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‘ [188] central man of all the world, as representing in perfect balance the imaginative, moral, and intellectual faculties, all at their highest.’ When we consider that this was said of a man born more than six centuries before the words were written, it certainly illustrates the concentration of fame upon a single name. With scarcely less superb exclusiveness, Goethe described Napoleon as ‘a compendium of the world’ (Dieses Compendium der Welt).

In allusion to such instances as these, Goethe expressed to Eckermann the conviction that the higher powers had pleased themselves by placing among men certain detached figures, so alluring as to set everybody striving after them, yet so great as to be beyond all reach (Die so anlockend sind, das jeder nach ihnen strebt, und so gross das niemand sie erreicht). ‘Mozart,’ he said, ‘represents the unattainable in music, and Shakespeare in poetry.’ He instanced also Raphael and Napoleon; and the loyal Eckermann inwardly added the speaker himself to the list. ‘I refer’ Goethe said ‘to the natural dowry, the inborn wealth’ (Das Naturell, das grosse Angeborene der

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J. W. Goethe (3)
Napoleon (2)
William Shakespeare (1)
W. A. Mozart (1)
J. P. Eckermann (1)
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