Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

These numerous and striking Danish terms, still existing in the north of England almost a thousand years after the destruction of the Danish power there, and after an almost equally protracted struggle with the constant progress of the English language, show that the Scandinavian tongue must possess no mean degree of durability. These Scandinavian words, moreover, taken in conjunction with the unusually numerous Scandinavian names of places in England, put it beyond all doubt that a Scandinavian population must have been far more diffused, and have taken much deeper root there, than in any other foreign land.

The popular language of the north of England is particularly remarkable for its agreement with the dialects found in the peninsula of Jutland. Several words which are common to the north of England and Jutland, are not to be found elsewhere. For instance, in the north of England, the shafts of the carts used there are called limmers, a word clearly of the same origin as the Jutlandish liem, a broom; both being derived from the old Scandinavian limi, which signifies boughs, branches. But it is the broad pronunciation in particular that makes the resemblance so surprising. Thus, for instance, we have in the north of England, sty'an (Dan., Steen; Eng., a stone), yen (Dan., een; Eng., one), welt (Dan., vselte; Eng., to upset), swelt (Dan., vansmsegte; Eng., overcome with heat and exercise), maw (Dan., Mave; Eng., stomach), lowe (Dan., Lue; Eng., flame), donse (Dan., dandse; Eng., dance), fey (Dan., feie; Eng., to sweep), ouse (Dan., Oxe; Eng., ox), roun (Dan., Rogn ; Eng., spawn or roe of fishes), war and war (Dan., vserre og vserre; Eng., worse and worse); with many others of the same kind, which are pure Jutlandish.

On the whole, of all the Danish dialects the Jutland approaches nearest to the English. The West Jutlander uses the article a before words like the English "the," although the Danish language in other provinces does not recognise such an article; and the broad open w, which the natives of Funen and Zealand can, after the greatest difficulty, only pronounce with tolerable correctness, is as easy for the Jutlander as for the Englishman. Many Danish words pronounced in Jutlandish become purely English; as, for instance, foul (Eng., fowl; Dan., Fugl), kow (Eng., cow; Dan., Ko), fued (Eng., food; Dan., Fod), stued(Eng., stood; Dan., stod), drown (Eng., drown; Dan., drukne); besides many others. Many words are even quite common to Jutland and England; such as the Jutlandish forenoun and atternoun (Eng., forenoon and afternoon; Dan., Formiddag and Eftermiddag), stalker (Eng., stalker; Dan., en Stork), kok (Eng., cock; Dan., en Hane), want (Eng., to want; Dan., mangle, behove).

This affords a very important proof of the close connection which must have anciently subsisted between Jutland and England. Although it may be doubtful to what extent the Jutes had tracts specially assigned to them for their settlements in the south of England (as in Kent and the Isle of Wight, at the time of the AngloSaxon conquest in the fifth century), it is, at all events, quite certain that, both at that time and at a later period, a number of Jutes settled on the east coast of England, and particularly in the more northern districts. Jutland lies nearer to England than any other part of Scandinavia. The Limfjord, which in remote ages was a roadstead for the Vikings' ships, and afterwards the rendezvous of Saint Canute's fleet when he intended to reconquer England, certainly dispatched numerous Vikings' barks to the British coasts. In legends still existing in Jutland, the old connections with England, and the wars there, are not forgotten; nay, in some places the people tell of battles fought with the English in Jutland itself: of which ancient names of places likewise bear witness, as in the neighbourhood of Holstebro, "Angelandsmoor" (Angelandsmosen), with the adjacent "Prince Angel's barrow" (Prinds Angels Hoi), which is surrounded with a number of tumuli. The remembrance of the same old connections with England still resounds in the Jutlandish and other ancient Scandinavian ballads, or heroic songs, in which the scene is frequently laid on the "engelandish strand."

The near relationship of the north Englishmen with the Danes and their Scandinavian brothers is reflected both in popular songs and in the folk-lore. It is well known that the old Northmen were in a high degree lovers of minstrelsy. The Scandinavian kings were generally accompanied on their Viking expeditions by bards, who encouraged and cheered the champions with songs respecting the exploits of former times, and about every glorious deed that had been performed during the expeditions. These historical epics passed from mouth to mouth, and from generation to generation. Nor did the Scandinavian conqueror in foreign lands disdain to be celebrated by the bards of his native country. Canute the Great, who was himself a poet, placed the Scandinavian bard high in his hall; and numerous lays, which are still partly preserved in the Sagas, sounded his fame over the north. After the warlike life of heathenism had ceased, the poetical and historical talent of the people expressed itself in ballads and heroic songs, which, during the middle ages, succeeded the lays of the ancient bards. The old ballad, in its characteristic form, belongs peculiarly to the countries of Scandinavia; and it is very remarkable that the corresponding English ballads, which often, both in their prevailing tone and in their form—as, for instance, with regard to the burthen—betray a surprising similarity with the Scandinavian, are in England found exclusively in the north. They are, however, heard still more frequently in the Scotch Lowlands, whither great immigrations of Northmen also took place. In the north of England a very peculiar kind of song for two voices was also formerly heard, and which the English themselves ascribed to the Danes.

It is more difficult to adduce pure Scandinavian remains of popular superstitions, as in this respect the Teutonic races have so very much in common; and consequently one is afraid to draw too strong conclusions from the striking agreement usually shown in the phantoms of the imagination among north Englishmen and their Scandinavian kinsmen. Yet it deserves to be mentioned that the Scandinavian name Nok (a river-sprite), is not yet forgotten in Yorkshire; although some by "Nick" or "Oud-Nick " erroneously imagine the devil to be meant, instead of the water-sprite. Many little tricks performed by the nix (Dan., nisse, a brownie) are known there, as well as in Scandinavia. Once, in England, the conversation happening to turn on these little beings, I related our Scandinavian legend about a peasant who was plagued and teazed in all possible ways by a nisse or brownie, till at last he could bear it no longer, and determined to flit (move house) to another place. When he had conveyed almost all his goods to the new house, and was just driving thither with the last load, he accidently turned round, and whom did he see? 'Why, the brownie with his red cap, who sat quietly on the top of the load, and nodded familiarly to him, with the words, "Now we flit." One of the persons present immediately expressed a lively surprise on hearing a legend related as Danish, and that, too, almost word for word, which he had often heard in Lancashire in his youth. The word flit was, and still is, used there by the common people.

A natural result of the long-continued and extensive dominion of the Danes in the north of England is, that they also are classed with the invisible mystical beings, which, in the imagination of the people, haunt that district. In certain places among the remote mountains of the north-west, people still fancy that they hear on the evening breeze tones as of strings played upon, and melancholy lays in a foreign tongue. Often, too, even when nobody hears anything unusual, the animals prick up their ears as if in astonishment. It is "the Danish boy," who sadly sings the old bardic lays over the barrows of his once mighty forefathers.

Section IX.

The Outrages of the Danes.—The Danes and Normans.—Influence of the Danes in England.

It is thus shown, by numerous and incontestable proofs, that the Danes held dominion in England for a short period, and that they also exercised, in conjunction with the Normans, so important and lasting an influence for centuries before and after the time of Canute the Great, at all events in that portion of England lying to the north of Watlinga Strset, that even a great part of the populatidn there may be safely assumed to be of Danish extraction. Nevertheless, the generally received opinion in England on this subject is expressed in the following passage in a brief History of Denmark lately published in London (" Edda, or the Tales of a Grandmother"), which states that after the suppression of the Danish power in England, "Both nations [the Danes and English] separated soon after, and in a few years the Danish supremacy had vanished like a vision of the night; so little did it leave any traces in England, or produce any important political benefits to Denmark."

It would, however, have been extremely astonishing, nay, utterly inexplicable, if great effects had not manifested themselves in Denmark from the expeditions towards the west, and from the complete conquest of a country like England, which, in regard both to religious and political development, stood so far above Scandinavia. History, also, sufficiently shows of what great importance the conquest of England was, not only for Denmark, but for the whole Scandinavian North. The Christianity of Scandinavia arose, indeed, out of the smoking ruins of the

« НазадПродовжити »