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and who were, by the superstition of their age, compelled to spread over their studies in natural philosophy' a veil of charlatanism and necromancy. The vagrant life led by most of these philosophers, and above all by Faustus himself

, gave rise to many floating rumours about their persons and habits. They were never safe anywhere; credulous princes and nobles would use them as tools to discover the much-coveted secret of turning inferior metals into gold ; they would sometimes hold them in close confinement, as long as they could be deluded into the belief that their prisoner's knowledge was equal to the task imposed upon him ; but there was always the terrible threat of the stake or some other kind of death hanging over the head of the unfortunate magician, in case his Master tired of furnishing the means of further experiments. A charlatan of this description was a wretched being: whether deceiver or deceived (in case he himself believed in his occult art), he was driven to make the most of any opportunity that might offer itself; while the prison or the hangman always gloomed in the background of his short span of grace and splendour.

We may fairly suppose that Faustus' main pursuit .. was natural science, and that he actually was in possession of some of those physical contrivances by which spectral illusions can be produced. It may be that he acquired the name of sorcerer by some such exhibitions as are quite familiar to a later and more enlightened age. He was, no doubt, often obliged to keep his place of residence a secret, while some prince was seeking to imprison him ; and he had apparently often to shift from place to place, in order to escape an exposure

of his practices, and secure his retreat. He would seem to have gone to Wittenberg, actuated by some vain hope that he might there find encouragement in his more serious studies; but, as he felt unable to join in the religious reforms of Luther and Melanchthon, they treated him like the rest of his brethren ; to them he appeared as an imp of Satan,' and nothing more.

It has been conjectured that Faustus retreated at last to one of his friends and patrons, John Entfuss, abbot of Maulbronn in Würtemberg, who employed him in alchymistic researches. It is not improbable that Faustus met with his death through an explosion *of an ignited or overheated mixture he had made in one of his experiments.

The name of Faustus very soon became the subject of numerous legends. It is astonishing how many places throughout Germany claim some kind of connection with Faustus. He somewhat resembles Homer as regards the multiplicity of places which claim the honour of having given birth to him. In the same way, the scene of his terrible death is variously reported. But the historical existence of Faustus himself is so well attested, in spite of these contradictory and bewildering details, as to admit of not the slightest doubt.

It was not however until about the latter half of the sixteenth century that all the various legends and tales which were liberally bestowed upon the memory of the magician assumed a more definite shape. He now stood forth as the representative and type of his class: he became the Magician par excellence. His

1 See Engel, i. p. 13.

connection with the Devil was now firmly believed in, and his whole course of wickedness was now, so to .. speak, digested, and put into the shape of a continuous narrative. It was in the year 1587-about fifty years after Faustus' death, that the first connected account of his life and exploits was published at Frankfort on the Main, then the centre of the German book trade, just as Leipzig is now. Only one complete copy of this curious publication is known to exist in the Imperial Library at Vienna. The great interest which this work possessed to contemporary readers may be inferred from the fact that a stolen reprint of it was issued in the same year, two copies of which are extant at Ulm and Wolfenbüttel. Nay, even another stolen copy appeared at Hamburg in the same year : of this edition there is likewise only one copy in existence.

The publication of the Frankfort bookseller Johann Spies, to whom we owe the Historia von D. Johann Fausten, dem weitbeschreyten Zauberer und Schwartzkünstler, is a very clumsy narrative, a book apparently designed to inspire pious readers with due horror of the Devil and his works. It is copiously interlarded with quotations from Scripture, and pretends to be a faithful and authoritative narration. The whole work breathes the spirit of the narrow-minded dogmatism then prevalent among the Lutherans of Germany.

Spies' publication was translated into English not long after its appearance in Germany.

In fact, the English work on Faustus, quoted by Dyce in his notes, is simply a translation of it. But it is impossible to decide whether Marlowe availed himself

of this translation, or whether he used the German original. We are so very insufficiently informed with regard to the particulars of Marlowe's life, that we cannot decide the question whether our poet had once been soldiering on the Continent, as has been conjectured by Mr. Cunningham, or not. If it could be proved that Marlowe spent some years abroad, we could easily credit him with a sufficient knowledge of German to read and understand the book on Faustus in the original language.

It may however be useful to say here a few words on Marlowe's life, before entering into the discussion of the relation of his ‘Tragical History of Faustus' to the German book by Spies. In recapitulating the few items of Marlowe's short but splendid career, we shall have little more to do than digest the results of the valuable researches of Mr. Collier and, more especially, of the late Mr. Dyce, whose edition of Marlowe is not the least important of that gentleman's numerous contributions to the illustration and explanation of Elizabethan literature.

Christopher Marlowe, the son of John Marlowe, shoemaker, was born at Canterbury in February 1564, and christened there on the 26th of that month. His parents were but poor people ; but the generous protec of some kind patron enabled Marlowe to proceed to Cambridge, where he obtained a learned education. He was matriculated as Pensioner of Benet College, March 17, 1580-1, and took the degree of B.A. in 1583, that of M.A. in 1587. There is a Latin poem

of Marlowe still extant, and this, as well as

See Dyce's edition of 1865, p. xiii.

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the numerous allusions to classical literature nandythology in his plays, proves him to have been no contemptible scholar. In the year 1587 Marlowe seems to have brought out his first play, the first part of Tamburlaine the Great, which play was not, however, printed until 1590 : see the entry to Richard Jones on 'xiiiito die Augusti (1590), in the Stationers' Registers published by Mr. Arber, vol. ii. p. 262b. Mr. Collier (Hist. of Dram. Poetry, iii. p. 112) is inclined to place the first appearance of Tamburlaine even 'anterior to 1587 ;' but there does not seem to be sufficient authority for this assumption. There is however no doubt that the first part of Tamburlaine produced an immense impression. It was the first piece of vigorous blank-verse ever heard on the English stage, though blank-verse had probably been heard there before. The young poet, then twenty-three years old, was fully conscious of the novelty of his design, and he boldly defied the censure of his predecessors in the often-quoted prologue

From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,
We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,
Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine
Threatening the world with high astounding terms,

And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword. And indeed when we compare the stately march of Marlowe's lines with the tame and lifeless cadence of blank-verse as used in Gorboduc (the first production in which it was employed for dramatic purposes), we cannot but agree with the happy epithet applied to it


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