Live with your century, but do not be its captive; render to your contemporaries what they need, not what they praise. Without sharing their guilt, share with noble resignation their punishment and bow with freedom under the yoke with which they can dispense no better than they can bear it. By the steadfast courage with which you disdain their good fortune, you will demonstrate to them that it is not your cowardice that submits to their sufferings. Consider them as they ought to be when you practice to influence them, but consider them as they are when you contemplate acting on their behalf. Seek their approval through their dignity, but reckon their good fortune to their unworthiness; in this manner your own nobility will summon up their own but their unworthiness will not obstruct your goal… Expel the arbitrary, the frivolous, the coarse from their amusements, and ultimately from their natures. Wherever you find them, surround them with noble, great and ingenious forms, encompass them with the symbols of all that is excellent, until at length reality is overcome by appearance and art by nature.
Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen, 9. Brief (1791) in: Sämtliche Werke, vol. 5, pp. 595-96 (H. Göpfert ed. 1980)(S.H. transl.)