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With the arrival of the kingly travel- begins to show herself as possessed by lers, and their reception at Iceland, that pride which the wise man tells us we cannot afford to detain ourselves. was not made for man, and which, Suffice it to say, that, by the aid of wherever it is harboured, is not long the secret invisible cloak (Tarnkappe) of banishing love, confidence, peace, of Siegfried, and his good sword and happiness from palace as from Balmung, Gunther is greeted by the cabin. The haughty spouse of Gunvanquished Brunhild as her legitimate ther looks with an evil eye at Sieglord and master; and sails back with fried, whom she had known only in him to Worms, where she is most his assumed character as vassal of her hospitably and magnificently received husband, judging it an affront that by her mother-in-law, dame Uta, and her sister-in-law should be given her now sister, the lovely Kriemhild. away to a mere vassal. The respect A double marriage then takes place; with which the hero of Netherland is that of King Gunther with Brunhild, treated by her husband, and the whole and that of Siegfried with Kriem- court, she cannot and will not underhild ; and the festivities which then stand. Either he is a vassal, and then took place furnish the poet with her pride is justly offended at the unanother opportunity for exercising his equal match ; or he is not, and then descriptive powers, and displaying Gunther had deceived her with regard the sunny joyousness of his social to the true character of his companion nature. Herein, as in many other and there must be some mystery points, he is quite Homeric; a cer- beneath this, which, as a true daughter tain magnificence and amplitude in of Eve, she can have no rest till she the common acts of eating and drink- unveils. Possessed by these feelings, ing being as essential to his idea of she takes a course worthy of the maspoetry as the luxuriant energy of culine character for which she had more lofty functions. But in the early been so notable. On the midst of this connubial hilarity, the marriage-night she resumes her old black spot of destiny begins percep. virgin obstinacy, and will not be tibly to enlarge into a threatening tamed:cloud; and the stately Brunhild
*** Sir knight, said she, it suits not-you'd better leave me free
From all your present purpose—it must and shall not be.
Till I am told that story. This fretted Gunther sore.” Alas, poor Gunther! So has it ever took a cord, which she wove strong fared with men who marry women and tough about her wrist, and with with beards. The embraceless bride that
“ The feet and hands of Gunther she tied together all,
Sure from the doughty damsel he all but met his death." In this dilemma Siegfried with his lord ; and both these, in an evil hour, invisible cloak was again called in, he gave to his wife" a gift that misand did strange service a second time chief wrought,” as we shall presently in helping Gunther to subjugate his see. refractory yoke-fellow. Brunhild After these achievements, the horny then became tame, and, like Samson, hero retired home to the land of his lost her wondrous strength; while father Siegmund and his mother Siegfried, as a sort of memorial of this Siegelind; and after remaining ten notable service, secretly abstracted years with him, “ the fair queen, his and brought with him a golden ring consort, bore him at last an heir." which the stately lady used to wear All this time the haughty spirit of on her fine finger, and likewise the Brunhild was brooding over the deep girdle with which she had tied her wrong.
“Why should the lady Kriemhild herself so proudly bear?
And to clear up this matter, as come with a great company to well as for the sake of old kindness, Worms, and are entertained in the an invitation is sent by King Gunther sumptuous fashion that, as before to the heroine in Netherland, which is remarked, the material old minstrel accepted. Siegfried and Kriemhild, describes with so much zest. and the hoary-headed old Siegmund,
“Sore toiled the chief cook, Rumolt; Oh ! how his orders ran
They dressed a world of dishes for all the expected train." The high festal was kept for eleven Siegfried's honour, failed to deafen days; but the loud merriment, which the evil whisper of pride and jealousy so luxuriantly was bellowed forth to in the dark heart of Brunhild.
“Then thought Queen Brunhild, Silent I'll no longer remain ;
However to pass I bring it, Kriemhild shall explain
Many a land she startled with horror and affright.” The cloud thickens; and the first of Brunhild than herself. She said thunder-plump, prophetic of the des- that, to prove her equality with the tined delage, will immediately burst. wife of Gunther, she would walk into Jealousy is a spider that never wants the cathedral publicly before her ; flies. In the midst of the tilting and and she did so. This was bad junketing, the two queens—as queens, enough ; but, following the inspiration like other idle women, will sometimes of her womanly wrath once roused, do-began to discourse on the merits she divulged the fatal fact of her of their respective husbands ; in the possession of Brunhild's ring and course of which conversation, the girdle—expressing, at the same time, most natural thing in the world was plainly her belief that her husband that Brunhild should proclaim her old Siegfried could not have come by cherished belief that Siegfried, as a these tokens in any way consistent mere dependent vassal, could never with the honour of the original posbe put into comparison with Gunther, sessor. Here now was a breach bewho was his king and superior. On tween the two queens, that no human this, Kriemhild, whose gentleness, art could heal. In vain was Siegwhere the honour of her lord was fried appealed to by Ganther, to concerned, fired into lionhood, gave testify to the chastity of Brunhild. the retort with a spirit more worthy
«Women must be instructed,' said Siegfried the good knight,
Such overweening folly puts me indeed to shame.'”
“ Hasty words have often sundered fair dames before.” The haughty princess of Iceland after Siegfried has disappeared from now perceives that she had from the the scene. This Hagan is a person beginning been practised upon by of gigantic energy and great expeGanther, and that Siegfried had per- rience, but utterly destitute of gentleformed the principal part in the plot. ness and tenderness; all his aims are Against him, therefore, she vows re- selfish, and a cold calculating policy venge; and, in order to accomplish is his highest wisdom. Conscience his purpose, takes into her counsels he seems to have none ; and, except Hagan chief of Trony, one of the for a purpose, will scarcely trouble most prominent characters in the himself to conceal his perpetration of poem, and who in fact may be looked the foulest crimes. He has the aspect on as the hero of the second part, of Napoleon-as he is painted by the graphic pencil of Emerson. Like Kriemhild, he worms from her the Napoleon, he never hesitates to use secret of her husband's invulnerability, falsehood to effect his ends. Pre- or rather of his vulnerability-like tending extraordinary friendship for Achilles-on only one part of the body.
“ Said she ‘My husband's daring, and thereto stout of limb;
As from the dragon's death-wounds gushed out the crimson gore,
There only steel can harm him ; for that I tremble now.” Possessed of this secret, Hagan secretly draws Siegfried aside to refinds it easy to watch an opportunity fresh himself, after hard sport, from for despatching him. A hunting party the clear waters of a sylvan well; is proposed ; and when the hunters and, while he is kneeling down, transare dispersed in the tangled wilds of fixes him between the shoulders on the Wask (Vosges) forest, Hagan, the fatal spot with a spear. Thenwith Gunther, who was accessory,
“His lively colour faded ; a cloud came o'er his sight;
At last, firm in the meadow, lay mighty Siegfried dead. The death of Siegfried is the catas- old Siegmund returns home in silent trophe of the first part of the poem. sorrow, for he is too weak to offer Kriemhild laments the death of her resistance; and, to complete the peerless knight with a love more than matchless wrong, the thorough-workthe love of common women, and ing, never-hesitating Hagan takes which feeds itself on the intense hatred unjust possession of the Niebelunof the murderer, and the inly.cherished gen treasure"-a famons hoard beexpectation of revenge. The hoary stowed by Siegfried on his wife-thus depriving the fair widow of the means was Hagan's motive for this, as for of external munificence, as he had all his crimes. He was never a villain formerly stopt her source of inward without a reason. consolation. Not avarice, but policy,
“A prudent man,' said Hagan, 'not for a single hour,
Would such a mass of treasure leave in a woman's power.
A deep desire of revenge now tite for revenge. The brothers of the takes possession of the once gentle king, however, his other counsellors, mind of Kriemhild; and all the milk and Dame Uta, urged the acceptance of her affections is metamorphosed of the proposal, with the hope thereinto gall. The best things, it is by, no doubt, of compensating in some proverbially said, when abused, be- degree to the royal widow for the income the worst; and so the revenge jury at whose infliction they had conof Kriemhild, revealed in the second nived. But all this moved not part of an essentially Christian poem, Kriemhild; only the distinct pledge works out a catastrophe far more given by Rudeger that he would help bloody than the warlike wrath of the her, when once the sharer of King heathen Pelidan, or the well-calcu- Etzel's throne, to avenge herself of all lated retribution worked by the bow her enemies, at length prevailed. She of the cunning Ulysses,
married a second husband mainly to * For Earth begets no monster dire
acquire the means of avenging the Than man's own heart more dreaded, death of the first. Under the protecAll-venturing woman's dreadful ire tion of Margrave Rudeger therefore, When love to woe is wedded.”
and with bad omens only from the We have now finished a rapid out- lowering brows of Sir Hagan, the line of nineteen adventures of the widow of Siegfried takes lier departure Niebelungen Lay; and there are thirty from Worms, and proceeding through such divisions in the whole poem. Bavaria, and down the Danube-after Our space forbids us to detail what being hospitably entertained by the follows with equal fullness; but the good bishop Pilgrin of Passan—arextracts already given will have been rives at Vienna, where she receives a sufficient to give the reader a fair idea magnificent welcome from the wideof the general character of the compo- ruling Etzel," and his host of motley sition. A brief summary of the pro- courtiers, pranked with barbaric pomp gress of the story, till it ends in the and gold, that far outshone the sanguinary retribution, may therefore brightest splendour of the Rhine. content us.
Polacks and Wallachians, Greeks and For thirteen years after the death Russians, Thuringians and Danes, of Siegfried, Kriembild remained a attend daily, and do knightly service widow. At the end of that period a in the court of the mighty King of the knightly messenger, Sir Rudeger of Huns. The marriage feast was held Bechelaren, came from Etzel, King of for seventeen days with all pomp and the Huns, requesting the fair sister of revelry; and after that the happy King Gunther to supply the place of monarch set out with Kriemhild for his queen, “ Dame Helca," lately de- his castle at Buda. There he dwelt ceased. Nursing silently the religion “in proudest honour, feeling nor woe of sorrow, the widow at first refused nor sorrow," for seven years, during steadfastly to give ear to any message which time Kriemhild bore him a son, of this description ; Hagan also, with but only one, whom the pious wife his dark far-seeing wisdom, gave bis prevailed with her lord to have bapdecided negative to the proposal, tised after the Christian custom. knowing well that, beneath the calm Meanwhile, in her mind she secretly exterior of time-hallowed grief, the harboured the same deep-rooted dehigh-hearted queen, never forgetting termination of most unchristian reby whose hand her dear lord had venge; and towards the dark Hagan fallen, still nursed the sleepless appe- delay only intensified her hatred. VOL. LXIX-NO. CCCCXXIII.
Accordingly, that she might find before the palace gate, and refused to means of dealing back to him the blow do homage to the Queen of the Huns which he had inflicted on her first in her own kingdom; and, as if to husband, she prevailed on Etzel to sharpen the point of her revenge, disinvite her brothers, with their attend- played across his knees his good ants, and especially Hagan, to come broadsword, that very invincible from the far Rhine, and partake the Balmung which had once owned no hospitality of the Huns in the East. hand but that of Siegfried. This disThis request, from motives partly of play of defiance was a fitting prelude kindness, partly of curiosity, was at to the terrible combat that followed. once responded to by all: only, as Though the knight of Trony was the usual, the dark Hagan stands alone, only object of Lady Kriemhild's and prophesies harm. He knew he hatred, connected as he was with the had done a deed that could not be rest of the Burgundians, it was impardoned; and he foresaw clearly possible that the sword should reach that, in going to Vienna, he was his heart without having first mowed marching into a lion's den, whence, down hundreds and thousands of the for him, certainly there was no return. less important subordinates. AccordBut, with a hardihood that never ingly, the sanguinary catastrophe of deserts him, if for no other rea- the tragedy consists in this, that in son than that no one may dare to order to expiate the single sin of call him a coward, he goes along Hagan--proceeding as that did origiwith the doomed band, the only con- nally out of the false dealing of Siegscious among so many unconscious, fried, and the wounded pride of who were destined to turn the halls Brunhild-the whole royal family of of Hundish merriment into mourning, the Burgundians or Niebelungers are and to change the wine of the ban- prostrated in heaps of promiscuous queters into blood. So far, however, slaughter with their heathen foemen, his dark anticipations prevailed with the Huns. The slaughter of the bis unsuspecting comrades, that they suitors, in the twenty-second book of marched in great force and well the Odyssey, is ferocious enough to armed; so that when, after encoun- our modern feelings ; but the gigantic tering some bloody omens on the long butchery with which the Niebelungen road, they did at length encounter Lay concludes outpurples that as far the false fair welcome of the injured as the red hue of Sylla's murders queen, they were prepared to sell their did the pale
castigation of common lives dearly, and to die standing. No politicians. Eight books are occupied sooner arrived than they were well in describing the details of this red advertised by the redoubted Dietrich ruin, which a woman's revenge workof Bern, (Verona,) then attached to ed; and the different scenes are Etzel's court, of the temper of their painted out with a terrific grandeur, hostess, and of the deathful dangers that resembles more the impression that awaited them behind the fair produced by some horrid opium show of regal hospitality. This in- dream than a human reality. Vicformation only steeled the high heart tim after victim falls before the Titanic of Hagan the more to meet danger in vastness of the Burgundian heroesthe only way that suited his temper, Gunther, and Gernot, and Gieselher, by an open and disdainful defiance. the valiant gleeman Volker, who He and his friend Volker, the “va. flourishes his broadsword with a liant gleeman," who plays a distin- humorous ferocity, as if it were his guished part in the catastrophe of the fiddlestick, and, above all, the dark poem, doggedly seated themselves Hagan himself:
“Well grown and well compacted was that redoubted guest;
And terrible his visage, and lordly was his gait." Finding her first attempt at mid- first commits her cause to Bloedel, night assassination fail, the Queen the brother of Etzel; but in an instant