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sery throughout the country, naturally ensued. The peasant, who, with the loss of his cattle, was likewise deprived of his sole means of subsistence, and of the best and most valuable part of his property, had nothing else (after having eaten the animals that died by famine and sickness) wherewith to satisfy the painful cravings of hunger, but skins and old hides, which he then boiled and devoured. Many, driven to the last extremity, have killed the few healthy cattle and sheep that still remained, and afterwards, when these were consumed, wandered with their whole families down to the sea-side, where they have become an intolerable burthen and source of impoverishment to the inhabitants of the coast. At the same time, too, that the uplands are become desolate, the condition of the inhabitant of the coasts is so much the more pitiable; as he can no longer continue his laborious toil through storms and frosts, with vigor and energy, unable as he is, to obtain the smallest quantity of butter or other strengthening articles of food to add to his present wretched fare; and being reduced to water, too, as his only drink; since whey,
which was his usual beverage, is denied him. All this, as is known by long and sad experience in Iceland, renders the fishermen weak and disspirited, and unfits them for their ordinary occupations: thus, each hanging on each, the misery that began with one runs through all. The want of skins for sea-clothing will likewise for some years be a great obstacle to the carrying on of the fisheries with advantage; for although, since the mortality among the cattle, there is so great a quantity of hides in the country that they are considered as scarcely of any value, yet it is a wellknown fact that those of animals which have died of hunger are in general unfit for use, and these, therefore, will neither answer the purpose of making coats or even of being manufactured into the shoes in use in the country.
The loss of the horned cattle and sheep was very severely felt by the Icelanders, but that of the horses was equally so, especially by the inhabitauts of the interior of the country, who thus found themselves deprived of their last resource, the means of having provisions and other necessaries conveyed from the coast, through long and tedious roads. Nay, many who are totally destitute of horses are under the necessity of carrying every load of hay into the outhouses upon their own backs, and frequently from a very considerable distance. Nor is there any prospect of these invaluable animals being soon replaced.
In the district of West Skaptefield, where a great proportion of the people had nothing, during the whole of the winter of 1784, but the most unwholesome food, and consequently became subject to the disorders which have just been described, numbers of people necessarily perished, and, out of seventy families that dwelt nearest to the fire and forsook their homes, not more than one half are still remaining in the district, the other thirty-five having fled to other districts, where a few of them have continued, while a part wandered about the country, and the rest are dead. It is now fully ascertained that the farms already burnt, damaged, or destroyed, were, at the commencement of the fire, inhabited by four hundred and nine persons in the whole.
With the exception of the district of Western Skaptefield, it does not appear that any part of the island has suffered so much as Tingoe, in the northern district, where a great mortality happened both among men and cattle, insomuch that (according to statements transmitted to the Royal Treasury) seven hundred persons lost their lives by famine and want. One hundred also have perished in Skagefiord, and three hundred and fifty-five in Oefiord. In the parish of Norder-Muhle more than one hundred died last year of the same disorder; and, if we calculate the number of those that have died in the district of West Skaptefield only at forty-five, the whole amount of those that have lost their lives by famine (of whom lists have been sent in) will be thirteen hundred. The general distress in the northern country has been exceedingly great, as it has also been in Borgefiord and Myrer, in the southern and western districts. It is, however, much to be dreaded that a still greater famine and mortality have visited the country, or at least particular parts of it, during the last winter, that of 1785, when it was scarcely in the power of man to alleviate the calamity *.
The prevalence of violent earthquakes, as well as of the fire itself, and the extraordinary destruction occasioned by these in the district of West Skaptefield, are circumstances which are rendered sufficiently apparent in Fliotshverfet by the great chasms in the earth, which are there particularly abundant. It has been before remarked ix.) that earthquakes were more violent before the fire broke out, but that from the period of the eruption they gradually subsided; so that in the year 1784 the shocks were weak and scarcely per* The total number of persons that have perished in Iceland, in consequence of the volcanic eruption, amounted, as the Etatsroed himself has assured me, to nine thousand. H.