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This saw Spohn, he did not lag,
Me the well known, three-cornered hat;
To the ground sprang Napoleon,
The famous hat upon his head,
But spring that way, and cry "He's taken,"
When they saw who the prisoner was,
The Emperor flew far that day,
The great Corporal was Spohn,
Very unlike all the others are the Nibelungen ballads. One of these Tennyson has taken as the groundwork of his "Day Dream;" but except in the gorgeous description of the "Sleeping Beauty," it loses infinitely by any change from its first simplicity. Brunhild's quarrel with Odin, the style of her housekeeping, the woven wall of fire which daunts all the faint-hearted, but proves to the true knight only a wall of sunbeams as he dashes through; all are in the best style of the romantic ballad, grand, fresh, and with dashes of fun between.
Siegfried is the native hero of the country, on the true heroic Valhalla basis, unchristianized, unchristian, arrogant, noble, impetuous, sincere, overbearing, generous, no reflective wisdom, no side thoughts, no humility, no weakness. He exults as a strong man to run a race, and he does run it, and come in at the goal as he promised. He takes pleasure in outshining others, because he is the noblest. Came a nobler he would yield with joy! How he would have stared at such night thoughts as
'Forgive his faults, forgive his virtues too."
"Have I a lover- who is noble and free,
than to love me."
Siegfried shows that he was educated at the forge and bathed in the dragon's blood. His triumphant energy fills with light the black forests, where the wild boar holds at bay the bravest huntsman. Of a stately native growth were the timbers from which this ship of Germany is built, all oak, proud, German oak.
I have lightly touched upon the characteristics of the Rhine ballads, lightly, for the hand becomes fearful and maladroit, when obliged to choose among materials so rich. as to make rejection a pain at every step. They express a nation in the early years of a pious, a valorous, an earnest and affectionate manhood, innocent, but not childishly so, playing antics sometimes in the gayety of health and strength, but never light or vain. What culture it possesses is expressed in character. They were full of faith and they always acted upon it. They had clear eyes, but the life blood beat too quick to let them spend their days in looking about them. Their superstition was no incubus, it was their ardor of trust and love, burning away the crusts of fact. Their romance grew from the heart, not the head; for each man felt himself capable of loyalty and tenderness. The assembled princes boast the value of their different provinces. Everhard, Duke of Wirtemberg, when it comes to his turn says; My land is not of the richest. But when I meet a Wirtemberger in the black pine wood, I lie down and sleep in his lap as I should in my mother's. He paused, and his eye shone clear and friendly, as if he had just waked from sleep in a Wirtemberger's arms. Such a heart beat in the German people!
"The knights are dust
And their good swords are rust,
Their souls are with the saints, we trust."
Of an entirely different character is the other book, I have before me, "Modern Greek popular Songs, collected and published by C. Fauriel, translated and furnished both with the French editor's explanations and his own, by Wil
VOL. III. NO. II.
helm Müller. Neu Griechische Volkslieder, gesammelt und herausgegeben von C. Fauriel. Uebersetzt und mit des Franzosischen herausgebens und eigenen erläuterungen versehen von Wilhelm Müller.
The former book gave the mind of a people at a period of national dignity, of high culture and development, as respected character. On that soil was seen to rise the sublime architecture of an established religious faith, interspersed with homes sacred with honor and the affections. As the river pierced the land it talked all along with a rich and multiform life. The grape was its proper emblem, and the juice of that vine has been carried to every part of the civilized world; and though we gladly return to quaff it in the vineyard from which it was born, the pleasure is not new, only keener than before. But in this other book it is wholly new. A breath fresh with the snows late fallen from heaven blows from Olympus and Pindus, where the Greek Klepht, stately if not serene as the gods who there in olden days feasted at the golden tables, waged a war which, for the traits of individual heroism that signalized it, and the indomitable love of freedom that made it glorious, might have made Greece more proud in her day of highest pride.
This mountain life has always given one aspect to the men driven into the natural fastnesses, to keep off those who would not allow that they should breathe heaven's air and be cheered by its light at their pleasure. The flashing eye, the body hardened to pain and famine, the light hold on life, the eagle gaze at death, the sudden love, the steadfast hate, the readiness of resource, and the carelessness of plan, these mark the wild chamois gesture of man, who seeks not to be rich, be great, or wise, or holy, but simply to be free. A small portion this of his proper life; yet to see him vindicate it gives the same pleasure as the instinctive motion of the infant, or the career of the wind.
The whortleberry, not the grape, is the fruit that expresses what these ballads are. I abridge an account of their origin from Müller's introduction.
"We have here a poetry of the people in the truest sense of the name; a voice from the people in which nothing vibrates, but what can be felt and understood by every Greek; a poesy
which neither has its birth nor death on paper; but springing up as living song, hovers on the same wings from mouth to mouth, and dies away entirely, when the period is past whose spirit and thought were expressed by it.
"The modern Greek lays of this class may be divided into domestic, historical, and romantic or ideal; that is to say, those of which the material is not taken from the actual life, either of the past or the present.
"Among the domestic we count all those made to be sung at household festivals. The feast days, which are especially commemorated in such, are the day of the holy Basilius, and the first of March."
Of the latter the account is very interesting. The swallow's song, sung on this day by little boys, who carry a wooden effigy of the bird from door to door, is peculiarly charming. But of these and the songs of betrothal, of marriage, and mourning the account must be omitted. I have room only for this passage which exhibits one of the most interesting features of national character.
"The desire for knowledge, persecutions, or the need of gaining and assuring a maintenance, for which his own country affords little opportunity, these and similar motives and circumstances compel many Greeks to leave their home for a long time, and nothing is so tragical to them as this freewill banishment. The Greek clings with a love so tender to the land of his birth, that he, despite all dangers and ill treatment to which he is there exposed from his barbarous rulers, can find nowhere else a heaven on the earth, and regards each foreign land as a place of exile and sorrow. But what makes still sadder to the Greek a separation from his home and those he loves, is his uncertainty as to their destiny during his absence. Shall he ever see them again? Will the Turk leave his house and kin unassailed during his absence? The same apprehensions are in the hearts of those he is leaving behind; for they feel that their lives, honor, and fortunes are in the hands of rude ty
"Hence may be explained the solemn observance shown to the day when the Greek takes leave of his familiar circle. His friends and relations assemble in his house, partake with him the last meal, and then accompany him some miles on his way. Songs are usual on this occasion, some sung at the table, others as they go with him on his way. Many of these are handed down from ancient time, and common through all Greece; others applicable to the present occasion and locality
alone. Often, songs are improvised by members of the family. These farewell songs are of a most pathetic cadence, and exercise a power over the Greeks, almost beyond belief elsewhere, as the following history bears witness.
"In the district of Zagori, near the old Pindus, lived a family to which three brothers belonged, the youngest of whom, by a singular variation from the usual order of nature, was an object of aversion to his mother. After he had long, in silent submission, endured her unjust severity, he, at last, resolved to seek happiness at a distance. He announced his intention to go to Adrianople. The usual solemnity of the banquet passed, his friends accompanied the youth five miles, and then halted to take leave in a wild valley of Pindus. After several relations and friends had sung their songs, the poor youth ascended a high rock and sang one composed by himself, in which he had painted in the most tender manner his sorrow at leaving the fatherland, and all whom he loved, but worst of all, leaving in his home a mother who did not love him. This poem, sung with deep emotion, enhanced by the sad loneliness of the place, and the accompaniments of the scene, conquered at last the heart of the mother. While they all wept, she rushed to the arms of her son, and promised in future to be a better mother to him. And she kept her word."
The festivals of marriage and mourning have given occasion for fine songs; but I pass on to the historical, which are the most interesting of all.
Among these the most numerous and expressive are the Klepht or Robber songs, celebrating the exploits of those in combat with the soldiers of the Pachas and Beys. To understand these it is necessary to know the political and social relations on which the origin and power of these robber-bands rest. Klepht originally meant Robber; but since it has been applied to the heroes of the Greek mountains, the word has gained a new and noble meaning.
"In part they were from the native Greek militia, Armatoli, who, on occasions of extraordinary aggression or treachery from the Turk, would fly to the mountains, and there make a stand against his power. These Armatoli, are bred to the use of arms; their weapons are handed down from father to son. They are, therefore, not unprepared for this mode of life.”
"A different occasion called out the Armatoli of Thessaly. When the conquering Turk broke in here, the dwellers of the fruitful plain bent to the yoke without resistance. But the shepherds of Olympus, of Pelion, of the Thessalian ridges connected with Pindus, and the heights which now bear the name