Page:Selections from the writings of Kierkegaard.djvu/15

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Selections from the Writings of Kierkegaard

Little Sören, as he himself tells us, heard more of the Crucified and the martyrs than of the Christ-child and good angels. Like John Stuart Mill, whose early education bears a remarkable resemblance to his, he "never had the joy to be a child." Although less systematically held down to his studies, in which religion was the be-all and end-all (instead of being banished, as was the case with Mill), he was granted but a minimum of out-door play and exercise. And, instead of strengthening the feeble body, his father threw the whole weight of his melancholy on the boy.

Nor was his home training, formidably abstract, counter-
balanced by a normal, healthy school-life. Naturally intro-
spective and shy, both on account of a slight deformity of his body and on account of the old-fashioned clothes his father made him wear, he had no boy friends; and when cuffed by his more robust contemporaries, he could defend himself only with his biting sarcasm. Notwithstanding his early maturity he does not seem to have impressed either his schoolmates or his teachers by any gifts much above the ordinary. The school he attended was one of those semi-public schools which by strict discipline and consistent methods laid a solid foundation of humanities and mathematics for those who were to enter upon a pro-
fessional career. The natural sciences played no rôle what-
ever.

Obedient to the wishes of his father, Sören chose the study of theology, as had his eldest brother; but, once re-
lieved from the grind of school at the age of seventeen, he rejoiced in the full liberty of university life, indulging him-
self to his heart's content in all the refined intellectual and aesthetic enjoyments the gay capital of Copenhagen offered. He declares himself in later years to be "one who is peni-
tent" for having in his youth plunged into all kinds of ex-
cesses; but we feel reasonably sure that he committed no excesses worse than "high living." He was frequently seen at the opera and the theatre, spent money freely in restau-
rants and confectionary shops, bought many and expensive books, dressed well, and indulged in such extravagances as driving in a carriage and pair, alone, for days through the