Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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enough for thee ! ' If Fidite's Wissenschaftslehre be,
'to a certain extent, Applied Christianity,' surely to a
still greater extent, so is this. We have here not a
Whole Duty of Man, yet a Half Duty, namely the Pas-
sive half: could we but do it, as we can demonstrate
it !

"But indeed Conviction, were it never so excellent,
is worthless till it convert itself into Conduct. Nay
properly Conviction is not possible till then ; inasmuch
as all Speculation is by nature endless, formless, a vor-
tex amid vortices : only by a felt indubitable certainty
of Experience does it find any centre to revolve round,
and so fashion itself into a system. Most true is it, as
a wise man teaches us, that ' Doubt of any sort cannot
be removed except by Action. ' On which ground, too,
let him who gropes painfully in darkness or uncertain
light, and prays vehemently that the dawn may ripen
into day, lay this other precept well to heart, which to
me was of invaluable service : ' Do the Duty which lies
nearest thee,' which thou kno west to be a Duty ! Thy
second Duty will already have become clearer.

" May we not say, however, that the hour of Spiritual
Enfranchisement is even this : When your Ideal World,
wherein the whole man has been dimly struggling
inexpressibly languishing to work, becomes revealed,



and thrown open ; and you discover, with amazement
enough, like the Lothario in Wilhelm Meister, that your
' America is here or nowhere ' ? The Situation that has
not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet occupied by man.
Yes here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable
Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or no-
where is thy Ideal : work it out therefrom ; and work-
ing, believe, live, be free. Fool ! the Ideal is in thy-
self, the impediment too is in thyself : thy Condition
is but the stuff thou art to shape that same Ideal out
of : what matters whether such stuff be of this sort or
that, so the Form thou give it be heroic, be poetic ? O
thou that pinest in the imprisonment of the Actual, and
criest bitterly to the gods of a kingdom wherein to rule
and create, know this of a truth : the thing thou seek-
est is already with thee, 'here or nowhere,' couldst
thou only see !

' ' But it is with man's Soul as it was with Nature :
the beginning of Creation is Light. Till the eye have
vision, the whole members are in bonds. Divine mo-
ment, when over the tempest-tost Soul, as once over
the wild-weltering Chaos, it is spoken : Let there be
Light ! Ever to the greatest that has felt such moment
is it not miraculous and God-announcing ; even as,
under simpler figures, to the simplest and least. The
mad primeval Discord is hushed ; the rudely-jumbled
conflicting elements bind themselves into separate
Firmaments : deep silent rock foundations are built
beneath ; and the skyey vault with its everlasting Lumi-
naries above : instead of a dark wasteful Chaos, we
have a blooming, fertile, heaven-encompassed World.

"I too could now say to myself: Be no longer a
Chaos, but a World, or even Worldkin. Produce ! Pro-
duce ! Were it but the pitifullest, infinitesimal fraction


of a Product, produce it, in God's name ! Tis the
utmost thou hast in thee : out with it, then. Up, up !
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy
whole might. Work while it is called To-day ; for the
Night cometh, wherein no man can work."




THUS have we, as closely and perhaps satisfactorily
as, in such circumstances, might be, followed Teu-
felsdrockh through the various successive states and
stages of Growth, Entanglement, Unbelief, and almost
Reprobation, into a certain clearer state of what he
himself seems to consider as Conversion. ' ' Blame not
the word," says he ; " rejoice rather that such a word,
signifying such a thing, has come to light in our modern
Era, though hidden from the wisest Ancients. The Old
World knew nothing of Conversion ; instead of an Ecce
Homo, they had only some Choice of Hercules. It was
a new-attained progress in the Moral Development of
man : hereby has the Highest come home to the
bosoms of the most Limited ; what to Plato was but a
hallucination, and to Socrates a chimera, is now clear
and certain to your Zinzendorfs, your Wesleys, and
the poorest of their Pietists and Methodists."

It is here, then, that the spiritual majority of Teu-
felsdrockh commences : we are henceforth to see him
" work in well-doing," with the spirit and clear aims of
a Man. He has discovered that the Ideal Workshop
he so panted for is even this same Actual ill-furnished
Workshop he has so long been stumbling in. He can
say to himself : ' ' Tools ? Thou hast no Tools ? Why.


there is not a Man, or a Thing, now alive but has tools.
The basest of created animalcules, the Spider itself, has
a spinning-jenny, and warping-mill, and power-loom
within its head : the stupidest of Oysters has a Papin's-
Digester, with stone-and-lime house to hold it in :
every being that can live can do something : this let
him do. Tools? Hast thou not a Brain, furnished,
furnishable with some glimmerings of Light ; and
three fingers to hold a Pen withal? Never since
Aaron's Rod went out of practice, or even before it,
was there such a wonder-working Tool : greater than
all recorded miracles have been performed by Pens.
For strangely in this so solid-seeming World, which
nevertheless is in continual restless flux, it is appointed
that Sound, to appearance the most fleeting, should be
the most continuing of all things. The WORLD is well
said to be omnipotent in this world ; man, thereby di-
vine, can create as by a Fiat. Awake, arise ! Speak
forth what is in thee ; what God has given thee, what
the Devil shall not take away. Higher task than that
of Priesthood was allotted to no man : wert thou but
the meanest in that sacred Hierarchy, is it not honor
enough therein to spend and be spent?

"By this Art, which whoso will may sacrilegiously
degrade into a handicraft," adds Teufelsdrockh, "have
I thenceforth abidden. Writings of mine, not indeed
known as mine (for what am / />), have fallen, perhaps
not altogether void, into the mighty seed-field of Opin-
ion ; fruits of my unseen sowing, gratifyingly meet me
here and there. I thank the Heavens that I have now
found my Calling ; wherein, with or without percepti-
ble result, I am minded diligently to persevere.

"Nay how knowest thou," cries he, "but this and
the other pregnant Device, now grown to be a world-


renowned far-working Institution ; like a grain of right
mustard-seed once cast into the right soil, and now
stretching-out strong boughs to the four winds, for the
birds of the air to lodge in, may have been properly
my doing ? Some one's doing, it without doubt was ;
from some Idea, in some single Head, it did first of all
take beginning : why not from some Idea in mine? "
Does Teufelsdrockh here glance at that "SOCIETY FOR
THE CONSERVATION OF PROPERTY {Eigenthums-conservirende
Gesellscha/f)," of which so many ambiguous notices
glide spectre-like through these inexpressible Paper-
bags ? "An Institution," hints he, " not unsuitable to
the wants of the time ; as indeed such sudden extension
proves : for already can the Society number, among its
office-bearers or corresponding members, the highest
Names, if not the highest Persons, in Germany, Eng-
land, France ; and contributions, both of money and
of meditation, pour in from all quarters ; to, if possible,
enlist the remaining Integrity of the world, and, defen-
sively and with forethought, marshal it round this
Palladium." Does Teufelsdrockh mean, then, to give
himself out as the originator of that so notable Eigen-
thums-conservirende (" Owndom-conserving") Gesell-
schaft; and if so, what, in the Devil's name, is it ? He
again hints : " At a time when the divine Command-
ment, Thou shall not steal, wherein truly, if well under-
stood, is comprised the whole Hebrew Decalogue, with
Solon's and Lycurgus's Constitutions ; Justinian's Pan-
dects, the Code Napoleon, and all Codes, Catechisms,
Divinities, Moralities whatsoever, that man has hitherto
devised (and enforced with Altar-fire and Gallows-ropes)
for his social guidance : at a time, I say, when this di-
vine Commandment has ail-but faded away from the
general remembrance ; and, with little disguise, a new


opposite Commandment, Thou shaft steal, is everywhere
promulgated, it perhaps behooved, in this universal
dotage and deliration, the sound portion of mankind to
bestir themselves and rally. When the widest and
wildest violations of that divine right of Property, the
only divine right now extant or conceivable, are sanc-
tioned and recommended by a vicious Press, and the
world has lived to hear it asserted that we have no Prop-
erty in our very Bodies, but only an accidental Posses-
sion and Life-rent, what is the issue to be looked for ?
Hangmen and Catchpoles may, by their noose-gins
and baited fall-traps, keep down the smaller sort of ver-
min ; but what, except perhaps some such Universal
Association, can protect us against whole meat-devour-
ing, and man-devouring hosts of Boa-constrictors ? If,
therefore, the more sequestered Thinker have won-
dered, in his privacy, from what hand that perhaps
not ill-written Program in the Public Journals, with its
high Prize-Questions and so liberal Prizes, could have
proceeded, let him now cease such wonder ; and,
with undivided faculty, betake himself to the Concur-
renz (Competition)."

We ask: Has this same "perhaps not ill-written
Program," or any other authentic Transaction of that
Property-conserving Society, fallen under the eye of
the British Reader, in any Journal foreign or domes-
tic ? If so, what are those Prize-Questions; what are
the terms of Competition, and when and where ? No
printed Newspaper-leaf, no farther light of any sort, to
be met with in these Paper-bags ! Or is the whole
business one other of those whimsicalities and perverse
inexplicabilities, whereby HerrTeufelsdrockh, meaning
much or nothing, is pleased so often to play fast-and-
loose with us ?



Here, indeed, at length, must the Editor give utter-
ance to a painful suspicion, which, through late
Chapters, has begun to haunt him ; paralyzing any little
enthusiasm that might still have rendered his thorny
Biographical task a labor of love. It is a suspicion
grounded perhaps on trifles, yet confirmed almost into
certainty by the more and more discernible humoristico-
satirical tendency .of Teufelsdrockh, in whom under-
ground humors and intricate sardonic rogueries, wheel
within wheel, defy all reckoning : a suspicion, in one
word, that these Autobiographical Documents are
partly a mystification ! What if many so-called Fact
were little better than a Fiction ; if here we had no
direct Camera-obscura Picture of the Professor's History ;
but only some more or less fantastic Adumbration,
symbolically, perhaps significantly enough, shadowing-
forth the same ! Our theory begins to be that, in
receiving as literally authentic what was but hieroglyphi-
cally so, Hofrath Heuschrecke, whom in that case we
scruple not to name Hofrath Nose-of-Wax, was made
a fool of, and set adrift to make fools of others. Could
it be expected, indeed, that a man so known for impene-
trable reticence as Teufelsdrockh, would all at once
frankly unlock his private citadel to an English Editor
and a German Hofrath ; and not rather deceptively in-
lock both Editor and Hofrath in the labyrinthic tortu-
osities and covered-ways of said citadel (having enticed
them thither), to see, in his half-devilish way, how the
fools would look ?

Of one fool, however, the Heir Professor will per-
haps find himself short. On a small slip, formerly
thrown aside as blank, the ink being ail-but invisible,
we lately notice, and with effort decipher, the follow-
ing : "What are your historical Facts ; still more your


biographical? Wilt thou know a Man, above all a
Mankind, by stringing-together beadrolls of what thou
namest Facts ? The Man is the spirit he worked in ;
not what he did, but what he became. Facts are en-
graved Hierograms, for which the fewest have the key.
And then how your Blockhead (Dummkopf) studies
not their Meaning ; but simply whether they are well
or ill cut, what he calls Moral or Immoral ! Still worse
is it with your Bungler (P/uscher) : such I have seen
reading some Rousseau, with pretences of interpreta-
tion ; and mistaking the ill-cut Serpent-of-Eternity for
a common poisonous reptile." Was the Professor ap-
prehensive lest an Editor, selected as the present boasts
himself, might mistake the Teufelsdrockh Serpent-of-
Eternity in like manner ? For which reason it was to be
altered, not without underhand satire, into a plainer
Symbol ? Or is this merely one of his half-sophisms,
half-truisms, which if he can but set on the back of a
Figure, he cares not whither it gallop ? We say not
with certainty ; and indeed, so strange is the Professor,
can never say. If our suspicion be wholly unfounded,
let his own questionable ways, not our necessary cir-
cumspectness, bear the blame.

But be this as it will, the somewhat exasperated and
indeed exhausted Editor determines here to shut these
Paper-bags for the present. Let it suffice that we know
of Teufelsdrockh, so far, if " not what he did, yet what
he became : " the rather, as his character has now taken
its ultimate bent, and no new revolution, of importance,
is to be looked for. The imprisoned Chrysalis is now a
winged Psyche : and such, wheresoever be its flight, it
will continue. To trace by what complex gyrations
(flights or involuntary waftings) through the mere ex-
ternal Life element, Teufelsdrockh reaches his Univer-


sity Professorship, and the Psyche clothes herself in
civic Titles, without altering her now fixed nature,
would be comparatively an unproductive task, were
we even unsuspicious of its being-, for us at least, a
false and impossible one. His outward Biography,
therefore, which, at the Blumine Lover's-Leap, we saw
churned utterly into spray-vapor, may hover in that
condition, for aught that concerns us here. Enough
that by survey of certain "pools and plashes," we have
ascertained its general direction ; do we not already
know that, by one way and other, it has long since
rained-down again into a stream ; and even now, at
Weissnichtwo, flows deep and still, fraught with the
Philosophy of Clothes, and visible to whoso will cast eye
thereon ? Over much invaluable matter, that lies scat-
tered, likejewels among quarry-rubbish, in those Paper-
catacombs, we may have occasion to glance back, and
somewhat will demand insertion at the right place :
meanwhile be our tiresome diggings therein suspended.

If now, before reopening the great Clothes- Volume,
we ask what our degree of progress, during these Ten
Chapters, has been, towards right understanding of the
Clothes-Philosophy, let not our discouragement be-
come total. To speak in that old figure of the Hell-
gate Bridge over Chaos, a few flying pontoons have
perhaps been added, though as yet they drift straggling
on the Flood ; how far they will reach, when once the
chains are straightened and fastened, can, at present,
only be matter of conjecture.

So much we already calculate : Through many a
little loop-hole, we have had glimpses into the internal
world of Teufelsdrockh ; his strange mystic, almost
magic Diagram of the Universe, and how it was
gradually drawn, is not henceforth altogether dark to


us. Those mysterious ideas on TIME, which merit
consideration, and are not wholly unintelligible with
such, may by and by prove significant. Still more may
his somewhat peculiar view of Nature, the decisive
Oneness he ascribes to Nature. How all Nature and
Life are but one Garment, a "Living Garment," woven
and ever aweaving in the "Loom of Time;" is not
here, indeed, the outline of a whole Clothes-Philosophy ;
at least the arena it is to work in ? Remark, too, that
the Character of the Man, nowise without meaning in
such a matter, becomes less enigmatic : amid so much
tumultuous obscurity, almost like diluted madness, do
not a certain indomitable Defiance and yet a boundless
Reverence seem to loom forth, as the two mountain-
summits, on whose rock-strata all the rest were based
and built ?

Nay further, may we not say that Teufelsdrockh's
Biography, allowing it even, as suspected, only a
hieroglyphical truth, exhibits a man, as it were pre-
appointed for Clothes- Philosophy ? To look through
the Shows of things into Things themselves he is led
and compelled. The "Passivity" given him by birth
is fostered by all turns of his fortune. Everywhere
cast out, like oil out of water, from mingling in any
Employment, in any public Communion, he has no
portion but Solitude, and a life of Meditation. The
whole energy of his existence is directed, through long
years, on one task : that of enduring pain, if he cannot
cure it. Thus everywhere do the Shows of things
oppress him, withstand him, threaten him with fear-
fullest destruction : only by victoriously penetrating
into Things themsel" 2s can he find peace and a strong-
hold. But is not this same locking-through the Shows,
or Vestures, into the Things, even the first preliminary



to a Philosophy of Clothes > Do we not, in all this,
discern some beckonings towards the true higher pur-
port of such a Philosophy ; and what shape it must
assume with such a man, in such an era ?

Perhaps in entering on Book Third, the courteous
Reader is not utterly without guess whither he is
bound : nor, let us hope, for all the fantastic Dream-
Grottoes through which, as is our lot with Teufels-
drbckh, he must wander, will there be wanting between
whiles some twinkling of a steady Polar Star.





As a wonder-loving and wonder-seeking man, Teu-
felsdrockh, from an early part of this Clothes-Volume,
has more and more exhibited himself. Striking it was,
amid all his perverse cloudiness, with what force of
vision and of heart he pierced into the mystery of the
World ; recognizing in the highest sensible phenomena,
so far as Sense went, only fresh or faded Raiment ; yet
ever, under this, a celestial Essence thereby rendered
visible : and while, on the one hand, he trod the old
rags of Matter, with their tinsels, into the mire, he on
the other everywhere exalted Spirit above all earthly
principalities and powers, and worshipped it, though
under the meanest shapes, with a true Platonic mystic-
ism. What the man ultimately purposed by thus cast-
ing his Greek-fire into the general Wardrobe of the
Universe ; what such, more or less complete, rending
and burning of Garments, throughout the whole com-
pass of Civilized Life and Speculation, should lead to ;
the rather as he was no Adamite, in any sense, and
could not, like Rousseau, recommend either bodily or
intellectual Nudity, and a return to the savage state : all


this our readers are now bent to discover ; this is, in
fact, properly the gist and purport of Professor Teufels-
drockh's Philosophy of Clothes.

Be it remembered, however, that such purport is
here not so much evolved, as detected to lie ready for
evolving. We are to guide our British Friends into the
new Gold-country, and show them the mines ; nowise
to dig-out and exhaust its wealth, which indeed remains
for all time inexhaustible. Once there, let each dig for
his own behoof, and enrich himself.

Neither, in so capricious inexpressible a Work as
this of the Professor's can our course now more than
formerly be straightforward, step by step, but at best
leap by leap. Significant Indications stand-out here
and there ; which for the critical eye, that looks both
widely and narrowly, shape themselves into some
ground-scheme of a Whole : to select these with judg-
ment, so that a leap from one to the other be possible,
and (in our old figure) by chaining them together, a
passable Bridge be effected : this, as heretofore, con-
tinues our only method. Among such light-spots, the
following, floating in much wild matter about Per-
fectibility, has seemed worth clutching at :

" Perhaps the most remarkable incident in Modern
History," says Teufelsdrockh, "is not the Diet of
Worms, still less the Battle of Austerlitz, Waterloo,
Peterloo, or any other Battle ; but an incident passed
carelessly over by most Historians, and treated with
some degree of ridicule by others : namely, George
Fox's making to himself a suit of Leather. This man,
the first of the Quakers, and by trade a Shoemaker, was
one of those, to whom, under ruder or purer form, the
Divine Idea of the Universe is pleased to manifest itself;
and, across all the hulls of Ignorance and earthly Deg-


radation, shine through, in unspeakable Awfulness,
unspeakable Beauty, on their souls : who therefore are
rightly accounted Prophets, God-possessed ; or even
Gods, as in some periods it has chanced. Sitting in
his stall ; working on tanned hides, amid pincers, paste,
horns, rosin, swine-bristles, and a nameless flood of
rubbish, this youth had, nevertheless, a Living Spirit
belonging to him ; also an antique Inspired Volume,
through which, as through a window, it could look up-
wards, and discern its celestial Home. The task of a
daily pair of shoes, coupled even with some prospect
of victuals, and an honorable Mastership in Cordwain-
ery, and perhaps the post of Thirdborough in his hun-
dred, as the crown of long faithful sewing, was no-
wise satisfaction enough to such a mind : but ever amid
the boring and hammering came tones from that far
country, came Splendors and Terrors ; for this poor
Cordwainer, as we said, was a Man and the Temple
of Immensity, wherein as Man he had been sent to
minister, was full of holy mystery to him.

" The Clergy of the neighborhood, the ordained
Watchers and Interpreters of that same holy mystery,
listened with unaffected tedium to his consultations,
and advised him, as the solution of such doubts, to
' drink beer and dance with the girls. ' Blind leaders
of the blind ! For what end were their tithes levied
and eaten ; for what were their shovel-hats scooped
out, and their surplices and cassock-aprons girt-on ;
and such a church-repairing, and chaffering, and organ-
ing, and other racketing, held over that spot of God's
Earth, if Man were but a Patent Digester, and the
Belly with its adjuncts the grand Reality ? Fox turned
from them, with tears and a sacred scorn, back to his
Leather-parings and his Bible. Mountains of encum-


brance, higher than ./Etna, had been heaped over that
Spirit : but it was a Spirit, and would not lie buried there.
Through long days and nights of silent agony, it strug-
gled and wrestled, with a man's force, to be free : how its
prison-mountains heaved and swayed tumultuously, as
the giant spirit shook them to this hand and that, and
emerged into the light of Heaven ! That Leicester shoe-
shop, had men known it, was a holier place than any
Vatican or Loretto-shrine. 'So bandaged, and ham-
pered and hemmed in,' groaned he, 'with thousand re-
quisitions, obligations, straps, tatters, and tagrags, I
can neither see nor move : not my own am I, but the
World's ; and Time flies fast, and Heaven is high, and
Hell is deep : Man ! bethink thee, if thou hast power of
Thought ! Why not ; what binds me here ? Want,
want ! Ha, of what ? Will all the shoe-wages under
the Moon ferry me across into that far Land of Light?
Only Meditation can, and devout Prayer to God. I
will to the woods : the hollow of a tree will lodge me,
wild-berries feed me ; and for Clothes, cannot I stitch
myself one perennial suit of Leather ! '

"Historical Oil-painting," continues Teufelsdrockh,
" is one of the Arts I never practiced ; therefore shall I
not decide whether this subject were easy of execution
on the canvas. Yet often has it seemed to me as if
such first outflashing of man's Freewill, to lighten,
more and more into Day, the Chaotic Night that
threatened to ingulf him in its hindrances and its
horrors, were properly the only grandeur there is in
History. Let some living Angelo or Rosa, with seeing
eye and understanding heart, picture George Fox on
that morning, when he spreads-out his cutting-board

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 14 of 22)