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Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history online

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is, altogether unspeakable. A visible Divinity dwelt in them; to our
young Friend all women were holy, were heavenly. As yet he but saw
them flitting past, in their many-coloured angel-plumage; or hovering
mute and inaccessible on the outskirts of _Æsthetic Tea_: all of air
they were, all Soul and Form; so lovely, like mysterious priestesses,
in whose hand was the invisible Jacob's-ladder, whereby man might
mount into very Heaven. That he, our poor Friend, should ever win for
himself one of these Gracefuls (_Holden_) - _Ach Gott!_ how could he
hope it; should he not have died under it? There was a certain
delirious vertigo in the thought.

'Thus was the young man, if all-sceptical of Demons and Angels such as
the vulgar had once believed in, nevertheless not unvisited by hosts
of true Sky-born, who visibly and audibly hovered round him whereso he
went; and they had that religious worship in his thought, though as
yet it was by their mere earthly and trivial name that he named them.
But now, if on a soul so circumstanced, some actual Air-maiden,
incorporated into tangibility and reality, should cast any electric
glance of kind eyes, saying thereby, "Thou too mayest love and be
loved"; and so kindle him, - good Heaven, what a volcanic,
earthquake-bringing, all-consuming fire were probably kindled!'

Such a fire, it afterwards appears, did actually burst-forth, with
explosions more or less Vesuvian, in the inner man of Herr Diogenes;
as indeed how could it fail? A nature, which, in his own figurative
style, we might say, had now not a little carbonised tinder, of
Irritability; with so much nitre of latent Passion, and sulphurous
Humour enough; the whole lying in such hot neighbourhood, close by 'a
reverberating furnace of Fantasy': have we not here the components of
driest Gunpowder, ready, on occasion of the smallest spark, to
blaze-up? Neither, in this our Life-element, are sparks anywhere
wanting. Without doubt, some Angel, whereof so many hovered round,
would one day, leaving 'the outskirts of _Æsthetic Tea_,' flit nigher;
and, by electric Promethean glance, kindle no despicable firework.
Happy, if it indeed proved a Firework, and flamed-off rocketwise, in
successive beautiful bursts of splendour, each growing naturally from
the other, through the several stages of a happy Youthful Love; till
the whole were safely burnt-out; and the young soul relieved with
little damage! Happy, if it did not rather prove a Conflagration and
mad Explosion; painfully lacerating the heart itself; nay perhaps
bursting the heart in pieces (which were Death); or at best, bursting
the thin walls of your 'reverberating furnace,' so that it rage
thenceforth all unchecked among the contiguous combustibles (which
were Madness): till of the so fair and manifold internal world of our
Diogenes, there remained Nothing, or only the 'crater of an extinct
volcano!'

From multifarious Documents in this Bag _Capricornus_, and in the
adjacent ones on both sides thereof, it becomes manifest that our
philosopher, as stoical and cynical as he now looks, was heartily and
even frantically in Love: here therefore may our old doubts whether
his heart were of stone or of flesh give way. He loved once; not
wisely but too well. And once only: for as your Congreve needs a new
case or wrappage for every new rocket, so each human heart can
properly exhibit but one Love, if even one; the 'First Love which is
infinite' can be followed by no second like unto it. In more recent
years, accordingly, the Editor of these Sheets was led to regard
Teufelsdröckh as a man not only who would never wed, but who would
never even flirt; whom the grand-climacteric itself, and _St. Martin's
Summer_ of incipient Dotage, would crown with no new myrtle-garland.
To the Professor, women are henceforth Pieces of Art; of Celestial
Art, indeed; which celestial pieces he glories to survey in galleries,
but has lost thought of purchasing.

Psychological readers are not without curiosity to see how
Teufelsdröckh, in this for him unexampled predicament, demeans
himself; with what specialties of successive configuration, splendour
and colour, his Firework blazes-off. Small, as usual, is the
satisfaction that such can meet with here. From amid these confused
masses of Eulogy and Elegy, with their mad Petrarchan and Werterean
ware lying madly scattered among all sorts of quite extraneous matter,
not so much as the fair one's name can be deciphered. For, without
doubt, the title _Blumine_, whereby she is here designated, and which
means simply Goddess of Flowers, must be fictitious. Was her real name
Flora, then? But what was her surname, or had she none? Of what
station in Life was she; of what parentage, fortune, aspect?
Specially, by what Pre-established Harmony of occurrences did the
Lover and the Loved meet one another in so wide a world; how did they
behave in such meeting? To all which questions, not unessential in a
Biographic work, mere Conjecture must for most part return answer. 'It
was appointed,' says our Philosopher, 'that the high celestial orbit
of Blumine should intersect the low sublunary one of our Forlorn; that
he, looking in her empyrean eyes, should fancy the upper Sphere of
Light was come down into this nether sphere of Shadows; and finding
himself mistaken, make noise enough.'

We seem to gather that she was young, hazel-eyed, beautiful, and some
one's Cousin; highborn, and of high spirit; but unhappily dependent
and insolvent; living, perhaps, on the not-too-gracious bounty of
monied relatives. But how came 'the Wanderer' into her circle? Was it
by the humid vehicle of _Æsthetic Tea_, or by the arid one of mere
Business? Was it on the hand of Herr Towgood; or of the Gnädige Frau,
who, as ornamental Artist, might sometimes like to promote flirtation,
especially for young cynical Nondescripts? To all appearance, it was
chiefly by Accident, and the grace of Nature.

'Thou fair Waldschloss,' writes our Autobiographer, 'what stranger
ever saw thee, were it even an absolved Auscultator, officially
bearing in his pocket the last _Relatio ex Actis_ he would ever write,
but must have paused to wonder! Noble Mansion! There stoodest thou, in
deep Mountain Amphitheatre, on umbrageous lawns, in thy serene
solitude; stately, massive, all of granite; glittering in the western
sunbeams, like a palace of El Dorado, overlaid with precious metal.
Beautiful rose up, in wavy curvature, the slope of thy guardian Hills;
of the greenest was their sward, embossed with its dark-brown frets of
crag, or spotted by some spreading solitary Tree and its shadow. To
the unconscious Wayfarer thou wert also as an Ammon's Temple, in the
Libyan Waste; where, for joy and woe, the tablet of his Destiny lay
written. Well might he pause and gaze; in that glance of his were
prophecy and nameless forebodings.'

But now let us conjecture that the so presentient Auscultator has
handed-in his _Relatio ex Actis_; been invited to a glass of
Rhine-wine; and so, instead of returning dispirited and athirst to his
dusty Town-home, is ushered into the Gardenhouse, where sit the
choicest party of dames and cavaliers: if not engaged in Æsthetic Tea,
yet in trustful evening conversation, and perhaps Musical Coffee, for
we hear of 'harps and pure voices making the stillness live.'
Scarcely, it would seem, is the Gardenhouse inferior in respectability
to the noble Mansion itself. 'Embowered amid rich foliage,
rose-clusters, and the hues and odours of thousand flowers, here sat
that brave company; in front, from the wide-opened doors, fair outlook
over blossom and bush, over grove and velvet green, stretching,
undulating onwards to the remote Mountain peaks: so bright, so mild,
and everywhere the melody of birds and happy creatures: it was all as
if man had stolen a shelter from the Sun in the bosom-vesture of
Summer herself. How came it that the Wanderer advanced thither with
such forecasting heart (_ahndungsvoll_), by the side of his gay host?
Did he feel that to these soft influences his hard bosom ought to be
shut; that here, once more, Fate had it in view to try him; to mock
him, and see whether there were Humour in him?

'Next moment he finds himself presented to the party; and especially
by name to - Blumine! Peculiar among all dames and damosels glanced
Blumine, there in her modesty, like a star among earthly lights.
Noblest maiden! whom he bent to, in body and in soul; yet scarcely
dared look at, for the presence filled him with painful yet sweetest
embarrassment.

'Blumine's was a name well known to him; far and wide was the fair one
heard of, for her gifts, her graces, her caprices: from all which
vague colourings of Rumour, from the censures no less than from the
praises, had our friend painted for himself a certain imperious Queen
of Hearts, and blooming warm Earth-angel, much more enchanting than
your mere white Heaven-angels of women, in whose placid veins
circulates too little naphtha-fire. Herself also he had seen in public
places; that light yet so stately form; those dark tresses, shading a
face where smiles and sunlight played over earnest deeps: but all this
he had seen only as a magic vision, for him inaccessible, almost
without reality. Her sphere was too far from his; how should she ever
think of him; O Heaven! how should they so much as once meet together?
And now that Rose-goddess sits in the same circle with him; the light
of _her_ eyes has smiled on him; if he speak, she will hear it! Nay,
who knows, since the heavenly Sun looks into lowest valleys, but
Blumine herself might have aforetime noted the so unnotable; perhaps,
from his very gainsayers, as he had from hers, gathered wonder,
gathered favour for him? Was the attraction, the agitation mutual,
then; pole and pole trembling towards contact, when once brought into
neighbourhood? Say rather, heart swelling in presence of the Queen of
Hearts; like the Sea swelling when once near its Moon! With the
Wanderer it was even so: as in heavenward gravitation, suddenly as at
the touch of a Seraph's wand, his whole soul is roused from its
deepest recesses; and all that was painful and that was blissful
there, dim images, vague feelings of a whole Past and a whole Future,
are heaving in unquiet eddies within him.

'Often, in far less agitating scenes, had our still Friend shrunk
forcibly together; and shrouded-up his tremors and flutterings, of
what sort soever, in a safe cover of Silence, and perhaps of seeming
Stolidity. How was it, then, that here, when trembling to the core of
his heart, he did not sink into swoons, but rose into strength, into
fearlessness and clearness? It was his guiding Genius (_Dämon_) that
inspired him; he must go forth and meet his Destiny. Show thyself now,
whispered it, or be forever hid. Thus sometimes it is even when your
anxiety becomes transcendental, that the soul first feels herself able
to transcend it; that she rises above it, in fiery victory; and borne
on new-found wings of victory, moves so calmly, even because so
rapidly, so irresistibly. Always must the Wanderer remember, with a
certain satisfaction and surprise, how in this case he sat not silent,
but struck adroitly into the stream of conversation; which
thenceforth, to speak with an apparent not a real vanity, he may say
that he continued to lead. Surely, in those hours, a certain
inspiration was imparted him, such inspiration as is still possible in
our late era. The self-secluded unfolds himself in noble thoughts, in
free, glowing words; his soul is as one sea of light, the peculiar
home of Truth and Intellect; wherein also Fantasy bodies-forth form
after form, radiant with all prismatic hues.'

It appears, in this otherwise so happy meeting, there talked one
'Philistine'; who even now, to the general weariness, was dominantly
pouring-forth Philistinism (_Philistriositäten_); little witting what
hero was here entering to demolish him! We omit the series of
Socratic, or rather Diogenic utterances, not unhappy in their way,
whereby the monster, 'persuaded into silence,' seems soon after to
have withdrawn for the night. 'Of which dialectic marauder,' writes
our hero, 'the discomfiture was visibly felt as a benefit by most: but
what were all applauses to the glad smile, threatening every moment to
become a laugh, wherewith Blumine herself repaid the victor? He
ventured to address her, she answered with attention: nay what if
there were a slight tremor in that silver voice; what if the red glow
of evening were hiding a transient blush!

'The conversation took a higher tone, one fine thought called forth
another: it was one of those rare seasons, when the soul expands with
full freedom, and man feels himself brought near to man. Gaily in
light, graceful abandonment, the friendly talk played round that
circle; for the burden was rolled from every heart; the barriers of
Ceremony, which are indeed the laws of polite living, had melted as
into vapour; and the poor claims of _Me_ and _Thee_, no longer parted
by rigid fences, now flowed softly into one another; and Life lay all
harmonious, many-tinted, like some fair royal champaign, the sovereign
and owner of which were Love only. Such music springs from kind
hearts, in a kind environment of place and time. And yet as the light
grew more aërial on the mountain-tops, and the shadows fell longer
over the valley, some faint tone of sadness may have breathed through
the heart; and, in whispers more or less audible, reminded every one
that as this bright day was drawing towards its close, so likewise
must the Day of Man's Existence decline into dust and darkness; and
with all its sick toilings, and joyful and mournful noises sink in the
still Eternity.

'To our Friend the hours seemed moments; holy was he and happy: the
words from those sweetest lips came over him like dew on thirsty
grass; all better feelings in his soul seemed to whisper: It is good
for us to be here. At parting, the Blumine's hand was in his: in the
balmy twilight, with the kind stars above them, he spoke something of
meeting again, which was not contradicted; he pressed gently those
small soft fingers, and it seemed as if they were not hastily, not
angrily withdrawn.'

Poor Teufelsdröckh! it is clear to demonstration thou art smit: the
Queen of Hearts would see a 'man of genius' also sigh for her; and
there, by art-magic, in that preternatural hour, has she bound and
spell-bound thee. 'Love is not altogether a Delirium,' says he elsewhere;
'yet has it many points in common therewith. I call it rather a
discerning of the Infinite in the Finite, of the Idea made Real; which
discerning again may be either true or false, either seraphic or
demoniac, Inspiration or Insanity. But in the former case too, as in
common Madness, it is Fantasy that superadds itself to sight; on the
so petty domain of the Actual plants its Archimedes-lever, whereby to
move at will the infinite Spiritual. Fantasy I might call the true
Heaven-gate and Hell-gate of man: his sensuous life is but the small
temporary stage (_Zeitbühne_), whereon thick-streaming influences from
both these far yet near regions meet visibly, and act tragedy and
melodrama. Sense can support herself handsomely, in most countries, for
some eighteenpence a day; but for Fantasy planets and solar-systems
will not suffice. Witness your Pyrrhus conquering the world, yet
drinking no better red wine than he had before.' Alas! witness also
your Diogenes, flame-clad, scaling the upper Heaven, and verging
towards Insanity, for prize of a 'high-souled Brunette,' as if the
earth held but one and not several of these!

He says that, in Town, they met again: 'day after day, like his
heart's sun, the blooming Blumine shone on him. Ah! a little while
ago, and he was yet in all darkness; him what Graceful (_Holde_) would
ever love? Disbelieving all things, the poor youth had never learned
to believe in himself. Withdrawn, in proud timidity, within his own
fastnesses; solitary from men, yet baited by night-spectres enough, he
saw himself, with a sad indignation, constrained to renounce the
fairest hopes of existence. And now, O now! "She looks on thee," cried
he: "she the fairest, noblest; do not her dark eyes tell thee, thou
art not despised? The Heaven's-Messenger! All Heaven's blessings be
hers!" Thus did soft melodies flow through his heart; tones of an
infinite gratitude; sweetest intimations that he also was a man, that
for him also unutterable joys had been provided.

'In free speech, earnest or gay, amid lambent glances, laughter,
tears, and often with the inarticulate mystic speech of Music: such
was the element they now lived in; in such a many-tinted, radiant
Aurora, and by this fairest of Orient Light-bringers must our Friend
be blandished, and the new Apocalypse of Nature unrolled to him.
Fairest Blumine! And, even as a Star, all Fire and humid Softness, a
very Light-ray incarnate! Was there so much as a fault, a "caprice,"
he could have dispensed with? Was she not to him in very deed a
Morning-Star; did not her presence bring with it airs from Heaven? As
from Æolian Harps in the breath of dawn, as from the Memnon's Statue
struck by the rosy finger of Aurora, unearthly music was around him,
and lapped him into untried balmy Rest. Pale Doubt fled away to the
distance; Life bloomed-up with happiness and hope. The past, then, was
all a haggard dream; he had been in the Garden of Eden, then, and
could not discern it! But lo now! the black walls of his prison melt
away; the captive is alive, is free. If he loved his Disenchantress?
_Ach Gott!_ His whole heart and soul and life were hers, but never had
he named it Love: existence was all a Feeling, not yet shaped into a
Thought.'

Nevertheless, into a Thought, nay into an Action, it must be shaped;
for neither Disenchanter nor Disenchantress, mere 'Children of Time,'
can abide by Feeling alone. The Professor knows not, to this day, 'how
in her soft, fervid bosom the Lovely found determination, even on hest
of Necessity, to cut-asunder these so blissful bonds.' He even appears
surprised at the 'Duenna Cousin,' whoever she may have been, 'in whose
meagre, hunger-bitten philosophy, the religion of young hearts was,
from the first, faintly approved of.' We, even at such distance, can
explain it without necromancy. Let the Philosopher answer this one
question: What figure, at that period, was a Mrs. Teufelsdröckh likely
to make in polished society? Could she have driven so much as a
brass-bound Gig, or even a simple iron-spring one? Thou foolish
'absolved Auscultator,' before whom lies no prospect of capital, will
any yet known 'religion of young hearts' keep the human kitchen warm?
Pshaw! thy divine Blumine when she 'resigned herself to wed some
richer,' shows more philosophy, though but 'a woman of genius,' than
thou, a pretended man.

Our readers have witnessed the origin of this Love-mania, and with
what royal splendour it waxes, and rises. Let no one ask us to unfold
the glories of its dominant state; much less the horrors of its almost
instantaneous dissolution. How from such inorganic masses, henceforth
madder than ever, as lie in these Bags, can even fragments of a living
delineation be organised? Besides, of what profit were it? We view,
with a lively pleasure, the gay silk Montgolfier start from the
ground, and shoot upwards, cleaving the liquid deeps, till it dwindle
to a luminous star: but what is there to look longer on, when once, by
natural elasticity, or accident of fire, it has exploded? A hapless
air-navigator, plunging amid torn parachutes, sand-bags, and confused
wreck, fast enough into the jaws of the Devil! Suffice it to know that
Teufelsdröckh rose into the highest regions of the Empyrean, by a
natural parabolic track, and returned thence in a quick perpendicular
one. For the rest, let any feeling reader, who has been unhappy enough
to do the like, paint it out for himself: considering only that if he,
for his perhaps comparatively insignificant mistress, underwent such
agonies and frenzies, what must Teufelsdröckh's have been, with a
fire-heart, and for a nonpareil Blumine! We glance merely at the final
scene:

'One morning, he found his Morning-Star all dimmed and dusky-red; the
fair creature was silent, absent, she seemed to have been weeping.
Alas, no longer a Morning-star, but a troublous skyey Portent,
announcing that the Doomsday had dawned! She said, in a tremulous
voice, They were to meet no more.' The thunder-struck Air-sailor is
not wanting to himself in this dread hour: but what avails it? We omit
the passionate expostulations, entreaties, indignations, since all was
vain, and not even an explanation was conceded him; and hasten to the
catastrophe. '"Farewell, then, Madam!" said he, not without sternness,
for his stung pride helped him. She put her hand in his, she looked in
his face, tears started to her eyes: in wild audacity he clasped her
to his bosom; their lips were joined, their two souls, like two
dew-drops, rushed into one, - for the first time, and for the last!'
Thus was Teufelsdröckh made immortal by a kiss. And then? Why,
then - 'thick curtains of Night rushed over his soul, as rose the
immeasurable Crash of Doom; and through the ruins as of a shivered
Universe was he falling, falling, towards the Abyss.'




CHAPTER VI

SORROWS OF TEUFELSDRÖCKH


We have long felt that, with a man like our Professor, matters must
often be expected to take a course of their own; that in so multiplex,
intricate a nature, there might be channels, both for admitting and
emitting, such as the Psychologist had seldom noted; in short, that on
no grand occasion and convulsion, neither in the joy-storm nor in the
woe-storm, could you predict his demeanour.

To our less philosophical readers, for example, it is now clear that
the so passionate Teufelsdröckh, precipitated through 'a shivered
Universe' in this extraordinary way, has only one of three things
which he can next do: Establish himself in Bedlam; begin writing
Satanic Poetry; or blow-out his brains. In the progress towards any of
which consummations, do not such readers anticipate extravagance
enough; breast-beating, brow-beating (against walls), lion-bellowings
of blasphemy and the like, stampings, smitings, breakages of
furniture, if not arson itself?

Nowise so does Teufelsdröckh deport him. He quietly lifts his
_Pilgerstab_ (Pilgrim-staff), 'old business being soon wound-up'; and
begins a perambulation and circumambulation of the terraqueous Globe!
Curious it is, indeed, how with such vivacity of conception, such
intensity of feeling, above all, with these unconscionable habits of
Exaggeration in speech, he combines that wonderful stillness of his,
that stoicism in external procedure. Thus, if his sudden bereavement,
in this matter of the Flower-goddess, is talked of as a real Doomsday
and Dissolution of Nature, in which light doubtless it partly appeared
to himself, his own nature is nowise dissolved thereby; but rather is
compressed closer. For once, as we might say, a Blumine by magic
appliances has unlocked that shut heart of his, and its hidden things
rush-out tumultuous, boundless, like genii enfranchised from their
glass phial: but no sooner are your magic appliances withdrawn, than
the strange casket of a heart springs-to again; and perhaps there is
now no key extant that will open it; for a Teufelsdröckh, as we
remarked, will not love a second time. Singular Diogenes! No sooner
has that heart-rending occurrence fairly taken place, than he affects
to regard it as a thing natural, of which there is nothing more to be
said. 'One highest hope, seemingly legible in the eyes of an Angel,
had recalled him as out of Death-shadows into celestial Life: but a
gleam of Tophet passed-over the face of his Angel; he was rapt away in
whirlwinds, and heard the laughter of Demons. It was a Calenture,'
adds he, 'whereby the Youth saw green Paradise-groves in the waste
Ocean-waters: a lying vision, yet not wholly a lie, for _he_ saw it.'
But what things soever passed in him, when he ceased to see it; what
ragings and despairings soever Teufelsdröckh's soul was the scene of,
he has the goodness to conceal under a quite opaque cover of Silence.
We know it well; the first mad paroxysm past, our brave Gneschen
collected his dismembered philosophies, and buttoned himself together;
he was meek, silent, or spoke of the weather and the Journals: only by
a transient knitting of those shaggy brows, by some deep flash of
those eyes, glancing one knew not whether with tear-dew or with fierce
fire, - might you have guessed what a Gehenna was within; that a whole



Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 11 of 43)