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Translated by R.D. Boylan Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole - page 77 / 106

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Goethe

everything.” I was thunderstruck: I placed a piece of money in her hand, and hastened away.

“You were happy!” I exclaimed, as I returned quickly to the town, “‘as gay and contented as a man can be!’” God of heaven! and is this the destiny of man? Is he only happy before he has acquired his reason, or after he has lost it? Unfortunate being!

And yet I envy your fate: I envy the delusion to which you are a victim. You go forth with joy to gather flowers for your princess, —in winter, —and grieve when you can find none, and cannot understand why they do not grow. But I wander forth without joy, without hope, without design; and I re- turn as I came. You fancy what a man you would be if the states general paid you. Happy mortal, who can ascribe your wretchedness to an earthly cause! You do not know, you do not feel, that in your own distracted heart and disordered brain dwells the source of that unhappiness which all the poten- tates on earth cannot relieve.

Let that man die unconsoled who can deride the invalid for undertaking a journey to distant, healthful springs, where he often finds only a heavier disease and a more painful death, or who can exult over the despairing mind of a sinner, who, to

obtain peace of conscience and an alleviation of misery, makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre. Each laborious step which galls his wounded feet in rough and untrodden paths pours a drop of balm into his troubled soul, and the journey of many a weary day brings a nightly relief to his anguished heart. Will you dare call this enthusiasm, ye crowd of pompous declaim- ers? Enthusiasm! O God! thou seest my tears. Thou hast al- lotted us our portion of misery: must we also have brethren to persecute us, to deprive us of our consolation, of our trust in thee, and in thy love and mercy? For our trust in the virtue of the healing root, or in the strength of the vine, what is it else than a belief in thee from whom all that surrounds us derives its healing and restoring powers? Father, whom I know

not, —who wert once wont to fill my soul, but who now hidest thy face from me, —call me back to thee; be silent no longer; thy silence shall not delay a soul which thirsts after thee. What man, what father, could be angry with a son for returning to him suddenly, for falling on his neck, and ex- claiming, “I am here again, my father! forgive me if I have anticipated my journey, and returned before the appointed time! The world is everywhere the same, —a scene of labour

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