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FOR 18 5 1.
EDITED BY LOUIS GAYLORD OLARK.
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ART. I. THE NORTHERN SCALDS. From The French: By H. W. Ellsworth,
II. LUCY: A PORTRAIT,
V. FANCIES ON FEMALES. BY A NEW CONTRIBUTOR,
X. A REVERIE. BY A NEW “Ione,'
XV. THE RECLUSE. BY RALPH SEAWULY,
28 32 34
48 49 59 6G 65
LITERARY NOTICES :
1. HISTORY OF THE CONSPIRACY OF PONTIAC. By Francis PARKMAN, JR., 67 2. PARA: OR SCENES AND ADVENTURES ON THE AMAZON,.
70 3. BULWER AND FORBES ON THE WATER TREATMENT, 4. COGGESKALL'S VOYAGES TO VARIOUS PARTS OF THE WORLD, 72 5. WAYSIDE FLOWERS. By Mrs. M. St. Leon Loud, .
1. A VIEW FROM TELEGRAPH HILL, SAN FRANCISCO,
STANZAS 3. DEMPSTER, THE EMINENT Scottish VOCALIST, AT THE Sotti.
INTERED ACCORDINO TO ACT OF CONGRESO, IN TEZ YEAR 1851, BY
SAMUEL EU ESTON,
CLERK'S OTTICE OF TB DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITXD STATES FOR
SOUTEIRX DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
THE Scalds were the bards of the north, who, like the Celtic poets and Grecian rhapsodists, celebrated the history of gods and heroes. Like the composers of the Spanish “romanceros,' they sung of glory and the battlefield As did the Mennisingers, they too indulged in pride of ancestry, and walked by the side of earls and princes. Like Tailefero, the Norman troubadour, and Veit-Weter, the Swiss soldier, they personally mingled in the combats they described, fighting in the front rank of the battle.
The poetry of Scandinavia, like its history, dates from the migration of the Asiatic tribes, and is lost amid obscure tales or fabulous traditions. These tribes, so long called barbarous, exhibited nevertheless great veneration for poetry, which they attributed directly to the gods. They could well exclaim with Ovid :
"Est Deus in nobis, et sunt commencia cæli
Sedibusque ætheris spiritus ille venit.' Their tradition as to the origin of poetry, though abounding in absurdities, is yet strongly characteristic, and deserves a passing notice.
There was formerly a man called Kvaser, who became a god by his wisdom and intelligence. Two dwarfs, jealous of his reputation, slew him; and collecting his blood in a large vase, mingled it with honey. The blood of the sage, thus mixed with the virtue of Howers, became the source of poetry the hipprocras of the Scandinavians. Whoever drank of it was immediately inspired, and capable of producing m. st harmonious tones upon the harp. The giant Sutting obtained this previous treasure, to which he attached a countless price, though he used it not, but gave it to the guardianship of his daughter Gunlæda, whom he shut up in a mountain. Meanwhile Odin, one of the chief gods,* was seized
• ELSEWHERE described as chief of the Scandinavian divinities. VOL. XXXVIII.
with a desire to add to his other attributes the power of poetry. To accomplish this, it was necessary to seduce Sutting, whom neither flattery nor promises could soften, and who, barbarian-like, without enjoying his treasure, kept it closely from all others. Odin quitted his celestial abode, and, like Apollo with Admetus, passed a summer at the home of Sutting, busied with the care of flocks and harvests. He demanded as a recompense a few drops of the poetic honey. These were peremptorily refused, and Odin, in despair of overcoming the obstinacy of the giant, had recourse to stratagem. Changing himself to a serpent, he penetrated the mountain which contained the goblet, and approached Gunlæda, whom he flattered with attentions. The poor Gunlæda, as Eve did also, believed the persuasions of the serpent, and forgot the trust committed by her father. Odin obtained permission to take three draughts from the goblet, and in so doing drained its contents. But he forgot the sweet vows he had murmured to Gunlæda, and leaving the poor girl in tears, flew away as an eagle, to which he had transformed himself
. Sutting, however, was a skilful magician, and discovering the robbery, pursued the ravisher, whom he was about to seize. While Odin was trembling with the fear of paying dearly for his treachery, he was surrounded by the Asers - his celestial companions - presenting a large cup, into which he returned the mixture he had drank; though in the terror caused by Sutting, he suffered a few drops to fall upon the earth.* These constitute the beverage of inferior poets, who have only to embrace the earth for its attainment, while the goblet of the gods is preserved on high, beyond all reach but that of genius and true inspiration. Odin alone distributes from the goblet, and has hence become the god of poetry.t
In the reigns of the three earliest Scandinavian monarchs, we find nothing but incomplete references to the Scalds, and mere fragments of their productions. In the sixth and seventh centuries they occupy a distinct place in history, and from the ninth to the thirteenth follow in regular succession, with ample details as to their names, lives, and compositions. The reign of 'Harald of the Fair Hair' was the golden era of the Scalds. This ambitious monarch, for the purpose of adding more solemnity to his battles and greater glory to his conquests, surrounded himself with poets. He collected the most renowned Scalds at his court, whom he retained by costly presents and attentions, receiving in return their tributes to
power and greatness. His successors manifested similar tastes; and some, as Magnus the Good and Harald Sigurdson, were themselves composers.
The Scalds resisted for a long time the anathemas launched by the first missionaries of Christianity. Olaf the Saint condemned their mythological superstitions, yet regarded it as due to his royal dignity to have numerous Scalds in attendance at his court. It was he who, when going forth to battle, thus addressed them : ‘Place yourselves in the front rank of the army, that you may witness what you must describe, and do not receive the history from others.' Gradually, however, the spirit of Christianity was diffused amid the Northmen, and Scaldic poetry, the
* From respect to poets, the original expression has been somewhat softened. + BRAGA was generally regarded as the god of poetry.