Wieland or the Transformation HTML version

Chapter 8
As soon as evening arrived, I performed my visit. Carwin made one of the company, into
which I was ushered. Appearances were the same as when I before beheld him. His garb
was equally negligent and rustic. I gazed upon his countenance with new curiosity. My
situation was such as to enable me to bestow upon it a deliberate examination. Viewed at
more leisure, it lost none of its wonderful properties. I could not deny my homage to the
intelligence expressed in it, but was wholly uncertain, whether he were an object to be
dreaded or adored, and whether his powers had been exerted to evil or to good.
He was sparing in discourse; but whatever he said was pregnant with meaning, and
uttered with rectitude of articulation, and force of emphasis, of which I had entertained no
conception previously to my knowledge of him. Notwithstanding the uncouthness of his
garb, his manners were not unpolished. All topics were handled by him with skill, and
without pedantry or affectation. He uttered no sentiment calculated to produce a
disadvantageous impression: on the contrary, his observations denoted a mind alive to
every generous and heroic feeling. They were introduced without parade, and
accompanied with that degree of earnestness which indicates sincerity.
He parted from us not till late, refusing an invitation to spend the night here, but readily
consented to repeat his visit. His visits were frequently repeated. Each day introduced us
to a more intimate acquaintance with his sentiments, but left us wholly in the dark,
concerning that about which we were most inquisitive. He studiously avoided all mention
of his past or present situation. Even the place of his abode in the city he concealed from
Our sphere, in this respect, being somewhat limited, and the intellectual endowments of
this man being indisputably great, his deportment was more diligently marked, and
copiously commented on by us, than you, perhaps, will think the circumstances
warranted. Not a gesture, or glance, or accent, that was not, in our private assemblies,
discussed, and inferences deduced from it. It may well be thought that he modelled his
behaviour by an uncommon standard, when, with all our opportunities and accuracy of
observation, we were able, for a long time, to gather no satisfactory information. He
afforded us no ground on which to build even a plausible conjecture.
There is a degree of familiarity which takes place between constant associates, that
justifies the negligence of many rules of which, in an earlier period of their intercourse,
politeness requires the exact observance. Inquiries into our condition are allowable when
they are prompted by a disinterested concern for our welfare; and this solicitude is not
only pardonable, but may justly be demanded from those who chuse us for their
companions. This state of things was more slow to arrive on this occasion than on most
others, on account of the gravity and loftiness of this man's behaviour.