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guise of the old cloak, which is afterwards still more explicitly identified with the Tarncap—the encountering the contending guardians of the treasure, which he is called in to divide the articles forming that treasure—the wonderful sword Balmung—the boots which, as the Quarterly Reviewer observes, “were once worn by Loke when he escaped from Valhalla”-the wishing ring (or rod)—are all points agreeing (and many of them with striking exactness) with the tale to be made out partly from the Wilkina Saga and other Scandinavian sources, and partly from the Niebelungen Lied. M. M. Grimm find considerable resemblance too in the king's matrimonial infelicities to those of the ancient hero.
The learned editors speak with the utmost confidence of the pure German original of the tales collected by them from oral tradition. Indeed their opinion is strongly supported by their circulation, not among classes of society likely to have received the gay tales of southern minstrels or crúsaders, but among the peaceful peasantry of the North and the remote shores of the Baltic, and by their striking coincidence with the most undoubted northern traditions, and with the stories popular among the parallel classes of Danish, Scotch, and English society. Yet what shall we think of the Paderborn tale of the “ Geist im Glas,” “ The Spirit in the Bottle,” which so minutely agrees in many respects with the Arabian tale of the Genius confined by Solomon's seal in the casket and drawn up by the fisherman ? Even here, however, M. M. Grimm point out a connexion with another tale of very northern aspect, exhibiting something which is at any rate exceedingly like Thor's Hammer.
Not the least interesting in the collection are the beast stories, those in which aniinals support the principal characters. These are equally, perhaps more, venerable in their origin than the fairy and heroic tales, and certainly there is full as much difficulty in accounting for so wide and early a diffusion. None of the channels by which the Æsopean fables or those of purer Eastern, whether Persian or Indian, origin, found their way into Europe during the middle ages, can be pointed out as at all probable sources of such stories as those before us.
Are not all these fables remnants of some great mass of amusing moral instruction, which has at the remotest periods and in all countries found its way for the edification of man, flowing from some fountain-head of wisdom, whence Calmuck, Russian, Celt, Scandinavian and German, in their various ramifications, have imbibed their earliest and simplest lessons of improvement ? To confine their origin or introduction to modern times or particular countries, may be as unprofitable as the labours of old Hearne to fix the birth and burial of Hickathrif or 'Tom Thumb. If we are for an Oriental hypothesis of the origin of such fairy fictions, it would be on a broader scale, and we should fancy we saw them after a pilgrimage from the Caucasus and a long sojourn in the wintry climes of the North, meeting in their progress to the South a new arrival, by another channel, of similar materials, whose fortune it had been to make a longer residence in the land of their birth, and to be perhaps more ripened in the luxuriance of Asia.
M. M. Grimm's idea of the utility of these tales in explaining or preserving some supposed "pure and primitive Mythology of the Teutons, which had been thought to be for ever lost," seems, however, rather a questionable position. They quote Sir Walter Scott's remarks in his notes to the Lady of the Lake: “A work of great interest might be compiled upon the origin of popular fiction, and the transmission of similar tales from age to age, and from country to country. The mythology of one period would then appear to pass into the romance of the next century, and that into the nursery-tales of the subsequent ages.” With ali deference, every new light on Northern romance (or mythology, if we are so to call it) seems to give a different order to the process. If there once were “a pure and primitive mythology” of the German tribes, it seems to us to have been most probably one far above the poetic vagaries to which these stories have relation. In them, and in the other members of the Northern Cyclus of Scandinavian or Teutonic romance, the process seems every where to begin with the poetic elevation of popular heroes, and thence in due course to their mythological enrolment. How far the ancient Germans went in building up a system like that which was erected out of the same materials by Scandinavian fancy seems very doubtful. But even if it should be true that the same process took place in both countries, we very much hesitate in believing that this poetic creation was ever a popular mythology, or any thing approaching to a system of current belief. Almost all the striking coincidences pointed out by M. M. Grimm in their tales, are, with the heroes of the Teutonic Cyclus of romance, the adventures of Siegfried, Brynhild, &c.; but all this will hardly be said to throw light, except negatively, on the “pure and primitive mythology” of the German tribes. As far as any thing like religious principles are concerned, the only great and leading ones that we perceive, are those of a constant recognition of a city of Glory, the reward of the virtuous and brave, and the conflict of good and evil spirits perpetually warring, but always with superiority to the former; and these point to a sufficiently remote and primitive origin.
Independently, however, of any testimony of this sort, M. M. Grimm's tales are certainly, of great literary curiosity and value, and furnish strong additional evidence that the tales of northern enterprise, which the poets of the Minnesinger age put into a new dress, were no new inventions, but of ancient popular currency.
In corroboration of the Editor's belief in the antiquity and Teutonic origin of most of their stories, it may be observed that though strongly resembling many of those which are to be found even in southern countries, they generally bear a deeper and more religious character, a more antique cast, than is to be seen under the gayer dress which has been elsewhere thrown around them. The story of Cinderella, or, as the Germans call her, “ Aschen-puttel,” is an instance of this. The introduction of the spirit of a deceased friend or parent watching over a destitute survivor, and hovering around in the form of a bird, is common to many of the stories.
The northern tale opens with Aschen-puttel's receiving the blessing of her dying mother, and her promise to look down from heaven upon, and watch over her, if she continue to deserve it. The child goes every day to weep over her mother's grave. The snow falls and covers it; but the sun comes again; and when the green sod once more appears, her father takes another wife., Two other daughters are born who put their sister to the most menial offices, from which, of course, she has her name.
The father sets out upon a journey, and asks his daughters what gifts he shall bring them on his return. The younger daughters ask for fine clothes and jewels, while Aschen-puttel desires only the first twig that crosses him on his return. The several presents are duly brought, and Aschen-puttel takes her's with her while performing her daily task of mourning at her mother's grave. There she plants her twig, and waters it with her tears, till it grows to a beautiful tree. Two white doves take up their abode in its branches, and become her friends and protectors. The king's feast comes. The two younger
for it, and when Aschen-puttel also desires to go, her step-mother sets her an apparently endless task of picking up a measure of scattered seeds. The maiden goes to the garden, and cries to her favourite birds, who bring assistance that quickly completes the task. The same friendly aid provides her splendid apparel. The ball-scene follows, and after it the escape of Aschen-puttel. The visit is repeated, and the prince is opposed in his pursuit by a tree, which suddenly rises (like Jack's bean-stalk), and waves its lofty branches to impede his progress. At the third night the golden slipper is left behind, and the prince determines to make the wearer his bride.
The two younger sisters, by rather a barbarous contrivance of their mother, successively manage to get the slipper on, but are discovered by the warning song of the doves from their tree. At length the true owner is discovered. The doves congratulate the royal pair with a passing song, and accompany their protegée to the palace, the one seated on her right, the other on her left shoulder.
Bluebeard is a story well known in almost every country: the confiding of the keys under injunctions against the use of some one in particular, frequently occurs in the German tales. The cry of the lady to her brothers has here a supernatural power, and is heard by them as they sit afar off " drinking the cool wine.” A similar plot occurs in the fine old German ballad of “Ulrich and Annie,” translated by Mr. Jamieson, in the “Illustrations of Northern Antiquities.”
“It's out rade Ulrich to tak the air,
Till they a green meadow cam upon." She finds she is to be sacrificed to the same fate as several predecessors had suffered, and only craves leave to “cry three cries.”
“And the thirden cry she cried sae shrill,
But poor Annie suffers, though justice overtakes her faithless lover;
It's deep in the greaf dear Annie was laid;
O'er Ulrich croak'd the ravens young. In another story, “ The Jew in the bush,” the connexion is with the old English ballad of “ The Frere and the Boy," which was first “imprynted by Wynkyn de Worde,” and republished by Ritson. It turns upon the ancient legend of the dance-inspiring pipe, horn, or fiddle.
A youth having bestowed all he had upon a dwarfish imp in charity, receives from himn in return a wonderful bow, and a fiddle, that inspires a dancing mania in all who hear it. He tries the bow by shooting a bird, and selects an old Jew on whom to try the fiddle, by sending him to pick the bird out of the bush into which it had fallen, and then commencing his tune. The poor Jew's dancing faculties are thus put in requisition in a most inconvenient position for their exercise, and the unfortunate wretch is almost torn to pieces by the
penance, from which he is only released on payment of a heavy price. The judge is complained to, the urchin brought for trial, and sentence pronounced. As a last request he begs for leave to play a jig on bis way to execution; which, being thought reasonable, is granted, under protest from the Jew, who takes care to bave himself tied to a post. The consequences are easily foreseen: Judge, Court, audience, and finally the whole crowd, join in the dance. The Jew breaks his precautionary bonds, and all are finally glad to release a troublesome prisoner.
The English ballad sends forth the hero, “ a sturdy ladde,” to tend his father's cattle, where he relieves an old man's hunger, and receives in return, first,
Byrdes for to shute;
All that may the pype here,
But laugh and lepe aboute. The third gift (which it is not meet we should here detail) was for the special annoyance of the lad's stepmother. The Frere undertakes the urchin's discipline, but is, like the Jew, inveigled into the bush;
He hopped wondrous hye,
That I am like to dye. For his pranks Jack is taken before the “Offycyall," who is incredulous, and requires evidence of his powers. "He soon, however, hears enough, and
Cryed unto the chylde
To pype no more within this place. The introductory essays of M. M. Grimm show many coincidences in the traditions, songs, and diversions of German children, with those which still keep their ground among us. We were pleased to see Robin Readbreast preserve his friendly relations towards man. His kind offices towards “the Babes in the Wood,” is explained by the German tradition that this little bird cannot endure the sight of a corpse, but immediately hastens to provide it with the simple covering within its reach. Many coincidences in the songs of the two countries might be pointed out: we will merely give as a specimen the pretty little address to the Lady-bird (Marien-wurmchen), of which we have in England preserved only the second verse. The whole ditty may be thus translated.
Lady-bird! Lady-bird! pretty one, stay,
With me shall no mischief betide thee;
Those beautiful winglets beside thee.
List! list! to their cry and bewailing!
Hark! hark! to thy children's bewailing!
With them shall no peril attend thee ;
They'll love thee and ever befriend thee. As we must deny ourselves the gratification of giving one of the beautiful beast stories, which, with their good-natured frolic honesty, are in the highest degree entertaining and edifying, we can only assure our young readers that they lose a great treat, many choice “ passages” in the careers of their friends the wolf and the fox; and that the loss of such recreation is no way compensated by the 'substitute offered, we observe, at the corner of St. Paul's Church-yard, in “ The Adventures of Cato, a Dog of sentiment."
TO A LADY WHO SAID SHE WAS UNHAPPY.
“ Inter spem, curamque, timores inter et iras,
Grata superveniet, quæ non sperabítur hora.
Must ne'er like sinful souls be sad :
And wo should only wound the bad.
Her seal upon so sweet a brow ?
So bright, so pure a saint as thou?
That leads us onward to the tomb ;
Where only roses seem'd to bloom.
Is but the darkness of a day;
Rolls with the tide of time away.