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was sought for in that form. Their prose compositions are chiefly of a didactic kind, and, generally speaking, are either homilies or translations from Latin works. It must be said, however, that the writings of Alfred, even where they profess to be mere translations, contain much that is excellent and original. And the homilies of Ælfric, now in course of publication by the Society which bears his name, will, for purity of language, for piety of feeling, and even for good taste and judgment, stand a comparison with many of the better writings of a much later and more lettered age.
Having given so much room to other topics, we cannot here attempt any detailed answer to Mr Laing's imputations as to the deficient courage or independence of the Anglo-Saxons, evinced in their having never made a vigorous resistance to the incursions of the Danes. It was not wonderful that after two centuries of security they should have been taken by surprise by those attacks, coming over them like a cloud, maintained with such desperate perseverance, and occurring at a period when England was but ill consolidated under a new form of government. But history shows that there was no serious or permanent prostration of the English spirit until the very beginning of the eleventh century, under the wretched reign of Ethelred the Unready; whose policy, in at one time attempting a massacre of the resident Danes, and at another paying tribute to the invaders, exhibited a melancholy compound of cruelty and cowardice. Neither shall we stop to examine Mr Laing's statistical estimate of the relative numbers of the Danes and Saxonsin England, immediately before the Conquest. The subject is attended with difficulty, but we believe a candid enquiry would show that the numerical importance of the Danish inhabitants was inconsiderable; and that the traces of their direct influence on our language, laws, and iustitutions, are comparatively slight. The universal conversion of the Pagan invaders favours the opinions we have expressed; and the conduct and policy of Canute appear to us to afford important evidence on the same points ;—as showing both the predominance of the Saxon language and manners in England, and that admiration of Saxon institutions which led him-certainly not a man of small gifts—to become so entirely English himself
, and to seek an extension of the English character and constitution to his own country.
In vindicating our Saxon forefathers from the reproaches which Mr Laing has poured upon them, we shall not retaliate by disparaging their Scandinavian kinsmen, or calling in question the justice of his eulogiums on their glory and greatness. We might easily, here and there, fasten upon some exaggerated
VOL, LXXXII. NO. CLXVI.
pictures, and recall the memory of vices and defects which Mr Laing has softened or forgotten. But we write, not in the spirit of a party or sect, but as the friends of liberality and right feeling ; and we readily sympathize in those glowing representations which have a foundation in truth, and derive their high colouring from generous and patriotic emotions. We would wish indeed that all the tribes of Teutonic kindred, embracing, we believe, a hundred millions of mankind, should look on each other with a kindly partiality,—not excluding from their love those other nations to whom they are bound by more distant ties, but glorying with a natural pride in the common honours of their Teutonic ancestry. Of none of the children of the house, whether Goth or Frank, Saxon or Scandinavian, have the others any reason to be ashamed. All have earned the gratitude and admiration of the world, and their combined or successive efforts have made England and Europe what they now are.
The length to which our general observations have extended, will allow us only to bestow a few sentences on the particular work which, as here presented to us, suggested, and seemed to call for them. The Heimskringla possesses high merit in its own class. It does not contribute much to correct historical narrative, and it leaves chronology as confused as before; but it has a pictorial vigour and vivacity which may enliven and illustrate the dulness of more accurate recitals. We see the old Northman precisely as he was, when history first speaks of him ; or, what is nearly the same thing, as he was believed to be in the times that immediately followed. We breathe in another scene the spirit of kindred men, whose home was on the deep, and who were proud to relinquish their share of a rocky heritage on shore, for their chance of what the sea and its adventures might yield to their energy and enterprise. We mix with Kings and leaders that could not match in wealth or influence with an English squire or a Scottish chief, but who show us the early elements of our social life in their most disunited state. We meet with examples of insecurity, and scenes of violence and disorder, that reconcile us to the tame tenor of peaceful subordination : and again, amidst anarchy and bloodshed,
find those redeeming features of kindliness and better feeling, which tell of the mingled principles that war within our nature for the mastery. Touches of tenderness, or traits of beauty, we are rarely or never presented with; but in their place we have much that is true and valuable,--the representation of actual and energetic life depicted by one whose eye and hand did full justice to his love of his subject.
Mr Laing's translations of the old strains, and snatches of
poetry interspersed in the narratives of the Heimskringla, are, on the whole, tolerably successful. But we must own that we scarcely at first recognised, in the following somewhat fantastic verses, the simple rhythm and manly force of our old acquaintance the Biarkamál, as sung at the Battle of Stiklestad :
• The day is breaking-
Hare of the blow,
'Tis Hildur's game that bides your waking.' We venture to subjoin a simpler and soberer version, which we think less distant from the mark; and we add below the original Icelandic, to facilitate the task of those who are inclined to make a comparison.* • The day is up; the cock's proud plumes make a resounding din; The hour is come when thralls at home their weary work begin: Awake, arise, and yet again, companions dear, awake, Ye who with me in Athil's train an honour'd place would take. · Hår of the hand that gripes so hard !-Hrolf that can bend the bow! All men of good and gallant blood that fly not from a foe ; I wake you not to wine, my friends, or woman's whisper'd vow; 'Tis Hilda's rude and ruthless game to which I wake you now.'
* Dagr er uppkominn, dynia hana Dies jam exortus est, galli plumæ susfiadrir,
urrant, Mál er vilmögum at vinna erfidi. Tempus est ut servi ad labores se conVaki æ oc vaki, vina höfud,
ferant. Allir enir ædsto Adils of sinnar. Vigilent, iterumque vigilent cara ca
pita, Omnes præstantissimi Adilsi comites.
• Hår hinn hardgreipi, Hrolfr skio.
tandi, Aettum godir menn, their er ei
flya. Veckat ec ydr at víni, ne at vífs
Hare, manu fortis, Hrolfe jaculator,
Mr Laing may not succeed in one object, which he tells us he proposed to himself in his present undertaking—that of producing a work that shall be attractive for the common man. The Heimskringla, we fear, has too many strange names and obscure allusions ; assumes too much knowledge of distant scenes, events, and manners; and, what is a greater obstacle, has too little moral or imaginative attraction to be ever popular with the general
gender. But he has nevertheless done excellent service to English literature by this translation, which sets before us a vivid picture of characters and customs connected, and yet contrasted, with our own; and we therefore strenuously recommend its racy delineations to the perusal of all students of the early history of our country and countrymen.
Art. II.-1. Actenmassige Darstellung Merkwŭrdiger Verbrechen.
Von Anselm RITTER VON FEUERBACH. (Narratives of Remarkable Crimes, compiled from the Official Records. By
Anselm von FeUERBACH.) Giessen: 1839. 2. Strafgesezbuch für das Königreich Bayern. (Penal Code of
the Kingdom of Bavaria.) Munich : 1838. ANSELM VON FEUERBACH was one of the most remarkable
men whom Germany has recently produced. He was eminent in practice and in theory, as a judge, as a legislator, and as a writer. He long and worthily presided in the highest criminal court of Bavaria ; he was the principal framer of the Bavarian penal code; his exposition of the general criminal law is a textbook throughout Germany; and the last of his works (mentioned above) places him in the first rank as a narrator and as a psychologist. Of some portions of this work, and of the system of procedure which it exemplifies, we propose to give a short account.
We must warn our readers, however, not to expect a German trial to afford to them the same sort of instruction, or the same kind of mental exercise, which they have been accustomed to find in the reports of English criminal proceedings. An English report is a drama in which the reader, unconsciously perhaps, becomes one of the principal actors. He unavoidably assumes the character of a juryman, and, with the exception that he reads the evidence instead of hearing it, he has all a juryman's means of arriving at a verdict. He has before him the opening speech
of the counsel for the prosecution, which states what is expected to be proved; the examination and cross-examination of the witnesses ; the defence by the prisoner's counsel; and the recapitulation and commentary of the judge. Each set of appearances and of conflicting inferences, is explained and enforced by an advocate, and they are then weighed before him, against one another, by an impartial and experienced moderator.
A more instructive exercise in the great business of life, the balancing of probabilities, can scarcely be imagined. But if, after having ascertained the prisoner's guilt, he wishes to account for it; if he wishes to inquire what were the accidents of natural disposition or of education which predisposed him to the commission of crime, or the circumstances which supplied the place of such a predisposition; if he wishes, in short, to make the prisoner a subject of philosophical inquiry, he gets no assistance from the English courts. The only question submitted to the jury, and the only question on which, therefore, evidence can be received, is, did the prisoner wilfully commit the act of which he is accused?
A bright light is endeavoured to be thrown on his conduct, immediately before and immediately after the occurrence which occasions the trial ; but, with the rare exception of the cases in which insanity is the defence, all the rest of his history is left in darkness. Even as to the narrow question which alone is allowed to be investigated, the reader must often be struck by the inadequacy of the means employed. A trial resembles one of those games, in which the problem is to effect a certain object, complying with certain conditions imposed for the express purpose of creating difficulty, and giving room to chance. That the accused, and those who are his judges, should be clearly informed what is the offence with which he is charged, or, in other words, that the trial should be preceded by an indictment, is proper; but is it rational that the omission of some technical. word, which neither the prisoner nor the jury would have remarked or have understood if it had been present or the variance of the fact laid, from the fact proved, in some utterly unimportant circumstance—should at once stop the proceedings; and exempt a man whose guilt is manifest, not only from immediate conviction, but sometimes even from further inquiry ? Again, it is quite right that the investigation should not be unnecessarily prolonged, that the accused should not be broken down by an indefinite imprisonment, or harassed by repeated and abortive trials. But the English rule that the trial, when once begun, should be continuous—that the unexpected absence of a witness, or some unforeseen want of proof, should produce an immediate acquittal,