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· mans have attained, and also of that sort of moral quality which they value as genius.
“ You are aware, that in our own language we possess, in the Doctor Faustus of Marlowe, a tragedy on the same subject,--and that Lord Byron's Manfred is partly also similar in conception, but more elegantly imagined than either. Vulgarly speaking, the story is that of an accomplished man selling himself to the devil,philosophically, it is but a dramatic version of such a character applying his attainments without any restraint of moral or religious principle. Of the three dramas, I prefer Byron's ; at the same time, I admit, that there are passages, in the Doctor Faustus, more impassioned, and passages also, even like his Lordship’s peculiar style, more effective than any thing in Manfred. The horror of Faustus towards the catastrophe transcends all exhibitions of despair, that dramatic genius has yet attempted; for, though the Promethean fortitude of Manfred belongs to the highest class of the sublime, it is still but a sustaining effort. It wants the vehemence necessary to make us sensible that the moral strength is really that stupendous energy which the poet has endeavoured to embody. The catastrophe of the Faust of Goethe, compared with either, is a failure. The interest depends not on the hero, but on the despair of a poor girl whom he had seduced, and he is carried away by the devil, without exciting one sentiment of horror for his fate. The general conception of the whole piece is also inferior to Marlowe’s tragedy, and not for a moment to be compared with the hinted horrors of the NOBLE poet's
of moral Michael."
, more e
of that were
and that of the Germans,—now I will proceed more
closely with the Faust. Vulgal pc ished matt
“ The general character of the play may be dee scribed, as formed on the plan of the old moralities
and mysteries. It opens with this song in heaven,
by the three archangels, Raphael, Gabriel, and amas, Is
. RAPHAEL. uit, that “The sun his ancient hymn of wonder
Is pouring out to kindred spheres, his Lones. And still pursues, with march of thunder, hing in L His preappointed course of years. Is the is
Thy visage gives thy angels power,
Though none its dazzling rays withstand,
* Revolves with uncomputed speed,
Darkness and light by turns succeed.
From deep primeval rocks below,
The rocks that stand, the waves that flow.
198 to a suste
From sea to land, from land to main ;
The trembling universe enchain.
The lightnings of the dread destroyer
Precede his thunders through the air ;
The servants of his wrath forbear.
Though none its dazzling rays withstand,
Creation's dazzling realms expand.” 66 Then follows a personal conference between the Almighty and Mephistopheles, alias the Devil, of which the idea is taken from the book of Job. Lord Francis has omitted to translate this scene, and, I doubt not, judiciously ; but I should remark to you a true touch of German taste in it. Mephistopheles receives permission to exercise his powers upon Faust, as of old upon Job, and in the end of the play he carries off Faust; thus the author hideously makes the Almighty consenting to the destruction of Faust for the gratification of the Devil. How much finer, and more elevated, and more poetical too, is the Hebrew idea, of making Job withstand . the temptation ! How much more awful the conception of Marlowe, in making Doctor Faustus surrender his spirit, so ennobled by knowledge, for mere sensual enjoyments ! But the glory of conceiving the splendidly-endowed Manfred, struggling with the condemnations of remorse, the sequel, if I may so speak, to the enjoyment obtained by the guilty compact, raises Byron, in this instance, as much above both Goethe and Marlowe as the lesson conveyed in Job excels them all. The subject, however, is not
exhausted. Job was tried but by afflictions, the temptations of St Anthony, in the hands of a truthpoet, would furnish a richer topic than either.
*** After the colloquy in heaven, the scene opens with Faust in his study: he has exhausted science and art; his curiosity is still hungry, and he is dabbling in magic. All this is very prettily conceived, but it is feebly expressed. A spirit in the end appears, for no purpose earthly. This is a dramatic error,-no character should be introduced in a play that is not required to the futherance of the plot. The spirit having vanished, Wagner, the secretary to Faust, comes in and interrupts his spell, and a very weak and prosing conversation ensues, intended to be satirical, but the shafts are clumsy and ineffec
tual. Wagner, too, is of little use in the piece,1 when he has retired, Faust, however, delivers him
self of a soliloquy, which possesses very considerable poetical merit. He is speaking of the interruption produced by Wagner, and of the spirit which had appeared.”
“ Strange that when reason totters hope is firm.
Each slight encouragement renews our toil,
I image of the Godhead, who but now
Almost had bask'd in truth's eternal sun,
For whom the reign of light had just begun,
“ Likeness to thee my clay may not inherit;
I felt so little, yet so great,
Plumb down to man's uncertain state.
What impulse I may best obey? Whether we suffer, or we do,
We clog existence on its way.
“ What though when fancy's daring wing was young,
“ I am not like the gods. Know that I must, Most like the worm, slow wallowing through the dust,