I was reading my report at the Fourth Congress of the Communist

Nature Difficult to Move Networkmap2023-11-30 19:54:07 1462 2

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.

I was reading my report at the Fourth Congress of the Communist

Every peasant keeps horses. The mode of feeding them is, as already shewn, very simple; the distances are long, the roads bad, and large rivers, moorlands, and swamps must frequently be passed; so every one rides, both men, women, and children. The use of carriages is as totally unknown throughout the island as in Syria.

I was reading my report at the Fourth Congress of the Communist

The immediate vicinity of Reikjavik is pretty enough. Some of the townspeople go to much trouble and expense in sometimes collecting and sometimes breaking the stones around their dwellings. With the little ground thus obtained they mix turf, ashes, and manure, until at length a soil is formed on which something will grow. But this is such a gigantic undertaking, that the little culture bestowed on the spots wholly neglected by nature cannot be wondered at. Herr Bernhoft shewed me a small meadow which he had leased for thirty years, at an annual rent of thirty kreutzers. In order, however, to transform the land he bought into a meadow, which yields winter fodder for only one cow, it was necessary to expend more than 150 florins, besides much personal labour and pains. The rate of wages for peasants is very high when compared with the limited wants of these people: they receive thirty or forty kreutzers per diem, and during the hay-harvest as much as a florin.

I was reading my report at the Fourth Congress of the Communist

For a long distance round the town the ground consists of stones, turf, and swamps. The latter are mostly covered with hundreds upon hundreds of great and small mounds of firm ground. By jumping from one of these mounds to the next, the entire swamp may be crossed, not only without danger, but dry-footed.

In spite of all this, one of these swamps put me in a position of much difficulty and embarrassment during one of my solitary excursions. I was sauntering quietly along, when suddenly a little butterfly fluttered past me. It was the first I had seen in this country, and my eagerness to catch it was proportionately great. I hastened after it; thought neither of swamp nor of danger, and in the heat of the chase did not observe that the mounds became every moment fewer and farther between. Soon I found myself in the middle of the swamp, and could neither advance nor retreat. Not a human being could I descry; the very animals were far from me; and this circumstance confirmed me as to the dangerous nature of the ground. Nothing remained for me but to fix my eyes upon one point of the landscape, and to step out boldly towards it. I was often obliged to hazard two or three steps into the swamp itself, in order to gain the next acclivity, upon which I would then stand triumphantly, to determine my farther progress. So long as I could distinguish traces of horses' hoofs, I had no fear; but even these soon disappeared, and I stood there alone in the morass. I could not remain for ever on my tower of observation, and had no resource but to take to the swamp once more. I must confess that I experienced a very uncomfortable feeling of apprehension when my foot sank suddenly into the soft mud; but when I found that it did not rise higher than the ankles, my courage returned; I stepped out boldly, and was fortunate enough to escape with the fright and a thorough wetting.

The most arduous posts in the country are those of the medical men and clergymen. Their sphere of action is very enlarged, particularly that of the medical man, whose practice sometimes extends over a distance of eighty to a hundred miles. When we add to this the severity of the winter, which lasts for seven or eight months, it seems marvellous that any one can be found to fill such a situation.

In winter the peasants often come with shovels, pickaxes, and horses to fetch the doctor. They then go before him, and hastily repair the worst part of the road; while the doctor rides sometimes on one horse, sometimes on another, that they may not sink under the fatigue. And thus the procession travels for many, many miles, through night and fog, through storm and snow, for on the doctor's promptitude life and death often hang. When he then returns, quite benumbed, and half dead with cold, to the bosom of his family, in the expectation of rest and refreshment, and to rejoice with his friends over the dangers and hardships he has escaped, the poor doctor is frequently compelled to set off at once on a new and important journey, before he has even had time to greet the dear ones at home.

Sometimes he is sent for by sea, where the danger is still greater on the storm-tost element.



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