Wieland or the Transformation
A few words more and I lay aside the pen for ever. Yet why should I not relinquish it
now? All that I have said is preparatory to this scene, and my fingers, tremulous and cold
as my heart, refuse any further exertion. This must not be. Let my last energies support
me in the finishing of this task. Then will I lay down my head in the lap of death. Hushed
will be all my murmurs in the sleep of the grave.
Every sentiment has perished in my bosom. Even friendship is extinct. Your love for me
has prompted me to this task; but I would not have complied if it had not been a luxury
thus to feast upon my woes. I have justly calculated upon my remnant of strength. When I
lay down the pen the taper of life will expire: my existence will terminate with my tale.
Now that I was left alone with Wieland, the perils of my situation presented themselves
to my mind. That this paroxysm should terminate in havock and rage it was reasonable to
predict. The first suggestion of my fears had been disproved by my experience. Carwin
had acknowledged his offences, and yet had escaped. The vengeance which I had
harboured had not been admitted by Wieland, and yet the evils which I had endured,
compared with those inflicted on my brother, were as nothing. I thirsted for his blood,
and was tormented with an insatiable appetite for his destruction; yet my brother was
unmoved, and had dismissed him in safety. Surely thou wast more than man, while I am
sunk below the beasts.
Did I place a right construction on the conduct of Wieland? Was the error that misled him
so easily rectified? Were views so vivid and faith so strenuous thus liable to fading and to
change? Was there not reason to doubt the accuracy of my perceptions? With images like
these was my mind thronged, till the deportment of my brother called away my attention.
I saw his lips move and his eyes cast up to heaven. Then would he listen and look back,
as if in expectation of some one's appearance. Thrice he repeated these gesticulations and
this inaudible prayer. Each time the mist of confusion and doubt seemed to grow darker
and to settle on his understanding. I guessed at the meaning of these tokens. The words of
Carwin had shaken his belief, and he was employed in summoning the messenger who
had formerly communed with him, to attest the value of those new doubts. In vain the
summons was repeated, for his eye met nothing but vacancy, and not a sound saluted his
He walked to the bed, gazed with eagerness at the pillow which had sustained the head of
the breathless Catharine, and then returned to the place where I sat. I had no power to lift
my eyes to his face: I was dubious of his purpose: this purpose might aim at my life.
Alas! nothing but subjection to danger, and exposure to temptation, can show us what we
are. By this test was I now tried, and found to be cowardly and rash. Men can deliberately