« PreviousContinue »
Till the old chamber seems to be
Is this a world-a world for thee.
Why throbs the breast with secret pain ?
The anxious spirit questions why?
The aching heart and weary eye.
Where man Creation's purpose owns
Are skeletons and ghastly bones.
Arise-seek out that distant land
See here the great mysterious book,
For better guidance wouldst thou look.
Its light shall on thy soul diffuse,
The tongue's communing spirits use.
In vain unkenn'd and idly here
Must these dread signets meet mine eye!
Oh if ye hear my voice-reply.
His aspirations are at first for the converse of lofty and holy beings, the spirits of the macrocosm, or to phrase it somewhat incorrectly, the greater universe. It is to arrive at these that he resolves to pass the bounds of lawful knowledge, and grasps the forbidden book-his nerves become electric with a delightful and supernatural excitement and his mind fills with visions of glory-yet he regards the sign of the macrocosm long and wistfully, and dares not speak it out. He fixes on that of the spirit of the earth, the active and beneficent principle of nature—he utters it, and the spirit stands before him; but his mortal courage quails at the fearful sight, and he turns away his eyes in terror. He recovers himself directly and attempts to assert his dignity, and claims an equality with his tremendous visitor, but it is too late; the spirit spurns him and disappears, leaving him to relapse into his sombre meditations, which gather double bitterness from this new trial and failure of his strength. His eye rests on a flask of poison—he takes it down and resolves on an escape through the grave to a change of scene, since all his better hopes have failed him; but at this moment he hears at a distance a sound of rejoicing, a peal of bells for Easter morning, and the chorus of the youths and maidens—the anthem in which in other days his
voice had often joined. He puts the poison aside and lends his thoughts to this new impulse—the faith of his early devotions is long since extinct, but their feelings are not quite forgotten, and their remembered thrill prevails over the attractions of death. The song is renewed and this long scene closes with it. In the next we find Mephistopheles. He does not come like the greater spirit in power and terror as one who must be met in pride and strength, after having been sought by
“ Superior science, penance, daring
For such are not the ministers of harm. It is the mean fiend who comes like a black dog to scrape acquaintance, who offers himself to be picked up in the street as if by accident, and to make cautious and gradual discovery of his real character. In such a disguise Mephistopheles finds admittance to the study of the recluse, and he makes use of the opportunity to disturb his meditations, which commence in a softer mood than any in which we have yet seen Faust. He is full of the feeling of his evening walk. He has seen the sun go down, and the influence of the “heavenliest hour of heaven" has not been lost even on his seared sympathies. He retains, though on the verge of his perdition, enough of his better nature to love a glorious sunset, to be solemnized by it, sobered, saddened, yet soothed and cheered. In such a mood he enters his retirement—he speaks as if he had forgotten that there was sorrow in the world.
Retire we now from field and hill,
As closes in the evening hour,
The soul awakes its holier power-
And cach intemperate impulse dies,
And God's own lovo revive and rise.
He is interrupted here by the howlings of the poodle, to whom sentiments like these cannot fail to be unpalatable; but he stills him and goes on, paying that pole-star of the student, his lonely lamp, a tribute, which must find an echo in the bosom of every man who takes the true distinction between being alone and feeling solitary-between crowds and societybetween noise and enjoyment.
Ah when within our narrow cell,
Again the friendly taper glows,
And in the heart itself that knows.
Hope blooms anew with promise rife
We languish for the springs of life.
This gleam of milder thought is already passing off-but he sits down to a theological disquisition, in the course of which the dog becomes outrageous, for, perverse and unprincipled as his taste is, he has the merit of being consistent in the feeling and persevering in the expression of it, so much so that Faust, annoyed at last, attempts to turn him out of doors, and a contest takes place, in the course of which the real character of the stranger is discovered, and Mephistopheles stands forth to personate it. Their conversations are long-I shall not amplify upon them now—the result is that Faust sells, or rather, so recklessly does he bargain, gives away his soul, and the covenant is signed in blood. Yet he does get some promises of enjoyment as part of the conditions, and he scornfully tells the adversary, the poor devil as he calls him, that it will not be in his power to fulfil this promise, or to shed one ray of pleasure upon a soul like his. Mephistopheles in reply taunts him with his attempted suicide, and his relenting when he heard the Easter songs and bells, intimating that the pleasures and affections of humanity have still some hold upon his breast. But he denies the inference.
What though that sweet remembered tone
Recall'd my soul from fearful thouglit,
An instant o'er my fancy brought.
Our natures to this foul abyss,
A prisoner in a den like this.
And lofty aim, itself to know-
The world's all captivating show.
In name and fame to times to come,
Of wife, dependants, friends, and home.
He waits high enterprise to crown,
He smooths luxurious pillows down.
Curs'd be the vine-may curses scathe
Each once loved form our hearts recall.
And curs'd endurance more than all.
These are the outpourings of a humor, which only comes over one occasionally, and which must be felt to be expressed, for for such passages every moment of inspiration is not the happy one. Genius is a will o' the wisp which nothing but another will o' the wisp can follow-and that will not many a man-every man perhaps at times is as capable of execration when his wounded spirit stirs and stings within him as Gethe's self-he becomes, so to speak, a genius for the momentad hoc-but then he has his own griefs to pour out in his own way, and will not curse in harness. When the heart sickens and rebels in its convulsive energy, its deep and baneful indignation and fearful eloquence are uncontrollably its ownthey cannot be improved for the purposes of society like steam or gunpowder and made to work particular machinery, or crammed into some particular cannon, to drive such a thunderbolt of cursing as this of Faust's through the barriers that separate language from language. Feeling may do much for an imitation, it may flow like a stream from a fish-pond through the track which a torrent has marked out; but where is the power, the depth, the glory, the devastation of the giant,
Yet feeling may do much, and that too while it is still capa. ble of being governed and directed, but not unless it be very capable also of ceasing to be so, and even in some danger of it; and the man who has that feeling in any high degree, and who makes such an effort as the one in question with any thing like success, should have a mark set on him, and an injunction should always lie signed in chancery ready to come down at an instant's warning on his person and estate. All may be well while his safety valves work easily; but who shall calculate the effect of a scolding wife, adversity, loss of reputation, or a fog.
GIPSEYS OF GRANADA.
From an Unpublished Work,
[ BY THE AUTHOR OF “A YEAR IN SPAIN." ] CERVANTES begins his beautiful novel of the Gitanilla, in which he illustrates the pranks of the Gipseys, with the following not very flattering exordium: “It would seem that the Gitanos and Gitanas were solely born into the world to fill the station of thieves. They are brought up among thieves; they study the profession of thieves, and finally end by becoming thieves, the most current and thorough-paced on the face of the earth.” The history of our species furnishes no study more singular than that of this unaccountable race, which, emigrating from the east, overran the whole of Europe, and pushed its way onward, not by the force of the sword, but by begging and stealing; and at the same time that they conformed in some particulars of dress, manners, customs, and religion, to the countries in which they settled, in others retained every where a common character, common propensities, and common occupations.
The Gipseys are found in no part of Spain except Andalusia, which, in their soft and lisping Spanish, they call la tierra de Dios-la tierra de Maria Santisima—the land of God-the land of the most holy Virgin. They either live in the ruinous purlieus of the great cities, or else wander from place to place, the women carrying their children naked, slung from their shoulders, or dangling with one arm around them upon their hips. In Andalusia, as elsewhere, they gain their bread by tinkering, stealing, and fortune telling; and preserve the common tradition of an Egyptian descent. It is in Granada, however, that they most abound, just as the skippers are found in greatest numbers in the best cheese. They have their habitations in the caves of the Albaycin, where they practice little arts in lock and spoon making and basket work, their commodities having the common reputation of being worthless and catch-penny. To vend them, they take their stations in the Vivarambla, where they may always be seen seated at the shady side of the square, and never shifting their births until dislodged by the sun. Their chief revenue, however, arises from shaving their favorite water dogs, of which there is one in almost every family; and I have often been amused at seeing the four paws of one of these animals, as he impatiently sub