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LITERATURE AND ROMANCE
BAGGE DEN, CONTINUE D.
At Baggesen's return to Copenhagen, he published his translation of Holberg's “Niels Klim's Subterranean Journey.” The story of Niels Klim is obviously suggested by “Gulliver's Travels," which Holberg had read in his visit to England. It introduces us to an under world, where trees, apes, and other things are rational creatures ; and they afford the author the same opportunities of satirizing our follies and vices which Gulliver's Brobdingnags and Houyhnhnms furnished him with. Holberg wrote it in Latin ; and Baggesen rendered a real service to the literature of his country by putting it into the possession of the readers of all classes in their own tongue, by one of the most masterly translations that ever
was made. It reads, in fact, not as a translation, but as an original; and we cannot imagine Holberg himself, had he written it in Danish, using any other than its very words.
Another work which Baggesen now also published was received in a different manner.
“ Holger Danske," an opera in three acts. He had taken the matter of Wieland's “Oberon," and transmuted it into a Danish work, changing the name of Hyon of Guienne into Holger, the Danish hero. The work was violently attacked, and a furious paper war arose out of the occasion. Cramer defended the work with impetuosity, and translated it into German. Rahbek wrote some witty and stinging epigrams upon it; and very soon Cramer, Tode, and P. A. Heiberg were engaged in a hot and merciless warfare about it. Heiberg put the coup de main to the affair by writing a burlesque of it called “Holger Tydske," or Holger the German, which is supposed to have annihilated the unfortunate drama. Be that as it may, it has never been included in any of the Danish editions of the author's works, where we find only some of its lyrics
Baggesen, who of all men had the poet's temperament; who was all nerve, sensitiveness, and excitability,
, suffered agonies under the infliction of this mohawk conflict. It was a strange and torturing change from the elysian abode in the aristocratic paradises of Holstein. His health suffered severely; and on every account it was deemed advisable that he should retire for awhile from the scene of contest, and open hy travel new sources of poetic wealth and accomplishment. His good friends did not fail him. The Duke of Augustenborg procured him a travelling stipend of eight hundred rix-dollars yearly; he was to be at liberty to travel for three years, how and
whither he pleased. The whole scheme was left, in the most liberal manner, for him to fill out according to his free desire, just as if he was travelling at his own cost; and he was assured that, on his return, his future income should be permanently secure.
And here we cannot avoid expressing our admiration of the noble manner in which Denmark, for the most part, seconds the efforts and promotes the welfare of its men of genius. Small state as it is, it sets a grand example to far greater ones. In its earlier periods there were instances of woful neglect of native talent; but for a long time past thegenerous conduct of the Government to men of merit is most remarkable. Scarcely is there a man of real genius, whether in art, literature or science, who does not receive a travelling stipend to enable him to visit foreign countries, and by inspection of the most celebrated works of art, the most sublime features of nature, and the most enlightened cities and communities, to perfect himself in all that can possibly assist to develope his intellectual powers. Denmark does not wait, as we do, till our men of talent are falling into decrepitude, before it extends its aid ; but it gives it when its objects are striving to put forth all their youthful powers to do honour to their country and themselves. Baggesen is only one out of numbers of such instances ; Andersen another; and it is to the honour of Denmark, that not only does it thus bravely maintain its national honour, by cherishing its individual sources, but it even looks abroad, and confers its benefits where it sees that they will promote the progress of the universal mind. Klopstock was pensioned by Denmark; and when, through Baggesen, Count Schimmelmann became aware that Schiller was suffering under pecuniary cares, the Government sent him a present of two thousand rix-dollars.