Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

more prominent parts of these bones, such as must have been broken had they been brought to their present situations from a distince, are in the highest state of preservation; nor have any bones been found having the slightest appearance of having been worn by attrition.

Among all the fossil bones that have been found in different parts of Italy, there are very few which can, with any degree of certainty, be referred to carnivorous land animals. In the museum of Florence, there is a portion of a jawbone with three teeth, which appears to have belonged to an animal of this class; and there are some bones and teeth, in the collections of Targioni and Tartini, which Cuvier considered as belonging to the Bear. All these were found in Valdarno. We have also in this work a further confirmation of the extraordinary fact, perhaps the most important that lias yet been established by the re- searches of the geologist, that in all the collections of fossil bones that have been discovered in various parts of the world, even amongst the gravel scattered on the surface during the last of the innumerable changes which the crust of the earth has under: gone, not a trace of the existence of man has been discovered.

The second volume contains the Descriptive Catalogue of the fossil shells of the Sub-Apennines, arranged according to the sys“. tem of Linneus, which M. Brocchi has adopted in preference to those of Bruguiere, Lamark, and Bosc; who, with a pedantic affectation of precision, have created many new genera where no essential differences exist, and, by introducing a cumbrous load of new terms, have rendered the subject of Conchology, in itself sufficiently tiresome, still more tedious and uninviting.

In the Catalogue, the three classes of Univalves, Bivalves, and Multivalves, are separately treatel of; and, under each genus are described the different species found in a fossil state in the Sub-Apennines. All the Linnæan genera of Univalves have been found, excepting the Argonauta and Haliotis; and all the Bivalves, without any exception. Of the Multivalves, the Chiton has not been met with. The descriptions of the shells are illustrated by plates, which we cannot praise too highly; for they are more beautifully executed than any thing of the kind

have ever seen before.

we

[ocr errors]

ART. VIII. 1. Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, from the car

lier Teutonic and Scandinavian Romances, being an Abstract

of the Book of Heroes and Nibelungen Lay; with Translata : tions of Metrical Tales from the old German, Danish, Swedish,

and Icelandic Languages, with Notes und Dissertations. (By Mr.Weber and Mr JAMIESON.) 4to. pp. 320. Elina burgh, 1814.

2. Altdeutsche Wälder, durch der Brüder Grimm. Frankfort,

1815. Cassel, 1813. 3. Lieder der Alten Edda aus der handschrift herausgegeben und

erklärt durch dir Brüder GRIMJ. Berlin, 1815. 4. Nordische Helden Romane Uebersetzt durch F. H. von DER

Hagen, Berlin, 1814. 5. Allnordische Sagen und Lieder,, 80,-herausgegeben durch F.

H. VON DER Hagen. Berlin, 1812. 6. Der beiden altesten Deutschen gedichte aus dem achten Jahrhun

dert, Das Lied von Hildebrand und Hadnbrand und das Weissenbrunner gebet zum erstenmal in ihrem metrum dargestellt und herausgegeben durch der Brüder Grimm. Cassel,

1812.

7: Literarischer grundriss zur geschichte der Deutschen poesie

durch F. H. VON DER HAGEN und J. G. Büsc IING.

Berlin, 1812. 8. Der Heldenbuch, herausgegeben durch F. H. von der HAGEN.

Berlin, 1812. 9. Ueber der Altdeutschen Meister gesang von 'JACOB GRIMM.

Göttingen, 1811. 10. Der Lied der Nibelungen in der Ursprache, mit der Lesarten

der verschiedenen hand-schriften herausgegeben durch F. H.

VON DER Hagen. Berlin, 1810. 11. Sammlung Deutschen Volks lieder, herausgegeben durch Büs

CHING und VON DER HAGEN, Berlin, 1807.

Th

He study of the ancient poetry of the North, has now be

come a favourite pursuit in Germany. Whilst the Germans were groaning under their foreign taskmasters, their laws, their customs, and their very language were threatened with extinction. Their common sufferings, as well as their late unexampled successes, have roused the dormant spirit of German påtriotism. They have become conscious of the innate worth and might of their nation, and have begun to prize whatever is peculiar to it with enthusiastic fondness. This effervescent nationality is perhaps at present a little tou impetuous; but it has had the good effect of restoring their long forgotten bards, as well as the romantic legends of the olden day, to their former popularity: And a kind of poetical accomplishment has thus been given to the old prophecy, that Ariovistus and Wittekind, and the invulnerable Siegfried would issue once more from the ruins of Geroldseck, at the time when Germany was in its utmost need, and again bring triumph and glory to their countrymen,

All nations have had their mythological age, in which the des

stroyers of mankind have generally found no difficulty in soaring up to the thrones of the celestial regions. The last Odin, in this way, became the rightful monarch of Valhalla; and the statue of the King of the Cherusci, was exalted on the pillar of the god of battles.

of battles. We doubt not but that the bards of Arminius found the defeat of Varus and his legions announced with all due clearness and precision in the dread oracles of the Oak: And, making allowance for change of circumstances, we may safely boast, that the hierophantic race is not wholly extinct, even in the present day. Every body knows how skilfully Mr Granville Penn contrived to discover, within a very few months after the end of the last Russian campaign, that all Bonaparte's bulletins and bivouacks--Moscow, Smolensko and Kutosoff, and Tchitchagoff, were all lying snugly enough wrapped up in the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel ; and if affairs had not fortunately taken another turn, there was a time when their Majesties of Austria, Wirtemberg, Prussia, &c. &c. and certain other of their cashiered compeers, would have had a fair chance of ranking amongst the seven heads and the ten horns, at least in the opinion of more than one acute and learned expounder of the book of Revelation.

There has been as rapid a transition from military fame to romantic fabling in less obscure periods. By ascribing to the successful warrior somewhat of supernatural prowess, the vanquished have been willing to extenuate their shame, and the victors to enhance their glory. When Alexander buried the armour fitted for limbs of more than mortal mould, he had a latent foreboding of the light in which he was to be considered by future generations in Persia and India, who would picture him now mounted on his griffin, and darting through the clouds, and now sunk beneath the billows in his house of glass, and compelling the inhabitants of every element to own him as their sovereign. The pride of the Franks bestowed more crowns upon Charlemagne, than that doughty and orthodox Emperor ever claimed. And the prowess of Roland must be gathered from the song

of the minstrel, and not from the dry historical brevity of Eginhart, where we shall seek in vain for the terrific imagery of the battle of Roncesvalles, in the ambush of the Gascons, and the death of the Prefect Rotlandus. The investigations of the historians of chivalrous fiction, have been hitherto confined to the Romances of the French and their numerous imitators; and the subject, although by no means exhausted, has yet become tolerably familiar. The errant knights whom we have usually encountered, either aspire to a scat at the Round Table, or owe allegiance to the lilied banner; and with these most of us are now very tolerably acquainted. Amadis of Gaul, and Palmerin

[ocr errors]

gra

than at

of England, are almost as well known to us as Wellington and Bonaparte; while their outlandish antagonists, the bearded Sotdans and recreant Saracens, are about as familiar as the Imperial Mamelukes, or the Polish Lancers. The very giants of any note are of our own kith and kin; and, upon a nearer acquaintance, the fierce Morholt dwindles into a tall Irishman, hardly half a foot above the regulation standard of a widow-hunter.

It is far otherwise in the national romances of the Germans. We

gaze there on strange countenances, and listen to stranger names: And it is with some difficulty that we are at length enabled to recognise the Gothic and 'Hunnish subverters of the Roman Empire, in the throng of frowning warriors, who dually recede from our view, until they lose themselves amidst the remote and visionary forms of Scandinavian mythology. When Europe was overwhelined by the Teutonic nations, the distinctions between these kindred tribes were not so sharply detined as at later periods. The Christianity of the Germans afterwards contributed still more to separate them from such of the same stock as adhered to their oid religion. But whilst the early conquests were going on, they were constantly intermingling. And there is therefore less reason to be surprised, at the wide diffusion of the fables whose historical groundwork, is to be found in the achievements of that eventful

age, the various disguises which they assume.

The earliest vestiges of the Teutonic story are preserved in the poems of the older Edda, collected by Sæmund Sigufson, who lived between the years 1051 and 1121, which have been published at large, for the first time, both by Grimm and Hagen (Nos. 3. and 5.) From these the Volsunga Saga was compiled, in the saine manner as the prose romances of chivalry were afterwards formed out of the metrical originals. The hero Sigurd slays the dragon Fofner, and wins the fatal treasure which he guards. He awakens Brynhild, the wise, the warlike, and the fair, from the magic slumber into which she has been cast by Odin, and plights his faith to her: But the charmed drink prepared by Grimhilld causes him to lose all remembrance of his vows, and to become the husband of Gudrun, the daughter of the sorceress. The subsequent adventures of the Volsunga Saga, as far as the assassination of Sigurd, and the voluntary death of Brynhilld, may be seen in Mr Herbert's translations, to which it must be added, that Swanhilde, the daughter of Sigurd, becomes the wife of King Jormunrett, who, deceived by the traitor Bikke, causes her to be trampled to death by wild horses. Agreeing in substance, but with the usual variations of traditionary poetry, the story of the German • Lay of the Nibelungen’ is found in the ancient Danish bal

[ocr errors]

lacs--the Kicmpe and Elskoos viser,' the most important of which, have been admirably translated by Mr Jamieson.

The latest of the Scandinavian works, relating to the German heroes of the first race, is the • Welkina and Niflunga Saga, which was compiled, in the 13th century, from the sougs of the s Danes and Swedes, the poetry of the Northmen, and the an

cient romances and traditions of the North of Germany.' In the very curious ancient preface, the author apologizes for the poetical exaggerations of the Scalds, and magnifies the importance of his Saga,' which begins in Apulia, and travels north

ward to Lombardy and Venice, and Thuringia and Hungary sai:d Sweden, and also into Valland (either Italy or France) 5 and Spain. And of all these kingdoms does this Saga treat, • and describes the deeds which were performed therein.'

The Jormunreck of the Edda, the Ermenrich of the German romances, is undoubtedly the Great Ermanaric, whom Jornandles compares to another Alexander: And as the same historian notices the fate of Swanhilld, under the name of Saniel or Senilda, an undeniable proof is thus afforded of the antiquity of the Scaldic rhapsodies. The Arthur of Teutonic romance, however, is the hero Dieterich of Bern; and he and his companions appear more or less prominently in all the poems which compose the cycle. It is thought that their deeds of high emprize were sung in the ancient and barbarous verses,' which, according to Eginhart, were collected by Charlemagne. His partiality for these national legends may have given rise to the traditionary fable contained in the annals of Snorro, according to which he carried his curiosity still further ; for, as he wished to see the very persons of these renowned champions, the Earl Widforull evoked their spectres, who arose obedient to the spell, mounted on their war-steeds, and clothed in full armour. The ghostly squadron advanced in four divisions, and when Dieterich came before the Emperor, they sprung from their cburgers, and seated themselves in his presence. Dieterich was known by his towering stature, and by his shield, upon which, as in his lisetime, was emblazoned a crowned lion. His right, however, to bear this ancient device of the Gothic Kings becomes somewhat questionable, from the induction to the Helden-buch,' from which it may be inferred, that the evil spirit Machmet,' whom the mother of Dieterich found lying by her side, when King Dietmar, his reputed father, was on a journey, had some reason to take a more than usual interest in the fate of the unborn hero, who, as he prophesied, would breathe fire when he was enraged-a gift which afterwards proved of essential service to him. The spirit also assured her that her son would become a right pious hiero; '- and in three nights the Devil built a fair

« FöregåendeFortsätt »