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The Sorrows of Young Werther

The Sorrows of Young Werther


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Published by wiredpsyche
The Sorrows of Young Werther by J.W. von Goethe, as published (freely) by Pennsylvania State University.
The Sorrows of Young Werther by J.W. von Goethe, as published (freely) by Pennsylvania State University.

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Published by: wiredpsyche on Jun 06, 2009
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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


The Sorrows of Young Werther

and pain, of pleasure and reward; but what does it all avail? I

am happy only where thou art, and in thy presence am I con-

tent to suffer or enjoy.” And wouldst thou, heavenly Father,

banish such a child from thy presence?


WILHELM, the man about whom I wrote to you —that man

so enviable in his misfortunes —was secretary to Charlotte’s

father; and an unhappy passion for her which he cherished,

concealed, and at length discovered, caused him to be dis-

missed from his situation. This made him mad. Think, whilst

you peruse this plain narration, what an impression the cir-

cumstance has made upon me! But it was related to me by

Albert with as much calmness as you will probably peruse it.


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