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Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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weep at, which is the worst kind of Farce ; the tables
(according to Horace), and with them, the whole fabric
of Government, Legislation, Property, Police, and Civ-
ilized Society, are dissolved, in wails and howls."

Lives the man that can figure a naked Duke of Win-
dlestraw addressing a naked House of Lords ? Imagin-
ation, choked as in mephitic air, recoils on itself, and
will not forward with the picture. The Woolsack, the
Ministerial, the Opposition Benches infandum! infan-
dum ! And yet why is the thing impossible ? Was not
every soul, or rather every body of these Guardians
of our Liberties, naked, or nearly so, last night; "a
forked Radish with a head fantastically carved " ? And
why might he not, did our stern fate so order it, walk
out to St. Stephen's as well as into bed, in that no-
fashion ; and there, with other similar Radishes, hold
a Bed of Justice ? " Solace of those afflicted with the
like ! " Unhappy Teufelsdrockh, had man ever such a
" physical or psychical infirmity " before ? And now
how many, perhaps, may thy unparalleled confession
(which we, even to the sounder British world, and
goaded-on by Critical and Biographical duty, grudge
to reimpart) incurably infect therewith ! Art thou the
malignest of Sansculottists, or only the maddest ?

" It will remain to be examined," adds the inexorable
Teufelsdrockh, ' ' in how far the SCARECROW, as a Clothed
Person, is not also entitled to benefit of clergy, and
English trial by jury : nay, perhaps, considering his


high function (for is not he too a Defender of Property,
and Sovereign armed with the terrors of the Law ?), to a
certain royal Immunity and Inviolability ; which, how-
ever, misers and the meaner class of persons are not
always voluntarily disposed to grant him." ....
" O my Friends, we are (in Yorick Sterne's words) but
as ' turkeys driven, with a stick and red clout to the
market : ' or if some drivers, as they do in Norfolk, take
a dried bladder and put peas in it, the rattle thereof
terrifies the boldest 1 "




IT must now be apparent enough that our Professor,
as above hinted, is a speculative Radical, and of the
very darkest tinge ; acknowledging, for most part, in
the solemnities and paraphernalia of civilized Life,
which we make so much of, nothing but so many
Cloth-rags, turkey-poles, and "bladders with dried
peas." To linger among such speculations, longer than
mere Science requires, a discerning public can have no
wish. For our purposes the simple fact that such a
Naked World is possible, nay actually exist (under the
Clothed one), will be sufficient. Much, therefore, we
omit about " Kings wrestling naked on the green with
Carmen," and the Kings being thrown : "dissect them
with scalpels, " says Teufelsdrockh ; ' ' the same viscera,
tissues? livers, lights, and other life-tackle, are there :
examine their spiritual mechanism ; the same great
Need, great Greed, and little Faculty ; nay ten to one
but the Carman, who understands draught-cattle, the
rimming of wheels, something of the laws of unstable
and stable equilibrium, with other branches of wagon-
science, and has actually put forth his hand and oper-
ated on Nature, is the more cunningly gifted of the two.
Whence, then, their so unspeakable difference ? From
Clothes. " Much also we shall omit about confusion of


Ranks, and Joan and My Lady, and how it would be
everywhere " Hail fellow well met," and Chaos were
come again : all which to any one that has once fairly
pictured-out the grand mother-idea, Society in a slate of
Nakedness, will spontaneously suggest itself. Should
some sceptical individual still entertain doubts whether
in a world without Clothes, the smallest Politeness,
Polity, or even Police, could exist, let him turn to the
original Volume, and view there the boundless Ser-
bonian Bog of Sansculottism, stretching sour and pesti-
lential : over which we have lightly flown ; where not
only whole armies but whole nations might sink ! If
indeed the following argument, in its brief riveting
emphasis, be not of itself incontrovertible and final :

"Are we Opossums ; have we natural Pouches, like
the Kangaroo? Or how, without Clothes, could we
possess the master-organ, soul's seat, and true pineal
gland of the Body Social : I mean, a PURSE ? "

Nevertheless it is impossible to hate Professor Teu-
felsdrockh ; at worst, one knows not whether to hate
or to love him. For though, in looking at the fair
tapestry of human Life, with its royal and even sacred
figures, he dwells not on the obverse alone, but here
chiefly on the reverse ; and indeed turns out the rough
seams, tatters, and manifold thrums of that unsightly
wrong-side, with an almost diabolic patience and in-
difference, which must have sunk him in the estimation
of most readers, there is that within which unspeak-
ably distinguishes him from all other past and present
Sansculottists. The grand unparalleled peculiarity of
Teufelsdrockh is, that with all this Descendentalism,
he combines a Transcendentalism, no less superlative ;
whereby if on the one hand he degrade man belpw
most animals, except those jacketed Gouda Cows, he,


on the other, exalts him beyond the visible Heavens,
almost to an equality with the Gods.

"To the eye of vulgar Logic," says he, "what is
man? An omnivorous Biped that wears Breeches. To
the eye of Pure Reason what is he ? A Soul, a Spirit,
and divine Apparition. Round his mysterious ME,
there lies, under all those wool-rags, a Garment of
Flesh (or of Senses), contextured in the Loom of
Heaven ; whereby he is revealed to his like, and dwells
with them in UNION and DIVISION ; and sees and fashions
for himself a Universe, with azure Starry Spaces, and
long Thousands of Years. Deep-hidden is he under
that strange Garment ; amid Sounds and Colors and
Forms, as it were, swathed-in, and inextricably over-
shrouded : yet it is sky-woven, and worthy of a God.
Stands he not thereby in the center of Immensities, in
the conflux of Eternities? He feels; power has been
given him to know, to believe ; nay does not the spirit
of Love, free in its celestial primeval brightness, even
here, though but for moments, look through ? Well
said Saint Chrysostom, with his lips of gold, ' the true
SHEKINAH is Man : where else is the GOD'S-PRESENCE
manifested not to our eyes only, but to our hearts, as
in our fellow-man ? "

In such passages, unhappily too rare, the high Pla-
tonic Mysticism of our Author, which is perhaps the
fundamental element of his nature, bursts forth, as
it were, in full flood : and, through all the vapor and
tarnish of what is often so perverse, so mean in his
exterior and environment, we seem to look into a whole
inward Sea of Light and Love ; though, alas, the grim
coppery clouds soon roll together again and hide it
from view.

Such tendency to Mysticism is everywhere traceable


in this man ; and indeed, to attentive readers, must
have been long ago apparent. Nothing that he sees
but has more than a common meaning, but has two
meanings : thus if in the highest Imperial Sceptre and
Charlemagne-Mantle, as well as in the poorest Ox-goad
and Gipsy-Blanket, he finds Prose, Decay, Contempti-
bility ; there is in each sort Poetry also, and a reverend
Worth. For Matter, were it never so despicable, is
Spirit, the manifestation of Spirit : were it never so
honorable, can it be more? The thing Visible, nay.
the thing Imagined, the thing in any way conceived
as Visible, what is it but a Garment, a Clothing of the
higher, celestial Invisible, "unimaginable, formless,
dark with excess of bright?" Under which point of
view the following passage, so strange in purport, so
strange in phrase, seems characteristic enough :

"The beginning of all Wisdom is to look fixedly on
Clothes, or even with armed eyesight, till they become
transparent. ' The Philosopher, ' says the wisest of
this age, ' must station himself in the middle : ' how
true ! The Philosopher is he to whom the Highest has
descended, and the Lowest has mounted up ; who is
the equal and kindly brother of all.

"Shall we tremble before clothwebs and cobwebs,
whether woven in Arkwright looms, or by the silent
Arachnes that weave unrestingly in our imagination ?
Or, on the other hand, what is there that we cannot
love ; since all was created by God ?

" Happy he who can look through the Clothes of
a Man (the woollen, and fleshly, and official Bankpaper
and State-paper Clothes) into the Man himself; and dis-
cern, it may be, in this or the other Dread Potentate, a
more or less incompetent Digestive-apparatus ; yet also


an inscrutable venerable Mystery, in the meanest
Tinker that sees with eyes ! "

For the rest, as is natural to a man of this kind, he
deals much in the feeling of Wonder ; insists on the
necessity and high worth of universal Wonder ; which
he holds to be the only reasonable temper for the deni-
zen of so singular a Planet as ours. " Wonder," says
he, "is the basis of Worship: the reign of wonder is
perennial, indestructible in Man ; only at certain stages
(as the present), it is, for some short season, a reign
in partibus infidelium. " That progress of Science, which
is to destroy Wonder, and in its stead substitute Men-
suration and Numeration, finds small favor with
Teufelsdrockh, much as he otherwise venerates these
two latter processes.

"Shall your Science," exclaims he, " proceed in the
small chink-lighted, or even oil-lighted, underground
workshop of Logic alone ; and man's mind become an
Arithmetical Mill, whereof Memory is the Hopper, and
mere Tables of Sines and Tangents, Codification, and
Treatises of what you call Political Economy, are
the Meal ? And what is that Science, which the
scientific head alone, were it screwed off, and (like the
Doctor's in the Arabian Tale) set in a basin to keep it
alive, could prosecute without shadow of a heart, but
one other of the mechanical and menial handicrafts,
for which the Scientific Head (having a Soul in it) is
too noble an organ ? I mean that Thought without
Reverence is barren, perhaps poisonous ; at best, dies
like cookery with the day that called it forth ; does not
live, like sowing, in successive tilths and wider-spread-
ing harvests, bringing food and plenteous increase to
all time."

In such wise does Teufelsdrockh deal hits, harder or


softer, according to ability ; yet ever, as we would fain
persuade ourselves, with charitable intent. Above all,
that class of " Logic-choppers, and treble-pipe Scoffers,
and professed Enemies to Wonder ; who, in these days,
so numerously patrol as night-constables about the
Mechanics' Institute of Science, and cackle, like true
Old-Roman geese and goslings round their Capitol, on
any alarm, or on none ; nay who often, as illuminated
Sceptics, walk abroad into peaceable society, in full
daylight with rattle and lantern, and insist on guiding
you and guarding you therewith, though the Sun is
shining, and the street populous with mere justice-lov-
ing men : " that whole class is inexpressibly wearisome
to him. Hear with what uncommon animation he
perorates :

"The man who cannot wonder, who does not hab-
itually wonder (and worship), were he President of in-
numerable Royal Societies, and carried the whole M-
canique Celeste and HegeFs Philosophy, and the epitome
of all Laboratories and Observatories with their results,
in his single head, is but a Pair of Spectacles behind
which there is no Eye. Let those who have Eyes
look through him, then he may be useful.

"Thou wilt have no Mystery and Mysticism ; wilt
walk through thy world by the sunshine of what thou
callest Truth, or even by the hand-lamp of what I call
Attorney-Logic; and ' explain' all, ' account ' for all, or
believe nothing of it ? Nay, thou wilt attempt laugh-
ter ; whoso recognizes the unfathomable, all-pervading
domain of Mystery, which is everywhere under our
feet and among our hands ; to whom the Universe is
an Oracle and Temple, as well as a Kitchen and Cattle-
stall, he shall be a delirious Mystic ; to him thou,
with sniffing charity, wilt protrusively proffer thy hand-


lamp, and shriek, as one injured, when he kicks his
foot through it? Armer Tenfel ! Doth not thy cow
calve, doth not thy bull gender ? Thou thyself, wert
thou not born, wilt thou not die? 'Explain' me all
this, or do one of two things : Retire into private places
with thy foolish cackle ; or, what were better, give it
up, and weep, not that the reign of wonder is done,
and God's world all disembellished and prosaic, but
that thou hitherto art a Dilettante and sand-blind




THE Philosophy of Clothes is now to all readers, as
we predicted it would do, unfolding- itself into new
boundless expansions, of a cloud-capt, almost chimer-
ical aspect, yet not without azure loomings in the far
distance, and streaks as of an Elysian brightness ; the
highly questionable purport and promise of which it is
becoming more and more important for us to ascertain.
Is that a real Elysian brightness, cries many a timid
wayfarer, or the reflex of Pandemonian lava ? Is it of
a^ truth leading us into beatific Asphodel meadows, or
the yellow-burning marl of a Hell-on-Earth ?

Our Professor, like other Mystics, whether delirious
or inspired, gives an Editor enough to do. Ever higher
and dizzier are the heights he leads us to ; more pierc-
ing, all-comprehending, all-confounding are his views
and glances. For example, this of Nature being not an
Aggregate but a Whole :

"Well sang the Hebrew Psalmist: 'If I take the
wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts
of the universe, God is there. ' Thou thyself, O culti-
vated reader, who too probably art no Psalmist, but a
Prosaist, knowing GOD only by tradition, knowestthou
any corner of the world where at least FORCE is not ?
The drop which thou shakest from thy wet hand, rests


not where it falls, but to-morrow thou findest it swept
away ; already on the wings of the Northwind, it is
nearing the Tropic of Cancer. How came it to evap-
orate, and not lie motionless ? Thinkest thou there is
aught motionless ; without Force, and utterly dead?

"As I rode through the Schwarzwald, I said to my-
self : That little fire which glows star-like across the
dark-growing (nachtende) moor, where the sooty smith
bends over his anvil, and thou hopest to replace thy
lost horse-shoe, is- it a detached, separated speck, cut-
off from the whole Universe ; or indissolubly joined to
the whole ? Thou fool, that smithy-fire was (primarily)
kindled at the Sun ; is fed by air that circulates from
before Noah's Deluge, from beyond the Dogstar ;
therein, with Iron Force, and Coal Force, and the far
stranger Force of Man, are cunning affinities and bat-
tles and victories of Force brought about ; it is a little
ganglion, or nervous centre, in the great vital system
of Immensity. Call it, if thou wilt, an unconscious
Altar, kindled on the bosom of the All; whose iron
sacrifice, whose iron smoke and influence reach quite
through the All ; whose dingy Priest, not by word, yet
by brain and sinew, preaches forth the mystery of
Force ; nay preaches forth (exoterically enough) one
little textlet from the Gospel of Freedom, the Gospel of
Man's Force, commanding, and one day to be all-com-

"Detached, separated! I say there is no such sep-
aration : nothing hitherto was ever stranded, cast
aside ; but all, were it only a withered leaf, works to-
gether with all ; is borne forth on the bottomless,
shoreless flood of Action, and lives through perpetual
metamorphoses. The withered leaf is not dead and
lost, there are Forces in it and around it, though work-


ing in inverse order ; else how could it rot ? Despise
not the rag from which man makes Paper, or the litter
from which the earth makes Corn. Rightly viewed no
meanest object is insignificant ; all objects are as win-
dows, through which the philosophic eye looks into
Infinitude itself."

Again, leaving that wondrous Schwarzwald Smithy-
Altar, what vacant, high-sailing air-ships are these, and
whither will they sail with us ?

"All visible things are emblems ; what thou seest is
not there on its own account ; strictly taken, is not
there at all : Matter exists only spiritually, and to rep-
resent some Idea, and body it forth. Hence Clothes,
as despicable as we think them, are so unspeakably
significant. Clothes, from the King's mantle down-
wards are emblematic, not of want only, but of a man-
ifold cunning Victory over Want. On the other hand,
all Emblematic things are properly Clothes, thought-
woven or hand-woven : must not the Imagination
weave Garments, visible Bodies, wherein the else invisi-
ble creations and inspirations of our Reason are, like
Spirits, revealed, and first become all-powerful ; the
rather if, as we often see, the Hand too aid her, and
(by wool Clothes or otherwise) reveal such even to the
outward eye ?

' ' Men are properly said to be clothed with Author-
ity, clothed with Beauty, with Curses, and the like.
Nay, if you consider it, what is Man himself, and his
whole terrestrial Life, but an Emblem ; a Clothing or
visible Garment for that divine ME of his, cast hither,
like a light-particle, down from Heaven ? Thus is he
said also to be clothed with a Body.

" Language is called the Garment of Thought : how-
ever, it should rather be, Language is the Flesh-Gar-


ment, the Body, of Thought. I said that Imagination
wove this Flesh-Garment ; and does not she ? Meta-
phors are her stuff : examine Language ; what, if you
except some few primitive elements (of natural sound),
what is it all but Metaphors, recognized as such, or no
longer recognized ; still fluid and florid, or now solid-
grown and colorless ? If those same primitive elements
are the osseous fixtures in the Flesh-Garment, Language,
then are Metaphors its muscles and tissues and liv-
ing integuments. An unmetaphorical style you shall
in vain seek for : is not your very Attention a Stretching-
to t> The difference lies here : some styles are lean,
adust, wiry, the muscle itself seems osseous : some are
even quite pallid, hunger-bitten and dead-looking ;
while others again glow in the flush of health and vig-
orous self-growth, sometimes (as in my own case) not
without an apoplectic tendency. Moreover, there are
sham Metaphors, which overhanging that same
Thought's-Body (best naked), and deceptively bedizen-
ing, or bolstering it out, may be called its false stuffings,
superfluous show-cloaks (Putz- Mantel), and tawdry
woollen rags : whereof he that runs and reads may
gather whole hampers, and burn them."

Than which paragraph on Metaphors did the reader
ever chance to see a more surprisingly metaphorical ?
However, that is not our chief grievance ; the Professor
continues :

"Why multiply instances? It is written, the
Heavens and the Earth shall fade away like a Vesture ;
which indeed they are : the Time-vesture of the Eternal.
Whatsoever sensibly exists, whatsoever represents
Spirit to Spirit, is properly a Clothing, a suit of Rai-
ment, put on for a season, and to be laid off. Thus in
this one pregnant subject of CLOTHES, rightly under-


stood, is included all that men have thought, dreamed,
done, and been : the whole External Universe and what
it holds is but Clothing ; and the essence of all Science
lies in the PHILOSOPHY of CLOTHES."

Towards these dim infinitely-expanded regions, close-
bordering on the impalpable Inane, it is not without
apprehension, and perpetual difficulties, that the Editor
sees himself journeying and struggling. Till lately a
cheerful daystar of hope hung before him, in the ex-
pected Aid of Hofrath Heuschrecke ; which daystar,
however, melts now, not into the red of morning, but
into a vague, gray half-light, uncertain whether dawn
of day or dusk of utter darkness. For the last week,
these so-called Biographical Documents are in his
hand. By the kindness of a Scottish Hamburg Mer-
chant, whose name, known to the whole mercantile
world, he must not mention ; but whose honorable
courtesy, now and often before spontaneously mani-
fested to him, a mere literary stranger, he cannot soon
forget, the bulky Weissnichtwo Packet, with all its
Customhouse seals, foreign hieroglyphs, and miscel-
laneous tokens of Travel, arrived here in perfect safety,
and free of cost. The reader shall now fancy with
what hot haste it was broken up, with what breathless
expectation glanced over ; and, alas, with what unquiet
disappointment it has, since then, been often thrown
down, and again taken up.

Hofrath Heuschrecke, in a too long-winded Letter,
full of compliments, Weissnichtwo politics, dinners,
dining repartees, and other ephemeral trivialities, pro-
ceeds to remind us of what we knew well already :
that however it may be with Metaphysics, and other
abstract Science originating in the Head (Versiand)
alone, no Life-Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie), such as


this of Clothes pretends to be, which originates equally
in the Character (Gemuth) and equally speaks thereto,
can attain its significance till the Character itself is
known and seen ; " till the Author's View of the World
( Weltansichf), and how he actively and passively came
by such view, are clear : in short till a Biography of him
has been philosophico-poetically written, and philosoph-
ico-poetically read. " ' ' Nay, " adds he, ' ' were the spec-
ulative scientific Truth even known, you still, in this in-
quiring age, ask yourself, Whence came it, and Why,
and How ? and rest not, till, if no better may be, Fancy
have shaped-out an answer ; and either in the authentic
lineaments of Fact, or the forged ones of Fiction, a
complete picture and Genetical History of the Man and
his spiritual Endeavor lies before you. But why," says
the Hofrath, and indeed say we, "do I dilate on the
uses of our Teufelsdrockh's Biography? The great
Herr Minister von Goethe has penetratingly remarked
that ' Man is properly the only object that interests
man : ' thus I too have noted, that in Weissnichtwo our
whole conversation is little or nothing else but Bio-
graphy or Auto-Biography ; ever humano-anecdotical
(menschlich-anekdotiscli). Biography is by nature the
most universally profitable, universally pleasant of all
things : especially Biography of distinguished individ-

"By this time, mem Verehrtester (my Most Esteemed), "
continues he, with an eloquence which unless the
words be purloined from Teufelsdrockh, or some trick
of his, as we suspect, is well-nigh unaccountable, "by
this time you are fairly plunged (vertieff] in that mighty
forest of Clothes-Philosophy ; and looking round, as all
readers do, with astonishment enough. Such portions
and passages as you have already mastered, and


brought to paper, could not but awaken a strange
curiosity touching the mind they issued from ; the per-
haps unparalleled psychical mechanism, which man-
ufactured such matter, and emitted it to the light of
day. Had Teufelsdrockh also a father and mother ;
did he, at one time, wear drivel-bibs, and live on spoon-
meat? Did he ever, in rapture and tears, clasp a
friend's bosom to his ; looks he also wistfully into the
long burial-aisle of the Past, where only winds, and
their low harsh moan, give inarticulate answer? Has
he fought duels ; good Heaven ! how did he comport
himself when in Love ? By what singular stair-steps,
in short, and subterranean passages, and sloughs of
Despair, and steep Pisgah hills, has he reached this
wonderful prophetic Hebron (a true Old-Clothes Jewry)
where he now dwells ?

"To all these natural questions the voice of public
History is as yet silent. Certain only that he has been,
and is, a Pilgrim, and Traveller from a far Country ;
more or less footsore and travel-soiled ; has parted with
road-companions ; fallen among thieves, been poisoned
by bad cookery, blistered with bugbites ; nevertheless,
at every stage (for they have let him pass), has had
the Bill to discharge. But the whole particulars of his
Route, his Weather-observations, the picturesque
Sketches he took, though all regularly jotted down (in
indelible sympathetic-ink by an invisible interior Pen-
man), are these nowhere forthcoming? Perhaps quite
lost : one other leaf of that mighty Volume (of human

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 5 of 22)