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her the flowers: she seemed pleased with them, but it was only a momentary pleasure, she soon relapsed into her accustomed indifference to everything. The eruption meanwhile continued, and this kept my hopes still alive. But in the afternoon the cough and spitting of blood returned, and continued for a long time. In the evening it abated, yet she breathed very short, and scarcely knew anybody. Leeches were applied below her right breast, but she did not appear to feel them. The rose-bush I had bought in the morning was brought in, and placed by her bedside, but she paid no attention to it. I am silent as to my own situation ; it may be conceived, it cannot be described.
About ten o'clock she seemed to be in the last agonies. Her throat rattled, her eyes were fixed, and the physician, as well as myself, thought there was every symptom of approaching death. My friends intreated me not to stay and see her die, and reminded me that I owed to our children the preservation of my life and senses. I was so stupified, that I knew not what I did. I took leave of my wife, who neither heard nor saw me. Only for one moment, when I threw myself upon her, and pressed my burning lips to hers, did she seem in some degree sensible, and returned my kiss very faintly. This token of her love gave me the sudden relief of tears, they streamed down my cheeks: I kissed her again and again, and rushed out of the room, in the fatal conviction that these were the last kisses I ever should give this beloved wife.
I was solicited to leave the house, but while any hopes of her life remained that was impossible. I threw myself upon a bed in another apartment, where I continued in a state of mind little short of distraction. My mother remained in the room with my Frederica.
How shall I describe this long and miserable night! Every moment I expected to receive the last fatal tidings. As often as I heard the door of my poor wife's chamber open, my heart was ready to beat through my breast, and all my limbs shook-I expected it to be the messenger of death. About midnight I heard the sound of coffee grinding in the kitchen. Oh God! this seemed an assurance that all was over, that those who were watching with her had no other object of attention remaining but themselves !
A thousand times had I resolved to go and satisfy myself upon this dreadful subject, but anguish held me back; the idea of seeing her corpse, the corpse of my Frederica, was perfect agony. Still, still, thought I, a ray of hope remains in my bosom, shall I deprive myself of that by rushing on a dreadful certainty? Amid these horrid reflections, I continued tossing on the bed, experiencing torments not to be exceeded by those of hell. No! the sensations of a criminal, whom the following morning is to lead to execution, cannot be half so dreadful.
Yet one more transient interval of hope was in store for me. Sometimes the lamp in my room appeared nearly extinguished, and then again quickly burned bright and clear. This seemed a type of human life, and I thought that my beloved wife might revive again as the flame of the lamp.
Four o'clock had just struck, when I heard the door of the sick chamber open, and my mother's footsteps approaching mine. My senses were nearly gone. I could hear my heart beat. I looked wildly at her as she entered—“ She is still alive,” were the first words she spoke. What a balsam were they to my wounded soul! I burst into a shower of heartrelieving tears. I had no power of speech, I could not ask a single question, but my mother told me, with a countenance of consolation, that immediately after midnight the dreadful situation in which I had left my wife began to amend, she became easy, and had not coughed since; she now knew everybody, and had asked several times for me. With one spring I was in her arms. Oh God, what a blessed change ! she knew me, she smiled, she returned my kisses, and said sweetly, “I can kiss thee now joyfully: awhile ago it was painful to me!”—She was perfectly rational, and assured me she found herself better. I brought her the rose-bush, she seemed highly delighted, and even reached out her hand to smell to it.
My transport was unbounded, and I inwardly thanked God for his mercy with an ardour seldom perhaps experienced. I considered my wife as saved. I thought within myself whatever has ascended to the utmost height it can reach, must inevitably fall again. My Frederica's disorder had last night reached that summit, and now is in its descent. I waited with impatience the dawning of the day, when I hastened to the physician, who was astonished beyond measure to hear me say, “My wife is still alive.” He recounted over all the symptoms of approaching death that had appeared the preceding evening; and, since these had subsided, he ventured to hope with me that the crisis was past, and she might yet be restored.
He ordered her some medicines, with which I will own I was not satisfied, since I could not help apprehending that there was great danger in the exertion of taking them bringing on again the cough and spitting of blood. But since they were recommended by both physicians, and I had great respect for their judgment, 1 yielded my own opinion, and had them prepared. But alas! what I had feared actually ensued : she immediately began again to cough. I hastened once more to the physicians, though with much less sanguine feelings than before, and told them what had happened, when they desired that all attempts at medicine might be relinquished.
Alas! never shall I be able to banish the dreadful idea, that had she been suffered to reinain quiet that morning, and not been disturbed in this way, her youth and excellent constitution might at length have worn out her disease. Yet let it not be thought that I mean to cast a reflection upon our two worthy physicians. I am confident that they were scarcely less anxious than myself to save a life so dear to us all; and I doubt not were actuated by the fear of omitting anything at so important a moment that had the remotest chance of proving beneficial. But, when a house is burnt down, people are very apt to say, that a pail of water thrown earlier on this or that spot might have saved the whole edifice. The world must not be severe with a man under misfortune.
I sent once more to Jena, to beg my friend Dr Starke's attendance. I charged the servant to make the utmost possible haste, and to return instantly with the doctor. The honest fellow, who loved his mistress sincerely,—and who, indeed, did not love her?-was gone no more than three hours and a half. He brought me a note from Dr Starke, with a promise that he would be with me himself in the afternoon.
It was now noon. Exhausted with fatigue and anguish I had lain down on the sofa, and endeavoured to sleep; but when I heard the sound of the horse galloping along the street I sprang up, and hastened with the note into the sick chamber. There I found the same symptoms of approaching death as the evening before, the same rattling in the throat, the same fixed glare of the eyes, and the same despair in the countenances of all the attendants. The looks of the physician, too, plainly confessed that his art could do no more for her.
Ah! he could not!—and God would not !- Why he thus tore asunder one of the happiest couples that ever were united !-Why he separated two souls that only wished to live for each other ! Into those things we are forbidden to enquire !--But, oh! let not any one impute it to me as a sin that I complain !—The Lord gave her to me!- The Lord hath taken her away !-I am no dissembler-I cannot add, “Blessed be the name of the Lord !”
Of what passed in this and the following hours, I have hut a confused recollection. How I kissed her for the last time, without even receiving a like faint return, as the evening before ; how I rushed out of the room, unable to support the idea of beholding her last struggles; how I ran to the house of a friend a few doors off, and what horrible feelings there rent my bosom—all, all these appear to me as the harassing images of some dreadful dream.
Not many days before I had said to this friend, that I was confident my senses never could support the loss of my wife ; and earnestly entreated him, should this dreadful catastrophe actually take place, to think and to act for me, and endeavour, for the sake of my poor motherless infants, if possible, to rescue from despair a father who had himself stood for three years upon the brink of the grave. I charged him, when the last fatal stroke should be over, instantly to order a chaise, and fly with me, no matter whither, only to take me from the place that had been the scene of all my sorrows from the place where every joy must be buried in the grave of my deceased wife. He promised to comply with my request, and kept his word. He went himself to my house, my wife had breathed her last, and he sent instantly to the post.
I repeat it, that I have no clear idea of my own feelings. My brain was all confusion : overpowered with anguish, I could not remain a moment in the same spot; every place seemed too confined for my bursting bosom ; no tears came to my relief ; I ran half frantic into the street, a bleak north-wind blew directly through it; yet even there I felt as in a burning furnace.
I told my friend I would wait for him at the gate of the town, and thither I hastened, though I scarcely know myself how I reached it; neither am I certain, whether by the
way I met any person with whom Í was acquainted. I only recollect, since of this may