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writers, and that the chief reason why this has not hitherto been obtained has been owing to the want of an easy and popular illustratior, I have been tempted, in the view of doing justice to productions of much merit, and with the hope of contributing to a freer introduction into our poetry of the daring and enthusiastic features of northern superstition, to occupy a few hours in evolving its most striking and magnificent peculiarities.
In carrying this plan into execution I shall endeavour by beautiful quotation, critical discussion, and poetic imitation,' to render the subject attractive, and to enable the reader to enter into the spirit of images and allusions which, I trust, will in future "be more frequently found scattered through the body of our poetry.
To detail, however, every fiction which the lawless imagination of a rude people prone to war and to credulity has engendered, would be superfluous and absurd. There are among the terrible and sublime pictures of the gothic mythology many scenes equally puerile and extravagant, and therefore totally inconsistent with the higher departments of the Muse. To distinguish those which appear best calculated to embellish our epic, dramatic and lyric poetry, I wish should be understood as the principal intention of these papers.
At that period of the Roman Republic when Mithridates flying before the arms of Pompey, implored the friendship and assistance of the Scythians, Oprn, the Chieftain of the Ases, 4 people occupying Georgia, and nearly the entire tract of country between the Euxine and the Caspian sea, alarmed at the destructive progress of the Romans, and dreading even worse than death the imperious mandates of the Conqueror, deserted with his whole tribe the country of his fathers, and, pursuing a north westerly course, sought for liberty and independence in the wilds of Scandinavia. Here he was received with that . hospitality and admiration to which the superior prowess and civilization of himself and his people were entitled ; Denmark, Norway and Sweden were subdued by the arms or by
the arts of Odin, and he gradually imparted to the North of Europe his religion, bis manners, and his military enthusiasm.
It is the ingenious supposition of some literary men that, animated by a spirit of profound revenge against the enslavers of mankind, the Asiatic Chief led his hordes into Scandinavia as a nursery of future heroes who, , at some distant period, should pour in torrents on the devoted empire, and retaliate the injuries inflicted on their founder. A conjecture so pleasing as this, and which in a manner so striking accounts for the dreadful ravages of those ferocious despots, Alaric and Attila, the mind dismisses with reluctance though founded on no authority. It gives indeed so romantic a colouring to one of the most important events in history, a colouring so well adapted to the purposes of the poet, that its total want of support must to him be a subject of regret. In this light has it been considered by Gibbon, when he observes,
“ this wonderful expedition of Odin, by deducing the enmity of the Goths and Romans from so memorable a cause, might supply the noble ground work of an epic
It will appear, I should hope, from these sketches, that gothic fiction is admir, ably calculated to supply so bold an outline with a machinery of the most sublime and impressive cast. Had Gray ever conquered his indolence so far as to have pursued this path to fame, he would most probably have convinced us that the same fire and anima. tion which from this source breathe through all the accents of his lyre, might glow with eyen superior spirit in the deeper intonations of the epic shell.
Returning, however, from this digression, to the character of Odin, it would appear, that he was, in every respect, formed to mould the people among whom he came, to all his purposes of ambition. He was in Asiatic Scythia merely the High Priest of the established religion, and which acknowledged one supreme God, under the name of Odin, a name which, in Scandinavia, he at length had the address to appropriate to himself, and waving the subordinate title of prophet or pontiff, boldly claimed the ho- , nours due to the deity, and taught, to these rudę and wondering savages, a new system of
mythology, very widely different from the simple creed of his ancestors. An attempt, so daring as this, required, for its completion, powers of a very superior order and appli, cable to every occasion. These, in all their varied form, appear, from the records of tradition and history, to have centered in this extraordinary man. Intrepid valour, the first of all virtues in the estimation of uncultivated society, was the peculiar characteristic of Odin, and the basis on which he erected his system of religion. In the hour of battle such was his invincible prowess, that he inspired his opponents with the utmost apprehension and horror, so that, rushing through their ranks, he hewed them to pieces, whilst, not unfrequently, he himself remained uninjured amid the surrounding carnage.
To this necessary qualification of animal courage were added, in our Gothic Hero, what was equally essential, a perfect insight into the characters of the conquered, and the art to avail himself of their credulity and ignorance. To a people so very rude as were the Scandinavians, the knowledge which Odin possessed of letters, and the art of