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6 THRYM surg.
« Thou, Freyia, must lend a winged robe,
To scek my hammer round the globe.” • Freya sung: “That shouldst thou have, though 'twere of gold,
And that, though 'twere of silver, hold
“ How fare the Asi? the All how ?
Why com’st thou alone to Jotunheim now?" • LOKE sung
« Ill fare the Asi; the Alfi mourn ;
“ I have the Thunderer's hammer bound,
Till he bring me Freyia to share my bed." Freyia, however, whose person he wished to secure by this extraordinary mode of courtship, refuses all assent to the proposition ; very properly observing that people might consider her as indeed desirous of a husband, if she connected herself with one of such execrable character, and a Jotun too, a name of the most extreme opprobrium among the Asi. The hammer, notwithstanding, must be again obtained, it being found by experience that this implement was necessary to their existence and power: as we are informed by that veracious historian, Saxo Grammaticus, that the Gods in battle were obliged to fly before the Giants when Thor was unable to use it. The Asi meet in council; and the virago continuing inflexible, Thor is with much intreaty induced to personate her; which he performs to admiration, considering the length of his beard and the strength of his appetite. The marriage-feasts being ended, the hammer miolner is brought in co plight the enaid:
* The Thunderer's soul smiled in his breast,
When the hammer hard on his lap was placed ;
Mr. Herbert observes on the first and second lines of Freyia's speech; It is remarkable that silver is here mentioned, as preferable to gold, and I believe intentionally ; for gold is frequently spoken of by the old Icelandic poets, and silver very rarely. Suhm ( Hist. of Danm. i. 119.) observes, that many utensils of gold have been dug out of the earth, in the northern countries, but very few of silver.' With all our partiality for gold, ---that necessary incumbrance, - we cannot allow this doctrine to pass without examination. From the lines themselves we can gather nothing conclusive, and that Suhm may be correct in his assertion we cannot deny; we only think that people have not been fortunate enough to dig in the proper places when they were in search of silver utensils. That such did exist in the northern countries, at a very carly date, is clear froin contemporary historians; an authority which we should deem equal to that of poets in a question of this nature. In the Ripe Cimbrice, is an account of plate belonging antiently to ecclesiastical foundations, which it would astonish Mr. Herbert to peruse after having written the above
“ Sed vasa illa, aurea et argentea, hodie non supersunt.” Rip. Cim. p. 213. We wish heartily that they may be dug up soon, and in the meanwhile we beg the sceptic's attention to a passage in the Antiquitates Danicæ of Bartholinus : « At. famen ante nummorum notitiam, auro et argento abundasse Septentrionem, que sive piratica arte olim in pretio habita, sive bellis exterorum quibus semper implicabantur, sive peregrinationibus sive vicinorum commerciis acquisita sunt, verissime collegit venerandus Parens,” &c. p. 463.
That gold was deemed superior to silver, Mr. Herbert will find proved by many authorities, and among others by Adam of Bremen, p. 84. edit. Hamb. 1706. It is indeed evident that, had silver been accounted the more precious metal, rings and other ornaments on which the highest value was set would have been almost universally made of it; yet we believe that very few passages can be pointed out in northern historians or poets, to shew that silver rings were used. We know only of one, viz. in the Stiornu Odda Draumur, appended to the Ice. landic Rymbegla.
We should wish to be better acquainted with the nature of the winged robe' in the first of our extracts : but Mr. Her. bert has not indulged our curiosity. He occasionally, indeed, passes over allusions to the costume and manners of antiquity, which are far from being apparent or generally understood, in a way that would make some critics, who had a less favourable opinion of his attainments than we have formed, suppose that
he knew nothing about them. Thus, the lines in the next poem but one
- The shrines have said that Ulter's friend
The loveliest, to death must tend,' require comment ; few know that the Gothic nations had temples whence they received oracular responses; and we think that they would rather have had this information in the notes 'to the poem than, in lieu of it, an assurance that Mr. Cottle was wretchedly qualified to be a translator of the Edda. That Mr. Herbert, however, does not wilfully lose any opportunity of adding to our stock of knowlege, when it is in his power to increase it, is plainly seen from a remark which he makes on the conclusion of this song of Thrym. She got blows instead of skillings, (a coin nearly answering to a halfpenny) and strokes of the hammer instead of many rings. This seems to be the origin of our old proverb, to get more kicks than halfpence.' We have been long ago taught by some ingenious gentlemen that all our romantic fictions are stolen from the Arabians, and we are now for the first time informed of another though smaller branch of this vast system of peculation, namely the purloining of proverbs from Iceland; a circumstance not surprising, when we consider the great intercourse which has always subsisted between that country and Great Britain; and we may add, in the present instance, the knowlege of our ancestors respecting the Song of Thrym and the catastrophe of Thrym's sister.
The next in succession of those poems that have chiefly engaged our attention is Gunlaug and Rafen ; and our notice was first attracted by the versification, which is of a species the worst calculated to convey to our ears the idea of the march and flow of Icelandic measure. We think that in all such instances Mr. Herbert acts very injudiciously when he employs the quatrain, or any other combination of rhymes, in preference to the couplet used in the Song of Thrym; which he appears to us to manage well, and which gives the expression of the rude numbers of the Skalds with good effect. Stanzas like the following have nothing in common with the genius of his originals:
•The rich delights of love
To many fatal prove ;
Much evil do they bear,
Though fashion'd purely fair
And chaste by heaven's almighty King.' We were not more surprised at the versification of this little poem than at a singular fancy of the editor which has induced
A a 4
him to change its title. In the Icelandic, the fictitious names Svafader and Skarthedin are used instead of Gunlaug aud Rafen, but the author ceriainly alluded to their celebrated history; and deservedly is it celebrated, since, in consequence of their fatal enmity, the legal duel was abolished, by the full public assembly of the Icelanders, in the year 1011, only eleven years after the first establishment of the Christian religion amongst them.' We have reason for believing that Mr. Herbert is here completely in a mistake ; ist, Because Sæmund's Edda was compiled, we should suppose, within sixty or seventy years after the death of these heroes; and at that short distance of time their names would more probably be prefixed to what was totally unconnected with them, than withdrawn from the tale of their own sorrows; since their reputation and their story, yet recent in memory, would give an interest to every thing that related to them. 2dly, In the song, the heroes are represented as bound to each other by the closest ties of friendship, which were only broken by their unfortunate attachment to one object : but, from the Sagan of Gunlaugi, the authentic history of Gunlaug and Rafen, it appears that they never were friends for any length of time. A partiality, indeed, commenced: but we ate speedily informed that they quarrelied about precedency in reciting their poems before the king, and were ever afterward irreconcileable foes ; so that love had no share in making them enemies. The catastrophe in the song is the same, indeed, with that of Gunlaug and Rafen: but, although we are al. ways inclined to give Fiuellen's resemblances their due share of importance, we cannot allow them to prove identity.
The Song of Hurold the Hardy. This song, so descriptive of the mingled spirit of gallantry and adventure which antiently characterised the Scandinavian pirates or sea-kings, is here translated literally, and, we think, with considerable success: but Mr. Herbert's wish to differ from others has led him to reverse the meaning of the burden, and thus he completely detroys the effect of the song. Harold, after having boasted of his skill in manly exercises, adds to each stanza a complaint, " but the maid of the gold ring in Russia refuses to embrace me.” Taking the advantage, however, of an ambiguous expression in the orie ginal, Mr. Herbere's chorus is,
“ With golden ring in Russia's land
To me the virgin plights her band." It is true that he has the concurrence of some scholars for this explanation : but none of them seem to have been aware that the insensibility of the northern damsel, to the deserts of a warrior, was aớected from a desire that he might be induced
to perform some brilliant action for her sake alone. We are informed by Pontoppidan that Frocho III, of Denmark was at one time in an exactly similar predicament with Harold the Hardy. He woord a Russian maiden, and urged the same qualitications in his favour : but the Russian maidea replied,
you are not yet susficiently celebrated.”
We give one stanza of this song, as an instance of tolerably happy compression :
• Eight feats I ken; the sportive game,
My dexterous oar defies the tide.' Each of the chiess of the north seems to have had, at this period, his catalogue of savage virtues. Mr. Herbert will find that of king Oluff Iryggeson in Jacobson Debbes's “ Færuæ et Faroa Reserata.”
The Lamentation of Starkuder. We observe a wildness in the prose accouit quoted by Mr. H. and subjoined to this effusion, which is very strikir:g:
“ Starkader accompanied king Vikar to Hordaland; he was the most distinguished warrior in the arıny, and dearest to the king. The wind proving boisterous and unfavourable, after the 'oracles had been consulted, it was deemed, that Odin required a man, drawn by lot from the army, to be hanged as a sacritice; the lot fell upon Vikar, which produced great sorrow amongst his followers. A lito tle before midnight Starkader was awakened by his foster-father Hrosharsgrani, who hade him rise and follow him. They took a small boat, and rowed to an island : there went they up into the woods, and found a spot, from which the trees had been cleared. Eleven men sat there upon stools, and a twelfth seat was unoccupied. They advanced into the assembly, and Hrosharsgrani seated himself in the vacant place. They all saluted Odin, who said, that the judges should decide the fate of Starķader."
Yet all this mysterious pageant is allowed to pass before our cyes without a word of explanation ; and we are left to our own sources of information, to learn that it was antiently a method of practising divination. The custom appears to have prevailed very generally in the north; and it had not, as we are informed by Martin in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, entirely ceased there so late as the beginning of the last ceptury. We hope to see this poem better illustrated in a future edition, and we take this opportunity of informing the editor that he will find in Bartholinus, p. 644, a strange poetical rhapsody, which evidently refers to the same