FAUST: A TRAGEDY
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE
WITH NOTES AND PRELIMINARY REMARKS
By JOHN STUART BLACKIE
PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
CAREFULLY REVISED AND LARGELY REWRITTEN
MACMILLAN AND CO.
Versuch ich’s mich so kühnlich hoch zu heben,
Zu den Gefilden reiner Lebensstrahlen?
Und wag’ ich’s frech, mit schwacher Hand zu malen
Was Dir nur ziemt, das buntbewegte Leben?
Wie soll der Kinderzunge lallend Streben
Aussprechen, was des Mannes Kraft gesungen?
Wie soll des Menschen Stimme wiedergeben,
Was aus der tiefen Götterbrust entsprungen?
O! wenn der Liebe ungestümer Drang
Mich trieb, dass ich das Heiligste entweihe,
Und zu berauschter, frecher Sünde zwang;
So schaue Du, aus der Verklärten Reihe,
Aus Himmelsharfen liebevollem Klang,
Und, wenn du mich nicht loben kannst, verzeihe!
The appearance of this Second Edition of my translation of “Faust,” after an interval of more than forty years from the publication of the original edition, may seem to require a word of explanation. Very soon after the issue of the first edition I became convinced that with the usual tendency of ambitious young men, I had allowed my enthusiasm to overrule my discretion, and ventured upon a task that demanded a much riper experience of life, and a much more finished dexterity of execution than was to be expected from a person of my age and capacity. I accordingly passed a verdict of condemnation upon it, and—notwithstanding the more lenient sentence passed on the work by not a few friendly voices—continued to regard it as a juvenile performance, which had done the best service of which it was capable, by teaching me my ignorance. This verdict was confirmed in my mind by the appearance of the admirable version of the same poem by my accomplished friend, Sir Theodore Martin, with whose laurels, thus nobly earned, I was inclined to think it a sort of impertinence to interfere. But, as time went on, and, while I was employing my whole energies on laborious works in quite another sphere, I still continued to hear people, whose judgment I could not altogether despise, praising and quoting my “Faust;” in which partial estimate they were no doubt confirmed by the approval of the late George Lewes, in his classical Life of Goethe, and of the Germans generally, who, from the close intercourse I have always maintained with that people, are inclined to look on my doings in the field of their literature with a specially favourable eye. Under these circumstances, it was only natural for me to imagine that the condemnation I had passed on my first juvenile attempt in verse had perhaps been too severe; and that, after all, I owed it to myself, and to Goethe, and to the noble people with whom I had been from my youth so intimately connected, to give my translation a thorough revisal, and to republish it in a form which might be as worthy of the ambition that such an attempt implied as my literary capability admitted. I accordingly, some four or five years ago, employed the leisure of the summer months in correcting, and in not a few places carefully rewriting, the whole work in the shape in which it now appears.
The principal fault which led me to condemn so severely my early work was a certain deficiency in the easy natural grace, which every one who knows the great German poet must recognise as one of the most attractive characteristics of his composition. This deficiency arose in my case partly from want of experience in the dexterous use of poetical expression, partly from the habit of clinging too closely to the words of the original, which is the natural vice of a young and conscientious translator. Long practice in such matters has now convinced me that a literal version of a great poem never can be a graceful version; and poetry without grace is like painting without colour, or preaching without faith; it lacks the very feature which makes it what it pretends to be, and gives it a right to exist. Those who wish to be minutely curious about the ipsissima verba of a great poem should read a prose translation; the mere want of the rhythmical movement never can deprive the work of its ideal character and elevating influence; and in the case of Faust this has been amply proved by the excellent translation of Mr. Hayward, which, I believe, has now reached a twelfth edition. But the problem of the poetical translator is to give, not the words, but the character of the original; to transfer its spirit, its tone, its salient features, and its rhythmical attitude, into another tongue, so far as the capabilities of that other tongue render such a transference possible. This is the principle on which I have worked. It would have been easy for me to have made many passages more literal; but, in doing so, I should have sacrificed the freedom of handling, without which I am convinced that graceful ease and naturalness in rhythmical composition is impossible.
There are some peculiarities in the rhythm of Faust to which it may be as well specially to call the attention of the English reader. While the fundamental metre is the octosyllabic Iambic, there is a liberal use of the decasyllabic line, whenever the dignity of the subject seems to require it, and not seldom, too, I fancy, from a fine instinct which Goethe had to avert what Byron calls “the fatal facility” of the octosyllabic stanza. This facility the German poet counteracts also in another way, by the variety of the places to which he attaches his rhyme; the couplet being constantly varied with the quatrain, and that either in the way of the alternate lines rhyming, or the first with the fourth, and the second with the third. But a still more characteristic feature in the rhythm of Faust is the frequent use of the Alexandrian line of twelve syllables, and that, not as Pope and Dryden use it, for giving greater volume and swell to a closing line, but simply to indulge an easy motion, such as we may imagine a German to delight in, when smoking his pipe and sipping his beer on a mild summer evening, beneath the village lime tree. I request the English reader particularly to note this peculiarity, and generally to tune his ear to the varied flow of Goethe’s easy rhythm; otherwise he will be apt to blame the translator, who certainly is not bound to sacrifice one of the most characteristic features of his author to propitiate the favour of the most ignorant, the most uncultivated, and the most lazy section of his readers. In the strictly lyrical parts of the poem it will be found that, if not with curious minuteness, certainly in general tone and effect, I have carefully followed the movement of the original. To have done otherwise, indeed, would have been difficult for me, to whom the movement of the original, in all its changes, has long been as familiar as the responses of the Church Service to a devout Episcopalian. Only let the reader not expect from me any attempt to give back on every occasion the trochaic rhymes or double endings, as we call them, of the original. Such an attempt will only be made by the writer who is more anxious to gain applause by performing a difficult feat, than to ensure grace by conforming to the plain genius of the language in which he writes.
J. S. B.
1st October 1880.
The story of Dr. Faustus and the Devil is one of such deep human significance, and, from the Reformation downwards, of such large European reputation, that in giving some account of its origin, character, treatment, legendary and poetical, I shall seem to be only gratifying a very natural curiosity on the part of the intelligent reader.
We, who live in the nineteenth century, in a period of the world’s intellectual development, which may be called the age of spiritual doubt and scepticism, in contradistinction to the age of faith and reverence in things traditional, which was first shaken to its centre by the violent shock of the Reformation, can have little sympathy with the opinions as to spiritual beings, demoniacal agency, magic, and theosophy, that were so universally prevalent in the sixteenth century. We believe in the existence of angels and spirits, because the Scriptures make mention of such spiritual beings; but this belief occupies a place as little prominent in our theology, as its influence is almost null in regard to actual life. In the sixteenth century, however, Demonology and Angelography were sciences of no common importance; and were, too, a fruitful root whence the occult lore of the sages, and the witch, ghost, and magic craft of the many took their rise, and spread themselves out into a tree, whose branches covered the whole earth with their shadow. From the earliest Christian fathers, to the last lingering theosophists of the seventeenth century, we can trace a regular and unshaken system of belief in the existence of infinite demons and angels in immediate connection with this lower world, with whom it was not only possible, but of very frequent occurrence, for men to have familiar intercourse. Psellus,[i1] the “prince of philosophers,” does not disdain to enter into a detailed account of the nature and influence of demons, and seems to give full faith to the very rankest old wives’ fables of dæmones incubi et succubi, afterwards so well known in the trials for witchcraft which disgraced the history of criminal law not more than two centuries ago. Giordano Bruno, the poet, the philosopher, and free-thinker of his day, to whom the traditionary doctrines of the Church were as chaff before the wind, was by no means free from the belief in magic, the fixed idea of the age in which he lived. “O! quanta virtus,” says he, in all the ebullition of his vivid fancy, “O quanta virtus est intersectionibus circulorum et quam sensibus hominum occulta!!! cum caput draconis in sagittario exstiterit, diacedio lapide posito in aqua, naturaliter (!) spiritus ad dandum responsa veniunt.”[i2] The comprehensive mind of Cornelius Agrippa, the companion of kings and of princes, soon sprung beyond the Cabbalistical and Platonical traditions of his youth; but not less is his famous book “De Philosophia Occulta” a good specimen of the intellectual character of the age in which he lived. The noted work “De Vanitate Scientiarum” is a child of Agrippa, not of the sixteenth century. The names of Cardan, Campanella, Reuchlin, Tritheim, Pomponatius, Dardi, Mirandula, and many others, might be added as characteristic children of the same spirit-stirring era; all more or less uniting a strange belief in the most baseless superstitions, with deep profundity of thought, and comprehensive grasp of erudition.
To understand fully the state of belief in which the intellect of the sixteenth century stood in regard to magic, astrology, theosophy, etc., it will be necessary to cast an eye back to the early history of Christianity and philosophy.
There can, in the first place, be no doubt that the genius of the Christian religion is completely adverse to that exaggerated and superstitious belief in the power of the Devil and Evil Spirits, which was so prevalent in the first ages of the Church, and increased to such a fearful extent in the Middle Ages. The Jewish religion, too, was founded on the great and fundamental doctrine that there is but one God, as opposed to the Hindoo and Persian notion of conflicting divinities, so universally spread over the East; and all the wild waste of doctrines concerning demons (διδασκαλίαι δαιμονίων, 1 Tim. iv. 1), with which the fertility of Rabbinical invention overran the fair garden of Mosaic theology, has been very properly relegated by German divines to its true source, the Babylonish captivity. Such, however, is the proneness of human reason to all sorts of superstition, that, though the New Testament Scriptures expressly declare[i3] that Jesus Christ came to annihilate the power, and destroy the works of the Devil, the monotheism of primitive Christianity was, in a few centuries, magnified into a monstrous system of demonological theology, little better than Oriental Dualism. The declension to this superstition was so much the more easy, as there were not wanting certain passages of Scripture (Eph. ii. 2, and vi. 12; 2 Thess. ii. 9), which ignorant and bigoted priests could easily turn to their own purposes, in magnifying this fancied power of the great enemy of man. A man like Del Rio would find devils within the walls of the New Jerusalem; so wonderfully sharp is his Jesuitical nose to scent out even the slightest motion of infernal agency.
The Gnostic and Manichæan heresies which infested the Church during the first five or six centuries could not be without their influence in exalting the power of the principle of evil; but writers of a far more philosophical character and more sober tone than those Oriental heresiarchs cannot be exempted from the charge of having contributed fairly to the same result. Of those fathers of the Church who did not, like Arnobius and Lactantius, exclaim against all philosophy, as opposed to the simplicity of the gospel, the greater number belonged to the Alexandrian school of Neo-Platonists, who, with all their sublime idealism, are known to have cherished, with a peculiar fondness, some of the most childish and superstitious notions to which philosophic mysticism has given birth. No lover of piety and virtue springing from a high and soul-ennobling philosophy, but must love and reverence the memory of such names as Proclus, Plotinus, and Jamblichus. It cannot, however, be denied that the overstrained ideas of these pure spirits went a great way to promote the growth of the prevalent superstitions with regard to theurgy and magic. The life of Plotinus seems, from the account given by Porphyry, to have been considered by himself and his admirers as an uninterrupted intercourse with spiritual intelligences, yea, with the one original Spirit himself; and in the Enneads of this prince of philosophic mystics, we have already fully developed all that system of mutual sympathies and antipathies, of concords and discords, between the all-animated parts of that mighty animal the World, which so readily allowed themselves to be worked into a system of practical theurgy and magic. Jamblichus, again, was not only a mystical philosopher, who sought to arrive at union (ἕνωσις) with the Divine Being by intellectual contemplation, but a magician and theurgist, as his work on the Egyptian mysteries, and the many legends told of him by his biographers, sufficiently prove.
I have been thus particular in holding forth the decidedly magical and theurgic character of the Alexandrian School of Platonists, in the second and third centuries, as it is easy to perceive that the revival of the Platonic, or rather Neo-Platonic philosophy, on occasion of the restoration of learning in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, had a principal share in the formation of the theosophic and magical views of the sixteenth century, which it is my intention here to characterise. The world had become heartily sick of the eternal boom-booming of the Aristotelian bitterns.[i4] The hungry spirit of man, aroused from its lethargic slumber, demanded some more vital nourishment than the skeleton distinctions of a thought-dissecting logic, and the vain pomposity of a learned terminology, could afford; and when such men as Dante, Petrarch, and Boccacio had taught the world to prefer the fulness of poetical life to the nakedness of scholastic speculation, no wonder that Plato, Plotinus, and Proclus, when brought into the West by the learned fugitives of Constantinople, should have received a hearty welcome, and exercised a deep-spread influence over the philosophy of the succeeding centuries. Gemistus Pletho, Bessarion, and Marsilius Ficinus, are well known as the three principal restorers of the Platonic philosophy in the fifteenth century: but it deserves especially to be remarked, that these men were far from being pure worshippers of their great master, but mixed it up with the theurgic dreamings of Jamblichus and Porphyry, nay, even went as far back as Pythagoras and Hermes Trismegistus, and held the simple Platonic doctrines as of comparatively little consequence, unless taken in connection with the mighty system which, out of such strange materials, had been built up by the Neo-Platonists.[i5]
In connection with the revival of the Platonic philosophy in Italy, we cannot omit to mention the name of Reuchlin, whose zeal for cabbalistical studies is said to have been first excited by the famous Johannes Picus Mirandula.[i6] Reuchlin was a German, and is the more interesting to us as the contemporary, or rather the master and instructor of Agrippa, Melancthon, and many celebrated men of the sixteenth century, whose names stand immediately connected with the story of Doctor Faust. To complete the wild dreamings of the Italian Platonists, nothing was now wanting but a revival of the Rabbinical and Talmudistic lore; and Reuchlin, whom Europe still reveres as the father of Hebrew learning in modern Theology, was precisely the man for this purpose. It was natural that the language of the sacred Book should have been considered as containing something mystical and transcendental even in its very letters; and we need not wonder that the enthusiasm of the first Hebrew scholars in Germany should have discovers the key of all the sciences in that cabbalistic lore, which we are now accustomed to use in common discourse, as a synonym for the most childish and unintelligible jargon.
Taking, thus, the prevailing theology of the Church, in connection with the impulse which the human mind had received from the revival of the Platonic philosophy, and the strong reaction, which the risings of independent thought in the breasts of men like Telesius, Campanella, and Bruno, had raised against the long-established despotism of the Aristotelian philosophy,—and all this worked up to a point by the revival of Cabbalism, through Reuchlin and other cultivators of Oriental literature,—we shall have no difficulty in perceiving at once the leading features of the age in which Faust flourished, and the causes which led to their development. We see the human intellect, in being roused into new life from the icy night of scholasticism, surrounded by the glowing but unsubstantial morning-clouds of a philosophy of feeling and imagination. Sufficiently occupied with gazing, child-like, on the hovering shapes that teemed so richly from its new-awakened being, it had no tune, no wish, to enter upon the severe task of conscious manhood, that of criticising its own powers, and defining, with cautious precision, what the mind of man can know, and what it cannot know,—and was thus destined, for a short season, to flounder through the misty regions of theosophy and magic, till it should learn, from experience, to find at once its starting-point and its goal, in the exhaustless fulness of actual Nature.
In such an age, and under the influence of opinions, religious and philosophical, so different from those now prevalent, flourished the mysterious hero of modern magic, whom the pen of Goethe has made, likewise, one of the principal heroes of modern poetry. That a good deal of obscurity should have gathered around such a character,—that the love of the marvellous should have united with the ignorance of the age, in magnifying juggling tricks into miracles of magic, and clouding with a poetical mistiness that which was clear and definite,—is not to be wondered at. But that such a character actually existed, the tradition perpetuated from age to age on its native soil, and found, with little variation, scattered over almost every country, and clothed in almost every language of Europe, is of itself sufficient evidence. Popular legends seldom spring, like the antediluvian and prelapsarian traditions of the Talmudists, or the genealogies of old Celtic families, from mere airy nothingness; and, however contradictory and inconsistent their integrant parts may appear, they have all formed themselves around a nucleus of substantial reality. Nevertheless, as there is nothing so absurd which has not been asserted by some one of the philosophers, so there have not been wanting men of learning and investigation, who have seriously set themselves to the task of proving away the personality of the renowned Doctor Faust.[i7] But to detect a few chronological inaccuracies in the common popular legend, and to hold out to merited contempt the silliness, and even the impossibility of many things contained in it, may afford an opportunity for the display of a pedantic erudition, but can give no ground for the sweeping conclusion that the person, of whom these stories are told, did actually never exist. The monks were clever fellows; but, with all their ability, they would have found it difficult to invent such a story as Faust—so generally believed—out of mere nothing. The sceptics themselves are sensible of this; and, accordingly, Dürr, the chief of them, while he denies the personality of Faust the magician, endeavours to give a probable reason for the prevalence of the story, by throwing the whole burden upon the back of Faust the printer, father-in-law of Peter Schoeffer, and fellow-workers both of Guttenburg,—the famous trio, among whom the honour of the invention of printing is divided. The envy of the monks, acting on the ignorance of the age, here comes most opportunely into play, to explain how the inventor of such a novel art of multiplying books should have been generally accounted a magician. There can, indeed, be little doubt that he was so accounted by many ignorant people; and as this idea is sufficiently poetical, Klingemann has taken advantage of it in his tragedy of Doctor Faust.[i8] The main objection, however, on the face of this theory, is, that all the legends of Faust agree in placing the hero of magic fully half a century later than Faust the printer, who flourished about 1440. It is true, indeed, that some of the Volksbücher (vide Dürr, ut supra) ascribe to the Emperor Maximilian, what is generally told of Charles V., viz. that Doctor Faust conjured up before him the apparitions of Alexander the Great and his queen; but the other tricks, which were played before Cardinal Campegio and Pope Adrian, agree better with the age of Charles V. than with that of Maximilian. It is quite possible, however, that Faust may have exhibited his magical skill before both these emperors, whose reigns occupied the space from 1492 to 1558, Maximilian dying in 1519; for even the date of Maximilian will never bring us back to the era when Faust the printer was in his glory.
The personality of Faust, however, is not left to rest upon the mere traditionary evidence of the vulgar legend. The diligence of German antiquaries, even before Goethe’s Faust gave importance to the theme, had collected many trustworthy historical testimonies in confirmation of the common belief. Dürr’s Letter on this subject is dated 1676; and, not seven years afterwards, appeared Neumann’s historical disquisition De Fausto praestigiatore. This essay I have not seen at full length; but from the epitome given of it by Hauber (Bibliotheca Magica, vol. ii. p. 706), I fear that there may be but too much cause for the remark of Heumann,[i9] that “it smacks too much of the young graduate.” It was certainly a very pious motive that induced Neumann, a student of Wittenberg, to attempt removing from his alma mater the shame of having given birth, or even education, to such a notorious character as Doctor Faust; but truth often forces us to admit what fondest prejudice would fain deny. The next critical essay on Faust, is that of Heumann, just quoted, in Hauber’s Library of Magic, and it contains the most important of these historical testimonies to the truth of the Faustish legend, which have since been so comprehensively exhibited in one work by Doctor Stieglitz.[i10]
As all the traditions agree in representing Faust as haying studied at Wittenberg, and there, too, exhibited a number of magical tricks to his good friends the students, it was natural to suspect that Luther or Melancthon should, somewhere or other, make mention of such a notorious character. And, accordingly, Stieglitz follows Horst (Zauber-Bibliotheck, vi. 87) in asserting that Melancthon actually does make mention of Doctor Faust in one of his epistles; but as neither of these writers cites the passage, or mentions in what particular part of Melancthon’s work it is to be found, I barely mention this circumstance on their authority. There is, however, very great probability that the testimony of Joannes Manlius, in his Collectanea, the principal one relied on both by Heumann and Stieglitz, is, in reality, to be considered as a testimony of Melancthon. Manlius himself[i11] says of his Collectanea, “Labor hic noster collectus ex ore D. Phillippi Melanchthonis allisque clarissimis viris,” and might, on this account, as Heumann remarks, have fitly been named Melancthoniana, or Melancthon’s Table-Talk. But be this as it may, Manlius’ testimony is most decided, and runs as follows:—“I was acquainted with a certain person, called Faust of Kundling, a small town in Wurtemberg. He was a Cracovian Scholasticus, and read lectures on magic in the university there. He was a great rambler (vagabatur passim), and possessed many secrets. At Venice, wishing to amuse the populace, he boasted that he would fly up to heaven. The devil accordingly wafted him up a certain height, but dashed him down again in such a plight, that he lay half-dead on the ground. A few years ago, the same John Faust, on the last day of his life, was found sitting in the common inn of a certain village in the Duchy of Wittenberg. He was, indeed, a most vile blackguard (turpissimus nebula), of a most filthy life, so much so, indeed, that he once and again almost lost his life on account of his excesses. The landlord of the inn asked him why he sat there so sad, contrary to his wont? “Be not terrified if you shall hear anything on this night,” was his short answer. And at midnight the house was shaken. Next morning, near mid-day, as Faust did not make his appearance, the landlord entered into his chamber, and found him lying beside his bed, with his face on the ground, having been so slain by the devil. When he was yet alive, he was accompanied by a dog, which was the devil. … This Faust the magician, a most vile beast, and a common sewer of many devils (cloaca multorum diabolorum), was also a great boaster, and pretended that all the victories of the Imperial armies in Italy were gained by the help of his magic.”[i12] With this account agrees exactly that given by Wier,[i13] the disciple and confidant of the celebrated Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. Del Rio,[i14] who wrote at the end of the sixteenth century, introduces him along with the same Agrippa, playing tricks on the poor landlords, with whom they sojourned in their vagabond excursions, by paying them with money which turned into crumbs and chaff, whenever the magicians were out of sight; but his connection with such a philosopher as Agrippa is much to be doubted, as Wier has not even hinted at it in the passage where he treats expressly of the Doctor.
The only other contemporary writer from whom I shall quote at length, is Begardi[i15] whose book, Zeyger der Gesundheit,” was published in 1539, and contains the following interesting testimony to the age and character of Faust, which I give here from the German, as it stands in Dr. Stieglitz’s essay.
“There is yet a celebrated character whom I would rather not have named; but since I must mention him, I will tell what I know of him in a few words. Some years ago this man passed through almost all lands, princedoms, and kingdoms, making his name known to everybody, and making great show of his skill, not in medicine only, but in chiromancy, necromancy, physiognomy, visions in crystals, and such like. And in these things he not only acquired great notoriety, but also obtained the name of a famous and experienced master. He did not conceal his name, but called himself Faust, and used to subscribe himself philosophus philosophorum. But of those who were cheated by him, and complained of the same to me, there is a great multitude. His promise was great like that of Thessalus in Galen’s days, as also his fame like that of Theophrastus;[i16] but his deeds, as I have heard, were almost always found to be very petty and deceitful, though he was, to speak plainly, not slow at giving, and especially taking, money, as many a worthy person had cause to know. But now the matter is not to be remedied; past is past, and gone is gone. I must even leave the matter as it is; and see thou to it, that thou treat it as a good Christian ought to do.”
Thus far Begardi in his honest naïve language. Heumann cites further a long passage from Tritheim’s Epistolæ Familiares,[i17] describing a character altogether similar to that above described by Manlius and Begardi; with this remarkable difference, that he is not called Doctor John Faust, as he is by Manlius, and in all the vulgar traditions, but “Magister Georgius Faustus Sabellicus, Faustus Junior.” I think Stieglitz has been too precipitate in concluding that difference in the name must necessarily imply a difference in the person. The vagabond wonder-workers of those days were wont to have a number of names, as the example of Paracelsus alone is sufficient to show. With regard to the denomination of “Faustus junior,” this cannot certainly refer to our John Faust, with whom this George (if he was a different person) must have been contemporary. It probably relates to Faust the printer, who has also been accused of magic, or to some other Faust of the fifteenth century, whose fame has been now swallowed up in that of Doctor John Faust of Wittenberg.
Camerarius and Gesner[i18] also make mention of Doctor Faust; but let the passages already quoted suffice to prove the historical reality of our magical hero.
Joining together these historical testimonies and the popular traditions, it is not difficult to come to a pretty accurate conclusion as to the real character of Doctor Faust. He appears to have been a man of extensive learning, especially in medical and astrological, perhaps too in philological and theological, science. But, driven by a restless spirit, and a vain desire of popular applause, he seems to have early abandoned the calm and steady path that leads to professional eminence, and sought after that noisy but less substantial fame, which his scientific skill was fitted to procure for him in the eyes of the gazing multitude. Many of the greatest philosophers, indeed, as Solomon, Roger Bacon, and Cornelius Agrippa, have been accounted magicians for no other reason than their uncommon wisdom, far surpassing that of the age in which they lived; but there is too much reason to suspect that Faust’s fame as a magician rests upon much more questionable grounds, and the whole account of his life and exploits leaves upon our mind the impression that he was a very clever vagabond quack, rather than a retired and contemplative philosopher. There is much in all that is told of him that recalls to our mind the biography of Paracelsus, a man certainly of great genius, but of much greater impudence, who gained his living by acting upon the folly of mankind.[i19] By all accounts, indeed, Faust was a man of much more distinguished academic learning than Paracelsus, of whom historians even question whether he ever studied at any university; but as a vagabond, a boaster, and a wonder-promiser, the one is perhaps only not superior to the other. With a little knowledge of medicine, a little classical lore, some dexterity in performing sleight-of-hand wonders, and a panoply of assurance, a clever man like Faust or Paracelsus may easily obtain a livelihood, and, what is more, an imperishable name. For such characters a strolling life is at once a pleasure and a necessity. Paracelsus soon lost his chair at Basle,—for a man is never a hero to his valet-de-chambre,—and, if we may believe the common legend, Faust scarcely left a corner of the earth unvisited, and filled Asia and Europe with his renown.
And verily he has had his reward. Since the time of his death, not only Germany, but England, France, and Holland, have swarmed with “prodigious and lamentable histories” of the “great magician John Faust, with his testament and his terrible death.” Magical books under his name have become as famous as those of Solomon;[i20] artists and poets have vied with one another in rendering his name immortal in the annals of Art; tragedies and comedies, puppet-plays and operas, ballads and novels, essays, and dissertations and commentaries, prologues and epilogues, and all the varied paraphernalia of genius and erudition, have been heaped on one another, to adorn the trophy of Doctor John Faustus, the great German quack. The wondrous exploits of Faust are endless, and it would be an endless task to recount the tithe of them. Were I to enter upon an exposition of how Doctor Faust first cited Mephistopheles on a crossroad in the midst of a dark fearful wood near Wittenberg,—how the Devil visited him frequently in his own study in all shapes and sizes,—how the Doctor was, after some hesitation, prevailed on to sell his soul to Lucifer, and to that effect signed a formal bond with blood drawn from his own arm,—how he neglected all the warnings of his good genius, and even the terrible writing that appeared on his wounded arm, Homo Fuge!—how the wily Devil dissuaded him from the quiet of a domestic life, when he wished to marry, that he might drag him into all kinds of licentiousness,—how he forced Mephistopheles to answer all his importunate interrogatories, as to the state of Hell, and the condition of the damned, which the Devil painted in colours as terrible as if he had been an Evangelist of the north-west Highland type,—how Faust was transported into Hell upon the back of Beelzebub, and left floundering through the chaos of the abyss,—how he travelled from star to star, and surveyed all the infinity of worlds, with as much expedition as the imagination of a modern poet,—how he turned astrologer, and vied with the fame of Nostradamus,—how he wandered over the whole world, and saw Rome, which is a city where there is a river called Tiber, and Naples, which is the birthplace of Virgil, who was also a great magician, and caused a passage to be made through the rock of Posilippo, in one night, a whole mile long,—how he played the devil in the Sultan’s seraglio, and passed himself off for Mahomet with the ladies of the palace,—how he sat invisible at the Pope’s banquet, and whipped away all the tit-bits from the plates of Pope Adrian and his assessors of the scarlet stockings, so that his Holiness was obliged to believe that some tormented soul from Purgatory was haunting the Vatican, and ordered prayers to be made accordingly,—how he further showed his enmity to the Church by making secret broaches in the wine-casks of the Bishop of Saltzburg’s cellar, and being on one occasion surprised by the butler, perched the poor wretch upon a tree, where he sprawled like a limed bird for the whole length of a frosty night,—how he called up the apparition of Alexander the Great and his Queen before the Emperor Charles V., who assured himself of the reality of this vision by touching the wart which history reports to have been upon the hero’s neck,—how in like manner he frightened the students of Erfurt by raising the ghost of Polypheme, and bewitched his good friends the students, and himself to boot, by the apparition of the beautiful Helena,—how he bamboozled a boor by promising him a penny for as much hay as he could eat from his waggon, and then swallowing the whole cart-load down, as easily as it had been a spoonful of Sauerkraut,—how he sold a fine horse for a small price to a jockey, who, delighted with the bargain, set off galloping upon this wightest of steeds, till he came to a running stream, in the middle of which, and just where the water was deepest, the animal all at once changed into a bottle of straw, and left the poor rider floundering up to the neck in the flood,—how he caused horns to grow out of a certain freeborn gentleman’s temples, when he was sleeping with his head out of the window, in such a manner that, when he awoke, like an ox in a stile, he could neither move backwards nor forwards,—and how, finally, he at last met with the death which his shameful life merited, and was torn in pieces by the Devil with such violence, that the whole house was shaken as by an earthquake.—To narrate all, or one tithe of these wonderful events, would require more pages than the circulating libraries would tolerate, and far exceed the limits of these introductory remarks. I, however, the less regret that I am unable to enter at length upon this theme, as the task has been already performed, partly by Kit Marlow, and partly by Mr. Roscoe,[i21] in a collection of German tales, which I may presume to be accessible to most of my readers.
Let us ask now what materials this story possesses, which have so recommended it to the genius of modern Europe for a high dramatic treatment; and for an answer to this question happily we have not far to seek. The moral significance of the legend lies on the surface of the popular chap-book; and the dramatic writer who should have omitted it altogether, would have proved himself unworthy of the noble function which he exercises. ’Tis the world-old story of the pride of knowledge, and the impatience of limitation with which that knowledge is often accompanied. “Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malum.” “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The desire to be as God, looking into the soul of things, and commanding the mystical machinery of the universe, is the rank outblossoming of an unchastened intellectual ambition, leading naturally to discontent with the common human limits of the knowable, and to a morbid intermeddling with supernatural powers and forces, in order to lift the lofty speculator, out of the vulgar sphere of confined humanity. This kicking against the bars of finite knowledge is of course rebellion against the constitution of things, disownment of the divine authority which imposed these limitations, and alliance with the Evil Spirit, whom popular belief acknowledges as the incarnation of that spirit of impatience, pride, and presumption, out of which this rebellion springs. Here we have the real motive which gives moral dignity and human interest to the legend of Faust. The compact of the Wittenberg doctor with Mephistopheles is only a striking instance of what is constantly taking place in the thinking world before us, especially in these days of curious microscopic prying into the seeds of things, and pretentious parading of all sorts of dogmatic and negative philosophies, ambitiously engaged in the insane attempt to explain the existence of a reasonable world, independent of a reasonable cause. “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” It is the greed of knowledge, where knowledge is not possible, and the lack of love and reverence, the indispensable conditions of moral sanity, that in ages of dreamy speculation lead to the practice of magic and necromancy, and in days of nice scientific measurement, to a hollow and heartless atheism, clothing itself in the philosopher’s mantle and accepted as wisdom by the unthinking. This aspect of the Faust legend, accordingly, did not escape the notice of Marlow, who has set it forth prominently, if not profoundly, in the opening scene of his drama; a scene which bears, indeed, a striking likeness to the opening scene in Goethe’s poem, in the fashion that a rough-hewn Highland hut is the same sort of thing as a neat English cottage, only in a more rude and unscientific style. A secondary element contained in the Faust legend arises out of the reaction which, in certain natures, is apt to plunge disappointed intellectual ambition into a course of sensual indulgence. The key to the invisible world being denied us, let us make what we can of the visible. If we cannot be as gods in our knowledge, at least let us be men in our enjoyments, as largely and as deeply as to our sensuous nature is allowed; and, to attain this, let us overlook all bounds of vulgar morality and petty propriety; for to acknowledge these would be only to substitute one kind of cribbing limitation for another; and limitation of any kind is what the proud heart of the intellectually ambitious will not accept. But, to scorn all limit and regulation in the exercise of our social instincts is to practice systematic selfishness; in other words, to call in the aid of the author of Evil, to enable us to gratify our sensual passions in the grandest style; which of course leads in the end to the ruin of all parties concerned, and of some who are only accidentally connected with the direct offender. This is the tragedy of Faust, as handled by the great German poet, and handled in a style which bids fair to keep it prominently in the general European eye, as long as Dante’s divine comedy and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But there is another element in the popular legend which both Marlow and Goethe have used, and which stands to the moral kernel of the story, pretty much as the witch atmosphere in which Macbeth moves to Macbeth’s personal career. Faust is a magician, as well as a thinker; and his alliance with the Powers of Evil implied not merely that all sources of sensual gratification should be placed at his disposal; but specially that a power over Nature should be granted him, in virtue of which, by asserting his superiority over the vulgar conditions of space and time, by which humanity is bound, his vanity might be flattered, and his person raised to a platform of public estimation with which neither Pope, nor Kaiser, nor any earthly dignity might contend. Faust, therefore, must appear as an exhibitor of magical tricks; and, as this is the vulgar and shallow element of the legend, it naturally plays the principal part both in the common chap-book, and in the dramatic adaptation of Marlow, whose handling of the legend altogether is commonplace, and, except in some of the lighter parts of sharp repartee, certainly not worthy of his reputation as one of the heralds of Shakespeare in the early history of the great English drama. Goethe, on the other hand, has wisely given these juggling tricks a very subordinate place in his treatment of the legend; the scene in Auerbach’s cellar being, I think, the only thing of the kind directly taken from the chap-book; and brought in also with great wisdom, in order to make it plain that Faust, with all his strongly sensual tendencies, was essentially an intellectual creature, who could not be seduced even by the Devil into any sympathetic fellowship with the pot-companions of a public beer-cellar. He felt, however, strongly, at the same time, that, as in the case of Macbeth, with which he was well acquainted, some wild and grotesque atmosphere was necessary for the magic doctor to figure in when he was not occupied directly with his love adventure; so he followed our great dramatist in making the witches’ cauldron as necessary to his hero’s passion as it was to Macbeth’s ambition; and along with this thoroughly mediæval and altogether appropriate adjunct of the witches’ kitchen, he contrived to bring in afterwards the wild and weird traditions of a supernatural character which attach to the famous Brocken mountain, the central and topmost elevation of the great ridge of the Harz in Northern Germany; thus rooting his poem locally in the fatherland as firmly as Walter Scott did for us in Scotland when he made the soft beauties of Tweedside, and the picturesque grandeur of the Perthshire Highlands, inseparably associated with the creations of his poetic fancy. And this brings me to a fourth element in the legend with which Marlow did not require to concern himself particularly, but which, from a great poet of Goethe’s character and with Goethe’s position, could not receive a perfunctory treatment. If the native home of the whole legend is in all its parts essentially German, most especially German is its connection with Wittenberg, and through it with the German University system. Not only the general speculative tendency so characteristic of our trans-Rhenane brethren, but the special academic and scholastic hue of their learning, is vividly portrayed in this national drama. Not more native to the Cumberland meres is Wordsworth, and to the banks of Doon is Robert Burns, than Goethe’s Faust is to Göttingen, Leipzig, and Bonn. A university in Germany is socially a more powerful thing, though architecturally and aristocratically by no means so magnificent a thing as Oxford in England. The German professors are the great representatives and leaders of the national mind in all departments of thought; this is the case only to a certain limited extent in our country. The academical element, therefore, must assert a prominent place in a truly German national poem. And so it is here. The learned Doctor who sells his soul to the Devil was a professor; a man of books certainly, and a trainer of youth; and some of the most suggestive scenes in the poem are those in which the contrast between mere academical learning with the wisdom of deeper thought and the living experience of life is hit off with a few rapid but telling strokes.
I have no desire to preoccupy the judgment of the English reader by any detailed criticism of the merits and defects of Faust as a dramatic poem. As a tale of human interest it will always be largely appreciated, even beyond the circle of strictly poetical readers; and readers of a more specially cultivated taste will not allow any small faults that might readily be pointed out, whether in the structure of the poem or in the treatment of the characters, to interfere with their enjoyment of so rare a combination of profound thought, wise observation, and deep pathos, as this famous production exhibits. I will take the liberty, however, of suggesting to the students of the poem a careful comparison with Lord Byron’s Manfred, and our great dramatist’s Hamlet, as particularly fruitful in valuable conclusions. All Byron’s characters, as the offspring of pride and unchastened ambition, are in a certain sense Fausts, but Manfred in a particular degree; and, though the idea that Byron’s tragedy was borrowed from Goethe’s could proceed only from a superficial knowledge of his lordship’s character, and from an ignorance of the circumstances which gave rise to the composition of that poem, it is not the less certain that there is a great resemblance between the character of Manfred and that of Faust. From what this resemblance proceeds Lord Byron has himself most satisfactorily told us:—“It was the Steinbach, and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than Faust,”[i22] that produced the gigantic Titan-like apparition of Manfred. That something else here mentioned was Lord Byron himself, who, had he lived in the sixteenth century, would probably enough have been a magician (at all events a Giordano Bruno), and might have been immortalised by some modern poet as the great English Doctor Faust. How, then, does Manfred stand as compared with Faust? Exactly in the same way, we must assume, as Byron stands when contrasted with Goethe. Byron is more sublime; Goethe more human. Byron has more wing; Goethe a better use of his wing. Byron is more intense, more impetuous, and more forcible; Goethe more rich, more various, more mellow, and more ripe. But the chief difference is this, that in all his poetry Goethe is wise; Byron never. Accordingly, we may say that with all its grandeur Manfred is essentially a mad poem. It overleaps the bounds of all sane thinking with no apparent purpose, and certainly with little apparent effect but the glorification of monstrous pride. Still there is a moral lesson at the root of the story, if the reader will take the trouble to think it out. The man who could find no pleasure in existence, except in the gratification of an unnatural passion, could end only as Manfred ended, and die communing with his own proud soul and the evoked spirits of earth and air, amid the frost-bound ridges of the Alps. But, in order to attain this solitary Titanic sublimity, the poet has sacrificed all human probability and all human interest. It is a sublime poem, Manfred; but it is the sublime of monstrosity. The sublime of the Prometheus of Æschylus is a very different thing: it is the sublime, in the first place, not of an unnatural man, but of a god; and, in the second place, it is the sublime of a soul inspired by ill-regulated philanthropy, not by unchastened passion. I presume there are few things finer in the English language than that midnight soliloquy in the third act of Manfred, when the Count, looking forth from his lonely tower on the stars and the snow-shining mountains, recalls a night spent amid the ruins of the Colosseum, and the palace of the Cæsars in Rome—a soliloquy which certainly will lose nothing by a detailed comparison with the strikingly similar monologue in the fourth act of Goethe’s great poem; but the misfortune is, when admiration has been spent on particular passages, one can take no general impression away from the work except this, that the poet wrote under the influence of some sad disease of morbid sublimity, and his heroes were made in Titanic proportions, after his own likeness. In every view, therefore, except in regard to the power of one or two individual passages, the study of Manfred can only tend to raise in the mind of the reader a most profound admiration for the more healthy tone, the more ripe wisdom, the more rich material, and the more skilful treatment, of the German writer. With Shakespeare’s great work it is quite otherwise. Hamlet unquestionably has many striking points of similarity with Faust. The same moody melancholy, and tendency to contemplation of suicide; the same lofty discontent with his environment, and misanthropic contempt for the humanity with which he stood in direct relationship; the same communion with the unseen world, though in a different form; the same feebleness and indecision of character in the hero, with occasional blind plunges into strokes that hurry himself and others into ruin. In his morbid state of mind the ghost acts according to the same law on the hero of our great English tragedy that Mephistopheles does on the German doctor; but the ghost in the one case for the Devil, in the other—though both incarnated creations of a diseased mind—indicates in the strongest possible way the diverse character of the disease. Hamlet is an essentially noble character sunk into melancholy by the abnormal character of the immediate social element in which it was his destiny to move; the moody contemplation of the social wrongs which were rife round about him generated the idea of revenge, or taking the moral law into his own hand; and of this rash idea of revenge the ghost is dramatically the voice and the spur. But, though plunging himself and his environment into misery by following out his bloody suggestions, Hamlet never forfeits our respect. He is never selfish; and suffers more from excessive sensibility to the sins of others than from any faults that may be placed fairly at his own door. Otherwise with Faust; he is at bottom a compound of a sentimentalist and a sensualist; and, though the metaphysical perplexities in which at the outset of his career he is found entangled, excite in the reader some emotion of pity, yet the feebleness and irresolution of his conduct afterwards, the ease with which he allows himself to be dragged by his fiendish guide through all kinds of selfish indulgence and moral meanness, cannot fail to inoculate the reader with a strong feeling of contempt. This no doubt was meant by the poet; and very properly so; as a noble character never could have fallen into the sensual trap so cunningly laid for him by the Tempter; still it is a misfortune to the piece, and imperatively demands the large compensation which it receives from the profound tragic interest with which the consummate art of the dramatist has contrived to invest the closing scenes with poor Margaret.
It is well known to the literary public that the author of Faust, as generally read by foreigners, always looked upon this production as only the first part of the great “Divinia Comedia,” to use the language of Dante’s time, with which he was to enrich the literature of his century. The incomplete character of the first part, indeed, is distinctly indicated in the introductory scene called the “Prologue to Heaven,” which contains the following lines:—
“Though now he serve me stumblingly, the hour
Is nigh, when I shall lead him into light.
When the tree buds, the gardener knows that flower
And fruit will make the coming season bright.”[i23]
To a “divine comedy,” indeed, in the large style, which should contain a vindication of the ways of God to man, a second part of Faust was as necessary as Dante’s Paradiso was to his Inferno, or the Prometheus Unbound of Æschylus to the Prometheus Bound, or the last four chapters of the Book of Job to the rest of the poem; and when Goethe wrote this Prologue in Heaven—a piece by no means necessary to Faust as an acting play—it is impossible to imagine that he had not then distinctly purposed and dimly planned the singular poem now known as the second part of Faust. For the sake, therefore, of those readers of the great German tragedy, within the scope of whose vision the second part of Faust is, for various reasons, never likely to come, I will set down here a somewhat detailed panoramic view of that remarkable production. A few remarks, then, will enable any person of common intelligence to understand the exact relation which exists between the two works.
The first act opens with a pleasing landscape scene, in the midst of which Faust is discovered reclining upon a flowery turf, weary, restless, and seeking repose. The hour is twilight, and round the weary one Ariel and other quaint and pleasant Spirits are hovering in airy circles, entertaining his fancy with lovely shows, and lulling him with sweet sounds; quite a piece of Nature’s most voluptuous and luxuriant beauty, such as Goethe’s soul delighted to bathe in. As the Spirits continue their song, accompanying the watches of the night, the dawn approaches to the ear of mortal men calmly and gently, but to the sense of Spirits, the march of the hours is heard as a storm: the gigantic rock-gates of the East creak fearfully; Phœbus rolls his chariot wheels in thunder; and eye and ear are startled at the strong coming of the day. Faust then wakens, and gratefully welcomes the fresh tide of a renewed existence which, after the soothing influences of the magic sleep, seems to stream in upon him. A resolution is strongly stirred in his breast to strive after the highest perfection of which human nature is capable.
The second scene brings us from the fairy into the court atmosphere. The Emperor sits on his throne, surrounded by all sorts of courtiers, ministers, and other appendages of Majesty; the astrologer and the fool, significantly for those times (for we must suppose the end of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century), occupying not the least conspicuous place. Forthwith begins a somewhat prolix discourse between the Imperial Majesty and his principal ministers—Chancellor, Treasurer, Master of the Household, etc., the burden of which is—a very common one with great people and people in office—that they have no money and are at their wit’s end how to get it. The fool, into whose shoes Mephistopheles has cunningly shuffled himself, is applied to for the aid of his sage counsels, and is not slow with the common resource of German devils and necromancers—hidden treasures. But before the spade and the mattock can be brought into play to unearth this hidden heap, as it happens to be Carnival, there must be a masquerade. The Emperor, too, has just come from Rome, whither he had gone, according to the laudable old custom of the Heinrichs and Ottos and Friedrichs, to get himself dubbed Holy Roman Emperor, and with his crown on his head, he has brought also the fool’s cap. Scene third, accordingly, exhibits a rich show of foolery and masquerading of all sorts. Flower-girls and gardeners; mothers and daughters; fishers, fowlers, and foresters; Pulcinellos, parasites, and drunkards; poets and critics; the three Graces, Aglaia, Hegemone, and Euphrosyne; the three Fates, Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis; the three Furies, Alecto, Megæra, and Tisiphone; Fear, Hope, and Providence leading in Victory, who stands on the top parapet of a tower—all this moves in motley operatic splendour before the eyes of the spectator; and the various personages, as they pass, festoon themselves, so to speak, with short speeches and moral reflections in the style of the masques of our old English dramatists—points prettily enough curled and frizzled, and agreeable enough, doubtless, to hear with music in an opera, but rather wearisome to read in a long sequence as part of a written play. Then, that Doctor Faust may have something to do in his own peculiar province of magic, for the command of which, as we know, he has sold his soul to the Devil, we have a grand chariot brought upon the stage by four horses; and in this chariot are two allegorical personages, the charioteer boy (Knabenlenker), that is to say, Poetry or intellectual wealth, and Plutus, the god of material wealth, a character fitly sustained by Doctor Faust himself. These two scatter their riches profusely among the mob of masquers—Poetry pearls and spangles, which turn into moths and beetles as soon as snatched; Plutus golden guineas and silver pennies; but they are red hot, and burn the fingers of the appropriators. A general row takes place, which, however, is only the overture to a greater one, with which the masquerade concludes. Preceded and surrounded by dancing groups of fauns and satyrs, giants, nymphs, and gnomes, the Emperor appears in the character of the great Pan, the All of the world (πᾶν). Plutus, i.e. Faustus, is now ready to close the scene with a fire trick, like to that which, on the first start of his magical career, he played off upon Brander, Siebel, Frosch, and the other worthies of Auerbach’s cellar. The little dwarfish gnomes take the mighty Pan by the hand and lead him to a hole in the rock, whence a fountain of fire wells out with many a freakish spurt of subterranean flame. This the universal δαίμων, or mighty Pan, beholds with infinite satisfaction; but lo! as he bends forward to contemplate such miracle more near, his beard unglues itself and catches fire; and the flame begins to play about at a furious rate, cracking like a whip right and left, and with long snaky tongues licking the roof of the welkin. The stage is now one web of confusion and consternation; all hands are at work to clap extinguishment on the earth-born flame; but the more they plash and potter in the wild element, the more it blazes, and the cry is raised—Oh treason!—that the Emperor is burning; whereupon the herald very appropriately lifts up the moral complaint:—
“O Youth, O Youth! and wilt thou never
Learn to rein thy fancies flighty?
O Highness, Highness! wilt thou never
Be as wise as thou art mighty?”
and herewith, and with a conjuration of soft dews and mists convocated by Plutus to lay the flaming devils whom he had raised, ends the spectacle and the scene.
What next? The fourth scene discovers the Emperor on his holy Roman throne, as in the second. Faust hopes that his Majesty has readily pardoned the frolic of flame-jugglery with which the preceding day’s sport had ended; and the Emperor expresses his high delight with the exhibition of such tricks; for nothing could give him greater pleasure than to imagine himself for a season a king of salamanders. Mephistopheles then comes forward with the finished draught of his new scheme for the replenishing of the Imperial exchequer; and, that his Majesty may not have long to wait for the drudgery of the mattock and spade in bringing to light the hidden treasures before promised, the affair is to be managed in the meantime by paper money; and straightway, upon the faith of the to-be-unearthed gold, the Minister of Finance is relieved from his perplexities, and the whole country rises and swells and billows up in a flux of prosperity. This as a prelude; but the serious work is yet to come. The Emperor requests the great conjuror to produce for his amusement something better than salamanders, and more wonderful even than paper money. He wishes to see the famous beauty, the Spartan Helen who set Troy on fire, and Paris the princely shepherd, whose well-trimmed locks and gold-embroidered mantle had prevailed to seduce her from her fidelity to her royal husband. Faust engages to gratify the Imperial wishes; and Mephistopheles, after a little demurring—the shades of the classical world being not within his proper domain—consents. Whereupon the hero, holding in his hand a magic key which he has received from his comrade, descends through the earth into the empty and bodiless realm of the Mothers; and, having abstracted from their presence a mystical tripod, ascends into the upper air, and appears before the Imperial Court, where, habited as a priest, he instantly invokes the shade of the famous pair, to whom Aphrodite has been so lavish of her gifts. They forthwith appear, and, environed by music and mist, exhibit their classical charms, and repeat their storied loves to the modern eye. The exhibition, of course, after the first surprise is over, produces different effects on the spectators, according to their different tastes; the Court critics, like other brethren of the same carping fraternity, must have something to object, even to the queen of beauties; but Faust is fascinated, and, at the first glance, falls violently in love with the phantom which himself had raised. As before the vanishing form which he had seen in the magic mirror, when in the witches’ kitchen, so here again he stands transfixed with wonder, gazes in ecstasy, glows with passion, and, losing all sense of propriety, raves in jealous indignation at Paris, for venturing to handle too familiarly the object of his adoration. He then rushes insanely to seize the bodiless form; but no sooner has fleshly touch troubled the spiritual essence than an explosion follows. The Doctor falls down in a swoon; the fair apparitions vanish; and Mephistopheles, taking the hero on his back, leaves the scene of the luckless conjuration amid darkness and confusion. Thus ends the first act.
The second act displays the old Gothic, high-vaulted, narrow chamber which we remember to have seen in the first scene of the first act of this strange drama. This chamber formerly belonged to Doctor Faust; it now belongs to his hopeful disciple in the art of alchemy, the learned Doctor Wagner, whom we at once recognise as an old friend. To refresh old memories further, the same young student is introduced, to whom Mephistopheles, masqued in academical cap and gown, had given such admirable instructions on his first entrance to college life. He is now no longer a freshman, but a Bachelor of Arts, well crammed with the customary amount of book lore, notable, also, for a certain heroic dash of scepticism, which has taught him to believe that a large amount of what passes for learning in the world is humbug, and that the professors of learning, generally, are only a more respectable sort of quacks. He stands in no need now of a Faust or a Mephistopheles to instruct him; for he knows more than all the most learned doctors can teach him by the simple omnipotence of his own conceit. He has studied theology under some neologic doctor of the age, is a decided disbeliever in the personality of the Devil, and boasts with the most confident faith in the infallibility of his own Ego—“Unless I will, no devil may exist!” But the principal character in this scene is the learned Doctor Wagner himself, who is exhibited in his laboratory, bending and blowing over the hot coals of his furnace in the act of making a man. And anon, not so much by the chymick wit of Wagner, of course, as by the magic of Mephistopheles, Homunculus does actually come forth, all glowing and eager, enclosed within a glass phial, a brisk little fellow, brimful of elastic energy, and fired with the heroic resolve to be developed into the fulness of the freedom of the perfect man, bursting his vitreous hull with all possible expedition. To his chymick “fatherkin” Wagner he pays little or no respect, but recognises Mephistopheles on the spot as first cousin; in Faust, and the dreams of Spartan Helen that occupy his fancy, being, like the Doctor, of a hot and amorous temperament, he takes a wonderful interest; and, spurred on by that lust of intellectual adventure which is characteristic of his nature, after a few preliminary remarks, proposes to Mephistopheles that they should all three set themselves afloat on the magic mantle, and balloon over to Thessaly, where, amid the haunts of Erichtho and other famous witches, an assembly of old classical ghosts and goblins, heroes and heroines, is that night to be held. On this phantasmal expedition the worthy triad accordingly set out without delay; Homunculus to enlarge his mind and achieve development; Faust to search out Helen; and Mephistopheles from mere curiosity; for, in fact, he is quite a stranger in the classical Hades, and is not, from anything that has come to his ear, inclined to imagine that there is anything in Olympus which will suit his humour half so well as the witches on the Brocken.
We are now prepared for what the poet has evidently dressed up with special care, as the imposing spectacle of the second act, intending to overpower the senses of the spectator with a profusion of imaginative wealth, in the same fashion as he managed the Carnival in the first act; with this slight difference, that, whereas there we had a show of masqued realities, here we have a show of real phantoms. To this phantasmal exhibition the poet gives the name of the Classical Walpurgis-Night, or May-Day Night, the counterpart of the Gothic Walpurgis-Night set forth with such power and variety in the first part of the drama. Like the short intermezzo of Oberon and Titania’s golden wedding on the Brocken, the strange motley dance of figures that are here made to pop up before us with significant saws in their mouths, have little or nothing to do with the main action of the piece. Faust and Homunculus and Mephistopheles appear at intervals merely flitting through its luxuriant variety like fire-flies in a forest full of lions and tigers, and camelopards, and every curious wild beast. The scene is in the Pharsalian Plains—Thessaly being the native ground of classical witchcraft and enchantment—the time of course midnight. The prologue is spoken by Erichtho, Lucan’s famous witch, in Iambic trimeters which the poet handles with the fine rhythmical tact so prominent in all his productions. Immediately after her monologue the three magical aeronauts appear; then colossal ants gathering gold grains; with them gigantic griffins, keepers of the gold, and Arimaspi fighting with the griffins for its possession; then Sphynxes, and Sirens, and Stymphalides, and various, to the classical ear familiar, monsters of the bird genus, who hold much talk, but not of much significance, with Faust and his conductor. Suddenly the scene changes to the banks of the Peneus, where the god of the classical flood sits crowned with reeds, surrounded by gracefully sportive groups of Nymphs, and majestically sailing swans. Thereafter a hollow tramp of horses’ hoofs announces the arrival of the Centaur Chiron, wise pedagogue of Achilles and other renowned classical heroes. Him Faust accosts, and requests a clue to the haunt of the fair Helen, the possession of whom still burns in his inordinate desire as the only thing capable of making him happy. To this request the wise bi-form demi-god is not able, from his own resources, to accede; but he takes the Doctor on his back; and off they tramp together to the temple-cave of Manto—the famous prophet-daughter of Æsculapius. With her Faust enters the subterranean regions, the realm of Persephone; and the possession of Helen, as we shall see in the third act, is the reward of his intrepidity. But, though Faust seems now amply provided for, the phantasmal hubbub goes on. The Sirens and the Sphynxes again come to the front, singing and soliloquising as before; likewise the ants and the griffins; and to them presently are associated, Seismos (earthquake), the Pygmies or Lilliputians, and the Idæan Dactyles or Tom Thumbs of antiquity; with them—in honour of Schiller, we may suppose—the cranes of Ibycus; then Empusa the foul ass-footed blood-sucking hag, and troops of hideous Lamias to captivate the Gothic taste of Mephistopheles; but even these are not ugly enough for him; so he wanders on through the Fair, till he encounters the three daughters of Phorcys, who had only one eye and one tooth among them; and from one of these he borrows her hideous mask, that he may perform juggleries behind it in a future part of the play. Meanwhile Homunculus, in prosecution of his eager desire to be developed, has hunted out two philosophers, Anaxagoras and Thales; and under the guidance of the latter, he proceeds through the peopled air to the adjacent bays of the Ægean Sea, where the marine gods and demi-gods are holding their revels. To this water-festival the scene finally changes; and forthwith a new swarm of vocal apparitions begins to buzz around us; among whom (besides the Sirens, whom we had before) Nereus and Proteus, the Telchins of Rhodes, the Cabiri of Samothrace, with troops of shell-blowing Tritons, and Nereids riding on dolphins and hippocampes, are the most remarkable. With these fair apparitions, and the pleasant aquatic sports in which they are engaged, Homunculus, under the appropriate teaching of Thales, the water-philosopher, seems vastly delighted; and mounting on the dolphin-back of Proteus, careers about from creek to creek, seeking anxiously for a just occasion of being fully developed. This desired consummation, accordingly, happens sooner perhaps than the little man had fancied, and in an unexpected fashion; for, as he bounds along from wave to wave gallantly, on the back of the multiform sea-god, the lovely Galatea, the fairest of the daughters of Doris, suddenly presents herself to his view, all radiant with marine beauty, like a sea-Venus, drawn in a shell-car. To stand unmoved at such a spectacle was not possible, as we may remember, even to ponderous Polypheme in the Ovidian ballad, much less to a nimble and highly excitable Homunculus. A commotion is immediately observed in the waters close to Galatea’s car; the silver foam becomes red and glowing; the spark of Homunculus dilates itself into a blaze; a breaking of glass and a plashing of water is heard; and a bright illumination spreads itself widely over the festal waves. Hereupon breaks in full and symphonious the song of the Sirens.
“Hail to Ocean, silver plashing,
Hail to Fire around it flashing,
Hail to pure Air’s breezy pinions,
Hail to deep Earth’s dark dominions;
Blithely to the elements four,
Festal notes symphonious pour.”
And with this erotic explosion the Classical Walpurgis-Night ends, and the third act of the drama commences. This third act is entirely made up of another fanciful piece, exhibiting the phantasmal loves of Faust and Helen. The famous Lacedæmonian beauty appears surrounded by a chorus of Trojan captive maids in the palace of Menelaus, at Sparta. Her husband, on the way back from the weary capture of Troy, is still on the broad seas, Helen having been sent before to prepare a sacrifice in honour of his expected arrival. For this sacrifice everything had been prescribed by Menelaus, only not the victim; and, while Helen is wondering with herself what might be the cause of this omission, Mephistopheles suddenly appears in the mask of one of the Phorcyades, and, giving himself out for the old housekeeper of the palace, succeeds in filling the mind of Helen with no unreasonable fears, that she is, in fact, herself the victim destined by her death to atone for the decennial toils and troubles of the Greeks before Ilium. From the imminent danger thus impending there is no safety for the fair but to throw herself under the guidance of Mephistopheles, into the arms of Faust, who, by his accustomed magical machinery, has established himself in a grand Gothic castle, hard by, among the ridges of Taygetus. No sooner is this resolution taken, than the scene suddenly changes from a classical palace a thousand years before Christ, to a Gothic castle a thousand years after Christ, where, in the midst of knights and squires, courtiers, cavaliers, and other appropriate supernumeraries, marshalled plentifully around, the thaumaturgic Doctor appears as a German prince of the Middle Ages, with dignity and loyal regard, coming forward to pay his homage to the paragon of classical beauty. After a few gallant speeches gracefully made and gracefully responded to, Helen, of course, surrenders at discretion; and the scene changes to a lovely Arcadian district, with wood and water, mountain and mead, richly variegating the pastoral solitude, the abode of love. What is there enacted you may guess partly, but not altogether; you may well imagine that Faust and Helen are there depicted as enjoying all the raptures that, to transcendental lovers, in such a place, naturally belong; but you will not guess that from their phantasmal embrace a son is born, and that this son, under the name of Euphorion, is neither more nor less than impersonated Poetry, the same, or a similar allegorial character, that we were already introduced to in the first act, under the name of the Boy-charioteer. Here, in this third act, he appears brisk and nimble, tricksy as a Mercury, lovely as a Cupid, precocious, impetuous, and elastic as a Chatterton. And, like a Chatterton, he will not run and leap only in the fashion of common boys, but he bounds and skips, right and left, above and below, without reason or measure. Light and agile in every motion, more like a bird than a boy, he is tempted to believe that the air, not the earth, is his proper element, and, notwithstanding the importunate warnings of his parents, assays, like Icarus, to bestride the air, and, like Icarus, falls and perishes. This mournful catastrophe the poet gladly makes use of to dissolve the spell of Helen’s phantasmal existence, and to put a finale on the unsubstantial classical courtship of Doctor Faust. The mother precipitates herself after the son, a second time to find her home in the dim halls of Proserpine; and the hero, by the direction of Mephistopheles, seizes the dropped mantle of Helen, and, wrapping himself in it, is straightway enveloped in clouds and borne aloft through far space, even back to honest Deutschland, in quest of new adventures.
The fourth act is very short, merely a stepping-stone to the fifth, it would appear. In the first scene Faust is exhibited in a new character. Pleasures both real and fantastical having been exhausted, he now girds his loins to work, and that neither in the Moon nor in any extra-terrene sphere, but even on this sorry planet, which his high-soaring spirit had so long despised:—
“No talk of moons! this earth for mighty deeds
Hath scope enough: the man who dares succeeds;
I’ve hatched a plan of manful stout adventure,
And with brave heart on bold career I enter!”
This is a great improvement, no doubt; but, as Faust never does anything to the end of his career without magic and the fellowship of the Devil, the activity into which he immediately dashes has no effect in exciting the admiration of the spectator. The Emperor, it seems—the same with whom we made acquaintance in the first act—notwithstanding the unexpected aid of hidden treasures and paper money, being a lover of pleasure rather than of governing, has fallen into discredit with his subjects; and a counter-Kaiser—according to the not uncommon practice of Popes and Kaisers in the Middle Ages—is set up. Faust, though he professes himself no great admirer of the special sphere of activity which is opened up by war, nevertheless, for the love he bears to the Emperor, who is a good fellow with a thousand foibles, allows himself to be persuaded by Mephistopheles to take part in the war against the counter-Kaiser. This war, as was to be expected with Mephistopheles behind scenes, is brought speedily to a glorious conclusion, and that specially by the intervention of the three mighty men of David (2 Sam. xxiii. 8), and a host of Undenes with water juggleries, whom Mephistopheles calls to the rescue: and the Doctor, like Bellerophon in Homer, is rewarded for his heroic soldiership by an extensive grant of land along the sea-coast, great part of which, however, has yet to be redeemed from the waves. So ends act the fourth.
Act fifth exhibits our hero, now in extreme old age—exactly one hundred years, we learn from Eckermann—after some seven or eight decades of mortal life spent first in all sorts of vain speculation, and then in all sorts of idle dissipation and lawless indulgence, at length settled down as a landed proprietor, a great agricultural improver, a redeemer of waste lands from the sea, a builder of harbours, and a promoter of trade. But in the midst of engrossing business and continued occupation, as much, at least, as axe and spade, ditch and dyke can furnish him withal, he is the old man still, discontented and unhappy. The lord of a vast tract of sea-coast, and of uncounted acres, he is miserable, because an old peasant and his old wife—Baucis and Philemon—are the owners of a little cottage near his house, and a few lime trees, which deform his lawn and obstruct his view. ’Tis the old story of Ahab, King of Israel, and Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings xxi.), as Mephistopheles, who is well versed in Scripture, takes occasion to inform us. Well, what is to be done? The attendant fiend of course undertakes (like certain Highland proprietors whom we hear of) to expel the good old people from their old dwelling; and Faust, like the same Caledonian aristocracy, solaces his conscience with the salve that he will provide the good people a far more valuable and more convenient lodging in some remote corner of his estate. Meanwhile Mephistopheles, not over scrupulous about means, and not being able to persuade the stiff-necked and timid old snails to creep out of their shell, settles the matter—as has been practised also in the Scottish Highlands—by applying fire to habitation and habitant at once; the pious old pair fall a sacrifice to the greed of the master and the violence of the man; and with this blood on his hands, Faustus now prepares, with all possible heroic confidence, to meet death and to mount up to Heaven.
We are now arrived at the closing scene of this eventful history. ’Tis midnight: the scene is Faust’s castle; before the door of his chamber four grey old hags appear. “I,” says the one, “am called Want.” “I,” says the second, “Guilt.” “I,” says the third, “Care.” “I,” quoth the fourth, “am called Need.” Of these four, however, only one can do, or attempt to do, any harm to the magical Doctor, for he is now a rich man; and rich men can know nothing of Want or Need, nor of Guilt, either, we are told; but Care leaps in through the keyhole, and annoys him a little before his dismissal. The Doctor, however, is heroically determined not to yield to this demon; and he finds his sure remedy for all unpleasant cogitations in unremitted work. The great pioneers of land improvement, canals and ditches, must be proceeded with; and the indefatigable Doctor, even after pestilential Care had blown a blinding blast into his eyes, marches into the grave with the spade and the pick-axe in his hand. Then commences a scene of a most singular character. The terrible jaws of Hell yawn wide on the left side of the stage, and a contest commences between Mephistopheles on the one hand, and the descending angels on the other, for the possession of the soul of Faust. At first the Evil Spirit seems confident of success, strengthened as he is by a numerous host of multiform imps and devils, who come up in swarms from the steaming mouth of the abyss; but the fury of this malignant host is soon disarmed in a very simple way, by a band of young blooming boy-angels scattering a shower of celestial blossoms over the heads of the infernals. Beneath the fire of these apparently innocent weapons, the legion of horned, and dumpy, and wizened devils fall head foremost into the pit whence they had issued; while their mighty master, Mephistopheles, stands so captivated by the bright bloom and the pretty looks of the rosy cherubs, that in the very moment when heroism is most necessary, he loses all his manhood, and a few beardless boys, with psalms and flosculosities, cheat him of the immortal soul which was his by the signature of blood, and by the seal of a lifetime spent in giving free rein to all sorts of foolish fancies and unprincipled iniquities.
After this catastrophe there remains nothing but the formal introduction of Faust to Heaven, for which the closing scene is appropriated. The Virgin Mary, surrounded by pious Anchorites and fair Penitents, with Fathers seraphic and ecstatic, is revealed in the heavenly glory, awaiting the arrival of redeemed souls from earth; and immediately the band of angels that had worsted Mephistopheles appear aloft in triumph, bearing the immortal part of Faust, and singing a hymn, the words of which are intended to convey the moral of the piece:—
“A rescued spirit to the goal
We bring of Earth’s probation;
The ever-active striving soul
Works out its own salvation.
And when, in love and mercy strong,
His God and Saviour meets him,
The angel-choir, to join their throng,
With hearty welcome greets him.”
Among the throng of redeemed Penitents one appears conspicuous, whose name, while she lived on earth, was Margaret; she is close by the Virgin, interceding for Faust, and ever as she mounts with the Queen of Heaven to higher stages of glory, draws the newcomer after her to share in her sempiternal blessedness. The curtain then falls; the redeemed throngs ascend; and the scene resounds with the mystical chorus:—
“Earth and earthly things
Type the celestial,
Shadow and shorn
Is all glory terrestrial;
The rapt spirit hails,
Where the eternally-
After so detailed an account of this rich and various exhibition of imaginative power, the student of this great world-drama, to use a German phrase, can have no difficulty in understanding the theology and the theodicy of the great Teutonic poet. The promise of the Prologue in Heaven is fulfilled; there is no such thing as everlasting punishment; and the Evil Spirit is sure to be cheated even of the souls for whom he has most surely bargained, if that soul, after staining itself with any number of sins, only perseveres at last in some course of honourable and useful activity. This is not according to the common Protestant conception in such cases; for Protestantism, having abolished Purgatory, lies under a necessity of peopling Tartarus more largely; and besides, after such a solemn compact with the Evil One, and twenty-four years (for that is the number given in the legend) spent in unrepented indulgence of all sensualities and vanities, it was dramatically as well as theologically inconsistent to redeem such a deliberate and persistent sinner from the damnation for which he had bargained. But the hell of the mediæval Catholic Church, though terrible enough in its pictorial presentation (as many an Italian cloister testifies) was more accommodating in its adaptation to the many forms of human weakness; and so, to magnify the grace of God, and make Christ all in all, after a fashion which the severe Protestant Calvinist is forced to condemn, the mediæval form of the Faust legend could afford to save Faust, notwithstanding his blood-sealed transaction with the Devil; and no one has a right to blame Goethe, morally and theologically, for having adopted this view of the matter. But, though the salvation of Faust, according to the feeling of orthodox mediæval Christianity, is permissible, and even desirable, the manner in which, and the process by which, his salvation is achieved by the German Protestant poet differs very much from the treatment it receives at the hand of the Catholic Church. In Christian theology—and in any healthy system of human Ethics too, I imagine—the forgiveness of a great sinner always implies confession of guilt, and a process, sometimes painful and protracted, of repentance and amendment; but of this not a hint occurs in the second part of Faust; and so the moral instincts of man, which had been so strongly appealed to in the first part, are ignored, with a feeling of great moral dissatisfaction as the unavoidable result. So much for the ethico-theological aspect of the case. Æsthetically, and viewed as a dramatic continuation of the first part, the second part of the poem is much more at fault, and must be pronounced, with all its wealth of imaginative reproduction, and all its luxuriance of rhythmical form, a magnificent failure. If this judgment appears severe, it must be remembered that the very excellence of the first part, considered morally and dramatically, rendered a satisfactory continuation of it, even to the genius of a Goethe, both impolitic and impossible. Who would ever dream of a continuation of Hamlet? Had it pleased our great dramatic master to keep Hamlet alive amid the general catastrophe of the play, as he might lightly have done, the future fate of his hero would only have been a matter of historical curiosity. For dramatic purposes his course was finished. So with Faust. Though he remains on the stage in the pathetic closing scene, dramatically his part is played out. The “Hither to me!” of his fiendish companion is quite enough for the satisfaction of the moral feeling which the catastrophe has excited; all beyond this is a matter, no doubt, for metaphysical speculation and theological solution, but with which the dramatist has nothing to do. But even if there were any feeling in the breast of the spectator, causing him to look for some terrestrial continuation of the sad story which he has been witnessing, by the manner in which he has conducted this continuation the poet has altogether cut himself off from the moral sympathy which so spontaneously flowed as a tribute to his art in the first part. The history of Faust and Margaret, notwithstanding the magical or diabolic background on which it figures, is a simple story of flesh and blood, a story which would remain equally true and equally affecting were the demon and the witches removed altogether from the scene. But now, in this second part, we are charmed by the wand of the fiendish harlequin into a region of mere fancy and phantasmagoria, into a swarming Fair, so to speak, of multitudinous phantasmal figures, through the midst of which the real actors flit to and fro like a few idle civilians amid the ordered files and motley groups of some gigantic host. The primary here is buried in the secondary; the actors are lost in their environment; and the real throughout, in a most unreal fashion, confounded with the ideal. Faust, of course, and Mephistopheles, and even Wagner, peering with glittering eye through the smoke of his alchymical kitchen, are the same creatures of flesh and blood that we were made acquainted with in part one; only all perhaps a little enfeebled in character; Mephistopheles a little more of the conjuror, and a little less of the Devil; Faust much less of a thinker, and not a whit less of a sensualist; Wagner much less modest, and much more besotted in the disnatured studies and fanciful operations of his chemical kitchen. All this is real. But this real Faust becomes enamoured of a phantom Helen; and of this monstrous embrace an ideal poetic child, incarnating, we presume, the contrary beauties of the Classical and the Romantic schools, is the product. Of such a strange jumble we may say truly, as Jeffrey said falsely of Wordsworth’s “Excursion,” “This will never do.” Such a violation of all the principles of common sense and of good taste cannot be pardoned even to Goethe. The faults of men of genius, it has been said, are the consolation of the dunces; but whether the dunces choose to console themselves in this way or not, the fact is certain, that on the stern battlefield of public life, and no less in the flowery realms of imaginative construction, a great genius is precisely the man to make occasionally a great blunder. There maybe some few great things, and some wonderful things, and not a few wise things (as who could expect otherwise from Goethe) in the second part of Faust; but it is certainly neither a great drama nor the just sequence of a great drama. I am inclined to compare it with the rich fanciful work familiar to the students of art, in the so-called Loggie, or galleries of Raphael, in the Vatican. In the first part of Faust, Goethe is a great dramatist; in the second part he is an arabesque painter. It is no small matter to compose poetical arabesques, as our poet has done so luxuriantly in the Classical Walpurgis Night, and other parts of this piece; and a very natural affair, too, one may remark, in the circumstances of the present composition. It is rare, perhaps impossible, in the history of literary manifestation, that a poet should commence a great poem in the fervour of youth, continue it through the firmness of middle life, and finish it in the serenity of an advanced old age, with a homogeneousness of inspiration, and a perfectly consistent handling throughout. Goethe, in particular, was a man who grew, as he advanced, into many new shapes, and, of course, grew out of the old ones; and, though he was to the end a consummate artist, and there was no question of decayed powers, much less of dotage, in the grand old octogenarian, it was an artistic blunder in him to weave the fantastic tissue of fair forms, which amused his later years, into a common web with the tale of strong human passion, which had grown into a well-rounded dramatic shape under the influence of his most fervid youthful inspirations. The error lay in the name and the connection perhaps more than in the matter. A classical Walpurgis Night, or a love adventure with a resuscitated Helen of Troy, might have formed a very pleasing exhibition as a masque or show for an academical celebration—as at Oxford, for instance, in Commemoration season—while, as a second part of Faust, it falls flat. Let it contain as many allegories as the wise old poet-philosopher may have meant to smuggle into it, and as many mysteries as the mystery-loving race of German commentators may have strained themselves to draw out of it; as it stands, and where it stands, and with the claims which it necessarily makes, it remains a brilliant blunder and a magnificent mistake; and with this we must be content. Those whose organ of reverence is stronger than their love of truth, will, of course, think otherwise; and this is no doubt the most suitable excuse for any nonsense that may have been thought or written on the subject; but, if it be a part of the wisdom of life to learn to look calmly on plain facts, even when most disagreeable, it belongs no less to an educated literary judgment to admit honestly the special shortcomings of a great genius, without prejudice to his general merits. An ignorant worship is a poor substitute for a just appreciation.
Dr. Henry Faust, a scholar.
Wagner, Faust’s servant.
Mephistopheles, a Devil.
Margaret, Faust’s love. Also called Gretchen.
Martha, Margaret’s neighbour.
Eliza, an acquaintance of Margaret’s.
Valentin, Margaret’s brother.
Altmayer, Brander, Frosch, Siebel, patrons of Auerbach’s Wine Cellar.
Students, Spirits, Women, Angels, Servants, Beggars, Soldiers, Peasants, Cat-Apes, Witches, Director of the Theatre, Leader of the Orchestra, Idealist, Realist, Sceptic, etc.
Prefixed to the Later Editions of Faust.
Ye hover nigh, dim-floating shapes again,
That erst the misty eye of Fancy knew!
Shall I once more your shadowy flight detain,
And the fond dreamings of my youth pursue?
Ye press around!—resume your ancient reign,—
As from the hazy past ye rise to view;
The magic breath that wafts your airy train
Stirs in my breast long-slumbering chords again.
Ye raise the pictured forms of happy days,
And many a dear loved shade comes up with you;
Like the far echo of old-memoried lays,
First love and early friendship ye renew.
Old pangs return; life’s labyrinthine maze
Again the plaint of sorrow wanders through,
And names the loved ones who from Fate received
A bitter call, and left my heart bereaved.
They hear no more the sequel of my song,
Who heard my early chant with open ear;
Dispersed for ever is the favoring throng,
Dumb the response from friend to friend so dear.
My sorrow floats an unknown crowd among,
Whose very praise comes mingled with strange fear;
And they who once were pleased to hear my lay,
If yet they live, have drifted far away.
And I recall with long-unfelt desire
The realm of spirits, solemn, still, serene;
My faltering lay, like the Æolian lyre,
Gives wavering tones with many a pause between;
The stern heart glows with youth’s rekindled fire,
Tear follows tear, where long no tear hath been;
The thing I am fades into distance gray;
And the pale Past stands out a clear to-day.
PRELUDE AT THE THEATRE.
Manager of a Strolling Company.—Stage-poet—Merryfellow.
Ye twain, in good and evil day
So oft my solace and my stay,
Say, have ye heard sure word, or wandering rumor
How our new scheme affects the public humor?
Without the multitude we cannot thrive,
Their maxim is to live and to let live.
The posts are up, the planks are fastened, and
Each man’s agog for something gay and grand.
With arched eyebrows they sit already there,
Gaping for something new to make them stare.
I know the public taste, and profit by it;
But still to-day I’ve fears of our succeeding:
’Tis true they’re customed to no dainty diet,
But they’ve gone through an awful breadth of reading.
How shall we make our pieces fresh and new,
And with some meaning in them, pleasing too?
In sooth, I like to see the people pouring
Into our booth, like storm and tempest roaring,
While, as the waving impulse onward heaves them,
The narrow gate of grace at length receives them,
When, long ere it be dark, with lusty knocks
They fight their way on to the money-box,
And like a starving crowd around a baker’s door,
For tickets as for bread they roar.
So wonder-working is the poet’s sway
O’er every heart—so may it work to-day!
O mention not that motley throng to me,
Which only seen makes frighted genius pause;
Hide from my view that wild and whirling sea
That sucks me in, and deep and downward draws.
No! let some noiseless nook of refuge be
My heaven, remote from boisterous rude applause,
Where Love and Friendship, as a God inspires,
Create and fan the pure heart’s chastened fires.
Alas! what there the shaping thought did rear,
And scarce the trembling lip might lisping say,
To Nature’s rounded type not always near,
The greedy moment rudely sweeps away.
Oft-times a work, through many a patient year
Must toil to reach its finished fair display;
The glittering gaud may fix the passing gaze,
But the pure gem gains Time’s enduring praise.
Pshaw! Time will reap his own; but in our power
The moment lies, and we must use the hour.
The Future, no doubt, is the Present’s heir,
But we who live must first enjoy our share.
Methinks the present of a goodly boy
Has something that the wisest might enjoy.
Whose ready lips with easy lightness brim,
The people’s humor need not trouble him;
He courts a crowd the surer to impart
The quickening word that stirs the kindred heart.
Quit ye like men, be honest bards and true,
Let Fancy with her many-sounding chorus,
Reason, Sense, Feeling, Passion, move before us,
But, mark me well—a spice of folly too!
Give what you please, so that you give but plenty;
They come to see, and you must feed their eyes;
Scene upon scene, each act may have its twenty,
To keep them gaping still in fresh surprise:
This is the royal road to public favor;
You snatch it thus, and it is yours for ever.
A mass of things alone the mass secures;
Each comes at last and culls his own from yours.
Bring much, and every one is sure to find,
In your rich nosegay, something to his mind.
You give a piece, give it at once in pieces;
Such a ragout each taste and temper pleases,
And spares, if only they were wise to know it,
Much fruitless toil to player and to poet.
In vain into an artful whole you glue it;
The public in the long run will undo it.
What? feel you not the vileness of this trade?
How much the genuine artist ye degrade?
The bungling practice of our hasty school
You raise into a maxim and a rule.
All very well!—but when a man
Has forged a scheme, and sketched a plan
He must have sense to use the tool
The best that for the job is fit.
Consider what soft wood you have to split,
And who the people are for whom you write.
One comes to kill a few hours o’ the night;
Another, with his drowsy wits oppressed,
An over-sated banquet to digest;
And not a few, whom least of all we choose,
Come to the play from reading the Reviews.
They drift to us as to a masquerade;
Mere curiosity wings their paces;
The ladies show themselves, and show their silks and laces,
And play their parts well, though they are not paid.
What dream you of, on your poetic height?
A crowded house, forsooth, gives you delight!
Look at your patrons as you should,
You’ll find them one-half cold, and one-half crude.
One leaves the play to spend the night
Upon a wench’s breast in wild delight;
Another sets him down to cards, or calls
For rattling dice, or clicking billiard balls.
For such like hearers, and for ends like these
Why should a bard the gentle Muses tease?
I tell you, give them more, and ever more, and still
A little more, if you would prove your skill.
And since they can’t discern the finer quality,
Confound them with broad sweep of triviality—
But what’s the matter?—pain or ravishment?
If such your service, you must be content
With other servants who will take your pay!
Shall then the bard his noblest right betray?
The right of man, which Nature’s gift imparts,
For brainless plaudits basely jest away?
What gives him power to move all hearts,
Each stubborn element to sway,
What but the harmony, his being’s inmost tone,
That charms all feelings back into his own?
Where listless Nature, her eternal thread,
The unwilling spindle twists around,
And hostile shocks of things that will not wed
With jarring dissonance resound,
Who guides with living pulse the rhythmic flow
Of powers that make sweet music as they go?
Who consecrates each separate limb and soul
To beat in glorious concert with the whole?
Who makes the surgy-swelling billow
Heave with the wildly heaving breast,
And on the evening’s rosy pillow,
Invites the brooding heart to rest?
Who scatters spring’s most lovely blooms upon
The path of the belovèd one?
Who plaits the leaves that unregarded grow
Into a crown to deck the honored brow?
Who charms the gods? who makes Olympos yield?
The power of man in poet’s art revealed.
Then learn such subtle powers to wield,
And on the poet’s business enter
As one does on a love-adventure.
They meet by chance, are pleased, and stay
On being pressed, just for a day;
Then hours to hours are sweetly linked in chain,
Till net-caught by degrees, they find retreat is vain.
At first the sky is bright, then darkly lowers;
To-day, fine thrilling rapture wings the hours,
To-morrow, doubts and anguish have their chance,
And, ere one knows, they’re deep in a romance.
A play like this both praise and profit brings.
Plunge yourself boldly in the stream of things—
What’s lived by all, but known to few—
And bring up something fresh and new,
No matter what; just use your eyes,
And all will praise what all can prize;
Strange motley pictures in a misty mirror,
A spark of truth in a thick cloud of error;
’Tis thus we brew the genuine beverage,
To edify and to refresh the age.
The bloom of youth in eager expectation,
With gaping ears drinks in your revelation;
Each tender sentimental disposition
Sucks from your art sweet woe-be-gone nutrition;
Each hears a part of what his own heart says,
While over all your quickening sceptre sways.
These younglings follow where you bid them go.
Lightly to laughter stirred, or turned to woe,
They love the show, and with an easy swing,
Follow the lordly wafture of your wing;
Your made-up man looks cold on everything,
But growing minds take in what makes them grow.
Then give me back the years again,
When mine own spirit too was growing,
When my whole being was a vein
Of thronging songs within me flowing!
Then slept the world in misty blue,
Each bud the nascent wonder cherished,
And all for me the flowerets grew,
That on each meadow richly flourished.
Though I had nothing then, I had a treasure,
The thirst for truth, and in illusion pleasure.
Give me the free, unshackled pinion,
The height of joy, the depth of pain,
Strong hate, and stronger love’s dominion;
O give me back my youth again!
The fire of youth, good friend, you need, of course,
Into the hostile ranks to break,
Or, when the loveliest damsels hang by force,
With amorous clinging, from your neck,
When swift your wingèd steps advance
To where the racer’s prize invites you,
Or, after hours of whirling dance,
The nightly deep carouse invites you.
But to awake the well-known lyre
With graceful touch that tempers fire,
And to a self-appointed goal,
With tuneful rambling on to roll,
Such are your duties, aged sirs; nor we
Less honor pay for this, nor stint your fee;
Old age, not childish, makes the old; but they
Are genuine children of a mellower day.
Enough of words: ’tis time that we
Were come to deeds; while you are spinning
Fine airy phrases, fancy-free,
We might have made some good beginning.
What stuff you talk of being in the vein!
A lazy man is never in the vein.
If once your names are on the poet’s roll,
The Muses should be under your control.
You know our want; a good stiff liquor
To make their creeping blood flow quicker;
Then brew the brews without delay;
What was not done to-day, to-morrow
Will leave undone for greater sorrow.
Don’t stand, and stare, and block the way,
But with a firm, set purpose lay
Hold of your bright thoughts as they rise to view,
And bid them stay;
Once caught, they will not lightly run away,
Till they have done what in them lies to do.
Among the sons of German play,
Each tries his hand at what he may;
Therefore be brilliant in your scenery,
And spare no cost on your machinery.
Let sun and moon be at your call,
And scatter stars on stars around;
Let water, fire, and rocky wall,
And bird and beast and fish abound.
Thus in your narrow booth mete forth
The wide creation’s flaming girth,
And wing your progress, pondered well,
From heaven to earth, from earth to hell.
PROLOGUE IN HEAVEN.
The Lord—The Heavenly Hosts: afterwards Mephistopheles.
The Sun doth chime his ancient music
’Mid brothered spheres’ contending song.
And on his fore-appointed journey
With pace of thunder rolls along.
Strength drink the angels from his glory,
Though none may throughly search his way:
God’s works rehearse their wondrous story
As bright as on Creation’s day.
And swift and swift beyond conceiving
The pomp of earth is wheeled around,
Alternating Elysian brightness
With awful gloom of night profound.
Up foams the sea, a surging river,
And smites the steep rock’s echoing base,
And rock and sea, unwearied ever,
Spin their eternal circling race.
And storm meets storm with rival greeting,
From sea to land, from land to sea,
While from their war a virtue floweth,
That thrills with life all things that be.
The lightning darts his fury, blazing
Before the thunder’s sounding way;
But still thy servants, Lord, are praising
The gentle going of thy day.
All the Three.
Strength drink the angels from thy glory,
Though none may search thy wondrous way;
Thy works repeat their radiant story,
As bright as on Creation’s day.
Sith thou, O Lord, approachest near,
And how we fare would’st fain have information,
And thou of old wert glad to see me here,
I stand to-day amid the courtly nation.
Pardon; no words of fine address I know,
Nor could, though all should hoot me down with sneers;
My pathos would move laughter, and not tears,
Wert thou not weaned from laughter long ago.
Of suns and worlds I’ve nought to say,
I only see how men must fret their lives away.
The little god o’ the world jogs and jogs on, the same
As when from ruddy clay he took his name;
And, sooth to say, remains a riddle, just
As much as when you shaped him from the dust.
Perhaps a little better he had thriven,
Had he not got the show of glimmering light from heaven:
He calls it reason, and it makes him free
To be more brutish than a brute can be;
He is, methinks, with reverence of your grace,
Like one of the long-leggèd race
Of grasshoppers that leap in the air, and spring,
And straightway in the grass the same old song they sing;
’Twere well that from the grass he never rose,
On every stubble he must break his nose!
Hast thou then nothing more to say?
And art thou here again to-day
To vent thy grudge in peevish spite
Against the earth, still finding nothing right?
True, Lord; I find things there no better than before;
I must confess I do deplore
Man’s hopeless case, and scarce have heart myself
To torture the poor miserable elf.
Dost thou know Faust?
Ay: my servant.
Indeed! and of his master’s will observant,
In fashion quite peculiar to himself;
His food and drink are of no earthly taste,
A restless fever drives him to the waste.
Himself half seems to understand
How his poor wits have run astrand;
From heaven he asks each loveliest star,
Earth’s chiefest joy must jump to his demand,
And all that’s near, and all that’s far,
Soothes not his deep-moved spirit’s war.
Though for a time he blindly grope his way,
Soon will I lead him into open day;
Well knows the gardener, when green shoots appear,
That bloom and fruit await the ripening year.
What wager you? you yet shall lose that soul!
Only give me full license, and you’ll see
How I shall lead him softly to my goal.
As long as on the earth he lives
Thou hast my license full and free;
Man still must stumble while he strives.
My thanks for that! the dead for me
Have little charm; my humor seeks
The bloom of lusty life, with plump and rosy cheeks;
For a vile corpse my tooth is far too nice,
I do just as the cat does with the mice.
So be it; meanwhile, to tempt him thou are free;
Go, drag this spirit from his native fount,
And lead him on, canst thou his will surmount,
Into perdition down with thee;
But stand ashamed at last, when thou shalt see
An honest man, ’mid all his strivings dark,
Finds the right way, though lit but by a spark.
Well, well; short time will show; into my net
I’ll draw the fish, and then I’ve won my bet;
And when I’ve carried through my measure
Loud blast of trump shall blaze my glory;
Dust shall he eat, and that with pleasure,
Like my cousin the snake in the rare old story.
And thou mayst show thee here in upper sky
Unhindered, when thou hast a mind;
I never hated much thee or thy kind;
Of all the spirits that deny,
The clever rogue sins least against my mind.
For, in good sooth, the mortal generation,
When a soft pillow they may haply find,
Are far too apt to sink into stagnation;
And therefore man for comrade wisely gets
A devil, who spurs, and stimulates, and whets.
But you, ye sons of heaven’s own choice,
In the one living Beautiful rejoice!
The self-evolving Energy divine
Enclasp you round with love’s embrace benign,
And on the floating forms of earth and sky
Stamp the fair type of thought that may not die.
From time to time the ancient gentleman
I see, and keep on the best terms I can.
In a great Lord ’tis surely wondrous civil
So face to face to hold talk with the devil.
Faust discovered sitting restless at his desk, in a narrow high-vaulted Gothic chamber.
There now, I’ve toiled my way quite through
Law, Medicine, and Philosophy,
And, to my sorrow, also thee,
Theology, with much ado;
And here I stand, poor human fool,
As wise as when I went to school.
Master, ay, Doctor, titled duly,
An urchin-brood of boys unruly
For ten slow-creeping years and mo,
Up and down, and to and fro,
I lead by the nose: and this I know,
That vain is all our boasted lore—
A thought that burns me to the core!
True, I am wiser than all their tribe,
Doctor, Master, Priest, and Scribe;
No scruples nor doubts in my bosom dwell,
I fear no devil, believe no hell;
But with my fear all joy is gone,
All rare conceit of wisdom won;
All dreams so fond, all faith so fair,
To make men better than they are.
Nor gold have I, nor gear, nor fame,
Station, or rank, or honored name,
Here like a kennelled cur I lie!
Therefore the magic art I’ll try,
From spirit’s might and mouth to draw,
Mayhap, some key to Nature’s law;
That I no more, with solemn show,
May sweat to teach what I do not know;
That I may ken the bond that holds
The world, through all its mystic folds;
The hidden seeds of things explore,
And cheat my thought with words no more.
O might thou shine, thou full moon bright,
For the last time upon my woes,
Thou whom, by this brown desk alone,
So oft my wakeful eyes have known.
Then over books and paper rose
On me thy sad familiar light!
Oh, that beneath thy friendly ray,
On peaky summit I might stray,
Round mountain caves with spirits hover,
And flit the glimmering meadows over,
And from all fevered fumes of thinking free,
Bathe me to health within thy dewy sea.
In vain! still pines my prisoned soul
Within this curst dank dungeon-hole!
Where dimly finds ev’n heaven’s blest ray,
Through painted glass, its struggling way.
Shut in by heaps of books up-piled,
All worm-begnawed and dust-besoiled,
With yellowed papers, from the ground
To the smoked ceiling, stuck around;
Caged in with old ancestral lumber,
Cases, boxes, without number,
Broken glass, and crazy chair,
Dust and brittleness everywhere;
This is thy world, a world for a man’s soul to breathe in!
And ask I still why in my breast,
My heart beats heavy and oppressed?
And why some secret unknown sorrow
Freezes my blood, and numbs my marrow?
’Stead of the living sphere of Nature,
Where man was placed by his Creator,
Surrounds thee mouldering dust alone,
The grinning skull and skeleton.
Arise! forth to the fields, arise!
And this mysterious magic page,
From Nostradamus’ hand so sage,[n1]
Should guide thee well. Thy raptured eyes
Shall then behold what force compels
The tuneful spheres to chime together;
When, taught by Nature’s mightiest spells,
Thine innate spring of soul upwells,
As speaks one spirit to another.
In vain my thought gropes blindly here,
To make those sacred symbols clear;
Ye unseen Powers that hover near me,
Answer, I charge ye, when ye hear me!
[He opens the book, and sees the sign of the Macrocosm.][n2]
Ha! what ecstatic joy this page reveals,
At once through all my thrilling senses flowing!
Young holy zest of life my spirit feels
In every vein, in every nerve, new glowing!
Was it a God whose finger drew these signs,
That, with mild pulse of joy, and breath of rest,
Smooth the tumultuous heaving of my breast,
And with mysterious virtue spread the lines
Of Nature’s cipher bare to mortal sight?
Am I a God? so wondrous pure the light
Within me! in these tokens I behold
The powers by which all Nature is besouled.
Now may I reach the sage’s words aright;
“The world of spirits is not barred;
Thy sense is shut, thy heart is dead!
Up, scholars, bathe your hearts so hard,
In the fresh dew of morning’s red!”
[He scans carefully the sign.]
How mingles here in one the soul with soul,
And lives each portion in the living whole!
How heavenly Powers, ascending and descending,
From hand to hand their golden ewers are lending,
And bliss-exhaling swing from pole to pole!
From the high welkin to earth’s centre bounding,
Harmonious all through the great All resounding!
What wondrous show! but ah! ’tis but a show!
Where grasp I thee, thou infinite Nature, where?
And you, ye teeming breasts? ye founts whence flow
All living influences fresh and fair?
Whereon the heavens and earth dependent hang,
Where seeks relief the withered bosom’s pang?
Your founts still well, and I must pine in vain!
[He turns the book over impatiently, and beholds the sign of the Spirit of the Earth.]
What different working hath this sign?
Thou Spirit of the Earth, I feel thee nearer;
Already sees my strengthened spirit clearer;
I glow as I had drunk new wine.
New strength I feel to plunge into the strife,
And bear the woes and share the joys of life,
Buffet the blasts, and where the wild waves dash,
Look calmly on the shipwreck’s fearful crash!
Clouds hover o’er me—
The moon is dim!
The lamp’s flame wanes!
It smokes!—Red beams dart forth
Around my head—and from the vaulted roof
Falls a cold shudder down,
And grips me!—I feel
Thou hover’st near me, conjured Spirit, now;
Ha! how swells with wild delight
My bursting heart!
And feelings, strange and new,
At once through all my ravished senses dart!
I feel my inmost soul made thrall to thee!
Thou must! thou must! and were my life the fee!
[He seizes the book, and pronounces with a mysterious air the sign of the Spirit. A red flame darts forth, and the Spirit appears in the flame.
Who calls me?
Faust. [turning away]
Vision of affright!
Thou hast with mighty spell invoked me,
And to obey thy call provoked me,
Hence from my sight!
Thy panting prayer besought my might to view,
To hear my voice, and know my semblance too;
Now bending from my native sphere to please thee,
Here am I!—ha! what pitiful terrors seize thee,
And overman thee quite! where now the call
Of that proud soul, that scorned to own the thrall
Of earth, a world within itself created,
And bore and cherished? that with its fellows sated
Swelled with prophetic joy to leave its sphere,
And live a spirit with spirits, their rightful peer.
Where art thou, Faust? whose invocation rung
Upon mine ear, whose powers all round me clung?
Art thou that Faust? whom melts my breath away,
Trembling even to the life-depths of thy frame,
Like a poor worm that crawls into his clay!
Shall I then yield to thee, thou thing of flame?
I am that Faust, and Spirit is my name!
Where life’s floods flow
And its tempests rave,
Up and down I wave,
Flit I to and fro!
Birth and the grave,
Life’s hidden glow,
A shifting motion,
A boundless ocean
Whose waters heave
Thus on the sounding loom of Time I weave
The living mantle of the Deity.
Thou who round the wide world wendest,
Thou busy Spirit, how near I feel to thee!
Thou’rt like the spirit whom thou comprehendest,
Not me! [Vanishes.
I, image of the Godhead,
Dwarfed by thee! [Knocking is heard.]
O death!—’tis Wagner’s knock—I know it well,
My famulus; he comes to mar the spell!
Woe’s me that such bright vision of the spheres
Must vanish when this pedant-slave appears!
Enter Wagner in night-gown and night-cap; a lamp in his hand.
Your pardon, sir, I heard your voice declaiming,
No doubt some old Greek drama, and I came in,
To profit by your learned recitation;
For in these days the art of declamation
Is held in highest estimation;
And I have heard asserted that a preacher
Might wisely have an actor for his teacher.
Yes; when our parsons preach to make grimaces,
As here and there a not uncommon case is.
Alack! when a poor wight is so confined
Amid his books, shut up from all mankind,
And sees the world scarce on a holiday,
As through a telescope and far away,
How may he hope, with nicely tempered skill,
To bend the hearts he knows not to his will?
What you don’t feel, you’ll hunt to find in vain.
It must gush from the soul, possess the brain,
And with an instinct kindly force compel
All captive hearts to own the grateful spell;
Go to! sit o’er your books, and snip and glue
Your wretched piece-work, dressing your ragout
From others’ feasts, your piteous flames still blowing
From sparks beneath dull heaps of ashes glowing;
Vain wonderment of children and of apes,
If with such paltry meed content thou art;
The human heart to heart he only shapes,
Whose words flow warm from human heart to heart.
But the delivery is a chief concern
In Rhetoric; and alas! here I have much to learn.
Be thine to seek the honest gain,
No shallow-tinkling fool!
Sound sense finds utterance for itself,
Without the critic’s rule.
If clear your thought, and your intention true,
What need to hunt for words with much ado?
The trim orations your fine speaker weaves,
Crisping light shreds of thought for shallow minds,
Are unrefreshing as the foggy winds
That whistle through the sapless autumn leaves.
Alas! how long is art,
And human life how short!
I feel at times with all my learned pains,
As if a weight of lead were at my heart,
And palsy on my brains.
How high to climb up learning’s lofty stair,
How hard to find the helps that guide us there;
And when scarce half the way behind him lies,
His glass is run, and the poor devil dies!
The parchment-roll is that the holy river,
From which one draught shall slake the thirst forever?
The quickening power of science only he
Can know, from whose own soul it gushes free.
And yet the spirit of a bygone age,
To re-create may well the wise engage;
To know the choicest thoughts of every ancient sage,
And think how far above their best we’ve mounted high!
O yes, I trow, even to the stars, so high!
My friend, the ages that are past
Are as a book with seven seals made fast;
And what men call the spirit of the age,
Is but the spirit of the gentlemen
Who glass their own thoughts in the pliant page,
And image back themselves. O, then,
What precious stuff they dish, and call’t a book,
Your stomach turns at the first look;
A heap of rubbish, and a lumber room,
At best some great state farce with proclamations,
Pragmatic maxims, protocols, orations,
Such as from puppet-mouths do fitly come!
But then the world!—the human heart and mind!
Somewhat of this to know are all inclined.
Yes! as such knowledge goes! but what man dares
To call the child by the true name it bears?
The noble few that something better knew,
And to the gross reach of the general view,
Their finer feelings bared, and insight true,
From oldest times were burnt and crucified.
I do beseech thee, friend—’tis getting late,
’Twere wise to put an end to our debate.
Such learned talk to draw through all the night
With Doctor Faust were my supreme delight;
But on the morrow, being Easter, I
Your patience with some questions more may try.
With zeal I’ve followed Learning’s lofty call,
Much I have learned, but fain would master all. [Exit.
Strange how his pate alone hope never leaves,
Who still to shallow husks of learning cleaves!
With greedy hand who digs for hidden treasure,
And, when he finds a grub, rejoiceth above measure!
Durst such a mortal voice usurp mine ear
When all the spirit-world was floating near?
Yet, for this once, my thanks are free,
Thou meanest of earth’s sons, to thee!
Thy presence drew me back from sheer despair,
And shock too keen for mortal nerve to bear;
Alas! so giant-great the vision came,
That I might feel me dwarf, ev’n as I am.
I, God’s own image that already seemed
To gaze where Truth’s eternal mirror gleamed,
And, clean divested of this cumbering clay,
Basked in the bliss of heaven’s vivific ray;
I, more than cherub, with fresh pulses glowing,
Who well nigh seemed through Nature’s deep veins flowing
Like a pure god, creative virtue knowing,
What sharp reproof my hot presumption found!
One word of thunder smote me to the ground.
Alas! ’tis true! not I with thee and thine
May dare to cope! the strength indeed was mine
To make thee own my call, but not
To chain thee to the charmèd spot.
When that blest rapture thrilled my frame,
I felt myself so small, so great;
But thou didst spurn me back with shame,
Into this crazy human state.
Where find I aid? what follow? what eschew?
Shall I that impulse of my soul obey?
Alas! alas! but I must feel it true,
The pains we suffer and the deeds we do,
Are clogs alike in the free spirit’s way.
The godlike essence of our heaven-born powers
Must yield to strange and still more strange intrusion;
Soon as the good things of this world are ours,
We deem our nobler self a vain illusion,
And heaven-born instincts—very life of life—
Are strangled in the low terrestrial strife.
Young fancy, that once soared with flight sublime,
On venturous vans, ev’n to th’ Eternal’s throne,
Now schools her down a little space to own,
When in the dark engulfing stream of time,
Our fair-faced pleasures perish one by one.
Care nestles deep in every heart,
And, cradling there the secret smart,
Rocks to and fro, and peace and joy are gone.
What though new masks she still may wear,
Wealth, house and hall, with acres rich and rare,
As wife or child appear she, water, flame,
Dagger, or poison, she is still the same;
And still we fear the ill which happens never,
And what we lose not are bewailing ever.
Alas! alas! too deep ’tis felt! too deep!
With gods may vie no son of mortal clay;
More am I like to worms that crawl and creep,
And dig, and dig through earth their lightless way,
Which, while they feed on dust in narrow room,
Find from the wanderer’s foot their death-blow and their tomb.
Is it not dust that this old wall
From all its musty benches shows me?
And dust the trifling trumperies all
That in this world of moths enclose me?
Here is it that I hope to find
Wherewith to sate my craving mind?
Need I spell out page after page,
To know that men in every age
And every clime, have spurred in vain
The jaded muscle and the tortured brain,
And here and there, with centuries between,
One happy man belike hath been?
Thou grinning skull, what wouldst thou say,
Save that thy brain, in chase of truth, like mine,
With patient toil pursued its floundering way
By glimmering lights that through dim twilight-shine?
Ye instruments, in sooth, now laugh at me,
With wheel, and cog-wheel, ring, and cylinder;
At Nature’s door I stood; ye should have been the key,
But though your ward be good, the bolt ye cannot stir.
Mysterious Nature may not choose
To unveil her secrets to the stare of day,
And what from the mind’s eye she stores away,
Thou canst not force from her with levers and with screws.
Thou antique gear, why dost thou cumber
My chamber with thy useless lumber?
My father housed thee on this spot,
And I must keep thee, though I need thee not!
Thou parchment roll that hast been smoked upon
Long as around this desk the sorry lamp-light shone;
Much better had I spent my little gear,
Than with this little to sit mouldering here;
Why should a man possess ancestral treasures,
But by possession to enlarge his pleasures?
The thing we use not a dead burden lies,
But what the moment brings the wise man knows to prize.
But what is this? there in the corner; why
Does that flask play the magnet to mine eye?
And why within me does this strange light shine,
As the soft nightly moon through groves of sombre pine?
I greet thee, matchless phial; and with devotion
I take thee down, and in thy mellow potion
I reverence human wit and human skill.
Fine essence of the opiate dew of sleep,
Dear extract of all subtle powers that kill,
Be mine the first-fruits of thy strength to reap!
I look on thee, and soothed is my heart’s pain;
I grasp thee, straight is lulled my racking brain,
And wave by wave my soul’s flood ebbs away.
I see wide ocean’s swell invite my wistful eyes,
And at my feet her sparkling mirror lies;
To brighter shores invites a brighter day.
A car of fire comes hovering o’er my head,
With gentle wafture; now let me pursue
New flight adventurous, through the starry blue,
And be my wingèd steps unburdened sped
To spheres of uncramped energy divine!
And may indeed this life of gods be mine,
But now a worm, and cased in mortal clay?
Yes! only let strong will high thought obey,
To turn thy back on the blest light of day,
And open burst the portals which by most
With fear, that fain would pass them by, are crossed.
Now is the time by deeds, not words, to prove
That earth-born man yields not to gods above.
Before that gloomy cavern not to tremble,
Where all those spectral shapes of dread assemble,
Which Fancy, slave of every childish fear,
Bids, to the torment of herself, appear;
Forward to strive unto that passage dire,
Whose narrow mouth seems fenced with hell’s collected fire;
With glad resolve this leap to make, even though
That thing we call our soul should into nothing flow!
Now come thou forth! thou crystal goblet clear,
From out thy worshipful old case,
Where thou hast lain unused this many a year.
In days of yore right gayly didst thou grace
The festive meetings of my grey-beard sires,
When passed from hand to hand the draught that glee inspires.
Thy goodly round, the figures there
Pictured with skill so quaint and rare,
Each lusty drinker’s duty to declare
In ready rhyme what meaning they might bear,
And at one draught to drain the brimming cup,—
All this recalls full many a youthful night.
Now to no comrade shall I yield thee up,
Nor whet my wit upon thy pictures bright;
Here is a juice intoxicates the soul
Quickly. With dark brown flood it crowns the bowl.
Let this last draught, my mingling and my choice,
With blithesome heart be quaffed, and joyful voice,
A solemn greeting to the rising morn!
[A sound of bells is heard, and distant quire-singing.
Quire of Angels.
Christ is arisen!
Joy be to mortal man,
Whom, since the world began,
By his sins merited,
Through his veins creeping,
Sin-bound are keeping.
What sweet soft peals, what notes, so clear and pure,
Draw from my lips the glass perforce away?
Thus early do the bells their homage pay,
Of holy hymning to new Easter day!
Already sing the quires the soothing song
That erst, round the dark grave, an angel throng
Sang, to proclaim the great salvation sure!
Quire of Women.
With spices and balsams
All sweetly we bathed Him;
With cloths of fine linen
All cleanly we swathed Him;
In the tomb of the rock, where
His body was lain,
We come, and we seek
Our loved Master, in vain!
Quire of Angels.
Christ is arisen!
Praised be His name!
Whose love shared with sinners
Their sorrow and shame;
Who bore the hard trial
And, victorious, ascends to the skies whence
What seek ye here, ye gently-swaying tones,
Sweet seraph-music ’mid a mortal’s groans?
Soft-natured men may own that soothing chaunt;
I hear the message, but the faith I want.
For still the child to Faith most dear
Was Miracle: nor I may vaunt
To mount, and mingle with the sphere
Whence such fair news floats down to mortal ear.
And yet, with youthful memories fraught, this strain
Hath power to call me back to life again.
A time there was when Heaven’s own kiss,
On solemn Sabbath, seemed to fall on me,
The minster-bell boomed forth no human bliss,
And prayer to God was burning ecstasy.
A dim desire of inarticulate good
Drove me o’er hill and dale, through wold and wood,
And, while hot tears streamed from mine eyes,
I felt a world within me rise.
This hymn proclaimed the sports of youthful days,
And merry-makings when the spring began;
Now Memory’s potent spell my spirit sways,
And thoughts of childhood rule the full-grown man.
O! sound thou on, thou sweet celestial strain,
The tear doth gush, Earth claims her truant son again!
Quire of the Disciples.
By death untimely, though
Laid in the lowly grave,
Soars He sublimely now
Whence He came us to save.
He on His Father’s breast,
Fountain of life and light;
We on the earth oppressed,
Groping through cloudy night;
Comfortless left are we,
Toiling through life’s annoy,
Weeping to envy thee,
Master, thy joy!
Quire of Angels.
Christ is risen
From Death’s corrupting thrall,
Break from your prison
And follow His call!
Praising by deeds of love
Him who now reigns above,
Feeding the brethren poor,
Preaching salvation sure,
Joys that shall aye endure,
Knowing nor doubt nor fear,
While He is near.
end of act first.
Before the gate of the town.
Motley groups of people crowding out to walk.
Brethren, whither bound?
To the Jægerhaus.
We to the mill.
At Wasserhof best cheer is to be found.
But then the road is not agreeable.
And what dost thou?
I go where others go.
Let’s go to Burgdorf; there you’ll find, I know,
The best of beer, and maidens to your mind,
And roaring frolics too, if that’s your kind.
Thou over-wanton losel, thou!
Dost itch again for some new row?
I loathe the place; and who goes thither,
He and I don’t go together.
A Servant Girl.
No! no! back to the town I’d rather fare.
We’re sure to find him ’neath the poplars there.
No mighty matter that for me,
Since he will walk with none but thee,
In every dance, too, he is thine:
What have thy joys to do with mine?
To-day he’ll not come single; sure he said
That he would bring with him the curly-head.
Blitz, how the buxom wenches do their paces!
Come, let us make acquaintance with their faces.
A stiff tobacco, and a good strong beer,
And a fine girl well-rigged, that’s the true Burschen cheer!
Look only at those spruce young fellows there!
In sooth, ’tis more than one can bear;
The best society have they, if they please,
And run after such low-bred queans as these!
Second Student. [to the first]
Not quite so fast! there comes a pair behind,
So smug and trim, so blithe and debonair;
And one is my fair neighbor, I declare;
She is a girl quite to my mind.
They pass along so proper and so shy,
And yet they’ll take us with them by and by.
No, no! these girls with nice conceits they bore you,
Have at the open game that lies before you!
The hand that plies the busy broom on Monday,
Caressed her love the sweetest on the Sunday.
No! this new burgomaster don’t please me,
Now that he’s made, his pride mounts high and higher;
And for the town, say, what does he?
Are we not deep and deeper in the mire?
In strictness day by day he waxes,
And more than ever lays on taxes.
A Beggar. [singing]
Ye gentle sirs, and ladies fair,
With clothes so fine, and cheeks so red,
O pass not by, but from your eye
Be pity’s gracious virtue shed!
Let me not harp in vain; for blest
Is he alone who gives away;
And may this merry Easter-feast
Be for the poor no fasting day!
Upon a Sunday or a holiday,
No better talk I know than war and warlike rumors,
When in Turkey far away,
The nations fight out their ill humors.
We sit i’ the window, sip our glass at ease,
And see how down the stream the gay ships gently glide;
Then wend us safely home at even-tide,
Blessing our stars we live in times of peace.
Yea, neighbor, there you speak right wisely;
Ev’n so do I opine precisely.
They may split their skulls, they may,
And turn the world upside down,
So long as we, in our good town,
Keep jogging in the good old way.
Old Woman. [to the Burghers’ Daughters.]
Hey-day, how fine! these be of gentle stuff,
The eyes that would not look on you are blind.
Only not quite so high! ’Tis well enough—
And what you wish I think I know to find.
First Burgher’s Daughter.
Agatha, come! I choose not to be seen
With such old hags upon the public green;
Though on St. Andrew’s night she let me see
My future lover bodily.
Second Burgher’s Daughter.
Mine too, bold, soldier-like, she made to pass,
With his wild mates, before me in a glass;
I hunt him out from place to place,
But nowhere yet he shows his face.
Castles and turrets
And battlements high,
Maids with proud spirits,
And looks that defy!
From the red throat of death,
With the spear and the glaive,
We pluck the ripe glory
That blooms for the brave.
The trumpet invites him,
With soul-stirring call,
To where joy delights him,
Nor terrors appall.
On storming maintains he
Triumphant the field,
Strong fortresses gains he,
Proud maidens must yield.
Thus carries the soldier
The prize of the day,
And merrily, merrily
Enter Faust and Wagner.
The ice is now melted from stream and brook
By the Spring’s genial life-giving look;
Forth smiles young Hope in the greening vale,
And ancient Winter, feeble and frail,
Creeps cowering back to the mountains grey;
And thence he sends, as he hies him away,
Fitfullest brushes of icy hail,
Sweeping the plain in his harmless flight.
But the sun may brook no white,
Everywhere stirs he the vegetive strife,
Flushing the fields with the glow of life;
But since few flowers yet deck the mead
He takes him gay-dressed folk in their stead.
Now from these heights I turn me back
To view the city’s busy track.
Through the dark, deep-throated gate
They are pouring and spreading in motley array.
All sun themselves so blithe to-day.
The Lord’s resurrection they celebrate,
For that themselves to life are arisen.
From lowly dwellings’ murky prison,
From labor and business’ fetters tight,
From the press of gables and roofs that meet
Over the squeezing narrow street,
From the churches’ solemn night
Have they all been brought to the light.
Lo! how nimbly the multitude
Through the fields and the gardens hurry,
How, in its breadth and length, the flood
Wafts onward many a gleesome wherry,
And this last skiff moves from the brink
So laden that it seems to sink.
Ev’n from the far hills’ winding way
I’ the sunshine glitter their garments gay.
I hear the hamlet’s noisy mirth;
Here is the people’s heaven on earth,
And great and small rejoice to-day.
Here may I be a man, here dare
The joys of men with men to share.
With you, Herr Doctor, one is proud to walk,
Sharing your fame, improving by your talk;
But, for myself, I shun the multitude,
Being a foe to everything that’s rude.
I may not brook their senseless howling,
Their fiddling, screaming, ninepin bowling;
Like men possessed, they rave along,
And call it joy, and call it song.
Peasants. [beneath a lime-tree]
The shepherd for the dance was dressed,
With ribbon, wreath, and spotted vest,
Right sprucely he did show.
And round and round the linden-tree
All danced as mad as mad could be.
Juchheisa, heisa, he!
So went the fiddle bow.
Then with a jerk he wheeled him by,
And on a maiden that stood nigh
He with his elbow came.
Quick turned the wench, and, “Sir,” quoth she,
“Such game is rather rough for me.”
Juchheisa, heisa, he!
“For shame, I say, for shame!”
Yet merrily went it round and round,
And right and left they swept the ground,
And coat and kirtle flew;
And they grew red, and they grew warm,
And, panting, rested arm in arm;
Juchheisa, heisa, he!
And hips on elbows too.
And “Softly, softly,” quoth the quean,
“How many a bride hath cheated been
By men as fair as you!”
But he spoke a word in her ear aside,
And from the tree it shouted wide
Juchheisa, heisa, he!
With fife and fiddle too.
An Old Peasant.
Herr Doctor, ’tis most kind in you,
And all here prize the boon, I’m sure,
That one so learned should condescend
To share the pastimes of the poor.
Here, take this pitcher, filled ev’n now
With cooling water from the spring.
May God with grace to slake your thirst,
Bless the libation that we bring;
Be every drop a day to increase
Your years in happiness and peace!
Your welcome offering I receive; the draught
By kind hands given, with grateful heart be quaffed!
[The people collect round him in a circle.
Soothly, Herr Doctor, on this tide,
Your grace and kindness passes praise;
Good cause had we whileome to bless
The name of Faust in evil days.
Here stand there not a few whose lives
Your father’s pious care attest,
Saved from fell fever’s rage, when he
Set limits to the deadly pest.
You were a young man then, and went
From hospital to hospital;
Full many a corpse they bore away,
But you came scaithless back from all;
Full many a test severe you stood
Helping helped by the Father of Good.
All the Peasants.
Long may the man who saved us live,
His aid in future need to give!
Give thanks to Him above, who made
The hand that helped you strong to aid.
[He goes on farther with Wagner.
How proud must thou not feel, most learnèd man,
To hear the praises of this multitude;
Thrice happy he who from his talents can
Reap such fair harvest of untainted good!
The father shows you to his son,
And all in crowds to see you run;
The dancers cease their giddy round,
The fiddle stops its gleesome sound;
They form a ring where’er you go,
And in the air their caps they throw;
A little more, and they would bend the knee,
As if the Holy Host came by in thee!
Yet a few paces, till we reach yon stone,
And there our wearied strength we may repair.
Here oft I sat in moody thought alone,
And vexed my soul with fasting and with prayer.
Rich then in hope, in faith then strong,
With tears and sobs my hands I wrung,
And weened the end of that dire pest,
From heaven’s high-counselled lord to wrest.
Now their applause with mockery flouts mine ear.
O could’st thou ope my heart and read it here,
How little sire and son
For such huge meed of thanks have done!
My father was a grave old gentleman,
Who o’er the holy secrets of creation,
Sincere, but after his peculiar plan,
Brooded, with whimsied speculation.
Who, with adepts in painful gropings spent
His days, within the smoky kitchen pent,
And, after recipes unnumbered, made
The unnatural mixtures of his trade.
The tender lily and the lion red,
A suitor bold, in tepid bath were wed,
With open fiery flame well baked together,
And squeezed from one bride-chamber to another;
Then, when the glass the queen discovered,
Arrayed in youthful glistening pride,
Here was the medicine, and the patient died,
But no one questioned who recovered.
Thus in these peaceful vales and hills,
The plague was not the worst of ills,
And Death his ghastly work pursued,
The better for the hellish brewst we brewed.
Myself to thousands the curst juice supplied;
They pined away, and I must live to hear
The praise of mercy in the murderer’s ear.
How can you with such whims be grieved?
Surely a good man does his part
With scrupulous care to use the art
Which from his father he received.
When we, in youth, place on our sire reliance,
He opes to us his stores of information;
When we, as men, extend the bounds of science,
Our sons build higher upon our foundation.
O happy he who yet hath hope to float
Above this sea of crude distempered thought!
What we know not is what we need to know,
And what we know, we might as well let go;
But cease; cheat not the moment of its right
By curious care and envious repining;
Behold how fair, in evening’s mellow light,
The green-embosomed cottages are shining.
The sun slants down, the day hath lived his date,
But on he hies to tend another sphere.
O that no wing upon my wish may wait
To follow still and still in his career!
Upborne on evening’s quenchless beams to greet
The noiseless world illumined at my feet,
Each peaceful vale, each crimson-flaming peak,
Each silver rill whose tinkling waters seek
The golden flood that feeds the fruitful plain.
Then savage crags, and gorges dark, would rein
My proud careering course in vain;
Ev’n now the sea spreads out its shimmering bays,
And charms the sense with ectasy of gaze.
Yet seems the god at length to sink;
But, borne by this new impulse of my mind,
I hasten on, his quenchless ray to drink,
The day before me, and the night behind,
The heavens above me, under me the sea.
A lovely dream! meanwhile the god is gone.
Alas! the soul, in wingèd fancy free,
Seeks for a corporal wing, and findeth none.
Yet in each breast ’tis deeply graven,
Upward and onward still to pant,
When over us, lost in the blue of heaven,
Her quavering song the lark doth chaunt;
When over piny peaks sublime
The eagle soars with easy strain,
And over lands and seas the crane
Steers homeward to a sunnier clime.
I too have had my hours of whim,
But feeling here runs over reason’s brim.
Forest and field soon tire the eye to scan,
And eagle’s wings were never made for man.
How otherwise the mind and its delights!
From book to book, from page to page, we go.
Thus sweeten we the dreary winter nights,
Till every limb with new life is aglow;
And chance we but unroll some rare old parchment scroll,
All heaven stoops down, and finds a lodgment in the soul.
Thou know’st but the one impulse—it is well!
Tempt not the yearning that divides the heart.
Two souls, alas! within my bosom dwell!
This strives from that with adverse strain to part.
The one, bound fast by stubborn might of love,
To this low earth with grappling organs clings;
The other spurns the clod, and soars on wings
To join a nobler ancestry above.
Oh! be there spirits in the air,
’Twixt earth and heaven that float with potent sway,
Drop from your sphere of golden-glowing day,
And waft me hence new varied life to share!
Might I but own a mantle’s fold enchanted,
To climes remote to bear me on its wing,
More than the costliest raiment I should vaunt it,
More than the purple robe that clothes a king.
Invoke not rash the well-known spirit-throng,
That stream unseen the atmosphere along,
And dangers thousandfold prepare,
Weak men from every quarter to ensnare.
From the keen north in troops they float,
With sharpest teeth and arrow-pointed tongues;
From the harsh east they bring a blasting drought,
And feed with wasting greed upon thy lungs.
When from the arid south their sultry powers
They send, hot fires upheaping on thy crown,
The West brings forth his swarms with cooling showers,
To end in floods that sweep thy harvests down.
Quick-ear’d are they, on wanton mischief bent,
And work our will with surer bait to ply us;
They show as fair as heaven’s own couriers sent,
And lisp like angels when they most belie us.
But let us hence! the air is chill,
The cold gray mists are creeping down the hill,
Now is the time to seek the bright fireside.
Why standest thou with strange eyes opened wide?
What twilight-spectre may thy fancy trouble?
See’st thou that swarthy dog sweeping through corn and stubble?
I saw him long ago—not strange he seemed to me.
Look at him well—what should the creature be?
He seems a poodle who employs his snout
Now here, now there, to snuff his master out.
Dost thou not see how nigher still and nigher
His spiral circles round us wind?
And, err I not, he leaves behind
His track a train of sparkling fire.
A small black poodle is all I see;
Surely some strange delusion blinds thee!
Methinks soft magic circles winds he,
About, about, a snare for thee and me.
I see him only doubtful springing round,
Having two strangers for his master found.
He draws him closer—now he comes quite near!
A dog, be sure, and not a ghost, is here.
He growls, and looks about in fear,
And crouches down, and looks to you,
And wags his tail—what any dog will do.
Come hither, poodle!
’Tis a drollish brute;
When you stand still, then stands he mute,
But when you speak, he springs as he would speak to you;
He will bring back what you let fall,
And fetch your stick out of the water.
You are quite right. There’s no such matter.
No trace of ghost—a dog well trained, that’s all!
A well-trained dog may well engage
The favor of a man most sage;
This poodle well deserves your recognition;
Few students learn so much from good tuition.
[Exeunt, going in through the gate of the city.
Faust. [entering with the Poodle.]
Now field and meadow lie behind me,
Hushed ’neath the veil of deepest night,
And thoughts of solemn seeming find me,
Too holy for the garish light.
Calm now the blood that wildly ran,
Asleep the hand of lawless strife;
Now wakes to life the love of man,
The love of God now wakes to life.
Cease, poodle! why snuff’st and snifflest thou so,
Running restless to and fro?
Behind the stove there lie at rest,
And take for bed my cushion the best!
And as without, on our mountain-ramble,
We joyed to see thy freakish gambol,
So here, my hospitable care,
A quiet guest, and welcome share.
When in our narrow cell confined,
The friendly lamp begins to burn,
Then clearer sees the thoughtful mind,
With searching looks that inward turn.
Bright Hope again within us beams,
And Reason’s voice again is strong,
We thirst for life’s untroubled streams,
For the pure fount of life we long.
Quiet thee, poodle! it seems not well
To break, with thy growling, the holy spell
Of my soul’s music, that refuses
All fellowship with bestial uses.
Full well we know that the human brood,
What they don’t understand condemn,
And murmur in their peevish mood
At things too fair and good for them;
Belike the cur, as curs are they,
Thus growls and snarls his bliss away.
But, alas! already I feel it well,
No more may peace within this bosom dwell.
Why must the stream so soon dry up,
And I lie panting for the cup
That mocks my lips? so often why
Drink pleasure’s shallow fount, when scarce yet tasted, dry?
Yet is this evil not without remeid;
We long for heavenly food to feed
Our heaven-born spirit, and the heart, now bent
On things divine, to revelation turns,
Which nowhere worthier or purer burns,
Than here in our New Testament.
I feel strange impulse in my soul
The sacred volume to unroll,
With honest purpose, once for all,
The holy Greek Original
Into my honest German to translate.
[He opens the Bible and reads.]
“In the beginning was the Word:” thus here
The text stands written; but no clear
Meaning shines here for me, and I must wait,
A beggar at dark mystery’s gate,
Lamed in the start of my career.
The naked word I dare not prize so high,
I must translate it differently,
If by the Spirit I am rightly taught.
“In the beginning of all things was Thought.”
The first line let me ponder well,
Lest my pen outstrip my sense;
Is it Thought wherein doth dwell
I change the phrase, and write—the course
Of the great stream of things was shaped by Force.
But even here, before I lift my pen,
A voice of warning bids me try again.
At length, at length, the Spirit helps my need,
I write—“In the beginning was the Deed.”
Wilt thou keep thy dainty berth,
Poodle, use a gentler mirth,
Cease thy whimpering and howling,
And keep for other place thy growling.
Such a noisy inmate may
Not my studious leisure cumber;
You or I, without delay,
Restless cur, must leave the chamber!
Not willingly from thee I take
The right of hospitality.
But if thou wilt my quiet break,
Seek other quarters—thou hast exit free.
But what must I see?
What vision strange
Beyond the powers
Of Nature’s range?
Am I awake, or bound with a spell?
How wondrously the brute doth swell!
Long and broad
In a form that no form
Of a dog may be!
What spectre brought I into the house?
He stands already, with glaring eyes,
And teeth in grinning ranks that rise,
Large as a hippopotamus!
O! I have thee now!
For such half-brood of hell as thou
The key of Solomon the wise
Is surest spell to exorcise.[n3]
Spirits. [in the passage without]
Brother spirits, have a care!
One within is prisoned there!
Follow him none!—for he doth quail
Like a fox, trap-caught by the tail.
But let us watch!
Hover here, hover there,
Up and down amid the air;
For soon this sly old lynx of hell
Will tear him free, and all be well.
If we can by foul or fair,
We will free him from the snare,
And repay good service thus,
Done by him oft-times for us.
First let the charm of the elements four
The nature of the brute explore.
Let the Salamander glow,
Undene twine her crested wave,
Silphe into ether flow,
And Kobold vex him, drudging slave![n4]
Whoso knows not
The elements four,
And hidden power,
In the magic art
Hath he no part.
Spiring in flames glow
Rushing in waves flow
Shine forth in meteor-beauty
Work thy domestic duty
Step forth and finish the spell.
None of the four
In the brute doth dwell.
It lies quite still with elfish grinning there.
It shall know a stronger charm,
It shall shrink from sharper harm,
When by a mightier name I swear.
Art thou a fugitive
Urchin of hell?
So yield thee at length
To this holiest spell!
Bend thee this sacred
Which the powers of darkness
Already swells he up with bristling hair.
Can’st thou read it,
The holy sign,
The emblem divine?
Whom none can name,
Moving and moulding
The wide world’s frame,
Yet nailed to the cross
With a death of shame.
Now behind the stove he lies,
And swells him up to an elephant’s size,
And fills up all the space.
He’ll melt into a cloud; not so!
Down, I say, down, proud imp, and know
Here, at thy master’s feet, thy place!
In vain, in vain, thou seek’st to turn thee,
With an holy flame I burn thee!
Wait not the charm
Of the triple-glowing light!
Beware the harm
If thou invite
Upon thy head my spell of strongest might!
[The clouds vanish, and Mephistopheles comes forward from behind the fireplace, dressed like an itinerant scholar.
Faust and Mephistopheles.
What’s all the noise about? I’m here at leisure
To work your worship’s will and pleasure.
So, so! such kernel cracked from such a shell!
A travelling scholar! the jest likes me well!
I greet the learned gentleman!
I’ve got a proper sweating ’neath your ban.
What is thy name?
What is my power were better,
From one who so despises the mere letter,
Who piercing through the coarse material shell,
With Being’s inmost substance loves to dwell.
Yes, but you gentlemen proclaim
Your nature mostly in your name;
Destroyer, God of Flies, the Adversary,
Such names their own interpretation carry.
But say, who art thou?
I am a part of that primordial Might,
Which always wills the wrong, and always works the right.
You speak in riddles; the interpretation?
I am the Spirit of Negation:
And justly so; for all that is created
Deserves to be annihilated.
’Twere better, thus, that there were no creation.
Thus everything that you call evil,
Destruction, ruin, death, the devil,
Is my pure element and sphere.
Thou nam’st thyself a part, yet standest wholly here.
I speak to thee the truth exact,
The plain, unvarnished, naked fact,
Though man, that microcosm of folly deems
Himself the compact whole he seems.
Part of the part I am that erst was all,
Part of the darkness, from whose primal pall
Was born the light, the proud rebellious Light,
Which now disputeth with its mother Night,
Her rank and room i’ the world by ancient right.
Yet vainly; though it strain and struggle much,
’Tis bound to body with the closer clutch;
From body it streams, on body paints a hue,
And body bends it from its course direct;
Thus in due season I expect,
When bodies perish, Light will perish too.
Hold! now I know thy worthy duties all!
Unable to annihilate wholesale,
Thy mischief now thou workest by retail.
And even thus, my progress is but small.
This something, the big lumpish world, which stands
Opposed to nothing, still ties my hands,
And spite of all the ground that I seem winning,
Remains as firm as in the beginning;
With storms and tempests, earthquakes and burnings,
Earth still enjoys its evenings and mornings,
And the accursèd fry of brute and human clay,
On them my noblest skill seems worse than thrown away.
How many thousands have I not buried!
Yet still a new fresh blood is hurried
Through fresh young veins, that I must sheer despair.
The earth, the water, and the air,
The moist, the dry, the hot, the cold,
A thousand germs of life unfold;
And had I not of flame made reservation,
I had no portion left in the creation.
And thus thou seekest to oppose
The genial power, from which all life and motion flows,
Against Existence’ universal chain,
Clenching thy icy devil’s fist in vain!
Try some more profitable feats,
Strange son of Chaos, full of cross conceits.
The hint is good, and on occasion,
May well deserve consideration;
Meanwhile, with your good leave, I would withdraw.
My leave! do I make devil’s law?
The liberty, methinks, is all your own.
I see you here to-day with pleasure,
Go now, and come back at your leisure.
Here is the door, there is the window, and
A chimney, if you choose it, is at hand.
Let me speak plain! there is a small affair,
That, without your assistance, bars my way,
The goblin-foot upon the threshold there—
The pentagram stands in your way![n6]
Ha! tell me then, thou imp of sin,
If this be such a potent spell
To bar thy going out, how cam’st thou in?
What could have cheated such a son of hell?
Look at it well, the drawing is not true;
One angle, that towards the door, you see,
Left a small opening for me.
So so! for once dame Fortune has been kind,
And I have made a prisoner of you!
Chance is not always blind.
The cur sprang in before it looked about;
But now the thing puts on a serious air;
The devil is in the house and can’t get out.
You have the window, why not jump out there?
It is a law which binds all ghosts and sprites;
Wherever they creep in, there too they must creep out;
I came in at the door, by the door I must go out.
So so! then hell too has its laws and rights,
Thus might one profit by the powers of evil,
And make an honest bargain with the devil.
The devil, sir, makes no undue exaction,
And pays what he has promised to a fraction;
But this affair requires consideration,
We’ll leave it for some future conversation.
For this time, I beseech your grace,
Let me be gone; I’ve work to do.
Stay but one minute, I’ve scarce seen your face.
Speak; you should know the newest of the new.
I’ll answer thee at length some other day;
At present, I beseech thee, let me loose.
I laid no trap to snare thee in the way,
Thyself didst thrust thy head into the noose;
Whoso hath caught the devil, hold him fast!
Such lucky chance returns not soon again.
If ’tis your pleasure so, I will remain,
But on condition that the time be passed
In worthy wise, and you consent to see
Some cunning sleights of spirit-craft from me.
Thy fancy jumps with mine. Thou may’st commence,
So that thy dainty tricks but please the sense.
Thou shalt, in this one hour, my friend,
More for thy noblest senses gain,
Than in the year’s dull formal train,
From stale beginning to stale end.
The songs the gentle Spirits sing thee,
The lovely visions that they bring thee,
Are not an empty juggling show.
On thine ear sweet sounds shall fall,
Odorous breezes round thee blow,
Taste, and touch, and senses all
With delicious tingling glow.
No lengthened prelude need we here,
Sing, Spirit-imps that hover near!
Vanish ye murky
Old arches away!
Through the cloud curtain
That blinds heaven’s ray
Mild and serenely
Look forth the queenly
Eye of the day!
Star now and starlet
Beam more benign,
And purer suns now
In beauty ethereal,
A swift-moving throng,
Of spirits aërial,
Are waving along,
And the soul follows
On wings of desire;
The fluttering garlands
That deck their attire,
Cover the meadows,
Cover the bowers,
Where lovers with lovers
Breathe rapturous hours.
Bower on bower!
The shoots of the vine,
With the leaves of the fig-tree,
Their tendrils entwine!
Clusters of ripe grapes,
Into the wine-press
From fountains divine
Bright rivers of wine
Come foaming and swirling;
O’er gems of the purest,
Sparkling and purling,
They flow and they broaden
In bright vista seen,
To deep-bosomed lakes
Lightly fringed with the green,
Where leafy woods nod
In their tremulous sheen.
On light-oaring pinions
The birds cut the gale,
Through the breezy dominions
As sunward they sail;
They sail on swift wings
To the isles of the blest,
On the soft swelling waves
That are cradled to rest;
Where we hear the glad spirits
In jubilee sing,
As o’er the green meadows
Fleet-bounding they spring:
With light airy footing,
A numberless throng,
Like meteors shooting
The mountains along;
Some there are flinging
Their breasts to the seas,
Others are swinging
In undulant ease,
Life’s tissue divine,
Where pure stars are shining
In beauty benign!
He sleeps! well done, ye airy urchins! I
Remain your debtor for this lullaby,
By which so bravely ye have sung asleep
This restless spirit, who, with all his wit,
Is not yet quite the man with cunning cast,
To hook the devil and hold him fast.
Around him let your shapes fantastic flit,
And in a sea of dreams his senses steep.
But now this threshold’s charm to disenchant,
The tooth of a rat is all I want;
Nor need I make a lengthened conjuration,
I hear one scraping there in preparation.
The lord of the rats and of the mice,
Of the flies, and frogs, and bugs, and lice,
Commands you with your teeth’s good saw,
The threshold of this door to gnaw!
Forth come, and there begin to file,
Where he lets fall this drop of oil.
Ha! there he jumps! that angle there,
With thy sharp teeth I bid thee tear,
Which jutting forward, sad disaster,
Unwilling prisoner keeps thy master.
Briskly let the work go on,
One bite more and it is done! [Exit.
Faust. [awakening from his trance]
Once more the juggler Pleasure cheats my lip,
Gone the bright spirit-dream, and left no trace,
That I spake with the devil face to face,
And that a poodle dog gave me the slip!
Faust’s Study as before.
Who’s there to break my peace once more? come in!
Thou must repeat it thrice.
Thus with good omen we begin;
I come to give you good advice,
And hope we’ll understand each other.
The idle fancies to expel,
That in your brain make such a pother,
At your service behold me here,
Of noble blood, a cavalier,
A gallant youth rigged out with grace,
In scarlet coat with golden lace,
A short silk mantle, and a bonnet,
With a gay cock’s feather on it,
And at my side a long sharp sword.
Now listen to a well-meant word;
Do thou the like, and follow me,
All unembarrassed thus and free,
To mingle in the busy scenes
Of life, and know what living means.
Still must I suffer, clothe me as you may,
This narrow earthly life’s incumbrancy;
Too old I am to be content with play,
Too young from every longing to be free.
What can the world hold forth for me to gain?
Abstain, it saith, and still it saith, Abstain!
This is the burden of the song
That in our ears eternal rings,
Life’s dreary litany lean and long,
That each dull moment hoarsely sings.
With terror wake I in the morn from sleep,
And bitter tears might often weep,
To see the day, when its dull course is run,
That brings to fruit not one small wish,—not one!
That, with capricious criticising,
Each taste of joy within my bosom rising,
Ere it be born, destroys, and in my breast
Chokes every thought that gives existence zest,
With thousand soulless trifles of an hour.
And when the dark night-shadows lower,
I seek to ease my aching brain
Upon a weary couch in vain.
With throngs of feverish dreams possessed,
Even in the home of sleep I find no rest;
The god, that in my bosom dwells,
Can stir my being’s inmost wells;
But he who sways supreme our finer stuff,
Moves not the outward world, hard, obdurate, and tough.
Thus my existence is a load of woes,
Death my best friend, and life my worst of foes.
And yet methinks this friend you call your best,
Is seldom, when he comes, a welcome guest.
Oh! happy he to whom, in victory’s glance,
Death round his brow the bloody laurel winds!
Whom, ’mid the circling hurry of the dance,
Locked in a maiden’s close embrace he finds;
O! would to God that I had sunk that night
In tranceful death before the Spirit’s might!
Yet, on a certain night, a certain man was slow
To drink a certain brown potation out.
It seems ’tis your delight to play the scout.
Omniscient am I not; but many things I know.
If, in that moment’s wild confusion,
A well-known tone of blithesome youth
Had power, by memory’s dear delusion,
To cheat me with the guise of truth;
Then curse I all whate’er the soul
With luring juggleries entwines,
And in this gloomy dungeon-hole
With dazzling flatteries confines!
Curst be ’fore all the high opinion
The soul has of its own dominion!
Curst all the show of shallow seeming,
Through gates of sense fallacious streaming!
Curst be the hollow dreams of fame,
Of honor, glory, and a name!
Curst be the flattering goods of earth,
Wife, child, and servant, house and hearth!
Accursed be Mammon, when with treasures
To riskful venture he invites us,
Curst when, the slaves of passive pleasures,
On soft-spread cushions he delights us!
Curst be the balsam juice o’ the grape!
Accursed be love’s deceitful thrall!
Accursed be Hope! accursed be Faith!
Accursed be Patience above all!
Chorus of Spirits. [invisible]
Thou hast destroyed it!
The beautiful world,
With mightiest hand,
In ruin has hurled!
And bear its wrecked beauty away,
Whence it may never
Return to the day.
Of the sons of earth,
Build it again!
Proudly resurgent with lovelier birth
In thine own bosom build it again!
Life’s glad career
With insight clear,
And purgèd sense,
The while new songs around thee play,
To launch thee on more hopeful way!
These are the tiny
Spirits that wait on me;
Hark how to pleasure
And action they counsel thee!
Into the world wide
Would they allure thee,
In solitude dull
No more to immure thee,
No more to sit moping
In mouldy mood,
With a film on thy sense,
And a frost in thy blood!
Cease then with thine own peevish whim to play,
That like a vulture makes thy life its prey.
Society, however low,
Still gives thee cause to feel and know
Thyself a man, amid thy fellow-men.
Yet my intent is not to pen
Thee up with the common herd! and though
I cannot boast, or rank, or birth
Of mighty men, the lords of earth,
Yet do I offer, at thy side,
Thy steps through mazy life to guide;
And, wilt thou join in this adventure,
I bind myself by strong indenture,
Here, on the spot, with thee to go.
Call me companion, comrade brave,
Or, if it better please thee so,
I am thy servant, am thy slave!
And in return, say, what the fee
Thy faithful service claims from me?
Of that you may consider when you list.
No, no! the devil is an Egotist,
And seldom gratis sells his labor,
For love of God, to serve his neighbor.
Speak boldly out, no private clause conceal;
With such as you ’tis dangerous to deal.
I bind myself to be thy servant here,
And wait with sleepless eyes upon thy pleasure,
If, when we meet again in yonder sphere,
Thou wilt repay my service in like measure.
What yonder is I little reck to know,
Provided I be happy here below;
The future world will soon enough arise,
When the present in ruin lies.
’Tis from this earth my stream of pleasure flows,
This sun it is that shines upon my woes;
And, were I once from this my home away,
Then happen freely what happen may.
Nor hope in me it moves, nor fear,
If then, as now, we hate and love;
Or if in yonder world, as here,
An under be, and an above.
Well, in this humor, you bid fair
With hope of good result to dare.
Close with my plan, and you will see
Anon such pleasant tricks from me,
As never eyes of man did bliss
From father Adam’s time to this.
Poor devil, what hast thou to give,
By which a human soul may live?
By thee or thine was never yet divined
The thought that stirs the deep heart of mankind!
True, thou hast food that sateth never,
And yellow gold that, restless ever,
Like quicksilver between the fingers,
Only to escape us, lingers;
A game where we are sure to lose our labor,
A maiden that, while hanging on my breast,
Flings looks of stolen dalliance on my neighbor;
And honor by which gods are blest,
That, like a meteor, vanishes in air.
Show me the fruit that rots before ’tis broken,
And trees that day by day their green repair!
A word of mighty meaning thou hast spoken,
Yet such commission makes not me despair.
Believe me, friend, we only need to try it,
And we too may enjoy our morsel sweet in quiet.
If ever on a couch of soft repose
My soul shall rock at ease,
If thou canst teach with sweet delusive shows
Myself myself to please,
If thou canst trick me with a toy
To say sincerely I enjoy,
Then may my latest sand be run!
A wager on it!
And done, and done!
When to the moment I shall say,
Stay, thou art so lovely, stay!
Then with thy fetters bind me round,
Then perish I with cheerful glee!
Then may the knell of death resound,
Then from thy service art thou free!
The clock may stand,
And the falling hand
Mark the time no more for me!
Consider well: in things like these
The devil’s memory is not apt to slip.
That I know well; may’st keep thy heart at ease,
No random word hath wandered o’er my lip.
Slave I remain, or here, or there,
Thine, or another’s, I little care.
My duty I’ll commence without delay,
When with the graduates you dine to-day.
One thing remains!—black upon white
A line or two, to make the bargain tight.
A writing, pedant!—hast thou never found
A man whose word was better than his bond?
Is’t not enough that by my spoken word,
Of all I am and shall be thou art lord?
The world drives on, wild wave engulfing wave,
And shall a line bind me, if I would be a knave?
Yet ’tis a whim deep-graven in the heart,
And from such fancies who would gladly part?
Happy within whose honest breast concealed
There lives a faith, nor time nor chance can shake;
Yet still a parchment, written, stamped, and sealed,
A spectre is before which all must quake.
Commit but once thy word to the goose-feather,
Then must thou yield the sway to wax and leather.
Say, devil—paper, parchment, stone, or brass?
With me this coin or that will pass;
Style, or chisel, or pen shall it be?
Thou hast thy choice of all the three.
What need of such a hasty flare
Of words about so paltry an affair?
Paper or parchment, any scrap will do,
Then write in blood your signature thereto.
If this be all, there needs but small delay,
Such trifles shall not stand long in my way.
Mephistopheles. [while Faust is signing the paper]
Blood is a juice of most peculiar virtue.
Only no fear that I shall e’er demur to
The bond as signed; my whole heart swears
Even to the letter that the parchment bears.
Too high hath soared my blown ambition;
I now take rank with thy condition;
The Mighty Spirit of All hath scorned me,
And Nature from her secrets spurned me:
My thread of thought is rent in twain,
All science I loathe with its wranglings vain.
In the depths of sensual joy, let us tame
Our glowing passion’s restless flame!
In magic veil, from unseen hand,
Be wonders ever at our command!
Plunge we into the rush of Time!
Into Action’s rolling main!
Then let pleasure and pain,
Loss and gain,
Joy and sorrow, alternate chime!
Let bright suns shine, or dark clouds lower,
The man that works is master of the hour.
To thee I set nor bound nor measure,
Every dainty thou may’st snatch,
Every flying joy may’st catch,
Drink deep, and drain each cup of pleasure;
Only have courage, friend, and be not shy!
Content from thee thy proper wares to buy,
Thou markest well, I do not speak of joy,
Pleasure that smarts, giddy intoxication,
Enamoured hate, and stimulant vexation.
My bosom healed from hungry greed of science
With every human pang shall court alliance;
What all mankind of pain and of enjoyment
May taste, with them to taste be my employment;
Their deepest and their highest I will sound,
Want when they want, be filled when they abound,
My proper self unto their self extend,
And with them too be wrecked, and ruined in the end.
Believe thou me, who speak from test severe,
Chewing the same hard food from year to year,
There lives (were but the naked truth confessed)
No man who, from his cradle to his bier,
The same sour leaven can digest!
Trust one of us—this universe so bright,
He made it only for his own delight;
Supreme He reigns, in endless glory shining,
To utter darkness me and mine consigning,
And grudges ev’n to you the day without the night.
But I will!
There you are right!
One thing alone gives me concern,
The time is short, and we have much to learn.
There is a way, if you would know it,
Just take into your pay a poet;
Then let the learned gentleman sweep
Through the wide realms of imagination
And every noble qualification,
Upon your honored crown upheap,
The strength of the lion,
The wild deer’s agility,
The fire of the south,
With the north’s durability.
Then let his invention the secret unfold,
To be crafty and cunning, yet generous and bold;
And teach your youthful blood, as poets can,
To fall in love according to a plan.
Myself have a shrewd notion where we might
Enlist a cunning craftsman of this nature,
And Mr. Microcosmus he is hight.
What am I then, if still I strive in vain
To reach the crown of manhood’s perfect stature,
The goal for which with all my life of life I strain?
Thou art, do what thou wilt, just what thou art.
Heap wigs on wigs by millions on thy head,
And upon yard-high buskins tread,
Still thou remainest simply what thou art.
I feel it well, in vain have I uphoarded
All treasures that the mind of man afforded,
And when I sit me down, I feel no more
A well of life within me than before;
Not ev’n one hairbreadth greater is my height,
Not one inch nearer to the infinite.
My worthy friend, these things you view,
Just as they appear to you;
Some wiser method we must shape us,
Ere the joys of life escape us.
Why, what the devil! hands and feet,
Brain and brawn and blood are thine;
And what I drink, and what I eat,
Whose can it be, if ’tis not mine?
If I can number twice three horses,
Are not their muscles mine? and when I’m mounted,
I feel myself a man, and wheel my courses,
Just as if four-and-twenty legs I counted.
Quick then! have done with reverie,
And dash into the world with me!
I tell thee plain, a speculating fellow
Is like an ox on heath all brown and yellow,
Led in a circle by an evil spirit,
With roods of lush green pasture smiling near it.
But how shall we commence?
We start this minute:
Why, what a place of torture is here,
And what a life you live within it!
Yourself and your pack of younkers dear,
Killing outright with ennui!
Leave that to honest neighbor Paunch!
Thrashing of straw is not for thee:
Besides, into the best of all your knowledge,
You know ’tis not permitted you to launch
With chicken-hearted boys at College.
Ev’n now, methinks, I hear one on the stair.
Send him away: I cannot bear—
Poor boy! he’s waited long, nor must depart
Without some friendly word for head and heart;
Come, let me slip into your gown; the mask
Will suit me well; as for the teaching task,
[He puts on Faust’s scholastic robes.]
Leave that to me! I only ask
A quarter of an hour; and you make speed
And have all ready for our journey’s need. [Exit.
Continue thus to hold at nought
Man’s highest power, his power of thought;
Thus let the Father of all lies
With shows of magic blind thine eyes,
And thou art mine, a certain prize.
To him hath Fate a spirit given,
With reinless impulse ever forwards driven,
Whose hasty striving overskips
The joys that flow for mortal lips;
Him drag I on through life’s wild chase,
Through flat unmeaning emptiness;
He shall cling and cleave to me,
Like a sprawling child in agony,
And food and drink, illusive hovering nigh,
Shall shun his parchèd lips, and cheat his longing eye;
He shall pine and pant and strain
For the thing he may not gain,
And, though he ne’er had sold him to do evil,
He would have damned himself without help from the devil.
Enter a Student.
I am but fresh arrived to-day,
And come my best respects to pay,
To one whose name, from boor to Kaiser,
None, without veneration, mention.
I feel obliged by your attention!
You see a man than other men no wiser:
Have you made inquiry elsewhere?
Beseech you, sir, be my adviser!
I come with money to spend and spare,
With fresh young blood, and a merry heart,
On my college career to start:
My mother sent me, not without a tear,
To get some needful schooling here.
A better place you could not find.
To speak the truth, ’tis not much to my mind.
Within these narrow cloister walls,
These antiquated Gothic halls,
I feel myself but ill at ease;
No spot of green I see, no trees,
And ’mid your formal rows of benches,
I almost seem to lose my senses.
That all depends on custom. Don’t you see
How a young babe at first is slow
To know its mother’s breast; but soon
With joy it strains the milky boon;
So you anon will suck nutrition
From Wisdom’s breasts with blest fruition.
I yearn to do so even now;
But, in the first place, tell me how?
My help is yours, or great or small;
But choose your Faculty, first of all.
I aim at culture, learning, all
That men call science on the ball
Of earth, or in the starry tent
Of heaven; all Nature high and low,
Broad and deep, I seek to know.
There you are on the proper scent;
Only beware of too much distraction.
With soul and body I’m girt for action,
And yet I cannot choose but praise
A little freedom and merriment,
On pleasant summer holidays.
Redeem the time, for fast it fleets away,
But order rules the hour it cannot stay.
Therefore ’tis plain that you must pass
First of all through the logic class.
There will your mind be postured rightly,
Laced up in Spanish buskins tightly,
That with caution and care, as wisdom ought,
It may creep along the path of thought,
And not with fitful flickering glow
Will o’ the wisp it to and fro.
There, too, if you hear the gentleman through
The term, to every lecture true,
You’ll learn that a stroke of human thinking,
Which you had practised once as free
And natural as eating and drinking,
Cannot be made without one! two! three!
True, it should seem that the tissue of thought
Is like a web by cunning master wrought,
Where one stroke moves a thousand threads,
The shuttle shoots backwards and forwards between,
The slender threads flow together unseen,
And one with the others thousand-fold weds:
Then steps the philosopher forth to show
How of necessity it must be so:
If the first be so, the second is so,
And therefore the third and the fourth is so;
And unless the first and the second before be,
The third and the fourth can never more be.
So schoolmen teach and scholars believe,
But none of them yet ever learned to weave.
He who strives to know a thing well
Must first the spirit within expel,
Then can he count the parts in his hand,
Only without the spiritual band.
Encheiresis naturæ, ’tis clept in Chemistry,
Thus laughing at herself, albeit she knows not why.
I must confess I can’t quite comprehend you.
In this respect time by and by will mend you,
When you have learned the crude mixed masses
To decompose, and rank them in their classes.
I feel as stupid to all he has said,
As a mill-wheel were whirling round in my head.
After logic, first of all,
To the study of metaphysics fall!
There strive to know what ne’er was made
To go into a human head;
For what is within and without its command
A high-sounding word is always at hand.
But chiefly, for the first half year,
Let order in all your studies appear;
Five lectures a-day, that no time be lost,
And with the clock be at your post!
Come not, as some, without preparation,
But con his paragraphs o’er and o’er,
To be able to say, when you hear his oration,
That he gives you his book, and nothing more;
Yet not the less take down his words in writing,
As if the Holy Spirit were inditing!
I shall not quickly give you cause
To repeat so weighty a clause;
For what with black on white is written,
We carry it home, a sure possession.
But, as I said, you must choose a profession.
With Law, I must confess, I never was much smitten.
I should be loath to force your inclination,
Myself have some small skill in legislation;
For human laws and rights from sire to son,
Like an hereditary ill, flow on;
From generation dragged to generation,
And creeping slow from place to place.
Reason is changed to nonsense, good to evil,
Art thou a grandson, woe betide thy case!
Of Law they prate, most falsely clept the Civil,
But for that right, which from our birth we carry,
’Tis not a word found in their Dictionary.
Your words have much increased my detestation.
O happy he, to whom such guide points out the way!
And now, I almost feel an inclination
To give Theology the sway.
I have no wish to lead you astray.
As to this science, ’tis so hard to eschew
The false way, and to hit upon the true,
And so much hidden poison lurks within,
That’s scarce distinguished from the medicine.
Methinks that here ’twere safest done
That you should listen but to one,
And jurare in verba magistri
Is the best maxim to assist thee.
Upon the whole, I counsel thee
To stick to words as much as may be,
For such will still the surest way be
Into the temple of certainty.
Yet in a word some sense must surely lurk.
Yes, but one must not go too curiously to work;
For, just when our ideas fail us,
A well-coined word may best avail us.
Words are best weapons in disputing,
In system-building and uprooting,
To words most men will swear, though mean they ne’er so little,
From words one cannot filch a single tittle.
Pardon me, if I trespass on your time,
Though to make wisdom speak seems scarce a crime;
On medicine, too, I am concerned
To hear some pregnant word from one so learned.
Three years, God knows, is a short time,
And we have far to go, and high to climb;
A wise man’s fingers pointing to the goal
Will save full many a groan to many a laboring soul.
I’m weary of this dry pedantic strain,
’Tis time to play the genuine devil again.
[Aloud.] The spirit of Medicine ’tis not hard to seize:
The world, both great and small, you seek to know,
That in the end you may let all things go
As God shall please.
In vain you range around with scientific eyes,
Each one at length learns only what he can;
But he who knows the passing hour to prize,
That is the proper man.
A goodly shape and mien you vaunt,
And confidence, I guess, is not your want,
Trust but yourself, and, without more ado,
All other men will straightway trust you too.
But chiefly be intent to get a hold
O’ the women’s minds: their endless Oh! and Ah!
In all its change, obeys a single law,
And, if with half a modest air you come,
You have them all beneath your thumb.
A title first must purchase their reliance,
That you have skill surpassing vulgar science;
Thus have you hold at once of all the seven ends,
Round which another year of labor spends.
Study to press the pulse right tenderly,
And, with a sly and fiery eye,
To hold her freely round the slender waist,
That you may see how tightly she is laced.
This seems to promise better; here we see
Where to apply and how to use the knife.
Gray, my good friend, is every theory,
But green the golden tree of life.
I vow I feel as in a dream; my brain
Contains much more than it can comprehend;
Some other day may I come back again,
To hear your wisdom to the end?
What I can teach all men are free to know.
One little favor grant me ere I go;
It were my boast to take home on this page
[Presenting a leaf from his album.]
Some sapient maxim from a man so sage.
[He writes, and gives back the book.
Eritis sicut Deus scientes bonum et malum.
[He closes the book reverently, and takes his leave.
Follow the ancient saw, and my cousin, the famous old Serpent,
Right soon shalt thou have cause, at thy godlike knowledge to tremble!
Now, whither bound?
Where’er it pleases you;
The world, both great and small, we view.
O! how it will delight, entrance you,
The merry reel of life to dance through!
My beard, I am afraid, is rather long;
And without easy manners, gentle breeding,
I fear there is small chance of my succeeding;
I feel so awkward ’mid the busy throng,
So powerless and so insignificant,
And what all others have I seem to want.
Bah! never fear; the simple art of living
Is just to live right on without misgiving!
But how shall we commence our course?
I see nor coach, nor groom, nor horse.
We only need your mantle to unfold,
And it shall waft us on the wind.
Who makes with me this journey bold
No bulky bundle busks behind;
A single puff of inflammable air,
And from the ground we nimbly fare.
Lightly we float. I wish the best of cheer
To Doctor Faustus on his new career.
end of act second.
Auerbach’s Wine-cellar, Leipzig.
A Bout of Merry Fellows.
Will no one sing? none crack a joke?
I’ll teach you to make saucy faces!
Like old wet straw to-day you smoke,
While bright as flame your wonted blaze is.
The blame lies with yourself, for you have given us
To-day no fun nor frolic to enliven us.
Frosch. [throwing a glass of wine over his head]
There hast thou both!
You asked a joke—I gave it you in wine!
Out at the door with all who dare to quarrel!
Give all your pipes full play! this is no place to snarl.
Up! hollo! ho!
Woe’s me! the devil and his crew are here!
Some cotton, ho! he makes my ear-drum crack.
Roar on! for, when the vault loud echoes back,
The deep bass notes come thundering on the ear.
Right, right! out with each saucy fellow!
A! tara lara da!
A tara lara da!
Our throats are now quite mellow.
[Sings.] The holy Roman empire now,
How does it hold together?
A clumsy song!—fie! a political song!
A scurvy song! thank God, with each to-morrow,
The Roman empire can give you small sorrow;
For me, I deem I’m wealthier and wiser
For being neither Chancellor nor Kaiser.
Yet even we must have a head to rule us;
Let’s choose a pope in drinking well to school us,
Come, well you know the qualification
That lifts a man to consideration.
Mount up, lady nightingale,
Greet my love ten thousand times!
No, sir, not once,—I’ll hear no more of this.
But you shall hear!—A greeting and a kiss!
[He sings.] Ope the door in silent night.
Ope and let me in, I pray;
Shut the door, the morn is bright,
Shut it, love, I must away!
Yes! sing and sing! belaud her, and berhyme!
I’ll have my laugh at that—all in good time!
She jilted me right rarely; soon
She’ll make thee sing to the same tune;
’Twere fit a Kobold with his love should bless her,
On some cross-road to cocker and caress her;
Or that some old he-goat, that tramps away
From merry Blocksberg on the first of May,
Should greet her passing with a lusty baa!
An honest man of genuine flesh and blood
Is for the wench by far too good.
Batter her doors, her windows shiver,
That’s all the serenade I’d give her!
Brander. [striking the table]
Gentlemen, hear! only attend to me,
You’ll see that I know how to live.
If love-sick people here there be,
To honor them, I’m bound to give
A song brimful of the most melting passion.
I’ll sing a ditty of the newest fashion!
Give ear! and with full swell sonorous,
Let each and all ring forth the chorus!
[He sings.] In a pantry-hole there lived a rat,
On bacon and on butter,
It had a paunch as round and fat
As Doctor Martin Luther.
The cook placed poison in its way,
It felt as straitened all the day,
As if it had love in its body.
As if it had love in its body.
It ran within, it ran without,
And sipped in every puddle;
And scratched and gnawed, but bettered not
The fever of its noddle.
With many a twinge it tossed and tossed,
Seemed ready to give up the ghost,
As if it had love in its body.
As if it had love in its body.
It left its hole for very pain,
Into the kitchen crawling,
And snuffling there with might and main,
Upon the earth lay sprawling.
The cook she laughed when she saw it die;
“It squeaks,” quoth she, “with its latest sigh,
As if it had love in its body.”
As if it had love in its body.
How the hard-hearted boys rejoice!
As if it were a trade so choice
To teach the rats and mice to die!
Rats find great favor in your eyes.
The oily paunch! the bald pate! he
Has eyes of sorrow for the creature:
For why? he could not fail to see
In the swoll’n rat his own best feature!
Enter Faust and Mephistopheles.
First thing of all I bring you here,
Into a company of jolly cheer,
That you may learn how men contrive
Without much thought or care to live.
These fellows feast their lives away
In a continual holiday;
With little wit and much content
Their narrow round of life is spent,
As playful kittens oft are found
To chase their own tails round and round.
So live they on from day to day,
As long as headache keeps away,
And by no anxious thought are crossed,
While they get credit from the host.
These gentlemen are strangers; in their face
One reads they lack the breeding of the place;
They’re not an hour arrived, I warrant thee.
There you are right!—Leipzig’s the place, I say!
It is a little Paris in its way.
What, think you, may the strangers be?
Leave that to me!—I’ll soon fish out the truth.
Fill me a bumper till it overflows,
And then I’ll draw the worms out of their nose,
As easily as ’twere an infant’s tooth.
To me they seem to be of noble blood,
They look so discontented and so proud.
Quack doctors both!—Altmayer, what think you?
Mark me! I’ll make them feel the screw.
Mephistopheles. [to Faust]
They have no nose to smell the devil out,
Even when he has them by the snout.
Be greeted, gentlemen!
With much respect return we the salute.
[Softly, eyeing Mephistopheles from the one side.]
What! does the fellow limp upon one foot?
With your permission, we will make so free,
As to intrude upon your company.
The host’s poor wines may keep us in sobriety,
But we at least enjoy your good society.
Our wine is good; and, for to speak the truth,
Your mother fed you with too nice a tooth.
When left you Rippach? you must have been pressed
For time. Supped you with Squire Hans by the way?[n7]
We had no time to stay!
But when I last came by, I was his guest.
He spoke much of his cousins, and he sent
To you and all full many a compliment.
[He makes a bow to Frosch.
You have him there!—he understands the jest!
He is a knowing one!
I’ll sift him through anon!
As we came in, a concert struck my ear
Of skilful voices in a chorus pealing!
A gleesome song must sound most nobly here,
Re-echoed freely from the vaulted ceiling.
Perhaps you have yourself some skill?
O no! had I the power, I should not want the will.
Give us a song!
A thousand, willingly!
Only brand-new, I say!—no thread-bare strain!
We are but just come from a tour in Spain,
The lovely land of wine and melody.
[He sings.] There was a king in old times
That had a huge big flea—
Ha, ha! a flea!—he seems a man of taste!
A flea, I wis, is a most dainty guest?
Mephistopheles. [sings again]
There was a king in old times
That had a huge big flea,
As if it were his own son,
He loved it mightily.
He sent out for the tailor,
To get it a suit of clothes;
He made my lord a dress-coat,
He made him a pair of hose.
Be sure that Monsieur le Tailleur be told
To take his measure most exact and nice,
And as upon his head he puts a price,
To make the hose without or crease or fold!
In velvet and in silk clad
He strutted proudly then,
And showed his star and garter
With titled gentlemen.
Prime minister they made him,
With cross and ribbon gay,
And then all his relations
At court had much to say.
This caused no small vexation
At court; I tell you true—
The queen and all her ladies
Were bitten black and blue.
And yet they durst not catch them,
Nor crack them, when they might,
But we are free to catch them,
And crack them when they bite.
But we are free to catch them
And crack them when they bite!
Bravo, bravo!—his voice is quite divine.
Such fate may every flea befall!
Point your nails and crack ’em all!
A glass to liberty!—long live the vine!
I’d drink to liberty with right good will,
If we had only better wine to drink.
You might have kept that to yourself, I think!
I only fear our host might take it ill,
Else should I give to every honored guest
From our own cellar of the very best.
O never fear!—If you but find the wine,
Our host shall be content—the risk be mine!
Give me a flowing glass, and praise you shall not want,
So that your sample, mark me! be not scant;
I cannot judge of wine, unless I fill
My mouth and throat too with a goodly swill.
I see the gentlemen are from the Rhine.
Give me a gimlet here!—I’ll show you wine.
What would the fellow bore?
Has he then wine-casks at the door?
There, in the basket, you will find a store
Of tools, which our good landlord sometimes uses.
Mephistopheles. [Taking the gimlet.]
[To Frosch.] Now every man may taste of what he chooses.
How mean you that? Can you afford?
No fear of that; my cellar is well stored.
Altmayer. [to Frosch]
Aha! I see you smack your lips already.
I’ll have Rhine wine; what fatherland produces
Is better far than French or Spanish juices.
Mephistopheles. [boring a hole in the edge of the table where Frosch is sitting]
Fetch me some wax, to make the stoppers ready.
He means to put us off with jugglery.
Mephistopheles. [to Brander]
And you, sir, what?
Champagne for me!
And brisk and foaming let it be!
[Mephistopheles bores; meanwhile one of the party has got the stoppers ready, and closes the holes.
To foreign climes a man must sometimes roam,
In quest of things he cannot find at home;
For Frenchmen Germans have no strong affection,
But to their wines we seldom make objection.
Siebel. [while Mephistopheles is coming round to him]
I have no taste for your sour wines to-day,
I wish to have a swig of good Tokay.
That you shall have, and of the very best.
No, gentlemen!—’tis plain you mean to jest;
If so, in me you much mistake your man.
Ha! ha!—no little risk, methinks, I ran,
To venture tricks with noble guests like you.
Come! make your choice, speak boldly out, and I
Will do my best your wish to gratify.
Give me what wine you please!—only not much ado.
[After having bored and stopped up all the holes.
Mephistopheles. [with strange gestures]
Grapes on the vine grow!
Horns on the goat!
The wine is juicy, the vine is of wood,
The wooden table can give it as good.
Look into Nature’s depths with me!
Whoso hath faith shall wonders see!
Now draw the corks, and quaff the wine!
All. [drawing the corks, and quaffing the out-streaming liquor each as he had desired]
O blessed stream!—O fount divine!
Drink on! only be cautious in your hurry.
[They drink freely.
No king of cannibals to day
More bravely rules the drinking bout,
Than we, when, like five hundred swine,
We drain the brimming bumpers out!
Mephistopheles. [to Faust]
Look at the fellows now!—are they not merry?
I feel inclined to go!—’tis getting late.
Soon shall we have a glorious revelation
Of the pure beast in man, if you but wait.
Siebel. [drinks carelessly; the wine falls to the ground and becomes flame]
Help! fire! the devil’s here! death and damnation!
Mephistopheles. [Addressing himself to the flames]
Peace, friendly element! be still!
[To the company.] This time ’twas but a spurt of purgatorial flame.
What’s that?—you little know your men; we’ll tame
Your impudence, you juggling knave, we will!
’Twere dangerous to repeat such gambols here!
Methinks ’twere best to whisper in his ear
That he had better leave the room.
What, sirrah? do you then presume
To play your hocus-pocus here?
Peace, old wine-cask!
You broomstick, you!
Must we then bear your insolence too?
Wait! wait! it shall rain blows anon!
Altmayer. [draws a stopper from the table, and fire rushes out on him]
I burn! I burn!
There’s witchcraft in his face!
The fellow’s an outlaw! strike him down!
[They draw their knives and attack Mephistopheles.
Mephistopheles. [with serious mien]
False be eye, and false be ear!
Change the sense, and change the place!
Now be there, and now be here!
[They look as thunderstruck, and stare at one another.
Where am I? in what lovely land?
Vineyards! can it be so?
And grapes too quite at hand!
And here beneath this shady tree,
This noble vine, these blushing clusters see!
[He seizes Siebel by the nose. The rest seize one another in the same manner, and lift up their knives.
Mephistopheles. [as above]
Let Error now their eyes unclose,
The devil’s joke to understand!
[He vanishes with Faust. The fellows start back from one another.
What’s the matter?
Was that your nose?
Brander. [to Siebel]
And yours is in my hand!
It was a stroke shot through my every limb!
Give me a chair!—I faint! My eyes grow dim!
Now tell me only what has been the matter?
Where is the fellow? Could I catch him here,
His life out of his body I should batter!
I saw him just this instant disappear,
Riding upon a wine-cask—I declare
I feel a weight like lead about my feet.
[Turning to the table.]
I wonder if his d——d wine still be there!
There’s not a single drop; ’twas all a cheat.
And yet methinks that I was drinking wine.
And I could swear I saw a clustered vine.
Let none now say the age of miracles is past!
A caldron is seen boiling on a low hearth. Numbers of strange fantastic figures tumbling up and down in the smoke. A Mother-Cat-Ape[n8] sits beside the caldron, taking off the scum, and keeping it from boiling over. An Old Cat-Ape beside her warming himself with his young ones. Roof and walls are covered over with a strange assortment of furniture, and implements used by witches.
Enter Faust and Mephistopheles.
I cannot brook this brainless bedlam stuff!
And must it be that I shall cast my slough
In this hotbed of all unreasoned doing?
Shall an old beldam give me what I lack?
And can her pots and pans, with all their brewing,
Shake off full thirty summers from my back?
Woe’s me, if thou canst boast no better scheme!
My brightest hopes are vanished as a dream.
Has Nature then, and has some noble Spirit,
No balsam for the body to repair it?
My friend, with your great sense I cannot but be smitten!
Nature, too, boasts a plan to renovate your age;
But in a wondrous volume it is written,
And wondrous is the chapter and the page.
But I must know it.
Good! the poorest man may try it,
Without or witch, or quack, or gold to buy it;
And yet it works a certain cure.
Go take thee with the peasant to the moor,
And straight begin to hew and hack;
Confine thee there, with patient mood,
Within the narrow beaten track,
And nourish thee with simplest food;
Live with the brute a brute, and count it not too low
To dung the corn-fields thine own hands shall mow;
Than this I know on earth no med’cine stronger,
To make, by fourscore years, both soul and body younger!
I was not trained to this—was never made
To labor with the pick-axe and the spade;
Such narrow round of life I may not brook.
Then you must look into another book,
And be content to take the witch for cook.
But why this self-same ugly Jezebel?
Could you not brew the drink yourself as well?
A precious pastime that indeed! meanwhile
I had built bridges many a German mile.
Not art, and science strict, are here enough,
But patience too, and perseverance tough.
A thoughtful soul toils on through many a silent year.
Time only makes the busy ferment clear,
Besides that the ingredients all
Are passing strange and mystical!
’Tis true the devil taught them how to do it,
But not the devil with his own hands can brew it.
[Looking at the Cat-Apes.] Lo! what a tiny gay parade!
Here’s the man, and there’s the maid!
[Addressing them.] It seems that your good mother has gone out?
Up the chimney,
Went she out,
To a drinking bout!
Is it her wont to gossip long without?
As long as we sit here and warm our feet.
Mephistopheles. [to Faust]
What think you of the brutes? are they not neat?
I never saw such tasteless would-be-drolls!
Pooh! pooh!—I know no greater delectation
On earth, than such a merry conversation.
[To the brutes.] Now let us hear, you pretty dolls,
What are you stirring there in the pot?
Soup for beggars, hissing and hot,
Thin and watery, that’s the stew.
Your customers will not be few.
The Father Cat-Ape. [comes up and fawns upon Mephistopheles]
Come rattle the dice,
Make me rich in a trice,
Come, come, let me gain!
My case is so bad,
It scarce could be worse:
Were I right in my purse,
I’d be right in my brain!
How happy would the apish creature be,
To buy a ticket in the lottery!
[Meanwhile the young Cat-Apes have been playing with a large globe, and roll it forwards.
The Father Cat-Ape.
Such is the world,
So doth it go,
Up and down,
To and fro!
Like glass it tinkles,
Like glass it twinkles,
Breaks in a minute,
Has nothing within it;
Here it sparkles,
There it darkles,
I am alive!
My dear son, I say,
Keep out of the way!
If you don’t strive,
You will die, you will die!
It is but of clay,
And in pieces will fly!
What make you with the sieve?
The Father Cat-Ape. [bringing down the sieve]
When comes a thief,
On the instant we know him.
[He runs off to the Mother Cat-Ape, and lets her look through the sieve.]
Look through the sieve!
See’st thou the thief,
And fearest to show him?
Mephistopheles. [coming near the fire]
And this pot?
Father Cat-Ape and his Wife.
The silly sot!
He knows not the pot!
And he knows not
The kettle, the sot!
You ill-bred urchin, you!
The Father Cat-Ape.
Come, sit thee down,
We’ll give thee a crown,
And a sceptre too!
[He obliges Mephistopheles to sit down, and gives him a long brush for a sceptre.
Faust. [Who, while Mephistopheles was engaged with the animals, Faust had been standing before a mirror, alternately approaching it and retiring from it.]
What see I here? what heavenly image bright,
Within this magic mirror, chains my sight?
O Love, the swiftest of thy pinions lend me,
That where she is in rapture I may bend me!
Alas! when I would move one step more near,
To breathe her balmy atmosphere,
She seems to melt and disappear,
And cheats my longing eye.
Oh she is fair beyond all type of human!
Is’t possible; can this be simple woman?
There lies she, on that downy couch reposing,
Within herself the heaven of heavens enclosing!
Can it then be that earth a thing so fair contains?
Of course: for when a god has vexed his brains
For six long days, and, when his work is done,
Says bravo to himself, is it a wonder
He should make one fair thing without a blunder?
For this time give thine eyes their pleasure;
I know how to procure you such an one,
Whence thou mayst drink delight in brimming measure,
And blest the man, for whom Fate shall decide,
To lead home such a treasure as his bride!
[Faust continues gazing on the mirror. Mephistopheles stretches himself on the arm-chair, and, playing with the brush, goes on as follows:]
Here, from my throne, a monarch, I look down:
My sceptre this: I wait to get my crown.
The Animals. [Who had in the interval been wheeling about with strange antic gestures, bring a crown to Mephistopheles, with loud shouts.]
O be but so good,
With sweat and with blood,
Your crown to glue,
As monarchs do!
[They use the crown rather roughly, in consequence of which it falls into two pieces, with which they jump about.]
O sorrow and shame!
’Tis broken, no doubt:
But we’ll make a name,
When our poem comes out!
Faust. [gazing on the mirror]
Woe’s me! her beauty doth my wits confound.
Mephistopheles. [pointing to the Brutes]
And even my good brain is whirling round and round.
And if we well speed,
As speed well we ought,
We are makers indeed,
We are moulders of thought.
Faust. [as above]
I burn, I burn! this rapturous glow
Consumes me sheer!—come, let us go!
Mephistopheles. [as above]
One must, at least, confess that they
Are honest poets in their way.
[The kettle, which had been neglected by the Mother Cat-Ape begins to boil over: A great flame arises, and runs up the chimney. The Witch comes through the flame, down the chimney, with a terrible noise.
Ow! ow! ow! ow!
Thou damnèd brute! thou cursèd sow!
To leave the kettle and singe the frow!
Thou cursed imp, thou!
[Turning to Faust and Mephistopheles.]
What’s this here now?
Who are you? who are you?
What’s here ado?
Ye are scouts! ye are scouts!
Out with the louts!
A fiery arrow
Consume your marrow!
[She plunges the ladle into the kettle, and spurts out flame on Faust, Mephistopheles, and the Brutes. These last whine.
Mephistopheles. [Who, in the meantime, had turned round the butt-end of the brush, now dashes in amongst the pots and glasses.]
In two! in two!
There lies the broth!
The glass and the kettle,
Shiver them both!
’Tis a jest, thou must know,
Thou carrion crow!
’Tis a tune to keep time,
To thy senseless rhyme.
[While the Witch, foaming with rage and fury, draws back.]
What! know’st me not? thou scrag! thou Jezebel!
Thy lord and master? thou should’st know me well.
What hinders me, in all my strength to come
And crush you and your cat-imps ’neath my thumb?
Know’st not the scarlet-doublet, mole-eyed mother?
Bow’st not the knee before the famed cock’s feather?
Use your old eyes; behind a mask
Did I conceal my honest face?
And when I come here must I ask
A special introduction to your Grace?
O my liege lord! forgive the rough salute!
I did not see the horse’s foot:
And where too have you left your pair of ravens?
For this time you may thank the heavens
That you have made so cheap an escape;
’Tis some time since I saw your face,
And things since then have moved apace.
The march of modern cultivation,
That licks the whole world into shape,
Has reached the Devil. In this wise generation
The Northern phantom is no longer seen,
And horns and tail and claws have been.
And for my hoof, with which I can’t dispense,
In good society ’twould give great offence;
Therefore, like many a smart sprig of nobility,
I use false calves to trick out my gentility.
The Witch. [dancing]
Heyday! it almost turns my brain
To see Squire Satan here again!
Woman, you must not call me by that name!
And wherefore not? I see no cause for shame.
That name has had its station long assigned
With Mother Bunch; and yet I cannot see
Men are much better for the want of me.
The wicked one is gone, the wicked stay behind.
Call me now Baron, less than that were rude—
I am a cavalier like other cavaliers;
My line is noble, and my blood is good;
Here is a coat of arms that all the world reveres.
[He makes an indecent gesture.
The Witch. [laughing immoderately]
Ha! ha! now I perceive Old Nick is here!
You are a rogue still, as you always were.
Mephistopheles. [aside to Faust]
My friend, I give you here, your wit to whet,
A little lesson in witch-etiquette.
Now say, good sirs, what would you have with me?
A glass of your restoring liquor,
That makes an old man’s blood run quicker:
And bring the best out from your bins;
With years the juice in virtue wins.
Most willingly. Here I have got a phial
Of which myself at times make trial:
’Tis now a pleasant mellow potion;
You shall not meet with a denial.
[Softly.] Yet if this worthy man drinks it without precaution,
His life can’t stand an hour against its strong infection.
Leave that to me; he’s under my protection,
Ripe for the draught; no harm will come to him.
[The Witch, with strange gestures, draws a circle and places many curious things within it; meanwhile the glasses begin to tinkle, and the kettle to sound and make music. She brings a large book, puts the Cat-Apes into the circle, and makes them serve as a desk to lay the book on, and hold the torches. She motions to Faust to come near.
Faust. [to Mephistopheles]
Now say, what would she with this flummery?
These antic gestures, this wild bedlam-stuff,
This most insipid of all mummery,
I know it well, I hate it well enough.
Pshaw, nonsense! come, give up your sermonizing,
And learn to understand what a good joke is!
Like other quacks, she plays her hocus-pocus;
It gives the juice a virtue most surprising!
[He obliges Faust to enter the circle.
The Witch. [declaiming from the book with great emphasis]
Now be exact!
Of one make ten,
Then two subtract,
And add three then,
This makes thee rich.
Four shalt thou bate,
Of five and six,
So says the Witch,
Make seven and eight,
And all is done.
And nine is one,
And ten is none;
Here take and spell, if you are able,
The Witches’ multiplication table.
This is a jargon worse than Babel;
Say, is she fevered? is she mad?
O never fear! the rest is quite as bad;
I know the book, and oft have vexed my brains
With bootless labor on its rhymes and rules;
A downright contradiction still remains,
Mysterious alike for wise men and for fools.
My friend, the art is old and new;
Ancient and modern schools agree
With three and one, and one and three
Plain to perplex, and false inweave with true.
So they expound, discourse, dispute, debate;
What man of sense would plague him with their prate?
Men pin their faith to words, in sounds high sapience weening,
Though words were surely made to have a meaning.
The Witch. [Goes on reading from the book]
The soul to know
Beneath the show,
And view it without blinking;
The simple mind
The craft will find,
Without the toil of thinking.
What flood of nonsense now she’s pouring o’er us?
She’ll split my skull with her insensate chatter.
I feel as if I heard the ceaseless clatter
Of thirty thousand idiots in a chorus.
Enough, kind Sibyl; thanks for thy good will!
Now bring your jug here, and the goblet fill
With this prime juice, till it be brimming o’er.
My friend here is a man of high degrees,
And will digest the draught with ease.
He has swilled many a goodly glass before.
[The Witch, with many ceremonies, pours the beverage into a cup. While Faust brings it to his mouth a light flame arises.
Come, quaff it boldly, without thinking!
The draught will make thy heart to burn with love.
Art with the Devil hand and glove,
And from a fire-spurt would’st be shrinking?
[The Witch looses the circle. Faust steps out.
Come quickly out; you must not rest.
I hope the swig will wonders work on thee!
And you, if you have aught to beg of me,
Upon Walpurgis’ night make your request.
Here is a song! at times sung, you will find
It hath a wondrous working on your mind.
Mephistopheles. [to Faust]
Come, yield thee now to my desire;
Be meek for once, and own the bridle.
You must keep quiet, and let yourself perspire,
That through your inmost frame the potent juice may pierce.
When we have time to spare, I will rehearse
Some lessons on the art of being nobly idle;
And soon thy heart with ecstasy shall know,
How Cupid ’gins to stir, and boundeth to and fro.
Faust. [Turning again towards the mirror]
Indulge me with one glance!—one moment spare!
It was a virgin-form surpassing fair!
No! No! with my good aid thou soon shalt see
The paragon of women bodily.
[Aside.] Anon, if this good potion does its duty,
He’ll see in every wench the Trojan beauty.
Faust. Margaret passes over.
My fair young lady, may I dare
To offer you my escort home?
Nor lady I, good sir, nor fair,
And need no guide to show me home. [Exit.
By heaven, this child is passing fair!
A fairer never crossed my view;
Of such a modest gentle air,
Yet with a dash of pertness too,
And girlish innocent conceit;
Her lips so red, her cheeks so bright,
Forget I could not, if I might.
How she casts down her lovely eyes
Deep graven in my heart it lies,
And how so smartly she replied,
And with a sharp turn stepped aside,
It was most ravishingly sweet!
Hark! you must get the girl for me!
She’s just gone by.
She’s only now come from confession,
Where she received a full remission.
I slinked close by the box, and heard
The simple damsel’s every word;
’Tis a most guileless thing, that goes
For very nothing to the priest.
My power does not extend to those.
Yet she is fourteen years of age at least.
You speak like Jack the debauchee,
Who thinks each sweet flow’r grows for me;
As if his wish sufficed alone
To make each priceless pearl his own:
But ’tis not so; and cannot be.
My good Sir Knight of pedantry,
Lay not thou down the law to me!
And this, for good and all, be told,
Unless, this very night, I hold
The sweet young maid in my embrace,
’Tis the last time that you shall see my face.
Bethink thee!—what with here, and what with there,
The thing requires no little care.
Full fourteen days must first be spent,
To come upon the proper scent.
Had I but seven good hours of rest,
The devil’s aid I’d ne’er request,
To mould this fair young creature to my bent.
You speak as if you were a Frenchman born;
But though the end be good, we must not scorn
The means; what boots the mere gratification?
It is the best half of the recreation,
When, up and down, and to and fro,
The pretty doll, through every kind
Of fiddle-faddle sweet flirtation,
You knead out first, and dress up to your mind—
As many an Italian tale can show.
I need no tricks to whet my zest.
I tell thee plainly without jest,
As things stand here, we cannot win
The fort by hotly rushing in;
To gain fair lady’s favor, you
Must boldly scheme, and gently do.
Fetch me something that breathed her air!
Her home, her chamber, plant me there!
A kerchief of her chaste attire!
A garter of my heart’s desire!
That you may see how I would fain
Do all I can to ease your pain,
We shall not lose a single minute;
I know her room—thou shalt enjoy thee in it.
And I shall see her?—have her?
She’ll be with a neighbor—better so.
Meanwhile, unhindered thou may’st go,
And on the hope of joys that wait thee,
Within her atmosphere may’st sate thee.
Can we go now?
No; we must wait till night.
Go fetch a present for my heart’s delight. [Exit.
Presents already! good!—a lover should not loiter!
I know some dainty spots of ground,
Where hidden treasures can be found;
I will go straight and reconnoitre. [Exit.
A small neat Chamber.
Margaret. [Plaiting and putting up her hair.]
I wonder who the gentleman could be,
That on the street accosted me to-day!
He looked a gallant cavalier and gay,
And must be of a noble family;
That I could read upon his brow—
Else had he never been so free. [Exit.
Enter Faust and Mephistopheles.
Come in—but softly—we are landed now!
Faust. [after a pause]
Leave me alone a minute, I entreat!
Mephistopheles. [looking round about]
Not every maiden keeps her room so neat. [Exit.
Faust. [looking round]
Be greeted, thou sweet twilight-shine!
Through this chaste sanctuary shed!
Oh seize my heart, sweet pains of love divine,
That on the languid dew of hope are fed!
What sacred stillness holds the air!
What order, what contentment rare!
[He throws himself on the old leathern arm-chair beside the bed.]
Receive thou me! thou, who, in ages gone,
In joy and grief hast welcomed sire and son.
How often round this old paternal throne,
A clambering host of playful children hung!
Belike that here my loved one too hath clung
To her hoar grandsire’s neck, with childish joy
Thankful received the yearly Christmas toy,
And with the full red cheeks of childhood pressed
Upon his withered hand a pious kiss.
I feel, sweet maid, mine inmost soul possessed
By thy calm spirit of order and of bliss,
That motherly doth teach thee day by day:
That bids thee deck the table clean and neat,
And crisps the very sand strewn at thy feet.
Sweet hand! sweet, lovely hand! where thou dost sway,
The meanest hut is decked in heaven’s array.
And here! [He lifts up the bed-curtain.]
O Heaven, what strange o’ermastering might
Thrills every sense with fine delight!
Here might I gaze unwearied day and night.
Nature! in airy dreams here didst thou build
The mortal hull of the angelic child;
Here she reposed! her tender bosom teeming
With warmest life, in buoyant fulness streaming,
And here, with pulse of gently gracious power,
The heaven-born bud was nursed into a flower!
And thou! what brought thee here? why now backshrinks
Thy courage from the prize it sought before?
What wouldst thou have? Thy heart within thee sinks;
Poor wretched Faust! thou know’st thyself no more.
Do I then breathe a magic atmosphere?
I sought immediate enjoyment here,
And into viewless dreams my passion flows!
Are we the sport of every breath that blows?
If now she came, and found me gazing here,
How for this boldfaced presence must I pay!
The mighty man, how small would he appear,
And at her feet, a suppliant, sink away!
Mephistopheles. [coming back]
Quick! quick! I see her—she’ll be here anon.
Yes, let’s be gone! for once and all be gone!
Here is a casket, of a goodly weight;
Its former lord, I ween, bewails its fate.
Come, put it in the press. I swear
She’ll lose her senses when she sees it there.
The trinkets that I stowed within it
Were bait meant for a nobler prey:
But child is child, and play is play!
I know not—shall I?
Can you doubt a minute?
Would you then keep the dainty pelf,
Like an old miser, to yourself?
If so, I would advise you, sir,
To spare your squire the bitter toil,
And with some choicer sport the hour beguile
Than looking lustfully at her.
I scratch my head and rub my hands that you—
[He puts the casket into the cupboard, and locks the door again.]
Come, let’s away!—
With this sweet piece of womanhood may do,
As will may sway;
And you stand there,
And gape and stare,
As if you looked into a lecture-room,
And there with awe
The twin grey spectres bodily saw,
Physics and Metaphysics! Come!
Enter Margaret, with a lamp.
It is so sultry here, so hot! [She opens the window.]
And yet so warm without ’tis not.
I feel—I know not how—oppressed;
Would to God that my mother came!
A shivering cold runs o’er my frame—
I’m but a silly timid girl at best!
[While taking off her clothes, she sings.]
There was a king in Thule,
True-hearted to his grave:
To him his dying lady
A golden goblet gave.
He prized it more than rubies;
At every drinking-bout
His eyes they swam in glory,
When he would drain it out.
On his death-bed he counted
His cities one by one;
Unto his heirs he left them;
The bowl he gave to none.
He sat amid his barons,
And feasted merrily,
Within his father’s castle,
That beetles o’er the sea.
There stood the old carouser,
And drank his life’s last glow;
Then flung the goblet over
Into the sea below.
He saw it fall, and gurgling
Sink deep into the sea;
His eyes they sank in darkness;
No bumper more drank he.
[She opens the cupboard to put in her clothes, and sees the casket.]
How came the pretty casket here? no doubt
I locked the press when I went out.
’Tis really strange!—Belike that it was sent
A pledge for money that my mother lent.
Here hangs the key; sure there can be no sin
In only looking what may be within.
What have we here? good heavens! see!
What a display of finery!
Here is a dress in which a queen
Might on a gala-day be seen.
I wonder how the necklace would suit me!
Who may the lord of all this splendor be?
[She puts on the necklace, and looks at herself in the glass.]
Were but the ear-rings mine to wear!
It gives one such a different air.
What boots the beauty of the poor?
’Tis very beautiful to be sure,
But without riches little weighs;
They praise you, but half pity while they praise.
Gold is the pole,
To which all point: the whole
Big world hangs on gold. Alas we poor!
Faust going up and down thoughtfully; then enter Mephistopheles.
By all the keen pangs of love! by all the hot blasts of hell!
By all the fellest of curses, if curse there be any more fell!
How now, Mephisto? what the devil’s wrong?
I ne’er beheld a face one half so long!
But that I am a devil myself, I’d sell
Both soul and body on the spot to hell!
I verily believe you’ve got a craze!
Beseems it you with such outrageous phrase,
To rage like any bedlamite?
Only conceive! the box of rare gewgaws
For Margaret got, is in a parson’s claws!
The thing came to the mother’s sight,
Who soon suspected all was not right:
The woman has got a most delicate nose,
That snuffling through the prayer-book goes,
And seldom scents a thing in vain,
If it be holy or profane.
Your jewels, she was not long in guessing,
Were not like to bring a blessing.
“My child,” quoth she, “ill-gotten gear
Ensnares the soul, consumes the blood;
We’ll give it to Mary-mother dear,
And she will feed us with heavenly food!”
Margaret looked blank—“’tis hard,” thought she,
“To put a gift-horse away from me;
And surely godless was he never
Who lodged it here, a gracious giver.”
The mother then brought in the priest;
He quickly understood the jest,
And his eyes watered at the sight.
“Good dame,” quoth he, “you have done right!
He conquers all the world who wins
A victory o’er his darling sins.
The Church is a most sharp-set lady,
And her stomach holds good store,
Has swallowed lands on lands already,
And, still unglutted, craves for more;
The Church alone, my ladies dear,
Can digest ill-gotten gear.”
That is a general fashion—Jew,
And King, and Kaiser have it too.
Then ring and ear-ring, and necklace, and casket,
Like a bundle of toad-stools away he bore;
Thanked her no less, and thanked her no more,
Than had it been so many nuts in a basket;
On heavenly treasures then held an oration,
Much, of course, to their edification.
Sits now in restless mood,
Knows neither what she would, nor what she should;
Broods o’er the trinkets night and day,
And on him who sent them, more.
Sweet love! her grief doth vex me sore.
Mephisto, mark well what I say!
Get her another set straightway!
The first were not so very fine.
O yes! with you all things are mere child’s play.
Quick hence! and match your will with mine!
Throw thee oft in her neighbor’s way.
Be not a devil of milk and water,
And for another gift go cater.
Yes, gracious sir! most humbly I obey.
Such love-sick fools as these would blow
Sun, moon, and stars, like vilest stuff,
To nothing with a single puff,
To make their lady-love a show!
In honest truth, it was not nobly done,
In my good spouse to leave me here alone!
May God forgive him! while he roams at large,
O’er the wide world, I live at my own charge.
Sure he could have no reason to complain!
So good a wife he’ll not find soon again. [She weeps.]
He may be dead!—Ah me!—could I but know,
By a certificate, that ’tis really so!
What wouldst thou, dear?
My knees can scarcely bear me!—only hear!
I found a second box to-day
Of ebon-wood, just where the first one lay,
Brimful of jewels passing rare,
Much finer than the others.
Have a care
You keep this well masked from your mother—
’Twould fare no better than the other.
Only come near, and see! look here!
Martha. [decking her with the jewels]
Thou art a lucky little dear!
And yet I dare not thus be seen
In church, or on the public green.
Just come across when you’ve an hour to spare,
And put the gauds on here with none to see!
Then promenade awhile before the mirror there;
’Twill be a joy alike to thee and me.
Then on a Sunday, or a holiday,
Our riches by degrees we can display.
A necklace first, the drops then in your ear;
Your mother sees it not; and should she hear,
’Tis easy to invent some fair pretence or other.
But whence the pretty caskets came? I fear
There’s something in it not right altogether. [Knocking.]
Good God!—I hear a step—is it my mother?
Martha. [looking through the casement]
’Tis a strange gentleman. Come in!
I hope the ladies will not think me rude,
That uninvited thus I here intrude.
[Observing Margaret, he draws back respectfully.]
I have commands for Mistress Martha Schwerdtlein.
For me? what has the gentleman to say?
Mephistopheles. [softly to her]
Excuse my freedom. I perceive that you
Have visitors of rank to-day;
For this time I shall bid adieu,
And after dinner do myself the pleasure
To wait upon you, when you’re more at leisure.
Think, child! of all things in the world the last!
My Gretchen for a lady should have passed!
The gentleman is far too good;
I’m a poor girl—boast neither wealth nor blood.
This dress, these jewels, are not mine.
’Tis not the dress alone that I admire;
She has a mien, a gait, a look so fine,
That speak the lady more than costliest attire.
And now your business, sir? I much desire—
Would God I had a better tale to tell!
Small thanks I should receive, I knew it well.
Your husband’s dead—his last fond words I bear.
Is dead! the good fond soul! O woe!
My man is dead! flow, sorrow, flow!
Beseech thee, dearest Martha, don’t despair.
Now hear my mournful story to the end.
I would not love a man on earth, to rend
Me thus with grief, when he might hap to die.
Joy hath its sorrow, sorrow hath its joy;
Twin sisters are they, as the proverb saith.
Now let me hear the manner of his death.
Where Padua’s sacred turrets rise,
Above the grave of holy Antony,
On consecrated ground thy husband lies,
And slumbers for eternity.
No further message? is this all?
Yes! one request, and that not small.
For his soul’s peace, your good man wanted
Three hundred masses to be chanted.
This is the whole of my commission.
What! not a jewel? not a coin?
No journeyman, however poor,
However wild, could make such an omission,
But in the bottom of his pouch is sure
To keep some small memorial for his wife,
And rather beg, and rather pine
Away the remnant of his life—
Madam! for your hard case I greatly grieve,
But your good husband had no gold to leave.
His sins and follies he lamented sore—
Yes! and bewailed his own mishap much more.
Alas for all the miseries of mankind!
He shall not want my oft-repeated prayer.
Mephistopheles. [to Margaret]
Thou, gentle heart, dost well deserve to find
A husband worthy of a bride so fair.
Ah no!—for that, it is too soon.
A lover, then, might in the meantime do.
’Tis bounteous Heaven’s choicest boon
To fondle in one’s arms so sweet a thing as you.
Such things are never done with us.
Done or not done!—it may be managed thus:—
Now let me hear!
By his death-bed I stood.
It was a little better than of dung,
Of mouldy straw; there, as a Christian should,
With many a sin repented on his tongue,
He died.—“Oh! how must I,” he said,
“Myself detest so to throw up my trade,
And my dear wife abandon so!
It kills me with the simple memory, oh!
Might she but now forgive me, ere I die!”
Good soul! I have forgiven him long ago.
Mephistopheles. [continuing his interrupted narrative]
And yet was she, God knows, much more to blame than I.
What! did he lie? on the grave’s brink to lie!
He fabled to the last, be sure,
If I am half a connoisseur.
“In sooth, I had no time to gape,” he said,
“First to get children, then to get them bread,
To clothe them, and to put them to a trade,
From toil and labor I had no release,
And could not even eat my own thin slice in peace.”
Can it then be? has he forgotten quite
My fag and drudgery, by day and night?
Not quite! attend the sequel of my tale.
“When last we sailed from Malta”—so he said,
“For wife and children fervently I prayed,
And Heaven then blew a favorable gale.
We came across a Turkish ship that bore
Home bullion to increase the Sultan’s store,
And soon, by valor’s right, were masters
Of all the Infidel piastres;
The precious spoil was shared among the crew,
And I received the part that was my due.”
But where and how?—has he then buried it?
Who knows where the four winds have hurried it!
A lady took him under her protection
At Naples, as he wandered to and fro;
She left him many a mark of her affection,
As to his life’s end he had cause to know.
The knave, to treat his helpless orphans so!
To all our misery and all our need,
Amid his reckless life, he gave no heed!
And for that cause he’s dead. If I were you,
Now mark me well, I tell you what I’d do;
I’d mourn him decently for one chaste year,
Then look about me for another dear.
Alas! God knows it would be hard to find
Another so completely to my mind.
A better-hearted fool you never knew,
A love of roving was his only vice;
And foreign wine, and foreign women too,
And the accursèd gambling dice.
Such marriage-articles were most convenient,
Had he to you been only half so lenient.
On terms like these myself had no objection
To change with you the ring of conjugal affection.
You jest, mein Herr!
A serious jest for me!
I’d better go; for, if I tarry here,
She’ll take the devil at his word, I fear.
[To Margaret.] How stands it with your heart then?—is it free?
I scarce know what you mean.
Sweet guileless heart!
One word before we part!
I fain would have it solemnly averred,
How my dear husband died, and where he was interred.
Order was aye my special virtue; and
’Tis right both where and when he died should stand
In the newspapers.
Yes, when two attest,
As Scripture saith, the truth is manifest.
I have a friend, who, at your requisition,
Before the judge will make a deposition.
I’ll bring him here.
Yes, bring him with you, do!
And we shall meet your fair young lady too?
[To Margaret.] A gallant youth!—has been abroad, and seen
The world—a perfect cavalier, I trow.
’Twould make me blush, should he bestow
A single look on one so mean.
You have no cause to be ashamed before
The proudest king that ever sceptre bore.
This evening, in the garden then, behind
The house, you’ll find warm hearts and welcome kind!
How now? what news? how speed your labors?
Bravo! ’tis well you are on fire;
Soon shall you have your heart’s desire.
This evening you shall meet her at her neighbor’s;
A dame ’tis to a nicety made
For the bawd and gipsy trade.
But you must lend a hand, and so must I.
One good turn deserves another.
We must appear before a judge together,
And solemnly there testify
That stiff and stark her worthy spouse doth lie,
Beside the shrine of holy Antony.
Most wise! we must first make a goodly travel!
Sancta simplicitas! what stuff you drivel!
We may make oath, and not know much about it.
If that’s your best, your best is bad. I scout it.
O holy man that would outwit the devil!
Is it the first time in your life that you
Have sworn to what you knew could not be true?
Of God, the world, and all that it contains,
Of man, and all that circles in his veins,
Or dwells within the compass of his brains,
Have you not pompous definitions given,
With swelling breast and dogmatizing brow,
As if you were an oracle from heaven?
And yet, if the plain truth you will avow,
You knew as much of all these things, in faith,
As now you know of Master Schwerdtlein’s death!
Thou art, and wert, a sophist and a liar.
Yes, unless one could mount a little higher.
To-morrow I shall hear you pour
False vows that silly girl before,
Swear to do everything to serve her,
And love her with a quenchless fervor.
And from my heart too.
Oh! of course, of course!
Then will you speak, till you are hoarse,
Of love, and constancy, and truth,
And feelings of eternal youth—
Will that too be the simple sooth?
It will! it will!—for, when I feel,
And for the feeling, the confusion
Of feelings, that absorbs my mind,
Seek for names, and none can find,
Sweep through the universe’s girth
For every highest word to give it birth;
And then this soul-pervading flame,
Infinite, endless, endless name,
Call you this nought but devilish delusion?
Still I am right!
Hold! mark me, you
Are right indeed! for this is true,
Who will be right, and only has a tongue,
Is never wrong.
Come, I confess thee master in debating,
That I may be delivered from thy prating.
end of act third.
Margaret on Faust’s arm; Martha with Mephistopheles, walking up and down.
I feel it well, ’tis from pure condescension
You pay to one like me so much attention.
With travellers ’tis a thing of course,
To be contented with the best they find;
For sure a man of cultivated mind
Can have small pleasure in my poor discourse.
One look from thee, one word, delights me more
Than all the world’s high-vaunted lore.
[He kisses her hand.
O trouble not yourself! how could you kiss it so?
It is so coarse, so rough! for I must go
Through all the work above stairs and below,
Mother will have it so.
[They pass on.
And you, sir, will it still
Be your delight from place to place to roam?
In this our duty guides us, not our will.
With what sad hearts from many a place we go,
Where we had almost learned to be at home!
When one is young it seems a harmless gambol,
Thus round and round through the wide world to ramble:
But soon the evil day comes on,
And as a stiff old bachelor to die
Has never yet done good to any one.
I see ahead, and fear such wretched fate.
Then, sir, take warning ere it be too late!
[They pass on.
Yes, out of sight, and out of mind!
You see me now, and are so kind:
But you have friends at home of station high,
With far more wit and far more sense than I.
Their sense, dear girl, is often nothing more
Than vain conceit of vain short-sighted lore.
How mean you that?
Oh that the innocent heart
And sweet simplicity, unspoiled by art,
So seldom knows its own rare quality!
That fair humility, the comeliest grace
Which bounteous Nature sheds on blooming face—
Do thou bestow a moment’s thought on me,
I shall have time enough to think of thee.
You are then much alone?
Our household is but small, I own,
And yet must be attended to.
We keep no maid; I have the whole to do,
Must wash and brush, and sew and knit,
And cook, and early run and late;
And then my mother is, in every whit,
Not that she needs to pinch her household; we
Might do much more than many others do:
My father left a goodly sum, quite free
From debt, with a neat house and garden too,
Close by the town, just as you pass the gate;
But we have lived retired enough of late.
My brother is a soldier: he
Is at the wars: my little sister’s dead:
Poor thing! it caused me many an hour of pain
To see it pine, and droop its little head,
But gladly would I suffer all again,
So much I loved the child!
An angel, if like thee!
I nursed it, and it loved me heartily.
My father died before it saw the light,
My mother was despaired of quite,
So miserably weak she lay.
Yet she recovered slowly, day by day;
And as she had not strength herself
To suckle the poor helpless elf,
She gave’t in charge to me, and I
With milk and water nursed it carefully.
Thus in my arm, and on my lap, it grew,
And smiled and crowed, and flung its legs about,
And called me mother too.
To thy pure heart the purest joy, no doubt.
Ay! but full many an hour
Heavy with sorrow, and with labor sour.
The infant’s cradle stood beside
My bed, and when it stirred or cried,
I must awake;
Sometimes to give it drink, sometimes to take
It with me to my bed, and fondle it:
And when all this its fretting might not stay,
I rose, and danced about, and dandled it;
And after that I must away
To wash the clothes by break of day.
I make the markets too, and keep house for my mother,
One weary day just like another;
Thus drudging on, the day might lack delights,
But food went lightly down, and sleep was sweet o’ nights.
[They pass on.
A woman’s case is not much to be vaunted;
A hardened bachelor is hard to mend.
A few apostles such as you were wanted,
From evil ways their vagrant steps to bend.
Speak plainly, sir, have you found nothing yet?
Are you quite disentangled from the net?
A house and hearth, we have been often told,
With a good wife, is worth its weight in gold.
I mean, sir, have you never felt the want?
A good reception I have always found.
I mean to say, did your heart never pant?
For ladies my respect is too profound
To jest on such a serious theme as this.
My meaning still you strangely miss!
Alas, that I should be so blind!
One thing I plainly see, that you are very kind!
[They pass on.
You knew me, then, you little angel! straight,
When you beheld me at the garden-gate?
Marked you it not?—You saw my downward look.
And you forgive the liberty I took,
When from the minster you came out that day,
And I, with forward boldness more than meet,
Then ventured to address you on the street?
I was surprised, I knew not what to say;
No one could speak an evil word of me.
Did he, perchance, in my comportment see
Aught careless or improper on that day,
That he should take me for a worthless girl,
Whom round his little finger he might twirl?
Not yet the favorable thoughts I knew,
That even then were rising here for you;
One thing I know, myself I sharply chid,
That I could treat you then no harshlier than I did.
[She plucks a star-flower, and pulls the petals off one after another.
What’s that? a nosegay? let me see!
’Tis but a game.
Go! you would laugh at me.
[She continues pulling the petals, and murmuring to herself.
What are you murmuring now, so sweetly low?
Margaret. [half loud]
He loves me, yes!—he loves me, no!
Thou sweet angelic face!
Margaret. [murmuring as before]
He loves me, yes!—he loves me, no!
[Pulling out the last petal with manifest delight.]
He loves me, yes!
Yes, child! the fair flower-star hath answered Yes!
In this the judgment of the gods approves thee;
He loves thee! know’st thou what it means?—He loves thee!
[He seizes her by both hands.
I scarce can speak for joy!
Fear thee not, love! But let this look proclaim,
This pressure of my hand declare
What words can never name:
To yield us to an ecstacy of joy,
And feel this tranceful bliss must be
Eternal! yes! its end would be despair!
It hath no end! no end for thee and me!
[Margaret presses his hands, makes herself free, and runs away. He stands still for a moment thoughtfully, then follows her.
Martha. [coming up]
’Tis getting late.
Yes, and we must away.
I fain would have you stay;
But ’tis an evil neighborhood,
Where idle gossips find their only good,
Their pleasure and their business too,
In spying out all that their neighbors do.
And thus, the whole town in a moment knows
The veriest trifle. But where is our young pair?
Like wanton birds of summer, through the air
I saw them dart away.
He seems well pleased with her.
And she with him. ’Tis thus the world goes.
A Summer-house in the Garden.
[Margaret comes springing in, and hides herself behind the door. She places the point of her finger on her lips, and looks through a rent.
Faust. [coming up]
Ha! ha! thou cunning soul, and thou
Would’st trick me thus; but I have caught thee now!
[He kisses her.
Margaret. [clasping him and returning the kiss]
Thou best of men, with my whole heart I love thee!
[Mephistopheles heard knocking.
’Tis time now to remove thee.
Martha. [coming up]
Yes, sir, ’tis getting late.
May I not take you home?
My mother would—farewell!
And must I leave you then?
Right soon to meet again!
[Exeunt Faust and Mephistopheles.
Dear God! what such a man as this
Can think on all and everything!
I stand ashamed, and simple yes
Is the one answer I can bring.
I wonder what a man, so learned as he,
Can find in a poor simple girl like me. [Exit.
Wood and Cavern.
Spirit Supreme! thou gav’st me—gav’st me all,
For which I asked thee. Not in vain hast thou
Turned toward me thy countenance in fire.
Thou gavest me wide Nature for my kingdom,
And power to feel it, to enjoy it. Not
Cold gaze of wonder gav’st thou me alone,
But even into her bosom’s depth to look,
As it might be the bosom of a friend.
The grand array of living things thou mad’st
To pass before me, mad’st me know my brothers
In silent bush, in water, and in air.
And when the straining storm loud roars, and raves
Through the dark forest, and the giant pine,
Root-wrenched, tears all the neighboring branches down
And neighboring stems, and strews the ground with wreck,
And to their fall the hollow mountain thunders;
Then dost thou guide me to the cave, where safe
I learn to know myself, and from my breast
Deep and mysterious wonders are unfolded.
Then mounts the pure white moon before mine eye
With mellow ray, and in her softening light,
From rocky wall, from humid brake, upfloat
The silvery shapes of times by-gone, and soothe
The painful pleasure of deep-brooding thought.
Alas! that man enjoys no perfect bliss,
I feel it now. Thou gav’st me with this joy,
Which brings me near and nearer to the gods,
A fellow, whom I cannot do without.
All cold and heartless, he debases me
Before myself, and, with a single breath,
Blows all the bounties of thy love to nought;
And fans within my breast a raging fire
For that fair image, busy to do ill.
Thus reel I from desire on to enjoyment,
And in enjoyment languish for desire.
What! not yet tired of meditation?
Methinks this is a sorry recreation.
To try it once or twice might do;
But then, again to something new.
You might employ your time some better way
Than thus to plague me on a happy day.
Well, well! I do not grudge you quiet,
You need my aid, and you cannot deny it.
There is not much to lose, I trow,
With one so harsh, and gruff, and mad as thou.
Toil! moil! from morn to ev’n, so on it goes!
And what one should, and what one should not do,
One cannot always read it on your nose.
This is the proper tone for you!
Annoy me first, and then my thanks are due.
Poor son of Earth! without my timed assistance,
How had you ever dragged on your existence?
From freakish fancy’s fevered effervescence,
I have worked long ago your convalescence,
And, but for me, you would have marched away,
In your best youth, from the blest light of day.
What have you here, in caves and clefts, to do,
Like an old owl, screeching to-whit, to-whoo?
Or like a torpid toad, that sits alone
Sipping the oozing moss and dripping stone?
A precious condition to be in!
I see the Doctor sticks yet in your skin.
Couldst thou but know what re-born vigor springs
From this lone wandering in the wilderness,
Couldst thou conceive what heavenly joy it brings,
Then wert thou fiend enough to envy me my bliss.
A supermundane bliss!
In night and dew to lie upon the height,
And clasp the heaven and earth in wild delight,
To swell up to the godhead’s stature,
And pierce with clear miraculous sight
The inmost pith of central Nature,
To carry in your breast with strange elation,
The ferment of the whole six days’ creation,
With proud anticipation of—I know
Not what—to glow in rapturous overflow,
And melt into the universal mind,
Casting the paltry son of earth behind;
And then, the heaven-sprung intuition
[With a gesture.] To end—I shall not say in what—fruition.
Shame on thee!
Yes! that’s not quite to your mind.
You have a privilege to cry out shame,
When things are mentioned by their proper name.
Before chaste ears one may not dare to spout
What chastest hearts yet cannot do without.
I do not envy you the pleasure
Of palming lies upon yourself at leisure;
But long it cannot last, I warrant thee.
You are returned to your old whims, I see,
And, at this rate, you soon will wear
Your strength away, in madness and despair.
Of this enough! thy love sits waiting thee,
In doubt and darkness, cabined and confined.
By day, by night, she has thee in her mind;
I trow she loves thee in no common kind.
Thy raging passion ’gan to flow,
Like a torrent in spring from melted snow;
Into her heart thy tide gushed high,
Now is thy shallow streamlet dry.
Instead of standing here to overbrim
With fine ecstatic rapture to the trees,
Methinks the mighty gentleman might please
To drop some words of fond regard, to ease
The sweet young chick who droops and pines for him.
Poor thing, she is half dead of ennui,
And at the window stands whole hours, to see
The clouds pass by the old town-wall along.
Were I a little bird! so goes her song
The live-long day, and half the night to boot.
Sometimes she will be merry, mostly sad,
Now, like a child, weeping her sorrows out,
Now calm again to look at, never glad;
Always in love.
Thou snake! thou snake!
Mephistopheles. [to himself]
So be it! that my guile thy stubborn will may break!
Hence and begone, thou son of filth and fire!
Name not the lovely maid again!
Bring not that overmastering desire
Once more to tempt my poor bewildered brain!
What then? she deems that you are gone forever;
And half and half methinks you are.
No! I am nigh, and were I ne’er so far,
I could forget her, I could lose her never;
I envy ev’n the body of the Lord,
When on the sacred cake her lips she closes.
Yes! to be honest, and confess my sins,
I oft have envied thee the lovely twins
That have their fragrant pasture among roses.
Avaunt, thou pimp!
Rail you, and I will laugh;
The God who made the human stuff
Both male and female, if the book don’t lie,
Himself the noblest trade knew well enough,
How to carve out an opportunity.
But come, why peak and pine you here?
I lead you to the chamber of your dear,
Not to the gallows.
Ah! what were Heaven’s supremest blessedness
Within her arms, upon her breast, to me!
Must I not still be wrung with agony,
That I should plunge her into such distress?
I, the poor fugitive! outlaw from my kind,
Without a friend, without a home,
With restless heart, and aimless mind,
Unblest, unblessing, ever doomed to roam;
Who, like a waterfall, from rock to rock came roaring,
With greedy rage into the caldron pouring;
While she, a heedless infant, rears
Sidewards her hut upon the Alpine field,
With all her hopes, and all her fears,
Within this little world concealed.
And I—the God-detested—not content
To seize the rocks, and in my headlong bent
To shatter them to dust, with ruthless tide
Her little shielding on the mountain side
Bore down, and wrecked her life’s sweet peace with mine.
And such an offering, Hell, must it be thine?
Help, Devil, to cut short the hour of ill!
What happen must, may happen when it will!
May her sad fate my crashing fall attend,
And she with me be ruined in the end!
Lo! how it boils again and blows
Like furnace, wherefore no man knows.
Go in, thou fool, and let her borrow
From thee, sweet solace to her sorrow!
When such a brainsick dreamer sees
No road, where he to walk may please,
He stands and stares like Balaam’s ass,
As if a god did block the pass.
A man’s a man who does and dares!
In other points you’re spiced not scantly with the devil;
Nothing more silly moves on earth’s wide level,
Than is a devil who despairs.
Margaret alone, at a Spinning-wheel.
My rest is gone,
My heart is sore;
Peace find I never,
Where he is not
Life is the tomb,
The world is bitterness
Crazed is my poor
My thread of thought
Is rent in twain.
My rest is gone,
My heart is sore;
Peace find I never,
And never more.
I look from the window
For none but him,
I go abroad
For only him.
His noble air,
His bearing high,
The smile of his mouth,
The might of his eye,
And, when he speaks,
What flow of bliss!
The clasp of his hand,
And ah! his kiss!
My rest is gone,
My heart is sore;
Peace find I never,
My bosom swells,
And pants for him,
O that I might clasp him,
And cling to him!
And kiss him, and kiss him
The live-long day,
And on his kisses
Margaret and Faust.
Promise me, Henry!
What I can.
Of your religion I am fain to hear;
I know thou art a most kind-hearted man,
But as to thy belief I fear—
Fear not! thou know’st I love thee well: and know
For whom I love my life’s last drop shall flow!
For other men, I have nor wish nor need
To rob them of their church, or of their creed.
That’s not enough; you must believe it too!
Alas! that I might work some change on you!
Not even the holy mass do you revere.
I do revere ’t.
Yes, but without desire.
At mass and at confession, too, I fear,
Thou hast not shown thyself this many a year.
Dost thou believe in God?
My love, who dares aspire
To say he doth believe in God?
May’st ask thy priests and sages all,
Their answer seems like mockery to fall
Upon the asker’s ear.
Then thou dost not believe?
Misunderstand me not, thou sweet, angelic face!
Who dares pronounce His name?
And who proclaim—
I do believe in Him?
And who dares presume
To utter—I believe Him not?
Grasps and upholds He not
Thee, me, Himself?
Vaults not the Heaven his vasty dome above thee?
Stand not the earth’s foundations firm beneath thee?
And climb not, with benignant beaming,
Up heaven’s slope the eternal stars?
Looks not mine eye now into thine?
And feel’st thou not an innate force propelling
Thy tide of life to head and heart,
A power that, in eternal mystery dwelling,
Invisible visible moves beside thee?
Go, fill thy heart therewith, in all its greatness,
And when thy heart brims with this feeling,
Then call it what thou wilt,
Heart! Happiness! Love! God!
I have no name for that which passes all revealing!
Feeling is all in all;
Name is but smoke and sound,
Enshrouding heaven’s pure glow.
All that appears most pious and profound;
Much of the same our parson says,
Only he clothes it in a different phrase.
All places speak it forth;
All hearts, from farthest South to farthest North,
Proclaim the tale divine,
Each in its proper speech;
Wherefore not I in mine?
When thus you speak it does not seem so bad,
And yet is your condition still most sad:
Unless you are a Christian, all is vain.
Henry, it gives me pain,
More than my lips can speak, to see
Thee joined to such strange company.
The man whom thou hast made thy mate,
Deep in my inmost soul I hate;
Nothing in all my life hath made me smart
So much as his disgusting leer.
His face stabs like a dagger through my heart!
Sweet doll! thou hast no cause to fear.
It makes my blood to freeze when he comes near.
To other men I have no lack
Of kindly thoughts; but as I long
To see thy face, I shudder back
From him. That he’s a knave I make no doubt;
May God forgive me, if I do him wrong!
Such grim old owls must be; without
Their help the world could not get on, I fear.
With men like him I would have nought to do!
As often as he shows him here,
He looks in at the door with such a scornful leer,
Half angry too;
Whate’er is done, he takes no kindly part;
And one can see it written on his face,
He never loved a son of Adam’s race.
Henry, within thy loving arm
I feel so free, so trustful-warm;
But when his foot comes near, I start,
And feel a freezing grip tie up my heart.
O thou prophetic angel, thou!
This overpowers me so
That, when his icy foot may cross the door,
I feel as if I could not love thee more.
When he is here, too, I could never pray;
This eats my very heart. Now say,
Henry, is’t not the same with thee?
Nay now, this is mere blind antipathy!
I must be gone.
Oh! may it never be
That I shall spend one quiet hour with thee,
One single little hour, and breast on breast,
And soul on soul, with panting love, be pressed?
Alas! did I but sleep alone, this night
The door unbarred thy coming should invite;
But my good mother has but broken sleep;
And, if her ears an inkling got,
Then were I dead upon the spot!
Sweet angel! that’s an easy fence to leap.
Here is a juice, whose grateful power can steep
Her senses in a slumber soft and deep;
Three drops mixed with her evening draught will do.
I would adventure this and more for you.
Of course, there’s nothing hurtful in the phial?
If so, would I advise the trial?
Thou best of men, if I but look on thee,
All will deserts me to thy wish untrue;
So much already have I done for thee
That now scarce aught remains for me to do. [Exit.
Well, is the monkey gone?
And you—must I
Submit again to see you play the spy?
I have been duly advertised
How Doctor Faust was catechised:
I hope it will agree with you.
The girls are wont—they have their reasons too—
To see that one, in every point, believes
The faith, that from his fathers he receives.
They think, if little mettle here he shows,
We too may lead him by the nose.
Thou monster! dost not know how this fond soul,
Who yields her being’s whole
To God, and feels and knows
That from such faith alone her own salvation flows,
With many an anxious holy fear is tossed,
Lest he, whom best she loves, should be forever lost?
Thou super-sensual sensual fool,
A silly girl takes thee to school!
Thou son of filth and fire, thou monster, thou!
And then her skill in reading faces
Is not the least of all her graces!
When I come near, she feels, she knows not how,
And through my mask can read it on my brow
That I must be, if not the very Devil,
A genius far above the common level.
And now to-night—
What’s that to thee?
What brings my master joy, brings joy to me.
At the Well.
Margaret and Eliza, with water-pitchers.
Have you heard nought of Barbara?
Nothing at all. I seldom stray
From home, to hear of other folk’s affairs.
You may believe me every whit;
Sibylla told it me to-day.
She too has been befooled: that comes of it,
When people give themselves such airs!
She eats and drinks for two, not now for one.
Well, well! she has herself to thank.
How long did she not hang upon
The fellow!—Yes! that was a parading,
A dancing and a promenading!
Must always be before the rest!
And to wines and pasties be pressed;
Began then to be proud of her beauty,
And was so reckless of her duty
As to take presents from him too.
That was a cooing and a caressing!
No wonder if the flower too be amissing!
I pity her.
Methinks you have not much to do.
When we were not allowed to venture o’er
The threshold, night and day kept close at spinning,
There stood she, with her paramour,
Upon the bench, before the door,
Or in the lane, and hour for hour
Scarce knew the end from the beginning.
’Tis time that she should go to school
And learn—on the repentance-stool!
But he will take her for his wife.
He marry her! not for his life!
An active youth like him can find,
Where’er he pleases, quarters to his mind.
Besides, he’s gone!
That was not fair.
And if he should come back, she’ll not enjoy him more.
Her marriage wreath the boys will tear,
And we will strew chopped straw before the door.[n9] [Exit.
Margaret. [going homewards]
How could I once so boldly chide
When a poor maiden stepped aside,
And scarce found words enough to name
The measure of a sister’s shame!
If it was black, I blackened it yet more,
And with that blackness not content,
More thickly still laid on the paint,
And blessed my stars, as cased in mail,
Against all frailties of the frail;
And now myself am what I chid before!—
Yet was each step that lured my slippery feet
So good, so lovely, so enticing sweet!
An enclosed Area.
(In a niche of the wall an image of the Mater dolorosa, with flower-jugs before it.)
Margaret. [placing fresh flowers in the jugs]
O mother rich in sorrows,
Bend down to hear my cry!
O bend thee, gracious mother,
To my sore agony!
Thy heart with swords is piercèd,
And tears are in thine eye,
Because they made thy dear Son
A cruel death to die.
Thou lookest up to heaven,
And deeply thou dost sigh;
His God and thine beholds thee,
And heals thine agony.
Oh! who can know
What bitter woe
Doth pierce me through and through?
The fear, the anguish of my heart,
Its every pang, its every smart,
Know’st thou, and only thou.
And wheresoe’er I wend me,
What woes, what woes attend me,
And how my bosom quakes!
And in my chamber lonely,
With weeping, weeping only,
My heart for sorrow breaks.
These flower-pots on the window
I wet with tears, ah me!
When with the early morning,
I plucked these flowers for thee.
And when the morn’s first sunbeam
Into my room was shed,
I sat, in deepest anguish,
And watched it on my bed.
O save me, Mother of Sorrows!
Unto my prayer give heed,
By all the swords that pierced thee,
O save me in my need!
Night. Street before Margaret’s door.
When I sat with our merry men,
At a carousal, now and then,
Where one may be allowed a boast,
And my messmates gave toast for toast
To the girl they prized the most,
And with a bumper then swilled o’er
Their praise, when they could praise no more;
I’d sit at ease, and lean upon
My elbow, while they prated on,
Till all the swaggerers had done,
And smile and stroke my beard, and fill
The goodly rummer to my hand,
And say, All that is very well!
But is there one, in all the land,
That with my Margaret may compare,
Or even tie the shoe to her?
Rap, rap! cling, clang! so went it round!
From man to man, with gleesome sound,
And one cried out with lusty breath,
“Yes, Gretchen! Gretchen! she’s the girl,
Of womanhood the perfect pearl!”
And all the braggarts were dumb as death.
And now,—the devil’s in the matter!
It is enough to make one clatter,
Like a rat, along the walls!
Shall every boor, with gibe and jeer,
Turn up his nose when I appear?
And every pettiest word that falls
Me, like a purseless debtor, torture?
And though I bruised them in a mortar,
I could not say that they were wrong.
What comes apace?—what creeps along?
A pair of them comes slinking by.
If ’tis the man I look for, I
Will dust his coat so well he’ll not,
By Jove! go living from the spot! [Retires.
Enter Faust and Mephistopheles.
As from the window of the vestry there,
The light of the undying lamp doth glare,
And sidewards gleameth, dimmer still and dimmer,
Till darkness closes round its fitful glimmer,
So murky is it in my soul.
And I’ve a qualmish sort of feeling,
Like a cat on a rainy day,
Creeping round the wall, and stealing
Near the fireplace, if it may.
Yet am I in most virtuous trim
For a small turn at stealing, or at lechery;
So jumps already through my every limb
Walpurgis-Night, with all its glorious witchery.
The day after to-morrow brings again
The Feast, with fun and frolic in its train.
Is it not time that you were raising
The treasure there in the distance blazing?
Soon shall you sate your eyes with gazing,
And lift up from the urn yourself
A little mine of precious pelf.
I gave it a side-glance before—
Saw lion-dollars by the score.
Is there no gaud?—no jewel at all?
To deck my sweet little mistress withal.
O yes! I saw some trinkets for the girls,—
A sort of necklace strung with pearls.
’Tis well that we have this to give her,
For empty-handed go I never.
And yet a wise man ought to learn
To enjoy gratis, as well as to earn.
Now, that the stars are bright and clear the sky,
I’ll give you a touch of choicest melody;
A moral song—that, while we seem to school her,
With the more certainty we may befool her.
[Sings to the guitar.]
Why stands before
Her lover’s door,
Young Catherine here,
At early break of day?
He lets thee in,
A maiden in,
A maiden not away!
When full it blows,
He breaks the rose,
And leaves thee then,
A wretched outcast thing!
Take warning, then,
And yield to none
But who hath shown,
And changed with thee the ring.
Ho, serenaders! by the Element!
You whoreson rascals! you rat-catchers, you!
First, to the devil with the instrument,
And, after it, the harper too!
Donner and blitz! my good guitar is broken!
And your skull, too, anon: by this sure token!
Quick, Doctor! here’s no time to tarry!
Keep close, as I shall lead the way.
Out with your goosewing! out, I say!
Make you the thrusts, and I will parry.
Then parry that!
I deem the devil is here, or something worse.
Good God! what’s this?—my arm is lamed!
Mephistopheles. [to Faust]
Have at him there!
Now is the lubber tamed!
But let’s be gone! why stand you gaping there?
They’ll raise a cry of murder! I can play
A game with the policeman, any day;
But blood spilt is a dangerous affair.
[Exeunt Mephistopheles and Faust.
Martha. [at the window]
Ho! murder, ho!
Margaret. [at the window]
A light! a light!
Martha. [as above]
They bawl, they brawl, they strike, they fight.
And here lies one already dead!
Martha. [appearing below]
Where are the murderers? are they fled?
Who’s this lies here?
Thy mother’s son.
Almighty God! my brother dead!
I die! I die!—’tis quickly said,
And yet more quickly done.
Why stand you, women, and weep and wail?
Draw near, and listen to my tale!
[They all come round him.]
My Margaret, mark me, you are young,
And in sense not overstrong;
You manage matters ill.
I tell thee in thine ear, that thou
Art, once for all, a strumpet,—now
Mayst go and take thy fill.
My brother! God! what do you mean?
Leave the Lord God out of the jest;
Said is said, and done is done;
Now you may manage, as you best
Know how to help the matter on.
You commenced the trade with one,
We shall have two, three, four, anon,
Next a dozen, and next a score,
And then the whole town at your door.
When sin is born it shuns the light
(For conscience guilt may not abide it),
And they draw the veil of night
Over head and ears, to hide it;
Yea, they would murder it, if they might.
But anon it waxes bolder,
And walks about in broad day-light,
And, uglier still as it grows older,
The less it offers to invite,
The more it courts the public sight.
Even now, methinks, I see the day,
When every honest citizen,
As from a corpse of tainted clay,
From thee, thou whore! will turn away.
Thy very heart shall fail thee then,
When they shall look thee in the face!
No more shall golden chain thee grace!
The Church shall spurn thee from its door!
The altar shall not own thee more!
Nor longer, with thy spruce lace-tippet,
Where the dance wheels, shalt thou trip it!
In some vile den of want and woe,
With beggars and cripples thou shalt bed;
And, if from Heaven forgiveness flow,
Earth shall rain curses on thy head!
Speak softly, and prepare thy soul for death,
Nor mingle slander with thy parting breath!
Could I but reach thy withered skin,
Thou hag, thou bawd, so vile and shameless!
For such fair deed I might pass blameless,
To score the black mark from my blackest sin.
Brother, thou mak’st me feel a hell of pain!
I tell thee, all thy tears are vain!
When with thy honor thou didst part,
Thou dealt the blow that pierced my heart.
I go through death, with fearless mood,
To meet my God, as a soldier should. [Dies.
Mass, Organ, and Song. Margaret amid a crowd of people, Evil Spirit behind her.
How different, Margaret, was thy case,
When, in thine innocence, thou didst kneel
Before the altar,
And from the well-worn book
Didst lisp thy prayers,
Half childish play,
Half God in thy heart!
Where is thy head?
Within thy heart
What dire misdeed?
Prayest thou for thy mother’s soul, whom thou
Didst make to sleep a long, long sleep of sorrow?
Whose blood is on thy threshold?
—And, underneath thy heart,
Moves not the swelling germ of life already,
And, with its boding presence
Thee tortures, and itself?
That I might shake away the thoughts,
That hither flit and thither,
Dies iræ, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla.
[The organ sounds.
Terror doth seize thee!
The trumpet sounds!
The graves quake!
And thy heart,
From its rest of ashes,
To fiery pain
Quivers to life!
Would I were hence!
I feel as if the organ stopped
And, at the hymn,
My inmost heart
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet adparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit.
I feel so straitened!
The pillar shafts
Enclasp me round!
Is closing o’er me!—Air!
Yea! let them hide thee! but thy sin and shame
No vault can hide!
Air? Light? No!
Woe on thee! woe!
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus?
Cum vix justus sit securus.
The blessèd turn
Their looks away,
And the pure shudder
From touch of thee!
Neighbor, help! help! I faint!
[She falls down in a swoon.
end of act fourth.
The Hartz Mountains. Neighborhood of Schirke and Elend.
Faust and Mephistopheles.
Would you not like a broomstick to bestride?
Would God I had a stout old goat to ride!
The way is long; and I would rather spare me
This uphill work.
While my good legs can bear me,
This knotted stick will serve my end.
What boots it to cut short the way?
Through the long labyrinth of vales to wend,
These rugged mountain-steeps to climb,
And hear the gushing waters’ ceaseless chime,
No better seasoning on my wish to-day
Could wait, to make the Brocken banquet prime!
The Spring is waving in the birchen bower,
And ev’n the pine begins to feel its power;
Shall we alone be strangers to its sway?
No whiff I feel that hath a smell of May;
I am most wintry cold in every limb;
I’d sooner track my road o’er frost and snow.
How sadly mounts the imperfect moon!—so dim
Shines forth its red disk, with belated glow,
We run the risk, at every step, on stones
Or stumps of crazy trees, to break our bones.
You must allow me to request the aid
Of a Will-o-the-Wisp;—I see one right ahead,
And in the bog it blazes merrily.
Holla! my good friend! dare I be so free?
Two travellers here stand much in need of thee;
Why should’st thou waste thy flickering flame in vain?
Pray be so good as light us up the hill!
Out of respect to you, I will restrain,
If possible, my ever-shifting will;
But all our natural genius, and our skill
Is zigzag; straight lines go against the grain.
Ha! ha! hast learned from men how to declaim?
March on, I tell thee, in the Devil’s name!
Else will I blow thy flickering life-spark out.
You are the master of the house, no doubt,
And therefore I obey you cheerfully.
Only remember! ’tis the first of May,
The Brocken is as mad as mad can be;
And when an ignis fatuus leads the way,
You have yourselves to blame, if you should stray.
Faust, Mephistopheles, and Will-o-the-Wisp. [in reciprocal song]
Through the realms of fairy dreaming,
Through the air with magic teeming,
Guide us forward, guide us fairly,
Thanks to thee be rendered rarely;
Guide us quick, and guide us sure,
O’er the wide waste Brocken moor.
Trees on trees thick massed before us
Flit, and fling dark shadows o’er us,
Cliffs on cliffs in rugged masses
Nod above the narrow passes,
And each rock from jagged nose,
How it snorts, and how it blows!
Over turf and stones are pouring
Stream and streamlet, wildly roaring;
Is it rustling? is it singing?
Love’s sweet plaint with gentle winging!
Voices of those days, the dearest,
When our light of hope was clearest!
And the echo, like the sounds
Of ancient story, back rebounds.
Oohoo! Shoohoo! what a riot!
Owl and pewit, jay and piet!
Will no bird to-night be quiet?
What is this? red salamanders,
With long legs and swoll’n paunches,
Weaving wreathy fire-meanders
Through the thicket’s bristling branches!
And the trees, their roots outspreading
From the sand and rocky bedding,
Winding, stretching, twisting grimly,
Through the dun air darting dimly
Seek to seize us, seek to grasp us,
And with snaky coils enclasp us!
And the mice in motley muster,
Red and white, and blue and grey,
Thick as bees that hang in cluster,
Crowd along the heathy way.
And the fire-flies shooting lightly
Through the weirdly winding glade,
With bewildering escort, brightly
Lead the streaming cavalcade!
But tell me, in this strange confusion,
What is real, what delusion?
Do we walk with forward faces,
Or stand and halt with baffled paces?
All things seem to change their places,
Rocks and trees to make grimaces,
And the lights in witchy row,
Twinkle more and more they blow!
Hold me tightly by the cue!
From this hillock, we may view,
At leisure, with admiring gaze,
How Mammon in the mount doth blaze!
How strangely through the glooming glens
Dim sheen, like morning redness, glimmers!
Ev’n to the darkest, deepest dens
With its long streaky rays it shimmers.
Here mounts the smoke, there rolls the steam,
There flames through the white vapors gleam,
Here like a thread along the mountain
It creeps; there gushes in a fountain!
Here stretching out, in many a rood,
Along the vale, its veinèd flood,
And here at once it checks its flight,
And bursts in globes of studded light.
There sparks are showering on the ground,
Like golden sand besprinkled round,
And lo! where all the rocky height,
From head to foot is bathed in light!
Hath not old Mammon lit with goodly flame
His palace for the jubilee?
Thou art in luck to see the game;
Even now I scent the lusty company.
How the mad storm doth howl and hiss
And beats my neck with angry buffeting!
To the old mountain’s hard ribs cling,
Or the strong blast will hurl thee down the abyss;
The night with clouds is overcast;
Hear in the woods the grinding of the blast!
How the frightened owlets flit!
How the massive pillars split
Of the dark pine-palaces!
How the branches creak and break!
How the riven stems are groaning!
How the gaping roots are moaning!
In terrible confusion all,
One on another clashing, they fall,
And through the clefts, where their wrecks are buried,
Hissing and howling the winds are hurried.
Sounds of voices dost thou hear?
Voices far, and voices near?
And, all the mountain-side along,
Streams a raving wizard song.
Witches. [in chorus]
The witches to the Brocken ride,
The stubble is yellow, the corn is green;
A merry crew to a merry scene,
And good Sir Urian is the guide.[n10]
Over stock and stone we float,
Wrinkled hag and rank old goat.
Old mother Baubo comes up now,
Alone, and riding on a sow.
Honor to him to whom honor is due!
Lady Baubo heads the crew!
On the back of a sow, with the wings of the wind,
And all the host of witches behind.
Sister, which way came you?
By Ilsenstein! and I looked into
An owlet’s nest, as on I fared,
That with its two eyes broadly stared!
The deuce! at what a devil’s pace
You go; this march is not a race.
It tore me, it flayed me!
These red wounds it made me!
Witches. [in chorus]
The road is broad, the road is long,
Why crowd you so on one another?
Scrapes the besom, pricks the prong,
Chokes the child, and bursts the mother.
We trail us on, like very snails,
The women fly with flaunting sails;
For, when we run Squire Satan’s races,
They always win by a thousand paces.
Not quite so bad: the women need
A thousand paces to help their speed;
But let them speed what most they can,
With one spring comes up the man.
Voice. [from above]
Come up! come up from the lake with me.
Voices. [from below]
Right gladly would we mount with thee;
We wash, and wash, and cease from washing never;
Our skins are as white as white can be,
But we are as dry and barren as ever.
The wind is hushed, the stars take flight,
The sullen moon hath veiled her light,
The magic choir from whizzing wings,
Long lines of sparkling glory flings.
Voice. [from below]
Voice. [from above]
Who bawls so loud from the cleft?
Voice. [from below]
Let me go with you! let me not be left!
Three hundred years I grope and grope
Round the base and up the slope,
But still the summit cheats my hope.
I fain would be a merry guest
At Satan’s banquet with the rest.
On broomstick, and on lusty goat,
On pitchfork, and on stick, we float;
And he, to-day who cannot soar,
Is a lost man for evermore.
I hobble on behind them all,
The others scarcely hear my call!
I find no rest at home: and here,
I limp on lamely in the rear.
Chorus of Witches.
The ointment gives our sinews might,[n11]
For us each rag is sail enough,
We find a ship in every trough;
Whoso will fly must fly to-night.
While we upon the summit ride,
Be yours to sweep along the side;
Up and down, and far and wide,
On the left, and on the right,
Witch and wizard massed together,
Scour the moor and sweep the heather,
Bravely on Walpurgis-night!
What a thronging, and jolting, and rolling, and rattling!
What a whizzing, and whirling, and jostling, and battling!
What a sparkling, and blazing, and stinking, and burning!
And witches that all topsy-turvy are turning!—
Hold fast by me, or I shall lose you quite,
Where are you?
Faust. [at a distance]
What! so far in the rear!
Why then ’tis time that I should use my right,
As master of the house to-night.
Make way! Squire Voland comes,[n12] sweet mob, make way!
Here, Doctor, hold by me!—and now, I say,
We must cut clear
Of this wild hubbub, while we may;
Even my cloth is puzzled here.
See’st thou that light on yonder mound quite near,
It hath a most peculiar glare,
We’ll slip in there,
And watch behind the bush the humors of the Fair.
Strange son of contradiction!—may’st even guide us!
A rare conceit! of course you must be right;
This weary way we march on famed Walpurgis night,
Like hermits in a corner here to hide us!
Lo! where the flames mount up with bickering glee;
In sooth it is a goodly company.
In such a place one cannot be alone.
And yet a place I’d rather own
Upon the top, where whirling smoke I see;
There thousands to the evil Spirit hie,
And many a riddle there he will untie.
Yes: and for every knot he disentangles,
He’ll make another to produce new wrangles.
Let the great world rant and riot,
We’ll know to house us here in quiet;
In the great world ’tis a sanctioned plan,
Each makes a little world the best he can.
Look there; you see young witches without cover,
And old ones prudently veiled over;
Yield but to me, and I can promise thee,
With little labor, mickle glee.
I hear their noisy instruments begin!
Confound their scraping!—one must bear the din.
Come, come! what must be must be—let’s go in!
With my good introduction on this night,
Thou shalt have laughter to thy heart’s delight.
What say’st thou, friend? this is no common show,
A hundred lights are burning in a row,
You scarce may see the end;
They dance, they talk, they cook, they drink, they court;
Now tell me, saw you ever better sport?
Say, in what character do you intend
To appear here, and introduce your friend?
Devil or conjurer?
I love incognito,
Yet on a gala-day my order I may show;
And, though a garter here is but of small avail,
The famous horse’s foot I ne’er yet knew to fail.
See even now that cautious creeping snail!
With her long feeling visage, she
Has smelt out something of hell in me.
Do what I can, they have a snout,
In this keen air to scent me out;
Come! come; from fire to fire we roam; the game
Be mine to start, and yours to woo the dame.
[To some who are sitting round a glimmering coal-fire.]
Why mope you here, old sirs, toasting your toes?
Methinks your Brocken hours were better spent
Amid the youthful roar and merriment;
One is enough alone at home, God knows.
Who would rely upon the faith of nations!
They leave you thankless, when their work is done;
The people, like the women, pour libations
Only in honor of the rising sun.
The liberties these modern changes bring,
I must confess I cannot praise;
The good old times, when we were everything,
These were the truly golden days.
We, too, pushed forward with the pushing crew,
And for the need could stretch a point or two;
But now all’s changed; and with the whirling bucket,
We lose the fruit, just when our hand would pluck it.
No solid work now suits the reading nation,
And year by year the world more shallow grows;
And, for the glib-tongued rising generation,
They hang their wisdom on their up-turned nose!
Mephistopheles. [Who all at once appears very old]
The people here seem ripe for Doom’s day; I
Suspect the world is now on its last legs;
And, since mine own good cask is running dry,
Men and their ways, I guess, are near the dregs!
Good sirs, I pray you pass not by,
Cast on my wares a friendly eye!
One cannot see such rich display
Of curious trinkets every day.
Yet is there nothing in my store
(Which far all other stores excels),
That hath not done some mischief sore
To earth, and all on earth that dwells;
No dagger by which blood hath not been shed,
No cup from which, through sound and healthy life,
Corroding fiery juice hath not been spread,
No gaud but hath seduced some lovely wife,
No sword that hath not made a truce miscarry,
Or stabbed behind the back its adversary.
Good lady cousin! you come rather late.
Your wares, believe me, are quite out of date;
Deal in the new and newest; that
Our palate smacks; all else is flat.
This is a fair that beats the Leipzig hollow!
My head is so confused, I scarce can follow.
To the top the stream is rushing,
And we are pushed, when we think we are pushing.