Page images
PDF
EPUB

brought by ships from other countries. Indeed it appears, that the truly indigenous animals of the class, Mammalia, are reduced to the small number of amphibious ones,

Pallas imagines, to the (Economic Mouse; for, like that, it lays in a great magazine of berries, by way of winter stores. This species is particularly plentiful in the wood of Husafels. In a country where berries are but thinly dispersed, these little animals are obliged to cross rivers to make their distant forages. In their return with the booty to the magazines, they are obliged to repass the stream; of which Mr. Olafsen gives the following account: 'The party, which consists of from six to ten, select a flat piece of dried cow-dung, on which they place the berries on a heap in the middle; then, by their united force, bring it to the water's edge, and, after launching it, embark and place themselves round the heap, with their heads joined over it, and their backs to the water, their tails pendent in the stream, serving the purpose of rudders.' When I consider the wonderful sagacity of beavers," continues Mr. Pennant, "and think of the management of the squirrels, which, in cases of similar necessity, make a piece of bark their boat, and their tail the sail, I no longer hesitate to credit the relation." I am sorry such a ridiculous story should have been believed by a British zoologist. Iceland certainly produces no species of Mus which our country does not possess, and the mice that are found there are not likely to be furnished with any instinct or faculties superior to those of our own mice. The circumstance related which are found on the shores. The white bear is now and then conveyed to the northern coasts, by the floating ice-islands, from the opposite shore of Greenland, but none had been over since the preceding year, and those were soon dispatched by the people living in the vicinity, who are with reason afraid of so formidable a neighbor establishing himself among them. Their skins are always the property of the king of Denmark. * As I entered the town of Reikevig, on my return in the afternoon, I was surprised to find a guard of twelve of our ship's crew,. armed with muskets and cutlasses, standing before the governor's residence, and still more so, when, shortly after, I saw the governor himself, Count Tramp, come out of his house, as a prisoner to Captain Liston, who, armed with a drawn cutlass, marched

above, is laughed at by the more sensible Icelanders,, and the species that performs these extraordinary feats, which, according to Povelsen, is the Mus sylvaticits of Linnaeus, is not, to my knowledge, found in that country.

* For a detailed account of these transactions, which ended in a complete revolution, see Appendix, A. and B. before him, and was followed by the twelve sailors, who conducted the Count on board the Margaret and Anne. At the same time I also observed the British colors flying over the Danish, on board the Count's ship, the Orion, which, I subsequently learned, had been previously made a prize to our English letter of marque. I had all along observed a great dislike on the part of our countrymen to the governor: this, as well as the apparent acts of violence, that had just been committed, was caused by information, which Mr. Phelps had received, from what might have been supposed good authority, that Count Tramp had been using his influence to prohibit the trade with the English, contrary to the articles of an agreement, entered into, by him and the captain of an English sloop of war, that had been in Reikevig harbor just before our arrival. During this transaction, the inhabitants of the town, most of whom were witnesses to it, offered no resistance, but looked on with the most perfect indifference. Many of them were idling about the town (it being Sunday), armed with their long poles, spiked at one end with iron, which they use for the pur*pose of assisting them in walking over the frozen snow, and half a score of the lustiest of these fellows might with ease have overpowered our sailors, who were almost as wholly unacquainted with the use of firearms as the Icelanders, and, were, moreover, a most wretched set, picked up from the vilest parts of Gravesend. In the evening, the bishop waited on Mr. Phelps, and entreated that the Count might be allowed to have his liberty, or, at least, that permission might be granted for him to remain on shore as a prisoner. Both these requests being refused, he begged that he himself might be suffered to go on board, and speak to him; but; being disappointed in this third request, also, he came to me, and, after expressing the pleasure he felt on the information he had received, that my object in visiting Iceland was of a peaceable nature, as a naturalist, adding every now and then, with much emphasis and feeling, "tibi semper pax est" he hoped that I would use my influence with Mr. Phelps, at least to permit the governor to come on shore for a few hours; at the same time offering, as a surety for his returning to the ship, that his own son, who was then standing in tears by his side, should be sent on'board, during the Count's absence. It was thought proper, however, not to grant this wish. We witnessed a more affecting scene, soon after, when the Count's secretary, a most amiable young man, about seventeen years of age, a native of Norway, came and pleaded strongly for the release of his master; begging, if that could not be complied with, that he himself might be allowed to go on board, and remain with him in his confinement. When the latter was acceded to, he dried his tears, and, after expressing his gratitude for the permission, hastened to convey his bedding, &c, together with those of the Count on board the ship.

Monday, After the preceding day's transacjune 26. tjongj jt wag thought possible that

some disturbance might be raised, either by the Danes residing in the town, or by the natives; but all was quiet, and, to prevent any effectual opposition on their parts, the arms of the inhabitants were secured, which did not amount in the whole to above twenty wretched muskets, most of them were quite in a useless state, and a few rusty cutlasses. An

« PreviousContinue »