Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. V. Nineteenth Century
Teufelsdröckh: the Everlasting Yea
By Thomas Carlyle (17951881)
From Sartor Resartus
BEAUTIFUL it was to sit there, as in my skyey Tent, musing and meditating; on the high table-land, in front of the Mountains; over me, as roof, the azure Dome, and around me, for walls, four azure-flowing curtains,namely, of the Four azure Winds, on whose bottom fringes also I have seen gilding. And then to fancy the fair Castles that stood sheltered in these Mountain hollows; with their green flower-lawns and white dames and damosels lovely enough: or better still, the straw-roofed Cottages, wherein stood many a Mother baking bread, with her children round her:all hidden and protectingly folded-up in the valley folds; yet there and alive, as sure as if I beheld them. Or to see, as well as fancy, the nine Towns and Villages, that lay round my mountain-seat, which, in still weather, were wont to speak to me, by their steeple bells, with metal tongue; and, in almost all weather, proclaimed their vitality by repeated Smoke clouds; whereon, as on a culinary horologe, I might read the hour of the day. For it was the smoke of cookery, as kind housewives at morning, midday, eventide, were boiling their husbands kettles; and ever a blue pillar rose up into the air, successively or simultaneously, from each of the nine, saying, as plainly as smoke could say: Such and such a meal is getting ready here. Not uninteresting! For you have the whole Borough, with all its love-makings and scandal-mongeries, contentions and contentments, as in miniature, and could cover it all with your hat.If, in my wide Wayfarings, I had learned to look into the business of the World in its details, here perhaps was the place for combining it into general propositions, and deducing inferences therefrom.
Often also could I see the black Tempest marching in anger through the Distance: round some Schreckhorn, as yet grim-blue, would the eddying vapour gather, and there tumultuously eddy, and flow down like a mad witchs hair; till, after a space it vanished, and in the clear sunbeam, your Schreckhorn stood smiling grim-white, for the vapour has held snow. How thou fermentest and elaboratest, in thy great fermenting-vat and laboratory of an Atmosphere, of a World, O Nature!Or what is Nature? Ha! why do I not name thee God? Art not thou the Living Garment of God? O Heavens, is it in very deed, He, then, that ever speaks through thee; that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?
Fore-shadows, call them rather fore-splendours, of that Truth, and Beginning of Truths, fell mysteriously over my soul. Sweeter than Dayspring to the Shipwrecked in Nova Zembla; ah, like the mothers voice to her little child that strays bewildered, weeping, in unknown tumults; like soft streamings of celestial music to my too exasperated heart, came that Evangel. The Universe is not dead and demoniacal, a charnel house with spectres; but godlike and my Fathers!
With other eyes, too, could I now look upon my fellow man; with an infinite Love, with an infinite Pity. Poor, wandering, wayward man! Art thou not tired, and beaten with stripes, even as I am? Ever, whether thou bear the royal mantle or the beggars gabardine, art thou not so weary, so heavy-laden; and thy Bed of Rest is but a Grave. O my Brother, my Brother, why cannot I shelter thee in my bosom, and wipe away all tears from thy eyes! Truly, the din of many-voiced Life, which, in this solitude, with the minds organ, I could hear, was no longer a maddening discord, but a melting one; like inarticulate cries, and sobbings of a dumb creature, which in the ear of Heaven are prayers. The poor Earth, with her poor joys, was now my Needy Mother, not my cruel Stepdame; Man, with his so mad Wants and his so mean Endeavours, had become the dearest to me; and even for his sufferings and his sins, I now first named him Brother. Thus was I standing in the porch of that Sanctuary of Sorrow; by strange, steep ways had I too been guided thither; and ere long its sacred gates would open, and the Divine Depth of Sorrow lie disclosed to me.