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Meantime, whilst we ascribe the high merits of truthfulness to this poetry, we are to say in honesty that when the poet fails, it is by departure from it. We think we find in certain passages a breaking faith with the reader, a certain want of intellectual integrity, which clouds and embarrasses the poem. He begins with one design, and the suggestion of a rhyme or an image diverts him from his first purpose, and the piece loses unity of character and impression, however cunningly the transition and change of argument is covered up.
We must not extend our criticism to the analysis or quotation of particular poems further than we have already done, though we are much tempted by
that palette of costly colors, the song of "The Sibyl to her Lover." It is, we fear, an example of the poetic infidelity just spoken of, that here the author's fancy was too strong for him, himself up to the delight of improvisand after a struggle or two, he gave ing, or, as we say in music, of fantasying on the piano, to see what would come of it. Yet it is like a quarry of gems, and will easily win grace for its poetic invention.
We regret, moreover, many inferior blemishes, such as some quite needless licenses or negligences of speech and imperfect sentences, some unnecessary irregularities of metre, and redundant or defective lines. One of the most pleasing pieces is the "Earth-Spirit," from which the following extract, with which we conclude our notice of this rare and delicate volume, may remind the reader of Herrick (quite unconsciously, we are sure, on the part of the author).
Smile in the red of glowing morn elate; I bind the caverns of the sea with hair, Glossy, and long, and rich as king's estate;
I polish the green ice, and gleam the wall With the white frost, and leaf the brown trees tall."
THE TWO FAUSTS.*
THE history of the life and death of Dr. Faustus, who sold himself to the devil, once gave a tragedy to the British stage, long amused the nursery, and within the last half-century has been made, by the genius of the German Goethe, to furnish food for reflection to every thinking man of letters. In the following essay to examine the two great dramas which have been built upon the legend, the writer must begin by warning the reader, that Goethe is to him a sealed volume. Our first acquaintance with his Faustus was through the French of M. Stapfer of Belgium; this, with the English version of Dr. Anster, we humbly presume to hope, gives a thorough idea of the original. Every important passage has been subjected to a new translation by dissatisfied scholars, but we apprehend that the differences which exist between them are rather characteristic of the peculiar train of thought of the correcting critic, than the detection or correction of serious error. We have, for example, a translation of the Walpurgis Night, by Shelly, varying considerably from that of Dr. Anster; and yet this gentleman does not hesitate to say in his preface, that had he not anticipated the publication of Shelly's poem, he should have hazarded asking the permission of his relatives to reprint the fragments from his poems, rather than venture himself on a translation. Confessing thus candidly our ignorance of the original, we must pray the reader to put as much faith in Dr. Anster as we do ourselves, and shall not hereafter apologize for quoting from his book.
Of the original legend we must also acknowledge our ignorance. Some time about 1590,† "The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus," written by Kit Marlowe, was
Faustus, a Dramatic Mystery. Anster, LL.D. London. 1835.
exhibited by the Lord Admiral's servants. Marlowe, whose brief career of thirty-one years was in point of time contemporaneous with Shakspeare, is as an author or dramatist his predecessor. His is the first great name in the annals of British dramatic literature. He helped to found the stage, and then sank into obscurity, his light being dimmed by the superior lustre of his immortal successor. The excellency of Faustus was undoubted, but it was forgotten in the surpassing greatness of Hamlet and Macbeth. The legend again resumed its dominion in the nursery and around the winter's hearth, until the great German poet invested it with a new dignity, and it then began to be recollected that an English poet had formerly handled the same subject. A brief notice of each is the object of the present article.
There is not, however, much ground whereon to institute a comparison between the two poems. The English poem is a tragedy, written for the stage, and formerly acted. The German has very little more of the drama about it than the dialogue, the scenery, and what may be called stage directions. The English drama has all the simplicity of the sixteenth century, the German all the refinement of the nineteenth. The Faustus of Marlowe is a man, a mere man; a man in all his strength, and in all his weakness; a man who claims our sympathy even while he sins, for his sins are natural, tangible, and (for it is hard to rid ourselves of hereditary superstitions) possible. The hero of Goethe is, we think, something less than a man. Profoundly learned, he is yet the slave of profound ignorance. The Faustus of Marlowe knows that sorrow must follow sin, and justly reproaches no one but himself for his own misery; that
• The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, written by Ch. Marlowe. 1590.
Translated from the German of Goethe. By John
† Marlowe was slain in May, 1593, by Francis Archer.
The royal theatres were not patented until the accession of James I. Before that time the theatres were under the patronage of some powerful nobleman.
of the German, on the contrary, seems never to consider himself aught but as a puppet in the leading-strings of his master, and showers unavailing reproaches upon his infernal guide for every mishap which common sense should teach him to be the inevitable result of his own folly. The Faustus of Marlowe is at least blinded by sin, that of Goethe sins by shutting his own eyes. The English poet seems to have had a keen sense of the truth of divine revelation, the German to have viewed it as an object of cold and wordy criticism,—
The emptiness of human learning fills the mind of Marlowe's Faustus with dissatisfaction and disgust. misunderstanding of a text of Scripture wherein all men are included under sin drives him to despair, and tempts him to add to his other sins the deeper one of magic. We have said that he was blinded by sin. We do not desire to enter into a theological controversy on the influence of sin over a man's conduct. The apprehension of the consequences of sins already committed, involves him more deeply :
"Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death,
By desperate thoughts against Jove's deity."
Mephostophilis.-Unhappy spirits that live with Lucifer,
Conspired against our God with Lucifer,
Faustus.-Where are you damned?
art out of hell?
I out of it.
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
of his vanity, as well as the reasons In Faustus's reply we have a trait which urge him to bargain with Lucifer, notwithstanding the terrible truths revealed by the demon :
"Faustus.-What! is great Mephostophilis so passionate
For being deprived of the joys of heaven! Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude, And scorn those joys thou never shalt possess.
Go, bear these tidings to great Lucifer :
The good and bad angels of Faustus enter the lists. The one urges him onward, the other admonishes repentance and prayer. Even the devil dares not lie. When asked what good the possession of Fautus's soul would do lamen miseris socios habuisse doloris," to Lucifer, the candid answer is, “ Soa phrase best translated by the vulgar adage-" "Misery loves company. Wealth and honors, sensual delights, gain the victory over the better angel of the unfortunate Doctor, and the compact with Lucifer is signed, sealed, and delivered with all the formalities of a regular legal transaction.
* The modern name. Marlowe calls him Mephostophilis.
Let us now turn to the German drama. We pass over the prologue, evidently borrowed from the book of Job. It is difficult to avoid the idea of blasphemy in perusing it, and yet perhaps it would be difficult to produce a sentence or even a line, which would warrant the accusation. The admirers of Goethe defend him by the example of the earlier dramatists, who abound in similar scenes. This defence would be conclusive were the poem contemporary with those whose example is quoted to defend it. The moral sentiments are progressive; the preacher who should now use the language of Olivier Maillard, would be deprived of his pulpit. Yet Maillard was no unworthy precursor of Luther. But to return from our digression: Mephistopheles asks and obtains from God permission to tempt his servant Faustus. It is impossible not to fall into the track of every critic on Faustus, and inquire what was the grand idea intended to be conveyed by the writer. A great critic himself, the poet is in spite of ourselves made to pass through the same ordeal to which he has subjected others. If in Marlowe we find that he has dealt out poetical justice, we care very little about the moral. In Goethe, on the contrary, we care little for any sort of poetical justice, but involuntarily ask what system of philosophy the poet intends to inculcate. We naturally look for this in the prologue. Faustus is held forth as a good man. He is the servant of Der Herr, and he, at least, in giving permission for the temptation of his servant, announces a sentiment which we cannot avoid believing is to be the moral of the poem, but which is singularly and fatally falsified at every step in the subsequent career of the subject of the experiment:
"From his source divert And draw this spirit captive down with thee, Till baffled, and in shame thou dost admit, A good man, clouded though his senses be By error, is no willing slave to it. His consciousness of good, will it desert The good man ?-yea, even in his darkest
Still doth he war with darkness, and the
Of darkness; for the light he cannot see Still round him feels; and if he be not free, Struggles against this strange captivity."
Marlowe, as we have already seen, makes Faustus embrace the study of magic from despair at the consequences of sin. The Faustus of Goethe is introduced to us as a proficient in the black art. At his call, spirits answer from the " vasty deep," and he holds familiar converse with them. He is oppressed with a sense of the littleness of his own nature, the natural limits to the acquisition of knowledge drives him to distraction. Life to him is clothed in the darkest habiliments. The same unhealthy spirit which made Childe Harold imagine himself unhappy, or rather which prevented him from becoming happy, is our hero's. And here we see a marked difference between the terms of the compact he makes with Lucifer, and that entered into by the hero of the English dramatist. The latter, undisturbed by the self-inflicted woes of a sickly imagination, barters for pleasure. Viewing eternity as lost, he makes an effort to enjoy time. The former, on the contrary, defies the power of Lucifer even for worldly pleasure:
affords him no solace against his own consciousness of his inferiority. deep sentiment of humility would have directed him into the path of happiness. But he aspires to climb to a higher sphere through the portal of death; and he madly proposes to inflict death upon himself.
"Find life where others fear to die; Take measure of thy strength, and burst
Burst wide the gate of liberty;
Show by man's acts, man's spirit durst Meet God's own eyes, and wax not dim; Stand fearless face to face with Him!"
Our limits will not permit us to follow him through the beautiful and melancholy monologues with which the drama opens; but we must make room for the following scene, in which the recollection of his infancy snatches the fatal goblet from his lips. Presumption makes him dare to be a suicide, a beautiful touch of nature recalls him to life:
-My last draught this on earth I dedicate,
(And with it be my heart and spirit borne!) A festal off'ring to the rising morn. (He places the goblet to his mouth.)
Bells heard and voices in chorus. EASTER HYMN.-CHORUS OF ANGELS.
Christ is from the grave arisen !
Faustus.-Oh those deep sounds! those voices rich and heavenly! How powerfully they sway the soul, and force
The cup uplifted from the eager lips! Proud bells, and do your peals already ring To greet the joyous dawn of Easter morn? And ye, rejoicing choristers, already Flows forth your solemn song of consola
That song, which once from angels' lips resounding
Around the midnight of the grave, was heard The pledge and proof of a new covenant!
Hymn continuel.-Chorus of women.
We lail him for burial
His children and friends
CHORUS OF ANGELS. The Lord hath arisen! Sorrow no longer; Temptation hath tried him, But he was the stronger. Happy, happy victory!
Love, submission, self-denial Mark'd the strength'ning agony; Mark'd the purifying trial.
The grave is no prison :
Faustus.-Soft sounds that breath of hea
What seek ye here? Why will ye come ven! most mild, most powerful,
In dusky gloom immers'd? Oh! rather speak
To hearts of soft and penetrable mould !
And yet, from youth, familiar with the sounds,
E'en now they call me back again to life; Oh! once, in boyhood's time, the love of heaven
Came down upon me with mysterious kiss, Hallowing the stillness of the sabbathday!
Then did the voices of those bells, melodious,
Mingle with hopes and feelings mystical; And prayer was then, indeed, a burning joy!
Feelings resistless, incommunicable, Drove me a wanderer through fields and woods.
The tears gushed hot and fast-then was the birth
Of a new life and a new birth for me; These bells announced the merry sports of youth,
This music welcomed in the merry spring; And old Remembrance, twining round And now am I once more a little child, Forbids this act, and checks my daring my heart, steps
Then sing ye forth-sweet songs that breathe of heaven!
Tears come, and Earth hath won her child again."
We shall not follow the Doctor through the various scenes offered to