Page images
PDF
EPUB

tasted, a well as the English Blue-Ruin, and the Scotch Whisky, analogous fluids used by the Sect in those countries : it evidently contains some form of alcohol, in the highest state of concentration, thongh disguised with acrid oils ; and is, on the whole, the most pungent substance known to me,-indeed, a perfect liquid fire. In all their Religious Solemnities, Potheen is said to be an indispensable requisite, and largely consumed.

“ An Irish Traveller, of perhaps common veracity, who presents himself under the to me unmeaning title of The late John Bernard, offers the following sketch of a domestic establishment, the inmates whereof, though such is not stated expressly, appear to have been of that Faith. Thereby shall my German readers now behold an Irish Poor-Slave, as it were with their own eyes; and even see him at meat. Moreover, in the so precious waste-paper sheet, above mentioned, I have found some corresponding picture of a Dandiacal Household, painted by that same Dandiacal Mystagogue, or Theogonist; this, also, by way of counterpart and contrast, the world shall look into.

“ First, therefore, of the Poor-Slave, who appears likewise to have been a species of Innkeeper. I quote from the original : “The furniture of this Caravansera consisted of a large iron Pot, two oaken Tables, two Benches, two Chairs, and a Potheen Noggin. There was a Loft above (attainable by a ladder), upon which the inmates slept ; and the space below was divided by a hurdle into two Apartments; the one for their cow and pig, the other for themselves and guests. On entering the house we discovered the family, eleven in number, at dinner : the father sitting at the top, the mother at bottom, the children on each side of a large oaken Board which was scooped out in the middle, like a Trough, to receive the contents of their Pot of Potatoes. Little holes were cut at equal distances to contain Salt; and a bowl of Milk stood on the table: all the luxuries of meat and beer, bread, knives, and dishes were dispensed with. The Poor-Slave himself our Traveller found, as he says, broad-backed, black-browed, of great personal strength, and mouth from

His Wife was a sun-browned but well-featured woman; and his young ones, bare and chubby, had the appetite of ravens. Of their Philosophical, or Religious tenets or observances, no notice or hint.

“But now, secondly, of the Dandiacal Household; in which, truly, that often-mentioned Mystagogue and inspired Penman himself has his abode: A Dressing-room splendidly furnished; violet-colored curtains, chairs and ottomans of the same hue. Two full-length Mirrors are placed, one on each side of a table, which supports the luxuries of the Toilet. Several Bottles of Perfumes, arranged in a peculiar fashion, stand upon a smaller table of mother-of-pearl: opposite to these are placed the appurtenances of Lavation rich wrought in frosted silver. A Wardrobe of Buhl is on the left; the doors of which being partly open discover a profusion of Clothes; Shoes of a singularly small size monopolise the lower shelves. Fronting the wardrobe a door ajar gives some slight glimpse of a Bath-room. Folding-doors in the back-ground.Enter the Author,' our Theogonist in person, obsequiously preceded by a French Valet, in white silk Jacket and cambric Apron.'

“Such are the two Sects, which, at this moment, divide the more unsettled portion of the British People; and agitate that ever-vexed country. To the eye of the political Seer, their mutual relation, pregnant with the elements of discord and hostility, is far from consoling. These two principles of Dandiacal Self-worship or Deroon-worship, and Poor-Slavish or

Drudgical Earth-worship, or whatever that same Drudgism may be, do as yet indeed manifest themselves under distant and nowise considerable shapes : nevertheless, in their roots and subterranean ramifications, they

ear to ear.

extend through the entire structure of Society, and work unwearicdly in the secret depths of English national Existence; striving to separate and isolate it into two contradictory, uncommunicating masses. “ In numbers, and even individual strength, the

Poor-Slaves or Drudges, it would seem, are hourly increasing. The Dandiacal, again, is by nature no proselytising Sect; but it boasts of great hereditary resources, and is strong by union : whereas the Drudges, split into parties, have as yet no rallying-point; or at best, only co-operate by means of partial secret affiliations. If, indeed, there were to arise a Communion of Drudges, as there is already a Communion of Saints, what strangest effects would follow therefrom! Dandyism as yet affects to look down on Drudgism: but perhaps the hour of trial, when it will be practically seen which ought to look down, and which up, is not so distant.

“ To me it seems probable that the two Sects will one day part Eng. land between them; each recruiting itself from the intermediate ranks, till there be none left to enlist on either side. Those Dandiacal Manis cheans, with the host of Dandyising Christians, will form one body : the Drudges gathering round them whosoever is Drudgical, be he Christian or Infidel Pagan; sweeping up likewise all manner of Utilitarians, Radicals, refractory Potwallopers, and so forth, into their general mass, will form another. I could liken Dandyism and Drudgism to two bottomless boiling Whirlpools that had broken out on opposite quarters of the firm land : as yet they appear only disquieted, foolishly bubbling wells, which man's art might cover in; yet mark them, their diameter is daily widening; they are hollow Cones that boil up from the infinite Deep, over which your firm land is but a thin crust or rind! Thus daily is the intermediate land crumbling in, daily the empire of the two BuchanBullers extending; till now there is but a foot-plank, a mere film of Land between them; this too is washed away; and then--we have the true Hell of Waters, and Noah's Deluge is outdeluged !

“ Or better, I might call them two boundless, and indeed unexampled Electric Machines (turned by the Machinery of Society'), with batteries of opposite quality; Drudgism the Negative, Dandyism the Positive : one attracts hourly towards it and appropriates all the Positive Electricity of the Nation (namely, the Money thereof); the other is equally busy with the Negative (that is to say the Hunger), which is equally potent. Hitherto you see only partial transient sparkles and sputters : but wait a little, till the entire nation is in an electric state; till your whole vital Electricity, no longer healthfully Neutral, is cut into two isolated portions of Positive and Negative (of Money and of Hunger); and stands there bottled up in two World Batteries! The stirring of a child's finger brings the two together; and then- What then? The Earth is but shivered into impalpable smoke by that Doom's-thunderpeal; the Sun misses one of his Planets in Space, and thenceforth there are no eclipses of the Moon.-Or better still, I might liken".

Oh! enough, enough of likenings and similitudes; in excess of which, trūly, it is hard to say whether Teufelsdröckh or ourselves sin the more.

We have often blamed him for a habit of wire-drawing and over-refining; from of old we have been familiar with his tendency to Mysticism and Religiosity, whereby in everything he was still scenting ont Religion; but never perhaps did these amaurosis suffusions so cloud and distort his otherwise most piercing vision, as in this of the Dandiacal Body! Or was there something of intended satire; is the Professor and Seer not quite the blinkard he affects to be? Of an ordinary mortal we should have decisively answered in the affirmative; but with a Teufelsdröckh there ever hovers some shade of doubt. In the meanwhile if satire were actually intended, the case is little better. There are not wanting men

who will answer: Does your Professor take us for simpletons ? His irony has overshot itself ; we see through it, and perhaps through him.

CHAPTER XI.

TAILORS.

Thus, however, has our first Practical Inference from the ClothesPhilosophy, that hich respects Dandies, been sufficiently drawn; and we colpe now to the second, concerning Tailors. On this latter our opinion happily quite coincides with that of Teuselsdröckh himself as expressed in the concluding page of his Volume; to whom therefore we willingly give place. Let him speak his own last words, in his own way:

“Up wards of a century,” says he, “must elapse, and still the bleeding fight of Freedom be fought, whoso is noblest perishing in the van, and thrones be hurled on altars like Pelion on Ossa, and the Moloch of Iniquity have his victims, and the Michael of Justice his martyrs, before Tailors can be admitted to their true prerogatives of manhood, and this last wound of suffering Humanity be closed.

" If aught in the history of the world's blindness could surprise us, here might we indeed pause and wonder. An idea has gone abroad, and fixed itself down into a wide-spreading rooted error, that Tailors are a distinct species in Physiology, not Men, but fractional Parts of a Man. Call any one a Schneider (Cutter, Tailor), is it not, in our dislocated, hood-winked, and indeed delirious condition of Society, equivalent to defying his perpetual fellest enmity? The epithet Schneidermässig (Tailorlike) betokens an otherwise unapproachable degree of pusillanimity : we introduce a Tailor's Melancholy, more opprobrious than any Leprosy, into our Books of Medicine; and fable I know not what of his generating it by living on Cabbage. Why should I speak of Hans Sachs (himself a Shoemaker, or kind of Leather-Tailor), with his Schneider mit dem Panier ? Why of Shakspeare, in his Taming of the Shrew, and elsewhere? Does it not stand on record that the English Queen Elizabeth, receiving a deputation of Eighteen Tailors, addressed them with a 'Good morning, gentlemen both! Did not the same virago boast that she had a Cavalry Regiment, whereof neither horse nor man could be injured: her Regiment, namely, of Tailors on Mares ? Thus everywhere is the falsehood taken for granted, and acted on as an indisputable fact.

“ Nevertheless, need I put the question to any Physiologist, Whether it is disputable or not? Seems it not at least presumable, that, under his Clothes, the Tailor has bones, and viscera, and other muscles than the sartorius ? Which function of Lanhood is the Tailor not conjectured to perform? Can he not arrest for Debt? Is he not in most countries a tax-paying animal ?

“ To no reader of this Volume can it be doubtful which conviction is mine. Nay, if the fruit of these long vigils, and almost preternatural Inquiries is not to perish utterly, the world will have approximated towards a higher Truth; and the doctrine, which Swift, with the keen forecast of genius, dimly anticipated, will stand revealed in clear light: that the Tailor is not only a Man, but something of a Creator or Divinity. Of Franklin it was said that he snatched the Thunder from Heaven and the Sceptre from Kings :' but which is greater, I would ask, he that lends, or he that snatches ? For, looking away from individual cases, and how a Man is by the Tailor new created into a Nobleman, and clothed not only with Wool but with Dignity and a Mystic Dominion,-is not the fair fabric of Society itself, with all its royal mantles and pontifical stoles,

whereby, from nakedness and dismemberment, we are organized into Polities, into Nations, and a whole co-operating Mankind, the creation, as has here been often irrefragably evinced, of the Tailor alone ?-What too are all_Poets, and moral Teachers, but a species of Metaphorical Tailors ? Touching which high Guild the greatest living Guild-Brother has triumphantly asked us : Nay, if thou wilt have it, who but the Poet first made Gods for men; brought them down to us; and raised us up to them ?'

“ And this is he, whom sitting downcast, on the hard basis of his Shopboard, the world treats with contumely, as the ninth part of a man! Look up, thou much injured one, look up with the kindling eye of hope, and prophetic bodings of a nobler better time. Too long hast thou sat there, on crossed legs, wearing thy ancle-joints to horn ; like some sacred Anchorite, or Catholic Fakir, doing penance, drawing down Heaven's richest blessings, for a world that scoffed at thee. Be of hope! Already streaks of blue peer through our clouds; the thick gloom of Ignorance is rolling asunder, and it will be day. Mankind will repay with interest their long-accumulated debt; the Anchorite that was scoffed at will be worshipped; the Fraction will become not an Integer only, but a Square and Cube. With astonishment the world will recognize that the Tailor is its Hierophant, and Hierarch, or even its God.

“ As I stood in the Mosque of St. Sophia, and looked upon these Fourand-Twenty Tailors, sewing and embroidering that rich Cloth, which the Sultan sends yearly for the Caaba of Mecca, I thought within myself : How many other Unholies has your covering Art made holy, besides this Arabian Whinstone !

“ Still more touching was it when, turning the corner of a lane, in the Scottish Town of Edinburgh, I came upon a Signpost, whereon stood written that such and such a one was · Breeches-Maker to his Majesty ;' and stood painted the Effigies of a Pair of Leather Breeches, and between the knees these memorable words, SIC ITUR AD ASTRA. Was not this the martyr prison-speech of a Tailor sighing indeed in bonds, yet sighing towards deliverance; and prophetically appealing to a better day! A day of justice, when the worth of Breeches would be revealed to man, and the Scissors become for ever venerable,

“ Neither, perhaps, may I now say, has his appeal been altogether in vain. It was in this high moment, when the soul, rent, as it were, and shed asunder, is open to inspiring influence, that I first conceived this Work on Clothes; the greatest I can ever hope to do ; which has already, after long retardations, occupied, and will yet occupy, so large a section of my Lise; and of which the Primary and simpler Portion may here find its conclusion."

CHAPTER XII.

FAREWELL.

So have we endeavored, from the enormous, amorphous Plumpudding, more like a Scottish Haggis, which Herr Teufelsdröckh had kneaded for his fellow mortals, to pick out the choicest Plums, and present them separately on a cover of our own. A laborious, perhaps a thankless enterprise ; in which, however, something of hope has occasionally cheered us, and of which we can now wash our hands not altogether without satisfaction. If hereby, though in barbaric wise, some morsel of spiritual nourishment have been added to the scanty ration of our beloved British world, what nobler recompense could the Editor desire ?

If it prove otherwise, why should he murmur ? Was not this a Task which Destiny, in any case, had appointed him; which having now done with he sees his general Day's-work so much the lighter, so much the shorter ?

of Professor Teufelsdröckh it seems impossible to take leave without a mingled feeling of astonishment, gratitude and disapproval. Who will not regret that talents, which might have profited in the higher walks of Philosophy, or in Art itself, have been so much devoted to a rummaging among lumber-rooms ; nay, too often to a scraping in kenpels, where lost rings and diamond-necklaces are nowise the sole conquests ? Regret is unavoidable; yet censure were loss of time. To cure him of his mad humors British Criticism would essay in vain : enough for her if she can, by vigilance, prevent the spreading of such among ourselves. What a result, should this piebald, entangled hyper-metaphorical style of writing not to say of thinking, become general among our Literary men! As it might so easily do. Thus has not the Editor himself, working over Teufelsdröckh’s German, lost much of his own English purity ? Even as the smaller whirlpool is sucked into the larger, and made to whirl along with it, so must the lesser mind, in this instance, become portion of the greater, and, like it, see all things figuratively: which habit time and assiduous effort will be needed to eradicate.

Nevertheless, wayward as our Professor shows himself, is there any reader that can part with him in declared enmity ? Let us confess, there is that in the wild, much-suffering, much-inflicting man, which almost attaches us. His attitude, we will hope and believe, is that of a man who had said to Cant, Begone; and to Dilettantism, Here thou canst not be ; and to Truth, Be thou in place of all to me: a man who had manfully defied the “ Time-Prince,” or Devil, to his face ; nay, perhaps, Hannibal-like, was mysteriously consecrated from birth to that warfare, and now stood minded to wage the same, by all weapons, in all places, at all times. In such a cause, any soldier, were he but a Polack Scytheman, shall be welcome.

Still the question returns on us : How could a man occasionally of keen insight, not without keen sense of propriety, who had real Thoughts to communicate, resolve to emit them in a shape bordering so closely on the absurd ? Which question he were wiser than the present Editor who should satisfactorily answer. Our conjecture has sometimes been that perhaps Necessity as well as Choice was concerned in it. Seems it not conceivable that, in a Life like our Professor's where so much bountifully given by Nature had in Practice failed and misgone, Literature also would never rightly prosper : that striving with his characteristic vehemence to paint this and the other Picture, and ever without success, he at last desperately dashes his sponge, full of all colours, against the canvass, to try whether it will paint Foam ? With all his stillness, there were perhaps in Teufelsdröckh desperation enough for this.

A second conjecture we hazard with even less warranty. It is that Teufelsdröckh is not without some touch of the universal feeling, a wish to proselytise. How often already have we paused, uncertain whether the basis of this so enigmatic nature were really Stoicism and Despair, or Love and Hope only seared into the figure of these! Remarkable, moreover, is this saying of his : “ How were Friendship possible? In mutual devotedness to the Good and True : otherwise impossible; except as Armed Neutrality, or hollow Commercial League. A man, be the Heavens ever praised, is sufficient for himself; yet were ten men, united in Love, capable of being and of doing what ten thousand singly would fail in. Infinite is the help man can yield to man.” And now in conjunction therewith consider this other : “ It is the Night of the World, and still long till it be Day: we wander amid the glimmer of smoking

« PreviousContinue »