As Goethe himself has said, the first twenty-six years of his life are essentially the period of his ''development.'' During that period we see him as he came from Nature's hand. His words, his actions have then a stamp of spontaneity which they gradually lost with advancing years as the result of his social and official relations in Weimar.
observations and experiences which laid a solid foundation for all his future thinking.
[Footnote 2: In 1792, on the occasion of his being offered the honour of Rathsherr (town-councillor) in Frankfort, he wrote to his mother that "it was an honour, not only in the eyes of Europe, but of the whole world, to have been a citizen of Frankfort." (Goethe to his mother, December 24th, 1792). So, in 1824, he told Bettina von Arnim that, had he had the choice of his birthplace, he would have chosen Frankfort. As we shall see, Goethe did not always speak so favourably of Frankfort.]
Die Abgeschiednen betracht' ich gern, Stünd' ihr Verdienst auch noch so fern; Doch mit den edlen lebendigen Neuen Mag ich wetteifernd mich lieber freuen.]
[Footnote 4: In his later years Goethe preferred life in a small town. "Zwar ist es meiner Natur gemäss, an einem kleinen Orte zu leben." (Goethe to Zelter, December 16th, 1804.)]
If Goethe was fortunate in the place of h