Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A Chapbook History of Dr. Faustus

This chapbook History of Dr. Faustus was published in Glasgow in the 1840s. It was published as a part of a series, along with such classics as The Sleeping Beauty of the Wood, The History of Jack and The Bean-Stalk,, The History of Beauty and the Beast, History of Jack the Giant Killer, The Story of Blue Beard and about 150 others. As you can see above, this is number 119. If I wasn't paying off two rather pricey Haywood items, I would buy either this large collection, or this smaller one.

The full title is:

History of DR. FAUSTUS Shewing His wicked Life and horrid Death, and how he sold himself to the devil, to have power for 24 years to do what he pleased, also many strange things done by him with the assistance of MEPHISTOPHELES. With an account how the Devil came for him at the end of 24 years, and tore him to pieces.

The full text appears in Amusing Prose Chap-Books, Chiefly of Last Century edited by Robert Hays (London: Hamilton Adams, 1889), 286–98. But I read it in John Ashton, Chap-books of the Eighteenth Century with facsimiles, notes, and introduction (London, Chatto and Windus, 1882), which—in typical fashion—has been scanned by Google Books but is not available online. I have given the first three chapters below.

I bought this little chapbook as a prompt to get me started on my reading for the new course I am preparing on the Dark Hero—not that you need an excuse to buy a chapbook like this. The course will start with Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus" and will probably end with Byron's "Cain".

In fact, most of the texts in between simply track a path between these two key texts. I am considering spending more than one week on Faustus. I wanted to read the play as soon as I heard about it, and loved it as soon as I read it, but I also loved the Faustbook and the chapbook version that I have read in Ashton, so I am tempted to include these too. All I have to do is come up with an excuse to include them…

* * * * *

Chapter I. Dr. Faustus’ birth and education, with an account of his falling from the Scriptures.

Dr. John Faustus was born in Germany. His father was a poor labouring man, not able to bring up his son John; but he had a brother in the same country, who was a very rich man, but had never a child, and took a great fancy to his cousin, and he resolved to make a scholar of him; and in order thereunto, put him to the Latin school, where he took his learning extraordinary well. Afterwards he put him to the University to study divinity; but Faustus could in no ways fancy that employment; wherefore he betook himself to the studying of that which his inclination is most for, viz., necromancy and conjuration, and in a little time few or none could outstrip him in the art. He also studied divinity, of which he was made Doctor; but within a short time fell into such deep fancies and cogitations that he resolved to throw the Scriptures from him, and betake himself wholly to the studying of necromancy and conjuration, charms and soothsaying, witchcraft, and the like.

Chapter II. How Dr. Faustus conjured up the Devil, making him appear at his own house.

Faustus, whose mind was to study conjuration, the which he followed night and day, he took the wings of an eagle, and endeavoured to fly over the world, to see and know all the secrets of heaven and earth; so that in a short time he attained power to command the Devil to appear before him when he pleased. One day as Dr. Faustus was walking in a wood near to Wurtemberg, in Germany, he having a friend with him who was desirous to know of the doctor’s art, he desired him to let him see if he could then and there bring Mephistopheles before him; all which the doctor immediately did, and the devil upon the first call made such a noise in the wood as if heaven and earth would have come together; then the devil made such a roaring as if the wood had been full of wild beasts. The doctor made a circle for the devil, the which circle the devil ran round, making a noise as if ten thousand wagons had been running upon paved stones. After this it thundered and lightened, as if the whole world had been on fire. Faustus and his friend, amazed at this noise, and the devil’s long tarrying, thought to leave his circle; whereupon he made him such music, the like was never heard in the world. This so ravished Faustus that he began again to conjure Mephistopheles in the name of the prince of the devils to appear in his own likeness; whereupon in an instant hung over his head a mighty dragon. Faustus calls again after his former manner, after which there was a cry in the wood as if hell had opened, and all the tormented souls had been there. Faustus, in the meanwhile, asked the devil many questions, and commanded him to show many diabolical tricks.

Chapter III, How Mephistopheles came to Dr. Faustus’ house, and what happened between them.

Faustus commanded the spirit to meet him at his house byten of the clock the next day. At the hour appointed he came into his chamber asking Faustus what he would have. Faustus told him it was his will and pleasure to conjure him to be obedient to him in all points of those articles, viz.: —

First, That the spirit should serve him in all things he asked, from that time till his death.

Secondly, Whatsoever he would have, he should bring him.

Thirdly, Whatsoever he desired to know, he should tell him.

The spirit answered him and said he had no such power of himself, until he had acquainted his prince that ruled over him. “For,” said he, “we have rulers over us that send us out, and command us home when they please; and we can act no further than our power is, which we receive from Lucifer, who, you know, for his pride, was thrust out of heaven. But,” saith the spirit, “I am not to tell you any more except you make yourself over to us.”

Whereupon Faustus said, “I will have my request? but yet I will not be damned with you.” Then said the spirit, “You must not, nor shall not have your desire, and yet thou art mine, and all the world cannot save thee out of my hands.” Then said Faustus, “Get thee hence, and I conjure thee that thou come to me at night.” The spirit then vanished. Faustus then began to consider how he might obtain his desire, and not give his soul to the devil.

And while Faustus was in these his devilish cogitations night drew on, and this hellish spirit appeared to Faustus, acquainting him that now he had got orders from his prince to be obedient to him, and to do for him whatsoever he desired, provided he would promise to be his, and withal to acquaint him first what he would have of him? Faustus replied that his desire was to become a spirit, and that Mephistopheles should be always at his command; that whatsoever he called for him, he shall appear invisible to all men, and that he should appear in what shape he pleased, to which the spirit answered that all his desires should be granted if he would sign those articles he should wish or ask for. Whereupon Dr. Faustus withdrew and stabbed his wrist, receiving the blood in a small saucer, which cooled so fast, as if it forewarned him of the hellish act he was going to commit; nevertheless he put it over embers to warm it, and wrote as follows: —

“I, John Faustus, approved doctor of divinity, with my own baud do acknowledge and testify myself to become a servant to Lucifer, Prince of Septentrional and Oriental, and to him I freely and voluntarily give both soul; in consideration for the space of twenty-four years, if I be served in all things which I shall require, or which is reasonable by him to be allowed; at the expiration of which time from the date ensuing, I give to him all power to do with me at his pleasure; to rule to retch and carry me where he pleases body and soul. Hereupon I defy God and Christ, and the hosts of angels and good spirits, all living creatures that bear his shape, or on whom his image is imprinted; and to the better strengthening the validity of this covenant and firm agreement between us, I have writ it with my blood, and subscribe my name to it, calling all the powers and infernal potentates to witness it is my true intent and meaning. JOHN FAUSTUS.”

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared again I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

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