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fable. A horse with his shining mane scatters light, and illuminates the earth and air. Two little children, with a pitcher suspended at the end of a stick, accompany the moon, and occasion its eclipses. The sun runs very swiftly; for two wolves, ready to devour him, continually follow. In this fable we have the origin of a custom received among us, the source of which seems to have been forgotten. The Edda gives the night preeminence over the day; it precedes, and out of it the day is produced. Hence we say, this day se’nnight,' for seventh night; fortnight,' for fourteenth night. Thus customs taken from forgotten opinions are often erroneously attributed to the effects of chance or caprice.
The eighth fable takes for its title The Holy City, or the Residence of the gods. In it we hear of Odin demanding a draught of the Fountain of Wisdom, but obliged to pawn one of his eyes for the grant. Thus, we see the father of heaven wanting an eye, which Mimis keeps as a pledge in his own possession, and every morning bathes it with hydromel. A strange allegory this; and, what is worse, we want. the key for its solution. In this fable also we find a complete theory of Fairyism. “ Three virgins whose names, as in the Celtic language, are Past, Present, and Future, as fates, dispense the periods of man's life; but there are several who assist at his birth, and decide his future fortune." Fairies, according to the conjectures of our author, were deified prophetesses, for the Celtic women excelled in every sort of superstition, particularly in augury; and perhaps those who were most distinguished in this art, were raised to the rank of gods. The ninth fable treats of Thor, son to the father of the universe, who conquered the giants, who performed many wonderful exploits, and whose palace was called an asylum against fear. He, too, like the Persian Mithras, was the symbol of fire, and like him a merciful divinity, a mediator between God and man.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth fables, in the histories of Loke and Loup Fenris, we have the principle of evil characterized in the most perspicuous and striking manner. Loup Fenris is represented as a being educated by the gods, till they perceived " that he every day most surprisingly increased in stature, and till the oracles had apprised them he should one day be their foe. Accordingly they united to bind him, and the execrations he then poured forth were most horrible; since when, the “foam issues from his mouth in such abundance, that it forms a river called Vam, that is to say, vices ;—but this monster will break his chains at the twilight (crepuscule) of the gods, in other words, at the end of the world."
But the great event which the Edda never loses sight of, is the future destruction of the world, and the description of it, in the thirty-third and thirty-fourth fables, is to the last degree sublime and picturesque. Take an instance in the following sketch. “Loup Fenris advances, opening his enormous jaws, the lower of which descended to earth while the upper was lifted to heaven, and would have aspired even above the heavens, could it find
Destroying flames burst from his eyes and nostrils; he vomits floods of poison, that overwhelm the air and the waters in the inundation. In the midst of this tumult the heaven divides, and the genii of fire come riding through the chasm." We are displeased to find Odin, the father of all, perish in the dreadful catastrophe. This contradicts his eternity; but we are not to expect precision in poetical mythology.
Vodar, his son, however, became at last victorious, and reduced all things to order. And, says the Edda, when this world shall be consumed by flames, again shall spring from the sea another earth, beautiful, pleasing, and clothed with landscapes of unceasing verdure. The author, in a note at the end of the last fable, gives us the doctrine of the Edda, stripped of its poetical
ornaments and its adventitious allegories: " And though," says he, “ the Edda should have no other merit than that of informing us what the Celtes thought of futurity, even for this it might deserve to be saved from oblivion."
III.-THORNTON AND COLMAN'S CONNOISSEUR.*
[From the Monthly Review, 1757. On “ The Connoisseur. By
Mr. Town, Critic and Censor General.” 4 vols. 12mo.]
WHEN fate or fortune calls from us the friend whose society has contributed towards the pleasure or the happiness of our lives, how gladly do we substitute in his room all that remains of him ! We find consolation in every pledge of friendship he has left behind, and cherish every relic that reminds us of our past satisfaction. The Connoisseur has taken leave of the public, and every admirer of good taste and good humor must regret his departure; but he here commits to their patronage a new edition of his late
* [The publication of the Connoisseur” was commenced in January 1754, by Bonnell Thornton and George Colman. Thornton had been one of the contributors to the “ Adventurer;" and Colman, at the age of twenty, had then made, what was probably his first appearance in public as a prose writer. Their humor and their talents were well adapted to what they had undertaken; and Beaumont and Fletcher present what is probably the only parallel instance of literary co-operation so complete, that the portions written by the respective parties are undistinguishable. Cowper,” says Mr. Southey, “contributed a few papers to the Connoisseur.' One of them is upon the subject of Keeping a Secret; and though written in a strain of levity, it had so good an effect upon himself, that he says, ' from that day he believed he had never divulged one.' If he had not the same virtue of discretion before (and so it may be inferred from such an acknowledgment), this is a remarkable instance of the benefit that may be derived from calmly considering what our opinions are upon any question of practical importance, before it happens directly to concern us."-Southey's Couper, vol. i. p. 49.]
publications, and we doubt not their welcome reception of them will evince their regard to his memory.
The writer may be styled the friend of Society, in the most agreeable acceptation of the term; for he rather converses with all the ease of a cheerful companion, than dictates, as other writers in this class have done, with the affected superiority of an author. He is the first writer since Bickerstaff, who has been perfectly satirical yet perfectly good-natured; and who never, for the sake of declamation, represents simple folly as absolutely criminal. He has solidity to please the grave, and humor and wit to allure the gay: in a word, as the manners of the times which he repreșents differ from those of the preceding, so his method of treating them is different from that of former essayists. “ Whatever objections," says our author, “the reader may have to the subjects of my papers, I shall make no apology for the manner in which I have chosen to treat them. The dread of falling into what they are pleased to call colloquial barbarisms, has induced some skilful writers to swell their bloated diction with uncouth phrases and the affected jargon of pedants. For my own part, I never go out of the common way of expression, merely for the sake of introducing a more sounding word with a Latin termination; the English language is sufficiently copious, without any further addition of new terms; and the native words seem to me to have far more force than any foreign auxiliaries, however purposely ushered in,-as British soldiers fight our battles better than the troops taken into our pay.
“ The subjects of my Essays have been chiefly such as I thought might recommend themselves to the public notice, by being new and uncommon. For this reason I purposely avoided the worn-out practice of retailing scraps of morality, and affecting to dogmatize on the common duties of life. In this point, indeed, the Spectator is inimitable: nor can I hope to say any
thing new upon these topics, after so many excellent moral and religious essays, which are the powerful ornament of that work; I have therefore contented myself with exposing vice and folly, by painting mankind in their natural colors, without assuming the rigid air of a preacher, or the drowsiness of a philosopher; I have rather chosen to undermine our fashionable excesses by secret sapping, than to storm them by open assault. In a word, upon all occasions I have endeavored to laugh people into a better behavior ; as I am convinced that the sting of reproof is not less sharp for being concealed, and advice never comes with a better force than when it comes with a laughing one."
[From the Monthly Review, 1757. “The Epigoniad. A Poem,
in nine Books. 12mo. Edinburgh."]
This poem, as the author informs us, “is called the Epigoniad, because the heroes whose actions it celebrates, have got the name of Epigones,” (Epigoni, he should have said,)“ being the sons
* (William Wilkie, D. D., the “Scottish Homer,” as he has been called, was born at Echlin, in the county of Linlithgow, in 1721. While at the university of Edinburgh, he formed intimacies with Doctor Robertson, David Hume, Adain Smith, and John Home, the author of “ Douglas." Henry Mackenzie, in his Life of the last-mentioned individual, says that Wilkie's friends all spoke of him as “ superior in genius to any man of his time, but rough and unpolished in his manners, and still less accommodating to the decorum of society in the ordinary habits of his life. Charles Townshend, a very competent judge of men, said, after being introduced to him and spending a day with him, that he had never met with a man who approached so near to the two extremes of a god and a brute as Dr. Wilkie.” The “ Epigoniad” was published at Edinburgh in 1757, and a second edition in 1759 ; after which it was not re-printed till 1794, when it was admitted by Dr. Anderson into his dition of the British Poets. Wilkie died in 1772.)