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The Sorrows of Werter

By Johann Wolfgang Goethe


November 15.

I THANK you, my good friend, for interesting yourself so kindly in what relates to me, and for the good advice you give me; and I beg of you to make yourself easy. Leave me to my sufferings; surrounded as I am, I have still strength enough to endure them to the end. I revere our religion; you know I do: I am sensible that it often gives strength to the feeble, and comfort to the afflicted. -- But has it, should it have this effect on all men equally? Consider this vast universe, and you will find millions for whom it never has existed; and millions, whether it is preached to them or {163} not, for whom it never will exist. -- Do not give a wrong construction to this, I beg of you. I don't love vain disputes on subjects which we are all equally ignorant of. What is the destiny of man? -- to fill up the measure of his sufferings, and drink up the bitter draught. -- And if the cup appeared bitter even to the Son of the Most High, why should I affect a foolish pride, and say my cup is sweet? Why should I be ashamed to tremble in that fearful moment, when my soul shall be suspended between existence and annihilation -- when dissolution, like a flash of lightning, shall illuminate the dark gulph of futurity -- when every thing shakes around me, and the whole world vanishes away? -- This is the voice of a creature oppressed beyond all resource, and who feels with terror that he cannot escape destruction -- "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" -- Should I be ashamed to use this expression? He who spreads out the heavens as it were a garment, felt terror himself.