October 28.–

[ Biedermann-Herwig Nr. 4385: Prof. Riemer, who is second librarian of the Public Library, called on us and amused us above an hour, by describing Goethe’s mode of living, peculiarities, etc.,–facts one cannot get in books, or from any source but the knowledge of an intimate acquaint 96ance. Prof. Riemer lived nine years in Goethe’s house, and knew him, of course, from the lowest note to the top of his compass. He said that Goethe is a much greater man than the world will ever know, because he always needs excitement and collision to rouse him to exertion, and that it is a great misfortune that he is now without such influence and example as when Herder, Wieland, and Schiller were alive.

I asked what had been his relations with those extraordinary men. He replied that, from holding similar views in philosophy, Goethe and Schiller were nearest to each other, and Herder and Wieland; but that after the deaths of Schiller and Herder, Goethe became intimate with Wieland. Schiller, he said, had profited much by his connexion with Goethe, and borrowed much from his genius,–among other pieces, in his “William Tell,” which Goethe had earlier thought to have made the subject of an epic poem; but now they are all dead, and since 1813 Goethe has been alone in the world.

He has much on paper which has never been published, and much in his memory which has not been put on paper, for he writes always by an amanuensis, to whom he dictates from memoranda on a card or scrap of paper, as he walks up and down his room. Of his views in physics and comparative anatomy, he has published little, but a programme by a medical professor at Jena (Oken) has lately made a great noise, in which the doctrine that the brain is formed from the medulla spinalis was, no doubt, from hints first given by Goethe.

Among the many unpublished things he has on hand, are parts of a continuation of “Faust,” which Riemer had seen, in which the Devil brings Faust to court and makes him a great man; and some poems in the Persian style and taste which he wrote during the last war, to give a relief to his imagination and feelings by employing himself on something that had no connexion with Europe.

He lives now, in his old age, in unconsoled solitude; sees almost nobody, and rarely goes out. His enjoyment of life seems gone, his inclination for exertion gone, and nothing remains to him, that I can see, but a very few years of cold and unsatisfied retirement. ]