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the pupil-teacher at the night-school is really a permission not to teach him ; for what amalgamation can there be between the studies of the rough, unlettered young men who present themselves at night-schools, and of a boy capable of teaching in a day-school? A probable result would no doubt be the substitution of a night-school for an afternoon-school--a proposal of Mr. Fraser's, the adoption of which appears to have made him a warm advocate for the Code. But this is not what is wanted. It is not desirable that any young enough to attend the day-school should attend the night-school, and there shame the ignorance of their untaught but willing elders. Nor, on the other hand, is it desirable that boys and girls should attend school but once in the day. The attendants at the day-school and the attendants at the night-school must be different, as they differ in age, though they belong to the same class. Let them be regarded as separate schools, and let adequate help be given when they are under satisfactory management, according to the need of each, and not according to the relation which they bear each to the other. The Committee of Council created the masters of day-schools; by a similar machinery they may create masters of night-schools. A practical plan of this sort would soon multiply night-schools, as it has already provided day-schools; and we have sufficient confidence in the zeal of the parochial clergy to believe that the one set of schools would be under their management and control as much as the other.
Art. IV.-1. The Story of Burnt Njal; or Life in Iceland at
the end of the Tenth Century. From the Icelandic of the Njal's Saga. By George Webbe Dasent. 2 vols. 8vo. Edin
burgh, 1861. 2. Iceland; its Volcanoes, Geysers, and Glaciers. By Charles
S. Forbes. London, 1860. 3. The Oxonian in Iceland ; or Notes of Travel in that Island in
the Summer of 1860. By the Rev. Frederick Metcalfe.
London, 1861, 4. Oxford Essays. London, 1858.
T the entrance to the Arsenal in Venice stand a pair of
colossal lions, brought from Athens in 1687, when that city was taken by the Venetians under Francesco Morosini. The lions, which are of antique workmanship, and have been celebrated in verse by Goethe, stood originally in the Piræus ; and on the body of one of them is carved a Runic inscription, which has recently been deciphered and explained by the learned
Northern archæologist, M. C. C. Rafn. It records the capture of the Piræus by Harald Hardrada ; that famous • King of Norse' to whom his namesake, Harold of England, promised seven feet of ground, or somewhat more, as he was a tall man,' when the Saxon king met and defeated him at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, about a month before he fell himself at Hastings. Before he became King of Norway, Harald had been Captain of the Varangian Guard at Constantinople ; and after the fall of the Piræus had, no doubt, employed the hand of one of his countrymen to trace, in the mystic characters of the North, the story of his conquest on the old Greek lion.
The fiercest Viking spirit had become somewhat tamed before the days of Harald Hardrada; but this singular monument, with the strange mixture of races and countries which belongs to its history, is, perhaps, one of the most suggestive memorials of the Northern sea-rovers remaining in Europe. Full of interest as are all the details of their story, there is nothing about it which takes a firmer hold on the imagination than the wide stretch of their wanderings and conquests, the consequent jostling of the old world and the new, and the sharply-contrasted pictures thence arising, which the Sagas indicate even more frequently than they supply at full length. Far wanderings and strange adventures are at once suggested when we read of a robe of Byzantine silk, embroidered with golden palm-leaves, worn by some Kiartan or Thorolf, and glancing in the red firelight of an Icelandic drinking-hall; or when we find the same Greek word as Homer would have used, employed to designate the support of the mighty vessel of mead or of beer which cheered the hearts of Norse sea-kings on the shores of Caithness, or under the shadow of Heckla. * To meet Goliath of Gath in an Icelandic version of his story, rejoicing in the title of that accursed Viking,' is scarcely more startling or unexpected.†
Hoards of Byzantine and Oriental coins, with Greek and Cufic inscriptions, are still brought to light from time to time in Iceland and Norway ;-tangible relics of the old sea-kings, and proofs of their distant wanderings. Traces of their ancient presence may be found, too, on shores far from their own countries, in the shape of some monumental stone with its dragons and carved runes, or of such an inscription as that on the Venetian lion.
* • Trapeza' is the word used for the beer-table in more than one Saga. Possibly a support for the great mead-vat was itself a refinement brought from Byzantium.
+ The word viking,' as Mr. Dasent points out, is in no way akin to 'king.' • It is derived from “vik," a bay or creek, because these sea rovers lay moored in bays or creeks on the look-out for merchant ships. The "ing" is a well-known ending, meaning, in this case, occupation or calling. In later times the word is used for any robber,' as in the Biblical paraphrase referred to above.-Dasent, vol. ij. p. 353.
But what remains of their influence on the cognate races with whom they mixed, first as conquerors and then as colonists? And how far is it possible to recognize the lingering presence of the spirit of the North, not only in the kirks' and bys' which dot the eastern and northern counties of England, and in the Scandinavian words and phrases which occur in the local dialects, but also in the dispositions and character of the people themselves? Without by any means asserting with Mr. Laing that we derive little or nothing from our Saxon ancestors, and that we are indebted to the infusion of Scandinavian blood for every free institution and good gift we possess, we may at least admit that the Northman has had his full share, both through the settlements of the Danelagh and the great conquest at Hastings, in the gradual formation of
• This happy breed of men—this earth—this England.' Hence, besides the picturesque character of the narratives which show us the Northman in his own land—besides their strongly-contrasted colours, and their wild lights and shadesthey have for us an especial interest as presenting us with fulllength portraits of our own ancestors—on one side at all eventsdrawn with the minutest accuracy of detail, and as full of life and character as the most speaking canvases of Titian or Giorgione. It is not a little interesting to compare the features of such remote kinsmen with those of their later descendants, and to trace the Icelander of the tenth century in the hospitable English Franklin of Chaucer's time, and, still more clearly, in the Condottieri captains—such as Hawkwood and Sir John Fastolfe-of the fifteenth century, or in the adventurous searovers-such as Drake and Cavendish—of the sixteenth and seventeenth.
For the best aid toward such a comparison the English reader is under the deepest obligation to Mr. Dasent. The Northman is nowhere more completely shown to us than in the Sagas of ancient Iceland ; and of these none is more important or more valuable, from the variety and minuteness of its details, than the Njal's Saga- the Story of Burnt Njal'- of which we are now presented with a most admirable translation. Only those who are acquainted, however imperfectly, with this grand old story in its original language, can fully appreciate the beauty and fidelity of Mr. Dasent's version. Not only is the clear and simple English such as modern writers—to their own infinite lossseldom care to employ, but, without any affectation of antiquity,
the words most nearly related to the original Icelandic have been chosen wherever it was possible; and the result is that the translation retains not only the substance, but the colour and character of the original inore completely than any version from a foreign language with which we are acquainted. Mr. Dasent has had his predecessors in the wide field of Northern literature; but his sketch of the Northmen in Iceland,' contained in the volume of • Oxford Essays' for 1858, and the Introduction and Appendices to the present translation of the Njal's Saga, are beyond all doubt the most valuable aids to a real knowledge of the ancient North which the English reader has hitherto received.
Of all the Icelandic Sagas, the Njala, according to Mr. Dasent, whose judgment will be confirmed by every competent scholar,
bears away the palm for truthfulness and beauty. To use the words of one well qualified to judge, it is, as compared with all similar compositions, “as gold to brass." Like all its brethren, or at least like all those which relate to the same period, the Njal's Saga was not committed to writing until about one hundred years after the events which it records. It was handed down orally, told at the Althings, ' at all great gatherings of the people, and over many a fireside; on sea-strand and river-bank, or up among the dales and hills ;' until at last, certainly before the year 1200, it was moulded into its present form. Of its general truth there can be no doubt. It was,' says Mr. Dasent, 'considered a grave offence to public morality to tell a story untruthfully; and besides internal evidence, the genuineness of Njala is confirmed by other Sagas, and by songs and annals, the latter of which are the earliest written records which belong to the history of Iceland.' Much,' says the translator, “passes for history in other lands on far slighter grounds; and many a story in Thucydides or Tacitus, or even in Clarendon or Hume, is believed on evidence not one-tenth part so trustworthy as that which supports the narratives of these Icelandic story-tellers of the eleventh century. We may, therefore, safely trust to them for what no other country perhaps in the world — certainly no other in Europe-can supply; minute pictures of life at one of the most important periods of national history—that of the introduction of Christianity. It is this which gives an especial interest to the Njala, the story of which extends from the middle of the tenth to the first years of the eleventh century; thus embracing a period
pure heathenism--the first attempts at conversion-and the final reception of the new faith in the Althing of the year 1000. We shall give our readers a sufficient idea of the Saga, and introduce them to some of its most picturesque passages, if we sketch as clearly as possible the history of this change in Iceland, availing ourselves largely of the stores collected by Mr. Dasent, but drawing also from such other authorities as are within our reach.
The Norwegian Jarls and freemen who fled from the novel rule of Harald Fairhair (A.D. 860-933) established themselves for the most part on the coasts of England, Ireland, and Scotland, and on the neighbouring islands—especially Orkney and Shetland. Some few—the first of whom was Ingolf, in the year 874—found their way across the Northern Sea to Iceland ; but that country did not receive its most important colonists for some years after. Harald, who succeeded in consolidating the royal power in Norway after the fashion of Charlemagne on the Rhine and in the Gauls, and of Athelstane in England, had rendered himself especially hateful to the freemen of Norway by his attacks on their ancient rights; and after they had withdrawn from the struggle, besides ravaging the chief shores of Western Europe, they revenged themselves on their former king by incessant pillages on those of Norway itself. Harald determined to attack them in their new settlements:
He called,' says Mr. Dasent, on his chiefs to follow him, levied a mighty force, and, sailing suddenly with a mighty fleet which must have seemed an armada in those days, he fell upon the Vikings in Orkney and Shetland, in the Hebrides and Western Isles, in Man and Anglesey, in the Lewes and Faroe—wherever he could find them he followed them up with fire and sword. Not once but twice he crossed the sea after them, and tore them out so thoroughly, root and branch, that we hear no more of these lands as a lair of Vikings, but as the abode of Norse Jarls and their Udallers, who look upon the new state of things at home as right and just, and acknowledge the authority of Harald and his successors by an allegiance more or less dutiful at different times, but which was never afterwards entirely thrown off.”— (vol. i. pp. xi., xii.)
Great numbers of the Vikings thus driven from the British Isles took refuge in Iceland. More than half the names recorded in the Landnáma-bók—the · Land-taking' or Doomsday-book of Iceland, which contains the names and genealogies of the first settlers-are those of freemen who had before been settled on the coasts of Great Britain.
For ample descriptions of the manners, the institutions, and the religion brought from Norway to Iceland by the first colonists, we refer our readers to Mr. Dasent's Introduction. We are here more immediately concerned with them in so far as they influenced the character of the Icelanders before conversion, and thereby affected the change of faith itself, and the nature of the Christianity which was then introduced. Two great points