Letter III

Letter III

Raphael to Julius.

Julius, happiness such as ours, if unbroken, would be too much for human lot. This thought often haunted me even in the full enjoyment of our friendship. This thought, then darkening our happiness, was a salutary foretaste, intended to mitigate the pain of my present position. Hardened in the stern school of resignation, I am still more susceptible of the comfort of seeing in our separation a slight sacrifice whose merit may win from fate the reward of our future reunion. You did not yet know what privation was. You suffer for the first time.

And yet it is perhaps an advantage for you that I have been torn from you exactly at this time. You have to endure a malady, from which you can only perfectly recover by your own energy, so as not to suffer a relapse. The more deserted you feel, the more you will stir up all healing power in yourself, and in proportion as you derive little or no benefit from temporary and deceptive palliatives, the more certainly will you succeed in eradicating the evil fundamentally.

I do not repent that I roused you from your dream, though your present position is painful. I have done nothing more than hasten a crisis, which every soul like yours has sooner or later to pass through, and where the essential thing is, at what time of life it is endured. There are times and seasons when it is terrible to doubt truth and virtue. Woe to the man who has to fight through the quibbles of a self-sufficient reason while he is immersed in the storms of the passions. I have felt in its fulness all that is expressed by this, and, to preserve you from similar troubles I could devise no means but to ward off the pestilence by timely inoculation.

Nor could I, my dear Julius, choose a more propitious time? I met you in the full and glorious bloom of youthful intelligence and bodily vigor, before you had been oppressed by care or enchained by passion; fully prepared, in your freedom and strength, to stand the great fight, of which a sublime tranquillity, produced by conviction, is the prize. Truth and error had not yet been interwoven with your interests. Your enjoyments and virtues were independent of both. You required no images of terror to tear you from low dissipation. The feeling for nobler joys had made these odious to you. You were good from instinct and from unconsecrated moral grace. I had nothing to fear for your morality, if a building crumbled down on which it was not founded. Nor do your anxieties alarm me, though you may conjure up many dark anticipations in your melancholy mood. I know you better, Julius!

You are ungrateful, too! You despise the reason, and forget what joys it has procured you. Though you might have escaped the dangers of doubt all your life, still it was my duty not to deprive you of the pleasures which you were capable of enjoying. The height at which you were was not worthy of you. The way up which you climbed gave you compensation for all of which I deprived you. I still recall the delight—with what delight you blessed the moment when the bandage dropped from your eyes! The warmth with which you grasped the truth possibly may have led your all-devouring imagination to an abyss at sight of which you draw back shuddering.

I must follow the course of your inquiries to discover the sources of your complaints. You have written down the results of your thoughts: send me these papers and then I will answer you.