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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe



May 27.

I FELL into declamation and similies, I find; and my enthusiasm made me forget to finish my narrative. Quite lost in my ideas of painting, which I unfolded to you at large in my last letter, I sat for two hours upon the plough, and towards evening a young woman with a basket on her arm came running to the children, who had not moved in all that time. "You are a good boy Philip," she called out. I got up and went towards her, and asked if she was the mother of those pretty children; she answered, that she was, gave the eldest a cake, took the little one in her arms, and kissed it with a mother's tenderness. "I left the young child with Philip," said she, "while I went to the town with his brother to buy some white bread, some sugar, and an earthen pot to make broth for Jenny to- {22} night: the boys broke our earthen pot yesterday, as they were quarrelling for the meat." I enquired where her other son was; and whilst she was telling me that he was driving home two geese, he came skipping up to us, and gave Philip a little ozier twig. I continued talking with the mother, and found she was the school-master's daughter, and that her husband was gone to Holland upon the death of an uncle he had there. "My husband found he should be cheated of the inheritance," said she; "for he wrote and received no answer to his letters, and so he went himself. I have not heard of him since he set out. God grant that no harm may have happened to him!" I left this good woman with regret, gave her a creutzer to buy white bread for little Jenny, when she went next to the town, and a creutzer apiece to the boys, and so we parted.

Yes, my dear friend, when I am no longer master of myself, nothing is more calculated to appease the tumult of my {23} senses, than the sight of such a tranquil being. She moves with a happy thoughtlessness in the confined circle of her existence; day after day passes without disquietude; and the falling leaves raise no idea, but that of the approaching winter.

Since that first evening I have gone very often to the same place: the children are become familiar with me; they have a bit of sugar when I drink coffee, and at night they partake of my whey and bread and butter. On Sunday they regularly receive their creutzer; for if I am not there after evening service, the old woman has orders to make the distribution.

They are quite at their ease with me; tell me all they hear, and their simplicity pleases me much. Their mother used perpetually to be calling out, to tell them they would be troublesome to the gentleman; and it is with great difficulty I have at length prevailed upon her to let them alone.