Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

. (page 16 of 22)
Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 16 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ously fringe it. A few of these may be in their right
place here.

Into the Hofrath 's Institute, with its extraordinary
schemes and machinery of Corresponding Boards and
the like, we shall not so much as glance. Enough for
us to understand that Heuschrecke is a disciple of
Malthus ; and so zealous for the doctrine, that his zeal
almost literally eats him up. A deadly fear of Popu-
lation possesses the Hofrath; something like a fixed-
idea ; undoubtedly akin to the more diluted forms of
Madness. Nowhere, in that quarter of his intellectual
world, is there light ; nothing but a grim shadow of
Hunger ; open mouths opening wider and wider ;
a world to terminate by the frightfullest consummation :
by its too dense inhabitants, famished into delirium,
universally eating one another. To make air for him-
self in which strangulation, choking enough to a benev*


olent heart, the Hofrath founds, or proposes to found,
this Institute of his, as the best he can do. It is only
with our Professor's comments thereon that we con-
cern ourselves.

First, then, remark that Teufelsdrockh, as a specula-
tive Radical, has his own notions about human dignity ;
that the Zahdarm palaces and courtesies have not made
him forgetful of the Futteral cottages. On the blank
cover of Heuschrecke's Tract we find the following
indistinctly engrossed :

"Two men I honor, and no third. First, the toil-
worn Craftsman that with earth-made Implement
laboriously conquers the Earth, and makes her man's.
Venerable to me is the hard Hand ; crooked, coarse ;
wherein notwithstanding lies a cunning virtue, inde-
feasibly royal, as of the Sceptre of this Planet. Vener-
able too is the rugged face, all weather-tanned, besoiled,
with its rude intelligence ; for it is the face of a man
living manlike. O, but the more venerable for thy
rudeness, and even because we must pity as well as
love thee ! Hardly-entreated Brother ! For us was
thy back so bent, for us were thy straight limbs and
fingers so deformed : thou wert our Conscript, on
whom the lot fell, and fighting our battles wert so
marred. For in thee too lay a god-created Form, but
it was not to be unfolded ; in crusted must it stand with
the thick adhesions and defacements of Labor : and
thy body, like thy soul, was not to know freedom.
Yet toil on, toil on, thou art in thy duty, be out of it
who may ; thou toilest for the altogether indispensable,
for daily bread.

"A second man I honor, and still more highly:
Him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispens-
able ; not daily bread, but the bread of Life. Is not


he too in his duty ; endeavoring towards inward Har-
mony ; revealing this, by act or by word, through all
his outward endeavors, be they high or low ? Highest
of all, when his outward and his inward endeavor are
one : when we can name him Artist ; not earthly Crafts-
man only, but inspired Thinker, who with heaven-
made Implement conquers Heaven for us ! If the
poor and humble toil that we have Food, must not the
high and glorious toil for him in return, that he have
Light, have Guidance, Freedom, Immortality ? These
two, in all their degrees, I honor : all else is chaff and
dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth.

"Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find
both dignities united ; and he that must toil out-
wardly for the lowest of man's wants, is also toiling
inwardly for the highest. Sublimer in this world know
I nothing than a Peasant Saint, could such now any-
where be met with. Such a one will take thee back to
Nazareth itself; thou wilt see the splendor of Heaven
spring forth from the humblest depths of Earth, like a
light shining in great darkness."

And again: " It is not because of his toils that I
lament for the poor : we must all toil, or steal (how-
soever we name our stealing), which is worse ; no
faithful workman finds his task a pastime. The poor
is hungry and athirst ; but for him also there is food
and drink : he is heavy laden and weary ; but for him
also the Heavens send Sleep, and of the deepest ; in
his smoky cribs, a clear dewy heaven of Rest envelops
him, and fitful glitterings of cloud-skirted Dreams.
But what I do mourn over is, that the lamp of his soul
should go out ; that no ray of heavenly, or even of earthly
knowledge, should visit him ; but only, in the haggard
darkness, like two spectres, Fear and Indignation bear


him company. Alas, while the Body stands so broad
and brawny, must the Soul lie blinded, dwarfed, stupe-
fied, almost annihilated ! Alas, was this too a Breath
of God ; bestowed in Heaven, but on earth never to be
unfolded ! That there should one Man die ignorant
who had capacity for Knowledge, this I call a tragedy,
were it .to happen more than twenty times in the
minute, as by some computations it does. The miser-
able fraction of Science which our united Mankind, in
a wide Universe of Nescience, has acquired, why is not
this, with all diligence, imparted to all ? "

Quite in an opposite strain is the following : "The
old Spartans had a wiser method ; and went out and
hunted-down their Helots, and speared and spitted
them, when they grew too numerous. With our im-
proved fashions of hunting, Herr Hofrath, now after
the invention of fire-arms, and standing-armies, how
much easier were such a hunt ! Perhaps in the most
thickly-peopled country, some three days annually
might suffice to shoot all the able-bodied Paupers that
had accumulated within the year. Let Governments
think of this. The expense were trifling : nay the very
carcasses would pay it. Have them salted and barrelled ;
could not you victual therewith, if not Army and Navy,
yet richly such infirm Paupers, in workhouses and
elsewhere, as enlightened Charity, dreading no evil of
them, might see good to keep alive ? "

"And yet," writes he farther on, "there must be
something wrong. A full-formed Horse will, in any
market, bring from twenty to as high as two-hundred
Friedrichs d'or : such is his worth to the world. A
full-formed Man is not only worth nothing to the
world, but the world could afford him a round sum
would he simply engage to go and hang himself.


Nevertheless, which of the two was the more cun-
ningly-devised article, even as an Engine ? Good
Heavens ! A white European Man, standing on his
two Legs, with his two five-fingered Hands at his
shackle-bones, and miraculous Head on his shoulders,
is worth, I should say, from fifty to a hundred
Horses ! "

"True, thou Gold-Hofrath, " cries the Professor else-
where : " too crowded indeed ! Meanwhile, what por-
tion of this inconsiderable terraqueous Globe have ye
actually tilled and delved, till it will grow no more ?
How thick stands your Population in the Pampas and
Savannas of America ; round ancient Carthage, and in
the interior of Africa ; on both slopes of the Altaic
chain, in the central Platform of Asia ; in Spain, Greece,
Turkey, Crim Tartary, the Curragh of Kildare? One
man, in one year, as I have understood it, if you lend
him Earth, will feed himself and nine others. Alas,
where now are the Hengsts and Alarics of our still-
glowing, still-expanding Europe ; who, when their
home is grown too narrow, will enlist, and, like Fire-
pillars, guide onwards those superfluous masses of in-
domitable living Valor ; equipped, not now with the
battle-axe and war chariot, but with the steam-engine
and plough-share ? Where are they ? Preserving their
Game 1 "





PUTTING which four singular Chapters together, and
alongside of them numerous hints, and even direct
utterances, scattered over these Writings of his, we
come upon the startling yet not quite unlocked for
conclusion, that Teufelsdrockh is one of those who
consider Society, properly so called, to be as good as
extinct ; and that only the gregarious feelings, and old
inherited habitudes, at this juncture, hold us from Dis-
persion, and universal national, civil, , domestic and
personal war ! He says expressly : " For the last three
centuries, above all for the last three quarters of a cen-
tury, that same Pericardial Nervous Tissue (as we
named it) of Religion, where lies the Life-essence of
Society, has been smote-at and perforated, needfully
and needlessly ; till now it is quite rent into shreds ;
and Society, long pining, diabetic, consumptive, can
be regarded as defunct ; for those spasmodic, galvanic
sprawlings are not life ; neither indeed will they endure,
galvanize as you may, beyond two days."

"Call ye that a Society," cries he again, "where
there is no longer any Social Idea extant ; not so much
as the Idea of a common Home, but only of a common
over-crowded Lodging-house? Where each, isolated,
regardless of his neighbor, turned against his neighbor,
clutches what he can get, and cries ' Mine ! ' and calls


it Peace, because, in the cut-purse and cut-throat
Scramble, no steel knives, but only a far cunninger
sort, can be employed ? Where Friendship, Commun-
ion, has become an incredible tradition ; and your
holiest Sacramental Supper is a smoking- Tavern Dinner,
with Cook for Evangelist ? Where your Priest has no
tongue but for plate-licking : and your high Guides and
Governors cannot guide ; but on all hands hear it pas-
sionately proclaimed : Laissez faire ; Leave us alone
ofjyour guidance, such light is darker than darkness ;
eat you your wages, and sleep !

" Thus, too," continues he, " does an observant eye
discern everywhere that saddest spectacle : The Poor
perishing, like neglected, foundered Draught-Cattle, of
Hunger and Overwork ; the Rich, still more wretchedly
of Idleness, Satiety, and Overgrowth. The Highest in
rank, at length, without honor from the Lowest ; scarce-
ly, with a little mouth-honor, as from tavern-waiters
who expect to put it in the bill. Once-sacred Symbols
fluttering as empty Pageants, whereof mengrudge even
the expense ; a World becoming dismantled : in one
word, the CHURCH fallen speechless, from obesity and
apoplexy ; the STATE shrunken into a Police-Office,
straitened to get its pay ! "

We might ask, are there many " observant eyes,"
belonging to practical men in England or elsewhere,
which have descried these phenomena ; or is it only
from the mystic elevation of a German Wahngasse that
such wonders are visible ? Teufelsdrockh contends
that the aspect of a " deceased or expiring Society"
fronts us everywhere, so that whoso runs may read.
"What, for example," says he, "is the universally-
arrogated Virtue, almost the sole remaining Catholic
Virtue, of these days ? For some half century, it has



been the thing you name ' Independence.' Suspicion
of ' Servility,' of reverence for Superiors, the very dog-
leech is anxious to disavow. Fools ! Were your Su-
periors worthy to govern, and you worthy tc obey, rever-
ence for them were even your only possible freedom.
Independence, in all kinds, is rebellion ; if unjust re-
bellion, why parade it, and everywhere prescribe it ? "

But what then ? Are we returning, as Rousseau
prayed, to the state of Nature ? ' ' The Soul Politic hav-
ing departed," says Teufelsdrockh, " what can follow
but that the Body Politic be decently interred, to avoid
putrescence ? Liberals, Economists, Utilitarians
enough I see marching with its bier, and chanting loud
paeans, towards the funeral-pile, where, amid wailings
from some, and saturnalian revelries from the most, the
venerable Corpse is to be burnt. Or, in plain words,
that these men, Liberals, Utilitarians, or whatsoever
they are called, will ultimately carry their point, and
dissever and destroy most existing Institutions of
Society, seems a thing which has some time ago ceased
to be doubtful.

"Do we not see a little subdivision of the grand
Utilitarian Armament come to light even in insulated
England ? A living nucleus, that will attract and grow,
does at length appear there also ; and under curious
phasis ; properly as the inconsiderable fag-end, and so
far in the rear of the others as to fancy itself the van.
Our European Mechanizers are a sect of boundless
diffusion, activity, and co-operative spirit : has not
Utilitarianism flourished in high places of Thought,
here among ourselves, and in every European country,
at some time or other, within the last fifty years ? If
now in all countries, except perhaps England, it has
ceased to flourish, or indeed to exist, among Thinkers,


and sunk to Journalists and the popular mass, who
sees not that, as hereby it no longer preaches, so the rea-
son is, it now needs no Preaching, but is in full universal
Action, the doctrine everywhere known, and enthusi-
astically laid to heart ? The fit pabulum, in these times,
for a certain rugged workshop intellect and heart, no-
wise without their corresponding workshop strength
and ferocity, it requires but to be stated in such scenes
to make proselytes enough. Admirably calculated for
destroying, only not for rebuilding ! It spreads like
a sort of Dog-madness ; till the whole World-kennel will
be rabid : then woe to the Huntsmen, with or without
their whips ! They should have given the quadrupeds
water," adds he; " the water, namely, of Knowledge
and of Life, while it was yet time."

Thus, if Professor Teufelsdrockh can be relied on, we
are at this hour in a most critical condition ; belea-
guered by that boundless "Armament of Mechanizers "
and Unbelievers, threatening to strip us bare ! "The
World," says he, "as it needs must, is under a process
of devastation and waste, which, whether by silent
assiduous corrosion, or open quicker combustion, as the
case chances, will effectually enough annihilate the
past Forms of Society ; replace them with what it may.
For the present, it is contemplated that when man's
whole Spiritual Interests are once divested, these in-
numerable stript-off Garments shall mostly be burnt ;
but the sounder Rags among them be quilted together
into one huge Irish watch-coat for the defence of the
Body only ! " This, we think, is but Job's-news to the
humane reader.

"Nevertheless," cries Teufelsdrockh, "who can hin-
der it ; who is there that can clutch into the wheel-
spokes of Destiny, and say to the Spirit of the Time :


Turn back, I command thee ? Wiser were it that we
yielded to the Inevitable and Inexorable, and accounted
even this the best. "

Nay, might not an attentive Editor, drawing his own
inferences from what stands written, conjecture that
Teufelsdrockh individually had yielded to this same
"Inevitable and Inexorable" heartily enough; and
now sat waiting the issue, with his natural diabolico-
angelical Indifference, if not even Placidity ? Did we
not hear him complain that the World was a " huge
Ragfair," and the "rags and tatters of old Symbols"
were raining-down everywhere, like to drift him in,
and suffocate him ? What with those "unhunted He-
lots " of his ; and the uneven sic vos non vobis pressure
and hard-crashing collision he is pleased to discern in
existing things; what with the so hateful "empty
Masks," full of beetles and spiders, yet glaring out on
him, from their glass eyes, " with a ghastly affectation of
life," we feel entitled to conclude him even willing that
much should be thrown to the Devil, so it were but
done gently! Safe himself in that "Pinnacle ofWeiss-
nichtwo," he would consent, with a tragic solemnity,
that the monster UTILITARIA, held back, indeed, and
moderated by nose-rings, halters, foot-shackles, and
every conceivable modification of rope, should go forth
to do her work ; to tread down old ruinous Palaces
and Temples with her broad hoof, till the whole were
trodden down ; that new and better might be built !
Remarkable in this point of view are the following

"Society," says he, "is not dead: that Carcass,
which you call dead Society, is but her mortal coil
which she has shuffled-off, to assume a nobler ; she
herself, through perpetual metamorphoses, in fairer and


fairer development, has to live till Time also merge in
Eternity. Wheresoever two or three Living Men are
gathered together, there is Society ; or there it will be,
with its cunning mechanisms and stupendous structures,
overspreading this little Globe, and reaching upwards
to Heaven and downwards to Gehenna : for always,
under one or the other figure, it has two authentic Rev-
elations, of a God and of a Devil ; the Pulpit, namely,
and the Gallows. "

Indeed, we already heard him speak of " Religion, in
unnoticed nooks, weaving for herself new Vestures;"
Teufelsdrockh himself being one of the loom-treadles ?
Elsewhere he quotes without censure that strange aph-
orism of Saint-Simon's concerning which and whom
so much were to be said : " L'age d'or, quune aveugle
tradition a place jusqu'ici dans le passe est devant nous ;
The golden age, which a blind tradition has hitherto
placed in the Past, is Before us." But listen again :

"When the Phoenix is fanning her funeral pyre, will
there not be sparks flying ! Alas, some millions of
men, and among them such as a Napoleon, have al-
ready been licked into that high-eddying Flame, and
like moths consumed there. Still also have we to fear
that incautious beards will get singed.

"For the rest, in what year of grace such Phoenix-
cremation will be completed, you need not ask. The
law of Perseverance is among the deepest in man : by
nature he hates change ; seldom will he quit his old
house till it has actually fallen about his ears. Thus
have I seen Solemnities linger as Ceremonies, sacred
Symbols as idle Pageants, to the extent of three-hun-
dred years and more after all life and sacredness had
evaporated out of them. And then, finally, what time
the Phcenix Death-Birth itself will require, depends on


unseen contingencies. Meanwhile, would Destiny
offer Mankind, that after, say two centuries of convul-
sion and conflagration, more or less vivid, the fire-crea-
tion should be accomplished, and we to find ourselves
again in a Living Society, and no longer fighting but
working, were it not perhaps prudent in Mankind,
to strike the bargain ? "

Thus is Teufelsdrockh content that old sick Society
should be deliberately burnt (alas, with quite other fuel
than spice-wood) ; in the faith that she is a Phoenix ;
and that a new heavenborn young one will rise out of
her ashes ! We ourselves, restricted to the duty of In-
dicator, shall forbear commentary. Meanwhile, will
not the judicious reader shake his head, and reproach-
fully, yet more in sorrow than in anger, say or think :
From a Doctor utriusque Juris, titular Professor in a
University, and man to whom hitherto, for his services,
Society, bad as she is, has given not only food and
raiment (of a kind), but books, tobacco and gukguk, we
expected more gratitude to his benefactress ; and less
of a blind trust in the future, which resembles that
rather of a philosophical Fatalist and Enthusiast, than
of a solid householder paying scot-and-lot in a Christian




As mentioned above, Teufelsdrockh, though a sans-
culottist, is in practice probably the politest man extant :
his whole heart and life are penetrated and informed
with the spirit of politeness ; a noble natural Courtesy
shines through him, beautifying his vagaries ; like sun-
light, making a rosy-fingered, rainbow-dyed Aurora out
of mere aqueous clouds ; nay, brightening London-
smoke itself into gold vapor, as from the crucible of an
alchemist. Hear in what earnest though fantastic wise
he expresses himself on this head :

"Shall Courtesy be done only to the rich, and only
by the rich ? In Good-breeding, which differs, if at all,
from High-breeding, only as it gracefully remembers
the rights of others, rather than gracefully insists on its
own rights, I discern no special connection with wealth
or birth : but rather that it lies in human nature itself,
and is due from all men towards all men. Of a truth,
were your Schoolmaster at his post, and worth any-
thing when there, this, with so much else, would be
reformed. Nay, each man were then also his neighbor's
schoolmaster ; till at length a rude-visaged, unmannered
Peasant could no more be met with, than a Peasant


unacquainted with botanical Physiology, or who felt
not that the clod he broke was created in Heaven.

" For whether thou bear a sceptre or a sledge-ham-
mer, art not thou ALIVE ; is not this thy brother ALIVE ?
'There is but one temple in the world,' says Novalis,
' and that temple is the Body of Man. Nothing is holier
than this high Form. Bending before men is a rever-
ence done to this Revelation in the Flesh. We touch
Heaven, when we lay our hands on a human Body.'

" On which ground, I would fain carry it farther than
most do ; and whereas the English Johnson only bowed
to every Clergyman, or man with a shovel-hat, I would
bow to every Man with any sort of hat, or with no hat
whatever. Is not he a temple, then ; the visible Mani-
festation and Impersonation of the Divinity ? And yet,
alas, such indiscriminate bowing serves not. For
there is a Devil dwells in man, as well as a Divinity ;
and too often the bow is but pocketed by the former.
It would go to the pocket of Vanity (which is your
clearest phasis of the Devil, in these times) ; therefore
must we withhold it.

"The gladder am I, on the other hand, to do rever-
ence to those Shells and outer Husks of the Body, where-
in no devilish passion any longer lodges, but only the
pure emblem and effigies of Man : I mean, to Empty,
or even to Cast Clothes. Nay, is it not to Clothes that
most men do reverence : to the fine frogged broad-
cloth, nowise to the 'straddling animal with bandy
legs ' which it holds, and makes a Dignitary of ? Who
ever saw any Lord my-lorded in tattered blanket fas-
tened with wooden skewer? Nevertheless, I say, there
is in such worship a shade of hypocrisy, a practical de-
ception : for how often does the Body appropriate what


was meant for the Cloth only ! Whoso would avoid
falsehood, which is the essence of all Sin, will perhaps
see good to take a different course. That reverence
which cannot act without obstruction and perversion
when the Clothes are full, may have free course when
they are empty. Even as, for Hindoo Worshippers,
the Pagoda is not less sacred than the God ; so do I too
worship the hollow cloth Garment with equal fervor, as
when it contained the Man : nay, with more, for I now
fear no deception, of myself or of others.

"Did not King Toomtabard, or, in other words, John
Baliol, reign long over Scotland ; the man John Baliol
being quite gone, and only the ' Toom Tabard ' (Empty
Gown) remaining ? What still dignity dwells in a suit
of Cast Clothes ! How meekly it bears its honors ! No
haughty looks, no scornful gesture : silent and serene,
it fronts the world ; neither demanding worship, nor
afraid to miss it. The Hat still carries the physiognomy
of its Head : but the vanity and the stupidity, and
goose-speech which was the sign of these two, are
gone. The Coat-arm is stretched out, but not to strike ;
the Breeches, in modest simplicity, depend at ease, and
now at last have a graceful flow ; the Waistcoat hides
no evil passion, no riotous desire ; hunger or thirst now
dwells not in it. Thus all is purged from the gross-
ness of sense, from the carking cares and foul vices of
the World; and rides there, on its Clothes-Horse ; as,
on a Pegasus, might some skyey Messenger, or puri-
fied Apparition, visiting our low Earth.

' ' Often, while I sojourned in that monstrous tuberosity
of Civilized Life, the Capital of England ; and meditated,
and questioned Destiny, under that ink-sea of vapor,
black, thick, and multifarious as Spartan broth ; and
was one lone soul amid those grinding millions ; often



have I turned into their Old-Clothes Market to worship.
With awe-struck heart I walk through that Monmouth
Street, with its empty Suits, as through a Sanhedrim of
stainless Ghosts. Silent are they, but expressive in
their silence : the past witnesses and instruments of
Woe and Joy, of Passions, Virtues, Crimes, and all the
fathomless tumult of Good and Evil in 'the Prison
men call Life/ Friends! trust not the heart of that
man for whom Old Clothes are not venerable. Watch,
too, with reverence, that bearded Jewish High-priest,

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 16 of 22)