Goethe entrusted the translation and publication of some of his writings into English, including the poem in honour of Luke Howard, to John Christian Huttner, a clerk to the Foreign Office in London.
At the end of a letter written in 1821 Goethe wrote:
If I may venture to make one more request it would be that you would give me some information respecting the meteorologist celebrated in these lines (if he is still living).
JC Huttner wrote to Luke Howard:
Your philosophical labours have atracted much notice not only in this country, but abroad, that I find myself under the necessity, though an utter stranger, of addressing you.
Mr de Goethe, one of the ministers of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and better known as a poet and philosopher, is so much pleased with your Theory that last summer he published some elegant verses in commemoration of it. These were inserted in the original accompanied by a translation, in Gold’s London Magazine for July last. I flatter myself they would not displease you. As he takes decidedly the lead in Germany among the poets, I find frequent allustions to your Theory in many other German poems.
By one of yesterday’s mails, Goethe, in a letter to me, expresses a great desire to know more about Mr Luke Howard, thinking no doubt that, from the rank you hold in science every particular of your life is well known in the learned circles. It may be so; the FRS, the FLS etc might perhaps be able to furnish me with what would fully satisfy Mr de Goethe. But alas! Sir, I am only a clerk in this office and have no communications with those learned bodies. I am therefore compelled to incur the charge of boldness and importunity by making a direct application to you, and requesting that you would please favour me with a brief memoir of you.
Mr de Goethe though seventy-two or three, still publishes, and what he writes is read by all his countrymen and women of any literature. If I were so fortunate as to prevail on you to comply with my request, Goethe would doubtless take a pride in introducing your memoir in his periodical publication.
Hoping that under the above circumstances you will pardon the liberty I have taken, I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble servant
John Chr. Huttner