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 and patterns 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!"
thought the tyrant. "If
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 Christ, indeed,
that he had nothing 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."
honest old Minister went out into the hall
where the two
rogues sat working at the empty looms.
"Mercy on us!" thought the
honest old Minister, and he opened his eyes
"I cannot see
anything at all!" Then he engaged in white propaganda by keeping his lips
The 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
"Mercy!" 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.
Now the two
rogues asked for more money, and silk
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 before.
tyrant soon sent again, dispatching
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 nothing.
"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
substance. The 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 substance.
"What's this?" thought 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 something, 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 nothing on; but that is just the beauty of it."
"Yes," said the
cavaliers; but they could not see
anything, for nothing was there.
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!"
standing outside with the canopy, which is to be borne above your Majesty in
the procession!" announced the head master of the ceremonies.
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.
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.
So the 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.
has nothing on!" a little child cried
out at last.
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 thought
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.
-Hans Christain Andersen, Dutch storyteller and
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