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allege. Her virtues, however, were
“ form and pressure.” The her own; her delinquencies, of the object was good, the desire was laudreligion in which she had been bred, able ; but it is quite possible to be and the age in which she lived. carried too far, even in working out It was the age, and she had been bred the most praiseworthy principle. in the court, which witnessed the Long accounts of dresses, decorations, successive murders of the Duke of and processions; entries of expenses Guise and the Admiral Coligni at the in Treasurers' accounts; even original court of France; the Massacre of St letters, unless on very particular ocBartholomew by a French king, and casions, are the materials of biography, the fires of Smithfield lighted by an but they are not biography itself. English queen. To one period, and It is living character, not still life, that the most interesting of her life, which we desire to see delineated : unmixed praise may be given. From the latter is the frame of the picture, the day of her landing in England, but it is not the picture itself. Such her conduct was one of dignity, inno- curious details characteristic, cence, and heroism; and if her generally amusing, often interestprevious life was stained by the ing; but they, in general, do better imputation of having permitted one in foot-notes than in the body of the murder, suggested to herself by des- narrative. We must admit, however, pair, and recommended by others from that Miss Strickland has exhibited profligacy, she expiated it by being equal judgment and skill in the manthe victim of another, suggested by ner in which she has fitted in those jealousy, executed by rancour, and contemporary extracts into the body directly ordered by a cruel relative of the narrative, and the selection and a vindictive rival.
she has made of such as are most If there is any blemish in the very curious and characteristic of the interesting volume, of which our times. By many, we are well aware. limits will only permit a more cursory they will be considered as not the notice than its high merits deserve, least interesting part of her very it is to be found in the too frequent interesting volumes. It is the prinuse of quotations from old authorities ciple of introducing them in the text or original letters in the text, and the that we wish her to reconsider. mosaic-like appearance which is often Unity of composition is not less given to her pages, by the introduction essential to the higher productions of quaint and antiquated expressions of art, in history or biography, tban drawn from contemporary writers in in painting or the drama; and the body of the narrative. We are Miss Strickland writes so powerfully, well aware of the motive which has and paints so beautifully, that we canled to this, and we respect it as it not but often regret when we lose the deserves : it arises from the wish to thread of her flowing narrative, to be accurate and trustworthy, the anx- make way for extracts from a quaint ious desire to make her Lives a faith- annalist, or entries from the accounts ful transcript of the times—to exhibit of a long-forgotten exchequer.
THE LAY OF THE NIEBELUNGEN.
WOLF, the learned German, was character of the POPULAR Epos of certainly very far wrong—as Germans early ages, as distinguished from the in their endless speculations are apt more artificial and curiously-piled to be-when he set himself to explain compositions of more polished times, the Iliad without Homer; an attempt bearing the same name. Wolf was which, to our British ears, generally wrong-say mad, if you please—in assounded pretty much as profane as to serting that Pisistratus, with a whole explain the world without God, or, army of such refurbishers of old wares according to Cicero's simile against the as Onomacritus, could have put toEpicureans, to explain the existence gether such a glowing vital whole as of a book by the mere accidental out- the Iliad ; but he was right, and altotumbling of alphabetic counters on gether sound, when he looked upon the the ground. The Iliad could not have great Epic song of the wrath of Achilles existed without Homer-90 the rude as a thing essentially different, not instinct of the most unlearned and only in degree, but in kind, from the most unmetaphysical English Bull Æneid of Virgil, or the Paradise Lost declared against the cloud-woven of our Milton. Many men of learning theories and the deep.sunk lexico- and taste, from Scaliger downwards, graphical excavations of the famous have instituted large and curious comBerlin professor; and therude instinct, parisons between the great national after much philological sapping and Epos of the Greeks, and that of the mining, stands ground. But Wolf did Romans; but the comparison of things not labour in vain. Though he did that have a radically different characnot take the citadel, he made breaches ter can seldom produce any result into many parts of our classical cir- beyond the mere expression of liking cumvallation, formerly deemed most and disliking; as if, among critics of strong, and made us change, in great trees, one should say, I prefer a bristmeasure, the fashion of our fortifica- ling pine, while another says, Give me tions. In the same manner Niebuhr, the smooth beech. Or, a result even with his knotty club, made sad havoc moreunsatisfactory might be produced. among the waxen images of the old Starting from the beech as a sort of Romans, which the piety of Livy model tree, a forest critic, predetertaking them for genuine granite sta- mined to admire the pine also, might tues—had set forth with such a wealth spin out of his brain a number of subtle of fine patriotic elocution ; but after analogies to prove that a pine, though all this work of destruction, Rome still bearing a different name, is, in fact, remains with its Tiber, and, in the the same tree as a beech, and posminds of most sane persons,
Romulus sesses, when more philosophically conalso, we imagine; while the great sidered, all the essential characteristics Julius shines a kingly star every inch, of this tree. You laugh ?-but so, and as much after Niebuhr's strong brush not otherwise, did it fare with old as before. What, then, was the great Homer, at the hands of many profestruth by virtue of which-as stupid sional philologists and literary dilesermons are redeemed by a good text tantes, who, with a perfect apprecia-Wolf, with his startling anti- tion of such works of polished skill as Homeric gospel, made so many pro- the Æneid and the Jerusalem Delivered selytes, and such fervid apostles, -as being akin to their own modern among the learned and the poetic of taste-must needs apply the same his countrymen ? Plainly this, that test to take cognisance of such he seized with a keen glance, and a strange and far-removed objects as the grand comprehensiveness, the minstrel Iliad and Odyssey. Such transference
The Fall of the Niebelungers ; otherwise the Book of Kriemhild : a translation of the Niebelunge Not, or Niebelungen Lied. By WILLIAM NANSON LETTSOM. London : Williams and Norgate, 1850.
Ueber die Iliade und das Niebelungen Lied. Von KARL ZELL. ' Karlsruhe : 1813.
of the mould that measures one thing literature of Germany: they are geneto another, and an altogether different rally conversant only with the prothing, is indeed a common enough ductions of the day, or, at farthest, trick of our every-day judgments; but with those of the most celebrated it is, nevertheless, a sort of criticism authors.” So, indeed, it must be; altogether barren of any positive re- the necessary business and amusesults, and which ends where it begins ments of life leave but few of us at -in talk. To the character and cer- liberty to follow the example of the tainty of a science, it can assuredly learned Germans, and refuse to look have no claim. If you wish to descant at Helen before we have critically with any beneficial result upon roses, investigated the history of Jove's pray compare one English rose with amours, and of Leda's egg. So much another, and not with a Scotch thistle. the more are we beholden to gentleBring not the fine city dame into con- men like the present translator, who, tact with the brown country girl; but by the patient exercise of those pious let Lady B's complexion be more deli- pains which are the pleasure of poets, cate than Lady C's, and the brown of put us into the condition of being able Bessie be more healthy than that of to hear the notes of that strange old Jessie. Jessie, if you will consider Teutonic lyre prolonged through the the matter, has nothing in common aisles of an English echo-chamber. with Lady B, except this, that she is Mr Lettsom has done a work, much
As little has Homer in wanted for the English lover of common with Virgil, or Tasso, or poetry, honestly and well : this we Milton. With whom, then, is Homer can say from having compared it in to be compared ? A hundred years various places with a prose translation ago, Voltaire, with all his wit, could of the old German poem, published not have answered that question—the at Berlin in 1814 ; * also from the whole age of European criticism of distinct recollection which we have of which Voltaire was the oracle and the the character and tone of the modern god could not have answered it; but German version of Marbach, which we thanks—after the Percy Ballads, and read for the first time several years Cowper, and Wordsworth,
But Mr Lettsom's translation Southey, and Burns—to Frederick bears also internal evidence of its Augustus Wolf, that question we can excellence : there is a quiet simplicity answer now in the simplest and most and easy talkative breadth about it, certain way in the world, by pointing characteristic no less of the general to the famous Spanish Cid, and the genius of the Germans than of the old Teutonic Lay of the NIEBELUN- particular mediæval epoch to which it GEN.
belongs. With a perfect confidence, To the Cid, we may presume that therefore, in the trustworthiness of the those of our readers who love popular present English version, we proceed to poetry, and are not happy enongh to lay before our readers a rapid sketch know the sonorous old Castilian, have of the Epic story of the Niebelungen, been happily introduced by the great accompanied with such extracts as work of Southey. But, with respect may serve to convey an idea of the to the other great popular Epos of general tone and character of the Western Europe, we suspect Mr LETT. composition. Som is only too much in the right At Worms, upon the Rhine, (so when he says, that this venerable the poem opens,) there dwelt three monument of the old German genius is puissant kings-Gunther and Gernot “ so little known amongst us, that and Gieselher— three brothers, of most ordinary readers have not so whom Gunther was the eldest, and, in much as heard of it. Even amongst the right of primogeniture, swayed the numerous and increasing class of those sceptre of Burgundy. These kings who are acquainted with German, had a sister pamed Kriemhild, the real few pay attention to the ancient heroine and fell female Achilles of the
* Das Niebelungen Lied ; in's hoch Deutsche übertragen. Von August ZEUNE. Berlin : 1814.
+ These Burgundians are, in the second part of the poem, also called the NiebeEpos; for though she is as gentle and Achilles, so the most significant desigmild as a Madonna till her love is nation for this mediæval Iliad of the wounded, after that she nourishes a Germans would be the revenge of desire of vengeance on the murderers Kriemhild. After naming these, and of her husband, as insatiate and in- other notable personages of the Burexorable as that which the son of gundian conrt at Worms, the poet Peleus, in the Iliad, nurses against makes use of a dream, as Æschylus the son of Atreus for the rape of in the Agamemnon uses an omen, to the lovely Briseïs. In fact, as the open up, in a fitful glimpse of progreat work of Homer might be phecy, the general burden and fateful more fully designated the wrath of issue of his tale.
“ A dream was dreamed by Kriemhild, the virtuous and the gay,
How a wild young falcon she trained for many a day,
A mate for me! What say'st thou, dearest mother mine?
That single death atoning died many a mother's son.” With these words ends the very two distinct parts or acts—the famous short first canto, or, in the phraseology SIEGFRIED, with the horny hide," of the bard, “ adventure” of the poem. as the old German chap-book has it, The second introduces us to the most which any of our readers may have for prominent male character in the first a groschen or two in Leipzig, and not part of the poem-for it is divided into more, wesuppose, than a sixpence here.
“In Netherland there flourished a prince of lofty kind,
(Whose father hight Siegmund, his mother Siegelind)
Men did call it Xanten ; 'twas famous far and wide." This princely youth, who, like the ing employed his early days, like anSpanish Cid, is perfect even to the cient IIercules and Theseus, in atsmallest hair on his beard, after hav- tacking and overcoming every sort of lungen, which epithet, however, in the first part, is applied to certain distant Scandinavian vassals of Siegfried. The origin of this name has caused much dispute amongst the learned.
terrible monster, in bestial or human “second adventure." Like a dutiful guise, that came in his way, is dubbed son, as well as a fearless knight, he kuight with the stroke of the chival- will accept no royal honours, or rous sword, in due form, and a festival share in the official diguities of governis held in honour of the event, the ment, so as long as his father and description of which occupies the mother live.
“ While Siegelind and Siegmund yet lived and flourished there,
Full little recked their offspring the royal crown to wear.
Won him renown eternal in every foreign strand.” But even the sturdy mail-clad he- other serious occupation, and that, of roes of mediæval knighthood some- course, was love. With the entrance times tired of “battles ;" and when on this new career, the third adventhey were thus aweary, they had one ture is occupied.
“ 'Twas seldom tear or sorrow the warrior's breast assayed ;
At length he heard a rumour how a lovely maid
For her he won much pleasure, but dash'd with toil and care." Siegfried opens his determination this rumour, and take to wife none to his parents to follow the fortune of other than
“ The bright Burgundian maiden, best gem of Gunther's throne,
Whose far-renowned beauty stands unapproached alone." This resolution, of course, as is the youth ; but with a calm and decided fortune of true love, meets with oppo- answer, such as true love knows how sition, at first, from the parents of the to give, the difficulty is overcome.
“ Dearest father mine, The love of high-born women for ever I'll resign
Rather than play the wooer but where my heart is set." Forthwith, therefore, he sets out on where—could not err. To make the an expedition to Worms, predeter- necessary impression on so mighty a mined, after the common fashion of king as Gunther, the Prince of the mediæval love-romances, to marry the Netherland is pranked out most gorwoman whom he had never seen; forgeously with all that woman's needle in these matters, rumour, it was can produce of chivalrous embroidery ; thought—that plays so falsely else- and, thus accoutred,
“On the seventh fair morning, by Worms along the strand,