Page:The Works of J. W. von Goethe, Volume 12.djvu/346

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324

LETTERS FROM ITALY

and I clearly see that no one, in fact, thanks me for the endless pains I have been at. Such a work is never finished: it must, however, pass for such, as soon as the author has done his utmost, considering time and circumstances.

All this, however, will not be able to deter me from trying a similar operation with "Tasso." Perhaps it would be better to throw it into the fire; however, I shall adhere to my resolution; and since it must be what it is, I shall make a wonderful work of it. On this account, I am pleased to find that the printing of my works goes on so slowly; and then, again, it is well to be at a distance from the murmurs of the compositor. Strange enough, that, even in one's most independent actions, one expects—nay, requires—a stimulus.

Caserta, March 16, 1787.

If in Rome one can readily set one's self to study, here one can do nothing but live. You forget yourself and the world; and to me it is a strange feeling to go about with people who think of nothing but enjoying themselves. Sir William Hamilton, who still resides here as ambassador from England, has at length, after his long love of art and long study, discovered the most perfect of admirers of nature and art in a beautiful young woman. She lives with him,—an English woman about twenty years old. She is very handsome, and of a beautiful figure. The old knight has had made for her a Greek costume, which becomes her extremely. Dressed in this, and letting her hair loose, and taking a couple of shawls, she exhibits every possible variety of posture, expression, and look, so that at the last the spectator almost fancies it is a dream. One beholds here in perfection, in movement, in ravishing variety, all that the greatest of artists have rejoiced to be able to produce. Standing, kneeling, sitting, lying down, grave or sad, playful, exulting, repentant, wanton,