图书图片
PDF
ePub

I pity thee! I say, these Paragraphs, and low or loud votings of thy poor fellow-blockheads of mankind, will never guide thee in any enterprise at all. Govern a country on such guidance? Thou canst not make a pair of shoes, sell a pennyworth of tape on such. No, thy shoes are vamped up falsely to meet the market; behold, the leather only seemed to be tanned; thy shoes melt under me to rubbishy pulp, and are not veritable mud-defying shoes, but plausible vendible similitudes of shoes-thou unfortunate, and I! Oh, my right honourable friend, when the Paragraphs flowed in, who was like Sir Jabesh? On the swelling tide he mounted; higher, higher, triumphant, heaven-high. But the Paragraphs again ebbed out, as unwise Paragraphs need must: Sir Jabesh lies stranded, sunk and forever sinking in ignominious ooze; the Mud-nymphs, and ever-deepening bottomless Oblivion, his portion to eternal time. "Posterity?" Thou appealest to Posterity, thou? My right honourable friend, what will Posterity do for thee? The voting of Posterity, were it continued through centuries in thy favour, will be quite inaudible, extra-forensic, without any effect whatever. Posterity can do simply nothing for a man; nor even seem to do much, if the man be not brain-sick. Besides, to tell thee truth, the bets are a thousand to one, Posterity will not hear of thee, my right honourable friend! Posterity, I have found, has generally his own Windbags sufficiently trumpeted in all market-places, and no leisure to attend to ours.-" Past and Present.”

Adamitism

"OFTEN, in my atrabiliar moods, when I read of pompous ceremonials, Frankfort Coronations, Royal Drawing-rooms, Levees, Couchees; and how the ushers and macers and pursuivants are all in waiting; how Duke this is presented by Archduke that, and Colonel A by General B, and innumerable Bishops, Admirals, and miscellaneous Functionaries are advancing gallantly to the Anointed Presence; and I strive, in my remote privacy, to form a clear picture of that solemnity-on a sudden, as by some enchanter's wand, the shall I speak it?-the Clothes fly off the whole dramatic corps; and Dukes, Grandees, Bishops, Generals, Anointed Presence itself, every mother's son of them, stand straddling there, not a shirt on them; and I know not whether to laugh or weep. This physical or psychical infirmity, in which perhaps I am not singular, I have, after hesitation, thought right to publish, for the solace of those afflicted with the like."

Would to Heaven, say we, thou hadst thought right to keep it secret! Who is there now that can read the five columns of Presentations in his Morning Newspaper without a shudder? Hypochondriac men, and all men are to a certain extent hypochondriac, should be more gently treated. With what readiness our fancy, in this shattered state of the nerves, follows out the consequences which Teufelsdröckh, with a devilish coolness, goes on to draw:

"What would Majesty do, could such an accident befall in reality; should the buttons all simultaneously start, and the solid wool evaporate, in very Deed, as here in Dream?

Ach Gott! How each skulks into the nearest hiding place; their high State Tragedy (Haupt- und Staats-Aktion) becomes a Pickleherring-Farce to 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 Civilised Society, are dissolved, in wails and howls."

Lives the man that can figure a naked Duke of Windlestraw addressing a naked House of Lords? Imagination, choked as in mephitic air, recoils on itself, and will not forward with the picture. The Woolsack, the Ministerial, the Opposition Benches-infandum-infandum! And yetwhy 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 Teufelsdröckh, 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?

66

"It will remain to be examined," adds the inexorable Teufelsdröckh, "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, however, misers and the meaner class of persons are not always voluntarily disposed to grant him."-" Sartor Resartus.”

The Dandy

TOUCHING Dandies, let us consider, with some scientific strictness, what a Dandy specially is. A Dandy is a Clotheswearing Man, a Man whose trade, office, and existence consists in the wearing of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse, and person is heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing of Clothes wisely and well: so that as others dress to live, he lives to dress. The all-importance of Clothes, which a German Professor, of unequalled learning and acumen, writes his enormous Volume to demonstrate, has sprung up in the intellect of the Dandy, without effort, like an instinct of genius; he is inspired with Cloth, a Poet of Cloth. What Teufelsdröckh would call a "Divine Idea of Cloth" is born with him; and this, like other such Ideas, will express itself outwardly, or wring his heart asunder with unutterable throes.

But, like a generous, creative enthusiast, he fearlessly makes his Idea an Action; shows himself, in peculiar guise, to mankind; walks forth, a witness and living Martyr to the eternal Worth of Clothes. We called him a Poet: is not his body the (stuffed) parchment-skin whereon he writes, with cunning Huddersfield dyes, a Sonnet to his mistress's eyebrow? Say, rather, an Epos, and Clotha virumque cano, to the whole world, in Macaronic verses, which he that runs may read. Nay, if you grant, what seems to be admissible,

that the Dandy has a Thinking-principle in him, and some notions of Time and Space, is there not in this Life-devotedness to Cloth, in this so willing sacrifice of the Immortal to the Perishable, something (though in reverse order) of that blending and identification of Eternity with Time, which, as we have seen, constitutes the Prophetic character?

And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognise his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing that will reflect rays of light. Your silver or your gold (beyond what the niggardly Law has already secured him) he solicits not; simply the glance of your eyes. Understand his mystic significance, or altogether miss and misinterpret it; do but look at him, and he is contented. May we not well cry shame on an ungrateful world that refuses even this poor boon; that will waste its optic faculty on dried Crocodiles and Siamese Twins; and over the domestic wonderful wonder of wonders, a live Dandy, glance with hasty indifference and a scarcely concealed contempt! Him no Zoologist classes among the Mammalia, no Anatomist dissects with care: when did we see any injected Preparation of the Dandy in our Museums; any specimen of him preserved in spirits? Lord Herringbone may dress himself in a snuff-brown shirt and shoes: it skills not; the undiscerning public, occupied with grosser wants, passes by regardless on the other side.

The age of Curiosity, like that of Chivalry, is, indeed, properly speaking, gone. Yet perhaps only gone to sleep; for here arises the Clothes-Philosophy to resuscitate, strangely enough, both the one and the other! Should sound views of this Science come to prevail, the essential

« 上一页继续 »