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by [?]

Men who are strong in their own natures are very apt to smile at the good folk who chase the genealogical aniseed trail–it is a harmless diversion with no game at the end of the route. And on the other hand, all men, like Thorwaldsen, who teach cosmic consciousness, recognize their Divine Sonship. Such men feel that their footsteps are mortised and tenoned in granite; and the Power that holds the worlds in space and guides the wheeling planets, also prompts their thoughts and directs their devious way. They know that they are a necessary part of the Whole. Small men are provincial, mediocre men are cosmopolitan, but the great souls are Universal.

Two islands, one city and the open sea claim the honor of being the birthplace of Bertel Thorwaldsen. The date of his birth ranges, according to the authorities, from Seventeen Hundred Seventy to Seventeen Hundred Seventy-three–take your choice. His father was an Icelander who had worked his passage down to Copenhagen and had found his stint as a wood-carver in a shipyard where it was his duty to carve out wonderful figureheads, after designs made by others. Gottschalk Thorwaldsen never thought to improve on a model, or change it in any way, or to model a figurehead himself. The cold of the North had chilled any ambition that was in his veins. Goodsooth! Such work as designing figureheads was only for those who had been to college, and who could read and write! So he worked away, day after day, and with the help of the goodwife’s foresight and economy, managed to keep out of debt, pay his tithes at church and lead a decent life.

Little Bertel used to remember when, like the Peggottys, they lived in an abandoned canal-boat that had been tossed up on the beach. Bertel carried chips and shavings from the shipyard for fuel, and piled them against the “house.” One night the tide came up in a very unexpected manner and carried the chips away, for the sea is so very hungry that it is always sending the tide in to shore after things. It was quite a loss for the poor wood-carver and his wife to have all their winter fuel carried away; so they cuffed little Bertel soundly (for his own good) for not piling the chips up on the deck of the boat, instead of leaving them on the shifting sand.

This was the first great cross that came to Bertel. He had a few others afterwards, but he never forgot the night of anguish and the feeling of guilt that followed the losing of the shavings and chips.

Some weeks after, another high tide came sweeping in, and lapped and sniffed and sighed around the canal-boat as if it were trying to tug it loose and carry the old craft and all the family out to sea. Little Bertel hoped the tide would fetch it, for it would be kind o’ nice to get clear out away from everybody and everything–where there were no chips to pick up. His mother could supply a quilt for a mainsail and he would use his shirt for a jib, and they would steer straight for America–or somewhere.

But lest the dream should come true, Gottschalk and his wife talked the matter over and concluded to abandon the boat, before it got sunk into the sand quite out of sight. So the family moved into a little house on an alley, half a mile away from the shipyard–it was an awful long way to carry chips.

The second calamity that came into the life of little Bertel was when he was eight years old. He and several companions were playing about the King’s Market, where there was an equestrian statue of Charles the Twelfth.

The boys climbed up on to the pedestal, cut various capers there, and finally they challenged Bertel to mount the horse behind the noble rider. By dint of much boosting from several boys older than himself, he was at last perched on the horse. Then his companions made hot haste to run away and leave him in his perilous position. Just then, as unkind Fate would have it, a pair of gendarmes came along on the lookout for anything that might savor of sedition, contumacy or contravention. They found it in little Bertel clutching tearfully to the royal person of Charles the Twelfth, twelve feet above the ground. Quickly they rushed the lad off to the police- station, between them, each with a firm grip upon his collar.