Thomas Carlyle.

Sartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh online

. (page 7 of 22)
Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 7 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


achievements under that "brave old Linden?" Or
even where is the use of such practical reflections as
the following? "In all the sports of Children, were
it only in their wanton breakage and defacements, you
shall discern a creative instinct (schaffenden Tn'eb) :
the Mankin feels that he is a born Man, that his voca-
tion is to work. The choicest present you can make
him ;s a Tool ; be it knife or pen-gun, for construction
or for destruction ; either way it is for Work, for Change.
In gregarious sports of skill or strength, the Boy trains
himself to Co-operation, for war t>r peace, as gov-
ernor or governed : the little Maid again, provident
of her domestic destiny, takes with preference to
Dolls."

Perhaps, however, we may give this anecdote, con-
sidering who it is that relates it : " My first short-clothes
were of yellow serge ; or rather, I should say, my first
short-cloth, for the vesture was one and indivisible,
reaching from neck to ankle, a mere body with four
limbs : of which fashion how little could I then divine
the architectural, how much less the moral signifi-
cance ! "

More graceful is the following little picture: "On
fine evenings I was wont to carry-forth my supper
(bread-crumb boiled in milk), and eat it out-of-doors.
On the coping of the Orchard-wall, which I could
reach by climbing, or still more easily if Father Andreas



94 SARTOR RESARTUS.

would set-up the pruning-ladder, my porringer was
placed : there, many a sunset, have I, looking at the
distant western Mountains, consumed, not without
relish, my evening meal. Those hues of gold and
azure, that hush of World's expectation as Day died,
were still a Hebrew Speech for me ; nevertheless I was
looking at the fair illuminated Letters, and had an eye
for their gilding. "

With ' ' the little one's friendship for cattle and poultry "
we shall not much intermeddle. It may be that here-
by he acquired a " certain deeper sympathy with ani-
mated Nature : " but when, we would ask, saw any
man, in a collection of Biographical Documents, such
apiece as this : "Impressive enough (bedeutungsvoll)
was it to hear, in early morning, the Swineherd's horn ;
and know that so many hungry happy quadrupeds
were, on all sides, starting in hot haste to join him, for
breakfast on the Heath. Or to see them at eventide,
all marching-in again, with short squeak, almost in
military order ; and each, topographically correct,
trotting-off in succession to the right or left, through
its own lane, to its own dwelling ; till old Kunz, at the
Village-head, now left alone, blew his last blast, and re-
tired for the night. We are wont to love the Hog chiefly
in the form of Ham ; yet did not these bristly thick-
skinned beings here manifest intelligence, perhaps
humor of character ; at any rate, a touching, trustful
submissiveness to Man, who, were he but a Swineherd,
in darned gabardine, and leather breeches more resem-
bling slate or discolored-tin breeches, is still the Hier-
arch of this lower world ? "

It is maintained, by Helvetius and his set, that an
infant of genius is quite the same as any other infant,
only that certain surprisingly favorable influences ag-



SARTOR RESARTUS. 95

company him through life, especially through childhood,
and expand him, while others lie closefolded and con-
tinue dunces. Herein, say they, consists the whole
difference between an inspired Prophet and a double-
barrelled Game-preserver : the inner man of the one
has been fostered into generous development ; that of
the other, crushed-down perhaps by vigor of animal
digestion, and the like, has exuded and evaporated, or
at best sleeps now irresuscitably stagnant at the bottom
of his stomach. " With which opinion," cries Teufels-
drockh, ' ' I should as soon agree as with this other,
that an acorn might, by favorable or unfavorable in-
fluences of soil and climate, be nursed into a cabbage,
or the cabbage-seed into an oak.

"Nevertheless," continues he, " I too acknowledge
the ail-but omnipotence of early culture and nurture :
hereby we have either a doddered dwarf bush, or a
high-towering, wide-shadowing tree ; either a sick yel-
low cabbage, or an edible luxuriant green one. Of a
truth, it is the duty of all men, especially of all philos-
ophers, to note-down with accuracy the characteristic
circumstances of their Education, what furthered, what
hindered, what in any way modified it : to which duty,
nowadays so pressing for many a German Autobi-
ographer, I also zealously address myself." Thou
rogue ! Is it by short-clothes of yellow" serge, and
swineherd horns, that an infant of genius is educated?
And yet, as usual, it ever remains doubtful whether he
is laughing in his sleeve at these Autobiographical times
of ours, or writing from the abundance of his own fond
ineptitude. For he continues: "If among the ever-
streaming currents of Sights, Hearings, Feelings for
Pain or Pleasure, whereby, as in. a Magic Hall, young
Gneschen went about environed, I might venture to



96 SARTOR RESARTUS.

select and specify, perhaps these following were also
of the number :

"Doubtless, as childish sports call forth Intellect,
Activity, so the young creature's Imagination was stirred
up, and a Historical tendency given him by the narra-
tive habits of Father Andreas ; who, with his battle-
reminiscences, and gray austere yet hearty patriarchal
aspect, could not but appear another Ulysses and
' much-enduring Man. ' Eagerly I hung upon his tales,
when listening neighbors enlivened the hearth; from
these perils and these travels, wild and far almost as
Hades itself, a dim world of Adventure expanded itself
within me. Incalculable also was the knowledge I ac-
quired in standing by the Old Men under the Linden-
tree : the whole of Immensity was yet new to me ; and
had not these reverend seniors, talkative enough, been
employed in partial surveys thereof for nigh fourscore
years? With amazement I began to discover that
Entepfuhl stood in the middle of a Country, of a World ;
that there was such a thing as History, as Biography ;
to which I also, one day, by hand and tongue, might
contribute.

" In a like sense worked the Poslwagen (Stage-coach),
which, slow-rolling under its mountains of men and
luggage, wended through our Village : northwards,
truly, in the dead of night ; yet southwards visibly at
eventide. Not till my eighth year did I reflect that this
Postwagen could be other than some terrestrial Moon,
rising and setting by mere Law of Nature, like the
heavenly one ; that it came on made highways, from
far cities towards far cities ; weaving them like a mon-
strous shuttle into closer and closer union. It was
then that, independently of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, I
made this not quite insignificant reflection (so true also



SARTOR RESA.RTUS. 97

in spiritual things) : Any road, this simple Enlepfuhl
road, will lead you to the end of the world !

" Why mention our Swallows, which, out of far Africa,
as I learned, threading their way over seas and mount-
ains, corporate cities and belligerent nations, yearly
found themselves, with the month of May, snug-lodged
in our Cottage Lobby ? The hospitable Father (for
cleanliness' sake) had fixed a little bracket plumb under
their nest : there they built, and caught flies, and
twittered, and bred ; and all, I chiefly, from the heart
loved them. Bright, nimble creatures, who taught you
the mason-craft ; nay. stranger still, gave you a masonic
incorporation, almost social police ? For if, by ill
chance, and when time pressed, your House fell, have
I not seen five neighborly Helpers appear next day ;
and swashing to and fro, with animated, loud, long-
drawn chirpings, and activity almost superhirundine,
complete it again before nightfall ?

" But undoubtedly the grand summary of Entepfuhl
child's-culture, where as in a funnel its manifold in-
fluences were concentrated and simultaneously poured-
down on us, was the annual Cattle-fair. Here, assem-
bling from all the four winds, came the elements of an
unspeakable hurlyburly. Nutbrown maids and nut-
brown men, all clear-washed, loud-laughing, bedizened
and beribanded ; who came for dancing, for treating,
and if possible, for happiness. Topbooted Graziers from
the North ; Swiss Brokers, Italian Drovers, also top-
booted, from the South ; these with their subalterns in
leather jerkins, leather skullcaps, and long oxgoads ;
shouting in half-articulate speech, amid the inarticu-
late barking and bellowing. Apart stood Potters from
far Saxony, with their crockery in fair rows ; Ntirnberg
Pedlers, in booths that to me seemed richer than Ormus
7



98 SARTOR RESARTUS.

bazaars ; Showmen from the Lago Maggiore ; detach-
ments of the Wiener Schub (Offscourings of Vienna)
vociferously superintending games of chance. Ballad-
singers brayed, Auctioneers grew hoarse ; cheap New
Wine (heurtger) flowed like water, still worse confound-
ing the confusion ; and high over all, vaulted, in ground-
and-lofty tumbling, a particolored Merry- Andrew, like
the genius of the place and of Life itself.

"Thus encircled by the mystery of Existence ; under
the deep heavenly Firmament ; waited-on by the four
golden Seasons, with their vicissitudes of contribution,
for even grim Winter brought its skating-matches and
shooting-matches, its snow-storms and Christmas-
carols, did the Child sit and learn. These things were
the Alphabet, whereby in aftertime he was to syllable
and partly read the grand Volume of the World : what
matters it whether such Alphabet be in large gilt letters
or in small ungilt ones, so you have an eye to read it ?
For Gneschen, eager to learn, the very act of looking
thereon was a blessedness that gilded all : his exist-
ence was a bright, soft element of Joy ; out of which,
as in Prospero's Island, wonder after wonder bodied
itself forth, to teach by charming.

"Nevertheless, I were but a vain dreamer to say,
that even then my felicity was perfect. I had, once
for all, come down from Heaven into the Earth.
Among the rainbow colors that glowed on my horizon,
lay even in childhood a dark ring of Care, as yet no
thicker than a thread, and often quite overshone ; yet
always it reappeared, nay ever waxing broader and
broader ; till in after-years it almost over-shadowed
my whole canopy, and threatened to ingulf me in final
night. It was the ring of Necessity whereby we are



SARTOR RESARTUS.



99



all begirt ; happy he for whom a kind heavenly Sun
brightens it into a ring of Duty, and plays round it with
beautiful prismatic diffractions ; yet ever, as basis and
as bourn for our whole being, it is there.

"For the first few years of our terrestrial Appren-
ticeship, we have not much work to do ; but, boarded
and lodged gratis, are set down mostly to look about
us over the workshop, and see others work, till we have
understood the tools a little, and can handle this and
that. If good Passivity alone, and not good Passivity
and good Activity together, were the thing wanted,
then was my early position favorable beyond the most
In all that respects openness of Sense, affectionate
Temper, ingenuous Curiosity, and the fostering of these,
what more could I have wished ? On the other side,
however, things went not so well. My Active Power
(Tliatkraff) was unfavorably hemmed-in ; of which mis-
fortune how many traces yet abide with me ! In an
orderly house, where the litter of children's sports is
hateful enough, your training is too stoical ; rather to
bear and forbear than to make and do. I was forbid
much : wishes in any measure bold I had to renounce ;
everywhere a strait bond of Obedience inflexibly held
me down. Thus already Freewill often came in pain-
ful collision with Necessity ; so that my tears flowed,
and at seasons the Child itself might taste that root of
bitterness, wherewith the whole fruitage of our life is
mingled and tempered.

"In which habituation to Obedience, truly, it was
beyond measure safer to err by excess than by defect.
Obedience is our universal duty and destiny ; wherein
whoso will not bend must break : too early and too
thoroughly we cannot be trained to know that Would,
in this world of ours, is as mere zero to Should, and for



100 SARTOR RESARTUS.

most part as the smallest of fractions even to Shall.
Hereby was laid for me the basis of worldly Discretion,
nay of Morality itself. Let me not quarrel with my
upbringing. It was rigorous, too frugal, compressively
secluded, everyway unscientific : yet in that very
strictness and domestic solitude might there not lie the
root of deeper earnestness, of the stem from which all
noble fruit must grow ? Above all, how unskilful so-
ever, it was loving, it was well-meant, honest ; where-
by every deficiency was helped. My kind Mother, for
as such I must ever love the good Gretchen, did me
one altogether invaluable service : she taught me, less
indeed by word than by act and daily reverent look
and habitude, her own simple version of the Christian
Faith. Andreas too attended Church ; yet more like a
parade-duty, for which he in the other world expected
pay with arrears, as, I trust, he has received ; but my
Mother, with a true woman's heart, and fine though
uncultivated sense, was in the strictest acceptation
Religious. How indestructibly the Good grows, and
propagates itself, even among the weedy entangle-
ments of Evil ! The highest whom I knew on Earth I
here saw bowed down, with awe unspeakable, before a
Higher in Heaven : such things, especially in infancy,
reach inwards to the very core of your being ; mys-
teriously does a Holy of Holies build itself into visibility
in the mysterious deeps ; and Reverence, the divinest
in man, springs forth undying from its mean envelop-
ment of Fear. Wouldst thou rather be a peasant's son
that knew, were it never so rudely, there was a God in
Heaven and in Man ; or a duke's son that only knew
there were two-and-thirty quarters on the family coach ?"
To which last question we must answer : Beware, O
Teufelsdrockh, of spiritual pride !



SARTOR RESARTUS.



CHAPTER III.

PEDAGOGY.

HITHERTO we see young Gneschen, in his indivisible
case of yellow serge, borne forward mostly on the
arms of kind Nature alone ; seated, indeed, and much
to his mind, in the terrestrial workshop, but (except his
soft hazel eyes, which we doubt not already gleamed
with a still intelligence) called upon for little voluntary
movement there. Hitherto, accordingly, his aspect is
rather generic, that of an incipient Philosopher and
Poet in the abstract ; perhaps it would puzzle Herr
Heuschrecke himself to say wherein the special
Doctrine of Clothes is as yet foreshadowed or betokened.
For with Gneschen, as with others, the Man may in-
deed stand pictured in the Boy (at least all the pigments
are there) ; yet only some half of the Man stands in the
Child, or young Boy, namely, his Passive endowment,
not his Active. The more impatient are we to discover
what figure he cuts in this latter capacity ; how, when,
to use his own words, "he understands the tools a
little, and can handle this or that," he will proceed to
handle it.

Here, however, may be the place to state that, in
much of our Philosopher's history, there is something
of an almost Hindoo character : nay perhaps in that so
well-fostered and everyway excellent "Passivity" of



102 SARTOR RESARTUS.

his, which, with no free development of the antagonist
Activity, distinguished his childhood, we may detect
the rudiments of much that, in after days, and still in
these present days, astonishes the world. For the
shallow-sighted, Teufelsdrockh is oftenest a man with-
out Activity of any kind, a No-man ; for the deep-sighted,
again, a man with Activity almost superabundant, yet
so spiritual, close-hidden, enigmatic, that no mortal can
foresee its explosions, or even when it has exploded,
so much as ascertain its significance. A dangerous,
difficult temper for the modern European ; above all,
disadvantageous in the hero of a Biography ! Now as
heretofore it will behove the Editor of these pages,
were it never so unsuccessfully, to do his endeavor.

Among the earliest tools of any complicacy which a
man, especially a man of letters, gets to handle, are his
Class-books. On this portion of his History, Teufels-
drockh looks down professedly as indifferent. Read-
ing he " cannot remember ever to have learned ;" so
perhaps had it by nature. He says generally: "Of
the insignificant portion of my Education, which de-
pended on Schools, there need almost no notice be
taken. I learned what others learn ; and kept it stored-
by in a corner of my head, seeing as yet no manner of
use in it. My Schoolmaster, a downbent, broken-
hearted, underfoot martyr, as others of that guild are,
did little for me, except discover that he could do little :
he, good soul, pronounced me a genius, fit for the
learned professions ; and that I must be sent to the
Gymnasium, and one day to the University. Mean-
while, what printed thing soever I could meet with I
read. My very copper pocket-money I laid-out on
stall-literature ; which, as it accumulated, I with my
own hands sewed into volumes. By this means was



SARTOR RESARTUS.



163



the young head furnished with a considerable miscel-
lany of things and shadows of things : History in
authentic fragments lay mingled with Fabulous chim-
eras, wherein also was reality ; and the whole not as
dead stuff, but as living pabulum, tolerably nutritive
for a mind as yet so peptic."

That the Entepfuhl Schoolmaster judged well, we
now know. Indeed, already in the youthful Gneschen
with all his outward stillness, there may have been
manifest an inward vivacity that promised much ; symp-
toms of a spirit singularly open, thoughtful, almost
poetical. Thus, to say nothing of his Suppers on the
Orchard-wall, and other phenomena of that earlier
period, have many readers of these pages stumbled, in
their twelfth year, on such reflections as the following?
"It struck me much, as I sat by the Kuhbach, one silent
noontide, and watched it flowing, gurgling, to think
how this same streamlet had flowed and gurgled,
through all changes of weather and of fortune, from be-
yond the earliest date of History. Yes, probably on
the morning when Joshua forded Jordan ; even as at
the midday when Caesar, doubtless with difficulty, swam
the Nile, yet kept his Commentaries dry, this little
Kuhbach, assiduous as Tiber, Eurotas or Siloa, was
murmuring on across the wilderness, as yet unnamed,
unseen : here, too, as in the Euphrates and the Gan-
ges, is a vein or veinlet of the grand World-circulation of
Waters, which, with its atmospheric arteries, has lasted
and lasts simply with the World. Thou fool ! Nature
alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom ; that
idle crag thou sittest on is six-thousand years of age. "
In which little thought, as in a little fountain, may
there not lie the beginning of those well-nigh unutter-
able meditations on the grandeur and mystery of TIME,



104 SARTOR RESARTUS.

and its relation to ETERNITY, which play such a part in
this Philosophy of Clothes ?

Over his Gymnasic and Academic years the Professor
by no means lingers so lyrical and joyful as over his
childhood. Green sunny tracts there are still ; but
intersected by bitter rivulets of tears, here and there
stagnating into sour marshes of discontent "With
my first view of the Hinterschlag Gymnasium," writes
he, "my evil days began. Well do I still remember
the red sunny Whitsuntide morning, when, trotting full
of hope by the side of Father Andreas, I entered the
main street of the place, and saw its steeple-clock (then
striking Eight) and Schuldthurm (Jail), and the aproned
or disaproned Burghers moving-in to breakfast : a little
dog, in mad terror, was rushing past ; for some human
imps had tied a tin-kettle to its tail ; thus did the agon-
ized creature, loud-jingling, career through the whole
length of the Borough, and become notable enough.
Fit emblem of many a Conquering Hero, to whom
Fate (wedding Fantasy to Sense, as it often elsewhere
does) has malignantly appended a tin-kettle of* Ambi-
tion, to chase him on ; which the faster he runs, urges
him th^ faster, the more loudly and more foolishly !
Fit emblem also of much that awaited myself, in that
mischievous Den ; as in the World, whereof it .was a
portion and epitome !

"Alas, the kind beech-rows of Entepfuhl were hidden
in the distance : I was among strangers, harshly, at
best indifferently, disposed towards me ; the young
heart felt, for the first time, quite orphaned and alone."
His schoolfellows, as is usual, persecuted him :
"They were Boys," he says, "mostly rude Boys, and
obeyed the impulse of rude Nature, which bids the deer-
herd fall upon any stricken hart, the duck-flock put to



S A A' TO A' RESARTUS. 16$

death any broken-winged brother or sister, and on all
hands the strong tyrannize over the weak. " He admits,
that though "perhaps in an unusual degree morally
courageous, he succeeded ill in battle, and would fain
have avoided it ; a result, as would appear, owing less
to his small personal stature (for in passionate seasons
he was "incredibly nimble"), than to his "virtuous
principles :" "if it was disgraceful to be beaten," says
he, "it was only a shade less disgraceful to have so
much as fought ; thus was I drawn two ways at once,
and in this important element of school-history, the
war-element, had little but sorrow." On the whole,
that same excellent " Passivity," so notable in Teufels-
drockh's childhood, is here visibly enough again get-
ting nourishment. "He wept often; indeed to such
a degree that he was nicknamed Der Weinende (the
Tearful), which epithet, till towards his thirteenth
year, was indeed not quite unmerited. Only at rare
intervals did the young soul burst-forth into fire-eyed
rage, and, with a stormfulness (Ungestum) under which
the boldest quailed, assert that he too had Rights of
Man, or at least of Mankin. " In all which, who does
not discern a fine flower-tree and cinnamon-tree (of
genius) nigh choked among pumpkins, reed-grass and
ignoble shrubs ; and forced if it would live, to struggle
upwards only, and not outwards ; into a height quite
sickly, and disproportion ed to its breadth ?

We find, moreover, that his Greek and Latin were
" mechanically " taught ; Hebrew scarce even mechan-
ically ; much else which they called History, Cosmog-
raphy, Philosophy, and so forth, no better than not at
all. So that, except inasmuch as Nature was still busy ;
and he himself "went about, as was of old his wont,
among the Craftsmen's workshops, there learning many



lo6 SARTOK KESAKTUS.

things"; and farther lighted on some small store of
curious reading, in Hans Wachtel the Cooper's house,
where he lodged, his time, it would appear, was
utterly wasted. Which facts the Professor has not yet
learned to look upon with any contentment. Indeed,
throughout the whole of this Bag Scorpio, \vhere we
now are, and often in the following Bag, he shows him-
self unusually animated on the matter of Education,
and not without some touch of what we might presume
to be anger.

' ' My Teachers, " says he, ' ' were hide-bound Pedants,
without knowledge of man's nature, or of boy's ; or of
aught save their lexicons and quarterly account-books.
Innumerable dead Vocables (no dead Language, for
they themselves knew no Language) they crammed into
us, and called it fostering the growth of mind. How
can an inanimate, mechanical Gerundgrinder, the like
of whom will, in a subsequent century, be manufactured
at Niirnberg out of wood and leather, foster the growth
of anything ; much more of Mind, which grows, not like
a.vegetable (by having its roots littered with etymologi-
cal compost), but like a spirit, by mysterious contact
of Spirit ; Thought kindling itself at the fire of living
Thought ? How shall he give kindling, in whose own
inward man there is no live coal, but all is burnt-out
to a dead grammatical cinder ? The Hinterschlag Pro-
fessors knew syntax enough ; and of the human soul
thus much : that it had a faculty called Memory, and
could be acted-on through the muscular integument
by appliance of birch-rods.

"Alas, so is it everywhere, so will it ever be; till
the Hodman is discharged, or reduced to hodbearing ;
and an Architect is hired and on all hands fitly en-
couraged: till communities and individuals discover.



SARTOR RESARTUS. 107

not without surprise, that fashioning the souls of a
generation by Knowledge can rank on a le'vel with
blowing their bodies to pieces by Gunpowder ; that with


1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleSartor resartus; the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh → online text (page 7 of 22)