Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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thunderpeal ; the Sun misses one of his Planets in
Space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the
Moon. Or better still, I might liken"

O, enough, enough of likenings and similitudes ; in
excess of which, truly, it is hard to say whether Teufels-
drockh or ourselves sin the more.

We have often blamed him for a habit of wire-draw-
ing and over-refining ; from of old we have been
familiar with his tendency to Mysticism and Religi-
osity, whereby in everything he was still scenting-out
Religion : but never perhaps did these amaurosis-suf-
fusions so cloud and distort his otherwise most piercing
vision, as in this of the Dandiacal Body ! Or was there
something of intended satire ; is the Professor and Seer
not quite the blinkard he affects to be ? Of an ordinary
mortal we should have decisively answered in the
affirmative ; but with a Teufelsdrockh there ever hovers
some shade of doubt. In the meanwhile, if satire were
actually intended, the case is little better. There are
not wanting men who will answer : Does your Pro-
fessor take us for simpletons ? His irony has overshot
itself : we see through it, and perhaps through him.



THUS, however, has our first Practical Inference
from the Clothes-Philosophy, that which respects
Dandies, been sufficiently drawn ; and we come now
to the second, concerning Tailors. On this latter
our opinion happily quite coincides with that of Teu-
felsdrockh himself, as expressed in the concluding
page of his Volume, to whom, therefore, we willingly
give place. Let him speak his own last words, in his
own way :

"Upwards of a century," says he, "must elapse, and
still the bleeding fight of Freedom be fought, whoso is
noblest perishing in the van, and thrones be hurled on
altars like Pelion on Ossa, and the Moloch of Iniquity
have his victims, and the Michael of Justice his martyrs,
before Tailors can be admitted to their true prerogatives
of manhood, and this last wound of suffering Humanity
be closed.

"If aught in the history of the world's blindness
could surprise us, here might we indeed pause and
wonder. An idea has gone abroad, and fixed itself
down into a wide-spreading rooted error, that Tailors
are a distinct species in Physiology, not Men, but frac-
tional Parts of a Man. Call any one a Schneider (Cutter,
Tailor), is it not, in our dislocated, hoodwinked, and
indeed delirious condition of Society, equivalent to
defying his perpetual fellest enmity? The epithet


schneider-mdssig (tailor-like) betokens an otherwise
unapproachable degree of pusillanimity : we introduce
a Tailor s Melancholy, more opprobrious than any Lep-
rosy, into our Books of Medicine ; and fable I know
not what of his generating it by living on Cabbage.
Why should I speak of Hans Sachs (himself a Shoe-
maker, or kind of Leather-Tailor), with his Schneider
mil dem Panier ? Why of Shakspeare, in his Taming
of the Shrew, and elsewhere? Does it not stand on
record that the English Queen Elizabeth, receiving a
deputation of Eighteen Tailors, addressed them with a
'Good morning, gentlemen both ! ' Did not the same
virago boast that she had a Cavalry Regiment, whereof
neither horse nor man could be injured ; her Regiment,
namely, of Tailors on Mares ? Thus everywhere is the
falsehood taken for granted, and acted on as an indis-
putable fact.

"Nevertheless, need I put the question to any
Physiologist, whether it is disputable or not ? Seems
it not at least presumable, that, under his Clothes, the
Tailor has bones and viscera, and other muscles than
the sartorious? Which function of manhood is the
Tailor not conjectured to perform? Can he not arrest
for debt ? Is he not in most countries a tax-paying
animal ?

"To no reader of this Volume can it be doubtful
which conviction is mine. Nay if the fruit of these
long vigils, and almost preternatural Inquiries, is not
to perish utterly, the world will have approximated
towards a higher Truth ; and the doctrine, which Swift,
with the keen forecast of genius, dimly anticipated,
will stand revealed in clear light : that the Tailor is not
only a Man, but something of a Creator or Divinity.
Of Franklin it was said, that ' he snatched the Thunder


from Heaven and the Sceptre from Kings : ' but which
is greater, I would ask, he that lends, or he that
snatches ? For, looking away from individual cases,
and how a man is by the Tailor new-created into a
Nobleman, and clothed not only with Wool but with
Dignity and a Mystic Dominion, is not the fair fabric
-of Society itself, with all its royal mantles and pontifi-
cal stoles, whereby, from nakedness and dismember-
ment, we are organized into Polities, into nations, and
a whole co-operating Mankind, the creation, as has
here been often irrefragably evinced, of the Tailor alone ?
What too are all Poets and moral Teachers, but a
species of Metaphorical Tailors ? Touching which
high Guild the greatest living Guild-brother has trium-
phantly asked us : ' Nay if thou wilt have it, who but
the Poet first made Gods for men ; brought them down
to us ; and raised us up to them ? '

"And this is he, whom sitting downcast, on the hard
basis of his Shopboard, the world treats with contumely,
as the ninth part of a man ! Look up, thou much-
injured one, look up with the kindling eye of hope, and
prophetic bodings of a noble better time. Too long
hast thou sat there, on crossed legs, wearing thy ankle-
joints to horn ; like some sacred Anchorite, or Catholic
Fakir, doing penance, drawing down Heaven's richest
blessings, for a world that scoffed at thee. Be of hope !
Already streaks of blue peer through our clouds ; the
thick gloom of Ignorance is rolling asunder, and it will
be Day. Mankind will repay with interest their long-
accumulated debt : the Anchorite that was scoffed at
will be worshipped ; The Fraction will become not an
Integer only, but a Square and Cube. With astonish-
ment the world will recognize that the Tailor is its
Hierophant and Hierarch, or even its God,


"As I stood in the Mosque of St. Sophia, and looked
upon these Four-and-Twenty Tailors, sewing and
embroidering that rich Cloth, which the Sultan sends
yearly for the Caaba of Mecca,! thought within myself:
How many other Unholies has your covering Art made
holy, besides this Arabian Whinstone !

"Still more touching was it when, turning the corner
of a lane, in the Scottish Town of Edinburgh, I came
upon a Signpost, whereon stood written that such and
such a one was ' Breeches-Maker to his Majesty ; ' and
stood painted the Effigies of a Pair of Leather Breeches,
and between the knees these memorable words, Sic
ITUR AD ASTRA. Was not this the martyr prison-speech
of a Tailor sighing indeed in bonds, yet sighing towards
deliverance, and prophetically appealing to a better
day ? A day of justice when the worth of Breeches
would be revealed to man, and the Scissors become
forever venerable.

"Neither, perhaps, may I now say, has his appeal
been altogether in vain. It was in this high moment,
when the soul, rent, as it were, and shed asunder, is
open to inspiring influence, that I first conceived this
Work on Clothes : the greatest I can ever hope to do ;
which has already, after long retardations, occupied, and
will yet occupy, so large a section of my Life ; and of
which the Primary and simpler Portion may here find
its conclusion."




So have we endeavored, from the enormous, amor-
phous Plum-pudding, more like a Scottish Haggis,
which HerrTeufelsdrockh had kneaded for his fellow
mortals, to pick out the choicest Plums, and present
them separately on a cover of our own. A laborious,
perhaps a thankless enterprise ; in which, however,
something of hope has occasionally cheered us, and of
which we can now wash our hands not altogether with-
out satisfaction. If hereby, though in barbaric wise,
some morsel of spiritual nourishment have been added
to the scanty ration of our beloved British world, what
nobler recompense could the Editor desire ? If it prove
otherwise, why should he murmur ? Was not this a
Task which Destiny, in any case, had appointed him ;
which having now done with, he sees his general Day's-
work so much the lighter, so much the shorter ?

Of Professor Teufelsdrockh it seems impossible to take
leave without a mingled feeling of astonishment, grati-
tude and disapproval. Who will not regret that talents,
which might have profited in the higher walks of Phi-
losophy, or in Art itself, have been so much devoted to
a rummaging among lumber-rooms ; nay, too often to
a scraping in kennels, where lost rings and diamond-
necklaces are nowise the sole conquest ? Regret is un-
avoidable ; yet censure were loss of time. To cure him
of his mad humors British Criticism would essay in vain :
enough for her if she can t by vigilance, prevent the


spreading of such among ourselves. What a result,
should this piebald, entangled, hyper-metaphorical style
of writing, not to say of thinking, become general
among our Literary men ! As it might so easily do.
Thus has not the Editor himself, working over Teufels-
drockh's German, lost much of his own English purity?
Even as the smaller whirlpool is sucked into the larger,
and made to whirl along with it, so has the lesser mind,
in this instance, been forced to become portion of the
greater, and, like it, see all things figuratively : which
habit, time and assiduous effort will be needed to eradi-

Nevertheless, wayward as our professor shows him-
self, is there any reader that can part with him in
declared enmity ? Let us confess, there is that in the
wild, much-suffering, much-inflicting man, which almost
attaches us. His attitude, we will hope and believe,
is that of a man who had said to Cant, Begone ; and
to Dilettantism, Here thou canst not be ; and to Truth,
Be thou in place of all to me : a man who had man-
fully defied the "Time-prince, "or Devil, to his face;
nay perhaps, Hannibal-like, was mysteriously conse-
crated from birth to that warfare, and now stood minded
to wage the same, by all weapons, in all places, at all
times. In such a cause, any soldier, were he but a
Polack Scythe-man, shall be welcome.

Still the question returns on us : How could a man
occasionally of keen insight, not without keen sense
of propriety, who had real Thoughts to communicate,
resolve to emit them in a shape bordering so closely
on the absurd ? Which question he were wiser than the
present Editor who should satisfactorily answer. Our
conjecture has sometimes been, that perhaps Necessity
as well as Choice was concerned in it. Seems it not



conceivable that, in a Life like our Professor's, where
so much bountifully given by Nature had in Practice
failed and misgone, Literature also would never rightly
prosper : that striving with his characteristic vehemence
to paint this and the other Picture, and ever without
success, he at last desperately dashes his sponge, full
of all colors, against the canvas, to try whether it will
paint Foam ? With all his stillness, there were perhaps
in Teufelsdrockh desperation enough for this.

A second conjecture we hazard with even less war-
ranty. It is, that Teufelsdrockh is not without some
touch of the universal feeling, a wish to proselytize.
How often already have we paused, uncertain whether
the basis of this so enigmatic nature were really Stoicism
and Despair, or Love and Hope only seared into the
figure of these ! Remarkable, moreover, is this saying
of his : " How were Friendship possible? In mutual
devotedness to the Good and True : otherwise impossi-
ble ; except as Armed Neutrality, or hollow Commer-
cial League. A man, be the Heavens ever praised, is
sufficient for himself ; yet were ten men, united in Love,
capable of being and of doing what ten thousand
singly would fail in. Infinite is the help man can
yield to man. " And now in conjunction therewith con-
sider this other : " It is the Night of the World, and still
long till it be Day : we wander amid the glimmer of
smoking ruins, and the Sun and the Stars of Heaven
are as if blotted out for a season and two immeasurable
Phantoms, HYPOCRISY and ATHEISM, with the Gowl SEN-
SUALITY, stalk abroad over the Earth, and call it theirs :
well at ease are the Sleepers for whom Existence is a
shallow Dream."

But what of the awestruck Wakeful who find it a
Reality ? Should not these unite ; since even an


authentic Spectre is not visible to Two ? In which case
were this enormous Clothes- Volume properly an enor-
mous pitchpan, which our Teufelsdrockh in his lone
watchtower had kindled, that it might flame far and
wide through the Night, and many a disconsolately
wandering spirit be guided thither to a Brother's bosom !
We say as before, with all his malign Indifference,
who knows what mad Hopes this man may harbor?

Meanwhile there is one fact to be stated here, which
harmonizes ill with such conjectures ; and, indeed,
were Teufelsdrockh made like other men, might as good
as altogether subvert it. Namely, that while the Beacon-
fire blazed its brightest, the Watchman had quitted it ;
that no pilgrim could now ask him : Watchman, what
of the Night ? Professor Teufelsdrockh, be it known,
is no longer visibly present at Weissnichtwo, but again
to all appearance lost in space ! Some time ago, the
Hofrath Heuschrecke was pleased to favor us with
another copious Epistle ; wherein much is said about
the "Population-Institute;" much repeated in praise
of the Paper-bag Documents, the hieroglyphic nature
of which our Hofrath still seems not to have surmised ;
and lastly, the strangest occurrence communicated, to
us for the first time, in the following paragraph :

" Ew. Wohlgeboren will have seen from the public
Prints, with what affectionate and hitherto fruitless so-
licitude Weissnichtwo regards the disappearance of her
Sage. Might but the united voice of Germany, pre-
vail on him to return ; nay, could we but so much as
elucidate for ourselves by what mystery he went away !
But, alas, old Lieschen experiences or affects the pro-
foundest deafness, the profoundest ignorance : in the
Wahngasse all lies swept, silent, sealed up ; the Privy
Council itself can hitherto elicit no answer.


"It had been remarked that while the agitating
news of those Parisian Three Days flew from mouth to
mouth, and dinned every ear in Weissnichtwo, Herr
Teufelsdrockh was not known at the Gans or elsewhere,
to have spoken, for a whole week, any syllable except
once these three : Es geht an (It is beginning). Shortly
after, as Ew. Wohlgeboren knows, was the public tran-
quillity here, as in Berlin, threatened by a Sedition of
the Tailors. Nor did there want Evil-wishers, or per-
haps mere desperate Alarmists, who asserted that the
closing Chapter of the Clothes-Volume was to blame.
In this appalling crisis, the serenity of our Philosopher
was indescribable ; nay, perhaps through one hum-
ble individual, something thereof might pass into
the Rath (Council) itself, and so contribute to the coun-
try's deliverance. The Tailors are now entirely pacifi-

' ' To neither of these two incidents can I attribute our
loss : yet still comes there the shadow of a suspicion
out of Paris and its Politics. For example when the
Saint- Simonian Society transmitted its Proposition hither,
and the whole Gans was one vast cackle of laughter,
lamentation and astonishment, our Sage sat mute ; and
at the end of the third evening said merely : ' Here
also are men who have discovered, not without amaze-
ment, that Man is still Man ; of which high, long-for-
gotten Truth you already see them make a false appli-
cation. ' Since then, as has been ascertained by exam-
ination of the Post-Director, there passed at least one
Letter with its Answer between the Messieurs Bazard-
Enfantin and our Professor himself ; of what tenor can
now only be conjectured. On the fifth night following,
he was seen for the last time I

"Has this invaluable man, so obnoxious to most of


the hostile Sects that convulse our Era, been spirited
away by certain of their emissaries ; or did he go forth
voluntarily to their headquarters to confer with them
and confront them ? Reason we have, at least of a
negative sort, to believe the Lost still living ; our
widowed heart also whispers that ere long he will him-
self give a sign. Otherwise, indeed, his archives must,
one day, be opened by Authority ; where much, per-
haps the Palingenesie itself, is thought to be reposited."

Thus far the Hofrath : who vanishes, as is his wont,
too like an Ignis Fatuus, leaving the dark still darker.

So that Teufelsdrockh's public History were not done,
then, or reduced to an even, unromantic, tenor : nay,
perhaps the better part thereof were only beginning ?
We stand in a region of conjectures, where substance
has melted into shadow, and one cannot be distin-
guished from the other. May time, which solves or
suppresses all problems, throw glad light on this also !
Our own private conjecture, now amounting almost to
certainty, is that, safe-moored in some stillest obscurity,
not to lie always still, Teufelsdrockh is actually in
London !

Here, however, can the present Editor, with an am-
brosial joy as of over-weariness falling into sleep, lay
down his pen. Well does he know, if human testi-
mony be worth aught, that to innumerable British
readers likewise, this is a satisfying consummation ;
that innumerable British readers consider him, during
these current months, but as an uneasy interruption to
their ways of thought and digestion ; and indicate so
much, not without a certain irritancy and even spoken
invective. For which, as for other mercies, ought not
he to thank the Upper Powers ? To one and all of you,


O irritated readers, he, with outstretched arms and
open heart, will wave a kind farewell. Thou too,
miraculous Entity, who namest thyself YORKE and
OLIVER, and with thy vivacities and genialities, with
thy ail-too Irish mirth and madness, and odor of palled
punch, makes such strange work, farewell ; long as
thou canst fare-weft ! Have we not, in the course of
Eternity, traveled some months of our Life-journey in
partial sight of one another ; have we not existed to-
gether, though in a state of quarrel ?


THIS questionable little Book was undoubtedly written
among the mountain solitudes, in 1831 ; but, owing to
impediments natural and accidental, could not, for
seven years more, appear as a Volume in England ;
and had at last to clip itself in pieces, and be content
to struggle out, bit by bit, in some courageous Magazine
that offered. Whereby now, to certain idly curious
readers, and even to myself till I make study, the in-
significant but at last irritating question, What its real
history and chronology are, is, if not insoluble, con-
siderably involved in haze.

To the first English Edition, 1838, which an Ameri-
can, or two Americans, had now opened the way for,
there was slightingly prefixed, under the title ' ' Testi-
monies of Authors," some straggle of real documents,
which, now that I find it again, sets the matter into
clear light and sequence ; and shall here, for removal
of idle stumbling-blocks and nugatory guessings from
the path of every reader, be reprinted as it stood.
(Author's Note of 1868.)


Taster to Bookseller. "The Author of Teufelsdrockh
is a person of talent ; his work displays here and there



some felicity of thought and expression, considerable
fancy and knowledge : but whether or not it would
take with the public seems doubtful. For aj'eu d'esprit
of that kind it is too long ; it would have suited better
as an essay or article than as a volume. The Author
has no great tact ; his wit is frequently heavy ; and re-
minds one of the German Baron who took to leaping on
tables, and answered that he was learning to be lively.
Is the work a translation ? "

Bookseller to Editor. "Allow me to say that such a
writer requires only a little more tact to produce a
popular as \vell as an able work. Directly on receiving
your permission, I sent your MS. to a gentleman in the
highest class of men of letters, and an accomplished
German scholar : I now enclose you his opinion, which,
you may rely upon it, is a just one ; and I have too
high an opinion of your good sense to " etc., etc. MS.
(Penes nos), London, \ ith September, 1831.


" Fraser's Magazine exhibits the usual brilliancy,
and also the " etc. " Sartor Resartus is what old Den-
nis used to call ' a heap of clotted nonsense/ mixed,
however, here and there, with passages marked by
thought and striking poetic vigor. But what does the
writer mean by ' Baphometic fire-baptism '? Why can-
not he lay aside his pedantry, and write so as to make
himself generally intelligible? We quote by way of
curiosity a sentence from the Sartor Resartus ; which
may be read either backwards or forwards, for it is
equally intelligible either way : indeed, by beginning
at the tail, and so working up to the head, we think the
reader will stand the fairest chance of getting at its


meaning : ' The fire-baptized soul, long so scathed and
thunder-riven, here feels its own freedom ; which feel-
ing is its Baphometic baptism : the citadel of its whole
kingdom it has thus gained by assault, and will keep
inexpugnable ; outwards from which the remaining
dominions, not indeed without hard battering, will
doubtless by degrees be conquered and pacificated.'
Here is a" Sun Newspaper, ist April, 1834.


"After a careful survey of the whole ground,

our belief is that no such persons as Professor Teufels-
drockh or Counselor Heuschrecke ever existed ; that
the six Paper-bags, with their China-ink inscriptions
and multifarious contents, are a mere figment of the
brain ; that the ' present Editor ' is the only person
who has ever written upon the Philosophy of Clothes ;
and that the Sartor Resartus is the only treatise that has
yet appeared upon that subject ; in short, that the
whole account of the origin of the work before us,
which the supposed Editor relates with so much gravity,
and of which we have given a brief abstract, is, in
plain English, a hum.

"Without troubling our readers at any great length
with our reasons for entertaining these suspicions, we
may remark, that the absence of all other information
on the subject, except what is contained in the work,
is itself a fact of a most significant character. The
whole German press, as well as the particular one where
the work purports to have been printed, seems to be
under the control of S tills chweig en and Co. Silence and
Company. If the Clothes-Philosophy and its author
are making so great a sensation throughout Germany


as is pretended, how happens it that the only
notice we have of the fact is contained in a few num-
bers of a monthly Magazine published at London ?
How happens it that no intelligence about the matter
has come out directly to this country ? We pique our-
selves here in New England upon knowing at least as
much of what is going on in the literary way in the old
Dutch Mother-land as our brethren of the fast-anchored
Isle ; but thus far we have no tidings whatever of the
' extensive close-printed close-meditated volume, 'which
forms the subject of this pretended commentary.
Again, we would respectfully inquire of the ' present
Editor ' upon what part of the map of Germany we are
to look for the city of Weissnichtwo ' Know-not-where,
at which place the work is supposed to have been
printed, and the Author to have resided. It has been
our fortune to visit several portions of the German ter-
ritory, and to examine pretty carefully, at different
times and for various purposes, maps of the whole ;
but we have no recollection of any such place. We
suspect that the city of Know-not-where might be called,
with at least as much propriety, Nobody-knows-where,
and is to be found in the kingdom of Nowhere. Again,
the village otEntepfuhl ' Duck-pond ' where the sup-
posed Author of the work is said to have passed his
youth, and that of Hinterschlag, where he had his
education, are equally foreign to our geography. Duck-
ponds enough there undoubtedly are in almost every

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 20 of 22)