Scarcely a month had elapsed after the storming of Dalem, when a
terrible rumour went forth in the camp of Bouge, (where Don John had
intrenched his division of the royalist army,) that the governor of
the Netherlands was attacked by fatal indisposition! - For some weeks
past, indeed, his strength and spirit had been declining. When at the
village of Rymenam on the Dyle, near Mechlin, (not far from the ferry
of the wood,) he suffered himself to be surprised by the English
troops under Horn, and the Scotch under Robert Stuart, the unusual
circumstance of the defeat of so able a general was universally
attributed to prostration of bodily strength.
When it was soon afterwards intimated to the army that he had ceded
the command to his nephew, Prince Alexander Farnese, regret for the
origin of his secession superseded every other consideration.
For the word had gone forth that he was to die! - In the full vigour
of his manhood and energy of his soul, a fatal blow had reached Don
John of Austria! -
A vague but horrible accusation of poison was generally
prevalent! - For his leniency towards the Protestants had engendered a
suspicion of heresy, and the orthodoxy of Philip II. was known to be
remorseless; and the agency of Ottavio Gonzaga at hand! -
But the kinsman who loved and attended him knew better. From the
moment Prince Alexander beheld the ring of Ulrica glittering on his
wasted hand, he entertained no hope of his recovery; and every time
he issued from the tent of Don John, and noted the groups of veterans
praying on their knees for the restoration of the son of their
emperor, and heard the younger soldiers calling aloud in loyal
affection upon the name of the hero of Lepanto, tears came into his
eyes as he passed on to the discharge of his duties. For he knew that
their intercessions were in vain - that the hours of the sufferer were
numbered. In a moment of respite from his sufferings, the sacraments
of the church were administered to the dying prince; having received
which with becoming humility, he summoned around him the captains of
the camp, and exhorted them to zeal in the service of Spain, and
fidelity to his noble successor in command.
It was the 1st of October, the anniversary of the action of Lepanto,
and on a glorious autumnal day of golden sunshine, that, towards
evening, he ordered the curtains of his tent to be drawn aside, that
he might contemplate for the last time the creation of God! -
Raising his head proudly from a soldier's pillow, he uttered in
hoarse but distinct accents his last request, that his body might be
borne to Spain, and buried at the feet of his father. For his eyes
were fixed upon the glories of the orb of day, and his mind upon the
glories of the memory of one of the greatest of kings.
But that pious wish reflected the last flash of human reason in his
troubled mind. His eyes became suddenly inflamed with fever, his
words incoherent, his looks haggard. Having caused them to sound the
trumpets at the entrance of his tent, as for an onset, he ranged his
battalions for an imaginary field of battle, and disposed his
manoeuvres, and gave the word to charge against the enemy. Then,
sinking back upon his pillow, he breathed in subdued accents, "Let me
at least avenge her innocent blood. Why, why could I not save thee,
my Ulrica!" -
[Footnote 18: The foregoing details are strictly historical.]
It was thus he died. When Nignio de Zuniga (cursing in his heart with
a fourfold curse the heretics whom he chose to consider the murderers
of his master) stooped down to lay his callous hand on the heart of
the hero, the pulses of life were still! -
There was but one cry throughout the camp - there was but one thought
among his captains: - "Let the bravest knight of Christendom be laid
nobly in the grave!" Attired in the suit of mail in which he had
fought at Lepanto, the body was placed on a bier, and borne forth
from his tent on the shoulders of the officers of his household.
Then, having been saluted by the respect of the whole army, it was
transmitted from post to post through the camp, on those of the
colonels of the regiments of all nations constituting the forces of
Spain. - And which of them was to surmise, that upon the heart of the
dead lay the love-token of a heretic? - A double line of troops,
infantry and cavalry in alternation, formed a road of honour from the
camp of Bouge to the gates of the city of Namur. And when the people
saw, borne upon his bier amid the deferential silence of those iron
soldiers, bareheaded and with their looks towards the earth, the
gallant soldier so untimely stricken, arrayed in his armour of glory
and with a crown upon his head, after the manner of the princes of
Burgundy, and on his finger the ruby ring of the Doge of Venice, they
thought upon his knightly qualities - his courtesy, generosity, and
valour - till all memory of his illustrious parentage became effaced.
They forgot the prince in the man, - "and behold all Israel mourned
A regiment of infantry, trailing their halberts, led the march, till
they reached Namur, where the precious deposit was remitted by the
royalist generals, Mansfeldt, Villefranche, and La Cros, to the hands
of the chief magistrates of Namur. By these it was bourne in state to
the cathedral of St Alban; and during the celebration of a solemn
mass, deposited at the foot of the high altar till the pleasure of
Philip II. should be known concerning the fulfilment of the last
request of Don John.
It was by Ottavio Gonzaga the tidings of his death were conveyed to
Spain. It was by Ottavio Gonzaga the king intimated, in return, his
permission that the conqueror of Lepanto should share the sepulture
of Charles V., and all that now remains to Namur in memory of one of
the last of Christian knights, the Maccabeus of the Turkish hosts,
who expired in its service and at its gates, is an inscription placed
on its high altar by the piety of Alexander Farnese, intimating that
it afforded a temporary resting place to the remains of DON JOHN of
[Footnote 19: Thus far the courtesies of fiction. But for those who
prefer historical fact, it may be interesting to learn the authentic
details of the interment of one whose posthumous destinies seemed to
share the incompleteness of his baffled life. In order to avoid the
contestations arising from the transit of a corpse through a foreign
state, Nignio di Zuniga (who was charged by Philip with the duty of
conveying it to Spain, under sanction of a passport from Henri III.)
caused it to be _dismembered_, and the parts packed in three budgets,
(_bougettes_,) and laid upon packhorses! - On arriving in Spain, the
parts were _readjusted with wires! - "On remplit le corps de bourre_,"
says the old chronicler from which these details are derived, "_et
ainsi la structure en aiant été comme rétablie, on le revétit de ses
armes, et le fit voir au roi, tout debout apuyé sur son bâton de
général, de sorte qu'il semblait encore vivant. L'aspect d'un mort si
illustre ayant excité quelques larmes, on le porta à l'Escurial dans
l'Eglise de St Laurens auprez de son père_."
Such is the account given in a curious old history (supplementary to
those of D'Avila and Strada) of the wars of the Prince of Parma,
published at Amsterdam early in the succeeding century. But a still
greater insult has been offered to the memory of one of the last of
Christian knights, in Casimir Delavigne's fine play of "Don Juan
d'Autriche," where he is represented as affianced to a Jewess!]
POEMS AND BALLADS OF GOETHE.
It may be as well to state at the outset, that we have not the most
distant intention of laying before the public the whole mass of
poetry that flowed from the prolific pen of Goethe, betwixt the days
of his student life at Leipsic and those of his final courtly
residence at Weimar. It is of no use preserving the whole wardrobe of
the dead; we do enough if we possess ourselves of his
valuables - articles of sterling bullion that will at any time command
their price in the market - as to worn-out and threadbare
personalities, the sooner they are got rid of the better. Far be it
from us, however, to depreciate or detract from the merit of any of
Goethe's productions. Few men have written so voluminously, and still
fewer have written so well. But the curse of a most fluent pen, and
of a numerous auditory, to whom his words were oracles, was upon him;
and seventy volumes, more or less, which Cotta issued from his
wareroom, are for the library of the Germans now, and for the
selection of judicious editors hereafter. A long time must elapse
after an author's death, before we can pronounce with perfect
certainty what belongs to the trunk-maker, and what pertains to
posterity. Happy the man - if not in his own generation, yet most
assuredly in the time to come - whose natural hesitation or
fastidiousness has prompted him to weigh his words maturely, before
launching them forth into the great ocean of literature, in the midst
of which is a Maelstrom of tenfold absorbing power!
From the minor poems, therefore, of Goethe, we propose, in the
present series, to select such as are most esteemed by competent
judges, including, of course, ourselves. We shall not follow the
example of dear old Eckermann, nor preface our specimens by any
critical remarks upon the scope and tendency of the great German's
genius; neither shall we divide his works, as characteristic of his
intellectual progress, into eras or into epochs; still less shall we
attempt to institute a regular comparison between his merits and
those of Schiller, whose finest productions (most worthily
translated) have already enriched the pages of this Magazine. We are
doubtless ready at all times to back our favourite against the field,
and to maintain his intellectual superiority even against his
greatest and most formidable rival. We know that he is the showiest,
and we feel convinced that he is the better horse of the two; but
talking is worse than useless when the course is cleared, and the
start about to commence.
Come forward, then, before the British public, O many-sided,
ambidextrous Goethe, as thine own Thomas Carlyle might, or could, or
would, or should have termed thee, and let us hear how the
mellifluous Teutonic verse will sound when adapted to another tongue.
And, first of all - for we yearn to know it - tell us how thy
inspiration came? A plain answer, of course, we cannot expect - that
were impossible from a German; but such explanation as we can draw
from metaphor and oracular response, seems to be conveyed in that
favourite and elaborate preface to the poems, which accordingly we
may term the
The morning came. Its footsteps scared away
The gentle sleep that hover'd lightly o'er me;
I left my quiet cot to greet the day
And gaily climb'd the mountain-side before me.
The sweet young flowers! how fresh were they and tender,
Brimful with dew upon the sparkling lea;
The young day open'd in exulting splendour,
And all around seem'd glad to gladden me.
And, as I mounted, o'er the meadow ground
A white and filmy essence 'gan to hover;
It sail'd and shifted till it hemm'd me round,
Then rose above my head, and floated over.
No more I saw the beauteous scene unfolded -
It lay beneath a melancholy shroud;
And soon was I, as if in vapour moulded,
Alone, within the twilight of the cloud.
At once, as though the sun were struggling through,
Within the mist a sudden radiance started;
Here sunk the vapour, but to rise anew,
There on the peak and upland forest parted.
O, how I panted for the first clear gleaming,
That after darkness must be doubly bright!
It came not, but a glory round me beaming,
And I stood blinded by the gush of light.
A moment, and I felt enforced to look,
By some strange impulse of the heart's emotion;
But more than one quick glance I scarce could brook,
For all was burning like a molten ocean.
There, in the glorious clouds that seem'd to bear her,
A form angelic hover'd in the air;
Ne'er did my eyes behold vision fairer,
And still she gazed upon me, floating there.
"Do'st thou not know me?" and her voice was soft
As truthful love, and holy calm it sounded.
"Know'st thou not me, who many a time and oft,
Pour'd balsam in thy hurts when sorest wounded?
Ah well thou knowest her, to whom for ever
Thy heart in union pants to be allied!
Have I not seen the tears - the wild endeavour
That even in boyhood brought thee to my side?"
"Yes! I have felt thy influence oft," I cried,
And sank on earth before her, half-adoring;
"Thou brought'st me rest when Passion's lava tide
Through my young veins like liquid fire was pouring.
And thou hast fann'd, as with celestial pinions,
In summer's heat my parch'd and fever'd brow;
Gav'st me the choicest gifts of earth's dominions,
And, save through thee, I seek no fortune now.
"I name thee not, but I have heard thee named,
And heard thee styled their own ere now by many;
All eyes believe at thee their glance is aim'd,
Though thine effulgence is too great for any.
Ah! I had many comrades whilst I wander'd -
I know thee now, and stand almost alone:
I veil thy light, too precious to be squander'd,
And share the inward joy I feel with none."
Smiling, she said - "Thou see'st 'twas wise from thee
To keep the fuller, greater revelation:
Scarce art thou from grotesque delusions free,
Scarce master of thy childish first sensation;
Yet deem'st thyself so far above thy brothers,
That thou hast won the right to scorn them! Cease.
Who made the yawning gulf 'twixt thee and others?
Know - know thyself - live with the world in peace."
"Forgive me!" I exclaim'd, "I meant no ill,
Else should in vain my eyes be disenchanted;
Within my blood there stirs a genial will -
I know the worth of all that thou hast granted.
That boon I hold in trust for others merely,
Nor shall I let it rust within the ground;
Why sought I out the pathway so sincerely,
If not to guide my brothers to the bound?"
And as I spoke, upon her radiant face
Pass'd a sweet smile, like breath across a mirror;
And in her eyes' bright meaning I could trace
What I had answer'd well and what in error,
She smiled, and then my heart regain'd its lightness,
And bounded in my breast with rapture high:
Then durst I pass within her zone of brightness,
And gaze upon her with unquailing eye.
Straightway she stretch'd her hand among the thin
And watery haze that round her presence hover'd;
Slowly it coil'd and shrunk her grasp within,
And lo! the landscape lay once more uncover'd -
Again mine eye could scan the sparkling meadow,
I look'd to heaven, and all was clear and bright;
I saw her hold a veil without a shadow,
That undulated round her in the light.
"I know thee! - all thy weakness, all that yet
Of good within thee lives and glows, I've measured;"
She said - her voice I never may forget -
"Accept the gift that long for thee was treasured.
Oh! happy he, thrice-bless'd in earth and heaven,
Who takes this gift with soul serene and true,
The veil of song, by Truth's own fingers given,
Enwoven of sunshine and the morning dew.
"Wave but this veil on high, whene'er beneath
The noonday fervour thou and thine are glowing,
And fragrance of all flowers around shall breathe,
And the cool winds of eve come freshly blowing.
Earth's cares shall cease for thee, and all its riot;
Where gloom'd the grave, a starry couch be seen;
The waves of life shall sink in halcyon quiet;
The days be lovely fair, the nights serene."
Come then, my friends, and whether 'neath the load
Of heavy griefs ye struggle on, or whether
Your better destiny shall strew the road
With flowers, and golden fruits that cannot wither,
United let us move, still forwards striving;
So while we live shall joy our days illume,
And in our children's hearts our love surviving
Shall gladden them, when we are in the tomb.
This is a noble metaphysical and metaphorical poem, but purely German
of its kind. It has been imitated, not to say travestied, at least
fifty times, by crazy students and purblind professors - each of whom,
in turn, has had an interview with the goddess of nature upon a
hill-side. For our own part, we confess that we have no great
predilection for such mysterious intercourse, and would rather draw
our inspiration from tangible objects, than dally with a visionary
Egeria. But the fault is both common and national.
* * * * *
The next specimen we shall offer is the far-famed _Bride of Corinth_.
Mrs Austin says of this poem very happily - "An awful and undefined
horror breathes throughout it. In the slow measured rhythm of the
verse, and the pathetic simplicity of the diction, there is a
solemnity and a stirring spell, which chains the feelings like a deep
mysterious strain of music." Owing to the peculiar structure and
difficulty of the verse, this poem has hitherto been supposed
incapable of translation. Dr Anster, who alone has rendered it into
English, found it necessary to depart from the original structure;
and we confess that it was not without much labour, and after
repeated efforts, that we succeeded in vanquishing the obstacle of
the double rhymes. If the German scholar should perceive, that in
three stanzas some slight liberties have been taken with the
original, we trust that he will perceive the reason, and at least
give us credit for general fidelity and close adherence to the text.
THE BRIDE OF CORINTH.
A youth to Corinth, whilst the city slumber'd,
Came from Athens: though a stranger there,
Soon among its townsmen to be number'd,
For a bride awaits him, young and fair:
From their childhood's years
They were plighted feres,
So contracted by their parents' care.
But may not his welcome there be hinder'd?
Dearly must he buy it, would he speed.
He is still a heathen with his kindred,
She and her's wash'd in the Christian creed.
When new faiths are born,
Love and troth are torn
Rudely from the heart, howe'er it bleed.
All the house is hush'd. To rest retreated
Father, daughters - not the mother quite;
She the guest with cordial welcome greeted,
Led him to a room with tapers bright;
Wine and food she brought
Ere of them he thought,
Then departed with a fair good-night.
But he felt no hunger, and unheeded
Left the wine, and eager for the rest
Which his limbs, forspent with travel, needed,
On the couch he laid him, still undress'd.
There he sleeps - when lo!
Onwards gliding slow,
At the door appears a wondrous guest.
By the waning lamp's uncertain gleaming
There he sees a youthful maiden stand,
Robed in white, of still and gentle seeming,
On her brow a black and golden band.
When she meets his eyes,
With a quick surprise
Starting, she uplifts a pallid hand.
"Is a stranger here, and nothing told me?
Am I then forgotten even in name?
Ah! 'tis thus within my cell they hold me,
And I now am cover'd o'er with shame!
Pillow still thy head
There upon thy bed,
I will leave thee quickly as I came."
"Maiden - darling! Stay, O stay!" and, leaping
From the couch, before her stands the boy:
"Ceres - Bacchus, here their gifts are heaping,
And thou bringest Amor's gentle joy!
Why with terror pale?
Sweet one, let us hail
These bright gods - their festive gifts employ."
"Oh, no - no! Young stranger, come not nigh me;
Joy is not for me, nor festive cheer.
Ah! such bliss may ne'er be tasted by me,
Since my mother, in fantastic fear,
By long sickness bow'd,
To heaven's service vow'd
Me, and all the hopes that warm'd me here.
"They have left our hearth, and left it lonely -
The old gods, that bright and jocund train.
One, unseen, in heaven, is worshipp'd only,
And upon the cross a Saviour slain;
Sacrifice is here,
Not of lamb nor steer,
But of human woe and human pain."
And he asks, and all her words cloth ponder -
"Can it be, that, in this silent spot,
I behold thee, thou surpassing wonder!
My sweet bride, so strangely to me brought?
Be mine only now -
See, our parents' vow
Heaven's good blessing hath for us besought."
"No! thou gentle heart," she cried in anguish;
"'Tis not mine, but 'tis my sister's place;
When in lonely cell I weep and languish,
Think, oh think of me in her embrace!
I think but of thee -
Soon beneath the earth to hide my face!"
"Nay! I swear by yonder flame which burneth,
Fann'd by Hymen, lost thou shalt not be;
Droop not thus, for my sweet bride returneth
To my father's mansion back with me!
Dearest! tarry here!
Taste the bridal cheer,
For our spousal spread so wondrously!"
Then with word and sign their troth they plighted.
Golden was the chain she bade him wear;
But the cup he offer'd her she slighted,
Silver, wrought with cunning past compare.
"That is not for me;
All I ask of thee
Is one little ringlet of thy hair."
Dully boom'd the midnight hour unhallow'd,
And then first her eyes began to shine;
Eagerly with pallid lips she swallow'd
Hasty draughts of purple-tinctured wine;
But the wheaten bread,
As in shuddering dread,
Put she always by with loathing sign.
And she gave the youth the cup: he drain'd it,
With impetuous haste he drain'd it dry;
Love was in his fever'd heart, and pain'd it,
Till it ached for joys she must deny.
But the maiden's fears
Stay'd him, till in tears
On the bed he sank, with sobbing cry.
And she leans above him - "Dear one, still thee!
Ah, how sad am I to see thee so!
But, alas! these limbs of mine would chill thee:
Love, they mantle not with passion's glow;
Thou wouldst be afraid,
Didst thou find the maid
Thou hast chosen, cold as ice or snow."
Round her waist his eager arms he bended,
Dashing from his eyes the blinding tear:
"Wert thou even from the grave ascended,
Come unto my heart, and warm thee here!"
Sweet the long embrace -
"Raise that pallid face;
None but thou and are watching, dear!"
Was it love that brought the maiden thither,
To the chamber of the stranger guest?
Love's bright fire should kindle, and not wither;
Love's sweet thrill should soothe, not torture, rest.
His impassion'd mood
Warms her torpid blood,
Yet there beats no heart within her breast.
Meanwhile goes the mother, softly creeping,
Through the house, on needful cares intent,
Hears a murmur, and, while all are sleeping,
Wonders at the sounds, and what they meant.
Who was whispering so? -
Voices soft and low,
In mysterious converse strangely blent.
Straightway by the door herself she stations,
There to be assured what was amiss;
And she hears love's fiery protestations,
Words of ardour and endearing bliss:
"Hark, the cock! 'Tis light!
But to-morrow night
Thou wilt come again?" - and kiss on kiss.
Quick the latch she raises, and, with features
Anger-flush'd, into the chamber hies.
"Are there in my house such shameless creatures,
Minions to the stranger's will?" she cries.
By the dying light,
Who is't meets her sight?
God! 'tis her own daughter she espies!
And the youth in terror sought to cover,
With her own light veil, the maiden's head,
Clasp'd her close; but, gliding from her lover,
Back the vestment from her brow she spread,
And her form upright,
As with ghostly might,
Long and slowly rises from the bed.
"Mother! mother! wherefore thus deprive me
Of such joy as I this night have known?
Wherefore from these warm embraces drive me?
Was I waken'd up to meet thy frown?