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his place quite filled-up here, and no room for him ;
the very Napoleon, the very Byron, in some seven
years, has become obsolete, and were now a foreigner
to his Europe. Thus is the Law of Progress secured ;
and in Clothes, as in all other external things whatso-
ever, no fashion will continue.

" Of the military classes in those old times, whose
buff-belts, complicated chains and gorgets, huge churn-
boots, and other riding and fighting gear have been
bepainted in modern Romance, till the whole has
acquired somewhat of a sign-post character, I shall
here say nothing : the civil and pacific classes, less
touched upon, are wonderful enough for us.

" Rich men, I find, have Teusinke " (a perhaps un-
translatable article) ; ' ' also a silver girdle, whereat
hang little bells ; so that when a man walks, it is with
continual jingling. Some few, of musical turn, have
a whole chime of bells (Glockenspiel] fastened there ;
which, especially in sudden whirls, and the other ac-
cidents of walking, has a grateful effect. Observe too
how fond they are of peaks, and Gothic-arch intersec-
tions. The male world wears peaked caps, an ell long,
which hang bobbing over the side (s chief) : their shoes
are peaked in front, also to the length of an ell, and
laced on the side with tags ; even the wooden shoes
have their ell-long noses : some also clap bells on the
peak. Further, according to my authority, the men


have breeches without seat (ohne Gesass): these they
fasten peak wise to their shirts ; and the long round
doublet must overlap them.

"Rich maidens, again, flit abroad in gowns scal-
loped out behind and before, so that back and breast
are almost bare. Wives of quality, on the other hand,
have train-gowns four or five ells in length ; which
trains there are boys to carry. Brave Cleopatras,
sailing in their silk-cloth Galley, with a Cupid for
steersman ! Consider their welts, a handbreadth thick,
which waver round them by way of hem ; the long
flood of silver buttons, or rather silver shells, from
throat to shoe, wherewith these same welt-gowns are
buttoned. The maidens have bound silver snoods
about their hair, with gold spangles, and pendant
flames (Flammeri), that is, sparkling hair-drops : but
of their mother's headgear who shall speak ? Neither
in love of grace is comfort forgotten. In winter weather
you behold the whole fair creation (that can afford it)
in long mantles, with skirts wide below, and, for hem,
not one but two sufficient handbroad welts ; all ending
atop in a thick well-starched Ruff, some twenty inches
broad : these are their Ruff-mantles (Krag en-mantel).

"As yet among the womankind hoop-petticoats are
not ; but the men have doublets of fustian, under
which lie multiple ruffs of cloth, pasted together with
batter (mil Teig zusammengekleisterf), which create pro-
tuberance enough. Thus do the two sexes vie with
each other in the art of Decoration ; and as usual the
stronger carries it."

Our Professor, whether he have humor himself or

not ; manifests a certain feeling of the Ludicrous, a

sly observance of it, which, could emotion of any kind

be confidently predicated of so still a man, we might



call a real love. None of those bell-girdles, bushel-
breeches, cornuted shoes, or other the like phenomena,
of which the History of Dress offers so many, escape
him : more especially the mischances, or striking ad-
ventures, incident to the wearers of such, are noticed
with due fidelity. Sir Walter Raleigh's fine mantle,
which he spread in the mud under Queen Elizabeth's
feet, appears to provoke little enthusiasm in him ; he
merely asks, Whether at that period the Maiden Queen
" was red-painted on the nose, and white-painted on
the cheeks, as her tirewomen, when from spleen and
wrinkles she would no longer look in any glass, were
wont to serve her ? " We can answer that Sir Walter
knew well what he was doing, and had the Maiden
Queen been stuffed parchment dyed in verdigris, would
have done the same.

Thus too, treating of those enormous habiliments,
that were not only slashed and gallooned, but artifi-
cially swollen-out on the broader parts of the body, by
introduction of Bran, our Professor fails not to com-
ment on that luckless Courtier, who having seated him-
self on a chair with some projecting nail on it, and
therefrom rising, to pay his devoir on the entrance of
Majesty, instantaneously emitted several pecks of dry
wheat-dust .\and stood there diminished to a spindle,
his galloons and slashes dangling sorrowful and flabby
round him. Whereupon the Professor publishes this
reflection :

" By what strange chances do we live in History ?
Erostratus by a torch ; Milo by a bullock ; Henry
Darnley, an unfledged booby and bustard, by his limbs ;
most Kings and Queens by being born under such and
such a bed-tester ; Boileau Despreaux (according to
Helvetius) by the peck of a turkey ; and this ill-starred


individual by a rent in his breeches, for no Memoirist
of Kaiser Otto's Court omits him. Vain was the prayer
of Themistocles for a talent of Forgetting : my Friends,
yield cheerfully to Destiny, and read since it is written."
Has Teufelsdrockh to be put in mind that, nearly re-
lated to the impossible talent of Forgetting, stands that
talent of Silence, which even travelling Englishmen
manifest ?

"The simplest costume," observes our Professor,
"which I anywhere find alluded to in History, is that
used as regimental, by Bolivar's Cavalry, in the late
Columbian wars. A square Blanket, twelve feet in diag-
onal, is provided (some were wont to cut-off the cor-
ners, and make it circular) : in the centre a slit is ef-
fected eighteen inches long ; through this the mother-
naked Trooper introduces his head and neck ; and so
rides shielded from all weather, and in battle from
many strokes (for he rolls it about his left arm) ; and
not only dressed, but harnessed and draperied."

With which picture of a State of Nature, affecting by
its singularity, and Old-Roman contempt of the super-
fluous, we shall quit this part of our subject



IF in the Descriptive-Historical portion of this Volume,
Teufelsdrockh, discussing merely the Werden (Origin
and successive Improvement) of Clothes, has astonished
many a reader, much more will he in the Speculative-
Philosophical portion, which treats of their Wirken or
Influences. It is here that the present Editor first feels
the pressure of his task ; for here properly the higher
and new Philosophy of Clothes commences : an untried
almost inconceivable region, or chaos ; in venturing
upon which, how difficult, yet how unspeakably impor-
tant, is it to know what course, of survey and conquest,
is the true one ; where the footing is firm substance
and will bear us, where it is hollow, or mere cloud, and
may ingulf us ! Teufelsdrockh undertakes no less than
to expound the moral, political, even religious Influences
of Clothes ; he undertakes to make manifest, in its
thousandfold bearings this grand Proposition, that Man's
earthly interests " are all hooked and buttoned together,
and held up, by Clothes." He says in so many words,
" Society is founded upon Cloth ; " and again,
"Society sails through the Infinitude on Cloth, as on a
Faust's Mantle, or rather like the Sheet of clean and
unclean beasts in the Apostle's Dream ; and without
such Sheet or Mantle, would sink to endless depths,
or mount to inane limboes, and in either case be no


By what chains, or indeed infinitely complected
tissues, of Meditation this grand Theorem is here un-
folded, and innumerable practical Corollaries are drawn
therefrom, it were perhaps a mad ambition to attempt
exhibiting. Our Professor's method is not, in any case,
that of common school Logic, where the truths all
stand in a row, each holding by the skirts of the other ;
but at best that of practical Reason, proceeding by
large Intuition over whole systematic groups and king-
doms ; whereby, we might say, a noble complexity,
almost like that of Nature, reigns in his Philosophy, or
spiritual Picture of Nature : a mighty maze, yet, as
faith whispers, not without a plan. Nay we complained
above, that a certain ignoble complexity, what we must
call mere confusion, was also discernible. Often, also,
we have to exclaim : Would to Heaven those same
Biographical Documents were come ! For it seems as
if the demonstration lay much in the Author's individu-
ality ; as if it were not Argument that had taught him,
but Experience. At present it is only in local glimpses,
and by significant fragments, picked often at wide-
enough intervals from the original Volume, and care-
fully collated, that we can hope to impart some outline
or foreshadow of this Doctrine. Readers of any intelli-
gence are once more invited to favor us with their most
concentrated attention : let these, after intense consid-
eration, and not till then, pronounce, Whether on the
utmost verge of our actual horizon there is not a loom-
ing as of Land ; a promise of new Fortunate Islands,
perhaps whole undiscovered Americas, for such as have
canvas to sail thither ? As exordium to the whole,
stand here the following long citation :

"With men of a speculative turn," writes Teufels-
drockh, "there come seasons, meditative, sweet, yet


awful hours, when in wonder and fear you ask yourself
that unanswerable question : Who am // the thing
that can say ' ' I " (das Wesen das sich ICH nennt] ?
The world, with its loud trafficking, retires into the dis-
tance ; and, through the paper-hangings, and stone-
walls, and thick-plied tissues of Commerce and Polity,
and all the living and lifeless integuments (of Society
and a Body), wherewith your Existence sits surrounded,
the sight reaches forth into the void Deep, and you
are alone with the Universe, and silently commune
with it, as one mysterious Presence with another.

" Who am I ; what is this ME ? A Voice, a Motion,
an Appearance; some embodied, visualized Idea in
the Eternal Mind ? Cogito, ergo sum. Alas, poor Cogi-
tator, this takes us but a little way. Sure enough, I am ;
and lately was not : but Whence ? How ? Whereto ?
The answer lies around, written in all colors and motions,
uttered in all tones of jubilee and wail, in thousand-
figured, thousand-voiced, harmonious Nature : but
where is the cunning eye and ear to whom that God-
written Apocalypse will yield articulate meaning ? We
sit as in a boundless Phantasmagoria and Dream-grotto ;
boundless, for the faintest star, the remotest century,
lies n^t even nearer the verge thereof: sounds and
many-colored visions flit round our sense ; but Him, the
Unslumbering, whose work both Dream and Dreamer
are, we see not ; except in rare half-waking moments,
suspect not. Creation, says one, lies before us, like a
glorious Rainbow ; but the Sun that made it lies behind
us, hidden from us. Then, in that strange Dream, how
we clutch at shadows as if they were substances ; and
sleep deepest while fancying ourselves most awake !
Which of your Philosophical Systems is other than a
dream-theorem ; a net quotient, confidently given out,


where divisor and dividend are both unknown? What
are all your national Wars, with their Moscow Retreats,
and sanguinary hate-filled Revolutions, but the Som-
nambulism of uneasy Sleepers? This Dreaming, this
Somnambulism is what we on Earth call Life ; wherein
the most indeed undoubtingly wander, as if they knew
right hand from left ; yet they only are wise who know
that they know nothing.

" Pity that all Metaphysics had hitherto proved so
inexpressibly unproductive ! The secret of Man's
Being is still like the Sphinx's secret : a riddle that he
cannot rede ; and for ignorance of which he suffers
death, the worst death, a spiritual. What are your
Axioms, and Categories, and Systems, and Aphor-
isms? Words, words. High Air-castles are cunningly
built of Words, the Words well bedded also in good
Logic-mortar ; wherein however, no Knowledge will
come to lodge. The whole is greater than the part :
how exceedingly true ! Nature abhors a vacuum : how
exceedingly false and calumnious ! Again, Nothing
can act but where it is : with all my heart ; only, WHERE
is it ? Be not the slave of Words : is not the Distant,
the Dead, while I love it, and long for it, and mourn for
it, Here, in the genuine sense, as truly as the floor I
stand on ? But that same WHERE, with its brother
WHEN, are from the first the master-colors of our Dream-
grotto ; say rather, the Canvas (the warp and woof
thereof) whereon all our Dreams and Life-visions are
painted. Nevertheless, has not a deeper meditation
taught certain of every climate and age, that the WHERE
and WHEN, so mysteriously inseparable from all our
thoughts, are but superficial terrestrial adhesions to
thought ; that the Seer may discern them where they
mount up out of the celestial EVERYWHERE and FOREVER :


have not all nations conceived their God as Omni-
present and Eternal ; as existing in a universal HERE,
an everlasting Now ? Think well, thou too wilt find
that Space is but a mode of our human Sense, so like-
wise Time ; there is no Space and no Time : WE are
we know not what ; light-sparkles floating in the aether
of Deity !

"So that this so solid-seeming World, after all, were
but an air-image, our ME the only reality : and Nature,
with its thousandfold production and destruction, but
the reflex of our own inward Force, the " phantasy of
our Dream ; " or what the Earth-Spirit in Faust names
it, the living visible Garment of God :

'' ' In Being's floods, in Action's storm,
I walk and work, above, beneath,
Work and weave in endless motion !

Birth and Death,

An infinite ocean ;

A seizing and giving

The fire of Living :

'Tis thus at the roaring Loom of Time I ply,
And weave for God the Garment thou seest Him by.'

Of twenty millions that have read and spouted this
thunder-speech of the Erdgeist, are there yet twenty
units of us that have learned the meaning thereof?

' ' It was in some such mood, when wearied and for-
done with these high speculations, that I first came upon
the question of Clothes. Strange enough, it strikes me, is
this same fact of there being Tailors and Tailored. The
Horse I ride has his own whole fell : strip him of the
girths and flaps and extraneous tags I have fastened
round him, and the noble creature is his o-wn sempster
and weaver and spinner; nay his own boot-maker,


jeweller, and man-milliner ; he bounds free through
the valleys, with a perennial rainproof court-suit on his
body ; wherein warmth and easiness of fit have reached
perfection ; nay, the graces also have been considered,
and frills and fringes, with gay variety of color, featly
appended, and ever in the right place, are not wanting.
While I good Heaven ! have thatched myself over
with the dead fleeces of sheep, the bark of vegetables,
the entrails of worms, the hides of oxen or seals, the
felt of furred beasts ; and walk abroad a moving Rag-
screen, overheaped with shreds and tatters raked from
the Charnel-house of Nature, where they -would have
rotted, to rot on me more slowly ! Day after day, I
must thatch myself anew ; day after day, this despic-
able thatch must lose some film of its thickness ;
some film of it, frayed away by tear and wear, must
be brushed-off into the Ashpit, into the Laystall ; till
by degrees the whole has been brushed thither, and I,
the dust-making, patent Rag-grinder, get new material
to grind down. O subter-brutish ! vile ! most vile !
For have not I too a compact all-enclosing Skin, whiter
or dingier? Am I a botched mass of tailors' and cob-
blers' shreds, then ; or a tightly-articulated, homoge-
neous little Figure, automatic, nay alive ?

"Strange enough how creatures of the human-kind
shut their eyes to plainest facts ; and by the mere
inertia of Oblivion and Stupidity, live at ease in the
midst of Wonder and Terrors. But indeed man is, and
was always, a blockhead and dullard ; much readier
to feel and digest, than to think and consider. Prej-
udice, which he pretends to hate, is his absolute law-
giver ; mere use-and-wont everywhere leads him by
the nose ; thus let but a Rising of the Sun, let but a
Creation of the World happen twice and it ceases to be


marvellous, to be noteworthy, or noticeable. Perhaps
not once in a lifetime does it occur to your ordinary
biped, of any country or generation, be he gold mantled
Prince orrusset-jerkined Peasant, that his Vestments and
his Self are not one and indivisible ; that he is naked,
without vestments, till he buy or steal such, and by
forethought sew and button them.

"For my own part, these considerations, of our
Clothes-thatch, and how, reaching inwards even to our
heart of hearts, it tailorizes and demoralizes us, fill me
with a certain horror at myself and mankind ; almost
as one feels at those Dutch Cows, which, during the
wet season, you see grazing deliberately with jackets
and petticoats (of striped sacking), in the meadows of
Gouda. Nevertheless there is something great in the
moment when a man first strips himself of adventitious
wrappages ; and sees indeed that he is naked, and, as
Swift has it, 'a forked straddling animal with bandy
legs ; ' yet also a Spirit, and unutterable Mystery of




LET no courteous reader take offence at the opinions
broached in the conclusion of the last Chapter. The
Editor himself, on first glancing over that singular pas-
sage, was inclined to exclaim : What, have we got not
only a Sansculottist, but an enemy to Clothes in the
abstract ? A new Adamite, in this century, which flat-
ters itself that it is the Nineteenth, and destructive both
to Superstition and Enthusiasm ?

Consider, thou foolish Teufelsdrockh, what benefits
unspeakable all ages and sexes derive from Clothes.
For example, when thou thyself, a watery, pulpy, slob-
bery freshman and new-comer in this Planet, sattest
muling and puking in thy nurse's arms ; sucking thy
coral, and looking forth into the world in the blankest
manner, what hadst thou been without thy blankets,
and bibs, and other nameless hulls ? A terror to thy-
self and mankind ! Or hast thou forgotten the day
when thou first receivedst breeches, and thy long clothes
became short ? The village where thou livedst was all
apprised of the fact ; and neighbor after neighbor kissed
thy pudding cheek, and gave thee, as handsel, silver
or copper coins, on that the first gala-day of thy exist-
ence. Again, wert not thou, at one period of life, a
Buck, or Blood, or Macaroni, or Incroyable, or Dandy,


or by whatever name, according to year and place,
such phenomenon is distinguished ? In that one word
lie included mysterious volumes. Nay, now when the
reign of folly is over, or altered, and thy clothes are
not for triumph but for defence, hast thou always worn
them perforce, and as a consequence of Man's Fall ;
never rejoiced in them as in a warm movable House,
a Body round thy Body, wherein that strange TrfEE of
thine sat snug, defying all variations of Climate ? Girt
with thick doubler-milled kerseys ; half-buried under
shawls and broadbrims, and overalls and mud-boots,
thy very fingers cased in doeskin and mittens, thou
hast bestrode that "Horse I ride;" and, though it
were in wild winter, dashed through the world, glory-
ing in it as if thou wert its lord. In vain did the sleet
beat round thy temples ; it lighted only on thy im-
penetrable, felted or woven, case of wool. In vain
did the winds howl, forests sounding and creaking,
deep calling unto deep, and the storms heap them-
selves together into one huge Arctic whirlpool : thou
flewest through the middle thereof, striking fire from
the highway ; wild music hummed in thy ears, thou
too wert as a "sailor of the air ; " the wreck of matter
and the crash of worlds was thy element and pro-
pitiously wafting tide. Without Clothes, without bit
or saddle, what hadst thou been ; what had thy fleet
quadruped been ? Nature is good, but she is not the
best : here truly was the victory of Art over Nature.
A thunderbolt indeed might have pierced thee } all
short of this thou couldst defy.

Or, cries the courteous reader, has your Teufels-
drOckh forgotten what he said lately about "Aborigi-
nal Savages/' and their "condition miserable indeed?"
Would he have all this unsaid > and us betake ourselves


again to the "matted-cloak," and go sheeted in a
"thick natural fell?"

Nowise, courteous reader ! The Professor knows
full well what he is saying ; and both thou and we, in
our haste, do him wrong. If Clothes, in these times,
"so tailorizeand demoralize us," have they no redeem-
ing value ; can they not be altered to serve better ;
must they of necessity be thrown to the dogs? The
truth is, Teufelsdrockh, though a Sansculottist, is no
Adamite ; and much perhaps as he might wish to go
forth before this degenerate age "as a Sign," would no-
wise wish to do it, as those old Adamites did, in a
state of Nakedness. The utility of Clothes is altogether
apparent to him : nay, perhaps he has an insight into
their more recondite, and almost mystic qualities, what
we might call the omnipotent virtue of Clothes, such as
was never before vouchsafed to any man. For example :

"You see two individuals," he writes, "one dressed
in fine Red, the other in coarse threadbare Blue : Red
says to Blue, ' Be hanged and anatomized ; ' Blue hears
with a shudder, and (O wonder of wonders !) marches
sorrowfully to the gallows ; is there noosed-up, vibrates
his hour, and the surgeons dissect him, and fit his bones
into a skeleton for medical purposes. How is this ; or
what make ye of your Nothing can act but where it is j 3
Red has no physical hold of Blue, no clutch of him, is
nowise in contact with him : neither are those minister-
ing Sheriffs and Lord-Lieutenants and Hangmen and
Tipstaves so related to commanding Red, that he can
tug them hither and thither ; but each stands distinct
within his own skin. Nevertheless, as it is spoken, so is
it done : the articulated Word sets all hands in Action ;
and Rope and improved-drop perform their work.

" Thinking reader, the reason seems to me twofold ;


First, that Man is a Spirit, and bound by invisible bonds
to All Men; secondly, that he wears Clothes, which are
the visible emblems of that fact. Has not your Red
hanging-individual a horsehair wig, squirrel-skins, and
a plush-gown ; whereby all mortals know that he is a
JUDGE ? Society, which the more I think of it astonishes
me the more, is founded upon Cloth.

" Often in my atrabiliar moods, when I read of pom-
pous ceremonials, Frankfort Coronations, Royal Draw-
ing-rooms, Levees, Couchees ? and how the ushers
and macers and pursuivants, are all in waiting ; how
Duke this is presented by Archduke that, and Colonel
A by General B, and innumerable Bishops, Admirals,
and miscellaneous Functionaries, are advancing gal-
lantly to the Anointed Presence ; and I strive, in my
remote privacy, to form a clear picture of that solem-
nity, on a sudden, as by some enchanter's wand, the
shall I speak it ? the Clothes fly-off the whole dramatic
corps ; and Dukes, Grandees, Bishops, Generals,
Anointed Presence itself, every mother's son of them,
stand straddling there, not a shirt on them ; and I know
not whether to laugh or weep. This physical or psychi-
cal infirmity, in which perhaps I am not singular, I
have, after hesitation, thought right to publish, for the
solace of those afflicted with the like. "

Would to Heaven, say we, thou hadst thought right to
keep it secret ! Who is there now that can read the
five columns of Presentations in his Morning News-
paper without a shudder? Hypochondriac men, and
all men are to a certain extent hypochondriac, should be
more gently treated. With what readiness our fancy,
in this shattered state of the nerves, follows out the con-
sequences which Teufelsdrockh, with a devilish cool-
ness, goes on to draw ;


" What would Majesty do, could such an accident be-
fall in reality ; should the buttons all simultaneously
start, and the solid wool evaporate, in very Deed, as here
in Dream? Ach Golt ! How each skulks into the
nearest hiding-place ; their high State Tragedy (Haupt-
und Staals-Actiori) becomes a Pickleherring-Farce to

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 4 of 22)