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Wieland, or the Transformation
Charles Brockden Brown
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My brother had received a new book from Germany. It was a tragedy, and the first
attempt of a Saxon poet, of whom my brother had been taught to entertain the highest
expectations. The exploits of Zisca, the Bohemian hero, were woven into a dramatic
series and connection. According to German custom, it was minute and diffuse, and
dictated by an adventurous and lawless fancy. It was a chain of audacious acts, and
unheard-of disasters. The moated fortress, and the thicket; the ambush and the battle; and
the conflict of headlong passions, were pourtrayed in wild numbers, and with terrific
energy. An afternoon was set apart to rehearse this performance. The language was
familiar to all of us but Carwin, whose company, therefore, was tacitly dispensed with.
The morning previous to this intended rehearsal, I spent at home. My mind was occupied
with reflections relative to my own situation. The sentiment which lived with chief
energy in my heart, was connected with the image of Pleyel. In the midst of my anguish, I
had not been destitute of consolation. His late deportment had given spring to my hopes.
Was not the hour at hand, which should render me the happiest of human creatures? He
suspected that I looked with favorable eyes upon Carwin. Hence arose disquietudes,
which he struggled in vain to conceal. He loved me, but was hopeless that his love would
be compensated. Is it not time, said I, to rectify this error? But by what means is this to be
effected? It can only be done by a change of deportment in me; but how must I demean
myself for this purpose?
I must not speak. Neither eyes, nor lips, must impart the information. He must not be
assured that my heart is his, previous to the tender of his own; but he must be convinced
that it has not been given to another; he must be supplied with space whereon to build a
doubt as to the true state of my affections; he must be prompted to avow himself. The line
of delicate propriety; how hard it is, not to fall short, and not to overleap it!
This afternoon we shall meet at the temple. We shall not separate till late. It will be his
province to accompany me home. The airy expanse is without a speck. This breeze is
usually stedfast, and its promise of a bland and cloudless evening, may be trusted. The
moon will rise at eleven, and at that hour, we shall wind along this bank. Possibly that
hour may decide my fate. If suitable encouragement be given, Pleyel will reveal his soul
to me; and I, ere I reach this threshold, will be made the happiest of beings. And is this
good to be mine? Add wings to thy speed, sweet evening; and thou, moon, I charge thee,
shroud thy beams at the moment when my Pleyel whispers love. I would not for the
world, that the burning blushes, and the mounting raptures of that moment, should be
But what encouragement is wanting? I must be regardful of insurmountable limits. Yet
when minds are imbued with a genuine sympathy, are not words and looks superfluous?
Are not motion and touch sufficient to impart feelings such as mine? Has he not eyed me