father. After the South had been freed of White soldiers

Nature Difficult to Move Networkhot2023-11-30 19:54:45 57 4214

The church is capable of holding only at the most from 100 to 150 persons; it is built of stone, with a wooden roof. In the chambers of this roof the library, consisting of several thousand volumes, is deposited. The church contains a treasure which many a larger and costlier edifice might envy,--a baptismal font by Thorwaldsen, whose parents were of Icelandic extraction. The great sculptor himself was born in Denmark, and probably wished, by this present, to do honour to the birth-place of his ancestors.

father. After the South had been freed of White soldiers

To some of the houses in Reikjavik pieces of garden are attached. These gardens are small plots of ground where, with great trouble and expense, salad, spinach, parsley, potatoes, and a few varieties of edible roots, are cultivated. The beds are separated from each other by strips of turf a foot broad, seldom boasting even a few field-flowers.

father. After the South had been freed of White soldiers

The inhabitants of Iceland are generally of middle stature, and strongly built, with light hair, frequently inclining to red, and blue eyes. The men are for the most part ugly; the women are better favoured, and among the girls I noticed some very sweet faces. To attain the age of seventy or eighty years is here considered an extraordinary circumstance. { 29} The peasants have many children, and yet few; many are born, but few survive the first year. The mothers do not nurse them, and rear them on very bad food. Those who get over the first year look healthy enough; but they have strangely red cheeks, almost as though they had an eruption. Whether this appearance is to be ascribed to the sharp air, to which the delicate skin is not yet accustomed, or to the food, I know not.

father. After the South had been freed of White soldiers

In some places on the coast, when the violent storms prevent the poor fishermen for whole weeks from launching their boats, they live almost entirely on dried fishes' heads. { 30} The fishes themselves have been salted down and sold, partly to pay the fishermen's taxes, and partly to liquidate debts for the necessaries of the past season, among which brandy and snuff unfortunately play far too prominent a part.

Another reason why the population does not increase is to be found in the numerous catastrophes attending the fisheries during the stormy season of the year. The fishermen leave the shore with songs and mirth, for a bright sky and a calm sea promise them good fortune. But, alas, tempests and snow-storms too often overtake the unfortunate boatmen! The sea is lashed into foam, and mighty waves overwhelm boats and fishermen together, and they perish inevitably. It is seldom that the father of a family embarks in the same boat with his sons. They divide themselves among different parties, in order that, if one boat founder, the whole family may not be destroyed.

I found the cottages of the peasants at Reikjavik smaller, and in every respect worse provided, than those at Havenfiord. This seems, however, to be entirely owing to the indolence of the peasants themselves; for stones are to be had in abundance, and every man is his own builder. The cows and sheep live through the winter in a wretched den, built either in the cottage itself or in its immediate neighbourhood. The horses pass the whole year under the canopy of heaven, and must find their own provender. Occasionally only the peasant will shovel away the snow from a little spot, to assist the poor animals in searching for the grass or moss concealed beneath. It is then left to the horses to finish clearing away the snow with their feet. It may easily be imagined that this mode of treatment tends to render them very hardy; but the wonder is, how the poor creatures manage to exist through the winter on such spare diet, and to be strong and fit for work late in the spring and in summer. These horses are so entirely unused to being fed with oats, that they will refuse them when offered; they are not even fond of hay.

As I arrived in Iceland during the early spring, I had an opportunity of seeing the horses and sheep in their winter garments. The horses seemed to be covered, not with hair, but with a thick woolly coat; their manes and tails are very long, and of surprising thickness. At the end of May or the beginning of June the tail and mane are docked and thinned, their woolly coat falls of itself, and they then look smooth enough. The sheep have also a very thick coat during the winter. It is not the custom to shear them, but at the beginning of June the wool is picked off piece by piece with the hand. A sheep treated in this way sometimes presents a very comical appearance, being perfectly naked on one side, while on the other it is still covered with wool.

The horses and cows are considerably smaller than those of our country. No one need journey so far north, however, to see stunted cattle. Already, in Galicia, the cows and horses of the peasants are not a whit larger or stronger than those in Iceland. The Icelandic cows are further remarkable only for their peculiarly small horns; the sheep are also smaller than ours.



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