The History of the wicked life and horrid death of Dr. John Faustus (1790)

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The History of the wicked life and horrid death of Dr. John Faustus  (1790) 








How he sold himself to the Devil, to have power for 24 years to do what he pleased.

The strange things done by him and Mephostophiles.


Account how the Devil came for him at the end of twenty-four years, and tore him to pieces.







Dr Faustus's birth and education; with an account of his falling from the Scriptures.

DOctor 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 no children, he took a great fancy for his nephew, and resolved to make a scholar of him; and in order thereunto, put him to the Latinschool, when he took his learning extraordinary well; afterwards he put him in the university to study divinity; but Faustus could in no wise fancy that employment; wherefore he betook himself to the study of that which his inclination was 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.

How Dr. Faustus conjured up the Devil, making him appear in a wood.

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: 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 Wirtemberg in Germany, and having a friend with him, that was desirous to know the Doctor's art, he desired him to let him see if he could then and there bring Mephostophiles before them; 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; 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 waggons had been running upon paved stones: After this it thundered and lightened as if the whole earth had been on fire. Faustus and his friend amazed at this noise, and the devil's long tarrying, thought to leave his circle; whereupon the devil made him such music, the like was never heard in the world; this so ravished Faustus that he began again to conjure Mephostophiles 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 been opened, and all the tormented souls had been there: Faustus, in the mean while, asking the devil many questions, and commanding him to shew many tricks.


How Mephostophiles came to Dr. Faustus's house, and what happened between them.

FAustus commanded the spirit to meet him at his house by ten 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 shall 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 ruleth 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 farther than our power is, which we receive from Lucifer, who you know, for his pride was thrust out of heaven; but it is he that commands whole legions of us; his kingdom, is under 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 to give his soul to the devil.

And while Faustus was in these devilish cogitations, night drew on, and this hellish spirit appeared to Faustus, acquainting him, that now he had 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 Mephostophiles should be always at his command; that whensoever 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 have whatsoever he would wish or ask for; whereupon Dr Faustus withdrew and pricked his wrist, receiving the blood in a small saucer, which curled 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 writ as followeth:

'I, John Faustus, approved Doctor of Divinity, with my own hand do acknowledge and testify myself to become a servant to Lucifer, Prince of Septentrional and Orient; and to him I freely and voluntarily give both body and soul; in consideration, for the space of twenty-four years, if I be served in all things I shall require, or which is reasonable by him to be allowed; at the expiration of which from the date ensuing, I give to him all power to do with me at his pleasure; to rule, to fetch and carry me where he pleases, body and soul: Hereupon I defy God and Christ, and all the host 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 own blood, and subscribing my name to it, calling all the powers and infernal potentates to witness, it is my true intent and meaning.'

John Faustus.


What happened to Dr. Faustus after the signing of the Articles.

WHEN Faustus had made an end of his writing, he called Mephostophiles to him, and delivered him the bond; whereupon the spirit told him, that if he did not repent of what he had done, he should enjoy all the pleasure his thoughts could form, and that he would immediately divert him. He caused a kennel of hounds to run down a hare in the hall, and vanished; then a bull danced before Faustus, also there was a lion and a bear which fell to fighting before Faustus; and the lion destroyed the bear; after that came a dragon and destroyed the lion: and this, with abundance of more pastime, did the spirit present to the Doctor's view, concluding with all manner of music, with some hundreds of spirits which came and danced before Faustus: After the music was over, and Faustus began to look about him, he saw ten sacks full of silver, which he went to dispose of but could not; for none could handle it but himself, it was so hot. This pastime did so please Faustus, that he gave Mephostophiles the will that he made, and kept a copy of it in his own hands, the spirit and Faustus being agreed, they dwelt together, and the devil was in their house-keeping; for their was never any thing given away to the poor, which before Faustus made this contract was frequently done; but the case is now altered.

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How Faustus served the Duke of Bavaria.

FAustus having sold his soul to the devil it was reported among his neighbours, so that none would keep him company but his spirit; which was very frequent with him, and did whatsoever was commanded him, playing merry tricks for to please doctor Faustus. Not far from Faustus' house lived the duke of Bavaria, the duke of Saxony, and the bishop of Salisburgh, whose houses and cellars Mephostophiles used to visit, and to bring the best of every thing they had: One day the duke of Bavaria had invited most of the country-gentlemen to dinner, for whose entertainment there was abundance of provision got ready: the gentry being come, and ready to sit down to dinner, in an instant Mephostophiles came and took away all with him, leaving them full of admiration. If any time Faustus had a mind for wild fowls the spirit would call whole flocks in at the window; Also the spirit did teach Faustus to do the like, so that no lock nor key could keep them out, the devil also taught Faustus to fly into the air, and to act many things which are incredible, and too large for this small book to contain.


How Dr Faustus dreamed of hell in his sleep and what he saw there.

AFTER Faustus had a long conference with his spirit concerning the fall of Lucifer, and the state here, and condition of the fallen angels, and in a vision or dream, saw hell, and all the devils and souls that were tormented there; he also saw hell divided into several cells or deep holes; and for every cell, or deep ward, there was a devil appointed to punish those that were under his custody. Having seen this sight he much marvelled at it; and having Mephostophiles with him, he asked him what sort of people they were that lay in the first deep pit? Mephostophiles told him they were those who pretended themselves to be physicians, and had poisoned many thousands to try practice; and now, saith the spirit, they have the same administred to them, as they did to others, tho' not with the same effect, for they will never die here, saith he. Over their heads was a shelf laden with gallipots full of poison. Having past them, he came to a long entry exceeding dark, where there was a mighty crowd; he asked them what these were? the spirit told him they were pick-pockets; who loved to be in a crowd when they were in the other world, and to content them, they put them in a crowd there; among them were some padders on the high-way, and those of that function. Walking further he saw many thousands of vintners, and some millions of taylors, insomuch, that they could not tell whence to get stowage for them; a great number of pastry-cooks with peels on their heads. Walking further, the spirit opening a great cellar-door, from which arose a terrible noise, he asked what they were? the spirit told him, they were witches, and those that had been pretended saints in the other world, but now they did squabble, fight and tear one another. Not far from them lay the whoremongers and adulterers, who made such a hideous noise, that he was very much startled. Walking down a few steps, he espied an incredable number, almost hid with smoke; he asked what they were? the spirit told him they were millers and bakers; but, good lack, what a noise was there among them, the millers crying to the bakers, and the bakers to the millers for help; but all was in vain, for there was none to help them. Passing on further, he saw thousands of shop-keepers, some of whom he knew, who were tormented for defrauding and cheating their customers. Having taking this prospect of hell, the spirit Mephostophiles took him in his arms, and carried him home to his own house, where he awaking, was amazed at what he had seen in his dream. Being come to himself, he asked the spirit in what place hell was, and who made it? Mephostophiles answered, Knowest thou, that before the fall of Lucifer, there was no hell, but upon his fall, was hell ordained. As for the substance of hell, we devils do not know; it is the wrath of God that makes hell so furious, and what we procured by our fall: but where hell is, or how it is governed, and whatesoever thou desirest to know, when thou comest thither thou shalt be satisfied as far as we know ourselves.

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Containing some Tricks of Dr. Faustus.

DR Faustus having attained his desire of his spirit, had now full power to act or do any thing whatsoever he pleased. Upon a time the Emperor had a desire to see him, and likewise some of the Doctor's tricks; whereupon he was requested by the emperor to do somewhat to make him merry, but the Doctor in the mean while looking round about him, at last espied a Lord looking out at the window, and the Doctor calling his spirit to help him, he in an instant fastened a pair of horns upon the Lord's head, that he could not get his head in till Faustus took the horns off again, which were soon taken off invisibly: the Lord whom Faustus had served so, was extremely vexed, and resolved to be revenged on the Doctor, and to that end, lay a mile out of town, for Faustus's passing by, he being that day to depart from the country; Faustus coming by a wood-side, beheld the Lord mounted upon a mighty warlike horse, who ran full drift against Faustus, who by the help of his spirit, took him horse and all, and carried him before the Emperor's palace, and grafted a pair of horns on his head as big as an ox's, which he could never be rid of, but wore them to his dying day.


How Dr. Faustus ate a load of hay.

FAustus, upon a time, having many Doctors and Masters of arts with him, went to walk in the fields, where they met a man with a load of hay: How now, good fellow, saith Faustus, what shall I give thee to fill my belly with hay? The clown thought he had been a mad-man to talk of eating hay, told him he should fill his belly for a penny; to which the Doctor agreed, and fell to eating, and quickly devoured half the load: at which the Doctor's companions laughed to see how simply the poor country fellow looked, and to hear how heartily he prayed the Doctor to forbear. Faustus pitying the poor man, went away and before the man got near home, all the hay that the Doctor had eaten was in the cart, which made the country fellow admire.


How he struck a parcel of students blind, that were fighting together; and how he served a parcel of Clowns who were singing and ranting in an inn.

THirteen students meeting with seven more near Dr. Faustus' house, fell out extremely, first in words, and at last to blows; the thirteen being too hard for the seven, and Dr. Faustus looking out of his window and seeing the fray, and how much they were over-match'd, conjur'd them all blind, so that one could not see the other; and in this manner they fought and smote one another, which made all that saw them laugh: At length the people parted them, and led them to their chambers. They instantly received sight. The Doctor coming into an inn with some friends, was disturbed by the hallowing and bauling of a parcel of drunken clowns, whereupon when their mouths were wide open, he so conjured them, that by no means they could shut them again; and so all on a sudden there was a deep silence; and after they had stared one upon another, without being able to speak, thinking they were bewitched, they dropped one by one away in a stinking fear, and never could be got to the house afterwards.


How Dr. Faustus helped a young man to a fair lady.

THERE was a gallant young gentleman that was in love with a fair lady who was of a proper personage, living at Wirtemberg near the Doctor's house: This gentleman had long sought this lady in marriage, but could not attain his desire; and having placed his affections so much upon her, he was ready to pine away, and had certainly died of grief, had he not made his address to the Doctor, to whom he opened the whole matter. No sooner had the gentleman told his case to the doctor, but he told him he needed not fear, for his desire should be fulfilled, and he should have her that he had so much desired, and that this gentlewoman should have none but him, which was accordingly done; for Faustus so changed the mind of the damsel, by his damnable practice, that she could think of nothing else but him, whom before she hated; and Faustus' desire was thus: He gave him an inchanted ring, which he ordered him to put into the lady's hand, or to slip it on her finger, which he did; and no sooner had she the ring, but her heart burnt with love to him; she instead of frowns, could do nothing but smile on him, and not be at rest, till she asked him if he thought he could love her, and make her his wife? He gladly answered, with all his heart. So they were married the next day, and all by the help of Dr. Faustus.

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How Dr. Faustus made seven women dance naked in the market-place.

FAustus walking in the market-place, saw seven women sitting all in a row, selling eggs and butter, &c. of every one he bought something and departed: No sooner was he gone, but all the eggs and butter were gone out of their baskets, and they knew not how: At last they were told, that Dr. Faustus had conjured their goods away; they thereupon ran speedily to the Doctor's house, and demanded satisfaction for their ware: He resolving to make himself and the town's people merry by his conjuring art, made them return to their baskets naked as ever ever they were born; and having danced a while in the market-place, every one's goods were conjured into their baskets again, and they set at liberty.


How Faustus served a country fellow that was driving swine.

DR. Faustus, as he was going to Wirtemberg overtook a country fellow driving an hundred swine, which were very head-strong, some running one way, and some another; so that the driver could not tell how to get them along: The Doctor taking notice of it, by his conjuring art, made every one of them dance upon their two hind legs, with a fiddle in one of their fore-feet, and with the other fore-foot they played upon the fiddle, and so they danced and fiddled all the way they came into Wirtemberg market, the driver of them all the way dancing before them, which made the people wonder: After the doctor had satisfied himself with the sport, he conjured the fiddles away, and the driver then offered them to sale, and quickly sold them all, and took the money; but before he was gone out of the house, Faustus had conjured the hogs out of the market-place, and sent them all home to the aforesaid driver's house. The men that bought them seeing all the swine gone, stopp'd the man that sold them, and would have their money, which he was forced to pay, and so returned home sorrowfull, and not knowing what to do; but, to his great amazement, found all his swine in their styes.


How Dr Faustus began to bethink himself of the near approach of his end.

FAustus having spun out his twenty four years, within a month or two, began to consider what he could do to cheat the devil, but could not find any way to prevent his miserable end, which was now near; whereupon he now cries out to himself, 'O miserable wretch that I am, I have now given myself to the devil for a few years pleasure; to satisfy my carnal and devilish desires, and now I must pay full dear; now must I have torment without any ease: Wo is me, for there is no help for me; I dare not, I cannot look for mercy from God, for I have abandoned him; I have freely denied him to be my God, I have given myself to the devil, to be his for ever; and now my time is almost expired; I have had my desires; my filthy lusts have been satisfied, and I must be tormented for ever and ever.

A neighbour of his, a godly old man, hearing of his way of living, in compassion to his soul came to him, and with tears besought him to have more regard to his precious soul, laying before him the promises of God's grace and mercy, freely offered to all repenting sinners, and spoke so feelingly, that Faustus shed tears, and promised to try to repent. This good man was no sooner gone, but Mephostophiles found him pensive on his bed, and muttering what had happened, began to reproach him with breach of covenant to his lord Lucifer, and thereupon almost twisted his neck behind him, which made him cry out most lamentably, threatening to tear him in pieces, unless he renewed his obligation, which for fear with much sorrow he did, in a manner the same as the former, which he confirmed by the latter.


How Faustus was warned of the spirit to prepare for his end.

FAustus full time being come, the spirit appeared to him, and shewed him his writing, and told him that the next night, the devil would fetch him away, which made the Doctor's heart ake: But to divert himself, he sent for some Doctors and Master Batchelors of Arts, and other students to dine with him, for whom he provided great store of varieties with music and the like; But all would not keep up his spirits, for the hour drawing near, whereupon his countenance changing, the Doctors and Masters of Arts inquired of him the reasons of his melancholiness? To which Faustus answered, My friends, you have known me these many years, and how I have practised all manner of wickedness; I have been a great conjurer, which devilish art I obtained of the devil: And for to obtain power to do whatever I pleased, I sold myself to the devil for twenty-four years time; which full time being out this night, makes me full of horror: I have called you, my friends, to see this my dreadful end; and I pray let my miserable death be a warning to you all, how you study that dreadful art of conjuring; for if you once begin it, a thousand to one but it will lead you to the devil, whither I am this night to go, whether I will or not. They hearing of this sad story, blamed him for concealing it so long, telling him, if he had made them acquainted before, they thought it might have been prevented: He told them, he had a desire several times to have disclosed this intrigue, but the devil told him, that if he did, he would presently fetch him away; He also told them he had a desire to join with the godly, and leave off that wicked course, but immediately the devil used to come and torment him, &c. But now said Faustus, it is but in vain for me to talk of what I did intend, for I have sold myself to the devil, body and soul is his. No sooner had he spoken these words, but suddenly it fell a thundering and lightening, the like was never heard; whereupon Faustus went into the great hall, the Doctors and Masters staying in the next room, intending to hear his end. About twelve o'clock the house shook so terribly, that they thought it would have tumbled down about their heads; and suddenly all the doors and windows of the house were broken to pieces, as if all nature had been changed, so that they trembled, and wished themselves elsewhere, when upon a great clap of thunder, with a whirlwind, the doors flew open, and a mighty rushing of wind entered, with a hissing of serpents, shrieks and cries, upon which he lamentably cried out murder, and there was such a roaring in the hall, as if all the devils in hell had been there. When day-light appeared, they took the boldness to enter the room, and found his brains beaten out against the wall, and the floor sprinkled with blood, and his eyes torn out, very terrible to behold; but missing the body, they went in search of it, and found it on the dunghill, mangled and mashed to pieces. So ended this miserable wretches' life, forsaking God and all goodness, and giving himself up to his implacable enemy, which we hope may stand, not only as a fearful, but lasting monument and warning to others. In respect to his function, learning and other qualifications, his mangled body was decently buried.


This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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