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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 519 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 02.

State Councillor Langermann, whose good will and energy are so beautifully balanced, has now delighted me for two weeks with his instructive conversation, and both by word and by example revived my courage for many things which I had been on the point of abandoning.  It is very enlivening indeed to re-behold the world in its entirety through the medium of a truly energetic man; for the Germans seldom know how to inspire in details, and never as a whole.

I here find an entirely natural transition to the information which you give me—­that our friend Wolf is not satisfied with Niebuhr’s work, although he preeminently should have had reason to be.  I feel, however, very calm about it, for I value Wolf infinitely when he works and acts, but I have never known him to be sympathetic, especially as regards the affairs of the present, and herein he is a true German.  Moreover, he knows entirely too much to permit himself to be instructed further and not to discover the gaps in the knowledge of others.  He has his own mode of thought; how should he recognize the merits of the views of others?  And the great endowments which he possesses are the very ones which are adapted to rouse and to maintain the spirit of contradiction and of rejection.

As to myself, a layman, I have been very greatly indebted to Niebuhr’s first volume, and I hope that the second will increase my gratitude toward him.  I am very curious about his development of the lex agraria.  We have heard of it from the time of our youth without gaining any clear conception of it.  How pleasant it is to listen to a learned and original man on such a theme, especially in these days, when the summons comes for a more free and unprejudiced consideration of the law of states and nations, as well as of all the relations of civil law.  It becomes obvious what an advantage it is to know little, and to have forgotten very much of that little.  I never love to mingle in the wrangles of the day, but I cannot forego the delight of quietly snapping my fingers at them.  I trust that the small leaf inclosed may win a smile from you.

I beg you to give my best regards to your wife, and convey my kindest greetings to the Koerners.  When the young man [28] again has anything ready, I beg that it may be sent me at once.  This time I should be most happy to receive a rather large article for January 30, the birthday of the duchess.  A thousand fare-you-wells!

* * * * *

GOETHE TO WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT

Weimar, February 8, 1813.

With sincere thanks I recognize the fact that you have been able so quickly and so perfectly to fulfil your friendly promise.  Your beautiful sketch has given me an entirely new impulse to studies of all sorts.  It is no longer possible for me to collect materials; but when they are brought to me in so concentrated a form, it becomes a source of very real pleasure for me speedily to fill the gaps in my knowledge and to discover a thousand relations to what information I already possess.

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