The Declining Years
Wilhelm and his family had enjoyed an autumn holiday in Pillnitz on the river Elbe, and had returned to Berlin, happy and refreshed. A few weeks later he fell ill suddenly. A carbuncle on his back had to be lanced, and refused to heal. A high temperature complicated the condition. Then the patient seemed a little easier. He could sit up in bed and look at proofs of a new edition of his Freidank. He began laying out presentation copies of another edition of the Household Tales, just ready from the press. The family was relieved and hopeful. During the night from the 15th to the I6th of December Wilhelm’s temperature again rose alarmingly. He became delirious, but recognized Jacob, who sat on a low stool by his bedside, though he took his brother for a portrait of him, and remarked on the good likeness. He also spoke quietly and clearly about his own life, past and present, almost cheerful in spite of his discomforts.