was swept by the snow drifting from all the corners of

Nature Difficult to Move Networkhot2023-11-30 19:56:02 723 43842

Throughout my subsequent journeys into the interior, I found the cottages of the peasants every where alike squalid and filthy. Of course I speak of the majority, and not of the exceptions; for here I found a few rich peasants, whose dwellings looked cleaner and more habitable, in proportion to the superior wealth or sense of decency of the owners. My idea is, that the traveller's estimate of a country should be formed according to the habits and customs of the generality of its inhabitants, and not according to the doings of a few individuals, as is often the case. Alas, how seldom did I meet with these creditable exceptions!

was swept by the snow drifting from all the corners of

The neighbourhood of Havenfiord is formed by a most beautiful and picturesque field of lava, at first rising in hills, then sinking into hollows, and at length terminating in a great plain which extends to the base of the neighbouring mountains. Masses of the most varied forms, often black and naked, rise to the height of ten or fifteen feet, forming walls, ruined pillars, small grottoes, and hollow spaces. Over these latter large slabs often extend, and form bridges. Every thing around consists of suddenly cooled heaped-up masses of lava, in some instances covered to their summits with grass and moss; this circumstance gives them, as already stated, the appearance of groups of stunted trees. Horses, sheep, and cows were clambering about, diligently seeking out every green place. I also clambered about diligently; I could not tire of gazing and wondering at this terribly beautiful picture of destruction.

was swept by the snow drifting from all the corners of

After a few hours I had so completely forgotten the hardships of my passage, and felt myself so much strengthened, that I began my journey to Reikjavik at five o'clock on the evening of the same day. Herr Knudson seemed much concerned for me; he warned me that the roads were bad, and particularly emphasised the dangerous abysses I should be compelled to pass. I comforted him with the assurance that I was a good horsewoman, and could hardly have to encounter worse roads than those with which I had had the honour to become acquainted in Syria. I therefore took leave of the kind gentleman, who intended to stay a week or ten days in Havenfiord, and mounting a small horse, set out in company of a female guide.

was swept by the snow drifting from all the corners of

In my guide I made the acquaintance of a remarkable antiquity of Iceland, who is well worthy that I should devote a few words to her description. She is above seventy years of age, but looks scarcely fifty; her head is surrounded by tresses of rich fair hair. She is dressed like a man; undertakes, in the capacity of messenger, the longest and most fatiguing journeys; rows a boat as skilfully as the most practised fisherman; and fulfils all her missions quicker and more exactly than a man, for she does not keep up so good an understanding with the brandy-bottle. She marched on so sturdily before me, that I was obliged to incite my little horse to greater speed with my riding-whip.

At first the road lay between masses of lava, where it certainly was not easy to ride; then over flats and small acclivities, from whence we could descry the immense plain in which are situated Havenfiord, Bassastadt, Reikjavik, and other places. Bassastadt, a town built on a promontory jutting out into the sea, contains one of the principal schools, a church built of masonry, and a few cottages. The town of Reikjavik cannot be seen, as it is hidden behind a hill. The other places consist chiefly of a few cottages, and only meet the eye of the traveller when he approaches them nearly. Several chains of mountains, towering one above the other, and sundry "Jokuls," or glaciers, which lay still sparkling in their wintry garb, surround this interminable plain, which is only open at one end, towards the sea. Some of the plains and hills shone with tender green, and I fancied I beheld beautiful meadows. On a nearer inspection, however, they proved to be swampy places, and hundreds upon hundreds of little acclivities, sometimes resembling mole- hills, at others small graves, and covered with grass and moss.

I could see over an area of at least thirty or forty miles, and yet could not descry a tree or a shrub, a bit of meadow-land or a friendly village. Every thing seemed dead. A few cottages lay scattered here and there; at long intervals a bird would hover in the air, and still more seldom I heard the kindly greeting of a passing inhabitant. Heaps of lava, swamps, and turf-bogs surrounded me on all sides; in all the vast expanse not a spot was to be seen through which a plough could be driven.

After riding more than four miles, I reached a hill, from which I could see Reikjavik, the chief harbour, and, in fact, the only town on the island. But I was deceived in my expectations; the place before me was a mere village.

The distance from Havenfiord to Reikjavik is scarcely nine miles; but as I was unwilling to tire my good old guide, I took three hours to accomplish it. The road was, generally speaking, very good, excepting in some places, where it lay over heaps of lava. Of the much-dreaded dizzy abysses I saw nothing; the startling term must have been used to designate some unimportant declivities, along the brow of which I rode, in sight of the sea; or perhaps the "abysses" were on the lava-fields, where I sometimes noticed small chasms of fifteen or sixteen feet in depth at the most.



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