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gained strength, during the mild winter and beautiful spring of 1783, but this did not prevent them from dying off in considerable numbers, during the week or fortnight immediately subsequent to the eruption, with inflammatory diseases caused by the poisonous quality of the food. Such was particularly the case with the sheep, of which, in the district of Skaptefield, it was remarked that, whereas in Iceland they generally walk facing the wind, they now regularly turned away from it; naturally anxious to avoid the strong sulphureous smell, which the infected breezes brought along with them. As the cold, too, at a distance from the fire, was unusually piercing, they instinctively approached the current of lava, by which many of them were overwhelmed and destroyed, in spite of all the exertions that were made to save them. Nor was the situation of the cows and horses much better; for, although the disease was to them not equally fatal, yet they became excessively lean, and, even in the best season of the year, the cows gave scarcely any milk. It was the same beyond the West Skaptefield district, and, indeed, nearly throughout the the whole island. It was still farther remarked in different parts of Iceland, during the summer of 1783, that the sheep, in direct opposition to the experience of the inhabitants, and to the supposed natural propensity of the animals themselves, avoided the dry elevated places, and even the heaths and commons, which most abounded in rich grass; and, as soon as they were driven up to the heights, snuffed at the earth and searched among the grass, but without tasting it: then immediately turning round, ran to the morasses and wet places. The cause of this I attribute to the circumstance of the ashes and sulphureous dust having had a more permanent influence upon the elevated pasturage, than upon the herbage in moist and low situations, where a proportion of the ashes and sand must have sunk into the water, and where, besides, the grass, when rain fell, must have been much purified and refreshed. It may possibly be objected to this, that the rain would naturally also produce the same beneficial effects in the higher grounds; but it is on the other hand to be remarked that the grass and herbage on heaths and commons, where sheep principally delight to go, is small and short. Consequently, as often as a heavy rain fell upon the ashes and sulphureous dust here collected, these were converted into a kind of paste which could not penetrate the soil; so that all vegetation was covered with it: whereas, in the morasses, this paste was gradually dissolved in the watery soil, and, as the grass in such situations generally rises to a considerable height, the mixture of ashes only affected the lower part of it. This I therefore consider to be the cause why the sheep, during the summer of 1783, uniformly sought the moist places; and it may farther be added, that they there in some degree found a shelter from the penetrating cold and frequent tempests, which are much more prevalent in the hilly country than down in the vallies.
In addition to the inflammatory disease just mentioned as so fatal to the sheep: so early as the commencement of autumn, 1783, when they were collected from the hills, several of them were found to be attacked with a distemper hitherto unknown to the natives. The poor animals could neither walk nor stand: their teeth were loose, so as to prevent them from chewing their food: their cheeks were full of swellings; and their joints were contracted. Towards Christmas the sickness began to shew itself in a still greater degree, even among the stall-fed sheep, and also among the horned cattle, which rendered it necessary for them to be slaughtered. Many, however, fell victims to the distemper much sooner than was expected, when the disease attacked them internally. Thus it was often found that the heart, liver, lungs, and kidnies of these miserable animals were covered on all sides with boils and ulcers: they were in some cases much swollen, in others quite destroyed and hollowed out: one of the kidnies was frequently considerably distended, while the other was proportionably shrivelled. The jaw-bones were perforated, as if they had been bored with an instrument, and the ribs were knit together in a most extraordinary manner. The bones were reduced to a substance resembling gristle, and even the hardest became at the joints so tender, that they might easily be separated from each other. When the entrails, that had been diseased, were boiled, they shrivelled very remarkably, and, if merely rubbed between the fingers, turned at once to powder. Of these particulars I was an eyewitness; for, when we arrived in Iceland, in the middle of the month of April, 1784, this plague was in its full vigor, and I can with truth assert, that the greater number of the cattle then alive on the island fell victims to the distemper during my stay there. Having said thus much concerning the sickness of the quadrupeds, I will only add, that it has been generally more destructive among the sheep than the horned cattle, and that there are some parishes, amongst which are Muhle and Rangervalle, and others in the west country, where the latter have been comparatively but little affected.
According to information that we have received, the disorder has in some degree made its appearance in the districts of Guldbringue and Kiose, and likewise in various places in the west country; but still its greatest ravages have been in Skaptefield, Aarnes, Borgefiorde, Myre, and Hnappedal, and, indeed, through the whole of the