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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 north of the island. From the east no intelligence has yet been received of its having broken out there. In some horses, which I had the opportunity of seeing during my journey to the place of the eruption, the distemper exhibited the same external appearances as in the other cattle; but the teeth in those that I examined were not yet become loose. It was a melancholy sight to see the miserable and deplorable state to which these poor creatures were reduced. In one instance, in particular, it was really astonishing how the wretched animal could walk, or even stand upon its legs, and yet its owners, in the confusion and distress, occasioned by their flight from the spot, were under the necessity of laying a burthen upon it. No striking external marks of the disorder were perceptible among the horses, out of the district of Skaptefield, but it has nevertheless prevailed there, if not as the sole cause, yet certainly in union with others, to produce a general destruction both among them and the horned cattle: many having died suddenly, when they had a plentiful supply of hay; others when in pastures where there was a sufficiency of grass, of which they were never deprived either by ice or snow. To our utter astonishment, we saw horses in the most miserable state of leanness, in the richest meadows, and even actually starved to death, having preferred eating substances the most injurious, such as the wood of houses, the hair from each other's coats, or whatever else was within their reach, rather than touch the grass of last year's crop, still remaining in the pastures. This appears to me to be a sufficient proof of the poisonous state of the herbage, during the year 1783; and, although the circumstance has not yet been investigated, I am fully convinced that the entrails of the horses, have been equally, with those of other animals, infected with the distemper. The few inhabitants, who had still left them some of the old hay, of the year 1782, preserved their cattle in a healthy and good condition; but even here, when the new hay came into use, the disease began to appear among them.
I have farther to remark, that, during the last summer, several of the younger beasts were recovered by feeding upon the new grass.
It might seem contradictory, were I here to assert, that the whole destruction among the cattle is to be considered merely as an effect of the volcanic eruption; because I have before stated, that, in certain districts, which were within the operation of the fire, no particular distemper has yet made its appearance. I must, nevertheless, still maintain my opinion, that the fire has mostly contributed towards it: since this was, beyond a doubt, the cause of the unwholesome air and frequent tempests, as well as of the failure of the crops of grass and hay, in the summer of 1783.
The cattle had, at the close of that season, become remarkably lean, and consequently, were rendered unfit to withstand the rigors of the ensuing winter, one of the most severe hitherto known. The inhabitants had not, by any means, a sufficiency of provender for them; nor were they aware, at first, of the unwholesome and poisonous quality of that which they did possess. It may be