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Her mouth flamed like a rose, and like the ruby stone,
With roses she bedecked had well her head,
Her hands and her arms, you nought in them could blame,
She set upon her head high a crown of gold red,
Elberich endeavours to persuade her to become a Christian, and espouse Otnit; and to convince her of the incapacity of her gods, he tumbles their images into the fosse. Overcome by his representations and her father's danger, the princess, with her mother's consent, agrees to wed the monarch, whom Elberich points out to her in the battle, and she gives her ring to be conveyed to him. The Dwarf, unperceived, leads her out of the city, and delivers her to her future husband, strictly forbidding all intercourse between them, previous to the maiden's baptism *.
When the old heathen misses his daughter he orders out his troops to recover her. Elberich hastens to king Elias, and brings up the Christians. A battle ensues : the latter are victorious, and the princess is brought to Sunders ;-ere they embark Elberich and Elias baptize her, and ere they reached Messina “ the noble maiden was a wife."
* So Oberon in Huon de Bordeaux.
As yet not intimately acquainted with Christianity, the young empress asks Otnit about his god, giving him to understand that she knew his deity, who had come to her father's to demand her for him. Otnit corrects her mistake, telling her that the envoy was Elberich, whom she then desires to see. At the request of Otnit the Dwarf reveals himself to the queen and court. Long time he refused,,he showed him then a stone, That like unto the sun, with the gold shone ; Ruby and carbuncle was the crown so rich, Which upon his head bare the little Elberich. The Dwarf let the people all see him then, They began to look upon him, both women and men ; Many a fair woman with rosy mouth then said, “I ween a fairer person no eye hath e'er survey'd.”
Then Elberich the little a harp laid hold upon ;
After giving Otnit abundance of riches, and counselling him to remunerate those who had lost their relatives in his expedition, Elberich takes leave of the king. He then vanishes, and appears
Otnit is the most pleasing poem in the Heldenbuch. Nothing can be more amiable than the character of the Dwarf, who is evidently the model of Oberon. We say this, because the probability is much greater that a French writer should have taken a Dwarf from a German poet, than that the reverse should have occurred. The connexion between the two works
indubitable. An attempt has been already made to trace the origin of Dwarfs, and the historical theory respecting those of the North rejected. A similar theory has been given of those of Germany, as being a people subdued between the fifth and tenth centuries by a nation of greater power and size. The vanquished fled to the mountains, and concealed themselves in caverns, only occasionally venturing to appear; and hence, according to this theory, the origin of Dwarf stories. As we regard them as an integrant part of Gothic religion, we must reject the hypothesis in the case of Germany also.
Our readers may like to see how the preface to the old editions of the Heldenbuch accounts for the origin of the Dwarfs.
“God," says it, "gave the Dwarfs being, because the land and the mountains were altogether waste and uncultivated, and there was much store of silver and gold, and precious stones and pearls still in the mountains. Wherefore God made the Dwarfs very artful and wise, that they might know good and evil right well, and for what every thing was good. They knew also for what stones were good. Some stones give great strength; some make those who carry them about them invisible, that is called a mist-cap (nebelkap); and therefore did God give the Dwarfs skill and wisdom. Therefore they built handsome hollow hills, and God gave them riches, &c."
“God created the Giants, that they might kill the wild beasts, and the great dragons (würm), that the Dwarfs might thereby be more secure. But in a few years the Giants would too much oppress the Dwarfs, and the Giants became altogether wicked and faithless.”
“ God then created the Heroes; "and be it known that the Heroes were for many years right true and worthy, and they then came to the aid of the Dwarfs against the faithless Giants ;'--God made them strong, and their thoughts were of manhood, according to honour, and of combats and war.”
We shall divide the objects of German popular belief at the present day into four classes :1. Dwarfs; 2. Wild women; 3. Kobolds ; 4. Nixes.
Fort, fort! Mich schau' die Sonne nicht
Ich darf nicht langer harren ;
La Motte Fouqué.
I dare no longer stay;
To stone turn at his ray.
THESE beings are called Zwerge (Dwarfs), Berg and Erdmänlein (Hill and Ground-mannikins), the Stille Volk (Still-people), and the Kleine Volk (Little-people). The following account of the Stillpeople at Plessè will give the popular idea respeeting them *
At Plessè, a castle in the mountains in Hesse, are various springs, wells, clefts, and holes in the rocks, in which, according to popular tradition, the Dwarfs, called the Still-people, dwell. They are silent and beneficent, and willingly serve those
* See Grimm's Deutsche Sagen, vol. i. p. 38. As this work is our chief authority for the Fairy Mythology of Germany, our materials are to be considered as taken from it, unless when otherwise expressed.