Page:Bürger's Lenore, Rossetti 1900.djvu/17

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15
Prefatory Note

The wife, worn out with troubles and mortifications, died in 1784. Bürger forthwith espoused his Molly; but she also soon died, in 1786, in childbed. (This is rather a curious parallel to the case of the thrice-wedded poet of England, Milton, whose second wife also expired in childbed.) Bürger was still willing to try his chance in the matrimonial lottery. Before his choice had been fixed he received a letter from Stuttgart, written by a young lady in cultivated and feeling language. She professed enthusiasm for his poetry, and willingness to bestow her hand upon him. The poet, after making some inquiry, was only too eager to assent, and he brought home his third bride. But the result was a woful failure. The lady became faithless to her husband, made his life a torment, and, in less than three years, had to be divorced. Bürger did not survive this break-up for long. He was very poor, he was harassed by a bitter critique written by Schiller, and everything seemed to go wrong with him. In June 1794 he died, aged only forty-six.

London,

December 1899.