Weimar, Germany 1865
From the Journal of Lady Tennyson, 1865
August 12th. A. (Alfred) disliked Coblentz as much as ever; we left this (going by Eisenach and seeing the Wartburg) for Weimar. The people there seemed to be rather stupid about Goethe and Schiller, and in vain we tried to impress upon our driver that we wanted to see all which concerned them. Thanks to the kindness of a soldier we got inside the palace, and saw the rooms where Goethe lived so much with the Grand Duke and Duchess. Next morning we secured a commissionaire, who took A. and the boys inside the Fiirstengruft, where they saw Goethe's and Schiller's coffins lying with those of the Royal Family. Lionel had a leaf of bay given him for A. from Goethe's coffin. We were very much pleased by the cheerfulness and simplicity of Goethe's gartenhaus, which we visited. Afterwards we drove to Schiller's house, three rooms pleasant enough in spite of their bareness. His wife's guitar lay near his bed; on it a portrait of himself, said to be good, taken soon after death. The " other-world" peace of it struck A. and me. Then we went to the Church to see Lucas van Cranach's altar-piece, so interesting from the portraits of Luther and himself. The portrait of Luther as a monk I liked best. We drove to Treport, charmingly situated on the Ilm which babbles pleasantly along.
Sept. 1st. Went with Mr Marshall - secretary to the Grand Duchess - to Goethe's town-house. No key there for the rooms. The old woman said that she was alone in the house, and could not possibly go and fetch it. A. was touched by seeing the "Salve" on the door-mat, and all Goethe's old boots at the entrance. Mr Marshall brought the Herr Direktor, for eight years Goethe's secretary, who courteously left his dinner to come. Mr Marshall expressed his regret that there was no time to write to Madame von Goethe for an order to see the study.
The Director made no remark at the time, but, when he had shown us the busts and gems and statuettes, and Goethe's own drawings, he took us into the sacred study. One cannot explain in words the awe and sadness with which this low dark room filled A, The study is narrow, and in proportion long. In the middle was a table with a cushion on it where Goethe would lean his arms, and a chair with a cushion where he sometimes sat, but his habit was to pace up and down and dictate to his secretary. On one side of the room was a bookcase about two-thirds up the wall, with boxes for his manuscripts. There were also visiting cards, strung like bills together, and Goethe's old, empty, wine bottles, in which the wine had left patterns like frost patterns. On the other side of the room was a calendar of things that had struck him in newspapers. Here a door opened to his bedroom. Such a melancholy little place! By the bed was an arm chair, to which at last he used to move from his bed for a little change. All round the wall, by the bed and the chair, a dark green leafy carpet or tapestry was fastened halfway up the wall of the room. On the washing-stand was some of the last medicine he took. The one window at the foot of the bed was partly boarded up. It looked I think into the garden.
Source: Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir (1897) by Hallam Tennyson
The Life of Goethe: A Critical Biography
by John R. Williams
John R. Williams gives an account of Goethe's wide range of public activities as a minister of the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar, his relations with the leading figures of the day, his influence on contemporary culture, and his personal and literary reactions to historical events of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, from the ancien regime to the French Revolution, from the Napoleonic invasion of Germany to the defeat of Napoleon, from the Congress of Vienna to the July Revolution of 1830, from the declining years of the Holy Roman Empire to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in Germany. Goethe's life and work are introduced and explained to the student of literature and to the interested general reader. Williams reveals his subject in all the great variety of his character, his occasionally scurrilous humour and exuberance, his characteristic ironic ambivalence, and his sometimes flawed wisdom and humanity.
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