1834The Journey cont.
Around the time of New Year
Around the time of New Year, HCA feels very much like a failure. This is due to the heavy criticism, both by correspondence and in public spheres, directed at his work, Agnete. He is especially disturbed by letters from Jonas and Edvard Collin,
"admonishing, in a harsh and patronising tone, filled with temper. He [Edvard] informed me that my honour was now tainted. Agnete was disastrously misshapen, a mediocre mishmash. This shook my soul deeply, I was so overwhelmed that all my emotions were in turmoil, my belief in God and man. The letter caused me to despair deeply."
(the diary, 6th January)
Both Bødtcher and Hertz try to console and cheer him up. Hertz even with recognition of "my descriptions of nature, where my humour is characteristically exposed" (the diary, 7th January). He also visits Thorvaldsen, who, quite symbolically, is working on a bas-relief depicting "Justice on its wagon". Thorvaldsen consolingly places his hand, which is covered with clay, on HCA's shoulder, and instructs him to take no notice of ignorant criticism:
"Feel the strength within you, do not be led by the opinion of the masses, but move calmly onwards"
(The diary, 8th January).
4th - 6th January
HCA is painted by Albert Küchler ("it seems to be quite a good likeness", the diary). When the painting is finished not long before the 20th, Küchler gives it to HCA.
HCA feels rather ill at ease when a young 16 year-old model appears at the painter's studio with her mother, so that Küchler may "check the appearance of her chest". When the mother;
"exposed her, I felt my whole body quiver. Küchler noticed that I grew pale, and asked me if I was quite well"
(the diary, 6th january).
Küchler draws HCA for private use.
Travels with Hertz and others to Naples.
Arrival in Naples. Whilst here, HCA is confronted with a side of his personality which he dared not acknowledge: his sensuality, which becomes a daily temptation, as he is often offered both boy and girl prostitutes on the streets. Spiritually speaking, at this time he is treading on the thin crust above the glowing lava.
At the theatre San Carlo, he hears Malibran, the famous singer, in Bellini's Norma and in a few other operas. Impressions from this experience are reflected in the description of Annunziata in Improvisatoren (The Improvisatore). Using terms which not only disclose HCA's view on art but are also a forerunner of "Otte og tyvende aften"(The Twenty-eighth Evening) in "Billedbog uden Billeder"(Picture Book without Pictures), HCA says of Malibran (in a letter dated 18th March to Signe Læssøe):
"Hers is not one of those fine voices that surprise, but rather a heart full of tones, which to me is far more worthy. It was as if I was listening to a swan, now beating its wings against streams of air, high in the sky, then diving down into the deep ocean and crushing the hollow breakers, whilst its breaking heart bled with tones".
Climbs Vesuvius at Herculanum. HCA and Hertz ride up to the second largest cone and then walk upwards for about an hour, with ashes up to their knees. In order to see the new torrent of fire, they have to venture out on the crust covering the lava from the day before:
It was horrifying. We felt the crust burning right through our boots, it was almost unbearable, and in many places there were cracks, frightfully long, which we had to cross, and within these we saw nothing but red fire; had the crust disintegrated, we would have drowned in a sea of fire. Two feet away from us, the red lava spouted like a waterfall and flowed down the mountain. Fire and great stones flew from the crater and drizzled down the cone. The sulphurous steam was suffocating and with the earth burning beneath our feet, we could only stand still for 2 minutes; my life was in the hands of God and I felt exhilarated
(addition dated 25 February in a letter for Henriette Wulff)
3rd - 15th March
Expeditions, e.g. to Pompeii, Paestum, the recently discovered Blue Grotto (6th March) and the villa of Tiberius.
From Naples back to Rome, where HCA spends Easter.