« PoprzedniaDalej »
invisibly over me ;-we shall one day be re-united !Oh, sweet self-flattery, forsake me not! in this hope alone can I find a balsam for my wounds.
I know not by what name to call these effusions of my heart. This should be a preface—but what resemblance does it bear to a preface? No matter! it speaks of Frederica, and my bosom is relieved !
It was my design to state to thee, compassionate reader, what thou wast to expect in this book. 'Tis a tour to Paris, yet has it no resemblance the common mass of tours, since I saw nothing but my lost wife !--she followed me everywhere !-she then must be almost my sole theme!
Yes, I was for awhile an inhabitant of Paris, but of Paris I know very little. The principal occurrences during my stay there, I have noted down in the form of a journal. This employment has soothed my wounded mind, it has enabled me to shed tears, when my soul wanted such relief. When I thought that beneficent source exhausted, I sat down to write, and it flowed again. My object is attained ! iny despair has subsided into a calm and gentle sorrow!
AUGUSTUS VON KOTZEBUE.
Paris, Jan. 1, 1791.
MY FLIGHT TO PARIS
THE AUTUMN OF 1790.
When my ill state of health drove me again to Pyrmont last summer, to drink of its salutary spring, my beloved wife, being then in the fifth month of her pregnancy, remained at home. Every letter I received from her, and we commonly exchanged three or four letters in the week, brought the most pleasing accounts of her health, and the assurance that she had no wish but for my return. How ardently I participated in this wish may be easily imagined ! I therefore eagerly embraced the first moment when it was possible to escape from the medicinal yoke, and flew to her arms. This was in the beginning of September.
Our first interview was at Gotha. She came thither to meet me. My transport at beholding her, our first embrace, the heart-felt joy with which I contemplated her blooming cheeks manifesting pure health and content, the animation that sparkled from her eyes—how present are all these ideas to my ima. gination! How does my_fancy love to dwell upon the enchanting images ! Fain would my pen describe thern in equally glowing colours !—But words are unequal to the task! Yet every one who has a heart can imagine them all.
Two months more passed on. alarm, the moment approach when I was to be pre
I saw, without sented with a new pledge of our love, since no reason for alarm then appeared. I did all that lay in my power to prevent danger: I persuaded my Frederica to take a walk with me almost every day, in the beautiful park at Weimar, which was indeed her favourite resort. How have we strolled about there, arm in arm, in sweet conversation, building castles in the air, forming conjectures on the future, reviewing the past, and enjoying the present! Sometimes talking of our absent friends, amusing ourselves with speculations on what they might be about at that moment, what and when they would write to us, or where and when we should see them again.
In the little hut made of the bark of trees, or at the waterfall, or upon the hill, or by the three pillars, or where we look over the meadows in the valley as upon a stage-have we often stood or sat, contemplating the varied beauties around us. Oh, may the sweetest, the most refreshing dew, fall upon you every morning, ye trees and flowers, for ye were witnesses of my happiness ! Ever mayest thou flourish and look gay,
thou verdant turf, for thou hast been pressed by the footsteps of my beloved wife! How would she laugh when our William would sometimes stand upon his head, and set the little dog barking with comic eagerness at so unusual a sight? Never, never, will a happier couple enjoy thy charms, thou lovely spot.
Often, too, have we visited Belvedere, and I'ief. furth, country-seats near Weimar. There did we sit under a tree, and regale upon new milk, while my Frederica rejoiced at finding the weather still so warm in the country, that although in the month of October, we could remain out in the air, whereas at home we were creeping to the fire. These little excursions were always so pleasant to her, that in every the most minute incident she found a source of delight.
About a month before her confinement, she accompanied me to Leipsic fair. She was on that day uncommonly cheerful and animated, and at our return home assured me, that she never in her life enjoyed anything of the kind more highly. Oh, what greater delight can the world afford, than to have contributed to the enjoyment of her whom we love !
Thus, amid a constant reciprocation of pure and innocent happiness, did the hours pass on, till the moment approached, of which neither of us entertained the least apprehension. My Frederica had always enjoyed uninterrupted health, her only medicine was strawberries, and never since our abode at Weimar had the apothecary been enriched by her to the amount of a single dreyer.
At length, on the eleventh of November, she was safely and happily delivered of a daughter. For the first three days she was remarkably well, was all life and animation, laughing, and assuring us that alying-in was a mere joke. Never, she said, had she been so well; never, in the first three days, felt a like appetite, or like freedom from pain. In short, everything seemed to promise her speedy recovery, and the little cloud which must at such a period inevitably for a moment darken the horizon, seemed entirely dispersed. Such was her own opinion as well as that of all around her. Ah! was there then on earth a mortal happier than I! The whole creation seemed mine, and I its sovereign! Who could suppose that these were to be the last happy days of my
life? On the fourteenth she was somewhat indisposed. We believed this to be a matter of no consequence, only occasioned by the milk, and were satisfied nature relieves herself in various ways. On the fifteenth she again appeared quite well. Still do I see her, when, after having spent a very uneasy night with the idea of her indisposition, at five o'clock in the morning I stole softly into her chamber, and crept to the side of her bed, full of anxiety to learn some tidings of her. She stretched out her arms to me, and raising herself up, assured me that she was theri perfectly free from complaint. Oh blessed assurance ! once more my mind was in a state of composure. I afterwards read to her a scene of a drama I was writing, for I always made her unsophisticated feelings the test by which I proved the real merit or demerit of my works. What did not draw a tear from her eyes, I blotted out. Alas! to whose feel. ings can I refer in future !:--My tutelar genius has forsaken me!—my fire is extinguished !
She listened to me on this morning with her accustomed attention and pleasure, she gave her opinion upon the work as usual, her mind never appeared more clear or acute. Never! Oh, never will the piece, of which this scene was a part, be finished! I should start back with horror, were the fatal pages ever again to fall into my hands! The bare idea of adding another line to them gives me a feeling of criminality. I could not for all the treasures this world affords, endure to hear that part repeated which I read to her. The recollection of her nod of approbation as I proceeded, would harrow up my soul ! for, oh! it was the last approving nod I ever can receive from her.
On the sixteenth she began to complain of excessive faintness, and from this day her situation constantly grew more alarming. I became extremely anxious about her, and called in the advice of my old uni. versity friend, the chief physician Hufeland, in aid of Mr Buchholz, who had hitherto been our sole attendant. The disorder rapidly increased, her fever grew hourly higher, and she was at times delirious. Three days, which to me seemed like an eternity, thus passed on, when my anxiety became intolerable.
On the twentieth I hastened early in the morning to Jena, to call in the aid of the celebrated Dr Starke, who was my intimate friend, and of whose medical skill I had the highest opinion. Thus I thought nothing would be neglected on my part to save a life so dear; and this reflection has been my sole source of consolation in the midst of my despair at her loss.