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indefinitely, it would cut off the southern extremity of Vancouver's Island, with little advantage to America, and great injury if we shall ever occupy that island, to England; we think that it should cease to be the boundary when it reaches the coast, and that from thence the boundary should be the sea. This would give to us the whole of Vancouver's Island, which, if we are absurd enough to plant a colony in the Northern Pacific, is the least objectionable seat. It possesses excellent ports, a tolerable climate, and some cultivable soil-an ascertained and defensible frontier—and the command of the important straits, by which, to the east and to the south, it is separated from the Continent. That its distance from Europe would render it a costly, unprofitable incumbrance, is true; but that objection applies with equal force to every part of Oregon.

NOTE to the Article on Mr Prescott's History of the Conquest

of Mexico,' contained in the foregoing Number,

We are happy to be able to mention, on the very best authority—that of the distinguished historian himself-that our statement in the above article, as to his blindness, is thus far unwarranted, that he fortunately enjoys the use of one of his eyes ; though he has been occasionally afflicted with some degree of weakness even in it. We therefore feel ourselves called upon thus to undeceive those who may have been misled regarding this interesting particular, by the statement which, relying on what we thought credible information, we happened to make ; and this the more, that it seems to be his wish—and it is one worthily entertained—that a circumstance which might appear 'to give him a degree of merit beyond what he is entitled to, on

the score of conquering difficulties,' should not be allowed to remain before the world without any correction.

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Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.

THE

EDINBURGH REVIEW,

OCTOBER, 1845.

No. CLXVI.

ART. 1.— The Heimskringla ; or, Chronicle of the Kings of

Norway. Translated from the Icelandic of SNORRO STURLEson, with a Preliminary Dissertation, by Samuel Laing, Esq. 3 vols. 8vo. London : 1845.

THE
The appearance of this remarkable work, in a form only now,

for the first time, made accessible to English readers, by a writer of ability and reputation, must assist in extending that growing interest in Northern History which is due to its importance, and its connexion with our own.

The fanciful title of Heimskringla, is borrowed from the Icelandic words Kringla Heimsins, or the World's Circle. They occur near the beginning of the text, and appear to have given their names to some of the manuscripts now lost; and they still catch the eye in a conspicuous ornament of the Frisian Codex. A very small arc, however, of the world's circle' is thus attempted to be described ; and the proper name of the book is Konunga Söyur,—the Sagas, or, as Mr Laing translates it, the • Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. It is believed to have been written, or at least completed, shortly before 1230, in which year a fair transcription of it was made in Iceland by a relative of its author ; being apparently the source from which the other copies have been derived. It continued to be copied till a comparatively late period ; and a Norwegian manuscript is extant

VOL. LXXXII. NO. CLXVI.

T

bearing the date of 1567, but not extending to the whole work. After that time, translations of it, more or less complete, were made into the modern languages of Scandinavia; and of these the most recent, that of the venerable Jacob Aal, into an antique Danish, published in 1838, deserves particular mention; as being, in Mr Laing's opinion, an excellent version, and forming a handsome people's edition' in quarto-rather portly, perhaps, for the taste prevailing on this side the North Sea, but not the less popular on that account with the Norwegian bönder, who are said to venerate their Sagas as only second to their Bibles. The Icelandic text of the Heimskringla was originally edited, in 1697, by the Swedish antiquary Peringskiold; who, with some jealousy and some justice, has been denounced by the Danish writers as neither critical nor correct; and it was again published in the elaborate and excellent edition of Copenhagen, in six volumes folio ; under the charge, successively, of Schoning, the elder Thorlacius, the younger Thorlacius and Werlauff ;of which the first portion appeared in 1777, and the last, after many interruptions, in 1826.

The Heimskringla deduces the Chronicle of Norway from the earliest times—or in other words, from the age of fable and fiction--to about the middle of the reign of Magnus Erlingsson, in the year 1177. The later volumes of the Copenhagen edition contain other Sagas,- bringing down the Norwegian history about another hundred years ; but these, as the composition of other authors, are not included in Mr Laing's translation.

Snorro, or, according to the Icelandic form of the name, Snorri Sturleson, the author or compiler of the Heimskringla, was remarkable alike for his literary talents, and for the part he acted in public affairs; and his life and death present a striking picture of the age and country to which he belonged. He was born in the year 1178 in the pleasant valley of Hvamm, in the western quarter of Iceland, and could boast of not merely noble, but royal descent. He was brought up in the distinguished family of the Loptsons, the near relatives or immediate descendants of Sæmund, the supposed collector of the first Edda ; and he had thus every facility and inducement to follow the footsteps, as he almost rivalled the reputation, of that celebrated person. Snorro, however, was not a mere student or antiquary, but an accomplished man of the world, both in the milder and harsher signification of the phrase. Possessed of little patrimony, he amassed a princely fortune, mainly by his matrimonial alliances, having received a considerable portion with his first wife, whom he divorced or deserted for no other apparent cause than that he might form a still more profitable union with a rich widow. His second marriage was childless, but he seems always to have been ready to console himself by less ceremonious and more prolific connexions; and had several children by other three females with whom he cohabited, whether successively or simultaneously does not clearly appear. By his conduct or temper he was involved in continual quarrels, often of a sanguinary character, with his neighbours, his near relatives, and even his own children. His habits, though both luxurious and licentious, were not such as to impair his wealth or relax his application to either business or literature. He held, on several occasions, the highest office that his country could bestow—that of Lögsögumatir, or Judicial President of the Icelandic Diet; in which he was called upon to administer those laws which he had never been very careful to obey. He visited Norway first in 1221, and lived for some time in great favour at the court of Haco, to wbich his poetical gifts furnished powerful recommendations, and where he possessed many advantages for writing or enlarging his history. His second visit thither, in 1237, was attended with less happy results, as it involved him in the fortunes of an unsuccessful aspirant to the throne; and led to his being denounced as a traitor by the Norwegian King, who issued injunctions to put him to death. Shortly afterwards, in 1241, he was attacked in his splendid residence at Reikholt in Iceland, and murdered in his sixty-third year, by his three sons-in-law, with whom he had long lived on terms of enmity. The truth of the charge made against Snorro, that he sought to sell his country's independence to Norway, it is not very easy, nor perhaps very important, to determine. That he was capable of such an act is clear; and the feuds and jealousies of the Icelandic aristocracy had for some time encouraged the intrigues, and almost called for the interference, of the Norwegian monarch; so that the annexation of Iceland to the mother country, which took place in 1261, was, in one form or other, a consummation devoutly to be wished; as terminating a fearful and calamitous system of private warfare and reciprocal persecution. In those shameful transactions, the family of Snorro were conspicuously active; and the 'Sturlunga tid,' or days of the Sturlungs, were spoken of as reviving, on a narrower stage, the worst scenes in the civil contests of Marius and Sylla.

It will be inferred, from the short sketch now given, that Snorro was more distinguished by his talents than by his virtues. His abilities and accomplishments are proved by the writings he has left, while his selfish and ambitious disposition is conspicuous in his whole career. His biographers speak of

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