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Thomas Carlyle.

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what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or that, so the Form
thou give it be heroic, be poetic? O thou that pinest in the
imprisonment of the Actual, and criest bitterly to the gods for a
kingdom wherein to rule and create, know this of a truth: the thing
thou seekest is already with thee, "here or nowhere," couldst thou
only see!

'But it is with man's Soul as it was with Nature: the beginning of
Creation is - Light. Till the eye have vision, the whole members are in
bonds. Divine moment, when over the tempest-tost Soul, as once over
the wild-weltering Chaos, it is spoken: Let there be Light! Ever to
the greatest that has felt such moment, is it not miraculous and
God-announcing; even as, under simpler figures, to the simplest and
least. The mad primeval Discord is hushed; the rudely-jumbled
conflicting elements bind themselves into separate Firmaments: deep
silent rock-foundations are built beneath; and the skyey vault with
its everlasting Luminaries above: instead of a dark wasteful Chaos, we
have a blooming, fertile, heaven-encompassed World.

'I too could now say to myself: Be no longer a Chaos, but a World, or
even Worldkin. Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest
infinitesimal fraction of a Product, produce it, in God's name! 'Tis
the utmost thou hast in thee: out with it, then. Up, up! Whatsoever
thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is
called Today; for the Night cometh, wherein no man can work.'




CHAPTER X

PAUSE


Thus have we, as closely and perhaps satisfactorily as, in such
circumstances, might be, followed Teufelsdröckh through the various
successive states and stages of Growth, Entanglement, Unbelief, and
almost Reprobation, into a certain clearer state of what he himself
seems to consider as Conversion. 'Blame not the word,' says he;
'rejoice rather that such a word, signifying such a thing, has come to
light in our modern Era, though hidden from the wisest Ancients. The
Old World knew nothing of Conversion; instead of an _Ecce Homo_, they
had only some _Choice of Hercules_. It was a new-attained progress in
the Moral Development of man: hereby has the Highest come home to the
bosoms of the most Limited; what to Plato was but a hallucination, and
to Socrates a chimera, is now clear and certain to your Zinzendorfs,
your Wesleys, and the poorest of their Pietists and Methodists.'

It is here, then, that the spiritual majority of Teufelsdröckh
commences: we are henceforth to see him 'work in well-doing,' with the
spirit and clear aims of a Man. He has discovered that the Ideal
Workshop he so panted for is even this same Actual ill-furnished
Workshop he has so long been stumbling in. He can say to himself:
'Tools? Thou hast no Tools? Why, there is not a Man, or a Thing, now
alive but has tools. The basest of created animalcules, the Spider
itself, has a spinning-jenny, and warping-mill, and power-loom within
its head: the stupidest of Oysters has a Papin's-Digester, with
stone-and-lime house to hold it in: every being that can live can do
something: this let him _do_. - Tools? Hast thou not a Brain,
furnished, furnishable with some glimmerings of Light; and three
fingers to hold a Pen withal? Never since Aaron's Rod went out of
practice, or even before it, was there such a wonder-working Tool:
greater than all recorded miracles have been performed by Pens. For
strangely in this so solid-seeming World, which nevertheless is in
continual restless flux, it is appointed that _Sound_, to appearance
the most fleeting, should be the most continuing of all things. The
WORD is well said to be omnipotent in this world; man, thereby divine,
can create as by a _Fiat_. Awake, arise! Speak forth what is in thee;
what God has given thee, what the Devil shall not take away. Higher
task than that of Priesthood was allotted to no man: wert thou but the
meanest in that sacred Hierarchy, is it not honour enough therein to
spend and be spent?

'By this Art, which whoso will may sacrilegiously degrade into a
handicraft,' adds Teufelsdröckh, 'have I thenceforth abidden. Writings
of mine, not indeed known as mine (for what am _I_?), have fallen,
perhaps not altogether void, into the mighty seed-field of Opinion;
fruits of my unseen sowing gratifyingly meet me here and there. I
thank the Heavens that I have now found my Calling; wherein, with or
without perceptible result, I am minded diligently to persevere.

'Nay how knowest thou,' cries he, 'but this and the other pregnant
Device, now grown to be a world-renowned far-working Institution; like
a grain of right mustard-seed once cast into the right soil, and now
stretching-out strong boughs to the four winds, for the birds of the
air to lodge in, - may have been properly my doing? Some one's doing,
it without doubt was; from some Idea, in some single Head, it did
first of all take beginning: why not from some Idea in mine?' Does
Teufelsdröckh here glance at that 'SOCIETY FOR THE CONSERVATION OF
PROPERTY (_Eigenthums-conservirende Gesellschaft_),' of which so many
ambiguous notices glide spectre-like through these inexpressible
Paper-bags? 'An Institution,' hints he, 'not unsuitable to the wants
of the time; as indeed such sudden extension proves: for already can
the Society number, among its office-bearers or corresponding members,
the highest Names, if not the highest Persons, in Germany, England,
France; and contributions, both of money and of meditation, pour-in
from all quarters; to, if possible, enlist the remaining Integrity of
the world, and, defensively and with forethought, marshal it round
this Palladium.' Does Teufelsdröckh mean, then, to give himself out as
the originator of that so notable _Eigenthums-conservirende_
('Owndom-conserving') _Gesellschaft_; and if so, what, in the Devil's
name, is it? He again hints: 'At a time when the divine Commandment,
_Thou shalt not steal_, wherein truly, if well understood, is
comprised the whole Hebrew Decalogue, with Solon's and Lycurgus's
Constitutions, Justinian's Pandects, the Code Napoléon, and all Codes,
Catechisms, Divinities, Moralities whatsoever, that man has hitherto
devised (and enforced with Altar-fire and Gallows-ropes) for his
social guidance: at a time, I say, when this divine Commandment has
all-but faded away from the general remembrance; and, with little
disguise, a new opposite Commandment, _Thou shalt steal_, is
everywhere promulgated, - it perhaps behooved, in this universal dotage
and deliration, the sound portion of mankind to bestir themselves and
rally. When the widest and wildest violations of that divine right of
Property, the only divine right now extant or conceivable, are
sanctioned and recommended by a vicious Press, and the world has lived
to hear it asserted that _we have no Property in our very Bodies, but
only an accidental Possession and Life-rent_, what is the issue to be
looked for? Hangmen and Catchpoles may, by their noose-gins and baited
fall-traps, keep-down the smaller sort of vermin; but what, except
perhaps some such Universal Association, can protect us against whole
meat-devouring and man-devouring hosts of Boa-constrictors? If,
therefore, the more sequestered Thinker have wondered, in his privacy,
from what hand that perhaps not ill-written _Program_ in the Public
Journals, with its high _Prize-Questions_ and so liberal _Prizes_,
could have proceeded, - let him now cease such wonder; and, with
undivided faculty, betake himself to the _Concurrenz_ (Competition).'

We ask: Has this same 'perhaps not ill-written _Program_,' or any
other authentic Transaction of that Property-conserving Society,
fallen under the eye of the British Reader, in any Journal foreign or
domestic? If so, what are those _Prize-Questions_; what are the terms
of Competition, and when and where? No printed Newspaper-leaf, no
farther light of any sort, to be met with in these Paper-bags! Or is
the whole business one other of those whimsicalities and perverse
inexplicabilities, whereby Herr Teufelsdröckh, meaning much or
nothing, is pleased so often to play fast-and-loose with us?

* * * * *

Here, indeed, at length, must the Editor give utterance to a painful
suspicion, which, through late Chapters, has begun to haunt him;
paralysing any little enthusiasm that might still have rendered his
thorny Biographical task a labour of love. It is a suspicion grounded
perhaps on trifles, yet confirmed almost into certainty by the more
and more discernible humoristico-satirical tendency of Teufelsdröckh,
in whom underground humours and intricate sardonic rogueries, wheel
within wheel, defy all reckoning: a suspicion, in one word, that these
Autobiographical Documents are partly a mystification! What if many a
so-called Fact were little better than a Fiction; if here we had no
direct Camera-obscura Picture of the Professor's History; but only
some more or less fantastic Adumbration, symbolically, perhaps
significantly enough, shadowing-forth the same! Our theory begins to
be that, in receiving as literally authentic what was but
hieroglyphically so, Hofrath Heuschrecke, whom in that case we scruple
not to name Hofrath Nose-of-Wax, was made a fool of, and set adrift to
make fools of others. Could it be expected, indeed, that a man so
known for impenetrable reticence as Teufelsdröckh, would all at once
frankly unlock his private citadel to an English Editor and a German
Hofrath; and not rather deceptively _in_lock both Editor and Hofrath
in the labyrinthic tortuosities and covered-ways of said citadel
(having enticed them thither), to see, in his half-devilish way, how
the fools would look?

Of one fool, however, the Herr Professor will perhaps find himself
short. On a small slip, formerly thrown aside as blank, the ink being
all-but invisible, we lately notice, and with effort decipher, the
following: 'What are your historical Facts; still more your
biographical? Wilt thou know a Man, above all a Mankind, by
stringing-together beadrolls of what thou namest Facts? The Man is the
spirit he worked in; not what he did, but what he became. Facts are
engraved Hierograms, for which the fewest have the key. And then how
your Blockhead (_Dummkopf_) studies not their Meaning; but simply
whether they are well or ill cut, what he calls Moral or Immoral!
Still worse is it with your Bungler (_Pfuscher_): such I have seen
reading some Rousseau, with pretences of interpretation; and mistaking
the ill-cut Serpent-of-Eternity for a common poisonous reptile.' Was
the Professor apprehensive lest an Editor, selected as the present
boasts himself, might mistake the Teufelsdröckh Serpent-of-Eternity in
like manner? For which reason it was to be altered, not without
underhand satire, into a plainer Symbol? Or is this merely one of his
half-sophisms, half-truisms, which if he can but set on the back of a
Figure, he cares not whither it gallop? We say not with certainty; and
indeed, so strange is the Professor, can never say. If our suspicion
be wholly unfounded, let his own questionable ways, not our necessary
circumspectness, bear the blame.

But be this as it will, the somewhat exasperated and indeed exhausted
Editor determines here to shut these Paper-bags for the present. Let
it suffice that we know of Teufelsdröckh, so far, if 'not what he did,
yet what he became:' the rather, as his character has now taken its
ultimate bent, and no new revolution, of importance, is to be looked
for. The imprisoned Chrysalis is now a winged Psyche: and such,
wheresoever be its flight, it will continue. To trace by what complex
gyrations (flights or involuntary waftings) through the mere external
Life element, Teufelsdröckh reaches his University Professorship, and
the Psyche clothes herself in civic Titles, without altering her now
fixed nature, - would be comparatively an unproductive task, were we
even unsuspicious of its being, for us at least, a false and
impossible one. His outward Biography, therefore, which, at the
Blumine Lover's-Leap, we saw churned utterly into spray-vapour, may
hover in that condition, for aught that concerns us here. Enough that
by survey of certain 'pools and plashes,' we have ascertained its
general direction; do we not already know that, by one way and other,
it _has_ long since rained-down again into a stream; and even now, at
Weissnichtwo, flows deep and still, fraught with the _Philosophy of
Clothes_, and visible to whoso will cast eye thereon? Over much
invaluable matter, that lies scattered, like jewels among
quarry-rubbish, in those Paper-catacombs we may have occasion to
glance back, and somewhat will demand insertion at the right place:
meanwhile be our tiresome diggings therein suspended.

If now, before reopening the great _Clothes-Volume_, we ask what our
degree of progress, during these Ten Chapters, has been, towards right
understanding of the _Clothes-Philosophy_, let not our discouragement
become total. To speak in that old figure of the Hell-gate Bridge over
Chaos, a few flying pontoons have perhaps been added, though as yet
they drift straggling on the Flood; how far they will reach, when once
the chains are straightened and fastened, can, at present, only be
matter of conjecture.

So much we already calculate: Through many a little loop-hole, we have
had glimpses into the internal world of Teufelsdröckh; his strange
mystic, almost magic Diagram of the Universe, and how it was gradually
drawn, is not henceforth altogether dark to us. Those mysterious ideas
on TIME, which merit consideration, and are not wholly unintelligible
with such, may by and by prove significant. Still more may his
somewhat peculiar view of Nature, the decisive Oneness he ascribes to
Nature. How all Nature and Life are but one _Garment_, a 'Living
Garment,' woven and ever a-weaving in the 'Loom of Time;' is not here,
indeed, the outline of a whole _Clothes-Philosophy_; at least the
arena it is to work in? Remark, too, that the Character of the Man,
nowise without meaning in such a matter, becomes less enigmatic: amid
so much tumultuous obscurity, almost like diluted madness, do not a
certain indomitable Defiance and yet a boundless Reverence seem to
loom-forth, as the two mountain-summits, on whose rock-strata all the
rest were based and built?

Nay further, may we not say that Teufelsdröckh's Biography, allowing
it even, as suspected, only a hieroglyphical truth, exhibits a man, as
it were preappointed for Clothes-Philosophy? To look through the Shows
of things into Things themselves he is led and compelled. The
'Passivity' given him by birth is fostered by all turns of his
fortune. Everywhere cast out, like oil out of water, from mingling in
any Employment, in any public Communion, he has no portion but
Solitude, and a life of Meditation. The whole energy of his existence
is directed, through long years, on one task: that of enduring pain,
if he cannot cure it. Thus everywhere do the Shows of things oppress
him, withstand him, threaten him with fearfullest destruction: only by
victoriously penetrating into Things themselves can he find peace and
a stronghold. But is not this same looking through the Shows, or
Vestures, into the Things, even the first preliminary to a _Philosophy
of Clothes_? Do we not, in all this, discern some beckonings towards
the true higher purport of such a Philosophy; and what shape it must
assume with such a man, in such an era?

Perhaps in entering on Book Third, the courteous Reader is not utterly
without guess whither he is bound: nor, let us hope, for all the
fantastic Dream-Grottoes through which, as is our lot with
Teufelsdröckh, he must wander, will there be wanting between whiles
some twinkling of a steady Polar Star.




BOOK THIRD




CHAPTER I

INCIDENT IN MODERN HISTORY


As a wonder-loving and wonder-seeking man, Teufelsdröckh, from an
early part of this Clothes-Volume, has more and more exhibited
himself. Striking it was, amid all his perverse cloudiness, with what
force of vision and of heart he pierced into the mystery of the World;
recognising in the highest sensible phenomena, so far as Sense went,
only fresh or faded Raiment; yet ever, under this, a celestial Essence
thereby rendered visible: and while, on the one hand, he trod the old
rags of Matter, with their tinsels, into the mire, he on the other
everywhere exalted Spirit above all earthly principalities and powers,
and worshipped it, though under the meanest shapes, with a true
Platonic Mysticism. What the man ultimately purposed by thus casting
his Greek-fire into the general Wardrobe of the Universe; what such,
more or less complete, rending and burning of Garments throughout the
whole compass of Civilized Life and Speculation, should lead to; the
rather as he was no Adamite, in any sense, and could not, like
Rousseau, recommend either bodily or intellectual Nudity, and a return
to the savage state: all this our readers are now bent to discover;
this is, in fact, properly the gist and purport of Professor
Teufelsdröckh's Philosophy of Clothes.

Be it remembered, however, that such purport is here not so much
evolved, as detected to lie ready for evolving. We are to guide our
British Friends into the new Gold-country, and show them the mines;
nowise to dig-out and exhaust its wealth, which indeed remains for all
time inexhaustible. Once there, let each dig for his own behoof, and
enrich himself.

Neither, in so capricious inexpressible a Work as this of the
Professor's can our course now more than formerly be straightforward,
step by step, but at best leap by leap. Significant Indications
stand-out here and there; which for the critical eye, that looks both
widely and narrowly, shape themselves into some ground-scheme of a
Whole: to select these with judgment, so that a leap from one to the
other be possible, and (in our old figure) by chaining them together,
a passable Bridge be effected: this, as heretofore, continues our only
method. Among such light-spots, the following, floating in much wild
matter about _Perfectibility_, has seemed worth clutching at:

'Perhaps the most remarkable incident in Modern History,' says
Teufelsdröckh, 'is not the Diet of Worms, still less the Battle of
Austerlitz, Waterloo, Peterloo, or any other Battle; but an incident
passed carelessly over by most Historians, and treated with some
degree of ridicule by others: namely, George Fox's making to himself a
suit of Leather. This man, the first of the Quakers, and by trade a
Shoemaker, was one of those, to whom, under ruder or purer form, the
Divine Idea of the Universe is pleased to manifest itself; and, across
all the hulls of Ignorance and earthly Degradation, shine through, in
unspeakable Awfulness, unspeakable Beauty, on their souls: who
therefore are rightly accounted Prophets, God-possessed; or even Gods,
as in some periods it has chanced. Sitting in his stall; working on
tanned hides, amid pincers, paste-horns, rosin, swine-bristles, and a
nameless flood of rubbish, this youth had, nevertheless, a Living
Spirit belonging to him; also an antique Inspired Volume, through
which, as through a window, it could look upwards, and discern its
celestial Home. The task of a daily pair of shoes, coupled even with
some prospect of victuals, and an honourable Mastership in
Cordwainery, and perhaps the post of Thirdborough in his hundred, as
the crown of long faithful sewing, - was nowise satisfaction enough to
such a mind: but ever amid the boring and hammering came tones from
that far country, came Splendours and Terrors; for this poor
Cordwainer, as we said, was a Man; and the Temple of Immensity,
wherein as Man he had been sent to minister, was full of holy mystery
to him.

'The Clergy of the neighbourhood, the ordained Watchers and
Interpreters of that same holy mystery, listened with unaffected
tedium to his consultations, and advised him, as the solution of such
doubts, to "drink beer and dance with the girls." Blind leaders of the
blind! For what end were their tithes levied and eaten; for what were
their shovel-hats scooped-out, and their surplices and cassock-aprons
girt-on; and such a church-repairing, and chaffering, and organing,
and other racketing, held over that spot of God's Earth, - if Man were
but a Patent Digester, and the Belly with its adjuncts the grand
Reality? Fox turned from them, with tears and a sacred scorn, back to
his Leather-parings and his Bible. Mountains of encumbrance, higher
than Ætna, had been heaped over that Spirit: but it was a Spirit, and
would not lie buried there. Through long days and nights of silent
agony, it struggled and wrestled, with a man's force, to be free: how
its prison-mountains heaved and swayed tumultuously, as the giant
spirit shook them to this hand and that, and emerged into the light of
Heaven! That Leicester shoe-shop, had men known it, was a holier place
than any Vatican or Loretto-shrine. - "So bandaged, and hampered, and
hemmed in," groaned he, "with thousand requisitions, obligations,
straps, tatters, and tagrags, I can neither see nor move: not my own
am I, but the World's; and Time flies fast, and Heaven is high, and
Hell is deep: Man! bethink thee, if thou hast power of Thought! Why
not; what binds me here? Want, want! - Ha, of what? Will all the
shoe-wages under the Moon ferry me across into that far Land of Light?
Only Meditation can, and devout Prayer to God. I will to the woods:
the hollow of a tree will lodge me, wild-berries feed me; and for
Clothes, cannot I stitch myself one perennial suit of Leather!"

'Historical Oil-painting,' continues Teufelsdröckh, 'is one of the
Arts I never practised; therefore shall I not decide whether this
subject were easy of execution on the canvas. Yet often has it seemed
to me as if such first outflashing of man's Freewill, to lighten, more
and more into Day, the Chaotic Night that threatened to engulf him in
its hindrances and its horrors, were properly the only grandeur there
is in History. Let some living Angelo or Rosa, with seeing eye and
understanding heart, picture George Fox on that morning, when he
spreads-out his cutting-board for the last time, and cuts cowhides by
unwonted patterns, and stitches them together into one continuous
all-including Case, the farewell service of his awl! Stitch away, thou
noble Fox: every prick of that little instrument is pricking into the
heart of Slavery, and World-worship, and the Mammon-god. Thy elbows
jerk, and in strong swimmer-strokes, and every stroke is bearing thee
across the Prison-ditch, within which Vanity holds her Workhouse and
Ragfair, into lands of true Liberty; were the work done, there is in
broad Europe one Free Man, and thou art he!

'Thus from the lowest depth there is a path to the loftiest height;
and for the Poor also a Gospel has been published. Surely if, as
D'Alembert asserts, my illustrious namesake, Diogenes, was the
greatest man of Antiquity, only that he wanted Decency, then by
stronger reason is George Fox the greatest of the Moderns; and greater
than Diogenes himself: for he too stands on the adamantine basis of
his Manhood, casting aside all props and shoars; yet not, in
half-savage Pride, undervaluing the Earth; valuing it rather, as a
place to yield him warmth and food, he looks Heavenward from his
Earth, and dwells in an element of Mercy and Worship, with a still
Strength, such as the Cynic's Tub did nowise witness. Great, truly,
was that Tub; a temple from which man's dignity and divinity was
scornfully preached abroad: but greater is the Leather Hull, for the
same sermon was preached there, and not in Scorn but in Love.'

* * * * *

George Fox's 'perennial suit,' with all that it held, has been worn
quite into ashes for nigh two centuries: why, in a discussion on the
_Perfectibility of Society_, reproduce it now? Not out of blind
sectarian partisanship: Teufelsdröckh himself is no Quaker; with all
his pacific tendencies, did not we see him, in that scene at the North
Cape, with the Archangel Smuggler, exhibit fire-arms?

For us, aware of his deep Sansculottism, there is more meant in this
passage than meets the ear. At the same time, who can avoid smiling at
the earnestness and Boeotian simplicity (if indeed there be not an
underhand satire in it), with which that 'Incident' is here brought
forward; and, in the Professor's ambiguous way, as clearly perhaps as
he durst in Weissnichtwo, recommended to imitation! Does Teufelsdröckh
anticipate that, in this age of refinement, any considerable class of
the community, by way of testifying against the 'Mammon-god,' and



Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 15 of 43)