Thomas Carlyle.

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

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speculative scientific Truth even known, you still, in this inquiring
age, ask yourself, Whence came it, and Why, and How? - and rest not,
till, if no better may be, Fancy have shaped-out an answer; and either
in the authentic lineaments of Fact, or the forged ones of Fiction, a
complete picture and Genetical History of the Man and his spiritual
Endeavour lies before you. But why,' says the Hofrath, and indeed say
we, 'do I dilate on the uses of our Teufelsdröckh's Biography? The
great Herr Minister von Goethe has penetratingly remarked that "Man is
properly the _only_ object that interests man": thus I too have noted,
that in Weissnichtwo our whole conversation is little or nothing else
but Biography or Auto-Biography; ever humano-anecdotical
(_menschlich-anekdotisch_). Biography is by nature the most
universally profitable, universally pleasant of all things: especially
Biography of distinguished individuals.

'By this time, _mein Verehrtester_ (my Most Esteemed),' continues he,
with an eloquence which, unless the words be purloined from
Teufelsdröckh, or some trick of his, as we suspect, is well-nigh
unaccountable, 'by this time you are fairly plunged (_vertieft_) in
that mighty forest of Clothes-Philosophy; and looking round, as all
readers do, with astonishment enough. Such portions and passages as
you have already mastered, and brought to paper, could not but awaken
a strange curiosity touching the mind they issued from; the perhaps
unparalleled psychical mechanism, which manufactured such matter, and
emitted it to the light of day. Had Teufelsdröckh also a father and
mother; did he, at one time, wear drivel-bibs, and live on spoon-meat?
Did he ever, in rapture and tears, clasp a friend's bosom to his;
looks he also wistfully into the long burial-aisle of the Past, where
only winds, and their low harsh moan, give inarticulate answer? Has he
fought duels; - good Heaven! how did he comport himself when in Love?
By what singular stair-steps, in short, and subterranean passages, and
sloughs of Despair, and steep Pisgah hills, has he reached this
wonderful prophetic Hebron (a true Old-Clothes Jewry) where he now

'To all these natural questions the voice of public History is as yet
silent. Certain only that he has been, and is, a Pilgrim, and
Traveller from a far Country; more or less footsore and travel-soiled;
has parted with road-companions; fallen among thieves, been poisoned
by bad cookery, blistered with bug-bites; nevertheless at every stage
(for they have let him pass), has had the Bill to discharge. But the
whole particulars of his Route, his Weather-observations, the
picturesque Sketches he took, though all regularly jotted down (in
indelible sympathetic-ink by an invisible interior Penman), are these
nowhere forthcoming? Perhaps quite lost: one other leaf of that mighty
Volume (of human Memory) left to fly abroad, unprinted, unpublished,
unbound up, as waste paper; and to rot, the sport of rainy winds?

'No, _verehrtester Herr Herausgeber_, in no wise! I here, by the
unexampled favour you stand in with our Sage, send not a Biography
only, but an Autobiography: at least the materials for such;
wherefrom, if I misreckon not, your perspicacity will draw fullest
insight: and so the whole Philosophy and Philosopher of Clothes will
stand clear to the wondering eyes of England, nay thence, through
America, through Hindostan, and the antipodal New Holland, finally
conquer (_einnehmen_) great part of this terrestrial Planet!'

And now let the sympathising reader judge of our feeling when, in
place of this same Autobiography with 'fullest insight,' we find - Six
considerable PAPER-BAGS, carefully sealed, and marked successively, in
gilt China-ink, with the symbols of the Six southern Zodiacal Signs,
beginning at Libra; in the inside of which sealed Bags lie
miscellaneous masses of Sheets, and oftener Shreds and Snips, written
in Professor Teufelsdröckh's scarce legible _cursiv-schrift_; and
treating of all imaginable things under the Zodiac and above it, but
of his own personal history only at rare intervals, and then in the
most enigmatic manner.

Whole fascicles there are, wherein the Professor, or, as he here,
speaking in the third person, calls himself, 'the Wanderer,' is not once
named. Then again, amidst what seems to be a Metaphysico-theological
Disquisition, 'Detached Thoughts on the Steam-engine,' or, 'The
continued Possibility of Prophecy,' we shall meet with some quite
private, not unimportant Biographical fact. On certain sheets stand
Dreams, authentic or not, while the circumjacent waking Actions are
omitted. Anecdotes, oftenest without date of place or time, fly
loosely on separate slips, like Sibylline leaves. Interspersed also
are long purely Autobiographical delineations; yet without connexion,
without recognisable coherence; so unimportant, so superfluously
minute, they almost remind us of 'P.P. Clerk of this Parish.' Thus
does famine of intelligence alternate with waste. Selection, order,
appears to be unknown to the Professor. In all Bags the same
imbroglio; only perhaps in the Bag _Capricorn_, and those near it, the
confusion a little worse confounded. Close by a rather eloquent Oration,
'On receiving the Doctor's-Hat,' lie washbills, marked _bezahlt_
(settled). His Travels are indicated by the Street-Advertisements of
the various cities he has visited; of which Street-Advertisements, in
most living tongues, here is perhaps the completest collection extant.

So that if the Clothes-Volume itself was too like a Chaos, we have now
instead of the solar Luminary that should still it, the airy Limbo
which by intermixture will farther volatilise and discompose it! As we
shall perhaps see it our duty ultimately to deposit these Six
Paper-Bags in the British Museum, farther description, and all
vituperation of them, may be spared. Biography or Autobiography of
Teufelsdröckh there is, clearly enough, none to be gleaned here: at
most some sketchy, shadowy fugitive likeness of him may, by unheard-of
efforts, partly of intellect, partly of imagination, on the side of
Editor and of Reader; rise up between them. Only as a gaseous-chaotic
Appendix to that aqueous-chaotic Volume can the contents of the Six
Bags hover round us, and portions thereof be incorporated with our
delineation of it.

Daily and nightly does the Editor sit (with green spectacles)
deciphering these unimaginable Documents from their perplexed
_cursiv-schrift_; collating them with the almost equally unimaginable
Volume, which stands in legible print. Over such a universal medley of
high and low, of hot, cold, moist and dry, is he here struggling (by
union of like with like, which is Method) to build a firm Bridge for
British travellers. Never perhaps since our first Bridge-builders, Sin
and Death, built that stupendous Arch from Hell-gate to the Earth, did
any Pontifex, or Pontiff, undertake such a task as the present Editor.
For in this Arch too, leading, as we humbly presume, far otherwards
than that grand primeval one, the materials are to be fished-up from
the weltering deep, and down from the simmering air, here one mass,
there another, and cunningly cemented, while the elements boil
beneath: nor is there any supernatural force to do it with; but simply
the Diligence and feeble thinking Faculty of an English Editor,
endeavouring to evolve printed Creation out of a German printed and
written Chaos, wherein, as he shoots to and fro in it, gathering,
clutching, piercing the Why to the far-distant Wherefore, his whole
Faculty and Self are like to be swallowed up.

Patiently, under these incessant toils and agitations, does the
Editor, dismissing all anger, see his otherwise robust health
declining; some fraction of his allotted natural sleep nightly leaving
him, and little but an inflamed nervous-system to be looked for. What
is the use of health, or of life, if not to do some work therewith?
And what work nobler than transplanting foreign Thought into the
barren domestic soil; except indeed planting Thought of your own,
which the fewest are privileged to do? Wild as it looks, this
Philosophy of Clothes, can we ever reach its real meaning, promises to
reveal new-coming Eras, the first dim rudiments and already-budding
germs of a nobler Era, in Universal History. Is not such a prize worth
some striving? Forward with us, courageous reader; be it towards
failure, or towards success! The latter thou sharest with us; the
former also is not all our own.




In a psychological point of view, it is perhaps questionable whether
from birth and genealogy, how closely scrutinised soever, much insight
is to be gained. Nevertheless, as in every phenomenon the Beginning
remains always the most notable moment; so, with regard to any great
man, we rest not till, for our scientific profit or not, the whole
circumstances of his first appearance in this Planet, and what manner
of Public Entry he made, are with utmost completeness rendered
manifest. To the Genesis of our Clothes-Philosopher, then, be this
First Chapter consecrated. Unhappily, indeed, he seems to be of quite
obscure extraction; uncertain, we might almost say, whether of any: so
that this Genesis of his can properly be nothing but an Exodus (or
transit out of Invisibility into Visibility); whereof the preliminary
portion is nowhere forthcoming.

'In the village of Entepfuhl,' thus writes he, in the Bag _Libra_, on
various Papers, which we arrange with difficulty, 'dwelt Andreas
Futteral and his wife; childless, in still seclusion, and cheerful
though now verging towards old age. Andreas had been grenadier
Sergeant, and even regimental Schoolmaster under Frederick the Great;
but now, quitting the halbert and ferule for the spade and
pruning-hook, cultivated a little Orchard, on the produce of which he,
Cincinnatus-like, lived not without dignity. Fruits, the peach, the
apple, the grape, with other varieties came in their season; all which
Andreas knew how to sell: on evenings he smoked largely, or read (as
beseemed a regimental Schoolmaster), and talked to neighbours that
would listen about the Victory of Rossbach; and how Fritz the Only
(_der Einzige_) had once with his own royal lips spoken to him, had
been pleased to say, when Andreas as camp-sentinel demanded the
pass-word, "_Schweig Hund_ (Peace, hound)!" before any of his
staff-adjutants could answer. "_Das nenn' ich mir einen König_, There
is what I call a King," would Andreas exclaim: "but the smoke of
Kunersdorf was still smarting his eyes."

'Gretchen, the housewife, won like Desdemona by the deeds rather than
the looks of her now veteran Othello, lived not in altogether military
subordination; for, as Andreas said, "the womankind will not drill
(_wer kann die Weiberchen dressiren_)": nevertheless she at heart
loved him both for valour and wisdom; to her a Prussian grenadier
Sergeant and Regiment's Schoolmaster was little other than a Cicero
and Cid: what you see, yet cannot see over, is as good as infinite.
Nay, was not Andreas in very deed a man of order, courage,
downrightness (_Geradheit_); that understood Büsching's _Geography_,
had been in the victory of Rossbach, and left for dead in the camisade
of Hochkirch? The good Gretchen, for all her fretting, watched over
him and hovered round him as only a true housemother can: assiduously
she cooked and sewed and scoured for him; so that not only his old
regimental sword and grenadier-cap, but the whole habitation and
environment, where on pegs of honour they hung, looked ever trim and
gay: a roomy painted Cottage, embowered in fruit-trees and
forest-trees, evergreens and honeysuckles; rising many-coloured from
amid shaven grass-plots, flowers struggling-in through the very
windows; under its long projecting eaves nothing but garden-tools in
methodic piles (to screen them from rain), and seats where, especially
on summer nights, a King might have wished to sit and smoke, and call
it his. Such a _Bauergut_ (Copyhold) had Gretchen given her veteran;
whose sinewy arms, and long-disused gardening talent, had made it what
you saw.

'Into this umbrageous Man's-nest, one meek yellow evening or dusk,
when the Sun, hidden indeed from terrestrial Entepfuhl, did
nevertheless journey visible and radiant along the celestial Balance
(_Libra_), it was that a Stranger of reverend aspect entered; and,
with grave salutation, stood before the two rather astonished
housemates. He was close-muffled in a wide mantle; which without
further parley unfolding, he deposited therefrom what seemed some
Basket, overhung with green Persian silk; saying only: _Ihr lieben
Leute, hier bringe ein unschätzbares Verleihen; nehmt es in aller
Acht, sorgfältigst benützt es: mit hohem Lohn, oder wohl mit schweren
Zinsen, wird's einst zurückgefordert._ "Good Christian people, here
lies for you an invaluable Loan; take all heed thereof, in all
carefulness employ it: with high recompense, or else with heavy
penalty, will it one day be required back." Uttering which singular
words, in a clear, bell-like, forever memorable tone, the Stranger
gracefully withdrew; and before Andreas or his wife, gazing in
expectant wonder, had time to fashion either question or answer, was
clean gone. Neither out of doors could aught of him be seen or heard;
he had vanished in the thickets, in the dusk; the Orchard-gate stood
quietly closed: the Stranger was gone once and always. So sudden had
the whole transaction been, in the autumn stillness and twilight, so
gentle, noiseless, that the Futterals could have fancied it all a
trick of Imagination, or some visit from an authentic Spirit. Only
that the green-silk Basket, such as neither Imagination nor authentic
Spirits are wont to carry, still stood visible and tangible on their
little parlour-table. Towards this the astonished couple, now with lit
candle, hastily turned their attention. Lifting the green veil, to see
what invaluable it hid, they descried there, amid down and rich white
wrappages, no Pitt Diamond or Hapsburg Regalia, but, in the softest
sleep, a little red-coloured Infant! Beside it, lay a roll of gold
Friedrichs, the exact amount of which was never publicly known; also a
_Taufschein_ (baptismal certificate), wherein unfortunately nothing
but the Name was decipherable; other document or indication none

'To wonder and conjecture was unavailing, then and always thenceforth.
Nowhere in Entepfuhl, on the morrow or next day, did tidings transpire
of any such figure as the Stranger; nor could the Traveller, who had
passed through the neighbouring Town in coach-and-four, be connected
with this Apparition, except in the way of gratuitous surmise.
Meanwhile, for Andreas and his wife, the grand practical problem was:
What to do with this little sleeping red-coloured Infant? Amid
amazements and curiosities, which had to die away without external
satisfying, they resolved, as in such circumstances charitable prudent
people needs must, on nursing it, though with spoon-meat, into
whiteness, and if possible into manhood. The Heavens smiled on their
endeavour: thus has that same mysterious Individual ever since had a
status for himself in this visible Universe, some modicum of victual
and lodging and parade-ground; and now expanded in bulk, faculty and
knowledge of good and evil, he, as HERR DIOGENES TEUFELSDRÖCKH,
professes or is ready to profess, perhaps not altogether without
effect, in the new University of Weissnichtwo, the new Science of
Things in General.'

Our Philosopher declares here, as indeed we should think he well
might, that these facts, first communicated, by the good Gretchen
Futteral, in his twelfth year, 'produced on the boyish heart and fancy
a quite indelible impression. Who this Reverend Personage,' he says,
'that glided into the Orchard Cottage when the Sun was in Libra, and
then, as on spirit's wings, glided out again, might be? An
inexpressible desire, full of love and of sadness, has often since
struggled within me to shape an answer. Ever, in my distresses and my
loneliness, has Fantasy turned, full of longing (_sehnsuchtsvoll_), to
that unknown Father, who perhaps far from me, perhaps near, either way
invisible, might have taken me to his paternal bosom, there to lie
screened from many a woe. Thou beloved Father, dost thou still, shut
out from me only by thin penetrable curtains of earthly Space, wend to
and fro among the crowd of the living? Or art thou hidden by those far
thicker curtains of the Everlasting Night, or rather of the
Everlasting Day, through which my mortal eye and outstretched arms
need not strive to reach? Alas, I know not, and in vain vex myself to
know. More than once, heart-deluded, have I taken for thee this and
the other noble-looking Stranger; and approached him wistfully, with
infinite regard; but he too had to repel me; he too was not thou.

'And yet, O Man born of Woman,' cries the Autobiographer, with one of
his sudden whirls, 'wherein is my case peculiar? Hadst thou, any more
than I, a Father whom thou knowest? The Andreas and Gretchen, or the
Adam and Eve, who led thee into Life, and for a time suckled and
pap-fed thee there, whom thou namest Father and Mother; these were,
like mine, but thy nursing-father and nursing-mother: thy true
Beginning and Father is in Heaven, whom with the bodily eye thou shalt
never behold, but only with the spiritual.'

'The little green veil,' adds he, among much similar moralising, and
embroiled discoursing, 'I yet keep; still more inseparably the Name,
Diogenes Teufelsdröckh. From the veil can nothing be inferred: a piece
of now quite faded Persian silk, like thousands of others. On the Name
I have many times meditated and conjectured; but neither in this lay
there any clue. That it was my unknown Father's name I must hesitate
to believe. To no purpose have I searched through all the Herald's
Books, in and without the German Empire, and through all manner of
Subscriber-Lists (_Pränumeranten_), Militia-Rolls, and other
Name-catalogues; extraordinary names as we have in Germany, the name
Teufelsdröckh, except as appended to my own person, nowhere occurs.
Again, what may the unchristian rather than Christian "Diogenes" mean?
Did that reverend Basket-bearer intend, by such designation, to
shadow-forth my future destiny, or his own present malign humour?
Perhaps the latter, perhaps both. Thou ill-starred Parent, who like an
Ostrich hadst to leave thy ill-starred offspring to be hatched into
self-support by the mere sky-influences of Chance, can thy pilgrimage
have been a smooth one? Beset by Misfortune thou doubtless hast been;
or indeed by the worst figure of Misfortune, by Misconduct. Often have
I fancied how, in thy hard life-battle, thou wert shot at, and slung
at, wounded, hand-fettered, hamstrung, browbeaten and bedevilled by
the Time-Spirit (_Zeitgeist_) in thyself and others, till the good
soul first given thee was seared into grim rage; and thou hadst
nothing for it but to leave in me an indignant appeal to the Future,
and living speaking Protest against the Devil, as that same Spirit not
of the Time only, but of Time itself, is well named! Which Appeal and
Protest, may I now modestly add, was not perhaps quite lost in air.

'For indeed, as Walter Shandy often insisted, there is much, nay
almost all, in Names. The Name is the earliest Garment you wrap round
the earth-visiting ME; to which it thenceforth cleaves, more
tenaciously (for there are Names that have lasted nigh thirty
centuries) than the very skin. And now from without, what mystic
influences does it not send inwards, even to the centre; especially in
those plastic first-times, when the whole soul is yet infantine, soft,
and the invisible seedgrain will grow to be an all overshadowing tree!
Names? Could I unfold the influence of Names, which are the most
important of all Clothings, I were a second greater Trismegistus. Not
only all common Speech, but Science, Poetry itself is no other, if
thou consider it, than a right _Naming_. Adam's first task was giving
names to natural Appearances: what is ours still but a continuation of
the same; be the Appearances exotic-vegetable, organic, mechanic,
stars or starry movements (as in Science); or (as in Poetry) passions,
virtues, calamities, God-attributes, Gods? - In a very plain sense the
Proverb says, _Call one a thief, and he will steal_; in an almost
similar sense may we not perhaps say, _Call one Diogenes
Teufelsdröckh, and he will open the Philosophy of Clothes?_'

* * * * *

'Meanwhile the incipient Diogenes, like others, all ignorant of his
Why, his How or Whereabout, was opening his eyes to the kind Light;
sprawling-out his ten fingers and toes; listening, tasting, feeling;
in a word, by all his Five Senses, still more by his Sixth Sense of
Hunger, and a whole infinitude of inward, spiritual, half-awakened
Senses, endeavouring daily to acquire for himself some knowledge of
this strange Universe where he had arrived, be his task therein what
it might. Infinite was his progress; thus in some fifteen months, he
could perform the miracle of - Speech! To breed a fresh Soul, is it not
like brooding a fresh (celestial) Egg; wherein as yet all is formless,
powerless; yet by degrees organic elements and fibres shoot through
the watery albumen; and out of vague Sensation grows Thought, grows
Fantasy and Force, and we have Philosophies, Dynasties, nay Poetries
and Religions!

'Young Diogenes, or rather young Gneschen, for by such diminutive had
they in their fondness named him, travelled forward to those high
consummations, by quick yet easy stages. The Futterals, to avoid vain
talk, and moreover keep the roll of gold Friedrichs safe, gave-out
that he was a grand-nephew; the orphan of some sister's daughter,
suddenly deceased, in Andreas's distant Prussian birthland; of whom,
as of her indigent sorrowing widower, little enough was known at
Entepfuhl. Heedless of all which, the Nurseling took to his
spoon-meat, and throve. I have heard him noted as a still infant, that
kept his mind much to himself; above all, that seldom or never cried.
He already felt that time was precious; that he had other work cut-out
for him than whimpering.'

* * * * *

Such, after utmost painful search and collation among these
miscellaneous Paper-masses, is all the notice we can gather of Herr
Teufelsdröckh's genealogy. More imperfect, more enigmatic it can seem
to few readers than to us. The Professor, in whom truly we more and
more discern a certain satirical turn, and deep undercurrents of
roguish whim, for the present stands pledged in honour, so we will not
doubt him: but seems it not conceivable that, by the 'good Gretchen
Futteral,' or some other perhaps interested party, he has himself been
deceived? Should these sheets, translated or not, ever reach the
Entepfuhl Circulating Library, some cultivated native of that district
might feel called to afford explanation. Nay, since Books, like
invisible scouts, permeate the whole habitable globe, and Timbuctoo
itself is not safe from British Literature, may not some Copy find out
even the mysterious basket-bearing Stranger, who in a state of extreme
senility perhaps still exists; and gently force even him to disclose
himself; to claim openly a son, in whom any father may feel pride?



'Happy season of Childhood!' exclaims Teufelsdröckh: 'Kind Nature,
that art to all a bountiful mother; that visitest the poor man's hut
with auroral radiance; and for thy Nurseling hast provided, a soft
swathing of Love, and infinite Hope, wherein he waxes and slumbers,
danced-round (_umgaukelt_) by sweetest Dreams! If the paternal Cottage
still shuts us in, its roof still screens us; with a Father we have as
yet a prophet, priest and king, and an Obedience that makes us free.
The young spirit has awakened out of Eternity, and knows not what we
mean by Time; as yet Time is no fast-hurrying stream, but a sportful
sunlit ocean; years to the child are as ages: ah! the secret of
Vicissitude, of that slower or quicker decay and ceaseless
down-rushing of the universal World-fabric, from the granite mountain
to the man or day-moth, is yet unknown; and in a motionless Universe,
we taste, what afterwards in this quick-whirling Universe is forever
denied us, the balm of Rest. Sleep on, thou fair Child, for thy long
rough journey is at hand! A little while, and thou too shalt sleep no
more, but thy very dreams shall be mimic battles; thou too, with old

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 7 of 43)