Transcribed from the 1864 W. Kent and Co. edition by David Price, email email@example.com
FAUSTUS: HIS LIFE, DEATH, AND DOOM.
A ROMANCE IN PROSE.
Translated from the German.
"Speed thee, speed thee, Liberty lead thee, Many this night shall hearken and heed thee. Far abroad, Demi-god, Who shall appal thee! Javal, or devil, or what else we call thee."
LONDON: W. KENT AND CO., PATERNOSTER-ROW. 1864.
LONDON: ROBSON AND LEVEY, PRINTERS, GREAT NEW STREET, FETTER LANE.
THE TRANSLATOR TO THE PUBLIC.
The publication of the present volume may at first sight appear to require some brief explanation from the Translator, inasmuch as the character of the incidents may justify such an expectation on the part of the reader. It is therefore necessary to state, that although strange scenes of vice and crime are here exhibited, it is in the hope that they may serve as beacons, to guide the ignorant and unwary from the shoals on which they might otherwise be wrecked.
The work, when considered as a whole, is strictly moral. The Catholic priest is not praised for burning his fellow-creature at an auto-da-fe, and for wallowing in licentiousness; nor is the Calvinist commended for his unrelenting malignity to all those whose tenets are different from his own, and for crying down the most innocent pleasures and relaxations which a bountiful and just God has been pleased to place within the reach of his earthly children.
The tyrant and the oppressor of mankind will here find himself depicted in his proper colours.
Neither will the champions of freedom pass the fiery ordeal with feet unseared; since a glorious specimen of what they all are will be found among the following pages. Ye who with ever-open mouths are constantly clamouring at whatever is established, whether it be beneficial to the human race or injurious, will here find the motives for your conduct pointed out and held up to contempt and execration.
But, above all, this work contains the following highly useful advice:
Let every one bear his lot with patience, and not seek, at the expense of his repose, to penetrate into those secrets which the spirit of man, while dressed in the garb of mortality, cannot and must not unveil. Let every one bridle those emotions which the strange and frequently revolting phenomena of the moral world may cause to arise in his bosom, and beware of deciding upon them; for He alone who has power to check or permit them, can know how and why they happen, whither they tend, and what will be their ultimate consequence. To the mind of man all is dark; he is an enigma to himself: let him live, therefore, in the hope of once seeing clearly; and happy indeed is he who in this manner passes his days.
The present translation, it should be added, has been executed with as much fidelity to the original as the difference of the two languages, and other considerations, would allow.
CONTENTS. CHAPTER I. 1 Ambitious Character of Faustus—His Discovery of Printing—Journey to Frankfort—The Devil, the White Nun, and Father Gebhardt of Mayence—Faustus offers his Bible to the Council of Frankfort—His first Interview with a Spirit—The Infernal Banquet—Speech of Satan—Allegorical Entertainments of Leviathan—Faustus's Dialogue with the Devil CHAPTER II. 60 Leviathan meets Faustus at an Inn at Frankfort—Assembling of the Council, and Discussion on Faustus's Bible—Corporation Squabbles—Leviathan and Faustus invited to a grand Civic Entertainment—Faustus presents his Bible to the City—His Introduction to the Mayoress—Knighthood of the Mayor—The Devil's Revenge on the Corrupt Corporation—The Hermit of Homburg—A Lesson to Misanthropists—The Hermit and the lovely Pilgrim—His Hut burnt by Leviathan, and he perishes in the Flames—Faustus returns to his Wife and Family at Mayence—Espouses the Cause of a despairing Client, and corrupts the Judge—Dispute about the Nun Clara—Leviathan's Revenge on the avaricious Judge—Faustus's Adventure with Clara—Takes leave of his Family—Rescues a Youth from Drowning CHAPTER III. 116 The Devil and Faustus continue their Journey on the Banks of the Fulda—The oppressive Prince-Bishop—Faustus's Interview with the Bishop—Clerical Luxury—Case of Dr. Robertus, the Protector of the People—Faustus espouses his Cause, and liberates the "Patriot"—The Devil and Faustus visit the Court of the Prince of —-.—The betrayed Minister and his Daughter—The Devil and Faustus imprisoned—The Fiend suffocates the Prince, and, with Faustus, resumes his Journey—The Wildgrave and burning Village—The infatuated Monk—School of Physiognomy—Faustus and the Virgin Student—The Devil's Peep-show, and its Talismanic Influence—Portrait of the Fiend CHAPTER IV. 181 France in the Reign of Louis XI.—Interview of the Devil and Faustus with Father Vesois—Loves of Madame de Monserau—Faustus and the French Widow—The Fatal Supper—Arrival of Faustus and the Devil at Paris—Execution of the Duke of Nemours—Faustus and the avaricious Father—Infanticide recommended—Horrible Death of the Miser, and Ruin of his Daughter—Trial of a humane Surgeon, and ungrateful Murderer—Anatomical Cruelties—Prisons of Paris—Bishop of Verdun's Cages—Perillus, the Tyrant Phalaris, and the Brazen Bull—Atrocious Character of Louis XI.—The Hermit of Calabria—Faustus and the Devil visit England—Cruelties of Richard, Duke of Gloucester—The Devil's Portraiture of the English Character—Arrival of Faustus and the Fiend at Milan—Murder of the Duke Galeas Sforza—Florence—Spanish Auto-da-Fe—Pope Alexander VI.—Combat of a Papal General with one of his Officers for a White Goat—Machinations of the Pope—Ancient and Modern Rome, and her Abominations—Cardinal Caesar Borgia—Licentious Entertainments at the Vatican—The Pope and his Illegitimates—Caesar Borgia and Michelotto—Stratagem to depose his Brother Francisco—Murder of the latter—Faustus and the lovely Lucretia—Vanity of Human Philosophy, and Sophistry of its Professors—Atrocious Plots and Excesses of Pope Alexander—His Sale of Indulgences—Amended Catalogue, with increased Prices—Murder of Alphonso of Arragon—Caesar Borgia's Letter to the Pope—Cardinal Orsini—Borgia's Triumphal Entry into Rome—Marriage of Lucretia—Gross Festivities—The Devil's Apostrophe thereon—Descent of the Pope into Hell, and Death of Caesar Borgia CHAPTER V. 261 Faustus's Consolation for his Crimes—Philosophy of Voltaire—Faustus's portentous Dream—Apparition of his Father—Baseness and Ingratitude of Man—Flight of the Devil and Faustus to Mayence—Death of his Son, and Destruction of his Family—Retrospect of his criminal Career—Accursed Destiny of Faustus, and Triumph of the Devil—Descent of Faustus into Hell CHAPTER I.
Faustus, having long struggled with the shadows of Theology, the bubbles of Metaphysics, and the ignes-fatui of Morality, without being able to bring his mind to a firm conviction, at length cast himself into the dark fields of Magic, in the hope of forcing from Nature what she had so obstinately withheld from him. His first attainment was the remarkable invention of Printing; but his second was horrible. He discovered, almost fortuitously, the dreadful formula by which devils are called out of hell, and made subservient to the will of man. But as yet he had not exerted his power, out of love to his immortal soul, for whose welfare every Christian is so anxious. At this period he was in the full bloom of manhood. Nature had favoured him in his person, and had given him a noble and expressive countenance. Here was enough to bespeak his happiness in the world; but she superadded pride and untamable impetuosity of mind, which displayed itself in deep determination of purpose, and in the constant workings of a heated imagination, which was never satisfied with the present, but affected to discover the emptiness and insufficiency of the acquired object, even in the zest of its enjoyment.
Faustus soon lost the path by which moderation leads frail mortals to the abode of true happiness. He soon felt the narrow limits of humanity, and endeavoured to burst their bonds. By what he had learnt and believed in his youth, he entertained a high opinion of the capacity and moral worth of man; and, in comparing himself with others, he naturally laid the greatest part of the sum-total to his own account. Here were fine materials for greatness and glory: but true greatness and true glory generally fly from him who is on the point of attaining them, just before he can separate their fine pure forms from the mist and vapour which delusion has shed round them. It appeared to Faustus that, in his situation, the nearest and most convenient way to honour and reputation would be the sciences; yet scarcely had he tasted their enchantment when his soul became inflamed with an ardent passion after truth. Every one who is acquainted with these sirens, and has heard their deceitful song, must know that, provided he does not make a mere trade of them, he must infallibly miss his aim, from the necessity of assuaging the burning thirst with which they inspire him. Faustus, after he had for a long time groped about in the labyrinth, found that his earnings were doubt; displeasure at the short-sightedness of man; and discontent and murmuring against the Being who had formed him. He might still have been comparatively happy had he had only these feelings to combat: but when the perusal of the sages and the poets awakened a thousand new wants in his soul, and his now winged and artificial imagination conjured up before his eyes the many intoxicating enjoyments which gold and reputation could only procure him, his blood ran like fire through his veins, and all his faculties were soon swallowed up by this sensation.
By the discovery of Printing, Faustus thought he had at length opened the door to riches, honour, and enjoyment. He exerted himself to the utmost, in order to bring the art to perfection, and he now laid his discovery before mankind; but their lukewarmness quickly convinced him that, although the greatest inventor of his age, he and his family would soon perish with hunger unless his genius continually displayed itself in some new forms. Hurled from the pinnacle of hope, oppressed by heavy debts,—which he had incurred by generosity and extravagant living, and by his becoming security for false friends,—he now surveyed the world through a gloomy medium. His domestic ties, when he no longer knew how to support his family, became an intolerable burden. He began to think that there was a malign influence in the distribution of men's fortunes: or how did it happen that the noble and intellectual man was every where oppressed, neglected, and in misery; whilst the knave and the fool were rich, prosperous, and honoured in life?
In this melancholy state of mind Faustus wandered from Mayence to Frankfort, intending to sell one of his printed Latin Bibles to the magistracy, and then to return and buy with the produce food for his hungry children. He had been able to accomplish nothing in his native city, because at that time the Archbishop was at war with the whole Chapter, and all Mayence found itself in the greatest confusion. The cause was as follows: a Dominican monk had dreamt that he passed the night with his penitent, the lovely Clara, who was a white nun, and a niece of the Archbishop. In the morning it was his turn to read mass; he did so, and, unabsolved from the night of sin, received the host in his profane hands. At eve-tide, after a cup or two of Rhenish, he related his dream to a young novice. The dream tickled the imagination of the novice: he told it with some additions to a monk; and in this manner the story, embellished with horrors and licentiousness, ran through the convent, until it came to the ears of the Prior himself. This holy man, who hated Father Gebhardt on account of his intimacy with the most respectable houses, was shocked at the scandalousness of the affair, which he considered as a profanation of the holy sacrament; and, refusing to decide on such a weighty matter, he referred it to the Archbishop. The Archbishop, wisely concluding that whatever sinful man wishes or thinks by day he dreams of by night, denounced the ban of the Church against the monk. The Chapter, whose hatred to an Archbishop always increases the longer he lives, and gladly seizes every opportunity to annoy him, took Father Gerhardt under its protection, and opposed the ban on these grounds: "It is well known that the Devil tempted St. Anthony with the most licentious representations and voluptuous enticements; and if the Devil dared to act so with a saint, whose equal was not to be found in the calendar, what should prevent him from playing off his pranks with a Dominican? We must therefore advise the monk to follow the example of the holy Anthony, and, like him, to oppose the temptations of the fiend with the weapons of prayer and fasting. It is, however, much to be lamented, that Satan should have so little respect for the Archbishop as to make the instrument of his wiles assume the figure of one of his reverence's family." The Chapter conducted itself in this case exactly in the same manner as hereditary princes do whose fathers live too long. But what served more completely to confuse the case was a report from the nunnery. The nuns had assembled in the refectory, and were busied in dressing up a Madonna for the next festival, hoping to surpass by its magnificence their rivals the black nuns, when suddenly the old porteress entered, told the licentious story, and added, that the Dominican, whose name she had forgot, would certainly be burnt alive, for that the Chapter had even then assembled for the purpose of trying him. Whilst the porteress was relating the tale with its various circumstances, the faces of the young nuns were violently flushed, and Sin, who never loses an opportunity of corrupting innocent hearts, shot into their blood, and hastily pictured the dangerous scene to their imaginations. Fury and consternation, in the mean time, deformed the features of the old ones. The abbess trembled and leaned on her staff, while the spectacles fell from her face. But when the porteress added, that it was the sister Clara whom the fiend had brought to the Dominican in his dream, a dreadful shriek filled the whole hall. Clara alone remained tranquil, and when the uproar had ceased, she said, smiling: "Dear sisters, why do you shriek so fearfully? I myself dreamt that I passed the night with Father Gebhardt, my confessor; and if it was the work of the fiend" (here she and all the rest made the sign of the cross), "why, we must give him the discipline." "The Father Gebhardt!" cried the porteress; "now, all ye saints and angels, that is the very person who dreamt of you; that is he whom they are about to burn." The porteress having thus expressed herself, this second version of the dream was immediately circulated through the city. The Madonna was allowed to remain naked, for the sisters cared now very little if the black nuns bore away the palm. The abbess did all in her power to spread the news abroad, the housekeeper followed her example, the porteress harangued an audience beneath the gateway, and Clara candidly replied to the yet more candid questions of her companions. The last trumpet could not have diffused in Mayence more terror and confusion than did this extraordinary tale.
No sooner did the Dominican prior hear of this accident than he ran to the assembled Chapter, and gave, by his information, a new turn to the affair. The Archbishop would willingly have suppressed the whole business; but it was now time for the Chapter to take it up, and all the canons were unanimously of opinion, that so strange a circumstance ought to be communicated to the Holy Father at Rome. They now became infuriated, and nothing but the midday bell had power to separate them. From that moment, all Mayence, clergy and laity, divided into two parties; and for many years nothing was heard, spoken, or dreamt of, but the Devil, the white nun, and Father Gebhardt. The matter was argued from the pulpit of every sect: mountebanks, Capuchins, and dog-doctors, made it their theme; while the lawyers, after having taken the depositions of the nun and the father, and confronted them with each other, wrote folio volumes concerning the sinful and unsinful chances of the dream. Was this a time for Faustus and his discoveries to succeed?
In Frankfort, which is at the present day the asylum of science, Faustus, however, hoped for better fortune. He offered his Bible to the reverend Town Council for two hundred gold guilders; but, as a large sum had just been expended in purchasing five hogsheads of prime Rhenish for the council cellar, his demand came rather unseasonably. He paid his court to the town-clerk, to the speaker, and to the senators,—from the proud patrician to the yet prouder head of the shoemaker guild. He was promised by all favour, protection, and assistance.
At length he attached himself to the then presiding mayor, from whom he for a long time gained nothing; but, as if in recompense, the lady-mayoress kindled a violent passion in his susceptible heart. One evening the mayor assured him that the council, on their next day of meeting, would come to a determination, by virtue of which the assembled members would most probably pay down the sum for the Bible. Faustus replied, that his children might very possibly die of hunger before so enlightened an assembly had decided; and, maddened with despair, he now returned to his solitary apartment. In this moment he suddenly recollected his magic formula. The thought of running some bold risk, and of purchasing independence of man by an alliance with the Devil, rushed more vividly than ever through his brain. Yet the idea terrified him. With hasty steps, furious gestures, and fearful cries, he strode up and down the chamber, struggling with his rebellious spirit, which urged him to penetrate the surrounding darkness; still his soul shuddered and was unresolved. The clock struck eleven from the neighbouring tower. Black night hung about the earth. The north-wind howled, and clouds obscured the face of the full moon. Nature now appeared in a second chaos. A night more suited to bewilder an excited imagination could not be conceived. Yet was the beam of his mind balanced. In one scale hung religion and its firm supporter—the hope of immortality; while thirst for independence and knowledge, pride, pleasure, malevolence, and bitterness filled the other.
At length Faustus, according to the custom of magic, drew the horrible circle which was for ever to remove him from the providential care of the Omnipotent, and from the sweet ties of humanity. His eyes sparkled, his heart beat louder, and his yellow tresses stood erect on his head. At this moment he thought he saw his aged father and his blooming wife and children wring their hands in despair, and fall down upon their knees to pray for him to that Being whom he was about to renounce. "It is their misery, it is their situation, that maddens me," he wildly shrieked, and stamped on the ground with his foot. He now became enraged at the weakness of his heart, and advanced towards the circle; the storm rattled against the windows, the foundation of the house trembled: a noble angelic figure appeared before him, exclaiming, "Stay, Faustus!" and the following colloquy ensued:
Faustus. Who art thou, that disturbest my daring work?
Figure. I am the Genius of Man, and will save thee, if thou art to be saved.
Faustus. What canst thou give me to assuage my thirst for knowledge, and my desire for freedom and enjoyment?
Figure. Humility, resignation in suffering, content, and a proper estimation of thyself; above all, an easy death, and light in the world to come.
Faustus. Begone, vision of my heated fancy! I know thee by the cunning with which thou wouldst deceive the wretches whom thou hast made subservient to power. Begone, and hover around the brows of the beggar, of the monk, of the debased slave, and of all those who have their hearts fettered by unnatural bonds; and who keep their senses locked up, in order to escape from the claws of despair. The powers of my soul require room, and let Him who has given me it answer for its workings.
"Farewell, unhappy man," sighed the Genius, and disappeared.
Faustus cried, "Am I to be frightened on the very brink of hell by nursery-tales? But they shall not prevent me from piercing the darkness; I will know what the gloomy curtain conceals, which a tyrannical hand has drawn before our eyes. And who is to blame, I repeat? Was it I that formed myself so that trifling exertion exhausts my strength? Did I plant in my bosom the seeds of passion? Did I place there that impulse for aggrandisement which never lets me rest? Did I fashion my soul, so that it will not submit, and will not bear contempt? Perhaps I am like the earthen pot, which, formed by a strange hand, is broken into pieces, because it does not hit the fancy of the maker, and because it does not answer the use for which it appears to have been designed. Alas! I am a mere vessel; yet wherefore then this struggle with my destiny, which would fetter my noblest resolves? And was mind given for no purpose? Surely not! The bull trusts in his horns, and the stag in his swiftness to escape from the hunter; and is that which so eminently distinguishes man less his own? Mind I possess; I employed it for the benefit of my fellow-men, and neglect was my reward; perhaps the devils will respect it more."
Here he sprung furiously into the circle; while the lamentations of his wife, father, and children seemed to echo, in the deep tones of despair, "Lost! for ever lost!"
Satan, ruler of hell, had, by the hoarse sound of his trumpets, which echoed even to the glowing sides of the sun, announced to all the fallen spirits dispersed through the upper and lower world, that he intended on this day to give a great festival. The spirits assembled at the mighty call. Even his envoys at the papal stool, and at the different courts of Europe, forsook their posts; for the invitation led them to expect something great and important.
Already the monstrous vaults of hell resounded with the wild cries of the fiendish populace, while myriads seated themselves upon the scorched ground. The princes then stepped forth, and commanded silence to the multitude, whilst Satan heard the intelligence brought by his envoys from the upper world. The devils obeyed, and a death-like stillness prevailed amid the thick, misty darkness, interrupted only by the groans of the damned. In the mean time the slaves of the fiends—shades who are neither worthy of happiness nor damnation—prepared the immeasurable tables for the banquet; and they deserved to be under the thraldom of such a task. When they were yet in flesh and blood, and ate the fruits of the earth, they were of that equivocal kind, who seem the friends of all men and yet are the friends of none; whose tongues continually prattle of the noble precepts of virtue, which they feel not in their hearts; who only abstain from evil because it is accompanied by danger, and from doing good because it requires courage and self-denial; who traffic with religion, and, like avaricious Jews, lay out their capital at interest, for the purpose of securing a comfortable berth for their miserable souls; and who worship God from fear, and tremble before Him like slaves.
The devils, who, to say the truth, are no better masters than the Polish, Livonian, and Hungarian nobility, drove them about in hell at a furious rate. Others were sweating in the infernal kitchen, and cooking the meal for their haughty lords—an unpleasant service for a soul which had once supported its own human body by eating and drinking. For although the devils originally neither ate nor drank, yet they had learnt from men the custom of celebrating every solemnity by means of the glass and platter; and on such occasions they feast on souls. The general of each legion (for hell is arranged on a military footing, and in this respect resembles every despotic government, or rather every despotic government in this respect resembles hell) chooses a certain number of damned souls, as food for his subalterns. These are delivered over to the slaves, who stew, broil, and baste them with infernal sauce. It frequently happens that these wretches have to stick their own wives, daughters, fathers, sons, or brothers upon the spits, and to keep up the purgatorial fire beneath them; a truly horrible and tragic employment, rendered yet more so, since their overseer, a capricious devil, like all understrappers of great lords, stands behind them with a whip in order to expedite the work. On the present occasion two popes, a conqueror, a celebrated philosopher, and a recently canonised saint, were intended to feast the palates of Satan, his viziers, and his favourites. Abundance of fresh victuals had just arrived for the common people. The pope had a little time before set by the ears two armies of French, Italians, Spaniards, and Germans, in order to fish up in the tumult certain districts, to add to the patrimony of St. Peter. They fought like heroes, and fell by thousands into the infernal regions. What happiness would it be for the souls intended for these devilish repasts, if they were thereby to find an end to their torments! But no sooner are they swallowed, digested, and returned piecemeal into the pools of hell than they are regenerated, and arise to become the patients of new suffering.
While these victims were writhing on the spits, the cellarers and butlers, slaves of the above-mentioned order, decked out the sideboards. The flasks were filled with tears of hypocrites, of would-be saints, of pretenders to sensibility, and of persons who repent from weakness of soul; with tears which envy squeezes out on hearing of another's prosperity; with tears of egotists who weep for joy because they themselves have escaped the misfortunes by which others are overwhelmed; and of sons who weep over the palls of their harsh and avaricious fathers. The flasks on the supper-table were filled with the tears of priests, who, like actors, play a part in the pulpit, in order to move their auditors; and to give the liquor a sharper flavour, it was mingled with tears of courtesans, who walk the streets weeping for hunger, until some inexperienced youth barters his dollar with them for sin. Reserved for Satan and his princes stood, on various sideboards, flasks of the noblest drink. This was heady and foaming, being a mixture of the tears of monarchs, who weep for the misery of their subjects, whilst they issue commands only calculated to perpetuate it; of the tears of maidens who weep for the loss of their chastity with streaming eyes; and of the tears of favourites who have fallen into disgrace, and now weep because they can no longer rob and oppress under the protection of their masters.
No sooner had the slaves decked the table, and stationed themselves behind the chairs of their masters, than the grandees poured forth from the chambers of Satan. The furies went foremost; the body-guards followed them, and were succeeded by the chamberlains. Then came pages bearing lighted torches, woven out of the souls of monks who entrap wives, and press round the deathbed of husbands to force them to leave their property to the Church, without reflecting that their own illegitimate spawn must beg for bread through the land. Then came Satan himself, closely followed by the remaining nobility of his court, according to their rank and favour. The devils bowed their heads in reverence, the pages placed the torches upon the table of their sovereign; while Satan, with a triumphant air, mounted his high throne, and delivered the following speech:
"Princes, potentates, immortal spirits, welcome! thrice welcome! Rapturous emotions glow through me when I cast my eyes along your squadrons of countless heroes. We are yet what we were when, for the first time, we awoke in this pool from the stunning consequences of our fall, and for the first time assembled here. Only one feeling still rules,—unanimity alone maintains her sway, and in this place only do all devote themselves to the same end. He who has the happiness of commanding you may easily forget all other glory. I own we have suffered, and still suffer, much, especially since the full exercise of our powers is restrained. But in the feeling of the vengeance which we take on the sons of dust,—in the contemplation of their madness and crimes, by which they continually thwart the purposes of their being,—lies a recompense for our suffering. Welcome, thrice welcome, all ye whom this sentiment inflames.
"Hear now the occasion of the festival which I intend this day to celebrate with you. Faustus, a daring mortal, who, like us, is at war with the Eternal, and who, through the strength of his spirit, may at some future period be deemed worthy to dwell along with us here, has discovered the art of multiplying, on an easy principle, a thousand and a thousandfold, those things denominated books,—those dangerous toys of men,—those vehicles of delusion, of error, of lies, and of horror,—those sources of pride and of painful doubt. Until now they have been too costly, and only in the hands of the rich, whom they filled with fancies, and from whom they chased that humility which God had for their happiness infused into their hearts. Triumph! Soon will the poison of knowledge and inquiry be communicated to all classes. New cravings, new wants, will arise; and I doubt whether my enormous kingdom will be able to contain all those who will destroy themselves by this delicious poison. But this were only a slight victory: my eye pierces deeper into that distant period, which is to us no more than an hour is to man. Soon will cavillers and haters of the established Church spread about like the plague: pretended reformers of heaven and earth will arise, and their doctrines, from the facility of communication, will penetrate even into the hut of the beggar. They will think to do good, and to purify the object of their hope from falsehood. But, if men begin well, how long do they continue to act so! Sin is not more inseparable from them than are ill consequences from their noblest pursuits. The well-beloved people of God, whom he endeavoured to snatch from evil by the sacrifice of his only Son, will quarrel about tenets which no one understands, and will tear each other to pieces like wild-beasts. Horrible atrocities, surpassing all the abominations perpetrated by men since they first sprung into existence, will desolate unhappy Europe. My hopes appear to you too bold,—I read it in your doubting countenances; but listen to me whilst I explain. Religious disagreements will give rise to these frenzies. Then first will Fanaticism, the wild son of Hatred and Superstition, untie all the bonds of nature and humanity. The father will murder the son, and the son the father; kings will joyfully dip their fingers in the blood of their subjects, and place the sword in the hands of bigots, in order that they may slaughter their brothers by thousands, because their opinions are different. Then will the water of the rivers turn into streams of blood, and the shrieks of the murdered will shake hell to its very centre. We shall see wretches come down to us stained with crimes for which we have had hitherto neither names nor punishments. Already do I see them attack the papal chair, which keeps together the fragile fabric through treachery and deceit, whilst it undermines itself through crime and luxury. The great props of the religion which we dread give way; and, if the sinking structure be not sustained by means of new miracles, it will disappear from the face of the earth, and we shall once more shine in the temples as worshiped divinities. Where will the spirit of man stop, when he has once undertaken to illumine that which he formerly honoured as a mystery? He will dance on the grave of the tyrant, at whose frown he the day before trembled. He will break to pieces the altar on which he lately sacrificed, if he once endeavour to find the way to heaven by his own wisdom. Will the Creator take home to himself a human being, who is not a million times more allied to us than to him? Man abuses every thing, even the strength of his soul as well as of his body. He abuses all that he sees, hears, feels, or thinks; and all with which he trifles, or with which he is seriously engaged. Not content with deforming whatever he can seize with his hands, he soars upon the wings of imagination into worlds to him unknown, and arrays them in ideal deformity. Even freedom, the noblest of his treasures, to obtain which he has shed rivers of blood, he readily sells for gold and pleasure, before he has tasted its sweets. Incapable of good, he yet trembles at evil, he heaps horror upon horror to escape it, and then destroys his own handiwork.
"After the bloodshed of war, mankind, wearied with slaughter, will take a few moments' repose, and then their venomous hatred will be displayed in petty and private bickerings. Some, indeed, will every now and then raise piles of wood and fagot, and burn those alive who disagree with them in religion; others will attempt the solution of inexplicable riddles; and those born for darkness will dare to struggle for light; their imaginations will become inflamed, and their desires insatiable. Truth, simplicity, and religion will be trodden under foot, for the sake of writing a book. Yes, yes, book-writing will become a universal employment, by which fools and men of genius will alike seek fame and emolument; caring very little whether they confuse the heads of their fellow-creatures, and hurl firebrands into the hearts of the innocent. The heaven, the earth, the secret strength of nature, the dark causes of her phenomena, the power which rules the stars and bowls the comets through space,—every thing visible and invisible,—they will wish to handle, measure, and dive into. They will invent, for all that is incomprehensible, words and numbers; and heap system upon system, till they have brought deeper darkness upon the earth, through which doubt, like the fen-fire, will only shine to allure the wanderer into the morass. Only then will they think to see clearly, and then I expect them. After they have shovelled away religion, and are forced, out of the remains, to patch together a new and monstrous mixture of human wisdom and superstition, then I expect them. And then open wide the gates of hell, that the race of man may enter. The first step is already taken; the second is near. But this must be preceded by a horrible revolution upon the face of the earth. Soon will the inhabitants of the old world emigrate, for the purpose of discovering new, and to them unknown, regions of the globe. They will there attack and slaughter millions, to possess themselves of that gold which the innocents value not. They will fill this new world with all their crimes, and then return with materials for corrupting even the old one. Thus will nations become our prey, whom till now innocence and ignorance have protected from us. And thus shall we, by the assistance of the favourites of heaven, triumph.
"This, then, O potentates! is what I wished to communicate to you; and now rejoice with me over this mighty day, and enjoy in anticipation the victory which I, who know men, promise you. Long live Faustus!"
With horrible uproar, which made the axis of the earth tremble, and the bones of the dead rattle in their coffins, the devils shouted, "Long live Faustus!" "Long live the corrupter of the sons of dust!" Hereupon the chief nobility of the kingdom were permitted to kiss the hand of his Satanic majesty.
The triumphant devils now sat down to table, and fell upon the prepared meal. The goblets clattered, the souls were craunched between their iron teeth; and they drank the health of Satan, of Faustus, of the clergy, of the tyrants of the earth, and of future and living authors, amidst the clang of hellish artillery. In order to render the banquet more magnificent, the masters of the revels went to the pools, drew out the burning souls, and chased them over the tables, to illumine the gloomy scene; while they ran behind the wretches with poisoned whips, forcing them to caper; and sparks ascended to the blackened roofs, crackling like wheat-sheaves ignited by lightning in an autumn storm. That the devils might have music to their meat, others hastened to the pools, and poured molten metal amid the flames, so that the damned howled and cursed in grisly despair. If priests now could, instead of their cold and fruitless sermons about penitence, give a specimen upon earth of these horrid cries, sinners would quickly turn a deaf ear to the voluptuous warblings of castrati, and join in some pious psalm: but, alas, hell is distant, and pleasure close at hand. After the banquet a great stage was erected, and various plays were performed, founded on the heroic deeds of Satan; for example, the Fall of Man, the Betrayal of Judas Iscariot, &c.
The performance was then suddenly changed to an allegorical ballet. The scene was a wild and dreary spot. In a dark cavern sat Metaphysics, in the shape of an Egyptian mummy, whose eyes were fixed upon five glittering words, which flitted continually backwards and forwards, and at each change had a different import. The mummy ceased not to follow them with its stony eyes; while in a corner stood a little roguish devil, who incessantly blew bubbles of air into its face. Pride, the amanuensis of Metaphysics, gathered the bubbles up as they fell, pressed the air out, and kneaded them into hypotheses. The mummy was clothed in an Egyptian waistcoat, embroidered with mystic characters. Over this it wore a Grecian mantle, which ought to have concealed the characters, but was much too short and too narrow for that purpose. Its legs, thighs, and body, were cased in long loose drawers, which did not, however, entirely conceal its nakedness. A huge doctorial hat covered its bald head, which was marked with the scratches worn by its long nails in provoking deep reflection. Its shoes were made after the European fashion, and sprinkled with the finest dust of the schools and universities. After it had gazed a considerable time on the moving words, without being able to understand them, its attendant, Pride, gave the wink to Delusion, who was walking near. He seized a wooden trumpet, and sounded a dance. No sooner did the mummy hear the noise than it took Pride by the hand, and danced about with antic gambols; but its thin withered legs could not bear this long, and it soon sunk breathless into its former posture.
Then came forward Morality, a fine female form, hooded in a veil, which, chameleon-like, sported all colours. She held Virtue and Vice by the hands, and danced a trio with them. For music, a naked savage played upon an oaten pipe, a European philosopher scraped the fiddle, while an Asiatic beat the drum; and although these contradictory tones would have distracted an harmonious ear, yet the dancers did not once lose the step,—so well had they learnt their parts. When the maiden gave Vice her hand, she coquetted and languished significantly before him; but when she gave it to Virtue, she moved along with the modest gait of a matron. After the dance, she reposed upon a thin, transparent, and beautifully-painted cloud, which her admirers had woven out of various shreds and remnants.
Next appeared nude Poetry: she danced with Sensuality a characteristic dance, to which Imagination played the flute d'amour.
History then advanced upon the stage. Before her went Fame, with a long brazen trumpet. She herself was hung round with stories of murders, poisonings, perjuries, conspiracies, and other horrors. Behind her panted, beneath a prodigious load of chronicles, diplomas, and documents, a strong nervous man, clothed in the German fashion. She danced with Slavery, to the rustling of the stories with which she was hung. Falsehood at length took the trumpet from the mouth of Fame, and tuned it to the dance; and Flattery led the figures.
Then appeared Medicine and Quackery, and were received with loud laughter: they danced a minuet, to which Death clinked the music with a purse of gold.
After them were seen Astrology, Cabala, Theosophy, and Mysticism. They grasped each other by the hands, and whirled around in intricate figures; while Superstition, Delusion, and Fraud stood near, and blew the bagpipes.
These were followed by Jurisprudence, a sleek, rosy-faced dame, fed with fees, and hung about with commentaries—she coughed through a tedious solo; and Chicanery played the bass-viol.
Last of all entered Policy, in a triumphant car drawn by two mares, Weakness and Deceit. On her right sat Theology, holding in one hand a sharp-pointed dagger, and in the other a blazing torch. Policy herself wore a golden crown upon her head, and supported a sceptre over her right shoulder. She descended from the car, and danced with Theology a pas-de-deux, to which Cunning, Ambition, and Tyranny played on soft tinkling instruments. After she had finished the pas-de-deux, she made all the other figures a sign to begin a general dance. They immediately obeyed, and sprang about in wild confusion. All the before-mentioned musicians played on their instruments, and raised a din, only surpassed in loudness by the table-music of Satan. Yet Contention soon insinuated herself among the unsuspicious dancers; and, animated by Zeal and Fury, they hastily snatched up weapons. When Theology perceived that all embraced delightful Poetry, and that Morality wished to tear off her own veil, in order to cover her with it, she gave the latter a thrust with a poniard from behind, and singed the nude and tender Poetry with her flaming torch. Both raised a dreadful shriek: Policy commanded silence, and Quackery hastened to bind up the wound of Morality, whilst Medicine cut a shred from her robe in payment. Death stretched out his claw from under the mantle of thievish Medicine to seize Morality, but Policy gave him such a blow that he yelled aloud, and grinned most hideously. Poetry was allowed to hop about, because she was naked, and had nothing to be despoiled of. At length History took pity on her, and laid upon the burn a wet leaf from a sentimental romance. Policy then tied them all behind her chariot, and drove away in triumph.
All hell expressed approbation of this last spectacle by reiterated clappings; and Satan embraced the devil Leviathan for having got up the entertainment, which flattered him exceedingly, it being one of his chief whims to be reckoned by the fiends as the inventor of the sciences. He often said, in his pride, that he had begotten them in his intercourse with the daughters of earth, in order to divert men from the straightforward and noble feelings of their hearts; to remove from their eyes the mystic veil which constitutes their happiness; to make them acquainted with their state of restriction and weakness; and to fill them with painful doubt concerning their after destination. "I taught them," he would continue, "by their means, to reason, so that they might forget to practise virtue, and to worship. We ourselves have defied Heaven with bold and open weapons, and I have at least shown them the way of skirmishing incessantly with the Eternal."
The sensible reader will here pause, and admire the strict resemblance of all courts to each other: that is, how the great, through the service, toil, and sweat of the little, win the favour of their sovereigns, and bear away the rewards. Leviathan gave himself out as the inventor of this allegorical ballet, and was on that account thanked and caressed, although the real author of it was the Bavarian Poet Laureate, who a short time before had died of hunger, and found his way to hell. He prepared the ballet after the latest court-fashion, by the command of Prince Leviathan, who had at least talent enough to discover merit: the reason of his bitter allusions to the sciences was, probably, because they had so ill supported him; and perhaps Leviathan, who knew perfectly well what would please Satan, had given him a hint to that effect. Be this as it may, the devil had the reward, and the thin shade of the Bavarian Laureate sat cowering behind a rock of the theatre, and observed with bitterest agony the marks of unmerited favour which Satan had lavished on Leviathan.
The half-intoxicated devils now became so clamorous as nearly to drown the howls of the damned; when suddenly the powerful voice of Faustus echoed from the upper world through hell. He had at length surmounted every obstacle, and now summoned before him one of the first princes of the kingdom of darkness.
Satan started up in ecstasy: "It is Faustus who calls there. No one else has the power; and no one else, if he had such power, would dare to knock so loudly against the iron portals. Up! up! a man like him is worth a thousand of the scoundrels who come down hither every day by rote." Then, turning to the devil Leviathan, his favourite, he added, "I choose thee, the subtlest seducer, the deadliest hater of the human race, to ascend and purchase for me, by thy dangerous services, the soul of this desperado. Only thou canst chain, satiate, and then, drive to despair, his craving heart and his proud and restless spirit. Quick, quick! ascend! dispel the vapours of school-wisdom from his brain. Consume with the fire of voluptuousness the noble feelings of his heart. Disclose to him the treasures of nature, and hurry him into life, that he may the sooner grow tired of it. Let him see evil arise from good, vice rewarded, justice and innocence trodden under foot, as is the custom of men. Conduct him through the wild and terrible scenes of human life; let him mistake its aim, and lose among its horrors the guiding thread of virtue. And when he stands separated from all natural and heavenly ties, in doubt concerning the noble destination of his race,—when even pleasure and enjoyment have left him, and the inward worm awakes,—then depict to him, with infernal bitterness, the consequences of his deeds and delusions, and unfold to him all their links, extending to remotest generations. If despair should then seize him, hurl him down, and return in triumph to hell."
Leviathan. Wherefore, O Satan, dost thou impose this work upon me? Thou knowest that I have long ago had enough of men, and of their playground,—the world. What is to be made out of wretches who, as thou hast observed, have strength neither for good nor evil? Gold, ambition, or pleasure, can quickly make rascals of them, who have for a short period pursued the phantom virtue; and if any one should move boldly at first along the path of vice, he will be driven back when half-way by the spectres of his crazy imagination. If, indeed, it were a proud hot-headed Spaniard, a revengeful assassinating Italian, or even a wild lascivious Frenchman, whom you wanted me to catch—but a German, one of those thick-pated swine, who slavishly bend before rank, riches, and all the artificial distinctions of men, who believe that their lords and princes are made of superior materials to themselves, and have a right to dispose of them just as they please, either in fighting their own battles, or those of other sovereigns! Hast thou heard from them for centuries a single word of rebellion against tyranny, or of shedding blood for the rights of man? Not one of them has, as yet, come down to hell in glory; a proof that these people have no distinguished heads among them. Those are to my mind who wish to clear up every thing, who fight with the adamantine shield of individuality, against which all prejudices, earthly or heavenly, are shivered. Show me such a man who is willing to become great on earth at the expense of his soul, and I will immediately ascend.
Satan. Shall devils, O Leviathan, be blinded by prejudice, like the sons of dust? I tell thee, the man after our own heart is born under that district of heaven. He is one of those who, endued by nature with hot and furious passions, rebel against all the old-established customs of society. When such a spirit tears its way through these cobwebs, it resembles a flame, which, by its own fury, speedily consumes the materials which feed its lustre. He is one of those visionary philosophers who strive to seize, through imagination, what is denied to cold understanding; and who, if they are unsuccessful, laugh at all knowledge, and make pleasure and enjoyment their gods. Away, away, Leviathan! soon shall a fire break out in Germany which will spread through all Europe. Already is the germ of that delusion springing up which shall endure for centuries. What the German has once caught, he will not easily let go.
The commanding voice of Faustus now resounded for the second time. Satan continued:
"Thou mayst know by this call that he is no trembler. Hasten to him, for, if thou delayest, perhaps he may doubt the strength of his charms, and hell will lose the fruits of his temerity. Truly, the fellow is such a genius, that I can almost overlook his origin."
The devil Leviathan angrily replied: "I swear, by the hot and foul pool of the damned, that the rebel shall one day blaspheme, and curse this and the hour of his birth."
He went away wrapt in a veil of smoke, and the fiends pursued him with loud huzzas.
Faustus stood within the magic circle, while his breast swelled with rage. For the third time he repeated the dreadful formula, in a voice that resembled thunder. The door suddenly flew open; a thick vapour hovered around the margin of the circle; he struck into it with his magic rod, and cried in triumph, "Unveil thyself, thou thing of darkness!" The vapour dispersed, and Faustus saw a tall figure concealed beneath a red mantle.
Faustus. Why this tedious disguise to one who wishes to see thee? Discover thyself to him, who fears thee not in whatever shape thou mayst appear.
The Devil flung back his mantle, and stood in a daring and majestic attitude before the circle. His fiery eyes sparkled from beneath their black brows, between which malice, hatred, fury, agony, and scorn had formed themselves in thick folds. These furrows were sunk in a smooth, clear, high-arched forehead, which contrasted strangely with the fiendish marks between the eyes. A finely-formed aquiline nose inclined towards a mouth which seemed to have been framed only for the enjoyment of immortal things. He had the mien of a fallen angel, whose countenance was once illuminated by the Godhead, but which was now obscured by a gloomy veil.
Faustus (in surprise). Is man, then, every where at home? Who art thou?
Devil. I am a prince of hell, and come because thy mighty call compels me.
Faustus. A prince of hell under this mask; under the figure of a man! I wished for a fiend, and not one of my own race.
Devil. Perhaps, Faustus, we are most so when we resemble ye; at least, no mask suits us better. Besides, is it not your custom to conceal what ye are, and to appear what ye are not?
Faustus. Bitter enough, and yet true as bitter; for, if our outsides looked like our insides, we should not be very different from that which we imagine you to be; still, I expected to see thee more terrible, and even hoped that thy appearance would try the strength of my courage.
Devil. Thus do ye always imagine things contrary to what they are. Probably you expected a devil with horns and a cloven foot, as the cowardly age has depicted him. But since you have ceased to worship the powers of nature, they have forsaken you, and you can no longer conceive any thing great. If I were to stand before thee such as I really am,—my eyes threatening comets, my body a dark, hovering cloud, which shoots lightning from its gloom, in my hand the sword which I once brandished against the Avenger, and on my arm the ponderous shield which his thunder pierced,—thou wouldst become a heap of ashes in thy circle.
Faustus. But then I should at least see something great.
Devil. I might admire your courage; but you are never more ridiculous than in these would-be grand bursts of feeling, when you contrast the little you can embrace with the monstrous and great which are so high above you. Thus may the worm measure the trampling elephant, and reckon his weight in the moment when it dies beneath his powerful foot.
Faustus. Mocker! and what, then, is the spirit within me, which, if it once get fairly on the ladder, will mount from step to step into infinity? What are its limits?
Devil. The length of your own nose. But, if you called me out of hell merely for this chit-chat, permit me to return for ever. I have long known your inclination to prate about that which you do not understand.
Faustus. Thy bitterness pleases me; it chimes in with my humour, and I should like to be better acquainted with thee. What is thy name?
Devil. Leviathan; which signifies all, for I can do all.
Faustus. Hear the braggart! Are devils, then, so boastful?
Devil. 'Twas said merely to do honour to the shape in which thou seest me: but words are vain. Set me to the proof. What dost thou require?
Faustus. Require? What an indefinite word for a devil! If thou art what thou seemest, anticipate desires, and gratify them ere they become wishes.
Devil. The noble steed champs the bit in fury when curbed by a timid rider: how he then resembles the man who feels wings that could bear him into light, yet who is kept down in the dark abyss! Faustus, thou art one of those fiery spirits who are not contented with the scanty meal of knowledge which Omniscience has set before them. Great is thy strength, mighty is thy soul, and bold thy will; but the curse of finite reason lies upon thee, as it does upon all. Faustus, thou art as great as man can be.
Faustus. Masquerading fiend, return into hell; must thou, too, deceive us by flattery?
Devil. Faustus, I am a spirit formed of flaming light; I saw the monstrous worlds arise out of nothing: thou art of dust, and of yesterday. Do I flatter thee?
Faustus. And yet must thou serve me if I command.
Devil. For that I expect the approbation of hell, besides a reward; neither man nor devil will work for nothing.
Faustus. What reward dost thou expect?
Devil. To have that which animates thee; that which would make thee my equal if it had power.
Faustus. I were well off then, truly; yet, adept as thou art, thou knowest little of men, if thou doubtest the strength of one who has set himself free from the bonds which nature has drawn so tightly round our hearts. How gentle did they appear to me once, when the eye of my youth clothed men and the world in the pure colours of morning! 'Tis gone; dark is my horizon; I stand on the gloomy verge of eternity, and have broken through the laws which keep the human race in harmony.
Devil. What madness is this, Faustus? Harmony! does she rule the confused dance of life?
Faustus. Silence! I feel it perhaps for the last time; and perhaps look back for the last time upon the pleasant, joyous days of youth. How lamentable that man must awake from this dream of bliss; that the plant must shoot up, in order to wither away as a tree, or be felled! Ha, demon, smile; I was once happy. But let that be forgotten which can never be recalled. Yes, we have only strength when we pursue wickedness. But wherein am I great? If I were so, should I want thee? Go, cunning flatterer; thou wilt only make me feel my own littleness.
Devil. He who is capable of feeling where the shoe pinches him, and has courage enough to tear away the cause of it, is at least great so far. More I will not say, and woe to thee if I were to stimulate thee with words.
Faustus. Observe me now, and tell me what my spirit requires, but what I dare not utter.
At these words Faustus pointed to himself, then towards the heavens, and moved his magic staff towards the east and the west. He then continued, "Thou wast, when nothing was." He laid his hand upon his breast and forehead: "Here is darkness; let it be dispelled."
Devil. Desperate man! full well I know thy wish, and tremble, devil as I am, at thy boldness.
Faustus. Wretched spirit! thou shalt not escape by this subterfuge. In my burning thirst I would undertake to drink dry the deep sea, if I hoped to find at its bottom what I sought. I am thine, or another's: I yet stand where no devil can penetrate. Faustus is yet his own master.
Devil. Thou wast so a few minutes since. But thy lot was cast when thou enteredst this circle. Whoever has looked me in the face turns back in vain; and thus I leave thee.
Faustus. Thou shalt speak, and remove the dark covering which conceals from me the world of spirits. I will know the destination of man, and the cause of moral evil in the world; I will know wherefore virtue suffers, and vice is rewarded; I will know why we must purchase a moment's enjoyment by years of agony and sorrow. Thou shalt disclose to me the source of things, and the mysterious causes of the phenomena of the physical and moral world. Thou shalt make Him, who has arranged all, comprehensible to me—yes! even if the vivid lightnings, which at this moment shoot from thy demon eyes, were to stretch me lifeless in this circle of damnation. Dost thou think that I have summoned thee merely for pleasure and gold? Any dastard may fill his belly, and satiate the desires of the flesh. Thou tremblest! Have I more courage than thyself? What quaking devil has hell vomited out? And thou callest thyself Leviathan, who canst do all! Away, away! thou art no fiend, but a miserable thing like myself.
Devil. Madman! thou hast not yet felt, as I have, the vindictiveness of the Avenger, the anticipation of which alone would make thee return to dust, even if thou didst bear in thy bosom the united strength of men from the first to the last sinner. Urge me no farther.
Faustus. I will, and am resolved.
Devil. Thou inspirest me with reverence and pity.
Faustus. Obedience is all I require.
Devil. Go to war with him who has lighted up a torch within thee which will consume thee, if fear do not extinguish it.
Faustus. I have done so, and in vain. Obey!
Devil. Insatiable man! But know that a devil has his bounds too. Since our fall, we have lost the idea of these sublime secrets, and forget even the language to express them. The pure spirits of yonder world can alone sing and imagine them.
Faustus. Dost thou think by this crafty excuse to cheat me of that which I desire?
Devil. Fool! I would wish for no better revenge upon thee than to be able to paint to thy soul, in the glittering colours of Paradise, all that thou hast lost, and then see thee writhe in despair. Knew I more than I know, can the tongue formed of flesh make intelligible to the ear of flesh what lies beyond the bounds of sense, and the disembodied spirit only comprehends?
Faustus. Then be a spirit, and speak! Shake off this figure.
Devil. Wilt thou then understand me?
Faustus. Shake off this figure, and let me see thee as a spirit.
Devil. Thy words are folly. Now, then, see me: I shall exist, but not for thee; I shall speak, but thou wilt not catch my meaning.
Leviathan then melted into a thin clear flame, and disappeared.
Faustus. Speak, and unfold the enigma.
As the soft west wind moves along the perfumed meadows and gently kisses the tender flowers, so did it murmur around the ears of Faustus. Then the murmur changed to a loud continued tumult, which resembled the rolling of thunder, or the dash of a breaker against the coral reef, or its howl and bellow in the caves of the ocean. Faustus crept close within his circle, and with difficulty supported himself.
Faustus. Ah, if this be the language of spirits, my dream has vanished; I am deceived, and must gnash my teeth in darkness. I have, then, exchanged my soul for the gratification of earthly lust! for that is all in which this intriguing devil can assist me. That is all against which I risked eternity! I thought to move among men enlightened as no one had ever yet been, and to dazzle them with my glory like the rising sun. The sublime thought of living for ever as the greatest in their hearts is gone; and I am more wretched than I was. Where art thou, trickster, that I may vent my fury upon thee?
Devil (in his former figure). Here I am. I spoke, and thou didst not understand the sense of my words. Dost thou not feel that thou art born for darkness? Thou canst not become that which thou must not. Withdraw thy mind from impossibilities, and direct it to what is attainable. Thou wishedst to hear the language of spirits; thou heardst it, and wert stunned and deafened by the sound.
Faustus. Provoke but my wrath, and I will bruise thee to tears with my magic rod. I will chain thee to the rim of my circle, and then stamp on thy neck.
Devil. Do it, and hell will laugh at thy anger. For every tear thou makest me shed, Despair shall one day wring a drop of blood from thy brow, and Revenge shall hold the scales to catch and weigh it.
Faustus. How revolting to a noble creature like myself to hold converse with an outcast, who has only sense for wickedness, and will only assist in wickedness!
Devil. How disgusting to be forced to listen to a man who reproaches the Devil because he is a devil, and does not boast of that shadow, Virtue, like one of you!
Faustus. Vain boast. If thou couldst but taste the moral value of man, by which he approaches the immortal, and which makes him worthy of immortality!
Devil. I can prove that it does not exist.
Faustus. Yes; I believe thou canst. And so can any one of us who makes the measure of his own wickedness that of all mankind, and who makes that virtue contemptible which he has never felt in his breast. We have had philosophers who in this matter have long had the start of the Devil.
Devil. Better if thou hadst never read them; thy head would then have been more clear, and thy heart more sound.
Faustus. Damnation! Is the Devil always right?
Devil. I will show you that which those philosophers only talk of. I will blow away from your eyes the clouds which pride, vanity, and self-love have collected, and so charmingly coloured.
Faustus. How wilt thou accomplish that?
Devil. By conducting thee through the theatre of the world, and showing thee men in their nakedness. Let us travel by water, by land, on foot, on horseback, on the rapid winds, and see the race of man. Perhaps we may discover that for which so many thousand adventurers have broken their necks.
Faustus. Agreed. Let us go through the world; I must intoxicate myself by variety and enjoyment; and I have long wished for a broader sphere of observation than my own wild heart. Let us go forth, and I will force the Devil to believe in human virtue. He shall avow to me that man is the eye-apple of Him whom I now no more must name.
Devil. Then will I return to hell a convicted liar, and give thee back the bond which thou wilt presently sign with thy blood.
Faustus. But if I were to trust a devil, who might palm upon me his own fiendish performances for the works of men, how would the scoffer laugh?
Devil. Such a monkish notion I should not have expected from one who has so long toyed with philosophy; but in this ye are all alike, fools and wise men. If any thing goes wrong, pride and self-love will never permit you to lay the blame on yourselves. Observe now those two words, Good and Evil, which you would fain stamp into ideas; for when you have words, you always think you have coined the empty sound into a thought. You labour with your eyes closed, and when you open them it is but natural that the good should be your own work, and the evil that of the Devil. Thus, then, must we poor devils ride about day and night, in order to turn to this or that piece of roguery the heart or the imagination of this or that scoundrel, who, if it had not been for us, would have remained an honest fellow. Faustus! Faustus! man seeks abroad and in the clouds a thousand things which lie in his own bosom, or before his face. No; during our tour I will add to nothing, except thou command me. All that thou seest shall be the work of men; and thou wilt soon perceive that they do not require the Devil to incite them.
Faustus. And is this all that thou canst afford me?
Devil. I will lead you from step to step; when we have run through this course, another scene will immediately open. Get first acquainted with that which surrounds thee, and then mount upwards. The treasures of the earth are thine; thou mayst command my power: do but dream—do but wish.
Faustus. That is something.
Devil. Only something! Discontented being, thou shalt be able to force Leviathan to further the projects which thou callest good and noble, and the consequences of them shall be thy earnings, and the reward of thy heart.
Faustus. That were more, if the Devil did not say it.
Devil. Who can boast that he has forced the fiend to do good? However, let this thought inflate thy bosom. Faustus, step out of the circle!
Faustus. It is not yet time.
Devil. Dost thou fear me? I repeat, thou shalt spend the moments allotted to thee according to thy own pleasure: yes, Faustus, I will fill for thee the intoxicating cup of enjoyment, as it has never been filled for any other mortal. Thy nerves shall wear away before thou hast emptied it. Count the sands of the shore, and thence thou mayst guess the number of joys that I will strew before thee.
Thereupon he placed a casket of gold near the circle. The figures of the mayoress and a train of lovely maidens then passed by.
Faustus. Ha, devil, who has showed thee the way to my heart?
Devil. Is not my name Leviathan? I have weighed thee, and thy strength. Dost thou respect these?
(He shook upon the ground, from a sack, a quantity of orders of knighthood, bishops' hats, crosses of honour, and diplomas of nobility.)
"No, no; I know Faustus better: knowledge and pleasure are his gods. Remain what you are; these things are vain and futile. Thus, by different bribes may ye all be won; and for the sake of lust or advancement, ye would work bare your hands and your intellects. But, whilst fools toil for them in the sweat of their brow, and in the exhaustion of their mind, do thou enjoy, without care or labour, what I shall serve up. To-morrow, with thy consent, I will conduct thee to the mayoress."
Faustus. But how?
Devil. Accept the conditions, and I will tell thee. Come out of the circle; thou lookest still like a drunken man.
Faustus. I would annihilate myself if it were not for one thought!
Devil. Which is—
Faustus. That I shall only thereby sooner fall into thy power.
Devil. How rash and hasty are men! Learn but to know me, and, if I cannot gratify thy wildest earthly desires, return to poverty, to contempt, and thy starving philosophy. Step forth, I say.
Faustus. The fury of a lion inflames me, and, if hell were to yawn beneath my foot, I would spring beyond the limits of humanity.
He sprang out of the circle, and cried,
"I am thy lord."
Devil. Yes; as long as thy time runs. I lead a mighty man by the hand, and am proud to be his slave.
On the following morning the devil Leviathan came with all the pomp and retinue of a nobleman to the inn where Faustus sojourned. He alighted from his richly caparisoned steed, and asked the host whether the famous Faustus sojourned there?
The host replied by a reverential bow, and ushered him into the house. The Devil then advanced to Faustus, and said to him, in the presence of the host:
"Your renown, your great talents, and, above all, your mighty invention, have induced me to make a wide circuit in my journey in order to become acquainted with so remarkable a man, whom the world, in spite of its lukewarmness, knows how to value. I came, likewise, to request your company in the tour of Europe, and shall be happy to accede to whatever stipulations you may choose to make, for I am perfectly aware that such a pleasure is above all price."
Faustus played his part agreeably to that of the Devil; and the host hurried out in order to relate the adventure to his household. The rumour was immediately spread, by a thousand channels, through all Frankfort; and the arrival of the distinguished stranger was soon known, from the sentinel at the city-gate to his most worshipful the mayor himself. Away ran the magistrates, as if the Devil drove them, to the senate-house, leaving all the weighty affairs of state to remain unsettled whilst they consulted about this unexpected apparition. The senior alderman, a patrician, who was particularly expert in deciphering the meaning of the signs which occasionally appeared in the political horizon, and had thereby obtained a powerful ascendency in the council, pressed his fat chin into furrows, and his narrow brow into wrinkles, and, with reflection in his little eyes, assured his sapient brethren that "This distinguished stranger was nothing else than a secret envoy of his imperial majesty, who was come into Germany to observe attentively the situation, the comparative strength, the disagreements, and the alliances, of the various states and princes; so that the high and mighty court, at the opening of the approaching Diet, might know how to comport itself. And since the imperial court had always kept a watchful eye upon their republic, they must now endeavour to convince this distinguished visitor of the fiery zeal which they had always entertained for the high imperial house, and not let him depart without winning him over to the interest of the state. That they must, in so doing, take as their pattern the prudent senate of Venice, who never failed to show the greatest friendship and honour towards him whom they intended to deceive."
The subordinate members of the assembly affirmed that the alderman had spoken like the Doge of Venice himself; but the mayor, who bore the alderman a secret grudge, because the latter, like a true patrician, hated the democratic form of government, and was accustomed to say, whenever he was outvoted, "Ha, thus it goes when tradesmen and shopkeepers are made statesmen," quickly took up the cudgels against him in these words:
"Truly laudable and excellent, most sapient masters, seems to me that which our most prudent and politic brother has now advanced, were it not for one single circumstance which unhappily spoils all. I, indeed, do not make a boast of possessing the deep visual penetration of the alderman,—a penetration, my brethren, which can spy out a storm before it arises; nevertheless, whether it be from chance or reflection, I have long foreseen, and have long foretold, that which is now gathering around us. You must all remember, that at each of our sittings I advised you not to treat this Faustus so contemptuously, but to purchase his Latin Bible for the small sum he demanded. Even my wife, who is a mere woman, like all other women, has frequently said that, although we ourselves neither understood nor could use the book, we ought nevertheless to have it; and, on account of the beautiful letters in the title-page, and of the curious invention, to make a show of it, as we do of our golden bull, and attract strangers from all parts. It was likewise fitting that a free and rich state like ours should protect the arts, and give them a helping hand. But I know very well what was in your minds; 'twas envy—sheer envy. You could not brook that my name should be rendered immortal. You could not digest that posterity should read in the chronicle, 'Sub consulatu . . . a Latin Bible was bought from Faustus of Mayence for two hundred gold guilders.' Yes, yes; 'twas that stuck in your gizzards; but, as you have brewed, so may you drink: Faustus is a devilish wild fellow, and a very strange hand to deal with; I saw that proved yesterday. And now that the imperial envoy has travelled hither merely on his account, merely on account of him whom we have treated worse than a poor cobbler, think ye not he will blow us up with the envoy out of revenge, and all our scrapings and grimaces will serve for nothing but to make us appear ridiculous before the citizens? But he who has driven his cart into the mire may draw it out again. I wash my hands of the whole business, and, like Pilate, am innocent of Israel's blindness and destruction."
Here followed a deep silence. The bloody battle of Cannae, which threatened Rome with ruin, did not terrify her senate more than did this eloquent philippic the enlightened magistracy of Frankfort. Already the mayor triumphed in proud anticipation: he thought even that he had hurled the alderman entirely out of his saddle; when the latter, collecting his political wisdom and heroic strength, hastened to the assistance of the sinking state, and bellowing aloud, ad majora, undauntedly proposed "immediately to send an embassy from the council to the hotel, in order to welcome the distinguished guest, and to offer Faustus four hundred gold guilders for his Latin Bible, and thereby to appease him, and to make him favourable to the state."
The mayor scoffed at the idea of giving four hundred gold guilders for a thing which the day before they might, in all probability, have had for one hundred; but his jeers and his scoffs availed nothing. "Salus populi suprema lex," cried the alderman; and, with the approbation of the council, he commanded the mayor to entertain Faustus and the envoy in the most sumptuous manner, at the expense of the state.
This circumstance consoled his worship, who willingly displayed his wealth, partly on account of his defeat by the alderman, while the concluding words, "at the expense of the state," put him in good humour. The junior alderman immediately set out with one of the four syndics, and the mayor sent to his house to order every thing proper for the festival. The devil Leviathan was engaged with Faustus in a deep discourse when these ambassadors were announced. They were instantly admitted. They welcomed, with all humility, in the name of the senate, the distinguished guest, and gave him to understand that his noble person, as well as his important errand, were well known to them; assuring him at the same time, in set terms, of their zeal and devotion for the high imperial house. The Devil, upon this, screwed up his features, turned to Faustus, took him by the hand, and assured the speakers that nothing had brought him to their town but the desire of removing from it this great man, whom he had no doubt they knew how to prize. The ambassadors were now somewhat disturbed; however, they soon recollected themselves, and continued thus:
"It rejoiced them highly that they could give him on the spot a convincing proof of the respect which the magistracy entertained for so great a man, as they were authorised to tender to Faustus four hundred gold guilders for his Latin Bible, which they had long been anxious to possess, and preserve as a precious treasure. The illustrious magistracy would also be most happy to enrol him, if it were agreeable, among the number of citizens, and thereby open to him the way to glory and emolument."
This last stroke was added by their own political wisdom; a proof that they, as skilful negotiators, knew how to supply and fill up every vacuum which had been at first overlooked.
Faustus started up in a fury, stamped on the ground, and cried:
"Base, lying, deceitful pack! How long did I not fawn upon you, from the proud patrician down to the shoemaker and the pepper-seller, around whose necks you hang the magisterial insignia, like halters around asses? And did ye not permit me to wait at your dirty thresholds without deigning me a single look? And now that you hear this noble personage sees that in me which you did not, you come and would pay me back in my own coin. But see, here is gold; for which you would barter the Holy Roman Empire, provided you could find fools gross enough to buy the huge, monstrous carcass, without head, sense, or proportion."
The Devil highly enjoyed the rage of Faustus and the downcast looks of the young senators; but they, who had never read Roman history, were not so high-spirited as to fling Faustus a declaration of war from beneath their closely-folded robes of office; on the contrary, they communicated the invitation to the mayor's festival in as unconcerned a tone as if nothing had happened,—a new proof of their expertness in negotiation. Had they, for example, replied to the insult, they would thereby have acknowledged that they felt the force of it; but when they let it fall flat upon the ground, as if it were nothing to any of them, it lost all its power, and assumed the colour of an unfair reproach. Genius alone is capable in such critical moments of like discrimination.
At the word "mayor," Faustus pricked up his ears, and the Devil gave him a significant side-glance. Faustus thereupon took the Bible from the casket, handed it over to the senators, and said, with some degree of complaisance,
"That, upon due consideration, he was determined to make the city a present of his Bible, on condition that they showed the sentence which he marked under, and of which he wrote a German translation on the margin, to the assembled magistrates; and, in remembrance of him, caused it to be written in letters of gold on the wall of the council-chamber."
The senators hastened back to their brethren, as delighted as envoys who, after a ruinous war, return with an advantageous peace. They were received with great joy, and, the Bible being opened at the appointed place, they read—
"And lo! the fools sat in council, and idiots clamoured in the judgment-chamber."
They swallowed this bitter pill, because the presumptive shadow of imperial majesty, in the form of the demon, prevented them from spitting it out. They comforted themselves with having been spared the four hundred gold guilders, and wished each other joy for having escaped so well out of this unpleasant affair. The envoys received a vote of thanks, and it is to be regretted that their names are not handed down to posterity. When at last they spoke of Faustus's well-filled money-chest, the glitter of gold darted like lightning through the souls of all, and each secretly determined to make the man his friend, in order to get possession of it. The alderman shouted, "We must make him a citizen, and give him a seat and voice in the council. Policy demands that we should overstep law and custom, if the advantage of the State depends upon it."
Faustus, in the mean time, strolled out with the Devil; but they found the people of the place modelled after so unsightly a pattern, with such ugly figures and fiat features, that the Devil owned he had never seen them equalled, except by the inhabitants of an English town called N—-, when dressed in their Sunday's best. "Envy, malice, curiosity, and avarice," said he, "are here and there the sole springs of action; and both places are governed by a pitiful mercantile spirit, which prevents them from being grandly wicked or nobly virtuous. In short, Faustus, there is little to be done in either place by a man of spirit, and we will hurry away from hence as soon as you have brought the mayoress to the point you wish her."
The clock sounded the hour of dinner; the Devil and Faustus, mounted upon noble horses, and attended by a numerous retinue, proceeded to the house of the mayor. They entered the hall of assembly, where all the magistrates awaited them, and, on their appearance, bowed before them even to the dust. The fat, bloated mayor, after a long speech, introduced them to the wives of the dignitaries of the corporation, whose figures, loaded with tawdry ornaments, seemed now to display a double portion of awkwardness and vulgarity. They stared like a flock of geese, and could not satiate themselves with looking at the dress and physiognomy of Leviathan; but the mayoress, a native of Saxony, towered above them all, like an Oriad. The expressive look of Faustus had attracted her attention, as well as his prepossessing figure, and his fine handsome face. She blushed when he saluted her, and could find no other answer to his eloquent address than a few broken words, which the ears of Faustus caught like enchanting music. The senators exerted their wits to the utmost in complimenting their guests, and all now sat down to the well-spread table. After dinner the Devil led the mayor by the hand to a private apartment,—a circumstance which flattered him extraordinarily, but which was a dagger-blow to all the other guests, especially to the alderman.
The mayor, heated with wine, and intoxicated with the honour which the supposed imperial envoy showed him, in a bending attitude and with staring eyes awaited the communication. The Devil assured him, in soft, silvery tones, how much he was flattered by the mayor's hospitable reception, and how very desirous he was to prove himself thankful; adding, that he carried with him a number of letters of nobility, signed by the emperor's own hand, and he would gladly bestow the first upon him, provided—
Joy, transport, and astonishment darted through the mayor's soul; he stood before the Devil with wide-gaping mouth, and at length stammered out, "Provided how—what—oh!" The Devil then murmured softly into his ear: "His friend Faustus was desperately in love with the beautiful mayoress, and that for his sake only he would do it; and if the mayoress would retire with Faustus for a few moments,—which would be entirely unobserved amid the noise and confusion of a festival,—he should deliver into her hand the patent of nobility."
Thereupon the Devil hastened to Faustus, informed him of what had happened, and gave him the letter of nobility, with certainty of success. Faustus doubted, and the Devil laughed at his doubts.
The mayor remained in his cabinet almost petrified. The sudden glitter of such unexpected happiness was at once so clouded by an odious and detestable condition, that he determined upon rejecting it. But all at once Ambition blew into his ear: "Ho! ho! Mr. Mayor; to be dubbed a nobleman at once, and in such an off-hand manner, as the saying is, and thereby to be placed on a footing with the proudest of thy foes, and to raise thy voice in the council like a trumpet, and appear among those there like a man whom, on account of his services, his imperial majesty will exalt above the heads of all!"