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Translated by R.D. Boylan Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole - page 53 / 106

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Goethe

Every day I observe more and more the folly of judging of others by ourselves; and I have so much trouble with myself, and my own heart is in such constant agitation, that I am well

content to let others pursue their own course, if they only allow me the same privilege.

What provokes me most is the unhappy extent to which distinctions of rank are carried. I know perfectly well how necessary are inequalities of condition, and I am sensible of the advantages I myself derive therefrom; but I would not have these institutions prove a barrier to the small chance of happiness which I may enjoy on this earth.

I have lately become acquainted with a Miss B—, a very agreeable girl, who has retained her natural manners in the midst of artificial life. Our first conversation pleased us both

subsequently acknowledged to me, that her aged aunt, hav- ing but a small fortune, and a still smaller share of under- standing, enjoys no satisfaction except in the pedigree of her ancestors, no protection save in her noble birth, and no en- joyment but in looking from her castle over the heads of the humble citizens. She was, no doubt, handsome in her youth, and in her early years probably trifled away her time in ren- dering many a poor youth the sport of her caprice: in her riper years she has submitted to the yoke of a veteran officer, who, in return for her person and her small independence, has spent with her what we may designate her age of brass. He is dead; and she is now a widow, and deserted. She spends her iron age alone, and would not be approached, except for the loveliness of her niece.

equally; and, at taking leave, I requested permission to visit her. She consented in so obliging a manner, that I waited with impatience for the arrival of the happy moment. She is not a native of this place, but resides here with her aunt. The coun- tenance of the old lady is not prepossessing. I paid her much attention, addressing the greater part of my conversation to her; and, in less than half an hour, I discovered what her niece

JANUARY 8, 1772

WHAT BEINGS ARE MEN, whose whole thoughts are occupied with form and ceremony, who for years together devote their mental and physical exertions to the task of advancing them- selves but one step, and endeavouring to occupy a higher place

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