Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

Christianity, which seems at the same a dwelling deadly cold, lull of bloody time to have sprung from the black. eagles and pale adders ;” and the est depths of the Ēdda. The brief dreadful last day of judgment, when metre sounds abruptly, with measured all will crumble into dust, and make stroke, like the passing bell

. It is as if way for a purer world, resembles the we hear the duli resounding responses final destruction of Edda, that “twi. which roll through the church, while light of the gods,” which will end in a the rain beats on the dim glass, and victorious regeneration, an everlastir:g the broken clouds sail mournfully in joy“ under a fairer sun.” the sky; and our eyes, glued to the By this natural conformity, they pale face of a dead man, feel before were able to make their religious hand the norror of the damp grave poems indeed poems. Power in spir. Into which the living are about to cast itual productions arises only from the him.

sincerity of personal and original sen.

timent. If they can relate religious " For thee was a house built ere thou wert born ; for thee was a mould shapen ere thou of tragedies, it is because their soul was ihy mother camest. Its height is not deter tragic, and in a degree biblical./. They mined, nor its depth measured; nor is it closed introduce into their verses, like the old ap (however long it may be) until I thee bring prophets of Israel, their fierce vehe where thou shalt remain; until I shall measure thee and the sod of the earth. Thy house is mence, their murderous hatreds, their not highly built; it is unhigh and low. When fanaticism, all the shudderings of their thou art in it, the heel-ways are low, the side flesh and blood. One of them, whose ways unhigh. The roof is built thy breast full aigh ; so thou shalt in earth dwell full cold,

poem is mutilated, has related the his. dim, and dark. Doorless is that house, and tory of Judith-with what inspiration dark it us within. There thou art fast detained, we shall see. It needed a barbarian and Death holds the key. Loathly is that

to display in such strong light excesses, zarth-house, and grim to dwell in. There thou shalt dwell, and worms shall share thee. Thus tumult, murder, vengeance and combat. shou art laid, and leavest thy friends. Thou

“Then was Holofernes exhilarated with hast no friend that will come to thee, who will

wine ; in the halls of his guests he laughed and ever inquire how that house liketh thee, who shouted, he roared and dinned. Then might shall ever open for thee the door, and seek the children of men afar off hear how the stern thee, for soon thou becomest loathly and hatetul to look upon.

one stormed and clamored, animated and elated with wine. He admonished amply that they

should bear it well to those sitting on the Has Jeremy Taylor a more gloomy bench. So was the wicked one over all the picture? The two religious poetries, day, the lord and his men, drunk with wine, Christian and pagan, are so like, that the stern dispenser of wealth; till that they one might mingle their incongruities, swimming lay over drunk, all his nobility, as

they were death-slain." images, and legends. In Beowulf, alto gether pagan, the Deity appears as The night having arrived, he comOdin, more mighty and serene, and mands them to bring into his tent “the differs from the other only as a peace- illustrious virgin ;' then, going in to ful Bretwalda t differs from an adven- visit her, he falls drunk on his bed. turous and heroic bandit-chief. The Tue moment was come for “the maid Scandinavian monsters, Jötuns, ene

of the Creator, the holy woman. mies of the Æsir,I have not vanished; “She took the heathen man fast by his hair; but they descend from Cain, and the she drew him by his limbs towards her disgrace giants drowned by the flood. Their fully; and the mischief-ful odious man at her sew hel". is nearly the ancient Nástrand,ll pleasure laid

; so as the wretch she

might the

" *

She with the twisted

locks struck the hateful enemy, meditating * Conybeare's Illustrations, p: 271.

hate, with the red sword, till she had half cut | Bretwalda was a species of war-king, or

off his neck; so that he lay in a swoon, drunk temporary and elective chief of all the Saxors.

and mortally wounded. He was not then dead, ..l'R. The Æsir (sing. As) are the gods of the

not entirely lifeless. She struck then earnest

the woman illustrious in strength, another timo Scandinavian nations, of whom Odin was the

the heathen hound, till that his head rolled chief.-TR.

forth upon the floor. The foul one lay without & Kemble, i. i. xii. In this chapter he has

a coffer ; backwani is spirit turned under the collected many features which show the endurance of the ancient mythology. I Nástrand is the strand or shore of the * Turner, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, iü. bcok

a, ch. 3. p. 271.




abyse, and there was plunged below, with sul. | waves, between two ridges foam phur fastened ; forever afterwards wounded by worms. Bound in torments, hard imprisoned,

now casting over the water its enor in hell he burns. After his course he need not mous shadow, black and high like a hope, with darkness overwhelmed, that he may castle,“ now enclosing in its cavernous escape from that mansion of worms; but there sides” the endless swarm of caged he shall remain ; ever and ever, without end; beasts. Like the others, he wrestler henceforth in that cavern-house, void of the joys o hope.” *

with god in his heart ; triumphs iiite a

warrior over destruction and victory Has any one ever heard a sterner and in relating the death of Pharaoh, Accent of satisfied hate? When Clo- can hardly speak from anger, or see vis listened to the Passion play, he because the blood mounts to his eyes : cried, “ W'hy was I not there with my Franks !” So here the old warrior in- “The folk was affrighted, the flood-dreseid stinct swelled into flame over the He- seized on their sad souls; ocean wailed with brew wars. As soon as Judith re- besteamed, the sea foamed gore, crying was iu

death, the mountain heights were with bloos turned,

the waves, the water full of weapons, a death

mist rose; the Egyptians were turned back ; “Men under heims (went out) from the holy trembling they fled, they felt fear; wouid thai city at the dawn itself. They dinned shie!ds; host gladly find their homes; their vaunt grew men roared loudly. At this rejoiced the lank sadder : against them, as a cloud, rose the fell wolf in the wood, and the wan rave', the fowl rolling of the waves, there came not any of greedy of slaughter, both from the west, that the that host to home, but from behind inclosed sons of men for them should have thought to

them fate with the wave. Where ways ere lay prepare their fill on corpses. And to them few sea raged. Their might was merged, the in their paths the active devourer, the eagle, streams stood, the storm rose high to heaven; hoary in his feathers. The willowed kite, with the loudest army-cry the hostile uttered ; the his horned beak, sang the song of Hilda. The air above was thickened with dying voices. poble warriors proceeded, they in mail, to the Ocean raged, drew itself up on high, the storm. battle, furnished with shields, with swelling rose, the corpses rolled.”. banners. • . They then speedily let fly forth showers of arrows, the serpents of Hilda, from Is the song of the Exodus more their horn bows; the spears on the ground hard abrupt, more vehement, or stormed. Loud raged the plunderers of battle ; they sent their darts into the throng of the savage? These men can speak of the chiefs..

They that awhile before the re-creation like the Bible, because they proach of the foreigners, the taunts of the speak of destruction like the Bible. heathen endured." +

They have only to look into their own

hearts, in order to discover an emoAmongst all these unknown poets i there is one whose name we know, tion sufficiently strong to raise their Cædmon, perhaps the old Cædmon souls to the height of their Creator. who wrote the first hymn ; like him, This emotion existed already in their at all events, who, paraphrasing the pagan legends; and Cædmon, in order Bible with a barbarian's vigor and to recount the origin vi things, has sublimity, has shown the grandeur and only to turn to the ancient dreams. fury of the sentiment with which the such as have been preserved in the men of these times entered into prophecies of the Edda. their new religion. He also sings “There had not here as yet, save cavern. when he speaks; when he mentions shade, aught been ; but this wide abyss stood the ark, it is with a profusion of poetic deep and dim, strange to its Lord, idle and use names," the floating house, the greatest firm of mind, and beheld those places void ol

less; on which looked with his eyes the King of floating chambers, the wooden for-joys ; saw the dark cloud lower in eternal night tress, the moving, roof, the cavern the swart under heaven, dark and waste, until this great sea chest," and

many more. I world!y creation through the word existed of Every time he thinks of it, he sees it the Glory:King. ::. The earth as yet was not

green with grass ; ocean cover'd, swart in eter with his mind, like a quick luminous nal night, far and wide the dusky ways." + vision, and each time under a new aspect, now undulating on the muddy

In this manner will Milton hereafter

speak, the descendant of the Hebrev * Turner, Hist. of Anglo-Saxons, üi. book 9, ch. 3, p. 272.

Thorpe, Cædmon, 1832, xlvii. p. 206. + Id. p. 274

† Thorpe, Cadmon, ii. p. 7. Å likenes Grein, Bibliothek der Angelsæchsischen ists be ween this song and corresponding som passie.

tions of the Edda.

seers, iast of the Scandinavian seers, every thing, vengeance is eft; and it but assisted in the development of the conquered can enjoy this, he will his thought by all the resources of find himself happy

6 he will sleep Latin culture and civilization. And softly, even under his chains." vet he will add nothing to the prim

VII .tive sentiment. Religious instinct is not acquired; it belongs to the blood, Here the foreign culture ceased. Bez and is inherited with it. So it is with yond Christianity it could not graft up other instincts; pride in the first place. on this barbarous stock any fruitful or .ndomitable self-conscious energy, living branch. All the circuirstances which sets man in opposition to all domi- which elsewhere mellowed the wild sip nation, and inures him against all failed here. The Saxors found Britain pain. Milton's Satan exists already in abandoned by the Romans. they had Cædmon's, as the picture exists in the not yielded, like their brothers on the sketch; because both have their model Continent, to the ascendency of a in the race ; and Cædmon found his superior civilization; they had not be. originals in the northern warriors, as come mingled with the inhabitants of Milton did in the Puritans :

the land; they had always treated them “Why shall I for his favor serve,

like enemies or slaves, pursuing like

bend to him in such vassalage? I may be a god as he wolves those who escaped to the mounStand by me, strong associates, who will not tains of the west, treating like beasts of fail me in the strife. Heroes stern of mood, burden those whom they had conquerhey have chosen me for chief, renowned wared with the land. While the Germans riors! with such inay one devise counsel, with such capture his adherents; they are my zeal- of Gaul, Italy, and Spain became Roous friends, faithful in their thoughts; I may mans, the Saxons retained their lanbe their chieftain, sway in this realm ; thus to guage, their genius and manners, and me it seemeth not right that I in aught need created in Britain a Germany, outcringe to God for any good; I will no longer side of Germany. A hundred and fifty be his vassal." +

He is overcome : shall he be sub years after the Saxon invasion, the in dued ? He is cast into the place of security attained by a society inclin.

troduction of Christianity and the dawr. “ where torment they suffer, burning ing to peace, gave birth to a 'kind of heat intense, in midst of hell, fire and literature; and we meet with the vener broad Aames : so also the bitter seeks able Bede, and later on, Alcuin, John smoke and darkness ;” will he repent? Scotus Erigena, and some others, com. At first he is astonished, : despairs ; mentators, translators, teachers of bar. but it is a hero's despair.

barians, who tried not to originate but "This narrow place is most unlike that other 30 compile, to pick out and explain that we ere knew, high in heaven's kingdom, from the great Greek and Latin ency. which my master bestow'd, on me... Oh, clopædia something which might suit had I power of my hands, and might one season

But the wars be without, bo one winter's space, then with the men of their time. this host 1-But around me lie iron bands, with the Danes came and crushed this presseth this cord of chain: I am powerless! humble plant, which, if left to itself, me have so hard the claps of hell, so firmly would have come to nothing." When grasped! Here is a vast fire above and underneath, never did I see a loathlier landskip; the Alfred † the Deliverer became king, dame abateth not, hot over hell. Me hath the “there were very few ecclesiastics,” hc clasping of these rings, this hard-polish'd band, says, on this side of the Humber, who impeded in my course, debarrd me from my could understand in English their own way; my feet are bound, my hands manacled, so that with aught I cannot from these Latin prayers, or translate


Latin Arab-bonds escape." I

writing into English. On the other side As there is nothing to be done against * They themselves feel their lupotence and God, it is IIis new creature, man, whom decrepitude. Bede, dividing the history of the he must attack. To him who has lost world into six periods, says that the Sfth, which

stretches from the return out of Babylon to the • Thorpe, Cadmon, iv. p. 18.

birth of Christ, is the senile period; the sixto This is Milton's opening also. (See Para- is the present, atas decrepita, totius martie dise Lost, Book i. verse 242, etc.) One would saculi consummanda. think that he must have had some knowledge † Died in gos; Adhelm died 709. Bede died a Cadmon from the translation of Junius. 735, Alcuio lived under Charlemagne, Krigen 1 Thorpe, Cadmom, iv. p. 33.

under Charles the Bald (843-877).


of the Humber I think there were | what pretentious, lavored, elegant, scarce any; there were so few that, in crowded with classical allusions of a truth, I cannot remember a single man refined and compact style worthy of south of the Thames, when I took the Seneca, become an artless, long drawn kingdom, who was capable of it.” He out and yet desultory prose, like a tried, like Charlemagne, to instruct his nurse's fairy tale, explaining, every people, and turned into Saxon for their thing, recommencing and breaking of use several works, above all some its phrases, making ten turns about a moral books, as the di Consolatione of single detail ; so low was it necessar* Boethius; but this very translation to stoop to the level of this new intelii ears witness to the barbarism of his gence, which had never thought or udience. He adapts the text in order known any thing. Here follows the o bring it down to their intelligence ; | latin of Boethius, so affected, so pretty, he pretty verses of Boethius, some with the English translation affixed :Quondam funera conjugis

“ It happened formerly that there was a Vates Threicius gemens,

harper in the country called Thrace, which was Postquam flebilibus modis

in Greece. The harper was inconceivably Silvas currere, mobiles,

good. His name was Orpheus. He had a Amnes stare coegerat,

very excellent wife, called Eurydice. Ther: Junxitque intrepidum latus

began men to say concerning the harper, that Sævis cerva leonibus,

he could harp so that the wood moved and the Nec visum timuit lepus

stones stirred themselves at the sound, and wild Jam car tu placidum canem ;

beasts would run thereto, and stand as if they Cum flagrantior intima

were tame; so still, that though men or hounds Fervor pectoris ureret,

pursued them, they shunned them not. Then Nec qui cuncta subegerant

said they, that the harper's wife should die, Mulcerent dominum modi ;

and her soul shouid be led to hell. Then Immites superos querens,

should the harper become so sorrowful that he Infernas adiit domos.

could not remair. -mong the men, but fre. Illic blanda sonantibus

quented the wood, úna sat on the mountains, Chordis carmina temperans,

both day and night, wezping and harping, so Quidquid præcipuis Deæ

that the woods shock, and the rivers stood still, Matris fontibus hauserat,

and no hart shunned any lion, nor hare any Quod luctus dabat impotens,

hound; nor did cattle know any hatred, or any Quod luctum geminans amor,

fear of others, for the pleasure of the sound. Deflet Tartara commovens.

Then it seemed to the harper that nothing in Et dulci veniam prece

this world pleased him. Then thought he that Umbrarum dominos rogat.

he would seek the gods of hell, and endeavur Stupet tergeminus novo

to allure them with his harp, and pray that they Captus carmine janitor;

would give him back his wife. When he came Quæ sontes agitant metu

thither, then should there come towards him Ultrices scelerum Deæ

the dog of hell, whose name was Cerberus, – Jam mæsta lacrymis madert

he should have three heads,--and began to wag Non Ixionium caput

his tail, and play with him for his harping. Velox præcipitat rota,

Then was there also a very horrible gatekeeper, Et longa site perditus

whose name should be Charon. He had also Spernit flumina Tantalus.

three heads, and he was very old. Then began Vultur dum satur est modis

the harper to beseech him that he would pro Non traxit Tityi jecur.

tect him while he was there, and bring him Tandem, vincimur, arbiter

thence again safe. Then did'he promise thai Umbrarum miserans ait.

to him, because he was desirous of the unac. Donemus comitem viro,

customed sound. Then went he farther until Emptam carmine conjugem.

he met the fierce goddesses, whom the common Sed lex dona coerceat,

people call Parcæ, of whom they say, that they Nec, dum Tartara liquerit,

know no respect for any man, but punish every Fas sit lumina flectere.

man according to his deeds ; and of whom they Quis legem det amantibus !

say, that they control every man's fortune. M ajor lex fit amor sibi.

Then began he to implore their mercy. Then Heul noctis prope terminos

Degan they to weep with him. Then went he Orpheus Eurydicem suam

farther, and all the inhabitants of hell ran to Vidit, per didít, occidit.

wards him, and led him to their king: and ali Vos hæc fabula respicit,

began to speak with him, and to pray that which Quicunque in superum diem

he prayed. And the restless wheel which Ixion Mentem ducere quæritis.

the king of the Lapithæ, was bound tu for his Nam qui tartareum in specus

guilt, that stood still for his harping. And Victus lumina flexerit,

Tantalus the king, who in this world was im Quidquid præcipuum trahit

moderately greedy, and whom that same vice Perdit, dum videt inferos."

of greediness followed there, he lecame quiet Book 111. Metre 12. And the vulture should cease, su that he tore


not the liver of Tityus the king, which before wide their big stupid eyes and faller therewith tormented him. And all the punish- asleep. ments of the inhabitants of hell were suspended,

For the whole talent of an uncultiwhilst he harped before the king. When he long and long had harped, then spoke the king vated mind lies in the force and one. of the inhabitants of hell

, and said, Let us give ness of its sensations. Beyond that it the man his wife, for he has earned her by his is powerless. The art of thinking ana harping. He then commanded him that he should well observe that he never looked back- reasoning lies above it. These men uards after he departed thence; and said, if lost all genius when they lost their he looked backwards, that he should lose the fever-heat. They lisped awkwardly and

But men can with great difficulty, if heavily dry chronicles, a sort of histor. at all, restrain love! Wellaway! Orpheus then led his wife with him till he came

ical almanacs. You ght think them to the boundary of light and darkness. Then peasants, who, returning from the r ver: his wife after him.

When he came forth toil, came and scribbled with chalk or int, the light, then looked he behind his back towards the woman. Then was she impiediately

a smoky table the date of a year of lost to him. This fable teaches every man who scarcity, the price of corn, the changes desires to fly the darkness of hell, and to come in the weather, a death. Even so, side to the light of the true good, that he look not by side with the meagre Bible chron. about him to his old vices, so that he practice icles, which set down the successions them again as fully as he did before. For whosoever with full will turns his mind to the of kings, and of Jewish massacres, are vices which he had before forsaken, and practices exhibited the exaltation of the psalms them, and they then fully please him, and he and the transports of prophecy. The never thinks of forsaking them; then loses he all his former good unless he agaio amend it." *

same lyric poet can be alternately a

brute and a genius, because his genius A man speaks thus when he wishes comes and goes like a disease, and in. to impress upon the mind of his hear. stead of having it he simply is ruled by

it. ers an idea which is not clear to them. Boethius had for his audience senators, "A. D. 611. This year Cynegils succeeded men of culture, who understood as well to the government in Wessex, and held it one, as we the slightest mythological allu-and-thirty winters. Cynegils was the son of sion. Alfred is obliged to take them Ceol Ceol of Cutha, Cutha of Cynric.

"614. This year Cynegils and Cnichelm up and develop them, like a father or a fought at Bampton, and slew two thousand and master, who draws his little boy be- forty-six of the Welsh. tween his knees, and relates to him August, and shone every morning during three

* 678. This year appeared the comet-star in names, qualities, crimes and their months like a sunbeam. Bishop Wilfrid being punishments, which the Latin only driven from his bishopric by King Everth, two hints at. But the ignorance is such bishops were consecrated in his stead. that the teacher himself needs correc- Ethelwulf, six nights before the mass of All


year died Alfred, the son of tion. He takes the Parcæ for the Saints. He was king over all the English naErinyes, and gives Charon three heads tion, except that part that was under the power like Cerberus. There is no adorn of the Danes. He held the government one ment in his version; no delicacy as in ear and a half less than thirty winters; and

then Edward his son took to the government. the original. Alfred has hard work to 902. This year there was the great fight make himself understood. What, for at the Holme, between the men of Kent and instance, becr mes of the noble Platonic

the Danes. moral, the apt interpretation after the of the Franks, and William, King of England.

1077. This year were reconciled the King style of Iamblichus and Porphyry? It But it continued only a little while. is altogether dulled. He has to call was London burned, one night before the As ezery thing by its name, and turn the sumption of St. Mary, so terribly as it never

was before since it was built." * eyes of his people to tangible and visible things. It is a sermon suited to It is thus the poor monks speak, his audience of Thanes ; the Danes with monotonous dryness, who aftei whom he had converted by the sword Alfred's time gather up and take note needed a clear moral. If he had trans- of great visible events; sparsely scatlated for them exactly the last words tered we find a few moral reflections, a of Boethius, they would have opened passionate emotion, nothing more. In

• Fox's Alfred's Bocthous, chap. 35, $ 6, * All these extracts are taken from Ingrun's be

Saxon Chronicla, 1823.


This year

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »