Page images
PDF
EPUB

enjoyed during the voyage, entered into all my views, and the willingness with which he supplied me with every thing that could afford me accommodation, or might further the object of my pursuits, have left a lasting impression of gratitude upon my mind.

Neither can I suffer to pass in silence the civility of Sir George Mackenzie, in collecting plants for me in his late excursion to Iceland; nor the attention shown me by Doctor Wright, of Edinburgh. Though a stranger to the latter gentleman, till my arrival in Scotland on my return from Iceland, he nevertheless participated feelingly in my misfortunes, and begged me to make any use I pleased of the various subjects of natural history in his possession, which had been collected in Iceland by his nephew, the late Mr. Wright, an amiable young man, who accompanied Sir John Stanley on his voyage to that country.

No apology, I trust, will be considered necessary for prefacing my journal with a slight and very cursory sketch of Icelandic history, or with the details that follow, explanatory of the various offices, as well civil as ecclesiastical. An introduction, comprising these, and hints on a few other most remarkable objects in the island, appeared to me to be necessary, not only for the proper understanding of much of my narrative, but to prevent these volumes from being to such a degree incomplete as would have rendered them almost useless.

INTRODUCTION.

- —^ . .

Iceland, one of the most considerable of the European isles, is situated in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean; and, according to the most authentic observations that have been made, between the sixty-third and sixty-seventh degrees of north latitude, and the sixteenth and twenty-fifth degrees of longitude, west of Greenwich*.

* The able French navigator, M. de Verdun, de la Crenne, whilst speaking of the m apt of Iceland in his Voyage en diverses Parties de l'Europe de l'Afrique et de l'Amérique, takes the opportunity of remarking "qu' elles different tant entr' elles, et d'ailleurs elles s'accordent si peu avec le résultat de nos observations, par rapport à la partie, que nous avons parcourue, qu' il ne nous est pas possible de présumer qu' elles représentent plus fidèlement les parlies que nous n'avons pu reconnôilre." — Arngrini Jonas, likewise,

Whether or not this island was the Thule of any of the ancient writers, who have spoken of a country by that name, is a question which has been often discussed, and by

in his Brevls Commentarius de Islandia, after having, with great pains, collected many of the various opinions that existed, in his time, respecting the situation of Iceland, observes, to use the words of his translator, "There be others, also, who either in their maps or writings have noted the situation of Iceland j notwithstanding it is to no purpose to set down any more of their opinions, because the more you have the more contrary shall you find them." M. de Verdun took a very accurate observation in the middle of the JVestmann's Isles, which lie very near to, and correspond with, the southern point of the main land, and the position given was 63° 20' 30'' of north latitude, and 22 s 47' 50" longitude, west of Paris. From another observation made by the same officer at Cap Nord, the most northern point of the island, its situation was ascertained to be in 66° 44' north longitude, and 25° 4' latitude, west of Paris.—With regard to the maps which accompany the present publication, Mr. Arrowsmith has, with great care and assiduity, collected information from the best authorities, in order to render them the most correct of any that have yet appeared; and he has not only made ample use of the volumes of M. Verdun, but also of manuscript maps and charts which have been constructed by Danish officers, who have been employed in Iceland at the expence of his Danish Majesty.

mone perhaps more ably than by Arngrim Jonas, in his T;*actatus de Islandiâ; but it nevertheless remains undecided`Stift more to be doubted are the accounts that have been handed down to us, principalWy by Geoffrey, of Monmouth, of the subjugation* of the island hy King Arthur, and of the subsequent arrival in England of a King+ of fceland to do homage to that prinze. Were these particulars substantiated, the relation of the discovery and colo

- Anno Christi 517, Arthurus, secundo regni ui anno, subjugatis totius Hiberniæ partibus, classem suam direxit in Islandiam, eamque, debellato populo, subjugavit." — Galfrid. Monumet. Hist. Briton, lib. 9. c. 10.

f ** Missis deinde in diversa regna legatis, invitantur tàm ex Galliis, quàm ex collateralibus autem insulis oceani, qui ad curiam venire deberent ; ex collateralibus autem, insulis, Guillaumurius rex Hiberniæ, Maluasius rex Islandiæ, Doldavius rex Gotlandiæ, Gummasius rex Orcadum, Lot rex Norvegiæ, Aschilius rex Danorum." — Galfrid. Monum. lib. 9. c. 12. — It is further mentioned, in the mineteenth chapter of the minth book of the same author, that Primce Arthur

had six score thousand soldiers sent him from these six countries !

« PreviousContinue »