Wieland or the Transformation
[Written three years after the foregoing, and dated at Montpellier.]
I imagined that I had forever laid aside the pen; and that I should take up my abode in this
part of the world, was of all events the least probable. My destiny I believed to be
accomplished, and I looked forward to a speedy termination of my life with the fullest
Surely I had reason to be weary of existence, to be impatient of every tie which held me
from the grave. I experienced this impatience in its fullest extent. I was not only
enamoured of death, but conceived, from the condition of my frame, that to shun it was
impossible, even though I had ardently desired it; yet here am I, a thousand leagues from
my native soil, in full possession of life and of health, and not destitute of happiness.
Such is man. Time will obliterate the deepest impressions. Grief the most vehement and
hopeless, will gradually decay and wear itself out. Arguments may be employed in vain:
every moral prescription may be ineffectually tried: remonstrances, however cogent or
pathetic, shall have no power over the attention, or shall be repelled with disdain; yet, as
day follows day, the turbulence of our emotions shall subside, and our fluctuations be
finally succeeded by a calm.
Perhaps, however, the conquest of despair was chiefly owing to an accident which
rendered my continuance in my own house impossible. At the conclusion of my long,
and, as I then supposed, my last letter to you, I mentioned my resolution to wait for death
in the very spot which had been the principal scene of my misfortunes. From this
resolution my friends exerted themselves with the utmost zeal and perseverance to make
me depart. They justly imagined that to be thus surrounded by memorials of the fate of
my family, would tend to foster my disease. A swift succession of new objects, and the
exclusion of every thing calculated to remind me of my loss, was the only method of
I refused to listen to their exhortations. Great as my calamity was, to be torn from this
asylum was regarded by me as an aggravation of it. By a perverse constitution of mind,
he was considered as my greatest enemy who sought to withdraw me from a scene which
supplied eternal food to my melancholy, and kept my despair from languishing.
In relating the history of these disasters I derived a similar species of gratification. My
uncle earnestly dissuaded me from this task; but his remonstrances were as fruitless on
this head as they had been on others. They would have withheld from me the implements
of writing; but they quickly perceived that to withstand would be more injurious than to
comply with my wishes. Having finished my tale, it seemed as if the scene were closing.