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and erudition; the names of Sir Joseph Banks, the venerable President of the Royal Society, of Van Troil, Sir John Stanley, Mr. Hooker, Sir George Mackenzie, Doctor Holland, and Mr. Bright, need only be mentioned to establish this fact. But the journeys and the observations of these gentlemen were confined to particular parts of the island, and nearly to the same parts. In this respect Dr. Henderson has gone far beyond them all. He has visited every corner of the island, and is the first, at least of our countrymen, who has crossed the central desert, skirted the northern and eastern coasts, and passed a winter among the natives; and although he may occasionally have borrowed the language of bis predecessors in describing objects which were seen by himself, his book will be found to contain much new matter, both in morals and physics. In bis character of a missionary he was necessarily led to mix more intimately with the natives, and to study more closely their moral and religious dispositions, than one who visits the island merely as a naturalist, or for the sake of gratifying his curiosity. Dr. Henderson is besides a well-informed, sensible, pious man, little, if at all, tainted by those narrow-minded prejudices and superstitions with which most of the missionaries are imbued; and though occasionally somewhat credulous, yet generally viewing things correctly, and describing them as they exist. If we were disposed to object to any parts of his narrative, it would be those in which he endeavours to find allusions in the appearances and customs of Iceland, to those of oriental nations; or takes occasion to apply scripture usages and phrases to times and circunstauces where they sometimes so ill accord as to become, not merely incongruous, but ridiculous. These, however, are but slight blemishes, where so much sound and substantial matter prevails.
It was our intention to separate the natural from the moral phenomena, and to take a connected and condensed view of each; but on second thoughts, it occurred to us that such a plan would not do that justice to Dr. Henderson's book to which it is so well entitled. "We shall therefore accompany him in his peregrinations round the island; first, however, glancing in a general way at the present state of Iceland; which may prevent interruption, by exempting us from the necessity of explanation as we proceed on the journey.
Iceland is situated in the northern Atlantic, between the parallels 63° 30' and the Arctic circle, and between the meridians of 13° 15°, and 24° 4', being in mean length, from east to west, about 260, and in mean breadth from north to south, 210 miles. Its coasts are every where much indented with deep bays and inlets, called fiords or firths: its superficial contents, however, may be estimated at 40,000 square miles, and its population, which from its registers is pretty well ascertained, at 48,000; or about if persons to every square mile. There is reason to believe that the average population was formerly above 60,000; but it never recovered the loss it sustained by famine from 1753 to 1759, which carried off 10,000 persons, and the more dreadful scourge of 1707, when the small pox destroyed 16,000 persons. Vast numbers since that period have perished by this fatal disease; but the general introduction of vaccination has happily of late years arrested its progress. With the exception of Reykiavik on the southern coast, which may contain about 500 inhabitants, and half a dozen other places along the different coasts, called villages, which consist of three or four houses and a church, the population is scattered over the plains and the valleys, in insulated farm-houses, from some of which the nearest farm is at the distance of eight or ten miles. The central parts are nearly, if not wholly, uninhabited. The interior of Iceland,' says Sir George Mackenzie, an extent of, perhaps, not less than forty thousand square miles, * is a dreary, inhospitable waste, without a single human habitation, and almost entirely unknown to the natives themselves. The general surface and appearance of the country are thus described by Dr. Henderson.
• The opinion that this island owes its formation to the operations of submarine volcanoes, is not only confirmed by analogical reasonings deduced from the appearances presented by other islands, which are confessedly of volcanic origin, but gains ground in proportion to the progress of a closer and more accurate investigation of the geological phenomena which every part of it exhibits to the view of the naturalist. In no quarter of the globe do we find crowded within the same extent of surface such a number of ignivomous mountains, so many boiling springs, or such immense tracts of lava, as here arrest the attention of the traveller. The general aspect of the country is the most rugged and dreary imaginable. On every side appear marks of confusion and devastation, or the tremendous sources of these evils in the yawning craters of huge and menacing volcanoes. Nor is the mind of a spectator relieved from the disagreeable emotions arising from reflection on the subterraneous fires which are raging beneath him, by a temporary survey of the huge mountains of perpetual ice by which he is surrounded. These very masses, which naturally exclude the most distant idea of heat, contain in their bosom the fuel of conflagration, and are frequently seen to emit smoke and flames, and pour down upon the plains immense floods of boiling mud and water, or red-hot torrents of devouring lava.'— Introduction, pp. 1, 2.
Every hill almost is a volcano; but, besides the immense number of smaller cones and craters, there are, at least, thirty of more remarkable appearance, of which nine have been in a state of activity in the course of the last century. Streams of brown lava, denuded of all vegetation, vast chasms, from some or other of which
Twenty thousand is much nearer the truth : 10,000 being the extent of the whole island.
volumes of smoke are perpetually ascending, with multitudes of hot springs, occur in every part of the island. Many of these springs, says Dr. Henderson, throw up large columus of boiling water, accompanied by immense volumes of steam, to an almost incredible height into the atmosphere, and present to the eye of the traveller some of the grandest scenes to be met with on the face of the globe.' Of these springs there are eight or ten, not perhaps of equal magnificence with the well known Geysers, though scarcely less remarkable; some throwing up jets of thick boiling mud, and others, of black sulphureous vapour.
In the midst of this region of fire are not fewer than twelve or fourteen mountains, whose summits are covered with eternal ice and snow. In the language of the country these mountains are termed Yökuls, which may not improperly be translated Glaciers. Their heights vary from three to six thousand feet above the level of the sea; and some of them are occasionally disturbed by internal fires.
It is in the valleys between the inferior bills, and on the plains which the streams of lava have spared, that the cottages of the peasants are generally found, and that a scanty herbage for three or four months in the year affords a miserable subsistence to a few horses, cattle and sheep, and sometimes a little hay for the winter. In years of extreme scarcity, the poor animals are fed with dried fish cut small, and with various kinds of sea weed collected on the shores. Olafsen and Povelsen assure us, that on the island of Briedafiord the cattle have been kept alive by feeding them with dry turf. It is said that the Norwegians, on their first arrival, found extensive forests growing on Iceland, and this account is somewhat warranted by the trees occasionally dug out of the peat bogs; such trees, however, are rare, and none have been discovered exceeding a foot in diameter: at the present day there is probably not a tree in a growing state on the whole island that measures ten inches. Dr. Henderson, indeed, says that among the remains of the forest of Hals, on the northern coast, are stumps of birch that measure two feet in diameter: but we doubt the correctness of this statement; it should unquestionably be, in circumference. The forest, as it is called, of Borgafiord, on the western coast, is the proudest in the whole island, and its largest birches are eleven or twelve feet high, and measure at the base from five to six inches in diameter.* It is also supposed that grain was once produced on the island; but the present race have met with no encouragement to persevere in their attempts to cultivate it. A few greens and potatoes are occasionally raised, but even these do not always succeed.
• Hooker's Jourual of a Tour in Iceland.
'The climate, as might be expected, is exceedingly unsteady; but Dr. Henderson did not consider the winter which he spent in Iceland as more severe than in the south of Scandinavia; and was surprized to find the temperature of the atmosphere, not only less severe than that of the preceding winter in Denmark, but equal to that of the mildest which he had passed either in Denmark or Sweden.
• In the month of November, the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer did not sink lower than 20°, and it was nearly as often above the freezing point as below it. On the 6th of December, with clear weather and a light breeze from the east-north-east, it sunk to 8° 30', after which, especially towards the end of the year, the weather becaine remarkably mild, and continued in this state till near the middle of January; the thermometer for the most part between 349 and 40°. On the 10th and 11th of January it fell as low as 150 30, but rose again in a short time, and continued much more frequently above than below the point of congelation till the 7th of March, when we had a strong wind from the N. N. W., and the mercury, which had stood the preceding day between 30° and 34o, sunk in the morning to 9° 30', al noon to 8°, and at nine o'clock in the evening it fell as low as 4° 30', which was the strongest degree of frost we had the whole winter. The following evening it was at 6°; on the 9th it rose to 10°; on the 10th to 19°; and so on till the 13th, when it got again to 32°, and continued for the most part above it the whole of the month. On the 12th of April it fell to 19°, but otherwise kept varying between 32° and 52o. About the middle of May the atmosphere grew colder, occasioned most probably by the approach of some masses of Greenland ice, and on the 18th and several of the following days the mercury was at 29°—pp. 352, 353.
These masses of Greenland ice' sometimes fill all the bays or firths, more especially those on the northern coast. In this calamitous visitation the weather becomes more unsettled; fogs, and a cold chilling atmosphere spread over the whole island, the little vegetation that may exist is totally destroyed, and the cattle perish from hunger-yet we are gravely assured that the presence of ice does not produce cold !* a doctrine that may, perhaps, surprize the simple Icelander, but will, we suspect, contribute little to his comfort. Did the author of this notable discovery never hear of seanien anticipating their approach to islands of ice, from the diminished temperature, long before they could be seen? if not, we must theu take the liberty of informing him, with Horatio, that
* The correctness of the writer's conclusions inay be estimated from the accuracy with which his premises are stated. It may be shown that, under the Pole, the action of the solar light is, at the time of the solstice, under the Pole, one fourth part greater than at the equator, and sufficient, in the course of a day, to melt a sheet of ice an inch and a half thick.'-(Ed. Rev. No: LIX, p. 11.) It may be proved by experiment that, under the Pole itself, the power of the sun at the solstice could, in the space of a week, melt a stra. cum of five inches of ice' (ib. p. 17..)—which can only mean (if, indeed, it means any thing) that the power of the sun is to the action of the
solar light, as 5 to 104, or that 2 and 1 are the same thing, under the Pole.
• There are more things in heaven and earth and sea,
Than are dreamt of in his philosophy:'* Such is the physical sketch of that island, to which its first discoverer, Nadodd, in the ninth century, gave the appropriate name of Snæland, (the land of snow,) which was afterwards changed by Floki, a Norwegian pirate, like his predecessor, to that of Iceland (as some say) from a spirit of contradiction; bis two companions, Heriolf and Thorolf, being so well satisfied with its appearance and productions, that the former depicted it as a most delightful country;' and the latter, to convey an idea of its richness and fertility, asserted that butter dropped from every plant:'-it might, in fact, do so without making butter remarkably plentiful in Iceland.
We shall now take a concise view of the condition and character of the inhabitants of this extraordinary island. As its original settlers were voluntary exiles, who abandoned Norway from a dread of the tyranny of the ruling prince, the form of government adopted in their new abode was just the reverse of that which they had fled from; and its suitableness to the circumstances of the people may be inferred from its long continuance of nearly four bundred years.
* The existence and constitution of the Icelandic republic exhibit an interesting phenomenon in the history of man. We here behold a number of free and independent settlers, many of whom had been accustomed to rule in their native country, establishing a government on principles of the most perfect liberty, and, with the most consummate skill, enacting laws which were admirably adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the nation. Unintimidated by any foreign power, guided solely by their own natural genius, and uninfluenced by any other principle than the love of liberty, security, and independence, they combined their interests and their energies in support of a political system, at once calculated to protect the rights of individuals, and inspire the community at large with sentiments of exalted patriotism.'- Int. p. 24.
In the year 1261 their liberties were somewhat abridged by becoming tributaries to their original country; but they expressly stipulated that they should be allowed to retain their ancient laws and privileges, and that they should be exempt from all taxes. In 1387 they were transferred to Denmark, but no alteration took piace; nor are we aware of any material change in their internal polity from that period till the year 1800, when the Althing, or general assembly of the island was abrogated, and a supreme court,
Sir George Mackenzie has given the register of the thermometer, and remarks on the weather, furnished by Mr. Fell in the winter of 1810, when the Greenland ice beset nearly two-thirds of the whole island, and the consequence was one of the most dreadful winters that was ever known ; and yet, though the gales' of wind were terrible, and snow and hail fell in abundance, the mercury never descended lower than 6°, and but once, below zero, a point to which it has descended in England. It exhibits, however,' as Sir George observes, “a dismal picture of an Icelandic winter, and rouses the most lively feelings of compassion for the condition of the inbabitants of so desolate a region.'