roubles for the four summer months, and their board. The

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Close beside the entrance to the church is the mound beneath which rest the bones of Snorri Sturluson, the celebrated poet; { 39} over this grave stands a small runic stone of the length of the mound itself. This stone is said to have once been completely covered with runic characters; but all trace of these has been swept away by the storms of five hundred winters, against which the tomb had no protecting coffin. The stone, too, is split throughout its entire length into two pieces. The mound above the grave is often renewed, so that the beholder could often fancy he saw a new-made grave. I picked all the buttercups I could find growing on the grave, and preserved them carefully in a book. Perhaps I may be able to give pleasure to several of my countrywomen by offering them a floweret from the grave of the greatest of Icelandic poets.

roubles for the four summer months, and their board. The

In order to pursue my journey without interruption, I hired fresh horses, and allowed my own, which were rather fatigued, to accompany us unloaded. My object in this further excursion was to visit the very remarkable cavern of Surthellir, distant a good thirty-three miles from this place. The clergyman was again kind enough to make the necessary arrangements for me, and even to act as my Mentor on the journey.

roubles for the four summer months, and their board. The

Though we were only three strong, we departed with a retinue of seven horses, and for nearly ten miles rode back the same way by which I had come from Reikholt on the preceding morning; then we turned off to the left, and crossing hills and acclivities, reached other valleys, which were partly traversed by beautiful streams of lava, and partly interspersed with forests--FORESTS, as I have already said, according to Icelandic notions. The separate stems were certainly slightly higher than those in the valley of Thingvalla.

roubles for the four summer months, and their board. The

At Kalmannstunga we left the spare horses, and took with us a man to serve as guide in the cavern, from which we were now still some seven miles distant. The great valley in which this cavern lies is reckoned among the most remarkable in Iceland. It is a most perfect picture of volcanic devastation. The most beautiful masses of lava, in the most varied and picturesque forms, occupy the whole immeasurable valley. Lava is to be seen there in a rough glassy state, forming exquisite flames and arabesques; and in immense slabs, lying sometimes scattered, sometimes piled in strata one above the other, as though they had been cast there by a flood. Among these, again, lie mighty isolated streams, which must have been frozen in the midst of their course. From the different colours of the lava, and their transitions from light grey to black, we can judge of the eruptions which have taken place at different periods. The mountains surrounding this valley are mostly of a sombre hue; some are even black, forming a striking contrast to the neighbouring jokuls, which, in their large expanse, present the appearance almost of a sea of ice. I found one of these jokuls of a remarkable size; its shining expanse extended far down into the valley, and its upper surface was almost immeasurable.

The other mountains were all smooth, as though polished by art; in the foreground I only noticed one which was covered with wonderful forms of dried lava. A deathlike silence weighed on the whole country round, on hill and on valley alike. Every thing seemed dead, all round was barren and desert, so that the effect was truly Icelandic. The greater portion of Iceland might be with justice designated the "Northern Desert."

The cavern of Surthellir lies on a slightly elevated extended plain, where it would certainly not be sought for, as we are accustomed to see natural phenomena of this description only in the bowels of rocks. It is, therefore, with no little surprise that the traveller sees suddenly opening before him a large round basin about fifteen fathoms in diameter, and four in depth. It was with a feeling of awe that I looked downwards on the countless blocks of rock piled one upon the other, extending on one side to the edge of the hollow, across which the road led to the dark ravines farther on.

We were compered to scramble forward on our hands and knees, until we reached a long broad passage, which led us at first imperceptibly downwards, and then ran underneath the plain, which formed a rocky cavern above our heads. I estimated the different heights of this roof at not less than from eighteen to sixty feet; but it seldom reached a greater elevation than the latter. Both roof and walls are in some places very pointed and rough: a circumstance to be ascribed to the stalactites which adhere to them, without, however, forming figures or long sharp points.

From this principal path several smaller ones lead far into the interior of this stony region; but they do not communicate with each other, and one is compelled to return from each side-path into the main road. Some of these by-paths are short, narrow, and low; others, on the contrary, are long, broad, and lofty.



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