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II 29.41 1
First Qrtr. 1.
Full Moon 9. 4 56 aftern.
Last Qrtr. 16. 3 21 aftern.
New Moon 23. 4 40 aftern.
Edwards 11-185661 EDINBURGH MAGAZINE,
FOR JANUARY 1800.
FOR THE EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
The GLEANER, No. XV.
[Having been favoured by a friend with the following fragment of Icelandic
history, in order to insert it, the Gleaner is forced to postpone the critique on
Kotzebue to the next Number.] IN the Kristmisaga is contained an dran, who having visited Saxony in
account of the introduction of quest of adventures, embraced the Christianity among the barbarous in- Christian faith, and brought from habitants of Iceland, in the tenth and that country Frederic the first Iceeleventh centuries, which the curious landic bishop. Thorwald at his remay compare with the modern rela.
turn to Iceland attempted to convert tions of the African and South Sea his father Kodran, who refused to millions. The stile of the Kristni. suffer himself to be baptized, until he saga is plain, fimple, and unadorned; had determined the comparative power events are narrated precisely as they of working miracles, poffeffed by the are supposed to have happened ; mira- Christian bishop, and the sacred ftone cles, murders, massacres, sanguinary which he worshipped as inhabited by combats, and those traits of manners a spirit. The issue of this contest which mark the barbarous genius of was entirely in favour of Frederic, the age, as in the annals of every whose powerful prayer over the sa. rude dation, are related with little at- cred stone foon split it, and expelled tention to order or connection: It the dæmon. After this triumph Thoris commonly attributed to Hauk the wald traversed Iceland with the bison of Erland, who in 1306 was e- shop; at Vatnsdal they were encoun. lected legislator of Iceland, and died tered by two Maniacs or BERSERKER, in 1334. He is the reputed author who raved, ftormed, and, through of the Landnama Bok, to which the the power of their familiar spirits, Kriltnisaga is generally appended, and walked unhurt amid the burning fire; of which it is reckoned a part by but when Frederic had consecrated J. Gudmund. A meagre account of the fire, they were miserably scorchBp. Ideif of Iceland is commonly ed and Nain. In their peregrinations annexed to this Saga. The author the Scalds ridiculed Thorwald and relates that Christianity was intro- the bishop his attendant ; Thorwald duced into Iceland about the year revenged himself by killing the bards, 981, by Thorwald the son of Ko. and the good bishop refused any
longer to accompany
cise or definite idea. They are re. geance. As this mission proved un- presented as agitated by fits, during successful, another attempt was made which, with wolfish ferocity, and dilto convert the Icelanders, by Olaf, torted countenances, they gnawed king of Norway, who dispatched and devoured their shields, displayed Stefner for that purpose. On his the strength of bulls and bears, threw arrival in Iceland, Stefner, provoked themselves, without injury, on the by the obftinacy with which the points of fwords, walked amidst flames ilanders adhered to their ancient opi. of fire unhurt, and swallowed burning nions, began to destroy their temples, coals. This unnatural habit is attriand break their idols. This summa. buted to various causes, as magical Ty method, as may be supposed, did practices, furious passions, and here. not greatly conciliate the minds of ditary disease. The idea of its mathe Pagans, or facilitate their con gical origin is implied in the terms version; on the contrary, they attack. TRYLLAST and Hamast, by which ed the reformer, who with difficulty it is often denominated, and which made his escape to Norway. About are properly applied to enchantment, this time Thangbrand, a priest, being or power derived from malevolene accused of piratical practices, recon- genii. By Snorro Sturleson, and the ciled himself to Olaf, by undertaking author of the Havamaal, it is attrithe conversion of Iceland. Thang buted to Odin. Sometimes it was brand, renouncing piracy, proceeded believed to derive its origin from the to Iceland, where he quickly convert. giants, or evil beings; at lealt the cd many heathens, who were enchant Jotunmodr, or characteristic madness ed by the tiukling of his bells, the of the giants, or rather the Jures, odour of his frankincense, and the seems to have resembled that of the fplendor of his fillets and purple gar- Berserkers. From the supposition of ments; and a sorcerer was hired, in its origin from malevolent spirits, it vain, by the Pagans, to cause the was punished with banishment by the earth to swallow him up. Thang laws of Iceland and Norway. brand proceeded towards the west of The opinion of those, by whom it Iceland, where he was encountered was, attributed to ferocious pafsion, is by Tiörin the Berserker or forcerer, plausible and philosophical. Barbawho, like another Elymas, challeng- rians, whose constitutions are harden. ed him to a trial of skill. This chale ed by inceffant exertion, and the felenge was readily accepted by the verity of the climare, who have been priest, when the forcerer declared, inured to rapine, devastation, and “ Had you known my power, you cruelty from their birth, when cxaf. “ would have declined the contest; perated with rage, derive from its “ I walk barefooted over the burn- ftimulus a prodigious increase of mus. “ ing fire, and throw myself without cular strength. The Berserkers are “ injury on the points of naked always represented as exasperated to 66 swords." God" will determine madness by oppofition, and advancing that, said Thang brand, who conse to the fingle combat bellowing with crated the fire, and marked the sword rage, and gnawing their shields. Like with the sign of the cross, when the the licensed bullies or champions of fire scorched the feet of the Berser- former times, they were accustomed ker, and the sword penetrated his to acquire money by their success in body, and killed him.
single combats. The paroxyfm of Of these Berserkers, who are fre. fury was commonly succeeded by a quently mentioned in the Icelandic ftate of debility and exhaustion like annals, it is difficult to form any pre madness, and the violent exertions of