Open main menu

A survey of Danish literature part 3


BY Mrs. Bushby. PART III

In reviewing the literature of Denmark, one is surprised to see, not so few, but so many authors — many, when the limited size of the country and extent of the population be taken into consideration. It must be remembered that the Danish language is not much known, and that it is spoken and read only by the inhabitants of Denmark Proper, its de­pendencies, and a portion of its colonists in the East and West Indies; yet it can boast of more writers than countries of an equal or larger size —than Holland, Italy, Spain, or Portugal. To compare the amount of its literature with the amount of the literature of Germany, France, or England, would be unfair and ridiculous; for the German language is that of a large, portion of Europe, the French is almost a universal language wherever civilisation extends, and English is the mother-tongue of half the globe. It is surprising, therefore, that Denmark has so extensive and really so good a literature. This is still more to be wondered at, as the Danes are such excellent linguists thai the literary stores of other nations are within their easy reach; and, moreover, as such numbers of the best works among the dead, and of the most popular among the living lan­guages to have been translated into Danish. It is amusing to see, in the catalogues of the fashionable circulating libraries of Copenhagen, the names of numerous English novels and romances, some of them looking rather odd in their foreign nomenclature — "Sidder Peveril paa Hoien," which stands for " Peveril of the Peak"; " En Fortælling om Montrose" —literally, " A Tale about Montrose ;" " Snarleyyaw, eller den djaevelske Hund" ("The Devilish Dog") — Marryat's "Snarleyow, or, The Dog-Fiend." But the Danes do not translate the titles of English works so absurdly as the French sometimes do, and frequently they abide by the originals. Most of the novels of Lady Blessington, Lady C. Bury, Lady Morgan, Mrs. Trollope, and Miss Edgeworth, have been translated into Danish.;, and many of Bulwer's, Dickens's, James's, Har­rison Ainsworth's, Marryat's, Grattan's, dec., are also popular in Den­mark. All Walter Scott's, of course, are well known there. In nut, the popularity of foreign authors—English, French, German, and Italian — rather interferes with the sale of original Danish works.

In resuming this slight survey of Danish literature, those authors must be mentioned first who stand, as it were, on the thresholds of two cen­turies, belonging both to the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Knud Lyne Rahbek is one of those; he was born in Copenhagen in 1760, and died there in 1830. Professor Rahbek was an untiring labourer in the fields of literature. His mind was early imbued with a love of reading, which was cultivated by skilful private tuition during his childhood. At twelve years of age he was sent to the excellent academy of Herlufsholm, in the south.of Zealand, and he afterwards took honours at the university. He vmsicelehxaied for his compilations as Well as his compositions — the former, probably, being the most valuable. He stood high as a critic and a reviewer, and was the principal editor of a clever periodical entitled The Minerva, and another called The Danish Spectator. He was the editor of his friend Samsoe's works, and of some of Holberg's; and he published editions of Wessel's, Thaarup's, Pram's works, and those of other writers. Between the years 1812 and 1814, Professor Rahbek published, in conjunction with Nyerup, a new edition of the old Kiaemepeviser—national songs and ballads—which, as has been related, were first collected by Vedel in the sixteenth century. He was celebrated as a good translator, both from the French and the German. He wrote for the stage, and was the author of several poems and prose works, which are held in much esteem in the north; among the latter may be men­tioned his "Erindringer," Reminiscences'*—in five volumes. These did not appear all at once, but in parts, between the years 1824 and 1829, and they abound in lively descriptions of the many scenes he had visited —for Rahbek had travelled a great deal — of the stirring times through which he had lived, and of the various celebrated individuals whom he had known, or with whom he had come in contact. He published a little work on " Style;" a sort of guide to composition, with examples from the best authors, and a collection of extracts from their works, which he modestly called "A Danish Reading Book." Rahbek was a man of a most amiable private character—liberal, hospitable, and kindhearted; and he and his accomplished wife drew around them a brilliant circle at their country-house near Copenhagen. In the literary firma­ment, Rahbek can neither be called a blazing meteor, or a star of the first magnitude; but he was a shining and a steady light—always visible, until fate extinguished his useful career.

Leven C. Sander, born in 1756, who died in 1819, was a professor at the University of Copenhagen, and an author of various works on rhetoric and elocution; also of a favourite tragedy called "Niels Ebbesen," and some other dramas.

C. J. Boye, a pleasing writer, is principally known by his religious Poetry; and religious poems, as all versifiers are aware, are the most ifficult to write well. The following elegy, written amidst the ruins of a monastery, may give a tolerable specimen of this author's style:
Already in the wave
Hath Phoebus quenched his light, And from yon azure vault
Is Hesper beaming bright.
Whilst night, majestic, soars
Upon its dusky wings, And from Death's distant home,
In silence, darkness brings—
The pale stars shine afar,
While my lone footsteps tread
Where yonder ancient oaks Their sombre shadows spread.
Beneath their solemn shade
Behold yon ruins grey! There the dark bird of night
Hides from the glare of day,
How to my fancy rise Scenes of departed years;
Of times long past—alas! My gaze is checked by tears.
For where now silence reigns These gloomy walls among,
In days gone by arose The sound of holy song.
Now, in confusion heaped, But mossy stones appear;
Yet there, the chancel stood— The lofty altar, here!
Where, wearied with the pains
Of life, so many knelt, And prayed for peace, which ne'er
'Midst the world's strife is felt.
Where hearts were lifted up j The best, the brightest fade
From earth's low grovelling thought,! Unto the shadowy land.
And wrapt iu pious zeal, ! So must earth's children pass-
Heaven's promised blessings sought, j Dust become dust again—
Oh! all is vanished now— As, swept by autumn winds,
No chant is heard to swell; | Leaves thickly strew the* plain.
'Midst yon deserted wood yet look b d the loom
Peals now no vesper bell. , That shrouds the grave in night j
The long grass waves above , Eternity is there— Christ's servants' humble grave ; A glorious land of light!
While roars the storm of night And Ho ,g 1|c form
O'er ocean s darkened wave. | The radiant ^ showg
So must all earthly things Which leads to endless bliss,
Yield to Time's withering hand ; From the tomb's dark repose!
There is something soothing, though sad, in these lines ; and certainly they call up quite a picture before the eyes of a person of the least ima­gination. One can fancy one sees the grey ruins—the gloomy wood—the " mossy stones," and hears the night-breeze sighing around, and the rest­less murmur of the waves.

This song, from a lyrical drama of Boye's, entitled " Elisa; or, Friend­ship and Love," may be acceptable to English readers on account of its subject—a battle in the Holy Land by the Crusaders under Richard Cceur de Lion:
With gory steps and startling yell, The desert's tiger—known so well—
'Midst the good shepherd's fold Seeks for his prey—intent on blood : But ne'er in strife hath he withstood
Britannia's Lion bold.
With courage high, and sword in hand, By Lebanon his warriors stand,
Beneath the moon's pale rays. The Cross before the Crescent flies! The moon is shrouded in the skies,
Not on such flight to gaze.
King Richard marks the havoc made, And hastens from the forest's shade
With Britain's squadrons brave ; For battle ever did he long— His mail-clad breast, his spear, were strong
As rocks that stem the wave.
Plume's floated o'er his helmet high, Like lightning glanced his fiery eye,
As proudly on he rode. His wrath, in its tempestuous might Was like the angry storms of night
Burst from their dark abode.
'Midst clash of arms, and trumpet's din-Where fought the haughty Saladin—
Far o'er the battle-field A voice was heard, like thunder loud, " On! soldiers—of your cause be proud,
The Cross must never yield."
With fury raged the combat then,
The moon from clouds broke forth again
To light that struggle brief. It beamed soon o'er the conqueror's way— The hero of full many a lay—
The Lion-hearted chief.
These lines are a close translation, and there is surely, to say the least, a good deal of spirit in them. But none of Boye's poetry is heavy.

Peter Foersom, the son of a clergyman at Ribe, in South Jutland, who was born in 1778, and died in 1817, takes his place among Danish writers, not so much as an author as a translator. He translated Thom­son's " Seasons," and the greater number of Shakspeare's plays, begin­ning with "Hamlet." He did not live to finish them all, and the work was continued and completed by Commander P. F. Wulff, a great patron of literature and literary people. Foersom was an actor, and him­self performed the parts of some of Shakspeare's heroes. It is a remark­able fact that most of the writers on general literature in Denmark were connected with the theatres*—were directors, managers, inspectors, trea­surers, or actors ; if not always, at any rate at some period of their lives. In England, the Bar supplies the greater proportion of what may be called working literary men—reviewers, magazine writers, newspaper writers, novel writers, dramatic writers, &c.

We now come to Jens Baggesen, an author of whom the Danes are very proud. The consideration in which he was held may best be shown by quoting the opinion of one of his countrymen—translating it of course : " Not only was he himself a most interesting person, but his numerous works, often classical, were always attractive; his poetic talents were extraordinary; and his literary undertakings extensive. At the close of the last century he stood pre-eminently the first, and will always be deemed one of the most gifted, original, and national poets that Denmark ever produced."

Baggesen was born at Korsør, in 1764. His parents were indigent, and unable to give him early advantages of education; but he learned to read and write, and in his twelfth year obtained the situation of under-clerk to the collector of taxes. His handwriting improved so much, that he was admitted into a private school, on the condition of becoming writing-master to his schoolfellows. From thence he went to a Latin school; but, not to follow him through the course of has education, it is sufficient to say that he published his first work, "Comic Tales," in 1785; and shortly after some elegiac and lyrical poems. In 1789 he wrote an opera called "Holger Danske" — "Holger the Dane;" a favourite subject and title with Danish authors, who all seem to delight in the tale of magic of which Holger Danske—the champion of Denmark—is the hero. But Baggesen's " Holger" was assailed by ridicule, and caricatured in a parody written by the witty P. A. Heiberg, and entitled "Holger Tydske" — "Holger the German. It was while smarting under this unmerited attack, that Baggesen obtained the patronage of the Duke of Augustenburg, and, through his influence, the means of travelling abroad. He travelled through Germany, France, and Switzerland, where, poor as he was, he married; and these travels he published in a prose work, which he called "The Labyrinth." A short extract from the account of his arrival at Worms, on the Rhine, may be interesting to some readers:

" Traversing a pleasant road at the foot of sloping hills on the right hand, and by the margin of the majestic ever-flowing Rhine, in sight of fertile flowery fields, vineyards, many-tinted groves of nut-trees, and smiling gardens, we approached about mid-day the old imperial city. I could not help feeling deeper interest as I gazed on its venerable roofs than I had ever experienced on visiting any other place. The spirit of Luther seemed to hover over me! ... » We went straight to the time-hallowed spot where the intrepid Luther appeared at the Diet, in-1521, before Charles V. * Here he stood!' we exclaimed; and, over-owered by the exciting remembrance, we sank upon our knees. Yes, ere stood, at that time, Europe's single worthy representative, with the fate of centuries on his Atlas shoulders! He felt that the freedom—the spiritual light—the happiness of numerous races, would fail if he were to give way, and he stood immovable as a rock amidst the wildest storms— a second, but more steadfast, Peter! How quailed Lynilderi's Son* before his lofty energy! With a countenance radiant in light from heaven, high towered his noble head'above all the startled concourse there: the dagger fell from the trembling hand of the assassin; the poisoned chalice burst, symbolical of the overthrow of Papacy, and the scattering of the clouds of darkness!"

After many wanderings, Baggesen returned to settle in Copenhagen in 1798, bringing with him a second wife, whom he had married at Paris, not long after the death of the first one. He was appointed director of the theatre; but soon became tired of a stationary life, and left Zealand for the continent. He published in German as well as in Danish; but so numerous were his writings, that it will be sufficient to say his Danish works alone fill twelve volumes, in an edition published by his son. Baggesen was truly an erratic genius; as both his writings and his life evinced: brilliant, sensitive, and peevish, he had great talents, but he wanted perseverance and ballast. It is manifestly impossible here to give any adequate specimen of Baggesen's writings; therefore we shall only take a few verses from one of his early productions—" Holger Danske "—and some lines written at a later period of his life, which are much admired by the Danes :

'Twas the midnight hour, and spectres danced
Bound Urian $ While hill and dale, and forest glanced
As lightning ran.
Round Urian loudly thunders roar
Amidst the night; Then all became dark, as before
Blazed yonder light.
But brave Sir Oller still onwards pressed
Towards the wood; He spurred—no fear his soul possessed—
His charger good.

  • So Cervantes calls Charles V.

The spectres advancing danced around
His startled steed; Which, snorting, stood as if nailed to the ground,
A trembling reed.
From his horse, Sir Oiler in haste sprang down,
His foot it slipped; In a pool of blood, he marked with a frown,
His foot had dipped.
Round Urian thunder rolls again,
Red lightnings glare, And all o'er which Oller's eyeballs strain
Is blazing there.
Amidst the flames a bloody band
Sir Oiler sees; Madly he rushes on, sword in hand,
To combat these.
But Urian cries in a scornful tone.
" Ha! wouldst thou dare ?" And the knight.and his steed are turned to stone,
Ever to stand there!

The other lines are part of a poem addressed to his fatherland :

Thou spot! where, called by the Almighty's will, From nothingness I rose, to meet the strife
Of this dark world, its lengthened hours of ill,— And still, oh God! to everlasting life!
Beloved spot! where, with enchanted ear, I listened to the birds the woods among;
Where heaven's own harmonies I seemed to hear In their blythe carol, and my mother's song.
Where, from my trembling lips first softly flowed The name or her who shone in every grace ;
When first, spell-bound, my kindling bosom glowed In love's and friendship's cordial, warm embrace.
O, native land! have 1 not sought to gain
O'er our wide globe—where earth's descendants dwell— An Eden, calm and fair as thou ? In vain ; For thou art linked by memory's hidden chain
To the blest joys that childhood loved so well! Ah ! nowhere do the roses seem so red—
Ah! nowhere else the thorn so small appears— And nowhere makes the down so soft a bed
As that where innocence reposed in bygone years!
What though in brighter and less broken rays O'er the clear fountains and the limpid streams
Of many distant lands, the mild sun plays, Than o'er the Belt and our cold zone it beams.
Range round the world, and melt in tropic grove, Or shiver 'midst the mountain-fields of snow;
Hear from a thousand lips where'er ye rove, Nature's and its Creator's praises flow;
Remark where her bright blessings Freedom sheds,
And the ricji grain for. all its treasures, spreads ;
Yet o'er the wanderer's spirit sadness steals, And everywhere a blank—a want —it feels; The peasants dancing to the shepherd's reed By Arno's banks, less gladly do I heed Than the wild birds that from our falcons speed.
And Eloisa's grove seems thorns beside The tangled bushy copse, where oft I sank
In rapture, with my first love by my side. Less high seems Schrekhorn's summit than the bank
From which to grasp the distant moon I sought,
And raised to God was my first childish thought,
Here—here alone remembrance fondly strays O'er the wild wanderings of youth's gladsome days, Painting in brighter tints all that hath been, Till softer, lovlier seems each distant scene. Here, harbour of my joys ! in thy calm sea The stars of heaven reflected seem to me More glittering, that I gaze on them in thee!

Notwithstanding the feelings towards his native land expressed in these verses, Baggesen spent a large portion of his life in foreign countries, and died at Hamburg in 1826. Baggesen was, perhaps, the most popular poet in Denmark until Oehlenschlaeger (of whom he was extremely jealous) appeared, whose commanding genius soon placed him at the head of the literature of his country.

Adam Oehlenschlaeger was born in 1779. His father was steward of the royal castle of Frederiksberg, near Copenhagen. He began life as an actor, but soon quitted that calling, and became a student at the uni­versity. At an early age he entered on his literary career, in the course of which he has won not merely a European, but an undying celebrity. During the earliest part of this century his works, translated by himself into the language of Germany, made a great sensation in that country; and this is of itself no small praise to him, when it is considered how studded was the literature of Germany with brilliant luminaries of its own. Madame de Stael was one of the first to circulate the fame of Oehlenschlaeger throughout the world, for he was mentioned with much and just applause in her admirable work, " De L'Allemagne." " Oeh­lenschlaeger," says she, " has represented, in a manner at once truthful and poetical, the history and the fables of those countries which were for­merly inhabited by the Scandinavians. We know little of the north which stands on tne confines of the living earth. . . • The frigid air which congeals the breath, returns the heat into the soul; and nature, in these climates, seems only made to throw man back upon himself. The heroes in the fictions of northern poetry are gigantic; superstition, in their characters, is united to strength, whilst everywhere else it appears the companion of weakness. . . . Oehlenschlaeger has created an entirely new path, in taking for the subjects of his pieces the heroic traditions of his country; and if his example be followed, the literature of the North may one day become as celebrated as that of Germany."

Among Oehlenschlaeger's numerous works may be named his " Norden's Guder" ("Gods of the North"), which he styles "an epic poem;" but it is rather a succession of poems, containing the adventures of Thor (one of the most important of the Scandinavian gods) with Loke, who accompanies him on a journey. Loke was a spirit of mischief, "who played," says Moinichen, "somewhat the same part in the Valhalla that Momus did at Olympus," except that Loke delighted m doing harm as well as in creating mirth. This member of the Northern mythology is represented as very handsome, but wily, and not to be trusted. "Hrolf Krake" and "Helge" are also favourites among the Danes. Then there are several volumes of "Samlede Digte" by Oehlenschläger ("Collected Poems"), on every possible subject- solemn, grave, serene, gay; for the gifted poet appears to have been a perfect Proteus in his writings. Some of these are quite little gems. We lament that the Hants of a magazine must prevent our giving a selection of them; but, opening a volume at random, we shall transcribe a few of their names: "The two Church Spires,"—" The Wizard of the Hill"—"The Children in the Moon" — "William Shakspeare," whose works he calls, in this little poem, the "glory of Britain and the world" — "The old Priest" — "To Thorwaldsen" — "The Spectre Knight" — "The Rosebushes" — "Ewald's Grave" — "The Pharisee" — "Bacchus and Cupid," &c

From twelve to fifteen hundred pages of these little poems may be sup­posed to contain a considerable number. Of Oehlenschkeger's prose romance, "Oen i Sydhavet" ("An Island in the South Sea"), we will not speak, because it does no credit to his genius; but we are tempted to give one of the little snatches of poetry scattered through it. The fol­lowing is a colloquy between Death and his victims — an odd idea:

" Though I am feeble, yet, dear Death,
Awhile let me remain !M M Old mat, thy locks are white as snow, Still thou art loth with me to go—
But come, thy prayer is vain."
" I am in manhood's prime; wouldst thou
Then break my staff to-day ?" " The tall pine on the mountain's side, By lightning struck, falls in its pride:
My call thou must obey."
" I am a maiden—beauteous, young:
Wouldst hide me in the tomb ?" " Thou for this world art all too fair ; The bright rose never withers where
Thou soon again shalt bloom ?"
" So soon a hero canst thou snatch
From glory's bright career T " I come, clad as a warrior proud : What wouldst thou ? 'Neath my mailed shroud
No fleshless bones appear."
" Extinguish not, ah yet, dear Death,
Love's fire, that burns so bright !" M O, I can hold in close embrace— Arid though my mouth no warm lips grace,
Behold—my teeth are white!"
" Wouldst tear me from my golden hoard
With merciless commands ?" " Follow! Beneath the earth's black mould Gold never rusts; and thy dear gold
Shall shine in other hands."
" What! from his country's councils drag
The statesman proud ?—Away F " 1 call thee to a court more high, Where angel-forms above the sky
Throng round God's throne alway !"
" Against my ancient 'scutcheon—ha!
To raise thy scythe dar'st thou ?* *' Adam, the noblest of thy race, Was made to bow before my face:
Thy fawse is ended new."
" Thy vengeance wreak not thou on me :
Behold—this brow a crown adorns T " Vain is thy chum—thv power is o'er— Death on the cross God's own son bore,
Think on his crown of thorns!"
" We are so little—us at least
Etojb the dark grave oh spare!" " Does not your heavenly father love Young children—ye shall sport above
With winged cherubs there."
" Call not the anxious mother hence
From those her cares employ !" " Come—at heaven's window thou shalt stand, And gaze on the beloved band
And thou shalt weep for joy !
" For though my form is frightful, I
Am less your foe than friend. I bring ye all but transient woe, Your souls my scythe may never mow,
These shall" to God ascend I"

And yet these lines are from Oehlenschlaeger's "weakest work? as a countryman of his own pronounces it to be! His dramas,* especially his tragedies, are generally esteemed his best works; and of these the best again are "Palnatoke," "Axel og Valborg/' "Correggio," and "Hakon Jarl." The subject of "Palnatoke" is derived from an episode in Danish history, partly real, partly legendary, relating to a little island which was named Jomsborg, and governed and inhabited by pirates, the chiefs of whom were men of rank. It was said to have been against the laws of the island to allow women to live or land there; no females, therefore, appear in Oehlenschlseger's tragedy. "Axel and Valborg" is a great favourite in Denmark; and so it deserves to be, for it is a high-toned and beautiful tragedy. "Correggio" is full of feeling and is a bland and poetical drama.; the versatility, or rather the uni­versality, of Oehlenschlaeger's genius is evinced in. his having been the

  • Some of these dramas have been beautifully translated into English by Miss Chapman, and are at present in the course of preparation for the London stage. This lady lived for some time in Denmark, where a portion of her family have been long resident; and while there, she devoted herself to the study of the Banish language and literature, both ancient and modern, in winch pursuit she enjoyed the advantage of perusing many rare books and scarce editions, only to be found in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. There can be no doubt, there­fore, of the perfect accuracy of her translations. This talented lady has also translated some of Ingemann's historical novels, and Herz's popular drama, "King Renews Daughter," with the concurrence and approbation of their re­spective authors.

author both of " Correggio" and " Hakon Jarl." One can hardly fancy m the same mind conceiving the character of the mild, contemplative painter, devoted to the Christian faith, and enthusiastic in his art, and the cold, hard Jarl—the Pagan warrior, the bigoted worshipper of Odin, and the stern participator in the bloody rites with which the Scandina­vian deity was sought to be propitiated.

Hakon Jarl, an historical personage, was one of the last upholders of the faith of Odin in Norway. Among other scenes in Oehlenschlaeger's fine tragedy, is one in which, finding everything going against him and his religion, Hakon, according to the horrid superstition which demanded human victims, sacrifices his child, a little boy, called Erling, to pro­pitiate the gods, and stabs him in the sacred grove. But his followers desert him; Olaf Tryggvason, his Christian rival, wins the day, and Hakon Jarl, attended by a single slave, whom he supposes to be faithful, seeks shelter and concealment from Thora, who had formerly been beloved by him, but whom he had insulted and deserted, and whose brothers he had killed. When he thus throws himself as a humbled fugitive on her compassion, she forgets all her wrongs and his evil deeds, and secretes him in a cave, known only to herself. The cave scene is one of the last in the play, and the following are extracts from it:

A Subterranean Rocky Cave.—Hakon and Karker enter, the latter carrying a lamp, and a dish with meat.
Karker. Is this the hiding-place where we must stop? There's little comfort here. Where shall I hang The lamp ?
Hakon. See yonder hook against the wall; Go, hang it there.
Karker. 'Tis true, I may do that;
And here are seats hewn from the solid rock, Where one might softly rest. Sir Jarl, will you Now break your fast ? For you have nothing touched A night and a whole day.
Hakon. I need it not.
But thou mayst eat.
Karker. With your permission, yes.
(He sits down and begins to eat. Hakon paces up and down with long strides.)
Karker. Sir Jarl, this is an ugly, horrid hole ; Say, did you mark that chest, so black, which stood Within the narrow way, that led us here?
Hakon. Eat, and be silent! {Aside.) Here in this dark cave Has Thora watched through many a sleepless night, And wept in solitude. Was not this hall Destined to be her grave!
Yon heavy chest She secretly had made, and, buried there, Her lovely form was to have waited for Corruption vile. (Looks at Karker.)
Slave! why dost thou not eat ? It was thy wont to seize thy food with greed. What ails thee?
Karker. Ah, Sir Jarl! I have for food
But little longing.
Hakon. Little longing—why ?
Eat, slave—be calm and cheerful—look at me, Thy lord.
Karker. Ah, good, my lord; methinks you are Yourself dispirited and sad at heart.
Hakon. J, sad at heart! How dar'st thou say so, slave? Let us be merry. Since thou wilt not eat, Sing me some pleasant song.
Karker. What shall it be ?
Hakon. Whatever thou wilt—Jrnt rather let thy song Be of dull sound—like rain, or hail-stones falling Amidst a wintry storm. A lullaby— Sin? me a lullaby.
Karker. A lullaby ?
Hakon. That might put children of ripe years to sleep, In spite of midnight fears.
Karker. My lord, I know
A noble war-song from the olden days.
Hakon. Has it a frightful end ? Seems it to go At first all smoothly—and then does it turn
To murder and to death ?......
.........Begin thy song !
(Karker sings.) King Harald and Erling they sailed one night,
The moon was shining, the winds were fair, The Jarls they came to Oglegaard,
But in flames they perished there!
Hakon. Karker! art thou mad ? My father's death-song dost thou sing to me ?
Karker. Was Sigurd Jarl, your father, then, my lord ? I knew it not. His was a dreadful fate!
Hakon. Hush!
Karker. Would that one could find a mat, or straw
Whereon to stretch one's self, to seek repose!
Hakon. If thou art weary, sleep upon the ground; I've done so oft myself.
Karker. Well, so I will, Sir Jarl, since you forbid it not.....
Hakon. Sleep—sleep!
(Karker stretches himself upon the ground, and fells asleep. Hakon contem­plates him.)
Hakon. O leadeu nature — dost thou sleep so soon ? The feeble spark which witness bore that thou Wert human — not a block — now smoulders there Within yon heap of ashes. But .... with me It flames and storms in its unruly might. Didst thou my father's death-song chant, to give A warning from the Norner?* Shall my fate Like Sigurd's be ? I am what Sigurd was, A man of blood—stanch to the ancient gods.
(With uneasiness.) What if it should be! . . . Can it be in truth That Christ has conquered Odin ? . . • •
-......Ah! 'tis chill—
'Tis sadly chill and damp in this dark cell!
(He walks up and down for a time, then stops and looks at Karker.) The slave is dreaming. Horrid! ghastly thoughts Are painted on his face. See—how he lies, And, like a demon, grins beneath the lamp!

  • The Scandinavian destinies

(He shakes him.) Wake, slave! Wake—Karker—-say, what doth betide That hideous smile?
Karker. Hah! I was dreaming then.
Hakon. What didst thou dream ?
Karker. I dreamt ....
Hakon. Hash! hark!
What can that uproar be—yonder—ahewe?
Karker. A troop of soldiers, Jarl, for I can hear The clank of arms. King Olafs men, 'tis like, Are seeking you.
Hakon. This cave is all unknown.
Thora gave me the key; the door is clamped With iron bolts. Here, surely, we are sate!
(Karker listens.)
Karker. Hearken, my lord—near you not what they say?
Hakon. What do they say ?
Karker. They say King Olaf will
Reward the man with honour and with gold Who brings your head to him.
Hakon (looking keenly at him). But that reward Thou'lt never earn ? Why dost thou tremble so ? Why are thy cheeks so pale—thy lips so blue ?
Karker. Ah! I am still uneasy at my dream. If you read dreams, my lord, I'll tell you mine.

Karker's dreams are not over pleasing to his lord, who begins to feel some unpleasant suspicions about him; however, he desires him to go to rest, and declares his intention of likewise seeking repose. Karker pre­pares to obey, but first busies himself about the lamp. Hakim asks him what he is doing. He answers, that he is going to extinguish the lamp; whereupon his master exclaims :

Nay, go to rest, and let the lamp burn on! Without it, we should be involved in gloom Too dark and dismal.
Surely darkness is A type of death—more black and terrible Than death itself—while light gives confidence. Then let the lamp alone. Feebly it burns— Better that light than none. Go sleep, my son!
(They both remain quiet for some time.) Hakon. Karker! art thou asleep? Karker. I am, Sir Jarl,
Hakon. Ha! stupid, doltish slave !

(He rises and paces up and down.) Hakon—Hakon, Is yonder serf of all thou didst possess The only remnant left ? I trust him not . • •
Give me thy dagger, Karker, for a slave No weapon needs.
Karker. You gave it me, my lord.
But here it is.
Hakon. Sleep now.
Karker I will
Hakon, My head
Feels-steaagely heavy 5 lam tired and faint After the morning's strifa^ttoe evening's Algol*
Yet slumber dace not seek . . . fer yonder slave • . .
I will but rest awhile—-sleep shall not close
These watching eyes. (He throws himself down, and soon falls asleep.)
Karker (rising stealthily). He sleeps at last; he thinks I am not to be trusted, that I see. He fears I shall betray him ; for his fife Bog Olaf longs—would gold and honours give. What want I move from him ? He wakes 1 Help, Thar I
Hakim {rising in his sleep, strides forward, and stands in the centre of the cave). Guldharald ! Graafeld!—what want ye with me ? Leave me in peace, ye did deserve your death; I vowed ye no false friendship. Girl I go home— I have no time to dally with thee now.
Who weeps in yonder grove ? Erling — 'tis thou I
Oh! this is worst of all—why weepest thou ?
Stabbed I too deep ? See—see the crimson drops
Amidst the roses trickle from thy breast. (He calls out loudly.)
Oh, Karker, Karker!
Karker. What, Sir Jarl ? He falls
Into still deeper sleep.
Hakon. It is all o'er.
There—take thy dagger—plunge it into my heart!
Karker. You will be angry when you wake, my lord.
Hakon. I have deserved it, Karker—thrust weft home I
Karker (taking up the dagger). He is my lord, I must obey his will.
Hakon (still sleeping). Ha 1 haste thee, haste thee, Karker, ere I wake— For thou or I must die. . . : .
Karker (stabbing him). Then you shall die!
Hakon (starting). It was the avenging hand of heaven that struck. Now, Tryggvason, thy prophecy's fulfilled ! I feel the lightning flaming in my breast. (He dies.)
Karker. 'Tis done!—no pity can avail him now. And if I groaned and shrieked till I were hoarse, I could not call him back to life again; So, from his pocket I shall take the key And haste to bear him hence. King Olaf will Reward the deed with silver and with gold. What's done is done—he asked himself for death. How should I but obey my lord's command!
(Exit Karker carrying out the body.)

The treacherous serf however, is rewarded according to his deserts by the Christian King Olaf, and is executed for the murder of Hakon.

On the occasion of the funeral of the eminent sculptor, Thorwaldsen, who died in March, 1844, the requiem was written by his intimate friend, Oehlenschlaeger. We shall give an extract from it. Three poets lent their aid on this melancholy day. The body of the great artist lay in state in the antique sculpture-room of the Thorwaldsen Museum, which had been founded by him, and to which he had bequeathed all he pos­sessed. While die corpse was being carried out, the students of the Academy of Fine Arts sang a dirge—"The Artists' Farewell to Thorwaldsen" — the words of which were composed by H. P. Holst, the music by Bang.

On the coffin were laid interwoven branches of cypress and palm; the (mmsMpnoce and other members of the royal family, the fninirtprs of state, the president and members of the Academy of Fine Arts* oAoatt the- army and navy, all the Icelanders in Copenhagen, and about 8000 other persons, formed the funeral procession. The streets through which it passed were lined with the different companies of trades, and regiments from the garrison; and the whole distance to the Frue-Kirke was, ac­cording to an ancient Scandinavian custom, strewed with white sand, interspersed with juniper leaves. At the entrance to the church the king, in deep mourning, received the corpse; and when it had been placed on a catafalque, Oehlenschkeger's requiem, the music by Glaser, was sung:
Crowds upon crowds are gathering round The sacred spot where rests a bier; Of a people's wail there comes the sound— O fatherland! what mourn you here? A prince—a hero—snatched away ?
No, Denmark sighs ; and yet his name Stands on the brightest page of fame, Whom here, alas! we weep to-day.
On an ice-bound shore, 'neath a dark stormy sky,
Where winter doth ever his festival keep ;
Round the graves where thy hero-ancestors* lie,
The snow-flakes fall, and the wild winds sleep.
Like an angel choir from the heavenly halls
Have their spirits descended, and sang to thee—
" Thou must come with us hence, for thy Maker calls."
A lofty spirit in his bosom woke,
As if a voice had called him from above ;
On his mind's eye a heavenly vision broke,
And he beheld the Saviour of his love—
A radiant form—standing encircled by
The favoured Twelve. 'Twas given him to conceive
His looks on earth ; and theirs, who to the sky
Saw Him ascend, and thus learned to believe.
Now, round the spot where he reposes, stand
Those statues grand and beautiful; and one,
Even Christ himself, seems to stretch forth his hand
With smile benignant, saying, " Come, my son !"

While the body was being consigned to its last abode, hundreds of students, assembled in the churchyard, chanted the following lines by Hans Christian Andersen, the music by Hartmann : Approach this coffin, ye of humble birth, And learn from his success what talent may Achieve in time, when *tis combined with worth. " Was he not one of us ?" ye proudly say;

  • This probably alludes to Thorwaldsen's real or supposed descent, by the female line, from Thorfinn, a member of a rich and powerful family in Iceland, who was one of the early navigators to Greenland, and discoverers of Vinland—a portion of North America, about the exact locality of which northern antiquaries disagree, some placing it in what is now Massachusetts, others, with less proba­bility of correctness, in Labrador. Thorwaidsen's father was a poor Icelandic sculptor, whose principal employment, after he settled in Copenhagen, was to carve figure-heads for ships. Thorfinn commanded a ship, or expedition, from Iceland to Greenland, in the year 1006.

" Yet Denmark hailed in him a brilliant star."
Yes—his nobility—his wreath he owed
To God alone ; possessions greater far
Than aught the hand of man could have bestowed.
Now death hath called him to a brighter shore,
His mission here is o'er!
His life was fortunate—calm was his death,
His spirit, well prepared, so gently fled,
That scarce one sigh disturbed his failing breath.*
But though the heaven-born flame that brightly spread
Its lustre o'er the world be gone—a light
In memory's deathless lamp hath it not left ?
Are not the greatest triumphs of his might
Bequeathed unto the North—of him bereft?
Then chant we, while his dirge we join to swell,
In Jesn's name, sleep well!

Adam Oehlenschlaeger did not many years survive his gifted friend. He died about two years ago. Chamberlain Adolph Wilhelm Schack von Staffeldt, who was born in Copenhagen in 1770, commenced life as a military man, but soon lefb the army and repaired to the University of Gottingen, to study the law. After several years passed in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Holland, he returned to his native country, where he obtained a civil appointment, and died in 1826. He takes a high rank among the poets of Denn\ark. His poetry is gene­rally of a reflective and lofty cast, but sometimes, perhaps, too mystic or too philosophical to be enjoyed by commonplace readers ; but they are very beautiful, and the Society of Danish Literature has published a new edition of his works, prefixed to which is given his life by Professor Molbech. We must take some other opportunity of giving a specimen of his shorter poems, of which there is a good selection in Christian Winther's "Danske Romanzer ; hundred e og fern"—" 105 Danish ro­mances"—published in 1839. Schack-StafFeldt's nearest contemporary in point of age was Jens Michael Herz, Bishop of Ribe, born 1766, died 1825. His fame rests principally upon an epic poem, entitled " Det befriede Israel"—" Israel Delivered." It cannot, however, be asserted that this is a second " Jerusalem Delivered."

Lauritz Kruse, born 1778, died 1839, was a dramatic author, and writer of short tales. The scenes of some of his plays were laid in Italy—as, for instance, " Ezzelin (Eccelino), Tyrant of Padua." Among other dramatists and poets may be mentioned Henrik Arnold Werge-land, and Moritz Christian Hansen; but it is time to say a few words of those writers who have not confined themselves to works of the imagination.

In graver literature and on science there is quite a galaxy of names. The leading historians and biographers of the latest years of the last

  • Thorwaldsen passed much of his time with his friend the Baroness Stampe; he had dined with her on the day of his death, and she remarked how unusually sprightly and alert he was. He left her house for the theatre, where he had not been long seated when he was taken suddenly ill. So sudden was the attack which carried him off, that a lady who sat next to him, observing him stoop for­ward, thought he had dropped his glove, and was about to pick it up. But that movement was the signal of impending death, and in a yety short time the great artist bad breathed his last..

century, and earlier part of this one, some of whom still live, are—Pro­fessor Kasmus Nyerup, who was born in the middle of the last century at Fyen, where his father was a farmer; he evinced so decided a turn for literature from his earliest years, that he was permitted to become a student, instead of following agricultural pursuits. He died in 1829, as librarian to the University of Copenhagen, where he had previously been professor of history. He was a very diligent and comprehensive writer, principally of historical works ; but he was also largely a contributor to a literary magazine, entitled Lærde Tidender — The Learned News — and other periodicals. Among his numerous works may be mentioned his " Luxdorfiana", " Langebekiana," " Suhmiana ;in Iris "Collection of the Portraits of Celebrated Danes," "Universal Literary Lexicon for Denmark, Norway, and Iceland," "Statistical History of Denmark and Norway," "Characteristics of Christian IV.," "Translation of part of Snorre's Edda," &c, &c. He was also the editor of " Nyerup's Maga­zine of Voyages and Travels performed by Danes." Gustav Ludwig Baden, a son of the Jacob Baden before mentioned, born in 1764, died in 1840, was a doctor of laws. He published more than one history, and various " Afhandlinger," or treatises on different subjects. Another doctor of laws, Jens Rragh Host, born 1772, died 1844, was also one of Denmark's leading historians. His history of " Struensee and his Ministry" is a well-written and luminous work. He was the' author of a Life of Napoledn, of Kotzebue's Life, and many other valuable books, besides being the editor of the Northern Spectator.

Laurits Engelstoft, born in 1775, and remarkable for the correctness and elegance of his style, has written, among other things, "Thoughts on National Education ;" "The Condition of the Female Sex among the Scandinavians before the Introduction of Christianity;" "The Siege of Vienna, in 1683," published in the "Historical Calendar;" and other interesting works.

Peter Erasmus Muller, born 1776, died 1834, is best known as the author or compiler of the " Saga Bibliothek," in three volumes, published in Copenhagen in 1820. He was also a theological writer, as the title-of one of his works will show — viz., " A Demonstration of the Grounds for Believing in the Divinity of the Christian Religion.* Bishop Frederick Miinter, who died in his seventieth year, m 1830, was the author of the " History of the Reformation in Denmark," and other ecclesiastical works in Danish, German, and Latin. Professor Jens Holler, born 1779, died 1833, was the compiler of a "Theological Li­brary," the writer of "Outlines of the History of Danish Literature,* given in the u Historical Calendar," and other excellent works. The f * Historical Calendar" was published by Professor Nyerup, in conjunction with Jens Møller.

Bishop Jacob Peter Mynster, born 1775, has given to his countrymen several very eloquent discourses or sermons, and valu­able theological and philosophical works; also some others on what are oafled popular subjects. In one of these — a sort of essay — there is a very good critique on Lord Byron's poems, more especially " Don Juan;" for which, however, unfortunately, we have not room. Professor Chris­tian Molbech — who is still alive, and still writes—was born 1783, at Soroe; he has been a great ornament to the literature of his country, and shines equally as a critic, a biographer, and an historian. He is the author of a Danish Dictionary; of a "History of the Stuarts ; "History of King Erik Plogpenning;" "Tales and Sketches from Danish History," published between 1837 and 1840; "Lyrical Dramas;" "Poetical Anthology;" " Lives of Danish Authors," &c. Captain W. Graah, of the Danish navy, has written a book interesting to Danes, on the "Naval History of Denmark," and a "Narrative of an Expedition to the East Coast of Greenland," which had for its object a search after traces of the ancient colonies. It is scarcely necessary to add, that none were found*

Professor Rask, born 1787, at Fyen, and who died in 1832, was an eminent philologist, antiquarian, and Anglo-Saxon scholar. He translated " Snorre's Edda," and has written, among other esteemed works, an Icelandic Grammar and an Anglo-Saxon Grammar, the latter translated into English by Mr. Thorp, one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholars living. Finn Magnusen, a learned Icelander of very ancient family, has published on similar subjects. His " Lexicon My thologicum,* and " Eddalaeren," are excellent guides to ancient Scandinavian lore, though perhaps his theories may be rather fanciful.

Among the philosophical authors of the same period may be named Niels Treschow, a Norwegian by birth, who died in 1833, at the advanced age of eighty-two. He was a professor, and afterwards councillor of state. His principal works are, "Elements of the Philosophy of History/' " Universal Logic," " Moral Philosophy for the People and the State." He wrote also on the favourite theme, Scandinavian literature, which one wonders should have engaged so many able pens.

The name of Soren Kierkegaard also stands high, and that of Henrik Steffens, who was born in 1774, and died in 1845. His works on natural history and philosophy are, however, principally in German. He was for a long time a professor at Berlin, and was at another period of his life a professor at Kiel. Henrik Steffens has not confined himself to scientific works, hut has also published on political matters, which he has introduced into a book purporting to be the biography of four individuals, from their child­hood upwards. This work has made a great sensation in Germany. He has ako condescended to novel-writing; and a tale of his, founded on a Zealand legend, is said to be very striking. The same legend affords H. C. Andersen the subject of one of his best poems, " Bruden i Rorwig Kirke," the "Bride of Rorwig Church." The poor bride, though mar­ried to a very handsome young man, apparently a nobleman, was soon made the bride of death, for she was murdered immediately after the cere­mony had been performed. The story tells, that late one moonlight night, the officiating priest or minister of a lonely little church, in an obscure corner of the Island of Zealand, dose by toe sea-shore, was aroused from his quiet slumbers by the intrusion of a band of armed men, who com­manded him to accompany them to the church, offering him gold if he went readily, and threatening to stab him if he demurred. The old priest took his Bible under his arm as his talisman, and went with them* On the way, which was by the sands, he observed a vessel at anchor in the solitary little bay; and on entering the church, he found it full of fero­cious-looking men, whose long swords clattered on the stone floor; stand­ing amidst mem, he saw a beautiful young girl, who looked very pale and unhappy, but was dressed in the most gorgeous costume. She was led

  • Translated into English by the late G. Gordon Macdougall, Esq.

to the altar by a tall, proud-looking young man, who glanced coldly and darkly at the melancholy bride. When the marriage ceremony was over, the old priest was dismissed, having first been compelled to swear secrecy ; he had not long left the church when he heard the report of a shot fired within it; and soon after he saw the men all issue from the sacred edifice, and hasten to embark on board their vessel, which immediately set sail. He then returned to the church, and on moving one or two of the flag­stones, which had evidently been recently disturbed, he perceived, to his horror, the corpse of the unfortunate young bride, who had been shot through the heart and buried there!

Jens Wilkin Hornemann wrote on natural history and botany; but the crowning name in science and the higher departments of literature is that of Oersted. The brothers Oersted are both very remarkable men. Their father was an apothecary in a small town in the Danish island of Lange-land. They were in a great measure self-taught, and while pursuing what education was within their reach, they had to assist their father; but Hans Christian turned this drudgery to good account, for it led him to the study of chemistry. The younger brother, Anders Sandbe Oersted, born in 1778, became very learned in the law; he is also celebrated as a mathematician and natural historian. He rose so high as to have been at one time a leading member of the Danish ministry. A. S. Oersted was married to the sister of the poet Oehlenschlaeger. Hans Christian Oersted, late Professor of Natural Philosophy, and Secretary to the Royal Society of Copenhagen, was born in 1777. He was one of nature's favourites, not only possessing the highest order of intellect and talents, but being of a most amiable disposition, and of an exemplary private cha­racter. It is to the discoveries of Oersted that the world owes the esta­blishment of the electric telegraph; for much of his time was devoted to the study of electro-magnetism. In 1850 he published a remarkable work, entitled, " Aanden i Naturen" (" The Spirit in Nature"), which he terms " a popular contribution towards elucidating the spiritual influ­ences of nature/' The volume commences with a conversation entitled " Det Aandelige i det Legemlige" (" The Spiritual in the Material"), which is purported to be carried on between a lady and three gentlemen; the lady's share in it being, of course, to obtain information simplified to suit her capacity. This very superior work is no longer a sealed book to those who do not read Danish or German, for it has been lately trans­lated into English by the Misses Horner, from a German edition. On comparing it with the original Danish, it seems an admirable translation, and could hardly have been better executed by Professor Oersted's highly-gifted countrywoman, Miss C. Otte, the able translator of Humboldt's " Cosmos/' and other scientific works. Hans Christian Oersted travelled a great deal on the continent of Europe, and had visited England. He married in 1814, and was the father of a large family. At the advanced age of seventy-four, he died in March, 1851. And with him we shall close this portion of our list of Danish authors.