Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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it must spout, inaudibly, is a negative yet no slight
virtue, nor one of the commonest in these times.

Nevertheless, we will not take upon us to say, that
in the strange measure he fell upon, there was not a
touch of latent Insanity ; whereof indeed the actual
condition of these Documents in Capricornus and
Aquarius is no bad emblem. His so unlimited Wan-
derings, toilsome enough, are without assigned or per-
haps assignable aim ; internal Unrest seems his sole
guidance ; he wanders, wanders, as if that curse of the
Prophet had fallen on him, and he were "made like
unto a wheel." Doubtless, too, the chaotic nature
of these Paper-bags aggravates our obscurity. Quite
without note of preparation, for example, we come
upon the following slip : "A peculiar feeling it is that
will rise in the Traveller, when turning some hill-range
in his desert road, he descries lying far below, em-
bosomed among its groves and green natural bulwarks,
and all diminished to a toybox, the fair Town, where so
many souls, as it were seen and yet unseen, are driving
their multifarious traffic. Its white steeple is then
truly a starward-pointing finger ; the canopy of blue
smoke seems like a sort of Life-breath : for always, of
its own unity, the soul gives unity to whatsoever it
looks on with love; thus does the little Dwelling-place


of men, in itself a congeries of houses and huts, become
for us an individual, almost a person. But what
thousand other thoughts unite thereto, if the place has
to ourselves been the arena of joyous or mournful
experiences ; if perhaps the cradle we were rocked in
still stands there, if our Loving ones still dwell there,
if our Buried ones there slumber ! " Does Teufels-
drockh, as the wounded eagle is said to make for its
own eyrie, and indeed military deserters, and all hunted
outcast creatures, turn as if by instinct in the direction
of their birthland, fly first, in this extremity, towards
his native Entepfuhl ; but reflecting that there no help
awaits him, take only one wistful look from the dis'
tance, and then wend elsewhither ?

Little happier seems to be his next flight : into the
wilds of Nature ; as if in her mother-bosom he would
seek healing. So at least we incline to interpret the
following Notice, separated from the former by some
considerable space, wherein, however, is nothing note-
worthy :

" Mountains were not new to him ; but rarely are
Mountains seen in such combined majesty and grace
as here. The rocks are of that sort called Primitive by
the mineralogists, which always arrange themselves in
masses of a rugged, gigantic character ; which rugged-
ness, however, is here tempered by a singular airiness
of form, and softness of environment : in a climate
favorable to vegetation, the gray cliff, itself covered
with lichens, shoots-up through a garment of foliage
or verdure ; and white, bright cottages, tree-shaded,
cluster around the everlasting granite. In fine vicissi-
tude, Beauty alternates with Grandeur : you ride through
stony hollows, along strait passes, traversed by torrents,
overhung by high walls of rock ; now winding amid


broken shaggy chasms, and huge fragments ; now sud-
denly emerging into some emerald valley, where the
streamlet collects itself into a Lake, and man has again
found a fair dwelling, and it seems as if Peace had
established herself in the bosom of Strength.

"To Peace, however, in this vortex of existence can
the Son of Time not pretend : still less if some Spectre
haunt him from the Past ; and the Future is wholly a
Stygian Darkness, spectre-bearing. Reasonably might
the Wanderer exclaim to himself : Are not the gates of
this world's Happiness inexorably shut against thee ;
hast thou a hope that is not mad? Nevertheless, one
may still murmur audibly, or in the original Greek if
that suit thee better : ' Whoso can look on death will
start no shadows.'

" From such meditations is the Wanderer's attention
called outwards ; for now the Valley closes-in abruptly,
intersected by a huge mountain mass, the stony water-
worn ascent of which is not to be accomplished on
horseback. Arrived aloft, he finds himself again lifted
into the evening sunset light ; and cannot but pause,
and gaze round him, some moments there. An upland
irregular expanse of wold, where valleys in complex
branchings are suddenly or slowly arranging their
descent towards every quarter of the sky. The mount-
ain-ranges are beneath your feet, and folded together:
only the loftier summits look down here and there as
on a second plain ; lakes also lie clear and earnest in
their solitude. No trace of man now visible ; unless
indeed it were he who fashioned that little visible link
of Highway, here, as would seem, scaling the inac-
cessible, to unite Province with Province. But sun-
wards, lo you { how it towers sheer up, a world of
Mountains, the diadem and centre of the mountain


region ! A hundred and a hundred savage peaks, in the
last light of Day ; all glowing, of gold and amethyst,
like giant spirits of the wilderness ; there in their
silence, in their solitude, even as on the night when
Noah's Deluge first dried ! Beautiful, nay solemn,
was the sudden aspect to our Wanderer. He gazed
over those stupendous masses with wonder, almost
with longing desire ; never till this hour had he
known Nature, that she was One, that she was his
Mother and divine. And as the ruddy glow was fad-
ing into clearness in the sky, and the Sun had now
departed, a murmur of Eternity and Immensity, of
Death and of Life, stole through his soul ; and he felt
as if Death and Life were one, as if the Earth were not
dead, as if the Spirit of the Earth had its throne in that
splendor, and his own spirit were therewith holding

"The spell was broken by a sound of carriage-
wheels. Emerging from the hidden Northward, to
"sink soon into the hidden Southward, came a gay
Barouche-and-four : it was open ; servants and pos-
tillions wore wedding-favors : that happy pair, then,
had found each other, it was their marriage evening !
Few moments brought them near : Du Himmel! It
Was Herr Towgood and Blumine ! With slight unrec-
ognizing salutation they passed me ; plunged down
amid the neighboring thickets, onwards, to Heaven,
and to England ; and I, in my friend Richter's words,
I remained alone, behind them, wilh the Night"

Were it not cruel in these circumstances, here might
be the place to insert an observation, gleaned long ago
from the great Clothes- Volume, where it stands with
quite other intent : "Some time before Small-pox was
extirpated," says the Professor, "there came a new


malady of the spiritual sort on Europe : I mean the
epidemic, now endemical, of View-hunting. Poets of
old date, being privileged with Senses, had also enjoyed
external Nature ; but chiefly as we enjoy the crystal
cup which holds good or bad liquor for us ; that is to
say, in silence, or with slight incidental commentary :
never, as I compute, till after the Sorrows of Werter,
was there man found who would say : Come let us
make a Description ! Having drunk the liquor, come
let us eat the glass ! Of which endemic the Jenner is
unhappily still to seek." Too true !

We reckon it more important to remark that the Pro-
fessor's Wanderings, so far as his stoical and cynical
envelopment admits us to clear insight, here first take
their permanent character, fatuous or not. That Basi-
lisk-glance of the Barouche-and-four seems to have
withered-up what little remnant of a purpose may have
still lurked in him : Life has become wholly a dark
labyrinth ; wherein, through long years, our Friend,
flying from spectres, has to stumble about at random,
and naturally with more haste than progress.

Foolish were it in us to attempt following him, even
from afar, in this extraordinary world-pilgrimage of
his ; the simplest record of which, were clear record
possible, would fill volumes. Hopeless is the obscu-
rity, unspeakable the confusion. He glides from country
to country, from condition to condition ; vanishing and
re-appearing, no man can calculate how or where.
Through all quarters of the world he wanders, and
apparently through all circles of society. If in any
scene, perhaps difficult to fix geographically, he settles
for a time, and forms connections, be sure he will
snap them abruptly asunder. Let him sink out of
sight as Private Scholar (Privatisirender), living by the


grace of God in some European capital, you may next
find him as Hadjee in the neighborhood of Mecca. It
is an inexplicable Phantasmagoria, capricious, quick-
changing ; as if our Traveller, instead of limbs and
highways, had transported himself by some wishing-
carpet, or Fortunatus' Hat. The whole, too, imparted
emblematically, in dim multifarious tokens (as that
collection of Street-Advertisements) ; with only some
touch of direct historical notice sparingly interspersed :
little light-islets in the world of haze ! So that, from
this point, the Professor is more of an enigma than
ever. In figurative language, we might say he be-
comes, not indeed a spirit, yet spiritualized, vaporized.
Fact unparalleled in Biography : The river of his His-
tory, which we have traced from its tiniest fountains,
and hoped to see flow onward, with increasing current,
into the ocean, here dashes itself over that terrific
Lover's Leap ; and, as a mad-foaming cataract, flies
wholly into tumultuous clouds of spray ! Low down
it indeed collects again into pools and plashes ; yet
only at a great distance, and with difficulty, if at all,
into a general stream. To cast a glance into certain
of those pools and plashes, and trace whither they run,
must, for a chapter or two, form the limit of our

For which end doubtless those direct historical
Notices, where they can be met with, are the best.
Nevertheless, of this sort too there occurs much, which,
with our present light, it were questionable to emit.
Teufelsdrockh, vibrating everywhere between the high-
est and the lowest levels, comes into contact with
public History itself. For example, those conversa-
tions and relations with illustrous Persons, as Sultan
Mahmoud, the Emperor Napoleon, and others, are they


not as yet rather of a diplomatic character than of a
biographic? The Editor, appreciating the sacredness
of crowned heads, nay perhaps suspecting the possible
trickeries of a Clothes-Philosopher, will eschew this
province for the present ; a new time may bring new
insight and a different duty.

If we ask now, not indeed with what ulterior Pur-
pose, for there was none, yet with what immediate
outlooks ; at all events, in what mood of mind, the
Professor undertook and prosecuted this world-pilgrim-
age, the answer is more distinct than favorable.
"A nameless Unrest," says he, "urged me forward;
to which the outward motion was some momentary
lying solace. Whither should I go ? My Loadstars
were blotted out ; in that canopy of grim fire shone no
star. Yet forward must I ; the ground burnt under me ;
there was no rest for the sole of my foot. I was alone,
alone ! Ever too the strong inward longing shaped
Fantasms for itself : towards these, one after the other,
must I fruitlessly wander. A feeling I had, that for my
fever-thirst there was and must be somewhere a heal-
ing Fountain. To many fondly imagined Fountains,
the Saints' Wells of these days, did I pilgrim ; to great
Men, to great Cities, to great Events : but found there
no healing. In strange countries, as in the well-known,
in savage deserts, and in the press of corrupt civiliza-
tion, it was ever the same : how could your wanderer
escape from his own Shadow /> Nevertheless still
Forward ! I felt as if in great haste ; to do I saw not
what. From the depths of my own heart, it called to
me, Forwards ! The winds and the streams, and all
Nature sounded to me, Forwards ! Ach Gott, I was
even, once for all, a Son of Time."

From which is it not clear that the internal Satanic


School was still active enough ? He says elsewhere :
" The Enchiridion of Epictetus I had ever with me, often
as my sole rational companion ; and regret to mention
that the nourishment it yielded was trifling." Thou
foolish Teufelsdrockh! How could it else? Hadst
thou not Greek enough to understand thus much : T7ie
end of Man is an action, and not a Thought, though it
were the noblest ?

" How I lived ? " writes he once : " Friend, hast thou
considered the ' rugged all-nourishing Earth,' as Soph-
ocles well names her ; how she feeds the sparrows on
the house-top, much more her darling, man ? While
thou stirrest and livest, thou hast a probability of vict-
ual. My breakfast of tea has been cooked by a Tartar
woman, with water of the Amur, who wiped her earth-
en kettle with a horse-tail. I have roasted wild-eggs
in the sand of Sahara ; I have awakened in Paris Eslra-
pades and Vienna Malzleins, with no prospect of break-
fast beyond elemental liquid. That I had my Living to
seek saved me from Dying, by suicide. In our busy
Europe, is there not an everlasting demand for Intellect,
in the chemical, mechanical, political, religious, edu-
cational, commercial departments ? In Pagan coun-
tries, cannot one write Fetiches ? Living ! Little
knowest thou what alchemy is in an inventive Soul ;
how, as with its little finger, it can create provision
enough for the body (of a Philosopher) ; and then, as
with both hands, create quite other than provision ;
namely, spectres to torment itself withal."

Poor Teufelsdrockh ! Flying with Hunger always
parallel to him ; and a whole Infernal Chase in his rear ;
so that the countenance of Hunger is comparatively a
friend's ! Thus must he, in the temper of ancient Cain,
or of the modern Wandering Jew, save only that he


feels himself not guilty and but suffering the pains of
guilt, wend to and fro with aimless speed. Thus must
he, over the whole surface of the Earth (by footprints),
write his Sorrows of Teufehdrockh ; even as the great
Goethe, in passionate words, had to write his Sorrows of
Werier, before the spirit freed herself, and he could be-
come a Man. Vain truly is the hope of your swiftest
Runner to escape " from his own Shadow ! " Never-
theless, in these sick days, when the Born of Heaven first
descries himself (about the age of twenty) in a world such
as ours, richer than usual in two things, in Truths grown
obsolete, and Trades grown obsolete, what can the
fool think but that it is all a Den of Lies, wherein whoso
will not speak Lies and act Lies, must stand idle and
despair ? Whereby it happens that, for your nobler
minds, the publishing of some such Work of Art, in one
or the other dialect, becomes almost a necessity. For
what is it properly but an Altercation with the Devil,
before you begin honestly Fighting him ? Your Byron
publishes his Sorrows of Lord George, in verse and in
prose, and copiously otherwise : your Bonaparte repre-
sents his Sorrows of Napoleon Opera, in an ail-too stu-
pendous style ; with music of cannon-volleys, and mur-
der-shrieks of a world ; his stage-lights are the fires of
Conflagration ; his rhyme and recitative are the tramp
of embattled Hosts and the sound of falling Cities.
Happier is he who, like our Clothes-Philosopher, can
write such matter, since it must be written, on the in-
sensible Earth, with his shoe-soles only ; and also
survive the writing thereof 1





UNDER the strange nebulous envelopment, wherein
our Professor has now shrouded himself, no doubt but
his spiritual nature is nevertheless progressive, and
growing : for how can the "Son of Time," in any case,
stand still ? We behold him, through those dim years,
in a state of crisis, of transition : his mad Pilgrimings,
and general solution into aimless Discontinuity, what
is all this but a mad Fermentation ; wherefrom, the
fiercer it is, the clearer product will one day evolve

Such transitions are ever full of pain : thus the Eagle
when he moults is sickly ; and, to attain his new beak,
must harshly dash-off the old one upon rocks. What
Stoicism soever our Wanderer, in his individual acts
and motions, may affect, it is clear that there is a hot
fever of anarchy and misery raging within ; corusca-
tions of which flash out : as, indeed, how could there
be other? Have we not seen him disappointed,
bemocked of Destiny, through long years ? All that the
young heart might desire and pray for has been denied ;
nay, as in the last worst instance, offered and then
snatched away. Ever an "excellent Passivity;" but
of useful, reasonable Activity essential to the former
as Food to Hunger, nothing granted : till at length, in


this wild Pilgrimage, he must forcibly seize for him-
self an Activity, though useless, unreasonable. Alas,
his cup of bitterness, which had been filling drop by
drop, ever since that first "ruddy morning" in the
Hinterschlag Gymnasium, was at the very lip ; and
then with that poison-drop, of the To wgood-and-Blumine
business, it runs over, and even hisses over in a deluge
of foam.

He himself says once, with more justice than origi-
nality : Man is, properly speaking, based upon Hope,
he has no other possession but Hope ; this world of
his is emphatically the "Place of Hope." What, then,
was our Professor's possession ? We see him, for the
present, quite shut-out from Hope ; looking not into
the golden orient, but vaguely all round into a dim
copper firmament, pregnant with earthquake and

Alas, shut-out from Hope, in a deeper sense than we
yet dream of! For, as he wanders wearisomely
through this world, he has now lost all tidings of
another and higher. Full of religion, or at least of
religiosity, as our Friend has since exhibited himself,
he hides not that, in those days, he was wholly irre-
ligious : " Doubt had darkened into Unbelief," says he ;
"shade after shade goes grimly over your soul, till you
have the fixed, starless, Tartarean black." To such
readers as have reflected, what can be called reflecting,
on man's life, and happily discovered, in contradiction
to much Profit-and-Loss Philosophy, speculative and
practical, that Soul is not synonymous with Stomach ;
who understand, therefore, in our Friend's words,
"that, for man's well-being, Faith is properly the one
thing needful ; how, with it, Martyrs, otherwise weak,
can cheerfully endure the shame and the cross ; and


without it, Worldlings puke-up their sick existence, by
suicide, in the midst of luxury : " to such it will be clear
that, for a pure moral nature, the loss of his religious
Belief was the loss of everything. Unhappy young
man ! All wounds, the crush of long-continued
Destitution, the stab of false Friendship and of false
Love, all wounds in thy so genial heart, would have
healed again, had not its life-warmth been withdrawn.
Well might he exclaim, in his wild way : "Is there
no God, then ; but at best an absentee God, sitting
idle, ever since the first Sabbath, at the outside of
his Universe, and seeing it go ? Has the word
Duty no meaning ; is what we call Duty no divine
Messenger and Guide, but a false earthly Fantasm,
made-up of Desire and Fear, of emanations from
the Gallows and from Doctor Graham's Celestial-
Bed? Happiness of an approving Conscience! Did
not Paul of Tarsus, whom admiring men have since
named Saint, feel that he was ' ' the chief of sinners ; "
and Nero of Rome, jocund in spirit (wohlgemulfi),
spend much of his time in fiddling ? Foolish Word-
monger and Motive-grinder, who in thy Logic-mill hast
an earthly mechanism for the Godlike itself, and wouldst
fain grind me out Virtue from the husks of Pleasure,
I tell thee, Nay ! To the unregenerate Prometheus
Vinctus of a man, it is ever the bitterest aggravation of
his wretchedness that he is conscious of Virtue, that he
feels himself the victim not of suffering only, but of
injustice. What then ? Is the heroic inspiration we
name Virtue but some Passion ; some bubble of the
blood, bubbling in the direction others profit by ? I
know not : only this I know, If what thou namest
Happiness be our true aim, then are we all astray.
With Stupidity and sound Digestion man 'may front


much. But what, in these dull unimaginative days,
are the terrors of Conscience to the diseases of the
Liver ! Not on Morality, but on Cookery, let us build
our .stronghold : there brandishing our frying-pan, as
censer, let us offer sweet incense to the Devil, and
live at ease on the fat things he has provided for his
Elect ! "

Thus has the bewildered Wanderer to stand, as so
many have done, shouting question after question into
the Sibyl-cave of Destiny, and receive no Answer but
an Echo. It is all a grim Desert, this once fair world
of his ; wherein is heard only the howling of wild-
beasts, or the shrieks of despairing, hate-filled men ; and
no Pillar of Cloud by day, and no Pillar of Fire by night,
any longer guides the Pilgrim. To such length has the
spirit of Inquiry carried him. "But what boots it
(was Ihufs)?" cries he : "it is but the common lot in
this era. Not having come to spiritual majority prior
to the Siecle de Louis Quinze, and not being born purely
a Loghead (Dummkop/), thou hadst no other outlook.
The whole world is, like thee, soul to Unbelief ; their
old Temples of the Godhead, which for long have not
been rainproof, crumble down ; and men ask now :
Where is the Godhead ; our eyes never saw him ? "

Pitiful enough were it, for all these wild utterances,
to call our Diogenes wicked. Unprofitable servants as
we all are, perhaps at no era of his life was he more
decisively the Servant of Goodness, the Servant of God,
than even now when doubting God's existence. "One
circumstance I note," says he : "after all the nameless
woe that Inquiry, which for me, what it is not always,
was genuine Love of Truth, had wrought me, I never-
theless still loved Truth, and would bate no jot of my
allegiance to her. ' Truth ! ' I cried, ' though the


Heavens crush me for following her : no Falsehood !
though a whole celestial Lubberland were the price of
Apostasy.' In conduct it was the same. Had a divine
Messenger from the clouds, or miraculous Handwriting
on the wall, convincingly proclaimed to me This ihou
shall do, with what passionate readiness, as I often
thought, would I have done it, had it been leaping into
the infernal Fire. Thus, in spite of all Motive-grinders,
and Mechanical Profit-and-Loss Philosophies, with the
sick ophthalmia and hallucination they had brought on,
was the Infinite nature of Duty still dimly present to
me : living without God in the world, of God's light I
was not utterly bereft ; if my as yet sealed eyes, with
their unspeakable longing, could nowhere see Him,
nevertheless in my heart He was present, and His
heaven-written Law still stood legible and sacred there. "

Meanwhile, under all these tribulations, and temporal
and spiritual destitutions, what must the Wanderer, in
his silent soul, have endured! "The painfullest feel-
ing," writes he, "is that of your own Feebleness
(Unkraft) ; ever, as the English Milton says, to be
weak is the true misery. And yet of your Strength
there is and can be no clear feeling, save by what you
have prospered in, by what you have done. Between
vague wavering Capability and fixed undubitable Per-
formance, what a difference ! A certain inarticulate
Self-consciousness dwells dimly in us ; which only our
Works can render articulate and decisively discernible.
Our Works are the mirror wherein the spirit first sees
its natural lineaments. Hence, too, the folly of that
impossible Precept, Know thyself ; till it be translated
into this partially possible one, Know what Ihou canst
work at.

"But for me, so strangely unprosperous had I been,


the net-result of my Workings amounted as yet simply
to Nothing. How then could I believe in my
Strength, when there was as yet no mirror to see it in ?
Ever did this agitating, yet, as I now perceive, quite
frivolous question, remain to me insoluble : Hast thou
a certain Faculty, a certain Worth, such even as the
most have not ; or art thou the completest Dullard of
these modern times ? Alas, the fearful Unbelief is un-
belief in yourself; and how could I believe? Had not
my first, last Faith in myself, when even to me the

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 11 of 22)