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Translated by R.D. Boylan Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole - page 27 / 106





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many crimes,” I observed, “but I never remember a sermon delivered against ill-humour.” “That may do very well for your town clergymen,” said he: “country people are never ill- humoured; though, indeed, it might be useful, occasionally, to my wife for instance, and the judge.” We all laughed, as

did he likewise very cordially, till he fell into a fit of cough- ing, which interrupted our conversation for a time. Herr Schmidt resumed the subject. “You call ill humour a crime,” he remarked, “but I think you use too strong a term.” “Not at all,” I replied, “if that deserves the name which is so perni- cious to ourselves and our neighbours. Is it not enough that we want the power to make one another happy, must we deprive each other of the pleasure which we can all make for ourselves? Show me the man who has the courage to hide his ill-humour, who bears the whole burden himself, without disturbing the peace of those around him. No: ill-humour arises from an inward consciousness of our own want of merit, from a discontent which ever accompanies that envy which foolish vanity engenders. We see people happy, whom we have not made so, and cannot endure the sight.” Charlotte looked at me with a smile; she observed the emotion with which I

spoke: and a tear in the eyes of Frederica stimulated me to proceed. “Woe unto those,” I said, “who use their power over a human heart to destroy the simple pleasures it would natu- rally enjoy! All the favours, all the attentions, in the world cannot compensate for the loss of that happiness which a cruel tyranny has destroyed.” My heart was full as I spoke. A recol- lection of many things which had happened pressed upon my mind, and filled my eyes with tears. “We should daily repeat to ourselves,” I exclaimed, “that we should not interfere with our friends, unless to leave them in possession of their own joys, and increase their happiness by sharing it with them! But when their souls are tormented by a violent passion, or their hearts rent with grief, is it in your power to afford them the slightest consolation?

“And when the last fatal malady seizes the being whose un- timely grave you have prepared, when she lies languid and exhausted before you, her dim eyes raised to heaven, and the damp of death upon her pallid brow, there you stand at her bedside like a condemned criminal, with the bitter feeling that your whole fortune could not save her; and the agonising thought wrings you, that all your efforts are powerless to


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