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ate images, like a succession of lightning-flashes; the Christian hymns are a sequel to the pagan. One of them, Adhelm, stood on a bridge leading to the town where he lived, and repeated warlike and profane odes as well as religious poetry, in order to attract and instruct the men of his time. He could do it without changing his key. In one of them, a funeral song, Death speaks. It was one of the last Saxon compositions, containing a terrible Christianity, which seems at the same time to have sprung from the blackest depths of the Edda. The brief metre sounds abruptly, with measured stroke, like the passing bell. It is as if we hear the dull resounding responses which roll through the church, while the rain beats on the dim glass, and the broken clouds sail mournfully in the sky; and our eyes, glued to the pale face of a dead man, feel beforehand the horror of the damp grave into which the living are about to cast him.

“For thee was a house built ere thou wert born; for thee was a mould shapen ere thou of thy mother camest. Its height is not determined, nor its depth measured; nor is it closed up (however long it may be) until I thee bring where thou shalt remain; until I shall measure thee and the sod of the earth. Thy house is not highly built; it is unhigh and low. When thou art in it, the heel-ways are low, the side-ways unhigh. The roof is built thy breast full high; so thou shalt in earth dwell full cold, dim, and dark. Doorless is that house, and dark it is within. There thou art fast de. tained, and Death holds the key. Loathly is that earth-house, and grim to dwell in. There thou shalt dwell, and worms shall share thee. Thus thou art laid, and leavest thy friends. Thou hast no friend that will come to thee, who will ever inquire how that house liketh thee, who shall ever open for thee the door, and seek thee, for soon thou becomest loathly and hateful to

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Has Jeremy Taylor a more gloomy picture? The two religious poetries, Christian and pagan, are so like, that one might mingle their incongruities, images, and legends. In Beowulf, altogether pagan, the Deity appears as Odin, more mighty and serene, and differs from the other only as a peaceful Bretwalda? differs from an adventurous and heroic bandit-chief. The Scandinavian monsters, Jötuns, enemies of the Æsir,y have not vanished; but they descend from Cain, and the giants drowned by the flood.4

1 Conybeare's Illustrations, p. 271. 2 Bretwalda was a species of war-king, or temporary and elective chief of all the Saxons.-Tr.

3 The Æsir (sing. As) are the gods of the Scandinavian nations, of whom Odin was the chief.--TR.

4 Kemble, i. i. xii. In this chapter he has collected many features which show the endur ance of the ancient mythology.

Their new hell is nearly the ancient Nástrand,1 “a dwelling deadly cold, full of bloody eagles and pale adders;" and the dreadful last day of judgment, when all will crumble into dust, and make way for a purer world, resembles the final destruction of Edda, that "twilight of the gods," which will end in a victorious regeneration, an everlasting joy “under a fairer sun."

By this natural conformity they were able to make their religious poems indeed poems. Power in spiritual productions arises only from the sincerity of personal and original sentiment. If they can relate religious tragedies, it is because their soul was tragic, and in a degree biblical. They introduce into their verses, like the old prophets of Israel, their fierce vehemence, their murderous hatreds, their fanaticism, all the shudderings of their flesh and blood. One of them, whose poem is mutilated, has related the history of Judith-with what inspiration we shall see. It needed a barbarian to display in such strong light excesses, tumult, murder, vengeance, and combat.

“Then was Holofernes exhilarated with wine; in the halls of his guests he laughed and shouted, he roared and dinned. Then might the children of men afar off hear how the stern one stormed and clamoured, animated and elated with wine. He admonished amply that they should bear it well to those sitting on the bench. So was the wicked one over all the day, the lord and his men, drunk with wine, the stern dispenser of wealth; till that they swimming lay over drunk, all his nobility, as they were death-slain.” 2

The night having arrived, he commands them to bring into his tent “the illustrious virgin ;” then, going in to visit her, he falls drunk on his bed. The moment was come for “the maid of the Creator, the holy woman."

“She took the heathen man fast by his hair; she drew him by his limbs towards her disgracefully; and the mischief-ful odious man at her pleasure laid; so as the wretch she might the easiest well command. She with the twisted locks struck the hateful enemy, meditating hate, with the red sword, till she had half cut off his neck; so that he lay in a swoon, drunk and mortally wounded. He was not then dead, not entirely lifeless. She struck then earnest, the woman illustrious in strength, another time the heathen hound, till that his head rolled forth upon the floor. The soul one lay without a coffer; backward his spirit turned under the abyss, and there was plunged below, with sulphur fastened; for ever afterwards wounded by worms. Bound in torments, hard imprisoned, in hell he burns. After his course he need not hope, with darkness overwhelmed, that he may escape from that

1 Nástrand is the strand or shore of the dead. -TR. 2 Turner, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, iii. book 9,


3, p. 271..

mansion of worms; but there he shall remain ; ever and ever, with but end, henceforth in that cavern-house, void of the joys of hope.”'i

Has any one ever heard a sterner accent of satisfied hate ? When Clovis listened to the Passion play, he cried, “Why was I not there with my Franks!” So here the old warrior instinct swelled into flame over the Hebrew wars. As soon as Judith returned,

“Men under helms (went out) from the holy city at the dawn itself. They dinned shields; men roared loudly. At this rejoiced the lank wolf in the wood, and the wan raven, the fowl greedy of slaughter, both from the west, that the sons of men for them should have thought to prepare their fill on corpses. And to them flew in their paths the active devourer, the eagle, hoary in his feathers. The willowed kiče, with his horned beak, sang the song of Hilda. The noble warriors proceeded, they in mail, to the battle, furnished with shields, with swelling banners. They then speedily let fly forth showers of arrows, the serpents of Hilda, from their horn bows; the spears on the ground hard stormed. Loud raged the plunderers of battle; they sent their darts into the throng of the chiefs. . . . They that awhile before the reproach of the foreigners, the taunts of the heathen endured.” 2

Amongst all these unknown poets3 there is one whose name we know, Cadmon, perhaps the old Cadmon who wrote the first hymn; like him, at all events, who, paraphrasing the Bible with a barbarian's vigor and sublimity, has shown the grandeur and fury of the sentiment with which the men of these times entered into their new religion. He also sings when he speaks; when he mentions the ark, it is with a profusion of poetic names, “the floating house, the greatest of floating chambers, the wooden fortress, the moving roof, the cavern, the great sea-chest," and many more. Every time he thinks of it, he sees it with his mind, like a quick luminous vision, and each time under a new aspect, now undulating on the muddy waves, between two ridges of foam, now casting over the water its enormous shadow, black and high like a castle, “now enclosing in its cavernous sides” the endless swarm of caged beasts. Like the others, he wrestles with God in his heart; triumphs like a warrior over destruction and victory; and in relating the death of Pharaoh, can hardly speak from anger, or see, because the blood mounts to his eyes :

“The folk was affrighted, the food-dread seized on their sad souls; ocean

1 Turner, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, iii. book 9,


3, p. 272. 2 Turner, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, iii. book 9, ch. 3, p. 274.

3 Grein, Bibliothek der Angelsæchsischen poesie.

wailed with death, the mountain heights were with blood besteamed, the sea foamed gore, crying was in the waves, the water full of weapons, a deathmist rose; the Egyptians were turned back; trembling they fed, they felt fear: would that host gladly find their homes; their vaunt grew sadder : against them, as a cloud, rose the fell rolling of the waves; there came not any of that host to home, but from behind inclosed them fate with the wave. Where ways ere lay sea raged. Their might was merged, the streams stood, the storm rose high to heaven; the loudest army-cry the hostile uttered; the air above was thickened with dying voices. Ocean raged, drew itself up on high, the storms rose, the corpses rolled.” 1

Is the song of the Exodus more abrupt, more vehement, or more savage? These men can speak of the creation like the Bible, because they speak of destruction like the Bible. They have only to look into their own hearts in order to discover an emotion sufficiently strong to raise their souls to the height of their Creator. This emotion existed already in their pagan

egends; and Cædmon, in order to recount the origin of things, has only to turn to the ancient dreams, such as have been preserved in the prophecies of the Edda.

“There had not here as yet, save cavern-shade, aught been; but this wide abyss stood deep and dim, strange to its Lord, idle and useless; on which looked with his eyes the King firm of mind, and beheld those places void of joys; saw the dark cloud lower in eternal night, swart under heaven, dark and waste, until this worldly creation through the word existed of the GloryKing. The earth as yet was not green with grass; ocean cover'd, swart in eternal night, far and wide the dusky ways.

In this manner will Milton hereafter speak, the descendant of the Hebrew seers, last of the Scandinavian seers, but assisted in the development of his thought by all the resources of Latin culture and civilization. And yet he will add nothing to the primitive sentiment. Religious instinct is not acquired; it belongs to the blood, and is inherited with it. So it is with other instincts; pride in the first place, indomitable self-conscious energy, which sets man in opposition to all domination, and inures him against all pain.

Milton's Satan exists already in Cædmon's, as the picture exists in the sketch; because both have their model in the race; and Cædmon found his originals in the northern warriors, as Milton did in the Puritans:


i Thorpe, Cædmon, 1832, xlvii. p. 206.

2 Thorpe, Cædmon, ii. p. 7. A likeness exists between this song and corresponding portions of tne Edda.

“Why shall I for his favour serve, bend to him in such vassalage? I may be a god as he. Stand by me, strong associates, who will not fail me in the strife. Heroes stern of mood, they have chosen me for chief, renowned warriors! with such may one devise counsel, with such capture his adherents; they are my zealous friends, faithful in their thoughts; I may be their chieftain, sway in this realm ; thus to me it seemeth not right that I in aught need cringe to God for any good; I will no longer be his vassal.” 1

He is overcome: shall he be subdued ? He is cast into the place “where torment they suffer, burning heat intense, in midst of hell, fire and broad flames : so also the bitter seeks smoke and darkness;" will he repent? At first he is astonished, he despairs; but it is a hero's despair.

“This narrow place is most unlike that other that we ere knew,2 high in heaven's kingdom, which my master bestow'd on me. Oh, had I power of my hands, and might one season be without, be one winter's space, then with this host I—But around me lie iron bonds, presseth this cord of chain : I am powerless! me have so hard the clasps of hell, so firmly grasped ! Here is a vast fire above and underneath, never did I see a loathlier landskip; the flame abateth not, hot over hell. Me hath the clasping of these rings, this hard-polish'd band, impeded in my course, debarr’d me from my way; my feet are bound, my hands manacled, so that with aught I cannot from these limb-bonds escape.'

" 3

As there is nothing to be done against God, it is His new creature, man, whom he must attack. To him who has lost everything, vengeance is left; and if the conquered can enjoy this, he will find himself happy; "he will sleep softly, even under his chains.”

VII. Here the foreign culture ceased. Beyond Christianity it could not graft upon this barbarous stock any fruitful or living branch. All the circumstances which elsewhere mellowed the wild sap, failed here. The Saxons found Britain abandoned by the Romans; they had not yielded, like their brothers on the Continent, to the ascendency of a superior civilization; they had not become mingled with the inhabitants of the land; they had always treated them like enemies or slaves, pursuing like wolves those who escaped to the mountains of the west, treating like

1 Thorpe, Cædmon, iv. p. 18.

2 This is Milton's opening also. (See Paradise Lost, Book i. verse 242, etc.) One would think that he must have had some knowledge of Cædmon from the translation of Juni' is.

3 Thorpe, Cædmon, iv. p. 23.

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