Wieland, or the Transformation
Will you wonder that I read no farther? Will you not rather be astonished that I read thus
far? What power supported me through such a task I know not. Perhaps the doubt from
which I could not disengage my mind, that the scene here depicted was a dream,
contributed to my perseverance. In vain the solemn introduction of my uncle, his appeals
to my fortitude, and allusions to something monstrous in the events he was about to
disclose; in vain the distressful perplexity, the mysterious silence and ambiguous answers
of my attendants, especially when the condition of my brother was the theme of my
inquiries, were remembered. I recalled the interview with Wieland in my chamber, his
preternatural tranquillity succeeded by bursts of passion and menacing actions. All these
coincided with the tenor of this paper.
Catharine and her children, and Louisa were dead. The act that destroyed them was, in
the highest degree, inhuman. It was worthy of savages trained to murder, and exulting in
Who was the performer of the deed? Wieland! My brother! The husband and the father!
That man of gentle virtues and invincible benignity! placable and mild--an idolator of
peace! Surely, said I, it is a dream. For many days have I been vexed with frenzy. Its
dominion is still felt; but new forms are called up to diversify and augment my torments.
The paper dropped from my hand, and my eyes followed it. I shrunk back, as if to avoid
some petrifying influence that approached me. My tongue was mute; all the functions of
nature were at a stand, and I sunk upon the floor lifeless. The noise of my fall, as I
afterwards heard, alarmed my uncle, who was in a lower apartment, and whose
apprehensions had detained him. He hastened to my chamber, and administered the
assistance which my condition required. When I opened my eyes I beheld him before me.
His skill as a reasoner as well as a physician, was exerted to obviate the injurious effects
of this disclosure; but he had wrongly estimated the strength of my body or of my mind.
This new shock brought me once more to the brink of the grave, and my malady was
much more difficult to subdue than at first.
I will not dwell upon the long train of dreary sensations, and the hideous confusion of my
understanding. Time slowly restored its customary firmness to my frame, and order to my
thoughts. The images impressed upon my mind by this fatal paper were somewhat
effaced by my malady. They were obscure and disjointed like the parts of a dream. I was
desirous of freeing my imagination from this chaos. For this end I questioned my uncle,
who was my constant companion. He was intimidated by the issue of his first experiment,
and took pains to elude or discourage my inquiry. My impetuosity some times compelled
him to have resort to misrepresentations and untruths.