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KING Hogni fell in battle by the hand of King Helgi. All King Hogni's sons perished in the battle except one, called Dagr. Helgi, like the Cid in Corneille, or Alboin, King of the Lombards, married Sigrun, the daughter of the King whom he had slain. Dagr was compelled to swear peace with Helgi, but, afterwards, sacrificed to Odin for revenge. Odin lent him his own spear, with which he killed Helgi. He then went to find the sister whom he had made a widow.



Sister, loath am I to show
Tidings all too full of woe;

Playmate of my childhood's years,
Gladly would I spare thy tears;
Yet this morn, and by my hand,
Fell the lord of sea and land,
With whose praise Valhalla rings,
Trampler on the necks of kings.


Perjured traitor, thou shalt mourn,
All thy oaths to Helgi sworn-—
Sworn by Leiptur's waters bright,
Flashing through infernal night,
And that cold rock, whose summit high
Sun and wind can never dry.
Be thy bark beneath thee still,
Though the sails fair breezes fill;
May thy steed stand motionless,
Though thy foes behind thee press;
May the sword, so keen and bright,
Thou dost wield forget to bite,
Save when swinging round thy head,
In the hand that strikes thee dead.
Helgi's death were well avenged
Wert thou from mankind estranged;
Outlaw in the forest wild,
Reft of joy, of wealth beguiled,
With no food save such as springs
From decaying loathsome things.



Sister, thou art mad to heap
On my head thy curses deep.
Odin fosters kindred hate,
Odin swayed thy Helgi's fate.
Take thou, for thy hero's fall,
Vandalsue and Vigadal.

Half the world would I bestow,
Might it only soothe thy woe.


Fair as may my dwelling be,
By the mountains of the sea,
I will never cease to grieve
Night nor day, nor morn nor eve,
Till I see my Helgi back,
Shedding light along his track;
Riding on his war-horse bold,
Wont to champ the bit of gold.
So had Helgi taught to bend
Every foe and foeman's friend,
As the wolf in headlong race,
Wont the mountain goat to chase,
Helgi was as far above

Those whom peoples fear and love,
As the ash excels the thorn,
Or the stag with golden horn,
Bright as heaven's ethereal hue
All besprinkt with morning dew,
Lords it o'er the deer that quake
When the wild wind stirs the brake.

Maid watching near Helgi's grave

Twilight of the Gods, whose gloom
Heralds earth's and Odin's doom,
Comest thou, or is my sight
Mocked by visions of affright?
Do I rave, or do I see

Dead men ride and come to me,
Striking with their spurs of gold
Coursers not of earthly mould?
Or does Odin grant return

To the monarch whom we mourn?

Helgi's Spirit

Maiden, neither is thy sight
Mocked by visions of affright,
Nor is come the twilight's gloom
Bringing earth's and Odin's doom,
Though we strike with spurs of gold
Coursers not of mortal mould;
Nor does Odin grant return
To the monarch whom ye mourn.


Forth, Sigrun! if yet again

Thou wouldst see thy warrior slain;
Broken is the tomb in twain,

Come is Helgi with his train;
Still the hero's death-wounds bleed;
Be ye pleased to help his need.


Now as fain am I to meet thee,
Now as overjoyed to greet thee,
As Odin's hawks, a hungry brood,
As they scent a field of blood
Or behold from dewy lawn
First the day-lit brows of dawn.
Ere his corslet off I fling,
I will kiss my lifeless king;
Clotted is thy hair with rime,
Such as falls at morning prime,
Damp the form so well I knew
With the battle's crimson dew,
Cold is now thy conquering hand,
Mighty lord of sea and land.
Oh! what solace can I give

To pangs that life and death outlive.

Helgi's Spirit

Thee, to thee alone, 'tis due

That I bathe in deadly dew.

Cruel are the tears thou weepest

Every night before thou sleepest;

Every drop thy eyelids shed
Falls upon my heart like lead,
Piercing, penetrating, chill;

Dry them, and my pangs are still.
Though I miss my love and reign,

Sweet the cup that I shall drain;

Though my breast be scarred with wounds,
Wail me not with mournful sounds.

What though I be with the dead,

Beauty watches o'er my bed.


Here I spread thy couch for thee,
From unrest and anguish free;
Here I find my resting place
In my dead lord's long embrace.

Helgi's Spirit

Having seen the things I see,
Is there aught that may not be ?
When my lady fair and bright
In the grave can take delight,
Lavishing her peerless charms
To a corpse's mouldering arms.
Long the road that I must ride,
When the dawn is reddening wide,
Far away from yonder east
Must I stall my panting beast,
Ere the cock that early crows
Wakens warriors from repose.


I have watched the live-long day,
Come he will, if come he may;
Hope is waning, hope is o'er,
Helgi will return no more.

Lady, thou art desperate grown,
Go, oh go not forth alone
To the mansions of the dead;
Every fiend has greater power
In the midnight's dreary hour.
Lady, rest, thy hope is fled!

Sigrun was short-lived through grief and sorrow.

Translated from the Icelandic by R. L. 1866.





AFTER the general election of 1874, which proved so disastrous to the Liberal party, Robert Lowe continued to sit for the University of London for six more years, as one of the leaders of the Liberal Opposition. Some of the scenes in which he bore a part during those six closing years will be glanced at in the next chapter; but it has been thought advisable to detach from the record the following narrative of his championship of the Indian Civil servants in 1875. For the facts on which this narrative is based I am indebted to Mr. Cotterell Tupp, formerly of the Bengal Civil Service, and afterwards Accountant-General of Madras, who has also been kind enough to lend me a collection of Lord Sherbrooke's letters on the subject.

From the beginning of his official career as Joint-Secretary of the Board of Control, Robert Lowe had been a foremost advocate of the selection of public servants by open competitive examination; and, as already related, it was mainly through his instrumentality that Sir Charles Wood's India Act of 1853 contained a provision by which appointments to the Indian Civil Service were thrown open to competition for all Britishborn subjects. With regard to the general question of Civil Service reform, there were other public men, notably Sir Stafford Northcote, who were equally keen upon slaying the See vol. ii. pp. 62, 78.

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