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Tis nought to me;
And where he vital breatnes, there must be joy.' Our author soon encountered another river, whose mighty wa: ters, bursting from the bowels of the yokul in which they originated, hastened, with resistless fury, down the sloping descent, to the ocean which received them at no great distance, He escaped, but complains that the traveller is apt to become giddy, in passing these rivers, and that sometimes persons thus affected have fallen from their horses, and perished. Two travellers, passing a few days after, were carried away, one of whom was never more seen, and the other was found, almost half-dead, on a sand bank in the stream.
Our author was entertained, in his ride, by the conversation of a
gave him a long detail of events which occurred in Great Britain during the usurpation of Cromwell, and asked several questions relative to the Thames, Tay. Forth, &c.
We accompany him within view of Mount Hekla, the appearance of which is described as not equalling his expectations, and of which, he informs us there have been twenty-three eruptions, since the occupation of the island. He gives the following account of part of the neighbouring region.
• The surrounding country was formerly inhabited almost close to the mountain, and is said to have been uncommonly beautiful and fertile; but the successive inundations of lava have entombed the farms; and the verdant meadows have been almost entirely covered with sand and pumice.'
After passing a number of volcanic chimnies, formed of lava strongly vitrified, of a colour varying from black to a light green, and some of which are occupied as sheep pens, our author reached Reykiavik after an absence of fifty-eight days, and a journey of more than twelve hundred miles.
Dr. Henderson passed the winter of 1814-15, at Reykiavik, and describes the climate as milder than that of Denmark at the same season in the preceding year, and as temperate as any he had experienced either in Denmark or Sweden. The lowest degree of Fahrenheit was 4° 30' above zero, and the atmosphere was rather clear and serene than misty. This winter was unusually moderate, and very different from that of the year 1348, when the sea was formed into a solid mass around the whole coast. The floating ice from Greenland which sometimes gathers in different quarters increases the cold in Iceland, and proves unfriendly to the health of the inhabitants. The aurora borealis is seen from this island in great briiliancy and grandeur. Those which our author witnessed were generally of a dunnish yellow, often varied by tints of red and green, and when they are remarkably vivid, they are attended by a crackling noise, resembling that produced by electric friction.
The fishing season lasts from the 3rd of February till the 12th of May; the principal fish caught is the cod, which is generally dried in the sun, and is a chief article of food and commerce.
The gathering of the lichen Islandicus, or Iceland moss, haymaking, manuring, and the care of the cattle and sheep, form parts of rural labour.
On the winter nights, one of the family generally reads in a saga or legend, to others who are occupied at their work. Education is generally carried on at home, there being but a single school on the island. This seminary is situated at Bessastad, near Reykiavik, and contains twenty-five scholars.
On the approach of the summer of 1815, the author prepared to traverse those parts of the island, which he had not visiid in his former journey. On the 16th of May he set off from Reykiavik, on an excursion to the western part of Iceland.
Near Flatey, our author visited one of the haunts of the eider ducks, the nests of which he found scattered in great profusion. The male, on his approach, became alarmed, and plunged into the water, but the females were remarkably tame, some of them only retreating a yard or two, and others suffering him to stroke them on the nest. It is from the nests that the fine down is collected, which the bird plucks from its breast to line them. As soon as the Icelanders observe the first eggs to be laid they rob the nest of its down, which the duck replaces; a second or third spoliation then takes place, but, if the nests be stripped more than twice, the birds generally begin to leave the place.
The female of this bird teaches her young to swim by carrying them out, on her back, some distance in the water, and then diving, and leaving them to their own exertions.
On the island of Hergilsey, which our author afterwards visited, he found it difficult, in watching on the heights, to avoid trampling on the nests of the eider ducks.
Coffee, which was a beverage frequently presented to him, is, he informs us, used rather too profusely in the west of Iceland.
We find him having for a temporary travelling companion, a young man, who, though he had never been at any school, had read the whole of the Greek Testament, several books of the Iliad, and a number of the Latin classicks.
He also meets, in a clergyman, with the translator of several of Gellert's poems, and of Pope's Messiah.
A long patriarchal beard, generally of fair hair, distinguishes the inhabitants of one of the districts.
Our author notices among the people the custom of making a turn to the right, when it would be more convenient to turn to the left; and he traces this custom to the ancient Grecian superstition which considered the left hand side as unlucky, and of evil omen.
The surturbrand, or mineralised wood, is one of the natural curiosities of Iceland. Dr. Henderson found it, on one occasion,
deposited, on the side of a cleft, in four layers, from a foot and a half to three feet thick, and about thirty yards in length. The most perfect is of a jet black, and exhibits, in its knots, roots, and the annual circles observable in the ends of the trunks, or branches, plain marks of its ligneous urigin. The author favours the opinion of its being timber drifted to the coast. One of the strata of the cleft was composed of a bed of schistus, consisting of leaves closely pressed together, and mixed with a fine alluvial clay. The surturbrand is sometimes manufactured by the Icelanders into furniture, but is only adapted to their damp houses, as it cracks and splits when exposed to the heat of the fire or the sun.
The timber which drifts on shore forms an article of considerable value to the Icelander, as it supplies the want of those forests which are said to have formerly existed on the island, but which are now almost entirely destroyed.
On the west side of the mountain Bitruhals, lies a valley in which are situated the Mokollshaugar, composed of several banks and eminence:s, abounding in excellent porcelain earth.
Our author enjoyed, from a mountain the spectacle of beholding the sun, at midnight, continue stationary for about half an hour, a little above the horizon, and then commence his ascent.
Dr. Henderson gives us an account of Snorro Sturluson, an eminent Icelandick chieftain who flourished in the close of the twelfth, and for a considerable part of the thirteenth century. He was twice supreme magistrate, and was remarkable for his learning, but was turbulent, aspiring, and avaricious. Our traveller visited Reykholt, a farm which was at one period the abode of Snorro, having been at that time surrounded with a fortification; and used a hot bath which was constructed, with great ingenuity, by the ancient chief.
In the progress of his journey, the author meets with an aged Icelandick clergy man, who though receiving an annual salary of only about twenty-seven dollars, money of the United States, had found time, after attaining his sixtieth year, to acquire considerable knowledge of the Hebrew tongue.
The Icelanders are accustomed to prepare towards the end of June, every year, for their journey to the particular factory, to which they resort for trade. Reykiavik is the most frequented, as it presents the liberty of choice among several mercantile establishments, between which there is also a degree of competition. Sometimes, the natives unite in a caravan of sixty or seventy hor. ses, and encamp in the vicinity of Reykiavik, until they have made their arrangements as to the sale of their commodities. They have suffered much from monopolies and other injurious restrictions on trade, but these are now in some measure removed.
Our author succeeded, on his return from his second excursion to Reykiavik, in inducing the diocesan synod, together with two respectable lay inhabitants, to enter into a resolution for the purpose
of establishing a bible society of Iceland. On information being received of the formation of this society, by the committee of the British and foreign Bible society, they voted a donation of three hundred pounds sterling, in favour of the infant institution.
On the 18th of July, Dr. Henderson set out on a third journey, from Reykiavik, to the north. He relates a surprising instance of sagacity extracted from the writings of Mr. Olanson, a learned Icelander, of a species of mouse, somewhat analogous to the labours of the beaver, and which he assures his readers was authen. ticated by the testimony of two eye-witnesses of unquestionable veracity. These mice are sometimes obliged to cross rivers in search of berries, and contrive the following method of transporting their supplies. The party, which consists of from six to ten, select a piece of a light substance, well calculated to bear their weight, in the centre of which they place the berries they have collected, and seating themselves around the heap, with their heads together, and their tails, which serve for rudders, in the water, they float across the stream.
Dr. Henderson enumerates many earthquakes which have occurred in Iceland, at different periods of its history, and which have occasioned considerable destruction both to life and property.
On the 20th of August, 1815, our author left Iceland, with very favourable impressions of its inhabitants, and with the satisfaction of having accomplished the important objects of his visit.
He has given us an appendix, consisting of three numbers, the first of which contains a historical view of the translation and different editions of the Icelandick scriptures, the second is a poem of thanks addressed by Sira Jon Thorlakson, the translator of Milton, to the British and foreign Bible Society, together with a Latin translation, and an English imitation; and the third is a disquisition on Icelandick poetry.
About the middle of the thirteenth century, the Abbot of Thyckvala monastery, in the eastern quarter of Iceland, composed a work intitled, Stiorn,' 'Government,' or Directions,' and comprising the substance of the Old Testament History, mingled, however, with much extraneous matter.
The first Icelandick New Testament, was printed, in large duodecimo, in the year 1540. In the year 1584, Gudbrand Thorlakson, bishop of Holum, caused the whole of the Bible to be printed. The edition of the Bible which the author was employed in distributing, was printed at Copenhagen almost entirely at the expense of the British and foreign Bible Society, and consisted of five thousand copies.
The famous Icelandick • Edda,' consists of two parts, the former of which is composed of thirty-eight poems said to have been principally collected by Samund Frode a learned priest; the latter comprises the rules of Icelandick prosody, and was written, in part, by the famous Snorro Sturluson.
The principal feature of Icelandick versification, is its allitera. tion; it admits of rhyme, and the lines in the specimens introduced by Dr. Henderson, are generally short. Snorro enumerates upwards of a hundred species of versification, which, however, are all reducible to four classes.
We dismiss these volumes with the expression of the satisfaction we have derived from their perusal, and of the wish, which has already been intimated from one of our presscs, that they might be diffused, in this country, by an American edition.
Art. VIII.-An Appral from the fudgments of Great Britain
respecting the United States of America. Part first, containing an historical outline of their merits and wrongs as Colonies, and strictures upon the calumnies of the British writers. By
Robert Walsh, Jr. A CENTURY and a half ago when the strength and vigor of the
English republic had begun to excite the admiration of the people of Europe, and to awaken the fears of those interested in the support of monarchical establishments, the expedient was adopted by the latter, of aspersing the reputation of that democracy upon which their arms had previously been ineffectual. The press, that powerful weapon, whose efficacy was now first felt, was employed on this occasion without mercy against those who had ventured to break down the barriers which hedged in the divinity of kings. The most remarkable of the publications of that period, both from the genius of the author and the style of the composition, was the celebrated work of Salmasius, who beside his great learning is said to have possessed an extraordinary talent for scurrility.* A qualification which probably led to his appointment to the office of Court-Libeller, and in which none of his successors in that station appear to have been deficient. To support the cause of Charles the second, by whom he was hired for the undertaking, he attacked the characters and motives of the English republicans with a force and virulence of invective that can only be paralleled in the present age. The task of replying to this assailant was undertaken by Milton. In his • Defensio pro populo Anglicano, he overthrew the arguments and refuted the aspersions of this pensioned libeller, and retorted with so keen a satire upon him and his cause, that shame and mortification are said to have brought him to an untimely end.
The British reviewers are probably made of sterner stuff than their unfortunate predecessor, and we have no idea that the masterly exposure of their falsehoods and inconsistencies which has been made by Mr. Walsh will affect, in the smallest degree, their
* This prince of scholars,' says Bishop Newton seemed to bay PPhis throne upon a heas of stones, that he might have them at hand to throw at every one's head that passed by.' Life of Milton.