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HORÆ GERMANICÆ. NO. II.
Faust's curse-it will perhaps be recollected we left him uttering one—was an effusion which we might suppose had been dictated by the very breath of his companion, with the very sulphur of whose lungs it seems to be reeking, and resonant with the voice of the old Adam in his heart, an echo and a token to tell him the dispositions of the speaker are all he could desire. So we may reason-but so he reasons not-he is an indefatigable spirit who still thinks nothing done while aught remains to do. The vices and bad passions of solitude have indeed arrived at their lowest depths; but the world bath lower depths, and he must now plunge his victim into these. He loves, after his fashion of loving, a hermit much, but dissipation more; dissipation, that expressive word, that most pernicious thing, that compendium of all the ways by which a human being can possibly go to—Mephistopheles.
Dissipation! it is the consuming fire, which the fruits of genius, the results of thought and study, and the offspring of early hope and promise, have all passed through to Moloch; it is the category and definition which includes all that is not singleness of purpose, consistency, and perseverance; it is the sieve which we exhaust the springs of our youth to fill, and it divides their precious waters in a thousand streams, and wastes them irretrievably. Through all its varied forms and names it may be traced by its effects; sometimes it is loud and riotous and, so, speedily destructive; sometimes it is gay only, and wide outspread in a great round of unmeaning courtesies and vapid amusements; sometimes with a business-like or studious air, it is full of projects, longings sublime and aspirations high, and the beginnings of ten thousand things that end where they begin; but it is forever the same voracious quicksand swallowing up his life who has no fixed pursuit, who allows himself to mistake the meteor fires that cross his pathway, each in their turn, for pole stars.
În social or in solitary life, in all conditions and pursuits, religious or profane, we walk in this hourly danger; of frittering away our time on many objects, and failing of success in all ; for this temptation is a wind the devil blows with
al, and the energies of the mind are scattered. De profundis clamavi, I have cried out of its depths, with a voice of warning, a cry from its loud and hollow gulphs to those that shall come after: but they would not believe the warning, though one came to deliver it from the dead. To them the vortex is attractive, but not to Faust; he has been engaged in high pursuits; he has closed with the giants of mortal sense and intellect, wrestled with them, vanquished them, and proved them shadows, and shall he now be amused with a chase of butterflies? He listens scornfully to the proposal and assents to it recklessly; he has no faith in the results, but.then he has no fear, nor care for its consequences. The following is an attempt to translate this dialogue from the point where we left off, where a chorus of invisible spirits breaks in with a sort of reply and expostulatory comment to Faust's anathema.
Thou hast destroy'd it-
With joy shall invest.
Are of mine, and their tones
That vulture-like thy lifo devours ;
Some human thoughts and joyous hours.
With vulgar herds a soul like thine,
No lofty rank or name is mine,
And presently engage to do
Thy instrument and bondsman be.
And not so very prompt from pure good will,
With such a servant danger comes no doubt.
To know no pause nor rest in serving thee;
Why thou in turn shalt do the same for me.
If this world once in fragments fly,
A new perchance the void may fill;
May even bring what chance it will.
If men hereafter hate or love;
A part below and part above.
Accept my terms, and even to-day
For things unseen till now by mortal eye.
Was the brigh scope of an aspiring heart,
By such a spirit e'er embraced ?
Will wink to catch our neighbor's eye?
Like transient meteors shine and fly ?
And trees whose leaves each morning must renew. Meph. Reproaches such as these affect me not.
That I have gifts like these to give, is true;
Which we with joy and soft repose may crown
May my existence on the instant end.
I do not hate myself, or cast
Of pleasure, be the next my last.
These are my terms. Meph.
'Tis done and fast. When I to any instant say
Nay, fleet not thus, thou art so bright,
Then let thy chains assert their prey,
And swift perdition claim her right.
From thy obedience then be free;
And time forever cease for me.
But I am firm, your doubts dismiss,
Since slavery is at last my lot,
I caro not who my master is.
To which my powers and talents I must bring
Only, since life is an uncertain thing,
Two lines in writing I'll be bold to ask.
Unused with honest men to have to do,
Shall bind my soul like a recorded vow;
That forms of promise should appal me now.
So unresolv'd, enslav'd, our feeble minds.
And late repentance no admission finds ;
Its rank with bugbears and portentous signs.
I'll write, to me 'tis all the same.
Shoots far beyond its mark and aim-
Just sign it with a drop of blood.
So pray play out your silly game. Meph. 'Tis a strange juice this ink of ours. Faust. Well, fear not but I hold my vow.
The earnest aim of all my powers,
Is that which I have promis'd now.
To loftier rank than thine to rise-
And nature's secrets mock my eyes.
The very inmost depths of feeling,
From mystery's secret veil revealing,
Meph. No bounds nor limits you shall have,
But sip and nibble where you will,
Give each caprice in turn its fill,
Only, set to at once, I want employment-
I ask for agitation, I would know
Where every passion is a welcome guest,
I would embrace within my single breast.
His joys concentrate, all his anguish bear,
And wreck'd at last, his endless ruin share.
I've fed to fulness on these fruits unblest.
This ancient leaven ever can digest.
Was this great universe design'd-
But we in darkness are contined,
Senseless of day and night and blind. It is worthy of remark, that the character of Mephistopheles is in general represented as absolutely passionless, and this exclamation, “oh trust to me,” &c. is the only instance in which he shows any thing like pathos or gentle feeling. This was the moment, perhaps, when goodness might have taken the evil one at advantage—might have breathed with a warm and kindly breath on his frozen sympathies, and favored the incipient thaw, by whispering in his ear those well known words of Nature's sweetest spokesman.
Old Nickie Ben
Still hae a stake.
Even for your sake. These ideas may be erroneous, but it is not amiss to indulge them, for with such grains of allowance should evil always be represented, and we ought not to admit into our minds even its abstract idea undiluted. Satan, in his own right, may be entitled to no indulgence; but for humanity's sake we ought to show him some; and if we must paint him, we should as much as possible flatter the resemblance. Southey's painter in this respect was decidedly wrong, who set him off for the multitude,
With his teeth and his grin, with his fangs and his scale,
Till he had the old wicked one quite.