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Given in Loving Memory of 

Raymond Bralslin Montgomery 

Scientist, R/V Atlantis maiden voyage 
2 July - 26 August, 1931 

Woods Hole Oceano 'graphic Institution 
Physical Oceanographer 

Non-Resident Staff 


Visiting Committee 

III/' 1962-1963 

Corporation Member 


Faculty, New York University 

Faculty, Brown University 

Faculty, Johns Hopkins University 

1954- 1961 

Professor of Oceanography, 

Johns Hopkins University 




ILiit amfo Snofo anfc fa 




















. 66 

. 75 

. 99 








. 161 






* Tj^-wTmr . I"/ 







1. THS LAND 263 









THE STROKR ...... 





THE DROSKY ...... 















Moscow 107 


WORKMEN AT DINNER ........ 12j 







THE HALO , . 156 

THE DOG-SLEDGE , . . 159 




THE STKNNTS STONES . . . . . . .176 

A Piers' HOUSE 177 

EGG-GATFBRING . . . . . . . .187 


THE FISHERMAN'S GALLOP . . . . . .203 








POLAR BEARS ......... 2.3 v 

THE EDGE or A PACK ........ 233 


AN ESKIMO VILLAGE ........ 245 


ARCTIC BIBDS ....... t 2o7 

AMONG THB ISLANDS ........ 26 

ENTBANCB TO A FIOKD ........ 260 

A FlORD 8EBN PROM ABOVE ....... 272 

A COAST G-LACIBB ......... 275 



AT THE HEAD o^ THE NORD FIORD . . * . 285 

NORWEGIAN DANCE ........ 28* 

AN HOUR AFTER Mnnneii* , . . . 299 

THE EAOLB ......,.. 104 

MounTAnr BCOZBY , Kl 





I HA YE certainly, In ail niy wanderings, never sailed 
over a more desolate and stormy sea than that 
which lies between Great Britain and Iceland. In the 
voyages both out and home we were constantly beset 
by violent gales. Only once were we cheered by the 
sight of a ship, and she was scudding with close-reefed 
sails before a pitiless storm. Day after day there was 
the same sweltering of the waters, the same threatening 
sky and warning barometer. 

The evening we left Liverpool everything promised 
well. The sun set in great beauty over the Isle of Man. 
The distant horizon was dimly hedged in by the purple 
coast of Ireland, and on th? calm sea a largf fleet of 
herring-boats with drooping sails shot their nets in the 


glowing light. Removed from all comparison with the 
leviathans of the Mersey, our little steamer grew upon 
as tfll we had almost forgotten the hesitation we at 
first felt to encounter the North Atlantic in such a tiny 

As night closed, a stormy petrel hovered about us ; 
but all on sky and sea appeared so calm and peaceable, 
and the big solemn barometer seemed so confident of fine 
weather, that we derided our little enemy as a hopeless 
lunatic who should be bound over to keep the peace 
towards us. However, Mother Carey's envoy, as usual, 
knew more than we did of what the winds and waves 
were meditating, and though at night the barometer 
hastened to rectify his prognostic, and courageously 
threw a somersault from fair to foul, he was hardly- 
in time to " assist ' at the commencement of the 

In the morning after leaving port, we passed the south 
end of Islay, and saw its beetling crags lashed by spin- 
drift as the grey swirls of rain-cloud were rent for a 
moment by the rising gale. That was our last sight of 
land till we made Iceland after five days severe buffeting 
with the wind and sea. For a day or two the gale canie 

roaring up after us 

" With all 

Its stormy crests that smoked against the sky," 

and bore us bravely on into the dark waste of waters, 
walled by mist, which lay beyond ; and I confess this part 
of our voyage was very enjoyable. It was most pleasing 


to watch the graceful gliding of the great waves, which 
one moment ready to topple on the head of the seaman 
lashed to the wheel, noiselessly slid below us to dash 
out beneath the bows in a broad glittering carpet of 

When we had been carried hopelessly beyond any 
harbour of refuge, far out near Rockhall, the following 
gale ceased, and after a short interval of tumbled repose 
we encountered a " whole gale " right in our teeth, which 
compelled us to " lie to " for many hours in a sea as 
wildly tumultuous as it -has ever been my lot to en 

The little ship, fought bravely. At one moment, reared 
on her hind legs, she menaced the coming seas ; at the 
next, almost standing on her head, she dived into the 
deep trough which divided them, and again rolling from 
side to side, nearly sent her funnel and masts overboard. 
She certainly met most of the rollers fiercely, but occa- 
sionally a great seahorse with a crest of foam would rise 
and strike her such a blow that every fibre of her frame 
trembled. It was as if old Tor was trying to beat us 
back from his ancient realm with heavy strokes of his 
mighty hammer. 

How the heart leaps when that terrible crash comes 
overhead caused by a heavy sea on deck ! For a time 
the ship appears completely crushed by the blow, and 
unable again to rise from the trough into which she 
sinks. But up she comes again, as buoyant as a cork, 
and you breathe more freely till you instinctively know 


that it is time for another alarm. The regular rhythm 
of the waves is very remarkable. For hours I could tell 
within a second or two in what direction the ship would 
next pitch, and how the approaching wave would strike 

At last, on the afternoon of the fifth day, the sailors 
discovered land in what seemed to us landsmen a thick 
itorm cloud. 

A high bank of darkness to the north blended sea and 
sky, but gradually out of this blackness indistinct forms 
of rocks became perceptible. At first they appeared no 
more than denser portions of the darkness, but at last, 
from the shroud-like covering, tremendous precipices, 
rising at a bound from the foaming breakers beneath, 
could be clearly made out, their summits crowned by 
snow and their high valleys filled with glancing ice- 
streams. As the flying clouds were borne rapidly across 
their precipitous faces, and the ocean swell broke hoarsely 
on their base, a more inhospitable or dangerous looking 
coast could not well be imagined. 

We sailed between the Westmann Islands and the 
southern coast of Iceland. The islands referred to are 
volcanic masses thrown out into the sea, and linked 
together by low reefs over which the foaming breakers 
were driving madly. 

Here we first encountered the whale, which is so 
common an inhabitant of these seas. On our way home 
thirty of them were at one time visible from the deck. 
In mist and rain, with a strong southerly breeze and 


rising sea, we ran along a lee shore, low, dark, and 
precipitous, where no place of refuge could be found for 
a luckless ship unable to hold her own. Our sixty 
horses worked away bravely, but if they had become 
restive there is little doubt what the result would have 

Occasionally we caught a glimpse of the jagged and 
pinnacled hills of the interior, their size and gloomy 
character enhanced by their covering of clouds ; but 
generally a low-lying, black, lifeless shore, guarded by 
projecting reefs and fiercely beaten by surf, was what 
we alone saw during this our first introduction to Ice- 
land. We had *o steer a good deal by the fitful light of 
the breakers, out and in, keeping them in sight. 

"We passed the " Smoky Cape " after sunset, and well 
it deserves its name. Against its iron face, round its 
basaltic columns, and deep into its wild caverns, the 
waves, urged on by the southern gale, broke themselves 
into fragments of foam, and shot up in long tongues of 
brilliant white. There could not have been a more 
imposing or appropriate welcome to a land we had all 
pictured as the abode of storm, ice, and fire. I involun- 
tarily repeated the well-known lines 

" A waste land where no one comes, 
Or hath come since the making of the world." 

If I had seen nothing more of Iceland than that gloomy 
picture, I should have carried away a very different im- 
pression of it from what I received a few days afterwards, 



when I rode along the same coast and saw it steeped in 
the brightest sunshine, and when these same weird-like 
hills stood out clear and purple against a sky as trans- 
parent as any Italian one. 

Nowhere is the traveller . more dependent on weather 
than in Iceland. Having to live in wooden churches 
or tents without fire, the existence of sunshine or rain 
makes all possible difference to his comfort. The 
climate generally deals in extremes, and if not over- 
whelmed with ruthless rain, you are baked in sun- 

We had one day's experience of the true orthodox rain 
of the country, and I should never care again to be ex- 
posed to it. Cold sleety rain and wind, which pierced 
even to one's very marrow, was not the best discipline 
for a preserved meat dinner innocent of fire, and a 
bivouac under dripping canvass. But when the sun poured 
forth in splendour over the splintered rocks and wonder- 
fully coloured hills, lighting up the icy summits of the 
Jokulls with a golden haze, and pencilling the clouds with 
the most delicate tints of beauty, and filling the green 
valleys with light and colour, and the air with that elas- 
ticity and joy known to every traveller in Switzerland, 
then the rain and the wind were forgotten in the all- 
pervading pleasure of existence. 

It is to its volcanos that Iceland owes its chief and 
mos* characteristic feature. In no part of the world is 
Buch dire destruction or such terrible evidence of thii 
fearful agency seen. 



Most of the greater mountains have been, or are still, 
volcanos ; and in truth the whole island owes its birth to 
volcanic upheaval. So rough, so wild and rugged, is the 
land, that it appears like a fragment torn from the bottom 


of the deep, and elevated above the waves by some con- 
vulsion of nature. 

Heckla is the volcano best known, because it lies to 
the south of the island, and can be seen by passing shipS| 


but it is very far from being the most destructive of the 
" Eruptors " of Iceland. On an average, there has been 
an explosion somewhere in the island every thirteen 
years, and several of these have been unsurpassed for 
their violent and devastating effects. 

It is very remarkable that in a land where bravery 
and enterprise have never been wanting, a region some 
3,000 square miles in extent, lying in the south-east 
corner of the island, should never have been penetrated 
by man. In that wild and untrodden desert stand some 
of the most destructive craters. 

Age after age, wave upon wave of burning lava has 
been poured over it, earthquakes have rent it and tor- 
mented it, without the eye of man ever resting on its 
mysteries. From out of this solitude, perfect seas of 
molten lava have, at various times, flowed over the 
pastures and laboriously cultivated fields of the wretched 
inhabitants. Considerable hills have been thrown up, 
water-courses cut deep in the hills filled full to the 
brim, and long reels and islands cast far out into the 

One stream is 50 miles long, 15 miles broad, and 
600 feet deep ; and it has been calculated that one volcano 
in that wilderness threw out, during one eruption, fifty 
to sixty millions of cubic yards of material ! Into the 
inhabited regions alone a greater bulk than Mont Blano 
was projected ! 

The accounts which have been handed down of this 
event present to us a picture too terrible almost to? 


belief. With a widespread destruction of the land, the 
depths of the sea were invaded, and the fish (the Ice- 
landers' chief means of subsistence) driven from the shore. 
The flames broke out even through the waves in the line 
of movement, and the sea was covered with pumice for 
150 miles. 

A thick canopy hung over the island for a year, and 
the winds carried the ashes over Europe, Africa, and 
America. The very sun was darkened, and showed only 
as a ball of fire, while frightful hurricanes, hail-storms, 
thunder and lightning added their horrors, and famine 
and pestilence still further reduced the number of those 
who survived the catastrophe. 

The great lava streams are inconceivably wild. A 
sight of one is a sufficient reward for crossing the ocean. 
A more complete " abomination of desolation ' cannot 
else be found. 

To describe such a stream as like a billowy sea arrested 
in its wildest frenzy and turned into stone, would give 
but a faint notion of the fretted turbulent twistings, deep 
rents and chasms, threatening pinnacles, and overhanging 
crests of dull cindery lava, which, ghost-like, stretch to 
the horizon. 

Sometimes extraordinary swirls in the rock show how 
the viscous mass was moved while it cooled. Large 
corrugated surfaces thus frequently occur, and occa- 
sionally they even assume patterns like a tesselated 

Sometimes you pass over broad domes that ring to the 


tread, and beneath subterranean chambers stretch to a 
great distance, which might serve as dens for all the wild 
beasts of the forest. Hidden from the summer sun, 
banks of ice and snow lie in some of these caves all the 
year round ; and small holes, into which a horse's foot 
is apt to slide, are a constant source of danger to the 

The persistent heat of these masses of lava is evidenced 
by the fact, that many years after their effusion they con- 
tinue hot and smoking. 

Such sterile, howling wildernesses are what Rachel 
would have fitly termed " a sublime horror." Hardly a 
trace of life in animal or plant is met with. 

The lowest lichens and a weather-beaten grey moss 
sear the rocks with faint traces of colour, and at long 
intervals an eagle, or one of the apoplectic ravens which 
haunt these solitudes, may flit noiselessly past, their dark 
shadow gliding like an evil spirit over the barren rocks. 
Not another sign of life exists, and, in truth, the absence 
of insect life is one of the most curious and striking 
features of the country. Except in some of the valleys 
by the side of rivers, where hungry gnats abound, there 
is hardly a winged insect to be seen. 

No bees or butterflies fill the air with their busy hum, 
or pass glittering down the breeze. There are no hedge- 
rows or copses " melodious with tune," no little birds 
impetuous with song. On the moors the melancholy cry 
of the plover may at intervals be heard, but the thrush and 
starling and corncrake never come in all that silent land. 


Among the grass and stones few worms or little insects 
meet your eye. I saw no beetle, or spider, or snail. 
The very house-fly did not visit our tent; and certain 
heavy and light cavalry, so common in the houses of more 
southern lands, are, so far as I could learn, prudently 
indifferent to so cold and unpromising a field of industry 
and enterprise as is presented to them in Iceland. 

Everywhere a strange silence reigns, like that of the 
Great Desert. Over head and under foot everything 
wears the lifeless silence of desolation. It is in winter 
that the echoes are aroused, and then, with the hurri- 
cane " travelling in the greatness of his strength," and 
the ice artillery, the long valleys and iron hills shout 

Craters of all sizes are very commonly met with. 
Occasionally, a lew yards from the road, you can look 
down a black funnel into an unknown abyss ; sometimes 
an unfathomable lake occupies an old vent ; and I have 
heard of filled-up craters serving as sheep-folds. But it 
is not lava alone which is projected from the subter- 
ranean chambers of Iceland. Hot mud, boiling water, 
liquid sulphur, are at different places thrown up ; and it 
is especially in those valleys, where the discoloured 
sloughs of sulphur smudge the ground and streak the hill- 
side, and where the vapours of boiling cauldrons con- 
stantly fill the air, that you fully realise your near 
approach to the "ignes suppositi," and feel disposed to 
examine suspiciously all the hollows and lurking places 
for the befitting genius. 


The hot springs of Iceland have been for ages cele- 
brated, and some of them, have even ranked among the 
seven wonders of the world. I was so fortunate as to 
witness a very successful performance of the Great 
Geyser (i.e. Gusher), and congratulate myself on the 
same, as in his old age he is becoming less fond of display, 
and has even remained gloomy and taciturn while Prince 
Napoleon and his photographers and painters and mathe- 
maticians were standing ready for days to picture, 
measure, and immortalise him. 

Geysers are very common in Iceland. They may be 
frequently seen steaming away like energetic pots in the 
plains, and waving their white flags in the breeze. Some- 
times they obligingly throw their hot water into the icy 
lakes, and doubtless thereby gladden the cold toes of the 
fish ; sometimes they bubble and boil deep down below 
ground, in dark holes of unpleasant aspect. 

In the valley of " Hawk-dale," where the Geyser 
presides, it is said above one hundred hot springs are 
found ; but only a few of them are in any way remarkable. 
Most of these are placed on the slope of a low hill of slaty 
tuffa, which rises to a height of about three hundred feet 
above the valley ; and from the summit of this hill a most 
beautiful view is got, not only of the boiling springs below, 
but also of the long green valley, with its many rivers 
and purple ridges of bordering hills, immediately beyond 
which towers the double cone of Heckla, and the range of 
dome-shaped Jokiills on either side. 

Near the base of this hill there is a most beautiful, 



delicately tinted cavern, with bossy walls, full to the brim 
with boiling water, which is as clear as crystal, and 
entirely devoid of taste or smell. This is the favourite 
cooking-pot of travellers. It makes admirable tea ; and 
we anchored in its depths sundry tin cans and sausages, 
whose flavour afterwards seemed exquisite to our hungry 

This fountain was at one time the chief eruptor, but 
after an sarthquake it ceased to play, and made over 
the performance to the Great Geyser, which then began. 

The " Great Geyser " has built up for itself a truncated 
conical mound, by the deposit of the silicious material so 
largely held in suspension by its waters. 

On the summit of this mound stands the saucer-shaped 
basin, in the centre of which the crater or pipe opens. 
The basin is about four feet deep at the edge of the 
crater, but shallows gradually to the lip. It measures 
above seventy feet across, and the pipe is about ten feet in 
diameter, and perfectly smooth within, where it has been 
polished by the constant rush of the boiling water. The 
basin is always full, except for a short interval after an 
eruption, when it is emptied, and then you can walk into 
the edge of the crater, over the hot stone, and look down 
the pipe at the fiercely boiling flood, filling gradually up 
again to its old level. 

When full the basin looks very beautiful, from the 
clearness of the water and the deep blue colour of the 
pipe. The water is always boiling, and large bubbles of 
air rise to the surface from the unknown regions below. 


The interior of the basin is rough, like cerebral coral 
or cauliflower, and plants thrown into the water become 
covered by silicious encrustation, 

We witnessed a grand display, after many false alarms, 
during which an abortive attempt was apparently made 
by the master of the ceremonies to gratify us. With a 
slight tremor of the earth, and considerable groaning and 
sighing, a water-column, or rather, I should say, a sheaf 
of columns, rose higher and higher out of the basin. 
These columns partially sank again and again, but con- 
tinued at each renewed effort to gain greater altitude, 
till, with a final attempt, a maximum of about one hundred, 
feet was reached. This height was only maintained for 
a few seconds, and down like a telescope the whole 
mass sank, the entire period consumed in the display 
being seven minutes and a half. 

The explosion was accompanied by so much steam, that 
the water- column was greatly concealed; still it was a very 
wonderful and gratifying spectacle. As throb after throb 
raised the dome of water higher and higher, the excite- 
ment among the spectators was, as may be believed, very 

At one tune the Geyser is said to have been much 
more powerful than in our day, and to have risen 
between three and four hundred feet every six hours ; 
but that was in his hot and fiery youth : he is now old 
and feeble, and gradually builds up a flinty tomb, which 
one day will enclose him as similar formations have done 
not a few of his brethren. 



The Lesser Geyser erupts at short intervals, but to no 
great height; while the "Strokr" (i.e. "Churn"), the 
remaining hot spring of chief interest in this locality, is 
of such an excitable disposition that he can be roused to 
activity by a trick, and made to contribute to the amuse- 
ment of every passer. 


At a depth of twelve feet from the surface, this Geyser, 
when quiescent, pursues his boiling trade with not a little 
sound and fury ; but as his throat is very narrow, it can 
easily be closed, and so our friend choked. This ignoble 
act is achieved by throwing in a few shovelfuls of sod. 
Naturally enough, he warmly resents such liberties being 


taken with his windpipe, and thus no sooner has the 
guide hurled in the proper dose, than, like a man with 
quinsy, the Strokr hisses and splutters, gasps and 
grumbles, till he can no longer contain himself, and 
up it all comes, boiling water, steam, and earth, in explo- 
sion after explosion, till the whole "ingesta" have been 
got quit of, and his pipe is again clear. 

After many efforts and much excitement, he appears 
for a moment to calm, but again, apparently after 
thinking over it, he cannot brook the recollection, and 
at it he goes, almost as energetically as ever. He is a 
great performer is this Strokr ; he would, I am sure, 
make the fortune of any showman who could tame and 
carry him to the Palace at Sydenham. On the whole, I 
think that if the water were clear, the eruption of the 
Strokr is more graceful, as it is nearly as high, as that of 
the Great Geyser. 




HPHE central deserts of Iceland are unexplored. A man 
must be bold, and singularly favoured by weather, 
to investigate their mysterious recesses and to return 
with life. 

One region, part wild tumbled snow and glacier moun- 
tains, part plains of bristling lava, is as unknown as the 
heart of Africa. The glimmer of silver peaks has been 
seen from afar across an impassable arm of lava, the 
confines of the great sea of molten matter have been 
skirted, but those billows of black ragged stone have 
never been traversed even in the old adventuresome days 
of Iceland. 

Sometimes violent shocks and a rising column of black 
cloud warn distant settlers that volcanic fires are still 
23 ' 


active in the heart of that fearful wilderness ; then the 
one great river Jokuisa, which flows from its mysterious 
depths, is tinged with volcanic ash, and swollen with 
melted snows ; then, too, the night sky gleams scarlet 
over some unvisited, unknown, yawning crater, which is 
pouring forth its flood of molten rock. 

This sea of lava sweeps up to the roots of a chain of 
snow mountains perfectly unexplored, themselves vol- 
anos ready to toss aside their mantles of white and 
spread destruction for miles round. 

To the west of this vast region of lava and snow lies 
an upland desert of black sparkling sand, stretching 
completely across the island. This sand is volcanic, 
-and has been deposited during outbursts of the neigh- 
bouring mountains, when the clouds rain down sand 
till the ground is covered many feet deep, and every 
particle of vegetation is destro} T ed. I had an oppor- 
tunity of observing a cutting made by a stream in this 
district, and I found traces of three several depositions 
of volcanic dust, the last as much as thirteen feet deep. 

Vegetation advances in Iceland with none of that 
rapidity with which it covers the flanks of Vesuvius, 
and sand in Iceland is many hundreds of years old 
before it becomes covered with a scanty growth of 
marram and moss campion. 

Part of this elevated table-land of desert is studded 
with countless lakes of all shapes and sizes, disconnected, 
landlocked ; some, quiet tarns of crystal clear water 
others winding among the hills, ruffled and tossed iuta 


angry waves by the cutting blasts which howl over the 
waste. This wild region is utterly barren. The hills 
are bare, exposed stone, broken into angular fragments 
and torn into gullies by the melting snows of spring. 
The elevated plains are masses of splintered trap and 
black mud, into which a horse will flounder to its belly. 
The dales are occasionally grey with moss, and partially 
clothed with stunted willow. 

But every spring thaw helps to destroy the little 
amount of vegetation which exists, as the icy water tears 
down the hill-slopes and rips up the moss, or bears 
away the sandy soil in which the willow found root. 

It must not be thought that a mossy, willowy bottom 
is common. You may travel all day without coming to 
one, but a few do exist, known only to certain individuals 
who haunt the waste during the summer, gathering the 
lichen islandicus, or seeking swans. 

This region bears some resemblance to the Siberian 
tundras, but it is more barren. The tundras are moss- 
covered, and nourish herds of reindeer; but the heidis 
of the centre of Iceland could not support any quadruped. 
For the most part this desert is devoid of living crea- 
tures, for birds will not frequent spots where there is no 

Wherever a morass of moss, blaeberry, and willow is 
to be found, however, multitudes of wild fowl congregate. 
The lakes teem with red-fleshed Alpine trout and magni- 
ficent char, and where the fish are, there are to be found 
the swan and the diver. 


Swans breed in considerable numbers among these 
lakes, unmolested except by a hardy native who may 
venture into the wilds to shoot them for their feathers. 
The swan is of only one species, the cygnus musicus : 
some naturalists have asserted that another species is to 
be found in the island, but the natives are very positive 
that one kind only visits the island, and certainly amongst 
those which I saw, I noticed none but the hoopers. 
Glorious, indeed, is the note, shrill as a trumpet-call, 
uttered by this majestic bird, when the labours of incu- 
bation are completed, and it sings its paean of triumph 
over its fledgelings. 

The swans generally are in pairs in a lake : among 
these tarns it is rare to find more than one couple to 
each sheet of water. An attempt on the part of a second 
pair to intrude is resented as an intrusion, the swans 
regarding the lake as an Englishman regards his house 
as a castle. But this is not the case always. I counted 
some eighteen swans on the great lake in the Vatnsdalr ; 
but there the sheet was extensive. Perhaps the reason 
of the tenacity of the swans on the Arnarvatn lieidi to 
their rights is the scarcity of provender, and they may 
be aware that what is enough for two would be starving 
for four. 

Another bird frequenting these lakes, also in couples, 
is the Great Northern Diver, a magnificent fellow in 
gorgeous metallic glitter of green and black, his wings 
and back sprinkled with white, and his breast of spotless 
purity. The size of the bird is great, his neck and head 



well proportioned, the latter narrow and armed with a 
pointed dark-coloured bill, and furnished with bright 
crimson eyes, like rubies. 

The diver is a heavy bird, and a clumsy walker ; but 
he flies well, though low, rising when alarmed from his 
lone dark pool with a weird cry, mingled with gulping 
whoops, like the laughter of a fiend. The diver is a very 
powerful swimmer, and it is difficult for a boat to keep 


up with him. He laughs at a storm, dancing like a cork 
on the waters, plunging through the waves and appearing 
on the other side with a fish in his mouth, which he 
swallows with a toss of his head. 

In the neighbourhood of the lakes where there is ve^e- 

O O 

tation the whimbrel stands on his long legs, uttering his 
wild sad cry, and seeming quite unconcerned if you 


present your gun. Have him we must, for we depend 
entirely for provisions in these wastes on what we shoot ; 
and whimbrel, though stringy and tasteless, is not to be 
despised when little else is to be got. 

Ah ! we have disturbed a covey of ptarmigans. They 
looked like grey stones, crouching so unconcernedly on 
the ground as we rode by. But the ptarmigan is sure 
before long to give notice of his presence, for he is proud 
of his voice, and one might pass within a few feet of the 
bird without noticing him, but for his tell-tale call rio, 
r io, r io which has given him his name in Iceland of 


We catch the zick-zack of the snipe in yon morass, 
and the ceaseless melancholy pipe of the golden plover 
sounds from every stony hill around the tarn. Just here 
there is abundance of life ; a gun-shot beyond the top of 
the rise you will not see or hear a bird. If you are 
lucky, you will catch sight of the great snowy owl, like 
a snow-ball, sailing by, uttering its solemn note. Its 
haunts are somewhere among the unvisited, unknown 
recesses of the vast Jokiills which close the view on the 

Here, close to us, is a little snow bunting, sitting 
wagging its tail and cheeping ; lucky bunting that you 
are ! had the owl but seen you, you would not be 
perched so unconcernedly there. How tame the little 
being is, or rather how stupid ; you have only to steal 
up softly whilst it is occupied cheeping, and you can 
catch it in your hand. These rocks around us harbour 


countless buntings, bnt their nests are BO far in among 
the crevices that it is a difficult matter to obtain an 


Have done with the birds : let us take a glance at the 
flora of this wild spot. This is scanty. The very moss 
in some places is turned black as coal by the icy trick- 
lings from the snow, and it is only where there is a dry 
sheltered spot that any flowers can blossom. There are 
a few. 

The pale blue butterwort, on its sickly leaves, trembles 
timorously in the piercing blasts which roll over the 
Jokiills, and yet bravely endures them. I do not think 
the little flower has as cheerful a hue here as in the 
south. It seems blanched with cold. 

The grass of Parnassus is also to be found, but the 
little bullet heads are not yet unfolded. On a southern 
slope of volcanic ash a scanty growth of creeping azalea 
may be discovered, and a few varieties of heath which I 
cannot identify just now, as they have not yet flowered. 

In the marsh at the head of this tarn, in which my 
poor ponies are wading after the young willow-tops, I 
find the bog whortle and the blaeberry, now coming 
into flower ; and I light upon a bunch of Burtsia 
alpina, its rich plum- coloured flowers just beginning to 

On the lava rocks, especially when old, may be seen 
masses of pale Dryas octopetala a glorious flower, with 
its eight delicate milky petals and its sunny eye. No 
where have I seen this plant in such perfection as in 


Iceland ; the blossoms are larger there than I have sews 
in the Alps or the Pyrenees, but probably the volcanic 
constituents of the rock on which it lives are those oest 
suited for its development. 

We may find a few saxifrages also, but one flower, 
which is sure to attract the eye, is the dwarf campion, 
of all gradations of colour, from pure snow-white to 
carmine pink, in dense masses of little blossoms, studding 
the sand, and growing where nothing else can grow. 
Brave, bonny little plant ! I have become attached to it 
from association, as it has cheered my eye, wearied with 
the unrelieved monotony of black wastes for miles and 
miles in Iceland. 

It was impossible to cross this desert in a day, and I 
was obliged to obtain a guide to direct me to some spot 
where I could encamp for the night, and where there was 
sufficient herbage for the support of my ponies. We were 
in the saddle for the greater part of the day, winding 
among barren stony hills, traversing rolling swells of 
exposed trap, trotting over sandy sweeps, skirting brist- 
ling barriers of lava, and threading our way among 
countless sheets of pale milky water, holding snow in 
solution, and not sufficiently warm to become trans- 

At last, about six o'clock in the evening, we reached a 
lake about three miles long and a mile wide, on which 
my guide kept a boat for the purpose of fishing. He led 
us to a node of rock, covered with moss, at the foot o* 
which was a heap of brushwood, which he had sent 



thither some days before, on the backs of ponies, to 
serve him as fuel when he came to spend a week in 


Our teeth were chattering with cold, and our whole 
frames shivering, though we were well on in the summer 
within a day or two of the end of June ; we were glad 


enough accordingly to secure some of this wood and to 
make a fire. We had a couple of tents, and these were 
soon erected, though we had considerable difficulty in 
obtaining a suitable site, as the mossy ground was covered 
with lumps like enormous mole-hills as close together as 
they could stand. If we left the immediate neighbour- 
hood of the rock just mentioned, we found ourselves in a 
quaking bog ; and if we ascended the hill-side, we came 
upon bare stone on which we could not fix our tents, 
there being no possibility of driving in the pegs. 

And now I must give an idea of the scene from the 
rise above this tarn, as viewed at midnight, when I made 
the sketch. 

Imagine, then, the lake, bright as a mirror, reflecting 
the .blue-green of the sky, which was kindled with the 
beams of the sun, now touching the sea in the north, 
which is invisible to us as some miles of rolling waste 
intervene. The middle distance is the Heidi, swell on 
swell of stone and sand, of a deep umber hue, deepening 
into black. Just at the lake-edge my little tent stands 
out a flake of white against the sombre ground. Ah ! you 
think there was moss where I pitched it. True ; but the 
moss on these wastes is not green, but ash grey. My 
little flag, an admiral of the white pennant, charged with 
a red cross, is the only point of bright colour to relieve 
the monotony of the tints. 

Over the last swell of the desert, where the umber ia 
becoming purple with distance, rises with one start a 
mighty dome of ice, raised on precipitous flanks of trap, 


black when you are near them, but tinted the sweetest 
violet in the distance. The mighty pile of snow and ice 
rises from these abrupt scarps with a gentle curve, un- 
dinted to the very summit, looking soft and downy as a 
swan's breast. As the sun rests on the glittering heap it 
blushes to the tenderest rose and sparkles like a precious 
gem. The scene is entrancingly lovely. 

Far off behind this Jokiill, which by the way is called 
Eirek's Jokiill, stretches another Lang Jokiill like a 
thread of white cloud, resting on the horizon, and lost in 
the distance of the south-east. To our right, Eirek's 
Jokiill throws out a spur of precipitous rock, jauntily 
tapped with snow, and beyond that rises the cone of 
Strutur, an extinct volcano. To the north-west, as the 
air is BO clear, we can catch sight of the marvellous 
Baula, a mountain which is considered one of the won- 
ders of Iceland, as it is a perfect cone, running to a point, 
3,500 feet high, with so rapid a slope that snow never 
rests on it. 

The great central wilderness is, as I have already 
stated, almost entirely unexplored. Three "tracks" alone 
cross it throughout the length of the island, and the 
country right and left of these tracks is quite unknown. 

When I speak of a track, I do not mean a road. Roada 
there are none in Iceland, no, not even paths. A track- 
way over a waste is simply formed by piling three or 
four stones on the top of a rock. This is called a vardr. 
From this point an experienced eye can detect another 
vardr, perhaps on the horizon. Often I could not 866 



them, but the Icelander has the eye of an eagle, and he 
detects one immediately. 

The horses have then to make the best of their way 
from one vardr to another, wriggling among stones, 
floundering into mud-bogs, picking their way among 
splinters of trap or lava, often making the most cornpli- 


cated windings to reach a spot on the horizon of a hill 
which you could strike with an Enfield. 

The reason of the country being so unexplored is just 
this : if you lose your track in these wastes, God help 
you ! you are lost. The compass will not guide you 
correctly, for the needle does not always act when you 



are crossing igneous rock. You may wander for days 
before you reach grass, and if your ponies die you will 
hardly be able to reach a place of safety on foot. 

The Icelanders had, and in some parts have still, a 
conviction that the recesses of these wilds are inhabited 
by a race of men of their own stock, but slightly differing 
from them in their language and in their dress. They 
call these people Utlegumennir, and there are some 
curious stories told about them. 

They are supposed to be the descendants of outlaws 
and robbers, who in old times haunted these deserts, and 
who having discovered fertile valleys in the heart of the 
wilderness, are content to reside there, and inherit a 
feeling of enmity against the coast-dwellers, who expelled 
their ancestors from the community of their fellow-men. 
These people are said to be sadly deficient in iron, and 
to shoe their horses with horn. They are thought to have 
made their appearance occasionally when merchant ships 
have entered the fiords to trade with the natives. 

Of course the existence of this race is a possibility, but 
I cannot say anything for its probability. When we 
consider that the population of Iceland is only 68,000, 
and that it is a third larger than Ireland, and that this 
population is confined to the coast and to the banks of 
the rivers just above their entrance into the friths, it 
leaves ample room for a colony in the heart of the 
country to live undisturbed. 

About two o'clock at night if I may call it "night" 
when it is light, the sun just beginning to struggle up 


the sky again, and Eirek's Jokiill still bathed in his 
beams we turned into our tents for the night, putting 
four guides into a little horseman's tent, 5 ft. 6 in. by 
8 ft. 6 in., which was close enough packing to keep them 

Storm and rain came on, and we had a miserable night, 
the water pouring over the floor of our tents and soaking 
all our bedding. We were somewhat aching and rheu- 
matic when we crawled forth the next morning to a 
breakfast on cold boiled plover and char. But travelling 
is a succession of pleasures and pain, of comfort and 
discomfort, of enjoyment and annoyance, and we moat 
take all as it cornea. 




fPHERE is no hotel in Iceland, always excepting the 
miserable pot-house which does duty at the capital. 
The churches are the hostelries, and the clergy, miserably 
poor though they be, are the public exponents of a hospi- 
tality which is a national virtue. You sleep and eat, and 
may even smoke at your ease, in the churches. The 
clergy join you, if you wish it, at such festivity, and 
frequently the meal, or its choicest portion, is their con- 

The churches are ridiculously- small buildings. The 
one which formerly stood at Tingvalla one of the great 
sights of the island, from being the seat of the old 
Athling or open-air Parliament was only twenty-five 
feet by ten, and when the clergyman was in the pul[it his 


head was above the rafters ! The new .church at tha 
place mentioned is on a somewhat larger scale than its 
predecessor ; but many sacred edifices, I was informed, 
still exist in the island, not larger than the old church 
referred to. The people are so widely scattered, that it is 
difficult in stormy weather to fill even these diminutive 

The clergy possess incomes varying generally from 
61. to 10L a year, exclusive of a few trifling fees, and 
they have a house and farm besides. They work at 
their farms as hard as the meanest of their parishioners ; 
and, as a rule, are not very much elevated above them in 
intelligence or learning. To this remark, however, there 
have been, and still are, many notable exceptions. 

It is not an uncommon thing for the traveller to find 
an entertainment set out for his acceptance on the altar of 
the church in which he resides, and in the dark evenings 
to have the large candles on the altar lit for his use. We 
did not stand in need of such aid, as we carried our own 
tent and commissariat ; but for those who trust to church 
accommodation and clergy entertainers, it is a common, 
but at first a somewhat startling, event. 

The Icelanders are Lutherans, and very strict, and 
they are somewhat bigoted. I believe that there is one 
solitary Romanist in the island, and for his benefit, as 
well as for the good of the French fishermen who 
annually frequent the coast for a few months, there are 
two Roman Catholic priests at Reykjavik all the year 
round, and a very agreeable gentleman whom we mot, 


and who is designated by the ambitious title of "Prefet 
Apostolique du Pole Nord," visits them yearly to see that 
their duty is rightly performed. 

The mode of travelling in Iceland is somewhat eccen- 
tric and not a little fatiguing. The ground is so encum- 
bered with masses of stone, and the distances from place 
to place so great, that a pedestrian has no chance ; and 


as railways and even highways are unknown, the short- 
limbed, big-headed, shaggy, intelligent pony of the 
country is made to carry everybody and everything that 
requires transport. There are some seventy thousand of 
these most useful animals on the island, and their sure- 
footedness is such that the traveller soon learns to dash. 


at full speed, like a native, across ground bristling with 
countless stones that razor-like project from the surface, 
ready to mutilate him grievously if he fall upon them. 

The only roads are mere tracks, under two feet broad, 
made by the various generations of ponies, and left 
entirely to the care of snow-drift and glacier. These, 
partly covered with stones, wind zig-zag between the 
greater rock-masses, and ford innumerable bridgeless 
rivers, that in short but fierce courses roll down " pale 
from the glaciers " to lake or sea. Wherever there :s 
soil the path eats its way into the ground, and thus a 
high turf bank stands up on either side, thickly studded 
with rough stones ; and in avoiding contact with such 
fracturing and dislocating agencies, feats of horsemanship 
have to be performed which leave most unpleasant 
impressions on bone and muscle when repose is sought 
after your ten hours' scamper. 

The ponies are so diminutive, and the traveller is 
generally so enveloped in coats, plaids, and capes, that 
the moving mass appears at a little distance all man and 
no pony. When things look ugly, the only alternative is 
to shut the eyes and hold the breath, and if the reins are 
left loose, your intelligent bearer will soon extricate you 
from all difficulty. 

Each traveller has two ponies for his own use, and two 
for each guide and load of baggage, so that the number of 
animals accompanying even a small party is very con- 
siderable. The relays are driven by lash and cry, in a 
wild surging wave before ; and as the flying column windf 


round the shoulder of a mountain, or flits tike a cloud 
across valleys where no other living thing is seen, a 
momentary life and animation is imparted to scenes other- 
wise often singularly unattractive. 

Except potatoes, and a few other hardy vegetables, no 
crops come to maturity in Iceland, and corn is never sown* 

"No products here the barren hills afford, 
But man and steel the soldier and his sword.'* 

The sea is the Icelander's great storehouse. From it he 
obtains the chief staple of his diet and the main item of 
his export. Providence has, in the seething shoals of 
every species of fish which frequent these seas, compen- 
sated in a great measure for the sterility of the land. A 
few hours, in the proper season, suffices to fill a boat with 
magnificent fish, and the whole population, men, women, 
and children, abjectly worship the cod, who is here undis- 
puted king. 

Every house near the coast is redolent of cod. The 
eaves are festooned with their bodies, the doorways are 
straitened by them, the children cut their teeth on them, 
and the very ponies love and eat them. Stacks 
veritable stacks of cod, roped and thatched like peats in 
Scotland meet you by the highways, and ships freighted 
with them sail for the delectation of Catholic countries. 
These Icelanders are the veritable Ichthyophagi. It ia 
only after seeing a native develop ths hidden mysteries of 
a cod's head that you become aware of how much 


"curious eating' 1 it affords. Many boat-loads of cod 
from these distant seas find their way to the London 
market, whose wealth attracts the products of the whole 
known world. 


If Mr. Cod was aware of what an interest the Icelander 
has in his welfare, I doubt not he would feel deeply 
.gratified. He little thinks, as he rubs his cold nose on 


the tangle, and gazes with his glassy unimaginative eye 
at the inviting bait, how many firesides up-stairs are 
rendered warm at the expense of himself and his rela- 

Besides fish, the Icelander feeds on milk-curd (similar 
to that used by the Arabs and Kaffirs), occasionally rye- 
bread and mutton, and, on rare occasions, potatoes, 
and even coffee. Notwithstanding their unvaried and 
not very wholesome diet, the Icelanders are large, 
strong, flaxen-haired, and healthy-looking men. Their 
houses cannot certainly contribute to their healthful- 
ness, as they are built apparently with the sole object 
of excluding light and air, and imprisoning every fetid 

Violent epidemics, very similar in their nature and 
malignancy to those which devastated our own country 
during the Middle Ages, have, within recent times, 
swept over the land ; and now leprosy, such as is seen 
throughout the East, is a common disease. As the 
whole population of the island is below 70,000, an 
epidemic produces a most terrible effect on the native 

There are no tradesmen, properly so called, in Iceland, 
and there are no village schools. The distances between 
the farms make both impossible. " In the nights of 
winter," however, " when the cold north winds blow and 
the long howling of the wolves is heard amidst the snow," 
the farmer acts in turn the part of tailor, shoemaker, 
smith, and carpenter, and so carefully instructs his 


children, that the whole population are said to be very 
efficiently educated. 

The Icelanders are true Scandinavians of the unmixed 
sangre-bleu. They speak the pure Norse, from which 
some 60 per cent, of our own language is derived. In 
their honesty, truthfulness, hospitality, maritime enter- 
prise, courage, and humble piety, we British are fain to 
trace some of our most cherished national traits, and 
from them undoubtedly we obtained our ideas of repre- 
sentative parliaments, trial by jury, and other honoured 

In manners, the Icelanders are quiet, subdued, and 
contented. Music and dancing are said to be almost 
unknown ; we certainly saw no evidence of either art 
being practised. The long, dawnless winter nights, when 
the sun is replaced by the pale reflection of the stars from 
snow and ice, or the flashing coruscations of the Aurora 
wandering from horizon to zenith in brilliant tints of 
evanescent glory, must give a complexion to the thoughts 
and dispositions as it moulds the habits and occupations 
of men. 

So frigid and inhospitable a climate must cramp the 
conception and harden the temperament. How different 
are the external influences which surround the Icelander 
from those affecting the Italian, Egyptian, or Indian ! And 
yet that the grand scenes of the North are well fitted to 
fire the imagination, and develop the more thoughtful 
faculties, is well evinced in the Eddas and Sagas of the 
many Icelandic writers. It is now well understood that 


mot a few of those wild, fanciful German legends which 
we value so much, are but translations of Icelandic tales ; 
and we know that histories and poems were written in 
Iceland long before we, in Great Britian, had emerged 
from barbarism. 

Much of the domestic history of Iceland is an account 
of contests waged with physical evils ; and when we thus 
see men successfully contending with storm and pestilence, 
with volcanos and earthquakes, with long seasons of 
darkness, with enow and ice, with a land " whose 
stones are iron, and whose hills are brass," almost cut 
off from intercourse with other nations, and having 
but few natural resources on which to fall back, we 
cannot but award them our highest admiration and 

Their love of country is proverbial, notwithstanding 
" the small mercies " for which they have to be thankful. 
So true is it that 

* The shuddering tenant of the Frigid Zone 
Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own, 
Extols the treasures of his stormy seas, 
And his long nights of revelry and ease ; 
So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, 
But bind him to his native mountains more." 

The discomfort of a residence in Iceland is much en- 
hanced by the want of fuel. The springs of hot water 
would be most providential institutions in such a land 
if the inhabitants turned them to economic uses. There 
are no trees, unless the pigmy willows and birch, some 


few inches high, which are found in a few spots, and 
ambitiously called "forests," are to be so designated. 
There is little or nc turf also ; yet there is no lack of 
wood, though no ship or human hand brings it to their 

The Gulf-Stream sweeps part of the coast, assuaging in 
a most notable degree the severity of their climate. It 
also bears to them, from the long circuit of its stately 
march, innumerable trees of many species with roots and 
branches attached, and logs of valuable wood, gnawed by 
the sea, to brighten the hearth and build their log houses 
firm against the storm. 

Game is very plentiful in Iceland. With salmon and 
sea-trout in the streams, and teal, snipe, golden plover, 
ptarmigan, wild goose, and wild swan on the fiords and 
moors, the sportsman need never be at a loss ; not to 
speak of the countless flocks of sea-birds which frequent 
the coast, from the " Great Northern Diver " to the little 
fat puffin, which only needs to be shorn of its feathers, 
have a wick passed through his body, and be set on end 
in a saucer, in order to form a brilliant light for th& 

Besides fish, there are exported from Iceland, wool, 
eider-down feathers, knitted things in great numbers, and 
sulphur. The whole public annual income of the island 
is but 3,000/., and the Government expends fully twice 
that sum upon it, so that the connection is not a very 
profitable one for the mother country. 

I would add that of the many natural beauties of the 




country, none struck me more than the wonderfully 
diversified shape and colour of the mountains. 

Some are sharp, like needles, others form regular cones, 
others stand out in long splintered ridges, " bitten into 
barrenness by the hunger of the north wind," or tor- 
mented into great rough masses of tumbled rock, and 
so present an infinite variety of beautiful objects in the 

The colouring, too, especially in the morning and even- 
ing, is really extraordinary. Not only are the varieties 
of shade great, bat they are most brilliant and intense: 
deep brown and black, relieved by many degrees of green 
and grey, with dashes of purple, orange, and even rose 
and red. These, combined for the most part in the most 
harmonious hues, and reflected by an atmosphere of the 
most dazzling clearness, far surpass the artist's power of 

Some of the mountain masses rise dark and desolate 
without soil or trace of vegetation. They look like great 
beams of iron binding the land together. Others spring, 
a glorious glittering pyramid of snow and ice, from the 
blue sea or the green grassy plain. Yet, with all this- 
and we intensely enjoyed it how inexpressibly we 
admired our own dear land, when, after seeing so much 
barren sterility, we found ourselves travelling through the 
harvest fields of Aberdeenshire, and saw " the swathes of 
its corn glowing and burning from field to field," and 
looked into the peaceful homesteads and orchards, full to 
overflowing with the generous fruits of the earth, and saw 


again the " bosky knowes," brilliant with purple heatiies, 
rise up amidst glades of tangled wild flowers and soft- 
creeping moss 1 Truly it seemed " a generous land, 
gilded with corn, and fragrant with deep grass ; bright 
with capricious plenty, and laughing from vale to vfefc 80 
iifal fulness kiad aad 






I HAVE little to say about it. The fact is that almost 
all voyages out of sight of land are much the same. 

In every ship there is the same sort of steward and 
passengers ; the same bustle for berths at starting ; the 
same running about through the cabin and on deck, with 
hat-boxes, carpet-bags, and new portmanteaus, getting 
settled down. 

The same smells too ! blame me not for dwelling on 
them most notable facts are they, inasmuch as the nose 
conveys to the soul fully as much information regarding 
the external world as any other of the senses. Hence 
there is a seashore smell ; a highland moor smell ; a 
coach smell ; a first, second, and third class smell ; a 
church smell ; "a subtle smell which spring unbinds," as 



Wordsworth well knew, having had the advantage of a 
large poetic nose to perceive it. No man feels himself 
abroad until he has inhaled the smell of the " salle a 
manger" or the " Speise Saal." And thus no man 
realizes that he is at sea until he has felt the smell of the 
cabin, and of those submarine cells called state-rooms 
an aroma which stands alone, a product of sea and 
land, ye't nothing else on sea or land having a scent, 
like it! 

Then there are much about the same kind of waves on 
every sea, that is to say, on ordinary occasions ; for 
when put to it by a gale of wind, I would back the 
Atlantic, anywhere between Cape Race and Cape Clear, 
against all the treasures of the great deep, for breaking, 
topping, sweeping, roaring blue seas. The North Sea is 
not, indeed, to be despised, especially when it fights with 
the winds, as Duncan did with the Dutch over the 
Dogger-bank ; but the Baltic, though ambitious, and 
often seriously angry, has all the testiness of a fresh- 
water lake, but wants the grand majesty, the mountain- 
swing of the real old Ocean. It is fierce and furious, not 
awful and overwhelming like the Atlantic. 

Our passengers were, of course, divided between the 
whole and the sick, with various species under this last 
genus, from those possessing a solemn gravity and 
pensive meditativ.eness, down to a solitary inert mass of 
helpless agony, unconscious apparently of every existence 
except that of the steward, whose name was feebly 
ottered, by day and night, in spasmodic intervals. I have 


ever had the good fortune to be among the whole and 

Our good ship, I may add, was the Admiral, sailing 
from Hull ; and our good captain, than whom a worthier 


man or more experienced sailor sails not the sea, was 

We took seven days to St. Petersburg. Remember 
that fact ere ye thoughtlessly venture to peep into Russia. 
The most interesting spectacle on the North Sea was 


fishing-smacks. We passed several out of sight of land. 
They trawl over those endless banks for months, consign- 
ing their cargoes from time to time to vessels which 
convey them to British or continental markets, but the 
same crew always remaining in the smack. There they 
lie, pitching and tossing, reefing and tacking, hauling and 
trawling, lying to and bearing away, night and day, 
through mist, and spit, and salt sea-foam, with wet 
nets, wet fish, wet sails, wet ropes, wet clothes, wet 

How cosy and comfortable is any returned convict, or 
inhabitant of one of our well-regulated prisons, compared 
with these poor fellows ! We would recommend " Four 
months' fishing on the North Sea," as a sentence to be 
passed upon all those genteel criminals who. would miss 
the theatre and comfortable tavern. It would cool their 
passions, improve their health, cultivate their good habits, 
or kill them. 

After three days, we saw in the distant horizon a few 
specks, and were told that they represented Jutland ; 
then, by-and-by, came the Olrnan light ; then, some ten 
hours after, the Skagen lighthouse, marking a low line of 
sands, on which we counted five old wrecks ; then, 
twelve hours farther, with occasional peeps of misty 
streaks which were called dry land, the hitherto almost 
unseen shores began to come nearer. In a few hours we 
could see corn-fields, and trees, and then houses, both on 
the Swedish and Danish coast, but no scenery worth 
remarking, until at last, right ahead, at some distance, we 



saw a large square building, which we were told was the 
Castle of Kronberg, by Elsineur. 

We anchored for an hour at Elsineur to take in a 
pilot; and landed in honour of Hamlet. 

I saw nothing very noticeable about this classic spot, 

except excellent cherries and some good cherry cordial ; 
also two tug-boats, representing the genius and the 
influence of Shakspere in this harbour of prose the one 
being called Hamlet, and the other Ophelia! We were 


surprised at finding Elsineur neither "wild," "stormy," 
nor " steep," but a quiet little wooden town, full of fish 
and sailors ; with its old castle, half a mile off, riting 
from the very margin of the sea, and wearing the look 
more of a decayed palace than of a warlike fortress. One 
would think from its appearance that it is fit for little 
more than firing royal salutes. 

A few hours after passing Elsineur, the sea widens out 
again until Copenhagen is reached, sweeping round the 
margin of an ample bay. The day we first saw it was 
lovely, the sea a dead calm, and the waters alive with 
vessels.- Various buildings were pointed out as we 
leisurely surveyed the city while landing our pilot; but I 
eaw only the two batteries before which the British fleet 
poured their broadsides, sixty years ago, for three hours, 
during the hottest fight ever witnessed by Nelson ; and I 
also saw more clearly than these the little man himself, 
putting the telescope to his blind eye, and turning it 
through the smoke towards Parker and his No. 39 signal, 
ordering the hero to withdraw his ships from the terrific 
combat. I need only say, that every man of us got up 
his "Nelson and the North," to the best of his ability, 
and with becoming patriotism. 

Away we went out of the Cattegat and up the Baltic, 
passing the long island of Gothland, flat and shaped like 
a tombstone seen sideways ; on, across the Gulf of 
Bothnia, with sunsets of surpassing glory, and skies red 
and fiery from the west up to the zenith, and down to the 
eastern horizon, which glowed as if with sunrise ; on we 


went rolling and pitching away with a quarter wind, and 
all sail set, the right paddle now buried in the sea, and 
apparently dying of suffocation, the steam giving ft 
wheezing groan as if in sympathy, then, after a roll to 
port, lightly capping the top of the foaming billows, while 
the opposite paddle was struggling for existence; the 
persevering and strong engine all the while doing its duty 
with an air of dignified respectability, but greatly wanting 
in zeal ; on, passing the time with the usual routine of 
meals and conversation, enlivened by the screams of two 
pigs who paraded the main-deck, and received daily a 
powerful scrubbing from the sailors, while a sheep, tawny 
with coal dust, contemplated the scene in peace ; on w 
went, with a fresh breeze and broken sea, passing several 
cold and dreary lighthouses and lightships, until, one 
morning, we were told that a few scratches on the 
horizon were Cronstadt. 

Then came Sir Charles Napier's farthest point of 
observation, Tamboukin lighthouse, until, finally, we 
bravely advanced towards the dreaded forts, which did not 
presume to stop our progress, until we blew off our steam, 
and anchored close to the pier in the busy harbour. So 
ended our voyage. 

Before getting into the little steamer which conveys us 
to St. Petersburgh, twenty miles up " the firth," let me 
tell you a short adventure of one of the passengers, the 
Bussian Lieutenant K y, who left us at Cronstadt. The 
story has been told before, but I will tell it in as nearly 
as possible the words of the Lieutenant, and as I 


took it down at the time in my note-book. I may add 
that, like most educated Russians, the Lieutenant spoke 
excellent English. 

"The Diana frigate, of which I was an officer, was 
commanded by Admiral Pontaveen. We anchored on 
the 23rd of December 1855, in the harbour of Sinoda, in 
Japan. We had on board about 500 of a crew. About 
half-past nine in the morning we were surprised to see 
the boats afloat which we had sent on shore, and which 
had been all drawn up on the beach. But, immediately, 
our surprise was still greater, in seeing wooden houses 
floating past us 1 

" We guessed at once that an earthquake beneath and 
around us was taking place. Our conjectures were, alas I 
too true. It proved to be a very fearful earthquake, and 
continued for seven hours, or until half-past four in the 
afternoon. During this dreadful time our frigate was 
swept out of and into the bay by the sea. Anchors were 
of no use, for land and sea were changing places. We were 
now on the ground, and the next moment afloat, and 
again on shore, swinging back and forward, guns break- 
ing loose, killing some, and terrifying all. Our keel was 
torn off and our rudder lost. At last we were suddenly 
swept up from the outer bay into an inner harbour. 
Having reached it, we were seized by the waves as by a 
whirlpool, and the frigate spinned round and round forty- times in thirty minutes ! 

" It was awful, more especially as nothing whatever 
could be done to save us. No one could guess what the 


next minute would bring forth. We were, of course, 
unable to save a single life of the poor people, except that 
of an old woman whom we seized as she was sweeping 
past us on the roof of her wooden house. 

" After the earthquake ceased, we found the ship leaking 
so much that we landed all her guns as speedily as 
possible, wrapped a sail round her to try and stop the 
leak, and then in our miserably disabled state endea- 
voured to navigate her to a harbour not far off where 
we could refit. But our misfortunes were not ended ! 

" We had no sooner entered the open sea than a violent 
gale arose, and at night too. All now seemed over with 
us and our poor ship. We tried to hold her fast, or at 
least check her way, by dropping two anchors. But 
early in the morning we descried, about a cable's length 
to leeward, a wild and rocky coast, up whose steep 
precipices the sea was dashing its spray. One small 
nook of white sand, among the rocks, was at last seen. 

" A boat was sent on shore with a rope ; its crew 
managed to land and to fasten it. By this means we got 
the rest of the crew on shore, at first, by tying round 
each man a line which was conveyed to the party on 
shore, who hauled him to land, half drowned, through the 
surf. But we improved upon this by anchoring a boat 
immediately outside the breakers, and thus the drag 
through the water was shorter. Thus every man of our 
500 got on shore in safety. 

"Next day the gale ceased, and the frigate, to our 
nurprise, still rode a.t her anchors. . Was it possible yet 


to save the good ship ? It was resolved to make the 
attempt. We were able to collect very speedily 100 
Japanese junks to tow her into a safe harbour. The 
junks were all made fast, the ship's anchors raised, and 
away they rowed, towing her, when, suddenly, down she 
went, head foremost, to the bottom, like a stone 1 Well, 
we all went on shore again, and I must here say, that 
from first to last we were most kindly treated by the 
Japanese. Onr numbers may possibly have awed them ; 
but it is but fair to give them all credit for what they did, 
and did so well. 

" What now was to be done ? We resolved at once to 
build a schooner. Everything had to be extemporized, 
but so heartily did we work, that from the time we cut 
down the first tree to build our craft, until she was afloat, 
was only four mouths. The admiral (as noble a fellow as 
ever lived, and, by the way, married to an English lady, 
which, of course, accounts for his excellence!) set sail 
with as many of the crew as he could stow away, for the 
river Amoor, distant about 1,300 miles. In her voyage 
the schooner was obliged to pass through the British 
Fleet. So little idea had good John Bull that a Russian 
admiral was near him, that, on perceiving the approach of 
the unknown vessel, supposing, of course, that in those 
distant seas she was one of their own, he even showed a 
light, while another ship hailed her to ' keep off.' The 
admiral was ready to throw his valuable charts and also 
his despatches overboard, had he been taken. Bat he 
escaped into the 'Amoor/ 


'The next division of the shipwrecked crew chartered an 
American ship, and escaped the British. The tnird and 
last division, of which I was one, tried to escape, but 
were captured by the British man of war the Baraccoota. 
I remained a prisoner of war for about a year, visiting 
various ports in India, and I was treated with such 
courtesy and kindness that, to tell the truth, I would 
have no objections to be again taken prisons/ by a ship 
of the British navy ! At all events, I shall never forget 
my generous friends and the Baraccoota." Such wai 
the story of the Russian lieutenant. 




is nothing very imposing about Cronstadt I 
-- mean in the sense in which Gibraltar, or Quebec, or 
any such mountain fortresses are imposing. But to a skilled 
eye the soldier lying on the ground behind a bush with 
an Enfield rifle, is much more awing than a huge Goliath 
with his spear boastfully challenging the armies of Israel ; 
and so these forts, built on low islands, or rising out of 
the water like three-storied cotton-factories, have a firm, 
dogged, business look about them. They are evidently 
built for guns, and for nothing else, to knock down every- 
thing, and to defy anything to return the compliment. 

And so with great respect we first passed Fort Alex- 
ander, rising out of the sea on our left, and Peter Vahki 
on an island to the right (a narrow channel intervening), 



with the Risbank between it and the opposite shore ; and 
then with a respect increasing with the forts and their 
number of guns, we sailed past Fort Constantino backing 
Alexander, and Fort Menschikoff in the rear of all. 

It is quite evident that no fleet, unless cased in iron, 
could run the gauntlet, first between Alexander and Peter 
Vahki, and then past Constantine and Menschikoff, with 
hundreds of guns on the shore supporting them. But no 
one doubts the certainty of their destruction during the 
war, had Sir Charles Napier attacked the island of 
Cronstadt from the rear. But the water was too shallow 
for anything but gun and mortar boats, and of course 
there were none provided, until the Czar had time to 
make any attempt in the rear impracticable. 

It is not difficult to understand the relative positions of 
Cronstadt and St. Petersburg. The Neva empties its 
waters into a shallow firth about twenty miles long and, 
as far as I remember, two or three miles broad. The 
entrance of the firth is guarded by the island and docks 
of Cronstadt, which is connected with the opposite shore to 
our right in going to the capital by two small fortified 
islands. The water is too shallow to admit of any vessels, 
but those of a light draught, reaching the anchorage at 
Cronstadt (except by one passage close to the forts), or 
of going beyond that point to St Petersburg, which ifl 
twenty miles up the firth. 

The port of Cronstadt is therefore a busy place, with 
all sorts and sizes of shipping in its docks, and a goodly 
array of ships of war lying side by side, with their rig 


ging down, in the navy dock, and looking by no means 

The confusion for more than an hour at Cronstadt, 
after we were moored near the wharf, and before we got 
ourselves and our baggage transferred to the small 
steamer which conveyed us to St. Petersburg, cannot 
be described. The grey-coated and large -booted men who 
came on board from the custom-house, seemed portraits 
from the Illustrated News of the Crimean Russian soldiers 
come alive. 

Once they were on board, there arose such a medley of 
sounds from the roar of steam ; the Babel of Russian ; the 
rushing to and fro with papers ; the meeting of friends ; 
the searching for luggage ; the affectionate kisses between 
Russian men and old friends among our passengers ; the 
roaring out questions and answers by everybody; and 
everybody apparently frantic with haste, or some mys- 
terious burthen, that it was an immense relief when the 
steam of our small vessel was choked in the boiler, and 
with rapid paddle we skimmed through the shipping, and 
between long poles which marked the passage, and were 
off for the capital. To the right, along the wooded bank 
we could discern white houses thickly scattered, and we 
heard that this was the fashionable summer retreat of the 
citizens who could afford a country cottage. The left- 
hand shore is low, wooded, and without the slightest 

As we rapidly approached St. Petersburg, one of the 
most magnificent rainbows I eve" beheld spanned the sky 





before us from horizon to horizon. Behind us was 
another resplendent sunset, with the mighty orb like a 
globe of molten gold, slowly descending amidst gorgeous 
colours of amethyst, emerald, and gold, until a single star 
of light rested for a moment, like a glittering diamond on 
a cushion of gleeming ruby, and then disappeared, while 
we held our breath with wonder, and a hundred suns then 
danced before our eyes. Already were the gilt domes of 
St. Isaac's Church and of the Admiralty reflecting the 
last rays of evening above a low fringe of forest. 

In about two hours after leaving Cronstadt, on our 
taking a sudden turn to the left, we entered the Neva. 

When made fast to the landing-wharf on the shores of 
the Neva, and before the custom-house, the first thing 
unquestionably which strikes one as new and quite Rus- 
sian, that is to say, like what we have heard of Russia 
from our picture-books, are the droskies they are 
thoroughly national, and long may they continue so ! 

The drosky is a low four-wheel, with two seats sup- 
ported by old-fashioned, hanging leather springs that 
make large semicircles behind. The one seat behind is 
for the driven, a small one above his knees before for the 
driver. Two persons of small bulk can cram themselves 
into the seat, but if one of the occupants happens to be a 
"portly man i' faith," he or his neighbour must suffer 

Every driver or Vostick is dressed in exactly the same 
national costume the large blue dressing-gown, or kaftan, 
reaching to the boots, and tied round the waist with 


sash, while a low-crowned black felt hat and turned-up 
brim covers a head, the back of which has thick reddish- 
brown hair, arrested by the scissors as it touches the coat, 
while the front is adorned by a face with cocked nose, 
large mouth, and a general dusty, turnipy, and, on the 
whole, stolidly kind expression. 

There is a myth about shepherds being able to distin- 
guish one sheep from another by the expression of their 
countenances. We don't believe James Hogg himself, 
after marking the idiosyncrasies of all the black or 
white faces on Ettrick, would ever be able to discover 
the difference between one Vostick (Isvostchik) and 

When the traveller, for the first time, hazards his per- 
son in one of those small droskies, and his driver securing 
a rein in each hand, gets off with rapid speed along the 
quays and streets of St. Petersburgh, he has entered on a 
new experience in locomotion, unless he has had some 
personal knowledge, as I have had, of the corduroy roads 
of America., 

Those streets, those memorable streets, surely leave 
impressions never to be obliterated. They are all paved 
with small stones, and seldom level, but descending in the 
centre, along which is an open water-course. But the 
holes in that pavement 1 the roughness of those stones 1 
the rattle, plunges, knocks endured ! while following a 
swift- trotting horse and remorseless Vostick in a drosky, 
forms an element of sight-seeing in hot weather which 
every traveller should carefully consider before he leavei 



home. Every bone, thew, muscle, and sinew of his 
frame must be in perfect order to undergo this ordeal. 

Rascally-looking Cossack police on their small horses 
and with their long spears, galloped past ; Greek priests 
with their black robes and broad-brimmed hats, and hair 
down their back, moved along ; and various other types 




of humanity never seen before. But the eye feebly took 
in the panorama of a new country. The whole soul was 
concentrated on the bones of the body, and all natural 
emotions of gratitude for our safe arrival, and wonder at 
finding one's-self in Russia, began to dawn only when the 
drosky was left with a bound of delighted deliverance, as 


it stopped at Dom Felinson's Anglitzke, Nabroshne (so 
the words sounded to me), which meant, as I afterwards 
learned, Miss Benson's English Quay, being the comfort- 
able pension to which we were recommended, and into 
which we gladly entered. 




SIGHT-SEEING in a new country is a necessity, a 
doom: the city must be "done." Yet I maintain 
that it is a serious bore to do it in hot weather, and such 
weather we experienced in Russia when the air was at 
what seemed the boiling-point, with the pavement like a 
furnace, not a cloud in the sky, and the sun fierce and 

Where is the man who, in such circumstances, has not 
felt a nervous shiver, in spite of all his curiosity, as he 
stood at the hotel door, " Murray " in hand, about to pace 
it till dinner time through palaces, museums, churches, 
streets, and squares ? After all is finished with a late 
dinner, the irresistible doom still remains to spend the 
evening at Tivoli, the " gardens," or some of those places 



attached to every continental city, with crowds of people, 
coloured lamps, bands of music, chairs in the open air, 
waiters rushing to and fro with white aprons, and serving 
coffee, ices, or anything to refresh the languid nerves, 
or cool the parched throat; but all this must be " done," 
there is no help for it. 

"Why did you come abroad unless to see all that 
was to be seen ? ' asks the new traveller, up to any- 

It is possible, however, slightly to mitigate this 
heavy, imperious duty. 

Beware, first of all, of an enthusiastic, able-bodied, 
patient, determined sight-seer, who desires to obtain 
accurate information about everything, who is always 
discovering national peculiarities " things one never sees 
at home " who takes notes, asks innumerable questions, 
replies to which no memory can retain were it desirable 
to do so, and who insists on seeing everything in the 
museum down to the last Emperor's stocking, or in the 
palaces down to the Emperor's kitchen. Neither body 
nor spirit of ordinary mould can stand him this amount 
of excessive culture. 

Then again, if possible, never take a guide. Yet how 
seldom is it possible to get quit of that attached incubus 
with shabby-genteel sui'tout, gloves, and polished old hat. 
Who on going abroad ever thinks of the trials that await 
him with "commissionaires " or " valets de place 1" Can 
any man recall the architectural glories of the famous old 
continental towns, without the presence of a "commission- 


cire/' mingling itself in memory with the beautiful, like a 
patch on a royal robe. 

After considerable experience, we advise the solitary 
stroll through the town ; the discovery of sights for one's- 
self; the enjoyment of freedom; the delight of calm, un- 
disturbed observation ; the power to gaze into shop 
windows without being waited for, or of sitting alone in 
a cathedral, without an arm and finger of a guide com- 
pelling your eyes to follow their directions. Only be 
assured that everywhere human beings may be found who 
will tell you all you wish to know, in every place where 
you wish to wander, and where you seek to feel rather 
than to know. 

The language, alas ! that in Kussia is a fearful demand. 
French and German go far, but when Russ is required, 
you must get Mr. Schaff to accompany you. But let this 
be the last resource of desperation. Fortunately for us, 
we had a perfect guide in one of our travelling companions 
who knew Bussia and the Russians. 

Now, I will not trouble my readers by dragging them 
after me through all the sights of St. Petersburg and 
Moscow ; this would be almost as bad as driving through 
their streets in a drosky. Let me just give an abridged 
catalogue of the chief things which I saw. 

In St. Petersburg I visited the principal churches, 
specially St. Isaac's, great in granite, magnificent in 
malachite, and hoary in nothing save superstition ; with 
the Kazan church draped with innumerable banners 
taken in war never did an English flag form a part io 


any such collections ! with keys of many fortresses, 
the baton of Davoust, dropped in his cold race from 
Moscow to Paris. 

I <saw in these churches the most august services of 
the Greek communion, getting my pocket picked at the 
most solemn of them. 

I paced through the Winter Palace, from room to room, 
from bedroom to bedroom, saw all the glories of lapis- 
lazuli and crown jewels ; I revelled among the very 
beautiful and choice pictures of the Hermitage, one 
fine building at least ; the citadel, with its mint, was 
not neglected ; and I stood among the tombs of the 
Romanoffs beside the sleeping body of Peter the Great, 
great in stature, in resolution, in genius, in whim, in 
war, in shipbuilding, in city-building, and wood-turning ; 
the tornbs also of Paul, the madman and murdered; of 
Catherine, great in genius and in crime ; Alexander, 
the hero of the great war, overcome by the talk of 
Napoleon on the Niemen raft, and paying him back 
at the old Kremlin ; and last of all, the tomb of Nicholas, 
the grand despot, who died of his wounds in the 

Ah ! it was sad to see, as I entered that church, the 
widow of Nicholas coming out of it, old, infirm, tottering, 
and agonized by cancer, taking her last look where her 
once mighty " Czar of all the Russias " lay cold and 
senseless as a stone, and where she has since joined him. 
Oh, sickness, pain, and death ! what republican levellers 
are these of ns all, and how they unite us more than 


armies or fleets can do, by the tender bonds of sympathy 
and pitying love ! 

I need not say that I wandered through the busy 
streets, paused before the Admiralty, admiring the noble 
Alexander column, and the long vista of the Nevski 
Prospect, and stood beside the statue of Peter the Great, 
whose chief interest to me was the memory of its picture 
at the corner of an old school atlas ; and I drove (that 
cannot be forgotten !) to the monastery of St. Alexander 
Nevski, and also through the wild islands, the finest 
park I have ever seen near a great city, rejoicing in the 
woods and in the flashing streams of the noble Nevas that 
sweep through the Delta. 

We visited all or several of the islands Kammenoi, 
Yelaginskoi, Yelagin, Krestorski, Yassali Ostroff, Pe- 
trosky, Aptekarskoi, &c., pausing, as the wont is in the 
evening, to see the glorious sunset from the nearest point 
to the Baltic ; and I wandered through the best sight of 
all to study Eussia and mankind, the Bazaars, the Gos- 
tinnoi Dvor, the Appraxin Rinok, and Tshukin Dvor 
those worlds of everything bought or sold in Russia by 
tens of thousands of dealers ; and I paced down the 
Nevski Prospect more than once ; and I visited the 
museum, and actually saw, not only the skeleton, but 
the skin and hair of a brute, known to all schoolboys aa 
the Siberian mammoth, which trod the earth, ate, slept, 
giew old and stupid, and finally died, before Adam was 
born ! 

Is the reader wearied of this catalogue ? 



Yet I am not half done, for I also went twenty miles 
in one direction to see the Rrtyal Palace of Tzarskoi Selo, 
built by Peter the Great, with its amber room, its museum 
full of every species of arms from every nation that ever 
fought, where the Duke of Wellington's sword and Kos- 


ciusko's sleep together as harmless as two primroses ; 
and in the grounds of which is the summer-house where 
that old randy, Catherine, used to entertain company 
round a table so constructed that every plate descended 
by machinery to the kitchen, was filled and returned, 


without the necessity of any servant entering the room, 
which was a great advantage to the morals of the ser- 
vants ; and finally for this sight-seeing puts one out ot 
breath I visited another palace on the left shore of the 
firth going to Cronstadt, called Peterhoff, built by the 
half-mad Czar Peter, in which is still shown his bed, and 
dirty flannel night- cap lying on his pillow ; and another 
palace in the same place, where the royal family reside 
in summer, which has grounds with no end of splendid 
jets-d'eau, bands of music, Circassian guards, and fine 

This was a small portion of St. Petersburg sight- 
seeing without a word of Alexandrofski and old General 
Wilson ; and besides these, all Moscow is before us yet, 
and Moscow has its Kremlin, worth all St. Petersburg 
put together. 

But before we part for the present, please, reader, take 
in fancy a chair with me on the balcony, entered from 
the dining-room, on the second story of Miss Benson's 
excellent boarding-house. 

The guests who are seated beside me and in the room 
are all English, with one exception, who shall be men- 
tioned. Almost all of them are commercial men. Two 
or three of them with unrevealed names are probably not 
BO. They maintain the usual silence and reserve of 
Englishmen on their travels ; talk among themselves, 
and gaze around them with eyes educated to express a 
vacanf stare. Yet these are very likely fire fellows, if 
you only knew them. They have travelled bsforo 


have just come from a fishing tour in Norway, nave 
" done " Sweden, Finland, and intend visiting the great 
fair of Novgorod. They study to appear unconscious of 
the presence of any other human being in the room, and 
it is to be presumed that " you must love them, ere you 
know that they are worthy of your love." Pray don't 
trouble them, and they won't trouble you. Yet, ten to 
one the ice will be broken between you, if you are not 
intrusive, and you will find Jones and Robinson right 
good fellows. 

Sitting in the corner of the balcony, slowly whiffing 
his cigar, is a British naval officer who has been for 
many months in St. Petersburg. He was one of the 
commissioners for arranging the boundary between Turkey 
and Persia. He, too, is silent and reserved, though an 
Irishman ; but only draw him out, and you will soon 
discover what a mine of inexhaustible information there 
is in him, and what sly, pawky humour. 

What part of the earth does he not know ? He will 
tell you the soundings of every mile in the Gulf of 
Mexico ; and there is hardly a spot from Labrador to 
New Zealand which does not suggest a story. For 
years he has wandered with the Arabs of the Desert, 
from Bagdad to the ruins of Babylon. The Sheiks 
Hassim and Selim, and evsry vagabond who wanders 
over Mesopotamia, are his familiars. No one, except 
perhaps " Hakim Ross," the famous Scotch doctor of 
Bagdad, knew them better. A most agreeable companion 
is tho captain. 


Gliding in on noiseless tread is an old Russian man of 
science. He dines daily at this table. Why, no one 
knows, for the English alone frequent it. " The Pro- 
fessor" is upwards of seventy, but is still hale and 
active. What has he not seen ? Whom does he not 
know ? What scientific meeting of savans was ever held 
in Europe without " our distinguished friend from St. 
Petersburg ' being among them ? What invention of 
any great importance was ever patented, that the in- 
ventor did not find a card and letter of introduction pre- 
sented by " Professor " from St. Petersburg ? Is 

the Great Eastern commenced, finished, launched the 
Professor is there at each of these moments of her 
existence. Is the Transatlantic telegraph laid ? He is 
the first at Valentia, and the last to leave. "Please 
transmit the names of the Royal Family of Russia," he 
whispers to the clerks. He is sure to receive one of 
the first messages transmitted, and shows it to the 

Oh, how simple he is a child mere scientific 
curiosity ; but is he not wide awake ! He knows far 
more of persons and things in every part of Great 
Britain than any inhabitant of the nation does. Yet 
ask that man one question about Russia try, if you 
can, and screw one ounce of information out of him 
interrogate him about serfage, the political liberty, or 
any other question oh, what ignorance seizes him I 
How defective his memory becomes ! He does not 
know ; he does not remember. He regrets to be unable 


to inform yon. He has indeed no information on such 
points ! Most amiable, accomplished, and learned, yet 
ignorant professor ! I mention him merely as a type of 
a large class of Russians. Their rule is "get" (never 
" give ") all thou canst. 

* High Heaven rejects the lore, 
Of nicely calculated less or more." 

No wonder such persons should be considered " spies." 
If we conclude that they are not, no thanks to them for 
so favourable a judgment. But look abroad 1 

Below is the street, with a drosky-stand, bounded 
fifty feet across by the granite quay, and beyond, the 
Neva flowing past, broad, deep, and swift. There are 
no vessels so high up, except a steamer or two on the 
opposite wharf. 

" What a stupid, dull place," exclaims the naval officer ; 
4t how I hate it I " 

"And I." 

" Ditto, ditto," exclaim others. 

" Please give me a light for my cigar," asks a com- 
mercial man of his neighbour, " I am dying of ennui." 

"What a glorious evening! What a sunset! Only 
look ! ' cries an enthusiastic new-comer. 

It is indeed a glorious evening. Just watch across the 
Neva the remains of the sunset over Vassali Ostroffl 
What a marvellous combination of colour in the sky! 
How deeply calm and lovely are the heavens, from the 
horizon to the zenith 1 What exquisite colouring of blues, 


purples, reds, yellows, greens, and tints of yellow- green , 
with broad streaks of light, widespread oceans, golden 
islands, amethyst promontories, unfathomable abysses of 
glory all are there, and they will remain there till 


early dawn, at two o'clock, in unchanged, undecaying 
beauty, while we bid them good-night, and go sleep ! 

I confess to the disappointment which I have always 
experienced when comparing any place I have ever 
visited with the best descriptions of it which I had 
previously read. 

The pictures drawn by the writers, or perhaps these as 
misrepresented by the mind of the reader, have never at 
once adjusted themselves to the actual reality. 

A revolution is necessary, in order to exchange the old 
image of the fancy for the new one of the eye. Moun- 
tains, lakes, and rivers, require a new arrangement 
yet the descriptions may have been admirable, and, when 
read on the spot, have probably assisted in pointing 
out beauties and features of the landscape which other- 
wise might have escaped our notice. With this expe- 
rience I will not attempt to describe in detail, but only 
very generally, what I saw in St. Petersburg and 

At the beginning of the last century, the site on which 
the capital is now built was a dreary morass, shaded by 
the primitive forest, and, like a huge black sponge, was 
charged with moisture from absorbing, since creation, the 
waters of the Neva that flowed through it and over it as 
they pleased. 



The Czar Peter, a giant man, with a giant's will, hoots, 
and walking stick, and with a genius which bordered on 
insanity, determined, as all the world knows, that here 
should he built the capital of his Empire. And so, after 
having learned shipbuilding and other useful handicrafts, 
while he lived in that small wooden house in Holland 
which I have visited with all tourists to that wet, flat 
land of ditches, canals, and windmills the said Peter 
built a similar hut among the marshes of " the Islands * 
of the Neva, and began to drive piles, build quays, and 
accumulate stones, to rear a new Amsterdam. 

Peter determined to have ships, to beat the Swedes, and 
thus gain the command of the Northern Sea, and open a 
grand gate to his future empire how much greater since 
his day ! and also to have always open a back-door to 

The genial spirit of the great man is well illustrated 
in his reception of the first ship which entered his new 

The story is told how a ship was sailing in the northern 
seas, loaded with cargo for the market of Revel, at that 
time a notable and flourishing port. The cargo was 
valuable, and the time to reach the port for the market 
was short. 

" If the wind hold fair," said Auke, the owner and 
helmsman of the ship, to Karl the merchant-owner of its 
cargo, " we shall make the port before noon to-day. 
Yonder is the gulf just coming in sight." 

The wind was then doubtful, but soon it rose into a 


gale. Long before noon the sea and wind and clouds 
seemed mingled in a common fury. 

Through the storm, Auke heard the sound of a bell- 
*' A bell ! " cried he, " there's a ship somewhere in trouble.'* 

He put his ship about in the direction of the sound. 

" What are you doing ? ' said Karl. 

"Doing? I am steering for that ship." 

" Steer for Revel, Auke, I command you, steer for 
Revel; we shall miss the market, and I'm a ruined 
man! ' 

" Heaven help you, then ! " said Auke firmly, " for I am 
for that ship." 

At this moment a small boat was sighted. It was fixed 
on a bank. Two or three miserable men clung to its 
rigging, and mountain breakers washed over it. 

" Out with the boat," cried Auke, and the sailors looked 

Karl protested that it was madness. " What 1 lose 
the market, and ship, and all I ' 

" Lose everything, sir, but self-respect," said Auke, 
fixing his eye so as to bring his ship as near as he dare 
come to the wreck. " I cannot leave them, sir ; I won't ! 
It may be your plight and mine some day. Man the 
boat 1 " 

The sailors obeyed. Auke left the helm with the 
mate, and himself took charge of the boat for the rescue. 

Surely it was an awful yet grand sight even to Karl, 
to see the brave man bent on his mission of mercy, in hifl 
tiny boat, amid that terrible sea. 


One by one the miserable fellows were got from the 
rigging, and Auke and his prize were safely on board his 
ship again. 

But now the chance of the market was gone. They 
had missed their tide, got themselves into the teeth of 
the wind, and were bound to put for shelter into the 
Neva, a Russian river on which the Czar was then build- 
ing his new town. 

Karl was, therefore, still more angry with his helms- 
man, and said to him, " The cargo will be robbed, and we 
shall be made into serfs, and compelled to work on the 
walls of the town." 

" Well, well," said Auke, " we've done our duty, what- 
ever comes. I could not leave that ship." 

Karl said no more. The ship was now flying before the 
storm at a terrific speed, Auke keeping her head to the 
river's mouth. 

Now, on* month before this, Peter the Great had laid 
the first stone of St. Petersburg. There was no town 
yet, and Peter the Great had not yet earned the name of 
Great. He was very little known, and the town he was to 
build was less known. 

For the new town, however, these disappointed, storni- 
d riven seamen were unconsciously making as fast as their 
canvas would carry them. This canvas was no sooner 
seen at the little town of St. Petersburg than a great 
stir arose. 

" Please your Majesty," said one of the excited courtiers 
of the Czar, " there is a large ship standing in the Neva.'* 



" Snip ! " replied the Czar; " the first to my town; 
it must be honoured. Where is it ? Get me out a hoat." 

The boat was got out, and richly-clad courtiers and 
officials accompanied the Czar to go on board the new 

Karl saw the approaching boat. " There they come," 
said he, pale with fear, " as I said. That's you, Auke." 


Auke himself now began to fear, and was half disposed 
to put Lis ship round and face, as best he could, the 

Second thoughts prevailed, and the brave helmsman 
uv.-aited, with Karl, his fate. 

By this time Peter was at the ship's side. Karl met 


him, and implored mercy, and blamed poor Auke. 
" We've missed our market at Revel," said he, " and 
have put in only for shelter. Pray let us shelter, your 
Majesty ! " 

" No fear, brave fellows. Welcome, welcome to my 
new port. Your ship is the first bark that ever sailed to 
my new town. Henceforth she is duty free, whatever 
she brings for a cargo. Come to my town, and we'll 
toast to your health." 

Karl and Auke landed, the rescued crew landed too. 

Karl's cargo was bought at a price which more than 
satisfied him, and the trade which then began made him 
one of the wealthiest merchants of Europe, and the town 
one of its wealthiest ports. 

We may in passing add that Auke's words, when full 
of fear he sailed up the Neva, often came to Karl, " Well, 
well, we've done our duty, whatever comes ; " and no man 
more frequently in public and in private gave the advice 
to the young, " Well, well, do your duty, whatever comes." 

Peter ordered every strange ship to bring thirty 
paving stones as a part of her cargo, and every boat ten, 
and every land carriage three, and the stones accumu- 
lated, and the city was built. All his plans succeeded. 
When he beat Charles xn. at Pultowa in 1709, he 
exclaimed that " the foundations of St. Petersburg at 
length stood firm." 

He fought many enemies, but the Neva was his greatest, 
and may yet prove one of the most invincible if provoked 
by any opposition of the Baltic. Twenty-five feet of rise, 



such at has occurred, will probably decide the battle 
against the capital of the Czars. But for more than a 
century and a half Peter's plans have beat the Neva's 

Upwards of 600 streets cover the surface of the morass, 
12,000 public and private conveyances drive over it, 
11,000 shops and stalls adorn it, and half a million of 
people live upon it. 

But, alas 1 the morass has so far its triumphs. If a 
pit is dug in any part of the town, three feet deep, the 
water oozes from its sides and bottom. This probably 
affects the health of the population, as the deaths every 
year exceed the births by 8,000. 

Knowing the admiration which most travellers have 
expressed for St. Petersburg, I &in almost afraid to 
acknowledge my great disappointment with it. It by 
no means came up to what I expected irom the descrip- 
tion I had read, or the " illustrations ' I had seen 
of it. 

The finest view, I think, is from the centre of the 
Admiralty, in that grand open space where 100,000 men 
may be manoeuvred. In front is the Nevskoi Prospect, 
one of the widest, streets in Europe, and stretching in a 
straight line for three miles. To the left is the noble 
Alexander column, flanked on one side by the Winter and 
Hermitage Palaces, and on the other by the handsome 
quadrant of public offices, opening by a large arch into 
streets beyond, having on its summit a car of victory. 
The extreme right of the view, and of the place, if 


bounded by the buildings of the Holy Synods, and the 
farthest angle filled up by St. Isaac's Cathedral. 

The open space on the opposite side to St. Isaac's, and 
next the Neva, is marked by the statue of the Czar 
Peter; while beyond the broad, noble river itself appear 
the long buildings on the quays of the islands. There is 
no doubt a vastness in the scale of this Place d'Armes 
which is imposing. There are, moreover, 'details in this 
great whole which stand minute examination. St. Isaac's 
Church which by the way cost about, as some say, 
16,000,000 ! is a stately and solid building without, 
but too bizarre within, and too over-loaded with gildings, 
and too flash with colour, to produce the solemn effects 
of York or Westminster as a place of worship. It is, 
however, admirably adapted for those spectacles in which 
the Greek Church delights. 

The Hermitage Palace, with its noble staircase and 
magnificent collection of paintings, is worthy in every 
respect of a great capital ; nor is there any monolith in 
Europe to be compared with the Alexander Column, the 
shaft alone being eighty feet of unbroken polished granite. 
But in spite of all this, and much more which might be 
said in favour of other views and of particular objects, 
the general impression which the whole made on mo 
irresistibly was that of a rapidly-got-up city, with a 
singularly waste and unfinished look about it, barbaric 
vastness and oriental display, without real, endurable, 
unmistakable grandeur. The platform or base-line from 
which the buildings spring is ugly, being a desert of 


uneven stones, full of mud or dust-holes, open water- 
ways, and undulations, excruciating to the miserable 
travellers in a drosky. This sadly mars the general aspect. 

The vast majority of the palaces are mere brick and 
stucco, with a very decayed, shabby look about them, 
while the immense space seems to dwarf every building 
into paltry dimensions, and themselves to appear empty 
of people, who are but dots on their acres of surface. 

The Nevskoi Prospect has nothing very striking in it, 
except its breadth and length. The shop-windows are 
small, owing, I presume, to the necessities of winter ; 
the show of goods is commonplace ; the pavement, 
wretched and uncomfortable, made up of round, flinty 
stones, or uneven blocks of wood ; the equipages are 
mean ; the passengers, on the whole, poor looking ; while 
every street seems to end at last in wretched houses, 
dreary spaces, with horses, carts, and all sorts of rubbish; 
and, finally, to be lost in "nowhere," unless in the 
primeval forest or morass. 

Then there is the absence of monumental interest. No 
doubt, to the native of Russia, many " vitches," and 
" ditches," and " offs," are full of patriotic remem- 
brances. But most travellers, like myself, have never 
heard of these names, or the deeds which have made 
them illustrious, performed beyond the Caucasus. 

The Czars are, in fact, the nation to a stranger. One 
knows and hears only of them the great, the mad, the 
bad, the murdered, from Peter down to our late enemy 
Nicholas, who combined not a few of these characteristics. 



The associations which chiefly fill the mind are connected 
with immense armies, distint conquests, Cossacks, the 
knout, serfs, political criminals, Siberia, with a Czar 
over all, and a background of bribery, and of political and 
moral corruption, which darkens the whole Russian sky. 

The finest sights in St. Petersburg are the great 
bazaars and the islands. The former are thoroughly 






Russian and oriental, and there is no stroll so interesting 
as through those interminable arcades, perfectly sheltered 
from the rain, and admitting as much daylight from above 
as is desirable, with the open warehouses, containing 
every article bought and sold over a counter in Russia, 
and swarming with the most motley assemblage of buyers ' 
and sellers to be anywhere seen. 



The drive through the is 1 and s was to me peculiarly 
interesting from its endless extent, the presence of uncul- 
tivated, untouched nature, with her Neva streams and 
quiet Baltic inlets, and primeval trees, and peasant-houses, 
as rude as if in a distant forest ; while everywhere are as 
unexpectedly met with, the country seats and beautiful 
cottages of wealthy citizens, and here and there cafes and 


theatres, and scenes of gay amusement, as false and 
gaudy as in the Champs-Elysees. On the whole, wild 
nature has the best of it. 

But perhaps the finest feature in St. Petersburg is the 
noble Neva ! The hotels are filthy ; the police, villains ; 
the droskies, tortures ; the palaces, shams ; the natives, 
ugly ; but the Neva seems to redeem all ! It flows on, 


deep, pure, rapid, proud, and majestic ; whether one 
gazes on its waters flowing beneath sun-set, crosses 
them in the light and painted ferry-boats, quafis them, 
or bathes in them, one is in no case disappointed. 

But why should we express any astonishment that 
this great capital should in any respect disappoint us ? 
The wonder rather is that such a city has risen in such a 
country in so short a time. Old General Wilson told me 
that he had, when a child, been spoken to by " Catherine 
the Great," whom he distinctly remembered, and she was 
married to Peter the Third, the grandson of Peter the 
First, who founded St. Petersburg. 




I LONGED to see the real old capital of Russia. Yet I 
had no preconceived idea of it in my mind, except 
that of an undefined picture of a mysterious old Kremlin, 
with flames and smoke surrounding it, and Napoleon 
beginning his terrible march from the unexpected cold. 
I was happy, therefore, to find myself in the train, which 
was snorting along its iron path en route to the Kremlin. 

I have little to say about the journey. It occupies 
about eighteen hours, the distance being 400 miles. 
The line is as straight as an arrow, and quite as unin- 
teresting. It passes through a forest as prosaic as a few 
brooms stuck in a marsh. No tunnel darkens it ; no 
cutting flanks it. Not a town is seen, along its course ; 
for though a few are stations, yet the station-house alone 



is visible. I would have liked to have stopped at Tver, 
on one of the branches of the Volga, and the starting 
point of the steam navigation down that noble river. 

The route is extremely comfortable by the railway to 
Moscow, the carriages, as everywhere else, being far 
superior to those in Britain, especially the second class. 
The officials are most civil. The refreshment rooms are 
equal to any in Europe, and the tea unrivalled. 


I cannot mention its name without expressing my 
thankful acknowledgment for this one unmatched Kussian 
luxury. The Russian tea, or " Tchai," is the product, I 
have been told, of provinces in China too far north to be 
able to supply the European markets through the southern, 
ports of the Empire. It is conveyed overland to Russia, 

MOSCOW. 101 

packed in skins, which are seen in the tea-shops, in 
parcels ahout a yard square. It is consequently more 
expensive than our tea, its price varying from 8s. to 
upwards of 20s. the pound. But a much smaller quantity 
is required to make a cup, or rather a tumbler, as it is 
only in such that tea is served in Russia. It is the 
universal and most refreshing beverage, and costs to the 
drinker, as far as I remember, about 6d. a glass. In 
some of the " Tractirs '" or restaurants of Moscow, such 
as the famous one near the Exchange, about forty pounds' 
weight of tea are consumed daily. 

The food supplied at the principal railway stations had 
nothing which I could discover very peculiar about it, 
except its general excellence. The Russian dishes, par 
excellence, must be demanded by the traveller before they 
can be obtained. 

In the best restaurants of Moscow, where one sees two 
friends eating with their spoons out of one tureen, he 
naturally assumes that this is a national rather than an 
individual custom ; and, when dining out, he may pro- 
bably be startled by his iced soup with cold salmon in it. 
But along the railway he is not reminded by the cooking 
of his distance from France or England, except by the 
high charges for wine above the former, and by the 
abundance of time granted at every station for meals, as 
compared with the latter. 

Next to tea, the common drink is excellent beer, or 
"piva," and a sour but not unpleasant acid decoction? 
void of alcohol, called quota. 


The supplies of fruit are neither cheap nor tempting. 
Most of it comes from the south. 

The stoppages on the railway are frequent and long. 
But a walk an.d saunter refresh the system, and I saw 
several really nice-looking young ladies, who were in the 
same carriage with us, employ these seasons of repose to 
smoke their cigarettes, which they did with such grace 
as unfortunately to tempt both strangers and foreigners to 
follow their bad example. 

I found myself early in the forenoon in the busy 
parlour of Mr. Billo, well known to all travellers to Mos- 
eow as a most civil landlord. 

" To the Kremlin ! ' was the first and anxious desire 
of our party. So to the Kremlin we went. 

How shall I describe it ? for it is unquestionably one 
of the most remarkable, odd, out-of-the-way, like-nothing- 
else spots I have ever visited, and indeed the thing to be 
Been in Moscow, if not in Russia. 

The first sign of the Kremlin, as we walked along the 
street towards it, was a high whitewashed wall, with 
Tartar-like embrasures, and separated from the town by 
an open boulevard. Beyond this nothing was visible; 
until, on passing through a gateway, behind which was a 
very small chapel, which seemed from its lamps, its 
pictures, and crowded worshippers to be some " holy 
place," we entered on what seemed a busy town. This 
was the " Kitai Gorod " or Chinese city. 

Proceeding along the narrow crowded street, we de- 
bouched into a vast oblong space, half a mile or so in 



length, and about half this or less in breadth. This wa& 
the krasnoi ploscliad (red place). 

The one side was bounded, opposite to us, and also to 
the right, by another high whitewashed wall, with towers., 
which contained the Kremlin proper ; the other side by 


the back of the low houses of the great bazaar. The end! 
to the left was occupied by that most fantastical and 
indescribable of all buildings, that compound of twenty 
domes of different shapes and sizes, of stairs, and chapels, 
and mass of colour, blue, green, yellow, white, red, and 
gilt ; that Tartar-like Chinese Pagoda (ridiculous were it 


not so venerated), and the venerable Basil, the Cathedral 
of St. Basil or Basiliki Blagennci. 

Nearly opposite this church is the sacred entrance to 
the Kremlin, by the Holy Gate or the " Spass vorota." 
Over it there hangs, under a glass, and before a lamp 
which burns from age to age, a picture of the Saviour. 
From various traditions, which need not here be enume- 
rated, every passenger, high and low, from the Emperor 
to the serf, must keep off his hat as he passes through 
this covered archway, which leads upwards, by a slight 
ascent of a few yards, to the acropolis and capital of 
Moscow. So have passed many a stately procession, 
many a weary pilgrim, many a conqueror and soldier 
from conquests extending from Paris to Persia, and from 
the Volga to the Amoor. 

Bareheaded, I found myself at last on the stone plateau 
of the old Kremlin. Anxious to get a bird's-eye view of 
the whole before examining any of its details, I directed 
my steps at once to the highest point in the city, the 
summit of the high tower of " Ivan Valiki," or Long 

But I could not help pausing as I recalled an early 
dream which, along with many others, was suggested 
by a dear old book I have long since lost sight of, called 
Ten Wonders of the World, a dream now realised in 
the "Great Bell of Moscow." There it lay, the " Tzar 
Kolokoi," or King of Bells, a huge inverted cup, twenty- 
one feet high, and upwards of sixty feet in circumference, 
whose very metal is worth 850,000, and with a piece 



out of its side which leaves a door open for easy access 
to the curious who wish to visit its ample interior. 
What a tongueless mouth ! What a dead thunderer ! But 
we must ascend the tower. We first pass a huge bell 


which in size looks like the eldest son or wife of the dead 
one below, weighing about sixty-four tons, and requiring 
three men to swing its clapper ; then up another storey, 
meeting about fifty more bells, diminishing in size as the 


summit of the tower is reached yet the least of them 

When the summit is at last attained, let a cursory 
glance only be given at the Kremlin below, and at Moscow 
beyond, through the clear, transparent, and brilliant 
atmosphere, and then, perhaps, for the first time, one 
feels amply repaid for coming so far to gaze on such a 
peculiar and wonderful spectacle. 

Immediately below is the flat summit of the low hill 
which is properly called the Kremlin or fortress, and 
which occupies about a mile square. Rising out of this 
flat plateau, and without apparent order, but closely 
grouped together, are about sixty gilded domes, marking 
the oldest and most revered churches in Russia with 
palaces for metropolitans, bishops, and czars, old as the 
Tartars, and modern as Nicholas ; with treasuries, 
arsenals, and nunneries. And then there are the walls 
of all the buildings whitewashed with snowy whiteness, 
topped with coloured roofs of every hue ; the vacant spots 
and small squares dividing the closely-packed buildings, 
occupied by thronging worshippers, soldiers, monks, nuns, 
and pilgrims, all clearly denned in their many shadows 
in the pure atmosphere ; while the visible portion of the 
wall, which bounds the view on two sides, is so singularly 
picturesque in old, curious watch-towers, mouldering 
turrets, all covered with coloured tiles all making up a 
most remarkable picture. But when the eye passed from 
the more immediate objects beneath, and took in the 
rude panorama beyond, the spectacle was magnificent. 


MOSCOW. 109 

On one side, the river Moskwa curled itself like a snake, 
one of its bends being immediately under the Kremlin 
walls. Farther away, a few miles to the right, rose a low 
ridge of hills or steep wooded banks, called the Sparrow 
Hills, whose base was washed by the river, from which 
the whole city first burst upon the gaze of Napoleon and 
his army ; and after visiting the scene, I can hardly 
imagine a more imposing view of a vast city. 

In turning to the other side, to gaze on the city from 
the summit of the tower, what can be finer ? It covers a 
great area for its population (which is only about 500,000), 
chiefly owing to the fact of most of the houses standing 
apart, and having gardens attached to them. 

The characteristic feature unquestionably of the city is 
its churches. How many there are of those I know not 
(it is said 600), for I tried in vain to count them. But 
as each has several copper-covered, gilded, or ornamental 
domes (generally five), with high gilded crosses, and these 
everywhere glittering in the sun, mingling with the green 
of the trees and the white of their houses, all form a 
most brilliant and singular panorama, spread over a great 
area. Add to this the domes of great monasteries, such 
as the Seminoff and Donskoi (sacred to the Don Cos- 
sacks), which gleam to right and left beyond the city, on 
the banks of the Moskwa, and the brilliant impression 
which the gazer receives from the summit of Ivan Valiki 
as deepened. 

It is a spectacle which one never tires of, and few 
travellers grudge the toil of a second ascent, at least, in 


even the hottest weather, to have the splendid vision re- 

Before leaving this " standpoint," the mystery of the 
walls within walls around the Kremlin is explained. 
These hut represent the defences built at different timef 
as the town extended beyond the "fortress," which occu- 
pied the summit of the highest point, for hill it can hardly 
be called, in the original Muscovite settlement of tha 
fourteenth century. 

Perhaps the reader asks, whether "the great fire" of 
1812, which roasted the French out of the capital into 
the frost, has not altered the features of the city ? 

I could see no evidences of the fire, nor were any 
changes in the town pointed out between what it was and 
is, which enabled me in the least degree to realise its 
effects. The Kremlin was saved. But the line of retreat 
which Napoleon himself was obliged to follow, in order 
to pass with his staff from the Kremlin to the Palace of 
Petrovski, in the northern suburbs, and from whence he 
gazed on the tremendous conflagration, is easily traced, 
and from its detour, indicates a great area of fire, which 
barred his progress by the more direct route. Nor has 
it in reality been ascertained with any certainty how the 
fire originated. 

Many of the romantic stories told about it have been 
denied. The Emperor Alexander repeatedly declared 
that he had never sanctioned it ; and the then Governor 
of Moscow, Bostopchin, who was thought to have first 
at hia own palace on fire, published a pamphlet, asserting 


fhat the whole thing was accidental ! Whatever glory, 
therefore, has been attributed to the Russians, for thia 
supposed grand sacrifice, has been thrust upon them by 
others, but rejected by themselves. 

But we must descend from Long John and examine the 
Kremlin, its churches, nunneries, palaces, treasury. 

Impossible ! The mere catalogue of its curiosities 
would occupy pages. We should be compelled to dege- 
nerate into the " Look now before you, and here you 
see,*' &c., of the penny showman. Yet, without doubt, 
a collection of objects are here congregated expressive of 
the history and rise of Russia. 

The palaces are extremely interesting. The New 
Palace has the most magnificent suite of apartments I 
have ever seen. The St. George's, Alexander's, St. 
Andrew's, St. Catherine's, in which the knights of those 
several orders are invested, are finer than any in St. 
Petersburg, and are not surpassed by any in the world. 
The old Tartar palace, with its low-roofed small apart- 
ments, almost closets, its narrow screw staircase to tha 
council-chamber, its thrones, beds, arabesque and fantas- 
tic ornaments on the walls of trees with birds, and fruits, 
squirrels, mice, painted in every colour, are all thoroughly 
Oriental and Moorish. It was from the roof of this palace 
that Napoleon first beheld Moscow, from within the walls ; 
and the view is superb. 

The treasury, again, is a world in itself of national 
curiosities. It contains, among other provincial wonders, 
crowns 01 ail her emperors, and those of the several 


countries they have conquered, including the crown and 
sceptre (broken, too !) of Poland ; crowns dating as far 
back as the twelfth century, and all sparkling with 
clusters of jewels of immense value and splendour. The 
thrones, too, are there one of massive silver, all en- 
riched with jewels on which successive czars have sat, 
most of them uncomfortably, I doubt not ; and huge 
gilded chariots, like those in old pictures of Lo*4 Mayor's 
shows, with wheels and harness suited to a menagerie, 
in which these bears of the north have driven ; and the 
clothes, which these same czars have worn on State 
occasions ; with things innumerable, including Napo- 
leon's camp-bed, and the chair which Charles XII. used 
at the battle of Pultowa. 

In passing out of this treasury, 900 cannon taken in 
war are seen arranged in the Place d'Armes. The most 
of them were taken from the French, in their retreat, by 
their victorious but barbarous pursuers I need hardly 
say, that no specimens of English cannon are there. 
These are guns too rare to be found in foreign arsenals. 
" Our national vanity is great ! " laments the foreigner, 
It may be so, but I trust our national gratitude is greater, 
Wellington never lost a gun. 

But I am forgetting the Kremlin. What else have we 
to see there ? Why, the valet de place tells us we " have 
seen nothing ; " and that, too, after pacing for hours, 
under oppressive heat " up-stairs, down-stairs, and in 
my lady's chamber." 

We have yet to see, he says, the Palace of the Patri- 

MOSCOW. 118 

arch, with its venerable public halls ; and the House ?f 
the Holy Synod, with its ancient library ; and its htJls 
with the two great silver kettles, and thirty silver jars, 
in which the holy oil, or " wir," is manufactured, having 
as its elixir vita drops of the oil from the flask used by 
Mary Magdalene when she anointed Christ's feet. This 
is sent to every part of the empire, to anoint infants 
when baptized, from the " vitches " of the Czar down to 
queer-looking creatures beyond the Caspian, among the 
forests of Siberia, near the walls of China, or on the 
shores of the Arctic Ocean ; and applied also to the 
dying, who are passing into the land where there is 
neither barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free. 

We have also to enter the Cathedral of the Archangel 
Michael, so holy to the Russians. Just glance at that 
fresco of Jonah, in which there are three Jonahs, each 
with his name over his head ; one Jonah thrown over- 
board, the other disgorged, and the other received by 
the King of Nineveh. What a delightful and primitive 
combination of ship, waves, whale, sailors, prophet or 
prophets, kings, and nobles, with Nineveh itself, in that 
space above the door ! Within are the tombs, side by 
side, like huge coffins, of the Russian monarchs down to 
Peter the Great. 

There is also the Church of the Annunciation, in which 
the czars are crowned, paved with jasper, agate, and 
cornelian (without beauty), having the throne of the 
czars, and relics without number, gold and silver counted 
by the pound weight, and with a picture of the Virgin 



Mother, painted by St. Luke the only real and authen- 
tic one, of course ; and with a real drop of blood, no 
doubt, which once belonged to John the Baptist. 

And after that we shall visit the great Military School, 
capable of drilling within its four walls, and beneath one 
roof, eight thousand men ; and the Foundling Hospital, 
and and 

In some such strain as this, our well-informed, intelli- 
gent bore, the valet deplace^ addressed us on the Kremlin, 
when the sun was pouring down its hottest rays, and 
these were reflected from the stone pavement, which 
glowed like a furnace. 

I have too intense a memory of the utter hopelessness 
of " doing " these wonders, and many more, satisfactorily 
to repeat the dose, even in fancy, to my readers. They 
are, I doubt not, almost as tired by this recital of the 
sights as I was by the reality. I resolved to take a 
Russian bath. 

" What like was it ? " 

Pardon me if I do not reveal the mystery, beyond 
stating that it was very hot, very soapy, very dear, very 
. and utterly indescribable. 




AN ordinary amount of common sense, apart from 
an ordinary amount of experience from travel 
in foreign countries, may suffice to teach a man the 
absurdity of giving forth his opinions, with the slightest 
confidence in their being founded on sufficient evidence, 
regarding the political or social condition, from his own 
observation, of any country which he has visited for a few 
weeks only. 

The first day I landed in the United States, I took my 
seat on the top of an omnibus by no means an aristo- 
cratic position, but a most interesting one in passing 
through the streets of a great city when my attention 
was called to the fact of the driver seating himself on the 
left or "off" side of the ample " Box." 



With the disposition of a traveller to watch for national 
characteristics, I was inclined to "book" this fact aa 
peculiar to drivers in America. But I thought it best, 
before doing so, to inquire into the cause of this unusual 

" Pray, why do you sit on that side ? " I inquired. 

" 'Cause, stranger, I guess I 'm left-handed 1 ' 

I gained some experience by this reply, and resolved, 
accordingly, never to generalize too hastily, lest I should 
make mere exceptions prove the rule of manners and 

I don't wish to forget this principle in presuming to 
speak about the Russians. But, just as a Parliamentary 
committee, which itself knows little of a subject, never- 
theless obtains information by examining competent 
witnesses, so may a traveller have opportunities abroad of 
examining those who ought to possess information from 
long residence, and whose evidence he has the means of 
constantly sifting, and in some degree of testing, by his 
own limited observation. Accordingly, I naturally em- 
braced every opportunity given me of ascertaining what 
those long resident in Russia knew about its people. 
Circumstances enabled me to come into contact with 
several well-informed persons, whose character for truth 
was above suspicion. 

Well, then, let me give my readers a specimen of one 
conversation of several I had with such witnesses. I 
do not pretend to give the very words, nor the exact 
sequence of the remarks. 


The dinner is ended ; the clatter of plates and of all 
the European languages has ceased ; the most of the 
guests have dispersed some have gone out on pleasure 
or business, some to read the newspapers in the next 
room, and others to arrange about their journey to the 
great fair, then going on at Nijni Novogorod. But at the 
end of the empty table, half a dozen Englishmen and 
Scotchmen have remained, by special invitation, to chat 
with the travellers who have brought some of them letters 
of introduction. 

One man has been twenty years at the head of pros- 
perous works for the manufacture of machinery ; another, 
nine years in a similar business ; another, fifteen years a 
superintendent of one of the largest cotton mills; two 
others, partners in an establishment which has neces- 
sitated a large amount of travelling for sixteen years in 
every part of Russia; while one or two more are 
acquainted with the country during a residence of 
several years, either in Moscow or in St. Peters- 

Such are the witnesses. Let us examine them on 
several points. 

We begin. 

"One hears a great deal about the Russian police," 
was remarked, "but it is difficult to know how far the 
stories recorded of them in anonymous books are true, 
or how far they may be the mere invectives or inventions 
of men who suffered righteously from them." 

44 A greater set of scoundrels don't exist I " pronounce 


my cotton friend , calmly and coolly, as if speaking from 
the heart. 

" Ha 1 ha I ha ! my boy, you are sore upon the point," 
said an acquaintance of his, sitting beside him. 

" Now do tell our friends about what happened to 
yourself the other day. It is a fair specimen of the set," 
suggests a third party. 

After some joking and coaxing, the story was told. 
But I wish my readers could have seen the figure of the 
splendid Yorkshireman who told it. He was upwards of 
six feet, with a bronzed, handsome face, and light curly 
hair, apd fists from whose grasp most men would shrink 
if they seized hi order to shake I I wish also, if the 
reader loves Yorkshire as I do, that he heard the story 
told in the dialect of the great county, so full of force and 

The story ran thus : The cotton mills had suffered, 
more than once, considerable losses in their cotton bales. 
It was difficult to detect the thief for no doubt the bales 
were stolen and difficult, when he was detected, to 
convict him. So utterly corrupt is justice, from the 
highest to the lowest, so combined are all interested 
parties to act solely with reference to their own probable 
gain in money, that it is always a very complex problem 
to solve, whether more is lost or gained by ever going 
into court in order to recover property. The bribery ip 
so immense, so shameful, and reduced to such a science 
and art, that the complainer is always in the dark ; for 
the police he employs to search, the advocate he employs 



to plead, the judge who tries the case each and all may 
be bribed by higher sums on the part of the defender than 
on that of the cornplainer. Therefore, in Russia alone 
can the rule be followed by selfishness, of permitting him 
who takes your coat to take your cloak also, rather than 
go to law. But in this case a carrier volunteered (for a 
consideration) certain intelligence regarding the missing 
cotton bags. 


It was thus discovered that the son of one of the 
leading merchants in Moscow, and a member of its 
highest " guild," had been in the habit of bribing the 
carriers of the cotton to drop a bag occasionally at a 
certain spot in a wood near the public road, and from 
which the " gentleman " picked it up shortly afterwards. 

Mr. S. laid his scheme of detection founded on this 


information. He armed himself with a loaded revolver; 
and hid himself in the wood, in the environs of Moscow, 
to watch his prey. The carrier appeared in due time ; 
dropped and concealed the cotton bale in the wood ; 
passed on ; and in a short time was followed by the 
young merchant in his drosky, accompanied by an empty 
cart. The bale was conveyed into the empty cart by its 
driver, and, along with the drosky and its driver, was 
proceeding on their journey, when the Moscow gentleman 
found himself suddenly seized by a huge man who 
sprang into his vehicle beside him, threatening to shoot 
him if he offered any opposition while pinioning his hands. 
A mouse might as well have opposed a wild cat ! Mr. S. 
drove him to the police-office of the district. 

Now it so happened that the head police-officer was 
bribed by Mr. S. 

" Bribed 1 " I exclaimed, interrupting his story ; " how 
could you do that ? ' A general smile prevailed on the 
countenances of the company, while Mr. S. replied 

" Every man must bribe in this country. It is a tax, 
understood and fixed. Unless merchants bribed the post- 
office " 

"At what rate?" 

" I know some houses that p>y about 1 a week; and 
the merchant who refused this would not get his letters 
until long after they were due. Unless we bribed the 
police, neither we nor they could live. For example, the 
police-officer I speak of only receives as his nominal 
salary say 100. But he has to keep four horses and 


two assistants, each at 50 per annum, while his allow- 
ance for his horse goes as his bribe to his superintendent. 
How then is he to live, unless we pay him ? We give 
him about 20 a year, and this is absolutely necessary to 
secure that his services shall not be against us." 

To continue the story. Mr. S. appeared with his 
prisoner at the bureau of the police-office, and found 
himself immediately charged by him with an attempt at 
murder, while he denied, at the same time, all knowledge 
of the transaction regarding the cotton, which he was 
ready to swear he had never seen or touched 1 

The tables thus seemed suddenly turned against th 
Yorkshireman. But while he, the young gentleman, 
was drawing up his protest and charge, the police- 
officer gave a sign to Mr. S. to follow him to the next 

"Pray, Mr. S., u-as your pistol loaded ? " 

" It was, and no mistake ! ' 

" Then draw the bullet instantly, or you will find your- 
self in a scrape." 

Mr. S. tried to do so in vain, but the policeman effec- 
tually aided him. They returned to the room, and the 
charge was presented. 

"I see," said the officer, "that you charge this highly 
respectable foreigner with a threat to shoot you 1 Pooh ! 
pooh 1 It was all a joke ! " 

" Joke ! I wish you had only seen him ! Joke 1 " 

" But are you sure there were bullets in his pistol ? 
Mr. S., please inform 1 me as to this fact." 


Mr. S. instantly handed the pistol to the policen,&n f 
And asked him to examine and decide for himself. 

*' I knew it ! The barrels are empty 1 I cannot 
tolerate this stupid charge ; it is malicious and shameful I 
Please compromise matters. I presume, Mr. S., you are 
willing to admit that there is no proof that this gentleman 
stole your cotton ? and you, sir," addressing the Russian, 
" must admit that there is no proof that Mr. S. intended 
to do anything else but to give you a fright." 

And so a compromise in these terms was agreed upon. 
But the policeman whispered to Mr. S. 

" Would you like to thrash the rascal ? for, if so, I can 
easily give you an opportunity of doing so, eh ? ' 

But Mr. S. declined the honour. " For," said he, as he 
told the story, " I knew that the policeman was another 
rascal, and that, if I had accepted the privilege offered to 
me, he would have kept it over my head for years, and 
threatened me with a trial ; and every time I attempted 
to leave the country the trial would be reopened anew, 
until they were heavily bribed to let me off without 
it I" 

So both parties left the office. But, as the door was 
closed behind them, the young Russian merchant, finding 
himself alone with Mr. S., put his finger to his nose and 

" When you wish to catch a thief again, pray let me 
advise you to take a little more time, to restrain your 
passion, to be more careful of evidence, and you may 
probably succeed ; in the meantime, I rattier think J hav* 


done you ! ' And with a triumphant laugh knd bow, 
bade Mr. S. a good afternoon. 

This fact, which had happened a few weeks before, is a 
fair specimen of the stories which were told illustrative of 
the police, and is characteristic of the whole system of 
" justice " from the highest to the lowest. There is 
nothing, in fact, in the civilized world more infamous 
than the execution of the civil and criminal law in Russia. 

One other trifling incident I cannot help recording. 

" Well, S.," asked one of the company, " how do you 
and the government doctor get on now ? ' 

" Better a little," replied S. " Do you know, I have- 
found out the reason why the fellow annoyed us so 
much, and made so many complaints. I knew he was 
a drunkard, and that he insisted on being supplied well 
with liquor as It-is bribe. So, as I did not drink myself, I 
hired a man, and paid him regular wages, to drink with 
the medical inspector. Was that not liberal ? But the 
rascal got offended, and determined to revenge himself on 
me, because I drank with him by proxy, and did not give 
him my own company ! ' 

" Are you afraid," I asked another person present, " ta 
travel on the roads at night ? " 

" Never, unless we meet the Cossack mounted police, 
who are sure to rob if they catch an unarmed traveller I ' 

So much for the police. But this led to a further 
conversation on the cotton mills, working classes, and 
general morality. 

There are in Russia about 140 cotton mills, containing 


1,600,000 spindles. Taking all things into account, tht 
protection of the trade raises the price of the article fifty 
per cent, above England. Smuggling, therefore, exists to 
a great extent. The workmen employed are serfs,* who 
generally live in the country, but leave their villages 
and their wives behind them to work for a time at the 
factories. Their wages amount to about 2 10s. monthly. 
Barracks are provided for the workmen. The work ifa 
continued by relays day and night. Out of 280 work- 
days, about 30 are fast or feast days, in which no work is 

The Russians have hitherto been unable to make 
good factory machinery ; any who have succeeded, 
apparently, in doing so, have really been indebted to 
England for its chief portions. 

The habits and morals of the working classes are of 
the lowest possible description. It would be impossible 
to publish in these pages the unquestionable facts illus- 
trative of their depraved condition. Virtue and truth 
seem scarcely known. As regards stealing, not one 
working man or woman is ever permitted to pass out of 
the premises without being carefully searched by persons 
employed for this purpose. In spite of this, they 
manage to pilfer cotton and other articles. Baths are 
regularly taken weekly, but during the other days their 
persons are filthy. They lie on bare boards, and never 

* This was written before 1863, 3n which year the serfs weiw 
emancipated ; but the improvement of their intellectual and moral 
condition will be a work of time. 



change their clothes. When a new and commodious 
lodging-house was built for the workmen of a well-con- 
ducted factory at Alexandrofski, near St. Petersburg, 
the workmen, after examining it, sent a deputation to 
the manager, who was my informant, asking him what 


additional wages he meant to give if they went to his 
new house ! 

But I have been given to understand that the habits of 
even the middle and higher classes of society in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg, with some exceptions, are said t& 


be as polluted as those of the serfs. The moral leprosy 
is covered with silk garments, and splendid uniforms, 
and highly respectable outsides, but there it is, never- 
theless, in all its vileness. I have never in Austria or 
France heard, from those best informed as to the state 
of national morality, of more corruption than exists in 
Russia. But it is impossible to enter into details on this 

Few things gave me a more painful impression of the 
morality of the people than the Asylum in Moscow and 
there is one as great in St. Petersburg for poor 
children. The building is magnificent, the education 
given in it excellent, and all its arrangements princely. 
Any child brought to it is at once received. I witnessed 
the process. Two women of the working classes brought 
each a child. The clerk handed a ticket, with a number 
attached to it, to be tied round its wrist ; a corresponding 
number was inscribed in the ledger. No questions were 

The women delivered up their children -with more 
indifference than most people would part with a cat or 
dog. The children are next day baptized and vaccinated, 
and though they may be afterwards claimed, yet the vast 
majority never are. About sixty children are each day 
thus received at this one institution. There were in the 
house about 800 infants, under the care of several hundred 
nurses. The whole number of children under the charge 
of the institution is 80,000 ! The vast majority are 
boarded out in the country districts. 


God preserve to us our family life ! And defend us 


from such premiums upon selfishness and immorality I 
The poor-laws are bad enough, but this is worse. 

But I am forgetting the group at the end of the table. 
A word or two more, ere we part. 

The authentic anecdotes related of the late Emperor 
during the Crimean war make it more than likely that his 
mind was latterly affected. 

Hi a fits of ungovernable passion, even with old Nessel- 
rode, were notorious. The victory on the Alma, which 
Nicholas at first would not believe, abusing the officer 
who brought him the despatch, was known by him for 
some days before it was made public. An American 
gentleman, who saw him almost daily among his troops, 
told me that so changed had he become during that 
short period, that, without knowing the cause, he had 
remarked to several friends that the Emperor must be 
severely ill. and that he looked like a dying man. 

The effect of his death was as if some great weight 
had been taken off society. All acknowledged his power, 
and felt the presence of a giant among them. But there 
was an intolerable sense of bondage experienced by all. 
.Liberty of speech was impossible. But since the acces- 
sion of the present Emperor, men can breathe and speak 
without fear of a secret police, of secret agents, or of a 
journey to Siberia. The liberty of the press is every 
day becoming more unshackled. The police laws, also, 
which affected the admission, residence, and departure of 
strangers, are being almost entirely done away with, and 


brought into harmony with the usages of other European 
countries. Let us not forget at what a late period of his* 
tory Russia has entered the European family of nations. 

The immense boundaries of Russia extend almost with 
an unbroken stretch over a hundred degrees of longitude, 
from the Baltic to the Rocky Mountains, and embrace 
more than the half of the northern portion of the habitable 
globe. They descend from the snows of the Arctic Ocean 
to the burning steppes of Asia. She reigns supreme over 
a vast and busy population, as well as over hordes of 
roving barbarians. 

Her means of internal communication by her numerous 
and gigantic rivers ; the facilities afforded by her plains 
and forests for railways and telegraphs ; her immense 
mineral riches and boundless plains of fertile soil ; her 
unassailable military position when on the defensive ; 
her almost unlimited command of men to supply her 
armies ; the subtlety, perseverance, and governing power 
of her officials ; and the hardihood of her people all 
promise a future for Russia which, without affording any 
great cause of alarm to Europe, affords great cause of 
joyful anticipation to herself, and to all who wish 
civilisation to supplant barbarianism. 

And if to this is added the hope of Christian truth 
imbuing a Church whose authority is acknowledged by 
eighty millions of the human race, we may well look 
with profound interest on all that is taking place ic 
Russia, and from our hearts wish her God-speed in the 
course on which she has entered. 





THE coast of Greenland is visited by the whaling ships 
which annually make their voyages to the icy seas of 
Davis' Strait and Baffin's Bay ; lately by the different ex- 
ploring vessels sent by the English and American govern- 
ments to search for Sir John Franklin and his missing 
companions ; and by the Danish ships which, during the 
navigable season, are dispatched to supply the settlements 
scattered along the coast with a renewed stock of pro- 
visions, and to carry back to Denmark the products of 
Eskimo hunting and fishing. 

Greenland belongs to Denmark, and its trade is mono- 
polized by the government, the Royal Danish Company 
yearly sending out ships freighted with European goods 
and provisions, and bringing back skins of the reindeer, 



seal, walrus, bear, &c., vast quantities of codfish, and 
occasionally dried salmon. 

The Danish settlements and habitations of the Eskimo 
are situated along the coast from Cape Farewell, the 
most southern point of Greenland, to lat. 73 N., and at 
each settlement a governor or chief factor resides with 
his small staff of Danish officials and workmen. Round 
them gather a mixed Eskimo population, subsisting by 
the chase, the results of which they bring to the Danish 
storehouse, and barter for goods and provisions. 

It was in the middle of July that I first saw the coast 
of Greenland. The mountains in the neighbourhood 
of Cape Farewell looked in the distance like the teeth 
of a jagged saw, peak after peak looming out of the 
mist, and showing their uneven tops covered with snow, 
which clothed their slopes down to the sea, or inland 
to the valleys lying between them and the mountains 
of the interior. No name seemed to be more inappro- 
priate than Greenland ; nothing appeared but dark rock 
and unsullied snow. On landing, however, I found some 
little vegetation. Greener than other Arctic lands it 
may be, but to one whose recollections were fresh 
of the pleasant grassy fields of our own country the 
name seemed a mockery. 

On a nearer approach to the coast, the low land 
appears stretching out as islands with interlying pas- 
sages and sounds, barren and bare enough in appear* 
ance, but free from snow during the summer. Nearer 
still, at the distance of a mile or so, there appears a 


considerable quantity of verdure among the small valleys, 
though the vegetation which covers them is of a brown- 
ish colour. Following the windings which are visible 
between the islands, we pass up the deeper fiords, where 
is the greatest quantity of vegetation to be seen in all 
Greenland : some six or eight miles up the fiords the 
land is even covered with stunted willow and birch 
bushes; these are the only representatives of "forests" 
in this barren land, and never attain a greater height 
than four feet. The hollows and slopes of the moun- 
tains are covered with loose stones of considerable size, 
barely hidden by these bushes. 

The vast icebergs which thickly strew these seas 
have their origin from the ice-fiords and the coast 
glaciers, thus : this frozen mass being constantly pushed 
forward, a sort of outward draught takes place, its 
surface becomes crevassed and fissured by passing over 
uneven ground, and the exposed face of the glacier being 
eaten away by the warm water at its base, becomes 
top-heavy, breaks away from the mass, and a new 
child of the Arctic IB launched into the world. 

The icebergs vary in size according to the glaciers 
from which they have been formed and the conditions 
under which tfcey have been separated. 

Imagine St. Paul's Cathedral, St. George's Hall, or 
Holyrood Palace floating upon the surface of the water, 
having five or six times its own size underneath : picture 
it made of the purest white marble, carved into innumer- 
able domes, turrets, and spires. Again, imagine somt 


vast island undulated, caverned, and massive, or some 
immense but mastless Great Eastern, glistening in the 
sun, reflecting hues oi' the emerald, beryl, and turquoise; 
here you may see one towering heavenward 

" As a stately Attic temple 
Bears its white shafts on high ; ** 

then another without a single elevation, presenting to 
the eye nothing but an irrogular crevassed surface. 

The spired bergs are not more beautiful than danger- 
ous ; the ice navigator knows that they may turn over at 
ny moment; the water in which they float gradually 
melting that portion which is submerged, the centre of 
gravity slowly moves up toward the water-line, and the 
slightest shock is sufficient to upset the whole mass. 

The solid, squarish bergs are those used by the ship- 
masters as temporary moorings. Drawing perhaps some 
800 to 1,000 feet they ground and act as anchors to the 
Bliips. On these bergs are usually found small lakes of 
fresh water, the ice being of land origin. The constant 
action of the powerful Arctic sun thawing the surface, the 
water either collects in pools or miniature lakes, OP 
trickles down the side. 

It is almost impossible for those who have not seen 
them to imagine the sublimity and grandeur of a belt of 
these ice-islands. Their fantastic shapes traced out in 
pure glistening white against a pale blue sky, floating in 
water of a still deeper hue, form a picture which but few 
artist* could paint. They strew the Arctic seas in 



thousands, and float south to be dissolved in the warm 
waters of the Atlantic, becoming the dread of the navi- 
gator of the Newfoundland banks. 

The reader may try to conceive the difficulties and 
dangers which beset vessels navigating the northern seas, 
and picture the imminence of the peril should they 
encounter a heavy gale. The air thick with fog and 
Bnow-flakes, the ropes stiff with frozen spray, the bitter 
temperature benumbing the hands and feet, the ship 
surrounded by huge mountains of ice, roaring and crash- 
ing, heaving and rearing, one against the other, and 
against the poor ship ; now she is tossed against the ice, 
now the ice-blocks beat and bump against her side, 
masts and yards crack, bells ring, men shout, the storm 
howls, every minute seems to be the last 

" And the boldest hold their breath for a time.'* 

As we approached the Spitzbergen ice-stream, wa 
found the sea strewed with detached pieces of ice, with 
occasional small packs some four or five miles in extent, 
their colour varying from the purest white to a deep blue, 
according to the shape and the reflected light. The 
waves surging against the masses sounded like the dash- 
ing of the sea against a rocky coast. The wind falling 
calm, we were enveloped in fog, and had to get up steam 
to urge our way through this frozen barrier, which often 
fouled the ship, and caused her to shake from stem to 
stern, and at times altogether arrested her progress. 

The most fantastic shapes were at times assumed by 



the ice. I remember one group in particular, the gro 
tesqueness of which was remarkable. It consisted of a 
gracefully-formed pelican of ice, escorted by a huge water- 
jug, and both apparently surrounded by barn-door fowls. 
All round these were multitudes of the most queerly- 
shaped monsters : you can hardty mention one family of 
animals which did not seem to have its icy representative, 


the oddity of their forms causing as much amusement as 
the beauty of their tints occasioned admiration. 

Having passed through this ice-stream, we still con- 
tinued our landward course. Finding, however, by the 
afternoon of the 18th July, that we could not get sight of 
the shore, we shortened sail, let down steam, and lay-to 
till the fog should clear off and show us our position. 


This it did at six P.M., revealing a beautiful coast-line as 
it lifted off the land, the landscape bounded by the far 
inland white mountain-tops, clear cut against the deep 
blue sky. Farther north, along the coast, we saw the 
"blink* of the glacier, which there stretches along, or 
rather forms the coast-line, for eight or ten miles, re- 
lieving, with its gleaming whiteness, the sombre aspect of 
the black and barren peaks of primary rock on either side. 

And now we saw a couple of kajaks coming off towards 
the ship. These kajaks are from eighteen to twenty feet 
long, tapering to a point at both ends like a weaver's 
shuttle, some fifteen inches wide, and eight or nine deep, 
flattish above and convex below. The frame is made of 
laths of wood, and covered over with sealskin prepared 
by the Eskimo, and sewed on whilst wet. A small hole 
is left in the middle, surrounded by a ledge ; into this the 
native "wriggles," sitting with his body at right angles to 
his legs; then fastening his sealskin shirt, or "jumper," 
he forms a continuous water-tight surface up to his throat. 

Seated thus, with his "payortit," or paddle, held by 
the middle in his hands, by alternate strokes with its 
right and left blades he propels the canoe at the rate of 
six to eight miles per hour, passing through waves and 
encountering seas which, in an ordinary boat, would b 
neither safe nor pleasant. 

These natives brought us some eider-duck eggs, and 
received biscuit in exchange. We then stood in toward 
Frederikshaab, eight or nine bergs appearing in sight, but 
nope very close to us. 




evening was beautiful, and seemed warm and 
-*- agreeable compared with the previous one. Cau- 
tiousl}* sailing between the islands, guided by an Eskimo 
pilot, we reached our destination in the morning, and 
moored near the Danish brig which had arrived with 
provisions, &c., for the use of the settlement. We were 
at anchor in a small cove, flanked on either side by hills 
600 or 800 feet high. The end of the bay opened to the 
interior, which, some two or three miles off, was shut in 
Tby mountains. 

Scarcely was our anchor down before the ship was 
surrounded by kajaks. Soon numbers of women, girls, 
and children trooped along the rocks abreast of the ship 



to the nearest point, where they sat laughing and jabber- 
ing to their hearts' content. 

On the ladies of the community being pointed out to 
me, I was rather incredulous ; a glance at the portraits 



will show the reason. The only mark which distin- 
guishes their dress from that of their lords is the presence 
of a " top-knot." Their hair, instead of being dressed ia 


the ordinary way, is drawn upwards to the crown of the 
Head, and then tied in a knot ; this is surrounded by a 
ribbon, the colour of which varies with the social position 
af the wearer. Some of then, displayed considerable 
taste in the selection of the pattern of the ribbons, which 
are, of course, imported from Denmark, and are very 
probably of English manufacture. 

We were speedily visited by the Danish officials, 
namely, the chief factor, his assistant, and the priest. 
Dr. Eink, the Koyal Inspector of South Greenland, who 
happened to be at the settlement at the time, also came 
on board. We found these gentlemen very agreeable and 
intelligent. The inspector, a man of high scientific ac- 
quirements, was promoted to his present position after 
having been for many years engaged in a mineralogical 
survey of Greenland. Pastor Barnsfeldt, who, with his 
wife, had been for some time resident in the country, gave 
us some interesting statistics, illustrating the social con- 
dition of the Eskimos. The assistant-factor had only 
been two or three years in Greenland. He had formed 
one of the noble band of volunteers engaged in the war 
with Sleswig and Holstein ; he was a knight of the order 
of Dannebrog, and wore his decoration. Chief- trader 
Holier, father-in-law to the inspector, for many years 
resident in the country, was becoming tired of its 
monotony, and anxious to return to Copenhagen. 

Accompanied by these gentlemen, we went on shore, 
and partook of their hospitality. 

The houses of the officials are ail built of wood, thicKiy 


coated on the outside with black tar, the windows and 
doors being double, and painted white. They are kept 
spotlessly clean, according to the custom of the Scandi- 
navian peoples. The beams supporting the ceiling are 
plainly seen, giving to the room an aspect not unlike the 
ward-room of a man-of-war. The side-panels are painted 
blue or green, the rest of the walls being white. The 
stove in the corner is brightly polished ; the floor with- 
out carpet, and beautifully clean ; the windows adorned 
with a few European garden flowers, which bloom with 
difficulty in this inhospitable region. 

After luncheon, we walked some way into the interior, 
visiting, on our way, some of the huts. These are essen- 
tially dirty and disagreeable to one unused to their 
ways. The better class have a wooden frame and a 
window ; but the greater part have only a shell made of 
sods and earth, with a few props of wood or bones of 
tke whale in the inside. The approach to the interior is 
through a narrow passage some three feet and a half high, 
opening into the hut, which rises to an elevation of five 
feet or so. A raised dais serves the purpose of a seat by 
day and a bedstead by night. On this dais the ladies sit, 
tailor-fashion, and occupy themselves in domestic work. 
Cooking is performed by means of a stone lamp hanging 
at one extremity of the platform, and supplied with 
blubber and moss. 

In a small hut of about six feet square, seven, eight, of 
ev*p a Jarger number of persons will contrive to exist ; 
and as personal cleanliness is not a virtue practised by 


the Eskimos, the heat and the offensive smell may more 
easily be imagined than described. The ablutions of the 
men generally consist in moistening their fingers with 
saliva, and rubbing the salt spray from their faces ; the 
mothers use their tongues, like cats, to clean and polish 
(Leir children. 

The men do not dress their hair in any particular 
fashion, merely shortening it over the forehead, and 
allowing it to hang down on the cheeks and neck ; the 
women often wrap a handkerchief round their heads to 
keep them warm, as the drawing up of the hair to the 
crown leaves the greater part of the head uncovered. 

The shape of the Eskimo face is somewhat oval, the 
greatest breadth being below the eye, at the cheek bones; 
the forehead arches upward, ending narrowly ; the chin 
is a blunt cone ; the nose is more or less depressed, broad 
at the base, with somewhat thickened nostrils ; the lips 
thickish, but the teeth generally very white and regular. 

Occasionally, among the young women, we saw 
a good-natured, pretty face ; but the old women are 
frightfully ugly. Their teeth drop out ; they discontinue 
the use of the head-band, showing a bald place where 
the hair has fallen out by being pulled against the grain ; 
the face, deeply furrowed, assumes a very harsh expres- 
sion ; and the legs are bowed by the constant use of the 
" tailor posture " while sitting. The resemblance between 
the sexes is further increased by the absence of beard and 
monstache among the men, any stray evidence of either 
being ruthlessly pulled out by means of a couple of sheila* 


We were not sorry to escape from the stifling atmo- 
sphere of the huts ; and presently leaving the settlement 
behind us, and crossing a swampy valley traversed by 
numerous streams, we proceeded np the mountains, over 
some ridges of yet undissolved snow. I was fortunate 
in my companion. Dr. Rink never seemed at a loss ; he 
had a ready and instructive answer to all my questions, 
whether they related to flowers, minerals, or the physical 
condition of the country. 

Climbing to the top of the first hill, we took a survey 
of the district ; wild and rugged in the extreme, the 
whole interior visible from the point where we stood 
appeared to consist of mountains with intervening wind- 
ing passages I cannot call them valleys, for our idea of 
a valley is connected with verdure and softened beauty, 
while these passes are covered with blocks of stones and 
boulders, very few flowers interspersed among them, 
and those apparently pleading for life. We were happy 
enough to obtain a few minerals, some specimens of 
rough garnets, allanite, tantalite, molybdenite, &c., with 
copper, tin, and iron ores in small quantities. 

Passing round the corner of one of the huge blocks 
which bestrewed our way, we startled a couple of hares 
quietly feeding at its base ; they scampered off some 
distance before one of them fell at the discharge of my 
gun. At that season it did not differ in appearance and 
jolour from the hares of this country, but its coat be- 
comes completely white in the winter time, giving it a 
greater chance of escape from its enemies ; it is then 



generally traced by its footprints, an Eskimo being 
able to distinguish by the shape and feeling of these 
whether the track has been made days, hours, or minutes 

As the spring advances after the long winter, they are 


often found sitting at the corner of a stone, intently 
gazing at the sun. 

We found a pretty good sprinkling of flowers during 
our ramble : a species of buttercup was occasionally 
seen in the marshy plain behind the settlement ; a variety 
of poppy, with its large yellow flower, looking like a 


ffckly child with an overgrown head, peeped out from 
under the shelter of a piece of rock ; while the Alpine 
stitchwort occasionally showed itself, reminding me of 
the common flower in our own hedges. In some few 
favoured places the hill-sides would be covered with the 
purple saxifrage, while still more rarely specimens of 
other species of this Alpine genus of flowers were ob- 
tained. In one sequestered nook my eye was delighted 
with the sight of a violet and a campanula in cordial 
juxtaposition, and the presence of a dandelion and an 
alchemilla almost induced the idea that I was on a Scotch 
mountain, among civilised people, rather than among 
glaciers and Eskimos. 

The most ambitious growth here was that of beech and 
willow bushes, eighteen or twenty inches high, having 
stems about the thickness of a man's thumb. These are 
gathered by the natives as firewood for the winter in the 
Danish houses. 

As we continued our walk we came to the edge of a 
email lake, on the far corner of which some ducks were 
quietly floating. By a series of manoeuvres, the chief of 
which consisted in almost breaking one's back by stoop- 
ing, we crawled from behind one block to the next, and 
succeeded in getting within shot, when we obtained a 
couple of brace. 

On our way back to the ship a thick fog came on, and 
had it not been that my companion was well acquainted 
with the country we should have been at a loss to find 
our way, as scarcely a landmark was visible. When we 


got on board and changed our clothes, we felt quite 
ready for dinner. 

Our conversation was at first limited to an interchange 
of looks and gestures, as only one of our party under- 
stood Danish thoroughly. Dr. Kink, however, speaking 
English fluently, by the additional aid of French and 
German, we contrived after a time to be quite a voluble 
party. It was amusing to hear the disjointed sentences 
at one end of the table commenced in German and eked 
out with French at the other, the patois consisting of an 
alternation of English and Danish. 

After coffee we went on shore, where we found our men 
had preceded us, and were showing their gallantry to tho 
Eskimo young ladies. The sound of the fiddle attracted . 
us to a very small ball-room, twenty-five feet square, 
where from sixty to eighty people had managed to crowd 
themselves, and were dancing to their hearts' content. 
The drapery of the ladies not requiring much extra space, 
it was marvellous to see the ease with which they glided 
in and out of this close-packed assemblage, always keep- 
ing time to the music, which consisted of two violins, a 
flute, and a tub-end covered over with seal-skin, serving 
as drum for the nonce. 

One of the sailors had elected himself master of the 
ceremonies, and, seated in the window, endeavoured to 
keep proper order, greatly to the detriment of the room, 
it must be admitted. This had evidently not been 
cleaned since the last stock of blabber-casks and seal- 
skins had left it ; and filled with thia crowd of not very 



cleanly persons, going through the exciting exercise of a 
sailor's reel or an Eskimo dance, with only the door 
and one window as ventilators, the effect may be 
imagined when the latter was obstructed by the major- 

A glance in was quite sufficient for us, and we pro- 


ceeded to have a look at the different " buildings " of 
which the settlement consists. The principal are the 
governor's house and the neat little wooden Lutheran 
church, which boasted its belfry and organ, and had 
seats for some 150 people. Clo?e down to the water's 
edge was the storehouse, in which the fruits of the last 


winter's hunt were deposited, consisting of seal and rein- 
deer skins, blubber, &c., to the value of about 15,000 
dollars. Then there is the import storehouse, where a 
miscellaneous assortment of articles biscuit, blankets, 
and bullet-moulds ; stockings, shot, sugar, and stew- 
pans ; rice, rifles, and ropes, &c. were to be found in 
incongruous proximity. Currency consists of paper 
notes, printed in Copenhagen, which become valuable on 
their arrival in Greenland, little silver money changing 

After seeing the different piles of goods stowed away 
in these buildings, we turned our attention to the exterior 
of the dwellings of the Eskimo. Round one of them 
were grouped a number of natives, talking in a slow, 
hesitating way ; one of them seemed from his looks to be 
rather irate, but the easy manner in which he allowed 
his words to gurgle out of his throat would not have led 
any one to suppose that he was otherwise than at peace 
with all mankind. 

The interesting operation of cutting up a seal, which 
had just been brought in, was going on inside one of the 
huts ; the dainty bits, such as the liver, &c., were taken 
possession of by the favoured ones of the household, to 
be cooked over the stone blubber-lamp. A couple of old 
dames were entertaining each other over a cup of coffee, 
which luxurious beverage was the first-fruits of the seal- 
skin just deposited in the store. 

Heartily tired after my day's ramble, I joyfully tamed 
in for the night. 




ON the 28th of April we made the land near Holstein- 
borg ; not being aware of the exact position of the 
settlement, we kept along the coast to avoid the nume- 
rous shoals and sunken rocks. Being early in the season, 
the latter were topped by sea-ice of considerable thick- 
ness, which was somewhat an aid to us in finding out 
their position ; but being similar in appearance to small 
pieces of ordinary floating ice, they were often mistaken 
for it, to the great risk and danger of the ship. We passed 
many icebergs aground near the off-lying islands. 

The afternoon being thick and foggy, as it often is in 
spring in Greenland, and a native who had been out seal- 
hunting in his kajak coming alongside, with the bight of 
a rope at either end of the kajak, he and it were brought 


on board. Being acquainted with the coast-line even in 
a fog, be piloted the ship in and out of the island passages 
AS easily as if she had been his own canoe. 

Presently the sun burst through the clouds for a while, 
dissipating the mist, and affording us a peep of the coast 
along which we were creeping. Occasionally we passed 
the mouth of one of those wondrous fiords, the sight of 
which would alone repay a visit to the north ; its deep 
and placid waters winding inland amid every variety of 
scenery and colouring of which these grim Arctic regions 
are capable, or we coasted under cliffs some thousand feet 
high with their miniature glaciers between rocks of gneiss ; 
the stillness of the uninhabited land, the smooth clear 
water, the ship stealing along with nothing to break the 
solemn silence, save the plunge of the seaman's lead or 
the flap of some wild-fowl passing us, while the awe oi 
our silenco was intensified by the constant fear of being 
overwhelmed by an avalanche. 

Our pilot soon left us, as he had some distance to go 
before he reached his home. Scarcely were we left alone 
before it began to snow ; the fog came down again from 
off the land ; again we had to grope our way. 

Fortunately other Eskimos had been out hunting ; 
two of whom came on board and piloted as between the 
islands to the sheltered bay, at the head of which the 
settlement stands, just outside which the assistant factor 
came alongside with a boat's crew, the coxswain taking the 
ship in to her berth, where we let go in seventeen fathoms, 
mooring her to the rocks with bow and stern hawsers. 



The natives in their kajaks at once crowded round the 
ship ; fastening their frail canoes together with pieces of 
seal line, numbers of them came on board, and showed, by 
hauling on the hawsers, ropes, &c., that they would will- 
ingly do us a kindness. When the deck was cleared, and 
all the ropes coiled down, an immediate barter was set 
up between the sailors and the natives ; seal-skin boots, 


trousers, and jumpers soon changed hands, and many an 
old jacket, &c., went on shore. The greatest demand 
among the young ladies was for silk handkerchiefs, which 
they used as head bandages, and their triumph was con- 
siderable when one of them became the happy possessor 
of so rare and prized an article ; as there were but few 



on board available for barter, they Tere soon at a high 


Being early in the season, there was some little night ; 
consequently the ship's deck was deserted soon after ten 
o'clock by all except the quartermaster of the watch. 
The next morning was bright and lovely, with a pleasant 
breeze off the land ; the harbour in which we lay was 
well land-locked, so that we were secure from any of 
those williewaws so frequent in the fiords of this coast. 
Snow lay thickly over all the land, the summer sun hav- 
ing only denuded the surface of a few rocks ; the houses 
of the settlement having a coating of black tar, had almost 
entirely thrown off their winter covering, and stood out 
well on the white background. The little chapel, with 
its heaven-pointing turret, was buried on all sides in 
snow, the windows and doors being the only spots free 
from it ; a deep pathway, with a four-foot bank of snow 
on either side, formed the approach to this house of God. 

As the evening closed in, the sight of the setting sun 
was splendid. Close to us was the arm of a fiord, at the 
upper end of which, as if wedged in between the rocks, 
the sun was sinking. The few clouds immediately above 
were of a deep golden hue, in striking contrast with 
the dark purple of those some distance beyond ; the rays 
reflected from white snow, dark rock, and blue water gave 
innumerable and gorgeous tints ; the moon came peeping 
over an adjoining headland ; the rocks were mirrored in 
the water, which seemed rising to kiss the golden sun- 
beams ; our boat lay idly by the shore ; and it was only 


when the low qnack of a coming flock of ducks brought 
us back to material things that we were reminded thai 
the game-bag was not yet full. 

The next day being Sunday, we had, as usual, divine 
service on the lower deck, after which I went on shore, 
as the sound of the bell told that the time for service 

u It was a little church, and plain, almost 
To ugliness, yet lacking not its charm." 

Groups of Eskimo women and children were walking 
quietly thither as I landed, and, when I reached it, it 
was almost full. 

After dinner, taking a walk over the rocks, I had a fine 
view of the sea and its countless islands. It was indeed a 
lovely maritime landscape, out of the power of better 
pencils than mine to depict. In the evening there was a 
halo round the sun that is, a circle of light 45 in 
diameter, with the sun for a centre, and the mock sun on 
either side, on a plane passing horizontally through it. 
This phenomenon is dependent on the reflection of the 
solar rays from small snow crystals, with which the air is 
often loaded in these northern climes. 

Returning from my walk late, I remained on shore, 
and supped with the governor. The priest, his wife, and 
the two assistants joined us. We partook of an excellent 
repast, consisting of venison, dried salmon, ptarmigan, 
and other delicacies, which seemed strangely out of place 
in this secluded spot. 



As I proceeded to my boat, the Eskimo dogs which 
were there collected made the night hideous by baying 
the moon, the coming gale seeming to have stirred all 
their innate powers of howling. Seaward all looked 
black, even our vessel, whose tall masts pointing heaven- 


wards, seemed to invite the storm. On Monday it blew 
half a gale all day, and snowed constantly. It was 
miserably cold, so that I did not leave the ship, except 
for a couple of hours to sit with the governor. On 


Tuesday there was only a gentle breeze from the nctft- 
ward, and scarcely a cloud to be seen. 

** Blue, sunny sky above ; below, 

A btae and sunny sea ; 
A world of blue, wherein did blow 
One soft wind steadily." 

An iceberg, about 160 feet high, had come into the harbour 
during the night, and gleamed brightly against the dark 
rocks. I again ascended a neighbouring mountain, and, 
from an elevation of 1,800 to 2,000 feet, had a good 
/panoramic view. As the sun reached its highest, and 
seemed to rest before it declined, the same formed a 
splendid picture. The hues of silver frost, purple and 
neutral, would have enchanted a painter, while the hope- 
lessness of any attempt to catch them, and transfer their 
fleeting beauty to his canvas, would well-nigh have 
broken his heart. 

In the evening I visited the carcases of three whales, 
which, having been denuded of their blubber, lay stranded 
on the shore, and served as banqueting-rooms for the 
Eskimo dogs. These were so satiated with their repast, 
they could hardly screw up their tails upon their backs 
their way of manifesting pleased recognition but lay 
alongside the scene of their enjoyment, smiling benignly, 
and unable to movet 

Our approach frightened away some half-dozen ravens, 
which had been attracted by the carrion lying at our feet. 
These birds are found very far north ; I remember seeing 
two in the middle of January, at a temperature of 60 '. 


flying as leisurely as if it had been the hottest day expe- 
rienced by any of their species. These same birds built 
tneir nest and bred in lat. 72 N., showing an instance of 
a bird which breeds both in arctic and tropico-temperate 
climates. Those which we now disturbed from their 
feast flew lazily away, and settled on a rock a few yards 
from us, evidently looking upon us as intruders, and 
patiently waiting our departure. 

A few words about the Eskimo dog, which has been here 
mentioned for the first time. This animal, whose services 
are indispensable to the inhabitants of Northern Green- 
land, is not unlike our shepherd's dog in its general aspect, 
but is more muscular, and has a broader chest, owing, 
in a great measure, to the hard work it is inured to. The 
ears are pointed, and, with its long muzzle, serve to 
increase the wolfishness of its appearance. An ordinary 
well-grown dog will be somewhat smaller than a New- 
foundland dog, but broad, like a mastiff. The coat of 
this dog consists of long hair, and in the winter it is 
further protected by a soft, downy under-covering, which 
does not appear during the warm weather. 

Their education begins at a very early age. When 
about two months old, eight or ten puppies are harnessed 
to a sledge with two experienced runners, and by means 
of frequent and cruel beatings, and angry repetitions of 
their names, they are taught their duty, but not without 
much hard labour on the driver's part, and great patience. 
Personal experience has taught me some of the peculiar 
difficulties cf managing a puppy-dog team. 



Each dog is harnessed to a separate line ; and these, 
being about eight abreast, fully endowed with all ami 
more than all the playfulness of young animals in this 
country, the effect may be pictured when, all jumping on 
each other in most admired confusion, the lines become 
entangled, and are only set right after many efforts. 
This process has to be repeated again and again, as 
the gambols or quarrels of the young dogs render it 

The whip, too, would puzzle a London cabby, and is not 


easy for a novice to use a lash from twenty to twentv- 
four feet long, attached to a handle one foot long; it 
requires no small amount of dexterity to avoid wounding 
your own person in an attempt to make an example of 
one of your pupils. When trained, however, they are 
guided only by a touch of the whip to the near or off 
leader, and over smooth ice, with a light load, can be 
made to go seven or eight miles per hour. 




THE voyage from Holsteinborg to Godhaven was rather 
tedious. Being prevented by fog and ice from at 
once reaching our destination, I was enabled to dredge, 
and procured a considerable varietj^ of treasures star- 
fishes, holothurias, Crustacea, annelids, and shells. 

On the evening of the 10th May we had hoped to be 
in port, but our wishes were not realised, and we were in 
much danger. At one time we were startled by finding 
the end of one of the Kron Prins Islands right under our 
bow. We had not much time to make our escape, being 
hardly more than half the ship's length off before per- 
ceiving our perilous position. At another time we found 
ourselves within forty yards of a formidable iceberg, 
which the fog had hindered our seeing. 


For six days we were detained at the Whalefish 
Islands; but on the 17th May we at last anchored close 
to the settlement of Godhaven, the seat of the Northern 
Inspectorate of Greenland. It is situated on a spur 
of metamorphic rock, which juts out in a peninsular form 
from Disco Island, the mainland of which is composed 
of trap or basalt of recent igneous origin. These rocks 
reach the height of 3,000, 4,000, or even 5,000 feet, and 
are, in some places, formed into pillars, in a manner 
which may be imagined by those who have visited Staffa 
or the Giant's Causeway. 

The situation is singularly beautiful, with its beetling 
cliff of dark rock, like the turrets of some giant fortifica- 
tion, stretching darkly before the traveller, and presenting 
the same aspect from seaward inaccessible, inhabited 
only by sea-birds, such as guillemots, loons, ducks, gulls, 

It was not till 1721 that any attempt was made to 
ascertain the religious condition of the Eskimos, or to 
Christianize them. 

The "wild " Eskimos of the Arctic regions believe in tho 
existence of two great and a number of inferior spirits. 
The chief of these, " Tongarsuk," the great spirit, is 
supposed to give power to the " angerkok," or priest, 
who is the medium of communication between him and 
the people, by whom he is only known by name, which is 
never mentioned without becoming reverence. 

This great spirit is supposed to assume different forms, 
at one time that of a man, at another that of a beajr, 

162 GRKENL,AJN1>. 

while often he is spoken of as purely spirit. The other 
great spirit, supposed to be the principle of evil, is repre- 
sented as a female, but has no name. 

The angerkoks profess, by means of their familiar 
spirit, to charm away bad luck from the hunter, to 
change the weather, or to heal the sick. The lesser 
spirits are believed to control the different elements, and 
from their ranks Tongarsuk selects the familiars for the 
priests. One of these lesser spirits, who rules the air, 
is supposed to be so vicious, that the Eskimos are loath 
to stir out after dark for fear of offending him. 

They suppose the sun and moon to be brother and 
sister, who having quarrelled, the sun bit off one of his 
sister's breasts ; and the maimed appearance presented by 
the moon is caused by her turning her wounded side to the 
earth. The aurora borealis is supposed to be the game 
of " hockey," played by the departed spirits of their 
friends and relatives. 

Now, however, owing to the unwearied labours of 
missionaries in Danish Greenland, I believe, there is not 
one heathen remaining. A few customs, which are fol- 
lowed more from habit than belief, however, remain, 
though these are not more absurd than many which 
obtain in any country district in Great Britian or Ireland. 

In Smith Sound, and on the western shores of Baffin's 
Bay or Davis' Strait, the Eskimos are yet in the darkness 
of heathenism, and there are many "angerkoks"' who 
believe all the superstitions I have mentioned. 

From incidental reference to the social life of the 








Greenlanders, some idea will have been already gained of 
its nature. Filthy in his person and habits, and regard- 
less of the amenities of civilised life, yet the Eskimo is 
not a savage, being possessed of a certain negative ami- 
ability of nature which would prevent his being placed in 
that category. On the whole, he behaves well in his 


social relations, is a moderately affectionate son, hus- 
band, and father. 

The occupation of the Eskimos, though substantially the 
same throughout Greenland, differs somewhat according 
to the latitude. 

In South Greenland, it is seal-hunting and cod-fishing ; 


Seated in his kajak, with his spear al? ogside, his coil of 
line in front, his seal-skin buoy behind, two bird-spears on 
the upper part of the canoe, and his rifle inside, the hunter 
takes his departure, putting on a white calico jumper over 
his sealskin, if he be likely to meet with ice. 

Paddle in hand, and gliding through the water at six 
miles per hour, he soon sees a seal's head above the 
surface. Cautiously getting his spear ready, as he rests 
on his paddle, and clearing his line, he quietly follows in 
the track of the animal, whose keenness of hearing obliges 
him to be as noiseless as possible. Arrived within proper 
distance, he launches the spear, which, striking the seal, 
leaves the harpoon-head sticking, and away go line, buoy, 
and prey. The buoy prevents the seal from sinking too 
low, or swimming to any distance. If the wound be not 

fatal, the animal quickly rises to the surface to breathe, 
ind, the spot being indicated by the buoy, the ready 
hunter, adroitly darting another spear, ultimately suc- 
ceeds in his object. It is then hauled on the top of the 
kajak, or fastened alongside. 

The hunter then generally returns to his home, con- 
tent with killing one ; but should he meet with any piece 
of floating ice, knowing the propensity of the seal to bask 
and rest on these, he paddles up to them. The white 
jumper now stands him in good stead. The animal, 
aroused by the plashing of the paddle, rises on its hind 
flippers, gazes with its large, lustrous eyes at the kajak; 
seeing the white surface, mistakes it for a piece of ice^ 
And resumes its former position. The hunter, now 



balances himself as well as possible, and, taking a good 
aim, fires, often killing the seal, but occasionally missing 
his aim. 


In Middle Greenland, the Eskimos add the pursuit of 
the deer, in the spring and autumn, to the two descrip- 
tions of hv.nting mentioned above. The hunters resort to 


the passes and valleys frequented by the deer ; then, 
lying in wait for the herd, they single out their game, and 
either get it at once, or, wounding it, stalk as is done in 
Scotland. The numbers which are daily destroyed in 
this manner, during the season, are so great, that the 
natives often do not encumber themselves with anything 
but the skin and the tongue, the latter being considered a 
delicacy ; they leave the bodies to go to waste. At 
times, however, the deer are very scarce. 

In North Greenland, besides seal-hunting and deer- 
stalking, the Eskimos are occasionally engaged in the 
chase of the walrus and the narwhal (or sea-unicorn) ; 
but as the danger is great, the natives are loath to attack 
either single-handed. ! ac< * ~ f **< settlements I met a 
man whose brotner .e*-r> s >.-. >-x,oi*aa a walrus, was at 
once turned upon by the infuriated beast, who, in the 
sight of my informant, struck him in the back with his 
tusks, and killed him at one blow. This same man had 
another brother drowned in his kajak, after having har- 
pooned a walrus. The line not being clear, the animal, 
in sinking, dragged the canoe under water. 

Sometimes a gale off the land springs up whilst the 
hunter is out at sea. His only chance then is to make for 
the nearest ice, and hauling his canoe upon it, to drift 
with it till the gale be over. This ice has at times, 
though rarely, drifted more than half way across Da via' 
B trait*. 


E K N E Y. 



islands of Orkney and Shetland are so little 
known that many persons, in other respects well 
informed, seem to look upon them as a collection of 
rocks either uninhabitable or inhabited by a race of men 
almost as untamed as the seals which play upon their 
shores, and with intellects little more developed ; a race 
with whom the civilised world has no communion, living 
on fish, dressing in sealskin, gloriously ignorant of civili- 
zation, destitute of education. But these northern 
islands and their inhabitants are in reality very interest- 
ing, and it is in the hope of making them better known 
and appreciated that I now attempt to give some account 
of the nearer group the Orkneys. 

Separated from the mainland by the Pentland Frith? 

172 OBKNEY. 

from ten to twelve miles in width, and " confronting " 
(as Mr. Balfour, their latest historian, remarks), within a 
few hours' sail, the mouths of the Baltic and the Elbe ; 
indented with fine harbours, easily made as impregnable 
as any in Northern Europe, and never boomed like them 
by half a year of ice ; with a soil of more than ordinary 
fertility ; and a sea-loving people, hardy, intelligent, and 
enterprising Orkney was well adapted to become the 
vanguard of northern civilization and commerce." 

The Orkney Islands are upwards of sixty in number, 
containing from 400,000 to 500,000 acres, and a popu- 
lation of 32,416, according to the census of 1861. 
Twenty-five are inhabited, and to these only 'the name of 
island is generally giVin. Tx&st sot inhabited, and used 
only for pasture, arc <%!]* ksfas. 

The general appearance of the group is flat, and to 
some extent tame. The only very high hill is Hoy Head, 
which is upwards of 1,300 feet above the level of the 

No trees meet the eye. You must look for them 
in some sheltered spot under the protecting care of a 
large building. In some of the islands attempts are being 
made to foster them, but with little prospect of success ; 
in others again there is not as much wood growing as 
would make a walking-stick. 

Orkney must have undergone a most remarkable 
change in respect to climate, for in the mosses trunks ol 
very large trees are found; and I have seen many deer's 
horns that have been dug up, proving that in some pre- 


historic a^e this now treeless, deerless country had not 
only deer but forests to she *er them. 

The mosses containing these remains trees, deer's 
horns, and hazel nuts extend under the present sea 
level ; and at very low tides they are sometimes exposed, 
as in Otterwick Bay, Sanday, and JDeerness. 

Pomona, or Mainland, is by far the largest of the Orkney 
group ; its length from east to west is upwards of thirty 
miles, and its breadth in some places from six to eight 
miles. The two largest towns of Orkney are in Pomona 
Stromness, in the south-west, with a population of 
about 3,000, and a very fine harbour ; and Kirkwall, the 
capital of Orkney, which lies on the north side, and con- 
tains above 4,000 inhabitants, many good shops, three 
banks, two newspapers, churches and schools in propor- 
tion to the population. 

The principal street is about a mile in length, and is 
made up of houses that would not seem out of place in 
any county town. It is not surprising that the metropolis 
of Orkney should now contain all the necessaries, and 
most of the luxuries, which modern refinement demands ; 
but it is strange to find that seven hundred years ago, on 
this extreme verge of civilisation, and so near the polar 
regions, there arose a cathedral, more perfect, very 
little smaller, and in some respects finer, than that of 

Near the cathedral are the ruins of the bishop's palace. 
Within an easy walk from Kirkwall is Wideford Hill 
from the top of which nearly all the islands may be seen ; 

174 ORKNEY. 

and no one who goes there on a clear day will hesitate to 
admit that the r eene before him, looking seaward, is one 
of exquisite beauty. 

In calm weather, the sea, land-locked by the islands, 
resembles a vast lake, clear and brigiit as a mirror, and 
without a ripple save from the gentle impulse of the tide. 
Here, a bluff headland stands out in bold relief against 
the horizon ; there, the more distant islet is lost in sea and 
sky ; on one side a shelving rock sends out a black 
tongue-like point, sharp as a needle, losing itself in the 
water, where it forms one of those reefs so common 
among the^ islands, and so fatal to strangers, but which 
every Orkney boatman knows as we do the streets of our 
native town ; while on the other side a green holm, 
covered with cattle and ponies, slopes gently to the 
water's edge. 

Then there is the dovetailing and intercrossing of one 
point with another, the purple tints of the islands, the 
deep blue of the sea, the indentations of the coast, the 
boats plying their oars or lingering lazily on the waters, 
the white sails of the pleasure yachts contrasting with the 
dark brown canvas of the fishing craft, and here and there 
a large merchant vessel entering or leaving the harbour ; 
all these combine to make a most lovely picture, in 
which the additional ornament of trees is not missed. 

And again, in a storm, the boiling tides, the green and 
white billows, the pillars of foam which spout aloft when 
dashed against the rocks, make a scene with which the 
absence of trees is in perfect harmony. You feel thai 


trees here would be out of their element. In calm 
weather they are not needed, in a storm they would seem 
out of place. 

Any one who has seen an Orkney sunset in June or 
July, tracing its diamond path across island, reef, and 
tideway, must confess that it is scarcely possible to 
suggest an addition to its beauty. 


From Wideford Hill you can cast your eye upon 
structures that are memorials of every form of religion 
that has ever existed in Scotland. Stennis and its 
standing stones are in sight, eight or ten miles off. 
Nearer to you are some of those inscrutable mounds 
called Picts' houses. On the Isle of Eagleshay, which 

176 OBKNEI . 

may be seen from the same spot, stand the wails and 
tower of probably the earliest Christian church in 

The Standing Stones of Stennis are still about thirty in 
number, forming portions of two circles, the larger of 
which measures above a hundred yards in diameter, and 
the smaller about thirty-four. These circles are not now 
complete, as many of the stones have fallen and many 
have disappeared, but sufficient traces remain to show 
what they were. The stones vary in form and size, and 
are all totally unhewn. The largest is about fourteen 
feet high, but the average height is from eight to ten. 
They are grand, solemn-looking old veterans, painfully 
silent regarding their past life, as if ashamed to speak of 
those bloody rites in which they may have had a share. 

They were formerly called Druidical Circles, perhaps 
for no better reason than that their history is utterly 

Of the mounds called Picts' houses, of which there are 
hundreds in Orkney, we know as little as we do of the 
stones, save that they are of two kinds, very similar in 
construction, and that the smaller seem to have been the 
dwellings of ihe early inhabitants of the country, and the 
others the sepulchres of their dead. These structures are 
cot strictly subterranean, although they are covered with 
earth. They were either erected on level ground, or 
excavated in the side of a hill. They are built of large 
stones converging towards the centre, where an aperture 
seems to have been left for air and light. Bones ana 



teeth of the horse, cow, sheep, and boar were found in 
the Picts' houses on Wideford Hill opened in 1849. 

The climate of Orkney is moist and mild ; there are 
neither such warm summers nor such cold winters as in 


the south and west of Scotland. A gentleman who has 
lived in Orkney the greater part of his life told me that 
he had seldom seen ice strong enough to bear a man's 
weight. The Gulf Stream is, no doubt, the cause of this. 


178 OBKNEY. 

The length of daylight makes these islands a desirable 
summer residence. I have myself read a newspaper 
without difficulty at midnight in the month of June ; and 
I have been told by a friend who lives in Orkney, that on 
the shortest day he has read the Times at four o'clock 
P.M. by daylight, or rather by the beautiful twilight of 
that region, for in winter the sun is only about four hours 
above the horizon. 

The soil is in many parts mossy, but there is almost 
everywhere a stiff clay underneath, and this, when 
ploughed up, and mixed with the moss, makes a very good 
loam. In many places, the ground merely requires to be 
"tickled with the plough, that it may smile with the 
harvest," as somebody has said. 

There is, perhaps, no district in Scotland where BO 
much is being done in the way of improving the land. 
In 1814, very considerable progress had been made on 
some of the larger estates in Orkney, more especially in 
the North Isles, where turnips were pretty extensively 
grown, and at least one flock of fine Cheviot merino sheep 
was profitably kept ; but it was not until about twenty- 
five years ago that the agricultural movement began in 


Previous to that time, the sea had been the sole support 
of the working man. He rented land, and paid his rent 
out of fish and seaweed. The women were generally 
the farmers, while the men fished. 

It is not many years since Orkney made out of her 
seaweed alone an annual income of 15,OOOZ., 20,OOOZ., 


and even 25,0001. There is a kind of seaweed, the 
fucus palinatuSy commonly called tangle, thrown up in 
great abundance on the shores of the Orkneys, and also 
of the Western Isles. From this a substance called kelp 
is made, valuable from the large amouut of iodine it 
contains, and once extensively used in the manufacture 
of soap and glass. 

The process of kelp-making is as follows : The sea- 
weed is collected and dried, and put into a hole in the 
ground about three feet wide. A live coal is then put in, 
and the heap is allowed to smoulder. During the 
mouldering it is stirred with an iron-hook, until in 
course of time it gets into a ^state somewhat like molten 
lead. When it cools and dries, it is kelp. Besides iodine, 
it contains glauber salts, common salt, and carbonate of 

The thriftlessness of the farming of past days is well 
illustrated by an anecdote I had from Mr. Balfour, the 
proprietor. His father, observing that one of his tenants 
was always in difficulties, though he did not pay a 
farthing of rent, said to him one day, that he was sur- 
prised at his being so much in want, seeing that he had 
a good croft, and paid nothing for it. 

" Oh, Captain Balfour," he replied, " I das pay a 

" Why, what rent do you pay ? M 

" Weel I sud pay a hen." 

Shapinshay is now in a very satisfactory state of 
cultivation, about 5,000 acres being under the plough, 

180 ORKNEY. 

although the rental is as yet only about 1,1 OOZ. A doze A 
years ago it imported meal for the support of its inha- 
bitants ; it now exports largely grain, potatoes, cattle, 
sheep, pigs, eggs, &c. 

The habits and mode of life of the islanders were very 
primitive even fifty years ago. The chimney of the 
cottage was simply a hole in the roof, and the fire was m 
the middle of the floor, so that the smoke had to find its 
way out as best it might. Such fire-places have, I think, 
almost disappeared from Orkney, at least I do not re- 
member seeing one. 

In old times the islanders had many strange beliefs and 
antipathies, which some of the older people still cherish. 
For instance, they have a prejudice against turbot, and 
will not eat it nor even name it at sea although they 
constantly eat halibut, a much less delicate fish of the 
same species. 

A strange belief was held generally at one time that 
drowned persons are changed into seals. The island of 
Borey in the Bay of Milburn, is sometimes called the 
Seal Island, and a romantic legend is told in connection 
with it, which has already found its way into print, but 
not so fully as it was related to me. 

It was a fine summer evening, and Harold of the isle of 
Gairsay had been fishing till late, when, as the sun went 
down, he heard the most enchanting music. He followed 
the sound till he reached the island of Borey, where he 
saw a company of gaily-dressed people dancing to it, 
but no musicians were visible. He went close inshore, 


and saw a number of black objects like beasts. They 
lay so still that he landed and took np one, and found ii 
to be a seal-skin. He watched the dancers for some 
time, and when the sun began to rise the music suddenly 
ceased, and they all hurried down to the shore. Harold 
dropped the seal-skin into his boat, pushed off, and pulled 
away to a short distance, to see what would happen next. 
Each person seized a seal-skin, put it on, and plunged 
into the sea. 

One woman alone was left, and she went along the 
shore seeking the seal-skin which Harold had taken. He 
put back to the island, spoke to her, and then recognised 
her as his own mother, who had been drowned many 
years before. She told him that all drowned persons 
became seals, and once a month they were allowed to 
resume their human form and come on shore at sunset, 
and dance till sunrise. She begged hard for her seal- 
skin, which at first he refused to give up ; but on her 
promising that he should have the prettiest maiden in all 
Seal-land for his wife, he gave it back. She desired him 
to return to Borey that day month : she would then 
show him the seal-skin of the girl who should be his 
bride, and he was to keep the skin carefully hidden from 
the owner, whom he would thus have in his own power. 

On the night appointed Harold went again to Borey ; 
again he heard the beautiful music, and saw the mys- 
terious dancers. His mother went to the shore and laid 
her hand on a seal-skin, which Harold put into his boat, 
then rowed home and concealed it. Before sunrise he 

182 ORKNEY. 

returned to Borey. The music ceased as before, tha 
dancers resumed their seal-skins, and disappeared in the 
sea all but one beautiful girl, who went about wringing 
her hands and weeping for the loss of hers. 

After a little time Harold approached and spoke to her. 
She told him that she was the daughter of a pagan king. 
He endeavoured to comfort her, and succeeded so well, 
that she consented to go home with him and become his 
wife. He loved her fondly, and she bore him several 
children ; but at length she fell sick some secret grief 
was consuming her. Often she asked for her seal-skin, 
but Harold never suffered her to see it ; and at last she 
confessed that she was anxious about her soul. A priest 
was sent for, and she was baptized ; yet still she was not 
satisfied, and pined away. 

" Harold," she said one day, " we have lived long and 
happily together. If we part, we part for ever. If I die, 
you cannot be sure that my soul is saved, for I have long 
lived a pagan. To-night is the dancing night ; roll me in 
my seal-skin and leave me on the beach ; they cannot 
take me away if I am a Christian. But you must go out 
of sight, and return for me in the morning ; then you will 
know my fate." 

Harold yielded to her wish. He laid her on the shore, 
and went himself to the other side of Gairsay to wait till 
sunrise. All night he sat with his face buried in his 
hands. Once he heard a sudden wail ; they had found 
his wife on the shore, but he dared not move. That 
short midsummer night seemed endless to him; at laat 


the enn appeared, and ho hastened to the place where he 
had left her. She was still there. They had not taken 
her away, for she was a Christian. She was dead, but 
with a smile on her face that spoke of a soul at peace. 
That smile comforted Harold, and assured him that their 
parting would not be for ever. 

E K N E Y 



islanders are brave and hardy. During the season 
of egg-gathering they may be seen at one time 
climbing a precipice to rob the nests, at another swing- 
ing from the face of a rock with nothing between them 
and almost certain death but a rope round their waists. 

They thus naturally acquire the habit of talking of 
danger and even of death in a way that seems to indicate 
indifference to both. Probably few, however, reach the 
degree of coolness exhibited by an old man who went out 
one day with his son to gather eggs. The son descended 
the face of a high rock with one end of a rope round his 
waist, the other being fastened to a stake above, while 
the old man remained In his boat at the base, in case of 
accident. The precaution was not unnecessary, for the 


rope gave way, and the lad fell into the sea. There was 
a considerable ground swell, and the poor boy had sunk 
once or twice before his father could rescue him, but at 
last he was taken into the boat almost lifeless. This 
elicited from the father the simple remark, "Eh I I'm 
thinking thou's wat, Tarn." 


The saying that those born to be hanged will never be 
drowned, is probably no truer of hanging than of other 
deaths. Tarn was reserved for a different but scarcely 
less enviable fate. An acquaintance of the old man's, 
years afterwards, reminded him of Tarn's escape, and 
asked him what had become of him, to which the father 
replied in the same indifferent tone : " Tarn ? our Tarn ? 
Oh 1 Tarn gaed awa' to a far country, and the haithens 
ate him." 

This anecdote I know to be perfectly true, and I have 
as reliable authority for another of the same kind. 

A man was one day gathering eggs on the face of a 
precipitous rock, and while creeping cautiously yet fear- 
lessly along a ledge little broader than the sole of his 
foot, he came to an angle round which he must pass. 
The wall-like steepness of the rock and the narrowness 
of the ledge made this under any circumstances difficult 
and dangerous. The difficulty, however, grew into aa 
apparent impossibility, when he found on reaching the 
corner that he had the wrong foot first. To turn back 
was impossible, to get round while his feet were in that 
position was equally so. 

The danger was observed by the friend who related the 

186 ORKNEY. 

occurrence to me, and who looked on with terror at the 
probable consequences, for a false step or a stumble 
involved certain death. The man paused for a moment, 
took off his broad bonnet, in which he carried, as was 
customary, his snuff-horn, and after shaking up the snufl 
in the most unconcerned way, he took three hearty 
pinches, and then returned the horn to his bonnet, and 
the bonnet to his head. Then straightening himself up, 
he made an agile spring, and got the right foot first. 

It was an awful moment for the looker-on, and an 
awful risk for the performer. Happily it was successful ; 
he got round the point, and finally reached the top of the 
rock in safety. 

My friend, who had waited for his ascent, said to him : 
" Man, Johnnie, were ye no feared ? " 

" Eh man, if I had been feared, I wudna be here." 

" I dare say that," replied my friend ; " but what made 
you think of taking a snuff when you were in such 
danger ? ' 

" Weel," he answered, with admirable simplicity and 
truth, "I thocht I was needin't." 

It is impossible, within the limits of a short paper, to 
give a detailed description of the various islands. Nor is 
tkis necessary. 

I cannot, however, omit giving some account of North 
Ronaldshay, the most curious, most primitive, and most 
remote of the whole group. It is also the most difficult 
of access. Perhaps I was unusually unlucky, but I 
made five several attempts to reach it without success. 



In my sixth attempt, however, three years ago, I was 
more fortunate, though even then it was with some 
difficulty. The frith between North Ronaldshay and 
Sanday is a very dangerous one, and the wind and tide 
must be carefully consulted. If you start too late to 
reach it before the turn of the tide, you are almost 
inevitably carried back to your starting point, unless the 
wind be all the more favourable. 

A. friend of mine, with his wife and some ladies, had 
once got within gun-shot of the shore as the tide turned, 
when, caught in the fringe of it, they were carried off as 
in a mill-stream, and in a very short time were miles off. 

It is very flat, the highest elevation being only 47 feet. 
What strikes one at first sight as most peculiar, is a dry 
tone wall, between five and six feet high, with small 
holes left at regular intervals. It stretches along the 
beach as far as you can see, and is but a little above high- 
water mark. You are still more surprised to learn that 
it goes right round the island. 

The purpose of this wall is very pnzzling to a stranger. 
The island is a small one, only 4,000 acres. Can it be 
meant to keep the young islanders from tumbling into the 
sea ? or, if they are supposed to have more sense, is it to 
keep the sheep from the shore, lest they should be swept 
off by the waves which often play wildly there ? No, 
but exactly the reverse. 

The wall was built for the double purpose of depriving 
the winds as they pass through it of the saline vapour 
which used to blight the crops, and of keeping the sheep 

190 OBItNEY. 

ont. The grass is very valuable, being required for the 
cattle, so the sheep must have other fare. What other 
fare, we naturally ask, can a sheep have than grass ? 
Seaweed nothing but seaweed. 

The sheep here are unlike any animals of the species 
I ever saw. They are called wild sheep, are lean and 
scraggy, and are like goats. Their mutton is dark 
eoloured. The natives like it very much, and some 
people say it has the flavour of venison. The taste is 
certainly peculiar, and suggests the idea of seaweed. 

Almost every rood of the island is under cultivation. 
There are therefore no peats, and there is no wood, 
except when an unfortunate ship is "wrecked. Coals and 
peats are very expensive. To obtain a supply of fuel, the 
people have recourse to an expedient practised by the 
Arabs in the desert, and also by the inhabitants of Cornwall. 

Every family has a cow, and when the byre is cleaned 
out, the dung heap, instead of being used for agricultural 
purposes, is mixed with straw, and then cut into pieces, 
which are called scones. These are laid in the sun to 
dry, and are not used until "they are a year old, when 
fche sulphuretted hydrogen is gone, and the smell in 
burning is not so offensive. One can see from this why 
the cow is made so much of, and has the grass all to her- 
self, to the detriment of the sheep. It is not every 
animal that can supply us with meat, drink, clothing, and 
fire. It is scarcely necessary to say, that the atmosphere 
of houses heated by this kind of fuel is not particularly 



Wnen I saw some smoked fish hanging in a cottage, I 
could not help asking if they had been smoked with 

" Oh, yes ! " 

" But does it not spoil the fish '? ' 

" Well, peat or wood is better, but we soon get used to 


I could not help thinking that this eel-like facility in 
getting " used" to things is very fortunate, and that it is 
the same kind of happy knack which discovers the flavour 
of venison in seaweedy mutton. The same fuel is used 
in Sanday, and was until lately in Papa Westray. 

There is no inn on North Ronaldshay, and as the 

192 ORKNEY. 

minister was from home, I was thrown on the hospita- 
lity of a farmer, whose genuine kindness I shall not soon 
forget, and with whom I spent a very happy day and 
Bight. He is a very ingenious, clever fellow, who can 
turn his hand to anything, and do everything well. He 
unites in his own person the varied offices of farmer, 
watchmaker, smith, carpenter, kelp-maker, and, if I mis- 
take not, doctor in all of which capacities he is purely 
self-taught. He has never been further south than Kirk- 
wall, and has no desire to leave his little world, to which 
he is passionately attached. He knows all about it ; but 
his knowledge, like charity, though it begins at home, 
does not end there. He is thoroughly up in the politics 
of the day, has a keen sense of humour, is full of anec- 
dote, and well acquainted with the works of Scott, Thac- 
keray, and Dickens. 

There is a post once a week to this island ; to West- 
ray, Sanday, and Rousay twice a week ; and to some of 
the less remote islands once a day. This is a very dif- 
ferent state of things from what existed formerly. At 
the time of the Revolution, a Scotch fisherman was im- 
prisoned at Kirkwall, in May, 1689, for saying that 
King William III. had been crowned the previous No- 
vember; and he was just about to be hanged for the 
treasonable statement when a vessel arrived to con- 
firm it. 

I have only to add one word on the people. They are, 
of course, first-rate sailors. In appearance there is not 
any very striking indication of their descent, though now 


and then you see a decidedly Scandinavian face. Seott 
describes them as known by 

" The tall form, blue eye, proportion fair, 
The limbs athletic, and the long light hair ; ** 

and this type you not unfrequently find. 

I was much struck by the exceeding gentleness of the 
working classes. A brawny, bearded man, who has not 
a particle of cowardice or sneaking in his composition, 
speaks to you with all the softness of a woman. Swear- 
ing is a vice from which, so far as I could judge, they are 
singularly free. Their language is Scotch, with some 
unusual words, and a slightly peculiar accent, which no 
doubt are the remains of the Norse. In talking to each 
other, the common people use the familiar and kindly 
" thou " instead of " you," and their bearing towards 
each other is gentle and pleasing. 

I was one day crossing a frith in a pretty rough sea. 
The smack was being steered by one of the passengers, 
as the whole crew were required for other duties. He 
had a difficult task, but he managed it well, and one of 
the men said in banter: "Robbie, I'm thinking when 
thou was a young man [Robbie was not above forty] 
thou could steer a boat a little." 

" Weel," he replied, " my han' has been oot o't for 
some time ; but when I was a younger man and in the 
way o't, if onybody had said that I kent naething aboot 
it I uwd hoe leofdt at him." 

In many other parts of Scotland the " wud has lookit 
at him " would probably have taken an uglier form. 


194 ORKNEY. 

I have seen some pretty female faces in Orkney, but 
the men are generally handsomer than the women. 
They are a people of whom I have formed a very high 
opinion, both morally and intellectually. The criminal 
and pauper rolls of Orkney will, I believe, bear a most 
favourable comparison with those of any part of the 

The country presents many objects of interest to the 
antiquarian, the naturalist, the farmer, and the merchant. 
Hospitable, intelligent, industrious, and self-reliant, the 
Orcadians are sure to keep well abreast of their neigh 






STARTING from Orkney, we may find some things to 
interest us during our eleven or twelve hours' sail. 
Having got clear of the Orkneys, it is not very long till 
we come in sight of Fair Isle, midway between the two 
groups, one of the most lonely and unapproachable of 
human habitations, of which I shall speak more particu- 
larly by-and-by. Meanwhile, if our voyage is made by 
day, we shall see, as we come abreast of it, that our 
course is dotted over with ten or a dozen little boats, 
which seem in a fair way of being either run down by the 
steamer, or swamped by the wash of her paddles. The 
boatmen evidently have no such fear, for instead of 
avoiding the apparent danger, they pull close up, and 
amid the roar and rush of the steamer, which has not 


Blackened speed, they are heard addressing the passenger! 
hurriedly, but eargerly and clearly, with " Throw a paper, 
throw a paper." 

Such an appeal is of course irresistible to every man 
with a Scotsman in his pocket, and a particle of kindliness 
in his composition, and the poor Fair Isle boatmen get the 
benefit of both. Dozens of papers may be thrown over- 
board, but every one is picked up. The plunge made by 
the little sharp-pointed boats into the rough waters in the 
wake of the steamer seems perilous, and resemble! 
nothing so much as the bobbing up and down of duck! 
in a very stormy pond ; but the capabilities of the boat! 
and the skill of the rowers are well known, and have 
been tried in many a wild sea. 

This little incident causes quite a commotion on board, 
and those of the passengers to whom it is new are very 
much interested by it, and receive, I have no doubt, ft 
livelier impression of the loneliness and isolation of that 
almost unvisited island than anything else could give 

Two or three hours more and we are in Sumburgh 
roost, and are lucky if we escape a severe tossing. And 
now with Sumburgh Head in front, and the much grander 
Fitful Head to the left, we begin to contrast the quiet 
and comparatively tame beauty of Orkney with the 
rugged grandeur of Shetland, which for rook scenery is 
perhaps unsurpassed in Northern Britain. 

A little further on we pass the Island of Mousa, with itf 
famous Pictish tower, the most complete specimen of 



this structure in existence. It is moi-> cmiuus than 
picturesque, as may be inferred from its striking likenesi 
to a giasswork chimney with a part of the top broken oft, 
It is about fifty feet in diameter, and between forty and 
fifty feet high. It consists of two concentric walls, 
between which a winding stair leads up to a number of 
small apartmemts. The inner rcular space enclosed by 
the walls seems to have been an open court. The use 
and origin of these towers, remains of which are numerous 
in Shetland, are uncertain. Each is said to be in sight of 
the other, so that intelligence of the approach of enemies 
might be conveyed by beacons lighted on the various 
summits. The peculiar shape, wide at bottom, tapering 
towards the middle, and again widening towards the top t 
seems to indicate that scaling was one mode of attack 
which the architect meant to guard against. 

In another half-hour the steamer's gun is fired, the 
anchor is dropped, and you are placed face to face with 
the most irregular-looking town that was ever built. A 
stranger will not soon forget his impression on seeing 
Lerwick for the first time, especially if he has been 
taking a snooze in the saloon, and is wakened by the gun, 
so that its peculiarities burst full upon him at once. He 
sees nothing but gables, and these so huddled together in 
the most happy-go-lucky style, that he cannot see Low 
locomotion through the place is possible, unless it be on 
the tops of the houses. The town is situated on a very 
steep slope, and the houses on the shore are built right 
down into the sea. 



And now what a scramble there is at the side of the 
steamer ! Boats by the dozen are clamouring for pas- 
sengers and jostling each other in the most uncere- 
monious way in their eagerness to get close to the 
steps. You get ashore somehow, though you are sure to 


find on landing that your luggage has come by one boat, 
and yourself by another. This is more annoying than at 
first sight appears, for every house on the shore has a 
pier to itself, and to join company with your luggage may 
thus require a long search. 


On taking a walk through the town, you find that your 
first impression as to its irregularity was pretty correct. 
If one could fancy all the houses in a town of upwards of 
3,000 inhabitants engaged in dancing a Scotch reel, and 
that just as they were going through the reel the music 
had ceased and the houses had suddenly taken root, he 
would form a pretty accurate impression of the plan of 
Lerwick. The houses, examined individually, improve 
on a nearer acquaintance. 

Besides comfortable lodgings there is boundless hos- 
pitality. Any man with a decent coat on his back, and 
a fair appearance of respectability, can count not only on 
hearty, but, if necessary, prolonged entertainment at a 
Shetland fireside. 


Shetland contains about a hundred islands ; of these 
nearly thirty are inhabited, and the population is upwards 
of 30,000. The climate is very variable, and there is great 
liability to sudden and sometimes violent storms. Of this 
two Crimean officers had good proof a year or two ago. 
They paid a visit to Shetland for the purpose of shooting 
and fishing, and called on a friend of mine with letters of 
introduction. They had supplied themselves with patent 
pots and pans for cooking, and a portable tent, under 
cover of which they meant to rough it during their sojourn. 
My friend, who knows Shetland well, told them that none 
but the sappers and miners had tried the experiment, and 
that they had great difficulty even with their substantial 
honse-like tent. 

" Oh," said one of them, who lisped very much, 


' bleth you, we've been uthed to all that thort of thing in 
the Crimea. We'll get on nithely, no thoubt." 

They went accordingly and pitched their tent in the 
neighbourhood of some fishing ground, and get on pretty 
well for a couple of nights. During the third night, 
however, a gust came suddenly sweeping down the gully 
where they were encamped and asleep, and carried ofi 
their tent bodily, poles and all, leaving them completely 
al fresco on the ground. The tent was never more seen. 

The harvest in average years is generally so late, and 
the weather so uncertain, that crops which promise all 
that could be wished to-day, are to-morrow blackened 
and blasted by an unexpected change to rain, sleet, or 

To the Shetlander the pony by the way it is always 
called a horse, unless you wish to lay yourself open to 
the charge of speaking disparagingly is invaluable, and 
yet, from the small amount of care bestowed on it, one 
would infer that it is not much valued. Generally, 
grooming is unknown, and corn an untasted luxury. He 
must pick up his food as best he may, at least in ordinary 
seasons. During snow-storms, when it is impossible for 
him to do so, he is supplied with some scanty fodder. 

And yet what a wonderful creature he is for endurance i 
His height ranges from thirty to between forty and fi% 
inches. A pony, to whose diminutive size and apparently 
slender build you would think it a risk to entrust yourself, 
will carry you pluckily, and sometimes rapidly, over forty 
miles a-day of the worst roads without a stumble, and 



without more refreshment than naif an hour's nibbling at 
stunted grass midway. It is a rare thing to see him with 
broken knees. Over shingle, bog, or quagmire, up-hill or 
down, leave him to himself and you are tolerably safe. 

Extensive use is made of him during the annual 
visit of the Dutch fishermen. On these occasions the 


more sedate walk about smoking and staring at the 
shop windows, while the younger seek a more excit- 
ing exercise, viz., riding on horseback. One day 
mutually and immemorially agreed upon is .devoted to 
this. On that day dozens of those who have horses 
assemble, steeds in hand, on a piece of ground above th 


thither too .betake themselves the horsey por 
tym of the Dutchman for twopfwe worth of equestrianism, 
whv?h consist or 1 a gallop out for half & mile o* so and 
back agaip. 

For the most part women and hoys are In charge of 
the steeds, with every conceivable kind of halter, from 
the decent leather to the old and apparently rotten rope ; 
some with saddles and stirrups, some with saddles with- 
out stirrups, some with an unambitious piece of coarse 
cloth or straw mat. Here a great tall fellow goes up to a 
very little pony, pays his twopence it is always prepaid 
and prepares to mount. But how is he to get the 
sabot, with a point like the prow of his own buss, into 
the stirrups ? It evidently can't be done. Off go the 
sabots a shake is all that is necessary and he gets into 
the saddle. 

At first he grasps only the bridle, but as the pace 
^quickens and it soon does that, for he means to have his 
twopenceworth you see his hand slip round to the back 
part of the saddle and take a firm hold. This is all very 
well, but the saddle itself is shaky, and the pony's back 
short ; so he must have more leverage by grasping the 
tail. There, now he's all right; but the motion is 
neither graceful nor easy, and his hat flies off. This was 
expected, for the woman or boy in charge follows behind 
for the double purpose of increasing the pace by whip- 
ping, and picking up anything that may be shaken loose. 

And now that he gets toward the end of his ride, heel, 
&sidk>, and leeh are pressed into service. One hand is 

IiEBWICK. 205 

require*! to hold on either by saddle or tail, the other is 
needed for the lash. How then can he dispose of the 
bridle ? In his teeth of course, and there he holds it. On 
he comes full swing. The road is very rough and down- 
hill now. His legs are well extended, and he is making no 
prehensile use of his knees. This can't last long. Hallo I 
there he's off rolling, with tittle harm done. 





ON the morning of the 4th of August we sailed 
Spiggie Bay in the cutter Xclsun. on an excursion :0 
Fair Isle and Foula. Crossing the sands we observed 3 
great many huge backbones, and learned that they were 
the remains of a shoal of the bottlenose or ca'ing whales, 
which had stranded themselves and been expeditiously 
slaughtered by the natives. 

It was a perfectly beautiful morning, and the wind 
though fair was extremly light. The skin of the sea, if 
I may use the expression, was as smooth as glass. We 
had a very deliberate view of the west side of the grand 
headland of Fitful Head, and an excellent opportunity of 
shooting dozens of porpoises as they came to the surface, 
with their peculiar wheel-like motion, to sun themselves 



for a second or two. This opportunity we availed our- 
selves of to the extent of frightening a few of them. 

We got near enough the island to see its physical features 
distinctly. The extreme north end rises sheer up from the 
sea like a wall, and on the top the grass grows to the very 
edge of the precipice. We see numberless incipient caves, 


and the process of cave-making is made very plain, layer 
after layer being washed off by the upward action of the 
water, each layer as it peels off making the arch higher. 

The stacks and rocks have the most fantastic shapes. 
^n* is surmounted by a lump exactly like a lion couchant 


and looking over its shoulder. The sheeprock, connected 
with the island by a ridge not many feet above the sea level, 
is like a hugh sphinx with the features blurred by too much 
washing, and another is like an old Rhine castle in ruins. 

No sooner is it plain that we are making for the shore 
than groups of women and children are seen on the 
hillocks, and almost immediately a boat is making for us, 
while another crew are seen rushing down to launch a 
second. Dividing our forces, we are rowed ashore in the 
two boats, and find a considerable number awaiting our 
arrival. The island is nearly three miles long and one 
and a half broad. Its highest point is about 700 feet. 
The population is 280 about 100 less than it was a year 
or two ago, but still too great. The bane of the islanders 
is their unwillingness to remove. 

Another drawback to their prosperity is the want of a 
proper harbour, so as to enable them to carry on fishing 
on a more extensive scale. Their only fishing is along 
the shores for saithe. The more remunerative deep-sea 
fishing is, I understand, not prosecuted to any large 

Foula, the etymology of which is said to be Fughloe or 
bird island, is now our destination, lying between fifteen 
and twenty miles west of Shetland, and upwards of fifty 
from Fair Isle. It is not quite so large as Fair Isle, but is 
much more picturesque. Viewed from the east it presents 
a serrated appearance, having five large hills and two or 
three stacks, all leaning in the same direction like the 
teeth of a saw. The highest of them is about 1,400 feet. 


s landing, one of onr party and myseli started on an 
expedition to the top of the Sneug Hill to see a species of 
gull called the bounxie or aqua-gull, which is to be found 
only here and on Roeness Hill. This bird used to be 
common enough, but bird-fanciers have almost killed 
them out. Some years ago the proprietor of the island, 
Dr. Scott of Melby, began to preserve them, and they are 
now not so very rare. 

We had scarcely started on our expedition when we were 
overtaken by a short wiry man, about sixty years of age, 
who told us that he was bound to accompany every one 
who landed to prevent the destruction of the bounxie. 
He was barefoot, and several times expressed his pity for 
us in climbing the hill with boots. We ware rewarded 
for our walk by a sight of the bounxie. It is not much 
larger, but more compact in build, than the common gull, 
and grey, with speckles of white. Its flight ia rapid, and 
its temper fierce, so much so that it is the terror of the 
eagle, and hence a protection to the lambs. It ia 
certainly a very plucky bird, as we found on a nearer 
approach to its nest. It kept hovering close around us, 
and every now and then with a rapid sweep passed close 
to our heads. Had we gone much nearer the keeper 
assured ns it would attack us, as it had often done him, 
striking him on the face with its wings. I have no doubt 
his account was true. 

Another rare bird, the allan, is found almost exclusively 
on this island, and is also protected. 

The rocks on the west side of Foula are 



grand, rising sheer from the sea to a height of 1,300 
feet. The natives are daring fowlers, and many lives are 
lost in the pursuit of eggs, It is said of the Foula man, 
"His gutcher (grandfather) gaed before, his father gaed 
before, and he must expect to go over the Sneug too." 
In my six visits to Shetland, I have only once failed to 

inc. Cit.ULE OF N"S:3. 

visit the Noup of Noss and the Orkneyman's Cave two 
of the most accessible and interesting sights. 

The Noup, to be seen in all its grandeur, should be 
approached by sea. The view from the top is very fine, 
but the giddy height of 600 feet can be fully appreciated 
only from the base of the wall-like rock. Starting, then, 


by boat, we pass round the south end of Bressay, where 
there is some grand rock scenery, in some places quite 
precipitous, and rising to a height of 300 or 400 feet. 
The action of the sea on some softer parts of the rock has 
cut out several large arches, through which I have passed 
in a boat without lowering sail. One immediately under 
the lighthouse is like a handsome bridge with an almost 
symmetrical arch. Another, called the giant's leg, also 
affords passage for a boat. The leg rises up from the sea 
like a flying buttress, as if to prop up the huge rock 
against which it leans, which certainly seems to need no 
such propping. And now we are in sight of Noss, though 
as yet we see only the landward grassy side of the peak. 

After a tack or two we get round the end of the 
island, and a view that for rugged grandeur can hardly be 
surpassed is presented to us. Close to the island lies the 
Holm of Noss, a huge solid rock cut off from the island 
by a chasm or passage which seems, in comparison with 
the height, a mere fissure, but which affords a good 
wide berth for a boat. The Holm is quite inaccessible, 
except by the apparently perilous but experimentally 
safe enough passage by what is known as the " cradle." 

The chasm is about 100 feet wide and under 
200 deep. Across it, the cradle, a box large enough to 
contain a man and a sheep, is slung by rings on two 
parallel ropes, which are fastened to stakes on either side 
of the chasm. 

This is the only mode of communication with the Holm, 
and it seems a dangerous one, a fall being certain death; 


and yet, though it has been in use for two centuries, nfi 
life has been lost by it. 

Communication with it was first suggested by the 
innumerable eggs with which it was seen to be covered. 
The offer of a cow was sufficient to tempt a fowler to 
scale it. The island being higher than the Holm, the 
ropes slope a little, and the cradle descends by its own 
weight. In returning, the passenger must either work 
his own passage, or be pulled up by his friends, no great 
efiort being required in either case. The Holm pastures 
about a dozen sheep. 

Steering our way between the island and the Holm, we 
come in full view of the Noup, which rises perpendicularly 
from the sea to a height of about 600 feet. Even after 
repeated visits it is a very grand sight ; when seen for the 
first time it is almost overpowering. I saw it first in the 
month of June, and at that season the face of the rock 
from bottom to top was literally covered with sea-birds, 
and had the speckled look which a pretty heavy sprinkling 
of snow would produce. We fired a gun and a cloud of 
birds shot out, darkening the air and almost deafening us 
with the noise. I have a distinct recollection that on 
that occasion my feeling was more akin to nervousness 
than I have ever experienced when there was no real 
cause for fear. At its base there is a natural pavement 
of considerable breadth, the scene of many a pleasant 

Returning by the way we came, and taking, as we pass 
beneath it, a last look at the airy cradle, to put a foot in 



which seems a tempting of Providence, we coast along 
Bressay, and after a not very long pull reach the cave, an 
opening about forty feet square at the mouth, but sixty feet 
in height inside. I am unable to say how far it extends 
inwards. I know that you can go in either so crookedly, 
or so far, or perhaps both, as to lose the daylight. Hence 


it is necessary to take torches with you, for without them 
you will neither see your way nor the beautiful stalactites 
which adorn the sides, some like birds, others like draped 
figures, and others which want similitude. 

It is called the Orkney man's Cave, from the circum- 
stance of an Orkney sailor, when pursued by the press- 
gang, having taken refuge in it. Once in,, he got on to a 


shelving rock, but did not take care to secure his boat, 
which drifted away, as there was a considerable ground 
swell. He remained a prisoner for two days, when, the sea 
having calmed down, he plunged in and swam to a point, 
from which he climbed to the top of the rock, and escaped. 

The effects of a generally tempestuous sea are every- 
where apparent. Near the peninsula of Northmavine is a 
lofty rock called the Dorholm, through which the sea has 
aten a wonderful arch, 140 feet in height, and above 500 
feet wide. Not far from this is another magnificent rock, 
called the Drenge, or Drongs, so fantastically cleft and 
shattered by the action of the sea as to present, from 
certain points of view, the appearance of a small fleet of 
vessels in full sail. 

There is perhaps no community that gives such 
indications of industry among the female population as 
Shetland. The knitting needles and the worsted are 
continually in their hands, and seem to form part and 
parcel of the woman herself. If you take a walk towards 
Tingwall, you will meet or pass dozens of women going 
for or returning with peats from the hill, all busy 
knitting one a stocking, another a stout shawl or cravat. 
The finer articles scarfs, veils, and lace shawls, which 
are often exquisitely fine cannot be worked in this 
off-hand way, and are reserved for leisure hours at home. 

The poorer classes generally wear, not shoes, but 
" rivlins" a kind of sandal made of untanned cow-hide, 
or sometimes sealskin, with the hair outside, and lashed 
to the foot with thongs. 



All the wool of the pure Shetland sheep is fine, but the 
finest grows under the neck, and is never shorn off, but 
"rooed, 1 ' that is, gently pulled. It is said that an 
ounce of wool can by skill be spun into upwards of 
1,000 yards of three-ply thread. Stockings can be 

knitted of such fineness as to be easily drawn through 
a finger-ring. 

To Shetlanders the sea and its products are of para- 
mount importance, and some account of their fisheries is 
accordingly indispensable. 

The boat used is the Norway yawl, fitted either for 
sailing or rowing, and with six of a crew. Each boat has 


between seven and eight miles of line and 1,000 hook* 
The lines are set in the evening, and if the first, haul in 
not successful they may bait and set them again. They 
sometimes remain out two nights, if the weather is fine, 
during which they must content themselves with very 
little sleep and scanty fare. They generally take nothing 
with them but oat-cakes and water. 

The ha'af fishing has many a sad tale to tell of drowning 
and disaster. Their boats of eighteen feet keel and six 
feet beam are little fitted to weather a severe storm. 
Anxious not to lose their lines in many cases their all 
the poor fishers bravely try to keep their ground, and 
often lose their lives as well. Such calamities are more 
overwhelming, from the fact that the crew of a boat are often 
all members of the same family. At such terrible times 
the warmth and kindliness of the Shetland character come 
out admirably, one family bringing up one orphan, another 
another, doubtless from the feeling that next season, or 
next week, their own little ones may be in similar case. 

Hibbert, in his " History of Shetland," mentions a 
toast that used to be, and perhaps is still, given at a rude 
festival about the beginning of the ha'af fishing : " Men 
an' brethren, lat wis (us) raise a helt (health). Here's 
first to da glory o' God, an' da guid o' wir (our) ain puir 
sauls, wir wordy landmaister, an' wir lovin' meatmither ; 
helt to man, death to fish, an' guid growth i' da grund." 
When this fishing, is over, and they are about to return to 
their harvest, the toast is, " God open the mouth o f 
da gray fish (sillocks), an' haud His hand aboot da com." 




'HETHEB 61* net it were right for Government &j) 
despatch uiis ezpediticn cf 1845, it was undoub'j- 
-ight, wher. thai expedition was felt to be in peril 
of destruction, ihai svery effort should be made to rsscu3 
the brs.73 men oi wli3_n it was ccnipcsec" 1 . 

And nobly was uhs claty fulfilled. From 1848, when. 
fears first began to be entertained for the safety c~2 
Franklin's crews, seventeen different attempts have been 
made to save them,, and, when rescue seemed all bu^ 
Jhcpeless, to ascertain at least their fate. 

The melancholy knowledge has at last been gained, 
,nd we propose briefly to repeat ths story, than whiek 
W3 know nans -XLCO c/OBcSung 7.31 Jlio history of 


On the 26th of May, 1845, Sir John Franklin sailed 
from England in command of her Majesty's ships the 
Erebus and Terror, already well tried in the expedition 
to the Antarctic Ocean under Sir James Ross. He was 
accompanied by Captain Crozier, whose experience in 
the Arctic Seas had been gained under Parry and Boss, 
and by a picked body of officers and men, numbering in 
all 134 persons. 

His orders were to endeavour to force his way through 
Lancaster Sound and Barrow's Strait to the longitude of 
Cape Walker, and thence to seek a passage to Behring 
Strait in a southerly direction ; or, in the event of the 
ice not permitting him to adopt this route, to explore the 
great opening to the north, called Wellington Channel, 
and endeavour to pierce westward in a higher latitude. 
The naval service had none better fitted for so responsible 
and arduous a post. 

The courage and the nerve of Franklin had been tried 
in the actions of Copenhagen and Trafalgar. His integrity 
and fitness for command, besides the power of gaining the 
affections of all with whom he came in contact, had been 
displayed in his administration under circumstances of 
no ordinary difficulty of the governorship of Tasmania. 
In former days he had earned from the sailors for his 
vessel the title of Franklin's Paradise. Already, too, he 
had, on three different occasions, conducted once as 
second in command, once in conjunction with Sir John 
Richardson, and once as leader expeditions to the 
Arctic Sea and to the northern shores of America. In 


these he had acquired a reputation for daring and en- 
durance, tempered with a sagacity and consideration foi 
the lives of those under his charge, which made his name 
even then a household word in the service. 

No one who has read the thrilling history of his retreat 
on the second of these expeditions, across the wastes 
which extend to the east of the Coppermine Eiver, can 
doubt that, in this new field, every effort of which 
humanity is capable would be made to win the goal, 
and when that was no longer possible, to save the rem- 
nants of his crew. 

And, above all, he was a sincere and earnest Christian. 
" He had a cheerful buoyancy of mind, which, sustained 
by religious principles of a depth known only to his most 
intimate friends, was not depressed in the most gloomy 
times." So writes Richardson, who knew him well, and 
who, " during upwards of twenty-five years, had his 
entire confidence, and in times of great difficulty and 
distress, whea all conventional disguise was out of the 
question, beheld his calmness and unaffected piety." 

With such a leader, the prospect of success seemed 
doubly bright, and officers and men were alike sanguine 
of a speedy and triumphant issue. The letters received 
from them from the coast of Greenland spoke in the 
warmest language of then* admiration of their commander, 
and their happiness in serving under him. And Franklin's 
own last utterance, as he sailed away into the night 
which, for him and them, was never more to know a 
dawn, was one of strong reliance on the hand of Him 



whom he had served through life, and b) 7 whom, we may 
feel well assured, though no word has come forth from 
his icy grave to tell us, he was not forsaken in his time of 

" Again," he writes to Parry, in, we believe, the last 


letter received from the expedition, and just a fortnight 
jbefore it was seen for the last time. " Acrain, ray dear 

o / 

Parry, 1 will recommend my dearest wife and daughter 
to your kind regards ; I know that they will heartily 
Join v, T it!" many dear friends in fervent prayer that the 


almighty Power may guide and protect us, and that the 
blessing of his Holy Spirit may rest upon us. Our 
prayers, I trust, will be offered up with equal fervour for 
those inestimable blessings to be vouchsafed to them, and 
to all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and truth. 
I humbly pray that God's best blessing may attend your- 
self, Lady Parry, and your family." 

The vessels were seen by a whaler in Baffin's Bay on 
the 26th of June, 1845, waiting for an opening in the ice 
to permit them to enter Lancaster Sound. They were 
never seen again. 

In 1847, public anxiety began to be shown for the 
safety of the explorers, and in the following year two 
expeditions were despatched in search ; the one, consist- 
ing of two vessels, to Behring Strait ; the other, under 
the command of Sir John Richardson, overland, to the 
north-eastern shores of America, which in that and the 
following year were traced from the extreme west to 
the estuary of the Coppermine. 

In 1849, Sir James Boss, also with two vessels, 
examined the shores of Barrow's Strait, and in a sledge 
excursion, traced the western coast of North Somerset 
to the latitude of 72 38', or within a short distance of 
the spot where, as we shall see, Captain M'Clintock 
wintered on his last voyage, and in the direct track, as 
it has since proved, of the missing ships. But next year 
on leaving his winter quarters, he was surrounded by the 
drift-ice, and carried helplessly eastward through the 
whole length of Lancaster Sound, into Davis' Strait, 


where he was only released at a period of the year too 
late to allow of the resumption of the search. 

Meanwhile, however, the work was being vigorously 
pursued by other hands ; and in 1850 no less than five 
distinct expeditions started from England, and two ves- 
sels, fitted out by the munificence of Mr. Grinnell, an 
American merchant, from New York. Into the details 
of these several explorations we need not enter ; but two 
of them, of which the Grinnell expedition was one, divide 
the merit of having discovered the first traces of the 
missing ships. 

These were found in Beechey Island, at the mouth of 
Wellington Channel, where it was discovered that Frank- 
lin had spent the winter of 1845-6, and where the tombs 
of three of his men, who had died early in the latter 
year, remained. Curiously enough, not one record or 
indication of any kind was found to point to the route 
which had been subsequently pursued by them ; but it 
was augured by many that they would follow a northern 
course through Wellington Channel, and should be sought 
for on the shores of the great Polar Ocean, indicated 
by Penny and by Kane. 

In this dubiety as to their after course, the search went 
on in various directions. Kane, in command of the 
Advance, fitted out by the renewed liberality of Mr. 
Grinnell, made that wonderful voyage to Smith's Strait, 
which stands without an equal even in these stirring 
annals ; Kennedy, accompanied by Lieutenant Bellot of 
the French navy, wno fell a martyr to ma devotion in tiie 



cause of humanity, all but touched the spot where, as we 
now know, the abandoned vessels were lying in the ice ; 
Oollinson and M'Clure forced their way along the 
northern coasts of America, the one to complete in 
safety the longest voyage ever known in the Arctic seas, 
the other after two winters spent in the ice, and at last 
abandoning the vessel in despair to effect, on foot, the 
escape of himself and his crew to another of the ships 
engaged in the search, and win the proud distinction 
of being the first to pass from west to east across these 
dreary wastes. 

Many other attempts were also made, fifteen vessels in 
all being engaged in the search between 1850 and 1853, 
but all hi vain. The stanchion of a ship's ice-plank, 
picked up by Dr. Rae, and the fragment of an iron bolt 
and of a hutch frame, seen by Captain Collinson in the 
possession of the Eskimos, were the only indications 
that could be connected with Franklin, and even these 
were susceptible of other explanations. 

But in 1854 the veil was lifted at last, and the traces 
of a terrible tragedy dimly disclosed to the startled 
seekers. In that year Dr. Rae, who, with indefatigable 
perseverance, had returned a third time to the search in 
the vicinity of King William's Land, encountered, in the 
course of his explorations between Pelly and Inglis Bays, 
a party of Eskimos, in whose possession were found a 
great variety of articles, and many pieces of silver plate, 
known to have belonged to officers both of the Erebu* 
and Terror. 



From these natives he learned that another party of 
the same tribe had met, in the spring of 1850, a band of 
about forty white men dragging a boat and sledges along 
the coast side of King William's Land, and making 
apparently for the Great Fish River. None of them 
could speak the Eskimo language ; but, from their signs, 
the natives understood that their vessels had been* 


crushed in the ice, and that they were then proceeding 
where they hoped to find deer to shoot, They had 
purchased a small seal from the natives, and from the 
thin appearance of the men all of whom, with the 
exception of one, who appeared to be an officer, were 
dragging on the haul-ropes of the sledge were thought 
to be running short of provisions. 


At a later period of the same year, the corpses *f some 
thirty persons, as well as some graves, were found by the 
Eskimos on the mainland, and five dead bodies on an 
island close by points agreeing in description with 
Montreal Island aud Point Ogle, at the mouth of the river 
above referred to. Some of the unfortunate band must 
have survived even as late as May or June, (or until the 
return of the wild fowl,) as shots had been heard about 
that time, and fresh bones and feathers gathered in the 
immediate vicinity. 

The melancholy news was verified by the articles 
received; but the moment it was learned, an anxious 
desire was felt to explore the spot where the last moments 
of the ill-fated crews had been spent, and which Dr. Kae, 
from the failure of his provisions and the state of the 
health of his party, had been unable to accomplish. Mr. 
Anderson, one of their chief factors, was accordingly 
despatched by the Hudson Bay Company, in 1855, down 
the Great Fish Eiver, to visit the scene of the cata- 
strophe, and endeavour to procure additional informa- 
tion fro;n a careful search for any records that might 
have been deposited, as well as from the tribes in the 


Unfortunately, this journey had a very imperfect result. 
The expedition was poorly supplied with the means of 
extending its operations. No interpreter could be pro- 
cured, and all communication with the tribes had to be 
carried on by signs. 

Numerous traces were indeed discovered of the missing 


rews, and a number of additional articles purchase^ 
from the Eskimos, but not a scrap of paper or record 
of any kind. The absence, too, of any graves, or cairns, 
or human bones, led many to the inference that the 
actnal spot referred to by the natives, in their common!* 
cation with Eae, had not yet been reached. 

Under these circumstances, an earnest appeal was 
made to Lord Palmerston, in June, 1856, by a number of 
men of science, and others who had taken a deep interest 
in Arctic discovery, and repeated, in an admirable letter 
addressed to him by Lady Franklin, in the December of 
the same year, to despatch a final expedition to the 
narrow and circumscribed area now known as that within 
which the missing vessels or their remains must lie, and 
the access to which appeared to be free from many of the 
difficulties and dangers which had hitherto attended the 
search. The Prime Minister, it is understood, had 
personally every desire to carry out the wishes of his 
memorialists, but was precluded from acceding to their 

Lady Franklin, however, had resolved that, if the 
Government declined, she should herself exhaust her 
fortune in this last effort ; and, aided by the contributions 
of many tried friends, she purchased the little screw 
yacht, the Fox, of 177 tons, and placed her, in April 1857, 
under the command of Captain M'Clintock, who had 
earned a distinguished name in the Arctic Seas, under 
Sir James Ross and Austin and Kellett. 

The refitting of the vessel was pressed forward with 


the utmost speed at Aberdeen by her original builders*, 
and a small body of twenty-five men, seventeen of whom 
had previously served in the search, carefully selected for 
her crew. The difficulty, indeed, was to know whom 
to prefer from the number of volunteers who came 

"Expeditions of this kind," says M'Clintock, "are 
always popular with seamen, and innumerable were the 
applications made to me ; but still more abundant were 
the offers ' to serve in any capacity,' which poured in 
from all parts of the country, from people of all classes, 
many of whom had never seen the sea. It was of course 
impossible to accede to any of these latter proposals ; yet, 
for my own part, I could not but feel gratified at such 
convincing proofs that the spirit of the country was 
favourable to us, and that the ardent love of hardy 
enterprise still lives among Englishmen as of old, to be 
cherished, I trust, a the most valuable of our national 
characteristics as that which has so largely contributed 
to make England what she is." 

The Government, though declining to send out an 
expedition themselves, liberally contributed to the pro- 
visioning of the vessel. 

By the end of June, the preparations were complete ; 
and on the 30th, Lady Franklin, accompanied by her 
niece, visited the vessel to bid farewell. The 
the vessel set sail. 




ON the 12th July, the Fox was off Cape Farewell, the 
southernmost part of Greenland, and on the 24th 
reached the Danish settlement of Godhaab, on the east 
coast of Davis' Strait, and transferred one of the crew, 
who had shown symptoms of diseased lungs, to a vessel 
:about to leave for Copenhagen. 

At Disco Bay, they secured the services of a young 
Eskimo as dog-driver, and a team of dogs, afterwards 
supplemented at the settlements of Proven and Uperna- 
vick, still farther to the north. On the 6th August, they 
arrived at the latter cluster of huts, well known to the 
readers of Kane's second voyage as the first inhabited 
spot he reached in his memorable escape from Smith's 
Strait in 1855. 


They had on board, as interpreter, Petersen, one of 
the party who accompanied Kane on that expedition, 
whose enthusiasm in the cause had led him to join 
M'Clintock from Copenhagen, just before the yacht left 
Aberdeen, though he had only returned six days pre- 
viously from Greenland, after a year's absence from his- 
family. Here the last letters for home were landed, and 
the vessel's head turned seaward. 

The drifting ice, which invariably obstructs the passage 
to Baffin's Bay, was reached next day; and after an 
attempt to find a middle passage, in the course of which 
they were once caught in the margin of the floe, and only 
escaped by the assistance of the screw, it was resolved to 
look for an opening on the north. On the 12th, they 
reached Melville Bay, in lat. 79, but found the whole sea 
to the 'northward blocked up by the ice. 

It was too late in the year to retrace their steps with a 
reasonable hope of reaching Barrow's Strait before the 
season closed ; and in the hope of the autumnal winds 
drifting southwards the pack, and so opening up a passage, 
they anchored to a berg, and, after three days' calm, 
were gladdened by their anticipations being realised, and 
finding themselves steaming along a widening lane of 
water through the ice to the north-west. But on the 
following evening the pack closed in around them, and 
they were cut off from all power either of advancing or 

The drift next day continued to the north-west, and 
carried the little vessel, of course, along with it; but OQ 


the 20th it ceased, and M'Clintock already beg&c to 
apprehend the possibility of having to winter in the pack. 
It was a trying thought ; but he could only abide his fate, 
and resolve, if it was to be such as he feared, " to repeat 
the trial next year, and in the end, with God's aid, 
perform his sacred duty." 

It was clear, at last, that there was to be no escape till 
spring, and the preparations for wintering were forthwith 
begun. They faced the gloomy prospect of more than 
half a year of absolute inutility with cheerful resignation ; 
and the disappointment which the delay would entail on 
the highly-wrought expectations of Lady Franklin, 
appears to have caused more regret than any mere 
selfish anticipations as to themselves. 

A school was opened on board by Dr. Walker, the 
Burgeon and naturalist of the expedition, and the spirit of 
inquiry shown by his pupils is spoken of by M'Clintock 
as gratifying in the extreme. This, with the exercising 
the men in the construction of snow huts, as preparative 
for their spring travelling, and the hunting the seal and 
bear, did much to while away the monotonous days of 
their imprisonment. On the 1st of November, they bade 
farewell to the sun ; on the 80th, the thermometer had 
descended to 64 below freezing. 

On the 4th December, the first death took place on 
board the engine-driver having fallen down a hatchway, 
and received such injuries that he died two daye 

And now, too, a steady drift from the north set in, 




and, day by day, they became aware that, in their icy 
prison, they were driving farther and farther from their 
destination. In the course of December, they had been 
carried southward sixty- seven miles. 

The month of April was full of days of anxiety and 
excitement. Gales from the north told severely on the 
continuity of the ice ; and on one occasion a rift was 
escaped with difficulty. At last, on the 17th, the ship 
was fairly adrift, and, in a heaving gale, running fast 
along the narrow channels that opened up t-o the south 
and east ; but only to be again frozen up on the following 

A week later, and the great swell of the Atlantic was 
felt for the first time, " lifting its crest five feet above the 
hollow of the sea, causing its thick covering of icy frag- 
ments to dash against each other" and the little bark. 
"The pack had taken upon itself," as Dr Kane had ex- 
pressed it, " the functions of an ocean," and, amidst a 
chaos of contending masses and shattered bergs, they had 
to steer their course to the open sea. 

Knowing well that near the edge of the pack the sea 
would be very heavy and dangerous, he had yet taken 
advantage of a favourable wind to run what he well calls 
his ice-tournament, and make an effort for escape. A 
few hours after the wind failed, and the vessel had to 
trust to her steam-power alone. By this time the swell 
of the ocean, covered with countless masses of ice and 
numerous large berg-pieces, to touch one of which latter 
must have been instant destruction, was rising ten feet 



above the trough of the sea. The shocks became alarm- 
ingly heavy; it was necessary to steer head on to the 
Swell, which was sufficient to send the waves in showers 
of spray over an iceberg sixty feet high, as they slowly 
passed alongside. 


Gradually, as the day wore on, the swell increased into 
a sea; but still, as by magic, they escaped all contact 
with any but the young ice, and, by tha afternoon, found 
the latter become more loose, and clear spaS<5D of v/ater 


visible ahead. They steered on at greater speed 
received fewer, though still more severe, shocks had 
room at length to steer clear of the heavier pieces and 
at last, at 8 p.m. on the 25th, " emerged from the vil- 
lanous pack, and were running fast through straggling 
pieces into a clear sea. The engines were stopped, and 
Mr. Brand (the engineer, and the only one since the death 
of Scott able to work them) permitted to rest, after 
eighteen hours' duty." 

" Throughout the day," says M'Clintock, " I trembled 
for the safety of the rudder and screv. Deprived of the 
one or the other, even for half an hour, I think our fate 
would have been soaled. ... On many occasions the 
engines were stopped dead by ice checking the screw ; 
once it was some minutes before it could be got to 
revolve again. Anxious moments those ! After yester- 
day's experience, I can understand how men's hair has 
grown grey in a few hours. Had self-reliance been my 
only support and hope, it is not impossible that I might 
have illustrated the fact. Under the circumstances, I did 
my best to ensure our safety, looked as stoical as possible, 
and inwardly trusted that God would favour our exer- 

" What a relief onrs has been, not only from eight 
months' imprisonment, but from the perils of that one 
day ! Ha<? STIT little vessel been destroyed after the ice 
broke up, tLeie remained no hope for us. But we have 
beec lroagi-1 safely througn, and are an truiy grateful, I 


During the 242 days in which they had been embedded 
in the ice, they had been carried southwards no less than 
1,885 miles. 

They now steered for Holsteinborg, a port of Green- 
land ; and, after a short stay to take in provisions, began 
again to coast southwards to their old quarters in 
Melville Bay, which, after more than one hard battle 
with the ice, and a narrow escape of leaving their vessel 
an a reef of rocks near Buchan Island, on which she ran 
aground, they reached on the 19th June, two months 
earlier than in the previous year. The passage across 
Baffin's Bay to the mouth of Lancaster Sound was still 
one of extreme difficulty, in the course of which the 
imprisonment of last year seemed more than once likely 
to be their fate again ; but, on the 16th July, they were 
fairly over, and " dodging about in a tub of water " off 
Cape Warrender. 

The ice still blocked up the whole of Lancaster Sound, 
and three weeks were devoted to a visit to Pond's Bay, 
gome seventy miles farther north, and to a close interro- 
gation of the Eskimo tribes in the vicinity, as to some 
rumours of wrecks reported to have taken place in their 
neighbourhood, but which it was ascertained were 
unfounded. On the 9th of August, they were again off 
Lancaster Sound, now comparatively open ; and, two 
days later, anchored off Beechey Island, where, as already 
mentioned. Franklin spent his first winter. 

On the 16th. the Fox sailed from Beechey Island for 
Peel Channel, by which it was hoped that an access 


might be gained to Victoria Strait, on the shores of which 
the expected traces of the Erebus and Terror were to be 

For two days this ronte was pursued without inter- 
ruption ; but on the evening of the second, the dis- 
appointed crew beheld in their front a sheet of un- 
broken ice, extending from shore to shore. Not daring 
to lose a moment in what would most probably have been 
a fruitless attempt to force a passage, the vessel's head 
was again turned, and the last chance of an access by 
the parallel estuary of Prince Regent's Inlet and Bellot'a 
Strait, reported to form a passage to the open water on 
the west, tried by their now doubly -anxious commander. 

The crisis of the voyage was fast approaching. "Does 
Bellot Strait really exist ? If so, is it free from ice ? " 

They reached its mouth on the 20th, and found locked 
ace streaming out of the opening. The next day they had 
forced their way half through, but the lock to the west 
was so consolidated, that though seventeen days were 
spent in repeated efforts, and they were at last enabled 
on the 6th September to steer right through the passage, 
all further progress was at last abandoned as hopeless, 
and the yacht, on the 28th, made secure for the second 
winter in a little creek on the northern shore. 

" To-day we are unbending sails and laying up the 
ngines ; uncertainty no longer exists, here we 
compelled to remain ; and if we have not beep 
successful in our voyaging as a month ago we h^ 

reason to expect, we may still hope that F< 



smile upon our more humble, yet more arduous, pedestritE 
explorations ' Hope on, hope ever 1 ' 

We hurry over the details of the winter months, the 
monotonous and dreary solitude of which was endured 
with a cheerfulness which speaks volumes for the crew 
and their officers ; and look in again upon the little 
band as on the 17th of February, 1859, the sledge 
parties left the ship for the first time on their several 

From the western extremity of Bellot's Strait, the 
coast of Boothia, and the whole coast of King William's 
Island, to the mouth of the Great Fish River, was to be 
thoroughly explored ; while to the north, the coast of 
Prince of Wales' Island was to be traced to the point in 
latitude 72 50', reached by Sherard Osborn in 1851. 

Captain Young, of the mercantile marine, whose enthu- 
siasm in the cause had not only induced him to abandon 
lucrative appointments in command, and accept of y a 
subordinate post on board the Fox, but to subscribe 
JB500 in aid of her outfit, was now, with a few men, 
about to start for the purpose of depositing provisions in 
the last - mentioned direction, in view of the more 
extended search in the spring, and Captain M'Clintock, 
with Petersen and another, to leave for the south, for a 
similar purpose, and to. communicate with the Eskimos 
of Boothia. Both parties returned in safety in the follow- 
ing month, and M'Clintock with important intelligence, 
bearing on the main object of the expedition. 

H< had encountered, in the immediate vicinity of the 



magnetic pole, in latitude 70, a small bamd of natives 
one of whom had on his dress a naval button. 

" It came," they said, " from some white men who 
were starved upon an island where there are salmon 


(that is, in a river), and that the iron of which their 
knives were made came from the same place. One of 
these men said he had been to the island to obtain wood 
and i*n, but none of them had seen the white men t "> 


" Next morning, the entire village population arrive^ 
Amounting to about forty-five souls, from aged people to 
infants in arms, and bartering commenced very briskly. 
First of all we purchased all the relics of the lost expedi- 
tion, consisting of six silver spoons and forks, a silver 
medal, the property of Mr. A. M'Donald, assistant-sur- 
geon, part of a gold chain, several buttons, and knives 
made of the iron and wood of the wreck, also bows and 
arrows constructed of materials obtained from the same 

" None of these people had seen the whites ; one man 
said he had seen their bones upon the island where they 
died, but some were buried. Petersen also understood 
him to say that the boat was crushed by the ice. Almost 
all of them had part of the plunder. 

" Next morning, 4th March, several natives came to us 
again. I bought a spear six and a half feet long from a 
man who told Petersen distinctly that a ship having three 
masts had been crushed by the ice out in the sea to the 
west of King William's Island, but that all the people 
landed safely ; he was not one of those who were eye- 
witnesses of it ; the ship sunk, so nothing was obtained 
by the natives from her ; all that they have got, he said, 

came from the island in the river." 

M'Clintock, on receiving this intelligence, harried back 
to the Fox with all the speed in his power, and organised 
plans for a careful and deliberate search of the district in 
question. He had encountered great hardships on this 
rapid journey, daring which he had travelled, in twenty 


five days, 420 miles, in a temperature the mean of which 
was 62 below freezing. 

On the 2nd of April all was ready for the start. 
Lieutenant Hobson, the second in command, was en- 
trusted with the examination of the western coast of 
King William's Island, M'Clintock following the bend of 
Boothia to the east, exploring the eastern shore of the 
island, and, after a visit to Montreal Island, returning in 
the track of Hobson. The two parties proceeded in 
company to the spot where the natives had been met 
with, and gained from them, on this second visit, addi- 
tional information. 

" The young man who sold the knife told us that the 
body of a man was found on board the ship ; that he must 
have been a very large man, and had long teeth ; this ia 
all he recollected having been told, for he was quite a 
child at the time. 

" They both told us it was in the fall of the year that 
is, August or September when the ships were destroyed ; 
that all the white people went away to the ' large river,' 
taking a boat or boats with them, and that in the following 
winter their bones were found there." 




AT Cape Victoria, Hobson and M'Cliritock parted 
company, and we now follow the steps of the latter. 
Crossing over the channel which separates Boothia from 
King William's Island, he passed several deserted 
villages of the Eskimos, around which numerous chips 
and shavings of wood from the last expedition were seen, 
and at last reached a cluster of thirty or forty inhabited 
huts, where he purchased for a few needles six spoons 
and forks with the crests or initials of Franklin, C rosier, 
and others of their companions, and was told that it was 
five days' journey across the island to the scene of the ' 
wreck, of which but little now remained. 

The site of the wreck lying exactly in Hobson's track, 
in which he was himself to return, M'Clintoek contused 


his journey to the southern extremity of the island, and 
thereafter crossed over to Point Ogle and Montreal 
Island, at the foot of the Great Fish River. A careful 
examination of the latter, the last spot in which the 
survivors of the last party had been seen by the natives, 
yielded nothing to the seekers but a piece of a preserved 
meat tin and some scraps of copper and iron hoops ; and 
with much disappointment they again turned northwards 
on the 19th of May. 

Five days afterwards they recrossed to King William's 
Island, and folio \ved the windings of the western shore. 
Here, on the 25th, " while slowly walking along on a 
gravel ridge near the beach, which the winds kept 
partially bare of snow," in all the solemn stillness of an 
Arctic midnight, they came upon a human skeleton 
stretched upon its face, with scraps of clothing lying 
round, and appearing through the snow. The victim ap- 
peared to have been a young man, slight build, and, from 
his dress, a steward or officer's servant. A pocket-book 
found close by afforded hopes of his identification, but 
though every effort was made to decipher the hard frozen 
leaves, nothing but a few detached sentences, in no way 
bearing on the fate of the expedition, has been made out. 
" It was a melancholy truth that the old woman spoke 
when she said, ' they fell down, and died as they walked 
along.' .... This poor man seems to have selected the 
bare ridge top, as affording the least tiresome walking, 
and to have fallen upon his face in the position in which 
we found him." 


They now approached a large cairn, originally built by 
Simpson in 1839, and where, as it must have been 
passed by the last crews, they eagerly anticipated finding 
some record ; but a careful search proved wholly fruitless, 
and from the appearance of the cairn, they were led to 
believe that it had already been examined and rifled 
by the Eskimos. Twelve miles further, however, they 
came upon a cairn built by Hobson's party, who had 
reached the same point a few days before, and in which 
was deposited a note, announcing the discovery of the 
record so ardently sought, under a third cairn, still 
further to the south, and on the site of one formerly built 
by Sir James Ross. 

" There is an error in this document," says Captain 
M'Clintock ; " namely, that the Erebus and Terror 
wintered at Beechey Island in 1846-7 ; the correct 
dates should have been 1845-6. A glance at the date at 
the top and bottom of the record proves this, but in all 
other respects the tale is told in as few words as possible 
of their wonderful success up to that date, May, 

" Seldom has such an amount of success been accorded 
to an Arctic navigator in a single season, and when the 
Erebus and Terror were secured at Beechey Island for 
the coming winter of 1845-6, the results of their first 
year's labour must have been most cheering. These 
results were the exploration of Wellington and Queen's 
Channel, and the addition to our charts of the extensive 
lands on either hand. In 1846 they proceeded to the 











!' r J.' 


outh-west, and eventually reached within twelve miles 
of the north extreme of King William's Land, when their 
progress was arrested by the approaching winter of 
1846-7. That winter appears to have passed without 
any serious loss of life ; and when in the spring Lieu- 
tenant Gore leaves with a party for some especial 
purpose, and very probably to connect the unknown 
coast-line of King William's Land between Point Victory 
and Cape Herschel, those on board the Erebus and Terror 
were 'ail wail,' and the gallant Franklin still com- 

But, alas ! round the margin of the paper upon which 
Lieutenant Gore, in 1847, wrote those words of hope 
and promise, a sad and touching postscript had been 
added by another hand on the 28th April in the following 

'* There is some additional marginal information relative 
to the transfer of the document to its present position 
(viz., the site of Sir James Ross's pillar) from a spot four 
miles to the northward, near Point Victory, where it had 
been originally deposited by the late Commander Gore. 
This little word late shows us that he too, within the 
twelvemonth, had passed away. 

" In the short space of twelve months how mournful 
had become the history of Franklin's expedition, how 
changed from the cheerful ' all well ' of Graham Gore ! 
The spring of 1847 found them within 90 miles of the 
known sea off the coast of America ; and to men who 
had already, in two seasons, sailed over 500 miles of 


previously unexplored waters, how confident must they 
then have felt that that forthcoming navigable season of 
1847 would see their ships pass over so short an inter- 
vening space 1 It was ruled otherwise. Within a month 
after Lieutenant Gore placed the record on Point Victory, 
the much-loved leader of the expedition, Sir John 
Franklin, was dead ; and the following spring found Cap- 
tain Crozier, upon whom the command had devolved, at 
King William's Land, endeavouring to save his starving 
men, 105 souls in all, from a terrible death, by retreating 
to the Hudson Bay territories up the Back or Great Fish 

" A sad tale was never told in fewer words. There is 
something deeply touching in their extreme simplicity, 
and they show in the strongest manner that both the 
leaders of this retreating party were actuated by the 
loftiest sense of duty, and met with calmness and decision 
the fearful alternative of a last bold struggle for life, 
rather than perish without effort on board their ships ; for 
we well know that the Erebus and Terror were only 
provisioned up to July, 1848 

" Lieutenant Hobson's note told me that he found 
quantities of clothing and articles of all kinds lying about 
the cairn, as if these men, aware that they were retreating 
for their lives, had there abandoned everything which they 
considered superfluous." 

But there was yet a third, and not the least affecting, 
discovery to be made by the returning band. As they 
reached the western extremity of the island, they came 


in sight of a wide and desolate bay, on the southern 
shore of which was found a large boat, mounted on a 
sledge ; " another melancholy relic which Hobson had 
found and examined a few days before, as his note left 
here informed me, but he had failed to discover record, 
journal, pocket-book, or memorandum of any descrip- 

In the boat was that which transfixed the searchers 
with awe : the portions of two skeletons the one of a 
slight young person ; the other of a large, strongly-made, 
middle-aged man. Near the former, which lay in the 
bow of the boat, was found the fragment of a pair of 
worked slippers, and beside them a pair of small strong 
shooting half- boots. 

" The other skeleton was in a somewhat more perfect 
state, and was enveloped with clothes and furs ; it lay 
across the boat, under the after-thwart. Close beside it 
were found five watches ; and there were two double- 
barrelled guns one barrel in each loaded and cocked 
standing muzzle upwards against the boat's side. It may 
be imagined with what deep interest these sad relics were 
scrutinised, and how anxiously every fragment of cloth 
ing was turned over in search of pockets and pocket- 
books, journals, or even names. Five or six small 
books were found, all of them scriptural or devotional 
works, except the 'Vicar of Wakefield.' One little book, 
* Christian Melodies,' bore an inscription upon the title- 
page from the donor to G. G. (Graham Gore ?) A small 
Bible contained numerous marginal notes, and whole 


passages underlined. Besides these books, the covers </ 
a New Testament and Prayer-book were found 

" The only provisions we could find were tea aui 

chocolate ; of the former very little remained, but there 

were nearly forty pounds of the latter. These articles 

alone could never support life in such a climate, and we 

found neither biscuit nor meat of any kind 

" I was astonished to find that the sledge was directed 
to the N.E., exactly for the next point of land for which 
we ourselves were travelling I 

" A little reflection led me to satisfy my own mind at 
least, that the boat was returning to the ships ; and in 
no other way can I account for two men having been left 
in her, than by supposing the party were unable to drag 
the boat further, and that these two men, not being able 
to keep pace with their shipmates, were therefore left by 
them supplied with such provisions as could be spared, tc 
last until the return of the others from the ship with a 
fresh stock. 

" The same reasons which may be assigned for the 
return of this detachment from the main body, will also 
serve to account for their not having come back to their 
boat. In both instances they appear to have greatly 
overrated their strength, and the distance they could 
travel in a given time." 

What thoughts must those have been of that lonely 
pair in the deserted boat, as hour by hour they gazed 
across the dreary wastes for the comrades who never 
returned, or of that strong man ID his solitary death- 



-watch when his sole companion had sunk beside him 
into his eternal sleep ! 

Neither by Hobson nor M'Clintock had any trace been 
found of the missing vessels, and at last the latter reached 
the cairn where the record above referredto had been 


discovered by his lieutenant. Around it were found an 
immense variety of relics stores, pick-axes, shovels, 
compasses, medicine-chest, &c., and a heap of clothing 
four feet high but not one scrap of writing. 

From this point the coast was carefully explored to the 


south, but no further traces were found, &nd on the 19th 
June the weary searchers reached once more " their poor 
dear lovely little Fox" 

Little is said by M'Clintock of the determination 01 
endurance required bearing on so extended and minute a 
search on an Arctic shore for a period of more than two 
months and a-half. The temperature was frequently 
nearly 30 below zero, with cutting north winds, bright 
sun, and intense severe glare. The men had each to drag 
a weight of 200 Ibs., to encamp every evening in snow 
huts, which it cost something like two hours of hard 
labour, at the close of a long day's walk, to build, and in 
which the very blankets and clothes became loaded with 

" When onr low doorway was carefully blocked Tip 
with snow, and the cooking lamp alight, the tempera- 
ture quickly rose, so that the walls became glazed and 
our bedding thawed ; but the cooking over, as the door- 
way partially opened, it as quickly fell again, so that it 
was impossible to sleep, or even to hold one's pannikin of 
tea without putting our mitts on, so intense was the cold.'* 

Under these privations, Hobson at last had fairly 
broken down, and for many days before he reached the 
yacht had been totally unable to walk or even stand with- 
out assistance. He was obliged in consequence to be 
dragged home in one of the sledges, but by the time 
M'Clintock arrived had already begun to mend. One 
death had taken place during their absence, making, 
with that of the engineer, who had suddenly died of 


apoplexy during the winter, the third that had occurred 
in the voyage. 

Captain Young had been compelled to return some time 
before from his explorations to the north for medical 
assistance, his health having been greatly injured by 
exposure and fatigue ; but after having recruited, had 
started again to renew the search, in the face of a strong 
written protest by the doctor ; and his continued absence 
was now the only cause of anxiety to the little band. At 
last M'Clintock, with five men, set off to seek him, and 
two days after, to his great joy, encountered him on his 
return, so weakened that he too was travelling in the 
dog-sledge, but with the particulars of a long and most 
interesting exploration of new ground, though without 
any traces of the missing crews. 

Every part of the proposed search had now been fully 
and efficiently performed, and all thoughts were busied 
towards home. By the middle of July, they were ready 
to start ; but it was not until the 10th of the following 
month, and after many anxious hours, that the little 
vessel was fairly under way. 

Their passage homewards was almost without inter- 
ruption from the ice, except for four days, when, though 
it closed them in, its friendly shelter apparently saved 
them from the worse fate of being driven ashore in a 
heavy gale off Ores well Bay. Without either engineer or 
engine-driver, M'Clintock had himself to superintend the 
working of the engines, and found, at first, the unwonted 
task not a little arduous ^ot ->nlv from its novelty, but 


the continuous attention required, extending, OB on 
occasion, to twenty-four hours' incessant work. On the 
21st, they gained the open sea, and, eight days later, 
were lying in the quiet security of Godhaven, reading 
their first letters from home, after a lapse of two yeas ; 
and, on the 20th September, arrived in safety in the 
Irish Channel. 

{t I will not," writes the commander, in the simple and 
manly phrase which lends to his volume such an addi- 
tional charm, " intrude upon the reader, who has followed 
me through the pages of this simple narrative, any de- 
scription of my feelings on finding the enthusiasm with 
which we were all received on landing upon our native 
ihores. The blessing of Providence had attended our 
efforts, and more than a rou measure of approval from 
our friends and countrymen has been our reward. For 
myself, the testimonial given me by the officers and crew 
of the Fox has touched me perhaps more than all. The 
purchase of a gold chronometer, for presentation to me, 
was the first use the men made of their earnings ; and as 
long as I live, it will remind me of that perfect harmony, 
that mutual esteem and good- will, which made our ship'i 
company a happy little community, and contributed ma- 
terially to the success of the expedition/ 9 





DO you wish your lungs to expand, your eyes to dilate, 
your muscles to spring, and your spirits to leap ? 
then come to Norway ! I repeat it be you man or 
woman, grave or gay ; if you ever indulge in lofty aspi- 
rations, in bold contemplations, in desperate imaginings 
come to Norway, and you will receive much satisfaction, 
I assure you. 

Are you a man ? You will find subject and occasion 
for your manhood. Are you a woman ? You will find 
yourself at the fountain-head of the sublime and beautiful. 
Are you scientific ? The- rocks are bold and bare the 
flora rich and varied. Birds and beasts of many kinds 
there are ; glaciers, too, miles and miles of them, filling up 
the valleys, and covering the mountain tops awaiting the 

264 NORWAY. 

inspection of yonr critical eye. Are you a painter ? There 

is ample field for the wildest pencil and the boldest brush. 

Are you a fisher ? Here is your terrestrial paradise. 


But you must be a fisher of the rough school, not "a 
follower of the gentle art." Can you wade all day in 
snow-water ? Can you swim down a roaring rapid 
perchance shoot over a cataract, and count it but a trifle 
with a twenty foot rod in your hands, and a thirty-pound 
ealmon at the end of your line, making for the sea at the 
rate of twenty miles an hour ? Then, by all means come 
to Norway. But you must be possessed of a singularly 
patient and self-denying character. Mark that well. 

Are you a daring mountaineer ? The mountains of 
Gamle Norge (Old Norway), though not so high as those 
of the Himalaya range, are high enough for most men. 
The eagle will guide you to heights if you can follow 
him on which human foot has never rested. 

Do you love the sunshine ? Think of the great 
luminary that rules the day, rolling through the bright 
blue sky all the twenty-four hours round. There is no 
night here in summer, but a long, bright, beautiful day, 
as if Nature were rejoicing in the banishment of night 
from earth for ever. 

But, above all, do you love simplicity, urbanity, unso- 
phisticated kindness in man ? Are you a student of 
human nature, and fond of dwelling on its brighter 
aspects ? Then once more I say, come to Norway, for 
you will find ner sons and daughters overflowing with the 
milk of human kindness. 

THE LAND. 265 

1 was fortunate enough to come to Norway in a friend's 
yacht, and voyaged along the west coast from south to north. 

It is impossible to give any one an adequate idea of 
what is meant by sailing among the islands off the coast 
of Norway, or of the delights attendant on snm navi- 
gation. If you would understand this thoroughly, yon 
must experience it for yourself. Here is a brief sum- 
mary of pleasures. 

Yachting without sea-sickness. Scenery ever changing, 
always beautiful and wild beyond description. Landing 
possible, desirable, frequent. Expectation ever on tiptoe. 
Hope constant. Agreeable surprises perpetual. Tremen 
dous astonishments numerous, and variety without end. 
Could any one desire more ? 

The islands extend along the whole coast in myriads. 
I presume that their actual number never has been, and 
never can be, ascertained. Some are so huge that you 
mistake them for the mainland. Others are so small that 
you might take them for castles floating on the sea. And 
on many of them most of them, perhaps you find 
small houses quaint, gable-ended, wooden, and red-tile- 
roofed in the midst of small patches of verdure, or, not 
unfrequently, perched upon the naked rock. 

In some cases a small cottage may be seen unrelieved 
by any blade of green, sticking in a crevice of the rock 
like some miniature Noah's Ark, tnat had taken the 
ground there and been forgotten whep the flood went 
down. , 

You come or deck in the morning ; the snn is blazing 



in the bright blue sky ; the water is flat as a mill-pond 
clear as a sheet of crystal. Sky-piercing mountains sur- 
round you, islands are scattered everywhere, but no niain- 


land is visible ; yet much of what you see appears to be 
mainland, for the mountains are islands and the island? 
are mountains. Indeed it is almost impossible to tel' 

THE LAND. 267 

where the mainland begins, and where the island-world 

The white mists of early morning are rolling over the 
deep shrouding, partially concealing, partly disclosing, 
mingling with and ramifying everything, water and sky 
inclusive. On one side an island mountain, higher and 
grander than Ben Nevis, rears itself up so precipitously 
and looks down on the sea so frowningly, that it appears 
as if about to topple over on your head. On the other 
side a group of low skerries, bald and grey, just peep out 
above the level of the water, bespattered with and over- 
shadowed by myriads of clamorous sea-gulls. You gaze 
out ahead, you glance over the stern, and behold similar 
objects and scenes endlessly repeated, and diversified. 

The ascending sun scatters the mists, glitters on the 
sea, and converts the island world into gold. You almost 
shout with delight. You seize your ^etch-book (if a 
painter), your note-book (if an author), and, with brush 
or pencil, note down your fervid impressions in glowing 
colours or in words that burn. Ten to one, however, you 
omit to note that a large proportion of the beauty in the 
midst of which you are revelling is transient, and owes its 
existence very much to the weather. 

Another traveller passes through the same scenes under 
less favourable circumstances. The sky is grey, the 
mountains are grey, the water is grey or black, and a 
stiff breeze, which tips tho wavelets with sno\v-wirite 
crests, causes him to feel disagreeably cold. The gulls 
are silent and melancholy ; the sun is nowhere ; perhapi 

268 NORWAY. 

a drizzle of rain makes the deck sloppy. The great 
island mountains are there, no doubt, but they are dis- 
mally, gloomily grand. The rocky islets are there too ; 
but they look uncomfortable, and seem as if they would 
fain hide their heads hi the troubled sea, in order to 
escape the gloom of the upper world. 

The traveller groans and brushes away the raindrops 
that hang from the point of his lugubrious nose. If, in 
the eccentricity of despair, he should retire to the cabin, 
draw forth his note-book, and apply his stiffened fingers 
and chilled intellect to the task of composition, what does 
he write ? " Detestable weather. Beauty of scenery 
absurdly overrated. Savage enough it is, truly ; would 
that I were not in a like condition." Thus difference of 
opinion arises, and thus the nun- travelling public is 
puzzled in its mind by the conflicting statements of men 
of unimpeachable veracity. 

Through this island-world we sailed until the great 
mountain ranges of the interior became clearly visible, 
and as we gazed into the deep fiords we felt that that 
boldness and ruggedness so eminently characteristic of 
the old Norse vikings must have been fostered, if not 
created, by the scenery of their fatherland. 

As we gazed and pondered, a huge old-fashioned ship 
came out suddenly from behind an island, as if to increase 
the archaic character of the scenery. There it was, un- 
doubtedly (and there it may be seen every day), with the 
game high stempost as the galleys of old, only wanting a 
curve at the top and a dragon's head to make it complete, 


THE LAND. 271 

and the same hnge single mast with its one unwieldy 
square sail. 

Presently a boat shot alongside and a sedate seaman 
stepped on board a blue-eyed, fair-haired, sallow man 
with knee-breeches and long stockings, rough jacket, no 
vest, a red night-cap, and a glazed hat on the top of it. 
This was the pilot. He was a big, placid-looking man of 
about forty, with a slouching gait and a pair of immensely 
broad shoulders. We found that he had been away north 
for several weeks, piloting a vessel of some sort beyond 
the Arctic circle. He was now close to his home, but our 
signal had diverted him from his domestic leanings, and, 
like a thorough sea-monster, he prepared, at a moment's 
notice, for another voyage. 

The obvious advantage that a yachter has over the 
voyager by steamboat is, that he can cast anchor when 
and where he pleases, and diverge from his course at will. 
Thus he discovers unsuspected points of interest and 
visits numberless spots of exquisite beauty, which, I 
verily believe, lie thickly hidden among these isles, as 
completely unknown to man (with the exception of a few 
obscure native fishermen in the neighbourhood) as are 
the vast solitudes of Central Africa. The yachter may 
sail for days, ay, for weeks, among these western islands, 
imbued with the romantic feelings of a Mungo Park, a 
Livingstone, or a Robinson Crusoe ! 

This is by no means a wild statement. When we con- 
sider the immense extent of the Norwegian coast, the 
umumerable friths of all sizes by which it is cut up, and 



the absolute impossibility of being certain as to whether 
the inlets which you pass in hundreds are fiords running 
into the main or mere channels between groups of islands, 
coupled with the fact that there is comparatively little 
traffic in the minor fiords except such as is carried on by 
native boats and barges, we can easily conceive that there 
are many dark friths along that coast which are as little 


known to travellers now, as they were in the days when 
Rolf Ganger issued from them with his vikings to conquer 
Normandy and originate those families from which have 
sprung the present aristocracy of England. 

"\Ve ascended a fiord of this kind which we knew had 
not up to that time been visited, because there was a 
glacier at the head, which is mentioned by Professor 

TliE LAND. 27<l 

Farbes as being known only through native report no 
traveller having seen it. This was the Skars fiord in lat. 
67 N. The mere fact of this glacier" being unknown, 
except by report, induced us to turn into the fiord with 
all the zest of explorers. A run of twelve miles brought 
us within sight of the object of our search, the first 
glance at which filled us with awe and admiration. But 
the longer we stayed and explored this magnificent "ice- 
river," the more were we amazed to find how inadequate 
were our first conceptions of its immense size. 

Appearances here are to our eyes very deceptive, 
owing, doubtless, to our being unaccustomed to scenery 
of such grandeur and magnitude. 

This glacier of the Skars fiord appeared to be only a 
quarter of a mile wide. On measuring the valley, which 
it entirely filled up, we found it to be nearly two miles in 
breadth. Its lower edge appeared to be a few feet thick, 
and about twenty yards or so from the sea, the shore of 
which was strewn with what appeared to be large stones. 

On landing, we found that the space between the ice 
and the sea was upwards of half a mile in extent ; the 
large stones turned out to be boulders, varying in size 
from that of a small boat to a large cottage ; while the 
lower edge of the glacier itself was an irregular wall of 
ice about fifteen or twenty feet in height. 

Standing at its base we looked up the valley over the 
fissured surface of the ice to that point -where the white 
snow of its upper edge cut clear and sharp against the 
blue sky, and, after much consultation, we came to tb* 


274 NORWAY. 

conclusion that it might be three or four miles from top 
to bottom. But, after wandering the whole day up the 
valley by the margin of the ice and carefully exploring it, 
we were forced to believe that it must be at least eight or 
ten miles in extent, and undoubtedly it was many hun- 
dreds of feet thick. When we reflect that this immense 
body of ice is only one of the many tongues which, de- 
scending the numerous valleys, carry off the overflow of 
the great mer de glace on the hill-tops of the interior, 
we can form some conception of the vast tract of 
Norwegian land that lies buried summer and winter 
under the ice. 

There was a little blue spot in the glacier at a short 
distance from its lower edge which attracted our atten- 
tion. On reaching it we found that it was a hole in the 
roof of the sub-glacial river. 

The ice had recently fallen in, and I never beheld such 
intensely soft and beautiful blue colour as was displayed 
in the caverns thus exposed to view, varying from the 
faintest cerulean tinge to the deepest indigo. Immense 
masses of rock which had fallen from the cliffs lay 
scattered along the surface of the ice near the edge, and 
were being slowly transported towards the sea so 
slowly, that probably months would pass before the 
smallest symptom of a change in position could be 

There were very few natives in this wild spot so few 
that their presence did not in any appreciable degree 
tffect the solitude and desolation of the scene. They 

UHE iAND. 277 

expressed much surprise at seeing us, and said that 
travellers like ourselves had never been there before. 
Indeed, I have no doubt whatever that in many out-of- 
the-way places we were absolutely the first individuals of 
a class somewhat different from themselves that these 
poor Norse fishermen and small farmers of the coast had 
ever set eyes upon. Their looks of surprise in some 
cases, and of curiosity in all, showed this plainly enough. 

In one chaotic glen or gorge where we landed we 
distributed a few presents among the people such aa 
knives, scissors, and thimbles with which they were 
immensely delighted. Three of our party were ladies ; 
and the curiosity exhibited by the Norse women in regard 
to our fair companions was very amusing. By the way, 
one of the said "fair" companions was a brunette, and 
her long jet black ringlets appeared to afford matter for 
unceasing wonder and admiration to the flaxen-haired 
maidens of Norway. 

Of course I am now speaking of the untravelled dis- 
tricts. In the regular highways of the country, travel- 
lers of every class and nation are common enough. But 
Norway, in the interior as well as on the coast, has 
this advantage over other lands, that there are regions, 
plenty of them, where travellers have never been, and to 
reach which is a matter of so great difficulty that it is 
probable few will ever attempt to go. This fact is a 
matter of rejoicing in these days of railroads and steam- 




WHILE we were sailing up the Sogney fiord, which 
runs between stupendous mountains about a hun- 
dred miles into the interior of the country, we came to 
a gap in the mountains into which ran a branch of the 

The spirit of discovery was strong upon my friend, the 
owner of the yacht, so he ordered our skipper to turn into 
it. We were soon running into as wild and gloomy a 
region as can well be conceived, with the mountains rising, 
apparently, straight up from the sea into the clouds, and 
tongues of the great Justedal glacier peeping over their 
summits. We turned into a large bay and cast anchor 
under the shadow of a hill more than 5,000 feet high. 

Here we found the natives kind and hospitable ; but, 


indeed, this is the unvarying experience of travellers in 
Norway. They were not, in this fiord, like the poverty- 
stricken fishermen of the outer islands. They were a 
civilised, comfortable-looking, apparently well off. and 
altogether jovial race of people, some of whom took a 
deep interest in us, and overwhelmed us with kind 


Their houses, which were built of wood, did not 
present much appearance of luxury, but there was no 
lack of all the solid comforts of life. No carpets covered 
the floors, and no paintings, except a few badly-coloured 
prints, graced the walls. But there were huge, quaint- 

280 NORWAY. 

looking stoves in every room, suggestive of a genial 
temperature ; and there were scattered about numbers of 
immense meerschaum pipes and tobacco pouches, sugges- 
tive of fireside gossip perchance legends and tales of the 
old sea-kings in the long dark nights of winter. 

I was strengthened here in my belief in the indis- 
soluble connection between fat and good-humour ; for all 
the people of this fiord seemed to me to be both good- 
humoured and fat. It was here, too, that I was for the 
first time strongly impressed with my own lamentable 
ignorance of the Norse language. Nevertheless, the old 
proverb "Where there's a will there's a way" held 
good, for the way in which I managed to hold converse 
with the natives of that region was astounding even to 
myself ! 

One bluff, hearty fellow of about fifty, with fair hair, a 
round, oily countenance, and bright blue eyes, took me 
off to see his wife and family. Up to this time our party 
had always kept together, and, being a lazy student, I 
had been wont to maintain a modest silence while some 
of my companions, more versed in the language, did all 
the talking. But now I found myself, for the first time, 
alone with a Norwegian ! fairly left to my own re- 
sources. Well, I began by stringing together all the 
Norse I knew (it was not much), and endeavouring to 
look as if I knew a great deal more. But I soon found 
that Murray's list of sentences did not avail me in e 
lengthened and desultory conversation. 

My fat friend and I soon became very amicable and 


communicative on this system. He told me innumerable 
Btories of which I did not comprehend a sentence ; but* 
nevertheless, I looked as if I did, smiled, nodded my 
head, and said " Ya, ya ; " to which he always replied, 
" Ya, ya," waving his arms and slapping his chest, and 
rolling his eyes, as he bustled along towards his dwelling. 

The cottage was a curious little thing a sort of huge 
toy, perched on a rock close to the water's edge. If it 
had slipped of? that rock a catastrophe which had at 
least the appearance of being possible it would have 
plunged into forty or fifty fathoms of water, so steep were 
the hills and so deep the sea at that place. Here my 
friend found another subject to expatiate upon and dance 
round, in the shape of his own baby a soft, smooth 
counterpart of himself which lay sleeping like Cupid in 
its crib. The man was evidently extremely fond of this 
infant, not to say proud of it. He went quite into 
ecstasies about it ; now gazing at it with looks of pen- 
sive admiration, anon starting and looking at me as if 
to say, "Did you ever in all your life behold such a 
beautiful cherub ? " The man's enthusiasm was really 
catching I began to feel quite a paternal interest in the- 
cherub myself. 

" Oh ! ' he cried in rapture, " det er smook burn " 
(that a pretty baby). 

"Ya, ya," said I, " rnegit smook' (very pretty)^ 
although I must confess that smoked bairn would have 
been equally appropriate, for it was as brown as a. red* 



I spent an agreeable, though mentally confused, 
afternoon with this hospitable man and his two sister's, 


who were placid, fat, amiable, and fair. They gave 
me the impression of having never been in a condi- 


tion of haste or perturbation from their birthdays up to 
that time. We sat in a sort of small garden, round a 
green painted table, drinking excellent coffee, of which 
beverage the Norwegians seem to be uncommonly 

The costume of these good people was of an uncom- 
monly sombre hue ; indeed, this is the case throughout 
Norway generally. But when a Norse girl marries, she 
comes out for once in brilliant plumage. She decks her- 
self out in the gaudiest of habiliments, with a profusion 
of gold and silver ornaments. The most conspicuous 
part of her costume is a crown of pure silver, gilt, and a 
scarlet-cloth breast-piece, which is thickly studded with 
silver-gilt brooches and beads of various hues, besides 
little round mirrors 1 This breast-piece and the crown 
usually belong, not to the bride, but to the district ! 
They are a species of public property hired out by each 
bride on hr? wedding-day for the sum of about five shil- 
lings. This costume is gorgeous, and remarkably becom- 
ing, especially when worn by a fair-haired, blue-eyed, 
and pretty Norse girl. 

Some time after the little touch of domestic life above 
narrated, we had a specimen of the manner in which the 
peasants of these remote glens indulge in a little public 
recreation. We chanced to be up at the head of the 
Nord fiord on the eve of St. John's day, not the day 
of the Evangelist, but of the Baptist. This is a -;eat 
day in Norway ; and poor indeed must be the hamlet 
where, or, the eve of that day, there is not an attempt 

284 NORWAY. 

made to kindle a mighty blaze and make merry. On 
St. John's Eve, bonfires leap and roar over the length 
and breadth of the land. 

The manner in which the people rejoiced upon thil 
occasion was curious and amusing. But here I must 
turn aside for one moment to guard myself from miscon- 
struction. It needs little reasoning to prove that where 
the mountains rise something like walls into the clouds, 
and are covered with everlasting ice, the inhabitants of 
the valleys may have exceedingly little intercourse with 
each other. The doings on this occasion may or may 
not have been peculiar, in some points, to this particular 
valley at the head of the Nord fiord. I simply describe 
what I saw. 

It was midnight when we went to a field at the base 
of a mountain to witness the rejoicings of the people. 
But the midnight hour wore not the sombre aspect of 
night in our more southerly climes. The sun had indeed 
set, but the blaze of his refulgent beams still shot up into 
the zenith, and sent a flood of light over the whole sky. 
In fact, it was almost broad daylight, and the only change 
that took place that night was the gradual increasing of 
the light as the sun rose again, at a preposterously early 
hour, to recommence his long- continued journey through 
the summer sky. 

Assembled on the greensward of the field, and sur- 
rounded by mountains whose summits were snow-capped 
and whose precipitous sides were seamed with hundreds 
of cataracts that gushed from frozen caves, were upwards 



of a thousand men and women. There seemed to me to 
be comparatively few children. 


To give a pretty fair notion of the aspect of this con- 
course, it is necessary to give an account of only two 

286 NOEWAT. 

individual units thereof. One man wore a dark brown 
pair of coarse homespun trousers, a jacket and vest o3 
the same material, and a bright scarlet cap, such as 
fishermen are wont to wear. One woman wore a dark 
coarse gown and a pure white kerchief on her head tied 
under her chin. There were some slight modifications, 
no doubt, but the multiplication of those two by a thon- 
sand gives very nearly the desired result. The men 
resembled a crop of enormous poppies, and the women a 
crop of equally gigantic lilies. 

Yet, although the brilliancy of the red and white was 
intense, the deep sombreness of the undergrowth was 
overpowering. There was a dark rifle -corps-like effect 
about them at a distance, which albeit suggestive of 
pleasing military memories in these volunteering days 
was in itself emphatically dismal. 

Having come there to enjoy themselves, these good 
people set about the manufacture of enjoyment with that 
grave, quiet, yet eminently cheerful demeanour, which is 
a characteristic feature of most of the country people 
of Norway whom I have seen. They had delayed 
commencing operations until our arrival. Several of 
the older men came forward and shook hands with us 
very heartily after which they placed three old boats 
together and covered them outside and in with tar, so 
that when the torch was applied there was such a sudden 
blaze of light as dimmed the lustre of the midnight sun 
himself for a time. 

Strange to say, no enthusiasm seemed to kindle in the 


breasts of the peasants. A careless observer would have 
deemed tbom apathetic, but this would have been a mis- 
taken op'r;i<- ; n. They evidently looked on the mighty 
blaze with calm felicity. Their enjoyment was clearly a 
matter of fact ; it may have been deep, it certainly wag 
not turbulent. 

Soon we heard a sound resembling the yells of a pig. 
This was a violin. It was accompanied by a noise 
resembling the beating of a flour-mill, which, we found, 
proceeded from the heel of the musician, who had 
placed a wooden board under his left foot for the 
purpose of beating time with effect. He thus, as it 
were, played the fiddle and beat the drum at the same 

Round this musician the young men and maidens 
formed a ring and began to dance. There was little 
talking, and that little was in an undertone. They 
went to work with the utmost gravity and decorum. 
Scarcely a laugh was heard nothing approaching to a 
shout during the whole night nevertheless, they enjoyed 


themselves thoroughly ; I have no doubt whatever of 

The nature of their dances was somewhat incomprehen- 
sible. It seemed as if the chief object of the young men 
was to exhibit their agility by every species of impromptu 
bound and fling of which the human frame is capable, 
including the rather desperate feat of dashing themselves 
flat upon the ground. The principal care of the girls 
seemed to be to keen out of the wav of the men and 



avoid being killed by a frantic kick or felled by a random 
blow. But the desperate features in each dance did not 
appear at first 

Every man began by seizing his partner's hand, and 
dragging her round the circle, ever and anon twirling 
her round violently with one arm, and catching her 

round the waist with the other, in order as it appeared 
to me to save her from an untimely end. To tlii-; 
treatment the fair damsels submitted with pleased though 
bashful looks. 

But soon the men flung them off, and went at it 
entirely on their own account ; yet they kept up a sort 


of revolving course round their partners, like satellites 
encircling their separate suns. Present!} the satellites 
assumed some of the characteristics of the comet. They 
rushed about the circle in wild erratic courses ; they 
leaped into the air, and, while in that position, slapped 
the soles of their feet with both hands. Should any one 
deem this an easy feat, let him try it. 

Then they became a little more sane, and a waltz, or 
something like it, was got up. It was really pretty, and 
some of the movements were graceful ; but the wild 
spirit of the glens re-entered the men rather suddenly. 
The females were expelled from the ring altogether, and 
the youths braced themselves for a little really heavy 
work ; they flung and hurled themselves about like 
maniacs, stood on their heads and walked on their hands 
in short, became a company of acrobats, yet always 
kept up a sympathetic feeling for time with the music. 
But not a man, woman, or child there gave vent to his 
or her feelings in laughter ! 

They smiled ; they commented in a soft tone ; they 
looked happy nay, I ana convinced they were happy 
but they did not laugh. Once only did they give vent 
to noisy mirth, and that was when an aspiring youth 
(after having made the nearest possible approach to 
suicide) walked round the circle on his h^nds and shook 
his feet in the air. We left them, after a time, in the 
full swing of a prosperous manufacture of enjoyment, 
and walked home, about two o'clock in the morning, by 
brilliant daylight. 





TTTHILST travelling from place to place by steamer 
one enjoys many opportunities of studying the 
character and habits of the people. 

I chanced, once, to be the only Briton on board the 
steamer that plied between the Nord fiord and Bergen, 
and I was particularly struck, on that occasion, with the 
silence that seemed to be cultivated by the people as if it 
were a virtue. I do not mean to say that the passengers 
and crew were taciturn far from it ; they bustled about 
actively, and were quite sociable and talkative ; but all 
their talk was in an undertone no voice was ever raised 
to a loud pitch. Even the captain, when he gave orders, 
did so in a quiet voice, usually walking up to the men 
and telling them gently to do so and so. When I called 


to mind the bellowing of our own nautical men, 
this seemed to me a remarkably modest way of getting 
on, and very different from what one might have ex- 
pected from the descendants of the rough vikings of 

Tie prevailing quiescence, however, reached its cul- 
nunating point at the dinner table, for there the silence 
vas total, although a good deal of gesticulative ceremony 
and vigorous muscular action prevailed. When we had 
all assembled in the cabin at the whispered request of 
the steward, and had stood for a few minutes looking 
benign and expectant, but not talking, the captain en- 
tered, bowed to the company, was bowed to by the 
company, motioned us to our seats, whispered " ver so 
goot," and sat down. 

This phrase versogoot (I spell it as pronounced) merits 
explanation in passing. It is an expression that seems 
to me capable of extension and distension, and is fre- 
quently on the lip of a Norwegian. It is a convenient, 
flexible, jovial expression, which is easily said, easily 
remembered, and means much. I cannot think of a 
better way of conveying an idea of its signification than 
7 by saying that it is a compound of the phrases, " be so 
good" "by your leave" "if you please" "go it, 
my hearties" and "that's your sort." The first oi 
these, be so good, is the literal translation, the remainder 
are the superinduced sentiments resulting from the tone 
and manner in which the words are uttered. You ma> 
rely upon it that when a Norwegian offers you anything 

292 NORWAY. 

and says (> ver so yoot,"}ie means you well, and hopes 
will make yourself comfortable. 

But, to return to our dinner party. There was no 
carving at this meal a circumstance worthy of con- 
ideration and imitation. The dishes were handed round 
by waiters. First of all we had sweet rice soup with 
wine and raisins in it, the eating of which seemed to me 
like the spoiling of one's dinner with a bad pudding. 
This finished, the plates were removed. 

The silence had by this time began to impress me. 
"Now," thought I, " surely some one will converse 
with his neighbour during this interval." No ; not a lip 
moved ! I glanced at my right and left hand men. I 
thought for a moment of venturing out upon the un- 
known deep of a foreign tongue, and cleared my throat ; 
but every eye was on me in an instant, and the sound of 
my own voice, even in that familiar process, was so 
appalling that I subsided. I looked at the pretty girl 
opposite me. I felt certain that the young fellow next 
her was on the point of addressing her, but I was mis- 
taken. Either he had forgotten what he meant to say, 
or his thoughts were too big for utterance. I am still 
under the impression that this youth would have broken 
the ice had not the next course come on and claimed his 
undivided attention. 

The second course began with a dish like bread pud- 
ding, minus currants and raisins suggesting the idea 
that these ameliorative elements had been put into the 
Boup by mistake. It looked as if it were a sweet dish, 


but it turned out to be salt ; and pure melted butter, 
without any admixture of flour and water, was handed 
round as sauce. After this came veal and beef cutlets, 
which we ate mixed with cranberry jam, pickles, and 
potatoes. Then came the concluding course cold sponge 
cake, with almjnds and raioins scattered over it. By 
this arrangement we were enabled, after eating the cake 
as pudding, to slide naturally and pleasantly into dessert 
without a change of plates. 

There was a general tendency in the company to bend 
their heads over, and rather close to, their plates while 
eating, as if for the purpose of communing privately with 
the viands, and a particular tendency on the part of the 
man next me to spread his arms and thrust one of his 
elbows into my side, in regard to which I exercised 
much forbearance. The only beverages used, besides 
cold water, were table beer and St. Julien, the latter a 
thin acid wine much used in Norway ; but there was 
no drinking after dinner. It seemed to be the eti- 
quette to rise from table simultaneously. We did so 
on this occasion, and then a general process of bowing 

In regard to this latter proceeding I have never been 
able to arrive at a clear understanding as to what was 
actually done or intended to be done, but my impression 
is, that each bowed to the other, and all bowed to the 
captain ; then the captain bowed tc each individually, 
and to all collectively ; after which a comprehensive bow 
was made by everybody to all the rest all round, and 


then we went on deck. In fact, it seemed as if tha 
effect of dinner had been to fill each man with such 
overflowing benignity and goodwill that he would hava 
smiled and bowed to a bedpost had it come in his way, 
*nd I am certain that the obliging waiters came in for a 
large share of these civilities, and repaid the company in 


As each guest passed out, he or she said to the captain, 
"tak for mad." This is a "manner and custom,*' 
throughout all Norway, and means thanks for meat. The 
expression is usually accompanied with a shake of the 
host's hand, but that part of the ceremony was not per- 
formed upon this occasion, probably because the captain 
was not a bona fide host, seeing that we had paid for onr 
dinner. With the exception of these three words at the 
end, and "ver so goot" at the beginning, not a single 
syllable was uttered by any one during the whole course 
of that meal. 

When the deck was gained the gentlemen immediately 
took to smoking. As a matter of course, Norwegians 
smoke, and they entertain enlarged ideas on that subject, 
if one may judge from the immense size of their meer- 
schaums, and the large fat tobacco-pouch that is worn by 
every man, strapped across his shoulders. 

There was a youth in this steamer a beardless youth 
whose first thought in the morning, and whose last 
glimmer of an idea at night, was his pipe, the bowl ol 
which was as large as his own fist. 

I remember watching him with deep interest. He wai 


long, cadaverous, and lanky in these respects unlike his 
countrymen. He slept on the sofa just opposite the spot 
whereon I lay, so that, unless I turned my face to the 
iide of the vessel or shut my eyes, he was an unavoidable 
abject of contemplation. On awaking he stretched him 
self, which act had an alarming appearance in one so long 
by nature, and so attenuated. Then he filled his pipe 
with an air of deep abstraction and profound melancholy 
the result, I suppose, of his being unrefreshed by his 
recent slumbers. 

Of course, no one of sense would think of attributing 
this to excessive smoking ! 

The pipe filled, he arose ; on rising, he lit it ; while 
dressing, he smoked it ; and till breakfast it burned 
fiercely like a blast-furnace. During the morning meal 
it went out, but before the big bowl had time to cool it 
Was rekindled. He smoked till dinner-time ; dined, and 
smoked till tea-time ; tea'd, and smoked till bed-time. 
Then he lay down for the night, and still continued to 
tnoke until I or he, I forget which, fell asleep. He 
awoke before I did next morning, so that when I opened 
my eyes the first object they rested on was the bowl i* 
that youth's meerschaum enveloped in clouds of smoke ! 

1 am tempted to moralise, but I refrain. Mankind is 
smitten with the c&aease, and I am afraid that it w 




fllEEE farther north you go in voyaging along the coast 
-*- during the months of June and July the brighter 
and longer becomes the daylight, until at last you arrive 
at the regions of perpetual day. 

The charm of this state of things is beyond the com- 
prehension of those who have not experienced it. Apart 
altogether from the gladdening influence of sunshine, 
there is something delightfully reckless in the feeling that 
there is no necessity whatever for taking note of the 
flight of time no fear lest we should, while wandering 
together, or perchance alone, among the mountains, be 
overtaken by night. During several weeks we lived in 
the blaze of a long nightless day. 

While we were in this bright region most of us laid 


iside our watches as useless, leaving it, if I remember 
rightly, to the skipper cf our yacht to tell us when 
Sunday came round, for we always, when practicable, 
spent that day at anchor, and had service on board. 

I do not use hyperbolical language when speaking of 
this perpetual daylight. During several weeks, after we 
had crossed the Arctic circle, the sun descended little 
more than its own diameter below the horizon each 
night, so that it had scarcely set when it rose again, and 
the diminution of the light was quite insignificant ; it did 
not approach in the slightest degree to twilight. If I had 
suddenly awakened during any of the twenty-four hours 
in the cabin of the yacht, or in any place from which it 
was impossible to observe the position of the sun, I could 
not have told whether it was night or day ! 

Having said that, it is almost superfluous to add that 
we could, even in the cabin, read the smallest print at 
midnight as easily as at noonda}\ Moreover, a clear 
midnight was absolutely brighter than a cloudy fore- 
noon. Nevertheless, there was a distinct difference 
between night and day a difference with which light 
had nothing to do. 

I am inclined to think that the incalculable myriads of 
minute and invisible creatures with which God has filled 
the solitudes of this world, even more largely than its 
inhabited parts, exercise a much more powerful influence 
on our senses than we suppose. 

During the day-time these teeming millions, bustling 
about in the activities of their tiny spheres, create a& 

298 NORWAY. 

actual, though unrecognisable noise. I do not refer to 
gnats and flies so much as to those atomic insects whose 
little persons are never seen, and whose individual voices 
are never heard, but whose collective hum is a fact 
that is best proved by the silence that follows its 

In the evening these all retire to rest, and night i? 
marked by a deep impressive stillness, which we are apt 
erroneously to suppose is altogether the result of that 
noisy giant man having betaken himself to his lair. 
Yet this difference between night and day was only 
noticeable when we were alone, or very quiet ; the 
preponderating noises resulting from conversation or 
walking were more than sufficient to dispel the sweet 

We were often very far wrong in our ideas of time. 
Once or twice, on landing and going into a hamlet on 
the coast, we have been much surprised to find the 
deepest silence reigning everywhere, and, on peeping in 
at a window, to observe that the inhabitants were all 
in bed, while the sun was blazing high in the heavens. 

Sometimes, too, on returning from a shooting or fishing 
expedition, I have seen a bush or a tree full of small birds, 
each standing on one leg, with its head thrust under its 
wing and its round little body puffed up to nearly twice 
its usual size, and have thus been reminded that the 
hours for rest had returned. Of course a little observa- 
tion and reflection would at any time have cleared up our 
minds as to whether day or night was on the wing 



nevertheless, I state the simple truth when I say that we 
were* often much perplexed, and sometimes ludicrously 
deceived, by the conversion of night into day. 

On one occasion we lay becalmed in a fiord somewhere 
beyond the Arctic circle. It was fine weather, but the 


sky was not so bright as usual, being obscured by clouds. 
A fisherman's boat happening to pass, we resolved to take 
advantage of it and escape the monotony of a calm by 
having a row up the fiord. The fisherman said there 

800 NORWAY. 

was a good salmon river and plenty of ptaimigan at a 
place little more than a Norse mile off equal to about 
seven English miles so we took rods and guns with us. 
It was evening when we set forth, but I did not knott 
the exact hour. 

The scenery through which we passed at thib particu- 
lar place was on a smaller scale than is usual in Norway, 
and we enjoyed our row more than usual in consequence ; 
ecenery on a small scale is more enjoyable than scenery 
on a large scale ; the reason of this seems to be that, 
when in the midst of scenery on a small scale, the 
traveller is constantly and rapidly presented with new 
views, as well as with beautiful and varied combina- 
tions of the same views, while in that on a large 
ecale the eye becomes indifferent to the almost change- 
less grandeur of prospects which are so vast that they 
are necessarily presented to the view for hours at a 

On our way we met with a Finn. He stood on a rock, 
gazing at us with much interest. I know not in what 
circle of Finnish society this individual moved, but his 
class and tribe had certainly no reason to be proud of his 
personal appearance. He was diminutive, dishevelled, 
and dirty. His dress was a leathern tunic, belted round 
the waist ; his leggings were of the same material. But 
the most conspicuous portion of his costume was a tall, 
conical worsted night-cap, which we neatly, but acci- 
dentally, knocked off his head with a piece of tobacco. 
He looked angry at first, but on becoming aware of th 


nature and quality of our missile, his weather-beaten 
visage beamed with forgiving smiles. 

Next we came upon an eagle, which alighted on a tree 
and allowed us to come within long range at least out 
sanguine temperaments induced us to hope that i't was 
long range before taking flight. Of course it took no 
notice whatever of the three shots we fired at it. Boon 
after that we reached the mouth of the river. 

Here we found a small hamlet of exceedingly poor 
people, who received us hospitably, but with such evident 
astonishment, that we concluded they had never seen 
civilised visitors before. Their fiord was off the track of 
steamers, and far distant from any town. They them- 
selves were little if at all better than North American 

They gathered round us with open eyes and mouths, 
and the women handled our clothes with evident wonder. 
We presented them with several pairs of scissors, where- 
upon they shook hands with us all round and said "tak" 
thanks very heartily. In this custom ot shaking 
hands when a gift is presented, I usually found that 
the receiver shook hands not only with the donor, but, 
in the exuberance of his gratitude, with the whole party. 

The looks of the people betokened either that scissors 
were entirely new implements to them, or tnm those we 
presented were of unusually good quality. They went 
about snipping everything in the most reckless manner. 
One woman caught hold of the ends of her daughter's 
neckerchief and snipped them both off ; whereupon hel 

802 NOBWAY. 

husband plucked them out of her hand, and snipped ofl 
the ends of his beard. 

Here, the huts being dirty, we picnicked on the green- 
sward. We had brought tea and biscuit with us, and the 
natives supplied us with some thick sour milk with half 
an inch of sour cream on it a dish which is common all 
over Norway, and is much relished by the people as well 
ap by many of their visitors. 

This disposed of, we set out some to fish, and others 
to shoot. I went off alone with my gun. Ptarmigan, in 
summer plumage, which is brown, with pure white 
feathers intermixed, were numerous, but wild. They 
were just tame enough to lead me on in an excited and 
hopeful state of mind for several hours, regardless of the 
flight of time. 

At last I became tired, and having bagged four or five 
birds I returned to the boat, where I found my comrades. 
One of them chanced to have a watch, and from him I 
learned that it was just two o'clock in the morning! so that 
I had actually been shooting all night by daylight ; and 
the sun had set and risen again without my being aware of 
the fact. We did not get back to the yacht till eiglrt 
o'clock A.M., when we found the crew just sitting down 
to a breakfast of oatmeal porridge. Some of us having 
refreshed ourselves with a dip in the sea, took a plate of 
this. Then we went to bed, and rose again at six o'clock 
that evening to breakfast. 

During one of my solitary rambles with the gun, I had 
the good fortune to shoot a magnificent eagle. I say 


good fortune advisedly, because the eagle is so wary that 
few sportsmen succeed in killing one. and those who do 
have more cause to be thankful for their luck than proud 


of their prowess. It happened thus : About two o'clock 
one beautful morning in July I lay wide awake in my 
berth, looking up through the skylight at the bright blue 
heavens ; the yacht being becalmed somewhere between 
latitudes 64 and 65, and the sun having commenced 
to ascend the vault from which it had disappeared for 
only half an hour. 

On that night if I may be permitted the inappropriate 
expression I could not sleep. I counted the hours as 
they passed slowly by; practised without success the 
various little devices that are erroneously supposed to 
bring slumber to the sleepless ; grew desperate, and 
finally jumped up at four a.m., resolving to row myself 
to the nearest island and shoot. There were usually 
eider ducks in the little creeks, and ptarmigan among the 
scrub. Should these fail me I could vent my spleen on 
the gulls. 

Arming myself with a double-barrel, I quaffed a tumbler 
of water and sallied forth, ignorant of the fact that it con- 
tained a large dose of morphia, which had been prescribed 
for an ailing but refractory member of our party the pre- 
vious evening. No one was stirring. It was a dead 

Landing on a lovely island, of perbaps five or six milet 
In extent, which rose in the form of a rugged mountain 
to a height of about 4,000 feet, I rambled for son* 

804 NORWAY. 

time among low bushes and wild flowers, but found 
no game. The gulls, as if aware of my intentions, had 
forsaken the low rocks, and were flying high up among 
the precipices and serried ridges and peaks of the moun- 
tain. Resolved not to be discomfited I began to ascend, 
and as I mounted upward the splendour of the island 
scenery became more apparent. The virtuous feelings 
consequent upon early rising induced a happy frame of 
mind, which was increased by the exhilarating influence 
of the mountain air. 

It was a wild lonesome place, full of deep dark gorges 
and rugged steeps, to clamber up which, if not a work of 
danger, was at least one of difficulty. While I stood on 
a rocky ledge, gazing upwards at the sinuosities of the 
ravine above me, I observed a strange apparition near the 
edge of a rock about forty yards off. It was a face, a 
red, hairy, triangular visage, with a pair of piercing black 
eyes, that gazed down upon me in unmitigated amaze- 
ment. The gun flew to my shoulder ; I looked steadily 
for a moment ; the eyes winked ; bang ! went the gun, 
and when the smoke cleared away the eyes and head 
were gone. Clambering hastily up the cliff, I found a 
red fox lying dead behind a rock. 

Bagging Reynard, I ascended the giddy heights where 
the gulls were circling. Here the clouds enshrouded me 
occasionally as they sailed past, making the gulls loom 
gigantic. Suddenly an enormous bird swooped past me, 
looking so large in the white mist that I felt assured it 
must be an eagle. I squatted behind a rock at once, 



as the mists cleared away a few minutes later I saw him 


clearly enough sailing high up in the sky. I glanced 
down at the yacht that lay like a speck on the water far 
below, and up at the noble bird that went soaring higher 
and higher every moment, and I felt a species of awe 


creep over me when I thought of the tremendous gulf 
of space that lay between that eagle and the world 

He was evidently bent on making closer acquaintance 
with some of the gulls, so I sat down behind a rock to 

806 NORWAY. 

watch him. But knowing the shyness and sharp -sighted* 
ness of the bird I soon gave up all hope of getting a shot, 
Presently he made a rapid circling flight downwards, and, 
after hovering a few minutes, alighted on a cliff several 
hundred yards distant from my place of concealment. 
Hope at once revived ; I rose, and began, with the ut- 
most caution, to creep towards him. The rugged nature 
of the ground favoured my approach, else I should never 
have succeeded in evading the glance of his bold and 
watchful eye. 

When I had approached to within about eighty or 
ninety yards, I came to an open space, across which it 
was impossible to pass without being seen. This was 
beyond conception vexing. To lose him when almost 
within my grasp was too bad ! I thought of trying a 
long shot, but feeling certain that it would be useless, 
I prepared, as a last resource, to make a sudden rush 
towards him and get as near as possible before he should 

The plan was successful. Cocking both barrels I darted 
out of my place of concealment with the wild haste of a 
maniac, and, before the astonished eagle could launch 
himself off the cliff, I had lessened the distance between 
us by at least thirty yards. Then I took rapid aim, and 
fired both barrels almost simultaneously. 

I might as well, apparently, have discharged a pop-gun 
at him. Not a quiver of wing or tail took place. He did 
not even accelerate his majestic flight, as the shots rever 
berated from cliff t N cliff, and I watched him sail slowly 


found a crag and disappear. Ke-loading, I sauntered in 
moody desperation in the direction of his flight, and soon 
gained the point round which he had vanished, when, 
behold ! he lay on the ground with his broad wings 
expanded to their full extent and his head erect. I ran 
towards him, but he did not move, and I soon saw that 
he was mortally wounded. On coming close up I was 
compelled to halt and gaze at him in admiration. He 
raised his head and looked at me with a glance of lofty 
disdain which I shall never forget. 

The conformation of the eagle's eye is such that its 
habitual expression, as every one knows, resembles that 
of deep indignation. This bird had that look in perfec- 
tion. His hooked beak was above four inches long, and 
it struck me that if he were disposed to make a last 
gallant struggle for life when I grasped him, such a beak, 
with its corresponding talons, would give me some ugly 
wounds before I could master him. I therefore laid my 
gun gently across his back and held him down therewith 
while I caught him by the neck. But his fighting days 
were over. His head drooped forward and his bold eye 
closed in death a few seconds later. 

Afterwards I found that the whole charge of both 
barrels had lodged in his body and thighs, yet, on re- 
ceiving this, he did not wince a hair's breadth, or in any 
other way indicate that he had been touched. He mea- 
s cured exactly six feet six inches across tb<* expanded 

Alas 1 his staffed skin, which I have preserved aa 



Norwegian trophy, gives but a feeble idea of wbat the 
bird was when, in all the fire of strength, courage, 
and freedom, he" soared above the mountain peaks of 




far- 1