINE

 

FRAU RATH

Winckel, June 25th

 

I went with Frank to an iron-foundry and must remain two days in the narrow ravine, where it rained or rather wetted continually.  “To this” said the people, “we are used, we live like fish, always wet; and if by chance we have a few dry days, our skins itch so, that we wish to be wet again”.  I must reflect, how I may describe this singular earth-hole, where, from beneath dark and mighty oaks breaks forth a fiery glow, where, solitary huts hang from the faces of the hills, over which gleam the single lights at dusk, and where the long evening, by a distant pipe which always plays the same tunes, proclaims, that here, Loneliness is at home, uninterrupted by any society.  Why should the sound of a solitary flute blowing away by itself, be so tediously melancholy, tat the heart is ready to burst with vexation, so that one knows not which way to turn? Ah! How fain would one then strip off these earthly garments and fly aloft far into the air – yes! Like a swallow in the sky, which cuts the aether with her wings as with a sharp bow, soaring above the slavish chains of thought, far into boundless space, which thought cannot reach.  –

 

We were put into monstrously large beds, I and brother Frank: I joked and chattered a good deal with him for he is my dearest brother.  In the morning he said to me very mysteriously: “Just look! The Master of the mines has a gallows in his ear”.  I could not guess what he meant; but as soon as I had an opportunity of looking into the ear, I saw the joke.  A spider had spun its web there, a fly was made prisoner and half eaten, while the remains hung in the still unbroken web.  Herein Frank clearly recognized an emblem of the petrified tedious life here; but I had already recognized it in the inkstand, which was quite furred and containing but little fluid.  This however is only the half of this hole of loneliness.  One would not think it, but by going slowly round, one comes to a defile.  In the morning, just as the sun had risen, I observed it, and going through it, found myself suddenly on the steep, loftiest verge of a yet deeper and wider cauldron, whose velvet bottom snugs softly to the hill-sides which surround it, and which are thickly sowed with sheep and lambs: in the middle stands the shepherd’s cot and near to this the mill, turned by a stream which foams through the middle.  The buildings are hidden behind primeval, cloud-greeting lindens, just now in blossom, whose fragrance ascended up to me, and between whose thick foliage the smoke from the chimneys found its way.  The Clear blue sky, the golden sunshine, filled the whole vale.  Oh God! If I sat here, tending the sheep and knew that at evening, one who thinks on me, would come; if I waited all day and the sunlight hours rolled by, and the hour of shade with the silver-crescent moon and the stars, should bring the friend, he would find me on the mountain-verge, running to his open arms, so that he should suddenly feel me warm with love at his heart! – what else would then be worth living for!  Greet your son from me, and tell him that my life is certainly a peaceful one, and enlightened by the sunshine, but that I care not for this golden time, because I am always longing for the future, when I expect the friend.  Farewell! With you, midnight is the spirit’s hour, in which you deem it a sin to have the eyes open, lest you should see them: but I have just been walking alone in the garden, through the long vine-walks, where grape upon grape, glitter in the moon-shine, and I leaned over the wall, and looked down upon the Rhine: there all was still.  But white foam-ripples whispered, and there was a continual dabbling on the shore, and the waves lisped like infants.  When one stands thus alone, at night, amidst unfettered Nature, it seems as though she were a Spirit praying to man for release! And should Man set Nature free?  I must at some time reflect upon this: but I have already very often had this sensation, as if wailing Nature plaintively begged something of me; and it cut me to the heart, not to be able to understand what she would have.  I must soon consider seriously of this: perhaps I may discover something which shall raise us above this earthly life.  Adieu Frau Rath, and if you don’t understand me, think only what an impression even in your present days, the distant sound of the postman’s horn makes upon you: - about the same do I feel to day.

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

Frankfort, July 28th

 

Yesterday a fire took place at the chief guardhouse directly opposite to me.  It burned like a posy from the lattice which looks on the Catharine gate.  My greatest pleasure was to see the boys with their skeps on back, who wanted to help to save everything; but the possessor of the house wouldn’t let anything be saved, for the fire was soon out, and then they wanted a douceur which he wouldn’t give, and so they danced till they were chaced away by the police. – I have had much company, who came to know, how I found myself after the fright; and I was continually obliged to begin the tale anew.  The people have visited me for three days together, to see if I am not become black with the smoke.  Thy friend Meline was also here and brought me a letter from thee: it was written so small that I was obliged to have it read to me – guess by whom?

 

Meline is really pretty: I said, the town ought to have her portrait taken, and hang it up in the town-hall, and then the Emperors could see what beauties their good town possesses.  Thy brothers are also so handsome.  I never in my life saw so handsome a  mean as George, who looks like the Duke of Mailand; and all others must be ashamed to stand near him with their chit-faces.  Adieu and greet thy sisters from they friend.

ELIZABETH GOETHE

 

TO BETTINE

 

There comes Fritz Schlosser from Rheingau and brings me nothing but three mended pens from thee, and says, he has sword to let me have no quiet, till I tell thee who it was that read thy letter to me.  – Where is the great necessity? Who should it be? In Weimar all is still and just as it was.  The journals relate beforehand, long before it is the truth, whenever my Son prepares for a journey – he can’t come unawares upon me.   One can see clearly that thy heart deceives thy head.  “Heart! What dost though want”?

-                      This is a proverb and when it has said what it will have, it enters as it were into a mean Inn, where there is everything to have except – fresh eggs, just the very thing you want.  Adieu.  I have written this by my chamber-lamp.

Thy affectionate

ELIZABETH GOETHE

 

I had almost forgotten to write who it was that read thy letter to me: - it was Parson Hufnagel who also came, to see how I did after my fright from the fire.  I said: “Pray Mr. Parson, is the Catharine-tower just so high, that it should fall upon my nose when it comes down?” There he sat with his full stomach, in sable gown and round white double bands, bob-wig and buckled shoe, upon thy foot-stool and read the letter; had my son seen it, he would have laughed.

CATHARINE GOETHE

 

My dear mother, I thank you for the two letters one after the other: they were ploughed through a heavy soil, one sees the clods lying on the side; surely it was Lieschen’s fingers which drew those furrows – they are quite awry.  What I wonder at is, that I am so fond of writing to you as never to miss an opportunity; and all that happens to me I consider whether it would not amuse you to hear of it; this is because I cannot write every thing and continually to Wolfgang; I said to him at Weimar, that if I lived there, I would come to see him only sun-days and holy-days and not every day.  This pleased  him; and so I think I ought not to write to him every day, although he has said to me, “write to me every day, even if it were foliantos, it will not be too much for me.”  I also am not every day in the humour to write.  I often think so quickly, that I cannot possibly write; and then the thoughts are so sweet, that I cannot release them and prevail upon myself to break off writing: besides, I like to make straight lines and pretty letters, and that refrains musing; also I have much to say to him, which it is difficult to express, and much to impact what never can be expressed.  There I often sit for hours, and look into myself, and cannot say what I see; but because in thought I feel myself with him, I like to remain thinking; it seems to me as if I were like a sun-dial which can only point the hour, as long as the sun shines upon it: when my sun smiles upon me no more, one will not mark the time o my any longer; should one say I live, when he does not love me any longer.  – The life which I now lead, no one has an idea of it.  By the hand leads me the spirit through lonely ways, he sites down with me on the river’s brink, there he reposes with me, then he leads me to the high mountain: there it is night, there we look down into the misty dale, then one can scarcely see the path before one’s feet – I go with him, I feel that he is there even when he vanishes from my earthly eye, and where I go and stand, I trace his secret wandering around me: and in the night he is the blanket in which I wrap myself and by morning it is he, before whom I veil myself when I dress.  Never more am I alone!  -  In my solitary room I feel myself known and understood.  I cannot join in laughing, I cannot take part in plays, I let art and knowledge go their way.  Half a year ago I began to study history and geography – it was folly.  If the time in which we live, were quite filled with history, so that one had both hands full, only to comply with its demands, there were be no time to ask after mouldering Kings, - even so is it with me: I have no time, I must employ each moment in love.  With respect to geography, I have drawn a line with red ink upon the map from where I now am, to where I should like to go, this is the right way and all others are wrong or lead astray.  The whole firmament with sun, moon and stars, belongs only to the view of my home.  There is the fruitful soil in which my heart, bursts the hard rind and blossoms into light.

 

They say to me: Why art thou mournful? Should I be merry? – what should I be that it could comply with my inward life?  Every behavior has its cause; the stream would not flow dancing and singing along if its bed were not formed thereto.  So shall I not laugh, unless an inward joyousness moves me to it: yes, I have joy within my heart, but this joy is so high, so mighty, that it cannot agree with laughing.  When it calls me before day-break from my bed, between the sleeping plants I wander up the mountain; when the dew washes my feet and I humbly consider, that it is the Lord of the worlds who washes my fee, because he would have my heart pure, even as he purifies my feet from the dust; when then come to the top of the mountain and over look at the lands in the first beam of the sun, - then I feel this mighty desire expanding within my breast, then, I heave a sigh and breathe to the sun my thanks, that he paints to me the riches, the ornament of my life, for all that I see and understand, is but the echo of my happiness. –

 

Adieu, will you let the parson read this letter too?  I have written it with tolerably large letters.  Did you find by my last letter, that I was as thirsty as he, or lunatic, or my thing of that sort? How could you then let him read it? Why! You’ll turn his pulpit out of his head! Bettine has had head-ache for three days and to day she lies in bed and kisses the hand of her dear Frau Rath.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Don’t get ill girl!  “Rise! Take up thy bed and walk”.  So said the Lord Jesus to the sick, and so say I to thee.  Thy bed is thy love in which thou liest sick, take it up, do not spread it before Evening, and then rest in it when thou hast endured the burden and heat of the day.  Here are a few lines, written by my son: I make thee a present of them, for according to the contents they belong to thee.

 

The parson rumbling out thy letter to me, like a bad post-chaise on a stony road, which jumbles all the passengers’ luggage together: besides thou has packed thy thoughts so badly, without comma or stop, that if it really were luggage, no one could find out his own, - I have a cold and am out of humour: wert thou not so dear to me I had not written.  Take care of thy health.

 

I always say, when people ask about thee, that “thou takest fancies” and this thou dost very easily.  Now, it is some night-bird, fluttering past thy nose; then, at midnight, when all honest folk are asleep, thou hast something to think upon, and marchest through the garden on the Rhine, in the cold, damp night-air: - thou hast a constitution like iron and an imagination, like a shy-rocket, which touched by a spark, goes off.  Take care, to get home as soon as possible, I am not, now-a-days as I once was; I am often anxious about thee, and on Wolfgang I must think for hours together; how, when he was a little child, he played before my feet and then, how prettily he played with his brother Jacob and made stores for him.  I must have some one, to whom to tell all this; and there is none who listens to me like thee, - I could well wish, that the time were past, and that thou wert here again. –

 

Adieu! manage to come.  All is as clear before me, as if it had happened yesterday; I can now tell you the nicest stores about Wolfgang and I believe though hast infected me, for I think that, no good day, on which I have no spoken of him.

 

Thy friend

ELIZABETH GOETHE

 

DEAR FRAU RATH

 

I was at Köln, where I bought this pretty vase.  Give it to your son as from yourself, and that will please you more, than if I presented it to you.  For myself, I would not give him anything, I would only receive from him. Köln is a strange place, on hears every minute different bells tolling, which sound high and low, dull and clear, from every side at once.  There, Franciscans, Minorites, Capuchins, Dominicans and Benedictines pass one another, some singing, others grumbling a Litany, saluting one another with their flags and holy relics and then vanishing into their cloisters.  At sun-set I was in the Cathedral, where the sun painted the coloured windows upon the floor; I clambered every where about the building and balanced myself within the fretted arches.

 

To you Frau Rath it would have looked dangerous, if you had seen me from the Rhine sitting in those gothic roses, and it was no joke either.  Sometimes giddiness was about to lay hold on me, but I thought “shall it dare to be stronger than I?” and then I purposely ventured still further.  As twilight came, I saw at Deutz, a Church with painted windows lighted from within.  The sound of the tolling bells rolled over, and the moon with single stars came forth.  There I was alone: around me, the swallows twittering in their nests (of which there are thousands in the cornices, and on the water I saw some solitary sails swelling in the wind.  Meanwhile the others had examined  the whole building and had been shewn all monuments and relics.  In the same time I enjoyed a still moment in which my soul was lost in contemplation of nature, which melted all that human hand had made – and me too – in the solemn harmony of a heaven, glowing in the evenings purple; - understand this or understand it not, it is the same to me.  I must indeed tire you with my oversight fancies, for to whom else can I impart them?

 

There is another thing at Cologne; the beds, which are so high, that one must take a run before he can jump in: one can make two or three assaults before one succeeds, and once there, how may one get out again? But I thought, it is good to be here, for I was tired and had pleased myself the whole day with thinking what my dreams would bring me; and a boat borne on a golden stream, laden and adorned with flowers, came to me out of Paradise, bearing an apple which my beloved one had sent me, and which I eagerly consumed.

 

On Sunday we visited many lumber-rooms, antiquities and depositaries of art, and I saw all with great interest.  There is a beautiful bowl, out of which the Elector used to carouse, with four handles on which sit nymphs, who bathe their feet in wine, with golden crowns upon their heads set with precious stones; a dragon with four heads, forming the four feet upon which the whole stands, winds round the bottom; the heads have open throats which are gilt within, on the cover is a Bacchus, carried by two Satyrs; he is of gold, the satyrs of silver – the nymphs too have enamelled garments.  The drinking goblet is of ruby-glass, and the fret-work which winds between the figures is very beautiful being of silver and gold braided together.  There are many of these sort of things; I would only describe this because it was so splendid, and I know you are pleased with splendour.

 

Adieu Frau Rath! We came here by water and shall return to Bonn by land.

BETTINE.

 

FRAU RATH

Winckel.

 

I will not lie, if you were not the mother you are, I would not learn letter-writing of you.  He has said that I shall supply his place with you and show you all that love which he cannot; and must be to you as if you had shown to me all that love which he can never forget.  When I was with him I was so silly as to ask if he loved you? Then he took me in his arms and held me on his heart and said: “Touch a string, and it will vibrate even if it should long have yielded no tone.”  Then we were still and spoke no further of this, but now I have seven letters from him, and in all he reminds me of you.  In one he writes: “Thou art ever with my mother, it makes me glad; it is as if a sharp breeze had blown on me from yonder, and now I feel myself warm and secure, when I think of thee and my mother.”  In reply I told him that I had cut the table-cloth with a pair of scissors, and that you had given me a clap upon my hand and said: “Exactly like my son! – all sorts of mischief hast thou learned of him.”

 

Of Bonn I can relate nothing.  There it was again so that one perceives all without reflecting on it; if I remember right, we were in the botanical Garden, just as the sun set: all the plants were sleepy: the seven mountains were breathed on by the evening-purple.  It was cool: - wrapped in my cloak, I sate down upon the wall, and my face was gilded by the last sun-beam.  Think, I would not, or it had made me mournful in the midst of mighty silent Nature.  Then I feel asleep, and when I awoke (a great beetle had waked me) it was night and very cold.  The next day we returned there.

 

Adieu Frau Rath.  It is very late and I can not sleep at all.

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

September 21st

I cannot suffer thee to write me the nights through, and not to sleep.  This makes thee melancholy and sentimental; would I have answered, till my letter came the wind has shifted.  My son has said: “What vexes one that one must labour off,” and when he had a grief he made a poem of it.  I have already advised thee, to write down the story of Günderode, and do sent it to Weimar; my son would like to have it, - he will preserve it then it will trouble thee no more.

 

Man is buried in consecrated earth: - even thus should we bury great and rare occurrences in a beautiful tomb of remembrance, to which each one may approach and celebrate the memory thereof.  This Wolfgang said, when he had written Werther; write then the story for love of him.

 

I will with pleasure write as much as lies in the power of my poor pen, for I owe thee many thanks: a woman of my age, and a young and sprightly girl, who would be always with me, and asks for nothing else! Yes! That is indeed worthy of thanks; I have written this to Weimar.  When I write to him about thee, he answers me directly.  He says, it is a comfort to him, that thou perseverest with me. – Adieu, don’t stay long at the Rheingau; the black rocks from which the sun rebounds, and the old walls, make thee melancholy.

Thy friend

E. GOETHE

 

Maurice Bethmann has told me, that Mad. de Staël will pay me a visit: she has been in Weimar; I wish thou wert here, for I must polish up my French.

 

TO GOETHE’S MOTHER

 

You have not dealt well with me this time, Frau Rath: why did you not send me Goethe’s letter?  Since the 13th August I have had nothing from him, and it is now the end of September. Mad. de Staël has perhaps made the time appear short to him, and he has not thought on me.  A renowned woman is a curious thing, no other can be compared with her; she is like spirit with which the grain it is made from also cannot be compared.  Spirit bites the tongue and mounts to the head – so does a celebrated woman too: but I better like the pure wheat, which the sower sows in the loosened soil: the kind sun and the fruitful showers woo it forth again, and then it greens the whole field, bears golden ears and at last gives a merry harvest-home.  I would rather be a simple grain of wheat than a celebrated woman, and rather, he should break me for his daily bread, than post like a dram through his head.  Now I will just tell you, that I supped with de Stael yesterday at Mainz. No lady would undertake to sit next her, so I sat myself beside her and uncomfortable enough it was.  The Gentlemen stoad round the table and planted themselves all behind us, pressing one upon the other, only to speak with or look at her: they leaned quite over me and I said in French” Your adorers quite suffocate me” at which she laughed.  -  She said that Goethe had spoken to her of me, and I remained sitting for I would fain have heard, what he said: and yet I was vexed, for I would rather he should speak to no one of me; nor do I believe he did, - she only said so.  There came at last so many who all wanted to speak with her across and over me, that I could endure it no longer and said “Your laurels press too heavily upon my shoulders.” upon which I got up and made my may through her admirers.  Then Sismondi her companion, came and kissed my hand, and said I had much talent: this he told over to the rest, and they repeated it at least twenty times, as if I had been a Prince, from whom everything sounds clever, be it never so common place.  -  I afterwards listened to her, while she was speaking of Goethe: she said that she had expected to see a second Werther, but was mistaken for neither his manners nor person answered the character, and she lamented much, that there was nothing of Werther about him.  Frau Rath! I was angry at such talk, (you will say it was needless) and turned to Schlegel and said to him in German “Madame de Stael has fallen into a twofold error first in her expectation and then in her opinion. – We Germans, expect that Goethe can shake out of his sleeve, twenty such heroes, equally imposing for the French, but think that he himself is quite another sort of hero”.  Schlegel was wrong, not to bring her to a better understanding on the subject.  She threw the laurel-leaf with which she had been playing, upon the floor; I trod upon it, then kicked it away and left her.  This is the history of the “celebrated woman.”  Be under no uneasiness about your French; converse with her in the finger-language, and make commentaries with your large eyes – that will astonish her.  Mad. de Staël has a whole ant-hill of thoughts in her head, and what can one have to say to her?  I shall soon come to Frankfort, and there we can talk about it more at large.

 

It is here very full of Rhine-visiters.  When I see in the morning a boat coming out of the thick mist, I run to the shore and beckon with my handkerchief, for they are always either friends or acquaintances.  A few days ago we were in Nothgottes date: there was a great pilgrimage, the whole Rhine was covered with boats and on landing, each disembarked a procession and they wandered about together, each party singing their own song – such a confusion!  I was afraid it would be too much for God, and so it proved, for He opposed a storm and thundered tolerably loud: but they would have drowned the thunder, had not a smart shower set the dear pilgrims, who lay carousing in the grass by thousands, scampering.  I will not say, I have a very sensitive respect for nature, but I cannot bear to see her so soiled with paper, uneaten bits and broken plates and bottles, as was the case here upon the fine green plain, where a cross is erected between the Linden-trees and where the way-farer overtaken by night, gladly reposes, believing himself protected by the consecrated spot:  I can tell you I was quite uncomfortable and am to-day still in low spirits.  I love better to see the lambs feeding in the church-yard, than the people in the church; better the lilies in the field, which though they spin not are nourished by the dew, than long processions tramping over them and treading them in their loveliest bloom.  -  I say good night, but have written this by day-light.

BETTINE

 

“Costly splendour and works of art, seen in Cöln and during the journey, described particularly for my dearest Frau Rath.”

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Pay attention that you may understand; for I have tried twice in vain to make an orderly representation of it.

 

First, a large table ornament, which has haunted me continually and which I think I saw in the great banquetting hall of the Elector’s Palace: it consists of an oval, crystal dish from four to five feet long, representing a sea, softly cut into waves, which rise more and more towards the middle and at last mount very high as they surround a silver rock, with a throne upon which Venus sits.  Her foot it placed upon the back of a Triton, who balances a little Cupid upon his hand: silver foam sprays around, and on the highest waves mettlesome Nymphs are riding, who hold oars in their hands to whip the billows; their garments are enamelled, mostly pale-blue or sea-green, but also yellow: they appear to be engaged in a wanton and joyous water-dance.  Somewhat deeper, are seen silver sea-horses, reined and partly ridden by Tritons – everything is of chased silver or gold with enamelled ornaments.  When wine is poured into the hollow rock, it sponts from small pipes, in five, regular rays round about Venus and flows into a basin, concealed under the rock; this is the great middle group.  Nearer to the brim, amidst the waves are variegated shells and enamelled waterlilies, from the calices of which, little Loves with drawn bows, rise and shoot at one another: between these, flee mermaids with fishes’ tails, pursued by mermen with pointed beards, some seized by their weedy garlands, others caught by a net.  On the other side are seanymphs, who have taken a flying Cupid prisoner, and want to pull him beneath the waves; he defends himself, and has placed his little foot on one mermaid’s breast, which another holds him fast by his variegated wings: this is a delightful and most joyous group; Cupid is of ambergris and the nymphs of gold, with enamelled garlands.  The groups are disposed in either half-oval; all is enamelled with blue, green, red, yellow and every bright colour.  Many sea-monsters, with open gorge, peep forth from the crystal waves, and snap at the fleeing nymphs; and thus a gay complication of joyous, glittering splendour is spread over the whole, from the midst of which rises the rock with Venus.  At one end of the dish (where the handle generally is) – opposed to the spectator, sits – the Cyclops Polyphemus, holding Galatea prisoner in his arms; he has one large eye in his forehead; she is looking timidly down upon a flock of sheep, dispersed on either side, by which means the group forms a slight curve, terminated by two lambs lying asleep, the one at either end.  At the other side, sits Orpheus (also opposed to the spectator) playing on his lyre; and behind him, a laurel, on whose golden spread branches birds are perched: some nymphs, with oars in their hands have stolen near, to hearken; and then there are all sorts of sea-animals, with two dolphins one on either side, terminating this group like the other, by forming a slight curve.  Particularly pretty is a little monkey which having made a parasol from a leaf, sits listening at the feet of Orpheus.  This is, as you may easily suppose, a wonderful piece of magnificence – a very costly but yet an elevated composition; and I could spend another half hour over the beauty of individual figures.  Gold and silver impress me with the idea of something holy: I know not whether it be, that I always washed the gold and silver Mass-service and chalices in the Nunnery, cleaned the censer, and cleared the Altar-candlesticks from the melted way, touching all with a degree of reverence; I can only tell you that the sight of this rich specimen of art, inspired me with a holy feeling.

 

Now I will describe something else, also beautiful, and which pleases me still better in the recollection – and connoisseurs say that it has more Style.  There by the bye is a word of which when I ask the significance one answers “Don’t you know what Style is? And with this I must be contented.  -  I have however found it out.  Everything great and exalted, must have a ground for being so: now, when this ground, cleaned from prejudice and the huddling together of extraneous matter and views, forms the basis of the work; - there is pure style.  Works of art must exactly express that only, which elevates, and nobly delights the soul, and nothing more.  The feeling of the artist must be directed to this end alone, - everything else is false.  In Wolfgang’s smaller poems the sentiment is of one mould, and what he there expresses, richly fills each soul with the same refined feeling.  This is the case with all his poems, but I will only quote the briefest, which I have so often, in the lonely woods, when returning from my walks, sung with high enjoyment.

 

Oh thou! Who of Heaven born

Every pain and sorrow stillest,

And all those who doubly mourn

With thy doubled presence fillest;

Ah! Weary me! Let goading, cease!

Why sorrow-pained, why joy-carest?

Lovely Peace!

Come, ah come into my breast

 

In the convent I heard a good deal of preaching, about the “worldly spirit” and the “vanity of all things” and I myself have read legends to the Nuns, year in, year out; and neither devil nor saint made the slightest impression on me:- I believe they were not of “pure style”: but one such song fills my soul with the most delightful feeling: no exhortation, no lesson of wisdom, could impart so much of good to me: it frees me from all selfishness; I can give all to others and wish them the best good-fortune, without asking anything for myself: - this comes from the pure and noble style.  There are many other songs which I could quote, that elevate me beyond everything, and give me a delight which makes me rich in myself.  That song “The beautiful night” I have sung this year at least a hundred times, when returning late home:

 

Fair Luna breaks through oak and copse

Zephyr ushers on, her way,

And courteous birch with bending tops

To her their sweetest incense pay

 

How happy and delighted was I this spring, as the birch-trees around me, during my song, actually strewed their perfumed incense before the hastening Luna.  No one shall convince me that pure delight is not prayer.  But in the Church I never could succeed: - there I groaned for very weariness, for the sermon was like lead on my eye-lids.  Oh me! How light I felt, when I could spring out of the Convent-church into the pretty garden! There the smallest sun-beam was to me a better exposition, than the whole Church-History.

 

The second work of art, I have to describe, is a Dolphin made from a large elephant-tusk.  His jaws are open and two little Cupids are fixing the bit: a third who sits upon the Dolphin’s neck, gathers up the bridle from either side: on the middle of the back is a golden saddle, with a seat of complex workmanship representing an arbour of vines, in the midst of which stands an ivory Bacchus, a handsome, soft and slender youth with golden hair and wearing a Phrygian cap; one hand is placed in his side and in the other he holds a golden vine, which rising from under the saddle, shadows him with its fine and beautiful foliage.  On both sides of the saddle are two muscles, used as grape-baskets, in each of which sit two ivory nymphs, blowing conchs.  The broad tins, as well as the tail of the fish, are of chased gold and silver: immediately behind the saddle, the body of the fish winds upwards as if it were lashing the air with its tail: on the top of the bend, sits an elegant little nymph, clapping her hands; she is raised somewhat higher, and overlooks the Bacchus-group; the tail-fins form an elegant shade over the nymph.  The fish’s throat is lined with gold: it can also be filled with wine, which then spouts up in two streams from the nostrils.  At great festivals it is placed in a golden basin, on the sideboard.  This now is a work of lofty style, and I can also say, that it quite filled me with a silent and holy reverence.   There are many things of this sort, all bearing reference to the Rhine.  Among others is a Ship of cedar, finely made, with beautiful arabesques: a bas-relief surrounds the upper part of the hull, and on the deck, the three Electors of Cöln, Mainz and Trier sit carousing.  This did not give me so much pleasure, although there is much of what is beautiful about it, particularly the Goddess of fortune, forming the head of the vessel.

 

I will further describe a goblet, representing a wine-press, which is indeed a master piece.  In the middle is a high cask, this forms the proper goblet.  Up the sides, with tubs full of grapes, clamber boys in graceful attitudes, from the shoulders of men, to reach the brim and there pour out the fruit.  In the middle, forming the knot of the over, which sets deep into the cup, stands a Bacchus, upon whom two tigers are springing: he is about to press with his feet the heaped up grapes, which interspersed with single tendrils, form the lid.  The boys who reach over from every side, to empty their tubs, form a most beautiful brim: the strong men at the foot of the press, who raise the boys on their shoulders and in various ways assist to ascent, are splendid beyond measure, naked except here and there one, wearing a tiger-skin on his shoulders, else quite at their ease.  On one side of the goblet are the Mainz arms, on the other those of Cöln.

 

The whole goblet rests upon a stand, formed like a rising hill; here nymphs are lying and sitting in a circle; some playing on tambourines, cymbals and triangles, others striving with leopards which spring over their heads; it is really most elegant. – I have now described it to you, but if you had seen it first, you would have cried out loud, for very astonishment.  What strikes one when one sees such works from the hand of man?  My head was in a whirl, and in the full inspiration of the moment, I thought I should have no rest, till I could also invent and form such beautiful things.  But as I came out, and it was evening, and the sun was setting so splendidly, I forgot all, except to bathe my senses with the last sun-ray, in the cool Rhine.

 

A mother takes all conceivable pains to content her little unconscious infant; she meets its wants, and turns everything into its plaything: if it rejects all and will be content with nothing, she lets it cry out its naughtiness till it is tired, and then tries again to amuse it with playthings.  Even thus, God treats men: He gives him all that is beautiful, to delight and charm him, and to heighten his perception.  Art, is a pretty plaything which leads the inquiet, ever-fermenting spirit, back, to itself, teaches man to think and to perceive, giving him that skill, which makes and improves his powers.  He must give himself entirely up to the purity of such invention, (trusting to the playful desires of Fancy) which is able to raise and mature him to the highest point of perfection.  Mighty secrets of a higher development, lie surely concealed in Art: nay I even believe that the propensities, which the “prosaics” affirm to have no useful end, belong to those Mysteries, which lay the germ of great (but in this life unintelligible) qualities in the soul: this, will burst forth in the next life, a higher order of instinct, fitted to the more spiritual element.

 

The way too, in which those works of chased gold and silver are exhibited, is worthy of remark and gives the opportunity of seeing them in all their splendour at one view, as well as of examining each one at leisure.  There is a wall of ebony in which are deep recesses: that in the middle, for the reception of the chef d’oeuvre, is large, and then smaller ones of either side for the others, such as, goblets, cups etc.  By pressing a spring the floor of each recess starts out, and the contents may thus be viewed on every side.

 

I have thought of another goblet, of bronze: a genuine antique as one affirms; and one must believe it, for it is so simple and yet so majestic.  A youth, probably Ganymede, is sitting negligently upon a stone; an eagle upon the ground between his knees, spreads out his wings, as if he would strike, and lays his stretched head upon the youth’s breast, who looks down upon the eagle, while he raises both arms, holding in his hands a splendid drinking cup, which forms the goblet.  Can one imagine anything more beautiful? No! The wild eagle so passionately at once attacking and reposing upon, the quiet youth, and he, lifting up the cup so playfully is inexpressibly beautiful, and I thought many things upon seeing it.  I will just describe another partition to you and then to bed, for I am very tired.  Imagine to yourself a golden honey-comb, (of which the whole wall consists) which number less octagonal, golden cells, in each of which is a different saint, elegantly, nay charmingly carved out of wood; robed in beautiful garments, painted in gay colours.  In the middle where the queen-bee’s cell is, stands Christ; on either side the four Evangelists, around the Apostles, then the Fathers, after them the Martyrs, and last of all the Hermits.  This I saw exhibited as Altar-piece at the Church in Oberwesel.  Not a single figure, from which one could not make a picture at once beautiful, naïve and peculiar in its kind.  Adieu Frau Rath: I must break off, or daylight might intrude upon my extemporizing.

BETTINE.

 

TO BETTINE

Frankfort, Octbr. 7th 1808

 

The description of thy splendid and costly things gave me a great deal of pleasure; if it be only true that thou hast seen them, for in such things one cannot trust thee to little.  Thou hast already, from thy footstool, often rehearsed to me such impossibilities; for when thou (with respect be it said) once launchest into invention, neither bit nor bridle can hold thee.  Why! I wonder that thou has yet made an end – that thou hast not talked on, in one continued strain, if it were only to find out thyself what thy head really contains! – I often think however that it must be true, because thou canst relate everything so naturally.  Besides, whence couldst thou get to know all this?  But it is curious, that the Electors, always have to do with fish and water-nymphs: at the Coronation I also saw such things in the plate-rooms; there was a silver fountain, adorned with beautiful figures, from which wine spouted; and this was placed as an ornament upon the table.  And once the Elector of the Palatinate had a fish-ballet performed; there the carp, dressed in gold and silver scales danced a minuet on their tails.  Well! thou alone hast see all this; - such things as one sees in the imagination, exist also, and belong to the spiritual kingdom, where nothing is corporeal, but all existing only in spiritual form.

 

Come here soon again.  Thou hast swarmed through the entire Summer, my letter-writing is quite done for, and I have not seen thee so long that I quite yearn after thee.

 

Thy true and hearty friend.

E.C. GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE’S MOTHER

 

Frau Rath!  The whole day I am not at home; but when I write to you, then I feel that I have a home.  It is now the season, when the people set up their field-gods to frighten the sparrows from the grapes.  This morning, I could not conceive what wonderful sort of a visiter there was so early in the vineyard, and glimmering through the thick fog.  At first I thought it was the devil; for he was dressed in coat of crimson, trousers of black and gilt paper-cap: and in the twilight of evening I was afraid to go by, and indeed so sorely, that I turned back and would not go to the water-side, as is my constant custom. – But when I was again in my room, I thought if any one I liked, had appointed to meet me there, I should have felt no fear: therefore I one more, (and happily) passed by the rag-phantom; for yonder something I like, really waits for me – the still, far-spread quiet, over the broad Rhine, over the brooding vine-hills.  With what may I compare it so well, as with the still, quiet evening in which, my memory pays him a friendly visit, and he allows the little bark of my childish thoughts to land by him.  What I think of such lonely evening-hours, when twilight changes place with night, you can best imagine; for we have talked it over a thousand times and experienced so much delight in it.  I often think over the time when we travelled together to visit him.  I had not then seen him; you whiled away the time of my ardent longing, by painting his friendly surprize and our appearance under a thousand different forms. – Now I know him, and how he smiles, and the tone of his voice, so composed and yet so full of love, and his exclamations, which come swelling from the depth of his heart like the tones of song, and how friendly he soothes and assents to that, which one utters in the violence of a full heart. -  When I so unexpectedly met him again last year.  I was quite beside myself – wanted to speak, but could not compose myself; then he laid his hand upon my lips and said “Speak with thine eyes, I understand all” and as he saw that they were filled with tears, he pressed down my eyelids and said “Quiet quiet best befits us both”. – Yes my dear mother! Quiet was instantly poured over me, for I had all, after which alone, I had longed for years.  Ah! Mother, I thank you a thousand times, that you bore me, this friend to the world – where else could I find him.  Do not laugh at this, but think only, that I loved him before I knew the least of him; and if you had not borne him, where he would then have been, is a question you cannot answer.

 

It is quite impossible for me to write of Gunderode on the Rhine: it is not that I am so sensitive, but I am on a spot not far enough removed from the occurrence, for me perfectly to review it.  Yesterday I went down yonder where she had lain; the willows are so grown, that the spot is quite covered; and when I thought how she had run here, full of despair, and so quickly plunged the violent knife into her breast, and how long this idea had burned in her mind and that I, so near a friend, now wandered in the same place, along the same shore, in sweet meditation on my happiness, - all, even the slightest circumstance seeming to me, to belong to the riches of my bliss – I do not feel equal, at such a time to arrange all, and pursue the simple thread of our friendship’s life from which I might yet spin the whole.  – No! it distresses me and I reproach her, as I used to do in my dreams, that she has left this beautiful earth: she had yet to learn that Nature is possessed of spirit and soul, holds communion with man and cares for him and his destiny, - that “promises of life” float around us in the air: - yes! She used me ill! She fled from me in the moment when I would have imparted to her every enjoyment.  – She was so timid: a joung Canoness, who feared to say grace aloud: she often told me, that she trembled when her turn came, to pronounce the benedicite: - our communion was sweet, - it was the epoch in which I first became conscious of myself.  She first sought me out in Offenbach; she took me by the hand and begged me to visit her in the town; afterwards we came ever day together; with her I learned to read my first books, with understanding; she wanted to teach me History, but soon saw that I was too busy with the present, to be held long by the past.  How delighted I was to visit her!  I could not miss her for a single day; but ran to her every afternoon: when I came to the chapter-gate, I peeped through the key-hole of her door, till I was let in. – Her little apartment was on the ground floor, looking into the garden: before the window, grew a silver-poplar, up which I climbed to read: at each chapter, I clambered one bough higher and thus read down to her: - she stood at the window and listened, speaking to me above; every now and then she would say: “Bettine don’t fall”.  I now for the first time, know how happy I then was; for all, - even the most trifling thing is impressed on my mind as the remembrance of enjoyment.  She was as soft and delicate in all her features as a blonde.  She had brown hair, but blue eyes, that were shaded by long lashes: when she laughed it was not loud, it was rather a soft, subdued crooing, in which joy and cheerfulness distinctly spoke: she did not walk, she moved if one can understand what I mean by this; her dress was a robe which encompassed her with caressing folds; this was owing to the gentleness of her movements.  She was tall of stature – her figure was too flowing, for the word slender to express; she was timid friendly and much too yielding, to make herself prominent in society.  She once dined with all the Canonesses at the Royal Primate’s table; she wore the black chapter-dress, with long train, white collar and cross of the order; some one remarked that she looked amidst the others, like a phantom – a spirit about to melt into air.  She read her poems to me and was as well pleased with my applause, as if I had been the great Public; and indeed I was full of lively eagerness to hear them: not that I seized upon the meaning of what I heard, on the contrary, it was to me an “element unknown” and the smooth verses affected me like the harmony of a strange language, which flatters the ear although one cannot translate it.  We read Werther together and conversed much upon suicide; she said, “To learn much, to comprehend much and then die early! I would not survive when youth had left me”.  We read, that the Greeks said of the Jupiter Olympus of Phidias, that mortal who left the earth, without seeing it, had been cheated of what was most splendid.  Günderode said, “we must see Him; we will not belong to the unblessed, who thus leave the earth”.  We laid the plan of a journey, - devised our route and adventures, wrote everything down, pictured all before us – our Fancy was so busy, that Reality could hardly have afforded us a better experience.  We often read in this fictitious journal and delighted in the sweetest adventures, which we had there met with: invention thus became as it were a remembrance, whose relations still continued their connections with the present. Of that which happened in the real world we communicated to each other – nothing: the kingdom in which we met, sunk down like a cloud, parting to receive us to a secret Paradise: - there all was new – surprising; but congenial to spirit and heart; and thus the days went by.  She wished to teach me Philosophy; what she imparted to me, she expected me to comprehend and to give again in my way under a written form.  The Essays which I wrote on these subjects, she read with wonder: they did not contain the most distant idea of what she had communicated; but I maintained, that I had so understood it; she called these themes.  Revelations enhanced by the sweetest colourings of an extasied imagination; she collected them carefully and once wrote to me: “Thou dost not yet understand, how deep these openings lead into the mine of the Mind: but the time will come, when it will be important to thee; for man often goes through desert paths – the greater his inclination to penetrate, the more dreadful is the loneliness of his way, the more endless the wilderness.  But when thou becomest aware, how deep thou hast descended into the spring of thought and how there below, thou findest a new dawn, risest with joy again to the surface and speakest of thy deep-hid world, - then will it be thy consolation; for thou and the world can never be united; thou wilt have no other outlet, except back through this spring, into the magic garden of thy fancy: - but it is no fancy, it is Truth which is merely reflected from it.  Genius makes use of Fancy, to impart or instil, the Divine, which the mind of man could not embrace under its ideal form; yes! Thou wilt have no other way of enjoyment in thy life, than that, which children promise themselves from magic-caverns and deep fountains, through which one comes to blooming gardens, wonderful fruits and crystal palaces, where yet un-imagined music, sounds, and the sun builds bridges of its rays, upon the centre of which one may walk with a firm foot.  All this in these pages of thine, will form a key, with which thou mayst perhaps unlock deep-hid kingdoms; therefore lose nothing nor contend against that incentive which prompts thee to write, but learn to labour in thought, without which Genius can never be born in the spirit: - when it becomes incarnate in thee, then wilt thou rejoice in inspiration, even as the dancer in music.”

 

With such wonderful lessons did Günderode, nourish the infancy of my mind.  I was then on a month’s visit to my grandmother at Offenbach, to enjoy the country air on account of my doubtful state of health: how then must such letters have affected me? Did I understand their contents? Had I an idea of what I myself had written? No! I knew as little how to interpret the text of my written inspirations as the composer how to trace the text of his composition to its source: he throws himself into a finer element than himself, it bears him, it nourishes him, his food becomes Inspiration; this, incites and charms, without empowering him to give it a palpable construction, although it raises the faculties, purifies the mind and touches the soul.  Thus was it between me and my friend: melodies streamed upon my raised fancy she listened and felt an endless pleasure in them, preserving that, which if I had retained them, had only disturbed me.  She often called me a Sybil, who dare not preserve her own predictions; her summons charmed me, although I felt a sort of fear; my spirit was bold and my heart timid; yes, there was indeed a struggle within me; - I wanted to write, I looked into unfathomable darkness; I was obliged to exclude the external light; I liked best when I had shaded the window, and yet saw through the curtain, that the sun was shining without: a nosegay, whose colours stole through the half-light, could fix me and set me free from inward anxiety, so that I forgot myself, while I gazed on the shadowy gleaming of the flowers, and scent, colour and form made a beautiful whole: here I learned truths, (from which I went forth into dreamings,) and which suddenly set my spirit free, so that with quiet composure, I could comprehend and impart my forebodings: - while I saw the flowers illumined only through a crevice in the shutter, I discerned the beauty of colour, and the excellence of beauty; colour itself became a spirit, which addressed me like the scent and form of the flowers. – The first thing which I thus learned was, that every thing in Nature’s images, is of divine origin, - that the divine spirit is beauty, nursed in the lap of Nature, - that, beauty is greater than man, but that knowledge alone is the beauty of man’s free mind, which is above all corporeal beauty.  Oh!  I only need “to dive into the fountain”, and I could perhaps again tell, all which I learned by my communion with the colour, form and scent of that nosegay; I could also related still more, which would sound wonderful and particular enough; I should fear, it would not be believed, or be considered as raving and folly; - but why should I conceal it here?  To Him who will read this, it will occur that he has often remarked the wonderful phenomena of light, which, by means of colour and accidental or particular media, formed new images.  Thus was it then with my soul, and thus it is even now.  The great and piercing eye of the spirit was arrested by an internal ray of light, (it may perforce drink it in) without being able to free itself by self-willed reflection: my friend knows well, what enchantment is caused by this spell-bound gaze on a ray of light (the spirit of colour) – and he knows also, that the semblance is no semblance, but truth itself.

 

As soon as I came forth from this internal contemplation, I was dazzled; I saw dreams, I pursued their forms; this made no difference in the common intercourse of life, for herein I fitted without being pushed against, because I never moved myself; but I say, without fear, to my Master (whose blessing I now beg upon his child), I had an inward world and secret powers, and senses by which I lived in it: my eyes saw clearly great visions, as soon as it was shut; - I saw the heavenly globe, it revolved before me in immeasurable greatness, so that I could not see the great whole, although I had an idea of its rotundity: the starry-host passed on a dark ground before me; stars dancing, formed pure spiritual figures, which I as spirit understood; monuments formed themselves of columns and shapes, behind which stars passed away, others dipping into a sea of colours; blooming flowers came forth, and grew up on high; far golden shadows covered them from a still higher white light, and thus vision followed vision in this inward world.  At the same time my ears perceived a fine silver ringing; by degrees it became a sound, which grew louder and more powerful, the longer I listened; I rejoiced, for it strengthened me and gave strength to my spirit, to harbour this mighty sound within my ear; did I open my eyes? All was gone! All was still! And I perceived no interruption, only I could no longer distinguish this so-called real world, (in which other men maintain that they exist) from this world of dream or fancy: I knew not which was sleeping and which waking; nay, I at last believed that I only dreamed the common life, and I must to this day leave it undecided and shall be in doubt for years to come.  I was so certain of being able to float and fly, I was inwardly proud of it and rejoiced in the consciousness; a single elastic pressure on the tip of the foot – and I was in the air; I floated slowly and gracefully two or three feet along the earth, but soon touched it again, and again flew off – and floated to the side, and thence back again; thus, in my unspeakable pleasure, I danced to and fro in the garden by moonlight; I floated over the stairs up and down; sometimes I raised myself to the height of the lower boughs, and chirped among the branches: in the morning I awoke with the full persuasion that I could fly, but during the day forgot it.  – I wrote to Günderode, I know not what; - she came out to me at Offenbach, looked at me anxiously and made perplexing inquiries after my health; I looked in the glass: my eyes were become darker than formerly; my features were incomparably finer, the nose so small and thin, the mouth so wavy and the complexion quite pale:  I rejoiced, and saw my figure with delight; Günderode said, I should no more remain so long alone, and took me with her to the town.  A few days passed and I was attacked by fever; I laid myself to bed and slept, and know nothing more but that I slept.  At length I woke it was the fourteenth day, since I had first slept: when I opened my eyes, I saw her taper figure, moving to and fro, wringing her hands; “But Günderode” said I “why do you cry?” “Be God for ever praised!” cried she coming to my bed-side, “art thou at length awake? Art thou again restored to consciousness?”  From this time forth, she would not let me read any philosophy, nor write any more essays; she firmly believed, these to be the source of my illness. I was well pleased with my figure, the paleness which remained after the fever, delighted me beyond measure; my features appeared to me very expressive; the eyes which were become full, prevailed, while the other parts of the face were become in proportion, intellectually passive: I asked Günderode, whether the first traces of transfiguration were not already there?

 

Here I have broken off, and have not written for many days; it rose before me with such earnestness and weight, anguish would not give way to thought; I am still young, I cannot fathom the Immense.  Meantime they have here been making harvest-home; vinedressers crowned with leaves brought the Must down from the hills amidst shout and song, preceded by pipes to which they dances.  O thou! Who readest this, thou hast no robe so soft, that it may enwrap the wounded soul!  What dost thou not owe me, that I make the sacrifice of allowing thee to touch my wounds?  How canst thou repay me? – thou wilt never repay me! Thou wilt not call and invite me to thy side; and because I have no shelter in love, thou wilt not harbour me, and thou wilt grant no relief to my yearning!  I see that I shall stand by myself, alone, even as I to day stood alone on the bank, with the gloomy willows, where the death-shiver still hovers over the spot: there no grass grows; there she pierced her beautiful body in the very point, where she had been taught, that the heart might be most surely reached.  O Jesu Maria!

 

Thou! My Master!- thou!-flaming Genius above me! I have wept, not for her I have lost, who like the Spring-breeding gales encircled me round, who protected, inspired me, who confided to me as my goal, the loftiness of my own nature; I have wept for myself, with myself; I must become hard as adamant to myself, to my own heart; I dare not complain that I am not loved, I must severely chastise this passionate heart; it has no right to demand.  No! it has no right; - thou art mild and smilest upon me, and thy cool hand assuages the glowing of my checks, this shall content me.

 

Yesterday we sailed up the Rhine in vine-decked boats, to view the hundred-fold celebration of the vintage on either side the banks.  Ours was a merry crew; they wrote wine-inspired songs and sayings, and sent them under the continual volley, swimming down the Rhine: on each heap of ruins great firs were placed, which were set on fire at twilight; from the Mäuse-tower in the midst of the proud stream, rose two mighty pines, their flaming, charred boughs fell into the hissing flood: from every side it thundered with guns and rockets, and beautiful groups of fire-balls rose virgin-pure into the air, and on board the boats, songs were sung, and in sailing by, garlands and grapes were thrown from one to the other.  When we came home, it was late, but the moon shone bright: I looked out of the window, and still heard from the other side the roar and shout of the home-returning, and on this side, where she had lain dead upon the bank, all was still; - there is no one now, thought I who asks after her, and I went towards the spot, not without a shudder.  I was anxious, when I saw from afar, the mist hovering over the willow-trees, and I had almost turned back, for it was as if it were she herself, who there floated, hovered and expanded; I went towards the spot, but prayed by the way, that God would protect me; - protect? – from what? From a spirit, whose heart during her life was full of willing love to me; and now that it is freed from its earthly covering, shall I flee from it in fear? -–Ah! Perhaps she has entailed upon me the better part of her spiritual wealthy, since her death.  Fathers entail upon their children, why not friend upon friend? – I cannot tell how oppressed I feel?  She perhaps, the friendly bright one, may have enriched me!  As I returned from her grave, I found some people, who were looking for their cow, which had strayed – I accompanied them: they guessed directly, that I had come from thence; they had much to relate about Günderode, who had often entered into friendly chat with them and given them alms; they said that as often as they passed by yonder place, they said a pater noster; I have also prayed there, both to and for her soul, and have bathed myself in the moon’s light, and have cried aloud to her, that I yearned after her and those hours, in which we harmlessly exchanged with one another thought and feeling.

 

She told me little of her other concerns; I do not know in what connection she stood except with me; she had indeed spoken to me of Daub in Heidelberg and also of Kreutzer, but I was ignorant whether one were dearer to her than the other.  I once heard of it from other people, but did not believe it.  One day she met me with a joyful air and said: “Yesterday I spoke with a surgeon, who told me it was very easy to make away with one’s self”; she hastily opened her gown and pointed to the spot, beneath her beautiful breast; her eyes sparkled with delight: I stared at her; for the first time I felt uneasy.  “Well” I asked, “and what shall I do when thou art dead?”  “O”, she said, “ere then, thou wilt not care for me any more; we shall not remain so intimate till then, I will first quarrel with thee.” – I turned to the window, to hide my tears and my anger-throbbing heart – she had gone to the other window and was silent: - I took a secret glance at her; her eye was raised to heaven, but its ray was broken, as though its whole fire were turned within.  After I had observed her awhile, I could no longer controul myself – I broke out into loud crying, I fell on her neck, tore her down to a seat, and sat upon her knee and wept many tears and for the first time, kissed her on her mouth, and tore open her dress and kissed her on the spot, where she had learned to reach the heart; and I implored her with tears of anguish, to have mercy upon me, and fell again on her neck, and kissed her hands which were cold and trembling, and her lips were convulsed, and she was quite cold, stiff and deadly pale, and could not raise her voice: she said slowly, “Bettine don’t break my heart.”  I wanted to come to myself and not give her pain; I smiled, cried and sobbed aloud, but she seemed to grow more anxious: she laid herself on the sofa; then I tried to jest and to make her believe I had taken all as a joke.  We spoke of her will; she bequeathed something to each one – to me a little Apollo under a glass-bell, upon which she had placed a laurel-crown; I wrote down everything.  As I went home, I reproached myself that I had been so excited; I felt that it was all a jest, or indeed fantasy which “belongs to a realm, that does not maintain its truth in realty.”  I felt that I was wrong and not she, who had often spoken to me in this manner.  The next day I brought her a young French Officer of Hussars, with his high bear-skin cap; it was William von Turkheim, the handsomest of all youths – a complete child, full of fun and good-nature; he came unexpectedly – I said: “there! I have brought thee a lover, who shall make life again pleasant to thee.”  He dispelled all melancholy; we joked and made verses; and since the handsome William maintained that he had made the best, Günderode wanted me to present him the laurel-crown; I would not hear of a diminution of my legacy.  At last I was obliged to make over to him half the crown and so I had only the other half. – As I once came to her, she showed me a dagger with silver hilt, which she had purchased at the mart; she was delighted with the beauty and sharpness of the steel, I took the blade and tried it on my finger, blood followed directly and she started.  I said, O Günderode, thou art so timid and canst not look on blood and constantly cherishest an idea, implying the firmest courage! – but I am fully persuaded that I am, rather of the two, capable of daring something, although I would not kill myself; but I have courage to defend myself and thee in the hour of peril; and when I now press on thee with this dagger – see! How art thou terrified!” – She retreated in alarm; my old rage was again roused, under the mask of maddest wilfulness; I pressed more and more earnestly upon her, and ran into her bed-chamber and took refuge behind a leathern chair.  I buried the dagger in it and tore it to pieces by repeated stabs; the horse-hair flew about the room; she stood supplicating behind the chair and begged me not to hurt her, I said “Rather than suffer thee to kill thyself, I myself will do it.”  “My poor chair” said she. – “What! Your chair indeed! It shall serve to make the dagger blunt”; therewith I gave it without mercy stab on stab, till the whole room was one cloud of dust; then I flung the weapon far away, that it flew ringing under the sofa.  I took her by the hand and led her to the garden, into the vine-bower; I tore off the young grapes and threw them before her feet and trod on them and said: “Thus dost thou abuse our friendship.”  I showed her the birds in the branches and that we like them had till now, lived sportively, but constant to one another; I said “Thou mayst depend upon me, there is no hour of the night which, if thou wert to utter a wish, would make me hesitate for a moment – come to my window at midnight and whistle, and I will without preparation go round the world with thee; and what I would not dare for myself, that I dare for thee.  But thou – what right hast thou to cast me off? How canst thou betray such truth? And now promise me that thou wilt no more intrench thy timid Nature behind such cruel, vaunting notions.”  I looked at her, - she was ashamed and hung her head and looked away and was pale; - we were both a long time still. “Günderode” said I, “if thou art in earnest, give me a sign” – she nodded.  -  She made a journey to the Rheingau; from thence she wrote me a few lines, once or twice, - I have lost them or I would insert them here.  Once she wrote as follows: When one is alone upon the Rhine, one becomes quite melancholy; but in company, the most awful spots become just the most charming. I however, like to greet alone the wide-spread, purple sky of evening; then I invent a fairy-tale as I wander on, which I will read to thee.  I am every evening curious to know how it will proceed; sometimes it becomes quite awful and then rises again to the surface.  When she returned and I wished to read the tale, she said “It is become so mournful, that I cannot read it; I dare not hear any more about it and cannot write any more to it – it makes me ill”: and she took to her bed and kept it several days; the dagger lay at her side, but I thought no more of it – the night-lamp stood by: I came in.  “Bettine, three weeks ago my sister died; she was younger than I – thou hast never seen her; she died in rapid decline;” – “Why do you tell me this, now for the first time” said I, “Why, how could it interest thee?  Thou hast not known her, such things I must endure alone” she replied with tearless eyes.  This sounded oddly to me; to my young nature, all brothers and sisters were so dear, that I believed, I should have been in despair, if one had died, and that I could have given my life for either one of them.  – She continued; “Only think! Three nights ago, this sister appeared to me; I lay in bed and the night-lamp was burning on that table; she entered slowly, in white garments, and remained standing at the table; she turned her head towards me, inclined it, and gazed on me.  At first I was frightened, but soon became quite tranquil; I sat up in bed to convince myself, that I was not sleeping.  I gazed at her also, and she seemed to nod her assent to something – took the dagger, and raised it toward heaven with her right hand, as if to show it to me and laid it down again softly and soundlessly: and then she took the lamp, raised it also on high and showed it to me, and as if to sign to me that I understood her, she nodded softly, carried the lamp to her lips and extinguished it – only think” said she with a shudder – “extinguished it! – and in the darkness my eye still felt her form; and then an anguish fell suddenly upon me, which must be worse than the death struggle; yes! For I would rather have died than have borne such anguish any longer.”

 

I had come to take leave, because I intended going to Marburg with Savigny, but now I wished to remain with her.  “Go by all means” said she, “for I go also the day after to-morrow to the Rheingau” so then I went away. – “Bettine,” she called to me at the door, “remember this story, it is certainly remarkable!”  These were her last words.  From Marburg I often wrote to her at the Rheingau of my curious way of life.  I lived the whole winter on the mountain, just under the old castle; the garden was enclosed by the fortress-wall; I had an extended view from the window, over the town and the richly cultivated Hessenland; Gothic towers rose in every direction from out the snow-layers; from my bed-chamber I used to get into the garden; I clambered over the fortress-wall and climbed through the desert gardens; (where the gates could not be swung back, I broke through the hedges) – there I sat on the stone-stairs; the sun melted the snow at my feed: I searched for mosses and carried them home in their frozen beds.  I had thus collected from thirty to forty mosses, which in my cold chamber all blossomed round my bed, in little earthen dishes placed upon ice; I wrote to her about this, without saying how it really was; I wrote in verse: “my bed stands in the midst of the cold country, surrounded by groves, which bloom in every colour; and there are silver groves of primeval growth, like those on the island of Cyprus; the trees stand in close rows, weaving together their mighty boughs: the lawn from which they spring, is rose-red and pale green; I, this day, carried the entire grove on my benumbed hand into my cold ice-bed land; - to this she answered also in verse:

 

“Tis moss of a primeval age

Which thus spreads forth its carpetage;

I doubt, if hunters scour its vales

Or frisking lambs browse in its dales,

If Winter cover it with flakes

Or Spring, its blooming glowers awakes;

But, still the midge’s humming song

Echoes its green-clad groves among;

From waving trees of silvery hue

Hang tiny drops of glist’ning dew:

And in each dew-drop, sparking sheen

At once reflected lies the scene,

Thou must other riddles try

If thy wit may mine defy.”

 

We were now involved in the proposition and solution of riddles; every moment I met with some little adventure in my walks, which concealed in a double sense, I sent her to solve: she generally gave an infantine merry solution.  I once described to her a hare, which met me in a wild lonely wood-path, as an elegant knight; I called it la petite perfection, and said it had captivated my heart; - she immediately answered:

 

“To a plain which was pleasant and green

There came a knight of a noble mien:

Who bid the trumpet sound for repast,

And all hares fled trembling at the blast;

Thus I hope ere long will a knight to thee come,

Thy heart by hares thus captive taken

From all these wights to set at freedom

And there fresh ardour to awaken.”

 

There were allusions to little love-adventures.  Thus passed a part of the winter; I was in a most happy frame of mind, others might call it over-excitement, but to me it was natural.  On the fortress which surrounded the large garden, was a watch tower, and within stood a broken ladder; - just by us, a house had been broken into; the thieves could not be traced, but were believed to have hidden themselves in the tower; I had taken a survey of it by day, and knew that for a strong man it was impossible to ascent by this rotten, nearly stepless and heaven-high ladder, I tried it, but slid down again as soon as I had made a short way.  At night after I had lain a little while in bed, and Meline was asleep, the thought would not let me rest; I threw a gown about my shoulders, stepped out of the window, and passed by the old Marburg Castle; there the Palatinate Philip with Elizabeth peeped laughing out of the window; I had already often enough by day viewed this stone group, leaning arm in arm out of the window, as if they would survey their possessions; but now at night I was so afraid, that I hastened away with lofty jumps to the tower; there I hastened away with lofty jumps to the tower; their I laid hold on the ladder and helped myself up, God knows how; what was impossible for me by day, succeeded by night under the beating anxiety of my heart.  When I was nearly up I halted; I considered, that the thieves might really be above, and there attack and throw me headlong from the tower; there I hung and knew not whether to go up or down, but the fresh air which I scented, enticed up me: - how I felt there, when suddenly by snow and moonlight I surveyed wide spread Nature, alone, assured – the great host of stars above me! Thus it is after death; the freedom-striving soul, which most painfully feels the burden of the body in the moment, when it is about to cast it off, is at length victorious and becomes free from anxiety:- there my only feeling was, to be alone; nothing then charmed me like solitude; and before this blessing all else must yield.  I wrote to Günderode, that once again all my happiness depended on the humour of this caprice:  I wrote to her every day, what I did and thought upon the open watch-tower: I set myself on the parapet and let my legs hand down. – She continually desired to have more of my tower-inspiration; she said, “it is my cordial! Thou speakest like a prophet arisen from the dead.” – But when I wrote to her, that on the wall which was scarce two foot wide, I ran round about and looked merrily at the stars, and that though at first I felt dizzy, I was now quite hold, and that it was the same to me there above, as if I were on the ground:- she answered me “For God’s sake! Don’t fall; I cannot yet make out whether thou art the sport of good or evil spirits.” – Don’t fall!” she again wrote, “although it were pleasant to hear thy voice from above, converse upon death, yet I fear nothing so much as that thou shouldst fall crushed into a miserable and unwilling grave”: - but here exhortations caused in me neither fear nor giddiness; on the contrary I became fool-hardy; I knew well, I had the triumphant conviction, that I was guarded by Spirits.  Strange it was, that I often forgot it, and that it often waked me in the midst of sleep, and I hastened forth at uncertain hours of night; that on my way and upon the ladder I always felt the same anxiety as on the first evening, and that always when above, I enjoyed the blessing of a breast freed from a heavy weight: - when the snow lay there above, I wrote Günderode’s name in it and: “Jesus nazarenus, rex Judaeorum” over it as a talisman of protection, and then I felt, as if she must be shielded from all evil suggestions.

 

At this time Kreutzer came to Marburg, to visit Savigny: so ugly as he was, it was at once inconceivable how he could interest a woman: I heard him use expressions in speaking of Günderode, as if he had a right to her love; in my connection with her, separated as it was from all outward influence, I had never before suspected this, and was in a moment most violently jealous.  In my presence he took a child on this his lap and said: “What’s your name?” – Sophia.  “Well, as long as I am here, you shall be called Caroline; Caroline give me a kiss.”  At this I became angry, tore the child from his lap, and carried it out, away through the garden on to the tower; when above I placed it in the snow, near her name, and laid myself also there with my burning cheeks and cried aloud, and the child cried too; and as I came down, Kreutzer met me; I said “Out of my way! Begone! “  The philologer could fancy that Ganymede would hand him Jupiter’s goblet! – It was new-year’s night; I sat on my tower and looked into the depth below; all was so still, - no sound even to the furthest distance; and I was sad about Günderode, who had sent me no answer, the town lay beneath me, all at once it struck midnight: - then arose a roar, the drums beat, the post-horns crashed, they fired guns, they hurrahed, the student-songs sounded from all sides, and the shouts of jubilee increased till they surrounded me almost like a foaming sea; - forget it I never shall, but I cannot say how wondrous it seemed to me there above on that giddy height, and how by degrees it again became still, and I found myself quite alone.  I returned home and wrote to Günderode; perhaps I may yet find the letter among my papers, and then I will insert it; I know, that I begged her most ardently to answer me; I wrote to her about these student-songs, how they echoed to heaven and roused up the depths of my heart; yes! I laid as it were my head at her feet and prayed for an answer, and waited with a burning longing a whole week, but received no answer; I was blind, deaf, without perception;- two months passed away and I was again in Frankfort:- I ran to the Chapter-house, opened the gate and lo! – there she stood and looked at me, coldly as it seemed. “Günderode” I cried “may I come in?”  She was silent and turned away.  “Günderode say but one word, and my heart beats against thine.”  “No” said she “come no nearer, turn back again, we must at any rate separate.” “What does that mean?” “Thus much! That we have been deceived in one another and do not belong together.”  Ah! I turned away, first despair! First cruel blow! So dreadful to a young heart!  I, who knew nothing but entire submission, nay abandonment to my love, must be thus rejected! – I ran home to Meline, I begged her to go with me to Günderode, to see what was the matter with her, and to induce her to allow me to look a moment in her face; I thought if I could only once catch her eye, I should have her in my power.  I ran across the street, and remained standing at her room-door  I let Meline enter alone; I waited, trembled and wrung my hands in the little narrow passage, which had so often led me to her; - Meline came out with tear-swelled eyes and drew me away in silence.  For a moment grief overcame me, but I was soon again myself. Well, thought I, if Fate will not be kind, we’ll ‘een play at rackets with her.  I was gay, I was merry, I was over-excited, but at night I wept in sleep.  On the second day, I took the way, leading to her dwelling; and then I saw the house of Goethe’s mother, of whom I knew nothing further and had never visited.  I entered: “Frau Rath” said I “I have lost a friend in the Canoness Günderode, and you must supply her place.”  “We will try” said she; and so I went to her every day and set myself on the ottoman” and made her tell me all about her son, which I wrote down and sent to Günderode.  When she departed for Rheingau, she sent me the papers back: the girl who brought them said, the Canoness’ heart beat violently as she gave them to her, and that to her question of “what message” she answered – “Nothing”.

 

A fortnight passed and then Fritz Schlosser came; he asked me for a line to Günderode, as he was going to the Rheingau and wished to make her acquaintance.  I said we had quarelled, but begged him to speak of me, and mark what impression it made upon her.  “When do you go?” said I “to morrow?” “No, in a week.” “Oh do go to morrow, or you will find her no more – it is so melancholy on the Rhine” said I jestingly “she may do herself some mischief.”  Schlosser looked at me anxiously.  “Yes! Yes!” I said petulantly, “she will plunge into the water, or stab herself out of mere caprice.”  “Do not libel her” said he; and now I began to do so in right earnest.  “Take heed Schlosser – you find her no more if you delay according to your old custom; and I tell you go rather to day than to morrow and save her from her unreasonably melancholy humour;” – and in jest I describe how she would kill herself, in a red gown, with loosened boddice, and close beneath her breast, the wound: this was called wanton wildness in me, but it was unconscious excitement, in which I described the truth with perfect accuracy. – On the next day Francis came to me and said: “Girl, we will go to the Rheingau; there thou canst visit Günderode.” – “When? I asked.  “To morrow” he said; - ah!  I packed up with such precipitation; I could hardly wait for going; everything I met, was pushed hastily out of the way; but several days passed and the journey was still put off; at last my desire for the journey, was changed into deep mournfulness, and I had rather have stayed behind.  When we arrived in Mittelheim, where we put up for the night, I lay at the window and looked on the moonlit water; my sister-in-law Antonia sat by the window; the maid who laid the cloth, said: “Yesterday a young and beautiful lady, who had been residing here for six weeks, made away with herself at Winkel: she walked a long time by the Rhine, then ran home and fetched a handkerchief: in the evening she was sought in vain, the next morning she was found on the bank among the willow-trees; she had filled the handkerchief with stones an tied it around her neck, probably because she intended to sink in the Rhine, but as she stabbed herself to the heart, she fell backwards, and a peasant found her thus lying under the willows by the Rhine, in a spot where it is deepest.  He pulled the dagger from her breast and flung it full of horror far into the Rhine; the sailors saw him flee the spot, and so came up and brought her into the town.” – At first I had not attended, but at last, listened with the rest and cried: “That is Günderode!”  They talked me out of my belief, and said it must certainly be some other, since they were so many from Frankfort in Rheingau.  I allowed myself to be convinced and thought.  Exactly which one prophesies, is generally not true.”  At night I dreamt, she came to me in a boat adorned with garlands, to be reconciled with me; I sprang out of bed and into my brother’s room, and cried: “It is all false, I have just had so vivid a dream!”  “Oh” said my brother “do not build upon dreams.”  I again dreamed, that I rapidly crossed the Rhine in a boat to seek for her; the water was troubled and weedy, and the air was dark and it was very cold:- I landed on a  swampy shorve; there was a house with damp walls, from which she floated forth, and looked anxiously at me, signifying to me, that she could not speak: - I rain again to the room of my brother and sister and cried “No! It is surely true! For a dreamed, that I saw her and asked: “Günderode, why hast thou done this to me,” and she was silent and sunk her head mournfully and could not answer.  Now in bed I reflected on all, and bethought me, that she had formerly said, she would break with me, that she had formerly said, she would break with me, before she completed her purpose; (now our separation was explained), and that she would give me a sign, when her resolution was fixed; this then was the story of her dead sister, which she had imparted to me half a year ago; her determination was then already taken.  – O! tell me ye lofty souls, what mighty power moved this lamb in innocence, this timid heart, thus to act? – The next morning we proceeded at an early hour further up the Rhine.  Francis had ordered the boat to keep on the other side, to avoid coming too near to the spot; but there stood Fritz Schlosser on the bank, and the peasant who had found her was showing him where the head had lain and where the feet, and that the grass was still laid; - and the boatman steered involuntarily in that direction, and Francis unconsciously repeated after the peasant all that he could hear at that distance; and thus I was compelled to listen to the dreadful fragments of the story, about the red gown, unlaced, - of the dagger, which I knew so well, and the handkerchief of stones about her neck, and the gaping wound:- but I did not cry – I was silent.  Then my brother approached me and said “Take courage, girl!” – We landed at Rüdesheim; the story was in every one’s mouth.  I ran past all, with the speed of wind, and up Ostein a mountain a mile high without stopping:- when I came to the top, my breath was gone and my head burned; - I had far onstripped the rest. – There lay the splendid Rhine with his emerald island gems; there I saw the streams descending to him from every side, and the rich peaceful towns on either bank, and the blessed lands on either side: than I asked myself, if time would not wear out my loss, and then I resolved to raise myself above grief, for it seemed to me unworthy, to utter grief which the future would enable me to master.

 

____________

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

WITH

 

GOETHE.

 


 

 

With flaming characters was deeply graven

In Petrarch’s breast, before each other day,

Good-Friday.  Even thus I well may say

To me is Advent, eighteen hundred seven.

 

Love’s flame was not then lit, but brighter burned

For her, whose form my heart long since elected,

Which wisely then my mind again rejected -

Now to my heart with double power returned.

 

Petrarca’s love, the lofly pure undying

Was unrequited, ah! How full of sadness

Heart-agony, - for ever a Good-Friday.

 

But lo! To me – undimued by breath of sighing,

An endless jubilee, and full of gladness,

Shows the bright Future – an eternal May-day.

 

 

TO GOETHE.

Cassel, May 15th 1807

 

“Dear, dear Daughter!  Call me for all days, for all future time, by that one name, which embraces my whole happiness.  My son is thy friend, thy brother who surely loves thee” etc.

 

Such words does Goethe’s mother write to me! What right do they give me?  A dam within my heart has, as it were, broken up:- a child of man, alone on a rock, surrounded by rushing storms, uncertain of itself, wavering here and there like the thorns and thistles around it – such am I; - such I was before I knew my Master.  Now I turn like the sunflower to my God and can prove to him by the countenance glowing with his beams, that he has pierced me.  O God! Dare I? – and am I not all too bold?

 

And what shall I then? Relate how the glorious friendliness, with which you met me, now exuberates in my heart – all other life at once repressed? – how I must ever yearn towards that time, when I first felt myself well?  All this avails nothing; - the words of your Mother! – I am far from making claims on that which her goodness destines for me – but these words have dazzled me; and I must at least satisfy the longing to let you know, with what a mighty power love turns me at every moment towards you.

 

Nor dare I hesitate to resign myself to a feeling which bursts from my heart like the young seed in Spring;- it was to be so and the seed was laid in me.  It is not my purposed will, that often from the conversation of the moment, I am borne away to your feet – then seat myself on the ground and lay my head in your lap, or press your hand to my lips, or stand by your side and throw my arms about your neck, and it is long before I find a position in which I remain. Then I chatter at my ease; but the answer which I make myself in your name, I pronounce deliberately.  “My child! my dear good girl! Sweet heart!”  Yes! Thus does it sound from out that mysterious hour, in which I believed myself conveyed by spirits, to another world; and when I then think, that even so it might sound from your lips, if I really stood before you, - then I tremble with joy and longing.  O how many hundred times do we dream, and our dreams foretel better than will ever happen to us. – Sometimes too I am petulant and wanton, and prize that man as happy, who is so beloved; then you smile, and assent to it with friendly generosity.

 

Woe me, if all this never come to pass, for then I shall miss all which is most splendid in life.  Ah! Is not wine the sweetest and most coveted of all heavenly gifts? That he who has once tasted it, never desires to forswear drunken inspiration.  – This wine I shall miss; and every other will be to me as tasteless, spiritless water, of which one does not desire a single drop more than is necessary.

 

How then shall I console myself? With the song perhaps “In arms of love we rest us well.  Well too in lap of earth” or “I would, I lay and slept, Ten thousand fathom deep.” –

 

I wish I could finish my letter with a look into your eyes; there would I quickly draw out a pardon for my boldness and enclose it.  I should then not be anxious about my childish prattle, which yet for me is so much in earnest.  There it is carried to its destination, many miles in quick haste – the postman trumpets its arrival with full enthusiasm in the air, as if he triumphantly asked “what do I bring?” – and now Goethe breaks open his letter and finds the infantine prattle of a silly unimportant child.  Shall I still ask forgiveness?  Oh you well know how overjoyed, how full of sweet feeling the heart often is, though childish lips cannot find the word, scarcely the tone to give it birth.

BETTINE BRENTANO.

 

TO BETTINE FROM GOETHE, ENCLOSED IN

A LETTER TO HIS MOTHER

 

Such fruits, ripe and sweet, one would fain enjoy every day – the which one might be entitled to reckon among the most beautiful.

WOLFGANG GOETHE.

 

Dear mother, give this enclosed note to Bettine and beg her, to write to me still further.

 

TO GOETHE

May 25th

 

When the sun shines hottest, the blue sky is often clouded; we fear the storm and tempest, a sultry air oppresses the breast, but at last the sun conquers, and sinks tranquil and burnished in the lap of evening.

 

Thus was is with me after writing to you; I was oppressed, as when a tempest gives warning of its approach, and I often blushed at the thought, that you would find it wrong; at last my mistrust was dispelled by words which were few, but how dear!  If you only knew, what quick progress my confidence made in the same moment, that I knew you were pleased with it! – Kind, friendly man!  I am so unskilled in interpreting such delicious words, that I doubted their meaning; but your mother said “Don’t be so stupid, let him have written what he will, the meaning is, you shall write to him as often as you can and what you like.”  Oh I can impart nothing to you but that alone, which takes place in my heart.  Oh methought, could I now be with him, my sun of joy should illumine him with as bright a glow, as the friendly look with which his eye met mine.  Yes splendid indeed!  A purple sky my mind, a warm love-dew my words, the soul must come forth like a bride from her chamber, without veil and avow herself.  O! Master: in future I will see thee long and often by day, and often shall it be closed by such an evening.

 

I promise, that that which passes within me, untouched by the outward world, shall be secretly and religiously offered to him, who so willingly takes interest in me, and whose all-embracing power, promises the fulness of fruitful nourishment to the young germs of my breast.

 

Without the trust, the mind’s lot is a hard one; it grows slowly and needily, like a hot plant betwixt rocks; thus am I – thus was I, till today; and the fountain of the heart, which could stream nowhere forth, finds suddenly a passage into light, and banks of balsam-breathing field blooming like paradise, accompany its course.

 

Oh Goethe! My longing, my feeling, are melodies, which seek a song, to which they may adapt themselves.  Dare I do so? – then shall these melodies ascend high enough to accompany your songs.

 

Your mother wrote as from me, that I laid no claim to an answer to my letters, and that I would not rob that time which could produce for eternity: but so it is not; my soul cries like a thirsty babe; all this time, past and future, I would drink into myself, and my conscience would make me but small reproach, if the world from this time forth should learn but little from you, and I more.

 

- Remember in the mean time, that only a few words from you fill up a greater measure of joy than I expect from all futurity.

BETTINE

 

Your mother is very happy and in health; she drinks twice as much wine as last year, goes through wind and weather to the theatre, and in her overjoy sings to me, “O thou tender, constant soul, whose oath not even fate could break.”

 

Supplement

 

We have a contest, I and your mother; and it is now come so far, that I  must capitulate: the severe condition is, that I myself must relate the whole matter to you, how I have been in fault, and how your good mother has endured it so merrily and humorously; she has spun out of this a story, which she relates with thousandfold pleasure; she could write it much better herself, but will not; I must do it as my punishment and so I feel quite ashamed.

 

I was to bring Gall to her, but under his name introduced Tieck.  She directly threw off her head-dress, set herself down and requested Gall to examine her head, and see whether the great qualities of her son might not perhaps have passed over to him from her.  Tieck was in a great dilemna, for I would not allow him a moment to set your mother right; she immediately began a violent contest with me, desiring me to be quite silent and not set Gall into the track: just then came Gall himself and gave his name: your mother did not know to which to turn, particularly as I protested strongly against the right one; he nevertheless at last prevailed, for he held a fine speech over the great properties of her head, and I was pardoned, and obliged to promise never again to deceive her.  A few days after, a delightful opportunity of revenging myself, offered.  I introduced to her a young man from Strasburg, who shortly before had been with you; she asked politely after his name and before he could answer I said “The gentleman’s name is Wildgoose, he has visited your son at Weimar and brings you many greetings from him.”  She looked contemptuously at me and said to him “Dare I take the liberty of asking your name?” but again before he could legitimize himself I had again uttered the famous name “Wildgoose.”  Quite enraged at my rude treatment in miscalling the strange gentleman by this epithet of Wildgoose; she begged his pardon, said my wantoness had no bounds and often indeed bordered on folly.  I said “But the gentleman’s name is Wildgoose.” “Oh be silent”, said she, “how could a reasonable man be called Wildgoose?”  When the gentleman at last could edge in a word, and acknowledged that it was his evil-fate to be so named, it was delightful to hear the excuses and assurances of high respect on either side; they were as much amused with one another, as if they had been acquainted for years, and on his taking leave, your mother said with an heroical attempt “Farewell Sir Thomas Wildgoose – I never believed to have been able to have brought it over my tongue.”

 

Now that I have written, I first perceive how severe my punishment, for I have used up a large part of the sheet, without bringing in a word of my own concerns, which lie so near my heart.  Yes!  I am ashamed to say anything more to you to day, than to conclude my letter with assurance of reverence and love; but to morrow I begin a new letter and this shall be reckoned for nothing.

BETTINE.

 

TO GOETHE.

June 3rd

 

I have fetched the enclosed letter, from your mother to you, that I might write the earlier without being immodest. How willingly might I write to you quite intimately, like a child, and indeed without rhyme or reason, exactly as it comes into my head: - may I?  p.e., that I was in love for five days together: is that without rhyme?  Well, what is seen reflected in the stream of your youth?  Only see!  Heaven and Earth are painted there, hills and rainbows and lightning, parted thunder-clouds stand in beautiful order, and a loving heart moves through the midst to meet a more elevated happiness, and a still evening, crowns and sun-lit day in arm of the loved ones.

 

Therefore don’t by angry, that I was five days in love

BETTINE.

 

GOETHE TO BETTINE.

June 10th

 

The Poet is often so happy, as to be able to rhyme to that which is unrhymed, and so it may be granted you, dear child, to send him without consideration everything of this kind, which you have to communicate.

 

But oblige me with a fuller description of that, which held five-days-possession of your heart, and whether you are sure, that the enemy does not still lurk in ambush.  We, have also received news of a young man adorned with a great bear-skin cap, lingering in your neighborhood, under pretence of having his wounds healed, while he perhaps means to inflict the most dangerous ones.

 

Remember in these dangerous times, the friend, who finds it more suitable not to come in the way of your heart’s present caprice.

G

 

June 14th

 

DEAR GOETHE! DEAR FRIEND:

 

To day, I and your mother have made choice of what title I might give you; and she has left these two open to me, - I have written both; I look forward to the time when my pen shall dance quite otherwise, - unconcerned wherever the flame may glow, - when I may discover to you my secret heart, which beats so impetuously and yet trembles.  Will you also solve such unrhymed rhapsodies?  When I know myself surrounded by that same Nature, whose inward life becomes through your Spirit intelligible to me, then I often cannot distinguish them one from another; I lay myself down on the green turf with embracing arms, and feel myself as near to you as then, when in order to sooth the commotion in my heart, you, encircled by my arms, used the simple magic of your tranquil gaze, till I felt myself penetrated by the certainty of my happiness.

 

Dear Friend! Who dare believe that that, which has once been so fully acknowledged and understood could again be lost! No! – You are never far from me.  Your spirit smiles on me, and softly touches me from the first spring-morning to the latest winter-evening.

 

I can also explain, to you the love-secret of the bear-skin cap, and put you in the blush for your silent derision at my serious constancy.  Nothing is more charming, than the young plant, standing in full bloom, on which the finger of God, each fresh morning arranges the tender dew in pearls, and paints its leaves with fragrance. – Thus last year bloomed a pair of blue eyes from under the bear-skin cap, thus laughed and talked the agreeable lips, thus moved the graceful limbs, and so each question and answer proved a tender passion, and breathed forth in sighs the fragrance of the inmost heart, like this young plant.  I observed it and understood the beauty, but still was not in love; I introduced the young Hussar to Günderode, who was then sad; we were every evening together, - the spirit played with the heart; I heard and felt a thousand declarations and beautiful modulations, - and still I was not in love. – He departed: - one could see that the departure weighed on his heart; “if I do not return” said he “believe that the late period has been the most delicious of my life.”  I saw him spring down the steps, I saw his handsome form, in which worth and pride gave as it were, a reproof to his graceful youth: I saw him mount his horse and ride forth into the shower of balls, - and I did not sigh after him.

 

This year he came again, with a scarce healed wound upon his breast; he was pale and languid, and remained with us five days.  In the evening, when all were gathered round the tea-table, I sat in the dark recess of the room, in order to observe him.  He played on the guitar, and I held a flower before the light, and let its shadow play upon his fingers, - this was my height of daring; - my heart beat with anxiety, lest he should remark it: I retired again into the shade and kept my flower, which at night I laid under my pillow.  This was the last great incident in the love-comedy of five days.

 

This youth, whose mother may be proud of his beauty, of whom your mother related, that he was the son of the first warm-beloved of my beloved friend, has touched my heart.

 

And now that friend may interpret, why this year, heart and eye were opened to him, and not the last.

 

Thou hast waked me in the midst of warm summer-breath, and as I lifted my eyes I saw ripe apples, waving above me from golden boughs, and I longed for them.

 

Adieu! in your mother’s letter there is much about Gall and the brain, in mine much about the heart.

 

Pray, in your letters do not greet Doctor Schlosser and me any more in one paragraph, it hurts my poor pride too much.

BETTINE.

 

Thy child, they heart! Thy good

Girl: who loves Goethe above

All, and can console herself for

All, with his remembrance.

 

TO GOETHE.

June 18th

 

Yesterday I sat opposite your mother on my ottoman; she looked at me and said: “Well what is it? Why don’t you look at me?”  I wanted her to relate me something; and had buried my head in my arms.  “No” said she “if you won’t look at me, I will relate nothing”, and as I could not conquer my caprice, she was quite silent. – I walked up and down the three long narrow rooms, and as often as I passed by her, she looked at me, as much as to say: “How long is this to last?”  At last she said: “Listen to me! I thought you were going!” “Where” asked I. – “To Weimar, to Wolfgang, to fetch some respect for his mother.”  Ah Mother if that were possible!” said I and fell upon her neck and kissed her, and ran up and down the room.  “Well” said she “why should it not be possible? The way is unbroken, there is no chasm between: I don’t know what prevents thee, if thou hast such a tremendous longing: - one mile forty times repeated is the whole matter, and then thou comest back and relatest every thing to me.”

 

Now have I dreamt the whole night of this one mile, which I am to make forty times, it is indeed true; your mother is right; after chacing through forty hours, I should lay on my friend’s heart.  On this earth I can find him, the roads are travelled ones, everything points out the path, the star of heaven lights on to his threshold, the children on the way call to me “there he lives.”  What keeps me back? – I alone am witness to my ardent longing; and should not I allow myself what I beg and entreat – that I may take courage?  No I am not alone; these yearning thoughts take to themselves forms; they look me in the eyes, inquiring how I could waste my life, without going hand in hand with him, and eye to eye consuming in their mutual fires.  O Goethe, bear with me, I am not every day so weak, as to cast myself down before thee, and not to cease weeping, till thou hast promised all to me.  The thought that I would be with thee, goes like a burning sword through my heart: - with thee! nothing else: as life now lies before me.  I know nothing more which I could ask; I wish to know nothing new – nothing shall stir, not the leaf on the tree; the breezes shall be hushed: time itself shall be still, and thou shall endure in tranquility, till all my pains become stilled on thy bosom.

 

June 19th

 

Yesterday evening, dear Goethe, it happened thus to me: the draught tore open the door, and extinguished the light, by which I had been writing to you. – My windows were open and the blinds let down – the storm-breeze was playing with them; a violent thunder-shower fell, and my little canary-bird was waked up: he flew out into the storm, he cried for me, and I employed the whole night in alluring him back.  Not before the storm ceased, did I lie down to sleep: I was tired and very sad too about my dear bird.  While I was studying Grecian History with Günderode, I drew maps, and when I drew the seas, he helped me to shade them: so that I was quite astonished, how assiduously he always scratched here and there with his little beak.

 

Now he is gone; the storm certainly cost him his life: then I thought, had I but flown forth to seek thee, and came through storm and tempest to thy door, which thou wouldst not open to me – no! thou hadst not been there: thou hadst not waited for me, as I did the whole night for my little bird.  Thou hast others to commune with – thou movest in other spheres: now, it is the stars, which hold counsel with thee, then, the deep precipitous rock-caverns: now, thy glance moves prophet-like through fields of mist and air, and then, thou takest the colours of the flowers and espousest them with Light: thou findest thy lyre ever strung, and if it came glancing to thee decked with fresh garlands, though wouldst ask: “Who has twined for me this beautiful wreath?”  Thy song would soon scorch these flowers; they would hang their heads, they would lose their colour, and fall un-noticed to the ground.

 

All the thoughts which love prompts within me, every ardent longing and wish, I can compare only to such field-flowers:- they unconsciously open their golden eyes over the green meadows, they laugh a while to the blue heaven, then a thousand stars burn above them, and dance around the moon, and cover the trembling tear-laden flowers with night and deep slumber.  Even thus Poet! Art thou a moon, surrounded by the starry host of thy inspirations; but my thoughts lie in a valley, like the field-flowers, and sink in night before thee, and my inspiration fails before thee, and all my thoughts slumber beneath thy firmament.

BETTINE.

 

GOETHE TO BETTINE

June 18th

 

My dear child!  I accuse myself that I have not earlier given thee a proof, how full of enjoyment, how refreshing it is to me, to be able to view the rich life which flows in thy heart.  Be it a want in myself, that I can say to thee but little – then is it want of composure under all which thou impartest to me.

 

I write in haste, for I fear to tarry there, where such abundance is poured upon me.  Continue to make thy home with my mother (thou art become too dear to her, that she can miss thee) and reckon upon my love and thanks.

G.

 

TO GOETHE

Frankfort, June 29th

 

If I allowed my heart to pour itself through my pen, thou wouldst throw many a page of mine aside; for of thee and of me, and of my love alone – this would be the well-known and eternal subject.

 

I have it at my finger’s ends, and feel that I must relate to thee, what I dream of thee at night, not considering that thou art here in the world for other ends.  I have often the same dream; and it has already caused me much consideration, why my soul always holds communion with thee, under the same conditions: it is as if I would dance before thee; I am clothed ethereally, I have a feeling that I could succeed in every attempt: the crowd surround me, I search for thee; there thou art, sitting quietly opposite to me: it is as if thou didst not mark me, but wert otherwise employed; - now I step  before thee, gold-shoed, my silver arms hanging negligently, and there wait: then thou liftest up thy head, thy gaze fixes involuntarily upon me, with slow steps I draw magic circles – thy eye leaves me no more, thou art compelled to follow me, where ever I turn, and I feel the triumph of success:- in the dance I show thee all that, which thou couldst scarce forebode, and thou wonderest at the wisdom which I dance before thee: soon I throw off my airy robe and show thee my wings, and rise aloft: then I please myself as thy eye follows me; then I float down again and sink into thy embracing arms: then thou breathest forth sighs, and quite penetrated, lookest up to me.  Waking from these dreams, I return to mankind as from a far distance, their voices seem strange to me, and their features also; - and now let me confess that at this confession of my dreams my tears flow.  Once you sang for me: “O let me seem till I become, Put not off, my garment white.” These magic charms, these magic powers are my white robe.  I also entreat, that it may continue mine till I be changed: but Master! This forebading will not be disputed, that this white robe will be put off from me, and that I shall fall into the common everyday-life, and that this World in which my senses live, will sink down; that, which I ought protectingly to preserve, I shall betray; there, where I ought patiently to submit, I shall seek revenge: and there, where my artless childlike wisdom beckons, there, I shall bid defiance and lay claim to a higher knowledge but the most mournful thing will be, that I like all the rest, shall burden with the name of sin, that which is none, - and for this I shall be rightly served.  Thou art my protecting altar, - to thee will I flee; this love, this mighty love which rules between us, and the knowledge which it imparts to me, and the revelations – they shall be my protecting walls; they will free me from those, who would judge me.

THY CHILD.

 

TO GOETHE.

 

The day before yesterday we went to see Egmont they all cried “splendid!” after the play, we went according to Frankfort custom, up and down under the moonlit Linden-trees: there I heard it a thousand times reechoed.  Little Dalberg was with us: he had seen your mother at the play and desired I would introduce him to her; she was just about to make her night-toilette, but as she heard he came from the Primate’s, she let him in; she had already put on her white negligee-jacket, but her head dress was still entire.  The aimable elegant Dalberg said to her, that his uncle had during the performance seen from above, her joy-glancing eyes and wished to speak with her before his departure, and whether she would dine with him the next day.  Your mother, was very finely dressed at this diner, which was attended by highnesses and other remarkable personages, out of compliment to whom your mother was probably invited, and who all pressed upon her, to see and speak with her.  She was in excellent spirits and eloquent, and only sought to get away from me.  She afterwards told me she was anxious, lest I should bring her into trouble; but I believe, she played me a trick, for the Primate said many strange things to me about you, and that your mother had told him, I had a lofty and elegant mind.  Then he took a handsome Englishman by the hand, a brother-in-law of Lord Nelson and said: “this gentleman, with the aquiline nose shall lead you to table, he is the handsomest man in company; be satisfied;” the Englishman smiled, but understood nothing of what was said. – At table he changed my glass, out of which I had drunk, and begged my permission to drink out of it, or the wine would not please him; this I allowed, and every sort of wine which was placed before him, he poured into this glass and drank it with looks of enthusiasm.  It was a curious dinner-conversation: at one time he moved his foot close to mine and asked me what was my favourite amusement: I said: I dance rather than walk, and fly rather than dance – and therewith I drew back my foot.  I had placed my little nosegay which I wore, in the finger-glass, that it might not so soon wither, and to be able to wear it again after dinner: he asked “Will you give me this?” I nodded to him; he took it to smell, and kissed it: he placed it in his bosom and buttoned his waistcoat over it, and sighed, and then he saw that I grew red.  His face ran over with a look of kindness, he turned to me, without lifting up his eyes, as if he would entreat me to observe his pleasing features; his foot again sought mine and with a soft voice he said “Be good, pretty girl.”  I could not be unfriendly to him and yet I was willing to retreat with honour; so I fastened one end of my long sash round his leg and tied it cleverly fast to the leg of the table, quite secretly, that no one saw it; he allowed it and I said “be good, pretty boy.”  And now we were full of fun and chat to the end of dinner, and indeed it was a tender sort of merriment between us, and I willingly enough allowed him to press my hand to his heart, as he kissed it.

 

I told my tale to your mother, who said, I must write it to you, for it was a pretty adventure for you, and that you alone would interpret it well.   And it is true; thou who knowest how willingly I would lay my neck beneath thy feet, will not scold me, that I gave to the boldness of the Englishman who played with my foot, no severer repulse.  – Thou who hast knowledge of love and the spirituality of sense, ah! how beautiful is everything in thee! with what a power the streams of life rush through thy excited heart and precipitate themselves with force into the cold waters of thy time, foaming up, so that mountain and vale smoke with the life-glow, and the woods stand with glowing stems on thy shores and all on which thou lookest, becomes filled with beauty and with life.  O God, how fain would I now be with thee! and if I were in flight far beyond all time and floated over thee – I must close my pinions and tranquilly stoop to the almightiness of thy eyes.

 

Men will not always understand thee; and they who pretend to stand nearest to thee, will deny thee most.  I see in the future, how they will cry “Stone him.”  Now that thy own inspiration like a lion, is on thy side to watch thee, thee vulgar will not dare thee.

 

Your Mother lately remarked that, the people of the present time, are all like Mr. Gerning, who always says “We private literati” and he speaks the truth, for he is not for the public.

 

Rather be dead, than live for myself alone!  But I am not so, for I am thine, because I recognize thee in all.  I know that when the clouds tower up before the day-God, he soon presses them down again with glowing hand; I know that he endures no shade, but that which he himself seeks under the laurels of his own glory; (the quiet of conscience will overshadow thee) – I know that when he bows himself over evening, he raises his golden head again at morning. – Thou art immortal – therefore it is good to be with thee.

 

When I am alone at evening in my dark room, and the neighbour’s lights shine upon the wall, (sometimes too wandering lights shine upon thy bust) or when at night, all in the town is still, - here and there a dog barks, a cock crows, - I know not why this often affects me with a more than human power; I know not for pain where to turn. – I would speak with thee otherwise than by words; I would fix myself upon thy heart; - I feel that my soul flames. – As the air becomes so fearfully still before the storm, exactly so cold and motionless are my thoughts and my heart heaves like the sea.  Dear, dear Goethe! – then, does the remembrance of thee again dissolve me; the signs of fire and war recede slowly from my heaven, and thou art like the streaming moon-beams.  Thou art great and splendid and better than all which I have yet known, seen or heard. – Thy whole life is too good.

 

TO BETTINE

 

July 16th 1807

 

What can one say and give to thee, which is not already in a more beautiful way become thy own?  Own must be silent and give thee thy way.  When an opportunity offers to beg something of thee, then, one may let his thanks for the much which has unexpectedly been given through the richness of thy love, flow in the same stream.  That thou cherishest my mother, I would fain with my whole heart requite thee: - from yonder a sharp breeze blew upon me and now that I know thou art with her, I feel safe and warm.

 

I do not say to thee “come”.  I will not have the little bird disturbed from its nest; but the accident would not be unwelcome to me, which should make use of storm and tempest to bring it safely beneath my roof.  At any rate, dearest Bettine, remember that thou art on the road to spoil me.

 

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Wartburg, August 1st at night.

 

My Friend, I am alone: all things sleep and the thought, that it is so lately since I was together with thee, keeps me waking.  Perhaps Goethe, this was the highest event of my life: perhaps it was the richest, most blissful moment; brighter days shall never come to me – I would refuse them.

 

It was indeed a “last kiss”, with which I was compelled to part, for I believed I must for ever hang upon thy lips; and as I drove through the walks and trees, under which we had wandered together, I thought I must hold fast by each trunk; - but they disappeared; the green, well known spaces, melted in the distance, the loved meadows and thy dwelling were long faded away, the blue distance seemed alone to keep watch over the enigma of my life.  But even the distance was lost, - and now nothing was left me but my ardent longing, and my tears flowed at this parting.  Ah! then I reflected upon all; how thou hast wandered with me in the night-hours, and hast smiled upon me, as I interpreted the cloud pictures, and my love and, my beautiful dreams, and hast listened with me to the whispering of the leaves in the night-wind, to the stillness of the distant, far extended night: - and hast loved me, that I know.  As thou ledst me by the hand along the path, I perceived in thy breath, in the tone of thy voice – in something (how shall I describe it to thee) which breathed around me, that thou receivedst me to an inward, a secret life, and that in this moment thou hadst devoted thyself to me alone, coveting nothing more than to be with me: and of all this, - who shall rob me? – what have I lost?  My friend!  I have all that I have ever enjoyed: and wherever I go, my happiness is my home.

 

How the rain-drops rattle against the small round windows, and how fearfully the wind roars!  I had already lain in bed and turned myself on my side and wished to sleep in thee, in thinking on thee.  What does it mean “To sleep in the Lord?”  This saying often occurs to me, when between sleeping and waking, I feel myself busy with thee; - I know well, how it is.  The whole earthly day passes away from him who loves, as this earthly life does from the soul: she is laid claim to, here and there, and though she promises not to lose sight of herself, yet at last she has marked her way through the web of time and always under the secret condition, of holding at one time, communion with the beloved; but the hours in passing by, lay each their request or command upon her: and there is a resistless will in man, which constrains him to betake himself to everything: this power he allows to have sway over him, as the sacrifice allows the sway, which it knows conducts it to the altar. – And thus the soul sleeps in the Lord, wearied of its whole lifetime, which was its Tyrant and now lets sink the sceptre.  Then divine dreams arise and take her to their lap and bemantle her; and their magic vapours become continually fuller, and close around the soul, that she knows herself no more – this is her rest in the grave.  Thus every night dreams arise when I will think of thee and I allow myself without opposition to be cradled therein, for I feel that my bed of clouds rises upwards with me!

 

If you have this night been kept watching, you must have at least an idea of the tremendous storm.  Just now I was determined to be quite strong and have no fear, but the wind gave so powerful a gust and dashed against the windows and howled to piteously that I felt compassion; and then it tore open the heavy door so maliciously, it wanted to extinguish my lamp.  I sprung upon the table and protected it, and I looked through the open door towards the dark gallery, to be quite ready if ghosts should enter: I trembled with heart-beating anxiety: there I saw something forming without in the passage, and it really was as if two men who held one another by the hand were about to enter: one was in white and broad-shouldered, the other in black and friendly-looking, and I thought “That is Goethe!”  Then I sprang down from the table to meet you, and ran through the door up the dark passage which I had feared, and went to the end to meet you; and my whole anxiety was changed into longing and I was sad that the spirits did not come, you and the Duke. – You have often been here together, you two affectionate brethren.

 

Good night!  I am curious for to morrow: it must show what the Storm has done; the cracking of trees and hissing of water must mean something.

 

August 2nd

 

This morning the sun waked me at half past four:  I don’t think I have slept two hours, and it must shine directly in my eyes.  The breaking clouds and whirl-winds have just passed away; golden tranquillity is spreading itself from out the morning sky.  I saw the waters collect and seek their way through rochy beds to the flood below; fallen firs broke the foaming torrent, and pieces of rock divided its course – it was irresistible: it tore along with it all that could not stem its force. – Then a powerful desire came over me (I could not stem it either); I shortened my garments, the morning-wind held me in by the hair; I placed my hands on my sides to preserve my balance, and sprang down with bold leaps from one crag to another, now on this side, now on that, the foaming water my companion, till I arrived below; there lay, as if cleft by an axe to the very roots, half the trunk of a hollow linden across the gathering floods.

 

O dearest friend! he who drinks the morning mist, and courses along with the fresh gale, the scent of the young plants penetrating to his breast and rising to his head; then, when the temples beat and the cheeks glow, and he shakes the rain-drops from his hair – what a joy is that!

 

I rested myself on the prostrated trunk, and there I discovered among the thick foliage of the boughs, numberless bird’s nests, little titmice with black heads and white throats, seven in one nest, and yellow finches and bulfinches; the parent birds fluttered about my head and feed their young: ah if they should succeed in fledging them in so perilous a situation! only think: fallen down from the blue sky to the earth, across a foaming flood! if one of the little birds fall out, it must be drowned, and the nests hang all on one side. – But the thousand bees and gnats which buzzed about me, all seeking nourishment in the linden – if you could only have seen all this with me! no fair could be more busy, and all were so at home; each sought his little inn under the blossoms where it put up, and then flew busily away and met its neighbour; and they hummed as they passed by one another, as if they told where good beer was to be had cheap. – What do I chatter to you about the linden? – and still there is not yet enough of it: the trunk still hangs to the roots: I looked up to the top of the standing tree, which must now drag half its life along the ground, and in autumn die off.  Dear Goethe! if I had my cottage there in the solitary ravine, and I were accustomed to wait for thee, what a great event had this been! how I should have sprung to meet thee and from afar have called to thee “only think! our linden!”  And thus indeed it is: I am enclosed in my love as in a lonely cottage and my life is, to wait for thee beneath the linden; where remembrance and presence yield their scent, and longing entices on the future.  Ah dear Wolfgang! when the cruel tempest cleaves the linden, and the more strong and luxuriant half, falls with all the life which is moving within it, to the ground, and its green foliage sadly withers over an evil fate, as over the headlong mountain torrents, and the young broods in its branches are destroyed; o! then think that one half yet stands, and that in it all remembrance, all life which springs forth from it will be borne up to heaven.

 

Adieu!  Now we proceed on our journey, and to morrow I shall not be so near to you, that the letter which I write early in the morning, can amuse you late at night. – ah let it amuse thee as if I myself were there – tenderly!

 

I shall remain fourteen days at Cassel, from whence I will write to your mother; she does not yet know that I have seen you.

 

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

 

With many a thousand kiss unsated still,

Must yet with one more kiss, the farewell bless:

At such a parting (deep-felt wretchedness)

The much-loved shore – with all its flood and hill,

 

Dwellings and mountains, while my straining sight

Had power to hold it – was my gladness’ store:

But soon, blue distance gathered in the shore,

And all stood clad in darkness dimly bright.

 

At length, when ocean bounded in the view,

Back to my heart, my ardent longing sped;

Full-grieved, the lost, my tearful search employed.

 

‘Twas then as though o’er heaven a brightness flew,

It seemed as if nought – nought my grasp were fled,

As had I all that I had e’er enjoyed.

 

_____

 

A stream foams forth, from mist-wreathed rocky bed,

With ocean’s waters hastening to unite;

Wate’er be mirrored there, from height to height, -

On to the vale, its constant course is sped.

 

But with one rush, see!  Boreas headlong bounds –

Her, follow cliff and wood in whirling wind

Down to the flood, - enjoyment there to find:

And hems the course, the broad’ning basin rounds.

 

The water bursts in spray, curls back, recedes,

Crests up the cliff, - to swallow up itself;

And hemmed to father Ocean is his strife.

 

It wavers, rests, to the smooth lake recedes –

In glancing waves rippling on rocky shelf,

The mirrored stars behold: - another life

 

The flying pages, dearest Bettine, came exactly at the right time, to assist me in supporting my sorrow at thy departure.  Enclosed I send thee back a part of those pages.  Thou seest how one tries to revenge oneself on time (which robs us of all that is dearest) and to immortalize blissful moments.  Mayest thou see the value which the poet must entertain for thee, therein reflected.

 

Should thy wandering life last any longer, neglect not to give me news of every thing: I follow with pleasure, wherever thy fairy spirit leads thee.

 

I enclose these pages to my mother, which she may send to thee at a fitting time, as I do not exactly know thy address.  Farewell and let thy promises be realized.

 

Weimar, August 7th 1807

 

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Cassel, August 13th 1807

 

Who can imagine or fathom all that passes within me?  I am now almost happier in the remembrance of the past, than I then was in enjoyment of the present; my excited heart, the surprise of being with thee, this coming and going, and returning in a few days, came all like clouds driving along my sky: it must, by my being too near, at the same time receive my shadow, as it is ever darker where it is near the earth: now in the distance it becomes serene, high and perfectly clear.

 

I would fain press thy hand with both mine upon my heart, and tell thee how peace and fullness are come upon me since I have known thee.

 

I know that it is not the evening, which now breaks in upon my life; oh that it were!  Would that my days were already passed, and that my wishes and my joys would all twine themselves up thee, so that thou mightst be covered and crowned by them, as with an evergreen foliage.

 

But you were, the evening I was alone with you, so that I could not comprehend you.  You laughed at me, when I was moved, and you laughed aloud when I cried; but why? And yet it was thy laughing, the tone of thy laughing which moved me to tears, as it was my tears which made thee laugh: and I am content, and from under the cover of this enigma I see roses bursting forth, which spring at once from sorrow and from joy.  Yes!  Prophet thou art right!  I shall often with light heart root my way through fun and merriment, I shall sport myself weary, as in infancy (ah! it seems but yesterday,) when I merrily played about the blooming fields, pressing down every thing, and tore up the flowers by their roots, to cast them into the water:-  but on sweet, warm, secure earnest I will repose, and this art thou, laughing prophet!

 

I say to thee once again; who in the wide world can understand what passes within me, how I rest so quietly in thee, so still, so without wavering of feeling: I could, like the mountains, yield days and nights over to the past, without even shrinking in the remembrance of thee.  And yet, when the wind sometimes carried to the mountain-tops scent and seeds from the whole blooming world, the mountains are intoxicated as I was yesterday: for I loved the world and was blessed as the bubbling spring, into which the sun shines for the first time.

 

Farewell, thou most beloved, who dazzlest me and makest me timid.  From this steep rock, up which my love with danger of life has dared, I cannot again descend, it is not to be thought of: I should inevitably break my neck.

 

BETTINE

 

So far had I written yesterday: this morning I sat on a stool, and read silent and without thought or motion in a chronicle, for I was being painted, as you shall soon see, - then they brought me the blue cover, and I left off reading and found myself there represented in divine splendour, and for the first time I believed in my bliss.

 

What do I want?  I cannot conceive; thou stunnest me, each little noise distresses me: - O! if the whole world were still, and I needed to know no more, after this one moment which gives me pain and to which I shall ever return! – Ah, and what shall I with thee? – not much.  Often and warmly to look upon thee, to accompany thee into thy quiet home, to question thee in leisure hours of thy past and present life, as I have questioned thy countenance of its past and present beauty. – In the library I could not resist raising myself up to thy young bust, and like a nightingale, there to wet my beak: thou broad, full stream, how didst thou foam through the luxuriant region of thy youth, and but lately took thy quiet way through thy meadows: ah! and I threw rocks before thee, and as thou tower’dst up again, indeed it was not to wonder at, for I had rooted myself so deeply.

 

O Goethe! – the god above is a great Poet; he shapes destinies, free floating in ether, of splendid forms.  Our poor heart is the mother’s bosom, from which he gives them to be born with great pain, the heart despairs, but those destinies rise upwards, and joyfully they resound in the heavenly regions.  Thy songs are the seed; it falls into the well-spread heart;- I feel, that let it be what it may, it will, freed from the burden of earth, rise upwards as a heavenly song, and consecrate to the god above, these pains and this longing and these aspirations, as shoots of the young laurel-tree, and blessed will that heart be, which has borne these pains.

 

Dost thou see how well I understand to speak so seriously with thee, to day? – more so than ever before, and because thou art young and excellent, and more excellent than all, thou wilt also understand me.  Through thee I am become quite mild: by day I busy myself with mankind, with music and books, and at evening when I am weary and will sleep, the flood of my love rushes tumultuously through my heart.  Then I see pictures: all that Nature presents to the senses, surrounds thee and speaks for thee; thou appearest to me on lofty heights, I overtake thee between mountain walls, in winding paths, and thy countenance paints enigmas, delightful to solve.  That day, on which I parted from thee with the one kiss, with which I did not part – I was in the morning nearly a whole hour alone in the room where the piano stands: I sat in a corner on the ground and thought to myself: “It cannot be helped, I must cry once more,” and thou wert quite near to me and didst not know it, and I wept with laughing lips, for the firm green land appeared to me through the mournful mist.  Thou camest and I said to thee very briefly, laying a restraint upon myself, how dear thou wert to me.

 

To-morrow I go to Frankfort, there I will pay your mother all love and all reverence, for happy is the body, which has borne thee.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

August 21st

 

You can have no notion, with what joy your mother received me: directly as I came in, she chased all the others away who were with her.  “Now Gentlemen,” said she, “here comes one, who has something to say to me,” and so all were obliged to leave the house.  As soon as we were alone, she wanted me to relate, then I knew nothing. “But what happened on thy arrival?”  “It was deplorable weather.” “I want to know nothing of the weather, but about Wolfgang; what happened when thou camest to him?”  “I did not come, he came.” “Well, where?” “To the Elephant, at midnight, three pairs of stairs up: all were already fast asleep, the lamps in the hall extinguished the gate was locked, and the landlord had the key under his pillow, and was already snoring aloud.”  Well how did he get in then?”  “He rung the bell twice, and as for the third time he pulled the bell long and loud, they opened the door to him.” “And thou?” “I in my garret knew nothing of it.  Meline had been in bed a long time and slept in the recess with drawn curtains; I lay upon the sofa, and had clasped my hands over my head, observing how the reflection of the night-lamp, like a great round moon played on the ceiling; then I heard a rustling at the door, and my heart started up instantly.  I heard a knocking as I listened, but as it was quite impossible at this late hour, and all was still, I would not attend to my presaging heart: - and there he entered, enveloped to the chin in his cloak, and shut the door softly after him, and looked round about, to see where he might find me: I lay in a corner of the sofa rolled up in darkness, and was silent.  Then he took off his hat, and as I saw the glancing forehead and searching look, and as the lips asked: “Now, where art thou?”  I uttered a low cry of amazement at my own bliss, and then – he had found me.”

 

Your mother thinks, this would be a fine story at Weimar.  The Minister paying a visit at midnight, in the Elephant, up three pairs of stairs! – Yes! the story is indeed a fine one! Now when I read it over, I am charmed, surprized, carried away, that all this should have happened to me; and I ask thee, what hour of thy life can come so late, that this shall not touch thy heart?  As thou layst in the cradle, no one could have foreseen, what thou wouldst be, and as I lay in the cradle, no one sung to me, that I should at one time embrace thee.

 

Here I found everything in the old way: my fig-tree has brought forth fruit and spread forth its leaves: my little garden on the great balcony; which stretches from one wing of the house to the other, is in full bloom; the hops have climbed to the roof; in their arbour I have placed my writing-desk: there I sit and write to thee and dream of thee, when my head is drunk with the sun-beams; ah! how I love to lay in the sun and let myself be burned through and through.

 

Yesterday I passed by the Priory: from old habit I rang the bell, and then I ran towards the narrow passage, which leads to what was Günderode’s dwelling.  The door is still locked up, no other has yet set foot over the threshold; I kissed the threshold, over which she had so often come to me, and I to her. – Ah! if she were now alive, what a new existence would open to her, when I should relate all – how we, in those hours of night have sat so still by one another, with locked hands, and how the single tones, which fell from thy lips, penetrated to my heart.  I write this to thee here, that thou mayst never forget it.  Friend, I could sometimes be jealous of thy sweetness: the Graces are female, they glide before thee: where thou enter’st, there is holy order (for all even chance fits itself to thee at thy appearance) – they surround thee, they hold thee prisoner and under discipline – for perhaps thou art often otherwise inclined, but the Graces will not all it, - yes! they are far nearer to thee, they have more power over thee than I.

 

The Primate too invited me, when he heard, that I came from Weimar; I must tell him about you, and I related to him everything, which could give him pleasure.  Thy maiden, adorned herself; she wished to do thee honour – yes I wished to be beautiful, because I love thee, and because one knows that thou likest me – a pink satin gown with black velvet sleeves and black boddice, and a sweet nosegay at my heart, while a golden lace confined my black locks.  Thou hast never seen me dressed; I can assure thee my glass is on such occasions very friendly; and this makes me happy, so that I am always merry, when I am dressed.  The Primate too found me pretty, and called the colour of my gown “préjugé vaincu”; “no” said I: “Marlborough s’enva-t-en guerre, qui sait quand il reviendra.” – “Le voilà de retour” said he, and led forth my Englishman, who three weeks ago had dined with him at supper.  He said many tender things to me in English, which I would not understand, and to which I gave him cross answers; so I was very merry.  As I returned to a late hour, my chamber was filled with a sweet scent, and there was a tall flower, from which this fragrance streamed forth, and which I had not yet seen – a nyctauthes; a foreign servant who spoke no German had brought it for me.  This then was a kind present from the Englishman, who had taken his departure that night.  I stood alone before my flower and examined it, and its scent seemed to me like incense. – The Englishman understood the way to please me.

 

The Primate has also given me some commissions.  I am to inform you that when your son comes, he must visit him in Aschaffenburg, to which place he is about to go – but as he will not come before Easter, the Primate will be here again.

 

Thy child kisses thy hand.

 

Your Mother sent for me to day, and said she had a letter from you; would not let me look into it, and said, you wished me to write a few lines to the Dux, because he had the goodness, to take care of my fallen Linden tree, and that thou callest entering into my elegiac feelings. – Dearest Friend!  I cannot bear, that another should enter into those feelings, which are for you alone; so drive him out again, and be you alone in me and don’t make me jealous.

 

But say to the Dux, what my devotion here prompts; that there is another lofty tree, for his care of which, I thank him: whose blooming boughs stretch far beyond the borders of this land into other regions of this world, yielding fruits and fragrant shade.  For care of this tree, for the spring of kindness which waters it, for the soil of love and friendship, from which it draws inspiring nourishment, my heart remains eternally chained and then I also thank him, that he does not forge the Wartburger Linden.

 

TO BETTINE

 

September 5th

 

Thou hast shewn thyself dear Bettine, truly a little Divinity, wise and mighty, perceiving and fulfulling all one’s wants. – And shall I scold or praise thee, that thou hast made me again a child?  For with childish joy I portioned out thy present, taking also my part.  The package came just before dinner; under cover, I carried it there, where thou hadst once sat, and drank to Augustus out of the beautiful glass.  How astonished he was, when I made him a present of it. Reimer was invested with cross and purse.  No one could guess whence it came.  I also exhibited the skilful and elegant knife and fork; - then the house-wife became fretful, that she must go away empty.  After a pause, in order to try her patience, I at last drew forth, the beautiful gown-piece: the riddle was solved, and every one was zealous and joyful in thy praise.

 

Therefore when I turn over this page, I have still nothing to offer but praise and thanks: the choice elegance of the presents was surprising.  Connoisseurs were called in, to admire the pretty wrestlers; enough, - a festival took place, as if thou thyself wert come again. – And thou dost come again to me in each of thy dear letters, and yet under so new and surprising a form, that one would believe, one had not yet seen thee in that light: and thou knowest so charmingly how to relate thy little adventures, that one willingly suffers the jealous whims, which will then sometimes intrude, only to come to the quaint termination of the joke.  Thus it was with the humorous episode about the Englishman, whose unseemly boldness led him at last to afford a proof of his fine and gentlemanly feeling.  I am very grateful for such communications, which certainly might not please every body: may the confidence increase, which brings me so much, that I would not now willingly miss; I must here also offer a word of praise for the manner in which thou hast come to an understanding with my most Worshipful Master.  He could not either help wondering at thy diplomatic talents. Thou art most lovely my little dancer; at each turn unexpectedly throwing one the garland.  And now I hope soon to have news of how thou livest with my good mother, how thou takest care of her, and what pleasant past-times rise again before you two.

 

Dear Meline’s cap is also arrived.  I dare not say it aloud, but it becomes none so well as her.  Friend Stollen’s attention on the blue paper was after all agreeable to thee.   Adieu my sweet child! write soon, that I may again have something to translate.

 

TO GOETHE

 

September 17th

 

Friendly man! you are too good; you receive all that which I write in the cheerful overflowing of my heart, as if it were of ever so much worth; but I feel in your friendly condescension, that you love me, like a child which brings grass and weeds, thinking that it has gathered together a choice nosegay: so also one smiles upon it and says: “how beautiful a nosegay, how pleasant a scent, it shall blossom in my garden; I will plant it here under my window,” and yet it is composed only of rootless field-flowers which soon wither.  But I see with joy how thou takest me up into thyself, how thou there holdest simple flowers, which must have faded at evening, in the fire of immortality and then sendest them back to me.  – Doest thou name that “translating” when divine genius divides the ideal nature from the earthly one, purifies it, unveils it, makes it again acquainted with itself, and thus solves the question, how to become blessed; yes!  Goethe thus thou changest the sighs, which my yearning love breathes forth, into spirits which surround me on the path of bliss and hasten, alas! far before me on the way of immortality.

 

What holy adventure, which rises bold and proud under the protection of Eros, can reach a more glorious goal than I have reached in thee? where thou with joy grantest to me: “Hemmed were to father Ocean thy strife.” – Oh believe me! never can I drink to satiety of these outpourings of love: ever do I feel myself borne by the “raging storms” to thy feet and in this “new life, in which my happy stars are reflected, I feel myself drowning in bliss.

 

These tears which pale my writing, I would fain string like pearls, and adorned with them appear before thee and say to thee; “compare their pure water with thy other treasures:” and then thou shouldst hear my heart beat as on that evening when I knelt before thee.

 

Mysteries float around those who love, they cover them with their magic veil, from which beautiful dreams unfold themselves.  Thou sittest with me on green banks, and drinkest dark wine out of golden goblets, and pourest the last drops upon my brow.  From this dream I waked to day, full of joy that thou art kindly disposed to me.  I believe that thou takest part in such dreams, that in such moments thou lovest; - whom else could I thank for this happy existence of thou didst not give it me?  And then when I wake to the every day life, all is so indifferent to me; and what ever may offer itself – I gladly do without; yes! I would fain be separated from all that which one calls happiness, and only keep the inward secret, that thy spirit enjoy my love even as my soul is nourished by thy goodness.

 

I shall write of your mother? – well it is odd enough, but we are no longer so chatty together as formerly, although not a single day passes without my seeing her.  As I returned from my journey, I was obliged to play the part of relater; and although I would rather have been silent, yet there was no end of her questions nor of her curiosity to hear.  I am irresistibly charmed when she gazes on me with her great infant-eyes, in which the most perfect enjoyment sparkles.  So my tongue was loosened, and by degrees much of the heart too, which one cannot otherwise easily express again.

 

October 2nd

 

Your mother has a sly way of bringing me to narration: for instance she says “To day is beautiful weather; Wolfgang will certainly go to his summer-house, it must be beautiful there, it lies in a dale doesn’t it?”  “No, it stands on a hill and the garden also ascends the hill-side behind the house; there are large trees of fine growth and beautiful foliage.”  “Indeed! And there at evening thou hast wandered with him out of the Roman house?” “Yes, I have told you the story twenty times already.” “Well! tell it once more.  You had light in the house?” “no, we sat on the seat before the door and the moon shone bright.” “Well and there was a cold wind?” “No, it wasn’t at all cold, it was warm and the air was quite still, and we were still too.  The ripe fruits fell from the trees and he said “there falls another apple and rolls down the hill” and then I shivered.  Wolfgang said “Darling! thou art cold” and threw his cloak over me, which I pulled tightly around me and I held his hand fast and so the time passed away – and we both got up together and went hand in hand through the lonely meadow-grounds – each step resounded to my heart in the noiseless stilness, - the moon broke from behind every bush and lighted us; then Wolfgang stopped and smiled on me in the moonlight and said to me “thou art my dear heart” and then led me to his house, and – that was all.” – “And those were golden minutes against which no gold can weigh,” said your mother, “and they are only granted to thee: and among thousands not one will be able to conceive what happy lot has fallen to thy share; but I understand it and enjoy it, as if I heard two sweet singing voices communicating with one another about their secret happiness.”

 

Then your mother fetched me your letter, and let me read what you had written about me, “that you had great joy in hearing my stories about you.”  Your mother fancies that I can relate better than her, and therefore leaves me the task.

 

Here then I have described to you that beautiful evening.

 

I know a secret; that when two are together and a divine genius rules between them, that is the greatest happiness.

 

Adieu my dear friend

 

TO GOETHE

 

Ah do not ask why again I begin a new page, since I have nothing to tell thee.  True, I do not yet know how I shall fill it up, but this I know, that at last it will come to thy dear hands.  Therefore I breathe upon it all that I would express to thee if I stood before thee. I cannot come, therefore my letter shall bear over to thee my undivided heart, filled with enjoyment of past days, with hope of new ones, with longing and pain for thee; and there I know neither beginning nor end.

 

Of this day I would impart nothing to thee: how shall I tear myself from desire, meditation and fancy? how shall I express to thee my true heart which turns from all other things to thee alone?  I must be silent as then, when I stood before thee, to look upon thee: Ah what could I have said – I had nothing more to ask*

 

Yesterday many wits met together in the Brentano house.  Among other gymnastic mental exercises, enigmas were proposed; there were several clever bits and when the turn came to me, I knew nothing.   And as I looked round me in this perplexity, and there was not a single countenance which to me had a friendly, intelligent expression, I made the following: “why do men see no spirits?”  No one could guess it; I said “because they fear phantoms.”  “Who? Men?” “No, spirits.”  Yes so horrible did these faces seem to me, so strange, so unintelligent, which spoke nothing to me, as thy beloved features do, which the spirits certainly fear not; no! it is thy beauty which induces the spirits to play in thy features, and this is the irresistible charm for the one who loves, that the spirit for ever streams around thee.

 

On Sunday, quite alone in the great lonely house; all are rode and walked and gone out and your mother is at the garden outside the Bockenheimer-gate, because to-day the pears are to be shaken from the tree, which was planted at thy birth.

 

BETTINE

 

*)See Appendix

 

TO BETTINE

 

Thou art a sweet-minded child, I read thy dear letters with inward pleasure, and shall surely always read them again with the same enjoyment.  Thy pictures of what has happened to thee, with all inward feelings of tenderness, and what thy witty demon inspires thee with, are real original sketches, which in the midst of more serious occupations cannot be denied their high interest; take it therefore as a hearty truth, when I thank thee for them.  Preserve thy confidence in me, and let it, if possible, increase.  Thou wilt always be and remain to me, what thou now art.  How can one require thee, except by being willing to be enriched with all thy good gifts.  Thou thyself knowest how much thou art to my mother, her letters overflow with praise and love.  Continue to dedicate lovely monuments of remembrance to the fleeting moments of thy good fortune.  I cannot promise thee, that I will not presume to work out themes so high-gifted and full of life, if they still speak as truly and warmly to the heart.

 

The grapes at my window, which, before their blossom and now a second time, were witnesses of thy friendly vision – swell in their full ripeness: I will not pluck, them without thinking of thee. – Write to me soon and love me.

G.

 

TO GOETHE

 

November 11th

 

By the next mail you will receive a packet of music, nearly all for four voices, therefore, arranged for your private orchestra.  I hope you do not already possess them; from the present, it is all that I could get.  If they please you, I will send you hereafter all that I can find.  You must not depend upon my choice; I am regulated by the reputation of the works and know but little about them.  Music does not impose upon me, and I cannot therefore judge: I do not understand the impression which it makes upon me – whether it touches or inspires me:  I only know that I cannot find an answer when I am asked if it pleases me.  One might say that I have no understanding for it – this I must grant, but yet I trace in it “the Unfathomable.”  As in other works of art the mystery of the trinity reveals itself, where nature puts on a body which the spirit penetrates and which is connected with that which is divine, so it is in music; as it nature here did not descend to sensual perception, but as if she excited the senses, that they might also rise with her to be celestial.

 

When one speaks of a theme in music and how it is carried thorugh; or of the accompaniment of an instrument, and of the understanding with which it is managed, my opinion is, that it is the theme which carries the musician along with it, that the theme develops and concentrates itself so often, till the spirit has completely infused itself in it.  And this is the object in music; yes! all which rejects the earthly is the object for the spirit.  I have an excellent musician for my master; when I ask him why? he has never an answer to give; and he is obliged to confess that every thing in music has heavenly laws; and this convinces me more and more that in the contact of divine and human no explanation can take place.  I have here a friendly acquaintance with a lady of a highly musical nature; we are often together in the Opera: she calls my attention to the particular parts, to certain themes, and the effect of the instruments, and I am quite perplexed when I follow such remarks.  The element of music, into which I felt myself raised, pushes me out again, and instead, I perceive only a theme prepared, ornamented, and tastefully managed.  I am not here in a world which gives me birth from darkness into light, as I was at Offenbach, where I lay in my grandmother’s garden on the green banks looking at the blue and sunny sky, while in the neighbouring garden, uncle Bernhard’s orchestra streamed through the whole air, and I knew nothing, wished nothing, but to yield up my senses to music.  Then I had no judgment, I heard no melodies, there was no longing, no inspiration for music.  I felt in it, as the fish feels in water. – If I were asked, whether at that time I had listened, I should not exactly know; it was not listening, it was existence in music: I was far too deeply sunk, to have listened to that which I perceived.

 

I am stupid my friend!  I cannot say what I know: thou I know wouldst allow me to be right, if I could express myself clearly, and in any other way thou willst least of all understand it: - understand as the Philisters understand, who apply their knowledge according to rule, and carry it so far, that at last one cannot discriminate between talent and genius.  Talent strikes conviction, but genius does not convince; to whom it is imparted, it gives forebodings of the immeasurable and infinite, while talent sets certain limits and so because it is understood, is also maintained.

 

The infinite in the finite, - genius in every art is music.  In itself it is the soul, when it touches tenderly, but when it masters this affection then it is spirit which warms, nourishes, bears and reproduces the own soul – and therefore we perceive music: otherwise the sensual ear would not hear it, but only the spiritual: and thus every art is the body of music, which is the soul of every art: and so is music too the soul of love, which also answers not for  its working; for it is the contact of divine with human and once for all, the divine is the passion which consumes the human.  Love expresses nothing through itself, but that it is sunk in harmony. 

 

November 17th

 

Dear Goethe, place my strange thoughts to the account of the strange place in which I am; I am in the Carmelite church, in a concealed corner behind a great pillar.  I come here every day at noon; the autumn-sun shines through the church-window and paints the shadow of the vine-leaves here on the pavement and the white wall; then I see how the wind stirs them and how one after the other falls.  Here is deep solitude, and those whom I meet here at unwonted hours, are certainly there in remembrance of their dead friends, who lie buried here.  Here at the entrance is the grave in which father, mother and seven children lie buried; one coffin stands upon the other.

 

I know not what entices me into this great dismal church, to pray for the dead? – shall I say: “dear God in heaven, raise these deceased ones up to thee in heaven!” – Love is a fluid element, it dissolves in itself soul and spirit, and that is bliss. – When I go into this church and pass by the grave which covers my parents, brothers and sisters, I fold my hands; and that is all my prayer.

 

My father loved me tenderly, I had great power over him; often, my mother sent me with a written petition to him, saying “don’t let him go till he says yes” – and then I hung upon his neck and turned myself about him and he said: “Thou art my dearest child, I can refuse thee nothing.

 

I remember also the great beauty of my mother; she had such lovely and yet such lofty features, and did not resemble common faces.  You said of her, she was created for the angels – they should play with her.  Your mother has told me, that when you saw her for the last time, you were in raptures at her beauty; that was a year before her death; General Brentano then lay in the house sick of heavy wounds; my mother nursed him and he was so fond of her, that she dare not leave him.  She played chess with him: he said “check-mate!” and sank back in his bed; she sent to fetch me, because he asked for the children, - I approached the bed with her – there he lay pale and still; my mother called to him “my General!”  Then he opened his eyes, smiling stretched his hand to her and said “my Queen!” – and then he was no more.

 

I still see my mother as in a dream, standing by the bed-side and holding the hand of the expired hero, her tears rolling slowly from her large black eyes, over her still countenance. Then you saw her for the last time, and you prophesied that you should not see her again.  Your mother has told me, how deeply you were moved.  When you saw me for the first time, you said “Thou art like thy father, but thou resemblest thy mother too”, and therewith you pressed me to your heart and were much affected – and yet it was many years afterwards.                                                                                Adieu

BETTINE

 

Of the Jews and the new laws concerning their citizenship, your mother has already given you information; all the Jews write since this; the Primate is much amused with their wit. – All the Christians write about education; nearly every week a new plan comes out by some new-married Educationer or other.  The new schools do not interest me so much as the Jew’s Institution, to which I often go.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Weimar, January 2nd 1808

 

You have, my dear little friend, a very grand manner of presenting us your gifts en masse.  So your last packet (in a certain measure) frightened me, for if I do not go to work very economically with the contents, my little choir would be more liable to throttle themselves with it, thou reap any advantage from it.  Thus my dear you see, how we may even through generosity subject ourselves to reproach – but do not let this put you out of your way.  By the first opportunity, your health shall be drunk by the whole company, and afterwards the “Confirma hoc Deus” of Jomellis, be sung as heartily and sincerely, as ever was the “Salvun fae Regem.”

 

And now immediately another request, that we may not get out of practice: send me the Jewish pamphlets.  I should like to see how the modern Israelites, behave under their new citizenship, in which they are certainly treated as real Jews and quondam imperial thralls. If you accompany these with some of the Christian plans of education, our gratitude will be encreased.  I do not say (as is generally the case upon such occasions) that I am ready for any reciprocal obligation, but when anything here which may please you, comes to maturity, you shall also receive it.

 

_________

 

Dearest child, pardon me that I was obliged to write by a strange hand.  To thy musical evangely, and to all the dear and beautiful things which thou writest to me, I could not to day either have answered anything: but do not let thyself be disturbed in thy caprices and whims; it is of much worth to me to have thee as thou art, and in my heart thou wilt ever find a warm reception.  Thou art a strange child, and with thy hermitizing in Churches couldst easily become a strange saint.  I give thee to consider of it.

 

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

He who abroad on the top of Taunus should see, morning and evening, the country around, and the whole dear scene rising and sinking from beauty to beauty, while the heart was busied with thee like mine, - would surely be better able to say that which he had to say.  I would so fain speak to ease with thee, and thou also desirest that I should throw my caprices and humours down before thee.

 

Thou knowest my heart: thou knowest that all there is desire, thought, boding and longing; thou livest among spirits and they give thee divine wisdom. Thou must nourish me; thou givest all that in advance, which I do not understand to ask.  My mind has a small embrace, my love a large one; thou must bring them to a balance.  Love cannot be quiet till the mind matches its growth: thou art matched to my love; thou art friendly, kind, indulgent: let me know when my heart is off the balance: I understand thy silent signs.

 

A look from thy eyes into mine, a kiss from thee upon my lips, instructs me in all; what might seem delightful to learn to one, who like me, had experience from those. – I am far from thee, mine are become strange to me; I must ever return in thought to that hour, when thou heldest me in the soft fold of thy arm, - then I being to weep: but the tears dry again unawares; yes! he reaches with his love (thus I think) over to me in this concealed stillness, and should not I, with my eternal undisturbed longing, reach to him in the distance?  Ah conceive what my heart has to say to thee: it flows over with soft sighs, all whisper to thee: be my only happiness on earth thy friendly will to me.  O dear friend! give me but a sign*, that thou art conscious of me.  You write that you will drink my health, ah!  I grudge thee it not; - leave no drop behind; would that I myself could be so poured into thee and do thee good!

 

Your mother told me, how you were sitting in the theatre shortly after writing Werther, and how an anonymous note was pressed into your hand, in which was written: ils ne te comprendrout point Jean Jacques.  But she maintains, I might say to every one: tu me ne comprendras point Jean Jacques; for what booby will not misunderstand thee, or will give thee thy due?  But she says, that you Goethe understand me, and that thou gives me my due.

 

The education-plans and Jew-pamphlets I will send next post-day.  Although you art not ready for every reciprocal obligation, but yet will send me what is matured; still think that my love sends to thee burning beams, to bring each emotion for me, to sweet maturity.

 

BETTINE

 

*) See Appendix

 

TO GOETHE

 

What shall I write to you, since I am sad and have nothing new or welcome to say? rather would I at once send thee the white paper, instead of first covering it with letters, which do not always say what I wish; - and that thou shouldst fill it up at thy leisure, and make me but too happy and send it back to me; and when I then see the blue cover and tear it open – curiously hasty, as longing is always expectant of bliss, and I should then read what once charmed me from thy lips.  “Dear child, my gentle heart, my only love, little darling,” – the friendly words with which thou spoildst me, soothing me the while so kindly – ah more I would not ask, I should have all again, even thy whisper I should read there, with which thou softly pouredst into my soul, all that was most lovely and madest me for ever beautiful to myself*.  As I there passed through the walks on thy arm, - ah how long ago does it seem.  I was contented, all wishes were laid to sleep, they had like the mountains, enveloped colour and form in mist; I thought, thus it would glide – and ever on, without much labour – from the land to the high sea – bold and proud, with unfolded flags and fresh breeze. – But Goethe! fiery youth wants the customs of the hot season: when the evening shadows draw over the land, then the nightingales shall not be silent; all shall sing or express itself joyfully, the world shall be a luxuriant fruit garland, all shall crowd in enjoyment – and all enjoyment shall expand mightily, it shall pour itself forth like fermenting wine juice, which works in foam till it comes to rest; we shall sink in it, as the sun beneath the ocean-waves, but also return like him.  So has it been with thee, Goethe; none knows how thou heldst communion with heaven, and what wealth thou hast asked there, when thou hadst set in enjoyment.

 

That delights me to see when the sun sets, when the earth drinks in his glow, and slowly folds his fiery wings and detains him prisoner of night: then it becomes still in the world; out of the darkness longing rises up so secretly, and the stars there above lighten so unreachably to it – so very unreachably.  Goethe! –

 

He who shall be happy, becomes so timid: the heart trembling parts with happiness ere it has dared a welcome; I also feel that I am not matched for my happiness; what a power of senses to comprehend thee! – Love must become a mastership – to want the possession of that what is to be loved, in the common understanding, is unworthy of eternal love, and wrecks each moment on the slightest occurrence.  That is my task, that I appropriate myself to thee, but will not possess thee – thou most be desired!

 

I am still so young, that it may be easily pardoned if I am ignorant.  Ah!  I have no soul for knowledge: I feel I cannot learn what I do not know; I must wait for it, as the prophet in the wilderness waits for the ravens to bring him food.  The simile is not so unapt: nourishment is borne to my spirit through the air – often exactly as it is on the point of starvation.

 

Since I have loved thee, something unattainable floats in my spirit – a mystery which nourishes me.  As the ripe fruits fall from the tree, so here thoughts fall to me, which refresh and invigorate me.  Oh Goethe! had the fountain a soul, it could not hasten more full of expectation on to light, to rise again, than I with foreseeing certainty, hasten on to meet this new life, which has been given me through thee, and which gives me to know that a higher impulse of life will burst the prison, not sparing the rest and ease of accustomed days which in fermenting inspiration it destroys.  This lofty fate, the loving spirit evades as little as the seed evades the blossom when it once lies in fresh earth.  Thus I feel myself in thee, thou fruitful blessed soil!  I can say what it is when the germ bursts the hard rind – it is painful; the smiling children of spring are brought forth amid tears.

 

Oh Goethe, what happens with man? what does he feel, what happens in the inmost flaming cup of his heart?  I would willingly confess my faults to thee, but love makes me quite an ideal being.  Thou hast done much for me, even before thou knewest of me; above much that I coveted and did not ask, thou hast raised me.

 

BETTINE

 

*) See Appendix

 

TO GOETHE

 

March 5th

 

Here in Frankfort it is wet, cold, villainous, abominable; no good Christian remains here willingly – if your mother were not here, the winter would be unbearable, so completely without consistency – only eternally melting snow. – I have at present a rival with her; a little squirrel, which a handsome French soldier left here at quarters, and which she allows to do as it likes; she calls it Jack, and Jack may gnaw table and chair: yes, he has already dared to seat himself upon her dress-cap and there to nibble the feathers and flowers.  A few days ago I went in the evening, and the maid admitted me with the remark, that she was not at home, but must come directly.  In the parlour it was dark; I seated myself at the window and looked out over the square.

 

It was as if something scratched, I listened and believed I heard breathing – I became uncomfortable, I again heard something moving, and asked (because I would feign have imputed it to the squirrel) “Jack is that you?” quite unexpectedly and very dejecting for my courage, a sonorous bass-voice answered out of the back ground.  “Jack it is not, but John” and therewith the “bique malus Spiritus” cleared his throat.  Full of reverence I would not from the sport: the Spirit too only gave proofs of its existence by breathing and once sneezing – then I hear your mother, she steps forward; the scarcely burning and not yet fully lighted taper behind, borne by Betty.  “Art thou there?” asked your mother, as she took off her cap, to hang it on its nightly pedestal viz: a green bottle.  “Yes” we both called out, and out of the darkness stepped a bestarred gentleman and asks “Frau Rath, shall I eat bacon-sallad and omelette with you this evening?”  From that I concluded quite correctly, that John was a Prince of Mecklenburg: for who had not heard the pretty story of your mother, how at the coronation of the Emperor, the now Queen of Prussia (then a young infant Princess) and her brother, looked at the Frau Rath as she was about to eat such a dish, and that it so excited their appetites, that they together demolished it without leaving her a leaf.  Now the story was told with much enjoyment, and many others beside, p.e. how she procured the Princesses, the pleasure of pumping to satiety at the pump in the court-yard, keeping the governess by all possible arguments, from calling the Princesses away; and at last, because she would not listen to her, used force and locked her up in a room.  “For” said your mother, “I would rather have drawn upon myself the worst consequences, than that they should have been disturbed in their innocent pleasures, which were granted them nowhere except in my house: they said to me too as they took leave, that they should never forget how happy and delighted they had been with me.”  I could fill several sheets more with all such sorts of recollections.

 

Adieu, dear Master!  I greet your wife.  Riemer’s sonnet creaks like new shoes; he shall take care of what I have entrusted in him, and not have proved his zeal in vain.

 

Don’t I do exactly as if I were your love? write, scribble, make blots and orthographical errors, and think it doesn’t signify, because he knows, that I love him: and yet the letter which you sent me, was so pretty and elegantly counched, on gold-edged paper! – But Goethe, quite at the end you first think on me! allow me to be so free as to give you a reprimand for this letter; couch all that you wish to say, in shortest terms, and write it with your own hand: I don’t know why you should keep a secretary to announce what is superfluous; I can’t bear it, it offends me, it hurts me. – At the beginning I believed the letter was not for me at all: now I bear such letters so willingly upon my heart, till a new one come; - but how can I manage with such a strange secretary’s hand? no, for this time I have condemned you in my anger, to be immediately shut up with the secretary in the old draw, and I have not said a word to your mother, that you had written; I should have been ashamed, if I must have rehearsed to her this periwig-style.  Adieu, write that which thou hast to say to me and that only.

 

BETTINE

 


TO GOETHE

 

March 15th

 

It is now six weeks since I heard a word from you, either through your mother or any other means, I do not believe that you are like many others, and bar the way to your heart with business and other things of importance; but I must fear that my letters come too frequently for thee, and must restrain myself from that, which could make me blessed if it were not so, and I dared believe, that my love, - which is so claimless, that it forgets thy glory and speaks to thee as a twin-brother – could give thee joy.  Like a lion I could fight for thee, would fain destroy and put to flight all that is not worthy to come in contact with thee.  I must for thy sake despise the whole world, must for thy sake grant it pardon, because thou glorifiest it, and yet I know nothing of thee! only say if thou art pleased, that I should write – only say “thou mayest!”  When in a few weeks, for spring will then be here, I come to the Rheingau, I will write to thee from every hill: I am always so much nearer to thee, when outside the town-walls; then I often think I feel thee in every respiration, how thou rulest in my heart; when it is beautiful without, when the air soothes, yes when nature is kind and friendly like thee, then I feel thee, ah how distinctly! But what interest have I for you?  You yourself have nothing to tell me; in the letter which you wrote to me and which I hold as dear as the apple of my eye, you have not once named me as you were accustomed to do; exactly as if I were not worthy of your familiar confidence.  Oh! with me all goes so from lip to heart!  I would spare nothing of love and heart and kiss.  In autumn in the Carmelite church I wrote all sorts of recollections of my infancy:- they always occurred to me, when I came there and yet I only went to think undisturbed on thee! Each season of my life blooms in thee, I recal my childhood-years, and sport them through with thee, and grow up and believe myself hidden under thy protection, and feel myself proud in thy confidence, and then my heart quickens with ardent love, then I seek thee, how shall I find rest? – on thy breast alone, folding in thy arms! – And were it not thou, I would be with thee; but I feel afraid before all eyes, which are directed to thee, ah! and before the piercing look which glances from beneath thy bays.

 

Except thee, all men appear to me one and the same; I do not distinguish between them, I do not long after the great, wide-spread ocean of Event.  The stream of life bears thee, thou me; in thy arms I traverse it, thou wilt bear me to the end, wilt thou not? – And if there were still thousandfold existences, I cannot take wing to them; with thee I am at home, ah! be thou too at home with me: or dost thou know of something better than me and thyself in the magic circle of life?

 

Not long ago we had a little festival at home on account of Savigny’s birth-days.  Your mother came at twelve o’clock at noon, and remained till one o’clock in the night, and found herself quite well after it the next day.  During dinner there was splendid music, verses were also sung in Savigny’s praise, in which your mother joined so heartily, that one could hear her through the whole chorus.  When we drank your and her healths, at which all the drums and trumpets gave a crash, she was solemnly delighted.  After dinner she related a little fable on the company: all were gathered round her in solemn stillness.  At first she was prolix, perhaps the great audience might make her a little uneasy: but soon all the capable dramatis personae, most fantastically adorned, were dancing away in their grotesque fashion, upon the great show-box of her memory: after this, all sorts of little scenes were performed, and then a young Spanish dancing-girl made her appearance, who danced very prettily with castanets.  This graceful child gives performances here at the theatre; I have not yet told you of her, that for weeks she has maintained me in a state of silent enthusiasm, and that I often think, whether God wills otherwise, than that virtue should transform itself into pure art, namely that according to the laws of a heavenly harmony one should with quiet enthusiasm move the limbs of the spirit, and thus express virtue by graceful gestures, as she does the time and sense of music.  After supper came dancing: I sat rather sleepy by your mother’s side: her arm was round my neck, and she loved me as well as Joseph – I too had a many coloured gown.  It was unanimously resolved, that no family festival should be given without your mother, so much had they perceived her good influence: I have wondered how she can win hearts to quickly; only because she enjoys heartily and thereby wakes the hearts of all around her also to joy.

 

Yours I greet heartily; I have not forgotten what I promised for your wife: everything will soon be ready, only I unluckily neglect Mad. de S. about her shawl! well, what’s to be done? methinks, my minister has here a pretty negociation.  Don’t I abuse your patience? – Good, best of men, whom my heart eternally serves!

 

March 9th

 

My brother George has bought a little villa at Rüdelheim; you must remember it, since you drew the plan, and with Basset who now lives in America, managed the construction.  I am much delighted with its beautiful proportions; I fancy, that your character, your form and your gestures are there reflected.  We ride out nearly every day: yesterday I mounted on the rook; the sun shone so warm, it was so clear, one could distinctly see the hills lying in the lap of the valleys.  Oh sorrow, that I can’t fly! to what purpose, that I love thee so well? – young and strong and proud am I in thee; - I might not expound it, for the world will still crowd feeling into its once for all formed register; - thou art good above all, that thou sufferest my love, in which I am overjoyed.  My mind is like the ocean without shore; its waves bear all that can swim; but thee I have forcibly drawn into the deepest mysteries of my life, and foaming with joy roll over the certainty of thy possession.

 

When I formerly looked at myself in the glass, and my eyes gazed so ardently upon themselves, and I felt that at this moment they must have pierced, and I had no one, to whom I would have granted a look, then I was sorry, that my whole youth should be lost, but now I think on thee.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

March 30th

 

Little unexpected tours into different parts of the neighbourhood, to see Winter once more before his departure in all his splendour, have prevented me from earlier compliance with the wish of my only and dearest friend in the world.  Therewith I send all that is up to the present come out, except a Magazine, which the Jews publish under the name Sulamith.  It is very diffuse: if you wish for it, I will send it, since the Jews honour me with it as their protector and little friend in need.  It contains the most opposite things, all mixed together; the odes on the Primate particularly distinguish themselves; a great poem, which they brought him on New-year’s day, he sent to me and wrote: “I do not understand Hebrew, or I would write an acknowledgement, but since for the little friend of the Hewbrews, nothing is too perverted or un-German, I beg her in my name to write a poem in answer.” – The malicious Primate! – but I have punished him; and yesterday at the Concert, he said to me: “It is well that the Jews are not so much men of war as men of wares, or I should hardly be secure from a blockade in my House of Taxis.

 

During this time I have been at Odenwald, and have clambered about Götz of Berlichen’s old castle, quite to the top of the walls, where human foot can scarcely find support any more; over breaches, which yet made me sometimes giddy, ever thinking on thee, on thy youth, on thy life till now, which foams on like living water.  Doest thou know? – it does so good, when the heart is completely seized.  Whereever I turn, my mind reflects, what I have in reserve, and what follows me like a blissful dream, and that is – thou.

 

Yonder it was very beautiful! An enormous tower, on which in times past, watchmen sat to announce by sound of trumpet the arrival of the Frank-ships at the little Mildeberg-town.  Firs and willows grow about, which reach half up the tower.

 

The vineyards were still partially covered with snow: I sat upon a broken window-bar and froze, and yet warm love to thee penetrated me; and I trembled with anxiety, lest I should fall down, and yet climbed higher, because I fancied I would dare it out of love to thee.  Thus thou often makest me bold; it is lucky that the wild Odin-forest wolves did not pass by; I must have struggled with them, had I just then thought of thy honour: this seems nonsense, but so it is.  Midnight, the evil hours of spirits, wakes me; I lay myself in the cold winter-wind at the window; all Frankfort is dead, the wicks of the street-lamps are expiring, the old rusty weather-cocks creak to me, and then I think: is that to be the eternal tune? – And then I feel that this life is a prison, where every one has only a mournful view of liberty: this is the own soul.  – So! It rages within me!  I would fain soar above the old gabled roofs, which cut off the sky from me; I leave my chamber, speed through the wide passages of our house, search out a way over the old garrets, and behind the rafters I fancy ghosts, but take no heed of them; then I seek the stair-case to the little turret: when I am at last there, I look through the turret-window at the broad heaven, and am not at all cold; and then it is, as if I must unlade my gathered tears, and then the next day I am so merry and newborn, and seek with cunning for some fund to execute; and canst thou believe it? all this is – thou.

 

BETTINE

 

Your mother often comes to us; we get up masquerades and all sorts of delight for her; she has taken our whole family under protection, and is fresh and in health.

 

TO BETTINE

 

The documents of philanthropic Christendom and Jewry are safely arrived, and thou dear little friend shalt receive my best thanks for them.  It is indeed strange, that exactly at the time, when so many men are slain, one should seek to adorn the rest after the best and most elegant fashion.  Continue to give me, as protectress of these wholesome Institutions, information from time to time concerning them.  It well becomes the Brunswick Messiah of the Jews, to look upon his folk as they should be and become: but the royal Primate is not to be blamed, if he handle this race as it is, and as it will for a while continue.  Draw me a portrait of Mr Molitor.  If the man acts as reasonably as he writes, he must do much good.  But to thy own philanthropical plan of education, I recommend the bearer of this, a black-eyed, brown-haired youth.  Let his paternal town become to him his native town, so that he may believe himself to be in the midst of those who belong to him.  Introduce him to thy dear brothers, sisters and relations, and think of me, when thou receivest him kindly.  Thy stores of hill, and town, clambering and viewing, carry me with them to a beautiful, joyful country, and I will not answer for it, that at a seasonable opportunity, thou mayst not see a fantastic reflection of them in a fata morgiana.

 

Since I have taken leave of Augustus, I am preparing also to take leave of home and this part of the country, and as soon as possible to wander to the Carlsbad mountains.

 

To day at eleven o’clock, “confirma hoc Deus” will be sung, which goes already very well and finds great applause.

 

Weimar, April 3rd 1808

 

TO GOETHE

 

We have a wet-cold April, I observe it by your letter; it is like a general rain – the whole clouded from beginning to end.  It is true you possess the art of showing your feeling in little forms and lines, and in what you leave unexpressed, the assurance steals to the heart, that one is not indifferent to you: yes, I believe, that I am dear to you, spite of your cold letter! but it all your beautiful moderation were suddenly sent to the deuce, and you remained without art and without fine feelings of propriety in your heart, exactly as God made you, I should not fear you as I now do, when so cool a letter arrives, and I must consider what in the world I have done!

 

But notwithstanding, to day I write with confidence, because I can tell you how well and happy your only son finds himself here; he gives me every evening a rendezvous in our box at the Theatre; early in the morning he takes a walk over tower and steeple, that he may view at leisure the surrounding country of his paternal town.  I have driven him out a few times, to show him the vegetable-gardens, because exactly now the first wonderful preparations are in hand, when the place for every plant is measured by the line, and when these industrious gardeners, assign with so much care to every little plant its sustenance: I have also led him to the Stalburg-fountain, to the Pfingstmeadow and the Schneidewall; then behind the haunted wall, where your youthful play-place was; then through the Mainz portal.  He was also much at Offenbach with me and your mother, and at eveningtime we returned by water in the moonlight to town; then on our return, your mother talked away about all your adventures and pleasure parties, and at night I laid myself to bed with heated imagination, which brought me a dream, the remembrance of which, will for a time by my food.  It was as if I ran through the park at Weimar, in which a heavy rain was falling; everything was just in its earliest green, the sun shone through the rain.  As I came to your door, I heard your voice already from afar; I called – you heard me not, - then I saw you sitting on the same bench, behind which last year, though late, the broad beautiful mallow was growing; - opposite lay the cat as then, and as I came up to you, you too said again: "Seat thyself there by the cat, on account of thy eyes, I would not have them so near me." Where I waked but as the dream was so dear to me, I could not give it up: I dreamed on, played all sorts of games with you and thought at the time of your kindness, which could allow such familiarity. – Thou! who embracest in thyself a world of life, from which we have already drank thy confidence in such mighty draughts, I often fear to express to thee even in thought, that love which rises so quickly in my heart; but a dream like this, bursts like a swollen stream through its dams.  It may be that one resolves with difficulty to make a journey to the sun, because the knowledge, that one cannot arrive there, keeps one back; - but at such moments knowledge goes for nothing with me, and then it appears to me, as if to reach thy heart in its full splendour were nothing impossible.

 

Molitor was yesterday with me: I read to him the parts of your letter about him, they delighted him much: this noble man is of the opinion, that since he has a body to offer up for the Jews, and a spirit to devote to them, both are well employed: otherwise his circumstances are not very good, except in his trust in God; at the same time he nevertheless believes, that the world can only be brought again to a balance by means of the black art.  He has great confidence in me, that I am endowed with the art of divination; he is an honest man and wishes earnestly the right, therefore takes no care about the world or his own advance; is well contented with a chair, a bed and five books, which form his property.

 

Adieu I hasten to my toilette, that I may drive with your mother and son to the Primate’s, who gives a great festival to day in honour of them, - there I shall again have to struggle hard against sleep, these many lights, the dressed out people, the painted cheeks, the humming talk, have an irresistible narcotic effect upon me.

 

BETTINE

 

TO MAD. von GOETHE

 

April 7th

 

Do you still remember the evening, which we spent at Mad. von S., and a bet was laid that I couldn’t use a needle?  The accompanying gown is a proof, that I did not then tell a story; I have made it so prettily, that my talent for female handwork cannot without injustice be any more brought into question.  Nevertheless look upon it with indulgence, for I must in secret acknowledge to you, that I have almost trusted too much in my genius.  Only recognize in it, that I would willingly do you as much pleasure, as lies in my power.

 

August seems pleased with his visit here: the festival which the royal primate gave to the grand-mother and grand-son, sufficiently proves how much he honours the son.  I will not however forestal the Frau Rath, who will paint it to you in the brightest colours.  August wanders about the whole surrounding country: everywhere are early friends of his father, who from the heights here and there, point down and relate what happy hours they have passed with him in such beautiful spots; and thus it continues in triumph from the town into the country, and from there back again to the town.  In Offenbach, the prettiest and cleanest village in the world, lined with a blue silken sky, garnished with silver waves, and worked with blooming fields of hyacinths and daisies, the tales of remembrance of those happy times found no end.

 

The accompanying garnets I have received from Salsburg, wear them for my sake.

 

BETTINE

 

Enclosed books for Goethe

 

TO BETTINE

 

Weimar, April 20th 1808

 

Yesterday again, my darling, a rich present was yielded to us from thy horn of plenty, and that, exactly at the right season and hour, for the women were in deep consideration, what should be worn at a certain festival.  Nothing was quite right, when the beautiful gown arrived, which it was immediately resolved not to spare.

 

As amongst all the blessings of which my wife can boast, that of writing is perhaps the least, you will pardon her if she does not herself express the pleasure which you have given her.  How empty all here looks! this strikes me then, when I look round, and would fain send thee some token of friendship.  I will therefore make no further scruple about it, and thank thee for the printed pamphlets as well as for much more of which I do not yet know, how I shall make myself worthy.  We will therefore pass it over in modest silence, and rather turn again to the Jews, who now stand in the deciding moment between door and post, and already unfold their wings, even before the gate of freedom his opened wide enough.

 

I was much pleased to see that this financial, jacobinical son of Israel has been sent about his business.  Can you give me the name of the author of the little pamphlet? there are some excellent passages in it, which might well have found place even in a plaidoyer of Beaumarchais. – Pity, that the whole is not written with sufficient quickness, boldness and satire (as it should have been) to make that humanity-quack, once for all, ridiculous in the eyes of the whole world.  Now that I may not discontinue my prayers and entrenties I beg for the laws of the Jewish citizenship.

 

What you intend to write about Molitor, will give me much pleasure; even by what you have already sent of him, he is become remarkable to me, particularly by what he says of the Pestelozzi-system.

 

Farewell, receive a thousand thanks for thy kind reception of the son and continue thy favour to the father.

 

G.

 

TO GOETHE

 

The ordination for the citizenship and privileges of the Jews is here accompanied by something of noble appearance; not alone to give you pleasure, but because the picture is dear to me, have I taken it from the wall by my bed, where it has hung for three days and trusted its beauty to the mail-coach.  You shall only see what can charm me. – Hang this picture before thee – look into those beautiful eyes; in which the madness of youth lies already overcome – then it will surely strike thee; what raises longing. – This which cannot be recalled, which cannot long bear the day-light and quickly disappears, because it is too splendid for abuse. – But from this it has not disappeared – it is only sunk deeper into the soul, for from between the lips is again breathed forth, that which dare no more be seen in the enlightened eye. – When one gazes on the whole countenance – it becomes so dear – one would fain have been with him, to bear all pain with him, to make all good to him by a thousandfold love: - and when one sees the broad, full laurel, then all wishes for him seem fulfilled.  His whole being – the book which he holds, makes him so dear: had I then lived, I would not have left him.

 

August is gone: I sung to him “It is not these, but others dear, Who weep when I’m away, Dearest treasure think on me.”  And then he wandered forth from the portals of our republican house!  I embraced him from my heart, as remembrance for me of you: but since you appear to have forgotten me, and write to me for ever only of the people which is accursed, and are pleased when Jacobson is sent home about his business, but not when I feel at home with you, therefore I write this as a remembrance for you of me, who must ever love you spite of your coldness, because – I must.

 

I take good care not to impart your opinions about the Jews to the Primate, for I cannot agree with you, and have too my reasons.  I don’t deny either, that the Jews are a sharp-set, impudent people; if one reaches them the finger, they tear one so by the hand, that one is ready to tumble down; and this comes from their having been so long oppressed: their species is however human and will at one time or other be fit for freedom: one will absolutely make Christians of them, and yet will not let them out of the confined purgatory of the crowded Jew street*.  It cost no trifling victory over prejudice, for the Christians at last to resolve, to send their children to one school with the poor Jewish children, but it was a highly ingenious and happy thought of my friend Molitor, to bring for the first, Christian and Jewish children together in one school, for they could try it together, and set the parents a good example.  – The Jews are really full of transgression, that cannot be denied, but I cannot at all see, what there is in the Christians, which can be spoiled; and yet if all men must become Christians, why then, let them into the heavenly Paradise! – there they may convert themselves, if they please.

 

You see, love does not make me blind – it would be too great a disadvantage for me: for with seeing eyes, I have come to the perception of all that is beautiful.

 

Adieu, cold man, who always passes beyond me, over the Jew-pamphlets.  I beg you fasten the picture to the wall with four pins – but in your own room, where I was that once, and not again.

 

BETTINE

 

*) The street set apart for the Jews in Frankfort

 

TO BETTINE

 

Thou art angry with me; so I must at once submit, and allow thee to be in the right, that thou pleadest against my cold short letters, for thy dear letters, thy dear being, in short all which proceeds from thee, ought to be rewarded with the fairest acknowledgements.  I am ever near thee, believe it firmly, and that I am the happier, the more certain I grow of thy love.  Yesterday I sent my mother a little paper for thee; take it as a bare equivalent for that, which I have not the talent otherwise to express; see how thou canst appropriate it to thyself.  Fare well! write soon to me, all that thou wilt.

 

GOETHE

 

The flying traveller, I hope remained dear to thee to the last.  Receive my thanks for the friendship and kindness which thou has showed him. – When I am quietly settled at Carlsbad, thou shalt hear from me.  Write to me as much as possible of thy journies, gipsey-parties, old and new possessions.  I like so to read of such things.

 

Weimar, May 4th 1808

 

SONNET ENCLOSED IN A LETTER TO GOETHE’S

MOTHER

 

As good and happy child, o’er mead and field,

Thou sport’dst with me so many a morn of Spring:

“For such a daughter – blessings murmuring,

How fain would I as father, houses build!”

 

And when before thine eye, the world arose,

Thy highest joy was careful housewifery:

“With such a sister – mine security!

What trust in her, how she in me repose!”

 

And now can nought repress thy growing beauty;

I feel within my heart, love’s mounting blaze.

Shall I embrace? – and bar my pains’ advance?

 

Yet now alas! as princess must I view thee,

So stately rising ‘fore my wondered gaze:

I quail beneath thy look – thy slightest glance

 

TO GOETHE

 

If it be a pleasure to you, to see me in deep confusion and ashamed at your feet, then look down upon me now; thus it is with the poor shepherd maiden, upon whom the King places a crown; even if her heart is proud in loving him, still is the crown too heavy; her little head, staggers beneath its burden, and she is besides intoxicated with the honour and homage which her beloved pays to her.

 

Ah!  I will take good care, not to complain any further, or to pray for fine weather, for I cannot endure the dazzling sunbeams.  No rather sigh in darkness, still, silent, than be led by thy Muse into the broad day-light, ashamed and crowned – it bursts my heart.  Ah! do not gaze on me so long, take the crown from off my head, father me in thy arms to thy heart, and teach me to forget in thee, that thou returnest me thus glorified to myself.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

May 20th

 

I have already been a week in the loveliest country of the Rhine and could not for idleness, which the dear sun burned into me, find a moment to give an answer to your friendly letter.  How can one write here?  The Almightiness of God, looks in upon me through each window, gracefully inclining to my inspired gaze.

 

I am withal endowed with a wonderful second-sight, which takes possession of my thoughts.  If I see a wood – my mind becomes at once aware of all the hares and deer which gambol therein; and when I hear the nightingale, I know directly what the cold moon has committed against her.

 

Late yesterday Evening, I went on the Rhine; I ventured on a small mole which leads into the middle of the stream, from whose end protrude points of rock, washed by the waves; with a few hazardous jumps I reached the furthermost one, which afforded exactly so much space, that one can stand dry-foot upon it. – The vapours danced around me; armies of ravens flew above me, they wheeled about in circles, as if they would swoop down from their airy height; I armed myself against them with a handkerchief which I waved above my head, but I dared not look up, for fear of falling into the water.  When I wanted to turn back I was in a fine dilemma; I could hardly conceive, how I was come there: a little crazy shallop sailed by – I beckoned to take me in.  The boat-man would not trust to the white figure, which he saw standing dry-foot in the midst of the river, and which the ravens marked as their prey; at last he managed to understand, how I had come there, and took me on board his cockleshell.  There I lay upon a small board, heaven and the stars above me, we sailed on for half an hour, to where his nets hung upon the shore; we could see from afar, how the people boiled their tar by a bright fire and tarred their boats.

 

How passionless one becomes, when one finds oneself so free, so alone, as I did in that boat; how rest is poured upon every limb, - it drowns one in itself, it bears the soul as still and softy, as the Rhine my little bark, beneath which also not a wave was heard to plash.  I did not then as usual, long to express my thoughts to thee, so that they, like the waves break on the surge and roll on fuller of life; I did not sigh after that internal excitement, of which I well know, that it wakes up mysteries and opens laboratories and temples to the glowing mind of youth.  My boat-man with red cap, in shirt-sleeves, had lighted his short pipe; I said “Mr Captain, you look as if the sun would have turned you into a suit armour;” “yes” said he, “now I sit in the cool; but I have now four years long rowed all passengers at Bingen over the Rhine, and there isn’t one who has been so far as I.  I was in India; then I looked quite another thing, there my hair grew so long.  And I was in Spain; there the heat isn’t so pleasant, and I have had my share of troubles; there my hair fell off and I got a black curly head.  And here on the Rhine, it changes again; my head here gets grey; in strange countries, I underwent such want and labour, that a man can scarcely endure, and when I had time, I could sleep (it might rain and lighten) twenty four hours together in the open air.  Here I don’t sleep one hour in the night; he who has once known what it is to be on the open sea, can’t be well pleased with setting all the Poles and redhaired Dutchmen over the gutter, and even if I should have to sail down the whole Rhine in my crazy ribs, I must get out of a place, where there’s nothing to laugh or to sigh at.”  “Why, were would you go to?”  “There where I endured most that was Spain – there I should like to be again, if it went twice has hardly with me!” “What made you then so happy there?” – he laughed and was silent.  We landed – I ordered him to come to me for drink-money, as I had nothing about me; but he would take nothing.  In going home, I considered, how entirely my happiness proceeds from you; if you were not in tedious Germany, I would also sail on my thin ribs down the endless Rhine.  My grand-mother has often related to us such lofty stores of the great Spirits of Germany, but you were not by, or I should have taken care of myself, and you would have been deprived of my inspiration.  In falling asleep I always felt myself rocked in sweet and careless reveries, and I felt as if I had great matters to impart to you, of which I believed, that my will alone was required, for the lips of my thought to utter them.  But now after having slept out my life of dream, I know nothing but to join myself in mostly to thy memory and thy friendly love: for if thou wert not, I know not what I should be; but of this I am certain, unsteadily and restlessly I should seek that, which now I seek no more.

 

THY CHILD

 

How is it with me, dear, only friend?  How giddy I am! what wilt thou say to me?- thou treasure! – previous one! from whom I learn all deep in the breast; who takest off from me all chains that oppress, and beckonest me aloft into liberty.

 

Thou hast taught me, that all which is a fetter to my mind, is nothing but oppressing ignorance: where I have fear, where I do not trust my own powers, it is only ignorance.

 

Knowing is the walk of Heaven; the highest knowing is almighty, is the element of bliss; as long as we are not in it, we are unborn.  To be blessed, is to be free, to have a free, independent life, whose loftiness and divinity is not relying on its formation; for this life is in itself divine, because it consists of nothing but the pure instinct of development – an eternal blooming into light and nothing else.

 

Love is the instinct of development into divine freedom.  This heart which would be felt by thee, would fain become free; it would fain escape from prison, into thy consciousness.  Thou art the realm, the star which it will conquer for its freedom.  Love will by and by overcome eternity, which, as thou knowest, will never end.

 

This longing yonder it is the breath which heaves the breast, and love the air which we drink.

 

Through thee I shall get into immortal life; he who loves, gets through the beloved into the divine, into bliss.  Love is to overflow into bliss.

 

To tell thee all, is my whole existence with thee; thought is the gate, which lets the mind pass; there it rushes on and lifts itself up to the soul, which it loves, and there sinks again and kisses the beloved; and that is – extasy, to be sensible of the thought, which love kindness.

 

May this sweet harmony with thee, in which our spirits meet, be preserved to me; this bold heroism, which rises far above the level of distress and care, ascending upwards by heavenly steps, to meet such beautiful thoughts, of which I know they proceed from thee.

 

GOETHE TO BETTINE

 

June 7th

 

Only a few moments before my departure for Carlsbad, thy dear letter came to me from the Rheingau; on each page appears so much that is splendid and weighty, that I before-hand lay an embargo upon every prophetic inspiration of thy love.  Thy letters go with me, which I unravel like a worked cord of many colours, to set in order the splendid wealth which they contain.  Continue with this attractive fairy-light-dance to rejoice my contemplative life, and to lead relative adventures: it is all familiar to me through my own youthful recollections, as the distant home, which one feels distinctly enough although it has been long left.  Inquire the history of thy hard-burned sailor’s life, if thou meetest him again; it would be indeed interesting, to learn, how the Indian sea-man came at last to the Rhine, to scare away in the perilous hour the birds of prey from my dear child.  Adieu!  Thou oak-forest and the cool vallies, which wait for me, are not unfavourable to the state of mind, which thou understandest so irresistibly how to call forth: preach also thy Nature-Evangelies, always in the happy assurance, that thou hast a pious believer in me.

 

My excellent mother has written very sorrowfully to me, that she must pass the summer without thee; thy rich love will also providingly care for this want and thou wilt not forget one in the other.

 

Pray, as opportunity offers, express my thanks my reverence to our excellent Prince Primate, that he has honoured my son so above all expectation, and made so rare a festival for his good grand-mother.  I should indeed myself return thanks, but I feel persuaded, thou wilt deliver that which I have to say better and more gracefully, if not more heartily.

 

Thy letters will be the most welcome visit to me at the three Moors at Carlsbad, and that too from which I promise myself the most good.  Relate to me as much as possible of thy journies, gipsey-parties, new and old possessions and keep me in continual lively remembrance.

 

GOETHE

 

June 16th

 

Here are still a thousand splendid paths, all leading to celebrated parts of the Rhine; on the other side lies the Johannisberg, up whose steep we daily see processions clambering, who invoke blessing on the vineyards; yonder the departing sun, streams in his purple over the rich land, and the evening-breeze solemnly bears up in the air the flags of the tutelary saints, and swells out the wide folded white surplices of the clergy, who at dusk, wind like an obscure cloud-picture, down the mountain.  As they approach nearer, the singing may be heard; the children’s voices sound the most distinctly: the bass pushes only at intervals the melodies into the right joints, that the little school-crowd may not carry them too high, and then pauses at the foot of the hill where the vine-yards discontinue.  As soon as the chaplain has sprinkled the last vine from the holy-water vessel, the whole procession are scattered like chaff, the clerk takes flags, water-vessel and sprinkler, stole and surplice, all under his arm, and carries them hastily away, and as if the boundaries of the vineyards were also those of God’s audience, worldly life directly follows, their throats are mastered by roguish songs, and a merry allegro of fun, drives away the song of penitence, all sorts of mischief go forward, the boys wrestle, and fly their kites on the banks in moonlight, the girls spread out their linen, which lies upon the bleach, and the lads bombard them with chesnuts: there the herdsman drives the cows through the uproar, the ox foremost, to make way; the pretty daughters of the landlord stand under the vine-foliage clapping with the cover of the wine-can: there the canons call in, and pass judgement upon the vintages and cellars; the matin-preacher says to the chaplain after the procession is done: “Now we have represented to God what the vines need; still a week’s dry weather, then early in the morning rain, and at noon warm sunshine, and so on through July and August; if then there be no good vintage it is not our fault.”

 

Yesterday I wandered past the procession, up to the monastery, from which it came down.  I often made halt, still to hear the echoing songs.  There above, it was very lonely: after the howling of the dogs, who made an obligato accompaniment to the Psalmody, had died away, I listened to the distance: there I heard the dull sinking hum of the departing day; I remained sitting in thought, - there came from out the far wood of Vollraz something white; it was a rider upon a white horse; the animal looked like a spirit, his soft canter sounded to me predictingly; the limber figure of the rider bent so flexibly with the motions of the horse, which arched its neck so softly and easily: he soon approached with slower step, I placed myself on the road, in the dark he might have taken me for a boy; in brown cloak and black cap I did not look exactly like a girl.  He asked if the road here were not too steep to ride up, and how far it was to Rüdesheim.  I guided him down the hill, the horse breathed upon me and I patted its soft neck.  The rider’s black hair, his lofty brow and nose were plainly to discern in the clear night-sky.  The field-watchman passed by and greeted us, I pulled off my cap; my heart beat near my dubious companion; we gave one another room for closer observation; whatever he might please to think of me did not seem to make any great impression upon him, but I discovered in his features, in his dress and movements, one charming peculiarity after the other.  Careless, unconscious and unaffected he sat upon his horse, which divided mastership with him.  Yonder he flew swimming in vapour, which but too soon concealed him from me, but I remained standing alone by the last vine, where the procession had separated in fun and mirth.  I felt myself much humbled, it did not only seem to me, I was convinced, that this rider, full of ardent life, who even now had passed by me most indifferently, strived with all the power of his five senses, to what is most previous and elevated in life.

 

Solitude gives consciousness to the spirit, the sweet scented vine-hills soothed me again to contentment. 

 

And now undisguised I entrust thee with my rider, my wounded vanity, my longing after the living secret in the human breast.  If in thee I shall become alive, if I shall enjoy, breathe and repose, all in the feeling of success with thee, I must without detriment to thy loftier nature acknowledge all that I want, all that I see, hear and forebode; receive me, direct me aright and grant me the secret pleasure of our deepest intelligence.

 

The soul is born for the service of God: when one spirit kindles in another, feels itself in it and learns to understand it – this is my service of God – the more inly, the more pure and lively.

 

When I lie on the grassy ground, shone upon by sun and moon, there thou sanctifiest me.

 

BETTINE

 

June 25th

 

Thou surely wilt visit once again the Rhine, the garden of thy native country, which becomes as a home to the wanderer, where Nature shows herself so friendly great: - how, with sympathising spirit has she animated anew the mighty ruins; how does she clamber up and down the gloomy walls, and accompany the deserted places with flattering verdure, training the wild roses up the old watch-towers; and the service-berries, which laugh from out the weather beaten loop-holes.  Yes! come and wander through the mighty mountain-forest, from the temple down to the rock-nest, which looks down over the foaming Bingerloch, the pinnacles crowned with young oaks; where the limber skulls like sly lizards, shoot by the Mäusethurm through the rapid stream.  There thou standest and seest, how the clear sky above blooming vine-hills, laughs from out the water-mirror and thyself painted there in the midst, upon thy bold, capricious, basaltic Ehrenfels (rock of honour), outlined in solemn, awful embracing precipices, and obstinate projections; there contemplate the opening of the vallies, how with their peaceful convents, between undulating fields, they bloom forth from out the blue distance, and the hunting-chaces and hanging gardens, which fly from castle to castle, and the jewelry of towns and villages, which adorn the banks.

 

Ah! Weimar, ah! Carlsbad, resign to me the friend! Lock up your desk and come here rather than to go to Carlsbad; it is but a trifle, to say to the postillion “to the left” instead of “to the right”: I know what you want; I will put your room in order, near mine – the corner-room, with one window looking down the Rhine, the other, over it; a table, a chair, a bed and a dark curtain, that the sun may not shine in upon you too early.  Must one for ever hum-drum along the way to the Temple of Fame, where one so often feels exhausted?

 

I just now discovered the letter-carrier, I sprang towards him; he shewed me from afar your letter; he rejoiced with me and not without reason, he said: “The letter is certainly from the sweet-heart you like best.” “Yes” said I “for ever” – this he took as an exclamation of melancholy.

 

To day your mother wrote to me, she gives me hearty assurance of her good will: of your son I sometimes hear through others, but he himself sends no news.

 

And now farewell! may your stay at Carlsbad be beneficial, I give my blessings on your health, if you were ill and in pain, I should also suffer; I have already been obliged to feel much, which you long since endured, even before I knew you.

 

The three Moors shall be your watchmen, to take heed that no stranger guest intrudes upon you, and that you make to yourself no graven image to worship it.  Let the three Moors witness, that I beg your serious constancy, preserve it for me among the elegant languishing bathing-nymphs, who dance around you: wear on your breast the pin with the Gordian knot, consider, that you ought, out of the fullness of my love, to make no wilderness of sorrow, nor to cut the knot in twain.

 

I have written to the Primate by your commission, he is at Aschaffenburg; he has invited me to come there, with the whole family, then I can impart everything to him once more.  I will give intelligence of it.

 

Now for the last time I kiss thy hand and lips, that I may begin a new letter to-morrow.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

July 5th

 

If I were to describe to thee, dearest Master, all the excursions, which we make from our Rhine-residence, not a minute would remain to me to sigh and languish.  I should be glad if it were so; for when my heart is full, I would fain let it stream over before thee; but that will not do.  Has one ascended hill over hill, the whole day beneath the burning sun, drank in with haste all the splendours of Nature, as cool wine in the heat, then at evening he would rather clasp the friend on his heart, and tell him of loving him, than make a long description of way and path.  What indeed can I do before thee, except gaze inliest upon thee!  What can I chatter of to thee? – What can my silly prattle be to thee?

 

He who languishes after beautiful Nature, will best describe her; nothing will be forgotten, no sun-beam which steals through the rocky-cleft, o storm-bird which skims the waves, no weed, no insect, no flower on lonely spot: - but he who is in the midst of all this, and with glowing temples and cheeks arrives above, loves to fall asleep like me on the green lawn, and thinks but little further; oftentimes the heart gets a push, then I look around and seek, to whom I may confide.

 

What are all the mountains stretching into the blue distance to me, the swelling sails on the Rhine, the foaming eddies? – it only oppresses one after all, and – no answer – never! let one ask ever so imploringly.

 

July 7th

 

Thus sounds the heavy sighs at evening – in the morning it sounds otherwise; I am roused before sun-rise and impelled forth, as if to meet a long expected messenger.  I can already manage the boat alone; my dearest matin is, to loose it cunningly and by stealth from the chain, and to study out my passage to the opposite shore.  I must each time learn anew; it is a hardihood begun in wantonness, but most devoutly concluded, for I thank God, when I am safely landed.  Then without choice I traverse one of the many diverging paths, which open here in every direction.  Each time expectation is listening within my heart, each time is it set free; now by the all-embracing space viewed from some height, then by the sun, which so suddenly wakes all to life: I clamber down the walls of rock: pure moss, elegant lichen-braids clothe the stone, - little grottoes for resting as if cast in a mould: in them I stop for breath; yonder between dark rocks, shines a brighter green: blooming in strength spotless, amidst the wilderness I find the flower on a neat hearth – simple housekeeping of God! in the midst of bloomy walls, the altar* surrounded by waving sacerdotal nymphs**, who pour out their liberations from flowery cups***, and scatter incense, and like the Indian maidens, cast gold-dust in the air. – Then I see a flash in the sand: I must go down and then up again, - it might be a diamond, which chance has brought to light: - were it one, I would give it you, and imagine your wonder at the treasure of our Rhenish rocks.  There I lie on some unshaded spot with burning cheeks, and gather courage, to climb once more over to the sweet-scented linden.  On the cross-way, at the poors-box of St. Pater, who with the great key of Heaven stands imprisoned in the barred niche, I rest myself on the soft grass and seek in vain oh Heaven! on thy blue vault, the hole, into which the key might fit; for I would forth out of the dungeon of Ignorance and Unconsciousness; where is the door which opens to light and freedom? – Something flutters and twitters in the foliage, close to me; there beneath the low bough the little finch-mother sits and looks at me complainingly.

 

There are the pretty little adventures and fatigues of the day!  Homewards, I made acquaintance with the little gossard-girl; she beamed upon me from afar with her inch-long black eyelashes; the other children laughed at her, because she had such long eyelashes.  She stood there ashamed and at last began to cry.  I comforted her and said “Since God has placed you as guardian over the pretty white geese, and you are always upon the open meadow, where the sun dazzles so, he has also given you these long eye-shades.”  The geeze crowded round their weeping protectress, and hissed at me and the laughing children: could I paint – that were indeed a picture.

 

Well is it, that I do not know much of what passes in the world, and understand nothing of art and sciences; I should be easily tempted, to speak to you about them, and my imagination would presume upon knowing everything; now my mind feeds on inspiration.  I hear many things named, applied, compared, that I do not understand; what hinders me from asking about them? what makes me so indifferent to them? or why do I avoid learning anything new.

 

*) style

**) stamina

***) apices

 

Early in the Morning

 

A host of clouds drowns my early walk this morning; over yonder, the banks are swinging and wavering, like shadows of the nether world; the spires of the fog buried towns and villages scarcely push through; the beautiful green meadows are vanished.  It is still quite early – I know it can scarcely be four o’clock, the cocks are crowing from place to place, from neighbour to neighbour in the round to Mittelheim; none robs the other of the honour of the long echo; and thus it continues along the distance how far! (the morning stillness between,) like the watchmen on the Mosques, who call to morning prayer.

 

Morning hours, bring golden showers: I already see glancing and flashing on the water; the rays break through and sow stars on the hastening stream, which with two days of continual pouring has become swelled.

 

There! heaven has torn its veil asunder! now it is certain, that we shall have fine weather to day; I remain at home and will count all the sails, which pass by, and give room to all contemplations, which the wide and gradually brightening prospect brings.  You know well enough the stream of life; and know where the sand-banks and reefs are, and the whirlpools which drag us down to the deep, and how far the exulting sailor, with spread sails and a fresh wind will come, and what awaits him on shore.

 

If you please to think for a moment on the capriciousness of my affection and excitability of my mind, it may perhaps be perceptible to you, what will happen to me inexperienced navigator.  Oh tell me, that I must hope nothing from the air-castles, which even now the clouds are piling up, on the saffron and purple field of the rising sun, tell me, this loving, this flame-rising, this daring silence between me and the world is nought!

 

Ah! the rainbow, even now placing its diamond foot upon the Ingelheimer land, and rising over the house to rest on the Johannisberg, may be just like the blissful illusion, I entertain of thee and me.  And the Rhine spreading forth his net, to receive the picture of his paradise-banks, is like this flame of life, which is nourished by reflections from the unreachable.  Let it gain then nothing more from reality than this illusion – it will give to me also the peculiar mind and the character which expresses my own self even as the picture does to the river on which it is reflected.

 

Evening

 

This morning I sailed with the humorous Rhine-inspired Nicholas Vogt, to the Ingelheim meadows; his enthusiastic relations were quite inter-woven with the “Ohs” and “Ahs” of past beautiful times.  He began quite at the beginning even by wondering if Adam did not live here in Paradise; and then he told of the origin of the Rhine, and of its windings through wild ravines, and narrow passes of rock, and how it flows North, and is again turned back on the left to the West, where it forms the Bodensee and then throws itself so powerfully over the opposing rocks; yes said the good Vogt, at once slyly and merrily, one can compare the river in all points with Goethe.  Only pay attention; the three little brooks, which from the height of the tremendous primeval rock (composed of such various and varying parts,) precipitate themselves and form the Rhine, first bubbling like a sprightly lad, are the three Muses: namely Science, Art and Poetry; and as, there are still other splendid rivers, the Tessin, the Adda and Inn, among which the Rhine is the most magnificent and famous, so is Goethe also the most magnificent and famous among Herder, Schiller and Wieland; and there were the Rhine forms the Bodensee, that is Goethe’s amiable universality, where his spirit is equally pervaded by the three sources: there where it falls headlong over the opposing rocks – that is his daring victory over prejudice, his paganish nature, which foams up mightily and is tumultuously inspired; there come his Xeniae and Epigrams, his Views of Nature, which strike in the faces of the old Philistines, and his Philosophical and Religious aims,  which bubble and roar between the narrow crags of contradiction and prejudice and then gradually subside: but now comes the best comparison.  The rivers which he receives: the Limmat, the Thur, the Reuss, the Ill, the Lauter, the Queich, all female streams, there are his amours and so it continues to the last turn.  The Selz, the Nahe, the Saar, the Mosel, the Nette, the Ahr – (now they come running to him from the black forest and from the rough Alps – all maiden rivers;) – the Elz, the Treisam, the Kinzig, the Murg, the Kraich, then the Reus, and the Jaxt: from Odin’s wood and Meliborus down, a pair of lovely streams are on their feet – the Wesnitz and the Schwarz-bach; - they are in such a hurry; hereaway? where away?  Then the Maine silently conducts to him the Nid and the Kruftel; these he quietly swallows and remains always himself; and our great German Poet does even the same as our great German river; where he goes and stays, where he has been or comes, there is always something to be loved, rising on the stream of his inspiration.

 

I was surprized at this numerous company: Vogt was of opinion, that they were by no means all: there was no end of comparison.  History and fable, fire and water, all that is above or beneath the earth, he understood how to apply: a rhinoceros-skeleton and petrified palms, which were found in the Rhine, he took as an allegory of thy most interesting studies in natural history.  Thus he instructed me and prophesied that thou like the Rhine wouldst endure to the end, and that thou like the river, after having satisfied and enjoyed all, wouldst softly and gently leave on to the ocean of eternity.  He wrote me down a plan of all the rivers and compared me to the Nidda, ah! how sorry I am, that after this, should still come the Lahn, the Sayn, the Sieg, the Roer, the Lippe and the Ruhr!

 

Adieu!  I call this letter “The Epistle of Walks”; if they don’t please you, remember that the Nidda contains no gold grains in its bed like the Rhine, only a bit of quicksilver.

 

Receive my greetings at “The three Moors.”

 

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

 

July 15th

 

Two letters from thee, dear Bettine, so rich with life, have followed close one upon another – the first as I was about to take the air.  We took it with us, and mastered its contents, at an appropriate, convenient place of repose, where nature and disposition in unison with thy sensible but joyful narrations and remarks, did not fail to make a highly pleasant impression, which shall continue to show itself throughout the “Gordian knot.”  May the Gods incline to its magic folds; and no mischievous spirit of evil gnaw them!  I will not fail to preserve thy offensive and defensive privileges against nymphs and wood-demons.

 

Thy description of the Rhine-procession and fleeting shape of the rider gave me much pleasure; they show how thou perceivest and wilt be felt; let not such visions escape thee, and do not neglect, to take such passing excitement by the forelock, then it remains in your power, to conjure up again the vanished, in ideal form. – Thou hast also my thanks for the nature-inspirations, in which thou hast so gracefully, arrested my picture, one cannot check such pretty compliments.

 

This morning thy second epistle came to hand, which supplied to me the place of fine weather.  I read it through at leisure and therewith studied the drift of the clouds.   I willingly confess to thee, that thy rich pages give me the highest joy; greet in my name thy humorous friend, who is already known to me by reputation and thank him for his generous comparison; although by this, I become endued with extraordinary privileges, I will not abuse them to the disadvantage of thy kind disposition; continue thus to love me and I will willingly let the Lahn and the Sayn go their way.

 

Write to my mother and let her write to thee; love one another: much indeed is gained, when one takes possession of the other through love; and when thou writest again, thou couldst at the same time do me a favour, if always at the end thou wouldst make a free and open acknowledgement of the date; for besides many advantages, which time first will show – it is also particularly delightful to know at once, in how short a time all this has passed from heart to heart.  The feeling of freshness, has a kindly, space-diminishing effect, from which we may both draw advantage.

G.

 

TO GOETHE

 

July 18th

 

Were you ever on the Rochus-mountain?  It has in the distance something very alluring, how shall I describe it to you? – as if one would so like to feel and stroke it, it is so smooth and velvety.  When the Chapel on its height is illuminated by the evening sun, and one looks into the rich green round dales which lie so closely locked together, it seems, yearningly encamped over the banks of the Rhine, with its soft slope to the country around, and with the smooth furrows, as if it would awake all nature to joy.  It is to me the dearest spot in the Rheingau; it lies an hour’s walk from our house, I have already visited it at morning and evening, in mist, in rain and in sunshine.  The chapel has been ruined a few years ago; half the roof is fallen in; only the wreck of the nave arches still remains, where the gledes which have built a great nest in the roof, ever fly in and out with their young, keeping up wild screaming which reminds incessantly of the water’s neighbouring.  Half the great altar is yet standing, upon it a high cross, on the under part of which the tumbled boy of the Christ is bound fast.  I climbed up the altar, to do the fragments a last honour, I was about to stick a large bunch of flowers which I had gathered on my way, in a crack in the Christ’s head; to my great terror it fell before my feet; the gledes and sparrows and all that had nested there, flew up at the noise and the quiet loneliness of the spot was for minutes disturbed.  Through the openings of the door the furthest mountains look in; on one side the Altkönig, on the other the Hundsrück as far as Kreuznach, limited by the Donnersberg; behind you may overlook as much land as you please.  Like a broad festival garment, the Rhine drags it training after him, whom you see adorned with all its green islands as with emeralds; the Rüdesheim-berg, the Scharlach and the Johannis-berg, and however all those noble rocks may be called, where the best vine grows, lie on either side, and catch like glittering jewels the hot sunbeam; one can there clearly discern each effect of nature upon the energy of the wine, how the vapours roll themselves up in balls and glide down the mountain-walls, how the soil greedily swallows them, and how the hot winds skim over it.  Nothing more beautiful than evening-purple overtaking such a vapour-drunken vine-hill; it is as if God himself had reanimated the old creation, - ay! as if it were the vine-hill’s own inebriated spirit by which it is envapoured.  And when at last the clear night rises – giving rest to all – and to me also, who before perhaps had stretched forth my arms and could not reach; who has thought on thee, had thy name a hundred times on my lips, yet did not utter it! – should not I have felt pain, had I once ventured thy name, and – no answer? – all still?  Yes, nature! – but to be so closely intimate with her, that in her bliss one had enough! – but not so is it with me! – Dear, dear friend, allow me now to kiss both thy hands, and do not draw them back, as thou wert wont to do.

 

Where was I last night?  If they only knew that I did not sleep at home all night and yet rested so sweetly!  To you I will tell it; you are far off …… you should scold, the thunder of your words will sound away before it reaches here.

 

Yesterday evening I went alone up the Rochus-mountain, and wrote to you thus far; then I dreamed a little, and as I came to myself and believed the sun was about to set, lo! it was the rising moon!  I was surprized and should have been afraid, - but the stars did not suffer it; - these hundred thousands and I together in that night! – Yes! who am I, that I should tremble? – am I numbered with them? – I did not dare to descend; I should have found no boat to ferry over; besides, the nights are now not at all long; then I turned on my side, said good night to the stars, and soon fell asleep.  Now and then flitting breezes waked me, and then I thought on thee: as often as I awoke, I called thee to me, I always said in my heart: “Goethe, be with me, that I may not fear!”  Then I dreamed that I was sailing along the sedgy shores of the Rhine, when, there were it was deepest, between black chasms of rock, thy ring slipped from my finger; I saw it sink deeper and deeper, till it touched the bottom!  I was about to call for help when I awoke to the morning purpose, and was thrice happy that the ring was still upon my finger.  Oh!  Prophet! interpret to me this dream; step in before fate; let not danger come too near our love, after this beauteous night, when midst fear and joy, in council of the stars, I thought of thy future*.  I had long yearned after this sweet adventure, now it has stolen so softly over me, and every thing is as it was before.  No one knows where I was, and if they did – could they conjecture why? – Yonder thou camest, through the rustling forest, encompassed by mild twilight; and when thou wert quite near, the tired senses could not endure it: - the thyme was so powerful! then I fell asleep – it was so beautiful, all bloom and sweet scents!  And the far, boundless host of stars, and the flickering silver of the moon, which from distance to distance danced upon the stream – the vast stillness of Nature, in which one hears all that stirs; ah! here I feel my soul planted in this night-shiver; here germ future thoughts; these cold dew-pearls, which weigh on grass and weed – from these the spirit grows; it hastens, it will blossom for thee Goethe; it will expand its gay colours before thee; it is love to thee, that I think, that I wrestle after things not yet expressed.  Thou lookest upon me in spirit, and thy gaze draws thoughts from me; then I must often say, what I do not understand, - what I only see.

 

The spirit has also senses: as there is much, which we only hear, or only see, or only feel; so there are thoughts, which the spirit also perceives with but one of these senses; I often only see what I think often feel it: and when I hear it lo! it makes me tremble.  I know not how I come to this knowledge, which is not produced from my own reflection; - I look around me for the author of these tones; - and then I believe, that all is produced from the fire of love.  There is warmth in the spirit, we feel it: the cheeks glow from thought, and shiverings come over us, which fan inspiration into a new glow.  Yes, dear friend! this morning as I waked, I felt as if I had attained to the experience of something great, as if the vows of my heart had wings, and soared over vale and mountain, into the pure, joyous light-filled sky. – No oath, no conditions; all nothing but, appropriate motion, pure striving after the Heavenly.  This is my vow: freedom from all ties, and that I will only believe in the Spirit, which reveals the beautiful, which prophesies bliss.

 

The night-dew had washed me; the sharp morning breeze dried me again: I felt a slight shiver, but warmed myself in descending my dear velvet Rochus; the butterflies were already flying around the flowers; I drove them all together before me, and where I saw one on the road, I chanced it to my flock; below I had at least thirty together – O! how I should have liked to have driven them with me across the Rhine, but there they all twirled away from one another.

 

A cargo of Frankfort visitors has just arrived – Christian Schlosser brings me a letter from your mother and you.  I conclude, that I may read them.

 

THY CHILD

 

*) See Appendix

 

Dear Goethe!  Thou art content with me, and art pleased with all that I write, and wilt wear my gold breast-pin: - yes! do so, and let it be a talisman for this joyous season.  To day is the twenty first.

 

TO GOETHE

 

Caub

 

I write to you in crystal midnight; black basaltic country, dipped in moonlight!  The town forms a complete cat’s back, with its ducking houses, and is quite furred with bristling points of rock and mountain ruins; and there opposite it shines and flickers in the shade, as when one rubs the cat’s back.

 

A lay already in bed beneath a strange damask coverlid, which was quite stiff with worked escutcheons and initials, and faded roses and jasmine-sprigs; but under this, I had rolled myself up in the silver-bear skin of which you know.   I lay quite easy and pleasant, and considered of all that Christian Schlosser had spun to me on the way; he said you understood nothing of music, and did not like to hear spoken of death.  I asked how he knew all this: - he said, he had given himself the trouble of instructing you in music, but had not succeeded – but about death he had never commenced speaking, for fear of displeasing you.  And just as I was thinking of this, in the lonely marriage-bed, ornamented with great plumes, I heard a song in a strange language, singing with-out: so much melody, so much pause! – I spring in my silver bear-skin to the window and peep out – there sat my spanish sailor in the fresh moonlight and singing.  I knew him directly by the golden tassel on his cap; I said “Good Evening Captain; I thought you had swam down the Rhine into the open sea a week ago.”  He recognized me immediately and answered that he waited to know if I would not accompany him.  I let him sing the lay once more; it sounded very solemnly: at the pauses one could hear the echo from the little sharp-cornered Pfalz, which with its ivory turrets and silver battlements, which quite melted in moonlight.

 

I do not know, dear Goethe, what demonstrations in music Schlosser made to you with his leathery voice – but had you listened last night with me to the foreign mariner, how the tones solemnly danced a round together, how they rolled over to the shore, breathed upon the rocks, and the soft echo, so sweetly waked in the deep night, dreamingly prolonged the sound; the mariner! – how languishing in a pause he dolefully heaves a sigh, complains in high tones, then worked up to despair, calls resoundingly upon the impossible, and then with renewed passion yields his song to memory, in pearly rows of soft tones pours forth the whole treasure of his happiness, - breathes oh! and ah! – listens, - rebounding calls – again listens – and without an answer at last gathers the flock, - in forgetfulness numbers the little lambs, - one, - two, - three, - and then forsakes the desolate strand of his life, the poor shepherd! – Ah! wonderful mediation of the ineffable, which oppresses the bosom! ah, music! –

 

Yes! hadst thou heard it too, thou wouldst have participated in these destinies, thou wouldst have sighed for them – wept for them, - and inspiration would have pervaded thee and me, dear Goethe, - who was there deeply moved; me consolation would have overtaken in thine arms.

 

The sailor bid me good night; I sprang into my great bed under the damask cover; it creaked so in my ears, I could not sleep – I wanted to lie still – then I heard in the twisted bed-posts, the death-watch ticking: one after the other went to work like busy workmen in an armoury.

 

I must blush to own it to you, but I am sometimes afraid, when I am so alone at night, and look into darkness; there is nothing, but I cannot arm myself against it: at such times I would not be alone; and only on that account I often think.  I must marry, that I may have a protector against this confused, perplexing phantom-world.  Ah!  Goethe – do you take this unkindly? – Yes! when day breaks, then I am myself thoroughly vexed at such silly cowardice.  I can go at night into the open air and into the forest, where each bush, each branch, presents a different countenance; my strange, danger-defying wantonness conquers alarm.  Besides out of doors it is quite another thing – there they are not so intrusive; one feels the life of nature as an eternal and divine effect, streaming through all and one’s self, - who can be afraid then?  The night before last upon the Rochus, as I was quite alone, I heard the wind coming up from a great distance – the nearer it came, the more speedily it encreased and then exactly at my feet it softly sunk its wings, without even touching my cloak, nay scarcely breathed upon me – must I not believe that it was sent, but to bring me a greeting?  You know well Goethe, sighs are messengers.  You sit alone at the open window late in the evening and think and feel the last inspiration for the last loved one, rolling in your veins, - then involuntarily you heave a sigh – this is in a moment chasing on its way – you cannot call it back.

 

Wandering sighs are called those which rise from an unquiet breast, from perplexed thought and desire; but such a sigh from a mighty bosom, where the thoughts in beauteous turns entwining themselves, move their buskined, dew-bathed feet in a holy measure, led on by the flight of the muse – such a sigh which unbars thy breast to thy songs, - it soars a herald before them! and my sighs, dear friend! – by thousands they surround this one.

 

Now to night I have been most cruelly afraid – I looked at the window where it was clear – how fain would I have been yonder! – I lay upon the fatal hereditary bed of the last century, in which knight and prelate perhaps have breathed their last spirits, and a dozen little gentlemen (death-watch) all fixed to the spot, industriously knocked and ticked away.  Ah! how I longed for the cool night-air.  Can one be so foolish? – Suddenly I conquered myself and stood in the middle of the room. – Once upon my feet, I am a heroine, let me see who dare offend me – ah how my heart and temples beat! the fourteen friends in need (whom I from old Convent-habit summoned to my assistance) are also no company to make one laugh since one carries under his arm his head, the other his entrails and so on – I let them all out of the window.  And thou magic mirror, in which all that I see and hear, is so enchantingly reflected, what was it, which made me blessed?  Nothing! – Deep consciousness, breathing peace: - thus I stood at the window and awaited the breaking day.

 

BETTINE

 


July 24st

 

I cannot leave you at peace about music.  You shall acknowledge whether you love me, you shall say whether you are penetrated by music.  Schlosser has studied through-bass in order to explain it to you, and you have, as he says, made resistance to the flat seventh, and have said: “get away with your flat seventh, if you cannot arrange it in form and order, if it do not fall into the so conclusively settled laws of harmony, if it have not its sensible natural origin, as well as the other tones, away! – and have chased the disconcerted Missionary out of thy heathen temple, keeping in the mean time to your Lydian measure, which has no flat seventh. – But, heathen, thou must become a Christian!  The flat seventh does not harmonize certainly, and is without sensible basis; it is the divine leader, - the Mediator between sensual and heavenly Nature; it is elevated above sense, it leads on to the spirit-world; it has assumed flesh and bone, to free the spirit from flesh; it has become tone, to give spirit to tone, and if it were not, all tones would remain in limbo.  You are not to imagine, that the fundamental chords have in them more effectual wisdom, than the Church-Fathers, before the Redemption, before the Ascension.  He came and carried them with him to heaven, and now that they are redeemed, they can themselves redeem, - they can satisfy constant yearning.  As it is with Christians, so is it with sounds: every Christian feels the Redeemer within himself, each tone can elevate itself to Mediator, or seventh, and thus perfect the eternal work of redemption from the sensual to the heavenly; as only through Christ we enter the kingdom of Spirit, so only through the seventh, the benumbed kingdom of tone is delivered and becomes Music.  – Spirit, in eternal motion, which is, properly speaking, heaven: - as soon as they come in contact, new spirits, new notions are produced: their dance, their groups become divine revelations; music is the medium of spirit, through which the sensual becomes spiritual – and as redemption extends itself to all, who, embraced by the living spirit of the Godhead, long after eternal life, so the flat seventh by its solution leads all tones, which pray to it for delivery, in a thousand different ways, to their source – divine spirit.  And we poor creatures should be satisfied, that we feel: our comprehend bliss; we are not to wait for a well-cushioned, dressed out Heaven, like your mother; who believes, that all which has delighted us on earth, will be found yonder in greater splendour: she goes so far as to maintain, that her faded wedding-gown of pale green silk, damasked with gold and silver leaves with crimson velvet robe, will yonder form her heavenly garment; and that the jewelled bouquet, which a cruel thief purloined from her, is already imbibing the light of the stars, to glitter upon her forehead as diadem among the heavenly crowns.  She says: “why was this countenance made mine, and wherefore from out my eyes should the spirit accost this or that one, if it were not of heaven and in attendance upon heaven? all that is dead makes no impression, but that which impresses, is of eternal life.”  When I relate anything to her of my invention, she says, they are all, things which will be essentialized in Heaven, Often I describe to her my imaginary works of art.  She says: “they are tapestries of the fancy, with which the walls of the heavenly dwellings are adorned.”  She was lately at a concert and was much delighted by a violoncello; I made use of the opportunity and said: “Take care, Frau Rath, that the angels don’t beat your head about with the fiddle-bow, till you perceive, that music is heaven.”  She was quite struck, and after a long pause said: “Girl! You may be right.”

 

25th

 

What am I doing Goethe?  I pass half my nights in writing to you; yesterday morning early I fell asleep in the boar (we sailed to St. Goar) and dreamed about music, and that which I yesterday evening half weary half possessed wrote for you, is scarcely the shadow of that which spoke within me; but truth lies therein; there is indeed a great difference between that, which the spirit imparts to us sleeping, and that, which waking we are able to maintain upon it.  I tell you, I hope in future to be more collected, when I write to you; I will moderate myself and collect all little lines and features, without effort, to see if they arise from one intuition, if they form one system.  I should myself like to know, what music is; I seek it, as man seeks eternal wisdom.  Do not believe that I am not in earnest about what I have written; I believe it exactly because I have thought it although it does want heavenly genius, and one perceives at once, how happy I was to take refuge from my demon (angry that I understood him so ill,) behind your mother’s golden hoop petticoat. – Adieu! late yesterday evening I walked by moonlight in the beautiful, blooming Linden-walk, on the banks of the Rhine; there I heard a clapping and soft singing.  Before her cottage beneath the blooming Linden-tree, sat the mother of twins; one she had upon her breast, and the other she rocked with her foot, in measure to the song she was singing: thus already in the very germ, where scarce is to be found the first trace of life, music is the nurse of the spirit; a humming in the ear and then the child sleeps; tones are the companions of its dreams, they are its world; it has nothing – the child, even though the mother rock it; it is alone in spirit; but the tones penetrate it and bind it to themselves, as the earth binds to itself the life of plants; and if music did not support its life, it would become cold; and so music broods on, from the time when the spirit first moves itself, till it becomes fledged and ripe, and impatiently strives after heaven, - there we shall also learn, that music was the mother-warmth, which called the spirit from forth its earthly shell.

Amen

 

26th

 

This secret delight to sleep upon thy breast! for to write to you after having passed through the business of the day, is a real dreaming upon thy heart encompassed by thy arms: I always rejoice, when we put up at the little Inns and the cry is: “we will go early to bed, for we must turn out betimes.”  Frank always chaces me the first to bed, and indeed I am always so tired, that I can scarcely wait the time; I throw off my clothes in haste and sink for weariness as in a deep well: then the forest through which we have travelled in the day, surrounds me; the light of dreams flashes through the dim vaults of sleep. – Dreams are but bubbles, one says; I have made another remark; - may it perhaps be true? the country, the neighbourhood in which I find myself during my dreams, is always significant of the disposition of the passive state of my mind.  For instance: I always dream now of something concealed, secret; now, caverns of soft moss by cool streams, closed by blossoming branches; then, dim forest-recesses, where it is certain no one finds or seeks us.  There in dream I wait for thee – I am still and look around for thee: I wander along narrow overgrown paths, then hasten back, because I believe that now thou art there: then will suddenly breaks through; I struggle within myself to possess thee and that is – my waking.  Then the east is already painted, I pull the table to the window, twilight veils the first lines; but before I have written to the end of the page, the sun shines. -  Ah! what do I then write to thee?  I can myself form no judgment, but am always curious to know what will come next.  Let others enrich their destiny by pilgrimage to the promised land, let them write their journal of learned and other things, if they even bring you an elephant’s foot or a petrified snail – all this I will master, if only in their dreams they do not like me sink down in thee.  Leave to me the stilly night, take no cares with thee to bed, repose in the beauteous peace, which I prepare for thee – I am also so happy in thee!  It is certainly as you say, beautiful to wander with the friend of one’s soul through the labyrinth of spiritual treasures; but dare I not petition for the child, who is dumb with love?  For to say the truth, this written chat is nothing but a help at need – the deepest love in me is dumb; it is, as a midge buzzing about your ears in sleep, and if you will not wake and be aware of me, then it will sting you.  Tell me!  is this passion, which I here rehearse before thee?  O tell me! if it were but true! if I were born to burn away with passion, if I were the lofty cedar upon the world-topping Lebanon, fired as a sacrifice to thy genius, and could exhale in fragrance, so that through me each might drink in thy spirit; if it were thus, my friend, that passion could give birth to the spirit of the beloved, even as fire gives birth to vapour! – and thus it really is! thy spirit dwells in me, and inflames me, and I consumed in flame, and exhale, and all that the flying sparks reach, burns too;  thus music is now crackling and flimmering within me, it must also submit to become a joyful burnt offering – only it will not burn quite clear, and makes a great deal of smoke. – Here I think of you and Schiller; the world views you as two brothers upon one throne, he has as many followers as you; - they do not know, that they are touched by one through the other, but I am certain of it.  I too was once unjust to Schiller, and believed that because I love you, I dare not reverence him: but after I had seen you, and after that his ashes, remained as a last holy relic, as bequeathment to his friends, then I considered within myself: I felt assured, that the cry of the ravens over this holy corpse, was like the unjust sentence. Do you know what you said to me, as we saw one another for the first time? – I will insert it here, as a memorial stone of thy inmost conscience. You said: “I still think of Schiller:” in the mean time you looked upon me and sighed deeply; and then I interrupted and was telling you, that I was no admirer of his, but you said: “I would that he were now here; you would feel otherwise, no one could withstand his goodness; if he was not so richly and abundantly respected, it was because his spirit streamed through the whole life of his time, and because each was nourished and supported by him, and every want supplied.  This he was to others, this he was of all the most to me, and his loss cannot be replaced.”  At that time I wrote down your words, not to impart them to others as your remarkable judgment, no – because I felt ashamed.  These words have been beneficial to me, they have made me wise, and often when I have been about to pronounce sentence of death upon some one, it occurred to me how you at that time in your mild justice, pronounced sentence upon my presumption.  I was obliged in excitement of jealousy to acknowledge, that I was nothing.  “Nothing is touched in vain” you answered “this connection of many years, this earnest, deep conviction is become part of myself; and when I now go into the theatre and look towards his place, and am forced to believe, that he is no more in this world, that those eyes no longer seek me, then am I tired of life, and I also wish that I were no longer here.”

 

Dear Goethe, you placed me very high, when you at that time expressed to me such costly feelings and sentiments.  It was the first time, that any one had opened before me his inmost heart, and you were that one! yes, without hesitation you surrendered yourself to these after-throes in my presence; and certainly Schiller has had a favourable influence on me, for me made you tender and yielding, so that you remained long leaning upon me, and at last pressed me fast to your bosom.

 

I am tired: I have written from half past two till nearly five: to day it seems inclined never to grow light – thick rain-clouds are hanging over the sky: we must certainly wait till noon, before we can proceed further.  You should only see the tumult of vapour upon the Rhine, and what hangs from the single points of rock!  If we remain here, I will write to you in the afternoon again, for I wished to speak to you of music, and of Schiller and yourself, how you are both connected with it – it bothered my brain a long time already.

 

I am weary, dear Goethe, I must go sleep.

 

Evening

 

I am very tired, dear Friend, and would not write to you, but that I see, these pages of this strange zig-zag journey will form themselves into something entire; and therefore I will not neglect, if it be only in a few lines, to preserve the portrait of each day; nothing but storm and tempest; for a change, one single sun-beam.  All remained in St. Goarshausen and mounted the Rheinfels; my hands are torn by thorns and my knees still tremble from exertion, for I went before and chose the shortest and steepest way.  Here above, it looks so dark and solemn; a row of naked rocks push forward, crowding one behind the other, crowned with vineyards, woods and old castle-ruins; and thus they, holdly tread into the river-bed to meet the course of the Rhine, which from out the deep, still sea, sweeps about the enchanted Lurelei, rushes up over the even rocks, foams, bellows, swells, shoots against the ridge, and then like a real reveller, swallows up in itself the overboiling rage of the foaming floods.

 

From above, I viewed at my ease under the protecting wall of the Rheinfels, the after-comers, with red and green umbrellas, clambering wearily up the slippery path; and as just then the sun’s last beam of hope vanished, and a heavy shower put an end to the prayer for fine weather, the nature-loving company turned faint-hearted back almost from their goal, and I remained alone beneath the crowned heads.  How shall I describe this moment to you with one word – strikingly? scarcely could I fetch breath – so touching, so powerful! Ah! I am happy! the whole world is beautiful, and I see and hear all for thee!

 

I looked still and lonely into the roaring flood; the giant faces of the rocks intimidated me; I hardly trusted to raise my look – many are too bold – hanging over with the dark bush, which protrudes from out the burst side, the naked roots scarcely held by the stone, the hanging branches waving in the torrent; - it became so dark – I thought day would never break.  Just as I was considering whether the wolves would devour me to night, the sun came forth and striving with clouds, surrounded the heights with a ring of fire.  The forest-crowns flamed, the glens and ravines, breathed forth an awful deep-blue on the river – there a thousand reflexions play upon the petrified Landgraves, and a shadow-world danced around them in fleeting change upon the moving flood: everything wavered – I was obliged to turn away my eyes.  I tore down the ivy from the wall, and made garlands and slung them with my crook by which I had ascended, far into the flood.  Ah!  I scarcely saw them, and they were gone!  Good night.

 

[ A short passage of music is inserted here, to the words: O! good night! O! good night my dearest one!]

 

27th

 

Goethe! good morning!  I was at four o’clock this morning with the salmon-fishers and helped to keep watch, for they are also of opinion that “in troubled waters is good fishing” but it was of no use, none were taken.  I ransomed a carp, and set him free in the stream again to the honour of God and thee.

 

The weather will not clear up, we are just putting over to the left shore in order to return home by the carriage – how much I should have liked to have cruised about here a few days more!

 

TO BETTINE

 

August 3rd 1808

 

I must, dear Bettine, renounce all attempt at answering you; you let a complete picture-book of splendid and lovely scenes run as it were through your fingers; one recognizes the treasures in skimming and knows what one possesses before one can master the contents.   My best hours I use in becoming more nearly acquainted with them, and I encourage myself to endure the electric shocks of your inspirations.  At this moment I have scarcely read the first half of your letter and am too much moved to continue it.  Receive in the mean time thanks for all; proclaim from the heights of the Rhine thy Evangelies and Articles of Belief, undisturbed and unconcerned and let thy psalms stream down to me and the fish; but do not wonder that I like them, am mute.  One thing I beg: do not cease loving to write to me: I shall never cease to read you with delight.

 

What Schlosser imparted to you about me, induces you to highly interesting excursions out of Nature’s field into the domain of art.  That music is still a mysterious subject of difficult research to me, I do not deny; whether I must rest satisfied with the hard decision of the Missionary (as you call him), will then first be proved, when my love for her, who now moves me to really abstract studies shall no more continue.  It is true, you have placed amidst the darkness flaming torches and fire-basons; but at present they dazzle more than they illuminate; - yet at the same time I expect from the entire illumination a splendid “total effect”, therefore continue sparkling on all sides.

 

As I have to day reached the Amen of your rich, substantial letter, I would fain express to you in conclusion, with one word, the enjoyment which has grown out of it for me, and beg you, by no means to let slip the theme upon music, but on the contrary, to vary it in every possible way and manner.  And so I bid you a hearty farewell; continue to love me, till happy stars bring us once more together.

 

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Rochusberg

 

We have been give days upon the road and during that time it rained incessantly.  The whole house full of guests, no little corner where one could enjoy solitude and write to you.

 

As long as I have anything to tell you, so long I firmly believe thy spirit is fixed upon me, as upon so many enigmas of Nature; thus I believe each being to be such an enigma, and that it is the office of love between friends, to solve the enigma; so that each one may become acquainted with his more secret nature, through and in his friend.  Yes dearest, this makes me happy, that my life gradually develops itself through thee; therefore would I not be counterfeit, rather suffer all my faults and weaknesses to be known to thee, than give thee a wrong notion of myself: because then thy love would not be busy with me, but with a false image, which I had inserted instead of my own. – Thus I am often warned by a feeling, to avoid this or that, out of love to thee, because I should nevertheless deny it before thee.

 

Dearest Goethe!  I must impart to you things of the deepest moment; they belong properly speaking to all men, but you alone listen to me and believe me, and acknowledge in silence that I am right.  – I have often reflected, that the Spirit cannot effect what it will, that a secret longing lies concealed in it, which it cannot satisfy; for instance, that I have a great longing to be with you and nevertheless, however much I may think of you, I cannot make it sensible to you.  I believe it is, because the Spirit does not really live in the realm of truth and thus cannot make known its proper existence, till it has completely gone over from falsehood to the realm of revelation, (for truth is nothing else than revelation) and then first can one spirit reveal itself to the other.  I would fain tell you other things, but it is difficult; unquiet falls upon me and I do not know which way to turn; in the first moment indeed, all is rich, but will I embrace it with words – all is vanished; even as in a fable, where one finds a previous treasure, in which one can clearly recognize all jewels; will we touch it, it sinks away – and this also proves to me, that the spirit here upon earth only dreams of the beautiful and is not yet its master, or else it could fly, as easily as think that it would like to fly.  Ah! we are so far from each other!  Whatever door I open and see people together – thou art not amongst them – I know it well before I open, and yet I must first convince myself and I feel the pains of one disappointed - should I now too still conceal my soul from thee? or cover with a garment, that which I have to say, because I am ashamed of my desponding forebodings? shall I not put that confidence in you, that you love life, even though yet helpless it requires watching, till it can impart its spirit? – I have taken great pains to collect myself, and to express to you myself: I have hid myself from the sun’s light and in the dim night when no star was shining and the winds rushed, I went forth in the darkness and stole on to the shore – there it was not yet lonely enough – the waves disturbed me, and the rustling in the grass; and when I stared into the close darkness and the clouds broke, so that the stars showed themselves – then I muffled myself in my mantle and laid my face upon the earth, to be quite, quite alone; this strengthened me, so that I became more free; then I was excited to observe that which perhaps none had observed; then I considered, whether I really speak with thee, or if I only let myself be heard before thee?  Ah Goethe!  Music, yes Music (here we again come to the holy chapter) – there we also listen, but we do not enter into converse - but we hear how they, the spirits of music commune with oneanother, and we hear and perceive that they agree in speech.  – Therefore, true converse is a harmony, united in itself all, without separation; - when I say the truth to you, then your soul must flow over into mine – that I believe.

 

Whence do they come, these spirits of music?  From out the human breast!  He beholds himself! – the Master: - this is the power, which cites the Spirit.  It rises up from endless depths of the Internal, and they look keenly at one another – the Master and the Spirit – this is inspiration: - so the Divine Spirit looks upon nature – through this she blossoms.  Out of the spirit, blossom spirits; they entwine with one another, they stream forth, they drink in one another, they bear one another; their dance is Image, Form: we do not see them – we perceive them and subject ourselves to their heavenly power, and in so doing, we submit to an influence which heals us – This is Music!

 

O believe, that real music is surely superhuman.  The Master requires impossibility from the Spirits subjected to his power – and lo! it is possible – they perform it.  One cannot doubt upon Magic; only one must believe, that the Supermighty will be performed in the dominion of Supermight, and that the Sublime depends upon presentiment, upon the endeavours of him, before whom the Spirits bow themselves.  Who wishes for the Divine – for him they will effect what is divine.  But what is the Divine?  The eternal sacrifice of the human heart to Divinity; - this sacrifice takes place here after a spiritual manner; and even if the Master deny it or do not perceive it – it is nevertheless rue.  Does he conceive a melody, so that at once he preconceives its perfection, and the heart subjects itself to a severe trial; it allows itself to be pleased with all, in order to approach nearer the Divine; the higher it soars, the more blessed; and this is the merit of the Master for giving himself up, that the spirits press in upon him, take to him, annihilate his whole conception, so that he obeys them, seeking the Sublime amid the continual pains of Inspiration.  Where I have heard all this, and only what I have heard, was Music.  As I came out of the Convent to Offenbach, there I lay in the garden upon the lawn, and heard Salieri and Winter and Mozart and Cherubini and Haydn and Beethoven.  All this swarmed around me: I conceived it neither by my ear nor my understanding, but yet I felt it, while all else in life I did not feel: that is, the loftier inward man felt it; and already at that time I asked myself: who is that who is fed and nourished by Music, and what is that, which there grows and nourishes and supports itself, and through Music becomes itself active? – for I felt an incitement to action, but did not know what I should seize upon.  Often I thought, I must with flying standard head the people; I would lead them to heights, above the enemy, and then at my bidding, at my signal, they must rush down into the vale, and spread themselves forth in conquest.  Then I saw the red and white colours flying and the powder-smoke in the sun-dazzled fields; there I saw them, the messengers of Victory, spring forward in gallop, surround me with exulting shouts; then I saw and felt, how the spirit frees itself in inspiration and soars up to heaven; the heroes bleeding with wounds, crushed, happy, crying out in death; yes, and I myself have passed through all this with them – for I felt myself also wounded and felt how the spirit took leave, - would fain have lingered a while beneath the palm of Victory’s Goddess, and yet, while she raised it up, would also fain soar with her.  Yes, this have I felt and more; where I found myself alone, looked into deep and wild ravines, not deep – depthless; endless hills above me, foreboding the presence of Spirits.  Yes I collected myself and said: “But come, ye Spirits, come but on; because ye are divine and loftier than I, I will not resist ye.”  Then I heard from out the unutterable murmur of voices, the spirits setting themselves free – they yielded from one another – I saw them from afar, approaching me in glancing flight; through the heavenly blue atmosphere they exhaled their silvery wisdom, and they inclined themselves down into the rocky amphitheater and caused light to stream over the black precipices, so that all was visible.  There the waves sprang up in flowers and danced around them, and their approach, their whole speech was an intrusion of their beauty upon me, that my eyes could scarcely with all assistance of the spirit receive it – and that was the entire effect they made upon me.

 

O Goethe! I could impart to you still many visions; yes, I believe, that Orpheus saw himself surrounded by wild beasts, who in sweet sadness groaned in unison with the sighs of his song; I believe, that the trees and rocks approached and formed new groups and woods, for I also have seen it:  I saw pillars rise up, bearing wonderful rafters, upon which beautiful youths balanced themselves; I saw halls in which lofty divine images were erected; marvellous edifices, whose splendour broke the ray of the proud eye, whose galleries were temples, in which priestesses with golden instruments of sacrifice were wandering and adorning the columns with flowers, whose pinnacles were encircled with eagles and swans; I saw these huge piles of architecture wed with the night, the ivory turrets with their diamond tints melt in evening’s purple, and protruding beyond the stars, which in the cold blue of night, like gathered armies flew along, and, dancing in time of Music, and swinging round the spirits, formed circles.  Then I heard in the far woods, the groans of the beasts for deliverance; and what besides swarmed before my view and in my fancy.  What did I believe that I must and could do? what vows have I expressed to the spirits?  all that they required, I vowed for ever and ever.  Ah!  Goethe, all this have I seen and felt in the green gold-glowered grass.  There I lay during the play-hour, and had spread over me the fine linen, which was bleaching there, I heard, or rather felt myself borne up and surrounded by these unutterable Symphonies, which none can interpret: they came and watered the linen, and I remained lying there and felt the glow pleasingly cooled.  You will surely have experienced things similar; these fever fits, to ascend into the paradise of the Imagination, have, in some way, penetrated you too; they glow throughout all Nature, which again was cooled – has become something else – is made fit for something else.  On thee the spirits have laid hands, held thee in immortal fire; - and that was music: whether you understand or perceive it, whether restlessness or quiet fall upon you, whether you exult or deeply mourn, whether your spirit breathes freedom or perceives its chains; - it is always the spiritual basis of the superhuman in thee.  If neither the “third” nor the “fifth”! offer light to you, if they be not so gracious, as to allow themselves to be viewed and felt by you, it is only, because you have already passed through its holy sphere, because thy senses matured in its light, again yield to seed the golden fruit-kernels.  Yes, thy songs are the sweet fruits filled with its balsam.  Balsam streams forth from the voluptuousness of thy dithyrambic! – they are no more tones – they are entire kinds in your poems, which bear and spread their power. – Yes, that I surely believe, that music forms each genuine appearance of art and rejoices, to be reborn so purely in thee. – Take no care for the empty eggshells, out of which the fledged spirits have escaped – for the “third” and the “fifth” and the whole kith and kin between sharp and flat – to you they are related; you are in the midst of them.  The child does not ask amongst his relations: “who are these, and how do they come together?” it feels the eternal law of love which binds it to all.  And I must also tell you yet one thing: Composers are no masons, who bake one stone upon the other, and forget not the chimney, nor the stair-case, nor the ridge-lead, nor the door, through which they may again slip out, and believe they have built a house.

 

-  They are no composers for me, who cut a garment to your songs, which shall be long enough before and behind.  O thy songs! which break through the heart with their melody! as I sat ten days ago above on the Rheinfels, and the wind bowed the strong oaks till they cracked, and they roared and blustered in the storm, and their foliage, borne upon the wind, danced above  the waves. – Then I ventured to sing, there was no music-mode – there was no transition – there was no painting of the feelings or thoughts, which accorded so powerfully with nature, it was an impulse to become one with her.  Then I well perceived, how music inhabits thy Genius!  He showed himself to me floating upon the waters, and inculcated within me, that I love thee! Ah! Goethe, let no songs be lisped to thee, and do not believe it necessary to learn to understand and dignify them, surrender at discretion, suffer in God’s name ship-wreck of thy notions – why will you ordain and understand all which is divine, whence it cometh and wither it goeth?  See, thus I write when I am reinless, and do not inquire whether reason permit it.  I do not know if it be truth, any more than that which I first prove, but I would rather write thus without fearing, that you, like others, should command me to be silent; what could I not write to you, if I would not deliberate? soon I should become master, and nothing should conceal itself from me, which I minded to hold fast with the spirit, - and if you agreed and bowed to my will, as the chord of the seventh presses forward to meet solution, then it would be as love will have it.

 

Rochusberg

 

Often I cannot for joy, that the blessed lonely hour is at hand, fix myself to writing. – Here above ‘midst golden Summer think on the golden Future – for that is my Future: to see thee again; from that very moment, when you reached me your hand at parting and gave me to understand that it was enough for tenderness – do I turn in thought again to thee.  Therefore do I laugh with one eye while I weep with the other.

 

How blissful then, to think thee! how talkative becomes my soul in each little event from which it hopes to call forth the treasure!

 

My first way was here above, where I wrote you the last letter before we departed.  I wanted to see whether my inkstand were still there, and my little case with paper.  All still in place and order.  Ah! Goethe, thy letters are so dear to me, I have wrapped them in a silken envelope, worked with variegated flowers and golden ornaments.  The last day before our Rhine journey, I did not know where to carry them: take them with me I would not, as we had but one port-manteau between us; in my chamber, which I could not lock up, because it was wanted, I was not willing to leave them either, I thought, the boat might sink, and I drown, and then these letters of which one after the other had lain upon my heart, might fall into strange hands.  At first I would give them the Nuns of Vollraths to keep – (they are St. Bernhard nuns, who driven from their convent now dwell there) – afterwards I resolved otherwise.  The last time I was upon the mountain, I found a spot: beneath the confessional chair of the Rochus chapel (which still remains) in which also I always keep my writing apparatus, I dug a little hole and lined it with muscle-shells from the Rhine and beautiful little flints, which I found upon the mountain; there I deposited them in their silken wrapper and planted a thistle before the spot, whose root with earth and all I had carefully scooped out.  Upon the way I often became anxious; what a shock, if I had not found them again! – my heart stands still. – For seven days after our return it was bad weather: it was not possible to pass over; the Rhine is risen three feet and quite deserted by boats; ah! how did I wish I had never carried them there above: I would not tell it to any one,. but my impatience to get over!  I had fever from very anxiety about my letters; I might well expect that the rain could have penetrated somewhere and destroyed them: ah! they had suffered a little inundatory distress, but only a very little: I was so happy when I  saw from afar my thistle blooming: then I dug them out and laid them in the sun, - they were dry directly and I too them with me.  The thistle I planted again as a lasting memorial. – Now I must relate to you what new arrangements I found here above, viz a board fastened on the upper part of the confessional-chair, and a little four cornered bee-hive placed upon it.  The bees were quite languid and sat upon the board and on the hive.  Now I must relate to you something out of my Convent.  There was a nun, whom one called “Mere celatrice,” she had so accustomed me to her, that I assisted her in all her concerns.  Had we attended to the wine in the cellar, why, we looked to the bees, for she was bee-mistress and that was a very important business.  In winter they were fed by her, the bees sucked sweet beer out of her hand, in summer they hung upon her veil, when she walked in the garden, and she maintained that she was known and loved by them.  At that time I had a great affection for these little animals. The Mere celatrice said, before all things one must subdue fear, and when they were about to sting, one must not start, and then they would never sting much.  This cost me much self-command; after I had taken the firm resolution of remaining quiet amidst the swarming bees, fear came upon me, I ran and the whole swarm after me.  But at last I have learned; it has given me endless pleasure; often have I paid them a visit and held a sweet scented nosegay to them, upon which they seated themselves.  The little bee-garden I tended, and planted in it particularly the dark and spicy pinks.  The old nun did me the pleasure also to maintain, that one could taste in the honey all the flowers which I planted.  She also taught me how to bring the bees, which were numbed, back to life. She rubbed her hand with nettles and a strong-scented weed, which one calls cannock, opened the large pannel of the hive and put in her hand.  Then they all seated themselves upon the hand and warmed themselves; this I have often done with her, there the little hand and the great hand stuck in the hive.  Now I wished to put it again, but I had no longer the courage; lo! thus one loses one’s innocence through it.

 

I soon became acquainted with the owner of the hive: as I lay on the side of the hill, to loiter a little in the shade, I heard in dreaming slumber a trampling: this was the Binger flock with dog and shepherd; he looked immediately to his bee-hive; he told me that he should pasture there awhile: and as the full-blooming theme and the warm sunny spot pleased him so much, he had planted the swarm of young bees here that they should be quite comfortable, and if, when he came again after a year, they should then have increased and taken up the whole grated confessional, he would be much pleased at it.

 

The shepherd is an old man; he has long moustacheos, he had been a soldier and related to me different scenes of war and of former times, therewith whistling to his dog, which governed his flock.  Of different castle-spectres he told me also, that he did not believe in them, but upon the Ingelheim height, where ruins of the great imperial saloon were yet standing, there it was not quite secure from being haunted.  He had himself met a man by moonlight upon the heath, all clad in steel, who was followed by a lion; and as the lion scented man, he roared fearfully; that thereupon the knight turned to him, threatened him with his finger, and cried, “be still, mischievous dog,” the lion then was silenced, and licked the man’s feet.  The shepherd related this to me with peculiar horror; and I for my pleasure shuddered also:  I said, “I can easily believe that a pious shepherd must fear the protector of a lion.”  “What!” said he, “I was then no shepherd but a soldier, and not particularly pious either; I courted a sweetheart, and had come over to Ingelheim at midnight, to force bold and bar; but that night I went no further; I turned back;”  “Well,” said I “and your sweetheart waited for you in vain?”  “Ye,” said he, “but where Ghosts are busy, there man must not meddle.”  I thought, when one loves, he need not fear Spirits, and may just then consider them as equals, for though night be not the friend of man, it is surely the friend of lovers.

 

I asked the shepherd, how in this solitary business, he passed his time during the long days – he ascended the mountain, the whole flock at his heels, passed over me, he came again, the flock took as before no round about way; he showed me a beautiful pipe; so he called a haut-boy with silver keys, and neatly inlaid with ivory: he said, “this a Frenchman gave me; I can blow upon it, so that it is to be heard a mile off; when I pasture here upon the heights and see yonder a little ship with a jovial people, then I play; at a distance the pipe sounds beautifully, particularly, when the water is so still and sunny, as it is today; playing is dearer to me than meat and drink.  He applied it to his lips, turned himself towards the valley, to let the echo be heard; soon he played the song of the soothsaying temple-boy, out of Axur of Ormus with variations of his own fancy: the solemn stillness, which breaks forth out of these tones, and expands itself in the midst of vacant space, surely proves, that Spirits occupy a place also in the sensual world; at least all seemed changed – Air and Mountain, Forest and Distance, and the onward stream with its gliding barks were subdued by the melody, and breathed forth their prophetic spirit: - the flocks had laid themselves to rest, the dog was stretched at the shepherd’s feet, who stood at a distance from me on the height, and felt the inspiration of a virtuoso, who surpasses himself, because he perceives, he is thoroughly understood and enjoyed.  He made Echo play a very delicate character therein; here and there he allowed it to melt into some pause; then he repeated the last flourish more tenderly and penetratingly – echo again! – he became still more fiery and languishing; and thus he taught Echo how high he could reach, and then he ended with a brilliant fermate, which made every vale and ravine of the Donnersberg and Hundsrück resound.  Playing, he went round the mountain with his flock. – I packed up my writing, since here above solitude is disturbed, and wandered yet awhile in the overpowering splendour of sunset, taken up by wise sayings with the shepherd, walking behind the while flock; he left me with the compliment that I was cleverer than all the people he knew; to me this was something quite new; for till now I have heard from clever people that I was quite foolish; nevertheless I cannot deny the shepherd to be right; I am clever and have sharp senses.

 

BETTINE.

 

Winkel, August 7th

 

Yesterday I closed my letter and sent it off, - but had not concluded it. – If you knew, what disquietude and pain fall upon me during these simple descriptions! all appears to you to be written just as seen and heard; yes! but I see so much and think it, and yet cannot express it; and one thought crosses the other, and one takes flight before the other, and then again it is as solitary in the mind as in the world. The shepherd believed, that Music protects against evil-spirits and tediousness; there he is right, for the melancholy of tediousness is produced only because we long after the Future.  In Music we have a presentiment of this Future; since it can only be Spirit and nothing else; and without spirit there is no Future; who will not bloom in the Spirit, how will he live and breath?  - But I intend to tell you of too powerful thoughts in Music – for because I know that its truth is still not to be expressed by earthly tongue, so much I repress from fear, you may not approve of it, or rather, because I believe that prejudices blind you, inculcated by God knows what trivial sort of people.  I have no power over you: you believe that you must apply to learned people, and what they may tell you, stands only in the way of the higher want.  O, Goethe!  I am afraid before you and the paper, I am afraid to write down, what I think for you.

 

Yes!  Christian Schlosser said that you understand nothing of Music, that you fear death and have no religion; what shall I say to this?  I am as stupid as I am mute, when I am so sensibly hurt.  Ah! Goethe, if one had no shelter, which could protect in bad weather, the cold loveless wind might harm one, but I know you to be sheltered within yourself; but these three riddles are a problem to me.  I would fain explain to you Music in all its bearings and yet I myself feel, that it is beyond sense and not understood by me; nevertheless I cannot retire from this Indissoluble, and I pray to it; not that I may conceive it; no, the Inconceivable is ever – God; and there is no medium World, in which other secrets can be hidden.  Since Music is inconceivable, so is it surely God; this I must say, and you will with your notion of the “terz” and the quint laugh at me!  No! you are too good, you will not laugh; and then you are also too wise; you will surely willingly give up your studies and your conquered ideas, for such an all-hallowing mystery of the divine Spirit in Music.  What could repay the pains of inquiry, if it were not this? after what could we inquire, which moves us, except the Divine only?  And what can others, the well studied, say better or higher upon it; - and if one of them should bring something forward against it, must he not be ashamed?  If one should say, “Music is there, only that the human spirit may perfect itself therein.” – Well, yes! we should perfect ourselves in God!  If one say, it is only the connecting link with the Divine, but not God himself!  No, ye false voices, your vain song is not divinely imbued!  Ah! Divinity itself teaches us to understand the signs, that like it by our own power, we may learn to govern in the realm of Divinity.  All learning in art is only, that we may lay the foundation of self-dependence within us, and that it may remain our conquest.  Some one has said of Christ, that he knew nothing of Music: to this I could answer nothing; in the first place I am not nearly enough acquainted with  his course of life, and then what struck me at the time, I can say only to you, although I do not know what you may answer to it.  Christ says: “Your body also shall be glorified.”  Is not Music now, the glorifying of sensual Nature?  Does not Music so touch our senses, that we feel them melted into the harmony of the tones, which you choose to reckon by terz and quint?  Only learn to understand!  you will wonder so much the more at the Inconceivable. – The senses flow on the stream of Inspiration and that exalts them.  All which spiritually lays claim on man, here goes over to the senses; therefore is it that through them he feels himself moved to all things.   Love and friendship and warlike courage, and longing after the Divinity, all boil in the blood; the blood is hallowed; it inflames the body, that it becomes of one instinct with the Spirit.  This is the effect of Music on the senses, this is the glorifying of the body; the senses of Christ were dissolved in the divine spirit; they were of one instinct with him; he said: “What ye touch with the spirit, as with the senses must be divine, for then your body becomes also spirit.”  Look! this I myself almost felt and thought, when it was said that Christ knew nothing about Music.

 

Pardon me, that I thus speak with you, nearly without substantial ground, for I am giddy and I scarcely perceive that which I would say, and forget all so easily again; but if I could not have confidence in you, to confess that which occurs to me, to whom should I impart it? –

 

This winter I had a spider in my room; when I played upon the Guitar, it descended hastily into a web, which it had spun lower down.  I placed myself before it and drew my fingers across the string; it was clearly seen, how it vibrated through its little limbs; when I changed the chord, it changed its movements, - they were involuntary; by each different Arpeggio, the rhythm in its motions was also changed; it cannot be otherwise – this little being was joy-penetrated or spirit-imbued, as long as my Music lasted, when that stopped it retired.  Another little play-fellow was a mouse; but he was more taken by vocal music: he chiefly made his appearance, when I sung the gamut; the fuller I swelled the tones, the nearer it came; in the middle of the room it remained sitting; my master was much delighted with the little animal; we took great care not to disturb him.  When I sung songs and varying melodies, he seemed to be afraid; he could not endure it and ran hastily away.  Thus then, the gamut seemed fitted for this little creature, prevailed over it, and (who can doubt?) prepared the way for something loftier within it; these tones, given with the utmost purity, - beautiful in themselves, touched these organs.  This swelling and sinking to silence, raised the little creature into another element.  Ah, Goethe! what shall I say?  everything touches me so nearly – I am so sensitive to-day, I could weep: who can dwell in the Temple upon pure and serene heights, ought he to wish to go forth into a den of thieves?  These two little animals resigned themselves up to Music; it was their Temple, in which they felt their existence, elevated by the touch of the Divine, and thou, who feelest thyself touched by the eternal pulsation of the Divine within thee, thou hast no religion?  Thou, whose words, whose thoughts are ever directed to the muse, thou not to live in the Element of exaltation, in connection with God? – O yes! the ascending from out unconscious life into revelation, - that is Music!

 

Good night!

 

Carlsbad, July 28th 1808

 

Is it true, what the enamoured poets say, that there is no sweeter joy, than to adorn the loved-one, you have deserved the best from me. – A box, full of the most beautiful love-applies has come to me through my mother, neatly strung on a gold chain; they had almost become apples of discord here in my circle.  I see concealed under this present, and its accompanying injunctions, a feint, which I cannot help denouncing; for since you are cunning enough, to lead me in the midst of a hot summer upon the ice*, I would fain show you my wit, how, unprepared and unexpectedly I venture to withstand with skill, this winter-pleasure: I will not say to thee, that I should like to adorn none so much as thee, for unadorned thou first surprizedst me, and unadorned thou wilt for ever charm me.  I hung the pearl-rows of chinese fruit, between the open window folds, and as the sun just then shone upon them, I had an opportunity of observing its effect, upon these balsam-like productions. There where the rays struck, the burning red changed now to a dark purple, then to green and to decided blue; all heightened by the genuine gold of the light.  I have not for a long time, observed a more graceful play of colours, and who knows, through what bye-paths all this may lead me; at least the swan’s neck, (of which the to you obedient writing-fingers of my mother make mention) would scarcely have led me to such decided observations and reflexions: and thus then I have found it quite suited to thy will, herewith so to delight and instruct myself, and I guard my treasure too carefully from every longing eye, to make it the subject of choice.  Herewith I think of thee, and all the honey-fruits of the sunbright land, and fain would I pour out before thee, the gathered treasures of the Orient, if it were only to see, how thou wouldst despise them, because thou feelst thy happiness to be founded in other things.

 

Thy friendly letter, thy rich pages, found me here at a time when I would fain have received and accepted thyself.  It was a time of impatience with me; for several postdays I had always seen the friendly postboy, who is yet of roguish age, holding up with pointed fingers, thy well-stuffed packet.  Then I sent hastily down, to fetch it and found that my hopes were not cheated; I had nourishment from one post-day to the other; but now they had been twice expected, and in vain.  Do not lay too much to my account, that I was impatient; habit is indeed too sweet a thing.  My dear mother had besides from a very praiseworthy economy, collected thy letters and packed them up in a little box, and now all streams around me – another country, another sky, hills, over which I also have wandered; valleys, in which I also have passed my most beautiful days, and have drunk costly wine; and the Rhine, down which I too have sailed, in a little leaky boat.  Thus I have a double right to thy remembrance; first I was there, and then I am with thee, and with delighting astonishment I receive the lessons of thy wisdom, as also the pleasant events, for in all it is thou, who givest them beauty by thy presence.

 

Here still a little well-meant remark, with thanks for the inclosed, which you according to opportunity impart to whomsoever it may concern.  Although I do not love the Nifelheim-heaven, under which ……. is pleased to live; yet I well know, that certain climates and atmospheres are necessary, that different plants which we cannot do without, may be brought to light.  Thus, we are healed by the rein-deer moss, which grows in places where we would not like to dwell, and to use a more respectable comparison, the mists of England are necessary, to bring forth its beautiful green meadows.

 

Certain off-shoots of this Flora, were pleasant enough also to me.  If it were at all times possible for the reviewer, to pick out things of the same kind, that the deep should never become hollow, and the plain never plat, then nothing could be said against an undertaking, to which one must in more than one sense wish success. – Convey my best remembrances to this friend, and make my excuses, that I do not write myself.

 

How long will you still remain in the Rhine country? – what will you do at the time of the vintage? – your pages will find me here for several months at least, among the old rocks, near the hot springs, which are this time also, very beneficial to me.  I hope you will not let me wait in vain, for, to soothe my impatience, to learn all that takes place in thy little head, - to that these springs are not qualified.

 

Till now my son Augustus does well at Heidelberg.  My wife visits the theatre and ball-room in Lauchstädt.  Many distant friends have already visited me here by letter; with others I have met personally quite unexpectedly.

 

I have delayed so long, that I will immediately send off this letter and inclose it to my mother.  Say all that to thyself, to which space is not granted me, and let me soon hear from thee.

 

G

 

*) To lead on ice:- a German proverb; meaning to tempt one

 

August 8th

 

Wherever it is well with us, there we must leave too soon; - thus indeed I was with thee, therefore I was obliged to leave thee so soon.

 

A good pleasant place of residence is to me, what a fruitful country is to the sailor, who has an uncertain voyage before him, he will collect as much provision, as time and means allow.  Ah! when he is upon the solitary, wide sea, when the fruits disappear, the sweet water! – he sees no goal before him – how desiring become his thoughts of land! – Thus is it now with me: in two days I must leave the Rhine, to meet with the whole family-train at Schlangenbad.  In the meantime I have not been continually here, or an epistle from me would have long ago reached you; many excursions have hindered me – the journey to the Wetterau, of which I hereby send you a fragment.  I visited the Primate at Aschaffenburg; he is still of opinion, that I have not yet worn out my child’s shoes, and salutes me, at the same time stroking my cheeks and giving me a hearty kiss.  This time he said, “my good, dear little treasure, how well you look and how you are grown!”  Now such a manner has a magic effect upon me, I felt myself to be exactly, as he took me to be, and behaved myself too as if I were only twelve years old, I allowed every sort of joke and a complete deficiency of respect; under these dubious circumstances I imparted to him your messages.  But be not frightened; I know your dignified conduct to great people, and have forfeited nothing as your messenger:  I had made a written extract from the letter to your mother, and laid it before him: and the lines in which you wrote, “Bettine must take all pains, to draw this in the prettiest manner from the Primate,” I kept covered with my hand.  Now he wanted exactly to see, what was concealed there; I previously made my conditions, he promised me the little Indian Herbarium; it is in Paris, and he would write about it the same day.  With respect to the papers of Provost D’umée, he has very interesting, literary matters, all of which he promises you; the correspondence with … he does not give out; I am only to say, “you have not deserved it, and he intends preserving the letters as an important heir-loom, and as a specimen of fiery expression, with the highest reverence.”  I do not know, what came upon me at this discourse; I felt that I blushed, then he lifted up my chin and said, “why what’s the matter with you, my child, do you write also to Goethe?” “Yes,” said I, “under the wing of his mother.”  “Indeed, indeed, very good! and can his mother read?”  Then I was obliged to laugh tremendously, I said, “Really! your Highness has guessed it; I must read everything to his mother, and what she is not to know, I skip over.”  He made all sorts of jests, and asked if I called you “thou,” and what I wrote to you? I said: “For the sake of the rhythm I called you “thou,” and that I was just about to obtain his dispensation to confess in writing, for I should so like to confess to you.”  He laughed, he jumped up, (for he is very lively and often makes great leaps), and said, “Wit like lightning! Yes, I give him power to impart perfect forgiveness, and now you will be surely satisfied with me?  I had a great desire to say to him, that I was no longer twelve years old, but had already some time entered the blooming age of sensibility: but something prevented me: with his merry leaps, the little clerical violet-coloured velvet cap fell from his head; I picked it up, and because I thought it would become me well, put it on.  He looked at me a while and said: “A most lovely little bishop; the whole clergy would follow at his heels,” and now I was no longer inclined to undeceive him about my not being so young, for it occurred to me, that what might delight him in a child, could appear to him for a reasonable young lady, as I ought to have been, highly improper.  I therefore left it so, and took the sin upon myself of having imposed upon him, at the same time relying upon the power of remission, which he made over to you.

 

Ah! fain would I write to you of other things, but your mother, to whom I must relate all, torments me and says: such things give you pleasure, and that you lay much stress upon knowing them minutely.  I fetched from her too a dear letter from you, which had already awaited me yonder for a fortnight, and yet I should like to chide you about it.  You are a coquettish, elegant writer, but you are a cruel man: the whole beautiful nature, the splendid country, the warm summer-days of remembrance – all this does not touch thee.  Friendly as thou art, thou art also as cold.  When I saw the great fold of paper, written on all four sides, I thought that here and there at least it would shine through – that thou lovest me, it does too shine but only by gleams, not with a slow, blessing fire.  O, what a mighty difference there will be between that correspondence, which the Primate will not give up, and ours! that comes from my loving you too much, and that I also acknowledge it to you: there is a silly peculiarity of men, of becoming cold, when one loves them too dearly.

 

Your mother is now always so pleased and friendly, when I return from my excursions; she listens with joy to all little adventures; for not seldom I make large out of small, and this once I was richly provided; for not only persons, but oxen, asses and horses played remarkable parts therein.  You cannot think, how happy it makes me, when she laughs with all her heart.  My misfortune took me to Frankfort, exactly as Madame de Staël passed through:  I had already enjoyed her society a whole evening at Mayence, but your mother was well pleased to have my assistance, for she was already informed, that Madame de Staël would bring her a letter from you, and she wished me to play the “intermezzos,” if she should need relief during this great catastrophe.  Your mother has commanded me to describe all to you with the utmost minuteness: - the interview took place at Bethmann-Schaaf, in the apartments of Maurice Bethmann.  Your mother – either through irony or fun, had decorated herself wonderfully, but with German humour, and not a French taste.  I must tell you , that when I look at your mother, with three feathers upon her head, which nodded on three different sides – one red, one white and one blue, the French national colours – rising from out a field of sunflowers, my heart beat with joy and expectation.  She was deeply rouged, her great black eyes fired a burst of artillery; round her neck she wore the celebrated gold ornaments, given her by the Queen of Prussia.  Lace of ancient fashion and great splendour, (a complete heir-loom), covered her bosom, and thus she stood with white kid-gloves; in one hand a curiously wrought fan, with which she set the air in motion, the other hand which was bared, quite covered with sparkling stones, taking from time to time a pinch out of a golden snuff-box, in which was set a miniature of you, where with powdered ringlets, you are thoughtfully leaning your head upon your hand.  The party of distinguished elder ladies formed a semicircle in Maurice Bethmann’s bed-chamber; on the purple coloured carpet in the centre of which was a white field with a leopard, - the company looked so stately, that they might well be imposing.  On the walls were ranged beautiful Indian plants, and the apartment was lighted by shaded glass globes; opposite the semicircle stood the bed upon a dais of two steps, also covered with a purple tapestry, on each side a candelabra.  I said to your mother, “Madame de Staël will think she is cited before the Court of love, for the bed yonder looks like the covered throne of Venus.”  It was though that then she might have much to answer for.  At last the long-expected one came through a suite of lighted apartments, accompanied by Benjamin Constant.  She was dressed as Corinne; a turban of aurora and orange-coloured silk, a dress of the same, with an orange tunic, girded so high as to leave little room for her heart; her black brows and lashes glittered, as also her lips with a mysterious red; her long gloves were drawn down, covering only her hand, in which she held the well known laurel-sprig.  As the apartment where she was expected, lies much lower, she was obliged to descend four steps.  Unfortunately, she held up her dress before instead of behind; this gave the solemnity of her reception a terrible blow; it looked very odd, as, clad in complete oriental style she marched down towards the stiff dames of the virtue-enrolled Frankfort society.  Your mother darted a few daring glances at me, whilst they were presented to each other.  I had stationed myself apart to observe the whole scene.  I perceived Mad. de Staël’s astonishment at the remarkable decorations and dress of your mother, who displayed an immense pride.  She spread out her robe with her left hand – with her right she saluted, playing with her fan and bowing her head several times with great condescension, and said with an elevated voice, “je suis la mere de Goethe;” “ah, je suis charmeé,” answered the authoress and then followed a solemn stillness.  Then ensued the presentation of her distinguished suite*, also curious to become acquainted with Goethe’s mother.  Your mother answered their civilities with a new-year’s-wish in French, which with solemn courtesies she kept murmuring between her teeth – in short I think the audience was perfect and gave a fine specimen of the german grandezza.  Soon your mother beckoned me to her; I was forced to play the interpreter between both: then the conversation turned only upon you and your youth; the portrait upon the snuff-box was examined, it was painted at Leipzic, before you were so ill, but already very thin; one can nevertheless recognize all your present grandeur in those gracious features and above all the author of Werther.  Mad. de Staël spoke about your letters, and that she should like to read what you wrote to your mother, and your mother promised them to her; I thought, she should surely get none of your letters to read from me, for I bear her a grudge; as often as your name dropped from her not well-formed lips, an inward wrath fell upon me: she told me that in your letters you call her “amie;” ah! she surely remarked in me, that this came quite unexpectedly to me; ah! she said even more. – But now my patience was lost; - how can you be friendly with so unpleasant a countenance?  Ah! there one may see, that you are vain – or perhaps she told me untruths?  Were I with thee, I would not suffer it.  As Fays with fiery dragons, I would guard my treasure with looks.  Now I sit far removed from thee, do not know what thou art doing and am only happy, when no thoughts torment me.

 

I could write a volume upon all that I have heard, done and seen during a week, with your mother.  She could hardly expect me to come and recapitulate every thing to her.  Then came reproaches; I was peevish that she set so high a value upon her acquaintance with Mad. de Staël; she called me childish and silly and conceited, and said, that one must not deny respect to what was really worthy, and that one could not pass over such a woman like a kennel and continue one’s way, that it must always be considered as a remarkable honour in one’s fate, to come together with an important and celebrated personage.  I managed it so, that your mother at last showed me your letter, in which you felicitate her about coming in contact with this meteor, and there all her reported wisdom shewed itself in your letter.  I had mercy upon you and said, “Vain indeed, is the godlike youth; he gives proof of his eternity.”  Your mother would not understand the jest; she was of opinion I was too presumptuous, and that I must not imagine, you took any other interest in me, than what one takes in children, who still play with their dolls; that with Mad. de Staël you could make world-wisdom, with me you could only trifle.  – If your mother were right? if my new found thoughts, which I believed alone to possess, were nothing? – How in these few months, which I have passed on the Rhine, have I thought on thee and thee only! – Each cloud I have called to my counsel, from each tree, each weed have I claimed wisdom, and from each dissipation have I turned myself away, that I might converse deeply with thee.  Oh bad cruel man, what stories are these?  How often have I prayed to my guardian angel that he would speak to thee for me, and then have I restrained myself and let my pen run on.  All nature showed me in a mirror what I should say to thee; truly I believed that all was so ordained by God, that love should conduct a correspondence between us.  But you place more confidence in the celebrated woman, who has written the great work, “Sur les passions,” about which passions I know nothing.  Ah, believe me, you have chosen badly.  Love alone makes wise.

 

About music too I had still much to say to you; all was already so nicely arranged; first you must understand how much you are already indebted to it. – You are not fire-proof.  Music does not cause you to glow, because you might melt away.

 

I am not so foolish as to believe that Music has no influence upon you.  Since I nevertheless believe in the Firmament within thy Mind, since Sun and Moon, together with all the stars shine within thee, shall I then doubt that this the highest planet above all, which pours forth light, which is a ruler of our senses, streams through thee?  Thinkst thou, to have become what thou art, if Music were not within thee?  Thou, - to fear death when it is Music which frees the mind from death? thou, - to have no Religion, when it is Music which plants Devotion within thee?

 

Harken within thyself, there wilt thou hear music in thy soul, which is Love to God; this eternal exulting and striving towards Eternity, which is Spirit alone.

 

I could tell thee things, which I myself fear to express, although an inward voice tells me, they are true.  If thou remainest mine, I shall learn much, if thou remainest not mine, I shall rest like the seed beneath the earth, till the time come for me to blossom again in thee.

 

My head glows; whilst I wrote I struggled with thoughts, which I could not master.  Truth lies in all its infinity within the spirit, but to embrace it in simplest form; that is so difficult! ah! nothing can be lost. Truth eternally nourishes the Spirit which bears as fruit all that is beautiful, and since it is beautiful that we love one another, do not think to dissemble the Truth any longer.

 

I will rather relate to you something of the gipsey-life, which we are leading here upon the Rhine, that we must leave so soon, and who knows, if I shall see it again.  – “Here, where the breeze of balsamic spring breathes around, let us wander forth alone, nought shall part thee from me.” – not even Mad. de Staël.

 

Our housekeeping is delightfully arranged; we are eight ladies, not one gentlemen is in the house; since it is now very hot, we contrive to be as comfortable as possible; for instance we are clad very lightly; one chemise, and then one more in the Grecian drapery style.  The doors of the sleeping-rooms stand open at night; nay according to our liking, we make our sleeping-place upon the balcony, or any other cool place: I have already for my pleasure, spent nights in the garden upon the beautiful wall, covered with broad stone slabs, under the plantains, opposite the Rhine, to await the rising of the sun, I have fallen asleep upon my narrow bed; I might have fallen down in sleep, particularly when I dream, I spring forward to meet thee.  The garden is elevated and the wall on the other side, declines steeply, I might easily have met with a misfortune; therefore I beg, when you thinkst of me in dreams, hold forth to me thy protecting arms, - that I may at once sink into them; “for all is but a dream.”**  - By day we are all in great darkness; all the shutters throughout the whole house are closed, all the curtains drawn; at first I took long walks in the morning, but in this heat, it is no longer possible; the sun does calefy the vine-hills, and all nature sighs under the brooding-warmth.  Nevertheless I go out every morning between four and five o’clock with a pruning-knife and fetch fresh cool sprigs, that I plant about in my room.  Eight weeks ago, I had birch and poplar, which shone like gold and silver, and between them, thick fragrant bunches of May-lily.  A very sanctuary is the saloon to which all the little sleeping-rooms enter; there they lie still in bed, when I come home, and wait till I have done; also the Lime and Chesnuts here have done blossoming, and lofty reeds, bending themselves along the ceiling, curled about with blooming bind-weed; and the field-flowers are charming, the little thrift the milfoil the daisies water-lilies which I with some risk had fished to shore, and the ever-beautiful Forget-me-not.  To-day I have set up oaks, - lofty branches, which I got from their highest tops. I climb like a cat; the leaves are quite purple, and grown in such elegant tufts, as if dancing they had divided themselves into groups.

 

I should be shy of speaking to you about flowers; once already you have laughed at me, and yet the charm is so great; the many sleeping blossoms which only wake in death, the dreaming family of saintain, the lady-slipper, the primrose with its soft friendly scent – this is the least of all flowers. When I was scarcely six years old and the milk-woman had promised, to bring me a bunch of primroses, expectation brought me with the first morning beam from my slumbers, in my little shift to the window; how fresh were the flowers!  How they breathed in my hand!  - Once she brought me dark pinks, planted them in a flower pot – what riches?  How was I surprized at this generosity! – These flowers in the earth – they appeared to me eternally bound to life; they were more than I could count; I kept always beginning anew, I would not pass by a single bud; how sweetly they scented!  How was I humbled before the spirit, which streamed forth from them!  I knew then but little of “wood and plain,” and the first meadow, by evening-light, and endless plain to infant eyes, - sowed with golden stars; - ah, how has nature tried in love to imitate the spirit of God.  And how he loves her.  How does he incline to her for this tenderness, in blossoming up to him! How have I rooted amongst the grass and seen one blade force itself against the other. – Many I had perhaps overlooked, where there were so many, but its beautiful name, made me familiar with it, and whoever has named them, must have loved and understood them.  The little shepherd’s-purse for instance – I had not perceived it, but as I heard its name, I found it out amongst many, I opened such a purse and found it filled with seed-pearls.  Ah!  each form contains spirit and life, that it may lay claim to eternity. – Do not the flowers dance? do they not sing? – do they not write spirit in the air? Do they not themselves pain their inmost being, in their form?  All flowers I have loved, each in its kind, as I became acquainted with them one after the other (and I have been untrue to none) and as I discovered the strength of their little muscles:- for instance the lion’s mouth, when for the first time, as I pressed it too violently, it stretched its tongue from out its velvet throat, towards me. – I will not name all with which I became so intimately acquainted, as they now rise to remembrance; only of a single one I would remember – a myrtle-tree, which a young Nun there cherished.  She kept it Winter and Summer in her cell; she accomodated herself in everything to its wants; day and night she gave it air, and in Winter only as much warmth, as was necessary for it.  How did she feel herself rewarded, when it was covered with buds?  She shewed them to me, when they were scarcely set; I helped to cherish it; every morning I filled the cruse at St. Magdalen’s well; the buds grew and became red, at last they opened; on the fourth day, it stood there in full blossom; each blossom, a white cell, with a thousand rayed arrows in the midst, each of which bore a pearl upon its point. It stood at the open window, the bees greeted it. – Now I first know, that this tree is consecrated to love; then I did not know it, and now I understand it.  Tell me, can love be more sweetly cherished than this tree? and can tender care be more sweetly rewarded, than through so full a bloom? Ah! the dear nun, with half-faded roses on her cheeks, enveloped in white, and the black-crape veil, which floated around her quick, elegant gait; as from out the wide sleeves of the black woollen garments she stretched her beautiful hand, to water the flowers!  Once she placed a little black bean in the earth, she gave it me and said I should cherish it; and I should have a delightful surprize.  It soon began to shoot and shewed leaves like trefoil; it twined up a little stalk, like the vetch, with little ringed hooks; then it produced scanty yellow buds; out of these grew as big as a hazel-nut a little green egg, with brown rings.  The nun broke it off, pulled it out by the stalk into a chain of elegantly arranged thorns, between which the seed consisting of little beans was become ripe.  She plaited a crown of it, laid it at the feet of her ivory Christ on the Crucifix and told me, this plant was called “Corona Christi.”

 

We believe in God and in Christ, that he was God, who let himself be nailed to the cross; we sing Litanies to him, and scatter for him the incense; we promise to become holy, and pray, and feel it not.  But when we see, how Nature plays and in this play, infantlike utters the language of wisdom; when she paints sighs upon the leaves of flowers – an Oh, an Ah – when the little insects have the cross painted on the covers of their wings, and even this little plant, so imperceptibly bears a carefully traced perfect crown of thorns; when we see caterpillars and butterflies, marked with the mystery of the Trinity, then we tremble; and we feel that the Godhead itself takes eternal part in these mysteries; then I always believe, that Religion has brought forth all, nay, that it is the very instinct of life in each production, and each animal. – To acknowledge, and rejoice at beauty in all which is created, that is wisdom and piety; we both were pious, I and the nun; it must be ten years since I was in the Convent.  Last year I paid a visit in travelling by it.  The Nun was become Prioress, she conducted me into her garden – she was forced to use a crutch, she had become lame – her myrtle-tree stood in full bloom.  She asked me if I still knew it; it was much grown; round about stood fig-trees with ripe fruit and also large pinks; she broke off what was in bloom and what was ripe, and gave me all, only the myrtle she spared; - that I knew beforehand.  The nosegay I secured in the travelling chaise; I was again so happy, I prayed as I was wont to pray in the Convent; - yes, to be happy is to pray.

 

Do you see, that was a round about way and something of my wisdom; it can certainly not make itself conceivable to the world-wisdom, which exists between you ad your “amie” Staël; - but this I can tell you: I have seen many great works of tough contents in boar-skin covers; I have heard learned men growling and I always thought, one single flower must shame the whole, and that a single may-fly, with a slap it could give a philosopher on the nose, might tumble down his whole system.

 

Pay tecum! we will pardon one another; I, that you have formed a heart and soul-alliance with Mad.Staël, at which according to the prophesy of your mother, all Germany and France will stare with open eyes, for nothing will come of it at last; and you, that I am so conceited, as to think, I know every thing better than others, and to wish to be more than all others to you – for that pleases you.

 

To-day I once more ascend the Rochusberg; I will see how the bees in the confessional chair are going on; I take all sorts of plants with me, set in pots, and also a vine-slip; these I shall plant above; the vine shall grow up the cross, under whose protection I slept through so beautiful a night; by the chair I will plant imperial lilies and honeysuckle in honour of your mother; - perhaps if I be heavy at heart, I shall confess to you there above, (since I shall be there for the last time,) if it were only to bring into use the remission of the Primate; but I do believe I have nothing more secret within me; you see into me, and besides that, there is nothing to be found in me.

 

The day of yesterday we will paint here in conclusion, for it was beautiful.  We went with a misleading guide, through a ravine by the side of a river, which is called “the Whisper,” probably on account of the rushing of the water, which winds over a number of flat rock-stones, foaming and whispering in the crevices.  On both sides are lofty rocks, on which stand ruined castles, surrounded with old oaks.  The valley becomes at last so narrow, that one must go in the river.  There one cannot do better, than bare-foot and with garments tucked up, spring from stone to stone; now here, now there, to climb along the bank.  It becomes narrower and narrower far above us; the rocks and mountains at last embrace one another; the sun can but still enlighten one half of the mountains; the dark-thrown shadows of the over-hanging rocks, cut through its beams; from out the Wisper – which is no mean river, it rushes rather with force – high plat-forms of rocks stand forth, like hard cold saint’s beds.  I laid myself upon one, to take a little rest; I lay with my glowing face on the cold stone; the falling water shed a fine rain upon me, the sun-beams came without rhyme or reason, askaunt through the rock’s crevices to gild me and my bed; above me was darkness; my straw-hat, which I had already long before filled with the “wonders of nature,” I let swim, to moisten the roots of the plants; - as we went further, the mountains crowded nestling together, separated only now and then by rugged rocks. – I should fain have climbed up, to see where we were; it was too steep, the time did not allow of it; all sorts of anxieties were painted upon the face of the wise guide; he assured us nevertheless, that he had none at heart; it became cool in our narrow ravine; as cool as I was also internally; we kept tripping on.

 

The end of our journey was a sour-spring beyond Weissenthurn, which lies in a desert wilderness.  We had made all the windings of the Wisper; the clever guide thought, if we did not leave the river, we must at last reach our point, because the Wisper ran past the spring, and thus he had led us by a path, which is seldom trod by man.  As we at last arrived there, he lightened his breast, by a host of sighs.  I believe, he not only feared the devil, but God and all the saints, that they would bring him to an account, because he had plunged us into destruction; - we were scarcely arrived, when the cuckoo-clock struck in the solitary but by the spring-side, and reminded us of returning.  It was eight o’clock! there was nothing to eat, not even bread, only salad with salt, without vinegar and oil.  A woman with two children lived there; I asked what she lived upon; she pointed out to me in the distance, an oven, which stood in full flow in an open place between four majestic oaks.  Her little son was just dragging behind him a bundle of brush-wood; his little shirt had still sleeves, the back-part and the button of the collar-band, with which it was fastened; in front, it was all torn away: his sister-Psyche was balancing herself upon a long baker’s-peel across a block; upon which as balancing weight, lay the loaves about to be baked; her dress also consisted of a shift and an apron, which she had fastened round her head, to preserve her hair from burning, when she peeped into the oven and laid on the sticks.  We gave the woman a piece of money; she asked how much it was; then we saw that it was not in our power to recompense her, for she was content and did not know, that one could use more than he wants.

 

Then I turned back again on the same way, without taking rest and arrived at home at one o’clock at night; in all I had been twelve hours upon the way and was not in the least tired.  I got into a bath, which was prepared for me, and put a bottle of Rhenish to my lips, and let it bubble down, till I saw the bottom.  The waiting-maid cried out, and thought it might do me harm in the hot bath, but I would not be withstood; she was obliged to carry me to bed; I slept softly, till I was waked in the morning by a well known crowing, and imitation of a whole hen yard before my door.

 

You write, my letters transport you to a familiar land in which you feel yourself at home; do they also transport you to me? do you see me in thought, how with long crook, I clamber up the mountains, and do you look into my heart, where you may see yourself face to face? – this land indeed I would fain make the most perceptible of all to you.

 

Eight weeks longer I shall ramble about in all sorts of scenes, in October with Savigny first a few months at Munich, and then go to Landshut, if heaven do not ordain it otherwise.

 

I beg you if you should compassionate me with your pen, whether it be “to punish or reward,” address to me immediately at Schlangenbad, through Wiesbaden; I shall remain there three weeks.  If you send the letter to your mother, then she will wait for an opportunity; and I would rather have a letter without date, than be obliged to recognize in the date, that it has been detained from me a fortnight.

 

To your mother I write all that is incredible; although she knows what she is to think of it, yet it receives her approbation, and she demands of me always to impart more of this sort to her; she calls this “giving my Fancy vent.”

BETTINE

 

*) Wilhelm Schlegel, Sismondi, Benjamin Constant

**) Song of Goethe

 


TO BETTINE

 

Carlsbad, August 21st

 

It is still a question, dearest Bettine, whether one can with better reason call you odd, or wonderful; neither dare one reflect; one considers at last only, how to ensure himself safely against the rapid flood of thy thoughts: be therefore content, if I do not minutely soothe, satisfy, answer and evade, thy complaints, thy demands, thy questions and thy accusations; but in all heartily thank thee, that thou hast again so richly endowed me.

 

With the Primate you have conducted your affair wisely and well.  I possess a letter from his own hand, in which he assures me all, for which you so gracefully went a begging to him, he hints to me, that I have to thank you alone for all, and writes to me still prettier things of you, which you in your detailed report seem to have forgotten.

 

Therefore if we would carry-on war with one another, we should have equal forces; you, the celebrated woman, and I the amiable Prince full of goodness to me and you.  To neither will we refuse the honour and thanks, which they so richly deserve from us; but to both will we refuse entrance, where they have no right, and would only disturb; namely between the most delightful confiding of thy love, and my warm reception of it.  If in nothing more than an accidental correspondence I name thy Antogonist, in “world-wisdom” amie; I nevertheless in nowise violate the rights, which thou with conquering despotism has assumed for thyself.  At the same time I confess, that it is the same with me as with the Primate: thou art to me a dear friendly child, whom I would never lose, and through whom a great part of the most salutary blessing flows to me.  Thou art to me a friendly Light, which comfortably cheers the evening of my life, and so I give you (to come to an end with all complaints) in conclusion the following enigma, with which you may guess yourself contented.

GOETHE

 

Charade.

 

    Two words there are, easy and quick to say,

Which from our lips so gently oft resound,

Yet never clearly may the things be found,

Of which they properly the shades display.

It is so sweet on cheerful closing day

One in the other boldly to burn,

And join we both in one expression’s turn,

Then we do mind of ease the blissful sway.

But now to please them ardently I aim,

And pray, that with themselves I might be blessed,

Silent I hope, yet hope to gain the grace.

To lisp them, as of my belov’d one’s name,

Both in one image to behold expressed,

Both in one being raptur’d to embrace.

 

There is still room and also still time, to undertake here the defence of my good mother.  You should not take it ill of her, that she brings to light the interest I take in a child, which still plays with her doll, since you can really still so prettily do it, that you even seduced my mother herself, who feels a real delight in informing me by letter of the celebration of marriage between your doll and little Frankfort senator, who with his long periwig, buckle-shoes and chain of fine pearls, in his little plush chair, is still fresh in my memory.  He was the very delight of our infant years, and we dared not touch him but with hallowed hands.  Preserve carefully all, that my mother upon such occasions imparts to you of mine and my sister’s childhood; it may in time become important to me.

 

Your chapter upon flowers would hardly find entrance with the wordly wise, as with me, for although thy musical Gospel is by this means something diminished (which by the bye I get you not to neglect in your next, soon expected letter), yet I am compensated by the lovely manner in which my earliest years of childhood are there reflected; for the secrets of Flora appeared also to me as an impossible enchantment.

 

The story of the myrtle tree and the nun raises warm sympathy: may it be preserved from frost and harm!  With full conviction I agree with you, that love can not be more sweetly fostered, that this tree, and no tender care more richly rewarded, than by such a blossoming.

 

Your pilgrimage also in the rapid river together with the lovely Ginette of the two children gives a delicious picture, and your Rhine-adventures form a graceful well-rounded conclusion.

 

Pay keep on your course and no not wander too much at random.  I am so afraid, that the amusements of a frequented watering-place may expel the ideal suggestions upon the lonely Rochus; I must prepare myself (as also for many other things), for all which may haunt thy little head and heart.

 

A little more arrangement in your views might be useful to us both.  Thus are your thoughts like costly pearls, not all equally polished, strung upon a loose thread, which easily breaks, and then they may roll to all corners and many might be lost.

 

Nevertheless I offer you my thanks, - so to the dear Rhine, of which you have imparted to me so much that is beautiful, my hearty farewell. – Be well assured that I willingly take what you offer to me, and that thus the tie between us will not easily be loosened.

 

GOETHE

 

Rochusberg

 

I had resolved, once more to ascend here, where I have lived in thought so many happy hours with you, and to take leave of the Rhine, which enters into all my sensations, and which is greater, far more fiery, bolder and merrier and elevated above all: - I arrive here above at five o’clock in the afternoon; find all in peaceful sunlight, the bees settled, protected on the northside by a wall; confessional and altar face the East.  My plants I have all set with the help of the sailor boy, who assisted me to carry them up, the vine which was in a pot is already nearly six feet high and full of grapes, I have planted it by the altar between the broken pavement; the pot I broke in pieces and took the fragments carefully away, that the earth might remain nicely about the roots; it is a kind of muscatel, which has very fine leaves: then I made it fast to the cross on the altar; the bunches hang just over the body of the Christ; - if it grows well and succeeds, the people who come up here will wonder, the shepherd’s bees in the confessional with the honey-suckle, which entwines it, and the crucifix with grapes.  Ah! so many have great palaces and splendid gardens; - I should like to have only this lonely Rochus-chapel, and that all would grow up as nicely as I have planted it; - with the fragments of the flower-pot, I dug away the earth from the hill and laid it about the vine, and twice I filled my cruet down by the Rhine, in order to water it: - it will be perhaps the last time, that it drinks Rhine-water.  – Now, after my finished labours, I sit here in the confessional, and write to you; the bees all come one after the other home; they are already quite at their ease; - could I with each thought enter thy heart, so sensibly, so sweetly humming as these bees, laden with honey and dust of flowers, which I gather from all fields and bring all home to thee would that not please you?

 

August 13th

 

“Everything has its time,” say I with the sages; I have seen the vines unfold their leaves; their blossoms scent make me intoxicated; now they have foliage and fruits I must leave thee, thou still, still Rhine!  Yesterday evening all was set so splendid; from out the dark midnight stepped a great world before me.  As I rose from my bed and stood in the cool night-air at the window; the moon was already risen half an hour, and had driven all the clouds beneath her: she cast a fruitful light over the vine-hills; - I took in my arms the rich foliage of the vine, which great up my window and took leave of it; to no mortal would I have vouchsafed that moment of love: - had I been with thee – I would have flattered, begged and kissed.

 

Schlangenbad, August 17th

 

May that only be granted to me!  - and ah, it will not be easy for me to express, what I wish, when my breath often oppresses me so, that I would fain cry aloud.

 

In these narrow-bounded regions, where the hills clamber one over the other and bear the mist, and in the deep cool vales, hold the solitude prisoner; an exulting comes over me, which passes like lightning through me. – Well yes! – may that be granted me: - that I may then unite myself to a friend – be he ever so far away, - that he may kindly lay his hand upon my beating heart and remember the days of his youth.  – O happy me, that I have seen thee! now I know, when I seek and find no place sufficient for my rest, where I am at home and to whom I belong.

 

Something you do not yet know, which to me is a dear remembrance, although it appears strange.  When I had not yet seen you, and longing drove me to your mother, to find out all about you – God! how often upon my fort-stool behind her, have I struck my breast to damp my impatience. – Well, when I then came home, often in the midst of a play with humour and wit, so I was lost in myself; saw my image standing before thine, saw thee approach me, and how thou wert so friendly in different ways, and so find, till my eyes ran over with joyful pain.

 

I have so felt thee, that the still consciousness of an inward happiness, has perhaps in many a storm of mind sustained me over the waves.  At this time this consciousness often waked me out of deep sleep; then I luxuriated a few hours with self-creating dreams, and had at last spent, what one calls, an unquiet night; I became pale and thin; inpatient, yes even unkind, when one of my brothers or sisters at an unfit time wanted to induce me to take amusement; - often thought I, that if I should ever see thee thyself (which appeared impossible to me), I should perhaps have many quite sleepless nights. – As the certainty at last was before me, I felt an unquietness, which was nearly insupportable.  In Berlin, where I for the first time heard an Opera of Gluck’s (otherwise music chains me so, that I can abstract myself from all else), - when the drums beat – don’t laugh – my heart beat rapidly also; I felt thee approaching in triumph; I was joyful as a people, who go forth to meet their beloved prince; and I thought, “in a few days, all which affects me so from without, will be awakened in my myself!”– But when at last, at last I was with thee: - dream! even now – wonderful dream! – then my head rested upon thy shoulder, there I slept a few minutes for the first time after four or five sleepless nights.

 

See! only see! – I should beware of love; yet, never before I was happy with rest: but then, - in thy arms came the long frighted sleep, and I had no other want; all else to which I had clung and which I thought to love, this it was not; - but none should beware or trouble himself about his destiny if he loves what relates to him; his mind is satisfied, - what signifies all else?

 

18th

 

If even I wished to come to you, should I find the right path, since so many lie close together?  Thus I always think when I go past a sign-post, and often stop and am sad, that it does not point to thee; and then I hasten home and think that I have much to write to you. – Ah! ye deep, deep thoughts, which would fain hold converse with him, - come forth from out my breast! but I feel it in all my veins, that I would only allure thee; I will, I must but see thee.

 

When one goes forth at night, and has the eventide before him, he sees still at the farthest end of the gloomy sky the last bright garment of a splendid day slowly moving downwards, - thus is it with me in my remembrance of thee.  Be the time ever so gloomy and mournful, I still know where my day has set.

 

20th

 

I have seldom had a time in my life so filled up, that I could say it had passed insensibly; I do not feel like others who are amused if their time flies quickly: on the contrary, that day is hateful to me which has passed from me I know not how.  May every moment leave me a remembrance, be it deep or superficial, pleasing or painful, I contend against nothing so much, as against Nothing!

 

Against that Nothing, which nearly everywhere suffocates one!

 

22nd

 

The day before yesterday was a splendid evening and night; with all the bright fresh enamel of the most lively colours and events, as they are painted only in romance; so undisturbed! the heavens were sown with innumerable stars, which sparkled like glittering diamonds through the thick foliage of the blooming lime-trees, the terraces which are built upwards the hill, have something very solemn and tranquil in the regularity of their hedges, which on each terrace surround a clump of lime and nut-trees, at the foot of which the great bathing-houses lie (the only ones in this narrow vale): the many springs and wells, which are heard rushing beneath, make it indeed quite charming.  All the windows were illuminated, the houses looked wonderfully cheerful beneath the dark lonely forest of the rising mountain.  The young Princess of Baden sat with company upon the lowest terrace, drinking tea; now we heard hunting-horns in the distance; we scarcely believed it, so soft, - then they were answered near at hand; again they brayed above us on the summit; they seemed to allure one another, approached and in the distance appeared to unfold their wings as though they would soar heaven-wards, and always sunk down again to the dear earth, - the chatter of the Frenchmen became mute, I heard a few times uttered “délicieux” somewhere near me.  I turned towards the voice: - a handsome man of noble figure and expressive countenance, no longer young, with stars and ribbands in profusion; - he entered into conversation with me and placed himself near me on the bench.  I am already accustomed to be looked upon as a child, and therefore was not surprised, that the Frenchman called me “chère enfant,” he took my hand and asked me from whom I had the ring?  I said “From Goethe.”  “Comment de Goether? Je le connais:” and now he related to me, that after the battle of Jena he had spent several days with you, and that you had cut off a button from his uniform, in order to preserve it as a keepsake among your collection of coins: and I said you had given me the ring to remind me not to forget you. – “Et cela vous a remué le coeur?” – “Aussi tendrement et aussi passionément que les sons, qui se font, entendre là haut.”  Then he asked, “Et vous n’avez réellement que treize ans” – You will know who it is, I did not ask his name.

 

They blew so nobly in the wood, and at the same time drove all earthly thoughts out of my head: I stole softly up, as near as possible, and let it thrill through my breast with all force.  The intonation of the sounds was so soft, it became by degrees so mighty, that it was an irresistible delight to abandon oneself to it.  Then I had all sorts of strange thoughts, which would hardly have agreed with sense, it was as if the secret of creation lay upon my tongue.  The sound which I felt full of life within me, gave me the sensation, how God by the power of his voice had called every thing forth, and how music repeats in each breast this eternal will of love and wisdom.  And I was mastered by feelings which were borne, penetrated, connected, changed, intermingled and exalted by music; I was at last so sunk within myself, that even the late night did not move me from my place.  The princely train and the many lights, from the reflection of which the trees burned in green flames, I saw vanish from beneath me; at last all was gone; no light longer burned in any house; I was alone in the cool heavenly quiet of the night; I thought of thee! Ah! had we but sat together under those trees, and chatted with one another, amid the whispering and plashing of the waters!

 

August 24th

 

I have still something to relate to you; the last evening I spent on the Rhine, I went with company, at a late hour to the next village: as I wandered along the Rhine, I saw in the distance something flaming, swim towards me; it was a large ship with torches, which sometimes cast a dazzling light upon the shore; often the flames disappeared, for minutes together all was dark; it gave a magic effect to the river, which impressed me deeply as the conclusion of all which I had seen and heard there.

 

It was midnight – the moon rose dim; the ship, whose shadow sailed along with it, like a monster, upon the illuminated Rhine, cast a dazzling fire upon the woody meadows of Ingelheim, towards which she steered, behind her the moon so mildly sober, bore herself forth, enwrapt by and by in thin mist-clouds as in a veil. – When calmly and musing, one contemplates Nature, it always lays hold on the heart. – What could have more intimately turned my senses to God; what more easily have freed me from those trifling things which oppress me?  I am not ashamed to confess to thee, that thy image then vehemently flamed in my soul.  True is it: thou beamest into me as the sun into the crystal of the grape, and like the sun, thou maturest me more ardently, but also more purely.

 

I now heard the people on board speaking clearly and calling to work; they anchored off the island, extinguished the torches; - now all was still, except the dog which barked, and the flags which flapped in the fresh night-breeze.  Now I also went home to sleep, and if thou allowest it, I laid myself down at thy feet, and my dream rewarded me with thy caresses – if they were not a falsehood.

 

Who would not believe in apparitions?  The remembrance of this dream blesses me even today!  Yes, tell me; what does reality lose?  Oh, I am proud that I dream of thee; a good spirit ministers to my soul; he leads thee on, because my soul calls thee; and drinks thy features, while I thirst after them; yes, there are prayers and demands, which are heard.

 

Now, defend yourself against my love; of what use can it be to you? – If I have only Spirit enough – To the Spirit, Spirit ministers.

 

BETTINE.

 

I break the seal again, to tell you, that have had your letter of the tenth, since yesterday evening, and have studied it busily.  – O Goethe, you say indeed, you will carry on no war and demand peace; and yet you lay about you with the Primate, as with a Hercules-club.  Do not dress up the Primate to me! – if I were to tell him – he would jump as high as the ceiling and fall in love with me – but you are not jealous, you are nothing but kind and full of indulgence.

 

Drunk with sleep, I laid thy charade upon my heart, but have not guessed it – where should I have recovered my senses.  – Let it be what it will, it makes me happy: - a circle of loving words! – one does not distinguish caresses, he enjoys them and knows that they are the blossoms of love. – Ah! I should like to know what it is:

 

Silent I hope, yet hope to gain the grace

To lisp them, as of my beloved one’s name.

 

What do you hope? – tell me, how shall she be named to you? – what signification has the name, that only in delight you could lisp it?

 

Both in one image to behold expressed,

Both in one being raptured to embrace.

 

Who are the both? who is my rival? in what image am I reflected? – and with whom shall I mingle in thy arms? – ah! how many riddles lie hidden under one and how my head burns! – No, I cannot guess it; I cannot succeed in tearing myself away from thy heart, and speculating.

 

It is so sweet on cheerful closing day,

One in the other heartily to burn.

And join we both in one expression’s turn,

Then do we mind of ease the blissful sway.

 

This delights thee, that I waste away, on cheerful closing days, when I spend the evening by thy side; me too does it delight.

 

And are we joined in one expression’s turn,

Then do we shew of ease the blissful sway.

 

You see, my Friend, how you allow me to guess into eternity; but the earthly word, which is the key to all, - that I cannot find.

 

But your point you have attained – “that I should guess to satisfy myself,” I divine in it my rights, my acknowledgement, my reward, and the strengthening of the tie between us, and shall each day divine thy love anew, - consume myself, - if thou at the same time wilt embrace and give lustre to my spirit, and willingly be named in union with me.

 

When your mother writes to you, she always turns the matter to her own advantage.  The story was as follows:  She fetched out of the great clothes-press, a gaudy frock, worked with stripes and flowers and a white-crape cap, adorned with silver-sprigs, and shewed them to me as your first dress, in which you were carried to the church and to your godfathers and godmothers.  On this occasion, I heard the minute account of your birth, which I directly wrote down.  There was also the little Frankfort Senator-doll with the long periwig! your mother was much rejoiced at this discovery and related to me, that it was given to her when her father became Syndic.  The buckles on the shoes are of gold, also the sword, and the pearl tassels on the necklace are real; how I should have liked to have had the little Senator! She said, it must be preserved for your heirs, and thus it happened that we played a little comedy with it. – Therewith she related to me much of your own youth, but nothing about you; except one story which will be eternally of moment to me and certainly the most beautiful, she has in her power to tell.

 

You rejoice in the story of the myrtle-tree of the Frizlar-Nun – it is indeed the story of every ardent-loving heart.  Happiness not always nourishes love, and I have often wondered, that one should offer every sacrifice to happiness and not to love itself, whereby alone it could bloom like that myrtle tree. – It is better that one should renounce all – but the myrtle, which is once planted, that must not be rooted up – it must be cherished to the very last.

 

All that you desire, I hope still to tell you; you presumed rightly, that the amusements here would rob me of much, but your will has power over me and I hope it will strike sparks from the Spirit.  -–The Duchess of Baden is gone, but our family with all friends and connections is so large, that we quite overrun Schlangenbad.  Adieu! I am ashamed of my bulky letter, in which there may be much nonsense.  If you were not exempt from postage, I would not send it.

 

Of your mother I have the best accounts.

 

BETTINE

 

______________


 

 

A p p e n d i x

 

_____

 

To page 190.

 

Why to the paper still my thoughts do tend? –

That, my belov’d, thou must not ask exactly,

For properly have I nothing to tell thee;

Yet will at least, it come in thy dear hand.

 

Because I cannot come, shall what I send

My undivided heart bring thee instantly,

With hopes, delights, raptures and pains unruly:

All this has no beginning and no end.

 

Of this day’s news, I shall confide thee nothing,

How in my musing, fancy, wish and will rebel

My truest heart to you the pace will mend.

 

Thus once I stood before thee, contemplating,

Nothing I said.  What had I then to tell?

All my existence in thy look must end.

 


 

 

A n h a n g

 

_____

 

Zu Seit 190.

 

Warum ich wieder zum Papier mich wende?

Das mufst du, Liebster, so bestimmt nicht fragen:

Denn eigentlich hasb’ ich dir nichts zu sagen;

Doch kommt’s zuletzt in deine lieben Hände.

 

Weil ich nicht kommen kann, soll was ich sende

Mein ungetheiltes Herz hinüber tragen

Mit Wonnen, Hoffnungen, Entzücken, Plagen:

Das alles hat nicht Anfang, hat nicht Ende.

 

Ich mag vom heut’gen Tag dir nichts vertrauen,

Wie sich im Sinnen, Wünschen, Wähnen, Wollen

Mein treues Herz zu dir hinüber wendet:

 

So stand ich einst vor dir, dich anzuschauen

Und sagte nichts.  Was hätt’ ich sagen sollen?

Mein ganzes Wesen war in sich vollendet.

 


 

 

To page 203.

 

A look only from thine eyes into mine,

Of thy lips on my lips only a kiss –

O! who like me once felt so sweet a bliss,

What else to him may then appear divine?

 

Away from thee, estrang’d to what is mine,

My vagrant thoughts will ever meet with this

Sweet hour again, which never I could miss,

That only one – and soon a tear will shine.

 

Soon direst the tear and I feel with new ease,

He loving reaches me, into the still . . . . .

Should I not also reach him in the distance? –

 

Hark to the lisping of this gay love-breeze!

My only happiness on Earth – it is thy will, -

Thy well-minded to me; - give me remembrance!

 


 

 

Zu Seit 203.

 

Ein Blick von Deinen Augen in die meinen,

Ein Kufs von Deinem Mund auf meinem Munde,

Wer davon hat, wie ich, gewisse Kunde,

Mag dem was anders wohl erfreulich scheinen?

 

Entfernt von Dir, entfremdet von den Meinen,

Führ’ ich stets die Gedanken in die Runde,

Und immer treffen sie auf jene Stunde,

Die einzige; da fang’ ich an zu weinen.

 

Die Thräne trocknet wieder unversehens;

Er liebt ja, denk’ ich, her in diese Stille,

Und solltest Du nicht in die Ferne reichen?

 

Vernimm das Lispeln dieses Liebewehens;

Mein einzig Glück auf Erden ist Dein Wille,

Dein freundlicher zu mir; gieb mir ein Zeichen!

 


 

 

To page 205.

 

If I did send thee now these pages white,

Not fill’d with letters, - then perhaps to rhyme

They should engage thee, and to charm my time

Wouldst thou send back them, spending me delight.

 

If then the blue covert came to my sight, -

In woman-wit, inquiring is the prime, -

Love-tales in easy style, in sense sublime

Should I discover, as from thy lips they sigh’d:

 

“Dear child! my gentle heart! My only Being!”

So my desire once friendly thou hadst still’d

With fond indulging words to have me cherish’d.

 

Even thy lisping I were to read believing,

Of which thy loving breath my soul once fill’d

And so for ever me before myself embellish’d.

 


 

 

Zu Seite 205.

 

Wenn ich nun gleich das weifse Blatt dir schickte,

Anstatt dafs ich’s mit Lettern erst beschreibe,

Ausfülltest du’s vielleicht zum Zeitvertreibe

Und sendetest’s an mich, die Hochbeglückte.

 

Wenn ich den blauen Umschlag dann erblickte;

Neugierig schnell, wie es geziemt dem Weibe,

Rifs ich ihn auf, dafs nichts verborgen bleibe;

Da läs’ ich was mich mündlich sonst entzückte:

 

Leib Kind! mein artig Herz! mein einzig Wesen!

Wie du so freundlich meine sehnsucht stilltest

Mit süfsem Wort and mich so ganz verwöhntest.

 

Sogar dein Lispeln glaubt’ ich auch zu lesen,

Womit du liebend meine Seele fülltest

Und mich auf ewig vor mir selbst verschöntest.

 


 

 

To page 272.

 

As I on the Euphrat shipp’d,

Down my finger fell the goldring

In the water’s [?cleft] it slipt,

Which thy love had trust’d me keeping.

 

Thus I dreamt.  In morning’s dew-wet

Touch’d mine eyes a blushing beam,

Tell me poet, tell me prophet!

What does signify [?this] dream?

___

 

Me, who from the Hindostans

Ti Damascus had been swerving,

Speedy with new caravans

To [?the Indies] then removing,-

 

Me thou weddest to thy bay,

To thy terrace blooming round,

Here shall be my latest way

Where my kiss and mind be bound

 


 

 

Zu Seite 272.

 

Als ich auf dem Euphrat schiffte,

Streifte sich der goldne Ring

Fingerab in Wasserklüfte

Den ich jungst an Dir empfing.

 

Also traumt’ ich Morgenrothe

Blitzt’ in’s Auge durch den Baum,

Sag’ Poete, sag’ Prophete!

Was bedeutet dieser Traum

 

___

 

Dies zu

 

So von deinen Fingergliede

Fiel der Ring dem Euphrat zu.

Ach zu tausend Himmelsliedern

Süser Traum, begeisterst du!

 

Mich, der von den Indost

Streifte bis

Um mit neuen

Bis an’s rothe Meer su ssehn.

 

Mich vermahlst Due Deinem Flusse,

Der Terrasse, diesem Hain.

Hier soll bis zum letzten Kusse

Dir mein Geist gewidmet seiu.

 

To the dedication.

 

Haben sie von deinen Fehlen

Immer viel erzählt

Und fürwahr, sie zu erzählen

Vielfach sich geqüalt

Hatten sie von Deinem Guten

Freundlich Dir erzählt

Mit verständig treuen Winken

Wie man Bess’res wählt

O gewifs! Das Allerbeste

Blieb uns nicht verhehlt,

Das fürwahr zur wenig Gaste

In der Klause zählt.

 

(Westostlicher Divan, Buch der Betrachtung.)

 

End of the first Volume.

 


GOËTHE’S

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

WITH

 

A CHILD

 

VOL. II.

 

TO GOETHE.

 

When I wrote to you the last time it was summer; I was on the Rhine, and later, travelled with a merry company of friends and relations, by water in Köln;  when I was returned I spent the last days of your mother with her, in which she was more friendly, more affable than ever.  The day before her death I was with her, kissed her hand and received her “Farewell” in thy name.  For, at no moment have I forgotten thee; I well knew, she had willingly left me thy best love as inheritance.

 

She is now dead, before whom I spread forth the treasures of my life; she knew how and why I love you, she made no wonder of it.  When other people thought to understand me, she let me do as I pleased, and gave my manner of being no name.  Still no more closely could I then have embraced your knees; more firmly, more deeply have fixed my eyes upon you, and have forgotten all the rest of the world; and yet this kept me from writing.  Afterwards you were so surrounded, that I could with difficulty have approached you.

 

A year is now past since I saw you.  One says you are grown handsomer, that Karlsbad has renewed you.  With me time goes haltingly; I am obliged to let the days pass so coldly by, without arresting a single spark, on which I can blow up a flame.  But it shall not be long before I se you – then will I but once and for ever hold you fast in my arms.

 

During all this time, I have passed nearly every evening with Jacobi: I always account it a privilege, that I am permitted to see and speak with him – but that point I have not yet reached, of being sincere with him, and shewing him that love which one owes to his benevolence.  His two sisters palisade him round about, it is provoking, to be kept off from him by empty objections.  He is patient even to weakness, and has no will of his own, opposed to two beings possessing the caprice and imperiousness of Semiramis.  The sovereignty of women pursues him even to the President’s chair in the Academy; they wake him, they dress him, they button his underwaistcoat, they hand him medicine: does he wish to go out?  It is too raw, will he stay at tome? He must take exercise.  Does he go to the Academy? The Nymbus is trimmed that it may show clearly; they put him on a shirt of muslin, with clean jabot and ruffs and a fur coat lined with splendid sable, the foot-warmer is borne before: when he returns from the sitting, he must sleep a little, whether he will or no; thus it continues till evening in continual opposition, when they pull his night-cap over his ears, and put him to bed .

 

The spirit forms for itself, even unconsciously an assylum in which nothing hinders it from ruling according to its rights; what does not detract from these, it willingly leaves to the disposal of others.  This your mother has often extolled in you, that your dignity flowed from your mind, and that you have never strived after any other: your mother said: You are faithful to the Genius, who leads you into the Paradise of wisdom, you enjoy all the fruits which he offers you, therefore new ones are always blooming again for you, while you are consuming the first.  But Lotte and Lehne,[*]) forbid Jacobi contemplation as noxious, and he has more confidence in them than in his Genius: when the latter presents him an apple, he asks the former whether there be no worm in it.

 

No great wit is necessary, and I feel it founded in myself – in the spirit lies the unquenchable impulse to elevate thought: like the object of a journey, the spirit has for its object of a journey, the spirit has for its object the most elevated thought; it strides inquiringly through the earthly world, on to the heavenly; all which assimilates to this, the spirit attracts to itself and enjoys it with rapture – therefore I believe love to be the flight to heaven.

 

I wish for you Goethe, and I believe it firmly too, that all your inquiry, your knowledge, and that which the Muse teaches you,` and lastly also thy love, may united, form a glorified body for thy spirit, that it may no longer be subject to the earthly body, when it puts it off, but may already have passed over into that spiritual body.  Die you must not, he only must die whose spirit does not find the outlet.  Thought wings the spirit, the winged spirit does not die, it finds not back the way to death. –

 

With your mother I could speak of everything, she understood my way of thought, she said: “First learn to know every star, to the very last then mayst thou doubt, till then all is possible.”

 

I have heard much from your Mother which I shall not forget; the way in which she made me sensible of her death, I have written down for you.  People say you willingly turn away from the mournful which cannot be changed; do not, in this sense, turn away from your mother’s parting moments; learn how wise and loving she was at her very last moment, and how mightily Poetry ruled within her.

 

To day I tell you nothing more, for I long that this letter may soon reach you: write me a word, my quiet depends upon it.  At this moment my abode is in Landshut; in a few days I go to Munich, to study music with the Canon Winter.

 

Much, one would rather say be mien and gesture, ah! for you particularly, I have no more important information, than merely to smile upon you.

 

Farewell, continue propitious to me, write to me again that you love me; what I have seen and heard with you, is for me a throne of blessed remembrance.  Mankind pursue different ways, all to one end, namely to be happy: how quickly am I satisfied, if you feel kindly to me, and will be a faithful guardian of my love.

 

Remember me I beg to your wife; as soon as I get to Munich, I will think of her.

 

Thee most devoutly promised

BETTINE BRENTANO.

*) The two so-called careful sisters of the celebrated Jacobi.

 

Landshut, Dec. 18th 1808

 

Favd. By Baron Savigny.

 

TO MRS GOETHE.

 

Willingly, according to the example of your good mother, would I have sent my little keepsake at Christmas to the proper moment, but I must confess, that ill-humour and a thousand other faults of my heart, kept me a long while from all friendly correspondence.  The little chain was intended for you immediately after the death of your mother.  I meant you should wear it during the mourning-time, and always delayed sending it, partly because it was really intolerable for me to touch merely with my pen upon her loss, which has made Frankfort a desert to me.  The little neckkerchief I worked at your mother’s, and have finished here at leisure hours.

 

Continue friendly inclined to me, remind Goethe at happy moments of me; a thought from him of me, is a glittering ornament for me, which adorns and delights me more, than the most precious jewels.  Thus you see, what wealth you may deal out to me, by opportunity assuring him of my love and reverence.  For him also I have something, but it is so dear to me, that I unwillingly abandon it to a dangerous journey.  I am in hopes of seeing him in the first half of this year, when I can bring it to him myself.  Take care for your health and spirits in this cold weather.  My weak ability to give you pleasure, treat as you always have done, with kind indulgence.

 

Munich, January 8th 1808

BETTINE.

 

TO GOETHE.

 

Others were happier than I, who need not close the year without having seen you.  I have been told, how full of love you welcomed your friends. –

 

I have been several weeks in Munich, follow music, and sing a good deal with the Canon Winter, who is a strange fish, but just suits me, for he says “Songstresses must have their humours” and so I can exercise them all on him.  I spend much time by Ludwig Tieck’s sick-bed: he suffers from gout; a sickness, which gives audience to melancholy and all evil humours: I endure him, as much from taste as humanity: a sick-room is, in and for itself, through its great quiet an attractive spot; a patient who with tranquil courage meets his pains, makes it a sacred spot.  You are a great poet, Tieck a great endurer, and to me a phaenomenon, for I did not know before, that there were such great pains: he cannot make a single movement without groaning, his face drips with sweat of agony, and his look often wanders over the flood of pain like a tired, trembling swallow, which seeks in vain a spot, where it can rest; and I stand, astonished and ashamed before him, that I am so healthy; therewith also he composes Spring-Sonnets and rejoices at a bunch of snow-drops which I brought him; as often as I come he first begs me to give the bunch fresh water, then I wipe quite softly, the perspiration from his face, one can scarce do it without giving him pain; and thus I perform all sorts of trifling services for him, which shorten the time.  He will teach me English too, then he lets forth all the anger and peevishness of disease upon me, that I am so stupid, question so absurdly and never understand the answer; I am astonished too, for I believed with other people that I was very clever, if not a genius; and now I come to such abysses, where no bottom is to be found, namely that of learning; I must with astonishment acknowledge, that I have learned nothing my whole life.

 

Before I knew of you, I knew nothing of myself; afterwards, sense and feeling were turned to you, and now the rose blossoms, glows and yields its scent, but it cannot of itself impart that which it has learned in secret.  You are he who has bewitched me, that I am in low esteem with the Philistines, who find a row of talents valuable in a woman – but not the woman herself without these.

 

Playing on the piano, singing airs, speaking foreign languages.  History, natural Philosophy, these form the amiable character; and I alas! behind all this have first sought that which I could love.  Yesterday Tieck had company: I stole unperceived behind a screen; I should surely have fallen asleep there, if my name had not been pronounced; then, they described me so that I was afraid of myself: I came suddenly forth and said: “No, I am too horrible, I shouldn’t like to be any longer alone with myself.”  This caused a slight consternation, and was good fun to me.  The same thing happened to me at Jacobi’s, where Lotte and Lehne had not remarked, that I was sitting behind the great round table: I called out in the midst of their Epistle “I will improve.”  I don’t at all know, why my heart always bounds with joy, when I hear myself abused, and why I must always laugh when one begins to find fault with me; they may heap upon me all the most out-of-the-way things, I must listen to all with pleasure and acquiesce – it is my luck: if I were to defend myself, I should get into an awkward scrape, if I were to dispute with them I should be more stupid than they.  But the latter story brought me good fortune.  Sailer* was there, he was delighted, that I caught Lehne by the head, and gave her a hearty kiss upon her evil mouth to stop it.  After Sailer was gone, Jacobi said “now Bettine has won Sailer’s heart!”  “Who is the man?” asked I.  “What! You don’t know Sailer? Have never heard him spoken of, the all-celebrated, all-loved, the philosopher of God, even as Plato is the divine philosopher?”  These words from Jacobi pleased me; I rejoice infinitely in Sailer, he is Professor at Landshut.  During the Carnival here, there is a stream of festivals, forming a complete, whirlpool, they run so one into another: there are new operas given every week, which gives me good old Winter, no time to breathe; to much I listen with great interest, if I should tell him what I learn in this manner, he would not be able to concieve it.  On the Rhine we wrote about music – I no longer know what.  I have still more to say to you that is new, for me astonishing, scarcely intelligible to my weak mind, and yet I learn it through myself.  Shall not I then believe, that I have a guardian spirit, who teaches me? Yes! Everything depends upon this question; the deeper you inquire, the more mighty is the answer, the Genius is never at fault: but we are shy of asking and still more so of receiving and comprehending the answer, for that costs trouble and pains; otherwise we can learn nothing – where should we obtain it?  He who asks of God, to him He gives the Divine as answer.

 

At the Festivals (which one calls here Academies) – masquerades, and in the midst a little Theatre, in which pantomimic representations of Harlequin and Pantaloon are given, I have become acquainted with the Prince-Royal; I talked awhile with him, without knowing who he was; he has something attractive, friendly, and indeed original about him: true, his whole being, seems more to strive after Liberty, than to be born with her: his voice, his speech and gestures have in them something forced, like a man, who with great expenditure of strength, had helped himself up a smooth face of rock, and has a trembling motion in his yet unrested limbs.  And who knows how his infant years, his inclinations, were oppressed or provoked by opposition?  I look upon him as one who has had much to combat with, and also from whom much that is good may spring: I like him.  So young a Ruler, as it were in the Vestibule of hell, where he must suffer each tongue to wag against him: his good people of Munich as he calls them, bear a grudge against him: well! only wait till he is of age; he will either put you all to shame or he will retaliate finely.

 

*) Bishop Sailer, celebrated for his wisdom, piety and benevolence.

 

January 31st

 

I could not withstand the wonderful spring-weather: the warm, may-like sunbeam, which quite melted the hard icy new-year, was ravishing, it drove me out into the bald, English gardens.  I have clambered up all the Temples of Friendship, Chinese Towers, and national Monuments, to get a sight of the Tyrolese chain of mountains, which thousandfold rear their cleft tops to heaven; in my soul too you may find such great, mountain-masses, which are cleft deep into the roots, and cold and bare, stretch their obstinate crags into the clouds.  I would take you by the hand and lead you are away, that you might contemplate upon me – how, I rose to you in your thoughts, as something remarkable whose tracks you followed, for instance, like an inter-maxillary bone, about which you maintained your right against Soemering in so sharp a correspondence; tell me sincerely, shall I never become of so much importance as such a dead bone?  That God has ordained everything well, who can doubt; but whether you have well fenced in, your heart with mine – against this rise too may mournful hours of doubt, companioned by heavy sighs.  On the Rhine I wrote you much and lovingly; yes! I was quite in your power, and what I thought and felt, was because I beheld you in the spirit: we have now made a pause of nearly four months – you have as yet returned me no answer to two letters.

 

Nothing is of importance to me, but, this, that I be not cheated of you, that not a word, not a look of yours be stolen from me:  I love you so: - this is all – nothing more can find entrance into me – and nothing more will be found in me; and indeed I think it is sufficient, in order to leave my whole life as an important document to the Muses: therefore is it, that so many seasons pass over me severe and cold, as this severe winter; therefore is it that they blossom again, and spring from every side again to life; therefore I often conceal my thoughts from you.  All this time I could not touch a book of yours – no, I could not read a line, it was so mournful for me that I could not be with you.  Alas! I miss your mother, who composed me, who strengthened me against myself; her clear fiery eye, pierced through and through me; I did not need confess to her, she knew all; her fine ear heard in the lowest tone of my voice, how it was with me: O! how many tales did she tell me, to counteract my sensibility without my imparting it to her; how often has a joyful exclamation from her, dispelled all the clouds within me; what friendly letters did she write to me in the Rheingau.  “Courage!” she cried to me; “have courage”; since they will not let you pass for a genuine girl, and say one cannot fall in love with you, therefore you have one plague less – courteously to refuse them: be then a brave soldier, arm yourself against the thought that you must always be with him, and hold him by the hand; arm yourself against your own melancholy – and he is for ever, entirely and devotedstly yours, and no one can rob you of him.

 

Such lines made me infinitely happy – indeed I found you again in her; when I came to Frankfort, I flew to her; when I opened the door, we did not greet one another, it was as if we were already in the midst of conversation.  We two, were perhaps the only living people in all Frankfort or anywhere else; she often kissed me and said, that in my being I reminded her of you – she was also obliged to be your care-dispeller.  She depended upon my heart.  One could not deceive her by insinuating that I was false to her: she said “he is false, who wishes to destroy my pleasure in her.”  I was proud of her love.

 

If you were only no longer in the world, ah!  I would not raise another hand.  Ah, so many thousand hopes arise and yet come to nothing. If I could only sometimes sit half an hour long by you! – that perhaps would also come to nothing; my friend!!-

 

February 3rd

 

During the few weeks which I spent at Landshut, spite of snow and ice I ascended mountains far and near, the whole country lay before my eyes in the most dazzling dress: all colours by winter slain and buried under snow, my cheeks only, the cold made red – like a lonely fire in the wilderness, burns and single look, that lightens and perceives, while the whole world is sleeping; I had so shortly before left the summer, so richly laden with fruit. – Where was it by the bye that I ascended the last mountain on the Rhine? – in Godesberg; were you too often there?   It was almost evening when we were mounted: you will still remember, that on the top stands a single lofty tower, and round about upon the level, the old walls are still standing.  The sun in great splendour, let fall a glowing purple upon the city of the Saints: the Cathedral of Cöln, - on whose thorny decorations, the fog, like a by-wandering flock of sheep left its flakes hanging, in which reflection and refraction, so finely played, - I saw there for the last time: all was melted in the mighty burning, and the cool quiet Rhine, which one sees many miles distant, and the Siebenbergen, rising high in the neighbourhood of its banks.

 

In Summer, in the passionate life and combination of all colours, when Nature arrests the senses, as the most touching magic of its beauty, when Man by sympathy becomes beautiful himself; then too is he himself often as a dream, which flies like vapour before his own perception.  The fire of life within him consumes everything – thought in thought, and forms itself again in everything.  What the eye can reach, he attains, only that he may again entirely abandon himself to it: and thus one feels oneself free and daring upon the loftiest rock-pinnacles, in the boldest waterfall – aye, with the bird in the air, with which one visits the distance, and soars aloft with it, the sooner to reach the place of longing.  In winter it is otherwise: the senses then rest with nature; the thoughts only continue secretly to dig about within the soul, like a workman in the mines.  Upon this I also dear Goethe, build my hopes, (now that I feel, how waste and deficient it is within me,) that the time will come when I can tell and ask you more.  Sometime or other, that which I demand to know, will break in upon me.  That seems to me to be the only communion with God, namely the demand after that which is above earth: and this appears to me the only greatness of man – to perceive and enjoy this answer.  Love is surely also a questioning of God, and the enjoyment in it, is an answer from the loving God himself.

 

February 4th

 

Here in the palace which one calls the Residence and which has seventeen courts, there is in one of the outer buildings a small lonely, court; in the midst is a fountain – Perseus beheading the Medusa, in bronze, surrounded by a grass-plat; an alcove of granite pillars leads to it: mermaids, formed of clay and muscle-shells, hold large basins, into which they formerly spat water; moors heads peep from out the wall, the top and sides are ornamented with pictures, which by the bye are partly fallen away; amongst others Apollo, who is his solar chariot prances over the clouds, and downwards driving, greets his sister Luna: the spot is very lonely; seldom that a servant of the court goes across: one hears the sparrows crying, and I often watch the little lizards and water mice, who campaign about in the ruined fountain; it is close behind the royal Chapel: there too sometimes I hear on Sunday high Mass, or Vespers with full Orchestra – but you will well know where your child is, if it truly and diligently thinks on you.  Adieu, fare thee well: I verily believe that I shall still come to you in this year and perhaps soon; think on me; when you have time write to me – nothing but that I may continue thus to love you: several of my letters must have been lost, for I have written to you several times from the Rhine.

 

Your wife I beg you to greet from me heartily, I do not know if a little box which I sent her under your address be not lost.

 

Munich, February 5th

BETTINE

 

My address is Landshut, at Savigny’s

 

ESTEEMED FRIEND.

 

Receive my thanks for the beautiful presents, which I received from you, they gave me infinite pleasure, because I perceived in them, that you still preserve your kindly feelings towards me, of which I have not yet had opportunity to make myself deserving.

 

I have been eight weeks in Frankfort: your relations all showed me much kindness, I am well aware, that for this I have to thank the great love and respect, which is here felt for our deceased mother: still I much missed your presence, you loved our mother well, and I had besides several commissions from the Geheimerath for you, which he believed you would willingly undertake: I managed all the matters myself, as well as it was possible at this mournful period. – All which I found amongst our mother’s papers from your hand, I have conscientiously delivered up to your friends; I found all well arranged, tied up with yellow ribband and addressed to you by her.

 

You give us hope of a speedy visit: the Geheimerath and I look forward with joy to these pleasant days, we only wish, that it may soon find place, as the Geheimerath will probably return to Carlsbad in the middle of May.

 

His health this winter is extraordinarily good, for which indeed he has to thank the healing springs.  On my return he appeared to me really younger, and yesterday as there was a grand levee at our Court, I saw him for the first time, decked with his orders and ribbands; he looked quite splendid and stately, I could not sufficiently admire him; my first wish was, that his good mother could only have so seen him.  He laughed at my great joy: we spoke much of you, he commissioned me also to return thanks in his name, for all the goodness and friendliness which you shew me: he has determined to write himself and to excuse my bad pen, with which I cannot according to wish express, how much worth your remembrance is to me, and to which I heartily recommend myself.

 

Weimar, February 1st 1809

C.v. GOETHE

 

TO BETTINE.

 

You are very amiable, good Bettine, that you continue to speak a living word to the silent friend, to tell him something of your situation and of the localities in which you are wandering about: I conceive very readily how you fare, and my imagination follows you with pleasure as well upon the mountain heights as in the narrow palace and convent courts.  Think of me too with the lizards and salamanders.

 

A thanksgiving from my wife will already have reached you; your unexpected consignment caused incredible joy, everything has been individually admired and highly valued.  I must now too, fleetingly thank you for the several letters that you have written me, and which pleasantly surprized, amused and in part repeatedly employed me in my Carlsbad loneliness; thus your explosions about music were particularly interesting to me – so I call these spiritual views of your little brain, which at the same time have the excellence of encreasing the charm for the subject.

 

At that time I sent a line to you by my mother, I do not know if you received it.  This excellence is now departed from us, and I well conceive how Frankfort is thus become a desert to you.  All that you will impart concerning the heart and mind of my mother and the love with which you understand to measure it, will be grateful to me.  One may perhaps call it the most rare and therefore the most costly, when such mutual apprehension and acquiescence always bring forth their right effect – always form something which advantages the next step in life; since then by a fortunate concurrence of the moment, the future is most sensibly affected: and thus I willingly believe you when you tell me, how rich a fountain of life is dried up to you in that existence, which freely surrendered itself to your peculiarities.  Thus stood she also to me; in her survival of all other witnesses of my youthful days, she proved that her Nature required no other course than to foster and to love that which destiny and affection had committed to her trust.  During the period since her death I have read through many of her letters and wondered how her spirit to the very latest epoch had not lost its impress.  Her last letter was completely filled with the good which existed between you, and that her latter years, as she herself writes, were greenly entwined by your youth: therefore in this respect too, as in everything else which your quickening heart already has bestowed upon me, do I owe you thanks.

 

William Humboldt* has related much to us about you – that is often.  He always began anew to talk about your little person, without properly having any thing further to say; from which we could conclude the existence of a peculiar interest.  There was lately a slender architect from Cassel here, upon whom you have probably also made an impression.

 

Of such sins you may have many to answer for, for which you are condemned to wait upon, and nurse the gouty and lame.

 

But I hope this will be only a temporary expiation, through which you may only so much the better and livelier enjoy life with the healthy.

 

Now, with thy rich love, bring all again into the track of a habit become so dear to me; do not again let the time pass in such gaps away; let it be understood, that it always has its kind and friendly effect, even though the echo of it may not reach over to you:  I do not though renounce, conveying to you proofs of its impression, by which you yourself may compute whether the effect upon my imagination, answer the magic means of yours.  My wife I hear has invited you, this I do not do, and we are yet both in the right.  Farewell, greet friendly the friendly and continue to be to me Bettine.

 

Weimar, February 22nd 1809

G.   

 

*) Baron W Humboldt, just deceased, the first philologer and philosopher of his age.

 

TO GOETHE

 

If your imagination is ductile enough to accompany me into all the lurking-holes of ruined walls, over cleft and mountain, I will also further venture to introduce you at mine: so come I beg – higher, higher – three stories up – here in my chamber, set yourself on the blue settee at the green table, opposite to me; - I only wish to gaze on you, and – Goethe! does your imagination still follow me? – then you must acknowledge the most changeless love in my eyes, must now, rich in love draw me within your arms: say “so faithful a child is granted me, as reward, as amends for much.  Valuable is this child to me, a treasure it is, a jewel which I would not lose.” – do’st see? – and must kiss me, for that is what my imagination grants to yours.

 

I lead you still further; step softly into my heart’s chamber – here we are in the hall – utter stillness! – no Humboldt – no Architect – no dog that barks.  – You are not a stranger – go on, knock – it will be alone and call to you “come in”.  You will find it, on cool, quiet couch, a friendly light will shine at your approach, everything will be quiet and in order, and you welcome.  What is that? – Heaven! – the flames meeting beyond it! Whence the conflagration? – Who saves here? – poor heart! – poor perilled heart! – What can the understanding do here? – it knows everything best, and yet cannot assist – it leaves the poor one to sink!

 

Either thus cold and trifling proceeds life, (this one calls a healthy state); or if it only venture the single step deeper into feeling, then passions burning seize upon it with force, and thus it consumes itself within itself.  My eyes I must shut, and dare not gaze upon that which is dear to me.  Ah! the slightest remembrance makes me chafe in pining anger, and therefore I dare not always follow you in thought, because I become angry and furious.  When I stretch forth my hands, it is but to the bare walls, when I speak, it is but in the wind, and when at last I write to you, my own heart frets itself, that I do not fly over the light bridge of thrice day and night, and in sweetest, (of love eternally desired) calm, lay myself at thy feet.

 

Say! how are you so mild, so richly kind in your dear letter? in the midst of hard-frozen winter, sunny days which warm my blood! what would I more? – ah! as long as I am not with you – no blessing.

 

Or! I would fain, as often as I write to you, tell you again, how, why, and everything: I would fain lead you along the lone way, which I alone will take, that it may be lone, and I be alone who so loves you and is so acknowledged by you.

 

Whether love be the greatest passion, and whether to be overcome, I do not understand, with me it is Will – mighty, invincible.

 

The only different between human and divine will is, that the latter does not yield and always wills the same: but our will each moment inquires, dare, or shall I? – The difference is, that the divine will eternizes everything, and the human wrecks upon earthly ground, but this is the great secret, that love is heavenly will, Almightness, to which nothing is refused.

 

Ah!  Human wit hath no sound, but heavenly wit – this is music, laughing energy, what is earthly is to it a thing of jest; it is the splendid plumage with which the soul soars, high above the abodes of earthly prejudices; from there above each lot is to her the same.  We say, “Fate rules over us?”   We are our own fate, we break the threads which bind us to happiness, and tie those which lay an unblessed burthen upon the heart: an internal spiritual form will shape itself by means of the external and worldly one; this internal spirit rules itself over its own fate, according as may be requisite to its higher organisation.

 

You must not take it ill, if I cannot make it clearer.  You know all and understand me, and know that I am in the right and rejoice at it.

 

Good night! – till to morrow, good night! – All is still, each in the house sleeping, hangs dreaming upon that, which wakes he covets, but I alone watch with you.  Without, upon the street, no sound more – I would fain be assured, that at this moment no soul more things on you, no heart gives a throb more for you, and I alone in the wide world sit at thy feet, my heart with full strokes goes up and down: and while all are sleeping, I watch to clasp your knee to my breast.

 

-          And you?  - The world needs not know that you love me.

BETTINE.

 

TO GOETHE

Münich, March 3rd

 

The full day with its news, breaks into my retirement, as a heavily laden waggon, breaks through a light bridge, which was only built for harmless walks.  It does not signify; one must lay hold and help to set all again to rights: in every alley one cries “war”, the Library servants run about, demanding the borrowed books and manuscripts, for all is to be packed up.  Hamberger, a second Hercules: - for as the latter cleaned out the stables of the twenty thousand cattle, so does he the Library of eighty thousand books, and grieves that all past labour has been in vain.  The Gallery too is to be packed up; in short the fine arts are in the greatest consternation.  To Operas and music “vale” is said, the illustrious lover of the Prima Donna goes forth to the field; the Academy hangs out mourning lamps, and covers her forehead till the storm be passed: and thus may all be in still, weary waiting for the enemy – who perhaps will not come at all.  I am in a ferment too and indeed a revolutionary one.  The Tyrolese, I am on their side, that you may think.  Oh! I am weary of hearing, our neighbour’s flute, in the attic blowing its airs till late in the night – the drum and the trumpet, they make the heart fresh.

 

“Ah, had I but doublet and breeches and hat” I would run over to the straight nosed, plain-hearted Tyrolese, and make their fair, green standard flap in the wind.

 

I have great talent for stratagem; if I were once there, I could certainly do them service.  My money is all gone; a good fellow, a medical student, invented a scheme for conveying it to the Tyrolese prisoners, who are treated with great severity.  The prison grates look upon an empty space by the river: the whole day long, mischievous boys were gathered there, who pelted them with mud: towards evening we went there: while one of us near the sentinel called out “O! What smoke is that in the distance?” and as he looked round for the smoke, the other shewed the prisoners the glittering coin, as he wrapped it up in paper, and then made it up with mud into a ball, “Have a care” he cried and threw it at the Tyrolese; thus it succeeded several times: the sentinel was rejoiced that the mischeivous younkers could aim so well.

 

You perhaps know, or remember having seen a Count Stadion, Prehendary and Imperial Ambassador, called by his friends “Black Fritz;” he is my only friend here: the evenings which he has unengaged, he willingly spends with me: then he reads the papers, writes despatches, listens to me when I tell some story – we often talk too of you: - a man of prudent, unfettered views, and of noble manners.  He imparts to me remarkable passages out of the history of his heart and life, he has made many sacrifices, but has not thereby lost anything; on the contrary, his character has thus become freed from the stiffness, which always more or less takes the place of natural grace, as soon as one stands in a not unimportant connection with the world, where one must partly devote oneself to the artificial: he is exactly a simple as a child, and in my loneliness gives many a turn to my humours.  On Sundays he fetches me in his carriage, and reads Mass to me in the Royal chapel; the church is generally quite empty, except a few old people.  The silent, lonely church is delightful to me, and that the dear friend, of whom I know so much which is kept in his heart, should raise for me the Host and the Chalice, - that too delights me.  Ah! would that I knew that in any way he were compensated for what has been taken from him.

 

Ah! that forbearance should counterbalance desire! – Yet at last the spirit, which is purified by suffering, will dance over this common-day life on to heaven.

 

And what would wisdom be, if it did not exercise power, to make itself alone of worth.  “It will soothingly compensate each forbearance, and it caressingly insinuates to you all the advantages of its possession, while you weep for that which it denies.”

 

And how can we attain the eternal but when we venture the temporal?

 

I see everything, and would fain part with all wisdom to the first indulgence-pedlar I see, for absolution of all the love-intrigues, which I mean to have with you.

 

March 11th

 

Ah! if love did not make me clear-sighted, I should be miserable; I see the frost-flowers on the window panes, and the sun-beam which by little and little melts them, and imagine to myself everything in your room, how you walk up and down and thoughtfully observe these front-landscapes with their little pine-forests, and these flower-pieces.  Then I perceive your features so clearly, and it becomes so true that I can see you; in the mean time the drum here is beating under the windows through all the streets and calling the troops together.

 

March 15th

 

State-matters they do not confide to me, but heart-matters. – Yesterday evening the dear catholic priest came: the conversation was a dreamy lisping of former times; a fine web, which a soft breath waves in the still air.  The heart too has a summer, said he, we cannot withhold it from this hot season, and God knows, that the spirit must ripen like the golden wheat, before the sickle cuts it.

 

March 20th

 

I am curious to hear love conversed about: the whole world, though, speaks of it, and in novels enough has been talked about it, yet it is not that which I wish to hear.  As a proof of my sincerity I acknowledge to you, that also in “Wilhelm Meister” I feel the same; most of the personages therein trouble me, as if I had an evil conscience – then one does not feel secure within or without: - I would say to Wilhelm Meister: “Come, fly with me beyond the Alps to the Tyrolese, there will be whet our sword, and forget the rag-tag of Comedians, and then all your dears, with their pretensions and lofty feelings must starve awhile.  When we return, the paint upon their cheeks will be faded, and the gauze garments, and the fine sensibilities will shudder before your sun-burnt, Marslike countenance.  Yes! if ever anything is to become of you, you must venture your enthusiasm for the war; believe me, Mignon would not have fled from this beautiful world, in which she must leave her dearest behind; she would assuredly have borne with you all fatigues of war, and upon meagre fare have spent the night upon the rough Alps, in the winter-caverns; the fire of freedom would also have kindled in her bosom and borne fresh and more healthy blood through her veins.  Ah! wilt thou not for love of this child, leave these people altogether.  Melancholy lays hold on you, because there is no world in which you can act.  If you were not afraid of human blood – here among the Tyrolese you may engage for a right, which has sprung out of as pure a nature, as the love in the heart of Mignon. – You, Meister, are he, who stifles the germ of this tender life beneath all the weeds which overgrow you.  Tell me, what are they all compared with the seriousness of the time, when Truth shall rise up in her pure primeval form, and bid defiance to the destruction, which falsehood has plotted?

 

O! it is heavenly kindness of God – by which we might all become sound – such a revolution: again and again he lets the soul of freedom be new-born.

 

Lo ye, Meister! If to day in the star-clear, cold night, you fetch your Mignon from out her little bed, in which she yesterday fell asleep, in tears about you, say to her: “Be quick and go with me, I will go alone with you to foreign lands.” – O she will understand it, it will not appear incredible to her; you do what she long since demanded of you and what you have inconceivably omitted.  You will bestow a happiness upon her, that she may take part in your severe fatigues; by night on dangerous ways, where every step deceives, there her quick eye, her confiding boldness will lead you over in safety to the war-hemmed people, and when he sees you offer your breast to the arrows she will not shrink, (it will not vex her like the arrows of the smooth-tongued Syrens), she will soon grow ripe in the bold confidence of joining in the harmony of freedom’s enthusiasm.  And if you must fall too in the van, what has she lost? What could equal for her this beautiful death, - perhaps at your side? – “both locked arm in arm, ye lay beneath the cool, wholesome earth, and mighty oaks shadow your grave!” say! Were not this better than that you should soon be compelled to give her fine form into the anatomical hands of the Abbe that he might inject it with wax.

 

Ah Goethe, I must lament over all the pains of former time, which you have caused me; I feel myself now as helpless, as inexperienced as Mignon then did.  – There is an uproar without, to day and all about nothing; they have brought in some poor Tyrolese as prisoners, poor day-labourers, who had hid themselves in the woods: from above I hear the mad tumult; I have closed shutters and courtains; I cannot look at it; the day too is departing, I am alone, not a human being, who feels like me, humanly.  These firm, sure, in themselves indigenous natures, which, with the purer air of their mountains, inhale the spirit of truth and freedom, must let themselves be dragged through the dirty streets, by a beer-intoxicated mob, and no one offers them restraint, no one opposes their maltreatment; they are allowed to commit sacrilege against the loftier feelings of humanity! – Devil! Were I ruler, I would here shew them, that they are slaves, none should dare to violate the image of god.

 

I always believe, that the Prince Royal must feel otherwise, more humanly: people will not praise him; they say, he is capricious and splenetic:  I have confidence in him: he still tends with care the garden which he had as a child, waters the flowers himself which blossom in his chamber, makes verses, rugged, but full of inspiration; all this speaks well for him to me.

 

What is he thinking about? Who could realize each thought? – a prince whose spirit should illuminate the whole land? He must continue his life long in prayer, who is destined to live and act in a thousand other beings.

 

Yes! May it be that a king’s son awakes within himself the Divine Spirit, to rule instead of him? Stadion sighs and says: “the best of all is, that let the die fall as it may, the way to Heaven always remains open to King and subject.

 

March 25th

 

I have neither courage nor wit left, ah! had I but a friend, who would accompany me by night over the hills!

 

The Tyrolese are lying in this cold season with wife and child amid the rocks, and their inspired breath, warms the whole atmosphere. When I ask Stadion, whether Duke Charles will certainly not forsake them too, he clasps his hands, and says “I will not survive it.”

 

March 26th

 

The paper must smart for it, my only confidant! – yet what capricious humours Cupid has, that in this series of love-letters, I should all at once be inflamed by Mars – (my portion of love’s pains I have already; I should be ashamed, at such a moment to wish them fully allowed) and if I could only do something, and the powers of fate would not slight me! That is the bitterest portion when one has no credit with them, when they purpose one to nothing.

 

Only think, that I am alone in this horrible Munich; not a countenance to be trusted in; Savigny is at Landshut, the billows in this political sea-storm meet above Stadion’s head; I only see him for a moment at a time; one is quite suspicious of me on his account, that’s exactly what I like: when one is proud of their own folly, yet one should have an idea, that all and every are not cheated into it.

 

This morning I was out in the snow covered park, and mounted the snailshell-tower, to look with the telescope towards the Tyrolese hills, did I know thy roof to be there, I could not gaze more ardently.

 

To day Winter held a rehearsal of a march, which he composed for the campaign against Tyrole: I said the march was bad, the Bavarians would all run away and the disgrace fall to his share.  Winter tore the composition and was so angry, that his long silver hair waved to and fro, like a corn-field overtaken by a hail-storm.

 

Jacobi, I have not seen for three weeks, although I have written him a long letter upon his Woldemar, which he gave me to read here: I wanted to practice speaking the truth, without offence; he was satisfied with the letter, and sent me a tolerably long reply: were I not fallen into such a violent heart-throbbing about the Tyrolese, I should perhaps have fallen into a philosophical correspondence and most certainly have stuck fast in it – but not yonder upon the hills: there, I should have fought out my cause.

 

Schelling too I seldom see, he was something about him, which discomforts me, and this something is his wife, who wants to make me jealous of you; she corresponds with a certain Pauline G. of Jena: she is always telling me, how dear you hold her, what amiable letters you write to her etc.  I listen, and become ill from it, and then I am provoked at the Lady.  Ah! it is all one, I can’t will that you love me best, but no one shall dare to measure with me their rights in love to you.

BETTINE.

 

TO GEOTHE

April 10th

 

The sun rises capriciously, shows me much that is hidden, then dazzles me again; varying with heavy clouds it passes over me, now stormy weather, then calm again.

 

By degrees it becomes level, and upon the even mirror, bright and glowing, always rests again the form of the dearest – does not waver; why before all others only thou? why after all, ever thou again? and yet am I of more value to you, with all love within my bosom? … do I ask you?  No! for I well know, that you will give no answer – even if I should say, dear, only loved one.

 

Ah! what have I lived through at this time, which has broken my heart! I would fain hide my head in your bosom.  I would twine my arms around you, and sleep out the evil time.

 

All that has hurt me! Nothing have I had in head and heart, save the mighty fate alone, which is resting yonder over the mountains.

 

But why should I weep for those, who have breathed forth their life with such joyful enthusiasm? what makes me thus lament? here needs no pity but for me, who must so strive to endure.

 

Will I write to you of everything, I dream away the time – time, which with glowing soles is wandering through Tyrol; such bitter sorrow has pierced me, that I do not venture to send you the sheets, written at such hours.

 

April 19th

 

I have the second sight, Goethe! – I see the out-poured blood of the Tyrolese, triumphantly streaming back into the bosom of Divinity; the lofty, mighty oaks, the dwellings of men, the green verdure, the happy flocks, the fondly cherished wealth of this heroic people, who were victims to the flames of sacrifice, all these I see beautified ascend with them to heaven – even to the faithful dog, that protecting his master, like him despised death.

 

The dog, which has no sense, only instinct, and content with every lot does what is right. – Ah! had but man only so much sense as not to deny his own instinct!

 

April 20th

 

During all these days of inquiet, not one believe me Goethe, passes, which I do not close with thought of thee; I am so accustomed to call on your name at night, before I turn to sleep, to refer all my hopes to your heart, and all requests and demands for the future.

 

Here they lie around me, the sheets with the history of the day and the dreams of the night; nothing but confusion, depression, longing and fainting sighs: at such a time, which asks so much for itself, I would impart nothing to you of my necessitous heart; only a few little matters, which employ me, did I write down for you, that I may not deny before you, how a higher destiny beckoned also to me, although I felt myself too infantine to follow it.

 

It was in March, Count Moni, in whose family I live here, introduced to me a strange affair, which ended very prettily.  The tutor of his son denounced him to the police as inclined to the Austrians, and that the health of the Emperor had been drunk at his table; he lays all the fault upon me, and then begs me to agree in the story, as it might be very disadvantageous to him, but at the most could only occasion me a slight reprimand: it was very welcome to me, to be able to do him a service; I consented with pleasure.  At a party, the President of Police is introduced to me, under pretence of wishing to make my acquaintance; I was beforehand with him, and pour out my whole heart, my enthusiasm for the Tyrolese, and that out of very longing I ascend the snailshell-tower every day with a telescope; but that on that day a sentinel had been placed there, who would not let me up: touched at my confidence in him, he kisses my hand, and promises me to have the sentinel removed: - this was no stratagem on my part for I really should not have known how to behave myself otherwise: in the mean time by thus behaving, my friend was white-washed and I not made black.

 

A few days after, in passion-week, as I was sitting in my chamber alone in the twilight of evening, two Tyrolese entered: I was astonished but not afraid.  One takes me by the hand and says: “We know that you are inclined for the Tyrolese, and will beg a favour of you,” this was to deliver papers and verbal messages to Stadion: they said to me besides, that a time would surely come, when I might be able to serve them; it was so strange to me, I believed it might be a plot to came at my opinions, but I soon recovered myself and said: “You may betray me or not, I will nevertheless do what you ask of me."” The Tyrolese looked at me and said: “I am the king’s body-guard, no man suspects me, and yet I have no thought but how I may assist my countrymen, and now I am in your hands and you will not fear that a Tyrolese could also be a traitor.”

 

When the Tyrolese were gone, I was like one benumbed, my heart beat high with delight, that they had put such confidence in me.  The next day was Good Friday, Stadion fetched me away, to read Still Mass to me.  I gave him my despatches and told him everything, and declared to him full of shame the great longing I had, to go forth to the Tyrolese.  Stadion said, I might rely upon him, he would sling his carabine across his shoulders and go into the Tyrol, and all that I wished, he would execute for me, and that it was the last Mass, he should read to me, for in a few days his journey would commence.  O dear! My heart was heavy that I must so soon lose my dear friend.

 

After mass I went into the quire: Winter had the Lamentation sung; I put on a Chorister’s gown and sung with them: in the mean time came the Prince Royal with his brother: the crucifix lay upon the ground, which both brothers kissed, afterwards they embraced, they had till now been disunited, on account of a tutor, whom the Prince Royal, thinking them incapable, had removed from about his brother: thus they were reconciled here in the Church, and to me it gave great pleasure to behold it.  Bopp, an old music master of the Prince Royal, who also gives me instruction, accompanied me home: he showed me a sonnet which the Prince had composed that morning: that he already feels this impulse of heart under circumstances nearly affecting him, to become poet, speaks for a deeper soul: the rights of Nature most surely rule within him; then too, he will not let the Tyrolese be misused: yes! I have great confidence in him.  Old Bopp told me all which could still tend to increase my enthusiasm.  On Easter Monday he fetched me from the English gardens, to hear the address of the Prince Royal to his assembled troops, with whom he is to make his first campaign.  I could understand nothing connectedly, but what I did hear did not please me: he spoke of their bravery, their perseverance and fidelity, of the rebellious, traitorous Tyrolese; that united with the former he would bring back the latter to obedience, and that he considered his honour as pledged and indissolubly connected with theirs, etc.  When I got home all this stirred within me: I see already in my mind’s eye, the Prince Royal, left to his Generals, doing all against which his hearts appeals, and then he is lost.  Such a Bavarian General is a complete old rumbling double-bass, out of him, nothing comes grumbling but Bavaria’s ambition: that is the rough, raw tone, with which he drowns all better feelings.

 

All this heaved within my breast as I returned from this public address, and I thought, that no one in the world speaks truth to a Ruler, on the contrary nothing but flatterers who always allow him to be in the right, and the deeper such a one errs, the greater is the fear of the others, lest he should doubt of their accordance: they never have the weal of mankind, but always the favour of the Patron in their eye.  I was therefore obliged to take a desperate step, to allay the tumult of my own spirits, and I beg your forgiveness beforehand, if you should not pronounce it good.

 

After first making way to the Prince-Royal’s heart, with my love for him, my enthusiasm for his genius (God knows with what flourishes), I confide in him my views of the Tyrolese (who have won the hero’s crown) my confidence that he would spread mildness and mercy there, where his people are now sowing wild anger and revenge; I demand of him whether the name Duke of Tyrol sounds not more splendid than the names of the four Kings, who have united their powers, to strangle these heroes? and, the issue might be as it would.  I hoped that he would deserve from them the name of “the humane.”  This is about the contents of a long letter of four pages which, after having written it under the most violent emotions (wherefore, I cannot answer for all besides that may have found its way into it) I sealed it with the greatest sang-froid, and quite relieved gave it into the music-master'’ hands, with the remark “that it contained significant matters about the Tyrolese and would be of the greatest importance to the Prince-Royal.”

 

How one likes to make himself of importance! My Bopp almost strutted out of his boots for over-speed, to deliver the interesting letter to the Prince; and how thoughtless am I, - I forgot all: I went to Winter, to sing psalms, to Tieck, to Jacobi – no one is in accord with me, indeed all are afraid, and if they only knew what I have done, they would out of fear forbid me the house; I look ironically amongst them and thing: “you may be Bavarian and French, I and the Prince royal are German and Tyrolese, or he will put me into prison: then I am at once free and independent; then my courage will increase, and when I am again set free, then I will go over to the Tyrolese, and meet the Prince in the field and hector him out of that, which he would not grant me.”

 

O Goethe! if I should wander into Tyrol and come at the right moment, to die the hero death! it must be quite another being, it must be a reward for such laurel-crowned brows: splendid triumph in the moment of passing away, is an all sufficient witness, that the enthusiasm, which heroic death inspires, is only a reflection of heavenly glory. – When I die, (I already rejoice at the thought) I dance forth from the coffin of my body and then I meet with you, in this glorious summer-season among the flowers: when a butterfly shall prefer you to the flowers and rather light upon your forehead and your lips, than upon the blooming roses around, then be sure it is my spirit which has been freed upon the Tyrolese battle-field from earthly bonds, that it may follow, where love calls.

 

If only all were true, through which I have already lived in fancy – if all the splendid events of my internal, were also reflected in my external existence, then would you already have learned great and mighty things from your child, I cannot tell you, what, dreaming I have already done, how my blood rises within me, so that I may well say I have a longing to sprinkle it out.

 

My old music-master came back trembling and pale: “what” said he, “was in the papers which you commissioned me to give the Prince, I wish it may not have ruined me for ever; the Prince seemed roused, indeed enraged, as he read them, and as soon as he observed me he commanded me to go, without giving me as usual even a gracious word.” – I was obliged to laugh, the pianist became more and more anxious, I more and more merry: I already rejoiced in my imprisonment and how in my solitude I should give way to my philosophical reveries: then thought I to myself, my destiny will at last begin to have an existence, one time or other something must arise out of it; but it did not happen so: once only I saw the Prince in the Theatre, he nodded friendly to me: enough, for a week I had not seen Stadion; on the tenth of April as I received the certain news that he had set off in the night, I was very sad, that I should have seen him for the last time; it gave me a strange presentiment, that he had read his last Mass on Good-Friday: - my many repressed and dissembled feelings broke forth at last in tears.  In solitude one learns to know what he would have, and what is denied him.  I found no resting place for my labouring heart; worn out with weeping I feel asleep – have you ever fallen asleep, worn out with weeping? Men do not weep so perhaps? – You have never so wept that sighs oppress the breast even in sleep?  Thus sobbing in my dreams I hear my name called; it was dark; by the weak struggling light of the lanterns in the street, I observed a man standing by me in a soldier’s dress, sabre, cartouche-box, black hair, I almost believed to see “black Fritz.” – “Yes! you are not deceived, it is black Fritz, who comes to take leave of you.  My carriage stands before the door, I am now going as a soldier to the Austrian Army, and what concerns your friends the Tyrolese, you shall have nothing to reproach me with or you never see me again, for I give you my word of honour, I will not survive their betrayal: everything will assuredly be well; I was just now with the Prince Royal, he drank with me the health of the Tyrolese, and perish Napoleon; he took me by the hand and said “remember, that in April of the year nine during the Tyrolese Revolution the Prince-Royal of Bavaria bids defiance to Napoleon,” and then he touched my glass with his, so fervently that the stem broke.  I said to Stadion, “now am I alone and have no friend more,” he smiled and said, “You write to Goethe, write to him also of me, that the Catholic Priest will earn himself laurels upon the Tyrolese battlefield “Now”, said I, “I shall not so soon hear another Mass.”  “Nor shall I” answered he, “so soon read another.”  Then he struck his musket on the ground and reached me his hand as farewell. Him, I shall certainly never again behold.  Scarcely was he gone, when there was another knock; old Bopp comes in: it was dark in the room, I perceive by his voice, that he was rejoiced, he solemnly hands me a broken glass and says, “this the Prince sends you, and says to you by me, that out of it he has drunk the health of those, whom you protect and here too he sends you his cockade as gage, that he will keep his word, to curb every injustice, every cruelty.”

 

I was glad, heartily glad, that I had not been too prudish or shy, to follow up that confidence with which the Prince, and all, even the most contradictory things, that I had heard of him, inspired me; it was very kind of him that he sent me such a greeting and that he did not repel my forwardness; I will not forget it, even should I hear much that is wrong of him: for amongst all who judge him, not one I am sure has so good a heart as he, who quietly submits. I also know that he has a solemn reverence for you, and does not, like other Princes, comes in contact only in passing, with such a master-spirit as yourself; no, it will come from his heart, if he should ever see you and say that he esteems it as his highest happiness.

 

I have still much upon my heart, for I have only you to whom I can impart it.  Every moment moves me anew, it is as if Fate held market just before my doors; as soon as I put out my head, if offers plunder, treason and falsehood for sale, the Tyrolese excepted, whose cry of Victory sounds through all the calumny and bitterness of their enemies, - from whose freshly shed blood new spring-flowers area already shooting; and the youths, fresh every morning from the fog-mantled crags dance on to certain Victory.

 

Adieu! Adieu!  I enjoin you my love, which here in these leaves, merely in passing by, shakes the powder of its luxuriant blossoms from out their full cups.

BETTINE

 

P.S.  Frederick Tieck is at present employed on Schelling’s bust; it will not be handsomer than he – and therefore very ugly; and yet it is a beautiful work.

 

As I entered Tieck’s work-room, and saw how the great, broad, splendid, square Schelling-head, made its appearance beneath his quick fingers, I thought to myself he had received instruction from God how he made men, and that he would immediately breathe into him the breath of life, and the head would learn to say A-B, with which a philosopher can say so much.

 

TO BETTINE.

 

With words as willingly as with thoughts, dearest Bettine, one would meet thee; but these times of war, which exercise so great an influence upon reading, extends it not less severely to writing: and therefore must one forbid oneself the open expression of inclinations, similar to your romantically enthusiastic tales.  I must therefore wait that, which you by a long series of letters give me leave to hope, namely yourself, that I may answer you everything with thanks for your inexhaustible love.

 

It was only last week that I received your packet, which the courier in my absence delivered to the Duke, who gave it me himself.  His curiosity was not a little on the stretch, I was obliged, merely to pacify him, to impart to him your successful political intrigues, which are besides so delightful, that it will be difficult to keep them for oneself alone.  The Duke is very sorry, that you are in the interest of other powers.

 

Here in Jena I have woven myself into a romance, that I might be less burthened by all the evils of time; I hope the butterfly, which flies forth from it, will greet you still an inhabitant of this earthly ball, and prove to you how the Psyches even upon apparently different courses meet together.

 

The lyric challenges too, upon an earlier period of the author’s life, have been in more senses than one pleasant to me, and did not man grow rather out of the time than of the soul, I would not again feel how painful it is, to give no ear to such requests.

 

Your interesting adventures with the high protector of his own hostile opponents, makes me curious to know still more of him and also in another light: p.e. could you impart to me the essays and fragments of his poems, in possession of which you are, I should with pleasure observe him in unaffected play with his young Muse.

 

Opportunities of sending me your letters safely, do not neglect, they are at this poor time particularly welcome.  Impart also what each day brings with itself of friends and remarkable people, Arts and philosophical appearances: since you are in a circle of manifold excited spirits, the matter to such relations cannot be exhausted.

 

Would that the promised communications, concerning the last days of my mother, may not be forgotten in these all-swallowing events: it is true, friends have told me much of her, how with the greatest collectedness she settled all her earthly matters; but from you I expect something else; that your sense of love will erect a memorial to her in the remembrance of her last moments.

 

I remain much in your debt, dear child, with these few lines; I can only repay you with thanks for all which you give me, I would fain give you the best, if you had not already irresistibly made it your own.

 

“Black Fritz” is under this name an intimate acquaintance of mine, and the beautiful traits, which you give of him, form a perfect whole with that which a friendly remembrance adds.  You are right to say, that where the ground is soaked with heroes’ blood, it shoots forth anew in each flower, on your hero I trust that Mars and Minerva may bestow all happiness, since he seems to be torn from so much that is beautiful on your side.

 

May 17th 1809                                                                                                                                        G

 

TO GOETHE

May 18th

 

The Prince Royal Bavaria is the most pleasant unaffected youth, is of so noble a nature, that deceit does not wound him, even as lance-thrusts could never wound the horned Siegfried.  He is a blossom upon which the morning dew is still resting, he still hovers in his own atmosphere, that this, his best strength is still in him.  If it would only continue so, and that no evil powers should become masters over him!  How favoured were those knights, who were provided by well-inclined fairies with talismans, when they were sent forth to fetch the dancing water of life, or golden love-apples from between fiery dragons and uncouth giants, and an enchanted Princess in marble, as red as blood, as white as snow, beautiful as the expanded heaven-tent above the gardens of spring, was the reward of her deliverance.  Now the problem is otherwise, the unwatched apple-trees hand their fruit-laden branches over the way, and the loved one, listens behind the hedge, to catch the knight herself; and all this he shall forego and dedicate his heart to virtue which hath no youth, but a horrible mask, so that one might fain take to flight before it.  “Beauty and the beast” – the beast is virtue and beauty is youth, who must let herself be eaten up by it.  It is then no wonder, when youth takes flight before virtue, and one cannot without secret partial wishes be witness of the race. – Poor Prince Royal!  I like him, because with so fair a will he goes over to my Tyrolese, and even if he does nothing but curb cruelty, I depend upon him.

 

Yesterday, for the first time again, I went a short way in the open air, with a capricious lover of the arts and sciences, - a very good, obedient child to his own humours, a warm, lively disposition, broad and narrow, just as you please, turns himself round over a precipice without giddiness, ascents with delight the bald crags of the Alps, in order to spit at pleasure into the Ocean or into the Mediterranean: besides all this makes little noise.  If you ever see him, and recognize him by this description, only call to him Rumohr, I fancy he will turn himself to look after you – With this man did my unembarrassed youth venture to accomplish a four mile journey, the place of our pilgrimage is called Harlachingen, in French Harlequin.  A hot afternoon, just fit to set fire to melancholy looks.

 

We leave the green meadow-carpet, step over a narrow plank to the other side of the bank, wander on again amidst meadows, mills, brooks: - how well a peasant looks there, with red jacket, leaning against the lofty stem of the noble populus alba, whose fine branches, with scarce unfolded leaves, spin down a soft green veil, as it were a spring net, in which the thousand chafers and other insects, emprison themselves, gambol, and charmingly keep house.  Now! and why not? (there under the tree is place sufficient to give audience to his thoughts) the humorous lover of Nature lays him down, the dolce farniente, hums a cradle-song in his ears, the eye-lids sink, Rumohr sleeps.  This pleases him so well: dreaming, he sinks his head upon his breast; now Rumohr I should like to ask you what I never dare ask when you are awake.  How comes it that you are so full of pity and so friendly with every beast, and yet do not trouble yourself about the mighty fate of yonder hill-folk?  A few weeks ago, as the ice broke up and the river was swollen, you staked your all to save a cat from drowning.  The day before yesterday, you with your own hands made a grave for a killed dog which lay by the road, although you were in silk-stockings and had an opera-hat under your arm.  This morning you complained with tears, that the neighbours had disturbed a swallow’s nest, spite of your entreaties and persuasions.  Why are you not content to sell your ennui, your melancholy humour for a rifle?  You are as light and slender as a birch, you could make hops over precipices, from one rock to another, but lazy you are, and dreadfully ill of neutrality. – There I stand alone upon the meadow, Rumohr snoring that the very flowers tremble, and I think upon the alarumbell, whose note sounds so fearfully in the enemy’s ear, and at whose call all come forth with drums and pipes, let the storm rage or not, be it day or night – and Rumohr, under the shade of a young verdured tree, lulled by playful zephyrs and singing midges, sleeps soundly! What signifies to the gentleman, the lot of those, to whom no fatigue is too great, no march too long, who only ask “where is the enemy?” – then, on, on, for God, our beloved Emperor and Fatherland!!  This I must tell you, if I could ever love an Emperor, a sovereign, it would be at the moment, when such a people with enthusiasm shed their blood for him: yes, then I too would cry; “he who will take my liege from me, must first kill me,” but now I say with the Apostle “each is born to be a King and Priest of his own divine Nature” like Rumohr.

 

The Isar is a strange river.  Arrow-swift the young sources precipitate themselves from the mountain clefts, gathering themselves beneath in the rocky bed, into a rapid torrent.  Like a foaming dragon with extended gorge, it roars on this side and that, curling above protruding crags; its green and dark waves break thousandfold upon the stones and foamingly retire; they sigh, they whisper, they groan, they roar mightily.  The mews fly by thousands above the waterfall and wet the points of their sharp wings; - and in so niggardly a country, dreadful to behold, is a small foot bridge, of two planks, a quarter of a mile long slanting along the river. – Well, we went over it presuming no danger, the waters broke in giddy haste upon the fence-work under the trembling bridge.  Notwithstanding the planks with my light weight swang to and fro, and Rumohr’s foot broke twice through, we were got tolerably far, when a fat citizen with a merit-medal upon his breast, came from the other side: neither had remarked the other, to pass was impossible, one party must turn back.  Rumohr said: we must first learn for what he has received the medal, upon that shall depend, who is a turn back.  Really I was afraid, I was already giddy: had we been obliged to turn back, I must go first, while the loose planks were swinging beneath my foot.  We inquired most respectfully after the grounds of his desert: - he had taken a thief.  Rumohr said, “that desert I do not understand how to value, for I am no thief, therefore I beg you to turn back: the astonished fat man allowed himself with Rumohr’s assistance to be turned round, and took the way back.

 

Under a chestnut tree I laid myself down, dreamingly I keep digging with a twig in the earth.  Rumohr with stick and hat chased the cock-chafers, which like rifle-balls whistled about us, in going home at dusk.  Near to the town, upon a green space by the bank, stands the statue of Saint John of Nepomuck, the water-god: four lanterns throw a pious light upon him, the people kneel down there one behind the other, perform their devotions, one not disturbing the other, go and come; the crescent moon was above; - in the distance we heard drums and trumpets, signal of joy at the return of the King: - he was fled before a handful of daring Tyrolese, who wanted to take him prisoner, why did he not let himself by captured? He would then have been in the midst of heroes – no better company for a King: for nought, it would not have been, the rejoicing would not have been trifling, face to face, he would perhaps have done better; he is good, the King, he too must join himself to the iron destiny of a false policy. – As we entered, the town was illuminated, and my heart was with all that heavy, very heavy, fain would I have rolled with each rock-stone into the abyss, because I am obliged to let everything happen as it will.  To day we have the 18th of May, the trees are in blossom, what will happen yet ere the fruit ripen.  On yesterday’s eve, the sky glowed above yonder Alps, not with the fire of the descending sun.  No! with slaughter’s flames, the mothers with their babes, here lay all in the still peace of night, and the dew bathed the grass, and there the flames were cindering the ground, bathed with heroes’ blood!

 

I stood half the night upon the tower in the Palace-garden, and observed the red glow and knew not what to think of it, and could not pray, for after all it avails them not, and a divine Destiny is greater than all misery and outweighs all sorrow. –

 

Ah! if yearning sorrow be to pray, why did not Heaven hear my fervent prayer? Why did it not send me a guide, who would have led me along the paths to yonder hills?  True, I tremble with fear and horror at all the cruelty, which one could not imagine, had it not happened, but the voice from out my heart over to them, drowns all.  The palace of the blind Tannenberg has been traitorously burnt down; - Schwatz consumed! The grey-headed, children, sacred things! – ah! what must I write to you? What, would I myself had never known, and yet the Bavarians have even boasted of this! – such things one must learn to bear with cold blood and must think, that Immortality is the eternal reward, which out-bids every fate. –

 

Just as we entered the town, the King drove through the illuminated streets, the people shouted and tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the hard nation.   I also kissed my hand to him and do not grudge his being beloved.  Adieu, continue to love your constant child, send her soon a few lines.

BETTINE.

 

TO GOETHE

 

This morning to my surprise I received your letter.  I was not at all prepared for it: the whole time I have written my sheets like a despairing lover, who gives them a prey to the tempest-wind, if it perhaps, will bear them to the friend in whom my sick heart has confidence.  So then, my good genius has not forsaken me! He sweeps through the air upon a lame post-hack, and in the morning after a night full of weeping dreams, waking, I see the blue cover upon my green table-cloth.

 

So, ye steep mountains, ye bare rocks, ye bold, vengeance-glowing marksmen, ye desolated valleys, and smoking dwellings, step modestly into the back-ground, and leave me to the absolute joy of touching the electric chain, which conducts the sparks from him to me, and countless times do I receive it, shock after shock, - this spark of delight.  A great heart, raised high above the terror of the times, inclines itself to my heart.

 

As the silver water-thread, winds downs into the vale between green-sloping meadows and blooming bushes (for it is May), and below, gathers itself together and shows me my picture in its mirror, so your friendly words bring down to me the delightful consciousness of being preserved in the sacredness of your memory, of your feelings; thus I venture to believe, because this belief gives me peace.

 

O my dear friend, while you turn away from the evil of dark times, in lonely elevation form destinies, and with sharp penetration, sway them, that they may not evade their happiness, - for surely, this beautiful book, which you are composing as a consolation to you for all that is mournful, is a treasure of delightful enjoyment, where in fine organisations, and lofty dispositions of character, you introduce moods and feelings which make blessed, where with friendly breath, you awake the flowers of happiness, and cause no bloom in the mysteriously glowing colours, that which our spirit wants – Yes, Goethe, during this time, a change has taken place within me. – You must still remember, that the region, the climate of my thoughts and perceptions were fair and bright – a happy play-place, where gay butterflies fluttered in flocks over the flowers, and where your child played among them (as thoughtless as they) and wantonly shouted with joy around you, the only Priestess of this beautiful scene, sometimes too, deeply moved, collecting within herself all the charms of happy love, poured it forth with inspiration at your feet.  Now it is otherwise with me, dark halls, which include the prophetic monuments of mighty heroes, form the centre of my heavy presentiments; the soft moon-beam, the golden birch’s scent, do not penetrate there, but dreams which tear my heart, which burn within my head, so that all my veins throb.  I lie upon the ground in a deserted spot, and am compelled to call out the names of those heroes, whose dreadful fate wounds me, I see their heads, adorned with victory’s laurels, proud and mighty, rolling from beneath the axe, down upon the scaffold.  My God, my God! How load a cry of despair passes through me at these imaginative dreams.

 

Why must I despond, since nothing is yet lost?  I have fever, my head burns so.  Upon the tun-formed top of the Kofel, Speckbacher’s airy, who sleepless, not needing food, winged with better hope, light as a bird, keeps hovering over the moment, when it shall be time.  Upon the Brenners, where Hofer’s unchangeable equanimity sways the fates, and arranges death’s victims to truth.  On Mount Ischel where the Capuchin monk, the white wand in his hand, divining and counteracting all, advancing daringly before all, at the head of the country people, conscious of victory, chaces the foes over the corn –seed down into the valley.  Amongst these too I see myself, waving the short green and white standard, far in advance upon the steepest pinnacle, and victory glows in every limb, and then comes the evil dream and with irresistible axe hews off my left hand, which falls, with the banner down into the abyss, and then all is to waste and still, and darkness breaks in and everything is vanished, only I alone upon the rock without banner, without hand: forgive me that I rave, but so it is.

 

My last dream this morning! There came to me upon the battle-field, one of gentle mien, of stedfast bearing (as if it were Hofer), standing amidst the dead, he said to me, “They all died with great joy.”  At the same moment I awoke in tears, there lay your letter upon my bed.

 

O! unite with me, to remember those, who feel there without name, childish hearts without guile, merrily adorned as if to a wedding, with golden flowers, their caps set with nodding feathers of the heath-cock, and chamois-beards, the sign of daring marksmen.  Yes, remember them; it is the poet’s glory to insure immortality to heroes.

 

June 6th

 

Yesterday as I wrote to you, the sun was setting; but I went forth to where one can see the Alps, what else should I do?  It is my daily walk, there I often meet one who also gazes towards the Tyrolean Alps.  In that late evening, (I believe it was in the midst of May) when Schwatz was burned, he was with me upon the tower; he could not at all contain himself, he wrung his hands and in low tones lamented thus, “O Schwatz! O beloved fatherland!”  Yesterday he was again there, and with overflowing joy, poured forth the whole treasure of his news before me.  If it be true, the Tyrolese, during the festival of the Sacred Heart, (the date he did not know) overpowered the foe and freed all Tyrol for the second time, I cannot relate all that he told me, you would understand it as little as I did:  Speckbacher’s ingenuity, with a battery of trunks of trees, as if they had been cannons, and imitating the report with musket-barrels, bound together, deceived the enemy; thereupon immediately stormed the bridge near Hall three different times, and drove back the enemy with all their artillery; the children close at his heels, where the dust eddied up, cut the cannon balls out with their knives and brought them to the marksmen.  The chief victory was on mount Isel – the Capuchin had his beard burnt off.  The heroes of note are all complete in number.  They have a letter from the Emperor’s own hand, with great promises from out the fulness of his heart.

 

Even if it be not all true, my Tyrolese is yet of opinion that it was a day of joy for his Fatherland, which is worth every sacrifice.

 

I have no poem of the Prince-Royal’s; a single one, which he composed the day before his departure for the war, upon “Home and the loved one,” the old faithful Pantaloon shewed me; he will not copy it upon any condition.  A young Muse of the histrionic art possesses several of them; old Bopp at my request made inquiries of her; she searched amongst the Theatrical rags and could not find them, else, said she, they were at my service, the Prince Royal would write some more for her.

 

Gold and pearls I have none; the only treasure, upon which alone I most certainly should seize in case of fire, are your letters, your beautiful songs, which you wrote for me with your own hand: they are preserved in the red-velvet bag, which lies at night under my pillow, in it is also the bunch of violets, which at a party at Wieland’s you so secretly gave me, when your look, hovered round like a hawk above all, that non dared to look up.  The young Muse gives up finding (amongst the wilderness of false ornaments and spangled dresses) again, the offering which the Prince-Royal strung in poet’s pearls, laid at her feet, and yet they were composed amid the magic breathing of moon-light nights, by the song of the nightingale, strung together syllable for syllable, tone for tone.  Who does not love them syllable for syllable, does not yield himself prisoner to these toils, knows too nothing of heavenly powers, how tenderly they kiss from rhime to rhime.

 

Your mother I will not forget, and should I sink in the midst of war’s tumult, I should most surely in my last moments kiss the earth in memorial of her.  The remarkable things which I have yet to relate to you are written down; in the next letter you will find them; this is already too bulky, and I am ashamed that I have nothing of importance to write to you and yet cannot break off – chattering! do I not know how it was at Weimar; there I said nothing clever either, and yet you willingly listened to me.

 

Of Stadion I know nothing at all; here I must make short work, and brook it with patience, who knows if ever I shall see him again.

 

Jacobi is tender as a Psyche, waked too early: touching! were it possible, one might learn something of him, but impossibility is a peculiar demon, which cunningly, knows how to baffle all to which one feels oneself entitled: thus I always think, when I see Jacobi surrounded by literati and philosophers, it would be better for him to be alone with me.  I am persuaded, my unaffected questions, in order to learn of him, would cause more life-warmth within him, than all those who conceive it necessary to be something in his presence.  Communication is his highest enjoyment: he appeals in all to his springtime; each full-blown rose reminds him forcibly of those which once bloomed for his enjoyment; as he softly wanders through the groves, he relates, how once friends twined their arms in his amid delightful converse, which lasted till late in the warm summer-night: and he still remembers something of each tree of Pempelfort, of the arbour  by the water, upon which the swans circled, on which side the moon broke through upon the neat flints, where the wagtails strutted: all this comes forth from him, like the tone of a solitary flute: it shews that the spirit still abides here, but in its peaceful melodies, the yearning after the Infinite is expressed.  His remarkably noble figure is fragile, it is as if the case could easily be destroyed, to set the spirit at liberty.  Lately I drove with him, his two sisters and Count Westenhold, to the Staremberger lake.  We took dinner in a pleasant garden, all was sown over with flowers and blooming plants, and as I could not assist in amusing the learned company, I gathered as many of them as my straw-hat would carry.  In the boat, in which at approaching evening we were obliged to sail a good four miles to reach the bank on the other side, I made a garland.  The setting sun reddened the white points of the Alpine chain, and Jacobi found pleasure in it; he displayed all the graces of his youth.  You yourself once related to me, that as a student he was not a little vain of his handsome leg, and that at Leipsic having gone with you into a cloth-shop, he laid his leg upon the counter, and tried the patterns of trowsers upon it, only for the purpose of shewing his leg to the very polite shop-woman; - in his humour he appeared to me to be.  He had carelessly stretched out his leg, considered it with satisfaction, smoothed it with his hand, then whispering a few words about the delightful evening, he bent himself down to me, (for I sat at the bottom with my lap full of flowers, from which I picked out the best for my garland) and thus we conversed in monosyllables, but elegantly and with enjoyment in gestures and words, and I knew how to make him comprehend that I think him amiable, when all at once Aunt Lehne’s precautious malicious care played the coquetry of our feelings a mischievous trick: I am ashamed even now when I think of it: she drew a white long knitted, woollen double cap from her apron-pocket, pushed one end into the other and pulled it far over Jacobi’s ears, because the evening air began to get raw, this was just at the moment that I said to him: “to day I understand well, that you are handsome,” and he to thank me, placed the rose I had given him in his bosom.  Jacobi struggled against the night-cap, Aunt Lehne carried the day, I could not look up again, I was so ashamed. – You are quite a coquette, said Count Westerhold, I braided my wreath in silence, but as Aunts Lehne and Lotte with one accord gave me good advice, I jumped suddenly up and made such a trampling, that the boat rocked violently: “for God’s sake we shall be overturned,” they all cried.  “Yes, that you shall,” cried I, “if you speak one word more about what you don’t understand.”  I went on rocking, “be quiet, I am getting giddy.”  Westerhold wanted to take hold of me, but I rocked so, that he dared not stir from his place: the boatman laughed and helped rock: I had placed myself before Jacobi, that I might not see him in the abominable cap: now that I had them all in my power, I turned to him, took the cap by the tassel, and slung it far away into the waves.  “There,” said I, “the wind has blown away the cap,” I pressed my wreath on his head, which really became him: Lehne would not suffer it, - the fresh leaves might injure him.  “Oh let me have it,” said Jacobi, mildly: I laid my hand over the wreath; “Jacobi,” said I, “your fine features glance in the broken light of these beautiful leaves, like those of the glorified Plato.  “You are beautiful, and there needs only a wreath (which you so well deserve,) to represent you as worthy immortality.”  I was angered into inspiration and Jacobi was delighted: I seated myself near him on the ground, and held his hand which he let me take; no one said anything, they all turned away to observe the view, and spoke among themselves, then I stole a smile at him.  When we came to shore, I took off the wreath, and reached him his hat. – This is my little love-story of that beautiful day, without which the day would not have been beautiful; now the wreath hangs faded on my mirror; since that I have not called there, for I am afraid of Helen (Lehne), who was quite dumb with offended dignity, and did not say Adieu to me.  Thus then Jacobi may remember me kindly, if I should not see him again; this parting can leave no unpleasant impression on his memory, and for me it is just the thing, for I would not wish to possess sufficient art, to elude the many snares and mischievous constructions, which in all probability may now be at work.  Adieu, now I have answered every article of your dear letter, and poured forth my whole heart before you.  Assurances of my love I do not give you any more, they are sufficiently attested in each thought, in the need I have to refer all to your heart.

 

7th June

BETTINE.

 

TO GOETHE

June 16th

God grant me the single wish, to see you once more and not delay it too long. I am just made aware, that some one of my acquaintance is going to Weimar.  This blows the ashes from the embers; from here I can see the Tyrolean mountains, this detains me; - nothing else.  I suffer every day martyrdom, not to know what is taking place yonder.  I should appear to myself like a cowardly friend, if I could withdraw myself from the influence, which the neighbourhood of the hard-pressed land has upon me: in truth, when at evening I see from my snail-shell tower the sun setting yonder, I must always go with it.

 

We have had for weeks bad weather.  Fog and clouds, wind and rain, and painful intelligence is in the mean time brightened by thoughts of you as by a sun-beam.  For nearly four weeks I have not written, but I have the whole time devoted myself to you with thought, word, and deed, and now I will directly explain it to you.  There is in the Gallery here, a picture of Albrecht Dürer, in his 28th year, painted by himself; it has the most graceful features of a countenance, earnest, capable, full of wisdom; from out the mien speaks a spirit, which tramples on the present miserable world-faces.  When I saw you for the first time it struck me, and immediately moved me to internal reverence, to decided love, that in your countenance was expressed, what David says of men, “each may be King over himself.”  Thus I am of opinion, that the nature of the inward man obtains the upper hand of uncertainty, of the accidents of the outward man: herefrom springs that noble harmony, that bearing, which as much surpasses beauty, as it bids defiance to ugliness.  So did you appear to me, the spiritual appearance of immortality, which becomes master over earthly change.  Now, although Dürer’s countenance is quite of another sort, yet the language of his character powerfully reminded me of yours; I have got it copied.  I have had the picture the whole winter through in my chamber and was not alone.  I have turned much in thought to this man, have felt both sorrow and comfort from him: now it was mournful for me to feel, how much, upon which one prides oneself, founders before such a one whose will was his law.  Then again I fled to this picture, as to a household God.  When the living were tedious to me, and to say the truth, my heart was at my times so deeply touched by the pure piercing look, which beams from out his noble eye, that he was more in intercourse with me than the living.  Now this picture, properly speaking, I had copied for you; I intended to send it to you as an adviser of my heart’s affairs, and thus week after week passed, always with the firm resolution to send it off the next, without ever being able to bring myself to part with it.  My dear Goethe, I have as yet seen but little in the world, works of art as well as other matters, which could heartily interest me.  Thus my childish manner may well be excused.  The picture I can now no more renounce, even as one can no more renounce a friend, but to you, my best beloved of all, I will send it.  Yet, whatever fate may ordain, it shall not fall into other hands, and should chance part it from you, it must return again into my hands.  All along I hoped to be able to bring it myself, nevertheless there is no probability of it at the present moment; did I not stedfastly hope for the future, I should despair of seeing you soon again: but that after one future, there always comes another, - this has made, many a man old.  You are dear to me above all, in the past as in the future, the spring which your presence has created within me, continues; for two years have already past, and as yet no storm has divided a leaf from the bough, the rain has not yet disturbed a blossom, every evening they still breathe forth the sweet balm of remembrance: yes! in truth, no evening has yet brought the hour of slumber, that I have not called on your name, and thought of the time, when you kissed me on the lips, took me in your arms; and I will stedfastly hope, that the time may return.  Since I prefer nothing in the world to you, I believe the same of you.  Do you be as old and prudent as I, let me be as young and wise as you, and thus we might conveniently reach one another the hand, and be like the two disciples, who followed two different prophets in one teacher.

 

Write to me, how you think I may send the picture without danger – but – soon.  If you can offer me no opportunity, I will find one myself.  Love no one more than me.  You Goethe would be very unjust, if you were to prefer others to me, since nature has so masterly, so excellently interwoven my feelings in you, that you must taste the salt of your own spirit in me.

 

If no war, no storm, and expecially no desolating news, disturbed all-forming quiet in the breast, then a light wind, which breathes through the grass-blades, the mist, as it separates itself from the earth, the moon-sickle, as it moves over the hills, or any other lonely survey of Nature, could cause deep thoughts in one; but now in this stirring time, when all the ground-works fall into one cracking and disease, it will grant no time for thought; but that in which a friend has taken part: that one has leaned upon his arm, has rested on his shoulder; this alone, burns each line of circumstance deeply into the heart: thus I still know each tree by which we passed in the park, and how you bent down the boughs of the sugar-plantain, and shewed me the ruddy down, beneath the young leaves, and said that youth was also downy, and then the round green spring, for ever murmuring, bul-bul (and you said, it called to the nightingale,) and the arbour with the stone bench, where a sphere is lying on the wall; there we sat down a moment, and you said, “come nearer, that the sphere may not lie in the shade, for it is a sun-dial and I was for a moment so stupid as to believe, the sun-dial might get out of repair, if the sun did not shine upon it: and then I wished to pass only one spring with you; you laughed at me, and I asked, whether it were too long, “O no,” said you, “but the fun,” this was the Duke, who was coming directly upon us; I wanted to hide myself; you threw your great coat over me, I saw through the long sleeve, how the Duke always kept approaching: I saw by his face that he remarked something; he stopped by the arbour, what he said I did not understand, in such anxiety was I, under your great coat, so did my heart throb.  You held up your finger to him, that I saw through the coat sleeve, the Duke laughed and stood still; he took up little sandstones and threw them at me, and then went on.  Afterwards, we chatted a long time together, what was it? not much wisdom, for you compared me at that time to the sagacious Grecian woman, who instructed Socrates about love, and you said, “not a single talented word do you produce,  but your folly instructs better than her wisdom” – and why were we both so deeply moved then? – that you demanded of me in simple words, “Love me for ever,” and I said, “Yes!”  And some time afterwards, you took a spider-web from the trellis of the arbour, and hung it upon my face, and said, “remain veiled before everyone, and shew to none what you are to me.” – Ah Goethe, I gave you no oath of constancy with my lips, which were then convulsed from violent emotion and could utter no words; I do not at all remember that, with self-consciousness I promised you constancy, all within me is mightier than I myself; I cannot rule, I cannot will, I must let all happen as it may.  Two single hours were so full of Eternity! At that time I only desired a single Spring, and now I seem as if I could hardly consume it, in the whole course of my life long: and even now my heart throbs so with unquiet, when I think myself in the midst of that Spring.  I am at the end of my page, and if it were not kindled too, too much for you, I should like to begin a new one, that I might still chatter on: I am lying here on the sofa and writing the letter on a cushion, on that account it is so uneven.  That they should disappear, when I wish to speak with you, - these thoughts which so uncalled, dance up and down before me, of which Schelling says, they are unconscious philosophy!

 

Fare well! as the seed-down borne by the wind, dances upon the waves, so does my fancy play upon this mighty stream of your entire being and fears not to sink in it – would that it might! what a blissful death!

 

Written on the 16th June, at Munich, on a day of rain, when between sleeping and waking the soul accommodated itself to wind and weather.

BETTINE

 

Continue to love her, write to her soon and greet your friends.

 

TO BETTINE

 

In two of your letters, dear Bettine, you have poured over me a rich horn of plenty, I am compelled to laugh with you and weep with you, and can never be sated with enjoyment.  So let it suffice you then, that distance does not diminish your influence, since with irresistible power you subject me to the manifold workings of your feelings, and that I must dream with you your evil as well as your good dreams.  Above that which with right moves you now so deeply, you alone understand how to raise yourself again; upon this, one is silent as one ought to be, and feels oneself blessed, to be befriended by you, and to have part in your constancy and kindness; since one must learn to love you, even if you would not.

 

You appear besides to exercise your amiable despotic power upon different satellites, who all dance around you, with chosen planet. The humorous friend, who with you reconnoitred the surrounding country, seems only to be overcome by sleep through the atmosphere of the hot days of June, while dreaming, he reconnoitres the graceful image of your little person, and it would not certainly occur to him, that you in the mean time are fain to transport him, to where your heroical spirit itself abides.

 

What you relate to me of Jacobi, has much delighted me, his youthful peculiarities are there most perfectly reflected: it is now a considerable time, since I have had personal communion with him: the pretty description of your adventures with him upon the voyage, which your petulance produced, have recalled to me similar auspicious days of our own former intercourse.  You are to be praised, that you want no authorising power, to do homage to that which is worthy of respect, without prejudice.  Thus is Jacobi most surely, among all the striving and philosophising spirits of the time, the one, who has least come into opposition with his perceptions and his original nature, and thus preserved uninjured his moral feeling, to which we can not refuse our respect as a predicate of loftier genius.  If you would in your oft-tried graceful manner, give him to understand, how we agree in the real reverence, which you conceal under your pretty fairy tricks, it would be done quite according to my feelings.

 

Your zeal to procure me the desired poems, deserves acknowledgement, although I must believe, that it is as much to come closer upon the track of your Generalissimo’s sentiments as to fulfil my wishes; in the mean time let us believe the best of him till we hear more: and since you so decidedly exalt the Divinity of the creative poetical power, I do not hold it unfit, to have previously selected for you, the following little poem, from out a series, which at auspicious moments is gradually increasing: if hereafter it should meet your eye, acknowledge in it, that while you believe it necessary to renew my memory of the delightful past, I in the mean time endeavour to erect to the sweetest remembrance, in these insufficient rhimes a memorial, whose most proper destination it is, to awaken in all hearts the echo of so sweet an affection.

 

To your delightful habit of writing and loving from day to day remain constant.

 

Jena, July 7th 1809

 

               

                                                                                                                                G.

 

   How I inmost like, O song,

To perceive thy hidden sense;

Charmingly thou seem’st to say,

That I ever am with him.

 

   That he ever thinks of me,

With his love-delightful bliss

Ev’r in distance overpours

Her, who vow’d a life to him.

 

   Yes! my heart, it is the mirror,

Friend, where thou thyself hast seen,

In this bosom, where thy kisses

Seal on seal have printed in.

 

   Sweetest fiction, simple truth,

Chains me fast in sympathy’s

Love-imbodied purity,

In the garb of poetry*).

 

*) Divan, book of Suleika

 

TO GOETHE

 

No tree’s fresh verdure cools so much, no fountain so quenches the thirst, sunlight and moonlight and thousands of stars do not so light darkness, as you light my heart.  Ah, to be one moment near you, has so much eternity in itself, that such a moment dallies as it were with eternity, taking it prisoner (only in play) lets it loose again, again to capture it, and what joy should I not meet in eternity, since your eternal spirit, your eternal kindness, receives me into their glory?

 

Written on the day I received your last letter.

 

The poem belongs to the world, not to me, for should I call it mine, it would consume my heart.

 

I am timid in love, I doubt you each moment, else I should already have been with you; I cannot conceive (because it is too great) that I am of sufficient worth to you, to dare to be with you.

 

Because I know you, I fear death; the Grecians would not die without having seen Jupiter Olympius, how much less can I be willing to leave this fair world, since it has been prophesied me from your lips, that you will yet receive me with open arms.

 

Allow me – yea, demand it, that I breathe the same air with you, that I daily see you before my eyes, that I search out that look which banishes from me the God of Death.

 

Goethe! you are all: you give again what the world, what the sad times steal: since you can with tranquil look so richly give, why should not I with confidence desire?  This whole time I have not been in the open air; the mountain-chain, the only view which one has from here, was often red with the flames of war, and I have not dared any more to turn my look there, where the Devil is strangling a lamb, where the only liberty of an independent people inflames itself and consumes within itself.  These men who with cold blood and in security stride over tremendous chasms, who do not know giddiness, make all others, who from their heights look down upon them, giddy: they are a people, who take no care for the morrow, in whose hands, God, exactly at the hour of hunger places food, who like the eagles, rest upon the loftiest rock-pinnacles above the mist and even so throne themselves above the mists of time; who rather sink in light than seek an uncertain being in darkness.  O! Enthusiasm of our own free will!  how great art thou, for thou concentratest into one moment all the enjoyment, which is spread over a whole life; thence for such a moment may life well be ventured:- but my own will is to see you again; and all the enthusiasm of love will one such moment embrace within itself, and therefore beyond this I desire nothing more.

 

Of the Kuffsteiner siege I should like to tell you much, which would surely give the Dux*) much pleasure, and which deserves too to be immortalized: but so much is a sincere interest in genuine heroism abused by treason of all kinds, that one rather turns a deaf ear, than have one’s heart made heavy with lies.  – About the good, which the Bavarians let pass for true, there is no doubt, for if they could, they would certainly deny the success of their enemies. – Speckbacher is a unique hero; wit, spirit, cold, blood, severe earnest, unlimited goodness, transparent, wantless nature: danger is to him like the rising of the sun; then it becomes day to him, then he sees clearly what is to be done – and does all, while he masters his enthusiasm; he thinks at once of his honour and his responsibility, he fulfils everything through himself alone, the orders of the commanders and his own well laid plans and also that which the moment demands; under the fire of the fortress cannons, he lays waste the mills, makes booty of the corn and extinguishes the grenades with his hat: no dangerous plan does he leave to another, the little town of Kuffstein, he himself set on fire in the midst of the enemy: a bridge of boats of the Bavarians he set afloat.  In a stormy night, he remained up to his breast in water, with two comrades, till morning, when he set the last boards afloat under a shower of bullets.  Artifice is his divinest quality; he takes off the wild beard, which covers half his face, changes his clothes and bearing, and so demands to speak with the commanders of the fortress, he is let in, he tells them some tale about treachery, and in the mean time comes at all that he wants to know; in this great danger with two other comrades, he is not a moment at a loss, he allows himself to be examined and searched, drinks with them, and at last accompanied by the commander to the little gate where they entered, he takes hearty leave.

 

But all these fatigues and sacrifices are brought to nothing by the treachery of Austria, which is just as if she could not endure success, and feared at some time to be obliged to answer for this victory to her great enemy, and so it will happen too, she will sue for pardon to the great Napoleon, that they shew him the honour of opposing to him an heroic people: I break off, I am too well assured, that upon earth every thing great is badly repaid.

 

Three weeks ago, a picture (a copy of Albrecht Durer’s self painted portrait) was sent to you: I was just then upon a journey of a few days, and therefore do not know whether it was well packed, nor whether the opportunity by which it went was a good one, it must according to the time soon come to hand, write to me about it: the picture is very dear to me, and therefore must I give it you, because I would fain give you myself too.

 

Even in the cold Bavaria is everything gradually ripening, the corn is already yellow, and if time breaks off no roses here, the storm does, and faded leaves enough are already flying upon the wet sandy soil; when then shall a kind sun ripen the fruits of my life tree, that I may harvest kiss on kiss.

 

One path I go every day; each shrub, each blade is known to me, yes, the very stones upon the gravel path I have already studied.  This path does not lead to you, and yet it daily becomes dearer to me: if any path were but accustomed to lead me to you, how would flowers and weeds then become friends with me, and my heart continually throb till your threshold, and all the charms of love would hallow each step of the path.

 

Of the prince Royal I know some good, he has dined with the prisoners, who were severely treated and left to starve.  The potatoes were counted out, and he took his just portion with them: since this they are better served and he keeps a sharp eye upon the matter.  This I have heard from his faithful Bopp, who accompanied the detailed account with some tears of joy.  His coolness in the midst of danger, his endurance of all fatigues and burdens, will be heard off far and wide, and he is always therewith thoughtful to avoid all useless cruelty: this was to be expected from him; but that he has not disgraced this expectation, for this may he be praised and blessed.

 

The enclosed copper-plate by Heinze you will recognize; I received it from Sömmering, and at the same time the commission to get your opinion of it, he himself finds it like, but not in the noblest features; I say it has a great resemblance to a goat, and this might be easily justified.

 

Tiek is still lying a patient upon his little sofa, a circle of fashionable and beautiful ladies surrounds his couch, this suits too well and pleases him too much, for him ever to move from the spot.

 

Jacobi is very tolerable; though Aunt Lehne says, that his head is good for nothing, as it begins to ache, as soon he begins to write anything philosophical: but if his head be good for nothing, yet his heart was set in lively motion, as I read to him what you had written for him; I was obliged to copy it for him; he says, since he has with you no such friendly mediation as you with him, he must himself thank you in writing: in the mean time he sends the accompanying essay upon reason and common sense.

 

*) The Duke of Weimar

BETTINE

 

Cologne*), where I was so happy a year ago: the humours Rumohr has scribbled it down; he has such social intercourse with ennui here, and mourns with hearty sincerity the time, which we spent together on the Rhine.

 

Here the wind already wisks many a yellow leaf from the boughs and cold rain-drops into my face, when at an early hour, (at which time no human being treads the paths) I wander through the damp alleys of the English garden; for the long shadows of the earliest morning are better companions for me, than all that I meet with throughout the whole day.

 

Every morning I pay my old Winter a visit; in fine weather he breakfasts in the garden-arbour with his wife; then I must always settle the dispute between them about the cream upon the milk.  Then he ascends his dove-cot, big as he is, he must stoop to the ground, a hundred pigeons flutter about him, alight upon his head; breast, body and legs: tenderly he squints at them, and for very friendliness he cannot whistle, so he begs me: “O pray whistle,” then hundreds more come tumbling in from without, with whistling wings, cooing and fluttering about him; then he is happy and would like to compose music, which should sound exactly so.  As Winter is a real Colossus, he forms a tolerable picture of the Nile, round which a little race crawls, and I cowering near him like the Sphinx, a great basket full of vetches and peas upon my head.  Then Marcello’s psalms are sung, music which at this moment harmonizes with my feelings; its character is firm and commanding, one cannot exalt it by expression, it does not allow of management, one may be happy to have the strength, which the spirit of this music demands.  One feels oneself employed as the organ of a higher power, expressing figure and tone, encircled and existing by harmony.  Such is this artful, powerful language of ideal perceptions, that the singer is only the instrument, but feeling and enjoying it, and then the Recitative! This ideal of asthetical sublimity, where all, be it pain or joy, becomes a raging element of voluptuousness.

 

How long it is since we have said anything about music, there upon the Rhine, it was as if I must untie for you the gordian knot, and yet I felt my insufficiency:  I knew nothing of music, as one knows nothing of the beloved one, but to be in love with him.  And now I am thoroughly hemmed in:  I would express all, but to think in words what I think in feeling, that is difficult – yes, would you believe it – thoughts give me pain, and so timid am I, that I elude them, and all that passes in the world, the fate of man and its tragical solution, makes a musical impression upon me. The events in the Tyrol take me up, like the full stream of universal harmony.  To join with them is exactly as in my infant years, when I heard the symphonies in your neighbour’s garden, and felt that to find rest, I must join in the harmony; and then all that is desolating in those heroical events is as animating as inspiring, as the strife and bearings of the different modulations, which all, even in their capricious tendencies, involuntarily borne by a common feeling, close and concentrate themselves the more in their own completion.  Thus do I conceive the symphony, thus these heroic combats seem to me also symphonies of the divine spirit, become tones of a heavenly freedom within the bosom of man.  The joyful dying of these heroes is like the eternal sacrificing of tones to a lofty common end, which with divine powers conquers itself; thus too every great action seems to me a musical existence: thus the musical tendency of the human race may gather itself as an orchestra and fight such symphonies of combats, when the enjoying and sympathizing world, new created, freed from pettiness, becomes aware of a loftier organisation in itself.

 

I am tired of thought and sleepy: when I take the pains to follow out an idea, I become anxious, yes I could wring my hands with anxiety over one thought, which I cannot comprehend.  I would fain with one expression give over matters to you, to which I do not reach, and then all knowledge vanishes from before me, slowly as the setting sun; I know that it streams forth its light, but it lights me no more.

 

Thought is Religion, at first a fire-worship; we shall hereafter go further, when we shall unite with the original divine spirit, which became man and suffered, only to infuse itself into our thought; thus do I explain Christianity to myself as a symbol of a loftier power of thought, as all that is sensual is to me a symbol of the spirited.

 

Now, though the spirits mock at me and will not let themselves be caught, yet it keeps me fresh and active, and they have strewed my way like a chosen knight of the round table, with many an adventure upon jolting roads; I have become acquainted with the withered spirits of the time, with monsters of various kinds, and strangely have these possessed ones drawn me into their dreamy fate.  But seen have I not, as with thee, where from a holy lyre the fresh green glanced towards me, and heard have I not, as with thee, to whom the path sounds silvery beneath thy feet, as one who wanders along the paths of Apollo.  Then with closed eyes I think how I was used smiling to exchange with you the heart’s meanings, perceiving my own spirit in my soul.  Your mother often talked to me of the past time, then I would not listen to her, and bid her be silent, because just then I imagined myself in your presence.

 

Francis Bader, who is gone to his glass-manufactory in Bohemia gave me at his departure the enclosed treatises for you and begged me at the same time, to assure you of his most profound respect, therewith he told me much of his past life, how, for instance in Scotland he made some dangerous voyages in a rickety boat, with your Egmont, tossed about upon the sea amidst reefs and sand banks; how he was obliged to fight with the seals, how night and tempest blew out all his life-spirits, and he in the midst of danger only sought to save your books.  Behold! thus does your spirit move upon all paths, on land as well as on water, and goes from the fountain along with the stream to where it pours itself forth, and thus move together with it the yet strange shores, and the blue distance sinks inclining at thy approach, and the forests gaze after thee, and the gilding sun adorns the mountain heights to greet thee; but in the moon-glance thy memory is celebrated by the silver-poplar and the pine on the way, which have heard the pure voice of thy youth.

 

Yesterday I received your picture, a little medal of gypsum from Berlin; it is resembling, what is that to me, I must long after you.

 

Another Egyptian monster has fallen in my way, here upon the damp soil of Bavaria, and I do not wonder, that its dry sandy nature should rot here, it is Klotz: he the persecuted and tormented of the spirits of colour, at last submitting to their power, finishes his work of twenty-five years.  I call him Egyptian, because in the first place his countenance worked as it were out of glowing rosin, at the same time represents a tremendous pyramid, and secondly, because in twenty-five years with the most extraordinary efforts he has not worked himself a foot forward.  I have out of Christian charity (and at the same time to do justice to you, who according to Klotz need excuse) heard his whole manuscript through.  Now certainly I cannot boast much of what I learned from him, I was netted round with riddles, which by his discourse, became only the more entangled, and he was anxiously careful, that I should not snap up one of his secrets to convey it to you, he would like to speak with you upon the subject himself; he complained the most of your having given him no answer to an humble and sincere letter, but he was comforted by my telling him, that for a begging and loving letter I had also not received an answer, and there was an end of it. – I cannot make the poor man conceive that he has mixed the pearls with the bran, and that probably both together will be eaten up by the pigs.  You could however certainly do some good here, if you would engage yourself with him in his discoveries.  The enclosed tablet I have coaxed out of him for you, it pleases me so well, that I consider it a beautiful picture.

 

Now I have a small question, but it is important to me, for it is to obtain me an answer: have you received Albrecht Dürer’s picture, which went from here now six weeks ago? If not, I beg you will let inquiries be made among the carriers at Weimar.

 

There is a saying here among the people, that there will soon be an apparition, which will be called “Elective Affinities,” and to proceed from you in form of a novel.  I once went a bitter long journey of ten miles to a bitter-spring: it lay so lonely between rocks, the mid-day could not come down to it, the sun broke its crown of rays in a thousand beams on the stones’ old dry oaks and elms stood around like heroes of death, and the abysses which one saw there were not the abysses of wisdom, but dark, black night; I could not feel comfortable that heavenly nature should have such humours, my breath became thick, and I buried my face in the grass.  But if I knew these “Elective Affinities” to be yonder at the spring, I would willingly traverse once again the dreadful, dismal way, and that too with light step and light heart, for in the first place to go to meet the beloved, wings the step; and secondly, to return home with the beloved is the essence of all bliss.

 

*) In this letter was a humorous design of Cologne, by Rumohr, a celebrated connaisseur of art.

 

September 9th 1809

BETTINE

 

TO BETTINE

 

Your brother Clement, dear Bettine, had in a friendly visit given me notice of Albrecht Dürer, as it was also mentioned in one of your former letters.  And now I hoped for it every day, because I thought to find much pleasure in his excellent work, and if I would not have appropriated it, I would yet willingly have taken it into keeping till you had come to fetch it.  Now I must beg you, if we are not to consider it as lost, to make close enquiries concerning the means by which it went, to find it out amongst the different senders, for from your letter of to-day, I see that it has been given over to carriers.  Should it in the mean time arrive, you will receive the account immediately.

 

The friend who sketched the Vignette of Cologne, knows what he is about, and understands doing business with pen and brush, the little picture greeted me with a friendly good evening.

 

You will give my best thanks to Francis Bader for his enclosure.  Several of the treatises had already come singly to hand.  Whether I understand them, I hardly know myself, but much that is contained in them I could call my own.  That you have excused my impoliteness to Klotz the painter through a still greater one, which you have pardoned me, is highly praiseworthy, and has without doubt served as particular edification to the good man. The tablet has arrived in good preservation: as pleasant as the impression is, which it makes upon the eye, even so difficult is it to form a judgement upon it; if you therefore can move him, to lend the key to this colour-enigma, I could perhaps by an intelligible and well founded answer, make good my former neglect.

 

How much should I not have to say, if I should turn back to your last dear letter.  At present only this from me, that I am at Jena, and with nothing but “affinities,” do not well know, which I shall select.

 

When the little volume of which you are apprized comes into your hands, receive it kindly.  I myself cannot answer for what it is.

 

From his own hand.

 

Do not take it amiss, that I write by a strange hand; mine was tired, and yet I would not leave thee without news about the picture, try to come upon its track, continue to think of me and to relate to me something of thy strange life; thy letters are read repeatedly with much delight: whatever the pen could answer, it would still be far removed from that direct impression, to which one so willingly resigns oneself, were it even illusion; for who is able in waking sense to believe in the riches of thy love, which one does best to receive as a dream.  What you beforehand say of the “Elective Affinities” is a prophetic view, for alas! yonder the sun is setting darkly enough.  Pray try to come upon Albrecht Dürer’s track.

 

Jena, September 11th 1809

GOETHE

 

To day I once more beg pardon, dear Bettine, as I should often before have done, I have given you unnecessary trouble about the picture, it is really arrived at Weimar, and only through chance and negligence together it was, that the news did not reach me.  It shall then at my return kindly receive me in your name, and become a good winter companion to me, and abide with me till you come to me to fetch it.  Let me soon know of you again.  The Duke sends you his best greetings, this time I was again obliged to impart to him some of the news from out your beautiful fruit-garland.  He inclines to you with peculiar affection, and particularly with reference to the scenes of war, he takes full part in your enthusiastic views of it and about it, but expects only a tragical end.

 

Augustus comes in the beginning of October from Heidelberg, where every thing has gone well with him.  He has also made a journey up the Rhine as far as Coblenz.  Live in memory of me.

 

Jena, September 15th 1809

G.

 

September 26th

 

Like a sparrow did your letter of the 11th September come flying on to my desk: true, you have added at the end a bull-finch’s song, of particular interest, but I don’t let myself be imposed upon, it was an imitation of the old barrel-organ.  If you loved me, it would be impossible for you to allow your secretary to rattle me off a letter like a pater noster: he is a Philistine so to write and makes one of you also; I cannot at all imagine either, how you manage with him; do you dictate to him the contents of your letter, or do you give him your thoughts in a lump, so that he can afterwards set them out in a row one after another.

 

In love you are with the heroine of your new novel, and this makes you so retiring and cold to me – God knows what model has served you here for an ideal; ah! you have a unique taste in women; Werther’s Charlotte never edified me; had I then been at hand, Werther would never have shot himself and Charlotte should have been piqued that I could console him so well.

 

I feel the same in William Meister; there all the women are disgusting to me, I could “drive them all out of the temple,” and I had built too upon it, that you have loved me as soon as you knew me, because I am better and more amiable then the whole female assemblage in your novels, yes, (and really this is not saying much) for you I am more amiable, if you the Poet, will not find it out, for no other am I born; am I not the bee which flies forth, bringing home to you the nectar of each flower? – and a kiss – do you think it is ripened like a cherry on the bough? no, a hovering about your spiritual nature, on onward string to your heart, a meditating upon your beauty rush together in love: and so is this kiss a deep inconceivable unison with your nature, so infinitely differing from mine.  O do not wrong me, and make to yourself a graven image to worship it, so long as the possibility is at hand of wearing a wonderful tie of the spiritual world between you and myself.

 

When I drew up my net, so voluntarily woven, so boldly cast into the territories of the undefined, I brought you the spoil, and that too which I tendered you – it was the mirror of human goodness.  Nature has also a spirit, and in each human breast this spirit perceives the higher events of happiness and unhappiness: how should man for his own sake be blessed, since bliss feels itself in everything and knows no limit.  Thus Nature feels itself blessed in the spirit of man – this is my love to you, and so does the human mind recognize this bliss – this is your love to me: Mysterious question and indispensable answer.

 

Enough! let me not have knocked in vain, receive me and fold me within your deeper consciousness.

 

Your second letter is also here, which informs me of the fortunate arrest of the vagabondizing picture: may it welcome you on your return home: it is a countenance, (though only a painted one) but amongst a thousand living ones, not one will meet you with so piercing a look: he had looked into himself, has inquired of his inmost heart, and painted it upon canvass, that it may give account of him to future ages as the worthiest among the best.

 

Of the “theatre of the world” upon the rocks yonder, is nothing to say, but that they balance well. On the 3rd of September, the birth-day of your most gracious master and friend, all Tyrol pealed with all its bells and sung a Te Deum: there is room enough for heroic deeds to be represented on all sides, which are as bold, as heaven-striving, as the crags from which they proceed; and will soon be as deeply forgotten as the deep clefts in which they bury their enemies.  Decisive particulars one does not receive: what is great is as much as possible slurred and concealed: during the last week Steger has shewn himself also a universal genius, who may consider himself as a gift of God to his countrymen.  Letters are come from your son of the Muses, the Prince Royal; they say nothing of events: he is in health and poetizes in the midst of fate’s tumult; this proves that he does not feel himself in a strange element; more I do not know; I did not get a sight of the poem; I would willingly have sent it to you as a sample, - one fears that it might move me too violently – strange! I might tattoo my whole heart, let initials and memorials be burned into it, and yet therewith it would remain as sound and fresh as a healthy working youth: thus it is when one has friends who concern themselves for one, they judge of one wrong and accordingly treat one ill; this they call “taking part,” and for this must one moreover thank them.  I have now formed for myself a pleasure apart, and have procured for myself a beautiful miniature of the young son of royalty, this I sometimes study, and pray before him in spirit, as to what shall become of him: but – but! care is taken, that trees shall not grow up to heaven, say I with you: there is no fear of world-rulers not becoming aware of their power, and masters of their own capabilities.

 

In the country round about Typhus has broken out, the marching troops have brought it with them, whole families in the country die, after a single night’s quartering: it has already swept away most of the hospital-surgeons; yesterday I took leave of a young doctor who has attached himself to me in a friendly manner; his name is Janson: he went to Augsburg to relieve there his old master, who has a wife and children; for this generous courage is necessary.  In Landshut too, where the Savignys are, death is driving his car in triumph through every street, and particularly has he snatched away several young people, distinguished in heart and mind, who had taken upon themselves the care of the sick; they were faithful family-friends of Savigny; I shall soon go there to bear my part in the evil as well as the good of the times.  Then I bid all political events farewell, what is the use of all inquiry when one is nevertheless deceived, and all excited feelings uselessly consume themselves.  Adieu, I owe you a grudge, for letting your secretary write to me.  There need be but little between us, but nothing of indifference, that destroys the volatile salt of the mind and makes love shy.  Write soon and make all good again.

 

BETTINE.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Your reproach, dearest Bettine, is not to be eluded; nothing rests, but to acknowledge the fault and to promise amendment; the more so that you are content with the small proofs of love which I can give you: neither am I able to write to you that of myself which might be the most interesting to you, while on the other hand, your dear letters bestow upon me so much that is delightful, that they may justly precede all else: they grant me a succession of holidays, whose return always delights me anew.

 

Willingly do I allow, that you are a far more amiable child than all those whom one is tempted to place as sisters by your side; and exactly on that account do I expect of you to make allowance for the superior advantages your possess.  Unite then with such fair qualities, that of always knowing on what footing you stand with me; write me all that passes in your mind; it will at all times be most heartily received: your open-hearted chat, is a genuine entertainment for me, and your confiding acquiescence outweighs all with me.  Farewell, be ever near me, and continue to refresh me.

 

Jena, October 7th

 

GOETHE

 

Landshut, October 24th

 

The kingdom of God stands in its strength at all times and in all places; this I remarked to day in a hollow oak, which stood there, in the host of wild, lofty forest-trees, mighty and great, and counting its centuries, though quite averted from the sun-shine.  Wolfstein is within three hours’ walk from here; one must climb up many steps ascending by degrees, between fir and willows, which drag their broad boughs along the sand.  Many hundreds of years ago, stood there a hunting palace of Louis the Beautiful, Duke of Bavaria, whose singular joy it was, to stroll about in fog and evening-dusk; once he had wandered away, and the darkness had led him unconsciously to a mill, the water he heard rushing and the mill wheel turning, all else was still; he called to see if any one heard him; the miller’s wife, who was very beautiful, awoke, lighted a pine-torch and came out before the door; the Duke fell directly in love with her, being able to distinguish her by the light of the flame, and went in with her and remained also till morning: but he sought out a secret path by which he might come to her again.  He did not forget her, but he did forget the March of Brandenburg, which he lost, because he regarded nothing but love alone; an alley of elms, which leads from the palace to the mill, and which he planted himself, still remains; “here one can see that the trees grow old, but not love,” said one of our party as we passed through they alley.

 

And the Duke was not wrong that he gave the March of Brandenburg for love, for the first is always still there – and stupid: but in love one wanders as in spring, for it is a rain of velvet blossom-leaves, a cool breath on a hot day, and it is beautiful even to the end.  Would you too give the March for love?  I shouldn’t like it, if you loved Brandenburg better than me.

 

October 23rd

 

The moon is shining high above the hills, the clouds drive over like herds. I have already stood awhile at the window, and looked at the chacing and driving above. Dear Goethe, good Goethe, I am alone, it has raised me out of myself, up to thee! like a new-born babe, must I nurse this love between us; beautiful butterflies balance themselves upon the flowers, which I have planted about its cradle, golden fables adorn its dreams, I joke and play with it, I try every strategem in its favour.  But you rule it without trouble, by the noble harmony of your mind – with you there is no need of tender expressions or protestations.  While I take care of each moment of the present, a power of blessing goes forth from you, which reaches beyond all sense and above all the world.

 

October 22nd

 

I like to begin to write at the top of the page, and to finish low down without leaving a place for “respects;” this reminds me, how familiar I dare be with you; I really believe, I have inherited it from my mother, for it seems to me an old habit, and as the shore is accustomed to the beating of the waves, so is my heart, to the warmer beating of the blood at your name, at all which reminds me, that you are living in this visible world.

 

Your mother related to me, that when I was new-born, you first carried me to the light, and said, “the child has brown eyes;” and then was my mother anxious, lest you should dazzle me, and now a stranger glance comes over me from you.

 

October 21st

 

One day passes after the other here and produces nothing, this I don’t like; I long again for the anxiety, which drove me out of Munich, I thirst after the tales of the Tyrol, I would rather hear lies about it than nothing: I should at least endure with them, and sorrow and pray for them.

 

The church-tower here has something strange in it; as often as a prebendary dies, one stone of the tower is white-washed, and now it is daubed white from top to bottom.

 

In the mean time one takes long walks here on fine days, with a delightful company, - which is as much refreshed by Savigny’s philanthropic nature as by his mind.  Salvoti, a young Italian, whom Savigny distinguishes highly, has beautiful eyes, but I rather look at him as he goes before me than at his face; for he wears a green cloak, to which he gives a superb set of folds; beauty gives mind to every motion: he sighs for home, and although he every day, in order to accustom himself, drinks the wines of his native land, filtered through Bavarian river-sand, yet he becomes daily paler, more slender, more interesting, and he will soon have to seek his home, in order to confess there his secret love: such strange vagaries has Nature; she is tender, but not every where the same to the same.

 

Ringseis the physician (who has dissected the intermaxillary bone very nicely for me, in order to prove to me, that Goethe is right), and many other friendly people are our companions, we search out the steepest hills and most difficult paths, we exercise ourselves against the next spring, when a journey through Switzerland and the Tyrol is intended; who knows how it will then look; then will the poor Tyrolese have learned already to sigh.

 

Last night I dreamt of you, what more delightful could happen to me?  You were serious and much busied, and said I must not disturb you; this made me sad, then you pressed my hand very kindly on my heart and said: “Only be quiet, I know you and understand all;” then I awoke: your ring which in sleep I had pressed hard, was imprinted upon my bosom, I set it again into the print and pressed it still more strongly because I could not clasp you in myself.  Is a dream then nothing? – to me it is every thing: I will willingly give up the business of the day, if at night I can be and speak with you.  O! be it willingly in dreams – this my happiness – thou!

 

October 19th

 

I have here also found out a way to set up a pleasure-camp for Music, I have formed for myself a choir of from six to eight Singers; an old clergyman, Eixdorfer, (don’t forget his name, I have more to tell you of him) a famous bear-hunter, and yet bolder thorough-bass-player, is choir-master. – On rainy days, the psalms of Marcello are performed in my little chamber: I will willingly have the best copied, if you havn’t them yourself; only write me a word about it, for the music is singularly splendid, and not very easy to obtain.  The Duets of Durant are also fine; the ear must be first accustomed, before it can tame itself to their harmonious discords, a host of broken sighs and love-plaints, which break off into the air like wandering echoes; therefore it is that they are so powerful when they are well sung, that one always lets oneself faint away anew in these pains.  In the meantime a barbarous judgment upon these and upon Marcello had been formed.  I was called odd, because twice a day, morning and evening, I had only this music sung.  By degrees, as each singer learned to maintain his post, he also gained more interest. – To stride on Apollo’s high cothurns, to throw with Jupiter’s lightning, to wage battle with Mars, to break the chains of slavery, and pour forth the shout of freedom, to rage out with bacchanalian rapture, to drive the storm-advancing choirs with the shield of Minerva, to protect, to order their evolutions, these are the individual parts of this music, on which each one can bring the power of his enthusiasm to bear.  For there is no resistance to be made; the soul becomes through music a feeling body, each tone touches it; music works sensually upon the soul.  Whoever is not as much excited in playing as in composition will not produce any thing witty; besides, I see the hypocritical moral tendences all going to the Devil with their feigned trash, for the senses produce alone in art as they do alone in Nature, and you know that better than any one.

 

October 18th

 

Of Klotz’s colour-martyrdom I have yet to give you an account, there is nothing to be done with him, I have in part with tediousness, but still with interest, lent my ear to his twenty-five-year-manuscript, have worked laboriously through it, and with surprize discovered that in most prosaic madness, he has made an appendix of himself to it.  Nothing I understood better than this, “I am I;” and, examined closely, he has by frequent meditation of it, changed himself at last into three rough, filthy, earth-colours.  After having endured a real martyrdom with him, especially through his dreaded face, I could never bring myself, after the college was finished, to visit him any more; a strange fear came over me when I scented him in the streets.  In sun-light and moon-light he hastens towards me, I seek to elude him, alas! in vain; anxiety lames my limbs, and I become his prey.  Now he began to wedge his system into my soul, that I might clearly conceive the difference between Goethe’s views and his.  He invited me to hear him read in French, his “Theory of Light,” he is translating the whole in order to present it to the Institute in Paris.  Now as a Demon within me works against all which pretends to Reality, ennobles no form, abjures all that is poetic, or with the greatest indifference overbuilds and crushes it; I gave respite for some time, by my lies, parodies, and heaps of comparisons, to his life, which was about to be quite petrified. –

 

Methought, as I looked through his prism into the dark streak, and saw all that he wished me to see, that Faith was the birth and visible appearance of the mind, and a strengthening of its being; for without it, every thing hovers and gains no form, and escapes through a thousand outlets.  Thus also when I doubt and believe not, your delightful remembrance also takes flight, and leaves me nothing.

 

October 17th

 

I have a request you dare not refuse; during life one cannot collect enough of those things which sweeten the loneliness of the grave, such as bows, locks of the beloved one’s hair, etc.; my love to you is so great that I would not hurt a hair of your head, still less deprive you of one, for it belongs to you, whom my love has made its own, and I will not miss a hair of you. – Give me your book – let it be handsomely bound, in a friendly colour – say red (for that is a colour in which we have often met) and then write with your own hand on the fly-leaf: “Bettine, or my Treasure, etc. etc. – this book I give to thee.”

 

October 16th

 

Two letters did I receive from you about Dürer’s picture, but you must also send me word, whether it arrived uninjured, and whether you like it? tell me what you find praiseworthy in it, that I may tell it again to the (very poor) painter.  I have into the bargain an accumulated correspondence with young off-shoots of the fine arts, with a young architect at Cologne; a musician of eighteen years of age, who studied composition with Winter, rich in beautiful melodies, like a silver swan, which sings in the clear blue atmosphere with swelling wings.  The swan has a confounded Bavarian name, he is called Lindpaintner; yet says Winter, he will bring the name to honour.  A young engraver, who is studying with Hess at Munich.  The inclosed sketch is by him, it is the first impression, but smeared and unneat; the whole too is somewhat indistinct, and according to the judgment of others too old, nowithstanding it seems to me not wholly without merit; he etched it directly after nature, without a drawing: if it please you, I will send you one cleaner, better, and packed with more care, than you can stick upon the wall by your bedside. – Now to all these people I speak comfort in different ways, and it is a pleasant feeling of worthiness I have, to be consulted by them as their little oracle:- I only teach them to understand their five senses; how, as it were, being of all things flies and creeps within them; how perfume of the breezes, force of the earth, impulse of the water, and colour of the fire, live and work within them; how the real essence of art lies in the clear mirror of the creation, how hoar, dew and mist, rainbow, wind, snow, hail, thunder and the threatening comets, the northern lights, etc., produce quite a different spirit.  God who gives wings to the winds, will also give them to your spirits.

 

October 15th

 

Do you not remark that my date always goes backwards instead of forwards?  I have planned a stratagem: since time is always carrying me further on and never to you, so will I turn back till I come to that day when I was with you, and there will I stop, and will have nothing more to do with “in future” and “opportunity” and “soon,” but will turn my back upon them all; I will put a lock upon the door of Futurity, and therewith shut up the way to you, so that you can go nowhere but to me.

 

Write to me about the music, that I may send it, if you have not got it; I like so to send anything, and then I beg you to give my most loving greeting to your wife; of your son I am not forgetful.  But do you write to me on a clear day, I always imagine that I amongst many things am the dearest to you.  When your mother still lived, I could talk with her about such things; she explained everything to me in your few hasty lines: “I know Wolfgang,” said he, “he wrote that with a heaving heart, he holds thee as safe within his arms as his best property.”  Then the hand which had fostered your childhood, stroked my head, and she shewed me sometimes much of the former household furniture which you had used. – Those were charming things.

 

BETTINE

 

To-morrow I return to Munich, then I shall see the amiable President.  At the public sitting of the Academy this year, a very beautiful treatise upon the history of the old salt-works at Reichenhall was read.  It had the peculiar lot of tiring every one; if my letter should take part in this lot, yet read it for the sake of the violence I have done myself, in speaking of anything else but my eternal love.

 

GOETHE TO BETTINE

Weimar, November 3rd 1809

 

How could I, dear Bettine, begin a contention with you; you excel friends in world and in deed, in kindness and gifts, in love and amusement: with this then must one be contented, and in return send you as much love as possible, be it only in silence.

 

Your letters are very delightful to me; if you could only be a secret observer of me while I read them; you would in nowise doubt of the power which they exert over me; they remind me of the time, when I perhaps was as foolish as you, but certainly happier and better than now.

 

Your enclosed picture was immediately recognized by your friends and duly greeted.  It is very natural and artist-like, therewith earnest and lovely.  Say something friendly to the artist upon the matter, and at the same time: he should continue to exercise himself in sketching after nature, the Immediate feels itself directly; that he therewith always keep the maxims of his art in his eye, is of course.  Such a talent must even become lucrative, always supposing that the artist lived in a great town, or travelled about.  In Paris they have already something similar.  Induce him to take the portrait of some one else, whom I know, and write his name, perhaps all may not succeed with him like the interesting Bettine; for really she sits so truly and heartily there, that one must envy the somewhat corpulent book (which by the by is in good keeping with the picture) its place.

 

Albrecht Dürer would have arrived quite safe, if the fatal precaution had not been taken of packing fine paper upon the top, which has in some places rubbed into the clothing, which is now restored.  The copy deserves all respect, it is perfected with great industry and with a sincere and honest view of rendering the original as near as possible.  Give the artist my thanks; to you I give them daily whenever I look at the picture.  I should like once at least to see a portrait after nature from this pencil.

 

Since I am writing this word Nature once more, I feel myself compelled to tell you “that you should make your Nature-Gospel, which you preach to the artists, somewhat condition; for who would not willingly allow himself to be led into every error by so charming a Pythoness.  Write to me whether the spirit inform you what I mean.  I am at the end of my page and take this as a pretext for being silent upon what I have no pretext for saying. I only beg you that by sending me the compositions of Durant and Marcello, you would sweetly haunt my house anew.

 

A few days ago, a friend announced herself, I wished to anticipate her, and really believed I was going to meet you, as I mounted the stairs of the Elephant, but quite another countenance unfolded itself from out the travelling hood, yet since then I am bewitched often to turn to the door, thinking you were coming to rectify my error; by a speedy, longed-for surprise, I should hold myself assured of the gift of prophecy belonging of old to my family, and one would with confidence prepare oneself for so pleasing an event, if the evil demon were not well exercised, in playing the heart, before all, his most spiteful tricks; and as the tenderest blossoms are often covered with snow, so too the sweetest affections change to coldness: for such things one must always hold oneself prepared; and it is to me a warning sign that I had to thank the capricious April, (although at parting) for your first appearance.

 

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Munich, November 9th

 

Ah! it is so awful in many an hour to be alone! Ah! so many thoughts need comfort, which yet can be told to none; so many frames of mind, which draw one at once into the Vast and Formless, must be overcome.  Forth into the cold, open air, upon the loftiest snow-Alps, in the midst of night, where the storm-wind might blow upon one, where one hardily and boldly steps to meet the only narrow feeling.  Fear; there I imagine to myself, one could become well.

 

When thy genius bears along the high blue heaven a storm-cloud, and at last lets it dash down from the broad mighty wings in the full bloom of the rose-season, this does not raise universal pity: many a one enjoys the magic of the confusion, many a one loosens his own desires therein; a third (I also) sinks down by the rose, as it lies broken by the storm, and pales with it and dies with it, and then he rises again in fairer youth new-born – through thy genius, Goethe.  This I say to you from the impression of that book: “The Elective Affinities.”*

 

A clear moon-night have I passed, in order to read your book, which only a few days ago came to hand.  You can think that in this night a whole world crowded through my soul.  I feel that from you alone is to be had balsam for the wounds, which are given by you; for when the next morning your letter came with all marks of your goodness, I knew well that you lived, and for me too; I felt my mind more purified, to render me worthy of your love.  This book is a storm excited sea, where the waves threateningly beat upon my heart, to crush me.  Your letter is the lovely shore, where I land, and look back upon all danger with quiet, nay even with good comfort.

 

Thou art in love with her, Goethe; I have already long had the presentiment: yonder Venus has risen from the foaming sea of your passion, and after sowing seeds of tear-pearls, she vanishes again in more than earthly splendour.  You are powerful, you would have the whole world mourn with you, and weeping it obeys your summons.  But I too, Goethe, have made a vow; you seem to give me up in your grief.  “Run,” you say to me, “and seek for yourself flowers;” and then you lock yourself up in the inmost sadness of your feeling: yes, this will I do, Goethe! – this is my vow, I will seek flowers, gay garlands shall adorn your gates, and when your foot stumbles, they are wreaths, which I have laid for you upon the threshold; and when you dream, it is the balsam of magic blossoms, which overcomes you: flowers of a far, strange world, where I am not strange, as here in this book, where the ravenous tiger swallows up the fine structure of spiritual love: I do not understand it, this cruel enigma:  I cannot conceive why they all make themselves unhappy; why they all serve a spiteful demon with thorny sceptre: and Charlotte, who daily, nay hourly scattters incense before him, who with mathematical certainty prepares unhappiness for all.  Is not love free? – do not they both stand in affinity? why will she forbid them this innocent life with and near each other?  Twins they are; entwined together they ripen on to their birth into light; and she will separate these germs, because she cannot believe in innocence: the immense prejudice of sin she grafts upon innocence; O! what unhappy precaution.

 

Do you know! no one is thoroughly acquainted with ideal love; each one believes in common love, and thus one cherishes, one grants no good fortune, which springs from this loftier one, or which by it might reach the end.  Whatever I shall gain, may it be by this ideal love: it bursts all bars to new worlds of art, and divination and poesy: yes, naturally, as it only feels itself satisfied in a more elevated sense, so it can only live in a more lofty element.

 

Here, your Mignon occurs to me, how with banded eyes she dances in the midst of eggs.  My love is skilful, rely entirely upon its instinct, it will also dance blindfold onward, and make no false step.

 

You interest yourself in my pupils of art, this gives me and them much delight.  The young man, who etched my miniature, is of a family, each single member of which hangs with great attention upon your doings; I often listened to the two elder brothers, how they laid plains, to see you once if only from afar; one had seen you return from the theatre, wrapped in a large grey cloak: he was always telling me of it. – What a twofold enjoyment was that for me! – for I myself had been with you that rainy day in the theatre, and this cloak protected me from the eyes of the many, as I was in your box and you called me “mouseling,” because so secretly hid, I listened from out its wide folds: I sat in darkness, but you in the light, you must have been sensible of my love; I could clearly perceive your sweet friendliness, which was blended in every feature, in every motion: yes! I am rich; the golden Pactolus flows through my veins and deposits its treasures in my hearts.  Now see! such sweet enjoyment from eternity to eternity, why is it not allowed to the lovers in your novel? or why does it not suffice them? – yes, it can be that another lot may yet step between us; yes, it must be: for since all men will act, they will not leave such a space unemployed: let them have their way, let them sow and reap – that is now it; - the shiverings of love, the deeply felt, will once again rise to the surface: the soul loves, what is it then which in the germing seeds will be moistened? the deep-closed, yet unborn blossom; this, its future will be produced by such shiverings: but the soul is the closed blossom of the body, and when it bursts forth from it, then will those love-shiverings in heightened feeling burst forth with it; yes, this love will be nothing else, than the breath of that future heavenly life; therefore is it that our hearts beat, and the breath rules the inconceivable delight; now it draws with heavy sigh from out the abyss of bliss, now it can scarcely with the wind’s rapidity embrace all, which streams mightily through it.  Yes, thus it is, dear Goethe, I perceive each moment when I think of thee, that it oversteps the boundaries of earthly life, and deep sighs change unseen with the quick pulsation of enthusiasm; yes, thus it is, these shiverings of love are the breath of a higher existence, to which we shall once belong, and which in these earthly blessings only breathes softly upon us.

 

Now I will return to my young artist, who belongs to one of the most amiable families, all whose highly gifted members, although so young, rise far above their time.  Louis Grimm, the artist, already two years ago, when he had very little practice, but much quiet, hidden sense, made a portrait of me: for me it is of importance, it has truth, but no superficial skill; few people therefore find it like: no other either has seen me fall asleep over the Bible, in a scarlet gown, in the little gothic chapel, with grave stones and inscriptions round about; I, fallen asleep over the wisdom of Solomon! Let it be framed for a screen, and think that while it changes for “Evening light” to quiet darkening, I dreaming explore the brightness, which lighted the most ardently loving of Kings.

 

The young artist’s character moreover is such, that the rest of the good which you say to him, is not applicable: he is timid, I with cunning only have made him tame by degrees: I won him by being pleased to be as much a child as himself; we had a cat about which we contended in play: in an unused kitchen I myself cooked the supper while all were standing by the fire, I sat upon a foot-stool and read: as chance would have it I was dressed, reclining, and in drapery.  With great enthusiasm for the favorable accident, he made sketches after nature, and would not suffer me to alter even a fold, thus we assembled an interesting little collection, of how I walk, stand and sit.  He has made tours into the neighbouring country, where there are fair attractive faces; he every time brought with him a treasure of etched plates, imitated from the humorous with remarkable truth.  The simple Gospel which I preach to him is nothing else than what the warm west wind whispers to the violet – by this it cannot be led into error.  The enclosed etchings after nature will please you.

 

The musician is my favourite, and with him I might more easily have driven my discourses upon art to excess, for there I expatiate more, and here I cede nothing to you: I will soon again take you to task, you must accept with my mystic workings the overpowering unconceived presentiment of wonderful powers, I will soon draw a deeper breath and express all before you.  Very strange is it, an architect, whom I formerly knew, appears indisputably in your “Elective Affinities.”  He deserves it for his former enthusiastic love to you.  He made at that time the model of a very wonderful house for you, which stood upon a rock, and was ornamented with many bronze figures, fountains and columns.

 

How much had I still to say to you upon a glorious word** in your letter, but it will answer of itself, or I am not worth your lavishing so much condescension upon me.  Often I would fain look upon you, to carry happiness in your eyes, and again to draw happiness from them, therefore do I now leave off writing.

 

BETTINE

 

*) Die Wahlverwandschaften, by Goethe

**) Foolish as you, etc. etc. (Goethe’s letter.)

 

TO GOETHE

 

The world often becomes too narrow for me.  What oppresses me, is the truce, the peace, with all the dreadful consequences, with all the profligate treachery of policy.  The geese which with their cackling once saved the Capitol, allow not their right to be disputed, they lone take the lead.

 

But thou friendly Goethe! thou Sunbeam! which even in the midst of winter, lies upon the snowy heights and peeps in at my window. – On the neighbour’s roof upon which the sun shines in the morning.  I have made a remembrance of thee.

 

Without you I should perhaps have been as sad as one born blind, who has no idea of the lights of heaven.  Thou clear fountain in which the moon mirrors itself, where the stars are scooped up with hollowed hand to be drank; thou poet, freeman of Nature, who, her image in thy bosom, teaches us poor children of slavery to adore it.

 

That I write to you, is as strange as if one lip spoke to the other; listen, I have something to tell you; yes, I m too prolix, since all that I say is of course, and what should the other lip answer to it?  In the consciousness of my love, my inmost relationship to you, you are silent. – Ah! how could Ottilie wish to die sooner? O, I ask you, is it not also an expiation to bear happiness, to enjoy happiness? – O Goethe, could you not have created one who could have saved her? – You are excellent but cruel, that you let this life destroy itself; after misfortune had once broken in, you should have hidden, as the earth hides, and as it blooms freshly above the graves, so should loftier feelings and sentiments have bloomed from out the past, and not the unripe youthful man should have been thus rooted out and thrown away; what to me is all mind, all feeling in Ottilie’s diary? it is not maidenly for her to leave her lover, and not to await from him the unfolding of her fate; it is not womanly, that she does not consider his fate alone; and it is not motherly, (since she must forefeel all the young germs, whose roots are entwined with hers) that she has no care for them, but brings all to destruction with herself.

 

There is a limit between a realm which springs from necessity, and that loftier one which the free spirit cultivates; into the realm of necessity we are born, we find ourselves there at first; but to that free one, we are elevated.  As wings carry through the air the bird which was before compelled to lie unfledged in the next, so does that spirit carry our fortunes proud and independent into liberty: close to this limit, do you lead your loving ones; no wonder! all we who think and love await at this limit our redemption; nay all the world appear to me as though assembled on the shore, and waiting a passage through all prejudices, evil desires and vices to the land where heavenly freedom is cherished.  We are wrong to believe, for this the body must be put off, to come to heaven.  Verily! as all Nature, from eternity to eternity frames itself, even so does heaven frame itself, in itself, in the recognition of a germing spiritual life to which one devotes all his powers, till of its own power, it generates into freedom; this is our task, our spiritual organisation, it depends, whether it is animated whether the spirit becomes Nature, in order that again a spirit, a prophetic one, unfold itself from this nature.  The poet (you Goethe) must first unfold this new life, he lifts his wings and rises above the desiring, and allures them and shews them how one may support oneself above the soil of prejudice: but alas! your Muse is a Sappho; instead of following her genius, she has precipitated herself down from the rock.

 

November 29th

 

Yesterday I wrote thus far, then I went to bed from mere fear and as I do every evening, that in thought on you I may fall asleep at your feet, I could not yesterday succeed; I was ashamed that I had talked away so arrogantly, and all is perhaps not as I mean it.  After all it is jealousy which so excites me, that I seek a way how I may draw you to me again and make you forget her: now try me, and whatever I be, yet do not forget my love, and pardon me too for sending you my diary; I wrote it on the Rhine; I have therein spread out before you the existence of the years of my childhood, and shown you how our mutual “elective affinity” forced me like a rivulet, to sweep on hastening, over crags and rocks, among thorns and mosses, till there where you, mighty stream swallow me up.  Yes, I wished to keep this book till I should at last be with you again, then I would be in the morning see in your eyes what you had read in it at evening: but now I am troubled with the thought, that you should lay my diary in the place of Ottilie’s, and should love the living who remains with you more than her who is gone away from you.

 

Do not burn my letters, do not tear them, or you might even do harm to yourself, so firmly, so truly am I bound to you; but shew them to no one, hide them like a secret beauty, my love gives you beauty, you are beautiful because you feel yourself loved.

 

Morning

 

During the night often a good fortune blossoms, like the Turkish bean, which planted at evening, grew up till morning, and threw its tendrils round the moon’s sickly; but at the first sun-beam all withers to the very root; thus did my dream last night, blooming, climb up to you; and it was just at the fairest, you called me “your all,” then broke the morning and the beautiful dream was withered like the beanstalk, by which one at night so conveniently mounted to Moon-land.

 

Ah! write to me soon, I am troubled about all which I have dared in this letter, I close it to begin another; true I might have kept back what I have said to you about the “Elective Affinities,” but would it have been right to conceal from the friend, what in the labyrinth of the breast wanders in the night?-

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

December 13th 1809

 

Ah, I will abjure idolatry! of you I do not speak, for what prophet says that you are no God?

 

I speak of great and little, which leads the soul astray.  O did you but know what is good for your salvation, now in the days of your visitation? – Luke xix.

 

I had much to say to you, but it throbs within my heart, and painful thoughts tower one above another.

 

Peace is confirmed.  In the moment of the most glorious victory, when the energy of this people had reached its sumint, Austria commands them to lay down their arms; what right has she to this? Has she not long already, maliciously fearful, separated her cause from that of the Tyrolese? – There stand the crowned heads, around this jewel Tyrol, they look eagerly upon it, and are all dazzled by its pure fire: but they throw a pall over it – their crafty policy! and now they decide in cold-blood upon its fate.  Should I say, what deep wounds the story of this year has inflicted upon me, who would commiserate me? And who, alas! am I that I should let my complaint, my curse be heard? – Each one has the right, in whose heart it so rages as in mine, to espouse the highest destinies; alas! in nothing more have I either pleasure or confidence; the cold winter-wind, which storms to-day, with it I do not stand in opposition, it at least does not deceive me.  Six weeks ago, there were a few fine days, we made a journey to the hills; as we approached the chain of the rocky Alps, this worked mightily within me, the ashes fell from my heart, there streamed the flow of spring into the languid ray of the Autumn-sun.  it was splendid beneath the firs and pines upon the high Alp, they bowed their tops in the wind-blast to one another; were I a kitten, in their shade the Emperor’s majesty would not have dazzled me.  Here I lay upon the steep precipice and overlooked the narrow valley out of which, coupled with hills, hieroglyphic rock-walls rise.  I was alone upon the steep height and oversaw numberless ravines; the sympathising preachers of extacy had remained behind – it was too steep for them. – Had we both been there together in summer and hand in hand, carefully, slowly, alone, descended the dangerous path, - these were my holy thoughts there above – had you been there – we should have reflected otherwise.  – A wreath cools, and becomes well the heated cheeks: - what would you? – firs sting, oaks will not bend pliantly,  elms – the branches are too high, poplars do not adorn, and the tree which is yours, that is not here. – This I often said: mine is not here; you are mine, but you are not here.

 

It might chance, that, according to your prophetic vision, in a short time my way may lead me to you.  I want this remuneration for the evil time which I have lived without you.

 

A distinguished class of men, amongst whom were excellent people, are the Physicians; when disease broke forth to terribly during the war, most of them became victims to their activity: then it is that we first see what they are worth, when they have ceased to live: death drives the bud to an unseasonable blossom.

 

The enclosed drawing is the portrait of Tiedmann, a professor of Medicine here, he interests himself so much for fish that he wrote a beautiful work upon their hearts, provided with very good plates: now since you n your “Elective Affinities” have shewn that you closely examine heart and loins, fish-hearts will also be interesting to you, and perhaps you may discover that your Charlotte has the heart of a whiting: with my next, (in which I shall send many other things) I will forward it.  Do not have a mean opinion of the drawing, only become acquainted with the man, and you will see that he does honour to his mirror.

 

To come again to something bitter, Meline with the beautiful eye-lashes, of whom you said, she was like a rose which the dew above had just waked out of a deep sleep, will marry a man who is generally known as an excellent man.  O how sad is it to be the slave of excellence, one will there do no better than Charlotte did, one frets oneself and others to death with virtue.  Excuse me only, that I am always beginning anew about your book, I ought rather to be silent, since I have not mind enough, to comprehend it thoroughly.

 

Strange is it, that while reality so powerfully excites me, even so powerfully does fiction cast me down.  The black eyes which are large and somewhat wide open, but quite filled with friendliness when they look on me; the mouth from whose lips songs flow, which I can close with a seal, which then sing more beautifully, murmur more sweetly, warmer than before, and the breast on which I can hid myself, when I have prattled too much, such I shall never misunderstand, such will never by strange to me – hereupon, good night!

 

The accompanying plates are by our friend Grimm; the two boys heads he did hastily upon a journey to the Staremberger lake, the drawing of them is still better, it is together with the scenery, the boys, the dark one sitting upon a bank in the sun, the fair one, leaning against the well side, all delightfully true to Nature.  The girl is an earlier attempt of his graving needle, your praise has given him great zeal; his master is the engraver Hess, whom I often watch with mute astonishment at his great important works.

 

Marcello’s psalms are here at Landshut too miserably copied, it is old church-style, I must have patience till I find a copier.

 

Farewell, greet heartily from me all that is thine.

 

My address is at Count Joner’s houses in Landshut.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

I have bolted my door, and not to be quite alone with my ill-humour, I searched for your Eugenia: she had hidden herself in the very hindmost corner of the book-case: I felt assured of consolation, a heavenly thought would therein breathe upon me; I have drank it in like scent of flowers; beneath oppressive clouds I have calmly advanced untired forwards to the lonely point, where no one willingly abides, since there the four winds meet and do not drive the poor way-farer about, but hold him fast in the midst of them; yes, when misfortune is in full storm, then one is not driven here and there, but turned like Niobe to stone.

 

Now that the book is read, the thick earth-fog disperses, and now I must speak with you. – I am often unhappy and know not wherefore; to-day I think it was because I believed I took your letter from the post-boy, and it was another; my heart beat so violently, and after all it was nothing.  When I came in, all asked me, why I looked so pale, and I handed them my letter and fell quite exhausted upon a chair; they wondered what in the world it could contain; it was an old account of four florins from Robert, the old painter at Cassel, of whom I learnt nothing: they laughed at me, but I cannot laugh, for I have an evil conscience; I know but little what suits mind, soul and heart plead with one another; why then have I written to you all sorts of things for which I cannot answer.  You are not angry with me? How could my immature prattle offend you? But you do not answer, because after all I do not understand what you might say, and thus has my presumption robbed me of my good fortune, and who knows when you will be again in humour.  Ah fortune! thou lettest not thyself be mastered and not be formed; where thou appearest, there art thou ever peculiar in thy being, and destroyest by thy innocence every plan, every calculation upon the future.

 

Misfortune is perhaps the organisation of fortune; a fluid diamond, which congeals to crystal, a disease of longing, which becomes a pearl! O write to me soon.

 

January 12th 1810

BETTINE

 

GOETHE TO BETTINE

 

That is a dear, graceful child, cunning as a little fox! you bounce into my house like a fortune-bomb, in which you conceal your claims and just complaints.  This so crushes me down, that I do not even think of justifying myself. – The waistcoat, of soft velvet within, of smooth silk without, is now my breast-plate, the more comfortable I feel under this well-suited corslet, the more oppressed is my conscience, and as I two days afterwards dived into the pocket by chance, and drew forth the register of my sins, I was then immediately resolved, to search no excuses for my long silence.  To you yourself however I propose it as a theme, to interpret my silence on your so surprised communications in a friendly manner, which may a congenial way, answer your undiminished love, your constancy to the past and the present.  Concerning the “Elective Affinities” only this: the poet was at the development of this sad fate, deeply moved; he has borne his share of pains; chide him not therefore, that he calls upon his friends for sympathy.  Since so much which is sad dies unmourned the death of oblivion, the poet has here proposed to himself in this one fabled lot, as in a funeral urn, to collect the tears for much that has been neglected.  Your views, deep and springing out of spirit and truth, nevertheless belong to the fairest offerings, which delight, but can never disturb me: I earnestly beg you therefore, to commit with conscientious truth such things to paper, and at any rate, not to cast it to the winds, as is easy to be feared with your spiritual relations and superfluity of thoughts.  Farewell, and let me hear from you soon again.


Weimar, February 5th 1810

 

GOETHE

 

My wife can write and tell you herself in what a dilemma she has been about a masquerade dress and how delighted she was at the opening of the band-box – it made a splendid effect. About dear Meline’s marriage, I say nothing, it does one no good, when so beautiful a girl throws herself away; and the congratulations which one then offers, only weighs on the heart.

 

TO GOETHE

 

Continue to be so rich in love to me, do you yourself pack together what you send me, write yourself the address on the parcel; all this delights me, and your letter which makes good all damages, nay! So mildly supports my own weaknesses, gives me to myself again, because it takes my part.

 

Now I am blown upon by all humours, I close my eyes and grumble that I may see and hear nothing, no world, no solitude, no friend, no foe, no God, and at last too no heaven.

 

Hofer they have taken prisoner in a cow-herd’s hut upon the Passeyrer mountains, the whole time have I secretly followed the hero with my prayers.  Yesterday I received a letter with a printed Tyrolese lamentation: “The leader of the hero-band on lofty Alps a captive made, finds many tears within our hearts.” Ah! he is not unwept by me, but the age is iron and turns every complaint to shame; therefore must one fear the worst, although it is impossible.  No! it is not possible, that they should hurt a hair of his mild hero’s head, who for all the sacrifices, which he and his country made in vain, took, no other revenge, than to write in a letter to Speckbacher: - “thy glorious conquests are all in vain, Austria has made peace with France, and Tyrol has been – forgotten.”

 

In my stove the wind whistles and roars and blows the glow into a flame, and burns the old Bavarian pines down into ashes; herewith then I have my amusement as it cracks and rumbles, and at the same time I study Marpurg’s fugues; and therewith it is so well with me that the “wherefore?” never can be answered, that one must assume the immediate rule of the leader (Dux) and that the companion joins – ah! even as I fain would join you: thus would I essentially be to you, without making much noise; all the ways of life should proceed from you and end in you again, and that would be a genuine, exact fugue, where no demand of feeling remains unanswered, and in which the philosopher cannot meddle.

 

I will confess to you, will sincerely avow to you all my sins, first those in which you are partly to blame and which you must also expiate with me, then those which most oppress me, and lastly those, in which I even find pleasure.

 

Firstly: I too often tell you that I love you, nay I know nothing else; when I turn it here and there, nothing else comes of it.

 

Secondly: I envy all your friends, the playmates of your youth, and the sun which shines into your chamber, and your servants, especially your gardener who under your orders lays asparagus beds.

 

Thirdly: I grant you no pleasure because I am not there; when any one has seen you, speaks of your high spirits and gracefulness, that is no great pleasure for me; but when he says that you are serious, cold and reserved, that I like well.

 

Fourthly: I neglect all people on your account, no one is any thing to me, of their love I think nothing; nay! whoever praises me displeases me, that is jealousy of myself and of you, and no proof of a great heart, and that Nature has a miserable disposition which withers on one side, when it will blossom on the other.

 

Fifthly:  I have a great inclination to despise the world, particularly in the persons of those who so praise you; all the good which is said of you, I cannot listen to, only a few simple persons, those I can allow to speak about you, ad that need not exactly be praise; no, one may make oneself a little merry about you, and then I can tell you that an unmerciful waggery rises within me, when I can throw off the chains of slavery for a little.

 

Sixthly: I feel a deep displeasure in my soul, that it is not you, with whom I live under the same roof and breathe the same air; I fear the neighbourhood of strange people; at church I seek a place on the beggar’s bench, because it is the most neutral – the finer the people, the stronger is my dislike; to be touched makes me angry, ill and unhappy: thus in company and at balls I cannot remain long; dancing I might like, if I could dance alone upon an open spot, where the breath which comes from out strange bosoms does not reach me.  What influence might not that have upon the soul, only to live near one’s friend – so much the more painful the struggle against that which spiritually and bodily must for ever remain strange.

 

Seventhly: In company when I am to hear something read aloud, I seat myself in a corner and secretly stop my ears, or I entirely lose myself in thought upon the first word that offers: then when some one does not understand, I wake up out of another world and I presume to give an explanation upon it, and what others take for madness, is to me intelligible, and is connected with an internal knowledge, which I cannot express. Of yours I cannot possibly hear anything read aloud nor read it aloud myself – I must be alone with myself and with thee.

 

Eighthly: I cannot appear strange or high to any one; when I put myself to the least inconvenience I become quite stupid, for it seems tremendously stupid to impose upon one another – also that respect should express itself more in something attained than in something felt, I think that reverence must spring only from a feeling of intrinsic worth.  Herewith occurs to me, that near Munich lies a village, which is called Culture’s-seat.  In a walk to it they explained to me, that this name of Culture’s-seat arose from the intention of giving the peasantry a higher cultivation; all however stands upon the old footing, and these good peasants who were to set the whole country a good example, sit at the beer-can and vie with each other in drinking; the school-house is very large, and has no round but all square window-panes; yet the school-master loves the twilight: he sat behind the stove, had a blue handkerchief hanging over his head to protect himself against the flies, the long pipe had fallen from his hand, and he slept and snored till it echoed again: the writing-books lay all heaped up before him, that he might set copies of ornamental writing – I drew a stork standing upon its nest and wrote underneath:-

 

Ye children learn to make your nest, with your own hands as suits the best.  The proud fir in the wood which teems fell for your rafters and your beams.  And then when all the walls do stand, see you to have an oak at hand, of which you may carve table and dish, to dine upon it meat and fish.  The best wood take to cradle and bed, for child and wife that you will get, and profit of God’s bliss and power, by sun-shine and by raining shower.  From your retreat look then about, as from your roof the stork so stout, which ev’ry year will be your guest, to lead the fate on to your best.  Still under just cause learn to write your father’s name, and now sleep quiet.  This is the very Cultur’s-seat, on which this pretty rhyme will fit.

 

I fluttered every moment out of the door, for fear the schoolmaster should awake; I made my rhymes without, and stole back again upon tiptoe, to write them down with a one-nibbed pen, which had probably  been made with the bread-knife; at last I took the blue riband from my straw-hat, and made it into a handsome bow round the book, that he might at all events see it; else, the pretty poem might easily have been lost in the wilderness of writing books.  Before the door sat Rumohr, my conductor, having in the mean time eaten a basin of curds; I would not eat any thing, nor indeed stop any longer, for fear the schoolmaster should awake; upon the road Rumohr spoke very finely upon the peasantry, upon their wants, and how the good of the state depended upon theirs, and that one must not force any knowledge upon them, which they cannot use immediately in their calling, and that one must form them to be free men, that is, people who themselves procure all that they want.  Then too he spoke about their religion, and upon this he said some very beautiful things; he was of opinion, that each rank must let that pass for religion which is their chief calling: the calling of the peasant is to protect the whole country from famine; herein must his importance and obligations to the state be made intelligible to him; it must be put to his heart, how great an influence he has upon the well-being of the whole, and thus too must he be treated with respect, from which will spring self-respect, which essentially is of more value to every man than any other advantage; and thus would the sacrifices which fate demands, be made uncompelled.  Like the mother, who nourishes her own child, and for it offers up her all with joy, so would the direct feeling of being essential to the good of the whole surely bring forth each sacrifice in order to preserve this dignity: no revolutions would then take place; for self-taught policy would in all anticipate each just demand, and that would be a religion which each could comprehend, and where the whole day’s work would be a continual prayer; for all which passes not in this feeling, is sin.  He said this much more beautiful and true: only I am not yet capable of this wisdom and cannot render it so again.

 

Thus have I at once sprung off from my confession; I wished to say still much which one might perhaps find sinful; how that I love your garment better than my fellow-creatures, that I would fail kiss the steps upon which your feet go up and down, etc. – This one might call idolatry; or is it so, that the Divinity who animates you, floats along every wall of your house? – that when he plays in your mouth and eyes, he also glides beneath your feet and pleases himself even in the folds of your garment; that when in the masquerade he changes himself into every gay form, he may well be concealed in the paper in which you pack the “masquerade?” therefore when I kiss the paper, it is that which is loved in you, which for love of me lets itself be sent by post.

 

Adieu! continue to love your child in dark as well as in clear days, for I am eternally and wholly yours.

BETTINE

 

You have received my Diary, do you also read in it, and how does it please you?

February 29th

 

TO BETTINE

 

Dear Bettine, I have again been guilty of an oversight, in not mentioning to you the receipt of your Diary.  you must believe, that I am not worthy of so fair a gift, and yet I cannot paint in words what I am indebted to you for it.  You are an unparalleled child, whom I joyfully thank for every enjoyment, for every bright glance into a spiritual life, which without you I should perhaps never again have experienced.  The Diary is treasured by me ina place, where I have all your dear letters at hand, that contain so much which is beautiful, and for which I can never enough thank you; only this I do say to you, that I let not a day pass without turning over their pages.  At my window, well-attended to, grow a selection of graceful foreign plants: each new flower and bud, which greet me at early morning, is gathered, and according to Indian custom strewed as a flower-offering in your dear book.  All that you write, is a spring of health to me, whose crystal drops impart to me a well-being. Continue to me this refreshment upon which I place my independence.


Weimar, March 1st 1810

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Ah dear Goethe! your lines came to me at the right time, just as I did not know what to do for very despair.  For the first time have I followed the events of the world with great constancy to the heroes who fought for their sanctuary: Hofer I had pursued at every track; how often has he, after the burden and heat of the day, concealed himself in the late night among the lonely mountains and taken counsel with his pure conscience, and this man, whose soul free from evil defects, was open to all, as an example of innocence and heroism, has now at last on 20th February suffered death as the consummation of his lofty destiny.  How could it have been otherwise, should he too have suffered disgrace? – that could not be: God has so ordained it best, that after a short pause from this glorifying patriotic inspiration, with great strength and self-consciousness, and not complaining of his fate, he should be torn for ever from his miserable fatherland.  For a fortnight he lay a captive in the dungeon at Porta Melina with many other Tyrolese.  His sentence he received calmly and unshaken.  They would not let him take leave of his beloved countrymen, the drums drowned the lamentations and cries of the imprisoned Tyrolese.  He sent them by the hands of the priest his last piece of money, and requested they might be told, he went consoled to death, and looked for their prayers o accompany him on the way.  As he passed by their dungeon-doors, they all fell upon their knees, prayed and wept: at the place of execution he said, “he stood before him who had created him, and standing he would yield up his spirit to him.”  A coin which had been issued during his administration, he delivered to the corporal with the charge to bear witness, that in his last hour he felt himself bound by every tie of constancy to his poor fatherland.  Then he cried, “Fire,” they fired badly, twice one after the other; only at the third time was it that the corporal, who conducted the execution, put an end to his life with the thirteenth bullet.

 

I must close my letter, what more could I write to you? the whole world has lost its colour for me.  A great man is Napoleon: so say the people here – yes externally, but to this outward greatness he sacrifices all which crosses his unplanetary career.  Hofer inwardly great, a sacred German character – if Napoleon had protected him, then I too would call him great.  And the emperor, could not he say: “Give me my Tyrolese hero, then I will give you my daughter?” then had History called that great, which she must now call little.

 

Adieu! that you elevate my Diary to be the temple of an Indian Divinity is Predestination.  Of those light forests of ether, of sun-habitations, of many-shaped darkness, and a formless brightness, in which the soul lives and breathes, have I often dreamed. 

 

I could not vie your greeting to Rumohr, I do not know to what quarter he has been blown off by the wind.

 

Landshut, March 10th 1810

 

TO BETTINE

 

Dear Bettine, I feel an irresistible want to speak a few words of sympathy to your patriotic sorrow, and to acknowledge to you how much I feel myself drawn into your feelings: only let not this life with its capricious changes become painful to you.  To struggle through such events is certainly difficult, is certainly a heavy task, particularly for a character which has so many claims and hopes for an ideal existence as yours. – In laying your last letter to the others, I find that with it an interesting period is closed.  Through a lovely labyrinth amidst philosophical, historical and musical prospects have you led me to the temple of Mars, and every where does your sound energy maintain itself; for this receive my most hearty thanks, and let me still further be the initiated of your interior world, and be certain that the truth and love which thus become due to you, will be paid you in secret.

 

March 19th 1810

GOETHE

 

TO GOETHE

 

Dear Goethe! many thousand thanks for your ten lines, in which you so consolingly bend to me: thus then let this period be closed: this year of 1809 has much disturbed me; now we are on the point of changing; in a few days we leave Landshut, and pass by and through many places, which I do not know how to name to you. – The students are just packing up Savigny’s library; they place numbers and tickets on the books, lay them in order to chests, let them down by a pulley through the window, where they are received underneath with a loud “halt,” by the students; all is joy and life, although they are much distressed at parting with their beloved teacher.  However learned Savigny may be, yet his affable befriending disposition surpasses him most brilliant qualities; all the students swarm about him, there is not one who does not feel the conviction, that in the great teacher he also loses his benefactor: most of the Professors too love him, particularly the Theological ones.  Sailer is certainly his best friend.  People meet here daily, and indeed more than once: in the evening the landlord of the house with a burning taper easily accompanies his guests each to his own house door; very often have I made the round with them: to day I was the Sailer upon a mountain on which the Trausnitz stands, a castle of the olden time: trust not.  The trees are opening their blossoms!  Spring! the sparrows were flying about us in flocks; of Sailer I have told you but little and yet he was the dearest of all to me.  In the hard winter we often went over the snow-covering of the meadows and arable lands, and climbed together over the hedges from one enclosure to another, and in what I imparted to him, he willingly took interest: and many thoughts, which arose out of conversations with him, I have written down; although they find no place in any letters, yet they are for you, for I never think anything beautiful, without rejoicing in the thought of telling it to you.

 

I cannot come to myself while I am writing: the swarm of students leaves no more the house, now that Savigny’s departure is fixed for a few days hence: they are just gone past my door with wine and a great ham, to be consumed at the packing up: I had presented them my little library, which they were just going to pack up also, for this they gave me three cheers.  In the evening they often make a serenade of guitars and flutes, and this often lasts till after midnight; therewith they dance round a large fountain, which plays before our house in the market-place.  Yes! youth can find enjoyment in every thing; the general consternation at Savigny’s departure has soon changed into a festival; for it has been determined to accompany us on horseback and in carriages through the neighbourhood of Salzburg: they who can procure no horse go before on foot: and now they are all rejoicing so that the pleasure of these last days, travelling in awakening spring through a splendid country with their beloved teacher: I too expect for myself fair and happy days, - ah!  I believe I am near the goal, where my life will be the fairest and most splendid.  Free from care, full of the sweet fire of spring, in delicious expectation, thus sound the tones of hope within my breast: if this be verified, then must this too be certainly verified, that I shall soon meet you: yes! after so much which I have passed through, and faithfully imparted to you, how can it be otherwise? – the meeting again must create a new world within me.  When all joyful hopes burst forth into realities, when the present chases the darkness of the part by its light; ah! and with one word, when feeling and look embrace and hold thee, then I well know that my happiness heightens itself beyond measure; and ah! I am borne upon the wings of the wind to those blissful moments, though the sweetest enjoyments soon fade away, yet that which must be united, will once more return to indissoluble ties.

 

Landshut, March 31st 1810

BETTINE

 

If you should favour me with a line concerning your abode during this summer, I beg you to address me at Sailer’s in Landshut; he maintains a correspondence with Savigny, and will take the best care to send the treasures of your lines after me.

 

TO BETTINE

 

For a long time, dear Bettine, I have heard nothing of you, and it is impossible for me to commence my journey to Carlsbad without greeting you once more, and begging you to send me there a “sign of life:” may some good genius lay this request on your heart! – as I do not know where you are, I must take my refuge in higher powers.  Your letters journey with me; yonder they shall supply the presence of your friendly loving image.  More I do not say, for properly speaking one can give you nothing, because you either procure or take all for yourself.  Farewell, and think of me.

 

Jena, May 10th 1810

GOETHE

 

Vienna, May 15th

 

An immense bunch of may-flowers perfumes my little room; I am much pleased with the old tower, from whence I overlook the whole Prater: trees on trees of majestic appearance, delightful green lawns.  Here I live in the house of the deceased Birkenstock, in the midst of two thousand engravings, as many drawings, as many hundred antique urns, and Etrurian lamps, marble vases, antique remains of hands and feet, pictures, Chinese dresses, coins, collections of minerals, sea-insects, telescopes, countless maps, plans of ancient buried kingdoms and cities, skilfully carved sticks, valuable documents, and lastly the sword of the Emperor Carolus.  All these surround us in gay confusion, and are just about being brought into order, so there is nothing to be touched or understood, and with the chesnut-alley in full blossom, and the rushing Danube, which bears us over on his back, there is no enduring the Gallery of Art.  This morning at six o’clock we breakfasted in the Prater; round about beneath mighty oaks, lay Turks and Greeks; how magnificently do these graceful, gay coloured groups of handsome men contrast with the green plain! what influence too many not dress have, which with easy energy, here in the freshness of spring raises to superiority the peculiarity of these foreign people, and puts the natives in their colourless dresses to shame.  Youth, infancy are still ever reflected in the mature forms and motions of these southern people: they are bold and enterprising, like boys quick and cunning, and yet good natured.  As we passed by them, I could not help trailing a short way with my foot, the slipper of a reclining Turk, which had fallen off; at last I slid it onto the grass and left it lying there: we sat down and breakfasted; it was not long before the Turks began to seek the lost slipper.  Goethe, what secret pleasure did not this raise within me! how delighted I was to see them wondering at the miracle of the vanished slipper! our company too interested themselves about where the slipper could be: to be sure I was now afraid I might be scolded, but the triumph of conjuring up the slipper again was too beautiful; I raised it suddenly to general view upon a small twig which I had torn from a tree; and now the handsome men came up to us and laughed and exulted, so I could look at them quite near: My brother Francis was for a moment ashamed of me, but was obliged to laugh, and so everything went off well.

 

May 27th

 

It is not pleasure-parties, which hinder me from writing to you, but a child of my brother, sick of the scarlet fever, with whom I am day and night, and it is now the third week.  Of Vienna I did not see much, and of society still less, because such an illness demands discretion on account of contagion.  Count Herbestein, who has lost in my sister Sophia a beloved bride, has visited me several times, and has taken walks with me and led me through all the paths, where he had wandered with Sophia; he related to me, beautiful touching things of her: he takes pleasure in tracing my resemblance to her; he immediately called me thou*, because he had called Sophia so too; often when I laughed he became pale, because my resemblance to Sophia distressed him.  How amiable must this sister have been, to leave still such deep traces of sadness in the hearts of friends.  Ribands, cups, locks of hair, flowers, gloves, the prettiest letters, all these tokens, lie strewed about in a little cabinet: he likes to touch them and often reads the letters, which are certainly more beautiful than any I have ever seen; without violent passion, each expression speaks on inward friendliness; nothing escapes her, each charm of Nature, is subject to her mind.  O! what a wonderful artist is Mind! where I only able to give you an idea of this beloved sister, may, were I myself only able to conceive her amiability! every one, whom I see here, speaks of her to me, as if they had lost her but a short while ago; and Herberstein says, she is his last and first, only true love: all this moves me, gives me a disposition for the past and future, damps my fire of expectation.  Then I think of the Rhine at Bingen, how suddenly there is clear majestic expanse narrows itself, boiling and roaring, between frowning rocks, winds through chasms, and the banks never become so tranquil again, so infant-like beautiful, as they were before they met the Bingen shoals: before such shallows, then do we stand, where the spirit of life must also wind through dreadful chasms.  Courage! the world is round, we return with increased powers and redoubled attraction.  Longing sows even at parting the seeds of return; so have I never parted from you, without thinking at the same time with enthusiasm on the future, which shall again receive me in your arms, and thus may all regrets for the parted be well considered as a modest type of joy at a future reunion; surely! else no such longing sensations would penetrate the heart.

 

I believe it was at the end of March when I wrote to you for the last time from Landshut: yes, I have been long silent, nearly two months; to day I received through Sailer your dear letter of May 10th, in which with flattering words you press me to your heart; now for the first time occurs to me all that I have to retrieve, for each path, each glance into nature is after all connected with you.  Landshut was to me a beneficial abode, in every respect I must praise it; homely the town, friendly the country, confiding the people, and the manners harmless and easy: shortly after Easter we took our departure, the whole University was collected in and before the house; many came in carriages and on horses, they could not so soon part from their excellent friend and teacher; wine was given out, and amidst continued cheers we passed through the gates, the horsemen accompanied the carriage, up a hill where spring was just opening its eyes; the Professors and grave personages took solemn leave, the others went one stage further, every quarter of an hour we met upon the road parties who had gone on before, that they might see Savigny for the last time: I had seen already for some time the tempest-clouds gathering; at the Post-house one after the other turned towards the window to conceal his tears.  A young Suabian, of the name of Nussbaumer, the embodied of popular romance, had gone far before, in order to meet the carriage once again; I shall never forget how he stood in the field and waved his little handkerchief in the wind, while his tears prevented him from looking up as the carriage rolled past him: - I love the Suabians.

 

Several of the most beloved pupils of Savigny accompanied us till Salzburg; the first and oldest, Nepomuch Ringseis, a faithful friend of the family, has a countenance as if cast in steel, a physiognomy of a knight of old; small, sharp mouth, black moustache, eyes, out of which the sparks flash, his breast labours as in a smithy, bursting with enthusiasm, and as he is an ardent Christian, he would fain haul Jupiter out of the lumber-room of the ancient Divinities, to baptise and convert him.

 

The second, a Mr. Schenk, has far higher cultivation, has become acquainted with actors, declaims in public, was quite glowingly in love (or is so still), was obliged to let his feelings stream forth in poetry, all sonnets; laughs at himself about his gallantry; auburn curly hair, rather a strongly marked nose, pleasant, extremely distinguished in study.  The third, the Italian Salvotti, handsome, in full green cloak, which throws the noblest drapery around his fine figure, imperturbable, quiet in his actions, ardent excitement in expression, doesn’t let one speak a connected word with him, so deeply is he sunk in learning.  The fourth, Baron Gumpenberg, of infantine nature, noble heart, quiet to bashfulness, so much the more does his openness surprize, when he first feels confidence, in which he then finds himself immeasurably happy, is not handsome, has uncommonly sweet eyes, an inseparable friend of the fifth, Freiberg, twenty years of age, lofty manly figure, as if he were already older, a countenance like an Italian cameo, of mysterious disposition, concealed pride, love and good-will to all, not familiar, endures the severest fatigues, sleeps little, looks out of the window at night upon the stars, exercises a magic power upon his friends, is not inclined to maintain his ground with them either by wit or a resolute will, but all have an unshaken confidence in him; what Freiberg wills, that must be.  The sixth was the young painter Louis Grimm, (by whom were my portrait and the prettily etched studies after nature which I sent you), he is so merry and naïve, that with him one soon becomes a child in the cradle, which laughs at nothing; he took part with me on the coachman’s box, from which we greeted the scenes beneath with jest and joke: why I so exactly describe all these to you? because there is not one of them who will not in purity and truth shine out in the world, and because they may serve you in your world as bases for beautiful characters; all these celebrate your memory with true hearts; you are like the Emperor, wherever he comes, there the subjects exult at his approach.

 

We had two days journey to Salzburg, on the first we got as far as Old-Oettingen, where the wonder-working figures of Madonna in a gloomy chapel allures pilgrims from all sides.  The whole place about and the outer walls are covered with votive tablets: it makes a very uncomfortable impression, these witnesses of dreadful destinies and thousandfold misery crowded close together; and besides this a continual streaming of the pilgrims to and fro, with pressing vows and prayers to be heard, every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.  At four o’clock in the morning service commences with music, and continues till night.  The inside of the chapel is entirely lined with black velvet (even the vaulted-roof itself), and more indebted to lighted tapers than day; the altars are of silver, on the walls hang bones and members of silver, and many a silver heart with golden flames or fiery wounds – how strange, Goethe, is man! he brings his pains as offerings to the Godhead, and let these pains have arisen how they will, in God all becomes divine.  Max of Bavaria as large as life (also of silver) is kneeling upon the black steps of the altar, before the raven-black figure of the Madonna, which is entirely clothed in diamonds, two men’s voices, accompanied by the dull organ, are singing hymns to her, the quiet reading of the mass, the people who with tears kiss the steps of the altar, many thousand sighs from all corners, this makes the strange impression.   Where all are praying, I too should pray, thought I, but never, my heart kept continually beating.  I had bought of a beggar at the door a violet-wreath; there stood a little child before the altar with auburn locks, it looked at me so kindly and longed for the wreath: I gave it: it threw it upon the altar, for it was too small to reach up to: the wreath fell exactly at the feet of the Madonna, it was a fortunate cast; it made my heart light.  The stream of pilgrims carried me along out of the opposite door, I waited a long time for the child, I should have liked so to kiss it, and wished to give it a little golden chain, which I wore round my neck, because it had given me so good a sign of you; for exactly at the moment, wen it took the wreath from me, I thought of you; but the child did not come out; the carriage stood before the door, I swung myself up to my coachman’s seat.  At each stage I had a different companion, who took part of the box with me, and at the same time imparted his heart’s matters to me; they always began to timidly, that I got anxious, but wide of the mark; it was always another, not once was it I.

 

Our journey led through a forest of blossoms, the wind scattered them down like rain, the bees flew after the flowers, which I had stuck behind my ear – wasn’t that pleasant?

 

*) Mark of the greatest intimacy.

 

May 26th

 

About Salzburg I have yet to tell you.  The last stage before Laufen, Freiberg sat with me upon the box, smilingly he opened his lips to extol the scene, but with him a word is like the bed of a mine, one layer leads to the other.  It turned to a joyful evening, the valleys spread themselves right and left, as if they were the true kingdom, the ever promised land.  Slowly as spirits, rose here and there a mountain, and gradually sank down again in its sparkling mantle of snow.   We arrived with the night at Salzburg, it was awful to see towering to the sky above the houses the smooth-blasted rocks, which like a sky of earth floated above the town in starlight, - and the lanterns, which with the little people were all flashing through the streets; and lastly the four trumpets, which crashing played the vesper from the church-tower, then all the rocks sounded and returned the hymn in manifold echoes.  Night in this strange region had thrown its magic mantle over us, we did not know how it was that all was tossing and waving, the entire firmament appear to breath; I was delighted with every thing.  You know what it is to step as it were out of oneself, where one has so long toiled and spun, at once into the open air.

 

Now can I tell you of the richness, which was the next day before us? where the curtain gradually parted from before God’s splendour, and one could only wonder that every thing was so simple in its grandeur.  Not one, but a hundred mountains are seen, quite naked from foot to top, not covered by a single object: there above is eternal triumph and exulting; the tempests hover like birds of prey between the clefts, darkening for a moment the sun with their broad wings; this passes so rapidly and yet so solemnly, every body too was in extasy.  Our high spirits expressed themselves in the boldest leaps from the mountains down to the lakes; a thousand jokes were bawled out among the rock-heaps; and thus like the priesthood of Ceres we passed a few delightful days on bread, milk and honey: and lastly to their memory a garnet necklace of mine was broken asunder, each one took a stone and the name of a mountain, which could be seen from where we stood, and called themselves the knights of the Garnet order, installed upon the Watzmann near Salzburg.

 

From here the journey continued to Vienna, the guests there left us; at sun-rise we passed over the Salza; behind the bridge is a large powder-magazine; there they all stood, to give Savigny a last cheer, each one shouted forth one more assurance of love and gratitude to him.  Freiberg, who accompanied us to the next stage, said: “if they would only all so cry, that the magazine should burst, for our hearts already are burst;” and now he told me, what a new life had blossomed forth through Savigny’s means, how all coldness and hostility among the Professors had subsided, or was at least much assuaged, but that his influence had been chiefly salutary for the students, who through him had attained to far more freedom and self-dependence.  Neither can I sufficiently describe to you how great is Savigny’s talent in managing young people: first and foremost he feels a real enthusiasm for their efforts, their application: when any theme, which he proposes to them, is well handled, it makes him thoroughly happy; he would fain impart to each his inmost feelings, he considers their future fate, their destinies, and a bright eagerness of kindness illumines their path: in this respect one may well say of him, that the innocence of his youth is also the guardian angel of his present time, and this is properly his character, love to those, whom he serves with the best powers of his mind and soul: yes, this is truly amiable, and must not amiability alone confirm greatness? – this simple goodness, with which he places himself  upon a level with all in his asthetical erudition, makes him doubly great.  Ah! dear Landshut, with thy whitened gable-roofs, and daubed steeple, with thy fountains, out of whose rusty pipes the water runs but sparingly, around which the students at nightly hours leaped and danced, softly accompanying with flute and guitar, and letting their “good night song” sound from the distant streets! how beautiful was it in winter upon the light snow-carpet, when I went walking with the octogenarian Canon Eixdorfer, my master a through-bass, and an excelling bear-hunter: there he shewed me the tracks of otters upon the snow, and then I was often quite happy and rejoiced to think of the morrow, when he should certainly search for one of these animals for me, and then when I came the next day, and when according to his promise, he should have accompanied me upon an otter-hunt, he made excuses, “to day the otters were certainly not at home;” when I took leave of him, he gave me a strange blessing: he said, “may a good demon accompany you, and always at the right moment give you small coin for the gold and jewels which you possess, with which you can alone obtain that which you want.”  Besides this he promised to catch otters enough for a fur lining; I should come the next year and fetch it.  Ah, I shall never go again to hear Landshut, where we rejoiced when the snow fell and the night wind stormed, as much as when the sun shone gloriously out; where we were all so happy together, where the students gave concerts and made devilish music in the church, and were not at all offended, when we ran away from them.

 

And now I have nothing more remarkable to tell of our journey to Vienna, except that on the next morning I saw the sun rise with a rainbow above it, and in the midst a peacock spreading his tail.

 

Vienna, May 28th

 

When I saw him of whom I will now speak to you, I forgot the whole world.  – Thus too the world vanishes when remembrance seizes me, yes! it vanishes.  My horizon begins at my feet, vaults itself above me, and I stand in the ocean of light which goes forth from thee; and in all stillness I float in calm flight over mountain and dale to thee.  Ah! let all be as it may, shut thy beloved eyes, live in me for a moment, forget what lies between us, the far miles and the long time. – From that point, where I saw thee for the last time, look upon me; - did I but stand before thee! – could I but make it clear to thee! – the deep shudder which shakes me, when for a short time I have gazed upon the world, when I then look behind me into the solitude, and feel how strange all is to me.  How is it, that I nevertheless flourish and blossom in this wilderness? – Whence comes to me the dew, the sap, the warmth, the blessing? – from this love between us, in which I feel myself so lovely. – If I were with thee, I would return thee much for all. – It is Beethoven of whom I will now speak to you, and with whom I have forgotten the world and you: true, I am not ripe for speaking, but I am nevertheless not mistaken when I say (what no one now perhaps understands and believes) that he far surpasses all in mind, and whether we shall ever overtake him? – I doubt it! may he only live till that mighty and sublime enigma, which lies within his spirit, he matured to its highest perfection! yes, may he reach his highest aim, then will he surely leave a key to heavenly knowledge in our hands, which will bring us one step nearer to true happiness.

 

To you I may confess, that I believe in a divine magic, which is the element of mental nature; this magic does Beethoven exercise in his art; all relating to it which he can teach you, is pure magic; each combination is the organisation of a higher existence, and thus too does Beethoven feel himself to be the founder of a new sensual basis in spiritual life.  You will understand what I mean to say by this, and what is true.  Who could replace this spirit? from whom could we expect an equivalent?  The whole business of mankind passes to and fro before him like clock-work; he alone produces freely from out himself the unforeseen, the uncreated: what is intercourse with the world to him, who, ere the sun rise is already at his sacred work, and who after sun-set, scarcely looks around him, for forgets to nourish his body, and is borne in his flight on the streams of inspiration, far beyond the shores of flat every-day life? he says himself, “when I open my eyes, I cannot but sigh, for what I see is against my religion, and I am compelled to despise the world, which has no presentiment, that music is a higher Revelation than all their wisdom and philosophy: - music is the wine, which inspires new creations, and I am the Bacchus, who presses out this noble wine for mankind and makes them spirit-drunk; and then when they are sober again – what have they not fished up to bring with them to dry land.  -   I have no friend: I must live with myself alone, but I well know that God is nearer to me in my art than to others; even St. Stephen’s tower itself.  Beethoven says, “Ah! what should you see there? I will fetch you, and towards evening we will go through the Schonbrunn alley.  Yesterday, I walked with him in a splendid garden, in full blossom, all the hot-houses open, the scent was overpowering; Beethoven stood still in the burning sun, and said, “Goethe’s poems maintain a powerful sway over me, not only by their matter but also their rhythm; I am disposed and excited to compose by this language, which ever forms itself as through Spirits to more exalted order, already carrying within itself the mystery of harmonies.  Then, from the focus of inspiration I feel myself compelled to let the melody stream forth on all sides – I follow it – passionately overtake it again – I see it escape me, vanish amidst the crowd of varied excitements – soon I seize upon it again with renewed passion; I cannot part from it, - with quick rapture I multiply it in every form of modulation – and at the last moment I triumph over the first musical thought, - see now – that’s a Symphony; - yes, Music is indeed the mediator between the spiritual and sensual life.  I should like to speak with Goethe upon this: if he would understand me? – Melody is the sensual life of poetry.  Do not the spiritual contents of a poem become sensual feeling through melody? – do we not in Mignon’s song perceive its entire sensual frame of mind through melody? and does not this perception excite again to new productions? – There, the spirit extends itself to unbounded universality, where, all in all forms itself into a bed for the stream of feelings, which take their rise in the simple musical thought, and which else would die unperceived away: this is harmony, this is expressed in my symphonies, the blending of various forms rolls on as in a bed to its goal.  Then one feels, that an Eternal, an Infinite, never quite to be embraced, lies in all that is spiritual; and although in my works I have always a feeling of success, yet I have an eternal hunger, - that what seemed exhausted with the last stroke of the drum with which I drive my enjoyment, my musical convictions into the hearers – to begin again like a child.  Speak to Goethe of me, tell him, he should bear my symphonies; he would then allow me to be right in saying that Music is the only unembodied entrance into a higher sphere of knowledge, which possesses man, but he will never be able to possess it. – One must have rhythm in the mind, to comprehend music in its essential being; music gives presentiment, inspiration of heavenly knowledge, and that which for spirit feels sensual in it, is the embodying of spiritual knowledge.  – Although the Spirits live upon music, as one lives upon air, yet it is something else spiritually to understand it – but the more the soul draws out of it its sensual nourishment, the more ripe, does the spirit become for a happy intelligence with it.  – But few attain to this, for as thousands engage themselves for love’s sake, and among these thousands, love does not once reveal itself, although they all occupy themselves of love, in like manner do thousands hold communion with music, and do not possess its revelation: signs of an elevated moral sense form too the groundwork of music as of every art.  All genuine invention is a moral progress. – To subject oneself to music’s unsearchable laws; by virtue of these laws to curb and guide the spirit, so that it pours forth these revelations, this is the isolating principle of Art; to be dissolved in its revelations, this is abandonment to Genius, which tranquilly exercises its authority over the delirium of unbridled powers; and thus grants to fancy the highest efficacy.  Thus does art ever represent Divinity, and that which stands in human relation to it is Religion; what we acquire through art is from God, a divine suggestion which sets up a goal for human capacities which the spirit attains.

 

We do not know what grants us Knowledge; the firmly enclosed seed needs the moist, warm, electric soil to grow, think, express itself.  Music is the electric soil, in which the spirit lives, thinks, invents.  Philosophy is the precipitation of its electric spirit, and its necessity, which will ground every thing upon a first principle, is supplied by music; and although the spirit be not master of that which it creates through music, yet is it blessed in this creation; in this manner too is every creation of art, independent, mightier than the artist himself, and returns by its appearance, back to the divine, and is only connected with men, in so much as it bears witness to the divine mediation in him.

 

Music gives to the spirit relation to harmony.  A thought abstracted, has still the feeling of communion, of affinity in the Spirit: thus each though in Music is in the most intimate, inseparable affinity with the communion of Harmony, which is Unity.

 

The electric excites the spirit to musical, fluent, streaming production.

 

I am of electric nature. – I must break off with my unwitnessed wisdom, else I shall miss the rehearsal; write to Goethe about me, if you understand me; but I can answer nothing, and I will willingly let myself be instructed by him.” – I promised him, to write to you all, as well as I could understand it. – e took me to a grand rehearsal, with full orchestra – there I sat in the wide, unlighted space, in a box quite alone; single gleams stole through the crevices and knot-holes, in which a stream of bright-sparks were dancing, like so many streets of light, people by happy spirits.

 

There then I saw this mighty spirit exercise his rule.  O Goethe! no Emperor and no King feels such entire consciousness of his power, and that all power proceeds from him, as this Beethoven, who just now in the garden, in vain sought out the source, from which he receives it all: die I understand him as I feel him, then I should know everything.  There he stood so firmly resolved – his gestures, his countenance, expressed the completion of his creation; he prevented each error, each misconception; not a breath was voluntary, all, by the genial presence of his Spirit set in the most regulated activity. – One could prophesy that such a spirit, in its later perfection, would step forth again as a ruler of the earth.

 

Yesterday evening I wrote every thing down, this morning I read it to him: he asked, “Did I say that? – well then I have had a rapture;” he read it once more attentively, and made the erasures, writing between the lines, for he is interested that you should understand him.

 

Give me the delight of a speedy answer, which shall prove to Beethoven that you reverence him.  It was always our plan to talk upon music, and I would have done so, but now I perceive through Beethoven that I am not capable.

 

BETTINE

 

My address is Erdberg-street in Berkenstock’s house; for a fortnight yet, your letter may find me here.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Your letter, dearly beloved child, came to me in a happy hour.  You have collected yourself bravely, in order to place before me, in its accomplishments as well as its endeavours, in its wants as well as the superfluity of its gifts, a great and beautiful mind: it has given me high pleasure, to receive into myself as it were the reflection of a truly genial spirit. Without wishing to classify him, a master-piece of psychological calculation is nevertheless necessary, to come at the real product of accordance: in the mean time I feel nothing contradictory to that which I could understand from your sudden “explosions:” on the contrary, I may warrant you an internal connexion of my nature, with what can be understood by these manifold and genial expressions; the common human understanding would perhaps find contradictions therein, but what such a demon-possessed person utters a layman must respect, and it must be the same to speak from feeling or from knowledge; for here the Gods dispose and scatter seeds of a further intelligence, which it is desirable may come to undisturbed perfection, until in the mean time it will become general; the fogs must separate before the human mind.  Remember me cordially to Beethoven, and say that I would do much to make his personal acquaintance, as then an exchange of thoughts and feelings would surely bring the best advantage; perhaps you may so far prevail with him as to engage him to meet me at Carlsbad, where I go almost every year; and there I should have the best leisure of hearing and learning from him.  To advise him would even by more intelligent people than myself be mischievous, as his genius inspires him, and gives him often as if by lightning, a brightness, whilst we remain in the dark, and scarcely guess from which side daylight will break.

 

It would give me great pleasure to have the two songs which Beethoven has set to music, but they must be written clearly; I am very curious to have them.  These are my best enjoyments, for which I am ever grateful, when such a song of earlier emotions, will be rendered anew sensual in my mind, by melody, as Beethoven just maintains.

 

I give thee the best thanks for thy communications, and in the manner in which you give me such pleasure.  As all succeeds to thee, as all becomes to thee instructive enjoyment, what wishes for you should be added, but that it may be so everlastingly, - everlasting also for me, who do not mistake the advantage of being numbered among thy friends?  Remain therefore, what till now you have been, faithfully, although you have so frequently changed abode, and the objects around you have changed and become embellished.

 

The Duke also greets, and wishes you not to forget him.  I hope to have a letter from you at my residence at Carlsbad, at the sign of the three Moors.

 

June 6th 1810

G.

 

TO GOETHE

 

Dearest Friend! as far as it concerned him, I have imparted your beautiful letter to Beethoven: he was full of delight and exclaimed: “If any one can give him an understanding of music it is I.  The idea of searching for you at Clarsbad he seizes with enthusiasm, he struck his head and sad, “could not I have done that before? but I have already thought of it, I have only desisted through timidity, which often mocks my purposes, as if I were no real man, but now I am no longer afraid of Goethe."” You may therefore reckon upon seeing him next year.

 

And now I shall only answer the last words of your letter, from which I “gather honey.”  All things around me change, it is rue, but do not grow in beauty; the most beautiful is still, that I know of you, and nothing would delight me if you were not, to whom I may impart it: and if you doubt it, then you will take care of it, and I too am happier than all numbered and unnumbered friends could make me.  My Wolfgang! you do not number among these friends, rather would I number none.

 

Greet the Duke – lay me at his feet, tell him that I have not forgotten him, nor one moment that I passed there with him.  That he allowed me to sit upon the stool, upon which his foot had rested, that he led me light his cigar, that he set my hair-braids free from the claws of the mischievous monkey, and did not laugh at all although it was very funny – no I shall never forget how beggingly he spoke to the monkey: then too that evening at super, when he held a peach to the earwig that it might creep in, and as another threw the little animal off the stalk in order to crush it to death, he turned to me and said; “you are not so ill-natured, you would not have done so!” – I collected myself in this ticklish matter, and said, one must not suffer earwigs to be with princes? he asked, must one avoid those too who are cunning ones? for in that case I must take care of you:” then there was my promenade with him, to count the young brood of ducks, and you came up and had already wondered at our patience, long before we had finished – and thus could I call up before you, each moment, feature for feature, which was granted me in his presence.  Whoever can come near him, must be happy, for he lets each have his way, and yet one feels that he is there; granting the most delightful liberty, and not disinclined to the “dominion of mind,” while at the same time he is sure to away by his generous blandness. -  This can extend to great and general matters, as I have experienced it in small and individual ones.  He is great the Duke, and yet ever growing: he is always the same and gives every proof  that he can surpass himself.  Such is the man who has a lofty genius, he is conformable to it, he increases till he becomes one with it.

 

Thank him in my name that he thinks on me, describe to him my tender reverence.  When it shall be again granted me to see him, I will take the utmost possible advantage of his graciousness.

 

To morrow we pack up and go amongst nothing but Bohemian villages.  How often has your mother said when I made all sorts of protects, “they are but Bohemian villages.”*) and now I am curious to see such a one.  Both the songs of Beethoven accompany this, the Other two are by me; Beethoven has seen them and paid me many compliments about them, as, that if I had devoted myself to this art, I might have built high hope upon it; but I only touch it in flight, for my art is laughing and sighing in a breath, and beyond this I have none.

 

Adieu!  I have still much to expect in the Bohemian palace of Bukowan.

 

BETTINE

 

*) Proverb.

 

TO GOETHE

 

Bukowan, Prague District.  July.

 

How comfortable is it, how lovely to think on you, beneath this rook of pines and birches, which keep the hot mid-day at respectful distance!  The heavy fir-apples shine and sparkle with their resin like a thousand little day-stars, but make it above only the hotter, and here below the cooler.  The blue heaven covers my lofty narrow house; I measure its distance, as it appears so unreachable, yet many have borne heaven in their breast: I too feel as it I had held it fast for a moment, this wide-extended heaven above me, stretching over mount and dale; over all streams and bridges, through all rocks and caverns, over vale and plain, till your heart, there it sinks down together with me.

 

Does it only lie in youth, that it so fervently wills what it will? is it not so with you? do you not long after me? would you not sometimes fain be with me?  Longing is, after all the right track; it wakes a more exalted life, gives clear intimation of yet unknown truths, destroys all doubt, and is the surest prophet of good fortune.

 

To you all realms are opened, Nature, Science, from all these divine truths stream forth to answer the questions of your longing. – What have I? You! I answer to me a thousand questions!

 

Here in the deep ravine I am thinking all sorts of things – I have ventured down a break-neck path, how shall I again ascent these smooth walls of rock, on which I in vain seek a trace of my descent? – Self-reliance is reliance on God, he will not leave me here alone.  - I lie here beneath fresh tall herbs, which cool my hot bosom, a thousand little insects and spiders, crawl over me, all is busily swarming about me.  The lizards slide out of their moist holes, and life their little heads and look astonished at me, with their knowing eyes, and then slip hastily back; - they tell one another that I am there – and the favourite of the Poet – new ones continually come and peep.

 

Ah! beautiful summer noon!  I need not think; the spirit looks leisurely out into the crystal air. -  No wit, o virtue; naked and bare is the soul, in which God recognizes his image!

 

The whole time has been rainy, to-day the sun is burning again.  Now I am lying here amidst stones, upon the soft moss of many past springs; the young firs exude their warm resin and touch my head with their branches.  I must look at every little frog, defend myself against grass-hoppers and humble-bees – therewith I am so idle – what shall I prattle to you here, where a breath stirs the foliage, through which the sun plays upon my closed lids? – Good Master! – hear in these whispers how you bless my solitude; you who know all and feel all and know how little words obey the inward sense.  – When shall I see you again? – When? – That I may just lean a little upon you and rest myself, idle child that I am.

 

BETTINE

 

As I yesterday recovered from my indolence and came to myself, the shadows were already grown long; I was obliged to lift myself out of my abyss by help of the young birch-trees, which grew out of the fissures of the rock: the castle of Bukowan with its red roofs and beautiful turrets I could discern now here, I knew not into which path to strike and resolved to follow some goats, which brought me to some people with whom they dwelt in the same but: I made them understand that I wished to go to Bukowan, they accompanied me, the day went to sleep, the moon arose, I sung, because I could not converse with them, afterwards they sang too and thus late in the evening I arrived, once or twice I felt afraid, that the people might lead me astray, and was happy enough when I was sitting in my little turret chamber.

 

I am not without employment, lonely as it is: one morning I made several hundred little bricks – building is my delight : my brother Christian is a real genius, he can do every thing; the model of a small smith is just finished, which is now to be executed upon a large scale.  My brother’s gift of invention is an inexhaustible spring, and I am his best workman as far as  my powers permit: several fancy buildings stand around us in small models in the great saloon, and there are so many problems which I have to solve, that I am often quite tired out at evening: yet it does not prevent me, from awaiting the sun rise upon the Peteetsch, a mountain which is as round as an oven, and from this circumstance derives its name, (for peteetsch in Bohemian means oven), it is somewhat elevated above a hundred of the mountains, which surround it like a large encampment of tents: then I see again and again the world awake to light: alone and solitary as I am, there is strife in my soul: were I forced to remain longer, here, beautiful as it is, I could not bear it.  A short time ago, I was in the great Vienna-town, a bustle and life amongst the people as if it would never cease, here the luxuriant days of spring were passed in company, in fine clothes, we went socially about.  Each day brought new joy and each delight was a source of interesting communications; above all this Beethoven was prominent, the great superspiritual one, who introduced us into an invisible world, and our impulse to the powers of life, so that one felt the confined “self” widened to an universe of spirits.  Pity! that he is not here in this solitude, that in his voice I might forget the eternal chirping of yon cricket, which does not cease to remind me, that nothing but its cry breaks the solitude. – To-day I have exercised myself a whole hour in trying with a stick to sling a garland of roses upon a high stone crucifix, which stands upon the road, it was in vain, the garland was unleaved, I sat down fatigued upon a bench, till evening came, and then I went home.  Can you believe that it made me very sad, to go so lonely home, and that I felt as if I were connected with nothing in the world, and that on my way I thought on your mother, how in the summer when I came in from a long walk through the Eschenheim gate; I ran up stairs to her, threw flowers and herbs, all that I had gathered, into the middle of the room, and seated myself close by her side, laying my wearied head upon her lap: she said, “have you brought the flowers so far, and now do you throw them all away?” then Lizzy was obliged to bring her a glass, and she herself arranged the bouquet; upon each single flower she made her remarks, and said much which was a delightful ti me, as if a dear hand caressed me; she was pleased that I brought all sorts, corn-ears and grass-seeds, and berries on the branch, tall umbels, beautifully formed leaves, chafers, moss, pods, gay pebbles, she called it a pattern-card of nature, and always preserved it for several days: sometimes I brought her chosen fruits and forbade her to eat them, because they were so beautiful: she directly broke a prettily striped peach and said, “one must give every thing its way, now this peach won’t leave me in peace till it’s eaten.”  In everything which she did, I believed I could recognize you; her peculiarities, her views were to me dear enigmas, in which I guessed at you.

 

If I still had your mother, I should know where to be at home, I would prefer communion with her to all others, she made me sure in thought and deed, she often forbade me something, but if I nevertheless listened to my caprice, she defended me against all, and then in her enthusiasm she collected strength like the smith, who has the glowing iron upon his anvil: she said, “he who listens to the voice within his breast, will not fail his destiny, a tree shoots out of his soul, on which every virtue, every power blossoms, and which yields the fairest qualities, like delicious apples; and religion does not stand in his way, but is adapted to his nature; but he who does not hear this voice, is blind and deaf, and must let himself be led by others, to where their prejudices have already banished them.” “What?” said she, “I would rather come to shame before the world, than let myself be assisted by a Philistine over a dangerous stile; after all there is nothing dangerous but fear itself, this defrauds one of all.”  During the last year of her life she was just most lively, and spoke about everything with equal interest; from the most simple conversations were developed the most solemn and noble truths, which might have served as a talisman for one’s entire life. She said, “Man must choose for himself the best place, and this he must maintain during his whole life, and must risk all his powers upon it, then alone is he noble and truly great.   I do not mean an outward but an inward place of honour, to which this inward voice always points; could we only govern ourselves, as Napoleon governs the world, the world would renew itself in every generation and soar above itself.  Thus it always goes on to the old way, because none carries it further in himself than he who was before him, and one is already tired, at the very beginning; yes! it must be felt directly, although one sees it for the first time, that wisdom is old and threadbare stuff.  The French soldiers, quartered upon her, were obliged to relate to her much about Napoleon, and she felt with them all the shudder of enthusiasm: she said “he is the right one, who finds echo with delight in all hearts, there is nothing more exalted, then for man to make himself felt in his fellow-men, and so does bliss ascent through men and spirits, as through an electric chain, to pass at last like a spark into the heavenly realm.  Poesy is, to save the sublime, the simple, the great from the claws of the Philistines; every thing is originally poesy, and the poet is there to call this forth again, because every thing eternizes itself by poesy alone.”  Your mother’s way of thinking impressed itself deeply into me, I can answer every thing to myself in her way; she was so decided, that general opinion had not the last influence upon her, for all sprung from such deep feeling: she often said to me, that her preference for me arose only from the perverted opinions of other people, she directly felt as if she should understand me better.  Now I will call every thing to mind, for my memory will not be less true to me than my heart.  On Whitsuntide in her last year, I came from the Rheingau to visit her, she was pleasantly surprized, we drove together into the cherry grove; it was pleasant weather, the blossoms whirled down upon us like snow, I told her of a similar beautiful  holiday, when I was thirteen years old; then in the afternoon I sat down alone upon a grass-seat, and a kitten laid itself upon my lap in the sun and fell asleep, and that I might not disturb it, I kept my seat till the sun went down, then the kitten jumped away.  Your mother laughed and said, “at that time you knew nothing of Wolfgang, then you were pleased to play with the cat.”

 

Yes! had I but your mother still! with her one needed no great events, a sun-beam, a snow-storm, the sound of a post-horn awakened feelings, remembrances and thoughts.  I must blush that I am so timid before you.  Do you not love me, and receive me as a good gift? – and can one receive a gift without abandoning one’sself to the gift?  and is thus a gift, which is not given entirely and for every?  Does a step also move forwards, which does not lead into a new life? does one go back, who is not fallen away from eternal life?  Look now, this is a very simple problem, that one should not be timid, because what is eternal has no limit. – Who will set bounds to love? who can set bounds to the spirit?  Who has ever loved that has reserved anything for himself?  Reservation is self-love.  Earthly life is a prison, the key to liberty is love, it leads us out of earthly into heavenly life.  Who can be set free from himself without love? The flames devour what is earthly in order to win a boundless space for its spirit, which soars into ether; the sigh which dissolves in divinity has no limit.  The spirit alone has eternal efficacy, eternal life, all else dies:  Good night, good night, it is near the hour of spirits.

 

Your child, who clings close to you,

Through fear of her own thoughts

 

TO BETTINE

 

Since you in the fulness of interesting events and amusements of the most populous city, have not neglected sending me such rich communication, it would be unjust, if I did not send over to your hidden retreats a sign of my living and love.  Where are you hidden?  It cannot be far off: the lavender flowers strewed in your letter without date, were not yet faded, when I received it, they import that we are nearer to each other, than we could have conjectured.  Do not neglect in your universal doings and strange attempts, to erect a temple of your own bricks to the Goddess Opportunity, and think, that one must boldly grasp her three golden locks, to assure one’sself her favour.  I have you already with me, in your letters, in your memorials and lovely melodies, and above all in your Diary, with which I daily busy myself in order more and more to master your rich exalted fancy; yet would I fain tell you with my own lips, how dear you are to me.

 

Your clear views upon mean and things, upon past and future, are dear and useful to me, and I deserve too, that you grant me the best. – Remembrance true and full of love, has perhaps a better influence upon destiny and the mind, than the favour of the stars themselves for which we do not yet know whether we have not to thank the fair orisons of love.

 

Write down everything about my mother, it is important for me; she had head and heart, for action as well as feeling.

 

All that you have seen and heard upon your journey write to me, let not solitude attack you maliciously, you have the power to make the best of her.

 

It would be delightful if the dear Bohemian mountain procured me your dear presence.  Farewell, dearest child, continue to live with me, and do not le me miss your dear and ample letters.

 

Goethe

 

TO GOETHE

 

Your letter was quickly here, I believed I could catch your breath in it; for which I had set a trap, even before I had read the letter: I had also been at the map.  – If I were to depart from here to-day, to-morrow I should lay at your feet, and as I recognize in the soft natural tone of your writing, you would not let me pine there long, you would soon draw me to your heart, and in stormy joy (like cymbals and drums, with quick roll) a finale piercing through every nerve, would precede the sweet repose, which blesses me in your presence.  To whom discover it? – The little journey to you? – Ah no, I will not tell it; no one will understand how blessed it could make me; and then it is so usual to condemn the joy of enthusiasm, - they call it madness and nonsense. Believe not that I dare to say how I love you; what one does not conceive, one easily finds mad: I must be silent.  But to the magnificent Goddess who makes the Philistines her play things, I have already (at your hint and to bound my own impatience) with bricks of my own manufacture, laid the foundation of a small temple.  Here I draw you the ground-plan: a square hall; in the middle of its four walls, doors small and narrow, inside this hall a second one raised upon steps, which has also a door in the middle of each wall: this latter space stands however obliquely, so that the corners are turned towards the four doors of the outer hall: within this a third square space, which is also elevated upon steps, has but one door and standing parallel with the outermost hall; the three corners which are cut off by the inmost space from the second, and join them by large openings, while the fourth corner forms the entrance to the door, represent the gardens of the Hesperides, in the midst upon a soft-cushioned throne, the Goddess: carelessly reclining, she shoots at random, in play only, at the golden apples of the Hesperides, who looked on with sorrow, as the apples pierced by the chance arrows, fly over the guarded limits.  O Goethe! who outside chooses the right door, and without long pondering makes way through the hall to the innermost temple, boldly seizing the apple upon the flying arrow, how happy is he!

 

Your mother said, “all fair inventions of the human mind, even if they be not practicable on earth, yet will not be lost in heaven, where everything exists without body only in spirit.  God has said, “let there be,” and therewith created he the whole beautiful world; even so is this power born in man; what he invents in spirit will by this power, be created in heaven.  For man builds his heaven himself, and his noble inventions adorn the eternal, unending “yonder;” in this sense then do I erect the fair temple to our Goddess, I decorate its walls with lovely colours and marble statues, I lay out the floor with variegated stones, I adorn it with flowers, and wandering through the halls I fell them with the fragrance of incense; but upon the pinnacles I prepare for the fortune-bringing stork a convenient nest, and thus I pass my impatient time, which throws me from one excitement into another. –

 

Ah! I dare not listen to the distance as I used to do, when in wood-rustling solitude, I hearkened to the twitter of the birds, that I might discover their nests.  Now at mid-day I sit alone in the garden, and would fain only feel – not think – what you are to me; then comes the wind so softly, as if it came from thee; lays itself so freshly on my heart – plays with the dust at my feet, and gives chase to the dancing midges – it caresses my burning cheeks, flatteringly keeps off the heat of the sun; on the untrimmed vine-trellis, it lifts the tendrils and whispers among the leaves, then in haste sweeps along the fields over the bending flowers.  Did it bring a message?  have I rightly understood it?  Is it certain? – was it to give me a thousand greetings from my friend, who not far from here waits on me to bid me a thousand times welcome? – Ah, could I but ask it once, it is gone! – let it go to others who also pine; I turn to him who alone holds my heart, renews my life with his spirit – with the breath of his words.

 

Monday

 

Don’t inquire about the date, I have no almanach, and I must confess to you, it is as if it would not agree with my love, to trouble myself about the time.  Ah, Goethe!  I like neither to look behold nor before me.  Of the heavenly moment, time is the executioner; the sharp sword which he waves over it, I see with shy foreboding glitter: no, I will not inquire about time, when I feel that Eternity would not 3extend my enjoyment beyond – the – limits of the moment; but yet if you will know, in a year hence perhaps – or in a later time, when it was, that the sun burned me brown and I did not perceive it, in deeply musing on thee, - then mark that it is just when the gooseberries are ripe.  The speculating mind of my brother will try its skill in an excelling “gooseberry-wine,”  I help to press.

 

Yesterday evening we held vintage by moon-light, numberless night-moths were flying round my head; with this nocturnal harvest we roused up a whole world of dreamy creatures, they were quite confused.  As I entered my chamber I found thousands which fluttered around the light; I was sorry for them; I wanted to help them out again, I held the light a long while before the window, and spent half the night in this way; I spared myself no trouble. – Do you too, Goethe, have patience with me when I flutter around you and will not part from the beams of your splendour – perhaps you would also fain “light me home.”*)

 

BETTINE

 

*) German proverb.

 

Tuesday

 

This morning Christian, who also studies medicine, has cured a tame quail, which runs about my room and had become ill; he tried to give it a drop of opium, unawares he trod upon it, so that it lay there quite flat and dead.  He picked it quickly up, and rubbed it again round with both hands, then away it hopped as if nothing had happened, and its illness is also past, it sits no more huddled up, it pecks, drinks, bathes and sings, all are astonished at the quail.

 

Wednesday

 

To-day we went into the fields to see the effect of a machine, with which Christian in time of great drought, will water the corn; a wide-extending shower of pearls played in the sun and gave us much delight.  With this brother of mine I love to walk; he saunters on before me, and finds every where something remarkable; he knows the small insects, their manner of life, their dwellings, and how they support themselves and multiply: he can name very plant, and knows its origin and properties; oftentimes he lies all day on one spot musing, - who knows all that then passes through his mind? in no city would there be so much to be done, as his ingenuity hatches every moment; now I am with the blacksmith, then, with the carpenter, or mason, transacting subtle matters for him; with one I blow the bellows, with the other I hold line and level.  With the needle and scissors too I must be at work: he has invented a travelling cap, the point of which unfolds itself into a parasol, and a travelling carriage round as a drum, lined with lamb-skin, which moves alone: he makes poems too: he has written a comedy at which one laughs with heart and soul; he plays on the flute at dead of night, beautiful brilliant variations of his own composition, which sound through the whole district of Prague.  He teaches me to ride, and manage my horse like a man; he makes me ride without saddle, and wonders that I keep my seat in a gallop.  The poney will not let me fall, he bites my foot in play to give me courage, he is perhaps an enchanted prince who I please.  Christian teaches me also to fence, with the left as well as right hand, and to shoot at a mark – a large sunflower; all this I learn with zeal, that my life may not be too stupid, when war breaks out again; this evening we went shooting, and shot some butterflies, I brought down two at one shot.

 

Thus the day passes quickly; at first I was afraid, by too long leisure I should write too long letters or molest you with speculative thoughts upon God and religion, having at Landshut read much in the Bible and in Luther’s works.  Now all is for me as round as the glove, where there is nothing to fear, because we can nowhere fall off; your songs, I sing in my walks through the fields, the melodies come unsought, and I give them the right rhythm; in the wilderness I make great steps, that is to say bold leaps from one crag to another.  I have discovered a little trysting place of squirrels, beneath a tree lay a great heap of three-cornered nuts, upon the tree were sitting at least a dozen squirrels which threw the shells upon my head: I kept still and saw through the boughs their ballet-capers and mimic dance; what one sees consumed with such delight gives one also an irresistible appetite.  I gathered a handkerchief full of these nuts, which one calls beech nuts, and nibbled away at them the whole night like the squirrels; how prettily do the animals of the wood feed, how graceful are their motions, and how is the nature of their food described in their movements!  One sees directly that the goat likes sour herbs, for it smacks its lips.  I don’t like to see men eat, I feel ashamed.  The smell of the kitchen where all sorts of dishes are prepared, vexes me; there is stewing, roasting and larding – perhaps you don’t know how this is. - It is an enormously large needle, threaded with bacon, and with this the meat is sewed, then the noble and the learned, who govern the state, seat themselves at table and chew in company.  At Vienna when they made out the pardon of the Tyrolese for the revolution (which they themselves had plotted) and sold Hofer to the French, everything was settled at dinner: with drunken courage, all was arranged, without any particular stings of conscience.

 

The diplomatists have the cunning of the devil, but the devil makes them his butt; that one can see in their foolish faces, upon which the devil paints all their intrigues.  Wherein then does the highest dignity lie, but in serving mankind? what splendid theme for the sovereign, that all children come and pray to him: “give us our daily bread!” – and that he can say, “there it is! take all, for my need is only that ye are cared for;” yes verily! what could one wish to have, except to hold it for others, this would be the best sinking fund: but they have not paid the debts of the poor Tyrolese.  Ah what is all this to me, the postman sets off and I have written nothing of all that I had to say to you; ah! if it might only be that we soon meet, it surely will happen yes it must.  Then we will let all worldly matters rest and conscientiously dispose of each minute.*)

 

BETTINE

 

*) Here occurs a break in the correspondence.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Teplitz

 

Your letters, lovely Bettine, are of that kind, that one always believes the last to be the most interesting.  So it was with the pages which you brought with you, and which on the morning of your departure I read and read again – but then came your last which surpasses all the others.*)  If you can thus continue to surpass yourself, do so.  You have taken so much away with you, that it is just you send something from out your far home.  Fare well!

 

GOETHE

 

Your next letter I                                                                                                   By Captain lost

must beg you to send ac-                                                                                                   at

cording to this direction;                                                                                                    Dresden.

how ominous!  Woe’s

me!  what will it contain.

 

TO GOETHE

 

October 17th

 

Do not accuse me of having taken so much away with me, for truly I feel myself so impoverished, that I look around on every side for something to which I may cling:  give me something to do for which I need no daylight, no communication with men, and which will give me courage to be alone.  This place does not please me:  here are no heights from which one could look into the distance.

 

October 18th

 

I once ascended a mountain – Ah! – what weighs upon my heart? – trifles, says the world.  – Write connectedly? – I could not for my life bring out the truth: since we sat together at Teplitz, how should I write at length of what the day brings with it? life is only beautiful when I am with you. – No I can tell you nothing connected, spell your way through it as you used to do through my prattle.  Do I not always write what I have already said a hundred thousand times?  Some who came from Dresden, told me much of your in-comings and out goings, exactly as if they would say: “your tutelary saint was a guest at other people’s hearths, and found a home.  Zelter has received your picture and has laid it against his iron grey cheek, I look into the world and in this varying fools’ mirror, I often see your picture, fondled by fools; you may easily suppose that this does not please me.  You and Schiller were friends and your friendship was based in the realm of the mind: but Goethe! these after-ties seem to me exactly like the mourning train of a lofty Past trailed through all the dirt of common life. – When I prepare myself to write to you and turn my thoughts into myself, then ever occur to me the different moments of my life, which echoed so tranquilly and intelligibly within my soul: even as to a painter appears similar moments in Nature, which he has once painted with delight, so do I now think of the twilight evening in the hot month of August, how you sat at the window, and I stood before you, and how we exchanged thoughts, I had gazed sharp as an arrow, into your eye, and there I clung, piercing my way deeper and deeper, and we were both silent, and you drew your fingers through my loosened hair.  Ah! Goethe, then you asked me, if I would think of you in future by the light of the stars, and I promised you; and now we are in the middle of October, and I have already often looked at the stars and have thought of you, and a cold shudder runs over me; and you who have banished my gaze to the stars; think how often I must gaze above, then write daily anew in the stars, “how you love me;” that I do not despair, but that comfort may shine down from the stars, now that we are not together.  A year ago, at this season I took a long walk and remained sitting on a hill: there above I played with the glittering sand, upon which the sun was shining and jerked the seed out of the dried pods; by evening red, struggling with the mists, I went and overlooked whole countries.  I was free at heart, for my love to you makes me free. – I feel sometimes so anxious, that whilst the refreshing air made me once so strong, I might almost say clever, I do not always walk, always wander beneath the free sky and converse with Nature.  A storm blast embraces with the greatest speed whole valleys, it touches all, moves all, and who perceives it is seized with enthusiasm.  Might Nature leaves no space and needs no space; what she surrounds with her magic circle is fixed by enchantment.  O Goethe, you are also fixed there, in no word, in no breath of your poems does she set you free.  And again I must kneel down before this incarnation of Nature in thee, and must love and desire you, as I do all Nature.

 

I would have said much to you, but was called away, and to day October 29th I return once more to my writing.  – It is every where tranquil, or rather void.  That truth exist, no one is requisite, but that truth be varied in them, all mankind is requisite.  Man! whose frame is so penetrated by the beauty of your soul, how dare I thus love body and soul together! – often do I think to myself, I would fain be better and greater, that I might justify my claims upon you; but can I?  Then must I think on you, see you before me, and be nothing, if love may not be accounted to me as desert! – such love is not unfruitful. – And yet I dare not think; it would be my death! – would it matter? yes indeed!  I have a cradle in they heart, and who steals me out of it, be it death or life, robs thee of a child.  – I would fain have one pillow with you, - but a hard one; tell no one, that I should like to lie near you, in profoundest tranquillity by your side.  There are many outlets and passages in the world, lonely woods and caverns without end, but none is so fitted for sleep, for well-being as the lap of God; I imagine it to myself broad and comfortable, and that one rests his head upon the other’s breast, and that a warm breath sweeps over the heart, - like what I should so wish to feel – your breath.

 

BETTINE

 

(Breach in the correspondence).

 

TO BETTINE

 

I am now one more, dear Bettine, settled in Weimar, and would long ago have thanked you for your dear pages, (which have all arrived by degrees), particularly for your remembrance of August 27th.  Instead therefore of telling you how I am, concerning which there is not much to say, I make you a friendly request.  Since you will not cease from liking to write to me, and I shall not cease from liking to read, you might besides that do me a kindness.  I will confess to you, that I am about to write my “Confessions,” whether in form of a novel or a poem cannot be determined beforehand, but in either case I need your assistance.  My good mother has departed, and so have many others who could have called up the past which I have almost forgotten.  Now you have lived a fair time with my dear mother, have repeatedly heard her fables and anecdotes, and bear and cherish all in a fresh creative memory.  Therefore set down directly and commit to writing all that refers to me and mine, and you will thus greatly delight and oblige me.  Send something from time to time, and therewith speak of yourself and neighbourhood.  Love me till we meet again.


Weimar, October 25th 1810

 

G.

 

TO GOETHE

 

November 4th

 

You have always a cause for writing to me, but I have retained nothing, nothing noticed save the end: “Love me till we meet again.”  Had you not added these last words, I should perhaps have taken notice of the preceding ones; this solitary sign of friendliness has overwhelmed me, has held me captive to a thousand sweet thoughts from yesterday evening to this evening.  From all this you may conclude, that your letter about twenty four hours ago, brought fresh air into my chamber: but ever since I have been like a dormouse, for which the winter-world is too bad, and have buried myself in the warm soil of my own thoughts.  What you request has always this worth for me, that I consider it worthy to be granted, I willingly therefore deliver into your custody the nourishment, the life of two stirring years; it is little in respect of much, but infinite, because unique.  You yourself might perhaps wonder, that I bore things into the temple, and consecrated my existence by them, though one finds them in all places – on every hedge one may gather blossoms in spring, but what, dear friend, when imperceptible as the blossom may be, it continue after years to scent and bloom? – Your mother bore you in her seventeenth year, and in her seventy-seventh she could still live over again all that had occurred in your earliest years; and she sowed the young field, (which had a good soil, but no flowers) with these eternal blossoms: and thus I may well be pleasant to you, since I am as it were a sweet scenting garden of these remembrances, among which your mother’s tenderness is the fairest blossom, and – dare I say it? – my constancy the most powerful one.  I feared already long since, that what had taken such deep root with your mother and blossomed in me, would at last let fall its sweet fruit from the lofty stem upon the earth  Now listen! – In Munich I became acquainted with a young physician, his face tanned and disfigured by the small-pox, poor as Job, strange to all, of lofty extended nature, but on that very account close and reserved, could not conceive the devil as an absolute evil, but yet as a fellow with two horns and cloven foot (naturally one can lay hold of the horns, if one has courage), the road of his enthusiasm did not lead by a heaven’s ladder, but a hen’s ladder to his chamber, where at his own cost he hungered with the poor, the sick, joyfully divided his mite with them, caused his young enthusiastic art to prosper upon them: he had been dumb from disease till his fourth year; a clap of thunder loosed his tongue; at fifteen he was to have served as a soldier; having tamed the General’s wild horse he was exempted; for having cured a madman, he received a small inconvenient place at Munich: in this situation I became acquainted with him, he soon frequented our house, - this good spirit, - rich in nobleness, who except that had nothing but his solitude; after the oppressive burden of the day, often late at evening out of benevolent passion walked miles, to meet the Tyrolese prisoners and convey money to them, or he accompanied me to the snail-tower, from whence one can see the distant Alps; there, when we observed mist, and a ruddy glow in the sky, we considered together, whether it might not be a fire: often too did I impart to him plans for going over to the Tyrolese, we studied out a road upon the map, and I saw it written upon his features, that he only waited my commands.

 

Thus matters stood when the infectious Lazarets at Augsburg began to fill, and in a short time swept away both physicians and patients: my young “ice-breaker” wandered there on foot, to relieve his old master (who was father of a family) of a fatigue and danger: de departed with heavy foreboding; I gave him at parting a handkerchief, some old wine, and a promise to write.  Then came reflection and thought of all the good which had occurred during this short acquaintance, and I thought, that my words concerning you, my loving knowledge of you and your mother were a sacred treasure, which should not be lost, that within the external shell of poverty such a jewel would be most sacredly preserved, and thus it was that my letters to him were filled with isolated anecdotes of your childhood, each one of which came like spirits at the right moment to banish ill-humour and vexation.  Chance (to us the consecrated) bears too on her thousand-fold laden wings these letters, and it may be perhaps, that when plenty and luxuriancy once again cover this much abused land of fruits, she may also shake down this golden fruit for the common weal.

 

During that time I pointed at much in few words, more conversing with you upon it, as I did not yet know you, had not seen you, or I was too deeply sunk with the fathom line in my own weal and woe. – Do you understand me? – since you love me?

 

Do you wish me to speak to you of time past, where, soon as your spirit appeared to me, I became master of my own spirit, that I might embrace and love yours? – And why should I not grow dizzy with enthusiasm; is a possible fall then so fearful? – As the precious stone, touched by a single ray, plays forth a thousand colours, so too will your beauty, lighted alone by the ray of enthusiasm, be a thousand fold enriched.

 

It is only when all is conceived, that the Something can prove its real worth: and with this you conceive me, when I tell you, that the bed in which your mother brought you into the world had blue chequered hangings.  She was then seventeen years old and one year married; hereupon she remarked you would always remain young, and your heart would never become old, since you had the youth of your mother into the bargain.  Three days did you consider about it, before you entered the world, and caused your mother heavy hours.  Through anger, that necessity had driven you from your nature-home, and through the ill-treatment of the midwife, you appeared quite black and without sign of life.  They laid you in a butcher’s tray, and bathed the pit of your heart with wine, quite despairing of your existence, your grandmother stood behind the bed; when you first opened your eyes, she exclaimed: “Daughter, he lives!” – “then awoke my maternal heart, and lived since then in continual enthusiasm to this very hour,” said your mother to me in her seventy-seventh year.  Your grandfather, who was an admirable citizen, and at that time Syndic, ever turned both good and evil chance to the weal of the city, and thus your difficult birth was the inciting cause of the appointment of an accoucheur for the poor.  “Even in the cradle,” said your mother, “he was a blessing to mankind.”  She gave you the breast, but you could not be brought to suck, and so a wet-nurse was procured; - “from her he drank with a most comfortable appetite,” said she, “and since it was now found, that I had no milk, we soon perceived that he was wiser than all of us, as he would not drink from my breast.”

 

See now, you are born at last, and now I may pause a little: now you are in the world, each moment is dear enough for me to remain, I do not wish to call up the second, that it may not drive me away from the first.  “Where you are is love and goodness; where you are is nature too.”  I shall now wait till you write to me: “Come, tell me some more.”  Then I shall first ask: “Well, where did we leave off?” and then I shall tell you of your forefathers, of your dreams, beauty, pride, love, et. Amen!

 

“Daughter, he lives!” these words always pierced me through and through, as often as your mother with raised voice of joy recited them.

 

The sword of danger

Oft hangs by a hair,

But the bliss of eternity

Lies often in a glance of grace,

 

may one say of your birth.

 

BETTINE

 

P.S.

 

Write soon, dear child, and then you will soon grow, enter into the sweetest years, when your wantonness made you dangerous to all, and lifted you above all danger. – Shall I acknowledge to you, that this writing the anecdotes of your life causes me pain; and that the thousand thoughts surround me, as it they would make me eternally captive?

 

Zelter chimes and tolls away your songs to me, like a bell, which is tolled by a lazy clerk – it always goes “bim,” and too late “bam.”  They all attack one another, Zelter falls upon Reichard, he upon Hummel, he upon Righini, and he again upon Zelter: each one might beat himself, and then he would do the other a greater favour than inviting him to his concert. – They must only let the dead rest, and Beethoven, who at his very birth, renounced all claims on their inheritance. – But all this is of no use. – - Dear Friend!  he who loves you like me, sings you in the deepest heart, but one who has such broad bones and such a long waistcoat cannot do this.

 

Write soon, write directly, if you only knew, how one word of yours often dissolves a heavy dream – call to me only: “Child, I am with you” – then all is well.  Do it!

 

Would it not interest you, to get again the letters, which you have written to the friends of your youth? write to me upon this, they might bring back the past to you in more lively colours, and to obtain possession of them would not be impossible; answer me, dear Friend; in the meantime I will not let a day pass by, without working at your request.

 

TO BETTINE

 

Here are the Duets!  At this moment I have no more recollection nor quiet than enables me to say to you: continue to be sol lovely and graceful.  Let me soon be christened!  Adieu.

November 12th 1810

 

MY DEAREST FRIEND

 

 I do not know you! no, I do not know you! – I misunderstand your words?  I troubled about you, who have exemption from all slavery, whose countenance was never shadowed by ill-fortune?  I feel fear with the noblest guest of fortune? – true love has no solicitude.  I have often determined to keep you far too holy to have petty anxiety about you, and so that you should only raise comfort and joy within me.  Be it as it may, even if I have you not, yet I have you still, and – in my letters you feel (do you not?) that I speak the truth? – there you have me – and I? – divining, I trace the marks of your pen, - the hand which is good to me has guided it, the eye which wishes me well, has overlooked it, and the spirit, which embraces so much and so various matter, has for a minute devoted itself exclusively to me – here I have you – Shall I add a commentary to this?  One moment is a fitter period for a diving apparition, than half an hour – the moment which you give me, makes me more blessed than my whole life.

 

To day (the 24th) I received the duets with the few accompanying lines from you, which had almost led me astray: I felt as if you might be ill nor – I don’t know all that I thought, but I did not think that in that moment, only because your heart was so full, you could have expressed so much in so few words; and lastly, on your account there is nothing to fear, nor to tremble at.  But even then! – Woe’s me, if I could not joyfully follow you, if my love should not find that path which is always near to you, even as my heart is and was to yours.

 

BETTINE

 

Herewith I send you sheets filled with all sorts of stores and memoranda, out of your life and that of your mother.  The question is whether you can use it; write to me if more is requisite for you: in such case it would be necessary to return me the memorandum-book, which I here enclose: but I certainly think you will find more and better things in it, than I could add.  Pardon all that is superfluous, to which belong the blots and erasures.

 

TO GOETHE

 

The heavens expand so widely before me, all the mountains which I ever measured with silent look, rise so unmeasurably, the plains which were limited by the glowing disk of the rising sun, these have no longer, limits.  On into Eternity!  - Will his life then have so much space?

 

Of his childhood: when in his ninth week he had already had troubled dreams, when grand-mother, grand-father and mother and father and nurse had stood around his cradle and listened what violent movements shewed themselves in his mien, and upon awaking, changing to a most afflicting cry – often too shrieking so violently, that he lost his breath, and his parents feared for his life; - then they procured a bell:  When they observed that he became restless in his slumber, they rung and rattled violently, that upon waking he might immediately forget his dreams.  His father once had him on his arm and let him look at the moon, when he shrunk back as if inwardly shaken, and became so convulsed that his father was obliged to blow into his nostrils, lest he should suffocate. – “These trifling matters,” said your mother, “I should have forgotten in the course of sixty years, if his life had not continually made all sacred to me, for shall I not humble myself before Providence, when I think that a life, which has now fixed itself in a thousand hearts, then hung upon a breath? – and to me it is my all, for you may well conceive, Bettine, that the events of this world do not much entice me, that society does not satisfy me here in my solitude, where I count one day after the other, and not one passes by without thinking of my son, and all is to me as gold.” –

 

He did not like playing with little children – unless they were very pretty.  Once he began suddenly to cry and shriek: “the black child shall get out, I can’t bear it,” nether did he cease crying till he got home, when his mother asked him how he could be so naughty; he could not console himself for the child’s ugliness.  He was then three years old. – Bettine, who sat upon a footstool at the feet of his mother, here made her own glossary and pressed the mother’s knee to her heart.

 

For his little sister Cornelia, while she was yet in the cradle, he had the strongest affection; he brought her every thing and wanted to feed and nurse her alone and was jealous, when any one took her out of the cradle, in which he was her ruler; his anger then knew no bounds, and indeed he was much easier brought to anger than to tears.

 

The kitchen of the house led into the street: one Sunday morning, when every one was at church, little Wolfgang got in and threw all the crockery-ware one piece after the other out of the window, because the clatter pleased him and the neighbours, who it delighted, encouraged him.  His mother, who was returning from church, was sorely astonished, at seeing all the dishes fly out; he had just finished and laughed so heartily with the people in the street, that his mother laughed too.

 

He often looked at the stars, which one told him, were propitious at his birth; here the imagination-powers of his mother were often called upon to perform the impossible, in order to satisfy his inquiries, and thus he soon learned that Jupiter and Venus would be the rulers and patrons of his destiny.  No play-thing could engage him more than the counting-board of his father, upon which he laid down with counters, the position of the stars as he had seen them: he placed his board b his bedside, and so believe that the influence of his favourable stars, approached nearer to him; often too full of care, he said to his mother: “the stars will not forget me, and will keep the promise they made over my cradle, won’t they?” then said his mother: “why will you have absolutely the assistance of the stars, when we others must do without them?” then he answered quite proudly: “I cannot do with that, which suffices for other people;” – at this time he was seven.

 

It seemed strange to his mother, that at the death of his younger brother Jacob, who was his playmate, he did not shed a tear; he rather seemed to feel a sort of irritation at the complaints of his parents, brothers and sisters; when his mother sometime after, asked him, if he did not love his brother, he ran into his bed-room, brought out a quantity of papers from under the bed, which were filled with exercises and little stores; he told her that he had written all that to teach his brother.

 

Your mother thought too that he might ascribe to herself some share in his descriptive powers: “For at one time,” said she, “I could not become weary of relating, any more than he could be listening: Air, Fire, Water and Earth I represented to him as beautiful princesses, and all, that happened in the whole of nature, received a signification, in which I soon believed myself, more firmly than my auditor, and when we had imagined to ourselves, streets between the constellations, and that we should once inhabit stars, and what great spirits we should meet there above, then there was no one so eager for the hour of narration with the children, as I was, nay, I was curious in the highest degree, about the further progress of our little imaginative tales, and an invitation, which robbed me of such an evening, was always vexatious to me.  There I sat, and there he soon devoured me, with his great black eyes; and when the fate of any favourite did not turn out exactly according to his notion, I saw how the passionate veins swelled upon his forehead and how he choked his tears. – He often caught me up, and said, before I had taken the turn in my tale: “Mother, the princess won’t marry the nasty tailor, even if he does slay the giant, will she?” – When I made a stop and put off the catastrophe to the next evening, I might be sure, that during that time, he had everything in right order and so, my imagination, when it could reach no further, was often supplied by his; and when the next evening, guiding the reins of fate according to his design, I said: You have guessed it, so it has happened,” he became all fire and flame, and one could hear his little heart beat under his collar.  To his grandmother, (who lived in the back part of the house, and whose pet he was), he always confided his views, as to how the story would go on; and from her I learned how I should continue my text according to his wishes, and thus there was a secret diplomatic correspondence between us, which neither betrayed to the other.  Thus I had the satisfaction of relating my fairy-tales to the delight and astonishment of my audience, and Wolfgang without ever recognizing himself as the author of all the remarkable events, looked forward with glowing eyes, to the fulfilment of his boldly laid plans, and greeted the execution of them with enthusiastic applause.”  These delightful evenings (through which the glory of my art in tale-telling was soon spread abroad, so that at last both old and young soon took part in them) are to me in a very refreshing remembrance.  The theatre of the world was not so abundant, although it was a source of ever new inventions.  That, which by its awful reality, surpassing all fable, made the first breach in the fairy-world, was the earthquake at Lisbon: all newspapers were filled with it, every body argued upon it in strange confusion; in short it was an event, which shook all hearts even to the most distant lands; little Wolfgang, who was seven years old, could rest no more.  The foaming sea, which in a trice swallowed down all the ships and then mounted the shore to swallow up the enormous royal palace, - the lofty towers, which were at the very first buried beneath the rubbish of smaller houses, - the flames, which bursting from every part of the ruins, joined at last and spread forth a vast, fiery sea, while a host of devils rise out of the earth, to practice all sorts of malicious mischief upon the unfortunate – the remnant of the many thousand destroyed – all this made a tremendous impression upon him.  The papers contained every evening new fables, more minute details; in the churches expiatory sermons were preached, the Pope ordained a general fast, in the Catholic Chapels requiems were sung for those swallowed up by the earthquake.  Remarks of all kinds were made on every side in presence of the children: the Bible was consulted, reasons maintained pro and con; all this busied Wolfgang more deeply than one could suppose, and he made at last a conclusion, which surpassed all in wisdom.

 

After having returned with his grandfather from a sermon in which the wisdom of the creator towards the afflicted people was defended, and his father asked him, how he had understood the discourse, he answered: “After all, everything may be much simpler than the clergyman thinks, God will well know, that the immortal should can receive no injury from evil fate.” – From this time you were again in spirits, yet your mother thought that your revolutionary excitement at this earthquake, made its appearance again in your “Prometheus.”

 

Let me too relate to you, that your grandfather in memorial of your birth, had planted a pear-tree in the well-cultivated garden beyond the Bockenheim-gate, this tree has become very large; of its fruit (which is delicious) I have eaten and – you would laugh at me, if I were to tell you everything.  It was on a beautiful day in spring, sunny and warm, the young lofty-stemmed pear-tree was covered over and over with blossoms; it was, I believe, your mother’s birthday, when the children carried in all silence the green settee (sitting upon which she used to narrate in the evening, and which was therefore called the “fable-seat”) into the garden, adorned it with ribands and flowers, and after guests and relations were assembled, Wolfgang dressed as a shepherd with a scrip (from out which hung down a scroll with golden letters), with a garland of green upon his head, stepped under the pear-tree, and held an address to the settee as to the seat of beautiful fables; it was a high delight to see the handsome wreath-crowned lad beneath the blossoming branches, how he fermented in the fire of an oration, which he held with the utmost confidence.  The second act of this delightful festival consisted of soap-bubbles, which blown into the clear air by children, who surrounded the fable-seat, were caught by Zephyr and floated here and there in the sun-shine: as often as a bubble sunk down upon the celebrated chair, all credit out: “a tale, a tale;” when the bubble, held for a while by the crisp wool of the cover, at last burst, they all cried again: “the tale bursts.”  The neighbours in the adjoining garden peeped over wall and hedge, and took the liveliest interest in these great rejoicings, so that the little festival was known by evening throughout the whole town.  The town has forgotten it, your mother retained it and often in aftertimes interpreted it as an omen of your future fame.

 

Now, dear Goethe, I must confess to you, that my heart is straitened while I write to you these single anecdotes one after the other, which are connected with a thousand thoughts, that I can neither open nor otherwise explain to you, for you do not love yourself as I love you, and this must seem unimportant to you, while I would fain not lose a breath of yours.  There is much which can not be forgotten, when it has once been felt; that it always recurs, is no cause of sadness; but that the shores remain eternally out of reach, this sharpens the pain. – When your love to my mother resounds within me, and I think upon all, - this reserve, this fermenting of youth in a thousand ways – it must once resolve itself. – My life, what else was it but a deep mirror of yours? It was love’s forefeeling, which carries everything with it, that announced you to me: and as I came after you to light, so shall I follow you into darkness. -–My dear friend, who never mistakes me! lo! I solve the enigma in many pretty ways, but ask not what it is, and let the heart have its way, say I to myself a hundred times.

 

I saw growing up around me plants of a rare kind, they had thorns and fragrance, I would touch none and I would miss none.  Who ventures into life, has only to work his way through to freedom: and I know that I shall once hold you fast and be with you and be in you, this is the goal of my wishes, this is my creed.

 

Farewell, keep your health and let it be your frequent thought, that you would see me again – there is much which I would fain utter before you.

 

November 24th

 

TO GOETHE

 

Beautiful as an angel, you were, are and will remain: so in your earliest youth all eyes were turned upon you. Once some one was standing with your mother at the window, just as you crossed the street with several other lads; they remarked that you walked with much gravity, and reproached you, that you erect figure distinguished you in a strange manner from the others. – “With this,” said you, “I make a beginning, and hereafter I will distinguish myself in many other ways,” and this, said your mother, has been verified.

 

Once at the autumn-vintage, when in Frankfort at evening fire-works are let off in every garden and rockets ascend from all sides, were seen in the farthest fields, where the festivals had not extended, numerous ignes-fulvi, which hopped about here and there, now divided, now close together, at last they began to perform a regular dance; as the people hurried closer to them, one light after the other was extinguished, others made long leaps and vanished, others remained in mid-air and then suddenly went out, while others again seated themselves upon hedges and trees – gone in a moment – the people found nothing, went back again and the dance began anew; one little light after the other took its place again and danced round half the town.  What was this? – Goethe, that with many of his companions, who had stuck lights upon their hats, was dancing there without.

 

This was one of your mother’s favourite anecdotes, she had much to tell besides, how after such tricks you always came merrily home, having met with a hundred adventures etc. etc. – It was delightful to hear your mother’s tales!

 

“In his dress he was most terribly particular, I was obliged to arrange three suits daily for him; upon one chair I hung a great coat, long trowsers, ordinary waistcoat, and added a pair of boots; upon a second a dresscoat, silk stockings, which he had already worn, shoes, etc. etc.; upon the third was every thing of the finest, together with sword and hair-bag: the first he wore in the house, the second when visiting his common acquaintances, the third as full dress; when I entered the next day, I had everything to bring to order; there stood the boots upon his fine ruffs and collars, the shoes thrown east and west, one thing lay here, the other there: then I shook the dust out of his clothes, placed clean linen for him, brought everything again into the right track.  Shaking a waistcoat once at the open window rather strongly, a quantity of pebbles suddenly flew into my face: upon this I began to curse, he came up and I scolded him, for the pebbles might have stuck out my eye: - “well,” said he, “but your eye is not out, where are the pebbles?  I must have them again, help me to look for them;” – now he must have received them from his sweet-heart, for he took so much trouble about the stones, which were common flint and sand, he was so vexed, that he could not collect them any more; all that was still there, he wrapped up carefully in paper and carried away.  The day before he had been at Offenbach, there was an inn called the Rose-Inn, the daughter was called the pretty Grizzel, he liked her very much, she was the first that I know with whom he was in love.

 

Are you angry that your mother should tell me all this?  This story I like uncommonly, your mother related it to me at least twenty times; she often added that the sun shone through the window, that you became red, that you held the gathered stones close to your heart, and so marched forth with them, without even begging pardon for their having flown into her face. – Only see, all that she took notice of, for little as the matter seemed, it was yet to her a source of joyful reflection upon your hastiness, sparkling eyes, beating heart, red cheeks, etc. – it delighted her even in her latest days.  This and the following story made the most livily impression upon me; I see you before me in both, in the full splendour of your youth.  On a bright winter’s day, when your mother had company, you proposed to her a drive with the strangers along the Maine.  “She has not yet seen me skate, and the weather to day is so fine, etc.” – I”I put on my scarlet fur-cloak, to which was a long train, and down the front fastened with gold clasps, and so we drove out.  My son was shooting like an arrow between the other skaters, the air has made his cheeks red, and the powder had flown out of his brown hair: as soon as he saw the scarlet cloak, he came up to the coach and smiled quite kindly at me. – “Now what do you want?” said I.  “Come, mother, you are not cold in the carriage, give me your velvet cloak.” – “Why, you won’t put it on?” – “But I will though.”  I pulled off my beautiful warm cloak, he put it on, swung the train over his arm, and away he sailed like the son of a divinity along the ice; - had you but seen him, Bettine! – Anything so beautiful is not to be seen again; I clapped my hands with joy!  I always have him before my eyes, how he glided out of one arch and under the other, and how the wind upheld the long train behind him; at that time your mother was with us on the ice, her he wished to please. –

 

At this story I can say again, what I said to you at Teplitz: that the remembrance of your youth ever glows within me, yes, it glows within me, and I have a continual enjoyment in it. – How do we rejoice to see the tree before the door, which we have known from childhood, grow green and blossom again in spring! – how do I rejoice (since your blossom eternally for me), when at times and inward loftier gleam beams forth from your blossoms, - and I in lively remembrance sink my face into the cup and quite inhale it! –

 

November 28th

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

I know that you will not be able to use all that I tell you of yourself, I have in a lonely hour lain upon these single moments, like the dew upon the flowers, which mirrors their colours in the sun-shine.  Still do I ever see you so glorified, but it is impossible for me to prove it to you by representation; you are modest and will leave it to itself, but you will grant me that your appearance beamed precisely upon me, I was the only one who by chance or rather unconscious instinct, found myself at your feet. – It costs me pains and I can only insufficiently prove, that which is so intimately bound up with my heart, which once for all dwells in my breast and will not be entirely separated.  In the meantime I need only one word from you to cast back these jewels, just as I received them, rough and unpolished, into your enormous wealth – what on my brow, rounded by loving thought, in my look which was fixed with enthusiasm upon you, on the lips, which touched with love’s spirit, moved to you, - what has thus been impressed, I cannot give you again; it floats away, like the sound of music, which exists only in the moment of performance.

 

To each anecdote which I write down, I would fain say a farewell – the flowers must be broken off, that they still in their bloom may be placed within the herbary.  I did not think thus, when in my last letter but one, I so kindly offered you my garden; do you smile? – yet you will prune the foliage as exuberant, and care neither for the dew nor sunshine, which, beyond my territory, no longer rest upon it. – The archer who aims at love will not tire of sending a thousand and a thousand shafts.  He bends again and draws the string even to his eye, and looks sharply and aims sharply: - and you! behold graciously these spent arrows, which fall at thy feet – and think that I cannot restrain myself – from saying to you eternally the same. – And does not such an arrow sometimes touch you – a very, very little? –

 

Your grandfather was a man of dreams and dream-interpreter, much was revealed to him concerning his family by dreams; once he foretold a great fire, then the unexpected arrival of the Emperor: true, this was not much noticed, but yet it spread through the town and excited general wonder, wherever it came.  He secretly confided to his wife, that he had dreamed, one of the aldermen had in a most obliging manner offered him his place; not long after, this alderman died of apoplexy, his place fell by ballot to your grandfather.  When the bailiff died, an extraordinary council was called late in the night for the next morning by the sergeant: now the candle in his lantern was burnt out, and your grandfather called out in his sleep: “give him another candle, he takes all his trouble on y account.”  Nobody had remarked these words, he himself said nothing the next morning, and appeared to have forgotten them, but his eldest daughter, your mother, had noticed them, and believed firmly in their import.  When her father was gone to the council-house, she, according to her own expression, “dressed herself in the most mighty state and frizzed her hair to the very skies.”  In this pomp she seated herself in the arm-chair by the window with a book in her hand.  Both mother and sisters believed that their sister princess, (so was she called on account of her dislike to domestic employments and her love of dress and reading) was crazy; but she assured them, that they would soon creep behind the curtains, when the senators should come to congratulate them upon their father’s having become bailiff.  As her sisters were laughing at her credulity, she saw from her elevated seat by the window, her father coming with a stately train of senators behind; “Hide yourselves,” she cried, “yonder he comes and all the senators with him,” none of them would believe, till they had all one after another popped their uncurled heads out of the window, and saw the solemn procession pacing on, then they all scampered away and left the princess alone in the parlour to receive them.

 

One sister appeared to have inherited his gift of dreaming, for immediately after your granfather’s death, when the will could not be found, she dreamed, that it was found between two boards in her father’s desk which were connected by a secret lock; the desk was searched, and all was right.  Your mother however had not this talent, she believed it resulted from her merry-careless disposition and her full confidence that all was for the best; this perhaps was exactly her prophetic gift, for she said herself that in this respect she was never deceived.

 

Your grandmother came once after midnight into the bedchamber of her daughters, and remained there till the morning, because something had happened to her which she for very fright did not trust herself to tell.  The next morning however she related that something had resulted in her room like paper: thinking that the window was open and that the wind was blowing the papers off your grandfather’s desk in the adjoining study, she had got up but found the windows closed.  Just as she had laid herself to bed again, the rustling came nearer and nearer, accompanied by an anxious crumpling of paper, at last there was a deep sigh, and then another to near to her face, that she felt the clammy breath, and thereupon she rain out of fear to the children.  Shortly afterwards a stranger was announced and as he approached your grandmother, handing her a crumpled up paper, she fell into a swoon.  A friend of hers who in that night, had a presentiment of approaching death, wanted paper in order to write to her upon an important affair, but before he had finished, he was attached by the death-cramp, seized the paper, crushed it in his hand, rolled about with it upon the coverlid, at last gave two deep sighs and died.  Although that which was written upon the paper, said nothing definite, yet your grandmother could imagine what his last request was – your noble grandfather took to himself a little orphan of this friend, (who had no just claims upon his inheritance), became his guardian, set apart a sum out of his own means which your grandmother increased with many a little saving.

 

From this moment your mother slighted no forebodings, or things of like nature, she said: “even if one does not believe, one should not deny or despise it; the heart is deeply touched by things of that kind.  Our entire fate is often developed by events, which appear so trifling, that we do not even mention them, and which work within so pliably and secretly that we scarcely perceive them: I daily meet with events which no other person would notice, but they are my world, my enjoyment my glory.  When I enter a circle of tedious folks, to whom the rising sun is no more matter of wonder, and who believe themselves raised above all which they do not understand, I think in my soul: “you believe you have digested the whole world, and yet you have no idea of all, I have seen and heard to-day.”  She told me that she never in her whole life could content herself in the ordinary every-day manner, that her strong mind wanted important and great events to digest and that these too had happened to her in full measure; that she was not here for her son’s sake alone, but her son also for hers; and that she could also be assured of her own interest in your productions and your fame, since no more perfect or exalted happiness could be conceived, than for her son’s sake to be so generally honoured – she as right – who needs to explain it further? it speaks for itself.  Far removed as you were from her and that too for so long a time, you were never better understood than by her; whilst learned men, philosophers, and critics examined you and  your works, she was a living example of how you were to be received. She often repeated to me single passages from your books, at such fit moments and with such splendid look and love, that in them my world too began to receive a livelier colour, and brothers, sisters and friends to fall into the shade.  That song: “Oh let me seem, till I become,” she interpreted most excellently; she said that this alone must prove, how deep was the religion within you, for you had there described the only state, in which the soul could soar again to God, namely without prejudice, without selfish merits, out of pure longing towards a creator.  She said too that the virtues, with which one believes to take heaven by storm were mere buffoonery, and that all merit must strike sail before the confidence of innocence, that this was the spring of mercy which washed away all sins, and that this innocence was born in each, and was the primitive cause of all longing after divine life; - that even in the most distracted mind was adjusted a deep connection with its Creator, in this innocent love and confidence, which in spite of all aberrations allows it not to be extirpated; that one these one should take fast hold, for it was God himself in man, who will not, that man should pass in despair from this world to the other, but rather in peace and presence of mind, otherwise the spirit would real over like a drunkard, and disturb the eternal quiet with its laments; his folly too would there inspire no great respect, since his head must first be set to rights.  Of this song she said, it was the spirit of truth, encased in the strong body of nature, and she called it her confession of faith; the melodies were miserable and untrue compared with her impressive manner, and the feeling which sounded forth in full measure from her voice.  “None but he who longing knows,” – her eye therewith rested on the ball of St Catharine’s tower, which was the last point of view that she had from her seat a window her lips moved eagerly, which at last she always closed with painful earnestness, while her gaze lost in the distance, glowed; it was as if the senses of her youth rose up again before her, then sometimes she pressed my hand as surprized me with the words: “You understand Wolfgang and love him.” – Her memory was not only remarkable, it was splendid: the impress of powerful feelings developed itself in its full force in her recollections; and here, simply as she herself related it to me, will I, as an instance of her great heart, impart to you a tale, which I intended to have done at Munich, and which was so strangely connected with her death.  Before I went into the Rheingau, I came to take leave of her; and as a post-horn was heard in the street, she said that this sound, even now pierced her heart, as at the time when she was seventeen.  At that time the Emperor Charles VII, surnamed the Unlucky, was at Frankfort, all were filled with enthusiasm at his great beauty: on Good Friday, she saw him in a long black mantle, with many gentlemen and pages dressed in black, visiting the Churches on foot.  Heavens, what eyes had that man! with what a melancholy did he look up from under the sunken eyelids! – I did not leave him; I followed him into all the Churches, in every one he knelt upon the last bench, among the beggars and laid his head a while between his hands: when he looked up again.  I felt as if a thunder-clap struck within my breast.  When I returned home I found myself no longer in my old way of life, it was as if bed, chair and table no longer stood in their usual places: it had become night; lights were brought in; I went to the window and looked out into the dark streets, and when I heard those in the room speaking of the Emperor, I trembled like an aspen-leaf. In my chamber at night, I fell upon my knees before my bed, and held my head between my hands like him, and it was as if a great gate were opened in my breast.  My sister who enthusiastically praised him, sought every opportunity of seeing him; I went with her, no body could have an idea how deeply my heart was concerned: once as the Emperor drove by, she sprang upon a stepping-stone by the wayside and gave him a loud cheer, he looked out and waved kindly with his handkerchief, she boasted much that the Emperor had given her so friendly a token; but I was secretly persuaded, that the greeting was meant for me, for in driving past he looked back again towards e: indeed almost every day that I had an opportunity of seeing him, something occurred which I could interpret as a mark of his favour and in my chamber at night I always knelt before my bed, and held my head between my hands as I had seen him do on Good-Friday in the Church; and then I thought over all that had happened to vie with him and thus was a private intelligence of love built up within my heart, of which it was impossible for me to believe that he knew nothing: I believed that he had surely inquired out my dwelling, because he now drove oftener through our street than before, and always looked up at the windows and greeted me.  O how blessed was I that entire day on the morning of which he greeted me, - then I may well say that I wept for joy.  Once when he held open table, I pushed my way through the sentinels and came into the saloon instead of the gallery.  The trumpets were sounded, at the third sound, be appeared in a red velvet mantle, which two chambermaids took off, he walked slowly with a somewhat inclined head. I was quite near to him, thinking not at all of my being in the wrong place; his health was drunk by all the nobles present and the trumpets crashed in, and then I shouted loudly in concert.  The Emperor looked at me, took a goblet to pledge again, and nodded to me – nay it seemed to me as if he would have brought me the goblet, and I must believe it to this day, it would cast me too much, if I were compelled to give up this thought, at which I have shed so many tears of happiness: and why should he not, he must have read the great enthusiasm in my eyes.  At the flourish of drums and trumpets in the saloon, that accompanied the toast in which he pledged the Prices, I became quite miserable and faint, so much did I take this imaginary honour to heart; my sister had much trouble to bring me out into the fresh air; she scolded me, that on my account she was forced to lose the pleasure of seeing the Emperor dine; indeed after I had drank from the fountain, she tried to get in again, but a secret voice said to me, that I ought to content myself with what had been granted me that day, and I did not return with her: - no, I sought my lonely chamber and seated myself upon the chair by the bedside, and wept painfully sweet tears of the most ardent love for the Emperor.  The next day he took his departure; I lay at four in the morning in my bed; the day was just breaking, it was on the 17th April, when I heard five postillions’ horns blow – this was he, I sprang out of bed; with over-haste I fell in the middle of the room, and hurt myself; I took no notice of it and flew to the window; at that moment the Emperor drove past; he looked up at my window, even before I had torn it open, he kissed his hand to me and waved his handkerchief till he was out of the street.  From this time I have never heard a post-horn blow without thinking of this parting: and to this very day when I have voyaged along the whole stream of life and am just about to land, its wide sounding tone painfully affects me, and that too when so much, upon which mankind set value, has sunk around me, without my feeling sorrow.  Must not one make strange comments, when one sees how a passion, which at its very origin was a chimera, outlives all that is real, maintaining itself in a heart, which has long rejected all such claims as folly?  Neither have I ever had the desire to speak of it; to-day is the first time.  In the fall which I then got through over-haste, I had wounded my knee upon a large nail that stood somewhat high out of the floor, I had made a deep wound above the right knee, the sharp head of the nail formed a cicatrice resembling a very fine and regular star, upon which I often looked during the four weeks, in which soon afterwards the death of the Emperor was tolled by all the bells for a whole hour every afternoon.  Ah! what painful hours did I then endure, when the Cathedral began to toll with its great bell, and there came at first such single powerful strokes as if it wavered inconsolably here and there, by degrees the pealing of the smaller bells and the more distant churches sounded too, it was as if every thing sighed and wept at his decease; and the air too was so awful, and it was just at sun-set when the bells ceased tolling, one bell after the other was hushed, till the Cathedral even as it had begun to mourn, sighed for the last tones to the evening twilight; at that time the cicatrice upon my knee was quite fresh.  I studied it every day and therewith thought of all.”

 

Your mother shewed me her knee above which was the scar in form of a very distinct regular star: she reached me her hand at parting, and said to me again at the door, she had never spoken with  any one about it except me.  I was scarcely in the Rheingau, when I wrote down everything as nearly as possible in her own words, for I thought directly that it must surely one day become interesting to you; but now your mother’s death has set a splendid crown upon this child-like love-tale, which I think, could have left untouched no noble manly heart, much less the Emperor, and which has stamped it as something perfectly beautiful. – In September I received a letter at the Rheingau to say that your mother was not well; I hastened my return, I went immediately to her, the physician was just then with her, she looked very grave; when he was gone, she handed me the prescription with a smile, saying: “there! read! what may that forebode? an application of wine, myrrh, oil and laurel-leaves to strengthen my knee, which since the summer has begun to give me pain, and now at last, water has collected under the scar: but you will see that this Imperial specific of laurel, wine and oil, with which the Emperor is anointed at his coronation, will give me no relief.  I see it coming already, that the water will be drawn towards the heart and then it will soon be over.”  She bid me farewell, and said she would let me know when I might come again.  A few days afterwards, she had me called; she lay in bed and said: “today I lie in bed again as formerly, when I was scarcely sixteen, of the same wound.”  I laughed with her about it and said to her playfully much that both touched and delighted her; then she looked at me again very ardently, pressed my hand and said, “You are so exactly fitted to keep up my spirits in this time of suffering, for I well know that it is coming to an end with me.”  She then said a few words of you and that I should not cease to love you, and that at Christmas I should once more send to her grandson the customary sweetmeats in her name: two days afterwards, on the evening when a concert was given in her neighbourhood, she said: “now as I fall asleep I will think of the music which will soon welcome me in heaven;” she also had some of her hair cut off, saying, that it should be given to me after her death, together with a family picture, by Seekatz, in which, she with your father, sister and you, dressed as shepherds, are portrayed in the midst of a delightful landscape – the next morning she was no more, she passed away in nightly slumber.

 

This is the story, which I had already promised you at Munich, now that it is written I don’t know, how you will take it, it always struck me as something quite uncommon, and by it I have made so many vows!

 

Of your father too, she told me much that was beautiful, he was himself a handsome man; she married him without any settled inclination; she knew how to direct him in many ways to the advantage of the children, whom he set with a certain severity to learn; nevertheless he must have been very kindly disposed towards you, for he used to talk with you hours together, about future journeys, and painted your future to you as splendidly as possible.  Concerning an important house-repair, which your father undertook, your mother had also something to relate, how as an infant, she had often with great anxiety seen you clambering about the beams.  When the repairs were finished, which turned your old lumbering house, with winding stairs and disproportioned stores, into a handsome, elegant dwelling in which valuable works of art, adorned the rooms with taste, your father with great attention arranged a library, in which you were employed.  About your father’s passion for travelling, your mother had much to tell; his rooms were hung with maps and plans of large cities and while you read the description of the journey, he travelled about with his finger, seeking out every point – now this agreed nether with your impatience nor the hasty temperament of your mother, you both longed for some interruption to these tedious winter-evenings, which were at last entirely broken up by a French Commander, taking up his quarters in the state-rooms: this was no improvement, your Father was not to be consoled, for the giving up, of his scarcely finished house, which had cost him so many sacrifices, as military quarters; from this arose much dilemma, which your mother understood excellently how to arrange. I also send you a few pages with memoranda, they may serve to awake in you the remembrance of a thousand things, of which you will then find the connection again: the love stores at Offenbach with a certain Grissel, the nocturnal walks and things of that sort, were never connectedly related to me by your mother, and God knows I was shy of asking about them.

 

BETTINE

 

TO GOETHE

 

What held me so long prisoner, was music, unmended pens, bad paper, thick ink – many accidents came together.

 

On the fourth of December it was cold and awful weather varying between snow, rain and sleet […line of text replaced by dots…] what have I now better to do than to keep your heart warm? the under waist-coat I have made as coaxingly warm as possible. – Think of me!

 

I have heard Prince Radziwill’s music out of Faust; the song of the shepherd is so unique, lively, descriptive, brief, possessing all praise-worthy qualities, that it certainly can never be so excellingly composed again.  The Chorus: “Within sits one imprisoned” – goes through and through one.  – The chorus of the spirits, when Faust slumbers, splendid! one hears the Pole throughout, a German would not have handled it so, - so much the more charming!  It must be given as softly, as is the flying gossamer in a Summer’s evening.

 

Zelter is often with us, I try to get out of him what he is.  Unpolished he certainly is, he is right and wrong too, e maintains too that he loves you, he would fain serve the world, and bears complaints, that it will not yield and that he is obliged to keep all his wisdom to himself.   One point of view be has chosen to himself, from where he looks down upon the world, which does not care whether he sit together with the crows on the pinnacle, to see mankind struggling upon common places.  On the song-table he is Cesar, rejoicing at his victories; in the singing-academy he is Napoleon, who drives by his command all to fear, and his confiding troops follow him through thick and thin; fortunately singing is not fighting; his first guard, the Bass has a catarrh. – On the world, in company and in travelling, he is Goethe, and indeed a very human one, full of kind concession; he walks, stands, throws a little word, nods graciously to insignificant things, puts his hands on his back; all this will do, but sometimes be spits very bravely: that hits not, then the whole illusion goes to the devil. –

 

In every art the magical raises in trivial minds a perplexity, which in music attains an undoing power; Zelter for instance admits of nothing he does not already understand, though music is only beginning where mental powers reach no more. – And the every disappointing cross-spirits, having so good an intention, when above all they claim for clear accounts in art! – who do not feel their degrading the highest element of a divine language, in working it up with their low understanding! – who with a higher revelation will never be entrusted, when they think to be wiser, that its messengers Enthusiasm and Fancy Though in music a magical performing is ever in action, the trivialminded, at their not understanding it, struck with fear, often pronounce these magical spells either but half or in a false direction; whence it is, that those else so lively sparkling spirits, now moist-cold, tedious, troublesome and indeed incomprehensible, stop them in their way, whilst the inspired listens with a secret confidence and complies with a world which cannot be explained, which imparts to the mind its efficacy, yet not its origin.  Thence the sudden appearance of Genius in his ripeness, which for a long time lost in unbounded selfcontemplation, now heightened in himself breaks forth to daylight, not caring whether the profane understand him while he speaks with God (Beethoven).  Thus it is with music: Genius will not be revealed to trivial minds, for they will not acknowledge what they do not understand. – Ah, when I remember Beethoven, who feeling his own power, exaltingly exclaim: “I am of an electric nature, therefore my music is so excellent! . . . . “ –

 

Many senses to one apparition of the spirit – perpetual lively action of the spirit upon senses (men), - without senses no spirit, no music. –

 

Voluptuousness to look into the past as through crystal! – Acuteness of a ruling and exciting genius! – never thus in music - : what sounds dies away; - music can arise but ever new.

 

Strange fate of music-language not to be understood!  Thence the rage against that which has not been heard before; thence the expression: “unheard.”  To genius in music the man of principle in music always stands opposite like a block, (Zelter must avoid standing opposite to Beethoven).  With the known he agrees, not by understanding, but because he is accustomed, like the ass to its daily way.  What can one do who even would do every thing, if genius does not lead him to where he must give no account, and where erudition dares not bungling in.  Erudition at least comprehends what there was before, but not what is to come; it cannot loosen the spirit from the letter, not from the law.  Every art is properly empowered to supplant death, to lead mankind up to heaven; but where the trivial-wise watch and absolve out as masters, there it stands ashamed at itself; what should be free will, free life, becomes mechanic, and there one may hear and believe and hope, nothing will result.  Only on paths unaccessible to trivial people it could be attained, these are prayer and discretion of the mind with quiet confidence in eternal wisdom, were it even incomprehensible. – There we stay on the inaccessible heights, and yet – there above only one learns to understand the voluptuousness of breathing.

 

To the housewife  this little souvenir with my best wishes for the beginning year.  To Mr. Riemer the unmade waistcoat, his perfection has too much dazzled me that I might find the just measure of it.  – Simple forget me nots on the waistcoat! – he will be not a little proud of it.  Should his taste be not as far cultivated as to find it pretty, he may be assured all will envy him for it.  I must still advise, that it is to be worn as an underwaistcoat, he certainly will write and thank me for it. – And thou? – hum? – thou only one, who makest death bitter to me! –

 

BETTINE

 

Adieu, magnetic mount! – would I even direct my sails here and there, on thee all ships should wreck.