Regarding the antique bull, I should propose to have him carefully packed in a strong case, and sent to me for inspection. In ancient times these things were often made in replica, and the specimens differ greatly in value. To give any good bronze in exchange for another would be a bad bargain, as there are scarcely ever duplicates of them, and those that we do find are doubly interesting on account of their resemblances and dissimilarities. The offer I could make at present is as follows: I have a very fine collection of medals, mostly in bronze, from the middle of the fifteenth century up to our day. It was collected principally in order to illustrate to amateurs and experts the progress of plastic art, which is always reflected in the medals. Among these medals I have some very beautiful and valuable duplicates, so that I could probably get together a most instructive series of them to give away. An art lover, who as yet possessed nothing of this description, would in them get a good foundation for a collection, and a sufficient inducement to continue. Further, such a collection, like a set of Greek and Roman coins, affords opportunity for very interesting observations; indeed it completes the conception furnished us by the coins, and brings it up to present times. I may also say that the bull would have to be very perfect, if I am not to have a balance to my credit in the bargain above indicated.
Something very pleasing has occurred to me in the last few days; it was the presentation to me, from the Empress of Austria, of a beautiful gold snuff-box with a diamond wreath, and the name Louisa engraved in full. I know you too will take an interest in this event, as it is not often that we meet with such unexpected and refreshing good fortune.
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Weimar, December 3, 1812.
Your letter telling me of the great misfortune which has befallen your house, depressed me very much, indeed quite bowed me down; for it reached me in the midst of very serious reflections on life, and it is owing to you alone that I have been able to pluck up courage. You have proved yourself to be pure refined gold when tried by the black touchstone of death. How beautiful is a character when it is so compact of mind and soul, and how beautiful must be a talent that rests on such a foundation.
Of the deed or the misdeed itself, I know of nothing to say. When the toedium vitoe lays hold on a man, he is to be pitied, not to be blamed. That all the symptoms of this strange, natural, as well as unnatural, disease have raged within me—of that Werther leaves no one in doubt. I know right well what amount of resolution and effort it cost me then to escape from the waves of death, with what difficulty I saved myself from many a later shipwreck, and how hard it was for me to recover. And all the stories of mariners and fishermen are the same. After the night of storm the shore is reached again; he who was wet through dries himself, and the next morning when the beautiful sun shines once more on the sparkling waves “the sea has regained its appetite for new victims.”