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means he took for eluding it: "he thought with himself these Recken must all lose their lives." From this time, a grim reckless spirit takes possession of him; a courage, an audacity, waxing more and more into the fixed strength of desperation. The passage once finished, he dashes the boat in pieces, and casts it in the stream, greatly as the others wonder

at him.

as the royal eagle: for also in the brunt of battle he can play tunes; and with a Steel Fiddlebow, beats strange music from the cleft helmets of his enemies. There is, in this continual allusion to Volker's Schwer fielbogen, (Sword-fiddlebow,) as rude as it sounds to us, a barbaric greatness and depth; the light minstrel of kingly and queenly halls is gay also in the storm of Fate, its dire rushing pipes and whistles, to him: is he not the image of every brave man fighting with Necessity, be that duel when and where it may; smiting the fiend with giant strokes, yet every stroke musical?-This Volker and Hagen are united inseparably, and defy death together. "Whatever Volker said pleased Hagen; whatever Hagen did pleased Volker."

But into these last Ten Aventiures, almost like the image of a Doomsday, we must hardly glance at present. Seldom, perhaps, in the poetry of that or any other age, has a grander scene of pity and terror been exhibited than here, could we look into it clearly. At every new step new shapes of fear arise. Dietrich of Bern meets the Nibelungen on their way, with ominous warnings: but warnings, as we


In this shipment "into the unknown land” there fies, for the more penetrating sort of commentators, some hidden meaning and allusion. The destruction of the unreturning Ship, as of the Ship Argo, of Æneas's Ships, and the like, is a constant feature of such traditions: it is thought, this ferrying of the Nibelungen has a reference to old Scandinavian Mythuses; nay, to the oldest, most universal emblems shaped out by man's Imagina-said, are now superfluous, when the evil itself is apparent and inevitable. Chriemhild, wasted tion; Hagen the ferryman being, in some sort, a type of Death, who ferries over his thousands and exasperated here into a frightful Medea, and tens of thousands into a Land still more openly threatens Hagen, but is openly defied by him; he and Volker retire to a seat before But leaving these considerations, let us rein angry tears, with a crowd of armed Huns to her palace, and sit there, while she advances mark the deep fearful interest, which, in gathering strength, rises to a really tragical height in the close of this Poem. Strangely has the old Singer, in these his loose melodies, modulated the wild narrative into a poetic whole, with what we might call true art, were it not rather an instinct of genius still more unerring. A fateful gloom now hangs over the fortunes of the Nibelungen, which deepens and deepens as they march onwards to the judg-others also must share his punishment. Sinment-bar, till all are engulphed in utter night. Etzel's ignorance of what every one else ungularly touching, in the meanwhile, is king derstands too well; and how, in peaceful hospitable spirit, he exerts himself to testify his

But Hagen has Siegfried's destroy them. Balmung lying naked on his knee, the Minstrel also has drawn his keen Fidd ebow, and the would fain single out Hagen for vengeance; Huns dare not provoke the battle. Chriemhild but Hagen, like other men, stands not alone: and sin is an infection which will not rest with one victim. Partakers or not of his crime, the

Hagen himself rises in tragic greatness; so helpful, so prompt and strong is he, and true to the death, though without hope. If sin can ever be pardoned, then that one act of his isoy over these roval guests of his, who are pardonable; by loyal faith, by free daring, and bidden hither for far other ends. That night heroic constancy, he has made amends for it. the way worn Nibelungen are sumptuously Well does he know what is coming; yet he lodged; yet Hagen and Volker see good to goes forth to meet it, offers to Ruin his sullen keep watch: Volker plays them to sleep: "under the door of the house he sat on the welcome. Warnings thicken on him, which stone: bolder fiddler was there never any; he treats lightly, as things now superfluous. Spite of our love for Siegfried, we must pity and almost respect the lost Hagen, now in his extreme need, and fronting it so nobly. "Mixed was his hair with a gray colour, his limbs strong, and threatening his look." Nay, bis sterner qualities are beautifully tempered by another feeling, of which till now we under-they were to sleep no more.

when the tones flowed so sweetly they all gave him thanks. Then sounded his strings till all the house rang; his strength and the art were great, sweeter and sweeter he began to play, till fitted forth from him into sleep full many a care-worn soul." It was their last lullaby; Armed men

appear, but suddenly vanish, in the night; assassins sent by Chriemhild, expecting no sentinel: it is plain that the last hour draws nigh.

« Why do ye this, good brother 1" Said the Ritter Dank


wart then,

"How shall we cross this river, When the road we come Returning home from Hunland, Here must we lingering

again 1

stay 1"

Not then did Hagen tell him That return no more could they.

stood not that he was capable, the feeling of friendship. There is a certain Volker of Alsace here introduced, not for the first time, yet first in decided energy, who is more to Hagen than a brother. This Volker, a courtier and noble, is also a Spielmann, (minstrel,) a Fidelere gu', (fiddler good ;) and surely the prince of all Fideleres: in truth a very phoenix, melodious as the soft nightingale, yet strong

In the morning the Nibelungen are for the Minster to hear mass; they are putting on

gay raiment; but Hagen tells them a different tale: "Ye must take other garments, Recken;" instead of silk shirts, hauberks; for rich mantles your good shields;" "and, beloved


• See Von der Hagen's Nibelungen ihre Bedeutung, &c. I masters, moreover squires and men, ye shall

falarnestly go to the church, and plain to | brand, indignant at the wo she has wrought; God the powerful (Got dem richen) of your sor- King Etzel, there present, not opposing the row and utmost need; and know of a surety deed. Whereupon the curtain drops over that that death for us is nigh." In Etzel's Hall, wild scene, "the full highly honoured were where the Nibelungen appear at the royal lying dead; the people, all had sorrow and feast in complete armour, the Strife, incited by lamentation, in grief had the king's feast ended, Chriemhild, begins: the first answer to her as all love is wont to do; provocation is from Hagen, who hews off the head of her own and Etzel's son, making it bound into the mother's bosom :" "then began among the Recken a murder grim and great." Dietrich, with a voice of preternatural power, commands pause; retires with Etzel and Chriemhild; and now the bloody work has free course. We have heard of battles, and massacres, and deadly struggles in siege and storm; but seldom has even the poet's imagination pictured any thing so fierce and terrible as this. Host after host, as they enter that huge vaulted Hall, perish in the conflict with the doomed Nibelungen; and even after the terrific uproar, ensues a still more terrific silence. All night, and through morning it lasts. They throw the dead from the windows; blood runs like water; the Hall is set fire to, they quench it with blood, their own burning thirst they slake with blood. It is a tumult like the Crack of Doom, a thousand voiced, wild stunning hubbub: and, frightful like a Trump of Doom, the Sword-fiddlebow of Volker, who guards the door, makes music to that death-dance. Nor are traits of heroism wanting, and thrilling tones of pity and love; as in that act of Rudiger, Ezel's and Chriemhild's champion, who, bound by oath, "lays his soul in God's hand," and enters that Golgotha to die fighting against his friends; yet first changes shields with Hagen, whose own, also given him by Rudiger in a far other hour, had been shattered in the fight. "When he so lovingly bade give him the shield, there were eyes enough red with hot tears; it was the last gift which Rudiger of Bechelaren gave to any Recke. As grim as Hagen was, and as hard of mind, he wept at this gift which the hero good, so near his last ames, had given him; full many a noble Riter began to weep."


Wan ritter unde wrovv n Weinen man do sach

Ine chan iu nicht bescheiden Waz sider da geschach,
Dar-zuo die edeln chnechte Ir lieben vriunde tot:
Da hat das mære ein ende; Diz ist der Nibelunge not.

I cannot say you now What hath befallen since,
The women all were weeping, And the Ritters and the


Also the noble squires, Their dear friends lying dead,

Here hath the story ending; This is the Nibelungen's


We have now finished our slight analysis of this Poem; and hope that readers, who are curious in this matter, and ask themselves, What is the Nibelungen? may have here found some outlines of an answer, some help towards farther researches of their own. To such readers another question will suggest itself: Whence this singular production comes to us, When and How it originated? On which point also, what little light our investigation has yielded may be summarily given.

The worthy Von der Hagen, who may well understand the Nibelungen better than any other man, having rendered it into the modern tongue, and twice edited it in the original, not without collating some eleven manuscripts, and travelling several thousands of miles to make the last edit on perfect,-writes a Book some years ago, rather boldly denominated The Nibelungen, its meaning for the present and for ever; wherein, not content with any measurable antiquity of centuries, he would fain claim an antiquity beyond all bounds of dated time. Working his way with feeble mine-lamps of etymology and the like, he traces back the rudiments of his beloved Nibelungen, “to which the flower of his whole life has been conse crated," into the thick darkness of the Scandinavian Nifheim und Muspelhem, and the Hindoo Cosmogony; connecting it farther (as already in part we have incidentally pointed out) with the Ship Argo, with Jupiter's goatskin Ægis, the fire-creed of Zerdusht, and even with the heavenly Constellations. His reasoning is somewhat abstruse; yet an honest zeal, very considerable learning and intellectual force bring him tolerably through. So much he renders plausible or probable: that in the Nibelungen, under more or less defacement, l'o fragments, scattered like mysterious Bunes, yet still in part decipherable, of the earliest Thoughts of men; that the fiction of the Nibelungen was at first a religious or philosophical Mythus; and only in later ages, incorporating itself more or less completely with vague traditions of real events, took the form of a story, or mere Narrative of earthly transac tions; in which last form, moreover, out actual Nibelungen Lied is nowise the original Narrative, but the second, or even third redac

At last Volker is slain; they are all slain, save only Hagen and Gunther, faint and wounded, ret still unconquered among the bodies of the dead. Dietrich the wary, though strong and invincible, whose Recken too, except old Hildebrand, he now finds are all killed, though he had charged them strictly not to mix in the quarrel, at last arms himself to finish it. He subdues the two wearied Nibelungen, binds them, delivers them to Chriemhild; "and Herr Dietrich went away with weeping eyes, worthily from the heroes." These never saw each other more. Chriemhild demands of Hagen, Where the Nibelungen Hoard is? But he answers her that he has sworn never to disclose it, while any of her brothers live. "I bring it to an end," said the infuriated woman; orders her brother's head to be struck off, and holds it up to Hagen. "Thou hast it now according to thy will," said Hagen; "of the Hoard knoweth none but God and I; from thee, she-devil, (Valentinne,) shall it for ever be hid." She kills him with his own sword, once her hus-tion of one much earlier.

band's; and is herself struck dead by Hilde- At what particular era the primeval fiction


of the Nibelungen passed from its Mythological cal events and persons which our primeval into its Historical shape; and the obscure Mythuses have here united with, and so spiritual elements of it wedded themselves strangely metamorphosed? the answer is unto the obscure remembrances of the Northern satisfactory enough. The great Northern ImImmigrations; and the Twelve Signs of the migrations, unspeakably momentous and glori Zodiac became Twelve Champions of Attila's ous as they were for the Germans, have well Wife, there is no fixing with the smallest nigh faded away utterly from all vernacular certainty. It is known from history that Egin- records. Some traces, nevertheless, some hart, the secretary of Charlemagne, compiled, names, and dim shadows of occurrences in by order of that monarch, a collection of the that grand movement, still linger here: which, ancient German Songs; among which, it is in such circumstances, we gather with avidity. fondly believed by antiquaries, this Nibelungen, There can be no doubt, for example, but this (not indeed our actual Nibelungen Lied, yet an "Etzel, king of Hunland," is the Atula of older one of similar purport,) and the main history; several of whose real achievements traditions of the Heldenbuch connected there- and relations are faintly, yet still recognisably with, may have had honourable place. Un- pictured forth in these Poems. Thus his first luckily Eginhart's Collection has quite per- queen is named Halke, and in the Scandinavian ished; and only his Life of the Great Charles, versions, Herka; which last (Erca) is also the in which this circumstance stands noted, sur- name that Priscus gives her, in the well-known vives to provoke curiosity. One thing is cer- Account of his embassy to Attila. Moreover, tain, Fulco, Archbishop of Rheims, in the it is on his second marriage, which had in fact year 885, is introduced as citing certain so mysterious and tragical a character, that the German books," to enforce some argument of whole catastrophe of the Nibelungen turns. It his by instance of" King Ermerich's crime is true, the "Scourge of God" plays but a tame towards his relations;" which King Ermerich part here; however, his great acts, though all and his crime are at this day part and parcel past, are still visible in their fruits: besides, it of the " Cycle of German Fiction," and pre- is on the Northern or German personages that supposed in the Nibelungen. Later notices, the tradition chiefly dwells. of a more decisive sort, occur in abundance. Saxo Grammaticus, who flourished in the twelfth century, relates that about the year 1130, a Saxon minstrel being sent to Seeland, with a treacherous invitation from one royal Dane to another; and not daring to violate his oath, yet compassionating the victim, sang to him by way of indirect warning "the Song of Chriemhild's Treachery to her Brothers;" that is to say, the latter portion of the Story which we still read at greater length in the existing Nibelungen Lied. To which direct evidence, that these traditions were universally known in the twelfth century, nay, had been in some shape committed to writing, as "German Books," in the ninth or rather in the eighth, we have still to add the probability of their being "ancient songs," even at that earliest date; all which may perhaps carry us back into the seventh or even sixth century; yet not farther, inasmuch as certain of the poetic personages that figure in them belong historically

to the fifth.

Other and more open proof of antiquity lies in the fact, that these Traditions are so universally diffused. There are Danish and Icelandic versions of them, externally more or less altered and distorted, yet substantially real copies, professing indeed to be borrowed from the German; in particular we have the Nifinga and the Wilkina Saga, composed in the thirteenth century, which still in many ways illustrate the German original. Innumerable other songs and sagas point more remotely in the same direction. Nay, as Von der Hagen informs us, certain rhymed tales, founded on these old adventures, have been recovered from popular recitation, in the Faroe Islands, within these few years.

If we ask now, what lineaments of Fact still exist in these Traditions; what are the Histori

Von der Hagen's Nibelungen, Einleitung, è vil.

Taking farther into account the general "Cycle" or System of Northern Tradition, whereof this Nibelungen is the centre and keystone, there is, as indeed we saw in the Heldenbuch, a certain Kaiser Ottnit and a Dietrich of Bern; to whom also it seems unreasonable to deny historical existence. This Bern, (Verona,) as well as the Rabenschlacht, (Battle of Ravenna,) is continually figuring in these Fictions; though whether under Ottnit we are to understand Odoacer the vanquished, and under Dietrich of Bern, Theodoricus Veronensis, the victor both at Verona and Ravenna, is by no means so indubitable. Chronological difficulties stand much in the way. For our Dietrich of Bern, as we saw in the Nibelungen, is represented as one of Etzel's Champions: now Attila died about the year 450; and this Ostrogoth Theodoric did not fight his great Battle at Verona till 489; that of Ravenna, which was followed by a three years' siege, beginning next year. So that before Dietrich could become Dietrich of Bern, Etzel had been gone almost half a century from the scene. Startled by this anachronism, some commentators have fished out another Theodoric, eighty years prior to him of Verona, and who actually served in Attila's hosts, with a retinue of Goths and Germans; with which New Theodoric, however, the old Ottnit, or Odoacer, of the Heldenbuch, must, in his turn, part company; whereby the case is in no whit mended. Certain it seems, in the mean ume, that Dietrich, which signifies Rich in People, is the same name which in Greek becomes Theodoricus; for, at first, (as in Procopius,) this very Theodoricus is always written ex which almost exactly corresponds with the German sound. But such are the inconsistencies involved in both hypotheses, that we are forced to conclude one of two things: either that the singers of those old lays were little versed in the niceties of History, and un| ambitions of passing for authorities therein,

which seems a remarkably easy conclusion; ballad-mongers of that Swabian Era have or else, with Lessing, that they meant some transmitted us their names, so total an oblivion, quite other series of persons and transactions, in this infinitely more important case, may some Kaiser Otto, and his two Anti-Kaisers, seem surprising. But those Minnelieder (Love(in the twelfth century:) which, from what has songs) and Provençal Madrigals were the come to light since Lessing's day, seems now Court Poetry of that time, and gained honour an untenable position. in high places; while the old National Traditions were common property and plebeian, and to sing them an unrewarded labour.

However, as concerns the Nibelungen, the most remarkable coincidence, if genuine, remains yet to be mentioned. "Thwortz," a Whoever he may be, let him have our gratiHungarian Chronicler, (or perhaps chronicle,) tude, our love. Looking back with a farewell of we know not what authority, relates," that glance, over that wondrous old Tale, with its Attila left his kingdom to his two sons Chaba many-coloured texture" of joyances and highand Aladar, the former by a Grecian mother, tides, of weeping and of wo," so skilfully the latter by Kremheilch, (Chriemhild,) a yet artlessly knit up into a whole, we cannot German; that Theodoric, one of his followers, but repeat that a true epic spirit lives in it; sowed dissension between them; and along that in many ways, it has meaning and charms with the Teutonic hosts took part with his for us. Not only as the oldest Tradition of half-countryman, the younger son; whereupon Modern Europe, does it possess a high antirose a great slaughter, which lasted for fifteen quarian interest; but farther, and even in the days, and terminated in the defeat of Chaba, shape we now see it under, unless the "Epics (the Greek,) and his flight into Asia."* Could of the Son of Fingal" had some sort of auwe but put faith in this Thwortz, we might thenticity, it is our oldest Poem also; the earfancy that some vague rumour of that Krem- liest product of these New Ages, which on its heilch tragedy, swoln by the way, had reached own merits, both in form and essence, can be the German ear and imagination; where, named Poetical. Considering its chivalrous, gathering round older Ideas and Mythuses, as romantic tone, it may rank as a piece of litéMatter round its Spirit, the first rude form of rary composition, perhaps considerably higher Chriemhilde's Revenge and the Wreck of the Nibe- than the Spanish Cid; taking in its historical lungen bodied itself forth in Song. significance, and deep ramifications into the remote Time, it ranks indubitably and greatly higher.

It has been called a Northern Iliad; but except in the fact that both poems have a narrative character, and both sing "the destructive rage" of men, the two have scarcely any similarity. The Singer of the Nibelungen is a far different person from Homer; far inferior both in culture and in genius. Nothing of the glowing imagery, of the fierce bursting energy, of the mingled fire and gloom, that dwell in the old Greek, makes its appearance here. The German Singer is comparatively a simple nature; has never penetrated deep into life; never "questioned Fate," or struggled with fearful mysteries; of all which we find traces in Homer, still more in Shakspeare; but with meek believing submission, has taken the Universe as he found it represented to him; and rejoices with a fine childlike gladness in the mere outward shows of things. He has little power of delineating character; perhaps he had no decisive vision thereof. His persons are superficially distinguished, and not alto

Some vote for a certain Conrad von Würz-gether without generic difference; but the porburg; others for the above-named Eschenbach traiture is imperfectly brought out; there lay and Ofterdingen; others again for Klingsohr no true living original within him. He has of Ungerland, a minstrel who once passed for little Fancy; we find scarcely one or two simia magician. Against all and each of which litudes in his whole Poem; and these one or hypotheses there are objections; and for none two, which, moreover, are repeated, betoken of them the smallest conclusive evidence. no special faculty that way. He speaks of the Who this gifted Singer may have been, only in" moon among stars;" says often, of sparks so far as his Work itself proves that there struck from steel armour in battle, and so forth, was but One, and the style points to the latter that they were wie es wehte der wind," as if the half of the twelfth century,-remains altogether wind were blowing them." We have mendark the unwearied Von der Hagen himself, tioned Tasso along with him; yet neither in after fullest investigation, gives for verdict, this case is there any close resemblance; the "we know it not." Considering the high light playful grace, still more, the Italian pomp worth of the Nibelungen, and how many feeble and sunny luxuriance of Tasso are wanting in the other. His are humble, wood-notes wild; and no nightingale's, but yet a sweet

Thus any historical light, emitted by these old Fictions, is little better than darkness visible; sufficient at most to indicate that great Northern Immigrations, and wars and rumours of wars, have been; but nowise how and what they have been. Scarcely clearer is the special history of the Fictions themselves: where they were first put together, who have been their successive redactors and new-modellers. Von der Hagen, as we said, supposes that there may have been three several series of such. Two, at all events, are clearly indicated. In their present shape, we have internal evidence that none of these Poems can be older than the twelfth century; indeed great part of the HeroFook can be proved to be considerably later. With this last it is understood that Wolfram von Eschenbach and Heinrich von Ofterdingen, two singers, otherwise noted in that era, were largely concerned; but neither is there any demonstration of this vague belief: while again, in regard to the Author of our actual Nibelungen not so much as a plausible conjecture can be formed.

Weber, (Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 39,) who cites Görres (Zeitung für Einsiedler) as his authority.

sky-hidden lark's. In all the rhetorical gifts, | cle he dwelt in, the very ashes remain not to say nothing of rhetorical attainments, we like a fair heavenly Apparition, which indeer should pronounce him even poor. he was, he has melted into air, and only the Voice he uttered, in virtue of its inspired gift, yet lives and will live.

Nevertheless, a noble soul he must have been, and furnished with far more essential requisites for Poetry, than these are: namely, with the heart and feeling of a Poet. He has a clear eye for the Beautiful and True; all unites itself gracefully and compactly in his imagination: it is strange with what careless felicity he winds his way in that complex narrative, and be the subject what it will, comes through it unsullied, and with a smile. His great strength is an unconscious instinctive strength; wherein truly lies its highest merit. The whole spirit of Chivalry, of Love, and heroic Valour, must have lived in him, and inspired him. Everywhere he shows a noble Bensibility; the sad accents of parting friends, the lamentings of women, the high daring of For us also it has its worth. A creation men, all that is worthy and lovely prolongs it from the old ages, still bright and balmy, if we self in melodious echoes through his heart. A visit it; and opening into the first History of true old Singer, and taught of Nature herself! Europe, of Mankind. Thus all is not oblivion; Neither let us call him an inglorious Milton, but on the edge of the abyss, that separates the since now he is no longer a mute one. What Old world from the New, there hangs a fair good were it that the four or five Letters com- rainbow-land; which also in (three) curious posing his Name could be printed, and pro- repetitions, as it were, in a secondary, and nounced, with absolute certainty? All that even a ternary reflex, sheds some feeble was mortal in him is gone utterly; of his life, twilight far into the deeps of the primeval and its environment, as of the bodily taberna-¡ Time.

To the Germans this Nibelungen Song is na turally an object of no common love; neither if they sometimes overvalue it, and vague an tiquarian wonder is more common than just criticism, should the fault be too heavily visit ed. After long ages of concealment, they have found it in the remote wilderness, still standing like the trunk of some almost antediluvian oak; nay with boughs on it still green, after all the wind and weather of twelve hun dred years. To many a patriotic feeling, which lingers fondly in solitary places of the Past, it may well be a rallying-point, and “Lovers Trysting-Tree."



Ir is not with Herr Soltau's work, and its | doubtedly among the most remarkable Books, merits or demerits, that we here purpose to not only as a German, but, in all senses, as a concern ourselves. The old Low-German European one; and yet for us perhaps its exApologue was already familiar under many trinsic, historical character, is even more note shapes; its versions into Latin, English, and worthy than its intrinsic. In Literary History all modern tongues: if it now comes before it forms, so to speak, the culminating point, of our German friends under a new shape, and highest manifestation of a Tendency which they can read it not only in Gottsched's prosaic had ruled the two prior centuries: ever downProse, and Goethe's poetic Hexameters, but wards from the last of the Hohenstauffen Emalso "in the metre of the original," namely, in perors, and the end of their Swabian Era, to Doggerel; and this, as would appear, not with- the borders of the Reformation, rudiments and out comfort, for it is "the second edition ;"- fibres of this singular Fable are seen, among doubtless the Germans themselves will look to innumerable kindred things, fashioning them. it, will direct Herr Soltau aright in his praise- selves together; and now, after three other worthy labours, and, with all suitable speed, centuries of actual existence, it still stands forward him from his second edition into a visible and entire, venerable in itself, and the third. To us strangers the fact is chiefly in- enduring memorial of much that has proved teresting, as another little memento of the in- more perishable. Thus, naturally enough, it destructible vitality there is in worth, however figures as the representative of a whole group rude; and to stranger Reviewers, as it brings that historically cluster round it; in studying its that wondrous old Fiction, with so much else significance, we study that of a whole inthat holds of it, once more specifically into tellec'ual period. view.

The Apologue of Reynard the Fox ranks un

As this section of German Literature closely connects itself with the corresponding section of European Literature, and indeed offers an

Reinecke der Fuchs, übersetzt von D. W. Soltau. (Rey-expressive, characteristic epitome thereof, some ward the Fox, translated by D. W. Soltau.) 2d edition,

insight into it, were such easily procurable,

9ve. Lüneburg, 1830.

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