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"Dulce est desipere in loco."-HOR.
I HAVE found no difficulty in providing for your entertainment these last Six Months, supposing, always, that you have been entertained by this humble volume; during that time I have been an actor only, the speaker of other's wit, the reciter of other's sentiment, the vehicle of other's information; but now that the play is over,-now that I come before you as myself, and to speak as myself, I feel your weight no less than my own insignificance. Your plaudits have, indeed, accompanied me through my six acts-But were they bestowed on the actor or the author? on the humble collector, or those from whom he borrowed?-On this point I cannot flatter myself; but be it as it may, I am equally grateful for your past favours, and anxious for your future approbation. Truth to say, I am not very doubtful of obtaining it-more relying though upon others than myself; this, too, is not the season of unkindness; Christmas hearts, like Christmas boxes, are always open; and I cannot help knowing that I must be a very pleasant companion in these long winter evenings, when the air is nipping cold without, and the fire crackles and sparkles within, and the mulled wine is smoking on the table, and every foot is crowded on the fender. My dear reader unless you are a critic-critics always are melancholy like Master Stephen, unless you are a critic, I defy you not to laugh at my old jokes, which are not a jot the worse for wear, and my old stories, which make you young again. Only seat yourself in your easy chair, a glass of hot punch on one side of you, and your wife or mistress on the other, and my hat to a halfpenny you cry" bravo," to every other joke I venture. That I am not wiser than yourself, perhaps not so wise, is so far from being a defect, that it is one of my greatest recommendations; my easy chat will never put you to the trouble of thinking, and if now and then you should slip a page, depend upon it you'll never miss it—not that I mean to pay myself a bad compliment; the sentence cuts
either way, and you may interpret it as best may please yourself. But after all, this is the season for fooling, though the first of April has always had the credit-A cheerless, plashy, half fine, half rain sort of day! like meat that is neither hot nor cold! I never could abide it. This is your true season for foolery; a jest cuts like the weather, through and through one; and now to confess-quite entre nous—the door is close shut-to speak it honestly, wouldn't you as soon see a ghost in your chimney corner as a learned Grecian, or a professor of philosophy? Do not we all meet round the Christmas fire to be merry and play the fool, as if old father wisdom had just broken up school, and it was the first hour of our holidays. If you have only one tooth in your mouth that is sound, or one hair upon your head that is not grey, you must, my dear reader, confess to this and ten times more— -perhaps even to blind-man's-buff, and kissing beneath the mistletoe.-Hot cockles and Hunt the slipper are out of fashion, or I should not scruple to add them to the catalogue.
Six Months must pass before we can meet so familiarly again in preface, allowing that you travel through my next six numbers, for I am something like a stage coachman, who sees nothing of his passengers but when the vehicle stops, and it becomes a question whether the traveller will go under his guidance any farther. This indeed, is now the question between us; have you liked the road and the rate of travelling? Our horses do not gallop, but they amble at a very pretty pace, and the scenery though not magnificent is interesting. We have not climbed the Alps it is true, nor seen cataracts, but we have gone through a very lively gardenground, tolerably diversified by slopes and woods; with here and there a fragment of ancient times, which though not inhabited by ghosts, has given a pleasing effect to the prospect. Shall we therefore travel on together? Think for a moment, my dear reader, for I should be loath to lose you, till I have fairly gone my journey. To drop all metaphor and speak in sober sadness, I have done my best to please. If, then I have failed, that failure may cause regret, but it must always be softened by the reflection, that if industry could have commanded success, I had certainly been successful.
FLOWERS OF LITERATURE;
ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF ANECDOTE.
"Nihil legebat quod non excerperet."
A CRITICAL ESSAY ON
GOETHE'S FAUSTUS.-A TRAGEDY.
THE history of Faustus is familiar to most readers, whose studies have gone beyond the horn-book: in England it has afforded to Marlowe materials for a Tragedy, and in Germany, to Lessing, long before the present work of Goethe; but, prior to all these writers, Faustus has figured in the puppet-shows of either country; indeed, like the tales of Jack the Giant Killer, Fortunatus, and other similar worthies, it is, and has long been, an heir-loom in the civilized world; and, while in one shape it has delighted the nursery, in another it has been the amusement of older. heads and more sober fancies. Stript of the fables that time has twined round it, as it twines the green moss round the oak, the story is simply this:-Faustus, called by the Germans, Faust, invented, or is said to have invented, the Art of Printing; an art, which, as it went beyond the understanding of his cotemporaries, they wisely concluded must have been borrowed from the Devil. In its principle, this is the story of Prometheus told again,-though its facts are different. In either case, the very essential feature of the tale is, a powerful mind struggling for information, and running so far before its age in attainment, as at once to excite its awe and its hatred; a union which, when it takes place in the public mind, generally engenders a charge of blasphemy. But the illustration of this principle, is not confined to the Prometheus of Greece, or the Faustus of Germany it occurs a hundred times, and in a hundred shapes, in the Eastern Tales. It is even of older origin; it is the antique story of the first man plucking the forbidden fruit. Ignorance, indeed, was a law in the reVOL. I.
ligion of other times, and he who dared to transgress that law, was either a robber of the Gods, or a friend of the evil Spirit, according to the faith of the age and nation. The, darkness of Polytheism seems for a long time to have thrown its shadows over the light of Christianity-from the Naiads, Wood-Gods, and other divinities of classic and barbarous nations, arose the Nixies, Forest-Fiends, Gnomes, Cloud Kings, and the whole troop of more modern elementary agents. Woden, Jupiter, and their kindred, were no longer looked upon as the movers of the elements, but mankind were not a whit nearer to the truth; they had left one error only to embrace another;-devils had succeeded to Deities, and were the supposed rulers of the woods and the sea,—the clouds and the tempests. These hideous figures have been at last only dislodged by philosophy, which, by finding causes for the operations of the elements, rendered supernatural services superfluous. The subject is curious in itself, and well deserves more attention than we can now bestow upon it, without neglecting our author :-to him and his work we
It is upon the fiction, and not upon the real history, of Faustus, that Goëthe has founded his tragedy; or, to speak more correctly, his tragic poem; for, as we shall hereafter see, it is only calculated for the closet. His Hero is a trafficker in unholy things; a practical student of the forbidden arts; and it is not that he only bears this reputation; the fact is so; the reality corresponds with the report. Goëthe sets before us a human being, who, by means scarcely intelligible, evokes the evil spirits, as a master, at the hazard of finally becoming their slave; but the work will speak best for itself.
The Faustus of Goethe, in direct, though unacknowledged, imitation of the Faustus of Marlowe, runs through all the sciences, and finds their emptiness: but the restless spirit within him will not so be satisfied,-what he has inhaled from the fount of knowledge, irritates, not quenches his thirst; and he feels the circle of his study, the world itself, painfully too narrow for him! The sun shines too feebly upon him; nature fails before his ambition. At first, his indignation is poured forth in satire more nervous than poetical; till, at last, his eye is attracted by the moonlight which falls upon his writing desk, and then his language changes to a