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The dwarfs mischievous mock me from the mountain, And the Neck gambols in the waters bright.
And fairy people hearing of our marriage
Thus flies my lovely Northern summer's-dreaming,
THE GOTHIC SCHOOL. TEGNÉR, GEIJER, ETC.
We arrive now at the hitherto most distinguished school of the Swedish literature, and of Sweden's two most distinguished literary men at its head-Geijer and Tegnér. Geijer is the prince of Sweden's historians, Tegnér of her poets. This school terms itself the Gothic School, in contradistinction to the Gallic and the Phosphoric. It regards neither of these prior schools as national, and it aspired itself to be national. It may be said to have taken its rise in the “Iduna," a periodical, in 1811; and which continued to advocate its views so long as it existed, that is, till 1824.
The Gothic School, aiming at a national spirit and character, drew its themes from what was not only national, but which embraced in that nationality all the Gothic race, as one great original family, possessing the same ancestry, the same original religion, the same traditions, and even still the same spirit, predilections and language, however broken into different dialects. In seeking to carry out these views, they refused, however, to adopt the practice of the Phosphorists, that of attacking, and as far as in them lay, destroying all those of a different literary faith. They declined to ally themselves to the Phosphorists, while they conceded their full right to enjoy their own tastes, and even approved of much belonging to those tastes. But they regarded their views as one-sided, and they protested against an indiscriminate crusade against all the authors of the older periods, in many of whom they recognized distinguished merits and beauties. They regarded the sweeping condemnation passed on Sweden's past poets, as a suicidal onslaught on the honour and mind of Sweden itself. Tegnér declared that he detested the German theories, and the fashionable Carbuncle poetry, as he called it—that is, the poetry of show and glitter; that a reform was necessary, but that it ought to be introduced in an independent manner, and on principles of a universal ' nature. For these liberal and just views they were denounced by the Phosphorist chiefs, especially Palmblad and Hammarsköld, as “Badge-prohibiting. Neutrals.” But the new school had truth, nature and the spirit of the nation and the times with them, and they speedily triumphed, compelling even their assailants to become their most enthusiastic encomiasts. First and foremost in the rank of its originators may be placed :
He it was who started the “Iduna," which speedily attracted universal attention ; excited a lively sensation, and eventually influenced the whole future of Sweden's literature. Geijer had been always a firm friend and associate of Atterbom; admired his genius, and encouraged his efforts for literary reform ; but his own intellectual character was of a totally different stamp, and he resolved to pursue for himself his own independent course. Endowed with less imagination than feeling, with more calm powers of research and intellectual inquiry than taste for metaphysical legerdemain, Geijer saw clearly enough that the new school would degenerate into utter German idealism, while the times required a national poetry at once popular and substantial, to replace the abandoned Gallic tinsel-work. Geijer and his friends were themselves Romantists, like Atterbom and his school, but Romantists who desired to feel the earth sometimes under their feet, and not always to be soaring in the clouds. The example of Oehlenschläger in Denmark, decided both Geijer and Tegnér in the adhesion to these views.
In “Iduna," buth Geijer and Tegnér produced early proofs of the wisdom of their choice, and of their power to reap the most luxuriant laurels from their native soil. Tegnér had already written his “Svea," with many traces of the old style about it, but, on reading Oehlenschläger's
Helge,” he determined to try a subject also from the Saga times, and “ Frithiof,” was the result, portions of which he published from time to time in the “ Iduna.”
Geijer, on his part, produced and published there some of his best poems, as “ The Last Scald,” “ The Viking,” “ The Last Champion,” and others of the same class, which are reckoned among the most precious treasures of Swedish literature. As we have given many of the ancient Visor, and as these are of precisely the same genus, though in a modern form, we shall omit them, and quote in preference a specimen of his prose. For the present, we add only the character of his poetry, as given by one of his best critics : “That which gave to Geijer's verse so great and immediate a popularity over the whole Phosphorite School, was the individual character of the ancient North-seriousness and - simplicity which animated it. People recognized themselves again-- which, with the best will in the world, they could not do in the fog-world of the Academy-as still living in that beloved old North,
amid rocks and lakes, amongst natural pine-trees and unassuming anemones. And how was it possible that they should not feel themselves happy in having escaped into the fresh air-into that scenery so melancholy, so impressive, so irresistible, after they had sate for half a century sipping poetic lemonade in the French drawing-rooms so artificial, close and musk-scented !”
“Geijer,” says the same critic, “ is equally born a
‘ musician, a poet, and historian. He is a sort of natural singer, or, he is rather a natural Scald than an artificially accomplished poet. Like Bellman, he has composed music to many of his small poems, a music certainly not perfect according to the strict rules of art, but partaking of that immediate inspiration which so transportingly expresses itself in the naïve, melancholy sound of the old popular airs. The Little Collier Boy' is precisely one
· of these simple songs in which the words and the music are so thoroughly blended :
“. My father to the pit must go ;
My mother sits at home to spin ;
And then a loving wife I'll win.
Far off, amongst the woods !'
“ The old Northman Scald has, of late years, written both words and music expressly for Jenny Lind; and I shall never forget the delight with which the profound historian nodded his approbation to the young singer as she sung one of his compositions in a great company at the piano. It made him happy as a child, the excellent old man, and you certainly could not have drawn him thence, had you informed him that the whole of the royal archives were in a blaze.”