people grew up as a new-made aristocracy, with a knowledge

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.

people grew up as a new-made aristocracy, with a knowledge

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

people grew up as a new-made aristocracy, with a knowledge

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.

people grew up as a new-made aristocracy, with a knowledge

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.

Scarcely had they heard that I, a foreigner, had arrived, than they frequently came to me, and brought quite common objects, such as can be found any where in Iceland, and expected me to pay dearly for them. At first I purchased from charity, or to be rid of their importunities, and threw the things away again; but I was soon obliged to give this up, as I should else have been besieged from morning to night. Their anxiety to gain money without labour annoyed me less than the extortionate prices with which they tried to impose on a stranger. For a beetle, such as could be found under every stone, they asked 5 kr. (about 2d.); as much for a caterpillar, of which thousands were lying on the beach; and for a common bird's egg, 10 to 20 kr. (4d. to 8d.) Of course, when I declined buying, they reduced their demand, sometimes to less than half the original sum; but this was certainly not in consequence of their honesty. The baker in whose house I lodged also experienced the selfishness of these people. He had engaged a poor labourer to tar his house, who, when he had half finished his task, heard of other employment. He did not even take the trouble to ask the baker to excuse him for a few days; he went away, and did not return to finish the interrupted work for a whole week. This conduct was the more inexcusable as his children received bread, and even butter, twice a week from the baker.

I was fortunate enough to experience similar treatment. Herr Knudson had engaged a guide for me, with whom I was to take my departure in a few days. But it happened that the magistrate wished also to take a trip, and sent for my guide. The latter expected to be better paid by him, and went; he did not come to me to discharge himself, but merely sent me word on the eve of my departure, that he was ill, and could therefore not go with me. I could enumerate many more such examples, which do not much tend to give a high estimate of Icelandic morality.



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