Two new numbers of Ueber Kunst und Alterthum and Zur Naturwissenschaft are about to appear—the fruits of my winter’s labors. Fortunately, they have been so carefully prepared that no noteworthy hindrance was presented by my troubles and by the subsequent illness of our Grand Duchess, which filled us all, especially my convalescent self, with fear and anxiety.
Please give my kindest regards to your wife, and, by the way, I need not assure you that you will certainly be most highly welcome to our most gracious court. In my household children and grandchildren will meet you with joyous faces; our nearest friends we shall assemble as we wish. If in the interval you should have some message for me, I beg you to send it to my address here, for then it will reach me most quickly.
And now I again send the very best of all kind greetings to your dear wife; may good fortune bring me once more to her side. Pardon a somewhat distracted way of writing, indicative of packing.
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GOETHE TO WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT
October 22, 1826.
Your letter and package, most honored friend, gave me a very welcome token of your continuous remembrance and friendly sympathy. I wish, however, that I might have received an equal assurance of your good health. For my own part, I cannot complain; a ship that is no longer a deep-sea sailer may perhaps still be useful as a coaster.
I have passed the entire summer at home, laboring undisturbed at editing my works. Possibly you still remember, my dearest friend, a dramatic Helena, which was to appear in the second part of Faust. From Schiller’s letters at the beginning of the century I see that I showed him the commencement of it, and also that he, with true friendship, counseled me to continue it. It is one of my oldest conceptions, resting on the marionette tradition that Faust compelled Mephistopheles to produce Helen of Troy for his nuptials. From time to time I have continued to work on it, but the piece could not be completed except in the fulness of time, for its action has now covered three thousand years, from the fall of Troy to the capture of Missolonghi. This can, therefore, also be regarded as a unity of time in the higher sense of the term; the unities of place and action are, however, likewise most carefully regarded in the usual acceptation of the word. It appears under the title:
Interlude to Faust.
This says little indeed, and yet enough, I hope, to direct your attention more vividly to the first instalment of my works which I hope to present at Easter.
I next ask, with more confidence, whether perchance you still remember an epic poem which I had in mind immediately after the completion of Hermann and Dorothea—in a modern hunt a tiger and a lion were concerned. At the time you dissuaded me from elaborating the idea, and I abandoned it; now, in searching through old papers, I find the plot again, and cannot refrain from executing it in prose; for it may then pass as a tale, a rubric under which an extremely large amount of remarkable stuff circulates.