Imatges de pÓgina






The Faustus of Goëthe has not been inaptly defined, by Madame de Staël, to be the “ nightmare of the imagination.” Thrilled as we are with its magic horrors, during the influence, an oppression labours on the breast, arising perhaps from the repugnance we entertain to its supernatural objects. It is neither tragedy nor romance, but a mixture of both, occasionally borrowing the attributes of pantomime, for which it was originally written. There is a species of ludicrous horror, that makes us smile, even while we shudder—a wild pleasantry thrown over the most terrific scenes, as distinct from hilarity as the hysteric laugh of the maniac is to the cheerful smile of innocent gaiety. The impression we receive from the whole work is, that it was written either during the influence of a delirium, or from the inspiration of sorcery Ă whirlwind of thoughts and ideas scatter themselves throughout the mind, inseparable and indefinable. We are tossed up into the heavens of the author's lofty aspirations in one line, and in the next we sink with him into the yawning abyss of insupportable darkness and despair. While starting at the horror with which we are surrounded, we are brought again on our feet by some ludicrous image or sarcastic remark. In many of the finest passages, we fancy we discern the spirit of Shakspeare, while the lighter parts have much of the rich humour and powerful satire of Aristophanes. The actionthe beautiful unity of the piece taken as a drama, seems formed after the severe propriety of Sophocles.

It is much to be regretted, that we have no translation that can give to those unacquainted with the German language the mystical spirit of this extraordinary performance. Lord Leveson Gower's is unquestionably a work of very great talent, but it is deficient in that unearthly gloom which pervades the original. The only medium through which we can form an idea of its peculiar wildness, is Shelley's “May-day Night," which is executed in such a masterly style as to make every of its readers regret that the translator did not render the whole of the poem.

Of the chief personages, or rather agents, of this drama, we must rank highest Mephistopheles, the Principle of Evil, as being drawn with the boldest conception, and executed with the most consummate precision. He seems like the triumph of hell over earth—of all the good qualities of mankind perverted for the purposes of wickedness. There




is naturally in the mind a feeling of curiosity respecting the principle from whence evil is supposed to originate. We creep towards—we tremble while we lift up the veil which hides the Medusa from our sight ; and, although we know the penalty, dare satisfy our longings. Here the character of the Devil puts the phantasms of the mind to flight, and the fallen spirit seems to assure of his horrid reality. There is a jocose familiarity in his speech, that would identify him with us as a human being, did not the depravity of his nature momentarily discover itself, and effectually destroy the illusion. He gloats over, with a savage triumph, the fallen state of mankind; he hails with glee every vicious propensity; and to satisfy us of his own base state, rejoices at every shade in the disposition of man that seems to be contrary to its original purity.

The design of a great master may be traced throughout the whole play, and a terrific moral is palpable. The higher that our aspirings become, the more elevated and daring is the soul ; but yet, if we suffer our minds to wander into the fields of forbidden knowledge, the greater becomes our restlessness, and the more insupportable our discontent. From Faustus we may perceive the boundary that separates vice from virtue to be of the nicest edge, and that no sooner are we on the contrary side, than the greater our temptation increases to continue in the path of error, and the less is our power to return to that state of innocence from whence we have fallen. The character of Faustus is an apt illustration of the foregoing observations. Here is a man blessed with every faculty that can render the mind of one man superior to the bulk of its fellows. Greedy of pleasure, selfish and inconstant in his wishes, he grasps at boundless pleasures : he possesses them; and even in the fulness of enjoyment feels, that ere he has paid their price, their zest is flown,—that ere his hunger is appeased, his appetite has fled, and has left him the curse of satiety while yet

in the pursuit of happiness. Margaret is the only leading object in the drama whose fate deserves our commiseration. So

young in years, so full of love, of the freshness of life, of a heart yearning with the kindest affections of our nature, with hope and happiness before her, her melancholy end appeals irresistibly to the soul. The very weakness through which she falls, makes her a closer object of our compassion, and destroys all feeling of pity for her remorseless betrayer. It is not our intention to give a full detail of the incidents of the poem ; but, for the sake of entering more fully into the spirit of the exquisite designs of the artist who has so surprisingly caught the author's enthusiasm, (one of which is the accompanying embellishment), we propose giving the scene it illustrates, which is in general the finest of the play.

It should be understood, that Faustus, having resigned himself to the control of the Principle of Evil, for the gratification of his inordinate desires, fixes on Margaret, a beautiful and virtuous girl, as one of the victims. Through the intervention of the Evil One, she falls beneath the fascinations of Faustus. The natural consequences ensue, and she is deserted by her betrayer, who, in aggravation of his cruelty, has killed her brother in a duel, upon that injured relative demanding justice of the sacrificer of his sister's honour. In an agony of shame and remorse, the unfortunate mother subjects herself to the charge of


infanticide, for which she is thrown into prison. Here the Devil and Faustus endeavour in vain to release her, upon terms too revolting to the principles of her nature and religion. This scene, the last in the play, will be found harrowing beyond description, and the spirit will be found extremely well conveyed through the following translation :

SCENE.—The Prison.
Faustus before the dungeon gates, with a key and a lamp.

A trembling long unfelt assails my limbs,
And all the grief of man now sinks upon me.
There does she dwell, in yonder damp recess ;
Her fault, her only faultma yielding heart.
Thou tremblest to approach her, and thine eye
Dread'st to behold her once again. Away!
Thou lingerest in thy fear while death is nigh.

[He seizes the lock.-A voice is heard within, singing a

rude ballad, so gross as to indicate insanity.

FAUSTUS (unlocking the dungeon door).
She dreams not that her love is listening near,
Hears the straw rustle, and the fetters clank. [He enters.

MARGARET (striving to conceal herself in her straw bed).
Woe, woe! they come : oh! bitter, bitter death!

FAUSTUS (softly).
Hush, hush ! 'tis I: I come to set you free.

MARGARET (throwing herself before him).
If thou art human, pity my distress.
You will alarm the slumbering jailors : hush !

[He lays hold of the fetters, to unloose thein.

MARGARET (on her knees).
Ruffian ! who gave thee this authority,
To bear me off in the still hour of midnight?
Have mercy! let me live a little longer :
Will not the morning's dawn be time enough? [Rises.
Am I too still so young-so young, and must I
Already die ? Fair also was I once,
And that has been my ruin. Then my love
Dwelt near me : now, alas ! he's far away.
My garland is all torn, and every flower
Is scattered : nay, nay, seize me not so rudely!
Spare me ! how have I injured thee? Let me
Not supplicate in vain for mercy to thee :
'Tis the first time I e'er beheld thy face.

Can I survive this sight of agony ?

Thou see'st I'm in thy power-then let me only
Give suck to my poor babe : the whole night long
I pressed it to my bosom: 'twas stolen from me,
To drive me mad, and now they say I killed it.
No more shall I know joy-no; they sing ballads
Upon me ; 'tis unfeeling. There's an old song
Runs in that strain, how came they to apply it ?

FAUSTUS (falling upon his knees).
Behold thy lover at thy feet; he comes
To break the heavy bonds of woe asunder.

MARGARET (kneels by his side).
0, let us kneel, and supplicate the saints !
See, see! beneath these steps, beneath'this threshold,
Hell rolls its fires ; and, hark! the Evil One
Raves wrathfully and horribly below.

FAUSTUS (aloud). Margaret Margaret !

MARGARET (listensthen jumps up--the fetters fall off). That surely was the voice of him who loved me; Where does he stay? I hear him call my name. I am at liberty : none none shall stay me : I fly to embrace, to hang upon his bosom : “ Margaret,” he called; he stood upon the threshold : Amid the howling and the din of hell, Through fiends dark taunts, and diabolic laughter, I know those sweet, those soothing tones of love.


MARGARET. And is it thou ? Say it again. [Embracing him. 'Tis he'tis he:-where are my torments now ? Where is the dungeon's horrors, fetters' weight? Thou 'rt here; thou com’st to save me; I am saved. Already do I see the street where first My eyes beheld thee, and the pleasant garden Where I and Martha waited for thy coming.

FAUSTUS (striving to remove her). Come with me; come away.


Oh! stay a little ;
How willingly where thou art, would I stay!

Haste! if thou hastenest not, we both shall rue it.

What, not one kiss! and hast thou, then, forgot
To kiss, in this short absence from thy Margaret ?
Wly on thy bosom do I feel uneasy,
When once thy words, thy looks, to me were heaven
Revealed ? and then thou strovest to stop my breath
With kisses. Ah! thy lips are cold, are dumb;
Where is thy love? ah! who has stolen it from me ?

[Turning from him.

Come, follow me, my love. Take courage : yet
I'll press thee to my heart a thousand times;
But only follow me, 'tis all I ask.

MARGARET (turning towards him again).
And is it thou ? art thou indeed my love ?

I am ; come on.

Thou wilt strike off thy Margaret's cruel chains,
And take her to thy bosom. Shrink'st thou not
From my embrace? Knowest thou whom thou free'st ?

Come-come, the night already wanes ; come on.

I am my mother's murderer. I have drowned
My child.-Was it not thine as well as mine ?-
Thine also. Art thou he ?-I scarce believe it.
Give me thy hand. Is it no dream, in truth?
That hand so dear---but it is moist. Alas!
Wipe--wipe it off. Methinks there's blood upon it.
What hast thou done? For heaven's sake, sheath that sword.

Oh! let the past be past. Thou stabbest me.

No, thou must stay, while I describe the craves

Which on the morrow thou must see prepared.
Give the best to my mother; next, my brother ;
Myself aside-a little, not too far;
And on my right breast lay my infant, else
Will none rest near.–To press me to thy heart
Were sweet, were happiness,--but never more
Shall it be so to me. It seems as though
I forced my love upon thee, and thou strovest
My fondness to repel; and yet thou 'rt he,
And hast the same kind gentle look as ever.

Oh! if thou feelest all this, I pray thee come.


FAUSTUS. To freedom.

Ah! is the grave without? Does Death wait? Come, then,
From hence to everlasting rest, and not
One step beyond. Thou turn'st away. Oh! Henry,
Would-would that I could go along with thee.

And if thou wilt, thou canst; the door stands open.


not go; for me there is no hope. Ah! what avails to fly ? they wait to seize me.To be obliged to beg, and, conscience struck, Roaming about through foreign lands to beg,-'Tis wretchedness itself, and still they 'll seize me.

FAUSTUS. I will not move from thee.


Quick, quick! Away!
Save thy poor child. Fly hence; away-away-
Up yonder, by the brook; beyond the style,
Deep in the wood,—there, where thou see'st the plank
Across the pool. Oh! snatch it out at once.
It strives to rise ; it struggles still ; save-save it!

Collect thyself. One step, and thou art free.

Would we were past that hill! my mother there
Is sitting on a stone. How cold it is!
There, on a stone, my mother sits, and shakes

head towards me. Now she beckons not,
Nor nods ; her head seems heavy; long she slept
She wakes no more. She slept while we were happy.
Oh! those were blissful times.

If no entreaties and no words will move thee,
I needs must force thee hence.


Release me! no,
I will not suffer force ; then seize me not
With cruel murderous hands : for love of thee
I did all this.

Day dawns ! my love-my love !

Day? Yes, 'tis day : the last day passes on-
My bridal-day it should have been. Tell none
That thou wert here with Margaret.' Ah! my garland,
It is quite withered.-We will meet again ;

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