Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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to make sport for himself, or perhaps profit, were it
with murder, continues to advance ; ever assailing me
with his importunate train-oil breath ; and now has
advanced, till we stand both on the verge of the rock,
the deep Sea rippling greedily down below. What
argument will avail ? On the thick Hyperborean, cher-
ubic reasoning, seraphic eloquence were lost. Prepared
for such extremity, I, deftly enough, whisk aside one
step ; draw out, from my interior reservoirs, a sufficient
Birmingham Horse-pistol, and say, ' Be so obliging as
retire, Friend (Erziehe sich zuruck, Freund), and with
promptitude ! ' This logic even the Hyperborean un-
derstands : fast enough, with apologetic, petitionary
growl, he sidles off; and, except for suicidal as well as
homicidal purposes, need not return.

" Such I hold to be the genuine use of Gunpowder:
that it makes all men alike tall. Nay, ifthou be cooler,
cleverer than I, if thou have more Mind, though all
but no Body whatever, then canst thou kill me first, and
art the taller. Hereby, at last, is the Goliath powerless,
and the David resistless ; savage Animalism is nothing,
inventive Spiritualism is all.

"With respect to Duels, indeed, I have my own
ideas. Few things, in this so surprising world, strike
me with more surprise. Two little visual Spectra of
men, hovering with insecure enough cohesion in the
midst of the UNFATHOMABLE, and to dissolve therein, at
any rate, very soon, make pause at the distance of
twelve paces asunder ; whirl round ; and, simuUane-



ously by the cunningest mechanism, explode one
another into Dissolution ; and off-hand become Air,
and Non-extant ! Deuce on it (verdammf), the little
spitfires ! Nay, I think with old Hugo von Trim-
berg : 'God must needs laugh outright, could such a
thing be, to see his wondrous Manikins here below.' "

But amid these specialties, let us not forget the great
generality, which is our chief quest here : How pros-
pered the inner man of Teufelsdrockh under so much
outward shifting ? Does Legion still lurk in him, though
repressed; or has he exorcised that Devil's Brood?
We can answer that the symptoms continue promising.
Experience is the grand spiritual Doctor ; and with him
Teufelsdrockh has now been long a patient, swallow-
ing many a bitter bolus. Unless our poor Friend
belong to the numerous class of Incurables, which
seems not likely, some cure will doubtless be effected.
We should rather say that Legion, or the Satanic School,
was now pretty well extirpated and cast out, but next
to nothing introduced in its room ; whereby the heart
remains, for the while, in a quiet but no comfortable

"At length, after so much roasting," thus writes our
Autobiographer, " I was what you might name cal-
cined. Pray only that it be not rather, as is the more
frequent issue, reduced to a caput-mortuum ! But in
any case, by mere dint of practice, I had grown familiar
with many things. Wretchedness was still wretched ;
but I could now partly see through it, and despise it.
Which highest mortal, in this inane Existence, had I
not found a Shadow-hunter, or Shadow-hunted ; and,
when I looked through his brave garnitures, miserable
enough? Thy wishes have all been sniffed aside,


thought I : but what, had they even been all granted !
Did not the Boy Alexander weep because he had not
two Planets to conquer ; or a whole Solar System ; or
after that, a whole Universe? Ach Gott, when I gazed
into these Stars, have they not looked-down on me as
if with pity, from their serene spaces ; like Eyes glisten-
ing with heavenly tears over the little lot of man !
Thousands of human generations, all as noisy as our
own, have been swallowed-up of Time, and there
remains no wreck of them any more ; and Arcturus
and Orion and Sirius and the Pleiades are still shining
in their courses, clear and young, as when the Shepherd
first noted them in the plain of Shinar. Pshaw ! what
is this paltry little Dog-cage of an Earth ; what art
thou that sittest whining there ? Thou art still Noth-
ing, Nobody ? true ; but who, then, is Something,
Somebody ? For thee the Family of Man has no use ;
it rejects thee ; thou art wholly as a dissevered limb :
so be it ; perhaps it is better so ! "

Too-heavy-laden Teufelsdrockh ! Yet surely his
bands are loosening ; one day he will hurl the burden
far from him, and bound forth free and with a second

"This," says our Professor, "was the CENTRE OF
INDIFFERENCE I had now reached ; through which whoso
travels from the Negative Pole to the Positive must
necessarily pass."

SA&TO& &ESAATU& 1 8 1



" TEMPTATIONS in the Wilderness ! " exclaims Teufels-
drockh : "Have we not all to be tried with such?
Not so easily can the old Adam, lodged in us by birth,
be dispossessed. Our Life is compassed round with
Necessity ; yet is the meaning of Life itself no other than
Freedom, than Voluntary Force : thus have we a war-
fare ; in the beginning, especially, a hard-fought battle.
For the God-given mandate, Work ihou in Welldoing,
lies mysteriously written, in Promethean Prophetic
Characters, in our hearts ; and leaves us no rest, night
or day, till it be deciphered and obeyed ; till it burn
forth, in our conduct, a visible, acted Gospel of Free-
dom. And as the clay-given mandate, Eat Ihou and
be filled, at the same time persuasively proclaims itself
through every nerve, must not there be a confusion,
a contest, before the better Influence can become the
upper ?

" To me nothing seems more natural than that the
Son of Man, when such God-given mandate first pro-
phetically stirs within him, and the Clay must now be
vanquished or vanquish, should be carried of the
spirit into grim Solitudes, and there fronting the Temp-
ter do grimmest battle with him ; defiantly setting him
at naught, till he yield and fly. Name it as we choose :


with or without visible Devil, whether in the natural
Desert of rocks and sands, or in the populous moral
Desert of selfishness and baseness, to such Tempta-
tion are we all called. Unhappy if we are not ! Un-
happy if we are but Half-men, in whom that divine
handwriting has never blazed forth, all-subduing, in
true sun-splendor; but quivers dubiously amid meaner
lights : or smoulders, in dull pain, in darkness, under
earthly vapors ! Our Wilderness is the wide World in
an Atheistic Century ; our Forty Days are long years
of suffering and fasting : nevertheless, to these also
comes an end. Yes, to me also was given, if not
Victory, yet the consciousness of Battle, andthe resolve
to persevere therein while life or faculty is left. To
me also, entangled in the enchanting forests, demon-
peopled, doleful of sight and of sound, it was given,
after weariest wanderings, to work out my way into
the higher sunlit slopes of that Mountain which has
no summit, or whose summit is in Heaven only ! "

He says elsewhere, under a less ambitious figure ;
as figures are, once for all, natural to him : " Has not
thy Life been that of most sufficient men (tuchtigen
Manner) thou hast known in this generation ? An
outflush of foolish young Enthusiasm, like the first
fallow-crop, wherein are as many weeds as valuable
herbs : this all parched away, under the Droughts of
practical and spiritual Unbelief, as Disappointment,
in thought and act, often-repeated gave rise to Doubt,
and Doubt gradually settled into Denial ! If I have
had a second-crop, and now see the perennial green-
sward, and sit under umbrageous cedars, which defy
all Drought (and Doubt) ; herein too, be the Heavens
praised, I am not without examples, and even exem-


So that, for Teufelsdrockh also, there has been a
"glorious revolution:" these mad shadow-hunting
and shadow-hunted Pilgrimings of his were but some
purifying "Temptation in the Wilderness," before his
apostolic work (such as it was) could begin ; which
Temptation is now happily over, and the Devil once
more worsted ! Was ' ' that high moment in the Rue
de f Enfer" then, properly the turning-point of the
battle ; when the Fiend said, Worship me or be torn in
shreds ; and was answered valiantly with an Apage
Satana ? Singular Teufelsdrockh, would thou hadst
told thy singular story in plain words ! But it is fruit-
less to look there, in those Paper-bags, for such. Noth-
ing but innuendoes, figurative crotchets : a typical
Shadow, fitfully wavering, prophetico-satiric ; no clear
logical Picture. " How paint to the sensual eye," asks
he once, "what passes in the Holy-of-Holies of Man's
Soul ; in what words, known to these profane times,
speak even afar-off of the unspeakable? We ask in
turn : Why perplex these times, profane as they are,
with needless obscurity by omission and by commis-
sion ? Not mystical only is our Professor, but whimsi-
cal ; and involves himself, now more than ever, in
eye-bewildering chiaroscuro. Successive glimpses,
here faithfully imparted, our more gifted readers must
endeavor to combine for their own behoof.

He says: "The hot Harmattan wind had raged
itself out ; its howl went silent within me ; and the
long-deafened soul could now hear. I paused in my
wild wanderings ; and sat me down to wait, and con-
sider ; for it was as if the hour of change drew nigh.
I seemed to surrender, to renounce utterly, and say :
Fly, then, false shadows of Hope ; I will chase you no
more, I will believe you no more. And ye too, hag-


gard spectres of Fear, I care not for you ; ye too are
all shadows and a lie. Let me rest here : for I am
way-weary and life-weary ; I will rest here, were it but
to die : to die or to live is alike to me ; alike insignifi-
cant." And again: "Here, then, as I lay in that
CENTRE OF INDIFFERENCE ; cast, doubtless by benignant
upper Influence, into a healing sleep, the heavy dreams
rolled gradually away, and I woke to a new Heaven
and a new Earth. The first preliminary moral Act,
Annihilation of Self (Selbst-todtung), had been happily
accomplished ; and my mind's eyes were now unsealed,
and its hands ungyved."

Might we not also conjecture that the following
passage refers to his Locality, during this same ' ' heal-
ing sleep ; " that his Pilgrim-staff lies cast aside here,
on "the high table-land ; " and indeed that the repose
is already taking wholesome effect on him ? If it were
not that the tone, in some parts, has more of riancy,
even of levity, than we could have expected ! How-
ever, in Teufelsdrockh, there is always the strangest
Dualism : light dancing, with guitar-music, will be
going on in the fore-court, while by fits from within
comes the faint whimpering of woe and wail. We
transcribe the piece entire.

" Beautiful it was to sit there, as in my skyey Tent,
musing and meditating ; on the high table-land, in front
of the Mountains ; over me, as roof, the azure Dome,
and around me, for walls, four azure-flowing curtains,
namely, of the Four azure Winds, on whose bottom-
fringes also I have seen gilding. And then to fancy
the fair Castles that stood sheltered in these Mountain
hollows ; with their green flower-lawns, and white
dames and damosels, lovely enough : or better still,
the straw-roofed Cottages, wherein stood many a


Mother baking bread, with her children round her :
all hidden and protectingly folded-up in the valley-folds ;
yet there and alive, as sure as if I beheld them. Or to
see, as well as fancy, the nine Towns and Villages, that
lay round my mountain -seat, which, in still weather,
were wont to speak to me (by their steeple-bells) with
metal tongue ; and, in almost all weather, proclaimed
their vitality by repeated Smoke-clouds ; whereon, as
on a culinary horologe, I might read the hour of the day.
For it was the smoke of cookery, as kind housewives
at morning, midday, eventide, were boiling their hus-
bands' kettles ; and ever a blue pillar rose up into the
air, successively or simultaneously, from each of the
nine, saying, as plainly as smoke could say : Such and
such a meal is getting ready here. Not uninteresting !
For you have the whole Borough, with all its love-
makings and scandal-mongeries, contentions and con-
tentments, as in miniature, and could cover it all with
your hat. If, in my wide Wayfarings, I had learned to
look into the business of the World in its details, here
perhaps was the place for combining it into general
propositions, and deducing inferences therefrom.

"Often also could I see the black Tempest marching
in anger through the Distance : round some Schreck-
horn, as yet grim-blue, would the eddying vapor gather,
and there tumultuously eddy, and flow down like a
mad witch's hair ; till, after a space, it vanished, and,
in the clear sunbeam, your Schreckhorn stood smiling
grim-white, for the vapor had held snow. How thou
fermentest and elaboratest, in thy great fermenting-vat
and laboratory of an Atmosphere, of a World, O Nature !
Or what is Nature? Ha ! why do I not name thee
GOD ? Art not thou the ' Living Garment of God ' ? O
Heavens, is it, in very deed, HE, then, that ever speaks


through thee ; that lives and loves in thee, that lives
and loves in me?

" Fore-shadows, call them rather fore-splendors, of
that Truth, and Beginning of Truths, fell mysteriously
over my soul. Sweeter than Dayspring to the Ship-
wrecked in Nova Zembla ; ah, like the mother's voice
to her little child that strays bewildered, weeping, in
unknown tumults ; like soft streamings of celestial
music to my too-exasperated heart, came that Evangel.
The Universe is not dead and demoniacal, a charnel-
house with spectres ; but god-like, and my Father's !

"With other eyes, too, could I now look upon my
fellow-man : with an infinite Love, an infinite Pity-
Poor, wandering, wayward man ! Art thou not tried,
and beaten with stripes, even as I am ? Ever, whether
thou bear the royal mantle or the beggar's gabardine,
art thou not so weary, so heavy-laden ; and thy Bed
of Rest is but a Grave. O my Brother, my Brother,
why cannot I shelter thee in my bosom, and wipe away
all tears from thine eyes ! truly, the din of many-
voiced Life, which, in this solitude, with the mind's
organ, I could hear, was no longer a maddening dis-
cord, but a melting one ; like inarticulate cries, and
sobbings of a dumb creature, which in the ear of
Heaven are prayers. The poor Earth, with her poor
joys, was now my needy Mother, not my cruel Step-
dame ; Man, with his so mad Wants and so mean En-
deavors, had become the dearer to me ; and even for his
sufferings and his sins, I now first named him Brother.
Thus was I standing in the porch of that ' Sanctuary of
Sorrow ; ' by strange, steep ways had I too been guided
thither ; and ere long its sacred gates would open, and
the ' Divine Depth of Sorrow ' lie disclosed to me. "

The Professor says, he here first got eye on the Knot


that had been strangling him, and straightway could
unfasten it, and was free. "A vain interminable con-
troversy," writes he, "touching what is at present
called Origin of Evil, or some such thing, arises in every
soul, since the beginning of the world ; and in every
soul, that would pass from idle Suffering into actual
Endeavoring, must first be put an end to. The most,
in our time, have to go content with a simple, incom-
plete enough Suppression of this controversy ; to a few
some Solution of it is indispensable. In every new era,
too, such Solution comes-out in different terms ; and
ever the Solution of the last era has become obsolete,
and is found unserviceable. For it is man's nature
to change his Dialect from century to century ; he can-
not help it though he would. The authentic Church-
Catechism of our present century has not yet fallen into
my hands : meanwhile, for my own private behoof, I
attempt to elucidate the matter so. Man's Unhap-
piness, as I construe, comes of his Greatness ; it is
because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his
cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite. Will
the whole Finance Ministers and Upholsterers and
Confectioners of modern Europe undertake, in joint-
stock company, to make one Shoeblack HAPPY? They
cannot accomplish it, above an hour or two : for the
Shoeblack also has a Soul quite other than his Stomach ;
and would require, if you consider it, for his permanent
satisfaction and saturation, simply this allotment, no
more, and no less ; God's infinite Universe altogether to
himself, therein to enjoy infinitely, and fill every wish
as fast as it rose. Oceans of Hochheimer, a Throat
like that of Ophiuchus : speak not of them ; to the in-
finite Shoeblack they are as nothing. No sooner is
your ocean filled, than he grumbles that it might have


been of better vintage. Try him with half of a Universe,
of an Omnipotence, he sets to quarreling with the pro-
prietor of the other half, and declares himself the most
maltreated of men. Always there is a black spot in
our sunshine : it is even, as I said, the Shadow of Our-

"But the whim we have of Happiness is somewhat
thus. By certain valuations, and averages, of our own
striking, we come upon some sort of average terrestrial
lot ; this we fancy belongs to us by nature, and of in-
defeasible right. It is simple payment of our wages,
of our deserts ; requires neither thanks nor complaint ;
only such overplus as there may be do we account Hap-
piness ; any deficit again is Misery. Now consider
that we have the valuation of our own deserts ourselves,
and what a fund of Self-conceit there is in each of us,
do you wonder that the balance should so often dip
the wrong way, and many a Blockhead cry : See there,
what a payment ; was ever worthy gentleman so used !
I tell thee, Blockhead, it all comes of thy Vanity ; of
what thou fanciest those same deserts of thine to be.
Fancy that thou deservest to be hanged (as is most
likely), thou wilt feel it happiness to be only shot :
fancy that thou deservest to be hanged in a hair-halter,
it will be a luxury to die in hemp.

" So true is it, what I then said, that the Fraction of
Life can be increased in value not so much by increasing
your Numerator as by lessening your Denominator. Nay,
unless' my Algebra deceive me, Unity itself divided by
Zero will give Infinity. Make thy claim of wages a zero,
then ; thou hast the world under thy feet. Well did
the Wisest of our time write : ' It is only with Renun-
ciation (Entsagen) that Life, properly speaking, can be
said to begin.'


" I asked myself : What is this that, ever since earliest
years, them hast been fretting and fuming, and lament-
ing and self-tormenting, on account of? Say it in a
word : is it not because thou art not HAPPY? Because
the THOU (sweet gentleman) is not sufficiently honored,
nourished, soft-bedded, and lovingly cared-for ? Fool-
ish soul ! What Act of Legislature was there that thou
shouldst be Happy? A little while ago thou hadst no
right to be at all. What if thou wert born and predes-
tined not to be happy, but to be Unhappy ! Art thou
nothing other than a Vulture, then, that fliest through
the Universe seeking after somewhat to eat ; and shriek-
ing dolefully because carrion enough is not given thee?
Close thy By ron ; open thy Goethe."

" Es leuchtet mir em, I see a glimpse of it ! " cries he
elsewhere: "there is in man a HIGHER than Love of
Happiness : he can do without Happiness, and instead
thereof find Blessedness ! Was it not to preach- forth this
same HIGHER that sages and martyrs, the Poet and the
Priest, in all times, have spoken and suffered ; bearing
testimony,, through life and through death, of the God-
like that is in Man, and how in the Godlike only has he
Strength and Freedom ? Which God-inspired Poctrine
art thou also honored to be taught ; O Heavens ! and
broken with manifold merciful Afflictions, even till thou
become contrite, and learn it ! O, thank thy Destiny
for these ; thankfully bear what yet remain : thou hadst
need of them ; the Self in thee needed to be annihilated.
By benignant fever-paroxysms is Life rooting out the
deep-seated chronic Disease, and triumphs over Death.
On the roaring billows of Time, thou art not ingulfed,
but borne aloft into the azure of Eternity. Love not
Pleasure; love God. This is the EVERLASTING YEA ;
wherein all contradiction is solved : wherein whoso
walks and works, it is well with him,"



And again : "Small is it that thou canst trample the
Earth with its injuries under thy feet, as old Greek
Zeno trained thee : thou canst love the Earth while it
injures thee, and even because it injures thee ; for this
a Greater than Zeno was needed, and he too was sent
Knowest thou that ' Worship of Sorrow ' f The Temple
thereof, founded some eighteen centuries ago, now
lies in ruins, overgrown with jungle, the habitation of
doleful creatures : nevertheless, venture forward ; in a
low crypt, arched out of falling fragments, thou findest
the Altar still there, and its sacred Lamp perennially

Without pretending to comment on which strange
utterances, the Editor will only remark, that there lies
beside them much of a still more questionable character ;
unsuited to the general apprehension ; nay wherein he
himself does not see his way. Nebulous disquisitions
on Religion, yet not without bursts of splendor ; on the
" perennial continuance of Inspiration ; " on Prophecy ;
that there are " true Priests, as well as Baal-Priests, in
our own day : " with more of the like sort. We select
some fractions, by way of finish to this farrago.

" Cease, my much-respected Herr von Voltaire, " thus
apostrophizes the Professor: "shut thy sweet voice;
for the task appointed thee seems finished. Sufficiently
hast thou demonstrated this proposition, considerable
or otherwise : That the My thus of the Christian Religion
looks not in the eighteenth century as it did in the
eighth. Alas, were thy six-and-thirty quartos, and the
six-and-thirty thousand other quartos and folios, and
flying sheets or reams, printed before and since on the
same subject, all needed to convince us of so little !
But what next ? Wilt thou help us to embody the
divine Spirit of that Religion in a new Mythus, in a


new vehicle and vesture, that our Souls, otherwise too
like p'erishing, may live ? What ! thou hast no faculty
in that kind? Only a torch for burning, no hammer

for building ? Take our thanks, then, and thyself


"Meanwhile what are antiquated Mythuses to me?
Or is the God present, felt in my own heart, a thing
which Herr von Voltaire will dispute out of me ; or
dispute into me ? To the ' Worship of Sorrow ' ascribe
what origin and genesis thou pleasest, has not that
Worship originated, and been generated ; is it not here?
Feel it in thy heart, and then say whether it is of God !
This is Belief ; all else is Opinion, for which latter
whoso will, let him worry and be worried."

"Neither," observes he elsewhere, "shall ye tear-
out one another's eyes, struggling over ' Plenary In-
spiration/ and suchlike : try rather to get a little even
Partial Inspiration, each of you for himself. One BIBLE
I know, of whose Plenary Inspiration doubt is not so
much as possible ; nay with my own eyes I saw the
God's-Hand writing it : thereof all other Bibles are but
Leaves, say, in Picture- Writing to assist the weaker

Or, to give the wearied reader relief, and bring it to
an end, let him take the following perhaps more intel-
ligible passage :

" To me in this our life, " says the Professor, ' ' which is
an internecine warfare with the Time-spirit, other war-
fare seems questionable. Hast thou in any way a Con-
tention with thy brother, I advise thee, think well what
the meaning thereof is. If thou gauge it to the bottom,
it is simply this : ' Fellow, see ! thou art taking more
than thy share of Happiness in the world, something
from my share, which, by the Heavens, thou shalt


not; nay I will fight thee rather.' Alas, and the whole
lot to be divided is such a beggarly matter, truly a
'feast of shells,' for the substance has been spilled
out : not enough to quench one Appetite ; and the col-
lective human species clutching at them ! Can we not,
in all such cases, rather say : ' Take it, thou too-raven-
ous individual : take that pitiful additional fraction of a
share, which I reckoned mine, but which thou so want-
est : take it with a blessing : would to Heaven I had

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 13 of 22)