[The Romantic period in England was toward the end of the Eighteenth century – three hundred years after Faust and two hundred after the first known manuscript and Marlowe’s 1590-ish rendition of the tale. But those early years were the beginnings of it. Marlowe’s time was England’s “Age of Discovery” when they explored the Earth. They also sought after God, expecting to find Him in through Christian devotion and in His workings on the Earth and in the heavens.
Today we also look for God internally, but through unorthodox spiritual exploration, including through drug use, which when used for that purpose, we call entheogens – a very recent term. In Faust’s time, God was to be found through Christianity and they didn’t possess entheogens like opium, nor would they necessarily expect to find Him that way.
The Faustian creatures that sought knowledge through drug use were of later years. In fact, while the Romantic period was the beginning of that, our own age is the continuation of it. Today people scour the world and the pharmacopeia looking for more drugs… and more drugs… and more…. It seems a strange and frankly unlikely way to find God from history’s perspective.
Anyway, the Romantic period was the start of our own Age of Discovery into the workings of the mind – or is it the brain? While Faust turned to magic, would Faust be a drug user today? ]From Wikipedia:
“The Romantic era in Britain was not only a time of growth for literature and poetry, but also a time of increased opium use. Interspersed among importation of opium from the Middle and Far East countries, Britain produced a meager amount itself and utilized it, at least initially, as a medicine and also an ingredient in patent medicines to treat a variety of pains and diseases. Given opium’s euphoric and psychologically reinforcing properties, users eventually began using it for recreation instead of healing purposes. Its hypothesized effects on visions and the subsequent products of the Romantic poets who used opium have been met by many theories, but three milestone literary criticisms about opium usually emerge–M. H. Abrams’ claim that opium opened up a creative channel, Elisabeth Schneider’s argument that opium did not inspire visions, but only a day-dream like trance, and Alethea Hayter’s position that opium’s influences were a combination of the previous two claims.”Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_and_Romanticism>
“Dr. Charles Alston was the first person in Britain to create opium in the 1730s. In one of his papers he describes the biology or botany of the poppy plant, how he created opium, and the experiments he conducted on animals. One section of his paper describes how opium was believed to treat pain, cause sleep, increase perspiration, raise the spirits, and relax the muscles. With these things in mind, it was recommended for pain and any sort of irritation to the nerves or motions of spirits. Opium became a popular “aspirin-like” product of the early nineteenth century. George Crabbe was prescribed opium in 1790 to relieve pain, and he continued to use it for the rest of his life. At the time of George Crabbe’s first prescription, the East India Company began hiring Indian Villages to cultivate large quantities of opium. Medicinally, it had been used as a reliable cure since the beginning of the medical field. William Cullen and John Brown, two well-known physicians at the time, claimed it cured things such as typhus, cancer, cholera, rheumatism, smallpox, malaria, venereal disease, hysteria, and gout in the eighteenth century. However, some individuals recognized the dangers that opium held. Some wrote into newspapers, such as The Times, and emphasized the dangers of giving a child medication such as the “Syrup of Poppies” or other patent medications, which contained an unspecified amount of opium known to be dangerous to give to infants. A deeper medical analysis revealed that opium created and uplifted spirit and happy disposition, which was then followed by symptoms of a very opposite effect which includes the mind “becoming gradually dull and languid, the body averse to motion, little affected by customary impressions, and inclined to sleep.” Following a larger dose, “all these symptoms continue to increase; and tremors, convulsions, vertigo, stupor, insensibility, and deprivation of muscular action appear.” Regardless of the mixed reviews in the public sphere, during the time of increasing imports and the unconcern of doctors (especially demonstrated by certain journals documenting how to cultivate the poppy plant and create opium), there were more hard drugs in England than any time before or any time that followed. Eventually, the drug moved beyond medicinal use as its imaginative powers attracted attention—the descriptions accompanying the effects of opium moved from drowsy effects to those of its power over the imagination and thought process. This was especially true within the circle of Romantic poets, specifically Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincey, who suffered from addiction to opium.”Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_and_Romanticism>