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CHAPTER XIII.

SEVENTEENTH CENTURY-THE STJERNHJELM AND THE GERMANICO

ITALIAN SCHOOLS.

THE effects of the Reformation were soon seen in the literature of Sweden as of other countries. The puerile mysteries, and long-winded allegorical moralities, vanished before the aroused understanding of the age. Legends and absurd pretended miracles fled before the keen spirit of inquiry. A thousand owls and bats of superstition and superstitious credulity which had haunted for ages the darkened purlieus of the abased human mind, precipitately departed as the light of a new day was poured into it. Everything became more real, palpable, and allied to the life and business of the world. The drama was removed from the cloister and the church to its more legitimate stage in the midst of social life, and monks gave way to secular actors. With all this, true poetry was not banished ; it received no injury; but, on the other hand, the most decided advantage ; for the genuine elements of poetry have no connection with darkness, with fatuity or delusion. They exist in Nature, in knowledge, and in the heart of enlightened man. All these were left when the mists and eclipses of monkery ceased. Nature abroad presented her sublime and soul-inspiring features—her mountains, her rivers, her oceans and oceanshores, her forests dark with solemn shadows, and her flowery fields bright with the sun of heaven. Nature smiled with her glorious face into more intelligent eyes, into spirits more capable of comprehending and of loving her. What many authors have asserted, that Protestantism was essentially founded on reason, and that reason is opposed to imagination, and therefore to poetry, is false, and founded on a deficiency of true psychological knowledge. Reason and imagination, in a healthy and unfettered state, strengthen each other, assist each other, and by co-operation extend their mutual horizon, and achieve more elevated flights. Reason fettered by superstition; Imagination fed with false knowledge, or deprived of the true, becomes diseased and erratic. The answer to such writers is to point to Shakspeare and Milton, two of the most essentially Protestant writers in the world, and whose freer faith and more daring exercise of the imagination have given them a grandeur, an expansion and a completeness, which they could never have acquired under any other circumstances.

The intellectual development of this epoch in Sweden displayed itself first in dramatic attempts, under the two Messenii and George Stjernhjelm : continuing, with some improvement, what Olaus Petri had begun. Next it exhibited itself in lyrical poetry, at one time fashioned on the model of the Italian school, at another on that of the German; now love verses, now occasional verses, and finally, didactic and religious poems, the French taste then coming in and giving the public mind another direction.

Johannes Messenius and his son Arnold J. Messenius, were the first to reform the public taste, though they were themselves persons of no actual genius, and did little more than change the subjects from legendary and scriptural, to actual history. For the rest, the dramas of

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Johannes Messenius were as flat and spiritless as those of his predecessors. They were divided into from five to seven acts: and we discover in them the first tendency to a division into scenes. He wrote six dramas, or comedies, as all comedies were then called, like Dante's “Divine Comedies." These were “Svanhvita,” “Blancka Mareta," “Disa,” “Signill,” “Christmanna Comedia,"

" “ and the comedy of “Gustaf I.,” of which only the four first were printed. They are destitute of all poetical value, and their small dramatic worth consists in what we have just explained. Messenius was Professor of Jurisprudence at Upsala, and died in prison at Ulleåborg, in 1637, on a charge of participation in a conspiracy. His son, who was Historiographer of the kingdom, was dismissed as an accomplice in his father's crime, and left in manuscript a drama representing the whole of Gustaf I.'s reign!

The cotemporaries, and for the most part imitators of the Messenii, were Prytz, Bishop of Linköping ; Brask, a clergyman; Hjärne, Kolmodin and Beronius, who all wrote plays, and with these vanished all traces of the Messenius school.

Of much more merit were the productions of George Stjernhjelm. , He wrote dramas, lyrics, an epic, and didactic poems. In all he was distinguished far beyond his cotemporaries, and produced such an impression, that he literally decided the character of his country's literature for a century. His works are “ Hercules," an epic poem, or rather, an allegoric, didactic poem, which Hammarsköld pronounces to be the best poem of its kind in the Swedish language. It is written in hexameters, which, though not the first in the language, were at the time far the best; and is distinguished for much vigour, deep reflection, and power of description. He may truly be

styled the first artistic poet of Sweden, for drawing his subjects often from the Greek and Roman classics, he endeavoured to give them a classical form in his native tongue. His “Hercules" was wonderfully popular in

” his time. The King had it read aloud to him as he travelled in his carriage: Gustavus Adolphus, Oxenstjerna, his great minister, and himself a distinguished writer, were enthusiastic in its praise.

Besides this, he wrote, “ The Hanged Astrild ;" Sonnets and Epigrams; a Ballet, a Masque, “The Captive Cupid.” “Parnassus Triumphant;" “Recollection of Wedding Troubles ;" "The Manners of the Time,”

; “ ” and much miscellaneous verse. “ The Hanged Astrild," the idea of which is taken from Anacreon, is highly praised by Hammarsköld. One great merit of his works is, that they contributed to the purification and progress of the language; another, that they lashed unmercifully the follies and basenesses of the age. His writings also contain a singular collection of the proverbs and adages of the people. Stjernhjelm was a native of Dalecarlia. His father was engaged in mining, but he himself took an entirely literary turn. He was born in 1598; after completing his education, he travelled on the continent, and then became Professor in Westeras, magistrate in Livonia, and finally, royal antiquary. He died in 1672. He was the great man of the

age ;
and his chief followers in his

peculiar school were Lindsköld, Rjörk, Wallenius, and Count Stenbock, who chiefly wrote dramas and ballets; and many others who, more or less influenced by his style, yet gradually were lost in the growing Italian and German taste.

There are few other names during this century over which we must linger. The chief of these are Gunno Dahlstjerna, who introduced the Ottava Rima in his

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King's Skald,” a long poem on Charles XI.'s death, and made a bad translation of Guarini's “ Pastor Fido.” After him Gustaf Rosenhane wrote one hundred sonnets, and other things in prose and poetry. Christopher Leyoncrona was also a writer of sonnets and love verses. Thorsten Rudeen, Bishop of Linköping, wrote some good jocose love songs, and other good and bad small poems. Carl Gripenhjelm; Johan Liljenstedt was also a similar writer. These were of the Italian school.

Of the German school were Samuel Columbus, whose writings were published in 1680, under the name of the “ Biblical World," chiefly songs and epigrams, but much inferior to the writings of Stjernhjelm, who was his teacher and friend. Carl Gyllenborg; Holmström; Risell; Werwing ; Geïsler; and Olaf Broms.

LASSE LUCIDOR,

Or Lasse Johansson, was one of those wild comets which appear now and then in every land's literature -brilliant, erratic, blazing in a strange lurid light of genius, and soon extinguished. Lénström thus relates his short and wretched story :-Lasse Lucidor was a shipwrecked genius; in his life and in his poems a Diogenes, or, in comparison with Stjernhjelm, we might call him “the mad Socrates." While he revelled through his youth, he was at the same time a cynic. His friend Columbus thus describes him : “ Lucidor was of a thoroughly philosophic turn, and lived a long time on Norrmalm in Stockholm, in a summer-house in a garden, at least during the summer months, where his whole furniture consisted of a quire of paper and an inkstand. His bed was a bundle of straw, and his clothes were in good keeping with his chamber : such was the contempt of the

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