HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S NEW STORIES.* ANDERSEN'S poetic fancy and childlike
humour never fail him, and the little volume of new tales first on our list (most of which are embodied in the second, which contains also many old ones), has a charm as fresh as any of his earlier days. When we speak of his childlike humour, we do not, cif course, mean that his humour is like the humour of child- ren, but that its nature is of a kind to make him into a child again while he is under its influence. The sort of serious talk which you may overhear a child telling to its doll is in nature and essence the same, except in genius, as Andersen's. Andersen does with the power which interests men from its dash of playful irony, what children can only do in a way to amuse themselves. Ander- sen, with a knowledge very real of its kind, of actual life, puts into the chatter of children just such a dash of playful satire on what he knows of existing men and women, as renders his tales full of delight for us all, and not leas, even more charming than others for children too. Who can make a false collar talk to a garter unexpectedly encountered in the wash as Andersen does, with the old used-up dandy's air of admira- tion, not uncombined with "serious intentions," for at his age,— he is beginning to wear out,—he thinks it almost time to get married? And who can express the spinster's coy, false bashfulness with more exquisite humour than Andersen in the garter's reply ?— " You must not speak to me : I do not think I have given any encouragement for such behaviour. You are not to come so near me. You look as if you belonged to a man." No one has ever rivalled Andersen in humour of this sort, or even in the reverse form of it, when, telling tales of genuine wonder, he makes his Out of the Heart. Spoken to the Little Ones, by Hans Christian Andersen.
marvellous beings talk with the self-importance and every-day fussiness of human creatures.
In humour of both these sorts the few,—too few, —tales now before us are as rich as ever. The story called the" Will-o'- the-Wisps are in Town" is the only one indeed of the latter kind, but it is a ray fine one of its sort, and marked by some of Andersen's most delicate touches. The account of the lofty ambition of the twelve little Will-o'-the- Wisps, who were born at an hour that gave them the chance of becoming runnels before the Devil's State Carriage, wearing a fiery red suit, and having the flames straight out of their_ throats, is exquisitely done ; and the talk of the Moor-Wife—who is herself a Troll-Thing, and nurses the twelve Will-o'-the-Wisps on her lap,—but who, in virtue of the amount of business which she does in brewing night mists, and so forth, professes the profoundest contempt for her sisters Fairy Tale and Poetry, and is good at rebuking her friends for being "high-flown,"--is a capital figure, marked by such a bustling and business-like reiteration of maxims of fairy lore as is calculated to impress children with the actual occurrence of the dialogue in which they occur. But to us the gem of this little book is the little tale called "In the Nursery," where Godfather, left alone with little Anna,—the elder members of the family being gone to the play,—gets up a little dramatic piece for his grand- child's benefit, seizing upon the nearest actors at hand as follows :— " The father and mother and all the sisters and brothers had gone to the theatre, and only little Anna and her godfather were sitting at home. We, too, will have a play,' said he; and it may begin at once.'—' But we have no stage,' said Anna, 'and we have nobody who can act: my old doll can't, for she's so nasty, and my new one mustn't have her smart clothes crumpled.'—' One can always find actors if one will only take those at hand,' said Godfather. Now, well raise the stage. Here, we set up a book, there, another, and there, one more. Now, throe on the other side ; there we have the scene : the old box that stands here will do for the drop-scene —we turn the bottom of it outwards. The scene represents a room, as everybody may see, of course. Now, we must have the actors. Let's see what we can find in the toy-drawer. First comes the actor ; next we can make the piece: the one will then hold up the other, and all will be capital. Here's a pipe-bowl, and here's an odd glove ; they'll do very nicely for a father and daughter.'—' But they make only two persons,' said little Anna. Here's my brother's old waistcoat—couldn't that take a part?'—'It's big enough certainly,' said Godfather. It shall be the lover. It has empty pockets ; and to have these, is to be half unfortunate in love; which is always interesting. And here we have the nut-cracker's boot, with spurs on it. Lightning, thunder, and Mazurka! how he can stamp and hold up his head ! He shall be the troublesome suitor, whom the young lady doesn't like.'" That touch about the waistcoat having empty pockets being equiva- lent to a condition of "half unfortunateness in love," is in Ander- sen's best mode, and Mr. Waistcoat's part is admirable in the same vein. He is mild, and at the same time, as a dress waistcoat must be, a little dandified and limp. His assertion that he is spotless, —that his 'quality' must be taken into consideration, since he is real silk, and "wears cords," is very dramatic,--and the crisis of the in- trigue, where he "unbuttons himself," and directe his speech straight to little Anna to make her clap, which Godfather warns her not to do, as "it isn't fashionable," is exceedingly effective. We suppress the denouement of this exciting domestic play, in order to induce our readers to consult the original authority.
All the other little tales, too, are in their various; degrees touched by Andersen's playful and delicate fancy,—the soliloquy of the Windmill especially, and the moving of the signboards by the storm. The edition of "The Will-o'-the-Wisps are in Town and other New Tales" is beautifully printed and got up, and we do not doubt that the only fault of this charming little book will be held, by all readers who are worthy to read Andersen, to be its exceeding brevity. It can be read through in about half-an-hour, or little more, and every one is sorry to come to an end. The second volume we have included in our notice is a larger one, a mixture of new and old stories, also nicely printed and prettily illustrated, if it were not for the untasteful, gaudy colouring of the larger engravings.