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Title: The True Story of My Life: A Sketch
Author: Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The True Story of My Life: A Sketch" ***

Manager--a DP text



By Hans Christian Andersen.

Translated By Mary Howitt


Gentlemen,--I take this opportunity of forwarding to you, the _proof
sheets_ of the unpublished Life of Hans Christian Andersen--translated
from a copy transmitted to me for that purpose, by the Author. It is as
well to state that this is the Author's Edition, he being participant in
the proceeds of this work.

I remain, gentlemen,

Yours truly,


LONDON, June 29, 1847.











missing letters. These spaces were letters with diacritic marks which
at the time of the production of the digital file were not available
for the character set of the file.  It is hoped that someone will be
interested enough in this work to supply these missing letters.  DW


No literary labor is more delightful to me than translating the
beautiful thoughts and fancies of Hans Christian Andersen. My heart is
in the work, and I feel as if my spirit were kindred to his; just as our
Saxon English seems to me eminently fitted to give the simple, pure, and
noble sentiments of the Danish mind.

This True Story of his Life will not be found the least interesting of
his writings; indeed, to me it seems one of the most so. It furnishes
the key, as it were, to all the rest; and the treasures which it unlocks
will be found to be possessed of additional value when viewed through
the medium of this introduction. It is gratifying for me to be able to
state that the original Author has a personal interest in this English
version of his "Life," as I have arranged with my publishers to pay Mr.
Andersen a certain sum on the publication of this translation, and the
same on all future editions.

M. H.

The Elms, Clapton, June 26.



My life is a lovely story, happy and full of incident. If, when I was a
boy, and went forth into the world poor and friendless, a good fairy had
met me and said, "Choose now thy own course through life, and the object
for which thou wilt strive, and then, according to the development of
thy mind, and as reason requires, I will guide and defend thee to its
attainment," my fate could not, even then, have been directed more
happily, more prudently, or better. The history of my life will say to
the world what it says to me--There is a loving God, who directs all
things for the best.

My native land, Denmark, is a poetical land, full of popular traditions,
old songs, and an eventful history, which has become bound up with that
of Sweden and Norway. The Danish islands are possessed of beautiful
beech woods, and corn and clover fields: they resemble gardens on a
great scale. Upon one of these green islands, Funen, stands Odense, the
place of my birth. Odense is called after the pagan god Odin, who, as
tradition states, lived here: this place is the capital of the province,
and lies twenty-two Danish miles from Copenhagen.

In the year 1805 there lived here, in a small mean room, a young married
couple, who were extremely attached to each other; he was a shoemaker,
scarcely twenty-two years old, a man of a richly gifted and truly
poetical mind. His wife, a few years older than himself, was ignorant of
life and of the world, but possessed a heart full of love. The young man
had himself made his shoemaking bench, and the bedstead with which he
began housekeeping; this bedstead he had made out of the wooden frame
which had borne only a short time before the coffin of the deceased
Count Trampe, as he lay in state, and the remnants of the black cloth on
the wood work kept the fact still in remembrance.

Instead of a noble corpse, surrounded by crape and wax-lights, here
lay, on the second of April, 1805, a living and weeping child,--that was
myself, Hans Christian Andersen. During the first day of my existence my
father is said to have sate by the bed and read aloud in Holberg, but
I cried all the time. "Wilt thou go to sleep, or listen quietly?" it is
reported that my father asked in joke; but I still cried on; and even in
the church, when I was taken to be baptized, I cried so loudly that the
preacher, who was a passionate man, said, "The young one screams like
a cat!" which words my mother never forgot. A poor emigrant, Gomar, who
stood as godfather, consoled her in the mean time by saying that the
louder I cried as a child, all the more beautifully should I sing when I
grew older.

Our little room, which was almost filled with the shoemaker's bench,
the bed, and my crib, was the abode of my childhood; the walls, however,
were covered with pictures, and over the work-bench was a cupboard
containing books and songs; the little kitchen was full of shining
plates and metal pans, and by means of a ladder it was possible to go
out on the roof, where, in the gutters between and the neighbor's house,
there stood a great chest filled with soil, my mother's sole garden, and
where she grew her vegetables. In my story of the Snow Queen that garden
still blooms.

I was the only child, and was extremely spoiled, but I continually heard
from my mother how very much happier I was than she had been, and that I
was brought up like a nobleman's child. She, as a child, had been driven
out by her parents to beg, and once when she was not able to do it,
she had sate for a whole day under a bridge and wept. I have drawn
her character in two different aspects, in old Dominica, in the
Improvisatore, and in the mother of Christian, in Only a Fiddler.

My father gratified me in all my wishes. I possessed his whole heart; he
lived for me. On Sundays, he made me perspective glasses, theatres, and
pictures which could be changed; he read to me from Holberg's plays
and the Arabian Tales; it was only in such moments as these that I can
remember to have seen him really cheerful, for he never felt himself
happy in his life and as a handicrafts-man. His parents had been country
people in good circumstances, but upon whom many misfortunes had fallen;
the cattle had died; the farm house had been burned down; and lastly,
the husband had lost his reason. On this the wife had removed with him
to Odense, and there put her son, whose mind was full of intelligence,
apprentice to a shoemaker; it could not be otherwise, although it was
his ardent wish to be able to attend the Grammar School, where he might
have learned Latin. A few well-to-do citizens had at one time spoken
of this, of clubbing together a sufficient sum to pay for his board and
education, and thus giving him a start in life; but it never went beyond
words. My poor father saw his dearest wish unfulfilled; and he never
lost the remembrance of it. I recollect that once, as a child, I saw
tears in his eyes, and it was when a youth from the Grammar School came
to our house to be measured for a new pair of boots, and showed us his
books and told us what he learned.

"That was the path upon which I ought to have gone!" said my father,
kissed me passionately, and was silent the whole evening.

He very seldom associated with his equals. He went out into the woods on
Sundays, when he took me with him; he did not talk much when he was out,
but would sit silently, sunk in deep thought, whilst I ran about and
strung strawberries on a straw, or bound garlands. Only twice in the
year, and that in the month of May, when the woods were arrayed in their
earliest green, did my mother go with us, and then she wore a cotton
gown, which she put on only on these occasions, and when she partook of
the Lord's Supper, and which, as long as I can remember, was her holiday
gown. She always took home with her from the wood a great many fresh
beech boughs, which were then planted behind the polished stone. Later
in the year sprigs of St. John's wort were stuck into the chinks of the
beams, and we considered their growth as omens whether our lives would
be long or short. Green branches and pictures ornamented our little
room, which my mother always kept neat and clean; she took great pride
in always having the bed-linen and the curtains very white.

The mother of my father came daily to our house, were it only for a
moment, in order to see her little grandson. I was her joy and her
delight. She was a quiet and most amiable old woman, with mild blue eyes
and a fine figure, which life had severely tried. From having been the
wife of a countryman in easy circumstances she had now fallen into great
poverty, and dwelt with her feeble-minded husband in a little house,
which was the last, poor remains of their property. I never saw her shed
a tear. But it made all the deeper impression upon me when she quietly
sighed, and told me about her own mother's mother, how she had been
a rich, noble lady in the city of Cassel, and that she had married a
"comedy-player," that was as she expressed it, and run away from parents
and home, for all of which her posterity had now to do penance. I
never can recollect that I heard her mention the family name of her
grandmother; but her own maiden name was Nommesen. She was employed to
take care of the garden belonging to a lunatic asylum, and every Sunday
evening she brought us some flowers, which they gave her permission
to take home with her. These flowers adorned my mother's cupboard; but
still they were mine, and to me it was allowed to put them in the glass
of water. How great was this pleasure! She brought them all to me; she
loved me with her whole soul. I knew it, and I understood it.

She burned, twice in the year, the green rubbish of the garden; on such
occasions she took me with her to the asylum, and I lay upon the great
heaps of green leaves and pea-straw. I had many flowers to play with,
and--which was a circumstance upon which I set great importanceù I had
here better food to eat than I could expect at home.

All such patients as were harmless were permitted to go freely about
the court; they often came to us in the garden, and with curiosity and
terror I listened to them and followed them about; nay, I even ventured
so far as to go with the attendants to those who were raving mad. A long
passage led to their cells. On one occasion, when the attendants were
out of the way, I lay down upon the floor, and peeped through the crack
of the door into one of these cells. I saw within a lady almost naked,
lying on her straw bed; her hair hung down over her shoulders, and she
sang with a very beautiful voice. All at once she sprang up, and threw
herself against the door where I lay; the little valve through which she
received her food burst open; she stared down upon me, and stretched out
her long arm towards me. I screamed for terror--I felt the tips of her
fingers touching my clothes--I was half dead when the attendant came;
and even in later years that sight and that feeling remained within my

Close beside the place where the leaves were burned, the poor old women
had their spinning-room. I often went in there, and was very soon
a favorite. When with these people, I found myself possessed of an
eloquence which filled them with astonishment. I had accidentally heard
about the internal mechanism of the human frame, of course without
understanding anything about it; but all these mysteries were very
captivating to me; and with chalk, therefore, I drew a quantity of
flourishes on the door, which were to represent the intestines; and my
description of the heart and the lungs made the deepest impression. I
passed for a remarkably wise child, that would not live long; and they
rewarded my eloquence by telling me tales in return; and thus a world
as rich as that of the thousand and one nights was revealed to me. The
stories told by these old ladies, and the insane figures which I saw
around me in the asylum, operated in the meantime so powerfully upon me,
that when it grew dark I scarcely dared to go out of the house. I was
therefore permitted, generally at sunset, to lay me down in my parents'
bed with its long flowered curtains, because the press-bed in which
I slept could not conveniently be put down so early in the evening on
account of the room it occupied in our small dwelling; and here, in the
paternal bed, lay I in a waking dream, as if the actual world did not
concern me. I was very much afraid of my weak-minded grandfather. Only
once had he ever spoken to me, and then he had made use of the formal
pronoun "you." He employed himself in cutting out of wood strange
figures, men with beasts' heads, and beasts with wings; these he
packed in a basket and carried them out into the country, where he was
everywhere well received by the peasant women, because he gave to them
and their children these strange toys. One day, when he was returning to
Odense, I heard the boys in the street shouting after him; I hid myself
behind a flight of steps in terror, for I knew that I was of his flesh
and blood.

Every circumstance around me tended to excite my imagination. Odense
itself, in those days in which there was not a single steamboat in
existence, and when intercourse with other places was much more rare
than now, was a totally different city to what it is in our day; a
person might have fancied himself living hundreds of years ago, because
so many customs prevailed then which belonged to an earlier age. The
guilds walked in procession through the town with their harlequin before
them with mace and bells; on Shrove Tuesday the butchers led the fattest
ox through the streets adorned with garlands, whilst a boy in a white
shirt and with great wings on his shoulders rode upon it; the sailors
paraded through the city with music and all their flags flying, and then
two of the boldest among them stood and wrestled upon a plank placed
between two boats, and the one who was not thrown into the water was the

That, however, which more particularly stamped itself upon my memory,
and became refreshed by after often-repeated relations, was, the abode
of the Spaniards in Funen in 1808. It is true that at that time I was
but three years old; still I nevertheless perfectly remember the brown
foreign men who made disturbances in the streets, and the cannon which
were fired. I saw the people lying on straw in a half-tumbledown church,
which was near the asylum. One day, a Spanish soldier took me in his
arms and pressed a silver image, which he wore upon his breast, to my
lips. I remember that my mother was angry at it, because, she said,
there was something papistical about it; but the image, and the strange
man, who danced me about, kissed me and wept, pleased me: certainly
he had children at home in Spain. I saw one of his comrades led to
execution; he had killed a Frenchman. Many years afterwards this little
circumstance occasioned me to write my little poem, "The Soldier," which
Chamisso translated into German, and which afterwards was included in
the illustrated people's books of soldier-songs. [Footnote: This
same little song, sent to me by the author, was translated by me and
published in the 19th No. of Howitt's Journal.--M. H.] I very seldom
played with other boys; even at school I took little interest in their
games, but remained sitting within doors. At home I had playthings
enough, which my father made for me. My greatest delight was in making
clothes for my dolls, or in stretching out one of my mother's aprons
between the wall and two sticks before a currant-bush which I had
planted in the yard, and thus to gaze in between the sun-illumined
leaves. I was a singularly dreamy child, and so constantly went about
with my eyes shut, as at last to give the impression of having weak
sight, although the sense of sight was especially cultivated by me.

Sometimes, during the harvest, my mother went into the field to glean.
I accompanied her, and we went, like Ruth in the Bible, to glean in the
rich fields of Boaz. One day we went to a place, the bailiff of which
was well known for being a man of a rude and savage disposition. We
saw him coming with a huge whip in his hand, and my mother and all the
others ran away. I had wooden shoes on my bare feet, and in my haste I
lost these, and then the thorns pricked me so that I could not run, and
thus I was left behind and alone. The man came up and lifted his whip to
strike me, when I looked him in the face and involuntarily exclaimed,--

"How dare you strike me, when God can see it?"

The strong, stern man looked at me, and at once became mild; he patted
me on my cheeks, asked me my name, and gave me money.

When I brought this to my mother and showed it her, she said to the
others, "He is a strange child, my Hans Christian; everybody is kind to
him: this bad fellow even has given him money."

I grew up pious and superstitious. I had no idea of want or need; to be
sure my parents had only sufficient to live from day to day, but I
at least had plenty of every thing; an old woman altered my father's
clothes for me. Now and then I went with my parents to the theatre,
where the first representations which I saw were in German. "Das
Donauweibchen" was the favorite piece of the whole city; there, however,
I saw, for the first time, Holberg's Village Politicians treated as an

The first impression which a theatre and the crowd assembled there made
upon me was, at all events, no sign of any thing poetical slumbering in
me; for my first exclamation on seeing so many people, was, "Now, if we
only had as many casks of butter as there are people here, then I would
eat lots of butter!" The theatre, however, soon became my favorite
place, but, as I could only very seldom go there, I acquired the
friendship of the man who carried out the playbills, and he gave me one
every day. With this I seated myself in a corner and imagined an entire
play, according to the name of the piece and the characters in it. That
was my first, unconscious poetising.

My father's favorite reading was plays and stories, although he also
read works of history and the Scriptures. He pondered in silent thought
afterwards upon that which he had read, but my mother did not understand
him when he talked with her about them, and therefore he grew more and
more silent. One day, he closed the Bible with the words, "Christ was a
man like us, but an extraordinary man!" These words horrified my mother,
and she burst into tears. In my distress I prayed to God that he would
forgive this fearful blasphemy in my father. "There is no other devil
than that which we have in our own hearts," I heard my father say one
day and I made myself miserable about him and his soul; I was therefore
entirely of the opinion of my mother and the neighbours, when my father,
one morning, found three scratches on his arm, probably occasioned by
a nail, that the devil had been to visit him in the night, in order to
prove to him that he really existed. My father's rambles in the wood
became more frequent; he had no rest. The events of the war in Germany,
which he read in the newspapers with eager curiosity, occupied him
completely. Napoleon was his hero: his rise from obscurity was the
most beautiful example to him. At that time Denmark was in league with
France; nothing was talked of but war; my father entered the service as
a soldier, in hope of returning home a lieutenant. My mother wept. The
neighbours shrugged their shoulders, and said that it was folly to go
out to be shot when there was no occasion for it.

The morning on which the corps were to march I heard my father singing
and talking merrily, but his heart was deeply agitated; I observed that
by the passionate manner in which he kissed me when he took his leave.
I lay sick of the measles and alone in the room, when the drums beat and
my mother accompanied my father, weeping, to the city gate. As soon as
they were gone my old grandmother came in; she looked at me with her
mild eyes and said, it would be a good thing if I died; but that God's
will was always the best.

That was the first day of real sorrow which I remember.

The regiment advanced no farther than Holstein, peace was concluded, and
the voluntary soldier returned to his work-stool. Everything fell into
its old course. I played again with my dolls, acted comedies, and always
in German, because I had only seen them in this language; but my German
was a sort of gibberish which I made up, and in which there occurred
only one real German word, and that was "_Besen_," a word which I had
picked up out of the various dialects which my father brought home from

"Thou hast indeed some benefit from my travels," said he in joke. "God
knows whether thou wilt get as far; but that must be thy care. Think
about it, Hans Christian!" But it was my mother's intention that as long
as she had any voice in the matter, I should remain at home, and not
lose my health as he had done.

That was the case with him; his health had suffered. One morning he woke
in a state of the wildest excitement, and talked only of campaigns and
Napoleon. He fancied that he had received orders from him to take the
command. My mother immediately sent me, not to the physician, but to
a so-called wise woman some miles from Odense. I went to her. She
questioned me, measured my arm with a woolen thread, made extraordinary
signs, and at last laid a green twig upon my breast. It was, she said, a
piece of the same kind of tree upon which the Saviour was crucified.

"Go now," said she, "by the river side towards home. If your father will
die this time, then you will meet his ghost."

My anxiety and distress may be imagined,--I, who was so full of
superstition, and whose imagination was so easily excited.

"And thou hast not met anything, hast thou?" inquired my mother when I
got home. I assured her, with beating heart, that I had not.

My father died the third day after that. His corpse lay on the bed:
I therefore slept with my mother. A cricket chirped the whole night

"He is dead," said my mother, addressing it; "thou needest not call him.
The ice maiden has fetched him."

I understood what she meant. I recollected that, in the winter before,
when our window panes were frozen, my father pointed to them and showed
us a figure as that of a maiden with outstretched arms. "She is come to
fetch me," said he, in jest. And now, when he lay dead on the bed, my
mother remembered this, and it occupied my thoughts also.

He was buried in St. Knud's churchyard, by the door on the left hand
side coming from the altar. My grandmother planted roses upon his grave.
There are now in the selfsame place two strangers' graves, and the grass
grows green upon them also.

After my father's death I was entirely left to myself. My mother went
out washing. I sate alone at home with my little theatre, made dolls'
clothes and read plays. It has been told me that I was always clean and
nicely dressed. I had grown tall; my hair was long, bright, and almost
yellow, and I always went bare-headed. There dwelt in our neighborhood
the widow of a clergyman, Madame Bunkeflod, with the sister of her
deceased husband. This lady opened to me her door, and hers was the
first house belonging to the educated class into which I was kindly
received. The deceased clergyman had written poems, and had gained a
reputation in Danish literature. His spinning songs were at that time
in the mouths of the people. In my vignettes to the Danish poets I thus
sang of him whom my contemporaries had forgotten:--

  Spindles rattle, wheels turn round,
    Spinning-songs depart;
  Songs which youth sings soon become
    Music of the heart.

Here it was that I heard for the first time the word _poet_ spoken, and
that with so much reverence, as proved it to be something sacred. It is
true that my father had read Holberg's play to me; but here it was not
of these that they spoke, but of verses and poetry. "My brother the
poet," said Bunkeflod's sister, and her eyes sparkled as she said
it. From her I learned that it was a something glorious, a something
fortunate, to be a poet. Here, too, for the first time, I read
Shakspeare, in a bad translation, to be sure; but the bold descriptions,
the heroic incidents, witches, and ghosts were exactly to my taste. I
immediately acted Shakspeare's plays on my little puppet theatre. I saw
Hamlet's ghost, and lived upon the heath with Lear. The more persons
died in a play, the more interesting I thought it. At this time I wrote
my first piece: it was nothing less than a tragedy, wherein, as a matter
of course, everybody died. The subject of it I borrowed from an old song
about Pyramus and Thisbe; but I had increased the incidents through
a hermit and his son, who both loved Thisbe, and who both killed
themselves when she died. Many speeches of the hermit were passages from
the Bible, taken out of the little catechism, especially from our duty
to our neighbors. To the piece I gave the title "Abor and Elvira."

"It ought to be called 'Perch (Aborre) and Stockfish,'" said one of our
neighbors wittily to me, as I came with it to her after having read it
with great satisfaction and joy to all the people in our street. This
entirely depressed me, because I felt that she was turning both me and
my poem to ridicule. With a troubled heart I told it to my mother.

"She only said so," replied my mother, "because her son had not done
it." I was comforted, and began a new piece, in which a king and queen
were among the dramatis personae. I thought it was not quite right that
these dignified personages, as in Shakspeare, should speak like other
men and women. I asked my mother and different people how a king ought
properly to speak, but no one knew exactly. They said that it was so
many years since a king had been in Odense, but that he certainly spoke
in a foreign language. I procured myself, therefore, a sort of lexicon,
in which were German, French, and English words with Danish meanings,
and this helped me. I took a word out of each language, and inserted
them into the speeches of my king and queen. It was a regular Babel-like
language, which I considered only suitable for such elevated personages.

I desired now that everybody should hear my piece. It was a real
felicity to me to read it aloud, and it never occurred to me that others
should not have the same pleasure in listening to it.

The son of one of our neighbors worked in a cloth manufactory, and every
week brought home a sum of money. I was at a loose end, people said, and
got nothing. I was also now to go to the manufactory, "not for the sake
of the money," my mother said, "but that she might know where I was, and
what I was doing."

My old grandmother took me to the place, therefore, and was very much
affected, because, said she, she had not expected to live to see the
time when I should consort with the poor ragged lads that worked there.

Many of the journeymen who were employed in the manufactory were
Germans; they sang and were merry fellows, and many a coarse joke of
theirs filled the place with loud laughter. I heard them, and I there
learned that, to the innocent ears of a child, the impure remains very
unintelligible. It took no hold upon my heart. I was possessed at that
time of a remarkably beautiful and high soprano voice, and I knew it;
because when I sang in my parents' little garden, the people in the
street stood and listened, and the fine folks in the garden of the
states-councillor, which adjoined ours, listened at the fence. When,
therefore, the people at the manufactory asked me whether I could sing,
I immediately began, and all the looms stood still: all the journeymen
listened to me. I had to sing again and again, whilst the other boys had
my work given them to do. I now told them that I also could act plays,
and that I knew whole scenes of Holberg and Shakspeare. Everybody liked
me; and in this way, the first days in the manufactory passed on very
merrily. One day, however, when I was in my best singing vein, and
everybody spoke of the extraordinary brilliancy of my voice, one of the
journeymen said that I was a girl, and not a boy. He seized hold of me.
I cried and screamed. The other journeymen thought it very amusing,
and held me fast by my arms and legs. I screamed aloud, and was as
much ashamed as a girl; and then, darting from them, rushed home to my
mother, who immediately promised me that I should never go there again.

I again visited Madame Bunkeflod, for whose birthday I invented and made
a white silk pincushion. I also made an acquaintance with another old
clergyman's widow in the neighborhood. She permitted me to read aloud
to her the works which she had from the circulating library. One of
them began with these words: "It was a tempestuous night; the rain beat
against the window-panes."

"That is an extraordinary book," said the old lady; and I quite
innocently asked her how she knew that it was. "I can tell from the
beginning," said she, "that it will turn out extraordinary."

I regarded her penetration with a sort of reverence.

Once in the harvest time my mother took me with her many miles from
Odense to a nobleman's seat in the neighborhood of Bogense, her native
place. The lady who lived there, and with whose parents my mother had
lived, had said that some time she might come and see her. That was a
great journey for me: we went most of the way on foot, and required, I
believe, two days for the journey. The country here made such a strong
impression upon me, that my most earnest wish was to remain in it, and
become a countryman. It was just in the hop-picking season; my mother
and I sat in the barn with a great many country people round a great
binn, and helped to pick the hops. They told tales as they sat at
their work, and every one related what wonderful things he had seen or
experienced. One afternoon I heard an old man among them say that God
knew every thing, both what had happened and what would happen. That
idea occupied my whole mind, and towards evening, as I went alone from
the court, where there was a deep pond, and stood upon some stones which
were just within the water, the thought passed through my head, whether
God actually knew everything which was to happen there. Yes, he has now
determined that I should live and be so many years old, thought I; but,
if I now were to jump into the water here and drown myself, then it
would not be as he wished; and all at once I was firmly and resolutely
determined to drown myself. I ran to where the water was deepest, and
then a new thought passed through my soul. "It is the devil who wishes
to have power over me!" I uttered a loud cry, and, running away from
the place as if I were pursued, fell weeping into my mother's arms. But
neither she nor any one else could wring from me what was amiss with me.

"He has certainly seen a ghost," said one of the women; and I almost
believed so myself.

My mother married a second time, a young handicraftsman; but his family,
who also belonged to the handicraft class, thought that he had married
below himself, and neither my mother nor myself were permitted to visit
them. My step-father was a young, grave man, who would have nothing to
do with my education. I spent my time, therefore, over my peep show and
my puppet theatre, and my greatest happiness consisted in collecting
bright colored pieces of cloth and silk, which I cut out myself and
sewed. My mother regarded it as good exercise preparatory to my becoming
a tailor, and took up the idea that I certainly was born for it. I, on
the contrary, said that I would go to the theatre and be an actor, a
wish which my mother most sedulously opposed, because she knew of no
other theatre than those of the strolling players and the rope-dancers.
No, a tailor I must and should be. The only thing which in some measure
reconciled me to this prospect was, that I should then get so many
fragments to make up for my theatre.

My passion for reading, the many dramatic scenes which I knew by heart,
and my remarkably fine voice, had turned upon me in some sort the
attention of several of the more influential families of Odense. I was
sent for to their houses, and the peculiar characteristics of my mind
excited their interest. Among others who noticed me was the Colonel
Hoegh-Guldberg, who with his family showed me the kindest sympathy; so
much so, indeed, that he introduced me to the present king, then Prince

I grew rapidly, and was a tall lad, of whom my mother said that she
could not let him any longer go about without any object in life. I
was sent, therefore, to the charity school, but learned only religion,
writing, and arithmetic, and the last badly enough; I could also
scarcely spell a word correctly. On the master's birthday I always wove
him a garland and wrote him a poem; he received them half with smiles
and half as a joke; the last time, however, he scolded me. The street
lads had also heard from their parents of my peculiar turn of mind,
and that I was in the habit of going to the houses of the gentry. I was
therefore one day pursued by a wild crowd of them, who shouted after
me derisively, "There runs the play-writer!" I hid myself at home in a
corner, wept, and prayed to God.

My mother said that I must be confirmed, in order that I might be
apprenticed to the tailor trade, and thus do something rational. She
loved me with her whole heart, but she did not understand my impulses
and my endeavors, nor indeed at that time did I myself. The people about
her always spoke against my odd ways, and turned me to ridicule.

We belonged to the parish of St. Knud, and the candidates for
confirmation could either enter their names with the prevost or the
chaplain. The children of the so-called superior families and the
scholars of the grammar school went to the first, and the children of
the poor to the second. I, however, announced myself as a candidate
to the prevost, who was obliged to receive me, although he discovered
vanity in my placing myself among his catechists, where, although taking
the lowest place, I was still above those who were under the care of
the chaplain. I would, however, hope that it was not alone vanity which
impelled me. I had a sort of fear of the poor boys, who had laughed at
me, and I always felt as it were an inward drawing towards the scholars
of the grammar school, whom I regarded as far better than other boys.
When I saw them playing in the church-yard, I would stand outside the
railings, and wish that I were but among the fortunate ones,--not for
the sake of play, but for the sake of the many books they had, and
for what they might be able to become in the world. With the prevost,
therefore, I should be able to come together with them, and be as
they were; but I do not remember a single one of them now, so little
intercourse would they hold with me. I had daily the feeling of having
thrust myself in where people thought that I did not belong. One young
girl, however, there was, and one who was considered too of the highest
rank, whom I shall afterwards have to mention; she always looked gently
and kindly at me, and even once gave me a rose. I returned home full of
happiness, because there was one being who did not overlook and repel

An old female tailor altered my deceased father's great coat into a
confirmation suit for me; never before had I worn so good a coat. I
had also for the first time in my life a pair of boots. My delight was
extremely great; my only fear was that everybody would not see them, and
therefore I drew them up over my trousers, and thus marched through the
church. The boots creaked, and that inwardly pleased me, for thus
the congregation would hear that they were new. My whole devotion
was disturbed; I was aware of it, and it caused me a horrible pang of
conscience that my thoughts should be as much with my new boots as with
God. I prayed him earnestly from my heart to forgive me, and then again
I thought about my new boots.

During the last year I had saved together a little sum of money. When
I counted it over I found it to be thirteen rix dollars banco (about
thirty shillings) I was quite overjoyed at the possession of so much
wealth, and as my mother now most resolutely required that I should be
apprenticed to a tailor, I prayed and besought her that I might make a
journey to Copenhagen, that I might see the greatest city in the world.
"What wilt thou do there?" asked my mother.

"I will become famous," returned I, and I then told her all that I
had read about extraordinary men. "People have," said I, "at first an
immense deal of adversity to go through, and then they will be famous."

It was a wholly unintelligible impulse that guided me. I wept, I prayed,
and at last my mother consented, after having first sent for a so-called
wise woman out of the hospital, that she might read my future fortune by
the coffee-grounds and cards.

"Your son will become a great man," said the old woman, "and in honor of
him, Odense will one day be illuminated."

My mother wept when she heard that, and I obtained permission to travel.
All the neighbors told my mother that it was a dreadful thing to let me,
at only fourteen years of age, go to Copenhagen, which was such a long
way off, and such a great and intricate city, and where I knew nobody.

"Yes," replied my mother, "but he lets me have no peace; I have
therefore given my consent, but I am sure that he will go no further
than Nyborg; when he gets sight of the rough sea, he will be frightened
and turn back again."

During the summer before my confirmation, a part of the singers and
performers of the Theatre Royal had been in Odense, and had given a
series of operas and tragedies there. The whole city was taken
with them. I, who was on good terms with the man who delivered the
play-bills, saw the performances behind the scenes, and had even acted a
part as page, shepherd, etc., and had spoken a few words. My zeal was
so great on such occasions, that I stood there fully apparelled when the
actors arrived to dress. By these means their attention was turned to
me; my childlike manners and my enthusiasm amused them; they talked
kindly with me, and I looked up to them as to earthly divinities.
Everything which I had formerly heard about my musical voice, and my
recitation of poetry, became intelligible to me. It was the theatre for
which I was born: it was there that I should become a famous man, and
for that reason Copenhagen was the goal of my endeavors. I heard a deal
said about the large theatre in Copenhagen, and that there was to be
soon what was called the ballet, a something which surpassed both the
opera and the play; more especially did I hear the solo-dancer, Madame
Schall, spoken of as the first of all. She therefore appeared to me as
the queen of everything, and in my imagination I regarded her as the one
who would be able to do everything for me, if I could only obtain her
support. Filled with these thoughts, I went to the old printer Iversen,
one of the most respectable citizens of Odense, and who, as I heard, had
had considerable intercourse with the actors when they were in the town.
He, I thought, must of necessity be acquainted with the famous dancer;
him I would request to give me a letter of introduction to her, and then
I would commit the rest to God.

The old man saw me for the first time, and heard my petition with much
kindness; but he dissuaded me most earnestly from it, and said that I
might learn a trade.

"That would actually be a great sin," returned I.

He was startled at the manner in which I said that, and it prepossessed
him in my favor; he confessed that he was not personally acquainted with
the dancer, but still that he would give me a letter to her. I received
one from him, and now believed the goal to be nearly won.

My mother packed up my clothes in a small bundle, and made a bargain
with the driver of a post carriage to take me back with him to
Copenhagen for three rix dollars banco. The afternoon on which we were
to set out came, and my mother accompanied me to the city gate. Here
stood my old grandmother; in the last few years her beautiful hair had
become grey; she fell upon my neck and wept, without being able to speak
a word. I was myself deeply affected. And thus we parted. I saw her no
more; she died in the following year.

I do not even know her grave; she sleeps in the poor-house

The postilion blew his horn; it was a glorious sunny afternoon, and the
sunshine soon entered into my gay child-like mind. I delighted in every
novel object which met my eye, and I was journeying towards the goal of
my soul's desires. When, however, I arrived at Nyborg on the great Belt,
and was borne in the ship away from my native island, I then truly felt
how alone and forlorn I was, and that I had no one else except God in
heaven to depend upon.

As soon as I set foot on Zealand, I stepped behind a shed, which stood
on the shore, and falling upon my knees, besought of God to help and
guide me aright; I felt myself comforted by so doing, and I firmly
trusted in God and my own good fortune. The whole day and the following
night I travelled through cities and villages; I stood solitarily by the
carriage, and ate my bread while it was repacked.--I thought I was far
away in the wide world.


On Monday morning, September 5th, 1819, I saw from the heights of
Frederiksburg, Copenhagen, for the first time. At this place I alighted
from the carriage, and with my little bundle in my hand, entered the
city through the castle garden, the long alley and the suburb.

The evening before my arrival had been made memorable by the breaking
out of the so-called Jews quarrel, which spread through many European
countries. The whole city was in commotion [Footnote: This remarkable
disturbance makes a fine incident in Anderson's romance of "Only a
Fiddler."--M. H.]; every body was in the streets; the noise and tumult
of Copenhagen far exceeded, therefore, any idea which my imagination had
formed of this, at that time, to me great city.

With scarcely ten dollars in my pocket, I turned into a small
public-house. My first ramble was to the theatre. I went round it many
times; I looked up to its walls, and regarded them almost as a home. One
of the bill-sellers, who wandered about here each day, observed me, and
asked me if I would have a bill. I was so wholly ignorant of the world,
that I thought the man wished to give me one; I therefore accepted his
offer with thankfulness. He fancied I was making fun of him and was
angry; so that I was frightened, and hastened from the place which was
to me the dearest in the city. Little did I then imagine that ten years
afterwards my first dramatic piece would be represented there, and that
in this manner I should make my appearance before the Danish public. On
the following day I dressed myself in my confirmation suit, nor were the
boots forgotten, although, this time, they were worn, naturally, under
my trousers; and thus, in my best attire, with a hat on, which fell half
over my eyes, I hastened to present my letter of introduction to the
dancer, Madame Schall. Before I rung at the bell, I fell on my knees
before the door and prayed God that I here might find help and support.
A maid-servant came down the steps with her basket in her hand; she
smiled kindly at me, gave me a skilling (Danish), and tripped on.
Astonished, I looked at her and the money. I had on my confirmation
suit, and thought I must look very smart. How then could she think that
I wanted to beg? I called after her.

"Keep it, keep it!" said she to me, in return, and was gone.

At length I was admitted to the dancer; she looked at me in great
amazement, and then heard what I had to say. She had not the slightest
knowledge of him from whom the letter came, and my whole appearance and
behavior seemed very strange to her. I confessed to her my heartfelt
inclination for the theatre; and upon her asking me what characters I
thought I could represent, I replied, Cinderella. This piece had been
performed in Odense by the royal company, and the principal characters
had so greatly taken my fancy, that I could play the part perfectly from
memory. In the mean time I asked her permission to take off my boots,
otherwise I was not light enough for this character; and then taking up
my broad hat for a tambourine, I began to dance and sing,--

  "Here below, nor rank nor riches,   Are exempt from pain and woe."

My strange gestures and my great activity caused the lady to think me
out of my mind, and she lost no time in getting rid of me.

From her I went to the manager of the theatre, to ask for an engagement.
He looked at me, and said that I was "too thin for the theatre."

"Oh," replied I, "if you will only engage me with one hundred rix
dollars banco salary, then I shall soon get fat!" The manager bade me
gravely go my way, adding, that they only engaged people of education.

I stood there deeply wounded. I knew no one in all Copenhagen who could
give me either counsel or consolation. I thought of death as being the
only thing, and the best thing for me; but even then my thoughts rose
upwards to God, and with all the undoubting confidence of a child in his
father, they riveted themselves upon Him. I wept bitterly, and then I
said to myself, "When everything happens really miserably, then he sends
help. I have always read so. People must first of all suffer a great
deal before they can bring anything to accomplishment."

I now went and bought myself a gallery-ticket for the opera of Paul and
Virginia. The separation of the lovers affected me to such a degree,
that I burst into violent weeping. A few women, who sat near me,
consoled me by saying that it was only a play, and nothing to trouble
oneself about; and then they gave me a sausage sandwich. I had the
greatest confidence in everybody, and therefore I told them, with the
utmost openness, that I did not really weep about Paul and Virginia,
but because I regarded the theatre as my Virginia, and that if I must be
separated from it, I should be just as wretched as Paul. They looked at
me, and seemed not to understand my meaning. I then told them why I
had come to Copenhagen, and how forlorn I was there. One of the women,
therefore, gave me more, bread andebutter, with fruit and cakes.

On the following morning I paid my bill, and to my infinite trouble
I saw that my whole wealth consisted in one rix dollar banco. It was
necessary, therefore, either that I should find some vessel to take me
home, or put myself to work with some handicraftsman. I considered that
the last was the wiser of the two, because, if I returned to Odense, I
must there also put myself to work of a similar kind; besides which, I
knew very well that the people there would laugh at me if I came back
again. It was to me a matter of indifference what handicraft trade
I learned,--I only should make use of it to keep life within me
in Copenhagen. I bought a newspaper, therefore. I found among the
advertisements that a cabinet maker was in want of an apprentice. The
man received me kindly, but said that before I was bound to him he must
have an attestation, and my baptismal register from Odense; and that
till these came I could remove to his house, and try how the business
pleased me. At six o'clock the next morning I went to the workshop:
several journeymen were there, and two or three apprentices; but the
master was not come. They fell into merry and idle discourse. I was as
bashful as a girl, and as they soon perceived this, I was unmercifully
rallied upon it. Later in the day the rude jests of the young fellows
went so far, that, in remembrance of the scene at the manufactory, I
took the resolute determination not to remain a single day longer in
the workshop. I went down to the master, therefore, and told him that I
could not stand it; he tried to console me, but in vain: I was too much
affected, and hastened away.

I now went through the streets; nobody knew me; I was quite forlorn. I
then bethought myself of having read in a newspaper in Odense the name
of an Italian, Siboni, who was the director of the Academy of Music in
Copenhagen. Everybody had praised my voice; perhaps he would assist me
for its sake; if not, then that very evening I must seek out the master
of some vessel who would take me home again. At the thoughts of the
journey home I became still more violently excited, and in this state of
suffering I hastened to Siboni's house.

It happened that very day that he had a large party to dinner; our
celebrated composer Weyse was there, the poet Baggesen, and other
guests. The housekeeper opened the door to me, and to her I not only
related my wish to be engaged as a singer, but also the whole history
of my life. She listened to me with the greatest sympathy, and then she
left me. I waited a long time, and she must have been repeating to the
company the greater part of what I had said, for, in a while, the door
opened, and all the guests came out and looked at me. They would have
me to sing, and Siboni heard me attentively. I gave some scenes out of
Holberg, and repeated a few poems; and then, all at once, the sense of
my unhappy condition so overcame me that I burst into tears; the whole
company applauded.

"I prophesy," said Baggesen, "that one day something will come out of
him; but do not be vain when, some day, the whole public shall applaud
thee!" and then he added something about pure, true nature, and that
this is too often destroyed by years and by intercourse with mankind. I
did not understand it all.

Siboni promised to cultivate my voice, and that I therefore should
succeed as singer at the Theatre Royal. It made me very happy; I laughed
and wept; and as the housekeeper led me out and saw the excitement under
which I labored, she stroked my cheeks, and said that on the following
day I should go to Professor Weyse, who meant to do something for me,
and upon whom I could depend.

I went to Weyse, who himself had risen from poverty; he had deeply
felt and fully comprehended my unhappy situation, and had raised by a
subscription seventy rix dollars banco for me. I then wrote my first
letter to my mother, a letter full of rejoicing, for the good fortune
of the whole world seemed poured upon me. My mother in her joy showed
my letter to all her friends; many heard of it with astonishment; others
laughed at it, for what was to be the end of it? In order to understand
Siboni it was necessary for me to learn something of German. A woman
of Copenhagen, with whom I travelled from Odense to this city, and
who gladly, according to her means, would have supported me, obtained,
through one of her acquaintance, a language-master, who gratuitously
gave me some German lessons, and thus I learned a few phrases in that
language. Siboni received me into his house, and gave me food and
instruction; but half a year afterwards my voice broke, or was injured,
in consequence of my being compelled to wear bad shoes through the
winter, and having besides no warm under-clothing. There was no longer
any prospect that I should become a fine singer. Siboni told me that
candidly, and counselled me to go to Odense, and there learn a trade.

I, who in the rich colors of fancy had described to my mother the
happiness which I actually felt, must now return home and become an
object of derision! Agonized with this thought, I stood as if crushed
to the earth. Yet, precisely amid this apparently great un-happiness lay
the stepping-stones of a better fortune.

As I found myself again abandoned, and was pondering by myself upon what
was best for me next to do, it occurred to me that the Poet Guldberg, a
brother of the Colonel of that name in Odense, who had shown me so
much kindness, lived in Copenhagen. He lived at that time near the new
church-yard outside the city, of which he has so beautifully sung in his
poems. I wrote to him, and related to him everything; afterwards I went
to him myself, and found him surrounded with books and tobacco pipes.
The strong, warm-hearted man received me kindly; and as he saw by my
letter how incorrectly I wrote, he promised to give me instruction in
the Danish tongue; he examined me a little in German, and thought that
it would be well if he could improve me in this respect also. More than
this, he made me a present of the profits of a little work which he had
just then published; it became known, and I believe they exceeded one
hundred rix dollars banco; the excellent Weyse and others also supported

It was too expensive for me to lodge at a public house; I was therefore
obliged to seek for private lodgings. My ignorance of the world led
me to a widow who lived in one of the most disreputable streets of
Copenhagen; she was inclined to receive me into her house, and I never
suspected what kind of world it was which moved around me. She was a
stern, but active dame; she described to me the other people of the city
in such horrible colors as made me suppose that I was in the only safe
haven there. I was to pay twenty rix dollars monthly for one room, which
was nothing but an empty store-room, without window and light, but I had
permission to sit in her parlor. I was to make trial of it at first for
two days, meantime on the following day she told me that I could decide
to stay or immediately go. I, who so easily attach myself to people,
already liked her, and felt myself at home with her; but more than
sixteen dollars per month Weyse had told me I must not pay, and this was
the sum which I had received from him and Guldberg, so that no surplus
remained to me for my other expenses. This troubled me very much;
when she was gone out of the room, I seated myself on the sofa, and
contemplated the portrait of her deceased husband.

I was so wholly a child, that as the tears rolled down my own cheeks,
I wetted the eyes of the portrait with my tears, in order that the dead
man might feel how troubled I was, and influence the heart of his wife.
She must have seen that nothing more was to be drained out of me, for
when she returned to the room she said that she would receive me into
her house for the sixteen rix dollars. I thanked God and the dead man. I
found myself in the midst of the mysteries of Copenhagen, but I did
not understand how to interpret them. There was in the house in which
I lived a friendly young lady, who lived alone, and often wept; every
evening her old father came and paid her a visit. I opened the door to
him frequently; he wore a plain sort of coat, had his throat very much
tied up, and his hat pulled over his eyes. He always drank his tea with
her, and nobody dared to be present, because he was not fond of company:
she never seemed very glad at his coming. [Footnote: This character will
be recognised in Steffen Margaret, in Only a Fiddler.--M. H.] Many years
afterwards, when I had reached another step on the ladder of life, when
the refined world of fashionable life was opened before me, I saw
one evening, in the midst of a brilliantly lighted hall, a polite old
gentleman covered with orders--that was the old father in the shabby
coat, he whom I had let in. He had little idea that I had opened the
door to him when he played his part as guest, but I, on my side, then
had also no thought but for my own comedy-playing; that is to say, I was
at that time so much of a child that I played with my puppet-theatre and
made my dolls' clothes; and in order that I might obtain gaily-colored
fragments for this purpose, I used to go to the shops and ask for
patterns of various kinds of stuffs and ribbons. I myself did not
possess a single farthing; my landlady received all the money each month
in advance; only now and then, when I did any errands for her, she
gave me something, and that went in the purchase of paper or for old
play-books. I was now very happy, and was doubly so because Professor
Guldberg had induced Lindgron, the first comic actor at the theatre, to
give me instruction. He gave me several parts in Holberg to learn, such
as Hendrik, and the Silly Boy, for which I had shown some talent. My
desire, however, was to play the Correggio. I obtained permission to
learn this piece in my own way, although Lindgron asked, with comic
gravity, whether I expected to resemble the great painter? I, however,
repeated to him the soliloquy in the picture gallery with so much
feeling, that the old man clapped me on the shoulder and said, "Feeling
you have; but you must not be an actor, though God knows what else.
Speak to Guldberg about your learning Latin: that always opens the way
for a student."

I a student! That was a thought which had never come before into my
head. The theatre lay nearer to me, and was dearer too; but Latin I
had also always wished to learn. But before I spoke on the subject to
Guldberg, I mentioned it to the lady who gave me gratuitous instruction
in German; but she told me that Latin was the most expensive language in
the world, and that it was not possible to gain free instruction in
it. Guldberg, however, managed it so that one of his friends, out of
kindness, gave me two lessons a week.

The dancer, Dahlen, whose wife at that time was one of the first
artistes on the Danish boards, opened his house to me. I passed many
an evening there, and the gentle, warm-hearted lady was kind to me. The
husband took me with him to the dancing-school, and that was to me one
step nearer to the theatre. There stood I for whole mornings, with a
long staff, and stretched my legs; but notwithstanding all my good-will,
it was Dahlen's opinion that I should never get beyond a figurante.
One advantage, however, I had gained; I might in an evening make my
appearance behind the scenes of the theatre; nay, even sit upon the
farthest bench in the box of the figurantes. It seemed to me as if I had
got my foot just within the theatre, although I had never yet been upon
the stage itself.

One night the little opera of the Two Little Savoyards was given; in
the market scene every one, even the mechanists, might go up to help in
filling the stage; I heard them say so, and rouging myself a little,
I went happily up with the others. I was in my ordinary dress; the
confirmation coat, which still held together, although, with regard to
brushing and repairs, it lookedebut miserably, and the great hat which
fell down over my face. I was very conscious of the ill condition of my
attire, and would have been glad to have concealed it; but, through the
endeavor to do so, my movements became still more angular. I did not
dare to hold myself upright, because, by so doing, I exhibited all the
more plainly the shortness of my waistcoat, which I had outgrown. I had
the feeling very plainly that people would make themselves merry about
me; yet, at this moment, I felt nothing but the happiness of stepping
for the first time before the foot-lamps. My heart beat; I stepped
forward; there came up one of the singers, who at that time was much
thought of, but now is forgotten; he took me by the hand, and jeeringly
wished me happiness on my debut. "Allow me to introduce you to the
Danish public," said he, and drew me forward to the lamps. The people
would laugh at me--I felt it; the tears rolled down my cheeks; I tore
myself loose, and left the stage full of anguish.

Shortly after this, Dahlen arranged a ballet of Armida, in which
I received a little part: I was a spirit. In this ballet I became
acquainted with the lady of Professor Heiberg, the wife of the poet, and
now a highly esteemed actress on the Danish stage; she, then a little
girl, had also a part in it, and our names stood printed in the bill.
That was a moment in my life, when my name was printed! I fancied I
could see it a nimbus of immortality. I was continually looking at the
printed paper. I carried the programme of the ballet with me at night to
bed, lay and read my name by candle light--in short, I was happy.

I had now been two years in Copenhagen. The sum of money which had been
collected for me was expended, but I was ashamed of making known my
wants and my necessities. I had removed to the house of a woman whose
husband, when living, was master of a trading-vessel, and there I had
only lodging and breakfast. Those were heavy, dark days for me.

The lady believed that I went out to dine with various families, whilst
I only ate a little bread on one of the benches in the royal garden.
Very rarely did I venture into some of the lowest eating-houses, and
choose there the least expensive dish. I was, in truth, very forlorn;
but I did not feel the whole weight of my condition. Every person who
spoke to me kindly I took for a faithful friend. God was with me in my
little room; and many a night, when I have said my evening prayer, I
asked of Him, like a child, "Will things soon be better with me?" I had
the notion, that as it went with me on New Year's Day, so would it go
with me through the whole year; and my highest wishes were to obtain a
part in a play.

It was now New Year's Day. The theatre was closed, and only a half-blind
porter sat at the entrance to the stage, on which there was not a soul.
I stole past him with beating heart, got between the movable scenes and
the curtain, and advanced to the open part of the stage. Here I fell
down upon my knees, but not a single verse for declamation could I
recall to my memory. I then said aloud the Lord's Prayer, and went out
with the persuasion, that because I had spoken from the stage on New
Year's Day, I should in the course of the year succeed in speaking still
more, as well as in having a part assigned to me.

During the two years of my residence in Copenhagen I had never been out
into the open country. Once only had I been in the park, and there I had
been deeply engrossed by studying the diversions of the people and their
gay tumult. In the spring of the third year, I went out for the first
time amid the verdure of a spring morning. It was into the garden of
the Fredericksberg, the summer residence of Frederick VI. I stood still
suddenly under the first large budding beech tree. The sun made the
leaves transparent--there was a fragrance, a freshness--the birds sang.
I was overcome by it--I shouted aloud for joy, threw my arms around the
tree and kissed it.

"Is he mad?" said a man close behind me. It was one of the servants
of the castle. I ran away, shocked at what I had heard, and then went
thoughtfully and calmly back to the city.

My voice had, in the mean time, in part regained its richness. The
singing master of the choir-school heard it, offered me a place in
the school, thinking that, by singing with the choir, I should acquire
greater freedom in the exercise of my powers on the stage. I thought
that I could see by this means a new way opened for me. I went from the
dancing-school into the singing-school, and entered the choir, now as
a shepherd, and now as a warrior. The theatre was my world. I had
permission to go in the pit, and thus it fared ill with my Latin. I
heard many people say that there was no Latin required for singing
in the choir, and that without the knowledge of this language it was
possible to become a great actor. I thought there was good sense in
that, and very often, either with or without reason, excused myself
from my Latin evening lesson. Guldberg became aware of this, and for the
first time I received a reprimand which almost crushed me to the earth.
I fancy that no criminal could suffer more by hearing the sentence
of death pronounced upon him. My distress of mind must have expressed
itself in my countenance, for he said "Do not act any more comedy." But
it was no comedy to me.

I was now to learn Latin no longer. I felt my dependence upon the
kindness of others in such a degree as I had never done before.
Occasionally I had had gloomy and earnest thoughts in looking forward
to my future, because I was in want of the very necessaries of life; at
other times I had the perfect thoughtlessness of a child.

The widow of the celebrated Danish statesman, Christian Colbj÷rnsen,
and her daughter, were the first ladies of high rank who cordially
befriended the poor lad; who listened to me with sympathy, and saw
me frequently. Mrs. von Colbj÷rnsen resided, during the summer, at
Bakkehus, where also lived the poet Rahbek and his interesting wife.
Rahbek never spoke to me; but his lively and kind-hearted wife often
amused herself with me. I had at that time again begun to write a
tragedy, which I read aloud to her. Immediately on hearing the first
scenes, she exclaimed, "But you have actually taken whole passages out
of Oehlenschl ger and Ingemann."

"Yes, but they are so beautiful!" replied I in my simplicity, and read

One day, when I was going from her to Mrs. von Colbj÷rnsen, she gave
me a handful of roses, and said, "Will you take them up to her? It will
certainly give her pleasure to receive them from the hand of a poet."
These words were said half in jest; but it was the first time that
anybody had connected my name with that of poet. It went through me,
body and soul, and tears filled my eyes. I know that, from this very
moment, my mind was awoke to writing and poetry. Formerly it had been
merely an amusement by way of variety from my puppet-theatre.

At Bakkehus lived also Professor Thiele, a young student at that time,
but even then the editor of the Danish popular legends, and known to
the public as the solver of Baggesen's riddle, and as the writer of
beautiful poetry. He was possessed of sentiment, true inspiration, and
heart. He had calmly and attentively watched the unfolding of my mind,
until we now became friends. He was one of the few who, at that time,
spoke the truth of me, when other people were making themselves merry
at my expense, and having only eyes for that which was ludicrous in me.
People had called me, in jest, the little orator, and, as such, I was
an object of curiosity. They found amusement in me, and I mistook every
smile for a smile of applause. One of my later friends has told me that
it probably was about this period that he saw me for the first time. It
was in the drawing-room of a rich tradesman, where people were making
themselves very merry with me. They desired me to repeat one of my
poems, and, as I did this with great feeling, the merriment was changed
into sympathy with me.

I heard it said every day, what a good thing it would be for me if I
could study. People advised me to devote myself to science, but no one
moved one step to enable me to do so; it was labor enough for me to keep
body and soul together. It therefore occurred to me to write a tragedy,
which I would offer to the Theatre Royal, and would then begin to study
with the money which I should thus obtain. Whilst Guldberg instructed
me in Danish, I had written a tragedy from a German story, called The
Chapel in the Wood; yet as this was done merely as an exercise in the
language, and, as he forbade me in the most decided manner to bring it
out, I would not do so. I originated my own material, therefore; and
within fourteen days I wrote my national tragedy called the Robbers in
Wissenberg (the name of a little village in Funen.) There was scarcely
a word in it correctly written, as I had no person to help me, because
I meant it to be anonymous; there was, nevertheless, one person admitted
into the secret, namely, the young lady whom I had met with in Odense,
during my preparation for confirmation, the only one who at that
time showed me kindness and good-will. It was through her that I was
introduced to the Colbj÷rnsen family, and thus known and received in all
those circles of which the one leads into the other. She paid some one
to prepare a legible copy of my piece, and undertook to present it for
perusal. After an interval of six weeks, I received it back, accompanied
by a letter which said the people did not frequently wish to retain
works which betrayed, in so great a degree, a want of elementary

It was just at the close of the theatrical season, in May, 1823, that I
received a letter from the directors, by which I was dismissed from
the singing and dancing school, the letter adding also, that my
participation in the school-teaching could lead to no advantage for me,
but that they wished some of my many friends would enable me to receive
an education, without which, talent availed nothing. I felt myself
again, as it were, cast out into the wide world without help and without
support. It was absolutely necessary that I should write a piece for the
theatre, and that _must_ be accepted; there was no other salvation for
me. I wrote, therefore, a tragedy founded on a passage in history, and
I called it Alfsol. I was delighted with the first act, and with this I
immediately went to the Danish translator of Shakspeare, Admiral Wulff,
now deceased, who good-naturedly heard me read it. In after years I
met with the most cordial reception in his family. At that time I also
introduced myself to our celebrated physician Oersted, and his house has
remained to me to this day an affectionate home, to which my heart has
firmly attached itself, and where I find my oldest and most unchangeable

A favorite preacher, the rural dean Gutfeldt, was living at that time,
and he it was who exerted himself most earnestly for my tragedy, which
was now finished; and having written a letter of recommendation, he
sent it to the managers of the theatre. I was suspended between hope and
fear. In the course of the summer I endured bitter want, but I told it
to no one, else many a one, whose sympathy I had experienced, would have
helped me to the utmost of their means. A false shame prevented me from
confessing what I endured. Still happiness filled my heart. I read then
for the first time the works of Walter Scott. A new world was opened to
me: I forgot the reality, and gave to the circulating library that which
should have provided me with a dinner.

The present conference councillor, Collin, one of the most distinguished
men of Denmark, who unites with the greatest ability the noblest and
best heart, to whom I looked up with confidence in all things, who has
been a second father to me, and in whose children I have found brothers
and sisters;--this excellent man I saw now for the first time. He was at
that time director of the Theatre Royal, and people universally told me
that it would be the best thing for me if he would interest himself on
my behalf: it was either Oersted or Gutfeldt who first mentioned me to
him; and now for the first time I went to that house which was to become
so dear to me. Before the ramparts of Copenhagen were extended, this
house lay outside the gate, and served as a summer residence to
the Spanish Ambassador; now, however, it stands, a crooked, angular
frame-work building, in a respectable street; an old-fashioned wooden
balcony leads to the entrance, and a great tree spreads its green
branches over the court and its pointed gables. It was to become a
paternal house to me. Who does not willingly linger over the description
of home?

I discovered only the man of business in Collin; his conversation was
grave and in few words. I went away, without expecting any sympathy from
this man; and yet it was precisely Collin who in all sincerity thought
for my advantage, and who worked for it silently, as he had done for
others, through the whole course of his active life. But at that time I
did not understand the apparent calmness with which he listened, whilst
his heart bled for the afflicted, and he always labored for them with
zeal and success, and knew how to help them. He touched so lightly upon
my tragedy, which had been sent to him, and on account of which many
people had overwhelmed me with flattering speeches, that I regarded him
rather as an enemy than a protector.

In a few day I was sent for by the directors of the theatre, when Rahbek
gave me back my play as useless for the stage; adding, however, that
there were so many grains of corn scattered in it, that it was hoped,
that perhaps, by earnest study, after going to school and the previous
knowledge of all that is requisite, I might, some time, be able to write
a work which should be worthy of being acted on the Danish stage.

In order therefore to obtain the means for my support and the necessary
instruction, Collin recommended me to King Frederick the Sixth, who
granted to me a certain sum annually for some years; and, by means of
Collin also, the directors of the high schools allowed me to receive
free instruction in the grammar school at Slagelse, where just then a
new, and, as was said, an active rector was appointed. I was almost
dumb with astonishment: never had I thought that my life would take this
direction, although I had no correct idea of the path which I had now to
tread. I was to go with the earliest mail to Slagelse, which lay twelve
Danish miles from Copenhagen, to the place where also the poets Baggesen
and Ingemann had gone to school. I was to receive money quarterly from
Collin; I was to apply to him in all cases, and he it was who was to
ascertain my industry and my progress.

I went to him the second time to express to him my thanks. Mildly and
kindly he said to me, "Write to me without restraint about everything
which you require, and tell me how it goes with you." From this hour I
struck root in his heart; no father could have been more to me than he
was, and is; none could have more heartily rejoiced in my happiness,
and my after reception with the public; none have shared my sorrow more
kindly; and I am proud to say that one of the most excellent men
which Denmark possesses feels towards me as towards his own child. His
beneficence was conferred without his making me feel it painful either
by word or look. That was not the case with every one to whom, in this
change of my fortunes, I had to offer my thanks; I was told to think
of my inconceivable happiness and my poverty; in Collin's words was
expressed the warm-heartedness of a father, and to him it was that
properly I was indebted for everything.

The journey was hastily determined upon, and I had yet for myself some
business to arrange. I had spoken to an acquaintance from Odense who had
the management of a small printing concern, for a widow, to get "Alfsal"
printed, that I might, by the sale of the work, make a little money.
Before, however, the piece was printed, it was necessary that I should
obtain a certain number of subscribers; but these were not obtained, and
the manuscript lay in the printing-office, which, at the time I went to
fetch it away, was shut up. Some years afterwards, however, it suddenly
made its appearance in print without my knowledge or my desire, in its
unaltered shape, but without my name.

On a beautiful autumn day I set off with the mail from Copenhagen to
begin my school-life in Slagelse. A young student, who a month before
had passed his first examination, and now was travelling home to Jutland
to exhibit himself there as a student, and to see once more his parents
and his friends, sate at my side and exulted for joy over the new life
which now lay before him; he assured me that he should be the most
unhappy of human beings if he were in my place, and were again beginning
to go to the grammar school. But I travelled with a good heart towards
the little city of Zealand. My mother received a joyful letter from
me. I only wished that my father and the old grandmother yet lived, and
could hear that I now went to the grammar school.


When, late in the evening, I arrived at the inn in Slagelse, I asked the
hostess if there were anything remarkable in the city.

"Yes," said she, "a new English fire-engine and Pastor Bastholm's
library," and those probably were all the lions in the city. A few
officers of the Lancers composed the fine-gentleman world. Everybody
knew what was done in everybody's house, whether a scholar was elevated
or degraded in his class, and the like. A private theatre, to which,
at general rehearsal, the scholars of the grammar school and the
maid-servants of the town had free entrance, furnished rich material for
conversation. The place was remote from woods, and still farther from
the coast; but the great post-road went through the city, and the
post-horn resounded from the rolling carriage.

I boarded with a respectable widow of the educated class, and had a
little chamber looking out into the garden and field. My place in
the school was in the lowest class, among little boys:--I knew indeed
nothing at all.

I was actually like a wild bird which is confined in a cage; I had the
greatest desire to learn, but for the moment I floundered about, as if
I had been thrown into the sea; the one wave followed another; grammar,
geography, mathematics--I felt myself overpowered by them, and feared
that I should never be able to acquire all these. The rector, who took a
peculiar delight in turning everything to ridicule, did not, of course,
make an exception in my case. To me he stood then as a divinity; I
believed unconditionally every word which he spoke. One day, when I had
replied incorrectly to his question, and he said that I was stupid, I
mentioned it to Collin, and told him my anxiety, lest I did not deserve
all that people had done for me; but he consoled me. Occasionally,
however, on some subjects of instruction, I began to receive a
good certificate, and the teachers were heartily kind to me; yet,
notwithstanding that I advanced, I still lost confidence in myself more
and more. On one of the first examinations, however, I obtained the
praise of the rector. He wrote the same in my character-book; and, happy
in this, I went a few days afterwards to Copenhagen. Guldberg, who saw
the progress I had made, received me kindly, and commended my zeal; and
his brother in Odense furnished me the next summer with the means of
visiting the place of my birth, where I had not been since I left it to
seek adventures. I crossed the Belt, and went on foot to Odense. When
I came near enough to see the lofty old church tower, my heart was more
and more affected; I felt deeply the care of God for me, and I burst
into tears. My mother rejoiced over me. The families of Iversen and
Guldberg received me cordially; and in the little streets I saw the
people open their windows to look after me, for everybody knew how
remarkably well things had fared with me; nay, I fancied I actually
stood upon the pinnacle of fortune, when one of the principal citizens,
who had built a high tower to his house, led me up there, and I looked
out thence over the city, and the surrounding country, and some old
women in the hospital below, who had known me from childhood, pointed up
to me.

As soon, however, as I returned to Slagelse, this halo of glory
vanished, as well as every thought of it. I may freely confess that I
was industrious, and I rose, as soon as it was possible, into a higher
class; but in proportion as I rose did I feel the pressure upon me more
strongly, and that my endeavors were not sufficiently productive. Many
an evening, when sleep overcame me, did I wash my head with cold water,
or run about the lonely little garden, till I was again wakeful, and
could comprehend the book anew. The rector filled up a portion of
his hours of teaching with jests, nicknames, and not the happiest of
witticisms. I was as if paralyzed with anxiety when he entered the room,
and from that cause my replies often expressed the opposite of
that which I wished to say, and thereby my anxiety was all the more
increased. What was to become of me?

In a moment of ill-humor I wrote a letter to the head master, who was
one of those who was most cordially opposed to me. I said in this letter
that I regarded myself as a person so little gifted by nature, that it
was impossible for me to study, and that the people in Copenhagen threw
away the money which they spent upon me: I besought him therefore to
counsel me what I should do. The excellent man strengthened me with mild
words, and wrote to me a most friendly and consolatory letter; he said
that the rector meant kindly by me--that it was his custom and way of
acting--that I was making all the progress that people could expect
from me, and that I need not doubt of my abilities. He told me that he
himself was a peasant youth of three and twenty, older than I myself
was, when he began his studies; the misfortune for me was, that I ought
to have been treated differently to the other scholars, but that this
could hardly be done in a school; but that things were progressing, and
that I stood well both with the teachers and my fellow students.

Every Sunday we had to attend the church and hear an old preacher; the
other scholars learned their lessons in history and mathematics while he
preached; I learned my task in religion, and thought that, by so doing,
it was less sinful. The general rehearsals at the private theatre were
points of light in my school life; they took place in a back building,
where the lowing of the cows might be heard; the street-decoration was
a picture of the marketplace of the city, by which means the
representation had something familiar about it; it amused the
inhabitants to see their own houses.

On Sunday afternoons it was my delight to go to the castle of
Antvorskov, at that time only half ruinous, and once a monastery, where
I pursued the excavating of the ruined cellars, as if it had been a
Pompeii. I also often rambled to the crucifix of St. Anders, which
stands upon one of the heights of Slagelse, and which is one of the
wooden crosses erected in the time of Catholicism in Denmark. St. Anders
was a priest in Slagelse, and travelled to the Holy Land; on the last
day he remained so long praying on the holy grave, that the ship sailed
away without him. Vexed at this circumstance, he walked along the
shore, where a man met him riding on an ass, and took him up with him.
Immediately he fell asleep, and when he awoke he heard the bells of
Slagelse ringing. He lay upon the (Hvileh÷i) hill of rest, where the
cross now stands. He was at home a year and a day before the ship
returned, which had sailed away without him, and an angel had borne him
home. The legend, and the place where he woke, were both favorites
of mine. From this spot I could see the ocean and Funen. Here I could
indulge my fancies; when at home, my sense of duty chained my thoughts
only to my books.

The happiest time, however, was when, once on a Sunday, whilst the wood
was green, I went to the city of Sor÷, two (Danish) miles from Slagelse,
and which lies in the midst of woods, surrounded by lakes. Here is an
academy for the nobility, founded by the poet Holberg. Everything lay in
a conventual stillness. I visited here the poet Ingemann, who had just
married, and who held a situation as teacher; he had already received me
kindly in Copenhagen; but here his reception of me was still more kind.
His life in this place seemed to me like a beautiful story; flowers
and vines twined around his window; the rooms were adorned with the
portraits of distinguished poets, and other pictures. We sailed upon
the lake with an Aeolian harp made fast to the mast. Ingemann talked so
cheerfully, and his excellent, amiable wife treated me as if she were
an elder sister:--I loved these people. Our friendship has grown with
years. I have been from that time almost every summer a welcome guest
there, and I have experienced that there are people in whose society one
is made better, as it were; that which is bitter passes away, and the
whole world appears in sunlight.

Among the pupils in the academy of nobles, there were two who made
verses; they knew that I did the same, and they attached themselves
to me. The one was Petit, who afterwards, certainly with the best
intention, but not faithfully, translated several of my books; the
other, the poet Karl Bagger, one of the most gifted of men who has come
forward in Danish literature, but who has been unjustly judged. His
poems are full of freshness and originality; his story, "The Life of my
Brother," is a genial book, by the critique on which the Danish Monthly
Review of Literature has proved that it does not understand how to
give judgment. These two academicians were very different from me: life
rushed rejoicingly through their veins; I was sensitive and childlike.
In my character-book I always received, as regarded my conduct,
"remarkably good." On one occasion, however, I only obtained the
testimony of "very good;" and so anxious and childlike was I, that
I wrote a letter to Collin on that account, and assured him in grave
earnestness, that I was perfectly innocent, although I had only obtained
a character of "very good."

The rector grew weary of his residence in Slagelse; he applied for the
vacant post of rector in the grammar-school of Helsing÷r, and obtained
it. He told me of it, and added kindly, that I might write to Collin and
ask leave to accompany him thither; that I might live in his house, and
could even now remove to his family; I should then in half a year become
a student, which could not be the case if I remained behind, and that
then he would himself give me some private lessons in Latin and Greek.
On this same occasion he wrote also to Collin; and this letter, which
I afterwards saw, contained the greatest praise of my industry, of the
progress I had made, and of my good abilities, which last I imagined
that he thoroughly mistook, and for the want of which, I myself had so
often wept. I had no conception that he judged of me so favorably; it
would have strengthened and relieved me had I known it; whereas, on the
contrary, his perpetual blame depressed me. I, of course, immediately
received Collin's permission, and removed to the house of the rector.
But that, alas! was an unfortunate house.

I accompanied him to Helsing÷r, one of the loveliest places in Denmark,
close to the Sound, which is at this place not above a mile (Danish)
broad, and which seems like a blue, swelling river between Denmark and
Sweden. The ships of all nations sail past daily by hundreds; in winter
the ice forms a firm bridge between the two countries, and when in
spring this breaks up, it resembles a floating glacier. The scenery
here made a lively impression upon me, but I dared only to cast stolen
glances at it. When the school hours were over, the house door was
commonly locked; I was obliged to remain in the heated school-room and
learn my Latin, or else play with the children, or sit in my little
room; I never went out to visit anybody. My life in this family
furnishes the most evil dreams to my remembrance. I was almost overcome
by it, and my prayer to God every evening was, that he would remove this
cup from me and let me die. I possessed not an atom of confidence
in myself. I never mentioned in my letters how hard it went with me,
because the rector found his pleasure in making a jest of me, and
turning my feelings to ridicule. I never complained of any one, with the
exception of myself. I knew that they would say in Copenhagen, "He has
not the desire to do any thing; a fanciful being can do no good with

My letters to Collin, written at this time, showed such a gloomy
despairing state of mind, that they touched him deeply; but people
imagined that was not to be helped; they fancied that it was my
disposition, and not, as was the case, that it was the consequence
of outward influences. My temper of mind was thoroughly buoyant, and
susceptible of every ray of sunshine; but only on one single holiday in
the year, when I could go to Copenhagen, was I able to enjoy it.

What a change it was to get for a few days out of the rector's rooms
into a house in Copenhagen, where all was elegance, cleanliness, and
full of the comforts of refined life! This was at Admiral Wulff's, whose
wife felt for me the kindness of a mother, and whose children met me
with cordiality; they dwelt in a portion of the Castle of Amalienburg,
and my chamber looked out into the square. I remember the first evening
there; Aladdin's words passed through my mind, when he looked down from
his splendid castle into the square, and said, "Here came I as a poor
lad." My soul was full of gratitude.

 During my whole residence in Slagelse I had scarcely written more than
four or five poems; two of which, "The Soul," and "To my Mother,"
will be found printed in my collected works. During my school-time at
Helsing÷r I wrote only one single poem, "The Dying Child;" a poem which,
of all my after works, became most popular and most widely circulated. I
read it to some acquaintance in Copenhagen; some were struck by it, but
most of them only remarked my Funen dialect, which drops the d in every
word. I was commended by many; but from the greater number I received
a lecture on modesty, and that I should not get too great ideas of
myself--I who really at that time thought nothing of myself. [Footnote:
How beautifully is all this part of the author's experience reflected
in that of Antonio, the Improvisatore, whose highly sensitive nature was
too often wounded by the well-meant lectures of patrons and common-place
minds.--M. H.]

At the house of Admiral Wulff I saw many men of the most distinguished
talent, and among them all my mind paid the greatest homage to one--that
was the poet Adam Oehlenschl ger. I heard his praise resound from every
mouth around me; I looked up to him with the most pious faith: I
was happy when one evening, in a large brilliantly-lighted drawing
room--where I deeply felt that my apparel was the shabbiest there, and
for that reason I concealed myself behind the long curtains--Oehlenschl
ger came to me and offered me his hand. I could have fallen before him
on my knees. I again saw Weyse, and heard him improvise upon the piano.
Wulff himself read aloud his translations of Byron; and Oehlenschl ger's
young daughter Charlotte surprised me by her joyous, merry humor.

From such a house as this, I, after a few days, returned to the rector,
and felt the difference deeply. He also came direct from Copenhagen,
where he had heard it said that I had read in company one of my own
poems. He looked at me with a penetrating glance, and commanded me to
bring him the poem, when, if he found in it one spark of poetry, he
would forgive me. I tremblingly brought to him "The Dying Child;" he
read it, and pronounced it to be sentimentality and idle trash. He gave
way freely to his anger. If he had believed that I wasted my time
in writing verses, or that I was of a nature which required a severe
treatment, then his intention would have been good; but he could
not pretend this. But from this day forward my situation was more
unfortunate than ever; I suffered so severely in my mind that I was very
near sinking under it. That was the darkest, the most unhappy time in my

Just then one of the masters went to Copenhagen, and related to Collin
exactly what I had to bear, and immediately he removed me from the
school and from the rector's house. When, in taking leave of him,
I thanked him for the kindness which I had received from him, the
passionate man cursed me, and ended by saying that I should never
become a student, that my verses would grow mouldy on the floor of the
bookseller's shop, and that I myself should end my days in a mad-house.
I trembled to my innermost being, and left him.

Several years afterwards, when my writings were read, when the
Improvisatore first came out, I met him in Copenhagen; he offered me his
hand in a conciliatory manner, and said that he had erred respecting me,
and had treated me wrong; but it now was all the same to me. The heavy,
dark days had also produced their blessing in my life. A young man, who
afterwards became celebrated in Denmark for his zeal in the Northern
languages and in history, became my teacher. I hired a little garret; it
is described in the Fiddler; and in The Picture Book without Pictures,
people may see that I often received there visits from the moon. I had
a certain sum allowed for my support; but as instruction was to be paid
for, I had to make savings in other ways. A few families through the
week-days gave me a place at their tables. I was a sort of boarder, as
many another poor student in Copenhagen is still: there was a variety in
it; it gave an insight into the several kinds of family life, which
was not without its influence on me. I studied industriously; in
some particular branches I had considerably distinguished myself in
Helsing÷r, especially in mathematics; these were, therefore, now much
more left to myself: everything tended to assist me in my Greek and
Latin studies; in one direction, however, and that the one in which it
would least have been expected, did my excellent teacher find much to
do; namely, in religion. He closely adhered to the literal meaning of
the Bible; with this I was acquainted, because from my first entrance
in the school I had clearly understood what was said and taught by it. I
received gladly, both with feeling and understanding, the doctrine, that
God is love: everything which opposed this--a burning hell, therefore,
whose fire endured forever--I could not recognize. Released from the
distressing existence of the school-bench, I now expressed myself like a
free man; and my teacher, who was one of the noblest and most amiable
of human beings, but who adhered firmly to the letter, was often quite
distressed about me. We disputed, whilst pure flames kindled within our
hearts. It was nevertheless good for me that I came to this unspoiled,
highly-gifted young man, who was possessed of a nature as peculiar as my

That which, on the contrary, was an error in me, and which became very
perceptible, was a pleasure which I had, not in jesting with, but in
playing with my best feelings, and in regarding the understanding as the
most important thing in the world. The rector had completely mistaken my
undisguisedly candid and sensitive character; my excitable feelings were
made ridiculous, and thrown back upon themselves; and now, when I could
freely advance upon the way to my object, this change showed itself in
me. From severe suffering I did not rush into libertinism, but into an
erroneous endeavor to appear other than I was. I ridiculed feeling,
and fancied that I had quite thrown it aside; and yet I could be made
wretched for a whole day, if I met with a sour countenance where I
expected a friendly one. Every poem which I had formerly written with
tears, I now parodied, or gave to it a ludicrous refrain; one of which
I called "The Lament of the Kitten," another, "The Sick Poet." The few
poems which I wrote at that time were all of a humorous character: a
complete change had passed over me; the stunted plant was reset, and now
began to put forth new shoots.

Wulff's eldest daughter, a very clever and lively girl, understood and
encouraged the humor, which made itself evident in my few poems; she
possessed my entire confidence; she protected me like a good sister, and
had great influence over me, whilst she awoke in me a feeling for the

At this time, also, a fresh current of life was sent through the Danish
literature; for this the people had an interest, and politics played no
part in it.

Heiberg, who had gained the acknowledged reputation of a poet by his
excellent works, "Psyche" and "Walter the Potter," had introduced the
vaudeville upon the Danish stage; it was a Danish vaudeville, blood of
our blood, and was therefore received with acclamation, and supplanted
almost everything else. Thalia kept carnival on the Danish stage, and
Heiberg was her secretary. I made his acquaintance first at Oersted's.
Refined, eloquent, and the hero of the day, he pleased me in a high
degree; he was most kind to me, and I visited him; he considered one of
my humorous poems worthy of a place in his most excellent weekly paper,
"The Flying Post." Shortly before I had, after a deal of trouble, got
my poem of "The Dying Child" printed in a paper; none of the many
publishers of journals, who otherwise accept of the most lamentable
trash, had the courage to print a poem by a schoolboy. My best known
poem they printed at that time, accompanied by an excuse for it. Heiberg
saw it, and gave it in his paper an honorable place. Two humorous poems,
signed H., were truly my debut with him.

I remember the first evening when the "Flying Post" appeared with my
verses in it. I was with a family who wished me well, but who regarded
my poetical talent as quite insignificant, and who found something to
censure in every line. The master of the house entered with the "Flying
Post" in his hand.

"This evening," said he, "there are two excellent poems: they are by
Heiberg; nobody else could write anything like them." And now my
poems were received with rapture. The daughter, who was in my secret,
exclaimed, in her delight, that I was the author. They were all struck
into silence, and were vexed. That wounded me deeply.

One of our least esteemed writers, but a man of rank, who was very
hospitable, gave me one day a seat at his table. He told me that a
new year's gift would come out, and that he was applied to for a
contribution. I said that a little poem of mine, at the wish of the
publisher, would appear in the same new year's gift.

"What, then, everybody and anybody are to contribute to this book!" said
the man in vexation: "then he will need nothing from me; I certainly can
hardly give him anything."

My teacher dwelt at a considerable distance from me. I went to him
twice each day, and on the way there my thoughts were occupied with my
lessons. On my return, however, I breathed more freely, and then bright
poetical ideas passed through my brain, but they were never committed to
paper; only five or six humorous poems were written in the course of the
year, and these disturbed me less when they were laid to rest on paper
than if they had remained in my mind.

In September, 1828, I was a student; and when the examination was over,
the thousand ideas and thoughts, by which I was pursued on the way to my
teacher, flew like a swarm of bees out into the world, and, indeed, into
my first work, "A Journey on Foot to Amack;" a peculiar, humorous book,
but one which fully exhibited my own individual character at that time,
my disposition to sport with everything, and to jest in tears over my
own feelings--a fantastic, gaily-colored tapestry-work. No publisher had
the courage to bring out that little book; I therefore ventured to do
it myself, and, in a few days after its appearance, the impression was
sold. Publisher Keitzel bought from me the second edition; after a while
he had a third; and besides this, the work was reprinted in Sweden.

Everybody read my book; I heard nothing but praise; I was "a
student,"--I had attained the highest goal of my wishes. I was in a
whirl of joy; and in this state I wrote my first dramatic work, "Love on
the Nicholas Tower, or, What says the Pit?" It was unsuccessful, because
it satirized that which no longer existed amongst us, namely, the shows
of the middle ages; besides which, it rather ridiculed the enthusiasm
for the vaudeville. The subject of it was, in short, as follows:--The
watchman of the Nicholas Tower, who always spoke as a knight of the
castle, wished to give his daughter to the watchman of the neighboring
church-tower; but she loved a young tailor, who had made a journey to
the grave of Eulenspiegel, and was just now returned, as the punch-bowl
steamed, and was to be emptied in honor of the young lady's consent
being given. The lovers escape together to the tailor's herberg, where
dancing and merriment are going forward. The watchman, however, fetches
back his daughter; but she had lost her senses, and she assured them
that she never would recover them, unless she had her tailor. The old
watchman determines that Fate should decide the affair; but, then, who
was Fate? The idea then comes into his head that the public shall be
his Pythia, and that the public shall decide whether she should have the
tailor or the watchman. They determine, therefore, to send to one of the
youngest of the poets, and beg him to write the history in the style of
the vaudeville, a kind of writing which was the most successful at that
time, and when the piece was brought upon the stage, and the public
either whistled or hissed, it should be in no wise considered that the
work of the young author had been unsuccessful, but that it should be
the voice of Fate, which said, "She shall marry the watchman." If, on
the contrary, the piece was successful, it indicated that she should
have the tailor; and this last, remarked the father, must be said in
prose, in order that the public may understand it. Now every one of
the characters thought himself on the stage, where in the epilogue
the lovers besought the public for their applause, whilst the watchman
begged them either to whistle, or at least to hiss.

My fellow students received the piece with acclamation; they were proud
of me. I was the second of their body who in this year had brought out
a piece on the Danish stage; the other was Arnesen, student at the same
time with me, and author of a vaudeville called "The Intrigue in the
People's Theatre," a piece which had a great run. We were the two young
authors of the October examination, two of the sixteen poets which this
year produced, and whom people in jest divided into the four great and
the twelve small poets.

I was now a happy human being; I possessed the soul of a poet, and the
heart of youth; all houses began to be open to me; I flew from circle to
circle. Still, however, I devoted myself industriously to study, so that
in September, 1829, I passed my _Examen philologicum et philosophicum_,
and brought out the first collected edition of my poems, which met with
great praise. Life lay bright with sunshine before me.


Until now I had only seen a small part of my native land, that is to
say, a few points in Funen and Zealand, as well as Moen's Klint, which
last is truly one of our most beautiful places; the beechwoods there
hang like a garland over the white chalk cliffs, from which a view is
obtained far over the Baltic. I wished, therefore, in the summer of
1830, to devote my first literary proceeds to seeing Jutland, and making
myself more thoroughly acquainted with my own Funen. I had no idea how
much solidity of mind I should derive from this summer excursion, or
what a change was about to take place in my inner life.

Jutland, which stretches between the German Ocean and the Baltic,
until it ends at Skagen in a reef of quicksands, possesses a peculiar
character. Towards the Baltic extend immense woods and hills; towards
the North Sea, mountains and quicksands, scenery of a grand and solitary
character; and between the two, infinite expanses of brown heath, with
their wandering gipsies, their wailing birds, and their deep solitude,
which the Danish poet, Steen Blicher, has described in his novels.

This was the first foreign scenery which I had ever seen, and the
impression, therefore, which it made upon me was very strong. [Footnote:
This impressive and wild scenery, with its characteristic figures, of
gipsies etc., is most exquisitely introduced into the author's novel of
"O. T."; indeed it gives a coloring and tone to the whole work, which
the reader never can forget. In my opinion Andersen never wrote anything
finer in the way of description than many parts of this work, though as
a story it is not equal to his others.--M. H.] In the cities, where
my "Journey on Foot" and my comic poems were known, I met with a good
reception. Funen revealed her rural life to me; and, not far from my
birth-place of Odense, I passed several weeks at the country seat of the
elder Iversen as a welcome guest. Poems sprung forth upon paper, but
of the comic fewer and fewer. Sentiment, which I had so often derided,
would now be avenged. I arrived, in the course of my journey, at the
house of a rich family in a small city; and here suddenly a new world
opened before me, an immense world, which yet could be contained in four
lines, which I wrote at that time:--

  A pair of dark eyes fixed my sight,
    They were my world, my home, my delight,
  The soul beamed in them, and childlike peace,
    And never on earth will their memory cease.

New plans of life occupied me. I would give up writing poetry,--to what
could it lead? I would study theology, and become a preacher; I had only
one thought, and that was _she_. But it was self-delusion: she loved
another; she married him. It was not till several years later that I
felt and acknowledged that it was best, both for her and for myself,
that things had fallen out as they were. She had no idea, perhaps, how
deep my feeling for her had been, or what an influence it produced in
me. She had become the excellent wife of a good man, and a happy mother.
God's blessing rest upon her!

In my "Journey on Foot," and in most of my writings, satire had been the
prevailing characteristic. This displeased many people, who thought that
this bent of mind could lead to no good purpose. The critics now blamed
me precisely for that which a far deeper feeling had expelled from my
breast. A new collection of Poetry, "Fancies and Sketches," which
was published for the new year, showed satisfactorily what my heart
suffered. A paraphrase of the history of my own heart appeared in a
serious vaudeville, "Parting and Meeting," with this difference only,
that here the love was mutual: the piece was not presented on the stage
till five years later.

Among my young friends in Copenhagen at that time was Orla Lehmann, who
afterwards rose higher in popular favor, on account of his political
efforts than any man in Denmark. Full of animation, eloquent and
undaunted, his character of mind was one which interested me also. The
German language was much studied at his father's; they had received
there Heine's poems, and they were very attractive for young Orla.
He lived in the country, in the neighborhood of the castle of
Fredericksberg. I went there to see him, and he sang as I came one of
Heine's verses, "Thalatta, Thalatta, du eviges Meer." We read Heine
together; the afternoon and the evening passed, and I was obliged to
remain there all night; but I had on this evening made the acquaintance
of a poet, who, as it seemed to me, sang from the soul; he supplanted
Hoffman, who, as might be seen by my "Journey on Foot," had formerly had
the greatest influence on me. In my youth there were only three authors
who as it were infused themselves into my blood,--Walter Scott, Hoffman,
and Heine.

I betrayed more and more in my writings an unhealthy turn of mind. I
felt an inclination to seek for the melancholy in life, and to linger
on the dark side of things. I became sensitive and thought rather of
the blame than the praise which was lavished on me. My late school
education, which was forced, and my impulse to become an author whilst
I was yet a student, make it evident that my first work, the "Journey on
Foot," was not without grammatical errors. Had I only paid some one
to correct the press, which was a work I was unaccustomed to, then no
charge of this kind could have been brought against me. Now, on the
contrary, people laughed at these errors, and dwelt upon them, passing
over carelessly that in the book which had merit. I know people who only
read my poems to find out errors; they noted down, for instance, how
often I used the word _beautiful,_ or some similar word. A gentleman,
now a clergyman, at that time a writer of vaudevilles and a critic, was
not ashamed, in a company where I was, to go through several of my poems
in this style; so that a little girl of six years old, who heard with
amazement that he discovered everything to be wrong, took the book, and
pointing out the conjunction _and,_ said, "There is yet a little word
about which you have not scolded." He felt what a reproof lay in the
remark of the child; he looked ashamed and kissed the little one. All
this wounded me; but I had, since my school-days, become somewhat timid,
and that caused me to take it all quietly: I was morbidly sensitive, and
I was good-natured to a fault. Everybody knew it, and some were on
that account almost cruel to me. Everybody wished to teach me; almost
everybody said that I was spoiled by praise, and therefore they would
speak the truth to me. Thus I heard continually of my faults, the real
and the ideal weaknesses. In the mean time, however, my feelings burst
forth; and then I said that I would become a poet whom they should see
honored. But this was regarded only as the crowning mark of the most
unbearable vanity; and from house to house it was repeated. I was a good
man, they said, but one of the vainest in existence; and in that very
time I was often ready wholly to despair of my abilities, and had, as
in the darkest days of my school-life, a feeling, as if my whole talents
were a self-deception. I almost believed so; but it was more than I
could bear, to hear the same thing said, sternly and jeeringly, by
others; and if I then uttered a proud, an inconsiderate word, it was
addressed to the scourge with which I was smitten; and when those who
smite are those we love, then do the scourges become scorpions.

For this reason Collin thought that I should make a little journey,--for
instance, to North Germany,--in order to divert my mind and furnish me
with new ideas.

In the spring of 1831, I left Denmark for the first time. I saw L
bek and Hamburg. Everything astonished me and occupied my mind. I saw
mountains for the first time,--the Harzgebirge. The world expanded so
astonishingly before me. My good humor returned to me, as to the bird
of passage. Sorrow is the flock of sparrows which remains behind, and
builds in the nests of the birds of passage. But I did not feel myself
wholly restored.

In Dresden I made acquaintance with Tieck. Ingemann had given me a
letter to him. I heard him one evening read aloud one of Shakspeare's
plays. On taking leave of him, he wished me a poet's success, embraced
and kissed me; which made the deepest impression upon me. The expression
of his eyes I shall never forget. I left him with tears, and prayed most
fervently to God for strength to enable me to pursue the way after which
my whole soul strove--strength, which should enable me to express that
which I felt in my soul; and that when I next saw Tieck, I might be
known and valued by him. It was not until several years afterwards, when
my later works were translated into German, and well received in his
country, that we saw each other again; I felt the true hand-pressure
of him who had given to me, in my second father-land, the kiss of

In Berlin, a letter of Oersted's procured me the acquaintance of
Chamisso. That grave man, with his long locks and honest eyes, opened
the door to me himself, read the letter, and I know not how it was, but
we understood each other immediately. I felt perfect confidence in
him, and told him so, though it was in bad German. Chamisso understood
Danish; I gave him my poems, and he was the first who translated any of
them, and thus introduced me into Germany. It was thus he spoke of me
at that time in the _Morgenblatt_: "Gifted with wit, fancy, humor, and
a national naivet , Andersen has still in his power tones which awaken
deeper echoes. He understands, in particular, how with perfect ease, by
a few slight but graphic touches, to call into existence little pictures
and landscapes, but which are often so peculiarly local as not to
interest those who are unfamiliar with the home of the poet. Perhaps
that which may be translated from him, or which is so already, may be
the least calculated to give a proper idea of him."

Chamisso became a friend for my whole life. The pleasure which he had in
my later writings may be seen by the printed letters addressed to me in
the collected edition of his works.

The little journey in Germany had great influence upon me, as my
Copenhagen friends acknowledged. The impressions of the journey were
immediately written down, and I gave them forth under the title of
"Shadow Pictures." Whether I were actually improved or not, there still
prevailed at home the same petty pleasure in dragging out my faults, the
same perpetual schooling of me; and I was weak enough to endure it from
those who were officious meddlers. I seldom made a joke of it; but if I
did so, it was called arrogance and vanity, and it was asserted that I
never would listen to rational people. Such an instructor once asked me
whether I wrote _Dog_ with a little _d_;--he had found such an error of
the press in my last work. I replied, jestingly, "Yes, because I here
spoke of a little dog."

But these are small troubles, people will say. Yes, but they are drops
which wear hollows in the rock. I speak of it here; I feel a necessity
to do so; here to protest against the accusation of vanity, which, since
no other error can be discovered in my private life, is seized upon, and
even now is thrown at me like an old medal.

From the end of the year 1828, to the beginning of 1839, I maintained
myself alone by my writings. Denmark is a small country; but few books
at that time went to Sweden and Norway; and on that account the profit
could not be great. It was difficult for me to pull through,--doubly
difficult, because my dress must in some measure accord with the
circles into which I went. To produce, and always to be producing,
was destructive, nay, impossible. I translated a few pieces for the
theatre,--_La Quarantaine_, and _La Reine de seize ans_; and as, at that
time, a young composer of the name of Hartmann, a grandson of him who
composed the Danish folks-song of "King Christian stood by the tall,
tall mast," wished for text to an opera, I was of course ready to write
it. Through the writings of Hoffman, my attention had been turned to the
masked comedies of Gozzi: I read _Il Corvo_, and finding that it was an
excellent subject, I wrote, in a few weeks, my opera-text of the Raven.
It will sound strange to the ears of countrymen when I say that I,
at that time, recommended Hartmann; that I gave my word for it, in my
letter to the theatrical directors, for his being a man of talent, who
would produce something good. He now takes the first rank among the
living Danish composers.

I worked up also Walter Scott's "Bride of Lammermoor" for another young
composer, Bredal. Both operas appeared on the stage; but I was subjected
to the most merciless criticism, as one who had stultified the labors of
foreign poets. What people had discovered to be good in me before seemed
now to be forgotten, and all talent was denied to me. The composer
Weyse, my earliest benefactor, whom I have already mentioned, was, on
the contrary, satisfied in the highest degree with my treatment of these
subjects. He told me that he had wished for a long time to compose an
opera from Walter Scott's "Kenilworth." He now requested me to commence
the joint work, and write the text. I had no idea of the summary justice
which would be dealt to me. I needed money to live, and, what still more
determined me to it, I felt flattered to have to work with Weyse our
most celebrated composer. It delighted me that he, who had first spoken
in my favor at Siboni's house, now, as artist, sought a noble connection
with me. I had scarcely half finished the text, when I was already
blamed for having made use of a well-known romance. I wished to give
it up; but Weyse consoled me, and encouraged me to proceed. Afterwards,
before he had finished the music, when I was about to travel abroad, I
committed my fate, as regarded the text, entirely to his hands. He wrote
whole verses of it, and the altered conclusion is wholly his own. It
was a peculiarity of that singular man that he liked no book which ended
sorrowfully. For that reason, Amy must marry Leicester, and Elizabeth
say, "Proud England, I am thine." I opposed this at the beginning; but
afterwards I yielded, and the piece was really half-created by Weyse. It
was brought on the stage, but was not printed, with the exception of
the songs. To this followed anonymous attacks: the city post brought
me letters in which the unknown writers scoffed at and derided me. That
same year I published a new collection of poetry, "The Twelve Months of
the Year;" and this book, though it was afterwards pronounced to contain
the greater part of my best lyrical poems, was then condemned as bad.

At that time "The Monthly Review of Literature," though it is now
gone to its grave, was in its full bloom. At its first appearance, it
numbered among its co-workers some of the most distinguished names. Its
want, however, was men who were qualified to speak ably on aesthetic
works. Unfortunately, everybody fancies himself able to give an opinion
upon these; but people may write excellently on surgery or pedagogical
science, and may have a name in those things, and yet be dolts in
poetry: of this proofs may be seen. By degrees it became more and more
difficult for the critical bench to find a judge for poetical works.
The one, however, who, through his extraordinary zeal for writing and
speaking, was ready at hand, was the historian and states-councillor
Molbeck, who played, in our time, so great a part in the history of
Danish criticism, that I must speak of him rather more fully. He is an
industrious collector, writes extremely correct Danish, and his Danish
dictionary, let him be reproached with whatever want he may, is a most
highly useful work; but, as a judge of aesthetic works, he is one-sided,
and even fanatically devoted to party spirit. He belongs, unfortunately,
to the men of science, who are only one sixty-fourth of a poet, and who
are the most incompetent judges of aesthetics. He has, for example,
by his critiques on Ingemann's romances, shown how far he is below the
poetry which he censures. He has himself published a volume of poems,
which belong to the common run of books, "A Ramble through Denmark,"
written in the _fade_, flowery style of those times, and "A Journey
through Germany, France, and Italy," which seems to be made up out of
books, not out of life. He sate in his study, or in the Royal Library,
where he has a post, when suddenly he became director of the theatre and
censor of the pieces sent in. He was sickly, one-sided in judgment, and
irritable: people may imagine the result. He spoke of my first poems
very favorably; but my star soon sank for another, who was in the
ascendant, a young lyrical poet, Paludan Muller; and, as he no longer
loved, he hated me. That is the short history; indeed, in the selfsame
Monthly Review the very poems which had formerly been praised were
now condemned by the same judge, when they appeared in a new increased
edition. There is a Danish proverb, "When the carriage drags, everybody
pushes behind;" and I proved the truth of it now.

It happened that a new star in Danish literature ascended at this time.
Heinrich Hertz published his "Letters from the Dead" anonymously: it was
a mode of driving all the unclean things out of the temple. The deceased
Baggesen sent polemical letters from Paradise, which resembled in
the highest degree the style of that author. They contained a sort
of apotheosis of Heiberg, and in part attacks upon Oehlenschl ger and
Hauch. The old story about my orthographical errors was again revived;
my name and my school-days in Slagelse were brought into connection with
St. Anders.

I was ridiculed, or if people will, I was chastised. Hertz's book went
through all Denmark; people spoke of nothing but him. It made it still
more piquant that the author of the work could not be discovered. People
were enraptured, and justly. Heiberg, in his "Flying Post," defended
a few aesthetical insignificants, but not me. I felt the wound of the
sharp knife deeply. My enemies now regarded me as entirely shut out from
the world of spirits. I however in a short time published a little book,
"Vignettes to the Danish Poets," in which I characterized the dead and
the living authors in a few lines each, but only spoke of that which was
good in them. The book excited attention; it was regarded as one of the
best of my works; it was imitated, but the critics did not meddle with
it. It was evident, on this occasion, as had already been the case, that
the critics never laid hands on those of my works which were the most

My affairs were now in their worst condition; and precisely in that same
year in which a stipend for travelling had been conferred upon Hertz,
I also had presented a petition for the same purpose. The universal
opinion was that I had reached the point of culmination, and if I was
to succeed in travelling it must be at this present time. I felt, what
since then has become an acknowledged fact, that travelling would be the
best school for me. In the mean time I was told that to bring it under
consideration I must endeavor to obtain from the most distinguished
poets and men of science a kind of recommendation; because this very
year there were so many distinguished young men who were soliciting a
stipend, that it would be difficult among these to put in an available
claim. I therefore obtained recommendations for myself; and I am, so
far as I know, the only Danish poet who was obliged to produce
recommendations to prove that he was a poet.

And here also it is remarkable, that the men who recommended me have
each one made prominent some very different qualification which gave
me a claim: for instance, Oehlenschl ger, my lyrical power, and the
earnestness that was in me; Ingemann, my skill in depicting popular
life; Heiberg declared that, since the days of Wessel, no Danish poet
had possessed so much humor as myself; Oersted remarked, every one,
they who were against me as well as those who were for me, agreed on one
subject, and this was that I was a _true_ poet. Thiele expressed himself
warmly and enthusiastically about the power which he had seen in me,
combating against the oppression and the misery of life. I received a
stipend for travelling; Hertz a larger and I a smaller one: and that
also was quite in the order of things.

"Now be happy," said my friends, "make yourself aware of your unbounded
good fortune! Enjoy the present moment, as it will probably be the only
time in which you will get abroad. You shall hear what people say about
you while you are travelling, and how we shall defend you; sometimes,
however, we shall not be able to do that."

It was painful to me to hear such things said; I felt a compulsion of
soul to be away, that I might, if possible, breathe freely; but sorrow
is firmly seated on the horse of the rider. More than one sorrow
oppressed my heart, and although I opened the chambers of my heart to
the world, one or two of them I keep locked, nevertheless. On setting
out on my journey, my prayer to God was that I might die far away from
Denmark, or return strengthened for activity, and in a condition to
produce works which should win for me and my beloved ones joy and honor.

Precisely at the moment of setting out on my journey, the form of my
beloved arose in my heart. Among the few whom I have already named,
there are two who exercised a great influence upon my life and my
poetry, and these I must more particularly mention. A beloved mother,
an unusually liberal-minded and well educated lady, Madame L ss c, had
introduced me into her agreeable circle of friends; she often felt the
deepest sympathy with me in my troubles; she always turned my attention
to the beautiful in nature and the poetical in the details of life, and
as almost everyone regarded me as a poet, she elevated my mind; yes, and
if there be tenderness and purity in anything which I have written, they
are among those things for which I have especially to be thankful
to her. Another character of great importance to me was Collin's
son Edward. Brought up under fortunate circumstances of life, he was
possessed of that courage and determination which I wanted. I felt that
he sincerely loved me, and I full of affection, threw myself upon him
with my whole soul; he passed on calmly and practically through the
business of life. I often mistook him at the very moment when he felt
for me most deeply, and when he would gladly have infused into me a
portion of his own character,--to me who was as a reed shaken by the
wind. In the practical part of life, he, the younger, stood actively by
my side, from the assistance which he gave in my Latin exercises, to
the arranging the business of bringing out editions of my works. He has
always remained the same; and were I to enumerate my friends, he would
be placed by me as the first on the list. When the traveller leaves the
mountains behind him, then for the first time he sees them in their true
form: so is it also with friends.

I arrived at Paris by way of Cassel and the Rhine. I retained a vivid
impression of all that I saw. The idea for a poem fixed itself firmer
and firmer in my mind; and I hoped, as it became more clearly worked
out, to propitiate by it my enemies. There is an old Danish folks-song
of Agnete and the Merman, which bore an affinity to my own state of
mind, and to the treatment of which I felt an inward impulse. The song
tells that Agnete wandered solitarily along the shore, when a merman
rose up from the waves and decoyed her by his speeches. She followed him
to the bottom of the sea, remained there seven years, and bore him seven
children. One day, as she sat by the cradle, she heard the church bells
sounding down to her in the depths of the sea, and a longing seized her
heart to go to church. By her prayers and tears she induced the merman
to conduct her to the upper world again, promising soon to return. He
prayed her not to forget his children, more especially the little one in
the cradle; stopped up her ears and her mouth, and then led her upwards
to the sea-shore. When, however, she entered the church, all the holy
images, as soon as they saw her, a daughter of sin and from the depths
of the sea, turned themselves round to the walls. She was affrighted,
and would not return, although the little ones in her home below were

I treated this subject freely, in a lyrical and dramatic manner. I
will venture to say that the whole grew out of my heart; all the
recollections of our beechwoods and the open sea were blended in it.

In the midst of the excitement of Paris I lived in the spirit of the
Danish folks-songs. The most heartfelt gratitude to God filled my soul,
because I felt that all which I had, I had received through his mercy;
yet at the same time I took a lively interest in all that surrounded me.
I was present at one of the July festivals, in their first freshness; it
was in the year 1833. I saw the unveiling of Napoleon's pillar. I gazed
on the world-experienced King Louis Philippe, who is evidently defended
by Providence. I saw the Duke of Orleans, full of health and the
enjoyment of life, dancing at the gay people's ball, in the gay Maison
de Ville. Accident led in Paris to my first meeting with Heine, the
poet, who at that time occupied the throne in my poetical world. When I
told him how happy this meeting and his kind words made me, he said that
this could not very well be the case, else I should have sought him out.
I replied, that I had not done so precisely because I estimated him so
highly. I should have feared that he might have thought it ridiculous
in me, an unknown Danish poet, to seek him out; "and," added I, "your
sarcastic smile would deeply have wounded me." In reply, he said
something friendly.

Several years afterwards, when we again met in Paris, he gave me a
cordial reception, and I had a view into the brightly poetical portion
of his soul.

Paul D port met me with equal kindness. Victor Hugo also received me.

 During my journey to Paris, and the whole month that I spent there, I
heard not a single word from home. Could my friends perhaps have nothing
agreeable to tell me? At length, however, a letter arrived; a large
letter, which cost a large sum in postage. My heart beat with joy and
yearning impatience; it was, indeed, my first letter. I opened it, but
I discovered not a single written word, nothing but a Copenhagen
newspaper, containing a lampoon upon me, and that was sent to me all
that distance with postage unpaid, probably by the anonymous writer
himself. This abominable malice wounded me deeply. I have never
discovered who the author was, perhaps he was one of those who
afterwards called me friend, and pressed my hand. Some men have base
thoughts: I also have mine.

It is a weakness of my country-people, that commonly, when abroad,
during their residence in large cities, they almost live exclusively in
company together; they must dine together, meet at the theatre, and see
all the lions of the place in company. Letters are read by each other;
news of home is received and talked over, and at last they hardly know
whether they are in a foreign land or their own. I had given way to the
same weakness in Paris; and in leaving it, therefore, determined for one
month to board myself in some quiet place in Switzerland, and live only
among the French, so as to be compelled to speak their language, which
was necessary to me in the highest degree.

In the little city of Lodi, in a valley of the Jura mountains, where the
snow fell in August, and the clouds floated below us, was I received by
the amiable family of a wealthy watchmaker. They would not hear a word
about payment. I lived among them and their friends as a relation, and
when we parted the children wept. We had become friends, although I
could not understand their patois; they shouted loudly into my ear,
because they fancied I must be deaf, as I could not understand them.
In the evenings, in that elevated region, there was a repose and a
stillness in nature, and the sound of the evening bells ascended to
us from the French frontier. At some distance from the city, stood
a solitary house, painted white and clean; on descending through two
cellars, the noise of a millwheel was heard, and the rushing waters of a
river which flowed on here, hidden from the world. I often visited this
place in my solitary rambles, and here I finished my poem of "Agnete and
the Merman," which I had begun in Paris.

I sent home this poem from Lodi; and never, with my earlier or my later
works, were my hopes so high as they were now. But it was received
coldly. People said I had done it in imitation of Oehlenschl ger, who
at one time sent home masterpieces. Within the last few years, I fancy,
this poem has been somewhat more read, and has met with its friends. It
was, however, a step forwards, and it decided, as it were, unconsciously
to me, my pure lyrical phasis. It has been also of late critically
adjudged in Denmark, that, notwithstanding that on its first appearance
it excited far less attention than some of my earlier and less
successful works, still that in this the poetry is of a deeper, fuller,
and more powerful character than anything which I had hitherto produced.

This poem closes one portion of my life.


On the 5th of September, 1833, I crossed the Simplon on my way to Italy.
On the very day, on which, fourteen years before, I had arrived poor and
helpless in Copenhagen, did I set foot in this country of my longing and
of my poetical happiness. It happened in this case, as it often does,
by accident, without any arrangement on my part, as if I had preordained
lucky days in the year; yet good fortune has so frequently been with me,
that I perhaps only remind myself of its visits on my own self-elected

All was sunshine--all was spring! The vine hung in long trails from tree
to tree; never since have I seen Italy so beautiful. I sailed on Lago
Maggiore; ascended the cathedral of Milan; passed several days in Genoa,
and made from thence a journey, rich in the beauties of nature, along
the shore to Carrara. I had seen statues in Paris, but my eyes were
closed to them; in Florence, before the Venus de Medici, it was for the
first time as if scales fell from my eyes; a new world of art disclosed
itself before me; that was the first fruit of my journey. Here it was
that I first learned to understand the beauty of form--the spirit which
reveals itself in form. The life of the people--nature--all was new to
me; and yet as strangely familiar as if I were come to a home where I
had lived in my childhood. With a peculiar rapidity did I seize
upon everything, and entered into its life, whilst a deep northern
melancholy--it was not home-sickness, but a heavy, unhappy
feeling--filled my breast. I received the news in Rome, of how little
the poem of Agnete, which I had sent home, was thought of there; the
next letter in Rome brought me the news that my mother was dead. I was
now quite alone in the world.

It was at this time, and in Rome, that my first meeting with Hertz took
place. In a letter which I had received from Collin, he had said that it
would give him pleasure to hear that Hertz and I had become friends; but
even without this wish it would have happened, for Hertz kindly offered
me his hand, and expressed sympathy with my sorrow. He had, of all those
with whom I was at that time acquainted, the most variously cultivated
mind. We had often disputations together, even about the attacks which
had been made upon me at home as a poet. He, who had himself given me a
wound, said the following words, which deeply impressed themselves on
my memory: "Your misfortune is, that you have been obliged to print
everything; the public has been able to follow you step by step. I
believe that even, a Goethe himself must have suffered the same fate,
had he been in your situation." And then he praised my talent for
seizing upon the characteristics of nature, and giving, by a few
intuitive sketches, pictures of familiar life. My intercourse with him
was very instructive to me, and I felt that I had one merciful judge
more. I travelled in company with him to Naples, where we dwelt together
in one house.

In Rome I also became first acquainted with Thorwaldsen. Many years
before, when I had not long been in Copenhagen, and was walking through
the streets as a poor boy, Thorwaldsen was there too: that was on his
first return home. We met one another in the street. I knew that he was
a distinguished man in art; I looked at him, I bowed; he went on, and
then, suddenly turning round, came back to me, and said, "Where have I
seen you before? I think we know one another." I replied, "No, we do not
know one another at all." I now related this story to him in Rome; he
smiled, pressed my hand, and said, "Yet we felt at that time that
we should become good friends." I read Agnete to him; and that which
delighted me in his judgment upon it was the assertion, "It is just,"
said he, "as if I were walking at home in the woods, and heard the
Danish lakes;" and then he kissed me.

One day, when he saw how distressed I was, and I related to him about
the pasquinade which I had received from home in Paris, he gnashed his
teeth violently, and said, in momentary anger, "Yes, yes, I know the
people; it would not have gone any better with me if I had remained
there; I should then, perhaps, not even have obtained permission to set
up a model. Thank God that I did not need them, for then they know how
to torment and to annoy." He desired me to keep up a good heart, and
then things could not fail of going well; and with that he told me of
some dark passages in his own life, where he in like manner had been
mortified and unjustly condemned.

After the Carnival, I left Rome for Naples; saw at Capri the blue
Grotto, which was at that time first discovered; visited the temple at
Paestum, and returned in the Easter week to Rome, from whence I went
through Florence and Venice to Vienna and Munich; but I had at that time
neither mind nor heart for Germany; and when I thought on Denmark, I
felt fear and distress of mind about the bad reception which I expected
to find there. Italy, with its scenery and its people's life, occupied
my soul, and towards this land I felt a yearning. My earlier life, and
what I had now seen, blended themselves together into an image--into
poetry, which I was compelled to write down, although I was convinced
that it would occasion me more trouble than joy, if my necessities at
home should oblige me to print it. I had written already in Rome the
first chapter. It was my novel of "The Improvisatore."

At one of my first visits to the theatre at Odense, as a little boy,
where, as I have already mentioned, the representations were given in
the German language, I saw the Donauweibchen, and the public applauded
the actress of the principal part. Homage was paid to her, and she was
honored; and I vividly remember thinking how happy she must be.

Many years afterwards, when, as a student, I visited Odense, I saw,
in one of the chambers of the hospital where the poor widows lived and
where one bed stood by another, a female portrait hanging over one bed
in a gilt frame. It was Lessing's Emilia Galotti, and represented her as
pulling the rose to pieces; but the picture was a portrait. It appeared
singular in contrast with the poverty by which it was surrounded.

"Whom does it represent?" asked I.

"Oh!" said one of the old women, "it is the face of the German lady,
the poor lady who once was an actress!" And then I saw a little delicate
woman, whose face was covered with wrinkles, and in an old silk gown
that once had been black. That was the once celebrated Singer, who, as
the Donauweibchen, had been applauded by every one. This circumstance
made an indelible impression upon me, and often occurred to my mind.

In Naples I heard Malibran for the first time. Her singing and acting
surpassed anything which I had hitherto either heard or seen; and yet
I thought the while of the miserably poor singer in the hospital of
Odense: the two figures blended into the Annunciata of the novel. Italy
was the back ground for that which had been experienced and that which
was imagined. In August of 1834 I returned to Denmark. I wrote the first
part of the book at Ingemann's, in Sor÷, in a little chamber in the
roof, among fragrant lime-trees. I finished it in Copenhagen.

At this time my best friends, even, had almost given me up as a poet;
they said that they had erred with regard to my talents. It was with
difficulty that I found a publisher for the book. I received a miserable
sum of money for it, and the "Improvisatore" made its appearance;
was read, sold out, and again published. The critics were silent; the
newspapers said nothing; but I heard all around me of the interest which
was felt for the work, and the delight that it occasioned. At length the
poet Carl Bagger, who was at that time the editor of a newspaper, wrote
the first critique upon it, and began ironically, with the customary
tirade against me--"that it was all over with this author, who had
already passed his heyday;"--in short, he went the whole length of the
tobacco and tea criticism, in order suddenly to dash out, and to express
his extremely warm enthusiasm for me; and my book. People now laughed
at me, but I wept. This was my mood of mind. I wept freely, and felt
gratitude to God and man.

"To the Conference Councillor Collin and to his noble wife, in whom I
found parents, whose children were brethren and sisters to me,
whose house was my home, do I here present the best of which I am
possessed."--So ran the dedication. Many who formerly had been my enemy,
now changed their opinion; and among these one became my friend, who,
I hope, will remain so through the whole of my life. That was Hauch the
poet, one of the noblest characters with whom I am acquainted. He had
returned home from Italy after a residence of several years abroad, just
at the time when Heiberg's vaudevilles were intoxicating the inhabitants
of Copenhagen, and when my "Journey on Foot" was making me a little
known. He commenced a controversy with Heiberg, and somewhat scoffed
at me. Nobody called his attention to my better lyrical writings; I was
described to him as a spoiled, petulant child of fortune. He now read
my Improvisatore, and feeling that there was something good in me, his
noble character evinced itself by his writing a cordial letter to me, in
which he said, that he had done me an injustice, and offered me now the
hand of reconciliation. From that time we became friends. He used his
influence for me with the utmost zeal, and has watched my onward career
with heartfelt friendship. But so little able have many people been to
understand what is excellent in him, or the noble connection of heart
between us two, that not long since, when he wrote a novel, and drew in
it the caricature of a poet, whose vanity ended in insanity, the
people in Denmark discovered that he had treated me with the greatest
injustice, because he had described in it my weakness. People must
not believe that this was the assertion of one single person, or a
misapprehension of my character; no; and Hauch felt himself compelled to
write a treatise upon me as a poet, that he might show what a different
place he assigned to me.

But to return to the "Improvisatore." This book raised my sunken
fortunes; collected my friends again around me, nay, even obtained
for me new ones. For the first time I felt that I had obtained a due
acknowledgment. The book was translated into German by Kruse, with a
long title, _"Jugendleben und Tr ume eines italienischen Dichter's."_ I
objected to the title; but he declared that it was necessary in order to
attract attention to the book.

Bagger had, as already stated, been the first to pass judgment on
the work; after an interval of some time a second critique made its
appearance, more courteous, it is true, than I was accustomed to, but
still passing lightly over the best things in the book and dwelling
on its deficiencies, and on the number of incorrectly written Italian
words. And, as Nicolai's well-known book, "Italy as it really is," came
out just then, people universally said, "Now we shall be able to see
what it is about which Andersen has written, for from Nicolai a true
idea of Italy may be obtained for the first time."

It was from Germany that resounded the first decided acknowledgment
of the merits of my work, or rather perhaps its over estimation. I bow
myself in joyful gratitude, like a sick man toward the sunshine, when
my heart is grateful. I am not, as the Danish Monthly Review, in its
critique of the "Improvisatore," condescended to assert, an unthankful
man, who exhibits in his work a want of gratitude towards his
benefactors. I was indeed myself poor Antonio who sighed under the
burden which I had to bear,--_I,_ the poor lad who ate the bread of
charity. From Sweden also, later, resounded my praise, and the Swedish
newspapers contained articles in praise of this work, which within the
last two years has been equally warmly received in England, where Mary
Howitt, the poetess, has translated it into English; the same good
fortune also is said to have attended the book in Holland and Russia.
Everywhere abroad resounded the loudest acknowledgments of its

There exists in the public a power which is stronger than all the
critics and cliques. I felt that I stood at home on firmer ground, and
my spirit again had moments in which it raised its wings for flight.
In this alternation of feeling between gaiety and ill humor, I wrote my
next novel, "O. T.," which is regarded by many persons in Denmark as my
best work;--an estimation which I cannot myself award to it. It contains
characteristic features of town life. My first Tales appeared before "O.
T;" but this is not the place in which to speak of them. I felt just at
this time a strong mental impulse to write, and I believed that I had
found my true element in novel-writing. In the following year, 1837,
I published "Only a Fiddler," a book which on my part had been deeply
pondered over, and the details of which sprang fresh to the paper. My
design was to show that talent is not genius, and that if the sunshine
of good fortune be withheld, this must go to the ground, though without
losing its nobler, better nature. This book likewise had its partisans;
but still the critics would not vouchsafe to me any encouragement;
they forgot that with years the boy becomes a man, and that people
may acquire knowledge in other than the ordinary ways. They could not
separate themselves from their old preconceived opinions. Whilst "O.
T." was going through the press it was submitted sheet by sheet to a
professor of the university, who had himself offered to undertake this
work, and by two other able men also; notwithstanding all this, the
Reviews said, "We find the usual grammatical negligence, which we always
find in Andersen, in this work also." That which contributed likewise to
place this book in the shade was the circumstance of Heiberg having
at that time published his Every-day Stories, which were written in
excellent language, and with good taste and truth. Their own merits, and
the recommendation of their being Heiberg's, who was the beaming star of
literature, placed them in the highest rank.

I had however advanced so far, that there no longer existed any doubt as
to my poetical ability, which people had wholly denied to me before my
journey to Italy. Still not a single Danish critic had spoken of the
characteristics which are peculiar to my novels. It was not until my
works appeared in Swedish that this was done, and then several Swedish
journals went profoundly into the subject and analyzed my works with
good and honorable intentions. The case was the same in Germany; and
from this country too my heart was strengthened to proceed. It was not
until last year that in Denmark, a man of influence, Hauch the poet,
spoke of the novels in his already mentioned treatise, and with a few
touches brought their characteristics prominently forward.

"The principal thing," says he, "in Andersen's best and most elaborate
works, in those which are distinguished for the richest fancy, the
deepest feeling, the most lively poetic spirit, is, of talent, or at
least of a noble nature, which will struggle its way out of narrow and
depressing circumstances. This is the case with his three novels, and
with this purpose in view, it is really an important state of existence
which he describes,--an inner world, which no one understands better
than he, who has himself, drained out of the bitter cup of suffering
and renunciation, painful and deep feelings which are closely related
to those of his own experience, and from which Memory, who, according
to the old significant myth, is the mother of the Muses, met him hand in
hand with them. That which he, in these his works, relates to the world,
deserves assuredly to be listened to with attention; because, at
the same time that it may be only the most secret inward life of the
individual, yet it is also the common lot of men of talent and genius,
at least when these are in needy circumstances, as is the case of
those who are here placed before our eyes. In so far as in his
'Improvisatore,' in 'O. T.,' and in 'Only a Fiddler,' he represents not
only himself, in his own separate individuality, but at the same time
the momentous combat which so many have to pass through, and which he
understands so well, because in it his own life has developed itself;
therefore in no instance can he be said to present to the reader what
belongs to the world of illusion, but only that which bears witness
to truth, and which, as is the case with all such testimony, has a
universal and enduring worth.

"And still more than this, Andersen is not only the defender of talent
and genius, but, at the same time, of every human heart which is
unkindly and unjustly treated. And whilst he himself has so painfully
suffered in that deep combat in which the Laocoon-snakes seize upon the
outstretched hand; whilst he himself has been compelled to drink from
that wormwood-steeped bowl which the cold-blooded and arrogant world
so constantly offers to those who are in depressed circumstances, he is
fully capable of giving to his delineations in this respect a truth
and an earnestness, nay, even a tragic and a pain-awakening pathos that
rarely fails of producing its effect on the sympathizing human heart.
Who can read that scene in his 'Only a Fiddler,' in which the 'high-bred
hound,' as the poet expresses it, 'turned away with disgust from
the broken victuals which the poor youth received as alms, without
recognizing, at the same time, that this is no game in which vanity
seeks for a triumph, but that it expresses much more--human nature
wounded to its inmost depths, which here speaks out its sufferings.'"

Thus is it spoken in Denmark of my works, after an interval of nine or
ten years; thus speaks the voice of a noble, venerated man. It is with
me and the critics as it is with wine,--the more years pass before it is
drunk the better is its flavor.

During the year in which "The Fiddler" came out, I visited for the first
time the neighboring country of Sweden. I went by the G÷ta canal
to Stockholm. At that time nobody understood what is now called
Scandinavian sympathies; there still existed a sort of mistrust
inherited from the old wars between the two neighbor nations. Little
was known of Swedish literature, and there were only very few Danes who
could easily read and understand the Swedish language;--people scarcely
knew Tegn r's Frithiof and Axel, excepting through translations. I had,
however, read a few other Swedish authors, and the deceased, unfortunate
Stagnelius pleased me more as a poet than Tegn r, who represented poetry
in Sweden. I, who hitherto had only travelled into Germany and southern
countries, where by this means, the departure from Copenhagen was also
the departure from my mother tongue, felt, in this respect, almost at
home in Sweden: the languages are so much akin, that of two persons
each might read in the language of his own country, and yet the other
understand him. It seemed to me, as a Dane, that Denmark expanded
itself; kinship with the people exhibited itself, in many ways, more
and more; and I felt, livingly, how near akin are Swedes, Danes, and

I met with cordial, kind people,--and with these I easily made
acquaintance. I reckon this journey among the happiest I ever made. I
had no knowledge of the character of Swedish scenery, and therefore I
was in the highest degree astonished by the Trollh tta-voyage, and
by the extremely picturesque situation of Stockholm. It sounds to the
uninitiated half like a fairy-tale, when one says that the steam-boat
goes up across the lakes over the mountains, from whence may be seen
the outstretched pine and beechwoods below. Immense sluices heave up and
lower the vessel again, whilst the travellers ramble through the woods.
None of the cascades of Switzerland, none in Italy, not even that of
Terni, have in them anything so imposing as that of Trollh tta. Such is
the impression, at all events, which it made on me.

On this journey, and at this last-mentioned place, commenced a very
interesting acquaintance, and one which has not been without its
influence on me,--an acquaintance with the Swedish authoress, Fredrika
Bremer. I had just been speaking with the captain of the steam-boat and
some of the passengers about the Swedish authors living in Stockholm,
and I mentioned my desire to see and converse with Miss Bremer.

"You will not meet with her," said the Captain, "as she is at this
moment on a visit in Norway."

"She will be coming back while I am there," said I in joke; "I always
am lucky in my journeys, and that which I most wish for is always

"Hardly this time, however," said the captain.

A few hours after this he came up to me laughing, with the list of the
newly arrived passengers in his hand. "Lucky fellow," said he aloud,
"you take good fortune with you; Miss Bremer is here, and sails with us
to Stockholm."

I received it as a joke; he showed me the list, but still I was
uncertain. Among the new arrivals, I could see no one who resembled
an authoress. Evening came on, and about midnight we were on the great
Wener lake. At sunrise I wished to have a view of this extensive lake,
the shores of which could scarcely be seen; and for this purpose I left
the cabin. At the very moment that I did so, another passenger was also
doing the same, a lady neither young nor old, wrapped in a shawl and
cloak. I thought to myself, if Miss Bremer is on board, this must be
she, and fell into discourse with her; she replied politely, but still
distantly, nor would she directly answer my question, whether she was
the authoress of the celebrated novels. She asked after my name; was
acquainted with it, but confessed that she had read none of my works.
She then inquired whether I had not some of them with me, and I lent
her a copy of the "Improvisatore," which I had destined for Beskow. She
vanished immediately with the volumes, and was not again visible all

When I again saw her, her countenance was beaming, and she was full of
cordiality; she pressed my hand, and said that she had read the greater
part of the first volume, and that she now knew me.

The vessel flew with us across the mountains, through quiet inland
lakes and forests, till it arrived at the Baltic Sea, where islands
lie scattered, as in the Archipelago, and where the most remarkable
transition takes place from naked cliffs to grassy islands, and to
those on which stand trees and houses. Eddies and breakers make it here
necessary to take on board a skilful pilot; and there are indeed some
places where every passenger must sit quietly on his seat, whilst the
eye of the pilot is riveted upon one point. On shipboard one feels the
mighty power of nature, which at one moment seizes hold of the vessel
and the next lets it go again.

Miss Bremer related many legends and many histories, which were
connected with this or that island, or those farm-premises up aloft on
the mainland.

In Stockholm, the acquaintance with her increased, and year after year
the letters which have passed between us have strengthened it. She is a
noble woman; the great truths of religion, and the poetry which lies in
the quiet circumstances of life, have penetrated her being.

It was not until after my visit to Stockholm that her Swedish
translation of my novel came out; my lyrical poems only, and my "Journey
on Foot," were known to a few authors; these received me with the utmost
kindness, and the lately deceased Dahlgr n, well known by his humorous
poems, wrote a song in my honor--in short, I met with hospitality, and
countenances beaming with Sunday gladness. Sweden and its inhabitants
became dear to me. The city itself, by its situation and its whole
picturesque appearance, seemed to me to emulate Naples. Of course,
this last has the advantage of fine atmosphere, and the sunshine of the
south; but the view of Stockholm is just as imposing; it has also some
resemblance to Constantinople, as seen from Pera, only that the minarets
are wanting. There prevails a great variety of coloring in the capital
of Sweden; white painted buildings; frame-work houses, with the
wood-work painted red; barracks of turf, with flowering plants; fir tree
and birches look out from among the houses, and the churches with their
balls and towers. The streets in S÷dermalm ascend by flights of
wooden steps up from the M lar lake, which is all active with smoking
steam-vessels, and with boats rowed by women in gay-colored dresses.

I had brought with me a letter of introduction from Oersted, to the
celebrated Berzelius, who gave me a good reception in the old city of
Upsala. From this place I returned to Stockholm. City, country, and
people, were all dear to me; it seemed to me, as I said before, that
the boundaries of my native land had stretched themselves out, and I now
first felt the kindredship of the three peoples, and in this feeling I
wrote a Scandinavian song, a hymn of praise for all the three nations,
for that which was peculiar and best in each one of them.

"One can see that the Swedes made a deal of him," was the first remark
which I heard at home on this song.

Years pass on; the neighbors understand each other better; Oehlenschl
ger. Fredrika Bremer, and Tegn r, caused them mutually to read each
other's authors, and the foolish remains of the old enmity, which had no
other foundation than that they did not know each other, vanished.
There now prevails a beautiful, cordial relationship between Sweden and
Denmark. A Scandinavian club has been established in Stockholm; and
with this my song came to honor; and it was then said, "it will outlive
everything that Andersen has written:" which was as unjust as when they
said that it was only the product of flattered vanity. This song is now
sung in Sweden as well as in Denmark.

 On my return home I began to study history industriously, and made
myself still further acquainted with the literature of foreign
countries. Yet still the volume which afforded me the greatest pleasure
was that of nature; and in a summer residence among the country-seats of
Funen, and more especially at Lykkesholm, with its highly romantic
site in the midst of woods, and at the noble seat of Glorup, from whose
possessor I met with the most friendly reception, did I acquire more
true wisdom, assuredly, in my solitary rambles, than I ever could have
gained from the schools.

The house of the Conference Councillor Collin in Copenhagen was at that
time, as it has been since, a second father's house to me, and there I
had parents, and brothers and sisters. The best circles of social life
were open to me, and the student life interested me: here I mixed in
the pleasures of youth. The student life of Copenhagen is, besides this,
different from that of the German cities, and was at this time peculiar
and full of life. For me this was most perceptible in the students'
clubs, where students and professors were accustomed to meet each other:
there was there no boundary drawn between the youthful and elder men of
letters. In this club were to be found the journals and books of various
countries; once a week an author would read his last work; a concert or
some peculiar burlesque entertainment would take place. It was here
that what may be called the first Danish people'scomedies took their
origin,--comedies in which the events of the day were worked up always
in an innocent, but witty and amusing manner. Sometimes dramatic
representations were given in the presence of ladies for the furtherance
of some noble purpose, as lately to assist Thorwaldsen's Museum, to
raise funds for the execution of Bissen's statue in marble, and for
similar ends. The professors and students were the actors. I also
appeared several times as an actor, and convinced myself that my terror
at appearing on the stage was greater than the talent which I perhaps
possessed. Besides this, I wrote and arranged several pieces, and thus
gave my assistance. Several scenes from this time, the scenes in the
students' club, I have worked up in my romance of "O. T." The humor and
love of life observable in various passages of this book, and in
the little dramatic pieces written about this time, are owing to the
influence of the family of Collin, where much good was done me in that
respect, so that my morbid turn of mind was unable to gain the mastery
of me. Collin's eldest married daughter, especially, exercised great
influence over me, by her merry humor and wit. When the mind is yielding
and elastic, like the expanse of ocean, it readily, like the ocean,
mirrors its environments.

My writings, in my own country, were now classed among those which
were always bought and read; therefore for each fresh work I received a
higher payment. Yet, truly, when you consider what a circumscribed world
the Danish reading world is, you will see that this payment could not be
the most liberal. Yet I had to live. Collin, who is one of the men who
do more than they promise, was my help, my consolation, my support.

At this time the late Count Conrad von Rantzau-Breitenburg, a native
of Holstein, was Prime Minister in Denmark. He was of a noble, amiable
nature, a highly educated man, and possessed of a truly chivalrous
disposition. He carefully observed the movements in German and Danish
literature. In his youth he had travelled much, and spent a long time
in Spain and Italy, He read my "Improvisatore" in the original; his
imagination was powerfully seized by it, and he spoke both at court and
in his own private circles of my book in the warmest manner. He did not
stop here; he sought me out, and became my benefactor and friend. One
forenoon, whilst I was sitting solitarily in my little chamber, this
friendly man stood before me for the first time. He belonged to that
class of men who immediately inspire you with confidence; he besought me
to visit him, and frankly asked me whether there were no means by which
he could be of use to me. I hinted how oppressive it was to be _forced_
to write in order to live, always to be forced to think of the morrow,
and not move free from care, to be able to develop your mind and
thoughts. He pressed my hand in a friendly manner, and promised to be an
efficient friend. Collin and Oersted secretly associated themselves with
him, and became my intercessors.

Already for many years there had existed, under Frederick VI., an
institution which does the highest honor to the Danish government,
namely, that beside the considerable sum expended yearly, for the
travelling expenses of young literary men and artists, a small pension
shall be awarded to such of them as enjoy no office emoluments. All our
most important poets have had a share of this assistance,--Oehlenschl
ger, Ingemann, Heiberg, C. Winther, and others. Hertz had just then
received such a pension, and his future life made thus the more secure.
It was my hope and my wish that the same good fortune might be mine--and
it was. Frederick VI. granted me two hundred rix dollars banco yearly.
I was filled with gratitude and joy. I was nolonger _forced_ to write in
order to live; I had a sure support in the possible event of sickness.
I was less dependent upon the people about me. A new chapter of my life


From this day forward, it was as if a more constant sunshine had entered
my heart. I felt within myself more repose, more certainty; it was clear
to me, as I glanced back over my earlier life, that a loving Providence
watched over me, that all was directed for me by a higher Power; and
the firmer becomes such a conviction, the more secure does a man feel
himself. My childhood lay behind me, my youthful life began properly
from this period; hitherto it had been only an arduous swimming against
the stream. The spring of my life commenced; but still the spring had
its dark days, its storms, before it advanced to settled summer; it has
these in order to develop what shall then ripen. That which one of my
dearest friends wrote to me on one of my later travels abroad, may serve
as an introduction to what I have here to relate. He wrote in his own
peculiar style:--"It is your vivid imagination which creates the idea
of your being despised in Denmark; it is utterly untrue. You and Denmark
agree admirably, and you would agree still better, if there were in
Denmark no theatre--_Hinc illae lacrymae!_ This cursed theatre. Is this,
then, Denmark? and are you, then, nothing but a writer for the theatre?"

Herein lies a solid truth. The theatre has been the cave out of which
most of the evil storms have burst upon me. They are peculiar people,
these people of the theatre,--as different, in fact, from others, as
Bedouins from Germans; from the first pantomimist to the first lover,
everyone places himself systematically in one scale, and puts all the
world in the other. The Danish theatre is a good theatre, it may indeed
be placed on a level with the Burg theatre in Vienna; but the theatre in
Copenhagen plays too great a part in conversation, and possesses in most
circles too much importance. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the
stage and the actors in other great cities, and therefore cannot compare
them with our theatre; but ours has too little military discipline, and
this is absolutely necessary where many people have to form a whole,
even when that whole is an artistical one. The most distinguished
dramatic poets in Denmark--that is to say, in Copenhagen, for there
only is a theatre--have their troubles. Those actors and actresses who,
through talent or the popular favor, take the first rank, very often
place themselves above both the managers and authors. These must pay
court to them, or they may ruin a part, or what is still worse, may
spread abroad an unfavorable opinion of the piece previous to its being
acted; and thus you have a coffee-house criticism before any one ought
properly to know anything of the work. It is moreover characteristic of
the people of Copenhagen, that when a new piece is announced, they do
not say, "I am glad of it," but, "It will probably be good for nothing;
it will be hissed off the stage." That hissing-off plays a great part,
and is an amusement which fills the house; but it is not the bad actor
who is hissed, no, the author and the composer only are the criminals;
for them the scaffold is erected. Five minutes is the usual time,
and the whistles resound, and the lovely women smile and felicitate
themselves, like the Spanish ladies at their bloody bullfights. All our
most eminent dramatic writers have been whistled down,--as Oehlenschl
ger, Heiberg, Oversko, and others; to say nothing of foreign classics,
as Moli re. In the mean time the theatre is the most profitable sphere
of labor for the Danish writer, whose public does not extend far beyond
the frontiers. This had induced me to write the opera-text already
spoken of, on account of which I was so severely criticised; and an
internal impulse drove me afterwards to add some other works. Collin
was no longer manager of the theatre, Councillor of Justice Molbeck had
taken his place; and the tyranny which now commenced degenerated into
the comic. I fancy that in course of time the manuscript volumes of the
censorship, which are preserved in the theatre, and in which Molbeck has
certainly recorded his judgments on received and rejected pieces, will
present some remarkable characteristics. Over all that I wrote the staff
was broken! One way was open to me by which to bring my pieces on the
stage; and that was to give them to those actors who in summer gave
representations at their own cost. In the summer of 1839 I wrote the
vaudeville of "The Invisible One on Sprog÷," to scenery which had been
painted for another piece which fell through; and the unrestrained
merriment of the piece gave it such favor with the public, that I
obtained its acceptance by the manager; and that light sketch still
maintains itself on the boards, and has survived such a number of
representations as I had never anticipated.

This approbation, however, procured me no further advantage, for each of
my succeeding dramatic works received only rejection, and occasioned
me only mortification. Nevertheless, seized by the idea and the
circumstances of the little French narrative, "_Les paves_," I
determined to dramatise it; and as I had often heard that I did not
possess the assiduity sufficient to work my mat riel well, I resolved to
labor this drama--"The Mulatto"--from the beginning to the end, in the
most diligent manner, and to compose it in alternately rhyming verse,
as was then the fashion. It was a foreign subject of which I availed
myself; but if verses are music, I at least endeavored to adapt my music
to the text, and to let the poetry of another diffuse itself through my
spiritual blood; so that people should not be heard to say, as they had
done before, regarding the romance of Walter Scott, that the composition
was cut down and fitted to the stage.

The piece was ready, and declared by able men, old friends, and actors
who were to appear in it, to be excellent; a rich dramatic capacity lay
in the mat riel, and my lyrical composition clothed this with so fresh
a green, that people appeared satisfied. The piece was sent in, and was
rejected by Molbeck. It was sufficiently known that what he cherished
for the boards, withered there the first evening; but what he cast away
as weeds were flowers for the garden--a real consolation for me. The
assistant-manager, Privy Counsellor of State, Adler, a man of taste and
liberality, became the patron of my work; and since a very favorable
opinion of it already prevailed with the public, after I had read it to
many persons, it was resolved on for representation. I had the honor to
read it before my present King and Queen, who received me in a very kind
and friendly manner, and from whom, since that time, I have experienced
many proofs of favor and cordiality. The day of representation arrived;
the bills were posted; I had not closed my eyes through the whole night
from excitement and expectation; the people already stood in throngs
before the theatre, to procure tickets, when royal messengers
galloped through the streets, solemn groups collected, the minute guns
pealed,--Frederick VI. had died this morning!

For two months more was the theatre closed, and was opened under
Christian VIII., with my drama--"The Mulatto;" which was received with
the most triumphant acclamation; but I could not at once feel the joy of
it, I felt only relieved from a state of excitement, and breathed more

This piece continued through a series of representations to receive the
same approbation; many placed this work far above all my former ones,
and considered that with it began my proper poetical career. It was
soon translated into the Swedish, and acted with applause at the royal
theatre in Stockholm. Travelling players introduced it into the smaller
towns in the neighboring country; a Danish company gave it in the
original language, in the Swedish city Malm÷, and a troop of students
from the university town of Lund, welcomed it with enthusiasm. I had
been for a week previous on a visit at some Swedish country houses,
where I was entertained with so much cordial kindness that the
recollection of it will never quit my bosom; and there, in a foreign
country, I received the first public testimony of honor, and which has
left upon me the deepest and most inextinguishable impression. I was
invited by some students of Lund to visit their ancient town. Here
a public dinner was given to me; speeches were made, toasts were
pronounced; and as I was in the evening in a family circle, I was
informed that the students meant to honor me with a serenade.

I felt myself actually overcome by this intelligence; my heart throbbed
feverishly as I descried the thronging troop, with their blue caps,
and arm-in-arm approaching the house. I experienced a feeling of
humiliation; a most lively consciousness of my deficiencies, so that I
seemed bowed to the very earth at the moment others were elevating me.
As they all uncovered their heads while I stepped forth, I had need of
all my thoughts to avoid bursting into tears. In the feeling that I was
unworthy of all this, I glanced round to see whether a smile did not
pass over the face of some one, but I could discern nothing of the kind;
and such a discovery would, at that moment, have inflicted on me the
deepest wound.

After an hurrah, a speech was delivered, of which I clearly recollect
the following words:--"When your native land, and the natives of Europe
offer you their homage, then may you never forget that the first public
honors were conferred on you by the students of Lund."

When the heart is warm, the strength of the expression is not weighed. I
felt it deeply, and replied, that from this moment I became aware that
I must assert a name in order to render myself worthy of these tokens
of honor. I pressed the hands of those nearest to me, and returned them
thanks so deep, so heartfelt,--certainly never was an expression of
thanks more sincere. When I returned to my chamber, I went aside, in
order to weep out this excitement, this overwhelming sensation. "Think
no more of it, be joyous with us," said some of my lively Swedish
friends; but a deep earnestness had entered my soul. Often has the
memory of this time come back to me; and no noble-minded man, who reads
these pages will discover a vanity in the fact, that I have lingered so
long over this moment of life, which scorched the roots of pride rather
than nourished them.

My drama was now to be brought on the stage at Malm÷; the students
wished to see it; but I hastened my departure, that I might not be in
the theatre at the time. With gratitude and joy fly my thoughts towards
the Swedish University city, but I myself have not been there again
since. In the Swedish newspapers the honors paid me were mentioned, and
it was added that the Swedes were not unaware that in my own country
there was a clique which persecuted me; but that this should not hinder
my neighbors from offering me the honors which they deemed my due.

It was when I had returned to Copenhagen that I first truly felt how
cordially I had been received by the Swedes; amongst some of my old and
tried friends I found the most genuine sympathy. I saw tears in their
eyes, tears of joy for the honors paid me; and especially, said they,
for the manner in which I had received them. There is but one manner for
me; at once, in the midst of joy, I fly with thanks to God.

There were certain persons who smiled at the enthusiasm; certain voices
raised themselves already against "The Mulatto;"--"the mat riel was
merely borrowed;" the French narrative was scrupulously studied. That
exaggerated praise which I had received, now made me sensitive to the
blame; I could bear it less easily than before, and saw more clearly,
that it did not spring out of an interest in the matter, but was only
uttered in order to mortify me. For the rest, my mind was fresh
and elastic; I conceived precisely at this time the idea of "The
Picture-Book without Pictures," and worked it out. This little book
appears, to judge by the reviews and the number of editions, to have
obtained an extraordinary popularity in Germany; it was also translated
into Swedish, and dedicated to myself; at home, it was here less
esteemed; people talked only of The Mulatto; and finally, only of
the borrowed mat riel of it. I determined, therefore to produce a
new dramatic work, in which both subject and development, in fact,
everything should be of my own conception. I had the idea, and now
wrote the tragedy of The Moorish Maiden, hoping through this to stop the
mouths of all my detractors, and to assert my place as a dramatic poet.
I hoped, too, through the income from this, together with the proceeds
of The Mulatto, to be able to make a fresh journey, not only to Italy,
but to Greece and Turkey. My first going abroad had more than all
besides operated towards my intellectual development; I was therefore
full of the passion for travel, and of the endeavor to acquire more
knowledge of nature and of human life.

My new piece did not please Heiberg, nor indeed my dramatic endeavors at
all; his wife--for whom the chief part appeared to me especially to be
written--refused, and that not in the most friendly manner, to play
it. Deeply wounded, I went forth. I lamented this to some individuals.
Whether this was repeated, or whether a complaint against the favorite
of the public is a crime, enough: from this hour Heiberg became my
opponent,--he whose intellectual rank I so highly estimated,--he with
whom I would so willingly have allied myself,--and he who so often--I
will venture to say it--I had approached with the whole sincerity of my
nature. I have constantly declared his wife to be so distinguished an
actress, and continue still so entirely of this opinion, that I would
not hesitate one moment to assert that she would have a European
reputation, were the Danish language as widely diffused as the German
or the French. In tragedy she is, by the spirit and the geniality with
which she comprehends and fills any part, a most interesting object; and
in comedy she stands unrivalled.

The wrong may be on my side or not,--no matter: a party was opposed to
me. I felt myself wounded, excited by many coincident annoyances there.
I felt uncomfortable in my native country, yes, almost ill. I therefore
left my piece to its fate, and, suffering and disconcerted, I hastened
forth. In this mood I wrote a prologue to The Moorish Maiden; which
betrayed my irritated mind far too palpably. If I would represent this
portion of my life more clearly and reflectively it would require me to
penetrate into the mysteries of the theatre, to analyze our aesthetic
cliques, and to drag into conspicuous notice many individuals, who do
not belong to publicity. Many persons in my place would, like me, have
fallen ill, or would have resented it vehemently: perhaps the latter
would have been the most sensible.

At my departure, many of my young friends amongst the students prepared
a banquet for me; and amongst the elder ones who were present to
receive me were Collin, Oehlenschl ger and Oersted. This was somewhat of
sunshine in the midst of my mortification; songs by Oehlenschl ger and
Hillerup were sung; and I found cordiality and friendship, as I quitted
my country in distress. This was in October of 1840.

For the second time I went to Italy and Rome, to Greece and
Constantinople--a journey which I have described after my own manner in
A Poet's Bazaar.

In Holstein I continued some days with Count Rantzau-Breitenburg, who
had before invited me, and whose ancestral castle I now for the
first time visited. Here I became acquainted with the rich scenery of
Holstein, heath and moorland, and then hastened by Nuremberg to Munich,
where I again met with Cornelius and Schelling, and was kindly received
by Kaulbach and Schelling. I cast a passing glance on the artistic
life in Munich, but for the most part pursued my own solitary course,
sometimes filled with the joy of life, but oftener despairing of my
powers. I possessed a peculiar talent, that of lingering on the gloomy
side of life, of extracting the bitter from it, of tasting it; and
understood well, when the whole was exhausted, how to torment myself.

In the winter season I crossed the Brenner, remained some days in
Florence, which I had before visited for a longer time, and about
Christmas reached Rome. Here again I saw the noble treasures of art, met
old friends, and once more passed a Carnival and Moccoli. But not alone
was I bodily ill; nature around me appeared likewise to sicken; there
was neither the tranquillity nor the freshness which attended my
first sojourn in Rome. The rocks quaked, the Tiber twice rose into the
streets, fever raged, and snatched numbers away. In a few days Prince
Borghese lost his wife and three sons. Rain and wind prevailed; in
short, it was dismal, and from home cold lotions only were sent me. My
letters told me that The Moorish Maiden had several times been
acted through, and had gone quietly off the stage; but, as was seen
beforehand, a small public only had been present, and therefore the
manager had laid the piece aside. Other Copenhagen letters to our
countrymen in Rome spoke with enthusiasm of a new work by Heiberg; a
satirical poem--A Soul after Death. It was but just out, they wrote; all
Copenhagen was full of it, and Andersen was famously handled in it. The
book was admirable, and I was made ridiculous in it. That was the whole
which I heard,--all that I knew. No one told me what really was said of
me; wherein lay the amusement and the ludicrous. It is doubly painful
to be ridiculed when we don't know wherefore we are so. The information
operated like molten lead dropped into a wound, and agonized me cruelly.
It was not till after my return to Denmark that I read this book, and
found that what was said of me in it, was really nothing in itself which
was worth laying to heart. It was a jest over my celebrity "from Schonen
to Hundsr ck", which did not please Heiberg; he therefore sent my
Mulatto and The Moorish Maiden to the infernal regions, where--and that
was the most witty conceit--the condemned were doomed to witness the
performance of both pieces in one evening; and then they could go away
and lay themselves down quietly. I found the poetry, for the rest, so
excellent, that I was half induced to write to Heiberg, and to return
him my thanks for it; but I slept upon this fancy, and when I awoke and
was more composed, I feared lest such thanks should be misunderstood;
and so I gave it up.

In Rome, as I have said, I did not see the book; I only heard the arrows
whizz and felt their wound, but I did not know what the poison was which
lay concealed in them. It seemed to me that Rome was no joy-bringing
city; when I was there before, I had also passed dark and bitter days. I
was ill, for the first time in my life, truly and bodily ill, and I made
haste to get away.

The Danish poet Holst was then in Rome; he had received this year a
travelling pension. Hoist had written an elegy on King Frederick VI.,
which went from mouth to mouth, and awoke an enthusiasm, like that of
Becker's contemporaneous Rhine song in Germany. He lived in the same
house with me in Rome, and showed me much sympathy: with him I made the
journey to Naples, where, notwithstanding it was March, the sun would
not properly shine, and the snow lay on the hills around. There was
fever in my blood; I suffered in body and in mind; and I soon lay
so severely affected by it, that certainly nothing but a speedy
blood-letting, to which my excellent Neapolitan landlord compelled me,
saved my life.

In a few days I grew sensibly better; and I now proceeded by a French
war steamer to Greece. Holst accompanied me on board. It was now as if
a new life had risen for me; and in truth this was the case; and if this
does not appear legibly in my later writings, yet it manifested itself
in my views of life, and in my whole inner development. As I saw my
European home lie far behind me, it seemed to me as if a stream of
forgetfulness flowed of all bitter and rankling remembrances: I felt
health in my blood, health in my thoughts, and freshly and courageously
I again raised my head.

Like another Switzerland, with a loftier and clearer heaven than the
Italian, Greece lay before me; nature made a deep and solemn impression
upon me; I felt the sentiment of standing on the great battle field of
the world, where nation had striven with nation, and had perished.
No single poem can embrace such greatness; every scorched-up bed of a
stream, every height, every stone, has mighty memoirs to relate. How
little appear the inequalities of daily life in such a place! A kingdom
of ideas streamed through me, and with such a fulness, that none of them
fixed themselves on paper. I had a desire to express the idea, that the
godlike was here on earth to maintain its contest, that it is thrust
backward, and yet advances again victoriously through all ages; and I
found in the legend of the Wandering Jew an occasion for it. For twelve
months this fiction had been emerging from the sea of my thoughts; often
did it wholly fill me; sometimes I fancied with the alchemists that I
had dug up the treasure; then again it sank suddenly, and I despaired
of ever being able to bring it to the light. I felt what a mass of
knowledge of various kinds I must first acquire. Often at home, when I
was compelled to hear reproofs on what they call a want of study, I had
sat deep into the night, and had studied history in Hegel's Philosophy
of History. I said nothing of this, or other studies, or they would
immediately have been spoken of, in the manner of an instructive lady,
who said, that people justly complained that I did not possess learning
enough. "You have really no mythology" said she; "in all your poems
there appears no single God. You must pursue mythology; you must read
Racine and Corneille." That she called learning; and in like manner
every one had something peculiar to recommend. For my poem of Ahasuerus
I had read much and noted much, but yet not enough; in Greece, I
thought, the whole will collect itself into clearness. The poem is not
yet ready, but I hope that it will become so to my honor; for it happens
with the children of the spirit, as with the earthly ones,--they grow as
they sleep.

In Athens I was heartily welcomed by Professor Ross, a native of
Holstein, and by my countrymen. I found hospitality and a friendly
feeling in the noble Prokesch-Osten; even the king and queen received me
most graciously. I celebrated my birthday in the Acropolis.

From Athens I sailed to Smyrna, and with me it was no childish pleasure
to be able to tread another quarter of the globe. I felt a devotion in
it, like that which I felt as a child when I entered the old church at
Odense. I thought on Christ, who bled on this earth; I thought on Homer,
whose song eternally resounds hence over the earth. The shores of Asia
preached to me their sermons, and were perhaps more impressive than any
sermon in any church can be.

In Constantinople I passed eleven interesting days; and according to
my good fortune in travel, the birthday of Mahomet itself fell exactly
during my stay there. I saw the grand illumination, which completely
transported me into the Thousand and One Nights.

Our Danish ambassador lived several miles from Constantinople, and I had
therefore no opportunity of seeing him; but I found a cordial reception
with the Austrian internuntius, Baron von St rmer. With him I had a
German home and friends. I contemplated making my return by the Black
Sea and up the Danube; but the country was disturbed; it was said there
had been several thousand Christians murdered. My companions of the
voyage, in the hotel where I resided, gave up this route of the Danube,
for which I had the greatest desire, and collectively counselled me
against it. But in this case I must return again by Greece and Italy--it
was a severe conflict.

I do not belong to the courageous; I feel fear, especially in little
dangers; but in great ones, and when an advantage is to be won, then I
have a will, and it has grown firmer with years. I may tremble, I may
fear; but I still do that which I consider the most proper to be done.
I am not ashamed to confess my weakness; I hold that when out of our
own true conviction we run counter to our inborn fear, we have done our
duty. I had a strong desire to become acquainted with the interior of
the country, and to traverse the Danube in its greatest expansion. I
battled with myself; my imagination pointed to me the most horrible
circumstances; it was an anxious night. In the morning I took counsel
with Baron St rmer; and as he was of opinion that I might undertake
the voyage, I determined upon it. From the moment that I had taken my
determination, I had the most immovable reliance on Providence, and
flung myself calmly on my fate. Nothing happened to me. The voyage was
prosperous, and after the quarantine on the Wallachian frontier, which
was painful enough to me, I arrived at Vienna on the twenty-first day
of the journey. The sight of its towers, and the meeting with numerous
Danes, awoke in me the thought of being speedily again at home. The idea
bowed down my heart, and sad recollections and mortifications rose up
within me once more.

In August, 1841, I was again in Copenhagen. There I wrote my
recollections of travel, under the title of A Poet's Bazaar, in several
chapters, according to the countries. In various places abroad I had met
with individuals, as at home, to whom I felt myself attached. A poet is
like the bird; he gives what he has, and he gives a song. I was desirous
to give every one of those dear ones such a song. It was a fugitive
idea, born, may I venture to say, in a grateful mood. Count
Rantzau-Breitenburg, who had resided in Italy, who loved the land, and
was become a friend and benefactor to me through my Improvisatore, must
love that part of the book which treated of his country. To Liszt and
Thalberg, who had both shown me the greatest friendship, I dedicated
the portion which contained the voyage up the Danube, because one was a
Hungarian and the other an Austrian. With these indications, the reader
will easily be able to trace out the thought which influenced me in the
choice of each dedication. But these appropriations were, in my native
country, regarded as a fresh proof of my vanity;--"I wished to figure
with great names, to name distinguished people as my friends."

The book has been translated into several languages, and the dedications
with it. I know not how they have been regarded abroad; if I have been
judged there as in Denmark, I hope that this explanation will change
the opinion concerning them. In Denmark my Bazaar procured me the most
handsome remuneration that I have as yet received,--a proof that I
was at length read there. No regular criticism appeared upon it, if
we except notices in some daily papers, and afterwards in the poetical
attempt of a young writer who, a year before, had testified to me in
writing his love, and his wish to do me honor; but who now, in his first
public appearance, launched his satirical poem against his friend. I
was personally attached to this young man, and am so still. He assuredly
thought more on the popularity he would gain by sailing in the wake
of Heiberg, than on the pain he would inflict on me. The newspaper
criticism in Copenhagen was infinitely stupid. It was set down as
exaggerated, that I could have seen the whole round blue globe of the
moon in Smyrna at the time of the new moon. That was called fancy and
extravagance, which there every one sees who can open his eyes. The new
moon has a dark blue and perfectly round disk.

The Danish critics have generally no open eye for nature: even the
highest and most cultivated monthly periodical of literature in Denmark
censured me once because, in a poem I had described a rainbow by
moonlight. That too was my fancy, which, said they, carried me too far.
When I said in the Bazaar, "if I were a painter, I would paint this
bridge; but, as I am no painter, but a poet, I must therefore speak,"
&c. Upon this the critic says, "He is so vain, that he tells us himself
that he is a poet." There is something so pitiful in such criticism,
that one cannot be wounded by it; but even when we are the most
peaceable of men, we feel a desire to flagellate such wet dogs, who come
into our rooms and lay themselves down in the best place in them.
There might be a whole Fool's Chronicle written of all the absurd and
shameless things which, from my first appearance before the public till
this moment, I have been compelled to hear.

In the meantime the Bazaar was much read, and made what is called a
hit. I received, connected with this book, much encouragement and many
recognitions from individuals of the highest distinction in the realms
of intellect in my native land.

The journey had strengthened me both in mind and body; I began to show
indications of a firmer purpose, a more certain judgment. I was now in
harmony with myself and with mankind around me.

Political life in Denmark had, at that time, arrived at a higher
development, producing both good and evil fruits. The eloquence which
had formerly accustomed itself to the Demosthenic mode, that of putting
little pebbles in the mouth, the little pebbles of every day life, now
exercised itself more freely on subjects of greater interest. I felt no
call thereto, and no necessity to mix myself up in such matters; for I
then believed that the politics of our times were a great misfortune to
many a poet. Madame, politics are like Venus; they whom she decoys into
her castle perish. It fares with the writings of these poets as with the
newspapers: they are seized upon, read, praised, and forgotten. In our
days every one wishes to rule; the subjective makes its power of value;
people forget that that which is thought of cannot always be carried
out, and that many things look very different when contemplated from the
top of the tree, to what they did when seen from its roots. I will bow
myself before him who is influenced by a noble conviction, and who only
desires that which is conducive to good, be he prince or man of the
people. Politics are no affair of mine. God has imparted to me another
mission: that I felt, and that I feel still. I met in the so-called
first families of the country a number of friendly, kind-hearted men,
who valued the good that was in me, received me into their circles, and
permitted me to participate in the happiness of their opulent summer
residences; so that, still feeling independent, I could thoroughly give
myself up to the pleasures of nature, the solitude of woods, and country
life. There for the first time I lived wholly among the scenery of
Denmark, and there I wrote the greater number of my fairy tales. On
the banks of quiet lakes, amid the woods, on the green grassy pastures,
where the game sprang past me and the stork paced along on his red
legs, I heard nothing of politics, nothing of polemics; I heard no one
practising himself in Hagel's phraseology. Nature, which was around me
and within me, preached to me of my calling. I spent many happy days at
the old house of Gisselfeld, formerly a monastery, which stands in the
deepest solitude of the woods, surrounded with lakes and hills. The
possessor of this fine place, the old Countess Danneskjold, mother of
the Duchess of Augustenburg, was an agreeable and excellent lady, I was
there not as a poor child of the people, but as a cordially-received
guest. The beeches now overshadow her grave in the midst of that
pleasant scenery to which her heart was allied.

Close by Gisselfeld, but in a still finer situation, and of much greater
extent, lies the estate of Bregentoed, which belongs to Count Moltke,
Danish Minister of Finance. The hospitality which I met with in this
place, one of the richest and most beautiful of our country, and the
happy, social life which surrounded me here, have diffused a sunshine
over my life.

It may appear, perhaps, as if I desired to bring the names of great
people prominently forward, and make a parade of them; or as if I wished
in this way to offer a kind of thanks to my benefactors. They need it
not, and I should be obliged to mention many other names still if this
were my intention. I speak, however, only of these two places, and of
Nys÷, which belongs to Baron Stampe, and which has become celebrated
through Thorwaldsen. Here I lived much with the great sculptor, and here
I became acquainted with one of my dearest young friends, the future
possessor of the place.

Knowledge of life in these various circles has had great influence on
me: among princes, among the nobility, and among the poorest of the
people, I have met with specimens of noble humanity. We all of us
resemble each other in that which is good and best.

Winter life in Denmark has likewise its attractions and its rich
variety. I spent also some time in the country during this season, and
made myself acquainted with its peculiar characteristics. The greatest
part of my time, however, I passed in Copenhagen. I felt myself at home
with the married sons and daughters of Collin, where a number of amiable
children were growing up. Every year strengthened the bond of friendship
between myself and the nobly-gifted composer, Hartmann: art and the
freshness of nature prospered in his house. Collin was my counsellor in
practical life, and Oersted in my literary affairs. The theatre was, if
I may so say, my club. I visited it every evening, and in this very year
I had received a place in the so-called court stalls. An author must,
as a matter of course, work himself up to it. After the first accepted
piece he obtains admission to the pit; after the second greater work,
in the stalls, where the actors have their seats; and after three larger
works, or a succession of lesser pieces, the poet is advanced to the
best places. Here were to be found Thorwaldsen, Oehlenschl ger, and
several older poets; and here also, in 1840,1 obtained a place, after I
had given in seven pieces. Whilst Thorwaldsen lived, I often, by his own
wish, sate at his side. Oehlenschl ger was also my neighbor, and in many
an evening hour, when no one dreamed of it, my soul was steeped in deep
humility, as I sate between these great spirits. The different periods
of my life passed before me; the time when I sate on the hindmost bench
in the box of the female figurantes, as well as that in which, full of
childish superstition, I knelt down there upon the stage and repeated
the Lord's Prayer, just before the very place where I now sate among
the first and the most distinguished men. At the time, perhaps, when a
countryman of mine thus thought of and passed judgment upon me,--"there
he sits, between the two great spirits, full of arrogance and pride;" he
may now perceive by this acknowledgment how unjustly he has judged me.
Humility, and prayer to God for strength to deserve my happiness, filled
my heart. May He always enable me to preserve these feelings? I enjoyed
the friendship of Thorwaldsen as well as of Oehlenschl ger, those two
most distinguished stars in the horizon of the North. I may here bring
forward their reflected glory in and around me.

There is in the character of Oehlenschl ger, when he is not seen in the
circles of the great, where he is quiet and reserved, something so open
and child-like, that no one can help becoming attached to him. As a
poet, he holds in the North a position of as great importance as Goethe
did in Germany. He is in his best works so penetrated by the spirit
of the North, that through him it has, as it were, ascended upon all
nations. In foreign countries he is not so much appreciated. The works
by which he is best known are "Correggio" and "Aladdin;" but assuredly
his masterly poem of "The Northern Gods" occupied a far higher rank: it
is our "Iliad." It possesses power, freshness--nay, any expression of
mine is poor. It is possessed of grandeur; it is the poet Oehlenschl ger
in the bloom of his soul. Hakon, Jarl, and Palnatoke will live in the
poetry of Oehlenschl ger as long as mankind endures. Denmark, Norway,
and Sweden have fully appreciated him, and have shown him that they do
so, and whenever it is asked who occupies the first place in the kingdom
of mind, the palm is always awarded to him. He is the true-born poet;
he appears always young, whilst he himself, the oldest of all, surpasses
all in the productiveness of his mind. He listened with friendly
disposition to my first lyrical outpourings; and he acknowledged
with earnestness and cordiality the poet who told the fairy-tales. My
Biographer in the Danish Pantheon brought me in contact with Oehlenschl
ger, when he said, "In our days it is becoming more and more rare for
any one, by implicitly following those inborn impulses of his soul,
which make themselves irresistibly felt, to step forward as an artist or
a poet. He is more frequently fashioned by fate and circumstances than
apparently destined by nature herself for this office. With the greater
number of our poets an early acquaintance with passion, early inward
experience, or outward circumstances, stand instead of the original vein
of nature, and this cannot in any case be more incontestably proved in
our own literature than by instancing Oehlenschl ger and Andersen. And
in this way it may be explained why the former has been so frequently
the object for the attacks of the critics, and why the latter was first
properly appreciated as a poet in foreign countries where civilization
of a longer date has already produced a disinclination for the
compulsory rule of schools, and has occasioned a reaction towards that
which is fresh and natural; whilst we Danes, on the contrary, cherish
a pious respect for the yoke of the schools and the worn-out wisdom of

Thorwaldsen, whom, as I have already said, I had become acquainted
with in Rome in the years 1833 and 1834, was expected in Denmark in the
autumn of 1838, and great festive preparations were made in consequence.
A flag was to wave upon one of the towers of Copenhagen as soon as
the vessel which brought him should come in sight. It was a national
festival. Boats decorated with flowers and flags filled the Rhede;
painters, sculptors, all had their flags with emblems; the students'
bore a Minerva, the poets' a Pegasus. It was misty weather, and the ship
was first seen when it was already close by the city, and all poured out
to meet him. The poets, who, I believe, according to the arrangement
of Heiberg, had been invited, stood by their boat; Oehlenschl ger and
Heiberg alone had not arrived. And now guns were fired from the ship,
which came to anchor, and it was to be feared that Thorwaldsen might
land before we had gone out to meet him. The wind bore the voice of
singing over to us: the festive reception had already begun.

I wished to see him, and therefore cried out to the others, "Let us put

"Without Oehlenschl ger and Heiberg?" asked some one.

"But they are not arrived, and it will be all over."

One of the poets declared that if these two men were not with us, I
should not sail under that flag, and pointed up to Pegasus.

"We will throw it in the boat," said I, and took it down from the staff;
the others now followed me, and came up just as Thorwaldsen reached
land. We met with Oehlenschl ger and Heiberg in another boat, and they
came over to us as the enthusiasm began on shore.

The people drew Thorwaldsen's carriage through the streets to his house,
where everybody who had the slightest acquaintance with him, or with
the friends of a friend of his, thronged around him. In the evening the
artists gave him a serenade, and the blaze of the torches illumined
the garden under the large trees, there was an exultation and joy which
really and truly was felt. Young and old hastened through the open
doors, and the joyful old man clasped those whom he knew to his breast,
gave them his kiss, and pressed their hands. There was a glory round
Thorwaldsen which kept me timidly back: my heart beat for joy of seeing
him who had met me when abroad with kindness and consolation, who
had pressed me to his heart, and had said that we must always remain
friends. But here in this jubilant crowd, where thousands noticed
every movement of his, where I too by all these should be observed and
criticised--yes, criticised as a vain man who now only wished to show
that he too was acquainted with Thorwaldsen, and that this great man was
kind and friendly towards him--here, in this dense crowd, I drew myself
back, and avoided being recognized by him. Some days afterwards, and
early in the morning, I went to call upon him, and found him as a friend
who had wondered at not having seen me earlier.

In honor of Thorwaldsen a musical-poetic academy was established, and
the poets, who were invited to do so by Heiberg, wrote and read each
one a poem in praise of him who had returned home. I wrote of Jason who
fetched the golden fleece--that is to say, Jason-Thorwaldsen, who went
forth to win golden art. A great dinner and a ball closed the festival,
in which, for the first time in Denmark, popular life and a subject of
great interest in the realms of art were made public.

From this evening I saw Thorwaldsen almost daily in company or in his
studio: I often passed several weeks together with him at Nys÷, where
he seemed to have firmly taken root, and where the greater number of his
works, executed in Denmark, had their origin. He was of a healthful and
simple disposition of mind, not without humor, and, therefore, he was
extremely attached to Holberg the poet: he did not at all enter into the
troubles and the disruptions of the world.

One morning at Nys÷--at the time when he was working at his own
statue--I entered his work-room and bade him good morning; he appeared
as if he did not wish to notice me, and I stole softly away again.
At breakfast he was very parsimonious in the use of words, and when
somebody asked him to say something at all events, he replied in his dry

"I have said more during this morning than in many whole days, but
nobody heard me. There I stood, and fancied that Andersen was behind
me, for he came, and said good morning--so I told him a long story about
myself and Byron. I thought that he might give one word in reply, and
turned myself round; and there had I been standing a whole hour and
chattering aloud to the bare walls."

We all of us besought him to let us hear the whole story yet once more;
but we had it now very short.

"Oh, that was in Rome," said he, "when I was about to make Byron's
statue; he placed himself just opposite to me, and began immediately to
assume quite another countenance to what was customary to him. 'Will not
you sit still?' said I; 'but you must not make these faces.' 'It is
my expression,' said Byron. 'Indeed?' said I, and then I made him as
I wished, and everybody said, when it was finished, that I had hit the
likeness. When Byron, however, saw it, he said, 'It does not resemble me
at all; I look more unhappy.'"

"He was, above all things, so desirous of looking extremely unhappy,"
added Thorwaldsen, with a comic expression.

It afforded the great sculptor pleasure to listen to music after dinner
with half-shut eyes, and it was his greatest delight when in the evening
the game of lotto began, which the whole neighborhood of Nys÷ was
obliged to learn; they only played for glass pieces, and on this account
I am able to relate a peculiar characteristic of this otherwise great
man--that he played with the greatest interest on purpose to win. He
would espouse with warmth and vehemence the part of those from whom
he believed that he had received an injustice; he opposed himself to
unfairness and raillery, even against the lady of the house, who for the
rest had the most childlike sentiments towards him, and who had no
other thought than how to make everything most agreeable to him. In his
company I wrote several of my tales for children--for example, "Ole Luck
Oin," ("Ole Shut Eye,") to which he listened with pleasure and interest.
Often in the twilight, when the family circle sate in the open garden
parlor, Thorwaldsen would come softly behind me, and, clapping me on the
shoulder, would ask, "Shall we little ones hear any tales tonight?"

In his own peculiarly natural manner he bestowed the most bountiful
praise on my fictions, for their truth; it delighted him to hear the
same stories over and over again. Often, during his most glorious works,
would he stand with laughing countenance, and listen to the stories of
the Top and the Ball, and the Ugly Duckling. I possess a certain talent
of improvising in my native tongue little poems and songs. This talent
amused Thorwaldsen very much; and as he had modelled, at Nys÷, Holberg's
portrait in clay, I was commissioned to make a poem for his work, and he
received, therefore, the following impromptu:--

  "No more shall Holberg live," by Death was said,
    "I crush the clay, his soul's bonds heretofore."
  "And from the formless clay, the cold, the dead,"
    Cried Thorwaldsen, "shall Holberg live once more."

One morning, when he had just modelled in clay his great bas-relief of
the Procession to Golgotha, I entered his study.

"Tell me," said he, "does it seem to you that I have dressed Pilate

"You must not say anything to him," said the Baroness, who was always
with him: "it is right; it is excellent; go away with you!"

Thorwaldsen repeated his question.

"Well, then," said I, "as you ask me, I must confess that it really does
appear to me as if Pilate were dressed rather as an Egyptian than as a

"It seems to me so too," said Thorwaldsen, seizing the clay with his
hand, and destroying the figure.

"Now you are guilty of his having annihilated an immortal work,"
exclaimed the Baroness to me with warmth.

"Then we can make a new immortal work," said he, in a cheerful humor,
and modelled Pilate as he now remains in the bas-relief in the Ladies'
Church in Copenhagen.

His last birth-day was celebrated there in the country. I had written a
merry little song, and it was hardly dry on the paper, when we sang
it, in the early morning, before his door, accompanied by the music
of jingling fire-irons, gongs, and bottles rubbed against a basket.
Thorwaldsen himself, in his morning gown and slippers, opened his door,
and danced round his chamber; swung round his Raphael's cap, and joined
in the chorus. There was life and mirth in the strong old man.

On the last day of his life I sate by him at dinner; he was unusually
good-humored; repeated several witticisms which he had just read in the
Corsair, a well-known Copenhagen newspaper, and spoke of the journey
which he should undertake to Italy in the summer. After this we parted;
he went to the theatre, and I home.

On the following morning the waiter at the hotel where I lived said,
"that it was a very remarkable thing about Thorwaldsen--that he had died

"Thorwaldsen!" exclaimed I; "he is not dead, I dined with him

"People say that he died last evening at the theatre," returned the
waiter. I fancied that he might be taken ill; but still I felt a strange
anxiety, and hastened immediately over to his house. There lay his
corpse stretched out on the bed; the chamber was filled with strangers;
the floor wet with melted snow; the air stifling; no one said a word:
the Baroness Stampe sate on the bed and wept bitterly. I stood trembling
and deeply agitated.

A farewell hymn, which I wrote, and to which Hartmann composed the
music, was sung by Danish students over his coffin.


In the summer of 1842, I wrote a little piece for the summer theatre,
called, "The Bird in the Pear-tree," in which several scenes were acted
up in the pear-tree. I had called it a dramatic trifle, in order that
no one might expect either a great work or one of a very elaborate
character. It was a little sketch, which, after being performed a few
times, was received with so much applause, that the directors of the
theatre accepted it; nay, even Mrs. Heiberg, the favorite of the public,
desired to take a part in it. People had amused themselves; had thought
the selection of the music excellent. I knew that the piece had stood
its rehearsal--and then suddenly it was hissed. Some young men, who gave
the word to hiss, had said to some others, who inquired from them
their reasons for doing so, that the trifle had too much luck, and then
Andersen would be getting too mettlesome.

I was not, on this evening, at the theatre myself, and had not the least
idea of what was going on. On the following I went to the house of one
of my friends. I had head-ache, and was looking very grave. The lady of
the house met me with a sympathizing manner, took my hand, and said, "Is
it really worth while to take it so much to heart? There were only two
who hissed, the whole house beside took your part."

"Hissed! My part! Have I been hissed?" exclaimed I.

It was quite comic; one person assured me that this hissing had been a
triumph for me; everybody had joined in acclamation, and "there was only
one who hissed."

After this, another person came, and I asked him of the number of those
who hissed. "Two," said he. The next person said "three," and said
positively there were no more. One of my most veracious friends now made
his appearance, and I asked him upon his conscience, how many he had
heard; he laid his hand upon his heart, and said that, at the very
highest, they were five.

"No," said I, "now I will ask nobody more; the number grows just as with
Falstaff; here stands one who asserts that there was only one person who

Shocked, and yet inclined to set it all right again, he replied, "Yes,
that is possible, but then it was a strong, powerful hiss."

By my last works, and through a rational economy, I had now saved a
small sum of money, which I destined to the purposes of a new journey
to Paris, where I arrived in the winter of 1843, by way of D sseldorf,
through Belgium.

Marmier had already, in the _R vue de Paris_, written an article on me,
_La Vie d'un Po te_. He had also translated several of my poems into
French, and had actually honored me with a poem which is printed in the
above-named _R vue_. My name had thus reached, like a sound, the ears of
some persons in the literary world, and I here met with a surprisingly
friendly reception.

At Victor Hugo's invitation, I saw his abused _Burggraves_. Mr. and Mrs.
Ancelot opened their house to me, and there I met Martinez della Rosa
and other remarkable men of these times. Lamart ne seemed to me, in his
domestic, and in his whole personal appearance, as the prince of them
all. On my apologizing because I spoke such bad French, he replied, that
he was to blame, because he did not understand the northern languages,
in which, as he had discovered in late years, there existed a fresh and
vigorous literature, and where the poetical ground was so peculiar that
you had only to stoop down to find an old golden horn. He asked about
the Trollh tta canal, and avowed a wish to visit Denmark and Stockholm.
He recollected also our now reigning king, to whom, when as prince
he was in Castellamare, he had paid his respects; besides this, he
exhibited for a Frenchman, an extraordinary acquaintance with names and
places in Denmark. On my departure he wrote a little poem for me, which
I preserve amongst my dearest relics.

I generally found the jovial Alexander Dumas in bed, even long after
mid-day: here he lay, with paper, pen, and ink, and wrote his newest
drama. I found him thus one day; he nodded kindly to me, and said, "Sit
down a minute; I have just now a visit from my muse; she will be going
directly." He wrote on; spoke aloud; shouted a _viva!_ sprang out of
bed, and said, "The third act is finished!"

One evening he conducted me round into the various theatres, that I
might see the life behind the scenes. We wandered about, arm in arm,
along the gay Boulevard.

I also have to thank him for my acquaintance with Rachel. I had not seen
her act, when Alexander Dumas asked me whether I had the desire to make
her acquaintance. One evening, when she was to come out as Phedra he led
me to the stage of the Th atre Fran ais. The Representation had begun,
and behind the scenes, where a folding screen had formed a sort of room,
in which stood a table with refreshments, and a few ottomans, sate the
young girl who, as an author has said, understands how to chisel living
statues out of Racine's and Corneille's blocks of marble. She was thin
and slenderly formed, and looked very young. She looked to me there,
and more particularly so afterwards in her own house, as an image of
mourning; as a young girl who has just wept out her sorrow, and will
now let her thoughts repose in quiet. She accosted us kindly in a deep
powerful voice. In the course of conversation with Dumas, she forgot
me. I stood there quite superfluous. Dumas observed it, said something
handsome of me, and on that I ventured to take part in the discourse,
although I had a depressing feeling that I stood before those who
perhaps spoke the most beautiful French in all France. I said that I
truly had seen much that was glorious and interesting, but that I
had never yet seen a Rachel, and that on her account especially had I
devoted the profits of my last work to a journey to Paris; and as, in
conclusion, I added an apology on account of my French, she smiled and
said, "When you say anything so polite as that which you have just said
to me, to a Frenchwoman, she will always think that you speak well."

When I told her that her fame had resounded to the North, she declared
that it was her intention to go to Petersburg and Copenhagen: "and when
I come to your city", she said, "you must be my defender, as you are the
only one there whom I know; and in order that we may become acquainted,
and as you, as you say, are come to Paris especially on my account,
we must see each other frequently. You will be welcome to me. I see
my friends at my house every Thursday. But duty calls," said she, and
offering us her hand, she nodded kindly, and then stood a few paces from
us on the stage, taller, quite different, and with the expression of the
tragic muse herself. Joyous acclamations ascended to where we sat.

As a Northlander I cannot accustom myself to the French mode of acting
tragedy. Rachel plays in this same style, but in her it appears to be
nature itself; it is as if all the others strove to imitate her. She is
herself the French tragic muse, the others are only poor human beings.
When Rachel plays people fancy that all tragedy must be acted in this
manner. It is in her truth and nature, but under another revelation to
that with which we are acquainted in the north.

At her house everything is rich and magnificent, perhaps too _recherch
_. The innermost room was blue-green, with shaded lamps and statuettes
of French authors. In the salon, properly speaking, the color which
prevailed principally in the carpets, curtains, and bookcases
was crimson. She herself was dressed in black, probably as she is
represented in the well-known English steel engraving of her. Her
guests consisted of gentlemen, for the greater part artists and men
of learning. I also heard a few titles amongst them. Richly apparelled
servants announced the names of the arrivals; tea was drunk and
refreshments handed round, more in the German than the French style.

Victor Hugo had told me that he found she understood the German
language. I asked her, and she replied in German, "ich kann es lesen;
ich bin ja in Lothringen geboren; ich habe deutsche B cher, sehn Sie
hier!" and she showed me Grillparzer's "Sappho," and then immediately
continued the conversation in French. She expressed her pleasure in
acting the part of Sappho, and then spoke of Schiller's "Maria Stuart,"
which character she has personated in a French version of that play. I
saw her in this part, and she gave the last act especially with such a
composure and tragic feeling, that she might have been one of the best
of German actresses; but it was precisely in this very act that the
French liked her least.

"My countrymen," said she, "are not accustomed to this manner, and in
this manner alone can the part be given. No one should be raving when
the heart is almost broken with sorrow, and when he is about to take an
everlasting farewell of his friends."

Her drawing-room was, for the most part, decorated with books which were
splendidly bound and arranged in handsome book-cases behind glass. A
painting hung on the wall, which represented the interior of the
theatre in London, where she stood forward on the stage, and flowers
and garlands were thrown to her across the orchestra. Below this picture
hung a pretty little book-shelf, holding what I call "the high nobility
among the poets,"--Goethe, Schiller, Calderon, Shakspeare, &c.

She asked me many questions respecting Germany and Denmark, art, and the
theatre; and she encouraged me with a kind smile around her grave mouth,
when I stumbled in French and stopped for a moment to collect myself,
that I might not stick quite fast.

"Only speak," said she. "It is true that you do not speak French well.
I have heard many foreigners speak my native language better; but their
conversation has not been nearly as interesting as yours. I understand
the sense of your words perfectly, and that is the principal thing which
interests me in you."

The last time we parted she wrote the following words in my album:
"L'art c'est le vrai! J'esp re que cet aphorisme ne semblera pas
paradoxal un crivain si distingu comme M. Andersen."

I perceived amiability of character in Alfred de Vigny. He has married
an English lady, and that which is best in both nations seemed to unite
in his house. The last evening which I spent in Paris, he himself, who
is possessed of intellectual status and worldly wealth, came almost at
midnight to my lodging in the Rue Richelieu, ascended the many steps,
and brought me his works under his arm. So much cordiality beamed in
his eyes and he seemed to be so full of kindness towards me, that I felt
affected by our separation.

I also became acquainted with the sculptor David. There was a something
in his demeanor and in his straightforward manner that reminded me of
Thorwaldsen and Bissen, especially of the latter. We did not meet till
towards the conclusion of my residence in Paris. He lamented it, and
said that he would execute a bust of me if I would remain there longer.

When I said, "But you know nothing of me as a poet, and cannot tell
whether I deserve it or not," he looked earnestly in my face, clapped
me on the shoulder, and said, "I have, however, read you yourself before
your books. You are a poet."

At the Countess ----'s, where I met with Balzac, I saw an old lady,
the expression of whose countenance attracted my attention. There was
something so animated, so cordial in it, and everybody gathered about
her. The Countess introduced me to her, and I heard that she was Madame
Reybaud, the authoress of Les Epaves, the little story which I had made
use of for my little drama of The Mulatto. I told her all about it, and
of the representation of the piece, which interested her so much, that
she became from this evening my especial protectress. We went out
one evening together and exchanged ideas. She corrected my French and
allowed me to repeat what did not appear correct to her. She is a lady
of rich mental endowments, with a clear insight into the world, and she
showed maternal kindness towards me.

I also again met with Heine. He had married since I was last here. I
found him in indifferent health; but full of energy, and so friendly
and so natural in his behavior towards me, that I felt no timidity in
exhibiting myself to him as I was. One day he had been relating to his
wife my story of the Constant Tin Soldier, and, whilst he said that I
was the author of this story, he introduced me to her. She was a lively,
pretty young lady. A troop of children, who, as Heine says, belonged to
a neighbor, played about in their room. We two played with them whilst
Heine copied out one of his last poems for me.

I perceived in him no pain-giving, sarcastic smile; I only heard the
pulsation of a German heart, which is always perceptible in the songs,
and which _must_ live.

Through the means of the many people I was acquainted with here, among
whom I might enumerate many others, as, for instance, Kalkbrenner,
Gathy, &c., my residence in Paris was made very cheerful and rich in
pleasure. I did not feel myself like a stranger there: I met with a
friendly reception among the greatest and best. It was like a payment
by anticipation of the talent which was in me, and through which they
expected that I would some time prove them not to have been mistaken.

Whilst I was in Paris, I received from Germany, where already several of
my works were translated and read, a delightful and encouraging proof
of friendship. A German family, one of the most highly cultivated and
amiable with whom I am acquainted, had read my writings with interest,
especially the little biographical sketch prefixed to Only a Fiddler,
and felt the heartiest goodwill towards me, with whom they were then not
personally acquainted. They wrote to me, expressed their thanks for my
works and the pleasure they had derived from them, and offered me a kind
welcome to their house if I would visit it on my return home. There was
a something extremely cordial and natural in this letter, which was
the first that I received of this kind in Paris, and it also formed a
remarkable contrast to that which was sent to me from my native land in
the year 1833, when I was here for the first time.

In this way I found myself, through my writings, adopted, as it were,
into a family to which since then I gladly betake myself, and where I
know that it is not only as the poet, but as the man, that I am beloved.
In how many instances have I not experienced the same kindness in
foreign countries! I will mention one for the sake of its peculiarity.

There lived in Saxony a wealthy and benevolent family; the lady of the
house read my romance of Only a Fiddler, and the impression of this book
was such that she vowed that, if ever, in the course of her life, she
should meet with a poor child which was possessed of great musical
talents, she would not allow it to perish as the poor Fiddler had done.
A musician who had heard her say this, brought to her soon after, not
one, but two poor boys, assuring her of their talent, and reminding
her of her promise. She kept her word: both boys were received into
her house, were educated by her, and are now in the Conservatorium; the
youngest of them played before me, and I saw that his countenance was
happy and joyful. The same thing perhaps might have happened; the same
excellent lady might have befriended these children without my book
having been written: but notwithstanding this, my book is now connected
with this as a link in the chain.

On my return home from Paris, I went along the Rhine; I knew that the
poet Frieligrath, to whom the King of Prussia had given a pension, was
residing in one of the Rhine towns. The picturesque character of his
poems had delighted me extremely, and I wished to talk with him. I
stopped at several towns on the Rhine, and inquired after him. In St.
Goar, I was shown the house in which he lived. I found him sitting
at his writing table, and he appeared annoyed at being disturbed by a
stranger. I did not mention my name; but merely said that I could not
pass St. Goar without paying my respects to the poet Frieligrath.

"That is very kind of you," said he, in a very cold tone; and then asked
who I was.

"We have both of us one and the same friend, Chamisso!" replied I, and
at these words he leapt up exultantly.

"You are then Andersen!" he exclaimed; threw his arms around my neck,
and his honest eyes beamed with joy.

"Now you will stop several days here," said he. I told him that I could
only stay a couple of hours, because I was travelling with some of my
countrymen who were waiting for me.

"You have a great many friends in little St. Goar," said he; "it is but
a short time since I read aloud your novel of O. T. to a large circle;
one of these friends I must, at all events, fetch here, and you must
also see my wife. Yes, indeed, you do not know that you had something to
do in our being married."

He then related to me how my novel, Only a Fiddler, had caused them to
exchange letters, and then led to their acquaintance, which acquaintance
had ended in their being a married couple. He called her, mentioned to
her my name, and I was regarded as an old friend. Such moments as these
are a blessing; a mercy of God, a happiness--and how many such, how
various, have I not enjoyed!

I relate all these, to me, joyful occurrences; they are facts in
my life: I relate them, as I formerly have related that which was
miserable, humiliating, and depressing; and if I have done so, in
the spirit which operated in my soul, it will not be called pride or
vanity;--neither of them would assuredly be the proper name for it. But
people may perhaps ask at home, Has Andersen then never been attacked in
foreign countries? I must reply,--no!

No regular attack has been made upon me, at least they have never at
home called my attention to any such, and therefore there certainly
cannot have been anything of the kind;--with the exception of one which
made its appearance in Germany, but which originated in Denmark, at the
very moment when I was in Paris.

A certain Mr. Boas made a journey at that time through Scandinavia, and
wrote a book on the subject. In this he gave a sort of survey of
Danish literature, which he also published in the journal called Die
Grenzboten; in this I was very severely handled as a man and as a poet.
Several other Danish poets also, as for instance, Christian Winter, have
an equally great right to complain. Mr. Boas had drawn his information
out of the miserable gossip of every-day life; his work excited
attention in Copenhagen, and nobody there would allow themselves to be
considered as his informants; nay even Holst the poet, who, as may be
seen from the work, travelled with him through Sweden, and had received
him at his house in Copenhagen, on this occasion published, in one of
the most widely circulated of our papers, a declaration that he was in
no way connected with Mr. Boas.

Mr. Boas had in Copenhagen attached himself to a particular clique
consisting of a few young men; he had heard them full of lively spirits,
talking during the day, of the Danish poets and their writings; he had
then gone home, written down what he had heard and afterwards published
it in his work. This was, to use the mildest term, inconsiderate. That
my Improvisatore and Only a Fiddler did not please him, is a matter of
taste, and to that I must submit myself. But when he, before the whole
of Germany, where probably people will presume that what he has written
is true, if he declare it to be, as is the case, the universal judgment
against me in my native land; when he, I say, declared me before the
whole of Germany, to be the most haughty of men, he inflicts upon me a
deeper wound than he perhaps imagined. He conveyed the voice of a party,
formerly hostile to me, into foreign countries. Nor is he true even in
that which he represents; he gives circumstances as facts, which never
took place.

In Denmark what he has written could not injure me, and many have
declared themselves afraid of coming into contact with any one, who
printed everything which he heard. His book was read in Germany, the
public of which is now also mine; and I believe, therefore, that I may
here say how faulty is his view of Danish literature and Danish poets;
in what manner his book was received in my native land and that people
there know in what way it was put together. But after I have expressed
myself thus on this subject I will gladly offer Mr. Boas my hand; and
if, in his next visit to Denmark, no other poet will receive him, I will
do my utmost for him; I know that he will not be able to judge me more
severely when we know each other, than when we knew each other not. His
judgment would also have been quite of another character had he come to
Denmark but one year later; things changed very much in a year's time.
Then the tide had turned in my favor; I then had published my new
children's stories, of which from that moment to the present there
prevailed, through the whole of my native land, but one unchanging
honorable opinion. When the edition of my collection of stories came out
at Christmas 1843, the reaction began; acknowledgment of my merits were
made, and favor shown me in Denmark, and from that time I have no cause
for complaint. I have obtained and I obtain in my own land that which I
deserve, nay perhaps, much more.

I will now turn to those little stories which in Denmark have been
placed by every one, without any hesitation, higher than anything else I
had hitherto written.

In the year 1835, some months after I published the Improvisatore, I
brought out my first volume of Stories for Children, [Footnote: I find
it very difficult to give a correct translation of the original word.
The Danish is _Eventyr_, equivalent to the German _Abentheur_, or
adventure; but adventures give in English a very different idea to
this class of stories. The German word _M rchen,_ gives the meaning
completely, and this we may English by _fairy tale_ or _legend,_ but
then neither of these words are fully correct with regard to Andersen's
stories. In my translation of his "Eventyr fortalte for Born," I gave as
an equivalent title, "Wonderful Stories for Children," and perhaps this
near as I could come.--M. H.] which at that time was not so very much
thought of. One monthly critical journal even complained that a young
author who had just published a work like the Improvisatore, should
immediately come out with anything so childish as the tales. I reaped a
harvest of blame, precisely where people ought to have acknowledged the
advantage of my mind producing something in a new direction. Several of
my friends, whose judgment was of value to me, counselled me entirely to
abstain from writing tales, as these were a something for which I had
no talent. Others were of opinion that I had better, first of all, study
the French fairy tale. I would willingly have discontinued writing them,
but they forced themselves from me.

In the volume which I first published, I had, like Mus us, but in my own
manner, related old stories, which I had heard as a child. The volume
concluded with one which was original, and which seemed to have given
the greatest pleasure, although it bore a tolerably near affinity to a
story of Hoffman's. In my increasing disposition for children's stories,
I therefore followed my own impulse, and invented them mostly myself. In
the following year a new volume came out, and soon after that a third,
in which the longest story, The Little Mermaid, was my own invention.
This story, in an especial manner, created an interest which was
only increased by the following volumes. One of these came out every
Christmas, and before long no Christmas tree could exist without my

Some of our first comic actors made the attempt of relating my little
stories from the stage; it was a complete change from the declamatory
poetry which had been heard to satiety. The Constant Tin Soldier,
therefore, the Swineherd, and the Top and Ball, were told from the Royal
stage, and from those of private theatres, and were well received. In
order that the reader might be placed in the proper point of view, with
regard to the manner in which I told the stories, I had called my first
volume Stories told for Children. I had written my narrative down upon
paper, exactly in the language, and with the expressions in which I had
myself related them, by word of mouth, to the little ones, and I had
arrived at the conviction that people of different ages were equally
amused with them. The children made themselves merry for the most part
over what might be called the actors, older people, on the contrary,
were interested in the deeper meaning. The stories furnished reading for
children and grown people, and that assuredly is a difficult task for
those who will write children's stories. They met with open doors and
open hearts in Denmark; everybody read them. I now removed the words
"told for children," from my title, and published three volumes of "New
Stories," all of which were of my own invention, and which were received
in my own country with the greatest favor. I could not wish it greater;
I felt a real anxiety in consequence, a fear of not being able to
justify afterwards such an honorable award of praise.

A refreshing sunshine streamed into my heart; I felt courage and joy,
and was filled, with a living desire of still more and more developing
my powers in this direction,--of studying more thoroughly this class
of writing, and of observing still more attentively the rich wells of
nature out of which I must create it. If attention be paid to the order
in which my stories are written, it certainly will be seen that there
is in them a gradual progression, a clearer working out of the idea, a
greater discretion in the use of agency, and, if I may so speak, a more
healthy tone and a more natural freshness may be perceived.

At this period of my life, I made an acquaintance which was of great
moral and intellectual importance to me. I have already spoken of
several persons and public characters who have had influence on me as
the poet; but none of these have had more, nor in a nobler sense of the
word, than the lady to whom I here turn myself; she, through whom I,
at the same time, was enabled to forget my own individual self, to feel
that which is holy in art, and to become acquainted with the command
which God has given to genius.

I now turn back to the year 1840. One day in the hotel in which I lived
in Copenhagen, I saw the name of Jenny Lind among those of the strangers
from Sweden. I was aware at that time that she was the first singer in
Stockholm. I had been that same year, in this neighbor country, and had
there met with honor and kindness: I thought, therefore, that it would
not be unbecoming in me to pay a visit to the young artist. She was, at
this time, entirely unknown out of Sweden, so that I was convinced that,
even in Copenhagen, her name was known only by few. She received me very
courteously, but yet distantly, almost coldly. She was, as she said,
on a journey with her father to South Sweden, and was come over to
Copenhagen for a few days in order that she might see this city. We
again parted distantly, and I had the impression of a very ordinary
character which soon passed away from my mind.

In the autumn of 1843, Jenny Lind came again to Copenhagen. One of
my friends, our clever ballet-master, Bournonville, who has married a
Swedish lady, a friend of Jenny Lind, informed me of her arrival here
and told me that she remembered me very kindly, and that now she had
read my writings. He entreated me to go with him to her, and to employ
all my persuasive art to induce her to take a few parts at the Theatre
Royal; I should, he said, be then quite enchanted with what I should

I was not now received as a stranger; she cordially extended to me her
hand, and spoke of my writings and of Miss Fredrika Bremer, who also
was her affectionate friend. The conversation was soon turned to her
appearance in Copenhagen, and of this Jenny Lind declared that she stood
in fear.

"I have never made my appearance," said she, "out of Sweden; everybody
in my native land is so affectionate and kind to me, and if I made my
appearance in Copenhagen and should be hissed!--I dare not venture on

I said, that I, it was true, could not pass judgment on her singing,
because I had never heard it, neither did I know how she acted, but
nevertheless, I was convinced that such was the disposition at this
moment in Copenhagen, that only a moderate voice and some knowledge of
acting would be successful; I believed that she might safely venture.

Bournonville's persuasion obtained for the Copenhageners the greatest
enjoyment which they ever had.

Jenny Lind made her first appearance among them as Alice in Robert
le Diable--it was like a new revelation in the realms of art, the
youthfully fresh voice forced itself into every heart; here reigned
truth and nature; everything was full of meaning and intelligence. At
one concert Jenny Lind sang her Swedish songs; there was something
so peculiar in this, so bewitching; people thought nothing about
the concert room; the popular melodies uttered by a being so purely
feminine, and bearing the universal stamp of genius, exercised their
omnipotent sway--the whole of Copenhagen was in raptures. Jenny Lind was
the first singer to whom the Danish students gave a serenade: torches
blazed around the hospitable villa where the serenade was given: she
expressed her thanks by again singing some Swedish songs, and I then saw
her hasten into the darkest corner and weep for emotion.

"Yes, yes," said she, "I will exert myself; I will endeavor, I will be
better qualified than I am when I again come to Copenhagen."

On the stage, she was the great artiste, who rose above all those around
her; at home, in her own chamber, a sensitive young girl with all the
humility and piety of a child.

Her appearance in Copenhagen made an epoch in the history of our opera;
it showed me art in its sanctity--I had beheld one of its vestals. She
journeyed back to Stockholm, and from there Fredrika Bremer wrote to
me:--"With regard to Jenny Lind as a singer, we are both of us perfectly
agreed; she stands as high as any artist of our time can stand; but as
yet you do not know her in her full greatness. Speak to her about her
art, and you will wonder at the expansion of her mind, and will see her
countenance beaming with inspiration. Converse then with her of God, and
of the holiness of religion, and you will see tears in those innocent
eyes; she is great as an artist, but she is still greater in her pure
human existence!"

In the following year I was in Berlin; the conversation with Meyerbeer
turned upon Jenny Lind; he had heard her sing the Swedish songs, and was
transported by them.

"But how does she act?" asked he.

I spoke in raptures of her acting, and gave him at the same time some
idea of her representation of Alice. He said to me that perhaps it might
be possible for him to determine her to come to Berlin.

It is sufficiently well known that she made her appearance there, threw
every one into astonishment and delight, and won for herself in Germany
a European name. Last autumn she came again to Copenhagen, and the
enthusiasm was incredible; the glory of renown makes genius perceptible
to every one. People bivouacked regularly before the theatre, to obtain
a ticket. Jenny Lind appeared still greater than ever in her art,
because they had an opportunity of seeing her in many and such extremely
different parts. Her Norma is plastic; every attitude might serve as the
most beautiful model to a sculptor, and yet people felt that these
were the inspiration of the moment, and had not been studied before
the glass; Norma is no raving Italian; she is the suffering, sorrowing
woman--the woman possessed of a heart to sacrifice herself for an
unfortunate rival--the woman to whom, in the violence of the moment,
the thought may suggest itself of murdering the children of a faithless
lover, but who is immediately disarmed when she gazes into the eyes of
the innocent ones.

"Norma, thou holy priestess," sings the chorus, and Jenny Lind has
comprehended and shows to us this holy priestess in the aria, _Casta
diva_. In Copenhagen she sang all her parts in Swedish, and the other
singers sang theirs in Danish, and the two kindred languages mingled
very beautifully together; there was no jarring; even in the Daughter
of the Regiment where there is a deal of dialogue, the Swedish had
something agreeable--and what acting! nay, the word itself is a
contradiction--it was nature; anything as true never before appeared on
the stage. She shows us perfectly the true child of nature grown up in
the camp, but an inborn nobility pervades every movement. The Daughter
of the Regiment and the Somnambule are certainly Jenny Land's most
unsurpassable parts; no second can take their places in these beside
her. People laugh,--they cry; it does them as much good as going to
church; they become better for it. People feel that God is in art; and
where God stands before us face to face there is a holy church.

"There will not in a whole century," said Mendelssohn, speaking to me
of Jenny Lind, "be born another being so gifted as she;" and his words
expressed my full conviction; one feels as she makes her appearance on
the stage, that she is a pure vessel, from which a holy draught will be
presented to us.

There is not anything which can lessen the impression which Jenny Lind's
greatness on the stage makes, except her own personal character at home.
An intelligent and child-like disposition exercises here its astonishing
power; she is happy; belonging, as it were, no longer to the world, a
peaceful, quiet home, is the object of her thoughts--and yet she loves
art with her whole soul, and feels her vocation in it. A noble, pious
disposition like hers cannot be spoiled by homage. On one occasion only
did I hear her express her joy in her talent and her self-consciousness.
It was during her last residence in Copenhagen. Almost every evening
she appeared either in the opera or at concerts; every hour was in
requisition. She heard of a society, the object of which was, to assist
unfortunate children, and to take them out of the hands of their parents
by whom they were misused, and compelled either to beg or steal, and
to place them in other and better circumstances. Benevolent people
subscribed annually a small sum each for their support, nevertheless the
means for this excellent purpose were small.

"But have I not still a disengaged evening?" said she; "let me give a
night's performance for the benefit of these poor children; but we will
have double prices!"

Such a performance was given, and returned large proceeds; when she was
informed of this, and, that by this means, a number of poor children
would be benefited for several years, her countenance beamed, and the
tears filled her eyes.

"It is however beautiful," said she, "that I can sing so!"

I value her with the whole feeling of a brother, and I regard myself
as happy that I know and understand such a spirit. God give to her that
peace, that quiet happiness which she wishes for herself!

Through Jenny Lind I first became sensible of the holiness there is in
art; through her I learned that one must forget oneself in the service
of the Supreme. No books, no men have had a better or a more ennobling
influence on me as the poet, than Jenny Lind, and I therefore have
spoken of her so long and so warmly here.

I have made the happy discovery by experience, that inasmuch as art
and life are more clearly understood by me, so much more sunshine from
without has streamed into my soul. What blessings have not compensated
me for the former dark days! Repose and certainty have forced themselves
into my heart. Such repose can easily unite itself with the changing
life of travel; I feel myself everywhere at home, attach myself easily
to people, and they give me in return confidence and cordiality.

In the summer of 1844 I once more visited North Germany. An intellectual
and amiable family in Oldenburg had invited me in the most friendly
manner to spend some time at their house. Count von Rantzau-Breitenburg
repeated also in his letters how welcome I should be to him. I set out
on the journey, and this journey was, if not one of my longest, still
one of my most interesting.

I saw the rich marsh-land in its summer luxuriance, and made with
Rantzau several interesting little excursions. Breitenburg lies in the
middle of woods on the river St÷r; the steam-voyage to Hamburg gives
animation to the little river; the situation is picturesque, and life
in the castle itself is comfortable and pleasant. I could devote myself
perfectly to reading and poetry, because I was just as free as the
bird in the air, and I was as much cared for as if I had been a beloved
relation of the family. Alas it was the last time that I came hither;
Count Rantzau had, even then, a presentiment of his approaching death.
One day we met in the garden; he seized my hand, pressed it warmly,
expressed his pleasure in my talents being acknowledged abroad, and his
friendship for me, adding, in conclusion, "Yes, my dear young friend,
God only knows but I have the firm belief that this year is the last
time when we two shall meet here; my days will soon have run out their
full course." He looked at me with so grave an expression, that it
touched my heart deeply, but I knew not what to say. We were near to the
chapel; he opened a little gate between some thick hedges, and we stood
in a little garden, in which was a turfed grave and a seat beside it.

"Here you will find me, when you come the next time to Breitenburg,"
said he, and his sorrowful words were true. He died the following winter
in Wiesbaden. I lost in him a friend, a protector, a noble excellent

When I, on the first occasion, went to Germany, I visited the Hartz and
the Saxon Switzerland. Goethe was still living. It was my most heartfelt
wish to see him. It was not far from the Hartz to Weimar, but I had no
letters of introduction to him, and, at that time, not one line of my
writings was translated. Many persons had described Goethe to me as a
very proud man, and the question arose whether indeed he would receive
me. I doubted it, and determined not to go to Weimar until I should have
written some work which would convey my name to Germany. I succeeded in
this, but alas, Goethe was already dead.

I had made the acquaintance of his daughter-in-law Mrs. von Goethe, born
at Pogwitsch, at the house of Mendelssohn Bartholdy, in Leipsig, on my
return from Constantinople; this _spirituelle_ lady received me with
much kindness. She told me that her son Walter had been my friend for
a long time; that as a boy he had made a whole play out of my
Improvisatore; that this piece had been performed in Goethe's house;
and lastly, that Walter, had once wished to go to Copenhagen to make my
acquaintance. I thus had now friends in Weimar.

An extraordinary desire impelled me to see this city where Goethe,
Schiller, Wieland, and Herder had lived, and from which so much light
had streamed forth over the world. I approached that land which had
been rendered sacred by Luther, by the strife of the Minnesingers on the
Wartburg, and by the memory of many noble and great events.

On the 24th of June, the birthday of the Grand Duke, I arrived a
stranger in the friendly town. Everything indicated the festivity which
was then going forward, and the young prince was received with great
rejoicing in the theatre, where a new opera was being given. I did not
think how firmly, the most glorious and the best of all those whom I
here saw around me, would grow into my heart; how many of my future
friends sat around me here--how dear this city would become to me--in
Germany my second home. I was invited by Goethe's worthy friend, the
excellent Chancellor Muller, and I met with the most cordial reception
from him. By accident I here met on my first call, with the Kammerherr
Beaulieu de Marconnay, whom I had known in Oldenburg; he was now placed
in Weimar. He invited me to remove to his house. In the course of a few
minutes I was his stationary guest, and I felt "it is good to be here."

There are people whom it only requires a few days to know and to love; I
won in Beaulieu, in these few days, a friend, as I believe, for my whole
life. He introduced me into the family circle, the amiable chancellor
received me equally cordially; and I who had, on my arrival, fancied
myself quite forlorn, because Mrs. von Goethe and her son Walter were in
Vienna, was now known in Weimar, and well received in all its circles.

The reigning Grand Duke and Duchess gave me so gracious and kind a
reception as made a deep impression upon me. After I had been presented,
I was invited to dine, and soon after received an invitation to
visit the hereditary Grand Duke and his lady, at the hunting seat of
Ettersburg, which stands high, and close to an extensive forest. The
old fashioned furniture within the house, and the distant views from
the park into the Hartz mountains, produced immediately a peculiar
impression. All the young peasants had assembled at the castle to
celebrate the birthday of their beloved young Duke; climbing-poles,
from which fluttered handkerchiefs and ribbons, were erected; fiddles
sounded, and people danced merrily under the branches of the large and
flowering limetrees. Sabbath splendor, contentment and happiness were
diffused over the whole.

The young andebut new married princely pair seemed to be united by true
heartfelt sentiment. The heart must be able to forget the star on the
breast under which it beats, if its possessor wish to remain long free
and happy in a court; and such a heart, certainly one of the noblest and
best which beats, is possessed by Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar. I had
the happiness of a sufficient length of time to establish this belief.
During this, my first residence here, I came several times to the happy
Ettersburg. The young Duke showed me the garden and the tree on the
trunk of which Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland had cut their names;
nay even Jupiter himself had wished to add his to theirs, for his
thunder-bolt had splintered it in one of the branches.

The intellectual Mrs. von Gross (Amalia Winter), Chancellor von Muller,
who was able livingly to unroll the times of Goethe and to explain his
Faust, and the soundly honest and child-like minded Eckermann belonged
to the circle at Ettersburg. The evenings passed like a spiritual dream;
alternately some one read aloud; even I ventured, for the first time in
a foreign language to me, to read one of my own tales--the Constant Tin

Chancellor von Muller accompanied me to the princely burial-place, where
Karl August sleeps with his glorious wife, not between Schiller and
Goethe, as I believed when I wrote--"the prince has made for himself
a rainbow glory, whilst he stands between the sun and the rushing
waterfall." Close beside the princely pair, who understood and valued
that which was great, repose these their immortal friends. Withered
laurel garlands lay upon the simple brown coffins, of which the whole
magnificence consists in the immortal names of Goethe and Schiller. In
life the prince and the poet walked side by side, in death they slumber
under the same vault. Such a place as this is never effaced from the
mind; in such a spot those quiet prayers are offered, which God alone

I remained above eight days in Weimar; it seemed to me as if I had
formerly lived in this city; as if it were a beloved home which I must
now leave. As I drove out of the city, over the bridge and past the
mill, and for the last time looked back to the city and the castle, a
deep melancholy took hold on my soul, and it was to me as if a beautiful
portion of my life here had its close; I thought that the journey, after
I had left Weimar, could afford me no more pleasure. How often since
that time has the carrier pigeon, and still more frequently, the mind,
flown over to this place! Sunshine has streamed forth from Weimar upon
my poet-life.

From Weimar I went to Leipzig where a truly poetical evening awaited me
with Robert Schumann. This great composer had a year before surprised me
by the honor of dedicating to me the music which he had composed to four
of my songs; the lady of Dr. Frege whose singing, so full of soul, has
pleased and enchanted so many thousands, accompanied Clara Schumann,
and the composer and the poet were alone the audience: a little festive
supper and a mutual interchange of ideas shortened the evening only
too much. I met with the old, cordial reception at the house of Mr.
Brockhaus, to which from former visits I had almost accustomed myself.
The circle of my friends increased in the German cities; but the first
heart is still that to which we most gladly turn again.

I found in Dresden old friends with youthful feelings; my gifted
half-countryman Dahl, the Norwegian, who knows how upon canvas to make
the waterfall rush foaming down, and the birch-tree to grow as in the
valleys of Norway, and Vogel von Vogelstein, who did me the honor of
painting my portrait, which was included in the royal collection of
portraits. The theatre intendant, Herr von L ttichau, provided me every
evening with a seat in the manager's box; and one of the noblest
ladies, in the first circles of Dresden, the worthy Baroness von Decken,
received me as a mother would receive her son. In this character I was
ever afterwards received in her family and in the amiable circle of her

How bright and beautiful is the world! How good are human beings! That
it is a pleasure to live becomes ever more and more clear to me.

 Beaulieu's younger brother Edmund, who is an officer in the army, came
one day from Tharand, where he had spent the summer months. I
accompanied him to various places, spent some happy days among the
pleasant scenery of the hills, and was received at the same time into
various families.

I visited with the Baroness Decken, for the first time, the celebrated
and clever painter Retsch, who has published the bold outlines of
Goethe, Shakspeare, &c. He lives a sort of Arcadian life among lowly
vineyards on the way to Meissen. Every year he makes a present to his
wife, on her birthday, of a new drawing, and always one of his best;
the collection has grown through a course of years to a valuable album,
which she, if he die before her, is to publish. Among the many glorious
ideas there, one struck me as peculiar; the Flight into Egypt. It is
night; every one sleeps in the picture,--Mary, Joseph, the flowers and
the shrubs, nay even the ass which carries her--all, except the child
Jesus, who, with open round countenance, watches over and illumines all.
I related one of my stories to him, and for this I received a lovely
drawing,--a beautiful young girl hiding herself behind the mask of an
old woman; thus should the eternally youthful soul, with its blooming
loveliness, peep forth from behind the old mask of the fairy-tale.
Retsch's pictures are rich in thought, full of beauty, and a genial

I enjoyed the country-life of Germany with Major Serre and his amiable
wife at their splendid residence of Maren; it is not possible for
any one to exercise greater hospitality than is done by these two
kind-hearted people. A circle of intelligent, interesting individuals,
were here assembled; I remained among them above eight days, and there
became acquainted with Kohl the traveller, and the clever authoress,
the Countess Hahn-Hahn, in whom I discerned a woman by disposition and
individual character in whom confidence may be placed. Where one is well
received there one gladly lingers. I found myself unspeakably happy on
this little journey in Germany, and became convinced that I was there
no stranger. It was heart and truth to nature which people valued in my
writings; and, however excellent and praiseworthy the exterior beauty
may be, however imposing the maxims of this world's wisdom, still it is
heart and nature which have least changed by time, and which everybody
is best able to understand.

I returned home by way of Berlin, where I had not been for several
years; but the dearest of my friends there--Chamisso, was dead.

  The fair wild swan which flew far o'er the earth,
  And laid its head upon a wild-swan's breast,

was now flown to a more glorious hemisphere; I saw his children, who
were now fatherless and motherless. From the young who here surround me,
I discover that I am grown older; I feel it not in myself. Chamisso's
sons, whom I saw the last time playing here in the little garden
with bare necks, came now to meet me with helmet and sword: they were
officers in the Prussian service. I felt in a moment how the years had
rolled on, how everything was changed and how one loses so many.

  Yet is it not so hard as people deem,
    To see their soul's beloved from them riven;
  God has their dear ones, and in death they seem
    To form a bridge which leads them up to heaven.

I met with the most cordial reception, and have since then always met
with the same, in the house of the Minister Savigny, where I became
acquainted with the clever, singularly gifted Bettina and her lovely
spiritual-minded daughter. One hour's conversation with Bettina during
which she was the chief speaker, was so rich and full of interest, that
I was almost rendered dumb by all this eloquence, this firework of wit.
The world knows her writings, but another talent which she is possessed
of, is less generally known, namely her talent for drawing. Here again
it is the ideas which astonish us. It was thus, I observed, she had
treated in a sketch an accident which had occurred just before, a young
man being killed by the fumes of wine. You saw him descending half-naked
into the cellar, round which lay the wine casks like monsters:
Bacchanals and Bacchantes danced towards him, seized their victim and
destroyed him! I know that Thorwaldsen, to whom she once showed all
her drawings, was in the highest degree astonished by the ideas they

It does the heart such good when abroad to find a house, where, when
immediately you enter, eyes flash like festal lamps, a house where you
can take peeps into a quiet, happy domestic life--such a house is that
of Professor Weiss. Yet how many new acquaintance which were found,
and old acquaintance which were renewed, ought I not to mention! I met
Cornelius from Rome, Schelling from Munich, my countryman I might almost
call him; Steffens, the Norwegian, and once again Tieck, whom I had not
seen since my first visit to Germany. He was very much altered, yet his
gentle, wise eyes were the same, the shake of his hand was the same. I
felt that he loved me and wished me well. I must visit him in Potsdam,
where he lived in ease and comfort. At dinner I became acquainted with
his brother the sculptor.

From Tieck I learnt how kindly the King and Queen of Prussia were
disposed towards me; that they had read my romance of Only a Fiddler,
and inquired from Tieck about me. Meantime their Majesties were absent
from Berlin. I had arrived the evening before their departure, when that
abominable attempt was made upon their lives.

I returned to Copenhagen by Stettin in stormy weather, full of the joy
of life, and again saw my dear friends, and in a few days set off to
Count Moltke's in Funen, there to spend a few lovely summer days. I here
received a letter from the Minister Count Rantzau-Breitenburg, who was
with the King and Queen of Denmark at the watering-place of F÷hr. He
wrote, saying that he had the pleasure of announcing to me the most
gracious invitation of their Majesties to F÷hr. This island, as is well
known, lies in the North Sea, not far from the coast of Sleswick, in
the neighborhood of the interesting Halligs, those little islands which
Biernatzky described so charmingly in his novels. Thus, in a manner
wholly unexpected by me, I should see scenery of a very peculiar
character even in Denmark.

The favor of my king and Queen made me happy, and I rejoiced to be once
more in close intimacy with Rantzau. Alas, it was for the last time!

It was just now five and twenty years since I, a poor lad, travelled
alone and helpless to Copenhagen. Exactly the five and twentieth
anniversary would be celebrated by my being with my king and queen, to
whom I was faithfully attached, and whom I at that very time learned to
love with my whole soul. Everything that surrounded me, man and nature,
reflected themselves imperishably in my soul. I felt myself, as it were,
conducted to a point from which I could look forth more distinctly over
the past five and twenty years, with all the good fortune and happiness
which they had evolved for me. The reality frequently surpasses the most
beautiful dream.

I travelled from Funen to Flensborg, which, lying in its great bay, is
picturesque with woods and hills, and then immediately opens out into
a solitary heath. Over this I travelled in the bright moonlight. The
journey across the heath was tedious; the clouds only passed rapidly. We
went on monotonously through the deep sand, and monotonous was the
wail of a bird among the shrubby heath. Presently we reached moorlands.
Long-continued rain had changed meadows and cornfields into great lakes;
the embankments along which we drove were like morasses; the horses sank
deeply into them. In many places the light carriage was obliged to be
supported by the peasants, that it might not fall upon the cottages
below the embankment. Several hours were consumed over each mile
(Danish). At length the North Sea with its islands lay before me. The
whole coast was an embankment, covered for miles with woven straw,
against which the waves broke. I arrived at high tide. The wind was
favorable, and in less than an hour I reached F÷hr, which, after my
difficult journey, appeared to me like a real fairy land.

The largest city, Wyck, in which are the baths, is exactly built like a
Dutch town. The houses are only one story high, with sloping roofs and
gables turned to the street. The many strangers there, and the presence
of the court, gave a peculiar animation to the principal street.
Well-known faces looked out from almost every house; the Danish flag
waved, and music was heard. I was soon established in my quarters, and
every day, until the departure of their Majesties, had I the honor of an
invitation from them to dinner, as well as to pass the evening in their
circle. On several evenings I read aloud my little stories (M rchen)
to the king and queen, and both of them were gracious and affectionate
towards me. It is so good when a noble human nature will reveal itself
where otherwise only the king's crown and the purple mantle might be
discovered. Few people can be more amiable in private life than their
present Majesties of Denmark. May God bless them and give them joy, even
as they filled my breast with happiness and sunshine!

I sailed in their train to the largest of the Halligs, those grassy
runes in the ocean, which bear testimony to a sunken country. The
violence of the sea has changed the mainland into islands, has riven
these again, and buried men and villages. Year after year are new
portions rent away, and, in half a century's time, there will be nothing
here but sea. The Halligs are now only low islets covered with a dark
turf, on which a few flocks graze. When the sea rises these are driven
into the garrets of the houses, and the waves roll over this little
region, which is miles distant from the shore. Oland, which we visited,
contains a little town. The houses stand closely side by side, as if,
in their sore need they would all huddle together. They are all erected
upon a platform, and have little windows, as in the cabin of a ship.
There, in the little room, solitary through half the year, sit the wife
and her daughters spinning. There, however, one always finds a little
collection of books. I found books in Danish, German, and Frieslandish.
The people read and work, and the sea rises round the houses, which
lie like a wreck in the ocean. Sometimes, in the night, a ship, having
mistaken the lights, drives on here and is stranded.

In the year 1825, a tempestuous tide washed away men and houses. The
people sat for days and nights half naked upon the roofs, till these
gave way; nor from F÷hr nor the mainland could help be sent to them.
The church-yard is half washed away; coffins and corpses were frequently
exposed to view by the breakers: it is an appalling sight. And yet
the inhabitants of the Halligs are attached to their little home. They
cannot remain on the mainland, but are driven thence by home sickness.

We found only one man upon the island, and he had only lately arisen
from a sick bed. The others were out on long voyages. We were received
by girls and women. They had erected before the church a triumphal arch
with flowers which they had fetched from F÷hr; but it was so small and
low, that one was obliged to go round it; nevertheless they showed by it
their good will. The queen was deeply affected by their having cut down
their only shrub, a rose bush, to lay over a marshy place which she
would have to cross. The girls are pretty, and are dressed in a half
Oriental fashion. The people trace their descent from Greeks. They wear
their faces half concealed, and beneath the strips of linen which lie
upon the head is placed a Greek fez, around which the hair is wound in

On our return, dinner was served on board the royal steamer; and
afterwards, as we sailed in a glorious sunset through this archipelago,
the deck of the vessel was changed to a dancing room. Young and old
danced; servants flew hither and thither with refreshments; sailors
stood upon the paddle-boxes and took the soundings, and their deep-toned
voices might be heard giving the depth of the water. The moon rose
round and large, and the promontory of Amrom assumed the appearance of a
snow-covered chain of Alps.

I visited afterwards these desolate sand hills: the king went to shoot
rabbits there. Many years ago a ship was wrecked here, on board of which
were two rabbits, and from this pair Amrom is now stored with thousands
of their descendants. At low tide the sea recedes wholly from between
Amrom and F÷hr, and then people drive across from one island to another;
but still the time must be well observed and the passage accurately
known, or else, when the tide comes, he who crosses will be inevitably
lost. It requires only a few minutes, and then where dry land was large
ships may sail. We saw a whole row of wagons driving from F÷hr to Amrom.
Seen upon the white sand and against the blue horizon, they seem to be
twice as large as they really were. All around were spread out, like
a net, the sheets of water, as if they held firmly the extent of sand
which belonged to the ocean and which would be soon overflowed by it.
This promontory brings to one's memory the mounds of ashes at Vesuvius;
for here one sinks at every step, the wiry moor-grass not being able to
bind together the loose sand. The sun shone burningly hot between the
white sand hills: it was like a journey through the deserts of Africa.

A peculiar kind of rose, and the heath were in flower in the valleys
between the hills; in other places there was no vegetation whatever;
nothing but the wet sand on which the waves had left their impress; the
sea had inscribed on its receding strange hieroglyphics. I gazed from
one of the highest points over the North Sea; it was ebb-tide; the sea
had retired above a mile; the vessels lay like dead fishes upon the
sand, and awaiting the returning tide. A few sailors had clambered down
and moved about on the sandy ground like black points. Where the sea
itself kept the white level sand in movement, a long bank elevated
itself, which, during the time of high-water, is concealed, and upon
which occur many wrecks. I saw the lofty wooden tower which is here
erected, and in which a cask is always kept filled with water, and
a basket supplied with bread and brandy, that the unfortunate human
beings, who are here stranded, may be able in this place, amid the
swelling sea, to preserve life for a few days until it is possible to
rescue them.

To return from such a scene as this to a royal table, a charming
court-concert, and a little ball in the bath-saloon, as well as to the
promenade by moonlight, thronged with guests, a little Boulevard, had
something in it like a fairy tale,--it was a singular contrast.

As I sat on the above-mentioned five-and-twentieth anniversary, on the
5th of September, at the royal dinner-table, the whole of my former life
passed in review before my mind. I was obliged to summon all my strength
to prevent myself bursting into tears. There are moments of thankfulness
in which, as it were, we feel a desire to press God to our hearts. How
deeply I felt, at this time, my own nothingness; how all, all, had come
from him. Rantzau knew what an interesting day this was to me.
After dinner the king and the queen wished me happiness, and that
so--_graciously_, is a poor word,--so cordially, so sympathizingly! The
king wished me happiness in that which I had endured and won. He asked
me about my first entrance into the world, and I related to him some
characteristic traits.

In the course of conversation he inquired if I had not some certain
yearly income; I named the sum to him.

"That is not much," said the king.

"But I do not require much," replied I, "and my writings procure me

The king, in the kindest manner, inquired farther into my circumstances,
and closed by saying,

"If I can, in any way, be serviceable to your literary labors, then come
to me."

In the evening, during the concert, the conversation was renewed, and
some of those who stood near me reproached me for not having made use of
my opportunity.

"The king," said they, "put the very words into your mouth."

But I could not, I would not have done it. "If the king," I said, "found
that I required something more, he could give it to me of his own will."

And I was not mistaken. In the following year King Christian VIII.
increased my annual stipend, so that with this and that which my
writings bring in, I can live honorably and free from care. My king gave
it to me out of the pure good-will of his own heart. King Christian
is enlightened, clear-sighted, with a mind enlarged by science; the
gracious sympathy, therefore, which he has felt in my fate is to me
doubly cheering and ennobling.

The 5th of September was to me a festival-day; even the German visitors
at the baths honored me by drinking my health in the pump-room.

So many flattering circumstances, some people argue, may easily spoil a
man, and make him vain. But, no; they do not spoil him, they make him on
the contrary--better; they purify his mind, and he must thereby feel an
impulse, a wish, to deserve all that he enjoys. At my parting-audience
with the queen, she gave me a valuable ring as a remembrance of our
residence at F÷hr; and the king again expressed himself full of kindness
and noble sympathy. God bless and preserve this exalted pair!

The Duchess of Augustenburg was at this time also at F÷hr with her two
eldest daughters. I had daily the happiness of being with them, and
received repeated invitations to take Augustenburg on my return. For
this purpose I went from F÷hr to Als, one of the most beautiful islands
in the Baltic. That little region resembles a blooming garden; luxuriant
corn and clover-fields are enclosed, with hedges of hazels and wild
roses; the peasants' houses are surrounded by large apple-orchards, full
of fruit. Wood and hill alternate. Now we see the ocean, and now the
narrow Lesser Belt, which resembles a river. The Castle of Augustenburg
is magnificent, with its garden full of flowers, extending down to
the very shores of the serpentine bay. I met with the most cordial
reception, and found the most amiable family-life in the ducal circle.
I spent fourteen days here, and was present at the birth-day festivities
of the duchess, which lasted three days; among these festivities was
racing, and the town and the castle were filled with people.

Happy domestic life is like a beautiful summer's evening; the heart is
filled with peace; and everything around derives a peculiar glory.
The full heart says "it is good to be here;" and this I felt at


In the spring of 1844 I had finished a dramatic tale, "The Flower of
Fortune." The idea of this was, that it is not the immortal name of the
artist, nor the splendor of a crown which can make man happy; but that
happiness is to be found where people, satisfied with little, love and
are loved again. The scene was perfectly Danish, an idyllian, sunbright
life, in whose clear heaven two dark pictures are reflected as in
a dream; the unfortunate Danish poet Ewald and Prince Buris, who is
tragically sung of in our heroic ballads. I wished to show, in honor
of our times, the middle ages to have been dark and miserable, as they
were, but which many poets only represent to us in a beautiful light.

Professor Heiberg, who was appointed censor, declared himself against
the reception of my piece. During the last years I had met with nothing
but hostility from this party; I regarded it as personal ill-will, and
this was to me still more painful than the rejection of the pieces. It
was painful for me to be placed in a constrained position with regard
to a poet whom I respected, and towards whom, according to my own
conviction, I had done everything in order to obtain a friendly
relationship. A further attempt, however, must be made. I wrote to
Heiberg, expressed myself candidly, and, as I thought, cordially, and
entreated him to give me explicitly the reasons for his rejection of the
piece and for his ill-will towards me. He immediately paid me a visit,
which I, not being at home when he called, returned on the following
day, and I was received in the most friendly manner. The visit and the
conversation belong certainly to the extraordinary, but they occasioned
an explanation, and I hope led to a better understanding for the future.

He clearly set before me his views in the rejection of my piece. Seen
from his point of sight they were unquestionably correct; but they were
not mine, and thus we could not agree. He declared decidedly that he
cherished no spite against me, and that he acknowledged my talent. I
mentioned his various attacks upon me, for example, in the Intelligence,
and that he had denied to me original invention: I imagined, however,
that I had shown this in my novels; "But of these," said I, "you have
read none; you, yourself have told me so."

"Yes, that is the truth," replied he; "I have not yet read them, but I
will do so."

"Since then," continued I, "you have turned me and my Bazaar to ridicule
in your poem called Denmark, and spoken about my fanaticism for the
beautiful Dardanelles; and yet I have, precisely in that book, described
the Dardanelles as not beautiful; it is the Bosphorus which I thought
beautiful; you seem not to be aware of that; perhaps you have not read
The Bazaar either?"

"Was it the Bosphorus?" said he, with his own peculiar smile; "yes,
I had quite forgotten that, and, you see, people do not remember it
either; the object in this case was only to give you a stab."

This confession sounded so natural, so like him, that I was obliged to
smile. I looked into his clever eyes, thought how many beautiful things
he had written, and I could not be angry with him. The conversation
became more lively, more free, and he said many kind things to me; for
example, he esteemed my stories very highly, and entreated me frequently
to visit him. I have become more and more acquainted with his poetical
temperament, and I fancy that he too will understand mine. We are
very dissimilar, but we both strive after the same object. Before we
separated he conducted me to his little observatory; now his dearest
world. He seems now to live for poetry and now for philosophy, andùfor
which I fancy he is least of all calculated--for astronomy. I could
almost sigh and sing,

  Thou wast erewhile the star at which them gazest now!

My dramatic story came at length on the stage, and in the course of the
season was performed seven times.

As people grow older, however much they may be tossed about in the
world, some one place must be the true home; even the bird of passage
has one fixed spot to which it hastens; mine was and is the house of my
friend Collin. Treated as a son, almost grown up with the children,
I have become a member of the family; a more heartfelt connection,
a better home have I never known: a link broke in this chain, and
precisely in the hour of bereavement, did I feel how firmly I have been
engrafted here, so that I was regarded as one of the children.

 If I were to give the picture of the mistress of a family who wholly
loses her own individual _I_ in her husband and children, I must name
the wife of Collin; with the sympathy of a mother, she also followed me
in sorrow and in gladness. In the latter years of her life she became
very deaf, and besides this she had the misfortune of being nearly
blind. An operation was performed on her sight, which succeeded so well,
that in the course of the winter she was able to read a letter, and
this was a cause of grateful joy to her. She longed in an extraordinary
manner for the first green of spring, and this she saw in her little

I parted from her one Sunday evening in health and joy; in the night I
was awoke; a servant brought me a letter. Collin wrote, "My wife is very
ill; the children are all assembled here!" I understood it, and hastened
thither. She slept quietly and without pain; it was the sleep of the
just; it was death which was approaching so kindly and calmly. On the
third day she yet lay in that peaceful slumber: then her countenance
grew pale--and she was dead!

  Thou didst but close thine eyes to gather in
    The large amount of all thy spiritual bliss;
  We saw thy slumbers like a little child's.
     O death! thou art all brightness and not shadow.

Never had I imagined that the departure from this world could be so
painless, so blessed. A devotion arose in my soul; a conviction of God
and eternity, which this moment elevated to an epoch in my life. It
was the first death-bed at which I had been present since my childhood.
Children, and children's children were assembled. In such moments all is
holy around us. Her soul was love; she went to love and to God!

At the end of July, the monument of King Frederick VI. was to
be uncovered at Skanderburg, in the middle of Jutland. I had, by
solicitation, written the cantata for the festival, to which Hartmann
had furnished the music, and this was to be sung by Danish students. I
had been invited to the festival, which thus was to form the object of
my summer excursion.

Skanderburg lies in one of the most beautiful districts of Denmark.
Agreeable hills rise covered with vast beech-woods, and a large inland
lake of a pleasing form extends among them. On the outside of the city,
close by the church, which is built upon the ruins of an old castle, now
stands the monument, a work of Thorwaldsen's. The most beautiful moment
to me at this festival was in the evening, after the unveiling of the
monument; torches were lighted around it, and threw their unsteady flame
over the lake; within the woods blazed thousands of lights, and music
for the dance resounded from the tents. Round about upon the hills,
between the woods, and high above them, bonfires were lighted at one
and the same moment, which burned in the night like red stars. There was
spread over lake and land a pure, a summer fragrance which is peculiar
to the north, in its beautiful summer nights. The shadows of those who
passed between the monument and the church, glided gigantically along
its red walls, as if they were spirits who were taking part in the

I returned home. In this year my novel of the Improvisatore was
translated into English, by the well-known authoress, Mary Howitt,
and was received by her countrymen with great applause. O. T. and the
Fiddler soon followed, and met with, as it seemed, the same reception.
After that appeared a Dutch, and lastly a Russian translation of the
Improvisatore. That which should never have ventured to have dreamed
of was accomplished; my writings seem to come forth under a lucky star;
they fly over all lands. There is something elevating, but at the same
time, a something terrific in seeing one's thoughts spread so far, and
among so many people; it is indeed, almost a fearful thing to belong to
so many. The noble and the good in us becomes a blessing; but the bad,
one's errors, shoot forth also, and involuntarily the thought forces
itself from us: God! let me never write down a word of which I shall not
be able to give an account to thee. A peculiar feeling, a mixture of
joy and anxiety, fills my heart every time my good genius conveys my
fictions to a foreign people.

Travelling operates like an invigorating bath to the mind; like a
Medea-draft which always makes young again. I feel once more an impulse
for it--not in order to seek up material, as a critic fancied and said,
in speaking of my Bazaar; there exists a treasury of material in my own
inner self, and this life is too short to mature this young existence;
but there needs refreshment of spirit in order to convey it vigorously
and maturely to paper, and travelling is to me, as I have said, this
invigorating bath, from which I return as it were younger and stronger.

By prudent economy, and the proceeds of my writings, I was in a
condition to undertake several journeys during the last year. That
which for me is the most sunbright, is the one in which these pages were
written. Esteem, perhaps over-estimation, but especially kindness,
in short, happiness and pleasure have flowed towards me in abundant

I wished to visit Italy for the third time, there to spend a summer,
that I might become acquainted with the south in its warm season, and
probably return thence by Spain and France. At the end of October, 1845,
I left Copenhagen. Formerly I had thought when I set out on a journey,
God! what wilt thou permit to happen to me on this journey! This time my
thoughts were, God, what will happen to my friends at home during this
long time! And I felt a real anxiety. In one year the hearse may drive
up to the door many times, and whose name may shine upon the coffin! The
proverb says, when one suddenly feels a cold shudder, "now death passes
over my grave." The shudder is still colder when the thoughts pass over
the graves of our best friends.

I spent a few days at Count Moltke's, at Glorup; strolling players were
acting some of my dramatic works at one of the nearest provincial towns.
I did not see them; country life firmly withheld me. There is something
in the late autumn poetically beautiful; when the leaf is fallen from
the tree, and the sun shines still upon the green grass, and the bird
twitters, one may often fancy that it is a spring-day; thus certainly
also has the old man moments in his autumn in which his heart dreams of

I passed only one day in Odense--I feel myself there more of a stranger
than in the great cities of Germany. As a child I was solitary, and had
therefore no youthful friend; most of the families whom I knew have died
out; a new generation passes along the streets; and the streets even
are altered. The later buried have concealed the miserable graves of my
parents. Everything is changed. I took one of my childhood's rambles to
the Marian-heights which had belonged to the Iversen family; but this
family is dispersed; unknown faces looked out from the windows. How many
youthful thoughts have been here exchanged!

One of the young girls who at that time sat quietly there with beaming
eyes and listened to my first poem, when I came here in the summer time
as a scholar from Slagelse, sits now far quieter in noisy Copenhagen,
and has thence sent out her first writings into the world. Her German
publisher thought that some introductory words from me might be useful
to them, and I, the stranger, but the almost too kindly received, have
introduced the works of this clever girl into Germany.

It is Henriette Hanck of whom I speak, the authoress of "Aunt Anna,"
and "An Author's Daughter." [Footnote: Since these pages were written, I
have received from home the news of her death, in July, 1846. She was an
affectionate daughter to her parents, and was, besides this, possessed
of a deeply poetical mind. In her I have lost a true friend from the
years of childhood, one who had felt an interest and a sisterly regard
for me, both in my good and my evil days.] I visited her birth-place
when the first little circle paid me homage and gave me joy. But all was
strange there, I myself a stranger.

The ducal family of Augustenburg was now at Castle Gravenstein; they
were informed of my arrival, and all the favor and the kindness which
was shown to me on the former occasion at Augustenburg, was here renewed
in rich abundance. I remained here fourteen days, and it was as if these
were an announcement of all the happiness which should meet me when I
arrived in Germany. The country around here is of the most picturesque
description; vast woods, cultivated uplands in perpetual variety, with
the winding shore of the bay and the many quiet inland lakes. Even the
floating mists of autumn lent to the landscape a some what picturesque,
something strange to the islander. Everything here is on a larger scale
than on the island. Beautiful was it without, glorious was it within. I
wrote here a new little story. The Girl with the Brimstone-matches; the
only thing which I wrote upon this journey. Receiving the invitation
to come often to Gravenstein and Augustenburg, I left, with a grateful
heart, a place where I had spent such beautiful and such happy days.

Now, no longer the traveller goes at a snail's pace through the deep
sand over the heath; the railroad conveys him in a few hours to Altona
and Hamburg. The circle of my friends there is increased within the last
years. The greater part of my time I spent with my oldest friends Count
Hoik, and the resident Minister Bille, and with Zeise, the excellent
translator of my stories. Otto Speckter, who is full of genius,
surprised me by his bold, glorious drawings for my stories; he had made
a whole collection of them, six only of which were known to me. The
same natural freshness which shows itself in every one of his works,
and makes them all little works of art, exhibits itself in his whole
character. He appears to possess a patriarchal family, an affectionate
old father, and gifted sisters, who love him with their whole souls. I
wished one evening to go to the theatre; it was scarcely a quarter of an
hour before the commencement of the opera: Speckter accompanied me, and
on our way we came up to an elegant house.

"We must first go in here, dear friend," said he; "a wealthy family
lives here, friends of mine, and friends of your stories; the children
will be happy."

"But the opera," said I.

"Only for two minutes," returned he; and drew me into the house,
mentioned my name, and the circle of children collected around me.

"And now tell us a tale," said he; "only one."

I told one, and then hastened away to the theatre.

"That was an extraordinary visit," said I.

"An excellent one; one entirely out of the common way; one entirely out
of the common way!" said he exultingly; "only think; the children are
full of Andersen and his stories; he suddenly makes his appearance
amongst them, tells one of them himself, and then is gone! vanished!
That is of itself like a fairy-tale to the children, that will remain
vividly in their remembrance."

I myself was amused by it.

In Oldenburg my own little room, home-like and comfortable, was awaiting
me. Hofrath von Eisendecker and his well-informed lady, whom, among all
my foreign friends I may consider as my most sympathizing, expected
me. I had promised to remain with them a fortnight, but I stayed much
longer. A house where the best and the most intellectual people of a
city meet, is an agreeable place of residence, and such a one had I
here. A deal of social intercourse prevailed in the little city, and the
theatre, in which certainly either opera or ballet was given, is one
of the most excellent in Germany. The ability of Gall, the director, is
sufficiently known, and unquestionably the nominationof the poet Mosen
has a great and good influence. I have to thank him for enabling me
to see one of the classic pieces of Germany, "Nathan the Wise," the
principal part in which was played by Kaiser, who is as remarkable for
his deeply studied and excellent tragic acting, as for his readings.

Moses, who somewhat resembles Alexander Dumas, with his half African
countenance, and brown sparkling eyes, although he was suffering in
body, was full of life and soul, and we soon understood one another. A
trait of his little son affected me. He had listened to me with great
devotion, as I read one of my stories; and when on the last day I was
there, I took leave, the mother said that he must give me his hand,
adding, that probably a long time must pass before he would see me
again, the boy burst into tears. In the evening, when Mosen came into
the theatre, he said to me, "My little Erick has two tin soldiers; one
of them he has given me for you, that you may take him with you on your

The tin soldier has faithfully accompanied me; he is a Turk: probably
some day he may relate his travels.

Mosen wrote in the dedication of his "John of Austria," the following
lines to me:--

  Once a little bird flew over
    From the north sea's dreary strand;
  Singing, flew unto me over,
    Singing M rchen through the land.
  Farewell! yet again bring hither
    Thy warm heart and song together.

Here I again met with Mayer, who has described Naples and the
Neapolitans so charmingly. My little stories interested him so much
that he had written a little treaties on them for Germany, Kapellmeister
Pott, and my countryman Jerndorff, belong to my earlier friends. I made
every day new acquaintance, because all houses were open to me through
the family with whom I was staying. Even the Grand Duke was so generous
as to have me invited to a concert at the palace the day after my
arrival, and later I had the honor of being asked to dinner. I received
in this foreign court, especially, many unlooked-for favors. At the
Eisendeckers and at the house of the parents of my friend Beaulieu--the
Privy-Counsellor Beaulieu, at Oldenburg, I heard several times my little
stones read in German.

I can read Danish very well, as it ought to be read, and I can give to
it perfectly the expression which ought to be given in reading; there
is in the Danish language a power which cannot be transfused into
a translation; the Danish language is peculiarly excellent for this
species of fiction. The stories have a something strange to me in
German; it is difficult for me in reading it to put my Danish soul into
it; my pronunciation of the German also is feeble, and with particular
words I must, as it were, use an effort to bring them out--and yet
people everywhere in Germany have had great interest in hearing me read
them aloud. I can very well believe that the foreign pronunciation in
the reading of these tales may be easily permitted, because this foreign
manner approaches, in this instance, to the childlike; it gives
a natural coloring to the reading. I saw everywhere that the most
distinguished men and women of the most highly cultivated minds,
listened to me with interest; people entreated me to read, and I did so
willingly. I read for the first time my stories in a foreign tongue,
and at a foreign court, before the Grand Duke of Oldenburg and a little
select circle.

The winter soon came on; the meadows which lay under water, and which
formed large lakes around the city, were already covered with thick
ice; the skaters flew over it, and I yet remained in Oldenburg among
my hospitable friends. Days and evenings slid rapidly away; Christmas
approached, and this season I wished to spend in Berlin. But what are
distances in our days?--the steam-carriage goes from Hanover to Berlin
in one day! I must away from the beloved ones, from children and old
people, who were near, as it were, to my heart.

I was astonished in the highest degree on taking leave of the Grand
Duke, to receive from him, as a mark of his favor and as a keepsake, a
valuable ring. I shall always preserve it, like every other remembrance
of this country, where I have found and where I possess true friends.

When I was in Berlin on the former occasion, I was invited, as the
author of the Improvisatore, to the Italian Society, into which only
those who have visited Italy can be admitted. Here I saw Rauch for the
first time, who with his white hair and his powerful, manly figure,
is not unlike Thorwaldsen. Nobody introduced me to him, and I did not
venture to present myself, and therefore walked alone about his studio,
like the other strangers. Afterwards I became personally acquainted
with him at the house of the Prussian Ambassador, in Copenhagen; I now
hastened to him.

He was in the highest degree captivated by my little stories, pressed me
to his breast, and expressed the highest praise, but which was honestly
meant. Such a momentary estimation or over-estimation from a man of
genius erases many a dark shadow from the mind. I received from Rauch my
first welcome in Berlin: he told me what a large circle of friends I had
in the capital of Prussia. I must acknowledge that it was so. They were
of the noblest in mind as well as the first in rank, in art, and in
science. Alexander von Humboldt, Prince Radziwil, Savigny, and many
others never to be forgotten.

I had already, on the former occasion, visited the brothers Grimm, but I
had not at that time made much progress with the acquaintance. I had not
brought any letters of introduction to them with me, because people had
told me, and I myself believed it, that if I were known by any body
in Berlin, it must be the brothers Grimm. I therefore sought out their
residence. The servant-maid asked me with which of the brothers I wished
to speak.

"With the one who has written the most," said I, because I did not know,
at that time, which of them had most interested himself in the M rchen.

"Jacob is the most learned," said the maidservant.

"Well, then, take me to him."

I entered the room, and Jacob Grimm, with his knowing and
strongly-marked countenance, stood before me.

"I come to you," said I, "without letters of introduction, because I
hope that my name is not wholly unknown to you."

"Who are you?" asked he.

I told him, and Jacob Grimm said, in a half-embarrassed voice, "I do not
remember to have heard this name; what have you written?"

It was now my turn to be embarrassed in a high degree: but I now
mentioned my little stories.

"I do not know them," said he; "but mention to me some other of your
writings, because I certainly must have heard them spoken of."

I named the titles of several; but he shook his head. I felt myself
quite unlucky.

"But what must you think of me," said I, "that I come to you as a total
stranger, and enumerate myself what I have written: you must know me!
There has been published in Denmark a collection of the M rchen of all
nations, which is dedicated to you, and in it there is at least one
story of mine."

"No," said he good-humoredly, but as much embarrassed as myself; "I have
not read even that, but it delights me to make your acquaintance; allow
me to conduct you to my brother Wilhelm?"

"No, I thank you," said I, only wishing now to get away; I had fared
badly enough with one brother. I pressed his hand and hurried from the

That same month Jacob Grimm went to Copenhagen; immediately on his
arrival, and while yet in his travelling dress, did the amiable kind man
hasten up to me. He now knew me, and he came to me with cordiality. I
was just then standing and packing my clothes in a trunk for a journey
to the country; I had only a few minutes time: by this means my
reception of him was just as laconic as had been his of me in Berlin.

Now, however, we met in Berlin as old acquaintance. Jacob Grimm is one
of those characters whom one must love and attach oneself to.

One evening, as I was reading one of my little stories at the Countess
Bismark-Bohlen's, there was in the little circle one person in
particular who listened with evident fellowship of feeling, and
who expressed himself in a peculiar and sensible manner on the
subject,--this was Jacob's brother, Wilhelm Grimm.

"I should have known you very well, if you had come to me," said he,
"the last time you were here."

I saw these two highly-gifted and amiable brothers almost daily; the
circles into which I was invited seemed also to be theirs, and it was my
desire and pleasure that they should listen to my little stories, that
they should participate in them, they whose names will be always spoken
as long as the German _Volks M rchen_ are read.

The fact of my not being known to Jacob Grimm on my first visit to
Berlin, had so disconcerted me, that when any one asked me whether I had
been well received in this city, I shook my head doubtfully and said,
"but Grimm did not know me."

I was told that Tieck was ill--could see no one; I therefore only
sent in my card. Some days afterwards I met at a friend's house, where
Rauch's birth-day was being celebrated, Tieck, the sculptor, who told me
that his brother had lately waited two hours for me at dinner. I went
to him and discovered that he had sent me an invitation, which, however,
had been taken to a wrong inn. A fresh invitation was given, and I
passed some delightfully cheerful hours with Raumer the historian, and
with the widow and daughter of Steffens. There is a music in Tieck's
voice, a spirituality in his intelligent eyes, which age cannot lessen,
but, on the contrary, must increase. The Elves, perhaps the most
beautiful story which has been conceived in our time, would alone be
sufficient, had Tieck written nothing else, to make his name immortal.
As the author of _M rchen_, I bow myself before him, the elder and The
master, and who was the first German poet, who many years before pressed
me to his breast, as if it were to consecrate me, to walk in the same
path with himself.

The old friends had all to be visited; but the number of new ones grew
with each day. One invitation followed another. It required considerable
physical power to support so much good-will. I remained in Berlin
about three weeks, and the time seemed to pass more rapidly with each
succeeding day. I was, as it were, overcome by kindness. I, at
length, had no other prospect for repose than to seat myself in a
railway-carriage, and fly away out of the country.

And yet amid these social festivities, with all the amiable zeal and
interest that then was felt for me, I had one disengaged evening; one
evening on which I suddenly felt solitude in its most oppressive form;
Christmas-eve, that very evening of all others on which I would
most willingly witness something festal, willingly stand beside a
Christmas-tree, gladdening myself with the joy of children, and seeing
the parents joyfully become children again. Every one of the many
families in which I in truth felt that I was received as a relation, had
fancied, as I afterwards discovered, that I must be invited out; but
I sat quite alone in my room at the inn, and thought on home. I seated
myself at the open window, and gazed up to the starry heavens, which was
the Christmas-tree that was lighted for me.

"Father in Heaven," I prayed, as the children do, "what dost thou give
to me!"

When the friends heard of my solitary Christmas night, there were on the
following evening many Christmas-trees lighted, and on the last evening
in the year, there was planted for me alone, a little tree with its
lights, and its beautiful presents--and that was by Jenny Lind. The
whole company consisted of herself, her attendant, and me; we three
children from the north were together on Sylvester-eve, and I was the
child for which the Christmas-tree was lighted. She rejoiced with the
feeling of a sister in my good fortune in Berlin; and I felt almost
pride in the sympathy of such a pure, noble, and womanly being.
Everywhere her praise resounded, not merely as a singer, but also as a
woman; the two combined awoke a real enthusiasm for her.

It does one good both in mind and heart to see that which is glorious
understood and beloved. In one little anecdote contributing to her
triumph I was myself made the confidant.

One morning as I looked out of my window _unter den Linden_, I saw a man
under one of the trees, half hidden, and shabbily dressed, who took a
comb out of his pocket, smoothed his hair, set his neckerchief straight,
and brushed his coat with his hand; I understood that bashful poverty
which feels depressed by its shabby dress. A moment after this, there
was a knock at my door, and this same man entered. It was W----, the
poet of nature, who is only a poor tailor, but who has a truly poetical
mind. Rellstab and others in Berlin have mentioned him with honor; there
is something healthy in his poems, among which several of a sincerely
religious character may be found. He had read that I was in Berlin, and
wished now to visit me. We sat together on the sofa and conversed: there
was such an amiable contentedness, such an unspoiled and good tone of
mind about him, that I was sorry not to be rich in order that I might do
something for him. I was ashamed of offering him the little that I could
give; in any case I wished to put it in as agreeable a form as I could.
I asked him whether I might invite him to hear Jenny Lind.

"I have already heard her," said he smiling; "I had, it is true, no
money to buy a ticket; but I went to the leader of the supernumeraries,
and asked whether I might not act as a supernumerary for one evening in
Norma: I was accepted and habited as a Roman soldier, with a long sword
by my side, and thus got to the theatre, where I could hear her better
than any body else, for I stood close to her. Ah, how she sung, how she
played! I could not help crying; but they were angry at that: the leader
forbade and would not let me again make my appearance, because no one
must weep on the stage."

With the exception of the theatre, I had very little time to visit
collections of any kind or institutions of art. The able and amiable
Olfers, however, the Director of the Museum, enabled me to pay a rapid
but extremely interesting visit to that institution. Olfers himself
was my conductor; we delayed our steps only for the most interesting
objects, and there are here not a few of these; his remarks threw light
upon my mind,--for this therefore I am infinitely obliged to him.

I had the happiness of visiting the Princess of Prussia many times; the
wing of the castle in which she resided was so comfortable, and yet like
a fairy palace. The blooming winter-garden, where the fountain splashed
among the moss at the foot of the statue, was close beside the room in
which the kind-hearted children smiled with their soft blue eyes. On
taking leave she honored me with a richly bound album, in which, beneath
the picture of the palace, she wrote her name. I shall guard this volume
as a treasure of the soul; it is not the gift which has a value only,
but also the manner in which it is given. One forenoon I read to her
several of my little stories, and her noble husband listened kindly:
Prince P ckler-Muskau also was present.

A few days after my arrival in Berlin, I had the honor to be invited to
the royal table. As I was better acquainted with Humboldt than any one
there, and he it was who had particularly interested himself about me, I
took my place at his side. Not only on account of his high intellectual
character, and his amiable and polite behavior, but also from his
infinite kindness towards me, during the whole of my residence in
Berlin, is he become unchangeably dear to me.

The King received me most graciously, and said that during his stay
in Copenhagen he had inquired after me, and had heard that I was
travelling. He expressed a great interest in my novel of Only a Fiddler;
her Majesty the Queen also showed herself graciously and kindly disposed
towards me. I had afterwards the happiness of being invited to spend
an evening at the palace at Potsdam; an evening which is full of rich
remembrance and never to be forgotten! Besides the ladies and gentlemen
in waiting, Humboldt and myself were only invited. A seat was assigned
to me at the table of their Majesties, exactly the place, said the
Queen, where Oehlenschl ger had sat and read his tragedy of Dina. I read
four little stories, the Fir-Tree, the Ugly Duckling, the Ball and
the Top, and The Swineherd. The King listened with great interest, and
expressed himself most wittily on the subject. He said, how beautiful he
thought the natural scenery of Denmark, and how excellently he had seen
one of Holberg's comedies performed.

It was so deliciously pleasant in the royal apartment,--gentle eyes were
gazing at me, and I felt that they all wished me well. When at night I
was alone in my chamber, my thoughts were so occupied with this evening,
and my mind in such a state of excitement, that I could not sleep.
Everything seemed to me like a fairy tale. Through the whole night the
chimes sounded in the tower, and the aerial music mingled itself with my

I received still one more proof of the favor and kindness of the King
of Prussia towards me, on the evening before my departure from the city.
The order of the Red Eagle, of the third class, was conferred upon me.
Such a mark of honor delights certainly every one who receives it.
I confess candidly that I felt myself honored in a high degree.
I discerned in it an evident token of the kindness of the noble,
enlightened King towards me: my heart is filled with gratitude. I
received this mark of honor exactly on the birth-day of my benefactor
Collin, the 6th of January; this day has now a twofold festal
significance for me. May God fill with gladness the mind of the royal
donor who wished to give me pleasure!

The last evening was spent in a warm-hearted circle, for the greater
part, of young people. My health was drunk; a poem, Der M rchenk÷nig,
declaimed. It was not until late in the night that I reached home, that
I might set off early in the morning by railroad.

I have here given in part a proof of the favor and kindness which
was shown to me in Berlin: I feel like some one who has received a
considerable sum for a certain object from a large assembly, and now
would give an account thereof. I might still add many other names, as
well from the learned world, as Theodor, M gge, Geibel, H ring, etc.,
as from the social circle;--the reckoning is too large. God give me
strength for that which I now have to perform, after I have, as an
earnest of good will, received such a richly abundant sum.

After a journey of a day and night I was once more in Weimar, with my
noble Hereditary Grand Duke. What a cordial reception! A heart rich in
goodness, and a mind full of noble endeavors, live in this young prince.
I have no words for the infinite favor, which, during my residence here,
I received daily from the family of the Grand Duke, but my whole heart
is full of devotion. At the court festival, as well as in the familiar
family circle, I had many evidences of the esteem in which I was held.
Beaulieu cared for me with the tenderness of a brother. It was to me
a month-long Sabbath festival. Never shall I forget the quiet evenings
spent with him, when friend spoke freely to friend.

My old friends were also unchanged; the wise and able Sch÷ll, as well as
Schober, joined them also. Jenny Lind came to Weimar; I heard her at the
court concerts and at the theatre; I visited with her the places which
are become sacred through Goethe and Schiller: we stood together beside
their coffins, where Chancellor von Muller led us. The Austrian poet,
Rollet, who met us here for the first time, wrote on this subject a
sweet poem, which will serve me as a visible remembrance of this hour
and this place. People lay lovely flowers in their books, and as such, I
lay in here this verse of his:--

Weimar, 29th January, 1846.

  M rchen rose, which has so often
    Charmed me with thy fragrant breath;
  Where the prince, the poets slumber,
    Thou hast wreathed the hall of death.

  And with thee beside each coffin,
    In the death-hushed chamber pale,
  I beheld a grief-enchanted,
    Sweetly dreaming nightingale.

  I rejoiced amid the stillness;
    Gladness through my bosom past,
  That the gloomy poets' coffins
    Such a magic crowned at last.

  And thy rose's summer fragrance
    Floated round that chamber pale,
  With the gentle melancholy
    Of the grief-hushed nightingale.

It was in the evening circle of the intellectual Froriep that I met, for
the first time, with Auerbach, who then chanced to be staying in Weimar.
His "Village Tales" interested me in the highest degree; I regard them
as the most poetical, most healthy, and joyous production of the young
German literature. He himself made the same agreeable impression
upon me; there is something so frank and straightforward, and yet so
sagacious, in his whole appearance, I might almost say, that he looks
himself like a village tale, healthy to the core, body and soul, and his
eyes beaming with honesty. We soon became friends--and I hope forever.

My stay in Weimar was prolonged; it became ever more difficult to tear
myself away. The Grand Duke's birth-day occurred at this time, and after
attending all the festivities to which I was invited, I departed. I
would and must be in Rome at Easter. Once more in the early morning, I
saw the Hereditary Grand Duke, and, with a heart full of emotion, bade
him farewell. Never, in presence of the world, will I forget the high
position which his birth gives him, but I may say, as the very poorest
subject may say of a prince, I love him as one who is dearest to my
heart. God give him joy and bless him in his noble endeavors! A generous
heart beats beneath the princely star.

Beaulieu accompanied me to Jena. Here a hospitable home awaited me, and
filled with beautiful memories from the time of Goethe, the house of the
publisher Frommann. It was his kind, warm-hearted sister, who had shown
me such sympathy in Berlin; the brother was not here less kind.

The Holstener Michelsen, who has a professorship at Jena, assembled a
number of friends one evening, and in a graceful and cordial toast for
me, expressed his sense of the importance of Danish literature, and the
healthy and natural spirit which flourished in it.

In Michelsen's house I also became acquainted with Professor Hase, who,
one evening having heard some of my little stories, seemed filled with
great kindness towards me. What he wrote in this moment of interest on
an album leaf expresses this sentiment:

"Schelling--not he who now lives in Berlin, but he who lives an immortal
hero in the world of mind--once said: 'Nature is the visible spirit.'
This spirit, this unseen nature, last evening was again rendered visible
to me through your little tales. If on the one hand you penetrate deeply
into the mysteries of nature; know and understand the language of birds,
and what are the feelings of a fir-tree or a daisy, so that each seems
to be there on its own account, and we and our children sympathize with
them in their joys and sorrows; yet, on the other hand, all is but the
image of mind; and the human heart in its infinity, trembles and throbs
throughout. May this fountain in the poet's heart, which God has lent
you, still for a time pour forth this refreshingly, and may these
stories in the memories of the Germanic nations, become the legends of
the people!" That object, for which as a writer of poetical fictions, I
must strive after, is contained in these last lines.

It is also to Hase and the gifted improvisatore, Professor Wolff of
Jena, to whom I am most indebted for the appearance of a uniform German
edition of my writings.

This was all arranged on my arrival at Leipzig: several hours of
business were added to my traveller's mode of life. The city of
bookselling presented me with her bouquet, a sum of money; but she
presented me with even more. I met again with Brockhaus, and passed
happy hours with Mendelssohn, that glorious man of genius. I heard
him play again and again; it seemed to me that his eyes, full of soul,
looked into the very depths of my being. Few men have more the stamp
of the inward fire than he. A gentle, friendly wife, and beautiful
children, make his rich, well-appointed house, blessed and pleasant.
When he rallied me about the Stork, and its frequent appearance in my
writings, there was something so childlike and amiable revealed in this
great artist!

I also met again my excellent countryman Gade, whose compositions have
been so well received in Germany. I took him the text for a new opera
which I had written, and which I hope to see brought out on the German
stage. Gade had written the music to my drama of Agnete and the Merman,
compositions which were very successful. Auerbach, whom I again found
here, introduced me to many agreeable circles. I met with the composer
Kalliwoda, and with K hne, whose charming little son immediately won my

On my arrival at Dresden I instantly hastened to my motherly friend,
the Baroness von Decken. That was a joyous hearty welcome! One equally
cordial I met with from Dahl. I saw once more my Roman friend, the
poet with word and color, Reineck, and met the kind-hearted Bendemann.
Professor Grahl painted me. I missed, however, one among my olden
friends, the poet Brunnow. With life and cordiality he received me the
last time in his room, where stood lovely flowers; now these grew over
his grave. It awakens a peculiar feeling, thus for once to meet on
the journey of life, to understand and love each other, and then to
part--until the journey for both is ended.

I spent, to me, a highly interesting evening, with the royal family, who
received me with extraordinary favor. Here also the most happy domestic
life appeared to reign--a number of amiable children, all belonging to
Prince Johann, were present. The least of the Princesses, a little girl,
who knew that I had written the history of the Fir-tree, began very
confidentially with--"Last Christmas we also had a Fir-tree, and it
stood here in this room!" Afterwards, when she was led out before the
other children, and had bade her parents and the King and Queen good
night, she turned round at the half-closed door, and nodding to me in a
friendly and familiar manner, said I was her Fairy-tale Prince.

My story of Holger Danske led the conversation to the rich stores of
legends which the north possesses. I related several, and explained the
peculiar spirit of the fine scenery of Denmark. Neither in this royal
palace did I feel the weight of ceremony; soft, gentle eyes shone
upon me. My last morning in Dresden was spent with the Minister von
K÷nneritz, where I equally met with the most friendly reception.

The sun shone warm: it was spring who was celebrating her arrival, as
I rolled out of the dear city. Thought assembled in one amount all the
many who had rendered my visits so rich and happy: it was spring around
me, and spring in my heart.

In Prague I had only one acquaintance, Professor Wiesenfeldt. But a
letter from Dr. Carus in Dresden opened to me the hospitable house of
Count Thun. The Archduke Stephan received me also in the most gracious
manner; I found in him a young man full of intellect and heart.
Besides it was a very interesting point of time when I left Prague. The
military, who had been stationed there a number of years, were hastening
to the railway, to leave for Poland, where disturbances had broken out.
The whole city seemed in movement to take leave of its military friends;
it was difficult to get through the streets which led to the railway.
Many thousand soldiers were to be accommodated; at length the train was
set in motion. All around the whole hill-side was covered with people;
it looked like the richest Turkey carpet woven of men, women and
children, all pressed together, head to head, and waving hats and
handkerchiefs. Such a mass of human beings I never saw before, or at
least, never at one moment surveyed them: such a spectacle could not be

We travelled the whole night through wide Bohemia: at every town stood
groups of people; it was as though all the inhabitants had assembled
themselves. Their brown faces, their ragged clothes, the light of their
torches, their, to me, unintelligible language, gave to the whole a
stamp of singularity. We flew through tunnel and over viaduct; the
windows rattled, the signal whistle sounded, the steam horses snorted--I
laid back my head at last in the carriage, and fell asleep under the
protection of the god Morpheus.

At Olm tz, where we had fresh carnages, a voice spoke my name--it was
Walter Goethe! We had travelled together the whole night without knowing
it. In Vienna we met often. Noble powers, true genius, live in Goethe's
grandsons, in the composer as well as in the poet; but it is as if the
greatness of their grandfather pressed upon them. Liszt was in Vienna,
and invited me to his concert, in which otherwise it would have been
impossible to find a place. I again heard his improvising of Robert! I
again heard him, like a spirit of the storm, play with the chords: he
is an enchanter of sounds who fills the imagination with astonishment.
Ernst also was here; when I visited him he seized the violin, and this
sang in tears the secret of a human heart.

I saw the amiable Grillparzer again, and was frequently with the kindly
Castelli, who just at this time had been made by the King of Denmark
Knight of the Danebrog Order. He was full of joy at this, and begged me
to tell my countrymen that every Dane should receive a hearty welcome
from him. Some future summer he invited me to visit his grand country
seat. There is something in Castelli so open and honorable, mingled with
such good-natured humor, that one must like him: he appears to me the
picture of a thorough Viennese. Under his portrait, which he gave me, he
wrote the following little improvised verse in the style so peculiarly
his own:

  This portrait shall ever with loving eyes greet thee,
    From far shall recall the smile of thy friend;
  For thou, dearest Dane, 'tis a pleasure to meet thee,
    Thou art one to be loved and esteemed to the end.

Castelli introduced me to Seidl and Bauernfeld. At the Danisti
ambassador's, Baron von L÷wenstern, I met Zedlitz. Most of the shining
stars of Austrian literature I saw glide past me, as people on a railway
see church towers; you can still say you have seen them; and still
retaining the simile of the stars, I can say, that in the Concordia
Society I saw the entire galaxy. Here was a host of young growing
intellects, and here were men of importance. At the house of Count
Szechenye, who hospitably invited me, I saw his brother from Pest, whose
noble activity in Hungary is known. This short meeting I account one
of the most interesting events of my stay in Vienna; the man revealed
himself in all his individuality, and his eye said that you must feel
confidence in him.

At my departure from Dresden her Majesty the Queen of Saxony had asked
me whether I had introductions to any one at the Court of Vienna, and
when I told her that I had not, the Queen was so gracious as to write
a letter to her sister, the Archduchess Sophia of Austria. Her imperial
Highness summoned me one evening, and received me in the most gracious
manner. The dowager Empress, the widow of the Emperor Francis I., was
present, and full of kindness and friendship towards me; also Prince
Wasa, and the hereditary Archduchess of Hesse-Darmstadt. The remembrance
of this evening will always remain dear and interesting to me. I read
several of my little stories aloud--when I wrote them, I thought least
of all that I should some day read them aloud in the imperial palace.

Before my departure I had still another visit to make, and this was to
the intellectual authoress, Frau von Weissenthurn. She had just left a
bed of sickness and was still suffering, but wished to see me. As though
she were already standing on the threshold of the realm of shades, she
pressed my hand and said this was the last time we should ever see each
other. With a soft motherly gaze she looked at me, and at parting her
penetrating eye followed me to the door.

With railway and diligence my route now led towards Triest. With steam
the long train of carriages flies along the narrow rocky way, following
all the windings of the river. One wonders that with all these abrupt
turnings one is not dashed against the rock, or flung down into the
roaring stream, and is glad when the journey is happily accomplished.
But in the slow diligence one wishes its more rapid journey might
recommence, and praise the powers of the age.

At length Triest and the Adriatic sea lay before us; the Italian
language sounded in our ears, but yet for me it was not Italy, the land
of my desire. Meanwhile I was only a stranger here for a few hours; our
Danish consul, as well as the consuls of Prussia and Oldenburg, to whom
I was recommended, received me in the best possible manner. Several
interesting acquaintances were made, especially with the Counts
O'Donnell and Waldstein, the latter for me as a Dane having a peculiar
interest, as being the descendant of that unfortunate Confitz Ulfeld
and the daughter of Christian IV., Eleanore, the noblest of all Danish
women. Their portraits hung in his room, and Danish memorials of that
period were shown me. It was the first time I had ever seen Eleanore
Ulfeld's portrait, and the melancholy smile on her lips seemed to say,
"Poet, sing and free from chains which a hard age had cast upon him,
for whom to live and to suffer was my happiness!" Before Oehlenschl ger
wrote his Dina, which treats of an episode in Ulfeld's life, I was at
work on this subject, and wished to bring it on the stage, but it was
then feared this would not be allowed, and I gave it up--since then I
have only written four lines on Ulfeld:--

  Thy virtue was concealed, not so thy failings,
  Thus did the world thy greatness never know,
  Yet still love's glorious monument proclaims it,
  That the best wife from thee would never go.

On the Adriatic sea I, in thought, was carried back to Ulfeld's time and
the Danish islands. This meeting with Count Waldstein and his ancestor's
portrait brought me back to my poet's world, and I almost forgot that
the following day I could be in the middle of Italy. In beautiful mild
weather I went with the steam-boat to Ancona.

It was a quiet starlight night, too beautiful to be spent in sleep. In
the early morning the coast of Italy lay before us, the beautiful blue
mountains with glittering snow. The sun shone warmly, the grass and the
trees were so splendidly green. Last evening in Trieste, now in Ancona,
in a city of the papal states,--that was almost like enchantment! Italy
in all its picturesque splendor lay once more before me; spring had
ripened all the fruit trees so that they had burst forth into blossom;
every blade of grass in the field was filled with sunshine, the elm
trees stood like caryatides enwreathed with vines, which shot forth
green leaves, and above the luxuriance of foliage rose the wavelike
blue mountains with their snow covering. In company with Count Paar from
Vienna, the most excellent travelling companion, and a young nobleman
from Hungary, I now travelled on with a vetturino for five days:
solitary, and more picturesque than habitable inns among the
Apennines were our night's quarters. At length the Campagna, with its
thought-awakening desolation, lay before us.

It was the 31st of March, 1846, when I again saw Rome, and for the third
time in my life should reach this city of the world. I felt so happy,
so penetrated with thankfulness and joy; how much more God had given me
than a thousand others--nay, than to many thousands! And even in this
very feeling there is a blessing--where joy is very great, as in
the deepest grief, there is only God on whom one can lean! The first
impression was--I can find no other word for it--adoration. When day
unrolled for me my beloved Rome, I felt what I cannot express more
briefly or better than I did in a letter to a friend: "I am growing here
into the very ruins, I live with the petrified gods, and the roses are
always blooming, and the church bells ringing--and yet Rome is not
the Rome it was thirteen years ago when I first was here. It is as if
everything were modernized, the ruins even, grass and bushes are cleared
away. Everything is made so neat; the very life of the people seems to
have retired; I no longer hear the tamborines in the streets, no longer
see the young girls dancing their Saltarella, even in the Campagna
intelligence has entered by invisible railroads; the peasant no longer
believes as he used to do. At the Easter festival I saw great numbers of
the people from the Campagna standing before St. Peters whilst the
Pope distributed his blessing, just as though they had been Protestant
strangers. This was repulsive to my feelings, I felt an impulse to kneel
before the invisible saint. When I was here thirteen years ago, all
knelt; now reason had conquered faith. Ten years later, when the
railways will have brought cities still nearer to each other, Rome will
be yet more changed. But in all that happens, everything is for the
best; one always must love Rome; it is like a story book, one is always
discovering new wonders, and one lives in imagination and reality."

The first time I travelled to Italy I had no eyes for sculpture; in
Paris the rich pictures drew me away from the statues; for the first
time when I came to Florence and stood before the Venus de Medicis, I
felt as Thorwaldsen expressed, "the snow melted away from my eyes;" and
a new world of art rose before me. And now at my third sojourn in Rome,
after repeated wanderings through the Vatican, I prize the statues far
higher than the paintings. But at what other places as at Rome, and to
some degree in Naples, does this art step forth so grandly into life!
One is carried away by it, one learns to admire nature in the work of
art, the beauty of form becomes spiritual.

Among the many clever and beautiful things which I saw exhibited in the
studios of the young artists, two pieces of sculpture were what most
deeply impressed themselves on my memory; and these were in the studio
of my countryman Jerichau. I saw his group of Hercules and Hebe, which
had been spoken of with such enthusiasm in the Allgemeine Zeitung and
other German papers, and which, through its antique repose, and its
glorious beauty, powerfully seized upon me. My imagination was filled
by it, and yet I must place Jerichau's later group, the Fighting Hunter,
still higher. It is formed after the model, as though it had sprung from
nature. There lies in it a truth, a beauty, and a grandeur which I am
convinced will make his name resound through many lands!

I have known him from the time when he was almost a boy. We were both of
us born on the same island: he is from the little town of Assens. We met
in Copenhagen. No one, not even he himself, knew what lay within him;
and half in jest, half in earnest, he spoke of the combat with himself
whether he should go to America and become a savage, or to Rome and
become an artist--painter or sculptor; that he did not yet know. His
pencil was meanwhile thrown away: he modelled in clay, and my bust was
the first which he made. He received no travelling stipendium from
the Academy. As far as I know, it was a noble-minded woman, an artist
herself, unprovided with means, who, from the interest she felt for the
spark of genius she observed in him, assisted him so far that he reached
Italy by means of a trading vessel. In the beginning he worked in
Thorwaldsen's atelier. During a journey of several years, he has
doubtless experienced the struggles of genius and the galling fetters of
want; but now the star of fortune shines upon him. When I came to Rome,
I found him physically suffering and melancholy. He was unable to bear
the warm summers of Italy; and many people said he could not recover
unless he visited the north, breathed the cooler air, and took
sea-baths. His praises resounded through the papers, glorious works
stood in his atelier; but man does not live on heavenly bread alone.
There came one day a Russian Prince, I believe, and he gave a commission
for the Hunter. Two other commissions followed on the same day.
Jerichau came full of rejoicing and told this to me. A few days after
he travelled with his wife, a highly gifted painter, to Denmark, from
whence, strengthened body and soul, he returned, with the winter, to
Rome, where the strokes of his chisel will resound so that, I hope, the
world will hear them. My heart will beat joyfully with them!

I also met in Rome, Kolberg, another Danish sculptor, until now only
known in Denmark, but there very highly thought of, a scholar of
Thorwaldsen's and a favorite of that great master. He honored me by
making my bust. I also sat once more with the kindly K chler, and saw
the forms fresh as nature spread themselves over the canvas.

I sat once again with the Roman people in the amusing puppet theatre,
and heard the children's merriment. Among the German artists, as well as
among the Swedes and my own countrymen, I met with a hearty reception.
My birth-day was joyfully celebrated. Frau von Goethe, who was in
Rome, and who chanced to be living in the very house where I brought
my Improvisatore into the world, and made him spend his first years of
childhood, sent me from thence a large, true Roman bouquet, a fragrant
mosaic. The Swedish painter, S÷dermark, proposed my health to the
company whom the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians had invited me to meet.
From my friends I received some pretty pictures and friendly keepsakes.

The Hanoverian minister, K stner, to whose friendship I am indebted
for many pleasant hours, is an extremely agreeable man, possessed of no
small talent for poetry, music, and painting. At his house I really saw
for the first time flower-painting elevated by a poetical idea. In one
of his rooms he has introduced an arabesque of flowers which presents
us with the flora of the whole year. It commences with the first spring
flowers, the crocus, the snow drop, and so on; then come the summer
flowers, then the autumn, and at length the garland ends with the red
berries and yellow-brown leaves of December.

Constantly in motion, always striving to employ every moment and to see
everything, I felt myself at last very much affected by the unceasing
sirocco. The Roman air did not agree with me, and I hastened, therefore,
as soon as I had seen the illumination of the dome and the _girandola_,
immediately after the Easter festival, through Terracina to Naples.
Count Paar travelled with me. We entered St. Lucia: the sea lay before
us; Vesuvius blazed. Those were glorious evenings! moonlight nights! It
was as if the heavens had elevated themselves above and the stars were
withdrawn. What effect of light! In the north the moon scatters silver
over the water: here it was gold. The circulating lanterns of the
lighthouse now exhibited their dazzling light, now were totally
extinguished. The torches of the fishing-boats threw their
obelisk-formed blaze along the surface of the water, or else the boat
concealed them like a black shadow, below which the surface of the water
was illuminated. One fancied one could see to the bottom, where fishes
and plants were in motion. Along the street itself thousands of lights
were burning in the shops of the dealers in fruit and fish. Now came a
troop of children with lights, and went in procession to the church of
St. Lucia. Many fell down with their lights; but above the whole stood,
like the hero of this great drama of light, Vesuvius with his blood-red
flame and his illumined cloud of smoke.

I visited the islands of Capri and Ischia once more; and, as the heat
of the sun and the strong sirocco made a longer residence in Naples
oppressive to me, I went to Sarrento, Tasso's city, where the foliage of
the vine cast a shade, and where the air appears to me lighter. Here I
wrote these pages. In Rome, by the bay of Naples and amid the Pyrenees,
I put on paper the story of my life.

The well-known festival of the Madonna dell' Arco called me again to
Naples, where I took up my quarters at an hotel in the middle of the
city, near the Toledo Street, and found an excellent host and hostess.
I had already resided here, but only in the winter. I had now to see
Naples in its summer heat and with all its wild tumult, but in what
degree I had never imagined. The sun shone down with its burning heat
into the narrow streets, in at the balcony door. It was necessary to
shut up every place: not a breath of air stirred. Every little corner,
every spot in the street on which a shadow fell was crowded with working
handicraftsmen, who chattered loudly and merrily; the carriages rolled
past; the drivers screamed; the tumult of the people roared like a sea
in the other streets; the church bells sounded every minute; my opposite
neighbor, God knows who he was, played the musical scale from morning
till evening. It was enough to make one lose one's senses!

The sirocco blew its boiling-hot breath and I was perfectly overcome.
There was not another room to be had at St. Lucia, and the sea-bathing
seemed rather to weaken than to invigorate me. I went therefore again
into the country; but the sun burned there with the same beams; yet
still the air there was more elastic, yet for all that it was to me
like the poisoned mantle of Hercules, which, as it were, drew out of me
strength and spirit. I, who had fancied that I must be precisely a child
of the sun, so firmly did my heart always cling to the south, was forced
to acknowledge that the snow of the north was in my body, that the snow
melted, and that I was more and more miserable.

Most strangers felt as I myself did in this, as the Neapolitans
themselves said, unusually hot summer; the greater number went away. I
also would have done the same, but I was obliged to wait several days
for a letter of credit; it had arrived at the right time, but lay
forgotten in the hands of my banker. Yet there was a deal for me to see
in Naples; many houses were open to me. I tried whether the will were
not stronger than the Neapolitan heat, but I fell into such a nervous
state in consequence, that till the time of my departure I was obliged
to lie quietly in my hot room, where the night brought no coolness. From
the morning twilight to midnight roared the noise of bells, the cry
of the people, the trampling of horses on the stone pavement, and the
before-mentioned practiser of the scale--it was like being on the rack;
and this caused me to give up my journey to Spain, especially as I was
assured, for my consolation, that I should find it just as warm there as
here. The physician said that, at this season of the year, I could not
sustain the journey.

I took a berth in the steam-boat Castor for Marseilles; the vessel was
full to overflowing with passengers; the whole quarter-deck, even the
best place, was occupied by travelling carriages; under one of these I
had my bed laid; many people followed my example, and the quarter-deck
was soon covered with mattresses and carpets. It blew strongly; the wind
increased, and in the second and third night raged to a perfect storm;
the ship rolled from side to side like a cask in the open sea; the waves
dashed on the ship's side and lifted up their broad heads above the
bulwarks as if they would look in upon us. It was as if the carriages
under which we lay would crush us to pieces, or else would be washed
away by the sea. There was a lamentation, but I lay quiet, looked up at
the driving clouds, and thought upon God and my beloved. When at length
we reached Genoa most of the passengers went on land: I should have been
willing enough to have followed their example, that I might go by Milan
to Switzerland, but my letter of credit was drawn upon Marseilles and
some Spanish sea-ports. I was obliged to go again on board. The sea was
calm; the air fresh; it was the most glorious voyage along the charming
Sardinian coast. Full of strength and new life I arrived at Marseilles,
and, as I here breathed more easily, my longing to see Spain was again
renewed. I had laid the plan of seeing this country last, as the bouquet
of my journey. In the suffering state in which I had been I was obliged
to give it up, but I was now better. I regarded it therefore as a
pointing of the finger of heaven that I should be compelled to go to
Marseilles, and determined to venture upon the journey. The steam-vessel
to Barcelona had, in the meantime, just sailed, and several days must
pass before another set out. I determined therefore to travel by short
days' journeys through the south of France across the Pyrenees.

Before leaving Marseilles, chance favored me with a short meeting with
one of my friends from the North, and this was Ole Bull! He came from
America, and was received in France with jubilees and serenades, of
which I was myself a witness. At the _table d'h te_ in the _H tel des
Empereurs_, where we both lodged, we flew towards each other. He told
me what I should have expected least of all, that my works had also many
friends in America, that people had inquired from him about me with the
greatest interest, and that the English translations of my romances had
been reprinted, and spread through the whole country in cheap editions.
My name flown over the great ocean! I felt myself at this thought quite
insignificant, but yet glad and happy; wherefore should I, in preference
to so many thousand others, receive such happiness?

I had and still have a feeling as though I were a poor peasant lad over
whom a royal mantle is thrown. Yet I was and am made happy by all this!
Is _this_ vanity, or does it show itself in these expressions of my joy?

Ole Bull went to Algiers, I towards the Pyrenees. Through Provence,
which looked to me quite Danish, I reached Nismes, where the grandeur
of the splendid Roman amphitheatre at once carried me back to Italy. The
memorials of antiquity in the south of France I have never heard praised
as their greatness and number deserve; the so-called _Maison Quar e_ is
still standing in all its splendor, like the Theseus Temple at Athens:
Rome has nothing so well preserved.

In Nismes dwells the baker Reboul, who writes the most charming
poems: whoever may not chance to know him from these is, however, well
acquainted with him through Lamartine's Journey to the East. I found him
at the house, stepped into the bakehouse, and addressed myself to a
man in shirt sleeves who was putting bread into the oven; it was Reboul
himself! A noble countenance which expressed a manly character greeted
me. When I mentioned my name, he was courteous enough to say he was
acquainted with it through the Revue de Paris, and begged me to visit
him in the afternoon, when he should be able to entertain me better.
When I came again I found him in a little room which might be called
almost elegant, adorned with pictures, casts and books, not alone French
literature, but translations of the Greek classics. A picture on the
wall represented his most celebrated poem, "The Dying Child," from
Marmier's _Chansons du Nord_. He knew I had treated the same subject,
and I told him that this was written in my school days. If in the
morning I had found him the industrious baker, he now was the poet
completely; he spoke with animation of the literature of his country,
and expressed a wish to see the north, the scenery and intellectual life
of which seemed to interest him. With great respect I took leave of a
man whom the Muses have not meanly endowed, and who yet has good sense
enough, spite of all the homage paid him, to remain steadfast to his
honest business, and prefer being the most remarkable baker of Nismes to
losing himself in Paris, after a short triumph, among hundreds of other

By railway I now travelled by way of Montpelier to Cette, with that
rapidity which a train possesses in France; you fly there as though
for a wager with the wild huntsman. I involuntarily remembered that at
Basle, at the corner of a street where formerly the celebrated Dance
of Death was painted, there is written up in large letters "Dance of
Death," and on the opposite corner "Way to the Railroad." This singular
juxtaposition just at the frontiers of France, gives play to the fancy;
in this rushing flight it came into my thoughts; it seemed as though the
steam whistle gave the signal to the dance. On German railways one does
not have such wild fancies.

The islander loves the sea as the mountaineer loves his mountains!

Every sea-port town, however small it may be, receives in my eyes a
peculiar charm from the sea. Was it the sea, in connexion perhaps with
the Danish tongue, which sounded in my ears in two houses in Cette, that
made this town so homelike to me? I know not, but I felt more in Denmark
than in the south of France. When far from your country you enter a
house where all, from the master and mistress to the servants, speak
your own language, as was here the case, these home tones have a
real power of enchantment: like the mantle of Faust, in a moment they
transport you, house and all, into your own land. Here, however, there
was no northern summer, but the hot sun of Naples; it might even have
burnt Faust's cap. The sun's rays destroyed all strength. For many years
there had not been such a summer, even here; and from the country round
about arrived accounts of people who had died from the heat: the very
nights were hot. I was told beforehand I should be unable to bear the
journey in Spain. I felt this myself, but then Spain was to be the
bouquet of my journey. I already saw the Pyrenees; the blue mountains
enticed me--and one morning early I found myself on the steam-boat. The
sun rose higher; it burnt above, it burnt from the expanse of waters,
myriads of jelly-like medusas filled the river; it was as though the
sun's rays had changed the whole sea into a heaving world of animal
life; I had never before seen anything like it. In the Languedoc canal
we had all to get into a large boat which had been constructed more for
goods than for passengers. The deck was coveted with boxes and trunks,
and these again occupied by people who sought shade under umbrellas.
It was impossible to move; no railing surrounded this pile of boxes and
people, which was drawn along by three or four horses attached by long
ropes. Beneath in the cabins it was as crowded; people sat close to each
other, like flies in a cup of sugar. A lady who had fainted from the
heat and tobacco smoke, was carried in and laid upon the only unoccupied
spot on the floor; she was brought here for air, but here there was
none, spite of the number of fans in motion; there were no refreshments
to be had, not even a drink of water, except the warm, yellow water
which the canal afforded. Over the cabin windows hung booted legs, which
at the same time that they deprived the cabin of light, seemed to give a
substance to the oppressive air. Shut up in this place one had also the
torment of being forced to listen to a man who was always trying to say
something witty; the stream of words played about his lips as the canal
water about the boat. I made myself a way through boxes, people, and
umbrellas, and stood in a boiling hot air; on either side the prospect
was eternally the same, green grass, a green tree, flood-gates--green
grass, a green tree, flood-gates--and then again the same; it was enough
to drive one insane.

At the distance of a half-hour's journey from Beziers we were put on
land; I felt almost ready to faint, and there was no carriage here,
for the omnibus had not expected us so early; the sun burnt infernally.
People say the south of France is a portion of Paradise; under the
present circumstances it seemed to me a portion of hell with all its
heat. In Beziers the diligence was waiting, but all the best places were
already taken; and I here for the first, and I hope for the last
time, got into the hinder part of such a conveyance. An ugly woman in
slippers, and with a head-dress a yard high, which she hung up, took her
seat beside me; and now came a singing sailor who had certainly drunk
too many healths; then a couple of dirty fellows, whose first manoeuvre
was to pull off their boots and coats and sit upon them, hot and dirty,
whilst the thick clouds of dust whirled into the vehicle, and the sun
burnt and blinded me. It was impossible to endure this farther than
Narbonne; sick and suffering, I sought rest, but then came gensdarmes
and demanded my passport, and then just as night began, a fire must
needs break out in the neighboring village; the fire alarm resounded,
the fire-engines rolled along, it was just as though all manner of
tormenting spirits were let loose. From here as far as the Pyrenees
there followed repeated demands for your passport, so wearisome that
you know nothing like it even in Italy: they gave you as a reason, the
nearness to the Spanish frontiers, the number of fugitives from thence,
and several murders which had taken place in the neighborhood: all
conduced to make the journey in my then state of health a real torment.

I reached Perpignan. The sun had here also swept the streets of people,
it was only when night came that they came forth, but then it was like a
roaring stream, as though a real tumult were about to destroy the
town. The human crowd moved in waves beneath my windows, a loud shout
resounded; it pierced through my sick frame. What was that?--what did
it mean? "Good evening, Mr. Arago!" resounded from the strongest voices,
thousands repeated it, and music sounded; it was the celebrated
Arago, who was staying in the room next to mine: the people gave him a
serenade. Now this was the third I had witnessed on my journey. Arago
addressed them from the balcony, the shouts of the people filled the
streets. There are few evenings in my life when I have felt so ill as on
this one, the tumult went through my nerves; the beautiful singing which
followed could not refresh me. Ill as I was, I gave up every thought of
travelling into Spain; I felt it would be impossible for me. Ah, if I
could only recover strength enough to reach Switzerland! I was filled
with horror at the idea of the journey back. I was advised to hasten as
quickly as possible to the Pyrenees, and there breathe the strengthening
mountain air: the baths of Vernet were recommended as cool and
excellent, and I had a letter of introduction to the head of the
establishment there. After an exhausting journey of a night and some
hours in the morning, I have reached this place, from whence I sent
these last sheets. The air is so cool, so strengthening, such as I have
not breathed for months. A few days here have entirely restored me, my
pen flies again over the paper, and my thoughts towards that wonderful
Spain. I stand like Moses and see the land before me, yet may not tread
upon it. But if God so wills it, I will at some future time in the
winter fly from the north hither into this rich beautiful land, from
which the sun with his sword of flame now holds me back.

Vernet as yet is not one of the well-known bathing places, although it
possesses the peculiarity of being visited all the year round. The most
celebrated visitor last winter was Ibrahim Pacha; his name still lives
on the lips of the hostess and waiter as the greatest glory of the
establishment; his rooms were shown first as a curiosity. Among the
anecdotes current about him is the story of his two French words,
_merci_ and _tr s bien_, which he pronounced in a perfectly wrong

In every respect, Vernet among baths is as yet in a state of innocence;
it is only in point of great bills that the Commandant has been able to
raise it on a level with the first in Europe. As for the rest, you live
here in a solitude, and separated from the world as in no other bathing
place: for the amusement of the guests nothing in the least has been
done; this must be sought in wanderings on foot or on donkey-back among
the mountains; but here all is so peculiar and full of variety, that the
want of artificial pleasures is the less felt. It is here as though the
most opposite natural productions had been mingled together,--northern
and southern, mountain and valley vegetation. From one point you will
look over vineyards, and up to a mountain which appears a sample card
of corn fields and green meadows, where the hay stands in cocks; from
another you will only see the naked, metallic rocks with strange crags
jutting forth from them, long and narrow as though they were broken
statues or pillars; now you walk under poplar trees, through small
meadows, where the balm-mint grows, as thoroughly Danish a production
as though it were cut out of Zealand; now you stand under shelter of the
rock, where cypresses and figs spring forth among vine leaves, and see a
piece of Italy. But the soul of the whole, the pulses which beat audibly
in millions through the mountain chain, are the springs. There is
a life, a babbling in the ever-rushing waters! It springs forth
everywhere, murmurs in the moss, rushes over the great stones. There is
a movement, a life which it is impossible for words to give; you hear a
constant rushing chorus of a million strings; above and below you, and
all around, you hear the babbling of the river nymphs.

High on the cliff, at the edge of a steep precipice, lie the remains of
a Moorish castle; the clouds hang where hung the balcony; the path along
which the ass now goes, leads through the hall. From here you can enjoy
the view over the whole valley, which, long and narrow, seems like a
river of trees, which winds among the red scorched rocks; and in the
middle of this green valley rises terrace-like on a hill, the little
town of Vernet, which only wants minarets to look like a Bulgarian town.
A miserable church with two long holes as windows, and close to it a
ruined tower, form the upper portion, then come the dark brown roofs,
and the dirty grey houses with opened shutters instead of windows--but
picturesque it certainly is.

But if you enter the town itself--where the apothecary's shop is, is
also the bookseller's--poverty is the only impression. Almost all the
houses are built of unhewn stones, piled one upon another, and two or
three gloomy holes form door and windows through which the swallows
fly out and in. Wherever I entered, I saw through the worn floor of
the first story down into a chaotic gloom beneath. On the wall hangs
generally a bit of fat meat with the hairy skin attached; it was
explained to me that this was used to rub their shoes with. The
sleeping-room is painted in the most glaring manner with saints, angels,
garlands, and crowns _al fresco_, as if done when the art of painting
was in its greatest state of imperfection.

The people are unusually ugly; the very children are real gnomes; the
expression of childhood does not soften the clumsy features. But a few
hours' journey on the other side of the mountains, on the Spanish side,
there blooms beauty, there flash merry brown eyes. The only poetical
picture I retain of Vernet was this. In the market-place, under a
splendidly large tree, a wandering pedlar had spread out all his
wares,--handkerchiefs, books and pictures,--a whole bazaar, but the
earth was his table; all the ugly children of the town, burnt through by
the sun, stood assembled round these splendid things; several old women
looked out from their open shops; on horses and asses the visitors to
the bath, ladies and gentlemen, rode by in long procession, whilst
two little children, half hid behind a heap of planks; played at being
cocks, and shouted all the time, "kekkeriki!"

Far more of a town, habitable and well-appointed, is the garrison town
of Villefranche, with its castle of the age of Louis XIV., which lies a
few hours' journey from this place. The road by Olette to Spain passes
through it, and there is also some business; many houses attract your
eye by their beautiful Moorish windows carved in marble. The church
is built half in the Moorish style, the altars are such as are seen
in Spanish churches, and the Virgin stands there with the Child, all
dressed in gold and silver. I visited Villefranche one of the first
days of my sojourn here; all the visitors made the excursion with me, to
which end all the horses and asses far and near were brought together;
horses were put into the Commandant's venerable coach, and it was
occupied by people within and without, just as though it had been a
French public vehicle. A most amiable Holsteiner, the best rider of the
company, the well-known painter Dauzats, a friend of Alexander Dumas's,
led the train. The forts, the barracks, and the caves were seen; the
little town of Cornelia also, with its interesting church, was not
passed over. Everywhere were found traces of the power and art of the
Moors; everything in this neighborhood speaks more of Spain than France,
the very language wavers between the two.

And here in this fresh mountain nature, on the frontiers of a land whose
beauty and defects I am not yet to become acquainted with, I will close
these pages, which will make in my life a frontier to coming years,
with their beauty and defects. Before I leave the Pyrenees these written
pages will fly to Germany, a great section of my life; I myself
shall follow, and a new and unknown section will begin.--What may it
unfold?--I know not, but thankfully, hopefully, I look forward. My whole
life, the bright as well as the gloomy days, led to the best. It is like
a voyage to some known point,--I stand at the rudder, I have chosen my
path,--but God rules the storm and the sea. He may direct it otherwise;
and then, happen what may, it will be the best for me. This faith is
firmly planted in my breast, and makes me happy.

The story of my life, up to the present hour, lies unrolled before me,
so rich and beautiful that I could not have invented it. I feel that I
am a child of good fortune; almost every one meets me full of love and
candor, and seldom has my confidence in human nature been deceived.
From the prince to the poorest peasant I have felt the noble human heart
beat. It is a joy to live and to believe in God and man. Openly and full
of confidence, as if I sat among dear friends, I have here related the
story of my life, have spoken both of my sorrows and joys, and have
expressed my pleasure at each mark of applause and recognition, as I
believe I might even express it before God himself. But then, whether
this may be vanity? I know not: my heart was affected and humble at the
same time, my thought was gratitude to God. That I have related it is
not alone because such a biographical sketch as this was desired from me
for the collected edition of my works, but because, as has been already
said, the history of my life will be the best commentary to all my

In a few days I shall say farewell to the Pyrenees, and return through
Switzerland to dear, kind Germany, where so much joy has flowed into my
life, where I possess so many sympathizing friends, where my writings
have been so kindly and encouragingly received, and where also
these sheets will be gently criticized, When the Christmas-tree is
lighted,--when, as people say, the white bees swarm,--I shall be, God
willing, again in Denmark with my dear ones, my heart filled with the
flowers of travel, and strengthened both in body and mind: then will new
works grow upon paper; may God lay his blessing upon them! He will
do so. A star of good fortune shines upon me; there are thousands who
deserve it far more than I; I often myself cannot conceive why I, in
preference to numberless others, should receive so much joy: may it
continue to shine! But should it set, perhaps whilst I conclude these
lines, still it has shone, I have received my rich portion; let it set!
From this also the best will spring. To God and men my thanks, my love!

Vernet (Department of the East Pyrenees), July, 1846.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The True Story of My Life: A Sketch" ***

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