DOLORES. By HARRO HARRING.
To-day appears this Novel, for which the author has been able to find no publisher. It will have no artificial aid to its circulation, but must rest solely on its own merits. We think these will be found sufficient to ensure it many readers for the sake of the pleasure and entertainment they may derive from the reading—many more who think that free expression of thought is desirable in a free country, and who will listen with interest to the sincere words of a mind of deep experience, secure from such of valuable stimulus, perhaps of valuable instruction.
We have not, ourselves, lost all feeling as to national pride and national honor, and it touches us in a vital point, that a foreigner who has lost his own home, friends and fortune for the sake of those principles blazoned on our national banner as the rule of our actions, should find it so difficult to get a hearing among us. Our own feeling is, Let this work which he has written among us be read. If then America find nothing in the mind of this author which can instruct or delight her, she can reject his works. But that they should be shut from the field by those who bring forward so many sickly and miserable fictions, by those who can never have enough of the novels of James, Lady Blessington and Mrs. Gore, is a little too bad. Perhaps the ten-times darned tapestry of the former, the twice-turned motley of the two letter writers may really be more congenial with the public taste, than a work written with an earnest purpose and full of noble sentiments. But let us, at least, have a chance to choose.
As a specimen of the sentiment of a work, denounced or dreaded for its want of orthodoxy, we give the following poem from its pages:
The nations yet shall rise in all their might,
And love on the earth its heavenly throne shall build,
And life progressive soar in morning light.
At last Man’s suffering shall diminished be,
When to this world this truth is once made clear,
That all must live in love, who fain would see
The kingdom of the Lord established here.
It is no dream, that in the human soul,
Can raise forebodings of those better days,
When sacred Charity shall each control
To bear the errors of a brother’s ways;
When Love shall steel the heart against the strife
With Death—and Faith shall bid the soul arise,
Above the shroud and grave, to endless life,
Loosened from earth, to flourish in the skies.
It is no dream—the purer spirit-life,
The innate consciousness of inward strength,
Whose prescience in the human heart is rife,
And gives to weakness power to rise at length,
And struggle onward toward its endless aim,
E’en though the crowd to slavery will bend,
And man may, by his words and deeds, proclaim
Truth, by which nations may to life ascend.
We hear a wond’rous music!—from the heart
Of all the nations issues forth the sound;
The mighty symphony of souls its part
Of love assumes, and man to man is bound;
The kingdom of our God on earth shall bloom,
That nations’ hatred, scorn, and doubt’s deep gloom,
Be lost in love—love that survives the tomb.
All that is written, then shall be fulfilled—
All that the Son of Man consoling spoke;
The Eastern Satan is already killed;
Men shall as brethren live, nor fear his yoke;
And Mammon, poisonous serpent, be expelled
From Eden, which her trail has soiled full long,
And where as sovereign she the keys has held
Of Love’s pure kingdom, which to Man belong.
Satan has vanished from the glorious East,
Men are no longer swayed by devilish fear;
The hours draw nigh—and be their speed increased!
The Nazarene’s pure doctrine all shall hear;
The dungeon grave of men shall all be void;
Love’s spirit, glittering in its own pure light,
Appear—and fraud and lies shall take to flight;
And then shall God be known and served aright.
We add the translation of Harro Harring’s letter to the King of Denmark, the friend and patron of his earlier years, written in London, 1842. Those who have read Mr. Everett’s biographical notice of the author will remember what is said of this letter. It was a last appeal to Europe; it received no reply and secured for him no justice and no asylum. He crosses the ocean and finds, thus far, republican America not more hospitable than monarchical Europe.
At this moment the spirit of liberty rises again in the oppressed nations and unhappy Poland struggles once more against the iron heel that was crushing out her heart with a diabolical remorselessness which the world has never seen outdone. The selfish maxims of national policy forbid us to show any sympathy with a people struggling for those principles which are the life of our condition, for those common blessings which we abuse to hug ourselves in fat, contented ignorance of trials we do not share. But if you must forget such things, Americans, if nothing but gain in money or lands can make your heart beat more, at least be not churlish to the better spirits whom those circumstances exile to our shores. It is for your interest to welcome men of genius; we need them in the education of the country, need them in many, many ways.
This epistle is translated as literally as possible.—Time did not permit any attempt at beauty of form, and our only design was to give a notion of the character, history, position, and way of thinking of the author. We see the poet, like Beethoven, is not inclined to take off his hat to a King, merely as King, but he shows a noble appreciation of the native nobleness of that King as a man which must have caused a painful throb to the heart of the Monarch who dared not reply. Those who read this poem may be led to follow out the clue in “Dolores” and see whether this mind does not claim a warm and reverent welcome from all good minds.
TO HIS MAJESTY CHRISTIAN VII, KING OF DENMARK.
LONDON, 19th March, 1842.
He who has lost his Fatherland has no King.
Permit then that I address you
Simply as a man, without violation
Of the royal dignity.
Four months have passed since I presented myself
At our Danish Embassy here in London,
And presented the following declaration—
I am the Dane Harro Harring,
Born on the estate of Ibenhof,
Formerly favored by your Majesty when you
Were hereditary Prince, and I a youth.
I may presume that my life and fate have not
Remained wholly unknown to you.
I have been condemned to death, as you know,
By foreign powers, for the part I have taken
In the affairs of various countries,
And in the great strife of the nations in our time;
Yet I do not believe that I have offended
Against the laws of Denmark. If I have,
I would willingly have pointed it out to me.
At present I thus declare myself. I do not ask
For grace or amnesty. I seek an asylum
In my native land; and, if I am dangerous
To foreign powers, would offer myself
To pass my life in a Danish fortress as a prisoner,
On condition that I might be humanely treated,
And never be given up into the power of other Governments.
But provided the King
Confirms the sentence they have passed upon me,
I still offer myself up; only I wish
The execution of the sentence should take place
In our own country—and soon.”
The above declaration I presented
To the representative of your Majesty, in England
For your consideration. He received it
Like a Dane and a man, promising
To send me the answer, if any came.
The request concerns not merely my brief earthly life,
But it does and must concern my honor.
The sacred dignity of manhood,
That in my eyes seems more important than life.
Four months have passed and no answer comes.
The King’s silence would be accepted as an answer
But that justice in the State demands
That each son of the land be judged
According to the laws against which he has offended;
And, if he have not offended, then he should enjoy the rights
Which Nature has bestowed on every man,
And which tyranny has dared to violate.
Permit me then to cast my look back
On my career to the point when in youth it was opened
Through the favor of your Majesty.
I was made poor
In earliest boyhood, when paralyzed and suffering
I followed the bier of my father.
He, a man of the people, heavily burdened with offices,
Conscientiously fulfilled every duty,
When Great Britain robbed our nation.
Resolute in danger, disinterested,
He thought little of himself, devoted to his country,
And grief and trouble brought him to his grave.
Of my mother’s fortune only remained to me
Some state-papers which have availed nothing.
But to compensate for all these troubles and injuries
The life of the soul was early unfolded within me;
My mind awoke
And could not be fettered by misfortune.
Despite all obstacles I broke for myself
A path to mental development.
As I could not afford to study in our metropolis,
I chose Kiel and afterward Dresden,
Where Providence, in disguise of Chance,
Led you, sire, to cast your eyes on me.
I did not seek your princely favor
But had the honor to be called by yourself,
The fate of the still, timid youth
Given up so early to storm and sorrow
Deeply moved your great heart with human sympathy;
Majestic and decisive you seized with
A powerful hand the wheels of my destiny
Gave me leisure and peace to form myself,
Giving me into the charge of a man*
Whose worth as a man I can never forget.
O sire, you gave me what is most precious
Of the external blessings of life—an open field
To devote myself to Art and Science
And in my mind the sacred joy
Of gratitude towards you, as a man and a Dane.
As if awakened by the touch of a magic wand,
Arose from that hour the impulse of my spirit;
The germ of poesy burst into flower,
And my soul became a sanctuary of the great and beautiful.
I awoke to the true life of a man; I felt myself
No longer an orphan, no longer rejected
From the society of men, who indeed
Greeted not so much “the young poet”
As the favorite of the Danish prince, now attended
By horses and servants.
The world lay before me: I traveled through it;
Sometimes here, sometimes there, but diligent in my studies,
My mind now preferred words as the medium of expression,
Instead of the art it earlier chose. You left me free.
The time was fateful—decisive:
It was the epoch when the youth of Europe combined,
Impelled by one manly desire.
Among the young of all the nations,
At once in Germany, Greece, and Italy,
Was stirred a national feeling that, founded on virtue,
Recognized its noble aim.
Ennobling of the nation within itself,
The perfection of human nature was the aim.
My inward impulse accorded with this spirit,
And, even then, my songs announced
The direction of my efforts.
To harmonize my action with my words
I went to Greece, thence sick and baffled passed to Rome
Where anew I was most deeply moved
By fresh marks of your goodness to me.†
The strife for freedom in Greece
Was then no crime in the eyes of the Danish Prince,
Though the Greeks were called “Rebels,” like every people
Which proudly lavishes its blood, until
Policy takes possession of the advantage
And a throne is built up on the corpses of the people.
“Rebellion” then becomes “legitimate.”
Recommended by you to your illustrious “friend,”
The Crown Prince of Bavaria,‡ I passed
Through Switzerland to Munich.
At that time my mind seemed dead. Experience,
And grief, and care, bowed me down.
After my return from Greece
I kept afar from Prince and Court
Silent and unpretending, till another illness
And the full cure that followed revived my powers,
From the inner conflict rose victorious
The power of song and all my thoughts took form.
I offered my gifts to the theatre,
And then, emboldened by applause,
Made use of my credentials,
As ambassador of friendship between Princes.
The “Poet King’s” favor was not denied me,
And many a courtier envied me place and name.
So was I formed more by life than by the schools.
My innate powers defied outward obstacles—
Obstacle only made them rise to higher energy,
So soon as freedom was attained
By the warfare of mind against matter;
Still down to the foundation of being
Reached the chasm between me and the earthly world,
Which kept me a stranger, distrustful
Of false maxims in Church and State,
On which the Social System is built up,
The more clearly I undrstood myself, the more I drew back,
Unable to serve under the rule that now sways the world,
To scorn alike of nature and of reason.
And more powerful than my spirit, my feelings
Bore me on through life.
In harmony with myself, my look directed
Toward a star in the bright world of souls
I pursued, partly through knowledge and partly through presentiment,
“An aim that stands higher than this earthly life;
And the mysterious depths of my being
Embraced the faith and the impulse to action:
And as the deed springs from the feeling
And the destiny of man unfolds, step by step,
So became I the maker of my own lot,
While I shared the conflict of my great age
Continuing in the path which had led me to Greece,
True to myself and true to the way of thinking
Which had become my settled conviction,
I followed with devotion the higher duty of man.
So became I what I am, and became so, sire,
On the way which, under your own eye,
The youth took to ripen to manhood,
If, as a man, I took part with four nations
For Greece, Germany, Poland and Italy,
I saw in each struggle the same principle
They were struggles of the people for sacred rights,
For the progress of humanity to its full developments,
I saw the spirit which, from century to century,
Makes its way only by shedding blood.
I saw in all these efforts
The exhibition of the idea through martyrdom;
Which, unfolding, finds constantly new forms—
Divinely as the idea of power on Earth.
Sire!—If I did not deserve punishment for the part I took in Greece,
And it seems I did not in your eyes,
Neither, could I for the same course pursued in other countries.
The striving in all of them was for the same objects,
And only in name the tyrants differed.
If I sang as Philhellene, full of inspiration,
And you took pleasure in the lay of the young Scald
No less than his course, when impeded by obstacles.
O sire, might I not then, far more, expect
Your applause when I offered up my whole fortune and my life;
When the spirit which no fetters can ever tame
Still rose again and again, arming the nations.
Despotism conquered yet once again,
Bathed in blood, tyranny triumphed
Over the desert graves of Poland,
And the prisons of Europe were full.
But not on their scaffolds can perish
The spirit which, ever upwards striving,
Animates the glance of the martyr as he looks
On chains and prisons and the rage of blinded men,
Opposed to the prayers of humanity.
Over me too, the staff was broken;
I was banished, put under ban, and ill used
Because I in this glowing heart cherished
Sympathy with the lot of man,
And because my mind, enlightened by an idea,
Transcended the limits of our era;
I was regarded as a criminal
Because I had faith in God and human nature,
In reconcilement and justice on earth,
So was the man persecuted in me,—in the man
The idea of human nature.
And now, a price being set upon my head,
From the duty of self preservation, I became a fugitive
And sought asylum in “a free country.” But
Burthened by the anathema of Tyranny,
I was often sent back from the frontiers,
Or found repose only behind prison bars;
Yet in my twenty prisons
I became better know to myself my faith grew clearer.
At last I reached England, that Botany Bay
Of the Princes, where they send those
Whom they have condemned to die by starvation.
The fruits of my whole life are lost to me.
My works, even those which have no relation to polities,
Are severely prohibited in Germany as well as in my own country,
My intellectual property is confiscated;
The curse of despotism is fallen
On my name and on whatever my hand has touched.
Beset by treachery often, I escaped
My foes only through guardianship of the higher Power.
Even a Briton was willing to sell me.
From the hands of the bailiff I rushed
Into the waves, seeking a grave. But even Death
Refused me an asylum.
I went to Brazil, but notwithstanding the charms
Of outward life, there home-sickness
Drew me back to Europe,
I hoped to be received in my own country
Which I had not seen for twenty years;
* Baron Von Irgens-Bergh, then Chargé d’Affaire in Dresden.
† Now reigning Monarch.
‡ Sir Henry King, Governor of the Island Hellgeland in 1838; afterward dismissed from his post.
My old destiny came over me. I was taken prisoner
In contempt of an imperial passport.*
Against my will I was obliged to take passage
For England, once more, at my own expense.
Can it surprise you
That, after having thus suffered ten years,
I should find myself in distress here in London
Where the worth of a man is measured by money,
And misfortune, in itself, is despised?
Can you be surprised that I had rather
Live in a fortress of my native land
Than free in England, that I think it better
To yield my head up to the enemy
Than to madness here,—to a despair
As to human nature which threatens to sever me
From my true self and my God?
Can it surprise you
That I still seek in the King the man
Whom I found in the Prince and who showed himself
So great to me in early life?
You are silent—
Must your silence be to me the assurance
That a monarch cannot be a man, or that you,
Obedient to a foreign power,
Are not sovereign in your own States?
Where then is the royal dignity,
Where is the safety of monarchical government
Of which they seek to convince me?
They make a present to the Emperor
Of my head which cannot understand
That thinking can be a crime on earth.
Your present silence hurts me more
Than death on the scaffold could,
For it silences my friends and relations
A home, through fear “of exposing themselves
To the danger’s of the King’s displeasure.”
For me, friendship and love are dead;
It seems to be prohibited to utter there my name.
He who knows me, or has even read my books, trembles.
Is such a system of terror a fit prop of monarchy?
Is it legal? Is it a necessary result of those principles
That I am told I ought to reverence?
* * * * * * *
So have I lost all in Europe
Except my honor: I return to the South,
Not hoping to escape the curse
Of despotism which, if not publicly,
In secret there too undermines my life,
And works through its creeping Creatures;
But I would turn toward the South Pole to find a grave
As far as possible from my loved country;
That no breath of the wind may bear back the dust
Of him so tyrannically exiled
“As contraband, to the displeasure of justice”
Back to my native soil.
I go and now can hope no more
Even to bid farewell to my home,
Still, before all the world I would repeat my thanks
To the man, who, as man, must remain holy to me,
Though destiny now made him King.
And, as King, he dares no longer be a man.
Two reasons, sire, have moved me to this address
To express my thanks and vindicate my honor;
And now, in closing, one word of Scandinavia.
Sire, high in the North blooms a race
Whose rights of old, expressed in maxims,
Formed a constitution suited to the wants of the people.
For the confirmation of this
That race have you to thank, sire,
You are the creator of their glorious democratic constitution.
What felt I, when first I had the happiness.
To meet your look which so consolingly encouraged me,
As if consecrating me to the sacred combat
Of humanity in vindication of its rights.
I saw in you the fortune of our North:
I saw in you the possibility
That the nations infatuated, divided
By blind hate to their own injury,
Might now be reconciled. I saw in you
How might be realized the natural idea
Of union among the Scandinavian races,
I saw reason victorious in the North,
Saw the absurd hate extinguished,
Which has kept heart afar from heart.
I saw human love victorious,
And minds, estranged
Through miserable misunderstandings,
United and enriched by union.
Those who had hated one another stood abashed
At their past weakness, and with united effort
Sought the ennobling of the now united race.
And a great people, combined in brotherly love,
Became the bulwark of the North
Against the encroachments of foreign commercial selfishness.
Scandinavia, in the bonds fixed by nature,
Lived as one and as a whole;
All the races, in whose hearts glowed one national life,
I saw united as one State.
And you, sire—did I see you there as a king?
You stood before my mind in a far higher place:
I saw you as the Washington of the North,
Clearly recognizing the bright future of that race,
In the aim for which humanity is striving;
Magnanimously laying down your own claims—
Choosing to be the greatest man of Scandinavia,
Rather than one of the little princes,
Doomed to obey the beck of the Emperor,
And serve tyranny instead of human nature.
Does this picture surprise you? Surely not;
I only paint from nature
You as you first appeared to me;
Never can you efface that image.
You meant me to be a painter;—take then
This grand picture from me as remembrancer;
It is in the province of “historical painting,”
And not the worst of my works.
Rather it is not mine, but your own work,
For you gave me the idea.
After which my mind has ever been striving,
Keep the great picture for yourself,
It suits not the limits of a “cabinet.”
But, as true as God’s breath inspires me,
There will come a second “Ragna rock,”
A second “sunset of Sods” in the north,
And, as before, Odins’s power and splendor
Sank in night, so shall vanish
From our North, the power of tyranny.
A Star will rise like the Pole Star,
Mysteriously drawing man to itself;
Its ray will strike a new spirit into the breast
Of faith, devotion, and power;
The people will awaken from sleep,
And then be seen our SCANDINAVIA!
And now, God be with you and with me!
Your name stands written in the “Book of Kings;”
Mine, if it be recognized by posterity,
Belongs in that of the “Prophets,”
And “the prophet has no honor in his own country.”
The Future will decide for us,
And God the Lord will judge us both;
And if you are my foe—may He bless you!
Kings appear not before him as kings!
The crown is left on the sarcophagus,
The man will be weighed according to his deeds,
And there will be one measure for all:
Whether a man, as man, has served humanity,
What, in that relation, were his thoughts, feelings, deeds,
How far he has sinned against this duty,
How far been willing to do and suffer for it
Upon his earthly course,
And I am ready, from conflict and sorrow,
To be summoned that I may appear before my Judge.
* At Ostend, 25th Nov. 1841. Later the Brazillian Embassy in London insisted that my passport should be respected and an interview with my friends granted me.
“Dolores. By Harro Harring.” New-York Daily Tribune, 25 April 1846, p. 1.