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brief account of the Scandinavian version of the history of this redoubtable artificer.
The giant Vade, or Selande, had a son named Velant, who, at the age of nine years, was placed with a famous smith of Hunaland, called Mimit, in order to learn the art of forging iron. After leaving him three winters in Hunaland, Vade took him to a mountain called Kallona, the interior of which was inhabited by two dwarfs, who had the reputation of being more skilful in the working of iron than any other dwarfs,* or ordinary mortals. They manufactured swords, casques, and cuirasses, and were great adepts in the working of gold and silver, of which they made numberless trinkets. Vade agreed with the dwarfs that they should teach his son Velant, in the space of twelve months, all the arts of which they were masters; and for which they were to receive as a recompense a golden mark. Velant soon learned all that the dwarfs thought proper to teach him; and when his father returned, at the expiration of the appointed time, to take him away, the dwarfs offered to give him
* The Finlanders are often designated in the Sagas as dwarfs, and even sorcerers. They were of a very diminutive stature, and generally lived in the caverns of the mountains; hence their double appellation of dwarfs and necromancers.
back the golden mark, and teach his son as much again as he had already learned, if he should be allowed to remain under their care another year. Vade consented; but the dwarfs, quickly repenting the bad bargain they had made, added this condition, that if, upon the appointed day, Vade did not appear to take away his son, they should be at liberty to kill him. To this Vade also gave his assent; but, before his departure, he took his son aside, shewed him a sword, which he concealed in a certain spot at the foot of the mountain, and said to him, “If I should not arrive on the appointed day, sooner than allow yourself to be killed by those dwarfs, take this sword and put an end to your own existence, in order that my friends may say, I gave to the world a man, not a girl.” Velant promised to do so, and re-entered the mountain, where he soon became so skilful in the art of working metals, that the dwarfs became jealous of his superiority. Towards the close of the twelve months, Vade the giant set out for the mountain, where he arrived three days before the expiration of the time. But finding the entrance to the interior of the mountain not yet open, and being very much fatigued with his long journey, he fell asleep. During his slumber a violent storm arose, a part of the mountain gave way, and buried poor Vade under its fragments.
The day fixed upon for his appearance being come, the dwarfs issued from the mountain, but could perceive no traces of Vade the giant. His son Velant, after in vain searching for him, ran to where the sword was concealed, took it, and hiding it under his garments, followed the dwarfs into the mountain. He there killed them, instead of himself, took possession of their tools, loaded a horse with as much gold and silver as he could carry, and set out on his return to Denmark. Being stopped in his progress by a river, he cut down a tree, hollowed out its trunk, stowed his treasures into it, made a cover for it which made it impervious to the water, and getting into it himself, closed the lid, and committed himself to the mercy of the waves.
One day that the King of Jutland and his court were out on a fishing party, on the nets being drawn, there was found in one of them a singularly shaped trunk of a tree. In order to find out what it contained, they were going to break it to pieces, when suddenly a voice issued from the trunk, commanding the workmen to desist. On hearing which, the workmen ran away precipitately, crying out that there was a sorcerer hid in the piece of timber. In the meantime Velant opened the door of his prison; and on coming out, told the king that he was no sorcerer, and that if he would spare his life and his treasure, he would render the king the most signal services. The king assented. Velant entered the royal service, and his charge was to take great care of the knives, which were every day placed before the king at table. One day, while he was washing these knives in the river, one of them fell out of his hands, and sunk to the bottom. Fearing to lose the royal favour, he went secretly to the forge belonging to the king's smith, and made a knife exactly similar to the one that had been lost. The first time the king made use of this knife at dinner, it not only cut the bread, but went clean through the wood of the table ! After this, and more wonderful feats with weapons of his construction, Velant passed for the most skilful workman in the kingdom, and manufactured for the king many precious articles in gold and silver.
So far the Icelandic Vilkina Saga, which enters into the subject much more at length. For further particulars connected with the history of the legend, I may refer the reader to the fifth volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of France, 8vo. Paris, 1823, p. 217, and to Depping's dissertation on 6 Véland le Forgeron,” 8vo. Paris, 1833.
It only remains for me to offer my best thanks to the Rev. C. G. Hulton, Librarian of Chetham College, who kindly afforded me every assistance while transcribing the manuscript; and to Sir Frederic Madden, who most liberally lent me his own transcript of the romance, made in the autumn of 1835. I ought to add that when I made my transcript, I was not aware that a copy had previously been taken by a gentleman, whose very superior knowledge both of the language and the subject would have produced an edition of this romance much more satisfactory than the present
J. O. HALLIWELL.
35, Alfred Place,
July 7th, 1842.