Chapter 1




Phenomena


But, it is said, our religion is gone: we no longer believe in
St. Edmund, no longer see the figure of him 'on the rim of the
sky,' minatory or confirmatory! God's absolute Laws, sanctioned
by an eternal Heaven and an eternal Hell, have become Moral
Philosophies, sanctioned by able computations of Profit and
Loss, by weak considerations of Pleasures of Virtue and the
Moral Sublime.

It is even so. To speak in the ancient dialect, we 'have
forgotten God;'--in the most modern dialect and very truth of the
matter, we have taken up the Fact of this Universe as it _is
not._ We have quietly closed our eyes to the eternal Substance
of things, and opened them only to the Shews and Shams of things.
We quietly believe this Universe to be intrinsically a great
unintelligible PERHAPS; extrinsically, clear enough, it is a
great, most extensive Cattlefold and Workhouse, with most
extensive Kitchen-ranges, Dining-tables,--whereat he is wise who
can find a place! All the Truth of this Universe is uncertain;
only the profit and loss of it, the pudding and praise of it, are
and remain very visible to the practical man.

There is no longer any God for us! God's Laws are become a
Greatest-Happiness Principle, a Parliamentary Expediency: the
Heavens overarch us only as an Astronomical Time-keeper; a butt
for Herschel-telescopes to shoot science at, to shoot
sentimentalities at:--in our and old Jonson's dialect, man has
lost the _soul_ out of him; and now, after the due period,--
begins to find the want of it! This is verily the plague-spot;
centre of the universal Social Gangrene, threatening all modern
things with frightful death. To him that will consider it, here
is the stem, with its roots and taproot, with its world-wide
upas-boughs and accursed poison-exudations, under which the world
lies writhing in atrophy and agony. You touch the focal-centre
of all our disease, of our frightful nosology of diseases, when
you lay your hand on this. There is no religion; there is no
God; man has lost his soul, and vainly seeks antiseptic salt.
Vainly: in killing Kings, in passing Reform Bills, in French
Revolutions, Manchester Insurrections, is found no remedy. The
foul elephantine leprosy, alleviated for an hour, reappears in
new force and desperateness next hour.

For actually this is _not_ the real fact of the world; the world
is not made so, but otherwise!--Truly, any Society setting out
from this No-God hypothesis will arrive at a result or two. The
Unveracities, escorted, each Unveracity of them by its
corresponding Misery and Penalty; the Phantasms, and Fatuities,
and ten-years Corn-Law Debatings, that shall walk the Earth at
noonday,--must needs be numerous! The Universe _being_
intrinsically a Perhaps, being too probably an 'infinite Humbug,'
why should any minor Humbug astonish us? It is all according to
the order of Nature; and Phantasms riding with huge clatter
along the streets, from end to end of our existence, astonish
nobody. Enchanted St. Ives' Workhouses and Joe-Manton
Aristocracies; giant Working Mammonism near strangled in the
partridge-nets of giant-looking Idle Dilettantism,--this, in all
its branches, in its thousand thousand modes and figures, is a
sight familiar to us.


The Popish Religion, we are told, flourishes extremely in these
years; and is the most vivacious-looking religion to be met with
at present. _"Elle a trois cents ans dans le ventre,"_ counts M.
Jouffroy; _"c'est pourquoi je la respecte!"_--The old Pope of
Rome, finding it laborious to kneel so long while they cart him
through the streets to bless the people on _Corpus-Christi_ Day,
complains of rheumatism; whereupon his Cardinals consult;--
construct him, after some study, a stuffed cloaked figure, of
iron and wood, with wool or baked hair; and place it in a
kneeling posture. Stuffed figure, or rump of a figure; to this
stuffed rump he, sitting at his ease on a lower level, joins, by
the aid of cloaks and drapery, his living head and outspread
hands: the rump with its cloaks kneels, the Pope looks, and
holds his hands spread; and so the two in concert bless the
Roman population on _Corpus-Christi_ Day, as well as they can.

I have considered this amphibious Pope, with the wool-and-iron
back, with the flesh head and hands; and endeavoured to
calculate his horoscope. I reckon him the remarkablest Pontiff
that has darkened God's daylight, or painted himself in the human
retina, for these several thousand years. Nay, since Chaos first
shivered, and 'sneezed,' as the Arabs say, with the first shaft
of sunlight shot through it, what stranger product was there of
Nature and Art working together? Here is a Supreme Priest who
believes God to be--What in the name of God _does_ he believe God
to be?--and discerns that all worship of God is a scenic
phantasmagory of wax-candles, organ-blasts, Gregorian Chants,
mass-brayings, purple monsignori, wool-and-iron rumps,
artistically spread out,--to save the ignorant from worse.

O reader, I say not who are Belial's elect. This poor amphibious
Pope too gives loaves to the Poor; has in him more good latent
than he is himself aware of. His poor Jesuits, in the late
Italian Cholera, were, with a few German Doctors, the only
creatures whom dastard terror had not driven mad: they descended
fearless into all gulfs and bedlams; watched over the pillow of
the dying, with help, with counsel and hope; shone as luminous
fixed stars, when all else had gone out in chaotic night: honour
to them! This poor Pope,--who knows what good is in him? In a
Time otherwise too prone to forget, he keeps up the mournfulest
ghastly memorial of the Highest, Blessedest, which once was;
which, in new fit forms, will again partly have to be. Is he not
as a perpetual death's-head and cross-bones, with their
_Resurgam,_ on the grave of a Universal Heroism,--grave of a
Christianity? Such Noblenesses, purchased by the world's best
heart's-blood, must not be lost; we cannot afford to lose them,
in what confusions soever. To all of us the day will come, to a
few of us it has already come, when no mortal, with his heart
yearning for a 'Divine Humility,' or other 'Highest form of
Valour,' will need to look for it in death's-heads, but will see
it round him in here and there a beautiful living head.

Besides, there is in this poor Pope, and his practice of the
Scenic Theory of Worship, a frankness which I rather honour. Not
half and half, but with undivided heart does _he_ set about
worshiping by stage-machinery; as if there were now, and could
again be, in Nature no other. He will ask you, What other?
Under this my Gregorian Chant, and beautiful wax-light
Phantasmagory, kindly hidden from you is an Abyss, of black
Doubt, Scepticism, nay Sansculottic Jacobinism; an Orcus that
has no bottom. Think of that. 'Groby Pool _is_ thatched with
pancakes,'--as Jeannie Deans's Innkeeper defied it to be! The
Bottomless of Scepticism, Atheism, Jacobinism, behold, it is
thatched over, hidden from your despair, by stage-properties
judiciously arranged. This stuffed rump of mine saves not me
only from rheumatism, but you also from what other _isms!_ In
this your Life-pilgrimage Nowhither, a fine Squallacci marching-
music, and Gregorian Chant, accompanies you, and the hollow Night
of Orcus is well hid!

Yes truly, few men that worship by the rotatory Calabash of the
Calmucks do it in half so great, frank or effectual a way.
Drury-lane, it is said, and that is saying much, may learn from
him in the dressing of parts, in the arrangement of lights and
shadows. He is the greatest Play-actor that at present draws
salary in this world. Poor Pope; and I am told he is fast
growing bankrupt too; and will, in a measurable term of years (a
great way _within_ the 'three hundred'), not have a penny to make
his pot boil! His old rheumatic back will then get to rest; and
himself and his stage-properties sleep well in Chaos forevermore.


Or, alas, why go to Rome for Phantasms walking the streets?
Phantasms, ghosts, in this midnight hour, hold jubilee, and
screech and jabber; and the question rather were, What high
Reality anywhere is yet awake? Aristocracy has become Phantasm-
Aristocracy, no longer able to _do_ its work, not in the least
conscious that it has any work longer to do. Unable, totally
careless to _do_ its work; careful only to clamour for the
_wages_ of doing its work,--nay for higher, and _palpably_ undue
wages, and Corn-Laws and _increase_ of rents; the old rate of
wages not being adequate now! In hydra-wrestle, giant
_'Millo_cracy' so-called, a real giant, though as yet a blind one
and but half-awake, wrestles and wrings in choking nightmare,
'like to be strangled in the partridge-nets of Phantasm-
Aristocracy,' as we said, which fancies itself still to be a
giant. Wrestles, as under nightmare, till it do awaken; and
gasps and struggles thousandfold, we may say, in a truly painful
manner, through all fibres of our English Existence, in these
hours and years! Is our poor English Existence wholly becoming a
Nightmare; full of mere Phantasms?--

The Champion of England, cased in iron or tin, rides into
Westminster Hall, 'being lifted into his saddle with little
assistance,' and there asks, If in the four quarters of the
world, under the cope of Heaven, is any man or demon that dare
question the right of this King? Under the cope of Heaven no man
makes intelligible answer,--as several men ought already to have
done. Does not this Champion too know the world; that it is a
huge Imposture, and bottomless Inanity, thatched over with bright
cloth and other ingenious tissues? Him let us leave there,
questioning all men and demons.

Him we have left to his destiny; but whom else have we found?
From this the highest apex of things, downwards through all
strata and breadths, how many fully awakened Realities have we
fallen in with:--alas, on the contrary, what troops and
populations of Phantasms, not God-Veracities but Devil-Falsities,
down to the very lowest stratum,--which now, by such
superincumbent weight of Unveracities, lies enchanted in St.
Ives' Workhouses, broad enough, helpless enough! You will walk
in no public thoroughfare or remotest byway of English Existence
but you will meet a man, an interest of men, that has given up
hope in the Everlasting, True, and placed its hope in the
Temporary, half or wholly False. The Honourable Member complains
unmusically that there is 'devil's-dust' in Yorkshire cloth.
Yorkshire cloth,--why, the very Paper I now write on is made, it
seems, partly of plaster-lime well-smoothed, and obstructs my
writing! You are lucky if you can find now any good Paper,--any
work really _done;_ search where you will, from highest Phantasm
apex to lowest Enchanted basis!

Consider, for example, that great Hat seven-feet high, which now
perambulates London Streets; which my Friend Sauerteig regarded
justly as one of our English notabilities; "the topmost point as
yet," said he, "would it were your culminating and returning
point, to which English Puffery has been observed to reach!"--The
Hatter in the Strand of London, instead of making better felt-
hats than another, mounts a huge lath-and-plaster Hat, seven-feet
high, upon wheels; sends a man to drive it through the streets;
hoping to be saved _thereby._ He has not attempted to _make_
better hats, as he was appointed by the Universe to do, and as
with this ingenuity of his he could very probably have done; but
his whole industry is turned to persuade us that he has made
such! He too knows that the Quack has become God. Laugh not at
him, O reader; or do not laugh only. He has ceased to be comic;
he is fast becoming tragic. To me this all-deafening blast of
Puffery, of poor Falsehood grown necessitous, of poor Heart-
Atheism fallen now into Enchanted Workhouses, sounds too surely
like a Doom's-blast! I have to say to myself in old dialect:
"God's blessing is not written on all this, His curse is written
on all this!" Unless perhaps the Universe be a chimera;--some
old totally deranged eightday clock, dead as brass; which
the Maker, if there ever was any Maker, has long ceased to
meddle with?--To my Friend Sauerteig this poor seven-feet
Hat-manufacturer, as the topstone of English Puffery, was
very notable.

Alas, that we natives note him little, that we view him as a
thing of course, is the very burden of the misery. We take it
for granted, the most rigorous of us, that all men who have made
anything are expected and entitled to make the loudest possible
proclamation of it; call on a discerning public to reward them
for it. Every man his own trumpeter; that is, to a really
alarming extent, the accepted rule. Make loudest possible
proclamation of your Hat: true proclamation if that will do; if
that will not do, then false proclamation,--to such extent of
falsity as will serve your purpose; as will not seem too false
to be credible!--I answer, once for all, that the fact is not so.
Nature requires no man to make proclamation of his doings and
hat-makings; Nature forbids all men to make such. There is not
a man or hat-maker born into the world but feels, at first, that
he is degrading himself if he speak of his excellencies and
prowesses, and supremacy in his craft: his inmost heart says to
him, "Leave thy friends to speak of these; if possible, thy
enemies to speak of these; but at all events, thy friends!" He
feels that he is already a poor braggart; fast hastening to be a
falsity and speaker of the Untruth.

Nature's Laws, I must repeat, are eternal: her small still
voice, speaking from the inmost heart of us, shall not, under
terrible penalties, be disregarded. No one man can depart from
the truth without damage to himself; no one million of men; no
Twenty-seven Millions of men. Shew me a Nation fallen everywhere
into this course, so that each expects it, permits it to others
and himself, I will shew you a Nation traveling with one assent
on the broad way. The broad way, however many Banks of England,
Cotton-Mills and Duke's Palaces it may have! Not at happy
Elysian fields, and everlasting crowns of victory, earned by
silent Valour, will this Nation arrive; but at precipices,
devouring gulfs, if it pause not. Nature has appointed happy
fields, victorious laurel-crowns; but only to the brave and
true: _Un_nature, what we call Chaos, holds nothing in it but
vacuities, devouring gulfs. What are Twenty-seven Millions, and
their unanimity? Believe them not: the Worlds and the Ages, God
and Nature and All Men say otherwise.

'Rhetoric all this?' No, my brother, very singular to say, it is
Fact all this. Cocker's Arithmetic is not truer. Forgotten in
these days, it is old as the foundations of the Universe, and
will endure till the Universe cease. It is forgotten now; and
the first mention of it puckers thy sweet countenance into a
sneer: but it will be brought to mind again,--unless indeed the
Law of Gravitation chance to cease, and men find that they can
walk on vacancy. Unanimity of the Twenty-seven Millions will do
nothing: walk not thou with them; fly from them as for thy
life. Twenty-seven Millions traveling on such courses, with gold
jingling in every pocket, with vivats heaven-high, are
incessantly advancing, let me again remind thee, towards the
_firm-land's end,_--towards the end and extinction of what
Faithfulness, Veracity, real Worth, was in their way of life.
Their noble ancestors have fashioned for them a 'life-road!'--in
how many thousand senses, this! There is not an old wise Proverb
on their tongue, an honest Principle articulated in their hearts
into utterance, a wise true method of doing and despatching any
work or commerce of men, but helps yet to carry them forward.
Life is still possible to them, because all is not yet Puffery,
Falsity, Mammon-worship and Unnature; because somewhat is yet
Faithfulness, Veracity and Valour. With a certain very
considerable finite quantity of Unveracity and Phantasm, social
life is still possible; not with an infinite quantity! Exceed
your certain quantity, the seven-feet Hat, and all things upwards
to the very Champion cased in tin, begin to reel and flounder,--
in Manchester Insurrections, Chartisms, Sliding-scales; the Law
of Gravitation not forgetting to act. You advance incessantly
towards the land's end; you are, literally enough, 'consuming
the way.' Step after step, Twenty-seven Million unconscious
men;--till you are at the land's end; till there is not
Faithfulness enough among you any more: and the next step now is
lifted _not_ over land, but into air, over ocean-deeps and
roaring abysses:--unless perhaps the Law of Gravitation have
forgotten to act?

O, it is frightful when a whole Nation, as our Fathers used to
say, has 'forgotten God;' has remembered only Mammon, and what
Mammon leads to! When your self-trumpeting Hatmaker is the
emblem of almost all makers, and workers, and men, that make
anything,--from soul-overseerships, body-overseerships, epic
poems, acts of parliament, to hats and shoe-blacking! Not one
false man but does uncountable mischief: how much, in a
generation or two, will Twenty-seven Millions, mostly false,
manage to accumulate? The sum of it, visible in every street,
marketplace, senate-house, circulating-library, cathedral,
cotton-mill, and union-workhouse, fills one _not_ with a
comic feeling!



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