if it was sometimes that of a criminal, and they had acquired

The whole country between Reikum and Reikjavik, a distance of 45 to 50 miles, is, for the most part, uninhabited. Here and there, in the fields of lava, stand little pyramids of the same substance, which serve as landmarks; and there are two houses built for such persons as are obliged to travel during the winter. But we found much traffic on the road, and often overtook caravans of 15 to 20 horses. Being the beginning of August, it was the time of trade and traffic in Iceland. Then the country people travel to Reikjavik from considerable distances, to change their produce and manufactures, partly for money, partly for necessaries and luxuries. At this period the merchants and factors have not hands enough to barter the goods or close the accounts which the peasants wish to settle for the whole year.

if it was sometimes that of a criminal, and they had acquired

At this season an unusual commotion reigns in Reikjavik. Numerous groups of men and horses fill the streets; goods are loaded and unloaded; friends who have not met for a year or more welcome each other, others take leave. On one spot curious tents { 44} are erected, before which children play; on another drunken men stagger along, or gallop on horseback, so that one is terrified, and fears every moment to see them fall.

if it was sometimes that of a criminal, and they had acquired

This unusual traffic unfortunately only lasts six or eight days. The peasant hastens home to his hay-harvest; the merchant must quickly regulate the produce and manufactures he has purchased, and load his ships with them, so that they may sail and reach their destination before the storms of the autumnal equinox.

if it was sometimes that of a criminal, and they had acquired

From Reikjavik to Thingvalla is 45 From Thingvalla to the Geyser 36 From the Geyser to Skalholt 28 From Skalholt to Salsun 36 From Salsun to Struvellir 9 From Struvellir to Hjalmholm 28 From Hjalmholm to Reikum 32 From Reikum to Reikjavik 45 259

During my travels in Iceland I had of course the opportunity of becoming acquainted with its inhabitants, their manners and customs. I must confess that I had formed a higher estimate of the peasants. When we read in the history of that country that the first inhabitants had emigrated thither from civilised states; that they had brought knowledge and religion with them; when we hear of the simple good-hearted people, and their patriarchal mode of life in the accounts of former travellers, and which we know that nearly every peasant in Iceland can read and write, and that at least a Bible, but generally other religions books also, are found in every cot,--one feels inclined to consider this nation the best and most civilised in Europe. I deemed their morality sufficiently secured by the absence of foreign intercourse, by their isolated position, and the poverty of the country. No large town there affords opportunity for pomp or gaiety, or for the commission of smaller or greater sins. Rarely does a foreigner enter the island, whose remoteness, severe climate, inhospitality, and poverty, are uninviting. The grandeur and peculiarity of its natural formation alone makes it interesting, and that does not suffice for the masses.

I therefore expected to find Iceland a real Arcadia in regard to its inhabitants, and rejoiced at the anticipation of seeing such an Idyllic life realised. I felt so happy when I set foot on the island that I could have embraced humanity. But I was soon undeceived.

I have often been impatient at my want of enthusiasm, which must be great, as I see every thing in a more prosaic form than other travellers. I do not maintain that my view is RIGHT, but I at least possess the virtue of describing facts as I see them, and do not repeat them from the accounts of others.

I have already described the impoliteness and heartlessness of the so-called higher classes, and soon lost the good opinion I had formed of them. I now came to the working classes in the vicinity of Reikjavik. The saying often applied to the Swiss people, "No money, no Swiss," one may also apply to the Icelanders. And of this fact I can cite several examples.



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