Sartor Resartus: the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrocke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 238 pages of information about Sartor Resartus.

“But, on the whole,” continues our eloquent Professor, “Man is a Tool-using Animal (Handthierendes Thier).  Weak in himself, and of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half-square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him.  Feeblest of bipeds!  Three quintals are a crushing load for him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag.  Nevertheless he can use Tools; can devise Tools:  with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; he kneads glowing iron, as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds.  Nowhere do you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing, with Tools he is all.”

Here may we not, for a moment, interrupt the stream of Oratory with a remark, that this Definition of the Tool-using Animal appears to us, of all that Animal-sort, considerably the precisest and best?  Man is called a Laughing Animal:  but do not the apes also laugh, or attempt to do it; and is the manliest man the greatest and oftenest laugher?  Teufelsdrockh himself, as we said, laughed only once.  Still less do we make of that other French Definition of the Cooking Animal; which, indeed, for rigorous scientific purposes, is as good as useless.  Can a Tartar be said to cook, when he only readies his steak by riding on it?  Again, what Cookery does the Greenlander use, beyond stowing up his whale-blubber, as a marmot, in the like case, might do?  Or how would Monsieur Ude prosper among those Orinoco Indians who, according to Humboldt, lodge in crow-nests, on the branches of trees; and, for half the year, have no victuals but pipe-clay, the whole country being under water?  But, on the other hand, show us the human being, of any period or climate, without his Tools:  those very Caledonians, as we saw, had their Flint-ball, and Thong to it, such as no brute has or can have.

“Man is a Tool-using Animal,” concludes Teufelsdrockh, in his abrupt way; “of which truth Clothes are but one example:  and surely if we consider the interval between the first wooden Dibble fashioned by man, and those Liverpool Steam-carriages, or the British House of Commons, we shall note what progress he has made.  He digs up certain black stones from the bosom of the earth, and says to them, Transport me and this luggage at the rate of file-and-thirty miles an hour; and they do it:  he collects, apparently by lot, six hundred and fifty-eight miscellaneous individuals, and says to them, Make this nation toil for us, bleed for us, hunger and, sorrow and sin for us; and they do it.”

CHAPTER VI.  APRONS.

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Sartor Resartus: the life and opinions of Herr Teufelsdrocke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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