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The Fantasists by John Lynch

The Fantasists by John Lynch

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This captivating and whimsical tale introduces three boys growing up in the Danish countryside: the narrator, Conrad, the squire's son; Christian, the parson's son; and Thomas, the cowherd. We share in the exuberant fantasies of Conrad and Christian, as they imagine heroic military exploits, journeys to exotic faraway lands and other adventures.

Thomas's robust common sense punctures their make-believe, but, when Conrad and Christian leave home to study in Copenhagen, their fantasies assume new and extravagant forms. Will these young men prove equal to the demands of adult life? What role might romantic attachments play in this process? The Fantasists is a beautifully written tale, which points up both the dangers and the benefits of fantasy. Its undercurrent of mordant satire and an entertaining plot with many twists and turns will engage the reader from the opening scene.
This captivating and whimsical tale introduces three boys growing up in the Danish countryside: the narrator, Conrad, the squire's son; Christian, the parson's son; and Thomas, the cowherd. We share in the exuberant fantasies of Conrad and Christian, as they imagine heroic military exploits, journeys to exotic faraway lands and other adventures.

Thomas's robust common sense punctures their make-believe, but, when Conrad and Christian leave home to study in Copenhagen, their fantasies assume new and extravagant forms. Will these young men prove equal to the demands of adult life? What role might romantic attachments play in this process? The Fantasists is a beautifully written tale, which points up both the dangers and the benefits of fantasy. Its undercurrent of mordant satire and an entertaining plot with many twists and turns will engage the reader from the opening scene.

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Published by: Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. on Apr 15, 2013
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11/20/2013

About the Author Hans Egede Schack was born on 2nd February 1820 in Sengeløse, on the Danish island

of Sjaelland (Zealand), where his father was a priest. Hans was the youngest son in a large family. He was taught at first by his father, then went to school in Christianshavn, where his father took up another appointment. Later he studied Law in Uppsala, Sweden, and held a number of legal posts throughout his life. Hans volunteered in the war of 1848 and became a noncommissioned officer. He then took up politics and from 1850 to 1853 was member of parliament for the constituencies of Praestø and Thisted. In 1854 he married Fanny Vendela Armida Hebbe, daughter of the Swedish authoress Wendela Hebbe. It was then that Hans‟s literary interests and talent emerged, His novel Phantasterne (The Fantasists) was published at Christmas, 1857. In 1858 he received a grant of 400 imperial dollars to undertake a study tour of Sweden and Germany, but died during the tour on 20th July 1859, in the spa town of Schlangenbad near Frankfurt am Main.

About the Translator John Lynch taught himself Danish and German, and later obtained the degree of BA in these languages at the University of Newcastle. He has taught English in Danish and German schools and has also worked in Sweden and Iceland. After studying at the University of East Anglia, he was awarded the degree of MA in Scandinavian Studies. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship and his varied career included a spell as a college tutor librarian in Banbury. In addition to the present work, John Lynch has also translated a number of short stories and other writings from both Danish and German.

Acknowledgements The translator wishes to thank the following for their contribution to this book: Lars Peter Rømhild, formerly lecturer in literature in the University of Copenhagen, for his helpful and perceptive introduction; Ruth Jones, for help with the translation; and Ralph Houlbrooke and David Kaye, for proofreading and preparing the text for publication.

Hans Egede Schack
Translated by John Lynch

The Fantasists

Copyright © J o h n L y n c h

The right of John Lynch to be identified as translator of This work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Any person who commits any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library. ISBN 978 1 84963 111 2 www.austinmacauley.com Translation Published (2013) Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. 25 Canada Square Canary Wharf London E14 5LB

Printed & Bound in Great Britain

Introduction
by Lars Peter Rømhild The Fantasists („Phantasterne‟) was the only novel completed by Hans Egede Schack, a young Danish Government official. It appeared in December, 1857, a long time ago, of course, but during a great period in the history of the European novel. It was the age of Dickens and Thackeray; George Eliot made her debut then as well. In Russia they were reading Goncharov‟s Oblomov and Turgenev‟s Rudin; that very same year Flaubert‟s Madame Bovary was published. Up to a point the theme of the Danish novel is the same as in the last-mentioned: a life of fantasy and a world of illusion as a dangerous path to follow, damaging for the individual and his associates. Fantasy in various definitions (Coleridge‟s „fancy‟ and „imagination‟, the Germans‟ „Einbildungskraft‟) had to a large extent been the watchword for the Romantic movement‟s aesthetics and in part its philosophy. Now one could see the cost this occasioned. And then there is a classic comic theme – familiar to us from that father of all novels, Cervantes‟ Don Quixote, and from the comedies of the Norwego-Danish writer Ludvig Holberg. They were both favourites of Schack as is evident from his novel. Yet The Fantasists is not simply a story of folly; like many novels of that time it is also a story of restoration and, in a manner of speaking, a story of resignation. The main character does manage to curb his manic tendencies, though for a long time it costs him dearly. In classical psychology any foolishness was a part of the personality, of a particular psychological disposition which could not be changed – consequently neither could the comedies of old do that, nor actually did more recent tragic works of narrative art. Schack‟s novel offered a more positive picture. In accordance with its plot one might well call the book Confessions of a fantasy addict, but it is entitled quite correctly The

Fantasists. For there are of course three characters involved in the fantasizing. They are three types – a little like the life stages defined by Schack‟s contemporary Søren Kierkegaar d, though in Schack they are not defined according to their distance from the religious absolute, but the distance from present realities: maximum distance – maximum abandonment to fantasizing – is catastrophic. Of the three – Thomas, Conrad, and Christian – the second is both narrator and the one who is critically, though not fatally, affected by fantasizing. His path again falls into three phases: that of fantast as far as the crisis; then the long cure and strict psychological regimen; finally the opportunity of enjoying a new fullness of life. In the first phase Conrad is a boy in the countryside and then a young adolescent in the capital city; his fantasies are concerned initially with historical exploits and feudal glory and thereafter erotic dreams. The latter are described with an uncannily penetrating eye for psychological pathology; here we certainly depart from the comic atmosphere of the beginning. This returns in a more subdued form in the recuperative phase with Conrad‟s experiences in the lower and higher echelons of government administration; here Schack is not nearly so acute as Dickens, for example, but certainly does not lack a sense for the amusing interplay between character and organisational responsibilities. The final phase sees Conrad getting over the long existential starvation diet and rediscovering nature and reality; it comes about through his love for a frank and cheerful young girl. The reader may well raise an eyebrow on learning that the person in question is nothing less than an exiled Spanish princess. Right from the time of publication this circumstance has excited discussion among readers and critics. Does it indicate that in spite of everything the author is relapsing into wishful thinking, the fantasizing which in other respects the novel aims at condemning? Or is Conrad‟s love for Blanca, irrespective of whether her status as princess is acknowledged or repudiated, precisely evidence that he has completely mastered fantasizing with all its inherent snobbery? For what the fantasies of Conrad and Christian have centred on are of course characteristic ideas and social idolizations of the time. Thereby something of the book‟s comedy also becomes political and cultural satire. One notes that this is a product of 1848 (the genesis of the novel spanned a good half score years),

Conrad‟s and Christian‟s fantasies reduce adoration of the aristocracy and historical and military romanticism (this had been strong in Denmark) to absurdity. Not least, the fantasies are about rank and birth, in short the (often nationalistic) principles of feudalism and royalty, plus Bonarpartism‟s gloire (which had cost Napoleon‟s ally Denmark so dearly in the early decades of the century). They are given heightened emphasis by the sceptical views of Thomas, the farm lad. Schack was a democrat and Liberal. The boys are acquainted with these historical idols in particular through the agency of literature: school history books and the Hofog Statskalender (the Court and State Almanac). Other aspects of this romanticism, too, are familiar to them through a literary medium, which provides Schack with an opportunity for a lethal parody and particularly Thomas‟s saucy questions . Thus „Christian‟s Novelette‟ clearly draws on the domestic Biedermeier narrative genre of the time. Schack was a realist and democrat, the first most decisively. One can also observe one aspect of the emergent democracy: the publicistic and oratorical display in the „People‟s Celebrations at Bøgebjerg‟. This would not have been altogether pleasant reading for certain of Schack‟s political fellowpartisans. Schack was certainly a Liberal, but always allergic towards empty phrases: duplicity, hypocrisy and self-deception. In a less light-hearted, but still unmistakeable manner Schack‟s topical critical attitude is evident with regard to erotic romanticism, as manifest in Aunt Therese‟s suppressed sexuality and Conrad‟s Werther-like infatuation, which is muffled in perverse feelings. Half a century later in the age of Freud there was nothing implausible in this pathography, but it had an extremely provocative effect in print in the prim Denmark of 1857; this was partly because in Conrad‟s diary it is expressed from within. In other places the narrator distances himself through his irony or by providing an advocate for a sobering good sense: in particular one finds Thomas confronting the feudal romanticism, whilst repressed eroticism is challenged by the physician Doctor Holm. Through the latter an anti-clerical criticism, too, is expressed. Did Schack include religion, as well, in the fantasizing? The State religion at any rate, even though the teasing is in a milder form than Søren Kierkegaard‟s frontal attack on the same (in The Moment, 1854–55). Whilst Schack‟s work contains no obvious scandal and

provocation, mischief was suspected. There is no adversary to contradict Dr. Holm. (Aunt Therese‟s religiosity is nice enough, but for the most part comme-il-faut.) What is worse, the character most positive and least inclined to fantasy – Thomas – is named after the doubting apostle, and, more especially, the friend gradually and irremediably mentally deranged is called Christian; he ends up at a mental institution, where he goes around playing Christ with a wretched Zacchaeus in tow. It can, of course, be regarded as very humorous, as the fantast overreaching himself to the ultimate extent. But does it not then border on blasphemy? Schack‟s novel has some positive but many negative points of contact with the Danish literature of his time. On the title page the author figured simply as „E. S.‟, but within the inner circles it was well enough known who that was. The book aroused great attention amongst the critics in Denmark and Sweden, both approval and indignation. A. M. Goldschmidt, a writer of note and for all practical purposes the best novelist of the time in the sphere of Poetic Realism, asked in a piqued tone, if this was supposed to be poetry, and found the whole book to be „a subdued but profound mockery of idealism‟. Precisely! Thus Schack can certainly be described as an „outsider‟ amongst his contemporaries. His experience was similar to that of the French author Stendhal, for not until a generation later did he find his most supportive critics and literary successors, writers such as J. P. Jacobsen and Holger Drachmann; that was in the 1870s during the „Modern Breakthrough‟ in Danish literature led by Georg Brandes. Schack himself was born the son of a Zealand clergyman in 1820, and named after the Danish missionary in Greenland (a century earlier) Hans Egede. Unlike his elder brother and two sisters, he did not remain in the vicarage milieu. He had a lively and cheerful disposition, and if he took a relatively long time to complete his law studies (he only took his degree in 1844), it was due to his energetic participation in the Liberal and Scandinavist movement amongst university students during the 1840s which provided a substantial basis for Denmark‟s transition from absolutism to constitutional monarchy and democracy. Schack was a member – the youngest – of the assembly elected to formulate the

new constitution of 1849; afterwards he sat for some years in the Folketing (the Lower House of Parliament). Apart from this he worked in the Government administration, amongst other things as secretary to one of the new regime‟s prime ministers , the mathematician C. G. Andræ, who was his brother-in-law as it happened. In 1848 Schack had participated as a volunteer in the First Slesvig War, but immediately after this took up a position against Danish chauvinism by recommending a partition according to the principle of national self-determination – i.e. the DanoGerman border first established by plebiscite in 1920 after one more Slesvig War and the First World War. Posterity has speculated as to whether Schack himself was a fantasist. At all events as a politician he was not, and as a private individual hardly more than any other person – in spite of certain bizarre and amusing habits. He left a number of lengthy and highly readable fragments of a further novel A qualified truth („Sandhed med Modification‟), first published in 1954. This described amongst other things a boy‟s relationship with his authoritatively pedagogical father. A very different story from The Fantasists, where Conrad‟s father was excluded. There is probably more autobiographical material in A qualified truth than in The Fantasists. In 1854 H. E. Schack had married a beautiful and talented Swedish girl, Fanny Hebbe, who inherited from her family a somewhat southern appearance, but was not at all a Spanish princess. She was the daughter of Wendela Hebbe, a female intellectual of note in Stockholm‟s Liberal journalistic circle . However, as early as 1859 Schack died at a German health resort from an indeterminate (somatic) complaint which had troubled him for some years; diagnosis at that time was not always informative. His death was a great loss to Danish literature, and this single completed novel is something we appreciate still. Now John Lynch, who knows and loves the book well, has rendered it into English, so that a wider public with another language and in another age has the possibility of getting to know this old Danish classic novel. I hope that they will appreciate at least some of its humour, its psychology and its moral.

I
Somewhere in Zealand a few years ago stood a venerable oak tree which the local villagers claimed with a certain pride was over a thousand years old. It is hardly likely that this story was true, and perhaps to show its displeasure at the oft repeated lie Heaven opened its gates one November night, letting loose a storm which shattered the pride of the Parish. Next morning it lay prostrate on the field and young locals in their clogs trampled inquisitively amongst its great leafless branches, which up to then had only known the gentle feet of birds. People reckoned out how many paces the tree had measured in height and breadth, and one person was pointing out to another the exact place where it had snapped off, mournfully repeating again and again,‟ Look, that‟s where it was!‟ The Parson, who went down to view the casualty personally, gave expression to the common grief with a solemn „Fuit Ilium‟! 1 To which, less appositely, he added „Fuimus Troes‟! 2My revered uncle, the Squire, on whose land the tree had stood, acknowledged it as common property and demonstrated his liberal principles by sharing it out as firewood to the parish poor. Meanwhile our private tutor, who was not lacking in scholarly and aesthetic refinement, observed that this ancient tree which had its roots in paganism had received a fitting pagan funeral oration and pagan burial to boot. It would be unfair to burden the Reader with all the tales told about this old oak, especially as any number of other ancient oaks in the country might equally have claims put in for them: on summer evenings many a rosebud mouth is said to have yielded its first kiss here, whilst fairy vapours rising from the meadow swathed the whole in a veil of mist; whereas on winter nights, they say, the old, long-bearded troll was often seen „turning his silver in
1 2

Troy has gone (Virgil). We are Trojans no longer (Virgil).

the moonlight‟. Just over a score of years ago, however, the spot was haunted by characters of a more prosaic kind, since it was the usual rallying point for me and my two friends, Christian and Thomas. The former was the Parson‟s son who for several years had been destined for the training college, probably with an eye to the unusually good teaching-post which was in the gift of my uncle; but as his father‟s circumstances had improved meantime , he had now abandoned this path and devoted himself to preparing for the university entrance examination. The latter occupied the dignified office of cowherd on "the Farm" and had the main responsibility for our choice of meeting place, not so much on account of any pronounced feeling for the beauty of Nature, but because from here he would have the best view of his charges: fifty-six red cows and the Tyrolean white-faced bull, next to the oak tree our Parish‟s greatest claim to fame. Concealed in the hollow of the oak lay our pipes, forbidden articles at home, but here we lit them up with calm solemnity and a certain sang froid, as though it were perfectly normal; all the same we took good care beforehand that no unwelcome persons were about. Thomas provided a light from his tinder-box, in addition to which he was responsible for purchasing the requisite "Bishop‟s Tobacco" from the village stores; in return he was kept supplied with tobacco, the expense falling exclusively upon us persons of rank. Incidentally, both of my friends were older than me, Christian nearly one year, Thomas a couple of years; but as I was at least a match for Christian in learning and commanded Thomas‟s respect as the Squire‟s nephew and heir presumptive, this difference was no obstacle to our friendship. From early childhood on Christian and I enjoyed no other company of the same age and had, therefore, been compelled to confide in one another, when we had anything which needed to be confided. We derived so much pleasure from these mutual revelations that, eventually, not only did we tell one another about our real-life experiences but also our inner reveries and pipe-dreams, things one otherwise at a tender age keeps to oneself. Quite early on we had begun to study first Holberg3 and
3

Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754), dubbed the „Molière of the North‟ though his

writings extend far beyond comedy. His travels, described in entertaining fashion in the Memoirs, include a 2-year sojourn in England, mainly in Oxford.

then, in haphazard fashion, a motley selection of widely different authors; furthermore we always had time and seclusion enough to give our imagination free play with this material, so that in time it became an increasingly established rule that, once the events of the day had been discussed, we would set out on journeys into the Land of Ginistan, the name with which writers of the day frequently embellished their world of fantasy. Here we felt quite at home and moved with much more self-assurance than in real life, where we still suffered from the characteristic bashfulness and lack of confidence of our age group. The immortal deeds performed in our minds then became common property as it were, so that each of us could appropriate whatever appealed to him most and make himself the hero in it, though naturally must also accord the other the same right without any petty envy. During such diversions Thomas took the part of the silent and disregarded audience initially, but little by little he made claim to both a part and a voice, and though this caused us a lot of trouble on occasion, nevertheless it did eventually become an accepted fact which none of the parties thought of changing. As I sit at my desk now attempting to recapture on paper some of those shared excursions, it is not my intention to furnish examples of Pindaric flights of fancy or even simply the occasional flash of genius; rather it is to remind the dear Reader of those youthful or, if you will, childish pursuits which he himself engaged in at a similar stage in life, when he, too, fantasized and made large demands upon the future which would never be realised. Having left childhood behind many people feel almost diffident about recalling the time when they saw themselves as the hero in everything they heard and read about; more often than not, however, it is possible to find in all this curious traces of the manner in which one makes a hero or a fool of oneself in later life; I feel that I too can detect such things in my own fantasy-exploits and those of my young friends at that time. Dear Reader, you must prepare yourself to find more of that kind rather than so-called actual events in this biography of three fantasists: for a fantasist develops through his fantasies, just as other people do through actions and events. And so it came about that on one occasion some years ago we had gathered at our usual meeting place. It was June 18; as

Christian was sixteen on this particular day he received sympathetic congratulations from the assembly. After expressing his thanks in a few, but well-chosen words, he showed us his presents; then we spent some time reviewing happenings of note since our last meeting. During these proceedings I remarked that the day itself was noteworthy; endorsing this Christian added with some pride, that it was not given to everyone to be born on June 18, 1815. When Thomas, after having conceded this incontestable truth, expressed doubt as to whether the day was more remarkable than any other day of the year, he was apprised with restrained hauteur of the fact that on this day Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo – a communication which he received more or less unmoved, however, replying, „Well, I‟ve probably read about it; but, after all, it doesn‟t really matter to us.‟ Such talk could be very provocative for a young student at the time. Napoleon III had not yet begun to take the shine off the image of the first Napoleon; on the contrary this was gleaming as never before, and everywhere one came across evidence which served to glorify it. Every package from the local book club contained memoirs; every newspaper had anecdotes about him. His portrait hung on the wall of our garden-room; on Uncle‟s snuff-box he was pictured amongst the weeping willows of St. Helena. If there was any singing at our country soirees, then it was Bertrand‟s Farewell, and if there was any dancing, then the Duke of Reichstadt‟s Waltz was played. In short Napoleon was the hero in nearly every fantasy; that being the case the coolness of our young cowherd was impossible to tolerate with composure. „No, my good Thomas!‟ I began, taking up the argument with warmth, „that‟s where you are quite wrong. It really does matter to us. Because Napoleon was a friend of us Danes, and if he had won not only would we not have lost Norway but gained Sweden as well. And if we had had any self-respect at that time, we would have behaved differently and helped him to the very last gasp. It‟s something,‟ I continued, „I‟ve often thought about, I would like to have been the King of Denmark at that time instead of the one we had. In that event I would have dashed down through Germany with the Army and reached Waterloo precisely between seven and eight in the evening. How I would have set about the Prussians just as they were pressing the French hardest! I can just picture

Napoleon, standing on a hill between Ney and Soult in the middle of the battle, already believing everything to be lost, when at that moment Soult points out to him a commotion amongst the Prussians and fresh columns of troops on the horizon. Ney shouts that it is Grouchy. “No,” the Emperor replies curtly, lowering the telescope from his eye, “it‟s only more British troops, they have red uniforms.” But suddenly the Prussians scatter to all sides; they stop firing, and the red cavalry demonstrates in no uncertain fashion that it does not regard them as friends.‟ „Yes, I‟ll stake everything on our cavalry,‟ Thomas burst out confidently, „and that against all comers! I don‟t think there‟s anyone that‟s better horsemen, neither of one kind nor another. For I saw that for myself last Autumn, when I went with our Niels and the militia-horse to the manoeuvres – so I know it‟s no lie.‟ „Oh, no,‟ replied Christian, „but I do have to point out that though the Danish and Neapolitan horses are probably the best roadsters there are, it doesn‟t necessarily mean that they‟re excellent as saddle-horses to the same degree; all the same I‟m certain they can outmatch those of the Prussians. – Well, and what does our Emperor say now to this turn of events?‟ „Why, he‟s very pleased and says “Qu’est-ce que cela! – They really are smashing the Prussians”.‟ „No, let‟s think what he might say in French.‟ „In French? Yes, now that‟s not so easy. He might say, “Ils écrasent les Prussiens – Mon dieu! ce sont des Danois:voilà leur jeune roi! Ah, le brave garçon; il a sauvé la France!” Now, I think that could be a really interesting moment, when we two meet there in the middle of the battlefield: I, the young head of the House of Oldenburg, today fighting his first battle – and he, who has fought hundreds of battles and won for himself a crown, which today he owes to me. In my opinion, that‟s what you can call a real belle alliance.’ „Yes, well, I dare say that‟s right and proper,‟ Thomas said after pausing for a bit. „But, all the same, when I think about it my view is that he ought to give us something in return – otherwise it‟s a bit much that we should go out of our way to do something for people we don‟t even know.‟ „Surely you know, Thomas, it is written that we shouldn‟t simply look after our own interests, but also those of our

neighbours?‟ „Well, a lot of things are written. You can‟t do everything. If the Emperor had helped us, you can bet he‟d have wanted something for it.‟ „We are going to get something. You needn‟t be afraid of that. When he wanted the Russian emperor on his side, he offered him half of Europe; and he could hardly offer us less now. Incidentally, in the first place I should probably be content with what belonged to Denmark at the time of the Union. 4„ „Well, yes, I suppose that‟s all right – as far as it goes,‟ retorted Thomas. „But still it would be better, if we had a map to look at. Then we could get a true picture of how everything is to be.‟ I sought to meet this request by offering the little map of Europe on the inside-cover of my pocket-book. But as usual Thomas was not really satisfied. „It‟s so cramped, you can‟t see the slightest thing on it,‟ he said. „I can‟t even find Zealand.‟ „Yes, that little island there, that‟s Zealand.‟ „What, that pinhead there is supposed to be Zealand! That‟s what you call making fools of people and no mistake. According to that our town wouldn‟t even be as big as an ant.‟ Christian, who had been sitting there turning a red rose green with tobacco smoke, now looked at the map for a few moments, then said, „Do you know what? What belonged to Denmark in the Union time will be too little. We really ought to have everything that has ever belonged to Denmark; I admit that at the moment there is hardly any prospect of getting England, because given its situation as an island and as a great sea power it will be safe against our attack for the time being. But if we can‟t have all the conquests of Canute the Great, then at least we shall have all those of Valdemar the Victorious and Queen Margrete. So, apart from Norway and Sweden, I want West and East Pomerania, Mecklenburg and Prussia itself, together with Oldenburg, which quite clearly must come under the old Oldenburg line and consequently under the Danish royal house. Along with this follow also Hamburg, Lübeck, Bremen and Verden, together with, I think, for the sake of rounding it off, preferably the whole of Hanover. In the same way Estonia, Courland and Livonia, Ingermanland,
4

Kalmar Union (1397), bringing together Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Karelia and Kexholm ought to be re-united with Denmark. Russia must also give up Finland which was taken from Sweden illegally, so that we gain control of all the Baltic coasts. – When that is done, I think I would create from the whole a Baltic Empire which could only be passed down on the male and not the distaff line, because a woman would never be able to rule such a vast state. In the North Sea I shall take possession of Heligoland immediately; so far as the Orkney and Shetland Islands are concerned, I think that one could probably put pressure on England to give up these old Norwegian possessions voluntarily, or at any rate upon payment of the amount for which they were pledged once upon a time; for it is a wellknown fact, of course,‟ Christian went on in a casual tone which was not entirely moderate, „that they were surrendered by Christian I, who was always hard up, to the Scots King James III as a security for Christian‟s daughter Margrethe‟s dowry, but never redeemed later.‟ With these words, as was usual when he demonstrated weighty historical learning, Christian looked around with an expression demanding appreciation. However, this was unlikely to be forthcoming, for I was all too familiar with the sources from which he drew his knowledge to be appreciative, and as for Thomas, very little in this sphere meant much to him. Christian, though, was too well used to not being appreciated for this to depress him. Looking away again, he let his eyes glide over the map a few times more and continued, „Well – otherwise there isn‟t exactly a lot in the North Sea which belonged to us earlier on.‟ But to judge from his wistful look, I fear that in spite of its situation as an island and its great sea power England would have had to suffer in the end if, fortunately for it, we had not been interrupted by a shout from Jakob, the head farm-hand, „Thomas, hurry up and water the cattle, then come home and get something to eat! It‟s almost midday.‟ This double summons brooked no delay and so averted the threat to imperilled Albion. Thomas took the Tyrolean bull under his personal charge, while we others drove the more tranquil cows. In this manner we arrived safely at the well, which everyone on the farm declared to be bottomless; it was in fact considered inadvisable even to try to find the bottom, for once, when a more incredulous squire had caused a rope with a heavy lead-weight on the end to be lowered a hundred fathoms down, it really did seem

as if the bottom had been reached; but when they pulled the rope up again the lead-weight had gone. In its place hung a horse‟s head which grinned at them all in no uncertain manner. And what that meant, was clear enough to everyone. In the evening, when the shadow of the oak tree had grown long enough to reach all the way to the stone wall, we again joined Thomas who, just like his forerunners the Greek herdsmen, was fashioning his own pipes, first tapping loose the bark of a willow twig though without breaking it, then removing the white wood and cutting it to shape, before inserting it again. „Now you‟ll be able to hear me playing!‟ he called out to us, and piped a piece which only lacked the Jutish moorland as background for it to have all the melancholy quality of the golden plover‟s celebrated call. When this artistic treat had gone on for a suitable period, Christian again brought the conversation round to deeds of daring-do and asked me, if I had thought up any further expedition. „No,‟ I answered,‟ but as I was walking in the garden earlier on, I thought of what it would be like to come home again, having accomplished all that we talked about; after having become Emperor of the Baltic as a result, I would then make my entry into Copenhagen, which is admirably placed to be the capital of such an empire, returning with the whole army after, let‟s say, seven years‟ absence. „The procession would enter through Vesterport , and my twelve famous marshals would ride nearest to me, six in front and six behind; they could very well have the same names as Napoleon‟s marshals and, in fact, actually be the same; we might in fact pretend that he had some others. They will ride three abreast, two ranks in front of me, two behind. In the first I‟ll have Murat, who is to be King of Spain, Bernadotte, who shall have Naples and Sicily instead of Norway and Sweden, which I shall keep for myself, of course, and Poniatowsky who will be King of Poland: that‟s the royal line. In the second rank come the Prince of Eckmühl Davoust, the Prince of Esslingen Massens and the Prince of Moscow, Ney: that‟s the princely line. In the third rank come the Duke of Dalmatia Soult, the Duke of Montebello Lannes and the Duke of Abrantes Junot: that‟s the ducal line. In the fourth rank, finally, I will have the Vendee‟s General Hoche, Egypt‟s General Kleber and Marengo‟s General Dessaix – these three can well do

without titles.‟ This last statement, I believe, probably derives from my uncle rather than from me, just as on the whole I‟m inclined to suppose that my extensive knowledge of the French marshals‟ titles and ranks was not unrelated to his special interest in that glorious period during his youth. – However, without allowing reflections of this sort to detract from my pleasure, I went on: „Between the two first and the two last ranks there is a distance of about a dozen yards – there I shall be riding alone. The very moment I ride through the gate, the first of 101 cannon shots rings out and tremendous rejoicing erupts in the City, though it stops again almost at the same instant; for they know that the Emperor is coming. But when they actually catch sight of him, as I emerge slowly and solitary from the long, dark gateway, the jubilation breaks out again ten times louder; all the men raise their hats and shout hurrah, and the ladies wave their white handkerchiefs; people swarm out on to the street and golden apples dance on the fountain in the square.‟ As I paused to draw breath Christian, who had followed the whole triumphal procession with great interest, now expressed his approval. „But,‟ he said presently,‟ a number of things could still be added. For instance, the horse the Emperor is riding ought to be white, and he himself should be in a red hussar uniform with a star on the left breast and four small, gold tassels on the right; however, he ought to wear his characteristic long broadsword in its simple steel sheath, the one he has used in all his famous victories. Out near Dam House I want the first deputation to come and meet me, and then for it to accompany the procession to the City. In the gate itself the Magistrate and the Thirty Two Men will be standing; and the Prefect is to deliver an address.‟ Thomas, who had shown a desire to get in a few words several times already, took advantage here of a pause, whilst Christian was taking several fierce pulls on his pipe. „Yes, but look, so far as Vesterport is concerned, thirty-two men will never be able to stand in there, that‟s a certain fact.‟ „Well, I‟ll be damned! Are you going to turn them out, then?‟ „No, there‟s no need to.‟ „What?‟ „No, they simply can‟t get in there. I know Vesterport very well; I‟ve been there a score of times for one reason or another.

And if the troops actually ride in ranks, even if they are only three deep, then there isn‟t room for thirty-two men there making speeches.‟ „Quite right, Thomas!‟ I responded. „Vesterport must be kept clear; but they can, of course, find space on the ramparts above the gate.‟ „Above the gate!‟ cried Christian. „Do you think that the Thirty Two men are going to stand up there in a line like a banner? And you‟ve probably forgotten that the Prefect is to give an address. Surely you‟re not expecting him to stand up there and bawl down to the road.‟ „Oh, well, then he can hold his tongue. No one has asked him to say anything.‟ „They most certainly have!‟ said Christian. „Both the Corporation and all the citizens have asked him.‟ „Then it was jolly stupid of them. But one thing is certain, that he can‟t stay in the gateway. Firstly there‟s no room. And secondly he mustn‟t spoil the moment for the Emperor when he‟s riding there all alone, while all eyes are now waiting for him. This is the best part of the whole entry, where he can really feel the difference between the time he departed seven years ago, and now, when he‟s returning home so powerful and famous. And another thing, inside the gateway the horse‟s hoof-beats sound so wonderfully hollow when one rides alone there. No, Christian! You must kill off the Magistrate and the Thirty Two Men!‟ „No, Conrad!‟– this was my name – „I can‟t possibly do that. One of the Thirty Two Men actually comes here to visit us every Whit, Mr. Jansen, the merchant, whom you‟ve seen at our place yourself – and he says quite specifically that whenever there‟s talk of processions and that sort of thing, the Magistrate and the ThirtyTwo Men have to be a part; and you can see this everywhere else, too, when you read about such matters. So that‟s how it has to be in this case, if the whole thing is going to be done properly. On the other hand I‟ll think about the possibility of finding some other place for them.‟ „All right, I really haven‟t the slightest objection either to t he Magistrate or the Thirty Two Men. It‟s simply that I won‟t have them standing there blocking up the gateway. – But where has Thomas got to?‟

„He‟s lying over there studying the map.‟ „Thomas!‟ „Hallo!‟ „We‟re going home. But first of all we want to hear, what you think about it.‟ „Yes, well, that‟s not exactly easy to say. But if you ask me, I did think that I would probably like what you others have talked about, and then I‟d also like what belonged to Emperor Bonaparte , whom Conrad wants to go out and fight for. And those lands the Turkish bandit rules over, I don‟t think that someone like that should go on being able to torment them; so I‟ve also thought, I would like to have them rather than he should have them. And then, of course, there‟s also Palestine, if it still exists, that is. – There you are, I thought that would be fair; otherwise I don‟t know of anything I sort of bother myself about much.‟ „You really are easily satisfied, Thomas!‟ „Well, it‟s no use asking for more than you can expect to get.‟ * When we met the next day, Christian remarked straight away,‟ I‟ve decided now that the Magistrate and the Thirty Two Men are to stand on a platform out near the “Black Horse” , where Copenhagen proper begins; and then the Chancellory can take its place near the Column of Liberty. But have any of you thought about what the King should be called?‟ „Valdemar,‟ I answered. „Yes, I thought that myself; but should he be called Valdemar the Fourth or Fifth? I am very much in doubt about that.‟ „The Fourth! The son of Valdemar the Victorious never came to the throne. Apart from that all the Valdemars ought to be exceptional men, and it would be best of all if we simply had Valdemar the Great, Valdemar the Victorious, Valdemar Atterdag and then this Valdemar – so what shall we dub him?‟ „The Unsurpassable!‟ „No, that‟s silly.‟ „Valdemar the Lion, then.‟ „No, that suggests the German Henry the Lion.‟ „The Bear, then.‟ „Why not the Wolf?‟

„No, then preferably Dog.‟ „Or Cat.‟ „Or Pig.‟ „No, let‟s call him Ewe-lamb instead,‟ said Thomas. „Should we simply not call him anything at all,‟ I put in. „It isn‟t really necessary; he is Emperor, and the others were kings; therefore, we simply say Emperor Valdemar, just as one says Emperor Napoleon.‟ „Yes, but all the same, I think it ought to be possible to find suitable titles for those two,‟ Christian put in thoughtfully. „No, it‟s impossible,‟ I answered. „Those two are too great for any such name to suit them.‟ This suggestion pleased Christian, so that he gave up his attempt to furnish the two emperors with names. „Still,‟ he added,‟ they mustn‟t resemble each other too much; I want Valdemar to be the greatest and a rather more dashing soldier than Napoleon was .‟ „Yes, he should be more like Ney,‟ I proposed. This gallant marshal was our joint favourite. Upon hearing his name Christian especially waxed eloquent and usually had one or another anecdote about him on hand. On this occasion, too, he responded immediately: „Yes, that is absolutely right; that is precisely what he should be; for Marshal Ney really was the most formidable of them all. I was reading just the other day,‟ he went on, getting on his high horse, something Christian was rather inclined to do , „how the French troops retreating from Moscow were driven from a bridge they were supposed to defend, so that the enemy had almost got over, and how Ney, who was commanding the rear guard and was second only to Napoleon in the Army, rushed on to the bridge, fought like a common soldier with sword in hand and in a few minutes had halted the whole Russian Army, until at last the French troops turned back once more, hurrying to his assistance and driving off the enemy. You know, that‟s something I really have a mind to do myself, only with the one alteration that I wouldn‟t be a plain marshal, but rather Emperor Valdemar himself. Incidentally,‟ he continued with his casual though not entirely unassuming air, „incidentally, Michel Ney began, as is well-known, as a weaver.‟ – Christian paused at this point with a look as much as to say: “What do you think of that?” to which Thomas responded by observing:

„Yes, that was really something, especially for someone who had only been a weaver. But by the way, I was reading the other day in that old book, you know, that the Squire lent us in the servants‟ hall, about a man called Jakob who stood on the ramparts all by himself and took on all the enemy force for over two hours. He waited quite calmly for someone to come and help him; but not a soul came; and so, in the end, he himself had to kill the lot of them, no matter how many there were, and it‟s said that there were more than six hundred against him. It seems to have been down in Holland; but otherwise it was a Danish man who carried it out.‟ „Yes, it was Jakob von Thyboe,‟5 I said. „But there‟s just one problem about it all, that it‟s a pack of lies.‟ „Yes, but perhaps the other story is as well.‟ „You are a stubborn fellow, Thomas! It‟s probably because you want to be like the Apostle that you‟re always so doubt ing.‟ „Yes, Thomas is a real idiot,‟ chimed in Christian, though this unanimity did not appear to depress Thomas to any great extent. „Incidentally,‟ I went on, „it‟s occurred to me that we almost never think of naval battles, only about war on land; so I would fancy alternating between land and sea battles for some time just like Alcibiades. Apart from this I‟ve been thinking about carrying out Henry the Fourth‟s plan of dividing Europe up into a convenient number of equally large republics, as soon as I‟ve driven out the Turks; for I have to say, I agree with Thomas that the dogs aren‟t to be tolerated here; on the contrary, their land ought to be given to the Greeks. But that plan will probably meet with a deal of opposition, and so it will be necessary to prepare the way through a number of battles both on land and at sea. I happened to read this very morning about Job, the patient one, who had seven sons and three daughters, and it occurred to me that might also be an appropriate number of victorious battles. Before I carry out my plans, therefore, I think I‟ll win seven land battles: that can be the sons; and three sea battles: that can be the daughters. I‟ve written down on a piece of paper, how these will be distributed, but that got left at home.‟ After some expressions of regret about this, we agreed that Thomas should go and fetch it; as he was tied to his station on the
5

Jacob von Tyboe, comedy by Ludvig Holberg.

meadow, he was usually just as willing to go on an errand home as we others were unwilling, for fear that superior beings might set eyes on us and put obstacles in the way of a renewed excursion to the meadow; a fear which Thomas, naturally, never entertained. Since he also knew that he was not entrusting the cattle to any old hirelings, but to herdsmen good and true, he set off cheerfully enough, after I had described to him the quarto volume, Hofman‟s Danish Nobility, in which the document lay. Having attended to a number of personal matters at the same time, Thomas returned, whereupon my proposal to the following effect was read out: “Land battles to be won: Against the Russians ““ English ““ Turks ““ Prussians ““ Austrians ““ German Empire Total Sea battles to be won : Against the Russians ““ English ““ Turks Total Grand Total

2 1 1 1 1 1 7

1 1 1 3 10”

After this had been approved without any amendment, there was now general participation in a graphic rehearsal of all the horrors and pleasures of a naval battle. However, since the Reader has been given such an exhaustive description of land war, it is hardly necessary to go into all the details of sea warfare. We dwelt with particular relish on the thought of how the battle, which was to take place in the Copenhagen Roads, would gradually move past the Custom House as the enemy gave way; how from inside it one would be able to see time and time again a Danish ship overhaul a

fleeing English one and sail alongside it for a while to the accompaniment of reciprocal thunder, until at last the firing ceased and the smoke drifted away. After this one would be able to make out with the telescope the Danish flag floating over the English one. In fact the pursuit would not end here but continue right up through the Sound past Elsinore and Helsingborg and far out into the Kattegat, where eventually it would still be possible to take two of the best enemy ships of the line, which had by this time considered themselves safe. It was no less exciting to imagine the bloodbath there would be on board the ships which had actually taken part, as in fact they all should have done. As a starting point we made use at Christian‟s suggestion of Captain Lassen‟s “Touchstone”, which after the battle of April 2 had 550 dead and wounded from a crew of 700. This ratio was considered to be reasonable, and meticulous calculations were made to work out how many dead and wounded there would be, if the entire fleet‟s personnel numbered 7,000, 14,000, 21,000 & etc. Incidentally, both Christian and I wanted to be among the wounded, whereas Thomas thought that in this way too many men would go to waste, for which reason he would remain unwounded. As I had just read something about mermaids, I happened to remark it might also be possible for one to appear during the battle; but this immediately met with opposition from Thomas: „No, that couldn‟t happen,‟ he burst out, „because mermaids are all lies and invention. They are nothing but sea-cows seen from a distance.‟ „Oh, rubbish, Thomas!‟ „No, it isn‟t rubbish, no! That‟s what I‟ve seen myself every word of it in a book which the gardener has, where anyone can read it. Christian‟s seen the book, too, and knows it is as I say.‟ „Yes, I must admit that Thomas is right there,‟ said Christian, „stories about mermaids and suchlike are merely superstition and fable, in spite of the fact that very beautiful thoughts are often found in them.‟ These remarks led the conversation on to other topics, and Christian took the opportunity of observing, how odd it was that we were always talking about war and warlike exploits. „After all,‟ he remarked quite rightly, „there are many other things as well, one can talk and think about.‟

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