one day had undertaken to read an English translation of “Faust” and came to her in great alarm.
“My daughter,” he said, “I hope that you have not read this wicked book!”
She had read it, and “Wilhelm Meister
,” too (though in later life she thought the latter “not altogether good reading for the youth of our country” ). Shelley
was forbidden, and Byron
allowed only in small and carefully selected doses.
The twofold bereavement which weighed so heavily upon her checked for a time the development of her thought, throwing her back on the ideas which her childhood had received without question; but her buoyant spirit could not remain long submerged, and as the poignancy of grief abated, her mind sought eagerly for clearer vision.
In the quiet of her own room, the bounds of thought and of faith stretched wide and wider.
Vision often came in a flash: witness the moment when the question of Matthias Claudius
, “And is he not also the God of the Japanese?”
changed from a shocking suggestion to an eternal truth.
Witness also the moment when, after reading “Paradise lost,” she saw “the picture of an eternal evil, of Satan and his ministers subjugated, indeed, by God, but not conquered, and able to maintain against Him an opposition as eternal as his goodness.
This appeared to me impossible, and I threw away, once and forever, the thought of the terrible hell which till then had always formed part of my belief.
In its place I cherished the persuasion that the victory of goodness must consist in making ”