« AnteriorContinuar »
own account, the natives are capable of superintending a herd of cattle, and bringing home the exact number, however nu. merous they may be :-an atchievement which it is difficult to suppose them able to perform if they knew no numbers beyond three. We think that Mr. C. is hasty also in supposing that the natives can have no measure of time without a knowlege of numbers. It is far from certain that, without numeration, it is not possible to measure time :—at least to ascertain the corresponding seasons of the year.
Of the variety of customs which Mr. C. relates as prevailing among this savage race, none perhaps seems so peculiarly their own, as well as curious in itself, as the following:
· The shedding of blood is always followed by punishment, the party offending being compelled to expose his person to the spears of all who choose to throw at him; for in these punishments the ties of consanguinity or friendship are of no avail. On the death of a person, whether male or female, old or young, the friends of the deceased must be punished, as if the death were occasioned by their neglect. This is sometimes carried farther than there seems occasion for, or than can be reconcilable with humanity.
• After the murder of Yel-lo-way by Wat-te-wal, his widow Nooroo-ing being obliged, according to the custom of her country, to avenge her husband's death on some of the relations of the murderer, meeting with a little girl named Go.nang-goo.lie, who was someway related to Wat-te.wal, walked with her and two other girls to a re. tired place, where with a club and a pointed stone they beat her so cruelly, that she was brought into the town almost dead. In the head were six or seven deep incisions, and one ear was divided to the bone, which, from the nature of the instrument with which they beat her, was much injured. This poor child was in a very dangerous way, and died in a few days afterwards. The natives to whom this circumstance was mentioned, expressed little or no concern at it, but seemed to think it right, necessary, and inevitable; and we understood that whenever women have occasion for this sanguinary revenge, they never exercise it but on their own sex, not daring to strike a male. Noo-roo-ing, perceiving that her treatment of Gonang.goo-lie, did not meet our approbation, denied having beaten her, and said it was the other girls ; but such men as we conversed with on the subject, assured us it was Noo-roo-ing, and added, that she had done no more than what custom obliged her to. The little victim of her revenge was, from her quiet tractable manners, much beloved in the town; and what is a singular trait of the inhumanity of this proceeding, she had every day since Yel-lo-way's death requested that Noo-roo-ing might be fed at the officer's hut, where she herself resided.' Savage indeed must be the custom and the feelings which could arm the hand against this child's life! Her death was not avenged, perhaps because they considered it as an ex. piatory sacritice. Dd2
This This custom prevails even where the death has been natural; and Mr. C. gives a variety of instances in which the natives practised it on such occasions.
Among the other curiosities which the rudeness of this people exhibits, the mode in which they obtain fire is not the least remarkable. It is attended with infinite labour, and is performed by fixing the pointed end of a cylindrical piece of wood into a hollow made in a plane; the operator twirling the round piece swiftly between both his hands, sliding them up and down until fatigued, when he is relieved by one of his companions, all of whom take their turns until fire is procured.'
Of the disorders which prevail among the natives, Mr. Collins mentions a cutaneous ailment like the itch; the small-pox, which sometimes made the most dreadful ravages ; and the lues veneren. Of the small-pox, it is remarkable that it was not communicated to the Europeans by contagion; and of the lues, it is also to be observed that it appears probable that it was known among the natives before the arrival of the colo. nists. This probability arises from their having given it a name,G 00-bah-rong.
It would exceed all reasonable bounds, were we to go farther into a detail of the many curious particulars relating to the natives of the country, which Mr. Collins has included in this part of his volume. Offering, therefore, our tribute of praise for the very accurate, methodical, and satisfactory accuunt which he has here given to the public, respecting the English Colony in New South Wales and its dependencies, we shall conclude by transcribing perhaps the most strange and unexpected anecdote which is to be found in this work. Who would have supposed that, among savages in a state of nature, real estates and hereditary property should be ascertained and allowed ? Such, however, appears to be the case :
• Their spears and shields, their clubs and lines, &c. are their own property; they are manufactured by themselves, and are the whole of their personal estate. But, strange as it may appear, they have also their real estates. Ben-nil-long, both before he went to England and since his return, often assured me, that the island Me. mel (called by us Goat Island) close by Sidney Cove was his own property ; that it was his father's, and that he should give it to Bygone, his particular friend and companion. To this little spot he appeared much attached; and we have often seen him and his wife Ba. rang-a-roo feasting and enjoying themselves on it. He told us of other people who possessed this kind of hereditary property, which they retained undisturbed.'
· We are sorry that this work is unprovided with an alpha. betical Index ; though it has, indeed, a copious table of Conknts, pointing out the principal materials of the chapters.
Art. Ill. Icelandic Poetry, or the Edda of Saemund translated into
English Verse. By A. S. Cottle, of Magdalen College, Cam. - bridge. 8vo. pp. 360. 68. Boards. Robinsons. OF Mr. Cottle's poetical talents we have repeatedly spoken
V with approbation (see Rev. vol. xxiii. p. 109, &c.); and his Icelandic, like his other poetry, is versified cften with vigor, and always with neatness, with grace, and with euphony. It sưffices not, however, to possess the command of one language in order to translate with propriety: an original must be un. derstood, or a version cannot depict its spirit and imitate its peculiarities. The Edda of Saemund was published at Copenhagen in 1787, accompanied with a very vicious Latin interpretation ; and with visionary mythological notes, which point out several fanciful resemblances between the legends of the North and South, and are every way unworthy of a philosophie cal antiquary. On this interpretation, Mr. Cottle uniformly relies for his construction of the text; and to these notes he is commonly indebted for his attempts at illustration. He has indeed occasionally profited by Percy's well-edited translation of Mallet's Northern Antiquities: but with the greater part of what else has been written on this topic, he seems scarcely at all acquainted. He will appear, therefore, to those who have cultivated these inquiries, to be somewhat behind-hand with his subject.
The Introduction begins by discussing with gravity the hypothesis of those writers, (who are they ?) who divide the original inhabitants of Europe into Celts and Sarmatians. Of all the antient inhabitants of Europe, there is only one minute nation, the Fins of Lapland, who can with any probability be referred to the Sarmatian or Slavonic stock. Poland, in the time of Herodotus, was wholly occupied by Goths, and so was the Crimea. The first irruption of the Huns, a Sarmatic tribe, is very modern.
This hypothesis is dismissed by our author in favour of a division into Celtic and Teutonic. Under the head Celtic, are improperly comprehended the two radically distinct races which speak the Erse and Welsh tongues; and to these totally diverse nations are ascribed common manners :-whereas the latter alone submitted to the very peculiar institutions of the Bards and Druids. The words Teutonic and Gothic, again, are used indiscriminately. It is probable, however, that the Teutonic tribes are the same as the Jutes, and that they formed the east. most division of the Getic race, whose opposite extreme tribe is known in history by the denomination Massagetae, Visigoths, ør West Goths. Odin seems to have originated on the conDd 3
fines fines of the Jutes, and to have led his followers north-westward from Pomerania, or Livonia, into Sweden.
The time of Odin is left in the usual uncertainty : nor is any attempt made to weigh the relative probability of the three extant suppositions concerning his era. Gräter, with ingenious rashness, supposes the island Sams mentioned in the Edda to be the Samos of the Archipelago; and, from some faint resemblance between the Gothic cosmogony and that of a Samian philosopher, he infers Odin to have been a pupil of Melissus; and thus he throws back his antiquity to a period, which would make it probable that the Scythian kings of Herodotus are the heroes deified in Gothic song. Mallet defends the wilder because wholly baseless conjecture, that the arms of Pompey occa*sioned Odin to migrate from the Euxine to the Baltic. In this case, Pliny and Tacitus would have met with traces of his progress among the nations whom they describe. Extensive recent conquests, terminating in the imposition of a new religion, could not but live in the memory even of barbarians. It is therefore most probable that Odin is posterior to these writers, and that the Anglo-Saxon historians are correct, who describe Hengist as fifth in descent from Odin, and who have preserved the intervening pedigree. As in pastoral nations marriages take place early, it is unlikely that any progenitor of Hengist should have passed in celibacy his twenty-fifth year. An interval of 125 years is enough to allow between Odin himself and his grandson Vecta's great-grandson, Hengist. This would place Odin in the year of Christ 325, about seventy years before Alaric, and would plausibly account for the momentous im. pulse which, about that time, propelled the Gothic multitudes against all the provinces of the Roman empire.
Odin is called, in the Edda, and by Snorro, Runhofdi and Runomfauthr, father of letters, king of spells, as the poets phrase it; which favours the opinion that he introduced the art of writing among the Goths. Now Tacitus expressly pronounces the alphabet to have been unknown to the Germans; literarum secreta viri pariter ac fæminæ ignorant : Odin, then, must have lived subsequently to this period. The oldest Runic inscriptions on stone commemorate the fortunes of soldiers who had served at Constantinople in the corps of Varangi ; and the art of stone-cutting in the North is therefore posterior to the transfer of the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople. Now Odin, according to Snorro, first introduced the practice of using graves-tones : in his time, no doubt, they were simply inscribed, not engraved: but these cannot long have preceded the more permanent memorials. This circumstance, again, tends to
corroborate a chronology which places Odin at the beginning of the fourth century.
There exists a Russian map of the year 949, (the fac simile may be found in Schlötzer's Northern History, p. 490.) in which the coast of Esthonia is called Ostrogard, or the East garden. If the opposite coast of Courland was called Asgard, or the West-garden, the river Duna which separates them may well have borne the name Mitgard. In Samo-getia, various etymological notices unite to indicate the original dwellingplace of Odin : it was natural, after his settlement in Upland, to sing the “ glad home” which he had forsaken; to promise a return thither to the spirits of such as fell in battle ; and to indicate the rainbow, which is usually seen in the East, as the bridge which was to direct their path. .
Of Saemund, Mr. Cottle speaks sufficiently, and correctly. Of the Edda, we should willingly have learnt more. Was it first written by Saemund, who died in 1133: or is it, as is probable, of far higher antiquity in the main, and merely collected and arranged by him, with occasional interpolations ?" Is the Edda of Snorro Sturluson, which was compiled in 1215, and which has evidently received some Christian interpolations, to be regarded as containing portions of equal or superior antiquity to the Edda of Saemund; or is it in all respects a newer work? Was the Edda ever a bible of heathenism in the North; or did it owe its very name to these collectors, who lived after the. introduction of Christianity into Iceland ? The Voluspa and the Haavamal (which are subjoined to Resenius's first printed edition of 1665) having originally belonged to the Edda of Saemund, and forming a very interesting part of it, surely Mr. Cottle would have done well also in presenting us with these two sagas,-if we may employ, in a general sense, a word consecrated by the Scalds to the designation of historical ballads.
As the Song of the Ravens may impress the reader, we shall transcribe it: but we omit the notes, not being thoroughly satisfied of their soundness.