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markable drama, which, amidst all its merits, has many passages, and suggests many ideas, which are scarcely within the limits of the pleasurable in poetry; but we subjoin a scene or two, from its commencement, which beautifully depict the feelings of a mind satiated with all worldly knowledge, and aspiring to penetrate mysteries which are wisely put beyond the comprehension of man. The story of Faustus, the daring student who made a compact with the powers of darkness, was treated by other German poets before Goethe: and it is the subject of a very remarkable drama by Marlowe, the early contemporary of Shakspere. Goethe was born in 1749; died in 1832.]
Faustus. River and rivulet are freed from ice
In Spring's affectionate inspiring smile-
Green are the fields with promise-far away
To the rough hills old Winter hath withdrawn
Strengthless—but still at intervals will send
Light feeble frosts, with drops of diamond white,
Mocking a little while the coming bloom-
Still soils with showers of sharp and bitter sleet,
In anger impotent, the earth's
But the sun suffers not the lingering snow-
Everywhere life—everywhere vegetation-
All nature animate with glowing hues-
Or, if one spot be touched not by the spirit
Of the sweet season, there, in colours rich
As trees or flowers, are sparkling human dresses !
Turn round, and from this height look back upon
The town; from its black dungeon gate forth pours,
In thousand parties, the gay multitude,
All happy, all indulging in the sunshine!
All celebrating the Lord's resurrection,
And in themselves exhibiting as 'twere
A resurrection too-so changed are they,
So raised above themselves. From chambers damp
Of poor mean houses—from consuming toil
Laborious—from the workyard and the shop-
From the imprisonment of walls and roofs,
And the oppression of confining streets,
And from the solemn twilight of dim churches-
All are abroad—all happy in the sun.
Look, only look, with gaiety how active,
Thro' fields and gardens they disperse themselves !
How the wide water, far as we can see,
Is joyous with innumerable boats !
See, there, one almost sinking with its load
Parts from the shore; yonder the hill top paths
Are sparkling in the distance with gay dresses !
And hark! the sounds of joy from the far village !
Oh! happiness like this is real heaven!
The high, the low, in pleasure all uniting-
I feel that I too am a man!
Wagner. Doctor, to be with you is creditable-
Instructive too: but never would I loiter
Here by myself “I hate these coarse amusements :
Fiddlers, and clamorous throats, and kettle-drums,
Are to my mind things quite intolerable;
Men rave, as if possessed by evil spirits,
And call their madness joy and harmony !
(Peasants dancing and singing.)
The shepherd for the dance was drest
In ribands, wreath, and Sunday vest;
All were dancing full of glee,
Underneath the lindén tree!
'Tis merry and merry-heigh-ho, heigh-ho,
goes the fiddle-bow!
Soon he runs to join the rest;
Up to a pretty girl he prest;
With elbow raised and pointed toe,
Bent to her with his best bow-
Pressed her hand : with feigned surprise,
Up she raised her timid eyes!
'Tis strange that you
should use me so,
'Tis rude of you to use me so.”
All into the set advance,
Right they dance, and left they dance-
Gowns and ribands how they fling,
Flying with the flying ring ;
They grow red, and faint, and warm,
And rested, sinking, arm-in-arm.
Slow, slow, heigh-ho,
Tired in elbow, foot, and toe! “ And do not make so free,” she said, “ I fear that you may never wed Men are cruel "--and he prest The maiden to his beating breast. Hark! again, the sounds of glee Swelling from the linden tree.
"Tis merry, 'tis merry-heigh-ho, heigh-ho,
Blithe goes the fiddle-bow !
Old Peasant. This, doctor, is so kind of you,
A man of rank and learning too ;
Who, but yourself, would condescend
Thus with the
poor man's friend,
To join our sports ? In this brown cheer
Accept the pledge we tender here,
A draught of life may it become,
And years on years, oh! may you reach,
As cheerful as these beads of foam,
As countless, too, a year for each!
Faustus. Blest be the draught restorative!
I pledge you-happy may you live!
[The people collect in a circle round him.
Faustus. A few steps farther, and we reach yon stone; Here sit we down, and rest after our walk;Here have I often sate in thoughtful mood Alone—and here in agonies of prayer, And fast, and vigil-rich in hope-in faith Unwavering—sought with tears and sighs, and hands Wringing in supplication, to extort From Him in heaven that He would stay that plague. These praises come upon my ear like scornOh, could
you read the secrets of this heart, You then would see how little we deserved,
Father or son, the thanks of these poor people.
My father, a reserved and moody man,
Not without pride, felt by himself and others,
Living almost alone, held strange opinions
Tinged with the hues of his peculiar mind,
And, therefore, even the more indulged and cherished.
Thus fanciful, and serious in his fancies,
O'er nature and her consecrated circles,
That with vain interdict sought to oppose,
Oft would he try his wild experiments :
In his black cell with crucible and fire
(One or two adepts his sole company)
He toiled; and, following many a quaint receipt,
Would force rebellious metals to obey,
And in indissoluble union link
There, passionate adorer, the Red Lion
With the White Lily, in a tepid bath
Was strangely wedded--and his silver bride
And he fromechamber hurried on to chamber,
Tortured and tried with many a fiery pang,
Suffered together, till in coloured light,
Ascending in the glass, shone the Young Queen:
This was our medicine--they who took it died,
None asked, or thought of asking, who recovered.
Thus have we with our diabolic mixture,
In these sweet valleys, 'mong these quiet hills,
Been guests more fatal than the pestilence.
I have myself to thousands given this poison,
They withered, and are dead-and I must live,
I, who have been their death, must live to hear
This lavish praise on the rash murderers.
Wagner. How can this be so painful ? Can a man
Do more than practise what his own day knows-
All that thy father taught must have been heard,
By thee, as by a young man learning then-
Heard in the docile spirit of belief.
When thy time came to teach, thou didst enlarge
The field of science; and thy son, who learns
From thee, will for himself discoveries make,
Greater than thine, perhaps-yet but for thine
Impossible. If this be so, why grieve?
Faustus. Oh, he, indeed, is happy, who still feels,
And cherishes within himself, the hope
To lift himself above this sea
Of things we know not, each day do we find
The want of knowledge-all we know is useless :
But 'tis not wise to sadden with such thoughts
This hour of beauty and benignity:
Look yonder, with delighted heart and eye,
On those low cottages that shine so bright
(Each with its garden plot of smiling green),
Robed in the glory of the setting sun!
But he is parting-fading-day is over-
Yonder he hastens to diffuse new life.
Oh, for a wing to raise me up from earth,
Nearer, and yet more near, to the bright orb,
That unrestrained I still might follow him!
Then should I see, in one unvarying glow
Of deathless evening, the reposing world
Beneath me- -the hills kindling—the sweet vales,
Beyond the hills, asleep in the soft beams;
The silver streamlet, at the silent touch
Of heavenly light, transfigured into gold,
Flowing in brightness inexpressible !
Nothing to stop or stay my godlike motion!
The rugged hill, with its wild cliffs, in vain
Would rise to hide the sun; in vain would strive
To check my glorious course; the sea already,
With its illumined bays, that burn beneath
The lord of day, before the astonished eyes
Opens its bosom—and he seems at last
Just sinking-no-a power unfelt before-
An impulse indescribable succeeds!
Onward, entranced, I haste to drink the beams
Of the unfading light-before me day-