Full text: Zeitungsausschnitte über Werke von Herman Grimm: Essays

. — ul .riato and Aristotle 
from memory. George Faustus also dabbled in 
the black arts, styling himsels “Magister Geor- 
gius Sabellicus, Faustus junior, fons necroman - 
ticorum, magus secundus, chiromanticus, agro- 
manticus, pyromanticus, in hydra arte secun 
dus.” Trithemius first knew him under this ti 
tle in Gelnhausen in 1506. It must be remem- 
bered that all learned men of the day were 
loobed upon as sorcerers, and Trithemius him- 
self had to clear himsels of this Charge,although 
he never denied his faith in evil spirits, in pro- 
phecy and prophetic dreams; and this faith he 
held in common with Luther, Melanchthon, and 
many others. 
Trithemius, in his chronicle of Sponheim, teils 
us also of Dr. Johannes Faustus, who appeared 
I at the court of the French King in 1501, and 
called himsels “ philosophus philosophorum,”and 
also " Mercurius,” messenger of the gods. He 
was supposed to be Italien, although Knüt- 
lingen in Wurtemberg is mentioned as his birth- 
place. Our notice is called to the circumstance, 
in the old story of ‘Faustus,’ that the raven who 
lends a feather from his wmg to sign the con- 
tract with the Evil One, is also named Mercu 
rius. Düntzer, who has written on this subject, 
believes that as Georgius Faustus calls himsels 
“Faustus secundus,” wo must take “Faustus” 
for a surname. Sabellicus indicates his origin. 
Goethe accepted this, as he calls him “The 
necromancer from Norcia the Sabine.” “Ma 
gus secundus ” refers to Simon Magus, known 
to fame as “ Magus primus”; “in arte hydra 
secundus,” to Pythagoras, who, according to St. 
Augustine, was learned in hydromancy. 
The Compiler of the old story of ‘Faustus’ was 
utterly unable to give any artistic form to the 
mass of material he had before him. Marlowe, 
in his tragedy, was the first to select and give 
shape to part of this accumulation of episodes. 
The scene in which Faust, after revelling with 
the students, conjures up Helena of Troy at 
theil- request, who passes across the stage to the 
sound of soft music, must have been emi- 
nently dramatic. Faust after this remains 
alone with Mephistopheles (wbose name de- 
rives from jltj to <£«? being of the dass 
of spirits qui lucem oderint). An old man tben 
appears, who eutreats Faustus to give up magic 
and to appeal to God’s mercy. Faustus, moved 
by his earnest exbortation, promises to repent, 
upon which the old man disappears and Mephis 
topheles counteracts his influence, cbanging to 
evil Faustus’s good resolutions. The effective 
conclusion is Mariowe’s own. "We translate 
Grimm’s account of this episode according to 
the old book : 
“It is told how, Faustus bragging of bis Pow 
ers of magic, the students beg to be shown ■- 
lena. He promises, on condition that none s 
rise from his seat, or speak a word, or see 
touch her. He then leaves the room ana 
enters followed by Helena, whose cbanns 
described. The students bid fair to break 
contract of immobility, under the provoca 
of her coquetry. Faust leads her away. , 
his return, the students, being allowed to sp « 
surround him, begging that he will make a 
turn the next day and that they may Dr * B, 
painter with tbem. Then suddenly appear 
old man, whose discourse brings Faust i 
pentance. Then ensues the scorn or m ^ . 
topheles, the renewed sorrow of Faust, anu, 
conclusion, the resigned expectation of tne • 
In this scene, so full of meaning, almost j 
word leads up to a climax needed for dra 
representation. Marlowe bere does vor 
up to his original.” 
We now come to still another Faustus, men 
tioned in the letters of Erasmus—Faustus 
dreolinus, an Italien studying in Paris throug 
the bounty of some rieh patron. This man w 
deeply inimical to the monks, and no doub ^ 
retaliated by giving him the reputation o a 
rng a compact with the Evil One, wboL ^jast 
posed to bave carried him away at t e - 
Dryasdust eruditiou and sensually rea is ^ 
gies are all that remain to us of his 
be seems to have been held in esteem an 
ship by Erasmus, who kept up ® ^^änd in 
with bim while tbe latter was in there 
1499. He eveu invited him to foUow hm there 
in a letter which we quote: 
If thou knewest how pleasantly one lived in 
England thou wouldst fly hitner throughtbeair 
eyeninspiteof thy srout, which thou wouldstelude 
JJaedalus fashion. Whatsball I begin to describe? 
1 he maidens bere are ebarming, beautiful,amia- 
ble,pleasing,far bester thau tbe Muses with whom 
thou holdest converse. It is the custom here to 
greet with a kiss on entering a house, and on 
taking leave. Wbenever one meets an acquain- 
tance, before any other forms, two kisses. Tbe 
air is full of kissing. If thou badst once tasten 
of those soft appetizing wares, thou wouldst not 
wish to dose thy life any where but here.” 
We conclude from this letter and Faustus’s 
own poems that he was known for a man of 
pleasure. Trithemius is supposed to have told 
how Faustus exorcised the Virgin Mary, who 
appeared at bis call before the Emperor Maxi 
milian. No doubt this was the foundation for 
the appearance of Helena. As tbe student lifo of 
Paris is also changed into the Wittenberg Uni- 
versity, even Erasmus may bave changed into 
Wagner. Erasmus’s letters were generally 
known at the time of the appearance of the 
Faustus story, and used for the teaching of L a ' 
tin, so that no doubt they were familiär to its 
Compiler. 
The great question which Grimm seeks to solve 
is, whether any drama of the kind existed in 
Germany which the Compiler of the Faustus 
story had before him, or if he himsels first in- 
tended to dramatize the tale which gradually 
took the more digressive form of a romance. 
Notwithstanding the most careful researches, no 
play on this subject has as yet been sound. 
Grimm, iiowever, still maintalns on internal 
evidence that the old German puppet play of 
“Faustus,” which Goethe used for his ‘Faust,’ 
cannot derive either from Marlowe or from tbe 
old book of ‘ Faustus,’ but from some earlier 
work now beyond our reach. Goethe himsels 
made use of all the elements belonging to tbe 
different characters bearing the same name used 
for the old story. To tbose he added tbe spi 
ritual development of bis day, besides bis own 
experiences of sixty years. 
Other essays of varying interest treat of Mi 
chel Angelo’s Medicean tombs in San Loren zo,of 
two engravingsof Friedrich Weber after Titian’s 
“ Divine Love ” and Holbein’s portrait of-Eras 
mus, Bettina von Arnim, the brothers Grimm, 
Kaueh’s Centenary, Anselm Feuerbach, and two 
Dürer engravings.
	        

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