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Ladies and Gentlemen:—I purpose to treat the subject of the study of modern languages in our higher institutions. By reason of my absence from the convention last year, I failed to hear two or three papers of great value treating the same general matter. It is, however, a subject of perennial interest, and though I shall not claim to contribute anything very new or original to the discussion, it seems worth while to go over again the different aims and methods of modern language study and to emphasize the importance of treating our classes with definite regard to these aims.
In 1796, Richter was living at Hof, in the house with his mother. He sat at his writing-desk in the same room where she was busy with household occupations and composed his humorous, pathetic, and grotesque sentences to the music of the broom, the dish-pan, and the spinning-wheel. Those harmonies were quite unlike the music to which Goethe listened, according to the story in his letters to Frau von Stein as he developed the ‘Iphigenie,’ quite unlike the music under whose inspiration Schiller essayed to rewrite the Fiesko at Oggersheim, of which Streicher tells us in the naïve narrative of Schiller's flight Richter was fully as sensitive to harmony as either Goethe or Schiller, and his improvisations on the piano became afterwards one source of his personal power over refined minds. But there was so great a capacity for higher music within him, that he was sometimes able to forget the discordant noises about him, and many of these higher notes which he struck are so pure and sweet that his critics are apt to overlook the disadvantages of his surroundings. That he himself in some moods keenly felt these limitations is plain enough from his writings. Even the household noises could not always be ignored, and were plainly now and then no inconsiderable disturbance to that serenity of mind necessary for the flight of his imagination. In ‘Siebenkäs,’ which is, as a whole, a pathetic account of his household relations, the fifth chapter containing the recital of Siebenkäs' efforts to adjust the domestic noises to his mental moods gives a clear insight into the difficulties under which Richter wrote the ‘Quintus Fixlein’ and the ‘Siebenkäs.‘
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