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Of such contemporary authors as are noticed in the work of Mr Feldberg, proceed we now with brevity to speak. Evald is a poet of considerable powers. He has written several pieces for the stage, which have been eminently succesful, and display a masterly talent for the delineation of human passion, and those evanescent aspirations after virtue, to which even the guiltiest bosom cannot entirely cease to be alive, As a specimen of his talents, we give the following song, which, among some bad taste, shews considerable descriptive power.
"King Christian took his fearless stand
'Fly, sons of Swedes! what heart may dare
"Niels Juel beheld the storm roll nigh;
"Sea of the North! aloft behold
"Thou darksome deep! the Dane's path-
To might and fame!
Receive thy friend, whose spirit warm
And mounts to flame!
But, in the walks of dramatic literature, Oehlenschlager is unrivalled. He possesses a sway over our feelings to which no other poet of his age and nation can make any pretensions. Yet this power, we think, he isnot always sufficiently careful not to abuse. In the wildness of his imagination, he delights to soar into the loftiest regions of poetry, and suddenly to dash us to the ground;
and it may be questioned, whether the
lenschlager than could possible be de-
and we trust, that ere long, he will consecrate his fame to after-ages in an epic poem, as he has already done in the lighter, though not less difficult walks of the art. To shew the estimation in which these two distinguished persons are held in Denmark, we lay
before them an epigram by Thaarup, which two of our contributors have been kind enough to translate. As the merits of these translations are somewhat different, we beg to submit them both to the judgment of our readers:
EPIGRAM FROM THE DANISH OF THAARUP.
If in a dungeon I were thrown
To charm me with their speaking page.
For what toils, what sufferingswould not such praise afford an ample recompence! Having thrown together these few hasty observations on some of the great men, of whom notice is introduced by Mr Feldberg in his work, we shall conclude the present article with a few extracts from the lighter part of the volume before us. There is a great deal of statistical information contained in it, and the local descriptions are executed with a talent and truth, which prove Mr Feldberg to be no unobservant spectator of nature, under all her forms. The following description of Cronenburgh Castle will be interesting to our readers, from the knowledge that it formed the prison of the unfortunate Queen Caroline Matilda ::
"The Castle of Cronenburgh, in the vicinity of Elsinore, was built by Frederick II. in the boldest style of Gothic architecture. Mr Boesen, an honest old historian of the place, while describing the position, solidity, and magnificence of the castle, affirms, that it may rank with the noblest castles, not only in the North, but in all Europe.
"This venerable edifice is connected with subjects of traditional, dramatic, and historical interest. On descending into the casemates, the story of Holger Danske, (or Ogier the Dane, as he is called in the French romances), will amuse the mind in these damp and dismal vaults. It is thus related by Mr Thiele: For many ages the din of arms was now and then heard in the vaults beneath the Castle of Cronenburgh. No man knew the cause, and there was not in all the land a man bold enough
If a king should be so incorrect,
Though the want of old Ebony's Magazine,*
I still must consider a damn'd bore; For poet, I'd pick out Bill BaggesenFor critic, I'd pitch upon Ramdohr. to descend into the vaults. At last a slave, who had forfeited his life, was told, that his crime should be forgiven if he could bring intelligence of what he found in the vaults. He went down, and came to a when he knocked. He found himself in a large iron door, which opened of itself deep vault. In the centre of the ceiling hung a lamp, which was nearly burnt out; and, below, stood a huge stone-table, round which some steel-clad warriors sat, resting their heads on their arms, which they had laid crossways. He who sat at the head of the table then rose up. It was Holger the Dane. But when he raised his head from his arms, the stone-table burst right in twain, for his beard had grown through it. The slave durst not give him his hand, but 'Give me thy hand!' said he to the slave. dented with his fingers. At last he let go put forth an iron bar, which Holger in his hold, muttering, It is well! I am glad that there are yet men in Denmark.'
"Leaving the casemates, and ascending the ramparts, Englishmen will find themselves on classic ground. Here they may indulge the fancy of Mr Matthison, the celebrated Swiss poet, who made the venerable ghost of Hamlet's father appear on the platform, when he exclaimed
'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
"But a still deeper tragedy will awaken the sympathies of an Englishman on his visit to Cronenburgh Castle. For, (to use the words of a distinguished author, alrea dy quoted), here Matilda was confined, the victim of a foul and murderous court. intrigue. Here, amid heart-breaking griefs, she found consolation in nursing her infant, when, by the interference of England, her own deliverance was obtained; and as the
* Literally the Copenhagen Review.
ship bore her away from a country where the venial indiscretions of youth and unsuspicious gaiety had been so cruelly punished, upon these towers she fixed her eyes, and stood upon the deck, obstinately
gazing toward them till the last speck had disappeared.'
During her imprisonment in the Castle of Cronenburgh, it was Queen Caroline Matilda's chief enjoyment to ascend the square tower, which commands one of the finest prospects in the world. No spot could better sooth the anguish of her mind. The animated appearance of the Sound, in which the English flag is so frequently displayed, would fill her mind with cheering images of the greatness and prosperity of her native land. And, in gazing on the beauties which nature has scattered with so lavish a hand over Denmark, her contemplations on the great First Cause of all good would create in her the best disposition to forgive her enemies, persecutors, and slanderers." "
The ruins of the Monastery at Esrom are particularly interesting, and Mr Feldberg devotes several of his pages to an account of their antiquities, and the traditionary miracles with which they are connected. The devil, it had a wonderful antipathy appears, to the monks of this pious establishment, and did his "possible" to corrupt them. As favourable opportunities of temptation occurred, he occasionally converted himself into a bottle of claret, a haunch of venison, a dressed turtle, or a fine woman, in order to seduce the ghostly fathers from their usual continence and sobriety. Never were a poor set of monks so persecuted. Did they fast, their nostrils were continually saluted with the savoury fragrance of roast beef and Maintenon cutlets; were they satiated with food, goblets of the finest wine appeared to court their lips, and the drawing of corks was in their ears; was their hide galled by the sackcloth of their order, garments of silk, and shirts of the finest Holland seemed to court their acceptance; were they inclined to sleep, behold a down bed and cambric sheets appeared to invite them to repose. The only drawback to these enjoyments was, that in case they accepted them, they ipso facto became proselytes of the devil, and gave up all hopes of heaven, which on the whole was not so advantageous a bargain as
the holy fathers desired, seeing they wished not only to eat, drink, and sleep well, but to go to heaven also, which instance of good taste, we believe, has been strictly observed by all their reverend successors. We shall give the following legendary tale in the words of Mr Feldberg
"The remains of the monastery at Esrom deserve to be visited, as they may shew with what good taste the monks selected one of the most beautiful situations in the island for their residence. It was originally one of the most opulent and considerable monasteries in the North, and of the Cistercian order. Its name, perhaps, might, in the following lines: without much impropriety, be substituted
"O the monks of Melrose made gude kale
As long as their neighbours' lasted.'*
"Indeed the monks of Esrom led a very merry life, through the wked agency of the devil, who had gained admittance to the monastery by the name of Friar Ruus, and served in the capacity of cook. The legendary history of this remarkable personage is sufficiently amusing. Mr Thiele, in his work already spoken of, gives it in the following manner :
"It is related, when the devil once saw how piously and virtuously the monks of Esrom lived, that he assumed the human form, knocked at the gate of the monastery, saying that his name was Ruus. Pretending to be a cook's apprentice, as such he was engaged by the abbot. But, being once alone with the master-cook, he shewed disobedience, for which he received chastisement. At this he felt very wroth; and as he had previously put a kettle of water on the fire, he laid hold of the master-cook, when he perceived the kettle boiled, and thrust him into it head foremost. He then ran about and screamed, lamenting the misfortune that had happened to his master. Thus he deceived all the friars of the monastery in such a manner, that they thought him perfectly guiltless, and made him master-cook. This was exactly what he had aspired to, so that afterwards he might work out their destruction. He now dressed their victuals so lusciously, that the monks forgot both fasting and prayer, and gave themselves up to good living. Nay, it is even said that he brought women into the monastery, and thus ingratiated himself highly with the abbot, who even prevailed upon Ruus to become a friar, wishing nothing so much as to have such a cook about him. From that time quarrels
* Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto the First, Note XXII. Kale, Broth. In Danish Kaal, a very popular dish.
and wickedness spread to such an extent in the monastery, that it certainly would have come into the power of the Evil One, if the monks had not seasonably left off their vicious ways. It so happened, that Ruus was once in a wood, where he observed a fine fat cow. He killed her, taking a quarter along with him to the monastery, and hanging up the remainder on a tree in the wood. The peasant to whom the cow belonged came soon afterwards; and when he saw the three quarters hanging on the tree, he determined to watch in another tree, until the thief should come to fetch the rest. While he was sitting there, he observed how the devil's imps played their pranks in the wood, talking much about Ruus, and how he designed to invite the
abbot and his monks to an entertainment with himself in hell. The peasant was terribly frightened at this, and went next day to the abbot, relating all that he had seen and heard in the wood. On this the abbot called all the monks together in the church, and began to read and sing. Ruus, who had never shewn any particular relish for such devotional services, attempted to sneak out; but the abbot seized him by the cloak, and exorcised him into the shape of a red horse, committing him to the power of hell. For a long time after this occurrence, the iron kettle and gridiron belonging to Ruus were still shewn in the monastery of Esrom.
"The gridiron, which is thus said to belong to the chattels left behind by the exorcised devil, at no distance of time was preserved at Esrom, and shewn as a piece of great antiquity. Indeed it was consider.
ed of such importance, that the celebrated Petrus Resenius deemed it worthy of being represented in his "Atlas Danicus." The intelligent Professor Molbech, in his "Juvenile Wanderings," adds to our information regarding the personal adventure of Ruus:- After being exorcised, the abbot constrained him, by way of punishment for his wicked intentions, to proceed to England, and without intermission to return, bringing with him through the air as much lead as amounted to 320,000 poundweight, for the roof of the monastery." "
Although Mr Feldberg alludes to Professor Molbech in the above extract, yet he does not seem to be aware that that gentleman has composed a ballad on the very tradition which it narrates. Mr Lewis, in one of his notes, alludes to it as one of the finest specimens of the "terrible sublime" with which he is acquainted. The ludicrously terrific would perhaps have been a happier epithet; but be that as it may we heartily join the author of the Monk in his admiration of the poetical power which it displays. We are anxious to introduce this piece to the notice of our readers, though we confess that in the partial translation which we have attempted, it is but too probable that we have furnished rather evidence of our feebleness, than of the beauties so prominent in the original. It begins thus:
Once when the morning breezes blew o'er Esrom's cloister'd walls,
And when his golden beams went down, they still were kneeling there.
And short and scanty the repasts these holy men partook,
But the spring supplied their beverage, the crust of bread their dine.
Such was the simplicity of their fare, and such the ardour of their devotions! In the original Mr Molbech enlarges on these at considerable length, and informs us, that by their extraordinary abstinence and mortification of the flesh, they had reduced themselves to the same spareness of body, characteristic of a personage well known in a neighbouring city, by the appellation of "Death run away with the mort-cloth." The following gives us further insight with regard to their habits and personal economy:
Like modern beaux, these holy monks, in iron stays were laced,
What blessed dreams came over them, what visions did appear,
"A life so holy, such serene repose," must appear beautiful to all, and enviable at least to those whom an intercourse with the world has not yet deprived of all relish for purer enjoyments. It was, however, but of short duration. The devil sets his head at work to seduce them, and judiciously observing that the belly is not the worst avenue to the head, gets his services accepted in the kitchen of the convent, as is duly set forth in the following
The Devil saw their holiness, and straightway set his head
To turn them from the pious life which they so long had led;
When two bestride a horse, there's one that needs must ride behind;
Having thus far succeeded in his diabolical career, as may be anticipated, the convent dinners begin very suddenly to improve, and Oman himself could not cater better for his guests than the devil did for the monks at Esrom. The consequences are likewise what may be anticipated.
The jolly friars now began to relish better cheer,
And pickles hot and sauce piquante did at their board appear;
The chapel bell with grief they heard, the dinner bell with glee aye,
We close this mournful example of human depravity with the following stanza, which shews the monks of Esrom reduced, we think, to the very lowest step in the scale of moral degradation.
Thus every holy monk was soon transform'd into a sot,
And they waddled through the cloisters all as fat as Doctor Scott,
For they sung their Ave Marias to the tune of "Moll in the Wad!"
If our readers are pleased with these extracts, we can assure them the ballad is not carried on with less spirit in the sequel; and we refer them to the account of the remainder of the devil's exploits to the extracts we have already given from Mr Feldberg's volume. We fully intended, on commencing this article, to have afforded less space to our own observations, and more to the extracts from the work before us. But the evil of our loquacity cannot now be remedied, and we must only gratify our readers with one further quotation, selected in or VOL. X.
der to display Mr Feldberg in the character of a courtier, a role which he appears to fill with as much grace and ease as any of our indigenous members of the Leg-of-Mutton School. The account of his interview with Prince Christian is extremely characteristic, we think, both of the Prince and the Savant.
"With somewhat similar feeling I saw the young Prince of Denmark. He had just returned from a cruise on the lake, with two lads of about his own size and age, sons of Count Schulin. There had been a fight, and I rather suspect the Prince had