Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

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Memory) left to fly abroad, unprinted, unpublished,
unbound up, as waste paper ; and to rot, the sport of
rainy winds ?

"No, verehrtester Herr Herausgeber, in no wise! I
here, by the unexampled favor you stand in with our



Sage, send not a Biography only, but an Autobi-
ography : at least the materials for such ; wherefrom, if
I misreckon not, your perspicacity will draw fullest in-
sight : and so the whole Philosophy and Philosopher
of Clothes will stand clear to the wondering eyes of
England, nay thence, through America, through Hin-
dostan, and the antipodal New Holland, finally con-
quer (einnehmeri) great part of this terrestrial Planet ! "

And now let the sympathizing reader judge of our
feeling when, in place of this same Autobiography
with "fullest insight," we find Six considerable PAPER-
BAGS, carefully sealed, and marked successively, in gilt
China-ink, with the symbols of the Six southern Zodia-
cal Signs, beginning at Libra ; in the inside of which
sealed Bags lie miscellaneous masses of Sheets, and
oftener Shreds and Snips, written in Professor Teufels-
drockh's scarce legible cursivschrift ; and treating of all
imaginable things under the Zodiac and above it, but
of his own personal history only at rare intervals, and
then in the most enigmatic manner.

Whole fascicles there are, wherein the Professor, or,
as he here, speaking in the third person, calls himself,
"the Wanderer," is not once named. Then again,
amidst what seems to be a Metaphysico-theological
Disquisition, "Detached Thoughts on the Steam-en-
gine," or, "The continued Possibility of Prophecy,"
we shall meet with some quite private, not unimpor-
tant Biographical fact. On certain sheets stand Dreams,
authentic or not, while the circumjacent waking Ac-
tions are omitted. Anecdotes, oftenest without date
of place or time, fly loosely on separate slips, like
Sibylline leaves. Interspersed also are long purely
Autobiographical delineations ; yet without connec-
tion, without recognizable coherence ; so unimportant,


so superfluously minute, they almost remind us of
"P. P. Clerk of this Parish." Thus does the famine of
intelligence alternate with waste. Selection, order, ap-
pears to be unknown to the Professor. In all Bags the
same imbroglio ; only perhaps in the Bag Capricorn,
and those near it, the confusion a little worse con-
founded. Close by a rather eloquent Oration, " On re-
ceiving the Doctor's-Hat," lie wash-bills, marked bezahlt
(settled). His Travels are indicated by the Street-Ad-
vertisements of the various cities he has visited ; of
which Street- Advertisements, in most living tongues,
here is perhaps the completest collection extant.

So that if the Clothes- Volume itself was too like a
Chaos, we have now instead of the solar Luminary
that should still it, the airy Limbo which by intermix-
ture will farther volatilize and discompose it T As we
shall perhaps see it our duty ultimately to deposit these
Six Paper-Bags in the British Museum, farther descrip-
tion, and all vituperation of them, may be spared.
Biography or Autobiography of Teufelsdrockh there is
clearly enough, none to be gleaned here : at most some
sketchy, shadowy fugitive likeness of him may, by un-
heard-of efforts, partly of intellect, partly of imagination
on the side of Editor and of Reader, rise up between
them. Only as a gaseous-chaotic Appendix to that
aqueous-chaotic Volume can the contents of the Six
Bags hover round us, and portions thereof be incor-
porated with our delineation of it.

Daily and nightly does the Editor sit (with green
spectacles) deciphering these unimaginable Documents
from their perplexed cursiv-schrift ; collating them with
the almost equally unimaginable Volume, which stands
in legible print. Over such a universal medley of high
and low, of hot, cold, moist and dry, is he here strug-
gling (by union of like with like, which is Method) to


build a firm Bridge for British travellers. Never perhaps
since our first Bridge-builders, Sin and Death, built
that stupendous Arch from Hell-gate to the Earth, did
any Pontifex, or Pontiff, undertake such a task as the
present Editor. For in this Arch too, leading, as we
humbly presume, far otherwards than that grand prim-
eval one, the materials are to be fished-up from the
weltering deep, and down from the simmering air, here
one mass, there another, and cunningly cemented, while
the elements boil beneath : nor is there any super-
natural force to do it with ; but simply the Diligence
and feeble thinking Faculty of an English Editor, en-
deavoring to evolve printed Creation out of a German
printed and written Chaos, wherein, as he shoots to
and fro in it, gathering, clutching, piecing the Why to
the far-distant Wherefore, his whole Faculty and Self
are like to be swallowed up.

Patiently, under these incessant toils and agitations,
does the Editor, dismissing all anger, see his otherwise
robust health declining ; some fraction of his allotted
natural sleep nightly leaving him, and little but an in-
flamed nervous-system to be looked for. What is the
use of health, or of life, if not to do some work there-
with ? And what work nobler than transplanting foreign
Thought into the barren domestic soil ; except indeed
planting Thought of your own, which the fewest are
privileged to do ? Wild as it looks, this Philosophy of
Clothes, can we ever reach its real meaning, promises
to reveal new-coming Eras, the first dim rudiments and
already-budding germs of a nobler Era, in Universal
History. Is not such a prize worth some striving ?
Forward with us, courageous reader ; be it towards
failure, or towards success 1 The latter thou sharest
with us ; the former also is not all our own,




IN a psychological point of view, it is perhaps ques-
tionable whether from birth and genealogy, how closely
scrutinized soever, much insight is to be gained. Never-
theless, as in every phenomenon the Beginning remains
always the most notable moment ; so, with regard to
any great man, we rest not till, for our scientific profit
or not, the whole circumstances of his first appearance
in this Planet, and what manner of Public Entry he
made, are with utmost completeness rendered manifest.
To the Genesis of our Clothes-Philosopher, then, be
this First Chapter consecrated. Unhappily, indeed, he
seems to be of quite obscure extraction ; uncertain, we
might almost say, whether of any : so that this Genesis
of his can properly be nothing but an Exodus (or tran-
sit out of Invisibility into Visibility) ; whereof the pre-
liminary portion is nowhere forthcoming.

" In the village of Entepfuhl," thus writes he, in the
Bag Libra, on various Papers, which we arrange with
difficulty, " dwelt Andreas Futteral and his wife ; child-
less, in still seclusion, and cheerful though now verging
towards old age. Andreas had been grenadier Sergeant,
and even regimental Schoolmaster under Frederick


the Great ; but now, quitting the halbert and ferule for
the spade and pruning-hook, cultivated a little Orchard,
on the produce of which he, Cincinnatus-like, lived not
without dignity. Fruits, the peach, the apple, the
grape, with other varieties came in their season ; all
which Andreas knew how to sell : on evenings hesmoked
largely, or read (as beseemed a regimental School-
master) , and talked to neighbors that would listen about
the Victory of Rossbach ; and how Fritz the Only (der
Einzige) had once with his own royal lips spoken to
him, had been pleased to say, when Andreas as camp-
sentinel demanded the pass-word, ' Schweig, Hund
(Peace, hound) ! ' before any of his staff-adjutants could
answer. ' Das nenri ich mir einen Konig. There is
what I call a King,' would Andreas exclaim : ' but the
smoke of Kunersdorf was still smarting his eyes.'

" Gretchen, the housewife, won like Desdemona by
the deeds rather than the looks of her now veteran
.Othello, lived not in altogether military subordination ;
for, as Andreas said, ' the womankind will not drill
(wer kann die Weiberchen dressireri) : ' nevertheless she
at heart loved him both for valor and wisdom ; to her
a Prussian grenadier Sergeant and Regiment's School-
master was little other than a Cicero and Cid : what
you see, yet cannot see over, is as good as infinite.
Nay, was not Andreas in very deed a man -of order,
courage, downrightness (Geradheif) ; that understood
Biisching's Geography, had been in the victory of Ross-
bach, and left for dead in the camisade of Hochkirch ?
The good Gretchen, for all her fretting, watched over
him and hovered round him as only a true housemother
can : assiduously she cooked and sewed and scoured
for him ; so that not only his old regimental sword and
grenadier-cap, but the whole habitation and environment


where on pegs of honor they hung, looked ever trim
and gay : a roomy painted Cottage, enbowered in fruit-
trees, and forest-trees, evergreens and honeysuckles ;
rising many-colored from amid shaven grass-plots,
flowers struggling-in through the very windows ; under
its long projecting eaves nothing but garden-tools in
methodic piles (to screen them from rain), and seats
where, especially on summer nights, a King might have
wished to sit and smoke, and call it his. Such ^.Bauer-
gut (Copyhold) hadGretchen given her veteran ; whose
sinewy arms, and long-disused gardening talent, had
made it what you saw.

"Into this umbrageous Man's-nest, one meek yellow
evening or dusk, when the Sun, hidden indeed from ter-
restrial Entepfuhl, did nevertheless journey visible and
radiant along the celestial Balance (Libra) it was that
a Stranger of reverend aspect entered, and, with grave
salutation, stood before the two rather astonished house-
mates. He was close-muffled in a wide mantle ; which
without farther parley unfolding, he deposited there-
from what seemed some Basket, overhung with green
Persian silk ; saying only : Ihr lieben Leufe, hierbringe
ein unschdtzbares Verleihen; nehmt es inaller Achi, sorg-
faltigst beniilzl es : mil hohem Lohn oder wohl mil
schweren Zinsen, wird's einsl zuriickgefordert. ' Good
Christian people here lies for you an invaluable Loan ;
take all heed thereof, in all carefulness employ it : with
high recompense, or else with heavy penalty, will it one
day be required back.' Uttering which singular words,
in a clear, bell-like, forever memorable tone, the Stran-
ger gracefully withdrew ; and before Andreas or his
wife, gazing in expectant wonder, had time to fashion
either question or answer, was clean gone. Neither
out of doors could aught of him be seen or heard ; he


had vanished in the thickets, in the dusk ; the Orchard-
gate stood quietly closed : the Stranger was gone once
and always. So sudden had the whole transaction been,
in the autumn stillness and twilight, so gentle, noiseless,
that the Futterals could have fancied it all a trick of
Imagination, or some visit from an authentic Spirit.
Only that the green-silk Basket, such as neither
Imagination nor authentic Spirits are wont to carry,
still stood visible and tangible on their little parlor-table.
Towards this the astonished couple, now with lit can-
dle, hastily turned their attention. Lifting the green
veil, to see what invaluable it hid, they descried there,
amid down and rich white wrappages, no Pitt Diamond
or Hapsburg Regalia, but, in the softest sleep, a little
red-colored Infant ! Beside it, lay a roll of gold Fried-
richs, the exact amount of which was never publicly
known ; also a Taufschein (baptismal certificate), where-
in unfortunately nothing but the Name was decipher-
able ; other document or indication none whatever.

" To wonder and conjecture was unavailing, then
and always thenceforth. Nowhere in Entepfuhl, on the
morrow or next day, did tidings transpire of any
such figure as the Stranger ; nor could the Traveller
who had passed through the neighboring Town in
coach-and-four, be connected with this Apparition
except in the way of gratuitous surmise. Meanwhile,
for Andreas and his wife, the grand practical problem
was : What to do with this little sleeping red-colored
Infant ? Amid amazements and curiosities, which had
to die away without external satisfying, they resolved,
as in such circumstances charitable prudent people
needs must, on nursing it, though with spoon-meat,
into whiteness, and if possible into manhood. The
Heavens smiled on their endeavor : thus has that same


mysterious Individual ever since had a status for him-
self in this visible Universe, some modicum of victual
and lodging and parade-ground ; and now expanded
in bulk, faculty and knowledge of good and evil, he,
as HERR DIOGENES TEUFELSDROCKH, professes or is ready
to profess, perhaps not altogether without effect, in
the new University of Weissnichtwo, the new Science
of Things in General. "

Our Philosopher declares here, as indeed we should
"think he well might, that these facts, first communicated,
by the good Gretchen Futteral, in his twelfth year,
" produced on the boyish heart and fancy a quite in-
delible impression. Who this reverend Personage," he
says, "that glided into the Orchard Cottage when the
Sun was in Libra, and then, as on spirit's wings, glided
out again, might be? An inexpressible desire, full of
love and of sadness, has often since struggled within
me to shape an answer. Ever, in my distresses and
my loneliness, has Fantasy turned, full of longing (sehn-
suchtsvoll), to that unknown Father, who perhaps far
from me, perhaps near, either way invisible, might
have taken me to his paternal bosom, there to lie
screened from many a woe. Thou beloved Father,
dost thou still, shut out from me only by thin penetrable
curtains of earthly Space, wend to and fro among the
crowd of the living ? Or art thou hidden by those far
thicker curtains of the Everlasting Night, or rather of
the Everlasting Day, through which my mortal eye and
outstretched arms need not strive to reach ? Alas, I
know not, and in vain vex myself to know. More
than once, heart-deluded, have I taken for thee this
and the other noble-looking Stranger ; and approached
him wistfully, with infinite regard ; but he too had to
repel me, he too was not thou.


"And yet, O Man born of Woman," cries the Auto-
biographer, with one of his sudden whirls, "wherein
is my case peculiar? Hadst thou, any more than I, a
Father whom thou knowest? The Andreas and Gret-
chen, or the Adam and Eve, who led thee into Life,
and for a time suckled and pap-fed thee there, whom
thounamest Father and Mother; these were, like mine,
but thy nursing-father and nursing-mother : thy true
Beginning and Father is in Heaven, whom with the
bodily eye thou shalt never behold, but only with the
spiritual. "

"The little green veil," adds he, among much simi-
lar moralizing, and embroiled discoursing, " I yet
keep ; still more inseparably the Name, Diogenes
Teufelsdrockh. From the veil can nothing be inferred :
a piece of now quite faded Persian silk, like thousands
of others. On the Name I have many times meditated
and conjectured ; but neither in this lay there any clew.
That it was my unknown Father's name I must hesi-
tate to believe. To no purpose have I searched through
all the Herald's Books, in and without the German Em-
pire, and through all manner of Subscriber-Lists (Prd-
numeranten), Militia-Rolls, and other Name-catalogues;
extraordinary names as we have in Germany, the
name Teufelsdrockh, except as appended to my own
person, nowhere occurs. Again, what may the un-
christian rather than Christian "Diogenes" mean ? Did
that reverend Basket-bearer intend, by such designa-
tion, to shadow-forth my future destiny, or his own
present malign humor ? Perhaps the latter, perhaps
both. Thou ill-starred Parent, who like an Ostrich
hadst to leave thy ill-starred offspring to be hatched
into self-support by the mere sky-influences of Chance,
can thy pilgrimage have been a smooth one ? Beset


by Misfortune thou doubtless hast been ; or indeed by
the worst figure of Misfortune, by Misconduct. Often
have I fancied how, in thy hard life-battle, thou wert
shot at, and slung at, wounded, hand-fettered, ham-
strung, browbeaten and bedevilled by the Time-Spirit
(Zeitgeist) in thyself and others, till the good soul first
given thee was seared into grim rage ; and thou hadst
nothing for it but to leave in me an indignant appeal
to the Future, and living speaking Protest against the
Devil, as that same Spirit not of the Time only, but of
Time itself, is well named ! Which Appeal and Protest,
may I now modestly add, was not perhaps quite lost
in air.

"For indeed, as Walter Shandy often insisted, there is
much, nay almost all, in Names. The Name is the
earliest Garment you wrap round the earth-visiting ME;
to which it thenceforth cleaves, more tenaciously (for
there are Names that have lasted nigh thirty centuries)
than the very skin. And now from without, what
mystic influences does it not send inwards, even to
the centre ; especially in those plastic first-times, when
the whole soul is yet infantine, soft, and the invisible
seedgrain will grow to be an all overshadowing tree !
Names ? Could I unfold the influence of Names,
which are the most important of all Clothings, I were
a second greater Trismegistus. Not only all common
Speech, but Science, Poetry itself, is no other, if thou
consider it, than a right Naming. Adam's first task
was giving names to natural Appearances : What is
ours still but a continuation of the same; be the Appear-
ances exotic-vegetable, organic, mechanic, stars, or
starry movements (as in Science) ; or (as in Poetry)
passions, virtues, calamities, God-attributes, Gods ?
In a very plain sense the Proverb says, Call one a thief,


and he will steal; in an almost similar sense may we
not perhaps say, Call one Diogenes Teufelsdrockh, and
he will open the Philosophy of Clothes?"

"Meanwhile the incipient Diogenes, like others, all
ignorant of his Why, his How, or Whereabout, was
opening his eyes to the kind Light ; sprawling-out his
ten ringers and toes ; listening, tasting, feeling; in a
word, by all his Five Senses, still more by his Sixth
Sense of Hunger, and a whole infinitude of inward,
spiritual, half-awakened Senses, endeavoring daily to
acquire for himself some knowledge of this strange
Universe where he had arrived, be his task therein
what it might. Infinite was his progress; thus in some
fifteen months, he could perform the miracle of
Speech ! To breed a fresh Soul, is it not like brooding
a fresh (celestial) Egg ; wherein as yet all is formless,
powerless ; yet by degrees organic elements and fibres
shoot through the watery albumen ; and out of vague
Sensation grows Thought, grows Fantasy and Force,
and we have Philosophies, Dynasties, nay Poetries and
Religions !

"Young Diogenes, or rather young Gneschen, for
by such diminutive had they in their fondness namec^
him, travelled forward to those high consummations,
by quick yet easy stages. The Futterals, to avoid vain
talk, and moreover keep the roll of gold Friedrichs safe,
gave-out that he was a grand-nephew ; the orphan of
some sister's daughter, suddenly deceased, in Andreas's
distant Prussian birthland ; of whom, as of her indigent
sorrowing widower, little enough was known at En-
tepfuhl. Heedless of all which, the Nursling took to
his spoon-meat, and throve. I have heard him noted
as a still infant, that kept his mind much to himself ;


above all, that seldom or never cried. He already
felt that time was precious ; that he had other work
cut-out for him than whimpering. "

Such, after utmost painful search and collation
among these miscellaneous Paper-masses, is all the
notice we can gather of Herr Teufelsdrockh's gene-
alogy. More imperfect, more enigmatic it can seem
to few readers than to us. The Professor, in whom
truly we more and more discern a certain satirical turn,
and deep under-currents of roguish whim, for the pres-
ent stands pledged in honor, so we will not doubt
him : but seems it not conceivable that, by the good
" Gretchen Futteral," or some other perhaps interested
party, he has himself been deceived? Should these
sheets, translated or not, ever reach the Entepfuhl Cir-
culating Library, some cultivated native of that district
might feel called to afford explanation. Nay, since
Books, like invisible scouts, permeate the whole habit-
able globe, and Timbuctoo itself is not safe from British
Literature, may not some Copy find out even the mys-
terious basket-bearing Stranger, who in a state of ex-
treme senility perhaps still exists ; and gently force
even him to disclose himself; to claim openly a son,
in whom any father may feel pride ?




** HAPPY season of Childhood ! " exclaims Teufels-
droekh : "Kind Nature, that art to all a bountiful
mother " that visitest the poor man's hut with auroral
radiance ; and for thy Nursling hast provided a soft
swathing of Love and infinite Hope, wherein he waxes
and slumbers, danced round (umgaukelf) by sweetest
Dreams ! If the paternal Cottage still shuts us in, its
roof still screens us ; with a Father we have as yet a
prophet, priest and king, and an Obedience that makes
us free. The young spirit has awakened out of Eter-
nity, and knows not what we mean by Time ; as yet
Time is no fast-hurrying stream, but a sportful sun-
lit ocean ; years to the chiJd are as ages : ah ! the
secret of Vicissitude, of that s)ower or quicker decay
and ceaseless down-rushing of the universal World-
fabric, from the granite mountain to the man or day-
moth, is yet unknown ; and in a motionless Universe,
we taste, what afterwards in this quick-whirling Uni-
verse is forever denied us, the balm of Rest Sleep on,
thou fair Child, for thy long rough journey is at hand !
A little while, and thou too shalt sleep no more, but
thy very dreams shall be mimic battles ; thou too, with
old Arnauld, wilt have to say in stern patience : ' Rest ?
Rest ? Shall I not have all Eternity to rest in ? ' Celes-
tial Nepenthe ! though a Pyrrhus conquer empires, and


an Alexander sack the world, he finds thee not ; and
thou hast once fallen gently, of thy own accord, on the
eyelids, on the heart of every mother's child. For as
yet, sleep and waking are one : the fair Life-garden
rustles infinite around, and everywhere is dewy fra-
grance, and the building of Hope ;which budding, if in
youth, too frostnipt, it grow to flowers, will in manhood
yield no fruit, but a prickly, bitter-rinded stone-fruit,
of which the fewest can find the kernel. "

In such rose-colored light does our Professor, as
Poets are wont, look back on his childhood ; the his-
torical details of which (to say nothing of much other
vague oratorical matter) he accordingly dwells on with
an almost wearisome minuteness. We hear of Entep-
fuhl standing "in trustful derangement" among the
woody slopes ; the paternal Orchard flanking it as ex-
treme outpost from below ; the little Kuhbach gushing
kindly by, among beech-rows, through river after river,
into the Donau, into the Black Sea, into the Atmosphere
and Universe; and how "the brave old Linden,"
stretching like a parasol of twenty ells in radius, over-
topping all other rows and clumps, towered-up from
the central Agora and Campus Martins of the Village,
like its Sacred Tree ; and how the old men sat talking
under its shadow (Gneschen often greedily listening),
and the wearied laborers reclined, and the unwearied
children sported, and the young men and maidens
often danced to flute-music. "Glorious summer twi-
light," cries Teufelsdrockh, "when the Sun, like a
proud Conqueror and Imperial Taskmaster, turned his
back, with his gold-purple emblazonry, and all his fire-
clad body-guard (of Prismatic Colors); and the tired
brickmakers of this clay Earth might steal a little frolic,
and those few meek Stars would not tell of them 1 "


Then we have long details of the Weinlesen (Vint-
age), the Harvest-Home, Christmas, and so forth ;
with a whole eycle of the Entepfuhl Children's-games,
differing apparently by mere superficial shades from
those of other countries. Concerning all which, we
shall here, for obvious reasons, say nothing. What
cares the world for our as yet miniature Philosopher's

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Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 6 of 22)