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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


ALBERT is arrived. Were he the best and most perfect of men, were I in every respect his inferior, it would not be less insupportable to me to see him in possession of so many charms, so many perfections. I have seen him, my dear friend; I have seen this happy husband; he is a well-bred worthy man, whom one cannot help liking. Happily for me I was not at the first meeting; my heart would have been torn to pieces; and he has been so kind as not to give Charlotte a single kiss before me. Heaven reward him for it! The esteem he has for this {69} charming girl must make me love him. He shews a regard for me; I am certainly indebted to Charlotte for it. Women always endeavour to keep up a good understanding between their friends: it don't often succeed; when it does, they only are the gainers by it. Seriously, I cannot help esteeming Albert. The coolness and calmness of his temper form a striking contrast with the impetuosity of mine; and yet he has a great deal of feeling, and knows the value of that happiness which he possesses. He seems very little subject to ill-humour; which, you know, of all faults, is the one I am lest inclined to excuse.

He looks upon me as a man of understanding and taste. My attachment to Charlotte, the lively interest I shew for every thing that relates to her, augment his triumph and his love. I will not enquire whether he may not, in private, sometimes teaze her with little jealousies; in his place, at least, I know I should not {70} be quite easy. Be that as it will, the pleasure I enjoyed with Charlotte is at an end. Shall I call it folly or blindness? -- But it wants no name -- the thing speaks for itself. Before Albert came I knew I could have no pretensions to her, and I did not claim any; and now here I am, like an idiot, staring with astonishment, because another comes and takes her from me. I gnash my teeth, I bite my lips, I hate and despise myself: but I should despise the man still more, who could tell me coldly, that I must reconcile myself to it, for it could not be otherwise. Let me escape from all such silly personages! -- Yesterday, after having rambled a long time in the woods, I returned to Charlotte's house. I found her sitting with Albert under an arbour. Not knowing what to do, I played the fool, and was guilty of a thousand extravagancies. "For heaven's sake," said Charlotte to-day, "let me beg of you that we may have no more scenes like that {71} of last night; you are quite alarming in your violent spirits." Between ourselves, I have taken to watch Albert; and when he is engaged I run there, and am always pleased when I find her alone.