Thomas Carlyle.

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

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the Professor has not yet learned to look upon with any contentment.
Indeed, throughout the whole of this Bag _Scorpio_, where we now are,
and often in the following Bag, he shows himself unusually animated on
the matter of Education, and not without some touch of what we might
presume to be anger.

'My Teachers,' says he, 'were hide-bound Pedants, without knowledge of
man's nature, or of boy's; or of aught save their lexicons and
quarterly account-books. Innumerable dead Vocables (no dead Language,
for they themselves knew no Language) they crammed into us, and called
it fostering the growth of mind. How can an inanimate, mechanical
Gerund-grinder, the like of whom will, in a subsequent century, be
manufactured at Nürnberg out of wood and leather, foster the growth of
anything; much more of Mind, which grows, not like a vegetable (by
having its roots littered with etymological compost), but like a
spirit, by mysterious contact of Spirit; Thought kindling itself at
the fire of living Thought? How shall _he_ give kindling, in whose own
inward man there is no live coal, but all is burnt-out to a dead
grammatical cinder? The Hinterschlag Professors knew syntax enough;
and of the human soul thus much: that it had a faculty called Memory,
and could be acted-on through the muscular integument by appliance of

'Alas, so is it everywhere, so will it ever be; till the Hodman is
discharged, or reduced to hodbearing, and an Architect is hired, and
on all hands fitly encouraged: till communities and individuals
discover, not without surprise, that fashioning the souls of a
generation by Knowledge can rank on a level with blowing their bodies
to pieces by Gunpowder; that with Generals and Fieldmarshals for
killing, there should be world-honoured Dignitaries, and were it
possible, true God-ordained Priests, for teaching. But as yet, though
the Soldier wears openly, and even parades, his butchering-tool,
nowhere, far as I have travelled, did the Schoolmaster make show of
his instructing-tool: nay, were he to walk abroad with birch girt on
thigh, as if he therefrom expected honour, would there not, among the
idler class, perhaps a certain levity be excited?'

In the third year of this Gymnasic period, Father Andreas seems to
have died: the young Scholar, otherwise so maltreated, saw himself for
the first time clad outwardly in sables, and inwardly in quite
inexpressible melancholy. 'The dark bottomless Abyss, that lies under
our feet, had yawned open; the pale kingdoms of Death, with all their
innumerable silent nations and generations, stood before him; the
inexorable word, NEVER! now first showed its meaning. My Mother wept,
and her sorrow got vent; but in my heart there lay a whole lake of
tears, pent-up in silent desolation. Nevertheless the unworn Spirit is
strong; Life is so healthful that it even finds nourishment in Death:
these stern experiences, planted down by Memory in my Imagination,
rose there to a whole cypress-forest, sad but beautiful; waving, with
not unmelodious sighs, in dark luxuriance, in the hottest sunshine,
through long years of youth: - as in manhood also it does, and will do;
for I have now pitched my tent under a Cypress-tree; the Tomb is now
my inexpugnable Fortress, ever close by the gate of which I look upon
the hostile armaments, and pains and penalties of tyrannous Life
placidly enough, and listen to its loudest threatenings with a still
smile. O ye loved ones, that already sleep in the noiseless Bed of
Rest, whom in life I could only weep for and never help; and ye, who
wide-scattered still toil lonely in the monster-bearing Desert, dyeing
the flinty ground with your blood, - yet a little while, and we shall
all meet THERE, and our Mother's bosom will screen us all; and
Oppression's harness, and Sorrow's fire-whip, and all the Gehenna
Bailiffs that patrol and inhabit ever-vexed Time, cannot thenceforth
harm us any more!'

Close by which rather beautiful apostrophe, lies a laboured Character
of the deceased Andreas Futteral; of his natural ability, his deserts
in life (as Prussian Sergeant); with long historical inquiries into
the genealogy of the Futteral Family, here traced back as far as Henry
the Fowler: the whole of which we pass over, not without astonishment.
It only concerns us to add, that now was the time when Mother Gretchen
revealed to her foster-son that he was not at all of this kindred, or
indeed of any kindred, having come into historical existence in the
way already known to us. 'Thus was I doubly orphaned,' says he;
'bereft not only of Possession, but even of Remembrance. Sorrow and
Wonder, here suddenly united, could not but produce abundant fruit.
Such a disclosure, in such a season, struck its roots through my whole
nature: ever till the years of mature manhood, it mingled with my
whole thoughts, was as the stem whereon all my day-dreams and
night-dreams grew. A certain poetic elevation, yet also a
corresponding civic depression, it naturally imparted: _I was like no
other_; in which fixed-idea, leading sometimes to highest, and oftener
to frightfullest results, may there not lie the first spring of
Tendencies, which in my Life have become remarkable enough? As in
birth, so in action, speculation, and social position, my fellows are
perhaps not numerous.'

* * * * *

In the Bag _Sagittarius_, as we at length discover, Teufelsdröckh has
become a University man; though, how, when, or of what quality, will
nowhere disclose itself with the smallest certainty. Few things, in
the way of confusion and capricious indistinctness, can now surprise
our readers; not even the total want of dates, almost without parallel
in a Biographical work. So enigmatic, so chaotic we have always found,
and must always look to find, these scattered Leaves. In
_Sagittarius_, however, Teufelsdröckh begins to show himself even more
than usually Sibylline: fragments of all sorts; scraps of regular
Memoir, College-Exercises, Programs, Professional Testimoniums,
Milkscores, torn Billets, sometimes to appearance of an amatory cast;
all blown together as if by merest chance, henceforth bewilder the
sane Historian. To combine any picture of these University, and the
subsequent, years; much more, to decipher therein any illustrative
primordial elements of the Clothes-Philosophy, becomes such a problem
as the reader may imagine.

So much we can see; darkly, as through the foliage of some wavering
thicket: a youth of no common endowment, who has passed happily
through Childhood, less happily yet still vigorously through Boyhood,
now at length perfect in 'dead vocables,' and set down, as he hopes,
by the living Fountain, there to superadd Ideas and Capabilities. From
such Fountain he draws, diligently, thirstily, yet never or seldom
with his whole heart, for the water nowise suits his palate;
discouragements, entanglements, aberrations are discoverable or
supposable. Nor perhaps are even pecuniary distresses wanting; for
'the good Gretchen, who in spite of advices from not disinterested
relatives has sent him hither, must after a time withdraw her willing
but too feeble hand.' Nevertheless in an atmosphere of Poverty and
manifold Chagrin, the Humour of that young Soul, what character is in
him, first decisively reveals itself; and, like strong sunshine in
weeping skies, gives out variety of colours, some of which are
prismatic. Thus, with the aid of Time and of what Time brings, has the
stripling Diogenes Teufelsdröckh waxed into manly stature; and into so
questionable an aspect, that we ask with new eagerness, How he
specially came by it, and regret anew that there is no more explicit
answer. Certain of the intelligible and partially significant
fragments, which are few in number, shall be extracted from that Limbo
of a Paper-bag, and presented with the usual preparation.

As if, in the Bag _Scorpio_, Teufelsdröckh had not already
expectorated his antipedagogic spleen; as if, from the name
_Sagittarius_, he had thought himself called upon to shoot arrows, we
here again fall-in with such matter as this: 'The University where I
was educated still stands vivid enough in my remembrance, and I know
its name well; which name, however, I, from tenderness to existing
interests and persons, shall in nowise divulge. It is my painful duty
to say that, out of England and Spain, ours was the worst of all
hitherto discovered Universities. This is indeed a time when right
Education is, as nearly as may be, impossible: however, in degrees of
wrongness there is no limit: nay, I can conceive a worse system than
that of the Nameless itself; as poisoned victual may be worse than
absolute hunger.

'It is written, When the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into
the ditch: wherefore, in such circumstances, may it not sometimes be
safer, if both leader and led simply - sit still? Had you, anywhere in
Crim Tartary; walled-in a square enclosure; furnished it with a small,
ill-chosen Library; and then turned loose into it eleven-hundred
Christian striplings, to tumble about as they listed, from three to
seven years: certain persons, under the title of Professors, being
stationed at the gates, to declare aloud that it was a University, and
exact considerable admission-fees, - you had, not indeed in mechanical
structure, yet in spirit and result, some imperfect resemblance of our
High Seminary. I say, imperfect; for if our mechanical structure was
quite other, so neither was our result altogether the same: unhappily,
we were not in Crim Tartary, but in a corrupt European city, full of
smoke and sin; moreover, in the middle of a Public, which, without far
costlier apparatus than that of the Square Enclosure, and Declaration
aloud, you could not be sure of gulling.

'Gullible, however, by fit apparatus, all Publics are; and gulled,
with the most surprising profit. Towards anything like a _Statistics
of Imposture_, indeed, little as yet has been done: with a strange
indifference, our Economists, nigh buried under Tables for minor
Branches of Industry, have altogether overlooked the grand
all-overtopping Hypocrisy Branch; as if our whole arts of Puffery, of
Quackery, Priestcraft, Kingcraft, and the innumerable other crafts and
mysteries of that genus, had not ranked in Productive Industry at all!
Can any one, for example, so much as say, What moneys, in Literature
and Shoeblacking, are realised by actual Instruction and actual jet
Polish; what by fictitious-persuasive Proclamation of such; specifying,
in distinct items, the distributions, circulations, disbursements,
incomings of said moneys, with the smallest approach to accuracy? But
to ask, How far, in all the several infinitely-complected departments
of social business, in government, education, in manual, commercial,
intellectual fabrication of every sort, man's Want is supplied by true
Ware; how far by the mere Appearance of true Ware: - in other words, To
what extent, by what methods, with what effects, in various times and
countries, Deception takes the place of wages of Performance: here
truly is an Inquiry big with results for the future time, but to which
hitherto only the vaguest answer can be given. If for the present, in
our Europe, we estimate the ratio of Ware to Appearance of Ware so
high even as at One to a Hundred (which, considering the Wages of a
Pope, Russian Autocrat, or English Game-Preserver, is probably not far
from the mark), - what almost prodigious saving may there not be
anticipated, as the _Statistics of Imposture_ advances, and so the
manufacturing of Shams (that of Realities rising into clearer and
clearer distinction therefrom) gradually declines, and at length
becomes all but wholly unnecessary!

'This for the coming golden ages. What I had to remark, for the
present brazen one, is, that in several provinces, as in Education,
Polity, Religion, where so much is wanted and indispensable, and so
little can as yet be furnished, probably Imposture is of sanative,
anodyne nature, and man's Gullibility not his worst blessing. Suppose
your sinews of war quite broken; I mean your military chest insolvent,
forage all but exhausted; and that the whole army is about to mutiny,
disband, and cut your and each other's throat, - then were it not well
could you, as if by miracle, pay them in any sort of fairy-money, feed
them on coagulated water, or mere imagination of meat; whereby, till
the real supply came up, they might be kept together and quiet? Such
perhaps was the aim of Nature, who does nothing without aim, in
furnishing her favourite, Man, with this his so omnipotent or rather
omnipatient Talent of being Gulled.

'How beautifully it works, with a little mechanism; nay, almost makes
mechanism for itself! These Professors in the Nameless lived with
ease, with safety, by a mere Reputation, constructed in past times,
and then too with no great effort, by quite another class of persons.
Which Reputation, like a strong, brisk-going undershot wheel, sunk
into the general current, bade fair, with only a little annual
repainting on their part, to hold long together, and of its own accord
assiduously grind for them. Happy that it was so, for the Millers!
They themselves needed not to work; their attempts at working, at what
they called Educating, now when I look back on it, filled me with a
certain mute admiration.

'Besides all this, we boasted ourselves a Rational University; in the
highest degree hostile to Mysticism; thus was the young vacant mind
furnished with much talk about Progress of the Species, Dark Ages,
Prejudice, and the like; so that all were quickly enough blown out
into a state of windy argumentativeness; whereby the better sort had
soon to end in sick, impotent Scepticism; the worser sort explode
(_crepiren_) in finished Self-conceit, and to all spiritual intents
become dead. - But this too is portion of mankind's lot. If our era is
the Era of Unbelief, why murmur under it; is there not a better
coming, nay come? As in long-drawn Systole and long-drawn Diastole,
must the period of Faith alternate with the period of Denial; must the
vernal growth, the summer luxuriance of all Opinions, Spiritual
Representations and Creations, be followed by, and again follow, the
autumnal decay, the winter dissolution. For man lives in Time, has his
whole earthly being, endeavour and destiny shaped for him by Time:
only in the transitory Time-Symbol is the ever-motionless Eternity we
stand on made manifest. And yet, in such winter-seasons of Denial, it
is for the nobler-minded perhaps a comparative misery to have been
born, and to be awake and work; and for the duller a felicity, if,
like hibernating animals, safe-lodged in some Salamanca University, or
Sybaris City, or other superstitious or voluptuous Castle of
Indolence, they can slumber-through, in stupid dreams, and only awaken
when the loud-roaring hailstorms have all done their work, and to our
prayers and martyrdoms the new Spring has been vouchsafed.'

That in the environment, here mysteriously enough shadowed forth,
Teufelsdröckh must have felt ill at ease, cannot be doubtful. 'The
hungry young,' he says, 'looked up to their spiritual Nurses; and, for
food, were bidden eat the east-wind. What vain jargon of controversial
Metaphysic, Etymology, and mechanical Manipulation falsely named
Science, was current there, I indeed learned, better perhaps than the
most. Among eleven-hundred Christian youths, there will not be wanting
some eleven eager to learn. By collision with such, a certain warmth,
a certain polish was communicated; by instinct and happy accident, I
took less to rioting (_renommiren_), than to thinking and reading,
which latter also I was free to do. Nay from the chaos of that
Library, I succeeded in fishing-up more books perhaps than had been
known to the very keepers thereof. The foundation of a Literary Life
was hereby laid : I learned, on my own strength, to read fluently in
almost all cultivated languages, on almost all subjects and sciences;
farther, as man is ever the prime object to man, already it was my
favourite employment to read character in speculation, and from the
Writing to construe the Writer. A certain groundplan of Human Nature
and Life began to fashion itself in me; wondrous enough, now when I
look back on it; for my whole Universe, physical and spiritual, was as
yet a Machine! However, such a conscious, recognised groundplan, the
truest I had, _was_ beginning to be there, and by additional
experiments might be corrected and indefinitely extended.'

Thus from poverty does the strong educe nobler wealth; thus in the
destitution of the wild desert does our young Ishmael acquire for
himself the highest of all possessions, that of Self-help.
Nevertheless a desert this was, waste, and howling with savage
monsters. Teufelsdröckh gives us long details of his 'fever-paroxysms
of Doubt'; his Inquiries concerning Miracles, and the Evidences of
religious Faith; and how 'in the silent night-watches, still darker in
his heart than over sky and earth, he has cast himself before the
All-seeing, and with audible prayers cried vehemently for Light, for
deliverance from Death and the Grave. Not till after long years, and
unspeakable agonies, did the believing heart surrender; sink into
spell-bound sleep, under the night-mare, Unbelief; and, in this
hag-ridden dream, mistake God's fair living world for a pallid, vacant
Hades and extinct Pandemonium. But through such Purgatory pain,'
continues he, 'it is appointed us to pass; first must the dead Letter
of Religion own itself dead, and drop piecemeal into dust, if the
living Spirit of Religion, freed from this its charnel-house, is to
arise on us, newborn of Heaven, and with new healing under its wings.'

To which Purgatory pains, seemingly severe enough, if we add a liberal
measure of Earthly distresses, want of practical guidance, want of
sympathy, want of money, want of hope; and all this in the fervid
season of youth, so exaggerated in imagining, so boundless in desires,
yet here so poor in means, - do we not see a strong incipient spirit
oppressed and overloaded from without and from within; the fire of
genius struggling-up among fuel-wood of the greenest, and as yet with
more of bitter vapour than of clear flame?

From various fragments of Letters and other documentary scraps, it is
to be inferred that Teufelsdröckh, isolated, shy, retiring as he was,
had not altogether escaped notice: certain established men are aware
of his existence; and, if stretching-out no helpful hand, have at
least their eyes on him. He appears, though in dreary enough humour,
to be addressing himself to the Profession of Law; - whereof, indeed,
the world has since seen him a public graduate. But omitting these
broken, unsatisfactory thrums of Economical relation, let us present
rather the following small thread of Moral relation; and therewith,
the reader for himself weaving it in at the right place, conclude our
dim arras-picture of these University years.

'Here also it was that I formed acquaintance with Herr Towgood, or, as
it is perhaps better written, Herr Toughgut; a young person of quality
(_von Adel_), from the interior parts of England. He stood connected,
by blood and hospitality, with the Counts von Zähdarm, in this quarter
of Germany; to which noble Family I likewise was, by his means, with
all friendliness, brought near. Towgood had a fair talent, unspeakably
ill-cultivated; with considerable humour of character: and, bating his
total ignorance, for he knew nothing except Boxing and a little
Grammar, showed less of that aristocratic impassivity, and silent
fury, than for most part belongs to Travellers of his nation. To him I
owe my first practical knowledge of the English and their ways;
perhaps also something of the partiality with which I have ever since
regarded that singular people. Towgood was not without an eye, could
he have come at any light. Invited doubtless by the presence of the
Zähdarm Family, he had travelled hither, in the almost frantic hope of
perfecting his studies; he, whose studies had as yet been those of
infancy, hither to a University where so much as the notion of
perfection, not to say the effort after it, no longer existed! Often
we would condole over the hard destiny of the Young in this era: how,
after all our toil, we were to be turned-out into the world, with
beards on our chins indeed, but with few other attributes of manhood;
no existing thing that we were trained to Act on, nothing that we
could so much as Believe. "How has our head on the outside a polished
Hat," would Towgood exclaim, "and in the inside Vacancy, or a froth of
Vocables and Attorney-Logic! At a small cost men are educated to make
leather into shoes; but at a great cost, what am I educated to make?
By Heaven, Brother! what I have already eaten and worn, as I came thus
far, would endow a considerable Hospital of Incurables." - "Man,
indeed," I would answer, "has a Digestive Faculty, which must be kept
working, were it even partly by stealth. But as for our Mis-education,
make not bad worse; waste not the time yet ours, in trampling on
thistles because they have yielded us no figs. _Frisch zu, Bruder!_
Here are Books, and we have brains to read them; here is a whole Earth
and a whole Heaven, and we have eyes to look on them: _Frisch zu!_"

'Often also our talk was gay; not without brilliancy, and even fire.
We looked-out on Life, with its strange scaffolding, where all at once
harlequins dance, and men are beheaded and quartered: motley, not
unterrific was the aspect; but we looked on it like brave youths. For
myself, these were perhaps my most genial hours. Towards this young
warmhearted, strongheaded and wrongheaded Herr Towgood I was even near
experiencing the now obsolete sentiment of Friendship. Yes, foolish
Heathen that I was, I felt that, under certain conditions, I could
have loved this man, and taken him to my bosom, and been his brother
once and always. By degrees, however, I understood the new time, and
its wants. If man's _Soul_ is indeed, as in the Finnish Language, and
Utilitarian Philosophy, a kind of _Stomach_, what else is the true
meaning of Spiritual Union but an Eating together? Thus we, instead of
Friends, are Dinner-guests; and here as elsewhere have cast away

So ends, abruptly as is usual, and enigmatically, this little
incipient romance. What henceforth becomes of the brave Herr Towgood,
or Toughgut? He has dived-under, in the Autobiographical Chaos, and
swims we see not where. Does any reader 'in the interior parts of
England' know of such a man?



'Thus, nevertheless,' writes our autobiographer, apparently as
quitting College, 'was there realised Somewhat; namely, I, Diogenes
Teufelsdröckh: a visible Temporary Figure (_Zeitbild_), occupying some
cubic feet of Space, and containing within it Forces both physical and
spiritual; hopes, passions, thoughts; the whole wondrous furniture, in
more or less perfection, belonging to that mystery, a Man.
Capabilities there were in me to give battle, in some small degree,
against the great Empire of Darkness: does not the very Ditcher and
Delver, with his spade, extinguish many a thistle and puddle; and so
leave a little Order, where he found the opposite? Nay your very
Daymoth has capabilities in this kind; and ever organises something
(into its own Body, if no otherwise), which was before Inorganic; and
of mute dead air makes living music, though only of the faintest, by

'How much more, one whose capabilities are spiritual; who has learned,
or begun learning, the grand thaumaturgic art of Thought! Thaumaturgic
I name it; for hitherto all Miracles have been wrought thereby, and
henceforth innumerable will be wrought; whereof we, even in these
days, witness some. Of the Poet's and Prophet's inspired Message, and
how it makes and unmakes whole worlds, I shall forbear mention: but
cannot the dullest hear Steam-engines clanking around him? Has he not
seen the Scottish Brassmith's IDEA (and this but a mechanical one)
travelling on fire-wings round the Cape, and across two Oceans; and
stronger than any other Enchanter's Familiar, on all hands unweariedly
fetching and carrying: at home, not only weaving Cloth, but rapidly
enough overturning the whole old system of Society; and, for Feudalism
and Preservation of the Game, preparing us, by indirect but sure
methods, Industrialism and the Government of the Wisest? Truly a
Thinking Man is the worst enemy the Prince of Darkness can have; every
time such a one announces himself, I doubt not, there runs a shudder

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; and, On heroes, hero-worship and the heroic in history → online text (page 9 of 43)