Part 3 out of 6
grandmother." Each time when the harbingers of bad weather showed
themselves, and my sons were on the sea, so that we hung out flags
or lighted beacons as signals, did I think of the words which had
escaped my lips, and which the wicked Heinrich had caught up; I
feared lest our Lord might cause my children to suffer for my
"Be calm, my dear old woman!" said Otto. "Keep for yourself the
holy cross, on the virtue of which you rely; may it remove each
sorrow from your own heart!"
"No, I am guilty of my own sorrow! yours has a stranger laid upon
your heart! Only the sorrow of the guiltless will the cross bear."
The beautiful sentiment which, unconsciously to her, lay in these
words, affected Otto. He accepted the present, preserved it, sought
to calm the old woman, and once more at parting glanced toward the
splendid sea expanse which formed its own boundary.
It was almost evening before he reached the house where Rosalie
awaited him. His last scene with the blind fisher-woman had again
thrown him into his gloomy mood. "After all, she really knows
nothing!" said he to himself. "This Heinrich is my evil angel!
might he only die soon!" It was in Otto's soul as if he could shoot
a ball through Heinrich's heart. "Did he only lie buried under the
heather, and with him my secret! I will have blood! yes, there is
something devilish in man! Were Heinrich only dead! But others live
who know my birth,--my sister! my poor, neglected sister, she who
had the same right to intellectual development as myself! How I
fear this meeting! it will be bitter! I must away. I will hence--
here will my life-germ be stifled! I have indeed fortune--I will
travel! This animated France will drive away these whims, and--I am
away, far removed from my home. In the coming spring I shall be a
stranger among strangers!" And his thoughts melted into a quiet
melancholy. In this manner he reached the hall.
"L'Angleterre jalouse et la Grece homerique,
Toute l'Europe admire, et la jeune Amerique
Se leve et bat des mains du bord des oceans.
Trois jours vous ont suffi pour briser vos entraves.
Vous etes les aines d'une race de braves,
Vous etes les fits des geans!"
V. HUGO, Chants du Crepuscule.
"Politiken, mine Herrer!"
MORTONS' Lystspil: den Hjemkomne Nabob
"In France there is revolution!" was the first piece of information
which Otto related. "Charles X. has flown with his family. This,
they say, is in the German papers."
"Revolution?" repeated Rosalie, and folded her hands. "Unhappy
France! Blood has flowed there, and it again flows. There I lost my
father and my brother. I became a refugee--must seek for myself a
new father-land." She wiped away a tear from her cheek, and sunk
into deep meditation. She knew the horrors of a revolution, and
only saw in this new one a repetition of those scenes of terror
which she had experienced, and which had driven her out into the
world, up into the north, where she struggled on, until at length
she found a home with Otto's grandfather--a resting abode.
Everything great and beautiful powerfully affected Otto's soul;
only in one direction had he shown no interest--in the political
direction, and it was precisely politics which had most occupied
the grandfather in his seclusion. But Otto's soul was too
vivacious, too easily moved, too easily carried away by what lay
nearest him. "One must first thoroughly enter into life, before the
affairs of the world can seize upon us!" said he. "With the greater
number of those who in their early youth occupy themselves with
politics, it is merely affectation. It is with them like the boy
who forces himself to smoke tobacco so as to appear older than he
really is." Beyond his own country, France was the only land which
really interested Otto. Here Napoleon had ruled, and Napoleon's
name had reached his heart--he had grown up whilst this name passed
from mouth to mouth; the name and the deeds of the hero sounded to
him, yet a boy, like a great world adventure. How often had he
heard his grandfather, shaking his head, say, "Yes, now newspaper
writers have little to tell since Napoleon is quiet." And then he
had related to him of the hero at Arcole and among the Pyramids, of
the great campaign against Europe, of the conflagration at Moscow,
and the return from Elba.
Who has not written a play in his childhood? Otto's sole subject
was Napoleon; the whole history of the hero, from the snow-batteries
at Brienne to the rocky island in the ocean. True, this poem was
a wild shoot; but it had sprung from an enthusiastic heart. At
that time he preserved it as a treasure. A little incident which
is connected with it, and is characteristic of Otto's wild outbreaks
of temper when a boy, we will here introduce.
A child of one of the domestics, a little merry boy with whom Otto
associated a good deal, was playing with him in his garret. Otto
was then writing his play. The boy bantered him, pulling the paper
at the same time. Otto forbade him with the threat,--"If thou dost
that again I will throw thee out of the window!" The boy again
immediately pulled at the paper. In a moment Otto seized him by the
waist, swung him toward the open window, and would certainly have
thrown him out, had not Rosalie fortunately entered the room, and,
with an exclamation of horror, seized Otto's arm, who now stood
pale as death and trembling in every limb.
In this manner had Napoleon awoke Otto's interest for France.
Rosalie also spoke, next to her Switzerland, with most pleasure of
this country. The Revolution had livingly affected her, and
therefore her discourse regarding it was living. It even seemed to
the old preacher as though the Revolution were an event which he
had witnessed. The Revolution and Napoleon had often fed his
thoughts and his discourse toward this land. Otto had thus, without
troubling himself the least about politics, grown up with a kind of
interest about France. The mere intelligence of this struggle of
the July days was therefore not indifferent to him. He still only
knew what the horse-dealer had related; nothing of the congregation,
or of Polignac's ministry: but France was to him the mighty world-crater,
which glowed with its splendid eruptions, and which he admired
from a distance.
The old preacher shook his head when Otto imparted this political
intelligence to him. A king, so long as he lived, was in his eyes
holy, let him be whatever sort of a man he might. The actions of a
king, according to his opinion, resembled the words of the Bible,
which man ought not to weigh; they should be taken as they were.
"All authority is from God!" said he. "The anointed one is holy;
God gives to him wisdom; he is a light to whom we must all look
"He is a man like ourselves!" answered Otto. "He is the first
magistrate of the land, and as such we owe him the highest
reverence and obedience. Birth, and not worth, gives him the high
post which he fills. He ought only to will that which is good; to
exercise justice. His duties are equally great with those of his
"But more difficult, my son!" said the old man. "It is nothing, as
a flower, to adorn the garland; more difficult is it to be the hand
which weaves the garland. The ribbon must be tight as well as
gently tied; it must not cut into the stems, and yet it must not be
too loose. Yes, you young men talk according to your wisdom! Yes,
you are wise! quite as wise as the woman who kept a roasted chicken
for supper. She placed it upon a pewter plate upon the glowing
coals, and went out to attend to her affairs. When she returned the
plate was melted, and the chicken lay among the ashes. 'What a wise
cat I have!' said she; 'she has eaten I the plate and left the
chicken!' See, you talk just so, and regard things from the same
foolish point of view. Do not speak like the rest of them in the
city! 'Fear God, and honor the king!' We have nothing to argue with
these two; they transact their business between them! The French
resemble young students; when these have made their examen artium
they imagine they are equal to the whole world: they grow restive,
and give student-feasts! The French must have a Napoleon, who can
give their something to do! If they be left to themselves they will
play mad pranks!"
"Let us first see what the papers really say," replied Otto.
The following day a large letter arrived; it was from Wilhelm:--
"My excellent Otto,--We have all drunk to Otto Thostrup's health. I
raised the glass, and drank the health. The friendship's dissonance
YOU has dissolved itself into a harmonious THOU, and thou thyself
hast given the accord. All at home speak of thee; even the
Kammerjunker's Mamsell chose lately thee, and not her work-box, as
a subject of conversation. The evening as thou drovest over the
Jutland heaths I seated myself at the piano, and played thy whole
journey to my sisters. The journey over the heath I gave them in a
monotonous piece, composed of three tones, quite dissimilar to that
composed by Rousseau. My sisters were near despair; but I told them
it was not more uninteresting than the heath. Sometimes I made a
little flight, a quaver; that was the heath-larks which flew up
into the air. The introduction to the gypsy-chorus in 'Preciosa'
signified the German gypsy-flock. Then came the thema out of
'Jeannot and Collin'--'O, joyous days of childhood!'--and then thou
wast at home. I thundered powerfully down in the bass; that was the
North Sea, the chorus in thy present grand' opera. Thou canst well
imagine that it was quite original.
"For the rest, everything at home remains in its old state. I have
been in Svendborg, and have set to music that sweet poem, 'The
Wishes,' by Carl Bagger. His verses seem to me a little rough; but
something will certainly come out of the fellow! Thy own wishes are
they which he has expressed. Besides this, the astonishing tidings
out of France have given us, and all good people here, an
electrical shock. Yes, thou in thy solitude hast certainly heard
nothing of the brilliant July days. The Parisians have deposed
Charles X. If the former Revolution was a blood-fruit, this one is
a true passionflower, suddenly sprung up, exciting astonishment
through its beauty, and as soon as the work is ended rolling
together its leaves. My cousin Joachim, who as thou knowest is just
now at Paris, has lived through these extraordinary days. The day
before yesterday we received a long, interesting letter from him,
which gave us--of the particulars as well as of the whole--a more
complete idea than the papers can give us. People assemble in
groups round the post-houses to receive the papers as they arrive.
I have extracted from my cousin's letter what has struck me most,
and send thee these extracts in a supplement. Thou canst thus in
thy retirement still live in the world. A thousand greetings from
all here. Thou hast a place in mamma's heart, but not less so in mine.
"Thy friend and brother,
"P. S.--It is true! My sister Sophie begs thee to bring her a stone
from the North Sea. Perhaps thou wilt bring for me a bucket of
water; but it must not incommode thee!"
This hearty letter transported Otto into the midst of the friendly
circle in Funen. The corner of the paper where Wilhelm's name stood
he pressed to his lips. His heart was full of noble friendship.
The extract which Wilhelm had made from his cousin's letter was
short and descriptive. It might be compared with a beautiful poem
translated into good prose.
In the theatre we interest ourselves for struggling innocence; but
we are still more affected when the destiny of a whole nation is to
be decided. It is on this account that "Wilhelm Tell" possesses so
much interest. Not of the single individual is here the question,
but of all. Here is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone.
Greater than the play created by the poet was the effect which this
description of the July days produced upon Otto. This was the
reality itself in which he lived. His heart was filled with
admiration for France, who fought for Liberty the holy fight, and
who, with the language of the sword, had pronounced the anathema of
the age on the enemies of enlightenment and improvement.
The old preacher folded his hands as he heard it; his eyes
sparkled: but soon he shook his head. "May men so judge the
anointed ones of God? 'He who taketh the sword shall perish by the
"The king is for the people," said Otto; "not the people for the
"Louis XVIth's unhappy daughter!" sighed Rosalie; "for the third
time is she driven from her father-land. Her parents and brothers
killed! her husband dishonored! She herself has a mind and heart.
'She is the only man among the Bourbons,'" said Napoleon.
The preacher, with his old-fashioned honesty, and a royalist from
his whole heart, regarded the affair with wavering opinion, and
with fear for the future. Rosalie thought most of those who were
made unhappy of the royal ladies and the poor children. Each
followed the impulse of their own nature, and the instinctive
feeling of their age; thus did Otto also, and therefore was his
soul filled with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm belongs to youth. His
thoughts were busied with dreams of Paris; thither flew his wishes.
"Yes, I will travel!" exclaimed he; "that will give my whole
character a more decided bias: I will and must," added he in
thought. "My sorrow will be extinguished, the recollections of my
childhood be forgotten. Abroad, no terrific figures, as here, will
present themselves to me. My father is dead, foreign earth lies
upon his coffin!"
"But the office--examination!" said the old preacher, "pass that
first. It is always good to have this in reserve, even if thou dost
make no use of it. Only make this year thy philosophicum."
"And in the spring I shall travel," said Otto.
"That depends upon thy guardian, my son!" said the preacher.
Several days passed, and Otto began to feel it solitary in his
home--all moved here in such a confined circle. His mind was
accustomed to a wider sphere of action. He began to grow weary, and
then the hours travel with the snail's pace.
"...minutterna ligesom racka og strarka sig.
Man kanner behof at gore sa med." [Note: Sketches of Every-day Life.]
He thought of his departure.
"Thou must take the road through Lemvig," said Rosalie. "I will
then visit the family there for a few days; it will make them quite
happy to see thee, and I shall then be so much longer with thee.
That thou wilt do, wilt thou not?"
The day was fixed when they should travel.
The evening previous, Otto paid his last visit to the preacher.
They spoke together a long time about the deceased grandfather. The
preacher gave up several papers to Otto; among them also his
father's last letter.
In honor of Otto, a bottle of wine was placed upon the table.
"To thy health, my son!" said the preacher, raising his glass. "We
shall hardly spend another evening together. Thou wilt have much to
learn before thou comest as far as I. The world has more thorn-bushes
than gold-mountains. The times look unsettled. France commences a new
description of campaign in Europe, and certainly will draw along with
it all young men: formerly it was the conquerer Napoleon who led to
the field; now it is the idea of liberty! May the Lord preserve our
good king, and then it will remain well with us! Thou, Otto, wilt fly
out into the wide world--hadst thou only first passed thy examination
for office! But when and where-ever thou mayest fly, remember on all
occasions the words of Scripture.
"We all desire to rule. Phaeton wished to drive the chariot of the
sun, but not understanding how to guide the reins, he set fire to
the countries, precipitated himself from the chariot, and broke his
neck. I have no one in the city of Copenhagen whom I can ask thee
to greet for me. All the friends of my youth are scattered to the
east and to the west. If any of them still be in the city, they
will certainly have forgotten me. But shouldst thou ever go to the
Regent's Court, and smoke with the others a pipe under the tree,
think of me. I have also sat there when I was young like thee; when
the French Revolution drove also the blood quicker through my
veins, and thoughts of freedom caused me to carry my head more
high. The dear old tree! [Author's Note: At the end of the last
century it was felled, and two younger ones, which are now in full
growth, planted in its stead.] Yes, but one does not perceive in
it, as in me, how many years have passed since then!"
He pressed a kiss on Otto's forehead, gave him his blessing, and
Otto was in a melancholy mood; he felt that he had certainly seen
the old man for the last time. When he arrived at home he found
Rosalie busy hacking. The following morning, by earliest dawn, they
were to travel toward Lemvig. Otto had not been there within these
two last years. In old times the journey thither had always been to
him a festival, now it was almost indifferent to him.
He entered his little chamber; for the last time in his life he
should now sleep there. From the next morning commenced, so it
seemed to him, a new chapter in his life. Byron's "Farewell"
sounded in his ears like an old melody:--
"Fare thee well, and if forever,
Still for ever fare thee well."
At break of day the carriage rolled away with him and old Rosalie.
Both were silent; the carriage moved slowly along the deep ruts.
Otto looked back once more. A lark rose, singing above him.
"It will be a beautiful day!" said the coachman; his words and the
song of the lark Rosalie regarded as a good omen for Otto's whole
"Geske.--Have you put syrup in the coffee?
Henrich.--Yes, I have.
Geske.--Be so good, dear madams, be so kind as to be contented."
HOLBERG'S Political Pewterer.
Lemvig lies, as is well known, on an arm of the Limfjord. The
legend relates, that in the Swedish war a troop of the enemy's
cavalry compelled a peasant here to mount his horse and serve as a
guide. Darkness came on; they found themselves already upon the
high sand-banks. The peasant guided his horse toward a steep
precipice; in a farm-house on the other side of the fjord they
perceived a light. "That is Lemvig," said the peasant; "let us
hasten!" He set spurs to his horse, the Swedes followed his
example, and they were precipitated into the depth: the following
morning their corpses were found. The monument of this bold Lemvig
peasant consists of this legend and in the songs of the poets; and
these are the monuments which endure the longest. Through this
legend the bare precipice receives an intellectual beauty, which
may truly compare itself with the naturally beautiful view over the
city and the bay.
Rosalie and Otto drove into the town. It was two years since he had
been here; everything seemed to him, during this time, to have
shrunk together: wherever he looked everything was narrow and
small. In his recollection, Lemvig was very much larger.
They now drew up before the merchant's house. The entrance was
through the shop, which was decorated with wooden shoes, woolen
gloves, and iron ware. Close within the door stood two large casks
of tea. Over the counter hung an extraordinary stuffed fish, and a
whole bunch of felt hats, for the use of both sexes. It was a
business en gros and en detail, which the son of the house managed.
The father himself was number one in Lemvig; he had ships at sea,
and kept open house, as they call it, in the neighborhood.
The sitting-room door opened, and the wife herself, a stout, square
woman, with an honest, contented countenance, stepped out and
received the guests with kisses and embraces. Alas! her good
Jutland pronunciation cannot be given in writing.
"O, how glorious that the Mamsell comes and brings Mr. Thostrup
with her! How handsome he is become! and how grown! Yes, we have
his mark still on the door." She drew Otto along with her. "He has
shot up more than a quarter of a yard!"
He looked at the objects which surrounded him.
"Yes," said she, "that instrument we have had since you were last
here; it is a present to Maren from her brother. She will now sing;
you something. It is astonishing what a voice she has! Last
Whitsuntide she sang in the church with the musical people; she
sang louder than the organ!"
Otto approached the sofa, over which a large piece of needlework
hung, in a splendid gold frame. "That is Maren's name-sampler,"
said the mistress of the house. "It is very pretty. See! there
stand all our names! Can Mr. Thostrup guess who this is? Here are
all the figures worked in open stitch. That ship, there, is the
Mariane, which was called after me. There you see the Lemvig Arms--
a tower which stands on the waves; and here in the corner, in
regular and irregular stitches, is her name, 'Maren, October the
24th, 1828.' Yes, that is now two years since. She has now worked a
cushion for the sofa, with a Turk upon it. It went the round of the
city--every one wished to see it; it is astonishing how Maren can
use her hands!"
Rosalie inquired after the excellent girl.
"She is preparing the table," said the lady. "Some good friends are
coming to us this evening. The secretary will also come; he will
then play with Maren. You will doubtless, in Copenhagen, have heard
much more beautiful music; ours is quite simple, but they sing from
notes: and I think, most likely the secretary will bring his
musical-box with him. That is splendid! Only lately he sang a
little song to the box, that was much better than to the larger
instrument; for I must say he has not the strong chest which Maren
The whole family assembled themselves for the first time at the
dinner-table. The two persons who took the lowest places at table
appeared the most original; these were the shopman and the aunt.
Both of them had only at dinner the honor of being with the family;
they were quite shut out from the evening parties.
The shopman, who in the shop was the first person, and who could
there speak a few words, sat here like a quiet, constrained
creature; his hair combed toward one side, and exhibiting two red,
swollen hands: no sound escaped his lips; kissing the hand of the
lady of the house, at coming and going, was all he did beside eat.
The aunt, who was not alone called so by the family, but by the
whole of Lemvig, was equally sparing of her words, but her face was
constantly laughing. A flowered, red cotton cap fitted close to the
thin face, giving something characteristic to the high cheek-bones
and hanging lip. "She assisted in the household, but could take no
part in genteel company," as the lady expressed herself. She could
never forget how, at the Reformation Festival, when only the
singers sang in the church, aunt began singing with them out of her
book, so that the churchwarden was forced to beg her to be silent;
but this she took very ill, and declared she had as notch right as
the others to praise God, and then sang in defiance. Had she not
been "aunt," and not belonged to the family to which she did, she
would certainly have been turned out.
She was now the last person who entered and took her place at
table. Half an hour had she been sought after before she was found.
She had stood at the end of the garden, before the wooden trellis.
Grass had been mown in the field behind the garden, and made into a
rick; to see this she had gone to the trellis, the odor had
agreeably affected her; she had pressed her face against the
trellis-work, and from contemplation of it had fallen into thought,
or rather out of thought. There she was found, and the dreamer was
shaken into motion. She was again right lively, and laughed each
time that Otto looked at her. He had his seat between Maren and the
lady of the house, at the upper end of the table. Maren was a very
pretty girl--little, somewhat round, white and red, and well-dressed.
A vast number of bows, and a great variety of colors, were her weak
side. She was reading at this time "Cabal and Love."
"Thou art reading it in German!" said the mother.
"Yes, it must be a beautiful piece. I speak German very well, but
when I wish to read it I get on too slowly with it: I like to get
to the end of a book!"
The husband had his place at the head of the table. A little black
cap sat smoothly on his gray hair, and a pair of clever eyes
sparkled in his countenance. With folded hands he prayed a silent
prayer, and then bowed his head, before he allowed the dinner to be
served. Rosalie sat beside him. Her neighbor on the right seemed
very talkative. He was an old soldier, who in his fortieth year had
gone as lieutenant with the land's troops, and had permission to
wear the uniform, and therefore sat there in a kind of military
coat, and with a stiff cravat. He was already deep in Polignac's
ministry and the triumph of the July days; but he had the
misfortune to confound Lafitte and Lafayette together. The son of
the house only spoke of bull-calves. The lady at the table was a
little mamsell from Holstebro, who sat beside him, dressed like a
girl for Confirmation, in a black silk dress and long red shawl.
She was in grand array, for she was on a visit. This young lady
understood dress-making, and could play upon the flute; which,
however, she never did without a certain bashfulness: besides this,
she spoke well, especially upon melancholy events. The bottle of
wine only circulated at the upper end of the table; the shopman and
aunt only drank ale, but it foamed gloriously: it had been made
"He is an excellent man, the merchant, whom you have received as
guardian, Mr. Thostrup," said the master of the house. "I am in
connection with him."
"But it is strange," interrupted the lady, "that only one out of
his five daughters is engaged. If the young ladies in Copenhagen do
not go off better than that, what shall we say here?"
"Now Mr. Thostrup can take one of them," said the husband. "There
is money, and you have fortune also; if you get an office, you can
live in floribus!"
Maren colored, although there was no occasion for coloring; she
even cast down her eyes.
"What should Mr. Thostrup do with one of them?" pursued the wife.
"He shall have a Jutland maiden! There are pretty young ladies
enough here in the country-seats," added she, and laid the best
piece of meat upon his plate.
"Do the royal company give pretty operas?" asked Maren, and gave
another direction to the conversation.
Otto named several, among others Der Freischutz.
"That must be horrible!" said the lieutenant. "They say the wolf-glen
is so natural, with a waterfall, and an owl which flutters its wings.
Burgomaster Mimi has had a letter from a young lady in Aarhuus,
who has been in Copenhagen, and has seen this piece. It was so
horrible that she held her hand before her face, and almost
fainted. They have a splendid theatre!"
"Yes, but our little theatre was very pretty!" said the lady of the
house. "It was quite stupid that the dramatic company should have
been unlucky. The last piece we gave is still clear in my
recollection; it was the 'Sandseslose.' I was then ill; but
because I wished so much to see it, the whole company was so
obliging as to act it once more, and that, too, in our sitting-room,
where I lay on the sofa and could look on. That was an extraordinary
mark of attention from them! Only think--the burgomaster himself
acted with them!"
In honor of the strangers, coffee was taken after dinner in the
garden, where, under the plum-trees, a swing was fixed. Somewhat
later a sailing party was arranged. A small yacht belonging to the
merchant lay, just unladen, near the bridge of boats.
Otto found Maren and the young lady from Holstebro sitting in the
arbor. Somewhat startled, they concealed something at his entrance.
"The ladies have secrets! May one not be initiated?"
"No, not at all!" replied Maren.
"You have manuscript poems in the little book!" said Otto, and
boldly approached. "Perhaps of your own composition?"
"O, it is only a memorandum-book," said Maren, blushing. "When I
read anything pretty I copy it, for we cannot keep the books."
"Then I may see it!" said Otto. His eye fell upon the written
"So fliessen nun zwei Wasser
Wohl zwischen mir und Dir
Das eine sind die Thranen,
Das andre ist der See!"
[Note: Des Knaben Wunderhorn.]
he read. "That is very pretty! 'Der verlorne Schwimmer,' the poem
is called, is it not?"
"Yes, I have copied it out of the secretary's memorandum-book; he
has so many pretty pieces."
"The secretary has many splendid things!" said Otto, smiling.
"Memorandum-book, musical snuff-box"--
"And a collection of seals!" added the young lady from Holstebro.
"I must read more!" said Otto; but the ladies fled with glowing
"Are you already at your tricks, Mr. Thostrup?" said the mother,
who now entered the garden. "Yes, you do not know how Maren has
thought of you--how much she has spoken of you. You never wrote to
us; we never heard anything of you, except when Miss Rosalie
related us something out of your letters. That was not nice of you!
You and Maren were always called bride and bridegroom. You were a
pair of pretty children, and your growth has not been disadvantageous
to either of you."
At four o'clock the evening party assembled--a whole swarm of young
ladies, a few old ones, and the secretary, who distinguished
himself by a collection of seals hanging to a long watch-chain, and
everlastingly knocking against his body; a white shirt-frill, stiff
collar, and a cock's comb, in which each hair seemed to take an
affected position. They all walked down to the bay. Otto had some
business and came somewhat later. Whilst he was crossing, alone,
the court-yard, he heard, proceeding from the back of the house, a
fearful, wild cry, which ended in violent sobbing. Terrified, he
went nearer, and perceived the aunt sitting in the middle of a
large heap of turf. The priestess at Delphi could not have looked
more agitated! Her close cap she had torn from her head; her long,
gray hair floated over her shoulders; and with her feet she stamped
upon the turf, like a willful child, until the pieces flew in
various directions. When she perceived Otto she became calm in a
moment, but soon she pressed her thin hands before her face and
sobbed aloud. To learn from her what was the matter was not to be
"O, she is only quarrelsome!" said the girl, to whom Otto had
turned for an explanation. "Aunt is angry because she was not
invited to sail with the company. She always does so,--she can be
quite wicked! Just lately, when she should have helped me to wring
out the sheets, she always twisted them the same way that I did, so
that we could never get done, and my hands hurt me very much!"
Otto walked down to the bay. The sail was unfurled, the secretary
brought out his musical-box, and, accompanied by its tones, they
glided in the burning sunshine over the water.
On the other side tea was to be drunk, and then Maren was to sing.
Her mother asked her to sing the song with the strong tones, so
that Otto might hear what a voice she had.
She sang "Dannevang." Her voice had uncommon power, but no style,
"Such a voice, I fancy, you have not heard in the theatre at
Copenhagen?" said the secretary, with dogmatical gravity.
"You might wish yourself such a chest!" said the lieutenant.
The secretary should now sing; but he had a little cold, which he
"You must sing to the musical-box!" said the lady, and her wish was
fulfilled. If Maren had only commenced, one might have believed it
a trial of skill between Boreas and Zephyr.
They now walked about, drank tea, and after this they were to
return to the house, there to partake of fish and roast meat, a
piece of boxed ham, and other good things.
Otto could by no means be permitted to think of leaving them the
following morning; he must remain a few days, and gather strength,
so that in Copenhagen he might apply himself well to work. But only
one day would he enjoy all the good things which they heaped upon
him. He yearned for other people, for a more intellectual circle.
Two years before he had agreed splendidly with them all, had found
them interesting and intellectual; now he felt that Lemvig was a
little town, and that the people were good, excellent people.
The following play again brought capital cookery, good foul, and
good wine--that was to honor Mr. Thostrup. His health was drunk,
Maren was more confidential, the aunt had forgotten her trouble,
and again sat with a laughing face beside the constrained shopman.
They must, it is true, make a little haste over their dinner, for
the fire-engine was to be tried; and this splendor, they
maintained, Otto must see, since he so fortunately chanced to lie
"How can my mother think that this will give Mr. Thostrup
pleasure?" said Maren. "There is nothing to see in it."
"That has given him pleasure formerly!" answered the mother. "It
is, also, laughable when the boys run underneath the engine-rain,
and the stream comes just in their necks."
She spoke of the former Otto and of the present one--he was become
so Copenhagenish, so refined and nice, as well in the cut of his
clothes as in his manners; yet she still found an opportunity of
giving him a little hint to further refinement. Only think! he took
the sugar for his coffee with his fingers!
"But where are the sugar-tongs, the massive silver sugar-tongs?"
asked she. "Maren, dost thou allow him to take the sugar with his
"That is more convenient!" answered Otto. "I do that always."
"Yes, but if strangers had been here," said the hostess, in a
friendly but teaching tone, "we must, like that grand lady you know
of, have thrown the sugar out of the window."
"In the higher circles, where people have clean fingers, they make
use of them!" said Otto. "There would be no end of it if one were
to take it with the sugar-tongs."
"They are of massive silver!" said the lady, and weighed them in
Toward evening Rosalie went into the garden under the plum trees.
"These, also, remind me of my mountains," said she; "this is the
only fruit which will properly flourish there. Lemvig lies, like La
Locle, in a valley," and she pointed, smiling, to the surrounding
sand-hills. "How entirely different it is here from what it is at
home on thy grandfather's estate! There I have been so accustomed
to solitude, that it is almost too lively for me here. One
diversion follows another."
It was precisely this which Otto did not like. These amusements of
the small towns wearied him, and he could not delight himself with
them, no longer mingle in this life.
He wished to set out early the following morning. It would be too
exhausting to drive along the dry road in the sun's heat, they all
declared; he must wait until the afternoon, then it would be
cooler; it was, also, far pleasanter to travel in the night.
Rosalie's prayers decided him. Thus, after dinner and coffee, the
horses should be put into the carriage.
It was the last day. Maren was somewhat in a grave mood. Otto must
write in her album. "He would never come to Lemvig again," said
she. As children they had played with each other. Since he went to
Copenhagen she had, many an evening, seated herself in the swing
near the summer-house and thought of him. Who knows whether she
must not have done so when she copied out of the secretary's
memorandum-book, the verses,--
"So fliessen nun zwei Wasser
Wohl zwischen mir and Dir?"
The sea certainly flows between Aarhuus and Copenhagen.
"Maren will perhaps go over for the winter," said the mother; "but
we dare not speak too much about it, for it is not yet quite
settled. It will really make her gayer! lately she has been very
much inclined to melancholy, although God knows that we have denied
her no pleasure!"
There now arrived a quantity of letters from different
acquaintance, and from their acquaintance: if Mr. Thostrup would
have the goodness to take care of this to Viborg, these to Aarhuus,
and the others as far as Copenhagen. It was a complete freight,
such as one gets in little towns, just as though no post went
through the country.
The carriage stopped before the door.
Rosalie melted into tears. "Write to me!" said she. "Thee I shall
never see again! Greet my Switzerland when thou comest there!"
The others were merry. The lady sang,--
"O could I, like a cloud, but fly!"
The young lady from Holstebro bowed herself before him with an
Album-leaf its her hand, upon which she must beg Mr. Thostrup to
write her something. Maren gave him her hand, blushed and drew
back: but as the carriage rolled away she waved her while
handkerchief through the open window: "Farewell! Farewell!"
"Stop! cried Patroclus, with mighty, thundering voice."--WILSTER'S Iliad.
The parting with Rosalie, the hospitality of the family, and their
sincere sympathy, touched Otto; he thought upon the last days, upon
his whole sojourn in his home. The death of his grandfather made
this an important era in his life. The quiet evening and the
solitary road inclined him still more to meditation.
How cheering and interesting had been a visit to Lemvig in former
times! Then it furnished matter for conversation with Rosalie for
many weeks; it now lay before him a subject of indifference. The
people were certainly the same, therefore the change must have
taken place in himself. He thought of Copenhagen, which stood so
high, and of the people there.
"After all, the difference is not so great!" said he. "In
Copenhagen the social foci are more numerous, the interests more
varied; each day brings a fresh topic of conversation, and one can
choose one's society. The multitude, on the contrary, has something
citizenish; it obtrudes itself even from beneath the ball-dress
which shows itself at court; it is seen in the rich saloon of the
wholesale merchant, as well as in the house of the brandy
distiller, whose possessions give to him and his two brewers the
right of election. It is the same food which is presented to us; in
the small towns one has it on earthenware, in Copenhagen on china.
If one had only the courage, in the so-called higher classes, to
break through the gloss which life in a greater circle, which
participation in the customs of the world, has called forth, one
should soon find in many a lady of rank, in many a nobleman who
sits not alone in the theatre, on the first bench, merely that
empty common earthenware; and that, as with the merchant's wife in
Lemvig, a dejeuner or a soiree, like some public event, will
occupy the mind before and after its occurrence. A court-ball, at
which either the son or daughter has figured, resembles the most
brilliant success in an examination for office. We laugh at the
authorities of Lemvig, and yet with us the crowd runs after nothing
but authorities and newspapers. This is a certain state of
innocence. How many a poor officer or student must play the
subordinate part of the shopman at the table of the rich, and
gratefully kiss the hand of the lady of the house because she has
the right of demanding gratitude? And in the theatre, with the
multitude, what does not 'an astonishing chest' do? A strength of
voice which can penetrate right through the leather of the mind
gains stormy applause, whilst taste and execution can only be
appreciated by the few. The actor can be certain of applause if he
only thunder forth his parting reply. The comedian is sure of a
shout of bravo if he puts forth an insipidity, and rubs his legs
together as if replying with spirit and humor. The massive plate in
the house gives many a lady the boldness to teach that in which she
herself might perhaps have been instructed. Many a lady, like the
Mamsell from Holstebro, dresses always in silk and a long shawl,
and if one asks after her profession one finds it consists at most
in dress-making; perhaps she does not even possess the little
accompanying talent of playing the flute. How many people do not
copy, like Maren, out of other people's memorandum-books, and do
not excel musical-boxes! still one hears a deal of musical snuff-box
music, and is waited upon by voices which are equally as insignificant
as the secretary's."
These were pretty much Otto's reflections, and certainly it was a
good feeling which lay at the bottom of them. Let us remember in
our judgment that he was so young, and that he had only known
Copenhagen _one_ year; otherwise he would most certainly have
thought _quite differently_.
Night spread itself over the heath, the heavens were clear. Slowly
the carriage wound along through the deep sand. The monotonous
sound, the unchanging motion, all rendered Otto sleepy. A falling
star shot like a fire column across the sky--this woke him for a
moment; he soon again bowed his head and slept, fast and deep. It
was an hour past midnight, when he was awoke by a loud cry. He
started up--the fire burnt before them; and between it and the
horse stood two figures, who had taken hold of the leather reins.
Close beside them was a cart, under which was placed a sort of bed,
on which slept a woman and some children.
"Will you drive into the soup-kettle?" asked a rough voice, whilst
another scolded in a gibberish which was unintelligible to Otto.
It had happened to the coachman as to him, only that the coachman
had fallen asleep somewhat later; the horses had lost their track,
and uncertain, as they had long been, they were now traversing the
impassable heath. A troop of the so-called Scavengers, who wander
through these districts a nomadic race, had here taken up their
quarters for the night, had made a fire and hung the kettle over
it, to cook some pieces of a lamb they had stolen on their journey.
"They were about half a mile from the highway," said an elderly
woman who was laying some bushes of heath under the kettle.
"Half a mile?" replied a voice from the other side of the cart, and
Otto remarked a man who, wrapped in a large gray riding-cloak, had
stretched himself out among the heather. "It is not a quarter of a
mile to the highway if people know how to direct their course
The pronunciation of the man was somewhat foreign, but pure, and
free from the gibberish which the others employed in their speech.
The voice seemed familiar to Otto, his ear weighed each syllable,
and his blood ran quicker through his veins: "It is the German
Heinrich, the evil angel of my life!" he felt, and wrapt himself
closer in his mantle, so that his countenance was concealed.
A half-grown lad came forward and offered himself as a guide.
"But the lad must have two marks!" said the woman.
Otto nodded assent, and glanced once more toward the man in whom he
believed he recognized the German Heinrich; the man had again
carelessly stretched himself among the heath, and did not seem
inclined to enter into farther discourse.
The woman desired the payment in advance, and received it. The boy
led the horses toward one side; at the moment the fire flare up
between the turf-sods, a great dog, with a loose cord about his
neck, sprang forward and ran barking after the carriage, which now
travelled on over the heath in the gloomy night.
"Poetry does not always express sorrow; the rainbow can also arch
across a cloudless blue firmament."--JEAN PAUL.
We again find ourselves in Copenhagen, where we meet with Otto, and
may every day expect Wilhelm, Miss Sophie, and the excellent mamma;
they would only stay a few weeks. To learn tidings of their
arrival, Otto determined to pay a visit where they were expected;
we know the house, we were present at the Christmas festival: it
was here that Otto received his noble pedigree.
We will now become somewhat better acquainted with the family. The
husband had a good head, as people sat, had an excellent wine-cellar,
and was, as one of the friends maintained, a good l'hombre player.
But the soul of the house, the animating genius, which drew into
this circle all that possessed life and youth, was the wife.
Beautiful one could by no means call her, but, enchanted by her
natural loveliness, her mind, and her unaffectedness, you forgot
this in a few moments. A rare facility in appreciating the comic of
every-day life, and a good-humored originality in its representation,
always afforded her rich material for conversation. It was as if Nature,
in a moment of thoughtlessness, had formed an insipid countenance, but
immediately afterward strove to make good her fault by breathing into
it a soul, which, even through pale blue eyes, pale cheeks, and ordinary
features, could make her beauty felt.
When Otto entered the room he heard music. He listened: it must be
either Weyse or Gerson.
"It is the Professor Weyse," said the servant, and Otto opened the
door softly, without knocking.
The astral-lamp burnt upon the table; upon the sofa sat two young
ladies. The mistress of the house nodded Otto a friendly welcome,
but then smiling laid her finger on her lips, as a sign of silence,
and pointed to a chair, on which he seated himself, and listened to
the soft tones, which, like spirits, floated from the piano at
which the musician sat. It was as if the slumbering thoughts and
feelings of the soul, which in every breast find a response, even
among the most opposite nations, had found a voice and language.
The fantasies died away in a soft, spiritual piano. Thus lightly
has Raphael breathed the Madonna di Foligno upon the clouds; she
rests there as a soap-bubble rests upon velvet. That dying away of
the tomes resembled the thoughts of the lover when his eye closes,
and the living dream of his heart imperceptibly merges and vanishes
in sleep. Reality is over.
Here also the tones ceased.
"Der Bettelvogt von Ninive
Zog hinab zum Genfersee,
[Author's Note: An old popular German song.]
commenced the musician once more, with an originality and spirit
which influenced the whole company. Far too soon did he again break
off, after he had enchanted all ears by his own treasures, as well
as by the curiosities of the people's life in the world of sound.
Only when he was gone did admiration find words; the fantasies
still echoed in every heart.
"His name deserves to be known throughout Europe!" said the
gracious lady; "how few people in the world know Weyse and Kuhlau!"
"That is the misfortune of a musician being born in a small
country," said Otto. "His works become only manuscript for friends;
his auditory extends only from Skagen to Kiel: there the door is
"One must console one's self that everything great and good becomes
at length known," said the cousin of the family, who is known to us
by his verses for the Christmas-tree. "The nations will become
acquainted with everything splendid in the kingdom of mind, let it
bloom in a small or in a large country. Certainly during this time
the artist may have died, but then he must receive compensation in
"I truly believe," returned the gracious lady, "that he would wish
a little in advance here below, where it is so ordered that the
immortal must bow himself before the mortal."
"Certainly," replied Otto; "the great men of the age are like
mountains; they it is which cause the land to be seen from afar,
and give it importance, but in themselves they are bare and cold;
their heights are never properly known."
"Very beautiful," said the lady; "you speak like a Jean Paul."
At this moment the door opened, and all were surprised by the
entrance of Miss Sophie, Wilhelm, and the dear mamma. They were
not expected before the following evening. They had travelled the
whole day through Zealand.
"We should have been here to dinner," said Sophie, "but my brother
could not get his business finished in Roeskelde; then he had
forgotten to order horses, and other little misadventures occurred:
six whole hours we remained there. Mamma contracted quite a passion
there--she fell fairly in love with a young girl, the pretty Eva."
"Yes, she is a nice creature!" said the old lady. "Had I not
reason, Mr. Thostrup? You and my Wilhelm had already made her
interesting to me. She has something so noble, so refined, which
one so rarely meets with in the lower class; she deserves to come
among educated people."
"Otto, what shall our hearts say," exclaimed Wilhelm, "when my good
mother is thus affected?"
They assembled round the tea-table. Wilhelm addressed Otto with the
confidential "thou" which Otto himself had requested.
"We will drink together in tea and renew our brotherhood."
Otto smiled, but with such a strangely melancholy air, and spoke
not a word.
"He's thinking about the old grandfather," thought Wilhelm, and
laid his hand upon his friend's shoulder. "The Kammerjunker and his
ladies greet thee!" said he. "I believe the Mamsell would willingly
lay thee in her own work-box, were that to be done."
Otto remained quiet, but in his soul there was a strange commotion.
It would be a difficult thing to explain this motive, which
belonged to his peculiarity of mind; it entered among the mysteries
of the soul. The multitude call it in individuals singularity, the
psychologist finds a deeper meaning in it, which the understanding
is unable to fathom. We have examples of men, whose strength of
mind and body were well known, feeling faint at the scent of a
rose; others have been thrown into a convulsive state by touching
gray paper. This cannot be explained; it is one of the riddles of
Nature. A similar relaxing sensation Otto experienced when he, for
the first time, heard himself addressed as "thou" by Wilhelm. It
seemed to him as though the spiritual band which encircled them
loosened itself, and Wilhelm became a stranger. It was impossible
for Otto to return the "thou," yet, at the same time, he felt the
injustice of his behavior and the singularity, and wished to
struggle against it; he mastered himself, attained a kind of
eloquence, but no "thou" would pass his lips.
"To thy health, Otto," said Wilhelm, and pushed his cup against
"Health!" said Otto, with a smile.
"It is true," began the cousin, "I promised you the other day to
bring my advertisements with me; the first volume is closed." And
he drew from his pocket a book in which a collection of the most
original Address-Gazette advertisements, such as one sees daily,
"I have one for you," said the lady; "I found it a little time
since. 'A woman wishes for a little child to bottle.' Is not that
"Here is also a good one," said Wilhelm, who had turned over the
leaves of the book: "'A boy of the Mosaic belief may be apprenticed
to a cabinet-maker, but he need not apply unless he will eat
everything that happens to be in the house.' That is truly a hard
condition for the poor lad."
"Almost every day," said the cousin, "one may read, 'For the play
of to-day or to-morrow is a good place to be had in the third story
in the Christenbernikov Street.' The place is a considerable
distance from the theatre."
"Theatre!" exclaimed the master of the house, who now entered to
take his place at the tea-table, "one can soon hear who has that
word in his mouth; now is he again at the theatre! The man can
speak of nothing else. There ought, ready, to be a fine imposed,
which he should pay each time he pronounces the word theatre. I
would only make it a fine of two skillings, and yet I dare promise
that before a month was over he would be found to pay in fines his
whole pocket-money, and his coat and boots besides. It is a real
mania with the man! I know no one among my young friends," added
he, with an ironical smile at Wilhelm,--"no, not one, who has such
a hobby-horse as our good cousin."
"Here thou art unjust to him!" interrupted his wife; "do not place
a fine upon him, else I will place thee in a vaudeville! Thy life
is in politics; our cousin's in theatrical life; Wilhelm's in
thorough-bass; and Mr. Thostrup's in learned subjects. Each of you
is thus a little nail in the different world-wheels; whoever
despises others shows that he considers his wheel the first, or
imagines that the world is a wheelbarrow, which goes upon one
wheel! No, it is a more complicated machine."
Later in the evening, when the company broke up, Otto and Wilhelm
"I do not think," said Wilhelm, "that thou hast yet said thou to
me. Is it not agreeable to thee?"
"It was my own wish, my own request," replied Otto. "I have not
remarked what expressions I have employed." He remained silent.
Wilhelm himself seemed occupied with unusual thoughts, when he
suddenly exclaimed: "Life is, after all, a gift of blessings! One
should never make one's self sorrows which do not really exist!
'Carpe diem,' said old Horace."
"That will we!" replied Otto; "but now we must first think of our
They pressed each other's hands and parted.
"But I have heard no thou!" said Wilhelm to himself "He is an
oddity, and yet I love him! In this consists, perhaps, my own
He entered his room, where the hostess had been cleaning,
and had arranged the books and papers in the nicest order. Wilhelm
truly called it disorder; the papers in confusion and the books in
a row. The lamp even had a new place; and this was called order!
Smiling, he seated himself at the piano; it was so long since they
had said "Good day" to each other! He ran over the keys several
times, then lost himself in fantasies. "That is lovely!" he
exclaimed. "But it is not my property! What does it belong to? It
melts into my own feelings!" He played it again. It was a thema out
of "Tancredi," therefore from Rossini, even the very composer whom
our musical friends most looked down upon; how could he then guess
who had created those tones which now spoke to his heart? His whole
being he felt penetrated by a happiness, a love of life, the cause
of which he knew not. He thought of Otto with a warmth which the
latter's strange behavior did not deserve. All beloved beings
floated so sweetly before his mind. This was one of those moments
which all good people know; one feels one's self a member of the
great chain of love which binds creation together.
So long as the rose-bud remains folded together it seems to be
without fragrance; yet only one morning is required, and the fine
breath streams from the crimson mouth. It is only one moment; it is
the commencement of a new existence, which already has lain long
concealed in the bud: but one does not see the magic wand which
works the change. This spiritual contrast, perhaps, took place in
the past hour; perhaps the last evening rays which fell upon the
leaves concealed this power! The roses of the garden must open;
those of the heart follow the same laws. Was this love? Love is, as
poets say, a pain; it resembles the disease of the mussel, through
which pearls are formed. But Wilhelm was not sick; he felt himself
particularly full of strength and enjoyment of life. The poet's
simile of the mussel and the pearl sounds well, but it is false.
Most poets are not very learned in natural history; and, therefore,
they are guilty of many errors with regard to it. The pearl is
formed on the mussel not through disease; when an enemy attacks her
she sends forth drops in her defense, and these change into pearls.
It is thus strength, and not weakness, which creates the beautiful.
It would be unjust to call love a pain, a sickness; it is an energy
of life which God has planted in the human breast; it fills our
whole being like the fragrance which fills each leaf of the rose,
and then reveals itself among the struggles of life as a pearl of
These were Wilhelm's thoughts; and yet it was not perfectly clear
to him that he loved with his whole soul, as one can only love
The following forenoon he paid a visit to Professor Weyse.
"You are going to Roeskelde, are you not?" asked Wilhelm. "I have
heard you so often play the organ here in Our Lady's church, I
should very much like to hear you there, in the cathedral. If I
were to make the journey, would you then play a voluntary for me?"
"You will not come!" said the musician.
"I shall come!" answered Wilhelm, and kept his word. Two days after
this conversation he rolled through the streets of Roeskelde.
"I am come for a wager! I shall hear Weyse play the organ!" said he
to the host, although there was no need for an apology.
Bulwer in his romance, "The Pilgrims of the Rhine," has with
endless grace and tenderness called forth a fairy world. The little
spirits float there as the breath of air floats around the material
reality; one is forced to believe in their existence. With a genius
powerful as that which inspired Bulwer, glorious as that which
infused into Shakespeare the fragrance we find breathed over the
"Midsummer-night's Dream," did Weyse's tones fill Wilhelm; the deep
melodies of the organ in the old cathedral had indeed attracted him
to the quiet little town! The powerful tones of the heart summoned
him! Through them even every day things assumed a coloring, an
expression of beauty, such as Byron shows us in words, Thorwaldsen
in the hard stone, Correggio in colors.
We have by Goethe a glorious poem, "Love a Landscape-painter." The
poet sits upon a peak and gazes before him into the mist, which,
like canvas spread upon the easel, conceals all heights and
expanses; then comes the God of Love and teaches him how to paint a
picture on the mist. The little one now sketches with his rosy
fingers a picture such as only Nature and Goethe give us. Were the
poet here, we could offer him no rock on which he might seat
himself, but something, through legends and songs, equally
beautiful. He would then sing,--I seated myself upon the mossy
stone above the cairn; the mist resembled outstretched canvas. The
God of Love commenced on this his sketch. High up he painted a
glorious still, whose rays were dazzling! The edges of the clouds
he made as of gold, and let the rays penetrate through them; then
painted he the fine light boughs of fresh, fragrant trees; brought
forth one hill after the other. Behind these, half-concealed, lay a
little town, above which rose a mighty church; two tall towers with
high spires rose into the air; and below the church, far out, where
woods formed the horizon, drew he a bay so naturally! it seemed to
play with the sunbeams as if the waves splashed up against the
coast. Now appeared flowers; to the fields and meadows he gave the
coloring of velvet and precious stones; and on the other side of
the bay the dark woods melted away into a bluish mist. "I can
paint!" said the little one; "but the most difficult still remains
to do." And he drew with his delicate finger, just where the rays
of the sun fell most glowingly, a maiden so gentle, so sweet, with
dark blue eyes and cheeks as blooming as the rosy fingers which
formed the picture. And see! a breeze arose; the leaves of the
trees quivered; the expanse of water ruffled itself; the dress of
the maiden was gently stirred; the maiden herself approached: the
picture itself was a reality! And thus did the old royal city
present itself before Wilhelm's eyes, the towers of the cathedral,
she tay, the far woods, and--Eva!
The first love of a pure heart is holy! This holiness may be
indicated, but not described! We return to Otto.
"A man only gains importance by a poet's fancy, when his genius
vividly represents to our imagination a clearer, but not an
ennobled image of men and objects which have an existence; then
alone he understands how to idealize."--H. HERTZ.
We pass on several weeks. It was toward the end of September, the
examen philosophicum was near. Preparations for this had been
Otto's excuse for not yet having visited the family circle of his
guardian, the merchant Berger. This was, however, brought about by
Otto's finding one day, when he went to speak with his guardian,
the mistress of the house in the same room. We know that there are
five daughters in the house, and that only one is engaged, yet they
are all well-educated girls--domestic girls, as their mother
assured her friend upon more than one occasion.
"So, then, I have at length the honor of making your acquaintance,"
said Mrs. Berger. "this visit, truly, is not intended either for me
or the children, but still you must now drink a cup of coffee with
us. Within it certainly looks rather disorderly; the girls are
making cloaks for the winter. We will not put ourselves out of the
way for you: you shall be regarded as a member of the family: but
then you must come to us in a friendly way. Every Thursday our
son-in-law dines with us, will you then be contented with our dinner?
Now you shall become acquainted with my daughters."
"And I must to my office," said the husband; "therefore let us
consider Thursday as an appointment. We dine at three o'clock, and
after coffee Laide gives us music."
The lady now conducted Otto into the sitting-room, where he found
the four daughters in full activity with a workwoman. The fifth
daughter, Julle, was, as they had told him, gone to the shops for
patterns: yesterday she had run all over the town, but the patterns
she received were not good.
The lady told him the name of each daughter; their characteristics
he naturally learnt later.
All the five sisters had the idea that they were so extremely
different, and yet they resembled each other to a hair. Adelaide,
or Laide, as she was also called, was certainly the prettiest; that
she well knew also, therefore she would have a fur cape, and no
cloak; her figure should be seen. Christiane was what one might
call a practical girl; she knew how to make use of everything.
Alvilde had always a little attack of the tooth-ache; Julle went
shopping, and Miss Grethe was the bride. She was also musical, and
was considered witty. Thus she said one evening when the house-door
was closed, and groaned dreadfully on its hinges, "See now, we have
port wine after dinner." [Translator's Note: A pun which it is
impossible to translate. The Danish word Portviin according to
sound, may mean either port wine or the creaking of a door.] The
brother, the only son of the house, with whom we shall become
better acquainted, had written down this conceit; "but that was
only to be rude toward her," said Miss Grethe. "Such good ideas as
this I have every hour of the day!"
We ought really to accuse these excellent girls of nothing foolish;
they were very good and wise. The lover, Mr. Svane, was also a
zealous wit; he was so lively, they said. Every one with whom he
became a little familiar he called immediately Mr. Petersen, and
that was so droll!
"Now the father has invited Mr. Thostrup to come on Thursday!" said
the lady. "I also think, if we were to squeeze ourselves a little
together, he might find a place with us in the box; the room is,
truly, very confined."
Otto besought them not to incommode themselves.
"O, it is a large box!" said the lady, but she did not say how many
of them were already in it. Only eleven ladies went from the family
itself. They were obliged to go to the theatre in three parties, so
that people might not think; if they all went together, there was a
mob. One evening, when the box had been occupied by eighteen
persons, beside several twelve-year old children, who had sat in
people's laps, or stood before them, and the whole party had
returned home in one procession, and were standing before the house
door to go in, people streamed together, imagining there was some
alarm, or that some one had fallen into convulsions. "What is the
matter?" they asked, and Miss Grethe immediately replied, "It is a
select company!" [Translator's Note: A select or shut-out company.
We regret that this pun, like the foregoing one, is untransferable
into English.] Since that evening they returned home in separate
"It is really a good box!" said Alvilde; "if we had only other
neighbors! The doors are opening and shutting eternally, and make a
draught which is not bearable for the teeth. And then they speak so
loud! the other night I did not hear a single word of the pretty
song about Denmark."
"But did you lose much through that?" asked Otto, smiling, and soon
they found themselves very much at variance, just as if they had
been old acquaintances. "I do not think much of these patriotic
scraps, where the poet, in his weakness, supports himself by this
beautiful sentiment of patriotism in the people. You will certainly
grant that here the multitude always applauds when it only hears
the word 'Father-land,' or the name of 'Christian IV.' The poet
must give something more; this is a left-handed kind of patriotism.
One would really believe that Denmark were the only country in the
"Fie, Mr. Thostrup!" said the lady: "do you not then love your
"I believe I love it properly!" returned he: "and because it really
possesses so much that is excellent do I desire that only what is
genuine should be esteemed, only what is genuine be prized."
"I agree in the main with Mr. Thostrup," said Miss Grethe, who was
busied in unpicking and turning her cloak, in order, as she herself
said, to spoil it on the other side. "I think he is right! If a
poem is well spoken on the stage, it has always a kind of effect.
It is just the same as with stuffs--they may be of a middling
quality and may have an unfavorable pattern, but if they are worn
by a pretty figure they look well after all!"
"I am often vexed with the public!" said Otto. "It applauds at
improper places, and sometimes exhibits an extraordinary
"Those are 'the lords of the kingdom of mind,'" said Miss Grethe, smiling.
[Note: "We are the lords of the kingdom of mind!
We are the stem which can never decay!"
--Students' Song, by CHRISTIAN WINTHER.]
"No, the _neighbors_!" replied Otto quickly.
At this moment Miss Julle entered. She had been wandering from shop
to shop, she said, until she could bear it no longer! She had had
the stuffs down from all the shelves, and at length had succeeded
so far as to become possessed of eight small pieces--beautiful
patterns, she maintained. And now she knew very well where the
different stuffs were to be had, how wide they were, and how much
the yard. "And whom did I meet?" said she; "only think! down the
middle of East Street came the actor--you know well! Our little
passion! He is really charming off the stage."
"Did you meet him?" said Laide. "That girl is always lucky!"
"Mr. Thostrup," said the mother, presenting him, for the young lady
seemed to forget him entirely, so much was she occupied with this
encounter and her patterns.
Julle bowed, and said she had seen him before: he had heard
Mynster, and had stood near the chair where she sat; he was dressed
in an olive-green coat.
"Then you are acquainted with each other!" said the lady. "She is
the most pious of all the children. When the others rave about
Spindler and Johanne Schoppenhauer, she raves about the clergyman
who confirmed her. You know my son? He became a student a year
before you. He sees you in the club sometimes."
"There you will have seen him more amiable than you will find him
at home," said Adelaide. "Heaven knows he is not gallant toward his
"Sweet Laide, how can you say so!" cried the mother. "You are
always so unjust toward Hans Peter! When you become better
acquainted with him, Mr. Thostrup, you will like him; he is a
really serious young man, of uncorrupted manners. Do you remember,
Laide, how he hissed that evening in the theatre when they gave
that immoral piece? And how angry he is with that 'Red Riding
Hood?' O, the good youth! Besides, in our family, you will soon
meet with an old acquaintance--in a fortnight a lady out of Jutland
will come here. She remains the winter here. Do you not guess who
it is? A little lady from Lemvig!"
"Maren!" exclaimed Otto.
"Yes, truly!" said the lady. "She is said to have such a beautiful
"Yes, in Lemvig," remarked Adelaide. "And what a horrible name she
has! We must christen her again, when she comes. She must be called
Mara, or Massa."
"We could call her Massa Carara!" said Grethe.
"No; she shall be called Maja, as in the 'Every-day Tales,'" said
"I am of Jane's opinion!" said the mother. "We will christen her
again, and call her Maja."
Men are not always what they seem.--LESSING.
Our tale is no creation of fancy; it is the reality in which we
live; bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. Our own time and
the men of our own age we shall see. But not alone will we occupy
ourselves with every-day life, with the moss on the surface; the
whole tree, from the roots to the fragrant leaves, will we observe.
The heavy earth shall press the roots, the moss and bark of every-day
life adhere to the stern, the strong boughs with flowers and leaves
spread themselves out, whilst the sun of poetry shall shine among
them, and show the colors, odor, and singing-birds. But the tree of
reality cannot shoot up so soon as that of fancy, like the enchantment
in Tieck's "Elves." We must seek our type in nature. Often may
there be an appearance of cessation; but that is not the case. It
is even so with our story; whilst our characters, by mutual discourse,
make themselves worthy of contemplation, there arises, as with the
individual branches of the tree, an unseen connection. The branch
which shoots high up in the air, as though it would separate itself
from the mother-stem, only presses forward to form the crown, to lend
uniformity to the whole tree. The lines which diverge from the general
centre are precisely those which produce the harmony.
We shall, therefore, soon see, though these scenes out of every-day
life are no digression from the principal events, nothing
episodical which one may pass over. In order still sooner to arrive
at a clear perception of this assertion, we will yet tarry a few
moments in the house of Mr. Berger, the merchant; but in the mean
time we have advanced three weeks. Wilhelm and Otto had happily
passed their examen philosophicum. The latter had paid several
visits, and was already regarded as an old friend of the family.
The lover already addressed him with his droll "Good day, Mr.
Petersen;" and Grethe was witty about his melancholy glance, which
he was not always able to conquer. She called it "making faces,"
and besought him to appear so on the day of her funeral.
The object of the five sisters' first Platonic love had been their
brother. They had overwhelmed him with caresses and tenderness, had
admired and worshipped him. "The dear little man!" they called him;
they had no other. But Hans Peter was so impolite and teasing
toward the dear sisters, that they were found to resign him so soon
as one of them had a lover. Upon this lover they all clung. Each
one seemed to have a piece of him. He was Grethe's bridegroom,
would be their brother-in-law. They might address him with the
confidential thou, and even give him a little kiss.
Otto's appearance in the family caused these rays to change their
direction. Otto was handsome, and possessed of fortune; either of
which often suffices to bow a female heart. Beauty bribes the
thoughtless; riches, the prudent.
Maren, or as she was here called, Maja, had arrived. The young
ladies had already pulled off some of her bows, arranged her hair
differently, and made one of her silk handkerchiefs into an apron;
but, spite of all this finesse, she still remained the lady from
Lemvig. They could remove no bows from her pronunciation. She had
been the first at home; here she could not take that rank. This
evening she was to see in the theatre, for the first time, the
ballet of the "Somnambule."
"It is French!" said Hans Peter; "and frivolous, like everything
that we have from them."
"Yes, the scene in the second act, where she steps out of the
window," said the merchant; "that is very instructive for youth!"
"But the last act is sweet!" cried the lady. "The second act is
certainly, as Hans Peter very justly observed, somewhat French.
Good heavens! he gets quite red, the sweet lad!" She extended her
hand to him, and nodded, smiling, whereupon Hans Peter spoke very
prettily about the immorality on the stage. The father also made
some striking observation.
"Yes," said the lady, "were all husbands like thee, and all young
men like Hans Peter, they would speak in another tone on the stage,
and dress in another manner. In dancing it is abominable; the
dresses are so short and indecent, just as though they had nothing
on! Yet, after all, we must say that the 'Somnambule' is beautiful.
And, really, it is quite innocent!"
They now entered still deeper into the moral: the conversation
lasted till coffee came.
Maren's heart beat even quicker, partly in expectation of the play,
through hearing of the corruptions of this Copenhagen Sodom. She
heard Otto defend this French piece; heard him speak of
affectation. Was he then corrupted? How gladly would she have heard
him discourse upon propriety, as Hans Peter had done. "Poor Otto!"
thought she; "this is having no relations, but being forced to
struggle on in the world alone."
The merchant now rose. He could not go to the theatre. First, he
had business to attend to; and then he must go to his club, where
he had yesterday changed his hat.
"Nay, then, it has happened to thee as to Hans Peter!" said the
lady. "Yesterday, in the lecture-room, he also got a strange hat.
But, there, thou hast his hat!" she suddenly exclaimed, as her eye
fell upon the hat which her husband held in his hand. "That is Hans
Peter's hat! Now, we shall certainly find that he has thine! You
have exchanged them here at home. You do not know each other's
hats, and therefore you fancy this occurred from home."
One of the sisters now brought the hat which Hans Peter had got in
mistake. Yes, it was certainly the father's. Thus an exchange in
the house, a little intermezzo, which naturally, from its
insignificance, was momentarily forgotten by all except the parties
concerned, for to them it was an important moment in their lives;
and to us also, as we shall see, an event of importance, which has
occasioned us to linger thus long in this circle. In an adjoining
room will we, unseen spirits, watch the father and son. They are
alone; the family is already in the theatre. We may, indeed, watch
them--they are true moralists. It is only a moral drawn from a hat.
But the father's eyes rolled, his cheeks glowed, his words were
sword-strokes, and must make an impression on any disposition as
gentle as his son's; but the son stood quiet, with a firm look and
with a smile on his lips, such as the moral bestows. "You were in
the adjoining room!" said he. "Where it is proper for you to be
there may I also come."
"Boy!" cried the father, and named the place, but we know it not;
neither know we its inhabitants. Victor Hugo includes them in his
"Children's Prayer," in his beautiful poem, "La Priere pour Tous."
The child prays for all, even "for those who sell the sweet name of
love." [Note: "Prie! ...
Pour les femmes echevelees
Qui vendent le doux nom d'amour!"]
"Let us be silent with each other!" said the son. "I am acquainted
with many histories. I know another of the pretty Eva!"--
"Eva!" repeated the father.
We will hear no more! It is not proper to listen. We see the father
and son extend their hands. It appeared a scene of reconciliation.
They parted: the father goes to his business, and Hans Peter to the
theatre, to anger himself over the immorality in the second act of
"L'amour est pour les coeurs,
Ce que l'aurore est pour les fleurs,
Et le printemps pour la nature."--VIGUE.
"Love is a childish disease and like the small-pox. Some die, some
become deformed, others are more or less scarred, while upon others
the disease does not leave any visible trace."--The Alchemist, by
"Be candid, Otto!" said Wilhelm, as he one day visited his friend.
"You cannot make up your mind to say thou to me; therefore let it
be. We are, after all, good friends. It is only a form; although
you must grant that in this respect you are really a great fool."
Otto now explained what an extraordinary aversion he had felt, what
a painful feeling had seized upon him, and made it impossible to
"There you were playing the martyr!" said Wilhelm, laughing. "Could
you not immediately tell me how you were constituted? So are most
men. When they have no trouble, they generally hatch one
themselves; they will rather stand in the cold shadow than in the
warm sunshine, and yet the choice stands open to us. Dear friend,
reflect; now we are both of us on the stream: we shall soon be put
into the great business-bottles, where we shall, like little
devils, stretch and strain ourselves without ever getting out,
until life withdraws from us!" He laid his arm confidentially upon
Otto's shoulder. "Often have I wished to speak with you upon one
point! Yes, I do not desire that you should confess every word,
every thought to me. I already know that I shall be able to prove
to you that the thing lies in a region where it cannot have the
power which you ascribe to it. In the cold zones a venomous bite
does not operate as dangerously as in warmer ones; a sorrow
in childhood cannot overpower us as it does in riper age. Whatever
misfortune may have happened to you when a child, if in your
wildness--you yourself say that you were wild--whatsoever you may
have then done, it cannot, it ought not to influence your whole
life: your understanding could tell you this better than I. At our
age we find ourselves in the land of joy, or we never enter it!"
"You are a happy man!" exclaimed Otto, and gazed sorrowfully
before him. "Your childhood afforded you only joy and hope! Only
think of the solitude in which mine was passed. Among the sand-hills
of the west coast my days glided away: my grandfather was gloomy
and passionate; our old preacher lived only in a past time which
I knew not, and Rosalie regarded the world through the spectacles
of sorrow. Such an environment might well cast a shadow upon my
life-joy. Even in dress, one is strangely remarkable when one comes
from afar province to the capital; first this receives another cut,
and one gradually becomes like those around one. The same thing
happens in a spiritual relation, but one's being and ideas one does
not change so quickly as one's clothes. I have only been a short
time among strangers, and who knows?" added he, with a melancholy
smile, "perhaps I shall come into equilibrium when some really
great misfortune happens to me and very much overpowers me, and
then I may show the same carelessness, the same phlegm as the
"A really great misfortune!" repeated Wilhelm. "You do, indeed, say
something. That would be a very original means of cure, but you are
an original being. Perhaps lay this means you might really be
healed. 'Make no cable out of cobweb!' said a celebrated poet whose
name does not occur to me at this moment. But the thought is good,
you should have it embroidered upon your waistcoat, so that you
might have it before your eyes when you droop your head. Do not
look so grave; we are friends, are we not? Among all my young
acquaintance you are the dearest to me, although there are moments
when I know not how it stands with us. I could confide every secret
to you, but I am not sure that you would be equally open with me.
Do not be angry, my dear friend! There are secrets of so delicate a
nature, that one may not confide them even to the dearest friend.
So long as we preserve _our_ secret it is our prisoner; it is quite
the contrary, however, so soon as we have let it escape us. And
yet, Otto, you are so dear to me, that I believe in you as in my
own heart. This, even now, bears a secret which penetrates me with
joy and love of life! I must speak cut. But you must enter into my
joy, partake in it, or say nothing about it; you have then heard
nothing--nothing! Otto, I love! therefore am I happy, therefore is
there sunshine in my heart, life joy in my veins! I love Eva, the
beautiful lovely Eva!"
Otto pressed his hand, but preserved silence.
"No, not so!" cried Wilhelm. "Only speak a word! Do you I'm in a
conception of the world which has opened before me?"
"Eva is beautiful! very beautiful!" said Otto, slowly. "She is
innocent and good. What can one wish for more? I can imagine how
she fills your whole heart! But will she do so always? She will not
always remain young, always lovely! Has she, then, mind sufficient
to be everything to you? Will this momentary happiness which you
prepare for her and yourself be great enough to outweigh--I will
not say the sorrow, but the discontent which this union will bring
forth in your family? For God's sake, think of everything!"
"My dear fellow!" said Wilhelm, "your old preacher now really
speaks out of you! But enough: I can bear the confession. I answer,
'Yes, yes!' with all my heart, 'yes!' Wherefore will you now bring
me out of my sunshine into shade? Wherefore, in my joy over the
beauty of the rose should I be reminded that the perfume and color
will vanish, that the leaves will fall? It is the course of life!
but must one, therefore, think of the grave, of the finale, when
the act begins?"
"Love is a kind of monomania," said Otto; "it may be combated: it
depends merely upon our own will."
"Ah, you know this not at all!" said Wilhelm. "But it will come in
due time, and then you will be far more violent than others! Who
knows? perhaps this is the sorrow of which you spoke, the
misfortune which should bring your whole being into equipoise! That
was also a kind of search after the sorrowful. I will sincerely
wish that your heart may be filled with love as mine is; then will
the influence of the sand-hills vanish, and you will speak with me
as you ought to do, and as my confidence deserves!"
"That will I!" replied Otto. "You make the poor girl miserable! Now
you love Eva, but then you will no longer be able. The distance
between you and her is too great, and I cannot conceive how the
beauty of her countenance can thus fill your whole being. A
waiting-girl! yes, I repeat the name which offends your ear: a
waiting-girl! Everywhere will it be repeated. And you? No one can
respect nobility less than I do--that nobility which is only
conferred by birth; it is nothing, and a time will come when this
will not be prized at all, when the nobility of the soul will be
the only nobility. I openly say this to you, who are a nobleman
yourself. The more development of mind, the more ancestors! But Eva
has nothing, can have nothing, except a pretty face, and this is
what has enchained you; you are become the servant of a servant,
and that is degrading yourself and your nobility of mind!"
"Mr. Thostrup!" exclaimed Wilhelm, "you wound me! This is truly
not the first time, but now I am weary of it. I have shown too much
good nature, and that is the most unfortunate failing a man can be
He seated himself at the piano, and hammered away.
Otto was silent a moment, his checks glowed, but he was soon again
calm, and in a joking tone said: "Do not expend your anger upon
that poor instrument because we disagree in our views. You are
playing only dissonances, which offend my ear more than your
"Dissonances!" repeated Wilhelm. "Cannot you hear that they are
harmonies? There are many things for which you have a bad ear!"
Otto knew how to lead his anger to different points regarding which
they had formerly been at variance, but he spoke with such mildness
that Wilhelm's anger rather abated than increased.
They were again friends, but regarding Eva not one word more was
"I should not be an honest and true friend to him, were I to let
him be swallowed up by this whirlpool!" said Otto to himself, when
he was alone. "At present he is innocent and good but at his age,
with his gay disposition!--I must warn Eva! soon! soon! The snow
which has once been trodden is no longer pure! Wilhelm will
scarcely forgive me! But I must!"
On the morrow it was impossible for him to travel to Roeskelde, but
the following day he really would and must hasten thither.
Still, in the early morning hour, Eva occupied his thoughts; she
busied Wilhelm's also, but in a different way: but they agreed in
the purity of their intentions. There was still a third, whose
blood was put in motion at the mention of her name, who said: "The
pretty Eva is a servant there! One must speak with her. The family
can make an excursion there!"
"You sweet children!" said the merchant's wife, "the autumn is
charming, far pleasanter than the whole summer! The father, should
the weather remain good, will make an excursion with us to
Lethraborg the day after to-morrow. We will then walk in the
beautiful valley of the Hertha, and pass the night at Roeskelde.
Those will be two delightful days! What an excellent father you
have! But shall we not invite Mr. Thostrup to go with us? We are so
many ladies, and it looks well to have a few young gentlemen with
us. Grethe, thou must write an invitation; thou canst write thy
father's name underneath."
"These poetical letters are so similar to those of Baggesen, that
we could be almost tempted to consider the news of his death as
false, although so well affirmed that we must acknowledge it."
--Monthly Journal of Literature.
"She is as slender as the poplar-willow, as fleet as the hastening
waters. A Mayflower odorous and sweet."--H. P. HOLST.
"Ah, where is the rose?"--Lulu, by GUNTELBURG.
The evening before Otto was to travel with the merchant's family to
Roeskelde he called upon the family where Miss Sophie was staying.
Her dear mamma had left three days before. Wilhelm had wished to
accompany him to Roeskelde, but the mother did not desire it.
"We have had a pleasure to-day," said Sophie, "a pleasure from
which we shall long have enjoyment. Have you seen the new book, the
'Letters of a Wandering Ghost?' It is Baggesen himself in his most
perfect beauty, a music which I never believed could have been
given in words. This is a poet! He has made July days in the poetry
of Denmark. Natural thoughts are so strikingly, and yet so simply
expressed; one has the idea that one could write such verses one's
self, they fall so lightly."
"They are like prose," said the lady, "and yet the most beautifully
perfect verse I know. You must read the book, Mr. Thostrup!"
"Perhaps you will read to us this evening?" said Sophie. "I should
very much like to hear it again."
"In a second reading one shall enter better into the individual
beauties," said the lady of the house.
"I will remain and listen," said the host.
"This must be a masterpiece!" exclaimed Otto,"--a true masterpiece,
since all are so delighted with it."
"It is Baggesen himself; and truly as he must sing in that world
where everything mortal is ennobled."
"'Meadows all fragrance, the strongholds of pleasure,
Heaven blue streamlets,
That speed through the green woods in musical measure,'"
began Otto, and the spiritual battle-piece with beauty and tone
developed itself more and more; they found themselves in the
midst of the winter camp of the Muses, where the poet with
..."lyre on his shoulder and sword at his side,
Hastened to fight with the foes of the Muses."
Otto's gloomy look won during the perusal a more animated
expression. "Excellent!" exclaimed he; "this is what I myself have
thought and felt, but, alas! have been unable to express."
"I am a strange girl," said Sophie; "whenever I read a new poet of
distinguished talent, I consider that he is the greatest. It was so
with Byron and Victor Hugo. 'Cain' overwhelmed me, 'Notre Dame'
carried me away with it. Once I could imagine no greater poet than
Walter Scott, and yet I forget him over Oehlenschlager; yes, I
remember a time when Heiberg's vaudevilles took almost the first
place among my chosen favorites. Thus I know myself and my
changeable disposition, and yet I firmly believe that I shall make
an exception with this work. Other poets showed me the objects of
the outer world, this one shows me my own mind: my own thoughts, my
own being he presents before me, and therefore I shall always take
the same interest in the Ghost's Letters."
"They are true food for the mind," said Otto; "they are as words in
season; there must be movement in the lake, otherwise it will
become a bog."
"The author is severe toward those whom he has introduced," said
the lady; "but he carries, so to say, a sweet knife. A wound from a
sharp sword-blade is not so painful as that from a rusty, notched
"But who may the author be?" said Sophie.
"May we never learn!" replied Otto. "Uncertainty gives the book
something piquant. In such a small country as ours it is good for
the author to be unknown. Here we almost tread upon each other, and
look into each other's garments. Here the personal conditions of
the author have much to do with success; and then there are the
newspapers, where either friend or enemy has an assistant, whereas
the being anonymous gives it the patent of nobility. It is well
never to know an author. What does his person matter to us, if his
book is only good?
"'Crush and confound the rabble dissolute
That desecrate thy poet's grave?'"
read Otto, and the musical poem was at an end. All were enchanted
with it. Otto alone made some small objections: "The Muses ought not
to come with 'trumpets and drums,' and so many expressions similar
to 'give a blow on the chaps,' etc., ought not to appear."
"But if the poet will attack what is coarse," said Sophie, "he must
call things by their proper names. He presents us with a specimen
of the prosaic filth, but in a soap-bubble. We may see it, but not
seize upon it. I consider that you are wrong!"
"The conception of idea and form," said Otto, "does not seem to be
sufficiently presented to one; both dissolve into one. Even prose is a
"But the form itself is the most important," said the lady of the
house; "with poetry as with sculpture, it is the form which gives
"No, pardon me!" said Otto; "poetry is like the tree which God
allows to grow. The inward power expresses itself in the form; both
are equally important, but I consider the internal as the most
holy. This is here the poet's thought. The opinion which he
expresses affects us as much as the beautiful dress in which he has
Now commenced a contest upon form and material, such as was
afterward maintained throughout the whole of Copenhagen.
"I shall always admire the 'Letters of a Wandering Ghost,'" said
Sophie,--"always rave about these poems. To-night I shall dream of
nothing but this work of art."
How little men can do that which they desire, did this very moment
When we regard the fixed star through a telescope and lose
ourselves in contemplation, a little hair can conceal the mighty
body, a grain of dust lead us from these sublime thoughts. A letter
came for Miss Sophie; a traveller brought it from her mother: she
was already in Funen, and announced her safe arrival.
"And the news?" said the hostess.
"Mamma has hired a new maid, or, rather, she has taken to be with
her an amiable young girl--the pretty Eva in Roeskelde. Mr.
Thostrup and Wilhelm related to us this summer several things about
her which make her interesting. We saw her on our journey hither,
when mamma was prepossessed by her well-bred appearance. Upon her
return, the young girl has quite won her heart. It really were a
pity if such a pretty, respectable girl remained in a public-house.
She is very pretty; is she not, Mr. Thostrup?"
"Very pretty!" answered Otto, becoming crimson, for Sophie said
this with an emphasis which was not without meaning.
The following day, at an early hour, Otto found himself at the
Spite of the changeable weather of our climate, all the ladies were
in their best dresses. Three persons must sit upon each seat. Hans
Peter and the lover had their place beside the coachman. It was a
long time before the cold meat, the provision for several days, was
packed up, and the whole company were seated. At length, when they
had got out of the city, Christiane recollected that they had
forgotten the umbrellas, and that, after all, it would be good to
have them. The coachman must go back for them, and meantime the
carriage drew up before the Column of Liberty. The poor sentinel
must now become an object of Miss Grethe's interest. Several times
the soldier glanced down upon his regimentals. He was a
Krahwinkler, who had an eye to his own advantage. A man who rode
past upon a load of straw occupied a high position. That was very
Otto endeavored to give the conversation another direction. "Have
not you seen the new poem which has just appeared, the 'Letters of
a Wandering Ghost?'" asked he, and sketched out their beauty and
"Doubtless, very heavy blows are dealt!" said Mr. Berger, "the man
must be witty--Baggesen to the very letter."
"The 'Copenhagen Post' is called the pump!" said Hans Peter.
"That is superb!" cried Grethe. "Who does it attack besides?"
"Folks in Soroe, and this 'Holy Andersen,' as they call him."
"Does he get something?" said Laide. "That I will grant him for his
milk and water. He was so impolite toward the ladies!"
"I like them to quarrel in this way!" said the merchant's lady.
"Heiberg will doubtless get his share also, and then he will reply
in something merry."
"Yes," said Mr. Berger, "he always knows how to twist things in
such a manner that one must laugh, and then it is all one to us
whether he is right or not."
"This book is entirely for Heiberg," said Otto. "The author is
anonymous, and a clever man."
"Good Heavens! you are not the author, Mr. Thostrup?" cried Julle,
and looked at him with a penetrating gaze. "You can manage such
things so secretly! You think so highly of Heiberg: I remember well
all the beautiful things you said of his 'Walter the Potter' and
Otto assured her that he could not confess to this honor.
They reached Roeskelde in the forenoon, but Eva did not receive
them. The excursion to Lethraborg was arranged; toward evening they
should again return to the inn, and then Eva would certainly
The company walked in the garden at Lethraborg: the prospect from
the terrace was beautiful; they looked through the windows of the
castle, and at length came to the conclusion that it would be best
to go in.
"There are such beautiful paintings, people say!" remarked the
"We must see them," cried all the ladies.
"Do you often visit the picture-gallery of the Christiansborg?"
"I cannot say that we do!" returned Mrs. Berger. "You well know
that what is near one seldom sees, unless one makes a downright
earnest attempt, and that we have not yet done. Besides, not many
people go up: that wandering about the great halls is so wearying."
"There are splendid pieces by Ruysdal!" said Otto.
"Salvator Rosa's glorious 'Jonas" is well worth looking at!"
"Yes, we really must go at once, whilst our little Maja is here. It
does not cost more than the Exhibition, and we were there three
times last year. The view from the castle windows toward the canal,
as well as toward the ramparts, is so beautiful, they say."
The company now viewed the interior of Lethraborg, and then
wandered through the garden and in the wood. The trees had their
autumnal coloring, but the whole presented a variety of tints far
richer than one finds in summer. The dark fir-trees, the yellow
beeches and oaks, whose outermost branches had sent forth light
green shoots, presented a most picturesque effect, and formed a
splendid foreground to the view over old Leire, the royal city, now
a small village, and across the bay to the splendid cathedral.
"That resembles a scene in a theatre!" cried Mrs. Berger, and
immediately the company were deep in dramatic affairs.
"Such a decoration they should have in the royal theatre!" said
"Yes, they should have many such!" said Grethe. "They should have
some other pieces than those they have. I know not how it is with
our poets; they have no inventive power. Relate the droll idea
which thou hadst the other day for a new piece!" said she to her
lover, and stroked his cheeks.
"O," said he, and affected a kind of indifference, "that was only
an idea such as one has very often. But it might become a very nice
piece. When the curtain is drawn up, one should see close upon the
lamps the gable-ends of two houses. The steep roofs must go down to
the stage, so that it is only half a yard wide, and this is to
represent a watercourse between the two houses. In each garret a
poor but interesting family should dwell, and these should step
forth into the watercourse, and there the whole piece should be
"But what should then happen?" asked Otto.
"Yes," said the lover, "I have not thought about that; but see,
there is the idea! I am no poet, and have too much to do at the
counting-house, otherwise one might write a little piece."
"Heavens! Heiberg ought to have the idea!" said Grethe.
"No, then it would be a vaudeville," said the lover, "and I cannot
"O, it might be made charming!" cried Grethe. "I see the whole
piece! how they clamber about the roofs! The idea is original, thou
By evening the family were again in Roeskelde.
The merchant sought for Eva. Otto inquired after her, so did Hans
Peter also, and all three received the same answer.
"She is no longer here."
"I wish I was air, that I could beat my wings, could chase the
clouds, and try to fly over the mountain summits: that would be