No compromise, it is seen, was offered; no proposal of a truce would have been acceptable. It was a case of 'Everything or Nothing'; and thus desperately challenged, the young man's conscience threw off once for all the yoke of his 'dedication', and, as respectfully as he could, without parade or remonstrance, he took a human being's privilege to fashion his inner life for himself.
Translated by Anna Swanwick ( 1808 )
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the greatest of German men of letters, was
born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, August 28, 1749. His father was a man of
means and position, and he personally supervised the early education of his
son. The young Goethe studied at the universities of Leipsig and Strasburg,
and in 1772 entered upon the practise of law at Wetzlar. At the invitation of
Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he went in 1775 to live in Weimar,