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any country escaped it. England, from Pope to Cowper, bears abiding traces of the French influence upon its poets, in which the spirit of the imagination was frozen down into cold glittering models, till life and originality became extinct ; till imitator following upon imitator, there was a dearth of soul in the land, and men gravely asserted that everything had been said and done that could be said and done in poetry and general literature. What a glorious reply there has since been given to this oracular utterance of inanity and formalism, in Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley, Campbell, Southey, Coleridge, Dickens, Tennyson, and an almost countless host of great and original names, all the world knows. Germany suffered immensely from the Gallic mania, which was preeminently fostered by Frederick, miscalled the Great, of Prussia, where Voltaire and French fashions, French vice, French atheism and French poetry, so admirably described by Byron as “hurdy-gurdy music, monotony in wire," were enthroned and worshipped, amidst pigtails, powder and jack-boots. Klopstock, however much his merits might be over-rated by his cotemporaries—however much he might deserve the sarcasm of Coleridge, who, when some one called him “the German Milton,” replied, “Yes, a very German Milton!” still had the merit of first breaking up the French life-in-death reign of verse-smithery in Germany. In Denmark, we have seen
the same epidemic disease continuing to the same period (the close of the eighteenth century), and Baggesen, as its last champion, fiercely doing hopeless battle for its prolongation with Oehlenschläger. But in no country was this epidemic of Gallic formalism and surface glitter more strongly and enduringly prevalent than in Sweden. The marriage of Louisa Ulrika, the sister of Frederick II. of Prussia, with the King of Sweden, carried over a fresh contagion of Gallo-mania thither; and her son, Gustavus III., born amid this French influence, and educated in it both at home and in Paris, became the author of a new life to it in Sweden, and, in 1786, founded the Swedish Academy on the avowed model of the French Academy, and thus perpetuated its reign.
It is not our business here to enter far into the question of French literature and French taste, which even in France of late years has partaken, in some departments, of the revolutions which have unsettled that country; but we may briefly state, that, conferring upon their models the name of classical, and especially Greek, the French authors sought to dazzle the literati of other nations, and to win an undisputed acquiescence in their dogmas. They dwelt, therefore, emphatically on artistic organization--on forms, rules, unities and external polish. All that diverged from these stereotyped laws was denounced and ridiculed as barbarism. Shakspeare was the prince, or rather the monster, of all barbarism, in their eyes. Their straight gravel-walks, clipped hedges, trees cut into peacocks, and artificial cascades, were pronounced more true to nature than Nature's own woods, mountains, rivers and untrimmed foliage.
Literature in France was called upon to attend, to amuse, and to embellish the Court; and therefore it was absolutely necessary that it should be courtly, wittily superficial, superficially brilliant, strict in etiquette, and polite though not very moral in tone. It was employed in comedy, masques, birthday festivities, and flatteries : and men with good tact and supple backs, but no encumbrance of self-respecting genius, soon found promotion in it. The French taste was particularly prominent in the theatre, and from that quarter was, of course, rapidly brought under the notice of the whole public, and as
rapidly spread through the same medium over Europe. It pre-eminently celebrated the deeds of kings and men of rank and fashion, and by this means again diffused a quick and extensive imitation of their manners and modes of thinking. All other subjects and dramatis persone were condemned as vulgar and beneath the dignity of the dramatic muse. Even kings and heroes of unpolished ages were placed in the same category; and thus all the grand topics of the ancient times of such countries as England, Germany, and Scandinavia, were at one fell swoop consigned to the limbo of oblivion and contempt. The theory succeeded; and Shakspeare and many of his class who abounded with such subjects, and who, in the freedom of their native independence, introduced Hamlets, Macbeths, Lears, and had the gross barbarity to introduce into their tragedies interludes, with merry anomalies, as Falstaffs, Queen Mabs, and such monsters as Caliban, were regarded as Calibans themselves, and it was only by a grand fight that the sovereignty of Shakspeare and of common sense were restored.
On the continent, more than here, the attempt to engraft the French language, French manners and French gaity, on the Gothic speech, the Gothic open, manly, unadorned demeanour, and the Gothic gravity of spirit of the Northern nations, succeeded for nearly a century: and it is now our task to note the Swedish literature during the prevalence of this unnatural influence. The Swedes divide this period into three portions, which arrangement we shall follow.
1. THE MORNING OF GALLICISM.
THE DALIN PERIOD.
There is little evidence of real genius during this period, which is named after Dalin. The principal writers under it are Dalin himself, Fru Nordenflycht, Creutz and
Gyllenborg, and there would be as little pleasure in perusing their compositions as there would those of our own Yaldens, Spratts, Dukes, Cawthornes, and the like. The Gallo-mania was not yet confirmed, but there were strong evidences of its rapid advance; and improvement in style in these writers is no sufficient compensation for their common-places and platitudes. Dalin himself was the Court favourite of the Queen Louisa Ulrika. He was the son of a clergyman in Holland; was born in 1708; studied at the University of Lund, and became Clerk of Chancery in Stockholm. In 1737, he was appointed Royal Librarian ; he then travelled abroad, and on his return received a proposal from Government to write a History of Sweden. He was the tutor to the Crown Prince from 1751 to 1756, became Court Chancellor, and died at Drottningholm in 1753.
The influence which Dalin acquired must have resulted more from his favour at Court, and especially with the Queen, than from his genius, of which he certainly possessed little. He attempted various walks in poetry-epic, in his poem of “Swedish Freedom;" lyric, in his “Occasional Verses at Court;" dramatic, in “Brynhilda,” a tragedy; “The Envious One," a comedy; and in a pastoral drama. In none of them exists there
poetry : though there is much smartness and polished diction. He wrote verses on all trivial Court affairs, as congratulations, festive odes, birth and death poems, which have no other value for posterity than so many cast old clothes. In his comedy he is more successful than in tragedy or grave epic, because he is there clever and smart, while he lacks the true depth of thought and feeling necessary to a higher class of composition. His Visor were much admired because of their liveliness of style, but are wretched imitaions of the old Visor, from their possessing none of that
strong genuine nature and feeling which are the soul of the old ballads.
It is as a prose writer that Dalin is deserving of remembrance, and especially for his periodical, the “ Argus," which was brought out in 1732, in imitation of the “Spectator" of Addison, and continued till 1734. Through this, he conferred on the Swedish literature the same benefits which Addison conferred on that of Englanda great improvement in style, and the origination of a national periodical literature.
A very different person was Hedvig Charlotte Nordenflycht, the poetess of this period. She was in verse and life the Swedish Sappho. Possessed of a tender heart, of quick and powerful passions, she was a martyr to her affections, and her poetry is all love and sorrow, as her life was. In a better age, she would have been a better poetess; for she possessed the elements of poetry in no ordinary degree-passion, feeling, and imagination. She was born in Stockholm in 1718, and by her dying father was compelled to betroth herself to a humpbacked lover, a young mechanician, Tideman, who after three years' betrothal died. She then became acquainted with the Pastor Fabricius, a poet himself of some note, through her cousin and friend Kilingenberg, whose death she afterwards celebrated in verse.
A mutual and intense passion sprung up between Pastor Fabricius and herself, but, through the opposition of relatives, their marriage was prevented for four years, during which time, however, they never ceased to correspond, and often in verse. At length they were married, but in seven months death deprived her of her husband ; and her overwhelming grief on his loss threw her
; into a long and dangerous illness. Recovering in some degree from this, she hired a cottage in Södermanland, where she hung her room with pictures of mourning, and