The Sorrows ofYoung Werther
distance. If you inquire what the people are like here, I must
a n s w e r , “ T h e s a m e a s e v e r y w h e r e . ” T h e h u m a n r a c e i s b u t a
I seemed to be more than I really was, because I was all that I could be. Good heavens! did then a single power of my soul
monotonous affair. Most of them labour the greater part of their time for mere subsistence; and the scanty portion of free- dom which remains to them so troubles them that they use every exertion to get rid of it. Oh, the destiny of man!
But they are a right good sort of people. If I occasionally forget myself, and take part in the innocent pleasures which are not yet forbidden to the peasantry, and enjoy myself, for instance, with genuine freedom and sincerity, round a well- covered table, or arrange an excursion or a dance opportunely, and so forth, all this produces a good effect upon my dispo- sition; only I must forget that there lie dormant within me so many other qualities which moulder uselessly, and which I am obliged to keep carefully concealed. Ah! this thought af- fects my spirits fearfully. And yet to be misunderstood is the fate of the like of us.
Alas, that the friend of my youth is gone! Alas, that I ever knew her! I might say to myself, “You are a dreamer to seek what is not to be found here below.” But she has been mine. I have possessed that heart, that noble soul, in whose presence
remain unexercised? In her presence could I not display, to its full extent, that mysterious feeling with which my heart em-
braces nature? Was not our intercourse a perpetual web of the finest emotions, of the keenest wit, the varieties of which, even in their very eccentricity, bore the stamp of genius? Alas! the few years by which she was my senior brought her to the grave before me. Never can I forget her firm mind or her heavenly patience.
A few days ago I met a certain young V—, a frank, open fellow, with a most pleasing countenance. He has just left the university, does not deem himself overwise, but believes he knows more than other people. He has worked hard, as I can perceive from many circumstances, and, in short, possesses a large stock of information. When he heard that I am drawing a good deal, and that I know Greek (two wonderful things for this part of the country), he came to see me, and dis- played his whole store of learning, from Batteaux to Wood, from De Piles to Winkelmann: he assured me he had read through the first part of Sultzer’s theory, and also possessed a