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Faust to leave off his wicked pursuits ; but, instead of listening to the advice of the gentle Reformer, he even threatened to play off his practical jokes on Luther; wherefore Master Philippus greatly rejoiced when a warrant for his apprehension was issued by the Elector of Saxony, which caused the sorcerer to decamp. Melanchthon told his pupil, Johannes Manlius, how this cloaca multorum diabolorum had boasted to him of having by his witchcraft obtained all the victories of the Emperor in Italy. But, adds he, when he announced at Venice that he would fly right into heaven, the devil lifted him only to a considerable height, and then dropped him, so that he barely escaped with his life. Also, of his lamentable end, he speaks in the same believing spirit. Johannes Gast, a Protestant clergyman in the Palatinate, relates, in his Sermones conviviales, how he dined one day with Faust in the College of Basle, and marvelled at some strange specimens of poultry which he committed to the care of the cook. This worthy pastor saw that self-same black dog and horse, which were Faust's constant companions, and doubted not in the least that they were disguised devils. In various towns and collegesat Leipzig, Ingolstadt, Wittenberg, Nuremberg-Faust exhibited the black art, and at his lectures conjured before his audience Paris and Helen, and all the heroes of the Trojan War. Widely spread are the traditions of the inroads he used to make on the wine-cellars of prelates and innkeepers, generally disappearing, after a jolly bout, riding upon a wine-cask. All these incidents have been skilfully woven into his poem by Goethe. Gast, and many other contemporaneous writers, dwell upon his sad end, how, after exhausting every species of dissipation and devilry, he was torn to pieces by Satan. For the most part, the old Faustbooks represent him as a bragging mountebank, who employed his profound knowledge of sorcery in obtaining the means of pleasure, who delighted in practical jokes, ran into debt, and cheated his creditors from sheer love of mischief. And this man, nevertheless, was to be the hero of all the popular plays for nearly three centuries to come.
Divesting both the historical and mythical Faust of all accidental fiction, we recognise in him a doubter. His whole subsequent career was a consequence of his doubt. He is dissatisfied with the result of science and of his own studies. This class of doubters was entirely unknown to the ancients, and in this respect Faust is the representative of the modern sceptic. In the small States of antiquity every man soon found his level, and, having found this, he could without difficulty see and enjoy the results of his labours, the effects of his individual activity on the body corporate. But as the theatre of history
is widened, as the seven Saxon kingdoms are, with numerous dependencies, amalgamated into one great empire, as the little Greek republics are merged into one monarchy, and as a boundless prospect is opened to the student of science, then it becomes more difficult to take in at a glance the whole scene of action; the individual becomes bewildered, and complains that science moves but slowly, slowly, creeping on from point to point. Thus Faust is a type of those who cannot perceive that
through the ages one unceasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.'
This doubt of Faust implies a breaking with the past. All the theology and philosophy of the preceding ages is worthless and hollow; he will no longer deal in idle words and teach what he does not know; he will betake himself to magic, whether through the power of the spirit many a mystery may not become known to him ; whether he may learn what holds the world together in its inmost core, and see all the springs and seeds of production. Faust throws off authority, and enters on free inquiry. Did not the reformers throw off the authority of creeds and councils and proclaim the liberty of conscience at the same time that the people fashioned this legend ? Did not Bacon and Descartes break the authority of Aristotle and the scholastics, and assert the right of free inquiry? Did they not begin with the doubt? Was not, to speak with Jules Simon, doubt the method of Descartes ? And finally, what a part has scepticism played, and is still playing, in modern history! Thus Faust is to us a type of those who, unfettered by prejudice and defying authority, open to us new roads in politics, art, science, and religion. And again, Faust throws off authority, and pursues the study of magic in order to find enjoyment. He has neither land nor money, nor honour and rank in this world; all joy is taken from him; no dog would like to live so any longer. Also, this impulse expresses a tendency of the Reformation. The spiritualism of the middle ages had been in theory so opposed to all our claims to material wellbeing, that a reaction was inevitable. The Reformation rehabilitates those claims as not opposed to spiritual advancement; it re-introduces marriage as a divine institution for all men, and abolishes monastic life and penances. That Faust, in his character as the champion of material enjoyment, should appear weak and vacillating, was likewise necessary. The whole development of modern thought is a contest between idealism and realism, or, as the French call it, spiritualism and sensualism. The Cartesian philosophy had made a chasm between body and soul, matter and mind, and all subsequent thinkers ranged themselves on the side of the one or the other. On the one
VOL. XLIV. —NO. LXXXVII.
hand, we have the idealism of Berkeley, Leibnitz, Malebranche, and Spinoza; on the other, the materialism of Hobbes, Helvetius, and Locke. Faust, who seeks a union between the two, finds satisfaction in neither, but keeps wavering between the two. This contest of idealism and realism, or spiritualism and sensualism, is represented in the character of Faust.
But how did Faust proceed to obtain this highest sensual enjoyment? In a tumult of passions, he rushes from pleasure to pleasure, till at last he becomes calmer, in the all-absorbing pursuit of Helen, the flower of female beauty. This is a very significant trait of the myth. The tradition went amongst the people, how Faust was so enamoured of Helen, when he saw her returning from the shades, that he married her, and had a son by her, called Justus Faustus, who, together with his mother, vanished on the night that Faust met his doom. Helen represents symbolically in this legend the revival of classical learning by Erasmus, Reuchlin, Melanchthon, and Hütten. Part of the obloquy which is poured out on Faust by early writers, we may safely interpret as an expression of the distrust and hatred which were excited by the men who re-introduced the study of Greek.
To sum up this inquiry: The Faust legend is a popular expression of a belief in the power of individual effort; of the victory of free inquiry over authority; the vindication of realism as opposed to idealism, or of sensualism as opposed to spiritualism; and of the revival of classical art and literature. Of these invisible realities, the Faust legend is the visible shadow,
Widespread and popular is the error that the wizard Faust was the same with the inventor of printing. This is of considerable importance. The humble people felt distinctly enough that the black art of the necromancer and the black art of the printer were at the bottom identical. The art of printing was the powerful machine by which the destruction of the old, and the construction of the new was principally carried on. It was the philosopher's stone, by which the religious revolution of Luther and Melanchthon was to be transmuted into the philosophical reformation of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, and the political reformation of Mirabeau and Danton.
As time went on, new additions were made to the fable. America was discovered, and the minds of men, already directed by the Christian religion to something beyond, and longing for a better land where there would be no such turmoil and uproar, were pleased in hearing of these strange and wondrous countries. Books of travel, such as that of Sir John Mandeville, became rapidly popular. Faust, already endowed with magic means of locomotion, was made to see all distant lands and nations, and to go through every conceivable adventure. Thus the legend was fitted to become the frame in which the richest and most varied life might be set by the poet.
As the Faust fable was the only one which the people fashioned since the Reformation, so it was their favourite subject for plays. At all fairs, not only in Germany, but also in England, nay, even in Spain and the south of France, The Doctor Faustus was performed by strolling players; and the spectators felt a pious horror, when they heard an ominous voice crying the quarters of Faust's last hour: 'Fauste, Fauste, præpara te ad mortem ! Fauste, Fauste, accusatus es! Fauste, Fauste, judicatus es !' and finally, 'Fauste, Fauste, in æternum damnatus es !' Numerous lives of him were written, setting forth his wicked deeds and terrible end as a warning to the faithful. Of these, the best known are Wiedman's Faust, and the life of the Christlich Meynenden. The remnants of the puppet plays have been edited by Professor Simrock of Bonn, and in Schaible's Kloster, so that we have now a complete apparatus criticus for studying this remarkable tradition.
In Calderon's Magico Prodigioso (which, though the wizard be St. Cyprian, is the same tradition), the magician defeats in the end the cunning of the devil, and dies as a martyr of the Catholic Church. Thus, one of the earliest dramas entirely mistakes the character and contents of the myth, and naturally could be only a failure. In the old Faust-books, he appears mostly as a sceptic running into sensualism, and perishing in it. Marlowe was the greatest of all Goethe's forerunners. With him Faust is a bold speculator, who oversteps the boundaries prescribed to the finite understanding, and thus becomes the prey of the devil. But nevertheless he is represented as a noble and learned man, worthy to be mourned for by the whole university
—as a scholar; and the chorus express it in the closing scene of
As every Christian heart laments to think on;
Shall wait upon his heavy funeral.
And burned is Apollo's laurel-bough,
velops itself man. The legd the beginnin with
On Marlowe's play most of the pantomimes were founded, which were so popular throughout Europe, and one of which Goethe saw played whilst yet a child, and which gave him the first impulse to his great poem.
Now, let us see under what peculiar circumstances the Faustpoem burst forth in full blossom. As the flower of a plant develops itself in a higher sphere than its germ, so is it with the thoughts of man. The legend of Faust received its final shape at the end of the last and the beginning of the present century. In that time the French broke with everything antiquated in society, getting rid of the mediæval and feudal lumber, whilst the Germans did the same in philosophy, science, and literature. Kant was the philosophical Robespierre around whom the Jacobins of Germany gathered. He was succeeded by Fichte with his Ego, the Napoleon of philosophy, whose reign was brilliant, but short. After them came Oken, Werner, and Humboldt, all destroying preconceived notions in science, and opening a new and deeper insight into nature. And amidst all this political hubbub and scientific turmoil, men's minds, again directed to a land beyond the sea, hopefully contemplating the rising in America, whence Lafayette came with his argonauts, bringing home the golden fleece of the rights of men,--this political and scientific revolution,--that was the time, if there ever was to be one, in which this legend of the Reformation could receive a new and more perfect shape. This was rightly felt and done by Goethe. And that this poem is not the work of Goethe's brain alone, but a production to which all Europe contributed, and which was worked out in the unconscious heart of the people, is proved by the most superficial glance at the state of European literature. Every line of Shelley and Byron breathes that Titanic spirit which found its truest expression in the Faust of Goethe. The Sturm-und Drang Periode of German literature is as the distant roll of the thunder, which comes nearer and nearer, till in Faust we are terrified by the simultaneous lightning and thunder-clap. Nearly every poet in Germany was working at a Faust-poem. Lessing, Lenz, Klinger, Chamisso, Heine, Grabbe, Lenau, all wrote a Faust. But Goethe's Faust became and remains THE Faust. Whilst others were suffering from that fever of doubt, and thirst for higher knowledge and purer enjoyment, Goethe' alone succeeded in realizing his aim. He was patient and physician at the same time. These words, which were originally spoken of his Werther, apply with equal force to every one of his masterpieces. Niebuhr, at the appearance of the first part, testified how the common pent-up feelings of every thinking man in Europe found here suddenly word and utterance, how he and every one with