Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"It boots not, my boy, it boots not: the bones have got a way of so doing.'

"Squeeze me not so tightly with thy long arms. are so cold.'

Thine arms

"Can not otherwise, my boy, can not otherwise. And be content. Still my long cold arms will not squeeze in thy heart.' "Blow not so upon me with thy frozen breath. Thereat all my strength is going from me.'

"Must blow, my boy, must blow. But bewail not thyself. I shall not yet blow thee away.'

"The strange discourse had an end, for contrary to expectation Sintram came out upon a bright sun illumined snow-plain, and saw the castle of his father lying at a short distance from him. While still musing, whether he should and might invite the ghastly pilgrim to go with him, the latter relieved him from all doubt by suddenly springing from the horse, which halted in its wild speed surprized. Thereupon he said to the boy with up-raised forefinger:

I know the old Biorn Flame.eye very well; only perhaps more than all too-well. Greet him from me. My name he does not need to learn. He will know me already from the description.'

"Herewith the pale stranger turned into a close fir-copse, and vanished rattling amidst the thickly interwoven branches." P. 27.

Sintram named the pilgrim to his father. Sir Biorn acknowledged that he knew him too well. In the evening Sintram was summoned by his father to the hall; the same pilgrim, as it appeared, was alone with him, but the pilgrim denied all knowledge of Sintram, and Sintram felt that his morning companion was not that strange man who now sat before him. Ere they parted, the pilgrim took a guitar from the wall, and looking earnestly at Sir Biorn chanted these words to its melancholy tones.

"The flower was my own, was my own!
But I gambled away my heavenly right;
But I to a servant am changed from a knight,
Through my sin, through my sin alone.
The flower was thy own, wast thy own!
Why held'st thou not fast to thy heavenly right?
Thou servant of sin, no longer a knight,

Now art thou thus drearily lone." P. 39.

Folko of Montfaucon, and his lady, the peerless Gabrielle, were visitors to their kinsman Sir Biorn. The Evil Dwarf, or, as in accordance with the romance, however much against our inclinations, nathless we must henceforward call him, the Little Master, assailed Sintram with temptation through

the fair one's beauty. He painted, in glowing colours, the tale of Sir Paris and the young Duchess Helen, and left the victim whom he sought to seduce, to apply the moral to himself. Gabrielle stood by him in the moonlight, as the Little Master had fired the youth's imagination; he rushed towards her, but his ear caught the last words of a hymn, which Rolf, his pious and faithful foster-father, sang from the battlements. It was a prayer that the youth whom he loved might remain pure in the eyes of heaven. It touched Sintram's heart, and he withstood the trial.

Earl Eirik had challenged Sir Biorn to combat with his assembled warriors; Folko, armed in his host's behalf, and Gabrielle beheld the fight from an eminence on the field of battle. A little strangely harnessed man, with large gol. den horns upon his helmet, a visor, stretching far forward, and a two-edged battle-axe, formed at the end like a sickle, put the warriors of Sir Biorn to flight. Sintram, regardless of any other foe, sought him in the ranks, and smote him at a single blow lifeless to the earth. The day was decided by this conquest, and Sintram was rewarded by knighthood from Folko, and the more richly prized investiture of a scarf and sword from the hands of the peerless Gabrielle. But the body of the vanquished knight had vanished from the field.

The departure of Folko and Gabrielle was at hand: it was prevented by a supernatural storm, raised at the desire of Sintram by the Little Master. A single lock of coal-black hair, cut from the youth's brows, produced the tempest; and Folko, by the unfashionable tonsure, discovered Sintram's unhallowed connection. In a wintry hunt Folko killed a bear; the animal fell headlong over a crag, and the knight's snow-shoes failed him as he attempted to recover the spoil. Sintram was hastening to his assistance, but the Little Master was at his ear, and prompted him that Helen might be his own. For a moment the fiend prevailed. The Baron's cries for help fell unregarded on Sintram's ear as he turned homeward, and the fiend shouted for joy at the assured destruction of Montfaucon. "Now wilt thou no more, O thou my delicate lord knight, now wilt thou no more cry out before thy troops, Montjoy, St. Denys."

The hallowed name had escaped him unawares, but he fled howling as he uttered it; and Sintram once again was saved from guilt. He delivered the Baron from his peril. Pale and bloody, with his right arm shattered by his fall, he found him, holding the she-bear and her young at bay, and led him to the castle.

Sintram, in remorse, retired to his father's castle on the VOL. XVI, AUG. 1821.

P

Moon-rock; he felt unworthy to remain under the same roof with Folko. On his road he encountered the pilgrim and the Little Master once more; the former refused to accompany him, and strode on to a near mountain-fortress. He had scarcely entered when the death-bell tolled from its chapel.

We cannot follow the story with any hope of making it understood, through the perplexities of the Warder of the Moon-rock castle, and Sir Weigand the Slim: suffice it to say that the latter is the mad pilgrim, the double of Sintram's morning companion, the first lover of the Lady Verena, the supposed murderer of the Warder, and altogether terrifically connected with Sir Biorn; and we rejoice most heartily, that both he and the Warder die in peace with each other after a few chapters of mutual explanation.

The Little Master again tempted Sintram by revealing a souterrain from the Moon-rock castle to Gabrielle's chamber; and he shewed himself as the horned knight who was slain on Niflung's heath: but his fiendish snares were again unravelled by the intervention of Rolf. Once more Sir Folko's life was placed in Sintram's power, but his good genius conquered the horrible suggestions of the demon. He succeeded also in chasing the Little Master from his father's board. We find him next summoned to Sir Biorn's deathbed. In the pass which led to Drontheim, he was accosted by a stranger, at whose words, the dog at Sintram's side ran whining under the horse, and the horse itself reared, champed its bit, and shuddered. "There are loathsome witch-creatures here about this hour," said the unknown traveller:

"Then, as it were, hideously to confirm the stranger's words, a thing swung itself down from the nearest hoar-frosted tree-one could not distinguish whether it was a snake or whether it was a lizard-which curled and riggled about, and seemed wishing to make at the knight or his companion. Sintram thrust with his lance at it, and pierced it through. But it sat fixed, making the most hideous contortions, above upon the spear-head, and in vain did the knight strive to brush it off against the rock or the branches. Then he sank his lance over his right shoulder behind him, so that he had the loathsome creature no longer before his eyes." P. 239.

As they approached the castle, the stranger seemed even more like to Weigand the Slim; but to the question he replied, "I am not Weigand. I am the other one who looked so like unto him, whom thou also hast already of yore met in the forest."

"Here some one cried out behind him, with a yelling voice: Halt! Halt! take me also along with you!'-Sintram, looking

round, beheld a loathsome little form, horned, half a boar, half a bear in face, striding upright upon horse's hoofs, with a marvellously hideous hooked or sickle-like weapon in its hand. It was the being, that had been wont to torture him in his dreams, and, alas! it was also at the same time the noxious Little Master, and wildly laughing, stretched forth a long claw towards the knight's hip.

Sintram murmured, confounded: I have surely fallen asleep! and my dreams are now bursting forth!'

"Thou wakest,' returned the rider of the little horse, and me also dost thou know from thy dreams; for lo! I am Death.' "And his garments fell away from him, and a mouldering fleshless corpse came forth from them, and a half-dead face with a diadem of serpents; what had stuck concealed beneath his mantle, was an hour-glass that had almost run out. This Death held up before the knight with his fleshless right arm. The bell upon the neck of the little horse sounded at the same time very solemnly. It was a death-bell.

"Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!' prayed Sintram, and rode full of calm resignation after the onward beckoning Death.

"He has not gotten thee yet! He has not gotten thee yet!' screamed the terrible monster behind him. Give thyself up rather unto me. In the twinkling of an eye-for swift are thy thoughts, swift is my might-in the twinkling of an eye thou standest in Normandy. Helen yet blooms ravishing, as when she departed hence, and thine shall she be this very night.'

"And again he took up his godless praise-chaunt of Gabrielle's beauty, and Sintram's heart beat high in his weak bosom glowingly and wildly.

"Death said no more, but he raised the hour glass in his right hand higher and ever higher, and as the sand now ran away more rapidly, a gentle gleam from the glass laid itself upon Sintram's face, and then it was unto him, as if eternity in its still splendour were opening before him, and as if the confused world were plucking him backwards with hideous claws.

"I command thee, thou wild form, that thus followest me,' he cried out, I command thee in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ that thou desist from thy enticing prate, and that thou name thyself unto me with the word, wherewith thou art charactered in Holy Writ!'

"A name more fearful than a thunder-clap roared in despair from the lips of the tempter, and he vanished.

"He will not come again;' said Death friendly.

"So then I am now become altogether thine, my solemn companion?'

"Not yet, my Sintram. Not till after many, many years shall I come unto thee. But thou must not forget me until then.' "I will hold thee fast before my soul, thou fearfully healing warner, thou terribly loving guide.

“‹ Oh, I can also look very mild.'

"And he proved it forthwith by the deed. His form began to melt away ever more and more softly before the growing glimmer that shone out of the hour-glass, his features but now so bitterly severe smiled tenderly, out of the crown of serpents there grew a sparkling palm-wreath, out of the horse a white vapoury moon cloud, and the bell sang forth sweet lullabies invisibly therefrom." P. 242.

Sintram, after this final victory over the tempter, breathes comfort to his dying father, and is admitted to the saintly presence of his mother, the Lady Verena. We purposely omit the lame and impotent conclusion.

We know not what sentence to pronounce upon this singular romance. It belongs too much to the diseased school of Germany to obtain general circulation in England. Exclusive of the intended wildness, its plan and conduct is confused and often unintelligible: its pictures are far from pleasing; and its sublimity (for this it sometimes attains) quickly falls into the ridiculous. With all these gross and prominent faults, it has forcibly arrested our attention. We are sorry to remember that it is written by the author of Ondine, but we doubt much whether any other author could have written it.

ART. X. Religio Clerici. Two Epistles. By a Churchman, with Notes. A new Edition. To which is now added, by the same Author, The Parson's Choice of Town or Country. Murray. 1821.

COMMON place poetry is a thing so pre-eminently common place, that we have almost laid it down, as a rule to ourselves, not to occupy our pages with the various rhyming effusions which issue weekly from the press; and which are really, for the most part so like each other, even to the very types with which they are printed, as nearly to preclude selection. On this very account, however, we are always glad when we meet with any production of superior merit, because it affords us an opportunity of proving that our fastidiousness is, at least, not the effect of mere insensibility. With this view, we know not that we could wish for a stronger argument in justification of our taste, than is afforded us by the marked notice which we propose to take of the composition prefixed to the head of this article; for its brevity and slightness are such as would fully warrant us in overlooking its merits, be they what they may, were we not really anxious to evince that our neglect of indifferent poetry, is in fact only a consequence of our genuine admiration for that which is excellent.

« AnteriorContinuar »