I had now spent four years in Amsterdam and had written to Carolinen on various occasions, reminding her of her promise to come to me; but she stayed away.
Your son should now choose a way of life that he wanted. He showed enthusiasm for the soldier's rank, and Herr R ** was so little disgusted that he on the contrary approved his choice. Well-mannered and skilled people, he said, are nowhere more necessary and more useful than where there are many unsavory. Become a soldier and show that one can be fearless, brave, strict, and yet also wise, careful and loving. As long as they will have religion and a good conscience: as long as they will not look indifferent to death; but expect without horror and never avoid it out of timidity. This is the real bravery. We bought him a job as an engineer; and he went off to his regiment, which later came to the frontier of Holland.
Now comes one of the most wondrous incidents of my life, which I will hardly be forgiven by people who love the class and who compare people not according to their inclinations and qualities, but always according to their birth and rank. I was still in my prime, and the comforts of my education had not yet been lost, or at most only partly extinguished, like the little features in a painting that one does not miss very much. There were various Dutchmen of prestige and great fortune who desired me to be a wife. But their search was in vain. Anyone who had such a lovable and excellent husband as I could easily be a bit stubborn in love. Even though none of my Freyers achieved their intention right away, they did wake up the memory of the sweetness of love in me. In order to get rid of these gentlemen, I thought, you want to make up your own mind of a choice. This cause of marriage is somewhat of a stretch. In the meantime it was certain that I used it before myself because it wanted my heart. Mr R ** came to my room one afternoon and asked me whether I would soon have decided on the best of my marriage. Do you advise me, then, I said, that I should heyrath again? Not before, he replied, as if until I saw that it was their own heart that got them. They know my sincerity and they know that I do not consider anything lucky that one does not ask for and freely choose. Among the large number of men who care for their hearts, I like none better than the gentleman from the H **; Not because he's very learned; but because besides his sciences and his important service he has very many advantages which earn him love and make him love. I am certainly right that he is a lovely man; but they must therefore not trust this judgment. I look at the man with you in any way, but not in any way. I love him as a friend, and as a friend he may seem pleasant and lovable to you, but not therefore as a husband. Our heart is often such that it holds back love for a person agreeable to us, as soon as it is to be connected with her in the most exact way. Perhaps, he went on, they like one of the other gentlemen better for love, whether they like him enough to become a good friend.
I assured him that I would use his advice as soon as I consulted my own inclination. Why, I continued, are they not getting married? Oh, he said, I would certainly have done it if my circumstances and love had led to my marriage. Love and my philosophy are not at all contrary to each other. A very happy marriage, according to all common sense, remains the greatest happiness in social life. Just show me a person who is decent to me and who gives you the assurance that she wishes to own me: so, as soon as I know her, I will choose her as my wife with the greatest satisfaction. We all have a duty to make life as pleasant and graceful as possible. And if it is probable that it can happen through love: then we are also connected to love and marriage. But, I replied, for as long as I have known them they have seemed very indifferent to our sex; how is it then that she now speaks the word of love? Please, he said, don't mix modesty with indifference. I know that love can often be as difficult for the other as it is for hating. And for this reason I am always cautious, but not indifferent to women. I know a person, I started, who loves them, and I don't think they will displease them. For that reason alone, I still don't know whether it is the one with whom you want to close the most precise bond of love. He was dismayed and asked me ten times who she was. I held him up for a long time, and finally I promised him that he would see her in the afternoons. In the afternoon I sent him my portrait and wrote a note to him about this:
This is how the person she loved looked like in her youth. At first she only felt friendship and gratitude towards her. Time and its value have transformed these impulses into love. My husband's dearest friend has the first right to my heart. You have treated me so generously and virtuously that I must love you. Answer me in writing. Do not apologize with your class. You have the merits; what concern of the reasonable is the inequality of class? We must not worry about the unreasonable, because nobody here knows of my position.
He came to me that moment. And the very man who, during my husband's lifetime as well as after his death, had never pretended to show me a caress, now knew how to show me his tenderness in such a decent and engaging way that I would become him started loving if I hadn't loved him already. Now, he said, they have given me the right to show them my heart. And now I can confess to you without mistake what the deference has otherwise meant to keep me from being. I have hardly thought of the happiness that they are now offering me, as Heaven knows. And even if I had thought of it: my little self-love would never have allowed me to continue this thought. Nothing is missing to my satisfaction but that you convince me that I am worthy of you: this is how I want to consider myself the happiest person. In short, we went to our hostess, we told her our decision, and she and her husband were extremely pleased with this unexpected news. Our little capitals had increased almost as much again within six years, and we could both have made a very leisurely living from it. But our friendly landlord did not want to let us out of his house. He kept our money and, as before, did us all possible favors. So Mr. R ** was my husband, or, if I am no longer supposed to speak in a professional manner, my dear husband. I loved him, as I can honestly assure you, most exquisitely and so tenderly, as my first husband. In emotions he was indifferent to him, where he did not surpass him in certain respects. But he didn’t like the outward one. He must have grown; but he did not have that captivating thing about him, which immediately touches upon the first time. No, you had to see him a number of times, you had to have spoken to him if you wanted to please him. Therefore I do not want to claim that it would have been suitable for all women. Enough, I liked him, and every day I found a new cause in his company to love him. He was nearly forty, and his personality had not changed at all since the time I met him at my husband's. His orderly and quiet way of life kept him as healthy as if he were just beginning to live. Who was happier than us! Our happiness fell in nobody's eyes, and the more calmly we could enjoy it. We lived without orders and without obeying. We were not allowed to give an account of our actions to anyone but ourselves. We had more than we desired, and therefore enough to do well to others. We had a society that conformed to our inclinations. We lived in the most populous place in the greatest silence. This was our desire. We could both converse with the noblest pastime, with reading and thinking. We studied without anyone's admiration for it. We studied for our own rest. And that I say everything at once, we knew of no other change in our marriage than favors and reciprocals. Many cannot stand it when they see the love of married persons portrayed so tenderly as the love between unmarried ones, because one sees that most marriages rather extinguish love than increase it. But such people do not know the wonders that wisdom and caution can do in marriage. They maintain love and promote its progress, like the heart through its movement the circulation of the blood. It is true that constant and constant tenderness is not possible in marriage. But if there is a well-founded love on both sides only, it can remain fiery and lively until the latest years. Our sensations can probably decrease somewhat, but this decrease alone means little. The person always has enough pleasure as long as he has as much as the level of his feelings demands. Enough, after many years we were still as in love with each other as if we had only just begun to love each other. Do not think, because we loved the sciences, that in ourselves we only loved our souls. I just had to laugh at all of my books about metaphysical love of spirits. The body belongs to our nature as well as the soul. And whoever persuades us that he loves nothing in a person but the perfections of the spirit either speaks against his conscience or he doesn't even know what he is talking about. Sensual love, which only goes to the body, is a preoccupation for small and sterile souls. And spiritual love, which is only shared with the qualities of the soul, is a fantasy of haughty schools, who are ashamed that heaven has given them a body which, if it came from the speeches to the deed, they would lose ten souls wouldn't let go.
I come back to my story. As I have said, we lived as happily as anyone can live. We reported our marriage to Carlsonen, that was the name of Carolinen's son, the Faehndrich, and asked him to visit us if it was possible; for we hadn't seen him in four years. He wrote us that he had become a lieutenant, that he was doing very well, and that a few weeks ago he had married a woman who, to please him, had secretly left the convent. He couldn't tell us anything about her position, because she came to the monastery in the sixth year and was only known by the name of Mariane. It would, however, like to be of the lowest origin; so she would be so amiable that he only wanted to wish for a high status in order to be able to seat his beloved in it. For Carlson knew nothing more of his birth than that his father had been an overseer on my first husband's property and had died young to him. He asked us indescribably that we should come to the Hague, from which place he was now only a few miles away in the quarter. This news frightened us almost more than it pleased us. We suspected enough love in this marriage, but not enough thought. In the meantime we sent him several hundred ducats so that he could arrange his circumstances all the more conveniently. We also promised to visit him as soon as the time of year and my circumstances would allow; for I had fallen with a daughter. We left for The Hague the following spring. In our Carlson and his wife we found a couple who were worthy of each other. Mariane was an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She was fair-haired and had a pair of big blue, languid eyes that seemed ashamed that they should be the traitors of a very tender heart. And even if the remaining parts of her face had not been so exceptionally well-formed and properly measured, she would have deserved the name of a beauty only because of her eyes. I don't want to say much about her understanding. She was brought up in the monastery. Her innocent and sincere heart would have made up for the lack of wit a thousand times if she had had less insight than she actually had. There was still something shy about her about the monastery; but even this shyness was so likely to lead to her innocence that one would not have liked to have missed her. Yes, I will say more, one loved her shyness; just as often a mistake can turn into a beauty under certain circumstances.
I look in vain for the words with which I want to describe her tenderness towards her husband. Imagine a very engaging, ardent and blossoming man (for this was Carlson) and then a naturally affectionate woman who had been a nun from youth, and whose sweet sensations had only become all the more powerful because they were had found constant resistance in the strict way of life and the rules of high chastity: this is how one can reasonably imagine the ardent and languishing love of this young woman. I was just as satisfied with our choice of Carlson as my husband, and we enjoyed the satisfaction of this couple so much that we could not come back from them. We sent money from Amsterdam and stayed with these affectionate married couples for a whole year or longer. We lacked nothing but Carlson's honest mother. We had letters from her that her health had improved and that she would be able to come to us soon. We also sent the groom, who had earlier brought me the mail about my husband's death, to pick it up and bring it to us. He had already met her on the way, and she was with us before we suspected it. She was quite rejuvenated, and by the joy of her son's happiness and my pleasure she grew livelier and livelier every day. Meanwhile this righteous woman assured us that her pleasure was too great to last long. Mariane fell with a daughter. This also served us for a new joy. But the more we had cause to be satisfied with Marianas, the more eager we became to learn something certain about their origin. All the same, all our efforts to discover this secret have been in vain. Mariane had secretly left the monastery for the sake of her husband's love, and we had to be very careful during our investigation so that we would not put her in danger of being discovered. In the monastery, those whom we had secretly inquired about were dealt with with the answer that Mariana’s status and birth were unknown to them, that in her sixth year she had been brought to the monastery by a common man who had a certain amount of money for her upbringing relaxed, and said nothing but that she was the daughter of an unfortunate Dutchman who would not have her brought up in the Reformed religion. Perhaps he could have trusted the abbess sense more, but this would be dead. In short, we did not find out anything, and it could be that the monastery itself did not know anything definite about Mariana’s origins. Because how many children are not brought into the monasteries under a strange name, and received by unknown hands.
At last we had to make up our minds to go back to Amsterdam. Our circumstances called for this separation. Caroline accompanied us to The Hague. Here she asked whether she might meet someone who could give her news about her brother, Andreas. But she learned nothing more than what we already knew, namely that after his wife's death he had become unhappy in his act, and because he had lost his fortune, had gone to East India by ship to try his luck again. We stayed in the Hague for several days and received our travel money. And just as we were about to leave, the merchant who had paid us off told us that a few days ago an East Indiaman had returned from Amsterdam, and on this ship at the same time Mr. Andreas, the merchant we had asked about earlier , and would have been with him today. This newspaper was too important for us to have continued our journey without speaking to Mr. Andreas. But Heaven wanted us not to have seen him in our lives! He came to us the next day.Carolinen's first question was why he hadn't written her in detail about her daughter's death before he left for the East Indies? Is Mariane dead? he shouted. What do you want with Mariane? replied his sister. My daughter's name was, like me, Caroline. Where is she? Isn't she dead? Oh, if only this God wanted! Yes, said Andreas, I know it well, her name was Caroline; but out of love for my wife, and because I had adopted her as a child, I named her after my wife, Mariane. I want to tell you everything; but promise me that you will forgive me for everything. My dear wife died to me, as I reported to you ten years ago. Mariane was also fatally ill, and I thought she was lost. But it got better with her. Meanwhile, my bankruptcy compelled me to try my luck elsewhere. I went to the East Indies. You know that I am devoted to the Catholic religion. I loved your daughter, or rather my fatherly Mariane, who was adopted as a child. In order to let her be educated partly in my religion, partly to care for her: so I took what I still had, and before my departure, and without telling anyone, I put this dear child in a monastery on the Austrian border Netherlands. I was just about to go there and see whether Mariane was still alive when I was called here. I can't wait any longer, I need to know if she's still alive. Come on, he said to Carolinen. We want to go to the monastery at the moment. We'll be back in three days. And without saying a word further, they both left. My husband and I hardly had the heart to look at each other, much less talk. A secret shiver ran through all my limbs. God, what is that supposed to be! finally started my husband. Mariane, the monastery - and not far from the border. What horrific news is this! Oh poor, unfortunate Carlson! May our guesswork be wrong this time! If only Andreas were there again, or would he rather never have come back to Europe! His presence will most certainly reveal to us the saddest secret that should have remained hidden from us forever. In order to find her daughter again, won't Caroline have to tear her as a woman from the arms of her own son? We tortured ourselves with these cruel ideas until Andreas came back with his sister, Caroline. To our misfortune, the sight of them made us guess the matter at once. Caroline almost fell into tears. She acted inconsolable, and her brother, as a hard man, did not show any outward sadness; but he sat quite numb. For a long time we couldn't say a word about either. In one word they had learned in the monastery that a nun, by the name of Mariane, who had been brought to the monastery around this and the year (day and year both arrived), secretly left it a year and a half ago, and so much one knew to have married a boy of nobility. What was to be done? Instead of going to Amsterdam, we had to go back to Carlson's Qvartier. All four of us saw more than too certain that this nun would be none other than Carlson's wife. But one would not have to know the human heart to believe that we had no excuses for our consolation. A piece of news of which we are frightened by certainty and delighted by the opposite, however probable it may be, we are sufficiently sensible to make it doubtful. Should I, said Caroline, not know my child, my birth child? Shouldn't it have any resemblance to me? Nevertheless, she had left it, since it was barely a few months old. A young man of aristocracy, did my husband often start out on the road, a young man of aristocracy? When did Carlson pretend to be? He is far too modest to assert a class in which he was not brought up. No, no, I said, God doesn't want that! If he had pretended to be a nobleman, why wouldn't he have said he was an officer? Perhaps in that same year a child came into the monastery who also had the name Mariane. Andreas, who had not traveled to East India because of philosophy, said that it was natural that a couple who were so close blood friends could not love each other as husband and wife. I believe that every moment on this journey we contradicted each other without even realizing it. So we returned to our Carlson's house full of trembling and hope. We had resolved to walk very cautiously and not let him or her notice the reason for our return. We wanted to say that we would have turned back with pleasure at the arrival of Mr. Andreas. Even if, we all said, Mariane should be the real Mariane: these affectionate married couples would both fall into despair if we discovered this sad secret for them all at once. No, I started, we kill Marianas this way. If she is the real Caroline: I want to ask her to come with me to Amsterdam for a while, for my love. Your husband will not refuse this pleasure. Once she is in Amsterdam, it will be time not to discover her secret as well as to let her discover it little by little. Tell Mariane: that's how Carlson should find out too. He doesn't have to see her again in his life. This will be the only consolation with which we can assist him in his pitiful error. He knows religion and hears reason. I want the daughter from this unhappy marriage to be brought up so that Mariane does not see the sad evidence of such a tender and now forbidden love. At this meeting we reached Carlson. He stepped into the door while we were arriving, and ran to meet us with astonishment. We brightened our faces as well as we could and told him that Mr. Andreas, Carolinen's brother, whom we had met in the Hague after his return from India, was the cause of our return. Who was happier than him! We went into the room to his Mariane's. Andreas had scarcely seen Marianen: so he fell on her neck and shouted with a horrific sound: Oh, God have mercy, it is she, it is she! I am unhappy man, I am to blame for everything! This was the fulfillment of the resolution to be careful about the matter. Caroline ran out of the door as desperate. Mariane wanted to get rid of Andreas; but he did not let her out of his arms. I didn't have so much control over myself that I could go and tear him away from her. Carlson stopped in one place and asked a hundred times what it was. My husband wanted to tell him, but returned with both words. Mariane finally came up to me. I should discover what it would be for her. I started talking without knowing what. I asked her forgiveness. I assured them of my eternal friendship. I hugged her. That was all. Meanwhile her husband came and wanted to take her out of my arms. No, no, I screamed, Mariane is not her wife, Mariane is her sister. At that moment Mariane sank down and I woke up as if from a restless sleep. I and my husband were with each other again the first time. We put Mariana in a bed, and she recovered from one swoon to fall into the other. Their physical structure probably contributed much to this weakness. She was pregnant. We didn't bring her back to herself all day.
Meanwhile my husband had gone to Carolinen, whom we had not seen again since she had run out of the room. If I wrote a novel, she would have had enough time to kill herself with a dagger or with poisons. The desperation in novels alone and the despair in common life do not always have the same effect. My husband found her on her knees in the garden house. I want to come straight to the next day. The violence of our affects had subsided, and instead the fear of sadness had set in. Tears and sighs, which held back the consternation yesterday, now had their freedom, and we sought our consolation in lamentation and pity. Carlson came to his Mariane's bed, and with him melancholy, fear, shame, remorse, and hurt tenderness. It was pathetic to see how these two people showed up against each other. Religion told her to transform the love of marriage into sisterly and brotherly love, and her heart demanded the opposite. They had loved one another indescribably. They were still in the spring of their marriage, and they should now tear this bond without decency. They had not seen each other in their lives, and so the confidentiality which otherwise tends to extinguish love between blood relatives did not help them. Their very nature did the saying for their own good. How could they feel something inside them that condemned their love, since they had never felt the pull of blood friendship. Oh, my brother, Mariane exclaimed once over the other, leave me, leave me! Unfortunate husband begins to hate me. I am your sister. But no! My heart doesn't tell me anything about it. I am yours, I am yours. Marriage binds us together. God will not separate us. Her husband was no better disposed. He heard the voice of passions so as not to hear the command of religion. He was careful not to call her his sister. He called her his Mariane. He was eloquent and inexhaustible in complaints that penetrated the heart because they brought forth the heart. At times he began to philosophize in the midst of his complaints, and, as one can easily believe, very selfishly. He proved that if she condemned the world, her marriage would be legal before God. And yet he did nothing but say ten times in succession that they were publicly united, and that nothing but death should separate this alliance. Countless times, in the language of the affect, he wished that Andreas would have died before he could draw his breath to discover this secret. He sat there as if he were to hear his death sentence. I believe that with a number of years he would have liked to buy the ruined pleasure of these affectionate people from his life. Caroline finally went to Mariana's bed and told Carlsonen to go away. My daughter, she began, I found you again to tear you from your brother's arms. God wanted me to have been able to live up to this sad duty all my life! Perhaps it is the punishment that I - but God imposed it. Neither of you are guilty of any crime. Your ignorance justifies your love, and certainty now forbids it. I am your mother and I love you as my children; but I detest you if you prefer the bond of marriage to the bond of blood. The address was very pious; but it was too violent and applied too early. It reawakened despair in both of them. My husband chose a more lenient way to appease the affectionate mind. He made use of a sham reason which, in the hour of affect, tends to have just as much power as truth. He said it was a matter of conscience that we couldn't decide. We want to leave it to discerning scholars of God. He believed that the marriage might still take place. This was an Arzney, which diminished the melancholy of both people, and at the same time resisted their love. They decided to submit to what the clergy said; but certainly not out of conviction, but out of a desire to be able to continue their love all the more calmly. We took advantage of their willingness, however, and encouraged the Marianas to follow us to Amsterdam as soon as their circumstances permitted; perhaps it would be possible to obtain dispensation from Rome. Her husband should ask for a half-year vacation, and if he got it, come after us. The two people put up with all of this. A few days passed by, and Mariane was able to take the trip. As we were preparing to do so, Carlson received orders that he should immediately, and in the event of losing his position, order the regiment to march. This news had an uneven effect. Carlson was pleased, and Mariane was again depressed. No sooner did she see his satisfaction with this post: then she reproached him with the most cruel reproaches. She called him an unfaithful man who wished to be rid of her. Should one believe that a woman who knew that her husband was her brother could still fall under such suspicion? But what is probably impossible in love and in dreams? Unfortunately, we only saw more than too clearly how intensely Mariane still loved her husband, and how she had decided in her heart nothing less than to let him go. Carlson assured her with the greatest oaths that he loved her infinitely and that he was delighted with the news of the march only because he saw it as an opportunity Heaven would have determined to tip the balance. Perhaps, he said, I will lose my life if a campaign breaks out. And then who is happier than us? Shall I not value death less than the Qvaal to see you and love you? And wouldn't you rather be separated from me by force than endure the pain of voluntarily leaving me and yet never receiving this freedom from your love? Be of good cheer, dearest Mariane! When I come back, it is a sign that heaven approves of our marriage. If I lose my life: it is proof that you have lost a man who should only be your brother and not your husband. What blissful service does error not render in certain circumstances! And how good it is not often that we have the pleasure of deceiving ourselves! Enough Carlson's error was admirable in terms of success. He calmed him down, and finally Marianas too. They let it go to heaven. And they promised themselves nothing but justice from this judge, that is, nothing but what they wanted. They implored God for assistance, just as if people were doing them injustice. In short, they were full of confidence and trust that all truth would not have brought about. Carlson went on as if he were going to win his Mariane at the meeting, and Mariane pretended to let him go in order to get him back for ever. As soon as he was gone, she followed us quite confidently, along with her daughter and mother, to Amsterdam. Andreas, who had again made a small fortune for himself in the East Indies, stayed in the Hague to begin his trade again, for which purpose Caroline gave him part of the money she had brought with her from Germany. We met our kind host in Amsterdam in his previous circumstances. We passed Mariana Islands on for Carlson's wife, and Caroline was his mother.