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Romance and Patrioticism


The early Romanticism in the end of the 18th century takes its starting point in nature sensitivity and patriotism.

The rifle manufacturer Ernst Schimmelmann gathered a circle of intellectuals around him at meetings and visits in Northern Zealand in the summertime.

Romanticism and Patriotism
Towards the end of the 18th century Hellebæk developed into a centre of the intellectual currents of a new time, Romanticism. The early Romanticism took its starting point in nature sensitivity and patriotism. However it was a patriotism, which didn´t distinguish between Danish, German or Norwegian inside the absolute state of Denmark.

Tribute to Hellebæk
The nature around Hellebæk appealed openly to the early romantic spirit i the second half of the 18th century and the young Ernst Schimmelmann, who took over the rifle factory in Hellebæk after his father, was very interested in the nature sensitive mentality of the time. After his first visit to the place he describes the surroundings to his friend, the jurist August Henning, in a letter:
"I return today from Elsinore, where I have spent two days inspecting the rifle factory, which is half a mile away on the other side of this town. You cannot imagine a more charming place. The most different, the most romantic nature scenes are united there. It is on the bank of the ocean, which is incessantly covered in ships, opposite you see the cliffs of Sweden. If you seek a lonely or quiet spot, you just have to walk into the wood, which hides a wealth of lakes; are you tired of these, various brooks will encourage you with their trickling. Hills with soft slopes, dark and quiet valleys – no, my dear friend, I don´t know how I do this, but I am miserable at describing the most beautiful place on earth. Disregard my depiction and imagine a magnificent landscape. Enchanting in the summer and solemn in the winter.
All this is only preparation, but my head, which is brimming with projects, has conceived an idea, namely that we – if you will come, my dear, very well could bid the world adieu for a month or more and throw ourselves in the arms of this solitude.."
Friedrich Leopold, count of Stolberg, wrote a poem in 1776 to "Hellebeck. Eine Seeländische Gegend". Friedrich Stolberg´s father was chief chamberlain for the widow queen Sofie Amalie in Hørsholm estate, where he contributed to implement the earliest agricultural reforms around 1750.
The son, Friedrich studied in Göttingen, where he came into contact with Klopstock´s romanticism However, he spent his early years in Denmark, and it is the Sound he celebrates in his hymns to the sea. Nature is the centre of his lyric poetry, it is considered holy and man is in harmony with nature. It is early national Romanticism.
Ernst Schimmelmann 1747-1831
Ernst Schimmelmann 1747-1831

Rallying Point
Ernst Schimmelmann gathered a circle of the intellectuals of the time around him at meetings and visits to Hellebækgård in the summertime. Among the guests were the romantic poets Friedrich Klopstock, Friedrich Stolberg, Jens Baggesen and Adam Oehlenschläger, the philosopher Heinrich Steffens and the natural scientist H.C.Ørsted.
In this early phase of romanticism, before national romanticism and patriotism set in, they didn´t distinguish between German and Danish, or Norwegian, for that matter. This is why Jens Baggesen´s ode to Ernst Schimmelmann is published with the title "Hellebecks Harpe" in a German edition in 1801.
Jens Baggesen 1764 - 1826
Jens Baggesen 1764 - 1826
A. Oehlenschläger 1779-1850
A. Oehlenschläger 1779-1850
H.C. Ørsted 1777-1851
H.C. Ørsted 1777-1851

People and Homeland
The breakthrough of Romanticism in Denmark is often associated with Adam Oehlenscläger´s Poems 1803, which he writes under the influence of the philosopher Heinrich Steffens, born in Norway, brought up in Denmark and educated in Germany. Oehlenschläger was followed by the Danish-German Schack Staffelt born in Rügen. He published Poems in 1804, but as early as 1793 he had written a romantic tribute to the Sound.
The intense nature worship was one characteristic sign of the early Romanticism, patriotism was another. Patriotism means love of your country, but not in the narrow sense of national romanticism, where a nation is connected with the concept people in the sense a group of people, who has the same language, culture and history. This idea was conceived in the time of the French revolution, but many of Europe´s countries like Denmark-Norway are multi-national societies, which is united by a joint principality
Nevertheless the national community feeling was growing and they began to catch sight of the people.
This was rooted in the Enlightenment period´s interest in characteristic population sections and their way of life. This interest showed itself in connection with King Christian 6.s journey to Norway in 1733 and later with the establishing of the Normandsdalen in Fredensborg Castle Park, where a number of statues were erected, representing more exotic agents of the realm.
Heinrich Steffens
Heinrich Steffens

Johannes Ewald
In the Danish state they were mostly aware of heroic and self-sacrificing deeds of the past and present, which could strengthen society and the sense of community. An example of this is a stranding, which took place on the coast of Northern Zealand in Hornbæk, where local fishermen heroically took part of a salvage operation on November 9th 1774.

The poet Johannes Ewald is encouraged to depict the events and he writes the ballad opera ”The Fishermen”, which is staged in 1779. The royal hymn stems from here. Former kings and sea heros´ patriotic deeds are celebrated and is associated with the self-sacrificing and heroic acts of the common man and thus connect the people and the ruler.
As early as 1776 Ewald had had great success with is Ode to Citizenship. The law on citizenship ruled that certain offices in the administration were reserved for people born in the state. In other words it was to strengthen patriotism and was reaction to the massive German influence in the reign of Struenses (1770-73). Johannes Ewald was closely connected to Nothern Zealand, he sang the praises of Rungsted and his Ode to the Soul is written in Espergærde-Humlebæk.
Johannes Ewald   1743-1781
Johannes Ewald 1743-1781
The royal hymn
The royal hymn

©  Øresundstid 2009