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Once bright were thy charms, like the rose breathing perfume
In presenting copious specimens of the more characteristic poetry of Stagnelius, we have left ourselves little room to speak of its other varieties. He has written in almost every form of poetic literature-tragedy, epic, opera and psalms, ballads, dancing and drinking songs. In some of these he has not particularly succeeded. His hymns are much inferior to what might have been expected from so feeling and religious a spirit. His ballads and lyrical poems, of a more general kind, are exquisite His “Martyrs” is a powerful and masterly performance, and unequalled in its kind by any Swedish author. The subject of it is Perpetua and her Companions, and the prayer which she teaches her little boy is one of the most touching and admirable religious effusions in any language. “ Wladimir” is an equally splendid heroic poem, in vigorous hexameters. Wladimir, the yet Pagan Prince of Novogorod, is besieging the city of Theodosia, when a captive maiden is brought before him, who immediately excites a profound passion in him.
Hastily opened the doors, and into the monarch's proud presence
empire Beseeching she turnéd her eyes, hereyes all saddened with weeping.
She proves to be Anna, the sister of the Emperor Basilius. Wladimir at once releases her, and following her to Constantinople, sues for her hand, which is granted. He embraces the Christian faith, and plants it in Russia. The story is simple, but the execution is perfect.
Stagnelius was comparatively unknown during his lifetime, and many of his poems are his first sketches, as he left them, many the merest fragments; but he is now acknowledged as one of the greatest names of Sweden.
J. C. L Almquist is certainly one of the ablest and most varied writers of Sweden. There is scarcely a department of literature in which he has not written, and written not merely well, but with a wit, brilliancy, power and novelty that astonish you. Poetry, the drama, romance, though they have issued in numerous volumes from his pen, form but a small part of his collective labours, or of the immense field over which he has wandered in his seven-league boots, reaping all sorts of harvests, gathering all sorts of products, from the potato of Sweden to the palm-date of Africa; from the cocoa-nut of Otaheite to the tea-leaf of Hong-Kong. He has written legends from New Holland, and a life of Hector; he has written on the condition of the poor in Sweden, on the honour of labour, in advocacy of education. He is a decided friend of progress, and the improvement of the social condition. Like Southey, Lovell, and Co., he had his
Pantisocracy,” and not only wrote his proposal for a new “Man-home Confederacy,” but went a step further than our English Pantisocrats, and endeavoured to put it in practice, as we shall see. He wrote an essay on the treatment of ennui, another on the new contest of opinion, on the union of the epic and dramatic in literature. He wrote a history of the world on a plan of his own, and called it the "Saga of the Human Race.” He wrote “Writings for the People,” he wrote the “Gospel of Health,” and
Prop of Man," religious treatises; and alongside of this, “Colombine," a sort of Rousseau automaton, to show that a woman who has no knowledge of Christianity, and becomes the last thing that it is universally thought a woman ought to be, may possess a "real beauty of the soul,” and be just as good as any Christian. hand, this strange man exhorts to Christian piety, and exhorts the people to ennoble themselves by virtue and knowledge; and with the other, endeavours to show that religion is totally unnecessary.
But this is not all. He has written a whole row of
elementary books on arithmetic, mathematics, and the sciences. On this account he is called a reallist. These different treatises give him in Sweden the title of being a man of practical, plain, popular views; but how very practical he is in his works of fiction, the titles themselves may indicate. His “ Törnrosens Book" is a collection of original stories of the most extraordinary and conflicting kind-many full of singular beauty, many as singularly fantastical, but here we only mean to give a few of their titles as the works of a practical man. Schems-elNikar,” a Nubian epic; “The Wolf's Daughter;" “ Isodorus of Tadmor;” and “Marjam,” also an Eastern
“ dramatic piece. “The Swan-Cave in Ipsara ;” “Ormus and Ahriman;" “Semiramis ;" “ The Little She-bear," and the like. But the mixture of practical sobrieties and excursions wild as ever old woman made on a broomstick, with no few sudden turns, and as startling contrasts of opinion, have made even his most admiring friends doubt sometimes his sanity. “When,” say they,
“When,” say they, “ we compare part with part, fragment with fragment, they seem to have resulted from different points of view, different aspects of the same world. Sometimes you find him contending for the life of nature as higher than spiritual life, for suicide, for a Simonian idea of marriage, a superficial conception of the Christian religion, a sort of ceremonial Catholicism without art or process of a deeper and more inward kind. And, again, you come upon an expression of the most entire Christian resignation, and acceptance of its heartfelt power. All this amidst so much that is strange, and falsely original, as well in isolated parts of his works as in reference of the parts to the whole, demonstrate a want of inward harmony, which speaks also in his assertion : 'I paint so, because it pleases me to paint so, and life is not otherwise.'
The fact appears to us, that Almquist, with all his talent, is a very considerable charlatan-has a good share of the quack in him ; and we do not wonder at one of his critics saying, that he never reads his most beautiful things without feeling as if he sate on the edge of a volcano, and might at any moment be shot up a few miles into the air. There is an odd mixture of Lamennais, Eugène Sue, Dumas, Rousseau and Lamartine in him, with an element of the will-o'-the-wisp, quite his own. Amongst those stories of his which are considered the most practical, and drawn from real life, are “Skällnora Mill” and “ Ramido Marinesco.” In the mill, which is a saw-mill, a certain Jan Carlson, to get his sister's property, poisons his sister, and then endeavours to get her husband hanged, on the charge of being the real murderer. Carlson then, in the mill, tempts the maid to give false evidence against her master ; but while doing this, is caught by the machinery and killed. Then comes a little bird, looks at the body, nods its satisfaction to the forgiving parties, who bury the body of Carlson, and thus it ends !
“Ramido Marinesco” is the son of the notorious Don Juan, who, being a very virtuous and promising youth, is sent from Majorca to Spain, to distinguish himself and make a good marriage. Distinguish himself he does; but having fallen in love successively with four most beautiful ladies of high family, he finds always, when just going to be married, that every one is his own father's daughter. Giving up all hope of ever getting a wife, he returns home, and there falls desperately in love with a portrait of a young lady of overwhelming beauty, painted by his father, and which, spite of the endeavours of his mother to hide it, is hung up in the family chapel. Don Ramido, kissing this picture excessively, is poisoned by the paint; for Don Juan mixed poison with his colours