From these reflections I was roused by the appearance of a waiter, with a letter for me.
The envelope contained a slip cut from a German newspaper, and these lines of writing,
signed by Frau Meyer:--
"You are either a very just, or a very obstinate young man. In either case, it will do you
no harm to read what I enclose. I am not such a scandal-mongering old woman as you
seem to think. The concealment of the names will not puzzle you. Please return the slip.
It belongs to our excellent host, and forms part of his collection of literary curiosities."
Such was the introduction to my reading. I translate it from the German newspaper into
English as literally as I can.
The Editor's few prefatory words were at the top of the column, bearing the date of
"We have received, in strictest confidence, extracts from letters written by a lady to a
once--beloved female friend. The extracts are dated and numbered, and are literally
presented in this column--excepting the obviously necessary precaution of suppressing
names, places, and days of the month. Taken in connection with a certain inquiry which
is just now occupying the public mind, these fragments may throw some faint glimmer of
light on events which are at present involved in darkness."
Number I. 1809.--"Yes, dearest Julie, I have run the grand risk. Only yesterday, I was
married to Doctor ----. The people at the church were our only witnesses.
"My father declares that I have degraded his noble blood by marrying a medical man. He
forbade my mother to attend the ceremony. Poor simple soul! She asked me if I loved my
young doctor, and was quite satisfied when I said Yes. As for my father's objections, my
husband is a man of high promise in his profession. In his country--I think I told you in
my last letter that he was a Frenchman--a famous physician is ennobled by the State. I
shall leave no stone unturned, my dear, to push my husband forward. And when he is
made a Baron, we shall see what my father will say to us then."
Number II. 1810.--"We have removed, my Julie, to this detestably dull old German town,
for no earthly reason but that the University is famous as a medical school.
"My husband informs me, in his sweetest manner, that he will hesitate at no sacrifice of
our ordinary comforts to increase his professional knowledge. If you could see how the
ladies dress in this lost hole of a place, if you could hear the twaddle they talk, you would
pity me. I have but one consolation--a lovely baby, Julie, a girl: I had almost said an
angel. Were you as fond of your first child, I wonder, as I am of mine? And did you
utterly forget your husband, when the little darling was first put into your arms? Write
and tell me."