With his hands clasped behind his back, Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, in his elegant red double-breasted coat, contemplates the landscape from the wide window of his office. Then someone knocks on the door.
-Excellency, I’ve already reviewed the correspondence.
-The Archduchess Feodora regrets not being able to attend the dance this Saturday. The Count of Wettin reminds you of the invitation to a hunting party in the Black Forest next week. And then there are the reports of the war. Prussia has joined a Sixth Coalition against Napoleon…
The Duke turns around with surprised expression.
-”Sixth” have you said? They have skipped the Fifth! Can’t they count beyond three, those louts?!
-The Fifth Coalition is what your Excellency knew as the Fourth Coalition. Before, there was a Third one, but it was so brief that your Excellency missed it. You thought they were the final throes of the Second Coalition.
Suddenly the Duke bang his fist on the table that makes it rise a foot from the floor:
-I’ve lost count again! Damn Napoleonic wars! …
The Duke takes a moment to return to his usual composure before asking:
-Well, what else is there?
-A letter from the Margrave of Meissen, Excellency.
-Is that miserable whiner complaining again? I give him the administration of the Duchy’s cemeteries and he only complains! What is it this time?
-Same as always, Excellency.
-Again the Romantics! That old wreck has it in for them!
-He complains that they invade the cemeteries at night. They jump the gates and recite odes among the tombs. Or they cry bitterly before the tombstones. The letter describes how the other night, Novalis, tired of so much suffering, fell asleep on the grave of his beloved and reportedly she appeared to him. The guard says that he made a scene. He … It seems that there was a ghostly light on the tomb and he started shouting at it: “Sofia, Sofia!” and then fell as if struck by lightning. It was necessary to give him smelling salts…
-And what’s wrong with all this?! Surely a whole book of poems will come out of it. We can be thankful that we have such sensitive intellectuals. Our Duchy is becoming famous throughout Europe for its contributions to culture. Instead of complaining, the Margrave should thank the Romantics. Damn whiner!
-He says they don’t let the dead rest.
-That dead need serenity and silence, and no outbursts of passion or extreme manifestations of mourning bordering on madness.
-What a bunch of nonsense!
-He says that it’s not strange that so many ghost sightings occur, since the poor dead are not allowed to rest calmly. He says the Weimar deceased are sicking tired of those gloomy long-haired ball-busters.
-Send him a letter by return of post. Tell him that those “gloomy long-haired ball-busters” as he calls them, will be remembered by generations to come as one of the great glories of German history. When nobody remembers the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, people will continue talking about those “gloomy long-haired ball-busters” and will read their poems and be moved by their artistic manifestations in general. And tell him not to dare touch a single hair of their heads if he doesn’t want to end up in a dungeon! Write it with these very words. But before sending the letter, show it to Goethe in case he want to add something.
The secretary retires, and the Duke returns to his initial position, with his back to the door, contemplating through the window how the night stretches over the landscape. Suddenly he observes a light in the sky. As the light is approaching, he notes that it is a huge circular object of metallic aspect. It moves flying in absolute silence and stops about two hundred meters from the window. The light completely floods the office before the stupor of the Duke who remains motionless observing the strange phenomenon. After a few seconds, the unidentified flying object takes off vertically at such a speed that, in a few seconds, the Duke sees only a tiny bright spot in the sky.