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banished for three years, for having slain a neighbouring chief; it so happened that a man, by name Gunbrærn, had not long before discovered land to the westward; the exile sailed in quest of it, wintered at an island, examined the main land during the second year, and, at the expiration of the third, returned and persuaded many of his countrymen to form a settlement in this new country; which he called Greenland, as if by its name to denote the advantages which, according to his description, it possessed over their land of ice and snow. So successful were these representations, that no fewer than five and twenty ships followed him thither; but of these only fourteen reached their destination. They settled in East, or as it is now called Old or Lost Greenland; an appellation which denotes the singular and melancholy fate of this once flourishing colony. Fresh colonists pursued their course both from Iceland and Norway, and the country was peopled both on the east and west sides as high as latitude 65. The new colony was formed before the conversion of the mother country: but all the Gothic nations have been converted with remarkable facility, and these Greenlanders soon became Christians, and received a bishop from Norway.
The loss of this colony is one of the most singular events in human history; their loss it may literally be called, for, to use the words which Montgomery has so well applied to a different occasion,
• This sole memorial of their lot
Remains; they were—and they are not.' The last authentic accounts of their existence are towards the close of the fourteenth century. The pestilence which, under the name of the Black Death, devastated Europe in the middle of that century, is supposed to have reached this remọtest region of the north. In Iceland two-thirds of the population were cut off by it; it is therefore scarcely to be imagined that their neighbours should have escaped the same dreadful visitation, especially as, unlike other pestilences, the farther north it proceeded the more destructively it raged. But the room made by such ravages would soon have been filled up, and there is reason to attribute the loss of East Greenland to a more permanent evil. During the winter of 1348, the whole of the coast of Iceland was frozen, so that a horseman might have ridden from cape to cape round the island. Such a circumstance had never occurred before since the country was discovered; and it seems probable that in this winter the accumulation of ice began, which has blocked up the coast of East Greenland. The drift-ice, collecting along its shore, maintained its ground during one inauspicious summer : if a land breeze had arisen and sent it on its way to better latitudes, Iceland and Lapland would not have been at this day the cheerless regions which they are; but having resisted the summer, it took root, as it were, along the coast and has continued to increase, producing effects upon the climate of the north, which we ourselves in some degree experience.
The spirit which founded the empire of Manoa for the Incas, and placed the ten tribes beyond the Sabbatical river, has been busy with the lost Greenlanders. A Dominican is said to have returned from a Greenland convent of his own order in 1545. It was dedicated to St. Thomas, and, according to his account, heated by a fountain of hot water, which served for all the culinary purposes of the community and was conveyed by pipes through all their apartments. The brethren also irrigated their garden from the same source, and by this means produced the most delightful fowers and fruits in a land of ice and snow. A tale worthy to have been invented by Urreta himself, being as veracious, but in better keeping than his history of the monastery of Plurimanos in Abyssinia, four leagues in circumference, which is inhabited by 9000 Dominicans, and contains the Queen of Sheba's library. Urreta, indeed, was an outrageous liar even in his own order, who, in that catholic accomplishment, bear away the bell from all others: the Greenland story is a modest fiction, and whenever history offers a chasm of this kind, the fabler, who fills it up, finds willing listeners to his inventions; so much more delightful is it to indulge the imagination than to exercise the reason. Wild as it is, this tale obtained belief, and for more than a century geographers repeated it after each other, and inserted in their maps the Cenobium S. Thomæ. The last report of the lost Norwegian colony comes down to 1752, when the Moravian missionaries heard, from a native traveller, of a people on the east side of greater stature than the Greenlanders, with black hair and great beards; and who were the terror of the other inhabitants, because having once been compelled to eat human flesh by the severity of a winter famine, they had continued the diet by choice, and made mikkiak of their dead; that is, they laid them in a pit with other meat, and so eat the flesh half raw and half frozen. These human Ghowls were not, however, content, like the Tapuyas of Brazil, to let their friends die a natural death before they ate them; they killed the old and the orphans; and if a stranger appeared among them he was fair game. Such a race there may be; but their black hair, as well as their inanners, shews them not to be the remains of Eric the Red-Head's colony. The only certain intelligence was procured by Egede, a man whom the Romanists would have stiled a saint had he belonged to their communion; and whom it does not become a Christian of any communion to mention without admiration and reverence. In one of his expeditions to the inlet, called Ball's river, he found the ruins of a church in a beautiful valley, and clay-houses
likewise in ruins, and overgrown with grass and thickets of birch, willow, elder and juniper. In another expedition, at a place which the Greelanders called Kakoktok, between the 60 and 61 degrees, he found the ruins of a church, 50 feet long and twenty broad, having one great house and many smaller ones near it, and the walls of the church-yard yet standing. He cleared away a heap of rubbish from the church, in hopes of finding some Norwegian antiquities. The Greenlanders, who were with him, could hardly be prevailed upon to perform this labour, fearing that the souls of those who were buried there would take vengeance for being disturbed. They could do little for want of proper tools: all that they discovered were a few coals, bones, and broken urns; proving either that the place had been used for burial before the colonists were converted, or that, after their conversion, they burnt their dead.
The discovery of America by the Icelanders, and the establishment there of a colony from East Greenland, are facts which no writer will now pretend to controvert: all traces of this settlement are lost at a very early age. The latest account is that in 1121. About a century after the discovery, a bishop from Greenland went thither to convert the settlers. It seems probable that they were cut off by the natives whom they called Skrællings, who crost over to West Greenland, and are believed to have contributed to the extinction of the Iceland-colony. We now know that these people are Esquimaux, a knowledge which the Moravian missionaries have procured for us; and it is not a little extraordinary to find one of the most feeble of the American tribes, not in numbers, but in strength and stature, appearing as a formidable and destructive enemy to men of the race of the conquerors of Europe.
The discoveries and settlements of the Icelanders were made before their conversion to Christianity. That event took place toward the close of the tenth century : the first missionary who is known to have preached among them was a Saxon bishop by name Friederic; the first church was built in 934, by Thorvard Bodvar
Baptism in those days was perforried by immersion, and many persons who had no other objection to receiving the new religion, objected to this initiatory rite: because it would be indecent they said, to go naked into the water like boys. A sort of compromise was made with them: they renounced paganism by suffering themselves to be signed with the cross; and though this did not entitle them to be considered as Christians, it gave them the privilege of eating with those who were baptized, and of being buried close to the church-yard. It is apparent from this account, that the missionaries were politic enough, like the Moors in India, to hold up their religion as more honourable than that of the idolaters. The Irish also scrupled at immersion, but it
was for a widely different reason : original sin was too convenient, as well as too agreeable a thing for them to be content to part with it entirely, so they used, says Stanihurst, "a damnable superstition, leaving the right arm of their infants uuchristened, (as they term it,) to the intent it might give a more ungracious and deadly blow.' The Irish made another curious improvement upon baptism: water was good enough, they thought, for the infants of the poor; but gentlemen's children were baptized in milk :-it is odd that they did not give the preference to whiskey.
The Škalds were the great opponents of Christianity in Iceland ; for the same reason that Demetrius the silversmith and his craftsmen opposed it at Ephesus. The mythology of the country was in great measure their own invention; or at least they did for it what Hesiod seems to have done for the fables of the Greeks. But it was less their profession than their vanity which was wounded by the threatened triumph of another faith ; for from this mythology they had made up a poetical language as strange as the Correspondencies' of Swedenborg. Had the missionaries been like the Quakers, who insist upon christening the days of the week, this obstacle might have been insurmountable--the poets, however, have always enjoyed a dispensation for as much paganism as suited them, -till Mr. Toogood and the editors of the Methodist Magazine agreed that the heathenish word Muse was not to be tolerated in Christian poetry: and the Skalds, by virtue of this dispensation, continued to exercise their craft after they had found it expedient to change their faith.
Von Troil gives a good sample of their figurative stile. -át I hang the round beaten gaping snake on the end of the bridge of the mountain bird, at the gallows of Odin's shield.' The round beaten. gaping snake is, in Skaldic phrase, a ring; the end of the bridge of the mountain bird, is a finger, because the falconer carries the hawk on his hand. Odin is put for the sake of dignity. It was usual to hang the shield on the arm, and hanging suggested thre ingenious antonomasia of gallows for arms: so that the sum total of this nonsense, when put into plain language, is merely, I place the ring on the finger.* Hof, in Icelandic, has the same meaning as its Eng
* It is worthy of remark that Gongora, unquestionably a man of great powers, invented a style of poetry precisely similar to this in Spain, two centuries ago, in the golden age of Spanish literature ; and what is more extraordinary, the style found admirers. The first balf dozen lines of his Soledades will show the resemblance.
Era del año la estacion florida
lish derivative, hoof; but it likewise means decency and moderation: and if an Icelandic poet wished to mention either of those qualities, it was considered an elegancy to express them by some periphrasis for a horse's hoof. We are told that this diction was fashionable, but that it can ever have been popular is impossible ; and it is equally impossible that any men of real genius should ever have continued to wrap up their meaning in such cumbrous circumlocutions. In fact, the best pieces of Runic poetry which have reached us are free from such absurdity.
The Runic poems resemble the Welsh in the endless complexity of their metre. That the Gododin of. Aneurin, and the Hirlas Song of Cyveilioc should breathe the same spirit, and savour of the same manners as the Death Song of Regner was to be expected ; but that the Keltic and Runic bards should equally have studied all the artifices of versification, and that anything so complex as their art of poetry should have been invented in ages so barbarous, are curious facts in the history of civilization. Perhaps the Welsh, though they hated the Saxons, knew the fame of the Skalds, and imitated them, thinking the saine skill might be displayed to more advantage in a richer and more harmonious language. This is probable, because their earlier poems, which are considerably anterior to any that we possess of Gothic growth, are ruder in their construction. The Welsh remains are exceedingly valuable, and deeply is the world of letters indebted to the excellent and learnede historian of the Anglo-Saxons for so incontestably establishing their authenticity, and to the individual,* who at his single expense has so munificently secured them from farther danger by means of the press : they contain nothing, however, so curious as the earlier and later Eddas.
But was the mythology of the Edda at any time the belief of the Gothic nations ? Certainly not more than the tales in Ovid's Metamorphoses were the belief of the Romans, and probably less, for there is reason to believe that the Skalds went on with their work of invention long after the conversion of these people to Christianity. Scarcely a trace of it is to be found in SaxoGrammaticus: and Verstegan, Schedius and Sammes show no other resemblance to this highly poetical system, than that of a few names. The days of the week are seven good witnesses and true, and four of the seven bear testimony that the superstition of our Saxon forefathers differed considerably from the machinery of the Skalds. Sunday and Monday are not classical Pagans; if they were, they would have been Solday and Lunday :--the Roman etymology
• Mr. Owen Jones. It is no exaggeration to say that this gentleman has given a wore munificent proof of his love of literature than any of its boasted patrons.