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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


August 21.

My sensations change with the rapidity of lightning. Sometimes a ray of joy seems to give me new life -- Alas! it disappears in a moment. When I am thus lost in reveries, I cannot help {147} saying to myself -- "If Albert was to die, I should be -- yes, Charlotte would" -- and I pursue the chimera till it leads me to the edge of a precipice, from which I start back and shudder. When I go out at the same gate, when I take the same road which conducted me for the first time towards Charlotte, my heart sinks within me; and I feel with bitterness how different I then was, from what I now am. Yes, all, all is vanished. Not a sentiment, not a pulsation of my heart is the same; no traces of the past remain. If the shade of a departed prince could return to visit the superb palaces he had built in happy times, and left to a beloved son; and if he found them overthrown and destroyed by a more powerful neighbour, such would be his sensations.