if she should be lost to him for ever.
A recollection of that mysterious estrangement which had lately subsisted between herself and Albert, and which she could never thoroughly understand, was now beyond mea- sure painful to her. Even the prudent and the good have be- fore now hesitated to explain their mutual differences, and have dwelt in silence upon their imaginary grievances, until circumstances have become so entangled, that in that critical juncture, when a calm explanation would have saved all par- ties, an understanding was impossible. And thus if domestic confidence had been earlier established between them, if love and kind forbearance had mutually animated and expanded their hearts, it might not, perhaps, even yet have been too late to save our friend.
But we must not forget one remarkable circumstance. We may observe from the character of Werther’s correspondence, that he had never affected to conceal his anxious desire to quit this world. He had often discussed the subject with Albert; and, between the latter and Charlotte, it had not unfrequently formed a topic of conversation. Albert was so opposed to the very idea of such an action, that, with a degree of irritation
unusual in him, he had more than once given Werther to understand that he doubted the seriousness of his threats, and not only turned them into ridicule, but caused Charlotte to share his feelings of incredulity. Her heart was thus tranquillised when she felt disposed to view the melancholy subject in a serious point of view, though she never communicated to her husband the apprehensions she sometimes experienced.
Albert, upon his return, was received by Charlotte with ill-
concealed embarrassment. He was himself out of humour; his business was unfinished; and he had just discovered that the neighbouring official with whom he had to deal, was an obstinate and narrow-minded personage. Many things had occurred to irritate him.
He inquired whether anything had happened during his ab- sence, and Charlotte hastily answered that Werther had been there on the evening previously. He then inquired for his let- ters, and was answered that several packages had been left in his study. He thereon retired, leaving Charlotte alone.
The presence of the being she loved and honoured pro- duced a new impression on her heart. The recollection of his generosity, kindness, and affection had calmed her agitation: