Although summoned by our masters to speak a few words concerning the departed, before this so distinguished and highly esteemed assembly, I might surely have ventured to decline to do so, in the conviction that not a fleeting hour, not loose notes superficially jotted down, but whole years, and even several well weighed and well ordered volumes are requisite worthily to celebrate his memory in consideration of the monument which he has worthily erected for himself in his works and in his influence. This delightful duty I undertook only in the conviction that what I have here said may serve as an introduction to what should in future be better done by others at the repeated celebration of his memory. If it shall please our honored masters to deposit in their ark, together with this essay, all that shall publicly appear concerning our friend, and, still more, what our brethren, whom he most greatly and most peculiarly influenced and who enjoyed an uninterrupted and a closer association with him, may confidentially express and communicate, then through this would be collected a treasure of facts, of information, and of valuations which might well be unique of its kind, and from which our posterity might draw, in after times, in order to protect, to maintain, and to hallow for evermore so worthy a memory with love unwavering.
TRANSLATED BY EDWARD BELL From WILHELM MEISTER’S TRAVELS
Our pilgrims had performed the journey according to program, and prosperously reached the frontier of the province in which they were to learn so many wonderful things. On their first entry they beheld a most fertile region, the gentle slopes of which were favorable to agriculture, its higher mountains to sheep-feeding, and its broad valleys to the rearing of cattle. It was shortly before the harvest, and everything was in the greatest abundance; still, what surprised them from the outset, was that they saw neither women nor men, but only boys and youths busy getting ready for a prosperous harvest, and even making friendly preparations for a joyous harvest-home. They greeted now one, and now another, and inquired about the master, of whose whereabouts no one could give an account. The address of their letter was: To the Master or to the Three, and this too the boys could not explain; however, they referred the inquirers to an overseer, who was just preparing to mount his horse. They explained their object; Felix’s frank bearing seemed to please him; and so they rode together along the road.