Excerpt from Letters From Switzerland: Letters From Italy; Iphigenia in Tauris; Torquato Tasso; Goetz Von Berlichingen
Alas! How wretched must any work of man look in the midst of this great and glorious Nature, but espe cially such sorry, poverty-stricken works as these black and dirty little towns, such mean heaps of stones and rubbish! Large rubble and other stones on the roofs, too, that the miserable thatch may not be carried off from the top of them; and then the filth, the dung, and the gaping idiots! When here you meet with man and the wretched work of his hands, you are glad to run away immediately from both.
That there are in man very many intellectual capaci ties which ih this life he is unable to develop, which, therefore, point to a better future and to a more har monious state of existence, on this point we are both agreed. But, further than this, I cannot give up that other fancy of mine, even though, on account of it, you may again call me, as you have so often done already, a mere enthusiast. For my part, I do think that man feels conscious, also, of corporeal qualities of whose mature expansion he can have no hope in this life. This, most assuredly, is the case with ﬂying. How strongly, at one time, used the clouds, as they drove along the blue sky, to tempt me to travel with them to foreign lands! And now in what danger do I stand, lest they should carry me away with them from the mountain-peak as they sweep violently by! What desire I feel to throw myself into the boundless regions of the air, to poise over the terrific abyss, or to alight on some otherwise inaccessible rock! With what a longing do I draw deeper and deeper breath, when, in the dark blue depth below me, the eagle soars over rocks and forests, or, in company and in sweet concord with his mate, wheels in wide circles round the eyry to which he has entrusted his young! Must I, then, never do more than creep up to the summits? Must I always go on clinging to the highest rocks, as well as to the lowest plain? And when I have at last, with much toil, reached the desired eminence, must I still anxiously grasp at every holding-place, shudder at the thought of return, and tremble at the chance of a fall?
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