its grand pianos, its silks and its perfumery. Their two

Nature Difficult to Move Networkfood2023-11-30 19:47:33 8 33

The work of the women consists in the preparation of the fish for drying, smoking, or salting; in tending the cattle, in knitting, sometimes in gathering moss. In winter both men and women knit and weave.

its grand pianos, its silks and its perfumery. Their two

As regards the hospitality of the Icelanders, { 45} I do not think one can give them so very much credit for it. It is true that priests and peasants gladly receive any European traveller, and treat him to every thing in their power; but they know well that the traveller who comes to their island is neither an adventurer nor a beggar, and will therefore pay them well. I did not meet one peasant or priest who did not accept the proffered gift without hesitation. But I must say of the priests that they were every where obliging and ready to serve me, and satisfied with the smallest gift; and their charges, when I required horses for my excursions, were always moderate. I only found the peasant less interested in districts where a traveller scarcely ever appeared; but in such places as were more visited, their charges were often exorbitant. For example, I had to pay 20 to 30 kr. (8d. to 1s.) for being ferried over a river; and then my guide and I only were rowed in the boat, and the horses had to swim. The guide who accompanied me on the Hecla also overcharged me; but he knew that I was forced to take him, as there is no choice of guides, and one does not give up the ascent for the sake of a little money.

its grand pianos, its silks and its perfumery. Their two

This conduct shows that the character of the Icelanders does not belong to the best; and that they take advantage of travellers with as much shrewdness as the landlords and guides on the continent.

its grand pianos, its silks and its perfumery. Their two

A besetting sin of the Icelanders is their drunkenness. Their poverty would probably not be so great if they were less devoted to brandy, and worked more industriously. It is dreadful to see what deep root this vice has taken. Not only on Sundays, but also on week-days, I met peasants who were so intoxicated that I was surprised how they could keep in their saddle. I am, however, happy to say that I never saw a woman in this degrading condition.

Another of their passions is snuff. They chew and snuff tobacco with the same infatuation as it is smoked in other countries. But their mode of taking it is very peculiar. Most of the peasants, and even many of the priests, have no proper snuff-box, but only a box turned of bone, shaped like a powder-flask. When they take snuff, they throw back their head, insert the point of the flask in their nose, and shake a dose of tobacco into it. They then, with the greatest amiability, offer it to their neighbour, he to his, and so it goes round till it reaches the owner again.

I think, indeed, that the Icelanders are second to no nation in uncleanliness; not even to the Greenlanders, Esquimaux, or Laplanders. If I were to describe a portion only of what I experienced, my readers would think me guilty of gross exaggeration; I prefer, therefore, to leave it to their imagination; merely saying that they cannot conceive any thing too dirty for Iceland delicacy.

Beside this very estimable quality, they are also insuperably lazy. Not far from the coast are immense meadows, so marshy that it is dangerous to cross them. The fault lies less in the soil than the people. If they would only make ditches, and thus dry the ground, they would have the most splendid grass. That this would grow abundantly is proved by the little elevations which rise from above the marshes, and which are thickly covered with grass, herbage, and wild clover. I also passed large districts covered with good soil, and some where the soil was mixed with sand.

I frequently debated with Herr Boge, who has lived in Iceland for forty years, and is well versed in farming matters, whether it would not be possible to produce important pasture-grounds and hay-fields with industry and perseverance. He agreed with me, and thought that even potato-fields might be reclaimed, if only the people were not so lazy, preferring to suffer hunger and resign all the comforts of cleanliness rather than to work. What nature voluntarily gives, they are satisfied with, and it never occurs to them to force more from her. If a few German peasants were transported hither, what a different appearance the country would soon have!



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