Imágenes de página

It appears that he was on intimate terms with an old miser, whom he had induced to lend him a large sum of money on his promissory notes. The amount of this money is said to have been about eighteen thousand rixdollars banco. When the old gentleman one day looked over his papers, he missed these promissory notes, charged Almquist with their abstraction, and threatened to give notice about it to the police. Almquist, however, persuaded him not to do so, saying that he would give him another set of promissory notes, which he did, but signed with a fictitious name.

Meanwhile, the old man was several times taken ill, and it was found that arsenic had been mixed in water-gruel, which he used to take, and also in a bottle of brandy, and it was proved almost to a certainty that Almquist was the perpetrator of this diabolical double crime of forgery and attempted murder. He escaped, by aid of a false passport, in the beginning of June last, to Hamburg, and thence to London, where he spent part of the summer, and probably was a no unfrequent visitor of the Great Exhibition. According to the Swedish papers, he is now in America. The publication of his notorious novel “ Det går an," phrase equivalent to“ Ca ira," in which he advocated very loose notions respecting matrimony, insisting that people should be at liberty to contract and dissolve marriages ad libitum, gave the first shock to his popularity ; but, since the discovery of this last horrid deed, he has been justly regarded by the whole country as a monster, and, we believe, not a single voice in all Sweden has been raised in his defence, or exculpation from the crime attributed to him.


The remaining poets of this section are Vitalis, Livijn, Dahlgren and Fahlcrantz. We can only make brief allusion to them.

Vitalis, whose real name was Erik Sjöberg, wrote some excellent religious poems, as “ Pious Life,” the “Song of the Solitary in the Great Desert ;" but in his “ Comic Phantasies,” he jests at this very class of compositions, which is not calculated to inspire us with much faith in his serious writings. He died in 1828, at the age of thirty-four, and the same year his “ Collected Poems” appeared in a second edition.

Clas Livïjn was best known as a novelist, where we shall shortly meet him. Dahlgren, who also died a few years ago, published a great quantity of matter, some in prose and some in poetry, in an annual calendar, sometimes under one name, sometimes another, as “Freya," “The Evening Star,” “The Morning Star," " The Maiden in the Green,” “The Tower of Babel,” “The Sylphide, " etc. He is author of "Mollberg's Letters," a romance ;

Argus in Olympus,” a comedy, etc. He is a humorist, who had an ambition to resemble Bellman; but is in his own character and vein an amusing writer.

Christian Erik Fahlcrantz, Professor of Theology in Upsala, is the author of a very celebrated humorous poem, called “Noah's Ark ;" and of a yet unfinished poem of great merit, “ Ansgarius,” the Apostle of the North, the first attempt in Sweden at a great religious poem. “Fahlcrantz," says Sturzenbecher, “is now an influential and

, very reverent Professor of Theology; but years ago, when he was not so reverent, he abounded with wit and fun. He stands as the successor of Tegnér in the faculty of saying good things. If he were in Berlin he would be the King of the Eckenstehers.” He adds a good anecdote of him : Fahlcrantz went one day into the room of Atterbom, where he did not find the author, but saw

on his desk two lines, the commencement of a new poem :

“ The sunbeams together converging,
Made the stream like a fire-sea appear ;"

Fahlcrantz quietly added :


“ And the fish in a sweat, cried, emerging :
'Fy! the devil ! how hot it is here !'”

[ocr errors]

Professor Fahlcrantz is the Sydney Smith of Sweden. He was, a few years ago, in England ; and our pleasant

! remembrance of him is that of seeing him, with another Swedish friend, throw himself on the grass of our lawn with a dish of grapes between them, as little troubling themselves about theology, poetry or romance, as two merry school-boys. Fahlcrantz is now Bishop of Westerås.



THERE are many names yet in the field of Swedish poetry, and those chiefly of living poets. Our limits will allow us only to name them. Prominent amongst them stand Wadman, Ingelman, Wieselgren, Böttiger and Runeberg. He to whom we shall here devote the most of our attention, as the most characteristic, is the last.


Runeberg is a Finn by birth, though he writes in Swedish ; and that has been a great advantage to him, in rescuing him from the mere indulgence in that easy manufacture of lyrical and occasional poetry, which is the fatality of the Swedes, and which makes so many of their poets only look like individual sheep of the same flock and breed, with the same wool, the same build, the same coloured legs and faces. Finland has its own vein of poetry, though it cannot be said to have a national literature. Having, for a great number of centuries, existed only as a province, it has had no chance of creating a national literature ; but it has, nevertheless, a native poetry. Amid its solitary forests, its wide dark moorlands, its lonely lakes, it was impossible that poetry should not visit her people, and it has done so. Finland has her own mythology, totally different to that of Sweden and Denmark. Amid her woods and moorlands wanders invisibly, but yet felt, the good old Wäinämöinen, the god of song, with his lyre framed from the wood of the sighing birch-tree, strung with six golden hairs of an enamoured maiden, and with its golden screws dropped from the tongue of the melodious cuckoo. Sometimes he sits on the rocks by the ocean, and lets Ahti, the god of the sea, and Wellamo, his goddess, hear its enchanting tones. Then, again, he wanders inland, and approaches Tapiola, the palace of Tapio, the god of the woods, that ancient palace of stone, with its golden windows, built in the deepest and most remote depths of the primeval forests. There gather round him Suvetar, the goddess of the summer, Etela fanning them gently with her soft south wind, the fair Mielikki and Tellervo, lovely nymphs of the woods, and even Ukko, the mightiest of heaven's powers, thunders his applause from the dark-purple cloud. Even to the deep abode of Kalma, death’s monarch, can the harp of Wäinämöinen penetrate with its all-enchanting sound.

There, still on summer evenings, stretched by the shore of some forest lake, unseen, does he sing to the listening herdsmen and maidens, how Kullervo, the son of Kaleva, the great ancestor of all Finnish heroes, served the wicked wife of Ilmarin, the smith; how he tended her herds and flocks in the forest pastures; how she put a stone into his loaf, and how he avenged all her injustice to him. He sings how Ahti, under the name of Lemminkäinen, pursued his wild adventures amongst the maids of the isles; and how he himself wooed and lost Wellamo, Joukahainen's sister. So sings Wäinämöinen :


« AnteriorContinuar »