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Heaven only knows what I suffered on this expedition! My fancy could not forbear to dwell on the most dreadful images which, though then merely ideal, were, alas! but too soon to be realized.
My friend was so good as to return with me immediately, and I was back again at Weimar, accompanied by him, within five hours from my departure. He found
Frederica very ill, but yet, did not think her case by any means hopeless, and I once more began to breathe freely. Cathartics and diaphoretics were administered. She was become, from delirium, very peevish and obstinate, nor would take anything but from
my hands. Oh, with what trembling hands did I reach her the glass with the medicine, but she kissed me when she had taken it, and my soul could not but find some consolation in this testimony, that amid the frowardness of disease, and wanderings of distraction, her affection for me remained pure and undiminished as
On this day my drama of 'Misanthropy and Repentence was performed. I mention this circumstance only to introduce an anecdote, which, even amid the anguish I then endured, gave me a sensation of pleasure. About eighty of the students at Jena came over to see the play. It was the usual custom of these young men upon such occasions, after having attended the theatre, to have a jolly supper together somewhere, and about midnight to return home, not without much noise, and hallooing and clapping, all which we used to hear in full perfection, as their route lay through the street where I lived. On this night alone, not a single carriage or horse passed my house, the whole party went quietly out of town by some other road, that they might not disturb my suffering wife. I mentioned this circumstance to her in the morning, she seemed pleased with the attention, and I take this opportunity of publicly returning my grateful acknowledgment to the geutlemen for it.
On the twenty-first and twenty-second, my Frederica continued much the same. I sent an express both mornings to Dr Starke, with an account of the situation of his patient. I scarcely ever quitted her bedside, and experienced some satisfaction at finding that she did not in general, appear to have any apprehen sion of danger. Once only as I embraced her, and laid my cheek to hers, not being able to restrain my tears, she seemed for a moment to be struck with a degree of anxious solicitude. This, however, soon vanished again, as I wiped my eyes, and endeavoured to resume a countenance of hope and serenity. Indeed, her deliriurn was commonly so strong, that it was impossible for her to be sensible of her situation.
On the twenty-third she was easier and better. This gave me very flattering hopes. I went to bed much more composed, and, for the first time since her illness, had some quiet sleep. But the next morning, about half-past four, I was awakened by the maid, with the dreadful intelligence that her mistress was much worse. Oh God! with what horrible feelings did I spring out of bed, and hasten to her room! I found her extremely uneasy. She complained of excessive pain at her heart, in her breast, in her back, and particularly in her right side about the lungs. She breathed very short, and her cheeks were extremely flushed. For some days I had observed this symptom with great anxiety, but the day before had been much consoled about it.
I trembled so that I could scarcely stand, for I thought her almost at her last hour, and knew not what was to be done. The nurse and maid were the only people in the room with me. The latter I dispatched to Mr Buchholz, who was so good as to come immediately, and soon after, came my mother and madame Musæus, the widow of my excellent friend the professor. We rubbed the body of the poor sufferer all over with flannel, particularly those parts where she complained most of pain. She found this a considerable relief, the pain abated, and she assured us she was much easier.
Oh, how my heart in these anxious hours tossed about between hopes and fears! Yet so horrible to me was the idea of the irreparable loss I was about to sustain, that how much soever appearances threatened that event, I could not persuade myself that it was possible it should take place. A still, small voice, seemed continually to whisper in my ear, this cannot be !--the affliction were too great to be endured ! fate cannot inflict upon thee so severe a misfortune! She may deprive thee of thy children, of thy property, but assuredly she will spare thy wife! Ah that I could but have trafficked thus with fate !—could thus have purchased from death his devoted victim.
The physician hoped that the alarming symptoms which had appeared, preceded only the breaking out of an eruption. How did I watch
beloved wife every moment, to examine if nothing of this kind was to be perceived! when, about noon, after repeated disappointments, some spots at last appeared. My transport was inexpressible. I ran immediately to both physicians with the happy tidings, and wept like a child. They shared in my joyful hopes, and conjured me, for God's sake, upon no consideration to let her be taken out of bed. Hitherto she had frequently got up to have her bed made, and however we sometimes wished her not to be disturbed, she was so extremely desirous of it, that it was scarcely possible to put it off. I now therefore never stirred from her room, since her love for me was so much more power. ful than her disease, that when I tenderly intreated, she even gave this up. At night I lay down in the room with my clothes on; when madame Musæus, who, upon this melancholy occasion, proved herself a most sincere friend, promised faithfully, that if she appeared the least uneasy, I should be instantly awakened.
At five o'clock I arose. I received the joyful in
formation that my poor Frederica had passed a quiet night, and I found her easy when I went to her bedside, and kissed her as usual. This much increased my flattering hopes.
'Since she appeared so well, madame Musæus went home early, and I lighted my morning pipe and retired for a short time to another room, that I might not disturb my wife with the fumes of my tobacco. I had not been there long before the maid came to me, half breathless and pale with horror, bringing a handkerchief all over blood, which my Frederica had thrown up. What a new source of alarm and anguish! I hastened to her, and found her with a short cough and spitting of blood. I ran with all possible speed to the physician, he ordered her a composing draught, which I gave her; the cough soon abated, and she began to doze.
My strength was almost exhausted. The morning sun shone on the opposite houses, the air was warm, the heavens serene. I resolved to avail myself of my wife's being asleep to breathe a little fresh air. I turned my steps towards Belvedere. Were I to describe all my thoughts, my feelings, my prayers, my hopes, my fears, upon this walk, they would fill å large volume of themselves. Is it not a strong argument in favour of the immortality of the soul, that our thoughts and feelings are not confined by time? That they pass with such rapidity, that a single moment suffices to revolve in idea what would occupy years in action? That no man can say such and such a portion of thoughts shall pass in my mind in such a number of minutes, but that the acts of ages are involuntarily compressed together in one momentary perception, and yet appear as clear to the mind as though every object, every circumstance, were embodied before the eyes ? What then can be this principle, that requires neither space nor time for its operations, yet works so all.comprehensively within us? Can it be aught but spirit?
Powerful are the charms of nature. Even on this awful day her enchantments for a moment engrossed my senses, and lulled my anguish to rest. The warm serene sunshine assimilating itself with what it found congenial in my bosom, some rays of reviving hope, they for awhile, by their combined power, suppressed the tumults that raged there. "Ah!" I suddenly exclaimed aloud, “all will yet be well!” Fancy supported this blessed idea, and raised within me a crowd of transporting images. I saw the bloom of health once more spread itself over the cheeks of my beloved Frederica. " I saw her walking up and down the room, somewhat weak indeed, but supported by my arm, apprehensive of no farther danger. I sought out for her the best old Rhenish wine that could be procured, omitted nothing that might contribute to her entire restoration, and when this anxiously desired object was finally attained, I thought of solem. nizing a little festival to commemorate the blessed event. My eldest boy I determined should learn a poem by heart, two orphan children should be clothed, and a circle of select friends invited. After dinner, as we were sitting round the table, a band of music should strike up, in the next room, “ Lord God, we praise thee!" When we, filling our glasses, and raising them up towards heaven, I, with my other hand round the neck of my beloved wife, would sing in chorus, “ Lord God, we praise thee!”
Oh, flattering fancy! for one moment didst thou here make me happy! It was a drop of cordial to enable me to struggle with new sorrow!
Amid these musings, I insensibly reached the castle of Belvedere, about half an hour's walk from Weimar. I bought a nosegay for my wife, and a rose-bush in a pot, for she was always very fond of flowers. The nosegay I carried home myself. I reached
house about half past one, when I found my Frederica still asleep, nor had she coughed during the whole time of my absence. About two o'clock she awoke: I gave