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nation of poetical monuments, those of the older periods especially, close to the heroic age, with historical investigations, and to consider poetry as one of the sources, whence a knowledge of times and nations is derived. What important aid poetry may lend men in ascertaining the degree of civilization that existod among a people, is best illustrated by an example that very readily suggests itself. We are to this very day delighted with the lovely simplicity and lofty beauty of the Homeric poems. Now should we ask ourselves how, at the time these poems were composed, the Greeks stood in com. parison with the other nations with whom they chiefly came in contact, we shall at once perceive that the Phænicians, for instance, far excelled them, in navigation, in commerce, in the useful arts, and generally in the industry of towns; in all these respects the Greeks were far below the Phænicians. But should we on that account place the Greeks of that epoch, who were capable of producing such noble poems, as well as of enjoying thein, absolutely below the Phoenicians? Undoubtedly not! What is culture, emphatically, but mind, the mobility, activity, and development of mind and of all the mental energies? The useful arts are something admirable, something grand, when directed by mind and applied to noble objects; but in an unspiritual employment of all these material arts, it may well be doubted whether they serve more to benefit or injure the human race. Mind is the thing of first importance, and that is best represented to us by the poetry of a people.

In these descriptions, the Romans are never tired of expatiating on the poetry of the Germans, on their songs, and on the influence of these upon life. Even in battle the war sony was chanted; during the whole strife the memory of former heroes was celebrated, and everything added that could inflamo to fresh deeds of heroism. The songs, indeed, have passed away, in which Arminius, misunderstood and rewarded with ingratitude in life, was at least glorified after death. We may, however, be enabled to form a notion of the nature of these Germanic songs, and of their influence upon life, by considering what it was, besides the commemoration of heroes and their deeds, that constituted the subject-matter of them; representations, namely, of the gods and the mode of worshipping them. But these are the very things which best characterize the mind and condition of a nation.

GERMAN POETRY AND WORSHIP.

23

Of the religion of the Germans the Romans tells us very little, yet that little is remarkable. It was, like the faith and worship of all primitive people, an adoration of Nature, her grand phenomena and marvellous powers. But the religious system of the Germans was simpler, more connected with an immediate, exalted love of nature, than among the southern nations, less adorned with fables than among the Greeks, not so overladen with ceremonies as among the Romans, altogether less sensual than among either.

Like the ancient Persians, the Germans worshipped above all things, the Sun and Fire, but yet, as the supreme divinity, Woden, whom they called the Father of All." The Romans compared him to their Mercury, chiefly on account of his relation to the same planet; though, in other respects, the office and character of the two divinities were totally different. Not merely in their especial worship of fire, as well as water, and generally of the primary powers of nature, but also in many other details and peculiarities, did the worship of the primitive Germans resemble that of the Persians more than iliat of the Greeks and Romans. Both among the Germans and the Persians sacred white horses were kept in consecrated groves for the service of the gods, and for solemn processions. Some German tribes also sacrificed horses ; a custom which among all known nations of antiquity was especially mentioned of the Persians alone as a marked peculiarity of their worship. Like the Persians, the Germans despised the mode customary among other nations, of worshipping the gods ir enclosed buildings, and of representing them in a great variety of images. This cannot be attributed to mere ignorance or incapacity. In times when fortresses existed among them, they still had no regular temples. The rudest nations, in fact, have been able to make uncouth images of their divinities; and if the Germans possessed nothing of the kind, it is a proof, not of their incapacity, but of their repugnance to them, or of a different conception of the subject.

The relationship between the Persian and German languages has been already often noticed by the learned ; and a similar coincidence is also manifested in their respective constitutions. We perceive among the Persians the institution of the arrière bai, or levy in mass of all freemen for military service, and a kind of feudalisin as well as a very clcarly marked spirit of chivalry. Hence agreement between the nations in many parts of their worship ought not to surprise us.

Besides its greater simplicity, the religion of the primitive Germans was pre-eminently distinguished from that of the Greeks and Romans by a firmer faith in the immortality of the soul. In the popular creed of the Greeks, the idea of another world was more a shadow of mournful recollection and feeble hope than an expectation of fixed certainty. Hence their dread of death, their anxious avoidance of any direct reference to it in words. Among the Germans the absolute conviction of another life removed all fear. In many cases, even, they were by this firm faith prompted to self-murder, not like the later Romans, from a false philosophy or from a disgust of life, but in cases in which they were moved thereto by love of country or of freedom. Thus German women, who, after the German custom, bad accompanied the army, would often free themselves by their own hand, on the unfortunate issue of a battle, when capture appeared certain and no prospect of escape was visible. Thus ambassadors of a German tribe, who, by Roman perfidy, had been seized and treated as prisoners and hostages, destroyed themselves in order to baffle the object of the Romans, and that their countrymen might not be forced, out of consideration for them, into a disadvantageous peace. The Germans, it is true, like all heathen nations, conceived the next world under very sensual, and especially, in accordance with the national mode of thinking, under very warlike colours. The chief happiness of the blessed in the Walhalla consisted in martial sports. They revelled by day in the chase, and in contests of every kind, but when day declined, all their wounds were healed by magic power, the heroes became reconciled, and sat down together to the same festal banquet. The filling up of such a picture ever belongs to the imagination, but the truly important matter is the firm conviction of a real futurity, of another existence, more joyous, more pure, more lasting, nearer to God, than this short, frail, earthly existence.

Of the Supreme Being, of a righteous and merciful God ruling over all destinies and the powers of nature, the heathen nations of antiquity had indeed some conception, for the

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marked spirit of chivalry. Hence agreement between the nations in many parts of their worship ought not to surprise us.

Besides its greater simplicity, the religion of the primitive Germans was pre-eminently distinguished from that of the Greeks and Romans by a firmer faith in the immortality of the soul. In the popular creed of the Greeks, the idea of another world was more a shadow of mournful recollection and feeble hope than an expectation of fixed certainty. Hence their dread of death, their anxious avoidance of any direct reference to it in words. Among the Germans the absolute conviction of another life removed all fear. In many cases, even, they were by this firm faith prompted to self-murder, not like the later Romans, from a false philosophy or from a disgust of life, but in cases in which they were moved thereto by love of country or of freedom. Thus German women, who, after the German custom, bad accompanied the army, would often free themselves by their own hand, on the unfortunate issue of a battle, when capture appeared certain and no prospect of escape was visible. Thus ambassadors of a German tribe, who, by Roman perfidy, had been seized and treated as prisoners and hostages, destroyed themselves in order to baffle the object of the Romans, and that their countrymen might not be forced, out of consideration for them, into a disadvantageous peace. The Germans, it is true, like all heathen nations, conceived the next world under very sensual, and especially, in accordance with the national mode of thinking, under very warlike colours. The chief happiness of the blessed in the Walhalla consisted in martial sports. They revelled by day in the chase, and in contests of every kind, but when day declined, all their wounds were healed by magic power, the heroes became reconciled, and sat down together to the same festal banquet. The filling up of such a picture ever belongs to the imagination, but the truly important matter is the firm conviction of a real futurity, of another existence, more joyous, more pure, more lasting, nearer to God, than this short, frail, earthly existence.

Of the Supreme Being, of a righteous and merciful God ruling over all destinies and the powers of nature, the heathen nations of antiquity had indeed some conception, for the

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