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a good view, without leaping over some of the rills, into which the stream breaks; and, as the stone is very slippery, one is pretty sure of soaking one's feet in the milky water. The Jökulsá is the longest, and probably the largest river in Iceland; it rises in the extensive Watna Jökull, and, after receiving tributaries from Trôlladyngja and Herthubreith, empties itself into the Axarfjord after a course of about a hundred and twenty-five miles, having passed scarcely a human habitation on its way to the sea. The lad conducted me next to the second fall. The sight was so overwhelming as I came out above it, through a natural door in the dislocated trap-wall on the side of the river, that I could only stand lost in amazement. I have never felt so thoroughly the helplessness of man, when nature puts forth her strength, as at that moment when standing amidst the wreck of creation, in a waste and howling wilderness, where no grass can find root, nor flower blossom, above an awful chasm, into which the mighty stream plunges, with a roar like a discharge of artillery. In some of old earth's convulsions, the crust of rock has been rent, and a frightful fissure formed in the basalt, about 200 feet deep, with the sides columnar and perpendicular. The gash terminates abruptly at an acute angle, and at this spot the great river rolls in. The bottom of the abyss is invisible from the point at which I am standing, and I have to move a couple of hundred yards down the edge, before I can see to the bottom of the gulf, and make a sketch. The wreaths of water sweeping down, the frenzy of the confined streams, where they meet, shooting into each other from either side at the apex of an angle; the wild rebound when they strike a head of rock, lurching out half-way down ; the fitful gleam of battling torrents obtained through a veil of eddying vapour; the Geysir spouts which blow up about seventy feet from holes whence basaltic columns have been shot by the force of the descending water; the blasts of spray which rush upwards and burst into fierce showers on the brink, feeding rills which plunge over the edge as soon as they are born ; the white writhing vortex below, with now and then an ice-green wave tearing through the foam, to lash against the walls; the thunder and bellowing of the water, which make the rock shudder underfoot, are all stamped on my mind with a vividness which it will take years to efface.
The Almanna-gjá is nothing to this chasm, and Schaffhausen, after all Turner's efforts to give it dignity, is dwarfed by Dettifoss.
My sketch gives but a poor idea of the falls, the majesty of which is beyond human skill to portray. One man only could have given a true version of its magnificence, and he is dead—that man was Turner. I have no hesitation in saying that Dettifoss is not only the finest sight in Iceland, but is quite unequalled in Europe: it amply repays the toil of a journey to it in its fastnesses; and I am sure that any future visitor will be of opinion that I have underrated its wonders. Our ride back was very monotonous; we traced the Jökulsá up, till we came in a line with the Sulphur range, and then rode straight for it, passing low craters in the desert, the bowls, more or less complete, composed of sand and cinder; and cracks in the ground formed by earthquakes, over which the horses stepped cautiously. We were delayed a short while by my guide catching a sheep and ripping off its wool—in Iceland, shears are never used; this he tied into a bundle, and inserted between himself and his saddle. The country brightens up a little on nearing the lava flood from Krafla and Leirhnukr, and we passed a sel, or cot for summer pasture, belonging to the Reykjahlith farmer. Some juniper bushes, a little whortle, and some scanty grass, grew about it, and plenty of moss coated the steep sides of a stream, which had furrowed itself a way through the sandy soil. A thin fog came on as we sighted the lava torrent, and it was curious to notice what shapes the blocks assumed through the film of mist: it seemed to me as I rode along the brow of a low hill above the flood, thoroughly exhausted with my day's toil, that I was looking down on a Devonshire landscape, from the top of a Dartmoor Tor. I seemed to distinguish rollingwooded hills, towns and churches; but, as I approached, hills and buildings became contorted, and appeared to rear themselves up in new forms, monstrous and fearful, such as perchance Schiller's diver might have seen at the bottom of Charybdis, when he says,
“The purple darkness of the deep
There, there, they clustered in grisly swarms,
After a ride of fourteen hours and a half, we drew rein at the door of Reykjahlith, cold, hungry, and tired.
I was awakened on the following morning by the entrance of a young man with some goose-eggs for sale. He was not long solitary, for his father pushed in after him, to see that his son was fairly remunerated, and his younger brothers followed, that they might have a look at the Enskrmathr (Englishman) who was going to buy goose-eggs. Grimr crawled out of bed to inspect the articles, my host came in to argue about them, followed by his better half and the red-haired servant-girl, both filled with feminine inquisitiveness, the latter pursued by her admirer, and the admirer in turn followed by his brothers. Then my host's little snub-nosed daughters, who were carrying on a flirtation with the brothers of the maid's admirer, poked their snub-noses in at the door, and presently, becoming emboldened, entered the room, with four dogs which they had been feeding. Finally, some folk from Möthrudalr, who had arrived on the preceding day with a train of horses, finding that my room was the general rendezvous, edged themselves in as well. As every one had something of his own to say on the subject of the eggs, and was perfectly indifferent to the opinion of the others, the room became a perfect Babel.