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diminishes to supply the neighbouring farmers with fuel. We read in the Gretla of some boors slinging a rope over the fork of a tree, for the purpose of hanging the outlaw Grettir. No tree of sufficient size exists in the island at the present day, to support the weight of a large Newfoundland dog. Every skog is marked on Gunnlaugson's map. The rapid destruction may be exemplified by the instance of a forest in Öxnardalr, marked on the map published in 1844, and which is now completely destroyed. By far the finest woods in Iceland are those of Fnjoskadalr, and Thwerårhlid in Myra sysla. One very remarkable forest, completely surrounded by snow mountains, except at one point where a rivulet escapes, exists in the south of Watna jökull, at Nupsstathr. I understood from a Danish merchant, that a singular forest is found near Rautharhöfn, completely encompassed by high lava walls, and that the only admission to this secluded recess is through a hole in the lava. The temperature of Iceland is varied. The north is far colder than the south-west, which is washed by a branch of the Gulf Stream. The average temperature of Reykjavík is about the same as that of Moscow, the whole year included. At Reykjavík the average summer heat is 53°6' Fahrenheit; winter, 29° 3/; and that for the whole year is 39°4'. At Akureyri, in the north, on the Eyja-fjord, the average summer heat is 45° 5'; that of the winter, 20° 7'; and the mean for the year is freezing point (Almanak um ar, 1863, af Schjellerup). According to Humboldt, the mean temperature of the year is 40°; of the winter, 29° 1'; of the spring, 36°9'; of the summer, 53°6’; of the autumn, 37°9'; of the warmest month, July, 56° 3’; of the coldest month, February, 28° 22'. Horrebow, in Bessastathr, found the hottest day, in the years 1749–1751, to have been 70° 5', which was the 30th July, 1751; and the coldest to have been 13°75', on the 25th January of the same year. The maximum heat at Akureyri in the summer is 75°2', and in winter the thermometer sinks as low as–29° 2'. It will be seen that there is a difference of seventeen degrees between the average temperature of Reykjavík and Akureyri; so that whilst the mean of the former is very nearly the same as that of Moscow, the mean of Akureyri is about that of Julianshaab, in Greenland. The isotherm of 32°, which is that of Akureyri, touches the north Cape, on the continent of Europe, under latitude 71° N.; from which point it turns suddenly to the south-west, running along the Dovrefjeld. It then takes a bend towards the south-east, and returning to the Arctic Circle, touches Tornea at the head of the Baltic, passes Uleaborg in Finland, dips towards the interior of Russia, more and more south, almost touching Statoust. It then passes the Ural, and leaving Tobolsk on its north, runs nearly parallel with the lines of latitude, reaches Irkutsk, then turns again towards the sea, cuts through the middle of Kamschatka, and reaches the Polar Circle on the north-west of America. In the interior of this continent it makes a rapid descent towards the south, following the Rocky Mountains, touching lake Winnipeg, and cuts the southernmost sweep of Hudson's Bay. From the eastern coast of Labrador it stretches northward once more, and traversing the snowy promontory of Greenland above Julianshaab, returns to the north coast of Iceland. The coldness of the winter depends upon the formation of Greenland ice. Periodically large masses break away and float off south, producing cold summers in England. The Gulf Stream is then able to take a higher sweep, and a succession of mild winters ensue till the ice-fields have again recovered their southern position. This advance and shrinking of the ice is an infallible index to the changes in the temperature of Iceland. There is a saying among the Danes that there is mild weather in Iceland when it is cold in Europe, and vice versä : an observation probably true in the main, though not borne out by fact in the year 1862, when I was in the island. The summer was cold throughout Europe, and also in Iceland: however, there was a difference in one particular; June and July were months of incessant rain throughout England, France, and Germany, whereas I had only three rainy days during the whole of my tour. Thunder and lightning are rare in Iceland, and only occur during the winter. The Aurora Borealis is very splendid as soon as the darkness of winter sets in, lighting up the gloomy skies with its glorious scarlet streamers. Other phenomena are the Hrovarelldur, or electric flames, which appear about metallic objects, such as buttons, or stream from the head, like the glories of the saints. Itosabaugur, or storm-rings, form about the moon, and mock suns, called hjásólar, are frequently seen, sometimes to the number of nine at once. Meteors, termed vigahnóttur, and shooting-stars, stjärnurhap, are often observed. Olafsen and Povelsen give a singular account of a circumstance which took place in the summer of 1754. They say that, on a morning when the weather was serene, though the sky was rather cloudy and a slight wind prevailed, there was seen at Eyrarbakki a black cloud coming from the mountains in the north-east, and descend

Meteorological phenoImena.

Natural history.

ing obliquely through the air towards Eyrarbakki. The nearer
it approached the smaller it became, and it darted along with the
rapidity of a hawk. This cloud, which then appeared round,
flew towards a spot where several persons had assembled, as well
strangers as natives, for the purposes of commerce; and on
passing rapidly before them, it touched the jaw of a middle-aged
man, causing him such pain that he instantly became raving
mad and threw himself into the seal Those who were near
him prevented him from drowning; but he remained insane,
uttered all sorts of extravagant expressions, and made many
forcible attempts to free himself from those who held him. They
wrapped his head in flannel, and held him down for some time
upon the bed; after two days, the madness abated, but he was
not restored to his senses till the expiration of a fortnight.
Another account of this phenomenon states that the persons in
the company did not perceive the cloud till it came up with them,
but simply heard a hissing in the air while it passed: those,
however, who were farther off observed its rapid course, and saw
it sink and disappear on the sea-coast. The cheek of the man
who was touched turned of a deep black and blue colour, which
gradually disappeared as he recovered.
There can be little doubt that this “cloud" must have been
some material flung from Hekla, which erupted that very year.
A fireball of a terrific nature was cast up during the eruption of
Kötlugjá, in 1755.
Hurricanes and whirlwinds traverse Iceland with great rapidity
and with enormous violence. One is mentioned in the Gisla
Surssonar Saga, which tore the roof off a hall. Olafsen and
Povelsen saw a similar whirlwind detach from the shore of
Reykja-fjord a large block of stone to which a ship's cable was
attached, and whirl it into the sea.
Of wild animals, foxes are the most plentiful. Reindeer were
introduced into the island in 1770. Thirteen head were then
brought from Norway. Of these, ten died during the voyage ;
but the remaining three increased rapidly, so that at present
there are considerable herds in the unpopulated districts of the
island, especially in the rolling mountain deserts of the north-
east. In winter, the reindeer are hunted down by the natives,
for the sake of their flesh and horns. They have never been
domesticated, as the country is too uneven and intersected by
rivers to render sledging practicable; and, as they devour the
esculent lichen, which is an Icelandic staple of food, the reindeer
are looked upon with very little favour.
Bears come over with the drift-ice from Greenland, but in no

great numbers; only from ten to fourteen are killed during each winter. There are seven families and thirty-four species of mammals in Iceland; but of these, twenty-four are water creatures. Of Cetacea alone, there are thirteen varieties. Two quadrupeds appear to be indigenous: the fox, and the somewhat problematical Icelandic mouse; the rest have been brought over since the colonization of the island. The feathered creation is most fully represented in the country. There are six families, and about 90 species of birds. Of these, fifty-four species are water-fowl. No reptiles have ever been discovered in Iceland; no frogs croak in the marshes, no snakes or blind-worms wriggle through the coppice, nor do lizards dart among the rocks. The fish which frequent the numerous lakes, rivers, and fjords are little known. Faber mentions forty-nine varieties, of which seven are fresh-water fish. The list is manifestly incomplete. The most valuable property of an Icelander consists in his cattle; he possesses cows, horses, and sheep. The Sagas speak of flocks of geese and droves of swine as having formed part of a farmer's wealth; but all the geese are now wild, and there are no swine in the island. The ass is also quite unknown. The dog is of the Esquimaux type, with ruff around its neck, head like a fox, and tail curled over its back. It is of great use to the farmer in keeping his flocks together, and defending his tún or home-meadow, from the inroads of cattle. The swan and eider-duck are the only birds turned to any account. The former is shot for its quills; the latter is preserved, by law, for its down. A severe penalty is inflicted on all who kill this bird; and it becomes so tame in the breeding season, as to build and lay on the roofs and in the windows of the farmhouses. The birds strip their breasts to line their rudelyconstructed nests, and the down thus pulled off is removed by the peasants. The duck at once pulls off a fresh supply, and this is again removed. If the third lining of down be carried off, the bird will desert its nest, and never return. Fisheries are prosecuted with great activity around the coast, chiefly by the French, who keep a man-of-war constantly in the Faxa-fjord, to protect the interests of their fishermen. The natives secure enough of the produce of the sea to supply themselves with food for the winter, but never engage in the fisheries with a view to traffic. Cod, haddock, skate, and halibut abound

on the coast, and the lakes are filled with trout and char of great c

National industry. Learning.

size and delicious flavour. Seals and whales are killed for their
oil; and shark's flesh is eaten, after having been buried for some
months, to free it from its peculiarly rank taste. The rivers
teem with salmon, which are caught in creels. The fish are
split and wind-dried, then stacked in an outhouse for con-
No grain is cultivated, but a species of wild corn, growing on
the sand-flats by the sea, is much prized. It is reaped with a
sickle, and, after having been thoroughly dried, is threshed.
The straw is used for thatching, and as food for the cattle; the
corn is baked, then ground, and made into thin cakes or wafers,
which, when powdered with cinnamon, are very delicious. The
meal is also kneaded into lumps of dough, which are eaten in
milk or used with butter. The only places where this corn
grows in any quantities are the Myrdals and Skeitharár Sandur.
The amount grown is only sufficient to render it an article of
delicacy, and not a staple of food. The food of an Icelander
consists of stockfish, rye cakes, boiled trout, Icelandic lichen,
rice, rancid butter, and skyr, or curd. The drink is coffee, milk,
and corn-brandy. Potatoes and carrots are cultivated in the
gardens of the larger farms, but not to any extent. The former
have never suffered from the disease which has ravaged the potato-
fields of Europe. The only dressing given to the gardens is
the ash from the peat and sheep's-dung fires of the kitchen."
Every native reads and writes well; he occasionally under-
stands Latin. The clergy are uniformly well educated, reading
Greek and Hebrew, and being sufficiently proficient in Latin to
converse in it fluently. They are sometimes acquainted with
Danish and German. Indeed, there is a talent for languages
observable amongst the generality of Icelanders. The rector of
the Latin school at Reykjavík is a master of eight languages, and
my guide knew three or four very respectably.
The number of books possessed by the farmers and priests is
small, but they borrow of each other and copy the volumes lent
them. Their libraries consist generally of Sagas. The following
is a catalogue of the books belonging to a farmer in the
1. Bible.
2. Prayerbook.
3. Sermons of Vidallin, late Bishop of Reykjavík.
4. Book of Icelandic plants and their properties, by

* Further and fuller particulars concerning Icelandic food are given in chap. iv.

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