“But, on the whole, as Time adds much to the sacredness of Symbols, so likewise in his progress he at length defaces, or even desecrates them; and Symbols, like all terrestrial Garments, wax old. Homer’s Epos has not ceased to be true; yet it is no longer our Epos, but shines in the distance, if clearer and clearer, yet also smaller and smaller, like a receding Star. It needs a scientific telescope, it needs to be reinterpreted and artificially brought near us, before we can so much as know that it was a Sun. So likewise a day comes when the Runic Thor, with his Eddas, must withdraw into dimness; and many an African Mumbo-Jumbo and Indian Pawaw be utterly abolished. For all things, even Celestial Luminaries, much more atmospheric meteors, have their rise, their culmination, their decline.
“Small is this which thou tellest me, that the Royal Sceptre is but a piece of gilt wood; that the Pyx has become a most foolish box, and truly, as Ancient Pistol thought, ‘of little price.’ A right Conjurer might I name thee, couldst thou conjure back into these wooden tools the divine virtue they once held.
“Of this thing, however, be certain: wouldst thou plant for Eternity, then plant into the deep infinite faculties of man, his Fantasy and Heart; wouldst thou plant for Year and Day, then plant into his shallow superficial faculties, his Self-love and Arithmetical Understanding, what will grow there. A Hierarch, therefore, and Pontiff of the World will we call him, the Poet and inspired Maker; who, Prometheus-like, can shape new Symbols, and bring new Fire from Heaven to fix it there. Such too will not always be wanting; neither perhaps now are. Meanwhile, as the average of matters goes, we account him Legislator and wise who can so much as tell when a Symbol has grown old, and gently remove it.
“When, as the last English Coronation* I was preparing,” concludes this wonderful Professor, “I read in their Newspapers that the ’Champion of England,’ he who has to offer battle to the Universe for his new King, had brought it so far that he could now ’mount his horse with little assistance,’ I said to myself: Here also we have a Symbol well-nigh superannuated. Alas, move whithersoever you may, are not the tatters and rags of superannuated worn-out Symbols (in this Ragfair of a World) dropping off everywhere, to hoodwink, to halter, to tether you; nay, if you shake them not aside, threatening to accumulate, and perhaps produce suffocation?”
That of George IV.—ED.
At this point we determine on adverting shortly, or rather reverting, to a certain Tract of Hofrath Heuschrecke’s, entitled Institute for the Repression of Population; which lies, dishonorably enough (with torn leaves, and a perceptible smell of aloetic drugs), stuffed into the Bag Pisces. Not indeed for the sake of the tract itself, which we admire little; but of the marginal Notes, evidently in Teufelsdrockh’s hand, which rather copiously fringe it. A few of these may be in their right place here.