Title: Letters from Switzerland and Travels in Italy
Truth and Poetry: from my own Life
Author: Johan Wolfgang, von Goethe
Translator: A. J. W. Morrison
Release Date: October 4, 2016 [EBook #53205]
Produced by Laura N.R. and Marc D’Hooghe at Free Literature (online soon in an extended version, also linking to free sources for education worldwide … MOOC’s, educational materials,…) Images generously made available by the Internet Archive.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Faith is a holy vessel into which every one stands ready to pour his feelings, his understanding, his
imagination as perfectly as he can. With Knowledge it is directly the opposite. There the point is not whether we know, but what we know, how much we know, and how well we know it.
But youth still retains this trait of childhood, that it harbors no malice against good companions; that its unsophisticated good nature may be brushed somewhat roughly indeed, to be sure, but cannot be permanently injured.
It must be confessed that travellers upon removing to a distance from the restraints of home, are only too apt to think they are stepping not only into an unknown, but into a perfectly free world; a delusion which it was the more easy to indulge in at this time, as there was not as yet any passports
to be examined by the police, or any tolls and suchlike checks and hindrances on the liberty of travellers, to remind men that abroad they are subject to still worse and more painful restraints than at home.
And then the line of glittering glaciers was continually drawing the eye back again to the mountains. The sun made his way towards the west, and lighted up their great flat surfaces, which were turned towards us. How beautifully before them rose from above the snow the variegated rows of black rocks:—-teeth,—-towers,-—walls! Wild, vast, inaccessible vestibules! and seeming to stand there in the free air in the first purity and freshness of their manifold variety! Man gives up at once all pretensions to the infinite, while he here feels that neither with thought nor vision is he equal to the finite!
And as no man, not even the most ordinary character, was ever a witness, even for once, of great and unusual events, without their leaving behind in his soul some traces or other, and making him feel himself also to be greater for this one little shred of grandeur, so that he is never weary of telling the
whole tale of it over again, and has gained at any rate a little treasure for his whole life; just so is it with the man who has seen and become familiar with the grand phenomena of nature. He who manages to preserve these impressions, and to combine them with other thoughts and emotions, has assuredly a treasury of sweets wherewith to season the most tasteless parts of life, and to give a pervading relish to the whole of existence.
I am now beginning to revisit the principal sights of Rome: in such second views, our first amazement generally dies away into more of sympathy and a purer perception of the true value of the objects. In order to form an idea of the highest achievements of the human mind, the soul must first attain to perfect freedom from prejudice and prepossession.
The whole time of my residence here, I have heard scarcely any topic of conversation at the ordinary, but Cagliostro, his origin and adventures. The people of Palermo are all unanimous in asserting that a certain Joseph Balsamo was born in their city, and having rendered himself infamous by many disgraceful acts, was banished. But whether this person is identical with the Count Cagliostro, was a point on which opinions were divided. Some who knew Balsamo personally asserted they recognized his features in the engraving, which is well known in Germany, and which has also travelled as far as Palermo.