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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe




May 4.

I am glad that I went away. -- Could I leave you, my companion, my friend, that I might be more at ease? The heart of man is inexplicable. But you forgive me, I know you do. The connections I had formed, were they not sufficient to torment such a disposition as mine? Poor Eleanora! But am I to be blamed for the tenderness which took possession of her heart, whilst I was admiring the beauty of her sister? No! Surely I am innocent: yet perhaps not entirely so; I might en- {2} courage her affection, and you have seen me pleased, amused, with the simple expression of her tenderness.* Many causes might I find of reproach; but I promise you to desist, my dear friend. I will not always be looking back, and dwelling on the painful remembrance of the sufferings I have endured. I will enjoy the present and forget the past. You are certainly in the right; that fatal disposition which makes us recall past scenes and past sorrows, greatly adds to the number of the wretched.

Be so good to tell my mother that I am employed about her affairs, and that I shall soon write to give her an account of them. I have seen my aunt: instead of being ill-tempered and malevolent, as she was represented to me, she is the most chearful, agreeable woman you ever saw and has the best heart in the world. I explained to her my mother's wrong, with {3} regard to that part of her portion which has been kept back. She told me the motives for her own conduct, and the terms upon which she is very willing to give up the whole, and do more than we have asked. But I will say no more on the subject at present; only assure my mother, that everything will go well. I find on this occasion, as on many others, that neglect and misunderstandings create more trouble and uneasiness, than dishonesty and malice; and they are indeed much more frequent also.

I am very well pleased with my situation here. Solitude in this terrestrial paradise is a medicine to my mind. The delight of spring touches my heart, and gives fresh vigour to my soul. Every tree, every bush, is full of flowers, and a delicious perfume fills the air. The town itself is disagreeable; but the finest kind of country, and the greatest natural beauties, are in its environs. Upon one of the neighboring hills, which form a chain, {4} and diversify our landscape, the late marquis of M. made a garden: it is simple, and at first sight it is easy to perceive that it was not laid out by a gardener, but by a man of taste and feeling for his own enjoyment. I have already given some tears to the memory of its departed master, in an arbour that is now almost in ruins, which was his favourite spot, and is at present mine. I shall soon have possession of this garden; the gardener is in my interest, and he won't be a loser by it.

* This first object of his affection is supposed to be dead, and has nothing to do with the following story.