Page images


In every garb, I must endure, alas,
Earth's cabined life of misery!
Too old in play my days to pass,
Too young, without a wish to be!
What from the World could I obtain ?
"Abstain thou must-Thou must abstain,"

Is still the stale, unvaried song,
That in our ears for ever rings!
And this thro'out our whole life long,
Hoarser and hoarser, every minute sings!
Each Morning, I awake, in fear,
And fain my bitterest tears would run,
To see the Day, whose dull career
Shall gratify no wish-not one!
While each presentiment of joy
It shall, with captiousness, alloy !
The full creations of my glowing breast
A thousand wordly trifles shall molest!
Again, at the return of Night,

When I my weary couch have prest,
What horrid dreams my slumbers fright,
Whilst I, in vain, must sigh for rest!
The God, that dwells within my soul,
My inward Man may toss about,
And all its energies controul,

But hath no power o'er aught without!
On me Existence hangs, a loathsome weight;
I long for death, and life I hate !

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Accurst the cheat of outward show,
That tramples down our feelings so!
Curst be whate'er our dreams beguiles!
Accurst the ignis-fatuus of Fame!

Accurst be that, which, like possession, smiles!
So wife, and child, the serf, and plough we name.
Accurst be Mammon, when his treasures

To virtuous deeds our soul excite;
Accurst, when he, for slothful pleasures,
Labours to smooth our pillow right!

Accurst the balsam by the wine-grape nurst!
Accurst the extacy, which Love we call!
Accurst be Hope! Be Faith accurst!
And curst be Patience, most of all!

[blocks in formation]

As we ought!

Thou mightiest of the Sons of Men!

In nobler fashion, build it up again!

Let thy own bosom it renew!

With purer thoughts, a new career pursue ;

And then, new Heavenly strains

Shall well requite thy pains!


These are youngsters of my choir.

Hark, how, with sense beyond their age,

They now impart a counsel sage,

When love of action they inspire,

And would allure your soul to bliss!

Away, into the World, from this,

This weary Solitude, so dread,

Where life's sap stagnates, and each pulse lies dead!

Oh, cease to trifle with thy misery,

That, like a vulture, preys upon thy heart!

For, even in the homeliest company,

Thou may'st feel conscious that a man thou art;

Not that I would pretend, of course,

You, Sir, among the Mob to force.

'Tis true, I am no Magnate of the Land;

But if you 'll let me take you by the hand,
Content to tread Life's maze with me,

My services you may command-
Sir, from this hour, in me you see
A friend, companion, nay, your slave,
If, to your liking I behave.


What, for thy service, must I pay?


For that I'll give you a long day.

No, no


o-that would not answer quite : The Devil was e'er a selfish wight.

That he should serve a man were odd,

Without a fee, just for the love of God!

Speak your terms plainly out; since, in one's house, Faith, such a lackey might prove dangerous.


To serve you here, Sir, I myself will bind,
Still, without slumbering, at your beck to be,
If, when on t'other side ourselves we find,
You will consent to do as much for me.


That other side I little prize

If you this World have power to crush,
Another, from its wreck, may rise.
From this alone my transports gush;
And its Sun shines upon my woes :
Could I of these, at once, dispose,
What would and could might, then, succeed!
Further to hear I do not need-

I care not whether, in that other state,
There may be room for love and hate,
Or whether, in that distant Sphere,
There be a High and Low, as here.


In this mood, you the risk may dare.
First bind yourself, according to our law;
The wonders of my Art, then, freely share;
Wonders, which yet no Mortal ever saw.


And what, poor Devil! can'st thou bestow?
When was it given to one like thee, to scan
The mighty spirit of aspiring Man?

Oh, yes, of food, that sates not, thou dost know-
Slippery red gold thou can'st provide,

That, like quicksilver thro' the hand will glide-
A game, at which no mortal ever won-

A Maid, that, while within my arms she lies,
Leers at my neighbour with her wanton eyes-
Or bright-eyed Honour's Godlike glow,

That like a Meteor, flashes, and is gone !

Shew me your fruit that rots, ere one can chooseYour tree, that every day its green renews.


The task imposed affrights not me;

Those treasures I can give to thee.

Come, my good friend, the time is drawing nigh,
When we may feast on danties peacefully.


If e'er I rest me on a slothful bed,

Then let there be an end of me!

If e'er thy flattering lures, around me spread,
Can trap me into self-complacency;

[blocks in formation]


I, in the College Hall, this very day,
Shall, as your Servant, wait on you;
But, to make sure, I first must pray,

That you 'Il indulge me with a line or two.

Poor Margaret, the fiend's victim, draws an awe-inspiring portrait of Mephistopheles:


[blocks in formation]

I never see him enter here,
Without a cold, sarcastic leer,
Something so savage in his eyes!

One sees he can with nothing sympathise-
Upon his brow that's written legibly.

He ne'er could love a human soul, not he!
I feel so blest, when circled by thine arm,
In such abandonment, so free, so warm!

And then comes he and quite shrinks up my breast!


Thou evil-boding Angel.


So opprest

I feel whene'er he joins our company,
As I had even lost my love for thee!
Besides, when he is by, I cannot pray-
And this so eats into my heart! Oh, say,
My Henry, is it not the same with thee?

The great and apparent objections, on the whole, to Goethe's demon, are-the pettiness of his object, and the little trouble he has to effect it. It is scarcely necessary to raise the supernatural power of a hell to destroy the uncertain virtue of a dreamy, doubting scholar, and to seduce an innocent maiden, who, as the Zenaida dove does with its nest, artlessly lays her honour exposed and unprotected before the first unkind and unprincipled pilferer. Iago achieves the ruin of a victorious warrior at the very period of his power and glory; and Milton's Satan enters into a warlike contest with heavenly authority, and effects the fall of man. These are stirring subjects; while, after all, Goethe's Faust is at most a tale of simple seduction, likely enough to be done by human agency alone.

The last grand attempt at depicting the Fiend is that of Lord Byron in his "Cain," which, despite of its splendid verse, is far inferior to the other three poems. Lord Byron's Lucifer is certainly a mighty and magnificent demon; but, beyond troubling the mind of Cain, he seems to have no definite object, and his impious discourses are given apparently for the mere purpose of propounding profanity. Unlike Satan, lago, or Mephistopheles, a horror of him is not made to encircle the existence.

Of Lucifer, as drawn by Lord Byron, (says Heber,) we absolutely know no evil : and, on the contrary, the impression which we receive of him is, from his first introduction, most favourable. He is not only endued with all the beauty, the wisdom, and the unconquerable daring, which Milton has assigned him, and which may reasonably be supposed to belong to a spirit of so exalted a nature, but he is represented as unhappy without a crime, and as pittying our unhappiness. Even before he appears, we are prepared (so far as the poet has had skill to prepare us) to sympathise with any spiritual being who is opposed to the government of Jehovah. The conversations, the exhibitions which ensue, are all conducive to the same conclusion, that whatever is, is evil, and that, had the Devil been the Creator, he would have made his creatures happier. Above all, his arguments and insinuations are allowed to pass uncontradicted, or are answered only by overbearing force, and punishment inflicted, not on himself, but on his disciple. Nor is the intention less apparent, nor the poison less subtle because the language employed is not indecorous, and the accuser of the Almighty does not descend to ribaldry or scurrilous invective. That the monstrous creed thus inculcated is really the creed of Lord Byron himself, we certainly have some

« PreviousContinue »