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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe

LETTER LXXVII--continued.

To Charlotte, in continuation.
-- THEY have been in your hands; you wiped the dust from them: I give them a thousand kisses; you have touched them. Ah! Heaven approves and favours my design. It is you, Charlotte, who furnish me with the fatal instruments; I wished to receive my death from your hand, and from your hand I am going to receive it. I have been enquiring of my servant -- you trembled when you gave him the pistols; but you did not bid me adieu. -- Wretch- {211} ed! wretched that I am! Not one adieu! -- In that moment, which unites me to you for ever, can your heart be shut against me? Oh! Charlotte! ages cannot wear out the impression; yet I feel that you cannot hate the man who has this passionate love for you.

[AFTER dinner he had his trunk packed up, deployed a great many papers, and went out to discharge some trifling debts. He returned home; and then went out again, notwithstanding the rain, first to the Count's garden, and then farther into the country. he returned when night came on, and began to write again.]

-- MY dear friend, I have for the last time seen the mountains, the forests, and the sky. Adieu! -- My dearest mother, forgive me: my friend, I entreat you to comfort her. God bless you! -- I have settled all my affairs; farewell! We shall see one another again, we shall {212} see one another when we are more happy.

I have but ill requited you, Albert; and you forgive me. -- I have disturbed the peace of your family; I have occasioned a want of confidence between you. Adieu! I am going to put an end to all this. May my death remove every obstacle to your happiness! Albert, Albert, make that angel happy; and may the benediction of Heaven be upon you!

[HE finished the settling of his papers; tore and burned a great many, others he sealed up and directed to his friend. They contained loose thoughts and maxims, some of which I have seen. At ten o'clock he ordered his fire to be made up, and a pint of wine to be brought to him, and then dismissed his servant; who with the rest of the family, lay in another part of the house. The servant lay down in his cloaths, that he might be sooner ready the next morning, his master hav- {213} ing told him that the post horses would be at the door before six o'clock.

Werter, in continuation, to Charlotte

PAST eleven o'clock. All is silent round me, and my soul is calm! -- I render thanks to thee, O God! that thou grantest to me in these last moments warmth and vigour.

I draw near to the window, my dear friend, and through clouds which are driven rapidly along by impetuous winds, I see some stars. Heavenly bodies! you will not fall: the Eternal supports both you and me! I have also seen the greater bear -- favourite of all the constellations; for when I left you in the evening it used to shine opposite your door. How often have I looked at it with rapture! how often raised my hands towards it, and made it a witness of my felicity! And still -- Oh! Charlotte! what is there which does not bring your image before me? Do you {214} not surround me on all sides; and have I not, like a child, collected together all the little things which you have made sacred by your touch?

The profile, which was so dear to me, I return to you, Charlotte; and I pray you to have a regard for it. Thousands of kisses have I imprinted on it, and a thousand times have I addressed myself to it as I went out and came in.

I have wrote a note to your father, to beg he will protect my remains. At the corner of the church-yard, which looks towards the fields, there are two lime-trees; it is there I wish to rest: this is in your father's power, and he will do it for his friend. Join your entreaties to mine. Perhaps pious Christians will not chuse that their bodies should be interred near the corpse of an unhappy wretch like me. Ah! let me then be hid in some remote valley; or by the side of the highway, that the Priest and the Levite, when they pass my tomb, may lift their eyes to {215} Heaven, and render thanks to the Lord, whilst the Samaritan gives a tear to my fate.

Charlotte! I do not shudder now that I hold in my hand the fatal instrument of my death. You present it to me, and I do not draw back. All, all is now finished; -- this is the accomplishment of all my hopes; thus all my vows are fulfilled!

Why had I not the satisfaction to die for you, Charlotte, to sacrifice myself for you? -- And could I restore peace and happiness to your bosom, with what resolution, with what pleasure should I meet my fate! But to a chosen few only it is given to shed their blood for those who are dear to them, and augment their happiness by the sacrifice.

I wish, Charlotte, to be buried in the cloaths I now wear: you have touched them, and they are sacred. I have asked this favour too of your father. -- My soul hovers over my grave -- My pockets are {216} not to be searched. -- The knot of pink ribband, which you wore on your bosom the first time I saw you, surrounded by your children -- (Dear children! I think I see them playing round you; give them a thousand kisses, and tell them the fate of their unfortunate friend. Ah! at that first moment, how strongly was I attracted to you! how unable ever since to loose myself from you!) -- This knot of ribband is to be buried with me; you gave it me on my birthday. -- Be at peace; let me entreat you, be at peace! --

They are loaded -- the clock strikes twelve -- I go -- Charlotte! Charlotte! Farewell! Farewell!

[ONE of the neighbors saw the flash, and heard the report of the pistol; but every thing remaining quiet, he thought no more of it.

At six in the morning, his servant went into the room with a candle. he found his master stretched out on the floor, and wel- {217} tering in his blood: he took him up in his arms, and spoke to him, but received no answer. Some small symptoms of life still appearing, the servant ran to fetch a surgeon, and then went to Albert's. Charlotte heard the gate-bell ring; an universal tremor seized her: she waked her husband, and both got up. The servant, all in tears, told them the dreadful event. -- Charlotte fell senseless at Albert's feet.

When the surgeon came to the unfortunate Werter, he was still lying on the floor, and his pulse beat: but the ball going in above his eyes, had pierced through the skull. However, a vein was opened in his arm; the blood came, and he still continued to breathe.

It was supposed, by the blood round his chair, that he committed his rash action, as he was sitting at his bureau; that he afterwards fell on the floor -- He was found lying on his back, near the window. He was dressed in a blue frock and buff waistcoat, and had boots on. {218} Every body in the house and in the neighbourhood, and in short people from all parts of the town, ran to see him. Albert came in: Werter was laid on his bed, his head was bound up, and the paleness of death was on his face. There were still some signs of life; but every moment they expected him to expire. He had drank only one glass of wine. Emilia Galoti was lying open on his bureau.

I will say nothing of Albert's great distress, nor of the situation of Charlotte.--

The old Steward, as soon as he heard of this event, hurried to the house: he embraced his dying friend, and wept bitterly . His eldest boys soon followed him on foot; they threw themselves on their knees by the side of Werter's bed, in the utmost despair, and kissed his hands and face. The eldest, who was his favourite, held him in his arms till he expired; and even then he was taken away by force. {219} At twelve Werter breathed his last. The steward, by his presence and his precautions, prevented any disturbance amongst the populace; and in the night the body of Werter was buried in the place he himself had chosen. The Steward and his sons followed him to the grave. Albert was not able to do it. Charlotte's life was despaired of. The body was carried by labourers, and no priest attended.]