National Geographic : 1922 Aug
VOL. XLII, No. 2 WASHINGTON AUGUST, 1922 DENMARK AND THE DANES BY MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, LITT. D. AMERICAN MINISTER TO DENMARK, 1907-1918 S TOCKHOLM, the capital of Swe den, rather prides itself on being the "Paris of Scandinavia," largely because of its architecture and its mod ernness; but the Danes, admitting with pride that Copenhagen is not altogether a modern city, rather claim that they are more like the Parisians than their neigh bors in Sweden. There can be no question that Copen hagen, so far as the street life in the cen ter of the city is concerned, is extremely gay. The Danes like to dine in cafes, or, when the weather is pleasant, in the open street. It is quite true that if one knows enough Danish to understand scraps of conversation heard at random, he will soon discover that the amiable Dane is very fond of his food, and that all ques tions of the table have much importance to him; I am not a master of the Danish language, and once I listened to a conver sation with great interest and some un derstanding. My vocabulary was not at that time large. I caught the names of "the Duke of Cambridge" and "the Duke of Cum berland," and I was oppressed with the seriousness of the speakers. It seemed to me that some momentous political ques tion was being discussed. My companion. a very distinguished Dane, suddenly joined in the talk; it was in the garden at Klampenborg, where five or six children, with their father and mother, were treat ing themselves to some drops of cognac in small cups of black coffee. The talk became animated. As a di plomatist, I was interested in the matter of the Hanoverian succession, which in timately concerned the Duke of Cumber land. Why the Duke of Cambridge should be brought in I could not say. I thought I heard the name of the Kaiser, too-this was before the war; but after a period of tense attention on my part, my companion interpreted the discussion for me. It had centered around the question as to whether the Duke of Cambridge or the Duke of Cumberland had really in vented the famous Cumberland sauce. without which boiled ham in Denmark is not considered to be really ham at all. And the opinion of the Kaiser had been invoked. The Danes, unlike the English, do not take their amusements seriously; never theless, they look on amusement as a very serious and necessary part of life. I re call that one day, walking with a Danish officer, I saw a man hurrying into his apartment-very few people have houses in Copenhagen-and I said, "That is an edifying spectacle. See how that good husband and father rushes, after his business, to meet his family !" My friend gave me a glance of aston ishment and looked at his watch. "He is five minutes late for dinner; that is the reason of his haste!" One of the charms of Copenhagen, in deed, of Aarhus, of Odense, and of all the other Danish towns, is that the business of life is carried on with cheerfulness. THE ]JNATIONAL E COPYRIGHT.1922.BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON 0. C.