Part 3 out of 4
by few. She received me very courteously, but yet distantly, almost
coldly. She was, as she said, on a journey with her father to South
Sweden, and was come over to Copenhagen for a few days in order that
she might see this city. We again parted distantly, and I had the
impression of a very ordinary character which soon passed away from my
In the autumn of 1843, Jenny Lind came again to Copenhagen. One of my
friends, our clever ballet-master, Bournonville, who has married a
Swedish lady, a friend of Jenny Lind, informed me of her arrival here
and told me that she remembered me very kindly, and that now she had
read my writings. He entreated me to go with him to her, and to employ
all my persuasive art to induce her to take a few parts at the Theatre
Royal; I should, he said, be then quite enchanted with what I should
I was not now received as a stranger; she cordially extended to me her
hand, and spoke of my writings and of Miss Fredrika Bremer, who also
was her affectionate friend. The conversation was soon turned to her
appearance in Copenhagen, and of this Jenny Lind declared that she
stood in fear.
"I have never made my appearance," said she, "out of Sweden; everybody
in my native land is so affectionate and kind to me, and if I made my
appearance in Copenhagen and should be hissed!--I dare not venture on
I said, that I, it was true, could not pass judgment on her singing,
because I had never heard it, neither did I know how she acted, but
nevertheless, I was convinced that such was the disposition at this
moment in Copenhagen, that only a moderate voice and some knowledge of
acting would be successful; I believed that she might safely venture.
Bournonville's persuasion obtained for the Copenhageners the greatest
enjoyment which they ever had.
Jenny Lind made her first appearance among them as Alice in Robert le
Diable--it was like a new revelation in the realms of art, the
youthfully fresh voice forced itself into every heart; here reigned
truth and nature; everything was full of meaning and intelligence. At
one concert Jenny Lind sang her Swedish songs; there was something so
peculiar in this, so bewitching; people thought nothing about the
concert room; the popular melodies uttered by a being so purely
feminine, and bearing the universal stamp of genius, exercised their
omnipotent sway--the whole of Copenhagen was in raptures. Jenny Lind
was the first singer to whom the Danish students gave a serenade:
torches blazed around the hospitable villa where the serenade was
given: she expressed her thanks by again singing some Swedish songs,
and I then saw her hasten into the darkest corner and weep for emotion.
"Yes, yes," said she, "I will exert myself; I will endeavor, I will be
better qualified than I am when I again come to Copenhagen."
On the stage, she was the great artiste, who rose above all those
around her; at home, in her own chamber, a sensitive young girl with
all the humility and piety of a child.
Her appearance in Copenhagen made an epoch in the history of our opera;
it showed me art in its sanctity--I had beheld one of its vestals. She
journeyed back to Stockholm, and from there Fredrika Bremer wrote to
me:--"With regard to Jenny Lind as a singer, we are both of us
perfectly agreed; she stands as high as any artist of our time can
stand; but as yet you do not know her in her full greatness. Speak to
her about her art, and you will wonder at the expansion of her mind,
and will see her countenance beaming with inspiration. Converse then
with her of God, and of the holiness of religion, and you will see
tears in those innocent eyes; she is great as an artist, but she is
still greater in her pure human existence!"
In the following year I was in Berlin; the conversation with Meyerbeer
turned upon Jenny Lind; he had heard her sing the Swedish songs, and
was transported by them.
"But how does she act?" asked he.
I spoke in raptures of her acting, and gave him at the same time some
idea of her representation of Alice. He said to me that perhaps it
might be possible for him to determine her to come to Berlin.
It is sufficiently well known that she made her appearance there, threw
every one into astonishment and delight, and won for herself in Germany
a European name. Last autumn she came again to Copenhagen, and the
enthusiasm was incredible; the glory of renown makes genius perceptible
to every one. People bivouacked regularly before the theatre, to obtain
a ticket. Jenny Lind appeared still greater than ever in her art,
because they had an opportunity of seeing her in many and such
extremely different parts. Her Norma is plastic; every attitude might
serve as the most beautiful model to a sculptor, and yet people felt
that these were the inspiration of the moment, and had not been studied
before the glass; Norma is no raving Italian; she is the suffering,
sorrowing woman--the woman possessed of a heart to sacrifice herself
for an unfortunate rival--the woman to whom, in the violence of the
moment, the thought may suggest itself of murdering the children of a
faithless lover, but who is immediately disarmed when she gazes into
the eyes of the innocent ones.
"Norma, thou holy priestess," sings the chorus, and Jenny Lind has
comprehended and shows to us this holy priestess in the aria, _Casta
diva_. In Copenhagen she sang all her parts in Swedish, and the
other singers sang theirs in Danish, and the two kindred languages
mingled very beautifully together; there was no jarring; even in the
Daughter of the Regiment where there is a deal of dialogue, the Swedish
had something agreeable--and what acting! nay, the word itself is a
contradiction--it was nature; anything as true never before appeared on
the stage. She shows us perfectly the true child of nature grown up in
the camp, but an inborn nobility pervades every movement. The Daughter
of the Regiment and the Somnambule are certainly Jenny Land's most
unsurpassable parts; no second can take their places in these beside
her. People laugh,--they cry; it does them as much good as going to
church; they become better for it. People feel that God is in art; and
where God stands before us face to face there is a holy church.
"There will not in a whole century," said Mendelssohn, speaking to me
of Jenny Lind, "be born another being so gifted as she;" and his words
expressed my full conviction; one feels as she makes her appearance on
the stage, that she is a pure vessel, from which a holy draught will be
presented to us.
There is not anything which can lessen the impression which Jenny
Lind's greatness on the stage makes, except her own personal character
at home. An intelligent and child-like disposition exercises here its
astonishing power; she is happy; belonging, as it were, no longer to
the world, a peaceful, quiet home, is the object of her thoughts--and
yet she loves art with her whole soul, and feels her vocation in it. A
noble, pious disposition like hers cannot be spoiled by homage. On one
occasion only did I hear her express her joy in her talent and her
self-consciousness. It was during her last residence in Copenhagen.
Almost every evening she appeared either in the opera or at concerts;
every hour was in requisition. She heard of a society, the object of
which was, to assist unfortunate children, and to take them out of the
hands of their parents by whom they were misused, and compelled either
to beg or steal, and to place them in other and better circumstances.
Benevolent people subscribed annually a small sum each for their
support, nevertheless the means for this excellent purpose were small.
"But have I not still a disengaged evening?" said she; "let me give a
night's performance for the benefit of these poor children; but we will
have double prices!"
Such a performance was given, and returned large proceeds; when she was
informed of this, and, that by this means, a number of poor children
would be benefited for several years, her countenance beamed, and the
tears filled her eyes.
"It is however beautiful," said she, "that I can sing so!"
I value her with the whole feeling of a brother, and I regard myself as
happy that I know and understand such a spirit. God give to her that
peace, that quiet happiness which she wishes for herself!
Through Jenny Lind I first became sensible of the holiness there is in
art; through her I learned that one must forget oneself in the service
of the Supreme. No books, no men have had a better or a more ennobling
influence on me as the poet, than Jenny Lind, and I therefore have
spoken of her so long and so warmly here.
I have made the happy discovery by experience, that inasmuch as art and
life are more clearly understood by me, so much more sunshine from
without has streamed into my soul. What blessings have not compensated
me for the former dark days! Repose and certainty have forced
themselves into my heart. Such repose can easily unite itself with the
changing life of travel; I feel myself everywhere at home, attach
myself easily to people, and they give me in return confidence and
In the summer of 1844 I once more visited North Germany. An
intellectual and amiable family in Oldenburg had invited me in the most
friendly manner to spend some time at their house. Count von Rantzau-
Breitenburg repeated also in his letters how welcome I should be to
him. I set out on the journey, and this journey was, if not one of my
longest, still one of my most interesting.
I saw the rich marsh-land in its summer luxuriance, and made with
Rantzau several interesting little excursions. Breitenburg lies in the
middle of woods on the river St¸r; the steam-voyage to Hamburg gives
animation to the little river; the situation is picturesque, and life
in the castle itself is comfortable and pleasant. I could devote myself
perfectly to reading and poetry, because I was just as free as the bird
in the air, and I was as much cared for as if I had been a beloved
relation of the family. Alas it was the last time that I came hither;
Count Rantzau had, even then, a presentiment of his approaching death.
One day we met in the garden; he seized my hand, pressed it warmly,
expressed his pleasure in my talents being acknowledged abroad, and his
friendship for me, adding, in conclusion, "Yes, my dear young friend,
God only knows but I have the firm belief that this year is the last
time when we two shall meet here; my days will soon have run out their
full course." He looked at me with so grave an expression, that it
touched my heart deeply, but I knew not what to say. We were near to
the chapel; he opened a little gate between some thick hedges, and we
stood in a little garden, in which was a turfed grave and a seat beside
"Here you will find me, when you come the next time to Breitenburg,"
said he, and his sorrowful words were true. He died the following
winter in Wiesbaden. I lost in him a friend, a protector, a noble
When I, on the first occasion, went to Germany, I visited the Hartz and
the Saxon Switzerland. Goethe was still living. It was my most
heartfelt wish to see him. It was not far from the Hartz to Weimar, but
I had no letters of introduction to him, and, at that time, not one
line of my writings was translated. Many persons had described Goethe
to me as a very proud man, and the question arose whether indeed he
would receive me. I doubted it, and determined not to go to Weimar
until I should have written some work which would convey my name to
Germany. I succeeded in this, but alas, Goethe was already dead.
I had made the acquaintance of his daughter-in-law Mrs. von Goethe,
born at Pogwitsch, at the house of Mendelssohn Bartholdy, in Leipsig,
on my return from Constantinople; this _spirituelle_ lady received
me with much kindness. She told me that her son Walter had been my
friend for a long time; that as a boy he had made a whole play out of
my Improvisatore; that this piece had been performed in Goethe's house;
and lastly, that Walter, had once wished to go to Copenhagen to make my
acquaintance. I thus had now friends in Weimar.
An extraordinary desire impelled me to see this city where Goethe,
Schiller, Wieland, and Herder had lived, and from which so much light
had streamed forth over the world. I approached that land which had
been rendered sacred by Luther, by the strife of the Minnesingers on
the Wartburg, and by the memory of many noble and great events.
On the 24th of June, the birthday of the Grand Duke, I arrived a
stranger in the friendly town. Everything indicated the festivity which
was then going forward, and the young prince was received with great
rejoicing in the theatre, where a new opera was being given. I did not
think how firmly, the most glorious and the best of all those whom I
here saw around me, would grow into my heart; how many of my future
friends sat around me here--how dear this city would become to me--in
Germany my second home. I was invited by Goethe's worthy friend, the
excellent Chancellor M ller, and I met with the most cordial reception
from him. By accident I here met on my first call, with the Kammerherr
Beaulieu de Marconnay, whom I had known in Oldenburg; he was now placed
in Weimar. He invited me to remove to his house. In the course of a few
minutes I was his stationary guest, and I felt "it is good to be here."
There are people whom it only requires a few days to know and to love;
I won in Beaulieu, in these few days, a friend, as I believe, for my
whole life. He introduced me into the family circle, the amiable
chancellor received me equally cordially; and I who had, on my arrival,
fancied myself quite forlorn, because Mrs. von Goethe and her son
Walter were in Vienna, was now known in Weimar, and well received in
all its circles.
The reigning Grand Duke and Duchess gave me so gracious and kind a
reception as made a deep impression upon me. After I had been
presented, I was invited to dine, and soon after received an invitation
to visit the hereditary Grand Duke and his lady, at the hunting seat of
Ettersburg, which stands high, and close to an extensive forest. The
old fashioned furniture within the house, and the distant views from
the park into the Hartz mountains, produced immediately a peculiar
impression. All the young peasants had assembled at the castle to
celebrate the birthday of their beloved young Duke; climbing-poles,
from which fluttered handkerchiefs and ribbons, were erected; fiddles
sounded, and people danced merrily under the branches of the large and
flowering limetrees. Sabbath splendor, contentment and happiness were
diffused over the whole.
The young and but new married princely pair seemed to be united by true
heartfelt sentiment. The heart must be able to forget the star on the
breast under which it beats, if its possessor wish to remain long free
and happy in a court; and such a heart, certainly one of the noblest
and best which beats, is possessed by Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar. I
had the happiness of a sufficient length of time to establish this
belief. During this, my first residence here, I came several times to
the happy Ettersburg. The young Duke showed me the garden and the tree
on the trunk of which Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland had cut their
names; nay even Jupiter himself had wished to add his to theirs, for
his thunder-bolt had splintered it in one of the branches.
The intellectual Mrs. von Gross (Amalia Winter), Chancellor von M ller,
who was able livingly to unroll the times of Goethe and to explain his
Faust, and the soundly honest and child-like minded Eckermann belonged
to the circle at Ettersburg. The evenings passed like a spiritual
dream; alternately some one read aloud; even I ventured, for the first
time in a foreign language to me, to read one of my own tales--the
Constant Tin Soldier.
Chancellor von M ller accompanied me to the princely burial-place,
where Karl August sleeps with his glorious wife, not between Schiller
and Goethe, as I believed when I wrote--"the prince has made for
himself a rainbow glory, whilst he stands between the sun and the
rushing waterfall." Close beside the princely pair, who understood and
valued that which was great, repose these their immortal friends.
Withered laurel garlands lay upon the simple brown coffins, of which
the whole magnificence consists in the immortal names of Goethe and
Schiller. In life the prince and the poet walked side by side, in death
they slumber under the same vault. Such a place as this is never
effaced from the mind; in such a spot those quiet prayers are offered,
which God alone hears.
I remained above eight days in Weimar; it seemed to me as if I had
formerly lived in this city; as if it were a beloved home which I must
now leave. As I drove out of the city, over the bridge and past the
mill, and for the last time looked back to the city and the castle, a
deep melancholy took hold on my soul, and it was to me as if a
beautiful portion of my life here had its close; I thought that the
journey, after I had left Weimar, could afford me no more pleasure. How
often since that time has the carrier pigeon, and still more
frequently, the mind, flown over to this place! Sunshine has streamed
forth from Weimar upon my poet-life.
From Weimar I went to Leipzig where a truly poetical evening awaited me
with Robert Schumann. This great composer had a year before surprised
me by the honor of dedicating to me the music which he had composed to
four of my songs; the lady of Dr. Frege whose singing, so full of soul,
has pleased and enchanted so many thousands, accompanied Clara
Schumann, and the composer and the poet were alone the audience: a
little festive supper and a mutual interchange of ideas shortened the
evening only too much. I met with the old, cordial reception at the
house of Mr. Brockhaus, to which from former visits I had almost
accustomed myself. The circle of my friends increased in the German
cities; but the first heart is still that to which we most gladly turn
I found in Dresden old friends with youthful feelings; my gifted half-
countryman Dahl, the Norwegian, who knows how upon canvas to make the
waterfall rush foaming down, and the birch-tree to grow as in the
valleys of Norway, and Vogel von Vogelstein, who did me the honor of
painting my portrait, which was included in the royal collection of
portraits. The theatre intendant, Herr von L ttichau, provided me every
evening with a seat in the manager's box; and one of the noblest
ladies, in the first circles of Dresden, the worthy Baroness von
Decken, received me as a mother would receive her son. In this
character I was ever afterwards received in her family and in the
amiable circle of her friends.
How bright and beautiful is the world! How good are human beings! That
it is a pleasure to live becomes ever more and more clear to me.
Beaulieu's younger brother Edmund, who is an officer in the army, came
one day from Tharand, where he had spent the summer months. I
accompanied him to various places, spent some happy days among the
pleasant scenery of the hills, and was received at the same time into
I visited with the Baroness Decken, for the first time, the celebrated
and clever painter Retsch, who has published the bold outlines of
Goethe, Shakspeare, &c. He lives a sort of Arcadian life among lowly
vineyards on the way to Meissen. Every year he makes a present to his
wife, on her birthday, of a new drawing, and always one of his best;
the collection has grown through a course of years to a valuable album,
which she, if he die before her, is to publish. Among the many glorious
ideas there, one struck me as peculiar; the Flight into Egypt. It is
night; every one sleeps in the picture,--Mary, Joseph, the flowers and
the shrubs, nay even the ass which carries her--all, except the child
Jesus, who, with open round countenance, watches over and illumines
all. I related one of my stories to him, and for this I received a
lovely drawing,--a beautiful young girl hiding herself behind the mask
of an old woman; thus should the eternally youthful soul, with its
blooming loveliness, peep forth from behind the old mask of the fairy-
tale. Retsch's pictures are rich in thought, full of beauty, and a
I enjoyed the country-life of Germany with Major Serre and his amiable
wife at their splendid residence of Maren; it is not possible for any
one to exercise greater hospitality than is done by these two kind-
hearted people. A circle of intelligent, interesting individuals, were
here assembled; I remained among them above eight days, and there
became acquainted with Kohl the traveller, and the clever authoress,
the Countess Hahn-Hahn, in whom I discerned a woman by disposition and
individual character in whom confidence may be placed. Where one is
well received there one gladly lingers. I found myself unspeakably
happy on this little journey in Germany, and became convinced that I
was there no stranger. It was heart and truth to nature which people
valued in my writings; and, however excellent and praiseworthy the
exterior beauty may be, however imposing the maxims of this world's
wisdom, still it is heart and nature which have least changed by time,
and which everybody is best able to understand.
I returned home by way of Berlin, where I had not been for several
years; but the dearest of my friends there--Chamisso, was dead.
The fair wild swan which flew far o'er the earth,
And laid its head upon a wild-swan's breast,
was now flown to a more glorious hemisphere; I saw his children, who
were now fatherless and motherless. From the young who here surround
me, I discover that I am grown older; I feel it not in myself.
Chamisso's sons, whom I saw the last time playing here in the little
garden with bare necks, came now to meet me with helmet and sword: they
were officers in the Prussian service. I felt in a moment how the years
had rolled on, how everything was changed and how one loses so many.
Yet is it not so hard as people deem,
To see their soul's beloved from them riven;
God has their dear ones, and in death they seem
To form a bridge which leads them up to heaven.
I met with the most cordial reception, and have since then always met
with the same, in the house of the Minister Savigny, where I became
acquainted with the clever, singularly gifted Bettina and her lovely
spiritual-minded daughter. One hour's conversation with Bettina during
which she was the chief speaker, was so rich and full of interest, that
I was almost rendered dumb by all this eloquence, this firework of wit.
The world knows her writings, but another talent which she is possessed
of, is less generally known, namely her talent for drawing. Here again
it is the ideas which astonish us. It was thus, I observed, she had
treated in a sketch an accident which had occurred just before, a young
man being killed by the fumes of wine. You saw him descending half-
naked into the cellar, round which lay the wine casks like monsters:
Bacchanals and Bacchantes danced towards him, seized their victim and
destroyed him! I know that Thorwaldsen, to whom she once showed all her
drawings, was in the highest degree astonished by the ideas they
It does the heart such good when abroad to find a house, where, when
immediately you enter, eyes flash like festal lamps, a house where you
can take peeps into a quiet, happy domestic life--such a house is that
of Professor Weiss. Yet how many new acquaintance which were found, and
old acquaintance which were renewed, ought I not to mention! I met
Cornelius from Rome, Schelling from Munich, my countryman I might
almost call him; Steffens, the Norwegian, and once again Tieck, whom I
had not seen since my first visit to Germany. He was very much altered,
yet his gentle, wise eyes were the same, the shake of his hand was the
same. I felt that he loved me and wished me well. I must visit him in
Potsdam, where he lived in ease and comfort. At dinner I became
acquainted with his brother the sculptor.
From Tieck I learnt how kindly the King and Queen of Prussia were
disposed towards me; that they had read my romance of Only a Fiddler,
and inquired from Tieck about me. Meantime their Majesties were absent
from Berlin. I had arrived the evening before their departure, when
that abominable attempt was made upon their lives.
I returned to Copenhagen by Stettin in stormy weather, full of the joy
of life, and again saw my dear friends, and in a few days set off to
Count Moltke's in Funen, there to spend a few lovely summer days. I
here received a letter from the Minister Count Rantzau-Breitenburg, who
was with the King and Queen of Denmark at the watering-place of F¸hr.
He wrote, saying that he had the pleasure of announcing to me the most
gracious invitation of their Majesties to F¸hr. This island, as is well
known, lies in the North Sea, not far from the coast of Sleswick, in
the neighborhood of the interesting Halligs, those little islands which
Biernatzky described so charmingly in his novels. Thus, in a manner
wholly unexpected by me, I should see scenery of a very peculiar
character even in Denmark.
The favor of my king and Queen made me happy, and I rejoiced to be once
more in close intimacy with Rantzau. Alas, it was for the last time!
It was just now five and twenty years since I, a poor lad, travelled
alone and helpless to Copenhagen. Exactly the five and twentieth
anniversary would be celebrated by my being with my king and queen, to
whom I was faithfully attached, and whom I at that very time learned to
love with my whole soul. Everything that surrounded me, man and nature,
reflected themselves imperishably in my soul. I felt myself, as it
were, conducted to a point from which I could look forth more
distinctly over the past five and twenty years, with all the good
fortune and happiness which they had evolved for me. The reality
frequently surpasses the most beautiful dream.
I travelled from Funen to Flensborg, which, lying in its great bay, is
picturesque with woods and hills, and then immediately opens out into a
solitary heath. Over this I travelled in the bright moonlight. The
journey across the heath was tedious; the clouds only passed rapidly.
We went on monotonously through the deep sand, and monotonous was the
wail of a bird among the shrubby heath. Presently we reached moorlands.
Long-continued rain had changed meadows and cornfields into great
lakes; the embankments along which we drove were like morasses; the
horses sank deeply into them. In many places the light carriage was
obliged to be supported by the peasants, that it might not fall upon
the cottages below the embankment. Several hours were consumed over
each mile (Danish). At length the North Sea with its islands lay before
me. The whole coast was an embankment, covered for miles with woven
straw, against which the waves broke. I arrived at high tide. The wind
was favorable, and in less than an hour I reached F¸hr, which, after my
difficult journey, appeared to me like a real fairy land.
The largest city, Wyck, in which are the baths, is exactly built like a
Dutch town. The houses are only one story high, with sloping roofs and
gables turned to the street. The many strangers there, and the presence
of the court, gave a peculiar animation to the principal street. Well-
known faces looked out from almost every house; the Danish flag waved,
and music was heard. I was soon established in my quarters, and every
day, until the departure of their Majesties, had I the honor of an
invitation from them to dinner, as well as to pass the evening in their
circle. On several evenings I read aloud my little stories (M rchen) to
the king and queen, and both of them were gracious and affectionate
towards me. It is so good when a noble human nature will reveal itself
where otherwise only the king's crown and the purple mantle might be
discovered. Few people can be more amiable in private life than their
present Majesties of Denmark. May God bless them and give them joy,
even as they filled my breast with happiness and sunshine!
I sailed in their train to the largest of the Halligs, those grassy
runes in the ocean, which bear testimony to a sunken country. The
violence of the sea has changed the mainland into islands, has riven
these again, and buried men and villages. Year after year are new
portions rent away, and, in half a century's time, there will be
nothing here but sea. The Halligs are now only low islets covered with
a dark turf, on which a few flocks graze. When the sea rises these are
driven into the garrets of the houses, and the waves roll over this
little region, which is miles distant from the shore. Oland, which we
visited, contains a little town. The houses stand closely side by side,
as if, in their sore need they would all huddle together. They are all
erected upon a platform, and have little windows, as in the cabin of a
ship. There, in the little room, solitary through half the year, sit
the wife and her daughters spinning. There, however, one always finds a
little collection of books. I found books in Danish, German, and
Frieslandish. The people read and work, and the sea rises round the
houses, which lie like a wreck in the ocean. Sometimes, in the night, a
ship, having mistaken the lights, drives on here and is stranded.
In the year 1825, a tempestuous tide washed away men and houses. The
people sat for days and nights half naked upon the roofs, till these
gave way; nor from F¸hr nor the mainland could help be sent to them.
The church-yard is half washed away; coffins and corpses were
frequently exposed to view by the breakers: it is an appalling sight.
And yet the inhabitants of the Halligs are attached to their little
home. They cannot remain on the mainland, but are driven thence by home
We found only one man upon the island, and he had only lately arisen
from a sick bed. The others were out on long voyages. We were received
by girls and women. They had erected before the church a triumphal arch
with flowers which they had fetched from F¸hr; but it was so small and
low, that one was obliged to go round it; nevertheless they showed by
it their good will. The queen was deeply affected by their having cut
down their only shrub, a rose bush, to lay over a marshy place which
she would have to cross. The girls are pretty, and are dressed in a
half Oriental fashion. The people trace their descent from Greeks. They
wear their faces half concealed, and beneath the strips of linen which
lie upon the head is placed a Greek fez, around which the hair is wound
On our return, dinner was served on board the royal steamer; and
afterwards, as we sailed in a glorious sunset through this archipelago,
the deck of the vessel was changed to a dancing room. Young and old
danced; servants flew hither and thither with refreshments; sailors
stood upon the paddle-boxes and took the soundings, and their deep-
toned voices might be heard giving the depth of the water. The moon
rose round and large, and the promontory of Amrom assumed the
appearance of a snow-covered chain of Alps.
I visited afterwards these desolate sand hills: the king went to shoot
rabbits there. Many years ago a ship was wrecked here, on board of
which were two rabbits, and from this pair Amrom is now stored with
thousands of their descendants. At low tide the sea recedes wholly from
between Amrom and F¸hr, and then people drive across from one island to
another; but still the time must be well observed and the passage
accurately known, or else, when the tide comes, he who crosses will be
inevitably lost. It requires only a few minutes, and then where dry
land was large ships may sail. We saw a whole row of wagons driving
from F¸hr to Amrom. Seen upon the white sand and against the blue
horizon, they seem to be twice as large as they really were. All around
were spread out, like a net, the sheets of water, as if they held
firmly the extent of sand which belonged to the ocean and which would
be soon overflowed by it. This promontory brings to one's memory the
mounds of ashes at Vesuvius; for here one sinks at every step, the wiry
moor-grass not being able to bind together the loose sand. The sun
shone burningly hot between the white sand hills: it was like a journey
through the deserts of Africa.
A peculiar kind of rose, and the heath were in flower in the valleys
between the hills; in other places there was no vegetation whatever;
nothing but the wet sand on which the waves had left their impress; the
sea had inscribed on its receding strange hieroglyphics. I gazed from
one of the highest points over the North Sea; it was ebb-tide; the sea
had retired above a mile; the vessels lay like dead fishes upon the
sand, and awaiting the returning tide. A few sailors had clambered down
and moved about on the sandy ground like black points. Where the sea
itself kept the white level sand in movement, a long bank elevated
itself, which, during the time of high-water, is concealed, and upon
which occur many wrecks. I saw the lofty wooden tower which is here
erected, and in which a cask is always kept filled with water, and a
basket supplied with bread and brandy, that the unfortunate human
beings, who are here stranded, may be able in this place, amid the
swelling sea, to preserve life for a few days until it is possible to
To return from such a scene as this to a royal table, a charming court-
concert, and a little ball in the bath-saloon, as well as to the
promenade by moonlight, thronged with guests, a little Boulevard, had
something in it like a fairy tale,--it was a singular contrast.
As I sat on the above-mentioned five-and-twentieth anniversary, on the
5th of September, at the royal dinner-table, the whole of my former
life passed in review before my mind. I was obliged to summon all my
strength to prevent myself bursting into tears. There are moments of
thankfulness in which, as it were, we feel a desire to press God to our
hearts. How deeply I felt, at this time, my own nothingness; how all,
all, had come from him. Rantzau knew what an interesting day this was
to me. After dinner the king and the queen wished me happiness, and
that so--_graciously_, is a poor word,--so cordially, so sympathizingly!
The king wished me happiness in that which I had endured and won. He
asked me about my first entrance into the world, and I related to him
some characteristic traits.
In the course of conversation he inquired if I had not some certain
yearly income; I named the sum to him.
"That is not much," said the king.
"But I do not require much," replied I, "and my writings procure me
The king, in the kindest manner, inquired farther into my
circumstances, and closed by saying,
"If I can, in any way, be serviceable to your literary labors, then
come to me."
In the evening, during the concert, the conversation was renewed, and
some of those who stood near me reproached me for not having made use
of my opportunity.
"The king," said they, "put the very words into your mouth."
But I could not, I would not have done it. "If the king," I said,
"found that I required something more, he could give it to me of his
And I was not mistaken. In the following year King Christian VIII.
increased my annual stipend, so that with this and that which my
writings bring in, I can live honorably and free from care. My king
gave it to me out of the pure good-will of his own heart. King
Christian is enlightened, clear-sighted, with a mind enlarged by
science; the gracious sympathy, therefore, which he has felt in my fate
is to me doubly cheering and ennobling.
The 5th of September was to me a festival-day; even the German visitors
at the baths honored me by drinking my health in the pump-room.
So many flattering circumstances, some people argue, may easily spoil a
man, and make him vain. But, no; they do not spoil him, they make him
on the contrary--better; they purify his mind, and he must thereby feel
an impulse, a wish, to deserve all that he enjoys. At my parting-
audience with the queen, she gave me a valuable ring as a remembrance
of our residence at F¸hr; and the king again expressed himself full of
kindness and noble sympathy. God bless and preserve this exalted pair!
The Duchess of Augustenburg was at this time also at F¸hr with her two
eldest daughters. I had daily the happiness of being with them, and
received repeated invitations to take Augustenburg on my return. For
this purpose I went from F¸hr to Als, one of the most beautiful islands
in the Baltic. That little region resembles a blooming garden;
luxuriant corn and clover-fields are enclosed, with hedges of hazels
and wild roses; the peasants' houses are surrounded by large apple-
orchards, full of fruit. Wood and hill alternate. Now we see the ocean,
and now the narrow Lesser Belt, which resembles a river. The Castle of
Augustenburg is magnificent, with its garden full of flowers, extending
down to the very shores of the serpentine bay. I met with the most
cordial reception, and found the most amiable family-life in the ducal
circle. I spent fourteen days here, and was present at the birth-day
festivities of the duchess, which lasted three days; among these
festivities was racing, and the town and the castle were filled with
Happy domestic life is like a beautiful summer's evening; the heart is
filled with peace; and everything around derives a peculiar glory. The
full heart says "it is good to be here;" and this I felt at
In the spring of 1844 I had finished a dramatic tale, "The Flower of
Fortune." The idea of this was, that it is not the immortal name of the
artist, nor the splendor of a crown which can make man happy; but that
happiness is to be found where people, satisfied with little, love and
are loved again. The scene was perfectly Danish, an idyllian, sunbright
life, in whose clear heaven two dark pictures are reflected as in a
dream; the unfortunate Danish poet Ewald and Prince Buris, who is
tragically sung of in our heroic ballads. I wished to show, in honor of
our times, the middle ages to have been dark and miserable, as they
were, but which many poets only represent to us in a beautiful light.
Professor Heiberg, who was appointed censor, declared himself against
the reception of my piece. During the last years I had met with nothing
but hostility from this party; I regarded it as personal ill-will, and
this was to me still more painful than the rejection of the pieces. It
was painful for me to be placed in a constrained position with regard
to a poet whom I respected, and towards whom, according to my own
conviction, I had done everything in order to obtain a friendly
relationship. A further attempt, however, must be made. I wrote to
Heiberg, expressed myself candidly, and, as I thought, cordially, and
entreated him to give me explicitly the reasons for his rejection of
the piece and for his ill-will towards me. He immediately paid me a
visit, which I, not being at home when he called, returned on the
following day, and I was received in the most friendly manner. The
visit and the conversation belong certainly to the extraordinary, but
they occasioned an explanation, and I hope led to a better
understanding for the future.
He clearly set before me his views in the rejection of my piece. Seen
from his point of sight they were unquestionably correct; but they were
not mine, and thus we could not agree. He declared decidedly that he
cherished no spite against me, and that he acknowledged my talent. I
mentioned his various attacks upon me, for example, in the
Intelligence, and that he had denied to me original invention: I
imagined, however, that I had shown this in my novels; "But of these,"
said I, "you have read none; you, yourself have told me so."
"Yes, that is the truth," replied he; "I have not yet read them, but I
will do so."
"Since then," continued I, "you have turned me and my Bazaar to
ridicule in your poem called Denmark, and spoken about my fanaticism
for the beautiful Dardanelles; and yet I have, precisely in that book,
described the Dardanelles as not beautiful; it is the Bosphorus which I
thought beautiful; you seem not to be aware of that; perhaps you have
not read The Bazaar either?"
"Was it the Bosphorus?" said he, with his own peculiar smile; "yes, I
had quite forgotten that, and, you see, people do not remember it
either; the object in this case was only to give you a stab."
This confession sounded so natural, so like him, that I was obliged to
smile. I looked into his clever eyes, thought how many beautiful things
he had written, and I could not be angry with him. The conversation
became more lively, more free, and he said many kind things to me; for
example, he esteemed my stories very highly, and entreated me
frequently to visit him. I have become more and more acquainted with
his poetical temperament, and I fancy that he too will understand mine.
We are very dissimilar, but we both strive after the same object.
Before we separated he conducted me to his little observatory; now his
dearest world. He seems now to live for poetry and now for philosophy,
and¨for which I fancy he is least of all calculated--for astronomy. I
could almost sigh and sing,
Thou wast erewhile the star at which them gazest now!
My dramatic story came at length on the stage, and in the course of the
season was performed seven times.
As people grow older, however much they may be tossed about in the
world, some one place must be the true home; even the bird of passage
has one fixed spot to which it hastens; mine was and is the house of my
friend Collin. Treated as a son, almost grown up with the children, I
have become a member of the family; a more heartfelt connection, a
better home have I never known: a link broke in this chain, and
precisely in the hour of bereavement, did I feel how firmly I have been
engrafted here, so that I was regarded as one of the children.
If I were to give the picture of the mistress of a family who wholly
loses her own individual _I_ in her husband and children, I must
name the wife of Collin; with the sympathy of a mother, she also
followed me in sorrow and in gladness. In the latter years of her life
she became very deaf, and besides this she had the misfortune of being
nearly blind. An operation was performed on her sight, which succeeded
so well, that in the course of the winter she was able to read a
letter, and this was a cause of grateful joy to her. She longed in an
extraordinary manner for the first green of spring, and this she saw in
her little garden.
I parted from her one Sunday evening in health and joy; in the night I
was awoke; a servant brought me a letter. Collin wrote, "My wife is
very ill; the children are all assembled here!" I understood it, and
hastened thither. She slept quietly and without pain; it was the sleep
of the just; it was death which was approaching so kindly and calmly.
On the third day she yet lay in that peaceful slumber: then her
countenance grew pale--and she was dead!
Thou didst but close thine eyes to gather in
The large amount of all thy spiritual bliss;
We saw thy slumbers like a little child's.
O death! thou art all brightness and not shadow.
Never had I imagined that the departure from this world could be so
painless, so blessed. A devotion arose in my soul; a conviction of God
and eternity, which this moment elevated to an epoch in my life. It was
the first death-bed at which I had been present since my childhood.
Children, and children's children were assembled. In such moments all
is holy around us. Her soul was love; she went to love and to God!
At the end of July, the monument of King Frederick VI. was to be
uncovered at Skanderburg, in the middle of Jutland. I had, by
solicitation, written the cantata for the festival, to which Hartmann
had furnished the music, and this was to be sung by Danish students. I
had been invited to the festival, which thus was to form the object of
my summer excursion.
Skanderburg lies in one of the most beautiful districts of Denmark.
Agreeable hills rise covered with vast beech-woods, and a large inland
lake of a pleasing form extends among them. On the outside of the city,
close by the church, which is built upon the ruins of an old castle,
now stands the monument, a work of Thorwaldsen's. The most beautiful
moment to me at this festival was in the evening, after the unveiling
of the monument; torches were lighted around it, and threw their
unsteady flame over the lake; within the woods blazed thousands of
lights, and music for the dance resounded from the tents. Round about
upon the hills, between the woods, and high above them, bonfires were
lighted at one and the same moment, which burned in the night like red
stars. There was spread over lake and land a pure, a summer fragrance
which is peculiar to the north, in its beautiful summer nights. The
shadows of those who passed between the monument and the church, glided
gigantically along its red walls, as if they were spirits who were
taking part in the festival.
I returned home. In this year my novel of the Improvisatore was
translated into English, by the well-known authoress, Mary Howitt, and
was received by her countrymen with great applause. O. T. and the
Fiddler soon followed, and met with, as it seemed, the same reception.
After that appeared a Dutch, and lastly a Russian translation of the
Improvisatore. That which should never have ventured to have dreamed of
was accomplished; my writings seem to come forth under a lucky star;
they fly over all lands. There is something elevating, but at the same
time, a something terrific in seeing one's thoughts spread so far, and
among so many people; it is indeed, almost a fearful thing to belong to
so many. The noble and the good in us becomes a blessing; but the bad,
one's errors, shoot forth also, and involuntarily the thought forces
itself from us: God! let me never write down a word of which I shall
not be able to give an account to thee. A peculiar feeling, a mixture
of joy and anxiety, fills my heart every time my good genius conveys my
fictions to a foreign people.
Travelling operates like an invigorating bath to the mind; like a
Medea-draft which always makes young again. I feel once more an impulse
for it--not in order to seek up material, as a critic fancied and said,
in speaking of my Bazaar; there exists a treasury of material in my own
inner self, and this life is too short to mature this young existence;
but there needs refreshment of spirit in order to convey it vigorously
and maturely to paper, and travelling is to me, as I have said, this
invigorating bath, from which I return as it were younger and stronger.
By prudent economy, and the proceeds of my writings, I was in a
condition to undertake several journeys during the last year. That
which for me is the most sunbright, is the one in which these pages
were written. Esteem, perhaps over-estimation, but especially kindness,
in short, happiness and pleasure have flowed towards me in abundant
I wished to visit Italy for the third time, there to spend a summer,
that I might become acquainted with the south in its warm season, and
probably return thence by Spain and France. At the end of October,
1845, I left Copenhagen. Formerly I had thought when I set out on a
journey, God! what wilt thou permit to happen to me on this journey!
This time my thoughts were, God, what will happen to my friends at home
during this long time! And I felt a real anxiety. In one year the
hearse may drive up to the door many times, and whose name may shine
upon the coffin! The proverb says, when one suddenly feels a cold
shudder, "now death passes over my grave." The shudder is still colder
when the thoughts pass over the graves of our best friends.
I spent a few days at Count Moltke's, at Glorup; strolling players were
acting some of my dramatic works at one of the nearest provincial
towns. I did not see them; country life firmly withheld me. There is
something in the late autumn poetically beautiful; when the leaf is
fallen from the tree, and the sun shines still upon the green grass,
and the bird twitters, one may often fancy that it is a spring-day;
thus certainly also has the old man moments in his autumn in which his
heart dreams of spring.
I passed only one day in Odense--I feel myself there more of a stranger
than in the great cities of Germany. As a child I was solitary, and had
therefore no youthful friend; most of the families whom I knew have
died out; a new generation passes along the streets; and the streets
even are altered. The later buried have concealed the miserable graves
of my parents. Everything is changed. I took one of my childhood's
rambles to the Marian-heights which had belonged to the Iversen family;
but this family is dispersed; unknown faces looked out from the
windows. How many youthful thoughts have been here exchanged!
One of the young girls who at that time sat quietly there with beaming
eyes and listened to my first poem, when I came here in the summer time
as a scholar from Slagelse, sits now far quieter in noisy Copenhagen,
and has thence sent out her first writings into the world. Her German
publisher thought that some introductory words from me might be useful
to them, and I, the stranger, but the almost too kindly received, have
introduced the works of this clever girl into Germany.
It is Henriette Hanck of whom I speak, the authoress of "Aunt Anna,"
and "An Author's Daughter." [Footnote: Since these pages were written,
I have received from home the news of her death, in July, 1846. She was
an affectionate daughter to her parents, and was, besides this,
possessed of a deeply poetical mind. In her I have lost a true friend
from the years of childhood, one who had felt an interest and a
sisterly regard for me, both in my good and my evil days.] I visited
her birth-place when the first little circle paid me homage and gave me
joy. But all was strange there, I myself a stranger.
The ducal family of Augustenburg was now at Castle Gravenstein; they
were informed of my arrival, and all the favor and the kindness which
was shown to me on the former occasion at Augustenburg, was here
renewed in rich abundance. I remained here fourteen days, and it was as
if these were an announcement of all the happiness which should meet me
when I arrived in Germany. The country around here is of the most
picturesque description; vast woods, cultivated uplands in perpetual
variety, with the winding shore of the bay and the many quiet inland
lakes. Even the floating mists of autumn lent to the landscape a some
what picturesque, something strange to the islander. Everything here is
on a larger scale than on the island. Beautiful was it without,
glorious was it within. I wrote here a new little story. The Girl with
the Brimstone-matches; the only thing which I wrote upon this journey.
Receiving the invitation to come often to Gravenstein and Augustenburg,
I left, with a grateful heart, a place where I had spent such beautiful
and such happy days.
Now, no longer the traveller goes at a snail's pace through the deep
sand over the heath; the railroad conveys him in a few hours to Altona
and Hamburg. The circle of my friends there is increased within the
last years. The greater part of my time I spent with my oldest friends
Count Hoik, and the resident Minister Bille, and with Zeise, the
excellent translator of my stories. Otto Speckter, who is full of
genius, surprised me by his bold, glorious drawings for my stories; he
had made a whole collection of them, six only of which were known to
me. The same natural freshness which shows itself in every one of his
works, and makes them all little works of art, exhibits itself in his
whole character. He appears to possess a patriarchal family, an
affectionate old father, and gifted sisters, who love him with their
whole souls. I wished one evening to go to the theatre; it was scarcely
a quarter of an hour before the commencement of the opera: Speckter
accompanied me, and on our way we came up to an elegant house.
"We must first go in here, dear friend," said he; "a wealthy family
lives here, friends of mine, and friends of your stories; the children
will be happy."
"But the opera," said I.
"Only for two minutes," returned he; and drew me into the house,
mentioned my name, and the circle of children collected around me.
"And now tell us a tale," said he; "only one."
I told one, and then hastened away to the theatre.
"That was an extraordinary visit," said I.
"An excellent one; one entirely out of the common way; one entirely out
of the common way!" said he exultingly; "only think; the children are
full of Andersen and his stories; he suddenly makes his appearance
amongst them, tells one of them himself, and then is gone! vanished!
That is of itself like a fairy-tale to the children, that will remain
vividly in their remembrance."
I myself was amused by it.
In Oldenburg my own little room, home-like and comfortable, was
awaiting me. Hofrath von Eisendecker and his well-informed lady, whom,
among all my foreign friends I may consider as my most sympathizing,
expected me. I had promised to remain with them a fortnight, but I
stayed much longer. A house where the best and the most intellectual
people of a city meet, is an agreeable place of residence, and such a
one had I here. A deal of social intercourse prevailed in the little
city, and the theatre, in which certainly either opera or ballet was
given, is one of the most excellent in Germany. The ability of Gall,
the director, is sufficiently known, and unquestionably the
nominationof the poet Mosen has a great and good influence. I have to
thank him for enabling me to see one of the classic pieces of Germany,
"Nathan the Wise," the principal part in which was played by Kaiser,
who is as remarkable for his deeply studied and excellent tragic
acting, as for his readings.
Moses, who somewhat resembles Alexander Dumas, with his half African
countenance, and brown sparkling eyes, although he was suffering in
body, was full of life and soul, and we soon understood one another. A
trait of his little son affected me. He had listened to me with great
devotion, as I read one of my stories; and when on the last day I was
there, I took leave, the mother said that he must give me his hand,
adding, that probably a long time must pass before he would see me
again, the boy burst into tears. In the evening, when Mosen came into
the theatre, he said to me, "My little Erick has two tin soldiers; one
of them he has given me for you, that you may take him with you on your
The tin soldier has faithfully accompanied me; he is a Turk: probably
some day he may relate his travels.
Mosen wrote in the dedication of his "John of Austria," the following
lines to me:--
Once a little bird flew over
From the north sea's dreary strand;
Singing, flew unto me over,
Singing M rchen through the land.
Farewell! yet again bring hither
Thy warm heart and song together.
Here I again met with Mayer, who has described Naples and the
Neapolitans so charmingly. My little stories interested him so much
that he had written a little treaties on them for Germany,
Kapellmeister Pott, and my countryman Jerndorff, belong to my earlier
friends. I made every day new acquaintance, because all houses were
open to me through the family with whom I was staying. Even the Grand
Duke was so generous as to have me invited to a concert at the palace
the day after my arrival, and later I had the honor of being asked to
dinner. I received in this foreign court, especially, many unlooked-for
favors. At the Eisendeckers and at the house of the parents of my
friend Beaulieu--the Privy-Counsellor Beaulieu, at Oldenburg, I heard
several times my little stones read in German.
I can read Danish very well, as it ought to be read, and I can give to
it perfectly the expression which ought to be given in reading; there
is in the Danish language a power which cannot be transfused into a
translation; the Danish language is peculiarly excellent for this
species of fiction. The stories have a something strange to me in
German; it is difficult for me in reading it to put my Danish soul into
it; my pronunciation of the German also is feeble, and with particular
words I must, as it were, use an effort to bring them out--and yet
people everywhere in Germany have had great interest in hearing me read
them aloud. I can very well believe that the foreign pronunciation in
the reading of these tales may be easily permitted, because this
foreign manner approaches, in this instance, to the childlike; it gives
a natural coloring to the reading. I saw everywhere that the most
distinguished men and women of the most highly cultivated minds,
listened to me with interest; people entreated me to read, and I did so
willingly. I read for the first time my stories in a foreign tongue,
and at a foreign court, before the Grand Duke of Oldenburg and a little
The winter soon came on; the meadows which lay under water, and which
formed large lakes around the city, were already covered with thick
ice; the skaters flew over it, and I yet remained in Oldenburg among my
hospitable friends. Days and evenings slid rapidly away; Christmas
approached, and this season I wished to spend in Berlin. But what are
distances in our days?--the steam-carriage goes from Hanover to Berlin
in one day! I must away from the beloved ones, from children and old
people, who were near, as it were, to my heart.
I was astonished in the highest degree on taking leave of the Grand
Duke, to receive from him, as a mark of his favor and as a keepsake, a
valuable ring. I shall always preserve it, like every other remembrance
of this country, where I have found and where I possess true friends.
When I was in Berlin on the former occasion, I was invited, as the
author of the Improvisatore, to the Italian Society, into which only
those who have visited Italy can be admitted. Here I saw Rauch for the
first time, who with his white hair and his powerful, manly figure, is
not unlike Thorwaldsen. Nobody introduced me to him, and I did not
venture to present myself, and therefore walked alone about his studio,
like the other strangers. Afterwards I became personally acquainted
with him at the house of the Prussian Ambassador, in Copenhagen; I now
hastened to him.
He was in the highest degree captivated by my little stories, pressed
me to his breast, and expressed the highest praise, but which was
honestly meant. Such a momentary estimation or over-estimation from a
man of genius erases many a dark shadow from the mind. I received from
Rauch my first welcome in Berlin: he told me what a large circle of
friends I had in the capital of Prussia. I must acknowledge that it was
so. They were of the noblest in mind as well as the first in rank, in
art, and in science. Alexander von Humboldt, Prince Radziwil, Savigny,
and many others never to be forgotten.
I had already, on the former occasion, visited the brothers Grimm, but
I had not at that time made much progress with the acquaintance. I had
not brought any letters of introduction to them with me, because people
had told me, and I myself believed it, that if I were known by any body
in Berlin, it must be the brothers Grimm. I therefore sought out their
residence. The servant-maid asked me with which of the brothers I
wished to speak.
"With the one who has written the most," said I, because I did not
know, at that time, which of them had most interested himself in the
"Jacob is the most learned," said the maidservant.
"Well, then, take me to him."
I entered the room, and Jacob Grimm, with his knowing and strongly-
marked countenance, stood before me.
"I come to you," said I, "without letters of introduction, because I
hope that my name is not wholly unknown to you."
"Who are you?" asked he.
I told him, and Jacob Grimm said, in a half-embarrassed voice, "I do
not remember to have heard this name; what have you written?"
It was now my turn to be embarrassed in a high degree: but I now
mentioned my little stories.
"I do not know them," said he; "but mention to me some other of your
writings, because I certainly must have heard them spoken of."
I named the titles of several; but he shook his head. I felt myself
"But what must you think of me," said I, "that I come to you as a total
stranger, and enumerate myself what I have written: you must know me!
There has been published in Denmark a collection of the M rchen of all
nations, which is dedicated to you, and in it there is at least one
story of mine."
"No," said he good-humoredly, but as much embarrassed as myself; "I
have not read even that, but it delights me to make your acquaintance;
allow me to conduct you to my brother Wilhelm?"
"No, I thank you," said I, only wishing now to get away; I had fared
badly enough with one brother. I pressed his hand and hurried from the
That same month Jacob Grimm went to Copenhagen; immediately on his
arrival, and while yet in his travelling dress, did the amiable kind
man hasten up to me. He now knew me, and he came to me with cordiality.
I was just then standing and packing my clothes in a trunk for a
journey to the country; I had only a few minutes time: by this means my
reception of him was just as laconic as had been his of me in Berlin.
Now, however, we met in Berlin as old acquaintance. Jacob Grimm is one
of those characters whom one must love and attach oneself to.
One evening, as I was reading one of my little stories at the Countess
Bismark-Bohlen's, there was in the little circle one person in
particular who listened with evident fellowship of feeling, and who
expressed himself in a peculiar and sensible manner on the subject,--
this was Jacob's brother, Wilhelm Grimm.
"I should have known you very well, if you had come to me," said he,
"the last time you were here."
I saw these two highly-gifted and amiable brothers almost daily; the
circles into which I was invited seemed also to be theirs, and it was
my desire and pleasure that they should listen to my little stories,
that they should participate in them, they whose names will be always
spoken as long as the German _Volks M rchen_ are read.
The fact of my not being known to Jacob Grimm on my first visit to
Berlin, had so disconcerted me, that when any one asked me whether I
had been well received in this city, I shook my head doubtfully and
said, "but Grimm did not know me."
I was told that Tieck was ill--could see no one; I therefore only sent
in my card. Some days afterwards I met at a friend's house, where
Rauch's birth-day was being celebrated, Tieck, the sculptor, who told
me that his brother had lately waited two hours for me at dinner. I
went to him and discovered that he had sent me an invitation, which,
however, had been taken to a wrong inn. A fresh invitation was given,
and I passed some delightfully cheerful hours with Raumer the
historian, and with the widow and daughter of Steffens. There is a
music in Tieck's voice, a spirituality in his intelligent eyes, which
age cannot lessen, but, on the contrary, must increase. The Elves,
perhaps the most beautiful story which has been conceived in our time,
would alone be sufficient, had Tieck written nothing else, to make his
name immortal. As the author of _M rchen_, I bow myself before
him, the elder and The master, and who was the first German poet, who
many years before pressed me to his breast, as if it were to consecrate
me, to walk in the same path with himself.
The old friends had all to be visited; but the number of new ones grew
with each day. One invitation followed another. It required
considerable physical power to support so much good-will. I remained in
Berlin about three weeks, and the time seemed to pass more rapidly with
each succeeding day. I was, as it were, overcome by kindness. I, at
length, had no other prospect for repose than to seat myself in a
railway-carriage, and fly away out of the country.
And yet amid these social festivities, with all the amiable zeal and
interest that then was felt for me, I had one disengaged evening; one
evening on which I suddenly felt solitude in its most oppressive form;
Christmas-eve, that very evening of all others on which I would most
willingly witness something festal, willingly stand beside a Christmas-
tree, gladdening myself with the joy of children, and seeing the
parents joyfully become children again. Every one of the many families
in which I in truth felt that I was received as a relation, had
fancied, as I afterwards discovered, that I must be invited out; but I
sat quite alone in my room at the inn, and thought on home. I seated
myself at the open window, and gazed up to the starry heavens, which
was the Christmas-tree that was lighted for me.
"Father in Heaven," I prayed, as the children do, "what dost thou give
When the friends heard of my solitary Christmas night, there were on
the following evening many Christmas-trees lighted, and on the last
evening in the year, there was planted for me alone, a little tree with
its lights, and its beautiful presents--and that was by Jenny Lind. The
whole company consisted of herself, her attendant, and me; we three
children from the north were together on Sylvester-eve, and I was the
child for which the Christmas-tree was lighted. She rejoiced with the
feeling of a sister in my good fortune in Berlin; and I felt almost
pride in the sympathy of such a pure, noble, and womanly being.
Everywhere her praise resounded, not merely as a singer, but also as a
woman; the two combined awoke a real enthusiasm for her.
It does one good both in mind and heart to see that which is glorious
understood and beloved. In one little anecdote contributing to her
triumph I was myself made the confidant.
One morning as I looked out of my window _unter den Linden_, I saw
a man under one of the trees, half hidden, and shabbily dressed, who
took a comb out of his pocket, smoothed his hair, set his neckerchief
straight, and brushed his coat with his hand; I understood that bashful
poverty which feels depressed by its shabby dress. A moment after this,
there was a knock at my door, and this same man entered. It was W----,
the poet of nature, who is only a poor tailor, but who has a truly
poetical mind. Rellstab and others in Berlin have mentioned him with
honor; there is something healthy in his poems, among which several of
a sincerely religious character may be found. He had read that I was in
Berlin, and wished now to visit me. We sat together on the sofa and
conversed: there was such an amiable contentedness, such an unspoiled
and good tone of mind about him, that I was sorry not to be rich in
order that I might do something for him. I was ashamed of offering him
the little that I could give; in any case I wished to put it in as
agreeable a form as I could. I asked him whether I might invite him to
hear Jenny Lind.
"I have already heard her," said he smiling; "I had, it is true, no
money to buy a ticket; but I went to the leader of the supernumeraries,
and asked whether I might not act as a supernumerary for one evening in
Norma: I was accepted and habited as a Roman soldier, with a long sword
by my side, and thus got to the theatre, where I could hear her better
than any body else, for I stood close to her. Ah, how she sung, how she
played! I could not help crying; but they were angry at that: the
leader forbade and would not let me again make my appearance, because
no one must weep on the stage."
With the exception of the theatre, I had very little time to visit
collections of any kind or institutions of art. The able and amiable
Olfers, however, the Director of the Museum, enabled me to pay a rapid
but extremely interesting visit to that institution. Olfers himself was
my conductor; we delayed our steps only for the most interesting
objects, and there are here not a few of these; his remarks threw light
upon my mind,--for this therefore I am infinitely obliged to him.
I had the happiness of visiting the Princess of Prussia many times; the
wing of the castle in which she resided was so comfortable, and yet
like a fairy palace. The blooming winter-garden, where the fountain
splashed among the moss at the foot of the statue, was close beside the
room in which the kind-hearted children smiled with their soft blue
eyes. On taking leave she honored me with a richly bound album, in
which, beneath the picture of the palace, she wrote her name. I shall
guard this volume as a treasure of the soul; it is not the gift which
has a value only, but also the manner in which it is given. One
forenoon I read to her several of my little stories, and her noble
husband listened kindly: Prince P ckler-Muskau also was present.
A few days after my arrival in Berlin, I had the honor to be invited to
the royal table. As I was better acquainted with Humboldt than any one
there, and he it was who had particularly interested himself about me,
I took my place at his side. Not only on account of his high
intellectual character, and his amiable and polite behavior, but also
from his infinite kindness towards me, during the whole of my residence
in Berlin, is he become unchangeably dear to me.
The King received me most graciously, and said that during his stay in
Copenhagen he had inquired after me, and had heard that I was
travelling. He expressed a great interest in my novel of Only a
Fiddler; her Majesty the Queen also showed herself graciously and
kindly disposed towards me. I had afterwards the happiness of being
invited to spend an evening at the palace at Potsdam; an evening which
is full of rich remembrance and never to be forgotten! Besides the
ladies and gentlemen in waiting, Humboldt and myself were only invited.
A seat was assigned to me at the table of their Majesties, exactly the
place, said the Queen, where Oehlenschl ger had sat and read his
tragedy of Dina. I read four little stories, the Fir-Tree, the Ugly
Duckling, the Ball and the Top, and The Swineherd. The King listened
with great interest, and expressed himself most wittily on the subject.
He said, how beautiful he thought the natural scenery of Denmark, and
how excellently he had seen one of Holberg's comedies performed.
It was so deliciously pleasant in the royal apartment,--gentle eyes
were gazing at me, and I felt that they all wished me well. When at
night I was alone in my chamber, my thoughts were so occupied with this
evening, and my mind in such a state of excitement, that I could not
sleep. Everything seemed to me like a fairy tale. Through the whole
night the chimes sounded in the tower, and the aerial music mingled
itself with my thoughts.
I received still one more proof of the favor and kindness of the King
of Prussia towards me, on the evening before my departure from the
city. The order of the Red Eagle, of the third class, was conferred
upon me. Such a mark of honor delights certainly every one who receives
it. I confess candidly that I felt myself honored in a high degree. I
discerned in it an evident token of the kindness of the noble,
enlightened King towards me: my heart is filled with gratitude. I
received this mark of honor exactly on the birth-day of my benefactor
Collin, the 6th of January; this day has now a twofold festal
significance for me. May God fill with gladness the mind of the royal
donor who wished to give me pleasure!
The last evening was spent in a warm-hearted circle, for the greater
part, of young people. My health was drunk; a poem, Der M rchenk¸nig,
declaimed. It was not until late in the night that I reached home, that
I might set off early in the morning by railroad.
I have here given in part a proof of the favor and kindness which was
shown to me in Berlin: I feel like some one who has received a
considerable sum for a certain object from a large assembly, and now
would give an account thereof. I might still add many other names, as
well from the learned world, as Theodor, M gge, Geibel, H ring, etc.,
as from the social circle;--the reckoning is too large. God give me
strength for that which I now have to perform, after I have, as an
earnest of good will, received such a richly abundant sum.
After a journey of a day and night I was once more in Weimar, with my
noble Hereditary Grand Duke. What a cordial reception! A heart rich in
goodness, and a mind full of noble endeavors, live in this young
prince. I have no words for the infinite favor, which, during my
residence here, I received daily from the family of the Grand Duke, but
my whole heart is full of devotion. At the court festival, as well as
in the familiar family circle, I had many evidences of the esteem in
which I was held. Beaulieu cared for me with the tenderness of a
brother. It was to me a month-long Sabbath festival. Never shall I
forget the quiet evenings spent with him, when friend spoke freely to
My old friends were also unchanged; the wise and able Sch¸ll, as well
as Schober, joined them also. Jenny Lind came to Weimar; I heard her at
the court concerts and at the theatre; I visited with her the places
which are become sacred through Goethe and Schiller: we stood together
beside their coffins, where Chancellor von M ller led us. The Austrian
poet, Rollet, who met us here for the first time, wrote on this subject
a sweet poem, which will serve me as a visible remembrance of this hour
and this place. People lay lovely flowers in their books, and as such,
I lay in here this verse of his:--
Weimar, 29th January, 1846.
M rchen rose, which has so often
Charmed me with thy fragrant breath;
Where the prince, the poets slumber,
Thou hast wreathed the hall of death.
And with thee beside each coffin,
In the death-hushed chamber pale,
I beheld a grief-enchanted,
Sweetly dreaming nightingale.
I rejoiced amid the stillness;
Gladness through my bosom past,
That the gloomy poets' coffins
Such a magic crowned at last.
And thy rose's summer fragrance
Floated round that chamber pale,
With the gentle melancholy
Of the grief-hushed nightingale.
It was in the evening circle of the intellectual Froriep that I met,
for the first time, with Auerbach, who then chanced to be staying in
Weimar. His "Village Tales" interested me in the highest degree; I
regard them as the most poetical, most healthy, and joyous production
of the young German literature. He himself made the same agreeable
impression upon me; there is something so frank and straightforward,
and yet so sagacious, in his whole appearance, I might almost say, that
he looks himself like a village tale, healthy to the core, body and
soul, and his eyes beaming with honesty. We soon became friends--and I
My stay in Weimar was prolonged; it became ever more difficult to tear
myself away. The Grand Duke's birth-day occurred at this time, and
after attending all the festivities to which I was invited, I departed.
I would and must be in Rome at Easter. Once more in the early morning,
I saw the Hereditary Grand Duke, and, with a heart full of emotion,
bade him farewell. Never, in presence of the world, will I forget the
high position which his birth gives him, but I may say, as the very
poorest subject may say of a prince, I love him as one who is dearest
to my heart. God give him joy and bless him in his noble endeavors! A
generous heart beats beneath the princely star.
Beaulieu accompanied me to Jena. Here a hospitable home awaited me, and
filled with beautiful memories from the time of Goethe, the house of
the publisher Frommann. It was his kind, warm-hearted sister, who had
shown me such sympathy in Berlin; the brother was not here less kind.
The Holstener Michelsen, who has a professorship at Jena, assembled a
number of friends one evening, and in a graceful and cordial toast for
me, expressed his sense of the importance of Danish literature, and the
healthy and natural spirit which flourished in it.
In Michelsen's house I also became acquainted with Professor Hase, who,
one evening having heard some of my little stories, seemed filled with
great kindness towards me. What he wrote in this moment of interest on
an album leaf expresses this sentiment:
"Schelling--not he who now lives in Berlin, but he who lives an
immortal hero in the world of mind--once said: 'Nature is the visible
spirit.' This spirit, this unseen nature, last evening was again
rendered visible to me through your little tales. If on the one hand
you penetrate deeply into the mysteries of nature; know and understand
the language of birds, and what are the feelings of a fir-tree or a
daisy, so that each seems to be there on its own account, and we and
our children sympathize with them in their joys and sorrows; yet, on
the other hand, all is but the image of mind; and the human heart in
its infinity, trembles and throbs throughout. May this fountain in the
poet's heart, which God has lent you, still for a time pour forth this
refreshingly, and may these stories in the memories of the Germanic
nations, become the legends of the people!" That object, for which as a
writer of poetical fictions, I must strive after, is contained in these
It is also to Hase and the gifted improvisatore, Professor Wolff of
Jena, to whom I am most indebted for the appearance of a uniform German
edition of my writings.
This was all arranged on my arrival at Leipzig: several hours of
business were added to my traveller's mode of life. The city of
bookselling presented me with her bouquet, a sum of money; but she
presented me with even more. I met again with Brockhaus, and passed
happy hours with Mendelssohn, that glorious man of genius. I heard him
play again and again; it seemed to me that his eyes, full of soul,
looked into the very depths of my being. Few men have more the stamp of
the inward fire than he. A gentle, friendly wife, and beautiful
children, make his rich, well-appointed house, blessed and pleasant.
When he rallied me about the Stork, and its frequent appearance in my
writings, there was something so childlike and amiable revealed in this
I also met again my excellent countryman Gade, whose compositions have
been so well received in Germany. I took him the text for a new opera
which I had written, and which I hope to see brought out on the German
stage. Gade had written the music to my drama of Agnete and the Merman,
compositions which were very successful. Auerbach, whom I again found
here, introduced me to many agreeable circles. I met with the composer
Kalliwoda, and with K hne, whose charming little son immediately won my
On my arrival at Dresden I instantly hastened to my motherly friend,
the Baroness von Decken. That was a joyous hearty welcome! One equally
cordial I met with from Dahl. I saw once more my Roman friend, the poet
with word and color, Reineck, and met the kind-hearted Bendemann.
Professor Grahl painted me. I missed, however, one among my olden
friends, the poet Brunnow. With life and cordiality he received me the
last time in his room, where stood lovely flowers; now these grew over
his grave. It awakens a peculiar feeling, thus for once to meet on the
journey of life, to understand and love each other, and then to part--
until the journey for both is ended.
I spent, to me, a highly interesting evening, with the royal family,
who received me with extraordinary favor. Here also the most happy
domestic life appeared to reign--a number of amiable children, all
belonging to Prince Johann, were present. The least of the Princesses,
a little girl, who knew that I had written the history of the Fir-tree,
began very confidentially with--"Last Christmas we also had a Fir-tree,
and it stood here in this room!" Afterwards, when she was led out
before the other children, and had bade her parents and the King and
Queen good night, she turned round at the half-closed door, and nodding
to me in a friendly and familiar manner, said I was her Fairy-tale
My story of Holger Danske led the conversation to the rich stores of
legends which the north possesses. I related several, and explained the
peculiar spirit of the fine scenery of Denmark. Neither in this royal
palace did I feel the weight of ceremony; soft, gentle eyes shone upon
me. My last morning in Dresden was spent with the Minister von
K¸nneritz, where I equally met with the most friendly reception.
The sun shone warm: it was spring who was celebrating her arrival, as I
rolled out of the dear city. Thought assembled in one amount all the
many who had rendered my visits so rich and happy: it was spring around
me, and spring in my heart.
In Prague I had only one acquaintance, Professor Wiesenfeldt. But a
letter from Dr. Carus in Dresden opened to me the hospitable house of
Count Thun. The Archduke Stephan received me also in the most gracious
manner; I found in him a young man full of intellect and heart. Besides
it was a very interesting point of time when I left Prague. The
military, who had been stationed there a number of years, were
hastening to the railway, to leave for Poland, where disturbances had
broken out. The whole city seemed in movement to take leave of its
military friends; it was difficult to get through the streets which led
to the railway. Many thousand soldiers were to be accommodated; at
length the train was set in motion. All around the whole hill-side was
covered with people; it looked like the richest Turkey carpet woven of
men, women and children, all pressed together, head to head, and waving
hats and handkerchiefs. Such a mass of human beings I never saw before,
or at least, never at one moment surveyed them: such a spectacle could
not be painted.
We travelled the whole night through wide Bohemia: at every town stood
groups of people; it was as though all the inhabitants had assembled
themselves. Their brown faces, their ragged clothes, the light of their
torches, their, to me, unintelligible language, gave to the whole a
stamp of singularity. We flew through tunnel and over viaduct; the
windows rattled, the signal whistle sounded, the steam horses snorted--
I laid back my head at last in the carriage, and fell asleep under the
protection of the god Morpheus.
At Olm tz, where we had fresh carnages, a voice spoke my name--it was
Walter Goethe! We had travelled together the whole night without
knowing it. In Vienna we met often. Noble powers, true genius, live in
Goethe's grandsons, in the composer as well as in the poet; but it is
as if the greatness of their grandfather pressed upon them. Liszt was
in Vienna, and invited me to his concert, in which otherwise it would
have been impossible to find a place. I again heard his improvising of
Robert! I again heard him, like a spirit of the storm, play with the
chords: he is an enchanter of sounds who fills the imagination with
astonishment. Ernst also was here; when I visited him he seized the
violin, and this sang in tears the secret of a human heart.
I saw the amiable Grillparzer again, and was frequently with the kindly
Castelli, who just at this time had been made by the King of Denmark
Knight of the Danebrog Order. He was full of joy at this, and begged me
to tell my countrymen that every Dane should receive a hearty welcome
from him. Some future summer he invited me to visit his grand country
seat. There is something in Castelli so open and honorable, mingled
with such good-natured humor, that one must like him: he appears to me
the picture of a thorough Viennese. Under his portrait, which he gave
me, he wrote the following little improvised verse in the style so
peculiarly his own:
This portrait shall ever with loving eyes greet thee,
From far shall recall the smile of thy friend;
For thou, dearest Dane, 'tis a pleasure to meet thee,
Thou art one to be loved and esteemed to the end.
Castelli introduced me to Seidl and Bauernfeld. At the Danisti
ambassador's, Baron von L¸wenstern, I met Zedlitz. Most of the shining
stars of Austrian literature I saw glide past me, as people on a
railway see church towers; you can still say you have seen them; and
still retaining the simile of the stars, I can say, that in the
Concordia Society I saw the entire galaxy. Here was a host of young
growing intellects, and here were men of importance. At the house of
Count Szechenye, who hospitably invited me, I saw his brother from
Pest, whose noble activity in Hungary is known. This short meeting I
account one of the most interesting events of my stay in Vienna; the
man revealed himself in all his individuality, and his eye said that
you must feel confidence in him.
At my departure from Dresden her Majesty the Queen of Saxony had asked
me whether I had introductions to any one at the Court of Vienna, and
when I told her that I had not, the Queen was so gracious as to write a
letter to her sister, the Archduchess Sophia of Austria. Her imperial
Highness summoned me one evening, and received me in the most gracious
manner. The dowager Empress, the widow of the Emperor Francis I., was
present, and full of kindness and friendship towards me; also Prince
Wasa, and the hereditary Archduchess of Hesse-Darmstadt. The
remembrance of this evening will always remain dear and interesting to
me. I read several of my little stories aloud--when I wrote them, I
thought least of all that I should some day read them aloud in the
Before my departure I had still another visit to make, and this was to
the intellectual authoress, Frau von Weissenthurn. She had just left a
bed of sickness and was still suffering, but wished to see me. As
though she were already standing on the threshold of the realm of
shades, she pressed my hand and said this was the last time we should
ever see each other. With a soft motherly gaze she looked at me, and at
parting her penetrating eye followed me to the door.
With railway and diligence my route now led towards Triest. With steam
the long train of carriages flies along the narrow rocky way, following
all the windings of the river. One wonders that with all these abrupt
turnings one is not dashed against the rock, or flung down into the
roaring stream, and is glad when the journey is happily accomplished.
But in the slow diligence one wishes its more rapid journey might
recommence, and praise the powers of the age.
At length Triest and the Adriatic sea lay before us; the Italian
language sounded in our ears, but yet for me it was not Italy, the land
of my desire. Meanwhile I was only a stranger here for a few hours; our
Danish consul, as well as the consuls of Prussia and Oldenburg, to whom
I was recommended, received me in the best possible manner. Several
interesting acquaintances were made, especially with the Counts
O'Donnell and Waldstein, the latter for me as a Dane having a peculiar
interest, as being the descendant of that unfortunate Confitz Ulfeld
and the daughter of Christian IV., Eleanore, the noblest of all Danish
women. Their portraits hung in his room, and Danish memorials of that
period were shown me. It was the first time I had ever seen Eleanore
Ulfeld's portrait, and the melancholy smile on her lips seemed to say,
"Poet, sing and free from chains which a hard age had cast upon him,
for whom to live and to suffer was my happiness!" Before Oehlenschl ger
wrote his Dina, which treats of an episode in Ulfeld's life, I was at
work on this subject, and wished to bring it on the stage, but it was
then feared this would not be allowed, and I gave it up--since then I
have only written four lines on Ulfeld:--
Thy virtue was concealed, not so thy failings,
Thus did the world thy greatness never know,
Yet still love's glorious monument proclaims it,
That the best wife from thee would never go.
On the Adriatic sea I, in thought, was carried back to Ulfeld's time
and the Danish islands. This meeting with Count Waldstein and his
ancestor's portrait brought me back to my poet's world, and I almost
forgot that the following day I could be in the middle of Italy. In
beautiful mild weather I went with the steam-boat to Ancona.
It was a quiet starlight night, too beautiful to be spent in sleep. In
the early morning the coast of Italy lay before us, the beautiful blue
mountains with glittering snow. The sun shone warmly, the grass and the
trees were so splendidly green. Last evening in Trieste, now in Ancona,
in a city of the papal states,--that was almost like enchantment! Italy
in all its picturesque splendor lay once more before me; spring had
ripened all the fruit trees so that they had burst forth into blossom;
every blade of grass in the field was filled with sunshine, the elm
trees stood like caryatides enwreathed with vines, which shot forth
green leaves, and above the luxuriance of foliage rose the wavelike
blue mountains with their snow covering. In company with Count Paar
from Vienna, the most excellent travelling companion, and a young
nobleman from Hungary, I now travelled on with a vetturino for five
days: solitary, and more picturesque than habitable inns among the
Apennines were our night's quarters. At length the Campagna, with its
thought-awakening desolation, lay before us.
It was the 31st of March, 1846, when I again saw Rome, and for the
third time in my life should reach this city of the world. I felt so
happy, so penetrated with thankfulness and joy; how much more God had
given me than a thousand others--nay, than to many thousands! And even
in this very feeling there is a blessing--where joy is very great, as
in the deepest grief, there is only God on whom one can lean! The first
impression was--I can find no other word for it--adoration. When day
unrolled for me my beloved Rome, I felt what I cannot express more
briefly or better than I did in a letter to a friend: "I am growing
here into the very ruins, I live with the petrified gods, and the roses
are always blooming, and the church bells ringing--and yet Rome is not
the Rome it was thirteen years ago when I first was here. It is as if
everything were modernized, the ruins even, grass and bushes are
cleared away. Everything is made so neat; the very life of the people
seems to have retired; I no longer hear the tamborines in the streets,
no longer see the young girls dancing their Saltarella, even in the
Campagna intelligence has entered by invisible railroads; the peasant
no longer believes as he used to do. At the Easter festival I saw great
numbers of the people from the Campagna standing before St. Peters
whilst the Pope distributed his blessing, just as though they had been
Protestant strangers. This was repulsive to my feelings, I felt an
impulse to kneel before the invisible saint. When I was here thirteen
years ago, all knelt; now reason had conquered faith. Ten years later,
when the railways will have brought cities still nearer to each other,
Rome will be yet more changed. But in all that happens, everything is
for the best; one always must love Rome; it is like a story book, one
is always discovering new wonders, and one lives in imagination and
The first time I travelled to Italy I had no eyes for sculpture; in
Paris the rich pictures drew me away from the statues; for the first
time when I came to Florence and stood before the Venus de Medicis, I
felt as Thorwaldsen expressed, "the snow melted away from my eyes;" and
a new world of art rose before me. And now at my third sojourn in Rome,
after repeated wanderings through the Vatican, I prize the statues far
higher than the paintings. But at what other places as at Rome, and to
some degree in Naples, does this art step forth so grandly into life!
One is carried away by it, one learns to admire nature in the work of
art, the beauty of form becomes spiritual.
Among the many clever and beautiful things which I saw exhibited in the
studios of the young artists, two pieces of sculpture were what most
deeply impressed themselves on my memory; and these were in the studio
of my countryman Jerichau. I saw his group of Hercules and Hebe, which
had been spoken of with such enthusiasm in the Allgemeine Zeitung and
other German papers, and which, through its antique repose, and its
glorious beauty, powerfully seized upon me. My imagination was filled
by it, and yet I must place Jerichau's later group, the Fighting
Hunter, still higher. It is formed after the model, as though it had
sprung from nature. There lies in it a truth, a beauty, and a grandeur
which I am convinced will make his name resound through many lands!
I have known him from the time when he was almost a boy. We were both
of us born on the same island: he is from the little town of Assens. We
met in Copenhagen. No one, not even he himself, knew what lay within
him; and half in jest, half in earnest, he spoke of the combat with
himself whether he should go to America and become a savage, or to Rome
and become an artist--painter or sculptor; that he did not yet know.
His pencil was meanwhile thrown away: he modelled in clay, and my bust
was the first which he made. He received no travelling stipendium from
the Academy. As far as I know, it was a noble-minded woman, an artist
herself, unprovided with means, who, from the interest she felt for the
spark of genius she observed in him, assisted him so far that he
reached Italy by means of a trading vessel. In the beginning he worked
in Thorwaldsen's atelier. During a journey of several years, he has
doubtless experienced the struggles of genius and the galling fetters
of want; but now the star of fortune shines upon him. When I came to
Rome, I found him physically suffering and melancholy. He was unable to
bear the warm summers of Italy; and many people said he could not
recover unless he visited the north, breathed the cooler air, and took
sea-baths. His praises resounded through the papers, glorious works
stood in his atelier; but man does not live on heavenly bread alone.
There came one day a Russian Prince, I believe, and he gave a
commission for the Hunter. Two other commissions followed on the same
day. Jerichau came full of rejoicing and told this to me. A few days
after he travelled with his wife, a highly gifted painter, to Denmark,
from whence, strengthened body and soul, he returned, with the winter,
to Rome, where the strokes of his chisel will resound so that, I hope,
the world will hear them. My heart will beat joyfully with them!
I also met in Rome, Kolberg, another Danish sculptor, until now only
known in Denmark, but there very highly thought of, a scholar of
Thorwaldsen's and a favorite of that great master. He honored me by
making my bust. I also sat once more with the kindly K chler, and saw
the forms fresh as nature spread themselves over the canvas.
I sat once again with the Roman people in the amusing puppet theatre,
and heard the children's merriment. Among the German artists, as well
as among the Swedes and my own countrymen, I met with a hearty
reception. My birth-day was joyfully celebrated. Frau von Goethe, who
was in Rome, and who chanced to be living in the very house where I
brought my Improvisatore into the world, and made him spend his first
years of childhood, sent me from thence a large, true Roman bouquet, a
fragrant mosaic. The Swedish painter, S¸dermark, proposed my health to
the company whom the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians had invited me to
meet. From my friends I received some pretty pictures and friendly
The Hanoverian minister, K stner, to whose friendship I am indebted for
many pleasant hours, is an extremely agreeable man, possessed of no
small talent for poetry, music, and painting. At his house I really saw
for the first time flower-painting elevated by a poetical idea. In one
of his rooms he has introduced an arabesque of flowers which presents
us with the flora of the whole year. It commences with the first spring
flowers, the crocus, the snow drop, and so on; then come the summer
flowers, then the autumn, and at length the garland ends with the red
berries and yellow-brown leaves of December.
Constantly in motion, always striving to employ every moment and to see
everything, I felt myself at last very much affected by the unceasing
sirocco. The Roman air did not agree with me, and I hastened,
therefore, as soon as I had seen the illumination of the dome and the
_girandola_, immediately after the Easter festival, through
Terracina to Naples. Count Paar travelled with me. We entered St.
Lucia: the sea lay before us; Vesuvius blazed. Those were glorious
evenings! moonlight nights! It was as if the heavens had elevated
themselves above and the stars were withdrawn. What effect of light! In
the north the moon scatters silver over the water: here it was gold.
The circulating lanterns of the lighthouse now exhibited their dazzling
light, now were totally extinguished. The torches of the fishing-boats
threw their obelisk-formed blaze along the surface of the water, or
else the boat concealed them like a black shadow, below which the
surface of the water was illuminated. One fancied one could see to the
bottom, where fishes and plants were in motion. Along the street itself
thousands of lights were burning in the shops of the dealers in fruit
and fish. Now came a troop of children with lights, and went in
procession to the church of St. Lucia. Many fell down with their
lights; but above the whole stood, like the hero of this great drama of
light, Vesuvius with his blood-red flame and his illumined cloud of
I visited the islands of Capri and Ischia once more; and, as the heat
of the sun and the strong sirocco made a longer residence in Naples
oppressive to me, I went to Sarrento, Tasso's city, where the foliage
of the vine cast a shade, and where the air appears to me lighter. Here
I wrote these pages. In Rome, by the bay of Naples and amid the
Pyrenees, I put on paper the story of my life.
The well-known festival of the Madonna dell' Arco called me again to
Naples, where I took up my quarters at an hotel in the middle of the
city, near the Toledo Street, and found an excellent host and hostess.
I had already resided here, but only in the winter. I had now to see
Naples in its summer heat and with all its wild tumult, but in what
degree I had never imagined. The sun shone down with its burning heat
into the narrow streets, in at the balcony door. It was necessary to
shut up every place: not a breath of air stirred. Every little corner,
every spot in the street on which a shadow fell was crowded with
working handicraftsmen, who chattered loudly and merrily; the carriages
rolled past; the drivers screamed; the tumult of the people roared like
a sea in the other streets; the church bells sounded every minute; my
opposite neighbor, God knows who he was, played the musical scale from
morning till evening. It was enough to make one lose one's senses!
The sirocco blew its boiling-hot breath and I was perfectly overcome.
There was not another room to be had at St. Lucia, and the sea-bathing
seemed rather to weaken than to invigorate me. I went therefore again
into the country; but the sun burned there with the same beams; yet
still the air there was more elastic, yet for all that it was to me
like the poisoned mantle of Hercules, which, as it were, drew out of me
strength and spirit. I, who had fancied that I must be precisely a
child of the sun, so firmly did my heart always cling to the south, was
forced to acknowledge that the snow of the north was in my body, that
the snow melted, and that I was more and more miserable.
Most strangers felt as I myself did in this, as the Neapolitans
themselves said, unusually hot summer; the greater number went away. I
also would have done the same, but I was obliged to wait several days
for a letter of credit; it had arrived at the right time, but lay
forgotten in the hands of my banker. Yet there was a deal for me to see
in Naples; many houses were open to me. I tried whether the will were
not stronger than the Neapolitan heat, but I fell into such a nervous
state in consequence, that till the time of my departure I was obliged
to lie quietly in my hot room, where the night brought no coolness.
From the morning twilight to midnight roared the noise of bells, the
cry of the people, the trampling of horses on the stone pavement, and
the before-mentioned practiser of the scale--it was like being on the
rack; and this caused me to give up my journey to Spain, especially as
I was assured, for my consolation, that I should find it just as warm
there as here. The physician said that, at this season of the year, I
could not sustain the journey.
I took a berth in the steam-boat Castor for Marseilles; the vessel was
full to overflowing with passengers; the whole quarter-deck, even the
best place, was occupied by travelling carriages; under one of these I
had my bed laid; many people followed my example, and the quarter-deck
was soon covered with mattresses and carpets. It blew strongly; the
wind increased, and in the second and third night raged to a perfect
storm; the ship rolled from side to side like a cask in the open sea;
the waves dashed on the ship's side and lifted up their broad heads
above the bulwarks as if they would look in upon us. It was as if the
carriages under which we lay would crush us to pieces, or else would be
washed away by the sea. There was a lamentation, but I lay quiet,
looked up at the driving clouds, and thought upon God and my beloved.
When at length we reached Genoa most of the passengers went on land: I
should have been willing enough to have followed their example, that I
might go by Milan to Switzerland, but my letter of credit was drawn
upon Marseilles and some Spanish sea-ports. I was obliged to go again
on board. The sea was calm; the air fresh; it was the most glorious
voyage along the charming Sardinian coast. Full of strength and new
life I arrived at Marseilles, and, as I here breathed more easily, my
longing to see Spain was again renewed. I had laid the plan of seeing
this country last, as the bouquet of my journey. In the suffering state
in which I had been I was obliged to give it up, but I was now better.
I regarded it therefore as a pointing of the finger of heaven that I
should be compelled to go to Marseilles, and determined to venture upon
the journey. The steam-vessel to Barcelona had, in the meantime, just
sailed, and several days must pass before another set out. I determined
therefore to travel by short days' journeys through the south of France
across the Pyrenees.
Before leaving Marseilles, chance favored me with a short meeting with
one of my friends from the North, and this was Ole Bull! He came from
America, and was received in France with jubilees and serenades, of
which I was myself a witness. At the _table d'h te_ in the
_H tel des Empereurs_, where we both lodged, we flew towards each
other. He told me what I should have expected least of all, that my
works had also many friends in America, that people had inquired from
him about me with the greatest interest, and that the English
translations of my romances had been reprinted, and spread through the
whole country in cheap editions. My name flown over the great ocean! I
felt myself at this thought quite insignificant, but yet glad and
happy; wherefore should I, in preference to so many thousand others,
receive such happiness?
I had and still have a feeling as though I were a poor peasant lad over
whom a royal mantle is thrown. Yet I was and am made happy by all this!
Is _this_ vanity, or does it show itself in these expressions of
Ole Bull went to Algiers, I towards the Pyrenees. Through Provence,
which looked to me quite Danish, I reached Nismes, where the grandeur
of the splendid Roman amphitheatre at once carried me back to Italy.
The memorials of antiquity in the south of France I have never heard
praised as their greatness and number deserve; the so-called _Maison
Quar e_ is still standing in all its splendor, like the Theseus
Temple at Athens: Rome has nothing so well preserved.
In Nismes dwells the baker Reboul, who writes the most charming poems:
whoever may not chance to know him from these is, however, well
acquainted with him through Lamartine's Journey to the East. I found
him at the house, stepped into the bakehouse, and addressed myself to a
man in shirt sleeves who was putting bread into the oven; it was Reboul
himself! A noble countenance which expressed a manly character greeted
me. When I mentioned my name, he was courteous enough to say he was
acquainted with it through the Revue de Paris, and begged me to visit
him in the afternoon, when he should be able to entertain me better.
When I came again I found him in a little room which might be called
almost elegant, adorned with pictures, casts and books, not alone
French literature, but translations of the Greek classics. A picture on
the wall represented his most celebrated poem, "The Dying Child," from
Marmier's _Chansons du Nord_. He knew I had treated the same
subject, and I told him that this was written in my school days. If in
the morning I had found him the industrious baker, he now was the poet
completely; he spoke with animation of the literature of his country,
and expressed a wish to see the north, the scenery and intellectual
life of which seemed to interest him. With great respect I took leave
of a man whom the Muses have not meanly endowed, and who yet has good
sense enough, spite of all the homage paid him, to remain steadfast to
his honest business, and prefer being the most remarkable baker of
Nismes to losing himself in Paris, after a short triumph, among
hundreds of other poets.
By railway I now travelled by way of Montpelier to Cette, with that
rapidity which a train possesses in France; you fly there as though for
a wager with the wild huntsman. I involuntarily remembered that at
Basle, at the corner of a street where formerly the celebrated Dance of
Death was painted, there is written up in large letters "Dance of
Death," and on the opposite corner "Way to the Railroad." This singular
juxtaposition just at the frontiers of France, gives play to the fancy;
in this rushing flight it came into my thoughts; it seemed as though
the steam whistle gave the signal to the dance. On German railways one
does not have such wild fancies.
The islander loves the sea as the mountaineer loves his mountains!
Every sea-port town, however small it may be, receives in my eyes a
peculiar charm from the sea. Was it the sea, in connexion perhaps with
the Danish tongue, which sounded in my ears in two houses in Cette,
that made this town so homelike to me? I know not, but I felt more in
Denmark than in the south of France. When far from your country you
enter a house where all, from the master and mistress to the servants,
speak your own language, as was here the case, these home tones have a
real power of enchantment: like the mantle of Faust, in a moment they
transport you, house and all, into your own land. Here, however, there
was no northern summer, but the hot sun of Naples; it might even have
burnt Faust's cap. The sun's rays destroyed all strength. For many
years there had not been such a summer, even here; and from the country
round about arrived accounts of people who had died from the heat: the
very nights were hot. I was told beforehand I should be unable to bear
the journey in Spain. I felt this myself, but then Spain was to be the
bouquet of my journey. I already saw the Pyrenees; the blue mountains
enticed me--and one morning early I found myself on the steam-boat. The
sun rose higher; it burnt above, it burnt from the expanse of waters,
myriads of jelly-like medusas filled the river; it was as though the
sun's rays had changed the whole sea into a heaving world of animal
life; I had never before seen anything like it. In the Languedoc canal
we had all to get into a large boat which had been constructed more for
goods than for passengers. The deck was coveted with boxes and trunks,
and these again occupied by people who sought shade under umbrellas. It
was impossible to move; no railing surrounded this pile of boxes and
people, which was drawn along by three or four horses attached by long
ropes. Beneath in the cabins it was as crowded; people sat close to
each other, like flies in a cup of sugar. A lady who had fainted from
the heat and tobacco smoke, was carried in and laid upon the only
unoccupied spot on the floor; she was brought here for air, but here
there was none, spite of the number of fans in motion; there were no
refreshments to be had, not even a drink of water, except the warm,
yellow water which the canal afforded. Over the cabin windows hung
booted legs, which at the same time that they deprived the cabin of
light, seemed to give a substance to the oppressive air. Shut up in
this place one had also the torment of being forced to listen to a man
who was always trying to say something witty; the stream of words
played about his lips as the canal water about the boat. I made myself
a way through boxes, people, and umbrellas, and stood in a boiling hot
air; on either side the prospect was eternally the same, green grass, a
green tree, flood-gates--green grass, a green tree, flood-gates--and
then again the same; it was enough to drive one insane.
At the distance of a half-hour's journey from Beziers we were put on
land; I felt almost ready to faint, and there was no carriage here, for
the omnibus had not expected us so early; the sun burnt infernally.
People say the south of France is a portion of Paradise; under the
present circumstances it seemed to me a portion of hell with all its
heat. In Beziers the diligence was waiting, but all the best places
were already taken; and I here for the first, and I hope for the last
time, got into the hinder part of such a conveyance. An ugly woman in
slippers, and with a head-dress a yard high, which she hung up, took
her seat beside me; and now came a singing sailor who had certainly
drunk too many healths; then a couple of dirty fellows, whose first
manoeuvre was to pull off their boots and coats and sit upon them, hot
and dirty, whilst the thick clouds of dust whirled into the vehicle,
and the sun burnt and blinded me. It was impossible to endure this
farther than Narbonne; sick and suffering, I sought rest, but then came
gensdarmes and demanded my passport, and then just as night began, a
fire must needs break out in the neighboring village; the fire alarm
resounded, the fire-engines rolled along, it was just as though all
manner of tormenting spirits were let loose. From here as far as the
Pyrenees there followed repeated demands for your passport, so
wearisome that you know nothing like it even in Italy: they gave you as
a reason, the nearness to the Spanish frontiers, the number of
fugitives from thence, and several murders which had taken place in the
neighborhood: all conduced to make the journey in my then state of
health a real torment.
I reached Perpignan. The sun had here also swept the streets of people,
it was only when night came that they came forth, but then it was like
a roaring stream, as though a real tumult were about to destroy the
town. The human crowd moved in waves beneath my windows, a loud shout
resounded; it pierced through my sick frame. What was that?--what did
it mean? "Good evening, Mr. Arago!" resounded from the strongest
voices, thousands repeated it, and music sounded; it was the celebrated
Arago, who was staying in the room next to mine: the people gave him a
serenade. Now this was the third I had witnessed on my journey. Arago
addressed them from the balcony, the shouts of the people filled the
streets. There are few evenings in my life when I have felt so ill as
on this one, the tumult went through my nerves; the beautiful singing
which followed could not refresh me. Ill as I was, I gave up every
thought of travelling into Spain; I felt it would be impossible for me.
Ah, if I could only recover strength enough to reach Switzerland! I was
filled with horror at the idea of the journey back. I was advised to
hasten as quickly as possible to the Pyrenees, and there breathe the
strengthening mountain air: the baths of Vernet were recommended as
cool and excellent, and I had a letter of introduction to the head of
the establishment there. After an exhausting journey of a night and
some hours in the morning, I have reached this place, from whence I
sent these last sheets. The air is so cool, so strengthening, such as I
have not breathed for months. A few days here have entirely restored
me, my pen flies again over the paper, and my thoughts towards that
wonderful Spain. I stand like Moses and see the land before me, yet may
not tread upon it. But if God so wills it, I will at some future time
in the winter fly from the north hither into this rich beautiful land,
from which the sun with his sword of flame now holds me back.
Vernet as yet is not one of the well-known bathing places, although it
possesses the peculiarity of being visited all the year round. The most
celebrated visitor last winter was Ibrahim Pacha; his name still lives
on the lips of the hostess and waiter as the greatest glory of the
establishment; his rooms were shown first as a curiosity. Among the
anecdotes current about him is the story of his two French words,
_merci_ and _tr s bien_, which he pronounced in a perfectly
In every respect, Vernet among baths is as yet in a state of innocence;
it is only in point of great bills that the Commandant has been able to
raise it on a level with the first in Europe. As for the rest, you live
here in a solitude, and separated from the world as in no other bathing
place: for the amusement of the guests nothing in the least has been
done; this must be sought in wanderings on foot or on donkey-back among
the mountains; but here all is so peculiar and full of variety, that
the want of artificial pleasures is the less felt. It is here as though
the most opposite natural productions had been mingled together,--
northern and southern, mountain and valley vegetation. From one point
you will look over vineyards, and up to a mountain which appears a
sample card of corn fields and green meadows, where the hay stands in
cocks; from another you will only see the naked, metallic rocks with
strange crags jutting forth from them, long and narrow as though they
were broken statues or pillars; now you walk under poplar trees,
through small meadows, where the balm-mint grows, as thoroughly Danish
a production as though it were cut out of Zealand; now you stand under
shelter of the rock, where cypresses and figs spring forth among vine
leaves, and see a piece of Italy. But the soul of the whole, the pulses
which beat audibly in millions through the mountain chain, are the
springs. There is a life, a babbling in the ever-rushing waters! It
springs forth everywhere, murmurs in the moss, rushes over the great
stones. There is a movement, a life which it is impossible for words to
give; you hear a constant rushing chorus of a million strings; above
and below you, and all around, you hear the babbling of the river
High on the cliff, at the edge of a steep precipice, lie the remains of
a Moorish castle; the clouds hang where hung the balcony; the path
along which the ass now goes, leads through the hall. From here you can
enjoy the view over the whole valley, which, long and narrow, seems
like a river of trees, which winds among the red scorched rocks; and in
the middle of this green valley rises terrace-like on a hill, the
little town of Vernet, which only wants minarets to look like a
Bulgarian town. A miserable church with two long holes as windows, and
close to it a ruined tower, form the upper portion, then come the dark
brown roofs, and the dirty grey houses with opened shutters instead of