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they had not wherewithal to purchase a bedstead, There surely went out of the world something or at least thought it advisable to make shift by still undeveloped in that poor shoemaker. At a constructing one out of the wooden tressels which, subsequent period of the history we find him fairly a little time before, had supported the coffin of abandoning his unchosen trade. The name of some neighboring count as he lay in state. It still Napoleon resounded even in Odense-even in retained a part of the black cloth, and some of the Odense could find a heart that is disquieted. He funeral ornaments attached to it, when in the year would follow the banner of him who had “ opened 1605 there lay upon it, not in any peculiar state, a career to all the talents.” But the regiment in the solitary fruit of their marriage the little Hans which he enlisted got no further than Holstein. Christian Andersen. He was a crying infant, and Peace was concluded; he had to return to his nawhen carried to the baptismal font, sorely vexed tive place, and fall back as well as he could into the parson with his outcries. “ Your young one the old routine. His march to Holstein had, howscreains like a cat !” said the reverend official. ever, shaken his health, and he died shortly after The mother was hurt at this reflection upon her his return. offspring ; but a prophetic god-papa, who stood “I was,” says our author, “ the only child, by, consoled her by saying, “ that the louder he and was extremely spoilt ; but I continually heard cried when a child, all the more beautifully would my mother say how very much happier I was than hê sing when he grew older."
she had been, and that I was brought up like a Those who are disposed to trace a hereditary nobleman's child.” No nobleman's child could, descent in mental qualifications, will find an in- at all events, be brought up with less restraint, or stance to their purpose in the case of Andersen. more completely left to his own fancies. His mother, we are told, was utterly ignorant of were his parents, he never felt want : he had no books and of the world, “but possessed a heart care ; he was fed and clothed without any thought full of love !" From her he may be said to have on his part; he lived his own dreamy life, nourderived a singular frankness and amiability of dis- ished by scraps of plays, songs, and all manner of position-a fond, open, affectionate temper. For traditionary stories. There was a theatre at the more intellectual qualities, by which this Odense, and young Andersen was now and then temper, through the medium of authorship, was to taken to it by his parents. He himself constructed become patent to the world, he must have been a puppet-show, and the dressing and drilling of indebted to his father. This poor and hapless his dolls was for a long time the chief occupation shoemaker (such was his trade) seems to have of his life. As he could rarely go to the theatre, been a singular person. To use a favorite phrase he made friends with the man who sold the playof Napoleon, “ He had missed his destiny." His bills, who was charitable enough to give him one. parents had been country people of some substance, With this upon his knee, he would sit apart and buit misfortune falling upon misfortune had reduced construct a play for himself ; putting the dramatis them to poverty. Finally, the father had become persone into movement as well he could, and at all insane; the mother had been glad to obtain a events despatching them all at the close ; for he menial situation in the very asylum where her hus- had no idea, he tells us, of a tragedy “ that had band was confined ; and there was nothing better not plenty of dying." to be done for the son than to apprentice him to a Of what is commonly called education he had shoemaker. Some talk there was amongst the little enough. He was sent to a charity-school, neighbors of raising a subscription to send him to where, by a somewhat startling error of the press, the grammar-school, and thus give him a start in Mrs. Howitt is made to say " he learned only relife; but it never went beyond talk. A shoe-ligion, writing, and arithmetic.” Of the reading, maker he became. But to the leather and the writing, and arithmetic there taught, he seemed last he never took kindly. He would read what to have gained little ; certainly the writing and books he could get—Holberg's plays and the Bible the arithmetic went on very slowly. To make —and ponder over them. At first he would make amends, he used to present his master on his birthhis wife a sharer in his reflections, but as she, day with a poem and a garland. Both the wreath good woman, never understood a word of what he and the verses seemed to have been but churlishly said, he learned to meditate in silence. On Sun- received, and the last time they were offered he days he would go out into the woods, accompanied got scolded for his pains. only by his child ; then he would sit down, sunk It would be difficult, kowever, to conceive of a in abstraction and solitary thought, while young life more suitable to the fostering of the imaginaHans gathered flowers or wild strawberries. “I tion than that which little Hans was leading. Be recollect,” says the son, in his Autobiography, sides the play-house, and the scraps of dramas read “that once, as a child, I saw tears in his eyes; to him by his father, himself a strange and dreamy and it was when a youth from the grammar-schoolman, we catch sight of an old grandmother, she came to our house to be measured for a new pair who resided in the lunatic asylum where her husof boots, and showed us his books, and told us band was eonfined. Young Hans was oocasionally what he learned, “That was the path on which I permitted to visit her; and here he was a great ought to have gone !' said my father ; he kissed favorite with certain old crones, who told him many me passionately, and was silent the whole even- a marvellous and terrible story. These stories. ing."
and the insane figures whieh he caught sight of
around him, operated, he tells us, so powerfully We must relate his going forth in his own upon his imagination that when it grew dark he words. Never, surely, on the part of all the actors scarcely dared to go out of the house. His own in it, was there a scene of such singular simmother was extremely superstitious. When her plicity. husband was dying, she sent her son, not to the doctor, but to a wise-woman, who, after measuring order that I might be apprenticed to the tailor trade,
“My mother said that I must be confirmed, in the boy's arm with a woollen thread, and perform
and thus do something rational. She loved me ing some other ceremonies, bade him go home by with her whole heart, but she did not understand the river side, “ and if he did not see the ghost of my impulses and my endeavors, nor, indeed, at that his father, he was to be sure that he would not die time did I myself. The people about her always this time.” He did not see the ghost of his spoke against my odd ways, and turned me into father—which, considering all things, was rather ridicule. (They only saw the ugly duckling in the surprising; but his father died nevertheless. young swan.) After the death of her husband, the mother of the candidates for confirmation could either enter
“We belonged to the parish of St. Knud, and Andersen found another object for her affections, their names with the provost or with the chaplain. for that “heart so full of love." She married The children of the so-called superior families, and again. But the stepfather was “a grave young the scholars of the grammar-school, went to the man, who would have nothing to do with Hans first, and the children of the poor to the second. I, Christian's education ;” refused, we presume, all however, announced myself as a candidate to the responsibility on so delicate a business. He was provost, who was obliged to receive me, although
he discovered vanity in my placing myself among still left to himself. He had now grown a tall his catechists, where, although taking the lowest lad, with long yellow hair, which the sun probably place, I was still above those who were under the had assisted to dye, as he was accustomed to go care of the chaplain. I would, however, hope that bare-headed. He continued to amuse himself with it was not alone vanity that impelled me. I had a dressing his theatrical puppets. His mother recon- sort of fear of the poor boys, who had laughed at ciled herself to the occupation, as it formed, she me, and I always felt as it were an inward drawing thought , no bad introduction to the trade of a tailor, I regarded as far better than other boys. When I
towards the scholars of the grammar-school, whom to which she now destined him. On the other saw them playing in the church-yard, I would stand hand, Hans partly reconciled himself to the idea outside the railings, and wish that I were but among of being a tailor, because he should then have the fortunate ones—not for the sake of the play, but plenty of cloth, of all colors, for his puppets. for the many books they had, and for what they Meanwhile it was to a very different trade or des might be able to become in the world. tiny that these puppets were conducting him.
“An old female tailor altered my deceased father's About this time, not for the money, said the groatcoat into a confirmation suit for me ; never be
fore had I worn so good a coat. I had also, for the warm-hearted mother, but that the lad, like the first time in my life, a pair of boots. My delight rest of the world, might be doing something, Hans was extremely great; my only fear was that everywas sent, for a short interval, to a cloth factory. body would not see them, and therefore I drew But it was fated that he should never work. He them up over my trousers, and thus marched through had a beautiful voice, and could sing. The people the church. The boots creaked, and that inwardly at the factory asked him to sing.
pleased me, for thus the congregation would hear and all the looms stood still.” He had to sing turbed. I was aware of it, and it caused me a hor
that they were new. My whole devotion was disagain and again, whilst the other boys had his rible pang of conscience that my thoughts should work given them to do. He was not long, how- be as much with my new boots as with God. I ever, at the factory. The coarse jests and behavior prayed him earnestly' from my heart to forgive me, of its inmates drove out the shy and solitary boy. and then again I thought upon my new boots. And now came the crisis. He would
forth During the last year I had saved together a into the world. He would be famous. All his
little sum of money. When I counted it over, I
found it to be thirteen rix-dollars banco (about thirty early aspirations for distinction and celebrity had shillings.) I was quite overjoyed at the possession become, as might be expected, associated with the of so much wealth; and as my mother now most theatre. But as yet he had not the least idea in resolutely required that I should be apprenticed to what department he was to excel-whether as a tailor, I prayed and besought her that I might actor, or poet, dancer or singer--or rather, he seems make a journey to Copenhagen, that I might see to have thought himself capable of success in them the greatest city in the world. all. The passion for fame, or rather for distinc
"What wilt thou do there?' asked my mother. tion, had been awakened before the passion for any told her all that I had read about extraordinary men.
"I will become famous,' returned I ; and then particular art. All he knew was, that he was to · People have,' said I, at first an immense deal of be a celebrated man ; by what sort of labor, what adversity to go through, and then they will be fakind of performance, he had no conception. In-mous.' deed, the remarkable performance, the work to be “It was a wholly unintelligible impulse that done, was not the most essential thing in his cal guided nie. I wept and prayed, and ai last my culation. “People suffer a deal of adversity, and mother consented, after having first sent for a sothen they become famous.” It was thus he ex- might read my future fortune by the coffee-grounds
called wise-woman out of the hospital, that she plained the matter to himself. He was on the and cards. right road, at all events, for the adversity,
66. Your son will become a great man!' said the
“ He began,
old woman ; 'and in honor of him all Odense will | himself as an actor-proceeding, quite as a matter one day be illuminated.' “ My mother wept when she heard that, and I
of course, to the manager of a theatre to ask for obtained permission to travel.”—(p. 27.)
an engagement. The manager was facetious
said he was “ too thin for the theatre.” Hans So, at the age of fourteen, with thirty shillings would be facetious too. “Oh," he replied, " if in his pocket, and his idea of becoming famous you will but engage me at one hundred rix-dolby going through a deal of adversity, he comes to lars banco salary, I shall soon get fat.” Then Copenhagen—the Paris, the more than the Paris the manager looked grave, and bade him go his of Denmark, for, in respect to all that a great town way, adding, that he engaged only people of educollects or fosters, Copenhagen is literally Den- cation. mark. There never was a stranger history than this But he had many strings to his bow—he could of young Andersen's. It is more like a dream than sing. It was at the opera evidently that he was a life ; it is like one of his own tales for children, destined to become famous. Here he met with where the rigid laws of probability are dispensed what, for a moment, looked like success. A voice with in favor of a quite free and rapid invention. he certainly possessed, though uncultivated, and The theatre is his point of attraction ; but he was Seboni, the director of the Academy of Music, by no means determined in what department, or promised to procure instruction for him. But a under what form, his universal genius shall make short time afterwards he lost his voice, through its appearance.
He will first try dancing. He insufficient clothing, as he thinks, and bad shoe had heard of a celebrated danseuse, a Madame leather. (Those boots could not be new always Schall
. To her he goes with a letter of intro- —doubtless got sadly worn tramping through the duction, which he had coaxed out of an old printer streets of Copenhagen.) Seboni dropped his proin Odense, who, though he protested he did not tégé, counselled him to go back to Odense, and know the lady, was still prevailed upon to write learn a trade. the letter. Dressed in his confirmation suit, a As well learn a trade in Copenhagen, if it was broad hat upon his head, his boots, we may be to come to that. He still stayed in the capital, sure, not forgotten, which were worn, however, and still lingered round the theatre, sometimes this time under the trousers, he finds out the resi- getting a lesson in recitation, sometimes one in dence of Madame Schall, rings at the bell, and is dancing, and overjoyed if only as one of a crowd admitted. "She looked at me with great amaze- of masked people he could stand before the scenes. ment,” writes our author, “ and then heard what There never surely was so irrepressible a vanity I had to say. She had not the slightest knowl- combined with so sensitive a temperament; never edge of him from whom the letter came, and my so strong an impulse for distinction accompanied whole appearance and behavior seemed very with such vague notions of the means to attain it. strange to her. I confessed to her my heartfelt At this period of his life his utter childishness, his inclination for the theatre; and upon her asking affectionate simplicity, his superstition, his unconme what character I thought I could represent, I querable vanity, present a picture quite unexreplied Cinderella. This piece had been performed ampled in all biographies we have ever read. He in Odense by the royal company, and the princi- was to make a bargain with an old woman (no pal character had so taken my fancy, that I could better than she should be) for his board and lodgplay the part perfectly from memory. In the ing. She had left the room for a short time; mean time I asked her permission to take off my there was in it a portrait of her deceased husband. boots, otherwise I was not light enough for this “ I was so much a child,” he says, that, as the character; and then, taking up my broad hat for tears rolled down my own cheeks, I wetted the a tambourine, I began to dance and sing
eyes of the portrait with my tears, in order that
the dead man might feel how troubled I was, and • Here below nor rank nor riches
influence the heart of his wife." Are exempt from pain and woe.'
Great as his susceptibility to ridicule, his vanity My strange gestures and my great activity caused is always greater, can surmount it, and find a the lady to think me out of my mind, and she lost gratification where a sterner nature would have no time in getting rid of me."
felt only mortification. In a scene of an opera We should think so. Only imagine some wild where a crowd is to be represented, he edges colt of a boy, one of those young Savoyards, for himself upon the stage. He is very conscious of instance, who are in the habit of dancing round the ill condition of his attire : the confirmation the organ they are grinding, apparently to con- coat did but just hold together; and he did not vince the world how sprightly the tune is—imagine dare to hold himself upright lest he should exhibit a genius of this natural description introducing the more plainly the shortness of the waistcoat himself into the drawing-room of a Taglioni or an which he had outgrown. He had the feeling very Elssler, and commencing forthwith, "with great plainly that people would be making themselves activity,” to give a specimen of his talent! Just merry with him; yet at this moment, he says, such as this must have been the part which young “ he felt nothing but the happiness of stepping for Andersen performed in the saloon of Madame the first time before the foot-lamps." Schall.
Of his superstition he records the following As the dancing does not succeed, he next offers amusing instance. “I had the notion that as it
went with me on New Year's day, so would it was persevering, and passed through the school, go with me through the whole year; and my and afterwards the college, not discreditably. In highest wishes were to obtain a part in a play. It 1829, he was launched again into the world, a was now New Year's day. The theatre was member of the educated class of society. closed, and only a half-blind porter sat at the After supporting himself some time by his pen, entrance to the stage, on which there was not a he received from his government a stipend for soul. I stole past him with a beating heart, got travelling, which, it appears, in Denmark is between the movable scenes and the curtain, and bestowed on young poets as well as artists. And advanced to the open part of the stage. Here I now he started on his travels—evidently the best fell down upon my knees, but not a single verse school of education for a mind like his. For for declamation could I recall to my memory. I whatever use books may have been of to Anderthen said aloud the Lord's Prayer. I went out son, in teaching him to write, they have had nothwith the persuasion that, because I had spoken ing to do with teaching him to think. No one from the stage on New Year's day, I should, in portion of his writings of any value can be traced the course of the year, succeed in speaking still to his acquaintance with books. What knowl more, as well as in having a part assigned to me. edge he got from this source he could never rightly -(p. 50.)
What his eye saw, what his heart felt We must quote the paragraph that immediately that alone he could work with. The slowly won follows this extract, because it shows that, after reflection, the linked thought-anything like a all, there was something better stirring at his train of reasoning, seems to have been an utter ..eart than this vague theatrical ambition, this stranger to his mind. Throughout his life, he is empty vanity. There was the love of nature an observant child. From books he can gather there. “During the two years of my residence nothing ; severe analytic thinking he knows notha Copenhagen, I had never been out into the ing of; he must see the world, must hear people open country. Once only had I been in the park, talk, must remember how his own heart beat, and and there I had been deeply engrossed by study- thuş only can he find something for utterance. ing the diversions of the people and their gay What a change now in his destiny! The poor tumult. In the spring of the third year, I went shoemaker's child, that wandered wild in the out for the first time amid the verdure of a spring woods of Odense, and afterwards wandered almost morning. I stood still suddenly under the first as wild and as solitary in the streets of Copenhagen large budding beech-tree. The sun made the —who was next imprisoned in a school with dioleaves transparent—there was a fragrance, a fresh- tionary and grammar-is now free again-may ress—the birds sang. I was overcome by it-I wander with wilder range of vision—is a traveller shouted aloud for joy, threw my arms around the —and in Italy ! But the sensitive temper of tree, and kissed it. "Is he mad?' said a man Andersen, we are afraid, hardly permitted him to close behind me."
enjoy, as he might have done, his full cup of hapHis good fortune provided him at length with a piness. Vanity is an unquiet companion; he sincere and serviceable friend in the person of should have left it behind him at home; then the Collins-conference-councillor, as his title runs, little piece of malice which he records of one of and one of the most influential men at that time in his friends would not have disturbed him as it Denmark. Through his means a grant was appears to have done. obtained from the royal purse, and access procured “During my journey to Paris, and the whole to something like regular education in the gram- month that I spent there, I heard not a single mar-school at Slagelse. His place in the school word from home. Could it be that my friends was in the lowest class amongst little boys. He had nothing agreeable to tell me? At length, knew indeed nothing at all-nothing of what is however, a letter arrived; a large letter, which taught by the pedagogue. At the age of eighteen, cost a large sum in postage. My heart beat with after having written a tragedy, which had been joy, and yearning impatience ; it was indeed my submitted to the theatre at Copenhagen, and we first letter. I opened it, but I discovered not a know not what poems besides-after having ver- single written word-nothing but'a Copenhagen sified a dance, and recited a song, he begins at the newspaper, containing a lampoon upon me, and very beginning, and seats himself down in the low- that was sent to me all that distance with postage est form of a grammar-school.
unpaid, probably by the anonymous writer himself. It is not our intention to pursne the biography This abominable malice wounded me deeply. I of Anderson beyond what is necessary for under- have never discovered who the author was ; perstanding the singular circumstances in which his haps he was one of those who afterwards called mind grew up ; we shall not, therefore, detain our me friend, and pressed my hand. Some men have readers much longer on this part of our subject. base thoughts ; I also have mine." His scholastic progress appears to have been at Poor Andersen has all his life long been sorely first slow and painful; the rector of the grammar- plagued by his critics. Those who peruse his school behaved neither kindly nor generously Autobiography to the chose, and every part of it is towards him ; and on him he afterwards took his worth reading, will find him in violent ill humor revenge in the character of Habas Dahdah, in with the theatrical public, whom he describes as “ The Improvisatore." But he was docile, he taking a malicious and diabolical pleasure in
damning plays. To hiss down a piece, he de- use he makes of the materials which his own life clares, is one of the chief amusements that fill the and travels afforded him, we could wish that he house. “Five minutes is the usual time, and the had never attempted to employ any other. Throughwhistles resound, and the lovely women smile and out his novels, whenever he departs from these, felicitate themselves like the Spanish ladies at their he is either common-place or extravagant—or both bloody bull-fights.” His second journey into Italy together, which, in our days, is very possible. If seems to have been in part occasioned by some he imitates other writers, it is always their worst quarrel with the theatre. "If I would represent manner that he contrives to seize ; if he adopts the this portion of my life more clearly and reflectively, worn-out resources of preceding novelists, it is it would require me to penetrate into the mysteries always (and in this he may be doing good service) of the theatre, to analyze our æsthetic cliques, and to render them still more palpably absurd and to drag into conspicuous notice many individuals ridiculous than they were before. He has dreams who do not belong to publicity ; many persons in in plenty—his heroes are always dreaming; he my place would, like me, have fallen ill, or would has fevered descriptions of the over-excited imagihave resented it vehemently. Perhaps the latter nation-a very favorite resource of modern novelwould have been the most sensible.”
ists; he has his moral enigmas; and of course he Oh, no! Hans Christian-by no means the most has a witch (Fulvia) who tells fortunes and reads sensible. Better even to have fallen ill. An futurity, and reads it correctly, let philosophy or author by his quarrel with the public, whether the common sense say what it will. His Fulvia reading or theatrical public, can gain nothing for affords his readers one gratification ; they find her himself but added torment. The more vehemently fairly hanged at the end of the book. he contests and resents, the louder is the laugh We are far enough from attempting to give an against him. Whether the right is upon his side, outline of the story of this or any other noveltime alone can show; time alone can redress his such skeletons are not attractive ; but the extracts, wrongs. When the poet has written his best, he and the observations we have to make, will best has done all his part. If he cannot feel perfectly be understood by entering a few steps into the nartranquil as to the result, let him at least affect rative. tranquillity—let him be silent, and silence will soon Antonio, the Improvisatore is born in Rome of bring that peace it typifies.
poor parents. He is introduced to us as a child, Henceforward, however, upon the whole, the living with his fond mother, his only surviving pacareer of Andersen is prosperous, and his life rent, in a room, or rather a loft, in the roof of a genial. We find him in friendly intercourse with house. She is accidentally run over and killed by the best spirits of the age. The lad who walked a nobleman's carriage. A certain uncle Peppo, a about Odense with long yellow locks, bare-headed, cripple and a beggar, claims guardianship of the and bare-footed, and who was half reconciled to orphan. Of this Peppo we have a most unamiable being a tailor's apprentice, because he should get portrait. His withered legs are fastened to a plenty of remnants to dress his puppets with—is board, and he shuffles himself along with his hands, seen spending the evening with the royal family which were armed with a pair of wooden handof Denmark, or dining with the King of Prussia, clogs. He used to sit upon the steps of the Piwho decorates him with his order of the Red azza de Spagna. “Once I was witness," says Eagle! He has exemplified his text—"people the Improvisatore, who tells his own story, “of a have a deal of adversity to go through, and then scene which awoke in me fear of him, and also they become famous.”
exhibited his own disposition. Upon one of the Those who have read “ The Improvisatore,” lowest flights of stairs sat an old blind beggar, and the most ambitious of the works of Andersen, and rattled with his little leaden box that people might by far the most meritorious of his novels, will now drop a bajocco therein. Many people passed by directly recognize the materials of which it has my uncle without noticing his crafty smile and the been constructed. His own early career, and his waivings of his hat; the blind man gained more travels into Italy, have been woven together in the by his silence—they gave to him. Three had story of Antonio. So far from censuring hirn— gone by, and now came the fourth, and threw him as some of his Copenhagen critics appear to have a small coin. Peppo could no longer contain himdone—for describing himself and the scenes he self; I saw how he crept down like a snake, and beheld, we are only surprised when we read struck the blind man in his face, so that he lost “ The True Story of his Life,” that he has not both money and stick. • Thou thief!' cried my been able to employ in a still more striking man- uncle, 'wilt thou steal money from me—thou who ner, the experience of his singular career. But, art not even a regular cripple—cannot see—that is as we have already observed, he betrays no habit all! And so he will take my bread from my or power of mental analysis; he has not that mouth.': introspection which, in the phrase of our poet On great occasions Peppo could quit his board Daniel, “ raises a man above himself," so that and straddle upon an ass. And now he came Andersen could contemplate Andersen, and com- upon his ass, set Antonio before him, and carried bine the impartial scrutiny of a spectator with the him off to his own home or den. The boy was thorough knowledge which self can only have of put into a small recess contiguous to the apartment Belf. So far from censuring him for the frequent which his uncle occupied with some of his guests,