TC TO JOHANN PETER ECKERMANN; 27 July 1832; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18320727-TC-JPE-01; CL 6:187-190.
TC TO JOHANN PETER ECKERMANN
Craigenputtoch, Dumfries, 27th July, 1832.
My Dear Eckermann,
It was the will of one now departed, but ever dear to both of us, that our intimacy should not cease with his death, but be drawn closer thereby: let his will, in this as in all things, be done! To me whatsoever has pertained to him becomes now doubly precious; his glorious Existence, which I nowise figure as terminated or terminable, but only as withdrawn from our bodily sight, still walks before me as my Pillar of Fire by day and Pillar of Cloud by night,1 hallowing with quite peculiar sacredness all that environs it. In the whole living world, there is perhaps no man that loves him more faithfully than we two: shall not this be a bond between us; a holy memorial, whensoever, thro' what yet remains of our pilgrimage, Destiny may bring us near each other? Germany is now grown to me almost a Necropolis, and silent Gottesacker [grave yard], with only the tombs of my loved ones left for me there: among its many busy millions, still working and walking alive, there are few I have so much to do with as with yourself. Let me hear of you, from time to time; let us see each other, if either of us ever cross the German Channel: let us both live mindful of our spiritual Father, mindful also of one another as his common sons, and above all, worthy of such a relation!
For the last three months, I have been in constant expectation of a Letter from some of you: but now begin to suspect that there has been some misfortune on my own side of the Correspondence.2 My last Letter from the Poet was received in London eight or nine months ago: I continued there (joined by my Wife) all winter; in such an uncertain state of bustle and excitement that Spring and the time of my return was at hand, before I could compose myself to write an Answer. A long Answer, however, was written, some time about the twentieth of March; wherein all that I had been doing and considering was sketched out: my sad astonishment at much I had seen in London, active and speculative; my joy to escape out of it, and think my own thought, and go my own path, once more among the Mountains. I concluded, I remember, by earnestly requesting a Letter; said, “I should not feel at home again till a Weimar message and welcome reached me there.” Alas! There were no more such messages appointed me. I was met at Dumfries by tidings that my Friend had gone into Eternity; that I should hear his voice “no more again at all forever.” My Letter should have reached Weimar about a week after his decease; at the hour of that great event, I was about Liverpool on the road hither. It seemed to me, that day the news found me, as if a Sun had gone out: I did not weep; my feeling was not sad only, but high and solemn, not of mourning only, but of victory and triumph. “So stirbt ein Held: anbetungsvoll [So dies a hero: sight to be worshipped]!”3
The public mind, even in England, agitated as we are with politics and what not, was nowise insensible to this occurrence: within the next three days, I had three several applications, to write upon it, from Editors of Periodicals. My mood, at the time, was not for writing or speech, but for Silence. After some weeks I relieved myself and gratified some friends with a little Funeral Oration, published in the New Monthly London Magazine, which I wish I had any means of sending you. It is entitled “Death of Goethe,” and stands, I think, in the May or June Number.4 Of late I have occupied myself in writing a long rhapsodical Essay under the rubrick “Goethe's Works” for the Foreign Quarterly Review: it will be in Germany ere long, and may perhaps come under your eye. My other speculations, since you last heard of me, have been mostly on English topics; tho', I hope, somewhat in the German spirit.
As no Message arrives from any one in Weimar, I now begin to believe that my last Letter, which could never reach the hand it was addressed to, has altogether miscarried; and both to you and to Madam von Goethe5 my silence must seem questionable. Let this hurried sheet deliver us from such misunderstanding: assure the now doubly widowed Ottilie of our deepest sympathy; say, on my Wife's part and mine, that her welfare will always be a matter of heartfelt interest to us; that it were a true satisfaction could she write to us, and so, by the imperfect medium of Letters, the best that is open for us, keep up a friendly neighbourhood.
For yourself, you must not neglect to write, and that soon. How much have you to tell me! All, all, is quite unknown; nothing beyond one short paragraph in the Newspapers, about an event that must be forever important to me! A Lady6 copies me a Letter from Germany, with details of the Death-hour, which I dwell on with a sad joy, which you must confirm or correct for me. Nothing, no smallest matter, that relates to him can be too small for me. Tell me his last word, if you know it; assure me that his Departure was soft and blessed, as of one entering into that Land of Light whither his earthly Life had been a faithful journeying.
As to me, I am once more settled here, and at my work; minded to follow it as faithfully as I may, let the times be never so contradictory. Contradiction is the lot of man; out of Contradiction he is here to bring Reconcilement. I had a Manuscript with me in London; purposing to have it converted into a Book. So distracted was the state of Literature, as I found it, that I soon desisted from this enterprise; and my Manuscript is again here with me still manuscript. I have some thoughts of taking it to Edinburgh this winter, and there printing it at my own charges. Our Bookselling world is evidently drawing to its latter end; and it will be long before a new method can establish itself, tho' establish itself it must. So soon as I get into print, you if possible shall have a copy.
During these present days I have been revising an old Translation of Das Mährchen,7 and attempting to comment on it a little; with intent to send it forth to our World. The number of minds to whom it will have some significance in this country is constantly and rapidly increasing. To me it seems one of the noblest Poems or Prophecies produced for many ages; inexhaustible in meaning, deeper every new time I look into it. If you know any Commentary in German worth looking at, neglect not to point it out to me. The kind Author once promised my Wife such a one: but now from his hand it can never come.— Write to me soon, and forget me not. My Wife unites with me in truest regards to you, to Ottilie and her Children, and all that were dear to him. His Portrait still hangs beside us: she says, he does not seem dead, but only removed to a greater distance and become immortal. Wie das Gestirn, ohne Hast, aber ohne Rast [Like the star, without haste, but without rest]!8 So be it.
I remain, ever— Your affectionate,
Pray send me your correct Address. Tell me what you are specially employed in; whether still in expounding German to the English, or in what; and whether I can in any way serve you. If Madam do not write, speak also of her and hers. If you have any communication with Hitzig and the Berlin Gesellschaft für ausländische Litteratur [Society for Foreign Literature], send me tidings of them, assure them of my remembrance.
I gave a young Englishman, Henry Reeve,9 a card to you; whom doubtless you will receive without unwillingness, and treat as you find possible and suitable. I reckoned him a worthy youth, and know his friends to be worthy.