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Grimstad, where he met with a most cordial reception from all the family, consisting of a widow, with three sons and seven daughters, all in the bloom and sprightliness of youth; cheerfulness and content shone in every countenance: removed to the distance of thirty miles from the nearest habitation, the inhabitants of this obscure and solitary farm preserve all the original simplicity of natural habits; they are unsuspecting, liberal and kind; and, what is still more to their praise, rationally pious, and possessed of a superior degree of religious information.'
Another desert, stretching in a south-easterly direction, brought our traveller to Hof, once famous for its heathen temple, the door of which still serves for that of the church. It is the residence of a dean. The parish of Hof contains upwards of four hundred souls; yet there is only one parishioner, upwards of eighty years of age, that cannot read, and this individual is prevented by a natural infirmity. What a humiliating contrast do these poor islanders afford with one part—we fear with many parts—of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland !*
On leaving Hof, Dr. Henderson proceeded southerly through the White Syssel, on the eastern coast, by Lagarfliot and Eskifiord. At the former of these places he had occasion to verify the remark of the good pastor of Audabrecka, that poverty was the bulwark of their happiness;' for here, where the soil is rich in pasture, and the fishery very productive, intoxication was not uncommon, and 'swearing, sloth, and slander,' appeared to be habitual vices.
At Eskifiord, Dr. Henderson collected some chalcedonies and other mineralogical specimens, and contemplated,' he says,' the infinite wisdom of God in some exquisite groups of crystals which presented themselves in every direction. The basaltic columns of Hornafliot of tive, six and seven regular sides attracted his notice, and he ascertained that where jointed they were all concave at the upper end, and fitted exactly to the convexity of the lower end of the superior joint. The natives call these natural structures Tröllahlad, or the Giant's Wall,' and the caverns usually found among them Dverga Kamrar, or the Dwarf's Chambers;' whence our author infers that they have been accustomed to view such uncommon appearances as the production of certain intelligences superior
The beautiful pillars and stacks of basaltic rock at Stappen, and, above all, the cave resembling that of Fingal on Staffa, suggest to our author, from the similarity of the objects and the co
Fron a report of the Society for the Support of Schools in the Highlands and the Islands of Scotland, it appears that, in two parishes, on the main land, cousisting of 6,945 persons, 5,849 are unable to read; and in four parishes of the Islands, out of a population of 14,056, no less than 12,218 are unable to read; so that in a population of 21,001 souls there are only found 2,934 who can read a word of any language !
incidence of the names, an idea of the latter having originally been imposed by the same people.
He now traversed the bases of the vast chain of ice mountains on the eastern coast, as the Breidamark Yokul, Oræfa Yokul, &c. many of which, like the glaciers of Switzerland, are in progressive motion, and are here travelling downwards towards the sea; more particularly that of Breidamark, which must soon reach the shore; and then,' says our author, all communication between the southern and the eastern districts by this route will be cut off.' Oræfa Yokul is the highest mountain in the whole island. It burst in the year 1362 with a dreadful explosion, the effects of which are still but too visible, and are forcibly described by Dr. Henderson.
Amidst this wreck of nature, amidst these forlorn and savage scenes of desolation and decay, our traveller found a farm called Hof, occupied by a person known over the whole island by the name of David of the Wilderness,' remarkable for his enthusiastic attachment to ancient Scandinavian literature, and for retaining the habits and disposition of his forefathers. We are told that he possesses upward of a hundred sagas in manuscript, most of which he has by heart; he has also a large collection of more recent rhymes, and, as he is himself a rhymer, his stock on hand is probably very considerable.
With David for his guide, our traveller sets out for Shaftsfell. On the road he crosses the tract laid waste by the dreadful exundation of the Oræfa volcano in 1727. We would gladly have inserted the interesting account of this most awful visitation, had our limits permitted; but we must hasten to the eruption of the Skedera Yokul, which took place in 1783.
• This eruption (says Dr. Henderson) not only appears to have been more tremendous in its phænomena than any recorded in the modern annals of Iceland, but was followed by a train of consequences the most direful and melancholy; some of which continue to be felt at this day.
• Immense floods of red-hot lava were poured down from the hills with amazing velocity, and, spreading over the low country, burnt up men, cattle, churches, houses, and every thing they attacked in their progress. Not only was all vegetation, in the immediate neighbourhood of the volcano, destroyed by the ashes, brimstone, and pumice, which it emitted; but, being borne up to an inconceivable height in the atmosphere, they were scattered over the whole island, impregnating the air with noxious vapours, intercepting the genial rays. of the
sun, and empoisoning whatever could satisfy the hunger or quench the thirst of man and beast. Even in some of the more distant districts, the quantity of ashes that fell was so great, that they were gathered up by handfuls. Upwards of four hundred people were instantly deprived of a home; the fish were driven from the coasts, and the elements seemed
to vie with each other which should commit the greatest depredations ; famine and pestilence stalked abroad, and cut down their victims with ruthless cruelty; while death himself was glutted with the prey. In some houses there was scarcely a sound individual left to tend the afflicted, or any who possessed sufficient strength to inter the dead. The most miserably emaciated tottering skeletons were seen in every quarter. When the animals that had died of hunger and disease were consumed, the wretched creatures had nothing to eat but raw hides, and old pieces of leather and ropes, which they boiled and devoured with avidity. The horses eat the flesh off one another, and for want of other sustenance had recourse to turf, wood, and even excrementitious substances ; while the sheep devoured each other's wool. In a word, the accumulation of 'miseries, originating in the volcanic eruption, was so dreadful, that in the short space of two years, not fewer than 9,336 human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,461 head of cattle, and 190,488 sheep perished on the island !-vol. i. pp. 274, 275.
The next stage was the Abbey of Kyrkiubæ (now a respectable farm) a place of great celebrity in the annals of Iceland, as having been inhabited by Papar, or Irish Christians, previously to the arrival of the Norwegians on the island; but it attracted the attention of our author from another cause.
• A little to the east of Kyrkiubæ is one of the finest specimens of basaltic architecture I have ever beheld. It lies close to the road, in the middle of the sand, and forms nearly a perfect square, measuring twenty-five feet in length, by twenty in breadth. The pillars are all pentagonal, and are joined together in the most exact manner. The interstices between them are nicely filled up with a thin stratum of a yellowish colour, and about the eighth part of an inch in thickness, which, being edged in along the surface, as if done with a trowel, suggests at first sight the idea of mortar. On a closer survey, however, it evidently appears to be a natural cement that has run in a liquid state while the pillars were forming. Their greatest diameter is about nine inches. The surface, which is nearly level with the sand, is as smooth as pavement; and, having been bleached by the rains, wears a greyish aspect, which renders the spot very conspicuous, and is finely contrasted with the blackness of the surrounding sand. According to a tradition still current in the neighbourhood, these pillars were the foundation and floor of a monastery at a very remote period; and indeed, considering the fact that Irish Christians once frequented the place, it is not altogether improbable, that, on their discovery of this bed of basalt, they may have erected a religious house on it, especially as it bore so striking a resemblance to the Giant's Causeway in their native country::vol. i.
301. Keeping along the coast, our traveller directed his course to Oddê, where he found the amiable, learned, and hospitable host, the dean Steingrimr Jonson, mentioned by Sir George Mackenzie. From this place Mount Heckla was seen to rear its snow-capped summits to the clouds. Our old acquaintance does not appear to
the same advantage in Dr. Henderson's pages, as in some of those in which we had been accustoined to contemplate him; and we felt, at first, a little mortified at his degradation.
• The recollection of the desolation which it has spread over the adjacent country, (Dr. Henderson says) inspired the mind with a temporary melancholy: was it not for this, there is little in Heckla to attract the notice of the traveller, even supposing him never to have seen any other mountains but those in its vicinity. The Trehyrning has a far nobler and more picturesque appearance. Having been accustomed to hear of this Volcano as rivalling Etna, a strange prejudice in favour of its magnitude and grandeur had rooted itself in my mind, and I fancied the very sight of it must be replete with gratification. Now, however, when I had it direct before me, at a distance of about four and twenty miles, it sunk into comparative insignificance.'-p. 341.
The heat of Heckla, for the last three years has considerably diminished the snow; this circumstance, with the long interval since the last eruption, has given rise to the apprehension that some new explosion is at no great distance. But the same story, and the same apprehensions were stated to Sir George Mackenzie in 1810; at that time a thermometer placed among the slags on the side of the middle peak rose to 144o.
From Oddê our traveller proceeded to Eyrarbacka, traversed the craters known by the name of Trölladyngiar, or magic heaps,' and passing the Desolate Mountains, came, after a fatiguing ride, to the Trölla-börn, or Giant's Children,' a number of small chimnies formed by the cooling of the lava; and on the 20th September, after an absence of fifty-eight days, and a journey of more than 1200 miles, attended with many inconveniences, and much peril, reached Reykiavik in safety.
Here Dr. Henderson passed the long dreary winter, which how-, ever happened to be an unusually mild one.
He does not appear to have attended much to the meteorological phenomena of Iceland; the most considerable of which, the Aurora-borealis, or Northern Lights, he had, he says, an opportunity of contemplating almost every clear night. It is not a little remarkable, that a phenomenon of so striking a nature as to force the attention of all descriptions of persons, and even of the irrational part of the creation, should still occasion a doubt among philosophers whether its appearance is attended with a rustling noise. It seems to be the fashion of the present day, not only to question the fact, but also to deny the possibility of it; gratuitously assuming, however, as the basis of this denial, that the Aurora being removed beyond the limit of the atmosphere, it is not in the nature of things, that it should produce any sound: but we are not told, by whom or by what process the altitude of this meteor has ever been determined. The testimony of eye-wityesses is certainly in favour of its emitting a
noise. Dr. Henderson says, ' when they are particularly quick and vivid, a crackling noise is heard resembling that which accompanies the escape of the sparks from an electric machine.' Sir Charles Giesecke, who had frequent opportunities in Greenland of observing them streaming forth with peculiar brilliancy, has remarked that they sometimes appeared very low, when they were much agitated,
and a crashing and crackling sound was heard like that of an electric spark, or of the falling hail. Gmelin gives a most terrific account of the effects of the Aurora-borealis on the borders of the Icy Sea; all the animals are terror-struck, the dogs of the hunters are seized with such dread that they crouch on the ground, while the streams of brilliant light, in every tint of the rainbow,' crackle, sparkle, hiss, make a whistling sound, and a noise equal to that of artificial fire-works. I have frequently,' says Hearne, a plain unostentatious traveller, heard them making a rustling and crackling noise, like the waving of a large flag in a fresh gale of wind.'
On the 16th of May, 1815, Dr. Henderson again set out from Reykiavik to complete his mission by visiting the western parts of the island. This journey need not detain us long, as a great part of it has been perforined, and the occurring objects described, by previous visitors from this country.
Provided with a tent, he very rarely slept in an Icelandic habitation; but at the small farm of Kampur he was driven to it as his only resource.
Having left my tent and bedding at Hvol, I was now under the necessity of choosing an Icelandic bed,
which, I must confess, I did not like, on more accounts than one; but as my fatigue was excessive, I was the more easily reconciled to my situation. I was shewn into an out-house, while the mistress of the farm made up a bed for me in the sleeping apartment, to which I soon repaired, through a dark passage, from which a few steps led me into my chamber. The most of the family being still in bed, raised themselves nearly erect, naked as they were, to behold the early and strange visitor. Though almost suffocated for want of air, I should soon have fallen asleep, had it not been for an universal scratching that took place in all the beds in the room, which greatly excited my fears, notwithstanding the new and cleanly appearance of the wadmel on which I lay. At one period of the operation, the noise was, seriously speaking, paramount to that made by a groom in combing down his horses. Ultimately, however, every disagreeable emotion was stilled by the balmy power of sleep, and I enjoyed, for five hours, the soundest repose I ever had in my life.'-vol. ii. pp. 84, 85.
The innumerable small islands scattered over the great bay of Breidafiord are the products mostly of submarine volcanoes, and many of them rest ou magnificent pillars of basaltic rock. They abound with eider-ducks, sea-parrots, and other fowl, which stunned the ears of our author with their clang, and in rising almost