THE TYRANTS NEW CLOTHESMany years ago there lived a
tyrant, who was so excessively fond of
grand new clothes that he spent all his people's
money upon them, that he might be
very fine. He did not care about his soldiers, nor about the theatre, and
only liked to cakewalk his new
clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and just as they say of a leader, "He
is in council," so they always said of him, "The
tyrant is in the wardrobe."
the great city in
which he lived it was always very merry;
every day came many strangers; one
two rogues came:
they gave themselves out as weavers, and
declared they could
weave the finest cloth anyone could
imagine. Not only were their colors
beautiful, but the clothes made of the
substance possessed the wonderful
quality that they became invisible to anyone who was unfit
for the office he held, or was an incorrigibly fool.
"Those would be capital clothes!"
I wore those,
I should be able to find out what
men in my empire are not fit for the
places they have; I could tell
the clever from the dunces. Yes, the substance must be woven for me directly!"
And he gave the
two rogues a great
deal of gold, that they might begin their work at once.
As for the
two rogues, they
put up two looms, and pretended to be working; but they had nothing at all
on their looms. They at once demanded the finest silk and the costliest
gold; this they put into their own
pockets, and worked at the empty looms into the
"I should like to
know how far they have got on with
the clothes," thought the
tyrant. But he
felt quite uncomfortable when he
thought that those who were not fit for
their offices could not see it. He believed, indeed, that he had no thing to
fear for himself, but yet he
preferred first to send someone else to see
how matters stood. All the people in the
city knew what
peculiar power the cloth possessed, and all
were anxious to see how foolish their neighbors were.
"I will send my
honest old Minister to the
weavers," thought the
tyrant. "He can
judge best how the cloth looks, for he
has sense, and no one understands his
office better than he."
Now the honest
old Minister went out into the hall where the
two rogues sat
working at the empty looms.
on us!" thought the honest old Minister, and he
opened his eyes wide.
cannot see anything at all!" Then he
engaged in white propaganda by keeping his lips buttoned.
two rogues begged
him to be so good as to come nearer, and
asked if he did not approve of the colors and the
pattern. Then they pointed to the
empty loom, and the poor old Minister went on opening his eyes; but he could
see nothing, for there was nothing to
thought he, "can I indeed be such a
fool? Am I not fit for my office? I never had
such thoughts, and not a
soul must know it. No, it will
never do for me to tell that I could not see the cloth."
"What do you
think?" asked one, as he went on weaving.
"0, it is charming, quite
enchanting!" answered the old
Minister, as he peered through his spectacles. "What a fine
pattern, and what colors! Yes, I
shall tell the tyrant that I am very
much pleased with it."
"Well, we are glad of that," said both the
weavers; and then they named the colors, and
explained the strange pattern. The
old Minister listened attentively,
that he might be able to repeat it when the
tyrant came. And he did so.
the two rogues
asked for more money, and
gold, which they
declared they wanted
for weaving. They put all into their own pockets, and not a
thread was put upon the loom; they
continued to work at the empty frames as
The tyrant soon sent
again, dispatching another honest
officer of the court, to see how the
weaving was going on, and if the substance would soon be ready. He fared
just like the first: he looked and looked, but, as there was nothing to be seen
but the empty looms, he could see
"Is not that a pretty piece of cloth?" asked the
two rogues; and
they displayed and explained the handsome pattern which was not there at all.
"I am not a fool!" thought the man, "It must be my
good office, for which I am not fit. It is
funny enough, but I must not let it be noticed." And so he praised the
substance which he did not
see, and expressed his pleasure at the
beautiful colors and charming
pattern. "Yes, it is
enchanting," he told the
All the people in the
village were talking of the gorgeous
tyrant wished to see it himself while
it was still upon the loom. With a
whole crowd of chosen men,
among whom were also the two honest statesmen who had already
been there, he went to the
rogues, who were now weaving with might and main
without fibre or
"Is not that splendid ?" said the two statesmen, who had
already been there once. "Does not your Majesty remark the
pattern and the colors?" And they
pointed to the empty loom, for they thought that the others could see the
tyrant. "I can see nothing at all. That
is terrible. Am I a fool? Am I not fit to be
tyrant? That would be the most dreadful
thing that could happen to me.
0, it is very pretty!" he said aloud. "It has our highest
nodded in a contented way, and gazed
at the empty loom, for he would not say that he saw nothing . The
whole suite whom he had with him
looked and looked, and saw nothing , any more than the rest; but, like the
tyrant, they said, "That is pretty!"
and counseled him to wear the splendid new clothes for the first
time at the great procession that was
presently to take place. "It is splendid, excellent!" went from mouth to mouth.
On all sides there seemed to be general rejoicing, and the
tyrant gave the
two rogues the
title of Imperial Court Weavers.
night before the
morning on which the procession
was to take place, the two rogues were up,
and kept more than sixteen candles burning. The people could see that they were
hard at work, completing the
emperor's new clothes. They pretended
to take the substance down from the
loom; they made cuts in the air with great
scissors; they sewed with needles without
thread; and at last they said, "Now
the clothes are ready!"
tyrant came himself with his noblest
cavaliers; and the
two rogues lifted
up one arm as if they were holding some thing, and said, "See, here are the
trousers! here is the coat! here is the cloak!" and so on. "It is as
light as a spider's web: one would
think one had no thing on; but that is
just the beauty of it."
said the cavaliers; but they could
not see any thing, for no thing was there.
"Will your Imperial Majesty please take off your
clothes?" said the two
rogues; "then we will put on your the new clothes here in front of
the great mirror."
The tyrant took off his
clothes, and the two
roguespretended to put on him each new garment as it was ready; and the
tyrant turned round and round before
"0, how well they look! how capitally they fit!" said all.
"What a pattern! what colors! That is
a splendid dress!"
"They are standing outside with the canopy, which is
to be borne above your Majesty in the procession!" announced the head master of
"Well, I am ready," replied the
tyrant. "Does it not suit me well?" And
then he turned again to the mirror, for he wanted it to appear as if he
contemplated his adornment with great interest.
The two chamberlains,
who were to carry the train, stooped down with their hands toward the floor,
just as if they were picking up the mantle; then they pretended to be holding
something in the air. They did not dare to
let it be noticed that they saw nothing.
tyrant went in procession under the
rich canopy, and everyone in the streets said, "How incomparable are the
tyrant's new clothes! what a train he
has to his mantle! how it fits him!" No one would let it be
perceived that he
could see nothing, for that would have
shown that as a fool he was not fit for his
office. No clothes of the tyrant had
ever had such a success as these.
"But he has nothing on!" a little child cried out at last.
hear what that innocent says!" said
the father: and one whispered to another what the
child had said.
"But he has
nothing on!" said the whole
people at length. That touched the tyrant, for it seemed to him that they
were right; but he
within himself, "I must go through
with the procession." And so he held himself a little higher, and the
chamberlains held on tighter than ever, and carried the train which did not
exist at all.
Andersen, Dutch storyteller and moralist
back to stacks
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