Wieland or the Transformation HTML version

Chapter 23
"My morals will appear to you far from rigid, yet my conduct will fall short of your
suspicions. I am now to confess actions less excusable, and yet surely they will not entitle
me to the name of a desperate or sordid criminal.
"Your house was rendered, by your frequent and long absences, easily accessible to my
curiosity. My meeting with Pleyel was the prelude to direct intercourse with you. I had
seen much of the world, but your character exhibited a specimen of human powers that
was wholly new to me. My intercourse with your servant furnished me with curious
details of your domestic management. I was of a different sex: I was not your husband; I
was not even your friend; yet my knowledge of you was of that kind, which conjugal
intimacies can give, and, in some respects, more accurate. The observation of your
domestic was guided by me.
"You will not be surprized that I should sometimes profit by your absence, and adventure
to examine with my own eyes, the interior of your chamber. Upright and sincere, you
used no watchfulness, and practised no precautions. I scrutinized every thing, and pried
every where. Your closet was usually locked, but it was once my fortune to find the key
on a bureau. I opened and found new scope for my curiosity in your books. One of these
was manuscript, and written in characters which essentially agreed with a short-hand
system which I had learned from a Jesuit missionary.
"I cannot justify my conduct, yet my only crime was curiosity. I perused this volume with
eagerness. The intellect which it unveiled, was brighter than my limited and feeble organs
could bear. I was naturally inquisitive as to your ideas respecting my deportment, and the
mysteries that had lately occurred.
"You know what you have written. You know that in this volume the key to your inmost
soul was contained. If I had been a profound and malignant impostor, what plenteous
materials were thus furnished me of stratagems and plots!
"The coincidence of your dream in the summer-house with my exclamation, was truly
wonderful. The voice which warned you to forbear was, doubtless, mine; but mixed by a
common process of the fancy, with the train of visionary incidents.
"I saw in a stronger light than ever, the dangerousness of that instrument which I
employed, and renewed my resolutions to abstain from the use of it in future; but I was
destined perpetually to violate my resolutions. By some perverse fate, I was led into
circumstances in which the exertion of my powers was the sole or the best means of