[Illustration: VIEW INTO THE SAALE VALLEY NEAR JENA Drawing by GOETHE]
LETTERS TO WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT AND HIS WIFE
TRANSLATED BY LOUIS H. GRAY, PH.D. GOETHE TO KAROLINE VON HUMBOLDT
January 25, 1804.
How many an hour have I thought of you with genuine and lively interest; and nearly every time I have marveled at the outrageous intention which correspondents can express, that, when far apart, they will write to each other once a month. Distance absolutely precludes interest in trifles that are close to us; how can we tell each other our daily joys and sorrows, when the voice which speaks must wait so long for the sound of the answering voice; and then those unexpected chances happen which in an instant destroy our careful plans so that, when we would continue, we know not where we should begin.
This time, in remembrance of so much that has passed, and in anticipation of so much that is to be, I intend to write you a long letter that the stream may run once more.
Meanwhile you have suffered a bitter loss, of which I shall not speak. I trust that all the agencies which nature has contrived for man to alleviate such woes may have been and may in the future be at your behest; for they alone can repair the evil they have wrought.
Fernow has come to us; he bears himself gallantly and well, though an unfortunate fever has given him a deal of trouble. Since he is in earnest about what he does, and is essentially of an honest disposition, we are having a good, profitable, and pleasant time together.
Riemer is staying with my August, and I hope they will get along right well together.
Schiller is continually advancing with great strides, as usual; his Tell is magnificently planned and, so far as I have seen it, executed in masterly fashion.
I myself have been placed, by the swindling spirit which has come over the gentlemen of Jena, and especially over the proprietors of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, under the lamentable necessity of again laboring in person on behalf of this antiquated body of municipal teachers, wherein I have lost nearly four months of my own time—not precisely because I did much, but because, notwithstanding, everything had to be done, and everything that must be done takes time; and thus for the last three months I have been unable to present you with even a single little poem.
Meanwhile life has brought us much of interest. Professor Wolf of Halle spent two weeks with us; Johannes von Mueller is here now; and for four weeks Madame de Stael has also honored us with her presence.
The drawings of the late Herr Carstens, which Fernow brought with him, have given me much pleasure, since through them I have first learned to know this rare talent, which, alas, was held back by circumstances in earlier days, and which at last was mown down even yet unripe.