Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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for the last time, and cuts cowhides by unwonted
patterns, and stitches them together into one con-


tinuous all-including Case, the farewell service of his
awl ! Stitch away, thou noble Fox : every prick of
that little instrument is pricking into the heart of
Slavery, and World-worship, and the Mammon-god.
Thy elbows jerk, as in strong swimmer-strokes, and
every stroke is bearing thee across the Prison-ditch,
within which Vanity holds her Workhouse and Ragfair,
into lands of true Liberty ; were the work done, there
is in broad Europe one Free Man, and thou art he !

" Thus from the lowest depth there is a path to the
loftiest height ; and for the Poor also a Gospel has
been published. Surely if, as D'Alembert asserts, my
illustrious namesake, Diogenes, was the greatest man
of Antiquity, only that he M r anted Decency, then by
stronger reason is George Fox the greatest of the Mod-
erns, and greater than Diogenes himself : for he too
stands on the adamantine basis of his Manhood, cast-
ing aside all props and shores ; yet not, in half-savage
Pride, undervaluing the Earth ; valuing it rather, as a
place to yield him warmth and food, he looks Heaven-
ward from his Earth, and dwells in an element of Mercy
and Worship, with a still Strength, such as the Cynic's
Tub did nowise witness. Great, truly, was that Tub ;
a temple from which man's dignity and divinity was
scornfully preached abroad : but greater is the Leather
Hull, for the same sermon was preached there, and not
in Scorn but in Love."

George Fox's " perennial suit," with all that it held,
has been worn quite into ashes for nigh two centuries ;
why, in a discussion on the Perfectibility of Society,
reproduce it now ? Not out of blind sectarian partisan-
ship : Teufelsdrockh himself is no Quaker ; with all his
pacific tendencies, did not we see him, in that scene



at the North Cape, with the Archangel Smuggler, exhibit
fire-arms ?

For us, aware of his deep Sansculottism, there is
more meant in this passage than meets the ear. At the
same time, who can avoid smiling at the earnestness
and Boeotian simplicity (if indeed there be not an under-
hand satire in it), with which that " Incident " is here
brought forward ; and, in the Professor's ambiguous
way, as clearly perhaps as he durst in Weissnichtwo,
recommended to imitation ! Does Teufelsdrockh an-
ticipate that, in this age of refinement, any considerable
class of the community, by way of testifying against
the " Mammon-god," and escaping from what he calls
" Vanity's Workhouse and Ragfair," where doubtless
some of them are toiled and whipped and hoodwinked
sufficiently, will sheathe themselves in close-fitting
cases of Leather ? The idea is ridiculous in the extreme.
Will Majesty lay aside its robes of state, and Beauty its
frills and train-gowns, for a second-skin of tanned hide?
By which change Huddersfield and Manchester, and
Coventry and Paisley, and the Fancy-Bazaar, were re-
duced to hungry solitudes ; and only Day and Martin
could profit. For neither would Teufelsdrockh's mad
daydream, here as we presume covertly intended, of
levelling Society (levelling it indeed with a vengeance,
into one huge drowned marsh ! ), and so attaining the
political effects of Nudity without its frigorific or other
consequences, be thereby realized. Would not the
rich man purchase a waterproof suit of Russia Leather;
and the high-born Belle step-forth in red or azure mo-
rocco, lined with shamoy : the black cowhide being left
to the Drudges and Gibeonites of the world ; and so all
the old Distinctions be re-established ?



Or has the Professor his own deeper intention ; and
laughs in his sleeve at our strictures and glosses, which
indeed are but a part thereof?




NOT less questionable is his Chapter on Church-
Clothes, which has the farther distinction of being the
shortest in the Volume. We here translate it entire :

" By Church-Clothes, it need not be premised that I
mean infinitely more than Cassocks and Surplices; and
do not at all mean the mere haberdasher Sunday Clothes
that men go to Church in. Far from it ! Church-
Clothes are, in our vocabulary, the Forms, the Vestures,
under which men have at various periods embodied
and represented for themselves the Religious Principle;
that is to say, invested the Divine Idea of the World
with a sensible and practically active Body, so that it
might dwell among them as a living and life-giving

"These are unspeakably the most important of all
the vestures and garnitures of Human Existence. They
are first spun and woven, I may say, by that wonder
of wonders, SOCIETY ; for it is still only when ' two or
three are gathered together,' that Religion, spiritually
existent, and indeed indestructible, however latent, in
each, first outwardly manifests itself (as with ' cloven
tongues of fire'), and seeks to be embodied in a visible
Communion and Church Militant. Mystical, more
than .magical, is that Communing of Soul with Soul,
both looking heavenward : here properly Soul first


speaks with Soul ; for only in looking heavenward,
take it in what sense you may, not in looking earth-
ward, does what we can call Union, mutual Love, So-
ciety, begin to be possible. How true is that of Novalis:
' It is certain, my Belief gains quite infinitely the mo-
ment I can convince another mind thereof ! ' Gaze thou
in the face of thy Brother, in those eyes where plays
the lambent fire of Kindness, or in those where rages
the lurid conflagration of Anger ; feel how thy own so
quiet Soul is straightway involuntarily kindled with the
like, and ye blaze and reverberate on each other, tfll it
is all one limitless confluent flame (of embracing Love,
or of deadly-grappling Hate) ; and then say what mi-
raculous virtue goes out of man into man. But if so,
through all the thick-plied hulls of our Earthly Life ;
how much more when it is of the Divine Life we speak,
and inmost ME is, as it were, brought into contact
with inmost ME !

"Thus was it that I said, the Church-Clothes are first
spun and woven by Society ; outward Religion origi-
nates by Society, Society becomes possible by Religion.
Nay, perhaps, every conceivable Society, past and
present, may well be figured as properly and wholly a
Church, in one or other of these three predicaments :
an audibly preaching and prophesying Church, which
is the best ; second, a Church that struggles to preach
and prophesy, but cannot as yet, till its Pentecost
come ; and third and worst, a Church gone dumb with
old age, or which only mumbles delirium prior to dis-
solution. Whoso fancies that by Church is here meant
Chapterhouses and Cathedrals, or by preaching and
prophesying, mere speech and chanting, let him, "says
the oracular Professor, "read on, light of heart (getros-
fan Muthes). "


" But with regard to your Church proper, and the
Church-Clothes specially recognized as Church-Clothes,
I remark, fearlessly enough, that without such Vestures
and sacred Tissues Society has not existed, and will
not exist. For if Government is, so to speak, the out-
ward SKIN of the Body Politic, holding the whole to-
gether and protecting it; and all your Craft-Guilds, and
Associations for Industry, of hand or of head, are the
Fleshly Clothes, the muscular and osseous Tissues
(lying under such SKIN), whereby Society stands and
works ; then is Religion the inmost Pericardial and
Nervous Tissue, which ministers Life and warm Circu-
lation to the whole. Without which Pericardial Tissue
the Bones and Muscles (of Industry) were inert, or an-
imated only by a Galvanic vitality; the SKIN would be-
come a shrivelled pelt, or fast-rotting raw-hide; and
Society itself a dead carcass, deserving to be buried.
Men were no longer Social, but Gregarious ; which
latter state also could not continue, but must gradually
issue in universal selfish discord, hatred, savage isola-
tion, and dispersion ; whereby, as we might continue
to say, the very dust and dead body of Society would
have evaporated and become abolished. Such, and so
all-important, all-sustaining, are the Church-Clothes to
civilized or even to rational men.

"Meanwhile, in our era of the World, those same
Church-Clothes have gone sorrowfully out-at-elbows :
nay, far worse, many of them have become mere hol-
low Shapes, or Masks, under which no living Figure or
Spirit any longer dwells; but only spiders and unclean
beetles, in horrid accumulation, drive their trade ; and
the mask still glares on you with its glass-eyes, in
ghastly affectation of Life, some generation-and-half
after Religion has quite withdrawn from it, and in un-


noticed nooks is weaving for herself new Vestures,
wherewith to reappear, and bless us, or our sons 01
grandsons. As a Priest, or Interpreter of the Holy, is
the noblest and highest of all men, so is a Sham-priest
(Schein-priester) the falsest and basest ; neither is it
doubtful that his Canonicals, were they Popes' Tiaras,
will one day, be torn from him, to make bandages for
the wounds of mankind ; or even to burn into tinder,
for general scientific or culinary purposes.

" All which, as out of place here, falls to be handled
in my Second Volume, On the Palingenesia, or New-
birth of Society ; which volume, as treating practically
of the Wear, Destruction, and Retexture of Spiritual
Tissues, or Garments, forms, properly speaking, the
Transcendental or ultimate Portion of this my work
on Clothes, and is already in a state of forwardness."

And herewith, no farther exposition, note, or com-
mentary being added, does Teufelsdrockh and must
his Editor now, terminate the singular chapter on
Church-Clothes 1




PROBABLY i f will elucidate the draft of these foregoing
obscure utterances, if we here insert somewhat of our
Professor's speculations on Symbols. To state his
whole doctrine, indeed, were beyond our compass :
nowhere is he more mysterious, impalpable, than in
this of " Fantasy being the organ of the Godlike; " and
how "Man thereby, though based, to all seeming, on
the small Visible, does nevertheless extend down into
the infinite deeps of the Invisible, of which Invisible,
indeed, his Life is properly the bodying forth. " Let us,
omitting these high transcendental aspects of the matter,
study to glean (whether from the Paper-bags or the
Printed Volume) what little seems logical and practical,
and cunningly arrange it into such degree of coherence
as it will assume. By way of proem, take the follow-
ing not injudicious remarks :

" The benignant efficacies of Concealment," cries
our Professor, ' ' who shall speak or sing ? SILENCE and
SECRECY ! Altars might still be raised to them (were this
an altar-building time) for universal worship. Silence is
the element in which great things fashion themselves
together ; that at length they may emerge, full-formed
and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are
thenceforth to rule. Not William the Silent only, but
all the considerable men I have known, and the most


undiplomatic and unstrategic of these, forbore to bab-
ble of what they were creating and projecting. Nay,
in thy own mean perplexities, do thou thyself but hold
thy tongue for one day : on the morrow, how much
clearer are the purposes and duties ; what wreck and
rubbish have those mute workmen within these swept
away, when intrusive noises were shut out ! Speech is
too often not, as the Frenchmen defined it, the art of
concealing Thought ; but of quite stifling and suspend-
ing Thought, so that there is none to conceal. Speech
too is great, but not the greatest. As the Swiss In-
scription says : Sprechenistsilbern, S chweig en ist golden
(Speech is silvern, Silence is golden) ; or as I might
rather express it : Speech is of Time, Silence is of

"Bees will not work except in darkness; Thought
will not work except in Silence : neither will Virtue
work except in Secrecy. Let not thy left hand know
what thy right hand doeth ! Neither shalt thou prate
even to thy own heart of ' those secrets known to all.'
Is not Shame (Schani) the soil of all Virtue, of all good
manners and good morals ? Like other plants, Virtue
will not grow unless its root be hidden, buried from
the eye of the sun. Let the sun shine on it, nay do
but look at it privily thyself, the root withers, and no
flower will glad thee. O my Friends, when we view
the fair clustering flowers that overwreathe, for ex-
ample, the Marriage-bower, and encircle man's life
with the fragrance and hues of heaven, what hand will
not smite the foul plunderer that grubs them up by the
roots, and with grinning, grunting satisfaction, shows
us the dung they flourish in ! Men speak much of the
Printing-Press with its Newspapers : du Himmel ! what
are these to Clothes and the Tailor's Goose ? "


"Of kin to the so incalculable influences of Conceal-
ment, and connected with still greater things, is the
wondrous agency of Symbols. In a Symbol there is
concealment and yet revelation : here therefore, by Si-
lence and by Speech acting together, comes a double
significance. And if both the Speech be itself high,
and the Silence fit and noble, how expressive will their
union be ! Thus in many a painted Device, or simple
Seal-emblem, the commonest Truth stands out to us
proclaimed with quite new emphasis.

" For it is here that Fantasy with her mystic wonder-
land plays into the small prose domain of Sense, and
becomes incorporated therewith. In the Symbol
proper, what we can call a Symbol, there is ever, more
or less distinctly and directly, some embodiment and
revelation of the Infinite ; the Infinite is made to blend
itself with the Finite, to stand visible, and as it were,
attainable there. By Symbols, accordingly, is man
guided and commanded, made happy, made wretched.
He everywhere finds himself encompassed with Sym-
bols, recognized as such or not recognized : the Uni-
verse is but one vast Symbol of God ; nay if thou wilt
have it, what is man himself but a Symbol of God ;
is not all that he does symbolical ; a revelation to Sense
of the mystic god-given force that is in him ; a ' Gospel
of Freedom,' which he, the 'Messias of Nature,'
preaches, as he can, by act and word ? Not a Hut he
builds but is the visible embodiment of a Thought ; but
bears visible record of invisible things ; but is, in the
transcendental sense, symbolical as well as real. "

"Man," says the Professor elsewhere, in quite antip-
odal contrast with these high-soaring delineations,
which we have here cut-short on the verge of the inane.
"Man is by birth somewhat of an owl. Perhaps, too,


of all the owleries that ever possessed him, the most
owlish, if we consider it, is that of your actually existing
Motive-Millwrights. Fantastic tricks enough man has
played, in his time ; has fancied himself to be most
things, down even to an animated heap of Glass : but
to fancy himself a dead iron-Balance for weighing Pains
and Pleasures on, was reserved for this his latter era.
There stands he, his Universe one huge Manger, rilled
with hay and thistles to be weighed against each
other ; and looks long-eared enough. Alas, poor devil !
spectres are appointed to haunt him : one age he
is hagridden, bewitched ; the next, priestridden, be-
fooled ; in all ages, bedevilled. And now the Genius
of Mechanism smothers him worse than any Nightmare
did ; till the Soul is nigh choked out of him, and only a
kind of Digestive, Mechanic life remains. In Earth
and in Heaven he can see nothing but Mechanism ;
has fear for nothing else, hope in nothing else : the
world would indeed grind him to pieces ; but cannot
he fathom the Doctrine of Motives, and cunningly
compute these, and mechanize them to grind the other

"Were he not, as has been said, purblinded by
enchantment, you had but to bid him open his eyes
and look. In which country, in which time, was it
hitherto that man's history, or the history of any man,
went-on by calculated or calculable ' Motives ' ? What
make ye of your Christianities, and Chivalries, and
Reformations, and Marseilles Hymns, and Reigns of
Terror? Nay, has not perhaps the Motive-grinder him-
self been in Love /> Did he never stand so much as a
contested Election ? Leave him to Time, and the
medicating virtue of Nature. "

"Yes, Friends," elsewhere observes the Professor,


"not our Logical, Mensurative faculty, but our Imagi-
native one is King over us ; I might say, Priest and
Prophet to lead us heavenward ; or Magician and
Wizard to lead us helhvard. Nay, even for the basest
Sensualist, what is Sense but the implement of Fantasy ;
the vessel it drinks out of? Ever in the dullest exist-
ence there is a sheen either of Inspiration or of Mad-
ness (thou partly hast it in thy choice, which of the.
two), that gleams-in from the circumambient Eternity,
and colors with its own hues our little islet of Time.
The Understanding is indeed thy window, too clear
thou canst not make it ; but Fantasy is thy eye, with
its color-giving retina, healthy or diseased. Have not
I myself known five-hundred living soldiers sabred
into crows'-meat for a piece of glazed cotton, which
they called their Flag ; which, had you sold it at any
market-cross, would not have brought above three
groschen ? Did not the whole Hungarian Nation rise,
like some tumultuous moon-stirred Atlantic, when
Kaiser Joseph pocketed their Iron Crown ; an imple-
ment, as was sagaciously observed, in size and com-
mercial value little differing from a horse-shoe ? It is
in and through Symbols that man, consciously or un-
consciously, lives, works, and has his being : those
ages, moreover, are accounted the noblest which can the
best recognize symbolical worth, and prize it the high-
est. For is not a Symbol ever, to him who has eyes
for it, some dimmer or clearer revelation of the God-
like ?

"Of Symbols, however, I remark farther, that they
have both an extrinsic and intrinsic value ; oftenest the
former only. What, for instance, was in that clouted
Shoe, which the Peasants bore aloft with them as ensign
in their Bauernkrieg (Peasants' War) ? Or in the Wallet-


and-staff round which the Netherland Gueux, glorying
in that nickname of Beggars, heroically rallied and pre-
vailed, though against King Philip himself? Intrinsic
significance these had none : only extrinsic ; as the
accidental Standards of multitudes more or less sacredly
uniting together ; in which union itself, as above noted,
there is ever something mystical and borrowing of the
Godlike. Under a like category, too, stand, or stood,
the stupidest heraldic Coats-of-arms ; military Banners
everywhere ; and generally all national or other secta-
rian Costumes and Customs : they have no intrinsic,
necessary divineness, or even worth ; but have acquired
an extrinsic one. Nevertheless through all these there
glimmers something of a Divine Idea ; as through
military Banners themselves, the Divine Idea of Duty,
of heroic Daring ; in some instances of Freedom, of
Right. Nay the Highest ensign that men ever met
and embraced under, the Cross itself, had no meaning
save an accidental extrinsic one.

"Another matter it is, however, when your Symbol
has intrinsic meaning, and is of itself fit that men should
unite round it Let but the Godlike manifest itself to
Sense ; let but Eternity look, more or less visibly,
through the Time-Figure (Zeitbild) \ Then is it fit that
men unite there ; and worship together before such
Symbol ; and so from day to day, and from age to age,
superadd to it new divineness.

"Of this latter sort are all true Works of Art: in
them (if thou know a Work of Art from a Daub of
Artifice) wilt thou discern Eternity looking through
Time ; the Godlike rendered visible. Here too may
an extrinsic value gradually superadd itself : thus cer-
tain Iliads, and the like, have, in three-thousand years,
attained quite new significance. But nobler than all in


this kind are the Lives of heroic god-inspired Men ; for
what other Work of Art is so divine ? In Death too, in
the Death of the Just, as the last perfection of a Work
of Art, may we not discern symbolic meaning? In
that divinely transfigured Sleep, as of Victory, resting
over the beloved face which now knows thee no more,
read (if thou canst for tears) the confluence of Time
with Eternity, and some gleam of the latter peering

"Highest of all Symbols are those wherein the
Artist or Poet has risen into Prophet, and all men can
recognize a present God, and worship the same : I
mean religious Symbols. Various enough have been
such religious Symbols, what we call Religions; as
men stood in this stage of culture or the other, and
could worse or better body-forth the Godlike : some
Symbols with a transient intrinsic worth ; many with
only an extrinsic. If thou ask to what height man has
carried it in this manner, look on our divinest Symbol :
on Jesus of Nazareth, and his Life, and his Biography,
and what followed therefrom. Higher has the human
Thought not yet reached : this is Christianity and
Christendom ; a Symbol of quite perennial, infinite
character ; whose significance will ever demand to be
anew inquired into, and anew made manifest.

"But, on the whole, as Time adds much to the
sacredness of Symbols, so likewise in his progress he
at length defaces, or even desecrates them ; and Sym-
bols, like all terrestrial Garments, wax old. Homer's
Epos, has not ceased to be true ; yet it is no longer our
Epos, but shines in the distance, if clearer and clearer,
yet also smaller and smaller, like a receding Star. It
needs a scientific telescope, it needs to be reinterpreted
and artificially brought near us, before we can so much


as know that it was a Sun. So likewise a day comes
when the Runic Thor, with his Eddas, must withdraw
into dimness ; and many an African Mumbo-Jumbo
and Indian Pawaw be utterly abolished. For all things,
even Celestial Luminaries, much more atmospheric
meteors, have their rise, their culmination, their

" Small is this which thou tellest me, that the Royal
Sceptre is but a piece of gilt- wood ; that the Pyx has
become a most foolish box, and truly, as Ancient Pistol
thought, 'of little price.' A right Conjurer might I
name thee, couldst thou conjure back into these wooden
tools the divine virtue they once held. "

" Of this thing, however, be certain: wouldst thou
plant for Eternity, then plant into the deep infinite
faculties of man, his Fantasy and Heart ; wouldst thou
plant for Year and Day, then plant into his shallow
superficial faculties, his Self-love and Arithmetical
Understanding, what will grow there. A Hierarch,
therefore, and Pontiff of the World will we call him,
the Poet and inspired Maker ; who, Prometheus-like,
can shape new Symbols, and bring new Fire from
Heaven to fix it there. Such too will not always be
wanting ; neither perhaps now are. Meanwhile, as
the average of matters goes, we account him Legislator
and wise who can so much as tell when a Symbol has
grown old, and gently remove it.

"When, as the last English Coronation 1 was prepar-
ing," concludes this wonderful Professor, "I read in
their Newspapers that the 'Champion of England/ he
who has to offer battle to the Universe for his new
King, had brought it so far that he could now ' mount

1 That of George IV. ED.



his horse with little assistance,' 1 said to myself : Here
also we have a Symbol well-nigh superannuated.
Alas, move whithersoever you may, are not the tatters
and rags of superannuated worn-out Symbols (in this
Ragfair of a World) dropping off everywhere, to hood-
wink, to halter, to tether you ; nay, if you shake them
not aside, threatening to accumulate, and perhaps
produce suffocation ? "




AT this point we determine on adverting shortly, or
rather reverting, to a certain Tract of Hofrath Heu-
schrecke's, entitled Institute for the Repression of Popula-
tion; which lies, dishonorably enough (with torn leaves,
and a perceptible smell of aloetic drugs) stuffed into the
Bag Pisces. Not indeed for the sake of the Tract itself,
which we admire little ; but of the marginal Notes,
evidently in Teufelsdrockh's hand, which rather copi-

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