from Faustus: his Life, Death, and Doom

Friedrich Maximilian Klinger
1752 – 1831

O the delightful moment! Precious reward of my toils!
Hell rejoices at thy curses, and expects a yet more frightful one from thee.
Fool! wast thou not born free?
Didst thou not bear in thy breast, like all who live in flesh,
the instinct of good as well as of evil?
Why didst thou transgress, with so much temerity,
the bounds which had been prescribed to thee?
Why didst thou endeavour to try thy strength with and against
Him who is not to be reached?
Did not God create you in such a manner,
that you were as much elevated above the devils
as above the beasts of the earth?
Did he not grant you the perceptive faculty of good and evil?
Were not your will and choice free?
We wretches are without choice, without will;
we are the slaves of evil and of imperious necessity;
constrained and condemned to all eternity to wish nothing but evil,
we are the instruments of revenge and punishment upon you.
Ye are kings of the creation, free beings,
masters of your destiny, which ye fix yourselves;
masters of the future, which only depends upon your actions.
It is on account of these prerogatives that we detest you,
and rejoice when, by your follies, your impatience, and your crimes,
you cease to be masters of yourselves.
It is only in resignation, Faustus, that present or future happiness consists.
Hadst thou remained what thou wast,
and had not doubt, pride, vanity, and voluptuousness
torn thee out of the happy and limited sphere for which thou wast born,
thou mightst have followed an honourable employment,
and have supported thy wife and children; and thy family,
which is now sunk into the refuse of humanity,
would have been blooming and prosperous;
lamented by them, thou wouldst have died calmly on thy bed,
and thy example would have guided thy posterity along the thorny path of life.

Translation by George Borrow

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