Wednesday, June 26, 2013

White House misinformation and inaction regarding greenhouse gases

Thanking Obama for his "climate action", as Paul Burns of VPIRG has asked me to do, would be like thanking him for universal health care — not only are Obama's "actions" utterly phony, they are a meaningless sideshow to distract attention of the willfully gullible from the creation of such a paranoid militarized corporatist murderous state that Obama makes Dick Cheney look like Elmer Fudd and Dick Nixon like one of the Three Stooges.

On the White House web site, the President's climate action plan includes this graphic, with the EPA cited as reference:


What's glaringly missing is any indication that the non-CO₂ greenhouse gases (GHGs) have a much greater warming effect per unit of mass emitted. For example, the EPA, despite ignoring it on one page in the same way as the White House, notes on another page the different "global warming potential" (GWP) values of a few GHGs relative to CO₂. They note that over 100 years, methane (CH₄) has a GWP of 20 and nitrous oxide (N₂O) a GWP of 300. That would appear to mean that the 9% of GHG emissions represented by methane actually has more than twice (9 × 20), and the 5% represented by nitrous oxide more than 17 times, the effect of the 84% represented by CO₂.

Moreover, the EPA notes that CO₂ persists for thousands of years in the atmosphere, whereas CH₄ persists only about 10 years and N₂O over 100 years. [Update:  “Continued global warming after CO₂ emissions stoppage”, Thomas Lukas Frölicher, Michael Winton & Jorge Louis Sarmiento, Nature Climate Change, published online 24 November 2013, doi:10.1038/nclimate2060.]

In other words, even if we were successful in drastically reducing CO₂ emissions, there would be no effect for thousands of years. If we want to more quickly reduce the effects of GHG emissions, the obvious primary target is CH₄, with at least 20 times the warming effect of CO₂ and one that lasts only 10-12 years. According to other sources, CH₄ has a 100-year GWP of 25 and a 20-year GWP of 72.

The White House graphic describes methane as coming from the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil, as well as from landfills. It neglects to mention that the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") process of releasing natural gas, which Obama strongly supports, releases a particularly large amount of methane into the air. [Update: "Study: Methane Leakage From Gas Fields Guts Climate Benefit".] And it completely ignores the methane emissions from animal agriculture, which the United Nations has calculated contributes more to global warming than all transportation. [Update:  “Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States” [are probably at least twice as high as previously assumed], Scot M. Miller, Steven C. Wofsy, Anna M. Michalak, et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Published online November 25, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1314392110.]

Simply changing our diet away from meat and dairy would have much more effect on climate change than all of Obama's "actions".

And there are many other benefits in reducing animal agriculture:
When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9% of CO₂ deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the GWP of CO₂. Most of this comes from manure.

And it accounts for 37% of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO₂), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants, and 64% of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Livestock now use 30% of the earth's entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33% of the global arable land used to produce feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70% of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. [Between 25% and 30% of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year -- 1.6 billion tonnes -- is caused by deforestation.]

At the same time, herds cause wide-scale land degradation, with about 20% of pastures considered to be degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion. This figure is even higher in the drylands where inappropriate policies and inadequate livestock management contribute to advancing desertification.

The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth's increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution, eutrophication, and the degeneration of coral reefs. The major polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. Widespread overgrazing disturbs water cycles, reducing replenishment of above- and below-ground water resources. Significant amounts of water are withdrawn for the production of feed.

Livestock are estimated to be the main inland source of phosphorous and nitrogen contamination of the South China Sea, contributing to biodiversity loss in marine ecosystems.

Meat and dairy animals now account for about 20% of all terrestrial animal biomass. Livestock's presence in vast tracts of land and its demand for feed crops also contribute to biodiversity loss; 15 out of 24 important ecosystem services are assessed to be in decline with livestock identified as a culprit.
Another obvious target is to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have come into use as refrigerants and propellants to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, such as freon). CFCs were phased out because of their destruction of the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere. They are also potent GHGs, as are HFCs. For example, HFC-134a (CF₃CFH₂) has a 100-year GWP of 1,430 and 20-year GWP of 3,830 and persists in the atmosphere only 14 years, making it, with methane, another obvious candidate for meaningful action. In fact, in 2011 the E.U. banned HFC-134a in new cars in favor of HFC-1234yf (100-year GWP of 4), with a total ban on all uses being phased in through 2017. Meanwhile the U.S. has only talked and delayed about doing the same.

Update (note):  Like his continuing delay (renewed in this latest "action") to finally approve the Keystone XL pipeline to appease Bill McKibben and his 350.org "activists", while it continues to be built nonetheless, Obama's "climate action" seems to be little more than another cynical bone thrown to them, who are just as phony, just as adept at misinformation and inaction, because 350.org also ignores all but CO₂ in the atmosphere, ensuring no reversal of anthropogenic warming at all.

environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Myth of Sustainable Meat

By JAMES E. McWILLIAMS, New York Times, April 12, 2012

The industrial production of animal products is nasty business. From mad cow, E. coli and salmonella to soil erosion, manure runoff and pink slime, factory farming is the epitome of a broken food system.

... most people upset by factory farming have turned instead to meat, dairy and eggs from nonindustrial sources. ... They appeal to consumers not only because they reject the industrial model, but because they appear to be more in tune with natural processes.

For all the strengths of these alternatives, however, they’re ultimately a poor substitute for industrial production. Although these smaller systems appear to be environmentally sustainable, considerable evidence suggests otherwise.

Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows. Pastured organic chickens have a 20 percent greater impact on global warming. It requires 2 to 20 acres to raise a cow on grass. If we raised all the cows in the United States on grass (all 100 million of them), cattle would require (using the figure of 10 acres per cow) almost half the country’s land (and this figure excludes space needed for pastured chicken and pigs). A tract of land just larger than France has been carved out of the Brazilian rain forest and turned over to grazing cattle. Nothing about this is sustainable.

Advocates of small-scale, nonindustrial alternatives say their choice is at least more natural. Again, this is a dubious claim. Many farmers who raise chickens on pasture use industrial breeds that have been bred to do one thing well: fatten quickly in confinement. As a result, they can suffer painful leg injuries after several weeks of living a “natural” life pecking around a large pasture. Free-range pigs are routinely affixed with nose rings to prevent them from rooting, which is one of their most basic instincts. In essence, what we see as natural doesn’t necessarily conform to what is natural from the animals’ perspectives.

The economics of alternative animal systems are similarly problematic. Subsidies notwithstanding, the unfortunate reality of commodifying animals is that confinement pays. If the production of meat and dairy was somehow decentralized into small free-range operations, common economic sense suggests that it wouldn’t last. These businesses — no matter how virtuous in intention — would gradually seek a larger market share, cutting corners, increasing stocking density and aiming to fatten animals faster than competitors could. Barring the strictest regulations, it wouldn’t take long for production systems to scale back up to where they started.

All this said, committed advocates of alternative systems make one undeniably important point about the practice called “rotational grazing” or “holistic farming”: the soil absorbs the nutrients from the animals’ manure, allowing grass and other crops to grow without the addition of synthetic fertilizer. As Michael Pollan writes, “It is doubtful you can build a genuinely sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients.” In other words, raising animals is not only sustainable, but required.

But rotational grazing works better in theory than in practice. Consider Joel Salatin, the guru of nutrient cycling, who employs chickens to enrich his cows’ grazing lands with nutrients. His plan appears to be impressively eco-correct, until we learn that he feeds his chickens with tens of thousands of pounds a year of imported corn and soy feed. ... if a farmer isn’t growing his own feed, the nutrients going into the soil have been purloined from another, most likely industrial, farm, thereby undermining the benefits of nutrient cycling.

Finally, there is no avoiding the fact that the nutrient cycle is interrupted every time a farmer steps in and slaughters a perfectly healthy manure-generating animal, something that is done before animals live a quarter of their natural lives. When consumers break the nutrient cycle to eat animals, nutrients leave the system of rotationally grazed plots of land (though of course this happens with plant-based systems as well). They land in sewer systems and septic tanks (in the form of human waste) and in landfills and rendering plants (in the form of animal carcasses).

Farmers could avoid this waste by exploiting animals only for their manure, allowing them to live out the entirety of their lives on the farm, all the while doing their own breeding and growing of feed. But they’d better have a trust fund.

Opponents of industrialized agriculture have been declaring for over a decade that how humans produce animal products is one of the most important environmental questions we face. We need a bolder declaration. After all, it’s not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters. It’s whether we produce them at all.

Also see:  Why Allan Savory’s TED talk about how cattle can reverse global warming is dead wrong, Slate, April 22, 2013:

“There’s no such thing as a beef-eating environmentalist.”

environment, environmentalism, animal rights, vegetarianism, veganism

A chapter on auxiliary verbs

Now the use of the Auxiliaries is, at once to set the soul a-going by herself upon the materials as they are brought her; and by the versability of this great engine, round which they are twisted, to open new tracts of enquiry, and make every idea engender millions.

You excite my curiosity greatly, said Yorick.

For my own part, quoth my uncle Toby, I have given it up. — The Danes, an’ please your honour, quoth the corporal, who were on the left at the siege of Limerick, were all auxiliaries. — And very good ones, said my uncle Toby. — But the auxiliaries, Trim, my brother is talking about, — I conceive to be different things. —

— You do? said my father, rising up.

Chapter XLIII

My father took a single turn across the room, then sat down, and finished the chapter.

The verbs auxiliary we are concerned in here, continued my father, are, am; was; have; had; do; did; make; made; suffer; shall; should; will; would; can; could; owe; ought; used; or is wont. — And these varied with tenses, present, past, future, and conjugated with the verb see, — or with these questions added to them; — Is it? Was it? Will it be? Would it be? May it be? Might it be? And these again put negatively, Is it not? Was it not? Ought it not? — Or affirmatively, — It is; It was; It ought to be. Or chronologically, — Has it been always? Lately? How long ago? — Or hypothetically, — If it was? If it was not? What would follow? — If the French should beat the English? If the Sun go out of the Zodiac?

Now, by the right use and application of these, continued my father, in which a child’s memory should be exercised, there is no one idea can enter his brain, how barren soever, but a magazine of conceptions and conclusions may be drawn forth from it. — Didst thou ever see a white bear? cried my father, turning his head round to Trim, who stood at the back of his chair: — No, an’ please your honour, replied the corporal. — But thou couldst discourse about one, Trim, said my father, in case of need? — How is it possible, brother, quoth my uncle Toby, if the corporal never saw one? — ’Tis the fact I want, replied my father, — and the possibility of it is as follows.

A White Bear! Very well. Have I ever seen one? Might I ever have seen one? Am I ever to see one? Ought I ever to have seen one? Or can I ever see one?

Would I had seen a white bear! (for how can I imagine it?)

If I should see a white bear, what should I say? If I should never see a white bear, what then?

If I never have, can, must, or shall see a white bear alive; have I ever seen the skin of one? Did I ever see one painted? — described? Have I never dreamed of one?

Did my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brothers or sisters, ever see a white bear? What would they give? How would they behave? How would the white bear have behaved? Is he wild? Tame? Terrible? Rough? Smooth?

— Is the white bear worth seeing? —

— Is there no sin in it? —

Is it better than a Black One?

— The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne, Book III

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How wind energy gets paid for

On his blog Energy in New Hampshire, Mike Mooiman of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., has written an informative piece about wind energy revenues, which is excerpted below.

Wind farms get revenue from a number of sources. The first is from the sales of electricity, which could be via a power purchase agreement (PPA), such as the one the Groton operation has with NSTAR, that sets a fixed price for the price of generated electricity, or if could be by direct sales into the ISO-NE electricity pool where prices are set by supply of and demand for electricity. Prices for electricity sold into the ISO-NE pool can be highly variable over time as I noted in It Don’t Come Easy and there are considerable price swings, even over a day, as shown by the chart below which provides 5 minute electricity prices for last Thursday, June 2, 2013.


In the first quarter of 2013, the three NH wind farms earned almost $9.2 million dollars on total electricity sales of 112,084 MWh to earn an average of $82/MWh (8.2¢/kWh):
  • The Lempster operation output was remarkably high, particularly for the month of January, and they are showing capacity factors for the quarter of 0.42 which is surprisingly large. The average price they received for their electricity was $77.17 and, at times, it was as high as $102.99/MWh. Clearly they have an attractive power purchase agreement with PSNH.

  • After a miserable year last year, the Granite Reliable operation did much better with a first quarter capacity factor at 0.29 which is up from last year’s value of 0.15. The bulk, 83%, of their sales went to the two Vermont utilities at rates averaging $96.57/MWh. However, there were times they were selling into the ISO-NE electricity pool at rates as low as $0.66/MWh.

  • The Groton Wind operation is now up and running and all their sales went to NSTAR Electric at $51.65. Their overall capacity factor for the first quarter was 0.25.
([T]he reason for the low output and capacity factor for the Granite Reliable operation in 2012 was that ISO-NE had put in place curtailment orders for several New England wind farms. This meant that they were required to reduce the amount of electricity they were delivering into the grid even if they could produce more. The curtailment orders included the Granite Reliable operation, which had to ratchet down its output to about 50% of its rated capacity of 99 MW. The reasons behind the curtailment orders appear to be reduced demand for electricity as well as grid load imbalances in certain areas. Wind-based electricity is a challenge for the electrical grid operator, ISO-NE, as electricity production from these operations is highly variable and, with the growing number of wind operations, the variability of electricity supply has increased. At the same time, the grid operator has to manage the output from fossil fuel and nuclear power plants that supply a great deal of our base load power and that cannot rapidly be turned up or down in response to varying output from wind farms. Curtailment orders for these wind farms is one way to manage the variability but that does leave the owners of these operations with unused capacity and lost revenue opportunities.)

The other source of revenue for wind farms is from sales of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) – the so-called green tags which I discussed in It Don’t Come Easy – which allow generators of renewable energy to sell the renewable energy attributes separately from the underlying electricity. The pricing for Class 1 RECs, which is the class that wind generated electricity falls into, is also variable but prices are presently high due to elevated demand. In fact, the prices are bumping up against the alternative compliance payments for the Class 1 RECs of $65/MWh. Alternative compliance payments are the fines that state-regulated utilities have to pay if they do not meet their renewable energy quotas and they set a cap on the REC market. Class 1 NH wind REC prices have risen from their lows of $15 in 2010 to their present value of about $62/MWh. Here is a link to a great article on recent Class 1 REC pricing.

Another revenue source for wind operations, albeit an indirect one, is that associated with production tax credits (PTCs) for wind generation. The PTC is a federal incentive program for the wind industry that provides producers of wind-generated electricity a tax credit of [now, for new facilities] $23.00 for every MWh [2.3¢/kWh] of produced electricity for the first 10 years of the project. I know the PTC is a tax credit and not a revenue item, but for the purposes of my analysis this week, I am including the revenue category. But to do so, I must calculate its before-tax equivalent. A tax credit of $23/MWh is equivalent to a revenue item of $35.38/MWh [3.6¢/kWh] for a company with a 35% federal tax rate.

In some cases, wind operations that sell electricity into the ISO-NE pool might receive payments for holding capacity available should demand increase and ISO-NE needs to draw on more generators. These payments can be considerable and for the Granite Reliable operation they are of the order of $151,000 per month. These are fixed payments but for the basis of my comparison, I have, on the basis of the Granite Reliable capacity payments, calculated them to be equivalent to $8.30/MWh (assuming a capacity factor of 0.25).


These four revenue items total $187/MWh, which is equivalent to $0.187/kWh. Compare this to the ~$0.08/kWh we typically pay for energy portion of our electricity bills at our homes. ... Subsidies [which we pay for in our tax bills] generated by the RECs and PTCs provide 50% or more of the revenue equivalents for these operations. [And the relatively high prices of PPAs are driven by state renewables portfolio standards (RPS’s) which create an artificial demand for such sources.]

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thoughts on the Tyranny of Consensus

Any community that has entered into a “consultation” process with a developer knows that the deck is stacked against them. The outcome is already assumed, and the process is at best one to determine the cost of buying off the community but at base is an effort to sidetrack and contain their concerns. That is the nature of this perversion of consensus: It is called “win-win” but one side gains a desired resource that they would have taken anyway and the other gives it up for ... what?

Such consultation is thus all too often engaged in to enforce a validation of the foregone outcome sought by the more powerful party. The choices for the less powerful party are to come to terms or not. The outcome is already determined. These consultations are thereby an utter sham. One side has no power whatsoever except in how it agrees to the terms of its capitulation.

In recent weeks, I have noticed that several prolific advocates of industrial wind power are also bullies about vaccination, water fluoridation, genetically modified plants, “smart” meters, among a package of knee-jerk “pro-science” positions. They mock and disparage all who have concerns about any vaccination or fluoride delivery regimen, or who ask exactly who benefits from, and who is harmed by, certain technological innovations, just as they mock all those who testify of, and all those who acknowledge those, noise and health impacts from industrial wind turbines too close to homes. Like other bullies with religion, they are hiding behind “science” to force their own self-aggrandizing worldview, their fetishization of technotopia, on others, particularly those who are able to think more broadly and subtly than they.

Most crucially, the targets of their mockery are not beholden to industries to which they themselves have pledged their troth. It is they, the “company men”, the “good soldiers”, that deserve, if not mockery, or contempt, than perhaps our pity.

Science is a process, not a “truth”. Above all, it is a process of questioning, of testing. Again like religion, when it is in the service of the state’s or capital’s power of coercion, it is more often abused and perverted than a beacon of good. When it is “settled”, it is no longer science, but dogma. The heros of science generally broke ranks from the consensus of their peers. Many were vilified for it. Ignaz Semmelweis, for example, ended his life being beaten in an asylum for his unacceptable hypothesis that physicians themselves were responsible for the high rates of maternal deaths in obstetrical clinics, which could be avoided if they washed their hands. He sought the truth, not consensus; in fact, the consensus was against him. There was no compromise acceptable — from either side. The medical industry recoiled from his findings and asserted its power against him. And in time, they had to admit he was right.

By discussing the word consensus, I do not mean to question that field in which it is most often invoked in the popular press: the “consensus view” of anthropogenic climate change. But I do question that invocation. Another term for “consensus view” is “mob rule”, or the tyranny of the majority. Sometimes the majority is right, quite often it is not. That is a feature of scientific research and literature as much as any other human endeavor. In science, too, is seen the “echo chamber” of internet and other self-selecting communities: Gatekeeping against “pseudoscience” and “quackery” becomes an excuse to shut out any findings that differ from one’s own desired outcomes. Institutional efforts inevitably tend towards reinforcing rather than testing consensus, towards defining rules of inclusion in and exclusion from the community, towards propping up its own members and denigrating those outside. Science — the pursuit of truth — comes to seem less important than scoring points against the perceived opposition. Or securing and defending contracts in various industries’ pursuit of profit and power.

[See also:  Coercive Harmony]

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sartor Resartus, III:VII–IX

Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh, by Thomas Carlyle, Book III, Chapters VII–IX:

CHAPTER VII. ORGANIC FILAMENTS.


For us, who happen to live while the World-Phoenix is burning herself, and burning so slowly that, as Teufelsdrockh calculates, it were a handsome bargain would she engage to have done “within two centuries,” there seems to lie but an ashy prospect. Not altogether so, however, does the Professor figure it. “In the living subject,” says he, “change is wont to be gradual: thus, while the serpent sheds its old skin, the new is already formed beneath. Little knowest thou of the burning of a World-Phoenix, who fanciest that she must first burn out, and lie as a dead cinereous heap; and therefrom the young one start up by miracle, and fly heavenward. Far otherwise! In that Fire-whirlwind, Creation and Destruction proceed together; ever as the ashes of the Old are blown about, do organic filaments of the New mysteriously spin themselves: and amid the rushing and the waving of the Whirlwind element come tones of a melodious Death-song, which end not but in tones of a more melodious Birth-song. Nay, look into the Fire-whirlwind with thy own eyes, and thou wilt see.” Let us actually look, then: to poor individuals, who cannot expect to live two centuries, those same organic filaments, mysteriously spinning themselves, will be the best part of the spectacle. First, therefore, this of Mankind in general: —

“In vain thou deniest it,” says the Professor; “thou art my Brother. Thy very Hatred, thy very Envy, those foolish Lies thou tellest of me in thy splenetic humor: what is all this but an inverted Sympathy? Were I a Steam-engine, wouldst thou take the trouble to tell lies of me? Not thou! I should grind all unheeded, whether badly or well.

“Wondrous truly are the bonds that unite us one and all; whether by the soft binding of Love, or the iron chaining of Necessity, as we like to choose it. More than once have I said to myself, of some perhaps whimsically strutting Figure, such as provokes whimsical thoughts: ‘Wert thou, my little Brotherkin, suddenly covered up within the largest imaginable Glass bell, — what a thing it were, not for thyself only, but for the world! Post Letters, more or fewer, from all the four winds, impinge against thy Glass walls, but have to drop unread: neither from within comes there question or response into any Post-bag; thy Thoughts fall into no friendly ear or heart, thy Manufacture into no purchasing hand: thou art no longer a circulating venous-arterial Heart, that, taking and giving, circulatest through all Space and all Time: there has a Hole fallen out in the immeasurable, universal World-tissue, which must be darned up again!’

“Such venous-arterial circulation, of Letters, verbal Messages, paper and other Packages, going out from him and coming in, are a blood-circulation, visible to the eye: but the finer nervous circulation, by which all things, the minutest that he does, minutely influence all men, and the very look of his face blesses or curses whomso it lights on, and so generates ever new blessing or new cursing: all this you cannot see, but only imagine. I say, there is not a red Indian, hunting by Lake Winnipeg, can quarrel with his squaw, but the whole world must smart for it: will not the price of beaver rise? It is a mathematical fact that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the centre of gravity of the Universe.

“If now an existing generation of men stand so woven together, not less indissolubly does generation with generation. Hast thou ever meditated on that word, Tradition: how we inherit not Life only, but all the garniture and form of Life; and work, and speak, and even think and feel, as our Fathers, and primeval grandfathers, from the beginning, have given it us? — Who printed thee, for example, this unpretending Volume on the Philosophy of Clothes? Not the Herren Stillschweigen and Company; but Cadmus of Thebes, Faust of Mentz, and innumerable others whom thou knowest not. Had there been no Moesogothic Ulfila, there had been no English Shakspeare, or a different one. Simpleton! It was Tubal-cain that made thy very Tailor’s needle, and sewed that court-suit of thine.

“Yes, truly, if Nature is one, and a living indivisible whole, much more is Mankind, the Image that reflects and creates Nature, without which Nature were not. As palpable lifestreams in that wondrous Individual Mankind, among so many life-streams that are not palpable, flow on those main currents of what we call Opinion; as preserved in Institutions, Polities, Churches, above all in Books. Beautiful it is to understand and know that a Thought did never yet die; that as thou, the originator thereof, hast gathered it and created it from the whole Past, so thou wilt transmit it to the whole Future. It is thus that the heroic heart, the seeing eye of the first times, still feels and sees in us of the latest; that the Wise Man stands ever encompassed, and spiritually embraced, by a cloud of witnesses and brothers; and there is a living, literal Communion of Saints, wide as the World itself, and as the History of the World.

“Noteworthy also, and serviceable for the progress of this same Individual, wilt thou find his subdivision into Generations. Generations are as the Days of toilsome Mankind: Death and Birth are the vesper and the matin bells, that summon Mankind to sleep, and to rise refreshed for new advancement. What the Father has made, the Son can make and enjoy; but has also work of his own appointed him. Thus all things wax, and roll onwards; Arts, Establishments, Opinions, nothing is completed, but ever completing. Newton has learned to see what Kepler saw; but there is also a fresh heaven-derived force in Newton; he must mount to still higher points of vision. So too the Hebrew Lawgiver is, in due time, followed by an Apostle of the Gentiles. In the business of Destruction, as this also is from time to time a necessary work, thou findest a like sequence and perseverance: for Luther it was as yet hot enough to stand by that burning of the Pope’s Bull; Voltaire could not warm himself at the glimmering ashes, but required quite other fuel. Thus likewise, I note, the English Whig has, in the second generation, become an English Radical; who, in the third again, it is to be hoped, will become an English Rebuilder. Find Mankind where thou wilt, thou findest it in living movement, in progress faster or slower: the Phoenix soars aloft, hovers with outstretched wings, filling Earth with her music; or, as now, she sinks, and with spheral swan-song immolates herself in flame, that she may soar the higher and sing the clearer.”

Let the friends of social order, in such a disastrous period, lay this to heart, and derive from it any little comfort they can. We subjoin another passage, concerning Titles: —

“Remark, not without surprise,” says Teufelsdrockh, “how all high Titles of Honor come hitherto from Fighting. Your Herzog (Duke, Dux) is Leader of Armies; your Earl (Jarl) is Strong Man; your Marshal cavalry Horse-shoer. A Millennium, or reign of Peace and Wisdom, having from of old been prophesied, and becoming now daily more and more indubitable, may it not be apprehended that such Fighting titles will cease to be palatable, and new and higher need to be devised?

“The only Title wherein I, with confidence, trace eternity is that of King. Konig (King), anciently Konning, means Ken-ning (Cunning), or which is the same thing, Can-ning. Ever must the Sovereign of Mankind be fitly entitled King.”

“Well, also,” says he elsewhere, “was it written by Theologians: a King rules by divine right. He carries in him an authority from God, or man will never give it him. Can I choose my own King? I can choose my own King Popinjay, and play what farce or tragedy I may with him: but he who is to be my Ruler, whose will is to be higher than my will, was chosen for me in Heaven. Neither except in such Obedience to the Heaven-chosen is Freedom so much as conceivable.”

The Editor will here admit that, among all the wondrous provinces of Teufelsdrockh’s spiritual world, there is none he walks in with such astonishment, hesitation, and even pain, as in the Political. How, with our English love of Ministry and Opposition, and that generous conflict of Parties, mind warming itself against mind in their mutual wrestle for the Public Good, by which wrestle, indeed, is our invaluable Constitution kept warm and alive; how shall we domesticate ourselves in this spectral Necropolis, or rather City both of the Dead and of the Unborn, where the Present seems little other than an inconsiderable Film dividing the Past and the Future? In those dim long-drawn expanses, all is so immeasurable; much so disastrous, ghastly; your very radiances and straggling light-beams have a supernatural character. And then with such an indifference, such a prophetic peacefulness (accounting the inevitably coming as already here, to him all one whether it be distant by centuries or only by days), does he sit; — and live, you would say, rather in any other age than in his own! It is our painful duty to announce, or repeat, that, looking into this man, we discern a deep, silent, slow-burning, inextinguishable Radicalism, such as fills us with shuddering admiration.

Thus, for example, he appears to make little even of the Elective Franchise; at least so we interpret the following: “Satisfy yourselves,” he says, “by universal, indubitable experiment, even as ye are now doing or will do, whether FREEDOM, heaven-born and leading heavenward, and so vitally essential for us all, cannot peradventure be mechanically hatched and brought to light in that same Ballot-Box of yours; or at worst, in some other discoverable or devisable Box, Edifice, or Steam-mechanism. It were a mighty convenience; and beyond all feats of manufacture witnessed hitherto.” Is Teufelsdrockh acquainted with the British constitution, even slightly? — He says, under another figure: “But after all, were the problem, as indeed it now everywhere is, To rebuild your old House from the top downwards (since you must live in it the while), what better, what other, than the Representative Machine will serve your turn? Meanwhile, however, mock me not with the name of Free, ‘when you have but knit up my chains into ornamental festoons.’” — Or what will any member of the Peace Society make of such an assertion as this: “The lower people everywhere desire War. Not so unwisely; there is then a demand for lower people — to be shot!”

Gladly, therefore, do we emerge from those soul-confusing labyrinths of speculative Radicalism, into somewhat clearer regions. Here, looking round, as was our hest, for “organic filaments,” we ask, may not this, touching “Hero-worship,” be of the number? It seems of a cheerful character; yet so quaint, so mystical, one knows not what, or how little, may lie under it. Our readers shall look with their own eyes: —

“True is it that, in these days, man can do almost all things, only not obey. True likewise that whoso cannot obey cannot be free, still less bear rule; he that is the inferior of nothing, can be the superior of nothing, the equal of nothing. Nevertheless, believe not that man has lost his faculty of Reverence; that if it slumber in him, it has gone dead. Painful for man is that same rebellious Independence, when it has become inevitable; only in loving companionship with his fellows does he feel safe; only in reverently bowing down before the Higher does he feel himself exalted.

“Or what if the character of our so troublous Era lay even in this: that man had forever cast away Fear, which is the lower; but not yet risen into perennial Reverence, which is the higher and highest?

“Meanwhile, observe with joy, so cunningly has Nature ordered it, that whatsoever man ought to obey, he cannot but obey. Before no faintest revelation of the Godlike did he ever stand irreverent; least of all, when the Godlike showed itself revealed in his fellow-man. Thus is there a true religious Loyalty forever rooted in his heart; nay in all ages, even in ours, it manifests itself as a more or less orthodox Hero-worship. In which fact, that Hero-worship exists, has existed, and will forever exist, universally among Mankind, mayest thou discern the corner-stone of living rock, whereon all Polities for the remotest time may stand secure.”

Do our readers discern any such corner-stone, or even so much as what Teufelsdrockh, is looking at? He exclaims, “Or hast thou forgotten Paris and Voltaire? How the aged, withered man, though but a Sceptic, Mocker, and millinery Court-poet, yet because even he seemed the Wisest, Best, could drag mankind at his chariot-wheels, so that princes coveted a smile from him, and the loveliest of France would have laid their hair beneath his feet! All Paris was one vast Temple of Hero-worship; though their Divinity, moreover, was of feature too apish.

“But if such things,” continues he, “were done in the dry tree, what will be done in the green? If, in the most parched season of Man’s History, in the most parched spot of Europe, when Parisian life was at best but a scientific Hortus Siccus, bedizened with some Italian Gumflowers, such virtue could come out of it; what is to be looked for when Life again waves leafy and bloomy, and your Hero-Divinity shall have nothing apelike, but be wholly human? Know that there is in man a quite indestructible Reverence for whatsoever holds of Heaven, or even plausibly counterfeits such holding. Show the dullest clodpoll, show the haughtiest featherhead, that a soul higher than himself is actually here; were his knees stiffened into brass, he must down and worship.”

Organic filaments, of a more authentic sort, mysteriously spinning themselves, some will perhaps discover in the following passage: —

“There is no Church, sayest thou? The voice of Prophecy has gone dumb? This is even what I dispute: but in any case, hast thou not still Preaching enough? A Preaching Friar settles himself in every village; and builds a pulpit, which he calls Newspaper. Therefrom he preaches what most momentous doctrine is in him, for man’s salvation; and dost not thou listen, and believe? Look well, thou seest everywhere a new Clergy of the Mendicant Orders, some barefooted, some almost bare-backed, fashion itself into shape, and teach and preach, zealously enough, for copper alms and the love of God. These break in pieces the ancient idols; and, though themselves too often reprobate, as idol-breakers are wont to be, mark out the sites of new Churches, where the true God-ordained, that are to follow, may find audience, and minister. Said I not, Before the old skin was shed, the new had formed itself beneath it?”

Perhaps also in the following; wherewith we now hasten to knit up this ravelled sleeve: —

“But there is no Religion?” reiterates the Professor. “Fool! I tell thee, there is. Hast thou well considered all that lies in this immeasurable froth-ocean we name LITERATURE? Fragments of a genuine Church-Homiletic lie scattered there, which Time will assort: nay fractions even of a Liturgy could I point out. And knowest thou no Prophet, even in the vesture, environment, and dialect of this age? None to whom the Godlike had revealed itself, through all meanest and highest forms of the Common; and by him been again prophetically revealed: in whose inspired melody, even in these rag-gathering and rag-burning days, Man’s Life again begins, were it but afar off, to be divine? Knowest thou none such? I know him, and name him — Goethe.

“But thou as yet standest in no Temple; joinest in no Psalm-worship; feelest well that, where there is no ministering Priest, the people perish? Be of comfort! Thou art not alone, if thou have Faith. Spake we not of a Communion of Saints, unseen, yet not unreal, accompanying and brother-like embracing thee, so thou be worthy? Their heroic Sufferings rise up melodiously together to Heaven, out of all lands, and out of all times, as a sacred Miserere; their heroic Actions also, as a boundless everlasting Psalm of Triumph. Neither say that thou hast now no Symbol of the Godlike. Is not God’s Universe a Symbol of the Godlike; is not Immensity a Temple; is not Man’s History, and Men’s History, a perpetual Evangel? Listen, and for organ-music thou wilt ever, as of old, hear the Morning Stars sing together.”

CHAPTER VIII. NATURAL SUPERNATURALISM.


It is in his stupendous Section, headed Natural Supernaturalism, that the Professor first becomes a Seer; and, after long effort, such as we have witnessed, finally subdues under his feet this refractory Clothes-Philosophy, and takes victorious possession thereof. Phantasms enough he has had to struggle with; “Cloth-webs and Cob-webs,” of Imperial Mantles, Superannuated Symbols, and what not: yet still did he courageously pierce through. Nay, worst of all, two quite mysterious, world-embracing Phantasms, TIME and SPACE, have ever hovered round him, perplexing and bewildering: but with these also he now resolutely grapples, these also he victoriously rends asunder. In a word, he has looked fixedly on Existence, till, one after the other, its earthly hulls and garnitures have all melted away; and now, to his rapt vision, the interior celestial Holy-of-Holies lies disclosed.

Here, therefore, properly it is that the Philosophy of Clothes attains to Transcendentalism; this last leap, can we but clear it, takes us safe into the promised land, where Palingenesia, in all senses, may be considered as beginning. “Courage, then!” may our Diogenes exclaim, with better right than Diogenes the First once did. This stupendous Section we, after long painful meditation, have found not to be unintelligible; but, on the contrary, to grow clear, nay radiant, and all-illuminating. Let the reader, turning on it what utmost force of speculative intellect is in him, do his part; as we, by judicious selection and adjustment, shall study to do ours: —

“Deep has been, and is, the significance of Miracles,” thus quietly begins the Professor; “far deeper perhaps than we imagine. Meanwhile, the question of questions were: What specially is a Miracle? To that Dutch King of Siam, an icicle had been a miracle; whoso had carried with him an air-pump, and vial of vitriolic ether, might have worked a miracle. To my Horse, again, who unhappily is still more unscientific, do not I work a miracle, and magical ‘Open sesame!’ every time I please to pay twopence, and open for him an impassable Schlagbaum, or shut Turnpike?

“‘But is not a real Miracle simply a violation of the Laws of Nature?’ ask several. Whom I answer by this new question: What are the Laws of Nature? To me perhaps the rising of one from the dead were no violation of these Laws, but a confirmation; were some far deeper Law, now first penetrated into, and by Spiritual Force, even as the rest have all been, brought to bear on us with its Material Force.

“Here too may some inquire, not without astonishment: On what ground shall one, that can make Iron swim, come and declare that therefore he can teach Religion? To us, truly, of the Nineteenth Century, such declaration were inept enough; which nevertheless to our fathers, of the First Century, was full of meaning.

“‘But is it not the deepest Law of Nature that she be constant?’ cries an illuminated class: ‘Is not the Machine of the Universe fixed to move by unalterable rules?’ Probable enough, good friends: nay I, too, must believe that the God, whom ancient inspired men assert to be ‘without variableness or shadow of turning,’ does indeed never change; that Nature, that the Universe, which no one whom it so pleases can be prevented from calling a Machine, does move by the most unalterable rules. And now of you, too, I make the old inquiry: What those same unalterable rules, forming the complete Statute-Book of Nature, may possibly be?

“They stand written in our Works of Science, say you; in the accumulated records of Man’s Experience? — Was Man with his Experience present at the Creation, then, to see how it all went on? Have any deepest scientific individuals yet dived down to the foundations of the Universe, and gauged everything there? Did the Maker take them into His counsel; that they read His ground-plan of the incomprehensible All; and can say, This stands marked therein, and no more than this? Alas, not in anywise! These scientific individuals have been nowhere but where we also are; have seen some hand breadths deeper than we see into the Deep that is infinite, without bottom as without shore.

“Laplace’s Book on the Stars, wherein he exhibits that certain Planets, with their Satellites, gyrate round our worthy Sun, at a rate and in a course, which, by greatest good fortune, he and the like of him have succeeded in detecting, — is to me as precious as to another. But is this what thou namest ‘Mechanism of the Heavens,’ and ‘System of the World;’ this, wherein Sirius and the Pleiades, and all Herschel’s Fifteen thousand Suns per minute, being left out, some paltry handful of Moons, and inert Balls, had been — looked at, nick-named, and marked in the Zodiacal Way-bill; so that we can now prate of their Whereabout; their How, their Why, their What, being hid from us, as in the signless Inane?

“System of Nature! To the wisest man, wide as is his vision, Nature remains of quite infinite depth, of quite infinite expansion; and all Experience thereof limits itself to some few computed centuries and measured square-miles. The course of Nature’s phases, on this our little fraction of a Planet, is partially known to us: but who knows what deeper courses these depend on; what infinitely larger Cycle (of causes) our little Epicycle revolves on? To the Minnow every cranny and pebble, and quality and accident, of its little native Creek may have become familiar: but does the Minnow understand the Ocean Tides and periodic Currents, the Trade-winds, and Monsoons, and Moon’s Eclipses; by all which the condition of its little Creek is regulated, and may, from time to time (unmiraculously enough), be quite overset and reversed? Such a minnow is Man; his Creek this Planet Earth; his Ocean the immeasurable All; his Monsoons and periodic Currents the mysterious Course of Providence through AEons of AEons.

“We speak of the Volume of Nature: and truly a Volume it is, — whose Author and Writer is God. To read it! Dost thou, does man, so much as well know the Alphabet thereof? With its Words, Sentences, and grand descriptive Pages, poetical and philosophical, spread out through Solar Systems, and Thousands of Years, we shall not try thee. It is a Volume written in celestial hieroglyphs, in the true Sacred-writing; of which even Prophets are happy that they can read here a line and there a line. As for your Institutes, and Academies of Science, they strive bravely; and, from amid the thick-crowded, inextricably intertwisted hieroglyphic writing, pick out, by dexterous combination, some Letters in the vulgar Character, and therefrom put together this and the other economic Recipe, of high avail in Practice. That Nature is more than some boundless Volume of such Recipes, or huge, well-nigh inexhaustible Domestic-Cookery Book, of which the whole secret will in this manner one day evolve itself, the fewest dream.

“Custom,” continues the Professor, “doth make dotards of us all. Consider well, thou wilt find that Custom is the greatest of Weavers; and weaves air-raiment for all the Spirits of the Universe; whereby indeed these dwell with us visibly, as ministering servants, in our houses and workshops; but their spiritual nature becomes, to the most, forever hidden. Philosophy complains that Custom has hoodwinked us, from the first; that we do everything by Custom, even Believe by it; that our very Axioms, let us boast of Free-thinking as we may, are oftenest simply such Beliefs as we have never heard questioned. Nay, what is Philosophy throughout but a continual battle against Custom; an ever-renewed effort to transcend the sphere of blind Custom, and so become Transcendental?

“Innumerable are the illusions and legerdemain-tricks of Custom: but of all these, perhaps the cleverest is her knack of persuading us that the Miraculous, by simple repetition, ceases to be Miraculous. True, it is by this means we live; for man must work as well as wonder: and herein is Custom so far a kind nurse, guiding him to his true benefit. But she is a fond foolish nurse, or rather we are false foolish nurslings, when, in our resting and reflecting hours, we prolong the same deception. Am I to view the Stupendous with stupid indifference, because I have seen it twice, or two hundred, or two million times? There is no reason in Nature or in Art why I should: unless, indeed, I am a mere Work-Machine, for whom the divine gift of Thought were no other than the terrestrial gift of Steam is to the Steam-engine; a power whereby cotton might be spun, and money and money’s worth realized.

“Notable enough too, here as elsewhere, wilt thou find the potency of Names; which indeed are but one kind of such custom-woven, wonder-hiding Garments. Witchcraft, and all manner of Spectre-work, and Demonology, we have now named Madness, and Diseases of the Nerves. Seldom reflecting that still the new question comes upon us: What is Madness, what are Nerves? Ever, as before, does Madness remain a mysterious-terrific, altogether infernal boiling-up of the Nether Chaotic Deep, through this fair-painted Vision of Creation, which swims thereon, which we name the Real. Was Luther’s Picture of the Devil less a Reality, whether it were formed within the bodily eye, or without it? In every the wisest Soul lies a whole world of internal Madness, an authentic Demon-Empire; out of which, indeed, his world of Wisdom has been creatively built together, and now rests there, as on its dark foundations does a habitable flowery Earth rind.

“But deepest of all illusory Appearances, for hiding Wonder, as for many other ends, are your two grand fundamental world-enveloping Appearances, SPACE and TIME. These, as spun and woven for us from before Birth itself, to clothe our celestial ME for dwelling here, and yet to blind it, — lie all-embracing, as the universal canvas, or warp and woof, whereby all minor Illusions, in this Phantasm Existence, weave and paint themselves. In vain, while here on Earth, shall you endeavor to strip them off; you can, at best, but rend them asunder for moments, and look through.

“Fortunatus had a wishing Hat, which when he put on, and wished himself Anywhere, behold he was There. By this means had Fortunatus triumphed over Space, he had annihilated Space; for him there was no Where, but all was Here. Were a Hatter to establish himself, in the Wahngasse of Weissnichtwo, and make felts of this sort for all mankind, what a world we should have of it! Still stranger, should, on the opposite side of the street, another Hatter establish himself; and, as his fellow-craftsman made Space-annihilating Hats, make Time-annihilating! Of both would I purchase, were it with my last groschen; but chiefly of this latter. To clap on your felt, and, simply by wishing that you were Anywhere, straightway to be There! Next to clap on your other felt, and, simply by wishing that you were Anywhen, straightway to be Then! This were indeed the grander: shooting at will from the Fire-Creation of the World to its Fire-Consummation; here historically present in the First Century, conversing face to face with Paul and Seneca; there prophetically in the Thirty-first, conversing also face to face with other Pauls and Senecas, who as yet stand hidden in the depth of that late Time!

“Or thinkest thou it were impossible, unimaginable? Is the Past annihilated, then, or only past; is the Future non-extant, or only future? Those mystic faculties of thine, Memory and Hope, already answer: already through those mystic avenues, thou the Earth-blinded summonest both Past and Future, and communest with them, though as yet darkly, and with mute beckonings. The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the curtains of To-morrow roll up; but Yesterday and To-morrow both are. Pierce through the Time-element, glance into the Eternal. Believe what thou findest written in the sanctuaries of Man’s Soul, even as all Thinkers, in all ages, have devoutly read it there: that Time and Space are not God, but creations of God; that with God as it is a universal HERE, so is it an everlasting Now.

“And seest thou therein any glimpse of IMMORTALITY? — O Heaven! Is the white Tomb of our Loved One, who died from our arms, and had to be left behind us there, which rises in the distance, like a pale, mournfully receding Milestone, to tell how many toilsome uncheered miles we have journeyed on alone, — but a pale spectral Illusion! Is the lost Friend still mysteriously Here, even as we are Here mysteriously, with God! — know of a truth that only the Time-shadows have perished, or are perishable; that the real Being of whatever was, and whatever is, and whatever will be, is even now and forever. This, should it unhappily seem new, thou mayest ponder at thy leisure; for the next twenty years, or the next twenty centuries: believe it thou must; understand it thou canst not.

“That the Thought-forms, Space and Time, wherein, once for all, we are sent into this Earth to live, should condition and determine our whole Practical reasonings, conceptions, and imagings or imaginings, seems altogether fit, just, and unavoidable. But that they should, furthermore, usurp such sway over pure spiritual Meditation, and blind us to the wonder everywhere lying close on us, seems nowise so. Admit Space and Time to their due rank as Forms of Thought; nay even, if thou wilt, to their quite undue rank of Realities: and consider, then, with thyself how their thin disguises hide from us the brightest God-effulgences! Thus, were it not miraculous, could I stretch forth my hand and clutch the Sun? Yet thou seest me daily stretch forth my hand and therewith clutch many a thing, and swing it hither and thither. Art thou a grown baby, then, to fancy that the Miracle lies in miles of distance, or in pounds avoirdupois of weight; and not to see that the true inexplicable God-revealing Miracle lies in this, that I can stretch forth my hand at all; that I have free Force to clutch aught therewith? Innumerable other of this sort are the deceptions, and wonder-hiding stupefactions, which Space practices on us.

“Still worse is it with regard to Time. Your grand anti-magician, and universal wonder-hider, is this same lying Time. Had we but the Time-annihilating Hat, to put on for once only, we should see ourselves in a World of Miracles, wherein all fabled or authentic Thaumaturgy, and feats of Magic, were outdone. But unhappily we have not such a Hat; and man, poor fool that he is, can seldom and scantily help himself without one.

“Were it not wonderful, for instance, had Orpheus, or Amphion, built the walls of Thebes by the mere sound of his Lyre? Yet tell me, Who built these walls of Weissnichtwo; summoning out all the sandstone rocks, to dance along from the Steinbruch (now a huge Troglodyte Chasm, with frightful green-mantled pools); and shape themselves into Doric and Ionic pillars, squared ashlar houses and noble streets? Was it not the still higher Orpheus, or Orpheuses, who, in past centuries, by the divine Music of Wisdom, succeeded in civilizing Man? Our highest Orpheus walked in Judea, eighteen hundred years ago: his sphere-melody, flowing in wild native tones, took captive the ravished souls of men; and, being of a truth sphere-melody, still flows and sounds, though now with thousand-fold accompaniments, and rich symphonies, through all our hearts; and modulates, and divinely leads them. Is that a wonder, which happens in two hours; and does it cease to be wonderful if happening in two million? Not only was Thebes built by the music of an Orpheus; but without the music of some inspired Orpheus was no city ever built, no work that man glories in ever done.

“Sweep away the Illusion of Time; glance, if thou have eyes, from the near moving-cause to its far distant Mover: The stroke that came transmitted through a whole galaxy of elastic balls, was it less a stroke than if the last ball only had been struck, and sent flying? Oh, could I (with the Time-annihilating Hat) transport thee direct from the Beginnings, to the Endings, how were thy eyesight unsealed, and thy heart set flaming in the Light-sea of celestial wonder! Then sawest thou that this fair Universe, were it in the meanest province thereof, is in very deed the star-domed City of God; that through every star, through every grass-blade, and most through every Living Soul, the glory of a present God still beams. But Nature, which is the Time-vesture of God, and reveals Him to the wise, hides Him from the foolish.

“Again, could anything be more miraculous than an actual authentic Ghost? The English Johnson longed, all his life, to see one; but could not, though he went to Cock Lane, and thence to the church-vaults, and tapped on coffins. Foolish Doctor! Did he never, with the mind’s eye as well as with the body’s, look round him into that full tide of human Life he so loved; did he never so much as look into Himself? The good Doctor was a Ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish; well-nigh a million of Ghosts were travelling the streets by his side. Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of Time; compress the threescore years into three minutes: what else was he, what else are we? Are we not Spirits, that are shaped into a body, into an Appearance; and that fade away again into air and Invisibility? This is no metaphor, it is a simple scientific fact: we start out of Nothingness, take figure, and are Apparitions; round us, as round the veriest spectre, is Eternity; and to Eternity minutes are as years and aeons. Come there not tones of Love and Faith, as from celestial harp-strings, like the Song of beatified Souls? And again, do not we squeak and gibber (in our discordant, screech-owlish debatings and recriminatings); and glide bodeful, and feeble, and fearful; or uproar (poltern), and revel in our mad Dance of the Dead, — till the scent of the morning air summons us to our still Home; and dreamy Night becomes awake and Day? Where now is Alexander of Macedon: does the steel Host, that yelled in fierce battle-shouts at Issus and Arbela, remain behind him; or have they all vanished utterly, even as perturbed Goblins must? Napoleon too, and his Moscow Retreats and Austerlitz Campaigns! Was it all other than the veriest Spectre-hunt; which has now, with its howling tumult that made Night hideous, flitted away? — Ghosts! There are nigh a thousand million walking the Earth openly at noontide; some half-hundred have vanished from it, some half-hundred have arisen in it, ere thy watch ticks once.

“O Heaven, it is mysterious, it is awful to consider that we not only carry each a future Ghost within him; but are, in very deed, Ghosts! These Limbs, whence had we them; this stormy Force; this life-blood with its burning Passion? They are dust and shadow; a Shadow-system gathered round our ME: wherein, through some moments or years, the Divine Essence is to be revealed in the Flesh. That warrior on his strong war-horse, fire flashes through his eyes; force dwells in his arm and heart: but warrior and war-horse are a vision; a revealed Force, nothing more. Stately they tread the Earth, as if it were a firm substance: fool! the Earth is but a film; it cracks in twain, and warrior and war-horse sink beyond plummet’s sounding. Plummet’s? Fantasy herself will not follow them. A little while ago, they were not; a little while, and they are not, their very ashes are not.

“So has it been from the beginning, so will it be to the end. Generation after generation takes to itself the Form of a Body; and forth issuing from Cimmerian Night, on Heaven’s mission APPEARS. What Force and Fire is in each he expends: one grinding in the mill of Industry; one hunter-like climbing the giddy Alpine heights of Science; one madly dashed in pieces on the rocks of Strife, in war with his fellow: — and then the Heaven-sent is recalled; his earthly Vesture falls away, and soon even to Sense becomes a vanished Shadow. Thus, like some wild-flaming, wild-thundering train of Heaven’s Artillery, does this mysterious MANKIND thunder and flame, in long-drawn, quick-succeeding grandeur, through the unknown Deep. Thus, like a God-created, fire-breathing Spirit-host, we emerge from the Inane; haste stormfully across the astonished Earth; then plunge again into the Inane. Earth’s mountains are levelled, and her seas filled up, in our passage: can the Earth, which is but dead and a vision, resist Spirits which have reality and are alive? On the hardest adamant some footprint of us is stamped in; the last Rear of the host will read traces of the earliest Van. But whence? — O Heaven whither? Sense knows not; Faith knows not; only that it is through Mystery to Mystery, from God and to God.

‘We are such stuff
     As Dreams are made of, and our little Life
     Is rounded with a sleep!’”

CHAPTER IX. CIRCUMSPECTIVE.


Here, then, arises the so momentous question: Have many British Readers actually arrived with us at the new promised country; is the Philosophy of Clothes now at last opening around them? Long and adventurous has the journey been: from those outmost vulgar, palpable Woollen Hulls of Man; through his wondrous Flesh-Garments, and his wondrous Social Garnitures; inwards to the Garments of his very Soul’s Soul, to Time and Space themselves! And now does the spiritual, eternal Essence of Man, and of Mankind, bared of such wrappages, begin in any measure to reveal itself? Can many readers discern, as through a glass darkly, in huge wavering outlines, some primeval rudiments of Man’s Being, what is changeable divided from what is unchangeable? Does that Earth-Spirit’s speech in Faust, —

“’Tis thus at the roaring Loom of Time I ply,
     And weave for God the Garment thou seest Him by;”

or that other thousand-times repeated speech of the Magician, Shakespeare, —

“And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
     The cloud-capt Towers, the gorgeous Palaces,
     The solemn Temples, the great Globe itself,
     And all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
     And like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
     Leave not a wrack behind;”

begin to have some meaning for us? In a word, do we at length stand safe in the far region of Poetic Creation and Palingenesia, where that Phoenix Death-Birth of Human Society, and of all Human Things, appears possible, is seen to be inevitable?

Along this most insufficient, unheard-of Bridge, which the Editor, by Heaven’s blessing, has now seen himself enabled to conclude if not complete, it cannot be his sober calculation, but only his fond hope, that many have travelled without accident. No firm arch, overspanning the Impassable with paved highway, could the Editor construct; only, as was said, some zigzag series of rafts floating tumultuously thereon. Alas, and the leaps from raft to raft were too often of a breakneck character; the darkness, the nature of the element, all was against us!

Nevertheless, may not here and there one of a thousand, provided with a discursiveness of intellect rare in our day, have cleared the passage, in spite of all? Happy few! little band of Friends! be welcome, be of courage. By degrees, the eye grows accustomed to its new Whereabout; the hand can stretch itself forth to work there: it is in this grand and indeed highest work of Palingenesia that ye shall labor, each according to ability. New laborers will arrive; new Bridges will be built; nay, may not our own poor rope-and-raft Bridge, in your passings and repassings, be mended in many a point, till it grow quite firm, passable even for the halt?

Meanwhile, of the innumerable multitude that started with us, joyous and full of hope, where now is the innumerable remainder, whom we see no longer by our side? The most have recoiled, and stand gazing afar off, in unsympathetic astonishment, at our career: not a few, pressing forward with more courage, have missed footing, or leaped short; and now swim weltering in the Chaos-flood, some towards this shore, some towards that. To these also a helping hand should be held out; at least some word of encouragement be said.

Or, to speak without metaphor, with which mode of utterance Teufelsdrockh unhappily has somewhat infected us, — can it be hidden from the Editor that many a British Reader sits reading quite bewildered in head, and afflicted rather than instructed by the present Work? Yes, long ago has many a British Reader been, as now, demanding with something like a snarl: Whereto does all this lead; or what use is in it?

In the way of replenishing thy purse, or otherwise aiding thy digestive faculty, O British Reader, it leads to nothing, and there is no use in it; but rather the reverse, for it costs thee somewhat. Nevertheless, if through this unpromising Horn-gate, Teufelsdrockh, and we by means of him, have led thee into the true Land of Dreams; and through the Clothes-Screen, as through a magical Pierre-Pertuis, thou lookest, even for moments, into the region of the Wonderful, and seest and feelest that thy daily life is girt with Wonder, and based on Wonder, and thy very blankets and breeches are Miracles, — then art thou profited beyond money’s worth; and hast a thankfulness towards our Professor; nay, perhaps in many a literary Tea-circle wilt open thy kind lips, and audibly express that same.

Nay farther, art not thou too perhaps by this time made aware that all Symbols are properly Clothes; that all Forms whereby Spirit manifests itself to sense, whether outwardly or in the imagination, are Clothes; and thus not only the parchment Magna Charta, which a Tailor was nigh cutting into measures, but the Pomp and Authority of Law, the sacredness of Majesty, and all inferior Worships (Worth-ships) are properly a Vesture and Raiment; and the Thirty-nine Articles themselves are articles of wearing-apparel (for the Religious Idea)? In which case, must it not also be admitted that this Science of Clothes is a high one, and may with infinitely deeper study on thy part yield richer fruit: that it takes scientific rank beside Codification, and Political Economy, and the Theory of the British Constitution; nay rather, from its prophetic height looks down on all these, as on so many weaving-shops and spinning-mills, where the Vestures which it has to fashion, and consecrate, and distribute, are, too often by haggard hungry operatives who see no farther than their nose, mechanically woven and spun?

But omitting all this, much more all that concerns Natural Supernaturalism, and indeed whatever has reference to the Ulterior or Transcendental portion of the Science, or bears never so remotely on that promised Volume of the Palingenesie der menschlichen Gesellschaft (Newbirth of Society), — we humbly suggest that no province of Clothes-Philosophy, even the lowest, is without its direct value, but that innumerable inferences of a practical nature may be drawn therefrom. To say nothing of those pregnant considerations, ethical, political, symbolical, which crowd on the Clothes-Philosopher from the very threshold of his Science; nothing even of those “architectural ideas,” which, as we have seen, lurk at the bottom of all Modes, and will one day, better unfolding themselves, lead to important revolutions, — let us glance for a moment, and with the faintest light of Clothes-Philosophy, on what may be called the Habilatory Class of our fellow-men. Here too overlooking, where so much were to be looked on, the million spinners, weavers, fullers, dyers, washers, and wringers, that puddle and muddle in their dark recesses, to make us Clothes, and die that we may live, — let us but turn the reader’s attention upon two small divisions of mankind, who, like moths, may be regarded as Cloth-animals, creatures that live, move and have their being in Cloth: we mean, Dandies and Tailors.

In regard to both which small divisions it may be asserted without scruple, that the public feeling, unenlightened by Philosophy, is at fault; and even that the dictates of humanity are violated. As will perhaps abundantly appear to readers of the two following Chapters.

Helotage

Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdroöckh, by Thomas Carlyle:

“Two men I honor, and no third. First, the toilworn Craftsman that with earth-made Implement laboriously conquers the Earth, and makes her man’s. Venerable to me is the hard Hand; crooked, coarse; wherein notwithstanding lies a cunning virtue, indefeasibly royal, as of the Sceptre of this Planet. Venerable too is the rugged face, all weather-tanned, besoiled, with its rude intelligence; for it is the face of a Man living manlike. Oh, but the more venerable for thy rudeness, and even because we must pity as well as love thee! Hardly-entreated Brother! For us was thy back so bent, for us were thy straight limbs and fingers so deformed: thou wert our Conscript, on whom the lot fell, and fighting our battles wert so marred. For in thee too lay a god-created Form, but it was not to be unfolded; encrusted must it stand with the thick adhesions and defacements of Labor: and thy body, like thy soul, was not to know freedom. Yet toil on, toil on: thou art in thy duty, be out of it who may; thou toilest for the altogether indispensable, for daily bread.

“A second man I honor, and still more highly: Him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable; not daily bread, but the bread of Life. Is not he too in his duty; endeavoring towards inward Harmony; revealing this, by act or by word, through all his outward endeavors, be they high or low? Highest of all, when his outward and his inward endeavor are one: when we can name him Artist; not earthly Craftsman only, but inspired Thinker, who with heaven-made Implement conquers Heaven for us! If the poor and humble toil that we have Food, must not the high and glorious toil for him in return, that he have Light, have Guidance, Freedom, Immortality? — These two, in all their degrees, I honor: all else is chaff and dust, which let the wind blow whither it listeth.

“Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united; and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man’s wants, is also toiling inwardly for the highest. Sublimer in this world know I nothing than a Peasant Saint, could such now anywhere be met with. Such a one will take thee back to Nazareth itself; thou wilt see the splendor of Heaven spring forth from the humblest depths of Earth, like a light shining in great darkness.”