Autumn Days in Weimar
THE cordial, trustful hospitality with which I was received by the old families of Weimar seems to justify an acknowledgment of it, yet makes the task a delicate one. The more the sanctity of private life is disregarded by that passion for personal gossip which, originating in France, has taken such vigorous root in America, the more it becomes an author’s duty to defend it; and the line of separation between this abuse and the legitimate description of general social characteristics is sometimes a little difficult to trace. I prefer, at least, to omit the mention of many pleasant minor incidents which might the more satisfactorily justify my impressions to the reader’s mind, and ask him simply to believe in their honesty.
The prevalent opinion throughout the rest of Germany seems to be that the society of Weimar retains, to an unusual degree, the rigid and cumbersome etiquette of a past generation. Forgetting that, a hundred years ago, the court was the freest in Germany, and that here, almost for the first time in history, culture was absolutely forced upon rank by the eminence of men who were not of patrician birth, the Prussian or Saxon or Bavarian repeats a few stories current thirty or forty years ago, and comfortably thrusts Weimar into its proper place in his ready - made theory of German society. Such a procedure may save trouble, but it is far from being just. Unfortunately, there is no intellectual chemistry which will cast the lines of education, prejudice, and inherited tastes upon an infallible spectrum, and enable us to estimate their value.
When I say that I found a freer, less conventional social spirit in Weimar than in the other small German capitals with which I have some acquaintance, I am quite prepared to hear the statement denied. The foreigner receives a more kindly consideration in Germany than in any other country in the world, and nowhere more so than in Weimar, where for so many years all forms of foreign culture were so heartily welcomed. Apart from this, however, the hospitality of the old families is so simple, frank, and cordial, as to be worthy of notice in these showy and luxurious days. At informal evening receptions one rarely sees other than morning costumes: the supper, served towards nine o’clock, is the ordinary family meal, consisting chiefly of tea, beer, cold meats, and salads: there is no etiquette beyond or conflicting with that of refined society all over the world; but, on the contrary, a graceful ease and freedom of intercourse which I have sometimes sorely missed in circles which consider themselves far more eminent. I admit, to the fullest extent, the intellectual egotism of the German race, for I have often enough been brought into conflict with it; yet there is an exceedingly fine and delicate manifestation of social culture which I have nowhere found so carefully observed as in Weimar. I allude to that consideration for the single stranger which turns the topics of conversation in the direction of his knowledge or his interests. How often have I seen, both in America and in England, a foreigner introduced to a small circle, in which the discussion of personal matters whereof he could have had no knowledge was quietly continued until the company dispersed! There is a negative as well as an affirmative (or active) egotism, and the reserve which our race seems to value so much often includes it.
The thorough and liberal culture of Weimar society was also a great delight to me. More than once it happened, in an evening company of twenty or thirty, young as well as old, that a French or English quotation suddenly — and quite naturally — changed the language used by all. On one occasion, I remember, I was asked to recite passages of an English poem which had been the subject of conversation. “ But I do not know any German translation of it,” I remarked. “ Oh, in English, of course! ” was the immediate reply; and for fifteen or twenty minutes afterwards the whole company conversed in English with the greatest fluency and correctness. Many of the young ladies, I soon discovered, were excellent artists as well as musicians; yet, when I called upon a distinguished family rather early one day, a daughter of the house excused herself very gracefully from remaining in the salon, on account of her duties in the kitchen. This union of a very high culture with an honest acceptance of the simplest household needs may seem almost ideal to some of my readers; yet they may take heart, for we have a few noble examples of it at home.
For more than a month after my arrival there was no court. The Grand Duke was in Berlin, the Grand Duchess and the two princesses were upon an estate in Silesia, and the newly-married heir of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach seemed inclined to prolong, as was natural, the freedom of his honeymoon. But one morning it was announced that their Hereditary Royal Highnesses were quietly installed in their wing of the castle. As one of my neighbors at the dinnertable, Baron von Salis, was the young Grand Duke’s adjutant, the formalities of an application for presentation were soon arranged, and the same evening I received an appointment for the following morning. I had met the prince at the Wartburg a year previous; but in the mean time he had visited Egypt and Palestine, tasted the delights of Nile travel, dined with my old friend Boker at Constantinople, and acquired many more of those experiences which, when mutual, almost constitute an acquaintance.
The only etiquette prescribed is full evening dress. I might have walked to the castle, as many of the Weimarese do, but there is something absurdly embarrassing in being seen in the streets, of a morning, in such guise, and I was fain to hide myself in the hotel - coach. The prince’s marshal, Baron von Wardenburg, received me in the anteroom, where I found the distinguished African traveler, Gerard Rohlfs, come to say good-by before starting for the Libyan Desert. Rohlfs is a remarkable specimen of manly strength and beauty, tall, blonde-haired, large - limbed, with an Achillean air of courage and command. The chain - full of orders on his coat seemed quite unnecessary, and the white cravat, I thought, weakened rather than emphasized his natural distinction.
Baron von Salis summoned me into the reception room, and there was time, before the prince entered, to examine its exquisite furniture, a copy of a set designed by Holbein, made entirely by Weimar mechanics, and presented by the princesses as a wedding gift. Only drawings could represent its rich simplicity and quaint elegance. The carpets, curtains, and chair-covers were rigidly subordinated to the furniture in color and design, so that the room produced a single, grateful impression, like that of a musical chord. The prince is short in stature, like his great-grandfather, the illustrious Karl August, and quite frank and unaffected in his bearing. After a talk of half an hour, he got rid of me very gracefully by rising to look at one of the pieces of furniture. This is always the most difficult part of an official reception, for the guest must neither seem to hasten it nor fail to catch the proper intimation.
Descending to the rooms of the Hereditary Grand Duchess, I was received by a handsome demoiselle d’honneur and conducted to a charming boudoir, all blue satin and amber tints, where sat her Royal Highness. She is the daughter of Prince Hermann of Saxe-Weimar, a branch of the family residing in Stuttgart. With her fair hair, clear blue eyes, rosy complexion, and slender form, she seemed to me English rather than German, and the slight differences of accent as she spoke English were those peculiar to Scotland. Although nearly a stranger to Weimar at the time of her marriage, she became instantly and warmly popular. The modesty with which she wore her new rank, the air of frankness and honesty which surrounded her presence, impressed even the common people, as in the case of Alexandra of Denmark. She rose to receive me, pointed to a seat as she resumed her own, and the interview was no more ceremonious than when a refined lady, in any land, accepts the visit of a gentleman.
Two or three weeks afterwards, the prince and princess gave “ a musical evening,” at which, if ever, the restraints of the Weimar court should have been manifested; but I must confess that I entirely failed to discover them. There may have been considerations apparent only to the native guests, — degrees of precedence, grades of salutation, warmth or coldness measured by a fine social thermometer, — of which I was ignorant. I only know that in such refinements a hospitable charity is always extended to the stranger. I may have interchanged the addresses “ Gracious Lady ” and “Excellency,” used “Sir Baron” instead of “Sir CourtChamberlain,” or have lingered ten seconds too long in greeting this official, to the detriment of that other entitled to an equal respect: these are matters with which only the native habitué is expected to be familiar. The effort of court etiquette is, naturally, to conceal itself, so that, while all the manifold proprieties are observed, there shall be a general air of ease and freedom.
There were some charming songs by the tenor of the opera, some excellent piano performances, much conversation, and finally a supper in the large hall. I am hardly capable of appreciating the technical excellence of music, since I take more joy in a single melody of Mozart than in a whole score of Wagner, and one with such tastes soon finds himself upon delicate ground in Weimar. There was something played — I scarcely know what to call it — which seemed to consist of a few wild, wandering notes, with an accompaniment which (to my ear) repeated the German word pfefferkuchen, pfefferkuchen ! (gingerbread) without change, until it grew almost distracting. I turned to a lady sitting near and indiscreetly asked, “Is it to be pfefferkuchen forever?” She looked at me with wide, incredulous eyes, too much astonished to be absolutely shocked, and answered, “ That is by Liszt.” Of course I became dumb.
Liszt, I must declare, is one of the incomprehensible fashions in Weimar. His arrogant whims and willful affectations are endured, so far as I can learn, without a protest. As he was absent during the whole of my stay, my impressions of the man are derived solely from his admirers, his power over whom I can only explain by referring it to some weird personal magnetism. At the festival given at the Wartburg in honor of the Hereditary Grand Duke, there was a lyrical drama written by Victor Scheffel, the popular author (some of whose poems have been translated by Leland), introducing the various historical personages and scenes, the memories whereof belong to that storied castle. Liszt composed the music for Selieffel’s poetry, and directed the orchestra until Luther came upon the stage: then he solemnly laid down his bâton and walked away, leaving his place to be filled by another. The incident was related to me by an eye - witness. The combined rudeness and bad taste of such a demonstration seems to have given no serious offense to the court.
Liszt’s oratorio of Christus was performed while I was in Weimar, and it was rather amusing to notice the determined efforts to like the work, among a portion of the society of the place. I confess, after I was informed that a keen, ear-piercing sostenuto on the piccoloflute represented the shining of the star of Bethlehem, I was not in a mood to do justice to the remainder of the performance. Music has it distinct limits, and all schools are false which endeavor to overstep them. If sound can be made so minutely descriptive as is claimed, we shall finally have the ingredients of our soup represented to us by the band, as we sit down to a festival dinner! However, I meant only to refer to the singular lordship which Liszt appears to exercise over a society, the members of which are so unlike him in race, creed, and habits. That there should be a crowd of young ladies, chiefly foreigners, waiting for opportunities to play before him and hear him play in turn, is natural enough. Were Goethe living, he would doubtless find in the master a new illustration of what he calls the “ daimonic ” element in human nature.
At the supper, we were seated at detached round tables, five or six persons at each. One of my neighbors was the Privy-Councilor Marshall, a Scotch gentleman of the best and purest æsthetic blood, to know whom was one of the fortunes of my visit. The secretary of the Grand Duchess, the tutor of the princesses in English literature, a friend of Carlyle, an admirable translator of English poetry into German, as well as a poet in his own right, he would have brightened the gloomiest capital, and even here he kept his own distinct illumination. If he should ever read these lines, I can imagine his modest protest; but I am glad that his position at court gives me at least a half-right to mention him by name. I owe him too many happy evenings, too much kind and wholehearted sympathy in my own personal labors, to be content with a silent gratitude.
My friend Schöll took me one evening to a meeting of the Society of Forty, of which Mr. Marshall is also an old member. Dr. Köhler read a delightful essay on a department of folk-lore, including some fine translations of Servian ballads; and then followed the hearty supper of boiled carp with horse-radish, and venison with salad, which belongs specially to Germany. To my surprise, there was quite as much table oratory as in America or England. All the principal members were called up, and in place of grave dissertations, — which popular impression connects with such occasions in Germany, — there were brief, pithy, and humorous speeches. The society has been in existence, I was informed, for more than forty years; some of the original members are venerable, gray-haired men, yet there is no flagging in their furtherance of literary and scientific interests.
Towards the end of November the court returned, and its hospitalities were added to the social attractions of the place. My second meeting with the Grand Duke and his family took place under such exceptional circumstances that I cannot describe it without relating other matters which may seem unnecessarily personal. The ladies of the Gustav-Adolf Verein — a society founded for the support of Protestant pastors and the maintenance of churches in those parts of Germany where Protestants are few and poor — invited me to give one of a course of lectures which they had arranged in the hope of increasing their funds. Since I had done the same thing, a year before, for a branch of the same society in Gotha, it was not possible to decline. I selected American Literature as a subject with which I was most and the audience least familiar, and also as affording me the best chance of dealing a few blows at the prevailing German belief in the all-absorbing materialism of American life.
The Lyceum system does not exist in Germany, as yet; but a few individuals have achieved some success as lecturers. Carl Vogt and Büchner, the naturalists, Jordan, the rhapsodist, and Fritz Reuter, as a reader of his Low - German stories, have made the profession popular and remunerative. This is due, however, to a special interest in themselves and their subjects, as well as to a more picturesque and animated delivery than the people have been accustomed to hear. Lectures have not yet become a necessary form of popular culture, and one reason is the utter indifference of the average German lecturer to the audience which he addresses. Given his subject, he treats it first in the manner of a college thesis, discarding all illustrations or applications which might be adapted to the hearer’s habits of thought; then, standing behind a high desk and two lamps, he fastens his eyes upon the manuscript and keeps them there to the end, while he reads in a mechanical, monotonous tone, with little inflection and less emphasis. I doubt whether an Athenian audience would have tolerated such a manner of delivery; our American audiences certainly will not.
I therefore determined to counteract the disadvantage of speaking in a foreign tongue by committing my lecture to memory, coming out from behind the desk, and addressing the audience face to face. In addition to illustrative quotations in English (which four out of five hearers were sure to understand), I selected a few of Strodtmann’s admirable translations, especially that of Poe’s Raven.
Thus prepared, I betook myself to the hall, and it seemed like a good omen that the first lady - directress of the society whom I met was the granddaughter of Wieland. Kindly greetings from the grandsons of Schiller and Herder followed, and presently a stir in the outer hall announced the arrival of the grandson of Carl August—the present Grand Duke, Carl Alexander — and his family. A row of crimson plush armchairs, in front of the audience, was reserved for them. All present arose as they entered and remained standing until they were seated, after which, without any introduction to take off the awkwardness of the beginning, I entered upon my task.
I will only say of the lecture that the passages I recited from Bryant, Emerson, Whittier, Longfellow, and other poets, seemed to be thoroughly appreciated by the audience. The Grand Duchess frankly exclaimed, “ How beautiful! ” at the end of Whittier’s Song of the Slaves in the Desert. There was also an evident interest created in the younger authors whom I mentioned, and during the succeeding days I was asked many questions concerning Stedman, Stoddard, Aldrich, and Bret Harte. If the assertions I made in regard to our culture seemed a little aggressive (since they were directed against an existing misconception), they were none the less received in the most hospitable manner. Had I been sure of as many and as friendly hearers in other German cities,
I should have been tempted to undertake a missionary tour in the interest of our literature.
The Grand Duke is a tall, handsome man of about fifty-five, with a slight resemblance to his cousin, Alexander II. of Russia. He cherishes the literary traditions of Weimar, yet, apart from these, keeps himself acquainted with all contemporary literature and art. At his table, the next day, he began immediately to speak of Poe, whose poem of the Raven he had never before heard. “ The conception is terrible,” he said. “ Of course the Raven can only symbolize Despair, and he makes it perch upon the bust of Pallas, as if Despair even broods over Wisdom.” It was a subtle remark; the thought had never occurred to me before, and I doubt whether it has been expressed in any criticism upon the poem. The Grand Duke spoke in enthusiastic terms of Hawthorne’s works, and seemed also to be greatly pleased with Mr. Calvert’s recent volume on Goethe. “I still distinctly remember Goethe,” he said. “ I can never forget his grand presence, especially his magnificent, luminous eyes.”
During a later visit to Weimar, when I took tea at the Belvedere, a summer castle about three miles from the town, the Grand Duke remarked, “ We have just been reading Goethe’s Pandora, for the first time; now I suppose you have read it, long ago.” “ Yes,” I answered, “ but I should like to hear, first, what impression it makes upon you.” “It is wonderful! ” he exclaimed; “ why is such a poem not better known and appreciated? ” Why, indeed? Why is Milton’s Paradise Regained snubbed by most readers and critics? Why is not Landor popular ? Why is the statuesque element in poetry, the glory of proportion and repose, the creation of a serene world, over which hangs “ an ampler ether, a diviner air,” so strange and foreign to the tastes of our day ? It is enough to ask the question; we need not vex ourselves in the search for an answer.
The two princesses, Marie Alexandrine and Elizabeth, are young ladies of such clear and distinct individuality as is rarely found within the guarded limits of court life. They have had all possible advantages of education, and are unusually accomplished in languages and music, but each has none the less developed her own independent views of art and life. The Princess Marie surprised me one day by saying, “ I have just read De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America; is it a correct account of your institutions? ” I replied that it was the best representation of our political system ever made by a foreign writer. “ But,” she continued, “ I am told by Americans that it is quite false; that everything has in reality changed and degenerated.” “ Were they native-born Americans, or German-Americans, who told you this? ” I asked. As I suspected, they belonged to the latter class.
It was easy to explain that a temporary corruption in political practices does not affect the principles upon which a government is founded. The class of German-Americans to which I referred is one which has done us positive harm in Europe. It may not be numerous, but it is loud and active because such expressions are always welcome in reactionary circles, and thus seem to give a social prestige to the utterers. There are, unfortunately, too many external circumstances which may be given as confirmation; and an American who keeps unshaken faith in his republic and the integrity of its people cannot easily make the grounds of that faith intelligible to strangers.
One of my most interesting and valued acquaintances was a lady, who, nearly as old as the century, still retained all the freshness of intellect and sensibility of heart which have made her life beautiful. Related as she is to one whom Goethe selected as the type of one of his noted characters, the most prominent figure in her memory is the poet’s. As a child, she regarded him as her stately fairy, coming with gifts and kindly words; as a girl, she loved him as the paternal friend to whom no unfavorable representations could make her disloyal ; and as a woman she saw and enjoyed the serenity of his closing years. Her conversation abounded with pictures of the past, so simple yet of such assured outline that they were almost palpably visible to my own eyes, and many a light, accidental touch helped to make clearer the one central form. Out of many incidents, each unimportant in itself, a quality of character may become gradually manifest, and to this end my studies were directed. Through the memories of those who had intimately known Goethe, I caught a multitude of reflected gleams of his own nature; but I cannot repeat them as detached fragments without going too far beyond the scope of this article.
Both the grandsons of the poet were absent during the greater part of my first stay in Weimar. Late in the autumn, the younger — Baron Wolfgang von Goethe—returned, and took up his residence in the old mansion on the present Goethe-Platz formerly called the Frauenplan. I first met him there, one dark November evening. For the first time I entered the door, upon the outside of which I had gazed so longingly, at intervals of time, during twenty years. A hall, paved with stone, turns to the right as you enter, leading to the foot of the long, gently - sloping staircase, which Goethe ordered built after his return from Italy. At the foot of the steps, on a pedestal running across the end of the hall, are copies of antique statues, including a faun and a hound; at the top there is a good cast of the beautiful group of San Ildefonso, Death and Immortality. Here the word “ SALVE,” painted on the floor, indicates the entrance to the rooms where Goethe received visitors, now, with all their relics and treasures, inaccessible to the public. The whole of the first story, in fact, is at present unused, except for the purpose of preservation; the family occupies only the upper floor, under the roof.
The old servant conducted me along a narrow passage at the rear of the house, to the foot of a spiral staircase. I now saw that there was a rear building, invisible from the street, and separated from the front by a small court-yard. At the time it was built, the house must have been unusually spacious. The staircase led to the upper floor, the rooms on which are small and not very conveniently disposed: during Goethe’s life they were appropriated to the many guests who enjoyed his hospitality.
Wolfgang von Goethe met me in the anteroom and led the way to his own apartment, looking upon the square. As he sat opposite to me, with the lamplight falling strongly upon his face, I could not help turning from him to Stieler’s portrait of Goethe (painted in 1828) which hung upon the wall. Except the chin and lower lip, which have a different character in the grandson, I found a striking and very unexpected resemblance. There were the same large, clear, lambent eyes, the same high arched forehead, and strong, slightly aquiline nose. The younger Wolfgang is also a poet, whose talents would have received better recognition had he borne any other name. His poem of Erlinde is fantastically imaginative, it may be said; yet it contains passages of genuine creative power and beauty. It never could become popular, for it is a poem for poets: the author writes with an utter forgetfulness of the audience of his day. He was born, and grew up, in an atmosphere which isolated him from the rapid changes in taste and thought and speculation that have come upon the world since his grandfather’s death; and now, he and his elder brother are constantly censured, in Germany, simply because they are not other than they naturally and inevitably are. The possession of an illustrious name is certainly a great glory, but it may also become an almost intolerable burden.
The room was filled with souvenirs or suggestions of Goethe. There were some of his drawings; pictures by his friends, Hackert and Tisehbein; a portrait of his son, August, and another of the beloved daughter-in-law, Ottilie, who died only a year before my visit. She and her sons were brought nearer by their kindness, in former years, to the one nearest to me; and this blending of half-personal relations with the task I bore in my mind, and the flashing revelations of the master’s face and voice in the face and voice I saw and heard, made my visit an overpowering mixture of reality and illusion, which I can hardly yet separate in memory. The conversation was long and, to me, intensely interesting. Many circumstances, which I need not now particularize, made my object appear difficult of attainment; but I was met with a frankness which I can best acknowledge by silence.
Some days afterwards, I called on a sunny morning, and Herr von Goethe accompanied me through the court-yard and a passage under the rear building into the old garden, which was Goethe’s favorite resort in fine weather. A high wall divides it from the narrow street beyond, and later houses shut out the view of the park which it once commanded. But the garden-ground is spacious, secluded, and apparently unchanged in all its principal features. Two main alleys, edged with box, cross in the centre; there is an old summerhouse in one of the farther corners; ivy and rose-trees grow at their own wild will, here and there, and the broad beds, open to the sun, show a curious mixture of weeds, vegetables, and flowering plants. Directly overlooking the garden are the windows of Goethe’s library and study, and there is the little door of the private staircase by which he descended to take the air and watch the metamorphoses of plants. The shutters were closed: the whole aspect of the building was forlorn and dilapidated, in keeping with the lawless growths of the garden. A cold light, an imagined rather than real warmth, fell from the low Northern sun, and the frost was hoar upon leaves in shady corners. We walked up and down the central alley for a long time, but I cannot remember that much was said by either.
My last visit to Weimar found the elder grandson, Walter von Goethe, at home, and the younger absent. The brothers never act, even in the slightest matters, without consultation, and my hope of seeing the closed halls and chambers in the Goethe-house depended on the consent of both. Fortunately, the question had been discussed between them in the mean time, and I was most kindly and cordially received by Walter von Goethe. His inheritance of genius manifests itself in a passion for musical studies, and those who know him intimately assert that a sufficient necessity might have made him a successful composer. He is a short, slender, graceful man of fifty - five, with dark hair and eyes, and a strong likeness to his mother and her family. In a day or two my request was granted, and a time fixed for its fulfillment, as the keys of the rooms are kept, by a daughter of Schuchart, Goethe’s last secretary. It had been a long time, my friends in Weimar informed me, since any strangers had been allowed access to the rooms.
On a bright June morning I once more ascended the broad staircase, and was met at the word Salve by my host, who opened the door beyond it. The apartments consist of an anteroom and a large salon, occupying the greater part of the first story. It was really a museum of art which I entered, crowded with cabinets, cases, busts, and pictures. Many of the objects have their own separate histories, and, as illustrations of phases of Goethe’s life or passages from his works, cannot be spared. There is still, for instance, the picture which he bought in Frankfort, as a boy, the selection being allowed to him by his father, as a test of his natural taste: there are illustrations of his Italian journey by his companions, Tischbein and Kniep; Meyer’s copy of the Aldobrandini marriage fresco, and many other objects well known to all students of his works. Whatever interest attracted Goethe, though only temporarily, was made the subject of illustration: he collected specimens from far and near, in order to possess himself of all its features, and thus fix its place in the realms of art or knowledge.
In the large room there is a small but superb collection of Majolica ware, another of antique gems, another of drawings by the old masters, and another of coins and medals. A careful examination of these treasures would require many hours, and I was obliged to be content with a rapid general inspection, leaving scores of drawers unopened, although my host kindly offered to gratify any special curiosity. But on all things the stamp of the large tastes, the universal interests of the master remained; as a creative man, no form of the creative faculty in man was indifferent, or even trivial, to him. His grand personality lingered in the rich, untenanted rooms; and when Walter von Goethe, turning to some refreshments which had been placed in the anteroom, took a glass of wine and bade me welcome in his grandfather’s name, I could not help saying, “ Pardon me if I seem to be his guest, even more than yours! ”
In the right wing, connecting the front with the rear portion of the house, Goethe’s collection of mineralogical and geological specimens is preserved. A noted geologist, who examined it during his life-time, informed me that it contained only the rarest and choicest articles; but from lack of scientific knowledge I had no desire to open the venerable cases. Beyond this wing, we first enter the library, a narrow room, crowded with books. There are probably from three to five thousand volumes, nearly every one of which appears to have been well used. All the rooms in the rear building overlook the garden; though small and low, they are full of sun, and few noises of the town reach them.
To enter Goethe’s study was almost like an intrusion upon some undying privacy which he has left behind him. Nothing in it has been changed since he went forth. The windows were open ; there was a vase of spring flowers on the secretary’s table; one side of the room was clear of furniture, so that the poet might walk up and down, as he dictated; his coffee-cup and spoon stood upon a little stand; a wicker - basket held his handkerchief, and the high desk beside the window, where he frequently wrote standing, waited with his inkstand, pen, and some sheets of the large, coarse foolscap he preferred. On this desk I also recognized a little statuette of Napoleon, in bluish glass, which Eckermann brought from Switzerland, and which Goethe prized as an illustration of his own Farbenlehre. The chairs and tables are of the plain, substantial character of the last century; there is neither carpet nor rug on the floor, neither picture nor ornament to be seen; a Bohemian’s garret could hardly be so bare and simple.
A door on the eastern side of the study stood half open. I looked inquiringly at my host; he nodded silently, and I entered. It was a cell, rather than a room, lighted by one little window, and barely wide enough for the narrowest of German box-beds. The faded counterpane was spread over the pillow, and beside the head of the bed stood an old armchair with a hard footstool before it. Sitting there, in the same spot, with the counterpane over his knees, the March daylight grew faint to Goethe’s eyes, and with the words, “More light!” this world passed away from him.