Chapter 13




Democracy


If the Serene Highnesses and Majesties do not take note of that,
then, as I perceive, _that_ will take note of itself! The time
for levity, insincerity, and idle babble and play-acting, in all
kinds, is gone by; it is a serious, grave time. Old long-vexed
questions, not yet solved in logical words or parliamentary laws,
are fast solving themselves in facts, somewhat unblessed to
behold! This largest of questions, this question of Work and
Wages, which ought, had we heeded Heaven's voice, to have begun
two generations ago or more, cannot be delayed longer without
hearing Earth's voice. 'Labour' will verily need to be somewhat
'organised,' as they say,--God knows with what difficulty. Man
will actually need to have his debts and earnings a little better
paid by man; which, let Parliaments speak of them or be silent
of them, are eternally his due from man, and cannot, without
penalty and at length not without death-penalty, be withheld.
How much ought to cease among us straightway; how much ought to
begin straightway, while the hours yet are!

Truly they are strange results to which this of leaving all to
'Cash;' of quietly shutting up the God's Temple, and gradually
opening wide-open the Mammon's Temple, with 'Laissez-faire, and
Every man for himself,'--have led us in these days! We have
Upper, speaking Classes, who indeed do 'speak' as never man spake
before; the withered flimsiness, the godless baseness and
barrenness of whose Speech might of itself indicate what kind of
Doing and practical Governing went on under it! For Speech is
the gaseous element out of which most kinds of Practice and
Performance, especially all kinds of moral Performance, condense
themselves, and take shape; as the one is, so will the other be.
Descending, accordingly, into the Dumb Class in its Stockport
Cellars and Poor-Law Bastilles, have we not to announce that they
also are hitherto unexampled in the History of Adam's Posterity?

Life was never a May-game for men: in all times the lot of the
dumb millions born to toil was defaced with manifold sufferings,
injustices, heavy burdens, avoidable and unavoidable; not play
at all, but hard work that made the sinews sore, and the heart
sore. As bond-slaves, _villani, bordarii, sochemanni,_ nay
indeed as dukes, earls and kings, men were oftentimes made weary
of their life; and had to say, in the sweat of their brow and of
their soul, Behold it is not sport, it is grim earnest, and our
back can bear no more! Who knows not what massacrings and
harryings there have been; grinding, long-continuing, unbearable
injustices,--till the heart had to rise in madness, and some _"Eu
Sachsen, nimith euer sachses,_ You Saxons, out with your gully-
knives then!" You Saxons, some 'arrestment,' partial 'arrestment
of the Knaves and Dastards' has become indispensable!--The page
of Dryasdust is heavy with such details.

And yet I will venture to believe that in no time, since the
beginnings of Society, was the lot of those same dumb millions of
toilers so entirely unbearable as it is even in the days now
passing over us. It is not to die, or even to die of hunger,
that makes a man wretched; many men have died; all men must
die,--the last exit of us all is in a Fire-Chariot of Pain. But
it is to live miserable we know not why; to work sore and yet
gain nothing; to be heart-worn, weary, yet isolated, unrelated,
girt in with a cold universal Laissez-faire: it is to die slowly
all our life long, imprisoned in a deaf, dead, Infinite
Injustice, as in the accursed iron belly of a Phalaris' Bull!
This is and remains forever intolerable to all men whom God
has made. Do we wonder at French Revolutions, Chartisms,
Revolts of Three Days? The times, if we will consider them,
are really unexampled.

Never before did I hear of an Irish Widow reduced to 'prove her
sisterhood by dying of typhus-fever and infecting seventeen
persons,'--saying in such undeniable way, "You see, I was your
sister!" Sisterhood, brotherhood was often forgotten; but not
till the rise of these ultimate Mammon and Shotbelt Gospels, did
I ever see it so expressly denied. If no pious Lord or _Law-
ward_ would remember it, always some pious Lady (_'Hlaf-dig,'_
Benefactress, _'Loaf-giveress,'_ they say she is,--blessings on
her beautiful heart!) was there, with mild mother-voice and hand,
to remember it; some pious thoughtful _Elder,_ what we now call
'Prester,' _Presbyter_ or 'Priest,' was there to put all men in
mind of it, in the name of the God who had made all.

Not even in Black Dahomey was it ever, I think, forgotten to the
typhus-fever length. Mungo Park, resourceless, had sunk down to
die under the Negro Village-Tree, a horrible White object in the
eyes of all. But in the poor Black Woman, and her daughter who
stood aghast at him, whose earthly wealth and funded capital
consisted of one small calabash of rice, there lived a heart
richer than _'Laissez-faire:'_ they, with a royal munificence,
boiled their rice for him; they sang all night to him, spinning
assiduous on their cotton distaffs, as he lay to sleep: "Let us
pity the poor white man; no mother has he to fetch him milk, no
sister to grind him corn!" Thou poor black Noble One,--thou
_Lady_ too: did not a God make thee too; was there not in thee
too something of a God!--


Gurth born thrall of Cedric the Saxon has been greatly pitied by
Dryasdust and others. Gurth with the brass collar round his
neck, tending Cedric's pigs in the glades of the wood, is not
what I call an exemplar of human felicity: but Gurth, with the
sky above him, with the free air and tinted boscage and umbrage
round him, and in him at least the certainty of supper and social
lodging when he came home; Gurth to me seems happy, in
comparison with many a Lancashire and Buckinghamshire man, of
these days, not born thrall of anybody! Gurth's brass collar did
not gall him: Cedric _deserved_ to be his Master. The pigs were
Cedric's, but Gurth too would get his parings of them. Gurth had
the inexpressible satisfaction of feeling himself related
indissolubly, though in a rude brass-collar way, to his fellow-
mortals in this Earth. He had superiors, inferiors, equals.--
Gurth is now 'emancipated' long since; has what we call
'Liberty.' Liberty, I am told, is a Divine thing. Liberty when
it becomes the 'Liberty to die by starvation' is not so divine!

Liberty? The true liberty of a man, you would say, consisted in
his finding out, or being forced to find out the right path, and
to walk thereon. To learn, or to be taught, what work he
actually was able for; and then, by permission, persuasion, and
even compulsion, to set about doing of the same! That is his
true blessedness, honour, 'liberty' and maximum of wellbeing: if
liberty be not that, I for one have small care about liberty.
You do not allow a palpable madman to leap over precipices; you
violate his liberty, you that are wise; and keep him, were it in
strait-waistcoats, away from the precipices! Every stupid, every
cowardly and foolish man is but a less palpable madman: his true
liberty were that a wiser man, that any and every wiser man,
could, by brass collars, or in whatever milder or sharper way,
lay hold of him when he was going wrong, and order and compel him
to go a little righter. O if thou really art my _Senior,_
Seigneur, my _Elder,_ Presbyter or Priest,--if thou art in very
deed my Wiser, may a beneficent instinct lead and impel thee to
'conquer' me, to command me! If thou do know better than I what
is good and right, I conjure thee in the name of God, force me to
do it; were it by never such brass collars, whips and handcuffs,
leave me not to walk over precipices! That I have been called,
by all the Newspapers, a 'free man' will avail me little, if my
pilgrimage have ended in death and wreck. O that the Newspapers
had called me slave, coward, fool, or what it pleased their sweet
voices to name me, and I had attained not death, but life!--
Liberty requires new definitions.

A conscious abhorrence and intolerance of Folly, of Baseness;
Stupidity, Poltroonery and all that brood of things, dwells deep
in some men: still deeper in others an unconscious abhorrence
and intolerance, clothed moreover by the beneficent Supreme
Powers in what stout appetites, energies, egoisms so-called, are
suitable to it;--these latter are your Conquerors, Romans,
Normans Russians, Indo-English; Founders of what we call
Aristocracies: Which indeed have they not the most 'divine
right' to found;--being themselves very truly [greek], BRAVEST,
BEST; and conquering generally a confused rabble of WORST, or at
lowest; clearly enough, of WORSE? I think their divine right,
tried, with affirmatory verdict, in the greatest Law-Court known
to me, was good! A class of men who are dreadfully exclaimed
against by Dryasdust; of whom nevertheless beneficent Nature has
oftentimes had need; and may, alas, again have need.

When, across the hundredfold poor scepticisms, trivialisms, and
constitutional cobwebberies of Dryasdust, you catch any
glimpse of a William the Conqueror, a Tancred of Hauteville or
such like,--do you not discern veritably some rude outline of a
true God-made King; whom not the Champion of England cased in
tin, but all Nature and the Universe were calling to the throne?
It is absolutely necessary that he get thither. Nature does not
mean her poor Saxon children to perish, of obesity, stupor or
other malady, as yet: a stern Ruler and Line of Rulers therefore
is called in,--a stern but most beneficent _Perpetual House-
Surgeon_ is called in, by Nature, and even the appropriate fees
are provided for him! Dryasdust talks lamentably about Hereward
and the Fen Counties; fate of Earl Waltheof; Yorkshire and the
North reduced to ashes; all which is undoubtedly lamentable.
But even Dryasdust apprises me of one fact: 'A child; in this
William's reign, might have carried a purse of gold from end to
end of England. My erudite friend, it is a fact which outweighs
a thousand! Sweep away thy constitutional, sentimental and other
cobwebberies; look eye to eye, if thou still have any eye, in
the face of this big burly William Bastard: thou wilt see a
fellow of most flashing discernment, of most strong lionheart;--
in whom, as it were, within a frame of oak and iron, the gods
have planted the soul of 'a man of genius!' Dost thou call that
nothing? I call it an immense thing!--Rage enough was in this
Willelmus Conquestor, rage enough for his occasions;--and yet the
essential element of him, as of all such men, is not scorching
_fire,_ but shining illuminative _light._ Fire and light are
strangely interchangeable; nay, at bottom, I have found them
different forms of the same most godlike 'elementary substance'
in our world: a thing worth stating in these days. The
essential element of this Conquestor is, first of all, the most
sun-eyed perception of what is really what on this God's-Earth;--
which, thou wilt find, does mean at bottom 'Justice,' and
'Virtues' not a few: _Conformity_ to what the Maker has seen
good to make; that, I suppose, will mean Justice and a Virtue
or two?--

Dost thou think Willelmus Conquestor would have tolerated ten
years' jargon, one hour's jargon, on the propriety of killing
Cotton-manufactures by partridge Corn-Laws? I fancy, this was
not the man to knock out of his night's-rest with nothing but a
noisy bedlamism in your mouth! "Assist us still better to bush
the partridges; strangle Plugson who spins the shirts?"--_"Par
la Splendeur de Dieu!"_--Dost thou think Willelmus Conquestor, in
this new time, with Steam-engine Captains of Industry on one hand
of him, and Joe-Manton Captains of Idleness on the other, would
have doubted which _was_ really the BEST; which did deserve
strangling, and which not?

I have a certain indestructible regard for Willelmus Conquestor.
A resident House-Surgeon, provided by Nature for her beloved
English People, and even furnished with the requisite 'fees,' as
I said; for he by no means felt himself doing Nature's work,
this Willelmus, but his own work exclusively! And his own work
withal it was; informed _'par la Splendeur de Dieu.'_--I say, it
is necessary to get the work out of such a man, however harsh
that be! When a world, not yet doomed for death, is rushing down
to ever-deeper Baseness and Confusion, it is a dire necessity of
Nature's to bring in her ARISTOCRACIES, her BEST, even by
forcible methods. When their descendants or representatives
cease entirely to _be_ the Best, Nature's poor world will very
soon rush down again to Baseness; and it becomes a dire
necessity of Nature's to cast them out. Hence French
Revolutions, Five-point Charters, Democracies, and a mournful
list of _Etceteras,_ in these our afflicted times.

To what extent Democracy has now reached, how it advances
irresistible with ominous, ever-increasing speed, he that will
open his eyes on any province of human affairs may discern.
Democracy is everywhere the inexorable demand of these ages,
swiftly fulfilling itself. From the thunder of Napoleon battles,
to the jabbering of Open-vestry in St. Mary Axe, all things
announce Democracy. A distinguished man, whom some of my readers
will hear again with pleasure, thus writes to me what in these
days he notes from the Wahngasse of Weissnichtwo, where our
London fashions seem to be in full vogue. Let us hear the Herr
Teufelsdrockh again, were it but the smallest word!

'Democracy, which means despair of finding any Heroes to govern
you, and contented putting up with the want of them,--alas, thou
too, _mein Lieber,_ seest well how close it is of kin to
_Atheism,_ and other sad _Isms:_ he who discovers no God
whatever, how shall he discover Heroes, the visible Temples of
God?--Strange enough meanwhile it is, to observe with what
thoughtlessness, here in our rigidly Conservative Country, men
rush into Democracy with full cry. Beyond doubt, his Excellenz
the Titular-Herr Ritter Kauderwalsch von Pferdefuss-Quacksalber,
he our distinguished Conservative Premier himself, and all but
the thicker-headed of his Party, discern Democracy to be
inevitable as death, and are even desperate of delaying it much!

'You cannot walk the streets without beholding Democracy announce
itself: the very Tailor has become, if not properly
Sansculottic, which to him would be ruinous, yet a Tailor
unconsciously symbolising, and prophesying with his scissors, the
reign of Equality. What now is our fashionable coat? A thing of
superfinest texture, of deeply meditated cut; with Malineslace
cuffs; quilted with gold; so that a man can carry, without
difficulty, an estate of land on his back? _Keineswegs,_ By no
manner of means! The Sumptuary Laws have fallen into such a
state of desuetude as was never before seen. Our fashionable
coat is an amphibium between barn-sack and drayman's doublet.
The cloth of it is studiously coarse; the colour a speckled
sootblack or rust-brown grey;--the nearest approach to a
Peasant's. And for shape,--thou shouldst see it! The last
consummation of the year now passing over us is definable as
Three Bags: a big bag for the body, two small bags for the arms,
and by way of collar a hem! The first Antique Cheruscan who, of
felt-cloth or bear's-hide, with bone or metal needle, set about
making himself a coat, before Tailors had yet awakened out of
Nothing,--did not he make it even so? A loose wide poke for
body, with two holes to let out the arms; this was his original
coat: to which holes it was soon visible that two small loose
pokes, or sleeves, easily appended, would be an improvement.

'Thus has the Tailor-art, so to speak, overset itself, like most
other things; changed its centre-of-gravity; whirled suddenly
over from zenith to nadir. Your Stulz, with huge Somerset,
vaults from his high shopboard down to the depths of primal
savagery,--carrying much along with him! For I will invite thee
to reflect that the Tailor, as topmost ultimate froth of Human
Society, is indeed swift-passing, evanescent, slippery to
decipher; yet significant of much, nay of all. Topmost
evanescent froth, he is churned up from the very lees, and from
all intermediate regions of the liquor. The general outcome he,
visible to the eye, of what men aimed to do, and were obliged and
enabled to do, in this one public department of symbolising
themselves to each other by covering of their skins. A smack of
all Human Life lies in the Tailor: its wild struggles towards
beauty, dignity, freedom, victory; and how, hemmed in by Sedan
and Huddersfield, by Nescience, Dulness, Prurience, and other sad
necessities and laws of Nature, it has attained just to this:
Grey Savagery of Three Sacks with a hem!

'When the very Tailor verges towards Sansculottism, is it not
ominous? The last Divinity of poor mankind dethroning himself;
sinking _his_ taper too, flame downmost, like the Genius of Sleep
or of Death; admonitory that Tailor-time shall be no more!--For
little as one could advise Sumptuary Laws at the present epoch,
yet nothing is clearer than that where ranks do actually exist,
strict division of costumes will also be enforced; that if we
ever have a new Hierarchy and Aristocracy, acknowledged veritably
as such, for which I daily pray Heaven, the Tailor will reawaken;
and be, by volunteering and appointment, consciously and
unconsciously, a safeguard of that same.'--Certain farther
observations, from the same invaluable pen, on our never-ending
changes of mode, our 'perpetual nomadic and even ape-like
appetite for change and mere change' in all the equipments of our
existence, and the 'fatal revolutionary character' thereby
manifested, we suppress for the present. It may be admitted that
Democracy, in all meanings of the word, is in full career;
irresistible by any Ritter Kauderwalsch or other Son of Adam, as
times go. 'Liberty' is a thing men are determined to have.


But truly, as I had to remark in the meanwhile, 'the liberty of
not being oppressed by your fellow man' is an indispensable, yet
one of the most insignificant fractional parts of Human Liberty.
No man oppresses thee, can bid thee fetch or carry, come or go,
without reason shewn. True; from all men thou art emancipated:
but from Thyself and from the Devil--? No man, wiser, unwiser,
can make thee come or go: but thy own futilities, bewilderments,
thy false appetites for Money, Windsor Georges and such like? No
man oppresses thee, O free and independent Franchiser: but does
not this stupid Porter-pot oppress thee? No Son of Adam can bid
thee come or go; but this absurd Pot of Heavy-wet, this can and
does! Thou art the thrall not of Cedric the Saxon, but of thy
own brutal appetites, and this scoured dish of liquor. And thou
pratest of thy liberty? Thou entire blockhead!

Heavy-wet and gin: alas, these are not the only kinds of
thraldom. Thou who walkest in a vain shew, looking out with
ornamental dilettante sniff and serene supremacy at all Life and
all Death; and amblest jauntily; perking up thy poor talk into
crotchets, thy poor conduct into fatuous somnambulisms;--and art
as an 'enchanted Ape' under God's sky, where thou mightest have
been a man, had proper Schoolmasters and Conquerors, and
Constables with cat-o'-nine tails, been vouchsafed thee: dost
thou call that 'liberty?' Or your unreposing Mammon-worshipper,
again, driven, as if by Galvanisms, by Devils and Fixed-Ideas,
who rises early and sits late, chasing the impossible; straining
every faculty 'to fill himself with the east wind '--how merciful
were it, could you, by mild persuasion or by the severest tyranny
so-called, check him in his mad path, turn him into a wiser one!
All painful tyranny, in that case again, were but mild 'surgery;'
the pain of it cheap, as health and life, instead of galvanism
and fixed-idea, are cheap at any price.

Sure enough, of all paths a man could strike into, there is, at
any given moment, a _best path_ for every man; a thing which,
here and now, it were of all things wisest for him to do;--which
could he be but led or driven to do, he were then doing 'like a
man,' as we phrase it; all men and gods agreeing with him, the
whole Universe virtually exclaiming Well-done to him! His
success, in such case, were complete; his felicity a maximum.
This path, to find this path and walk in it, is the one thing
needful for him. Whatsoever forwards him in that, let it come to
him even in the shape of blows and spurnings, is liberty:
whatsoever hinders him, were it wardmotes, open-vestries,
pollbooths, tremendous cheers, rivers of heavy-wet, is slavery.

The notion that a man's liberty consists in giving his vote at
election-hustings, and saying, "Behold now I too have my twenty-
thousandth part of a Talker in our National Palaver; will not
all the gods be good to me?"--is one of the pleasantest! Nature
nevertheless is kind at present; and puts it into the heads of
many, almost of all. The liberty especially which has to
purchase itself by social isolation, and each man standing
separate from the other, having 'no business with him' but a
cash-account: this is such a liberty as the Earth seldom saw;--
as the Earth will not long put up with, recommend it how you may.
This liberty turns out, before it have long continued in action,
with all men flinging up their caps round it, to be, for the
Working Millions a liberty to die by want of food; for the Idle
Thousands and Units, alas, a still more fatal liberty to live in
want of work; to have no earnest duty to do in this God's-World
any more. What becomes of a man in such predicament? Earth's
Laws are silent; and Heaven's speak in a voice which is not
heard. No work, and the ineradicable need of work, give rise to
new very wondrous life-philosophies, new very wondrous life-
practices! Dilettantism, Pococurantism, Beau-Brummelism, with
perhaps an occasional, half-mad, protesting burst of Byronism,
establish themselves: at the end of a certain period,--if you go
back to 'the Dead Sea,' there is, say our Moslem friends, a very
strange 'Sabbath-day' transacting itself there!--Brethren, we
know but imperfectly yet, after ages of Constitutional
Government, what Liberty is and Slavery is.

Democracy, the chase of Liberty in that direction, shall go its
full course; unrestrainable by him of Pferdefuss-Quacksalber, or
any of _his_ household. The Toiling Millions of Mankind, in most
vital need and passionate instinctive desire of Guidance, shall
cast away False-Guidance; and hope, for an hour, that No-
Guidance will suffice them: but it can be for an hour only. The
smallest item of human Slavery is the oppression of man by his
Mock-Superiors; the palpablest, but I say at bottom the
smallest. Let him shake off such oppression, trample it
indignantly under his feet; I blame him not, I pity and commend
him. But oppression by your Mock-Superiors well shaken off, the
grand problem yet remains to solve: That of finding government
by your Real-Superiors! Alas, how shall we ever learn the
solution of that, benighted, bewildered, sniffing, sneering,
godforgetting unfortunates as we are? It is a work for
centuries; to be taught us by tribulations, confusions,
insurrections, obstructions; who knows if not by conflagration
and despair! It is a lesson inclusive of all other lessons; the
hardest of all lessons to learn.

One thing I do know: Those Apes chattering on the branches by
the Dead Sea never got it learned; but chatter there to this
day. To them no Moses need come a second time; a thousand
Moseses would be but so many painted Phantasms, interesting
Fellow-Apes of new strange aspect,--whom they would 'invite to
dinner,' be glad to meet with in lion-soirees. To them the voice
of Prophecy, of heavenly monition, is quite ended. They chatter
there, all Heaven shut to them, to the end of the world. The
unfortunates! O, what is dying of hunger, with honest tools in
your hand, with a manful purpose in your heart, and much real
labour lying round you done, in comparison? You honestly quit
your tools; quit a most muddy confused coil of sore work, short
rations, of sorrows, dispiritments and contradictions, having now
honestly done with it all;--and await, not entirely in a
distracted manner, what the Supreme Powers, and the Silences and
the Eternities may have to say to you.

A second thing I know: This lesson will have to be learned,--
under penalties! England will either learn it, or England also
will cease to exist among Nations. England will either learn to
reverence its Heroes, and discriminate them from its Sham-Heroes
and Valets and gaslighted Histrios; and to prize them as the
audible God's-voice, amid all inane jargons and temporary market-
cries, and say to them with heart-loyalty, "Be ye King and
Priest, and Gospel and Guidance for us:" or else England will
continue to worship new and ever-new forms of Quackhood,--and so,
with what resiliences and reboundings matters little, go down to
the Father of Quacks! Can I dread such things of England?
Wretched, thick-eyed, gross-hearted mortals, why will ye worship
lies, and 'Stuffed Clothes-suits, created by the ninth-parts of
men!' It is not your purses that suffer; your farm-rents, your
commerces, your mill-revenues, loud as ye lament over these; no,
it is not these alone, but a far deeper than these: it is your
Souls that lie dead, crushed down under despicable Nightmares,
Atheisms, Brain-fumes; and are not Souls at all, but mere
succedanea for _salt_ to keep your bodies and their appetites
from putrefying! Your cotton-spinning and thrice-miraculous
mechanism, what is this too, by itself, but a larger kind of
Animalism? Spiders can spin, Beavers can build and shew
contrivance; the Ant lays up accumulation of capital, and has,
for aught I know, a Bank of Antland. If there is no soul in man
higher than all that, did it reach to sailing on the cloud-rack
and spinning sea-sand; then I say, man is but an animal, a more
cunning kind of brute: he has no soul, but only a succedaneum
for salt. Whereupon, seeing himself to be truly of the beasts
that perish, he ought to admit it, I think;--and also straightway
universally kill himself; and so, in a manlike manner, at least,
_end,_ and wave these bruteworlds _his_ dignified farewell!--



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