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J, W, VON GOETHE.
WITH COPIOUS NOTES,
GRAMMATICAL, PHILOLOGICAL, AND EXEGETICAL,
FALCK LEBAHN, PH. DR.
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS.
The popular traditions of Northern Germany give strange accounts of Dr. Faust. They represent him as having been in the possession of supernatural secrets, of a magic mantle, and other conjuring apparatus; he was said to have performed wonderful feats, with the aid of his associate, a familiar demon, and at last was duly seized and carried off by the devil as per contract. The simple fact is that Dr. Faust, being far in advance of his era in the physical sciences, made experiments, the results of which must have appeared superhuman to the narrow understandings of the people. All that his contemporaries could not account for by their own limited experience they ascribed to magic and unholy arts, and Faust paid the usual penalty for superiority in an age of ignorance, by being traduced
He was pronounced a heretic, because he identified Nature with that God " in whom we live, and
and have our being.”—Galileo, whose discoveries overwhelmed the schoolmen with horror, and struck the religious with alarm, was forced into a dungeon for divulging his demonstrations. Belteshazzar, or Daniel, in whom were found an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, was master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, soothsayers, and a prophet.
as à sorcerer.
The Faust of history, though evidently "a vagabond," appears to have been a man of extensive learning, especially in Magie, astrology, astronomy, and theosophy.-The following are the leading features of Goethe's work :
Faust, a character of the highest and brightest intellect, doctor and professor in all the faculties, highly admired for his wisdom, is represented as a man inflamed by the most ardent desire for knowledge, who, after having devoted himself for many years to intense study, and ranged with unwearied energy through the whole realm of human science, arrives at the conviction that the depths of truth are inaccessible to the human understanding. To reach the fountain of truth he has recourse to magic. The despair of a mind thus disappointed, and the fiction of the use of magic to get admission to the forbidden regions of knowledge, impart to this character a particularly romantic charm.
At his command appears the Erdgeist, Spirit of the Earth, the symbol of the original power which vivifies all matter, directs its motions, and its organic conformation and action, who "works the living mantle of God." (Mundus est statua, imago, templum vivum et corpus Dei.-Campanella.) The spirit proceeds to explain to Faust its mode of creation and of action; but the limited human understanding is incapable of conceiving the immensity of the spirit, who disappears and leaves Faust in despair.
Faust now resolves to release himself by death from all material forms, and to enter the secret regions of knowledge. But the moment he puts the deadly cup to his lips, the tolling of bells, the sound of the organ, and sweet chanting fall on his ears, and bring back to his mind such charming recollections of infancy and of earthly delights, that he cannot summon resolution to shake off the chains of existence.
While he is still irresolute and doubtful in the comfortless weariness of all human knowledge, the devil appears (the