And so ever!
Weimar, October 19, 1830. J. W. VON GOETHE.
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GOETHE TO WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT
Weimar, December 1, 1831.
Already informed by the public press, honored friend, that the beating waves of that wild Baltic have exercised so happy an influence on the constitution of my dearest friend, I have rejoiced in a high degree, and have done all honor and reverence to the waters which so often wreak destruction. Your welcome note gave the fairest and the best of all substantiation to these good tidings, so that with comfort I could look forth from my hermitage over the monastery gardens veiled in snow, since I could fancy to myself my dearest friend in his four-towered castle, amid roomy surroundings, surveying a landscape over which winter had spread far and wide, and at the same time with good courage pursuing to the minutest detail his deep-founded tasks.
Generally speaking, I can perhaps say that the apperception of great productive maxims of nature absolutely compels us to continue our investigations to the minutest possible details, just as the final ramifications of the arteries meet, at the extreme finger-tips, the nerves to which they are linked. In particular I might perhaps say that I have often been brought more closely to you than you probably know; for conversations with Riemer very often turn on a word, its etymological signification, formation and mutation, relationship, and strangeness.
I have been highly grateful to your brother, for whom I find no epithet, for several hours of frank, friendly conversation; for although assimilation of his theory of geology, and practical work in accordance with it, are impossible for my mental process, yet I have seen with true sympathy and admiration how that of which I cannot convince myself in him obtains a logical coherence and is amalgamated with the tremendous mass of his knowledge, where it is then held together by his priceless character.
If I may express myself with my old frankness, my most honored friend, I gladly admit that in my advanced years everything becomes more and more historical to me. Whether a thing has happened in days gone by, in distant realms, or very close to myself, is quite immaterial; I even seem to become more and more historical to myself; and when, in the evening, Plutarch is read to me, I often appear ridiculous to myself, should I narrate my biography in this way.
Forgive me expressions of this character! In old age men become garrulous, and since I dictate, it is very easy for this natural tendency to get the better of me.
Of my Faust there is much and little to say; at a peculiarly happy time the apothegm occurred to me:
“If bards ye are, as ye maintain;
Now let your inspiration show it.”