Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

upon a stone*mice thrills through my brain! There sits my mother upon a stone, and shakes her head. She signs not, she beckons not ; her head is heavy. She has slept so long, she wakes no' more. Her sleep was once our joy-those were happy times..

Faust. Nor prayers nor reasoning avail with thee! Then must í force thee hence.

Marg. Let me go.-No; I will submit to no violence. Grasp me not with such force! I have done too much already as you would have me. .

Faust. Day dawns ! my love, my love! Marg. Day! Yes, it will soon be day, the last day! it will be the day of my wedding. Tell nobody that you have already been with Margaret. Alas for my garland! it is all over with it! We shall meet again, but not at the dance. The crowd gathers; the market-place, the streets, will not contain them! The bell calls, the signal is given ! How they bind and drag me! I am hurried to the scaffold ! *** The world is silent as the grave.***

Meph. (Appears without.) Up, or you are lost! Idle fear, delay, and chattering. My horses snort; the morning dawns.

Marg. What is it rises from the earth ? "Tis he! 'tis he! send him hence! What would be in the holy place ? He comes for me.

Faust. You must live.
Marg. Tribunal of God! I have yielded myself to thee.

Meph. (To Faustus.) Come, come, or I leave thee in the lurch with ber.

Marg. Father, I am thine ! save me! Ye angels, ye holy legions, encompass me about, to guard me. Henry, I fear for thee!

Meph. She is adjudged. Voices. (From above.) She is saved. Meph. (To Faustus.) Away with me." · The Demon vanishes with his companion, while the voice of Margaret is still heard crying out, from the bottom of the cell,“ Henry! Henry !” Here the piece ends; but it is easy to see that the author intends Margaret to be reconciled to Heaven by the agonies of a violent death, while her paramour escapes the hands of mortal justice, that he may perish in the soul eternally. : If we look at this extraordinary work as a whole, nothing can be said of it, but that it is a chaos, in which all the ele

* Madame de Staël is not very correct in her translation of this passage. The original is, “ Es fasst mich kalt beym Schopfe.” Schöpfe is from der Schopf, the top of the head, and not from die Schöpfe, the spring; were it noi so, the line would run, Es fasst mich kalt bei der Schöpfe. But, indeed, where she is not positively in error, she too often destroys the author's meaning by her attempts to beautify him, and make him a fit companion for the Parisian circles, Faustus is as completely masked in his French disguise as if he were tricked out for a masquerade, and none but his nearest friends can recognise bim.

ments of the sublime and beautiful are blended in utter confusion. That it is not slavishly tied down to the rules of Grecian, or English, or French drama, is a virtue rather than a fault; these are the conventional bonds that chance, or peculiar habits may have imposed; but there are a few general rules inherent in the very nature of poetic composition that cannot be violated with impunity ; between these, Goëthe seems to have made no distinction; he has abandoned himself, not to fancy, but to the delirium of fancy; he is by turns pathetic, satiric, and sublime, and yet the whole mass is so incongruous, that the mind is more bewildered than salisfied. Often, too, there is no visible connexion between the scenes, and the perpetual change of verse actually wears out the ear, though each metre is in itself of the purest and richest harmony; it is little better than straining the ears for the wild aspirations of the Æolian harp, that fatigue in proportion as they delight.

It is also to be imputed as a defect to Goethe, that there is too little repose in this poem ; the flames of hell seem to be constantly burning around, above and beneath us. The principle of evil is displayed in gigantic measure; but there is no redeeming beneficence, no cool shade for the weary fancy to repose itself.' The mind is literally scorched up by this perpetuity of hell; and yet with all these defects, and a hundred others, the perusal of this tragedy is an æra in the life of a literary man; for it is one of the very few original productions of human genius.

SPECIMEN OF MODERN CRITICISM.

GOOSEY GANDER. WHEN young authors commence giving their works to the public, they ought to take special care that they adhere strictly to the truth, for who is there so blind, but can perceive that in the present instance, this appellation is not meant for a descendant of the guardians of the Roman Capitol, but implies that a young giddy lad is substituted in its place. If we may venture to give our opinion on the similitude of expressions, it will be this; that “Goosey Gander" is not an appellation which may, when applied to a young man, be rendered inapplicable, for we recollect that something pretty similar is very common, viz. a Goose Cap! We will now proceed to take a critical survey of the poem. “ Whither will you wander ?" Now doubtless we are to understand by this, that he is of a roving wild disposition; and that the speaker (who must be some pains-taking shrewd old guardian,) is trying to check this passion for rambling. Now, we think, if this is really meant, would it not be much better to write it thus : “ Whither will you wander ?" Because the old gentleman must doubtless be tired of uselessly throwing away good advice on him, and therefore should peevishly say the line in question, after the manner we have described, “ Up stairs, down stairs." Nevertheless, he seems determined upon adhering to his first resolution, of not letting his ward free, and wickedly taunting him, says, will you please to go s« Up stairs, down stairs ?” “In my lady's chamber!” What a gross intimation; we would most willingly have omitted staining our pages with such a libel upon female virtue, but our situation requires us to take notice of it; “ in my lady's chamber!" What, because a young man is detained at home for the laudable purpose of keeping him from vice, does it follow, that be is forsooth to wander“ in my lady's chamber?” (for aught we know,) to romp about with its fair inhabitant herself? We willingly suggest to our unknown au. thor the propriety of altering this passage to“ in an empty chamber;" much more adapted for a young hair-brained youth! “Old father long legs will not say his prayers." No doubt this is some infidel; we shall only deign to notice him, by speaking of his punishment, “ Take him by the right leg," &c. • This poem is certainly of the descriptive kind. But it is our private opinion, that its parts do not sufficiently agree together; nevertheless, it would do for an epic, were it long enough to divide and sub-divide into Cantos and Stanzas. We think, notwithstanding, that it has merit sufficient, for at Jeast three editions! In the next one, we hope the author will favour us with his name, for talent ought (in our opi. nion) to shine forth in all its native dignity and deserved splendour!

COLLAPISSA INDIANS.

M. Bossu, an officer of distinction, who held a considerable command at New Orleans, in the middle of the last century,

relates the following striking instance of patriotism and heroism in his Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales.

“ The tragical death of an Indian of the Collapissa nation," says he, “ who sacrified himself for his country and son, I have often admired as displaying the greatest heroism, and placing human nature in the noblest point of view. A Chactaw Indian having one day expressed himself in the most reproachful terms of the French, and called the Collapissas their dogs and their slaves; one of this nation, exas perated at his injurious expressions, laid him dead on the spot. The Chactaws, the most numerous and the most warlike tribe on that continent, immediately flew to arms; they sent deputies to New Orleans to demand from the French governor the head of the savage who had fled to him for protection ; the governor offered presents as an atonement, but they were rejected with disdain, and they threatened to exterminate the whole tribe of the Collapissas. To pacify this fierce nation, and prevent the effusion of blood, it was at length found necessary to deliver up the unhappy Indian. The Sieur Ferrand, commander of the German posts on the right of the Mississippi, was charged with this melancholy commission; a rendezvous was in consequence appointed be. tween the settlement of the Colla pissa and the German posts, where the mournful ceremony was conducted in the following manner:

“ The Indian victim, whose name was Ticho Mingo (i. e. servant to the cacique or prince,) was produced. He rose up, and, agreeable to the custom of these people, harangued the assembly to the following purpose: I am a true man; that is to say, I fear not death; but I lament the fate of my wife and four infant children, whom I leave behind in a very tender age; I lament too my father and mother, whom I have long maintained by hunting; them, however, I recommend to the French, since, on their account, I now fall a sacrifice. .

" Scarce had he finished this short and pathetic harangue, when the old father, struck with the filial affection of the son, arose, and thus addressed himself to his audience ; 'My son is doomed to death; but he is young and vigorous, and more capable than me to support his mother, his wife, and four in'fant children; it is necessary then that he remain upon earth to protect and provide for them : as for me, who draw to

[ocr errors]

wards the end of my career, I have lived long enough; may my son attain to my age, that he may bring up his tender infants ! I am no longer good for any thing; a few years, more or less, are to me. of small moment: I have lived as a man, I will die as a man. I therefore take the place of my son. !

“At these words, which expressed his paternal love and greatness of soul in the most touching manner, his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law, and the little infants, melted into tears around this brave, this generous old man; he embraced them for the last time, exhorted them to be ever faithful to the French, and to die rather than betray them by any mean treachery unworthy of his blood. My death,' concluded he, : I consider as necessary for the safety of my nation, and I glory in the sacrifice. Having thus delivered himself, he presented his head to the kinsmen of the deceased Chactaw; they accepted it; he then extended himself over the trunk of a tree, when, with a hatchet, they severed his head from his body. ..“ By this sacrifice all animosities were forgotten; but one part of the ceremony remained still to be performed. The young Indian was obliged to deliver to the Chactaws the head of his father: in taking it up, he addressed to it these words ; « Pardon me your death, and remember me in the world of spirits.' The French, who assisted at this tragedy, could not restrain their tears, while they admired the heroic constancy of this venerable old man; whose resolution bore a resemblance to that of the celebrated Roman orator, who, in the time of the triumvirate, was concealed by his son. The young man was most cruelly tortured, in order to force him to discover his father, who not being able to endure the idea, that a son so virtuous and so generous should thus suffer on his account, went and presented himself to the murderers, and begged them to kill him, and save his son ; the son conjured them to take his life, and spare the age of his father ; but the soldiers, more barbarous than savages, butchered them both on the spot.”

[blocks in formation]

Crantz, in his “ Saxon History," tell us of an Earl of Alsatia, surnamed, on account of his great strength, Iron, who was a great favourite with Edward the Third of England,

« AnteriorContinuar »