I went to them, therefore, with the bailiffs at the appointed time, and God knows! I was more anxious than they. For in the first moment that I entered the house, I thought: What kind of man can do this? The wife pleaded with me, pointing to the stripped bed and the few broken crocks in the kitchen, the ragged children wailed. O, if I were only out of here! thought I, and paid off the bailiffs and the sergeant and hurried away with my business not settled, after I had been promised payment at a certain later date, payment which is still outstanding to this day. (And later I learnt that a few hours earlier, before I came into their house, these people had hidden their best possessions and dressed their children in rags on purpose to deceive me.) "If I can help it, said I to myself, I will never do this again as long as I live. My creditors may some day show themselves such barbarians on my account, but I will not be so towards others. No! Let things go with me as they will, these debts must in the end be reckoned together with my assets. But the creditors never showed any concern, and such a way of thinking and doing business never struck fear into any of my debtors. The first pressed me ever more strongly and ruthlessly. This and my overstressed imagination then gave birth to..."

Autobiography 73 "... many a severe trial indeed":

"And of these I must also tell you something, my son! as a warning to you, so that you may see what a terrible thing it is for an honourable man to plunge himself into debts that he cannot meet, to sigh for seven long years under this leaden burden, to torment himself with a thousand vain wishes, to dream sweetly, building castles in the air, and every time wake in terror, to hope for a long, long time for help which only his fantasy has engendered, and at last to hope furtively for a true miracle. Think upon this poor son of earth who thus, dead-tired of all his vain thinking and acting, pondering and worrying, finally despairs of all, and must believe for sure that God's providence itself must now have decided to tread him down into the dirt, to make him a jest and shame before the whole world, and let him repent the consequences of his improvidence before the gaze of all his enemies.

When then at times the thought arises in him that God cares nothing for him - then think, think, my son! The Tempter does not let such occasions pass by, and it often seemed to me that I felt him prompting me, when I had run about the whole day seeking in vain for the help of man, then disconsolate, or rather half demented, slunk alongside the Thur - looked with fixed gaze down into the stream, where it is deepest - O then it seemed to me that the black angel whispered to me: "Fool, plunge in! you can hold out no longer. See how softly the water rolls! One moment and your whole being will flow away so softly. Then you will sleep so soundly - O, so happy, so happy! Then there will be no more sorrow for you, no more clamour, and your spirit and heart will sleep for ever in sweet oblivion". "O Heaven, if I only might!" thought I then. "But, what a shudder - God! what a horror runs through all my limbs. Shall I forget Thy word, forget all my convictions? No! Get thee behind me, Satan!
[Matt.16, v 23]
I will endure it all, I have deserved it - have deserved it all." Another time the Evil One presented to me as a very preferable choice the deadly weapon of young Werther


. "You have ten times more cause for it than he - and he was no fool, and gained himself praise and fame by it, and now is lulled in the gentle sleep of death!" "But how? Fie on such fame!"

On another occasion I was set to pack up my bundle and run away. With my remaining ready money I might have been able to begin again with a new business in some distant land; and at home my wife and children would surely find some kind souls to care for them. "What? run away? Leave my ungentle but loyal wife and my innocent children in the lurch - bring about fulfilment of the behind-the-door prophecies of my enemies, to their great satisfaction? [...] -"No,


Hero of a very famous novel by J.W. von Goethe, published in 1774. Werther contemplates drowning himself to escape the torment of love for a married woman, and eventually shoots himself. Goethe was accused of glorifying suicide; and Bräker was probably not the only reader to think of Werther as a real person. Goethe had in fact based his account of Werther's last hours on a true story, and added to later editions: "Be a man! Do not follow my path!"