The New Monthly Magazine/Volume 94/A Survey of Danish Literature
A SURVEY OF DANISH LITERATURE, FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE PRESENT TIME.
BY Mrs. Bushby.
IT is only very recently that the popular literature of Denmark has become at all known to the generality of English readers ; that the names of Danish authors have been heard on the shores of this island, whew, 800 years ago, Canute, a Danish monarchy reigned. Perhaps this is partly traceable to the fact, that there has been no direct communication between Great Britain and Denmark, but that Hamburgh, and the north-west portion of Germany, have formed the pathway between the two countries, and the usual medium of intercourse. Even during the late Schleswig-Holstein hostilities, the principal accounts from the theatre of war were received through the Hamburgh newspapers; and the information of almost all that is known to the community at large in Great Britain, of the political events in Denmark, is derived from German papers. No wonder, then, that the Danish works which have appeared in this country have, with a few exceptions, been all re-translations from German versions; and that some of the Danish authors themselves have been classed as Germans.
The limited influence which Denmark has exercised over the destinies and international relations of the greater part of the European govern¬ments, the influx of travellers to the sunny south rather than to the bleak north, have tended, and united to prevent that intimate acquaintance with the language and literature of Denmark, which has taken place in regard to those of countries within more easy reach, and which are brought more prominently into contact with England. Although every one is supposed to understand French, translations from that language are to be seen in every penny magazine. The treasures of German lore have found numerous interpreters; Spanish and Portuguese writers have not been without translators ; and the best Italian authors, from the difficult Dante to Manzoni's " Promessi Sposi," have been rendered into English, for the benefit of those who cannot read the beautiful originals. But, except to the elite of the learned and literary world, those native authors, who have instructed or amused the inhabitants of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, have remained almost as much unknown as if these countries had been situated at the base of the Mountains of the Moon—shut in by swamps and deserts, guarded by tribes of savages, and the scarcely more ferocious wild beasts of nearly impervious forests. But a new taste seems springing up; translators, having well-nigh exhausted the south, are turning their attention to the north; and it is
- In this short surrey of the literature of Denmark, Danish works alone have been referred to as authorities; not a line has been borrowed from any English, French, or German writer, and the specimens given are original translations from the Danish authors themselves.
probable that during the latter half of the nineteenth century the literature of Scandinavia may become familiar to the English descendants of the Anglo-Saxons, and the mythology of the north may become as well known as the mythology of ancient Greece and Pagan Rome—that Scandinavian mythology in which Odin was the Joye, Freya the Venus, and Thor the Man, of the Norsemen; in which Niflhelm — the dark and cold spirit-world, with its frozen rivers and gloomy vapours, situated in the extreme north — was deemed the abode of terrors; Muspelheim, situated in the extreme south, the world of fire ; and the Valhalla, with its five hundred and forty gates, the resort of those warriors who had died in battle, or distinguished themselves by valiant deeds.
The strange wild tales of the Scandinavian mythology have been, and are still, frequently introduced into Danish poetry and romance.* They were snog of in the poems or historic tales of the Skalds, who, though of Icelandic origin, spread their productions over Sweden, Denmark, and Norway; and they were often alluded to in the Sagas+, or narrations, which were so much valued in these rude ages. A good specimen of the old Skaldie poems is the " Quida, or Death Song of Regnar Lodbrok" one of the earliest poets of Denmark, son of Sigurd Ring, king of that and the adjacent countries. Regnar was, at first, King of the Isles; afterwards, a celebrated sea-king, and for a long time the terror of the coasts of-England, Scotland, Ireland, and Flanders, as well as of those of Norway and Sweden. But his exploits at Norwich and Lindisfam eventually were the cause of his being taken prisoner by Ella, king of Northumberland, and put to death in a cruel manner, by being shut up with vipers, worms, and other loathsome reptiles. His wife, or rather one of his wives— far Regnar's matrimonial code was not unlike that of the Turks—was also famed for her poetical talents, as well as her beauty; and had Regnar listened to- her prophetic warnings, he would not have fallen a victim to the barbarous avenge of the Northumbrian chief. There is a fanciful and pretty Norwegian tradition respecting this wife of Regnar Lodbrok, which is related by Torfeus, the learned Icelandic antiquary and historian, who was educated principally at Copenhagen, passed most of his life in Norway, and died about the beginning- of the present century.
The legend says, that at Spangereid, an isthmus in Norway, a golden harp was one day cast, by the waves, on the shore of a small sheltered bay; and that in this gift of the ocean there was found a little girl of surpassing beauty. She was brought up to keep sheep by the peasants who found her j but the report of her loveliness having reachea the ears of Regnar Lodbrok, then king of the Danish islands, he sought the place of her abode, and married her. She had two names—Aslauga and Kraaka. A hill near the home of her childhood is called Aslauga's hill — a stream there, Kraakabecker, the rivulet of Kraaka—and the bay goes by the name of Gull-Siken, or Golden Bay. But in Moinichen's " Danish Dictionary of the Gods, Heroes, Fables, and Traditions of the North," Aslauga's history is somewhat differently given. She is there said to
- These are principally collected in the tho Eddas, and the Voluspa, or oracle of the prophetess or sybil, Tola.
+ Saga, in the northern mythology, was the name of a goddess who presided over History. She was a favourite of Odin, and wai admitted to the honour of drinking with him from a golden cup.
have been the daughter of a Swede, called Sigurd, who died when she was three years old; she was then taken charge of by one Heimer, and re¬moved to Norway. He was murdered by a man and woman called Ake and Grima, who took Aslaoga with them to Spangereid, and made her keep their sheep. Regnar Lodbrok, sailing past with his fleet on some piratical expedition, pot into the little harbour, and sent a few of his men' on shore to hake bread; but these rovers were so much struck with Aslauga's beauty, and so much occupied in admiring her, that they forgot the bread, which was accordingly burned. When they returned on board, Regnar was enraged at their carelessness; but his wrath was mollified when he heard the cause of the disaster, and, although he had a very handsome wife, named Thora, be determined to see the beauty who had caused the damage to his bread. He therefore sent his royal order for Aslauga to come on board his ship, and alone.
She promised to obey, and next day made her appearance alongside his vessel in a little fishing-boat, accompanied only by a very fierce dog. Nothing, however, would induce her to ascend the side of the sea-king's ship; and as Regnar, railing in his persuasions, was probably about to try some more active means of getting her there, her dog bit him in the hand. The dog was immediately killed, and the damsel returned to the shore. But in the short interview she had won the susceptible heart of the warrior-king, and she made her own terms. She was to be his queen, or he was never to see her more. She further stipulated that he was to leave her then, and if his love continued, he was to return again in a year, when she would marry him.
At the expiration of the year Regnar returned "upon wings," as the Danish version has it. They were married, great festivities were held at his court, and she became his queen. Morals and manners must have both been very defective at that period, else Aslauga could not well have stepped into the living Thora's place. She maintained her influence over the sea-king for the rest of his fife; and after his murder, by the English chief Ella, she composed a poem to his memory, which was called " The Lay, or Lament of Kraaka." This royal couple were among the earnest poets of Denmark, though it is a disputed point whether Regnar Lodbrok's " Death Song" was his own composition, that of some Skald, or the production of the widowed Aslauga.
The kings and chieftains of Scandinavia were not, however, generally themselves poets or historians, but they frequently had some bard among their retainers, for as books and manuscripts were rare, as there were no newspapers or periodicals in those days to chronicle passing events, the land and sea longs, and the warriors of note, were glad to have their deeds blazoned abroad, and handed down to posterity, in the songs and Sagas of the Skalds, and other bards, who were equally welcome guests in the halls of the Jarl's castle, in the substantial abodes of the thriving burghers, and in the rude hut of the peasant.
These northern poets and historians, whose recitations, doubtless, blended many fables with some truths, were not unlike the minnesingers, the troubadours, and wandering minstrels of southern lands. One of the earliest of the court Skalds, mentioned in Danish history, was Thorbiorn Hornklofe, the poet-laureate of Harald Haarfager, a king equally famous for his achievements in war and his adventures in lore, and who was also remarkable for the beauty of his hair, which, says an old Danish writer, " could only be compared to silk and gold, and was so long that he tied it in knots, and confined it under hs belt.
The earliest geographer known in the north, lived in the time of Harald Haarmger, and was called "Other". He was born in Heligoland. The Kaempeviser, or heroic songs, continued for a long time to be the popular poetry of the north; and ballads were also much esteemed. in the reign of Christian IV. of Denmark, between the year 1588 and 1648, the Kaempeviser, and old Danish ballads, were collected by a professor and clergyman, named Anders Sorensen Vedel.
Snorro Sturleson, who was born in the year 1178, may be named aa one of the earliest of the Scandinavian authors; he was an Ioelander of a high family, and is said, by the Danish historian, Sneedorff, to have been the grandson of Sæmund Frode, surnamed the Wise. The prose ." Edda" is ascribed to him. He was the author of the " Heimskringla," a history, partly fabulous, commencing with Odin, and ending with the reign of King Magnus Erlingson, 1176.
In the twelfth century there flourished a trio of learned and remarkable men in Denmark: the Archbishop Absalon, of Lund; his secretary, Sozo-Grammaticus ; and Svend or Sweyn Aagesen,—all of whom were historians. These authors lived during the reigns of Waldemar I, and his son Knud, or Canute VI. From the period of the brilliant reigns of die Waraemars, there occurred a long interregnum in the literary history of Denmark. This dark age continued until the advent to the throne of Christian I., who, in 1478, founded the university of Copenhagen; but there were no Danish authors of any note until the sixteenth century. There then appeared Lyeehander, who was historiographer to Christian IV., Petreius, Arild Hvitfelt, Niels Krag, Olaus Wormius, Caspar Bartholin and his three sons, Stephanius, Arngrim Jonsen, a learned Icelander, Anders Arreboe, the father of Danish poetry, who died in 1637, and the celebrated mathematician and astronomer, Tycho Brahe, who was born in 1546, and was descended from an illustrious family in Scania.
Tycho Brahe was brought up by an uncle, George Brahe, who paid much attention to his education, which was commenced at such an early age, that when he was only seven years old be wrote Latin verses. At thirteen years of age he was sent to the Copenhagen university, where his love of astronomical studies soon developed itself; and the manuscripts which contain his observations, when a boy of sixteen, on eclipses, lightning, dec., are still preserved. 'When quite a youth he went to Leipsic, whither he was accompanied by a young gentleman of the Danish court, the Anders Sorensen Vedel before mentioned as the collector of the old Kaempeviser, and who became subsequently the royal historiographer. At Leipsic, Tycho Brahe devoted himself assiduously to the study of astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, astrology, and casting of nativities.
That a clever and rational being should have wasted his time in the two last-mentioned fanciful pursuits, may provoke a smile of derision in our enlightened days; but it must be remembered that the Danish astronomer lived at a period when there existed a sort of second chaos in the world of knowledge; when the sun of truth was straggling to break forth from the heavy clouds of superstition, error, and barbarism; and eren the brightest intellects were obscured by the darkness that prevailed around.
Whole nights were passed by the youthful astronomer in the open air, observing the stars; and on his return to Copenhagen, he proposed con¬tinuing the study of his favourite sciences. But these were, at that period, so little known and valued in Denmark, that his family thought he demeaned himself by his occupations; and he had, in consequence, so many disagreeables to encounter, that he determined on going back to Germany. At Rostock, he met by chance a Danish nobleman, named Manderup Parsbierg, at a wedding-mast; unluckily they quarrelled; and, having met again shortly after at a Christmas entertainment, the quarrel was renewed. Parabierg drew his sword, and Tycho Brahe followed his example; but he was probably less skilled in the use of that weapon than in the use of his mathematical instruments, for he had the worst of the fray, and was severely wounded in the face, a part of his nose having been chopped off by a sword-cut from his adversary. After that, he tra¬velled through Germany and Italy, and wherever he went his acquire¬ments in science were much admired.
In 1570 he returned to Denmark, and, about three years afterwards, married a girl in a station of life much beneath his own. This gave great umbrage to his aristocratic family, and the reigning monarch, Frederick II., whom obliged to interfere on his behalf. The same royal benefactor settled a pension on the astronomer, and presented him with the island of Hveen, in the Sound, where an observatory was built for him. But he was not destined to end his days in this peaceful retreat Frederick II. died in 1588; and his son, Christian IV., who ascended the throne as a mere child, was influenced against Tycho by the enemies whom he had at court; for when were ever superior genius and talent without enemies and detractors ?
Among the illustrious individuals who visited Tycho Brahe in his island-home, was James VI. of Scotland and I. of England, when he went to Denmark on the occasion of his betrothal to the Princess Anne, second daughter of Frederick II. King James stayed eight days with the great astronomer or astrologer, and on leaving him, asked what gifts he would receive. Tycho would accept of nothing but two English dogs, and some Latin lines. The king thereupon wrote with his own hands :
Est nobilis ira leonis,
Parcere subject is et debellare superbos.
The lines bestowed by the learned monarch on the sage of Hveen did nd harm; not so the don—for they proved an unlucky gift. The young King Christian took it into his head to follow his Scottish brother-in-law's example, and pay a visit to his distinguished subject at Hveen. He was attended by a numerous suite, among whom was the ITqfmester, or lord-steward of the palace, Christopher Walkendorf who was not at all well disposed towards the renowned astronomer. One morning, when this Walkendorf was about to enter Tycho Brahe's apartment, lie found the English dogs lying near the door; they barked on his approach, and he kicked them—an affront which their master resented by speaking angrily to him. The Hofmester did not give vent-at once to his indignation, hut he never forgave Tycho Brahe, and did all be could to poison Christian's mind against him. The court physicians also hated Tycho, on account of bis discoveries' in chemistry, which interfered with their pharmacopoeia; and so powerful became the cabal against him, that he had to leave Denmark, and to spend the remainder of hie days in exile. He died at Prague, in 1601.
It is a curious fact, that Tycho Brahe held thirty-two days in the year as unlucky. He considered that it was unwise to commence a journey on any of these days—that a marriage celebrated on one of them would not turn out well—and that if any one became ill on one of those days, he would not recover. He also behoved that if, on first going out, one en* countered an old woman, it was a sign of evil! There is not, however, any record of his belief in witchcraft.
Christian Longomontanus, the pupil of Tycho Brahe, also became much distinguished, and published many works on mathematics and astro¬nomy. The Danish drama takes its date from the time of Christian IV., who was partial to theatrical representations — a taste he probably acouired daring his visits to England, where he had become acquainted with the works of Shakspeare. Though harsh and unjust towards Tycho Brahe— who, however, was not sufficiently respectful towards his sovereign -—- Christian was the patron of science and literature, and did much to pro¬mote their cultivation in his dominions. He was the founder of the royal library of Copenhagen, which deservedly ranks as one of the best in Europe.
Two centuries ago, the progress of literature everywhere depended more on the patronage of the great than on the voice of the people and, therefore, as the immediate successors of Christian IV. cared little for literary pursuits or intellectual pleasures, and as the court circle took their tone from the king, there was no encouragement to any class of authors. The intolerance of the clergy at that period, also, helped to keep down the spirit of improvement; so that during the reigns of Frederick III. and Christian V., the only authors who at all deserve to be mentioned were Peter Syv, a clergyman, who published the first Danish grammar that ever existed, and a bishop called Kingo, a poet, whose chief undertakings were a poetical version of the Psalms, and some odes in praise of the naval battles of Christian V.
During the reign of Frederick III., the Danes were much occupied with their internal politics; for it was about the year 1660 that the old constitution was abolished, and, by the will of the people, that Denmark was created an absolute monarchy. Towards the end of the seventeenth century lived Ole or Oleus Roemer, distinguished for his knowledge in astronomy, mathematics, and mechanics; and whose discoveries in regard to the velocity of light are noticed in the " Edinburgh Encyclopaedia." He died in 1710.
The beginning of the eighteenth century has been called by the Danes "the age of Holberg." He was a writer of whom they are very proud, and not without good reason, for with him commenced a new era in Danish literature. The celebrated Oehlenschläger said of him, "that he had rough planed the taste of the nation." He certainly gave an impulse to its literary taste, and laboured hard to improve and amuse his countrymen.
Ludvig Holberg was born at Bergen, in Norway, in 1684. Though well connected by his mother's side—his maternal grandfather having been a bishop — his father, who was a military man, had risen from the ranks; but he died a colonel, which proved, says his gifted son, " that he was not a nobleman by birth, but by deeds." He adds, that his father " was ever known to be an upright, valiant, and pious man, who gained the approbation of all who knew him." On the death of his widowed mower, when he was only ten years of age, Holberg was left an almost destitute orphan. He was at first intended for the army, but after he had quitted the grammar-school, an uncle (his mother's brother) sent him to the University of Copenhagen, where he studied divinity, and also French and Italian. His poverty compelled him afterwards to take the situation of a tutor in a private family in Norway, whither he had returned.
When he had saved sixty dollars he determined to go forth to see the world, and embarked for Amsterdam. Not, however, finding any encouragement to remain in Holland, and his slender finances being exhausted, he returned to Norway, where he set up, on the strength of his travels, as a teacher of modern languages. Here, at Christiansand, he was reaping quite a golden harvest, when a bankrupt Dutch merchant arrived to divide his honours and emoluments. However, he succeeded in scraping up a little money, and then betook himself to England. On landing at Gravesend, Holberg walked to London, and from thence proceeded to Oxford; he subsisted there by teaching French and music, and his wit and information brought him much into notice. He read a great deal while at Oxford; and on his return to the north, went to Copenhagen, where his talents attracted the attention of the reigning king (Frederick IV.), by whom, in 1714, he was appointed a professor at the university. His wandering disposition, however, soon led him abroad again; but after having travelled through Holland, France, and Italy, hs returned to Denmark, and resumed his functions at the university. In 1747 he was created a baron; and by that time he had amassed a good deal of money— partly by strict economy, and partly by the sale of his works. Holberg disposed of his fortune in rather a singular manner. He presented the greater part of it to the aristocratic academy of Some, and bequeathed a considerable sum to create a fund, the interest of which was to be given as dowries to young ladies. He died unmarried, in the seventieth year of his age, in January, 1764.
Ludwig Holberg has been called " the Moliere of the North ;" he wrote between thirty and forty comedies, which abound in wit and humour, and ridicule the foibles of society in his day and country; but the humour, it must be confessed, is frequently low, and not exactly suitable to the refinement of modern taste. His historical writings were also numerous: among these were an " Introduction to the General History of Europe; "A Description of Denmark and Norway -, " A History of Denmark;" " A General History of the Church;" " A History of Celebrated Characters;" "A History of the Jews "&c. He also published "Moral Fables" and "Moral reflections". But the two works which most contributed to his fame, were his " Peder Paars," a mock heroic poem, somewhat in the style of " Hudibras;" and "Niels Kliim's Subterranean Journey," designated by a Danish writer as " a philosophical romance," a satirical work, which has been translated into most of the languages of Europe. To him could not be applied one of his own remarks in his " Moral Reflections," viz., " A portion of the lives of mankind is spent in doing evil—a still larger portion in doing nothing at all—"and often a whole life in useless employments." The truth of another paragraph in his " Reflections/' may excuse its being translated and quoted here.
"One often finds," says the acute observer, "that those folks who make the greatest fuss about their occupations, do the least; just as those cocks crow most, who crow worst—those hens cackle most, who produce fewest eggs—and those cats mew the most, who are the laziest mousers."
Assuredly cats, poultry, and human beings, are much the same now as they were in Holberg's days.
A contemporary and fellow-collegian of Holberg, Hans Gram, distinguished himself much by his researches into the history of the North; a study for which he had good opportunities, being Royal Historiographer and Keeper of the Public Records. But his merits as an historian were surpassed by those of his successor in office, Jacob Langebek. Aalborg was his native place, and at thirteen years of age he went to reside with Gram, whose private secretary he became. Thus early trained to study, Langebek acquired vast stores of historical information, which were given to the Danish world in some Latin works, and also in The Danish Magazine, one of the earliest periodicals that appeared in Denmark. He was frequently employed in travelling to remote parts of the country, to examine the libraries, archives, and manuscripts, which had been collected in the old monasteries and other institutions. Langebek died in 1775. Another writer of that period, whose works are valued by his country¬men, was Erik Pontoppidan, Bishop of Bergen. His subjects were theo¬logical discussions, history, and natural history; and he wrote in Latin, German, and Danish. He also published a Danish Atlas.
Andreas Hojer, a historian and writer on jurisprudence; Kofod Anker, the able reviser of the laws; Jena Kraft, one of the most learned men that Denmark ever produced, whose works were chiefly on mechanics, logic, and metaphysics; the elder Sneedorff; Guldberg; Adolph Carstens ; Gerhard Schøning; and Peter Frederick Suhm, the latter of whom died in 1798, were all persons of literary fame in the north of Europe, and flourished about the middle of the eighteenth century. Langebek, Schoning, and Suhm — historians of note — were intimate friends and coadjutors. The " Orkneyinga Saga", "Landnama Saga", " Hervarar Saga," and many others, were printed at the expense of Chamberlain Suhm. This gentleman was possessed of a large fortune, which he principally applied to the promotion of literature, and the advancement of science. His library, which had cost about 20,000£, passed at bis death to the royal library of Copenhagen.
In 1785, a monthly publication, entitled The Minerva, was started in Copenhagen by Professor Rahbek, who published, early in this present century, his "Useful Compendium of Danish Authors, in two volumes". He was assisted in establishing The Minerva by Mr. Pram, a poet and writer of essays, who, when somewhat advanced in life, accepted an ap¬pointment in the Danish West India colony of St. Thomas, which he held until his death, about the year 1818.
Captain Abrahamson, an officer of artillery, who devoted himself much to the service of the Muses, and was a clever writer on many subjects, became a contributor to this periodical; and it was well supported both by authors and the public for a number of years. The Minerva was made the receptacle of political, as well as of literary articles; it became the champion of freedom; and one of those who wrote for it, the Rev. Mr. Birckner, at length ventured to publish a separate work on the liberty of the press. This was so favourably received by the nation at large, that the author escaped the censure of the government; not so, however, the reviewer of his book, Mr. Collet Perhaps he expressed his sentiments too freely; but at any rate he gave so much offence to the higher powers, that he was dismissed from his office—that of a judge in Copenhagen. Upon this he went to the West Indies; and in the Danish island of St. Croix obtained a lucrative legal situation, which the home government was not so vindictive as to take from him.
But his disgrace in Copenhagen did not prove a sufficient warning to others: for the elder Heiberg, a popular dramatist, and one of the wittiest men of the day, introduced such satirical political allusions on the stage, as well as giving his sentiments so freely through the medium of the press, that he made himself liable to a prosecution; and the result was his banishment, in 1800, from Denmark. Another distinguished Danish writer was banished from a similar cause, about the same time. This was Malthe Conrad Bruun, who, under the name of Malte Brun, has acquired European celebrity as an eminent geographer. The little work of his which gave such umbrage as to decide his doom, was entitled, "The Catechism of the Aristocrats," and was probably written in consequence of his having adopted too warmly the republican principles which, emanating from France during the first French revolution, spread rapidly among the tetes exaltees of other and more sober countries.
Bruun and Heiberg both repaired to Paris, where the latter speedily obtained a situation in the Foreign Office, in consequence of his being an admirable linguist; and the former also won his way to employment and to fame. It is odd that Denmark should thus have discarded her greatest astronomer, Tycho Brahe; and, at a later period, her greatest geographer, Malte Brun. Malte Brun died in 1826, at the age of fifty-one; Heiberg did not die till 1841, and was then in his eighty-fourth year.
Frederick Hugh Guldberg, son of the Guldberg before mentioned, and a contemporary of Malte Brun, was a poet of some reputation; but, being a professor, and a tutor in the royal family, he did not deal in seditions pamphlets. His poetry was of a serious cast, as will be seen by the following specimen, which is an extract from an ode written in a churchyard :
Home of the happy dead, all hail! In thee
A refuge for each rank, sex, age, we see.
The sun awakes them to no tearful morrow,
Nor gleams the moon on nights of sleepless sorrow.
Peace be with all who rest in thy embrace!
— From him, the offspring pf a noble race,
Whose name and deeds far generations prize—
To him, whose humble dust forgotten lies!
Calmed are the living, too, by thy repose;
And through the solemn gloom thy shadow throws.
The trembler seeks, while Fate's dark thunders roar,
A distant glimpse of Hope's enchanting shore.
Each wanderer from the world that hither strays,
Upon thy mounds and hillocks green to gaze,
May feel his passions stilled, and gain that peace
Which has alone the power to bid earth's sorrows
He whom disease hath marked with pallid cheek,
May here behold the rest he soon must seek;
From grave to grave, whilst leaning on his crutch,
He moves—and learns the lesson needed much.
How many come to seek a loved, lost friend!
With bitter grief over his tomb they bend,
Till something whispers that their grief is vain,
And bids them dream of meeting once again.
Tes ; hail to thee, garden of death!
For here, 'Midst quiet graves, their heads sweet flow'rets rear ;
The trees we plant ourselves shall one day bloom
In careless beauty o'er our lowly tomb.
That which to us but deep repose appears,
Where human dust is gathered years on years
— Ah! is, in truth, eternity's dark gate!
Over these tombs may angel-forms await!
Then tell thy soul—these seeming sleepers rise
From death to endless life, above yon distant skies!
These are rather melancholy lines ; therefore we shall not follow Guldberg further in his meditations among the tombs, but take one or two trifles from a Norwegian author, Claus Fastning, of Bergen, who lived between the years 1746 and 1791, and was somewhat celebrated for his epigrams.
TO THE REJECTED SUITOR OF A YOUNG LADY.
" I came, I saw, I conquered," we are told
Was mighty Caesar's boast in days of old.
Like him, you came, you saw, indeed—but hold!
The third you failed in, though you were so bold.
TO A FOOL, WHO WAS ABOUT TO TRAVEL INTO FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
O thou, ridiculous and rich,
Who fain a traveller would be,
Hearken, I pray, to this distich :
Learn all, see all that thou canst
But take good care that none know thee!