« PrécédentContinuer »
but apparently even, although rough to the touch, like a coarse file: it wholly wanted the little hillocks and the efflorescence of the exterior, and was merely covered with innumerable small tubercles, which, of themselves, were in many places polished smooth by the falling of the water upon them. It was not possible now to enter the basin, for it was filled nearly to the edge with water the most pellucid I ever beheld, in the centre of which was observable a slight ebullition, and a large, but not dense, body of steam, which, however, increased both in quantity and density from time to time, as often as the ebullition was more violent.'--pp. 116, 117.
A simple and ingenious theory of these Ġeysers is offered by Sir G. Mackenzie. He supposes a cavity partially filled with boiling water, and communicating with a shaft or pipe. That part: of the cavity which is not filled with water is of course filled with steam, by the pressure of which the water is sustained to the top of the pipe. But upon any sudden addition of heat under the cavity, a quantity of steam will be produced, which, owing to the great pressure, will be revolved in starts, causing the noises, and the shaking of the ground. The water must now rise above the pipe; an oscillation is produced; the water is pressed downward, and the steam, he says, 'having now room to escape, darts upward, breaking through the column, and carrying with it a great part of the water. As long as the extraordinary supply of steam continues, these oscillations' and jets will go on. But at every jet some of the water is thrown over the bason, and a considerable quantity runs out of it. The pressure is thus diminished; the steam plays more and more powerfully, till at last a forcible jet takes place; a pro- : digious quantity of steam escapes, and the remaining water sinks into the pipe.'
Mr. Hooker observes, that the water is never of a greater heat than 212° of Fahrenheit: he had forgotten that this is the boiling point, though he might have been reminded of it when Jacob boiled his mutton for him in the great Geyser. The Icelanders who live near these hot-springs, send their clothes to be washed; and the people who are thus employed, dress their eggs and miserable potatoes there. They indeed are accustomed to more formidable effects of the burning soil upon which they tread. Horrebow speaks of a man who lighted his pipe at a stream of lava. This was during the eruption of mount Krabla, which from 1724 to 1730 almost incessantly poured forth its burning torrents. The natives call these tremendous streams by the appropriate name of Stone-floods. By day they emit a blue sulphureous flame, obscured by smoke and vapour : by night they redden and illuminate the whole horizon. Balls of fire are sent up from the stone-floods as well as from the burning mountains. In 1755, Katlegiaa poured out a torrent of
water which swept glaciers and rocks before it, and ivundated au extent of country fifteen miles long and twenty wide: alternate discharges of fire and water took place, each equally destructive; loud subterranean noises were heard to the distance of eighty or ninety miles; and three hundred miles off, ashes fell like rain in the Feroe isles.
But the most tremendous eruption recorded in the Icelandic annals, is that of 1783. It began on the 1st of June with earthquakes; these continued to increase till the 11th, when the ivhabitants quitted their houses and took up their abode in tents: meantime a coutinuat smoke was seen rising from the northern and uninhabited part of the country; three fire-spouts broke out, which, after they had risen to a considerable height, were formed into one,
visible at a distance of more than 150 miles. The whole atmosphere was darkened with sand and dust and brimstone; showers of pumice stones fell red-hot, together with a dirty substance like pitch in small balls or rings, which blasted all vegetation. At the same time, great quantities of rain fell, which, running in torrents upon the hot groand, tore up the earth and carried it into the lower country. This rain was so impregnated with salt and sulphur in passing the clouds of smoke which filled the sky, as to occasion considerable smarting on the skin. At a greater distance from the fire, there was in some places a shower of hail, in others a fall of snow, so heavy as to do much injury to the cattle. Meanwhile, such steams arose as to darken the sun, and make its disk appear like blood: this was perceived in England. A tract of country, above sixty English miles in length, was converted into one great lake of fire. Its perpendicular height was from sixteen to twenty fathoms. The hills which it did not cover, it melted down; so that the whole surface was one level expanse of molten matter. Two burning islands were thrown up in the sea. Ships sailing between Copenhagen and Norway were covered with a black and pitchy mixture of briinstone and ashes; and the rain which fell in Norway was so acrid that it totally destroyed the leaves of the trees. Nearly all the grass in the island was burnt, and what was left was in such a state that most of the catile which escaped the fire and flood, died for want of food, or were poisoned by what hunger compelled them to eat. The atmosphere proved fatal to old persons, and all who had any tendency to pulmonary disease. But the greatest evil was the famine which ensued ; and which was so dreadful that the number of inhabitants who perished in consequence of the eruption, amounted to near 9000.
This is sufficiently awful—yet were we to contemplate the different effects of moral and physical evil, a comparison between this · ravaged island and the earthly paradises of the South Sea
would still leave the balance of happiness on the side of the Icelauder. In those delicious countries, where the earth brings forth her fruits spontaneously, the inhabitants have abandoned themselves to the most loathsome and pernicious vices, are becoming every year more savage and miserable, and, in a few generations, will, undoubtedly, be extinct, if left to theniselves. This may be safely predicted from their perpetual wars, their cannibalism, their human sacrifices, their promiscuous intercourse, their child murder, and other unutterable abominations. How much happier, amidst all the terrors of nature, the poor and virtuous Icelauder! Perhaps it is
not possible to produce a more beautiful instance of the beneficial • effects of a common bond of faith, and an established religion,
than is to be found in the works before tis. An Icelandic church is hardly of better construction than the rudest English barn—but we will take Mr. Hooker's description of the church of Thingvalla.
• It was of a simple construction; in form, an oblong quadrangle, with thick walls, leaning a little inwards, composed of alternate layers of lava and turf. The roof was of turf, thickly covered with grass, and from the top of this to the ground, the building was scarcely more than sixteen or eighteen feet high. The entrance end alone, was of unpainted fir planks, placed vertically, with a small door of the same materials. I was surprised to find the body of the church crowded with large old wooden chests, instead of scats, but I soon understood that these not only answered the purpose of benches, but also contained the clothes of many of the congregation, who, as there was no lock on the door, had free access to their property at all times. The bare walls had no covering whatever, nor the floor any pavement, except a few ill-shapen pieces of rock, which were either placed there intentionally, or, as seems most probable, had not been removed from their natural bed at the time of the building of the church. There was no regular ceiling: wnly a few doose planks, laid upon some beams, which crossed the church at about the height of a man, held some old bibles, some chests, and the coffin of the minister, which he had made himself, and which, to judge from his aged look, he probably soon expected to occupy. The whole length of the church was not above thirty feet, and about six or eight of this was parted off by a kind of skreen of open work (against which the pulpit was placed) for the purpose of containing the altar, a rude sort of table, on which were two brass candlesticks, and, over it, two extremely small glass windows, the only places that admitted light, except the door-way. Two large bells hung on the righthand side of the church, at an equal height with the beams. pp. 93, 94.
The church-yard is often enclosed by a rude wall of stone or turf, and the area thinly sprinkled with banks of green sod, which alone serve to mark the burial places of the natives. And here we must gratify our readers with the most beautiful passage in Sir G. Mackenzie's book.
• The moral and religious habits of the people at large may be spoken of in terins of the most exalted commendation. In his domestic capacity, the Icelander performs all the duties which his situation requires, or renders possible; and while by the severe labour of bis hands, he obtains a provision of food for his children, it is not less his care to convey to their minds the inheritance of knowledge and virtue. In his intercourse with those around him, his character displays the stamp of honour and integrity. His religious duties are performed with cheerfulness and punctuality; and this even amidst the numerous obstacles, which are afforded by the nature of the country, and the climate under which he lives. The Sabbath scene at an Icelandic church is indeed one of the most singular and interesting kind. The little edifice, constructed of wood and turf, is situated perhaps amid the rugged ruins of a stream of lava, or beneath mountains which are covered with never-melting snows; in a spot where the mind almost sinks under the silence and desolation of surrounding nature.
Here the Icelanders assemble to perform the duties of their religion. A group of male and female peasants niny be seen gathered about the church, waiting the arrival of their pastor; all habited in their best attire, after the manner of the country; their children with them; and the horses, which brought them from their respective homes, grazing quietly around the little assembly. The arrival of a new-comer is welcomed by every one with the kiss of salutation; and the pleasures of social in tercourse, so rarely enjoyed by the Icelanders, are happily connected with the occasion which summons them to the discharge of their religious duties. The priest makes his appearance among them as a friend, he salutes individually each member of his flock, and stoops down to give his almost parental kiss to the little ones, who are to grow up under his pastoral charge. These offices of kindness performed, they all go together into the house of prayer.'--pp. 31, 32.
A picture worthy of the poet of the Sabbath, and which would have delighted his affectionate and gentle heart. The clergy appear to perform their duties in an exemplary manner. Sir George has copied a page of a parish register, in which the worthy pastor, Mr. Healtalin, for his own satisfaction, makes an annual record of the moral and religious state of every family in his parish ; his labour indeed is not very great, for the population varies from 200 to 210; this, however, is not remarked with any intention of detracting from the merit of this excellent pastor. “This example, Sir George says,
of the attention and pious care with which the duties of a couutry priest are performed, in so remote a corner of the Christian world, may excite a blush in many of his brethren in more fortunate countries, and amid more opulent establishments.'
It would extend this article to an undue length were we to follow Sir George upon his mineralogical excursions, and through his speculations in geology; or botanize with Mr. Hooker. We must
speak of the present state of the island in its political relations, and conclude.
The ship in which Mr. Hooker sailed was a merchant adventurer, provided with a licence and a letter of marque, belonging to Mr. Phelps, a London merchant, who was himself on board. In consequence of some restrictions imposed by the governor, in violation, as Mr. Phelps conceived, of a previous agreement, and certainly as much to the injury of the Icelanders as of the English trader, that gentleman thought it necessary to avail himself of his letter of marque, by virtue of which he landed a dozen men, made the governor prisoner, and carried him on board his ship. Having thus subverted the Danish government, he found it necessary to establish some regular authority till his own government should determine in what manner to act; and this led to what is called the Islandic Revolution, the most singular and innocent event which was ever dignified with such an appellation. A Dane had gone out with Mr. Phelps, by name Jorgen Jorgensen, who had served in the British navy, and imbibed, according to his own words, together with his knowledge of nautical affairs, the principles, and prejudices of Englishmen. In 1806, at the age of 25, he returned to Copenhagen, where, by his open hatred of the conduct of the French, he made hin self many enemies. War broke out between this country and Denmark. Jorgensen, in consequence of a decree calling upon all persons to serve, took the command of a privateer, in which he was made prisoner, and being landed at Yarmouth was set at large upon his parole. This he did not conceive sufficient to prevent him from going a voyage in a British ship, engaged on British pursuits, and with the intention of returning to England.
Mr. Phelps and his privy council determined that Jorgensen should, for the present, assume the chief command, because, not being a subject of Great Britain, he was not responsible to it for his actions. The accident of his being a Dane, which was rather of more consequence, seems not to have been taken into their consideration, and to have been readily overlooked by himself. He therefore issued a proclamation declaring that all Danish authority in Iceland was at an end, and all Davish property confiscated. By a second proclamation he decreed that Iceland should be independent of Denmark, and that a republican constitution should be established similar to that under which the country had flourished till it united itself with Norway. The representatives of the people were to be assembled to form their new government, and till that could be done the existing authorities were to continue. A few persons expressed, in private, their objection to the measure of declaring the island independent, upon the ground that it did not