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manner, and still more dictatorial voice-" one can do nothing more absurd than to deliver such works over to a publisher, for one has the pleasure of paying hundreds out of one's own pocket, and letting them, without any hope of opposition, fly into the publisher's money bags. If you will take my advice, sir, publish your poem yourself, and when it is printed, send me six copies, addressed to the editor of the newspaper for which I am engaged, and also send some nicely.bound copies to the editors of the other newspapers, and then you may be certain that your book will not want for plenty of praise. May I make bold to ask if you belong to those who cry, Long live Lehmann!' or to those who shriek or howl Pereat Orla!""
"Let him live, I say," I replied, like one in a fog, for my mind was already busy in thinking how I could possibly manage to be myself the publisher of my poem.
"Well, I am extremely glad to find that we are on the same side in politics. Now you may rely on our Sunday's paper praising to the utmost your tale in verse. We will place your. verses on a par with those of Ehlenschlager, and class your tale with Heiberg's, and the author of 'Hverdags Historier.' Make yourself quite easy, therefore; we can cry up or cry down the genius of every author as we please, or as it suits our political views, or benefits our friends."
"How is that?"
"Oh! It is easily understood. Two men are applying for a certain post or office. One of these belongs to our party, the other to the party opposed to us; the latter we put into the pillory, with such marks of opprobrium that it is impossible for him to get the place; well, what happens? Our friend obtains it. Is not that shrewdly managed? But, apropos, is there any of the philosophy of Hegesias in your work?"
"No, my dear sir! A little of the philosophy of love, that's all!" I replied, feeling somewhat nervous.
"That's bad enough, but we will praise it nevertheless. monthly periodicals will come with their inexorable scissors, and cut it up, and show the public only the skeleton of your doubtless excellent story; but that won't signify a button, for the public will believe us, that there is a great deal of beauty in it. You have only to follow my advice, and we will help you to a sale
The curtain drew up; but I saw no more of what was going on upon the stage, my thoughts were whirling about on calculations of what might be the expenses of printing, bookbinding, gilt edges, paper, discount to the booksellers, postages, copies to the different reviews and newspapers, &c. &c., but when I summed up the account roughly, I found that the whole would amount to
too large a sum for me to disburse from my own pocket, especially as I could not expect to receive any emolument from my publication for, at least, twelve months.
When the curtain fell again I renewed the conversation with my neighbour, who had again raised his eyes from his book. After I had informed him that it would be an impossibility for me to follow the advice he had given me, he looked at me kindly through his spectacles, and then allowing his eyes to glide down to the cover of his book (a theatrical repertoire), he pointed with his finger to a name which stood there, and again fixed his eyes on me with a significant look. When, by a smile on my lips, he ceived that I understood the meaning of his look, he put the book in his pocket, and went out for a mouthful of fresh air.
The curtain soon after rose; I sat between the little Jewish girl and my counsellor, who was again reading, and I thought to myself,
"He also advises me to apply to the bookseller Schuboth, I can but try him."
"Gott, how charming that is!" fell at that identical moment on my ear from the Jewish girl's lips, and I accepted this exclamation as the prognostic of a happy result, and felt able, with a lightened heart, to enjoy the remainder of the piece.
THE next morning I started again on the hunt for a publisher, with a secret hope to find one at the Exchange. As a boy I had often gone there joyfully to buy my toys, I had nothing to fear then, now I went with more sobered feelings and some anxiety. In former days people swarmed there, now my footsteps echoed among the silent and deserted walks. The bazaar in Gothersgaden had taken the shine out of the time-honoured Exchange, I felt quite sorry to see the many empty and forsaken enclosures I passed before I came to the bookseller's in question. Here I found a short ruddy-cheeked man with smooth dark hair; he was a man of very courteous manners, who, with great patience and politeness listened to what I had to say, which is already so well known to my readers. When I had finished my discourse the gentleman asked for permission to look at my manuscript, and to keep it for a few days, that he might make himself well acquainted with its contents; a request which I thought very reasonable, and looked upon as a good omen. We shook hands like old friends before separating.
For three or four days I remained in a state of the utmost anxiety and excitement. Sometimes I said to myself, "He will take it," and I felt my cheeks glowing with hope; but soon doubts
arose in my mind, and I exclaimed, "He will not take it," and then I became the picture of dismay. I felt it hardly possible to control my impatience, and I was becoming so ill with the constant alternation of hopes and fears, that I determined to go to the Exchange and know my fate. I arrived at the bookseller's almost out of breath, and there I found my man reading the first pages of my great poem.
"May I beg to know if you have begun to read this for the second time?" I asked, proud and pleased at the idea that he must be so charmed with my work as to be reading it twice over.
"No, it is the first time," he replied, with a slight smile; "I have not had a moment to read it until now, but if you will be so kind as to call again in about eight days you shall have an answer."
This time I was quite as unwilling to agree to the worthy publisher's proposal as I had, on the previous occasion, been willing to do so; but what could I-a poor author-do? I stood there on my last legs, as the saying is. How could I venture to disregard his overtures, slight though they were, by giving a decided refusal? No; but I went forth much disheartened, leaving my beloved and precious manuscript within the walls of the Exchange.
A week, which for happy persons, or for the industrious, passes as swiftly as a falling star across the half-darkened vault of heavena week crept on for me. I was in a wretched state of excitement, and from every trifling occurrence I augured either a fortunate or an unfortunate termination of my poetical affairs. At length the ninth day arrived, and the rosy light of early morning fell upon me as I perambulated the street on the outside of the Exchange, for it had not been opened. It was seven o'clock before I could get inside, but the person whom I wished to see was not possessed of my ardour, for he had not yet come. I endeavoured to while the time by looking at the handsomely bound books that graced the shelves, works that were so lucky as to have found a publisher, a piece of good fortune the full value of which I now began to appreciate.
"Are you here already? good morning, good morning," I heard exclaimed behind me by a voice I recognised. I turned round, and scarcely taking time to go through the usual ceremonies on meeting, I hastened eagerly to ask,
"Are you satisfied with my Endymion and Diana?"
"Yes, indeed I am, dear Mr. Nostrat. There are, undeniably several fine passages in it: but, excuse me for asking if you are well enough acquainted with any of the celebrated authors of the day to ask one of them to write a preface for you?"
"I have not the honour of knowing anything of them except
by their works, and also knowing some of them by sight. And you will admit that such an acquaintance would not entitle me to ask the favour of any one among them to write a preface for me."
"That is very unfortunate. Then the next best thing to do will be to put on the title-page Translated from the Swedish.' Swedish literature at this moment is all the rage; believe me, the best recommendation for any work appertaining to belles lettres, now-a-days, is to have a Swedish author for its father."
"No, that I won't, my good sir," I replied, somewhat testily. "That I won't; for it is not only emolument I have in view but also fame, and the latter I should lose altogether if I were to entertain this proposition. No, I will not."
"Very well, then I will tell you at once the conditions on which I will undertake to be the publisher of your romance in verse. As it is your first work you must yourself perceive that I run a great risk in publishing it, for your name is as yet quite unknown, and that is the greatest drawback to an author in our days, when a name is of so much importance. However, I will give you forty rigsdalers for the manuscript, and ten copies in the first instance, but if it has a good sale I shall be happy to pay you the honorarium I usually give for original works.'
The man had certainly right on his side, but when I remembered the innumerable hours and days which during a period of years I had spent in writing, correcting, polishing, and, lastly, making a fair copy of my dearly beloved "Endymion and Diana," and reflected that now most probably my entire pecuniary gain might be only twenty paltry dollars, everything turned black before my eyes, I gave myself hardly time to receive back my manuscript, and replying,
"No, thank you, I cannot accept such terms," I hastened out of the shop, fully determined rather to tear up my poem and make allumettes of it than to hand it over to any one for such a shameful mockery of payment.
Thus my last effort had been as unfortunate as my earlier ones. I rushed home, flung my "Endymion and Diana" into my desk, closing its lid with a loud crash, and inflicting on my poor nose four or five severe thumps, such as it had never received before.
THREE weeks had passed, and I fancied I had forgotten my vexation about my unlucky manuscript, when one day I was walking through Gothersgaden, on my way to enjoy, after a long absence from all pleasures, listening to one of the best military bands in Copenhagen. As usual, I sauntered on with downcast eyes, wrapped up in my own thoughts, as people would say, when
one of my intimate friends, whom I will call P. P., tapped me on the shoulder with a thin little stick.
"Have you lost anything, or are you hoping to find something for which a reward has been offered, going, as you are doing, with your head bowed down, gazing at the stones?" asked P. P., as he took my arm under his.
"No; I am neither looking for anything of my own, or anything of other people's, but I was in deep thought. Where are you going?" I asked, wishing to entice him to go with me beyond the Custom House, in this uncommonly bright fine frosty weather"where are you going?"
"Oh! only to Höst's," he replied, with indifference.
"Who is he? You speak as if I knew the whole town."
"Dear me, don't you know the publisher and bookseller, Höst, who lives yonder, in the street to the right of Kongen's Nytorv?" he exclaimed, in the utmost astonishment.
"No, I do not," I answered; but as a huntsman becomes restless when he stumbles on the scent of a hare, so I began, almost without being conscious of it, to take a warm interest in hearing the words "publisher and bookseller," and I hastened eagerly to ask him, "Are you very well acquainted with him?"
"Yes, I should think so. I go there almost every Tuesday evening, for then all the intimate visitors at the house assemble, old and young authors, publishers, booksellers, and many other literary and pleasant people. One is always well amused, and if you like I can easily introduce you. You are a poet, and such folks are welcome at all times; besides, they are a very hospitable family."
I cannot deny that for the last fourteen days I had been in a state of mental drowsiness. The failure of the strong hopes which I had nourished for a short time had damped the energies of my soul, or, to use a poetical image, had so diminished the fire of my inner life, that my existence latterly had resembled the feeble light of a night lamp.
At my friend's unexpected invitation life revived in me. I caught at it greedily, and, with a sort of sickly impetuosity, I begged P. P. to introduce me at once to his friend. Smiling at my hastily formed wish, he promised to gratify it, and we entered a low gate, where I, in my eagerness, was within an ace of upsetting an old woman's table, on which lay a tray of cakes, and where I put my foot into a basket of half-frozen apples.
"Here you see one of our most distinguished future Danish poets, with the barbarous name of Nostrat!" exclaimed P. P., as we stood in Herr Höst's well-arranged office; and then turning to me, "Here you are in the presence of a first-rate publisher, highly esteemed among authors. Herr Nostrat, Herr Höst! Herr Höst, Herr Nostrat!'