Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II. - Goethe's Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther)
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ACT II. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe’s Works, vol. 2 (Faust 1 & 2, Egmont, Natural Daughter, Sorrows of Young Werther) 
Goethe’s Works, illustrated by the best German artists, 5 vols. (Philadelphia: G. Barrie, 1885). Vol. 2.
Part of: Goethe’s Works, 5 vols.
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Eugenie’sapartment in Gothic style.
Do I deserve that thou should’st flee me thus
The moment that I bring thee wish’d-for tidings?
Pray listen first to what I have to say.
The burden of thy importunity
Too well I ween. Oh, let my eyes from seeing
The well-known glances, let my ears from hearing
The well-known accents ever turn away.
Let me escape the devastating power
Which through the influence of love and friendship
Beside me like a gloomy spectre stands.
When I before thee suddenly would pour,
After long hope deferr’d, the golden horn
Of fortune, when the morning-glow begins
That marks the dawning of the blissful day
That shall unite our lives forevermore,
Then seemest thou embarrass’d and reluctant
To meet thy bridegroom’s tenderest advances.
Therein thou showest me one side alone:
It glows and glistens like the world in sunshine.
But black night’s horror threatens nigh: I feel it.
Then let us first see but the lovely side.
Desirest thou a dwelling in the city,
Spacious and handsome, furnish’d splendidly,
Such as one wishes for himself, for guests?
’Tis waiting for thee: when next winter comes
’Twill find thee settl’d nobly, if thou wilt.
In Springtime dost thou yearn to see the country,
There too a house is ours, a lovely garden,
A fertile field. And all the keen enjoyment
In forest, moors, in meadows, brooks and ponds
That fancy e’en in visions might imagine
Shall we possess, in part our own estate,
In part as common property. And thus,
Since nothing goes for rent, by careful saving
We shall be able to secure our future.
The picture that thou paintest with such hues
Before my eyes is wrapp’d in gloomy clouds.
For not desirable but hideous seems
The abundance offer’d by the worldly gods.
What is the sacrifice they ask? To ruin
My gentle pupil’s happiness and fortune!
And whatsoe’er a crime like that might bring me,
Could I enjoy it with a quiet mind?
Eugenie! thou whose pure and gentle nature
From earliest youth entrusted to my guidance
With rich fruition has develop’d nobly.
How can I now distinguish in thee what
Is thine and what thou hast to thank me for?
Thee whom I love as my own handiwork
Must I then pluck out from my heart and ruin?
Of what base stuff are ye compos’d, ye monsters,
To dare demand a deed like this for lucre!
A good and honest heart preserves from youth
A store of precious treasures which in time
More costly grow and worthier of our love
To serve withal the Godhead of the temple.
Yet, when the mighty power that governs us
Demands a costly sacrifice, we yield it
At last although our hearts bleed at the duty.
Two worlds there be, my darling, which, conflicting
With awful violence, crush us between them.
Thy steps appear to wander in a world
To me entirely foreign, since thou schemest
A treacherous stroke against thy noble patron,
The Duke, preparing days of sorrow for him
By holding to his son. If the Almighty
Appears at times to give assent to crime
We call it accident. But man who chooses
With due reflection such unlawful paths,
He is a puzzle. But—and am not I
A puzzle to myself that I should cling
With such affection to thee when thou strivest
To drag me with thee o’er the precipice?
Oh, why did Nature cast thee in her mould,
So pleasing, lovely, irresistible,
And plant within thy bosom a cold heart,
A heart destructive of the peace of others?
Dost thou distrust the warmth of my affection?
This hand should slay me if I only dar’d.
Oh, why, alas! with this detested plot
Again assault my heart? Didst thou not swear
To hide the horror in everlasting night?
Alas! it rose with more impellent might!
This step is forc’d upon the Prince’s son.
An insignificant, inoffensive child
Eugenie was, for many peaceful years.
Commencing with her very earliest days,
Shrin’d in this ancient hall thou wert her guardian,
Few came to see her, and those secretly.
Yet how a father’s love deceiv’d itself.
The Duke, proud of his daughter’s excellence,
Relax’d his care and by degrees allow’d her
To show herself in public openly:
On horseback, driving, she is seen. All ask,
And all at last know, who the maiden is.
Her mother now is dead. The haughty dame,
To whom the child was an abomination,
A keen reminder of her fatal passion,
Had never recogniz’d her, scarcely seen her.
By her decease the Duke at last feels freed,
Devises secret plans, once more attends
At court, forgets the ancient grudge he owed
And seeks the King in reconciliation,
Demanding only that he grant this child
Her birthright as a princess of his race.
And do you then begrudge this lovely creature
The joy of feeling that the right was hers?
Belov’d! dearest! ah, thou speakest lightly,
Thus wall’d and separated from the world,
In cloister-wise, of riches of the earth!
Turn hence thine eyes! A treasure such as this
Is valu’d there more truly at its worth.
The father grudges it his son, the son
Reckons his father’s years, and deadly discord
Parts brothers, through this right intangible.
And e’en the priest forgets his sacred goal
And strives for riches. Is it then surprising
That, when the Prince has always call’d himself
The only child, he should decline to welcome
This sister who with insolent intrusion
Diminishes his fair inheritance?
What, if in his place, would’st thou do thyself?
Already is he not a wealthy Prince?
And at his father’s death will he not be
Superfluously rich? If he should spend
A part of his possessions would he waste them
In winning by them such a lovely sister?
To act with arbitrary will delights
The man of fortune. Nature’s claims he scorns;
He scorns the authority of law and reason,
And spends his substance on the throw of chance.
Merely to have sufficient is to starve.
Give all or nothing. Measureless possessions
For endless squandering are what he wishes.
Advice is not desir’d; think not to turn us.
If thou wilt not work with us, give us up.
What is the deed ye plan? Long ye have threaten’d,
Holding aloof, to blast the lovely child.
What have ye now in monstrous crime devis’d
To spoil her chance of fortune. Do ye ask
That I should blindly cling to what ye plan?
By no means. Thou shalt be initiated.
The first step lies with thee. Our scheme demands
That thou abduct Eugenie. She must vanish
So utterly from knowledge of the world
That we can confidently mourn her death.
The secret of her fate must be conceal’d
Forever, like the secret of the dead.
Ye doom her to a living grave, O villains,
And think to send me with her as companion.
Me too ye doom. I am with her to share—
I the betrayer chain’d to the betray’d—
The awful fate of death, a living death!
Thou shalt return when thou hast done the deed.
Is it a cloister where her days will end?
Not in a cloister! Such a costly pledge
We could not give the clergy, who might use it
Against us as a most convenient tool.
Then is it to the Islands? Tell me plainly!
Thy destination shall be known. Be patient!
How can I be before the fear and danger
That threat my lov’d one’s happiness and mine?
Thy lov’d one in her new life joy will find.
And joy and rapture will await thee here.
Oh, flatter not yourselves with such a hope!
What good is there in holding such temptations
Before me—forcing me, enticing me?
The noble child herself will block your scheme.
Think not to drag her off a willing victim
And helpless. Nay, the spirit that fills her heart
With courage, and the power inherited,
Will go with her where’er she goes, and break
The evil net which you have cast around her.
Thy part will be to make the meshes strong.
Wilt thou persuade me that a simple child,
Till now protected by the arm of Fortune,
Will show, when unexpected chance arises,
Forethought and power, sagacity and wisdom?
Her mind is cultur’d but to think, not act.
And if her thoughts are right, her speech delightful,
Yet much is lacking in her will to do.
The lofty boundless courage of ignorance
Sinks easily to cowardice and despair
When stern Necessity presents itself.
What we have plann’d see that thou carry out.
Small will the harm be, splendid the reward.
Then give me time to ponder and decide.
The moment for the action is at hand.
The Duke knows well that the next holiday
The King will grant the favor long desired,
And recognize his daughter’s princely birth.
For clothes and costly jewels are provided
Already, laid in splendid cabinets,
The keys of which he guards with jealous care,
And thinks he keeps a perfect mystery.
But we are in his secret and prepar’d.
What we have schem’d must quickly now be done.
This evening thou’lt hear more. Till then farewell.
On dubious paths ye work, on mischief bent,
And think ye see a profit in your plans.
Has no suspicion ever cross’d your mind
That over guilt and innocence there hovers
A Being from whose essence streams avenging
A light divine that rescues the oppress’d?
Who dares gainsay the ruling Providence
That shapes conformably to his own will
The outcome of our deeds whate’er they be?
Yet who presumes to make himself an arbiter
In God’s high councils? Who can know
The rule and law by which his fiat works?
We have our reason, and in stature grown
We walk erect upon the face of earth,
And our advantage is our highest right.
Thus are ye traitors to the godlike
If ye despise the dictates of the heart!
It calls me boldly to ward off the danger
That hangs with horrid threat’ning o’er my darling;
It bids me arm myself against my lover,
Against the base designs that strong men harbor!
No glittering promise and no threats shall force me
To leave my rightful place beside my pupil:
Thus do I stand devoted to protect her.
Ah! sweetest, thou alone canst give her safety,
And thou alone the danger canst avert
And at the selfsame time assist our plan.
Lay hold upon her swiftly; take the maiden
As far as possible away, conceal her
That no one know her habitation! Else—
(Thou tremblest—for thou knowest well
The words upon my lips!) Since thou hast forc’d me
Let the alternative at last be said:—
Removal with her is the mildest measure—
If thou refusest to co-operate,
If thou art minded secretly to check us,
And if thou darest, out of friendly purpose,
To drop the slightest hint of what I tell thee,
Then dead she lies upon thy bosom! What
Would fill my heart with sorrow must be done!
His angry threat brings no surprise for me!
’Tis long that I have seen this smouldering fire,
And now it bursts in flames of fury out.
If I would save thee, must I, darling child,
Dispel the lovely dream that beckons thee?
One hope alone diminishes my sorrow—
It vanishes before I fairly hold it.
Eugenie! if thou only could’st renounce
The splendid fortune, which appears so boundless,
Before thy footsteps cross the fatal threshold
Where danger, death, or banishment awaits thee!
Oh, if I only dared enlighten thee,
Dared point the secret hiding-place where lurk
The evil conclave of thy persecutors!
Ah, I must keep dark counsel! Only hints
Can shrive my soul before thee! In the tumult
Of eager pleasure wilt thou understand?
Welcome a thousand times, friend of my heart,
Who showest a mother’s fondness for me, welcome!
With joy, dear child, I press thee to my bosom,
And share the rapture which thy buoyant life
So richly yields thee. How thy dear eyes sparkle!
O’er cheek and brow what lovely color mantles.
What joyous fortune swells thy youthful breast?
A great misfortune has befallen me:
The horse fell headlong from the crag with me.
Be calm! thou seest me again
Unharm’d and fortunate, though great the fall!
How was it? Tell me!
Thou shalt hear how fortune
Resulted splendidly from my disaster.
Alas! from fortune often pain develops.
Let words of evil import not be spoken,
And fright me not with evil thoughts of sorrow!
Ah, would that thou could’st trust me absolutely!
Above all others thee! Yet leave me now,
Beloved, to myself! I wish, alone,
To wont myself to feelings new and strange.
Thou knowest what delight my father takes
Whene’er a little poem comes to greet him
Not look’d for, as the favor of the Muses
Grants power to give expression to my thoughts.
So leave me! Even now the inspiration
Is on me; I must seize it ere it fail me.
When shall we hold again the precious hours
Of sweet discourse and gentle confidences?
When shall we once again like happy maidens,
Who tireless show each other their adornments,
Unlock the secret chambers of our hearts,
Comparing all our changeable possessions?
Those pleasant moments will return again
Whose peaceful joys one gladly recollects,
Sharing with confidence our confidences.
Yet leave me in full loneliness to-day
To find the need of trustful days like those.
(Getting out a portfolio.)
Now quick to work with parchment and with pen!
’Tis wholly mine and soon it shall be written;
The tribute flowing from my thankful heart,
Which to the King, upon that festal day
When, new-born by his all-compelling word,
I enter life, shall now be dedicated.
[She copies out what she slowly recites.
With what a wondrous prospect am I greeted!
Canst thou, O master of the realm elysian,
Forgive the novice for her indecision?
Blinded by Majesty I sink defeated!
Yet soon encourag’d by the judgment meted,
I lift to thee my eyes in raptur’d vision,
Confess’d thy kin, receiv’d without derision,
And all my young hopes are at last completed!
Thus let the boundless spring of grace flow ever!
Here will my faithful heart, ecstatic, tarry,
Sway’d by the majesty of love’s emotion.
My all hangs by a thread a touch might sever!
Methinks the life thou gavest I should carry
And lay before thy throne in sweet devotion.
[Contemplating her writing with satisfaction.
Long has it been, O agitated heart,
Since thou hast spoken in the words of verse.
How happy are we when our inmost feelings
Can take the impress of infinity!
Yet is it quite enough? Here streams it forth,
Here streams it up! Great day, thou drawest nigh,
Which gives the King to us and which shall give
For measureless delight me to the King,
Me to my father, me unto myself.
May this high festival exalt my song!
The wings of Fancy are already spread.
It bears me up before the throne, presents me,
And gives me to the circle rare—
Hark! What is that?
’Tis I! Open the door!
Vexatious interruption! I am busy.
Word from thy father!
What! my father? Hold!
Then I will open!
Yes, thy father sends
Great gifts to thee
Dost thou hear?
One moment! Where shall I conceal this paper?
Too clearly it betrays the hopes I feel.
No nook affords concealment! and with me
There is no safety even in my desk.
For treacherous and faithless are my servants.
When I have slept my papers have been rummag’d,
And many of my treasures have been stolen.
This mystery, the greatest of my life,
Where, where shall I bestow it?
[She approaches the wall.
Ah, yes! here,
Where thou, in days past, wainscot cabinet,
Didst hide the innocent secrets of my childhood!
Discover’d by my restless energy,
Investigating, born of idleness
And childish natural curiosity,
Thou, known to no one save myself, springest open!
[She presses on an invisible spring and a little door flies open.
Thus as I once conceal’d forbidden sweets
For sly enjoyment in thy secret chamber,
So now, transported, timid, I entrust thee
A little space with my life’s happiness.
[She lays the parchment in the cupboard and closes it.
The days press on and full of expectation
Bring joy and sadness with them in their train.
[She opens the door.
Eugenie. Governess. Servantsbringing a magnificent dressing-case.
If I disturb thee, still I bring with me
What in thy eyes should give me absolution.
This from my father! This resplendent gift!
What content does a shrine like that portend?
Ho! tarry yet a moment!
[She hands them a purse.
Take this trifle
As foretaste of reward for service! richer follows!
No letter and no key! ’Tis passing strange!
Must such a treasure wait me unexplor’d?
O curiosity! O eager longing!
Suspectest thou what mean these gifts to me?
I doubt not thou thyself hast solv’d the riddle.
It signifies a coming elevation.
The finery of a princess is allow’d thee
Because the King will soon declare thy rank.
What makes thee think so?
Oh, I know it well!
The secrets of the great are never kept.
Well, if thou knowest, why should I dissemble?
Shall I restrain before thee without reason
My curiosity to see this gift? The key
Is here! I know my father did forbid it.
Yet what did he forbid? To tell the secret
Before the time. Yet thou already knowest
The weighty news: what more is there to tell
Than thou hast heard, and through thy love for me
Hast kept in guard beneath the seal of silence?
Why then delay? Come, let us open! come!
So that the glory of the gifts may charm us!
Nay! touch it not! Remember his forbiddance.
Who knows the reason of the Duke’s command?
He had a purpose for his prohibition,
That purpose now is render’d nugatory;
Thou knowest all. Thou lovest me, thou art
A faithful friend that can preserve a secret.
So let us push the bolt and close the chamber,
And let us quick together solve the mystery.
[She shuts the chamber door and runs to the casket.
(Restraining her.) The gold, the colors of the splendid fabrics,
The soft light of the pearls, the gleam of jewels,
Ah! let them all remain unseen! They tempt thee
Beyond control to seek the fatal goal!
Not they, but what they signify, attract me.
[She opens the box; mirrors adorn the cover.
What costly raiment, lying folded there
E’en as I touch it, shows before my eyes!
And do these mirrors not make swift demand
To image forth the maiden in her jewels?
Medea’s fiery garment seems to me
To lie unfolded in my nerveless hand!
What Melancholy weaves its mist around thee?
Think rather of delightful bridal feasts!
Come! reach the treasures to me one by one!
That underdress! how richly, sweetly gleam
The silver gauze, the sparkle of its hues.
(Throwing the garment overEugenie’sshoulders.) If e’er the rays of Favor’s sun should darken,
The cause would be such glory’s bright reflection.
A faithful heart deserves the rays of favor,
And if they fail it draws them back again.—
Now bring the gold-embroider’d overskirt,
And spread the train with all its wealth of lace.
The brilliancy of flowers has ting’d the gold
Spread in metallic hues with tasteful choice.
Am I not beautiful in this array?
Yet beauty unadorn’d is honor’d more
For its own splendor by the truly wise.
The truly wise may treasure simple beauty,
But most prefer the beauty that’s adorn’d.—
Now bring the tender twilight of the pearls,
The flashing glory of the splendid jewels.
Yet not the appearance but the genuine worth
Can satisfy the cravings of thy heart!
What is appearance having naught of substance,
And what would substance be without appearance?
And hast thou not enjoy’d within these walls
The long untroubled days of sunny youth,
Nor felt the secret bliss of holy rapture
When cradled with the hearts of those that love thee?
The tender bud rejoices in its calyx
So long as Winter’s frost besieges it;
But now the breath of Spring inspires its life,
It bursts in blossoms, full of light and fragrance!
But moderation gives a joy serene!
Provided that a moderate aim is set.
He who enjoys submits to limitations.
Thy arguments persuade me not, thus rob’d.
Oh, would that this apartment might expand
Until it reach’d the glory of the King’s.
That splendid carpets deck’d the polish’d floors,
That golden groins might overarch the vault!
And thus before the throne of royalty
With humble pride, among the haughty nobles
Reflecting back the smiling beams of grace,
I ’mid the circle of distinguish’d ones
Should stand the most distinguish’d at the pageant.
Oh, let me have the foretaste of this joy
When all the world shall wonder at my fortune.
Thou’lt be an object not of wonder only:
Envy will mark thee, hate will seek thy ruin.
Success must ever raise the coils of envy.
We learn to keep our guard when haters prowl.
Humiliation oft surprises pride.
Presence of mind will guard against surprise!
[Turning to the dressing-case.
Not yet have we examin’d everything.
For self alone I do not ask this fortune;
With others would I all my treasures share.
(Taking out a jewel box.)
Here written on this box the words: “For Gifts.”
Then pray select the things that please thee most.
Among these watches, boxes, take thy choice.
Yet hold! Be wary! Who can tell? Perchance
Yet costlier things lie hid within the case!
Would that a powerful talisman were here
To win thy cruel brother’s love to thee!
The pure affections of the ingenuous heart
May gradually soften his ill will.
Yet those who strive to make more black his grudge
Are pledg’d forever to oppose thy wishes.
If they till now have sought to block my fortune,
Yet since the grand decision has been made
They will each one conform without a murmur.
That which thou hopest is not yet accomplish’d.
Yet ’tis so safe that I can call it done.
[Returning to the case again.
See what is lying in that long flat box!
(Uncovering it.) The loveliest ribbons, fresh and newly chosen!
Ah, let not curious contemplation ruin
With dissipating tendency thy mind.
Oh, would it might be, that my earnest warning
Should make a moment’s impress on thy mind.
From the still circle thou wilt soon emerge
On wider fields where anxious cares will harass,
Where dangerous snares, where Death itself, perchance,
From murderous hands of enemies await thee.
Thou art unwell! How can my sure success
Appear to thee as frightful as a spectre?
[Gazing into the box.
What do I see? This roll! ’tis verily
The ribbon of the noblest princely order!
This also I must wear then! Come! make haste!
I wish to see its whole effect! ’Tis part
Of this superb array. It must be tried!
[The order is attached.
Now prate to me of death! now prate of danger!
What nobler grace than when a man can stand
In all the bravery of heroic garb
Amid his peers in presence of his King?
What gives more satisfaction to the eye
Than robes that tell of splendid lines of knights?
This raiment and its colors are they not
A symbol of the danger ever near?
The sash, significant of war, wherewith
A man with dauntless courage girds himself?
My friend, my love! Whatever ornament
Is emblematical of peril, that
Must, of necessity, be dangerous!
So give me then the sentiment of courage
To meet the dangers menacing my path,
Array’d, as now, in splendid princely garb.
Henceforth, irrevocable is my fortune.
(Aside.) The fate that calls thee is irrevocable.