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of the forms which Goethe has imitated as innocently, if I may say so, as our own Wartons and Percies — if in our day there be dignitaries of antiquarian tastes, - might reprint the original poems. In the Adamo of Andreini — of which I regret that I have seen no more than the account drawn up by Hayley and Cowper – Cowper was not shocked by the impiety that scandalized Voltaire - I find in the list of characters, “ God the Father, Choruses of Cherubims and Seraphims, with Beelzebub and the rest.” The preface to this drama is preserved in Hayley's Life of Milton ; and so little did the poet think of such criticism as we have now-a-days to deal with, that after very strikingly pointing out the difficulties of his subject, which he regards himself as having overcome, he adds, in that happy piety which ascribes the origin and the fulfilment of every worthy purpose to the fountain of every good gift ; • Whence,” says the good man, “ I am inclined to believe that the favour of God, regarding rather my good intentions than my defects, (for as he often withdraws the heart of man from evil, so he conducts it insensibly to good,) gave direction to my hand, and completed my work. Wherefore to that alone I am indebted for the little
be found in the present labour; knowing, that as Omnipotence is accustomed to produce wonders from the rude and unformed chaos, so from the still ruder chaos of my mind, it may have called forth this production, if not for any other purpose, yet to be sacred, and to make as it were a mute speak in my person, in despite of poverty of genius; as on the other hand it is accustomed to strike mute the most eloquent tongues when they employ themselves on subjects low and profane."
I will suppose that I have so far engaged the sympathy of my reader, that he will listen to a few words relating to the translation itself.
I have, as far as I could, endeavoured to communicate the effect produced on my own mind and ear by the poem
which I have translated; how far I have been successful I am, perhaps, less able than the most careless of my readers to determine. I have, as far as I could, truly expressed the meaning of the original; where I have failed, it has either been from mistaking what the author intended, or from want of skill in the use of my own language. I have in no instance ventured to substitute any thing of my own for Goethe's, or to suppress what he has written. In so long a work, a phrase may be now and then varied, an accidental image supplied, a line added or omitted seldom for
other reason than as one of those artifices of style, of which every writer, whether in prose or verse, now and then avails himself, and which must be regarded as among the implied privileges of every person who has ever translated a sentence from one language into another.
To verbal fidelity I can, of course, make no claim; yet I have not wilfully deviated from it. I have not sought to represent my author's thoughts by equivalents as they are called; but if I may venture to describe what, after all, has been rather the result of accident than of
I should say that I have always given a pretty accurate translation of the very words, now and then expanding the thought by the addition of a clause which does little more than express something more fully implied in the German than in such English phrases as occurred to me. - In this way it is not unlikely that I may have sometimes been misled into exhibiting some things in fuller light than was my author's purpose – dwelling perhaps on some thought that a writer of more skill might present in fewer words. I can easily imagine too, that, not being familiar with the spoken language, I may have, in some instances, fallen into the mistake, which it would appear to me has deceived some of our discoverers in metaphysics, of looking for the thought rather in the etymology of the words which the author employs, than in the meaning which they have
acquired in their practical application : I may have fancied metaphors continuing to lurk, with a sort of sly meaning, in phrases originally metaphorical, but to which custom has affixed a certain application ; and the low familiarity of the language given to Mephistopheles is, of course, not unlikely to create mistakes of this sort. I am not aware of the ex. istence of such mistakes, yet I cannot but apprehend the possibility of them.
It has sometimes happened that I felt as puzzled as Goethe's German commentators; and I am not quite sure that I have not in such cases rather sought to express some thought lying at the root as it were of the entire discussion, than succeeded in expressing any thing which they-or rather any one of them, for they seldom agree — may tell us is Goethe's meaning. I have now and then, when they differed from each other, ventured to differ from all; and when I have seemed to myself to see the meaning lying before me on the surface, have hesitated to break it up for the purpose of digging into some supposed mine beneath.
The satire against the German critics and metaphysicians, which occurs in the Walpurgis Night, will be as intelligible here as in Germany. The boundaries of the human mind are every where the The same riddles have perplexed schoolman
and sophist,- have been the subject of satire alike to Aristophanes and Erasmus. The German metaphysicians defy satire; and the sentences which Goethe gives to his Idealist and Realist are an unexaggerated statement of their respective doctrines. The individuals whom he has glanced at, are not in all cases remembered even in Germany; and Goethe avoided answering questions on the subject.
The jokes themselves are of the same kind as Johnson's proof of man's free agency by walking across a room, of those practical jests of which Aristophanes is full, which prove or disprove nothing. In the Walpurgis Night, the author of “ The Joys of Werter" - a parody on the “ Sorrows"—is thus placed, criticising with a reviewer's seriousness the extravagance of the witch dances ; vehemently denying the power, nay the existence, of Spirits, while he seeks to regulate their movements, and is the only person who appears quite in earnest through the whole scene. The “Golden Bridal,” in the same way, gives some verses in which it is probable that Goethe was thinking of Fichte or Schelling; and others, which it would require a worthless acquaintance with the heroes of the German Dunciad, — if there be such a register of those whom Goethe and Schiller regarded as enemies,- to explain particularly. The humour sometimes consists in making the cant terms of the