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rying the royal prerogative to the most despotic height, will pause before they acquiesce with Collier in regarding the following passage as a foul aspersion upon the purity and independence of the honourable House of Commons. "Gardiner, at that time the prime minister, had beforehand prepared them (the commons) by giving the most considerable of them pensions ;" an assertion so far from being contrary to fact that it is indirectly confirmed by an observation of Heylin on the parliament of Edward VI. that "the cards were so well packed by Sir Ralph Sadler that there was no need of any other shuffling till the end of the game." It must strike almost every impartial reader as a most unconscientious contempt of truth and justice, on the part of Collier, to accuse the bishop of falsifying history, because he says that "one Beale informs us that, in many places of the country, men were chosen for Queen Mary's parliament by force and by threats; when this angry polemic could not but have seen, in such well-known books as Fox and Heylin, that it is there set forth that one John Hales made the same declaration in an oration before Queen Elizabeth." It would be tedious to rehearse the other specimens of Collier's acrimonious hostility against the historian of the Reformation. They are, for the most part, equally founded on misrepresentations and mistakes; the whole attack thus furnishing a lamentable proof of the sorcery of party spirit, which conjectures without modesty, judges without lenity, and defames without scruple.
(To be continued in the next number.)
SKETCH OF THE STATE OF LITERATURE AND EDUCATION IN DENMARK,*
PREVIOUSLY TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY;
WITH NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
THE Icelandic is the source of all the northern poetry: the Icelandic tongue once prevailed in Denmark, Sweden and Norway: it is the language of the Scaldic tales,† of the Saga legends, and of the Runic inscriptions. There came a time, however, when this sister of the German dialect, this queen of the Scandinavian regions, gradually abandoned the land over which she reigned without a rival, and retired to the school of Skalholt,‡ like a recluse carrying
'Mr. X. Marmier made a Report on this interesting subject to "Le Ministre de l'Instruction Publique,” at Paris: it was dated at Copenhagen, January, 1838, and published in the "Revue des Deux Mondes,” p. 507–522, for the February following.
+ In the Scaldatal, or list of the Scalds of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, no less than two hundred and nine names are enumerated. This list is inserted in Snorro Sturleson's Heimskringla, or Chronica Regum Septentrionalium seu Norvegicorum, danicé versa, a Petro Claudii pastore quondam Undalino primario, denuo in multorum gratiam revisa, continuata et prelo subjecta; 4to, Hafnia, 1633. It also has a place in the Dissertation of Olaus Wormius de Priscâ Danorum Poësi which is appended to his Literatura Danica antiquissima, vulgó Gothica dicta; 4to, Hafniæ, 1636, et folio, Ib. 1651. The same curious document is preserved by N. P. Sibbern in his Bibliotheca Historica Dano-Norvegica, sive de scriptoribus rerum DanoNorvegicarum commentarius historico-literarius: 8vo, Hamburgh, 1716. The saga legends, to the number of thirty-eight, are preserved in the poetic Edda of Saemundr the Sage, who was a native of Odde in Iceland, and afterwards priest of that parish. He was descended of a noble origin, and died in A.D. MCXXXIII: his life was long, laborious and useful, and his memory is cherished by the Icelanders with extraordinary veneration.
Naddod a naval adventurer was driven on the coast of Iceland in the year DCCCLXI, by a storm; and, in consequence of this incident, he discovered an island which, in A.D. DCCCLXXV, furnished an asylum for the noblest families in Norway; which afterwards became a venerable seat of learning, where the songs and tales of the North were faithfully preserved; and which, for the long space of three centuries, continued to be a hallowed retreat of freedom and philosophy. While the island was yet being peopled, Skalholt rose to be its metropolitan city, and long enjoyed a high distinction as a seminary of education.
VOL. IX., NO. XXVII.
into his rural retreat the poetic fictions and "reminiscences" of his youth. Denmark was led thus to change the Scandinavian idiom, by her vicinity to Germany, and by intercourse with other people; and, of all the branches sprung from the same original language, the Danish has undergone the greatest alterations. In different parts of the kingdom, in Zealand, in Jutland, according to the differences of position and the diversity of external relations, the particular dialects arose which afterwards yielded to the Zealandic, in the same way as those of the several provinces in Germany were superseded by the "High German." From the day when this separation from Iceland became manifest, when the subjects of the kings of Roeskild, the inhabitants of Ripen and Odensee, began to speak a language which their brethren in Iceland did not understand, from that day commences the history of Danish literature.
In its early development, this Language was languid and slow. It must be closely traced through many ages, before the light breath of its vitality can be distinguished, the whispering of its tremulous voice can be understood. Whilst the young muse of the Middle Age awoke, amid the orange-groves of Provence and the oak-forests of Normandy; whilst, on either bank of the Loire, were heard the plaintive lays of the love-tale alternating with the lore of moral minstrelsy; whilst the spirit of poetry extended from clime to clime, penetrating into the warrior's dwelling-place and the priest's abode ; whilst the minstrels, the "minnesingers,"* the Castilian bards with
The first poetry-the Provençal or Limosin-among the European ver. nacular languages, was formed on either side of the Pyrenean mountains, near the delightful domains of the Arabs, the imaginative creators of chivalry. Sonnets, canzonets, tenzonets, idyls, villanescas, sirventes, madrigals and other forms of metrical composition, invented for witty questions and dialogues and envelopes for amorous epistles, gave occasion for a singular tribunal the corte de amor-wherein ladies and knights, princes and kings, were concerned as parties and judges, Before this court, the "Gaya Ciencia," the science of the troubadours, was originally established, as a pursuit of the higher nobility; but, on its afterwards falling into the hands of contadores and truanes and bufones, the story-tellers and jesters and court-buffoons, it became despised, neglected, inexistent. In the days of its early flourishing, the Provençal poësy had a softly harmonious and pathetic style which tended to refine the language and to polish the manners of its votaries. As has been said, it was the general parent of all modern European poetry: that of Spain, France and Italy, arose as its daughters: by it, Petrarch was tutored; and of it, he was emulous: the Minnesingers of Germany were its remote and harsh echoes, though the softest of her language is unquestionably theirs. Like other modes of minstrelsy, however, it ultimately degenerated with the vagrant jongleurs of France and the vagabond meistersingers
their sonorous harmonies, and the Italian poets with their soul-dissolving effusions, were everywhere listened to with extravagant admiration; whilst imagination and melody received the homage of other lands, all in Denmark was darksome and silent. During this slumber of the intellect, never a poetic song uprose, save that of the Scalds, composed in an obsolete tongue, and appertaining to a departed age. When Christianity had dispersed the fictions of a pagan theogony, modern language had not yet passed from its infancy, and the Danish people found themselves placed between the wrecks of their ancient religion and the incomplete structure of the new, between an established tongue that was disappearing, and an unformed language which they could not use. They were incapable of discerning a poetic element, and of creating the means of social improvement. Besides, they were entirely occupied with mere animal pursuits, to the exclusion of intellectual exercises. Warfare, piracy and traffic, were cherished by the resolute Danes for their poetry; and to them, occupations of this sort constituted the fountain of glory, the mainspring of life and exertion. This daring people despised every thing that tended to divert them from the scenes of an adventurous existence, and they reposed with a perfect serenity of soul in their ignorance and barbarism.
In studying the history of a nation's literature, the mind naturally suffers itself to be captivated by the splendour of brilliant epochs and the haloes of illustrious names. Nevertheless, there is a peculiar charm in descending from eminences visible to the ken of all beholders, to examine the intermediate spaces, and in stepping aside to retrace the humble foot-path that joins the highway, or the unheeded well-spring that oozes in droplets from a rock of granite, to become a mighty stream. Generally, there exists a correlative accordance between the favourite pursuits of man, during his vigorous manhood, and the direction given to them in the prime of his days. Such an accordance, also, has place in literature. With a view to know the "genius of humanity," we ought not only to scrutinize it in its epochs of glory, but likewise in those of its infancy and earliest effort. The former display its powers; the latter exhibit its perseverance. The former are brilliant as the noonday sun in his full refulgence; the latter resemble the beams of
of Germany, the Lore of Love and Chivalry sunk into a despicable trade.— Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man; translated from the German of John Godfrey Herder, by T. Churchill; 4to, London, 1800; Book XX, Chapter 11, p. 608-9.
morning over-veiled with clouds or obscured with mists, before it gradually shines forth effulgent, and disperses the darkness and the fogs with its energies of life and light.
Let us, then, endeavour to investigate the origin of Letters in Denmark, without being discouraged by their rude beginnings, their unsteady progress, their protracted obstructions. The inquiry will conduct us to true science, to genuine poësy.
Denmark, during the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, still remained a pagan country. Charlemagne, after having converted the fierce Saxon tribes to a profession of Christianity, more by the power of his sword than by persuasion, at last conceived the project of carrying his "evangelical" conquests beyond the Elbe. Death, however, prevented him from accomplishing his design; but, by Louis le Debonnaire, the scheme was completed. At the Council held at Thionville, in A.D. DCCCXXI, the resolution was adoptedthat the Christian Faith should be preached to the Northern nations. Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims, voluntarily undertook to fulfil this mission, and applied personally to the Pope for instructions. The bull* granted to him by Paschal I, is the most ancient document having reference to this subject, now in existence. An unexpected circumstance occurred to enliven the zeal of the new missionaries. One of the kinglets who divided the Danish states among themselves, Harald Klak, the prince of Jutland, was discomfited in battle; and, being hardly pressed by his enemies, he fled to the successor of Charlemagne for protection The pious emperor eagerly seized this as an opportunity favourable for making an available proselyte. He preached to the pagan fugitive, converted him, baptized him, and restored him to the sovereignty of his former dominions. When Ebbo arrived in the north, he found a patron in this disciple of Louis. Unfortunately, the petty prince of Jutland was unable, however willing, to sustain the Faith he had adopted; wherefore, after preaching some sermons and baptizing a few persons, the archbishop returned to France.
In his apostolical labours, Ebbo was succeeded by Ansgard, a monk of Corbeil. This devotee possessed youth, vigour and hardihood: he was animated with the virtues of a christian and the zeal of a missionary. He departed for the place of his destined ministry, accompanied by Authbert, one of his friends, who cherished, like himself, an enthusiastic anxiety for proselytism. After a tedious
This curious and important "instruction" has been saved for useful reference, by bishop Pontoppidan, in his "Ecclesiastical Annals."