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from whose shores the Norman bands went forth throughout the world, with their heroes and their songs; Denmark proper, the motherland, consists of the great and fertile islands, where the beech woods murmur, where the stork, the sacred bird of Denmark, builds its nest, in whose azure creeks the Dannebrog, the national flag, floats—the beautiful islands of Zealand, Jutland, and Funen. There has the Danish people its home; the home of which Ingemann sings:
"Denmark with the verdant shore
By the sparkling floods,
And peace within thy woods.
O'er the giants' barrow,
All the valley thorough.
Bloody Christian! Sweden's executioner, how couldst thou be born among this people, in this land!
It is a kindly and a noble land; a land of green and undulating fields, which, without mountains and rocks, but with fertile plains and beautiful woods, arises from the sea: Zealand, with rich corn-fields, old towns, with old, proud memories, cairns, and castles; Funen, with its orchards, its fine estates, its wealthy farms; Jutland, with its heaths, the Atlantie, Himmelberg, features of grand scenery, which are almost adored by those who have lived among them from childhood. Around the large islands cluster a wreath of small, often very small ones—which also abound with great recollections; some from the times of the sagas, some from later ages, and which have fostered many a great man for the common mother country. There breathes a fresh, kindly, vernal life over these islands, around which swell the waves of the North Sea, with the Cattegat, the Baltie, and the Atlantic. This harmonizes with the spirit of the people; for notwithstanding the solemnity of the memories of the ancient times—notwithstanding the Stamp of the northern spirit in the character of family and popular life, it cannot be denied that Scandinavia has in Denmark its link with southern Europe, and that the southern life shows itself amongst the Danish people, oombined with the natural liveliness of disposition and manners of the islanders. The Danes have, of late years, undergone a great change, yet without losing their peculiar character. They have been born to a new life, or rather, they have awakened to a consciousness of their own proper life.
There is a spring-time also in the life of the people, when the inner life, as it were, bursts its limits and blossoms forth vigorously. These are the times when a people feels itself
a People, a living unity; an eternal, undying genius, with a peculiar existence, a peculiar mission in the history of mankind. Such a time does not come all at once, as by a stroke of magic. No; silent streams from the wells of life, silent influences of the sun, quickening winds, storms, or zephyrs, prepare it long beforehand. So in this case. What pure patriotism, what a great love for the humanly great, what genius and virtue effected through the men and women of Denmark; what the great kings of this little country, its warriors and poets have accomplished through the past centuries for the honour of the nation, for the good of the people, for the advancement of this spring of which we speak,—all that, wo must leave here unnoticed; little indeed of that has the historian recorded: who on earth knows the sources of the Nilo? But we revert to these things that we may not be wanting in justice and piety. The spring is come—the spring which they nobly prepared; and I will now speak of its phenomena as they have developed themselves within the last century, and especially within the last twenty or thirty years, as I have seen them, and see them at this moment in actual life. Regard this sketch as a faint attempt to reflect impressions for ever stamped on the heart's memory.
On Christmas Eve, 1848, a chill and cloudy winter's evening, I found myself in Copenhagen, in a large hall, where more than a hundred children, boys and girls, sung, danced, and made a joyous clamour around a lofty Christmas Tree, glittering with lights, flowers, fruits, cakes, and sweetmeats, up to the very ceiling.
But brighter than the lights in the tree shone the gladness in the eyes of the children, and the bloom of health on their fresh countenances. A handsome, stately, middle-aged lady in black went round amongst the children, with a motherly grace, examining their work in sewing and handicraft arts, encouraging and rewarding them in an affectionate manner. The children pressed round her and looked up to her, all seeming to love, none to fear her.
It was a charity-school in which I found myself; it was Denmark's motherly but childless Queen, Caroline Amalia, whom I here saw surrounded by poor children whom she had made her own. It was a beautiful scene; and what I here saw was also an image of a life, a movement, which at this time extends through the whole social life of the North. It is the womanly, the motherly movement in society, expanding itself to a wider circle, to the care of the whole raco of children beyond the limits of home; to the enfranchisement, the elevation of all neglected infancy. It is the maternal advance from the individual life into the general, to the erection of a new home. The asylum is an expanded embrace. There Christian love makes restitution for the injustice of fortune. There the child seems to escape from the faults and the calamities of its parents, to be preserved for society at large, and to be educated for its benefit. Silently proceeds the maternal power to give a new birth to the human race in its earliest years. But we rely on this power more than on any other on earth for the accomplishment of this work, if ever such a new birth is really to take place. And that the women of the North more clearly seem to acoept this mission, and that the Queens of the North, Carolina Amalia in Denmark, and Josephina in Sweden, march at the head of this maternal movement, it is only a duty to acknowledge. Nor do these ladies confine themselves to the care of childhood; they extend their beneficent activity through a variety of channels to the children of misfortune, to the solitary, the sick, the old and neglected in society, who are sought out and assisted or consoled by the more fortunate.* Blessed is material help in the huts of the needy; but still more blessed is the intellectual result which is effected by the personal, affectionate sympathy of the rich, whether in intellectual or worldly wealth, for the poor in society.
To this, an activity not less on the part of the men associates itself, supporting it and continuing it where it ceases. We will merely give an example of this. About thirty years ago, there swarmed in the streets of Copenhagen a multitude of lads from ten to fifteen years of age, like those in Stockholm, who are called Hamnbtuar, or ragamuflins; a repulsive race, in filthy garments, and with wild thievish eyes; the children of crime and misery, and growing up in all wickedness, for ever on the watch for robbery and mischief. A government officer, who about that time received an office in the police, Mr. A. Drewsen, was struck by the prevalence of this class, laid it to heart, and with other similarly disposed and philanthropic men formed a plan to extirpate this growing evil by a thorough and searching remedy. When he had matured his scheme, he called on his fellowcitizens for assistance. He did not call in vain. Liberal subscriptions flowed in from all sides;
•One of the most actively useful societies in Copenhagen ou^bt to be mentioned. "The Female Association of Nurses," under the patronage of the Queen, and the management of the chief Lady of the Court of the Queen, the universally respected Mrs. Koseuoru.
and by their means the young criminals were speedily removed from the capital to the remote provinces, where they were placed in good and orderly families, chiefly those of farmers. Transplanted into a better soil, these young shoots of vice almost wholly changed their nature, and became good and serviceable members of society; while ever since this period the amount of crime in the capital has signally decreased,* and the public good has as sensibly improved under the continued culture of the before neglected youth. Very rarely now is the eye or the mind shocked in the streets of Copenhagen by the sight of mendicant children.
Here we have the Nile-sources in society, those which are concealed in the heart, and which go forth out of their silent deeps to constitute the stream of beneficence, and fill the land with good corn. There are also silent blessings. No voice proclaims them on earth, but they rest with a secret sun-power on the benefactors, whether the day is stormy or the night dark and oblivious.
Denmark's motherly women; men like Drewsen, V. Osten, Brink-Seidelin, and others; and the venerable Collin, the minister of two kings, and to whom his country and its people owe so much on many accounts, cannot be without such blessings.
For the rest, it can do us no harm to listen to the words of these men, in the report which they have lately made of their operations in the above-mentioned departments.
"Many," say they, "are the circumstances with which we have become acquainted by placing ourselves in connexion with the families whose children have been taken under our care, and we have through them arrived at the conviction, that the great objects which those who desire to improve the condition of the labouring classes, above all others, ought to aim at, are:—a stricter morality; a more conscientious education of the children; more steadiness in labour and for the individual development during it; a greater regard for the sacredness of marrioge, and its importance in society; and a more universal taste for the enjoyment of domestic life. Guided by these convictions, our association has proceeded with the education of children. It will henceforth receive increased activity in this direction, and we are persuaded, that although at the present moment, other circumstances demand great sacrifices, the labours of the association will
• Another cause of this ought, however, to be taken into account; the more favourable circumstances of recent years in trade and cheapness of food, the consequence of which has been a growing prosperity amongst the working classes, plenty of employment and good wages, Ac. In Denmark there is no genuine proletariat.
not be crippled for lack of the accustomed aid."
This aid is frequently called for; for whatever is needed in Denmark for the promotion of a better condition of the people, is in no country more readily granted. No calls arc made in the name of humanity, for the support of the general or of particular good, which are not eagerly responded to. Such a fountain lies in the heart of a people. There are gold mines richer, more inexhaustible than those of California.
The Dane does not willingly talk of his heart. He will frequently pretend to himself and others, that he has no great quantity of "that article." But he is fundamentally a cordial and good-natured man. No one loves more warmly, more faithfully than he. First of all, his fatherland. The Dane loves Denmark as his bride; his young, wedded wife. Holger, the Dane, the people's national genius, warm-hearted, true, brave, always at hand in the time of need, is the symbol of the people'slife.
The Dane in Copenhagen, or the Copenhagener, is not quite so good-natured as the Dane in general; he has frequently head at the expense of heart. He is critical. He has a quick glance for the faulty and the ludicrous in his neighbour, especially in the literary world. Holberg's spirit still lives in Copenhagen. And truly this critical disposition is frequently in the excess, and it does sometimes exaggerate the little failing more than is either handsome or reasonable. But this is not dangerous. The good-humoured smile is still near at hand, and the hand is ready for conciliation. Revenge and malice are unknown to the Dane; he abhors ill nature; and if he sees any one pursued by ill-will, he is immediately on his side, crying, " Hold! I cannot allow that!"
The Danes in Copenhagen appear to strangers a lively, joyous, life-enjoying, and in a high degree, amiable people; open-hearted, sympathizing, and ready to oblige. In many respects, they remind you of the Athenians, as Copenhagen, with its stirring and vivacious populace, its museums, its galleries and artists, its learned men and their lectures, its theatre-life and the people's enjoyment of it, may well be styled the northern Athens. Copenhagen bears the same relation to Denmark, that Paris does to France. It is the centre, the organic point of the land where sits the life and the soul. The quiet Stockholm would be astonished could it come on a visit to Copenhagen, and see the life and the activity there, and how the people there, principally in certain streets, swarm about one another; run amongst each other; throng and push one another; and as if not troubling themselves
about it, retain through it all their goodhumour. A silent party at Stockholm wonld actually be confounded at the bustle and lond loquacity in the drawing-rooms of Copenhagen. This produces not a harmonious, but a lively effect; while the frank kindness which is shown to the stranger, cannot but present life to him in a pleasant aspect.
But to praise politeness in drawing-rooms, is just as much as boasting that there is bread in bakers' shops. No, if you will become acquainted with the amiable disposition of the Danish people, yon must go into the streets, amongst the people, who are called "the rabble;" see them in their traffic and mutual intercourse; talk with them; ask your way; beg a favour, and so on; and you will be amazed at the good-will, the politeness, and the readiness to oblige which you will meet with, till you are compelled to say, " In Copenhagen there is no rabble."
In Copenhagen you will be obliged to say to yourself, "the Danes are a good-looking people." You see very many pleasant countenances, though but few handsome ones. The contour is more oval, the features finer than in Sweden. In Sweden prevail more strength and beauty of the eyes; in Denmark it is the pleasant and living expression of the mouth. The complexion is fresh, and the expression of the countenance gladsome and kind. The ladies dress with taste and elegance. You see many black silk cloaks or mantillas; white bonnets with flowers or feathers floating about in the "Esplanade," the "Lange-Linie," along the Sound; in the " Bredegade," and the "Oestergade"—Ocstergade, frightful to the memory of every quiet soul unaccustomed to the bustle of Copenhagen, and who feels himself in the predicament of wanting to purchase articles of clothing. For whatever you want, bonnet, cap, lace, ribbons, shawl, material for dresses, parasol, umbrella, gloves, stockings, shoos, for all these you are directed to the Oestergade. And when you arrive in this street, morning, noon, or night, whatever be the time, you find that the whole city is there already, purchasing, walking, talking, and looking about. If you are in the dangerous condition of being obliged to hasten through the Oestergade, in order to reach the other side of the city, then, poor, inexperienced wanderer, commit thy soul into God's hand, and make thy way as thou canst. But prepare thyself for exertion, opposition, and vexation. For at the very commencement, as thou attemptcst to advance, three ladies and five servants, each with a basket on her arm, stop the way; and if thou attempt to pass to the right, there comes a crew of sailors in full speed; if to the left, two gentlemen in the greatest hurry, cigar in
month, crush in before thee, while seven trading dames meet thee at the same moment, and if thou wilt pass between them thou art hindered by a man and his wife, who go arm-in-arm, not as if wedded, but welded together. Throng follows throng; thou canst no longer distinguish individuals, and as thou makest a pause that thou mayst not trample to death or smother a little child that comes between thee and the others, there darts a shop-boy out of a shop headlong past thee into the street, so close to thy nose that thou art confounded not to find it flattened to thy face, at the same instant that an old gentleman treads on thy heels' behind.
If thou escapest from the pavement to the middle of the street, there thou art met by fresh throngs of people; of carriages which rattle on with a deafening sound, of carts which block up the way; and if thou art so fortunate as to get through them, may the same good luck attend thee all the way up the long street, past Wimmelskraft, and to the Old Market. And all this time Copenhagen's furious wind does its utmost to tear away your cloak and your head, or at least your bonnet!
I will candidly confess before all Copenhagen that I detest the Oestcrgade, and all the people in it, i. e., so long as they are in it; that I look upon the Oestergade as a sort of Inferno, and wandering through it as a penance which we have to do for our sins. Oestergade makes me thoroughly misanthropied. Oestergade I would strike out of the list of Copenhagen streets, or rather distribute it amongst several of them. Oestergade I never desire to see again. Oestergade I now quit—and probably for ever.
But long live gay Copenhagen, with or without Oestergade. There exists throughout a vernal, youthfully stirring life, which involuntarily impresses and attracts the beholder. If we begin by striving against the stream, we end by willingly swimming with it, and do very well this way, at least for a time. We do not go into society at Copenhagen to reflect upon life. The joyous population of Copenhagen is always in motion, always going to and fro. It is always in quest of some novelty; desires to amuse itself; to enjoy the hour and the day. In winter there are theatres, masquerades, museums, all that can excite the taste for the beautiful or the comic. In spring itis "Skovenc," (the woods.) When the beechwoods are in leaf, the population of Copenhagen rashes forth to see the woods. Charlottenlund and the Park swarm with people. The families drive out and drink tea in the shadow of the bush-groves, when the nightingales sing in the blossoming thorn. "Have you seen the woods?" is a general question in Copenhagen, at this season, to the stranger; for the stranger VOL. vi. 12
is not forgotten in Copenhagen. He must partake of the best that the people have—he must partake of their good things—he must in spring go out and see "Skovene,"—be present at the family festivity in the Park, just as in winter he must see Thorwaldsen's museum, Holberg's comedies, and other masterpieces of the Danish stage.
The theatre is the favourite amusement of the Danes. And in truth there is stirring life here;—life in the bringing out of the piece; life in its performance; life in the interest felt in it by the spectators. It is but a small theatre, that in which, of late, so many great dramas have been brought out, so many great performers have made their appearance; but how pleasant, how full of life! There is a life in these crowded boxes, a quick perception, a sympathetic movement in this public, which involuntarily communicates itself to all. And then there are the benches (seats) appropriated by the court to the literary men, where the poets sit, where the people behold their favourites; where Thorwaldsen died during a symphony of Beethoven's; where the people say every night, "Look! there sits Ochlenschlager, Herz, Andersen," and many others.
"Not for pleasure only!" is the inscription over the temple of Thalia, in Copenhagen. And he who has seen the tragedies of Ochlenschlager and Herz, the comedies of Holberg, Herz, and Heiberg, of Overskou and Hauch; who has seen them performed here by Nielson and his wife, by Rosenkilde and his daughter, by Phistcr, by the young Wiche, and the fascinating Mrs. Hirberg, the pearl of the Danish stage, the rarest talent of the whole country; he who has seen the ballets of Bournonville, perfect works of art of their kind,— will acknowledge that the moral spirit of the North has given an ennobling influence to the magic power of the drama; that the theatre is not only for pleasure. We do not merely amuse ourselves, we become better while we are amused. The mind is lifted up to a noble longing after a higher, a more beautiful spectacle than that of every-day life, to a presentiment of the grandeur of the human being, whether in his deepest suffering or his highest pleasure.
That which at the present time, beyond everything else, distinguishes the dramatic art of Denmark is its nationality; its popular character, in the highest sense of the term. They are the people's own heroes and heroines; their own good old times, which cause the popular heart to beat for Palnatoke, Hakon, Jarl, Queen Margarota, Axel, and Valborg; it is their own follies and their own original characters which make them laugh so heartily at the comedies of Holberg, at the "April Fools," and many other later pieces; it is the poetical, mystical, life of tho people which charms so much in "The Elves," in the "Disguised Swan," and the '• Fairies' Hill;" it is the present, every-day life over which the people laugh or cry in "A Sunday at Amager," "Mr. Saveall," "Opposite Neighbours," and such like. In this way the drama contributes in no small degree to strengthen the national mind.
I had been told indeed, that the theatres in Copenhagen were full, but that the churches on the contrary, stood empty, and that but little edification was to be expected therefrom. I found it to be otherwise. I found the churches to be filled with people, and I heard in them excellent preachers, not only on account of their living delivery, but of their living doctrines. Bishop Mynster, MartenSen, and Pacli 'are Christian teachers whom no one can hear without admiration and delight; and in Varton, the church in which old Gbundtvio preaches powerfully every Sunday, may be heard singing (often to the old popular melodies), which proves that the people is also an assembly—a "congregation."
There was a time, and that not very long since, when it was otherwise with the religious life of Denmark; when this seemed to be an extinguished flame; when theology lay bound in narrow forms; when the teachers lacked spirit, and the hearers devotion. But a people cannot be born again without its being so in the depths of its existence—without becoming more conscious of its central as well as of its outward life.
Thus it is with tho people of Denmark. In every circle of social life, in the church, in art, in science, in government, has the new spring called forth new life, new forms of light. I will now speak of the bearers of light, of the happy "children of the reddening dawn," to whom it was permitted to bring forth the now light; of the men of genius, of the great men of Denmark, the elder and the younger, who have been produced within this century. And we question whether history can show any country where, in so short a space of time, and out of so small a population, so great a number of distinguished spirits have been produced.
In the morning of the century, Mynsteb and Gbundtvio stood prominently forth in the church, announcing, with the fire of the Spirit, and with words of power, the old, eternally new doctrines of religion. Mynster, scientifie, explicit, harmonious; Grundtvig (a volcanic nature), with all the spirit and power of the old prophets. Mynster's spiritual discourses soon spread from Denmark to Sweden and Norway; Grundtvig's hymns, as well as Ingemanu's and
Boye's, gave new life to the church song of Denmark. To these succeeded many remarkable Christian thinkers and pastors, yet far before them all still stand these two, Mynster with the fire of youth beneath his snow-white hair, proclaiming the immortal word of hope, whilst Grundtvig, foremost among the seers and bards of Denmark, oasts flaming glances now over the deeps of immortal life, now over the myths of antiquity, which he interprets into philosophic themes and poems, then over the young dawning day of Scandinavia, and the union of the sister peoples.
It is remarkable that the new birth of literature after the Reformation began with a deeply religious tone. It was the hymns of Kinoo's which commenced, as it were, that epoch, and the hymns of Kingo afford still the most popular reading of the Danish people. Next after Kingo comes Holberg, in whom the national comic humour showed itself, and at once burst forth into bloom. People say that Holberg was melancholy and sometimes misanthropic. I can easily believe it. How can a person be otherwise who incessantly occupies himself with the follies and failings of his fellow-beings? These two, Bo unlike in genius, stand at the commencement of the eighteenth century. Towards its close comes Evald, another deeply serious and pious bardic nature, in whom appear glimpses of the popular life, mostly in Idylls. To him succeeded the humorous poets, Wessel and Bagorsen. It was not, however, until the nineteenth century that the self-consciousness of the people and its art had its full development.
It was a Norman, but of Danish descent, born in the mountainous region of Norway—it was Hrnbik Steppens who awoke the slumbering seed in the morning of the nineteenth century. . Ardent, full of genius and eloquence, he made his first appearance in the capitol of Denmark in the year 1806, as a lecturer on the philosophy which foretold a new teaching of life, of thought, of the principles and innermost life of everything. By his captivating power, by his enthusiastic love for the ideal of life; inexhaustible in his grand views, designs, and presentiments, he carried every one along with him. He went forth like a fire-ship, casting forth and all around him burning words, inflammable lightning. And they communicated fire.
There stood around him then the morning stars which were ascending on the horizon of Denmark, in the twilight of the early dawn— the young worshippers of poetry and science— I and listened and learned. But Steffens, rich in genius but one-sided, glowing but obscure, could not retain his hold on them. All stooped down to drink from the rich waters of the Urdar fountain of life, and arose to go each