Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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and statistic knowledge, and the vivid way he had of
expressing himself like an eye-witness of distant trans-
actions and scenes, they called him the Ewige Jude,
Everlasting, or as we say, Wandering Jew.

To the most, indeed, he had become not so much a
Man as a Thing; which Thing doubtless they were
accustomed to see, and with satisfaction ; but no more
thought of accounting for than for the fabrication of
their daily Allgemeine Zeitung, or the domestic habits
of the Sun. Both were there and welcome ; the world
enjoyed what good was in them, and thought no more
of the matter. The man Teufelsdrockh passed and re-
passed, in his little circle, as one of those originals and
nondescripts, more frequent in German Universities
than elsewhere ; of whom, though you see them alive,
and feel certain enough that they must have a History,
no History seems to be discoverable ; or only such as
men give of mountain rocks and antediluvian ruins :
That they have been created by unknown agencies, are
in a state of gradual decay, and for the present reflect
light and resist pressure ; that is, are visible and tan-
gible objects in this phantasm world, where so much
other mystery is.

It was to be remarked that though, by title and di-
ploma, Professor der Allerley- Wissenschaft, or as we
should say in English, " Professor of Things in Gen-
eral," he had never delivered any Course ; perhaps
never been incited thereto by any public furtherance
or requisition. To all appearance, the enlightened


Government of Weissnichtwo, in founding their New
University, imagined they had done enough, if, " in
times like ours," as the half-official Program expressed
it, " when all things are rapidly or slowly, resolving
themselves into Chaos, a Professorship of this kind had
been established ; whereby, as occasion called, the
task of bodying somewhat forth again from such Chaos
might be, even slightly, facilitated. " That actual Lect-
ures should be held, and Public Classes for the " Sci-
ence of Things in General," they doubtless considered
premature ; on which ground too they had only estab-
lished the Professorship, nowise endowed it ; so that
Teufelsdrockh, ' ' recommended by the highest Names, "
had been promoted thereby to a Name merely.

Great, among the more enlightened classes, was the ad-
miration of this new Professorship : how an enlightened
Government had seen into the Want of the Age (Zeitbe-
durfniss) ; how at length, instead of Denial and De-
struction, we were to have a science of Affirmation
and Reconstruction ; and Germany and Weissnichtwo
were where they should be, in the vanguard of the
world. Considerable also was the wonder at the new
Professor, dropt opportunely enough into the nascent
University ; so able to lecture, should occasion call ;
so ready to hold his peace for indefinite periods, should
an enlightened Government consider that occasion did
not call. But such admiration and such wonder, being
followed by no act to keep them living, could last only
nine days ; and, long before our visit to that scene,
had quite died away. The more cunning heads
thought it was all an expiring clutch at popularity, on
the part of a Minister, whom domestic embarrassments,
court intrigues, old age, and dropsy soon afterwards
finally drove from the helm.


As for Teufelsdrockh, except by his nightly appear-
ances at the Griine Gans, Weissnichtwo saw little of
him, felt little of him. Here, over his tumbler of Guk-
guk, he sat reading Journals ; sometimes contempla-
tively looking into the clouds of his tobacco-pipe, with-
out other visible employment : always, from his mild
ways, an agreeable phenomenon there ; more espe-
cially when he opened his lips for speech ; on which
occasions the whole Coffee-house would hush itself in-
to silence, as if sure to hear something noteworthy.
Nay, perhaps to hear a whole series and river of the
most memorable utterances ; such as, when once
thawed, he would for hours indulge in, with fit audi-
ence : and the more memorable, as issuing from a
head apparently not more interested in them, not more
conscious of them, than is the sculptured stone head of
some public fountain, which through its brass mouth-
tube emits water to the worthy and the unworthy ;
careless- whether it be for cooking victuals or quench-
ing conflagrations ; indeed, maintains the same earnest
assiduous look, whether any water be flowing or not.

To the Editor of these sheets, as to a young enthusi-
astic Englishman, however unworthy, Teufelsdrockh
opened himself perhaps more than to the most. Pity
only that we could not then half guess his importance,
and scrutinize him with due power of vision ! We
enjoyed, what not three men in Weissnichtwo could
boast of, a certain degree of access to the Professor's
private domicile. It was the attic floor of the highest
house in the Wahngasse ; and might truly be called
the pinnacle of Weissnichtwo, for it rose sheer up
above the contiguous roofs, themselves rising from
elevated ground. Moreover, with its windows it
looked towards all the four Orte, or as the Scotch say,


and we ought to say, Airts : the sitting-room itself
commanded three ; another came to view in the
Schlafgemach (bedroom) at the opposite end ; to say
nothing of the kitchen, which offered two, as it were,
duplicates, and showing nothing new. So that it was
in fact the speculum or watch-tower of Teufelsdrockh ;
wherefrom, sitting at ease, he might see the whole
life-circulation of that considerable City ; the streets and
lanes of which, with all their doing and driving (Thun
und Treiben), were for the most part visible there.
" I look down into all that wasp-nest or bee-hive,"
have we heard him say, "and witness their wax-lay-
ing and honey-making, and poison-brewing, and chok-
ing by sulphur. From the Palace esplanade, where
music plays while Serene Highness is pleased to eat
his victuals, down to the low lane, where in her door-
sill the aged widow, knitting for a thin livelihood, sits
to feel the afternoon sun, I see it all ; for, except the
Schlosskirche weathercock, no biped stands so high.
Couriers arrive bestrapped and bebooted, bearing Joy
and Sorrow bagged-up in pouches of leather : there,
topladen, and with four swift horses, rolls-in the coun-
try Baron and his household ; here, on timber-leg, the
lamed Soldier hops painfully along, begging alms : a
thousand carriages, and wains and cars, come tum-
bling-in with Food, with young Rusticity, and other
Raw Produce, inanimate or animate, and go tumbling
out again with Produce manufactured. That living
flood, pouring through these streets, of all qualities and
ages, knowest thou whence it is coming, whither it is
going? Aus der Ewigkeit, zu der Ewigkeit hin : From
Eternity, onwards to Eternity ! These are Appari-
tions : what else ? Are they not Souls rendered visi-
ble : in Bodies, that took shape and will lose it, melt-


ing into air ? Their solid Pavement is a Picture of the
Sense ; they walk on the bosom of Nothing, blank
Time is behind them and before them. Or fanciest
thou, the red and yellow Clothes-screen yonder, with
spurs on its heels and feather in its crown, is but of
To-day, without a Yesterday or a To-morrow ; and
had not rather its Ancestor alive when Hengst and
Horsa overran thy Island ? Friend, thou seest here a
living link in that Tissue of History, which inweaves
all Being : watch well, or it will be past thee, and seen
no more."

"Achmet'n, Lieber/" said he once, at midnight, when
we had returned from the Coffee-house in rather ear-
nest talk, " it is a true sublimity to dwell here. These
fringes of lamplight, struggling up through smoke and
thousandfold exhalation, some fathoms into the an-
cient reign of Night, what thinks Bootes of them, as he
leads his Hunting-Dogs over the Zenith in their leash
of sidereal fire ? That stifled hum of Midnight, when
Traffic has lain down to rest ; and the chariot-wheels
of Vanity, still rolling here and there through distant
streets, are bearing her to Halls roofed-in, and lighted
to the due pitch for her ; and only Vice and Misery, to
prowl or to moan like nightbirds, are abroad : that
hum, I say, like the stertorous, unquiet slumber of
sick Life, is heard in Heaven ! Oh, under that hide-
ous coverlet of vapors, and putrefactions, and unim-
aginable gases, what a Fermenting-vat lies simmering
and hid ! The joyful and the sorrowful are there ;
men are dying there, men are being born ; men are
praying, on the other side of a brick partition, men
are cursing ; and around them all is the vast, void
Night. The proud Grandee still lingers in his per-
fumed saloons, or reposes within damask curtains ;


Wretchedness cowers into truckle-beds, or shivers hun-
ger-stricken into its lair of straw : in obscure cellars,
Rouge-et-Noir languidly emits its voice-of-destiny to
haggard hungry Villains ; while Councillors of State
sit plotting, and playing their high chess-game, where-
of the pawns are Men. The Lover whispers his mis-
tress that the coach is ready ; and she, full of hope
and fear, glides down, to fly with him over the bor-
ders : the Thief, still more silently, sets-to his pick-
locks and crowbars, or lurks in wait till the watchmen
first snore in their boxes. Gay mansions, with supper-
rooms and dancing-rooms, are full of light and music
and high-swelling hearts ; but, in the Condemned Cells,
the pulse of life beats tremulous and faint, and blood-
shot eyes look-out through the darkness, which is
around and within, for the light of a stern last morn-
ing. Six men are to be hanged on the morrow : comes
no hammering from the Rabenstein j 3 their gallows
must even now be a-building. Upwards of five-hun-
dred-thousand two-legged animals without feathers lie
round us, in horizontal positions ; their heads all in
nightcaps, and full of the foolishest dreams. Riot cries
aloud, and staggers and swaggers in his rank dens of
shame ; and the Mother, with streaming hair, kneels
over her pallid dying infant, whose cracked lips only
her tears now moisten. All these heaped and huddled
together, with nothing but a little carpentry and ma-
sonry between them ; crammed in, like salted fish in
their barrel ; or weltering, shall I say, like an Egyp-
tian pitcher of tamed vipers, each struggling to get its
head above the others : such work goes on under that
smoke-counterpane ! But I, mein werther, sit above it
all ; I am alone with the Stars. "
We looked in his face to see whether, in the utter-


ance of such extraordinary Night-thoughts, no feeling
might be traced there ; but with the light we had, which
indeed was only a single tallow-light, and far enough
from the window, nothing save that old calmness and
fixedness was visible.

These were the Professor's talking seasons : most
commonly he spoke in mere monosyllables, or sat alto-
gether silent and smoked ; while the visitor had lib-
erty either to say what he listed, receiving for answer
an occasional grunt ; or to look round for a space,
and then take himself away. It was a strange apart-
ment ; full of books and tattered papers, and miscel-
laneous shreds of all conceivable substances, "united
in a common element of dust." Books lay on tables,
and below tables ; here fluttered a sheet of manu-
script, there a torn handkerchief, or nightcap hastily
thrown aside; ink-bottles alternated with bread-crusts,
coffee-pots, tobacco-boxes, Periodical Literature, and
Bliicher Boots. Old Lieschen (Lisekin, 'Liza), who
was his bed-maker and stove-lighter, his washer and
wringer, cook, errand-maid, and general lion's-provider,
and for the rest a very orderly creature, had no sover-
eign authority in this last citadel of Teufelsdrockh ;
only some once in the month she half-forcibly made
her way thither, with broom and duster, and (Teufels-
drockh hastily saving his manuscripts) effected a par-
tial clearance, a jail-delivery of such lumber as was
not Literary. These were her Erdbeben (earthquakes),
which Teufelsdrockh dreaded worse than the pestilence ;
nevertheless, to such length he had been forced to
comply. Glad would he have been to sit here philos-
ophizing forever, or till the litter, by accumulation,
drove him out of doors : but Lieschen was his right-
arm, and spoon, and necessary of life, and would not


be flatly gainsaid. We can still remember the ancient
woman ; so silent that some thought her dumb ; deaf
also you would often have supposed her ; for Teufels-
drockh, and Teufelsdrockh only, would she serve or
give heed to ; and with him she seemed to communi-
cate chiefly by signs ; if it were not rather by some
secret divination that she guessed all his wants, and
supplied them. Assiduous old dame ! she scoured,
and sorted, and swept, in her kitchen, with the least
possible violence to the ear; yet all was tight and
right there : hot and black came the coffee ever at
the due moment ; and the speechless Lieschen herself
looked out on you, from under her clean white coif
with its lappets, through her clean withered face and
wrinkles, with a look of helpful intelligence, almost of

Few strangers, as above hinted, had admittance
hither : the only one we ever saw there, ourselves ex-
cepted, was the Hofrath Heuschrecke, already known,
by name and expectation, to the readers of these pages.
To us, at that period, Herr Heuschrecke seemed one
of those purse-mouthed, crane-necked, clean-brushed,
pacific individuals, perhaps sufficiently distinguished in
society by this fact, that, in dry weather or in wet,
"they never appear without their umbrella." Had we
not known with what "little wisdom " the world is
governed ; and how, in Germany as elsewhere, the
ninety-and-nine Public Men can for most part be but
mute train-bearers to the hundredth, perhaps but stalk-
ing-horses and willing or unwilling dupes, it might
have seemed wonderful how Herr Heuschrecke should
be named a Rath, or Councillor, and Counsellor, even
in Weissnichtwo. What counsel to any man, or to any
woman, could this particular Hofrath give ; in whose


loose, zigzag figure ; in whose thin visage, as it went
jerking to and fro, in minute incessant fluctuation,
you traced rather confusion worse confounded ; at
most, Timidity and physical Cold ? Some indeed said
withal, he was "the very Spirit of Love embodied:"
blue earnest eyes, full of sadness and kindness ; purse
ever open, and so forth ; the whole of which, we shall
now hope, for many reasons, was not quite ground-
less. Nevertheless friend Teufelsdrockh's outline, who
indeed handled the burin like few in these cases, was
probably the best : Er hat Gemiith und Gets/, hat wen-
igstens gehabt, dock ohne Organ, ohne Schicksals-Gunst;
ist gegenwdrtig aber halb-zerruttet, halberstarrt, " He
has heart and talent, at least has had such, yet with-
out fit mode of utterance, or favor of Fortune ; and
so is now half-cracked, half-congealed." What the
Hofrath shall think of this when he sees it, readers
may wonder : we, safe in the stronghold of Historical
Fidelity, are careless.

The main point, doubtless, for us all, is his love of
Teufelsdrockh, which indeed was also by far the most
decisive feature of Heuschrecke himself. We are en-
bled to assert that he hung on the Professor with the
fondness of a Boswell for his Johnson. And perhaps
with the like return ; for Teufelsdrockh treated his gaunt
admirer with little out ward regard, as some half-rational
or altogether irrational friend, and at best loved him out
of gratitude and by habit. On the other hand, it was
curious to observe with what reverent kindness, and a
sort of fatherly protection, our Hofrath, being the elder,
richer, and as he fondly imagined far more practically
influential of the two, looked and tended on his little
Sage, whom he seemed to consider as a living oracle.
Let but Teufelsdrockh open his mouth, Heuschrecke's


also unpuckered itself into a free doorway, beside his
being all eye and all ear, so that nothing might be lost :
and then, at every pause in the harangue he gurgled out
his pursy chuckle of a cough-laugh (for the machin-
ery of laughter took some time to get in motion, and
seemed crank and slack), or else his twanging nasal
Bravo ! Das glaub' ich in either case, by way of heart-
iest approval. In short, if Teufelsdrockh was Dalai-
Lama, of which, except perhaps in his self-seclusion,
and god-like indifference, there was no symptom, then
might Heuschrecke pass for his chief Talapoin, to whom
no dough-pill he could knead and publish was other
than medicinal and sacred.

In such environment, social, domestic, physical, did
Teufelsdrockh, at the time of our acquaintance, and
most likely does he still, live and meditate. Here,
perched-up in his high Wahngasse watch-tower, and
often, in solitude, outwatching the Bear, it was that the
indomitable Inquirer fought all his battles with Dulness
and Darkness ; here, in all probability, that he wrote
this surprising Volume on Clothes. Additional particu-
lars : of his age, which was of that standing middle
sort you could only guess at ; of his wide surtout ; the
color of his trousers, fashion of his broad-brimmed
steeple-hat, and so forth, we might report, but do not.
The Wisest truly is, in these times, the Greatest ; so
that an enlightened curiosity, leaving Kings and such-
like to rest very much on their own basis, turns more
and more to the Philosophic Class : nevertheless, what
reader expects that, with all our writing and reporting
Teufelsdrockh could be brought home to him, till once
the Documents arrive ? His Life, Fortunes, and Bodily
Presence, are as yet hidden from us, or matter only of
faint conjecture. But, on the other hand, does not his


Soul lie enclosed in this remarkable Volume, much more
truly than Pedro Garcia's did in the buried Bag of
Doubloons ? To the soul of Diogenes Teufelsdrockh, to
his opinions, namely, on the " Origin and Influence of
Clothes," we for the present gladly return.




IT were a piece of vain flattery to pretend that this
Work on Clothes entirely contents us ; that it is not,
like all works of genius, like the very Sun, which,
though the highest published creation, or work of gen-
ius, has nevertheless black spots and troubled nebulosi-
ties amid its effulgence, a mixture of in sight, inspira-
tion, with dulness, double-vision, and even utter blind-

Without committing ourselves to those enthusiastic
praises and prophesyings of the Weissnichlwd 'sche
Anzeiger, we admitted that the Book had in a high de-
gree excited us to self-activity, which is the best effect
of any book ; that it had even operated changes in our
way of thought ; nay, that it promised to prove, as it
were, the opening of a new mine-shaft, wherein the
whole world of Speculation might henceforth dig to
unknown depths. More especially it may now be
declared that Professor Teufelsdrockh's acquirements,
patience of research, philosophic and even poetic vigor,
are here made indisputably manifest ; and unhappily no
less his prolixity and tortuosity and manifold inepti-
tude ; that, on the whole, as in opening new mine-shafts
is not unreasonable, there is much rubbish in his Book,
though likewise specimens of almost invaluable ore,


A paramount popularity in England we cannot promise
him. Apart from the choice of such a topic as Clothes,
too often the manner of treating it betokens in the
Author a rusticity and academic seclusion, unblamable,
indeed inevitable in a German, but fatal to his success
with our public.

Of good society Teufelsdrockh appears to have seen
little, or has mostly forgotten what he saw. He speaks-
out with a strange plainness ; calls many things by
their mere dictionary names. To him the Upholsterer
is no Pontiff, neither is any Drawing-room a Temple,
were it never so begilt and overhung : "a whole im-
mensity of Brussels carpets, and pier-glasses, and or-
molu," as he himself expresses it, "cannot hide from
me that such Drawing-room is simply a section of
Infinite Space, where so many God-created Souls do
for the time meet together." To Teufelsdrockh the
highest Duchess is respectable, is venerable ; but
nowise for her pearl bracelets and Malines laces ; in his
eyes, the star of a Lord is little less and little more
than the broad button of Birmingham spelter in a
Clown's smock ; ' ' each is an implement, " he says, ' ' in
its kind ; a tag for hooking-together ; and, for the rest,
was dug from the earth, and hammered on a stithy
before smith's fingers." Thus does the Professor look
in men's faces with a strange impartiality, a strange
scientific freedom ; like a man unversed in the higher
circles, like a man dropped thither from the Moon.
Rightly considered, it is in this peculiarity, running
through his whole system of thought, that all these
short-comings, over-shootings, and multiform perver-
sities, take rise : if indeed they have not a second
source, also natural enough, in his Transcendental
Philosophies, and humor of looking at all Matter and


Material things as Spirit ; whereby truly his case were
but the more hopeless, the more lamentable.

To the Thinkers of this nation, however, of which
class it is firmly believed there are individuals yet
extant, we can safely recommend the Work : nay, who
knows but among the fashionable ranks too, if it be
true, as Teufelsdrockh maintains, that "within the
most starched cravat there passes a windpipe and wea-
sand, and under the thickliest embroidered waistcoat
beats a heart," the force of that rapt earnestness may
be felt, and here and there an arrow of the soul pierce
through ? In our wild Seer, shaggy, unkempt, like a
Baptist living on locusts and wild honey, there is an
untutored energy, a silent, as it were unconscious,
strength, which, except in the higher walks of Liter-
ature, must be rare. Many a deep glance, and often
with unspeakable precision, has he cast into mysterious
Nature, and the still more mysterious Life of Man.
Wonderful it is with what cutting words, now and then,
he severs asunder the confusion ; shears down, were it
furlongs deep, into the true center of the matter ; and
there not only hits the nail on the head, but with crush-
ing force smites it home, and buries it. On the other
hand, let us be free to admit, he is the most unequal
writer breathing. Often after some such feat, he will
play truant for long pages, and go dawdling and dream-
ing, and mumbling and maundering the merest com-
monplaces, as if he were asleep with eyes open, which
indeed he is.

Of his boundless Learning, and how all reading and
literature in most known tongues, from Sanchoniathon
to Dr. Lingard, from your Oriental Shasters, and Tal-
muds, and Korans, with Cassini's Siamese Tables, and
Laplace's Mecanique Celeste, down to Robinson Crusoe


and the Belfast Town and Country Almanack, are familiar
to him, we shall say nothing : for unexampled as it is
with us, to the Germans such universality of study
passes without wonder, as a thing commendable, in-
deed, but natural, indispensable, and there of course.
A man that devotes his life to learning, shall he not be
learned ?

In respect of style our Author manifests the same
genial capability, marred too often by the same rude-
ness, inequality, and apparent want of intercourse with
the higher classes. Occasionally, as above hinted, we
find consummate vigor, a true inspiration ; his burn-
ing thoughts step forth in fit burning words, like so
many full-formed Minervas, issuing amid flame and
splendor from Jove's head ; a rich, idiomatic diction,
picturesque allusions, fiery poetic emphasis, or quaint
tricksy turns ; all the graces and terrors of a wild Im-
agination, wedded to the clearest Intellect, alternate
in beautiful vicissitude. Were it not that sheer sleeping
and soporific passages ; circumlocutions, repetitions,
touches even of pure doting jargon, so often intervene !
On the whole, Professor Teufelsdrockh is not a culti-
vated writer. Of his sentences perhaps not more than
nine-tenths stand straight on their legs ; the remainder
are in quite angular attitudes, buttressed-up by props
(of parentheses and dashes), and ever with this or the
other tagrag hanging from them ; a few even sprawl-
out helplessly on all sides, quite broken-backed and

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 2 of 22)