One day we were in the garden. Father stood looking in at the pig. Mother was hanging clothes out, and I was weeding. Two travelling journeymen came past. They were dusty, carried knapsacks on their backs, and looked rather wretched. Seeing the pump near the cottage, they asked for a drink. Mother asked if they would rather not have beer, in which case they could come in. I heard Father say she was not to invite such ruffians in, but Mother answered, “Niels, dear, just think if they were two of our own boys.” Father said nothing, but I could clearly see that he was struck by the reply.


— Carl Nielsen, My Childhood  (translated from the Danish by Reginald Spink; Copenhagen, Hansen, 1952,  pg. 91; originally published in Danish in 1927 as Min Fynske Barndom)






As I would have done (not to pat myself on the back).

As my father or mother would have done.

As our Lord would have done.


— Roger W. Smith

   February 2018

2 thoughts on “empathy

  1. Howard Huddleston

    Dear Mr. Smith:
    Thank you so much for the excerpt from Carl Nielsen’s “My Childhood on Funen”, which is indeed a stellar example of the quality of empathy. Do you know of any source for an English translation of this work?? I would have thought that, by now, there would be an online example.
    Thank you.
    Howard Huddleston

  2. Roger W. Smith Post author

    Mr. Huddleston. This quote comes from Carl Nielsen’s autobiographical work “My Childhood,” which was published in English in Denmark (Copenhagen,. Hansen) in 1952 in a translation by Reginald Spink. The book was originally published in Danish in 1927 as “Min Fynske Barndom” (My Childhood on Funen).

    I have read the book twice. It is an engaging, well written work.

    There is no online text, as far as I know. There are not many copies of the English translation available, but I found 3 copies listed for sale on abebooks.com at


    All three are from booksellers in England.

    Thanks for the comment.

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