The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

To those who have followed his career, the life of Goethe would appear to have been an exceptionally happy one.  Born to competence and comfort, endowed with a brilliant mind and a handsome person, blessed with unfailing health and high animal spirits, his progress through life was one long series of triumphs and successes.  From early manhood, and all through his long life, he enjoyed the love of woman, the friendship of men, the deep homage of the world of intellect, the uncourted favour of sovereigns and princes.  Never was there one who, in a greater degree, carried into the sere of life those blessings "which should accompany old age, as honour, love, obedience, troops of friends."  Was he content?  "I have always been cited as one peculiarly favoured by fortune, and I will not complain or find fault with the course of my life; but, in reality, it has been nothing but trouble and labour, and I can safely affirm that, in my seventy-five years, I have not had four weeks of enjoyment.  It was the everlasting rolling of a stone which required constantly to be raised anew.  My autobiography will show what I mean by this.  There were too many demands upon my energy both from within and without.  My essential happiness lay in my pathetic moods and workings, but how sadly were those disturbed and hindered by my external position!  Had I kept aloof from public and business transactions, and lived more in solitude, I should have been happier and done more as a poet."  Happier, it may be, though there are few who would not envy him his share of happiness; greater as a poet he could hardly have been -- so let us leave him in his glory. -- New Quarterly Magazine