In what way does Charlotte symbolize perfection and eternity for Werther? Can he ever obtain what he wants? In what way does love drive us all to seek something eternal and yet unattainable? Explain 4

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In what way does Charlotte symbolize perfection and eternity for Werther? Can he ever obtain what he wants? In what way does love drive us all to seek something eternal and yet unattainable?

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In what way does Charlotte symbolize perfection and eternity for Werther? Can he ever obtain what he wants? In what way does love drive us all to seek something eternal and yet unattainable? Explain 4
Project Gutenberg’s The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.W. von Goethe This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Sorrows of Young Werther Author: J.W. von Goethe Editor: Nathen Haskell Dole Translator: R.D. Boylan Release Date: January 2, 2009 [EBook #2527] Last Updated: January 25, 2013 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER *** Produced by Michael Potter, Irene Potter, and David Widger T H E S O R R O W S O F Y O U N G W E R T H E R B y J .W . v o n G o e th e T ran slated b y R .D . B oylan E d ited b y N ath en H ask ell D ole4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 1/57 PR EFA C E B O O K I B O O K II. P R E F A C E I have carefully collected w hatever I have been able to learn of the story of poor W erther, and here present it to you, know ing that you w ill thank m e for it. To his spirit and character you cannot refuse your adm iration and love: to his fate you w ill not deny your tears. A nd thou, good soul, w ho sufferest the sam e distress as he endured once, draw com fort from his sorrow s; and let this little book be thy friend, if, ow ing to fortune or through thine ow n fault, thou canst not find a dearer com panion. B O O K I M A Y 4. H ow happy I am that I am gone! M y dear friend, w hat a thing is the heart of m an! To leave you, from w hom I have been inseparable, w hom I love so dearly, and yet to feel happy! I know you w ill forgive m e. H ave not other attachm ents been specially appointed by fate to torm ent a head like m ine? Poor Leonora! and yet I w as not to blam e. W as it m y fault, that, w hilst the peculiar charm s of her sister afforded m e an agreeable entertainm ent, a passion for m e w as engendered in her feeble heart? A nd yet am I w holly blam eless? D id I not encourage her em otions? D id I not feel charm ed at those truly genuine expressions of nature, w hich, though but little m irthful in reality, so often am used us? D id I not— but oh! w hat is m an, that he dares so to accuse him self? M y dear friend I prom ise you I w ill im prove; I w ill no longer, as has ever been m y habit, continue to rum inate on every petty vexation w hich fortune m ay dispense; I w ill enjoy the present, and the past shall be for m e the past. N o doubt you are right, m y best of friends, there w ould be far less suffering am ongst m ankind, if m en— and G od know s w hy they are so fashioned — did not em ploy their im aginations so assiduously in recalling the m em ory of past sorrow , instead of bearing their present lot w ith equanim ity. B e kind enough to inform m y m other that I shall attend to her business to the best of m y ability, and shall give her the earliest inform ation about it. I have seen m y aunt, and find that she is very far from being the disagreeable person our friends allege her to be. She is a lively, cheerful w om an, w ith the best of hearts. I explained to her m y m other’s w rongs w ith regard to that part of her portion w hich has been w ithheld from her. She told m e the m otives and reasons of her ow n conduct, and the term s on w hich she is w illing to4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 2/57 give up the w hole, and to do m ore than w e have asked. In short, I cannot w rite further upon this subject at present; only assure m y m other that all w ill go on w ell. A nd I have again observed, m y dear friend, in this trifling affair, that m isunderstandings and neglect occasion m ore m ischief in the w orld than even m alice and w ickedness. A t all events, the tw o latter are of less frequent occurrence. In other respects I am very w ell off here. Solitude in this terrestrial paradise is a genial balm to m y m ind, and the young spring cheers w ith its bounteous prom ises m y oftentim es m isgiving heart. Every tree, every bush, is full of flow ers; and one m ight w ish him self transform ed into a butterfly, to float about in this ocean of perfum e, and find his w hole existence in it. The tow n itself is disagreeable; but then, all around, you find an inexpressible beauty of nature. This induced the late C ount M to lay out a garden on one of the sloping hills w hich here intersect each other w ith the m ost charm ing variety, and form the m ost lovely valleys. The garden is sim ple; and it is easy to perceive, even upon your first entrance, that the plan w as not designed by a scientific gardener, but by a m an w ho w ished to give him self up here to the enjoym ent of his ow n sensitive heart. M any a tear have I already shed to the m em ory of its departed m aster in a sum m er-house w hich is now reduced to ruins, but w as his favourite resort, and now is m ine. I shall soon be m aster of the place. The gardener has becom e attached to m e w ithin the last few days, and he w ill lose nothing thereby. M A Y 10. A w onderful serenity has taken possession of m y entire soul, like these sw eet m ornings of spring w hich I enjoy w ith m y w hole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, w hich w as created for the bliss of souls like m ine. I am so happy, m y dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of m ere tranquil existence, that I neglect m y talents. I should be incapable of draw ing a single stroke at the present m om ent; and yet I feel that I never w as a greater artist than now . W hen, w hile the lovely valley teem s w ith vapour around m e, and the m eridian sun strikes the upper surface of the im penetrable foliage of m y trees, and but a few stray gleam s steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw m yself dow n am ong the tall grass by the trickling stream ; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknow n plants are noticed by m e: w hen I hear the buzz of the little w orld am ong the stalks, and grow fam iliar w ith the countless indescribable form s of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the A lm ighty, w ho form ed us in his ow n im age, and the breath of that universal love w hich bears and sustains us, as it floats around us in an eternity of bliss; and then, m y friend, w hen darkness overspreads m y eyes, and heaven and earth seem to dw ell in m y soul and absorb its pow er, like the form of a beloved m istress, then I often think w ith longing, O h, w ould I could describe these conceptions, could im press upon paper all that is living so full and w arm w ithin m e, that it m ight be the m irror of m y soul, as m y soul is the m irror of the infinite G od! O m y friend— but it is too m uch for m y strength— I sink under the w eight of the splendour of these visions! M A Y 12. I know not w hether som e deceitful spirits haunt this spot, or w hether it be the w arm , celestial fancy in m y ow n heart w hich m akes everything around m e seem like paradise. In front of the house is a fountain,— a fountain to w hich I am bound by a charm like M elusina and her sisters. D escending a gentle slope, you com e to an arch, w here, som e tw enty steps low er dow n, w ater of the clearest crystal gushes from the m arble rock. The narrow w all w hich encloses it above, the tall trees w hich encircle the spot, and the coolness of the place itself,— everything im parts a pleasant but sublim e im pression. N ot a day passes on w hich I do not spend an hour there. The young m aidens com e from the tow n to fetch w ater,— innocent and necessary em ploym ent, and form erly the occupation of the daughters of kings. A s I take m y rest there, the idea of the old patriarchal life is aw akened around m e. I see them , our old ancestors, how they form ed their friendships and contracted alliances at the fountain-side; and I feel how fountains and stream s w ere guarded by beneficent spirits. H e w ho is a stranger to these sensations has never really enjoyed cool repose at the side of a fountain after the fatigue of a w eary sum m er day. M A Y 13. Y ou ask if you shall send m e books. M y dear friend, I beseech you, for the love of G od, relieve m e from such a yoke! I need no m ore to be guided, agitated, heated. M y heart ferm ents sufficiently of itself. I w ant strains to lull m e, and I find them to perfection in m y H om er. O ften4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 3/57 do I strive to allay the burning fever of m y blood; and you have never w itnessed anything so unsteady, so uncertain, as m y heart. B ut need I confess this to you, m y dear friend, w ho have so often endured the anguish of w itnessing m y sudden transitions from sorrow to im m oderate joy, and from sw eet m elancholy to violent passions? I treat m y poor heart like a sick child, and gratify its every fancy. D o not m ention this again: there are people w ho w ould censure m e for it. M A Y 15. The com m on people of the place know m e already, and love m e, particularly the children. W hen at first I associated w ith them , and inquired in a friendly tone about their various trifles, som e fancied that I w ished to ridicule them , and turned from m e in exceeding ill-hum our. I did not allow that circum stance to grieve m e: I only felt m ost keenly w hat I have often before observed. Persons w ho can claim a certain rank keep them selves coldly aloof from the com m on people, as though they feared to lose their im portance by the contact; w hilst w anton idlers, and such as are prone to bad joking, affect to descend to their level, only to m ake the poor people feel their im pertinence all the m ore keenly. I know very w ell that w e are not all equal, nor can be so; but it is m y opinion that he w ho avoids the com m on people, in order not to lose their respect, is as m uch to blam e as a cow ard w ho hides him self from his enem y because he fears defeat. The other day I w ent to the fountain, and found a young servant-girl, w ho had set her pitcher on the low est step, and looked around to see if one of her com panions w as approaching to place it on her head. I ran dow n, and looked at her. “Shall I help you, pretty lass?” said I. She blushed deeply. “O h, sir!” she exclaim ed. “N o cerem ony!” I replied. She adjusted her head-gear, and I helped her. She thanked m e, and ascended the steps. M A Y 17. I have m ade all sorts of acquaintances, but have as yet found no society. I know not w hat attraction I possess for the people, so m any of them like m e, and attach them selves to m e; and then I feel sorry w hen the road w e pursue together goes only a short distance. If you inquire w hat the people are like here, I m ust answ er, “The sam e as everyw here.” The hum an race is but a m onotonous affair. M ost of them labour the greater part of their tim e for m ere subsistence; and the scanty portion of freedom w hich rem ains to them so troubles them that they use every exertion to get rid of it. O h, the destiny of m an! B ut they are a right good sort of people. If I occasionally forget m yself, and take part in the innocent pleasures w hich are not yet forbidden to the peasantry, and enjoy m yself, for instance, w ith genuine freedom and sincerity, round a w ell-covered table, or arrange an excursion or a dance opportunely, and so forth, all this produces a good effect upon m y disposition; only I m ust forget that there lie dorm ant w ithin m e so m any other qualities w hich m oulder uselessly, and w hich I am obliged to keep carefully concealed. A h! this thought affects m y spirits fearfully. A nd yet to be m isunderstood is the fate of the like of us. A las, that the friend of m y youth is gone! A las, that I ever knew her! I m ight say to m yself, “Y ou are a dream er to seek w hat is not to be found here below .” B ut she has been m ine. I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in w hose presence I seem ed to be m ore than I really w as, because I w as all that I could be. G ood heavens! did then a single pow er of m y soul rem ain unexercised? In her presence could I not display, to its full extent, that m ysterious feeling w ith w hich m y heart em braces nature? W as not our intercourse a perpetual w eb of the finest em otions, of the keenest w it, the varieties of w hich, even in their very eccentricity, bore the stam p of genius? A las! the few years by w hich she w as m y senior brought her to the grave before m e. N ever can I forget her firm m ind or her heavenly patience. A few days ago I m et a certain young V — , a frank, open fellow , w ith a m ost pleasing countenance. H e has just left the university, does not deem him self overw ise, but believes he know s m ore than other people. H e has w orked hard, as I can perceive from m any circum stances, and, in short, possesses a large stock of inform ation. W hen he heard that I am draw ing a good deal, and that I know G reek (tw o w onderful things for this part of the country), he cam e to see m e, and displayed his w hole store of learning, from B atteaux to W ood, from D e Piles to W inkelm ann: he assured m e he had read through the first part of Sultzer’s theory, and also possessed a m anuscript of H eyne’s w ork on the study of the antique. I allow ed it all to pass. I have becom e acquainted, also, w ith a very w orthy person, the district judge, a frank and4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 4/57 open-hearted m an. I am told it is a m ost delightful thing to see him in the m idst of his children, of w hom he has nine. H is eldest daughter especially is highly spoken of. H e has invited m e to go and see him , and I intend to do so on the first opportunity. H e lives at one of the royal hunting- lodges, w hich can be reached from here in an hour and a half by w alking, and w hich he obtained leave to inhabit after the loss of his w ife, as it is so painful to him to reside in tow n and at the court. There have also com e in m y w ay a few other originals of a questionable sort, w ho are in all respects undesirable, and m ost intolerable in their dem onstration of friendship. G ood-bye. This letter w ill please you: it is quite historical. M A Y 22. That the life of m an is but a dream , m any a m an has surm ised heretofore; and I, too, am everyw here pursued by this feeling. W hen I consider the narrow lim its w ithin w hich our active and inquiring faculties are confined; w hen I see how all our energies are w asted in providing for m ere necessities, w hich again have no further end than to prolong a w retched existence; and then that all our satisfaction concerning certain subjects of investigation ends in nothing better than a passive resignation, w hilst w e am use ourselves painting our prison-w alls w ith bright figures and brilliant landscapes,— w hen I consider all this, W ilhelm , I am silent. I exam ine m y ow n being, and find there a w orld, but a w orld rather of im agination and dim desires, than of distinctness and living pow er. Then everything sw im s before m y senses, and I sm ile and dream w hile pursuing m y w ay through the w orld. A ll learned professors and doctors are agreed that children do not com prehend the cause of their desires; but that the grow n-up should w ander about this earth like children, w ithout know ing w hence they com e, or w hither they go, influenced as little by fixed m otives, but guided like them by biscuits, sugar-plum s, and the rod,— this is w hat nobody is w illing to acknow ledge; and yet I think it is palpable. I know w hat you w ill say in reply; for I am ready to adm it that they are happiest, w ho, like children, am use them selves w ith their playthings, dress and undress their dolls, and attentively w atch the cupboard, w here m am m a has locked up her sw eet things, and, w hen at last they get a delicious m orsel, eat it greedily, and exclaim , “M ore!” These are certainly happy beings; but others also are objects of envy, w ho dignify their paltry em ploym ents, and som etim es even their passions, w ith pom pous titles, representing them to m ankind as gigantic achievem ents perform ed for their w elfare and glory. B ut the m an w ho hum bly acknow ledges the vanity of all this, w ho observes w ith w hat pleasure the thriving citizen converts his little garden into a paradise, and how patiently even the poor m an pursues his w eary w ay under his burden, and how all w ish equally to behold the light of the sun a little longer,— yes, such a m an is at peace, and creates his ow n w orld w ithin him self; and he is also happy, because he is a m an. A nd then, how ever lim ited his sphere, he still preserves in his bosom the sw eet feeling of liberty, and know s that he can quit his prison w henever he likes. M A Y 26. Y ou know of old m y w ays of settling anyw here, of selecting a little cottage in som e cosy spot, and of putting up in it w ith every inconvenience. H ere, too, I have discovered such a snug, com fortable place, w hich possesses peculiar charm s for m e. A bout a league from the tow n is a place called W alheim . (The reader need not take the trouble to look for the place thus designated. W e have found it necessary to change the nam es given in the original.) It is delightfully situated on the side of a hill; and, by proceeding along one of the footpaths w hich lead out of the village, you can have a view of the w hole valley. A good old w om an lives there, w ho keeps a sm all inn. She sells w ine, beer, and coffee, and is cheerful and pleasant notw ithstanding her age. The chief charm of this spot consists in tw o linden-trees, spreading their enorm ous branches over the little green before the church, w hich is entirely surrounded by peasants’ cottages, barns, and hom esteads. I have seldom seen a place so retired and peaceable; and there often have m y table and chair brought out from the little inn, and drink m y coffee there, and read m y H om er. A ccident brought m e to the spot one fine afternoon, and I found it perfectly deserted. Everybody w as in the fields except a little boy about four years of age, w ho w as sitting on the ground, and held betw een his knees a child about six m onths old: he pressed it to his bosom w ith both arm s, w hich thus form ed a sort of arm -chair; and,4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 5/57 notw ithstanding the liveliness w hich sparkled in its black eyes, it rem ained perfectly still. The sight charm ed m e. I sat dow n upon a plough opposite, and sketched w ith great delight this little picture of brotherly tenderness. I added the neighbouring hedge, the barn-door, and som e broken cart-w heels, just as they happened to lie; and I found in about an hour that I had m ade a very correct and interesting draw ing, w ithout putting in the slightest thing of m y ow n. This confirm ed m e in m y resolution of adhering, for the future, entirely to nature. She alone is inexhaustible, and capable of form ing the greatest m asters. M uch m ay be alleged in favour of rules, as m uch m ay be likew ise advanced in favour of the law s of society: an artist form ed upon them w ill never produce anything absolutely bad or disgusting; as a m an w ho observes the law s, and obeys decorum , can never be an absolutely intolerable neighbour, nor a decided villain: but yet, say w hat you w ill of rules, they destroy the genuine feeling of nature, as w ell as its true expression. D o not tell m e “that this is too hard, that they only restrain and prune superfluous branches, etc.” M y good friend, I w ill illustrate this by an analogy. These things resem ble love. A w arm hearted youth becom es strongly attached to a m aiden: he spends every hour of the day in her com pany, w ears out his health, and lavishes his fortune, to afford continual proof that he is w holly devoted to her. Then com es a m an of the w orld, a m an of place and respectability, and addresses him thus: “M y good young friend, love is natural; but you m ust love w ithin bounds. D ivide your tim e: devote a portion to business, and give the hours of recreation to your m istress. C alculate your fortune; and out of the superfluity you m ay m ake her a present, only not too often,— on her birthday, and such occasions.” Pursuing this advice, he m ay becom e a useful m em ber of society, and I should advise every prince to give him an appointm ent; but it is all up w ith his love, and w ith his genius if he be an artist. O m y friend! w hy is it that the torrent of genius so seldom bursts forth, so seldom rolls in full-flow ing stream , overw helm ing your astounded soul? B ecause, on either side of this stream , cold and respectable persons have taken up their abodes, and, forsooth, their sum m er-houses and tulip-beds w ould suffer from the torrent; w herefore they dig trenches, and raise em bankm ents betim es, in order to avert the im pending danger. M A Y 27. I find I have fallen into raptures, declam ation, and sim iles, and have forgotten, in consequence, to tell you w hat becam e of the children. A bsorbed in m y artistic contem plations, w hich I briefly described in m y letter of yesterday, I continued sitting on the plough for tw o hours. Tow ard evening a young w om an, w ith a basket on her arm , cam e running tow ard the children, w ho had not m oved all that tim e. She exclaim ed from a distance, “Y ou are a good boy, Philip!” She gave m e greeting: I returned it, rose, and approached her. I inquired if she w ere the m other of those pretty children. “Y es,” she said; and, giving the eldest a piece of bread, she took the little one in her arm s and kissed it w ith a m other’s tenderness. “I left m y child in Philip’s care,” she said, “w hilst I w ent into the tow n w ith m y eldest boy to buy som e w heaten bread, som e sugar, and an earthen pot.” I saw the various articles in the basket, from w hich the cover had fallen. “I shall m ake som e broth to-night for m y little H ans (w hich w as the nam e of the youngest): that w ild fellow , the big one, broke m y pot yesterday, w hilst he w as scram bling w ith Philip for w hat rem ained of the contents.” I inquired for the eldest; and she had scarcely tim e to tell m e that he w as driving a couple of geese hom e from the m eadow , w hen he ran up, and handed Philip an osier-tw ig. I talked a little longer w ith the w om an, and found that she w as the daughter of the schoolm aster, and that her husband w as gone on a journey into Sw itzerland for som e m oney a relation had left him . “They w anted to cheat him ,” she said, “and w ould not answ er his letters; so he is gone there him self. I hope he has m et w ith no accident, as I have heard nothing of him since his departure.” I left the w om an, w ith regret, giving each of the children a kreutzer, w ith an additional one for the youngest, to buy som e w heaten bread for his broth w hen she w ent to tow n next; and so w e parted. I assure you, m y dear friend, w hen m y thoughts are all in tum ult, the sight of such a creature as this tranquillises m y disturbed m ind. She m oves in a happy thoughtlessness w ithin the confined circle of her existence; she supplies her w ants from day to day; and, w hen she sees the leaves fall, they raise no other idea in her m ind than that w inter is approaching. Since that tim e I have gone out there frequently. The children have becom e quite fam iliar w ith m e; and each gets a lum p of sugar w hen I drink m y coffee, and they share m y m ilk and bread and butter in the evening. They alw ays receive their kreutzer on Sundays, for the good w om an has orders to give it to them w hen I do not go there after evening service. They are quite at hom e w ith m e, tell m e everything; and I am particularly am used w ith observing their tem pers, and the sim plicity of their behaviour, w hen som e of the other village children are assem bled w ith them .4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 6/57 It has given m e a deal of trouble to satisfy the anxiety of the m other, lest (as she says) “they should inconvenience the gentlem an.” M A Y 30. W hat I have lately said of painting is equally true w ith respect to poetry. It is only necessary for us to know w hat is really excellent, and venture to give it expression; and that is saying m uch in few w ords. To-day I have had a scene, w hich, if literally related, w ould, m ake the m ost beautiful idyl in the w orld. B ut w hy should I talk of poetry and scenes and idyls? C an w e never take pleasure in nature w ithout having recourse to art? If you expect anything grand or m agnificent from this introduction, you w ill be sadly m istaken. It relates m erely to a peasant-lad, w ho has excited in m e the w arm est interest. A s usual, I shall tell m y story badly; and you, as usual, w ill think m e extravagant. It is W alheim once m ore — alw ays W alheim — w hich produces these w onderful phenom ena. A party had assem bled outside the house under the linden-trees, to drink coffee. The com pany did not exactly please m e; and, under one pretext or another, I lingered behind. A peasant cam e from an adjoining house, and set to w ork arranging som e part of the sam e plough w hich I had lately sketched. H is appearance pleased m e; and I spoke to him , inquired about his circum stances, m ade his acquaintance, and, as is m y w ont w ith persons of that class, w as soon adm itted into his confidence. H e said he w as in the service of a young w idow , w ho set great store by him . H e spoke so m uch of his m istress, and praised her so extravagantly, that I could soon see he w as desperately in love w ith her. “She is no longer young,” he said: “and she w as treated so badly by her form er husband that she does not m ean to m arry again.” From his account it w as so evident w hat incom parable charm s she possessed for him , and how ardently he w ished she w ould select him to extinguish the recollection of her first husband’s m isconduct, that I should have to repeat his ow n w ords in order to describe the depth of the poor fellow ‘s attachm ent, truth, and devotion. It w ould, in fact, require the gifts of a great poet to convey the expression of his features, the harm ony of his voice, and the heavenly fire of his eye. N o w ords can portray the tenderness of his every m ovem ent and of every feature: no effort of m ine could do justice to the scene. H is alarm lest I should m isconceive his position w ith regard to his m istress, or question the propriety of her conduct, touched m e particularly. The charm ing m anner w ith w hich he described her form and person, w hich, w ithout possessing the graces of youth, w on and attached him to her, is inexpressible, and m ust be left to the im agination. I have never in m y life w itnessed or fancied or conceived the possibility of such intense devotion, such ardent affections, united w ith so m uch purity. D o not blam e m e if I say that the recollection of this innocence and truth is deeply im pressed upon m y very soul; that this picture of fidelity and tenderness haunts m e everyw here; and that m y ow n heart, as though enkindled by the flam e, glow s and burns w ithin m e. I m ean now to try and see her as soon as I can: or perhaps, on second thoughts, I had better not; it is better I should behold her through the eyes of her lover. To m y sight, perhaps, she w ould not appear as she now stands before m e; and w hy should I destroy so sw eet a picture? JU N E 16. “W hy do I not w rite to you?” Y ou lay claim to learning, and ask such a question. Y ou should have guessed that I am w ell— that is to say— in a w ord, I have m ade an acquaintance w ho has w on m y heart: I have— I know not. To give you a regular account of the m anner in w hich I have becom e acquainted w ith the m ost am iable of w om en w ould be a difficult task. I am a happy and contented m ortal, but a poor historian. A n angel! N onsense! Everybody so describes his m istress; and yet I find it im possible to tell you how perfect she is, or w hy she is so perfect: suffice it to say she has captivated all m y senses. So m uch sim plicity w ith so m uch understanding— so m ild, and yet so resolute— a m ind so placid, and a life so active. B ut all this is ugly balderdash, w hich expresses not a single character nor feature. Som e other tim e— but no, not som e other tim e, now , this very instant, w ill I tell you all about it. N ow or never. W ell, betw een ourselves, since I com m enced m y letter, I have been three tim es on the point of throw ing dow n m y pen, of ordering m y horse, and riding out. A nd yet I vow ed this4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 7/57 m orning that I w ould not ride to-day, and yet every m om ent I am rushing to the w indow to see how high the sun is. I could not restrain m yself— go to her I m ust. I have just returned, W ilhelm ; and w hilst I am taking supper I w ill w rite to you. W hat a delight it w as for m y soul to see her in the m idst of her dear, beautiful children,— eight brothers and sisters! B ut, if I proceed thus, you w ill be no w iser at the end of m y letter than you w ere at the beginning. A ttend, then, and I w ill com pel m yself to give you the details. I m entioned to you the other day that I had becom e acquainted w ith S— , the district judge, and that he had invited m e to go and visit him in his retirem ent, or rather in his little kingdom . B ut I neglected going, and perhaps should never have gone, if chance had not discovered to m e the treasure w hich lay concealed in that retired spot. Som e of our young people had proposed giving a ball in the country, at w hich I consented to be present. I offered m y hand for the evening to a pretty and agreeable, but rather com m onplace, sort of girl from the im m ediate neighbourhood; and it w as agreed that I should engage a carriage, and call upon C harlotte, w ith m y partner and her aunt, to convey them to the ball. M y com panion inform ed m e, as w e drove along through the park to the hunting-lodge, that I should m ake the acquaintance of a very charm ing young lady. “Take care,” added the aunt, “that you do not lose your heart.” “W hy?” said I. “B ecause she is already engaged to a very w orthy m an,” she replied, “w ho is gone to settle his affairs upon the death of his father, and w ill succeed to a very considerable inheritance.” This inform ation possessed no interest for m e. W hen w e arrived at the gate, the sun w as setting behind the tops of the m ountains. The atm osphere w as heavy; and the ladies expressed their fears of an approaching storm , as m asses of low black clouds w ere gathering in the horizon. I relieved their anxieties by pretending to be w eather-w ise, although I m yself had som e apprehensions lest our pleasure should be interrupted. I alighted; and a m aid cam e to the door, and requested us to w ait a m om ent for her m istress. I w alked across the court to a w ell-built house, and, ascending the flight of steps in front, opened the door, and saw before m e the m ost charm ing spectacle I had ever w itnessed. Six children, from eleven to tw o years old, w ere running about the hall, and surrounding a lady of m iddle height, w ith a lovely figure, dressed in a robe of sim ple w hite, trim m ed w ith pink ribbons. She w as holding a rye loaf in her hand, and w as cutting slices for the little ones all around, in proportion to their age and appetite. She perform ed her task in a graceful and affectionate m anner; each claim ant aw aiting his turn w ith outstretched hands, and boisterously shouting his thanks. Som e of them ran aw ay at once, to enjoy their evening m eal; w hilst others, of a gentler disposition, retired to the courtyard to see the strangers, and to survey the carriage in w hich their C harlotte w as to drive aw ay. “Pray forgive m e for giving you the trouble to com e for m e, and for keeping the ladies w aiting: but dressing, and arranging som e household duties before I leave, had m ade m e forget m y children’s supper; and they do not like to take it from any one but m e.” I uttered som e indifferent com plim ent: but m y w hole soul w as absorbed by her air, her voice, her m anner; and I had scarcely recovered m yself w hen she ran into her room to fetch her gloves and fan. The young ones threw inquiring glances at m e from a distance; w hilst I approached the youngest, a m ost delicious little creature. H e drew back; and C harlotte, entering at the very m om ent, said, “Louis, shake hands w ith your cousin.” The little fellow obeyed w illingly; and I could not resist giving him a hearty kiss, notw ithstanding his rather dirty face. “C ousin,” said I to C harlotte, as I handed her dow n, “do you think I deserve the happiness of being related to you?” She replied, w ith a ready sm ile, “O h! I have such a num ber of cousins, that I should be sorry if you w ere the m ost undeserving of them .” In taking leave, she desired her next sister, Sophy, a girl about eleven years old, to take great care of the children, and to say good-bye to papa for her w hen he cam e hom e from his ride. She enjoined to the little ones to obey their sister Sophy as they w ould herself, upon w hich som e prom ised that they w ould; but a little fair-haired girl, about six years old, looked discontented, and said, “B ut Sophy is not you, C harlotte; and w e like you best.” The tw o eldest boys had clam bered up the carriage; and, at m y request, she perm itted them to accom pany us a little w ay through the forest, upon their prom ising to sit very still, and hold fast. W e w ere hardly seated, and the ladies had scarcely exchanged com plim ents, m aking the usual rem arks upon each other’s dress, and upon the com pany they expected to m eet, w hen C harlotte stopped the carriage, and m ade her brothers get dow n. They insisted upon kissing her hands once4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 8/57 m ore; w hich the eldest did w ith all the tenderness of a youth of fifteen, but the other in a lighter and m ore careless m anner. She desired them again to give her love to the children, and w e drove off. The aunt inquired of C harlotte w hether she had finished the book she had last sent her. “N o,” said C harlotte; “I did not like it: you can have it again. A nd the one before w as not m uch better.” I w as surprised, upon asking the title, to hear that it w as ____. (W e feel obliged to suppress the passage in the letter, to prevent any one from feeling aggrieved; although no author need pay m uch attention to the opinion of a m ere girl, or that of an unsteady young m an.) I found penetration and character in everything she said: every expression seem ed to brighten her features w ith new charm s,— w ith new rays of genius,— w hich unfolded by degrees, as she felt herself understood. “W hen I w as younger,” she observed, “I loved nothing so m uch as rom ances. N othing could equal m y delight w hen, on som e holiday, I could settle dow n quietly in a corner, and enter w ith m y w hole heart and soul into the joys or sorrow s of som e fictitious Leonora. I do not deny that they even possess som e charm s for m e yet. B ut I read so seldom , that I prefer books suited exactly to m y taste. A nd I like those authors best w hose scenes describe m y ow n situation in life, — and the friends w ho are about m e, w hose stories touch m e w ith interest, from resem bling m y ow n hom ely existence,— w hich, w ithout being absolutely paradise, is, on the w hole, a source of indescribable happiness.” I endeavoured to conceal the em otion w hich these w ords occasioned, but it w as of slight avail; for, w hen she had expressed so truly her opinion of “The V icar of W akefield,” and of other w orks, the nam es of w hich I om it (Though the nam es are om itted, yet the authors m entioned deserve C harlotte’s approbation, and w ill feel it in their hearts w hen they read this passage. It concerns no other person.), I could no longer contain m yself, but gave full utterance to w hat I thought of it: and it w as not until C harlotte had addressed herself to the tw o other ladies, that I rem em bered their presence, and observed them sitting m ute w ith astonishm ent. The aunt looked at m e several tim es w ith an air of raillery, w hich, how ever, I did not at all m ind. W e talked of the pleasures of dancing. “If it is a fault to love it,” said C harlotte, “I am ready to confess that I prize it above all other am usem ents. If anything disturbs m e, I go to the piano, play an air to w hich I have danced, and all goes right again directly.” Y ou, w ho know m e, can fancy how steadfastly I gazed upon her rich dark eyes during these rem arks, how m y very soul gloated over her w arm lips and fresh, glow ing cheeks, how I becam e quite lost in the delightful m eaning of her w ords, so m uch so, that I scarcely heard the actual expressions. In short, I alighted from the carriage like a person in a dream , and w as so lost to the dim w orld around m e, that I scarcely heard the m usic w hich resounded from the illum inated ballroom . The tw o M essrs. A ndran and a certain N . N . (I cannot trouble m yself w ith the nam es), w ho w ere the aunt’s and C harlotte’s partners, received us at the carriage-door, and took possession of their ladies, w hilst I follow ed w ith m ine. W e com m enced w ith a m inuet. I led out one lady after another, and precisely those w ho w ere the m ost disagreeable could not bring them selves to leave off. C harlotte and her partner began an English country dance, and you m ust im agine m y delight w hen it w as their turn to dance the figure w ith us. Y ou should see C harlotte dance. She dances w ith her w hole heart and soul: her figure is all harm ony, elegance, and grace, as if she w ere conscious of nothing else, and had no other thought or feeling; and, doubtless, for the m om ent, every other sensation is extinct. She w as engaged for the second country dance, but prom ised m e the third, and assured m e, w ith the m ost agreeable freedom , that she w as very fond of w altzing. “It is the custom here,” she said, “for the previous partners to w altz together; but m y partner is an indifferent w altzer, and w ill feel delighted if I save him the trouble. Y our partner is not allow ed to w altz, and, indeed, is equally incapable: but I observed during the country dance that you w altz w ell; so, if you w ill w altz w ith m e, I beg you w ould propose it to m y partner, and I w ill propose it to yours.” W e agreed, and it w as arranged that our partners should m utually entertain each other. W e set off, and, at first, delighted ourselves w ith the usual graceful m otions of the arm s. W ith w hat grace, w ith w hat ease, she m oved! W hen the w altz com m enced, and the dancers w hirled around each other in the giddy m aze, there w as som e confusion, ow ing to the incapacity of som e4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 9/57 of the dancers. W e judiciously rem ained still, allow ing the others to w eary them selves; and, w hen the aw kw ard dancers had w ithdraw n, w e joined in, and kept it up fam ously together w ith one other couple,— A ndran and his partner. N ever did I dance m ore lightly. I felt m yself m ore than m ortal, holding this loveliest of creatures in m y arm s, flying, w ith her as rapidly as the w ind, till I lost sight of every other object; and O W ilhelm , I vow ed at that m om ent, that a m aiden w hom I loved, or for w hom I felt the slightest attachm ent, never, never should w altz w ith any one else but w ith m e, if I w ent to perdition for it!— you w ill understand this. W e took a few turns in the room to recover our breath. C harlotte sat dow n, and felt refreshed by partaking of som e oranges w hich I had had secured,— the only ones that had been left; but at every slice w hich, from politeness, she offered to her neighbours, I felt as though a dagger w ent through m y heart. W e w ere the second couple in the third country dance. A s w e w ere going dow n (and H eaven know s w ith w hat ecstasy I gazed at her arm s and eyes, beam ing w ith the sw eetest feeling of pure and genuine enjoym ent), w e passed a lady w hom I had noticed for her charm ing expression of countenance; although she w as no longer young. She looked at C harlotte w ith a sm ile, then, holding up her finger in a threatening attitude, repeated tw ice in a very significant tone of voice the nam e of “A lbert.” “W ho is A lbert,” said I to C harlotte, “if it is not im pertinent to ask?” She w as about to answ er, w hen w e w ere obliged to separate, in order to execute a figure in the dance; and, as w e crossed over again in front of each other, I perceived she looked som ew hat pensive. “W hy need I conceal it from you?” she said, as she gave m e her hand for the prom enade. “A lbert is a w orthy m an, to w hom I am engaged.” N ow , there w as nothing new to m e in this (for the girls had told m e of it on the w ay); but it w as so far new that I had not thought of it in connection w ith her w hom , in so short a tim e, I had learned to prize so highly. Enough, I becam e confused, got out in the figure, and occasioned general confusion; so that it required all C harlotte’s presence of m ind to set m e right by pulling and pushing m e into m y proper place. The dance w as not yet finished w hen the lightning w hich had for som e tim e been seen in the horizon, and w hich I had asserted to proceed entirely from heat, grew m ore violent; and the thunder w as heard above the m usic. W hen any distress or terror surprises us in the m idst of our am usem ents, it naturally m akes a deeper im pression than at other tim es, either because the contrast m akes us m ore keenly susceptible, or rather perhaps because our senses are then m ore open to im pressions, and the shock is consequently stronger. To this cause I m ust ascribe the fright and shrieks of the ladies. O ne sagaciously sat dow n in a corner w ith her back to the w indow , and held her fingers to her ears; a second knelt dow n before her, and hid her face in her lap; a third threw herself betw een them , and em braced her sister w ith a thousand tears; som e insisted on going hom e; others, unconscious of their actions, w anted sufficient presence of m ind to repress the im pertinence of their young partners, w ho sought to direct to them selves those sighs w hich the lips of our agitated beauties intended for heaven. Som e of the gentlem en had gone dow n-stairs to sm oke a quiet cigar, and the rest of the com pany gladly em braced a happy suggestion of the hostess to retire into another room w hich w as provided w ith shutters and curtains. W e had hardly got there, w hen C harlotte placed the chairs in a circle; and, w hen the com pany had sat dow n in com pliance w ith her request, she forthw ith proposed a round gam e. I noticed som e of the com pany prepare their m ouths and draw them selves up at the prospect of som e agreeable forfeit. “Let us play at counting,” said C harlotte. “N ow , pay attention: I shall go round the circle from right to left; and each person is to count, one after the other, the num ber that com es to him , and m ust count fast; w hoever stops or m istakes is to have a box on the ear, and so on, till w e have counted a thousand.” It w as delightful to see the fun. She w ent round the circle w ith upraised arm . “O ne,” said the first; “tw o,” the second; “three,” the third; and so on, till C harlotte w ent faster and faster. O ne m ade a m istake, instantly a box on the ear; and, am id the laughter that ensued, cam e another box; and so on, faster and faster. I m yself cam e in for tw o. I fancied they w ere harder than the rest, and felt quite delighted. A general laughter and confusion put an end to the gam e long before w e had counted as far as a thousand. The party broke up into little separate knots: the storm had ceased, and I follow ed C harlotte into the ballroom . O n the w ay she said, “The gam e banished their fears of the storm .” I could m ake no reply. “I m yself,” she continued, “w as as m uch frightened as any of them ; but by affecting courage, to keep up the spirits of the others, I forgot m y apprehensions.” W e w ent to the w indow . It w as still thundering4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 10/57 at a distance: a soft rain w as pouring dow n over the country, and filled the air around us w ith delicious odours. C harlotte leaned forw ard on her arm ; her eyes w andered over the scene; she raised them to the sky, and then turned them upon m e; they w ere m oistened w ith tears; she placed her hand on m ine and said, “K lopstock!” at once I rem em bered the m agnificent ode w hich w as in her thoughts: I felt oppressed w ith the w eight of m y sensations, and sank under them . It w as m ore than I could bear. I bent over her hand, kissed it in a stream of delicious tears, and again looked up to her eyes. D ivine K lopstock! w hy didst thou not see thy apotheosis in those eyes? A nd thy nam e so often profaned, w ould that I never heard it repeated! JU N E 19. I no longer rem em ber w here I stopped in m y narrative: I only know it w as tw o in the m orning w hen I w ent to bed; and if you had been w ith m e, that I m ight have talked instead of w riting to you, I should, in all probability, have kept you up till daylight. I think I have not yet related w hat happened as w e rode hom e from the ball, nor have I tim e to tell you now . It w as a m ost m agnificent sunrise: the w hole country w as refreshed, and the rain fell drop by drop from the trees in the forest. O ur com panions w ere asleep. C harlotte asked m e if I did not w ish to sleep also, and begged of m e not to m ake any cerem ony on her account. Looking steadfastly at her, I answ ered, “A s long as I see those eyes open, there is no fear of m y falling asleep.” W e both continued aw ake till w e reached her door. The m aid opened it softly, and assured her, in answ er to her inquiries, that her father and the children w ere w ell, and still sleeping. I left her asking perm ission to visit her in the course of the day. She consented, and I w ent, and, since that tim e, sun, m oon, and stars m ay pursue their course: I know not w hether it is day or night; the w hole w orld is nothing to m e. JU N E 21. M y days are as happy as those reserved by G od for his elect; and, w hatever be m y fate hereafter, I can never say that I have not tasted joy,— the purest joy of life. Y ou know W alheim . I am now com pletely settled there. In that spot I am only half a league from C harlotte; and there I enjoy m yself, and taste all the pleasure w hich can fall to the lot of m an. Little did I im agine, w hen I selected W alheim for m y pedestrian excursions, that all heaven lay so near it. H ow often in m y w anderings from the hillside or from the m eadow s across the river, have I beheld this hunting-lodge, w hich now contains w ithin it all the joy of m y heart! I have often, m y dear W ilhelm , reflected on the eagerness m en feel to w ander and m ake new discoveries, and upon that secret im pulse w hich afterw ard inclines them to return to their narrow circle, conform to the law s of custom , and em barrass them selves no longer w ith w hat passes around them . It is so strange how , w hen I cam e here first, and gazed upon that lovely valley from the hillside, I felt charm ed w ith the entire scene surrounding m e. The little w ood opposite— how delightful to sit under its shade! H ow fine the view from that point of rock! Then, that delightful chain of hills, and the exquisite valleys at their feet! C ould I but w ander and lose m yself am ongst them ! I w ent, and returned w ithout finding w hat I w ished. D istance, m y friend, is like futurity. A dim vastness is spread before our souls: the perceptions of our m ind are as obscure as those of our vision; and w e desire earnestly to surrender up our w hole being, that it m ay be filled w ith the com plete and perfect bliss of one glorious em otion. B ut alas! w hen w e have attained our object, w hen the distant there becom es the present here, all is changed: w e are as poor and circum scribed as ever, and our souls still languish for unattainable happiness. So does the restless traveller pant for his native soil, and find in his ow n cottage, in the arm s of his w ife, in the affections of his children, and in the labour necessary for their support, that happiness w hich he had sought in vain through the w ide w orld. W hen, in the m orning at sunrise, I go out to W alheim , and w ith m y ow n hands gather in the garden the pease w hich are to serve for m y dinner, w hen I sit dow n to shell them , and read m y H om er during the intervals, and then, selecting a saucepan from the kitchen, fetch m y ow n butter, put m y m ess on the fire, cover it up, and sit dow n to stir it as occasion requires, I figure to m yself the illustrious suitors of Penelope, killing, dressing, and preparing their ow n oxen and sw ine. N othing fills m e w ith a m ore pure and genuine sense of happiness than those traits of patriarchal life w hich, thank H eaven! I can im itate w ithout affectation. H appy is it, indeed, for m e that m y heart is capable of feeling the sam e sim ple and innocent pleasure as the peasant w hose table is4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 11/57 covered w ith food of his ow n rearing, and w ho not only enjoys his m eal, but rem em bers w ith delight the happy days and sunny m ornings w hen he planted it, the soft evenings w hen he w atered it, and the pleasure he experienced in w atching its daily grow th. JU N E 29. The day before yesterday, the physician cam e from the tow n to pay a visit to the judge. H e found m e on the floor playing w ith C harlotte’s children. Som e of them w ere scram bling over m e, and others rom ped w ith m e; and, as I caught and tickled them , they m ade a great noise. The doctor is a form al sort of personage: he adjusts the plaits of his ruffles, and continually settles his frill w hilst he is talking to you; and he thought m y conduct beneath the dignity of a sensible m an. I could perceive this by his countenance. B ut I did not suffer m yself to be disturbed. I allow ed him to continue his w ise conversation, w hilst I rebuilt the children’s card houses for them as fast as they threw them dow n. H e w ent about the tow n afterw ard, com plaining that the judge’s children w ere spoiled enough before, but that now W erther w as com pletely ruining them . Y es, m y dear W ilhelm , nothing on this earth affects m y heart so m uch as children. W hen I look on at their doings; w hen I m ark in the little creatures the seeds of all those virtues and qualities w hich they w ill one day find so indispensable; w hen I behold in the obstinate all the future firm ness and constancy of a noble character; in the capricious, that levity and gaiety of tem per w hich w ill carry them lightly over the dangers and troubles of life, their w hole nature sim ple and unpolluted,— then I call to m ind the golden w ords of the G reat Teacher of m ankind, “U nless ye becom e like one of these!” A nd now , m y friend, these children, w ho are our equals, w hom w e ought to consider as our m odels, w e treat them as though they w ere our subjects. They are allow ed no w ill of their ow n. A nd have w e, then, none ourselves? W hence com es our exclusive right? Is it because w e are older and m ore experienced? G reat G od! from the height of thy heaven thou beholdest great children and little children, and no others; and thy Son has long since declared w hich afford thee greatest pleasure. B ut they believe in him , and hear him not,— that, too, is an old story; and they train their children after their ow n im age, etc. A dieu, W ilhelm : I w ill not further bew ilder m yself w ith this subject. JU LY 1. The consolation C harlotte can bring to an invalid I experience from m y ow n heart, w hich suffers m ore from her absence than m any a poor creature lingering on a bed of sickness. She is gone to spend a few days in the tow n w ith a very w orthy w om an, w ho is given over by the physicians, and w ishes to have C harlotte near her in her last m om ents. I accom panied her last w eek on a visit to the V icar of S— , a sm all village in the m ountains, about a league hence. W e arrived about four o’clock: C harlotte had taken her little sister w ith her. W hen w e entered the vicarage court, w e found the good old m an sitting on a bench before the door, under the shade of tw o large w alnut-trees. A t the sight of C harlotte he seem ed to gain new life, rose, forgot his stick, and ventured to w alk tow ard her. She ran to him , and m ade him sit dow n again; then, placing herself by his side, she gave him a num ber of m essages from her father, and then caught up his youngest child, a dirty, ugly little thing, the joy of his old age, and kissed it. I w ish you could have w itnessed her attention to this old m an,— how she raised her voice on account of his deafness; how she told him of healthy young people, w ho had been carried off w hen it w as least expected; praised the virtues of C arlsbad, and com m ended his determ ination to spend the ensuing sum m er there; and assured him that he looked better and stronger than he did w hen she saw him last. I, in the m eantim e, paid attention to his good lady. The old m an seem ed quite in spirits; and as I could not help adm iring the beauty of the w alnut-trees, w hich form ed such an agreeable shade over our heads, he began, though w ith som e little difficulty, to tell us their history. “A s to the oldest,” said he, “w e do not know w ho planted it,— som e say one clergym an, and som e another: but the younger one, there behind us, is exactly the age of m y w ife, fifty years old next O ctober; her father planted it in the m orning, and in the evening she cam e into the w orld. M y w ife’s father w as m y predecessor here, and I cannot tell you how fond he w as of that tree; and it is fully as dear to m e. U nder the shade of that very tree, upon a log of w ood, m y w ife w as seated knitting, w hen I, a poor student, cam e into this court for the first tim e, just seven and tw enty years ago.” C harlotte inquired for his daughter. H e said she w as gone w ith H err Schm idt to the m eadow s, and w as w ith the haym akers. The old m an then resum ed his story, and told us how his predecessor had taken a fancy to him , as had his daughter likew ise; and how he had becom e first his curate, and subsequently his successor. H e had scarcely finished his story w hen his daughter4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 12/57 returned through the garden, accom panied by the above-m entioned H err Schm idt. She w elcom ed C harlotte affectionately, and I confess I w as m uch taken w ith her appearance. She w as a lively- looking, good-hum oured brunette, quite com petent to am use one for a short tim e in the country. H er lover (for such H err Schm idt evidently appeared to be) w as a polite, reserved personage, and w ould not join our conversation, notw ithstanding all C harlotte’s endeavours to draw him out. I w as m uch annoyed at observing, by his countenance, that his silence did not arise from w ant of talent, but from caprice and ill-hum our. This subsequently becam e very evident, w hen w e set out to take a w alk, and Frederica joining C harlotte, w ith w hom I w as talking, the w orthy gentlem an’s face, w hich w as naturally rather som bre, becam e so dark and angry that C harlotte w as obliged to touch m y arm , and rem ind m e that I w as talking too m uch to Frederica. N othing distresses m e m ore than to see m en torm ent each other; particularly w hen in the flow er of their age, in the very season of pleasure, they w aste their few short days of sunshine in quarrels and disputes, and only perceive their error w hen it is too late to repair it. This thought dw elt upon m y m ind; and in the evening, w hen w e returned to the vicar’s, and w ere sitting round the table w ith our bread end m ilk, the conversation turned on the joys and sorrow s of the w orld, I could not resist the tem ptation to inveigh bitterly against ill-hum our. “W e are apt,” said I, “to com plain, but— w ith very little cause, that our happy days are few , and our evil days m any. If our hearts w ere alw ays disposed to receive the benefits H eaven sends us, w e should acquire strength to support evil w hen it com es.” “B ut,” observed the vicar’s w ife, “w e cannot alw ays com m and our tem pers, so m uch depends upon the constitution: w hen the body suffers, the m ind is ill at ease.” “I acknow ledge that,” I continued; “but w e m ust consider such a disposition in the light of a disease, and inquire w hether there is no rem edy for it.” “I should be glad to hear one,” said C harlotte: “at least, I think very m uch depends upon ourselves; I know it is so w ith m e. W hen anything annoys m e, and disturbs m y tem per, I hasten into the garden, hum a couple of country dances, and it is all right w ith m e directly.” “That is w hat I m eant,” I replied; “ill-hum our resem bles indolence: it is natural to us; but if once w e have courage to exert ourselves, w e find our w ork run fresh from our hands, and w e experience in the activity from w hich w e shrank a real enjoym ent.” Frederica listened very attentively: and the young m an objected, that w e w ere not m asters of ourselves, and still less so of our feelings. “The question is about a disagreeable feeling,” I added, “from w hich every one w ould w illingly escape, but none know their ow n pow er w ithout trial. Invalids are glad to consult physicians, and subm it to the m ost scrupulous regim en, the m ost nauseous m edicines, in order to recover their health.” I observed that the good old m an inclined his head, and exerted him self to hear our discourse; so I raised m y voice, and addressed m yself directly to him . “W e preach against a great m any crim es,” I observed, “but I never rem em ber a serm on delivered against ill-hum our.” “That m ay do very w ell for your tow n clergym en,” said he: “country people are never ill-hum oured; though, indeed, it m ight be useful, occasionally, to m y w ife for instance, and the judge.” W e all laughed, as did he likew ise very cordially, till he fell into a fit of coughing, w hich interrupted our conversation for a tim e. H err Schm idt resum ed the subject. “Y ou call ill hum our a crim e,” he rem arked, “but I think you use too strong a term .” “N ot at all,” I replied, “if that deserves the nam e w hich is so pernicious to ourselves and our neighbours. Is it not enough that w e w ant the pow er to m ake one another happy, m ust w e deprive each other of the pleasure w hich w e can all m ake for ourselves? Show m e the m an w ho has the courage to hide his ill-hum our, w ho bears the w hole burden him self, w ithout disturbing the peace of those around him . N o: ill-hum our arises from an inw ard consciousness of our ow n w ant of m erit, from a discontent w hich ever accom panies that envy w hich foolish vanity engenders. W e see people happy, w hom w e have not m ade so, and cannot endure the sight.” C harlotte looked at m e w ith a sm ile; she observed the em otion w ith w hich I spoke: and a tear in the eyes of Frederica stim ulated m e to proceed. “W oe unto those,” I said, “w ho use their pow er over a hum an heart to destroy the sim ple pleasures it w ould naturally enjoy! A ll the favours, all the attentions, in the w orld cannot com pensate for the loss of that happiness w hich a cruel tyranny has destroyed.” M y heart w as full as I spoke. A recollection of m any things w hich had happened pressed upon m y m ind, and filled m y eyes w ith tears. “W e should daily repeat to ourselves,” I exclaim ed, “that w e should not interfere w ith our friends, unless to leave them in possession of their ow n joys, and increase their happiness by sharing it w ith them ! B ut w hen their souls are torm ented by a violent passion, or their hearts rent w ith grief, is it in your pow er to afford them the slightest consolation? “A nd w hen the last fatal m alady seizes the being w hose untim ely grave you have prepared,4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 13/57 w hen she lies languid and exhausted before you, her dim eyes raised to heaven, and the dam p of death upon her pallid brow , there you stand at her bedside like a condem ned crim inal, w ith the bitter feeling that your w hole fortune could not save her; and the agonising thought w rings you, that all your efforts are pow erless to im part even a m om ent’s strength to the departing soul, or quicken her w ith a transitory consolation.” A t these w ords the rem em brance of a sim ilar scene at w hich I had been once present fell w ith full force upon m y heart. I buried m y face in m y handkerchief, and hastened from the room , and w as only recalled to m y recollection by C harlotte’s voice, w ho rem inded m e that it w as tim e to return hom e. W ith w hat tenderness she chid m e on the w ay for the too eager interest I took in everything! She declared it w ould do m e injury, and that I ought to spare m yself. Y es, m y angel! I w ill do so for your sake. JU LY 6. She is still w ith her dying friend, and is still the sam e bright, beautiful creature w hose presence softens pain, and sheds happiness around w hichever w ay she turns. She w ent out yesterday w ith her little sisters: I knew it, and w ent to m eet them ; and w e w alked together. In about an hour and a half w e returned to the tow n. W e stopped at the spring I am so fond of, and w hich is now a thousand tim es dearer to m e than ever. C harlotte seated herself upon the low w all, and w e gathered about her. I looked around, and recalled the tim e w hen m y heart w as unoccupied and free. “D ear fountain!” I said, “since that tim e I have no m ore com e to enjoy cool repose by thy fresh stream : I have passed thee w ith careless steps, and scarcely bestow ed a glance upon thee.” I looked dow n, and observed C harlotte’s little sister, Jane, com ing up the steps w ith a glass of w ater. I turned tow ard C harlotte, and I felt her influence over m e. Jane at the m om ent approached w ith the glass. H er sister, M arianne, w ished to take it from her. “N o!” cried the child, w ith the sw eetest expression of face, “C harlotte m ust drink first.” The affection and sim plicity w ith w hich this w as uttered so charm ed m e, that I sought to express m y feelings by catching up the child and kissing her heartily. She w as frightened, and began to cry. “Y ou should not do that,” said C harlotte: I felt perplexed. “C om e, Jane,” she continued, taking her hand, and leading her dow n the steps again, “it is no m atter: w ash yourself quickly in the fresh w ater.” I stood and w atched them ; and w hen I saw the little dear rubbing her cheeks w ith her w et hands, in full belief that all the im purities contracted from m y ugly beard w ould be w ashed off by the m iraculous w ater, and how , though C harlotte said it w ould do, she continued still to w ash w ith all her m ight, as though she thought too m uch w ere better than too little, I assure you, W ilhelm , I never attended a baptism w ith greater reverence; and, w hen C harlotte cam e up from the w ell, I could have prostrated m yself as before the prophet of an Eastern nation. In the evening I w ould not resist telling the story to a person w ho, I thought, possessed som e natural feeling, because he w as a m an of understanding. B ut w hat a m istake I m ade. H e m aintained it w as very w rong of C harlotte, that w e should not deceive children, that such things occasioned countless m istakes and superstitions, from w hich w e w ere bound to protect the young. It occurred to m e then, that this very m an had been baptised only a w eek before; so I said nothing further, but m aintained the justice of m y ow n convictions. W e should deal w ith children as G od deals w ith us, w e are happiest under the influence of innocent delusions. JU LY 8. W hat a child is m an that he should be so solicitous about a look! W hat a child is m an! W e had been to W alheim : the ladies w ent in a carriage; but during our w alk I thought I saw in C harlotte’s dark eyes— I am a fool— but forgive m e! you should see them ,— those eyes.— H ow ever, to be brief (for m y ow n eyes are w eighed dow n w ith sleep), you m ust know , w hen the ladies stepped into their carriage again, young W . Seldstadt, A ndran, and I w ere standing about the door. They are a m erry set of fellow s, and they w ere all laughing and joking together. I w atched C harlotte’s eyes. They w andered from one to the other; but they did not light on m e, on m e, w ho stood there m otionless, and w ho saw nothing but her! M y heart bade her a thousand tim es adieu, but she noticed m e not. The carriage drove off; and m y eyes filled w ith tears. I looked after her: suddenly I saw C harlotte’s bonnet leaning out of the w indow , and she turned to look back, w as it at m e? M y dear friend, I know not; and in this uncertainty I find consolation. Perhaps she turned to look at m e. Perhaps! G ood-night— w hat a child I am !4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 14/57 JU LY 10. Y ou should see how foolish I look in com pany w hen her nam e is m entioned, particularly w hen I am asked plainly how I like her. H ow I like her! I detest the phrase. W hat sort of creature m ust he be w ho m erely liked C harlotte, w hose w hole heart and senses w ere not entirely absorbed by her. Like her! Som e one asked m e lately how I liked O ssian. JU LY 11. M adam e M — is very ill. I pray for her recovery, because C harlotte shares m y sufferings. I see her occasionally at m y friend’s house, and to-day she has told m e the strangest circum stance. O ld M — is a covetous, m iserly fellow , w ho has long w orried and annoyed the poor lady sadly; but she has borne her afflictions patiently. A few days ago, w hen the physician inform ed us that her recovery w as hopeless, she sent for her husband (C harlotte w as present), and addressed him thus: “I have som ething to confess, w hich, after m y decease, m ay occasion trouble and confusion. I have hitherto conducted your household as frugally and econom ically as possible, but you m ust pardon m e for having defrauded you for thirty years. A t the com m encem ent of our m arried life, you allow ed a sm all sum for the w ants of the kitchen, and the other household expenses. W hen our establishm ent increased and our property grew larger, I could not persuade you to increase the w eekly allow ance in proportion: in short, you know , that, w hen our w ants w ere greatest, you required m e to supply everything w ith seven florins a w eek. I took the m oney from you w ithout an observation, but m ade up the w eekly deficiency from the m oney-chest; as nobody w ould suspect your w ife of robbing the household bank. B ut I have w asted nothing, and should have been content to m eet m y eternal Judge w ithout this confession, if she, upon w hom the m anagem ent of your establishm ent w ill devolve after m y decease, w ould be free from em barrassm ent upon your insisting that the allow ance m ade to m e, your form er w ife, w as sufficient.” I talked w ith C harlotte of the inconceivable m anner in w hich m en allow them selves to be blinded; how any one could avoid suspecting som e deception, w hen seven florins only w ere allow ed to defray expenses tw ice as great. B ut I have m yself know n people w ho believed, w ithout any visible astonishm ent, that their house possessed the prophet’s never-failing cruse of oil. JU LY 13. N o, I am not deceived. In her dark eyes I read a genuine interest in m e and in m y fortunes. Y es, I feel it; and I m ay believe m y ow n heart w hich tells m e— dare I say it?— dare I pronounce the divine w ords?— that she loves m e! That she loves m e! H ow the idea exalts m e in m y ow n eyes! A nd, as you can understand m y feelings, I m ay say to you, how I honour m yself since she loves m e! Is this presum ption, or is it a consciousness of the truth? I do not know a m an able to supplant m e in the heart of C harlotte; and yet w hen she speaks of her betrothed w ith so m uch w arm th and affection, I feel like the soldier w ho has been stripped of his honours and titles, and deprived of his sw ord. JU LY 16. H ow m y heart beats w hen by accident I touch her finger, or m y feet m eet hers under the table! I draw back as if from a furnace; but a secret force im pels m e forw ard again, and m y senses becom e disordered. H er innocent, unconscious heart never know s w hat agony these little fam iliarities inflict upon m e. Som etim es w hen w e are talking she lays her hand upon m ine, and in the eagerness of conversation com es closer to m e, and her balm y breath reaches m y lips,— w hen I feel as if lightning had struck m e, and that I could sink into the earth. A nd yet, W ilhelm , w ith all this heavenly confidence,— if I know m yself, and should ever dare— you understand m e. N o, no! m y heart is not so corrupt, it is w eak, w eak enough but is not that a degree of corruption? She is to m e a sacred being. A ll passion is still in her presence: I cannot express m y sensations w hen I am near her. I feel as if m y soul beat in every nerve of m y body. There is a m elody w hich she plays on the piano w ith angelic skill,— so sim ple is it, and yet so spiritual! It is her favourite air; and, w hen she plays the first note, all pain, care, and sorrow disappear from m e in a m om ent. I believe every w ord that is said of the m agic of ancient m usic. H ow her sim ple song enchants m e! Som etim es, w hen I am ready to com m it suicide, she sings that air; and instantly the gloom4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 15/57 and m adness w hich hung over m e are dispersed, and I breathe freely again. JU LY 18. W ilhelm , w hat is the w orld to our hearts w ithout love? W hat is a m agic-lantern w ithout light? Y ou have but to kindle the flam e w ithin, and the brightest figures shine on the w hite w all; and, if love only show us fleeting shadow s, w e are yet happy, w hen, like m ere children, w e behold them , and are transported w ith the splendid phantom s. I have not been able to see C harlotte to-day. I w as prevented by com pany from w hich I could not disengage m yself. W hat w as to be done? I sent m y servant to her house, that I m ight at least see som ebody to-day w ho had been near her. O h, the im patience w ith w hich I w aited for his return! the joy w ith w hich I w elcom ed him ! I should certainly have caught him in m y arm s, and kissed him , if I had not been asham ed. It is said that the B onona stone, w hen placed in the sun, attracts the rays, and for a tim e appears lum inous in the dark. So w as it w ith m e and this servant. The idea that C harlotte’s eyes had dw elt on his countenance, his cheek, his very apparel, endeared them all inestim ably to m e, so that at the m om ent I w ould not have parted from him for a thousand crow ns. H is presence m ade m e so happy! B ew are of laughing at m e, W ilhelm . C an that be a delusion w hich m akes us happy? JU LY 19. “I shall see her today!” I exclaim w ith delight, w hen I rise in the m orning, and look out w ith gladness of heart at the bright, beautiful sun. “I shall see her today!” A nd then I have no further w ish to form : all, all is included in that one thought. JU LY 20. I cannot assent to your proposal that I should accom pany the am bassador to — — — . I do not love subordination; and w e all know that he is a rough, disagreeable person to be connected w ith. Y ou say m y m other w ishes m e to be em ployed. I could not help laughing at that. A m I not sufficiently em ployed? A nd is it not in reality the sam e, w hether I shell peas or count lentils? The w orld runs on from one folly to another; and the m an w ho, solely from regard to the opinion of others, and w ithout any w ish or necessity of his ow n, toils after gold, honour, or any other phantom , is no better than a fool. JU LY 24. Y ou insist so m uch on m y not neglecting m y draw ing, that it w ould be as w ell for m e to say nothing as to confess how little I have lately done. I never felt happier, I never understood nature better, even dow n to the veriest stem or sm allest blade of grass; and yet I am unable to express m yself: m y pow ers of execution are so w eak, everything seem s to sw im and float before m e, so that I cannot m ake a clear, bold outline. B ut I fancy I should succeed better if I had som e clay or w ax to m odel. I shall try, if this state of m ind continues m uch longer, and w ill take to m odelling, if I only knead dough. I have com m enced C harlotte’s portrait three tim es, and have as often disgraced m yself. This is the m ore annoying, as I w as form erly very happy in taking likenesses. I have since sketched her profile, and m ust content m yself w ith that. JU LY 25. Y es, dear C harlotte! I w ill order and arrange everything. O nly give m e m ore com m issions, the m ore the better. O ne thing, how ever, I m ust request: use no m ore w riting-sand w ith the dear notes you send m e. Today I raised your letter hastily to m y lips, and it set m y teeth on edge. JU LY 26. I have often determ ined not to see her so frequently. B ut w ho could keep such a resolution? Every day I am exposed to the tem ptation, and prom ise faithfully that to-m orrow I w ill really stay aw ay: but, w hen tom orrow com es, I find som e irresistible reason for seeing her; and, before I can account for it, I am w ith her again. Either she has said on the previous evening “Y ou w ill be sure to call to-m orrow ,”— and w ho could stay aw ay then?— or she gives m e som e com m ission, and I find it essential to take her the answ er in person; or the day is fine, and I w alk to W alheim ; and, w hen I am there, it is only half a league farther to her. I am w ithin the charm ed atm osphere, and soon find m yself at her side. M y grandm other used to tell us a story of a m ountain of loadstone. W hen any vessels cam e near it, they w ere instantly deprived of their ironw ork: the nails flew to4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 16/57 the m ountain, and the unhappy crew perished am idst the disjointed planks. JU LY 30. A lbert is arrived, and I m ust take m y departure. W ere he the best and noblest of m en, and I in every respect his inferior, I could not endure to see him in possession of such a perfect being. Possession!— enough, W ilhelm : her betrothed is here,— a fine, w orthy fellow , w hom one cannot help liking. Fortunately I w as not present at their m eeting. It w ould have broken m y heart! A nd he is so considerate: he has not given C harlotte one kiss in m y presence. H eaven rew ard him for it! I m ust love him for the respect w ith w hich he treats her. H e show s a regard for m e, but for this I suspect I am m ore indebted to C harlotte than to his ow n fancy for m e. W om en have a delicate tact in such m atters, and it should be so. They cannot alw ays succeed in keeping tw o rivals on term s w ith each other; but, w hen they do, they are the only gainers. I cannot help esteem ing A lbert. The coolness of his tem per contrasts strongly w ith the im petuosity of m ine, w hich I cannot conceal. H e has a great deal of feeling, and is fully sensible of the treasure he possesses in C harlotte. H e is free from ill-hum our, w hich you know is the fault I detest m ost. H e regards m e as a m an of sense; and m y attachm ent to C harlotte, and the interest I take in all that concerns her, augm ent his trium ph and his love. I shall not inquire w hether he m ay not at tim es tease her w ith som e little jealousies; as I know , that, w ere I in his place, I should not be entirely free from such sensations. B ut, be that as it m ay, m y pleasure w ith C harlotte is over. C all it folly or infatuation, w hat signifies a nam e? The thing speaks for itself. B efore A lbert cam e, I knew all that I know now . I knew I could m ake no pretensions to her, nor did I offer any, that is, as far as it w as possible, in the presence of so m uch loveliness, not to pant for its enjoym ent. A nd now , behold m e like a silly fellow , staring w ith astonishm ent w hen another com es in, and deprives m e of m y love. I bite m y lips, and feel infinite scorn for those w ho tell m e to be resigned, because there is no help for it. Let m e escape from the yoke of such silly subterfuges! I ram ble through the w oods; and w hen I return to C harlotte, and find A lbert sitting by her side in the sum m er-house in the garden, I am unable to bear it, behave like a fool, and com m it a thousand extravagances. “For H eaven’s sake,” said C harlotte today, “let us have no m ore scenes like those of last night! Y ou terrify m e w hen you are so violent.” B etw een ourselves, I am alw ays aw ay now w hen he visits her: and I feel delighted w hen I find her alone. A U G U ST 8. B elieve m e, dear W ilhelm , I did not allude to you w hen I spoke so severely of those w ho advise resignation to inevitable fate. I did not think it possible for you to indulge such a sentim ent. B ut in fact you are right. I only suggest one objection. In this w orld one is seldom reduced to m ake a selection betw een tw o alternatives. There are as m any varieties of conduct and opinion as there are turns of feature betw een an aquiline nose and a flat one. Y ou w ill, therefore, perm it m e to concede your entire argum ent, and yet contrive m eans to escape your dilem m a. Y our position is this, I hear you say: “Either you have hopes of obtaining C harlotte, or you have none. W ell, in the first case, pursue your course, and press on to the fulfilm ent of your w ishes. In the second, be a m an, and shake off a m iserable passion, w hich w ill enervate and destroy you.” M y dear friend, this is w ell and easily said. B ut w ould you require a w retched being, w hose life is slow ly w asting under a lingering disease, to despatch him self at once by the stroke of a dagger? D oes not the very disorder w hich consum es his strength deprive him of the courage to effect his deliverance? Y ou m ay answ er m e, if you please, w ith a sim ilar analogy, “W ho w ould not prefer the am putation of an arm to the periling of life by doubt and procrastination!” B ut I know not if I am right, and let us leave these com parisons. Enough! There are m om ents, W ilhelm , w hen I could rise up and shake it all off, and w hen, if I only knew w here to go, I could fly from this place. TH E SA M E EV EN IN G . M y diary, w hich I have for som e tim e neglected, cam e before m e today; and I am am azed to4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 17/57 see how deliberately I have entangled m yself step by step. To have seen m y position so clearly, and yet to have acted so like a child! Even still I behold the result plainly, and yet have no thought of acting w ith greater prudence. A U G U ST 10. If I w ere not a fool, I could spend the happiest and m ost delightful life here. So m any agreeable circum stances, and of a kind to ensure a w orthy m an’s happiness, are seldom united. A las! I feel it too sensibly,— the heart alone m akes our happiness! To be adm itted into this m ost charm ing fam ily, to be loved by the father as a son, by the children as a father, and by C harlotte! then the noble A lbert, w ho never disturbs m y happiness by any appearance of ill-hum our, receiving m e w ith the heartiest affection, and loving m e, next to C harlotte, better than all the w orld! W ilhelm , you w ould be delighted to hear us in our ram bles, and conversations about C harlotte. N othing in the w orld can be m ore absurd than our connection, and yet the thought of it often m oves m e to tears. H e tells m e som etim es of her excellent m other; how , upon her death-bed, she had com m itted her house and children to C harlotte, and had given C harlotte herself in charge to him ; how , since that tim e, a new spirit had taken possession of her; how , in care and anxiety for their w elfare, she becam e a real m other to them ; how every m om ent of her tim e w as devoted to som e labour of love in their behalf,— and yet her m irth and cheerfulness had never forsaken her. I w alk by his side, pluck flow ers by the w ay, arrange them carefully into a nosegay, then fling them into the first stream I pass, and w atch them as they float gently aw ay. I forget w hether I told you that A lbert is to rem ain here. H e has received a governm ent appointm ent, w ith a very good salary; and I understand he is in high favour at court. I have m et few persons so punctual and m ethodical in business. A U G U ST 12. C ertainly A lbert is the best fellow in the w orld. I had a strange scene w ith him yesterday. I w ent to take leave of him ; for I took it into m y head to spend a few days in these m ountains, from w here I now w rite to you. A s I w as w alking up and dow n his room , m y eye fell upon his pistols. “Lend m e those pistols,” said I, “for m y journey.” “B y all m eans,” he replied, “if you w ill take the trouble to load them ; for they only hang there for form .” I took dow n one of them ; and he continued, “Ever since I w as near suffering for m y extrem e caution, I w ill have nothing to do w ith such things.” I w as curious to hear the story. “I w as staying,” said he, “som e three m onths ago, at a friend’s house in the country. I had a brace of pistols w ith m e, unloaded; and I slept w ithout any anxiety. O ne rainy afternoon I w as sitting by m yself, doing nothing, w hen it occurred to m e I do not know how that the house m ight be attacked, that w e m ight require the pistols, that w e m ight in short, you know how w e go on fancying, w hen w e have nothing better to do. I gave the pistols to the servant, to clean and load. H e w as playing w ith the m aid, and trying to frighten her, w hen the pistol w ent off— G od know s how !— the ram rod w as in the barrel; and it w ent straight through her right hand, and shattered the thum b. I had to endure all the lam entation, and to pay the surgeon’s bill; so, since that tim e, I have kept all m y w eapons unloaded. B ut, m y dear friend, w hat is the use of prudence? W e can never be on our guard against all possible dangers. H ow ever,”— now , you m ust know I can tolerate all m en till they com e to “how ever;”— for it is self-evident that every universal rule m ust have its exceptions. B ut he is so exceedingly accurate, that, if he only fancies he has said a w ord too precipitate, or too general, or only half true, he never ceases to qualify, to m odify, and extenuate, till at last he appears to have said nothing at all. U pon this occasion, A lbert w as deeply im m ersed in his subject: I ceased to listen to him , and becam e lost in reverie. W ith a sudden m otion, I pointed the m outh of the pistol to m y forehead, over the right eye. “W hat do you m ean?” cried A lbert, turning back the pistol. “It is not loaded,” said I. “A nd even if not,” he answ ered w ith im patience, “w hat can you m ean? I cannot com prehend how a m an can be so m ad as to shoot him self, and the bare idea of it shocks m e.” “B ut w hy should any one,” said I, “in speaking of an action, venture to pronounce it m ad or w ise, or good or bad? W hat is the m eaning of all this? H ave you carefully studied the secret m otives of our actions? D o you understand— can you explain the causes w hich occasion them , and m ake them inevitable? If you can, you w ill be less hasty w ith your decision.” “B ut you w ill allow ,” said A lbert; “that som e actions are crim inal, let them spring from w hatever m otives they m ay.” I granted it, and shrugged m y shoulders.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 18/57 “B ut still, m y good friend,” I continued, “there are som e exceptions here too. Theft is a crim e; but the m an w ho com m its it from extrem e poverty, w ith no design but to save his fam ily from perishing, is he an object of pity, or of punishm ent? W ho shall throw the first stone at a husband, w ho, in the heat of just resentm ent, sacrifices his faithless w ife and her perfidious seducer? or at the young m aiden, w ho, in her w eak hour of rapture, forgets herself in the im petuous joys of love? Even our law s, cold and cruel as they are, relent in such cases, and w ithhold their punishm ent.” “That is quite another thing,” said A lbert; “because a m an under the influence of violent passion loses all pow er of reflection, and is regarded as intoxicated or insane.” “O h! you people of sound understandings,” I replied, sm iling, “are ever ready to exclaim ‘Extravagance, and m adness, and intoxication!’ Y ou m oral m en are so calm and so subdued! Y ou abhor the drunken m an, and detest the extravagant; you pass by, like the Levite, and thank G od, like the Pharisee, that you are not like one of them . I have been m ore than once intoxicated, m y passions have alw ays bordered on extravagance: I am not asham ed to confess it; for I have learned, by m y ow n experience, that all extraordinary m en, w ho have accom plished great and astonishing actions, have ever been decried by the w orld as drunken or insane. A nd in private life, too, is it not intolerable that no one can undertake the execution of a noble or generous deed, w ithout giving rise to the exclam ation that the doer is intoxicated or m ad? Sham e upon you, ye sages!” “This is another of your extravagant hum ours,” said A lbert: “you alw ays exaggerate a case, and in this m atter you are undoubtedly w rong; for w e w ere speaking of suicide, w hich you com pare w ith great actions, w hen it is im possible to regard it as anything but a w eakness. It is m uch easier to die than to bear a life of m isery w ith fortitude.” I w as on the point of breaking off the conversation, for nothing puts m e so com pletely out of patience as the utterance of a w retched com m onplace w hen I am talking from m y inm ost heart. H ow ever, I com posed m yself, for I had often heard the sam e observation w ith sufficient vexation; and I answ ered him , therefore, w ith a little w arm th, “Y ou call this a w eakness— bew are of being led astray by appearances. W hen a nation, w hich has long groaned under the intolerable yoke of a tyrant, rises at last and throw s off its chains, do you call that w eakness? The m an w ho, to rescue his house from the flam es, finds his physical strength redoubled, so that he lifts burdens w ith ease, w hich, in the absence of excitem ent, he could scarcely m ove; he w ho, under the rage of an insult, attacks and puts to flight half a score of his enem ies, are such persons to be called w eak? M y good friend, if resistance be strength, how can the highest degree of resistance be a w eakness?” A lbert looked steadfastly at m e, and said, “Pray forgive m e, but I do not see that the exam ples you have adduced bear any relation to the question.” “V ery likely,” I answ ered; “for I have often been told that m y style of illustration borders a little on the absurd. B ut let us see if w e cannot place the m atter in another point of view , by inquiring w hat can be a m an’s state of m ind w ho resolves to free him self from the burden of life,— a burden often so pleasant to bear,— for w e cannot otherw ise reason fairly upon the subject. “H um an nature,” I continued, “has its lim its. It is able to endure a certain degree of joy, sorrow , and pain, but becom es annihilated as soon as this m easure is exceeded. The question, therefore, is, not w hether a m an is strong or w eak, but w hether he is able to endure the m easure of his sufferings. The suffering m ay be m oral or physical; and in m y opinion it is just as absurd to call a m an a cow ard w ho destroys him self, as to call a m an a cow ard w ho dies of a m alignant fever.” “Paradox, all paradox!” exclaim ed A lbert. “N ot so paradoxical as you im agine,” I replied. “Y ou allow that w e designate a disease as m ortal w hen nature is so severely attacked, and her strength so far exhausted, that she cannot possibly recover her form er condition under any change that m ay take place. “N ow , m y good friend, apply this to the m ind; observe a m an in his natural, isolated condition; consider how ideas w ork, and how im pressions fasten on him , till at length a violent passion seizes him , destroying all his pow ers of calm reflection, and utterly ruining him . “It is in vain that a m an of sound m ind and cool tem per understands the condition of such a w retched being, in vain he counsels him . H e can no m ore com m unicate his ow n w isdom to him4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 19/57 than a healthy m an can instil his strength into the invalid, by w hose bedside he is seated.” A lbert thought this too general. I rem inded him of a girl w ho had drow ned herself a short tim e previously, and I related her history. She w as a good creature, w ho had grow n up in the narrow sphere of household industry and w eekly appointed labour; one w ho knew no pleasure beyond indulging in a w alk on Sundays, arrayed in her best attire, accom panied by her friends, or perhaps joining in the dance now and then at som e festival, and chatting aw ay her spare hours w ith a neighbour, discussing the scandal or the quarrels of the village, trifles sufficient to occupy her heart. A t length the w arm th of her nature is influenced by certain new and unknow n w ishes. Inflam ed by the flatteries of m en, her form er pleasures becom e by degrees insipid, till at length she m eets w ith a youth to w hom she is attracted by an indescribable feeling; upon him she now rests all her hopes; she forgets the w orld around her; she sees, hears, desires nothing but him , and him only. H e alone occupies all her thoughts. U ncorrupted by the idle indulgence of an enervating vanity, her affection m oving steadily tow ard its object, she hopes to becom e his, and to realise, in an everlasting union w ith him , all that happiness w hich she sought, all that bliss for w hich she longed. H is repeated prom ises confirm her hopes: em braces and endearm ents, w hich increase the ardour of her desires, overm aster her soul. She floats in a dim , delusive anticipation of her happiness; and her feelings becom e excited to their utm ost tension. She stretches out her arm s finally to em brace the object of all her w ishes and her lover forsakes her. Stunned and bew ildered, she stands upon a precipice. A ll is darkness around her. N o prospect, no hope, no consolation— forsaken by him in w hom her existence w as centred! She sees nothing of the w ide w orld before her, thinks nothing of the m any individuals w ho m ight supply the void in her heart; she feels herself deserted, forsaken by the w orld; and, blinded and im pelled by the agony w hich w rings her soul, she plunges into the deep, to end her sufferings in the broad em brace of death. See here, A lbert, the history of thousands; and tell m e, is not this a case of physical infirm ity? N ature has no w ay to escape from the labyrinth: her pow ers are exhausted: she can contend no longer, and the poor soul m ust die. “Sham e upon him w ho can look on calm ly, and exclaim , ‘The foolish girl! she should have w aited; she should have allow ed tim e to w ear off the im pression; her despair w ould have been softened, and she w ould have found another lover to com fort her.’ O ne m ight as w ell say, ‘The fool, to die of a fever! w hy did he not w ait till his strength w as restored, till his blood becam e calm ? all w ould then have gone w ell, and he w ould have been alive now .'” A lbert, w ho could not see the justice of the com parison, offered som e further objections, and, am ongst others, urged that I had taken the case of a m ere ignorant girl. B ut how any m an of sense, of m ore enlarged view s and experience, could be excused, he w as unable to com prehend. “M y friend!” I exclaim ed, “m an is but m an; and, w hatever be the extent of his reasoning pow ers, they are of little avail w hen passion rages w ithin, and he feels him self confined by the narrow lim its of nature. It w ere better, then— but w e w ill talk of this som e other tim e,” I said, and caught up m y hat. A las! m y heart w as full; and w e parted w ithout conviction on either side. H ow rarely in this w orld do m en understand each other! A U G U ST 15. There can be no doubt that in this w orld nothing is so indispensable as love. I observe that C harlotte could not lose m e w ithout a pang, and the very children have but one w ish; that is, that I should visit them again to-m orrow . I w ent this afternoon to tune C harlotte’s piano. B ut I could not do it, for the little ones insisted on m y telling them a story; and C harlotte herself urged m e to satisfy them . I w aited upon them at tea, and they are now as fully contented w ith m e as w ith C harlotte; and I told them m y very best tale of the princess w ho w as w aited upon by dw arfs. I im prove m yself by this exercise, and am quite surprised at the im pression m y stories create. If I som etim es invent an incident w hich I forget upon the next narration, they rem ind one directly that the story w as different before; so that I now endeavour to relate w ith exactness the sam e anecdote in the sam e m onotonous tone, w hich never changes. I find by this, how m uch an author injures his w orks by altering them , even though they be im proved in a poetical point of view . The first im pression is readily received. W e are so constituted that w e believe the m ost incredible things; and, once they are engraved upon the m em ory, w oe to him w ho w ould endeavour to efface them . A U G U ST 18.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 20/57 M ust it ever be thus,— that the source of our happiness m ust also be the fountain of our m isery? The full and ardent sentim ent w hich anim ated m y heart w ith the love of nature, overw helm ing m e w ith a torrent of delight, and w hich brought all paradise before m e, has now becom e an insupportable torm ent, a dem on w hich perpetually pursues and harasses m e. W hen in bygone days I gazed from these rocks upon yonder m ountains across the river, and upon the green, flow ery valley before m e, and saw all nature budding and bursting around; the hills clothed from foot to peak w ith tall, thick forest trees; the valleys in all their varied w indings, shaded w ith the loveliest w oods; and the soft river gliding along am ongst the lisping reeds, m irroring the beautiful clouds w hich the soft evening breeze w afted across the sky,— w hen I heard the groves about m e m elodious w ith the m usic of birds, and saw the m illion sw arm s of insects dancing in the last golden beam s of the sun, w hose setting rays aw oke the hum m ing beetles from their grassy beds, w hilst the subdued tum ult around directed m y attention to the ground, and I there observed the arid rock com pelled to yield nutrim ent to the dry m oss, w hilst the heath flourished upon the barren sands below m e, all this displayed to m e the inner w arm th w hich anim ates all nature, and filled and glow ed w ithin m y heart. I felt m yself exalted by this overflow ing fulness to the perception of the G odhead, and the glorious form s of an infinite universe becam e visible to m y soul! Stupendous m ountains encom passed m e, abysses yaw ned at m y feet, and cataracts fell headlong dow n before m e; im petuous rivers rolled through the plain, and rocks and m ountains resounded from afar. In the depths of the earth I saw innum erable pow ers in m otion, and m ultiplying to infinity; w hilst upon its surface, and beneath the heavens, there teem ed ten thousand varieties of living creatures. Everything around is alive w ith an infinite num ber of form s; w hile m ankind fly for security to their petty houses, from the shelter of w hich they rule in their im aginations over the w ide-extended universe. Poor fool! in w hose petty estim ation all things are little. From the inaccessible m ountains, across the desert w hich no m ortal foot has trod, far as the confines of the unknow n ocean, breathes the spirit of the eternal C reator; and every atom to w hich he has given existence finds favour in his sight. A h, how often at that tim e has the flight of a bird, soaring above m y head, inspired m e w ith the desire of being transported to the shores of the im m easurable w aters, there to quaff the pleasures of life from the foam ing goblet of the Infinite, and to partake, if but for a m om ent even, w ith the confined pow ers of m y soul, the beatitude of that C reator w ho accom plishes all things in him self, and through him self! M y dear friend, the bare recollection of those hours still consoles m e. Even this effort to recall those ineffable sensations, and give them utterance, exalts m y soul above itself, and m akes m e doubly feel the intensity of m y present anguish. It is as if a curtain had been draw n from before m y eyes, and, instead of prospects of eternal life, the abyss of an ever open grave yaw ned before m e. C an w e say of anything that it exists w hen all passes aw ay, w hen tim e, w ith the speed of a storm , carries all things onw ard,— and our transitory existence, hurried along by the torrent, is either sw allow ed up by the w aves or dashed against the rocks? There is not a m om ent but preys upon you,— and upon all around you, not a m om ent in w hich you do not yourself becom e a destroyer. The m ost innocent w alk deprives of life thousands of poor insects: one step destroys the fabric of the industrious ant, and converts a little w orld into chaos. N o: it is not the great and rare calam ities of the w orld, the floods w hich sw eep aw ay w hole villages, the earthquakes w hich sw allow up our tow ns, that affect m e. M y heart is w asted by the thought of that destructive pow er w hich lies concealed in every part of universal nature. N ature has form ed nothing that does not consum e itself, and every object near it: so that, surrounded by earth and air, and all the active pow ers, I w ander on m y w ay w ith aching heart; and the universe is to m e a fearful m onster, for ever devouring its ow n offspring. A U G U ST 21. In vain do I stretch out m y arm s tow ard her w hen I aw aken in the m orning from m y w eary slum bers. In vain do I seek for her at night in m y bed, w hen som e innocent dream has happily deceived m e, and placed her near m e in the fields, w hen I have seized her hand and covered it w ith countless kisses. A nd w hen I feel for her in the half confusion of sleep, w ith the happy sense that she is near, tears flow from m y oppressed heart; and, bereft of all com fort, I w eep over m y future w oes. A U G U ST 22. W hat a m isfortune, W ilhelm ! M y active spirits have degenerated into contented indolence. I4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 21/57 cannot be idle, and yet I am unable to set to w ork. I cannot think: I have no longer any feeling for the beauties of nature, and books are distasteful to m e. O nce w e give ourselves up, w e are totally lost. M any a tim e and oft I w ish I w ere a com m on labourer; that, aw akening in the m orning, I m ight have but one prospect, one pursuit, one hope, for the day w hich has daw ned. I often envy A lbert w hen I see him buried in a heap of papers and parchm ents, and I fancy I should be happy w ere I in his place. O ften im pressed w ith this feeling I have been on the point of w riting to you and to the m inister, for the appointm ent at the em bassy, w hich you think I m ight obtain. I believe I m ight procure it. The m inister has long show n a regard for m e, and has frequently urged m e to seek em ploym ent. It is the business of an hour only. N ow and then the fable of the horse recurs to m e. W eary of liberty, he suffered him self to be saddled and bridled, and w as ridden to death for his pains. I know not w hat to determ ine upon. For is not this anxiety for change the consequence of that restless spirit w hich w ould pursue m e equally in every situation of life? A U G U ST 28. If m y ills w ould adm it of any cure, they w ould certainly be cured here. This is m y birthday, and early in the m orning I received a packet from A lbert. U pon opening it, I found one of the pink ribbons w hich C harlotte w ore in her dress the first tim e I saw her, and w hich I had several tim es asked her to give m e. W ith it w ere tw o volum es in duodecim o of W etstein’s “H om er,” a book I had often w ished for, to save m e the inconvenience of carrying the large Ernestine edition w ith m e upon m y w alks. Y ou see how they anticipate m y w ishes, how w ell they understand all those little attentions of friendship, so superior to the costly presents of the great, w hich are hum iliating. I kissed the ribbon a thousand tim es, and in every breath inhaled the rem em brance of those happy and irrevocable days w hich filled m e w ith the keenest joy. Such, W ilhelm , is our fate. I do not m urm ur at it: the flow ers of life are but visionary. H ow m any pass aw ay, and leave no trace behind— how few yield any fruit— and the fruit itself, how rarely does it ripen! A nd yet there are flow ers enough! and is it not strange, m y friend, that w e should suffer the little that does really ripen, to rot, decay, and perish unenjoyed? Farew ell! This is a glorious sum m er. I often clim b into the trees in C harlotte’s orchard, and shake dow n the pears that hang on the highest branches. She stands below , and catches them as they fall. A U G U ST 30. U nhappy being that I am ! W hy do I thus deceive m yself? W hat is to com e of all this w ild, aim less, endless passion? I cannot pray except to her. M y im agination sees nothing but her: all surrounding objects are of no account, except as they relate to her. In this dream y state I enjoy m any happy hours, till at length I feel com pelled to tear m yself aw ay from her. A h, W ilhelm , to w hat does not m y heart often com pel m e! W hen I have spent several hours in her com pany, till I feel com pletely absorbed by her figure, her grace, the divine expression of her thoughts, m y m ind becom es gradually excited to the highest excess, m y sight grow s dim , m y hearing confused, m y breathing oppressed as if by the hand of a m urderer, and m y beating heart seeks to obtain relief for m y aching senses. I am som etim es unconscious w hether I really exist. If in such m om ents I find no sym pathy, and C harlotte does not allow m e to enjoy the m elancholy consolation of bathing her hand w ith m y tears, I feel com pelled to tear m yself from her, w hen I either w ander through the country, clim b som e precipitous cliff, or force a path through the trackless thicket, w here I am lacerated and torn by thorns and briers; and thence I find relief. Som etim es I lie stretched on the ground, overcom e w ith fatigue and dying w ith thirst; som etim es, late in the night, w hen the m oon shines above m e, I recline against an aged tree in som e sequestered forest, to rest m y w eary lim bs, w hen, exhausted and w orn, I sleep till break of day. O W ilhelm ! the herm it’s cell, his sackcloth, and girdle of thorns w ould be luxury and indulgence com pared w ith w hat I suffer. A dieu! I see no end to this w retchedness except the grave. SEPTEM B ER 3. I m ust aw ay. Thank you, W ilhelm , for determ ining m y w avering purpose. For a w hole fortnight I have thought of leaving her. I m ust aw ay. She has returned to tow n, and is at the house of a friend. A nd then, A lbert— yes, I m ust go. SEPTEM B ER 10. O h, w hat a night, W ilhelm ! I can henceforth bear anything. I shall never see her again. O h, w hy cannot I fall on your neck, and, w ith floods of tears and raptures, give utterance to all the passions w hich distract m y heart! H ere I sit gasping for breath, and struggling to com pose4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 22/57 m yself. I w ait for day, and at sunrise the horses are to be at the door. A nd she is sleeping calm ly, little suspecting that she has seen m e for the last tim e. I am free. I have had the courage, in an interview of tw o hours’ duration, not to betray m y intention. A nd O W ilhelm , w hat a conversation it w as! A lbert had prom ised to com e to C harlotte in the garden im m ediately after supper. I w as upon the terrace under the tall chestnut trees, and w atched the setting sun. I saw him sink for the last tim e beneath this delightful valley and silent stream . I had often visited the sam e spot w ith C harlotte, and w itnessed that glorious sight; and now — I w as w alking up and dow n the very avenue w hich w as so dear to m e. A secret sym pathy had frequently draw n m e thither before I knew C harlotte; and w e w ere delighted w hen, in our early acquaintance, w e discovered that w e each loved the sam e spot, w hich is indeed as rom antic as any that ever captivated the fancy of an artist. From beneath the chestnut trees, there is an extensive view . B ut I rem em ber that I have m entioned all this in a form er letter, and have described the tall m ass of beech trees at the end, and how the avenue grow s darker and darker as it w inds its w ay am ong them , till it ends in a gloom y recess, w hich has all the charm of a m ysterious solitude. I still rem em ber the strange feeling of m elancholy w hich cam e over m e the first tim e I entered that dark retreat, at bright m idday. I felt som e secret foreboding that it w ould, one day, be to m e the scene of som e happiness or m isery. I had spent half an hour struggling betw een the contending thoughts of going and returning, w hen I heard them com ing up the terrace. I ran to m eet them . I trem bled as I took her hand, and kissed it. A s w e reached the top of the terrace, the m oon rose from behind the w ooded hill. W e conversed on m any subjects, and, w ithout perceiving it, approached the gloom y recess. C harlotte entered, and sat dow n. A lbert seated him self beside her. I did the sam e, but m y agitation did not suffer m e to rem ain long seated. I got up, and stood before her, then w alked backw ard and forw ard, and sat dow n again. I w as restless and m iserable. C harlotte drew our attention to the beautiful effect of the m oonlight, w hich threw a silver hue over the terrace in front of us, beyond the beech trees. It w as a glorious sight, and w as rendered m ore striking by the darkness w hich surrounded the spot w here w e w ere. W e rem ained for som e tim e silent, w hen C harlotte observed, “W henever I w alk by m oonlight, it brings to m y rem em brance all m y beloved and departed friends, and I am filled w ith thoughts of death and futurity. W e shall live again, W erther!” she continued, w ith a firm but feeling voice; “but shall w e know one another again w hat do you think? w hat do you say?” “C harlotte,” I said, as I took her hand in m ine, and m y eyes filled w ith tears, “w e shall see each other again— here and hereafter w e shall m eet again.” I could say no m ore. W hy, W ilhelm , should she put this question to m e, just at the m om ent w hen the fear of our cruel separation filled m y heart? “A nd oh! do those departed ones know how w e are em ployed here? do they know w hen w e are w ell and happy? do they know w hen w e recall their m em ories w ith the fondest love? In the silent hour of evening the shade of m y m other hovers around m e; w hen seated in the m idst of m y children, I see them assem bled near m e, as they used to assem ble near her; and then I raise m y anxious eyes to heaven, and w ish she could look dow n upon us, and w itness how I fulfil the prom ise I m ade to her in her last m om ents, to be a m other to her children. W ith w hat em otion do I then exclaim , ‘Pardon, dearest of m others, pardon m e, if I do not adequately supply your place! A las! I do m y utm ost. They are clothed and fed; and, still better, they are loved and educated. C ould you but see, sw eet saint! the peace and harm ony that dw ells am ongst us, you w ould glorify G od w ith the w arm est feelings of gratitude, to w hom , in your last hour, you addressed such fervent prayers for our happiness.'” Thus did she express herself; but O W ilhelm ! w ho can do justice to her language? how can cold and passionless w ords convey the heavenly expressions of the spirit? A lbert interrupted her gently. “This affects you too deeply, m y dear C harlotte. I know your soul dw ells on such recollections w ith intense delight; but I im plore— ” “O A lbert!” she continued, “I am sure you do not forget the evenings w hen w e three used to sit at the little round table, w hen papa w as absent, and the little ones had retired. Y ou often had a good book w ith you, but seldom read it; the conversation of that noble being w as preferable to everything,— that beautiful, bright, gentle, and yet ever-toiling w om an. G od alone know s how I have supplicated w ith tears on m y nightly couch, that I m ight be like her.”4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 23/57 I threw m yself at her feet, and, seizing her hand, bedew ed it w ith a thousand tears. “C harlotte!” I exclaim ed, “G od’s blessing and your m other’s spirit are upon you.” “O h! that you had know n her,” she said, w ith a w arm pressure of the hand. “She w as w orthy of being know n to you.” I thought I should have fainted: never had I received praise so flattering. She continued, “A nd yet she w as doom ed to die in the flow er of her youth, w hen her youngest child w as scarcely six m onths old. H er illness w as but short, but she w as calm and resigned; and it w as only for her children, especially the youngest, that she felt unhappy. W hen her end drew nigh, she bade m e bring them to her. I obeyed. The younger ones knew nothing of their approaching loss, w hile the elder ones w ere quite overcom e w ith grief. They stood around the bed; and she raised her feeble hands to heaven, and prayed over them ; then, kissing them in turn, she dism issed them , and said to m e, ‘B e you a m other to them .’ I gave her m y hand. ‘Y ou are prom ising m uch, m y child,’ she said: ‘a m other’s fondness and a m other’s care! I have often w itnessed, by your tears of gratitude, that you know w hat is a m other’s tenderness: show it to your brothers and sisters, and be dutiful and faithful to your father as a w ife; you w ill be his com fort.’ She inquired for him . H e had retired to conceal his intolerable anguish,— he w as heartbroken, ‘A lbert, you w ere in the room .’ She heard som e one m oving: she inquired w ho it w as, and desired you to approach. She surveyed us both w ith a look of com posure and satisfaction, expressive of her conviction that w e should be happy,— happy w ith one another.” A lbert fell upon her neck, and kissed her, and exclaim ed, “W e are so, and w e shall be so!” Even A lbert, generally so tranquil, had quite lost his com posure; and I w as excited beyond expression. “A nd such a being,” She continued, “w as to leave us, W erther! G reat G od, m ust w e thus part w ith everything w e hold dear in this w orld? N obody felt this m ore acutely than the children: they cried and lam ented for a long tim e afterw ard, com plaining that m en had carried aw ay their dear m am m a.” C harlotte rose. It aroused m e; but I continued sitting, and held her hand. “Let us go,” she said: “it grow s late.” She attem pted to w ithdraw her hand: I held it still. “W e shall see each other again,” I exclaim ed: “w e shall recognise each other under every possible change! I am going,” I continued, “going w illingly; but, should I say for ever, perhaps I m ay not keep m y w ord. A dieu, C harlotte; adieu, A lbert. W e shall m eet again.” “Y es: tom orrow , I think,” she answ ered w ith a sm ile. Tom orrow ! how I felt the w ord! A h! she little thought, w hen she drew her hand aw ay from m ine. They w alked dow n the avenue. I stood gazing after them in the m oonlight. I threw m yself upon the ground, and w ept: I then sprang up, and ran out upon the terrace, and saw , under the shade of the linden-trees, her w hite dress disappearing near the garden-gate. I stretched out m y arm s, and she vanished. B O O K II. O C T O B E R 20. W e arrived here yesterday. The am bassador is indisposed, and w ill not go out for som e days. If he w ere less peevish and m orose, all w ould be w ell. I see but too plainly that H eaven has destined m e to severe trials; but courage! a light heart m ay bear anything. A light heart! I sm ile to find such a w ord proceeding from m y pen. A little m ore lightheartedness w ould render m e the happiest being under the sun. B ut m ust I despair of m y talents and faculties, w hilst others of far inferior abilities parade before m e w ith the utm ost self-satisfaction? G racious Providence, to4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 24/57 w hom I ow e all m y pow ers, w hy didst thou not w ithhold som e of those blessings I possess, and substitute in their place a feeling of self-confidence and contentm ent? B ut patience! all w ill yet be w ell; for I assure you, m y dear friend, you w ere right: since I have been obliged to associate continually w ith other people, and observe w hat they do, and how they em ploy them selves, I have becom e far better satisfied w ith m yself. For w e are so constituted by nature, that w e are ever prone to com pare ourselves w ith others; and our happiness or m isery depends very m uch on the objects and persons around us. O n this account, nothing is m ore dangerous than solitude: there our im agination, alw ays disposed to rise, taking a new flight on the w ings of fancy, pictures to us a chain of beings of w hom w e seem the m ost inferior. A ll things appear greater than they really are, and all seem superior to us. This operation of the m ind is quite natural: w e so continually feel our ow n im perfections, and fancy w e perceive in others the qualities w e do not possess, attributing to them also all that w e enjoy ourselves, that by this process w e form the idea of a perfect, happy m an,— a m an, how ever, w ho only exists in our ow n im agination. B ut w hen, in spite of w eakness and disappointm ents, w e set to w ork in earnest, and persevere steadily, w e often find, that, though obliged continually to tack, w e m ake m ore w ay than others w ho have the assistance of w ind and tide; and, in truth, there can be no greater satisfaction than to keep pace w ith others or outstrip them in the race. N ovem ber 26. I begin to find m y situation here m ore tolerable, considering all circum stances. I find a great advantage in being m uch occupied; and the num ber of persons I m eet, and their different pursuits, create a varied entertainm ent for m e. I have form ed the acquaintance of the C ount C — and I esteem him m ore and m ore every day. H e is a m an of strong understanding and great discernm ent; but, though he sees farther than other people, he is not on that account cold in his m anner, but capable of inspiring and returning the w arm est affection. H e appeared interested in m e on one occasion, w hen I had to transact som e business w ith him . H e perceived, at the first w ord, that w e understood each other, and that he could converse w ith m e in a different tone from w hat he used w ith others. I cannot sufficiently esteem his frank and open kindness to m e. It is the greatest and m ost genuine of pleasures to observe a great m ind in sym pathy w ith our ow n. D EC EM B ER 24. A s I anticipated, the am bassador occasions m e infinite annoyance. H e is the m ost punctilious blockhead under heaven. H e does everything step by step, w ith the trifling m inuteness of an old w om an; and he is a m an w hom it is im possible to please, because he is never pleased w ith him self. I like to do business regularly and cheerfully, and, w hen it is finished, to leave it. B ut he constantly returns m y papers to m e, saying, “They w ill do,” but recom m ending m e to look over them again, as “one m ay alw ays im prove by using a better w ord or a m ore appropriate particle.” I then lose all patience, and w ish m yself at the devil’s. N ot a conjunction, not an adverb, m ust be om itted: he has a deadly antipathy to all those transpositions of w hich I am so fond; and, if the m usic of our periods is not tuned to the established, official key, he cannot com prehend our m eaning. It is deplorable to be connected w ith such a fellow . M y acquaintance w ith the C ount C — is the only com pensation for such an evil. H e told m e frankly, the other day, that he w as m uch displeased w ith the difficulties and delays of the am bassador; that people like him are obstacles, both to them selves and to others. “B ut,” added he, “one m ust subm it, like a traveller w ho has to ascend a m ountain: if the m ountain w as not there, the road w ould be both shorter and pleasanter; but there it is, and he m ust get over it.” The old m an perceives the count’s partiality for m e: this annoys him , and, he seizes every opportunity to depreciate the count in m y hearing. I naturally defend him , and that only m akes m atters w orse. Y esterday he m ade m e indignant, for he also alluded to m e. “The count,” he said, “is a m an of the w orld, and a good m an of business: his style is good, and he w rites w ith facility; but, like other geniuses, he has no solid learning.” H e looked at m e w ith an expression that seem ed to ask if I felt the blow . B ut it did not produce the desired effect: I despise a m an w ho can think and act in such a m anner. H ow ever, I m ade a stand, and answ ered w ith not a little w arm th. The count, I said, w as a m an entitled to respect, alike for his character and his acquirem ents. I had never m et a person w hose m ind w as stored w ith m ore useful and extensive know ledge,— w ho had, in fact, m astered such an infinite variety of subjects, and w ho yet retained all his4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 25/57 activity for the details of ordinary business. This w as altogether beyond his com prehension; and I took m y leave, lest m y anger should be too highly excited by som e new absurdity of his. A nd you are to blam e for all this, you w ho persuaded m e to bend m y neck to this yoke by preaching a life of activity to m e. If the m an w ho plants vegetables, and carries his corn to tow n on m arket-days, is not m ore usefully em ployed than I am , then let m e w ork ten years longer at the galleys to w hich I am now chained. O h, the brilliant w retchedness, the w eariness, that one is doom ed to w itness am ong the silly people w hom w e m eet in society here! The am bition of rank! H ow they w atch, how they toil, to gain precedence! W hat poor and contem ptible passions are displayed in their utter nakedness! W e have a w om an here, for exam ple, w ho never ceases to entertain the com pany w ith accounts of her fam ily and her estates. A ny stranger w ould consider her a silly being, w hose head w as turned by her pretensions to rank and property; but she is in reality even m ore ridiculous, the daughter of a m ere m agistrate’s clerk from this neighbourhood. I cannot understand how hum an beings can so debase them selves. Every day I observe m ore and m ore the folly of judging of others by ourselves; and I have so m uch trouble w ith m yself, and m y ow n heart is in such constant agitation, that I am w ell content to let others pursue their ow n course, if they only allow m e the sam e privilege. W hat provokes m e m ost is the unhappy extent to w hich distinctions of rank are carried. I know perfectly w ell how necessary are inequalities of condition, and I am sensible of the advantages I m yself derive therefrom ; but I w ould not have these institutions prove a barrier to the sm all chance of happiness w hich I m ay enjoy on this earth. I have lately becom e acquainted w ith a M iss B — , a very agreeable girl, w ho has retained her natural m anners in the m idst of artificial life. O ur first conversation pleased us both equally; and, at taking leave, I requested perm ission to visit her. She consented in so obliging a m anner, that I w aited w ith im patience for the arrival of the happy m om ent. She is not a native of this place, but resides here w ith her aunt. The countenance of the old lady is not prepossessing. I paid her m uch attention, addressing the greater part of m y conversation to her; and, in less than half an hour, I discovered w hat her niece subsequently acknow ledged to m e, that her aged aunt, having but a sm all fortune, and a still sm aller share of understanding, enjoys no satisfaction except in the pedigree of her ancestors, no protection save in her noble birth, and no enjoym ent but in looking from her castle over the heads of the hum ble citizens. She w as, no doubt, handsom e in her youth, and in her early years probably trifled aw ay her tim e in rendering m any a poor youth the sport of her caprice: in her riper years she has subm itted to the yoke of a veteran officer, w ho, in return for her person and her sm all independence, has spent w ith her w hat w e m ay designate her age of brass. H e is dead; and she is now a w idow , and deserted. She spends her iron age alone, and w ould not be approached, except for the loveliness of her niece. JA N U A R Y 8, 1772. W hat beings are m en, w hose w hole thoughts are occupied w ith form and cerem ony, w ho for years together devote their m ental and physical exertions to the task of advancing them selves but one step, and endeavouring to occupy a higher place at the table. N ot that such persons w ould otherw ise w ant em ploym ent: on the contrary, they give them selves m uch trouble by neglecting im portant business for such petty trifles. Last w eek a question of precedence arose at a sledging- party, and all our am usem ent w as spoiled. The silly creatures cannot see that it is not place w hich constitutes real greatness, since the m an w ho occupies the first place but seldom plays the principal part. H ow m any kings are governed by their m inisters— how m any m inisters by their secretaries? W ho, in such cases, is really the chief? H e, as it seem s to m e, w ho can see through the others, and possesses strength or skill enough to m ake their pow er or passions subservient to the execution of his ow n designs. JA N U A R Y 20. I m ust w rite to you from this place, m y dear C harlotte, from a sm all room in a country inn, w here I have taken shelter from a severe storm . D uring m y w hole residence in that w retched place D — , w here I lived am ongst strangers,— strangers, indeed, to this heart,— I never at any tim e felt the sm allest inclination to correspond w ith you; but in this cottage, in this retirem ent, in this solitude, w ith the snow and hail beating against m y lattice-pane, you are m y first thought. The instant I entered, your figure rose up before m e, and the rem em brance! O m y C harlotte, the4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 26/57 sacred, tender rem em brance! G racious H eaven! restore to m e the happy m om ent of our first acquaintance. C ould you but see m e, m y dear C harlotte, in the w hirl of dissipation,— how m y senses are dried up, but m y heart is at no tim e full. I enjoy no single m om ent of happiness: all is vain— nothing touches m e. I stand, as it w ere, before the raree-show : I see the little puppets m ove, and I ask w hether it is not an optical illusion. I am am used w ith these puppets, or, rather, I am m yself one of them : but, w hen I som etim es grasp m y neighbour’s hand, I feel that it is not natural; and I w ithdraw m ine w ith a shudder. In the evening I say I w ill enjoy the next m orning’s sunrise, and yet I rem ain in bed: in the day I prom ise to ram ble by m oonlight; and I, nevertheless, rem ain at hom e. I know not w hy I rise, nor w hy I go to sleep. The leaven w hich anim ated m y existence is gone: the charm w hich cheered m e in the gloom of night, and aroused m e from m y m orning slum bers, is for ever fled. I have found but one being here to interest m e, a M iss B — . She resem bles you, m y dear C harlotte, if any one can possibly resem ble you. “A h!” you w ill say, “he has learned how to pay fine com plim ents.” A nd this is partly true. I have been very agreeable lately, as it w as not in m y pow er to be otherw ise. I have, m oreover, a deal of w it: and the ladies say that no one understands flattery better, or falsehoods you w ill add; since the one accom plishm ent invariably accom panies the other. B ut I m ust tell you of M iss B — . She has abundance of soul, w hich flashes from her deep blue eyes. H er rank is a torm ent to her, and satisfies no one desire of her heart. She w ould gladly retire from this w hirl of fashion, and w e often picture to ourselves a life of undisturbed happiness in distant scenes of rural retirem ent: and then w e speak of you, m y dear C harlotte; for she know s you, and renders hom age to your m erits; but her hom age is not exacted, but voluntary, she loves you, and delights to hear you m ade the subject of conversation. O h, that I w ere sitting at your feet in your favourite little room , w ith the dear children playing around us! If they becam e troublesom e to you, I w ould tell them som e appalling goblin story; and they w ould crow d round m e w ith silent attention. The sun is setting in glory; his last rays are shining on the snow , w hich covers the face of the country: the storm is over, and I m ust return to m y dungeon. A dieu!— Is A lbert w ith you? and w hat is he to you? G od forgive the question. FEB R U A R Y 8. For a w eek past w e have had the m ost w retched w eather: but this to m e is a blessing; for, during m y residence here, not a single fine day has beam ed from the heavens, but has been lost to m e by the intrusion of som ebody. D uring the severity of rain, sleet, frost, and storm , I congratulate m yself that it cannot be w orse indoors than abroad, nor w orse abroad than it is w ithin doors; and so I becom e reconciled. W hen the sun rises bright in the m orning, and prom ises a glorious day, I never om it to exclaim , “There, now , they have another blessing from H eaven, w hich they w ill be sure to destroy: they spoil everything,— health, fam e, happiness, am usem ent; and they do this generally through folly, ignorance, or im becility, and alw ays, according to their ow n account, w ith the best intentions!” I could often beseech them , on m y bended knees, to be less resolved upon their ow n destruction. FEB R U A R Y 17. I fear that m y am bassador and I shall not continue m uch longer together. H e is really grow ing past endurance. H e transacts his business in so ridiculous a m anner, that I am often com pelled to contradict him , and do things m y ow n w ay; and then, of course, he thinks them very ill done. H e com plained of m e lately on this account at court; and the m inister gave m e a reprim and,— a gentle one it is true, but still a reprim and. In consequence of this, I w as about to tender m y resignation, w hen I received a letter, to w hich I subm itted w ith great respect, on account of the high, noble, and generous spirit w hich dictated it. H e endeavoured to soothe m y excessive sensibility, paid a tribute to m y extrem e ideas of duty, of good exam ple, and of perseverance in business, as the fruit of m y youthful ardour, an im pulse w hich he did not seek to destroy, but only to m oderate, that it m ight have proper play and be productive of good. So now I am at rest for another w eek, and no longer at variance w ith m yself. C ontent and peace of m ind are valuable things: I could w ish, m y dear friend, that these precious jew els w ere less transitory. FEB R U A R Y 20. G od bless you, m y dear friends, and m ay he grant you that happiness w hich he denies to m e!4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 27/57 I thank you, A lbert, for having deceived m e. I w aited for the new s that your w edding-day w as fixed; and I intended on that day, w ith solem nity, to take dow n C harlotte’s profile from the w all, and to bury it w ith som e other papers I possess. Y ou are now united, and her picture still rem ains here. W ell, let it rem ain! W hy should it not? I know that I am still one of your society, that I still occupy a place uninjured in C harlotte’s heart, that I hold the second place therein; and I intend to keep it. O h, I should becom e m ad if she could forget! A lbert, that thought is hell! Farew ell, A lbert farew ell, angel of heaven farew ell, C harlotte! M A R C H 15. I have just had a sad adventure, w hich w ill drive m e aw ay from here. I lose all patience!— D eath!— It is not to be rem edied; and you alone are to blam e, for you urged and im pelled m e to fill a post for w hich I w as by no m eans suited. I have now reason to be satisfied, and so have you! B ut, that you m ay not again attribute this fatality to m y im petuous tem per, I send you, m y dear sir, a plain and sim ple narration of the affair, as a m ere chronicler of facts w ould describe it. The C ount of O — likes and distinguishes m e. It is w ell know n, and I have m entioned this to you a hundred tim es. Y esterday I dined w ith him . It is the day on w hich the nobility are accustom ed to assem ble at his house in the evening. I never once thought of the assem bly, nor that w e subalterns did not belong to such society. W ell, I dined w ith the count; and, after dinner, w e adjourned to the large hall. W e w alked up and dow n together: and I conversed w ith him , and w ith C olonel B — , w ho joined us; and in this m anner the hour for the assem bly approached. G od know s, I w as thinking of nothing, w hen w ho should enter but the honourable Lady accom panied by her noble husband and their silly, schem ing daughter, w ith her sm all w aist and flat neck; and, w ith disdainful looks and a haughty air they passed m e by. A s I heartily detest the w hole race, I determ ined upon going aw ay; and only w aited till the count had disengaged him self from their im pertinent prattle, to take leave, w hen the agreeable M iss B — cam e in. A s I never m eet her w ithout experiencing a heartfelt pleasure, I stayed and talked to her, leaning over the back of her chair, and did not perceive, till after som e tim e, that she seem ed a little confused, and ceased to answ er m e w ith her usual ease of m anner. I w as struck w ith it. “H eavens!” I said to m yself, “can she, too, be like the rest?” I felt annoyed, and w as about to w ithdraw ; but I rem ained, notw ithstanding, form ing excuses for her conduct, fancying she did not m ean it, and still hoping to receive som e friendly recognition. The rest of the com pany now arrived. There w as the B aron F— , in an entire suit that dated from the coronation of Francis I.; the C hancellor N — , w ith his deaf w ife; the shabbily-dressed I— , w hose old-fashioned coat bore evidence of m odern repairs: this crow ned the w hole. I conversed w ith som e of m y acquaintances, but they answ ered m e laconically. I w as engaged in observing M iss B — , and did not notice that the w om en w ere w hispering at the end of the room , that the m urm ur extended by degrees to the m en, that M adam e S— addressed the count w ith m uch w arm th (this w as all related to m e subsequently by M iss B — ); till at length the count cam e up to m e, and took m e to the w indow . “Y ou know our ridiculous custom s,” he said. “I perceive the com pany is rather displeased at your being here. I w ould not on any account— ” “I beg your excellency’s pardon!” I exclaim ed. “I ought to have thought of this before, but I know you w ill forgive this little inattention. I w as going,” I added, “som e tim e ago, but m y evil genius detained m e.” A nd I sm iled and bow ed, to take m y leave. H e shook m e by the hand, in a m anner w hich expressed everything. I hastened at once from the illustrious assem bly, sprang into a carriage, and drove to M — . I contem plated the setting sun from the top of the hill, and read that beautiful passage in H om er, w here U lysses is entertained by the hospitable herdsm en. This w as indeed delightful. I returned hom e to supper in the evening. B ut few persons w ere assem bled in the room . They had turned up a corner of the table-cloth, and w ere playing at dice. The good-natured A — cam e in. H e laid dow n his hat w hen he saw m e, approached m e, and said in a low tone, “Y ou have m et w ith a disagreeable adventure.” “I!” I exclaim ed. “The count obliged you to w ithdraw from the assem bly!” “D euce take the assem bly!” said I. “I w as very glad to be gone.” “I am delighted,” he added, “that you take it so lightly. I am only sorry that it is already so m uch spoken of.” The circum stance then began to pain m e. I fancied that every one w ho sat dow n, and even looked at m e, w as thinking of this incident; and m y heart becam e em bittered. A nd now I could plunge a dagger into m y bosom , w hen I hear m yself everyw here pitied, and observe the trium ph of m y enem ies, w ho say that this is alw ays the case w ith vain persons, w hose heads are turned w ith conceit, w ho affect to despise form s and such petty, idle nonsense.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 28/57 Say w hat you w ill of fortitude, but show m e the m an w ho can patiently endure the laughter of fools, w hen they have obtained an advantage over him . ‘Tis only w hen their nonsense is w ithout foundation that one can suffer it w ithout com plaint. M arch 16. Everything conspires against m e. I m et M iss B — w alking to-day. I could not help joining her; and, w hen w e w ere at a little distance from her com panions, I expressed m y sense of her altered m anner tow ard m e. “O W erther!” she said, in a tone of em otion, “you, w ho know m y heart, how could you so ill interpret m y distress? W hat did I not suffer for you, from the m om ent you entered the room ! I foresaw it all, a hundred tim es w as I on the point of m entioning it to you. I knew that the S— — s and T— — s, w ith their husbands, w ould quit the room , rather than rem ain in your com pany. I knew that the count w ould not break w ith them : and now so m uch is said about it.” “H ow !” I exclaim ed, and endeavoured to conceal m y em otion; for all that A delin had m entioned to m e yesterday recurred to m e painfully at that m om ent. “O h, how m uch it has already cost m e!” said this am iable girl, w hile her eyes filled w ith tears. I could scarcely contain m yself, and w as ready to throw m yself at her feet. “Explain yourself!” I cried. Tears flow ed dow n her cheeks. I becam e quite frantic. She w iped them aw ay, w ithout attem pting to conceal them . “Y ou know m y aunt,” she continued; “she w as present: and in w hat light does she consider the affair! Last night, and this m orning, W erther, I w as com pelled to listen to a lecture upon m y acquaintance w ith you. I have been obliged to hear you condem ned and depreciated; and I could not— I dared not— say m uch in your defence.” Every w ord she uttered w as a dagger to m y heart. She did not feel w hat a m ercy it w ould have been to conceal everything from m e. She told m e, in addition, all the im pertinence that w ould be further circulated, and how the m alicious w ould trium ph; how they w ould rejoice over the punishm ent of m y pride, over m y hum iliation for that w ant of esteem for others w ith w hich I had often been reproached. To hear all this, W ilhelm , uttered by her in a voice of the m ost sincere sym pathy, aw akened all m y passions; and I am still in a state of extrem e excitem ent. I w ish I could find a m an to jeer m e about this event. I w ould sacrifice him to m y resentm ent. The sight of his blood m ight possibly be a relief to m y fury. A hundred tim es have I seized a dagger, to give ease to this oppressed heart. N aturalists tell of a noble race of horses that instinctively open a vein w ith their teeth, w hen heated and exhausted by a long course, in order to breathe m ore freely. I am often tem pted to open a vein, to procure for m yself everlasting liberty. M A R C H 24. I have tendered m y resignation to the court. I hope it w ill be accepted, and you w ill forgive m e for not having previously consulted you. It is necessary I should leave this place. I know all you w ill urge m e to stay, and therefore I beg you w ill soften this new s to m y m other. I am unable to do anything for m yself: how , then, should I be com petent to assist others? It w ill afflict her that I should have interrupted that career w hich w ould have m ade m e first a privy councillor, and then m inister, and that I should look behind m e, in place of advancing. A rgue as you w ill, com bine all the reasons w hich should have induced m e to rem ain, I am going: that is sufficient. B ut, that you m ay not be ignorant of m y destination, I m ay m ention that the Prince of— is here. H e is m uch pleased w ith m y com pany; and, having heard of m y intention to resign, he has invited m e to his country house, to pass the spring m onths w ith him . I shall be left com pletely m y ow n m aster; and, as w e agree on all subjects but one, I shall try m y fortune, and accom pany him . A PR IL 19. Thanks for both your letters. I delayed m y reply, and w ithheld this letter, till I should obtain an answ er from the court. I feared m y m other m ight apply to the m inister to defeat m y purpose. B ut m y request is granted, m y resignation is accepted. I shall not recount w ith w hat reluctance it w as accorded, nor relate w hat the m inister has w ritten: you w ould only renew your lam entations. The crow n prince has sent m e a present of five and tw enty ducats; and, indeed, such goodness has affected m e to tears. For this reason I shall not require from m y m other the m oney for w hich I lately applied. M A Y 5. I leave this place to-m orrow ; and, as m y native place is only six m iles from the high road, I intend to visit it once m ore, and recall the happy dream s of m y childhood. I shall enter at the sam e gate through w hich I cam e w ith m y m other, w hen, after m y father’s death, she left that4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 29/57 delightful retreat to im m ure herself in your m elancholy tow n. A dieu, m y dear friend: you shall hear of m y future career. M A Y 9. I have paid m y visit to m y native place w ith all the devotion of a pilgrim , and have experienced m any unexpected em otions. N ear the great elm tree, w hich is a quarter of a league from the village, I got out of the carriage, and sent it on before, that alone, and on foot, I m ight enjoy vividly and heartily all the pleasure of m y recollections. I stood there under that sam e elm w hich w as form erly the term and object of m y w alks. H ow things have since changed! Then, in happy ignorance, I sighed for a w orld I did not know , w here I hoped to find every pleasure and enjoym ent w hich m y heart could desire; and now , on m y return from that w ide w orld, O m y friend, how m any disappointed hopes and unsuccessful plans have I brought back! A s I contem plated the m ountains w hich lay stretched out before m e, I thought how often they had been the object of m y dearest desires. H ere used I to sit for hours together w ith m y eyes bent upon them , ardently longing to w ander in the shade of those w oods, to lose m yself in those valleys, w hich form so delightful an object in the distance. W ith w hat reluctance did I leave this charm ing spot; w hen m y hour of recreation w as over, and m y leave of absence expired! I drew near to the village: all the w ell-know n old sum m erhouses and gardens w ere recognised again; I disliked the new ones, and all other alterations w hich had taken place. I entered the village, and all m y form er feelings returned. I cannot, m y dear friend, enter into details, charm ing as w ere m y sensations: they w ould be dull in the narration. I had intended to lodge in the m arket-place, near our old house. A s soon as I entered, I perceived that the schoolroom , w here our childhood had been taught by that good old w om an, w as converted into a shop. I called to m ind the sorrow , the heaviness, the tears, and oppression of heart, w hich I experienced in that confinem ent. Every step produced som e particular im pression. A pilgrim in the H oly Land does not m eet so m any spots pregnant w ith tender recollections, and his soul is hardly m oved w ith greater devotion. O ne incident w ill serve for illustration. I follow ed the course of a stream to a farm , form erly a delightful w alk of m ine, and paused at the spot, w here, w hen boys, w e used to am use ourselves m aking ducks and drakes upon the w ater. I recollected so w ell how I used form erly to w atch the course of that sam e stream , follow ing it w ith inquiring eagerness, form ing rom antic ideas of the countries it w as to pass through; but m y im agination w as soon exhausted: w hile the w ater continued flow ing farther and farther on, till m y fancy becam e bew ildered by the contem plation of an invisible distance. Exactly such, m y dear friend, so happy and so confined, w ere the thoughts of our good ancestors. Their feelings and their poetry w ere fresh as childhood. A nd, w hen U lysses talks of the im m easurable sea and boundless earth, his epithets are true, natural, deeply felt, and m ysterious. O f w hat im portance is it that I have learned, w ith every schoolboy, that the w orld is round? M an needs but little earth for enjoym ent, and still less for his final repose. I am at present w ith the prince at his hunting lodge. H e is a m an w ith w hom one can live happily. H e is honest and unaffected. There are, how ever, som e strange characters about him , w hom I cannot at all understand. They do not seem vicious, and yet they do not carry the appearance of thoroughly honest m en. Som etim es I am disposed to believe them honest, and yet I cannot persuade m yself to confide in them . It grieves m e to hear the prince occasionally talk of things w hich he has only read or heard of, and alw ays w ith the sam e view in w hich they have been represented by others. H e values m y understanding and talents m ore highly than m y heart, but I am proud of the latter only. It is the sole source of everything of our strength, happiness, and m isery. A ll the know ledge I possess every one else can acquire, but m y heart is exclusively m y ow n. M A Y 25. I have had a plan in m y head of w hich I did not intend to speak to you until it w as accom plished: now that it has failed, I m ay as w ell m ention it. I w ished to enter the arm y, and had long been desirous of taking the step. This, indeed, w as the chief reason for m y com ing here w ith the prince, as he is a general in the service. I com m unicated m y design to him during one of our w alks together. H e disapproved of it, and it w ould have been actual m adness not to have listened to his reasons. JU N E 11.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 30/57 Say w hat you w ill, I can rem ain here no longer. W hy should I rem ain? Tim e hangs heavy upon m y hands. The prince is as gracious to m e as any one could be, and yet I am not at m y ease. There is, indeed, nothing in com m on betw een us. H e is a m an of understanding, but quite of the ordinary kind. H is conversation affords m e no m ore am usem ent than I should derive from the perusal of a w ell-w ritten book. I shall rem ain here a w eek longer, and then start again on m y travels. M y draw ings are the best things I have done since I cam e here. The prince has a taste for the arts, and w ould im prove if his m ind w ere not fettered by cold rules and m ere technical ideas. I often lose patience, w hen, w ith a glow ing im agination, I am giving expression to art and nature, he interferes w ith learned suggestions, and uses at random the technical phraseology of artists. JU LY 16. O nce m ore I am a w anderer, a pilgrim , through the w orld. B ut w hat else are you! JU LY 18. W hither am I going? I w ill tell you in confidence. I am obliged to continue a fortnight longer here, and then I think it w ould be better for m e to visit the m ines in— . B ut I am only deluding m yself thus. The fact is, I w ish to be near C harlotte again, that is all. I sm ile at the suggestions of m y heart, and obey its dictates. JU LY 29. N o, no! it is yet w ell all is w ell! I her husband! O G od, w ho gave m e being, if thou hadst destined this happiness for m e, m y w hole life w ould have been one continual thanksgiving! B ut I w ill not m urm ur— forgive these tears, forgive these fruitless w ishes. She— m y w ife! O h, the very thought of folding that dearest of H eaven’s creatures in m y arm s! D ear W ilhelm , m y w hole fram e feels convulsed w hen I see A lbert put his arm s around her slender w aist! A nd shall I avow it? W hy should I not, W ilhelm ? She w ould have been happier w ith m e than w ith him . A lbert is not the m an to satisfy the w ishes of such a heart. H e w ants a certain sensibility; he w ants— in short, their hearts do not beat in unison. H ow often, m y dear friend, I’m reading a passage from som e interesting book, w hen m y heart and C harlotte’s seem ed to m eet, and in a hundred other instances w hen our sentim ents w ere unfolded by the story of som e fictitious character, have I felt that w e w ere m ade for each other! B ut, dear W ilhelm , he loves her w ith his w hole soul; and w hat does not such a love deserve? I have been interrupted by an insufferable visit. I have dried m y tears, and com posed m y thoughts. A dieu, m y best friend! A U G U ST 4. I am not alone unfortunate. A ll m en are disappointed in their hopes, and deceived in their expectations. I have paid a visit to m y good old w om an under the lim e-trees. The eldest boy ran out to m eet m e: his exclam ation of joy brought out his m other, but she had a very m elancholy look. H er first w ord w as, “A las! dear sir, m y little John is dead.” H e w as the youngest of her children. I w as silent. “A nd m y husband has returned from Sw itzerland w ithout any m oney; and, if som e kind people had not assisted him , he m ust have begged his w ay hom e. H e w as taken ill w ith fever on his journey.” I could answ er nothing, but m ade the little one a present. She invited m e to take som e fruit: I com plied, and left the place w ith a sorrow ful heart. A U G U ST 21. M y sensations are constantly changing. Som etim es a happy prospect opens before m e; but alas! it is only for a m om ent; and then, w hen I am lost in reverie, I cannot help saying to m yself, “If A lbert w ere to die?— Y es, she w ould becom e— and I should be”— and so I pursue a chim era, till it leads m e to the edge of a precipice at w hich I shudder. W hen I pass through the sam e gate, and w alk along the sam e road w hich first conducted m e to C harlotte, m y heart sinks w ithin m e at the change that has since taken place. A ll, all, is altered! N o sentim ent, no pulsation of m y heart, is the sam e. M y sensations are such as w ould occur to som e departed prince w hose spirit should return to visit the superb palace w hich he had built in happy tim es, adorned w ith costly m agnificence, and left to a beloved son, but w hose glory he should find departed, and its halls deserted and in ruins. SEPTEM B ER 3. I som etim es cannot understand how she can love another, how she dares love another, w hen I4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 31/57 love nothing in this w orld so com pletely, so devotedly, as I love her, w hen I know only her, and have no other possession. SEPTEM B ER 4. It is even so! A s nature puts on her autum n tints it becom es autum n w ith m e and around m e. M y leaves are sere and yellow , and the neighbouring trees are divested of their foliage. D o you rem em ber m y w riting to you about a peasant boy shortly after m y arrival here? I have just m ade inquiries about him in W alheim . They say he has been dism issed from his service, and is now avoided by every one. I m et him yesterday on the road, going to a neighbouring village. I spoke to him , and he told m e his story. It interested m e exceedingly, as you w ill easily understand w hen I repeat it to you. B ut w hy should I trouble you? W hy should I not reserve all m y sorrow for m yself? W hy should I continue to give you occasion to pity and blam e m e? B ut no m atter: this also is part of m y destiny. A t first the peasant lad answ ered m y inquiries w ith a sort of subdued m elancholy, w hich seem ed to m e the m ark of a tim id disposition; but, as w e grew to understand each other, he spoke w ith less reserve, and openly confessed his faults, and lam ented his m isfortune. I w ish, m y dear friend, I could give proper expression to his language. H e told m e w ith a sort of pleasurable recollection, that, after m y departure, his passion for his m istress increased daily, until at last he neither knew w hat he did nor w hat he said, nor w hat w as to becom e of him . H e could neither eat nor drink nor sleep: he felt a sense of suffocation; he disobeyed all orders, and forgot all com m ands involuntarily; he seem ed as if pursued by an evil spirit, till one day, know ing that his m istress had gone to an upper cham ber, he had follow ed, or, rather, been draw n after her. A s she proved deaf to his entreaties, he had recourse to violence. H e know s not w hat happened; but he called G od to w itness that his intentions to her w ere honourable, and that he desired nothing m ore sincerely than that they should m arry, and pass their lives together. W hen he had com e to this point, he began to hesitate, as if there w as som ething w hich he had not courage to utter, till at length he acknow ledged w ith som e confusion certain little confidences she had encouraged, and liberties she had allow ed. H e broke off tw o or three tim es in his narration, and assured m e m ost earnestly that he had no w ish to m ake her bad, as he term ed it, for he loved her still as sincerely as ever; that the tale had never before escaped his lips, and w as only now told to convince m e that he w as not utterly lost and abandoned. A nd here, m y dear friend, I m ust com m ence the old song w hich you know I utter eternally. If I could only represent the m an as he stood, and stands now before m e, could I only give his true expressions, you w ould feel com pelled to sym pathise in his fate. B ut enough: you, w ho know m y m isfortune and m y disposition, can easily com prehend the attraction w hich draw s m e tow ard every unfortunate being, but particularly tow ard him w hose story I have recounted. O n perusing this letter a second tim e, I find I have om itted the conclusion of m y tale; but it is easily supplied. She becam e reserved tow ard him , at the instigation of her brother w ho had long hated him , and desired his expulsion from the house, fearing that his sister’s second m arriage m ight deprive his children of the handsom e fortune they expected from her; as she is childless. H e w as dism issed at length; and the w hole affair occasioned so m uch scandal, that the m istress dared not take him back, even if she had w ished it. She has since hired another servant, w ith w hom , they say, her brother is equally displeased, and w hom she is likely to m arry; but m y inform ant assures m e that he him self is determ ined not to survive such a catastrophe. This story is neither exaggerated nor em bellished: indeed, I have w eakened and im paired it in the narration, by the necessity of using the m ore refined expressions of society. This love, then, this constancy, this passion, is no poetical fiction. It is actual, and dw ells in its greatest purity am ongst that class of m ankind w hom w e term rude, uneducated. W e are the educated, not the perverted. B ut read this story w ith attention, I im plore you. I am tranquil to-day, for I have been em ployed upon this narration: you see by m y w riting that I am not so agitated as usual. I read and re-read this tale, W ilhelm : it is the history of your friend! M y fortune has been and w ill be sim ilar; and I am neither half so brave nor half so determ ined as the poor w retch w ith w hom I hesitate to com pare m yself. SEPTEM B ER 5. C harlotte had w ritten a letter to her husband in the country, w here he w as detained by business. It com m enced, “M y dearest love, return as soon as possible: I aw ait you w ith a4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 32/57 thousand raptures.” A friend w ho arrived, brought w ord, that, for certain reasons, he could not return im m ediately. C harlotte’s letter w as not forw arded, and the sam e evening it fell into m y hands. I read it, and sm iled. She asked the reason. “W hat a heavenly treasure is im agination:” I exclaim ed; “I fancied for a m om ent that this w as w ritten to m e.” She paused, and seem ed displeased. I w as silent. SEPTEM B ER 6. It cost m e m uch to part w ith the blue coat w hich I w ore the first tim e I danced w ith C harlotte. B ut I could not possibly w ear it any longer. B ut I have ordered a new one, precisely sim ilar, even to the collar and sleeves, as w ell as a new w aistcoat and pantaloons. B ut it does not produce the sam e effect upon m e. I know not how it is, but I hope in tim e I shall like it better. SEPTEM B ER 12. She has been absent for som e days. She w ent to m eet A lbert. To-day I visited her: she rose to receive m e, and I kissed her hand m ost tenderly. A canary at the m om ent flew from a m irror, and settled upon her shoulder. “H ere is a new friend,” she observed, w hile she m ade him perch upon her hand: “he is a present for the children. W hat a dear he is! Look at him ! W hen I feed him , he flutters w ith his w ings, and pecks so nicely. H e kisses m e, too, only look!” She held the bird to her m outh; and he pressed her sw eet lips w ith so m uch fervour that he seem ed to feel the excess of bliss w hich he enjoyed. “H e shall kiss you too,” she added; and then she held the bird tow ard m e. H is little beak m oved from her m outh to m ine, and the delightful sensation seem ed like the forerunner of the sw eetest bliss. “A kiss,” I observed, “does not seem to satisfy him : he w ishes for food, and seem s disappointed by these unsatisfactory endearm ents.” “B ut he eats out of m y m outh,” she continued, and extended her lips to him containing seed; and she sm iled w ith all the charm of a being w ho has allow ed an innocent participation of her love. I turned m y face aw ay. She should not act thus. She ought not to excite m y im agination w ith such displays of heavenly innocence and happiness, nor aw aken m y heart from its slum bers, in w hich it dream s of the w orthlessness of life! A nd w hy not? B ecause she know s how m uch I love her. SEPTEM B ER 15. It m akes m e w retched, W ilhelm , to think that there should be m en incapable of appreciating the few things w hich possess a real value in life. Y ou rem em ber the w alnut trees at S— , under w hich I used to sit w ith C harlotte, during m y visits to the w orthy old vicar. Those glorious trees, the very sight of w hich has so often filled m y heart w ith joy, how they adorned and refreshed the parsonage yard, w ith their w ide-extended branches! and how pleasing w as our rem em brance of the good old pastor, by w hose hands they w ere planted so m any years ago: The schoolm aster has frequently m entioned his nam e. H e had it from his grandfather. H e m ust have been a m ost excellent m an; and, under the shade of those old trees, his m em ory w as ever venerated by m e. The schoolm aster inform ed us yesterday, w ith tears in his eyes, that those trees had been felled. Y es, cut to the ground! I could, in m y w rath, have slain the m onster w ho struck the first stroke. A nd I m ust endure this!— I, w ho, if I had had tw o such trees in m y ow n court, and one had died from old age, should have w ept w ith real affliction. B ut there is som e com fort left, such a thing is sentim ent, the w hole village m urm urs at the m isfortune; and I hope the vicar’s w ife w ill soon find, by the cessation of the villagers’ presents, how m uch she has w ounded the feelings of the neighborhhood. It w as she w ho did it, the w ife of the present incum bent (our good old m an is dead), a tall, sickly creature w ho is so far right to disregard the w orld, as the w orld totally disregards her. The silly being affects to be learned, pretends to exam ine the canonical books, lends her aid tow ard the new -fashioned reform ation of C hristendom , m oral and critical, and shrugs up her shoulders at the m ention of Lavater’s enthusiasm . H er health is destroyed, on account of w hich she is prevented from having any enjoym ent here below . O nly such a creature could have cut dow n m y w alnut trees! I can never pardon it. H ear her reasons. The falling leaves4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 33/57 m ade the court w et and dirty; the branches obstructed the light; boys threw stones at the nuts w hen they w ere ripe, and the noise affected her nerves; and disturbed her profound m editations, w hen she w as w eighing the difficulties of K ennicot, Sem ler, and M ichaelis. Finding that all the parish, particularly the old people, w ere displeased, I asked “w hy they allow ed it?” “A h, sir!” they replied, “w hen the stew ard orders, w hat can w e poor peasants do?” B ut one thing has happened w ell. The stew ard and the vicar (w ho, for once, thought to reap som e advantage from the caprices of his w ife) intended to divide the trees betw een them . The revenue-office, being inform ed of it, revived an old claim to the ground w here the trees had stood, and sold them to the best bidder. There they still lie on the ground. If I w ere the sovereign, I should know how to deal w ith them all, vicar, stew ard, and revenue-office. Sovereign, did I say? I should, in that case, care little about the trees that grew in the country. O C TO B ER 10. O nly to gaze upon her dark eyes is to m e a source of happiness! A nd w hat grieves m e, is, that A lbert does not seem so happy as he— hoped to be— as I should have been— if— I am no friend to these pauses, but here I cannot express it otherw ise; and probably I am explicit enough. O C TO B ER 12. O ssian has superseded H om er in m y heart. To w hat a w orld does the illustrious bard carry m e! To w ander over pathless w ilds, surrounded by im petuous w hirlw inds, w here, by the feeble light of the m oon, w e see the spirits of our ancestors; to hear from the m ountain-tops, m id the roar of torrents, their plaintive sounds issuing from deep caverns, and the sorrow ful lam entations of a m aiden w ho sighs and expires on the m ossy tom b of the w arrior by w hom she w as adored. I m eet this bard w ith silver hair; he w anders in the valley; he seeks the footsteps of his fathers, and, alas! he finds only their tom bs. Then, contem plating the pale m oon, as she sinks beneath the w aves of the rolling sea, the m em ory of bygone days strikes the m ind of the hero, days w hen approaching danger invigorated the brave, and the m oon shone upon his bark laden w ith spoils, and returning in trium ph. W hen I read in his countenance deep sorrow , w hen I see his dying glory sink exhausted into the grave, as he inhales new and heart-thrilling delight from his approaching union w ith his beloved, and he casts a look on the cold earth and the tall grass w hich is so soon to cover him , and then exclaim s, “The traveller w ill com e,— he w ill com e w ho has seen m y beauty, and he w ill ask, ‘W here is the bard, w here is the illustrious son of Fingal?’ H e w ill w alk over m y tom b, and w ill seek m e in vain!” Then, O m y friend, I could instantly, like a true and noble knight, draw m y sw ord, and deliver m y prince from the long and painful languor of a living death, and dism iss m y ow n soul to follow the dem igod w hom m y hand had set free! O C TO B ER 19. A las! the void the fearful void, w hich I feel in m y bosom ! Som etim es I think, if I could only once but once, press her to m y heart, this dreadful void w ould be filled. O C TO B ER 26. Y es, I feel certain, W ilhelm , and every day I becom e m ore certain, that the existence of any being w hatever is of very little consequence. A friend of C harlotte’s called to see her just now . I w ithdrew into a neighbouring apartm ent, and took up a book; but, finding I could not read, I sat dow n to w rite. I heard them converse in an undertone: they spoke upon indifferent topics, and retailed the new s of the tow n. O ne w as going to be m arried; another w as ill, very ill, she had a dry cough, her face w as grow ing thinner daily, and she had occasional fits. “N — is very unw ell too,” said C harlotte. “H is lim bs begin to sw ell already,” answ ered the other; and m y lively im agination carried m e at once to the beds of the infirm . There I see them struggling against death, w ith all the agonies of pain and horror; and these w om en, W ilhelm , talk of all this w ith as m uch indifference as one w ould m ention the death of a stranger. A nd w hen I look around the apartm ent w here I now am — w hen I see C harlotte’s apparel lying before m e, and A lbert’s w ritings, and all those articles of furniture w hich are so fam iliar to m e, even to the very inkstand w hich I am using,— w hen I think w hat I am to this fam ily— everything. M y friends esteem m e; I often contribute to their happiness, and m y heart seem s as if it could not beat w ithout them ; and yet— -if I w ere to die, if I w ere to be sum m oned from the m idst of this circle, w ould they feel— or how long w ould they feel the void w hich m y loss w ould m ake in their existence? H ow long! Y es, such is the frailty of m an, that even there, w here he has the greatest consciousness of his ow n being, w here he m akes the strongest and m ost forcible im pression, even in the m em ory, in the4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 34/57 heart, of his beloved, there also he m ust perish,— vanish,— and that quickly. O C TO B ER 27. I could tear open m y bosom w ith vexation to think how little w e are capable of influencing the feelings of each other. N o one can com m unicate to m e those sensations of love, joy, rapture, and delight w hich I do not naturally possess; and, though m y heart m ay glow w ith the m ost lively affection, I cannot m ake the happiness of one in w hom the sam e w arm th is not inherent. O C TO B ER 27: Evening. I possess so m uch, but m y love for her absorbs it all. I possess so m uch, but w ithout her I have nothing. O C TO B ER 30. O ne hundred tim es have I been on the point of em bracing her. H eavens! w hat a torm ent it is to see so m uch loveliness passing and repassing before us, and yet not dare to lay hold of it! A nd laying hold is the m ost natural of hum an instincts. D o not children touch everything they see? A nd I! N O V EM B ER 3. W itness, H eaven, how often I lie dow n in m y bed w ith a w ish, and even a hope, that I m ay never aw aken again. A nd in the m orning, w hen I open m y eyes, I behold the sun once m ore, and am w retched. If I w ere w him sical, I m ight blam e the w eather, or an acquaintance, or som e personal disappointm ent, for m y discontented m ind; and then this insupportable load of trouble w ould not rest entirely upon m yself. B ut, alas! I feel it too sadly. I am alone the cause of m y ow n w oe, am I not? Truly, m y ow n bosom contains the source of all m y sorrow , as it previously contained the source of all m y pleasure. A m I not the sam e being w ho once enjoyed an excess of happiness, w ho, at every step, saw paradise open before him , and w hose heart w as ever expanded tow ard the w hole w orld? A nd this heart is now dead, no sentim ent can revive it; m y eyes are dry; and m y senses, no m ore refreshed by the influence of soft tears, w ither and consum e m y brain. I suffer m uch, for I have lost the only charm of life: that active, sacred pow er w hich created w orlds around m e,— it is no m ore. W hen I look from m y w indow at the distant hills, and behold the m orning sun breaking through the m ists, and illum inating the country around, w hich is still w rapped in silence, w hilst the soft stream w inds gently through the w illow s, w hich have shed their leaves; w hen glorious nature displays all her beauties before m e, and her w ondrous prospects are ineffectual to extract one tear of joy from m y w ithered heart, I feel that in such a m om ent I stand like a reprobate before heaven, hardened, insensible, and unm oved. O ftentim es do I then bend m y knee to the earth, and im plore G od for the blessing of tears, as the desponding labourer in som e scorching clim ate prays for the dew s of heaven to m oisten his parched corn. B ut I feel that G od does not grant sunshine or rain to our im portunate entreaties. A nd oh, those bygone days, w hose m em ory now torm ents m e! w hy w ere they so fortunate? B ecause I then w aited w ith patience for the blessings of the Eternal, and received his gifts w ith the grateful feelings of a thankful heart. N O V EM B ER 8. C harlotte has reproved m e for m y excesses, w ith so m uch tenderness and goodness! I have lately been in the habit of drinking m ore w ine than heretofore. “D on’t do it,” she said. “Think of C harlotte!” “Think of you!” I answ ered; “need you bid m e do so? Think of you— I do not think of you: you are ever before m y soul! This very m orning I sat on the spot w here, a few days ago, you descended from the carriage, and— ” She im m ediately changed the subject to prevent m e from pursuing it farther. M y dear friend, m y energies are all prostrated: she can do w ith m e w hat she pleases. N O V EM B ER 15. I thank you, W ilhelm , for your cordial sym pathy, for your excellent advice; and I im plore you to be quiet. Leave m e to m y sufferings. In spite of m y w retchedness, I have still strength enough for endurance. I revere religion— you know I do. I feel that it can im part strength to the feeble and com fort to the afflicted, but does it affect all m en equally? C onsider this vast universe: you w ill see thousands for w hom it has never existed, thousands for w hom it w ill never exist, w hether it be preached to them , or not; and m ust it, then, necessarily exist for m e? D oes not the Son of G od him self say that they are his w hom the Father has given to him ? H ave I been given to him ?4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 35/57 W hat if the Father w ill retain m e for him self, as m y heart som etim es suggests? I pray you, do not m isinterpret this. D o not extract derision from m y harm less w ords. I pour out m y w hole soul before you. Silence w ere otherw ise preferable to m e, but I need not shrink from a subject of w hich few know m ore than I do m yself. W hat is the destiny of m an, but to fill up the m easure of his sufferings, and to drink his allotted cup of bitterness? A nd if that sam e cup proved bitter to the G od of heaven, under a hum an form , w hy should I affect a foolish pride, and call it sw eet? W hy should I be asham ed of shrinking at that fearful m om ent, w hen m y w hole being w ill trem ble betw een existence and annihilation, w hen a rem em brance of the past, like a flash of lightning, w ill illum inate the dark gulf of futurity, w hen everything shall dissolve around m e, and the w hole w orld vanish aw ay? Is not this the voice of a creature oppressed beyond all resource, self- deficient, about to plunge into inevitable destruction, and groaning deeply at its inadequate strength, “M y G od! m y G od! w hy hast thou forsaken m e?” A nd should I feel asham ed to utter the sam e expression? Should I not shudder at a prospect w hich had its fears, even for him w ho folds up the heavens like a garm ent? N O V EM B ER 21. She does not feel, she does not know , that she is preparing a poison w hich w ill destroy us both; and I drink deeply of the draught w hich is to prove m y destruction. W hat m ean those looks of kindness w ith w hich she often— often? no, not often, but som etim es, regards m e, that com placency w ith w hich she hears the involuntary sentim ents w hich frequently escape m e, and the tender pity for m y sufferings w hich appears in her countenance? Y esterday, w hen I took leave she seized m e by the hand, and said, “A dieu, dear W erther.” D ear W erther! It w as the first tim e she ever called m e dear: the sound sunk deep into m y heart. I have repeated it a hundred tim es; and last night, on going to bed, and talking to m yself of various things, I suddenly said, “G ood night, dear W erther!” and then could not but laugh at m yself. N O V EM B ER 22 I cannot pray, “Leave her to m e!” and yet she often seem s to belong to m e. I cannot pray, “G ive her to m e!” for she is another’s. In this w ay I affect m irth over m y troubles; and, if I had tim e, I could com pose a w hole litany of antitheses. N O V EM B ER 24. She is sensible of m y sufferings. This m orning her look pierced m y very soul. I found her alone, and she w as silent: she steadfastly surveyed m e. I no longer saw in her face the charm s of beauty or the fire of genius: these had disappeared. B ut I w as affected by an expression m uch m ore touching, a look of the deepest sym pathy and of the softest pity. W hy w as I afraid to throw m yself at her feet? W hy did I not dare to take her in m y arm s, and answ er her by a thousand kisses? She had recourse to her piano for relief, and in a low and sw eet voice accom panied the m usic w ith delicious sounds. H er lips never appeared so lovely: they seem ed but just to open, that they m ight im bibe the sw eet tones w hich issued from the instrum ent, and return the heavenly vibration from her lovely m outh. O h! w ho can express m y sensations? I w as quite overcom e, and, bending dow n, pronounced this vow : “B eautiful lips, w hich the angels guard, never w ill I seek to profane your purity w ith a kiss.” A nd yet, m y friend, oh, I w ish— but m y heart is darkened by doubt and indecision— could I but taste felicity, and then die to expiate the sin! W hat sin? N O V EM B ER 26. O ftentim es I say to m yself, “Thou alone art w retched: all other m ortals are happy, none are distressed like thee!” Then I read a passage in an ancient poet, and I seem to understand m y ow n heart. I have so m uch to endure! H ave m en before m e ever been so w retched? N O V EM B ER 30. I shall never be m yself again! W herever I go, som e fatality occurs to distract m e. Even to-day alas— for our destiny! alas for hum an nature! A bout dinner-tim e I w ent to w alk by the river-side, for I had no appetite. Everything around seem ed gloom y: a cold and dam p easterly w ind blew from the m ountains, and black, heavy clouds spread over the plain. I observed at a distance a m an in a tattered coat: he w as w andering am ong the rocks, and seem ed to be looking for plants. W hen I approached, he turned round at the noise; and I saw that he had an interesting countenance in w hich a settled m elancholy, strongly4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 36/57 m arked by benevolence, form ed the principal feature. H is long black hair w as divided, and flow ed over his shoulders. A s his garb betokened a person of the low er order, I thought he w ould not take it ill if I inquired about his business; and I therefore asked w hat he w as seeking. H e replied, w ith a deep sigh, that he w as looking for flow ers, and could find none. “B ut it is not the season,” I observed, w ith a sm ile. “O h, there are so m any flow ers!” he answ ered, as he cam e nearer to m e. “In m y garden there are roses and honeysuckles of tw o sorts: one sort w as given to m e by m y father! they grow as plentifully as w eeds; I have been looking for them these tw o days, and cannot find them . There are flow ers out there, yellow , blue, and red; and that centaury has a very pretty blossom : but I can find none of them .” I observed his peculiarity, and therefore asked him , w ith an air of indifference, w hat he intended to do w ith his flow ers. A strange sm ile overspread his countenance. H olding his finger to his m outh, he expressed a hope that I w ould not betray him ; and he then inform ed m e that he had prom ised to gather a nosegay for his m istress. “That is right,” said I. “O h!” he replied, “she possesses m any other things as w ell: she is very rich.” “A nd yet,” I continued, “she likes your nosegays.” “O h, she has jew els and crow ns!” he exclaim ed. I asked w ho she w as. “If the states-general w ould but pay m e,” he added, “I should be quite another m an. A las! there w as a tim e w hen I w as so happy; but that is past, and I am now — ” H e raised his sw im m ing eyes to heaven. “A nd you w ere happy once?” I observed. “A h, w ould I w ere so still!” w as his reply. “I w as then as gay and contented as a m an can be.” A n old w om an, w ho w as com ing tow ard us, now called out, “H enry, H enry! w here are you? W e have been looking for you everyw here: com e to dinner.” “Is he your son?” I inquired, as I w ent tow ard her. “Y es,” she said: “he is m y poor, unfortunate son. The Lord has sent m e a heavy affliction.” I asked w hether he had been long in this state. She answ ered, “H e has been as calm as he is at present for about six m onths. I thank H eaven that he has so far recovered: he w as for one w hole year quite raving, and chained dow n in a m adhouse. N ow he injures no one, but talks of nothing else than kings and queens. H e used to be a very good, quiet youth, and helped to m aintain m e; he w rote a very fine hand; but all at once he becam e m elancholy, w as seized w ith a violent fever, grew distracted, and is now as you see. If I w ere only to tell you, sir— ” I interrupted her by asking w hat period it w as in w hich he boasted of having been so happy. “Poor boy!” she exclaim ed, w ith a sm ile of com passion, “he m eans the tim e w hen he w as com pletely deranged, a tim e he never ceases to regret, w hen he w as in the m adhouse, and unconscious of everything.” I w as thunderstruck: I placed a piece of m oney in her hand, and hastened aw ay. “Y ou w ere happy!” I exclaim ed, as I returned quickly to the tow n, “‘as gay and contented as a m an can be!'” G od of heaven! and is this the destiny of m an? Is he only happy before he has acquired his reason, or after he has lost it? U nfortunate being! A nd yet I envy your fate: I envy the delusion to w hich you are a victim . Y ou go forth w ith joy to gather flow ers for your princess, — in w inter,— and grieve w hen you can find none, and cannot understand w hy they do not grow . B ut I w ander forth w ithout joy, w ithout hope, w ithout design; and I return as I cam e. Y ou fancy w hat a m an you w ould be if the states general paid you. H appy m ortal, w ho can ascribe your w retchedness to an earthly cause! Y ou do not know , you do not feel, that in your ow n distracted heart and disordered brain dw ells the source of that unhappiness w hich all the potentates on earth cannot relieve. Let that m an die unconsoled w ho can deride the invalid for undertaking a journey to distant, healthful springs, w here he often finds only a heavier disease and a m ore painful death, or w ho can exult over the despairing m ind of a sinner, w ho, to obtain peace of conscience and an alleviation of m isery, m akes a pilgrim age to the H oly Sepulchre. Each laborious step w hich galls his w ounded feet in rough and untrodden paths pours a drop of balm into his troubled soul, and the journey of m any a w eary day brings a nightly relief to his anguished heart. W ill you dare call this enthusiasm , ye crow d of pom pous declaim ers? Enthusiasm ! O G od! thou seest m y tears. Thou hast allotted us our portion of m isery: m ust w e also have brethren to persecute us, to deprive us of our consolation, of our trust in thee, and in thy love and m ercy? For our trust in the virtue of the healing root, or in the strength of the vine, w hat is it else than a belief in thee from w hom all that surrounds us derives its healing and restoring pow ers? Father, w hom I know not,— w ho w ert once w ont to fill m y soul, but w ho now hidest thy face from m e,— call m e back to thee; be silent no longer; thy silence shall not delay a soul w hich thirsts after thee. W hat m an, w hat father, could be angry w ith a son for returning to him suddenly, for falling on his neck, and exclaim ing, “I am here again, m y father! forgive m e if I have anticipated m y journey, and returned before the appointed tim e! The w orld is everyw here the sam e,— a scene of labour and4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 37/57 pain, of pleasure and rew ard; but w hat does it all avail? I am happy only w here thou art, and in thy presence am I content to suffer or enjoy.” A nd w ouldst thou, heavenly Father, banish such a child from thy presence? D EC EM B ER 1. W ilhelm , the m an about w hom I w rote to you— that m an so enviable in his m isfortunes— w as secretary to C harlotte’s father; and an unhappy passion for her w hich he cherished, concealed, and at length discovered, caused him to be dism issed from his situation. This m ade him m ad. Think, w hilst you peruse this plain narration, w hat an im pression the circum stance has m ade upon m e! B ut it w as related to m e by A lbert w ith as m uch calm ness as you w ill probably peruse it. D EC EM B ER 4. I im plore your attention. It is all over w ith m e. I can support this state no longer. To-day I w as sitting by C harlotte. She w as playing upon her piano a succession of delightful m elodies, w ith such intense expression! H er little sister w as dressing her doll upon m y lap. The tears cam e into m y eyes. I leaned dow n, and looked intently at her w edding-ring: m y tears fell— im m ediately she began to play that favourite, that divine, air w hich has so often enchanted m e. I felt com fort from a recollection of the past, of those bygone days w hen that air w as fam iliar to m e; and then I recalled all the sorrow s and the disappointm ents w hich I had since endured. I paced w ith hasty strides through the room , m y heart becam e convulsed w ith painful em otions. A t length I w ent up to her, and exclaim ed W ith eagerness, “For H eaven’s sake, play that air no longer!” She stopped, and looked steadfastly at m e. She then said, w ith a sm ile w hich sunk deep into m y heart, “W erther, you are ill: your dearest food is distasteful to you. B ut go, I entreat you, and endeavour to com pose yourself.” I tore m yself aw ay. G od, thou seest m y torm ents, and w ilt end them ! D EC EM B ER 6. H ow her im age haunts m e! W aking or asleep, she fills m y entire soul! Soon as I close m y eyes, here, in m y brain, w here all the nerves of vision are concentrated, her dark eyes are im printed. H ere— I do not know how to describe it; but, if I shut m y eyes, hers are im m ediately before m e: dark as an abyss they open upon m e, and absorb m y senses. A nd w hat is m an— that boasted dem igod? D o not his pow ers fail w hen he m ost requires their use? A nd w hether he soar in joy, or sink in sorrow , is not his career in both inevitably arrested? A nd, w hilst he fondly dream s that he is grasping at infinity, does he not feel com pelled to return to a consciousness of his cold, m onotonous existence? TH E ED ITO R TO TH E R EA D ER . It is a m atter of extrem e regret that w e w ant original evidence of the last rem arkable days of our friend; and w e are, therefore, obliged to interrupt the progress of his correspondence, and to supply the deficiency by a connected narration. I have felt it m y duty to collect accurate inform ation from the m ouths of persons w ell acquainted w ith his history. The story is sim ple; and all the accounts agree, except in som e unim portant particulars. It is true, that, w ith respect to the characters of the persons spoken of, opinions and judgm ents vary. W e have only, then, to relate conscientiously the facts w hich our diligent labour has enabled us to collect, to give the letters of the deceased, and to pay particular attention to the slightest fragm ent from his pen, m ore especially as it is so difficult to discover the real and correct m otives of m en w ho are not of the com m on order. Sorrow and discontent had taken deep root in W erther’s soul, and gradually im parted their character to his w hole being. The harm ony of his m ind becam e com pletely disturbed; a perpetual excitem ent and m ental irritation, w hich w eakened his natural pow ers, produced the saddest effects upon him , and rendered him at length the victim of an exhaustion against w hich he struggled w ith still m ore painful efforts than he had displayed, even in contending w ith his other m isfortunes. H is m ental anxiety w eakened his various good qualities; and he w as soon converted into a gloom y com panion, alw ays unhappy and unjust in his ideas, the m ore w retched he becam e. This w as, at least, the opinion of A lbert’s friends. They assert, m oreover, that the character of A lbert him self had undergone no change in the m eantim e: he w as still the sam e being w hom W erther had loved, honoured, and respected from the com m encem ent. H is love for C harlotte w as4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 38/57 unbounded: he w as proud of her, and desired that she should be recognised by every one as the noblest of created beings. W as he, how ever, to blam e for w ishing to avert from her every appearance of suspicion? or for his unw illingness to share his rich prize w ith another, even for a m om ent, and in the m ost innocent m anner? It is asserted that A lbert frequently retired from his w ife’s apartm ent during W erther’s visits; but this did not arise from hatred or aversion to his friend, but only from a feeling that his presence w as oppressive to W erther. C harlotte’s father, w ho w as confined to the house by indisposition, w as accustom ed to send his carriage for her, that she m ight m ake excursions in the neighbourhood. O ne day the w eather had been unusually severe, and the w hole country w as covered w ith snow . W erther w ent for C harlotte the follow ing m orning, in order that, if A lbert w ere absent, he m ight conduct her hom e. The beautiful w eather produced but little im pression on his troubled spirit. A heavy w eight lay upon his soul, deep m elancholy had taken possession of him , and his m ind knew no change save from one painful thought to another. A s he now never enjoyed internal peace, the condition of his fellow creatures w as to him a perpetual source of trouble and distress. H e believed he had disturbed the happiness of A lbert and his w ife; and, w hilst he censured him self strongly for this, he began to entertain a secret dislike to A lbert. H is thoughts w ere occasionally directed to this point. “Y es,” he w ould repeat to him self, w ith ill-concealed dissatisfaction, “yes, this is, after all, the extent of that confiding, dear, tender, and sym pathetic love, that calm and eternal fidelity! W hat do I behold but satiety and indifference? D oes not every frivolous engagem ent attract him m ore than his charm ing and lovely w ife? D oes he know how to prize his happiness? C an he value her as she deserves? H e possesses her, it is true, I know that, as I know m uch m ore, and I have becom e accustom ed to the thought that he w ill drive m e m ad, or, perhaps, m urder m e. Is his friendship tow ard m e unim paired? D oes he not view m y attachm ent to C harlotte as an infringem ent upon his rights, and consider m y attention to her as a silent rebuke to him self? I know , and indeed feel, that he dislikes m e, that he w ishes for m y absence, that m y presence is hateful to him .” H e w ould often pause w hen on his w ay to visit C harlotte, stand still, as though in doubt, and seem desirous of returning, but w ould nevertheless proceed; and, engaged in such thoughts and soliloquies as w e have described, he finally reached the hunting-lodge, w ith a sort of involuntary consent. U pon one occasion he entered the house; and, inquiring for C harlotte, he observed that the inm ates w ere in a state of unusual confusion. The eldest boy inform ed him that a dreadful m isfortune had occurred at W alheim ,— that a peasant had been m urdered! B ut this m ade little im pression upon him . Entering the apartm ent, he found C harlotte engaged reasoning w ith her father, w ho, in spite of his infirm ity, insisted on going to the scene of the crim e, in order to institute an inquiry. The crim inal w as unknow n; the victim had been found dead at his ow n door that m orning. Suspicions w ere excited: the m urdered m an had been in the service of a w idow , and the person w ho had previously filled the situation had been dism issed from her em ploym ent. A s soon as W erther heard this, he exclaim ed w ith great excitem ent, “Is it possible! I m ust go to the spot— I cannot delay a m om ent!” H e hastened to W alheim . Every incident returned vividly to his rem em brance; and he entertained not the slightest doubt that that m an w as the m urderer to w hom he had so often spoken, and for w hom he entertained so m uch regard. H is w ay took him past the w ell-know n lim e trees, to the house w here the body had been carried; and his feelings w ere greatly excited at the sight of the fondly recollected spot. That threshold w here the neighbours’ children had so often played together w as stained w ith blood; love and attachm ent, the noblest feelings of hum an nature, had been converted into violence and m urder. The huge trees stood there leafless and covered w ith hoarfrost; the beautiful hedgerow s w hich surrounded the old churchyard w all w ere w ithered; and the gravestones, half covered w ith snow , w ere visible through the openings. A s he approached the inn, in front of w hich the w hole village w as assem bled, scream s w ere suddenly heard. A troop of arm ed peasants w as seen approaching, and every one exclaim ed that the crim inal had been apprehended. W erther looked, and w as not long in doubt. The prisoner w as no other than the servant, w ho had been form erly so attached to the w idow , and w hom he had4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 39/57 m et prow ling about, w ith that suppressed anger and ill-concealed despair, w hich w e have before described. “W hat have you done, unfortunate m an?” inquired W erther, as he advanced tow ard the prisoner. The latter turned his eyes upon him in silence, and then replied w ith perfect com posure; “N o one w ill now m arry her, and she w ill m arry no one.” The prisoner w as taken into the inn, and W erther left the place. The m ind of W erther w as fearfully excited by this shocking occurrence. H e ceased, how ever, to be oppressed by his usual feeling of m elancholy, m oroseness, and indifference to everything that passed around him . H e entertained a strong degree of pity for the prisoner, and w as seized w ith an indescribable anxiety to save him from his im pending fate. H e considered him so unfortunate, he deem ed his crim e so excusable, and thought his ow n condition so nearly sim ilar, that he felt convinced he could m ake every one else view the m atter in the light in w hich he saw it him self. H e now becam e anxious to undertake his defence, and com m enced com posing an eloquent speech for the occasion; and, on his w ay to the hunting-lodge, he could not refrain from speaking aloud the statem ent w hich he resolved to m ake to the judge. U pon his arrival, he found A lbert had been before him : and he w as a little perplexed by this m eeting; but he soon recovered him self, and expressed his opinion w ith m uch w arm th to the judge. The latter shook, his head doubtingly; and although W erther urged his case w ith the utm ost zeal, feeling, and determ ination in defence of his client, yet, as w e m ay easily suppose, the judge w as not m uch influenced by his appeal. O n the contrary, he interrupted him in his address, reasoned w ith him seriously, and even adm inistered a rebuke to him for becom ing the advocate of a m urderer. H e dem onstrated, that, according to this precedent, every law m ight be violated, and the public security utterly destroyed. H e added, m oreover, that in such a case he could him self do nothing, w ithout incurring the greatest responsibility; that everything m ust follow in the usual course, and pursue the ordinary channel. W erther, how ever, did not abandon his enterprise, and even besought the judge to connive at the flight of the prisoner. B ut this proposal w as perem ptorily rejected. A lbert, w ho had taken som e part in the discussion, coincided in opinion w ith the judge. A t this W erther becam e enraged, and took his leave in great anger, after the judge had m ore than once assured him that the prisoner could not be saved. The excess of his grief at this assurance m ay be inferred from a note w e have found am ongst his papers, and w hich w as doubtless w ritten upon this very occasion. “Y ou cannot be saved, unfortunate m an! I see clearly that w e cannot be saved!” W erther w as highly incensed at the observations w hich A lbert had m ade to the judge in this m atter of the prisoner. H e thought he could detect therein a little bitterness tow ard him self personally; and although, upon reflection, it could not escape his sound judgm ent that their view of the m atter w as correct, he felt the greatest possible reluctance to m ake such an adm ission. A m em orandum of W erther’s upon this point, expressive of his general feelings tow ard A lbert, has been found am ongst his papers. “W hat is the use of m y continually repeating that he is a good and estim able m an? H e is an inw ard torm ent to m e, and I am incapable of being just tow ard him .” O ne fine evening in w inter, w hen the w eather seem ed inclined to thaw , C harlotte and A lbert w ere returning hom e together. The form er looked from tim e to tim e about her, as if she m issed W erther’s com pany. A lbert began to speak of him , and censured him for his prejudices. H e alluded to his unfortunate attachm ent, and w ished it w ere possible to discontinue his acquaintance. “I desire it on our ow n account,” he added; “and I request you w ill com pel him to alter his deportm ent tow ard you, and to visit you less frequently. The w orld is censorious, and I know that here and there w e are spoken of.” C harlotte m ade no reply, and A lbert seem ed to feel her silence. A t least, from that tim e he never again spoke of W erther; and, w hen she introduced the subject, he allow ed the conversation to die aw ay, or else he directed the discourse into another channel. The vain attem pt W erther had m ade to save the unhappy m urderer w as the last feeble glim m ering of a flam e about to be extinguished. H e sank alm ost im m ediately afterw ard into a state of gloom and inactivity, until he w as at length brought to perfect distraction by learning that he w as to be sum m oned as a w itness against the prisoner, w ho asserted his com plete innocence.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 40/57 H is m ind now becam e oppressed by the recollection of every m isfortune of his past life. The m ortification he had suffered at the am bassador’s, and his subsequent troubles, w ere revived in his m em ory. H e becam e utterly inactive. D estitute of energy, he w as cut off from every pursuit and occupation w hich com pose the business of com m on life; and he becam e a victim to his ow n susceptibility, and to his restless passion for the m ost am iable and beloved of w om en, w hose peace he destroyed. In this unvarying m onotony of existence his days w ere consum ed; and his pow ers becam e exhausted w ithout aim or design, until they brought him to a sorrow ful end. A few letters w hich he left behind, and w hich w e here subjoin, afford the best proofs of his anxiety of m ind and of the depth of his passion, as w ell as of his doubts and struggles, and of his w eariness of life. D EC EM B ER 12. D ear W ilhelm , I am reduced to the condition of those unfortunate w retches w ho believe they are pursued by an evil spirit. Som etim es I am oppressed, not by apprehension or fear, but by an inexpressible internal sensation, w hich w eighs upon m y heart, and im pedes m y breath! Then I w ander forth at night, even in this tem pestuous season, and feel pleasure in surveying the dreadful scenes around m e. Y esterday evening I w ent forth. A rapid thaw had suddenly set in: I had been inform ed that the river had risen, that the brooks had all overflow ed their banks, and that the w hole vale of W alheim w as under w ater! U pon the stroke of tw elve I hastened forth. I beheld a fearful sight. The foam ing torrents rolled from the m ountains in the m oonlight,— fields and m eadow s, trees and hedges, w ere confounded together; and the entire valley w as converted into a deep lake, w hich w as agitated by the roaring w ind! A nd w hen the m oon shone forth, and tinged the black clouds w ith silver, and the im petuous torrent at m y feet foam ed and resounded w ith aw ful and grand im petuosity, I w as overcom e by a m ingled sensation of apprehension and delight. W ith extended arm s I looked dow n into the yaw ning abyss, and cried, “Plunge!'” For a m om ent m y senses forsook m e, in the intense delight of ending m y sorrow s and m y sufferings by a plunge into that gulf! A nd then I felt as if I w ere rooted to the earth, and incapable of seeking an end to m y w oes! B ut m y hour is not yet com e: I feel it is not. O W ilhelm , how w illingly could I abandon m y existence to ride the w hirlw ind, or to em brace the torrent! and then m ight not rapture perchance be the portion of this liberated soul? I turned m y sorrow ful eyes tow ard a favourite spot, w here I w as accustom ed to sit w ith C harlotte beneath a w illow after a fatiguing w alk. A las! it w as covered w ith w ater, and w ith difficulty I found even the m eadow . A nd the fields around the hunting-lodge, thought I. H as our dear bow er been destroyed by this unpitying storm ? A nd a beam of past happiness stream ed upon m e, as the m ind of a captive is illum ined by dream s of flocks and herds and bygone joys of hom e! B ut I am free from blam e. I have courage to die! Perhaps I have,— but I still sit here, like a w retched pauper, w ho collects fagots, and begs her bread from door to door, that she m ay prolong for a few days a m iserable existence w hich she is unw illing to resign. D EC EM B ER 15. W hat is the m atter w ith m e, dear W ilhelm ? I am afraid of m yself! Is not m y love for her of the purest, m ost holy, and m ost brotherly nature? H as m y soul ever been sullied by a single sensual desire? but I w ill m ake no protestations. A nd now , ye nightly visions, how truly have those m ortals understood you, w ho ascribe your various contradictory effects to som e invincible pow er! This night I trem ble at the avow al— I held her in m y arm s, locked in a close em brace: I pressed her to m y bosom , and covered w ith countless kisses those dear lips w hich m urm ured in reply soft protestations of love. M y sight becam e confused by the delicious intoxication of her eyes. H eavens! is it sinful to revel again in such happiness, to recall once m ore those rapturous m om ents w ith intense delight? C harlotte! C harlotte! I am lost! M y senses are bew ildered, m y recollection is confused, m ine eyes are bathed in tears— I am ill; and yet I am w ell— I w ish for nothing— I have no desires— it w ere better I w ere gone. U nder the circum stances narrated above, a determ ination to quit this w orld had now taken fixed possession of W erther’s soul. Since C harlotte’s return, this thought had been the final object of all his hopes and w ishes; but he had resolved that such a step should not be taken w ith precipitation, but w ith calm ness and tranquillity, and w ith the m ost perfect deliberation. H is troubles and internal struggles m ay be understood from the follow ing fragm ent, w hich w as4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 41/57 found, w ithout any date, am ongst his papers, and appears to have form ed the beginning of a letter to W ilhelm . “H er presence, her fate, her sym pathy for m e, have pow er still to extract tears from m y w ithered brain. “O ne lifts up the curtain, and passes to the other side,— that is all! A nd w hy all these doubts and delays? B ecause w e know not w hat is behind— because there is no returning— and because our m ind infers that all is darkness and confusion, w here w e have nothing but uncertainty.” H is appearance at length becam e quite altered by the effect of his m elancholy thoughts; and his resolution w as now finally and irrevocably taken, of w hich the follow ing am biguous letter, w hich he addressed to his friend, m ay appear to afford som e proof. D EC EM B ER 20. I am grateful to your love, W ilhelm , for having repeated your advice so seasonably. Y es, you are right: it is undoubtedly better that I should depart. B ut I do not entirely approve your schem e of returning at once to your neighbourhood; at least, I should like to m ake a little excursion on the w ay, particularly as w e m ay now expect a continued frost, and consequently good roads. I am m uch pleased w ith your intention of com ing to fetch m e; only delay your journey for a fortnight, and w ait for another letter from m e. O ne should gather nothing before it is ripe, and a fortnight sooner or later m akes a great difference. Entreat m y m other to pray for her son, and tell her I beg her pardon for all the unhappiness I have occasioned her. It has ever been m y fate to give pain to those w hose happiness I should have prom oted. A dieu, m y dearest friend. M ay every blessing of H eaven attend you! Farew ell. W e find it difficult to express the em otions w ith w hich C harlotte’s soul w as agitated during the w hole of this tim e, w hether in relation to her husband or to her unfortunate friend; although w e are enabled, by our know ledge of her character, to understand their nature. It is certain that she had form ed a determ ination, by every m eans in her pow er to keep W erther at a distance; and, if she hesitated in her decision, it w as from a sincere feeling of friendly pity, know ing how m uch it w ould cost him , indeed, that he w ould find it alm ost im possible to com ply w ith her w ishes. B ut various causes now urged her to be firm . H er husband preserved a strict silence about the w hole m atter; and she never m ade it a subject of conversation, feeling bound to prove to him by her conduct that her sentim ents agreed w ith his. The sam e day, w hich w as the Sunday before C hristm as, after W erther had w ritten the last- m entioned letter to his friend, he cam e in the evening to C harlotte’s house, and found her alone. She w as busy preparing som e little gifts for her brothers and sisters, w hich w ere to be distributed to them on C hristm as D ay. H e began talking of the delight of the children, and of that age w hen the sudden appearance of the C hristm as-tree, decorated w ith fruit and sw eetm eats, and lighted up w ith w ax candles, causes such transports of joy. “Y ou shall have a gift too, if you behave w ell,” said C harlotte, hiding her em barrassm ent under sw eet sm ile. “A nd w hat do you call behaving w ell? W hat should I do, w hat can I do, m y dear C harlotte?” said he. “Thursday night,” she answ ered, “is C hristm as Eve. The children are all to be here, and m y father too: there is a present for each; do you com e likew ise, but do not com e before that tim e.” W erther started. “I desire you w ill not: it m ust be so,” she continued. “I ask it of you as a favour, for m y ow n peace and tranquillity. W e cannot go on in this m anner any longer.” H e turned aw ay his face w alked hastily up and dow n the room , m uttering indistinctly, “W e cannot go on in this m anner any longer!” C harlotte, seeing the violent agitation into w hich these w ords had throw n him , endeavoured to divert his thoughts by different questions, but in vain. “N o, C harlotte!” he exclaim ed; “I w ill never see you any m ore!” “A nd w hy so?” she answ ered. “W e m ay— w e m ust see each other again; only let it be w ith m ore discretion. O h! w hy w ere you born w ith that excessive, that ungovernable passion for everything that is dear to you?” Then, taking his hand, she said, “I entreat of you to be m ore calm : your talents, your understanding, your genius, w ill furnish you w ith a thousand resources. B e a m an, and conquer an unhappy attachm ent tow ard a creature w ho can do nothing but pity you.” H e bit his lips, and looked at her w ith a gloom y countenance. She continued to hold his hand. “G rant m e but a m om ent’s patience, W erther,” she said. “D o you not see that you are deceiving yourself, that you are seeking your ow n destruction? W hy m ust you love m e, m e only, w ho belong to another? I fear, I m uch fear, that it is only the im possibility of possessing m e w hich m akes your desire for m e so strong.” H e drew back his hand, w hilst he4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 42/57 surveyed her w ith a w ild and angry look. “‘Tis w ell!” he exclaim ed, “’tis very w ell! D id not A lbert furnish you w ith this reflection? It is profound, a very profound rem ark.” “A reflection that any one m ight easily m ake,” she answ ered; “and is there not a w om an in the w hole w orld w ho is at liberty, and has the pow er to m ake you happy? C onquer yourself: look for such a being, and believe m e w hen I say that you w ill certainly find her. I have long felt for you, and for us all: you have confined yourself too long w ithin the lim its of too narrow a circle. C onquer yourself; m ake an effort: a short journey w ill be of service to you. Seek and find an object w orthy of your love; then return hither, and let us enjoy together all the happiness of the m ost perfect friendship.” “This speech,” replied W erther w ith a cold sm ile, “this speech should be printed, for the benefit of all teachers. M y dear C harlotte, allow m e but a short tim e longer, and all w ill be w ell.” “B ut how ever, W erther,” she added, “do not com e again before C hristm as.” H e w as about to m ake som e answ er, w hen A lbert cam e in. They saluted each other coldly, and w ith m utual em barrassm ent paced up and dow n the room . W erther m ade som e com m on rem arks; A lbert did the sam e, and their conversation soon dropped. A lbert asked his w ife about som e household m atters; and, finding that his com m issions w ere not executed, he used som e expressions w hich, to W erther’s ear, savoured of extrem e harshness. H e w ished to go, but had not pow er to m ove; and in this situation he rem ained till eight o’clock, his uneasiness and discontent continually increasing. A t length the cloth w as laid for supper, and he took up his hat and stick. A lbert invited him to rem ain; but W erther, fancying that he w as m erely paying a form al com plim ent, thanked him coldly, and left the house. W erther returned hom e, took the candle from his servant, and retired to his room alone. H e talked for som e tim e w ith great earnestness to him self, w ept aloud, w alked in a state of great excitem ent through his cham ber; till at length, w ithout undressing, he threw him self on the bed, w here he w as found by his servant at eleven o’clock, w hen the latter ventured to enter the room , and take off his boots. W erther did not prevent him , but forbade him to com e in the m orning till he should ring. O n M onday m orning, the 21st of D ecem ber, he w rote to C harlotte the follow ing letter, w hich w as found, sealed, on his bureau after his death, and w as given to her. I shall insert it in fragm ents; as it appears, from several circum stances, to have been w ritten in that m anner. “It is all over, C harlotte: I am resolved to die! I m ake this declaration deliberately and coolly, w ithout any rom antic passion, on this m orning of the day w hen I am to see you for the last tim e. A t the m om ent you read these lines, O best of w om en, the cold grave w ill hold the inanim ate rem ains of that restless and unhappy being w ho, in the last m om ents of his existence, knew no pleasure so great as that of conversing w ith you! I have passed a dreadful night or rather, let m e say, a propitious one; for it has given m e resolution, it has fixed m y purpose. I am resolved to die. W hen I tore m yself from you yesterday, m y senses w ere in tum ult and disorder; m y heart w as oppressed, hope and pleasure had fled from m e for ever, and a petrifying cold had seized m y w retched being. I could scarcely reach m y room . I threw m yself on m y knees; and H eaven, for the last tim e, granted m e the consolation of shedding tears. A thousand ideas, a thousand schem es, arose w ithin m y soul; till at length one last, fixed, final thought took possession of m y heart. It w as to die. I lay dow n to rest; and in the m orning, in the quiet hour of aw akening, the sam e determ ination w as upon m e. To die! It is not despair: it is conviction that I have filled up the m easure of m y sufferings, that I have reached m y appointed term , and m ust sacrifice m yself for thee. Y es, C harlotte, w hy should I not avow it? O ne of us three m ust die: it shall be W erther. O beloved C harlotte! this heart, excited by rage and fury, has often conceived the horrid idea of m urdering your husband— you— m yself! The lot is cast at length. A nd in the bright, quiet evenings of sum m er, w hen you som etim es w ander tow ard the m ountains, let your thoughts then turn to m e: recollect how often you have w atched m e com ing to m eet you from the valley; then bend your eyes upon the churchyard w hich contains m y grave, and, by the light of the setting sun, m ark how the evening breeze w aves the tall grass w hich grow s above m y tom b. I w as calm w hen I began this letter, but the recollection of these scenes m akes m e w eep like a child.” A bout ten in the m orning, W erther called his servant, and, w hilst he w as dressing, told him that in a few days he intended to set out upon a journey, and bade him therefore lay his clothes in order, and prepare them for packing up, call in all his accounts, fetch hom e the books he had lent, and give tw o m onths’ pay to the poor dependants w ho w ere accustom ed to receive from him a4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 43/57 w eekly allow ance. H e breakfasted in his room , and then m ounted his horse, and w ent to visit the stew ard, w ho, how ever, w as not at hom e. H e w alked pensively in the garden, and seem ed anxious to renew all the ideas that w ere m ost painful to him . The children did not suffer him to rem ain alone long. They follow ed him , skipping and dancing before him , and told him , that after to-m orrow and tom orrow and one day m ore, they w ere to receive their C hristm as gift from C harlotte; and they then recounted all the w onders of w hich they had form ed ideas in their child im aginations. “Tom orrow and tom orrow ,” said he, “and one day m ore!” A nd he kissed them tenderly. H e w as going; but the younger boy stopped him , to w hisper som ething in his ear. H e told him that his elder brothers had w ritten splendid N ew -Y ear’s w ishes so large! one for papa, and another for A lbert and C harlotte, and one for W erther; and they w ere to be presented early in the m orning, on N ew Y ear’s D ay. This quite overcam e him . H e m ade each of the children a present, m ounted his horse, left his com plim ents for papa and m am m a, and, w ith tears in his eyes, rode aw ay from the place. H e returned hom e about five o’clock, ordered his servant to keep up his fire, desired him to pack his books and linen at the bottom of the trunk, and to place his coats at the top. H e then appears to have m ade the follow ing addition to the letter addressed to C harlotte: “Y ou do not expect m e. Y ou think I w ill obey you, and not visit you again till C hristm as Eve. O C harlotte, today or never! O n C hristm as Eve you w ill hold this paper in your hand; you w ill trem ble, and m oisten it w ith your tears. I w ill— I m ust! O h, how happy I feel to be determ ined!” In the m eantim e, C harlotte w as in a pitiable state of m ind. A fter her last conversation w ith W erther, she found how painful to herself it w ould be to decline his visits, and knew how severely he w ould suffer from their separation. She had, in conversation w ith A lbert, m entioned casually that W erther w ould not return before C hristm as Eve; and soon afterw ard A lbert w ent on horseback to see a person in the neighbourhood, w ith w hom he had to transact som e business w hich w ould detain him all night. C harlotte w as sitting alone. N one of her fam ily w ere near, and she gave herself up to the reflections that silently took possession of her m ind. She w as for ever united to a husband w hose love and fidelity she had proved, to w hom she w as heartily devoted, and w ho seem ed to be a special gift from H eaven to ensure her happiness. O n the other hand, W erther had becom e dear to her. There w as a cordial unanim ity of sentim ent betw een them from the very first hour of their acquaintance, and their long association and repeated interview s had m ade an indelible im pression upon her heart. She had been accustom ed to com m unicate to him every thought and feeling w hich interested her, and his absence threatened to open a void in her existence w hich it m ight be im possible to fill. H ow heartily she w ished that she m ight change him into her brother, — that she could induce him to m arry one of her ow n friends, or could reestablish his intim acy w ith A lbert. She passed all her intim ate friends in review before her m ind, but found som ething objectionable in each, and could decide upon none to w hom she w ould consent to give him . A m id all these considerations she felt deeply but indistinctly that her ow n real but unexpressed w ish w as to retain him for herself, and her pure and am iable heart felt from this thought a sense of oppression w hich seem ed to forbid a prospect of happiness. She w as w retched: a dark cloud obscured her m ental vision. It w as now half-past six o’clock, and she heard W erther’s step on the stairs. She at once recognised his voice, as he inquired if she w ere at hom e. H er heart beat audibly— w e could alm ost say for the first tim e— at his arrival. It w as too late to deny herself; and, as he entered, she exclaim ed, w ith a sort of ill concealed confusion, “Y ou have not kept your w ord!” “I prom ised nothing,” he answ ered. “B ut you should have com plied, at least for m y sake,” she continued. “I im plore you, for both our sakes.” She scarcely knew w hat she said or did; and sent for som e friends, w ho, by their presence, m ight prevent her being left alone w ith W erther. H e put dow n som e books he had brought w ith him , then m ade inquiries about som e others, until she began to hope that her friends m ight arrive shortly, entertaining at the sam e tim e a desire that they m ight stay aw ay. A t one m om ent she felt anxious that the servant should rem ain in the adjoining room , then she4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 44/57 changed her m ind. W erther, m eanw hile, w alked im patiently up and dow n. She w ent to the piano, and determ ined not to retire. She then collected her thoughts, and sat dow n quietly at W erther’s side, w ho had taken his usual place on the sofa. “H ave you brought nothing to read?” she inquired. H e had nothing. “There in m y draw er,” she continued, “you w ill find your ow n translation of som e of the songs of O ssian. I have not yet read them , as I have still hoped to hear you recite them ; but, for som e tim e past, I have not been able to accom plish such a w ish.” H e sm iled, and w ent for the m anuscript, w hich he took w ith a shudder. H e sat dow n; and, w ith eyes full of tears, he began to read. “Star of descending night! fair is thy light in the w est! thou liftest thy unshorn head from thy cloud; thy steps are stately on thy hill. W hat dost thou behold in the plain? The storm y w inds are laid. The m urm ur of the torrent com es from afar. R oaring w aves clim b the distant rock. The flies of evening are on their feeble w ings: the hum of their course is on the field. W hat dost thou behold, fair light? B ut thou dost sm ile and depart. The w aves com e w ith joy around thee: they bathe thy lovely hair. Farew ell, thou silent beam ! Let the light of O ssian’s soul arise! “A nd it does arise in its strength! I behold m y departed friends. Their gathering is on Lora, as in the days of other years. Fingal com es like a w atery colum n of m ist! his heroes are around: and see the bards of song, gray-haired U llin! stately R yno! A lpin w ith the tuneful voice: the soft com plaint of M inona! H ow are ye changed, m y friends, since the days of Selm a’s feast! w hen w e contended, like gales of spring as they fly along the hill, and bend by turns the feebly w histling grass. “M inona cam e forth in her beauty, w ith dow ncast look and tearful eye. H er hair w as flying slow ly w ith the blast that rushed unfrequent from the hill. The souls of the heroes w ere sad w hen she raised the tuneful voice. O ft had they seen the grave of Salgar, the dark dw elling of w hite- bosom ed C olm a. C olm a left alone on the hill w ith all her voice of song! Salgar prom ised to com e! but the night descended around. H ear the voice of C olm a, w hen she sat alone on the hill! “C olm a. It is night: I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storm s. The w ind is heard on the m ountain. The torrent is how ling dow n the rock. N o hut receives m e from the rain: forlorn on the hill of w inds! “R ise m oon! from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night, arise! Lead m e, som e light, to the place w here m y love rests from the chase alone! H is bow near him unstrung, his dogs panting around him ! B ut here I m ust sit alone by the rock of the m ossy stream . The stream and the w ind roar aloud. I hear not the voice of m y love! W hy delays m y Salgar; w hy the chief of the hill his prom ise? H ere is the rock and here the tree! here is the roaring stream ! Thou didst prom ise w ith night to be here. A h! w hither is m y Salgar gone? W ith thee I w ould fly from m y father, w ith thee from m y brother of pride. O ur race have long been foes: w e are not foes, O Salgar! “C ease a little w hile, O w ind! stream , be thou silent aw hile! let m y voice be heard around! let m y w anderer hear m e! Salgar! it is C olm a w ho calls. H ere is the tree and the rock. Salgar, m y love, I am here! W hy delayest thou thy com ing? Lo! the calm m oon com es forth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are gray on the steep. I see him not on the brow . H is dogs com e not before him w ith tidings of his near approach. H ere I m ust sit alone! “W ho lie on the heath beside m e? A re they m y love and m y brother? Speak to m e, O m y friends! To C olm a they give no reply. Speak to m e: I am alone! M y soul is torm ented w ith fears. A h, they are dead! Their sw ords are red from the fight. O m y brother! m y brother! w hy hast thou slain m y Salgar! W hy, O Salgar, hast thou slain m y brother! D ear w ere ye both to m e! w hat shall I say in your praise? Thou w ert fair on the hill am ong thousands! he w as terrible in fight! Speak to m e! hear m y voice! hear m e, sons of m y love! They are silent! silent for ever! C old, cold, are their breasts of clay! O h, from the rock on the hill, from the top of the w indy steep, speak, ye ghosts of the dead! Speak, I w ill not be afraid! W hither are ye gone to rest? In w hat cave of the hill shall I find the departed? N o feeble voice is on the gale: no answ er half drow ned in the storm ! “I sit in m y grief: I w ait for m orning in m y tears! R ear the tom b, ye friends of the dead. C lose it not till C olm a com e. M y life flies aw ay like a dream . W hy should I stay behind? H ere shall I rest w ith m y friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. W hen night com es on the hill w hen the loud w inds arise m y ghost shall stand in the blast, and m ourn the death of m y friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth; he shall fear, but love m y voice! For sw eet shall m y voice be for m y4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 45/57 friends: pleasant w ere her friends to C olm a. “Such w as thy song, M inona, softly blushing daughter of Torm an. O ur tears descended for C olm a, and our souls w ere sad! U llin cam e w ith his harp; he gave the song of A lpin. The voice of A lpin w as pleasant, the soul of R yno w as a beam of fire! B ut they had rested in the narrow house: their voice had ceased in Selm a! U llin had returned one day from the chase before the heroes fell. H e heard their strife on the hill: their song w as soft, but sad! They m ourned the fall of M orar, first of m ortal m en! H is soul w as like the soul of Fingal: his sw ord like the sw ord of O scar. B ut he fell, and his father m ourned: his sister’s eyes w ere full of tears. M inona’s eyes w ere full of tears, the sister of car-borne M orar. She retired from the song of U llin, like the m oon in the w est, w hen she foresees the show er, and hides her fair head in a cloud. I touched the harp w ith U llin: the song of m orning rose! “R yno. The w ind and the rain are past, calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. O ver the green hills flies the inconstant sun. R ed through the stony vale com es dow n the stream of the hill. Sw eet are thy m urm urs, O stream ! but m ore sw eet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of A lpin, the son of song, m ourning for the dead! B ent is his head of age: red his tearful eye. A lpin, thou son of song, w hy alone on the silent hill? w hy com plainest thou, as a blast in the w ood as a w ave on the lonely shore? “A lpin. M y tears, O R yno! are for the dead m y voice for those that have passed aw ay. Tall thou art on the hill; fair am ong the sons of the vale. B ut thou shalt fall like M orar: the m ourner shall sit on thy tom b. The hills shall know thee no m ore: thy bow shall lie in thy hall unstrung! “Thou w ert sw ift, O M orar! as a roe on the desert: terrible as a m eteor of fire. Thy w rath w as as the storm . Thy sw ord in battle as lightning in the field. Thy voice w as as a stream after rain, like thunder on distant hills. M any fell by thy arm : they w ere consum ed in the flam es of thy w rath. B ut w hen thou didst return from w ar, how peaceful w as thy brow . Thy face w as like the sun after rain: like the m oon in the silence of night: calm as the breast of the lake w hen the loud w ind is laid. “N arrow is thy dw elling now ! dark the place of thine abode! W ith three steps I com pass thy grave, O thou w ho w ast so great before! Four stones, w ith their heads of m oss, are the only m em orial of thee. A tree w ith scarce a leaf, long grass w hich w histles in the w ind, m ark to the hunter’s eye the grave of the m ighty M orar. M orar! thou art low indeed. Thou hast no m other to m ourn thee, no m aid w ith her tears of love. D ead is she that brought thee forth. Fallen is the daughter of M orglan. “W ho on his staff is this? W ho is this w hose head is w hite w ith age, w hose eyes are red w ith tears, w ho quakes at every step? It is thy father, O M orar! the father of no son but thee. H e heard of thy fam e in w ar, he heard of foes dispersed. H e heard of M orar’s renow n, w hy did he not hear of his w ound? W eep, thou father of M orar! W eep, but thy son heareth thee not. D eep is the sleep of the dead, low their pillow of dust. N o m ore shall he hear thy voice, no m ore aw ake at thy call. W hen shall it be m orn in the grave, to bid the slum berer aw ake? Farew ell, thou bravest of m en! thou conqueror in the field! but the field shall see thee no m ore, nor the dark w ood be lightened w ith the splendour of thy steel. Thou has left no son. The song shall preserve thy nam e. Future tim es shall hear of thee they shall hear of the fallen M orar! “The grief of all arose, but m ost the bursting sigh of A rm in. H e rem em bers the death of his son, w ho fell in the days of his youth. C arm or w as near the hero, the chief of the echoing G alm al. W hy burst the sigh of A rm in? he said. Is there a cause to m ourn? The song com es w ith its m usic to m elt and please the soul. It is like soft m ist that, rising from a lake, pours on the silent vale; the green flow ers are filled w ith dew , but the sun returns in his strength, and the m ist is gone. W hy art thou sad, O A rm in, chief of sea-surrounded G orm a? “Sad I am ! nor sm all is m y cause of w oe! C arm or, thou hast lost no son; thou hast lost no daughter of beauty. C olgar the valiant lives, and A nnira, fairest m aid. The boughs of thy house ascend, O C arm or! but A rm in is the last of his race. D ark is thy bed, O D aura! deep thy sleep in the tom b! W hen shalt thou w ake w ith thy songs? w ith all thy voice of m usic? “A rise, w inds of autum n, arise: blow along the heath. Stream s of the m ountains, roar; roar, tem pests in the groves of m y oaks! W alk through broken clouds, O m oon! show thy pale face at intervals; bring to m y m ind the night w hen all m y children fell, w hen A rindal the m ighty fell— w hen D aura the lovely failed. D aura, m y daughter, thou w ert fair, fair as the m oon on Fura, w hite4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 46/57 as the driven snow , sw eet as the breathing gale. A rindal, thy bow w as strong, thy spear w as sw ift on the field, thy look w as like m ist on the w ave, thy shield a red cloud in a storm ! A rm ar, renow ned in w ar, cam e and sought D aura’s love. H e w as not long refused: fair w as the hope of their friends. “Erath, son of O dgal, repined: his brother had been slain by A rm ar. H e cam e disguised like a son of the sea: fair w as his cliff on the w ave, w hite his locks of age, calm his serious brow . Fairest of w om en, he said, lovely daughter of A rm in! a rock not distant in the sea bears a tree on its side; red shines the fruit afar. There A rm ar w aits for D aura. I com e to carry his love! she w ent she called on A rm ar. N ought answ ered, but the son of the rock. A rm ar, m y love, m y love! w hy torm entest thou m e w ith fear? H ear, son of A rnart, hear! it is D aura w ho calleth thee. Erath, the traitor, fled laughing to the land. She lifted up her voice— she called for her brother and her father. A rindal! A rm in! none to relieve you, D aura. “H er voice cam e over the sea. A rindal, m y son, descended from the hill, rough in the spoils of the chase. H is arrow s rattled by his side; his bow w as in his hand, five dark-gray dogs attended his steps. H e saw fierce Erath on the shore; he seized and bound him to an oak. Thick w ind the thongs of the hide around his lim bs; he loads the w inds w ith his groans. A rindal ascends the deep in his boat to bring D aura to land. A rm ar cam e in his w rath, and let fly the gray-feathered shaft. It sung, it sunk in thy heart, O A rindal, m y son! for Erath the traitor thou diest. The oar is stopped at once: he panted on the rock, and expired. W hat is thy grief, O D aura, w hen round thy feet is poured thy brother’s blood. The boat is broken in tw ain. A rm ar plunges into the sea to rescue his D aura, or die. Sudden a blast from a hill cam e over the w aves; he sank, and he rose no m ore. “A lone, on the sea-beat rock, m y daughter w as heard to com plain; frequent and loud w ere her cries. W hat could her father do? A ll night I stood on the shore: I saw her by the faint beam of the m oon. A ll night I heard her cries. Loud w as the w ind; the rain beat hard on the hill. B efore m orning appeared, her voice w as w eak; it died aw ay like the evening breeze am ong the grass of the rocks. Spent w ith grief, she expired, and left thee, A rm in, alone. G one is m y strength in w ar, fallen m y pride am ong w om en. W hen the storm s aloft arise, w hen the north lifts the w ave on high, I sit by the sounding shore, and look on the fatal rock. “O ften by the setting m oon I see the ghosts of m y children; half view less they w alk in m ournful conference together.” A torrent of tears w hich stream ed from C harlotte’s eyes and gave relief to her bursting heart, stopped W erther’s recitation. H e threw dow n the book, seized her hand, and w ept bitterly. C harlotte leaned upon her hand, and buried her face in her handkerchief: the agitation of both w as excessive. They felt that their ow n fate w as pictured in the m isfortunes of O ssian’s heroes, they felt this together, and their tears redoubled. W erther supported his forehead on C harlotte’s arm : she trem bled, she w ished to be gone; but sorrow and sym pathy lay like a leaden w eight upon her soul. She recovered herself shortly, and begged W erther, w ith broken sobs, to leave her, im plored him w ith the utm ost earnestness to com ply w ith her request. H e trem bled; his heart w as ready to burst: then, taking up the book again, he recom m enced reading, in a voice broken by sobs. “W hy dost thou w aken m e, O spring? Thy voice w oos m e, exclaim ing, I refresh thee w ith heavenly dew s; but the tim e of m y decay is approaching, the storm is nigh that shall w hither m y leaves. Tom orrow the traveller shall com e, he shall com e, w ho beheld m e in beauty: his eye shall seek m e in the field around, but he shall not find m e.” The w hole force of these w ords fell upon the unfortunate W erther. Full of despair, he threw him self at C harlotte’s feet, seized her hands, and pressed them to his eyes and to his forehead. A n apprehension of his fatal project now struck her for the first tim e. H er senses w ere bew ildered: she held his hands, pressed them to her bosom ; and, leaning tow ard him w ith em otions of the tenderest pity, her w arm cheek touched his. They lost sight of everything. The w orld disappeared from their eyes. H e clasped her in his arm s, strained her to his bosom , and covered her trem bling lips w ith passionate kisses. “W erther!” she cried w ith a faint voice, turning herself aw ay; “W erther!” and, w ith a feeble hand, she pushed him from her. A t length, w ith the firm voice of virtue, she exclaim ed, “W erther!” H e resisted not, but, tearing him self from her arm s, fell on his knees before her. C harlotte rose, and, w ith disordered grief, in m ingled tones of love and resentm ent, she exclaim ed, “It is the last tim e, W erther! Y ou shall never see m e any m ore!” Then,4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 47/57 casting one last, tender look upon her unfortunate lover, she rushed into the adjoining room , and locked the door. W erther held out his arm s, but did not dare to detain her. H e continued on the ground, w ith his head resting on the sofa, for half an hour, till he heard a noise w hich brought him to his senses. The servant entered. H e then w alked up and dow n the room ; and, w hen he w as again left alone, he w ent to C harlotte’s door, and, in a low voice, said, “C harlotte, C harlotte! but one w ord m ore, one last adieu!” She returned no answ er. H e stopped, and listened and entreated; but all w as silent. A t length he tore him self from the place, crying, “A dieu, C harlotte, adieu for ever!” W erther ran to the gate of the tow n. The guards, w ho knew him , let him pass in silence. The night w as dark and storm y,— it rained and snow ed. H e reached his ow n door about eleven. H is servant, although seeing him enter the house w ithout his hat, did not venture to say anything; and; as he undressed his m aster, he found that his clothes w ere w et. H is hat w as afterw ard found on the point of a rock overhanging the valley; and it is inconceivable how he could have clim bed to the sum m it on such a dark, tem pestuous night w ithout losing his life. H e retired to bed, and slept to a late hour. The next m orning his servant, upon being called to bring his coffee, found him w riting. H e w as adding, to C harlotte, w hat w e here annex. “For the last, last tim e I open these eyes. A las! they w ill behold the sun no m ore. It is covered by a thick, im penetrable cloud. Y es, N ature! put on m ourning: your child, your friend, your lover, draw s near his end! This thought, C harlotte, is w ithout parallel; and yet it seem s like a m ysterious dream w hen I repeat— this is m y last day! The last! C harlotte, no w ord can adequately express this thought. The last! To-day I stand erect in all m y strength to-m orrow , cold and stark, I shall lie extended upon the ground. To die! w hat is death? W e do but dream in our discourse upon it. I have seen m any hum an beings die; but, so straitened is our feeble nature, w e have no clear conception of the beginning or the end of our existence. A t this m om ent I am m y ow n— or rather I am thine, thine, m y adored! and the next w e are parted, severed— perhaps for ever! N o, C harlotte, no! H ow can I, how can you, be annihilated? W e exist. W hat is annihilation? A m ere w ord, an unm eaning sound that fixes no im pression on the m ind. D ead, C harlotte! laid in the cold earth, in the dark and narrow grave! I had a friend once w ho w as everything to m e in early youth. She died. I follow ed her hearse; I stood by her grave w hen the coffin w as low ered; and w hen I heard the creaking of the cords as they w ere loosened and draw n up, w hen the first shovelful of earth w as throw n in, and the coffin returned a hollow sound, w hich grew fainter and fainter till all w as com pletely covered over, I threw m yself on the ground; m y heart w as sm itten, grieved, shattered, rent— but I neither knew w hat had happened, nor w hat w as to happen to m e. D eath! the grave! I understand not the w ords.— Forgive, oh, forgive m e! Y esterday— ah, that day should have been the last of m y life! Thou angel! for the first tim e in m y existence, I felt rapture glow w ithin m y inm ost soul. She loves, she loves m e! Still burns upon m y lips the sacred fire they received from thine. N ew torrents of delight overw helm m y soul. Forgive m e, oh, forgive! “I knew that I w as dear to you; I saw it in your first entrancing look, knew it by the first pressure of your hand; but w hen I w as absent from you, w hen I saw A lbert at your side, m y doubts and fears returned. “D o you rem em ber the flow ers you sent m e, w hen, at that crow ded assem bly, you could neither speak nor extend your hand to m e? H alf the night I w as on m y knees before those flow ers, and I regarded them as the pledges of your love; but those im pressions grew fainter, and w ere at length effaced. “Everything passes aw ay; but a w hole eternity could not extinguish the living flam e w hich w as yesterday kindled by your lips, and w hich now burns w ithin m e. She loves m e! These arm s have encircled her w aist, these lips have trem bled upon hers. She is m ine! Y es, C harlotte, you are m ine for ever! “A nd w hat do they m ean by saying A lbert is your husband? H e m ay be so for this w orld; and in this w orld it is a sin to love you, to w ish to tear you from his em brace. Y es, it is a crim e; and I suffer the punishm ent, but I have enjoyed the full delight of m y sin. I have inhaled a balm that has revived m y soul. From this hour you are m ine; yes, C harlotte, you are m ine! I go before you. I go to m y Father and to your Father. I w ill pour out m y sorrow s before him , and he w ill give m e com fort till you arrive. Then w ill I fly to m eet you. I w ill claim you, and rem ain your eternal em brace, in the presence of the A lm ighty.4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 48/57 “I do not dream , I do not rave. D raw ing nearer to the grave m y perceptions becom e clearer. W e shall exist; w e shall see each other again; w e shall behold your m other; I shall behold her, and expose to her m y inm ost heart. Y our m other— your im age!” A bout eleven o’clock W erther asked his servant if A lbert had returned. H e answ ered, “Y es;” for he had seen him pass on horseback: upon w hich W erther sent him the follow ing note, unsealed: “B e so good as to lend m e your pistols for a journey. A dieu.” C harlotte had slept little during the past night. A ll her apprehensions w ere realised in a w ay that she could neither foresee nor avoid. H er blood w as boiling in her veins, and a thousand painful sensations rent her pure heart. W as it the ardour of W erther’s passionate em braces that she felt w ithin her bosom ? W as it anger at his daring? W as it the sad com parison of her present condition w ith form er days of innocence, tranquillity, and self-confidence? H ow could she approach her husband, and confess a scene w hich she had no reason to conceal, and w hich she yet felt, nevertheless, unw illing to avow ? They had preserved so long a silence tow ard each other and should she be the first to break it by so unexpected a discovery? She feared that the m ere statem ent of W erther’s visit w ould trouble him , and his distress w ould be heightened by her perfect candour. She w ished that he could see her in her true light, and judge her w ithout prejudice; but w as she anxious that he should read her inm ost soul? O n the other hand, could she deceive a being to w hom all her thoughts had ever been exposed as clearly as crystal, and from w hom no sentim ent had ever been concealed? These reflections m ade her anxious and thoughtful. H er m ind still dw elt on W erther, w ho w as now lost to her, but w hom she could not bring herself to resign, and for w hom she knew nothing w as left but despair if she should be lost to him for ever. A recollection of that m ysterious estrangem ent w hich had lately subsisted betw een herself and A lbert, and w hich she could never thoroughly understand, w as now beyond m easure painful to her. Even the prudent and the good have before now hesitated to explain their m utual differences, and have dw elt in silence upon their im aginary grievances, until circum stances have becom e so entangled, that in that critical juncture, w hen a calm explanation w ould have saved all parties, an understanding w as im possible. A nd thus if dom estic confidence had been earlier established betw een them , if love and kind forbearance had m utually anim ated and expanded their hearts, it m ight not, perhaps, even yet have been too late to save our friend. B ut w e m ust not forget one rem arkable circum stance. W e m ay observe from the character of W erther’s correspondence, that he had never affected to conceal his anxious desire to quit this w orld. H e had often discussed the subject w ith A lbert; and, betw een the latter and C harlotte, it had not unfrequently form ed a topic of conversation. A lbert w as so opposed to the very idea of such an action, that, w ith a degree of irritation unusual in him , he had m ore than once given W erther to understand that he doubted the seriousness of his threats, and not only turned them into ridicule, but caused C harlotte to share his feelings of incredulity. H er heart w as thus tranquillised w hen she felt disposed to view the m elancholy subject in a serious point of view , though she never com m unicated to her husband the apprehensions she som etim es experienced. A lbert, upon his return, w as received by C harlotte w ith ill-concealed em barrassm ent. H e w as him self out of hum our; his business w as unfinished; and he had just discovered that the neighbouring official w ith w hom he had to deal, w as an obstinate and narrow -m inded personage. M any things had occurred to irritate him . H e inquired w hether anything had happened during his absence, and C harlotte hastily answ ered that W erther had been there on the evening previously. H e then inquired for his letters, and w as answ ered that several packages had been left in his study. H e thereon retired, leaving C harlotte alone. The presence of the being she loved and honoured produced a new im pression on her heart. The recollection of his generosity, kindness, and affection had calm ed her agitation: a secret im pulse prom pted her to follow him ; she took her w ork and w ent to his study, as w as often her custom . H e w as busily em ployed opening and reading his letters. It seem ed as if the contents of som e w ere disagreeable. She asked som e questions: he gave short answ ers, and sat dow n to w rite. Several hours passed in this m anner, and C harlotte’s feelings becam e m ore and m ore4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 49/57 m elancholy. She felt the extrem e difficulty of explaining to her husband, under any circum stances, the w eight that lay upon her heart; and her depression becam e every m om ent greater, in proportion as she endeavoured to hide her grief, and to conceal her tears. The arrival of W erther’s servant occasioned her the greatest em barrassm ent. H e gave A lbert a note, w hich the latter coldly handed to his w ife, saying, at the sam e tim e, “G ive him the pistols. I w ish him a pleasant journey,” he added, turning to the servant. These w ords fell upon C harlotte like a thunderstroke: she rose from her seat half-fainting, and unconscious of w hat she did. She w alked m echanically tow ard the w all, took dow n the pistols w ith a trem bling hand, slow ly w iped the dust from them , and w ould have delayed longer, had not A lbert hastened her m ovem ents by an im patient look. She then delivered the fatal w eapons to the servant, w ithout being able to utter a w ord. A s soon as he had departed, she folded up her w ork, and retired at once to her room , her heart overcom e w ith the m ost fearful forebodings. She anticipated som e dreadful calam ity. She w as at one m om ent on the point of going to her husband, throw ing herself at his feet, and acquainting him w ith all that had happened on the previous evening, that she m ight acknow ledge her fault, and explain her apprehensions; then she saw that such a step w ould be useless, as she w ould certainly be unable to induce A lbert to visit W erther. D inner w as served; and a kind friend w hom she had persuaded to rem ain assisted to sustain the conversation, w hich w as carried on by a sort of com pulsion, till the events of the m orning w ere forgotten. W hen the servant brought the pistols to W erther, the latter received them w ith transports of delight upon hearing that C harlotte had given them to him w ith her ow n hand. H e ate som e bread, drank som e w ine, sent his servant to dinner, and then sat dow n to w rite as follow s: “They have been in your hands you w iped the dust from them . I kiss them a thousand tim es— you have touched them . Y es, H eaven favours m y design, and you, C harlotte, provide m e w ith the fatal instrum ents. It w as m y desire to receive m y death from your hands, and m y w ish is gratified. I have m ade inquiries of m y servant. Y ou trem bled w hen you gave him the pistols, but you bade m e no adieu. W retched, w retched that I am — not one farew ell! H ow could you shut your heart against m e in that hour w hich m akes you m ine for ever? C harlotte, ages cannot efface the im pression— I feel you cannot hate the m an w ho so passionately loves you!” A fter dinner he called his servant, desired him to finish the packing up, destroyed m any papers, and then w ent out to pay som e trifling debts. H e soon returned hom e, then w ent out again, notw ithstanding the rain, w alked for som e tim e in the count’s garden, and afterw ard proceeded farther into the country. Tow ard evening he cam e back once m ore, and resum ed his w riting. “W ilhelm , I have for the last tim e beheld the m ountains, the forests, and the sky. Farew ell! A nd you, m y dearest m other, forgive m e! C onsole her, W ilhelm . G od bless you! I have settled all m y affairs! Farew ell! W e shall m eet again, and be happier than ever.” “I have requited you badly, A lbert; but you w ill forgive m e. I have disturbed the peace of your hom e. I have sow ed distrust betw een you. Farew ell! I w ill end all this w retchedness. A nd oh, that m y death m ay render you happy! A lbert, A lbert! m ake that angel happy, and the blessing of H eaven be upon you!” H e spent the rest of the evening in arranging his papers: he tore and burned a great m any; others he sealed up, and directed to W ilhelm . They contained som e detached thoughts and m axim s, som e of w hich I have perused. A t ten o’clock he ordered his fire to be m ade up, and a bottle of w ine to be brought to him . H e then dism issed his servant, w hose room , as w ell as the apartm ents of the rest of the fam ily, w as situated in another part of the house. The servant lay dow n w ithout undressing, that he m ight be the sooner ready for his journey in the m orning, his m aster having inform ed him that the post-horses w ould be at the door before six o’clock. “Past eleven o’clock! A ll is silent around m e, and m y soul is calm . I thank thee, O G od, that thou bestow est strength and courage upon m e in these last m om ents! I approach the w indow , m y dearest of friends; and through the clouds, w hich are at this m om ent driven rapidly along by the im petuous w inds, I behold the stars w hich illum ine the eternal heavens. N o, you w ill not fall, celestial bodies: the hand of the A lm ighty supports both you and m e! I have looked for the last tim e upon the constellation of the G reater B ear: it is m y favourite star; for w hen I bade you farew ell at night, C harlotte, and turned m y steps from your door, it alw ays shone upon m e. W ith w hat rapture have I at tim es beheld it! H ow often have I im plored it w ith uplifted hands to4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 50/57 w itness m y felicity! and even still— B ut w hat object is there, C harlotte, w hich fails to sum m on up your im age before m e? D o you not surround m e on all sides? and have I not, like a child, treasured up every trifle w hich you have consecrated by your touch? “Y our profile, w hich w as so dear to m e, I return to you; and I pray you to preserve it. Thousands of kisses have I im printed upon it, and a thousand tim es has it gladdened m y heart on departing from and returning to m y hom e. “I have im plored your father to protect m y rem ains. A t the corner of the churchyard, looking tow ard the fields, there are tw o lim e-trees— there I w ish to lie. Y our father can, and doubtless w ill, do this m uch for his friend. Im plore it of him . B ut perhaps pious C hristians w ill not choose that their bodies should be buried near the corpse of a poor, unhappy w retch like m e. Then let m e be laid in som e rem ote valley, or near the highw ay, w here the priest and Levite m ay bless them selves as they pass by m y tom b, w hilst the Sam aritan w ill shed a tear for m y fate. “See, C harlotte, I do not shudder to take the cold and fatal cup, from w hich I shall drink the draught of death. Y our hand presents it to m e, and I do not trem ble. A ll, all is now concluded: the w ishes and the hopes of m y existence are fulfilled. W ith cold, unflinching hand I knock at the brazen portals of D eath. O h, that I had enjoyed the bliss of dying for you! how gladly w ould I have sacrificed m yself for you; C harlotte! A nd could I but restore peace and joy to your bosom , w ith w hat resolution, w ith w hat joy, w ould I not m eet m y fate! B ut it is the lot of only a chosen few to shed their blood for their friends, and by their death to augm ent, a thousand tim es, the happiness of those by w hom they are beloved. “I w ish, C harlotte, to be buried in the dress I w ear at present: it has been rendered sacred by your touch. I have begged this favour of your father. M y spirit soars above m y sepulchre. I do not w ish m y pockets to be searched. The knot of pink ribbon w hich you w ore on your bosom the first tim e I saw you, surrounded by the children— O h, kiss them a thousand tim es for m e, and tell them the fate of their unhappy friend! I think I see them playing around m e. The dear children! H ow w arm ly have I been attached to you, C harlotte! Since the first hour I saw you, how im possible have I found it to leave you. This ribbon m ust be buried w ith m e: it w as a present from you on m y birthday. H ow confused it all appears! Little did I then think that I should journey this road. B ut peace! I pray you, peace! “They are loaded— the clock strikes tw elve. I say am en. C harlotte, C harlotte! farew ell, farew ell!” A neighbour saw the flash, and heard the report of the pistol; but, as everything rem ained quiet, he thought no m ore of it. In the m orning, at six o’clock, the servant w ent into W erther’s room w ith a candle. H e found his m aster stretched upon the floor, w eltering in his blood, and the pistols at his side. H e called, he took him in his arm s, but received no answ er. Life w as not yet quite extinct. The servant ran for a surgeon, and then w ent to fetch A lbert. C harlotte heard the ringing of the bell: a cold shudder seized her. She w akened her husband, and they both rose. The servant, bathed in tears faltered forth the dreadful new s. C harlotte fell senseless at A lbert’s feet. W hen the surgeon cam e to the unfortunate W erther, he w as still lying on the floor; and his pulse beat, but his lim bs w ere cold. The bullet, entering the forehead, over the right eye, had penetrated the skull. A vein w as opened in his right arm : the blood cam e, and he still continued to breathe. From the blood w hich flow ed from the chair, it could be inferred that he had com m itted the rash act sitting at his bureau, and that he afterw ard fell upon the floor. H e w as found lying on his back near the w indow . H e w as in full-dress costum e. The house, the neighbourhood, and the w hole tow n w ere im m ediately in com m otion. A lbert arrived. They had laid W erther on the bed: his head w as bound up, and the paleness of death w as upon his face. H is lim bs w ere m otionless; but he still breathed, at one tim e strongly, then w eaker — his death w as m om ently expected. H e had drunk only one glass of the w ine. “Em ilia G alotti” lay open upon his bureau. I shall say nothing of A lbert’s distress, or of C harlotte’s grief. The old stew ard hastened to the house im m ediately upon hearing the new s: he em braced his dying friend am id a flood of tears. H is eldest boys soon follow ed him on foot. In speechless4/8/2015 The Sorrows of Young Werther, by J.w. Von Goethe https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm 51/57 sorrow they threw them selves on their knees by the bedside, and kissed his hands and face. The eldest, w ho w as his favourite, hung over him till he expired; and even then he w as rem oved by force. A t tw elve o’clock W erther breathed his last. The presence of the stew ard, and the precautions he had adopted, prevented a disturbance; and that night, at the hour of eleven, he caused the body to be interred in the place w hich W erther had selected for him self. The stew ard and his sons follow ed the corpse to the grave. A lbert w as unable to accom pany them . C harlotte’s life w as despaired of. The body w as carried by labourers. N o priest attended. 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