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their trade; and the mask still glares on you with its glass-eyes, in ghastly affectation of Life, some generation and half after Religion has quite withdrawn from it, and in unnoticed nooks is weaving for herself new Vestures, wherewith to reappear, and bless us, or our sons or grandsons."
more wretchedly, of Idleness, Satiety, and Over-growth. The Highest in rank, at length, without honour from the Lowest; scarcely, with a little mouthhonour, as from tavern-waiters who expect to put it in the bill. Once-sacred Symbols fluttering as empty Pageants, whereof men grudge even the expense; a World becoming dismantled in one And these are his general conclu- word, the CHURCH fallen speechless, sions.
Putting which four singular Chapters together, and alongside of them numerous hints, and even direct utterances, scattered over these Writings of his, we come upon the startling yet not quite unlooked-for conclusion, that Teufelsdröckh is one of those who consider Society, properly so called, to be as good as extinct; and that only the gregarious feelings, and old inherited habitudes, at this juncture, hold us from Dispersion, and universal national, civil, domestic, and personal war! expressly: For the last three centuries, above all for the last three quarters of a century, that same Pericardial Nervous Tissue (as we named it) of Religion, where lies the Life-essence of Society, has been smote-at and perforated, needfully and needlessly; till now it is quite rent into shreds; and Society, long pining, diabetic, consumptive, can be regarded as defunct; for those spasmodic, galvanic sprawlings are not life; neither indeed will they endure, galvanise as you may, beyond two days.
Call ye that a Society,' cries he again, where there is no longer any Social Idea extant; not so much as the Idea of a common Home, but only of a common over-crowded Lodging-house? Where each, isolated, regardless of his neighbour, turned against his neighbour, clutches what he can get, and cries 'Mine!' and calls it Peace, because, in the cut-purse and cut-throat Scramble, no steel knives, but only a far cunninger sort, can be employed? Where Friendship, Communion, has become an incredible tradition; and your holiest Sacramental Supper is a smoking Tavern Dinner, with Cook for Evangelist? Where your Priest has no tongue but for platelicking and your high Guides and Governors cannot guide; but on all hands hear it passionately proclaimed: Laissez faire; Leave us alone of your guidance, such light is darker than darkness; eat you your wages, and sleep!
"Thus, too,' continues he, 'does an observant eye discern everywhere that saddest spectacle: The Poor perishing, like neglected, foundered Draught-Cattle, of Hunger and Over-work; the Rich, still
from obesity and apoplexy; the STATE shrunken into a Police-Office, straightened to get its pay!""
Certainly this is not pleasant; but the question is not, is it pleasant, but is it true? And is it? Is all England one vast dyspeptic nightmare, where the agonising struggle may at any moment end in apoplexy and death? Or is the gloom only in the mind of the seer? To him who reads
merely for vivid imagery, declamation, odd denunciation, and prophetic wrath, these paragraphs are very grand and imposing. But for him who looks up from the volume and sees around him this land of England, where not only justice, liberty, and right, are secured, so far as human institutions can secure them for all, but where a vast proportion of the inhabitants live in such comfort, plenty, and enlightened enjoyment, as was never before known, and hardly dreamt of, by the most farseeing of past legislators; where for the rich not to practise benevolence is the contemned exception; and where, for the most part, those only who can afford it, contribute to the maintenance of the vast framework of administration which shelters from friendless;-to such a reader, Teuinjustice even the most indigent and felsdröckh's eloquence is merely a passionate lament that England is not paradise, nor all its inhabitants sages and angels.
In adopting this clothes-idea of the Germans, Carlyle reminds us of the prince in the Arabian tale who vaulted without due instruction on the enchanted horse. He turns the peg, Metaphor, that lies close to his hand before the saddle, and is presently carried, not merely off the earth, but out of human knowledge. And until he shall descry and avail himself of the other peg, Fact, lying also within reach behind the ear, he will continue
that balloon-like career, the course of which neither aeronaut nor spectators can control or predict.
To ordinary readers, these few tracings of Sartor Resartus, or Carlyle's Profession of Faith, may not be unacceptable for to many a clever and even thoughtful man the book will at first have less coherence and clearness than the Pilgrim's Progress has for an intelligent heathen. We have said nothing as yet about the peculiarities of style, nor of the continuous never-pausing stream of thought, with its rich freight of vivid imagery, which no one can consider without admiration and wonder. Our business lies at first with the philosophy which has given birth to all his works and opinions, which seems to us, on his own showing, so fruitless of result, but from which he augured such miraculous benefits. In his essay on Novalis, whom we may call the transcendent transcendentalist for he seems to have got into an eighth heaven, while the others are still in the seventh-and which was published two years before the Sartor, he tells us that "the reader would widely err who supposed that this transcendental system of metaphysics was a mere intellectual cardcastle, or logical hocus-pocus contrived from sheer idleness, and for sheer idleness without any bearing on the practical interests of men. On the contrary, however false or however true, it is the most serious in its purport of all philosophies propounded in these latter centuries; has been taught chiefly by men of the loftiest and most earnest character; and does bear with a direct and highly comprehensive influence on the most vital interests of men. To say nothing of the views it opens in regard to the course and management of what is called Natural Science, we cannot but perceive that its effects, for such as adopt it, on Morals and Religion, must in these days be of almost boundless import
of our minds, it removes a stumblingblock from the very threshold of our Theology for on this ground, when we say that the Deity is omnipresent and eternal-that with Him it is a universal Here and Now - we say nothing wonderful-nothing but that He also created Time and Spacethat Time and Space are not laws of His being, but only of ours."
We shall not stop to discuss whether the transcendental doctrines possess the magical powers which Mr Carlyle thus ascribes to them. As to the novelty of the revelations about Time and Space, we thought that not only we, but persons who existed many centuries ago, had heard something of the heavens being destined to pass away like a scroll," and a coming proclamation "that time shall be no more," which we thought, not unnaturally, had reference to the fleeting and evanescent nature of those circumstances of our existence. Whether the habit of regarding the world and its institutions as semblances must lead infallibly to a new and beneficial state of things, or whether things would not run their course in the absence of the doctrine - whether transcendental bees would make truer hexagons or higher-flavoured honey for knowing that their queen, unless a genuine great or Heroine Bee, with a proper sense of the divine significance of saccharine and farina, would be a sham and ineptitude; or whether the bees at a busy season might not take the mystical insect who propounded the idea for a drone, put him to death with many stings, and bury him and his doctrine decently out of the way are speculations which we will not here enter upon, our business being not so much with the doctrines as the use he makes of them. We will rather see how he enforces his ideas in subsequent works.
The world's affairs, he says, are to be retrieved through its heroes-and these he defines to be men who habitually rest their thoughts and acts on the eternal truths, not the evanescent appearances of things. Still that does not bring us much nearer to those eminent persons; and therefore he tells us in his Lectures on
it was a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the Almighty have lived by and died by? I will believe most things sooner than that. One would be entirely at a loss what to think of this world at all, if quackery so grew and were sanctioned here."
But in the Latter-Day Pamphlet on Jesuitism we find it written that "for some two centuries the genius of mankind has been dominated by the gospel of Ignatius, perhaps the strangest, and certainly among the fatallest ever preached hitherto under the sun 'a doctrine of devils!'”
Shall we give up Mahomet and despair of the world, or shall Ignatius be a true prophet?
Hero-Worship, how those whom he holds to be heroes have, at different periods of the world's traditions or history, been made manifest. In the pre-historic times the hero became a divinity; mankind could see his virtues with undimmed sense, and the truths he uttered in word or deed seemed of divine origin, so that in a few generations their admiration grew into worship. Next, when the world was too advanced for this, he was still received, if not as a divinity, yet as a divinely inspired man; and Mahomet was, and is, to the believing Moslem, the prophet of God. But at last all credit in divine inspiration vanished; the world would no longer believe that a man, however wise, was the mouthpiece of a higher power. When they talked of inspiration it was in a different sense; and they called the utterer of melodious wisdom, such as Dante and Shakespeare, a poet. Luther and Knox, who battled against tyrannical ministers of a superstitious creed, are the types of the Hero-Priest. But now a new influence was beginning to assert itself in the world. Ideas uttered in achievement, in prophecy, in song, in revolt against gigantic wrong, had each had their day, and literature through innumerable channels crept over the scene. As examples of those who used literary power for true lasting and important ends, we have Rousseau, Johnson, Burns (though why, unless to make the theory fit, the latter should be taken out of the category of poets and put here, we cannot imagine), with a regret, from the lecturer, that his audience were not prepared to appreciate a still greater literary hero in Goethe. Lastly, we have the hero in his commanding phase as absolute ruler of men. This is his rightful heritage; and for the situation none but Transcen- Yet why, as Mr Carlyle indusdentalists need apply. Our choice, triously infers, should this be impos therefore, is exceedingly limited-sible now? Set any limited public almost unique.
We will just pause here to note one of the little discrepancies which men of vivid imagination, with theories to get fitted, are apt to fall into. Mahomet, Mr Carlyle tells us, was a true prophet; the proof of which is that his word has endured so long. "Are we to suppose," he asks, "that
However, to resume. He has told us of many heroes in time past, but he wishes us now to have a picture of a time of such virtue in England, that a hero was not only recognised, but nominated and elected to his rightful eminence. Commenting on the old chronicle of Jocelin, a monk in the Convent of St Edmundsbury in Henry II.'s time, he gives us a most interesting, graphic, and life-like glimpse of that far time, which he takes occasion to contrast with this miserable present. But though as a commentary it is excellent, yet the inference he draws, and for the sake of which the book was written, is altogether false. He shows us how the useless old abbot of St Edmundsbury died, and the brotherhood got from the great Plantagenet a congé d'elire to choose a new one. This they accordingly effected, and in spite of influence and intrigue elected a humble and obscure brother Samson, who in his strange high office proved himself a veritable hero.
body to choose a real governor whose will should be indisputable, and why should it not be done as honestly now as in the days of the Plantagenets? Samson's predecessor Hugo does not seem to have been very veraciously chosen. Or set those men who have elected their abbot out of a brotherhood where
everybody knows everybody, to elect, as Mr Carlyle would wish, a king out of a nation, and how different a task will they find it! Where shall they look? Among all the hearsays, which shall they believe? Amid the work done that they know of, how shall they recognise the real doer? First catch your hero! One might imagine, from Mr Carlyle's talk about heroes and how blind we are to them, that those distinguished individuals walked about with tickets on their backs which nobody would read-that you had nothing to do, politically speaking, but rush into a crowd, pick out the first man labelled in transcendental characters, and fall down and worship him; and that this proceeding would supersede the necessity of extension of franchise, or any franchise at all; destroy schism in the church; dispense with the poor-laws; blot out the ballot question, and change the functions of Parliament.
If a whole kingdom should be in such a state that the national voice or its delegates could unerringly detect the true king or ablest man, what need of king at all? Here already is the most perfect of communities-self-governing, self-developing; and if any one be invested with authority more than the others, it is only as a kind of stoker, or, at most, engine-driver, to look out ahead, see that the wheels are greased, and govern the stops of the perfect self-acting machine. But, supposing this national condition impossible, where is the Constituency to come from? If the ablest man is to be elected by an assembly of able men, who is to elect the able men? Or if, by some happy concurrence of chances, they are all got together, and we have an assembly, say of Abbot Samsons, how shall we be sure that they will all agree in choosing the right Plantagenet, Willelmus Conquestor, Oliver Cromwell, or other Carlyleright-divine-absolute sovereign?
If Carlyle's visions were realised, everything must come right; for with him veracity means infallibility. It is not merely that a man shall wish to see and do the right, as many do now, whom therefore we call rightminded, or, in Carlylese, "veracious"
men, but with the wish they must also by some mysterious process acquire the power, else they are Deadsea apes, accursed, &c. And if the majority in England or elsewhere do acquire such a power, what Willelmus Conquestor, Oliver Cromwell, or Abbot Samson, is worthy to govern such a nation-indeed, what governing does such a nation require? It is no new opinion, no revelation by Mr Carlyle, that an absolute monarchy might be the best government, if you could get the right Absolute-monarch. The idea has occurred to other philosophers, and other men not philosophers; but they have generally also inquired of themselves by what process is he to be got?-in the solution of which (the main and only question) Thomas affords no light whatever, or only such effulgence as dwells in sighs, tears, denunciation, and lamentation, amid which the only thing clear is, that as soon as the Hero-King becomes possible, he will no longer be wanted.
In the Latter-Day Pamphlets he measured, by his standard of the "Divine Idea," all the prominent political questions of the day-to which, so far as we can discover its functions, it is frequently as inapplicable as a series of solar observations would be to assist a man in finding his way about London. After one of his customary lampoons upon this unfortunate present time, he takes occasion, in his strictures on "Downing Street," to quote his old friend William the Conqueror as an example of how work should be done. It seems his secretaries produced in four years the "Doomsday Book," "not wasting themselves in Parliamentary talk." "Happy secretaries!" exclaims Mr Carlyle "happy William!" Is this clap-trap or not? Does he see, or does he not, that for William all the great difficulties which beset statesmen had vanished, and in place of a blotted scrawl, he had a clean white paper to write his will on? It is not so difficult to plan a road if you can run it through any man's property, no leave asked. It is not so difficult to make laws sufficiently veracious, and of considerable vitality, if the only thing
possible for the people you make them for is implicit obedience. Suppose the foreign conquest, which we hear so much of just now, had been achieved, would it be proof of great genius in the conqueror that he did not permit his views to be obstructed by the requirements of party, the influence of property, the power of the press, the voice of the people, when, by the fact of conquest, party, property, press, and popular voice, were all extinguished together? Sweep away these, and we could almost trust Mr Carlyle himself to undertake the government. It would need no other qualities in the ruler than the not extraordinary ones of sense, resolution, and right-mindedness. As for the Doomsday Book, written so expeditiously in four years, four weeks would suffice for the new edition. Happy secretaries! happy Napoleon!
His favourite plan is to impute an imaginary absurdity to those he is condemning, and to declaim thereon from his vantage-ground of the eternal facts. Thus, in the pamphlet on Model Prisons, he assumes that the Government and people of England wished to coddle thieves and murderers out of pure love for them. The plan may be a mistaken one, and has had some ridicule heaped on it by the noodles of Exeter Hall, but it is an experiment founded on reason not, as he represents it, an absurdity founded on maudlin sentiment. All criminals are not irreclaimable, neither have any, except a small proportion, committed inexpiable crimes; while of those who have, many have been driven to crime by unavoidable misery, produced, according to Mr Carlyle, by bad government.
To give those a chance of reformation who may charge their crime to the account of misgovernment, as well as to try and reclaim those who seem only temporarily or impulsively to have gone astray, is, if not practically a sound doctrine, yet by no means evidently a weak or bad one. It had been found that the old system, instead of repressing crime, only bottled it up to ferment into tenfold explosiveness. The question was, shall we continue the old system of
treating every criminal as a scoundrel, caitiff, and devil's messenger, who must be swept out of society and out of the world to make room for a fresh batch? or shall we try to lessen crime by converting criminals. When the doctrine is expounded or exemplified by weak men, it will, like any other doctrine, acquire a false and foolish aspect; but there is nothing in the original idea to produce any of the horrors which Mr Carlyle anticipates from its realisation.
As another instance among many of his practice off riding off triumphantly on an abuse of his own creating, he asks in the pamphlet on Parliaments,
"My friend, do you think had the united posterity of Adam voted, and since the creation done nothing but vote that three and three were seven-would this have altered the laws of Arithmetic, or put to the blush the solitary Cocker, who continued to assert privately that three and three were six? I consider not."
But the popular voice is never invoked at all to decide questions of fact, only questions of opinion. Granted that the end of all national effort is to get well governed, and that our electoral system is but a blundering way to do it, yet how is it to be done better? What absolutism, democracy, oligarchy, constitutional monarchy, either electoral or hereditary, universal suffrage, or convocation of notables, however sagacious, has yet, since the world began, shown how this is to be done with even approximate success? All that has been done is to try, by theory and experiment, how it may be effected, not with more of certainty, but with less of notorious blundering. How is the problem to be solved, then? Go to the eternal facts, answers Mr Carlyle. But what if the eternal facts have already given their decision in the matter: which is, that to no society of men shall any certain method of securing excellence in government be possible-that only in darkness and bewilderment, with none but dark lanterns for guidance, and deceptive appearances for landmarks, shall mortals seek political infallibility. What is the use of talking of the "Divine Idea?" What