ESSAYS ON SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE
HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN
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BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Goethe and Schiller. Their Lives and Works; with a commentary on "Faust." Essays on German Literature. Essays on Scandinavian Literature. A Commentary on the Writings of Henrik Ibsen. Literary and Social Silhouettes. The Story of Norway. Gunnar. Tales from Two Hemispheres. A Norseman's Pilgrimage. Falconberg. A Novel. Queen Titania. Ilka on the Hill-top, and Other Tales. A Daughter of the Philistines. The Light of Her Countenance. Vagabond Tales. The Mammon of Unrighteousness. The Golden Calf. Social Strugglers. Idyls of Norway, and Other Poems.
THE NORSELAND SERIES (JUVENILE).
The Modern Vikings: Stories of Life and Sport in the Northland. Against Heavy Odds, and A Fearless Trio. Boyhood in Norway. Norseland Tales.
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ESSAYS ON SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE
HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures in Columbia College
London David Nutt, 270, Strand 1895.
Copyright, 1895, by Charles Scribner's Sons for the United States of America Printed by the Trow Directory, Printing and Bookbinding Company New York, U. S. A.
Some twenty years ago the ambition seized me to write a History of Scandinavian Literature. I scarcely realized then what an enormous amount of reading would be required to equip me for this task. My studies naturally led me much beyond the scope of my original intention. There was a fascination in the work which lured me perpetually on, and made me explore with a constantly increasing zest the great literary personalities of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Thus my chapter on Henrik Ibsen grew into a book of three hundred and seventeen pages, which was published a year ago, and must be regarded as supplementary to the present volume. The chapter on Bjoernstjerne Bjoernson was in danger of expanding to similar proportions, and only the most heroic condensation saved it from challenging criticism as an independent work. As regards Norway and Denmark, I have endeavored to select all the weightiest and most representative names. The Swedish authors Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Mrs. Edgren, and August Strindberg, and the Dane Oehlenschlaeger, necessity has compelled me to reserve for a future volume.
COLUMBIA COLLEGE, NEW YORK,
BJORNSTJERNE BJORNSON, 3
ALEXANDER KIELLAND, 107
JONAS LIE, 121
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, 155
CONTEMPORARY DANISH LITERATURE, 181
GEORG BRANDES, 199
ESAIAS TEGNER, 219
Bjoernstjerne Bjoernson is the first Norwegian poet who can in any sense be called national. The national genius, with its limitations as well as its virtues, has found its living embodiment in him. Whenever he opens his mouth it is as if the nation itself were speaking. If he writes a little song, hardly a year elapses before its phrases have passed into the common speech of the people; composers compete for the honor of interpreting it in simple, Norse-sounding melodies, which gradually work their way from the drawing-room to the kitchen, the street, and thence out over the wide fields and highlands of Norway. His tales, romances, and dramas express collectively the supreme result of the nation's experience, so that no one to-day can view Norwegian life or Norwegian history except through their medium. The bitterest opponent of the poet (for like every strong personality he has many enemies) is thus no less his debtor than his warmest admirer. His speech has stamped itself upon the very language and given it a new ring, a deeper resonance. His thought fills the air, and has become the unconscious property of all who have grown to manhood and womanhood since the day when his titanic form first loomed up on the horizon of the North. It is not only as their first and greatest poet that the Norsemen love and hate him, but also as a civilizer in the widest sense. But like Kadmus, in Greek myth, he has not only brought with him letters, but also the dragon-teeth of strife, which it is to be hoped will not sprout forth in armed men.
A man's ancestry and environment, no doubt, account in a superficial manner for his appearance and mental characteristics. Having the man, we are able to trace the germs of his being in the past of his race and his country; but, with all our science we have not yet acquired the ingenuity to predict the man—to deduce him a priori from the tangle of determining causes which enveloped his birth. It seems beautifully appropriate in the Elder Edda that the god-descended hero Helge the Voelsung should be born amid gloom and terror in a storm which shakes the house, while the Norns—the goddesses of fate—proclaim in the tempest his tempestuous career. Equally satisfactory it appears to have the modern champion of Norway—the typical modern Norseman—born on the bleak and wild Dovre Mountain, where there is winter eight months of the year and cold weather during the remaining four. The parish of Kvikne, in Oesterdalen, where his father, the Reverend Peder Bjoernson, held a living, had a bad reputation on account of the unruly ferocity and brutal violence of the inhabitants. One of the Reverend Peder Bjoernson's recent predecessors never went into his pulpit, unarmed; and another fled for his life. The peasants were not slow in intimating to the new pastor that they meant to have him mind his own business and conform to the manners and customs of the parish; but there they reckoned without their host. The reverend gentleman made short work of the opposition. He enforced the new law of compulsory education without heeding its unpopularity; and when the champion fighter of the valley came as the peasants' spokesman to take him to task in summary fashion, he found himself, before he was aware of it, at the bottom of the stairs, where he picked himself up wonderingly and promptly took to his heels.
 December 8, 1832.
During the winter the snow reached up to the second-story windows of the parsonage; and the servants had to tunnel their way to the storehouse and the stables. The cold was so intense that the little Bjoernstjerne thought twice before touching a door knob, as his fingers were liable to stick to the metal. When he was six years old, however, his father was transferred to Romsdal, which is, indeed, a wild and grandly picturesque region; but far less desolate than Dovre. "It lies," says Bjoernson, "broad—bosomed between two confluent fjords, with a green mountain above, cataracts and homesteads on the opposite shore, waving meadows and activity in the bottom of the valley; and all the way out toward the ocean, mountains with headland upon headland running out into the fjord and a large farm upon each."
The feeling of terror, the crushing sense of guilt which Bjoernson has so strikingly portrayed in the first chapters of "In God's Way," were familiar to his own childhood. In every life, as in every race, the God of fear precedes the God of love. And in Northern Norway, where nature seems so tremendous and man so insignificant, no boy escapes these phantoms of dread which clutch him with icy fingers. But as a counterbalancing force in the young Bjoernson, we have his confidence in the strength and good sense of his gigantic father, who could thrash the strongest champion in the parish. He used to stand in the evening on the beach "and gaze at the play of the sunshine upon fjord and mountain, until he wept, as if he had done something wrong. Now he would suddenly stop in this or that valley, while running on skees, and stand spell-bound by its beauty and a longing which he could not comprehend, but which was so great that in the midst of the highest joy he was keenly conscious of a sense of confinement and sorrow." "We catch a glimpse in these childish memories," says Mr. Nordahl Rolfsen, "of the remarkable character, we are about to depict: Being the son of a giant, he is ever ready to strike out with a heavy hand, when he thinks that anyone is encroaching upon what he deems the right. But this same pugnacious man, whom it is so hard to overcome, can be overwhelmed by an emotion and surrender himself to it with his whole being."
 Nordahl Rolfsen: Norske Digtere, pp. 450, 451.
At the age of twelve Bjoernson was sent to the Latin school at Molde, where, however, his progress was not encouraging. He was one of those thoroughly healthy and headstrong boys who are the despair of ambitious mothers, and whom fathers (when the futility of educational chastisement has been finally proved) are apt to regard with a resigned and half-humorous regret. His dislike of books was instinctive, hearty, and uncompromising. His strong, half-savage boy-nature could brook no restraints, and looked longingly homeward to the wide mountain plains, the foaming rivers where the trout leaped in the summer night, and the calm fjord where you might drift blissfully along, as it were, suspended in the midst of the vast, blue, ethereal space. And when the summer vacation came, with its glorious freedom and irresponsibility, he would roam at his own sweet will through forest and field, until hunger and fatigue forced him to return to his father's parsonage.
After several years of steadily unsuccessful study, Bjoernson at last passed the so-called examen artium, which admitted him to the University of Christiania. He was now a youth of large, almost athletic frame, with a handsome, striking face, and a pair of blue eyes which no one is apt to forget who has ever looked into them. There was a certain grand simplicity and naivete in his manner, and an exuberance of animal spirits which must have made him an object of curious interest among his town-bred fellow-students. But his University career was of brief duration. All the dimly fermenting powers of his rich nature were now beginning to clarify, the consciousness of his calling began to assert itself, and the demand for expression became imperative. His literary debut was an historic drama entitled "Valborg," which was accepted for representation by the directors of the Christiania Theatre, and procured for its author a free ticket to all theatrical performances; it was, however, never brought on the stage, as Bjoernson, having had his eyes opened to its defects, withdrew it of his own accord.
At this time the Norwegian stage was almost entirely in the hands of the Danes, and all the more prominent actors were of Danish birth. Theatrical managers drew freely on the dramatic treasures of Danish literature, and occasionally, to replenish the exchequer, reproduced a French comedy or farce, whose epigrammatic pith and vigor were more than half-spoiled in the translation. The drama was as yet an exotic in Norway; it had no root in the national soil, and could accordingly in no respect represent the nation's own struggles and aspirations. The critics themselves, no doubt, looked upon it merely as a form of amusement, a thing to be wondered and stared at, and to be dismissed from the mind as soon as the curtain dropped. Bjoernson, whose patriotic soul could not endure the thought of this abject foreign dependence, ascribed all the existing abuses to the predominance of the Danish element, and in a series of vehement articles attacked the Danish actors, managers, and all who were in any way responsible for the unworthy condition of the national stage. In return he reaped, as might have been expected, an abundant harvest of abuse, but the discussion he had provoked furnished food for reflection, and the rapid development of the Norwegian drama during the next decade is, no doubt, largely traceable to his influence.
The liberty for which he had yearned so long, Bjoernson found at the International Students' Reunion of 1856. Then the students of the Norwegian and Danish Universities met in Upsala, where they were received with grand festivities by their Swedish brethren. Here the poet caught the first glimpse of a greater and freer life than moved within the narrow horizon of the Norwegian capital. This gay and careless student-life, this cheerful abandonment of all the artificial shackles which burden one's feet in their daily walk through a bureaucratic society, the temporary freedom which allows one without offence to toast a prince and hug a count to one's bosom—all this had its influence upon Bjoernson's sensitive nature; it filled his soul with a happy intoxication and with confidence in his own strength. And having once tasted a life like this he could no more return to what he had left behind him.
The next winter we find him in Copenhagen, laboring with an intensity of creative ardor which he had never known before. His striking appearance, the pithy terseness of his speech, and a certain naive self-assertion and impatience of social restraints made him a notable figure in the polite and somewhat effeminate society of the Danish capital. There was a general expectation at that time that a great poet was to come, and although Bjoernson had as yet published nothing to justify the expectation, he found the public of Copenhagen ready to recognize in him the man who was to rouse the North from its long intellectual torpor, and usher in a new era in its literature. It is needless to say that he did not discourage this belief, for he himself fervently believed that he would before long justify it. The first proof of his strength he gave in the tale "Synnoeve Solbakken" (Synnoeve Sunny-Hill), which he published in an illustrated weekly, and afterward in book-form. It is a very unpretending little story, idyllic in tone, but realistic in its coloring, and redolent of the pine and spruce and birch of the Norwegian highlands.
It had been the fashion in Norway since the nation regained its independence to interest one's self in a lofty, condescending way in the life of the peasantry. A few well-meaning persons, like the poet Wergeland, had labored zealously for their enlightenment and the improvement of their economic condition; but, except in the case of such single individuals, no real and vital sympathy and fellow-feeling had ever existed between the upper and the lower strata of Norwegian society. And as long as the fellow-feeling is wanting, this zeal for enlightenment, however laudable its motive, is not apt to produce lasting results. The peasants view with distrust and suspicion whatever comes to them from their social superiors, and the so-called "useful books," which were scattered broadcast over the land, were of a tediously didactic character, and, moreover, hardly adapted to the comprehension of those to whom they were ostensibly addressed. Wergeland himself, with all his self-sacrificing ardor, had but a vague conception of the real needs of the people, and, as far as results were concerned, wasted much of his valuable life in his efforts to improve, edify and instruct them. It hardly occurred to him that the culture of which he and his colleagues were the representatives was itself a foreign importation, and could not by any violent process be ingrafted upon the national trunk, which drew its strength from centuries of national life, history, and tradition. That this peasantry, whom the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy of culture had been wont to regard with half-pitying condescension, were the real representatives of the Norse nation; that they had preserved through long years of tyranny and foreign oppression the historic characteristics of their Norse forefathers, while the upper classes had gone in search of strange gods, and bowed their necks to the foreign yoke; that in their veins the old strong saga-life was still throbbing with vigorous pulse-beats—this was the lesson which Bjoernson undertook to teach his countrymen, and a very fruitful lesson it has proved to be. It has inspired the people with renewed courage, it has turned the national life into fresh channels, and it has revolutionized national politics.
To be sure all this was not the result of the idyllic little tale which marked the beginning of his career. But this little tale, although no trace of what the Germans call "tendency" is to be found in it, is still significant as being the poet's first indirect manifesto, and as such distinctly foreshadowing the path which he has since followed.
First, in its purely literary aspect, "Synnoeve Solbakken" was strikingly novel. The author did not, as his predecessors had done, view the people from the exalted pedestal of superior culture; not as a subject for benevolent preaching and charitable condescension, but as a concrete phenomenon, whose raison d'etre was as absolute and indisputable as that of the bourgeoisie or the bureaucracy itself. He depicted their soul-struggles and the incidents of their daily life with a loving minuteness and a vivid realism hitherto unequalled in the literature of the North. He did not, like Auerbach, construct his peasant figures through laborious reflection, nor did he attempt by anxious psychological analysis to initiate the reader into their processes of thought and emotion. He simply depicted them as he saw and knew them. Their feelings and actions have their immediate, self-evident motives in the characters themselves, and the absence of analysis on the author's part gives an increased energy and movement to the story.
Mr. Nordahl Rolfsen relates, a propos of the reception which was accorded Bjoernson's first book, the following amusing anecdote:
"'Synnoeve Solbakken' was printed, and its author was anxious to have his friends read it. But not one of them could be prevailed upon. At last a comrade was found who was persuaded to attack it on the promise of a bottle of punch. He entered Bjoernson's den, got a long pipe which he filled with tobacco, undressed himself completely—for it was a hot day—flung himself on the bed, and began to read. Bjoernson sat in the sofa, breathless with expectation. Leaf after leaf was turned; not a smile, not a single encouraging word! The young poet had good reason to regard the battle as lost. At last the pipe, the bottle, and the book were finished. Then the merciless Stoic rose and began to dress, and the following little exclamation escaped him: 'That is, the devil take me, the best book I have read in all my life.'"
Bjoernson's style was no less novel than his theme. It may or it may not have been consciously modelled after the saga style, to which, however, it bears an obvious resemblance. In his early childhood, while he lived among the peasants, he became familiar with their mode of thought and speech, and it entered into his being, and became his own natural mode of expression. There is in his daily conversation a certain grim directness, and a laconic weightiness, which give an air of importance and authority even to his simplest utterances. This tendency to compression frequently has the effect of obscurity, not because his thought is obscure, but rather because energetic brevity of expression has fallen into disuse, and even a Norse public, long accustomed to the wordy diffuseness of latter-day bards, have in part lost the faculty to comprehend the genius of their own language. As a Danish critic wittily observed: "Bjoernson's language is but one step removed from pantomime."
In 1858 Bjoernson assumed the directorship of the theatre in Bergen, and there published his second tale, "Arne," in which the same admirable self-restraint, the same implicit confidence in the intelligence of his reader, the same firm-handed decision and vigor in the character-drawing, in fact, all the qualities which delighted the public in "Synnoeve Solbakken," were found in an intensified degree.
In the meanwhile, Bjoernson had also made his debut as a dramatist. In the year 1858 he had published two dramas, "Mellem Slagene" (Between the Battles) and "Halte-Hulda" (Limping Hulda) both of which deal with national subjects, taken from the old sagas. As in his tales he had endeavored to concentrate into a few strongly defined types the modern folk-life of the North, so in his dramas the same innate love of his nationality leads him to seek the typical features of his people, as they are revealed in the historic chieftains of the past.
"Between the Battles" is a dramatic episode rather than a drama. During the civil war between King Sverre and King Magnus in the twelfth century, the former visits in disguise a hut upon the mountains where a young warrior, Halvard Gjaela and Inga, his beloved, are living together. The long internecine strife has raised the hand of father against son, and of brother against brother. Halvard sympathizes with Sverre; Inga, who hates the king because he has burned her father's farm, is a partisan of Magnus. In the absence of her lover she goes to the latter's camp and brings back with her a dozen warriors for the purpose of capturing Halvard, and thereby preventing him from joining the enemy. Sverre discovers the warriors, whom she has hidden in the cow-stable, and persuading them that he is a spy for King Magnus sends two of them to his own army for reinforcements. In the meanwhile he reconciles the estranged lovers, makes peace between them and Inga's father, and finally, in the last scene, as his men arrive, is recognized as the king.
This is, of course, a venerable coup de theatre. Whatever novelty there is in the play must be sought, not in the situations, but in the pithy and laconic dialogue, which has a distinct national coloring. This was not the amiable diffuseness of Oehlenschlaeger, who had hitherto dominated the Norwegian as well as the Danish stage; and yet it did not by any means represent so complete a breach with the traditions of the romantic drama as was claimed by Bjoernson's admirers. The fresh naturalness and absence of declamation were a gain, no doubt; but there are yet several notes remaining which have the well-known romantic cadence. "Between the Battles," though too slight to be called an achievement, was accepted as a pledge of achievement in future.
Bjoernson's next drama "Limping Hulda" ("Halte-Hulda") (1858) was a partial fulfilment of this pledge. If it is not high tragedy, in the ancient sense, it is of the stuff that tragedy is made of. Hulda is an impressive stage figure in her demoniac passion and tiger-like tenderness. Though I doubt if Bjoernson has, in this type, caught the soul of a Norse woman of the saga age, he has come much nearer to catching it than any of his predecessors. If Gudrun Osvif's Daughter, of the Laxdoela Saga, was his model, he has modernized her considerably, and thereby made her more intelligible to modern readers. Like her, Hulda causes the murder of the man she loves; and there is a fateful spell about her beauty which brings death to whomsoever looks too long upon it. Though ostensibly a saga-drama, the harshness and grim ferocity of that sanguinary period are softened; and a romantic illumination pervades the whole action. A certain lyrical effusiveness in the love passages (which is alien to all Bjoernson's later works) hints at the influence of the Danish Romanticists, and particularly Oehlenschlaeger.
It would be unfair, perhaps, to take the author to task because this youthful drama exhibits no remarkable subtlety in its conception of character. It contains no really great living figure who stands squarely upon his feet and lingers in the memory. A certain half-rhetorical impulse carries you along; and the external effectiveness of the situations keeps the interest on the alert. For all that "Limping Hulda," like its predecessors and its successors, tended to stimulate powerfully the national spirit, which was then asserting itself in every department of intellectual activity. Thus a national theatre had, by the perseverance and generosity of Ole Bull, been established in his native city, Bergen; and it was almost a matter of course that an effort should be made to identify Bjoernson with an enterprise which accorded so well with his own aspirations. His connection with the Norwegian Theatre of Bergen was, however, not of long duration, for though your enthusiasm may be ever so great it is a thankless task to act as "artistic director" of a stage in a town which is neither artistic enough nor large enough to support a playhouse with a higher aim than that of furnishing ephemeral amusement. From Bergen he was called to the editorship of Aftenbladet (The Evening Journal), the second political daily of Christiania, and continued there with hot zeal and eloquence his battle for "all that is truly Norse."
But a brief experience sufficed to convince him that daily journalism was not his forte. He was and is too indiscreet, precipitate, credulous, and inconsiderately generous to be a successful editor. If a paper could be conducted on purely altruistic principles, and without reference to profits, there would be no man fitter to occupy an editorial chair. For as an inspiring force, as a radiating focus of influence, his equal is not to be encountered "in seven kingdoms round." However, this inspiring force could reach a far larger public through published books than through the columns of a newspaper. It was therefore by no means in a regretful frame of mind that he descended from the editorial tripod, and in the spring of 1860 started for Italy. Previous to his departure he published, through the famous house of Gyldendal, in Copenhagen, a volume which, it is no exaggeration to say, has become a classic of Norwegian literature. It bears the modest title "Smaa-stykker" (Small Pieces), but it contains, in spite of its unpretentiousness, some of Bjoernson's noblest work. I need only mention the masterly tale "The Father," with its sobriety and serene strength. I know but one other instance of so great tragedy, told in so few and simple words. "Arne," "En Glad Gut" (A Happy Boy), and the amusing dialect story, "Ei Faarleg Friing" (A Dangerous Wooing), also belong to this delightful collection. These little masterpieces of concise story-telling have been included in the popular two-volume edition of "Fortaellinger," which contains also "The Fisher-maiden" (1867-68), the exquisite story, "The Bridal March" (1872), originally written as text to three of Tidemand's paintings, and a vigorous bit of disguised autobiography, "Blakken," of which not the author but a horse is the ostensible hero.
 Austin Dobson's poem, "The Cradle."
The descriptive name for all these tales, except the last, is idyl. It was, indeed, the period when all Europe (outside the British empire) was viewing the hardy sons of the soil through poetic spectacles. In Germany Auerbach had, in his "Black Forest Village Tales" (1843, 1853, 1854), discarded the healthful but unflattering realism of Jeremias Gotthelf (1797-1854), and chosen, with a half-didactic purpose, to contrast the peasant's honest rudeness and straightforwardness with the refined sophistication and hypocrisy of the higher classes. George Sand, with her beautiful Utopian genius, poured forth a torrent of rural narrative of a crystalline limpidity ("Mouny Robin," "La Mare au Diable," "La Petite Fadette," etc., 1841-1849), which is as far removed from the turbid stream of Balzac ("Les Paysans") and Zola ("La Terre"), as Paradise is from the Inferno. There is an echo of Rousseau's gospel of nature in all these tales, and the same optimistic delusion regarding "the people" for which the eighteenth century paid so dearly. The painters likewise caught the tendency, and with the same thorough-going conscientiousness as their brethren of the quill, disguised coarseness as strength, bluntness as honesty, churlishness as dignity. What an idyllic sweetness there is, for instance, in Tidemand's scenes of Norwegian peasant life! What a spirituelle and movingly sentimental note in the corresponding German scenes of Knaus and Huebner, and, longo intervallo, Meyerheim and Meyer von Bremen. Not a breath of the broad humor of Teniers and Van Ostade in these masters; scarcely a hint of the robust animality and clownish jollity with which the clear-sighted Dutchmen endowed their rural revellers. Though pictorial art has not, outside of Russia (where the great and unrivalled Riepin paints the peasant with the brush as remorselessly as Tolstoi and Dostoyefski with the pen), kept pace with the realistic movement in literature, yet there is no lack of evidence that the rose-colored tinge is vanishing even from the painter's spectacles; and such uncompromising veracity as that of Millet and Courbet, which the past generation despised, is now hailed with acclaim in such masters as Bastien-Lepage, Dagnan-Bouveret, and the Scandinavians, Kristian Krog and Anders Zorn.
Bjoernson is, however, temperamentally averse to that modern naturalism which insists upon a minute fidelity to fact without reference to artistic values. His large and spacious mind has a Southern exposure, and has all "its windows thrown wide open to the sun." A sturdy optimism, which is prone to believe good of all men, unless they happen to be his political antagonists, inclines him to overlook what does not fit into his own scheme of existence. And yet no one can say that, as presentations of Norwegian peasant life, "Synnoeve," "Arne," "The Bridal March," etc., are untrue, though, indeed, one could well imagine pictures in very much sombrer colors which might lay a valider claim to veracity. Kielland's "Laboring People," and Kristian Elster's "A Walk to the Cross" and "Kjeld Horge," give the reverse of the medal of which Bjoernson exhibits the obverse. These authors were never in any way identified with "the people," and could not help being struck with many of the rude and unbeautiful phases of rural existence; while Bjoernson, who sprang directly from the peasantry, had the pride and intelligence of kinship, and was not yet lifted far enough above the life he depicted to have acquired the cultivated man's sense of condescension and patronizing benevolence. He was but one generation removed from the soil; and he looked with a strong natural sympathy and affectionate predilection upon whatever reminded him of this origin. If he had been a peasant, however, he could never have become the wonderful chronicler that he is. It is the elevation, slight though it be, which enables him to survey the fields in which his fathers toiled and suffered. Or, to quote Mr. Rolfsen: "Bjoernson is the son of a clergyman; he has never himself personally experienced the peasant's daily toil and narrow parochial vision. He has felt the power of the mountains over his mind, and been filled with longing, as a grand emotion, but the contractedness of the spiritual horizon has not tormented him. He has not to take that into account when he writes. During the tedious school-days, his beautiful Romsdal valley lay waiting for him, beckoning him home at every vacation—always alluring and radiant, with an idyllic shimmer."
Hence, no doubt, his sunny poetic vision which unconsciously idealizes. Just as in daily intercourse he displays a positive genius for drawing out what is good in a man, and brushes away as of small account what does not accord with his own conception of him, nay, in a measure, forces him to be as he believes him to be, so every character in these early tales seems to bask in the genial glow of his optimism. The farm Solbakken (Sunny Hill) lies on a high elevation, where the sun shines from its rise to its setting, and both Synnoeve and her parents walk about in this still and warm illumination. They are all good, estimable people, and their gentle piety, without any tinge of fanaticism, invests them with a quiet dignity. The sterner and hardier folk at Granliden (Pine Glen) have a rugged honesty and straightforwardness which, in connection with their pithy and laconic speech, makes them less genial, but no less typically Norse. They have a distinct atmosphere and spinal columns that keep them erect, organic, and significant. Even reprehensible characters like Aslak and Nils Tailor (in "Arne") have a certain claim upon our sympathy, the former as a helpless victim of circumstance, the latter as a suppressed and perverted genius.
In the spring of 1860 Bjoernson went abroad and devoted three years to foreign travel, spending the greater part of his time in Italy. From Rome he sent home the historical drama "King Sverre" (1861), which is one of his weakest productions. It is written in blank verse, with occasional rhymes in the more impressive passages. Of dramatic interest in the ordinary sense, there is but little. It is a series of more or less animated scenes, from the period of the great civil war (1130-1240), connected by the personality of Sverre. Under the mask, however, of mediaeval history, the author preaches a political sermon to his own contemporaries. Sverre, as the champion of the common people against the tribal aristocracy, and the wily Bishop Nicholas as the representative of the latter become, as it were, permanent forces, which have continued their battle to the present day. There can be no doubt that Bjoernson, whose sympathies are strongly democratic, permitted the debate between the two to become needlessly didactic, and strained historical verisimilitude by veiled allusions to contemporaneous conditions. Greatly superior is his next drama, "Sigurd Slembe" (1862).
 An English version of "Sigurd Slembe" has been published by William Morton Payne (Boston, 1888).
The story of the brave and able pretender, Sigurd Slembe, in his struggle with the vain and mean-spirited king, Harold Gille, is the theme of the dramatic trilogy. Bjoernson attempts to give the spiritual development of Sigurd from the moment he becomes acquainted with his royal birth until his final destruction. From a frank and generous youth, who is confident that he is born for something great, he is driven by the treachery, cruelty, and deceit of his brother, the king, into the position of a desperate outlaw and guerilla. The very first scene, in the church of St. Olaf, where the boy confides to the saint, in a tone of bonne camaraderie, his joy at having conquered, in wrestling, the greatest champion in the land, gives one the key-note to his character:
"Now only listen to me, saintly Olaf! To-day I whipped young Beintein! Beintein was The strongest man in Norway. Now am I! Now I can walk from Lindesnaes and on, Up to the northern boundary of the snow, For no one step aside or lift my hat. There where I am, no man hath leave to fight, To make a tumult, threaten, or to swear— Peace everywhere! And he who wrong hath suffered Shall justice find, until the laws shall sing. And as before the great have whipped the small, So will I help the small to whip the great. Now I can offer counsel at the Thing, Now to the king's board I can boldly walk And sit beside him, saying 'Here am I!'"
The exultation in victory which speaks in every line of this opening monologue marks the man who, in spite of the obscurity of his origin, feels his right to be first, and who, in this victory, celebrates the attainment of his birthright. Equally luminous by way of characterization is his exclamation to St. Olaf when he hears that he is King Magnus Barefoot's son:
"Then we are kinsmen, Olaf, you and I!"
According to Norwegian law at that time, every son of a king was entitled to his share of the kingdom, and Sigurd's first impulse is to go straight to Harold Gille and demand his right. His friend Koll Saebjoernson persuades him, however, to abandon this hopeless adventure, and gives him a ship with which he sails to the Orient, takes part in many wars, and gains experience and martial renown.
The second part of the trilogy deals with Sigurd's sojourn at the Orkneys, where he interferes in the quarrel between the Earls Harold and Paul. The atmosphere of suspicion, insecurity, and gloom which hangs like a portentous cloud over these scenes is the very same which blows toward us from the pages of the sagas. Bjoernson has gazed deeply into the heart of Northern paganism, and has here reproduced the heroic anarchy which was a necessary result of the code permitting the individual to avenge his own wrongs. The two awful women, Helga and Frakark, the mother and the aunt of the earls, are types which are constantly met with in the saga. It is a long-recognized fact that women, under lawless conditions, develop the wildest extremes of ambition, avarice, and blood-thirstiness, and taunt the men with their weak scruples. These two furies of the Orkneys plot murder with an infernal coolness, which makes Lady Macbeth a kind-hearted woman by comparison. They recognize in Sigurd a man born for leadership; determine to use him for the furtherance of their plans, and to get rid of him, by fair means or foul, when he shall have accomplished his task. But Sigurd is too experienced a chieftain to walk into this trap. While appearing to acquiesce, he plays for stakes of his own, but in the end abandons all in disgust at the death of Earl Harold, who intentionally puts on the poisoned shirt, prepared for his brother. There is no great and monumental scene in this part which engraves itself deeply upon the memory. The love scenes with Audhild, the young cousin of the earls, are incidental and episodical, and exert no considerable influence either upon Sigurd's character or upon the development of the intrigue. Historically they are well and realistically conceived; but dramatically they are not strong. Another criticism, which has already been made by the Danish critic, Georg Brandes, refers to an offence against this very historical sense which is usually so vivid in Bjoernson. When Frakark, the Lady Macbeth of the play, remarks, "I am far from feeling sure of the individual mortality so much preached of; but there is an immortality of which I am sure; it is that of the race," she makes an intellectual somersault from the twelfth century into the nineteenth, and never gets back firmly on her pagan feet again. As Brandes wittily observes: "People who talk like that do not torture their enemy to death; they backbite him."
The third part opens with Sigurd's appearance at court, where he reveals his origin and asks for his share of the kingdom. The king is not disinclined to grant his request, but is overruled by his councillors, who profit by his weakness and rule in his name. They fear this man of many battles, with the mark of kingship on his brow; and they determine to murder him. But Sigurd escapes from prison, and, holding the king responsible for the treachery, kills him. From this time forth he is an outlaw, hunted over field and fell, and roaming with untold sufferings through the mountains and wildernesses. There he meets a Finnish maiden who loves him, reveals his fate to him, and implores him to abandon his ambition and dwell among her people. These scenes amid the eternal wastes of snow are perhaps the most striking in the trilogy and most abounding in exquisite poetic thought. Sigurd hastens hence to his doom at the battle of Holmengra, where he is defeated, and, with fiendish atrocity, slowly tortured to death. The rather lyrical monologue preceding his death, in which he bids farewell to life and calmly adjusts his gaze to eternity, is very beautiful, but, historically, a trifle out of tune. Barring these occasional lapses from the key, the trilogy of "Sigurd Slembe" is a noble work.
A respectful, and in part enthusiastic, reception had been accorded to Bjoernson's early plays. But his first dramatic triumph he celebrated at the performance of "Mary Stuart in Scotland." Externally this is the most effective of his plays. The dialogue is often brilliant, and bristles with telling points. It is eminently "actable," presenting striking tableaus and situations. Behind the author we catch a glimpse of the practical stage-manager who knows how a scene will look on the boards and how a speech will sound—who can surmise with tolerable accuracy how they will affect a first-night audience.
"Mary Stuart" is theatrically no less than dramatically conceived. Theatrically it is far superior to Swinburne's "Chastelard" (not to speak of his interminable musical verbiage in "Bothwell") but it is paler, colder, and poetically inferior. The voluptuous warmth and wealth of color, the exquisite levity, the debonnaire grace of the Swinburnian drama we seek in vain. Bjoernson is vigorous, but he is not subtile. Mere feline amorousness, such as Swinburne so inimitably portrays, he would disdain to deal with if even he could. Such a bit of intricate self-characterization as the English poet puts into the Queen's mouth in the first scene with Chastelard, in the third act, lies utterly beyond the range of the sturdier Norseman.
Queen: "Nay, dear, I have No tears in me; I never shall weep much, I think, in all my life: I have wept for wrath Sometimes, and for mere pain, but for love's pity I cannot weep at all. I would to God You loved me less: I give you all I can For all this love of yours, and yet I am sure I shall live out the sorrow of your death And be glad afterwards. You know I am sorry. I should weep now; forgive me for your part. God made me hard, I think. Alas! you see I had fain been other than I am."
Add to this the beautifully illuminating threat, "I shall be deadly to you," uttered in the midst of amorous cooings and murmurings, and we catch a glimpse of the demoniac depth of this woman's nature. Bjoernson's "Mary Stuart" weeps more than once; nay, she says to Bothwell, when he has forcibly abducted her to his castle:
"This is my first prayer to you, That I may weep."
Quite in the same key is her exclamation (in the same scene) in response to Bothwell's reference to her son:
"My son, my lovely boy! Oh, God, now he lies sleeping in his little white bed, and does not know how his mother is battling for his sake."
Schiller, whose conception of womankind was as honestly single and respectful as that of Bjoernson, had set a notable precedent in representing Mary Stuart as a martyr of a lost cause. The psychological antitheses of her character, her softness and loving surrender, and her treachery and cruelty—he left out of account.
Without troubling himself greatly about her guilt, which, though with many palliating circumstances, he admitted, he undertook to exemplify in her the beauty and exaltation of noble suffering. His Mary (which has always been a favorite with tragic actresses) is in my opinion as devoid of that insinuating, sense-compelling charm which alone can account for this extraordinary woman's career as is the heroine of Bjoernson's play. In fact Bjoernson's Mary lies half-way between the amorous young tigress of Swinburne and the statuesque martyr of Schiller. She is less intricately feminine than the former, and more so than the latter. But she is yet a long way removed from her historical original, who must have been a strong and full-blooded character, with just that touch of mystery which nature always wears to whomsoever gazes deeply upon her. That subtile intercoiling of antagonistic traits, which in a man could never coexist, is to be found in many historic women of the Renaissance—exquisite, dangerous creatures, half-doves, half-serpents, half-Clytemnestra, half-Venus, whose full-throbbing passion now made them soft and tender, over-brimming with loveliness, now fierce and imperious, their outraged pride revelling in vengeance and blood. If Bjoernson could have fathomed the depth and complexity of the historical Mary Stuart to the extent that Swinburne has done, he would, no doubt, also have devised a more effective conclusion to his play. There is no dramatic climax, far less a tragic one, in the dethronement of Mary, and the proclamation by John Knox, which is chiefly an assertion of popular sovereignty, and the triumph of the Presbyterian Church. The declaration of the final chorus, that
"Evil shall be routed And weakness must follow, The might of truth shall pierce To the last retreat of gloom,"
seems to me rather to muddle than to clarify the situation. There is a wavering and uncertain sound in it which seems inappropriate to a triumphant strain, when the organist naturally turns on the full force of his organ. If (as is obvious) the Queen represents the evil, or at least the weakness, which has been routed, it would appear that she ought to have been painted in quite different colors.
Bjoernson's next dramatic venture, which rejoices to this day in an unabated popularity, was the two-act comedy, "The Newly Married" (De Nygifte). Goethe once made the remark that he was not a good dramatist, because his nature was too conciliatory. Without intending disparagement, I am inclined to apply the same judgment to Bjoernson. His sunny optimism shrinks from irreconcilable conflicts and insoluble problems; and in his desire to reconcile and solve, he occasionally is in danger of wrenching his characters out of drawing and muddling their motives. Half a dozen critics have already called attention to the ambiguity of Mathilde's position and intentions in "The Newly Married." That she loves Axel, the husband, is clear; and the probability is that she meant to avenge herself upon him for having before his marriage used her as a decoy, when the real object of his attention was her friend Laura. But if such was her object, she lacked the strength of mind and hardness of heart to carry it out, and in the end she becomes a benevolent providence, who labors for the reconciliation of the estranged couple. She proves too noble for the ignoble role she had undertaken. Instead of wrecking the marriage, she sacrifices herself upon the altar of friendship. To that there can, of course, be no objection; but in that case the process of her mental change ought to have been clearly shown. In Ibsen's "Rosmersholm," Rebecca West, occupying a somewhat similar position, is subject to the same ennobling of motive; but the whole drama hinges upon her moral evolution, and nothing is left to inference.
The situation in "The Newly Married" is an extremely delicate one, and required delicate handling. Axel, a young and gifted lawyer, has married Laura, the daughter of a high and wealthy official, who prides himself on his family dignity and connections. Laura, being an only child, has been petted and spoiled since her birth, and is but a grown-up little girl, with no conception of her matrimonial obligations. She subordinates her relation to her husband to that to her parents, and exasperates the former by her bland and obstinate immaturity. At last, being able to bear it no longer, he compels her to leave the home of her parents, where they have hitherto been living, and establishes himself in a distant town. Mathilde, Laura's friend, accompanies them, though it is difficult to conjecture in what capacity; and publishes an anonymous novel, in which she enlightens the young wife regarding the probable results of her conduct. She thrusts a lamp into the dusk of her soul and frightens her by the things she shows her. She also, by arousing her jealousy, leads her out of childhood, with its veiled vision and happy ignorance, into womanhood, with its unflinching recognition of the realities that were hidden from the child. And thus she paves the way for the reconciliation which takes place in the presence of the old people, who pay their daughter a visit en route for Italy. Mathilde, having accomplished her mission, acknowledges the authorship of the anonymous novel, and is now content to leave husband and wife in the confidence that they will work out their own salvation.
A mere skeleton of this simple plot (which barely hints at the real problem) can, of course, give no conception of the charm, the color, and the wonderful poetic afflatus of this exquisite little play. It may be well enough to say that such a situation is far-fetched and not very typical—that outside of "The Heavenly Twins," et id omne genus, wives who insist upon remaining maidens are not very frequent; but, in spite of this drawback, the vividness and emotional force of the dialogue and the beautiful characterization (particularly of the old governor and his wife) set certain sweet chords in vibration, and carry the play to a triumphant issue.
As a school-boy I witnessed the first performance of "The Newly Married," at the Christiania Theatre (1865), (as, indeed, of all the Bjoernsonian dramas up to 1869); and I yet remember my surprise when, instead of mail-clad Norse warriors, carousing in a sooty, log-built hall, the curtain rose upon a modern interior, in which a fashionably attired young lady kissed a frock-coated old gentleman. It was a dire disappointment to me and my comrade, who had come thirsting for gore. But how completely the poet conquered us! Each phrase seemed to woo our reluctant ears, and the pulse of life that beat in the characters and carried along the action awakened in us a delighted recognition. Truth to tell, we had but the very vaguest idea of what was the prima causa malorum; but for all that, with the rest of the audience, we were immensely gratified that the upshot of it all was so satisfactory.
During the years 1865-67 Bjoernson occupied the position of artistic director of the Christiania Theatre, and edited the illustrated weekly paper, Norsk Folkeblad ("The Norwegian People's Journal"). As the champion of Norwegian nationality in literature, and on the stage, he unfolded an amazing activity. In 1870 he published "Arnljot Gelline," a lyrical epic, relating, in a series of poems of irregular metres, the story of the pagan marauder of that name, and his conversion to Christianity by King Olaf the Saint. Never has he found a more daring and tremendous expression for the spirit of old Norse paganism than in this powerful but somewhat chaotic poem. Never has anyone gazed more deeply into the ferocious heart of the primitive, predatory man, whose free, wild soul had not yet been tamed by social obligations and the scourge of the law. In the same year (1870) was published the now classical collection of "Poems and Songs" (Digte og Sange), which, it is no exaggeration to say, marks a new era in the Norwegian lyric. Among Bjoernson's predecessors there are but two lyrists of the first order, viz., Wergeland and Welhaven. The former was magnificently profuse and chaotic, abounding in verve and daring imagery, but withal high-sounding, declamatory, and, at his worst, bombastic. There is a reminiscence in him of Klopstock's inflated rhetoric; and a certain dithyrambic ecstasy—a strained, high-keyed aria-style which sometimes breaks into falsetto. His great rival, Welhaven, was soberer, clearer, more gravely melodious. He sang in beautiful, tempered strains, along the middle octaves, never ranging high into the treble or deep into the base. There is a certain Tennysonian sweetness, artistic self-restraint, and plastic simplicity in his lyrics; just as there is in Wergeland's reformatory ardor, his noble rage, and his piling up of worlds, aeons, and eternities a striking kinship to Shelley. But both these poets, though their patriotism was strong, were intellectually Europeans, rather than Norwegians. The roots of their culture were in the general soil of the century, whose ideas they had absorbed. Their personalities were not sufficiently tinged with the color of nationality to give a distinctly Norse cadence to their voices. Wergeland seems to me like a man who was desperately anxious to acquire a national accent; but somehow never could catch the trick of it. As regards Welhaven, he was less aware of his deficiency (if deficiency it was); but was content to sing of Norse themes in a key of grave, universal beauty. Of the new note that came into the Norwegian lyric with Bjoernson, I can discover no hint in his predecessors. Such a poem as, for instance, "Nils Finn," with its inimitably droll refrain—how utterly inconceivable it would be in the mouth of Wergeland or Welhaven! The new quality in it is as unexplainable as the poem itself is untranslatable. It has that inexpressible cadence and inflection of the Norse dialect which you feel (if you have the conditions for recognizing it) in the first word a Norseman addresses to you. It has that wonderful twang of the Hardanger fiddle, and the color and sentiment of the ballads sung and the legendary tales recited around the hearth in a Norwegian homestead during the long winter nights. With Bjoernson it was in the blood. It was his soul's accent, the dialect of his thought, the cadence of his emotion. And so, also, is the touching minor undertone in the poem, the tragic strain in the half burlesque, which is again so deeply Norwegian. Who that has ever been present at a Norse peasant wedding has failed to be struck with the strangely melancholy strain in the merriest dances? And in Landstad's collection of "Norwegian Ballads" there is the same blending of humor and pathos in such genuine folk-songs as Truls med bogin, Mindre Alf, and scores of others. To this day I cannot read "Nils Finn," humorous though it is, without an almost painful emotion. All Norway, with a host of precious memories, rises out of the mist of the past at the very first verse:
"Og vetli Nils Finn skuldi ut at ga, Han fek inki ski 'i tel at hanga pa —'Dat var ilt' sa'd 'uppundir.'"
Neither Wergeland nor Welhaven nor any other poet has with all his rapturous description of fjord, valley, and mountain, this power to conjure up the very soul of the Norseland. The purely juvenile rhymes of Bjoernson, such as Killebukken, Lokkeleg and Haren og Raeven ("The Hare and the Fox"), are significant because of the masterly security with which they strike the national key and keep it. Not a word is there that rings false. And with what an exquisite tenderness the elegaic ballad strain is rendered in Venevil and "Hidden Love" (Dulgt Kaerlighed), and the playful in the deliciously girlish roguery of Vidste du bare ("If you only knew"), and the bold dash and young wantonness of "Marit's Song!"
It seems to me that every Norseman's life, whether he is willing to acknowledge it or not, has been made richer and more beautiful by this precious volume. It contains a legacy to the Norwegian people which can never grow old. If Bjoernson had written nothing else, he would still be the first poet of Norway. How brazen, hollow, and bombastic sound the patriotic lyrics of Bjerregaard Johan Storm Munch, S. O. Wolff, etc., which are yet sung at festal gatherings, by the side of Bjoernson's "Yes, we Love our Native Country," and "I will Guard Thee, my Land!" There is the brassy blare of challenging trumpets in the former; they defy all creation, and make a vast deal of impotent and unprofitable noise about "The roaring northern main," "The ancient Norway's rocky fastness," "Liberty's temple in Norroway's valleys," and "Norway's lion, whose axe doth threaten him who dares break the Northland's peace."
Not a suggestion of this juvenile braggadocio is there to be found in Bjoernson. Calm, strong, and nobly aglow with love of country, he has no need of going into paroxysms in order to prove his sincerity. To those who regard the declamatory note as indispensable to a national hymn (as we have it, for instance, in "Hail, Columbia," and "The Star-spangled Banner") the low key in which Bjoernson's songs are pitched will no doubt appear as a blemish. But it is their very homeliness in connection with the deep, full-throbbing emotion which beats in each forceful phrase—it is this, I fancy, which has made them the common property of the whole people, and thus in the truest sense national. I could never tell why my heart gives a leap at the sound of the simple verse:
"Yes, we love this land of ours, Rising from the foam, Rugged, furrowed, weather-beaten, With its thousand homes."
Kjerulf's glorious music is, no doubt, in a measure accountable for it; but even apart from that, there is a strangely moving power in the words. The poem, as such, is by no means faultless. It is easy to pick flaws in it. The transition from the fifth and sixth lines of the first verse: "Love it, love it, and think of our father and mother," to the seventh and eighth, "And the saga night which makes dreams to descend upon our earth," is unwarrantably forced and abrupt. And yet who would wish it changed? It may be admitted that there is no very subtle art in the rude rhyme:
"I will guard thee, my land, I will build thee, my land, I will cherish my land in my prayer, in my child! I will foster its weal, And its wants I will heal From the boundary out to the ocean wild;"
but, for all that, it touches a chord in every Norseman's breast, which never fails to vibrate responsively.
As regards Bjoernson's prosody, I am aware that it is sometimes defective. Measured by the Tennysonian standard it is often needlessly rugged and eccentric. But a poet whose bark carries so heavy a cargo of thought may be forgiven if occasionally it scrapes the bottom. Moreover, the Norwegian tongue has never, as a medium of poetry, been polished and refined to any such elaborate perfection as the English language exhibits in the hands of Swinburne and Tennyson.
The saga-drama, "Sigurd the Crusader," which was also published in 1870, is a work of minor consequence. Its purpose may be stated in the author's own words:
"'Sigurd the Crusader' is meant to be what is called a 'folk-play.' It is my intention to make several dramatic experiments with grand scenes from the sagas, lifting them into a strong but not too heavy frame. By a 'folk-play' I mean a play which should appeal to every eye and every stage of culture, to each in its own way, and at the performance of which all, for the time being, would experience the joy of fellow-feeling. The common history of a people is best available for this purpose—nay, it ought dramatically never to be treated otherwise. The treatment must necessarily be simple and the emotions predominant; it should be accompanied with music, and the development should progress in clear groups....
"The old as well as the new historic folk literature will, with its corresponding comic element, as I think, be a great gain to the stage, and will preserve its connection with the people where this has not already been lost—so that it be no longer a mere institution for amusement, and that only to a single class. Unless we take this view of our stage, it will lose its right to be regarded as a national affair, and the best part of its purpose, to unite while it lifts and makes us free, will be gradually assumed by some other agency. Nor shall we ever get actors fit for anything but trifles, unless we abandon our foreign French tendency as a leading one and substitute the national needs of our own people in its place."
It would be interesting to note how the poet has attempted to solve a problem so important and so difficult as this. In the first place, we find in "Sigurd the Crusader" not a trace of a didactic purpose beyond that of familiarizing the people with its own history, and this, as he himself admits in the preface just quoted, is merely a secondary consideration. He wishes to make all, irrespective of age, culture, and social station, feel strongly the bond of their common nationality; and, with this in view, he proceeds to unroll to them a panorama of simple but striking situations, knit together by a plot or story which, without the faintest tinge of sensationalism, appeals to those broadly human and national sympathies which form the common mental basis of Norse ignorance and Norse culture. He seizes the point in the saga where the long-smouldering hostility between the royal brothers, Sigurd the Crusader and Eystein, has broken into full blaze, and traces, in a series of vigorously sketched scenes, the intrigue and counter-intrigue which hurry the action onward toward its logically prepared climax—a mutual reconciliation. The dialogue is pithy, simple, and sententious. Nevertheless the play, as a whole, makes the impression of incompleteness. It is a dramatic sketch rather than a drama. It marks no advance on Bjoernson's previous work in the same line; but perhaps rather a retrogression.
A period is apt to come in the life of every man who is spiritually alive, when his scholastic culture begins to appear insufficient and the traditional premises of existence seem in need of readjustment and revision. This period, with the spiritual crisis which it involves, is likely to occur between the thirtieth and the fortieth meridian. Ibsen was thirty-four years old (1862) when in "The Comedy of Love" he broke with the romanticism of his youth, and began to wrestle with the problems of contemporary life. Goethe was thirty-seven when, in 1786, he turned his back upon the Storm and Stress, and in Italy sought and gained a new and saner vision of the world. This renewal of the sources which water the roots of his spiritual being becomes an imperative necessity to a man when he has exhausted the sources which tradition supplies. It is terrible to wake up one morning and see one's past life in a new and strange illumination, and the dust of ages lying inch-thick upon one's thoughts. It is distressing to have to pretend that you do not hear the doubt which whispers early and late in your ear, Vanitas, vanitas, vanitas vanitatum. Few are those of us who have the courage to face it, to rise up and fight with it, and rout it or be routed by it.
Bjoernson had up to this time (1870) built solely upon tradition. He had been orthodox, and had exalted childlike peace and faith above doubt and struggle. Phrases indicative of a certain spiritual immaturity are scattered through his early poems. In "The Child in our Soul," he says, for instance: "The greatest man on earth must cherish the child in his soul and listen, amid the thunder, to what it whispers low;" and again: "Everything great that thought has invented sprouted forth in childlike joy; and everything strong, sprung from what is good, obeyed the child's voice." Though in a certain sense that may be true enough, it belongs to the kind of half-truths which by constant repetition grow pernicious and false. The man who at forty assumes the child's attitude of mere wondering acceptance toward the world and its problems, may, indeed, be a very estimable character; but he will never amount to much. It is the honest doubters, the importunate questioners, the indefatigable fighters who have broken humanity's shackles, and made the world a more comfortable abiding-place to the present generation than it was to the past. There is unquestionably a strain of Danish romanticism in Bjoernson's persistent harping upon childlike faith and simplicity and a childlike vision of the world. Grundtvig, with whom this note is pervasive, had in his early youth a great influence over him. The glorification of primitive feeling was part of the romantic revolt against the dry rationalism of the so-called period of enlightenment.
To account for the fact that so mighty a spirit as Bjoernson could have reached his thirty-eighth year before emerging from this state of idyllic naivete, I am inclined to quote the following passage from Brandes, descriptive of the condition of the Scandinavian countries during the decade preceding 1870:
"While the intellectual life languished, as a plant droops in a close, confined place, the people were self-satisfied—though not with a joyous or noisy self-satisfaction; for there was much sadness in their minds after the great disasters [the Sleswick-Holstein War].... They rested on their laurels and fell into a doze. And while they dozed they had dreams. The cultivated, and especially the half-cultivated, public in Denmark and Norway dreamed that they were the salt of Europe. They dreamed that by their idealism—the ideals of Grundtvig and Kierkegaard—and their strong vigilance, they regenerated the foreign nations. They dreamed that they were the power which could rule the world, but which, for mysterious and incomprehensible reasons, had for a long series of years preferred to eat crumbs from the foreigners' table. They dreamed that they were the free, mighty North, which led the cause of the peoples to victory—and they woke up unfree, impotent, ignorant."
 Brandes: Det Moderne Gjennembrud's Maend, pp. 44, 45.
Though there is a good deal of malice, there is no exaggeration in this unflattering statement. Scandinavia had by its own choice cut itself off from the cosmopolitan world life; and the great ideas which agitated Europe found scarcely an echo in the three kingdoms. In my own boyhood, which coincides with Bjoernson's early manhood, I heard on all hands expressions of self-congratulation because the doubt and fermenting restlessness which were undermining the great societies abroad had never ruffled the placid surface of our good, old-fashioned, Scandinavian orthodoxy. How heartily we laughed at the absurdities of Darwin, who, as we had read in the newspapers, believed that he was descended from an ape! How deeply, densely, and solidly ignorant we were; and yet how superior we felt in the midst of our ignorance!
All this must be taken into account, if we are to measure the significance, as well as the courage, of Bjoernson's apostasy. For five years (1870-74) he published nothing of an aesthetical character. But he plunged with hot zeal into political life, not only because he needed an outlet for his pent-up energy; but because the question at issue engaged him, heart and soul. The equal and co-ordinate position of Norway and Sweden under the union had been guaranteed by the Constitution of 1814; but, as a matter of fact, the former kingdom is by all the world looked upon as a dependency, if not a province, of the latter. The Bernadottes, lacking comprehension of the Norwegian character, had shown themselves purblind as bats in their dealings with Norway. They had mistaken a perfectly legitimate desire for self-government for a demonstration of hostility to Sweden and the royal house; and instead of identifying themselves with the national movement (which they might well have done), they fought it, first by cautious measures of repression, and later by vetoes and open defiance. Charles XV., and, later, Oscar II., kept the minority ministries, Stang and Selmer, in power, with a bland disregard of popular condemnation, and snapped their fingers at the parliamentary majorities which, for well-nigh a quarter of a century, fought persistently, bravely, and not altogether vainly, for their country's rights.
There is no doubt that Norway is the most democratic country in Europe, if not in the world. There is a far sturdier sense of personal worth, a far more fearless assertion of equality, and a far more democratic feeling permeating society than, for instance, in the United States. Sweden, on the other hand, is essentially an aristocratic country, with a landed nobility and many other remnants of feudalism in her political and social institutions. Two countries so different in character can never be good yoke-fellows. They can never develop at an even pace, and the fact of kinship scarcely helps matters where the temperaments and the conditions are so widely dissimilar. Brothers who fall out are apt to fight each other the more fiercely on account of the relationship. Bjoernson certainly does not cherish any hatred of Sweden, nor do I believe that there is any general animosity to the Swedish people to be found anywhere in Norway. It is most unfortunate that the mistaken policy of the Bernadottes has placed the two nations in an attitude of apparent hostility. In spite of the loud denunciation of Norway by the so-called Grand Swedish party, and the equally vociferous response of the Norwegian journals (of the Left) there is a strong sympathy between the democracy of Norway and that of Sweden, and a mutual respect which no misrepresentation can destroy.
It was Bjoernson who, in 1873, began the agitation for the actual and not merely nominal, equality of the two kingdoms; he appealed to the national sense of honor, and by his kindling eloquence aroused the tremendous popular indignation that swept the old ministry of Stang from power, and caused the impeachment and condemnation of the Selmer ministry. It would seem when the king, in 1882, charged the liberal leader, Mr. Johan Sverdrup, to form a ministry, that parliamentarism had actually triumphed. But unhappily a new Stang ministry (the chief of which is the son of the old premier) has, recently (1893) re-established the odious minority rule, which sits like a nightmare upon the nation's breast, checking its respiration, and hindering its natural development.
 I had the pleasure of accompanying Bjoernson on his first political tour in the summer of 1873, and I shall never forget the tremendous impression of the man and his mighty eloquence at the great folk-meeting at Boee in Guldbrandsdalen.
During this period of national self-assertion Bjoernson has unfolded a colossal activity. Though holding no office, and steadily refusing an election to the Storthing, he has been the life and soul of the liberal party. The task which he had undertaken grew upon his hands, and assumed wider and wider dimensions. As his predecessor Wergeland had done, and in a far deeper sense, he consecrated his life to the spiritual and intellectual liberation of his people. It is told of the former that he was in the habit of walking about the country with his pockets full of seeds of grass and trees, of which he scattered a handful here and a handful there; for, he said, you can never tell what will grow up after it. There is to me something quite touching in the patriotism which prompted this act. Bjoernson, too, is in the same sense "a sower who went forth for to sow." And the golden grain of his thought falls, as in the parable, in all sorts of places; but, unlike some of the seed in the parable, it all leaves some trace behind. It stimulates reflection, it awakens life, it arouses the torpid soul, it shakes the drowsy soul, it shocks the pious soul, it frightens the timid soul, but it lifts them all, as it were, by main force, out of themselves, and makes healthful breezes blow, and refreshing showers fall upon what was formerly a barren waste. This is Bjoernson's mission; this is, during the second period of his career, his greatness and his highest significance.
Of course there are many opinions as to the value of the work he has accomplished in this capacity of political and religious liberator. The Conservative party of Norway, which runs the errands of the king and truckles to Sweden, hates him with a bitter and furious hatred; the clergy denounce him, and the official bureaucracy can scarcely mention his name without an anathema. But the common people, though he has frightened many of them away by his heterodoxy, still love him. It is especially his disrespect to the devil (whom he professes not to believe in) which has been a sore trial to the Bible-reading, hymn-singing peasantry. Does not the Bible say that the devil goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour? Nevertheless Bjoernson has the hardihood to assert that there is no such person. And yet Bjoernson is a man who can talk most beautifully, and who knows as much as any parson. It is extremely puzzling.
The fact was, Bjoernson's abolition of the devil, and his declaration of a war against the orthodox miracle faith, were, as far as the Norwegian people were concerned, somewhat premature. The peasant needs the old scriptural devil, and is not yet ready to dispense with him. The devil is a popular character in the folk-stories and legends, and I have known some excellent people who declare that they have seen him. Creeds are like certain ancient tumuli, which now are but graves, but were once the habitations of living men. The dust, ashes, and bones of defunct life which they often contain, nourish in the dark the green grass, the fair flowers, the blooming trees, that shoot up into the light. You cannot dig it all up and throw it out without tearing asunder the net-work of roots which organically connects the living with the dead.
Bjoernson, though he is an evolutionist, is far removed from the philosophic temper in his dealings with the obsolete or obsolescent remnants in political and religious creeds. He has the healthful intolerance of strong conviction. He is too good a partisan to admit that there may be another side to the question which might be worth considering. With magnificent ruthlessness he plunges ahead, and with a truly old Norse pugnacity he stands in the thick of the fight, rejoicing in battle. Only combat arouses his Titanic energy and calls all his splendid faculties into play.
Even apart from his political propaganda the years 1870-74 were a period of labor and ferment to Bjoernson. The mightier the man, the mightier the powers enlisted in his conversion, and the mightier the struggle. A tremendous wrench was required to change his point of view from that of a childlike, wondering believer to that of a critical sceptic and thinker. In a certain sense Bjoernson never took this step; for when the struggle was over, and he had readjusted his vision of life to the theory of evolution, he became as ardent an adherent of it as he had ever been of the naive Grundtvigian miracle-faith. And with the deep need of his nature to pour itself forth—to share its treasures with all the world—he started out to proclaim his discoveries. Besides Darwin and Spencer, he had made a study of Stuart Mill, whose noble sense of fair-play had impressed him. He plunged with hot zeal into the writings of Steinthal and Max Mueller, whose studies in comparative religion changed to him the whole aspect of the universe. Taine's historical criticism, with its disrespectful derivation of the hero from food, climate, and race, lured him still farther away from his old Norse and romantic landmarks, until there was no longer any hope of his ever returning to them. But when from this promontory of advanced thought he looked back upon his idyllic love-stories of peasant lads and lasses, and his taciturn saga heroes, with their predatory self-assertion, he saw that he had done with them forever; that they could never more enlist his former interest. On the other hand, the problems of modern contemporary life, of which he had now gained quite a new comprehension, tempted him. The romantic productions of his youth appeared as a more or less arbitrary play of fancy emancipated from the stern logic of reality. It was his purpose henceforth to consecrate his powers to the study of the deeper soul-life of his own age and the exposition of the forces which in their interdependence and interaction make modern society.
This is the significance of the four-act drama "Bankruptcy," with which, in 1874, he astounded and disappointed the Scandinavian public. I have called it a drama, in accordance with the author's designation on the title-page; but it is, in the best sense, a comedy of manners, of the kind that Augier produced in France; and in everything except the mechanics of construction superior to the plays of Sardou and Dumas. The dialogue has the most admirable accent of truth. It is not unnaturally witty or brilliant; but exhibits exactly the traits which Norwegians of the higher commercial plutocracy are likely to exhibit. All the poetic touches which charmed us in Bjoernson's saga dramas were conspicuous by their absence. Scarcely a trace was there left of that peculiar and delightful language of his early novels, which can only be described by the term "Bjoernsonian."
"Dry, prosaic, trivial," said the reviewers; "Bjoernson has evidently worked out his vein. He has ceased to be a poet. He has lost with his childhood's faith his ideal view of life, and become a mere prosy chronicler of uninteresting everyday events."
This was, indeed, the general verdict of the public twenty years ago. Scarcely anyone had a good word to say for the abused play that marked the poet's fall from the idealism of his early song. But, for all that, "Bankruptcy" made a strong impression upon the boards. It not only conquered a permanent place in the repertoires of the theatres of the Scandinavian capitals, but it spread through Austria, Germany, and Holland, and has finally scored a success at the Theatre Libre in Paris. There is scarcely a theatre of any consequence in Germany which has not made "Bankruptcy" part of its repertoire. At the Royal Theatre in Munich it was accorded a most triumphant reception, and something over sixty representations has not yet exhausted its popularity.
The effort to come to close quarters with reality is visible in every phrase. The denial of the value of all the old romantic stage machinery, with its artificial climaxes and explosive effects, is perceptible in the quiet endings of the acts and the entirely unsensational exposition of the dramatic action. There is one scene (and by no means an unnatural one) in which there is a touch of violence, viz., where Tjaelde, while he hopes to avert his bankruptcy, threatens to shoot Lawyer Berent and himself; but there is a very human quiver in the threat and in the passionate outbreak which precedes it. Nowhere is there a breath of that superheated hot-house atmosphere which usually pervades the modern drama.
"Bankruptcy" deals, as the title indicates, with the question of financial honesty. Zola has in Le Roman Sentimental made the observation that "absolute honesty no more exists than perfect healthfulness. There is a tinge of the human beast in us all, as there is a tinge of illness." Tjaelde, the great merchant, exemplifies this proposition. He is a fairly honest man, who by the modern commercial methods, which, in self-defence, he has been forced to adopt, gets into the position of a rogue. The commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," seems at first glance an extremely simple injunction; but in the light of Bjoernson's searching analysis it becomes a complex and intricate tangle, capable of interesting shades and nuances of meaning. Tjaelde, in the author's opinion, certainly does steal, when, in order to save himself (and thereby the thousands who are involved in his affairs), he speculates with other people's money and presents a rose-colored account of his business, when he knows that he is on the verge of bankruptcy. But, on the other hand, it is extremely difficult to determine the point where legitimate speculation ceases and the illegitimate begins. And if Tjaelde neglected any legitimate means of saving his estate he would be culpable. A stern code of morals (which the commercial world of to-day would scarcely exact), the poet enforces in the fourth act, where Tjaelde refuses to accept any concession from his creditors, but insists upon devoting the remainder of his life to the liquidation of his debts.
Admirably strong and vital is the exposition of the role and functions of money in the modern world, and the nearer and remoter psychological effects of the tremendous tyranny of money. A certain external eclat is required to give the great commercial house the proper splendor in the sight of the world. Thus Tjaelde speculates in hospitality as in everything else, and when he virtually has nothing, makes the grandest splurge in order to give a spurious impression of prosperity. Though by nature an affectionate man, he neglects his family because business demands all his time. He defrauds himself of the happiness which knocks at his door, because business fills his head by night and by day, and absorbs all his energy. A number of parasites (such as the fortune-hunting lieutenant) attach themselves to him, as long as he is reputed to be rich, and make haste to vanish when his riches take wings. On the other hand, the true friends whom in his prosperity he hectored and contemned are revealed by adversity. There would be nothing remarkable in so common an experience, if the friends themselves, as well as the parasites, were not so delightfully delineated. The lieutenant, with his almost farcical interest in the bay trotter, is amusingly but lightly drawn; but the awkward young clerk, Sannaes, who refuses to abandon his master in the hour of trial, is a deeply typical Norwegian figure. All the little coast towns have specimens to show of these aspiring, faithful, sensitively organized souls, who, having had no social advantages are painfully conscious of their deficiencies, but whose patient industry and sterling worth in the end will triumph. No less keenly observed and effectively sketched is the whole gallery of dastardly little village figures—Holm, Falbe, Knutson with an s, Knutzon, with a z, etc. Signe and Valborg, the two daughters of Tjaelde, have, in spite of their diversity, a common tinge of Norwegian nationality which gives a gentle distinctness and relief to the world-old types.
Bjoernson's next play, "The Editor," grapples with an equally modern and timely subject, viz., the license of the press. With terrible vividness he shows the misery, ruin, and degradation which result from the present journalistic practice of misrepresentation, sophistry, and defamation. It is a very dark picture he draws, with scarcely a gleam of light. The satire is savage; and the quiver of wrath is perceptible in many a sledge-hammer phrase. You feel that Bjoernson himself has suffered from the terrorism which he here describes, and you would surmise too, even if you did not know it, that the editor whom he has here pilloried is no mere general editorial type, but a well-known person who, until recently, conducted one of the most influential journals in Norway. The play is an act of retribution, and a deserved one. But its weaknesses, which it is vain to disguise, are also explained by the author's personal bias—the desire to wreak vengeance upon an enemy.
 All the literary histories and other authorities which I have consulted put the publication of "Bankruptcy," as well as that of "The Editor," in 1875. But my own copy of the latter play bears on its title-page the year 1874.
The situation is as follows: Mr. Evje, a rich and generally respected distiller, has a daughter, Gertrude, who is engaged to Harold Rein, a political leader of peasant origin. Mr. Rein's brother, Halfdan, from whom he has, in a measure, inherited the leadership, is dying from the persecution to which he has been exposed by the Conservative press and public. In his zeal for the Radical cause it is his consolation that he leaves it in such strong hands as those of his brother. The election is impending and a meeting of the electors has been called for the following day. Harold is the candidate of the Left. It now becomes a question with the party of the Right so to ridicule and defame him as to ruin his chances. His position as prospective son-in-law of the rich Mr. Evje lends an air of importance and respectability to his candidacy. Mr. Evje must therefore be induced, or, if necessary, compelled, to throw him overboard. With this end in view the editor of the Conservative journal goes to Evje (whose schoolmate and friend he has been) and tries to persuade him to break the alliance with Rein. Evje, who prides himself on his "moderation" and tolerance, and his purpose to keep aloof from partisanship, refuses to be bullied; whereupon the editor threatens him with social ostracism and commercial ruin. The distiller, who is at heart a coward, is completely unnerved by this threat. Well knowing how a paper can undermine a man's reputation without making itself liable for libel, he sends his friend the doctor to the editor, suing for peace. Late in the evening he meets his foe outside of his house, and after much shuffling and parleying agrees to do his will. He surprises his daughter and Harold Rein in a loving tete-a-tete, and lacks the courage to carry out his bargain. He vainly endeavors to persuade them to break the engagement and separate until after the election.
In the meanwhile, John, a discharged servant of Evje (of whose drunkenness and political radicalism we have previously been informed), has overheard the parley with the editor, and in order to get even with his master countermands in the editor's name his order to the foreman of the printing-office; and the obnoxious article which was intended to be omitted appears in the paper. John also takes care to procure Evje an early copy, which, first utterly crushes him, then arouses his wrath, convinces him that "holding aloof" is mere cowardice, and makes him resolve to bear his share in the great political battle. The meanness, the malice of each ingenious thrust, while it stings and burns also awakens a righteous indignation. He goes straight to the lodgings of Harold Rein and determines to attend the Radical meeting. Not finding him at home he goes to the house of his brother Halfdan, where he leaves the copy of the paper. The sick man picks it up, reads an onslaught on himself which in baseness surpasses the attack on Evje, starts up in uncontrollable excitement, and dies of a hemorrhage. The maid, who sees him lying on the floor, cries out into the street for help, and the editor, who chances to pass by, enters. He finds the Radical leader dead, with the paper clutched in his hand.
The fourth act opens with a festal arrangement at Evje's in honor of the great success of Rein's electoral meeting. There is no more "holding aloof." Everybody has convictions and is ready to avow the party that upholds them. All are ignorant of Halfdan Rein's death, until the editor arrives, utterly broken in spirit and asks Evje's pardon. He wishes to explain, but no one wishes to listen. When Evje wavers and is on the point of accepting his proffered hand, his wife and daughter loudly protest.
The editor declares his purpose to renounce journalism. The festivities are abandoned, and all betake themselves to the house of the dead leader. Thus the play ends; there is no tableau, no climax, no dramatic catastrophe. It is Zola's theory and Maeterlink's practice anticipated.
 "Naturalism on the Stage."
The journalistic conditions here described are, of course, those of the Norwegian capital nearly a quarter of a century ago. Few editors, I fancy, outside of country towns, now go about personally spreading rumors, with malice aforethought, and collecting gossip. But the power of the press for good and for ill, and the terrorism which, in evil hands, it exercises, are surely not exaggerated. But its most striking application has the drama in its exposure of the desperate and ignominious expedients to which a party will resort in order to defeat, defame, and utterly destroy a political opponent. The following passages may be worth quoting:
"Most of the successful politicians nowadays win not by their own greatness but by the paltriness of the rest."
"Here is a fine specimen of a fossil. It is a piece of a palm-leaf, ... which was found in a stratum of Siberian rock.... Thus one must become in order to endure the ice-storms. Then one is not harmed. But your brother! In him lived yet the whole murmuring, singing palm-forest.... As regards you, it remains to be seen whether you can get all humanity in you completely killed.... But who would at that price be a politician?... That one must be hardened is the watchword of all nowadays. Not only army officers but physicians, merchants, officials are to be hardened or dried up; ... hardened for the battle of life, as they say. But what does that mean? We are to expel and evaporate the warmth of the heart, the fancy's yearning, ... before we are fit for life.... No, I say, it is those very things we are to preserve. That's what we have got them for."
Bjoernson's increasing Radicalism and his outspoken Socialistic sympathies had by this time alienated a large portion of the Scandinavian public. The cry was heard on all sides that he had ceased to be a poet, and had become instead a mere political agitator. I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting Bjoernson's reply when at his request a friend repeated to him the opinion which was entertained of him in certain quarters:
"Oh, yes," he cried, with a wrathful laugh, "don't I know it? You must be a poet! You must not mingle in the world's harsh and jarring tumult. They have a notion that a poet is a longhaired man who sits on the top of a tower and plays upon a harp while his hair streams in the wind. Yes, a fine kind of poet is that! No, my boy, I am a poet, not primarily because I can write verse (there are lots of people who can do that) but by virtue of seeing more clearly, and feeling more deeply, and speaking more truly than the majority of men. All that concerns humanity concerns me. If by my song or my speech I can contribute ever so little toward the amelioration of the lot of the millions of my poorer fellow-creatures, I shall be prouder of that than of the combined laurels of Shakespeare, Milton, and Goethe."
This is the conception of a poet which was prevalent in Norway in the olden time. The scalds of the sagas were warriors as well as singers. They fought with sword and battle-axe, and their song rang the more boldly because they knew how to strike up another tune—the fierce song of the sword. In modern times Wergeland and Welhaven have demonstrated not only the pugnacity, but also the noble courage of their ancestry by espousing the cause of opposing parties during the struggle for national independence.
Those who demand that literature shall be untinged by any tendency or strong conviction will do well to eschew all the subsequent works of Bjoernson. They might perhaps put up with the brief novel "Magnhild," which is tolerably neutral in tone, though it is the least enjoyable of all Bjoernson's works. It gives the impression that the author is half afraid of his subject (which is an illicit love), and only dares to handle it so gingerly as to leave half the tale untold. The short, abrupt sentences which seemed natural enough when he was dealing with the peasants, with their laconic speech and blunt manners, have a forced and unnatural air when applied to people to whom this style of language is foreign. Moreover, these condensed sentences are often vague, full of innuendo, and mysterious as hieroglyphics. It is as if the author, in the consciousness of the delicacy of his theme, had lost the bold security of touch which in his earlier works made his meaning unmistakable.
The drama "The King" (1877) is an attack upon the monarchical principle in its political as well as its personal aspect. It is shown how destructive the royal prerogative is and must be to the king as an individual; how the artificial regard which hedges him in, interposing countless barriers between the truth and him, makes his relations to his surroundings false and deprives him of the opportunity for self-knowledge which normal relations supply. Royalty is therefore a curse, because it robs its possessor of the wholesome discipline of life which is the right of every man that is born into the world.
Furthermore, there is an obvious intention to show that the monarchy, being founded upon a lie, is incapable of any real adaptation to the age, and reconciliation with modern progress. The king in the play is a young, talented, liberal-minded man, who is fully conscious of the anomaly of his position, and determined to save his throne by stripping it of all mediaeval and mythological garniture. He dreams of being a "folk-king," the first citizen of a free people, a kind of hereditary president, with no sham divinity to fall back upon, and no "grace of God" to shield him from criticism and sanctify his blunders. He resents the role of being the lock of the merchant's strong-box and the head of that mutual insurance company which is called the state. He goes about incognito, first in search of love adventures, and later in order to acquaint himself with public opinion; and he proves himself remarkably unprejudiced and capable of profiting by experience. He falls in love with Clara Ernst, the daughter of a Radical professor, who, on account of a book he has written, has been sentenced for crimen laesae majestatis, and in an attempt to escape from prison has broken both his legs. Clara, who is supporting her father in his exile by teaching, repels the king's advances with indignation and contempt. He perseveres, however, fascinated by the novelty of such treatment. He manages to convince her of the purity of his motives; and finally succeeds in winning her love. It is not a liaison he contemplates, but a valid and legitimate marriage for which he means to compel recognition. The court, which he has no more use for, he desires to abolish as a costly and degrading luxury; and in its place to establish a home—a model bourgeois home—where affection and virtue shall flourish. Clara, seeing the vast significance of such a step, is aglow with enthusiasm for its realization. It is not vanity, but a lofty faith in her mission to regenerate royalty, by discarding its senseless pomp and bringing it into accord with, and down to the level of, common citizenship—it is this, I say, which upholds her in the midst of opprobrium, insults, and hostile demonstrations. For the king's subjects, so far from being charmed by his resolution to marry a woman out of their midst, are scandalized. They riot, sing mocking songs, circulate base slanders, and threaten to mob the royal bride on her way to her first public function. She is herself terribly wrought up, particularly by the curse of her father, who hates the king with the deep hatred of a fanatical Republican. A royal princess, who had come to insult her, is conquered by her candor and truth, and stays to sympathize with her and lend her the support of her presence. But just as the king comes to lead her out to face the populace, the wraith of her father rises upon the threshold and she falls back dead. It is learned afterward that Professor Ernst had died in that very hour.