mechanic lay his hand on a board, about to chop his thumb

Nature Difficult to Move Networkway2023-11-30 19:02:35 91679 57935

I made excursions to every part of Iceland, and am thus enabled to place before my readers, in regular order, the chief curiosities of this remarkable country. I will commence with the immediate neighbourhood of Reikjavik.

mechanic lay his hand on a board, about to chop his thumb

Stiftsamtmann von H- was today kind enough to pay me a visit, and to invite me to join his party for a ride to the great lake Vatne. I gladly accepted the invitation, for, according to the description given by the Stiftsamtmann, I hoped to behold a very Eden, and rejoiced at the prospect of observing the recreations of the higher classes, and at the same time gaining many acquisitions in specimens of plants, butterflies, and beetles. I resolved also to test the capabilities of the Icelandic horses more thoroughly than I had been able to do during my first ride from Havenfiord to Reikjavik, as I had been obliged on that occasion to ride at a foot-pace, on account of my old guide.

mechanic lay his hand on a board, about to chop his thumb

The hour of starting was fixed for two o'clock. Accustomed as I am to strict punctuality, I was ready long before the appointed time, and at two o'clock was about to hasten to the place of rendezvous, when my hostess informed me I had plenty of time, for Herr von H- was still at dinner. Instead of meeting at two o'clock, we did not assemble until three, and even then another quarter of an hour elapsed before the cavalcade started. Oh, Syrian notions of punctuality and dispatch! Here, almost at the very antipodes, did I once more greet ye.

mechanic lay his hand on a board, about to chop his thumb

The party consisted of the nobility and the town dignitaries. Among the former class may be reckoned Stiftsamtmann von H- and his lady; a privy councillor, Herr von B-, who had been sent from Copenhagen to attend the "Allthing" (political assembly); and a Danish baron, who had accompanied the councillor. I noticed among the town dignitaries the daughter and wife of the apothecary, and the daughters of some merchants resident here.

Our road lay through fields of lava, swamps, and very poor grassy patches, in a great valley, swelling here and there into gentle acclivities, and shut in on three sides by several rows of mountains, towering upwards in the most diversified shapes. In the far distance rose several jokuls or glaciers, seeming to look proudly down upon the mountains, as though they asked, "Why would ye draw men's eyes upon you, where we glisten in our silver sheen?" In the season of the year at which I beheld them, the glaciers were still very beautiful; not only their summits, but their entire surface, as far as visible, being covered with snow. The fourth side of the valley through which we travelled was washed by the ocean, which melted as it were into the horizon in immeasurable distance. The coast was dotted with small bays, having the appearance of so many lakes.

As the road was good, we could generally ride forward at a brisk pace. Occasionally, however, we met with small tracts on which the Icelandic horse could exercise its sagacity and address. My horse was careful and free from vice; it carried me securely over masses of stone and chasms in the rocks, but I cannot describe the suffering its trot caused me. It is said that riding is most beneficial to those who suffer from liver-complaints. This may be the case; but I should suppose that any one who rode upon an Icelandic horse, with an Icelandic side-saddle, every day for the space of four weeks, would find, at the expiration of that time, her liver shaken to a pulp, and no part of it remaining.

All the rest of the party had good English saddles, mine alone was of Icelandic origin. It consisted of a chair, with a board for the back. The rider was obliged to sit crooked upon the horse, and it was impossible to keep a firm seat. With much difficulty I trotted after the others, for my horse would not be induced to break into a gallop.

At length, after a ride of an hour and a half, we reached a valley. In the midst of a tolerably green meadow I descried what was, for Iceland, a farm of considerable dimensions, and not far from this farm was a very small lake. I did not dare to ask if this was the GREAT lake Vatne, or if this was the delicious prospect I had been promised, for my question would have been taken for irony. I could not refrain from wonder when Herr von H- began praising the landscape as exquisite, and farther declaring the effect of the lake to be bewitching. I was obliged, for politeness' sake, to acquiesce, and leave them in the supposition that I had never seen a larger lake nor a finer prospect.



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