Page:The Works of J. W. von Goethe, Volume 12.djvu/344

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322

LETTERS FROM ITALY

looks. With his usual blunt honesty he said to ———, "You have capacity, but you are unable to accomplish anything: stay with me a year and a half, and you shall be able to produce such works as shall be a delight to yourself and to others." Is not this a text on which one might preach eternally to dilettanti? "We would like to see what sort of a pupil we can make of you."

The special confidence with which the queen honours him is evinced not merely by the fact that he gives lessons in practice to the princesses, but still more so by his being frequently summoned of an evening to talk with, and instruct them on art and kindred subjects. He makes Sulzer's book the basis of such lectures, selecting the articles as entertainment or conviction may be his subject.

I was obliged to approve of this, and, in consequence, to laugh at myself. What a difference is there between him who wishes to investigate principles, and one whose highest object is to work on the world and to teach them for their mere private amusement. Sulzer's theory was always odious to me on account of the falseness of its fundamental maxim, but now I saw that the book contained much more than the multitude require. The varied information which is here communicated, the mode of thinking with which alone so active a mind as Sulzer's could be satisfied, must have been quite sufficient for the ordinary run of people.

Many happy and profitable hours have I spent with the picture-restorer Anders, who has been summoned hither from Rome, and resides in the castle, and industriously pursues his work, in which the king takes a great interest. Of his skill in restoring old paintings, I dare not begin to speak; since it would be necessary to describe the whole process of this yet difficult craft, and wherein consists the difficulty of the problem, and the merit of success.