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and 1862 much trouble to their teeth; for the Journals before us contain bitter complaints against the toughness of the beefsteaks and mutton of the Icelandic metropolis, even when seasoned with that best of all sauces, a tremendous appetite, acquired on a long tour in the interior of Iceland. On one point all travellers agree, and that is on the wholesomeness of the Icelandic climate and the purity of the air, which are alone a cure for half the diseases, imaginary or otherwise, brought into the island by dyspeptic or dissipated tourists.
Thus established at Reykjavik, Captain Burton resolved to stay awhile and look about him. A veteran traveller, he wished to exercise his powers of observation and survey the main features of society and life in Iceland—to see, in fact, how the land lay, and not to rush blindly into the country, as is the fashion of the British tourist, in which fashion, it need hardly be said, lies the whole difference between a traveller and a tourist. During this period he was hospitably treated by the governor and the authorities. He visited the cathedral and the high school, made friends with Dr. Hjaltalin, the state physician, a man of whom all travellers for the last twenty years retain the pleasantest recollections, and who is always ready to impart information to strangers. In the capital, at least, Captain Burton observed an amount of intemperance which we are assured is the fact, in spite of the objections that have been made by various persons to his published statements on this point. In these volumes he returns to the charge, and declares that 'an eminent Icelander openly asserted that he • had dived into the gin-palaces of London and Edinburgh, yet " that he had seen more drunkenness in a day at Reykjavik than
during his whole visit to Great Britain.' This, no doubt, is an exaggeration, but we fear the fact remains that Iceland, and certainly its capital, is becoming, like some other countries which we could name, more and more demoralised by drink, and that by drink of a detestable quality. In 1861 and 1862, the Journals before us speak neither in the capital nor in the country of such intemperance as is recorded by Captain Burton. The conclusion, therefore, remains that in this respect the island has deteriorated during the last fifteen years.
While Captain Burton was making his observations on men and manners, his companions one by one quitted the capital for the interior of the island. They were the first batch of tourists for the year, and their arrival naturally excited great animation among the listless community. So the rest furbished up the little stock of Latin which each possessed, merely to find, when they fell on any native who knew that tongue, that our
absurd English pronunciation was a great gulf between them. Even Danish goes a very little way in the heart of Iceland. The only satisfactory means of intercourse is the mother tongue—the language of the Sagas; but of this how few travellers, not to mention tourists, have the slightest knowledge. The accounts, therefore, of travellers who are ignorant of the language and history of the island must always be taken, not with one, but many grains of salt. The Icelander-proud and reserved by nature to a measure to which even our English standard falls short-is reticent and sensitive in the presence of those who do not understand him. This Captain Burton found to his cost, and other travellers have fared worse in this respect. But it is wonderful, from the evidence of the Journals before us, to mark how the ordinary Icelander, the mere rank and file of the country, warms up at once when he finds he is guiding a foreigner who, in addition to some knowledge of the language, knows the history of the island, and as he passes from firth to firth, and from dale to dale, is able to inquire, 'Is not
this the scene of such and such a saga ? and was it not on 'yonder rock that Grettir the Strong made his asylum and
defied his foes ? or on that isle in the Whale firth that a whole 'band of outlaws for years were a terror to their neighbours, the
chiefs and yeomen on the mainland ? ' In a word, travelling in Iceland is like travelling everywhere else. It is the old story of eyes and no eyes.' That traveller sees most of a country and its people who knows most of its manners, customs, and history. Some of Captain Burton's companions were of the common sight-seeing class. It does not appear whether the cockney, who was such a nuisance on the voyage, was one of them. The steamer stayed five days, and in that space they rushed to the Thingvalla and the Geysers and back, bringing in their horses with sore backs, and themselves not without like marks of travel on their persons. In like manner, the party of 1862 encountered a Scottish baillie who drank ten tumblers of toddy a night, who dragged several gallons of spirit to the Geysirs in order to turn it when it gushed out into a gigantic bowl of whiskey punch, and whom they met, having failed in this object, returning slowly to Reykjavik, riding gingerly in his saddle, as he said on account of 'excoriations, as he called them. These are the mere birds of passage; like the hours on a sundial, pereunt et imputantur. From them we pass on to another class, the sporting—those who go out to Iceland to fish and shoot. We are surprised, after perusing the Journals of 1861 and 1862, corroborated as they are by the experiences of Mr. Shepherd, a very accomplished naturalist, to
find Captain Burton complaining of the great want of bird-life, and especially of game-life, in Iceland. His friends, · Capt.
I. and D. S., of the Indian Army, allowed themselves six weeks for a sporting tour, which was a dead failure.' This, perhaps, was because 1872 was a late year, and they started too soon. They had bad guides, it seems, too, and went into a poor part of the island for shooting, though they had good fishing. But, as we have said, the difference between the feathered wealth of Iceland fifteen years ago, and the total absence of game described by Captain Burton in 1872, is quite inexplicable. He attributes the scarcity to the increase of population; but even supposing that the inhabitants have risen from 65,000 to 70,000 in that period, is it at all likely that this increase would materially affect the quantity of game in an island considerably bigger than Ireland, and which, moreover, abounds in heaths and corries and lakes and rivers, as well as in vast solitudes, which would seem especially designed for the abode and breeding-place of land and sea birds ? Captain Burton's sporting friends were, as we have seen, in all probability, too soon for their game; the birds were sitting, so there was no shooting; but Burton himself remained in Iceland till September 1st, by which time the ptarmigan would have had their second broods. This matter, then, we leave as one of those things which ‘no fellow can
understand. Other travellers have found the country teeming with game, Captain Burton alone bears witness to the utter failure of sport.
While his companions one after the other left the capital, trusting themselves for the most part to the mercies of Zoega the guide, Burton lingered in the capital, and plumed his wings for further flights by little excursions in the neighbourhood. Thus he crossed over the Firth, and scaled Esja, the anvil, from which he enjoyed one of the finest views in Iceland. Then he crossed the Skarðsheiði, and visited the site of the ancient heathen temple of Kjarlarnes, in both of which he had a foretaste of the miseries of Icelandic guides and hired horses. Contrary to the experience of travellers fifteen years ago, he is against buying horses, and prefers to hire them for about a dollar a day; the objection to this arrangement is that hired horses are often sorry jades, as Burton found his, and hardly to be relied on for such hard work as riding to the North by way of Sprengisand or · Choke-Jade,' where bad horses might prove the ruin of the expedition. But these were but excursions. His fixed purpose was to explore the Vatna Jokull, in spite of the dissuading voices of the whole world at Reykjavik, which
assured him that his expedition must prove a failure. On June 26th—he reached Iceland on the 8th—the · Ión Sigurds
son' steamer ran into the harbour. She was to visit Hamnefjord, close by, and then to call at the fishing ports on the west and north of the island. Here was too good an opportunity to be lost, and on board of her Burton embarked. On the way to Hamnefjord they passed Bessastad, once owned by Snorre Sturlason, whom Burton calls the Herodotus of the North. In aftertimes the house—one of the few stone houses in the island —was turned into the Latin School, which has since been transferred to Reykjavik. It is now the property of Grimur Thomsen, a thorough Icelander, who, having retired from the Danish Civil Service, now lives in the abode of his ancestors, and stands up obstinately for Iceland against the ignorance and impertinence of cockney tourists. It is said that Hamnefjorð ought to be the capital of Iceland, like so many of us who ought to be something that we are not; but Reykjavik has ousted the sister harbour, in spite of her more favourable position, and she must grin and bear it. Should the dreams of a great sulphur production from the mines of Krisuvik ever become realities, a good time will return to Hamnefjord, for it will become the place of export of that mineral.
On the 28th, under Italian skies—for the rain of June had now passed off into real summer weather-Burton was again at Reykjavik, steaming out of the harbour, across the Faxafirth, on his way to the North. And here, for the good of those who have suffered from extortionate stewards in other parts of the world, let us mention that this nine days' trip to the North was, to use Burton's words, the cheapest
known to me.' Nine dollars, or ll. each way for fare, and 41. for living; "a total of 13s. a day, including stewards’ ' fees, and excellent Norwegian ale and Geneva ad libitum.' The meals were ample, the food and 'cooking excellent, and * plate and linen equally spotless. From this it is evident that there are worse places than Iceland for comfort on board ship, and many of our readers, with Burton, will re-echo Thackeray's hope that Great Britain, who is supposed to rule the waves,
will some day devote a little more attention to her cuisine.' But it was not for creature comforts alone that Burton embarked on board the Ión Sigurdsson.' It was to see something more of Iceland, and he saw it, though from a distance. As they opened the bight of the Faxafirth, they descried the Myra Sysla, or great bog district of the Borgarfirth, and might have beheld Borg, the abode of the famous Egil, son of Baldgrim, the enemy of Norwegian kings and the
Flere are worseur readers in, who
friend of the great Athelstane of England. Captain Burton sees with his eyes as well as most travellers, but he is quite right in saying that they strained their eyes in vain to catch a sight of Baula, the great trachyte hill, which rises in a great grey mass 3,500 feet above the surrounding country. They might have seen Eldborg the · Fireburg,' that strange limpetshape crater, which rises like a bubble out of the lava-stream, which in prehistoric times flowed fiercely down Hitardale. Then, as they near Snæfells Jokull, at the end of the long peninsula which forms the western arm of the Faxafirth, they sight the Budarklettir, a range of hills which forms the ridge of the peninsula, and remind the traveller, in their jagged bristling crests, of the hills near Loch Coruisk in Skye. Close under Snæfell lies Stapi, famous for its basaltic caves and columns, which are on a grander scale than those of Staffa, only there are as yet no Hutchinson's steamers, bringing hordes of travellers to stare at them. Perhaps their day may still come. Now they were close under the great Snowmountain, on which they had so often gazed at Reykjavik, and could observe its precipices full of crevices, and its twin peaks, which one or two travellers, Sir Henry Holland among them, have thought they had scaled, but which Burton thinks are still both of them virgin to the mountaineer, recommending them to Alpine climbers as nuts hard to crack. Perhaps the day is not distant when adventurous Englishmen will scale them as easily as Whymper did the Matterhorn. Next they doubled the promontory at Öndverdarnes and were in the Broadfirth, with its wide waters and countless islands. Shortly after they ran into Olafsvik, and found hospitality in the house of Mr. Clausen, a returned Australian, who has his eyes open to auriferous • quartz reefs, to large deposits of iron, and to other minerals
in his native island. From Olafsvik they went along the shore to Stykkisholm, another trading station, where Burton made the acquaintance of Thorlacius, a veteran meteorologist well known to the writers of the Journals of 1861 and 1862; but then they were not as . barbarians to one another,' for they could converse with him in Danish and Icelandic. Need we say that Burton set out while the steamer halted to seek the offering stone of Thor's temple near Helgafell, only to be disappointed like the travellers of 1862, who sought for it in vain. It is perfectly true that stones were shown to them, as to Burton, as the veritable victim stone, but none of them answered the conditions; and so, in all probability, the stone is destined to mock future tourists, like an ignis fatuus, now here, now there, but long since perished and passed away.