Thomas Carlyle.

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

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and Demonology, we have now named Madness and Diseases of the Nerves.
Seldom reflecting that still the new question comes upon us: What is
Madness, what are Nerves? Ever, as before, does Madness remain a
mysterious-terrific, altogether _infernal_ boiling-up of the Nether
Chaotic Deep, through this fair-painted Vision of Creation, which
swims thereon, which we name the Real. Was Luther's Picture of the
Devil less a Reality, whether it were formed within the bodily eye, or
without it? In every the wisest Soul lies a whole world of internal
Madness, an authentic Demon Empire; out of which, indeed, his world of
Wisdom has been creatively built together, and now rests there, as on
its dark foundations does a habitable flowery Earth-rind.

* * * * *

'But deepest of all illusory Appearances, for hiding Wonder, as for
many other ends, are your two grand fundamental world-enveloping
Appearances, SPACE and TIME. These, as spun and woven for us from
before Birth itself, to clothe our celestial ME for dwelling here, and
yet to blind it, - lie all embracing, as the universal canvas, or warp
and woof, whereby all minor Illusions, in this Phantasm Existence,
weave and paint themselves. In vain, while here on Earth, shall you
endeavour to strip them off; you can, at best, but rend them asunder
for moments, and look through.

'Fortunatus had a wishing Hat, which when he put on, and wished
himself Anywhere, behold he was There. By this means had Fortunatus
triumphed over Space, he had annihilated Space; for him there was no
Where, but all was Here. Were a Hatter to establish himself, in the
Wahngasse of Weissnichtwo, and make felts of this sort for all
mankind, what a world we should have of it! Still stranger, should, on
the opposite side of the street, another Hatter establish himself; and
as his fellow-craftsman made Space-annihilating Hats, make
Time-annihilating! Of both would I purchase, were it with my last
groschen; but chiefly of this latter. To clap-on your felt, and,
simply by wishing that you were Any_where_, straightway to be _There_!
Next to clap-on your other felt, and, simply by wishing that you were
Any_when_, straightway to be _Then_! This were indeed the grander:
shooting at will from the Fire-Creation of the World to its
Fire-Consummation; here historically present in the First Century,
conversing face to face with Paul and Seneca; there prophetically in
the Thirty-first, conversing also face to face with other Pauls and
Senecas, who as yet stand hidden in the depth of that late Time!

'Or thinkest thou it were impossible, unimaginable? Is the Past
annihilated, then, or only past; is the Future non-extant, or only
future? Those mystic faculties of thine, Memory and Hope, already
answer: already through those mystic avenues, thou the Earth-blinded
summonest both Past and Future, and communest with them, though as yet
darkly, and with mute beckonings. The curtains of Yesterday drop down,
the curtains of Tomorrow roll up; but Yesterday and Tomorrow both
_are_. Pierce through the Time-element, glance into the Eternal.
Believe what thou findest written in the sanctuaries of Man's Soul,
even as all Thinkers, in all ages, have devoutly read it there: that
Time and Space are not God, but creations of God: that with God as it
is a universal HERE, so is it an everlasting NOW.

'And seest thou therein any glimpse of IMMORTALITY? - O Heaven! Is the
white Tomb of our Loved One, who died from our arms, and had to be
left behind us there, which rises in the distance, like a pale,
mournfully receding Milestone, to tell how many toilsome uncheered
miles we have journeyed on alone, - but a pale spectral Illusion! Is
the lost Friend still mysteriously Here, even as we are Here
mysteriously, with God! - Know of a truth that only the Time-shadows
have perished, or are perishable; that the real Being of whatever was,
and whatever is, and whatever will be, _is_ even now and forever.
This, should it unhappily seem new, thou mayest ponder at thy leisure;
for the next twenty years, or the next twenty centuries: believe it
thou must; understand it thou canst not.

'That the Thought-forms, Space and Time, wherein, once for all, we are
sent into this Earth to live, should condition and determine our whole
Practical reasonings, conceptions, and imagines or imaginings, - seems
altogether fit, just, and unavoidable. But that they should,
furthermore, usurp such sway over pure spiritual Meditation, and blind
us to the wonder everywhere lying close on us, seems nowise so. Admit
Space and Time to their due rank as Forms of Thought; nay even, if
thou wilt, to their quite undue rank of Realities: and consider, then,
with thyself how their thin disguises hide from us the brightest
God-effulgences! Thus, were it not miraculous, could I stretch forth
my hand and clutch the Sun? Yet thou seest me daily stretch forth my
hand and therewith clutch many a thing, and swing it hither and
thither. Art thou a grown baby, then, to fancy that the Miracle lies
in miles of distance, or in pounds avoirdupois of weight; and not to
see that the true inexplicable God-revealing Miracle lies in this,
that I can stretch forth my hand at all; that I have free Force to
clutch aught therewith? Innumerable other of this sort are the
deceptions, and wonder-hiding stupefactions, which Space practises on

'Still worse is it with regard to Time. Your grand anti-magician, and
universal wonder-hider, is this same lying Time. Had we but the
Time-annihilating Hat, to put on for once only, we should see
ourselves in a World of Miracles, wherein all fabled or authentic
Thaumaturgy, and feats of Magic, were outdone. But unhappily we have
not such a Hat; and man, poor fool that he is, can seldom and scantily
help himself without one.

'Were it not wonderful, for instance, had Orpheus, or Amphion, built
the walls of Thebes by the mere sound of his Lyre? Yet tell me, Who
built these walls of Weissnichtwo; summoning-out all the sandstone
rocks, to dance along from the _Steinbruch_ (now a huge Troglodyte
Chasm, with frightful green-mantled pools); and shape themselves into
Doric and Ionic pillars, squared ashlar houses and noble streets? Was
it not the still higher Orpheus, or Orpheuses, who, in past centuries,
by the divine Music of Wisdom, succeeded in civilising Man? Our
highest Orpheus walked in Judea, eighteen hundred years ago: his
sphere-melody, flowing in wild native tones, took captive the ravished
souls of men; and, being of a truth sphere-melody, still flows and
sounds, though now with thousandfold accompaniments, and rich
symphonies, through all our hearts; and modulates, and divinely leads
them. Is that a wonder, which happens in two hours; and does it cease
to be wonderful if happening in two million? Not only was Thebes built
by the music of an Orpheus; but without the music of some inspired
Orpheus was no city ever built, no work that man glories-in ever done.

'Sweep away the Illusion of Time; glance, if thou hast eyes, from the
near moving-cause to its far-distant Mover: The stroke that came
transmitted through a whole galaxy of elastic balls, was it less a
stroke than if the last ball only had been struck, and sent flying? O,
could I (with the Time-annihilating Hat) transport thee direct from
the Beginnings to the Endings, how were thy eyesight unsealed, and thy
heart set flaming in the Light-sea of celestial wonder! Then sawest
thou that this fair Universe, were it in the meanest province thereof,
is in very deed the star-domed City of God; that through every star,
through every grass-blade, and most through every Living Soul, the
glory of a present God still beams. But Nature, which is the
Time-vesture of God, and reveals Him to the wise, hides Him from the

'Again, could anything be more miraculous than an actual authentic
Ghost? The English Johnson longed, all his life, to see one; but could
not, though he went to Cock Lane, and thence to the church-vaults, and
tapped on coffins. Foolish Doctor! Did he never, with the mind's eye
as well as with the body's, look round him into that full tide of
human Life he so loved; did he never so much as look into Himself? The
good Doctor was a Ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish;
well-nigh a million of Ghosts were travelling the streets by his side.
Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of Time; compress the
threescore years into three minutes: what else was he, what else are
we? Are we not Spirits, that are shaped into a body, into an
Appearance; and that fade-away again into air and Invisibility? This
is no metaphor, it is a simple scientific _fact_: we start out of
Nothingness, take figure, and are Apparitions; round us, as round the
veriest spectre, is Eternity; and to Eternity minutes are as years and
æons. Come there not tones of Love and Faith, as from celestial
harp-strings, like the Song of beautified Souls? And again, do not we
squeak and jibber (in our discordant, screech-owlish debatings and
recriminatings); and glide bodeful, and feeble, and fearful; or uproar
(_poltern_), and revel in our mad Dance of the Dead, - till the scent
of the morning air summons us to our still Home; and dreamy Night
becomes awake and Day? Where now is Alexander of Macedon: does the
steel Host, that yelled in fierce battle-shouts at Issus and Arbela,
remain behind him; or have they all vanished utterly, even as
perturbed Goblins must? Napoleon too, and his Moscow Retreats and
Austerlitz Campaigns! Was it all other than the veriest Spectre-hunt;
which has now, with its howling tumult that made Night hideous,
flitted away? - Ghosts! There are nigh a thousand-million walking the
Earth openly at noontide; some half-hundred have vanished from it,
some half-hundred have arisen in it, ere thy watch ticks once.

'O Heaven, it is mysterious, it is awful to consider that we not only
carry each a future Ghost within him; but are, in very deed, Ghosts!
These Limbs, whence had we them; this stormy Force; this life-blood
with its burning Passion? They are dust and shadow; a Shadow-system
gathered round our ME; wherein, through some moments or years, the
Divine Essence is to be revealed in the Flesh. That warrior on his
strong war-horse, fire flashes through his eyes; force dwells in his
arm and heart: but warrior and war-horse are a vision; a revealed
Force, nothing more. Stately they tread the Earth, as if it were a
firm substance: fool! the earth is but a film; it cracks in twain, and
warrior and war-horse sink beyond plummet's sounding. Plummet's?
Fantasy herself will not follow them. A little while ago, they were
not; a little while, and they are not, their very ashes are not.

'So has it been from the beginning, so will it be to the end.
Generation after generation takes to itself the Form of a Body; and
forth-issuing from Cimmerian Night, on Heaven's mission APPEARS. What
Force and Fire is in each he expends: one grinding in the mill of
Industry; one hunter-like climbing the giddy Alpine heights of
Science; one madly dashed in pieces on the rocks of Strife, in war
with his fellow: - and then the Heaven-sent is recalled; his earthly
Vesture falls away, and soon even to Sense becomes a vanished Shadow.
Thus, like some wild-flaming, wild-thundering train of Heaven's
Artillery, does this mysterious MANKIND thunder and flame, in
long-drawn, quick-succeeding grandeur, through the unknown Deep. Thus,
like a God-created, fire-breathing Spirit-host, we emerge from the
Inane; haste stormfully across the astonished Earth; then plunge again
into the Inane. Earth's mountains are levelled, and her seas filled
up, in our passage: can the Earth, which is but dead and a vision,
resist Spirits which have reality and are alive? On the hardest
adamant some footprint of us is stamped-in; the last Rear of the host
will read traces of the earliest Van. But whence? - O Heaven, whither?
Sense knows not; Faith knows not; only that it is through Mystery to
Mystery, from God and to God.

"We _are such stuff_
As Dreams are made of, and our little Life
Is rounded with a sleep!"'



Here, then, arises the so momentous question: Have many British
Readers actually arrived with us at the new promised country; is the
Philosophy of Clothes now at last opening around them? Long and
adventurous has the journey been: from those outmost vulgar, palpable
Woollen-Hulls of Man; through his wondrous Flesh-Garments, and his
wondrous Social Garnitures; inwards to the Garments of his very Soul's
Soul, to Time and Space themselves! And now does the Spiritual,
eternal Essence of Man, and of Mankind, bared of such wrappages, begin
in any measure to reveal itself? Can many readers discern, as through
a glass darkly, in huge wavering outlines, some primeval rudiments of
Man's Being, what is changeable divided from what is unchangeable?
Does that Earth-Spirit's speech in _Faust_, -

''Tis thus at the roaring Loom of Time I ply,
And weave for God the Garment thou see'st Him by';

or that other thousand-times repeated speech of the Magician,
Shakspeare, -

'And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloudcapt Towers, the gorgeous Palaces,
The solemn Temples, the great Globe itself,
And all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a wrack behind';

begin to have some meaning for us? In a word, do we at length stand
safe in the far region of Poetic Creation and Palingenesia, where that
Phoenix Death-Birth of Human Society, and of all Human Things, appears
possible, is seen to be inevitable?

Along this most insufficient, unheard-of Bridge, which the Editor, by
Heaven's blessing, has now seen himself enabled to conclude if not
complete, it cannot be his sober calculation, but only his fond hope,
that many have travelled without accident. No firm arch, overspanning
the Impassable with paved highway, could the Editor construct; only,
as was said, some zigzag series of rafts floating tumultuously
thereon. Alas, and the leaps from raft to raft were too often of a
breakneck character; the darkness, the nature of the element, all was
against us!

Nevertheless, may not here and there one of a thousand, provided with
a discursiveness of intellect rare in our day, have cleared the
passage, in spite of all? Happy few! little band of Friends! be
welcome, be of courage. By degrees, the eye grows accustomed to its
new Whereabout; the hand can stretch itself forth to work there: it is
in this grand and indeed highest work of Palingenesia that ye shall
labour, each according to ability. New labourers will arrive; new
Bridges will be built; nay, may not our own poor rope-and-raft Bridge,
in your passings and repassings, be mended in many a point, till it
grow quite firm, passable even for the halt?

Meanwhile, of the innumerable multitude that started with us, joyous
and full of hope, where now is the innumerable remainder, whom we see
no longer by our side? The most have recoiled, and stand gazing afar
off, in unsympathetic astonishment, at our career: not a few, pressing
forward with more courage, have missed footing, or leaped short; and
now swim weltering in the Chaos-flood, some towards this shore, some
towards that. To these also a helping hand should be held out; at
least some word of encouragement be said.

Or, to speak without metaphor, with which mode of utterance
Teufelsdröckh unhappily has somewhat infected us, - can it be hidden
from the Editor that many a British Reader sits reading quite
bewildered in head, and afflicted rather than instructed by the
present Work? Yes, long ago has many a British Reader been, as now,
demanding with something like a snarl: Whereto does all this lead; or
what use is in it?

In the way of replenishing thy purse, or otherwise aiding thy
digestive faculty, O British Reader, it leads to nothing, and there is
no use in it; but rather the reverse, for it costs thee somewhat.
Nevertheless, if through this unpromising Horn-gate, Teufelsdröckh,
and we by means of him, have led thee into the true Land of Dreams;
and through the Clothes-screen, as through a magical _Pierre-Pertuis_,
thou lookest, even for moments, into the region of the Wonderful, and
seest and feelest that thy daily life is girt with Wonder, and based
on Wonder, and thy very blankets and breeches are Miracles, - then art
thou profited beyond money's worth; and hast a thankfulness towards
our Professor; nay, perhaps in many a literary Tea-circle wilt open
thy kind lips, and audibly express that same.

Nay farther, art not thou too perhaps by this time made aware that all
Symbols are properly Clothes; that all Forms whereby Spirit manifests
itself to sense, whether outwardly or in the imagination, are Clothes;
and thus not only the parchment Magna Charta, which a Tailor was nigh
cutting into measures, but the Pomp and Authority of Law, the
sacredness of Majesty, and all inferior Worships (Worthships) are
properly a Vesture and Raiment; and the Thirty-nine Articles
themselves are articles of wearing-apparel (for the Religious Idea)?
In which case, must it not also be admitted that this Science of
Clothes is a high one, and may with infinitely deeper study on thy
part yield richer fruit: that it takes scientific rank beside
Codification, and Political Economy, and the Theory of the British
Constitution; nay rather, from its prophetic height looks down on all
these, as on so many weaving-shops and spinning-mills, where the
Vestures which _it_ has to fashion, and consecrate and distribute,
are, too often by haggard hungry operatives who see no farther than
their nose, mechanically woven and spun?

But omitting all this, much more all that concerns Natural
Supernaturalism, and indeed whatever has reference to the Ulterior or
Transcendental portion of the Science, or bears never so remotely on
that promised Volume of the _Palingenesie der menschlichen
Gesellschaft_ (Newbirth of Society), - we humbly suggest that no
province of Clothes-Philosophy, even the lowest, is without its direct
value, but that innumerable inferences of a practical nature may be
drawn therefrom. To say nothing of those pregnant considerations,
ethical, political, symbolical, which crowd on the Clothes-Philosopher
from the very threshold of his Science; nothing even of those
'architectural ideas,' which, as we have seen, lurk at the bottom of
all Modes, and will one day, better unfolding themselves, lead to
important revolutions, - let us glance for a moment, and with the
faintest light of Clothes-Philosophy, on what may be called the
Habilatory Class of our fellow-men. Here too overlooking, where so
much were to be looked on, the million spinners, weavers, fullers,
dyers, washers, and wringers, that puddle and muddle in their dark
recesses, to make us Clothes, and die that we may live, - let us but
turn the reader's attention upon two small divisions of mankind, who,
like moths, may be regarded as Cloth-animals, creatures that live,
move and have their being in Cloth: we mean, Dandies and Tailors.

In regard to both which small divisions it may be asserted without
scruple, that the public feeling, unenlightened by Philosophy, is at
fault; and even that the dictates of humanity are violated. As will
perhaps abundantly appear to readers of the two following chapters.



First, touching Dandies, let us consider, with some scientific
strictness, what a Dandy specially is. A Dandy is a Clothes-wearing
Man, a Man whose trade, office and existence consists in the wearing
of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse and person is
heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing of Clothes
wisely and well: so that as others dress to live, he lives to dress.
The all-importance of Clothes, which a German Professor of unequalled
learning and acumen, writes his enormous Volume to demonstrate, has
sprung up in the intellect of the Dandy without effort, like an
instinct of genius; he is inspired with Cloth, a Poet of Cloth. What
Teufelsdröckh would call a 'Divine Idea of Cloth' is born with him;
and this, like other such Ideas, will express itself outwardly, or
wring his heart asunder with unutterable throes.

But, like a generous, creative enthusiast, he fearlessly makes his
Idea an Action; shows himself in peculiar guise to mankind; walks
forth, a witness and living Martyr to the eternal worth of Clothes. We
called him a Poet: is not his body the (stuffed) parchment-skin
whereon he writes, with cunning Huddersfield dyes, a Sonnet to his
mistress' eyebrow? Say, rather, an Epos, and _Clotha Virumque cano_,
to the whole world, in Macaronic verses, which he that runs may read.
Nay, if you grant, what seems to be admissible, that the Dandy has a
Thinking-principle in him, and some notions of Time and Space, is
there not in this Life-devotedness to Cloth, in this so willing
sacrifice of the Immortal to the Perishable, something (though in
reverse order) of that blending and identification of Eternity with
Time, which, as we have seen, constitutes the Prophetic character?

And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even
Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may
say, that you would recognise his existence; would admit him to be a
living object; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing that
will reflect rays of light. Your silver or your gold (beyond what the
niggardly Law has already secured him) he solicits not; simply the
glance of your eyes. Understand his mystic significance, or altogether
miss and misinterpret it; do but look at him, and he is contented. May
we not well cry shame on an ungrateful world, which refuses even this
poor boon; which will waste its optic faculty on dried Crocodiles, and
Siamese Twins; and over the domestic wonderful wonder of wonders, a
live Dandy, glance with hasty indifference, and a scarcely concealed
contempt! Him no Zoologist classes among the Mammalia, no Anatomist
dissects with care: when did we see any injected Preparation of the
Dandy in our Museums; any specimen of him preserved in spirits? Lord
Herringbone may dress himself in a snuff-brown suit, with snuff-brown
shirt and shoes: it skills not; the undiscerning public, occupied with
grosser wants, passes by regardless on the other side.

The age of Curiosity, like that of Chivalry, is indeed, properly
speaking, gone. Yet perhaps only gone to sleep: for here arises the
Clothes-Philosophy to resuscitate, strangely enough, both the one and
the other! Should sound views of this Science come to prevail, the
essential nature of the British Dandy, and the mystic significance
that lies in him, cannot always remain hidden under laughable and
lamentable hallucination. The following long Extract from Professor
Teufelsdröckh may set the matter, if not in its true light, yet in the
way towards such. It is to be regretted, however, that here, as so
often elsewhere, the Professor's keen philosophic perspicacity is
somewhat marred by a certain mixture of almost owlish purblindness, or
else of some perverse, ineffectual, ironic tendency; our readers shall
judge which:

* * * * *

'In these distracted times,' writes he, 'when the Religious Principle,
driven-out of most Churches, either lies unseen in the hearts of good
men, looking and longing and silently working there towards some new
Revelation; or else wanders homeless over the world, like a
disembodied soul seeking its terrestrial organisation, - into how many
strange shapes, of Superstition and Fanaticism, does it not
tentatively and errantly cast itself! The higher Enthusiasm of man's
nature is for the while without Exponent; yet does it continue
indestructible, unweariedly active, and work blindly in the great
chaotic deep: thus Sect after Sect, and Church after Church, bodies
itself forth, and melts again into new metamorphosis.

'Chiefly is this observable in England, which, as the wealthiest and
worst-instructed of European nations, offers precisely the elements
(of Heat, namely, and of Darkness), in which such moon-calves and
monstrosities are best generated. Among the newer Sects of that
country, one of the most notable, and closely connected with our
present subject, is that of the _Dandies_; concerning which, what
little information I have been able to procure may fitly stand here.

'It is true, certain of the English Journalists, men generally without
sense for the Religious Principle, or judgment for its manifestations,
speak, in their brief enigmatic notices, as if this were perhaps

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 19 of 43)