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good ground, till on crossing the Hawk river, under Goatfell,
that inspissated gloom' the moon and the stars seemed to count for nothing, and the silence and solitude so weighed him down that even the nasal music' within the hut ‘was a positive ' relief.'
On the morning of the 19th a vile sea-fog, much to the Skulk's delight, crept up the valley of the Jokull river, and wrapped the heights in the dreaded Thoka' or mist, which so scares the Icelanders. Not so black but quite as dense as a London fog, it is impossible to stir while it lasts, especially over such ground as that on which our party now stood. This day Burton, as we gather, had intended to spend in making a dash at Kverk, and from that giant height to prospect the Great Desert and its peaks. Tied by the fog he could only console himself with reflecting
* Est quidquam prodire tenus si non datur ultra.' Icelandic exploration is chancy as Central African,' he remarks, and the traveller must expect to be the sport of cir'cumstances far beyond his control, unless, at least, he can
afford unlimited time. The next day was also foggy. Waiting till a quarter-to-nine, and finding that all their food, owing, no doubt, to Gísli's insatiable appetite, was thoroughly exhausted, the word was given for a retreat. The return to Valtheofstad was easily accomplished, and Burton took a friendly leave of the parson and his family, who had shown him great kindness. When he left the priest put into his hands an appeal, to which, on the whole, Burton, in spite of his denunciation of what he calls the humbugs of Iceland, has responded. On a slip of paper was written--"Opto ubi de • Islandiâ locutus estis bene rem referere. Nothing particular happened on his return to Berufirth, except that when he reached the parsonage at the head of the firth on the afternoon of August 21st, the ponies were too fagged to go on the last twelve miles. Burton therefore chartered a boat, in which he reached the house of his friends at Djúpivógr after six
hours of mortal weariness, landing, too, with his feet dead from sitting so long in cold water. Sundry glasses of red-hot toddy, administered medicinally, soon restored him, and he turned into bed well satisfied with having ridden in two • days from under the very shadow of the Vatna Jokull
to the eastern coast.' At Djúpivogr he payed off his guides, not without some passages with Gísli, who swore on his return that he had been engaged for nearly twice as much as had been agreed on. Altogether the amount of the expedition was forty-nine dollars, which at 2s. 2d. each do not represent a very formidable sum. There was a little nervousness, too, as to his return, as this was the last voyage of the steamship • Diana,' and she failed to appear to the day ! She came at last, however, and on the 26th Burton reached Reykjavik. On September 1st our traveller proceeded to England on board the “Ión Sigurdsson,' and as he steamed past the eastern coast took a farewell view of the 'pale gold * and glittering silver of the Oræfa Jokull,' which forms the eastern or seaface of the Vatna and Klofa Jokulls. Lingering for a while in the Faroes, Shetland, and Orkney, concerning which many interesting particulars are to be found in his book, Captain Burton reached Granton on September 15th, and thus completed his first expedition to Iceland.
During the present year he has revisited the island, which in spite of its hardships exercises a strange attraction on all travellers. On this occasion, too, his motives were mixed; he returned to Iceland, partly in the sulphur and mineral interest, and partly to report on the extent of the damage done in the Mývatn district by the volcanic eruptions of the two last years. We believe that he found that damage very much exaggerated, as indeed might be judged by the desolate nature of the region in which those eruptions took place. His mineral prospecting was, as we have also learned, much more satisfactory. In addition to the sulphur industry we are now to have companies or a company for extracting silver from the palagonite tuff which we have seen is the mother rock of the island, and in one shape or the other occupies so large a portion of its surface. Should this good news be true, there will be such a rush of capital to the old island as will infallibly throw the inhabitants off their balance. Under these circumstances, if we were to offer any advice, it would be to try one thing at a time and not to lose all by grasping too much. There the sulphur undoubtedly is. Let that become a real industry, and from that basis proceed to the discovery of other mineral treasures. At present it should be remembered that even the sulphur of Iceland may be said to be literally in the air. The stores of that mineral which are now wasted in smoke and fumes have to be caught and sublimed before they will subside in virgin sulphur. No doubt the royal visit to Iceland last year, and the freedom which the Icelanders now enjoy both politically and commercially, have given a great impulse to native industry in the island. Assisted by foreign capital the fate of the islanders is in their own hands; it will be their own fault if foreigners reap the harvest which nature intended for the children of the soil.
In conclusion, we take leave of this very interesting book, the best perhaps which the author, so distinguished for the versatility of his genius, has ever written. The first volume is a magazine of materials for the history of the island, while it reminds one rather of the laborious accumulations of a German mind than of an ordinary English writer. In that volume the reader will find everything that he can require to know of Iceland. Added to which the native words, with a few rare exceptions, and those only printers' errors, are spelt and accented with a precision quite refreshing. In this respect these volumes have gained both by the delay of three years before they appeared, and by the friendly aid of two Icelanders, Mr. Hjaltalin and Mr. Gunnlögsen, who corrected the proofs as they passed through the press. We have already indicated some points on which we are compelled to differ from Captain Burton. We do not believe, in the first place, in his panacea for the relief of Iceland. He thinks that the increase of population will cause a famine unless a portion of the people emigrate to America; and yet in the next breath he discusses, and to his own satisfaction proves, the existence of mineral treasures which, if properly worked in the north and south, will afford employment for many more hands than the poor 70,000 souls who now inhabit the island could supply. If the hypothesis of these and other mineral treasures be true, the Icelanders are starving, not from an excess but from a deficiency of labour. Not in emigration, but in capital, do we see the relief of Iceland. The country is too poor to make roads and build bridges which would open up vast districts of the richest soil along many a firth and stream which are now waste for want of means of communication. Again, many of the most fertile tracts are poisoned with wet for want of simple draining, which the owners are too indolent and often too indigent to undertake. With improvement on these points there would be a corresponding increase of sheep and ponies and kine, which, apart from its undeveloped minerals, are the
mainstay of the land. Until its subterranean riches are worked Iceland must remain a pastoral country; for agriculture, with the sole exception of turnips for the cattle, is an idle dream. Whatever may have been the case in old times when the summers were unquestionably hotter, corn will not grow as a crop in Iceland. The old names in ' akr,' which would point to the plough and bread, should be blotted from the map as misleading. In her wool and tallow and butter Iceland should behold her chief treasures. She might export sheep and kine as she exports ponies for the British mines, but she cannot cultivate these industries because she is too poor. It is incredible that a scanty population in an island considerably larger than Ireland should be driven to seek that labour in a foreign land which lies at home under their very feet. We hope, therefore, that Iceland may not be depopulated by emigration. Let her sons remain at home and make the island which they delight in calling the best land that the sun shines on in reality the best to them in every respect. Wherever they go they will have to work—that must be their lesson of life, and they may as well stay at home and work as quit their old home for the backwoods of America, where the winters are colder than their own, where locusts may devour their crops, and where, moreover, there are those plaguy stumps of trees to be grubbed up, an evil from which they will be certainly free in their old country.
As for Captain Burton's merits as a traveller and explorer in Iceland, the story of his expeditions in 1872 conclusively proves two points. He tried to accomplish too much, and he despised the natural obstacles of the country. All through his book he is divided between two purposes, the prospecting of those sulphur mines, and the exploration of the Vatna Jokull. The last of these alone might have occupied all his time. Arriving in Iceland very early, he after all lingered too long about the capital and in his cockney trips' to take the field against the gigantic Jokull in full force. July, and not the middle of August, is the time to traverse the Odada-hraun, and to penetrate into the vast recesses of the Vatna Jokull, of which, as we write, we are uncertain whether it or the Klofa Jokull, as Captain Burton conjectures, has been this year explored by that adventurous law-student Mr. Watts. We have seen how at last want of daylight hindered Captain Burton's attempt to scale Herdubreid. In July he would have had daylight all through the night. Had the days spent on sulphur been devoted to the Vatna Jokull, Burton's name and not that of Watts might have been associated with that desolate waste for ever. Then
the sake the pides. The we have Sprengi3.o
again, as to his contempt of the difficulties before him. On such an expedition a man must not rush off on the spur of the moment with sneaks and skulks and cowards for his guides, and with sorry cattle that cannot keep their feet on bog, or quicksand, or lava. Yet of this character were both Burton's guides and horses. He seems, indeed, to think that men and animals, whether tame or wild alike, have strangely degenerated within the last fifteen years in Iceland; but we are afraid, just as he could not find the game where other travellers have seen and shot, so he did not take the proper pains to secure either strong horses or experienced guides. The travellers who kept the Journals of 1861 and 1862, which we have quoted, who besides the usual cockney trips, rode across Sprengisand and saw as much of the Odada-hraun and the Vatna Jokull as Captain Burton, and who the next year ascended that great wedding cake, the Eyríks Jokull, and rode across the howling wilderness of Twidægra to the west firths, and who were only foiled by fog at the foot of Western Snæfells, bought the best horses they could at the highest price then paid, both for their baggage and themselves. Their guides were men of the greatest experience and courage, whose hearts never failed in the most trying circumstances. Had Burton taken as much pains to accomplish his object he might have been successful. As it was he failed, to use his own words, because he despised his enemy. Very different is the description of the cavalcade across Sprengisand in 1861; a band of accomplished horsemen, led by Grímur Thomsen, driving their baggage horses before them at a hand gallop from 2 A.M. till late in the evening when they reached their camping ground, having ridden more than eighty miles—very different this from the unbroken untrained brutes and the lazy skulking guides who carried Captain Burton and the Locks from Djúpivógr to Mývatn in 1872. On the one side we have nothing but exhilaration and delight as the horsemen chased the moulting swans on the hard sand, while on either side the edges of the great glaciers sparkling in the sun, reminded the student of history of those bristling Saxon spears which glittered like a glacier in the sun on the morning of the day when the battle of Stamford Bridge was fought. On the other, a hang-dog train of restive stumbling brutes dragged on by surly guides who resented the overbearing ways of the elder Mr. Lock, who, whatever may be his merits as an owner of brimstone mines, must, on Captain Burton's showing, be anything but pleasant in his ways of dealing with the natives. The traveller in Iceland must never forget that at every step he deals with a proud and sensitive race. They