Andersen in 1868, photographed by Georg E. Hansen.
Trust and doubt
At times Andersen felt so close to God that it was natural for him to conclude an entry in his diary with the words: "Thank you for this day, dear God!" At other times he was filled with doubt and worry. Here are some characteristic extracts from his diaries in 1860:
It is to me as if my spirits are weighed down by a nightmare- whence does it come, why is it there? I am strangely miserable. But I dare not ask you, God, to help me, for I don't deserve it- why must I almost be so privileged? No one knows his destiny from one hour to the next.
The wish to die suddenly very often comes to me.
My mind won't lift! Please, God, make me happy.
I'm drifting like a bird in the gale, a bird that cannot fly and yet cannot quite fall either. O Lord! My God! have mercy on me!
I am a sinner, a frail, vain person -I have been given far too many precious gifts, now I must suffer adversity, and then I complain like a spoilt child. Who listens to me? No one! No one!
It's no use praying, God won't change the course of events. In good days I cling to him, in bad days I do not support myself on his unchangeable will. I know that like a child I must ask for his forgiveness because I am being punished; please forgive me then, but I don't want to ask the impossible. I know that in the course of time I shall succumb. Rather be oneself in abandonment than to be longing in the flames, hoping for a blessed existence which we are not going to achieve. ..Went to bed as usual in a bad mood, godless.
Up at halt-past eight, lovely sunshine. Please God, let it shine in clarity into my mind in Christianity and God.
The good which I intend to do I don't do. And the evil things I do not intend to do I do do. I have no future to look forward to.
Andersen in 1862, carte-de-visite.
Andersen wrote in his diary on July, 10, 1864: " Anguish and sorrow take me out on to deep waters -shall I be lifted up there, or shall I sink? Religion is my light, my salvation, my faith. Do I believe that God and Jesus are one, as the believers want them to be; then the Virgin Mary must be the chosen one among humans, then in our humble way it is so near at hand to pray to her to plead with God on our behalf . What thoughts I have! God, my Lord! make thy light shine in me and have mercy on me, I am about to let go of you to whom I should hold on with the faith of a child."
And on May, 2, 1866: "How strange- in anguish and suffering I am unable to pray to God, I believe in a destiny, a necessity, but in joyful and happy days God is very near to me, then I have prayers and gratitude, then there are humble thanks of bliss in my soul and my thoughts."
Having just been informed of the death of Carsten Hauch, a Danish friend and fellow-poet, Andersen wrote in his diary on March 5, 1872: "Is he now dust and ashes, dead, extinguished, put out like a flame which does not exist any more? O God, my Lord! Can you let us disappear completely? I have a fear of that, and I have become too clever- and unhappy ."