January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


FIFTEEN ENGLISH FRIENDS TO THE POET GOETHE; 17 July 1831; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18310717-FEF-G-01; CL 5:305-308.


[17? July 1831]


Among the Friends whom this so interesting Anniversary calls round you, may we ‘English Friends,’ in thought and symbolically, since personally it is impossible, present ourselves, to offer you our affectionate congratulations. We hope you will do us the honour to accept this little Birthday Gift; which as a true testimony of our feelings, may not be without value.

We said to ourselves: ‘As it is always the highest duty and pleasure to shew reverence to whom reverence is due, and our chief, perhaps our only Benefactor is he who by act and word, instructs us in Wisdom; so we, undersigned, feeling towards the Poet Goethe as the spiritually-taught towards their spiritual Teacher, are desirous to express that sentiment openly and in common. For which end we have determined to solicit his acceptance of a small English Gift, proceeding from us all equally, on his approaching Birthday; that so, while the venerable Man still dwells among us, some memorial of the gratitude we owe him, and think the whole world owes him, may not be wanting.’

And thus our little tribute, perhaps among the purest that men could offer to man, now stands in visible shape, and begs to be received— May it be welcome, and speak permanently of a most close relation, tho' wide seas flow between the parties!

We pray that many years may be added to a life so glorious; that all happiness may be yours, and strength given to complete your high task, even as it has hitherto proceeded, ‘like a star, without haste, yet without rest.’