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Weimar, February 28, 1811.
I have read somewhere that the celebrated first secretary of the London Society, Oldenburg, never opened a letter until he had placed pen, ink, and paper before him, and that he then and there, immediately after the first reading, wrote down his answer. Thus he was able to meet comfortably the demands of an immense correspondence. If I could have imitated this virtue, so many people would not now be complaining of my silence. But this time your dear letter just received has roused in me such a desire to answer, by recalling to my mind all the fullness of our life during the summer, that I am writing these lines, if not immediately after the first reading, at least on awaking the next morning.
I think I anticipated that the good Pandora would slow down somewhat when she reached home again. Life in Toeplitz was really too favorable to this sort of work, and your meditations and efforts were so steadily and undividedly centred upon it, that an interruption could not help calling forth a pause. But leave it alone; there is so much done on it already that, at the right moment, the remainder will, in all likelihood, come of its own accord.
I cannot blame you for declining to compose the music to Faust. My proposition was somewhat ill-considered, like the undertaking itself. It can very well rest in peace for another year; for the trouble which I had in working over the Resolute Prince has about exhausted the inclination which we must feel when we set about things of that sort. This piece has indeed turned out beyond all expectation, and it has given much pleasure to me and to others. It is no small undertaking to conjure up a work written almost two hundred years ago, for an entirely different clime, for a people of entirely different customs, religion, and culture, and to make it appear fresh and new to the eyes of a spectator. For nowhere is anything antiquated and without direct appeal more out of place than on the stage.