Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

. (page 19 of 22)
Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 19 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

scientific strictness, what a Dandy specially is. A
Dandy is a Clothes-wearing Man, a Man whose trade,
office and existence consists in the wearing of Clothes.
Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse and person is
heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing
of Clothes wisely and well : so that as others dress to
live, he lives to dress. The all-importance of Clothes,
which a German Professor, of unequalled learning and
acumen, writes his enormous Volume to demonstrate,
has sprung up in the intellect of the Dandy without
effort, like an instinct of genius ; he is inspired with
Cloth, a Poet of Cloth. What Teufelsdrockh would
call a "Divine Idea of Cloth" is born with him; and
this, like other such Ideas, will express itself out-
wardly, or wring his heart asunder with unutterable

But, like a generous, creative enthusiast, he fear-
lessly makes his Idea an Action ; shows himself in
peculiar guise to mankind ; walks forth, a witness
and living Martyr to the eternal worth of Clothes.
We called him a Poet : is not his body the (stuffed)
parchment-skin whereon he writes, with cunning Hud-
dersfield dyes, a Sonnet to his mistress' eyebrow ?
Say, rather, an Epos, and Clolha Virumque cano, to



the whole world, in Macaronic verses, which he that
runs may read. Nay, if you grant, what seems to be
admissible, that the Dandy has a Thinking-principle
in him, and some notions of Time and Space, is there
not in this Life-devotedness to Cloth, in this so willing
sacrifice of the Immortal to the Perishable, something
(though in reverse order) of that blending and identifi-
cation of Eternity with Time, which, as we have seen,
constitutes the Prophetic character ?

And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and
Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy
asks in return ? Solely, we may say, that you would
recognize his existence ; would admit him to be a living
object ; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing
that will reflect rays of light. Your silver or your gold
(beyond what the niggardly Law has already secured
him) he solicits not ; simply the glance of your eyes.
Understand his mystic significance, or altogether miss
and misinterpret it ; do but look at him, and he is
contented. May we not well cry shame on an un-
grateful world, which refuses even this poor boon ;
which will waste its optic faculty on dried Crocodiles,
and Siamese Twins ; and over the domestic wonder-
ful wonder of wonders, a live Dandy, glance with
hasty indifference, and a scarcely concealed contempt !
Him no Zoologist classes among the Mammalia, no
Anatomist dissects with care : when did we see any
injected Preparation of the Dandy in our Museums ;
any specimen of him preserved in spirits? Lord Her-
ringbone may dress himself in a snuff-brown suit, with
snuff-brown shirt and shoes : it skills not ; the undis-
cerning public, occupied with grosser wants, passes by
regardless on the other side.

The age of Curiosity, like that of Chivalry, is indeed,


properly speaking, gone. Yet perhaps only gone to
sleep : for here arises the Clothes-Philosophy, to resus-
citate, strangely enough both the one and the other !
Should sound views of this Science come to prevail,
the essential nature of the British Dandy, and the
mystic significance that lies in him, cannot always
remain hidden under laughable and lamentable hallu-
cination. The following long Extract from Professor
Teufelsdrockh may set the matter, if not in its true
light, yet in the way towards such. It is to be re-
gretted, however, that here, as so often elsewhere, the
Professor's keen philosophic perspicacity is somewhat
marred by a certain mixture of almost owlish pur-
blindness, or else of some perverse, ineffectual, ironic
tendency ; our readers shall judge which :

"In these distracted times," writes he, "when the
Religious Principle, driven out of most Churches,
either lies unseen in the hearts of good men, looking
and longing and silently working there towards some
new Revelation ; or else wanders homeless over the
world, like a disembodied soul seeking its terrestrial
organization, into how many strange shapes of Super-
stition and Fanaticism, does it not tentatively and
errantly cast itself ! The higher Enthusiasm of man's
nature is for the while without Exponent : yet does it
continue indestructible, unweariedly active, and work
blindly in the great chaotic deep : thus Sect after Sect,
and Church after Church, bodies itself forth, and melts
again into new metamorphosis.

"Chiefly is this observable in England, which, as
the wealthiest and worst-instructed of European
nations, offers precisely the elements (of Heat, namely,
and of Darkness), in which such moon-calves and



monstrosities are best generated. Among the newer
Sects of that country, one of the most notable, and
closely connected with our present subject, is that of
the Dandies ; concerning which, what little informa-
tion I have been able to procure may fitly stand here.

"It is true, certain of the English Journalists, men
generally without sense for the Religious Principle, or
judgment for its manifestations, speak, in their brief
enigmatic notices, as if this were perhaps rather a
Secular Sect, and not a Religious one ; nevertheless,
to the psychologic eye its devotional and even sacri-
ficial character plainly enough reveals itself. Whether
it belongs to the class of Fetish-worships, or of Hero-
worships or Polytheisms, or to what other class, may
in the present state of our intelligence remain unde-
cided (schweben). A certain touch of Manicheism, not
indeed in the Gnostic shape, is discernible enough :
also (for human Error walks in a cycle, and reappears
at intervals) a not-inconsiderable resemblance to that
superstition of the Athos Monks, who by fasting from
all nourishment, and looking intensely for a length of
time in their own navels, came to discern therein the
true Apocalypse of Nature and Heaven Unveiled. To
my own surmise, it appears as if this Dandiacal-sect
were but a new modification, adapted to the new time
of that primeval Superstition, Self-worship; which Zer-
dusht, Quangfoutchee, Mohamed, and others, strove
rather to subordinate and restrain than to eradicate ;
and which only in the purer forms of Religion has
been altogether rejected. Wherefore, if any one
chooses to name it revived Ahrimanism, or a new
figure of Demon-Worship, I have, so far as is yet
visible, no objection.

"For the rest, these people, animated with the zeal


of a new Sect, display courage and perseverance, and
what force there is in man's nature, though never so
enslaved. They affect great purity and separatism ;
distinguish themselves by a particular costume (where-
of some notices were given in the earlier part of this
Volume) ; likewise, so far as possible, by a particular
speech (apparently some broken Lingua-franca, or
English-French) ; and, on the whole, strive to main-
tain a true Nazarene deportment, and keep themselves
unspotted from the world.

"They have their Temples, whereof the chief, as
the Jewish Temple did, stands in their metropolis ; and
is named Almack's, a word of uncertain etymology.
They worship principally by night ; and have their
Highpriest^and Highpriestesses, who, however, do not
continue for life. The rites, by some supposed to be
of the Menadic sort, or perhaps with an Eleusinian or
Cabiric character, are held strictly secret. Nor are
Sacred Books wanting to the Sect ; these they call
Fashionable Novels : however, the Canon is not com-
pleted, and some are canonical and others not.

"Of such Sacred Books, I, not without expense,
procured myself some samples ; and in hope of true
insight, and with the zeal which beseems an Inquirer
into Clothes, sent to interpret and study them. But
wholly to no purpose : that tough faculty of reading,
for which the world will not refuse me credit, was here
for the first time foiled and set at naught. In vain that
I summoned my whole energies (mich weidlich an-
slrengle), and did my very utmost ; at the end of some
short space, I was uniformly seized with not so much
what I can call a drumming in my ears, as a kind of
infinite, unsufferable Jew's-harping and scrannel-piping
there ; to which the frightfullest species of Magnetic


Sleep soon supervened. And if I strove to shake this
away, and absolutely would not yield, there came a
hitherto unfelt sensation, as of Delirium Tremens, and
a melting into total deliquium : till at last, by order of
the Doctor, dreading- ruin to my whole intellectual and
bodily faculties, and a general breaking-up of the con-
stitution, I reluctantly but determinedly forbore. Was
there some miracle at work here ; like those Fire-balls,
and supernal and infernal prodigies, which, in the case
of the Jewish Mysteries, have also more than once
scared-back the Alien ? Be this as it may, such failure
on my part, after best efforts, must excuse the imper-
fection of this sketch ; altogether incomplete, yet the
completest I could give of a Sect too singular ' to be

" Loving my own life and senses as I do, no power
shall induce me, as a private individual, to open an-
other Fashionable Novel. But luckily, in this dilemma,
comes a hand from the clouds ; whereby if not victory,
deliverance is held out to me. Round one of those
Book-packages, which the Stillschweigen 'sche Buch-
handlung is in the habit of importing from England,
come, as is usual, various waste printed-sheets (Macu-
laiur-blatler), by way of interior wrappage : into these the
Clothes-Philosopher, with a certain Mohamedan rever-
ence even for waste-paper, where curious knowledge
will sometimes hover, disdains not to cast his eye.
Readers may judge of his astonishment when on such
a defaced stray-sheet, probably the outcast fraction of
some English Periodical, such as they name Magazine,
appears something like a Dissertation on this very sub-
ject of Fashionable Novels ! It sets out, indeed, chiefly
from a Secular point of view ; directing itself, not with-
out asperity, against some to me unknown individual


named Pelham, who seems to be a Mystagogue, and
leading Teacher and Preacher of the Sect; so that,
what indeed otherwise was not to be expected in such
a fugitive fragmentary sheet, the true secret, the Reli-
gious physiognomy and physiology of the Dandiacal
Body, is nowise laid fully open there. Nevertheless,
scattered lights do from time to time sparkle out,
whereby I have endeavored to profit. Nay, in one
passage selected from the Prophecies, or Mythic The-
ogonies, or whatever they are (for the style seems very
mixed) of this Mystagogue, I find what appears to be a
Confession of Faith, or Whole Duty of Man, accord-
ing to the tenets of that Sect. Which Confession or
Whole Duty, therefore, as proceeding from a source
so authentic, I shall here arrange under Seven distinct
Articles, and in very abridged shape lay before the
German world ; therewith taking leave of this matter.
Observe also, that to avoid possibility of error, I, as
far as may be, quote literally from the Original.


' I. Coats should have nothing of the triangle about
them ; at the same time, wrinkles behind should be
carefully avoided.

' 2. The collar is a very important point : it should
be low behind, and slightly rolled.

' 3. No license of fashion can allow a man of deli-
cate taste to adopt the posterial luxuriance of a Hot-

' 4. There is safety in a swallow-tail.

'5. The good sense of a gentleman is nowhere
more finely developed than in his rings.


*6. It is permitted to mankind, under certain re-
strictions, to wear white waistcoats.

' 7. The trousers must be exceedingly tight across
the hips. '

" All which Propositions I, for the present, content
myself with modestly but peremptorily and irrevoca-
bly denying.

" In strange contrast with this Dandiacal Body
stands another British Sect, originally, as I understand,
of Ireland, where its chief seat still is ; but known also
in the main Island, and indeed everywhere rapidly
spreading. As this Sect has hitherto emitted no
Canonical Books, it remains to me in the same state of
obscurity as the Dandiacal, which has published Books
that the unassisted human faculties are inadequate to
read. The members appear to be designated by a con-
siderable diversity of names, according to their various
places of establishment : in England they are gener-
ally called the Drudge Sect ; also, unphilosophically
enough, the White Negroes; and, chiefly in scorn by
those of other communions, the Ragged-Beggar Sect.
In Scotland, again, I find them entitled Hallanshakers,
or the Stook of Duds Sect ; any individual communicant
is named Stook of Duds (that is, Shock of Rags), in
allusion, doubtless, to their professional Costume.
While in Ireland, which, as mentioned, is their grand
parent hive, they go by a perplexing multiplicity of des-
ignations, such as Bogtrotters, Redshanks, Ribbonmen,
Cottiers, Peep-of-Day Boys, Babes of the Wood, Rockites,
Poor-Slaves : which last, however, seems to be the pri-
mary and generic name ; whereto, probably enough,
the others are only subsidiary species, or slight varie-
ties ; or, at most, propagated offsets from the parent
stem, whose minute subdivisions, and shades of dif-


ference, it were here loss of time to dwell on. Enough
for us to understand, what seems indubitable, that the
original Sect is that of the Poor-Slaves : whose doctrines,
practices, and fundamental characteristics pervade and
animate the whole Body, howsoever denominated or
outwardly diversified.

" The precise speculative tenets of this Brotherhood :
how the Universe, and Man, and Man's Life, picture
themselves to the mind of an Irish Poor-Slave ; with
what feelings and opinions he looks forward on the
Future, round on the Present, back on the Past, it were
extremely difficult to specify. Something Monastic
there appears to be in their Constitution : we find them
bound by the two Monastic Vows, of Poverty and
Obedience ; whi'ch Vows, especially the former, it is
said, they observe with great strictness ; nay, as I have
understood it, they are pledged, and be it by any sol-
emn Nazarene ordination or not, irrevocably consecrated
thereto even before birth. That the third Monastic Vow,
of Chastity, is rigidly enforced among them, I find no
ground to conjecture.

" Furthermore, they appear to imitate the Dandiacal
Sect in their grand principle of wearing a peculiar Cos-
tume. Of which Irish Poor-Slave Costume no descrip-
tion will indeed be found in the present Volume ; for this
reason, that by the imperfect organ of Language it did
not seem describable. Their raiment consists of innu-
merable skirts, lappets and irregular wings, of all cloths
and of all colors ; through the labyrinthic intricacies of
which their bodies are introduced by some unknown
process. It is fastened together by a multiplex combina-
tion of buttons, thrums and skewers ; to which fre-
quently is added a girdle of leather, of hempen or even of
straw rope, round the loins. To straw rope, indeed,


they seem partial, and often wear it by way of sandals.
In head-dress they affect a certain freedom : hats with
partial brim, without crown, or with only a loose,
hinged, or valved crown ; in the former case, they some-
times invert the hat, and wear it brim uppermost, like
a University-cap, with what view is unknown.

" The name Poor-Slaves seems to indicate a Slavonic,
Polish, or Russian origin : not so, however, the inte-
rior essence and spirit of their Superstition, which rather
displays a Teutonic or Druidical character. One might
fancy them worshippers of Hertha, or the Earth : for
they dig and affectionately work continually in her
bosom ; or else, shut-up in private Oratories, meditate
and manipulate the substances derived from her ; sel-
dom looking-up towards the Heavenly Luminaries, and
then with comparative indifference. Like the Druids,
on the other hand, they live in dark dwellings ; often
even breaking their glass-windows, where they find
such, and stuffing them up with pieces of raiment, or
other opaque substances, till the fit obscurity is re-
stored. Again, like all followers of Nature- Worship,
they are liable to outbreakings of an enthusiasm rising
to ferocity ; and burn men, if not in wicker idols, yet
in sod cottages.

" In respect of diet, they have also their observances.
All Poor-Slaves are Rhizophagous (or Root-eaters) ; a
few are Ichthyophagous, and use Salted Herrings :
other animal food they abstain from ; except indeed,
with perhaps some strange inverted fragment of a
Brahminical feeling, such animals as die a natural
death. Their universal sustenance is the root named
Potato, cooked by fire alone ; and generally without
condiment or relish of any kind, save an unknown
condiment named Point, into the meaning of which I


have vainly inquired ; the victual Polatoes-and-Point
not appearing, at least not with specific accuracy of
description, in any European Cookery-Book whatever.
For drink, they use, with an almost epigrammatic
counterpoise of taste, Milk, which is the mildest of
liquors, and Potheen, which is the fiercest. This latter
I have tasted, as well as the English Blue-Ruin, and the
Scotch Whisky, analogous fluids used by the Sect in those
countries : it evidently contains some form of alcohol,
in the highest state of concentration, though disguised
with acrid oils ; and is, on the whole, the most pun-
gent substance known to me, indeed, a perfect liquid
fire. In all their Religious Solemnities, Potheen is said
to be an indispensable requisite, and largely consumed.

"An Irish Traveller, of perhaps common veracity,
who presents himself under the to me unmeaning title
of T7ie late John Bernard, offers the following sketch of
a domestic establishment, the inmates whereof, though
such is not stated expressly, appear to have been of
that faith. Thereby shall my German readers now
behold an Irish Poor-Slave, as it were with their own
eyes ; and even see him at meat. Moreover, in the
so precious waste-paper sheet above mentioned, I have
found some corresponding picture of a Dandiacal House-
hold painted by that same Dandiacal Mystagogue, or
Theogonist ; this also, by way of counterpart and con-
trast, the world shall look into.

' ' First, therefore, of the Poor-Slave, who appears like-
wise to have been a species of Innkeeper. I quote
from the original :

Poor-Slave Household.

" 'The furniture of this Caravansera consisted of
a large iron Pot, two oaken Tables, two Benches, two


Chairs, and a Potheen Noggin. There was a Loft
above (attainable by a ladder), upon which the inmates
slept ; and the space below was divided by a hurdle
into two Apartments ; the one for theii cow and pig,
the other for themselves and guests. On entering the
house we discovered the family, eleven in number, at
dinner ; the father sitting at the top, the mother at the
bottom, the children on each side, of a large oaken
Board, which was scooped-out in the middle, like a
trough, to receive the contents of their Pot of Potatoes.
Little holes were cut at equal distances to contain Salt ;
and a bowl of Milk stood on the table : all the luxuries
of meat and beer, bread, knives and dishes were dis-
pensed with.' The Poor-Slave himself, our Traveller
found, as he says, broad-backed, black-browed, of great
personal strength, and mouth from ear to ear. His
Wife was a sun-browned but well-featured woman ;
and his young ones, bare and chubby, had the appetite
of ravens. Of their Philosophical or Religious tenets or
observances, no notice or hint.

"But now, secondly, of the Dandiacal Household;
in which, truly, that often-mentioned Mystagogue and
inspired Penman himself has his abode :

Dandiacal Household.

"'A Dressing-room splendidly furnished; violet-
colored curtains, chairs and ottomans of the same hue.
Two full-length Mirrors are placed, one on each side
of a table, which supports the luxuries of the Toilet.
Several Bottles of Perfumes, arranged in a peculiar
fashion, stand upon a smaller table of mother-of-pearl :
opposite to these are placed the appurtenances of
Lavation, richly wrought in frosted silver. A Wardrobe
of Buhl is on the left ; the doors of which, being partly


open, discover a profusion of Clothes ; Shoes of a sin-
gularly small size monopolize the lower shelves. Front-
ing the wardrobe a door ajar gives some slight glimpse
of a Bathroom. Folding-doors in the background.
Enter the Author/ our Theogonist in person, 'obsequi-
ously preceded by a French Valet, in white silk Jacket
and cambric Apron.'

"Such are the two Sects which, at this moment,
divide the more unsettled portion of the British People ;
and agitate that ever-vexed country. To the eye of
the political Seer, their mutual relation, pregnant with
the elements of discord and hostility, is far from con-
soling. These two principles of Dandiacal Self-worship,
or Demon-worship, and Poor-Slavish or Drudgical
Earth-worship, or whatever that same Drudgism may
be, do as yet indeed manifest themselves under distant
and nowise considerable shapes : nevertheless, in their
roots and subterranean ramifications, they extend
through the entire structure of Society, and work un-
weariedly in the secret depths of English national Exist-
ence ; striving to separate and isolate it into two con-
tradictory, uncommunicating masses.

"In numbers, and even individual strength, the
Poor-Slaves or Drudges, it would seem, are hourly in-
creasing. The Dandiacal, again, is by nature no pros-
elytizing Sect ; but it boasts of great hereditary resources,
and is strong by union ; whereas the Drudges, split into
parties, have as yet no rallying-point ; or at best only
co-operate by means of partial secret affiliations. If,
indeed, there were to arise a Communion of Drudges,
as there is already a Communion of Saints, what
strangest effects would follow therefrom ! Dandyism
as yet affects to look-down on Drudgism : but perhaps


the hour of trial, when it will be practically seen which
ought to look down, and which up, is not so distant.

"To me it seems probable that the two Sects will
one day part England between them ; each recruiting
itself from the intermediate ranks, till there be none
left to enlist on either side. Those Dandiacal Man-
icheans, with the host of Dandyizing Christians, will
form one body : the Drudges, gathering round them
whosoever is Drudgical, be he Christian or Infidel
Pagan ; sweeping-up likewise all manner of Utilitarians,
Radicals, refractory Potwallopers, and so forth, into
their general mass, will form another. I could liken
Dandyism and Drudgism to two bottomless boiling
Whirlpools that had broken-out on opposite quarters
of the firm land : as yet they appear only disquieted,
foolishly bubbling wells, which man's art might cover-
in ; yet mark them, their diameter is daily widening :
they are hollow Cones that boil-up from the infinite
Deep, over which your firm land is but a thin crust or
rind ! Thus daily is the intermediate land crumbling-
in, daily the empire of the two Buchan-Bullers extend-
ing ; till now there is but a foot-plank, a mere film of
Land between them ; this too is washed away : and
then we have the true Hell of Waters, and Noah's
Deluge is outdeluged !

"Or better, I might call them two boundless, and
indeed unexampled Electric Machines (turned by the
'Machinery of Society'), with batteries of opposite
quality ; Drudgism the Negative, Dandyism the Posi-
tive : one attracts hourly towards it and appropriates
all the Positive Electricity of the nation (namely, the
Money thereof) ; the other is equally busy with the
Negative (that is to say the Hunger), which is equally
potent. Hitherto you see only partial transient sparkles


and sputters : but wait a little, till the entire nation is
in an electric state ; till your whole vital Electricity, no
longer healthfully Neutral, is cut into two isolated por-
tions of Positive and Negative (of Money and of
Hunger) ; and stands there bottled-up in two World-
Batteries ! The stirring of a child's finger brings the
two together ; and then What then ? The Earth is
but shivered into impalpable smoke by that Doom's-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 19 of 22)