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ART. VII.-HOME LIFE IN DENMARK AND NORWAY.

Adam Homo. Et Digt af F. Paludan Müller. Tredie Udgave.

Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel. Synnöve Sölbakken, af Björnstjerne Björnson. Bergen : E. B. Gi

ertsen. Arne, af Björnstjerne Björnson. Bergen: H. J. Geelmuyden's Enke. Grossererens Familie. En Fortælling. Christiania: J. W. Cappelen. The connexion of England with Denmark and its old dependency Norway seems likely to be renewed in inore than one way. The marriage of our Crown-Prince with a lady whose family is Danish by association and interest is in itself rather matter of graceful sentiment than likely to exercise any important inHuence on our political relations. A constitutional country is pretty well guarded against dynastic entanglements. But the general feeling of satisfaction which has greeted that alliance, apart from all personal considerations, is probably something more than the mere revulsion of satiety against traditional marriages into the petty German courts. There is a sort of feeling that we are nearer kinsmen of the Scandinavian peoples than any other, and perhaps an under-current of desire to repair the wrong we did them under sore pressure in the great war. Whether or not the union of the three Northern kingdoms be ever carried into effect, their marine is none the less the next in Europe after our own, and might be wielded for or against

us with tremendous efficacy in any European complication. Even the Danish army, inconsiderable in itself and badly armed, has proved itself capable of holding Germany at bay, and of defeating the federal army in a decisive battle. Above all, the three Scandinavian kingdoms are even more entirely Protestant than England, and are quite as thoroughly the home of free institutions. For every reason, therefore, we are as much pledged to defend their independence against Russia or Germany as to hold Belgium against France; and personally we could better afford to give up Constantinople to any third power than Christiania to the Czar, or even Copenhagen to Germany. It is fortunate that our interests in this direction are not exposed to any more serious danger than a few protocols from Frankfort on the Slesvig-Holstein difficulty.

Putting aside all questions of advantage, there is much to interest Englishmen in Denmark and Norway. We class the two countries together because they are one by language and historical tradition ; while Sweden has always, till lately, been a separate and even a hostile country. The very names “ Dane" and “Norseman" are almost identical with “conqueror” in English apprehension; and it is difficult to wander through the old Angeln, and see the rich meadow-land (eng) like Lincolnshire and Leicestershire, without fancying that our own country derived its name from the home-associations of the invaders, as well as from their tribe-name. A people whose features seem kindred to him, a language not stranger than the Yorkshire dialect, English names, English tricks of manner, even English dress and cookery, combine to force upon the traveller the conviction that common blood in the two nations asserts its own through all distance of time and interval of space. One great difference between them lies in the mixed origin which we inherit from the different vanguards of Keltic, Germanic, Roman, and Norse colonies ; so that half-a-dozen different types may be noticed by the most careless observer in any group of Oxford undergraduates; while the students of Christiania look almost like a family circle, with scarcely even a brevet of provincial origin. The other most fruitful source of difference between an Englishman and a Dane or Norwegian is in the fact that our own language and civilisation has drawn more from France than from any other country; while Denmark and its old province have been effectually Germanised through the manifold relations of neighbourhood, commerce, and a German dynasty. Hence the peasant-dialect in Norway contains many words which puzzle any educated countryman, while an Englishman recognises them as household or provincial terms in his own country. But national character is more durable than speech, and in almost every point where the Dane differs from the German he gravitates unconsciously but surely towards England. It would be impossible, we believe, to find a German parallel to the plays of Holberg; but cleverly adapted into English, they might almost be mistaken for the works of some unknown contemporary of Congreve and Vanbrugh. Again: taking modern literature, the novel-reading public of Germany appears distinctly to prefer the literature of intrigue and passion-books like Goethe's Elective Affinities, like Bulwer's earlier novels, like the French school of George Sand or of Dumas filsto the literature of still life or mere adventure, to George Eliot's or Sir Walter Scott's novels. But it is precisely these

latter that are most popular in Scandinavia, and with whom Miss Bremer, Andersen, and Björnson have most affinity.

The first book we have put at the head of our article would deserve notice under any circumstances, as a poem that has gone through three editions in a country with a smaller reading-public than Scotland, and is especially remarkable for its admirable pictures of home life in Denmark. The author,

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Frederik Paludan Müller (born 1809), is mentioned by Andersen, in his autobiography, as a fellow-student, who proposed starting a weekly journal in connexion with him. Andersen rejected the proposal, perhaps a little contemptuously, and in three or four years' time saw himself overshadowed by his rival's growing reputation. In fact, to this day, Andersen is chiefly sustained among his countrymen by court-favour and European prestige, while Paludan Müller is valued as a national classic. The poem which established his reputation, The Danseuse, is little more than a graceful story of a ballet-dancer who, having maintained an unspotted character, becomes entangled in a connexion with a young man of good family, is ruined, and dies of grief when her lover falls in a duel. But Adam Homo, the poem with which Müller's name is likely to be permanently associated, takes a wider and higher flight. It is an epic of home life, so to speak. Adam Homo, as his name implies, is the typical man of the nineteenth century, and his life, from childhood upwards, even to beyond the grave, includes a cycle of social experiences in Denmark. Naturally the subject does not admit of heroic treatment. The metre and style, modelled on the mock-Spenserian, which Wieland naturalised in Germany, and Frere and Byron in England, lend themselves to the tragi-comedy of a life in which the hero's aspirations and success are always above his character. More ambitious efforts, in the shape of detached pieces, love-sonnets, bacchanalian improvisations, and religious odes, are freely interwoven ; but, to a foreigner at least, they are of inferior interest. In fact, by ordinary rules of criticism, Paludan Müller is not a poet of the first order, perhaps not even high in the second class. He wants the thoughts that burn and words that glow; the strength of passion, no less than the terseness and concentration of epigram; and it would be difficult to give an instance of so long, and on the whole so successful, a poem in which so few individual lines deserve to be remembered. Nevertheless, we believe he was fully justified in taking ground as a poet rather than a novelist. His plot is too fantastic for prose, which always lends itself by preference to probabilities; his characters are clearly conceived and clearly rendered, with real dramatic insight, though with some profusion of detail; and there is a mixture of playful fancy and tenderness in his style, a something womanly, which is best wedded to verse. It is a little gain, too, that the most fluent verse-maker cannot expand into mere upholstery-painting or didactic philosophy, with the reckless command of space which the novelist wields. Les Misérables in verse would certainly have been shorter by six volumes.

Adam Homo opens his eyes upon life in a country manse

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in Jutland. His father, Parson Peter Homo, is a man with some cleverness, much good-meaning, and a quick eye to his own interest; further, a rationalist " who clips his text according to his means, but yet contrives to keep his Christian faith.” There is a more ideal element in the mother-a small delicate woman, who prays and loves where her husband schemes and philosophises. The christening time happens to fall at Christmas, when the country is as full of happy family circles as England itself could be. • Is there," the poet asks,

"a thing so native to the soil,
With so much pleasant mirth, so small mischances,
As Yule-tide meetings in our country manses !
From every quarter swells the gathering number
Whom pleasant memories draw to one small spot :
There's heart-room and to spare for all who cumber
The little hall, if house-room there be not;
Six in a single garret meet to slumber,
Two in a bed is no unfrequent lot;
If all the sheets are clean, well-air'd, and pressed,

The vicar's wife is careless of the rest." Other little features of country life are cleverly etched in. We are introduced, one by one, to the curious blushing girls who cluster in the windows to see their brother's friends from college arrive; to the Babel of happy talkers, who exchange small jokes and small politics over their pipes; to the morningparties with horses and dogs; to the two students who stay behind to talk æsthetics with the young ladies in the morningroom; to the evening dances in the neighbouring vicarages, which include “every educated miller, every genteel bailiff;" and we are allowed to see at the end the natural termination of æsthetic conversations and country-dances in a betrothal. It is all English life of a century ago, when the divisions of ranks below the highest were a little less marked, and when Peter Homo might have shaken hands with the Vicar of Wakefield. But we are removed to the more recent century by a clerical conversation, after the christening party, on the text, “ He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; . . . he that believeth not shall be damned.” Parson Jeremias Top is “high and dry,” and feels assured that all the unbaptised will escheat to the devil; but he holds it on a genteel principle of social selection, quite as much as from any doctrinal conviction : he “ will not give a thank-you for a heaven which lets in all his neighbours indiscriminately;" and though he will not affirm David to be damned, he pronounces with a sigh that he is not saved. Parson Flint, a clear, cold, logical man, with a dangerous liking for Strauss, protests energetically in favour of universal salvation, but damages his cause with his brethren by admitting in condence that he thinks Christianity goes back to a mythical origin, that he walks by sight rather than by faith, and that “ the cow which was full of faith in the grass died while it was growing.” Homo tries to mediate with a comparison of Christianity to corn, which requires sifting and bolting to be made food; and the Provost Holm, who seems to answer to an English dean, ends the controversy by a vigorous comparison of Parson Top to a Pharisee, and Parson Flint to an unrepentant publican. He himself “spits on their critical and mythical theories," declares that he will not add to or take from the written Word, and hopes his audience may live to learn that they are all in the wrong: On the whole, we come away with the impression, which other passages in the poem confirm, that Denmark, like England, has its own little troubles of religious speculation, and that there are leaders of every division in the clerical camp.

Fortunately for himself our hero is not destined to be brought up a schoolman in petticoats. Parson Homo's animal nature is deeper and healthier than his intellectual, and the young Adam receives the training of an English Tom Brown, bird's-nesting, leaping, and running,—and passes through youth with no more eventful mischances than a precocious passion at nine years old for the clerk's daughter Hanne, and one at fourteen, a little less moral, for his pretty landlady, or “dame," as an Etonian would call her. Neither is his student-life at Copenhagen very important as a sketch of manners. The only part of it with any incident is the interval of dissipation; and the fast life of a boy under twenty appears to be as dreary in Copenhagen as elsewhere. But when he has passed his second examination with credit, he looks about him for some means of money-making to replenish his purse, exhausted by late extravagances, and is taken as day-tutor into the family of Count de Fix. Fortune favours him with a pretty pupil in the shape of the count's daughter Clara, who accompanies her brothers to the school-room; and the young lady is soon aware that she has an admirer, and is well inclined to play Héloise to his Abelard. As the mother is conveniently absent from the lessons, and the two brothers are fraternally slow of perception, " the old, old story” is worked out with all the quaint incident of a pedagogic romance. The girl of sixteen is of course an expert where her tutor, four years older, is a novice and bungler, in spite of his boyish experiences, which he has never properly appreciated. Sometimes she is the ingénue who blushes to hear the vestals spoken of; sometimes the enthusiast, carried away by Cleopatra's story; sometimes she defends Catiline, or jokes at “old Cicero;” and presently she relapses into the count's

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