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excellent books of this kind have desolation which marks this trelately appeared in the island, mendous influence. After the lapse adapted chiefly to the use of the of ages, the fire of the volcano still farmers, or those of the middle bursts out among the regions of class ; in which moral instruction eternal snow, the earthquake still isjudiciously blended with amusing shakes the foundations of the information in various branches of island, and the impetuous thunderkpowledge. The most valuable of ing of the Geyser yet invades the these writings is a work, called stillness of the surrounding so• Evening Hours,' which was pub- litude. Living amidst so many lished by the late Bishop Finsson, wonders of nature, and ignorant of a few years before his death. natural causes, the Icelanders are
While the studies of literature readily infected by superstition reare thus cherished among the Ice- lating to these objects; and thisinlanders of the present time, Auence is observablein most of the science, strictly so called, engages descriptions they have given of but few votaries ; and these follow their own country. In later times, with feeble and tardy steps the however, such superstitions have rapid progress which has been greatly declined; and during the made among the European nations. last century, several works have Even in the department of natural appeared, descriptive of the nahistory, where the situation of the tural history of the island, in people does not oppose the same which accurate observation is conobstacles as in other scientific pur- joined with some degree of sciensuits, there are few individuals tific knowledge. The author of who have acquired more than a most reputation in this department superficial knowledge of the sub- is Eggert Olafson, who in 1749 ject, and few works have been printed his Enarrationes Histopublished, which possess value rica de Islandiæ Natura et Coneither from the extent or accuracy stitutione; and afterwards, in conof their information. Most of the junction with Paulson, another writings of the Icelanders, upon naturalist, published a larger work, the natural history of their own under the title of Travels in Icecountry, display indeed a singular land;' in which the various obvagueness of description, and more jects in its natural history are of superstitious belief than is en- carefully and minutely described. tirely consistent with the other The mineralogical details in this babits and attainments of the peo- book are very ample; byt owing ple. When considered, however, to the want of arrangement, and of the latter circumstance willscarce. suitable nomenclature, they are ly be thought surprising. In form- not easily intelligible to the reader. ing the scenes which surround In 1780, a work by Olaf Olafson, them, nature seems to have de- intituled, • Economical Travels serted all her ordinary operations, through the northern parts of Iceand to have worked only in com- land,' was published in two volumes bining the most terrific extremes quarto; containing much valuable which her powers can command. information upon the natural his. Nor is it merely a passive and silent tory of this district. Two smaller treatises are subjoined to the work; the Danish metropolis. The study
; one on the Surturbrand, the other of the mathematics, though preon the Sulphur beds of Iceland. scribed by the regulations of the Several descriptions have been school at Bessestad, receives but published of the different volcanic little attention there; nor does it eruptions during the last century; in general form a part of the private among which may be mentioned, occupation of those who enjoy a the treatise of John Sæmundson literary character in the island. on the eruptions around the lake No purely mathematical work is of Myvatn, in 1724, 1725, 1727, extant in the Icelandic language ; and 1728; the treatise of Bishop, but in a book of arithmetic, which Finsson on the eruption from was written some time ago by the Hecla in 1766; and that of Mr. elder Mr. Stephenson, trigonomeStephenson on the great erup- try and the elements of equations tions in 1783, at Cape Reikianes, are briefly included. Stephen and from the mountains of the Biornson, formerly the master of Skaptaa Jokul. The person said the school at Hoolum, published at present to be the best natu- in the Acts of the Icelandic Society ralist in Iceland, and particularly a treatise on statics, which is well intimate with botanical science, is spoken of." This man, whose acSwein Paulson, one of the me- quirements in various branches dical practitioners of the country, of science were very considerwhose abode is near the volcano of able, died at Copenhagen about Kattlegiau Jokul, on the southern the beginning of the present cencoast. His principal original work tury. is on the diseases of Iceland ; but After all that has been said in he has written also several treatises the preceding pages of the poverty on the natural history of the of the Icelanders, and of the island, and on the rural economy nature of the country upon which of the people, which are said to their destiny is cast, it will not possess great merit. Mr. Stephen- be thought wonderful that the fine son has distinguished himself in arts should desert a clime so little the same department: and in congenial to their growth. Paintmany of his writings has laboured ing exists here only in its rudest to make his countrymen avail forms; the native music of the themselves of all the means of island is inharmonious and un. improving their condition, which couth; while the art of sculpture are rendered possible by the is almost entirely unknown. In nature of their soil and climate. proof, however, that these defici
The sciences of astronomy and ences must be ascribed to the mathematics are by no situation of the people, and not to generally cultivated among the a defect in original genius, it may Icelanders; though there are be mentioned that Thorvaldson, some individuals who have suc- the son of an Icelander, dwelling cessfully pursued these studies, on the classic ground of Rome, either in the island itself, or with is at the present moment second the better opportunities which only to Canova among the statuawere afforded by a residence in ries of Europe,
Religious ServICE AND CHA- knowledge and virtue. In his
RACTER OF THE ICELANDERS. intercourse with those around
him, his character displays the
stamp of honour and integrity. The ordinary service of the His religious duties are performed churches in Iceland consists of with cheerfulness and punctuality; prayer, psalms, a sermon, and and this even amidst the numerous readings from the Scriptures. The obstacles, which are afforded by prayers and readings are rather the nature of the country, and the chaunted than spoken by the climate under which he lives. The priest, who performs this part of Sabbath scene at an Icelandic The service at the altar of the church is indeed one of the most church. The sermons appear in singular and interesting kind. The general to be previously com- little edifice, constructed of wood posed, and are delivered from and turf, is situated perhaps amid notes. Of the style and character the rugged ruins of a stream of of these compositions we had not lava, or beneath mountains which the means of forming an accurate are covered with never.melting judgment; but in those instances
snows; in a spot where the mind where we attended the public wor- almost sinks under the silence ship of the country, it seemed, and desolation of surrounding nafrom the warm and impassioned ture. Here the Icelanders assemmanner of their delivery, and from ble to perform the duties of their the frequent use of the figure of religion. A group of male and interrogation, that a powerful ap- female peasants may be seen gapeal was made to the feelings, as thered about the church, waiting well as to the understanding, of the arrival of their pastor; all hathe audience. In the conduct of bited in their best attire, after the the religious service much deco- manner of the country; their chil. rum is generally maintained. One' dren with them; and the horses, striking instance to the contrary which brought them from their occurred indeed to our observation; respective homes, grazing quietly but the case was a singular one, around the little assembly. The and must be received merely in arrival of a new.comer is welcomthe light of an exception to a ge- ed by every one with the kiss of neral statement.
salutation, and the pleasures of
; The moral and religious habits social intercourse, so rarely enof the people at large may be joyed by the Icelanders, are hapspoken of in terms of the most pily connected with the occasion exalted commendation. In his which summons them to the disa domestic capacity, the Icelander charge of their religious duties. performs all the duties which his The priest makes his appearance situation requires, or renders pos- among them as a friend; he sasible; and while by the severe lutes individually each member of labour of his hands, he obtains a his flock, and stoops down to give provision of food for his children, his almost parental kiss to the it is not less his care to convey to little ones, who are to grow up their minds the inheritage of under his pastoral charge. These
offices of kindness performed, they is not uncommon ;
six months all go together into the house of notice being necessary for the prayer.
tenant to quit.
A farm, the disposeable value RURAL AFFAIRS OF The Ice- of which is about 200 rix-dollars,
LANDERS; by Sir George Mac. pays a Land-skuld of from four to kenzie. From the same Work.
six. The nominal price of land
has, in many instances, doubled The terms on which a tenant within the last forty years ; not, holds a farm in Iceland, are simi- however, in consequence of any lar to what is called steelbow in
improvement, but of the depreScotland. The rent is paid in two ciation of the government paper. parts. First, there is a land rent, The rix-dollar, which is paper, is or Land-skuld as it is called, worth four shillings English, when which is a fixed sum rated accord- at par. A guinea in Iceland, at ing to an old valuation ; secondly, the time we left the island, was there is a certain rent paid for a worth fifteen paper dollars ; and permanent stock of cattle and since my arrival in Scotland, I sheep, which is transferred from have been offered twenty for a tenant to tenant, every succeeding guinea. The increase of rent has one being obliged to take it on taken place chiefly on the permacertain conditions, and to leave nent stock of the farm. the same number on his quitting Besides the rent payable to the the farm. The tenant, however, proprietor, a farmer is obliged to is at liberty to keep as much stock pay a proportion to the parish as he can support, without paying priest, according to the rent of any additional rent. The Land his farm; and to keep a lamb for skuld is paid in various ways; in him during the winter season, takmoney, wool, tallow,&c. &c. That. ing it in October, and returning it for the permanent stock chiefly in in good condition about the middle butter.
of May. Leases for a term of years are The servants are generally ornot common in any part of the phans, or the children of very poor island. The same tenant conti- farmers. As they are considered nues to possess the land, unless the nearly on a level with their masproprietor can prove that the farm ter's children, it is not uncommon has been neglected, or that the for marriages to take place befarmer has misconducted himself. tween them; and a poor farmer The law is effectual in preventing sends his son or daughter to serve abuses in the dismissal of tenants; in the house of one in more affluent for if a farmer can prove by a circumstances, in hopes of such a survey of the Hrepstiorè, or two connexion being formed. respectable persons of his own pro- The wages given to servants, fession, that his farm has not been male and female, amount to from neglected, he cannot be removed; four to six dollars a-year, some. but he may quit his farm when- times more, besides food and ever he pieases. The practice of clothes. By these, and the other letting farms from year to year members of the family, every thing that is necessary for subsistence We saw in different places, para and clothing is prepared, and all ticularly at Huaneyrè, pieces of business performed. During the very good cloth which had been winter season, the family rises manufactured in the country. The about six or seven o'clock in the sort called wadmal differs from morning. One is sent out to look cloth, it being what is called in after the sheep; another attends this country, tweeled. Blue and the cattle ; some are employed in black are the most common comaking ropes of wool or horse- lours. One piece of cloth which hair; one is in the smithy making we saw was à mixed black and horse-shoes and other articles. white. Different shades of yellow Spinning is performed with a spin- are used, and not unfrequently for dle and distaff
, and sometimes stockings. The processes of dyewith a wheel ; some, both men ing are very simple.
The leaves and women, knit and weave, and of the arbutus uva ursi, the lycoothers prepare sheep-skins for fish- podium alpinum, the lichen Islaning dresses. While so many are dicus, and some others, are emthus occupied, one generally reads ployed. Stockings are filled with aloud, in a singing tone, different the lichen Islandicus, and boiled. tales and histories. Most farm- When cloth is to be dyed, the vehouses are supplied with books getable substances are chopped containing such tales ; and the small, and spread over the cloth, people exchange books with each which is then rolled up and boiled. other for the sake of variety. The Black is obtained by strewing a only opportunity they have of rich black earth, found in some of making this exchange is when they the bogs, over the cloth, after it meet at church, where, even dur- has been boiled with the arbutus ing the most inclement part of the uva ursi, when it is again rolled season, a few always contrive to up and boiled. We saw none of be present. The people sometimes this earth, but probably it contains amuse themselves with a game a considerable proportion of iron, somewhat like drafts ; with cards; which, with the astringent matter and many play chess extremely of the plant, affords the black well.
colour. Indigo is used for dyeing The Icelanders divide the day blue. and night into nine periods. From
The skins of horses and cows, midnight to three o'clock in the after having been steeped for some morning they call Otta; from time in urine, are frequently put three to six, Midurmorgun; from into the liquor which has been six to nine, Dagmal; from nine to used for dyeing black; by which twelve, Hactei: the first hour and means they undergo a slight dea half after noon, Midmunda ; gree of tanning. Sheep-skins are from half-pastone to three o'clock, prepared by being soaked in water Noon; from three to six, Midu- till the wool loosens, which is reraftur; from six to nine, Natt- moved ; and then the skins are nial ; from nine to twelve, Mid- drawn over a ram's horn fastened nat. There are but few clocks in to the roof by its ends. the island, and they are not very
Farm houses are for the most good,
part built on dry knolls, and the