reading. But she continued to read perseveringly and untiringly,

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So behold me now in the only town in Iceland, { 27} the seat of the so-called cultivated classes, whose customs and mode of life I will now lay before my honoured readers.

reading. But she continued to read perseveringly and untiringly,

Nothing was more disagreeable to me than a certain air of dignity assumed by the ladies here; an air which, except when it is natural, or has become so from long habit, is apt to degenerate into stiffness and incivility. On meeting an acquaintance, the ladies of Reikjavik would bend their heads with so stately and yet so careless an air as we should scarcely assume towards the humblest stranger. At the conclusion of a visit, the lady of the house only accompanies the guest as far as the chamber-door. If the husband be present, this civility is carried a little further; but when this does not happen to be the case, a stranger who does not know exactly through which door he can make his exit, may chance to feel not a little embarrassed. Excepting in the house of the "Stiftsamtmann" (the principal official on the island), one does not find a footman who can shew the way. In Hamburgh I had already noticed the beginnings of this dignified coldness; it increased as I journeyed further north, and at length reached its climax in Iceland.

reading. But she continued to read perseveringly and untiringly,

Good letters of recommendation often fail to render the northern grandees polite towards strangers. As an instance of this fact, I relate the following trait:

reading. But she continued to read perseveringly and untiringly,

Among other kind letters of recommendation, I had received one addressed to Herr von H-, the "Stiftsamtmann" of Iceland. On my arrival at Copenhagen, I heard that Herr von H- happened to be there. I therefore betook myself to his residence, and was shewn into a room where I found two young ladies and three children. I delivered my letter, and remained quietly standing for some time. Finding at length that no one invited me to be seated, I sat down unasked on the nearest chair, never supposing for an instant that the lady of the house could be present, and neglect the commonest forms of politeness which should be observed towards every stranger. After I had waited for some time, Herr von H- graciously made his appearance, and expressed his regret that he should have very little time to spare for me, as he intended setting sail for Iceland with his family in a short time, and in the interim had a number of weighty affairs to settle at Copenhagen; in conclusion, he gave me the friendly advice to abandon my intention of visiting Iceland, as the fatigues of travelling in that country were very great; finding, however, that I persevered in my intention, he promised, in case I set sail for Reikjavik earlier than himself, to give me a letter of recommendation. All this was concluded in great haste, and we stood during the interview. I took my leave, and at first determined not to call again for the letter. On reflection, however, I changed my mind, ascribed my unfriendly reception to important and perhaps disagreeable business, and called again two days afterwards. Then the letter was handed to me by a servant; the high people, whom I could hear conversing in the adjoining apartment, probably considered it too much trouble to deliver it to me personally.

On paying my respects to this amiable family in Reikjavik, I was not a little surprised to recognise in Frau von H- one of those ladies who in Copenhagen had not had the civility to ask me to be seated. Five or six days afterwards, Herr von H- returned my call, and invited me to an excursion to Vatne. I accepted the invitation with much pleasure, and mentally asked pardon of him for having formed too hasty an opinion. Frau von H-, however, did not find her way to me until the fourth week of my stay in Reikjavik; she did not even invite me to visit her again, so of course I did not go, and our acquaintance terminated there. As in duty bound, the remaining dignitaries of this little town took their tone from their chief. My visits were unreturned, and I received no invitations, though I heard much during my stay of parties of pleasure, dinners, and evening parties. Had I not fortunately been able to employ myself, I should have been very badly off. Not one of the ladies had kindness and delicacy enough to consider that I was alone here, and that the society of educated people might be necessary for my comfort. I was less annoyed at the want of politeness in the gentlemen; for I am no longer young, and that accounts for every thing. When the women were wanting in kindliness, I had no right to expect consideration from the gentlemen.

I tried to discover the reason of this treatment, and soon found that it lay in a national characteristic of these people--their selfishness.

It appears I had scarcely arrived at Reikjavik before diligent inquiries were set on foot as to whether I was RICH, and should see much company at my house, and, in fact, whether much could be got out of me.

To be well received here it is necessary either to be rich, or else to travel as a naturalist. Persons of the latter class are generally sent by the European courts to investigate the remarkable productions of the country. They make large collections of minerals, birds, &c.; they bring with them numerous presents, sometimes of considerable value, which they distribute among the dignitaries; they are, moreover, the projectors of many an entertainment, and even of many a little ball, &c.; they buy up every thing they can procure for their cabinets, and they always travel in company; they have much baggage with them, and consequently require many horses, which cannot be hired in Iceland, but must be bought. On such occasions every one here is a dealer: offers of horses and cabinets pour in on all sides.



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