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Sime time afterwards he procured a permanent situation, and was enabled to marry the woman he loved. Shy by nature, and averse to society, ambitious only of literary distinction, having laid up nis whole heart, and hopes, and life, in the quiet pleasures of his modest home, and in the society of the wife whom he had obtained after a protracted engagement of ten years, Ekermann during the next three years might, perhaps, be pronounced a happy man. In the third year of his marriage he lost his amiable wife, who died in giving birth to a son, and since that time he has become more shy and inaccessible than ever-shrinking nervously from the presence of strangers, and devoted to the poor little infant which has cost him so dear. The daughter-in-law and the grandsons of Goethe, who look up to him with a tender reverence, he seems to idolize, and has become in some sort the literary Mentor and aid of the young men, as Goethe had been his, long years ago. It is a family tie, every way sanctified, and not, I trust, to be severed in this world by aught that the world can give or take away.
GOETHE'S LAST LOVE.
The period at which these conversations commence was an interesting epoch in the personal existence of Goethe; it was about the time of his
visit to Marienbad, in 1823, and was marked by the composition of one of his finest lyrical poems, the elegy in three parts, which he has entitled " Trilogie der Leidenschaft.” He was then seventy-four, but in appearance sixty ; his eye still beaming with a softened fire, a cheek yet fresh with health, a well-knit figure, an upright, graceful carriage, a manner which took all hearts captive. The grand, the beautiful old man l-old, yet, alas ! still young enough, it seems, in heart and frame, to feel once more, and for the last time, the touch of passion; not a mere old man's love, such as we usually see it-half disease, or half infatuation-at best a weakness—the sickly flare of a dying lamp; but genuine passion in all its effects, and under its most profound and most painful, as well as its most poetical aspect.
Ekermann merely touches on this subject with all possible, all becoming delicacy ; but there seems
; no occasion for me to suppress here the mention of some circumstances not generally known, but which can bring nor shame, nor pain, nor regret to any human being
The object of this love was a young person he had m at Marienbad—one of the daughters of Madame de L-w. She has been described to me as fair and rather full-formed, intelligent, accomplished, and altogether most attractive. He began by admiring and petting her as a child then loved her_loved her against his will, his better sense, one might almost say, against his nature.
There was a report in Germany that he had offered her marriage; this is not true; but it was feared he might do so. He returned from Marienbad changed in manner; he had lost that majestic calm, that cheerfulness, which inspired such respect as well as affection in those around him; and for some weeks all were in anxiety for the event. But Goethe was a man of the world, and a man of strong sense; he resolved to free himself from a thraldom of which he felt all the misery, and perceived all the ridicule. He struggled manfully, and conquered; but after weeks of terrible suffering and a fit of illness, during which he was seized with a kind of lethargy, a suspension of all memory, perception, feeling, from which he was with difficulty roused; but he conquered ; and on his recovery betook himself to his usual remedy for pain and grief-hard work. He found “ a file for the serpent,” and was soon deep in his new theory of colors and his botanical researches. If there be any one in the world só vulgar-minded and so heartless, as to find in this story of a great poet's last love, a subject for cruel and coarse pleasantry, I must say that I pity such a being. In the elegy alluded to, we find no trace of the turbulence of youthful passion-no hopes, no wishes, no fears, no desires, no reproaches, such as lovers are wont to sing or say. It is no flowery, perfumed wreath of flattery thrown at the feet of a mistress, but rather the funereal incense of a solemn and fated sacrifice. It breathes the profoundest, the saddest ten
derness—as if in loving he took leave of love. There is nothing in these lines unbecoming to his age, nor discreditable to her; but all is grand, and beautiful, and decorous, and grave, in the feeling and expression. Sometimes, when I read it and think upon its truth, tears fill my eyes even to overflowing, and my very heart bows down in com passionate reverence, as if I should behold a majestic temple struck by the lightning of heaven, and trembling through its whole massy structure. In other moments of calmer reflection, I have considered the result with another kind of interest, as one of the most extraordinary poetical and pyschological phenomena in the history of human genius.
The first part of this poem is addressed to the shade of Werther, and contains some of the most powerful and barmonious lines he ever wrote; to the second part be has prefixed, as a motto, those beautiful lines in his own - Tasso
Und wenn der Mensch in seiner Qual verstummt
Ekermann says, that when Goethe laid before him this singular poem, he found it distinguished above all the rest of his manuscripts, written with peculiar care in his own neatest handwriting, on the best paper, and fastened with a silken knot into a red morocco cover. This little piece of fanciful, sentimental dandyism will bring to your recollection the anecdote of Rousseau binding his favorite letters in the “Heloise" with ribbon couleur de . rose, and using lapis-lazuli powder to dry the writing
Went on with Ekermann's book, and found some interesting things.
Ekermann, after he had spent some weeks at Weimar, tells his friend that he was beginning to feel the favorable influence of a more social life, and in some sort to emerge from the merely ideal and theoretical existence he had hitherto led, &c. Goethe encourages him, and says strikingly, “Hold fast to the PRESENT. Every position, (zustand,) every moment of life, is of unspeakable value as the representative of a whole eternity.”
The following passage is at once very touching and very characteristic. He seems to be a little melancholy, which was not often the case.
" When I look back," said Goethe, “ on my carly and middle life, and now in my old age reflect how few of those remain who were young with me, life seems to me like a summer residence in a watering-place When we first arrive, we form friendships with