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Recollections Of My Childhood And Youth by George Brandes

Part 6 out of 8

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to me, unannounced, in my room in the Rue Mazarine; he stayed two hours
and won my affections completely. I was a little ashamed to receive so
great a man in so poor a place, but more proud of his thinking it worth
his while to make my acquaintance. None of the French savants had ever
had an opportunity of conversing with him; a few days before, Renan had
lamented to me that he had never seen him. As Mill had no personal
acquaintances in Paris, I was the only person he called upon.

To talk to him was a new experience. The first characteristic that
struck me was that whereas the French writers were all assertive, he
listened attentively to counter-arguments; it was only when his attitude
in the woman question was broached that he would not brook contradiction
and overwhelmed his adversaries with contempt.

At that time Mill was without any doubt, among Europe's distinguished
men, the greatest admirer of French history and French intellectual life
to be found outside of France; but he was of quite a different type from
the French, even from those I esteemed most highly. The latter were
comprehensive-minded men, bold and weighty, like Taine, or cold and
agile like Renan, but they were men of intellect and thought, only
having no connection with the practical side of life. They were not
adapted to personal action, felt no inclination to direct interference.

Mill was different. Although he was more of a thinker than any of them,
his boldness was not of the merely theoretic kind. He wished to
interfere and re-model. None of those Frenchmen lacked firmness; if,
from any consideration, they modified their utterances somewhat, their
fundamental views, at any rate, were formed independently; but their
firmness lay in defence, not in attack; they wished neither to rebuke
nor to instigate; their place was the lecturer's platform, rather than
the tribune. Mill's firmness was of another kind, hard as steel; both in
character and expression he was relentless, and he went to work
aggressively. He was armed, not with a cuirass, but a glaive.

Thus in him I met, for the first time in my life, a figure who was the
incarnation of the ideal I had drawn for myself of the great man. This
ideal had two sides; talent and character: great capacities and
inflexibility. The men of great reputation whom I had met hitherto,
artists and scientists, were certainly men richly endowed with talents;
but I had never hitherto encountered a personality combining talents
with gifts of character. Shortly before leaving home, I had concluded
the preface to a collection of criticisms with these words: "My
watchword has been: As flexible as possible, when it is a question of
understanding, as inflexible as possible, when it is a question of
speaking," and I had regarded this watchword as more than the motto of a
little literary criticism. Now I had met a grand inflexibility of ideas
in human form, and was impressed for my whole life long.

Unadapted though I was by nature to practical politics, or in fact to
any activity save that of ideas, I was far from regarding myself as mere
material for a scholar, an entertaining author, a literary historian, or
the like. I thought myself naturally fitted to be a man of action. But
the men of action I had hitherto met had repelled me by their lack of a
leading principle. The so-called practical men at home, lawyers and
parliamentarians, were not men who had made themselves masters of any
fund of new thoughts that they wished to reduce to practical effect;
they were dexterous people, well-informed of conditions at their elbow,
not thinkers, and they only placed an immediate goal in front of
themselves. In Mill I learnt at last to know a man in whom the power of
action, disturbance, and accomplishment were devoted to the service of
modern sociological thought.

He was then sixty-four years old, but his skin was as fresh and clear as
a child's, his deep blue eyes young. He stammered a little, and nervous
twitches frequently shot over his face; but there was a sublime nobility
about him.

To prolong the conversation, I offered to accompany him to the Windsor
Hotel, where he was staying, and we walked the distance. As I really had
intended to go over to England at about that time, Mill proposed my
crossing with him. I refused, being afraid of abusing his kindness, but
was invited to visit him frequently when I was in England, which I did
not fail to do. A few days afterwards I was in London.


My French acquaintances all said the same thing, when I told them I
wanted to go over to England: "What on earth do you want there?" Though
only a few hours' journey from England, they had never felt the least
curiosity to see the country. "And London! It was said to be a very dull
city; it was certainly not worth putting one's self out to go there." Or
else it was: "If you are going to London, be careful! London is full of
thieves and rascals; look well to your pockets!"

Only a few days later, the Parisians were shaken out of their calm,
without, however, being shaken out of their self-satisfaction. The Duc
de Grammont's speech on the 6th of July, which amounted to the statement
that France was not going to stand any Hohenzollern on the throne of
Spain, made the people fancy themselves deeply offended by the King of
Prussia, and a current of martial exasperation ran through the irritable
and misled people, who for four years had felt themselves humiliated by
Prussia's strong position. All said and believed that in a week there
would be war, and on both sides everything was so ordered that there
might be. There was still hope that common sense might get the better of
warlike madness in the French Government; but this much was clear, there
was going to be a sudden downfall of everything.

Between Dover and Calais the waves beat over the ship. From Dover, the
train went at a speed of sixty miles an hour, and made one think him a
great man who invented the locomotive, as great as Aristotle and Plato
together. It seemed to me that John Stuart Mill was that kind of man. He
opened, not roads, but railroads; his books were like iron rails,
unadorned, but useful, leading to their goal. And what will there was in
the English locomotive that drew our train,--like the driving instinct
of England's character!

Two things struck me on my journey across, a type of mechanical
Protestant religiosity which was new to me, and the knowledge of the two
languages along the coasts. A pleasant English doctor with whom I got
into conversation sat reading steadily in a little Gospel of St. John
that he carried with him, yawning as he read. The seamen on the ship and
the coast dwellers both in England and France spoke English and French
with about equal ease. It is probably the same in all border countries,
but it occurred to me that what came about here quite naturally will in
time be a possibility all over the world, namely, the mastery of a
second and common language, in addition to a people's own.

I drove into London through a sea of houses. When I had engaged a room,
changed my clothes, and written a letter that I wanted to send off at
once, the eighteen-year-old girl who waited on me informed me that no
letters were accepted on Sundays. As I had some little difficulty in
making out what she said, I supposed she had misunderstood my question
and thought I wanted to speak to the post-official. For I could not help
laughing at the idea that even the letterboxes had to enjoy their
Sabbath rest. But I found she was right. At the post-office, even the
letter-box was shut, as it was Sunday; I was obliged to put my letter in
a pillar-box in the street.

In Paris the Summer heat had been oppressive. In London, to my surprise,
the weather was fresh and cool, the air as light as it is in Denmark in
Autumn. My first visit was to the Greek and Assyrian collections in the
British Museum. In the Kensington Museum and the Crystal Palace at
Sydenham, I added to my knowledge of Michael Angelo, to whom I felt
drawn by a mighty affection. The admiration for his art which was to
endure undiminished all my life was even then profound. I early felt
that although Michael Angelo had his human weaknesses and limitations,
intellectually and as an artist he is one of the five or six elect the
world has produced, and scarcely any other great man has made such an
impression on my inner life as he.

In the British Museum I was accosted by a young Dane with whom I had
sometimes ridden out in the days of my riding lessons; this was Carl
Bech, now a landed proprietor, and in his company I saw many of the
sights of London and its environs. He knew more English than I, and
could find his way anywhere. That the English are rigid in their
conventions, he learnt one day to his discomfort; he had put on a pair
of white trousers, and as this was opposed to the usual precedent and
displeased, we were stared at by every man, woman and child we met, as
if the young man had gone out in his underclothing. I had a similar
experience one day as I was walking about the National Gallery with a
young German lady whose acquaintance I had made. An Englishwoman stopped
her in one of the rooms to ask:

"Was it you who gave up a check parasol downstairs?" and receiving an
answer in the affirmative, she burst out laughing in her face and went

On July 16th came the great daily-expected news. War was declared, and
in face of this astounding fact and all the possibilities it presented,
people were struck dumb. The effect it had upon me personally was that I
made up my mind to return as soon as possible to France, to watch the
movement there. In London, where Napoleon III. was hated, and in a
measure despised, France was included in the aversion felt for him.
Everywhere, when I was asked on which side my sympathies were, they
broke in at once: "We are all for Prussia."


As often as I could, I took the train to Blackheath to visit John Stuart
Mill. He was good and great, and I felt myself exceedingly attracted by
his greatness. There were fundamental features of his thought and mode
of feeling that coincided with inclinations of my own; for instance, the
Utilitarian theory, as founded by Bentham and his father and developed
by him. I had written in 1868: "What we crave is no longer to flee from
society and reality with our thoughts and desires. On the contrary, we
wish to put our ideas into practice in society and life. That we may not
become a nation of poetasters, we will simply strive towards actuality,
the definite goal of Utility, which the past generation mocked at. Who
would not be glad to be even so little useful?"

Thus I found myself mentally in a direction that led me towards Mill,
and through many years' study of Comte and Littre, through an
acquaintance with Mill's correspondence with Comte, I was prepared for
philosophical conversations concerning the fundamental thoughts of
empiric philosophy as opposed to speculative philosophy, conversations
which, on Mill's part, tended to represent my entire University
philosophical education at Copenhagen as valueless and wrong.

But what drew me the most strongly to Mill was not similarity of
thought, but the feeling of an opposed relationship. All my life I had
been afraid of going further in a direction towards which I inclined. I
had always had a passionate desire to perfect my nature--to make good my
defects. Julius Lange was so much to me because he was so unlike me. Now
I endeavoured to understand Mill's nature and make it my own, because it
was foreign to mine. By so doing I was only obeying an inner voice that
perpetually urged me. When others about me had plunged into a subject, a
language, a period, they continued to wrestle with it to all eternity,
made the thing their speciality. That I had a horror of. I knew French
well; but for fear of losing myself in French literature, which I could
easily illustrate, I was always wrestling with English or German, which
presented greater difficulties to me, but made it impossible for me to
grow narrow. I had the advantage over the European reading world that I
knew the Northern languages, but nothing was further from my thoughts
than to limit myself to opening up Northern literature to Europe. Thus
it came about that when the time in my life arrived that I felt
compelled to settle outside Denmark I chose for my place of residence
Berlin, the city with which I had fewest points in common, and where I
could consequently learn most and develop myself without one-sidedness.

Mill's verbally expressed conviction that empiric philosophy was the
only true philosophy, made a stronger impression upon me than any
assertion of the kind that I had met with in printed books. The results
of empiric philosophy seemed to me much more firmly based than those of
the newer German philosophy. At variance with my teachers, I had come to
see that Hume had been right rather than Kant. But I could not conform
to the principle of empiric philosophy. After all, our knowledge is not
ultimately based merely on experience, but on that which, prior to
experience, alone renders experience possible. Otherwise not even the
propositions of Mathematics can be universally applicable. In spite of
my admiration for Mill's philosophical works, I was obliged to hold to
the rationalistic theory of cognition; Mill obstinately held to the
empiric. "Is not a reconciliation between the two possible?" I said. "I
think that one must _choose_ between the theories," replied Mill. I
did not then know Herbert Spencer's profoundly thoughtful reconciliation
of the teachings of the two opposing schools. He certainly maintains, as
does the English school, that all our ideas have their root in
experience, but he urges at the same time, with the Germans, that there
are innate ideas. The conscious life of the individual, that cannot be
understood from the experience of the individual, becomes explicable
from the inherited experience of the race. Even the intellectual form
which is the condition of the individual's apprehension is gradually
made up out of the experience of the race, and consequently innate
without for that reason being independent of foregoing experiences. But
I determined at once, incited thereto by conversations with Mill, to
study, not only his own works, but the writings of James Mill, Bain, and
Herbert Spencer; I would endeavour to find out how much truth they
contained, and introduce this truth into Denmark.

I was very much surprised when Mill informed me that he had not read a
line of Hegel, either in the original or in translation, and regarded
the entire Hegelian philosophy as sterile and empty sophistry. I
mentally confronted this with the opinion of the man at the Copenhagen
University who knew the history of philosophy best, my teacher, Hans
Broechner, who knew, so to speak, nothing of contemporary English and
French philosophy, and did not think them worth studying. I came to the
conclusion that here was a task for one who understood the thinkers of
the two directions, who did not mutually understand one another.

I thought that in philosophy, too, I knew what I wanted, and saw a road
open in front of me.

However, I never travelled it. The gift for abstract philosophical
thought which I had possessed as a youth was never developed, but much
like the tendency to verse-making which manifested itself even earlier,
superseded by the historio-critical capacity, which grew strong in me.
At that time I believed in my natural bent for philosophy, and did so
even in July, 1872, when I sketched out and began a large book: "_The
Association of Ideas, conceived and put forward as the fundamental
principle of human knowledge_," but the book was never completed. The
capacity for abstraction was too weak in me.

Still, if the capacity had no independent development, it had a
subservient effect on all my criticism, and the conversations with Mill
had a fertilising and helpful influence on my subsequent intellectual


Some weeks passed in seeing the most important public buildings in
London, revelling in the treasures of her museums and collections, and
in making excursions to places in the neighbourhood and to Oxford. I was
absorbed by St. Paul's, saw it from end to end, and from top to bottom,
stood in the crypt, where Sir Christopher Wren lies buried,--_Si
monumentum requiris, circumspice_--mentally compared Wellington's
burial-place here with that of Napoleon on the other side of the
Channel, then went up to the top of the building and looked out to every
side over London, which I was already so well acquainted with that I
could find my way everywhere alone, take the right omnibuses, and the
right trains by the underground, without once asking my way. I spent
blissful hours in the National Gallery. This choice collection of
paintings, especially the Italian ones, afforded me the intense,
overwhelming delight which poetry, the masterpieces of which I knew
already, could no longer offer me. At the Crystal Palace I was
fascinated by the tree-ferns, as tall as fruit-trees with us, and by the
reproductions of the show buildings of the different countries, an
Egyptian temple, a house from Pompeii, the Lions' den from the Alhambra.
Here, as everywhere, I sought out the Zoological Gardens, where I
lingered longest near the hippopotami, who were as curious to watch when
swimming as when they were on dry land. Their clumsiness was almost
captivating. They reminded me of some of my enemies at home.

Oxford, with the moss-grown, ivy-covered walls, with all the poetry of
conservatism, fascinated me by its dignity and its country freshness;
there the flower of the English nature was expressed in buildings and
trees. The antiquated and non-popular instruction, however, repelled me.
And the old classics were almost unrecognisable in English guise, for
instance, the anglicised _veni, vidi, vici_, which was quoted by a

The contrast between the English and the French mind was presented to me
in all its force when I compared Windsor Castle with Versailles. The
former was an old Northern Hall, in which the last act of
Oehlenschlaeger's _Palnatoke_ would have been well staged.

I saw all that I could: the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Hall and
Abbey, the Tower and the theatres, the Picture Gallery at Dulwich with
Rembrandt's _Girl at the Window_, the one at Hampton Court, with
the portrait of Loyola ascribed to Titian, sailed down the river to
Greenwich and lingered in the lovely Gardens at Kew, which gave me a
luxuriant impression of English scenery. I also saw the Queen's model
farm. Every animal was as splendid a specimen as if it had been intended
for an agricultural show, the dairy walls were tiled all over. The
bailiff regretted that Prince Albert, who had himself made the drawings
for a special kind of milk containers, had not lived to see them made.
It was not without its comic aspect to hear him inform you sadly,
concerning an old bullock, that the Queen herself had given it the name
of _Prince Albert_.

For me, accustomed to the gay and grotesque life deployed in an evening
at the dancing-place of the Parisian students in the _Closerie des
lilas_, it was instructive to compare this with a low English
dancing-house, the Holborn Casino, which was merely sad, stiff, and

Poverty in London was very much more conspicuous than in Paris; it
spread itself out in side streets in the vicinity of the main arteries
in its most pitiable form. Great troops, regular mobs of poor men, women
and children in rags, dispersed like ghosts at dawn, fled away hurriedly
and vanished, as soon as a policeman approached and made sign to them to
pass on. There was nothing corresponding to it to be seen in Paris.
Crime, too, bore a very different aspect here. In Paris, it was decked
out and audacious, but retained a certain dignity; here, in the evening,
in thickly frequented streets, whole swarms of ugly, wretchedly dressed,
half or wholly drunken women could be seen reeling about, falling, and
often lying in the street.

Both the tendency of the English to isolate themselves and their social
instincts were quite different from those of the French. I was permitted
to see the comfortably furnished Athenaeum Club in Pall Mall, membership
of which was so much desired that people of high standing would have
their names on the list for years beforehand, and these clubs
corresponded to the cafes in Paris, which were open to every passer-by.
I noticed that in the restaurants the tables were often hidden behind
high screens, that the different parties who were dining might not be
able to see one another.


The house in London where I was happiest was Antonio Gallenga's. A
letter from the Hauchs was my introduction there, and I was received and
taken up by them as if they had known me and liked me for years.

Antonio Gallenga, then a man of seventy, who nevertheless gave one an
impression of youthfulness, had a most eventful life behind him. He had
been born at Parma, was flung into prison at the age of twenty as a
conspirator under Mazzini, was banished from Piedmont, spent some time
at Malta, in the United States and in England, where he earned his
living as a journalist and teacher of languages, and in 1848 returned to
Italy, where he was active as a liberal politician. After the battle of
Novara, he was again obliged to take refuge in London; but he was
recalled to Piedmont by Cavour, who had him elected deputy for
Castellamonte. He wrote an Italian Grammar in English, and, likewise in
English, the _History of Piedmont_, quarrelled with Mazzini's
adherents, withdrew from parliamentary life, and in preference to
settling down permanently in Italy elected to be war correspondent to
the _Times_. In that capacity he took part from 1859 onwards in the
campaigns in Italy, in the North American States, in Denmark, and in
Spain. His little boy was still wearing the Spanish national costume.
Now he had settled down in London, on the staff of the _Times_, and
had just come into town from the country, as the paper wished him to be
near, on account of the approaching war. Napoleon III., to whom Gallenga
had vowed an inextinguishable hatred, had been studied so closely by him
that the Emperor might be regarded as his specialty. He used the
energetic, violent language of the old revolutionary, was with all his
heart and soul an Italian patriot, but had, through a twenty years'
connection with England, acquired the practical English view of
political affairs. Towards Denmark, where he had been during the most
critical period of the country's history, he felt kindly; but our war
methods had of course not been able to excite his admiration; neither
had our diplomatic negotiations during the war.

Gallenga was a well-to-do man; he owned a house in the best part of
London and a house in the country as well. He was a powerful man, with
passionate feelings, devoid of vanity. It suited him well that the
_Times_, as the English custom is, printed his articles unsigned;
he was pleased at the increased influence they won thereby, inasmuch as
they appeared as the expression of the universal paper's verdict. His
wife was an Englishwoman, pleasant and well-bred, of cosmopolitan
education and really erudite. Not only did she know the European
languages, but she wrote and spoke Hindustani. She was a splendid
specimen of the English housekeeper, and devoted herself
enthusiastically to her two exceedingly beautiful children, a boy of
eleven and a little girl of nine. The children spoke English, Italian,
French, and German with equal facility and correctness.

Mrs. Gallenga had a more composite and a deeper nature than her husband,
who doubted neither the truth of his ideas, nor their salutary power.
She shared his and my opinions without sharing our confidence in them.
When she heard me say that I intended to assert my ideas in Denmark, and
wage war against existing prejudices, she would say, in our long

"I am very fond of Denmark; the people there seem to me to be happy,
despite everything, and the country not to be over-populated. In any
case, the population finds ample means of outlet in sea-life and
emigration. Denmark is an idyllic little country. Now you want to
declare war there. My thoughts seek down in dark places, and I ask
myself whether I really believe that truth does any good, whether in my
secret heart I am convinced that strife is better than stagnation? I
admire Oliver Cromwell, but I sympathise with Falkland, who died with
'Peace! Peace!' [Footnote: Sir Lucius Cary, second Viscount Falkland,
who fell at Newbury, Sept. 20, 1643.] on his lips. I am afraid that you
will have to bear a great deal. You will learn that the accoutrements of
truth are a grievously heavy coat of mail. You will call forth reaction.
Even that is the least. But reaction will come about in your own mind;
after a long time, I mean. Still, you are strong; it will be a reaction
of the kind that keeps aloof in order to spring farther and better. Your
unity will not go to pieces. You are a kind of cosmos."

When the conversation turned upon England and English conditions, she
protested against the opinion prevalent on the continent since Byron's
day, that English society was infested with hypocrisy.

"I do not think that hypocrisy is characteristic of English thought. We
have, of course, like every serious people, our share of hypocrites; in
a frivolous nation hypocrisy has no pretext for existence. But its
supremacy amongst us is over. Apathetic orthodoxy, and superficial ideas
of the correct thing, ruled England during the first half of the
century. The intellectual position of the country is different now. No
one who has not lived in England has any idea how serious and real the
belief here is in the tough doctrine of the Trinity, who, in human form,
walked about in Galilee. Good men, noble men, live and work for this
dogma, perform acts of love for it. We, you and I, have drunk from other
sources; but for these people it is the fountain of life. Only it is
depressing to see this doctrine in its Roman Catholic form winning
greater power everywhere every day. In Denmark, intellectual stagnation
has hindered it hitherto; you have political, but not yet religious,
freedom. Belgium has both, and Belgium is at the present time the most
fiery Catholic power there is. France is divided between extreme
materialism and Madonna worship. When European thought--between 1820 and
1860, let us say--rebelled against every kind of orthodoxy, and, as
always happens with rebellion, made mistakes and went too far, France
played a wretched role. It is a Celtic land, and Celtic it will remain;
it desires, not personal freedom, but a despotic levelling, not equality
before the law, but the base equality which is inimical to excellence,
not the brotherhood that is brotherly love, but that which gives the bad
the right to share with the good. That is why the Empire could be
victorious in France, and that is why the Roman Catholic Church, even in
its most modern, Byzantine form, is triumphant there."

So thoroughly English was Anna Gallenga's way of looking at things, in
spite of an education which had included the chief countries in Europe.
So blindly did she share the prejudice that the French are essentially
Celtic. And so harshly did she judge, in spite of a scepticism, feminine
though it was, that was surprising in a woman.


Don Juan Prim, Count of Reus, Marques de los Castillejos, would now be
forgotten outside Spain were it not that Regnault's splendid equestrian
picture of him, as he is receiving the homage of the people (on a fiery
steed, reminding one of Velasquez), keeps his memory green in everyone
who visits the Gallery of the Louvre. At that time his name was on every
tongue. The victorious general and revolutionary of many years' standing
had since 1869 been Prime Minister of Spain, and had eagerly endeavoured
to get a foreign prince for the throne who would be dependent upon him
and under whom he would be able to keep the power in his own hands. He
had now offered the throne of Spain to Leopold of Hohenzollern, but
without having assured himself of the consent of the Powers. That of
Prussia was of course safe enough, and for six weeks Napoleon had looked
on benevolently at the negotiations, and acted as though the arrangement
had his approval, which Prim had the more reason to suppose since
Leopold was related to the Murat family, and the Emperor had raised no
objection to a Hohenzollern ascending the throne of Roumania.
Consequently, Prim was thunderstruck when France suddenly turned round
and seized upon this trivial pretext for a breach of the peace.

He was in regular correspondence with the Gallengas, whom he had seen a
good deal of during the years, after the unsuccessful rebellion against
Queen Isabella, that he had spent in London. At that time he had been a
man of fifty, and, with his little body and large head, had looked very
strange among Englishmen. He was of modest birth, but denied the fact.
He was now a Spanish grandee of the first class, but this was through a
patent bestowed on him for courage in the war with Morocco; he had
little education, did not know a word of English, wrote French with a
purely fantastic orthography, but had excellent qualities as a Liberal,
an army chief, and a popular leader. Still, he was not pleased that
Regnault had painted him greeted by the enthusiastic cheers of an
untidy, ragged mob of rebels; he would have preferred to be receiving
the acclamations of regular troops, and of the highest men and women in
the nation, as now, at the conclusion of his career, he really was. Only
a few months later (in December, 1870), he was shot by an assassin in
the streets of Madrid.

In Prim's communications to Gallenga, the attitude of the French
government appeared to me in a most unfavourable light. Ollivier, the
Premier, I had long despised; it did not need much political acumen to
see that he was an ambitious and conceited phrase-monger, who would let
himself be led by the nose by those who had disarmed him. The Emperor
himself was a wreck. I had had no doubt of that since I had one day seen
him at very close quarters in the Louvre, where he was inspecting some
recently hung, decorative paintings. It was quite evident that he could
not walk alone, but advanced, half-sliding, supported by two tall
chamberlains, who each gave him an arm. His eyes were half-closed and
his gaze absolutely dulled. The dressed and waxed moustache, which ran
to a needle-like point, looked doubly tasteless against his wax mask of
a face. He was the incarnation of walking decrepitude, vapid and slack.
Quite evidently he had committed the blunder of trusting to a split in
Germany. In his blindness he explained that he had come to free the
Germans, who had, against their will, been incorporated into Prussia,
and all Germany rose like one man against him. And in his foolish
proclamation he declared that he was waging this war for the sake of the
civilising ideals of the first Republic, as if Germany were now going to
be civilised for the first time, and as if he, who had made an end of
the second Republic by a _coup d'etat_, could speak in the name of
Republican freedom. His whole attitude was mendacious and mean, and the
wretched pretext under which he declared war could not but prejudice
Europe against him. In addition to this, as they knew very well in
England, from the earlier wars of the Empire, he had no generals; his
victories had been soldier victories.

I was very deeply impressed, in the next place, by the suicide of
Prevost-Paradol. I had studied most carefully his book, _La France
Nouvelle_; I had seen in this friend and comrade of Taine and of
Renan the political leader of the future in France. No one was so well
acquainted with its resources as he; no one knew better than he what
policy ought to be followed. If he had despaired, it was because he
foresaw that the situation was hopeless. He had certainly made mistakes;
first, in believing that in January it had been Napoleon's serious
intention to abrogate personal control of the state, then that of
retaining, despite the long hesitation so well known to me, his position
as French Envoy to North America, after the plebiscite. That he should
now have turned his pistol against his own forehead told me that he
regarded the battle as lost, foresaw inevitable collapse as the outcome
of the war. When at first all the rumours and all the papers announced
the extreme probability of Denmark's taking part in the war as France's
ally, I was seized with a kind of despair at the thought of the folly
she seemed to be on the verge of committing. I wrote to my friends,
would have liked, had I been permitted, to write in every Danish paper a
warning against the martial madness that had seized upon people. It was
only apparently shared by the French. Even now, only a week after the
declaration of war, and before a single collision had taken place, it
was clear to everyone who carefully followed the course of events that
in spite of the light-hearted bragging of the Parisians and the Press,
there was deep-rooted aversion to war. And I, who had always counted
Voltaire's _Micromegas_ as one of my favourite tales, thought of
where Sirius, the giant, voices his supposition that the people on the
earth are happy beings who pass their time in love and thought, and of
the philosopher's reply to him: "At this moment there are a hundred
thousand animals of our species, who wear hats, engaged in killing a
hundred thousand more, who wear turbans, or in being killed by them. And
so it has been all over the earth from time immemorial." Only that this
time not a hundred thousand, but some two million men were being held in
readiness to exterminate each other.

What I saw in London of the scenic art at the Adelphi Theatre, the
Prince of Wales' Theatre and the Royal Strand Theatre was disheartening.
Moliere was produced as the lowest kind of farce, Sheridan was acted
worse than would be permitted in Denmark at a second-class theatre; but
the scenic decorations, a greensward, shifting lights, and the like,
surpassed anything that I had ever seen before.

More instructive and more fascinating than the theatres were the
parliamentary debates and the trials in the Law Courts. I enjoyed in
particular a sitting of the Commons with a long debate between Gladstone
and Disraeli, who were like representatives of two races and two opposed
views of life. Gladstone was in himself handsomer, clearer, and more
open, Disraeli spoke with a finer point, and more elegantly, had a
larger oratorical compass, more often made a witty hit, and evoked more
vigorous response and applause. Their point of disagreement was the
forthcoming war; Disraeli wished all the documents regarding it to be
laid before parliament; Gladstone declared that he could not produce
them. In England, as elsewhere, the war that was just breaking out
dominated every thought.


The Paris I saw again was changed. Even on my way from Calais I heard,
to my astonishment, the hitherto strictly forbidden _Marseillaise_
hummed and muttered. In Paris, people went arm in arm about the streets
singing, and the _Marseillaise_ was heard everywhere. The voices
were generally harsh, and it was painful to hear the song that had
become sacred through having been silenced so long, profaned in this
wise, in the bawling and shouting of half-drunken men at night. But the
following days, as well, it was hummed, hooted, whistled and sung
everywhere, and as the French are one of the most unmusical nations on
earth, it sounded for the most part anything but agreeable.

In those days, while no collision between the masses of troops had as
yet taken place, there was a certain cheerfulness over Paris; it could
be detected in every conversation; people were more lively, raised their
voices more, chatted more than at other times; the cabmen growled more
loudly, and cracked their whips more incessantly than usual.

Assurance of coming victory was expressed everywhere, even among the
hotel servants in the Rue Racine and on the lips of the waiters at every
restaurant. Everybody related how many had already volunteered; the
number grew from day to day; first it was ten thousand, then seventy-
five thousand, then a hundred thousand. In the Quartier Latin, the
students sat in their cafes, many of them in uniform, surrounded by
their comrades, who were bidding them good-bye. It was characteristic
that they no longer had their womenfolk with them; they had flung them
aside, now that the matter was serious. Every afternoon a long stream of
carriages, filled with departing young soldiers, could be seen moving
out towards the Gare du Nord. From every carriage large flags waved.
Women, their old mothers, workwomen, who sat in the carriages with them,
held enormous bouquets on long poles. The dense mass of people through
which one drove were grave; but the soldiers for the most part retained
their gaiety, made grimaces, smoked and drank.

Nevertheless, the Emperor's proclamation had made a very poor
impression. It was with the intention of producing an effect of
sincerity that he foretold the war would be long and grievous,
(_longue et penible_); with a people of the French national
character it would have been better had he been able to write "terrible,
but short." Even now, when people had grown accustomed to the situation,
this proclamation hung like a nightmare over them. I was all the more
astonished when an old copy of the _Daily Paper_ for the 30th of
July fell into my hands, and I read that their correspondent (Topsoee,
recently arrived in Paris) had seen a bloused workman tear off his hat,
after reading the proclamation, and heard him shout, "_Vive la
France_!" So thoughtlessly did people continue to feed the Danish
public with the food to which it was accustomed.

Towards the 8th or 9th of August I met repeatedly the author of the
article. He told me that the Duc de Cadore had appeared in Copenhagen on
a very indefinite errand, but without achieving the slightest result.
Topsoee, for that matter, was extraordinarily ignorant of French affairs,
had only been four weeks in France altogether, and openly admitted that
he had touched up his correspondence as well as he could. He had never
yet been admitted to the _Corps legislatif_, nevertheless he had
related how the tears had come into the eyes of the members and the
tribunes the day when the Duc de Grammont "again lifted the flag of
France on high." He said: "I have been as unsophisticated as a child
over this war," and added that Bille had been more so than himself.


One could hardly praise the attitude of the French papers between the
declaration of war and the first battles. Their boasting and exultation
over what they were going to do was barely decent, they could talk of
nothing but the victories they were registering beforehand, and, first
and last, the entry into Berlin. The insignificant encounter at
Saarbruecken was termed everywhere the _premiere victoire!_ The
caricatures in the shop-windows likewise betrayed terrible arrogance.
One was painfully reminded of the behaviour of the French before the
battle of Agincourt in Shakespeare's _Henry V._

It was no matter for surprise that a populace thus excited should parade
through the streets in an evening, shouting _"A Berlin! A Berlin!"_

National enthusiasm could vent itself in the theatres, in a most
convenient manner, without making any sacrifice. As soon as the audience
had seen the first piece at the Theatre Francais, the public clamoured
for _La Marseillaise_, and brooked no denial. A few minutes later
the lovely Mlle.

Agar came in, in a Greek costume. Two French flags were held over her
head. She then sang, quietly, sublimely, with expression at the same
time restrained and inspiring, the _Marseillaise_. The countless
variations of her voice were in admirable keeping with her animated and
yet sculptural gesticulation, and the effect was thrilling, although
certain passages in the song were hardly suitable to the circumstances
of the moment, for instance, the invocation of Freedom, the prayer to
her to fight for her defenders. When the last verse came, she seized the
flag and knelt down; the audience shouted, "_Debout_!" All rose and
listened standing to the conclusion, which was followed by mad applause.

People seized upon every opportunity of obtruding their patriotism. One
evening _Le lion amoureux_ was given. In the long speech which
concludes the second act, a young Republican describes the army which,
during the Revolution, crossed the frontier for the first time and
utterly destroyed the Prussian armies. The whole theatre foamed like the


Those were Summer days, and in spite of the political and martial
excitement, the peaceful woods and parks in the environs of Paris were
tempting. From the Quartier Latin many a couple secretly found their way
to the forests of St. Germain, or the lovely wood at Chantilly. In the
morning one bought a roast fowl and a bottle of wine, then spent the
greater part of the day under the beautiful oak-trees, and sat down to
one's meal in the pleasant green shade. Now and again one of the young
women would make a wreath of oak leaves and twine it round her
companion's straw hat, while he, bareheaded, lay gazing up at the tree-
tops. For a long time I kept just such a wreath as a remembrance, and
its withered leaves roused melancholy reflections some years later, for
during the war every tree of the Chantilly wood had been felled; the
wreath was all that remained of the magnificent oak forest.


The news of the battle of Weissenburg on August 4th was a trouble, but
this chiefly manifested itself in profound astonishment. What? They had
suffered a defeat? But one did not begin to be victorious at once;
victory would soon follow now. And, indeed, next morning, the news of a
victory ran like lightning about the town. It had been so confidently
expected that people quite neglected to make enquiries as to how and to
what extent it was authenticated. There was bunting everywhere; all the
horses had flags on their heads, people went about with little flags in
their hats. As the day wore on it turned out to be all a false report,
and the depression was great.

Next evening, as I came out of the _Theatre Francais_, there stood
the Emperor's awful telegram to read, several copies of it posted up on
the columns of the porch: "Macmahon has lost a battle. Frossard is
retreating. Put Paris in a condition of defence as expeditiously as
possible!" Then, like everyone else, I understood the extent of the
misfortune. Napoleon had apparently lost his head; it was very
unnecessary to publish the conclusion of the telegram.

Immediately afterwards was issued the Empress' proclamation, which was
almost silly. "I am with you," it ran--a charming consolation for the

Astonishment produced a kind of paralysis; anger looked round for an
object on which to vent itself, but hardly knew whom to select. Besides,
people had really insufficient information as to what had happened. The
_Siecle_ printed a fairly turbulent article at once, but no
exciting language in the papers was required. Even a foreigner could
perceive that if it became necessary to defend Paris after a second
defeat, the Empire would be at an end.

The exasperation which had to vent itself was directed at first against
the Ministers, and ridiculously enough the silence imposed on the Press
concerning the movements of the troops (_le mutisme_) was blamed
for the defeat at Weissenburg; then the exasperation swung back and was
directed against the generals, who were dubbed negligent and incapable,
until, ponderously and slowly, it turned against the Emperor himself.

But with the haste that characterises French emotion, and the rapidity
with which events succeeded one another, even this exasperation was of
short duration. It raged for a few days, and then subsided for want of
contradiction of its own accord, for the conviction spread that the
Emperor's day was irrevocably over and that he continued to exist only
in name. A witness to the rapidity of this _volte face_ were three
consecutive articles by Edmond About in _Le Soir_. The first,
written from his estate in Saverne, near Strassburg. was extremely
bitter against the Emperor; it began: "_Napoleone tertio feliciter
regnante_, as people said in the olden days, I have seen with my own
eyes, what I never thought to see: Alsace overrun by the enemy's
troops." The next article, written some days later, in the middle of
August, when About had come to Paris, called the Emperor, without more
ado, "The last Bonaparte," and began: "I see that I have been writing
like a true provincial; in the provinces at the moment people have two
curses on their lips, one for the Prussians, and one for those who began
the war; in Paris, they have got much farther; there they have only one
curse on their lips, one thought, and one wish; there are names that are
no more mentioned in Paris than if they belonged to the twelfth

What he wrote was, at the moment, true and correct. I was frequently
asked in letters what the French now said about the government and the
Emperor. The only answer was that all that side of the question was
antiquated in Paris. If I were to say to one of my acquaintances:
_"Eh! bien, que dites-vous de l'empereur_?" the reply would be:
_"Mais, mon cher, je ne dis rien de lui. Vous voyez si bien que moi,
qu'il ne compte plus. C'est un homme par terre. Tout le monde le sait;
la gauche meme ne l'attaque plus."_ Even General Trochu, the Governor
of the capital, did not mention Napoleon's name in his proclamation to
Paris. He himself hardly dared to send any messages. After having been
obliged to surrender the supreme command, he followed the army, like a
mock emperor, a kind of onlooker, a superfluous piece on the board.
People said of him: "_On croit qu'il se promene un peu aux environs de

As can be seen from this, the deposition of the Emperor had taken place
in people's consciousness, and was, so to speak, publicly settled,
several weeks before the battle of Sedan brought with it his surrender
to the King of Prussia and the proclamation of the French Republic. The
Revolution of September 4th was not an overturning of things; it was
merely the ratification of a state of affairs that people were already
agreed upon in the capital, and had been even before the battle of

In Paris preparations were being made with the utmost energy for the
defence of the city. All men liable to bear arms were called up, and
huge numbers of volunteers were drilled. It was an affecting sight to
see the poor workmen drilling on the Place du Carrousel for enrolment in
the volunteer corps. Really, most of them looked so bloodless and
wretched that one was tempted to think they went with the rest for the
sake of the franc a day and uniform.


Anyone whose way led him daily past the fortifications could see,
however technically ignorant he might be, that they were exceedingly
insignificant. Constantly, too, one heard quoted Trochu's words: "I
don't delude myself into supposing that I can stop the Prussians with
the matchsticks that are being planted on the ramparts." Strangely
enough, Paris shut herself in with such a wall of masonry that in
driving through it in the Bois de Boulogne, there was barely room for a
carriage with two horses. They bored loop-holes in these walls and
ramparts, but few doubted that the German artillery would be able to
destroy all their defences with the greatest ease.

Distribute arms to the civil population, as the papers unanimously
demanded, from readily comprehensible reasons, no one dared to do. The
Empress' Government had to hold out for the existing state of things;
nevertheless, in Paris,--certainly from about the 8th August,--people
were under the impression that what had been lost was lost irrevocably.

I considered it would be incumbent upon my honour to return to Denmark,
if we were drawn into the war, and I lived with this thought before my
eyes. I contemplated with certainty an approaching revolution in France;
I was vexed to think that there was not one conspicuously great and
energetic man among the leaders of the Opposition, and that such a poor
wretch as Rochefort was once more daily mentioned and dragged to the
front. Of Gambetta no one as yet thought, although his name was
respected, since he had made himself felt the last season as the most
vehement speaker in the Chamber. But it was not speakers who were
wanted, and people did not know that he was a man of action.

The Ministry that followed Ollivier's inspired me with no confidence.
Palikao, the Prime Minister, was termed in the papers an _iron man_
(the usual set phrase). It was said that he "would not scruple to clear
the boulevards with grape"; but the genius needed for such a performance
was not overwhelming. What he had to do was to clear France of the
Germans, and that was more difficult.

Renan had had to interrupt the journey to Spitzbergen which he had
undertaken in Prince Napoleon's company; the Prince and his party had
only reached Tromsoee, when they were called back on account of the war,
and Renan was in a state of the most violent excitement. He said: "No
punishment could be too great for that brainless scoundrel Ollivier, and
the Ministry that has followed his is worse. Every thinking man could
see for himself that the declaration of this war was madness. (_A-t-on
jamais vu pareille folie, mon Dieu, mon Dieu, c'est navrant. Nous sommes
un peuple desarconne._)" In his eyes, Palikao was no better than a
robber, Jerome David than a murderer. He considered the fall of
Strasburg imminent. He was less surprised than I at the unbounded
incapacity shown by the French fleet under the difficult conditions; all
plans for a descent on Northern Germany had already been given up, and
the French fleet was unable to set about even so much as a blockade of
the ports, such as the Danes had successfully carried out six years

Taine was as depressed as Renan. He had returned from Germany, where he
had gone to prepare a treatise on Schiller, on account of the sudden
death of Madame Taine's mother. As early as August 2d, when no battle
had as yet been fought, he felt exceedingly anxious, and he was the
first Frenchman whom I heard take into consideration the possibility of
the defeat of France; he expressed great sorrow that two nations such as
France and Germany should wage national war against each other as they
were doing. "I have just come from Germany," he remarked, "where I have
talked with many brave working-men. When I think of what it means for a
man to be born into the world, nursed, brought up, instructed, and
equipped; when I think what struggling and difficulties he must go
through himself to be fit for the battle of life, and then reflect how
all that is to be flung into the grave as a lump of bleeding flesh, how
can I do other than grieve! With two such statesmen as Louis Philippe,
war could certainly have been averted, but with two quarrelsome men like
Bismarck and Napoleon at the head of affairs, it was, of course,

Philarete Chasles saw in the defeats a confirmation of the theory that
he proclaimed, day in, day out, namely: that the Latin races were on the
rapid down-grade; Spain and Portugal, Italy, Roumania, the South
American republics, were, in his opinion, in a state of moral
putrefaction, France a sheer Byzantium. It had been a piece of
foolhardiness without parallel to try to make this war a decisive racial
struggle between the nation that, as Protestant, brought free research
in its train and one which had not yet been able to get rid of the Pope
and political despotism. Now France was paying the penalty.

Out in the country at Meudon, where he was, there had--probably from
carelessness--occurred repeated explosions, the last time on August
20th. Twenty cases of cartridges had just been sent to Bazaine; a
hundred still remained, which were to start the day that they were
urgently required. They blew up, and no one in the town doubted that the
explosion was the work of Prussian spies. For things had come to such a
pass that people saw Prussian spies everywhere. (During the first month
of the war all Germans were called Prussians.) Importance was attached
to the fact that General Frossard's nephew, a young lieutenant who lay
wounded in Chasles' tower-house, from a sword-thrust in the chest, and
was usually delirious, at the crash had jumped up and come to his
senses, crying out: "It is treachery! It is Chamber No. 6 blowing up!"
As a matter of fact, that was where the cartridges were. It was said
that at Meudon traces had been found of the same explosive as had been
used in bombs against the Emperor during the first days of May (a plot
that had probably been hatched by the police). The perpetrator,
however,--doubtless for good reasons--was not discovered.

Whatever vanity there was about old Philarete Chasles left him
altogether during this critical time, which seemed to make good men
better still. His niece, too, who used to be loud-voiced and conceited,
was quite a different person. One day that I was at their house at
Meudon, she sat in a corner for a long time crying quietly. Out there,
they were all feverishly anxious, could not rest, craved, partly to hear
the latest news, partly to feel the pulse of Paris. One day after
dinner, Chasles invited me to go into town with him, and when we arrived
he took a carriage and drove about with me for two hours observing the
prevailing mood. We heard countless anecdotes, most of them apocryphal,
but reflecting the beliefs of the moment: The Empress had sent three
milliards (!) in French gold to the Bank of England. The Emperor, who
was jealous of Macmahon since the latter had rescued him at Magenta, had
taken the command of the Turcos from the Marshal, although the latter
had said in the Council of War: "The Turcos must be given to me, they
will not obey anyone else." And true it was that no one else had any
control over them. If one had committed theft, or misbehaved himself in
any other way, and Macmahon. whom they called only "Our Marshal," rode
down the front of their lines and scolded them, they began to cry,
rushed up and kissed his feet, and hung to his horse, like children
asking for forgiveness. And now someone had made the great mistake of
giving them to another general. And, the commander being anxious to
dazzle the Germans with them, they and the Zouaves had been sent first
into the fire, in spite of Bazaine's very sensible observation: "When
you drive, you do not begin at a galop." And so these picked troops were
broken up in their first engagement. It was said that of 2,500 Turcos,
only 29 were left.

An anecdote like the following, which was told to us, will serve to show
how popular legends grow up, in virtue of the tendency there is to
reduce a whole battle to a collision between two generals, just as in
the Homeric age, or in Shakespeare: The Crown Prince of Prussia was
fighting very bravely at Woerth, in the front ranks. That he threw the
Turcos into confusion was the result of a ray of sunlight falling on the
silver eagle on his helmet. The Arabs thought it a sign from Heaven.
Macmahon, who was shooting in the ranks, was so near the Crown Prince
that the latter shouted to him in French: "_Voila un homme!_" but
the Frenchman surpassed him in chivalrous politeness, for he saluted,
and replied: "_Voila un heros!_"


After my return to Paris, I had taken lessons from an excellent language
teacher, Mademoiselle Guemain, an old maid who had for many years taught
French to Scandinavians, and for whom I wrote descriptions and remarks
on what I saw, to acquire practise in written expression. She had known
most of the principal Northerners who had visited Paris during the last
twenty years, had taught Magdalene Thoresen, amongst others, when this
latter as a young woman had stayed in Paris. She was an excellent
creature, an unusual woman, intellectual, sensitive, and innocent, who
made an unforgettable impression upon one. Besides the appointed lesson-
times, we sometimes talked for hours together. How sad that the lives of
such good and exceptional women should vanish and disappear, without any
special thanks given to them in their life-times, and with no one of the
many whom they have benefitted to tell publicly of their value. She
possessed all the refinement of the French, together with the modesty of
an old maid, was both personally inexperienced, and by virtue of the
much that she had seen, very experienced in worldly things. I visited
her again in 1889, after the lapse of nineteen years, having learned her
address through Jonas Lie and his wife, who knew her. I found her older,
but still more charming, and touchingly humble. It cut me to the heart
to hear her say: _"C'est une vraie charite que vous me faites de venir
me voir."_

Mlle. Guemain was profoundly affected, like everyone else, by what we
were daily passing through during this time of heavy strain. As a woman,
she was impressed most by the seriousness which had seized even the most
frivolous people, and by the patriotic enthusiasm which was spreading in
ever wider circles. She regarded it as deeper and stronger than as a
rule it was.


The temper prevailing among my Italian friends was very different. The
Italians, as their way was, were just like children, laughed at the
whole thing, were glad that the Prussians were "drubbing" the French, to
whom, as good patriots, they wished every misfortune possible. The
French had behaved like tyrants in Italy; now they were being paid out.
Besides which, the Prussians would not come to Paris. But if they did
come, they would be nice to them, and invite them to dinner, like
friends. Sometimes I attempted to reply, but came off badly. One day
that I had ventured a remark to a large and ponderous Roman lady, on the
ingratitude of the Italians towards the French, the good lady jumped as
if a knife had been stuck into her, and expatiated passionately on the
infamy of the French. The Romans were,--as everyone knew,--the first
nation on earth. The French had outraged them, had dared to prevent them
making their town the capital of Italy, by garrisoning it with French
soldiers who had no business there, so that they had themselves asked
for the Nemesis which was now overtaking them, and which the Italians
were watching with flashing eyes. She said this, in spite of her anger,
with such dignity, and such a bearing, that one could not but feel that,
if she were one day called upon to adorn a throne, she would seat
herself upon it as naturally, and as free from embarrassment, as though
it were nothing but a Roman woman's birthright.


In the meantime, defeats and humiliations were beginning to confuse the
good sense of the French, and to lead their instincts astray. The crowd
could not conceive that such things could come about naturally. The
Prussians could not possibly have won by honourable means, but must have
been spying in France for years. Why else were so many Germans settled
in Paris! The French were paying now, not for their faults, but for
their virtues, the good faith, the hospitality, the innocent welcome
they had given to treacherous immigrants. They had not understood that
the foreigner from the North was a crafty and deceitful enemy.

It gradually became uncomfortable for a foreigner in Paris. I never went
out without my passport. But even a passport was no safeguard. It was
enough for someone to make some utterly unfounded accusation, express
some foolish, chance suspicion, for the non-Frenchman to be maltreated
as a "spy." Both in Metz and in Paris, in the month of August, people
who were taken for "Prussians" were hanged or dismembered. In the latter
part of August the papers reported from the Dordogne that a mob there
had seized a young man, a M. de Moneys, of whom a gang had asserted that
he had shouted _"Vive la Prusse!"_ had stripped him, bound him with
ropes, carried him out into a field, laid him on a pile of damp wood,
and as this would not take fire quick enough, had pushed trusses of
straw underneath all round him, and burnt him alive. From the
_Quartier La Vilette_ in Paris, one heard every day of similar
slaughter of innocent persons who the people fancied were Prussian
spies. Under such circumstances, a trifle might become fatal. One
evening at the end of August I had been hearing _L'Africaine_ at the
grand opera, and at the same time Marie Sass' delivery of the
_Marseillaise_--she sang as though she had a hundred fine bells in
her voice, but she sang the national anthem like an aria. Outside the
opera-house I hailed a cab. The coachman was asleep; a man jogged him to
wake him, and he started to drive. I noticed that during the drive he
looked at his watch and then drove on for all that he was worth, as fast
as the harness and reins would stand. When I got to the hotel I handed
him his fare and a four sous' tip. He bawled out that it was not enough;
he had been _de remise_; he had taken me for someone else, being
waked so suddenly; he had been bespoken by another gentleman. I laughed
and replied that that was his affair, not mine; what had it got to do with
me? But as all he could demand, if he had really been _de remise_,
was two sous more, and as, under the ordinances prevailing, it was
impossible to tell whether he was or not, I gave him the two sous; but no
tip with it, since he had no right to claim it, and I had not the
slightest doubt that he was lying. Then he began to croak that it was a
shame not to give a _pourboire_, and, seeing that did not help
matters, as I simply walked up the hotel steps, he shouted in his
ill-temper, first _"Vous n'etes pas Francais!"_ and then _"Vous
etes Prussien!"_ No sooner had he said it than all the hotel servants
who were standing in the doorway disappeared, and the people in the street
listened, stopped, and turned round. I grasped the danger, and flew into a
passion. In one bound I was in the road, I rushed at the cabman, seized
him by the throat and shook my hand, with its knuckle-duster upon it,
threateningly at his head. Then he forgot to abuse me and suddenly whined:
_"Ne frappez pas, monsieur!"_ mounted his box, and drove very tamely
away. In my exasperation I called the hotel waiters together and poured
scorn on them for their cowardice.

In spite of the season, it was uncomfortable weather, and the temper of
the town was as uncomfortable as the weather. As time went on, few
people were to be seen about the streets, but there was a run on the
gunmakers' and sword-smiths'. By day no cheerful shouts or songs rang
out, but children of six or seven years of age would go hand in hand in
rows down the street in the evenings, singing _"Mourir pour la
patrie,"_ to its own beautiful, affecting melody. But these were the
only gentle sounds one heard. Gradually, the very air seemed to be
reeking with terror and frenzy. Exasperation rolled up once more, like a
thick, black stream, against the Emperor, against the ministers and
generals, and against the Prussians, whom people thought they saw


Foreigners were requested to leave Paris, so that, in the event of a
siege, the city might have no unnecessary mouths to feed.
Simultaneously, in Trochu's proclamation, it was announced that the
enemy might be outside the walls in three days. Under such
circumstances, the town was no longer a place for anyone who did not
wish to be shut up in it.

One night at the end of August, I travelled from Paris to Geneva. At the
departure station the thousands of German workmen who had been expelled
from Paris were drawn up, waiting, herded together like cattle,--a
painful sight. These workmen were innocent of the war, the defeats, and
the spying service of which they were accused; now they were being
driven off in hordes, torn from their work, deprived of their bread, and
surrounded by inimical lookers-on.

As it had been said that trains to the South would cease next day, the
Geneva train was overfilled, and one had to be well satisfied to secure
a seat at all. My travelling companions of the masculine gender were
very unattractive: an impertinent and vulgar old Swiss who, as it was a
cold night, and he had no travelling-rug, wrapped himself up in four or
five of his dirty shirts--a most repulsive sight; a very precise young
Frenchman who, without a vestige of feeling for the fate of his country
and nation, explained to us that he had long had a wish to see Italy,
and had thought that now, business being in any case at a standstill,
the right moment had arrived.

The female travellers in the compartment were a Parisian, still young,
and her bright and charming fifteen-year-old daughter, whose beauty was
not unlike that of Mlle. Massin, the lovely actress at the _Theatre du
Gymnase_. The mother was all fire and flame, and raved, almost to
tears, over the present pass, cried shame on the cowardice of the
officers for not having turned out the Emperor; her one brother was a
prisoner at Koenigsberg; all her male relations were in the field. The
daughter was terror-struck at the thought that the train might be
stopped by the enemy--which was regarded as very likely--but laughed at
times, and was divided between fear of the Prussians and exceeding
anxiety to see them: _"J'aimerais bien pouvoir dire que j'aie vu des

At one station some soldiers in rout, with torn and dusty clothes, got
into our carriage; they looked repulsive, bespattered with mud and clay;
they were in absolute despair, and you could hear from their
conversation how disorganised discipline was, for they abused their
officers right and left, called them incapable and treacherous, yet
themselves gave one the impression of being very indifferent soldiers.
The young sergeant major who was leading them was the only one who was
in anything like spirits, and even he was not much to boast of. It was
curious what things he believed: Marshal Leboeuf had had a Prussian
officer behind his chair, disguised as a waiter, at Metz, and it had
only just been discovered. Russia had lent troops to Prussia, and put
them into Prussian uniforms; otherwise there could not possibly be so
many of them. But Rome, too, was responsible for the misfortunes of
France; the Jesuits had planned it all, because the country was so
educated; they never liked anybody to learn anything.

After Culoz commenced the journey through the lovely Jura mountains. On
both sides an immense panorama of high, wooded mountain ridges, with
poverty-stricken little villages along the mountain sides. At Bellegarde
our passports were demanded; no one was allowed to cross the frontier
without them--a stupid arrangement. The Alps began to bound our view.
The train went on, now through long tunnels, now between precipices, now
again over a rocky ridge, whence you looked down into the valley where
the blue-green Rhone wound and twined its way between the rocks like a
narrow ribbon. The speed seemed to be accelerating more and more. The
first maize-field. Slender poplars, without side-branches, but wholly
covered with foliage, stood bent almost into spirals by the strong wind
from the chinks of the rocks. The first Swiss house.


There was Geneva, between the Alps, divided by the southern extremity of
Lake Leman, which was spanned by many handsome bridges. In the centre, a
little isle, with Rousseau's statue. A little beyond, the Rhone rushed
frothing and foaming out of the lake. From my window I could see in the
distance the dazzling snow peak of Mont Blanc.

After Paris, Geneva looked like a provincial town. The cafes were like
servants' quarters or corners of cafes. There were no people in the
streets, where the sand blew up in clouds of dust till you could hardly
see out of your eyes, and the roads were not watered. In the hotel, in
front of the mirror, the New Testament in French, bound in leather; you
felt that you had come to the capital of Calvinism.

The streets in the old part of the town were all up and down hill. In
the windows of the booksellers' shops there were French verses against
France, violent diatribes against Napoleon III. and outbursts of
contempt for the nation that had lost its virility and let itself be
cowed by a tyrant. By the side of these, portraits of the Freethinkers
and Liberals who had been driven from other countries and found a refuge
in Switzerland.

I sailed the lake in every direction, enraptured by its beauty and the
beauty of the surrounding country. Its blueness, to which I had never
seen a parallel, altogether charmed me in the changing lights of night
and day. On the lake I made the acquaintance of a very pleasant Greek
family, the first I had encountered anywhere. The eldest daughter, a
girl of fourteen, lost her hat. I had a new silk handkerchief packed
amongst my things, and offered it to her. She accepted it and bound it
round her hair. Her name was Maria Kumelas. I saw for the first time an
absolutely pure Greek profile, such as I had been acquainted with
hitherto only from statues. One perfect, uninterrupted line ran from the
tip of her nose to her hair.


I went for excursions into Savoy, ascended La Grande Saleve on donkey-
back, and from the top looked down at the full length of the Leman.

I drove to the valley of Chamounix, sixty-eight miles, in a diligence
and four; about every other hour we had relays of horses and a new
driver. Whenever possible, we went at a rattling galop. Half-way I heard
the first Italian. It was only the word _quattro_; but it filled me
with delight. Above the high, wooded mountains, the bare rock projected
out of the earth, at the very top. The wide slopes up which the wood
ascended, until it looked like moss on stone, afforded a view miles in
extent. The river Arve, twisting itself in curves, was frequently
spanned by the roadway; it was of a greyish white, and very rapid, but
ugly. Splendid wooden bridges were thrown over it, with abysms on both
sides. Midway, after having for some time been hidden behind the
mountains, Mont Blanc suddenly appeared in its gleaming splendour,
positively tiring and paining the eye. It was a new and strange feeling
to be altogether hemmed in by mountains. It was oppressive to a plain-
dweller to be shut in thus, and not to be able to get away from the
immutable sheet of snow, with its jagged summits. Along the valley of
the stream, the road ran between marvellously fresh walnut-trees, plane-
trees, and avenues of apple trees; but sometimes we drove through
valleys so narrow that the sun only shone on them two or three hours of
the day, and there it was cold and damp. Savoy was plainly enough a poor
country. The grapes were small and not sweet; soil there was little of,
but every patch was utilised to the best advantage. In one place a
mountain stream rushed down the rocks; at a sharp corner, which jutted
out like the edge of a sloping roof, the stream was split up and
transformed into such fine spray that one could perceive no water at
all; afterwards the stream united again at the foot of the mountain, and
emptied itself with frantic haste into the river, foaming greyish white,
spreading an icy cold around. The changes of temperature were striking.
Under shelter, hot Summer, two steps further, stern, inclement Autumn,
air that penetrated to the very marrow of your bones. You ran through
every season of the year in a quarter of an hour.

The other travellers were English people, all of one pattern,
unchangeable, immovable. If one of them had buttoned up his coat at the
beginning of the drive, he did not unbutton it on the way, were he never
so warm, and if he had put leather gloves on, for ten hours they would
not be off his hands. The men yawned for the most part; the young ladies
jabbered. The English had made the whole country subservient to them,
and at the hotels one Englishman in this French country was paid more
attention to than a dozen Frenchmen.

Here I understood two widely different poems: Hauch's Swiss Peasant, and
Bjoernson's Over the Hills and Far Away. Hauch had felt this scenery and
the nature of these people, by virtue of his Norwegian birth and his
gift of entering into other people's thought; Bjoernson had given
unforgettable expression to the feeling of imprisoned longing. But for
the man who had been breathing street dust and street sweepings for four
months, it was good to breathe the strong, pure air, and at last see
once more the clouds floating about and beating against the mountain
sides, leaning, exhausted, against a declivity and resting on their
journey. Little children of eight or ten were guarding cattle, children
such as we know so well in the North, when they come with their marmots;
they looked, without exception, like tiny rascals, charming though they

I rode on a mule to Montanvert, and thence on foot over the Mer de
Glace, clambered up the steep mountain side to Chapeau, went down to the
crystal Grotto and rode from there back to Chamounix. The ride up in the
early hours of the morning was perfect, the mountain air so light; the
mists parted; the pine-trees round the fresh mountain path exhaled a
penetrating fragrance. An American family with whom I had become
acquainted took three guides with them for four persons. One worthy old
gentleman who was travelling with his young daughter, would not venture
upon this feat of daring, but his daughter was so anxious to accompany
us that when I offered to look after her she was entrusted to my care. I
took two mules and a guide, thinking that sufficient. From Montanvert
and down to the glacier, the road was bad, a steep, rocky path, with
loose, rolling stones. When we came to the Ice Sea, the young lady, as
was natural, took the guide's hand, and I, the last of the caravan,
strode cautiously along, my alpenstock in my hand, over the slippery,
billow-like ice. But soon it began to split up into deep crevasses, and
farther on we came to places where the path you had to follow was no
wider than a few hands' breadth, with yawning precipices in the ice on
both sides. I grew hot to the roots of my hair, and occasionally my
heart stood still. It was not that I was actually afraid. The guide
shouted to me: "Look neither to right nor left; look at your feet, and
turn out your toes!" I had only one thought--not to slip!--and out on
the ice I grew burningly hot. When at last I was across, I noticed that
I was shaking. Strangely enough, I was trembling at the _thought_
of the blue, gaping crevasses on both sides of me, down which I had
barely glanced, and yet I had passed them without a shudder. The
beginning of the crossing had been comparatively easy; it was only that
at times it was very slippery. But in the middle of the glacier,
progress was very uncomfortable; moraines, and heaps of gigantic blocks
lay in your path, and all sorts of stone and gravel, which melted
glaciers had brought down with them, and these were nasty to negotiate.
When at last you had them behind you, came le _Mauvais Pas_, which
corresponded to its name. You climbed up the precipitous side of the
rock with the help of an iron railing drilled into it. But foothold was
narrow and the stone damp, from the number of rivulets that rippled and
trickled down. Finally it was necessary at every step to let go the
railing for a few seconds. The ascent then, and now, was supposed to be
quite free from danger, and the view over the glaciers which one gained
by it, was a fitting reward for the inconvenience. Even more beautiful
than the summit of Mont Blanc itself, with its rounded contours, were
the steep, gray, rocky peaks, with ice in every furrow, that are called
_l'Aiguille du Dru_. These mountains, which as far as the eye could
range seemed to be all the same height, although they varied from 7,000
to 14,800 feet, stretched for miles around the horizon.

The ice grotto here was very different from the sky-blue glacier grotto
into which I had wandered two years earlier at Grindelwald. Here the ice
mass was so immensely high that not the slightest peep of daylight
penetrated through it into the excavated archway that led into the ice.
It was half-dark inside, and the only light proceeded from a row of
little candles stuck into the crevices of the rock. The ice was jet
black in colour, the light gleaming with a golden sheen from all the
rounded projections and jagged points. It was like the gilt
ornamentation on a velvet pall.

When I returned from Chamounix to Geneva, the proprietor of the hotel
was standing in the doorway and shouted to me: "The whole of the French
army, with the Emperor, has been taken prisoner at Sedan!"--
"Impossible!" I exclaimed. "It is quite certain," he replied; "it was in
the German telegrams, and so far there has not come a single unveracious
telegram from the Germans."

The next day a Genevese paper published the news of the proclamation of
the Republic in France.

Simultaneously arrived a letter from Julius Lange, attacking me for my
"miserly city politics," seriously complaining that "our declaration of
war against Prussia had come to nothing," and hoping that my stay in
France had by now made me alter my views.

In his opinion, we had neglected "an opportunity of rebellion, that
would never recur."


Lake Leman fascinated me. All the scenery round looked fairy-like to me,
a dream land, in which mighty mountains cast their blue-black shadows
down on the turquoise water, beneath a brilliant, sparkling sunshine
that saturated the air with its colouring. My impressions of Lausanne,
Chillon, Vevey, Montreux, were recorded in the first of my lectures at
the University the following year. The instruments of torture at
Chillon, barbaric and fearsome as they were, made me think of the still
worse murderous instruments being used in the war between France and
Germany. It seemed to me that if one could see war at close quarters,
one would come to regard the earth as peopled by dangerous lunatics.
Political indifference to human life and human suffering had taken the
place of the premeditated cruelty of the Middle Ages. Still, if no
previous war had ever been so frightful, neither had there ever been so
much done to mitigate suffering. While fanatic Frenchwomen on the
battlefields cut the noses off wounded Germans, and mutilated them when
they could, and while the Germans were burning villages and killing
their peaceful inhabitants, if one of them had so much as fired a shot,
in all quietness the great societies for the care of the wounded were
doing their work. And in this Switzerland especially bore the palm.
There were two currents then, one inhuman and one humane, and of the
two, the latter will one day prove itself the stronger. Under Louis XIV.
war was still synonymous with unlimited plundering, murder, rape,
thievery and robbery. Under Napoleon I. there were still no such things
as ambulances. The wounded were carted away now and again in waggons,
piled one on the top of each other, if any waggons were to be had; if
not, they were left as they lay, or were flung into a ditch, there to
die in peace. Things were certainly a little better.


In Geneva, the news reached me that--in spite of a promise Hall, as
Minister, had given to Hauch, when the latter asked for it for me--I was
to receive no allowance from the Educational Department. To a repetition
of the request, Hall had replied: "I have made so many promises and
half-promises, that it has been impossible to remember or to keep them."
This disappointment hit me rather hard; I had in all only about L50
left, and could not remain away more than nine weeks longer without
getting into debt, I, who had calculated upon staying a whole year
abroad. Circumstances over which I had no control later obliged me,
however, to remain away almost another year. But that I could not
foresee, and I had no means whatever to enable me to do so. Several of
my acquaintances had had liberal allowances from the Ministry; Krieger
and Martensen had procured Heegaard L225 at once, when he had been
anxious to get away from Rasmus Nielsen's influence. It seemed to me
that this refusal to give me anything augured badly for the appointment
I was hoping for in Denmark. I could only earn a very little with my
pen: about 11_s_. 3_d_. for ten folio pages, and as I did not
feel able, while travelling, to write anything of any value, I did not
attempt it. It was with a sort of horror that, after preparing for long
travels that were to get me out of the old folds, I thought of the
earlier, narrow life I had led in Copenhagen. All the old folds seemed,
at this distance, to have been the folds of a strait-waistcoat.


With abominable slowness, and very late, "on account of the war," the
train crawled from Geneva, southwards. Among the travellers was a
rhetorical Italian master-mason, from Lyons, an old Garibaldist, the
great event of whose life was that Garibaldi had once taken lunch alone
with him at Varese. He preserved in his home as a relic the glass from
which the general had drunk. He was talkative, and ready to help
everyone; he gave us all food and drink from his provisions. Other
travellers told that they had had to stand in queue for fully twelve
hours in front of the ticket office in Paris, to get away from the town.

The train passed the place where Rousseau had lived, at Madame de
Warens'. In an official work on Savoy, written by a priest, I had
recently read a summary dismissal of Rousseau, as a calumniator of his
benefactress. According to this author, it certainly looked as though,
to say the least of it, Rousseau's memory had failed him amazingly
sometimes. The book asserted, for instance, that the Claude of whom he
speaks was no longer alive at the time when he was supposed to be
enjoying Madame de Warens' favours.

We passed French volunteers in blouses bearing a red cross; they shouted
and were in high good humour; passed ten districts, where numbers of
cretins, with their hideous excrescences, sat by the wayside. At last we
arrived,--several hours behind time,--at St. Michel, at the foot of Mont
Cenis; it was four o'clock in the afternoon, and I was beginning to feel
tired, for I had been up since four in the morning. At five o'clock we
commenced the ascent, to the accompaniment of frightful groanings from
the engine; all the travellers were crowded together in three wretched
little carriages, the small engine not being able to pull more. Gay
young French girls exulted at the idea of seeing "Italy's fair skies."
They were not particularly fair here; the weather was rough and cloudy,
in keeping with abysms and mountain precipices. But late at night the
journey over Mont Cenis was wonderful. High up on the mountain the
moonlight gleamed on the mountain lake. And the way was dominated, from
one rocky summit, by the castle of Bramans with its seven imposing

The locomotive stopped for an hour, for want of water. We were thus
obliged to sleep at the little Italian town of Susa (in a glorious
valley under Mont Cenis), the train to Turin having left three hours
before. Susa was the first Italian town I saw. When the train came in
next morning to the station at Turin, a crowd of Italian soldiers, who
were standing there, shouted: "The Prussians for ever!" and winked at
me. "What are they shouting for?" I asked a young Turin fellow with whom
I had had some long conversations. "It is an ovation to you," he
replied. "People are delighted at the victory of the Prussians, and they
think you are a Prussian, because of your fair moustache and beard."


An overwhelming impression was produced upon me by the monuments of
Turin, the River Po, and the lovely glee-singing in the streets. For the
first time, I saw colonnades, with heavy curtains to the street, serve
as pavements, with balconies above them. Officers in uniforms gleaming
with gold, ladies with handkerchiefs over their heads instead of hats,
the mild warmth, the brown eyes, brought it home to me at every step
that I was in a new country.

I hurried up to Costanza Blanchetti. _Madame la comtesse est a la
campagne. Monsieur le comte est sorti._ Next morning, as I was
sitting in my room in the Hotel Trombetta, Blanchetti rushed in, pressed
me to his bosom, kissed me on both cheeks, would not let me go, but
insisted on carrying me off with him to the country.

We drove round the town first, then went by rail to Alpignano, where
Costanza was staying with a relative of the family, Count Buglioni di
Monale. Here I was received like a son, and shown straight to my room,
where there stood a little bed with silk hangings, and where, on the
pillow, there lay a little, folded-up thing, likewise of white silk,
which was an enigma to me till, on unfolding it, I found it was a night-
cap, the classical night-cap, tapering to a point, which you see at the
theatre in old comedies. The Buglionis were gentle, good-natured people,
rugged and yet refined, an old, aristocratic country gentleman and his
wife. Nowhere have I thought grapes so heavy and sweet and aromatic as
there. The perfume from the garden was so strong and fragrant.
Impossible to think of a book or a sheet of paper at Alpignano. We
walked under the trees, lay among the flowers, enjoyed the sight and the
flavour of the apricots and grapes, and chatted, expressing by smiles
our mutual quiet, deep-reaching sympathy.

One evening I went into Turin with Blanchetti to see the play. The lover
in _La Dame aux Camelias_ was played by a young Italian named
Lavaggi, as handsome as an Antinous, a type which I often encountered in
Piedmont. With his innate charm, restful calm, animation of movement and
the fire of his beauty, he surpassed the acting of all the young lovers
I had seen on the boards of the French theatres. The very play of his
fingers was all grace and expression.


On my journey from Turin to Milan, I had the mighty Mont Rosa, with its
powerful snow mass, and the St. Bernard, over which Buonaparte led his
tattered troops, before my eyes. We went across maize fields, through
thickets, over the battlefield of Magenta. From reading Beyle, I had
pictured Milan as a beautiful town, full of free delight in life. Only
to see it would be happiness. And it was,--the cupola gallery, the dome,
from the roof of which, immediately after my arrival, I looked out over
the town, shining under a pure, dark-blue sky. In the evening, in the
public gardens, I revelled in the beauty of the Milanese women. Italian
ladies at that time still wore black lace over their heads instead of
hats. Their dresses were open in front, the neck being bare half-way
down the chest. I was struck by the feminine type. Upright, slender-
waisted women; delicate, generally bare hands; oval faces, the eyebrows
of an absolutely perfect regularity; narrow noses, well formed, the
nostrils curving slightly upwards and outwards--the models of Leonardo
and Luini.

The _Last Supper_, in the church of St. Maria delle Grazie, and the
drawings in the Ambrose Library, brought me closer to Leonardo than I
had ever been able to get before, through reproductions; I saw the true
expression in the face of the Christ in the _Last Supper_, which
copies cannot avoid distorting.


A violent affection for Correggio, and a longing to see his works where
they are to be found in greatest number, sent me to Parma.

I reached the town at night; no gas, no omnibus from any hotel. An out-
porter trotted with my portmanteau on his back through wide, pitch-dark,
deserted, colonnaded streets, past huge palaces, until, after half an
hour's rapid walk, we arrived at the hotel. The day before my arrival
dall'Ongaro had unveiled the beautiful and beautifully situated statue
of Correggio in the Market Square. I first investigated the two domes in
the Cathedral and San Giovanni Evangelista, then the ingratiating
pictorial decoration of the convent of San Paolo. In the Museum, where I
was pretty well the only visitor, I was so eagerly absorbed in studying
Correggio and jotting down my impressions, that, in order to waste no
time, I got the attendant to buy my lunch, and devoured it,--bread,
cheese, and grapes,--in the family's private apartments. They were
pleasant, obliging people, and as I bought photographs for a
considerable amount from them, they were very hospitable. They talked
politics to me and made no secret of their burning hatred for France.

There were other things to see at Parma besides Correggio, although for
me he dominated the town. There was a large exhibition of modern Italian
paintings and statuary, and the life of the people in the town and round
about. In the streets stood carts full of grapes. Four or five fellows
with bare feet would stamp on the grapes in one of these carts; a trough
led from the cart down to a vat, into which the juice ran, flinging off
all dirt in fermentation.

It was pleasant to walk round the old ramparts of the town in the
evening glow, and it was lively in the ducal park. One evening little
knots of Italian soldiers were sitting there. One of them sang in a
superb voice, another accompanied him very nicely on the lute; the
others listened with profound and eager attention.


After this came rich days in Florence. Everything was a delight to me
there, from the granite paving of the streets, to palaces, churches,
galleries, and parks. I stood in reverence before the Medici monuments
in Michael Angelo's sanctuary. The people attracted me less; the women
seemed to me to have no type at all, compared with the lovely faces and
forms at Milan and Parma. The fleas attracted me least of all.

Dall 'Ongaro received every Sunday evening quite an international
company, and conversation consequently dragged. With the charming
Japanese wife of the English consul, who spoke only English and
Japanese, neither of her hosts could exchange a word. There were
Dutchmen and Swiss there with their ladies; sugar-sweet and utterly
affected young Italian men; handsome young painters and a few prominent
Italian scientists, one of whom, in the future, was to become my friend.

I had a double recommendation to the Danish Minister at Florence, from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from an old and intimate friend of
his in Copenhagen. When I presented my letters, he exclaimed, in
annoyance: "These special recommendations again! How often must I
explain that they are unnecessary, that all Danes, as such, are welcome
to my house!"--This was the delicate manner in which he let me
understand that he was not inclined to do anything whatever for me.
Moreover, he began at once with regrets that his family were absent, so
that he was not in housekeeping, and could not entertain anyone.

At a production of Emile Augier's _Le Fils de Giboyer_, at which
all the foreign diplomatists were present, he, too, turned up. While the
other diplomatists greeted each other silently with a nod, he made more
of the meeting than any one else did, went from place to place in the
stalls, shook hands, spoke French, German, English and Italian by turns,
was all things to all men, then came and sat down by me, made himself
comfortable, and in a moment was fast asleep. When he began to snore,
one after another of his colleagues turned their heads, and smiled
faintly. He slept through two acts and the intervals between them, in
spite of the voices from the stage and the loud talking between the
acts, and woke up in the middle of the third act, to mumble in my ear,
"It is not much pleasure to see the piece played like this."

At my favourite restaurant, _Trattoria dell'antiche carrozze_, I
was one day witness to a violent dispute between a Polish noble who, for
political reasons, had fled from Russian Poland, and Hans Semper, a
Prussian, author of a book on Donatello. The latter naturally worshipped
Bismarck, the former warmly espoused the cause of Denmark. When I left,
I said politely to him:

"I thank you for having so warmly defended my country; I am a Dane." The
next day the Pole came to look for me at the restaurant, and a closer
acquaintance resulted. We went for many walks together along the
riverside; he talking like a typical Polish patriot, I listening to his
dreams of the resuscitated Poland that the future was to see. I mention
this only because it affords an example of the remarkable coincidences
life brings about, which make one so easily exclaim: "How small the
world is!" This Pole became engaged several years afterwards to a young
Polish girl and left her, without any explanation, having got entangled
with a Russian ballet dancer. I made her acquaintance at Warsaw fifteen
years after I had met him at Florence. She was then twenty-six years of
age, and is one of the women who have taught me most; she told me the
story of her early youth and of the unengaging part my acquaintance of
1870 had played in it.

At Florence I saw Rossi as Hamlet. The performance was a disappointment
to me, inasmuch as Rossi, with his purely Italian nature, had done away
with the essentially English element in Hamlet. The keen English humour,
in his hands, became absurd and ridiculous. Hamlet's hesitation to act,
he overlooked altogether. Hamlet, to him, was a noble young man who was
grieved at his mother's ill-behaviour. The details he acted like a
virtuoso. For instance, it was very effective during the mimic play,
when, lying at Ophelia's feet, he crushes her fan in his hands at the
moment when the King turns pale. I derived my chief enjoyment, not from
the acting, but from the play. It suddenly revealed itself to me from
other aspects, and I fell prostrate in such an exceeding admiration for
Shakespeare that I felt I should never rise again. It was touching to
hear the Italians' remarks on _Hamlet_. The piece was new to them.
You frequently heard the observation: "It is a very philosophical
piece." As people changed from place to place, and sat wherever they
liked, I overheard many different people's opinions of the drama. The
suicide monologue affected these fresh and alert minds very powerfully.

That evening, moreover, I had occasion to observe human cowardice, which
is never accounted so great as it really is. There was a noise behind
the scene during the performance, and immediately afterwards a shout of
_Fuoco!_ The audience were overmastered by terror. More than half
of them rushed to the doors, pulled each other down, and trampled on the
fallen, in their endeavours to get out quickly enough; others rushed up
on the stage itself. As there was not the least sign of fire visible, I
of course remained in my seat. A few minutes later one of the actors
came forward and explained that there had been no fire; a fight between
two of the scene-shifters had been the cause of all the alarm. The good-
humoured Italians did not even resent the fellows having thus disturbed
and interrupted the performance.

John Stuart Mill had given me an introduction to Pasquale Villari, who,
even at that time, was _commendatore professore_, and held a high
position on the Board of Education, but was still far from having
attained the zenith of his fame and influence. When the reserve of the
first few days had worn off, he was simply splendid to me. When anything
I said struck him as being to the point, he pressed my hands with all
the ardour of youth, and he applauded every joke I attempted with
uproarious laughter.

Some twenty years were to elapse before I saw him again. Then he called
upon me in Copenhagen, wishing to make my acquaintance, without in the
least suspecting that I was the young man who, so long before, had come
to him from Mill. He looked with amazement at books in which he had
written with his own hand, and at old letters from himself which I
produced. I visited him again in 1898. His books on Machiavelli and
Savonarola entitle him to rank among the foremost students and exponents
of Italy.

I went one day to the great annual fair at Fiesole. Shouting and
shrieking, the people drove down the unspeakably dusty road with such
haste, carelessness and high spirits that conveyances struck against
each other at every moment. It was the life represented in Marstrand's
old-time pictures. In crowded Fiesole, I saw the regular Tuscan country
type, brown eyes, yellow or clear, white skin, thin, longish face, brown
or fair, but never black hair, strong, healthy bodies. The masculine
type with which I was acquainted from the soldiers, was undeniably
handsomer than our own, in particular, was more intelligent; the young
women were modest, reserved in their manner, seldom entered into
conversation with the men, and despite the fire in their eyes,
manifested a certain peasant bashfulness, which seems to be the same


Vines twine round the fruit-trees; black pigs and their families make
their appearance in tribes; the lake of Thrasymene, near which Hannibal
defeated the Romans, spreads itself out before us. The train is going
from Florence to Rome. Towards mid-day a girl enters the carriage,
apparently English or North American, with brown eyes and brown hair,
that curls naturally about her head; she has her guitar-case in her
hand, and flings it up into the net. Her parents follow her. As there is
room in the compartment for forty-eight persons without crowding, she
arranges places for her parents, and after much laughter and joking the
latter settle off to sleep. The Italians stare at her; but not I. I sit
with my back to her. She sits down, back to back with me, then turns her
head and asks me, in Italian, some question about time, place, or the
like. I reply as best I can. She (in English): "You are Italian?" On my
reply, she tells me: "I hardly know twenty words in Italian; I only
speak English, although I have been living in Rome for two years."

She then went on to relate that she was an American, born of poor
parents out on the Indian frontier; she was twenty-six years old, a
sculptor, and was on her way from Carrara, where she had been
superintending the shipment of one of her works, a statue of Lincoln,
which the Congress at Washington had done her the honour of ordering
from her. It was only when she was almost grown up that her talent had
been discovered by an old sculptor who happened to pay a visit and who,
when he saw her drawing, had, half in jest, given her a lump of clay and
said: "Do a portrait of me!" She had then never seen a statue or a
painting, but she evinced such talent that before long several
distinguished men asked her to do busts of them, amongst others,
Lincoln. She was staying at his house that 14th April, 1865, when he was
murdered, and was consequently selected to execute the monument after
his death. She hesitated for a long time before giving up the modest,
but certain, position she held at the time in a post-office; but, as
others believed in her talent, she came to Europe, stayed first in
Paris, where, to her delight, she made the acquaintance of Gustave Dore,
and where she modelled a really excellent bust of Pere Hyacinthe,
visited London, Berlin, Munich, Florence, and settled down in Rome.
There she received plenty of orders, had, moreover, obtained permission
to execute a bust of Cardinal Antonelli, was already much looked up to,
and well-to-do. In a few weeks she was returning to America.

As she found pleasure in talking to me, she exclaimed without more ado:
"I will stay with you," said a few polite things to me, and made me
promise that I would travel with her to Rome from the place where we
were obliged to leave the train, the railway having been broken up to
prevent the Italian troops entering the Papal States. At Treni a Danish
couple got into the train, a mediocre artist and his wife, and with
national astonishment and curiosity watched the evident intimacy between
the young foreigner and myself, concerning which every Scandinavian in
Rome was informed a few days later.

From Monte Rotondo, where the bridge had been blown up, we had to walk a
long distance, over bad roads, and were separated in the throng, but she
kept a place for me by her side. Thus I drove for the first time over
the Roman Campagna, by moonlight, with two brown eyes gazing into mine.
I felt as though I had met one of Sir Walter Scott's heroines, and won
her confidence at our first meeting.


Vinnie Ream was by no means a Scott heroine, however, but a genuine
American, and doubly remarkable to me as being the first specimen of a
young woman from the United States with whom I became acquainted. Even
after I had seen a good deal of her work, I could not feel wholly
attracted by her talent, which sometimes expressed itself rather in a
pictorial than a plastic form, and had a fondness for emotional effects.
But she was a true artist, and a true woman, and I have never, in any
woman, encountered a will like hers. She was uninterruptedly busy.
Although, now that the time of her departure was so near, a few boxes
were steadily being packed every day at her home, she received every day
visits from between sixteen and twenty-five people, and she had so many
letters by post that I often found three or four unopened ones amongst
the visiting cards that had been left. Those were what she had
forgotten, and if she had read them, she had no time to reply to them.
Every day she sat for a few hours to the clever American painter Healy,
who was an admirer of her talent, and called her abilities genius. Every
day she worked at Antonelli's bust. To obtain permission to execute it,
she had merely, dressed in her most beautiful white gown, asked for an
audience of the dreaded cardinal, and had at once obtained permission.
Her intrepid manner had impressed the hated statesman of the political
and ecclesiastical reaction, and in her representation of him he
appeared, too, in many respects nobler and more refined than he was. But
besides modelling the cardinal's bust, she put the finishing touches to
two others, saw to her parents' household affairs and expenses, and
found time every day to spend a few hours with me, either in a walk or
wandering about the different picture-galleries.

She maintained the family, for her parents had nothing at all. But when
the statue of Lincoln had been ordered from her, Congress had
immediately advanced ten thousand dollars. So she was able to live free
from care, though for that matter she troubled not at all about money.
She was very ignorant of things outside her own field, and the words
_my work_ were the only ones that she spoke with passion. What she
knew, she had acquired practically, through travel and association with
a multiplicity of people. She hardly knew a dozen words of any language
besides English, and was only acquainted with English and American
writers; of poets, she knew Shakespeare and Byron best; from life and
books she had extracted but few general opinions, but on the other hand,
very individual personal views. These were based upon the theory that
the lesser mind must always subordinate itself to the higher, and that
the higher has a right to utilise freely the time and strength of the
lesser, without being called to account for doing so. She herself was
abjectly modest towards the artists she looked up to. Other people might
all wait, come again, go away without a reply.

Rather small of stature, strong and healthy,--she had never been ill,
never taken medicine,--with white teeth and red cheeks, quick in
everything, when several people were present she spoke only little and
absently, was as cold, deliberate and composed as a man of strong
character; but at the same time she was unsuspecting and generous, and
in spite of her restlessness and her ambitious industry, ingratiatingly
coquettish towards anyone whose affection she wished to win. It was
amusing to watch the manner in which she despatched the dutifully
sighing Italians who scarcely crossed the threshold of her studio before
they declared themselves. She replied to them with a superabundance of
sound sense and dismissed them with a jest.

One day that I went to fetch her to the Casino Borghese, I found her
dissolved in tears. One of the two beautiful doves who flew about the
house and perched on her shoulders, and which she had brought with her
from Washington, had disappeared in the night. At first I thought that
her distress was half jest, but nothing could have been more real; she
was beside herself with grief. I realised that if philologians have
disputed as to how far Catullus' poem of the girl's grief over the dead
sparrow were jest or earnest, it was because they had never seen a girl
weep over a bird. Catullus, perhaps, makes fun a little of the grief,
but the grief itself, in his poem too, is serious enough.

In the lovely gardens of the Villa Borghese, Vinnie Ream's melancholy
frame of mind was dispersed, and we sat for a long time by one of the
handsome fountains and talked, among other things, of our pleasure in
being together, which pleasure was not obscured by the prospect of
approaching parting, because based only on good-fellowship, and with no
erotic element about it. Later in the evening, she had forgotten her
sorrow altogether in the feverish eagerness with which she worked, and
she kept on, by candle-light, until three o'clock in the morning.

A poor man, an Italian, who kept a little hotel, came in that evening
for a few minutes; he sometimes translated letters for Vinnie Ream. As
he had no business with me, I did not address any of my remarks to him;
she, on the contrary, treated him with extreme kindness and the greatest
respect, and whispered to me: "Talk nicely to him, as you would to a
gentleman, for that he is; he knows four languages splendidly; he is a
talented man. Take no notice of his plain dress. We Americans do not
regard the position, but the man, and he does honour to his position." I
had not been actuated by the prejudices she attributed to me,
nevertheless entered into conversation with the man, as she wished, and
listened with pleasure to his sensible opinions. (He spoke, among other
things, of Northern art, and warmly praised Carl Bloch's


Vinnie Ream's opinion of me was that I was the most impolitic man that
she had ever known. She meant, by that, that I was always falling out
with people (for instance, I had at once offended the Danes in Rome by
some sharp words about the wretched Danish papers), and in general made
fewer friends and more enemies all the time. She herself won the
affection of everyone she wished, and made everyone ready to spring to
do her bidding. She pointed out to me how politic she had had to be over
her art. When she had wished to become a sculptor, everyone in her
native place had been shocked at the un-femininity of it, and people
fabled behind her back about her depraved instincts. She, for her part,
exerted no more strength than just enough to carry her point, let people
talk as much as they liked, took no revenge on those who spread
calumnies about her, showed the greatest kindliness even towards the
evil-disposed, and so, she said, had not an enemy. There was in her a
marvellous commingling of determination to progress rapidly, of self-
restraint and of real good-heartedness.

On October 20th there was a great festival in Rome to celebrate the
first monthly anniversary of the entry of the Italians into the town.
Young men went in the evening with flags and music through the streets.
Everybody rushed to the windows, and the ladies held out lamps and
candles. In the time of the popes this was only done when the Host was
being carried in solemn procession to the dying; it was regarded
therefore as the greatest honour that could be paid. Everyone clapped
hands and uttered shouts of delight at the improvised illumination,
while the many beautiful women looked lovely in the flickering
lamplight. The 23d again was a gala day, being the anniversary of the
death of Enrico Cairoli--one of the celebrated brothers; he fell at
Mentana;--and I had promised Vinnie Ream to go to see the fete with her;
but she as usual having twenty callers just when we ought to have
started, we arrived too late. Vinnie begged of me to go with her instead
to the American chapel; she must and would sing hymns, and really did
sing them very well.

The chapel was bare. On the walls the ten commandments and a few other
quotations from Holy Writ, and above a small altar, "Do this in
remembrance of me," in Gothic lettering. I had to endure the hymns, the
sermon (awful), and the reading aloud of the ten commandments, with
muttered protestations and Amens after each one from the reverent
Americans. When we went out I said nothing, as I did not know whether
Vinnie might not be somewhat moved, for she sang at the end with great
emotion. However, she merely took my arm and exclaimed: "That minister
was the most stupid donkey I have ever heard in my life; but it is nice
to sing." Then she began a refutation of the sermon, which had hinged
chiefly on the words: "_Thy sins are forgiven thee_," and of the
unspeakable delight it should be to hear this. Vinnie thought that no
rational being would give a fig for forgiveness, unless there followed
with it a complete reinstatement of previous condition. What am I
benefitted if ever so many heavenly beings say to me: "I _pretend_
you have not done it" if I know that I have!

The last week in October we saw marvellous Northern Lights in Rome. The
northern half of the heavens, about nine o'clock in the evening, turned
a flaming crimson, and white streaks traversed the red, against which
the stars shone yellow, while every moment bluish flashes shot across
the whole. When I discovered it I went up to the Reams' and fetched
Vinnie down into the street to see it. It was an incredibly beautiful
atmospheric phenomenon. Next evening it manifested itself again, on a
background of black clouds, and that was the last beautiful sight upon
which Vinnie and I looked together.

Next evening I wrote:

Vinnie Ream leaves to-morrow morning; I said good-bye to her this
evening. Unfortunately a great many people were there. She took my hand
and said: "I wish you everything good in the world, and I know that you
wish me the same." And then: Good-bye. A door opens, and a door closes,
and people never meet again on this earth, never again, never--and
human language has never been able to discover any distinction between
good-bye for an hour, and good-bye forever. People sit and chat, smile
and jest. Then you get up, and the story is finished. Over! over! And
that is the end of all stories, says Andersen.

All one's life one quarrels with people as dear to one as Ploug is to
me. I have a well-founded hope that I may see Rudolph Schmidt's profile
again soon, and a hundred times again after that; but Vinnie I shall
never see again.

I did not understand her at first; I had a few unpleasant conjectures
ready. I had to have many conversations with her before I understood her
ingenuousness, her ignorance, her thorough goodness, in short, all her
simple healthiness of soul. Over!

When I was teasing her the other day about all the time I had wasted in
her company, she replied: "_People do not waste time with their
friends_," and when I exclaimed: "What do I get from you?" she
answered, laughing:

"_Inspiration_." And that was the truth. Those great brown eyes,
the firm eyebrows, the ringleted mass of chestnut brown hair and the
fresh mouth--all this that I still remember, but perhaps in three months
shall no longer be able to recall, the quick little figure, now
commanding, now deprecating, is to me a kind of inspiration. I have
never been in love with Vinnie; but most people would think so, to hear
the expressions I am now using. But I love her as a friend, as a mind
akin to my own. There were thoughts of our brains and strings of our
hearts, which always beat in unison. Peace be with her! May the cursed
world neither rend her nor devour her; may she die at last with the
clear forehead she has now! I am grateful to her. She has communicated
to me a something good and simple that one cannot see too much of and
that one scarcely ever sees at all. Finally, she has shown me again the
spectacle of a human being entirely happy, and good because happy, a
soul without a trace of bitterness, an intellect whose work is not a

It is not that Vinnie is--or rather was, since she is dead for me--an
educated girl in the Copenhagen sense of the word. The verdict of the
Danish educational establishments upon her would be that she was a
deplorably uneducated girl. She was incomprehensibly dull at languages.
She would be childishly amused at a jest or joke or compliment as old as
the hills (such as the Italians were fond of using), and think it new,
for she knew nothing of the European storehouse of stereotyped remarks
and salted drivel. Her own conversation was new; a breath of the
independence of the great Republic swept through it. She was no fine
lady, she was _an American girl_, who had not attained her rank by
birth, or through inherited riches, but had fought for it herself with a
talent that had made its way to the surface without early training,
through days and nights of industry, and a mixture of enthusiasm and

She was vain; she certainly was that. But again like a child, delighted
at verses in her honour in the American papers, pleased at homage and
marks of distinction, but far more ambitious than vain of personal
advantages. She laughed when we read in the papers of Vinnie Ream, that,
in spite of the ill-fame creative lady artists enjoy, far from being a
monster with green eyes, she ventured to be beautiful.

She was a good girl. There was a certain deep note about all that her
heart uttered. She had a mind of many colours. And there was the very
devil of a rush and Forward! March! about her, _always in a hurry_.

And now--no Roman elegy--I will hide her away in my memory:

Here lies
of Washington, U.S.A.
Six-and-twenty years of age
This recollection of her is retained by
One who knew her
for seventeen days
and will never forget her.

I have really never seen Vinnie Ream since. We exchanged a few letters
after her departure, and the rest was silence.

Her statue of Abraham Lincoln stands now in a rotunda on the Capitol,
for which it was ordered. Later, a Congress Committee ordered from her a
statue of Admiral Farragut, which is likewise erected in Washington.
These are the only two statues that the government of the United States
has ever ordered from a woman. Other statues of hers which I have seen
mentioned bear the names of _Miriam, The West, Sappho, The Spirit of
Carnival_, etc. Further than this, I only know that she married
Richard L. Hoxie, an engineer, and only a few years ago was living in


It was a real trouble to me that the Pope, in his exasperation over the
conquest of Rome--in order to make the accomplished revolution recoil
also on the heads of the foreigners whom he perhaps suspected of
sympathy with the new order of things--had closed the Vatican and all
its collections. Rome was to me first and foremost Michael Angelo's
Sistine Chapel, Raphael's Stanzas and Loggias, and now all this
magnificent array, which I had travelled so far to see, was closed to me
by an old man's bad temper.

But there was still enough to linger over in Rome. The two palaces that
seemed to me most deserving of admiration were the Farnese and the
Cancellaria, the former Michael Angelo's, the latter Bramante's work,
the first a perpetuation in stone of beauty and power, the second, of
grace and lightness. I felt that if one were to take a person with no
idea of architecture and set him in front of these buildings, there
would fall like scales from his eyes, and he would say: "Now I know what
the building art means."

Luini's exquisite painting, _Vanity and Modesty_, in the Galleria
Sciarra, impressed me profoundly. It represented two women, one nun-
like, the other magnificently dressed. The latter is Leonardo's well-
known type, as a magically fascinating personality. Its essential
feature is a profoundly serious melancholy, but the beauty of the figure
is seductive. She is by no means smiling, and yet she looks as though a
very slight alteration would produce a smile, and as though the heavens
themselves would open, if smile she did. The powerful glance of the dark
blue eyes is in harmony with the light-brown hair and the lovely hands.
"It would be terrible to meet in real life a woman who looked like
that," I wrote; "for a man would grow desperate at his inability to win
her and desperate because the years must destroy such a marvel. That is
why the gracious gods have willed it otherwise; that is why she does not
exist. That is why she is only a vision, a revelation, a painting, and
that is why she was conceived in the brain of Leonardo, the place on
earth most favoured by the gods, and executed by Luini, that all
generations might gaze at her without jealousy, and without dread of the
molestations of Time."

One day, at the Museo Kircheriano, where I was looking at the admirable
antiquities, I made acquaintance with a Jesuit priest, who turned out to
be exceedingly pleasant and refined, a very decent fellow, in fact. He
spoke Latin to me, and showed me round; at an enquiry of mine, he
fetched from his quarters in the Collegio Romano a book with
reproductions from the pagan section of the Lateran Museum, and
explained to me some bas-reliefs which I had not understood. His
obligingness touched me, his whole attitude made me think. Hitherto I
had only spoken to one solitary embryo Jesuit,--a young Englishman who

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