Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XV. - Goethe's Works, vol. 5 (W. Meister's Travels; Elective Affinities)
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CHAPTER XV. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 5 (W. Meister’s Travels; Elective Affinities) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 5: W. Meister’s Travels; Elective Affinities.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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Makaria is found to be in a relation to our solar system which one may hardly venture to express. In the spirit, the soul, the imagination, she cherishes it; she not only contemplates it, but forms as it were a part of it. She sees herself drawn onward in those heavenly orbits, but in a manner quite peculiar; she has revolved round the sun since her childhood, and in fact, as is now discerned, in a spiral continually receding from the central point and circling towards the outer regions.
If it may be assumed that beings in so far as they are corporeal tend towards the centre, in so far as they are spiritual towards the circumference, then our friend belongs to the most spiritual; she seems born only to disengage herself from the earthly, to penetrate to the nearest and most distant spaces of existence. This peculiar quality, glorious as it is, was laid on her, from her earliest years, as a weighty responsibility. From childhood she remembers her innermost self, as penetrated by luminous beings, irradiated by a light with which the brightest sunshine has nothing in common. She often saw two suns, an inward one, and one without in the heavens; two moons, of which the external one retained its size in all its phases, whilst the inner one diminished ever more and more.
This gift drew her sympathy away from common things; but her excellent parents availed themselves of all means of culture for her. All capabilities were active in her, all modes of activities effective; so that she was able to satisfy all external relations; and whilst her heart, her mind was entirely filled with super-mundane vision, her actions and conduct still remained ever conformable to the noblest morality. As she grew up, helpful everywhere, unremitting in great and small services, she moved like an angel of God upon earth, whilst her spiritual whole moved it is true around the natural sun, but with respect to the supernatural one in ever-widening circles.
The excessive plenitude of this condition was in some degree relieved by the fact that there also seemed to be an alternation of day and night in her; for when the inner light was diminished she strove to fulfil her outer duties most faithfully, and on a fresh refulgence within resigned herself to the most blissful repose. Nay, she has remarked that a sort of clouds have from time to time hovered round her, and shared for a period the aspect of her heavenly companions—an epoch which she has always contrived to employ for the benefit or pleasure of her friends.
As long as she kept her visions secret, it was no small matter to support them. What she revealed of them was not acknowledged or was misinterpreted: she therefore allowed it to pass to the outer world as a malady: and it is still always so spoken of in the family. But at last good fortune brought to her the man whom you see with us, equally estimable as physician, mathematician and astronomer, a thoroughly noble man who yet at first really found his way to her from curiosity. But as she gained confidence in him to gradually describe her condition to him, when she had joined the present with the past, and introduced a continuity into the circumstances, he was so possessed by the phenomenon that he could no longer separate from her, but every day tried to penetrate more deeply into the secret.
At first, as he not indistinctly hinted, he held it to be an illusion: for she did not deny that from earliest youth she had diligently occupied herself with the science of stars and sky, that she had become well-informed in that respect, and never lost an opportunity of making, by the aid of instruments and books, the structure of the universe clearer to her senses. He was therefore not to be dissuaded but that it was acquired; the effect of a highly disciplined imagination, the influence of memory, was to be suspected, with the co-operation of discriminating power, but especially of a hidden method of calculation.
He is a mathematician and therefore obstinate; a clear mind and therefore incredulous: he remained long on his guard, noticing accurately, however, what she alleged; tried to anticipate the result of several years, attended particularly to the most recent utterances coinciding with the opposition of the heavenly luminaries, and at last exclaimed, “Now, why should not God and Nature create and arrange a living armillary sphere, a spiritual clockwork, such that it should be able to follow, as our clocks do day by day and hour by hour, the course of the stars of its own accord and in its own way.”
But here we do not venture to go further; for the incredible loses its value if we seek to inspect it in closer detail. Yet thus much we do say: what served as the basis of the calculations to be applied was as follows—
To her, the seeress, our sun seemed in her vision much smaller than she saw it by day: moreover an unusual position of this higher luminary in the zodiac gave occasion to some deductions.
On the other hand doubt and bewilderment arose, because the observer indicated one star or another as likewise appearing in the zodiac, but of which nothing could be perceived in the sky. It might be the small planets at that time still undiscovered: for from other utterances it could be gathered that, having long ago crossed the orbit of Mars she was nearing that of Jupiter. She had manifestly for a long time been contemplating with astonishment, it would be hard to say at what distance, this planet in its tremendous glory, and had beheld the motion of its moons about it, but had afterwards seen him in the strangest guise as a waning moon, and in fact reversed, as the waxing moon appears to us. From this it was concluded that she saw him from the side, and was actually on the point of crossing his orbit, and striving towards Saturn in the illimitable space. Thither no imagination follows her: but we hope that such an entelecheia* will not altogether abandon our solar system, but on reaching its boundaries will long to return to influence again the life and well-being of the earth for the benefit of our descendants.
Whilst we herewith conclude, in the hope of pardon, this ethereal poem, let us turn back to that terrestrial fable of which we have given a passing indication above.
Montan had given out with the greatest appearance of truth that that extraordinary person who was able to indicate so well by feeling the differences of the material of the earth, had already gone abroad with the first of the emigrants; a statement, however, which to the thoughtful must have seemed altogether unlikely. For how could Montan and others of his sort have let so handy a divining-rod go from his side? Moreover, soon after his departure, by the aid of gossip and special tales of the under house-servants on the subject, a general suspicion arose. For Philina and Lydia had brought with them a third person under the pretence that she was a servant, for which however she did not seem to be in the least adapted: and besides she was never wanted when the ladies dressed or undressed. Her simple costume clothed the compact, well-knit body very neatly, but like the whole of her person gave an indication of rusticity. Her behavior without being rough showed none of the culture of society, of which ladies’-maids generally offer a caricature. Moreover she soon found her place amongst the servants; she associated herself with the garden and field-servants, laid hold of the spade and worked like two or three. If she got hold of the rake, it flew in the nimblest way over the upturned earth, and the widest space resembled a well-levelled flower-bed. In other respects she kept herself quiet and very soon won universal good-will. They would talk to each other about her, and say that she had often been seen to lay down her implement and run across the fields over stock and stone to a hidden spring where she could quench her thirst. This practice she had repeated daily, contriving, from any point at which she happened to be standing, always to find out some pure running water or other, whenever she had need of it.
And thus a witness to Montan’s statement had remained behind. He, probably in order to avoid troublesome trials and inadequate testings, determined to conceal the presence of so remarkable a person from his noble hosts, who would otherwise have well deserved such confidence. We, however, have wished to communicate, even incompletely as it lies before us, what has come to our knowledge, with the friendly intention of directing the observation of men of research to similar cases, which present themselves, by some sort of indication, perhaps more often than one would think.
[* ] An Aristotelian term meaning effective power.—Ed.