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the custom as soon as you rise from table to shake hands or kiss all round, saying, “Tak for mad.” I did not retire to my bed till I had taken another stroll on the shore, and looked upon the fjord in all the stillness of an Arctic midnight. The mountains were enveloped in mist; the Sea, flowing in, soothingly lapped the shingle and played around a little one-masted English vessel, which had been wrecked and dismantled off the entrance to the frith, and had been towed into the bay to be broken up for building-timber. A considerable number of English smacks visit the north of Iceland for whale and seal oil: they are mere cockle-shells, manned by four or five Sailors, without a chart, and calculating their way by the log. Many have been lost. “Ah, sir,” said a skipper; “the storms of these Arctic seas are enough to try the pluck of a man. I assure you I have stood at the wheel when I daren't have looked over my shoulder. If I'd seen the waves as was a rolling upon us, I'd have deserted the helm. Mortal man couldn't have stood the sight.” The majority of these English boats come into harbour at Grafsarós or Hofsós, in the Skaga-fjord, where the mad pranks of the sailors have produced a panic among the native farmers. The jolly tars seize on their horses and ride them helter-skelter up hill, down dale, trampling down the tün, mount the backs of the cows and gallop them about, chase the sheep, worry the dogs, court the women, and play practical jokes on the men. The Icelanders can get no redress. Jack laughs at their remonstrances, which are couched in a tongue of which he does not understand a word; and as for their threats | phew 1 there is only one policeman in all Iceland, and he is at Reykjavík. Akureyri is famous for possessing the largest tree in Iceland; this is a mountain ash, outside Mr. Havsteen's drawingroom window. It is twenty-six feet high, a straggling fellow without much foliage, overtopping the roof, to which, during the winter, its branches are secured by ropes. Garden-seats are placed at its roots, and, on a warm Summer-day, the Havsteens take supper around it, and imagine themselves in the gardens of old Denmark. There is a second tree, not so large, outside another house, and these two are considered to be quite the most remarkable sights of the town. Their roots are covered with straw during the winter, and the young shoots are wrapped in wool. In my sketch of Akureyri, the Havsteens' house appears: the view is taken from a potato field on the hill above the town. The ridge on the right is Wathla heithi; the gap between it and the distant glacier heap is the opening of the vale through which the Fnjoská enters the fjord; and the snowy mountain beyond is the Kaldbak jökull, twenty-six miles distant, which stands up like a sentinel to guard the entrance of the fjord. I spent Sunday morning basking in the sun under the wall of the unfinished church, and afterwards visited Svein Skúlason, late editor of Northri. He showed me several volumes of Sagas in manuscript. One of these, a thick folio bound in vellum and beautifully written, contained the Sturlunga Saga; he produced also three octavo volumes of “Kvoethi,” a more perfect collection than that published by the Nordiske Literatur-Samfund. Icelandic poetry has gone through four stages; the first or Edda period, when the wording was plain and vigorous, and the metre simple. The second is the age of versesmiths, who hammered out stanzas full of epithet, simile, and periphrasis, so obscure that none but the initiated could extricate the meaning. The third period is that of the Kvoethi, or ballads. These are mostly reproductions of well-known and widely-spread popular songs. That, for instance, of Olaf liljurós is the same as our “Clerk Colvill and the Mermaid,” and the German “Peter von Stauffenberg und die Merfeie.” It exists also in Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Wendish, Bohemian, and Breton. The fourth period is that of the Rimur. These are simply the Sagas set to jingling rhyme. This fashion came into vogue during the last century, and is popular now. The Rimur are chanted to a tune varied according to the taste of the singer, but always strongly resembling a Gregorian melody.
The following ballad belongs to the third period: I give it as a specimen of the style which, to my taste, is peculiarly musical, and suited to the character of the language. I have preserved the characteristics of the original as nearly as possible.