Goethe's Key to Faust: Second Paper: The Tragedy of the First Part

WE have seen in a former paper the care with which Goethe has pointed out the way to discover the answer to the question, What is Faust ? In his letters he returns to the subject again and again, though he purposely avoids direct disclosure, because, as Mephistopheles remarks to the Student in the Second Part, people in no ways value what is imparted to them directly, but cherish it as their own if they have to delve for the meaning. But everywhere he gives us the clue in his iteration that the First Part is wholly subjective. It proceeded, he tells Eckermann, “ from that impressed and impassioned state of the individual character which excites such agreeable feelings in the mind of man.

It appeared from Goethe’s remarks about the play in his conversations, letters, etc., as well as in the Prologues to the drama itself, that the play of Faust was the Drama of Existence, the Enigma of Life, as he calls it to Zelter; which the poet is, if he can, to help us solve, by setting before us the experiences and feelings of his own existence as a living reality in the story of this Faust, who, he tells us, is the Soul of Man. Thus the poet is to bring us into harmony with the Divine Purpose, — “ to the gods unite us,” — and solve the enigma of our lives.

The Creative Energy, that divine instinct of production, is the true hero of the Drama of Existence as we see it glimpsed in the history of this Soul of Man. To this the poet will bring us, in harmony with that Love, the Divine Beauty, the Ewig-weibliche, the feminine element of existence, which indeed is the true heroine of the play. Till we so join our lives to this Infinite Purpose and this Divine Love, we are, as has been said, but the slaves of Selfishness, the demon Mephistoplieles. “Thus,” says Goethe, “ a consciousness of the wrnrth of the morally beautiful and good could be attained by experience and wisdom, inasmuch as the bad showed itself in its consequences as a destroyer of happiness, both in individuals and in the whole body, while the noble and right seemed to secure the happiness of one and all. Thus the morally beautiful could become a doctrine, and diffuse itself over whole nations as something plainly expressed.” So “ a great dramatic poet, if he is at the same time productive, and is actuated by a strong and noble purpose, which pervades the whole of his works, may succeed in making the soul of his pieces become the soul of the people.”

Do we ask for a further key to this mystery ? The poet has assured us we shall find it in his own life and thought, which he has incarnated for us in the figures of his play. Here is the “ shining key ” which will guide us to a true knowledge of the hero and heroine of existence.

We must stray into the Second Part, again, to find the promise yet more clearly stated in that passage which has been regarded as the darkest enigma of the play. Goethe remarks that “ Mephiistopheles too is a part of my own being,”and often is only the spokesman of his thought, which he tells us is so simple. Faust is in search of the Source of all things, the mother element. To him comes Mephistopheles.


Here, take this key.


It is a little thing.


Grasp it, not lightly valuing.


It glows within my hand, it beams and flashes!


You ‘ll soon now mark what one in this possesses.
This key will seent it out, if you but heed.
Follow it down, — ‘t will to the Mothers lead.
If he will touch it with the key!

[Observing him.

Well done!

As faithful slave it joins and follows on !
So call the hero — heroine from night,
The first that ever dared that deed ;
Thus it is done, for thus you must succeed.
Then onward, in this magic method range,
And into gods these incense-clouds will change.

When we come to this passage in the Second Part, we shall find yet other meanings; but in that realm of double and triple allegory Goethe’s voice is often heard directly, and for the present purpose we shall listen only for the poet’s immediate word.

He says that this First Part proceeded from a somewhat darkened state of his existence. Like Faust, he had gone through all learning, and found only that he could learn nothing. He was like a traveler astray in the twilight. “ I too had drifted about in all sorts of studies, and had soon enough come to suspect their worthlessness. I had made all sorts of ventures in life, and had returned from them with greater disgust and vexation.”

As the drama opens, Faust sits in his darkened study. With him too it is night. The scene is so entitled : " Night. A narrow Gothic chamber.”

“ Where e’en the lovely light of heaven
Sadly through painted panes is driven.”

“ These darkened narrow Gothic rooms,” says Goethe, “ cramp and confine my spirit.”

“ Shut in here by this heap of books.”

He has toiled through all learning, crammed himself with all lore, only to find he knows nothing, and, like the young poet returning disgusted from the university, he will give himself to magic and what in modern phrase we call Spiritualism.

“ So I ‘ve given myself to sorcery:
If, haply, through spirits’ mouth and might
Some mystery may not be brought to light,
That I no more, with sweating brow,
Need tell of something I do not know ;
That I may learn what’t is that holds
The world together, its inmost folds ;
See all its active powers and seeds,
And rummage no more in words not deeds.”

“ Error belongs to libraries, truth to the human mind ; books may be increased by books, while intercourse with living primitive law alone gratifies the mind that can embrace the simple, disentangle the perplexed, and enlighten the obscure.” “ Ask not the echoes of your cloisters,” exclaims the young man in Wilhelm Meister, “not your mouldering parchments, not your narrow whims and ordinances! Ask Nature and your own heart! ”

Faust looks up at the lovely moonlight streaming through an open casement.

“ O brightest moonlight! could you shine
The last time on this pain of mine,
That I, through many a midnight sky,
Watched at this, desk mount up on high,
When over books and papers here
You would, sad friend, to me appear.
Ah ! could I yet, on the mountain height,
Go onward in vour lovely light,
Round mountain caverns with spirits hover,
And float in your twilight the meadows over,
And, freed from wisdom’s qualms and pain,
Bathe in your dew and be well again.”

“ One shrinks,” says Goethe to Eckermann, " in the narrow confinement of the house ; here, out-of-doors, one feels great and free as the great Nature one has before Ins eyes.”

“ Fly ! ” cries Faust: —

“ Fly ! out in the wide, the open land :
And this book full of mystery,
From Nostradamus’ very hand.
Is it not guide enough for thee ? ”

“Nothing comes.” says Goethe, “ but it first announces itself ; ” and throughout the poem we shall find this as true as it is in life. The commentators take pains to tell us who the historical character was who bore this significant name Nostradamus (Michel de Nôtre Dame). We recall rather a passage from Wilhelm Meister, preceding the one just quoted : " He described to us in rapturous terms how this heavenly girl had drawn him out of his unnatural state of separation from his fellow-creatures into true life.” Mephistopheles, in a court masque at Weimar, wherein all modern literature is made to appear and explain itself before the Grand Duchess, calls attention to the fact that by this means he has drawn Faust out into life, and that this is in part the import of the play. It is Our Lady who sails gloriously over the concluding scene of the drama; and as in the Wagner operas we catch hints of the coming theme, so here we shall find, again to use Goethe’s words, that " nothing comes but it. first announces itself.” It is interesting because it is an illustration of the Goethean method, which we have become accustomed of late to speak of as the Wagnerian method, to set the thought before our minds by subtle hints and suggestions. Writing, in Truth and Poetry of my Life, of his magico - cabalistic studies with the Fräulein von Klett.enburg, he tells of the dark hints by which the author refers from one passage to another, and thus promises to reveal what he conceals. It was this gentle spirit who first led him to read of the macrocosm and microcosm, and aided and encouraged his attempts to penetrate the mystery of life through the whimsical endeavors of the alchemists ; to which he alludes in Faust’s description to Wagner of his father’s labors in his dark laboratory. She it was who found in the young Goethe that “ striving after an unknown happiness.” And, most noteworthy, it was she who “ interpreted my disquiet, my impatience, my striving, my seeking, investigating, musing, and wavering, as proceeding from my having no reconciled God.”

This was Our Lady who taught him the pathways of the stars. It is, to be sure, a “ dark hint ” only, a single note of that Celestial Love motive which reechoes in the Easter Choruses, gleams on us for a moment from The Witch’s Mirror, and plays over the sunlight outside the cathedral door, as Margaret, that loveliest incarnation of the Divine in woman, passes by ; but the motive of the play is here as we saw it stated in the Prologue, “ to unite us to the gods.” It is Our Lady who leads us back to Nature; who, with the magic of the imagination, sends Faust to Nature, to find there that

“ Tlse spirit-world ’s not locked and barrëd.
Thy sense is shut, thy heart, is dead !
Up, scholar, bathe then, bathe unwearied,
Thine earthly breast in morning-red.”

All through his life Goethe found in Nature a refuge and a comforter. When his lifelong friend, the Grand Duke, died, he went at once into the country, to busy himself with her secrets, and find in her loveliness the panacea for his earthly ills. From there he writes to Eckermann : “ Often before dawn I am already awake, and lie down by the open window to refresh my spirit with the increasing brilliancy of the morningred. I then pass almost the whole day in the open air, and hold .spiritual communion with the tendrils of the vine, which say good things to me, of which I could tell you wonders.” He thought of all these soothing influences of Nature as those pitying elves that we hear singing the distracted soul to sleep, in the opening of the Second Part; and throughout the play, whenever Faust goes to Nature, he sees life and the things of life in their true relations.

“ You then shall know the courses of the stars ;
Nature instructs you, if you will but hear it.
And then, for you, the Soul her powers unbars,
As spirit speaks unto the other spirit.”

“ But,” says Goethe, “ man was not born to solve the problem of the Universe ; neither his powers nor his point of view justify him in such an ambition. He is to find out what he has to do, and then restrain himself within the limits of his powers of comprehension.” So Faust finds he can, even by the utmost aid of this magic of the mind, only discern the harmony of the Universe.

“ Harmonious, All through the All ringing.
All, wliafe a spectacle ! Alas, a show alone !
Unending Nature, where mayst thou be
known ? ”

He will search out the “ Founts of Life; ” but that “ is beyond our powers.”

“ the scene,” Goethe states, “dates back to the time when a rich youthful spirit identified itself with the Universe, in the belief that it could fill out and reproduce it in its various parts.” At least we may in some measure master the secret of this Earth! “ I think of the Earth and her atmosphere as a great living being-, always engaged in inspiration and expiration.”

Faust summons up the vision of the Spirit of tlie Earth, the Earth-Spirit. “ But the immediate perception of the primal phenomena of nature,” again to quote Goethe, “ puts us into a sort of anguish; we feel the unattainable.” So when Faust succeeds in bringing this “Frightful Phantom” before him, he cowers and trembles. The Earth-Spirit speaks to him : —

“In floods of Life, in a storm of Deeds,
l p and down I wave,
To and fro float free !
Birth and the grave,
An eternal Sea,
A forming, changing
Life, glowing, ranging.
So I work at Time’s loom, and, with whir
and strife,
I weave for the Godhead its Garment of Life.”

“ Nature is after all inaccessible. Nature has ever in reserve problems which man has not the faculties capable of solving.” So the Earth-Spirit vanishes, and Wagner, the famulus, the incarnation of that spirit of pedantry which has tormented and hampered the poet’s youth, comes in.

Goethe’s picture of the learned young Germans who visited him might stand as Wagner’s portrait. “Short-sighted, pale, young without youth, — that is the picture of them as they appear to me. The things in which one of us takes pleasure seem to them too trivial and vain; only the highest problems of speculation are fitted to interest them. Of some sense of delight in the sensual there is no trace: all youthful feeling and all youthful pleasures are driven out of them.”

Wagner too, it appears, is anxious to get back to the Source of things ; but Faust tells him he will never find it in his old parchments. Wagner leaves Faust alone. The despair at the impossibility of reaching truth has undermined Faust’s love of life.

“ The anxious striving after truth and moral greatness,” writes Goethe to Frau Laroche, “ has so undermined his heart that unsuccessful trials of life and passion have urged him to tragic resolution.” “ We have, then, to do with those whose life is embittered by a want of action, through exaggerated demands upon themselves. I was myself in that predicament, and best know the pains I suffered in it.” “ When the tedium vitæ seizes a man, he is only to be pitied, not blamed,” writes Goethe to Zelter ; “all the symptoms of this strange disease at one time raged furiously through my own inmost being. I know full well what resolutions and efforts it cost me in those days to escape from the waves of death. But after the storm at night the shore is reached again ; the glorious sun once more breaks forth over the glittering waves.”

“ The mirrored billows g-litter at my feet,
A new day lures me forth to fair, new

We see Faust take down his father’s old wassail bowl, and pour into it that

“ Essence of all lovely, slumberous flowers,
That extract of all deadly, finer powers,'”

which shall free his spirit, and bear it forth on a new path through the ether,

“To fair, new spheres of pure activity.”

But, as he sets the bowl to his lips, the sound of bells and chorus - singing is heard.

“ Truth, like a solemn, friendly bell tone, rings throughout the world, is one of Goethe’s Sayings.

And now the Easter morning dawns, with its songs of praise to the One who, without a thought of selfish striving for his own advancement, gave Himself.

The sound of bells and chorus-singing is heard.


Christ has arisen!
Joy to the sorrowing.
Mortal, whom harrowing
Taints and our narrowing
Needs would imprison.


What bells, deep booming, what a clear, bright
strain !
Down from my mouth it draws the glass with
power !
Ye hollow bells, proclaim ye, once again,
The Easter Day’s first, festal hour ?
Was it, ye choirs, the Consolation Song ye
That once, from angels’ lips, around the
Grave’s night rang
Assurance of the Covenant’s new dower ?


With spices we made Him
A sweet rest that day ;
We, His Faithful, we laid Him
So softly then away.
With clean cloths to bind Him
We wound Him neatly o’er;
Ah! and we find Him,
Christ, here no more.


Christ has arisen!
Happy the Loving One
Who all your sorrowing,
Wholesome and harrowing
Trials, has known!

The celestial, the womanly love motive sings out clearly now, and, awaking the childlike feeling in the world-worn man, brings him back to life.

“ Remembrance holds me yet, With childlike
Back from that solemn step, the last.
Oh, still sound on, sweet songs, a heavenly
strain !
My tears well forth, Earth has me once

The disciples sing of the risen Christ as being in “ TVerdelust / ” that is, in the bliss of becoming (which the translators generally render by the words “ bliss of birth ”), near to “ Sehajfender Freitde.” This is a difficult phrase, but it contains the whole philosophy of the drama ; “ Schaifender Freude ” being that Joy which is the Maker. I he translators say “ Creative rapture, or “ Rapture creative near,” as Mr. Taylor lias it.

“ He only is glad,” sings the beggar in the next scene, “ who may give,” and the line might stand as the text of Faust : —

“ Nur der ist froh, der geben mag.”

The whole lesson of the play is in this line.

The angels bid us tear ourselves loose from our fetters, and, praising Him with deeds, to manifest in our own lives that Love which is the Master. The charm and force of the lines are untranslatable, because the music gives us such deep suggestions of joyous song, and of those solemn, friendly bells of heaven which ring “like truth throughout the world.”

“ Faust,” Goethe writes to Zelter, “contains many things which would interest you from a musical point of view. I should like to hear the words of this chorus in a fugue, which, as far as possible, should imitate the pealing of bells.”

In the following scene, the Easter holiday in the fields, we notice especially that here is no thought of the worthlessness of life. All are full of joyfulness and hilarity, because they have earned their holiday by hard work. We may see the source from which this scene is drawn in Goethe’s account of the peasants’ holidays outside of Frankfort; for even the scenery of Faust is painted from his own recollection, and every character is sketched from life. If we met one of these peasants, we should know him again from his speech; and, had we space, it would be interesting to pause and see here, too, what musical interest there is in the varying metres assigned to the characters. The whine of the hurdy-gurdy, the martial tramp of the soldiery, the whirl and swirl of the peasants’ dance and song under the linden, are all reproduced in the measure assigned to the parts as they appear before us. Thus the metre itself becomes a sort of running commentary ; and, as Goethe finds in actual life all persons surrounded with a spiritual atmosphere, we have them here encircled with a most suggestive musical atmosphere of song.

Wagner is distressed in his over-refined soul to be among these vulgar persons ; but Faust exclaims : —

“ Here I am Man, — here dare ’t to be ! ”

“ There is something more or less wrong,” says Goethe to Eckermann, “among us old Europeans. Our relations are far too artificial and complicated, our nutriment and mode of life are without their proper nature, and our social intercourse is without proper love and good will. Every one is polished and courteous, but no one has the courage to be hearty and true. Often a man cannot help wishing that he had been born on one of the South Sea islands, a so-called savage, so as to have enjoyed human existence in all its purity, without any adulteration.”

We would gladly pause to recall the exquisite passage in this scene about the sunset, the remembrancer of Goethe’s childhood and of his later Swiss journey, the longing to fly after the sinking sun. But as night falls about the wanderers’ path, and that black dog of Selfishness appears in the gloaming, let us he reminded of that pregnant passage from the Sayings, “Common notions and great darkness are ever on the way to serve up some dreadful misfortune.”

Faust, coming* in with the poodle from communion with Nature, feels some intimation of her solemn lessons even in the stifling atmosphere of his narrow study: —

The upland high, the meadow lowly,
I leave enwrapt in depths of night.
In us, with awe prophetic, holy,
The better soul awakes to light.
The impulse wild now stirs no longer,
But sleeps with every reckless deed ;
The human love in us grows stronger,
We feel the love of God, and heed.’’

He has brought back with him this old Demon of Selfishness, this animal idea of living only for what we can get. The poodle now becomes restless, and, however Faust may yearn for the Source of life, and strive to find it in revelation, he is again out of the mood. The demon swells himself up till his horrible form fills the whole space of Faust’s cell. Unless he is exorcised, life will be unendurable. We notice that, though Faust conjures him by all the elements of nature,

“ No trace of these, the least,
Sticks in the beast.”


“ Hear me stronger adjure thee! ”

He will set opposite this monstrous thought of living only to get for our selfish ends that life of Christ, that life which was all one great gift. Then the mist sinks, and Mephistopheles, this Demon of Selfishness, this " Spirit of Darkness, Denier, Destroyer, Father of Lies, Beelzebub,” steps forth in his true colors, dressed as a traveling scholar, pedantry and licentiousness combined. He is Demon of Sloth as well. Faust, under this deadening influence, falls asleep, as the wooing passions lull and sing his spirit into deepest oblivion. He wakes to find himself “ once more deceived.” Among these enticing forms who sing him the Fiend’s lullaby, that Love of Woman, the Woman-Soul that ultimately leads him upward and on, is heard in the melody, and, later, lamenting in the chorus of spirits who wail over Faust’s destruction of that beautiful world which he madly curses. Mephistopheles, to be sure, tells him that these lovely spirits are all his, “ the little Ones of my train.” He does, with the bait of womanly beauty, succeed in luring him out of his wretched life into the world of men and deeds.

The demon promises Faust, if he will join him, he will give him all he desires.

“ What have you, then, poor Devil, worth the
giving ?
When was one human spirit, in its lofty
Grasped by the like of you, though you had
tried your best?
You have, though, food that satisfies not;
are possest
Of ruddy gold, that without rest,
Quicksilver-like, out of the hand will run;
A game which man has never won ;
A maiden, from my very bosom, she
Ogles my neighbor, bids him call upon her;
That joy of all the gods, fair Houor,
That, like a meteor, ceases suddenly.”

The Devil bets he can give him happiness. Notice the condition of the wager. If Mephistopheles can once so delight Faust with these things that he will “ prize the idler’s noble leisure,” as Mephistopheles calls it, and long for its continuance, the Demon of Destruction has him.

t; When I say to the moment, Let us
Here linger yet, thou art so fair !
Then you may east me into fetters,
Then gladly I ‘ll destruction dare ;
Then may the awful death-bell thunder,
Then you are from your service free !
The clock may stop, the hour-hand yonder
May fall, and Time be past for me.”

Goethe, as Mephistopheles, in Faust’s long robe, mocks at pedantry with the Student once more, and then they sail out of the window in quest of happiness. “ My old cloak and a bit of gas will carry us gayly up in the world, if you do not take any great bundle of thoughts and scruples with you.” So off they sail in that pursuit of joy, the universal quest of humanity.

Goethe tells us how he sought for happiness in such a cellar as we have in the next scene. Herman Grimm, his biographer, remarks that he found only ill health. “ See,” says Mephistoplieles, as they turn to go, “ how the Devil jests!” These “jolly fellows,” who have given themselves over to sensuality, imagine they are in a lovely arbor, about to cut off luscious grapes, and wake to find themselves only about to cut off their own noses.

Do we need any further explanation of this much-discussed scene as a whole ? It has, however, two songs which may well attract our closer attention. One contains an allusion to a remark of Goethe’s that he “ was at this time like a poisoned rat, who rushed frantically about, vainly swilling out of all the puddles.” This song has also a deeper significance, not before alluded to by the commentators, in its refrain, which brings us the first hint of the approaching tragedy, a suggestion of the horrible mirth of the gossiping girls about the fountain.

“ Then loudly laughed the poisoner ! .See !
She pipes in the last hole now, said she,
As if she had love in her body.


As if she had love in her body.”

This song is given “ to suit the case ” of “ some folks in love,” and one sees in the rat’s fate “ his likeness done to life.” For the suggestion of the other song, the flea who was made prime minister, we must remember that it is put into the mouth of this Denier, this Prince of Philistine Darkness. Recall the position of the Philistine element in Goethe’s world at Weimar toward his own occupation of that position in the grand ducal court, — the language of the Philistine world in general toward the poet’s position as prime minister to the Soul of Man. The bitter irony of this song has not been pointed out; but if we follow Goethe’s advice, and look to his own life for the solution of mysteries, and for “ deep meaning under seeming trivialities,” we can hardly be far astray.

The next scene, The Witch’s Kitchen, is filled with seeming trivialities that have been declared to be only willful fooleries, or given all sorts of fanciful interpretations. The commentators have neglected to follow the method which Goethe recommends, —to see of what epoch of his life this scene was the fruit. Goethe laughs with Eckermann at all such misdirected efforts as had occupied the critics of his day with the elucidation of this mystery. If, then, this scene is the “ fruit of an epoch of his life,” as he tells Eckermann, let us see where the poet was when he wrote it, and what he was thinking about. Here is that “ key ” he has recommended to us, which will unlock this hitherto unsolved enigma, and make its darkest passages glow and sparkle with intense sarcasm.

First, where was it written? In Rome, at the time when Goethe came into contact with the Roman Church. The outward forms of the scene are drawn from outward incidents which there occurred to him ; significant, be it observed, of some deeper meaning. If we turn to Goethe’s Italian Journey, we find a story of the old woman who sat as a model when he painted the Witch’s portrait. She took care of his chambers for him, and rushed into the room to beg him to come and see a miracle. “ The cat is praying before the image.” Goethe remarks that the cat did seem to be aping human postures of devotion before his head of Jupiter ; but he “ very soon saw through this cat devotion,” this monkeyish imitation of man. ‘‘ The cat was after fat which it found in the beard of the figure.”Goethe takes pains to tell this story, and states that he selected only the significant portions of his Journals for publication. He also gives an account of visiting a dark old kitchen. In Faust this kitchen is again described, and we have two catlike apes, Meerkatze, engaged in all sorts of monkey tricks. Goethe, talking to Eckermann, “ assumed the tone and mien of Mephistopheles,” and said : “ If I had been a bishop, I would have lied and played the hypocrite so well and long that my £30,000 a year should not have escaped me.” “Above all, I would have done everything to make the night of ignorance still darker.” In Rome he goes to see the papal function, and sets down his disgust at the mummery and monkeyish aping of religious postures. He is, “ like Diogenes [in the Sistine Chapel], in search of an honest man.” It “ fills him with amazement,” and over it he makes his “ silent observation.” Then he goes out, and takes up his Faust again, to write this scene, The Witch’s Kitchen. “ Thank God,” he writes to Zelter, “ we have withdrawn ourselves from priestcraft as far as we have drawn near to Nature.”

In Truth and Poetry he speaks of “ an irreconcilable hatred of the priesthood, sprung from the contemplation of the rude, tasteless, and mind-destroying foolery of the monks.” In his Sayings he calls it

“ A crazy ornament brewery:
It is pure clownishness to me.
No man will take now, for example,
The elephant’s, the grotesque’s temple ;
With sacred crotchets, mockeries odd,
One neither Nature feels, nor God.”

In The Witch’s Kitchen we find these catlike apes tending a great kettle, from the steam of which strange forms arise, and they are taking care that it does not boil over.

“ What do I want of this cooked-up mess ? ” says Faust.

“Has Nature, has a noble spirit,
Not found a balsam anywhere ? ”

“ What are you cooking up, there ?" says Mephistopheles.

“ Soup for beggars ! ” reply the monkeys.

To quote again from Eckermann’s report of Goethe’s conversation : “ Quench not the Spirit, says the Apostle. There are many absurdities in the propositions of the Church; nevertheless, rule it will, and so it must have a narrow-minded multitude which bows its head and likes to be ruled. The high and richly endowed clergy dread nothing more than the enlightenment of the lower orders. They withheld the Bible from them as long as possible.” That record of divine poverty, the meek who shall inherit the earth, — what strange forms have arisen from the cooking over of the gospel message ! Mephistopheles asks : —

How do you like the dainty beasts ?


As tasteless and insipid as were ever seen.


No, such a discourse as this
Is just the one I ‘d rather carry on !

These apes come fawning up to Mephistopheles, — these apes who are only anxious to “ warm their paws.” As long as they can warm their paws you will not see The Witch. They hint to the Demon of Selfishness, the old worldling, that what they want is gold.

“How happy tlie monkey would think himself,
Could he in the lottery put his pelf ! ”

says Mephistopheles. And then they tell him that " this great ball is the world, that it is hollow and brittle. Don’t say, dear son, you are alive; you must soon die. It is of clay, and gives nothing but shards.” “ Philistine priests, lower than the brutes,” is one of Goethe’s Sayings in Rhyme.

“ God’s Earth, a hall, with splendor glows ;
Ye make it dark, but a vale of woes! ”

But here Faust, who has been looking in The Witch’s mirror, now going nearer to see, and then standing farther off, cries out: —

“ What see I ? What a Form divine
Appears within this magic mirror!
Oh, lend me love, to bear me near her,
The swiftest of those wings of thine!
Ah ! if I do not on this spot remain,
And if I venture to go near,
I only as in mists can see her.
That fairest image of a woman !
Is ‘t possible that woman can attain
Snch perfect beauty ? Must I in this human,
Reposing figure e’en the Essence see
Of all the heavens ? On earth can such
things be ? ”

In the very movement of the German verse, a strain of melody amid the monkey jargon, we feel the music of the Celestial Love motive. This is the figure which Goethe has borrowed from the Church, her Mater Gloriosa, the gracious image of the Ewigweibliche, which, amid all her nonsense and shortcoming, she has forever held aloft in that magic mirror of the Virgin Soul. Go nearer, scrutinize her myth of the Immaculate Conception closely, and it disappears, as all myths do, in the harsh light of common sense ; but stand off, and view it as a beautiful picture of The Mother, that shrine where the Lord of Life forever renews, in sacred mystery, “The Garment of Life, which the Deity wears.’ ’

In this image of a woman must we not see “ the Essence of all the heavens ” ? Here is that Love which is the cocreator and incarnation of the Divine. When we leave this “wild waste of craziness,” as Faust calls it, and in the next scene, find ourselves “ outside the cathedral door,” this Love, which on the misty surface announces its advent, will pass by us in the sunlit street.

But Goethe is not yet through with his terrible arraignment of the old Mother Church. “ Come, come,” he seems to say with Hamlet: —

“ Come, come, and sit you down ; you shall
not budge ;
You go not, till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.”

We cannot, however, now follow this scene line by line, though the force of its biting sarcasm would become yet more apparent. We pause but for one more count in this searching indictment, and then pass on. Mephistopheles is brought by the monkeys to The Witch’s old settle, and given her hearth-brush. He says:—

“ I sit here like a king upon my throne ;
I have the sceptre, lack the crown alone.”

The monkeys bring a crown to him, and beg him to be “ so good as to belime it with sweat and blood ; ” yet before they fairly get it on his head their carelessness breaks it to pieces. Look through Goethe’s eyes on the history of modern Europe, to see these broken crowns belimed, at the request of Rome, with sweat and blood. But meanwhile the kettle, which the monkeys have forgotten to tend, boils over and flames up the chimney.

“ When,” says Goethe to Eckermann, “ the poor church member sees in the gospels the poverty and indigence of Christ, who, with his disciples, traveled humbly on foot, what will he think of the princely bishop who rattles along in his carriage drawn by six horses ? ” May we not well ask ourselves what was the effect of this " soup for beggars,” this doctrine of the dignity of the laborer, of the Carpenter and the poor fishermen, on the Reformation, on the American, and still more on the French Revolution ? How busy the clergy were warming their paws just before that tremendous flame rushed up the chimney, and how the old Scarlet Woman raved, till this Philistine iconoclast threatened to smash her pots for her!

Passing, in The Witch’s “ once one’s one,” Goethe’s dislike of theology, we must leave The Witch, only noticing Goethe’s idea of the effect of her appeal, addressed solely to the senses and the emotions. The most learned physicians tell us that the effect of exciting any part of the interwoven emotional system is to excite all parts, even the apparently most distant. As The Witch offers her chalice to Faust, which shall give him, she promises, a new birth, across its surface flicker little flames of hell. “ Down with it! ” exclaims Mephistopheles ; and then aside : —

“ With this drink in your body you’re a new
You ’ll see a Helen now in every woman.”

And so they go on to the next scene, — outside the cathedral door. There Faust sees Margaret, that loveliest image of womanhood, pass by, and longs to possess her at once.

Here we enter upon that tragedy of Margaret which the English theatre managers give us as the play of Faust. It is as if a German should extract the story of Ophelia from Hamlet, and give that as Shakespeare’s masterpiece. This •story of Margaret is too familiar, through the operatic and theatrical representations of it under the absurdly abused name of Goethe’s Faust, to need recalling as a whole. We may pause one moment over it to renew our acquaintance with that passage, omitted by the theatre managers, which contains Goethe’s special explanation of his view of the Deity, which, as the Life of life, is so large a part of the aim of this Drama of Existence. As Margaret passes through the garden on Faust’s arm, she asks : —

Do you believe in God ?


My darling, who can say,
I believe in God ? Parson or sage the question
Ask, and your answer only seems an odd,
Curt mockery of the asker.


Then you do not believe ?


Sweet face, do not mistake, nor for me grieve.
Who dares to name Him,
Who so expresses
Himself, professes,
I believe in Him ?
Who that can feel
Presumes to steel
Himself to say, I don’t believe in Him ?
Enfolding All,
Upholding All,
Enfolds, upholds He not
You, me, Himself ?
Does not the heaven o’erarch us yonder ?
Does not the earth lie firm beneath ?
And, up there, glancing friendly,
Do not the stars, eternal, rise ?
Do not my eyes look into yours,
And do not all things throng,
In head and heart, to you,
And weave themselves, in mystery eternal,
Unseen and seen, around you ?
Fill your heart full of that, it is so great;
And when you with the sense of it are wholly
Then name it what you will, —
Name ‘t I Bliss. Heart, Love, God!
I have no name for that!
Feeling is everything ;
Name is but sound and smoke,
Clouding the glow of heaven,


That’s all right’fair and good, and even
The priest almost said that, only hbe spoke
With other words, that differed just a bit.


They say it everywhere ; say it,
All hearts beneath the heavenly day,
Each in his language and his way.
Then why not I in mine, my dear ?

From this point the tragedy of Margaret speeds on to its dreadful close. For a moment Faust, in the presence of Nature, alone amid forest and cavern, had seen whither he was hurrying them both, the abyss that yawned at their feet ; but the demon, with his lure of pleasure, had them too closely in his grasp to escape. The mocking girls at the fountain tell the sad story ; and we see its effect in the awful agony of soul sobbing through the young creature’s prayer to the Virgin Mother, and her vain attempt to pray in the cathedral, with the taunting fiend at her elbow.

Meanwhile, the Demon of Selfishness bears Faust away, to forget his remorse in that carnival of sensuality and self-seeking on the Brocken, the witches’ revel. Goethe laughs with Zelter over the German commentary which hunts down the historical foundation of the scene, as if the prose fact were important, though he admits using it as the foundation of his " poetical fable.”

Let us see, then, what they are doing in these witches’ orgies. Faust, in the lovely wood-path, would linger and enjoy the beauty of the spring night. Mephistopheles urges him to hasten to the summit. He asks an ignis fatuus, a light of error, as the Germans call it, to light the path upward. Through what swarms of animal creatures they thread their way! The mountain is alive with a seething mass of deformed animal humanity, all struggling to get to the top. It is the night of the witches. The lurid light, like the gleam of ruddy gold in the firelight, glimmers through the abyss, glows in clouds of mist through a vaporous veil, threads the valley with a hundred veins, here confined sparkles like golden sand.

“ And see, in their whole height rise o’er us,
Enkindled, all the mountain walls,”

Here, says Mephistopheles, is a midway elevation, where we can see, with astonishment,

“ How Mammon in the mountain glows.”

Need we go far afield to find the meaning of the poet’s fable ? On that midway elevation of what is called an “ easy competence,” as we come from the country into the mad whirl of struggling humanity in a great city, we realize vividly the rush for wealth, the constant struggle to get to the top. Look out, again with Goethe’s eyes, on the orgies that preceded the French Revolution.

“ Call me Sir Baron,” remarks Mephistopheles to The Witch.

“ I am a cavalier like other cavaliers.”

As we see all this, shall we be quite at a loss for the poet’s meaning ? Mephistopheles, looking on the scene, exclaims to Faust, that Soul of Man : —

“ Has not Sir Mammon grandly lighted
His palace for this festival! ”

Our country people,” says Goethe to Eckermann, continuing a remark about the last day seeming to be near, which we find repeated in this scene as Faust and Mephistopheles approach the horrible revelry,—“our country people have certainly kept up their strength, and will, I hope, long be able to secure us from total decay and destruction. The rural population are to be regarded as a magazine, from which the forces of declining manhood are always recruited and refreshed. But just go into our great towns, and you will feel quite differently. Just take a turn beside a second Diable Boiteux or a physician of large practice, and he will whisper to you tales which will horrify you at the misery, and astonish you at the vice, with which human nature is visited, and from which society suffers.”

Here, then, in Mephistopheles we find our “second diable boiteux,” by whose side we take a turn through the great city ; and, after reading this paragraph. we may enjoy with Goethe his quiet laugh with Zelter over the labors of the commentators who have “taken such pains to convert poetry back into prose. They have rendered a service, however, in searching out the originals who sat for the different portraits; for here, as everywhere, Goethe always draws, even his most fanciful figures, from a living model. We may, perhaps, in connection with this recall Goethe’s remark to Schiller, on “the peculiar character of the public in a great city. It lives in an incessant tumult of getting and spending; and what we call the higher mood can neither be produced there nor communicated; ” and his observation to Eckermann, that he “anticipates special pleasure from Delacroix’s scenes on the Brocken. You will see here the extensive experience of life for which a great city like Paris has given him such opportunities.”

With the disgust which comes to Faust, dancing with his fair, nude partner, as her animal nature shows itself to him, the image of his purer love returns ; and in the next scene, again face to face with Nature, he sees his action in its true light, curses Mephistopheles, and bids him bear him to where Gretchen is imprisoned. In that most pathetic scene of all literature which ends the First Part, we learn from the distracted utterances of poor Gretchen, raving amid the straw on the prison floor, the secret of her tragic end.

“The world. " says Goethe, “ is to me like a great factory, where, amid the whirring looms and wheels, we all work out the purposes of the Master Workman. " To Gretchen, with the great gift of love, the great responsibility of another life has been given. She too, at work in this whirring loom of time, has been made the guardian of a part of that fabric, the Garment of Life, by which we recognize the Deity. “If we work with the Master,” Goethe says, “ our holiday will come, and our reward. If we strive to seize the web or destroy it, we shall destroy ourselves.” Gretchen, neglecting the loom, has, for her own convenience, stretched out her hand to get rid of the responsibility imposed upon her, and the awful wheels of God come over and crush her. But notice, as the night ends, in the gray streak of dawn she recognizes the divine justice, and, refusing to escape the penalty, becomes, in her exalted reunion with the Divine Purpose, the influence that still shall lead her lover upward and on.

In the Second Part we see, reviewing the larger field, the life of the race; what this influence, this manifestation of the Ewig-weibliche, the Woman-Soul, has there done for us. But all this must be reserved for another occasion.

William P. Andrews.