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engages her in pursuit of him. He flies; she follows, and thinks to seize him; he ascends the mountain; she does so likewise, and feels herself impelled forward, by a charm, which she is at a loss to comprehend. She forgets that she is already at a distance from her sisters, and no longer adverts to the bareness of her palpitating bosom. She imagines, frequently, that she has the
prey in her hands, but he escapes miraculously, as it were, and at length flies to the grotto for refuge, whither she follows him, baffled and out of breath. The noise which she makes in entering, rouses Norfrank from his reverie.
“ How great his surprize! He sees Myris, Myris herself, who, with her arms outstretched, her bosom uncovered, her face in a glow, seems to be rushing to his embrace, with a degree of transport like that with which a young and tender wife, hastens to meet a fond husband, just returned from a long voyage beyond sea. On her side, Myris descries indistinctly, through the obscurity of the cavern, Norfrank-a man—a phantom,- she knows not what. At this apparition, her feet remain, as it were, rooted in the ground. Immoveable and mute with terror, she gazes on Norfrank, without, however, fully recognizing him. He also contemplates her, motionless too, and in a state between rapture and stupefaction. At length, the young man rises, and advances a step towards Myris: Myris seeks to fly, retires a step, but falls on a bank of turf, bewildered, terrified, and ready to swoon. What a storm does not then gather in the breast of Norfrank! He leans towards the face of the nymph, as if to reanimate her with his breath; but stops short, indignant at his own transports. He would take her hand, and press it between his, as gently as the calix of the rose presses the bud, which is about to open; but stops again, with the same alarm, as if his hand were to leave a burning stain upon that of his beloved. He murmurs a hundred times within himself: “ I love
you, O Myris! and as often does this audacious murmur expire, before it reaches his lips. He endeavours to fly, but an irresistible charm detains him in the grotto, full as it is of the cruel god, and holds him in suspense, between the noblest and the softest of emotions, between love and virtue."
At length, however, virtue triumphs. Norfrank, without looking behind him, rushes to the extremity of the grotto, and, falling on his knees, implores the succour of Urania. He has scarcely finished his prayer, when Urania herself appears, or, at least, her divine image, for she shows herself to mortals, only in their second sight. The celestial form shines upon him but for an instant, yet remains engraven on his heart. He rises full of composure and resolution, and ascends quickly to the mouth of
the grotto. He finds no one there. He goes out; he hears three voices calling him; he sees the sisters together at a distance.
“ He hastens to join them. Myris then relates, how she had been engaged, in the pursuit of a bird, of wonderful diminutiveness and beauty, which, flying from shrub to shrub, and flower to flower, conducted her, at last, to a cavern, where she beheld an extraordinary vision, that had filled her with so much terror, as to cause her to fall, and almost to faint. She adds, that, hava ing taken courage, and looked about in the cavern, she found herself alone, which convinces her, that the vision was but a mere chimera of her imagination, the offspring of fear. This recital solves an enigma for Norfrank, which, until then, he was unable to comprehend. Without saying any thing to Myris, in order to undeceive her, he merely smiles at her error; but she remarks the smile, and, in her turn, divines what phantom it was, that caused her alarm.”
The examples which I have given, of the advantageous use which Mr. Baggessen has made, of his mythological machinery, do not furnish the only argument to be adduced in its favour. With respect to this important part of the epopee, of whatever kind, we should consider both the use which the author makes of established inventions, and separately his own creations. It should be noted, that Mr. Baggessen always employs them opportunely and appropriately, according to the character of the passions which he wishes to depict, and of the extraordinary scenes, wherein he has placed the action of his poem. We have seen above, the manner in which he conducts the agency of Love. It is this god, the enemy of Norfrank, who originates all the trials which he undergoes, who creates all the obstacles he encounters, and who paves the way for his happiness, by means of that very passion, which he intends as the instrument of his destruction. The same spring is exercised, in the same spirit, to the end of the work. When nothing remains to be accomplished, but a mutual declaration of passion, between Norfrank and Myris, it is their malicious enemy again, who furnishes them with the opportunity.
In gratitude for the favours and aid which he had received from Apollo, Norfrank has promised to scan the double summit of Mount Eiger, the favourite residence of the god. He chooses, for the fulfilment of his vow, the period of his return with the sisters from the peak of the Virgin, to the middle of a mountain, rich in pasture, where he leaves them, towards the close of the evening, in a cheese-hut, in which they prepare to retire to rest. Three of these cabins form a little hamlet, frequented only by the shepherds of the plain, in the season when they ascend thi
ther, in order to graze their flocks. The middle one becomes the asylum of the sisters.
Norfrank leaves them, and sets out, when the moon is sufficiently high above the cliffs, to enlighten his path. He descends the mountain, in order to get to the foot of the Eiger, the summit of which he proposes to reach. He stops from time to time, and casts a look back on the cabin, which contains all that he holds most dear. Suddenly, it appears to him, that he sees a number of persons ascending and descending, running to and fro, or standing motionless, near the three cabins. He dreads the occurrence of some unexpected danger, for his companions. He returns with rapid strides. It was Love that conjured up these appearances. The god, in order to bring him near to Myris, and to cause him to break his vow, had assembled a number of light clouds along the mountain, which, set in motion by the wind, cheated the senses of Norfrank. As soon as he has seen the youth on his return, he glides into the middle hut, hovers about the head of the sleeping Myris, flaps her bosom roughly with his wings, and fills it with the keenest alarms.
In the interval, Norfrank arrives out of breath, and looks for the crowd he thinks he had seen. He is soon undeceived, smiles at his mistake, and walks himself for a few moments, round the cabin, keeping an attentive watch. Myris, more and more agitated, reflects on the perils which Norfrank is to encounter, quits her straw couch, before pleasant, now insufferable, opens the door with the utmost gentleness, goes out, inhales the fresh air, revives, becomes composed, and ventures to advance a few steps on the enamelled turf. Thus, Myris on one side, and Norfrank on his, move, for a time, round the same point, but at distances too great to see, or meet each other. Myris often raises her
eyes towards the summits of Eiger, thinking of Norfrank, his journey, and his danger. All at once, a terrible noise resounds through the valleys; it is the distant tumbling of an aralanche. Norfrank is immediately present to her imagination. She falls on her knees, and implores, aloud, all the powers of heaven to shield him. He was then near her. He sees her, hears her, and, kneeling likewise, invokes the same powers to grant happiness to Myris, even were it to be at the expense of his own repose or life. Myris hears him, sees him, passes from terror to rapture, and cannot but shed a torrent of delicious tears. Both remain, for a long time, prostrate before Heaven, as happy, says the poet, as if they were already imparadised. Myris first regains self-possession; rises, casts a timid glance on Norfrank, and returns slowly, and with downcast eyes, to the cabin, where her sisters are asleep. Norfrank springs forward, reaches her, and, VOL. IV.
detaining her gently by the hand, which he, at length, dares to press, speaks to her with the tenderest overflowings of the heart, but conjures her to suffer him to proceed, and accomplish a sacred vow. She has nothing further to dread on his account; henceforth he is under the special protection of Heaven. Myris, in consenting to this, gives him, at the same time, to understand who it is that she feels to be the master of her destiny. , “ She withdraws her hand slowly from that of Norfrank, enters the cabin, looks back once more, and disappears."
It seems to me, that, if any thing new were to be devised in the way of a love-declaration, after the multitude with which our poems, plays, and novels abound, Mr. Beggassen has found it, in the one we have just read. He has done still more. He has raised from his poetic imagination, a divinity, whose existence seems to have been revealed to him, in his own excursions to these lofty eminences: it is the God of Vertigo. I know not that there exists, in the whole range of poetry, a more novel and ingenious fiction; one better adapted to the subject, or more powerfully exhibited. It fills an entire canto of the poem,
and we should have a very imperfect idea of the work, were we not acquainted with an invention, which the world, I have no doubt, will not hesitate to call admirable, some centuries hence.
The three young pilgrims and their guide, after many fatigues and dangers, are upon the point of consummating their enterprize, and reaching the peak of Urania's mountain, when they find themselves stopped, on the brink of a wide and deep precipice. It is not to be avoided, nor can it be crossed but by a single path, narrow, steep, slippery, and upon a ridge of perpendicular rocks. The three sisters turn pale, and remain motionless. Norfrank alone is undismayed. Accustomed to climb the Alps,-full of resolution and vigour,-he offers to carry over each of his companions, by turns, in his arms, when they have fastened a bandage on their eyes, to prevent giddiness, and an excess of fright. The sisters hesitate, blush, consult together; but necessity urges, the proposition is accepted, and the bandage tied. Norfrank raises the eldest, and crosses with her unhurt; he takes the second, and does the same. He returns to the third, to his adored Myris, who expects him with confidence, although not without some remains of dread.
But their implacable enemy, Love, has sworn to obstruct their passage. He bends his flight to the glaciers of Schreckhorn, the summit of which is justly called the peak of terror.
“On the highest point of this inaccessible mountain, dwells, between Olympus and the earth, a formidable divinity, a monster among the immortals, and whom they themselves cannot approach without terror. He is denominated Vertigo by the human race, and is without name among the gods. He was engendered in the early horrors of chaos, and is the offspring of the fortuitous union of the heavens, and of infernal night. Ruin, confusion, disorder, and the transitory association of hostile substances and forms, are his sole delight, and what he labours to produce. He cannot, without a degree of torture, which would at once annihilate a mortal being, contemplate either the spheres which revolve in the immensity of space, or the unchangeable creations of nature. But he delights in looking on the works of man. Sometimes, motionless and silent on his icy throne, he suffers his eye to wander at random in the profundity of vacuum; at others, full of agitation and menace, he hovers over the tops of the mountains, visits the precipices, and hides himself in their depths. Woe to him who then ventures on the brink of those precipices! He suddenly feels the earth slide from beneath his feet; he sees the heavens recede rapidly into infinite space, and the mountains, shaken to the centre, wheel in eddies about him."
The aspect of this horrible spot terrifies Love, without, however, diverting him from his purpose. He flies in spiral circles round the sharpest point; he reaches the top; he already perceives the demon who dwells there, and, casting but one oblique and hasty glance on him, is seized with horror. He immediately fastens his bandage on his eyes, and then, accosting the hideous giant, he denounces the hardy wretch, who had twice braved his power in the dependencies of his empire, and almost at the foot of his throne. He beseeches him to descend into the abyss, over which Norfrank has to pass once more; to appear before him unawares, and to exert over him all the potency of his spells. The god of Vertigo answers by a nod, as a mark of approbation. “At this signal of their monarch, the caverns of Schreckhorn send forth a hollow murmur, and every rock trembles to its base.”
In the mean time, the conductor of the nymphs of Urania had returned to Myris; he already holds her in his arms, palpitating with love and joy;-he reaches the difficult pass. “At this very instant, the monarch of Schreckhorn, enveloped in a black cloud, was descending with a rapid flight. Before plunging into the precipice, he hovers for some moments over the head of Norfrank, and Norfrank begins to shudder, and turn pale. By degrees, his senses wander, every thing changes about him, and presents a scene of confusion to his eyes. The path appears to him more steep, the abyss deeper, and the rock more slippery. He endeavours to proceed; he totters; and has scarcely strength enough left, to maintain him on his feet. Myris perceives his