Thomas Carlyle.

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

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rather a Secular Sect, and not a Religious one; nevertheless, to the
psychologic eye its devotional and even sacrificial character plainly
enough reveals itself. Whether it belongs to the class of
Fetish-worships, or of Hero-worships or Polytheisms, or to what other
class, may in the present state of our intelligence remain undecided
(_schweben_). A certain touch of Manicheism, not indeed in the Gnostic
shape, is discernible enough: also (for human Error walks in a cycle,
and reappears at intervals) a not-inconsiderable resemblance to that
Superstition of the Athos Monks, who by fasting from all nourishment,
and looking intensely for a length of time into their own navels, came
to discern therein the true Apocalypse of Nature, and Heaven Unveiled.
To my own surmise, it appears as if this Dandiacal Sect were but a new
modification, adapted to the new time, of that primeval Superstition,
_Self-worship_; which Zerdusht, Quangfoutchee, Mohamed, and others,
strove rather to subordinate and restrain than to eradicate; and which
only in the purer forms of Religion has been altogether rejected.
Wherefore, if any one chooses to name it revived Ahrimanism, or a new
figure of Demon-Worship, I have, so far as is yet visible, no

'For the rest, these people, animated with the zeal of a new Sect,
display courage and perseverance, and what force there is in man's
nature, though never so enslaved. They affect great purity and
separatism; distinguish themselves by a particular costume (whereof
some notices were given in the earlier part of this Volume); likewise,
so far as possible, by a particular speech (apparently some broken
_Lingua-franca_, or English-French); and, on the whole, strive to
maintain a true Nazarene deportment, and keep themselves unspotted
from the world.

'They have their Temples, whereof the chief, as the Jewish Temple did,
stands in their metropolis; and is named _Almack's_, a word of
uncertain etymology. They worship principally by night; and have their
Highpriests and Highpriestesses, who, however, do not continue for
life. The rites, by some supposed to be of the Menadic sort, or
perhaps with an Eleusinian or Cabiric character, are held strictly
secret. Nor are Sacred Books wanting to the Sect; these they call
_Fashionable Novels_: however, the Canon is not completed, and some
are canonical and others not.

'Of such Sacred Books I, not without expense, procured myself some
samples; and in hope of true insight, and with the zeal which beseems
an Inquirer into Clothes, set to interpret and study them. But wholly
to no purpose: that tough faculty of reading, for which the world will
not refuse me credit, was here for the first time foiled and set at
naught. In vain that I summoned my whole energies (_mich weidlich
anstrengte_), and did my very utmost; at the end of some short space,
I was uniformly seized with not so much what I can call a drumming in
my ears, as a kind of infinite, unsufferable, Jews-harping and
scrannel-piping there; to which the frightfullest species of Magnetic
Sleep soon supervened. And if I strove to shake this away, and
absolutely would not yield, there came a hitherto unfelt sensation, as
of _Delirium Tremens_, and a melting into total deliquium: till at
last, by order of the Doctor, dreading ruin to my whole intellectual
and bodily faculties, and a general breaking-up of the constitution, I
reluctantly but determinedly forbore. Was there some miracle at work
here; like those Fire-balls, and supernal and infernal prodigies,
which, in the case of the Jewish Mysteries, have also more than once
scared-back the Alien? Be this as it may, such failure on my part,
after best efforts, must excuse the imperfection of this sketch;
altogether incomplete, yet the completest I could give of a Sect too
singular to be omitted.

'Loving my own life and senses as I do, no power shall induce me, as a
private individual, to open another _Fashionable Novel_. But luckily,
in this dilemma, comes a hand from the clouds; whereby if not victory,
deliverance is held out to me. Round one of those Book-packages, which
the _Stillschweigen'sche Buchhandlung_ is in the habit of importing
from England, come, as is usual, various waste printed-sheets
(_Maculatur blätter_), by way of interior wrappage: into these the
Clothes-Philosopher, with a certain Mohamedan reverence even for
waste-paper, where curious knowledge will sometimes hover, disdains
not to cast his eye. Readers may judge of his astonishment when on
such a defaced stray-sheet, probably the outcast fraction of some
English Periodical, such as they name _Magazine_, appears something
like a Dissertation on this very subject of _Fashionable Novels_! It
sets out, indeed, chiefly from a Secular point of view; directing
itself, not without asperity, against some to me unknown individual
named _Pelham_, who seems to be a Mystagogue, and leading Teacher and
Preacher of the Sect; so that, what indeed otherwise was not to be
expected in such a fugitive fragmentary sheet, the true secret, the
Religious physiognomy and physiology of the Dandiacal Body, is nowise
laid fully open there. Nevertheless, scattered lights do from time to
time sparkle out, whereby I have endeavoured to profit. Nay, in one
passage selected from the Prophecies, or Mythic Theogonies, or
whatever they are (for the style seems very mixed) of this Mystagogue,
I find what appears to be a Confession of Faith, or Whole Duty of Man,
according to the tenets of that Sect. Which Confession or Whole Duty,
therefore, as proceeding from a source so authentic, I shall here
arrange under Seven distinct Articles, and in very abridged shape lay
before the German world; therewith taking leave of this matter.
Observe also, that to avoid possibility of error, I, as far as may be,
quote literally from the Original:


'"1. Coats should have nothing of the triangle about them; at the same
time, wrinkles behind should be carefully avoided.

'"2. The collar is a very important point: it should be low behind,
and slightly rolled.

'"3. No license of fashion can allow a man of delicate taste to adopt
the posterial luxuriance of a Hottentot.

'"4. There is safety in a swallow-tail.

'"5. The good sense of a gentleman is nowhere more finely developed
than in his rings.

'"6. It is permitted to mankind, under certain restrictions, to wear
white waistcoats.

'"7. The trousers must be exceedingly tight across the hips."

'All which Propositions I, for the present, content myself with
modestly but peremptorily and irrevocably denying.

'In strange contrast with this Dandiacal Body stands another British
Sect, originally, as I understand, of Ireland, where its chief seat
still is; but known also in the main Island, and indeed everywhere
rapidly spreading. As this Sect has hitherto emitted no Canonical
Books, it remains to me in the same state of obscurity as the
Dandiacal, which has published Books that the unassisted human
faculties are inadequate to read. The members appear to be designated
by a considerable diversity of names, according to their various
places of establishment: in England they are generally called the
_Drudge_ Sect; also, unphilosophically enough, the _White Negroes_;
and, chiefly in scorn by those of other communions, the
_Ragged-Beggar_ Sect. In Scotland, again, I find them entitled
_Hallanshakers_, or the _Stook of Duds_ Sect; any individual
communicant is named _Stook of Duds_ (that is, Shock of Rags), in
allusion, doubtless, to their professional Costume. While in Ireland,
which, as mentioned, is their grand parent hive, they go by a
perplexing multiplicity of designations, such as _Bogtrotters_,
_Redshanks_, _Ribbonmen_, _Cottiers_, _Peep-of-Day Boys_, _Babes of
the Wood_, _Rockites_, _Poor-Slaves_; which last, however, seems to be
the primary and generic name; whereto, probably enough, the others are
only subsidiary species, or slight varieties; or, at most, propagated
offsets from the parent stem, whose minute subdivisions, and shades of
difference, it were here loss of time to dwell on. Enough for us to
understand, what seems indubitable, that the original Sect is that of
the _Poor-Slaves_; whose doctrines, practices, and fundamental
characteristics pervade and animate the whole Body, howsoever
denominated or outwardly diversified.

'The precise speculative tenets of this Brotherhood: how the Universe,
and Man, and Man's Life, picture themselves to the mind of an Irish
Poor-Slave; with what feelings and opinions he looks forward on the
Future, round on the Present, back on the Past, it were extremely
difficult to specify. Something Monastic there appears to be in their
Constitution: we find them bound by the two Monastic Vows, of Poverty
and Obedience; which Vows, especially the former, it is said, they
observe with great strictness; nay, as I have understood it, they are
pledged, and be it by any solemn Nazarene ordination or not,
irrevocably consecrated thereto, even _before_ birth. That the third
Monastic Vow, of Chastity, is rigidly enforced among them, I find no
ground to conjecture.

'Furthermore, they appear to imitate the Dandiacal Sect in their grand
principle of wearing a peculiar Costume. Of which Irish Poor-Slave
Costume no description will indeed be found in the present Volume; for
this reason, that by the imperfect organ of Language it did not seem
describable. Their raiment consists of innumerable skirts, lappets and
irregular wings, of all cloths and of all colours; through the
labyrinthic intricacies of which their bodies are introduced by some
unknown process. It is fastened together by a multiplex combination of
buttons, thrums and skewers; to which frequently is added a girdle of
leather, of hempen or even of straw rope, round the loins. To straw
rope, indeed, they seem partial, and often wear it by way of sandals.
In head-dress they affect a certain freedom: hats with partial brim,
without crown, or with only a loose, hinged, or valve crown; in the
former case, they sometimes invert the hat, and wear it brim
uppermost, like a University-cap, with what view is unknown.

'The name Poor-Slaves seems to indicate a Slavonic, Polish, or Russian
origin: not so, however, the interior essence and spirit of their
Superstition, which rather displays a Teutonic or Druidical character.
One might fancy them worshippers of Hertha, or the Earth: for they dig
and affectionately work continually in her bosom; or else, shut-up in
private Oratories, meditate and manipulate the substances derived from
her; seldom looking-up towards the Heavenly Luminaries, and then with
comparative indifference. Like the Druids, on the other hand, they
live in dark dwellings; often even breaking their glass-windows, where
they find such, and stuffing them up with pieces of raiment, or other
opaque substances, till the fit obscurity is restored. Again, like all
followers of Nature-Worship, they are liable to outbreakings of an
enthusiasm rising to ferocity; and burn men, if not in wicker idols,
yet in sod cottages.

'In respect of diet, they have also their observances. All Poor-Slaves
are Rhizophagous (or Root-eaters); a few are Ichthyophagous, and use
Salted Herrings: other animal food they abstain from; except indeed,
with perhaps some strange inverted fragment of a Brahminical feeling,
such animals as die a natural death. Their universal sustenance is the
root named Potato, cooked by fire alone; and generally without
condiment or relish of any kind, save an unknown condiment named
_Point_, into the meaning of which I have vainly inquired; the victual
_Potatoes-and-Point_ not appearing, at least not with specific
accuracy of description, in any European Cookery-Book whatever. For
drink, they use, with an almost epigrammatic counterpoise of taste,
Milk, which is the mildest of liquors, and _Potheen_, which is the
fiercest. This latter I have tasted, as well as the English
_Blue-Ruin_, and the Scotch _Whisky_, analogous fluids used by the
Sect in those countries: it evidently contains some form of alcohol,
in the highest state of concentration, though disguised with acrid
oils; and is, on the whole, the most pungent substance known to
me, - indeed, a perfect liquid fire. In all their Religious
Solemnities, Potheen is said to be an indispensable requisite, and
largely consumed.

'An Irish Traveller, of perhaps common veracity, who presents himself
under the to me unmeaning title of _The late John Bernard_, offers the
following sketch of a domestic establishment, the inmates whereof,
though such is not stated expressly, appear to have been of that
Faith. Thereby shall my German readers now behold an Irish Poor-Slave,
as it were with their own eyes; and even see him at meat. Moreover, in
the so-precious waste-paper sheet above mentioned, I have found some
corresponding picture of a Dandiacal Household, painted by that same
Dandiacal Mystagogue, or Theogonist: this also, by way of counterpart
and contrast, the world shall look into.

'First, therefore, of the Poor-Slave, who appears likewise to have
been a species of Innkeeper. I quote from the original:

_Poor-Slave Household_

'"The furniture of this Caravansera consisted of a large iron Pot, two
oaken Tables, two Benches, two Chairs, and a Potheen Noggin. There was
a Loft above (attainable by a ladder), upon which the inmates slept;
and the space below was divided by a hurdle into two Apartments; the
one for their cow and pig, the other for themselves and guests. On
entering the house we discovered the family, eleven in number, at
dinner: the father sitting at the top, the mother at the bottom, the
children on each side, of a large oaken Board, which was scooped-out
in the middle, like a trough, to receive the contents of their Pot of
Potatoes. Little holes were cut at equal distances to contain Salt;
and a bowl of Milk stood on the table: all the luxuries of meat and
beer, bread, knives and dishes were dispensed with." The Poor-Slave
himself our Traveller found, as he says, broad-backed, black-browed,
of great personal strength, and mouth from ear to ear. His Wife was a
sun-browned but well-featured woman; and his young ones, bare and
chubby, had the appetite of ravens. Of their Philosophical or
Religious tenets or observances, no notice or hint.

'But now, secondly, of the Dandiacal Household; in which, truly, that
often-mentioned Mystagogue and inspired Penman himself has his abode:

_Dandiacal Household_

'"A Dressing-room splendidly furnished; violet-coloured curtains,
chairs and ottomans of the same hue. Two full-length Mirrors are
placed, one on each side of a table, which supports the luxuries of
the Toilet. Several Bottles of Perfumes, arranged in a peculiar
fashion, stand upon a smaller table of mother-of-pearl: opposite to
these are placed the appurtenances of Lavation richly wrought in
frosted silver. A wardrobe of Buhl is on the left; the doors of which,
being partly open, discover a profusion of Clothes; Shoes of a
singularly small size monopolise the lower shelves. Fronting the
wardrobe a door ajar gives some slight glimpse of a Bathroom.
Folding-doors in the background. - Enter the Author," our Theogonist in
person, "obsequiously preceded by a French Valet, in white silk Jacket
and cambric Apron."

* * * * *

'Such are the two Sects which, at this moment, divide the more
unsettled portion of the British People; and agitate that ever-vexed
country. To the eye of the political Seer, their mutual relation,
pregnant with the elements of discord and hostility, is far from
consoling. These two principals of Dandiacal Self-worship or
Demon-worship, and Poor-Slavish or Drudgical Earth-worship, or
whatever that same Drudgism may be, do as yet indeed manifest
themselves under distant and nowise considerable shapes: nevertheless,
in their roots and subterranean ramifications, they extend through the
entire structure of Society, and work unweariedly in the secret depths
of English national Existence; striving to separate and isolate it
into two contradictory, uncommunicating masses.

'In numbers, and even individual strength, the Poor-Slaves or Drudges,
it would seem, are hourly increasing. The Dandiacal, again, is by
nature no proselytising Sect; but it boasts of great hereditary
resources, and is strong by union; whereas the Drudges, split into
parties, have as yet no rallying-point; or at best only co-operate by
means of partial secret affiliations. If, indeed, there were to arise
a _Communion of Drudges_, as there is already a Communion of Saints,
what strangest effects would follow therefrom! Dandyism as yet affects
to look-down on Drudgism: but perhaps the hour of trial, when it will
be practically seen which ought to look down, and which up, is not so

'To me it seems probable that the two Sects will one day part England
between them; each recruiting itself from the intermediate ranks, till
there be none left to enlist on either side. Those Dandiacal
Manicheans, with the host of Dandyising Christians, will form one
body: the Drudges, gathering round them whosoever is Drudgical, be he
Christian or Infidel Pagan; sweeping-up likewise all manner of
Utilitarians, Radicals, refractory Potwallopers, and so forth, into
their general mass, will form another. I could liken Dandyism and
Drudgism to two bottomless boiling Whirlpools that had broken-out on
opposite quarters of the firm land: as yet they appear only
disquieted, foolishly bubbling wells, which man's art might cover-in;
yet mark them, their diameter is daily widening: they are hollow Cones
that boil-up from the infinite Deep, over which your firm land is but
a thin crust or rind! Thus daily is the intermediate land
crumbling-in, daily the empire of the two Buchan-Bullers extending;
till now there is but a foot-plank, a mere film of Land between them;
this too is washed away: and then - we have the true Hell of Waters,
and Noah's Deluge is outdeluged!

'Or better, I might call them two boundless, and indeed unexampled
Electric Machines (turned by the "Machinery of Society"), with
batteries of opposite quality; Drudgism the Negative, Dandyism the
Positive: one attracts hourly towards it and appropriates all the
Positive Electricity of the nation (namely, the Money thereof); the
other is equally busy with the Negative (that is to say the Hunger),
which is equally potent. Hitherto you see only partial transient
sparkles and sputters: but wait a little, till the entire nation is in
an electric state; till your whole vital Electricity, no longer
healthfully Neutral, is cut into two isolated portions of Positive and
Negative (of Money and of Hunger); and stands there bottled-up in two
World-Batteries! The stirring of a child's finger brings the two
together; and then - What then? The Earth is but shivered into
impalpable smoke by that Doom's-thunderpeal; the Sun misses one of his
Planets in Space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the
Moon. - Or better still, I might liken' -

Oh! enough, enough of likenings and similitudes; in excess of which,
truly, it is hard to say whether Teufelsdröckh or ourselves sin the

We have often blamed him for a habit of wire-drawing and over-refining;
from of old we have been familiar with his tendency to Mysticism and
Religiosity, whereby in everything he was still scenting-out Religion:
but never perhaps did these amaurosis-suffusions so cloud and distort
his otherwise most piercing vision, as in this of the _Dandiacal Body_!
Or was there something of intended satire; is the Professor and Seer
not quite the blinkard he affects to be? Of an ordinary mortal we
should have decisively answered in the affirmative; but with a
Teufelsdröckh there ever hovers some shade of doubt. In the mean
while, if satire were actually intended, the case is little better.
There are not wanting men who will answer: Does your Professor take us
for simpletons? His irony has overshot itself; we see through it, and
perhaps through him.



Thus, however, has our first Practical Inference from the
Clothes-Philosophy, that which respects Dandies, been sufficiently
drawn; and we come now to the second, concerning Tailors. On this
latter our opinion happily quite coincides with that of Teufelsdröckh
himself, as expressed in the concluding page of his Volume, to whom,
therefore, we willingly give place. Let him speak his own last words,
in his own way:

* * * * *

'Upwards of a century,' says he, 'must elapse, and still the bleeding
fight of Freedom be fought, whoso is noblest perishing in the van, and
thrones be hurled on altars like Pelion on Ossa, and the Moloch of
Iniquity have his victims, and the Michael of Justice his martyrs,
before Tailors can be admitted to their true prerogatives of manhood,
and this last wound of suffering Humanity be closed.

'If aught in the history of the world's blindness could surprise us,
here might we indeed pause and wonder. An idea has gone abroad, and
fixed itself down into a wide-spreading rooted error, that Tailors are
a distinct species in Physiology, not Men, but fractional Parts of a
Man. Call any one a _Schneider_ (Cutter, Tailor), is it not, in our
dislocated, hood-winked, and indeed delirious condition of Society,
equivalent to defying his perpetual fellest enmity? The epithet
_schneider-mässig_ (tailor-like) betokens an otherwise unapproachable
degree of pusillanimity: we introduce a _Tailor's-Melancholy_, more
opprobrious than any Leprosy, into our Books of Medicine; and fable I
know not what of his generating it by living on Cabbage. Why should I
speak of Hans Sachs (himself a Shoemaker, or kind of Leather-Tailor),
with his _Schneider mit dem Panier_? Why of Shakspeare, in his _Taming
of the Shrew_, and elsewhere? Does it not stand on record that the
English Queen Elizabeth, receiving a deputation of Eighteen Tailors,
addressed them with a "Good morning, gentlemen both!" Did not the same
virago boast that she had a Cavalry Regiment, whereof neither horse
nor man could be injured; her Regiment, namely, of Tailors on Mares?
Thus everywhere is the falsehood taken for granted, and acted-on as an
indisputable fact.

'Nevertheless, need I put the question to any Physiologist, whether it
is disputable or not? Seems it not at least presumable, that, under
his Clothes, the Tailor has bones and viscera, and other muscles than
the sartorious? Which function of manhood is the Tailor not
conjectured to perform? Can he not arrest for debt? Is he not in most
countries a tax-paying animal?

'To no reader of this Volume can it be doubtful which conviction is
mine. Nay if the fruit of these long vigils, and almost preternatural
Inquiries, is not to perish utterly, the world will have approximated
towards a higher Truth; and the doctrine, which Swift, with the keen
forecast of genius, dimly anticipated, will stand revealed in clear
light: that the Tailor is not only a Man, but something of a Creator
or Divinity. Of Franklin it was said, that "he snatched the Thunder
from Heaven and the Sceptre from Kings": but which is greater, I would
ask, he that lends, or he that snatches? For, looking away from
individual cases, and how a Man is by the Tailor new-created into a
Nobleman, and clothed not only with Wool but with Dignity and a Mystic
Dominion, - is not the fair fabric of Society itself, with all its
royal mantles and pontifical stoles, whereby, from nakedness and
dismemberment, we are organised into Polities, into nations, and a
whole co-operating Mankind, the creation, as has here been often
irrefragably evinced, of the Tailor alone? - What too are all Poets and
moral Teachers, but a species of Metaphorical Tailors? Touching which
high Guild the greatest living Guild-brother has triumphantly asked
us: "Nay if thou wilt have it, who but the Poet first made Gods for
men; brought them down to us; and raised us up to them?"

'And this is he, whom sitting downcast, on the hard basis of his
Shopboard, the world treats with contumely, as the ninth part of a
man! Look up, thou much-injured one, look up with the kindling eye of
hope, and prophetic bodings of a noble better time. Too long hast thou
sat there, on crossed legs, wearing thy ankle-joints to horn; like
some sacred Anchorite, or Catholic Fakir, doing penance, drawing down
Heaven's richest blessings, for a world that scoffed at thee. Be of
hope! Already streaks of blue peer through our clouds; the thick gloom
of Ignorance is rolling asunder, and it will be Day. Mankind will

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 20 of 43)