My dear Tony,
Your letter duly received. As regards its contents, I should tell you that I did not fail dutifully to communicate to Herr Grünlich your view of the situation in an appropriate manner. The result of which, however, truly shocked me. You are a grown young lady and find yourself at such a serious crossroads in life that I do not scruple to point out the consequences that might result from any frivolous step on your part. Upon hearing what I had to say, Herr Grünlich became quite desperate, crying that he loved you so much and the pain of losing you would be so great that he was prepared to take his own life if you were to persist in your decision. Inasmuch as I cannot take seriously what you have written about another attachment, I would ask you to master your agitation about the ring you were sent and to weigh all this most seriously one more time. My Christian convictions, dear daughter, tell me it is our duty to have regard for the feelings of others, for we do not know whether one day you may not be held answerable before the Highest Judge because the man whom you have stubbornly and coldly scorned has been guilty of the sin of taking his own life. I would like you to recall, however, something that I have impressed upon you often enough in conversation, and which the present occasion allows me to repeat in writing. For, although the words we speak are more vivid and immediate, the written word has the advantage of having been chosen with great care and is fixed in a form that its author has weighed and considered, so that it may be read again and again to cumulative effect. We are not born, my dear daughter, to pursue our own small personal happiness, for we are not separate, independent, self-subsisting individuals, but links in a chain; and it is inconceivable that we would be what we are without those who have preceded us and shown us the path that they themselves have scrupulously trod, looking neither to the left nor to the right, but, rather, following a venerable and trustworthy tradition. Your path, it seems to me, has been obvious for many weeks now, its course clearly defined, and you would surely not be my daughter, the granddaughter of your grandfather, who rests now in God, indeed would not be a worthy link in our family’s chain if, of your own accord and out of stubbornness and frivolity, you seriously intended to follow an aberrant path of your own. I beg you, my dear Antonie, to ponder these things in your heart.
The most heartfelt greetings as well from your mother, Thomas, Christian, Clara, and Klothilde (who has spent the last few weeks at Grudging with her father), and from Mamselle Jungmann as well. We all look forward to the moment when we may embrace you once again.
As always with love,
from part 3, chapter 10, of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: John E. Woods translation