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contemporaries for the labour that he bestowed on his works (“For his were called works where others were but plays”), I select two pieces which underwent at their author's hands precisely the same revision as I hold to have been given by Marlowe to Faustus. In Egerton MS. 1994 (preserved in the British Museum) there is a play entitled Calisto, or the Escapes of Jupiter, which I have elsewhere shown to be composed of scenes from Heywood's Golden Age and Silver Age. A comparison of the text of the MS. with the text of the quartos shows that the author when issuing the printed copy, revised his work throughout, scene by scene, and line by line, correcting, rewriting, curtailing, augmenting. This is the more remarkable in Heywood's case, for he was the most prolific of all the old dramatists, and might well be supposed to have had little time for correction. Again : in my edition of the works of John Day I have printed, along with the text of the quarto, the readings of an early MS. copy of the Parliament of Bees. In the MS., which gives the unrevised text, we find many passages that were afterwards cancelled on revision, and the quarto on the other hand contains passages not found in the MS. ; while the variations in phrases and single words are very numerous.
For information as to the origin and growth of the Faust-legend, I refer the reader to the elaborate introductions by Professor Ward and the late Professor Wagner to their editions of Faustus. The point for us to consider is where Marlowe obtained the materials for his tragedy. In 1587 at Frankfort-on-the-Main appeared
the first connected account of the great conjurer, under the title of Historia von D. Johann Fausten, dem weitbeschreyten Zauberer und Schwartzkünstler. Two reprints were published in the same year, and three more editions followed in 1589. It was from this book that Marlowe drew his materials; but it is probable that he used an English translation, not the German original. The earliest translation yet discovered is dated 1592. It bears the following title : The Historie of the damnable life and deserved death of Dr. John Faustus, Newly imprinted and in convenient places imperfect matter amended : according to the true copie printed at Franckfort and translated into English by P. F. Gent. The words “Newly imprinted” show that there must have been an edition prior to 1592. It should be remembered that the book was one of those popular productions which ran the greatest risk of being thumbed out of existence. Of the first edition of the German original only a single copy (preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna) is now known. There is one strong piece of evidence to show that Marlowe made use of an English translation. In scene v. the third article of the contract signed by Faustus runs,
“Shall do for him and bring for him whatsoever." Dyce pointed out that the curious text of this passage closely tallies with the text of the corresponding passage in the prose tract. Dyce's quotations are from ed. 1648; he does not seem to have been aware of the
i Some later editions bear the name “P. R. Gent." on the title-page. ? The late Professor Wagner is my authority for this statement.
existence of the 1592 edition, where the article stands, “That Mephistophilis should bring him anything and do for him whatsoever." 1 This verbal coincidence is too striking to be merely accidental. It has been suggested by Dr. Von der Velde that the English actors who performed at the courts of Dresden and Berlin between 1585 and 1587 (as shown by Mr Albert Cohn in his work on Shakespeare in Germany) brought with them on their return to England at the end of 1587 the recently published Faustbuch. Professor Ward adds a further suggestion, which deserves consideration. In the German original we have a Duke of Anhalt (in the English tract, Anholt) who becomes in the play the Duke of Vanholt. Professor Ward thinks that the “oddity is best to be reconciled with the other circumstances of the case by the supposition that the German Faustbuch was brought over to England in one of its early editions (before that of 1590) by some person or persons who had travelled both in Germany and in the Netherlands; that through them it came into Marlowe's hands in the shape of a MS. English translation ; and that the MS. translation was very probably used by 'P. R.' or whoever was the 'gentleman' who wrote the English History.” He proceeds to state that the English actors who had been performing in Germany would naturally pass through the Netherlands on their return to England. The theory is ingenious, but it is hardly sare to build on such slender foundations.
i The original has “ Zum dritten, dasz er im gefliessen, unterthänig und gehorsam seyn wollte, als ein Diener."
Marlowe's tragedy speedily became popular not only in England but abroad. From a recently published work of great interest by Herr Johannes Meissner, Die Englischen comædianten zur zeit Shakespeares in Oesterreich, we learn that Faustus and the Jew of Malta, with nine other English plays, were acted (in German versions) by an English company in 1608, during the Carnival, at Graetz. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Faustus remained a favourite at Vienna. A Hanswurst or Clown was introduced ; the Jesuits, disliking Faustus' scepticism, converted him into a sort of Don Juan ; and the two aspects of his character were afterwards combined by Goethe. Among the plays performed by an English company at the Dresden court in 1626 was a
Tragædia von Dr. Faust,2 which was certainly Marlowe's; on the same list is found a Barrabas, which was no less certainly a version of the Jew of Malta.
Although the popularity of Faustus in England is attested by the number of editions through which it passed, few early allusions to the play are discoverable. When Shakespeare wrote of Helen in Troilus and Cressida,
Why, she is a pearl
1 Herr Meissner quotes from a MS. volume of travels by a Wurtem. berg merchant a statement to the effect that at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in 1592, during the autumn fair, were acted plays " by the master very famous in the island, Christopher Marlowe.” But Herr Meissner bas not seen the MS. from which the statement is taken, and his informant is unable to lay his hand upon it in the public library; so better proof is wanted.
See Cohn's Shakespeare in Germany, cxv. cxvii.
he must surely have had in his mind the line of Marlowe
“ Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?”
It was pointed out by Wagner that the scene in Barnabe Barnes' Devil's Charter, 1607, where Pope Alexander VI. signs a contract with a devil disguised as a pronotary, is modelled on scene v. of Faustus. Time's Whistle, by “R. C. Gent.," a collection of satires written between 1614 and 1616, there is a passage which Mr. J. M. Cowper (who edited the satires for the Early English Text Society) takes to refer “to the story of the play of Faustus, although it may be said the story was common enough for ‘R. C.' to have got it elsewhere." From Samuel Rowlands' Knave of Clubs we learn that the part of Faustus was originally sustained by Edward Alleyn :
“The gull gets on a surplis,
With a crosse upon his brest,
In that manner was he drest.”
In this Theatrum Poetarum (1675) Phillips observes quaintly “Of all that Marlowe hath written to the stage, his Dr. Faustus hath made the greatest noise, with its devils and such like tragical sport.”
Dr. Faustus is a work which once read can never be forgotten. It must be allowed that Marlowe did not perceive the full capabilities afforded by the legend he adopted; that crudeness of treatment is shown in making Faustus abandon the pursuit of supernatural knowledge,