LIBRARY OF THE
WORLD'S BEST LITERATURE
ANCIENT AND MODERN
CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER
HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE
LUCIA GILBERT RUNKLE
GEORGE HENRY WARNER
THE ADVISORY COUNCIL
CRAWFORD H. TOY, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Hebrew, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, Mass.
THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY, LL.D., L.H.D., Professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School of YALE UNIVERSITY, New Haven, Conn.
WILLIAM M. SLOANE, PH.D., L.H.D., Professor of History and Political Science, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Princeton, N.J.
BRANDER MATTHEWS, A.M., LL.B., Professor of Literature, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, New York City.
JAMES B. ANGELL, LL.D., President of the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, Mich.
WILLARD FISKE, A.M., PH.D., Late Professor of the Germanic and Scandinavian Languages and Literatures, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Ithaca, N.Y.
EDWARD S. HOLDEN, A.M., LL.D., Director of the Lick Observatory, and Astronomer, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Berkeley, Cal.
ALCEE FORTIER, LIT.D., Professor of the Romance Languages, TULANE UNIVERSITY, New Orleans, La.
WILLIAM P. TRENT, M.A., Dean of the Department of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and History, UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH, Sewanee, Tenn.
PAUL SHOREY, PH.D., Professor of Greek and Latin Literature, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Chicago, Ill.
WILLIAM T. HARRIS, LL.D., United States Commissioner of Education, BUREAU OF EDUCATION, Washington, D.C.
MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Literature in the CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIVED HENRI FREDERIC AMIEL—Continued: 1821-1881 Self-interest Woman's ideal the Community's Fate Wagner's Music French Self-Consciousness Secret of Remaining Young Frivolous Art Results of Equality Critical Ideals View-Points of History The Best Art Introspection and Schopenhauer The True Critic Music and the Imagination Spring—Universal Religion Love and the Sexes Introspective Meditations Fundamentals of Religion Destiny (just before death) Dangers from Decay of Earnestness
ANACREON B.C. 562?-477 Drinking The Grasshopper Age The Swallow The Epicure The Poet's Choice Gold Drinking A Lover's Sigh
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (by Benjamin W. Wells) 1805-1875 The Steadfast Tin Soldier What the Moon Saw The Teapot The Lovers The Ugly Duckling The Snow Queen The Nightingale The Market Place and the Andersen Jubilee at Odense ('The Story of My Life') 'Miserere' in the Sixtine Chapel ('The Improvisatore')
ANEURIN Sixth Century The Slaying of Owain The Fate of Hoel, Son of the Great Cian The Giant Gwrveling Falls at Last
ANGLO-SAXON LITERATURE (by Robert Sharp) From 'Beowulf' The Fortunes of Men Deor's Lament From 'Judith' From 'The Wanderer' The Fight at Maldon The Seafarer Caedmon's Inspiration From the 'Chronicle'
GABRIELE D'ANNUNZIO 1864- The Drowned Boy ('The Triumph of Death') To an Impromptu of Chopin (same) India
ANTAR (by Edward S. Holden) About 550-615 The Valor of Antar
LUCIUS APULEIUS Second Century The Tale of Aristomenes, the Commercial Traveler ('The Metamorphoses') The Awakening of Cupid (same)
THOMAS AQUINAS (by Edwin A. Pace) 1226-1274 On the Value of Our Concepts of the Deity ('Summa Theologica') How Can the Absolute Be a Cause? ('Quaestiones Disputatae') On the Production of Living Things (same)
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (by Richard Gottheil) From 'The Story of the City of Brass' (Lane's Translation) From 'The History of King Omar Ben Ennuman, and His Sons Sherkan and Zoulmekan' (Payne's Translation) From 'Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman' (Burton's Translation) Conclusion of 'The Thousand Nights and a Night' (Burton's Translation)
ARABIC LITERATURE (by Richard Gottheil) Imr-al-Kais: Description of a Mountain Storm Zuheir: Lament for the Destruction of his Former Home Tarafah ibn al-'Abd: Rebuke to a Mischief-Maker Labid: Lament for the Afflictions of his Tribe Antar: A Fair Lady Duraid, son of as-Simmah: The Death of 'Abdallah Ash-Shanfara of Azd: A Picture of Womanhood 'Umar ibn Rabi'a: Zeynab at the Ka'bah 'Umar ibn Rabi'a: The Unveiled Maid Al-Nabighah: Eulogy of the Men of Ghassan Nusaib: The Slave-Mother Sold Al-Find: Vengeance Ibrahim, Son of Kunaif: Patience Abu Sakhr: A Lost Love Abu l'Ata of Sind: An Address to the Beloved Ja'far ibn 'Ulbah: A Foray Katari ibn al-Fuja'ah: Fatality Al-Fadi ibn al-Abbas: Implacability Hittan ibn al-Mu'alla: Parental Affection Sa'd, son of Malik: A Tribesman's Valor From Sale's Koran:—Chapter xxxv.: "The Creator"; Chapter lv.: "The Merciful"; Chapter lxxxiv.: "The Rending in Sunder" Al-Hariri: His Prayer Al-Hariri: The Words of Hareth ibn Hammam The Caliph Omar Bin Abd Al-Aziz and the Poets (From 'Supplemental Nights': Burton's Translation)
DOMINIQUE FRANCOIS ARAGO (by Edward S. Holden) 1786-1853 Laplace
JOHN ARBUTHNOT 1667-1735 The True Characters of John Bull, Nic. Frog, and Hocus ('The History of John Bull') Reconciliation of John and his Sister Peg (same) Of the Rudiments of Martin's Learning ('Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus')
THE ARGONAUTIC LEGEND The Victory of Orpheus ('The Life and Death of Jason')
LUDOVICO ARIOSTO (by L. Oscar Kuhns) 1474-1533 The Friendship of Medoro and Cloridane ('Orlando Furioso') The Saving of Medoro (same) The Madness of Orlando (same)
ARISTOPHANES (by Paul Shorey) B.C. 448-390? Origin of the Peloponnesian War ('The Acharnians') The Poet's Apology (same) Appeal of the Chorus ('The Knights') Cloud Chorus ('The Clouds') A Rainy Day on the Farm ('The Peace') The Harvest (same) Grand Chorus of Birds ('The Birds') Call to the Nightingale (same) The Building of Cloud-Cuckoo-Town (same) Chorus of Women ('Thesmophoriazusae') Chorus of Mystae in Hades ('The Frogs') A Parody of Euripides' Lyric Verse ('The Frogs') The Prologues of Euripides (same)
ARISTOTLE (by Thomas Davidson) B.C. 384-322 Nature of the Soul ('On the Soul') On the Difference between History and Poetry ('Poetics') On Philosophy (Cicero's 'Nature of the Gods') On Essences ('Metaphysics') On Community of Studies ('Politics') Hymn to Virtue
JON ARNASON 1819-1888 From 'Icelandic Legends': The Merman The Fisherman of Goetur The Magic Scythe The Man-Servant and the Water-Elves The Crossways
ERNST MORITZ ARNDT 1769-1860 What is the German's Fatherland? The Song of the Field-Marshal Patriotic Song
EDWIN ARNOLD 1832- Youth of Buddha ('The Light of Asia') The Pure Sacrifice of Buddha (same) Faithfulness of Yudhisthira ('The Great Journey') He and She After Death ('Pearls of the Faith') Solomon and the Ant (same) The Afternoon (same) The Trumpet (same) Envoi to 'The Light of Asia' Grishma; or the Season of Heat (Translated from Kalidasa)
MATTHEW ARNOLD (by George Edward Wood-berry) 1822-1888 Intelligence and Genius ('Essays in Criticism') Sweetness and Light ('Culture and Anarchy') Oxford ('Essays in Criticism') To A Friend Youth and Calm Isolation—To Marguerite Stanzas in Memory of the Author of 'Obermann' (1849) Memorial Verses (1850) The Sick King in Bokhara Dover Beach Self-Dependence Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse A Summer Night The Better Part The Last Word
THE ARTHURIAN LEGENDS (by Richard Jones) From Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Historia Britonum' The Holy Grail (Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur')
PETER CHRISTEN ASBJOeRNSEN 1812-1885 Gudbrand of the Mountain-Side The Widow's Son
ROGER ASCHAM 1515-1568 On Gentleness in Education ('The Schoolmaster') On Study and Exercise ('Toxophilus')
ATHENAEUS Third Century B.C. Why the Nile Overflows ('Deipnosophistae') How to Preserve the Health (same) An Account of Some Great Eaters (same) The Love of Animals for Man (same)
PER DANIEL AMADEUS ATTERBOM 1790-1855 The Genius of the North The Lily of the Valley Svanhvit's Colloquy ('The Islands of the Blest') The Mermaid
AUCASSIN AND NICOLETTE (by Frederick Morris Warren) Twelfth Century 'Tis of Aucassin and Nicolette
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 1780-1851 A Dangerous Adventure ('The American Ornithological Biography')
BERTHOLD AUERBACH 1812-1882 The First Mass ('Ivo the Gentleman') The Peasant-Nurse and the Prince ('On the Heights')
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PAGE The Gutenberg Bible (Colored Plate) Frontispiece Lyly's "Euphues" (Fac-simile) 485 Hans Christian Andersen (Portrait) 500 "Haroun al Raschid" (Photogravure) 622 Dominique Francois Arago (Portrait) 704 Ludovico Ariosto (Portrait) 742 Aristotle (Portrait) 788 Matthew Arnold (Portrait) 844 "Lancelot Bids Adieu to Elaine" (Photogravure) 890 John James Audubon (Portrait) 956
Anacreon Aristophenes Lucius Apuleius Ernst Moritz Arndt Thomas Aquinas Roger Ascham John Arbuthnot Berthold Auerbach
Reduced facsimile of title-page of the "Euphues" of John Lyly.
The Colophon reads:
Imprinted at London by Thomas East, for Gabriel Cawood dwelling in Panics Church yard. 1581.
This is a good example of the quaint title-pages of the books of the early printers; showing the old-fashioned border, the true "old-style" type, the ancient form of the S, the V, and the U, and the now obsolete spelling of several words.
THE ANATOMY OF WIT.
Verie pleasaunt for all Gentlemen to read, and most necessarie to remember.
wherein are contained the delightes that Wit followeth in his youth by the pleasantnesse of love, & the happinesse he reapeth in age, by the perfectnesse of Wisedome.
By John Lyly Master of Art.
Corrected and augmented.
Imprinted at London for Gabriel Cawood dwelling in Paules. Church-yard.
(Continued from Volume I)
to the storms of air and sea; and while the soul of Mozart seems to dwell on the ethereal peaks of Olympus, that of Beethoven climbs shuddering the storm-beaten sides of a Sinai. Blessed be they both! Each represents a moment of the ideal life, each does us good. Our love is due to both.
Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for man with self-surrender.
* * * * *
MAY 27TH, 1857.—Wagner's is a powerful mind endowed with strong poetical sensitiveness. His work is even more poetical than musical. The suppression of the lyrical element, and therefore of melody, is with him a systematic parti pris. No more duos or trios; monologue and the aria are alike done away with. There remains only declamation, the recitative, and the choruses. In order to avoid the conventional in singing, Wagner falls into another convention,—that of not singing at all. He subordinates the voice to articulate speech, and for fear lest the muse should take flight he clips her wings; so that his works are rather symphonic dramas than operas. The voice is brought down to the rank of an instrument, put on a level with the violins, the hautboys, and the drums, and treated instrumentally. Man is deposed from his superior position, and the centre of gravity of the work passes into the baton of the conductor. It is music depersonalized,—neo-Hegelian music,—music multiple instead of individual. If this is so, it is indeed the music of the future,—the music of the socialist democracy replacing the art which is aristocratic, heroic, or subjective.
* * * * *
DECEMBER 4TH, 1863.—The whole secret of remaining young in spite of years, and even of gray hairs, is to cherish enthusiasm in one's self, by poetry, by contemplation, by charity,—that is, in fewer words, by the maintenance of harmony in the soul.
* * * * *
APRIL 12TH, 1858.—The era of equality means the triumph of mediocrity. It is disappointing, but inevitable; for it is one of time's revenges.... Art no doubt will lose, but justice will gain. Is not universal leveling down the law of nature?... The world is striving with all its force for the destruction of what it has itself brought forth!
* * * * *
MARCH 1ST, 1869.—From the point of view of the ideal, humanity is triste and ugly. But if we compare it with its probable origins, we see that the human race has not altogether wasted its time. Hence there are three possible views of history: the view of the pessimist, who starts from the ideal; the view of the optimist, who compares the past with the present; and the view of the hero-worshiper, who sees that all progress whatever has cost oceans of blood and tears.
* * * * *
AUGUST 31ST, 1869.—I have finished Schopenhauer. My mind has been a tumult of opposing systems,—Stoicism, Quietism, Buddhism, Christianity. Shall I never be at peace with myself? If impersonality is a good, why am I not consistent in the pursuit of it? and if it is a temptation, why return to it, after having judged and conquered it?
Is happiness anything more than a conventional fiction? The deepest reason for my state of doubt is that the supreme end and aim of life seems to me a mere lure and deception. The individual is an eternal dupe, who never obtains what he seeks, and who is forever deceived by hope. My instinct is in harmony with the pessimism of Buddha and of Schopenhauer. It is a doubt which never leaves me, even in my moments of religious fervor. Nature is indeed for me a Maia; and I look at her, as it were, with the eyes of an artist. My intelligence remains skeptical. What, then, do I believe in? I do not know. And what is it I hope for? It would be difficult to say. Folly! I believe in goodness, and I hope that good will prevail. Deep within this ironical and disappointed being of mine there is a child hidden—a frank, sad, simple creature, who believes in the ideal, in love, in holiness, and all heavenly superstitions. A whole millennium of idyls sleeps in my heart; I am a pseudo-skeptic, a pseudo-scoffer.
"Borne dans sa nature, infini dans ses voeux, L'homme est un dieu tombe qui se souvient des cieux."
* * * * *
MARCH 17TH, 1870.—This morning the music of a brass band which had stopped under my windows moved me almost to tears. It exercised an indefinable, nostalgic power over me; it set me dreaming of another world, of infinite passion and supreme happiness. Such impressions are the echoes of Paradise in the soul; memories of ideal spheres whose sad sweetness ravishes and intoxicates the heart. O Plato! O Pythagoras! ages ago you heard these harmonies, surprised these moments of inward ecstasy,—knew these divine transports! If music thus carries us to heaven, it is because music is harmony, harmony is perfection, perfection is our dream, and our dream is heaven.
* * * * *
APRIL 1ST, 1870.—I am inclined to believe that for a woman love is the supreme authority,—that which judges the rest and decides what is good or evil. For a man, love is subordinate to right. It is a great passion, but it is not the source of order, the synonym of reason, the criterion of excellence. It would seem, then, that a woman places her ideal in the perfection of love, and a man in the perfection of justice.
* * * * *
JUNE 5TH, 1870.—The efficacy of religion lies precisely in that which is not rational, philosophic, nor eternal; its efficacy lies in the unforeseen, the miraculous, the extraordinary. Thus religion attracts more devotion in proportion as it demands more faith,—that is to say, as it becomes more incredible to the profane mind. The philosopher aspires to explain away all mysteries, to dissolve them into light. It is mystery, on the other hand, which the religious instinct demands and pursues: it is mystery which constitutes the essence of worship, the power of proselytism. When the cross became the "foolishness" of the cross, it took possession of the masses. And in our own day, those who wish to get rid of the supernatural, to enlighten religion, to economize faith, find themselves deserted, like poets who should declaim against poetry, or women who should decry love. Faith consists in the acceptance of the incomprehensible, and even in the pursuit of the impossible, and is self-intoxicated with its own sacrifices, its own repeated extravagances.
It is the forgetfulness of this psychological law which stultifies the so-called liberal Christianity. It is the realization of it which constitutes the strength of Catholicism.
Apparently, no positive religion can survive the supernatural element which is the reason for its existence. Natural religion seems to be the tomb of all historic cults. All concrete religions die eventually in the pure air of philosophy. So long then as the life of nations is in need of religion as a motive and sanction of morality, as food for faith, hope, and charity, so long will the masses turn away from pure reason and naked truth, so long will they adore mystery, so long—and rightly so—will they rest in faith, the only region where the ideal presents itself to them in an attractive form.
* * * * *
OCTOBER 26TH, 1870.—If ignorance and passion are the foes of popular morality, it must be confessed that moral indifference is the malady of the cultivated classes. The modern separation of enlightenment and virtue, of thought and conscience, of the intellectual aristocracy from the honest and vulgar crowd, is the greatest danger that can threaten liberty. When any society produces an increasing number of literary exquisites, of satirists, skeptics, and beaux esprits, some chemical disorganization of fabric may be inferred. Take, for example, the century of Augustus and that of Louis XV. Our cynics and railers are mere egotists, who stand aloof from the common duty, and in their indolent remoteness are of no service to society against any ill which may attack it. Their cultivation consists in having got rid of feeling. And thus they fall farther and farther away from true humanity, and approach nearer to the demoniacal nature. What was it that Mephistopheles lacked? Not intelligence, certainly, but goodness.
* * * * *
DECEMBER 11TH, 1875.—The ideal which the wife and mother makes for herself, the manner in which she understands duty and life, contain the fate of the community. Her faith becomes the star of the conjugal ship, and her love the animating principle that fashions the future of all belonging to her. Woman is the salvation or destruction of the family. She carries its destinies in the folds of her mantle.
* * * * *
JANUARY 22D, 1875.—The thirst for truth is not a French passion. In everything appearance is preferred to reality, the outside to the inside, the fashion to the material, that which shines to that which profits, opinion to conscience. That is to say, the Frenchman's centre of gravity is always outside him,—he is always thinking of others, playing to the gallery. To him individuals are so many zeros: the unit which turns them into a number must be added from outside; it may be royalty, the writer of the day, the favorite newspaper, or any other temporary master of fashion.—All this is probably the result of an exaggerated sociability, which weakens the soul's forces of resistance, destroys its capacity for investigation and personal conviction, and kills in it the worship of the ideal.
* * * * *
DECEMBER 9TH, 1877.—The modern haunters of Parnassus carve urns of agate and of onyx; but inside the urns what is there?—Ashes. Their work lacks feeling, seriousness, sincerity, and pathos—in a word, soul and moral life. I cannot bring myself to sympathize with such a way of understanding poetry. The talent shown is astonishing, but stuff and matter are wanting. It is an effort of the imagination to stand alone—substitute for everything else. We find metaphors, rhymes, music, color, but not man, not humanity. Poetry of this factitious kind may beguile one at twenty, but what can one make of it at fifty? It reminds me of Pergamos, of Alexandria, of all the epochs of decadence when beauty of form hid poverty of thought and exhaustion of feeling. I strongly share the repugnance which this poetical school arouses in simple people. It is as though it only cared to please the world-worn, the over-subtle, the corrupted, while it ignores all normal healthy life, virtuous habits, pure affections, steady labor, honesty, and duty. It is an affectation, and because it is an affectation the school is struck with sterility. The reader desires in the poem something better than a juggler in rhyme, or a conjurer in verse; he looks 'to find in him a painter of life, a being who thinks, loves, and has a conscience, who feels passion and repentance.
The true critic strives for a clear vision of things as they are—for justice and fairness; his effort is to get free from himself, so that he may in no way disfigure that which he wishes to understand or reproduce. His superiority to the common herd lies in this effort, even when its success is only partial. He distrusts his own senses, he sifts his own impressions, by returning upon them from different sides and at different times, by comparing, moderating, shading, distinguishing, and so endeavoring to approach more and more nearly to the formula which represents the maximum of truth.
The art which is grand and yet simple is that which presupposes the greatest elevation both in artist and in public.
* * * * *
MAY 19TH, 1878.—Criticism is above all a gift, an intuition, a matter of tact and flair; it cannot be taught or demonstrated,—it is an art. Critical genius means an aptitude for discerning truth under appearances or in disguises which conceal it; for discovering it in spite of the errors of testimony, the frauds of tradition, the dust of time, the loss or alteration of texts. It is the sagacity of the hunter whom nothing deceives for long, and whom no ruse can throw off the trail. It is the talent of the Juge d'Instruction who knows how to interrogate circumstances, and to extract an unknown secret from a thousand falsehoods. The true critic can understand everything, but he will be the dupe of nothing, and to no convention will he sacrifice his duty, which is to find out and proclaim truth. Competent learning, general cultivation, absolute probity, accuracy of general view, human sympathy, and technical capacity,—how many things are necessary to the critic, without reckoning grace, delicacy, savoir vivre, and the gift of happy phrasemaking!
* * * * *
MAY 22D, 1879 (Ascension Day).—Wonderful and delicious weather. Soft, caressing sunlight,—the air a limpid blue,—twitterings of birds; even the distant voices of the city have something young and springlike in them. It is indeed a new birth. The ascension of the Savior of men is symbolized by the expansion, this heavenward yearning of nature.... I feel myself born again; all the windows of the soul are clear. Forms, lines, tints, reflections, sounds, contrasts, and harmonies, the general play and interchange of things,—it is all enchanting!
In my courtyard the ivy is green again, the chestnut-tree is full of leaf, the Persian lilac beside the little fountain is flushed with red and just about to flower; through the wide openings to the right and left of the old College of Calvin I see the Saleve above the trees of St. Antoine, the Voirons above the hill of Cologny; while the three flights of steps which, from landing to landing, lead between two high walls from the Rue Verdaine to the terrace of the Tranchees, recall to one's imagination some old city of the south, a glimpse of Perugia or of Malaga.
All the bells are ringing. It is the hour of worship. A historical and religious impression mingles with the picturesque, the musical, the poetical impressions of the scene. All the peoples of Christendom—all the churches scattered over the globe—are celebrating at this moment the glory of the Crucified.
And what are those many nations doing who have other prophets, and honor the Divinity in other ways—the Jews, the Mussulmans, the Buddhists, the Vishnuists, the Guebers? They have other sacred days, other rites, other solemnities, other beliefs. But all have some religion, some ideal end for life—all aim at raising man above the sorrows and smallnesses of the present, and of the individual existence. All have faith in something greater than themselves, all pray, all bow, all adore; all see beyond nature, Spirit, and beyond evil, Good. All bear witness to the Invisible. Here we have the link which binds all peoples together. All men are equally creatures of sorrow and desire, of hope and fear. All long to recover some lost harmony with the great order of things, and to feel themselves approved and blessed by the Author of the universe. All know what suffering is, and yearn for happiness. All know what sin is, and feel the need of pardon.
Christianity, reduced to its original simplicity, is the reconciliation of the sinner with God, by means of the certainty that God loves in spite of everything, and that he chastises because he loves. Christianity furnished a new motive and a new strength for the achievement of moral perfection. It made holiness attractive by giving to it the air of filial gratitude.
* * * * *
JULY 28TH, 1880.—This afternoon I have had a walk in the sunshine, and have just come back rejoicing in a renewed communion with nature. The waters of the Rhone and the Arve, the murmur of the river, the austerity of its banks, the brilliancy of the foliage, the play of the leaves, the splendor of the July sunlight, the rich fertility of the fields, the lucidity of the distant mountains, the whiteness of the glaciers under the azure serenity of the sky, the sparkle and foam of the mingling rivers, the leafy masses of the La Batie woods,—all and everything delighted me. It seemed to me as though the years of strength had come back to me. I was overwhelmed with sensations. I was surprised and grateful. The universal life carried me on its breast; the summer's caress went to my heart. Once more my eyes beheld the vast horizons, the soaring peaks, the blue lakes, the winding valleys, and all the free outlets of old days. And yet there was no painful sense of longing. The scene left upon me an indefinable impression, which was neither hope, nor desire, nor regret, but rather a sense of emotion, of passionate impulse, mingled with admiration and anxiety. I am conscious at once of joy and of want; beyond what I possess I see the impossible and the unattainable; I gauge my own wealth and poverty: in a word, I am and I am not—my inner state is one of contradiction, because it is one of transition.
* * * * *
APRIL 1OTH, 1881 [he died May 11th].—What dupes we are of our own desires!... Destiny has two ways of crushing us—by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them. But he who only wills what God wills escapes both catastrophes. "All things work together for his good."
Of the life of this lyric poet we have little exact knowledge. We know that he was an Ionian Greek, and therefore by racial type a luxury-loving, music-loving Greek, born in the city of Teos on the coast of Asia Minor. The year was probably B.C. 562. With a few fellow-citizens, it is supposed that he fled to Thrace and founded Abdera when Cyrus the Great, or his general Harpagus, was conquering the Greek cities of the coast. Abdera, however, was too new to afford luxurious living, and the singing Ionian soon found his way to more genial Samos, whither the fortunes of the world then seemed converging. Polycrates was "tyrant," in the old Greek sense of irresponsible ruler; but withal so large-minded and far-sighted a man that we may use a trite comparison and say that under him his island was, to the rest of Greece, as Florence in the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent was to the rest of Italy, or Athens in the time of Pericles to the other Hellenic States. Anacreon became his tutor, and may have been of his council; for Herodotus says that when Oroetes went to see Polycrates he found him in the men's apartment with Anacreon the Teian. Another historian says that he tempered the stern will of the ruler. Still another relates that Polycrates once presented him with five talents, but that the poet returned the sum after two nights made sleepless from thinking what he would do with his riches, saying "it was not worth the care it cost."
After the murder of Polycrates, Hipparchus, who ruled at Athens, sent a trireme to fetch the poet. Like his father Pisistratus, Hipparchus endeavored to further the cause of letters by calling poets to his court. Simonides of Ceos was there; and Lasus of Hermione, the teacher of Pindar; with many rhapsodists or minstrels, who edited the poems of Homer and chanted his lays at the Panathenaea, or high festival of Athena, which the people celebrated every year with devout and magnificent show. Amid this brilliant company Anacreon lived and sang until Hipparchus fell (514) by the famous conspiracy of Harmodius and Aristogeiton. He then returned to his native Teos, and according to a legend, died there at the age of eighty-five, choked by a grape-seed.
Anacreon was a lyrist of the first order. Plato's poet says of him in the 'Symposium,' "When I hear the verses of Sappho or Anacreon, I set down my cup for very shame of my own performance." He composed in Greek somewhat, to use a very free comparison, as Herrick did in English, expressing the unrefined passion and excesses which he saw, just as the Devonshire parson preserved the spirit of the country festivals of Old England in his vivid verse.
To Anacreon music and poetry were inseparable. The poet of his time recited his lines with lyre in hand, striking upon it in the measure he thought best suited to his song. Doubtless the poems of Anacreon were delivered in this way. His themes were simple,—wine, love, and the glorification of youth and poetry; but his imagination and poetic invention so animated every theme that it is the perfect rendering which we see, not the simplicity of the commonplace idea. His delicacy preserves him from grossness, and his grace from wantonness. In this respect his poems are a fair illustration of the Greek sense of self-limitation, which guided the art instincts of that people and made them the creators of permanent canons of taste.
Anacreon had no politics, no earnest interest in the affairs of life, no morals in the large meaning of that word, no aims reaching further than the merriment and grace of the moment. Loving luxury and leisure, he was the follower of a pleasure-loving court. His cares are that the bowl is empty, that age is joyless, that women tell him he is growing gray. He is closely paralleled in this by one side of Beranger; but the Frenchman's soul had a passionately earnest half which the Greek entirely lacked. Nor is there ever any outbreak of the deep yearning, the underlying melancholy, which pervades and now and then interrupts, like a skeleton at the feast, the gayest verses of Omar Khayyam.
His metres, like his matter, are simple and easy. So imitators, perhaps as brilliant as the master, have sprung up and produced a mass of songs; and at this time it remains in doubt whether any complete poem of Anacreon remains untouched. For this reason the collection is commonly termed 'Anacreontics'. Some of the poems are referred to the school of Gaza and the fourth century after Christ, and some to the secular teachings and refinement of the monks of the Middle Ages. Since the discovery and publication of the text by Henry Stephens, in 1554, poets have indulged their lighter fancies in such songs, and a small literature of delicate trifles now exists under the name of 'Anacreontics' in Italian, German, and English. Bergk's recension of the poems appeared in 1878. The standard translations, or rather imitations in English, are those of Cowley and Moore. The Irish poet was not unlike in nature to the ancient Ionian. Moore's fine voice in the London drawing-rooms echoes at times the note of Anacreon in the men's quarters of Polycrates or the symposia of Hipparchus. The joy of feasting and music, the color of wine, and the scent of roses, alike inspire the songs of each.
The thirsty earth soaks up the rain, And drinks, and gapes for drink again, The plants suck in the earth, and are With constant drinking fresh and fair; The sea itself (which one would think Should have but little need of drink) Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up, So filled that they o'erflow the cup. The busy Sun (and one would guess By 's drunken fiery face no less) Drinks up the sea, and, when he's done, The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun: They drink and dance by their own light; They drink and revel all the night. Nothing in nature's sober found, But an eternal health goes round. Fill up the bowl then, fill it high, Fill all the glasses there; for why Should every creature drink but I? Why, man of morals, tell me why?
Oft am I by the women told, Poor Anacreon, thou grow'st old! Look how thy hairs are falling all; Poor Anacreon, how they fall! Whether I grow old or no, By th' effects I do not know; This I know, without being told, 'Tis time to live, if I grow old; 'Tis time short pleasures now to take, Of little life the best to make, And manage wisely the last stake.
Fill the bowl with rosy wine! Around our temples roses twine! And let us cheerfully awhile, Like the wine and roses, smile. Crowned with roses, we contemn Gyges' wealthy diadem. To-day is ours, what do we fear? To-day is ours; we have it here: Let's treat it kindly, that it may Wish, at least, with us to stay. Let's banish business, banish sorrow; To the gods belongs to-morrow.
Underneath this myrtle shade, On flowery beds supinely laid, With odorous oils my head o'erflowing, And around it roses growing, What should I do but drink away The heat and troubles of the day? In this more than kingly state Love himself shall on me wait. Fill to me, Love, nay fill it up; And, mingled, cast into the cup Wit, and mirth, and noble fires, Vigorous health, and gay desires. The wheel of life no less will stay In a smooth than rugged way: Since it equally doth flee, Let the motion pleasant be. Why do we precious ointments show'r? Noble wines why do we pour? Beauteous flowers why do we spread, Upon the monuments of the dead? Nothing they but dust can show, Or bones that hasten to be so. Crown me with roses while I live, Now your wines and ointments give After death I nothing crave; Let me alive my pleasures have, All are Stoics in the grave.
A mighty pain to love it is, And 'tis a pain that pain to miss; But, of all pains, the greatest pain It is to love, but love in vain. Virtue now, nor noble blood, Nor wit by love is understood; Gold alone does passion move, Gold monopolizes love; A curse on her, and on the man Who this traffic first began! A curse on him who found the ore! A curse on him who digged the store! A curse on him who did refine it! A curse on him who first did coin it! A curse, all curses else above, On him who used it first in love! Gold begets in brethren hate; Gold in families debate; Gold does friendship separate; Gold does civil wars create. These the smallest harms of it! Gold, alas! does love beget.
Happy Insect! what can be In happiness compared to thee? Fed with nourishment divine, The dewy Morning's gentle wine! Nature waits upon thee still, And thy verdant cup does fill; 'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread, Nature's self's thy Ganymede. Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing; Happier than the happiest king! All the fields which thou dost see, All the plants, belong to thee; All that summer hours produce, Fertile made with early juice. Man for thee does sow and plow; Farmer he, and landlord thou! Thou dost innocently joy; Nor does thy luxury destroy; The shepherd gladly heareth thee, More harmonious than he. Thee country hinds with gladness hear, Prophet of the ripened year! Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire; Phoebus is himself thy sire. To thee, of all things upon Earth, Life's no longer than thy mirth. Happy insect, happy thou! Dost neither age nor winter know; But, when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung Thy fill, the flowery leaves among, (Voluptuous, and wise withal, Epicurean animal!) Sated with thy summer feast, Thou retir'st to endless rest.
Foolish prater, what dost thou So early at my window do, With thy tuneless serenade? Well 't had been had Tereus made Thee as dumb as Philomel; There his knife had done but well. In thy undiscovered nest Thou dost all the winter rest, And dreamest o'er thy summer joys, Free from the stormy season's noise: Free from th' ill thou'st done to me; Who disturbs or seeks out thee? Hadst thou all the charming notes Of the wood's poetic throats, All thou art could never pay What thou hast ta'en from me away. Cruel bird! thou'st ta'en away A dream out of my arms to-day; A dream that ne'er must equaled be By all that waking eyes may see. Thou, this damage to repair, Nothing half so sweet or fair, Nothing half so good, canst bring, Though men say thou bring'st the Spring.
THE POET'S CHOICE
If hoarded gold possessed a power To lengthen life's too fleeting hour, And purchase from the hand of death A little span, a moment's breath, How I would love the precious ore! And every day should swell my store; That when the fates would send their minion, To waft me off on shadowy pinion, I might some hours of life obtain, And bribe him back to hell again. But since we ne'er can charm away The mandate of that awful day, Why do we vainly weep at fate, And sigh for life's uncertain date? The light of gold can ne'er illume The dreary midnight of the tomb! And why should I then pant for treasures? Mine be the brilliant round of pleasures; The goblet rich, the hoard of friends, Whose flowing souls the goblet blends!
I care not for the idle state Of Persia's king, the rich, the great! I envy not the monarch's throne, Nor wish the treasured gold my own. But oh! be mine the rosy braid, The fervor of my brows to shade; Be mine the odors, richly sighing, Amid my hoary tresses flying. To-day I'll haste to quaff my wine, As if to-morrow ne'er should shine; But if to-morrow comes, why then— I'll haste to quaff my wine again. And thus while all our days are bright, Nor time has dimmed their bloomy light, Let us the festal hours beguile With mantling cup and cordial smile; And shed from every bowl of wine The richest drop on Bacchus's shrine! For Death may come, with brow unpleasant, May come when least we wish him present, And beckon to the sable shore, And grimly bid us—drink no more!
A LOVER'S SIGH
The Phrygian rock that braves the storm Was once a weeping matron's form; And Procne, hapless, frantic maid, Is now a swallow in the shade. Oh that a mirror's form were mine, To sparkle with that smile divine; And like my heart I then should be, Reflecting thee, and only thee! Or could I be the robe which holds That graceful form within its folds; Or, turned into a fountain, lave Thy beauties in my circling wave; Or, better still, the zone that lies Warm to thy breast, and feels its sighs! Or like those envious pearls that show So faintly round that neck of snow! Yes, I would be a happy gem, Like them to hang, to fade like them. What more would thy Anacreon be? Oh, anything that touches thee, Nay, sandals for those airy feet— Thus to be pressed by thee were sweet!
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
BY BENJAMIN W. WELLS
The place of Hans Christian Andersen in literature is that of the "Children's Poet," though his best poetry is prose. He was born in the ancient Danish city of Odense, on April 2d, 1805, of poor and shiftless parents. He had little regular instruction, and few childish associates. His youthful imagination was first stimulated by La Fontaine's 'Fables' and the 'Arabian Nights,' and he showed very early a dramatic instinct, trying to act and even to imitate Shakespeare, though, as he says, "hardly able to spell a single word correctly." It was therefore natural that the visit of a dramatic company to Odense, in 1818, should fire his fancy to seek his theatrical fortune in Copenhagen; whither he went in September, 1819, with fifteen dollars in his pocket and a letter of introduction to a danseuse at the Royal Theatre, who not unnaturally took her strange visitor for a lunatic, and showed him the door. For four years he labored diligently, suffered acutely, and produced nothing of value; though he gained some influential friends, who persuaded the king to grant him a scholarship for three years, that he might prepare for the university.
Though he was neither a brilliant nor a docile pupil, he did not exhaust the generous patience of his friends, who in 1829 enabled him to publish by subscription his first book, 'A Journey on Foot from Holm Canal to the East Point of Amager' a fantastic arabesque, partly plagiarized and partly parodied from the German romanticists, but with a naivete that might have disarmed criticism.
In 1831 there followed a volume of poems, the sentimental and rather mawkish 'Fantasies and Sketches,' product of a journey in Jutland and of a silly love affair. This book was so harshly criticized that he resolved to seek a refuge and new literary inspiration in a tour to Germany; for all through his life, traveling was Andersen's stimulus and distraction, so that he compares himself, later, to a pendulum "bound to go backward and forward, tic, toc, tic, toc, till the clock stops, and down I lie."
This German tour inspired his first worthy book, 'Silhouettes,' with some really admirable pages of description. His success encouraged him to attempt the drama again, where he failed once more, and betook himself for relief to Paris and Italy, with a brief stay in the Jura Mountains, which is delightfully described in his novel, 'O.T.'
Italy had on him much the same clarifying effect that it had on Goethe; and his next book, the novel 'Improvisatore' (1835), achieved and deserved a European recognition. Within ten years the book was translated into six languages. It bears the mark of its date in its romantic sentiments. There is indeed no firm character-drawing, here or in any of his novels; but the book still claims attention for its exquisite descriptions of Italian life and scenery.
The year 1835 saw also Andersen's first essay in the 'Wonder Stories' which were to give him his lasting title to grateful remembrance. He did not think highly of this work at the time, though his little volume contained the now-classic 'Tinderbox,' and 'Big Claus and Little Claus.' Indeed, he always chafed a little at the modest fame of a writer for children; but he continued for thirty-seven years to publish those graceful fancies, which in their little domain still hold the first rank, and certainly gave the freest scope to Andersen's qualities, while they masked his faults and limitations.
He turned again from this "sleight of hand with Fancy's golden apples," to the novel, in the 'O.T.' (1836), which marks no advance on the 'Improvisatore'; and in the next year he published his best romance, 'Only a Fiddler,' which is still charming for its autobiographical touches, its genuine humor, and its deep pathos. At the time, this book assured his European reputation; though it has less interest for us to-day than the 'Tales,' or the 'Picture Book without Pictures' (1840), where, perhaps more than anywhere else in his work, the child speaks with all the naivete of his nature.
A journey to the East was reflected in 'A Poet's Bazaar' (1842); and these years contain also his last unsuccessful dramatic efforts, 'The King Dreams' and 'The New Lying-in Room.' In 1843 he was in Paris, in 1844 in Germany, and in the next year he extended his wanderings to Italy and England, where Mary Howitt's translations had assured him a welcome. Ten years later he revisited England as the guest of Dickens at Gadshill.
The failure of an epic, 'Ahasuerus' (1847), and of a novel, 'The Two Baronesses' (1849), made him turn with more interest to wonder tales and fairy dramas, which won a considerable success; and when the political troubles of 1848 directed his wanderings toward Sweden, he made from them 'I Sverrig' (In Sweden: 1849), his most exquisite book of travels. As Europe grew peaceful again he resumed his indefatigable wanderings, visiting Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Bohemia, and England; printing between 1852 and 1862 nine little volumes of stories, the mediocre but successful 'In Spain' (1860), and his last novel, 'To Be or Not To Be' (1857), which reflects the religious speculations of his later years.
He was now in comparatively easy circumstances, and passed the last fifteen years of his life unharassed by criticism, and surrounded with the 'honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,' that should accompany old age. It was not until 1866 that he made himself a home; and even at sixty-one he said the idea 'positively frightened him—he knew he should run away from it as soon as ever the first warm sunbeam struck him, like any other bird of passage.'
In 1869 he celebrated his literary jubilee. In 1872 he finished his last 'Stories.' That year he met with an accident in Innsbruck from which he never recovered. Kind friends eased his invalid years; and so general was the grief at his illness that the children of the United States collected a sum of money for his supposed necessities, which at his request took the form of books for his library. A few months later, after a brief and painless illness, he died, August 1st, 1875. His admirers had already erected a statue in his honor, and the State gave him a magnificent funeral; but his most enduring monument is that which his 'Wonder Tales' are still building all around the world.
The character of Andersen is full of curious contrasts. Like the French fabulist, La Fontaine, he was a child all his life, and often a spoiled child; yet he joined to childlike simplicity no small share of worldly wisdom. Constant travel made him a shrewd observer of detail, but his self-absorption kept him from sympathy with the broad political aspirations of his generation.
In the judgment of his friends and critics, his autobiographical 'Story of My Life' is strangely unjust, and he never understood the limitations of his genius. He was not fond of children, nor personally attractive to them, though his letters to them are charming.
In personal appearance he was limp, ungainly, awkward, and odd, with long lean limbs, broad flat hands, and feet of striking size. His eyes were small and deep-set, his nose very large, his neck very long; but he masked his defects by studied care in dress, and always fancied he looked distinguished, delighting to display his numerous decorations on his evening dress in complacent profusion.
On Andersen's style there is a remarkably acute study by his fellow-countryman Brandes, in 'Kritiker og Portraite' (Critiques and Portraits), and a useful comment in Boyesen's 'Scandinavian Literature.' When not perverted by his translators, it is perhaps better suited than any other to the comprehension of children. His syntax and rhetoric are often faulty; and in the 'Tales' he does not hesitate to take liberties even with German, if he can but catch the vivid, darting imagery of juvenile fancy, the "ohs" and "ahs" of the nursery, its changing intonations, its fears, its smiles, its personal appeals, and its venerable devices to spur attention and kindle sympathy. Action, or imitation, takes the place of description. We hear the trumpeter's taratantara and "the pattering rain on the leaves, rum dum dum, rum dum dum," The soldier "comes marching along, left, right, left, right." No one puts himself so wholly in the child's place and looks at nature so wholly with his eyes as Andersen. "If you hold one of those burdock leaves before your little body it's just like an apron, and if you put it on your head it's almost as good as an umbrella, it's so big." Or he tells you that when the sun shone on the flax, and the clouds watered it, "it was just as nice for it as it is for the little children to be washed and then get a kiss from mother: that makes them prettier; of course it does." And here, as Brandes remarks, every right-minded mamma stops and kisses the child, and their hearts are warmer for that day's tale.
The starting-point of this art is personification. To the child's fancy the doll is as much alive as the cat, the broom as the bird, and even the letters in the copy-book can stretch themselves. On this foundation he builds myths that tease by a certain semblance of rationality,—elegiac, more often sentimental, but at their best, like normal children, without strained pathos or forced sympathy.
Such personification has obvious dramatic and lyric elements; but Andersen lacked the technique of poetic and dramatic art, and marred his prose descriptions, both in novels and books of travel, by an intrusive egotism and lyric exaggeration. No doubt, therefore, the most permanent part of his work is that which popular instinct has selected, the 'Picture Book without Pictures,' the 'Tales and Stories'; and among these, those will last longest that have least of the lyric and most of the dramatic element.
Nearly all of Andersen's books are translated in ten uniform but unnumbered volumes, published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company. Of the numerous translations of the 'Tales,' Mary Howitt's (1846) and Sommer's (1893) are the best, though far from faultless.
The 'Life of Hans Christian Andersen' by R. Nisbet Bain (New York, 1895) is esteemed the best.
THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER
From 'Collected Fairy Tales,' newly translated
There were once twenty-five tin soldiers, who were all brothers, for they were cast out of one old tin spoon. They held their muskets, and their faces were turned to the enemy; red and blue, ever so fine, were the uniforms. The first thing they heard in this world, when the cover was taken from the box where they lay, were the words, "Tin soldiers!" A little boy shouted it, and clapped his hands. He had got them because it was his birthday, and now he set them up on the table. Each soldier was just like the other, only one was a little different. He had but one leg, for he had been cast last, and there was not enough tin. But he stood on his one leg just as firm as the others on two, so he was just the one to be famous.
On the table where they were set up stood a lot of other playthings; but what caught your eye was a pretty castle of paper. Through the little windows you could see right into the halls. Little trees stood in front, around a bit of looking-glass which was meant for a lake. Wax swans swam on it and were reflected in it. That was all very pretty, but still the prettiest thing was a little girl who stood right in the castle gate. She was cut out of paper too, but she had a silk dress, and a little narrow blue ribbon across her shoulders, on which was a sparkling star as big as her whole face. The little girl lifted her arms gracefully in the air, for she was a dancer; and then she lifted one leg so high that the tin soldier could not find it at all, and thought that she had only one leg, just like himself.
"That would be the wife for me," thought he, "but she is too fine for me. She lives in a castle, and I have only a box, which I have to share with twenty-four. That is no house for her. But I will see whether I can make her acquaintance." Then he lay down at full length behind a snuff-box which was on the table. From there he could watch the trig little lady who kept standing on one leg without losing her balance. When evening came, the other tin soldiers were all put in their box, and the people in the house went to bed. Then the playthings began to play, first at "visiting," then at "war" and at "dancing." The tin soldiers rattled in their box, for they would have liked to join in it, but they could not get the cover off. The nutcracker turned somersaults, and the pencil scrawled over the slate. There was such a racket that the canary-bird woke up and began to sing, and that in verses. The only ones that did not stir were the tin soldier and the little dancer. She stood straight on tiptoe and stretched up both arms; he was just as steadfast on his one leg. He did not take his eyes from her a moment.
Now it struck twelve, and bang! up went the cover of the snuff-box, but it wasn't tobacco in it: no, but a little black Troll. It was a trick box.
"Tin soldier!" said the Troll, "will you stare your eyes out?" But the tin soldier made believe he did not hear. "You wait till morning!" said the Troll.
When morning came, and the children got up, the tin soldier was put on the window ledge; and whether it was the Troll, or a gust of wind, all at once the window flew open and the tin soldier fell head first from the third story. That was an awful fall. He stretched his leg straight up, and stuck with his bayonet and cap right between the paving-stones.
The maid and the little boy came right down to hunt for him, but they couldn't see him, though they came so near that they almost trod on him. If the tin soldier had called "Here I am," they surely would have found him; but since he was in uniform he did not think it proper to call aloud.
Now it began to rain. The drops chased one another. It was a regular shower. When that was over, two street boys came along.
"Hallo!" said one, "There's a tin soldier. He must be off and sail."
Then they made a boat out of a newspaper, put the tin soldier in it, and made him sail down the gutter. Both boys ran beside it, and clapped their hands. Preserve us! What waves there were in the gutter, and what a current! It must have rained torrents. The paper boat rocked up and down, and sometimes it whirled around so that the tin soldier shivered. But he remained steadfast, did not lose color, looked straight ahead and held his musket firm.
All at once the boat plunged under a long gutter-bridge. It was as dark there as it had been in his box.
"Where am I going now?" thought he. "Yes, yes, that is the Troll's fault. Oh! if the little lady were only in the boat, I would not care if it were twice as dark."
At that instant there came a great water-rat who lived under the gutter-bridge.
"Have you a pass?" said the rat. "Show me your pass."
But the tin soldier kept still, and only held his musket the firmer. The boat rushed on, and the rat behind. Oh! how he gnashed his teeth, and called to the sticks and straws:—
"Stop him! Stop him! He has not paid toll. He has showed no pass."
But the current got stronger and stronger. Before he got to the end of the bridge the tin soldier could see daylight, but he heard also a rushing noise that might frighten a brave man's heart. Just think! at the end of the bridge the gutter emptied into a great canal, which for him was as dangerous as for us to sail down a great waterfall.
He was so near it already that he could not stop. The boat went down. The poor tin soldier held himself as straight as he could. No one should say of him that he had ever blinked his eyes. The boat whirled three or four times and filled with water. It had to sink. The tin soldier stood up to his neck in water, and deeper, deeper sank the boat. The paper grew weaker and weaker. Now the waves went over the soldier's head. Then he thought of the pretty little dancer whom he never was to see again, and there rang in the tin soldier's ears:—
"Farewell, warrior! farewell! Death shalt thou stiffer."
Now the paper burst in two, and the tin soldier fell through,—but in that minute he was swallowed by a big fish.
Oh! wasn't it dark in there. It was worse even than under the gutter-bridge, and besides, so cramped. But the tin soldier was steadfast, and lay at full length, musket in hand.
The fish rushed around and made the most fearful jumps. At last he was quite still, and something went through him like a lightning flash. Then a bright light rushed in, and somebody called aloud, "The tin soldier!" The fish had been caught, brought to market, sold, and been taken to the kitchen, where the maid had slit it up with a big knife. She caught the soldier around the body and carried him into the parlor, where everybody wanted to see such a remarkable man who had traveled about in a fish's belly. But the tin soldier was not a bit proud. They put him on the table, and there—well! what strange things do happen in the world—the tin soldier was in the very same room that he had been in before. He saw the same children, and the same playthings were on the table, the splendid castle with the pretty little dancer; she was still standing on one leg, and had the other high in the air. She was steadfast, too. That touched the tin soldier so that he could almost have wept tin tears, but that would not have been proper. He looked at her and she looked at him, but they said nothing at all.
Suddenly one of the little boys seized the tin soldier and threw him right into the tile-stove, although he had no reason to. It was surely the Troll in the box who was to blame.
The tin soldier stood in full light and felt a fearful heat; but whether that came from the real fire, or from his glowing love, he could not tell. All the color had faded from him; but whether this had happened on the journey, or whether it came from care, no one could say. He looked at the little girl and she looked at him. He felt that he was melting, but still he stood steadfast, musket in hand. Then a door opened. A whiff of air caught the dancer, and she flew like a sylph right into the tile-stove to the tin soldier, blazed up in flame, and was gone. Then the tin soldier melted to a lump, and when the maid next day took out the ashes, she found him as a little tin heart. But of the dancer only the star was left, and that was burnt coal-black.
From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
There was a proud Teapot, proud of being porcelain, proud of its long spout, proud of its broad handle. It had something before and behind—the spout before, the handle behind—and that was what it talked about. But it did not talk of its lid—that was cracked, it was riveted, it had faults; and one does not talk about one's faults—there are plenty of others to do that. The cups, the cream-pot, the sugar-bowl, the whole tea-service would be reminded much more of the lid's weakness, and talk about that, than of the sound handle and the remarkable spout. The Teapot knew it.
"I know you," it said within itself, "I know well enough, too, my fault; and I am well aware that in that very thing is seen my humility, my modesty. We all have faults, but then one also has a talent. The cups get a handle, the sugar-bowl a lid; I get both, and one thing besides in front which they never got,—I get a spout, and that makes me a queen on the tea-table. The sugar-bowl and cream-pot are good-looking serving maids; but I am the one who gives, yes, the one high in council. I spread abroad a blessing among thirsty mankind. In my insides the Chinese leaves are worked up in the boiling, tasteless water."
All this said the Teapot in its fresh young life. It stood on the table that was spread for tea, it was lifted by a very delicate hand; but the very delicate hand was awkward, the Teapot fell. The spout snapped off, the handle snapped off; the lid was no worse to speak of—the worst had been spoken of that. The Teapot lay in a swoon on the floor, while the boiling water ran out of it. It was a horrid shame, but the worst was that they jeered at it; they jeered at it, and not at the awkward hand.
"I never shall lose the memory of that!" said the Teapot, when it afterward talked to itself of the course of its life. "I was called an invalid, and placed in a corner, and the day after was given away to a woman who begged victuals. I fell into poverty, and stood dumb both outside and in; but there, as I stood, began my better life. One is one thing and becomes quite another. Earth was placed in me: for a Teapot that is the same as being buried, but in the earth was placed a flower bulb. Who placed it there, who gave it, I know not; given it was, and it took the place of the Chinese leaves and the boiling water, the broken handle and spout. And the bulb lay in the earth, the bulb lay in me, it became my heart, my living heart, such as I never before had. There was life in me, power and might. My pulses beat, the bulb put forth sprouts, it was the springing up of thoughts and feelings; they burst forth in flower. I saw it, I bore it, I forgot myself in its delight. Blessed is it to forget one's self in another. The bulb gave me no thanks, it did not think of me—it was admired and praised. I was so glad at that: how happy must it have been! One day I heard it said that it ought to have a better pot. I was thumped on my back—that was rather hard to bear; but the flower was put in a better pot—and I was thrown away in the yard, where I lie as an old crock. But I have the memory: that I can never lose."
THE UGLY DUCKLING
From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
I—THE DUCKLING IS BORN
It was glorious in the country. It was summer; the cornfields were yellow, the oats were green, the hay had been put up in stacks in the green meadows; and the stork went about on his long red legs, and chattered Egyptian, for this was the language he had learned from his mother. All around the fields and meadows were great woods, and in the midst of these woods deep lakes. Yes, it was right glorious in the country.
In the midst of the sunshine there lay an old farm, with deep canals about it; and from the wall down to the water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could stand upright under the tallest of them. It was just as wild there as in the deepest wood, and here sat a Duck upon her nest. She had to hatch her ducklings, but she was almost tired out before the little ones came; and she seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked better to swim about in the canals than to run up to sit under a burdock and gabble with her.
At last one egg-shell after another burst open. "Pip! pip!" each cried, and in all the eggs there were little things that stuck out their heads.
"Quack! quack!" said the Duck, and they all came quacking out as fast as they could, looking all around them under the green leaves; and the mother let them look as much as they liked, for green is good for the eye.
"How wide the world is!" said all the young ones; for they certainly had much more room now than when they were inside the eggs.
"D'ye think this is all the world?" said the mother. "That stretches far across the other side of the garden, quite into the parson's field; but I have never been there yet. I hope you are all together," and she stood up. "No, I have not all. The largest egg still lies there. How long is that to last? I am really tired of it." And so she sat down again.
"Well, how goes it?" asked an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.
"It lasts a long time with this one egg," said the Duck who sat there. "It will not open. Now, only look at the others! They are the prettiest little ducks I ever saw. They are all like their father: the rogue, he never comes to see me."
"Let me see the egg which will not burst," said the old Duck. "You may be sure it is a turkey's egg. I was once cheated in that way, and had much care and trouble with the young ones, for they are afraid of the water. Must I say it to you? I could not make them go in. I quacked, and I clacked, but it was no use. Let me see the egg. Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie there, and do you teach the other children to swim."
"I think I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck. "I've sat so long now that I can sit a few days more."
"Just as you please," said the old Duck; and she went away.
At last the great egg burst. "Pip! pip!" said the little one, and crept forth. He was so big and ugly. The Duck looked at him.
"It's a very large Duckling," said she. "None of the others looks like that: it really must be a turkey chick! Well, we shall soon find out. Into the water shall he go, even if I have to push him in."
II—HOW THE DUCKLING WAS TREATED AT HOME
The next day it was bright, beautiful weather; the sun shone on all the green burdocks. The Mother-Duck, with all her family, went down to the canal. Splash! she jumped into the water. "Quack! quack!" she said, and one duckling after another plumped in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up in an instant, and swam off finely; their legs went of themselves, and they were all in the water; even the ugly gray Duckling swam with them.
"No, it's not a turkey," said she: "look how well he uses his legs, how straight he holds himself. It is my own child! On the whole he's quite pretty, when one looks at him rightly. Quack! quack! come now with me, and I'll lead you out into the world, and present you in the duck-yard; but keep close to me all the time, so that no one may tread on you, and look out for the cats."
And so they came into the duck-yard. There was a terrible row going on in there, for two families were fighting about an eel's head, and so the cat got it.
"See, that's the way it goes in the world!" said the Mother-Duck; and she whetted her beak, for she too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your legs," she said. "See that you can bustle about, and bend your necks before the old Duck yonder. She's the grandest of all here; she's of Spanish blood—that's why she's so fat; and do you see? she has a red rag around her leg; that's something very, very fine, and the greatest mark of honor a duck can have: it means that one does not want to lose her, and that she's known by the animals and by men too. Hurry! hurry!—don't turn in your toes, a well brought-up duck turns it's toes quite out, just like father and mother,—so! Now bend your necks and say 'Quack!'"
And they did so; but the other ducks round about looked at them, and said quite boldly,—"Look there! now we're to have this crowd too! as if there were not enough of us already! And—fie!—how that Duckling yonder looks: we won't stand that!" And at once one Duck flew at him, and bit him in the neck.
"Let him alone," said the mother: "he is not doing anything to any one."
"Yes, but he's too large and odd," said the Duck who had bitten him, "and so he must be put down."
"Those are pretty children the mother has," said the old Duck with the rag round her leg. "They're all pretty but that one; that is rather unlucky. I wish she could have that one over again."
"That cannot be done, my lady," said the Mother-Duck. "He is not pretty, but he has a really good temper, and swims as well as any of the others; yes, I may even say it, a little better. I think he will grow up pretty, perhaps in time he will grow a little smaller; he lay too long in the egg, and therefore he has not quite the right shape." And she pinched him in the neck, and smoothed his feathers. "Besides, he is a drake," she said, "and so it does not matter much. I think he will be very strong: he makes his way already."
"The other ducklings are graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make yourself at home; and if you find an eel's head, you may bring it to me."
And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling who had crept last out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, as much by the ducks as by the chickens.
"He is too big!" they all said. And the turkey-cock, who had been born with spurs, and so thought he was an emperor, blew himself up, like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon him; then he gobbled and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know where he dared stand or walk; he was quite unhappy because he looked ugly, and was the sport of the whole duck-yard.
So it went on the first day; and then it grew worse and worse. The poor Duckling was hunted about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were quite angry with him, and said, "If the cat would only catch you, you ugly creature!" And the ducks bit him, and the chickens beat him, and the girl who had to feed the poultry kicked at him with her foot.
III—OUT ON THE MOOR
Then he ran and flew over the fence, and the little birds in the bushes flew up in fear.
"That is because I am so ugly!" thought the Duckling; and he shut his eyes, but flew on further; and so he came out into the great moor, where the wild ducks lived. Here he lay the whole night long, he was so tired and sad.
Toward morning the wild ducks flew up, and looked at their new mate.
"What sort of a one are you?" they asked; and the Duckling turned about to each, and bowed as well as he could. "You are really very ugly!" said the Wild Ducks. "But that is all the same to us, so long as you do not marry into our family."
Poor thing! he certainly did not think of marrying, and only dared ask leave to lie among the reeds and drink some of the swamp water.
There he lay two whole days; then came thither two wild geese, or, more truly, two wild ganders. It was not long since each had crept out of an egg, and that's why they were so saucy.
"Listen, comrade," said one of them. "You're so ugly that I like you. Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Near here is another moor, where are a few sweet lovely wild geese, all unmarried, and all able to say 'Quack!' You've a chance of making your fortune, ugly as you are."
"Piff! paff!" sounded through the air; and both the ganders fell down dead in the reeds, and the water became blood-red. "Piff! paff!" it sounded again, and the whole flock of wild geese flew up from the reeds. And then there was another report. A great hunt was going on. The gunners lay around in the moor, and some were even sitting up in the branches of the trees, which spread far over the reeds. The blue smoke rose like clouds in among the dark trees, and hung over the water; and the hunting dogs came—splash, splash!—into the mud, and the rushes and reeds bent down on every side. That was a fright for the poor Duckling! He turned his head to put it under his wing; and at that very moment a frightful great dog stood close by the Duckling. His tongue hung far out of his mouth, and his eyes glared horribly. He put his nose close to the Duckling, showed his sharp teeth, and—splash, splash!—on he went without seizing it.
"Oh, Heaven be thanked!" sighed the Duckling. "I am so ugly that even the dog does not like to bite me!"
And so he lay quite quiet, while the shots rattled through the reeds and gun after gun was fired. At last, late in the day, all was still: but the poor little thing did not dare to rise up; he waited several hours still before he looked around, and then hurried away out of the moor as fast as he could. He ran on over field and meadow; there was a storm, so that he had hard work to get away.
IV—IN THE PEASANT'S HUT
Towards evening the Duckling came to a peasant's poor little hut: it was so tumbled down that it did not itself know on which side it should fall; and that's why it stood up. The storm whistled around the Duckling in such a way that he had to sit down to keep from blowing away; and the wind blew worse and worse. Then he noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way, and the door hung so slanting that he could slip through the crack into the room; and that is what he did.
Here lived an old woman, with her Cat and her Hen. And the Cat, whom she called Sonnie, could arch his back and purr; he could even give out sparks—but for that, one had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The Hen had quite small, short legs, and therefore she was called Chickabiddy Shortshanks; she laid good eggs, and the woman loved her as her own child.
In the morning they noticed at once the strange Duckling, and the Cat began to purr and the Hen to cluck.
"What's this?" said the woman, and looked all around; but she could not see well, and therefore she thought the Duckling was a fat duck that had strayed. "This is a rare prize!" she said. "Now I shall have duck's eggs. I hope it is not a drake. We must try that."
And so the Duckling was taken on trial for three weeks, but no eggs came. And the Cat was master of the house, and the Hen was the lady, and always said "We and the world!" for they thought they were half the world, and by far the better half. It seemed to the Duckling that one might have another mind, but the Hen would not allow it.
"Can you lay eggs?"
"Then will you hold your tongue!"
And the Cat said, "Can you curve your back, and purr, and give out sparks?"
"Then you will please have no opinion of your own when sensible folks are speaking!"
And the Duckling sat in a corner and was in low spirits; then he began to think of the fresh air and the sunshine; and he was seized with such a strange longing to swim on the water, that he could not help telling the Hen of it.
"What are you thinking of?" cried the Hen. "You have nothing to do, that's why you have these fancies. Lay eggs, or purr, and they will pass over."
"But it is so charming to swim in the water," said the Duckling, "so nice to feel it go over one's head, and to dive down to the bottom!"
"Yes, that's a fine thing, truly," said the Hen. "You are clean gone crazy. Ask the Cat about it,—he's the cleverest thing I know,—ask him if he likes to swim in the water, or to dive down: I won't speak about myself. Ask our mistress herself, the old woman; no one in the world knows more than she. Do you think she wants to swim, and let the water close above her head?"
"You don't understand me," said the Duckling.
"We don't understand you! Then pray who is to understand you? You surely don't pretend to be cleverer than the Cat and the woman—I won't say anything of myself. Don't make a fool of yourself, child, and thank your Maker for all the good you have. Are you not come into a warm room, and have you not folks about you from whom you can learn something? But you are a goose, and it is not pleasant to have you about. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell you things you won't like, and by that one may always know one's true friends! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr, and to give out sparks!"
"I think I will go out into the wide world," said the Duckling.
"Yes, do go," replied the Hen.
And so the Duckling went away. He swam on the water, and dived, but he was shunned by every creature because he was so ugly.
V—WHAT BECAME OF THE DUCKLING
Now came the fall of the year. The leaves in the wood turned yellow and brown; the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, and on the fence stood the raven, crying "Croak! croak!" for mere cold; yes, one could freeze fast if one thought about it. The poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening—the sun was just going down in fine style—there came a whole flock of great handsome birds out of the bushes; they were shining white, with long, supple necks; they were swans. They uttered a very strange cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that cold region to warmer lands, to fair open lakes. They mounted so high, so high! and the ugly Duckling had such a strange feeling as he saw them! He turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry, so high, so strange, that he was frightened as he heard it.
Oh! he could not forget those beautiful, happy birds; and as soon as he could see them no longer, he dived down to the very bottom, and when he came up again, he was quite beside himself. He did not know what the birds were, nor where they were flying to; but he loved them more than he had ever loved any one. He did not envy them at all. How could he think of wishing to have such loveliness as they had? He would have been glad if only the ducks would have let him be among them—the poor, ugly creature!
And the winter grew so cold, so cold! The Duckling had to swim about in the water, to keep it from freezing over; but every night the hole in which he swam about became smaller and smaller. It froze so hard that the icy cover sounded; and the Duckling had to use his legs all the time to keep the hole from freezing tight. At last he became worn out, and lay quite still, and thus froze fast in the ice.
Early in the morning a peasant came by, and found him there; he took his wooden shoe, broke the ice to pieces, and carried the Duckling home to his wife. Then the Duckling came to himself again. The children wanted to play with him; but he thought they wanted to hurt him, and in his terror he flew up into the milk-pan, so that the milk spilled over into the room. The woman screamed and shook her hand in the air, at which the Duckling flew down into the tub where they kept the butter, and then into the meal-barrel and out again. How he looked then! The woman screamed, and struck at him with the fire tongs; the children tumbled over one another as they tried to catch the Duckling; and they laughed and they screamed!—well was it that the door stood open, and the poor creature was able to slip out between the bushes into the newly-fallen snow—there he lay quite worn out.
But it would be too sad if I were to tell all the misery and care which the Duckling had to bear in the hard winter. He lay out on the moor among the reeds, when the sun began to shine again and the larks to sing; it was a beautiful spring.
Then all at once the Duckling could flap his wings: they beat the air more strongly than before, and bore him stoutly away; and before he well knew it, he found himself in a great garden, where the elder-trees stood in flower, and bent their long green branches down to the winding canal, and the lilacs smelt sweet. Oh, here it was beautiful, fresh, and springlike! and from the thicket came three glorious white swans; they rustled their wings, and sat lightly on the water. The Duckling knew the splendid creatures, and felt a strange sadness.
"I will fly away to them, to the royal birds! and they will beat me, because I, that am so ugly, dare to come near them. But it is all the same. Better to be killed by them than to be chased by ducks, and beaten by fowls, and pushed about by the girl who takes care of the poultry yard, and to suffer hunger in winter!" And he flew out into the water, and swam toward the beautiful swans: these looked at him, and came sailing down upon him with outspread wings. "Kill me!" said the poor creature, and bent his head down upon the water, and waited for death. But what saw he in the clear water? He saw below him his own image; and lo! it was no longer a clumsy dark-gray bird, ugly and hateful to look at, but—a swan!
It matters nothing if one is born in a duck-yard, if one has only lain in a swan's egg.
He felt quite glad at all the need and hard times he had borne; now he could joy in his good luck in all the brightness that was round him. And the great swans swam round him and stroked him with their beaks.
Into the garden came little children, who threw bread and corn into the water; and the youngest cried, "There is a new one!" and the other children shouted, "Yes, a new one has come!" And they clapped their hands and danced about, and ran to their father and mother; and bread and cake were thrown into the water; and they all said, "The new one is the most beautiful of all! so young and so handsome!" and the old swans bowed their heads before him.
Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings, for he did not know what to do; he was so happy, and yet not at all proud, for a good heart is never proud. He thought how he had been driven about and mocked and despised; and now he heard them all saying that he was the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. And the lilacs bent their branches straight down into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and mild. Then his wings rustled, he lifted his slender neck, and cried from the depths of his heart:—
"I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the Ugly Duckling."
WHAT THE MOON SAW
Hear what the Moon told me:—
"I have seen a cadet promoted to be an officer, and dressing himself for the first time in his gorgeous uniform; I have seen young girls in bridal attire, and the prince's young bride in her wedding dress: but I never saw such bliss as that of a little four-year-old girl whom I watched this evening. She had got a new blue dress, and a new pink hat. The finery was just put on, and all were calling for light, for the moonbeams that came through the window were not bright enough. They wanted very different lights from that. There stood the little girl, stiff as a doll, keeping her arms anxiously off her dress, and her fingers stretched wide apart. Oh! what happiness beamed from her eyes, from her whole face. 'To-morrow you may go to walk in the dress,' said the mother; and the little one looked up at her hat and down again at her dress, and smiled blissfully. 'Mother,' she cried, 'what will the little dogs think when they see me in all these fine clothes?'"
From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
The Top and the Ball lay in a drawer among some other toys; and so the Top said to the Ball:—"Shall we not be lovers, since we live together in the same drawer?"
But the Ball, which had a coat of morocco leather, and thought herself as good as any fine lady, had nothing to say to such a thing. The next day came the little boy who owned the toys: he painted the Top red and yellow, and drove a brass nail into it; and the Top looked splendidly when he turned round.
"Look at me!" he cried to the Ball. "What do you say now? Shall we not be lovers? We go so nicely together? You jump and I dance! No one could be happier than we two should be."
"Indeed! Do you think so?" said the Ball. "Perhaps you do not know that my papa and my mamma were morocco slippers, and that I have a cork inside me?"
"Yes, but I am made of mahogany," said the Top; "and the mayor himself turned me. He has a turning-lathe of his own, and it amuses him greatly."
"Can I depend on that?" asked the Ball.
"May I never be whipped again if it is not true!" replied the Top.
"You talk well for yourself," said the Ball, "but I cannot do what you ask. I am as good as half engaged to a swallow: every time I leap up into the air he sticks his head out of the nest and says, 'Will you? will you?' And now I have silently said 'Yes,' and that is as good as being half engaged; but I promise I will never forget you."
"Much good that will do!" said the Top.
And they spoke no more to each other.
Next day the Ball was taken out. The Top saw how she flew high into the air, like a bird; at last one could no longer see her. Each time she came back again, but always gave a high leap when she touched the earth; and that came about either from her longing, or because she had a cork in her body. The ninth time the Ball stayed away and did not come back again; and the boy looked and looked, but she was gone.
"I know very well where she is!" sighed the Top. "She is in the Swallow's nest, and has married the Swallow!"
The more the Top thought of this, the more he longed for the Ball. Just because he could not get her, he fell more in love with her. That she had taken some one else, that was another thing. So the Top danced around and hummed, but always thought of the Ball, which grew more and more lovely in his fancy. Thus many years went by,—and now it was an old love.
And the Top was no longer young. But one day he was gilt all over; never had he looked so handsome; he was now a golden Top, and sprang till he hummed again. Yes, that was something! But all at once he sprang too high, and—he was gone!
They looked and looked, even in the cellar, but he was not to be found.
Where was he?
He had jumped into the dust-box, where all kinds of things were lying: cabbage stalks, sweepings, and gravel that had fallen down from the roof.
"Here's a nice place to lie in! The gilding will soon leave me here. And what a rabble I've come amongst!"
And then he looked askance at a long cabbage stalk that was much too near him, and at a curious round thing like an old apple; but it was not an apple—it was an old Ball, which had lain for years in the roof-gutter and was soaked through with water.
"Thank goodness, here comes one of us, with whom one can talk!" said the little Ball, and looked at the gilt Top. "I am really morocco, sewn by a girl's hands, and have a cork inside me; but no one would think it to look at me. I was very near marrying a swallow, but I fell into the gutter on the roof, and have laid there full five years, and am quite soaked through. That's a long time, you may believe me, for a young girl."
But the Top said nothing. He thought of his old love; and the more he heard, the clearer it became to him that this was she. Then came the servant-girl, and wanted to empty the dust-box. "Aha, there's a gilt top!" she cried. And so the Top was brought again to notice and honor, but nothing was heard of the Ball. And the Top spoke no more of his old love: for that dies away when the beloved has lain for five years in a gutter and got soaked through; yes, one does not know her again when one meets her in the dust-box.
THE SNOW QUEEN
From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
FOURTH STORY—THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS
Gerda was obliged to rest herself again, when just over against where she sat, a large Crow hopped over the white snow. He had sat there a long while, looking at her and shaking his head; and now he said, "Caw! caw! Good day! good day!" He could not say it better; but he meant well by the little girl, and asked her where she was going all alone out in the wide world. The word "alone" Gerda understood quite well, and felt how much lay in it; so she told the Crow her whole history, and asked if he had not seen Kay.
The Crow nodded very gravely, and said, "It may be—it may be!"
"What—do you really think so?" cried the little girl; and she nearly squeezed the Crow to death, so much did she kiss him.
"Gently, gently," said the Crow. "I think I know; I think that it may be little Kay. But now he has quite forgotten you for the Princess."
"Does he live with a princess?" asked Gerda.
"Yes,—listen," said the Crow; "but it is hard for me to speak your language. If you understand the Crow language, I can tell you better."
"No, I have not learnt it," said Gerda; "but my grandmother understands it. I wish I had learnt it."
"No matter," said the Crow: "I will tell you as well as I can; but it will be bad enough." And then he told all he knew.
"In the kingdom where we now are, there lives a princess, who is vastly clever; for she has read all the newspapers in the whole world, and has forgotten them again,—so clever is she. Some time ago, they say, she was sitting on her throne,—which is no great fun, after all,—when she began humming an old tune, and it was just 'Oh, why should I not be married?' 'Come, now, there is something in that,' said she, and so then she was bound to marry; but she would have a husband who knew how to give an answer when he was spoken to,—not one who was good for nothing but to stand and be looked at, for that is very tiresome. She then had all the ladies of the court drummed together; and when they heard what she meant to do, all were well pleased, and said, 'We are quite glad to hear it: it is the very thing we were thinking of.' You may believe every word I say," said the Crow, "for I have a tame sweetheart that hops about in the palace quite freely, and she told me all.
"The newspapers at once came out with a border of hearts and the initials of the Princess; and you could read in them that every good-looking young man was free to come to the palace and speak to the Princess; and he who spoke in such wise as showed he felt himself at home there, and talked best, that one the Princess would choose for her husband.
"Yes—yes," said the Crow, "you may believe it; it is as true as I am sitting here. People came in crowds; there was a crush and a hurry, but no one had good luck either on the first or second day. They could all talk well enough when they were out in the street; but as soon as they came inside the palace gates, and saw the guard richly dressed in silver, and the lackeys in gold, on the staircase, and the large lighted halls, then they were dumb; and when they stood before the throne on which the Princess was sitting, all they could do was to repeat the last word she had said, and she didn't care to hear that again. It was just as if the people within were under a charm, and had fallen into a trance till they came out again into the street; for then—oh, then they could chatter enough. There was a whole row of them from the town gates to the palace. I was there myself to look on," said the Crow. "They grew hungry and thirsty; but from the palace they got not so much as a glass of water. Some of the cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with them; but none shared it with his neighbor, for each thought, 'Let him look hungry, and then the Princess won't have him.'"
"But Kay—little Kay," asked Gerda, "when did he come? Was he among the number?"
"Give me time! give me time! we are coming to him. It was on the third day, when a little personage, without horse or carriage, came marching right boldly up to the palace; his eyes shone like yours, he had beautiful long hair, but his clothes were very shabby."
"That was Kay," cried Gerda, with a voice of delight. "Oh, now I've found him!" and she clapped her hands.
"He had a little knapsack at his back," said the Crow.
"No, that was certainly his sled," said Gerda; "for he went away with his sled."
"That may be," said the Crow; "I did not see him close to; but I know from my tame sweetheart that when he came into the courtyard of the palace, and saw the body-guard in silver, and the lackeys on the staircase in gold, he was not in the least cast down; he nodded and said to them, 'It must be very tiresome to stand on the stairs; for my part, I shall go in.' The halls were bright with lights. Court people and fine folks were walking about on bare feet; it was all very solemn. His boots creaked, too, very loudly; but still he was not at all afraid."
"That's Kay, for certain," said Gerda. "I know he had on new boots; I have heard them creaking in grandmamma's room."
"Yes, they creaked," said the Crow. "And on he went boldly up to the Princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning-wheel. All the ladies of the court stood about, with their maids and their maids' maids, and all the gentlemen with their servants and their servants' servants, who kept a boy; and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked. The boy of the servants' servants, who always goes in slippers, hardly looked at one, so very proudly did he stand in the doorway."
"It must have been terrible," said little Gerda. "And did Kay get the Princess?"
"Were I not a Crow, I should have taken the Princess myself, although I am engaged. It is said he spoke as well as I speak when I talk crow language; this I learned from my tame sweetheart. He was bold and nicely behaved; he had not come to woo the Princess, but only to hear her wisdom. She pleased him and he pleased her."
"Yes, yes, for certain that was Kay," said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could do sums with fractions. Oh, won't you take me to the palace?"
"That is very easily said," answered the Crow. "But how are we to manage it? I'll speak to my tame sweetheart about it; she can tell us what to do; for so much I must tell you, such a little girl as you are will never get leave to go in the common way."
"Oh, yes, I shall," said Gerda: "when Kay hears that I am here, he will come out at once to fetch me."
"Wait for me here on these steps," said the Crow. He wagged his head and flew away.
When it grew dark the Crow came back. "Caw! caw!" said he. "I bring you a great many good wishes from her; and here is a bit of bread for you. She took it out of the kitchen, where there is bread enough, and you are hungry, no doubt. It is not possible for you to enter the palace, for you are barefoot; the guards in silver and the lackeys in gold would not allow it: but do not cry, you shall come in still. My sweetheart knows a little back stair that leads to the chamber, and she knows where she can get the key of it."
And they went into the garden by the broad path, where one leaf was falling after the other; and when the lights in the palace were all put out, one after the other, the Crow led little Gerda to the back door, which stood ajar.
Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with doubt and longing! It was just as if she had been about to do something wrong; and yet she only wanted to know if little Kay was there. Yes, he must be there. She called to mind his clear eyes and his long hair so vividly, she could quite see him as he used to laugh when they were sitting under the roses at home. He would surely be glad to see her—to hear what a long way she had come for his sake; to know how unhappy all at home were when he did not come back. Oh, what a fright and what a joy it was!
Now they were on the stairs. A single lamp was burning there; and on the floor stood the tame Crow, turning her head on every side and looking at Gerda, who bowed as her grandmother had taught her to do.
"My intended has told me so much good of you, my dear young lady," said the tame Crow. "Your Life, as they call it, is very affecting. If you will take the lamp, I will go before. We will go straight on, for we shall meet no one."
"I think there is somebody just behind us," said Gerda; and it rushed past her. It was like shadows on the wall: horses with flowing manes and thin legs, huntsmen, ladies and gentlemen on horseback.
"They are only dreams," said the Crow. "They come to fetch the thoughts of the fine folk to the chase; 'tis well, for now you can see them asleep all the better. But let me find, when you come to have honor and fame, that you possess a grateful heart."