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In another species of fairy-tale, which Andersenmay be said to have invented, incident seems to besecondary to the moral purpose, which is yet so artfullyhidden that it requires a certain maturity ofintellect to detect it. In this field Andersen hasdone his noblest work and earned his immortality.Who can read that marvellous little tale, "TheUgly Duckling," without perceiving that it is asubtle, most exquisite revenge the poet is takingupon the humdrum Philistine world, which despisedand humiliated him, before he lifted his[Pg 157]wings and flew away with the swans, who knewhim as their brother? And yet, as a child, I rememberreading this tale with ever fresh delight,though I never for a moment suspected its moral.The hens and the ducks and the geese were all sovividly individualized, and the incidents were sofamiliar to my own experience, that I demandednothing more for my entertainment. Likewise in"The Goloshes of Fortune" there is a wealth ofamusing adventures, all within the reach of achild's comprehension, which more than sufficesto fascinate the reader who fails to penetrate beneaththe surface. The delightful satire, which isespecially applicable to Danish society, is undoubtedlylost to nine out of ten of the author's foreignreaders, but so prodigal is he both of humorousand pathetic meaning, that every one is charmedwith what he finds, without suspecting how muchhe has missed. "The Little Mermaid" belongsto the same order of stories, though the pathoshere predominates, and the resemblance to De laMotte Fouqué's "Undine" is rather too striking.But the gem of the whole collection, I am inclinedto think, is "The Emperor's New Clothes," whichin subtlety of intention and universality of applicationrises above age and nationality. Respect forthe world's opinion and the tyranny of fashionhave never been satirized with more exquisitehumor than in the figure of the emperor whowalks through the streets of his capital in robe denuit, followed by a procession of courtiers, who[Pg 158]all go into ecstasies over the splendor of his attire.




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