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The same author has recently given us a specimen of Eddaic English, addressed to an individual who had manifested great interest in promoting northern literature. The occasion it may be well to name, as similar acts of liberality are rare. Mr. John Heath, an English gentleman residing at Copenhagen, from a desire to make known to the people of Iceland the most noble poem of which the English language can boast, printed, at his own expense, the masterly Icelandic translation of Milton's Paradise Lost, by John Thorlakson, a poet with whose name we are familiar, by the honorable mention of him in Henderson's Iceland. This translation is in the same poetical measure as the Edda, and is marked by the alliterative character which distinguishes the poetry of the North. It was presented by Mr. Heath to the Icelandic Society, which, in return, voted him their thanks in a poem, adapted to the same metre as that of Thorlakson, with an English translation. The original, and translation, were written by Finn Magnusen. The following extract will give a correct idea of the character of Scandinavian poetry, written by an Icelander, in imitation of the Edda:
First of men,
• Milton sang
This matchless chaunt,
One of the most curious works connected with this subject, is one of which a translation first appeared in Copenhagen in 1768, entitled, Konungs Skuggsia. The original was composed and written in Iceland between 1185 and 1202, during the reign of King Sverrer; probably by his command, or under his auspices. The author is supposed to have been an individual who had filled some office at court. The volume is in the form of a dialogue between himself and his sons, in which he instructs them in the following topics: The manner of life and usages of merchants; decorous and prudent conduct of seamen and men of business; necessity of arithmetic, astronomy, knowledge of sea currents, of the daily progress of the sun, and the coinmon course of winds in the different seasons; information respecting Iceland; authentic accounts of Greenland; accounts of the whale fish in the northern seas; the usages at court; description of weapons of war. Also, observations on the fine arts, on virtues and accomplishments, on religion, justice, and the science of government. The advice here given, if listened to by the class to which it is addressed, might be productive of good results.
'When thy capital amounts to a considerable sum, divide it into
three parts. Invest one third with honest and able merchants, who abide in the best trading places; the other two thirds divide in different places, and employ in commercial journeys, for thus it is not likely that in any case all thy fortune should be sacrificed. But if thou hast amassed very large stores of wealth, then employ two thirds of it in the purchase of land, the safest of all possessions, both for thyself and thy family; and thus, if it please thee, thou canst employ the other third in thy wonted trade; but when thou art satisfied, when thou hast seen the manners of foreign lands, and undertaken many voyages and trading journeys, thou mayest withdraw. Yet remember all thou hast seen, both of good and evil; the evil that thou mayest avoid it; the good, to profit by it, not alone for thy own benefit, but for the benefit of all who will be counselled by thee.'
The Sagas, which embrace the larger part of Northern literature, consist of separate manuscripts on parchment, written and composed by the historians of the country. Before the introduction of Roman letters, the most ancient were preserved in oral tradition, and have since been reduced to writing. A Saga is, properly speaking, a history, and contains the history of the most celebrated personages, whether a king or subordinate chieftain, written in a style of antique simplicity, and interspersed with metrical passages, to aid the memory of the reciter. The greater part of the Sagas were written in Iceland, while that remote spot was the seat of learning. The peculiar circumstances in which its inhabitants were placed, as it were shut out from the rest of the world, led them to protect and cultivate the germs of literature which their original colonists took with them from the continent. The propagation of Christianity was another incentive to cultivate letters, and preserve, in a historical form, the most prominent events of their history. The Sagas are divided into four classes, as has been before mentioned; and being chiefly in the Icelandic language, have not, until recently, received the attention they merited; many of them have only been discovered during the last century, since which time they have been but partially examined. From the extensive field for antiquarian and historical research, which is about to be spread before the world, the limits of a single article will only permit of speaking of the more recent discoveries. The light which the Sagas are enabled to throw on the early history of Great Britain and Ireland, render them of great value, as they prove the connexion that existed between those islands and the countries of the North, and point to the latter as the source whence Ireland received a portion of its earliest population. The predatory inroads of the Northmen on the British and Irish coasts, commenced at a very early period, and resulted in the permanent settlement of parts of those countries, and the founding of independent kingdoms. The names of the principal geographical divisions of Ireland are partly of northern origin; the Irish names being Laighean, Munhain, Ulladh; to which add the northern word stadr, or ster, (place,) and we have Leinster, Munster, and Ulster.* Other districts and
*Ster, or star, presents a close analogy with the Hindu word stan, (place,) the latter being applied in the same way as in Hindu-stan, Afgani-stan, Rajah-stan-meaning the place of the Hindus, etc.
towns in Ireland, many of the latter of which are still known, are alluded to in the Icelandic Sagas: Kunnaktir, or Connaught; Dyflin, or Dublin; Hlimrek, or Limerick; Vedrafiord, or Waterford, etc.
The Irish accounts of the coming of the Eastmen to their country, go as far back as the year 795. In the reign of King Nial III., about the year 836, they relate that Turgesius, King of Norway, came, with a considerable fleet, and succeeded in fixing himself permanently on the island.* After his death, three of his brothers came, whose names are given in the Irish annals, which personages have been identified by their names in the Icelandic Sagas, making due allowance for the change of pronunciation in the two countries, a circumstance of great importance, as it tests the truth of both. The accounts of several voyages and expeditions to Ireland subsequent to this period, are given at length in the Icelandic Sagas. Kormak Saga states, that King Harald Grafeld went there in person, and fought a battle. During the reign of the same monarch, one Hoskuld bought, at a fair held at Brenneyiar, in Halland, a daughter of the Irish King Myrkiartan, named Melkorka, who must have been taken there from Ireland a captive to some vi-king. He took her to Iceland, and had by her a son named Olaf Pa, who was taught the Irish language by his mother, and at her desire made a visit to her father, King Myrkiartan, in Ireland. A circumstantial account of his voyage there is given in the Laxdela Saga. Another interesting narrative is that of a celebrated Icelandic Skald, Gunnlaug Ormstunga, who visited King Ethelred, in England, in the year 1006, and the year following crossed over to Dublin, thence to the Orkneys, then under the dominion of the Jarl Sigurd Lödverson. He states that the language spoken by the people of England, Denmark, and Norway, was the same, but that in Ireland it was different. In the account of Olaf Pa, above referred to, it is stated that he, being taught the Irish language by his mother, was able to converse with the natives; the merchants of Iceland, on the contrary, could only by the aid of an interpreter.
About this period, (1014,) a remarkable battle was fought near Clontarf, in Ireland, which the northern records call the battle of Brian, from King Brian, who was the cause, and one of the heroes, of, the battle. A remarkable poem, to celebrate this battle, is preserved among the Icelandic manuscripts, and is thus given: It happened that a certain man named Darrud, who was walking in Caithness, in Scotland, saw suddenly twelve persons on horseback, who rode together to a lonely house, where they disappeared. Curious to know more concerning them, he followed thither, and, looking through a hole in the wall, perceived that they were women, and that they had set up a loom within the house, and made other preparations for weaving. These preparations were, however, of an unusual and appalling nature; for human heads, he saw, were used by them for weights, and human entrails for warp and woof; a sword
* O'HALLORAN'S History of Ireland, vol. 2, p. 158.
+ Exposition of the oldest Icelandic and Norwegian Accounts of Ireland, p. 6, in the Annals and Memoirs of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries.
served the purpose of a lathe, and arrows of shuttles. dames, meanwhile, began their work, chaunting, as they proceeded with it, the following song:
'Wide is expanded
Omen of slaughter,
The cloud of the loom.*
A livid woof.
The web is made
Of the entrails of men;
Hilda is at the weaving,
Weave we, weave we
Where Gunna and Göndul
Weave we, weave we
To choose who shall fall.
Ireland shall suffer
The field is cleared;
The weak remnant of men.
Now to look round:
A sanguine cloud
The air is stained
They who chaunt the dirge. Exposition of the oldest Icelandic Royal Society of Northern Antiquarians.
We sing good fortune
Mount we our steeds!
Upon this they tore the web asunder, each retaining the piece she held in her hand. Darad now withdrew from the opening where he had been standing, and returned home; but the women mounted their horses, and gallopped off, six to the south, and six to the north.¶ Another narrative, still more interesting, is found in the Eyrbyggia Saga, a short account of which is given in the work last quoted. During the reign of the King Saint-Õlaf, (about 1028,) an Icelander named Gudleif, sailed on a commercial expedition for Iceland. From the western coast of this Island he was driven by a tempest far out to sea in the direction of south-west, and came to a country whose inhabitants spoke a language which he and his people did
ti. e. portending battle.
accounts of Ireland, p. 10, published by the
not understand. They fell in with a man there, who conversed with them in Icelandic, and who, on their departure, sent a message by them to his native country. In this narrative, no name whatever is assigned the land in question; but in another, it is related, that the Icelander, Ari Marsson, was, (about 982,) in the course of a sea voyage, driven to Hvitramannalazd, (the white men's land,) or, as it is called by others, Great Ireland, (Ireland hit mikla,) which land is described as situate in the ocean, toward the west, near Vinland hit go da. Ari, the legend goes on to state, was baptized and remained there, and the whole account of his adventure was obtained from one Rafn, surnamed Hlimreksfari, from his trading to Limerick in Ireland.
These accounts perfectly harmonize with the accounts of the early voyages made by the Irish, and tend to prove that either some large island, or the continent of America, was known to the Irish, at the time the celebrated Prince Madoc, of Wales, undertook his expedition to unknown lands, which, it is said, resulted in the discovery of America.
The most important information which the investigation of the Saga manuscripts has made known, is that relating to America. The work announced three or four years since by the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, of Copenhagen, has just appeared, and reflects great credit on the society, both for the beautiful style in which it is got up, and for the valuable historical matter which it contains. The limits of this article will not admit of a particular synopsis of the contents of this work. The following Sagas appear at length in it, and sundry extracts from ancient Danish manuscripts:
'First the historical accounts of Erik the Red, and the Greenlanders, extracted and now for the first time accurately published -- from the celebrated Codex Flateyensis, particularly concerning BIARNE HERIULFSON'S and LEIF ERICSON's first discovery of the American Islands and Coasts, and the several voyages thither, performed by Leif's brothers and sister. Next the Saga of THORFINN THORDSON surnamed KARLSEFNE, descended from Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Ancestors, chiefly taken from two ancient MSS. never before edited, and in fact not previously known to the Literati, the one of which is supposed to be partly a genuine autograph of the celebrated Hauk Erlendson, Lawman of Iceland, well known as a compiler of one of the Recensions of the Landnama-book. This very remarkable Saga contains detailed accounts of Thorfinn Karlsefne's and his company's three years voyages and residence in America, whereby an entirely new light is diffused over this subiect hitherto so little known. The only knowledge that Torfæus had of this Saga, which he imagined to be lost, was derived from some corrupted extracts of it contained in the collection of materials for the history of ancient Greenland left by the Iceland Farmer Biörn Johnson of Skardso. It is now for the first time submitted to the literary world in a complete form. The work here announced, moreover, contains every thing else that the Society has been able to collect and discover relating to that knowledge of the New World which our forefathers obtained from the early discoveries and researches of the Northmen. Among these we may mention, 1. Adam of Bremen's accounts of VINELAND (in America) written in the eleventh century, being in fact communicated to him by the Danish King Sweyn Estrithison, and compiled from authentic accounts furnished to him by Danes, and now for the first time published from the excellent Codex in the Imperial Library at Vienna, of which a Fac simile has been transmitted to the Society by the Chief of the Library, Count Dietrichstein. 2. Are Frode's account of Vineland, written in the same or in the following century; and also 3, of the eminent Icelandic chief ARE MARSON, One of his own ancestors, who in the year 983 was driven to a part of America situate near Vineland, then called HVITRAMANNALAND OF GREAT IRELAND, whose inhabitants (of Irish origin) prevented him from returning, but at the same time treated him with great respect. 4. Other ancient accounts respecting the Icelandic hero BIÖRN ASBRANDSUN, in his day one of the Iomsburg Warriours under Palnatoke, and fighting along with them in the battle of Fyrisval in Sweden: he also, in the year 999, repaired to one of the coasts of America, where he was detained in the same manner, but resided there 26