previous next

[115] visit. He is thirty-two, and is one of the rare instances of a peasant raising himself to the learned rank in society. He was sent to the ‘Schule Pforte’ by a village which had this right, and afterwards studied at Gottingen,—was an instructor in the gymnasium there, and, while thus employed, attracted the attention of John Muller, the historian, who said of Thiersch and Dissen, who were then not twenty-five years old, that if the art of studying the Greek classics was lost, these two young men had knowledge enough to restore it. . . . .

In the evening he took us to the house of a friend, Mr. Von Couta, a councillor of state; where we met a daughter of Herder, a cousin of Klopstock; Prof. Hand, the editor of Lucretius, a young man of thirty-five; and Myer, the archaeologist, now Goethe's intimate friend, an old man of sixty or seventy, short and fat, with very odd manners, but lively and amusing in conversation.

October 28.—Prof. Riemer, who is second librarian of the Public Library, called on us and amused us above an hour, by describing Goethe's mode of living, peculiarities, etc.,—facts one cannot get in books, or from any source but the knowledge of an intimate acquaintance. Prof. Riemer lived nine years in Goethe's house, and knew him, of course, from the lowest note to the top of his compass. He said that Goethe is a much greater man than the world will ever know, because he always needs excitement and collision to rouse him to exertion, and that it is a great misfortune that he is now without such influence and example as when Herder, Wieland, and Schiller were alive.

I asked what had been his relations with those extraordinary men. He replied that, from holding similar views in philosophy, Goethe and Schiller were nearest to each other, and Herder and Wieland; but that after the deaths of Schiller and Herder, Goethe became intimate with Wieland. Schiller, he said, had profited much by his connection with Goethe, and borrowed much from his genius,—among other pieces, in his William Tell, which Goethe had earlier thought to have made the subject of an epic poem; but now they are all dead, and since 1813 Goethe has been alone in the world.

He has much on paper which has never been published, and much in his memory which has not been put on paper, for he writes always by an amanuensis, to whom he dictates from memoranda on a card or scrap of paper, as he walks up and down his room. Of his views in physics and comparative anatomy, he has published little, but a programme by a medical professor at Jena (Oken) has lately made a great noise, in which the doctrine that the brain is formed from the medulla spinalis was, no doubt, from hints first given by Goethe.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Jena (Thuringia, Germany) (1)
Gottingen (Lower Saxony, Germany) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Wolfgang A. Von Goethe (9)
Schiller (4)
Von Herder (4)
Wieland (3)
Riemer (2)
Thiersch (1)
William Tell (1)
Oken (1)
Myer (1)
John Muller (1)
Lucretius (1)
F. G. Klopstock (1)
Hand (1)
Dissen (1)
Couta (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1813 AD (1)
October 28th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: