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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


26th October.

I AM convinced, my dear friend, more and more convinced, that the existence of any one being whatever is of little, very little consequence. A friend of Charlotte's came just now to make her a visit: I withdrew, and took up a book in the next room; but I could not read, and therefore I write to you. I hear their conver- {156} sation: they are only talking of the news of the town; one is going to be married, another is ill, very ill. "She has a dry cough, and frequent faintings; she cannot recover," says one. "N. is very ill too," says Charlotte. "He begins to swell already," answers the other: And my imagination suddenly carries me to their sick beds: I see them struggling against approaching death, in all the agonies of pain and horror. I see them -- And these good little women are talking of it with the same indifference that one would mention the death of a stranger. -- And when I look at the apartment in which I now am, when I see Charlotte's apparel lying round me; here upon this little table are her ear-rings, Albert's papers, all the things which are so familiar to me, the very ink-stand which I now use; and that I think what I am to this family -- every thing -- my friends esteem me, are made happy by me, and my heart cannot conceive that any thing could exist without them; and {157} yet if I was to go now, if I was to quit this circle, would they feel, how long would they feel that void in their life, which the loss of me would leave? How long -- yes, such is the frailty of man, that there where he most feels his own existence, where his presence makes a real and a strong impression, even in the memory of those who are dear to him; there also he must perish and vanish away, and that so quickly!