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ON THE SONGS OF THE PEOPLE OF GOTHIC OR TEUTONIC RACE.
All the low German tribes were liam the Conqueror, who gave Engearly distinguished for maritime en- land a new constitution. The Norterprize, but the Danes and Scandi- men, who with almost incredible navians, who all passed by the name fortune and courage wrested from of Northmen, or Normen, were by the Arabs, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, far the most remarkable for bold ad- and for a time, Jerusalem and Anventure in the middle ages. Num- tioch, were adventurers from the berless are the names of the sea Duchy founded by Rolf; and Tankings and heroes, whose deeds are cred, whose descendants at last wore related in the histories and sagas of the crown of Sicily and Apulia, dethe north. It is impossible not to be scended from him. If we were to astonished at the wide extent of the relate all the bold deeds which in space traversed by them. To the pilgrimages, in the service of Coneastward, Rorik, (Roderick) with his stantinople, and in expeditions in brothers, founded a kingdom in No- almost every land and sea, even to vogorod, and thereby laid the foun- Greenland and America, were achievdation of the state of Russia. Os- ed by the Normen, the relation would kold and Dir founded a state in seem a romance. Kiew, which united with that of No- A country, for the most part stevogorod. Ragnwald, who settled at rile and mountainous, with a stern cliPolotzk, on tħe Dwina, was the an- mate, possessing on one side an extent cestor of the grand Dukes of Lithu- of coast from the Elbe to Lapland, of ania. Northwards, Naddod was not less than 1,400 miles in length, thrown in a storm on Iceland, which could hardly fail to be a nursery of became the asylum of the noblest maritime adventurers. It was ruled races of Norway. Westwards the by a number of petty kings, whose auFeroe, Orkney, Shetland, and Wes- thority depended on their success in tern Islands were often visited, and their expeditions. Besides the terripartly peopled by the Normen; and torial chiefs, there were sovereigns, on several of them Northern Jarls who possessed neither country nor (pronounce Yarls) long ruled, so that regular subjects; the sea kings, as the harassed Gaels were not secure, they were called, who, with no even in their remotest corners, from wealth but their ships, no force but German nations. In Ireland they their crews, and no hope but from settled as early as the times of Char- their swords, swarmed in every lemain, when Dublin fell to Olof, ocean, and plundered every coast, Waterford to Sitirk, and Limerick to and whose boast it was, that they Ywar. In England, they made never slept under a smoky roof, and themselves dreaded under the name never quaffed the social cup over a of Danes ; they not only possessed hearth. The youth roved about in Northumberland in common with search of booty for the bride he left Saxon earls, partly independently, at home; the father, for his wife and and partly in fiefs, but all England children. The Normen were true to was subject to them under Canute, one another, and virtuous men in their Harold, and Hardicanute. From the own eyes; for in human nature there is sixth century, they disturbed the generally a wonderful spirit of accomcoasts of France; and the fear of modation in our principles to our conCharlemain, that much danger im- venience. The plundering Normen pended over his country from them, held murder, in the acquisition of their was but too amply justified soon booty, no crime; though they piqued after his death. The devastations themselves on their esteem for wowhich they committed, not merely men, and were the chief founders of along the coasts, but far up the ri- chivalry; just as the Roman murdervers, and in the middle of bothers and robbers of the present day France and Germany, are hardly to pique themselves on their orthodoxy, be credited. Rolf, in baptism called and the fervour of their attachment Robert, the first Duke of Normandy, to their church. We doubt if Chrisbecame the founder of several dy- tianity made the Normen more scrunasties. From him descended Wil- pulous, with regard to the property
of others, than it did our Scotch and What is 't to us that Regnar Lodbrok conEnglish borderers, who received aba quer'd solution one day, and stole cattle the The rude Britannia, that Biörn Ironside next.
Exclaim'd with Hasting, when they over-ran The Normen settled the matter Proud France, and Paris burned, Now let with their conscience, on the terms of the following low German adage:
To Ronie, and we will conquer there as
here?' Ruten, roven dat en is ghein Schande That Rolf has founded Normandy; that Dat doynt die besten van dem Lande,
Biörn which means that robbing and de- Constantinople's suburbs fired ? What is 't vastating were no shame, as they That in Italia, Luna was unconquer'd, were practised by the best in the And that the proudest Spanish cities oft land.
By us were plundered ? that Orvarodd
With Danish warriors founded Russia's But these times are gone; the seas are now covered by a very different That even in distant Africa the negro
might? sort of vessels from the Snekkes Has blenched with fear, when swords of which issued from the friths and Northmen clang'd ? bays of Norway and Denmark; and we have, in our time, seen Denmark
From the adventurous character in turn plundered by the descend
so long possessed by the Northmen, ants of those who were among the
we might naturally expect to find greatest sufferers from her devasta- copious recollections of their deeds tions. The old Normen might ex- among their descendants. From the claim with Palnatoke, in Oehlen- unmixed character too of the populaschlager:
tion, which is the most purely Teu
tonic of any in Europe, we are On our power at sea Our real strength is founded ; for the Dane if any where, the genuine songs, mu
warranted in expecting to find here, Is truly like a sea-fowl; Aegir * is His kind divinity, and Ocean's daughters
sic, and superstitions peculiar to the On foam-clad billows sweetly sing his praise that Denmark and Scandinavia are
Teutonic race. Accordingly, we find On every strand. This is the destiny Which God allotted him, and as imperish- not only richer than any of the other able
Germanic countries, in ballads of adAs nature's self is the proud gift, received venture of all descriptions, from the By him from the Almighty. What, al- vague traditions of a dark antiquity, though
to the achievements of the chival. His Snekkes may now and then be stolen
rous ages, and even to those of the from him, Or burnt? the oak grows in his woods, and the Twelfth; but that the superna
comparatively recent age of Charles iron Gleams in his mountains : and his arm and tural beings of our forefathers, by
whom every sea, every stream, every Can always build him more. Our isles are
fountain, hill, and forest, were peo
pled, exist only here in all the puBy the Eternal's hand within the depth rity and definitiveness of their attriOf ocean, that the keel may always find butes, occupying a place in song Its element with ease.
proportioned to their importance; But the event to which we have and that the genuine music of the alluded was calculated to suggest race, which has been almost exmuch less consolatory reflections. pelled from Scotland by the more Well might the same poet, contrast- animated and heart-rending strains ing the ancient consequence with the of the Celts, and of which traces recent humiliation of his native coun. only exist in England, in a few old try, exclaim:
ballad airs, fortunately preserved Though every where
from oblivion, yet lives in all its By Danish heroes Europe's thrones are
freshness among the peasantry of filled ;
Scandinavia.--These circumstances Yet now must Denmark tremble for her. will, we hope, justify us in entering self.
at some length into an account of
* Aegir, in the northern mythology, the husband of Ran, one of the names for the cheap,
the ballads of Denmark and Scan- class, called the Tournament, brings dinavia.
together most of the personages The first class, to which the title who figure in the series, and deformerly given to the earliest pub- scribes the bearings on their shields, lication of Danish ballads, namely, an important matter in former times, Kiæmpe-Viser (ballads of giants and to which reference is often afterwards warriors), ought properly to be con- made. The following extract from fined, comprehends ballads relating the commencement of this ballad, to the ancient mythical times. Of which is of great length, may serve this class, the Danes have several, to give some idea of its nature: the Swedes have only one, the ballad of Grimborg. The subjects of them There were seven and seven times twenty, are the combats and adventures of And when they came to Brattingsborg
Who from the hall outwent, giants or heroes of extraordinary
There pitched they their tent. strength and courage. Most of these It thunders 'neath their horses as the Daheroes either belonged to the court
nish warriors ride. of the celebrated Dideric or Theo
King Nilus stands on his castle wall, doric, King of the Ostrogoths, or
Whence he sees both far and wide were in some mariner connected with
Why hold these warriors their lives so it. His residence is called Bern, (supposed Verona). The splendour
That they long my strength to bide ? " of this court, in the representations It thunders 'neath their horses &c. of the northern bards, hardly yields Hear thou Sivard Snarenswend to that of Charlemain and his twelve
Thou hast roved far and wide, peers, or of King Arthur and his Thou shalt see these warriors' bearings, round table. This class has all the To the tent go quickly ride. marks of a very remote age. The It was Sivard Snarenswend style is not merely simple, it may To the tent he hied amain ; be called rude. There is a great You are welcome here, my noble Sirs, confusion throughout with respect to Ye King of Danes's men. places and times; and a number of
I famous heroes, who lived in very
pray you take it not amiss,
Nor angry be with medifferent ages, are often brought to- But if with you the combat we try, gether without much ceremony. Your bearings I first must see.
All traces of the traditions re- Upon the first shield doth appear specting these characters are nearly
A lion large and stronglost in England. One of the most With a crown also of yellow gold, important of them, however, is said To King Diderick it doth belong. in the new novel of Kenilworth, Upon the second shield appears on the authority of Gough, still to
A hammer large and tongs, live in the traditions of Berkshire, It is borne by Vidrick Verlandson, namely Weyland, the smith, to whom Who quarter giveth none. the great novelist_has assigned so
Upon the third shield doth appear
Upon the fourth shield doth appear
An eagle, and it is red,
It is borne by Olger, the Dane,
Who leaves aye his foemen dead.
Amidst all the rudeness of this
class of ballads, they often display
much energy and greatness of conIn the minstrelsy of the Scotch ception. Take as an instance a pasborder, and Mr. Ellis's specimens of sage in the Danish ballad of Berner early English Romances, may also be the giant, and Orm Ungerswend, found some account of him; and the where a youth goes to his father's latter has a curious Latin quotation grave, to wake him from the dead, on the subject, from Geoffrey's Vita in order to obtain his sword from him Merlini.
to combat the giant; who, in the The first Danish ballad of this outset, is thus described :
It was Berner the great giant,
“ Thou silver and gold did'st give to me, He rose over walls the most high;
I esteem it of no worth,
But I will have Birting,
It is so good a sword.”
“ Thou shalt not get from me Birting, He was so mad and furious
To win so fair a maid,
Till thou hast been in Ireland
To revenge thy father's death.”
" Come, quickly give me Birting up, But the wood &c.
'T will be full well with me,
The hill which is over thee." the promise of the daughter of the King of Denmark, challenged this “ Then reach thou down thy right hand monster,
Take Birting from my side ; Berner, the high giant,
But break'st thou the hill which is over me, Who looked over his shoulder to see :
Grief and sorrow shall thee betide." " Whence cometh then this little mouse, Who dare speak such words to me?” It was common in the north, that
the things which in life were held by Orm Ungerswend proceeds with- a man in the highest estimation, out delay to the hill, in which he should accompany hiin to the tomb. says “ his father dwells with all.” The sort of visit which Orm Unger
swend bere pays is a frequent ocIt was late in the evening,
currence in the sagas ; and every The sun it goeth low,
reader must remember the similar Then longeth Orm Ungerswend To his father to go.
dialogue between Hervor and An
gantyr, derived by Mr. Gray from It was late in the evening tide,
the Norse poetry. When swains to water horses take,
The recommendation of the folThen longeth Orm Ungerswend
lowing ballad, called " The Death His father froin sleep to wake.
of Sivard Snarenswend,” is its breIt was Orm Ungerswend,
vity, which allows us, without, we He struck so hard on the hill,
hope, drawing too much on the patiIt was, indeed, great wonder
ence of our readers, to give it entire: That falling it did not him kill.
Sivard, he slew his step-father It was Orm Ungerswend,
All for his mother's sake, He struck the hill with such art,
And now he longs to court to ride, That it opened with the walls and marble To try his fortune to make. stones,
So cunningly runs Greyman under Sivard. Which were in its lowest part.
It was Sivard Snarenswend,
Whether he should ride from her, “ Who calls me from my dark abode
Or whether on foot he should go. Unto the light of day?
So cunningly, &c. 66 Who waketh me so early
“ Thou shalt not go on foot from me, And makes me so to moan,
If the horse only bear thee can, Why can I not remain in peace
I shall to thee give the good horse, All under the hard stone ?
The courtiers call Greyman.”
So cunningly runs, &c. “ Who dareth thus my hill to break, Who dares to face mine eye ?
They led Greyman from the stable out, Truly I must tell to him,
All gilt his bridle shone ; He shall by Birting die.”
His eyes they gleam'd like sparkling stars,
And the fire flew from his mane. “ I am Orm Ungerswend,
Sivard then his gloves threw off, Thy youngest son, father dear!
His hands they were so white,
Himself he girded his good horse,
She was clad in Kirtle red;
“ Sivard ! it is my strongest fear As much as thou would'st have."
That the horse will be thy dede."
And she followed him long as out he went, The ballads of this class are someFor high her fear now rose :
times varied in a whimsical enough « And take care of Greyman, thy horse manner, by the propounding and anSo many tricks he knows."
swering of riddles, an exercise of “ Now hear ye then, my mother dear, ingenuity in which our forefathers Ye need not be so afraid,
took great delight, and which has In me you have a nimble son
also found its way into their songs. Who well his horse can ride.".
In a large volume of ballads, in Greyman, he started from the gate,
black letter, of the latter part of And sprung o'er bridge and flood, Charles the Second's reign, preserved And however firm in the saddle he sat, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, His boots were filled with blood.
there is one called “ the Noble RidThe horse he ran through the wide Downs, dle wisely expounded, or the Maid's Where the people were met in Ting, *
Answer to the Knights their QuesThe people in Ting astounded stood, tions,” beginning, To see a horse so spring.
There was a lady of the north country, For fifteen days and fifteen nights,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom; Over hill and dale he ran,
And she had lovely daughters three, Till he came before a lofty house,
Fa la la la, fa la la la, ra re. The doors were lock'd each one.
One of the daughters, after some King Dan he stood on the highest tower, endearments had passed between her Where he sees both far and wide,
and a young knight, asks him to “ Here see I a drunken courtier, Who well his horse can ride.
The brave young Knight to her replied, &c. " It is either a drunken courtier
“ Thy suit, fair maid, shall not be denied, Who well can ride I ween;
&c. Or it is Sivard, my sister's son,
If thou can'st answer me questions three, And in combat he has been.”
This very day will I marry thee.” Greyman, he took the bits in his teeth,
“ Kind Sir, in love, O then quoth she, O'er the outer wall he flew;
Tell me what your questions be?". 1 The ladies and maidens were sore dismayed “O what is longer than the way ?
Who happened this leap to view. Or what is deeper than the sea ? The ladies and beautiful maidens look'd Or what is louder than the horn ?
Or what is sharper than a thorn ? pale, All under their scarlet so fine :
Or what is greener than the grass ? King Dan he goes so gladly
Or what is worse than a woman was?” To welcome his sister's son in.
“ O love is longer than the way, And it was the King of the Danes,
And hell is deeper than the sea;
And thunder is louder than the horn, And straightway then he said, “ Go tell from me the archers good
And hunger is sharper than a thorn ; The gate to open wide."
And poison is greener than the grass,
And the devil is worse than woman was." It was Sivard Snarenswend, He rode in with all his might;
When she these questions answered had, And thirteen of the waiting maids,
The Knight became exceeding glad. They fainted at the sight.
The following passage from the The King, he said unto his men,
Danish ballad of Child Bonved, is « Treat Sivard I pray with care,
quite in the style of the above, For I must frankly tell to you
though less polished: No jesting will he bear."
Child Bonved binds his sword by his side, It was Sivard Snarenswend,
Still longing farther on to ride, He allowed his horse to spring
And he rode till he came to a mountain Full fifteen ells o'er the highest wall,
high, And so he came to his end.
Where a shepherd with his sheep came by. Sivard was cut by the saddle bow, “ Now hear thee shepherd, tell to me, And Greyman's back in twain ;
Whose are the sheep thou hast with thee ? And all in the palace, who saw him, cried, What is than a wheel more round ? And none were glad or fain,
And where is the best yool-drink to be So sorrowfully ran Greyman under Sivard. found ?
* Ting, a court or assembly, as Stor-Ting (great court), the name of the parliament of Norway.