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Scenes and Passages from the.“ Tasso” of Goethe. 5 sacrifice,-seems ever present to her soul, and speaks characteristically in these lines, with which she replies to a wish of Tasso's for the return of the golden age :
“ When earth has men to reverence female hearts,
To know the treasure of rich Truth and Love,
Then may we solemnize our golden age.' A character thus meditative, affectionate, and self-secluding, would naturally be peculiarly sensitive to the secret intimations of coming sorrow : forebodings of evil arise in her mind from the antipathy so apparent between Tasso and Antonio; and after learning that the cold, keen irony of the latter has irritated the poet almost to frenzy, she thus, to her friend Leonora de Sanvitale, reproaches herself for not having listened to the monitory whispers of her soul :
“ Alas! that we so slowly learn to heed
The secret signs and omens of the breast!
When he and Tasso met." She admits to her friend the necessity for his departure from Ferrara, but thus reverts, with fondly clinging remembrance, to the time when he first became known to her:
“ Oh! mark'd and singled was the hour when first
He met mine eye !-Sickness and grief just then
Lament it not,
Oh! precious things-
She then announces her determination to make the sacrifice of his society, in which alone her being seems to find its full completion,
“ Alas ! dear friend, my soul indeed is fix'd-
Our fairy bark of joy !"
“ Leonora. If the kind words of friendship cannot soothe,
Princess. Yes, beautiful it is! the glowing world!
by Nature moulded for our love,
Unconscious of its worth !" But the dark clouds are gathering within the spirit of Tasso itself, and the devotedness of affection would in vain avert their lightnings by the sacrifice of all its own pure enjoyments. In the solitary confinement to which the Duke has sentenced him as a punishment for his duel with Antonio, his jealous imagination, like that of the self-torturing Rousseau, pictures the whole world as arrayed in one conspiracy against him, and he doubts even of her truth and gentleness whose watching thoughts are all for his welfare.—The following passages affectingly mark the progress of the dark despondency which finally overwhelms him, though the concluding lines of the last are brightened by a ray of those immortal Scenes and Passages from the “ Tasso" of Goethe. 7 hopes, the light of which we could have desired to recognise more frequently in this deeply thoughtful work :
PRESENTIMENT OF HIS RUIN.
I must away!"
And yet in worth not less than I have been.
ON BEING ADVISED TO REFRAIN FROM COMPOSITION.
Which, night and day, comes rushing thro' my soul !
In a new realm of sunshine!” He is at last released, and admitted into the presence of the Princess Leonora, to take his leave of her before commencing a distant journey. Notwithstanding his previous doubts of her interest in him, he is overcome by the pitying tenderness of her manner, and breaks into a strain of passionate gratitude and enthusiasm :-
“ Thou art the same pure angel, as when first
Thy radiance cross'd my path. Forgive, forgive,
Can make me blest on earth!". The wildness of his ecstacy at last terrifies his gentle protectress from him; he is forsaken by all as a being lost in hopeless delusion, and being left alone to the insulting pity of Antonio, his strength of heart is utterly subdued; he passionately bewails his weakness, and even casts down his spirit almost in wondering admiration before the calm self
collectedness of his enemy, who himself seems at last almost melted by the extremity of the poet's desolation, as thus poured forth :
“ Can I then image no high-hearted man
Whose pangs and conflicts have surpass'd mine own,
Whereon he perishes !” And thus painfully ends this celebrated drama, the catastrophe being that of the spiritual wreck within, unmingled with the terrors drawn from outward circumstances and change. The majestic lines in which Byron has embodied the thoughts of the captive Tasso will form a fine contrast and relief to the music of despair with which Goethe's work is closed :
All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,
SKETCHES OF IRISH FOOLS.
BY T. C. GRATTAN, ESQ. IRELAND has the reputation of having produced a great number of shrewd fellows, and occasionally a knave or two. I can vouch for the quantity of fools to which it gives birth, or at least used to do in my boyish days, and the good old times before me. I do not mean those ninnies, who, believing well of human nature, trust to those whom they have served, and are deceived the more deeply in proportion to their confidence and kindness; nor yet those swaggering, rollicking, foolish fellows who get drunk and swear,
“ Who kiss the girls and coax them,
And spend their money free;"' and thus end by ruining themselves, as they had previously ruined others; but those lamentable abortions of intellect, by courtesy called “innocents” or “naturals,” but in plain speaking designated“ boru idiots," varying in degree, from the slavering baby, propped in a rushbottomed chair, to the aged and mind-palsied object, stretched on straw by the road-side, to disgust and pain the traveller-to fill his eyes and drain his pockets.
The extreme diversity of shades in Irish character is not more remarkable than the wild harmony with which they blend together. Almost every individual is made up of contradictions, or at least of cortrasts. The joy of an Irishman has always a dash of melancholy in it; and there is a rainbow even in his most clouded sky.
It is incontestable that Ireland is more fertile than any other country in what is generally called folly; folly in all its Proteus forms, but specially of that humiliating sort I have just alluded to. I am almost inclined to think that it is quite a matter of chance whether any given Irish infant turn out a wise or a foolish man. And in the majority of adults it is hard to say to which category they belong. They, almost without exception, seem to hover through life between the two attractions; and in nine cases out of ten a feather would turn the beam. It is this uncertainty which gives such a racy flavour to Irish humour, and such picturesqueness to Irish conduct. Other nations scarcely know how to estimate us. Our fools perpetually say the shrewdest things; our wise men constantly do the most foolish.
And is it then, really, I have often asked myself, that the quickness of intellect, which is admitted to distinguish the mass of my countrymen, is but a chance item in the balance sheet of the national character, and that, due allowances for shades of difference being made, and the proportions between sense and nonsense fairlystruck, it is even doubtful which ought to be held predominant? Is the boundary between intellect and idiotism so narrow ? Is it a mere accident of cerebral formation that makes one man an orator and another an “ innocent ?" Of what is “ Irish eloquence ” and “ Irish wit” compounded? And how are we to draw the line between them on one hand, and bombast and ribaldry on the other ? Does the reputation of our bold-voiced demagogues and spirit-stirring speakers in Parliament hang on the simple thread of a phrenological subdivision ? May Dryden's couplet
“ Great wit is sure to madness near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide"