Friday, July 23, 2021

Goethe and the literary inheritance

Francis Daniel Pastorius
This post is an expansion of the previous one.

There is current among literary scholars to interpret earlier writers in terms of what their writings telegraph, so to speak, about current preoccupations. This current of scholarship “reads forward.” If we go back to the 18th century, we will of course discover that some writers shared certain modern preoccupations, for instance, concerning colonialism, racism, imperialism, feminism, and so on. But even when we find that an earlier writer was an outspoken opponent of slavery, it usually turns out that the writer came to the subject from a different perspective. For instance, the majority of abolitionists were deeply religious people and did not necessarily share such modern values as equality, a value that has been legally institutionalized in the West. The idea of such civil rights were in nuce back in the 18th century, and codifying them has simply “naturalized” them. That is fine, but in the process we tend to imagine that we are smarter than our forefathers and foremothers.

For myself, I do look for ways in which Goethe telegraphs “modernity,” but whenever I look at portraits (such as those in those in the previous post) of men from the Republic of Letters (and they were for the most part men), from law, religion, philosophy, natural science, and literature, I cannot but feel the difference of the world in which Goethe came of age and wrote his most important works. Still, the late 18th century was an age of transition, from traditional ways of living and organizing life, handed down over generations, to what Goethe himself characterized (in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre) as the “veloziferic” era.

My desire is to ferret out what Goethe knew from living in the world in which he lived. All the annotations that Strack notes of Goethe’s indebtedness to precursors is simply the way that earlier poets acknowledged their legitimacy within an evolving tradition.  It strikes me that Goethe’s “Ephemerides,” discussed in the previous post, is an early attempt at a commonplace book, in which he would compile matters of intellectual and literary interest.

Commonplace books are the subject of a chapter in a new book (recently reviewed in the London Review of Books) by Anthony Grafton entitled Inky Fingers: The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe. It is a series of portraits of scholars from the 16th to the 18th century who sought to compile and transmit the centuries of knowledge written down in medieval manuscripts. This knowledge of the past, as the reviewer writes, “was gained only through hard graft and expertise.” One learns that these scholars created special equipment for the backbreaking, hand-wrenching work: rotating bookwheels for unwieldy large medieval volumes, along with spinning chairs and hooks on which to hang thousands of piece of paper on which they wrote notes.

All this knowledge, excerpted on slips of paper, was organized into categories and written down in commonplace books. One of Grafton’s portraits of these “treasure seekers” was Francis Daniel Pastorius (1651–1720), whose commonplace books contained “not only excerpts from ancient texts but also jokes, stories, reflections, recipes …” It strikes me that Goethe’s “Ephemerides” is an early attempt at a commonplace book, in which he would compile matters of intellectual and literary interest. In fact, there are some jokes in the Ephemerides, including this one: Altum petit ut crepitus in balneo redditus. According to the commentary in Der junge Goethe, this was “ein derber, im 16. Jh. verbreiteter Witz.” Google Translate offers little enlightenment on the punchline. As Grafton writes of such witticisms: “You had to be there.”

However much Goethe criticized old-fashioned scholars — there are entries in the Ephemerides on this subject — reading itself remained for him what Grafton writes of Pastorius, “a deeply serious enterprise.” All of what he read became part of the identity he crafted for himself, which was founded in his polyglot reading and writing. In the Ephemerides he appears simply to be hunting and gathering, so to speak, which would eventually add up to a larger body of work. I am going out on a limb here, because the Maximen and Reflexonen, for instance, is not my area of expertise, but it strikes me that Goethe must have been storing up these apercus for years. He would later have the assistance of a number of secretaries in categorizing them. Someone reading this blog might fill me in on this aspect, which I will then pass on here.

Mephisto and Student by Julius Oldach

Pastorius was of course the founder of Germantown in Pennsylvania. As Wikipedia puts it: “ein deutscher Jurist. Er begründete die Deutsche Überseewanderung und war der einzige deutsche Schriftsteller des Barock in Amerika.” He came from a learned family. According to Grafton, his father, the jurist Melchior Adam Pastorius, was "a compiler on the grand scale and a versifier almost as obsessive as his son. In 1657 he issued a massive study of the election and coronation of the Holy Roman emperors.” His son, who had begun his studies in Altorf, wrote of the tedium of the traditional forms of learning at the university, criticizing the professors who pursued erudition for its own sake, which echoes Goethe’s own complaints about his studies in Leipzig: “Many professors waste their time on useless questions and clever trifling tricks, and while they detail the minds of the learners on empty questions they prevent them from aspiring to more solid matters.” Though learned himself, Pastorius wished to use “the records of the past to challenge what he saw as a sterile orthodoxy in his own day.” And to put it to practical effect, as, for instance, in his opposition to slavery, which existed even among the Quakers in Pennsylvania.  He compared Christian slavers to the Turks who enslaved Christians. With several other Germantown founders, he drafted in 1688 the first protest against slavery in America. Of note about Pastorius, is the lack of that head attire that distinguished the learned in the early 18th century. Unfortunately there seem to be no contemporary paintings of him, but we can take it from the drawing at the top of this post that he became a frontiersman.

I could go on — and will later do so — as I seek to uncover the influences that made Goethe into "Goethe."

Picture credits: Main Post; Science Photo; Kunstkopie

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The young Goethe reads



The pandemic and the resulting lockdown have led to Goethe Girl doing some intensive reading in connection with her earliest work on Goethe, namely, the pre-Weimar Goethe. My interest has always been “how Goethe became Goethe,” and it is in the period before 1775 that we see (so I contend) the seeds of this development. On my shelves are the five-volume set of Der junge Goethe, which I have again been making my way through, and I have also been able to profit from very early studies of Goethe’s life and literary output in the pre-Weimar period. In this lockdown situation, there was no need to go to libraries; these studies are available online. Among others, they include Elisabeth Mentzel’s (1909) study of Wolfgang and Cornelia’s childhood teachers (see previous post) and Julius Vogel’s Goethes Leipziger Studentenjahre (1923). Just the other day I was able to download Adolf Strack’s Goethes Leipziger Liederbuch (1893).

Both Mentzel and Vogel drew on archival sources, from contemporary Frankfurt and Leipzig, but Strack’s study exemplifies the immersion in detail that characterized the philological scholarship of 19th-century German scholars. Strack, for instance, subjects to minute analysis each line and verse of the 19 poems in The Leipziger Liederbuch of 1769, Goethe’s first “publication.” We learn that some of Goethe’s favorite poetic terms — heiter, munter — were common vocabulary among Anacreontic poets, while Goethe’s use of “Liebste” was uncommon among these predecessors. Strack goes on and on. Goethe was imitating, if not really copying, poetic conceits that were in circulation and that he adapted to his own particular use.

One of the most interesting sections of the first volume of Der junge Goethe is the thirty-four pages of “Ephemerides,” notes that Goethe wrote between January and March 1770, right before he left Frankfurt for his second course of legal study in Strassburg. They give insight into what Goethe was reading in the year and a half after his return from Leipzig in August 1768. The first entry concerns Paracelsus (1493–1541), described by Wikipedia as “a Swiss physician, alchemist, lay theologian, and philosopher of the German Renaissance.”

Many of the entries concern legal matters (the Code of Justinian), to which Goethe appears to have been directing his mind before going to Strassburg, and are written in Latin. Goethe was very competent in Latin, and it would be required for his doctoral dissertation. Strictly speaking, the Ephemerides contain little about literary matters, although one sees the influence (with the help of Strack) of Lessing and of Wieland, especially of the latter’s Idris and of his translation of Shakespeare’s plays. There are a number of entries from the Institutio Oratoria (again per Wikipedia), “a twelve-volume textbook on the theory and practice of rhetoric by Roman rhetorician Quintilian” from ca. 95 A.D.

Count Carl Gustav Tessin

It was these references to works of humanists of earlier centuries that brings home how much Goethe was steeped in another world. Even the image above of Paracelsus testifies to that. (Click on images to enlarge.) As does the more or less contemporary portrait of Carl Gustaf Tessin, a Swedish count and politician, whose bewigged representation recalls Goethe’s account of Gottsched. That there was a transition away from such accoutrements in the 1770s can be seen in another portrait of the count (below), by Jacques-André Aved. Of interest is that Goethe mentions in the Ephemerides reading “die Briefe des Grafen von Tessin,” although what Goethe writes of these letters does not quite accord with the youthful features of the count in these portraits: “ein liebenswürdiger, erfahrender Greiss blickt aus jeder Zeile.” It turns out that the count died in January 1770, which may situate Goethe’s reading of the letters.

The latter pages of the Ephemerides contain less Latin and more German, and in this connection my interest was caught by a translation of a passage from Act 4, scene 2 of Shakespeare’s play King John. According to Adolf Schöll (Briefe und Aufsatze von Goethe aus den Jahren 1766 to 1786, publ. 1857), the translation is Wieland's, “mit Abweichungen.” Here is the English version.

I saw a smith stand with his hammer, thus,
The whilst his iron did on the anvil cool,
With open mouth swallowing a tailor's news;
Who, with his shears and measure in his hand,
Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet,
Told of a many thousand warlike French
That were embattailed and rank'd in Kent:
Another lean unwash'd artificer
Cuts off his tale and talks of Arthur's death

The Gossiping Blacksmith
It turns out that there is a painting from the year 1769 of this very subject —  The Gossiping Blacksmith —  by the English artist Edward Penny. Would Goethe have known of this painting? In the Ephemerides he writes of an address given by Joshua Reynolds on the opening of the Royal Academy of Art on January 2, 1769. The Tate, where the Penny painting resides, does not offer a provenance for the work, so I can’t tell whether it was exhibited at that date. But as with the mention of Count Tessin, one might infer that Goethe had read “news” accounts of both matters.

Image credits: Science Photo Library; Swedish Furniture; The Tate

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Young Goethe

Johann Michael Eben, Rossmarkt in Frankfurt (1780)

In recent years I focused my Goethe research on world literature in connection with Goethe's comments on
the subject and with the work by Fritz Strich, Goethe und die Weltliteratur. Since the publication last year of my essay, I have turned back to my earliest interest in Goethe, the pre-Weimar Goethe and the subject of my dissertation, basically "how Goethe became Goethe." At the time of writing my dissertation (1994), the scholarly literature on this period was sparse. A reader of one of my earliest submissions to the Goethe Yearbook, of Goethe’s early play Die Laune des Verliebten, complained that I included no recent literature on the subject. As I wrote to Tom Saine, then editor of the Yearbook, there were scarcely any recent publications on this early pastoral drama, excepting an article in 1991 by Heinrich Detering. Thus, my dissertation had been heavily reliant on scholarship of the early 20th century, if not earlier: Hermann Baumgart, Fritz Brüggemann, Max Herrmann, Hans Georg Heun (Der Satzbau des jungen Goethe, one of my favorites!), Heinz Kindermann, Albert Leitzmann, Siegmar Schulte.

Anyway, here I am back again, with a new project that may or may not have something to do with Wilhelm Meisters Theatralische Sendung, and am again immersing myself in early scholarship on Goethe's formative years, e.g., the study by Elisabeth Mentzel from 1909 entitled Wolfgang and Cornelias Lehrer: Ein Beitrag zu Goethes Entwicklungsgeschichte. Goethe's father's record of his household accounts indicates the payments made to various teachers, both male and female, but Mentzel's further archival research is indeed impressive, especially as few of Goethe’s teachers merit any contemporary mention, outside of birth and death records, applications for Frankfurt citizen status, tax payments, and the like. Besides the material on the subjects of instruction, the chapters of her book offer much insight into the life of many an aspiringly upwardly mobile individual, most of whom had no family roots in Frankfurt and had to fight hard not only for residence rights and rights to teach but also for their daily existence.

The first thing one notes about the education of Wolfgang and Cornelia is that Herr Rat was a helicopter parent par excellence. Mentzel notes the changing nature of educational practice in the late 18th century, and the instruction employed by Goethe's father's for his children reminds me of parents of children in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, employing tutors and trainers to prepare their kids from even before kindergarten to get into elite schools and then into elite colleges. So, we may judge that certain similarities exist between economic conditions between the last half of the 18th century and the latter half of the 20th. At one time, Goethe had as many as five instructors.

I should also mention that, though she concedes that Goethe had an excellent memory, he included very few details of his early education in his autobiography, What I most love about Mentzel's book, along with Ernst Beutler's marvelous book, Essays um Goethe, is the way Mentzel extracts hints of sources for later works. For instance, she suggests that the figure of the harpist in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre may have its origin in the siblings' Italian teacher, Domenico Giovinazzi. As Menzel points out, Giovinazzi was already in his late sixties during the years of instruction (1753, 1754, and 1755). A native of southern Italy, he was first a member of a Catholic religious order, the faith of which he rejected before moving north and eventually landing in Zurich, where he converted to the Reformed faith. From there it was on to Frankfurt, where there were many performances of Italian opera in the first quarter of 18th century, which indicates a knowledge of Italian language and music. In the 1730s already, Giovinazzi was the most prominent Italian teacher in the city. He and Goethe's father got along well, having musical interests in common.

Mentzel also traces Goethe's later enthusiasm for Erwin von Steinbach and the Cathedral in Strassburg to Johann Michael Eben, Goethe's rather mediocre drawing teacher who nevertheless was known for his detailed copperplate renderings of "citiscapes." “Erfindung,” writes Mentzel, was not Eben's talent, but “getreue Wiedergabe des Geschauten.” The portrait Goethe made of himself at his desk in his Frankfurt bedroom indicates what he had learned from Eben by the early 1760s: namely, proportion, detail, and architectural features.

Images: eBay; Deutsche Geschichte in Dokumenten und Bildern

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How much poetry, how much truth?

Clärchen in Egmont (W. von Kaulbach, detail)

Goethe frequently mentions in Dichtung und Wahrheit the divertissements poetiques with which he regaled friends in his youth. He also writes that spontaneity characterized his literary production in these pre-Weimar years. Ideas or scenes would form fully in his head, and he would sometimes jump out of bed in the middle of the night to record them. In Book 19 he mentions how he came upon the figure of Egmont: after writing Götz he became interested in a similar turning point in the affairs of state, which led him to the uprising in the Netherlands against the Spanish. He and his father had lively discussions about he might handle the topic. In turn his father ardently wished to see in print what his son had already worked out in his  head (“dieses in meinem Kopf schon fertige Stück auf dem Papiere, es gedruckt, es bewundert zu sehen”). And so began, he writes, in the days during which he waited for the coach that would take him to Weimar, the composition of Egmont, not like with Götz, in logical order (“in Reih und Folge”); instead, after an introduction, he devoted himself to the main scenes without paying much attention to the connections between them.

There are many things about Goethe’s life that one would like to know more. Unfortunately, he destroyed almost all of his pre-Leipzig correspondence, which might have given us a picture of those get-togethers with Frankfurt friends of his youth, during which he entertained (as per DuW) them with spontaneous poetic effusions. One also misses, of course, the absence of a comparable autobiography of the early Weimar years. Of course, since Dichtung und Wahrheit was written half a century and more after the events it describes, one always has to be careful at taking Goethe at his word about his youth.

Still, it strikes me that surviving correspondence as well as other documents of the early Weimar years offer evidence of the truth of the above-mentioned autobiographical account.

Parts 3 and 4 of DuW portray what Goethe calls the “Zerstreuungen” (distractions) of his life in Frankfurt following on his entrance into the literary world, beginning with his contributions to the Frankfurter Gelehrten Anzeigen and with Götz and Werther. Everyone wanted to meet him, wanted something from him, wanted to instruct him, plus there was the “distraction” of his relationship with Lili Schönemann. Such was also his life in Weimar from the get go. Nicholas Boyle writes that 1778 was the year of “Goethe’s involvement with the amateur theater” in Weimar. Goethe became the organizer of theatrical entertainment for the court, writing some of the plays himself and even acting in them. While Goethe did not abandon his “earlier pyrotechnic productivity,” as Boyle puts it, “in the circumstances it is remarkable that Goethe wrote as much as he did, unsupported either by the immediate Weimar environment or by the wider world of German literary culture.” By the way, on this date in 1778, Goethe mentions that "Egmont war mir wieder in Sinn gekommen."

 The diary entries of 1778 document that Goethe saw a lot of theater and opera as well as productions on which he played a major role. Interesting for me to see, especially because of my interest in the "Ur-Meister" is that Goethe records four meetings with the actor Conrad Ekhof in January of 1778, which is when he began writing the novel.

Images: Das Goethezeitportal

Friday, April 9, 2021

The young Goethe

Goethe by Lips

Yes, I have updated the image on the blog. Quite a lot of my scholarship has concerned Goethe's earliest literary productions, what I call the "pre-Weimar Goethe," as there occurred a slow transformation of  his poetic production after he settled in Weimar in 1775. He moved away from what initially made him Germany's most famous writer, the author of The Sorrows of Young Werther and Götz von Berlichingen. This was the Goethe about whom I wrote my dissertation, a study of the earliest influences on his writing. The last few years I was involved on the subject of world literature, which owes much to Goethe's own thoughts on that notion, beginning in the 1820s. For about a year now, I have been working on a project that takes me back to my earlier focus, and am rereading his earliest works again. In this connection, I am also rereading his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit, which deals with that early period of his life, published in 1811, The above drawing of Goethe by Johann Heinrich Lips was done about the time of the Rhine journey Goethe undertook in 1774.

Today I was reading a passage in Book 15 of the autobiography, in which Goethe describes that trip, which include a visit to the Jabach home in Cologne, named after the man who built the house in the 17th century. I posted a few years ago on Goethe's visit (see here), in which he spoke of the effect on him of a family portrait of the Jabach family. I had just seen the painting myself, which has been recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today I looked up the work on the Met's website and learned that it had been sold already in 1792 to an English collector, after which it passed through various private hands before its acquisition by the Metropolitan in 2014. According to the commentary in the Hamburg edition of the autobiography, the Jabach house itself was destroyed by a bomb in 1943.

Gamepiece with Dead Heron (1695)

On this Rhine journey in which Goethe made lots of new acquaintances along the way, he also visited the hunting estate Bensberg Castle, which had a large collection of paintings of hunting scenes by the Netherlandic painter Jan Weenix. Goethe was very impressed by one of the paintings of dead game ("entlebten Geschöpfe") by Weenix. It's impossible to know which painting Goethe saw at Bensberg, but the image here shows one of Weenix's paintings that is also now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its provenance, however, is very different. According to the Met website, it was owned by Baron Mayer Rothschild of Vienna until 1905, when it passed to his nephew Alphonse. It was seized by the Nazis in 1932, then returned to Austria in 1948, and restituted to Clarice Baron Rothschild of New York in 1950. The dealers Rosenberg & Stiebel sold the painting to the Met in 1950.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

"zum ewigen Ruhme"

(Click to enlarge)

I have come across two recent books on the European Enlightenment. One is by Ritchie Robertson: The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790.  Robertson is a scholar of German literature who has already published a book on Lessing and the Enlightenment. The other is by Steffen Martus: Aufklärung: Das deutsche 18. Jahrhundert - Ein Epochenbild. Martus a scholar of German literature whose book focuses on Germany in the 18th century (basically the period 1680 to Kant’s 1784 essay “Was ist Aufklärung?”).  From its preface (gleaned from Amazon’s Kindle sample), Robertson is covering a larger swathe of territory, viewing the Enlightenment as a pan-European phenomenon (although “Europe” as such was not yet in existence). Martus, though a literary scholar, introduces German history as well, beginning with the Brandenburg elector princes and their quest for equal power status with Britain, France, the Hapsburgs, and Russia. I was fortunate to be able to check out the book by Martus from the NY Public Library, but have so far only skimmed it, paying more attention to the treatment of literary figures than on-the-ground history: it is, after all, like the volume by Robertson, 1,000 pages.

I sense, however, from what I have been able to glean, that both volumes are concentrating on the different “estates” and their “medial” influence on changing, more dynamic social and political circumstances. From what Robertson writes in the preface — and I don’t know whether it is his own opinion or if he is simply presenting the attitudes of the “Enlighteners” — they are a very self-satisfied, know-it-all lot, bent on exposing and expunging the prejudices of the past and on transforming the masses to their own (more enlightened, naturally) ways of thinking. Like Martus, however, Robertson highlights the “networking” and the “networks” that flourished in the 18th century, especially with the appearance of more and more periodicals.

It was interesting to see that Johann Christian Gottsched (1700-1766) is taken more seriously by Martus than one usually encounters him in studies of the Goethe era. Since I wrote my dissertation on the pre-Weimar Goethe, I read back then many of the poets and writers that preceded him in the eighteenth century, including Gottsched's Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst vor die Deutschen, mainly trying to figure out where Goethe was coming from in his earliest poetic productions. Martus's chapters on the philosopher Christian Wolff and Gottsched portray the intellectual “soil,” so to speak, in which Kantian philosophy incubated, a period I later covered in an essay on Bodmer and Breitinger.  Gottsched was in his own time a controversial figure, but Goethe’s portrayal of him in his autobiography has stamped him irrevocably.

Indeed, one can say that Goethe’s opinions had a lasting effect on the posthumous reputations of many 18th-century figures. Why else, for instance, would one remember today Count Thoranc, the French military man who occupied the Goethe family home during the French occupation of Frankfurt during the Seven Years’ War. For Goethe’s father, supporter of Prussia, it was an unhappy time and at one point there were maneuvers outside the city between the French and the Germans (Schlacht bei Bergen). Goethe’s father was so enraged by the outcome that he insulted the count to his face, whereupon the count demanded that the father be taken to the “Wache.” A friend of the family, who spoke French and had served the entire time as a mediator between the Goethe family and the count sought to have the count rescind this order. It is recounted in a lengthy scene in book 3 of the first part of Goethe's autobiography. It is a blow-by-blow exchange (in the most diplomatic terms, of course), and toward the conclusion the friend tries the following gambit on the count:

Ich habe Euch so oft über Eure Fassung bewundert, Herr Graf; gebt mir diesmal Gelegenheit, Euch anzubeten. Ein Krieger ist ehrwürdig, der sich selbst in Feindes Haus als einen Gastfreund betrachtet; hier ist kein Feind, nur ein Verirrter. Gewinnt es über Euch, und es wird Euch zu ewigem Ruhme gereichen!”

This appeal causes the count to weaken, to break out in a smile, whereupon the friend promises to tell the children of the family and Goethe's mother how much they owe the count, and that they will likewise henceforth recall the count’s magnaminous behavior to outsiders. And, as the friend promises, “eine Handlung dieser Art kann nicht untergehen!

And how true it is. Gottsched and the Count are immemoriably linked: indeed, zu ewigem Ruhme.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Goethe in 1778

Should any readers have wondered why Goethe Girl has been absent from posting here and also Goethe's Tweets, it is not because she has been victim to the virus. In late December an errant piece of heavy furniture fell on her head, and she was remanded for the month of January to what the neurologist called "home rest" -- in other words: house arrest, as it involved cessation of much that was important to her: no reading, writing, or physical activity, for going on five weeks. She was allowed to listen to audio books, as long as headaches didn't trouble her, and she made her way through William Meisters Lehrjahare and several of Goethe's novellas (along with Jane Austen's major novels). It has to be said that the German readers of Goethe's works are not as good as English readers. The Germans don't distinguish the different characters in their voices as well, and Goethe's WMLJ can be rather tedious to listen to. It is this drawback that has kept her from downloading Dichtung und Wahrheit, as the two samples on Audible are not enticing. Both male readers have wonderful voices, but they seem to be enchanted with their own voices, rather than with the story they are telling.

Released at the beginning of February there was a lot to catch up on. I had really been looking forward in January to posting Goethe's diary entries on Twitter, as January 1778 was filled with activities. First off, he finished writing the first book of the so-called Urmeister. It is amazing that he had any time to write, as his life that month was chockablock with court-related activities.

Ekhof by Anton Graf (1774)
It being January there were skating parties and sleigh rides, alongside rehearsals for a performance of the play The West Indian by Richard Cumberland. It was directed by Conrad Ekhof, theater director in Gotha, with whom Goethe seems to have had a conversation over dinner ("Eckhof as mit mir. Erzählte die Geschichte seines Lebens"). Since Goethe played the title role in the play when it was performed in Weimar on January 13, allow me to quote from the Wikipedia entry describing the hero:

Its hero, who probably owes much to the suggestion of Garrick, is a young scapegrace fresh from the tropics, "with rum and sugar enough belonging to him to make all the water in the Thames into punch," — a libertine with generous instincts, which prevail in the end.

Goethe's play Der Triumph der Empfindsamkeit was performed for the duchess's birthday on January 30, but the month might be said to have been overshadowed by the suicide on January 17 of the 16-year-old "Hoffräulein" Christel von Laßberg. Goethe was among those who went to her parents' home that evening. He notes in his diary on January 18 that Knebel spent the night at his house and that they discussed the suicide: "Viel über der Christel Todt. Dies ganze Wesen. Dabey ihre letzten Pfade ppp."

Image: ScienceDirect