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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Bettina’s Last Meeting with Goethe
By Bettina von Arnim (1785–1859)
 
From a Letter to her Niece in 1824, first published in 1896

IN the evening I was alone again with Goethe. Had any one observed us, he would have had something to tell to posterity. Goethe’s peculiarities were exhibited to the full: first he would growl at me, then to make it all up again he would caress me, with the most flattering words. His bottle of wine he kept in the adjoining room, because I had reproached him for his drinking the night before: on some pretext or other he disappeared from the scene half a dozen times in order to drink a glass. I pretended to notice nothing; but at parting I told him that twelve glasses of wine wouldn’t hurt him, and that he had had only six. “How do you know that so positively?” he said. “I heard the gurgle of the bottle in the next room, and I heard you drinking, and then you have betrayed yourself to me, as Solomon in the Song of Songs betrayed himself to his beloved, by your breath.” “You are an arrant rogue,” he said; “now take yourself off,” and he brought the candle to light me out. But I sprang in front of him and knelt upon the threshold of the room. “Now I shall see if I can shut you in, and whether you are a good spirit or an evil one, like the rat in Faust; I kiss this threshold and bless it, for over it daily passes the most glorious human spirit and my best friend.” “Over you and your love I shall never pass,” he answered, “it is too dear to me; and around your spirit I creep so” (and he carefully paced around the spot where I was kneeling), “for you are too artful, and it is better to keep on good terms with you.” And so he dismissed me with tears in his eyes. I remained standing in the dark before his door, to gulp down my emotion. I was thinking that this door, which I had closed with my own hand, had separated me from him in all probability forever. Whoever comes near him must confess that his genius has partly passed into goodness; the fiery sun of his spirit is transformed at its setting into a soft purple light.  1
 
 
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