Skip to main content

Full text of "A journey to Iceland and travels in Sweden and Norway"

See other formats

University of California. 



Professor U History an/taw in Columbia College, New York. 



Of San Francisco. 
i H 7 : \ . 








N E W-Y R K : 


Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1852, 

In the ClerkV Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New -York. 



f)ts Book is JBtfrUateb 




THE translator of these travels has been anxious 
to leave the text as much as possible like the 
original ; and to avoid making any change in 
the book itself, a number of notes have been 
added, for the benefit of the American reader, 
who may not happen to be familiar with the 
currency or distances, and a few other terms 
used by Madame Pfeiffer, in the course of her 


" ANOTHER journey, and that to regions far more likely to 
repel than attract any other traveller ! This woman 
could have had no object in visiting such a country but 
the wish to excite our astonishment and curiosity." 

" Her first journey, although it was a tolerably hazard- 
ous undertaking for a woman alone, might still have been 
overlooked, for it was possibly prompted by her religious 
feelings, and incredible things, as every one knows, are 
often accomplished from such an impulse. But no one 
can suggest a reasonable motive for the present expedi- 

Thus, and perhaps still more severely, shall I be 
judged by the crowd. And yet it does me great injustice 
I am a simple and inoffensive creature, and the last 
thing in the world I should ever dream of, would be to 


direct the observation of the public towards myself. Let 
me briefly reveal my character and circumstances, when 
all that is unaccountable about my actions will disappear, 
and they will be seen in their natural light. 

From my earliest childhood I have had an intense 
longing to go forth into the wide world. I could never 
meet a travelling carriage without stopping to watch it as 
*it passed out of my sight, envying the very postillion, who 
had accompanied it, as I thought, during the whole long 

"When I was a little girl of ten or twelve years old, no 
reading was so attractive to me as books of travels ; and 
ceasing to envy the postillions, I could not but repine at 
the happiness of every great navigator, or discoverer, who 
could explore the yet unrevealed secrets of the natural 

Tears often rose to my eyes if, after climbing a hill, I 
found others towering up beyond my reach, and I could 
'not see what lay concealed behind them. 

I travelled a great deal with my parents, and also with 
my husband, after I was married, and it was not till my 
two boys were of ari age to be sent to school that I re- 
mained stationary on their account. 

The affairs of my husband required his presence alter- 
nately in Vienna and in Lemberg. He made over to me 
the whole charge of our children, and relying on my steadi- 
ness and perseverance, he felt assured that I could supply 
the place of both parents to them at once. 


When the education of my sons was finished, and my 
life was spent in quiet retirement, the dreams and fancies 
of my youth revived once more within me ; 1 thought of 
the manners and customs of foreign lands, of other climes 
and countries, and dwelt so long on the inexpressible 
happiness of treading the soil which had been hallowed 
by the presence of the Saviour, that at last my resolution 
to direct my steps thither became confirmed. In vain I 
pondered on every drawback to such an expedition, and 
looked all its perils in the face ; I could not rid myself of 
the idea. Privations were of little consequence to me. I 
was hardy and strong, I had no dread of death, and born 
in the last century, I need not fear to travel alone. Thus 
each difficulty was set aside; every thing was maturely 
considered and decided upon ; and with real ecstasy I set 
forth on my journey to Palestine, and lo ! I returned in 
safety. I believed, therefore, that I was not presumptu- 
ously tempting the providence of God, or laying myself 
open to the charge of wishing to excite the admiration of 
my contemporaries, if I followed my inward impulse, and 
went forth once more to see the world. Iceland was a 
country where I hoped to behold nature under an aspect 
entirely new and peculiar. I feel so supernaturally happy, 
and drawn so close to my Maker, while gazing upon such 
scenes, that no difficulties or fatigues can discourage me 
from seeking so great a reward. 

Should death surprise me in any of my wanderings, I 
shall meet it with calmness, thanking God from my inmost 


heart for the blessed, happy hours I have spent in admir- 
ing the wonders of his creation. 

And, thou, dear reader, chide not if I have written so 
much about myself, but let these, my inborn sentiments, 
plead my excuse for that love of adventure, which in the 
eyes of many does not accord with what is becoming in 
my sex. 

Judge me not too harshly, but rather freely grant me 
an indulgence, which injures no one and makes me so 
truly blessed. 



Bqwrto frnm %r 

IN the year 1845 I began my interesting journey to the 
northward. Iceland was one of those spots which I 
have longed to see from the first period of my recollection. 
In this country, peculiarly unblessed by nature, to which 
nothing similar is to be found on earth, I hoped to discover 
that which would fill me with new and unutterable astonish- 
ment. Oh, my gracious God ! how thankful I am to Thee, 
who hast allowed my favorite dream to become a reality ! 

On this occasion I took leave of all my beloved ones 
with a far lighter heart than before, for I now knew by ex- 
perience, that a woman, with a strong will, can go forth into 
the world as well as a man, and that kindness is to be met 
with every where among our fellow-beings. Moreover, the 
trials of this journey could last but a short time, and in 
five or six months I might hope to see my friends again. 

I left Vienna on the 10th of April, at five o'clock in 
the morning. As even the railroad had not escaped the 
consequences of the late devastation caused by the overflow- 


ing of the Danube, I was obliged to accomplish the first 
mile* to Florisdorf far from agreeably, in an omnibus. Our 
omnibuses are so narrow and close that one would think 
they were merely intended for the consumptive, and not 
for healthy travellers, moving about in great state with all 
their superfluous cloaks, furs and overcoats. 

We had hardly reached the barrier when a new impedi- 
ment occurred. Each passenger was requested in turn at 
the gates to present his passirschein (or custom-house per- 
mit) ; but when the last of our party, a young man, was 
applied to, he seemed entirely taken by surprise at the de- 
mand. He had nothing with him but his pass and his tes- 
timonials, and had yet to learn that a passirschein was 
more powerful than either. He went himself to the omce 
and represented his case, but in vain ; and we were obliged 
to move on without him. 

We then learned that he was a student who had just 
gone through his examination, and was on his way to spend 
a few weeks' vacation with his parents near Prague. Poor 
fellow ! he had studied so much, and yet so little ! He was 
not aware of the extraordinary value of such a document, 
and this oversight cost him his expenses to Prague, which 
were paid in advance. 

But to proceed with my journey. 

At Florisdorf I was agreeably surprised by the appear- 
ance of my brother and my son, who had driven on before 
me without my being aware of it. We took the cars to- 
gether for Stockerau (three miles), but we were obliged to 
alight half way, and proceed a short distance on foot, over 
a place where the banks of the road had caved in. Fortu- 
nately it did not rain although it blew a violent gust, other- 

* A German mile is about four and a half English miles. Trans. 


wise we could hardly have escaped being wet to the skin, 
and should have sunk ankle deep in the mud. Having 
crossed the dangerous spot, we were compelled to wait in 
the open air till the train from Stockerau had arrived, de- 
posited its passengers, and taken us up in their stead. 

At Stockerau I took a second leave of my companions, 
and was safely seated in the stage coach, and sent forth on 
my way. 

This was the fourth conveyance I had entered in that 
short distance ; a great inconvenience when one has nothing 
to carry, and so much the worse when one has all one's lug- 
gage to dispose of ; the only advantage in the arrangement 
that I could see, being one half hour gained in the four 
miles, while at the same time, instead of paying the former 
price of nine florins and thirty-six kreuzers* from Vienna 
to Prague, it cost us ten florins and ten kreuzers from 
Stockerau to Prague, without including the omnibus or the 
railroad. That half hour was rather dearly purchased ! 

The little town of Znaim, with its adjacent convent, 
which lay on our road, is situated in a wide plain, stretch- 
ing from Vienna towards Budnitz. four miles beyond 
Znaim, the uniformity of which is only broken by an occa- 
sional rise in the ground. The country improved in beauty 
as we approached Schelletau, where the eye embraces a 
range of high hills to the left, and a ruined castle recalls 
those tragic romances of the days of chivalry so much in 
vogue during the past century ; while the road itself is 
shaded by fir trees which are also beautifully scattered over 
the hills and throughout the valleys. 

April \\th. The weather was by no means pleasant 

* An Austrian florin is worth forty-eight cents American money, 
and there are sixty kreuzers to a florin. Trans. 


yesterday ; we found the valleys about Znaim still par- 
tially covered with snow, and were often enveloped in fogs 
so thick that we could hardly see a hundred paces before 
us. But it was even worse to-day ; for the mists dissolved 
in a soft rain, which lost so much of its gentleness as we 
advanced from station to station, that every thing around 
us was soon immersed in water \ and the roof of our coach 
being a perfect sieve, the rain poured in upon us in tor 
rents ; had the space permitted it, every umbrella would 
have been raised. 

On such occasions, I can never cease to admire the pa 
tience of my worthy countrymen, who submit to similar 
inconveniences with the most complete indifference. Were 
I a man, I should take a different course, and never suffer 
any carelessness of this nature to pass unpunished. But 
being a woman, I am silent, a remonstrance from one of 
my sex would only be received with contempt. Moreover, 
I felt that my good genius had prepared these annoyances 
for me as a forewarning of what was awaiting me in the far* 

After touching at several small towns and villages, we 
entered upon the Bohemian dominions just beyond Iglau. 
Czaslau, the capital of the first Circle through which we 
passed in this kingdom, has a large square, with neat houses, 
and arbors in front of them, by means of which one can 
walk dry-footed round the whole square during the worst 

"We observed a fine cathedral at Kuttenberg, a place 
once celebrated for its gold and silver mines, and a little 
beyond it the great tobacco manufactory of Sedlitz. The 
Elbe appeared in sight for a short time, but soon wound off 
again in a different direction. We passed the market-town 
of Collin, and drove close to the battle-field where the 


great Frederick found his match in the Austrians in the 
year 1757 ; an event which has been commemorated within 
a few years past by an obelisk erected to the honor of Gen- 
eral Daun ; the valley of Klephorcz, where his army lay 
encamped, was pointed out to the left. 

At eleven o'clock in the evening we reached 

It was my intention to have spent but two days in this 
place ; and my first steps on the following morning were to 
the police office, to obtain, in addition to my passport, that 
far more important paper, a passirschein ; and my next 
were to the custom-house, where I was to receive a trunk ; 
which I had dispatched five days before my own departure 
from Vienna by the express, on the distinct assurance that 
I should find it here when I arrived.* But, alas for the 
express ! no trunk was there. Sunday followed Saturday ; 
but on Sunday the custom-house is closed. Thus a day 
was lost, a whole day, when I could have gone on to Dres- 
den, and visited the opera besides. 

Early on Monday morning I hastened to the custom- 
house, and found that my trunk had not yet arrived. But 
as several loaded wagons were waiting, I staid to see them 
examined, watching, oh how anxiously ! for the appearance 
of my treasure, not indeed to press it with rapture to my 
heart, but to throw it open and display its contents before 
Jhe custom-house officer. 

I took but a hasty survey of Prague, having been long 

* These trifles are mentioned as a warning to travellers not to be 
Miarated from their effects. 


familiar with every object worthy of notice in the place. I 
admired its beautiful moat, the horse-market, and the broad, 
well-built streets of the new town. The old stone bridge, 
from which Saint John of Nepomuk was thrown into the 
Moldau for having refused to betray the secret confession 
of the wife of King Wenceslaus, is also an object of especial 
interest. I crossed the river, ascended the Hradschin, and 
visited the cathedral, where a large sarcophagus, upheld 
by angels and surmounted by a canopy of dark red damask, 
is dedicated to the memory of this saint. The monument 
is of silver, and the value of the metal alone is estimated 
at 80,000 florins. The church itself, although not large, is 
built in the noble gothic style, to which the side altars pre- 
sent a very striking contrast with their numerous figures 
and decorations of gilded wood. The chapels contain 
many monuments, on which repose stone knights and 
bishops, but in such a damaged condition, that hands and 
feet are frequently missing, and in some instances even the 
heads. On the right, as you enter the church, is the cele- 
brated chapel of Saint Wenceslaus, the walls of which were 
once adorned with frescoes and inlaid with precious stones, 
though the drawings and colors of the former are now 
nearly effaced. 

Not far from the cathedral is the remarkable palace of 
Count Czernim, numbering as many windows as there arc 
days in the year. I saw three hundred and sixty-five ; but 
how it is of a leap-year I am not able to tell. There is a 
very pleasing view from the belvedere of this palace, which 
overlooks the old and new parts of the town, the beautiful 
river with its venerable stone bridge, already mentioned, a 
more modern and very elegant suspension bridge, six hun- 
dred paces long, and the heights around covered with gar- 
dens and handsome country houses. 


The streets of the Kleinseite (or Little Prague) are 
steep, narrow, and crooked ; but they contain many fine 
palaces, among which none is more likely to attract the no- 
tice of the traveller than that of Wallenstein Friedland. 

After I had visited the church of Saint Nicholas, con- 
spicuous for its high nave and handsome cupola, and h?,i 
examined the Wimmerischen buildings, I repaired to the 
Bastei, the fashionable resort of the public in Prague. 
Here I could form some idea of the desolation caused by 
the late flood. In overflowing its banks, the Moldau had 
violently swept away a great many small houses and one 
entire hamlet not far from Prague ; every dwelling on its 
shores, indeed, had been more or less injured ; and though 
the waters had now subsided, the traces of ruin were still 
to be seen in the deserted houses, with their shattered doors 
and vacant windows. The river rose on this occasion two 
feet higher than in the year 1784, when it also swelled to 
an unusual height. From this place I overlooked the large 
inclosure lately purchased for the terminus of the Vienna 
and Dresden railroad. Several houses had lately been 
torn down on the spot, and the foundations of the new 
buildings were but just begun ; still I was assured that the 
whole would be completed within six months. 

I was very much struck with the number of dog-carts 
which I met during my long walk this morning. They are 
used to bring milk, vegetables, and other provisions into the 
city ; and I almost fancied myself transported to G-reenland 
or Lapland when I saw so many of these animals in har- 
ness. Each cart is drawn by three or four dogs ; on level 
ground they can pull a weight of three hundred pounds, 
the driver lending his assistance over the steep places. 
The dogs have the additional merit of being very faithful 
guardians, and I would not advise any one to venture too 


near one of these carts when they are standing before tke 
beer-house where their owner is carousing with his lately 
earned gains. 

I left Prague at five o'clock on the morning of the 15th, 
and drove three miles in the post-coach to Obristwy on the 
Elbe, where I embarked for Dresden (twenty-two miles)* 
in the steamer Bohemia, a miserable old craft of fifty horse 
power, which could have known but little of luxury and 
comfort in its best days. The fare for this short trip of 
eight or nine hours was very high ; but the traveller has 
the prospect of being soon revenged for this extortion by 
the new railroad, which will occasion a great saving of 
time and money, although the journey by water has much 
the advantage in point of beauty, especially as you approach 
the Saxon Switzerland. The sail is not very interesting at 
first, however, as there is nothing attractive about the bar- 
ren hills, and the great plains lately flooded by the waters 
of the stream, which swept over the roofs of the huts and 
buried the trees to their summits. Nothing can exceed 
this sad picture of desolation and ruin, which extends as 
far as Melnick, where the ground is higher, and little clus- 
ters of houses are again seen among the spreading vine- 
yards. The Moldau flows into the Elbe opposite this town, 
and the renowned Saint G-eorgsberg is seen in the distance, 
from whence tradition relates that Czech overran the 
whole of Bohemia. 

The hills gradually rise into mountains ; and two fine 

* Nearly a hundred English miles. 

| Czech, or Zecko, is said to have conquered Bohemia with an 
army of Sclavonians about the middle of the sixth century. The people 
of the country still call themselves Tschechen, and the descendants of 
those warriors are to be found in the land to this day. Trans. 


ruins, Hafenberg and Skalt, in the neighborhood of Raud- 
nitz, rejoice those romantic eyes which can see no charm 
in a prospect unless it possess some such vestige of the 
olden time. 

Leitmeritz has a noble castle, a church and cloister, and 
a high-arched wooden bridge which unites the shores of the 
Elbe to those of its tributary the Eger. It was not without 
great difficulty that our poor sailors managed their mast 
and chimney under this bridge. 

Gross Czernoseck is rather a handsome village, princi- 
pally remarkable for its enormous cellar hewn out of the 
rock, into which a carriage and horses can drive and turn 
with ease. The wine vats are in proportion to the size of 
the cave, particularly those named after the twelve Apos- 
tles, each one of which contains three thousand six 
hundred gallons. A short delay would have been agreeable 
here, in order to afford each worthy votary of Bacchus an 
opportunity to visit this palace of a cellar and pour out a 
libation to the " Apos'tles ;" but our boat glided swiftly 
by, and we were obliged to content ourselves with the de- 
scriptions of those who were familiar with the spot, and had 
doubtless drawn frequent inspiration from its depths. 

The scenery became more lovely every moment as we 
advanced. The hills press forward and narrow the channel 
of the river, while romantic rocks rise up between them, 
crowned by still more romantic ruins. The old castle of 
Schreckenstein, which is in a tolerable state of preservation, 
presents a very striking appearance 5 it lies stretched over 
the whole summit of a steep, rocky promontory, and is ap- 
proached by winding paths cut in the stone. The borough 
of Auffig possesses the largest stone quarries and peat-mines 
in Bohemia. A variety of the grape grows in the little 


rocky district of Paschkal, in this neighborhood, which is 
said to produce a wine not unlike champagne. 

The hills rose higher and higher till we reached the 
gigantic Jungfernsprung ; and the beauty of this prospect 
is only surpassed by the situation of the town and castle of 
Tetschen ; the latter stands on a rock rising abruptly from 
the Elbe to the height of twenty or thirty feet. It is sur- 
rounded by green-houses and beautiful gardens, which 
stretch down to the little town, nestling with its small 
harbor in a sweet valley apparently completely shut in 
from the outer world by the high chain of hills which en- 
circle it. 

The left bank is an almost unbroken line of rocks an' 1 
precipices, with only an occasional spot occupied by a farm- 
house or a solitary hut. In one place the eye is suddenly 
arrested by the sight of tall masts rising above the high 
cliffs around them ; this apparition is explained by a cleft 
in the rocks forming a very excellent basin. 

On reaching Schandau. a little hamlet on the Saxon 
boundary, we received the usual visit from the custom-house 
officers, who came on board our steamer and rummaged 
every thing we possessed. The Daguerreotype apparatus 
in one of my trunks appeared rather suspicious to them at 
first ; but upon my assurance that I merely carried it for 
my own use, I was very civilly permitted to retain it. 

Proceeding once more on^ our way, our attention was 
frequently arrested by the picturesque cliffs, whose names 
generally bore an allusion to their peculiar shape, such as 
the Zirkelstein^ the Liliemtein, and others. The borough 
of Konigstein lies at the foot of a jagged mass bearing 
the same name, inclosing a fortress, which is used as a 
prison for state criminals. A little farther on I observed 


two huge rocks lying one above the other, which formed a 
perfectly natural image of a human head. At Rathen 
we were already within the confines of the Saxon Switzer- 
land. While hurrying through the Bastei we had barely 
time to admire the wonderful grouping of these famous 
natural ramparts, for our steamer moved so rapidly that we 
lost one lovely scene while gazing at another equally at- 
tractive on the opposite shore. We reached Pirna, at the 
extremity of this mountain pass, much too soon. The 
ancient gateway of this little town is conspicuous above all 
its other buildings. Sonnenstein is a large castle lying 
among the cliffs, which is now used as an asylum for 

The most interesting part of our journey was now over. 
The royal castle of Pilnitz, with its pointed Chinese roofs, 
did not offer a very favorable contrast to the magnificent 
natural scenery we had just passed. The adjacent chain of 
hills, covered with villas, incloses the wide plain at the far 
end of which glistened the capital of Saxony ; and we had 
hardly time to collect our luggage, before our anchor was 
dropped near the beautiful bridge at Dresden. 

This bridge had also been seriously injured by the 
rising of the waters ; one of the middle pillars gave way, 
and the cross and sentry-box were thrown into the river. 
At first the extent of the mischief was not suspected, and 
the bridge was used for some time after the flood, when it 
was ascertained to be very unsafe, and nothing was allowed 
to cross it for several months. 

I had been well acquainted with all the sights of Dres- 
den for several years, and therefore devoted the two even- 
ings I spent there to the fine theatre, the only remarkable 
edifice in the place which was new to me. It is situated in 
the centre of the handsome Domplatz, and immediately at- 


tracts attention by its elegant structure and rotunda-shape. 
A wide corridor, with large bay-windows and a very high 
ceiling, surrounds the whole building, and several broad 
staircases lead from the different entrances to the galleries. 
The interior of the theatre is not so large as might be im- 
agined from its external appearance, but the architecture 
and decorations are really magnificent. The boxes are all 
open, and divided by a low partition, the seats and walls 
being covered with heavy silks, while a less expensive ma- 
terial is used for the benches of the third and fourth gal- 
leries. I was only disturbed by one acoustic drawback ; 
the least whisper of the prompter could be heard as dis- 
tinctly as if he were directly behind me. The curtain had 
hardly fallen before the house was emptied, without the 
least confusion, and I was then particularly impressed with 
the excellent arrangement of the numerous and convenient 

April 16th. The Dresden omnibuses may be cited as 
models of comfort ; there is ample space for everybody, and 
nothing to fear from the exuberant corpulency or supernu- 
merary cloaks and furs of our fellow-passengers. They 
are are also provided with check-strings to communicate 
with the driver when any one wishes to alight. These om- 
nibuses drive by all the great hotels, and pause a moment 
before each ; but if th'e traveller is not on the spot, he will 
be sure to be left behind. One of them stopped at the 
door of my hotel at half-past five in the morning ; I was 
already waiting, and soon rolled along very pleasantly to 
the railway. The distance between Dresden and Leipsic 
is called twelve miles,* which we accomplished in three 

* Fifty-four English miles. TV. 


The first few miles are delightful ; gardens, fields, and 
meadows, fir-trees scattered over the plain and on the 
heights, with villages, farm-houses, country-seats, and a few 
solitary chapels between, form a most pleasing landscape ; 
but it is soon ended ; and Meissen, well known for its 
porcelain manufactories, lying on the left, may be called 
the key-stone of the beautiful scene. 

A tiresome and monotonous plain, only enlivened by an 
occasional village or a solitary farm, extends the rest of the 
way to Leipsic ; the only objects of interest tha-t we saw 
were a great tunnel and the river Pleisse, the latter, or to 
speak more correctly, the Bister, being celebrated for the 
death of Prince Poniatowsky. The city of Leipsic is world-re- 
nowned for its book-trade and for its great fair, which 
draws crowds to the place every year. I found the streets, 
the squares, and the hotels thronged to overflowing. 

Few towns are so much disfigured as Leipsic by the 
innumerable sign-boards of all shapes and sizes which often 
project from the houses several feet into the street. Among 
the buildings, those which pleased me most were the Au- 
gusteum and the Biirgerschule. The Book Hall is inter- 
esting from its contents, but has no claims to architectural 
merit. The hall itself is large, covering one whole floor ; 
there are a few rooms beneath it, but the whole building is 
perfectly plain. The Cloth Hall is another large edifice, 
equally unadorned, which contains vast stores of cloth in its 
wide vaults. The theatre is on a very large square, and is 
not remarkable either within or without. The arrangement 
of the reserved seats, in front of the boxes, was new to me. 
I heard the orchestra ; but it was a mystery to me where 
it happened to be situated ; apparently it burst from behind 
the scenes. This was quite an unusual circumstance, as I 
was assured, and only occurred when tha seats- of the or 


chestra were reserved, as was the case on the present occa- 
sion. The play was that favorite piece of G-utzkow's, " The 
original Tartuffe," and was extremely well performed. 

I had an opportunity of observing, for the second time, 
in the theatre at Leipsic, that the worthy Saxons are by no 
means behind the much reviled inhabitants of Vienna in 
point of appetite. In the Dresden theatre I had already 
noticed some ladies, my near neighbors, who carried a sup- 
ply of pastry in a pretty little bag, with which they be- 
guiled the time between the acts. But at Leipsic, I saw a 
tender mother regaling herself and her young son, a boy of 
fifteen or sixteen, with a more substantial repast white 
bread and salami !* I could hardly believe my eyes at 
first, and thought it must be an imitation sausage, from 
the confectioner's. But my nose convinced me only too 
soon that my remaining doubts were groundless. 

In both instances this did not happen in the higher re- 
gions of the temple of Thalia, where such a thing might be 
witnessed occasionally even with us no, it was in the re- 
served seats of the second tier. 

Leipsic is surrounded by beautiful avenues. I took a 
walk to the Rosenthal, which also boasts of its fair alleys 
and grass-plots ; a neat coifee-house, with a very pretty 
kiosk of a semi-oval shape, invites the weary to repose and 
refreshment, and agreeable music gives additional life and 
animation to the scene. 

The other environs of Leipsic present nothing to the 
eye but one monotonous and immeasurable plain. 

April \lth. I had wished to pursue my journey to 
Hamburgh through Berlin, but the weather proved to be so 
cold and stormy, and the rain fell in such torrents, that I 

* An Italian sausage, made of asses' meat. Tr. 


determined to take the shorter route, and went by the rail- 
way to Magdeburgh. We flew across the dreary plain, 
through Halle, Kothen, and other towns, of which I saw 
but little, hastily saluting the Sale and the Elbe as we 
passed. Towards ten in the morning we were at Magde- 
burgh, having run over these fifteen miles* in three hours 
and a half. 

The steamer did not leave for Hamburgh till three 
o'clock ; I had therefore ample leisure to explore the town. 

Magdeburgh resembles a pattern-card with its different 
buildings belonging to the oldest, the middle, and the latest 
ages. The main street, called the Broadway, which divides 
the town, is peculiarly striking ; houses are there of the 
most ancient date, which have withstood sieges and set ruin 
at defiance ; houses of every form and color, some with 
pinnacles and stone figures still standing upon them ; some 
are covered with arabesques, and upon one I even dis- 
covered a few traces of fresco-painting. Among these relics 
of antiquity are seen many dwellings of the newest style 
and taste. No other street ever made so deep an impres- 
sion upon me ; and the solemn cathedral, that master-piece 
of Grothic architecture, quite took me by surprise, although 
I had visited all the finest churches of Italy. The monu- 
ment with the twelve Apostles, which it contains, is a 
worthy tribute to the memory of the distinguished sculptor, 
Yischer. It cannot be seen without the permission of the 

The cathedral square is large and regular ; it is embel- 
lished by two avenues of trees, and is used for military ex- 
ercises. I was struck with the number of soldiers here ; 
go where I would I continually met men and officers, and 

Sixty-seven and a half English miles. 


frequently passed whole lines of troops ; it could not have 
been worse in time of war. This was the natural conse- 
quence of being in Prussia. 

The place is very much disfigured by the numerous 
open canals which flow from the houses into the street. 

It was soon three o'clock, and I went on board the 
steamer Magdeburgh, of sixty horse-power, to proceed to 
Hamburgh. Of this part of my journey I have little to 
say, excepting that it was a most tiresome trip, through a 
very dull country ; the weather was bad, the boat was 
dirty, and, as the distance was twenty-three miles,* I had 
the agreeable prospect of a comfortless night on board. 
The number of passengers was so great that we were 
obliged to crowd close together and thus we sat, with 
saint-like patience, gazing in each other's faces, and heaving 
deep sighs of weariness. Order was not to be thought of 
for a moment, no one had time to attend to it ; the whole 
day and all the night were devoted to smoking and cards. 
It is easy to imagine that the scene was not quite so tran- 
quil as an English whist party. The wind and rain pre- 
vented my leaving the cabin for an instant, and the only 
circumstance which made me any amends for the discom- 
forts of this passage, was the opportunity it afforded me of 
making the acquaintance of that amiable composer, Lorzing, 
which gave me all the more pleasure, as I am a great ad- 
mirer of his beautiful and original music. 

April 18th. Day broke at last and we soon reached 
the great commercial capital, which was nearly laid in 
ashes by the terrible conflagration of 1842, but has since 
arisen from its ruins more magnificent and imposing than 

* About one hundred and three and a half English miles. Trans. 


before. I alighted at the house of my cousin, who is mar- 
ried to the royal consul from Wirtemberg a merchant of 
the name of Schmidt, where I passed a most delightful 
week. My kinsman was so kind as to accompany me every 
where himself, and be my guide to all the different objects 
of curiosity in Hamburgh. 

We first turned our steps towards the Exchange, which 
we visited between the hours of one and two, when it is 
most frequented, that I might have the best opportunity of 
judging of the vast commercial importance of this place. 
The building contains a very large hall, with arcades and 
galleries, and several good-sized apartments, which are used 
for private conferences and refreshment rooms. It is very 
amusing to sit in the gallery and watch the ebb and flow of 
the eager multitude in the immense hall, the covered walks 
and side-rooms, and listen to the loud buzz of a thousand 
excited voices ; at half-past two the uproar reaches its high- 
est pitch, and the noise becomes really deafening ; the rate 
of exchange, by which all the affairs of the place are regu- 
lated, is then announced. 

From the Exchange we went to the noble port, 
which we crossed and re-crossed in every direction, in a 
boat. I endeavored to count the ships with three masts, 
but soon gave up the attempt in despair, without even try- 
ing to number the crowd of magnificent steamers, the brigs, 
the sloops and other craft. In short, I could only behold 
and wonder, for no less than nine hundred vessels lay before 
me, stretched in rows three or four deep, on both sides of 
the Elbe ; add to these the innumerable boats carrying 
freight backwards and forwards among the ships ; and with 
the shouting of the sailors, the hauling up of anchors, the 
rushing by of steamers, a scene will be conceived which 
London, alone, that great capital of the world, can surpass. 


This unusual animation in the harbor was owing to the 
severity of the past winter. Such a season had not been 
known for seventy years. The Elbe and the Baltic were 
frozen, putting an end to all navigation for several months, 
and it was not till very shortly before my arrival that the 
path had again been free. 

I had expected to see something very remarkable in the 
crowded dwellings around the port, having read that many 
of the houses contained whole districts within themselves, 
intersected by lanes, and capable of accommodating a great 
number of families. I visited several, and can testify that 
I saw nothing extraordinary about them ; houses with two 
wings, forming an alley from eighty to a hundred paces 
long, are to be found in every large town, neither is it at 
all unusual that so many families should live under the 
same roof, when it is remembered that they ar"e all poor, 
and each occupies but a single room. 

The favorite walk at Hamburgh is the Jungfernstieg, 
a broad avenue which sweeps round the large and beautiful 
basin of the Alster. It is only built on one side, and here 
are to be found most of those fine hotels so numerous in 
Hamburgh, and a great many handsome private residences. 
The ramparts which surround the town, and the Botanical 
Gardens, resembling a large park, are also agreeable resorts. 

The handsomest edifice in the place is the Bazar, which 
is conspicuous as a work of art and luxury, as well as for 
the durability and elegance of its structure ; it is a gigantic 
work, and all the more astonishing as it was not built at 
the expense of the public, but by a private individual, Mr. 
Charles Sillem. The name of the architect is Overdick. 
The building is of freestone ; the walls of the principal 
saloon and the hall are inlaid with marble, and both are 
od with a high cupola and large glass domes 


Handsome statues adorn the upper balustrade. At night 
the whole is brilliantly lighted with gas, and every variety 
of elegant merchandise from all parts of the world is 
spread out before the eye, producing the effect of a fairy 

The shops of Hamburgh are generally very handsome, 
their goods are tastefully displayed behind enormous panes 
of plate glass, often eight or ten feet high and five or six 
wide, a single window being not unfrequently worth six 
hundred florins, C. M.* This peculiar kind of luxury is not 
entirely confined to the shops, but is often seen in the pri- 
vate residences in Hamburgh, and also in Altona, and the 
beautiful country seats of the neighborhood. . Many of the 
panes cost eight or ten florins apiece, and they are insured 
against breakage in the same way that houses are insured 
against fire. 

This extravagance in window panes entails a correspond- 
ing degree of expense in the furniture ; nothing but mahog- 
any is to be seen, and this wood is so common here that it 
is used for the balusters of all the handsome establishments, 
and mahogany furniture is often found even in the houses 
of the pilots. 

The handsomest and most animated street in Ham- 
burgh is the Neue Wall (or New Rampart). I was particu- 
larly struck, in all the thoroughfares of this town, with the 
vast number of shops and dwellings under ground, which 
are approached by a descent of six or eight steps, with an 
iron railing to protect the passers by from a fall. The 
large slaughter-house where all the animals needed for the 

* A florin, Conventions Miinze, or conventional value, is worth 
about forty-eight cents, American money, according to a standard 
agreed upon by several of the German States. Trans. 


consumption of the city are slaughtered at once, on parti- 
cular days of the week, is a very excellent arrangement. 

The city of Altona is merely a continuation of Ham- 
burgh, from which it is only divided by a simple wooden 
gate. A wide and handsome avenue, or, to speak more pro- 
perly, an extended square, with a double row of thick trees, 
is the most remarkable street in this town, which is owned 
by Denmark, and is the most important place, next to Co- 
penhagen, in that kingdom. 

The drive of two miles to the village of Blankenese is 
really delightful, owing to the numerous beautiful country 
seats, and the large park-like gardens which line the way. 
Blankenese itself lies in a picturesque situation upon the 
Siilberg, which being the only elevation in this neighbor- 
hood, presents an extensive prospect of the wide-stretching 
plains around. The course of the Elbe can be traced, as it 
quietly winds its way towards the Baltic, almost as far as 
Cuxhaven at its mouth. This river is more than half a 
mile* in width at Blankenese. 

Another very agreeable excursion is to the New Mills, 
a little village on the banks of the Elbe, at not more than 
a quarter of an hour's distance from AUona, whose entire 
population consists of fishermen and pilots. It is worth 
while to go there to acquire some idea of the Dutch neat- 
ness and daintiness, than which it is impossible to imagine 
any thing more attractive. The houses are prettily built 
and mostly of a single story, the door-handles are of 
shining brass, the windows bright and polished, and the 
white curtains hanging before them are draped with pic- 
turesque grace. 

I had seen many dwellings among the peasantry in 

* About two and a quarter English miles. Trans. 


Saxony that presented a neat and orderly appearance, 
and showed mor*e marks of prosperity than are usually 
found in that class, but they could not be compared with 
this little village. 

The costume of the Vierlander women* was the only 
one which pleased me here. They wear short, full skirts 
of black stuff, fine white chemises with long and very wide 
sleeves, and colored bodices laced with silk or silver cords. 
The brims of their straw hats are much higher than the 
crowns, which sink in, producing a curious effect. Many 
handsome young girls, dressed in this attire, come to sell 
flowers in Hamburgh, and the neighborhood of the Ex- 
change is their favorite resort. 

The twenty-sixth of April was the day fixed for my 
departure. Frequent leave-takings are a trial from which 
the traveller cannot hope to escape, although at times it 
may cost him less pain to part than at others. On this 
occasion, I need hardly say, that the hour of separation 
was a heavy one for me ; I was leaving the last of my re- 
lations and friends behind me ; I was going forth among 
perfect strangers alone. 

At eight in the morning I took the train at Altona for 
Kiel. I observed with pleasure on this road that even the 
third class cars were excellent conveyances, with glass win- 
dows, and merely to be distinguished from the others by 
their color, and the difference in the sjeats, which were not 

We ran over the whole distance of fifteen milesf in 
three hours a quick journey, but one which had nothing 

* The Vierlands are four small islands in the Elbe, under the juris- 
diction of Hamburgh and Lubeck. Trans. 

f About sixty -seven English miles. Trans. 


but speed to recommend it. The whole country was one 
vast level moor, with spots of sand and heath, and an occa- 
sional field or meadow. The soil was so dark that the 
water in the bogs and ditches was as black as ink. A few 
patches of stunted wood are seen near Binneburg. At 
Elmsdorf a branch road leads to Grluckstadt and another 
from Neumunster, a large village with important cloth 
manufactories, to Rendsburg. No other object worthy of 
note is seen, but a monastery, where several dukes of Hoi- 
stein are buried, and a few insignificant lakes, such as Bern- 
sholmer, Einfelder and Schulhofer. I should have over- 
looke,d entirely a little stream, called the Eider, had not 
some of my fellow-passengers laid great stress upon its 
beauties. I have never found among the inhabitants of the 
most celebrated countries, more enthusiasm for w'hat was 
truly grand and wonderful, than this people appeared to 
feel for nothing at all. One very respectable woman, in 
particular, my neighbor during the journey, was indefat- 
igable in her praises of her Fatherland ; to her the dwarfish 
woods seemed a magnificent park, and the vacant flat was a 
boundless prospect, over which her delighted eyes were 
never tired of wandering. I silently wished her joy of 
this powerful imagination, but could not breathe any of her 
animation into my own cold feelings. 

The plain changed into a low undulating country as we 
approached Kiel, which lies very pleasantly on the shores 
of the Baltic, here bearing a great resemblance to a large 
lake. The harbor is said to be good, but it did not contain 
much shipping. I observed the steamer which was to con- 
vey me to Copenhagen, and little thought what an impression 
that boat was destined to make upon me. 

By the kind forethought of my cousin Schmidt, I was 
received at the station by one of his relations, Mr. Brauer. 

KIEL. 35 

who conducted me at once into his family circle, where the 
few hours I parsed at Kiel were spent most pleasantly. 

This place has a fine royal castle, which is occupied at 
present by the youngest daughter of the late king. The 
public park adjoining it has few advantages besides that of 
lying close to the sea. A range of low hills surround the 
town, on which are situated the country residences and gar- 
dens of the inhabitants. One of the most beautiful villas 
is owned by Mr. Brauer. The highest spots are furnished 
with kiosks or arbors commanding a fine view of the sea 
and the opposite shores. Since the neighborhood of Dres- 
den I had seen no landscape which pleased me so well. 

Kiel does not rank among the larger towns of Denmark, 
but it is a neat and cheerful place. Many of the houses 
have rather an unfinished appearance in consequence of not 
being plastered with lime and sand ; the roofs are of tiles, 
and not unfrequently they are spread over with a coat of 
varnish, which gives them a high polish and makes them 
much more durable. I observed here occasionally those 
expensive Hamburgh plate-glass windows, a species of 
luxury which seems to have extended far and wide. 

The evening drew near and with it the hour of embar- 
kation. The amiable Brauer family accompanied me on 
board, where I bid them farewell with a full and grateful 

'The steamer, Christian VIII, of one hundred and eighty 
horse-po'wer, proved to be the dirtiest and most uncomfor- 
table boat I had ever met with in all my travels by water. 
Sweeping and scouring had evidently never been in vogue 
here ; the steps which led to the cabin were so steep, that 
the greatest caution was necessary not to reach the bottom 
by rather too hasty a process. There was no separation 
between the accommodations for the male and female pas- 


sengers. In short, every arrangement was of a character 
to impress for ever upon the traveller the ftmembrance of 
the unhappy hours he has spent on board this boat. 

We left Kiel at nine o'clock. The days had already 
sensibly lengthened as I advanced so far towards the north, 
and the lingering twilight afforded me an opportunity of 
observing the faint outline of the fortress of Friedrichsort, 
which we passed at ten o'clock, amidst the shades of the 
falling darkness. 

April 29^. To-day I rose with the sun, which it will 
not be easy to do much longer, however, for the fair god- 
dess of light is now requiting these northern regions for 
the long hours during which they are deprived of her pre- 
sence in winter. I went on deck and overlooked the wide 
and boundless waters. There was then no land in sight, 
but a coast soon appeared, and vanished again immediately, 
to be succeeded by another rising from the sea in the dis- 
tance. Towards noon we reached the island of Moen, about 
forty miles* from Copenhagen. It consists of a small but 
most beautiful group of rocks, whose sides, white as chalk, 
smooth and shining, rise perpendicularly out of the waves. 
The highest of the cliffs is four hundred feet above the level 
of the sea. 

Soon afterwards we beheld the coast of Sweden, then 
the island of Malmoe, and finally Copenhagen, where We 
landed at four in the afternoon. The distance from Kiel 
to Copenhagen is thirty-six sea miles. 

I remained here seven days, and should have had ample 
leisure to have visited every thing worth seeing in the 

* At sea I reckon by sea-miles, of -which there are four to a geo- 


place, had the weather been more favorable to my wishes. 
But the incessant storms compelled me to renounce all 
idea of every distant excursion, and it was with great diffi- 
culty that I found my way to a few of the neighboring 

The very first street which is seen by the traveller in 
Copenhagen, on his way from the steamer, cannot fail to 
make a great impression. This is the Broad Street, lead- 
ing from the port through a large part of the town. It is 
very wide, long and regular, and wonderfully well built, 
with its double row of magnificent palaces and handsome 

The effect of a ruin which suddenly appears in the 
midst of this proud quarter of the town, is very singular ; 
it is the remains of what was meant to be a very handsome 
marble church, but its weight having proved too great for 
the soft soil, it began to sink before the edifice could be 
completed, and it was left in an unfinished state, resting 
on its gigantic pillars already partly overgrown with grass 
and moss. 

Besides the Broad Street there are many others equal- 
ly wide and elegant ; among them may be named the 
Amalienstrasse. The Oster and Gather sir asse are the 
most crowded thoroughfares, though by no means the finest 
streets ; a stranger does not easily acquire the art of mak- 
ing his way along their side-walks, which are raised about 
a foot above the street ; there is constant danger of stum- 
bling against the numerous flights of steps, on one side, 
leading to the warehouses above or to the shops in the 
depths beneath, the latter not being guarded as in Ham- 
burgh, by a railing ; on the other hand is a sober little 
stream called by the unromantic a canal, which is swelled 
by other rivulets flowing from all the houses. It requires 


incessant watchfulness not to disappear unexpectedly into 
any of the treacherous abysses to the right or left, or even 
directly ahead, or to escape injury by running violently 
against one of the projecting staircases. There is a flag 
walk next to the street, about a foot and a half wide, of 
which every one naturally tries to get possession, as it is 
so much to be preferred to the sharp and uneven pavement. 
It will readily be believed, that with all these disadvan- 
tages, and the throng of passengers, no one would be 
likely to select these streets for a pleasant stroll, particu- 
larly as the shops are very indifferent, the houses are not 
handsome or in good taste, and the streets themselves are 
narrow and dirty. 

The squares are all large and regular. One of the 
handsomest is the King's New-Market (Kongensnytorf), 
which is embellished by several beautiful palaces, the 
Guard-house, the Theatre, the principal hotels and coffee- 
houses, the Academy of Painting, and the buildings of the 
Botanical Gardens, the two latter better known under the 
name of Charlottenburg ; and in its centre is a fine eques- 
trian statue of Christian V., surrounded by several other 

Although smaller than the Kongensnytorf, the Ama- 
lienplatz is perhaps still more elegant ; it contains four 
royal palaces built to correspond, and is intersected by 
four wide streets in the form of a cross. This square is 
also adorned by a monument erected to the nfemory of 
Frederick Y. I observed a fountain in another handsome 
square, the New Market (Nytorf), which attracted my notice 
merely because it was the only one I saw in Copenhagen, 
for the waters were spouted in very slender streams by 
the little figures which composed it. 

It is impossible to behold, without astonishment, the 


splendid palaces which are so numerous in this place. Co- 
penhagen will compare in this respect with the capitals of 
the richest kingdoms in Europe. The Christianensburg 
is a truly imperial pile, which was entirely destroyed "by 
fire in 1794, but has since been rebuilt with great magnifi- 
cence. Its chapel is peculiar, and presents more the ap- 
pearance of a concert-room than that of a place destined for 
religious purposes. The galleries and the upper part of 
the room are filled with tastefully decorated boxes, resem- 
bling those at a theatre, the royal box being pre-eminent 
among them, while the lower extremity is occupied by 
benches covered with red velvet and silk. The chancel 
and altar, however, are so completely unadorned, that at 
our first entrance they were entirely overlooked. 

This palace also contains the Northern Museum, valua- 
ble for its extensive collection of ornaments, wind-instru- 
ments, arms, and implements of various kinds once in use 
among the nations of the North. 

The winter riding-school is a large and regular build- 
ing where concerts are often given. The stables pleased 
me very well, but I was still more captivated by several of 
the noble animals they contained ; genuine Arabians, or 
wild horses from Norway, with fine, glossy, silky manes and 
tails of unusual length and thickness. No connoisseur could 
behold them with indifference ; nay, even the unskilled 
in horse-flesh must have been struck with their beauties. 

Adjoining the Christianensburg is the Thorwaldsen 
Museum, a square building with handsome halls, to which 
the light is admitted from above. It is still in an uncon> 
pleted state, and several distinguished artists are at present 
engaged in covering the walls with fresco-paintings. The 
treasures of art were already there, but unfortunately, still 
packed in their boxes. The monument of Thorwaldseii 


will be placed in the centre of the court, where his remains 
will repose, watched by his own celebrated work, the noble 
lion, which is to be the only stone upon his grave. 

The largest church in Copenhagen is the Frue Kirke. 
Its structure is not remarkable pillars, arches, and cupola 
being of wood, covered with sand and gypsum ; but all that 
is wanting in outward splendor, is amply compensated by 
the interior. Here are to be found the masterpieces of 
Thorwaldsen ; his magnificent Christ is on the high altar, 
and in the niches of the walls are his colossal Apostles. 
The frame which contains these chefs-d'reuvres is forgotten 
while contemplating them ; but let us hope that this church, 
which is half wood, may never be exposed by an unkind 
fate to the dangers of a fire. 

The Catholic church is small, but extremely pretty. 
The late Emperor of Austria presented it with a fine, full- 
toned organ, and two oil-paintings, one by Kuppelwieser, 
and the other by one of his pupils. 

At the Museum of Art, the object which most interested 
me was the chair once used by Tycho Brahe. 

The Exchange is a very curious old building. It is 
narrow, but of great length, decorated with arabesques, and 
crowned by nine pinnacles, from the centre of which arises 
a singular pointed spire, formed by the tails of four croco- 
diles entwined together. The small Hall of Exchange, 
which is low and dark, contains a full-length portrait of 
Tycho Brahe. Almost all the upper part of the building 
is devoted to a species of bazaar, and the ground floor is used 
for small and very dirty shops. 

The canals which flow in from the sea lend a peculiar 
charm to this town. They are crowded with boats and 
barges filled with provisions of every kind, and present the 
appearance of s* many markets. 


The Matrosenstadt (Sailor's Town) lies adjoining Co- 
penhagen, near the port, and is very neat and pretty. The 
streets are wide and straight, and the houses all built so 
exactly alike, that it must certainly require a long ac- 
quaintance to enable their owners to distinguish one door 
from another on a foggy night. The whole street seems 
composed of one low, endless building, interrupted by a 
single house of rather more pretensions, the residence of 
the Commandant and the Superintendent. 

The lighting of the streets in Copenhagen is managed 
very much as it is in our small country towns. If the al- 
manac says there is a moon, it is enough ; no lamps can be 

needed, even if she conceal her face behind a dark cloud, 

7 . 

for it were a great piece of arrogance to attempt to replace 
her heavenly light by that of a feeble lamp. A commend- 
able regulation ! 

I found the garden of the Rosenburg, which is within 
the town, and the fine avenue of handsome trees by the 
sea-shore, the most agreeable among the public walks of the 
neighborhood ; the latter is also the resort of those who 
ride or drive, and is much frequented during the pleasant 
season, when a band of music is stationed in front of one of 
the coffee-houses. But the loveliest view is from the Kas- 
tell, above the Long Avenue, where you overlook the whole 
town spread out in all its pride at your feet, the harbor 
with its crowded shipping, and the blue, glistening Sound, 
stretching out of sight between the coasts of Denmark and 
Sweden, with the numerous beautiful groups of islands, 
claimed by these two countries, which lie on its bosom. 
The background is tame, however, for there is no range of 
mountains to serve as a boundary to the prospect, where 
the eye wanders over the endless flats of Denmark. 

I saw but few vessels with three masts in the harbor, 


and still fewer steamers. The ships of war looked rather 
strangely ; each one was provided with a weather roof, 
above which 'rose the masts, and as they lay very high out 
of the water, and displayed their tiers of portholes and 
cabin-windows, they appeared like large houses with flag- 

An excursion to the royal pleasure castle of Fredericks- 
berg, which is only half a mile* from the water-gate, can 
be accomplished with great ease in a very comfortable om- 
nibus. A beautiful avenue of trees leads to this spot, 
which offers every inducement to tempt the citizens into 
the country. There is a Tivoli, a railway, cabinets and 
booths, with wax figures, and many other sights, cafes, beer- 
houses, and music. The gardens contain a number of little 
arbors, with tables and benches, where you can sit and over- 
look the whole gay crowd, a sight well worthy of observa- 
tion, particularly of a Sunday when the gardens are full. 

On our way to this Prater of Copenhagen, we passed 
some handsome country seats, surrounded by beautiful 

The royal castle is situated on the summit of a hillock 
at the end of the avenue, and is surrounded by a very ex- 
tensive park. It commands a good view of the town and of 
the adjacent land and sea ; but I give the preference very 
decidedly to the prospect from the Kastell. The park 
contains a large island formed by an arm of the sea, which 
I found at this season of the year very full. This island is 
reserved exclusively for the use of the court, but the rest 
of the park is thrown open to the public. 

Just outside of the water-gate stands an obelisk, by no 
means remarkable for its beauty or as a work of art, since 

* About two and a quarter English miles. Trans. 


it merely consists of a few stones united together, and is of 
an inconsiderable height ; but very interesting from the 
occasion on which it was erected. His grateful subjects 
raised it to the honor of the late King Christian VI., as 
a memorial of the abolition of the feudal service ; a monu- 
ment which no person of good feeling can behold without 
an emotion of pleasure. 

Having now faithfully related all that I saw during my 
short stay in Copenhagen, it only remains for me to describe 
a few peculiar customs which fell under my observation ; 
and I shall first mention the end of all things the burial 
of the dead. 

In Denmark, as well as in all the Scandinavian countries 
I visited, not excepting Iceland, it is the usual practice to 
defer the funeral for a week or ten days after a death. 
In winter this may not be amiss ; but in summer it cannot 
be pleasant to be an inmate of a house under such circum- 

The burial of one of the royal physicians, Dr. Brandis, 
took place while I was in Copenhagen. The hearse was 
followed, on this occasion, by two royal coaches as well as 
many Others, both the former being empty, as well as a num- 
ber of the latter ; the servants walked beside them. Among 
the mourners I did not observe a single woman. I thought 
this must be the case merely at the interment of males, but 
was assured that it is the same when a woman is carried to 
the grave. Yes, this care for our tender sex extends so far, 
that on the day of a funeral no female can be seen in the 
house of death. The mourners assemble at the residence 
of the deceased, where cold refreshments are provided and 
various kinds of drink ; these hospitalities being again re- 
newed after the conclusion of the ceremonies. 

It gives me great pleasure to record that during my visit 


to Copenhagen, I did not see a beggar, or even a single 
individual poorly clad, such as are unfortunately too often 
to be met with in other large towns. There must be 
poverty here, as well as elsewhere, but beggary is never 
seen. While on this subject, I cannot forbear to mention 
an arrangement which is well worthy of imitation. A 
number of large houses, some of which are owned by the 
royal family, and others by private individuals, or by dif- 
ferent societies, are devoted to the accommodation of poor 
families, who are permitted to occupy them at a much lower 
rent than they could possibly obtain a dwelling elsewhere. 
The costume of this country did not strike me as partic- 
ularly pretty. The peasant women wear woollen skirts, 
either green or black, which reach to their ankles, and are 
trimmed round the bottom with a broad colored border 
of worsted. The seams of their spencers and the arm- 
holes are also trimmed with a narrow colored border. Their 
heads are covered with a handkerchief, which is made to 
project in the shape of a hat. On Sundays I saw several 
little ornamental caps, worked in silk, with a formal row 
of stiff, even points, about as broad as the hand, in front ; 
while behind, on the contrary, hung long knots of hand- 
some ribbon, the ends of which fell halfway down their back 
I saw nothing remarkable in the dress of the men. In point 
of strength and beauty there is no marked difference between 
the peasantry of this country and our Austrians, though I 
am inclined to give a decided preference to the good looks 
of my own countrywomen. Light hair and eyes predomi- 
nate here. 

I saw few soldiers ; their uniform is.very handsome, par- 
ticularly that of the King's body-guard. 

At the sight of the little drummers, mere boys of ten 
or twelve years old, I could hardly help exclaiming " Druiw 


what are you doing with that boy ?" For it seems really 
cruel to make those children march, attend the fatiguing 
field exercises, carry their large instruments, and industri- 
ously play upon them all the while ; such a practice must 
have many a broken constitution to answer for. I spent 
many delightful hours during my visit to Copenhagen 
with Professor Mariboe and his most amiable family, and 
the excellent Embassy Chaplain, Mr Zimmerman. They 
received me with the utmost cordiality into their kind 
circle, where I immediately felt perfectly at home. I shall 
never forget their friendship, and shall avail myself of 
every opportunity of openly expressing my grateful sense of 
so much kindness. I am also under great obligations to Mr. 
Edward Gottschalk, and Mr. Knudson ; having addressed 
myself to the former to procure a passage to Iceland, he 
was so good as to apply to Mr. Knudson for me himself. 

Mr. Knudson is the head of one o the most important 
commercial houses in Copenhagen, which carries on an ex- 
tensive trade with Iceland. He owns a great many ships, 
some of which are engaged in the fisheries, and others 
supply the different ports of this island with the various 
necessaries and luxuries of life, though he has somewhat 
contracted the scale of his operations of late, because his 
frequent voyages were becoming too severe a tax upon his 

He himself accompanies his ships every year, and always 
spends several months in Iceland to regulate his affairs in 
that island. Upon the recommendation of Mr. Gottschalk, 
Mr. Knudson was so obliging as to offer me a passage in 
the ship he was about to sail in \ an act of courtesy which I 
knew how to appreciate, for it was no slight thing to en- 
cumber himself with a female passenger during such a jour- 
ney. I was perfectly unknown to Mr. Knudson ; he had 


no means of judging of my courage or my powers of en 
durance. He could not tell if I were equal to the hard- 
ships of a northern voyage, if I could quietly endure the 
horrors of sea-sickness, or if I possessed sufficient self-com- 
mand to refrain from annoying his seamen with my cries 
and fears during the dangers of a storm. The worthy 
man was not withheld by any of these considerations ; I 
promised not to be troublesome, and he trusted to my word. 
He took me with him ; and this was not my only obligation, 
for I owed to him every facility for pursuing my travels in 
Iceland, and all the comforts I enjoyed during my residence 
in that island, were due to his kind exertions. I could not 
have undertaken the journey under more favorable aus- 

Ships bound for Iceland always sail from Copenhagen 
at the end of April, or by the middle of May, at the latest, 
The Danish government mail packet is the only exception, 
which leaves Copenhagen in October, remains in Iceland 
during the winter months, and returns in March. The risk- 
of this expedition is undertaken by the merchants of Copen- 
hagen on shares. % 

A French frigate also visits Iceland every spring, and 
cruises about in the different harbors till the middle of 
August, for the purpose of watching over the interests of 
the French ships which crowd these seas in summer, at- 
tracted by the great profits of the fisheries. 

There are frequent opportunities for the return passage 
from Iceland during the pleasant months, in the merchant 
ships, which often sail with their freight for Denmark, Eng- 
land and Spain, as late as the month of September. 

VOYAGE, &c. 47 

ftm CflBttljara tn 

On Sunday the 4th of May, the wind was at last favor- 
able, and Mr. Knudson sent me word to be ready by noon 
to embark on btfard the fine brig " Johannes." 

I obeyed the summons at once. The anchor was raised 
and the sails unfurled like magnificent wings, which gently 
bore us out of the harbor of Copenhagen. No heavy part- 
ing from my children, my relations, or long-tried friends, 
saddened this hour ; I left the place with a light and cheer- 
ful heart, upheld by the happy hope of soon reaching that 
goal, which had so long been the object of my longing 

Bright skies smiled upon us, and the very wind we 
wished for filled our sails. I sat on deck to enjoy the 
prospect of the new scene's in store for me. We left 
the noble outstretched town behind us, and advanced into 
the Sound, a beautiful basin, which recalled to my mind 
the large fine lakes of Switzerland ; to the right and left 
the coasts of Sweden and Denmark press towards each other, 
as if to forbid the bold mariner from seeking an outlet be- 
tween their shores. 

We soon sailed by the little Swedish town of Carls- 
skrona, and the desert island of Hreen, where Tycho Brahe 
passed the greater part of his life in observing and follow- 
ing the course of the stars; and rapidly approached the 
dangerous passage between the Sound and the Cattegat, 
where the narrow sea and the strong current demand the 
utmost caution from the sailor. 

The two countries approach within a quarter of a mile* 

* Rather less than an English mile and a quarter. 


of each other at this place. Helsingborg is a pretty little 
town on the Swedish coast ; on the Danish side are Elsi- 
nore and the fortresss of Kronburg, which lies at the ex- 
tremity of a projecting point of land, and demands a toll 
from every ship that goes by, showing a long line of 
menacing brazen throats in case of a r'efusal. "We had 
already paid our tribute in Copenhagen, and after an ex- 
change of signals we sailed fearlessly on. 

Having passed this strait, we entered the Cattegat, 
where the receding shores soon left us in the open sea, and 
most of the ships and barques which pressed around us in 
the Sound, bid us farewell ; some sailing to the West and 
some to the East while we alone, in our deserted path, 
steered for the cold and rigid North. Twilight did not 
fall till after nine o'clock, when the stars began to 
sparkle most gloriously in the heavens, and the fires and 
light-houses blazed up on the coast, to give warning against 
the hidden dangers of its projecting cliffs. 

I now returned my devout thanks to God for his former 
goodness, and after praying for his continued protection, I 
went down into the cabin, where a convenient state-room 
and a comfortable berth were awaiting me, and soon sank 
into a deep, refreshing slumber. 

May 5th. I awoke in perfect health, but it was not 
very long before there was a great change in my feelings. 
We had left the Cattegat and the Skagerack behind us 
during the night, and were now tossing upon the restless 
waves of the North Sea. It was blowing quite a gale, and 
our poor ship was driven about at such a rate that it would 
have puzzled an accomplished dancing-master to keep his 
footing ; I was never very devoted to the Terpsichorean 
art, even in my young days, and now ! I reeled in the 


grasp of the pitiless Naiads of these stormy seas till I was 
completely mastered by that horror of horrors in my 
estimation, thougfi not exactly according to Schiller's 
meaning sea-sickness. 

At first I slighted its approaches, and tried to persuade 
myself this was one of those evils to which well-trained 
travellers can inure themselves if they will only try to do 
so ; but the struggle was vain. I grew worse every moment, 
and was at last obliged to lie down in my berth, where my 
only comfort was the thought that, as we were out of sight 
of land, there was nothing in the way of scenery for me to 
lose. The next day, however, we made the coast of Nor- 
way, and I dragged myself, half dead, on deck, to behold a 
fine range of moderately high mountains, whose tops still 
glistened in the bright snows of the early spring ; and then, 
nearly stiffened by the icy wind, I hurried back to my good 
warm feather bed. No one who has not experienced the 
cutting, piercing cold of a northern gale, can form any idea 
of its severity. The sun was shining in the heavens, the 
thermometer only 3 Q (Reaumur) ;* and yet, although I had 
on twice as much clothing as I should have worn at home 
if it were 6 or 8,f I was chilled through and through, 
and felt as if I had nothing around me. 

On our fourth night out we sailed by the Shetland 
Islands, and towards evening, on the following day, we were 
so near the fine rocky group of the Faroe Islands, that we 
had some reason to fear we might be driven upon their 
shores by the continued violence of the storm. 

Iceland appeared in sight on the seventh day ; an ex- 
traordinarily quick passage, over which our sailors exulted 
not a little, boasting that steam itself could not have out- 

* 25i Fahrenheit. Trans. f 18* or 14 Fahrenheit Trans. 


stripped us. But I, poor soul ! cared neither for wind nor 
steam, and only longed for a few moments respite from my 
sufferings, which had reached such a pass, that on the fifth 
day I almost thought my last hour had come. My limbs 
were covered with an icy sweat, I was feeble to the last 
degree, my mouth was parched, and the distressing nausea 
had not ceased for a moment. I felt it was time to take 
some effectual measures for my relief, and rousing myself, I 
staggered to a seat, with the assistance of the cabin-boy, 
and promised to try any remedy that was proposed to me. 
Grits boiled in water, and flavored with sugar and wine, 
were the first prescription ; I was to continue taking them 
till they remained on my stomach. This did not answer at 
all, and I was then advised to try a little piece of raw bacon, 
well peppered, and a few drops of rum. It is needless to say 
how much effort it required to swallow such a dose ; but I 
had no choice I quietly opened my mouth for morsel after 
morsel, till af last my poor stomach managed to retain a 
small piece, and not till then did I begin to improve. 

I mention all these minute particulars of my illness 
and its cure, for the benefit of my numerous fellow-sufferers, 
who have doubtless as much difficulty as I had myself in 
making up their minds to take any nourishment ; and I 
advise them not to put it off as long as I did, but to begin 
to eat at once, and continue to do so till they can keep 
some food on their stomach. 

During my convalescence I endeavored to restore the 
tone of my mind, scarcely less exhausted than my body, by 
a diligent study of the life and manners of the northern 
sailors. My companions on board ship were Mr. Knudson, 
Mr. Briige, a merchant we were to land at the Westmann 
Islands, the captain, the mate, and six or seven seamen. The 
mode of living in the cabin was as follows : at seven in the 


morning coffee was brought in and what coffee ! after 
drinking it for eleven days, I was not able to form the least 
conjecture as to the land it came from. Bread and butter, 
cheese, with cold beef or pork, were served up at ten ; all 
excellent dishes for people in sound health. This meal 
was washed down with tea-water as the beverage is always 
called in Scandinavia and Iceland if possible even worse 
than its predecessor, the inimitable coffee, and thus I was 
disappointed a second time, for the food was too strong 
and the drink too I hardly know what to call it pro- 
bably spoilt by too much art. My hopes now rested upon 
our dinner, but alas ! this fair dream was destined to vanish 
like the others. When I took my seat at the table, for the 
first time on the eighth day of our passage, my eye was 
immediately attracted by the table cloth, which had, no 
doubt, been clean when we sailed, but as the lurching and 
pitching of the ship had covered it with the traces of every 
thing which had been on the table since that day, it was 
clean no longer. The plates and glasses were secured in a 
kind of wooden net, but before they were placed there by 
our good cabin-boy, he was careful to wipe them on a towel, 
bearing a suspicious resemblance to the floor in color, and 
which was actually used in the morning as a wash-towel. I 
always turned away my eyes during these preliminary 
arrangements, and tried to think my own plate and tumbler 
fared rather better than the others, and perhaps entirely 
escaped the unkind usage ; fixing, at the same time, my 
whole attention on our expected meal. 

We* began with soup ; but instead of a good meat broth, 
it was nothing but rice, boiled with prunes, to which red 
wine and sugar were added at the table ; and this greatest 
of all treats for. a Danish palate was far from agreeable to 
mine. Our second and last dish was a great piece of roast 


beef, of which I have nothing to say, excepting that it was 
altogether too substantial for my weakened digestion. Our 
evening meal was that of the morning over again, every re- 
past being closed with tea-water. At first this manner of 
living was very disagreeable to me, but after a few days, 
when I began to feel better, I became more accustomed 
to it, and managed to do as much credit to the ship's fare 
as my companions.* The rich owner being on board, we 
were amply provided with the best of wines, and a bowl 
of punch made its appearance almost every evening. An 
excuse was always at hand ; we drank to the wind when it 
was fair, and when contrary, we drank to a change. If land 
were in sight, we toasted it with a bumper, and when it dis- 
appeared, it was but civil to drink a farewell. Doubtless 
many other opportunities presented themselves, which I 
was too sea-sick to note ; and thus it went on from day to 
day during the whole passage. 

The sailors had their tea-water, without sugar, every 
morning, and a small glass of brandy ; for dinner they had 
vegetables, grits, or potatoes, with codfish, bacon, and other 
salted meats ; and they could help themselves to very ex- 
cellent ship's biscuit whenever they chose. 

This indifferent fare is by no means the worst hardship 
these poor fellows have to contend with ; they are engaged 
in a continual strife with the elements ; they must brave 
the most fearful storms, and neither the rain nor the pierc- 
ing cold can ever drive them from the deck. I could not 

* It would grieve me very much if I thought my description of our 
life on board this ship had wounded the feelings of worthy Mr. K. 
But every one knows that, in his station, living at sea is very different 
from living on shore ; and I can bear witness to the comforts of his 
household, not only in Copenhagen, but in Iceland/ where every thing 
was carried on exactly as it is in the large cities of Europe. 


but admire the good nature and the untiring cheerfulness 
with which they fulfilled their hard duties. And what was 
their reward ? Scanty wages, the food mentioned above, 
and for a sleeping-place the smallest and most uncomforta- 
ble hole in the ship, dark and offensive as the oil-colors, 
varnish, tar and codfish stowed away there, could make it. 

Those only who are gifted by nature with a contented 
disposition could be satisfied with such a lot. The Danish 
sailors possess this qualification to an eminent degree, as I 
had many opportunities of observing during my travels, 
not only on board this ship, but in several others. 

But it is full time after this digression to return to my 
narrative. Unfortunately the fair winds which had driven 
us so rapidly towards the coast of Iceland, suddenly de- 
serted us on the seventh day, and a contrary wind spring- 
ing up, we were kept beating about for several days and 
nights, during which our decks were washed by a great 
many Spanish waves.* We made two attempts to land our 
fellow-passenger, Mr. Brtige, at the Westmann Islands (be- 
longing to Iceland), but found it impossible to do so. At 
last, at the close of the eleventh day, we reached Haven- 
fiord, an excellent harbor, two miles from Reikjavick, the 
capital of Iceland. 

In spite of this adverse change in the weather, we had 
made an unprecedented passage. The distance from Co- 
penhagen to Iceland is computed at three hundred geo- 
graphical miles,! in a direct line, and our course must have 

* The large waves which approach from the westward are called by 
the sailors Spanish waves, or billows. 

f The geographical, or common mile of Germany, is about four and 
a half English miles, making the distance from Copenhagen to Iceland 
thirteen hundred and fifty English miles in a direct line. Trans. 


been from three hundred and fifty to four hundred at the 
least. If we had not been put back thirty or forty hours 
when we were almost in port, we should have landed on the 
eighth or ninth day out, and that is more than could have 
been done by a steamer. 

My first impressions of the coast of Iceland were very 
different from the descriptions I had read in books. I had 
fancied a barren, desolate waste, without a bush or a tree ; 
and I saw grass-covered hillocks, copses, and even, as I 
thought, patches of dwarfish woods ; but as we approached, 
and I could distinguish the different objects more plainly, 
the hillocks were changed into human habitations, with 
small doors and windows, and the groups of trees proved to 
be great lava masses, from ten to fifteen feet high, entirely 
overgrown with grass and moss. Every thing was new and 
surprising to me ; I could hardly wait to land. 

At last we were at anchor ; but it was not till the fol- 
lowing morning that the hour of my deliverance arrived, 
and we could go on shore. 

Another night, and every difficulty being adjusted, I 
landed in Iceland, a country I had so ardently wished to 
see, and revelled in all the natural wonders of that extra- 
ordinary island. 

Before I proceed any farther with my own adventures, 
may I be permitted to offer a few observations on the island 
of Iceland, taken from the Travels of Sir George Macken- 
zie, a work whose merit is universally admitted. 

" The discovery of Iceland is attributed to the enter- 
prise of a few Swedish and Norwegian pirates, who were 
wrecked on its coasts in the year 860, while on their way 
to the Faroe Islands. No voluntary emigrants found their 
way there, however, till 874, when a colony led by Ingulf, 


having become impatient of the rule of Harold the Fair- 
haired, removed to this distant country, where the new- 
comers are believed to have found no traces of human 
life, and were consequently the first who peopled the land. 

At this period the island is said to have been ^covered 
with a thicket, which was cut through to open a way for the 
settlers. The Norwegians brought with them their lan- 
guage, their religion, their manners, and their historical re- 
collections, and they also introduced a kind of feudal 
system, which assumed rather an aristocratic character 
about the year 928, although they were professedly repub- 
licans. The island was divided into four provinces, each of 
which was governed by an hereditary sheriff or judge. 

" The General Assembly of the island (called the 
Allthing) met once a year on the shores of the lake of the 
Thingvalla. The colonists possessed an excellent code, 
which provided for every emergency in their society. 
This union lasted more than three hundred years, a period 
which may be called the golden age of Iceland. Education, 
literature, and even poetry flourished among its inhabit- 
ants. They took part in the commerce of the Norwegians, 
and shared their adventurous sea voyages in quest of new 

" The Sagas, or histories of the country, contain many 
relations of personal bravery. The bards and historians 
visited other lands, became the favorites of princes, and re- 
turned to their island covered with honors and loaded with 
gifts. The Edda of Samund is one of the finest poems of 
the earlier days of Iceland ; the second part of the Edda, 
called the Skalda, is attributed by many persons to the 
celebrated Snorri Sturluson, and dates from a later period. 
Isleif, the first bishop of Skalholt, was the earliest historian 
if Iceland, and was followed by Snorri Sturluson, born in 


1178, who was the richest and most influential person in 
the island. He was constantly attended at the General 
Assemblies by a brilliant retinue of eight hundred armed 
men. He was a great historian and poet, possessed an ac- 
curate knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, and 
was an admirable orator. Besides the Edda, he also wrote 
the Hairnskringla. 

" A school was established at Skalholt about the middle 
of the llth century by Isleif, first bishop of Iceland, and 
was followed by four other schools and several monasteries. 
Poetry and music appear to have been two regular branches 
of the education imparted at these schools. 

1 It would seem that the climate of Iceland was once 
less rigorous than it is at present ; formerly corn was raised 
there, and the trees and bushes grew to a greater height 
than they do now. There were no towns or villages, how- 
ever, the population being scattered over the country, and 
the yearly Assembly was held in the open air at Thing- 
ralla. The clothing of the Icelanders was supplied by the 
wool of their sheep ; the fisheries furnished their prin- 
cipal employment, but they had also dealings with foreign 
countries, which afforded more distant occupations. 

" The doctrines of Christianity were first introduced in 
the year 981, through Frederick, a Saxon bishop. Many 
churches were then erected, and tithes established for the 
support of the clergy. Isleif, bishop of Skalholt. was con- 
secrated in the year 1057. After the introduction of Chris- 
tianity, the Icelanders enjoyed for nearly two centuries the 
undisturbed exercise of their religious faith. 

" Greenland, and the most northern part of America, 
are said to have been discovered by the Icelanders. 

" Towards the middle of the 13th century, Iceland 
passed under the dominion of the Norwegian kings. In 


1380, Norway was united to the crown of Denmark, and 
Iceland was made over, without resistance, to that country. 
After its submission to Norway and Denmark, peace and 
security succeeded the frequent troubles which had dis- 
turbed the prosperity of the island ; but apathy and indo- 
lence seem to have crept in as the natural consequence of 
this quiet state of things. The maritime enterprises of the 
Icelanders were restricted by their new rulers, and commerce 
gradually fell into the hands of the subjects of other realms. 
The climate seems to have changed, or else the diminished 
industry of the inhabitants has allowed all their agricul- 
tural efforts to fall to decay. 

" In the year 1402, the plague broke out in Iceland, 
and swept away two-thirds of the population. 

" The first printing-press was brought to Hoolum in 
1530, under the direction of Bishop John Areson. 

" The reformation in the church of Iceland was not ef- 
fected without much disturbance, but the reformed religion 
was definitively established in the year 1551. 

" The piratical incursions of the 15th century occasioned 
much suffering among the Icelanders ; the French and 
English nations shared in the guilt of these invasions as 
late as the year 1616. A large band of Algerine pirates 
made a descent upon the island in 1627, and after murder- 
ing nearly fifty of the inhabitants, carried off four hundred 
of them into captivity. 

" The 18th century commenced with a fearful mortality 
from small-pox; more than 16,000 of the inhabitants fell 
victims to that disease. A famine carried off 10,000 more 
in the year 1759. 

" The year 1793 was remarkable for the most terrible 
volcanic eruption which had ever taken place in the island. 
Enormous streams of lava swept every thing before them, 


and large rivers, hemmed within their banks, were changed 
into lakes. A thick cloud of smoke and volcanic ashes 
hung over the whole island for more than a year, and nearly 
obscured the light of day. Cattle, sheep, and horses were 
destroyed ; famine, with sickness in its train, and above all, 
the most virulent kind of small-pox, diminished the sur- 
rounding population by more than 11,000 souls, within a 
few years. 

" The island of Iceland lies in the Atlantic Ocean ; its 
greatest breadth is sixty, and its length thirty-five geo- 
graphical miles.* The population is estimated at 48,000, 
and the superficial area is eighteen hundred square miles." 

nt limBnfinri: uttfr 3nttmt tn 

On the morning of the 15th of May, I disembarked in 
the harbor of Havenfiord, and found myself at last on the 
soil of Iceland. I was still dizzy from my long attack of 
sea-sickness, and the motion of the ship ; every thing 
seemed to dance around me, and I could hardly take a 
steady step ; but yet I could not remain quietly in the 
house of Mr. Knudson, where I had been invited to stay 
on my first landing, and I went out at once to see and ex- 
amine every thing in the place, which I found to consist 
merely of three dwellings built of wood, a few warehouses 
of the same material, and several huts inhabited by the 

The wooden houses, occupied by the merchants or their 

* Two hundred and seventy English miles in breadth, and one 
hundred and fifty-seven and a half in length. TV. 


factors, are of a single story, with five or six windows m 
front ; a low flight of steps leads to an entrance, in the 
centre of the building, which opens into a vestibule, with 
two doors communicating with the rooms to the right and 
left. In the rear is the kitchen, and the courtyard is be- 
yond. Such a house contains four or five rooms on the 
ground floor, and a few small chambers under the roof. 

The arrangements are entirely European ; the furni- 
ture, a great deal of which is mahogany, is all brought 
from Copenhagen, as well as the mirrors, and the cast-iron 
stoves. Handsome rugs are spread in front of the sofas, 
neat curtains hang before the windows ; the whitewashed 
walls are ornamented with English engravings, and china, 
silver, cut-glass, &c., are displayed upon the. chests or 
corner-tables. The rooms are scented with roses, migno- 
nette, and pinks, and I even saw one piano-forte here. Any 
person who should suddenly be set down in a house like 
this, without having made the journey, would be sure to 
imagine himself in some town on the continent of Europe, 
and not in that distant region of poverty and barrenness, 
the island of Iceland. I found the habitations of the easy 
classes in Reikjavick, and the other places I visited in this 
country, exactly similar to those in Havenfiord. I next 
entered some of the huts, which I found to be decidedly 
more Icelandic. They are small and low, built of lava 
blocks, filled in with earth, the whole sodded over with 
grass, and they might easily be mistaken for natural ele- 
vations in the ground, if the wooden chimneys, the low 
doors, and almost imperceptible windows, did not betray 
that they were tenanted by human beings. A dark and 
narrow passage, not more than four feet high, leads on one 
hand to the dwelling-room, and on the other to the store- 
room, where the provisions are kept, which is also used in 


winter to stable the cows and sheep. The fireplace is gen- 
erally at the end of this passage, which is purposely built 
so low in order to exclude the cold. The walls and floors 
of these huts are not boarded; the dwelling-rooms are 
barely large enough to sleep in, and perhaps to turn round : 
the whole furniture consists of the bedsteads, with a very 
scanty supply of bedding, a small table, and a few chests ; 
the latter are used for seats as well as the beds. Poles are 
fastened in the walls to which clothes, shoes and stockings, 
and other things of that kind are suspended ; and a little 
shelf, with a few books on it, is generally found in each 
hut. No stoves are needed in these crowded rooms, which 
are sufficiently heated by the warmth of their numerous 

There are also poles in the fireplaces to hang up the 
wet clothing and dry the fish. The smoke often spreads 
itself over the room and finds its way very slowly out of the 
air-holes. There is no wood for fuel in the whole island. 
The rich import it from Norway and Denmark, and the 
poor burn turf, to which they often add fish-bones or fat, 
and a most offensive smoke proceeds from this disgusting 

On entering one of these hovels, it is impossible to say 
which is the worst, the suffocating smoke of the passage, or 
the stifling air of the inner room, poisoned with the perspi- 
ration and uncleanliness of so many persons. I am persuaded 
that the horrible eruptions, which are so common among 
the Icelanders, are more to be attributed to their unparal- 
leled filthiness than to the climate or their peculiar food. 

In my distant travels throughout the country, I found 
the huts of the peasantry every where equally dirty and 
miserable. Of course I do not mean to say there were no 
exceptions, for even here a few rich peasants can well afford 


to live in greater comfort, according to their means and in* 
clinations. But to my notion, we should judge of the 
habits of a people by the mass, and not by the few, as many 
travellers are in the habit of doing ; and very rare indeed 
were the examples of cleanliness which I saw. 

Havenfiord is surrounded by a most beautiful and pic- 
turesque field of lava, which at first swells to a gentle emi- 
nence, then sinks again, and finally stretches in one wide 
plain to the neighboring hills. The different masses, black 
and bare, arise in the most varied shapes, to the height of 
ten or fifteen feet, and assume the figures of walls, pillars, 
grottoes and excavations, over which large level pieces will 
often make a natural bridge ; the whole formed by blocks 
of congealed lava, which in some places are covered to their 
summits with grass and moss, presenting that delusive ap- 
pearance of stunted trees which I saw from the ship. The 
horses, sheep, and cows scramble about in these fields, in- 
dustriously seeking out every small green spot ; and I my- 
self was never weary with scrambling ; I could not suffi- 
ciently admire and wonder at this fearfully beautiful pic- 
ture of desolation. 

In a few hours I had already so far forgotten my trou- 
bles at sea, and felt so much refreshed, that I determined 
to continue my journey to Reikjavick that very evening. 
Mr. Knudson appeared to feel much concerned about me, 
and gave repeated warnings of the bad roads and the dan- 
gerous abysses I was to pass on my way ; but I quieted 
him with the assurance that I was a skilful horsewoman 
and could hardly meet with worse roads than I had for- 
merly seen in Syria. Taking leave of this worthy man, 
who was to remain a few weeks longer in Havenfiord, I 
mounted my pony and set off boldly with my female guide, 
who proved to be 'one of the most remarkable antiquities of 


Iceland, and well deserving of a few words' notice. She 
was more than seventy years old, though she hardly looked 
fifty ; her hair was of a rich light brown, and still curled 
on her head ; she was dressed in men's clothes, and would 
undertake the most difficult errands steer a boat with as 
much strength and skill as an expert fisherman, manage 
every thing better than any man, and was more to be relied 
upon, because she never cultivated that intimate acquaint- 
ance with the brandy bottle so common among her country- 
men. She strode off before me at such a pace that I was 
fain to urge on my pony as much as I could with my whip. 
Our route lay at first among the heaps of lava, and it 
was certainly rather a rough road to follow ; we afterwards 
crossed several plains and slight elevations, from whence we 
overlooked the whole wide valley in which lie scattered 
the villages of Havenfiord, Bassestadt, Keikjavick, and other 
places. Bassestadt is situated on a point of land which 
stretches out into the sea, and is constantly in sight from 
the road ; it contains an academy, a stone church, and a 
few huts. The little town of Keikjavick is concealed by a 
hill, and is not visible till you are close upon it, which is 
the case with the other hamlets 'scattered about this plain. 
The view is bounded on one side by several ranges of high 
mountains, among which the jokuls (glaciers) were con- 
spicuous, still covered far down their sides with the winter's 
snows ; and on the other it is open to the sea. At a little 
distance, I was impressed with the belief that many of the 
valleys and hillocks were covered with verdure, and I 
thought I saw several beautiful meadows ; but upon a closer 
investigation, I ascertained that they were marshes, con- 
taining hundreds and hundreds of little eminences not un- 
like mole-hills, or small grave mounds, overgrown with grass 
and moss. 


From one spot I could overlook a wide circuit of eight 
or ten miles* without being able to perceive a single tree 
or bush, a field or a village. All was lifeless. "We passed 
a few scattered cottages ; but we rarely heard the chirp of 
a bird, and still more rarely a friendly salutation from a 
human voice. We were completely surrounded with the 
streams of lava, or bogs and swamps ; not a spot was to be 
seen in that whole space which could have been turnect up 
by the plough. 

At the end of a long mile, I reached a height from 
which I could discover Reikjavick. the only place of any 
size in the island, and its capital. I was very much disap- 
pointed in its appearance, however, for I saw nothing but 
an insignificant village. 

The distance from Havenfiord to Reikjavick is only two 
miles (German), but to avoid tiring my old companion too 
much, I was three hours on the way. The road is gen- 
erally very good, with the exception of a few places where 
it leads through the streams of lava. I saw nothing of the 
dizzy precipices I had been led to expect, unless a few low 
declivities stretching towards the sea, or an occasional hole 
fifteen or sixteen feet deep in the lava fields, were the seat 
of these hidden dangers. 

About eight o'clock in the evening I arrived at Reik- 
javick in perfect safety. Through the kindness of Mr. 
Knudson a nice little room was already prepared for me in 
one of his own houses, occupied by the family of the worthy 
baker, Bernhoft, and I could not possibly have met with 
a better reception any where. 

This whole family showed a rare degree of cordiality 
and affection during my long residence with them. Mr. 

* Thirty-six to forty-five English miles. 


Bernhoft gave up his usual occupations for hours at a time' 
to devote himself to me, and accompany me on my excur- 
sions. He spared no pains to collect specimens of flowers 
beetles, or shells, and was overjoyed when he had the good 
luck to find^any that were new to me. His excellent wife 
and dear children were equally kind and attentive. I can 
say no more : may God requite them a thousandfold for 
their friendly conduct ! 

I had the happiness o hearing my dear mother-tongue 
spoken here, for Mr. Bernhoft was a Holsteiner by birth, 
and although he had spent many years of his life in Den- 
mark and Iceland, he had not entirely forgotten our beloved 

I was now in the capital ofr Iceland, where what are 
called the better classes are assembled, and I shall endeavor 
to sketch their life and manners for the benefit of my in- 
dulgent reader. 

Nothing struck me so much as the great dignity ol 
carriage at which the ladies here all aim, and which is so 
apt to degenerate into stiffness where it is not perfectly 
natural, or has not become a second nature by habit. They 
incline their head very coolly when you meet them, with 
less civility than we should use towards an inferior or a 
stranger. The lady of the house never accompanies her 
guests beyond the door of the room, after a call ; if the 
husband is present he goes a little farther, but when this 
is not the case you are often at a loss which way to turn, 
as there is no servant on the spot to open the street door 
for you, unless it may happen to be in the house of the 
Stiftsamtmann, the first dignitary of the island. I had 
already observed traces of this formality in Hamburgh, 
and the farther I advanced towards the north, the more it 
increased, till in Iceland it reached its greatest height. 


Valuable letters of introduction will not always avail a 
stranger to thaw the ice of these northern circles. I will 
relate the following incident as an example. 

Among many other warm letters of introduction, I had 
one for the Stiftsamtmann or governor of Iceland, Mr. Yon 

H . When I arrived in Copenhagen I was informed 

that he was also in that city, and upon calling to pay my 
respects to him, I was shown into a room where I found 
two young women and three children. I presented my let- 
ter, and after waiting for a few minutes, without being re- 
quested to take a chair, I quietly seated myself, certainly 
far from suspecting that I was in the presence of the lady 
of the house, and that it was she who had neglected this 
common act of civility towards a stranger. After a long 

delay, Mr. Yon H- himself made his appearance ; he 

stated that his time was wholly taken up with the neces- 
sary arrangements for removing to Iceland with his family, 
and with many important affairs which were still unattend- 
ed to ; regretting that it would be in his power to bestow 
so little of it upon me, and ended with the well-meant ad- 
vice to give up my projected journey, as the difficulties I 
should encounter in travelling through that country were 
almost insurmountable. But my resolution was not to be 
shaken, and he promised me a letter, in case I should reach 
Reikjavick before him. I then took leave, fully determined 
never to return to ask for it. Upon reflection, however, I 
changed my mind, and tried to excuse my unfriendly recep- 
tion by the press of important and perhaps annoying busi- 
ness ; I called for my letter at the end of two days, when 
it was handed to me by a female servant, as it would have 
been too great a piece of condescension forthe high dignitary, 
whom I could see very plainly in the next room, to deliver 
it himself. 


When I paid my visit to this worthy family at Reik 

javick, I was astonished to recognize in Mrs. Yon H 

one of the very ladies who had not done me the honor to 

offer me a chair in Copenhagen. Mr. Von H returned 

my call after five or six days, and invited me at the same 
time to accompany him on a ride to Vatne. I eagerly 
availed myself of his politeness and felt ashamed of having 
judged him so hastily ; his good wife however did not find 
her way to me till I had been four weeks in Reikjavick, 
although we were opposite neighbors ; as she did not ask 
me to come and see her again, of course I never went ; and 
thus our acquaintance came to a close forever. The minor 
functionaries all trod dutifully in the steps of their super- 
ior, and I did not receive any visits or invitations, although 
I frequently heard of the parties of pleasure, dinners, and 
evening entertainments which were going on in the place. 
If I had not known how to occupy myself more profitably, 
time would have hung very heavily upon my hands. It 
never seemed to occur to any of these ladies that I was a 
stranger, alone, and entirely debarred from all educated 
society. Of course, being no longer young, I felt I had no 
claims to the attentions of the gentlemen, and the privation 
did not cost me much regret. If the women were wanting 
in consideration, I could not expect to find it in the men. 

I pondered on the cause of this behavior, till I dis- 
covered its social spring in the selfishness, which is a strik- 
ing characteristic of the people. As soon as I arrived in 
Eeikjavick, diligent inquiries were made from all quarters, 
if I were rich, if I should entertain much company, and if 
there were any thing to be gained by waiting upon me. 
Persons of large fortune, or great naturalists, are the only tra- 
vellers who have a chance of being well received in Iceland. 
The last being generally sent by some of the European 


courts, are in the habit of making extensive collections of 
minerals, birds, &c. ; and they come well provided with 
presents, some of them very valuable, for the officials who 
lend them any assistance. They give balls and entertain- 
ments, buy every thing which is offered, and always travel 
in large companies, with a great deal of baggage, requiring 
a vast number of horses, which animals are not to be bor- 
rowed in Iceland ; they must always be bought. On such 
occasions every man in the island is a dealer in horses or 

The French frigate which pays a yearly visit to Iceland 
is the most welcome of all guests ; a great many break- 
fasts, dinners, evening parties, and even balls are given on 
board, and handsome presents are freely distributed, the 
Stiftsamtmann, alone, receiving six hundred florins every 
year from the French government, as a compensation for a 
few return civilities to the naval officers. But with me the 
case was entirely different ; I brought no presents, and gave 
no parties ; there was nothing to expect from me, and con- 
sequently every one drew back. 

I am decidedly of opinion, however, that there is no 
better method of judging our fellow-beings, than to step in 
among them in this unpretending manner, without holding 
out any prospect of reward for their attentions. On such 
occasions they are seen in their natural light, as they do 
not take the trouble to assume the mask of dissimulation, 
Painful discoveries will doubtless be the result of this 
course ; but the traveller who meets with the good and 
virtuous under such circumstances can feel sure that he is 
not deceived. And my readers will consider it pardonable 
if I make mention of every act of kindness which was paid 
to an unassuming stranger like myself, for I have no other 


means of testifying my gratitude to those worthy persons 
from whom they were received. 

Having so little intercourse with my neighbors at 
Reikjavick, I had ample leisure for my solitary walks, in 
which I noted with great accuracy every object which at- 
tracted my attention. This little town can hardly boast of 
five hundred inhabitants, and consists of a single broad 
street, where the isolated houses and cottages are scattered 

The dwellings of the rich are of wood, and built entirely 
on the ground-floor, with the exception of a single edifice, 
to which the high school now kept at Bassestadt is to be re- 
moved next year ; this has an upper story. The Stiftsamt- 
mann occupies a stone house, which was originally intended 
for a prison ; but crimes are of such rare occurrence in 
Iceland, that it was converted many years ago into a resi- 
dence for this officer of the crown. Another stone house 
can be seen from Reikjavick ; it is the seat of the bishop, 
which lies surrounded by meadows, near the sea, at Lau- 
garnes, about half a mile from the town. 

The church is barely large enough to hold a hundred 
or a hundred and fifty persons ; it is of stone, with a wood- 
en roof, under which is kept a library containing several 
thousand volumes. This church possesses a treasure which 
might well be envied by others of greater size and preten- 
sions ; a font by Thorwaldsen, whose parents were natives 
of Iceland ; and although born himself in Denmark, he 
seems to have been desirous to honor the land of his fore- 

Some of the houses in Reikjavick have gardens attached 
to them ; by which is to be understood a small spot, where, 
with incredible pains and expense, potatoes, parsley, spi- 


nach, salad, and several varieties of turnip are raised. Be- 
tween the beds are grass walks, about a foot wide, where a 
few wild flowers are sometimes made to grow. 

The natives of Iceland are of medium height and 
strength. Their hair is light, and not unfrequently of a 
reddish shade, and their eyes are blue. The men are 
generally ugly, the women rather less so, and among the 
young girls I occasionally saw quite a pleasing face. It 
is a very uncommon thing for either sex to attain the age 
of seventy or eighty years. The peasants have a great 
many children, but the proportion of those who live to grow 
up is very small ; of the numbers who are born to them few 
survive the first year ; which is not surprising when it is 
considered that the mothers do not nurse their infants, 
who are brought up on the most unwholesome kind of food. 
After their first year they seem to be strong and healthy, 
though their cheeks are apt to be of a singularly bright 
red, as if they were always covered with a rash. Whether 
this be owing to the effect of the keen air upon their tender 
skins, or in consequence of their wretched diet, I am not 
able to decide. 

In many places on the sea-coast, during the winter sea- 
son, when the storms prevent the fishermen from venturing 
out to sea for weeks at a time, they live almost exclusively 
on the dried heads of fish ; all the other parts of the animal 
having been salted and sold-, and the money devoted to pay- 
ing taxes and other debts ; among which those for snuff and 
brandy always make a very great figure. The frequent acci- 
dents in the fisheries will account in some measure for the 
diminishing population. Among the number of those who 
go forth with songs and merriment, fair skies, and a smooth 
sea, auguring good luck to their enterprise, how many are 
overtaken by the violent gusts and snow-storms, and swept 


down into the deep with their skiffs, without leaving a trace 
behind ! It is not usual for all the men of a family to go 
out in the same boat ; fathers and sons are generally sepa- 
rated, and thus if one boat is lost, the family is not bereft 
of its whole support at once. 

I found the habitations of the peasants in Reikjavick 
even smaller and more wretched than those at Havenfiord ; 
though this must have been owing to their own want of 
energy, for stone is everywhere to be found, and in this 
country each man is his own mason. The cows and sheep 
are wintered in a miserable kennel in the hut itself, or 
near it ; the horses are left out during the year round, and 
are obliged to provide for themselves. Their owners will 
sometimes shovel away the snow from a little patch of 
ground, to assist the poor animals in finding their way to 
the grass and moss underneath, after which they enlarge 
the places with their own feet. It is easy to imagine how 
much this life must harden them ; but it is really surpris- 
ing that they should survive the winters on such food, and 
keep their strength and powers of endurance through the 
spring and summer months. They will not touch oats when 
they are offered to them, and care very little for hay. 

Arriving in Iceland in the early spring I found the 
sheep and horses still in their winter clothing ; the latter 
were covered with a thick woolly coat, and their tails and 
manes were of unusual length and fulness ; these are 
thinned about the end of May or the beginning of June, 
when the winter wool falls off of itself, and the animals pre- 
sent a tolerably smooth appearance for a few months. The 
sheep have also a very heavy coat in winter. It is not 
customary to shear them, but in June the wool is plucked 
from their bodies by handfuls, and when this is done in 
rather an irregular manner, as is sometimes the case, they 


look very oddly ; one side, for instance, being nearly bare, 
while the other still carries its full weight of wool. 

The cows and horses are certainly smaller than ours, 
though a race of animals is found among the peasants of 
Gallicia quite as dwarfish as those of the Icelanders. The 
cows of this island are remarkable for the small size of their 
horns. The sheep are also rather more diminutive than 
our own. 

Every peasant owns several horses; the expense of 
keeping them is next to nothing, and in a country where 
the distances are so great, the roads so bad, and rivers, 
bogs, and moors abound, men, women and children must 
necessarily ride. There is not a carriage of any descrip- 
tion on the island, where the use of such a vehicle is as 
little known as it is in Syria. 

The immediate environs of Reikjavick are tolerably 
pleasant. Some of the inhabitants have spared no pains 
to collect the stone and blast the rodks around their dwell- 
ings, and by mixing the thin soil with turf, manure and 
ashes, a small spot of fruitful ground is obtained. But it 
is an enterprise of such a gigantic nature, that it excites 
little wonder to find the cultivation of this sterile region so 
generally neglected. Mr. Bernhoft took me to see a small 
meadow, which he has leased for twenty years at an annual 
rent of thirty kreuzers, to convert it into pasture land, 
which only supplies the winter fodder for a single cow ; he 
has expended upon it more than a hundred and fifty florins, 
without taking his own toil and fatigue into the account. 
The wages for labor are very high here ; no man will work 
for less than thirty or forty kreuzers* a day, and at the hay 
harvest they expect a florin. \ 

* Thirty kreuzers are twenty-four cents, and forty kreuzers thirty- 
two cents. Tr. f Forty-eight cents. Tr. 


The soil around this little town is all rock, turf or bog ; 
but the marshy spots contain so many hard stepping places, 
formed by hundreds of elevations of greater or less extent, 
that it is easy, by springing from one to the other, to cross 
the whole morass without the least danger, not even that 
of wetting one's feet. 

Nevertheless, I got into quite a serious difficulty by 
being over confident in one of my solitary rambles among 
these bogs. While I was walking along very comfortably, 
a little butterfly suddenly flew by me, and as it was the 
first I had seen in the country, my anxiety to capture it 
was proportionably great ; I forgot the danger, and fol- 
lowed it, not remarking, in the excitement of the chase, 
that the hard spots were getting more and more rare, and 
farther apart, tilll found myself at last in the middle of the 
swamp, where I could neither advance nor retreat. Not a 
living creature was to be seen, and the very animals were 
at a distance, which ought to have warned me of the risk 
I was running. There was nothing to be done but to make 
a bold spring for the nearest firm resting-place, which I 
found it impossible to reach without taking two or three 
steps in the soft earth ; there I paused in triumph for a 
few minutes, and then looked round for another ; as long 
as I could see the traces of a horse's hoof I was quite easy ; 
but when even these disappeared a feeling of desolation 
came over me. However, I was resolved to extricate my- 
self from my perilous situation at all hazards, though I 
must confess that when I found the soft turf yielding be- 
neath my feet, I could not defend myself from a sensation 
of terror. But I soon observed that I did not sink above 
my ankles, and gaining courage as I advanced, I succeeded 
at last in escaping from the bog, thoroughly frightened, 
but without suffering any other inconvenience than that of 
getting my feet very wet. 


The most laborious among the salaried offices in this 
country are those of the physicians and the clergy. Their 
circuits are very extensive, particularly the physicians, who 
are often sent for from a distance of twenty or thirty Ger- 
man miles. And when it is taken into consideration how 
often they are exposed to the fearful tempests of an Iceland 
winter, which lasts six or eight months of the year, it must 
be confessed that their lot is not an enviable one, and it is 
only wonderful that any one should be willing to accept the 

When the doctor is called for in winter, the country 
people present themselves with shovels and pickaxes to 
clear the road before him, and always come provided with 
several horses, as he is frequently obliged to change from 
one exhausted animal to another, during his long rides 
through the fog and darkness, the snow-drifts and storms ; 
life and death often hanging on his speed the while. Some- 
times he returns to his own fire-side quite worn out with 
the cold and exposure, and has barely time to recruit from 
his fatigues before another summons arrives, and he must 
tear himself again from his family to face new dangers, be- 
fore he has had time to relate the perils of his former ex- 
pedition. When he is sent for by sea the risk is still 
greater on that stormy element. 

The salary of the physicians is by no means in propor- 
tion to their services, but that of the priests is still less so. 
Some of the benefices are only worth from two to eight florins 
a year,* and the richest of them does not produce more than 
two hundred florins, f The government provides a house 

* Two florins are ninety-six cents, and eight florins three dollars 
and eighty-four cents. Tr. 
\ Ninety-six dollars. TV. 


for the priests, often no better than a peasant's hut, a small 
pasture-ground, and a few heads of cattle ; and they are 
also entitled to a share of the hay, sheep's wool, fish, &c., of 
their parishioners. But most of the clergy are so poor 
that they and their families are dressed in the usual garb 
of the peasantry, from which it is difficult to distinguish 
them. The wife attends to the cattle, and milks the cows and 
sheep, assisted by her maid, while the priest goes into the 
field and mows with the aid of his man. His whole inter- 
course is naturally confined to the poorer classes, and there- 
in consists that patriarchal simplicity of life and manners 
which has been lauded by so many travellers. I should 
like to know if any of them would be willing to try it ? 

Besides all his other labors, the same priest has often 
three or four districts under his charge, which are some- 
times at a distance of several miles from his residence. He 
is expected to visit them all in turn, so as to hold divine 
service in each district once in every few weeks. The 
priest, however, is not compelled to brave all weathers like 
the physician, and whenever Sunday proves a very stormy 
day he dispenses with his visitations, as it would be impos- 
sible for his scattered congregations to assemble. 

The post of Sysselmann (answering to our bailiff of a 
circle), is the most desirable of all, for this officer has a good 
salary and very little to do ; in many places he has a right 
to all the waifs, which is a privilege of some importance 
on account of the wood drifted from the American con- 

The fisheries and the chase are free, with the exception 
of the salmon fisheries in the rivers, which are reserved for 
the crown, who leases them ; it" is forbidden by law to shoot 
the eider-ducks, and the offence is punishable by a fine. 
There is no military duty. Soldiers are not needed in any 


part of Iceland, and in Reikjavick, its capital, there are but 
two constables to be found. 

Trade is also free ; but the Icelanders possess so little 
of the spirit of speculation, that even if they had the means 
they would never embark in any commercial enterprise. 
The whole trade of the island lies in the hands of the 
Danish merchants, who send their ships to Iceland every year, 
and the imported goods are retailed at their factories in the 
different harbors. These ships bring every thing to the 
Icelanders; corn, wood,. wines, colonial and manufactured 
articles. There are no duties, as the insignificant commerce 
of this island would not repay the government for main- 
taining the necessary officers to collect the customs. Arti- 
cles from the colonies, such as wines, are much cheaper, in 
consequence, than they can be obtained elsewhere. The 
return freight consists of fish, particularly codfish, roe, tal- 
low, train-oil, eider down, or the plumage of other birds 
nearly approaching that of the eider-fowl in quality, sheep's 
wool, and salted or smoked lamb. These are absolutely 
the only exports which Iceland can produce. When Mr. 
Knudson wished to erect a bakery,* about thirteen years 
ago, he was obliged to send to Copenhagen, not only for a 
mason, but for all the necessary building materials, such as 
stone and lime, for although the whole island is covered 
with stone, none of it could be used in the construction of 
an oven, or to burn lime, as it is all lava. 

Every little cluster of two or three huts is called a 
village ; the solitary cottages, as well as these villages, are 
generally built on rising ground, and surrounded by mea- 
dows which are inclosed in a wall of stone or earth to 

* This bakery is the only one in the island, and no better bread 
or biscuit can be found in Denmark than is made here. 


prevent the incursions of the cattle. The grass is cut for 
hay and kept to fodder the cows in winter. 

I heard few complaints of the extreme cold ; it does 
not often reach 20 (Reaumur)* and the sea is rarely frozen 
more than a few feet from the shore. But the storms and 
snow-drifts, on the other hand, are said to be really fearful, 
and it is often impossible to step a foot from the door. 
Daylight does not last more than five or six hours, and the 
northern lights, which are uncommonly brilliant here, are 
the only compensation the poor Icelanders enjoy for their 
long night. This summer was one of the finest which had 
been known here for years. During the month of June 
the thermometer was several times at 20 of heatf at noon. 
This weather was very oppressive to the inhabitants, who 
considered it impossible to labor, or walk any distance 
during the day. On such occasions they did not begin to 
make hay till late in the evening, and worked half the 
night. The variations in the temperature are very trying. 
One day we had 20 of heat, the next it rained and the 
thermometer fell to 5,J and on the fifth of June it showed 
1 of cold. It is remarkable that thunder-storms, which 
are said to be very common here during the winter season, 
never occur in summer. 

From the sixteenth or eighteenth of June, till the end 
of the month, there is no night. The sun disappears for a 
short time behind the hills, but twilight and dawn are 
blended together, and the last rays of evening have not 
faded from the sky befojre the morning light breaks forth 
with renewed brilliancy. I was in Iceland from the 15th 
of May till the 29th of July, and although I never went to 

* 13 below zero of Fahrenheit. Tr. 
f 77 Fahrenheit, TV. $ 43i Fahrenheit. TV. 

29f Fahrenheit. TV. 


bed before eleven o'clock, I did not once require the light of 
a candle. In May, as well as towards the end of July, the 
twilight lasted about two hours, but it was never dark. 
Even at the time of my departure I could see to read till 
half-past eleven. At first it seemed very strange to go to 
bed at broad day-light ; but I soon got used to it, and no 
sunshine was bright enough to keep me awake after eleven 
o'clock. It often struck me as very ridiculous, however, to 
go out for an evening stroll, about ten. and find myself in 
the full light of day, instead of the soft glimmering of the 
moon and stars. 

I wish I could have accustomed myself to the peculiar 
fare of Iceland as easily as to the long days. The wife of 
my friend the baker was an excellent cook, after the 
fashion of her country ; but unfortunately it was a style 
entirely different from any I had ever tried before ; and the 
only thing she set before me which I could really enjoy 
was her delightful coffee and cream in the morning, with 
which the greatest epicure could not have found a fault. 
I have not seen such coifee since I left Iceland, and I 
should have been glad if some of the good house-keepers in 
Vienna could have tasted it with me. The cream was so 
thick that I thought at first it must be sour. The butter 
churned from the milk of the Iceland cows and sheep, is 
not quite so tempting ; it is as white as lard, though it is 
generally sweet and good. The common people, not finding 
the flavor sufficiently piquant for their palate, are very apt 
to mix it with train-oil, which forms an essential article in 
Iceland cookery ; it is considered a great luxury by the 
peasants, and is often eaten in large quantities alone. 

The dinners were by no means to my taste ; they always 
consisted of two dishes, boiled codfish, or haddock, dressed 
with vinegar and melted butter, in the place of oil, and 


potatoes. It is my misfortune not to be fond of fish, and 
there was nothing else for me to eat here. In vain I 
sighed for a good soup, -a morsel of meat, or some vegeta- 
bles. It was only in imagination that I could feast on the 
commonest dishes of my native land. 

In course of time, however, I became more resigned to 
the fish and potatoes ; but the sweet dishes I never could 
endure. My excellent Mrs. Bernh&ft, who meant nothing 
but kindness by me, was certainly not to blame if her taste 
differed so widely from mine ; but her desserts ! whether 
they consisted of hashed fish, hard-boiled eggs and potatoes? 
with a thick brown sauce thrown over them, sweet, sour, and 
peppered, at once, or of potatoes roasted in sugar and but- 
ter, or cabbage chopped fine, diluted with water, sweetened 
and served with a piece of very strongly flavored dried 
lamb, they we're all equally intolerable to me. 

On Sundays we sometimes had red grits, another Scan- 
dinavian dish, made of sago, cooked to a jelly in wine or 
currant juice, and eaten with sugar and cream. A species 
of curds, or soft cheese, is also eaten with cream and sugar. 

The table improved a little during the months of June 
and July, when we had abundance of excellent salmon, an 
occasional piece of roast lamb, and once in a while a bird ; 
the snipe are particularly fine. For supper we had butter ? 
cheese, cold fish, smoked lamb, or eggs of the eider-duck, 
which are rather less delicate than common hen's eggs, 
and after a while, as I found this mode of living agreed 
with me perfectly well, I became quite reconciled to it. I 
drank nothing but pure, fresh water ; the men take a small 
glass of brandy when they begin their meals, but beer is 
the universal drink, and that brewed by Mr. Bernhoft him- 
self is excellent. A bottle of Bordeaux or Port was often 
put on the table on Sundays. All the inhabitants of the 


place who are in easy circumstances lived precisely as we 

While I was at Reikjavick, I witnessed a great solemnity 
in the church, on which occasion three candidates were ad- 
mitted to the priesthood. Although the Lutheran religion 
is universally established here, I believe the ritual varies a 
little from that in use on the European continent, and shall 
therefore describe the ceremonies which took place at the 
ordination. The services began at noon, and lasted till 
four o'clock. The men concealed their faces in their hats 
for a few moments when they entered the church, and the 
women in their handkerchiefs, and this practice was re- 
peated before they went out. Most of the congregation 
were seated with their faces towards the altar, but a few 
were turned away from it. The priests were dressed very 
much like our own, and a kind of mass was begun, which 
was not unlike ours as far as the first gospel. The bishop 
and his clergy then advanced to the altar, and performed 
several ceremonies which were new to me ; after which, one 
of the officiating priests entered the chancel, where he read 
a discourse and' sang a psalm, while the others remained 
seated in a listening attitude. A second then followed him 
to the chancel, and a third ; sermons were read and psalms 
chanted alternately, and finally a discourse was pronounced 
at the chancel, while a variety of ceremonies were going on 
at the altar. The robes were put on and off repeatedly, 
and loud amens were frequently pronounced. This was 
continued without intermission till four o'clock. The in- 
cessant changes of place and posture surprised me very 
much, as the usages of the Lutheran church are generally 
so simple and uniform. 

There were a sufficient number of country people present 
to afford me a very good opportunity of examining their 


costume. The females all wore long skirts of coarse, black 
woollen-stuff, with spencers and colored aprons. Their heads 
were covered with a man's cap of the same material as their 
petticoats, ending in a drooping point, to which was at- 
tached a tassel of silk or wool, falling as low as their sh'oul- 
ders. This simple head-dress is very becoming, as they all 
have an abundance of light hair hanging in a picturesque 
manner about their face and neck ; they wear it loose and 
short, and it is sometimes slightly curled. I could not 
help thinking of some of the poetical ravings about golden- 
haired angels, and I have no doubt our poets have drawn 
their inspiration in part from the ancient Skalds, though 
they may safely lay claim to the credit of having imagined 
the beautiful, languishing faces, which smiled from the 
midst of those lovely tresses. 

Very few ornaments are worn here. In this whole as- 
semblage, I only observed four women who were dressed 
with any more pretension than the rest ; the spencers and 
belts of these were worked with a silver wreath about two 
inches wide, and round the bottom of their petticoats, which 
were of fine black cloth, there was a colored silk border 
about as wide as the hand. On their necks they had a 
stiff, black velvet collar, several inches in width, worked 
with a silver wreath. Their head-dress was very peculiar 
and difficult to describe ; besides a black silk handkerchief 
bound around their heads, they had a covering, shaped like 
a half bow, fastened to the back of the head, and hanging 
loosely above their foreheads ; it was covered with white 
muslin laid in plaits, and might have been an inch and a 
half behind, spreading in front to the width of five or six 

The men appeared to be dressed very much like our 
peasants. They wore pantaloons, jackets, and vests of dark 

g i 

cloth, a felt hat or a fur cap, and instead of boots they had 
a piece of skin, either sheep, calf, or seal, cut in the shape 
of a shoe, and fastened to the foot by means of a strap. 
This kind of covering for the feet is also worn by the 
women, and even by the children of the rich. I did not 
see an individual in Iceland who had not good warm stock- 
ings and shoes ; and very few who were ragged or poorly 

The better classes merchants and government func- 
tionaries closely follow the French fashions in their 
dress. Silks and other expensive materials are by no 
means rare ; some being brought from England, but the 
greater part from Denmark. The king's birthday is cele- 
brated every year with great splendor by the Stiftsamt- 
mann, and the women have then an opportunity of appearing 
in their fine silks and the young girls in their white linens. 
The government house is brilliantly lighted up with wax 
candles on this occasion. 

Some speculative head has established a club-house 
here ; by which is to be understood a couple of rooms 
where the citizens assemble in the evening and regale them- 
selves with tea-water, bread and butter, and a glass of wine 
or a bowl of punch. In winter, these same rooms are used 
for the public assemblies, to which the admittance is twenty 
kreuzers.* All ranks meet there, and every thing is said 
to be on a very republican footing. The shoemaker invites 
the wife of the Stiftsamtmann to dance, and that great per- 
sonage himself leads out the wife or daughter of the shoe- 
maker and baker. The refreshments consist of tea and 
bread and butter, and the ball-room is lighted with tal- 
low candles. The worst .part of the entertainment is the 

* Sixteen cents. Tr. 


music, which is a peculiar kind of violin with three strings, 
and a fife. 

Riding parties are a common amusement in summer, 
and on these occasions there is no want of provisions ; each 
of the invited guests brings something, one providing the 
wine, one the coffee, another cake, and so on. The ladies 
ride on handsome English saddles, and wear becoming 
habits, with very neat men's hats and green veils. These 
entertainments, however, are entirely confined to Reikjavick, 
for out of this little town, as I have already mentioned, 
there is not a place which contains more than a few huts 
and two or three shops. 

To my great astonishment, I found six pianofortes in 
Reikjavick, and heard the waltzes of our favorite composers 
played, as well as variations by Herz, and even some by 
Listz, Wilmers and Thalberg ; but, I think it very doubt- 
ful if either of these gentlemen would have known his own 
compositions again. 

In conclusion, I must make a few observations on the 
manner of travelling in this country. The best season for 
a journey is from the middle of June to the end of August, 
at the latest ; before that period, the streams are still so 
much swollen by the melted snows that it is very dangerous 
to ford them ; and many patches of deep snow, still un- 
touched by the sun, and covering deep pits and heaps of 
lava, lie in the travellers way. Here the danger is equally 
great ; the horses sink in at every step, and there is reason 
to be thankful if the whole soft covering does not give way 
at once. On the other hand, the heavy storms and rains 
often begin again in September, and flurries of snow are to 
be expected at any time during that month. 

The traveller should carry his own provisions, and should 
have in addition a tent, a cooking apparatus, a pillow, some 


blankets and warm clothing, all of which are indispensable to 
his comfort. Most of these articles were too expensive in my 
case, and I was not provided with any of them ; but I was ex- 
posed, in consequence, to terrible privations and fatigues, and 
was often obliged to ride an incredible distance before I could 
reach a night's shelter in some little church or hut. I lived 
for eight or ten days at a time on bread and cheese alone, 
and slept on hard, benches or chests, where I was often un- 
able to close my eyes all night from the cold. 

To guard against the violent rains, it is desirable to 
have a water-proof cloak, and a glazed broad-brimmed hat, 
such as sailors wear ; an umbrella is perfectly useless, for 
the rains are generally accompanied by a great deal of 
wind, and as one is often obliged to ride at a very quick 
pace, it is easy to imagine that it is quite out of the ques- 
tion to hold one up. 

Upon the whole, I found the difficulties and discomforts 
of travelling in this country much greater than any I had 
encountered in the East. I suffered more from the violent 
tempests, the sharp air, the drenching rain, and the cold? 
than I had ever done from the heats of Palestine. The 
latter did not cause my face and lips to chap ; but on the 
fifth day of my journey here, my lips were bleeding, and 
iny face was all in scales, as if I had had "the measles. My 
long dresses were another great drawback to my comfort ; 
it was necessary to be warmly clad, and the weight of my 
clothes, often increased by the wet, made me at times quite 
helpless when I was to get on or oif my horse. But the 
greatest annoyance of all, was to stop to rest in a meadow 
during a violent shower, when my long skirts would soak 
up all the water from the wet grass ; and at such times I 
often had not a dry thread about me. 

Strangers appear to suffer equally from the heat and 


cold in this climate. I thought the cold was more pene- 
trating, and the heat more oppressive than I had ever felt 
either to be at the same temperature in my own country. 

The roads are wonderfully good in summer ; I generally 
rode over them very fast. They are not suitable for any 
conveyance on wheels, however, being too narrow, and in 
spots too rough. There is not a single carriage in the 
island. The most dangerous parts of the roads are in the 
morasses and in the lava fields, particularly when the lat- 
ter are covered with white moss, that often serves to con- 
ceal the fearful pits, into which the horses frequently tread 
unawares ; there are also many treacherous places in going 
up and down the hills. All trace of the road is sometimes 
lost in the swamps, and I was often amazed at the facility 
with which the guides would track it out ; they seemed, as 
well as their horses, to be endowed with a peculiar instinct 
on such occasions. 

Journeys in Iceland are more expensive than elesewhere, 
because, in the first place, the traveller is generally alone, 
and the whole cost of the guide, the baggage, the ferriage, 
&c.. falls on a single person. Every horse which is needed 
must be bought, as it is impossible to hire them ; they are 
cheap, however, the price of a pack-horse being from 
eighteen to twenty florins,* and a saddle-horse forty to 
fifty. The horses cannot carry a heavy weight, and there- 
fore those who wish to travel with any degree of comfort 
must have several pack-horses, as well as an additional 
groom to attend to them, as the guide will only undertake 
the charge of the saddle-horses and a couple of pack-horses at 
the most. If you wish to sell your horses at the end of a 

* From eight to twelve dollars for a pack-horse, and from nineteen 
to twenty-four for a saddle-hoi'se. Tr. 


journey, you must almost give them away, as no one will 
offer any but the lowest price for them, which proves that 
men know how to look after their own interests all over the 
world. The people are aware that the animals must be 
left behind, and therefore they are careful not to bid too 
high for them. I must confess that in this respect I found 
the character of the Icelanders far below my expectations, 
and still farther below the account of them I had read in 

The Iceland horses, notwithstanding their scanty fare, 
can endure a wonderful degree of fatigue ; they will accom- 
plish eight or ten miles* for several days in succession. 
But it is rather difficult to keep up their speed, owing to a 
bad trick they have of stopping, unless they receive frequent 
blows in the side ; their owners are in the habit of giving 
them an occasional kick there, and they are so used to it, 
they will hardly move without. They are very apt to 
stumble also, and it is necessary to hold a very tight rein 
at the dangerous places in the road. Both these qualities 
add a great deal to the fatigue of riding. 

There are certainly many difficulties to overcome in 
order to bring a journey in these distant regions to a happy 
end ; but I was not to be daunted, and in the midst of my 
greatest dangers and troubles, I did not repent for a mo- 
ment of my enterprise, and would not have abandoned it 
On any account. 

I made excursions to every part of Iceland, and am 
therefore able to afford my readers a description of its most 
interesting sites. I begin at once with the immediate 
neighborhood of Reikjavick. 

* From thirty-six to forty-five English miles. Tr. 


tn Unto, \\i skull nf 

Two (German) miles from Reikjavick. 

25th. Stiftsamtmann Yon H. was so kind as to 
call and invite me to attend a party of pleasure which was 
to take place this afternoon at the great lake of Yatne. I 
was only too happy to accept his invitation, as I expected, 
from his descriptions, to see a perfect Eden, besides enjoy- 
ing an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the better 
classes of society in this country, as well as of increasing 
my collection of plants, butterflies, and insects. I was also 
anxious to examine more closely into the peculiar qualifi- 
cations of the Iceland horses than I had been able to do on 
my ride from Havenfiord, when I was obliged to accommo- 
date my pace to that of my aged companion. 

The hour appointed for the excursion was two o'clock ; 
I, who am punctuality itself, was ready long before that 
hour, and should have hastened to the place of meeting pre- 
cisely at two, if my hostess had not assured me it was too 
early to think of going, as Mr. Yon H. was still at the din- 
ner table. In short, it was three o'clock before we were all 
assembled, and even then we waited on horseback a quarter 
of an hour before the procession was ready to move. Oh 
Syrian promptitude and punctuality ! In vain I called 
upon you in this opposite quarter of the globe. 

Our party included all the nobility and persons of rank 
in the place. Among the former were the Stiftsamtmann 
(or supreme governor of the island) and his wife. Councillor 


Von B., who had lately been sent from Copenhagen to at- 
tend the Althing, or political assembly, and a Danish baron, 
who had accompanied him. Among the gentry were the 
merchants' daughters, and the wife of the apothecary. A 
domestic closed the procession. 

Our road led through lava fields, morasses, and patches 
of scanty verdure, to a wide and desolate valley, traversed 
by a range of gentle eminences, and inclosed on three sides 
by several mountain ridges, rising to different heights in 
the most varied and striking forms. A few jokuls, or gla- 
ciers, raised their proud heads in the distance, and looked 
down scornfully on the hills at their feet ; and they might 
well boast of their superior grandeur at this season of the 
year, when not only their summits, but their sides as far 
down as the eye could see, were still glistening in the sil- 
very snows of winter. On the fourth side, the valley was 
open to the sea, mingling in the distance with the horizon ; 
and the coast was indented by a number of creeks and bays, 
which presented the appearance of so many lakes. 

The path was good, and we were generally able to ride at 
a quick pace, as we passed few spots where the sagacity of 
our animals was put to the proof. I had a good-tempered 
horse, which bore me in perfect safety over stones and 
clefts, but I shall not attempt to describe what I suffered 
from its gait. Riding is said to be a certain cure for the 
liver-complaint ; but I am quite certain that any one who 
should take a journey of four weeks on such a pony and an 
Iceland side-saddle, would have no liver left at all ; it would 
be shaken to a jelly by that time. 

All the rest of the company had good English saddles, 
and mine was the only one made in the country. It re- 
sembled a seat with a back ; I was obliged to sit square on 
the horse, without having any good hold ; and it was not 


without great difficulty that I trotted after the others, for 
my horse was not to be spurred on to a gallop by any means 
of persuasion. 

In half an hour we reached a valley, in the centre of 
which lay rather a pleasant meadow, with what might be 
considered in Iceland a very respectable farm-house,* near 
a little lake. I did not venture to ask if this were the 
celebrated Yatne. and the romantic prospect I had been 
led to expect, for my inquiry would have sounded rather 
too ironical ; and notwithstanding my astonishment when 

Mr. Von H insisted on all the charms of the scene, 

I enthusiastically agreed with him, and declared I had 
never seen a lovelier view or a larger lake. We halted at 
this spot, and while the rest of the party spread themselves 
over the meadow, and preparations were going on for our 
sociable meal, I employed the time by endeavoring to satisfy 
my spirit of inquiry. The farm-house first arrested my at- 
tention ; I found it to contain one large and two small cham- 
bers, a store-room, and extensive stables, by which I could 
form some idea of the proprietor's flocks. I was after- 
wards informed that he owned fifteen sheep, eight cows, and 
five horses, and was considered the most comfortable far- 
mer in the neighborhood. The kitchen was at the extreme 
end of the building ; its chimney seemed to be of no use 
excepting as a protection against the rain and snow, for 
the smoke was spread all over the room, drying the fish 
which hung from the ceiling and very slowly finding its 
way out of the air-hole. 

In the large apartment stood a wooden book-case con- 
taining nearly forty books. I turned them over and ascer- 
tained, in spite of my limited knowledge of the Danish 

* Something like a dwelling on a free farm with us. 


language, that they were mostly of a religious character, 
though their owner must also have possessed some taste for 
poetry, as I saw the names of Kleist and Miiller, and even 
Homer's Odyssey in his library. I could understand no- 
thing of the Iceland books, but when I made some inquiries 
on the subject, I was told that they were all religious works. 

After this survey in-doors I went to collect herbs and 
flowers in the field ; I found but few of the latter, but 
rather more of the first, including a few specimens of wild 
clover. I saw neither butterfly nor beetle ; but to my great 
surprise I heard the hum of two wild bees, and was so for- 
tunate as to secure one of them, which I took to the house 
and preserved in spirits. 

I now returned to my companions who were still gayly 
lingering around the table, which had been spread in the 
meanwhile with an abundant supply of bread and butter, 
cheese, cakes, roast lamb, raisins, almonds, wine, and a few 
oranges. There were no seats, for even the most thriving 
peasants never own any thing of the kind, excepting the 
benches which are nailed to the spot in their rooms ; we all 
sat on the turf, and helped ourselves to the excellent cofiee 
with which the meal began. There was a great deal of 
laughing and jesting ; and judging from the animation which 
prevailed, I might have imagined myself in a circle of 
lively Italians instead of a party of cold Northerners. 

A great many witticisms were made, and I had the mis- 
fortune to be the object which inspired most of them, for 
this reason : the conversation was carried on in Danish, and 
though some of the company spoke French or German, I 
was unwilling to interfere with their enjoyment by drawing 
their attention to myself, and I sat perfectly quiet, finding 
quite sufficient amusement in watching their merriment. 
But I soon discovered that this conduct was laid to my stu- 


pidity, and I understood enough of the conversation to hear 
myself compared to the marble guest in Don Juan. If they 
had suspected the true cause of my silence, I am sure my 
companions would at least have given me credit for my 
good intentions. 

During our repast I overheard an Iceland song from the 
farm-house. At a distance it sounded like the humming of 
bees, and on a nearer approach it was monotonous, drawling 
and melancholy. 

When we took our leave, the farmer and his wife, as 
well as his men, all offered us their hands, which is the 
customary salutation for such high personages as we were ; 
on ordinary occasions the usual greeting is a hearty kiss. 

When I returned home. I began to feel the effects of 
the strong coffee I had taken, and finding it impossible to 
sleep, I amused myself with making close observations on 
the length of the day and the duration of twilight. Com- 
mon print could be read with ease in my little room till 
eleven o'clock ; from eleven to one it was not so dark but I 
could have seen to read out of doors ; and every object in 
my room was distinctly visible, even the figures on my 
watch ; and at one I could read again in my own room. 


The little Island of Yidoe, about a mile from Reikja- 
vick, is generally mentioned by travellers as the principal 
resort of the eider-ducks. On the eighth of June I visited 
the place, and found myself greatly disappointed in the 
number of birds assembled there ; for although I saw many 
sitting quietly on their nests on the slopes of the meadows 
and between the rocks, so far from being in thousands, I 
doubt if there were in all more than a hundred, or a hun- 
dred and fifty nests. 


The tameness of the eider-ducks, while brooding, is very 
extraordinary. I had always looked upon the wonderful 
stories I had heard on this subject as fables, and should do 
so yet if I had not been an eye-witness to the fact myself. 
I approached and laid my hands on the birds while they 
were sitting ; yes, I could even caress them without their 
attempting to move from their nests ; or, if they left them 
for a moment, it was only to walk off for a few steps and 
remain quietly waiting till I withdrew, when they imme- 
diately returned to their station. Those whose young were 
already hatched, however, would beat their wings with vio- 
lence, and snap at me with their bills when I came near 
them, rather allowing themselves to be seized than to desert 
their broods. In size they resemble our common duck ; 
their eggs are of a greenish-gray, rather larger than hens' 
eggs, and of an excellent flavor. Each bird lays about 
eleven eggs. The finest down is that with which they line 
their nests at first ; it is of a dark gray, and is regularly 
carried off by the Icelanders with the first eggs. The poor 
bird then robs itself of a second portion of its down, and 
lays a few more eggs, which are also seized, and it is not 
till the nest has been filled for the third time, that the 
ducks are left unmolested to raise their young brood. The 
down of the second, and particularly that of the third 
hatching, is much lighter than the first, and of an inferior 
quality. I was so cruel as to appropriate some of the down 
and a few eggs myself. 

I had no opportunity of seeing the down and eggs col- 
lected from between the inaccessible rocks and cliffs, where 
they are only reached by the peasants by means of ropes, 
and at the peril of their lives ; as no such break-neck places 
happen to be found in the neighborhood of Reikjavick. 



June IQth. In company with Mr. Bernhoft and his 
daughter, I made a second excursion of half a mile to see 
the salmon-fishery at the Larselv (salmon stream), which 
takes place every year from the middle of June to the mid- 
dle of August. It is conducted in a very simple manner. 
After the fish have repaired to the stream at the spawning 
time, their way back to the sea is cut off by a wall of stones 
lightly piled together, about three feet high. A net is 
raised in front of this wall, and several other barriers of 
the same kind are erected at a distance of eighty to a hun- 
dred paces from each other, in order to prevent the fish 
who have slipped over one of them from escaping altogether. 
On the day when they are to be caught, the water is let off 
as much as ^possible, and the poor fish, feeling it diminish 
around them, dart about in great confusion, pressing in 
throngs against the wall, where they often bruise and injure 
themselves on the stones ; the water is deepest at this spot, 
and it is soon so crowded with salmon, that the fishermen 
who are already stationed there can catch them with ease 
in their hands. 

The salmon are gifted with an extraordinary animation, 
and an equal degree of strength and swiftness. The fisher- 
men seize them nimbly by the head and tail, and throw 
them immediately on the shore, where they are caught up 
by others and cast still further from the stream ; without 
these precautions, and with the least delay, many of them 
would make their escape. It is wonderful how they will 
turn round in the hands of their captors and spring into the 
air. The fishermen are provided with woollen mittens, 
otherwise they could not keep their hold of the slippery 


animals at all. From five hundred to a thousand fish are 
generally taken at a time, each one weighing from five to 
fifteen pounds. On the occasion when I was present, eight 
hundred were caught. This fishery is rented by a merchant 
in Reikjavick. 

The fishermen receive one half the salmon as a reward 
for th'eir services, and yet they are often dissatisfied with 
this large proportion, and so little thankful that their work 
is rarely thoroughly performed. For instance, the mer- 
chant's share was brought as far as the harbor of Reik- 
javick, but the fishermen were altogether too lazy to carry 
it from the boats to his warehouse, which was certainly not 
more than sixty or seventy paces farther, and sent word to 
their employer that some one else must attend to that part 
of the business as they were already too tired to do so. Of 
course remonstrances are of no avail on such occasions. 

It is the fashion in Iceland, as well as all over the 
world, to improve every such opportunity for a feast or 
some kind of an entertainment. It was a beautiful sum- 
mer's day when we attended the salmon-fishery, and the 
merchants of Reikjavick immediately determined that it 
should be celebrated by a great dejeuner a la fourchette. 
Each one contributed something towards the meal, and the re- 
sult was an elegant, plentiful breakfast, conducted exactly 
as it would have been at home, with the single exception, 
that for the want of tables and benches our repast was 
spread on the ground. 

Our sliced bread and butter, with cold lamb or cheese 
between, was prepared at the house before we set off, in a 
manner that was new to me ; the slices were covered with 
the lamb and cheese, and laid two by two in piles ; when 
packed in this manner, they can be carried anywhere un- 


My third excursion was a still shorter one, to a hot 
spring only a third of a mile from Reikjavick, which is 
slightly impregnated with sulphur, and empties itself into a 
cold stream, by which happy union every variety of tem- 
perature is produced, from the boiling point to the greatest 
degree of 'cold. The inhabitants of the town avail them- 
selves of this fortunate coincidence for the double purpose 
of washing and bathing, more particularly the former ; and 
for the accommodation of those who wash at this spot, a 
wooden hut has been built here as a protection from the 
wind and rain. In former times, the hut had a good door 
and glass windows, and the key, which was kept at a speci- 
fied place in the town, could be had by any one who would 
take the trouble to go for it. But this was far too great 
an exertion for the servants and peasant women who wash 
at the spring ; the doors and windows were soon broken in, 
and nothing now remains but the ruins of the hut, which 
can afford in its present state but very little shelter against 
the weather. Human nature is very much alike every 
where, and men are apt to be good only when no impedi- 
ment stands in their way ; and even then half the merit is 
due to the circumstances, and not to themselves. 

Fish and potatoes are often cooked by the poor people 
in this spring. It is only necessary to lay them in the 
boiling water, when they are done at once. The spring is 
very little used for bathing ; a few children are sometimes 
brought for that purpose, and once in a while a peasant will 
take a bath. As a medicine the waters are not known at all. 


On the 4th of June, the day fixed for my departure, our 
>tore of bread, cheese, coffee, and sugar, being carefully 


packed, we were in the saddle and on our way by seven 
o'clock. I was alone with my guide, who, like most of his 
class in Iceland, was by no means an agreeable companion. 
He was very lazy, very covetous, and much less inclined to 
trouble himself about me and my horse, than to indulge his 
own fondness for brandy, which can unhappily be procured 
all over the country. 

The scenery between Reikjavick and Havenfiord was 
already familiar to me, but I found it had somewhat im- 
proved with the advancing season ; strawberry plants, 
though without blossoms, had sprung up between the blocks 
of lava, as well as scentless blue violets, and handsome 
ferns, sometimes eight or ten inches in height. The vege- 
tation was more forward here than at Reikjavick, notwith- 
standing the short distance, for I had seen no strawberry 
plants or violets near that place. I believe the difference 
may be owing to the mighty lava walls, so abundant around 
Havenfiord, which afford a protection to the tender plants 
and herbs against the rough winds ; as I observed that they 
flourished best in the little clefts sheltered by the huge 
masses of rock. 

About a mile beyond Havenfiord I saw, for the first 
time, some birches, which were not more than two feet, or 
two feet and a half high, however ; I also remarked some 
whortleberry bushes, and a number of little butterflies, all 
of the same size, and apparently of the same species, were 
fluttering around the plants and shrubs. The manifold 
shapes and figures into which the lava was thrown, con- 
stantly struck me with renewed astonishment ; and short as 
this journey was, for I reached Krisuvick with ease in ten 
hours, I found the scenery indescribably beautiful, and 
could never tire of gazing and admiring, as I slowly rode 
along, unmindful of the rain and cold, suffering my horse 


to pick his way at his own pace, and frequently losing sight 
of my guide altogether in consequence. One of the most 
remarkable currents of lava lay in a wide and long valley ? 
where it appeared as if by enchantment, covering the whole 
centre with a broad stream half a mile in length ; as there 
was no mountain in the neighborhood from whence it could 
possibly have flowed, it must have concealed some immeas- 
urable crater ; the stream did not merely consist of isolated 
blocks, and stones, but of large masses of porous rock, ten 
or twelve feet high, frequently riven in places a foot wide. 

In another valley of still greater dimensions, being 
several miles in circumference, I saw a wavy stream, which 
could only be compared to a sea of stone ; from its centre 
arose a high black hill, presenting a fine contrast to the 
light gray masses around it ; and here I concluded, of 
course, that the lava had originated. But upon examina- 
tion, I found that it was smooth and clean on all its sides, 
and its summit, in the shape of a sugar-loaf, was completely 
closed, as was also the case with the other mountains about 
this valley, so that I looked in vain for any trace of a 

We next came to a little lake, and soon afterwards to a 
larger one named Kleinfarvatne ; both were shut in by 
high hills, which often rose so abruptly from the water's 
edge as to allow no foothold for the horses on their shores. 
We were obliged to climb several heights over fearful roads, 
and the descent, or the winding paths along the declivities, 
were equally perilous ; in some places, the only safe way to 
proceed was to get ofl 7 our horses and crawl through the 
crevices on our hands and knees ; in short, these passes, 
which were sometimes half a mile (German) in length, were 
quite as bad as any in Syria, indeed they were occasionally 
worefc. I was assured, however, that in all my travels 


through Iceland I should not find any other road so danger- 
ous as this one ; which proved to be true ; and even here 
the path was good, excepting in a few of the places described 

At the end of six miles we entered at last a pleasant 
valley, where I soon perceived the numerous columns of 
smoke of various sizes, rising from the sulphur-springs and 
hills. Krisuvick was still at a distance of half a mile, and 
several small lakes lay between us and our place of desti- 
nation, which I was very impatient to reach. It was even- 
ing when we arrived there, and although I had eaten 
nothing all day but a little bread and cheese, I could not 
wait till my coffee was ready, but jumping from my horse, 
I immediately turned 'my steps, with my guide, towards the 
smoking hills. 

Our road led at first through marshes and meadow 
lands ; but we soon reached the hills, where the soft and 
yielding soil made the ascent very laborious. A deep im- 
pression was made by every footprint ; and it was necessary 
to be very careful not to break through entirely, which 
would have been by no means agreeable in this region of 
boiling springs. At last we arrived at the summit, where 
I saw a number of basins filled with the bubbling waters, 
and many columns of vapor rising from countless fissures in 
the hills and the plain ; from one of which in particular, a 
mighty pillar of steam was seen to ascend. I could ap- 
proach very near to these spots by keeping on the side of 
the wind ; the ground was lukewarm in a few places, and I 
could hold my hand for several minutes at a time over the 
cracks from whence the vapor escaped. There was no 
crater to be seen. The roaring and hissing of the steam, 
and the violence of the wind together, made such a deafen- 
ing noise that I was glad to escape from the place and feel 


a safer soil beneath my feet. The whole mountain seemed 
to be boiling and seething. 

There was a fine view from this height, which overlooked 
several valleys and ranges of lulls, and far in the distance I 
could distinguish the isolated black peak in the midst of 
the sea of lava through which I had ridden six hours 

The tumult of sounds ceased as I descended into the 
plain, where I also found much that was interesting ; one 
of the basins was filled with boiling mud, which resembled 
nothing so much as fine clay of a light gray color, mixed 
with water. A column of steam burst forth with so much 
violence from another basin, not more than two feet in 
diameter, lying among the hills in one corner of the valley, 
that I sprang back in alarm as I approached it, expecting 
at every moment to see the earth split open at my feet. 
Several hot springs were bubbling around, but I saw no jet 
of water, and was assured by my conductor that such a 
thing had never been known here. 

These spots are far more dangerous than any on the 
hills ; in spite of the utmost caution we often sank in to 
our ankles and drew back our feet in affright, covered with 
the damp exhalations which immediately streamed from the 
opening, from whence steam or boiling water also escaped. 
I allowed my guide to feel his way in front of me with a 
stick, but notwithstanding his precautions, he went through 
in one place half way to his knee, though he was so used to 
the danger that he made very light of it, and stopped quite 
phlegmatically at the next spring to rid himself of the 
mud, while I followed his example, being also covered with 
it above my ankles. It would be very desirable to be pro- 
vided with boards five or six feet long, on such occasions 
to lay over the most dangerous places. 


It was still broad daylight when I returned to Krisu- 
vick at nine in the evening. I now allowed myself to look 
about the little village more attentively, and found that it 
only contained a small church and a few wretched hovels, 
into one of which I crawled ; but the light being admitted 
by a single narrow aperture, all was so dark within that it 
was some time before I could distinguish any thing around 
me. "When I was able to see, my eyes fell upon several of 
those most miserable objects so common in Iceland, victims 
of a complaint resembling leprosy ; their heads and hands 
were covered with the eruption, which is always fatal when 
it spreads over the whole body, when the sufferer gradually 
and hopelessly wastes away from its effects. 

The churches in this country are not merely reserved 
for religious purposes ; they are also used to store away 
the provisions, tools, and clothing ; and are generally ap- 
propriated as night-quarters for the traveller. I doubt if 
so great a desecration of a sacred building would be per- 
mitted even among the most uncivilized nations. It is 
true that I was assured the practice was about to be for- 
bidden ; but it ought never to have been allowed, and I 
am by no means certain that it will be discontinued in 
future, for wherever I went the church was always at my 
service at night, and I was sure to find it half full of fish, 
tallow, and every other ill-savored thing. 

The church at Krisuvick is twenty-two feet long, and 
ten feet wide ; and it was very far from being in a condi- 
tion to accommodate me on my arrival ; but saddles, stock- 
ings, dresses, hats, and implements of every description 
were hastily thrown into a corner; blankets were pro- 
duced, with two or three beautiful soft pillows, and my bed 
was made on the chest which contained the priestly gar- 
ments and altar cloths. 


When this was done, I would gladly have shut my- 
self in to prepare my evening meal, and write a few 
lines in my journal before I lay down to rest ; but 
such a thing was not to be thought of; all the inhabit 
ants of the place came in a body to look at me, and I 
was soon surrounded by young and old, who streamed into 
the church and hemmed me in on all sides. Unpleasant 
as was their staring, I was obliged to submit to it, for 
it would have been impossible to drive away the crowd 
without giving great offence ; I therefore unpacked my 
little valise and prepared to boil my coffee in public. Upon 
this my spectators all put their heads together and seemed 
lost in astonishment when I lighted the spirits of wine, fol- 
lowing my every movement with their eyes. My frugal 
supper ended, I found their perseverance had not flagged 
in the least, and being determined to put it to the proof, I 
took out my journal and began to write...- For a few mo- 
ments they watched me in silence, when they all suddenly 
exclaimed : " She is writing, she is writing !" But still 
they made no sign towards leaving me, and remained per- 
fectly motionless, every eye fixed upon me for a full hour ; 
yes, I believe I might be sitting there still, without having 
been able to write them out of my presence, if it had not 
been too much to endure at last, and I managed to dis- 
miss my audience by giving them to understand that I 
wished to go to sleep. 

My night's rest was not very refreshing, for besides 
that there is something rather dismal in the idea of finding 
one's self entirely alone in a church, in the midst of a bury- 
ing-ground, at midnight ; there also arose a terrific storm 
about that hour, which shook the wooden walls around me, 
till they creaked as if they were about to be torn from 
their fastenings. The cold, too, was enough to keep me 


awake ; the thermometer only showing 2 of heat* inside 
of the church. In short, I was heartily thankful when it 
was morning, and the hour had arrived for continuing my 

June 5th. Earlier than seven o'clock it is a moral im- 
possibility to start a drowsy, indolent, Iceland guide ; the 
hour of departure, however, is of less consequence here than 
elsewhere, as it is never dark at this season of the year. 

On my return to Reikjavick. I took the road by Grrun- 
divick and Keblevick, in spite of the lengthened distance, 
because I wished to become acquainted with the most 
dreary of the habitable regions in the island. 

The ride to Grundivick (three miles) was entirely 
through fields of lava, formed by little blocks and rolling 
waves which choked up the whole plain, where there was 
not a single green spot to be seen. I observed here a new 
variety of lava-streams, the effect of which was remarkably 
fine. They were composed of black masses eight or ten feet 
high, whose bases were covered with whitish moss, which sur- 
rounded them in thick circles, while the bare summits were 
broken into numberless sharp points, presenting the most 
fanciful and varied outline. The whole stream had that 
glossy, vitrified appearance, characterizing those which date 
from a late period. 

Grundivick is a small green patch, lying like an oasis 
in the midst of this waste of cinders ; and here my guide 
was anxious to tarry, for he maintained that there was no 
place between this and Keblevick, where I could find a 
night's lodging, and to ride the whole distance would be too 
much for our horses, already over-fatigued by the bad roads 

* 36i Fahrenheit. TV. 


of yesterday. His real object, however, was to prolong 
our journey a day. 

Fortunately, I carried an excellent map with me, by 
means of which I could judge of the distances with toler 
able accuracy ; and I always made it a point to inquire where 
the best stopping-places would be before I set off on a 
tour. I insisted, therefore, on the present occasion upon 
going forward, and we were soon on our way through the 
lava-fields for Stad, a little hamle^ ajout three hours from 
Grundivick ; passing a very remarkable mountain as we 
rode along, which was exactly the color of iron, smooth and 
almost shining on all its sides, and only streaked in spots 
with a shade of yellowish brown, resembling ochre. 

Stad is the residence of a priest ; and notwithstanding 
the assertions of my guide, I found it a much prettier and 
more attractive place than Grundivick. While our horses 
were resting, I received a visit from the priest, who con- 
ducted me, not as I had expected, to his own house, but to 
the church, where, stools and chairs having been provided, 
he introduced me to his wife and children, and regaled me 
with coffee, butter, cheese, &c. The wardrobe of himself 
and family was thrown across the chancel-rails, and was in 
no ways to be distinguished from that of the surrounding 
peasantry. My new acquaintance proved to be a very well- 
informed and well-read man, and as I had now made suffi- 
cient progress in the Danish language to be able to carry 
on a conversation with tolerable ease, we talked on a great 
many subjects ; when he learnt that I had been in Pales- 
tine, he made a multitude of questions, from which I 
gathered that he was quite familiar with the geography, 
the natural history, and customs of that country. He ac- 
companied me for two hours on my way, and we chatted 
very pleasantly as we rode along. 


The distance from Krisuvick to Keblevick is about nine 
miles (German), and the whole road lies through a barren 
country, and wide, uncultivated plains, often five or six 
miles in circumference, without a sign of vegetation upon 
them, and covered through their whole extent by currents 
of lava a gloomy picture of volcanic revolutions ! And 
I only saw here, where so many traces of fire abounded, a 
single mountain whose top was sunken in, and might once 
have been a crater. The others all ended in a handsome 
cone, a sharp point, or formed long and narrow ridges. 

Who can tell from whence these desolating streams have 
flowed, and how long they have lain in stony masses upon 
the plain ! 

Keblevick lies on the sea-shore, but its harbor is un- 
safe, and little used. The ships which visit the place re- 
main as short a time as possible, and more than two or 
three are never seen here at once. A few wooden houses, 
two of which are owned by Mr. Knudson, and an equal 
number of huts, compose the whole of the little hamlet. I 
met with a kind reception from Mr. Siverson, the factor of 
Mr. Knudson, and found myself very comfortably enter- 
tained after all my fatigues. 

On the next day, June 6th, I had a long ride of at least 
eight miles* to Reikjavick, the greater part of the distance 
being through fields of lava. The whole region between 
Grundivick and Havenfiord goes by the name of the Lava 
Fields of Reikanes. 

Tired and stiff, I arrived in the evening at Reikjavick, 
with hardly a wish but to go at once to my rest. I had 
ridden twenty-five milesf in the last three days, and had 

* Thirty-six English miles. Tr. 

f A hundred and twelve and a half English miles. Tn 


endured a great deal from the cold, the rain, and the wind 
To my surprise I had found the roads generally very good, 
though in some places they had been difficult and laborious 
to the highest degree. 

But all these troubles and hardships were forgotten 
after the first good night's rest, whereas the magnificent 
scenes I had beheld remained indelibly impressed upon my 
mind, never, I trust, to be effaced frQm my recollection 
while I live ! 

From Reikjavick to Krisuvick, 8 miles.* 
From Krisuvick to Keblevick, 8 "f 
From Keblevick to Reikjavick, 81 "J 

to Erikhnlt (Erikinhl) nni tte Cte nf 

The weather continuing favorable, I determined to ac- 
complish the rest of my tour without loss of time. The 
distance was nearly a hundred and thirty German miles, 
and it became necessary to provide myself with another 
horse as a relay, partly on account of the supplies I was 
obliged to take with me, consisting of rye-bread, cheese, 
coffee, sugar, and a pillow, but principally for the sake of 
changing daily from one animal to the other, as a single 
horse would not be equal to the fatigue of such a journey. 

My former guide was not able to accompany me on this 

* Thirty -six English miles. Tr. 
\ Thirty -eight and a quarter English miles. Tr. 
\ Thirty-seven and a half English miles. Tr. 
Five hundred and twenty English miles. Tr. 


occasion, being unacquainted with most of the road, but my 
kind friends, Mr. Knudson and Mr. Bernholt, were so oblig- 
ing as to look up another for me ; which was no slight un- 
dertaking, as it is not easy to find a sober man, possessing 
the requisite qualifications, who is master of the Danish 
language. At last a suitable peasant was selected, who 
was willing to escort me for two florins, C. M.,* and a 
zwanzigerf a day, it being also part of the bargain that he 
should have a second horse at his command to change from 
day to day, as well as myself. 

On the 16th of June we were to begin our journey. 
My new conductor did not show himself in the best light 
from the very first hour of our acquaintance. His saddle 
had to be patched together on the morning of our depart- 
ure, and he made his appearance with one horse instead of 
the two he had engaged to provide ; though he assured me 
that he meant to purchase another as soon as we were at 
a little distance from the capital, where he could buy one 
cheaper. I suspected this was a pretence to escape the 
trouble of taking care of it, and so it proved to be ; for a 
suitable horse was never to be found, and one poor animal 
had to carry not only himself but his bundle during the 
whole journey. 

The manner of loading the horses in Iceland is exceed- 
ingly awkward ; a few large pieces of dried turf are laid on 
the back of the animal, without being secured in any way, 
and a piece of wood, slightly bent in the shape of a bow 
and provided with two or three wooden pegs, is buckled 
over them ; the trunks and bundles are suspended to the 
pegs, but if the burden be not exactly balanced it is per- 

* Ninety-six cents. Tr. 

f Twenty kreutzers, or sixteen cents. Tr. 


petually slipping out of place, and it is necessary to stop 
and adjust it all over again. 

The trunks of this country are of massive wood, covered 
with a rough hide and secured with iron as if they were in- 
tended to last for ever. These trunks are in themselves a 
heavy load, and very little additional weight can be laid on 
the poor beasts who carry them ; the utmost amount which 
a horse can bear on a long journey being a hundred and 
fifty pounds. 

How many times a day we were compelled to stop and 
alter the whole arrangement of our luggage, I should never 
be able to tell. The pieces of turf would not of course 
stay very long in their places, and then the whole thing 
would be awry again. But no power on earth can divert 
an Icelander from his accustomed ways ; thus his ancestors 
packed their horses, and thus he will continue to pack his 
for ever. 

We had ten miles before us the first day, but owing to 
the damaged saddle, we were not able to get off earlier than 
eight o'clock in the morning. The first three miles were 
over the great plain which surrounds Reikjavick and across 
some of the low hillocks scattered about it. We passed 
several streams, among which the Lachselv was the most 
remarkable, which opposed some difliculties to our progress, 
though they are by no means dangerous to ford at this sea- 
son of the year. The valleys through which we rode to-day 
were mostly strewn with lava, but still they presented many 
pleasing prospects to the eye. A few of the hills had the 
appearance of extinguished volcanoes, being covered with 
colossal sheets of lava, beneath which the crater probably 
lay. The lava scattered around them was in smaller pieces, 
but of the same variety and shade. 

We had a good view of the sea from every height for 


some distance as we rode along; and this part of the 
country is also tolerably populous ; but as we advanced we 
passed through a tract of more than six miles,* without 
seeing a human habitation. One wide plain succeeded 
another, and in the centre of each desolate waste, inclosed 
by hills of moderate height, there was generally a solitary 
hut, erected as a shelter for the traveller during the winter 
nights ; but he must not natter himself that he will find 
any thing in the shape of a host there, he must come pro- 
vided with all that is requisite to make himself comfortable 
under the little roof, which only covers a single room, with 
four naked walls. 

The lava I saw to-day was all of the same variety ; it 
was generally broken into small stones, not very porous, of 
a light gray color, and in some places mixed with sand and 

A few miles from Thingvalla we passed a valley where 
the soil was excellent, although it was but scantily covered 
with verdure for want of cultivation ; moss grew there in 
abundance, and I believe the inhabitants might improve 
this, as well as many other patches of earth, to much 
greater advantage, if they would only take the trouble to do 
so. The soil around Reikjavick is of the most unpromis- 
ing character, and yet with pains and labor many a garden 
spot and good pasture ground has been obtained. And why 
should not as much be accomplished here, where nature has 
already done her share ? 

We were to sleep to-night at Thingvalla, which lies on 
the shores of a lake of the same name, but only appears in 
sight on a very near approach. The lake is more than 
half a mile long,f and at least as wide in some places, and 

* Twenty-seven English miles. Tr. 

f Two and a quarter English mile& Tr. 


contains two small rocky islands, known by the name of 
Sandey and Resey. 

My attention was still riveted on the lake and the dark 
barren hills which inclose it, when suddenly, and as if by 
enchantment, a chasm opened at my feet, into whose depths 
it was impossible to look without a shudder. Weber's 
" Freischiitz " involuntary occurred to my mind. To add to 
the wonders of this prospect, you approach the abyss from 
this side, without the least suspicion that such a gulf exists 
between the valleys beyond and yourself. The chasm, 
which is not more than thirty or forty feet in width, is 
several hundred feet deep ; and we were compelled to de- 
scend its steep and dangerous sides by a narrow path lead- 
ing over the fragments of lava. My uneasiness increased 
as we went down and could see the colossal masses, in the 
shape of pillars or columns, tottering loosely on the brink 
of the precipice above our heads, threatening death and 
annihilation at any moment. Mute and anxious we crept 
along in breathless haste, scarcely venturing to raise our 
eyes, much less to give vent to the least expression of 
alarm, for fear of starting the avalanche of stone, of whose 
impetuous force we could form some idea by the shattered 
rocks around us. The echo is very remarkable, and gives 
back the faintest whisper with perfect distinctness. Our 
horses scrambled down the sides of the precipice after we 
had safely reached the bottom, and from thence they 
looked as if they were hanging to a straight wall. 

The name of this pass is Almanagiau. It is about a 
quarter of a mile* in length, but is impassable for part of 
the distance, being choked by enormous blocks of lava. 
The rocks are parted towards the right, and form an outlet 

* A little more than one English mile. Tr. 


leading over a rough road to the beautiful broad valley of 
Thingvalla. It struck me while wandering through the 
chasm, that it must be the depths of a crater, whose own 
boundless fury had raised the high walls around it, which 
must have been the work of ages. 

The vale of Thingvalla passes for one of the most 
beautiful in Iceland. It contains some fine meadows, which 
furnish the means of support to the inhabitants of the 
place, and supply the necessary forage for their cattle. The 
Icelander considers this small green valley as the loveliest 
spot on the face of the earth. The little hamlet is not far 
from the outlet of the chasm ; it is situated near the lake 
on the opposite side of the river Oxer, and merely consists 
of a cluster of huts and a small church. A few solitary 
farm-houses and cottages are scattered about the plain. 

Thingvalla was once the most important place in Ice- 
land ; and a field near the village is still pointed out to the 
traveller as the spot where the yearly meeting of the 
Althing, or General Assembly, was held. The people and 
their leaders gathered together and struck their tents like 
the Nomadic tribes ; here, many a right and many a ques- 
tion was settled by an appeal to arms. The chiefs assem- 
bled quietly at the head of their retainers, but not a few 
among them never returned to their homes, having been 
sent by the stroke of their opponents to that rest, which no 
one seeks though all must find. 

One side of the valley is bounded by the sea, and the 
other by a range of fine mountains, some of which I ob- 
served to be still partially covered with snow. The river 
Oxer falls prettily over some rocks of tolerable height near 
the ravine. 

It was still daylight when I reached Thingvalla ; the 
clear blue heavens shone down upon the landscape ; and 


yet a few clouds were hovering about the sides of the hills, 
which at times would spread over them like a thin veil, or 
else form themselves in a crown around their summits, soon 
dissolving to appear again in another spot. This is 
a phenomenon which is seen in Iceland during the 
clearest weather, and one I had often observed near Reik- 
javick. At times, when the sky was bright and cloudless, 
a little speck would suddenly show itself on the edge of a 
hill, where it would increase to a cloud, and remain hang- 
ing over the spot for a while and then dissolve or float 
away ; an effect which, however common, can never be wit- 
nessed without delight. 

The pastor of Thingvalla, Mr. Bech, invited me to pass 
the night under his own roof; but as it was not better in 
any respect than the huts around, I preferred to take pos- 
session of my old quarters at the church, having only too 
easily obtained his permission to do so. This little church 
is not much larger than that at Krisuvick, but being at 
some distance from the village I escaped the troublesome 
inroad of visitors which had annoyed me so much before. 

With my cold neighbors in the burying-ground I had 
by this time become quite familiar, and therefore spent a 
very quiet night on one of the wooden chests which I found 
in the church. The first step is the great difficulty on such 
occasions ; and a very little practice will put to flight all 
the gloomy thoughts which would be apt to suggest them- 
selves in such a situation. 

June I7tk. Our destination to-day was Reikholt, or 
Reikiadal, which I was told was a distance of at least eleven 
miles.* It is not always possible to form a perfectly correct 

* Forty-nine and a half English miles. Tr. 


idea of the distances from the map, for it sometimes happens, 
as was the case in this instance, that impassable places inter- 
vene, compelling the traveller to make a long circuit to 
avoid them. From the map one would have imagined 
Thingvalla to be much nearer Reikholt than Reikjavick ; 
and yet we were fourteen hours in accomplishing the ride, 
which made us two hours later than we were yesterday. 

As long as the road lay through the valley of Thing- 
valla, there was a constant variety in the scenery. "We 
first crossed an arm of the river Oxer, then saw a fine 
meadow, and soon came to a small clump of what would be 
called trees in Iceland, though with us they would be root- 
ed up as useless brush, as they run along the ground and 
rarely rise more than two or three feet above it. A sap- 
ling that rears its head as high as four feet is considered a 
lofty giant of the woods. The greater part of this ima- 
"ginary forest grows among the lava that covers the plain. 

I observed the conformation of the lava here to be some- 
what different from any I had yet seen. It was not in 
streams, large stony masses, or rolling waves; but it 
covered most of the soil with enormous sheets of rock, often 
split to the depth of ten or fifteen feet, and the width of 
eight or ten. In these crevices the flowers bloom rather 
earlier, and the ferns grow taller and more luxuriantly, than 
in the rough world above. 

The country beyond the valley of Thingvalla is monoto- 
nous and entirely uninhabited ; we rode mile after mile 
without seeing a single cottage ; each barren plain through 
which we passed being clothed in light gray or yellowish 
lava, mixed in spots with a beautiful fine sand, into which 
the horses sank at every step above their hoofs. These 
valleys are surrounded with low hills, and a jokul (glacier) 
is rarely seen among them. The hills have a polished ap- 


pearance, their sides being perfectly smooth and shining ; 
but on some of the heights the lava blocks form magnificent 
groups, resembling shattered columns, and the ruins of 
ancient buildings projecting in a peculiar manner from the 
straight and even walls. The hills vary in color, some 
being black, some brown, gray, or light yellow ; and the 
gradual shading of these tints produces a wonderfully fine 
effect in the brilliant light of the sun. 

After an uninterrupted ride of nine miles, we came to a 
very large moor, partially overgrown with thin herbage, 
where we stopped and rested, while our horses browsed on 
the scattered blades of grass ; this being the only pasture- 
ground we had seen since we left Thingvalla. Here we 
were assailed by swarms of little gnats, which found their 
way into our eyes, mouth and nose, and made this delay a 
season of perfect torment. 

I saw a flock of swans alight on a small sheet of water 
in the moor, and as they were the first of these birds I had 
yet observed, I watched them with great interest, though I 
was obliged to remain at some distance from them, as they 
are unfortunately so shy that they will dart off into the air 
with the speed of lightning on the nearest approach of a 
human being. They appeared to move in pairs, and the 
largest flock I saw consisted of four pairs. 

I had considered the Icelanders as the laziest people in 
existence, from the first moment of my arrival in the 
country ; and this opinion was confirmed by a trifling cir- 
cumstance which occurred to-day. The moor where we 
stopped to rest was separated from the lava fields by a 
ditch, over which a bridge was formed by a few stones 
heaped together, but so carelessly that the horses could 
hardly advance without stepping into some of the holes ; 
and they resisted so long before they could be made to ven- 


ture across, that we were obliged to alight and lead them 

We had just passed this place, and established ourselves 
in the meadow, when a caravan of fifteen horses loaded with 
boards and dried fish came along. These animals remarked 
the danger of the bridge, and could only be driven over it 
by repeated blows of the whip. There was abundance of 
stone not twenty paces from the spot, but sooner than turn 
out of their way, even for that short distance, these indolent 
creatures would rather cudgel their horses and let them 
run the risk of breaking their ankles. I felt so much com- 
passion for the poor animals who would have to cross this 
bridge in future, that as soon as the other party was out of 
sight, I devoted part of my hours of repose to collecting 
some large stones, with which I filled up the holes ; a labor 
which was easily accomplished in fifteen minutes. 

It is curious to observe how the horses will find out by 
instinct every dangerous spot in the stones, the moors, or 
marshes. They drop their noses to the ground and scent 
around till they find a sure footing \ but if there is any risk 
in advancing, nothing but blows can drive them forward a 

After a halt of two nours, we continued our ride through 
the lava fields till nine o'clock, when we reached a table- 
land, from the farther end of which we could see Reikholt, 
or Reikiadal, lying at our feet in a broad valley three or 
four miles long, shut in by a range of hills, among which 
glistened several jokuls (glaciers) in their icy covering. 
yS The wild and sublime scenery of Iceland never appears 
to greater advantage than at the hour of sunset, when a 
peculiar magic light is shed over the wide valleys strewn 
with lava, without a tree or a bush, and hemmed in by dark 
mountains, whose summits glitter in the last rays of the 


departing sun ; the jokuls are veiled by a shade of delicate 
rose, while the deepest shadows gather around the lower 
part of the hills, in striking contrast to the plains, over 
which floats a purple haze, imparting . to them the ap- 
pearance of a dark sheet of water. The silence, the perfect 
solitude, are still more impressive. Not a sound is heard, 
not a living creature is in sight, nor a village, a single cot- 
tage, a tree, or a shrub. The whole landscape is absolutely 
devoid of every sign of life ; and as the eye wanders over 
the boundless and monotonous scene, it seeks in vain for 
any object of familiar interest on which to rest. 

As we reached the extremity of the table-land this 
evening about eleven o'clock, I saw a sunset which I can 
never forget. The hills, the valleys, and the glaciers were 
lighted up by a brilliant red ; I could not remove my eyes 
from the glowing mountains, although the view at my feet 
had many claims to my attention and admiration. 

The whole long valley was almost entirely covered with 
meadows, and at its extreme end columns of smoke were 
seen to arise from the boiling springs. The atmosphere 
was so clear and pure, so much more transparent than I 
have ever seen it in any other country, that the light seemed 
to be very little diminished by the disappearance of the 
sun, and I observed that the smallest objects were distinctly 
visible on the plain, a circumstance which was very favora- 
ble to our progress, for the road was full of danger, leading 
as it did abruptly down over the stones and rocks into the 
valley below. A small stream on one side of us formed 
several pretty falls, some of which were thirty feet high. 

In vain I strained my eyes to find a little church where 
I might pass the night ; for those who have never expe- 
rienced it, may rest assured that it is a serious thing to ride 
fourteen hours, with nothing to eat but bread and cheese, 


and not be able to alight after all at the door of sonic hotel, 
a la mile de Londres or de Paris. I was not so unreason- 
able as to expect a porter to announce my arrival, or a 
butler and chambermaid to attend to my wants ; I merely 
sighed for a hard bench in the neighborhood of my dear de- 
parted Icelanders, within some sacred edifice, where I might 
at least be sheltered from the cold night wind. I was sud- 
denly aroused from these blessed contemplations by the 
voice of my guide, who exclaimed, " Here we are, at last j" 
and looking up, I saw a few of those low huts, whose grass- 
covered walls and roofs are hardly to be distinguished 
from the fields around. We halted, and turned our horses 
loose to graze in the neighboring pastures, while we our- 
selves were obliged to put up with much worse accommoda- 
tions and fare. The inmates of the huts had long been 
buried in the deepest sleep, and were not even aroused by 
"the loud barking of dogs which greeted our arrival. A cup 
of coffee would certainly have been very acceptable, but I 
could not think of waking any one up to prepare it ; so I 
quieted my hunger with a piece of bread, and seeking out 
a sheltered spot by the side of one of the huts, I wrapped 
myself in my cloak and lay down on the ground, wishing 
with all my heart that I could fall asleep at once in the 
open air, and dream by broad daylight.* I was just sink- 
ing into a doze when it began to rain ; and I could then no 
longer avoid the necessity of disturbing some of my neigh- 

I was put in possession of a store-room, the best apart- 
ment in the place, and a wooden chest was offered me for a 
bed. Fortunately, such a place is to be found in every lit- 
tle village ; and although it is generally far from inviting 

* Let it be remembered that at this season there was hardly any 
twilight, much less any night 


being filled with dried fish, blubber, tallow, and every other 
abominable compound to poison the air, it is still infinitely 
to be preferred to the sleeping-rooms of the peasants, which 
are without exception the most disgusting holes that can be 
imagined. Besides the overpowering effluvia resulting 
from a degree of uncleanliness which it is impossible to de- 
scribe in words, such multitudes of vermin are engendered 
by the prevailing filth as could hardly be equalled among 
the Greenlanders and Laplanders. 

I established myself in the store-room, and endeavored 
to wait with patience and resignation for the hour of 
leaving it. 

June I Ith. Yesterday we made a forced march of 
eleven miles,* the last nine of which were through a barren 
and uninhabited region, where we did not see a single 
dwelling of any kind which could offer us a night's shelter ; 
but our ride to-day was all the more easy for the horses, as 
we only had to accomplish the short distance of half a mile 
to Reikiadal, where I stopped to visit the celebrated springs 
The little village of Reikiadal contains a church and a few 
houses, and is surrounded by beautiful meadows ; the whole 
valley, indeed, is covered with rich pasture-grounds, sprin- 
kled with cottages and farm-houses, and abounding in fine 
flocks of sheep ; the horses and cows being somewhat less 
numerous, especially the latter. 

The church at Reikiadal is one of the largest and neat- 
est I had yet seen ; and the small parsonage, although 
covered as usual with turf, is quite a comfortable and con- 
venient dwelling. This parish is an extensive one, and more 
populous than some of the others. 

* Forty-nine and a half English miles. Tr. 


My first care on arriving was to seek out the priest, Mr. 
Jonas Jonason, in order to procure fresh horses as soon as 
possible, and a guide to conduct me to the hot springs. He 
promised to provide me with both in half an hour ; but it 
was full three hours before I was able to obtain what I 
wanted, and it was not accomplished in that time without a 
vast deal of trouble. The apathy and perfect listlessness 
of all the people with whom I had to deal while I was in 
Iceland was a constant source of annoyance to me ; I was 
always obliged to make up my mind to wait for every thing 
I wanted ten times as long as was necessary ; and even on 
the present occasion, I doubt if I should have succeeded in 
pursuing my journey to-day, if I had left the good pastor's 
side for a moment. But at last every difficulty was con- 
quered, and Mr. Jonason was so kind as to accompany me 
to the springs himself. 

We rode for three quarters of a mile over this fine val- 
ley, crossing the river Sidumule at least half a dozen times, 
as it wound through the fields, before we reached the first 
hot spring, which gushes from a rock about six feet high, 
lying in the midst of a marsh. The diameter of the upper 
opening of the caldron, where the water boils and bubbles 
without ceasing, may be perhaps from two to three feet. 
This spring flows perpetually ; the stream rises to the height 
of two or three feet into the air, sometimes even as high as 
four feet, and is about a foot and a half in bulk. Its size 
can be increased by throwing a large stone or a clod of 
earth into the pool, when the spring is aroused in a moment 
and casts back the stone with violence, dissolving the earth 
by which its waters are discolored. 

These springs bear a great resemblance to those at 
Carlsbad in Bohemia, and a perfectly correct idea of them 
can be formed by any one who has visited that place. 


Near this first fountain there is a crevice where the 
waters are always boiling, though they are never thrown up 
in a jet. Other springs are to be seen on a rock at a little 
distance, immediately on the bank of the river Sidumule ; 
three distinct sources, not more than a few feet apart, oc- 
cupy the whole level surface of the rock ; at its base there 
are several other hot springs, with a caldron of boiling 
water lying a little above them, which are only remarkable 
from the fact of their gushing out of the ground so near the 
cold river. 

But a large rock, called Tunga-Huer, which rises from 
the centre of a morass, and is about twenty feet high and 
fifteen feet long, contains the most wonderful group of 
springs, sixteen of which are seen to flow from its sides and 
base ; on the level summit of the rock there is not one. 

The size of the caldron and the dimensions of the jets 
correspond with those I have already described. The six- 
teen streams are all within the compass of two sides of 
the rock ; and it is difficult to imagine any thing more sin- 
gular and impressive than the spectacle they present to 
those who have the courage to climb the rock, which is not 
difficult of access, though somewhat dangerous. Its upper 
stratum is soft and warm, of the consistency of mud, mixed 
with sand and pebbles ; I could not but feel a little 
afraid of breaking through into the boiling caldron under- 
neath this slight covering, where every footstep left its 
mark. The good priest went ahead, and sounded the dan- 
gerous footing with a stick ; I did not remain far behind 
him, and we soon stood on the edge of the rock, where I 
could overlook all the fountains at once. Here the view 
was even more interesting and extraordinary than from be- 
low. It seemed like the effect of magic to look down upon 
these crowded water-spouts, and their different basins vary- 


ing in shape and figure ; I forgot my fears, and stood for a 
long time lost in admiration of this wonderful prospect, 
silently acknowledging the greatness of that Creator, at 
whose bidding they had burst forth from their dark prison 
to foam and rage awhile in their frothy basins, and then 
quietly flow away to swell the neighboring stream. My 
companion was obliged to remind me more than once of the 
perils of our position ; I had ceased to think of its inse- 
curity, and lingered there till the mighty columns of steam 
spread themselves around us, threatening almost instant 
suffocation, when we turned away our dampened faces and 
left the spot, where we could not have remained so long if 
the waters had been more strongly tainted with sulphur. 
The rock which contains these springs is a reddish mass, and 
the bed of the stream into which they flow is covered with 
red pebbles. 

On our return, we saw another curious phenomenon 
near a cottage which we passed ; it was a caldron where 
the waters were constantly boiling and seething, and in 
its neighborhood were two irregular cavities, from whence 
periodical columns of steam escaped with a loud and rush- 
ing noise ; whenever the steam appeared the waters in- 
creased in the basin, though never so much as to overflow 
its brink or rise into the air ; and when it vanished, and the 
uproar in both cavities had ceased, they sank again for 
several feet. These alternations lasted about a minute, 
and were renewed so punctually, that it would have been 
safe to risk a wager on the rise and fall of the waters and 
the bursting forth of the steam, which occurred without the 
least variation about sixty-five times in an hour. In con- 
nection with this caldron there is another one lying in a 
little crevice a few paces off. When the waters subside in 
the upper basin, they begin to roar and rise in the lower 


one, and are spouted into the air to the height of two or 
three feet .They sink again when the upper caldron is filled ; 
and this play continues without intermission and with the 
most perfect regularity. 

The first-mentioned spring is provided with a vapor bath, 
formed by a little chamber, close to the caldron, built of stone 
and covered with turf ; the entrance is so low that it is ne- 
cessary to crawl in on one's hands and knees. The floor is of 
flat stones, which are very much heated and probably lie above 
some hot springs. Whoever wishes to use the bath shuts 
himself in this room, where he is soon enveloped in a 
stifling heat, which covers the whole body with a dripping 
perspiration. It is very little frequented, however, by the 
peasants of the neighborhood. 

I was also directed to visit a caldron and spring in a 
fine meadow near the church, entirely surrounded by a low 
stone wall to prevent the cattle from scalding themselves 
in their eagerness to reach the grass. About eighty paces 
from this spring is the bath of Snorri Sturluson, which is 
a round basin three or four feet deep, and about twenty in 
diameter ; a few steps lead to the bottom, and a low stone 
seat surrounds the whole bath, where the waters, led from 
an adjacent spring, are too hot to be used without being 
cooled. There is no trace of a covering to this pool, which 
serves at present for the purpose of washing linen or wool. 

I had now seen all the remarkable sources in this part 
of the valley ; the pillars of smoke and steam on the op- 
posite side arise from those which present nothing worthy 
of notice but their heat. 

On our way back I was conducted by the priest to the 
churchyard, which lay at a little distance from his house, 
where Jie pointed out to me the most distinguished graves. 
This was a very edifying spectacle, no doubt, but one which 


was far from consolatory to me, when I remembered the 
coming night which I was to spend in the little church in 
their midst. 

The grave-mounds are very high, and are generally 
covered by a wooden box resembling a coffin, which encloses 
the tomb-stone as a protection against the weather ; though 
I could not defend myself from the idea that they also held 
the dead ; and to assure myself of my mistake, I even 
begged the good pastor to remove the lid from one of them, 
when I saw, not as I had half expected, the corpse, which 
was in fact lying many feet under ground, but a stone 
such as he had already described to me, with the usual in- 
scriptions upon it. 

Directly in front of the entrance to the church is the 
tomb where repose the ashes of the celebrated Snorri Stur- 
luson;* a narrow Runic stone, of the same length as the 
grave, lies above it, and is said to have once been covered 
by a Runic inscription, though every trace of it has long 
been effaced by the storms of five centuries, as this tomb 
was not sheltered, like many of the others, by a wooden 
covering. The stone is severed in two pieces throughout 
its length. The mound is often renewed, and has all the 
appearance of a fresh grave. I plucked every buttercup 
that grew around it, a-nd preserved them carefully in a book, 
by which means I have it in my power to gratify any of my 

* History relates that the great historian of Iceland was the means 
of betraying his country, which till then had been free, into the 
power of Norway ; and in consequence of this unpopular act he only 
ventured to appear in public surrounded by a numerous retinue, and 
never attended the Althing at Thingvalla, unless accompanied by an 
army of five or six hundred men. But in spite of these precautions he 
was surprised by his enemies in his own house at Reikiadal, where he 
was massacred after a short resistance, 


friends who may wish to own a flower from the grave of the 
great scholar and poet of Iceland. 

June 19th. I hired fresh horses to-day, and allowed 
my own, which were still somewhat fatigued, to accompany 
us unloaded, on our excursion to the cave of Surthellix, 
which is about seven miles from this place. The worthy 
priest was so kind as to attend to all my wants, and acted 
once more as my Mentor on this occasion. 

The seven horses, my guide, the priest, and myself, 
rode forth together, and retraced our steps for two miles 
towards Reikholt, when we turned to the left, and crossed 
the hills to a valley, traversed by beautiful lava streams, 
and overgrown in places by a magnificent Iceland forest, 
where some of the bushes even attained a greater height 
than those in the valley of Thingvalla. 

At Kalmannstunga we left all the horses we were not 
using, and hired a man to conduct us to the cave, which was 
still at a distance of a mile and a half. It lies in one of 
the most remarkable plains in Iceland, which is covered 
with lava of every form and color, and offers a pre-eminent 
picture of volcanic disturbances. The lava is sometimes 
crisp and glassy, and forms very handsome designs and ara- 
besques ; in other places it is in enormous sheets, either 
single or stretched over each other in layers, with mighty 
streams rushing in between them, which have been congeal- 
ed on their way. The different eruptions can be traced by 
the shades of the currents, which vary from a light gray to 
black. The hills around this valley are generally dark, and 
stand out in bold relief against the neighboring jokuls, 
stretching into the distance like a sea of ice. One of 
these glaciers is unusually high ; its summit is lost in the 
oloiids, while its brilliant covering reaches far down into 


the valley. The hills are smooth and perfectly regular, 
and I saw but one in the foreground whose surface was 
roughened by singular groups and excrescences of congealed 
lava. The whole scene was wrapped in the silence of 
death ; and it presented that barren, bald, and lifeless 
aspect, so peculiar to this great desert of the North. 

Instead of penetrating into the hills, as one would 
naturally expect, the grotto of Surthellix is situated in the 
midst of this extensive level tract, and I was quite startled 
when the wide round basin which forms its mouth sud- 
denly appeared before us ; it is about six fathoms deep, and 
fifteen in diameter ; and there is something fearful in look- 
ing down upon the innumerable heaps of rock, which are 
piled above each other to the margin of the opening, and 
form the only means of access to the cave. 

We found our way down on our hands and knees till 
we came to a broad, long alley, which at first has a slight 
inclination downwards and then stretches for a long dis- 
tance under the plain, which formed a rocky roof over 
our heads. I estimated the height of this cavern to be 
about eighteen feet in the lowest part, and in a few places 
to reach the elevation of sixty feet. The roof and walls 
were roughened by the continual dripping, but there were 
no figures or indentations. 

Several side-paths branch out from the principal alley, 
but they are not connected with each other, and we were 
obliged to return to the main road from every one we 
entered ; many were short, narrow, and low ; but there 
were a few of more respectable length and height. 

In one of the most remote of these side-alleys a large 
heap of bones was pointed out to me, said to be the remains 
of slaughtered sheep and other animals ; and as far as I 


could understand the priest, the story runs that this cave 
was once the resort of a mighty band of robbers ; though 
it must be a very long time since they frequented it, for 
nothing remains of their history but traditions and fables. 

I was not aware that any robbers had ever existed in 
Iceland ; pirates, indeed, had often resorted to its shores, 
but this place was too far from the coast to have been 
known to them. Neither could it have been the refuge 
of beasts of prey, who would have found nothing to sub- 
sist upon in a region so perfectly desolate and uninhabited. 
In short, I tried in vain to think of any satisfactory expla- 
nation of an apparition .which struck me as so very singular ; 
the bones were numerous, and still fresh, as if the animals 
had lately been devoured. Unfortunately, I was never able 
to ascertain with any degree of certainty how they could 
possibly have been collected in that spot. 

The difficulties we experienced in exploring this cavern 
were almost enough to discourage a traveller less persever- 
ing than myself. The path was obstructed by numerous 
loose fragments of rock, over which it was a very toilsome 
effort to find our way. I could receive no assistance from 
nay companions, who were fully engaged in taking care of 
themselves, as there was scarcely a spot to rest our feet 
where we were not obliged to hold on by our hands at the 
same time. In some places we were compelled to slide 
down the sides of the rocks, or gather ourselves up and 
slip sideways over the higher blocks. 

We came to several enormous basins or craters, which 
opened from the plain above, though their walls were too 
steep for us to climb. The light falling from these 
openings was insufficient for the main entrance, much more 
for the other passages. I had not been able to procure any 


torches in Kalmannstunga, as they are only to be found at 
Reikjavick, but was obliged to content myself with a few 

Beneath these gaps there still lay a great deal of snow, 
which added to the dangers of the road ; it frequently gave 
way as we stepped upon it, causing us to jam our feet be- 
tween the stones underneath, and it was not without great 
difficulty that we could extricate ourselves. A crust of 
ice covered with water was seen in all the side alleys near 
these craters ; which disappeared as we advanced into the 
cavities, where we usually found a great deal of dirt, formed 
by a mixture of sand and water. The large blocks of lava 
only abounded in the main road ; that in the other paths 
was generally broken up into small pebbles. 

The rays of the sun falling perpendicularly through 
these craters were reflected back with dazzling brilliancy 
from the snow, and spread a soft-colored light round our 
heads when we stood within the basins. These bright 
points also produced a very singular effect as we advanced 
towards them from the dark abysses of the cave, or left them 
to plunge again into its gloomy alleys. 

This subterranean labyrinth is said to extend for several 
miles beneath the plain ; we only examined the main road 
and a few of the paths which diverge from it, and when we 
returned to the upper world at the end of two hours we 
were very tired, though we only allowed ourselves to rest 
for half an hour before we rode back to Kalmannstunga, at 
a quick trot. 

Unfortunately I am no geologist, and cannot take it 
upon myself to decide whether this cave be the seat of an 
exhausted volcano or not. But in a country where every 
hill and mountain is lava, even an unlearned traveller will 
naturally look about for the source where it must once have 


originated ; and it is quite a relief to be able to trace some 
of the streams which have formed the wonderful masses 
scattered around in every direction, to this spot. I could 
not help thinking that I was exploring what was once a 
burning crater, for every thing which I saw, the rocks, the 
roof, the sides of the different basins, the whole cave, in 
short, was lava. 

IVas obliged to spend the night in one of the three huts 
which compose the whole village of Kalmannstunga, where 
there is no church. Fortunately it was rather cleaner than 
usual, and somewhat larger, being almost worthy of the 
name of a farmhouse. The inmates were so attentive as 
to prepare* the best apartment for me, where every thing was 
put in order for my reception when I returned from the 
cave. My little room was about eleven feet by seven, and 
contained a single window, so small and dirty that I could 
hardly see to write although the sun was shining in full 
splendor. The walls and floor were of wood, which is a 
very uncommon degree of luxury in this country ; the fur- 
niture consisted of a wide bed, two chests, and a little 
table. There were no chairs or benches, of course, any 
thing of the kind being entirely unknown to the Icelanders, 
who always seat themselves on their beds and chests ; and 
I am sure I do not know where a chair could be placed in 
their crowded rooms. 

My hostess, who was the widow of a wealthy peasant, 
presented to me her four children, who were very good 
looking and neatly dressed. I begged the mother to tell 
me what she called her little ones, that I might be able to 
mention some Iceland names when I returned to my own 
country. She was very much pleased with my request, 
and named them to me as follows : Sigridur, Gudrun, Inge- 
bor and Lars. 


I could have made myself very comfortable here, as I 
always endeavor to do, whatever my accommodations may 
happen to be, if I could only have been left alone ; but to 
my great annoyance, every inhabitant, not only of this hut, 
but of all the others in the place, gathered round me one 
by one ; and stationing themselves, some in my own room 
and some in the adjoining one, I found myself besieged 
even more closely than I had been at Krisuvick. There 
was something about my appearance entirely new to the 
people, who stared at me with untiring earnestness. The 
women soon became sufficiently familiar to touch my dress 
and feel every article I had on ; while the children laid 
their dirty faces in my lap. The horrible uncleanliness 
of this crowd of people, their offensive perspiration, their 
perpetual snuff-taking (without pocket-handkerchiefs), their 
continual spitting ah ! it was truly fearful ! I suffered 
more from these visits than from the longest fast ; though 
that was a kind of penance to which I was often obliged to 
submit, for I could never taste any thing that was set be- 
fore me during my travels throughout the whole country ; 
and in fact the Iceland peasant has little to offer in the 
way of cookery but dried fish and sour milk, the latter often 
several months old ; on very rare occasions they have 
grits, or unraised bread made of powdered Iceland moss. 

I found that most of these people supposed me to pos- 
sess a degree of information which is generally to be found 
only among men; apparently they thought the women of 
foreign countries must necessarily be as learned as the 
other sex. The priests always inquired if I spoke Latin, 
and seemed struck with astonishment when I replied in the 
negative. The common people consulted me for all mannei 
of troubles ; and once when I went into a hut during one 
of my solitary rambles near Reikjavick, I was led to an ob- 


ject which I should hardly have known for a human being ; 
it was one of those wretched sufferers from the leprous 
eruption, whose whole body, as well as his head and face, 
was covered with sores and boils, and almost wasted to a 
skeleton from the effects of the disease. Such a spectacle 
might have been interesting to a physician, but I turned 
from it with horror. 

Enough of this revolting picture ! Let me rather de- 
scribe an angel's head I saw at Kalmannstunga a child of 
ten or twelve years old so inexpressibly sweet and lovely 
that I could not but wish myself a painter to carry back 
to my native country, at least on canvas, that soft counte- 
nance, with its expressive eyes and beautiful dimples. But 
perhaps it is best as it is ; a malicious fate might have 
thrown the portrait into the hands of some susceptible 
youth, whose too tender feelings would perhaps have 
prompted him to undertake a pilgrimage through the 
world like Don Sylvio de Rosalba, in Wieland's Comic 
Novel in search of the enchanting original. It is not 
probable that he would ever have turned his steps towards 
Iceland, for who would expect to find so perfect an object 
in that remote quarter of the globe ? and thus the unhappy 
lover would have been doomed to wander forever, and be 
forever disappointed. 

June ZQtk. The distance from Kalmannstunga to 
Thingvalla is eleven miles, and it is one of the worst and 
most fatiguing roads in Iceland, through dreary plains, 
shut in by high hills and jokuls. Wherever the traveller 
turns his eye it is met by a chilled and lifeless nature ; he 
hastens anxiously through the barren wilderness, and 
eagerly climbs one eminence after another, in the hope of 
seeing some improvement in the scene, but in vain ; he be- 


holds the same waste the same desolation the same 

We found many places on the table-lands still covered 
with snow, which we were obliged to cross although we 
heard the waters rushing beneath ; and the icy crusts over 
which we rode were often thin and soft under the horses' 
feet, and of that light blue shade which is a symptom of 
danger. The horses frequently resisted with all their 
might before they could be driven across by hard blows. 
The pack-horse was cudgelled till he led the way ; my 
guide followed, and I was the last. The poor animals 
often sank to their knees in the snow, and twice they went 
in above their saddle-girths. This was the most dangerous 
road I had ever travelled ; my constant thought was what 
I should do if my guide were to sink in so deep that he 
could not extricate himself ; I was not strong enough to offer 
him any assistance, and where should I turn for help in 
this desert ? I might wander about in search of a human 
habitation, or in the hope of meeting with a fellow-being, 
till I perished with hunger, or was lost in the wilderness 
without a chance of escape. I approached every snow-field 
we were obliged to cross with feelings of intense anxiety, 
of which those only who have been placed in a similar situ- 
ation can form any idea. If I had been in a large company 
my alarm would not have been so great ; for, relying on 
the assistance of my companions, the peril would doubtless 
have appeared much less imminent. 

This road should only be used when the snow affords a 
secure footing. We did not see a track of man or beast ; 
and we were the only living creatures who traversed this 
region. I found great fault with my guide for having led 
me into so much danger ; but it was then too late, for it 
was equally hazardous to advance or retreat 


To increase iny troubles there was a change m the 
weather, which till to-day had been very pleasant. The 
heavens were clouded when we left Kalmannstunga, and 
we only caught an occasional glimpse of the sun 5 but when 
we reached the heights we were completely enveloped in 
the mists and clouds, and an icy wind from the neighboring 
glaciers was soon accompanied by torrents of rain. We 
had already ridden thirteen hours, and as we were nearly 
stiffened by the wet and the cold, I made up my mind to 
stop at the first hovel we came to ; we found one, at last, 
about half a mile from Thingvalla ; where I was under 
cover, it is true, though in other respects my situation was 
very little improved. The hut contained but a single room, 
with four large beds in it, which must have been occupied 
by the seven grown persons and three children who seemed 
to compose the household. 

Unfortunately, a kind of influenza, called the Kvef, pre- 
vailed all over the country this season, and I found every 
inmate of this hut suffering from its effects ; there was a 
constant hacking and coughing, and the floor was actually 
slippery from the incessant expectorations. 

These poor people were so good as to offer me immedi- 
ately one of their beds ; but rather than spend the night 
in the midst of so much filth, I would have remained seated 
on the door-sill till morning. I preferred to convert the 
narrow passage leading from the kitchen to the dwelling- 
room into a sleeping apartment j it contained a rude shelf 
where the milk-pans were kept ; and borrowing a blanket 
from the invalids in the next room (my own cloak being 
too wet to be of any service to me), I stretched myself upon 
it and feigned to compose myself to rest, in hopes of get- 
ting rid of the company of my curious hosts. After a while 
they left me alone, but I could not sleep ; I was still damp 


and chilled from my long exposure to the storm, and the 
cold wind poured down upon me from the air-holes in the 
roof ; for this little passage, among the many purposes to 
which it was applied, was also used as a smoke-house ; and 
I suffered the greatest annoyance from a long pole directly 
over my head, where the fish were hung up to dry, and 
which I was apt to forget, till I had fully satisfied myself 
of its existence by at least half a dozen hard knocks when- 
ever I attempted to sit up in my comfortless bed. 

June 21 st. At last the long wished for morning hour 
arrived ; it had stopped raining, but the clouds still hung 
about the hills and threatened another deluge. Neverthe- 
less, I determined to brave all their fury rather than tarry 
any longer in my present shelter, and I gave orders that 
the horses should be saddled. 

Before we set off my hosts offered me some roast lamb 
and butter ; I thanked them, but declined eating any 
thing, excusing myself on the plea of want of appetite, 
which was the truth ; for it was enough to see these dirty 
creatures to take away all inclination to taste their food. 
As long as I had bread and cheese I confined myself to 
that, and never eat any thing else that was set before me. 

We took our leave, therefore, without attempting to 
make a breakfast, and returned to Reikjavick by the same 
route I had come, although my original plan was different, 
for I had wished to strike the road to the Greiser and 
Hecla from Thingvalla. But the horses were already ex- 
hausted, the weather was horrible, without promising any 
improvement, and I resolved to go back, for the present, to 
my cheerful little room in the house of the worthy baker, 
and wait for better days. 

We rode on steadily through the showers and gusts ; 


and what was worse, we were obliged to stop to rest in an 
open field, as the only hut we passed to-day was one in the 
lava desert, which serves as a refuge for travellers in win- 
ter. We halted at a meagre pasture-ground, where I had 
no choice but to walk about for two hours or seat myself on 
the damp ground. By way of amusement, I turned my 
back to the storm and watched the shifting clouds. More 
from ennui than hunger I eat my frugal meal ; and when I 
was thirsty I had but to throw back my head and open my 

I think I may natter myself that I was born to be a 
traveller ; I never take cold from any degree of exposure ; 
on this whole tour I had not a single warm meal, nor any 
substantial food ^ I slept every night on chests or benches, 
and rode fifty-five miles* in six days, besides scrambling 
about in the grotto of Surthellix ; and in spite of all these 
privations and hardships I returned to Reikjavick in per- 
fect health and spirits. 

First day: From Reikjayick to Thingvalla, 10 miles (German. )f 

Second day : From Thingvalla to Reikholt, 11 " 
Third day : From Reikholt to the hot springs 

and back to that place, 4 " " 
Fourth day : From Reikholt to Surthellix, and 

back to Kalmannstunga, - 8^ " " 
Fifth day : From Kalmannstunga to Thing- 

valla, 11 " 

Sixth day: From Thingvalla to Reikjavick, 10 " " 

* About two hundred and forty-seven English miles. Tr. 
f Each of which is four and a half English miles. Tr. 


In ijE &i\m mft 3Hmnrt Iteln. 

The weather soon improved so much, that on the 24th 
of June I was enabled to set off for the Geiser and Hecla, 
riding the first day as far as Thingvalla, through a part of 
the country with which I was already well acquainted. 

As we approached the lake of Thingvalla, I was so for- 
tunate as to witness a most beautiful atmospherical phe- 
nomenon. A soft mist was hanging over the waters and the 
shores, with all the appearance of an approaching shower, 
and it was illuminated by a few straggling sunbeams which 
found their way through the dark clouds spread over one 
half the heavens, while the other was shining in the clearest 
blue. Every shade of the rainbow was distinctly visible 
within that vapory circle, which presented one of the most 
lovely apparitions I have ever beheld. It lasted for about 
half an hour, when it gradually became fainter, and vanished 
at last, to be replaced by the usual atmosphere. 

June 25th. A quarter of a mile from Thingvalla we 
came to a fork in the road, which branches off towards the 
left to Reikholt, and towards the right to the Geiser. The 
latter route we followed, riding for a long distance by the 
side of the lake ; at the extremity of the valley we found 
a terrible pass in the rocks, similar to the great chasm at 
Almannagiau, which we were compelled to cross over a 
very bad road. 

The first valley beyond this ravine bears a strong re- 
semblance to that at Thingvalla, but the third was desolate 
and gloomy ; it was covered with low heaps of lava entirely 
overgrown by whitish moss, the effect of which is very fine 


when it only encircles the lower part of the rocks, leaving 
their sharp black summits bare ; but in this instance it pre- 
sented a monotonous and barren aspect. 

We passed two grottoes which lay in our path ; at the 
entrance to one of them there was a pillar of rock supporting 
a huge sheet of lava, which formed a dangerous looking 
portal. Unfortunately, I knew nothing of these caves, and 
had made no preparations to visit them, which I could not 
venture to do without torches ; but from what I afterwards 
learned, they were not very extensive, and presented nothing 
worthy of interest to the traveller. 

In the course of the day, we crossed several valleys far 
superior in beauty and cultivation to any I had yet seen 
in Iceland. The meadows were free from those little emi- 
nences so common throughout the island, and often extend- 
ed over a distance of several miles. These rich pastures 
were of course more populous than usual, and we frequently 
rode by little clusters of huts, and saw numbers of cows, 
horses, and sheep, grazing in the fields. On the left of the 
plains was a range of hills, which struck me as containing a 
great deal of loam ; although with my limited mineralogical 
knowledge, I ought hardly to pass a judgment on such sub- 
jects ; in color they were brown, black, or blue, like the 
others ; and some of them supported a colossal, isolated 
block of lava, which was a mysterious weight for their soft 
strata to sustain. 

In one of the valleys we observed a lake of respectable 
dimensions, with a few clouds of vapor hovering over it, 
which proceeded from some insignificant springs on its 

At the end of five or six miles, we came to a stream 
with the most extraordinary channel I have ever beheld ; 
it was broad and shelving, formed by layers of lava, and 


cleft through its centre to the depth of eighteen or twenty 
feet, by a chasm, from fifteen to eighteen feet wide, into 
which the waters rushed impetuously with a noise which 
was heard from a great distance. A wooden bridge in the 
middle of the river leads over this abyss, and the stranger 
who reaches the banks is at a % loss to account for its ap- 
pearance among the foam, which entirely conceals the rift 
in the bed of the stream, and he would be likely to mistake 
it for the ruins of a larger bridge. It is impossible to see 
the guide ride into this boisterous flood without feeling 
some alarm and a great repugnance to follow him. The 
priest at Thingvalla, who had prepared me for the scene, 
advised me to walk over the bridge ; but the waters were 
swollen at least two feet above it, and I was therefore 
obliged to ride across. 

The passage of this river is so very peculiar, that it is 
difficult to describe in words. The waters rave with the 
utmost violence, and dashing wildly into the cavity they 
form falls on both sides of it, or shiver themselves to spray 
against the projecting cliffs ; at the extremity of the chasm, 
which is not far from the bridge, the stream is precipitated 
in its whole breadth over rocks from thirty to forty feet in 
height. Our horses began to tremble, and struggled to 
escape when we approached the most agitated part of the 
torrent, where the noise was really deafening ; and it was 
not without the greatest difficulty that we succeeded in 
making them obey the reins, and bear us through the foam- 
ing waves by which the bridge was washed. 

The valley of this river is narrow and entirely shut in 
by a low range of lava-hills, and presents that silent, death- 
like appearance, well fitted to impress this extraordinary 
scene on the mind of the traveller. 

This was the last obstacle in my way, and I now rode 


on to the G-eiser without meeting any further impediment ; 
though this great object of my eager curiosity was concealed 
from my eyes by a prominent hill, till I was within half a 
mile of the spot where it lay. At last the mighty columns of 
steam were in sight, and approaching to about eighty paces 
from the principal caldron, we halted, not venturing to ad- 
vance any farther without a guide. A peasant, who had 
followed us from one of the neighboring huts, now stepped 
forward, and perceiving my hesitation, he took me by the 
hand and constituted himself at once my cicerone. Un- 
fortunately it was Sunday, and he had indulged himself so 
freely in his fondness for the brandy-bottle, that his gait 
was far from steady ; but I could not pause to consider the 
risk, and without waiting to ascertain that he was suffi- 
ciently conscious to remember the dangers of the place, I 
confided myself to his directions ; my Reikjavic guide 
being of opinion that I might trust him, and promising 
to accompany us to interpret his Iceland gibberish into 

He led me to the edge of the basin, which lies on a 
gentle elevation of about ten feet. The diameter of the 
basin is about thirty feet, and that of the caldron six or 
seven. Both were full to the brim with water as clear as 
crystal, which was slightly boiling. In this state the neigh- 
borhood is very dangerous, as they might overflow and 
empty themselves at any moment, and we therefore left the 
spot at once and visited the different springs. 

My new friend pointed out to me those which I might 
approach withaut fear, and warned me against the others. 
We then returned to the Greiser, where he left me in order 
to make some preparations for my accommodation ; having 
first furnished me with some rules, to enable me to know 


when an explosion might be expected, which I repeat for 
the benefit of iny reader. 

The column of water always rises perpendicularly into 
the air, and the waters invariably overflow on the same 
side of the basin, which it is best to avoid at all times ; 
they run over the other side, it is true, but in irregular 
streams, of slender volume, which are so little dangerous 
that one can stand at forty paces from them in perfect 
safety during the most violent eruptions. The explosions 
are always preceded by a low rumbling, which is no sooner 
heard than one must hasten to the appointed spot at once, 
as the eruption follows immediately. The waters do not 
always spout into the air, and to witness a fine explosion, 
the traveller must sometimes wait for several days. 

A French savant^ M. P. Geimard, has generously pro- 
vided a shelter for those who came after him, in two large 
tents which he left behind, one here and the other at Thing- 
valla ; a piece of thoughtfulness for which all who are de- 
tained for any length of time at this place must be par- 
ticularly thankful. The peasant who points out the won- 
ders of the Geiser has this tent under his care, and receives 
a compensation of a few florins for attending to it. 

It was put in order for me by eleven o'clock, when all 
took their leave and I was left alone. 

For fear of missing an explosion, it is customary to 
watch during the whole night. An occasional vigil would 
present no great difficulty to many travellers, but for me it 
was a serious undertaking. However, there was no remedy, 
for an Iceland peasant is not to be depended upon, and few 
of them would be roused by an outbreak of Hecla itself. 

I sat either beneath my tent, or in front of it, listening 
with stretched attention for the signs T had been told to 


expect. Towards midnight the hour for spirits I heard 
a few dull sounds, like those of a distant cannon, and rush- 
ing from the tent, I waited for the subterranean rumblings 
and the trembling and splitting of the earth, which, accord- 
ing to the books I had read, were the forerunners of an 
eruption. I could hardly defend myself from a paroxysm 
of fear ; it is no slight thing to be alone, at midnight, in 
such a scene. And many of my friends will perhaps re- 
member how often I told them before my departure, that if 
my courage failed me any where during my travels in Ice- 
land, it would be when I spent a solitary night at the 

The low rumblings were repeated thirteen times at very 
short intervals, the basin overflowed after each noise, and 
nearly emptied itself of its waters, the sounds appearing to 
proceed from their violent ebullition rather than from any 
subterranean commotion. In a minute and a half the whole 
was over. The waters no longer overflowed the basin and 
caldron, which remained nearly full ; and, disappointed in 
every respect, I returned to my tent. This phenomenon 
was repeated every two or three hours ; but I heard nothing 
further during my first watch, nor all the next day and 
night. . 

As soon as I had become familiar with these periodical 
outbreaks, I allowed myself to fall into a light slumber 
during the period which elapsed between them, or else 
amused myself by visiting the different springs, in hopes of 
discovering the boiling mud or the colored sources which 
have been described by travellers. 

All the hot springs lie within a circle of eight or nine 
hundred paces ; a few are well worthy of notice, but most 
of them presented nothing very remarkable to my observa- 
tion. They are situated in the corner of an extensive 


plain at the foot of a hill, behind which arises a chain of 
mountains. The valley is well grown with grass, excepting 
in the immediate vicinity of the springs, where the vegeta- 
tion is somewhat thinner. Huts are plentifully scattered 
about, and the nearest could not have been more than seven 
or eight hundred paces from the springs. 

Of the larger basins and caldrons I counted twelve ; 
and the number of small ones was still greater. 

Among these fountains, the most remarkable is one 
called the Strokker. which boils and bubbles with extra- 
ordinary violence in a basin about twenty feet deep ; it 
frequently starts up and throws a spout into the air, some- 
times as high as forty feet, the outbreaks lasting occasion- 
ally more than half an hour. I was not so fortunate as to 
behold one of the finest eruptions, although I witnessed 
many, for the highest I saw did not rise above thirty feet, 
and none lasted more than fifteen minutes. The Strokker 
is the only spring besides the Greiser which must be ap- 
proached with caution. The eruptions often succeed each 
other with great rapidity, although an interval of several 
hours will sometimes occur between them ; they are not 
preceded by any noise. There is another spring which 
leaps perpetually, but only to the height of three or four 
feet ; and one, which lies in a caldron of moderate width, 
presents in general a deceptive appearance of perfect tran- 
quillity, which is sometimes interrupted by a loud roar, 
when it boils and bubbles, throwing up at the same time a 
number of little jets, which do not rise above the caldron. 
In some of the basins I heard a rumbling, not unlike a low 
bellowing, but saw no water and little steam. 

Two of the most remarkable springs which are perhaps 
to be seen in the world, lie directly above the Geiser, in 
two openings separated by a wall of rock, which does not 


rise above the level of the ground, however, but merely 
penetrates beneath the surface. The water boils very 
gently, and has an even, measured flow. The extraordinary 
beauty of these springs consists in their wonderful trans- 
parency and clearness. All the prominent points and 
corners, the varied outline of the cavities, and the different 
holes, can be distinguished far within the depths, till the 
eye is lost in the darkness of the abyss ; and the singular 
play of light upon the rocks lends an additional charm to 
the spot, which bears a resemblance to fairy-land. It is il- 
lumined by a shade of soft, pale green and blue, like a 
Greek fire, which only reaches a few inches from the wall, 
leaving the waters beyond as transparent as ever, but perfect- 
ly colorless. The light has the appearance of being reflected 
from the rock ; but as I did not believe this to be the case. 
I took the trouble to visit the spring at all hours, when the 
sun was shining brightly, and when it was obscured by 
clouds, and even after it had set ; but the illumination re- 
mained constantly the same, and this supernatural play of 
colors was always to be seen. 

The spring is covered by a thin sheet of rock, sufficiently 
strong to permit a very near approach to its margin, where 
the peculiar beauty of its transparent waters, and the magic 
effect of the light, is seen to the greatest advantage. I 
thought of Schiller's Diver when I stood on this spot, and 
fancied I could see the goblet on one of the jagged points, 
and behold the monster arise from the depths of the cavity. 
No better place could be selected to read that fine poem. 

I did not see, as I had expected, a number of caldrons 
containing boiling mud or colored matter ; but merely 
found one small basin in which there was a substance of a 

-"wish red, rather thicker than water, and a little spring 
.irty brown, which I should have overlooked entirely. 


if I had not been so diligently on the look-out for every 
thing of the kind. 

At last, after waiting till the second day of my sojourn 
at the G-eiser. the long-desired explosion took place on the 
27th of June, at half-past nine in the morning. The peas- 
ant, who came twice a day to inquire if I had yet seen an 
eruption, was with me when the first dull sounds which an- 
nounced the event were heard. We hurried to the spot, 
and as the waters boiled over as usual, and the noise died 
away, I thought I was doomed to disappointment again ; 
but the last tones were just expiring when the explosion 
suddenly took place. I have really no words to do justice 
to this magnificent spectacle, which once to behold in a 
lifetime is enough. 

It infinitely surpassed all my expectations. The waters 
were spouted with great power and volume ; column rising 
above column, as if each were bent on outstripping the 
others. After I had recovered in some degree from my 
first astonishment, I looked round at the tent how small, 
how diminutive it seemed, compared to those pillars of 
water ! And yet it was nearly twenty feet high ; it was 
lying rather lower, it is true, than the basin of the Geiser ; 
but tent might have been piled on tent, yes, by my reck- 
oning, which may not have been perfectly accurate, how- 
ever, five or six, one above the other, would not have 
reached the elevation of these jets, the largest of which I 
think I can affirm, without any exaggeration, to have risen 
at least to the height of a hundred feet, and to have been 
three or four feet in diameter. 

Fortunately, I had looked at my watch when the first 
rumbling was heard, for I should certainly have forgotten 
to do so during the explosion, and by the calculation I 
made when it was over. I found that it lasted nearly four 


minutes the actual outbreak occupying more than half 
that time. 

When this wonderful scene was ended, the peasant went 
with me to examine the basin and caldron ; we could ap- 
proach very near them without the least danger ; but there 
was nothing farther to be seen. The waters had entirely 
disappeared from the basin, into which we entered, and ; 
walked close up to the caldron, where they had also sunk 
to the depth of seven or eight feet,, though they were still 
boiling and bubbling with great violence. 

I broke off a few pieces of crust from the interior of 
the basin and caldron with a hammer ; those from the first 
were white, and the others brown. I tasted the water, 
which had no unpleasant flavor and can contain but little 
sulphur ; the steam is also free from any sulphurous smell. 

In order to ascertain how long it would be before the 
basin and caldron were full again, I returned to the spot 
every thirty minutes, and found that for the first hour I 
could still stand within the basin ; but at my next visit, 
the caldron was completely filled and on the point of run- 
ning over. As long as the water remained in the caldron 
it boiled furiously, but the ebullition subsided as it flowed 
into the basin, and when the latter was full there was only 
an occasional bubble to be seen. 

After the expiration of two hours, it was precisely 
twelve o'clock, the basin was nearly full to the brim, and 
I was standing near it, when the waters became violently 
agitated again, and the distant rumblings were once more 
heard. I had barely time to spring back, when the jets 
burst forth ; they continued to play as long as the sounds 
lasted, and were fuller than those of the former explosion, 
which was perhaps in consequence of their height being 
rather less it was hardly more than forty or fifty feet. 

THE GE1SEK. 143 

After the eruption, the basin and caldron were about as full 
as they were before. 

I had now witnessed two explosions of the Geiser, and 
felt amply compensated for all my watchfulness. But I 
was so fortunate as to see two other outbreaks, which varied 
a little from the former ones. At seven in the evening, 
the jets rose again to a greater height than at noon, throw- 
ing up some stones, which looked like black specks in the 
frothy waters ; and on the third night the basin was filled 
with waves, which tossed wildly over each other, but did 
not spout up any streams into the air. The waters over- 
flowed the margin, and an immense mass of steam arose, 
which was driven by the wind towards the spot where I 
stood, and wrapped me in a thick cloud, which prevented 
my seeing more than a few feet before me. I could per- 
ceive no odor, and felt no other inconvenience than a slight 
degree of heat from the steam. 

June, %8tb. This morning I was informed that one of 
the princes of Holland, who had lately arrived at Reik- 
javick with a large suite, in a fine frigate of war, was about 
to visit the Geiser, and I determined to hasten from the 
place at once. 

My horses were ordered at nine o'clock ; but half an 
hour before my departure I had the good fortune to behold 
another eruption, which was almost as fine as the first. I 
went down into the basin, which was again entirely emptied, 
and took leave of the Geiser at the very brink of its caldron, 
which had sunk, as on the former occasion, to the depth of 
six or seven feet. 

During the three nights and two days which I spent in 
the immediate vicinity of these wonderful springs, I watched 
with the closest attention for every minute particular of 


their outbreaks, of which I saw five in all ; and I must de 
clare, that the descriptions of the G-eiser which I had read 
in various books are by no means correct ; as I never, foi 
instance, heard any greater uproar than what I have already 
mentioned in the course of my narrative, and never felt the 
least symptom of an earthquake, although during one of 
the explosions I even put my ear to the ground. 9 

It is really singular how blindly some people will re- 
peat what they hear ; and how others again will permit 
their excited fancies to see and hear what does not actually 
occur ; while not a few travellers will not scruple to add 
even a downright falsehood to the tale. I met at the house 
of Mr. Moller, the apothecary at Reikjavick, an officer of 
the French frigate, who asserted, as an instance of what I 
mean, that " he had ridden directly into the crater of Mount 
Vesuvius." Doubtless he was far from suspecting there was 
any one in the company who was likely to contradict him, 
But nothing provokes me so much as a deliberate invention 
of this nature, and I could not help asking him how he 
could possibly have accomplished such a feat ; for I had 
also been to Vesuvius, and was probably as reckless of 
danger as he was, but I had been compelled to leave my 
donkey when I reached the top of the mountain and ad- 
vance into the crater on foot." At this he was a little em- 
barrassed, and explained himself, saying he ' : only meant 
us to understand he had ridden nearly into the crater ;" 
and yet I would wager that he has told the same story 
many a time, and ended by believing it himself. 

Before I take my departure from the G-eiser, I must 
beg the indulgence of my reader while I relate a few little 
incidents which happened to me while I was there j for such 
trifles are sometimes of interest when they relate to a 
country so little known, and the most correct opinion can 


often be formed of the peculiar habits of a people from very 
insignificant occurrences of this nature. 

I have already spoken of my drunken cicerone ; it is 
still a mystery -to me how he managed to conduct me in 
safety over so many dangerous places ; and if he had not 
been the only guide to be procured. I should have hesitated 
a great while before I trusted myself to his care. After he 
had put my tent in order, he brought a pillow and blanket 
to make a bed for me on the moist ground ; but, good luck 
to him ! they added very little to my comfort. A small 
worm crawled out of the pillow, which I seized at first as a 
valuable addition to my collection of specimens ; but to my 
horror, I suddenly discovered, on a closer investigation, 
that it was a maggot ; and as it was soon followed by a 
number of others, of course I threw the pillow and blanket 
immediately out of the tent. 

Cleanliness is a virtue which is absolutely unknown to 
the Icelanders ; their habits are all nasty to an incredible 
degree. A little girl of twelve years old, who brought my 
supply of cream and fresh water while I was here, once 
took the stopper from the decanter in my presence, and 
after wiping the cream from it with her tongue, was on 
the point of returning it to the decanter, when I prevented 

She would often sit for hours at a time by my side, and 
it sometimes happened that the vermin in her head were 
rather troublesome, when she would coolly hunt them out, 
and after looking at them quite composedly, very likely 
throw them alive on the floor. On this point, the Green- 
landers have a decided advantage, for they devour the lit- 
tle creatures, and put a stop at once to all danger of inheriting 
them. The Icelanders are also entirely devoid of every 
idea and feeling of propriety. It is perfectly impossible to 


relate many of the disgusting practices to which I was a 

I cannot believe that this people was once renowned for 
its civilization, its opulence, and its valor. The Arabs and 
Bedouins are far superior to the inhabitants of this islandj 
in my opinion, in a sense of decency and refinement. 

We rode to-day to Skalholt, which is six miles from the 
G-eiser ; for the first mile we retraced our steps over the 
road by which we came, and then turning to the left, we 
crossed the whole beautiful long valley which contains the 
springs, whose columns of steam were visible from this side 
at a distance of several miles. The road was only good 
when it ran along the sides of the hills and hillocks ; in the 
plain it was generally swampy and full of water, and every 
trace of a path was often lost in the soft soil where we rode, 
in fear of sinking in at every step. 

No excuse can be made for the indolence of the Ice- 
land peasantry; if they would but unite and take the 
trouble to drain the marshes through which we passed to- 
day, they would be well rewarded for their pains, as even in 
their present state the swamps are well covered with grass, 
which grows luxuriantly on the declivities wherever the 
waters can run off; and meadow-flowers, herbs and clover, 
are also found there. On these slopes there are generally 
a few cottages. 

Before we reached the little hamlet of Thorfastadir, 
Hecla was already visible in the distance, surrounded by 
fine jokuls. Here I witnessed a funeral. When I entered 
the church, I found the mourners in the act of comforting 
themselves with a drink of brandy ; which is against the 
regulations, it is true, but if nobody ever broke the laws, 
where would be the use of a judge ? Doubtless the Ice- 


landers reason thus, or they would not be guilty of such a 
misdemeanor. When the priest arrived, a psalm or prayer 
was screamed, under his direction, by a chosen number of 
the congregation at the top of their voices, till the perform- 
ers became very much heated and completely out of breath; 
but as the chant was in the Icelandic tongue, I could not 
understand a word of its meaning. The priest next stood 
by the coffin, which for want of room was resting on the 
back of the seats, and read in a loud tone a prayer which 
lasted more than half an hour. This terminated the ser- 
vices at the church, and the body was then borne to the 
grave, which was the deepest I have ever seen. When the 
coffin was lowered, earth was thrown upon it three times by 
the priest, while the mourners looked on without taking 
any further part in the ceremonies. I observed four skulls, 
several bones, and a piece of a decayed coffin among the 
earth, all of which were shovelled into the new grave and 
trodden down by the assistants, when a mound was raised 
and sodded at once with turf prepared for the purpose, the 
whole being accomplished in an incredibly short space of 

The little village of Skalholt, which was our destination 
to-day, once claimed the same station in a religious point of 
view which Thingvalla held in the political world. Here 
was established the first bishoprick, after the introduction 
of Christianity, in the year 1098; and the former church 
in this village is said to have been not only large but hand- 
some. Skalholt is now a wretched hamlet, with a wooden 
church, which could not accommodate more than a hundred 
people, and two or three huts. It does not even possess a 
priest of its own, but is under the spiritual care of the 
pastor of Thorfastadir. 


Immediately after my arrival I was invited to examine 
all that is left of the past greatness of the place ; and I 
was first shown an oil painting which hangs in the church, 
and is said to be a likeness of Thorlakur, the earliest 
bishop of Skalholt, whose austere and pious life has caused 
his memory to be held in the greatest reverence. 

Preparations were then made to remove the high steps 
in front of the altar, and several planks were displaced 
from the floor. I looked on with great expectations, and 
thought I should certainly be required to descend into the 
vault where the embalmed remains of the bishop were pre- 
served ; and I must confess that I did not feel much elated 
at the prospect, when I reflected that I was to pass the 
night in the church, and perhaps directly above the saintly 
skeleton. I had been already too much in the company of 
the dead to-day, and could not rid myself of the foul odors 
I had inhaled at Thorfastadir ;* and I was therefore 
greatly relieved when, instead of the supposed relic, I only 
saw a marble slab, on which were inscribed, as usual, the 
life, death, &c., of the saint. 

An old embroidered robe was next exhibited, and a 
plain gold chalice, both dating from the same period ; after 
which we went down into what is called the lumber-room, 
under the church, and only divided from the lower part of 
it by a few boards. Here are kept the clock and organ, 
when the parish happens to possess either, besides provisions 

* The practice prevails in Iceland as well as in Denmark, of leaving 
the dead unburied for a week ; and it is easy to imagine that when a 
corpse has lain for eight days in summer in a warm, close hovel, it 
requires the organs of smell of an Icelander to attend the funeral ser- 
vices from beginning to end without disgust ; though I will not affirm 
that my feelings on that occasion were not somewhat under the COD 
trol of rny imagination. 


and utensils of various kinds. A good sized chest was 
opened, and when some large lumps of tallow, shaped like 
cheeses, had been removed, the library came to light, where 
I made some interesting discoveries. Among a number of 
very old books in the Iceland dialect, I came across three 
thick folios which I could read with great ease, for they 
were in German, and contained the doctrines, letters, epis- 
tles, &c., of Luther. 

I had now seen every thing, and could allow myself to 
bestow a little attention upon my bodily wants. I asked 
for some hot water to make my coffee, when the united 
population of the village immediately collected around the 
door, where they planted themselves no doubt with the view 
of increasing their knowledge of human nature by a close 
study of my habits and actions. But I soon shut them out, 
and prepared a delightful bed for myself on some sheep's 
wool, which had attracted my attention the moment I 
entered the church ; a long partition was entirely filled 
with it, and here I settled myself with my pillow, and lay 
ou as soft and warm a couch as could be desired. In the 
morning I shook up the wool, and it would have been im- 
possible to tell in what particular spot I had passed the 

The most amusing part of this adventure was the 
curiosity manifested by the community, who rushed in as 
usual the next morning when I unfastened the door. The 
first question they put to each other, was : " Kvar hefur 
hun sovid?" (where has she slept?) and I think they 
imagined from my spending a night entirely alone in a 
church, surrounded only by the dead, that I was a sor- 
ceress or half a ghost myself, and would have been glad to 
know where such a curious creature had been stowed away. 


When I saw their puzzled countenances I was obliged to 
turn away my own face to conceal my laughter. 

June %Qth. Yery early the next morning I continued 
my journey. At a short distance from Skalholt we came 
to the river Thiorsa, a rather deep and very rapid stream, 
which we crossed in a boat ; the horses swimming after us. 
It is often very difficult to force these animals into such a, 
torrent ; they know at once that they must swim across, 
and the guide and boatman cannot leave the shore till they 
have been driven into the stream, when they must still be 
pursued with the whip or stones, and frightened by loud 
cries and noises, or they will be apt to turn about even 

After riding for about three miles through a marshy 
country we reached the fine water-fall of the Huitha, less 
remarkable for its height, which is not more than fifteen or 
twenty feet, than for its breadth and the volume of its 
waters. The stream is divided into three distinct falls, by 
a few fragments of rock lying on the brink of the precipice, 
which are reunited, however, a little lower down ; the bed 
of the river as well as its shores are lava. The waters 
foam to such a snowy whiteness, that when the sun shines 
upon them it does not require a very strong imagination to 
fancy that the whole stream is milk. 

A short quarter of a mile beyond this fall we crossed 
the Huitha, which is one of the largest rivers in Iceland, 
in a skiff. The road then led through fields, rather less 
swampy than the preceding ones, to a large current of lava, 
which reminded me of my near approach to the terrible 
fire streams of Hecla, although I 'had not passed over any 
part of the country, during all my travels in Iceland, so 


free from lava as the distance from here to the (reiser ; and 
even in this neighborhood the streams had apparently 
spared many a fair meadow, frequently parting into two 
branches, and leaving the smiling fields between them un- 
touched. But as we advanced we soon came to a region 
where the destructive torrents had swept every thing before 
them with irresistible violence, carrying death and annihi- 
lation wherever they went. Our road was painful and 
laborious, in consequence of the dark sand by which the 
plains were covered, and the steep hillocks which lay be- 
tween them, till we reached the little village of Struvellix, 
where we stopped and allowed our poor animals to rest for 
a few hours. 

Here we met a great assemblage of men and horses.* 
It was Sunday, and being a bright, warm morning, divine 
service was very numerously attended in the handsome 
church. When it was over I saw a pleasant country scene. 
The people streamed from the church I counted ninety- 
six, an extraordinary multitude for Iceland, and separat- 
ing into groups, they chatted and laughed, not forgetting to 
moisten their throats occasionally with a little brandy, of 
which they had, of course, a stock on hand. They then 
collected their horses, and a general leave-taking began ; 
kisses rained on all sides, as if the poor creatures could 
not feel sure of ever meeting again. 

All over Iceland the universal mode of salutation, at 
meeting and parting, is a loud kiss a practice which is far 
from agreeable to the non-resident who allows his eyes to 
glance at the hideous dirty faces, the snuffy noses of the 
old, and the of the children. But all this is dis- 
regarded by the Icelander. On the present occasion the 

* Every one rides in Iceland. 


priest was kissed by every individual of his congregation, 
and he embraced each one of them in return ; they then 
kissed one another, without any regard to sex or station ; 
and I was not a little astonished to see niy guide, who was 
a common countryman, salute half a dozen daughters of 
the Sysselmann,* or the wife and children of the pastor, 
or the Sysselmann, the priest or the Provostf himself, and 
to find his greeting most cordially returned by them all. 
Every country has its customs. 

The ceremonies at the church usually begin about noon, 
and last two or three hours. The animation at breaking 
up is owing to the fact of there being no inn nor stable 
to put up the horses, which are always left in the open air. 

"When the service was over I went to see the priest, 
Mr. Horfuson, who was so good as to offer to bear me com- 
pany for a few miles to the village of Salsun, in order to 
inquire for a guide to conduct me to Mount Hecla. I was 
particularly glad to have him with me on account of a 
dangerous and rapid stream we were to pass, which was so 
deep that it reached to the breasts of our horses ; and 
although we held our feet as high as we could, they were 
thoroughly wet before we reached the opposite shore. 
This is as disagreeable an incident as can be well ima- 
gined ; the horse swims rather than walks, and his gait 
produces a most unpleasant sensation. I did not know 
where to look ; if my eyes fell on the river it made me 
dizzy, and if on the shores it was not much better, for they 
seemed to be in motion in consequence of the horse's being 

* The officer who collects the royal revenues and superintends the 
affairs of the crown in the particular syssel, or district, under his 

f A dignitary in the church, who has the charge of one of the 
ecclesiastical districts into which the diocese of Iceland is divided. 


carried away by the force of the current. To my great 
comfort the priest did not leave me, and rode close by my 
side to hold me up if I should lose my seat. Fortunately 
I stood this fiery no this watery trial ; and when we had 
reached the other bank, Mr. H. made me observe how far 
we had been borne by the stream from the place where we 

The valley in which lie Salsun and Hecla contains the 
most conspicuous contrasts, and offers one of those pictures 
which are only to be seen in Iceland. On one hand are 
beautiful fields spread with herbage of a velvet green ; and 
on the other, hills of black and shining lava. The mea- 
dows are traversed by lava-streams and patches of sand. 
Hecla is known to pour forth the blackest lava and the 
blackest sand ; and as every thing we now saw had flowed 
from that one source, it is easy to imagine how singular 
must have been the effect. A single hill to the left was 
of a shade of brown, and entirely covered with sand and 
lava of the same color ; it is very much sunken in at the 
centre, and seems to have been once a mighty crater. 

Hecla itself is inclosed in a circle of lava-hills, and 
towers high above them all. It is surrounded by several 
glaciers, whose dazzling snow-fields extend to a great dis- 
tance, and have never been trod by a human foot. Several 
of the side-walls are also covered with snow. On the left 
of the valley near Salsun, and at the foot of a hill, is a 
pretty lake, on whose shores reposed a flock of sheep. Not 
far from thence is a fine hill perfectly solitary and severed 
from the rest, as if it were banished and discarded by its 
neighbors. The whole of this landscape is completely 
Icelandic, and so peculiar and striking that it will be im- 
pressed for ever upon my recollection. 

The little village of Salsun lies at the foot of the first 


rise which leads to Hecla ; but it was not in sight till we 
were very near it. When we arrived there my first step 
was to secure a guide, and make every preparation to 
ascend the mountain. The guide was to find a horse for 
me, and accompany my former conductor and myself, for 
which service he demanded the outrageous price of five dol- 
lars and two marks, or in our money five florins and twenty 
kreuzers,* C. M ; reckoning his own trouble to be worth 
five florins, and only counting twenty kreuzers for the 
horse. I am sure he could live a month on the former 
sum. But what could I do ? There was no other guide 
to be had, and he knew it well ; so I was obliged to accede 
to his terms. When it was all settled my kind protector 
took his leave, wishing me good luck in my difficult en- 

I then looked about me for a place to spend the night. 
Alas ! my only choice was a loathsome hole containing a 
chest somewhat shorter than myself, which was to be my 
bedstead ; and near it hung a half-spoiled fish, which had 
already so poisoned the air of the room that I could hardly 
breathe, and was fain to leave the door ajar, although by 
so doing I appeared to encourage the inroads of the inhab- 
itants, who flocked as usual to look at me. Truly a de- 
lightful preparation against the fatigues of the morrow ! 

The whole region at the foot of Hecla, and especially 
at this place, appears to be undermined, and the heavy foot- 
steps of the peasants were echoed in hollow, menacing 
tones, such as I had never heard at Vesuvius or any where 
else. These sounds appeared very awful to me when I was 
alone at night, shut up in my dark retreat. 

My Hecla guide I call him so to distinguish him from 

* Two dollars and fifty-six cents. Tr. 


the one who had accompanied me from Reikjavick an- 
nounced to me that we must be off by two o'clock. I 
readily agreed, though I felt very certain that it would be 
five before we were on our way ; and so it proved. In fact 
it was past six when we were completely ready to set out. 
Besides a store of bread and cheese, a bottle of water for 
myself and one of brandy for the guide, we also provided 
ourselves with long sticks, ending in a sharp iron point, 
which we were to lean upon and use to sound the snow 
before we ventured to tread on it. 

It was a beautiful warm morning, and we galloped 
gayly over the meadows and the adjacent sand plains. This 
fine weather was considered a very favorable omen by my 
guide, who told me that Mr. Geimard, the French natu- 
ralist already mentioned, had been delayed three days by a 
storm before he could ascend the mountain ; this was nine 
years ago, and no one had made the attempt since that 
time. A Danish prince who travelled through Iceland a 
few years since, had been here indeed, but for some unex- 
plained reason he had left the place without undertaking to 
visit Hecla. 

The road led at first, as I have already said, through 
rich fields, and then across the patches of black sand which 
are surrounded on all sides by streams, hills and hillocks 
of lava, whose fearful masses gradually approach each 
other, and frequently afford no other passage than a narrow 
defile, where we scrambled over the blocks and piles with 
scarcely a spot to rest our feet. The lava rolled around 
and behind us, and it was necessary to be constantly on the 
watch to prevent ourselves from stumbling or to avoid com- 
ing in contact with the rolling rocks. But the danger was 
even greater in the gorges filled with snow already softened 
by the heat of the season ; where we frequently broke 


through, or what was worse, slid backwards at every step 
almost as far as we had advanced. I do not believe there 
is another mountain in the world whose ascent offers as 
many difficulties as this one. 

After a toilsome struggle of three hours and a half we 
reached the place where it became necessary to leave the 
horses behind ; which I should have done long before, as I 
felt compassion for the poor animals, if my Hecla guide 
would have allowed it 5 but he maintained that there were 
still spots where we might need them, and advised me, 
moreover, to ride as long as possible in order to reserve 
my strength for what was still before me. And he was 
right ; I hardly think I could have completed the whole 
distance on foot ; for when I thought I had attained the 
last peak, I still found streams and hillocks between me 
and my goal, which seemed constantly more remote than 
ever. My guide assured me that he had never led any one 
so far on horseback, and I readily believe it. The walking 
was already horrible but to ride was fearful ! 

From every height new scenes of the most melancholy 
desolation appeared in sight ; the whole prospect was rigid 
and inanimate, and burnt, black lava was spread around us 
wherever we looked. It was not without a painful sensa- 
tion that I gazed about me, and saw nothing but the im- 
measurable chaos of this stonny desert. 

We had still three heights to climb ; they were the 
last, but also the most perilous. The road led abruptly 
over the rocks by which the whole summit of the mountain 
was covered ; I had more falls than I could count, and 
frequently tore my hands on the sharp points of lava. It 
was. to be sure, a terrible expedition. 

The dazzling whiteness of the snow was almost blinding 
contrasted with the shining black lava along side of it. 

HEGLA. 157 

When I had to cross a field of snow I did not venture to 
look at the lava, for I had tried it once and could hardly 
see in consequence. I was snow blind. 

At last the summit was attained, after two more hours 
of laborious climbing, and I stood upon the highest peak of 
Hecla ; but I looked in vain for a crater there was no 
trace of any to be found ; at which I was all the more as- 
tonished, as I had read minute accounts of it in several 
books of travels. 

I walked around the whole summit of the mountain, 
and clambered to the jokul which lies next to it, but still I 
saw no opening or crevice, no sunken wall, or any sign 
whatever, in fact, of a crater. Much lower down on the 
sides of the mountain I found some wide rents and chinks, 
from whence the streams of lava must have flowed. The 
height of this mountain is said to be 4,300 feet. 

The sun had been obscured during the last hour of our 
ascent, and thick clouds now rushed down upon us from 
the neighboring glaciers, which concealed the whole pros- 
pect from our sight, and prevented our distinguishing any 
thing for more than ten paces before us. After awhile they 
dissolved, fortunately not in rain, but in snow, which soon 
covered the dark, crisp lava with large and innumerable 
flakes ; they did not melt, and the thermometer showed 1 
of cold.* 

Gradually the clear and inimitable blue of the heavens 
reappeared, and the sun once more rejoiced us with his 
presence. I remained on the top of the mountain till the 
clouds had opened in the distance and afforded a welcome 
and extensive view, which I fear my pen is much too feeble 
to describe. I despair of conveying to my readers a dis- 

* 29| Fahrenheit TV. 


tinct idea of the immense waste which lay displayed before 
me, with its accumulated masses of lava, and its peculiar 
appearance of lifeless desolation. I seemed to stand in the 
midst of an exhausted fire. The blocks were piled in heaps 
above each other, till they formed high hills ; the valleys 
were choked by vast streams of rock, whose length and 
breadth I was not able to distinguish, although the course 
of the last eruption could be plainly traced among them. 

I was surrounded by the most dreadful ravines, caves, 
streams, hills and valleys ; I could hardly understand how 
I had reached this point, and was seized with a feeling of 
horror at the thought which forced itself upon me, that 
perhaps I might never be able to find my way out of this 
terrible labyrinth of ruin. 

Here, on the highest peak of Hecla, I could look down 
far and wide upon the uninhabited land, the image of a 
torpid nature, passionless, inanimate, and yet sublime ; 
an image which once seen can never be forgotten, and the 
remembrance of which will prove an ample compensation 
for all the toils and difficulties I had endured. A whole 
world of glaciers, mountains of lava, fields of snow and ice, 
rivers and miniature lakes, were included in that magnifi- 
cent prospect ; and the foot of man had never yet ventured 
within those regions of gloom and solitude. What must 
have been the fury of the resistless element which has pro- 
duced all these effects ! And is its rage now silenced for 
ever will it be satisfied with the ruin it has worked or 
does it only slumber like the hundred-headed Hydra, to 
burst forth anew with redoubled strength, and lay waste 
those few cultivated spots which are already scattered so 
sparingly throughout the land ? I thank my God that he 
has allowed me to see this chaos of his creation ; and I 
doubly thank him that my lot was cast in those fair plains 

HECLA. 159 

where the sun does more than divide the day from the 
night ; where it warms and animates plants and animals, 
and excites the heart of man to happiness and gratitude 
towards his Maker.* 

The Westmann Islands, which are said to be distinctly 
visible from Hecla, must have been hidden by the, clouds 
when I was there, for I could not perceive them at all. On 
our way up the mountain, I had frequently displaced the 
lava, either involuntarily when I fell, or purposely, in hopes 
of discovering some traces of heat ; but I was never suc- 
cessful in finding any spot which was even warm. The 
snow was a great annoyance to me, as it interfered with my 
researches on this point. Neither did I see any smoke, 
although my whole attention was fixed on the mountain for 
several hours, and from its summit I could overlook all 
that lay beneath me. 

On our way down, I found that the snow had not melted 
for the first five or six hundred feet. Below that distance 
the whole hill was smoking, which I attributed to the sud- 
den re-appearance of the sun, as my thermometer now 
showed 9 of heat.f I carefully examined the side of the 

* I cannot refrain from mentioning here a singular coincidence 
which occurred to me during my travels. In the year 1842, when I 
was at the foot of Etna, I found its dangerous crater at rest ; and it 
was not till some months afterwards, that it blazed up with new vio- 
lence. On my return to Keikjavick, I jestingly remarked that it 
would be singular if this Etna of the JS"orth should now pour forth 
another eruption ; and I had not been gone from Iceland five weeks 
before such an event actually occurred, and it broke out with greater 
fury than ever. This was the more remarkable, as there had been no 
eruption for eighty years, and Hecla had long been regarded as an ex- 
hausted crater. "Were I to find my way back to Iceland, I fear I 
should be received as a " bad prophetess," and it might go hard with 
me in consequence. 

f 52i Fahrenheit. TV. 


mountain and satisfied myself that the smoke did not pro- 
ceed from fire, as the soil was cold wherever it was seen. 

That peculiar glossy, coal-black, shining lava, which is 
never porous, is only found at Hecla and in its immediate 
vicinity ; but the other varieties, jagged, porous and vitri- 
fied, are also seen there, though they are always black, as 
well as the sand which covers one side of the mountain. 
As the distance from this volcano increases, the lava loses 
that remarkable jet-like color, and assumes a shade re- 
sembling an iron-gray, or perhaps a little lighter, though it 
sometimes retains the gloss and brilliancy of the black. 

After a very fatiguing descent, I reached Salsun again, 
having been absent twelve hours ; and I was on the point 
of returning, somewhat discouraged, to my former quarters, 
shuddering at the thought of spending another night there, 
when my guide surprised me by inquiring if I did not 
wish to ride back to Struvellix to-day 1 The horses were 
sufficiently rested, and there I might find a comfortable 
room in the house of the priest. Quick as thought, every 
thing was gathered together, and in a few minutes I was 
on horseback again. When I rode up to the Rangaa, I 
crossed it this second time without the least alarm, al- 
though I had no longer a protector by my side. Such 
is our nature ; dangers once passed have no longer the 
power to terrify us ; we meet them with scarcely a thought, 
and are only surprised to remember how much uneasiness 
we may have suffered at first. 

Near this river I observed a very wonderful spectacle ; 
no less than five small trees standing together in a meadow. 
Their stems were crooked and knotty, it is true, but they 
were about five or six feet high, and perhaps four or five 
inches in diameter. 

My guide was right in assuring me that I should find a 


nice little room and a good bed at the parsonage. Mr. 
Horfuson is one of the most worthy men I have ever known ; 
he took the greatest pains to gratify me, and go beyond my 
wishes in every respect. I owe him my particular thanks 
for several minerals, and an Iceland book dating from the 
year 1601. May he be rewarded for all his kindness to me. 

July \st. We now returned to the river Huitha, and 
were ferried across, when our road branched off in a new 
direction, through beautiful valleys, generally overgrown 
with grass, which was unfortunately mixed up with so much 
moss, that these great plains do not afford any good forage, 
and can only boast of the merit of offering an agreeable 
variety to the eye of the traveller. They are free from 
marshes, however, and dry throughout. 

The valley in which lies Hjalmholm, whither we turned 
our steps to-day, is traversed by a great lava-stream, which 
has been so considerate as not to choke up the whole plain, 
but allows a space for a pretty little rivulet, called the 
Elvas, and a few meadows and eminences, the latter being 
the site of an unusual number of huts. In fact, this valley 
was the most populous of any I had yet seen in Iceland. 

Hjalmholm is situated on one of the heights. The 
Sysselmann of the Rangaarsyssel has his residence here, 
which was the largest and handsomest house I had seen 
since I had left Reikjavick. I was most kindly and hos- 
pitably received by his daughters, he himself being absent 
in attendance at the Althing, which was then assembled at 
the capital. 

"We chatted and talked a great deal. I endeavored to 
make as grand a display as possible of my knowledge of 
the Danish language, and probably committed a great many 
ridiculous blunders, for my young companions often found 


it rather difficult to command their countenances. But I 
did not allow myself to be disconcerted, and generally 
joined in the laugh ; I produced the vocabulary which was 
my constant companion, and conversed more fluently than 
ever. My personal appearance, I regret to say, was not 
calculated to convey a very favorable idea of the attractions 
of my countrywomen, upon whose mercy I must throw my- 
self, assuring them that no one could deplore the circum- 
stance more sincerely than I did. But our worthy mother 
Nature is apt to deal rather spitefully with persons of my 
age, and sets a terrible example to youth in that respect ; 
instead of the regard and consideration we might with 
reason expect from her, she usually sides with the young 
folks, and gives the advantage to every child of sixteen 
years old over us venerable matrons. And this was not all ; 
the keen air and the rough winds, to which I had constantly 
been exposed of late, had made sad havoc with my face, which 
was more disfigured than it had ever been by the glowing 
heat of the East. I was very brown, my lips were chapped, 
and my nose was just beginning to rebel against its un- 
natural color, and being bent apparently on possessing a 
new and tender skin of dazzling white, it was in the act of 
shedding its old covering piecemeal. 

I was only redeemed in the eyes of my young hostesses 
by accidentally shoving back my hair rather farther than 
usual, when a lighter spot made its appearance, and they 
all exclaimed as if with one voice : " Hun er quit !" (she is 
white). I could not help laughing, and drew up my sleeve 
to prove to them that I did not actually belong to the Arab 

I was not a little surprised myself at a discovery which 
I made in this house. While I was rummaging the book- 
shelves of the Sysselmann. I found there Rotteck's Uni- 


versal History, a German dictionary, and several poems 
and other writings by different German authors. 

July Zd. "We had as little variety in our road to-day 
as on a former occasion from Kalmannstunga to Thing- 
valla ; then we rode through continued fields of lava, and 
here we saw nothing but morasses ; we had hardly left one 
behind when another presented itself before us. Still, even 
this marshy district was not entirely free from lava, and 
little patches of that rock occasionally rose like islets from 
the surrounding bogs. 

The prospect was gradually becoming less confined ; the 
glaciers disappeared from our view, and the high hills to- 
wards the left sank in the distance to the rank of hillocks, 
while those in our immediate neighborhood no longer ex- 
ceeded that height. After a ride of about two miles, we 
crossed the Elvas, a tolerably full stream, in a boat, and 
thence traced our careful steps over a narrow and very long 
dike, leading across a meadow which is entirely under 
water. Had we met a traveller here, I really do not know 
what we should have done, for it is equally dangerous to 
turn back or descend into the morass. Fortunately, one 
never meets any thing in Iceland. 

We then skirted the dark lava-hills and hillocks for 
several miles ; the rocks on these eminences are loose and 
tottering, and many a colossal fragment lay in the fields 
below, which must have been precipitated from their 
heights ; while others looked as if on the verge of rushing 
down, though we accomplished this dangerous pass without 
being eye-witnesses to such a spectacle. 

I frequently heard a dull rumbling in the hills, which 
sounded to me at first so much like distant thunder, that I 
looked round at the horizon in the expectation of behold 


ing the lightning and some threatening clouds ; but nothing 
of the kind was to be seen, and I then decided that the 
hollow sounds must have their origin very near me, and 
most probably in the hills. 

The high range to the left fades gradually from the 
prospect, and the river Elvas expands and parts into so 
many branches, that it bears a likeness to a large lake with 
a great number of islands, before it empties itself into the 
sea, which was now in sight. 

The valley of Reikum, like that of Reikholt, is the seat 
of a great many hot springs, which lie together in the plain, 
or among the heights, within a circumference of half a 
mile. When we had reached Reikum, I ordered my few 
effects to be immediately deposited in the church, and en- 
gaged a guide to conduct me at once to these boiling foun- 
tains. I found that although very numerous, there were 
but two worthy of my attention, and those two were among 
the most remarkable sources of this kind in the world. 
One is called the little Geiser, and the other the Arched 

The former has a caldron about three feet in diameter ; 
the water boils violently at the depth of two or three feet, 
and remains within those bounds till it begins to leap, when 
it throws up a full stream from twenty to forty feet into 
the air. 

I was not obliged to watch here as long as I had done 
at the great Geiser, but was so fortunate as to witness a 
fine eruption, at half-past eight o'clock, on the very evening 
of my arrival. It lasted for some time, and was tolerably 
uniform, the jet only sinking occasionally to be thrown up 
again with greater power than before. It did not subside 
entirely in the caldron for forty minutes. The stones we 
threw in were either rejected immediately, or else- shivered 


to fragments and cast up, at the end of a few seconds, to 
the height of twelve or fifteen feet. The column may have 
been from a foot to a foot and a half in diameter. My 
guide assured me that more than three explosions of this 
spring never occurred within the twenty-four hours, and 
consequently they do not happen every few minutes, as I 
had read in some book. I remained on the spot till mid- 
night, and saw no other outbreak. This spring may be 
aptly compared to the Strokker, with the single difference, 
that in the latter the water sinks much deeper into the 

The otherremarkable fountain, called the Arched Spring, 
is not far from the little Geiser, on the slope of a hill which 
we were obliged to climb. I have never seen such an ex- 
traordinary basin to any spring ; it possesses no caldron, 
but lies half open in a little grotto divided into various 
holes and cavities, and nearly surrounded by a circular 
wall, which gently leans above it for about two feet, and 
then rises perpendicularly for ten or twelve more. The 
spring is hardly ever at rest for a moment ; it rises rapidly, 
boils and throws up a thick spout, which dashes against the 
inclined wall and is scattered, before it streams up into the 
air, like an arched and outstretched fan. The height of 
this wonderful column is about twelve feet, and it describes 
an arc of fifteen or twenty feet, its breadth being perhaps 
from three to eight. The period of the eruption is often 
logger than that of repose, and when it is over the waters 
.ways sink for a few seconds into the cavity, affording a 
short glimpse of its conformation. But they soon mount 
again into the basin or grotto, boil, and are thrown up into 
another jet. 

I lingered for more than an hour at this wonderful 


spring, which is entirely peculiar of its kind, and afforded 
me far more pleasure than the little (reiser. 

There is still another, bearing the name of the roaring 
Geiser, which is nothing but an irregular hole, where the 
waters are heard to boil though they are never seen. The 
noise is quite insignificant. 

July 3d. Near Reikum we crossed the little rivulet 
which receives all these springs, where it forms a pretty 
fall. We then went up a hill in the neighborhood, and rode, 
for at least three miles, in an elevated plain, presenting in 
itself a very monotonous aspect, being entirely covered with 
waves of lava, but affording a varied and delightful pros- 
pect of the land and sea ; and as the latter lay stretched 
out before me, I saw what the clouds had invidiously 
concealed from my eyes at Hecla a fine range of hills in 
the distance, which I knew to be the Westrnann Islands. 
A few small houses lay at our feet, forming the little har- 
bor of Eierbach, not far from whence the Elvas flows into 
the sea. 

At the extremity of this table-land was a valley filled 
with lava, of that black and jagged kind which produces so 
very singular an effect ; it traversed the plain in a mighty 
current, and presented the appearance of a black lake shut 
in from the ocean by a ridge of the same color. 

We went on our way through this dark valley over 
fragments of rock, and patches of snow, through valleys and 
gorges, lava-fields and meadow-flats, by blackened hills and 
hillocks, till we reached Reikjavick, my head-quarters 
during my residence in Iceland. 

The whole country between the capital and Reikum, a 
distance of ten miles (German),* is perfectly uninhabited ; 

* Ninety English miles. Tr. 

A^ f MAT ED SVEXA. 167 

the only sign of life being the little pyramids of lava-stones 
piled up in the fields, to point out the road to the traveller ; 
and two sheds erected at different stations as a refuge dur- 
ing a winter journey. We met with a great many living 
creatures on this road, however, frequently passing cara- 
vans of fifteen or twenty horses. It was now July, and 
that month is the great period for trade and traffic in Ice- 
land. The country people then flock to Reikjavick from a 
distance of twenty miles or more in order to sell their 
produce, and provide themselves with the necessaries of 
life. The merchants and factors are hardly able to attend 
to them all ; they have not hands endugh to barter their 
goods or settle the accounts, which are often wound up 
for a year on such occasions. 

An unparalleled degree of animation prevails at Reikja- 
vick during this busy season. Numerous groups of men 
and horses are every where to be seen. Wares are loading 
or unloading in one direction ; and friends who have not 
met for a year or longer, are embracing in another. Some 
are taking their leave and others striking tljeir tents ;* 
here children are scuffling and tumbling about, and there 
staggers a drunkard, whose fruitless attempts to mount his 
horse you watch with some anxiety, expecting at every 
moment to see him roll over on the ground. 

Unfortunately this life and excitement lasts but five 
or six days ; the hay-harvest is at hand for the farmers, and 
the merchant must hasten to put order in his affairs and 
freight his ships, that he may sail for his distant haven be- 
fore the gales of the autumnal equinox set in. 

* Every countryman, in tolerable circumstances, who absents him- 
self from his own house for a few days, carries a little tent with him 
which he sets up wherever he may happen to stop. These tents are 
not more than three feet high, five or six feet long and three feet wide. 


From Reikjavick to Thingvalla, 10 miles. 

From Thingvalla to the Geiser, 8 " 

From the Geiser to Skalholt, 6 " 

From Skalholt to Salsun, 8 " 

From Salsun to Struvellix, 2 " 

From Struvellix to Hjalmholm, 6 " 

From Hjalmholm to Reikum, 7 " 

From Reikum to Reikjavick, 10 " 

57 miles.* 


During my travels in Iceland I had naturally many 
opportunities of becoming familiarly acquainted with the 
manners and habits of its people. I must confess that I 
was disposed to form a high opinion of the peasantry. I 
had read in the histories of the country that the inhabit- 
ants of this island had wandered from enlightened lands, 
whose science and civilization they had carried with them 
to the bleak shores of their new home ; and from the stress 
laid by the earlier travellers upon the simple and friendly 
manners of the people, and their truly patriarchal mode of 
life, as well as from' the well-known facts that every pea- 
sant in Iceland can read and write, and that no hut is with- 
out the Bible, and generally possesses other works of a re- 
ligious character, I was naturally inclined to regard the 
nation as one of the most refined and intellectual in Europe. 
These advantages seemed to be sufficiently secured by the 

* Two hundred and fifty-six and a half English miles. Tr. 


solitary lives of the Icelanders, the poverty of their soil, and 
their slight intercourse with foreigners. They have no large 
towns to furnish opportunities for extravagance and display, 
or offer temptations to crime. Strangers rarely find their 
way to the island, whose rude climate, sterility, and remote 
situation, present so many obstacles to the traveller, while 
its sublime and peculiar scenery does not compensate for 
the want of those advantages which generally draw the 

I believed, therefore, that I should find Iceland, as far 
as its population was concerned, a perfect Arcadia ; and re- 
joiced in my inmost soul at the thought of being an eye- 
witness to the primitive and pastoral state of things which 
prevailed there. When I first landed I was so overjoyed 
that I could have pressed every person I met to my heart ; 
but alas ! the scales soon fell from my eyes, and every 
thing struck me in a very different light. 

I have often grieved over my own want of imagination, 
a conspicuous trait in my character, which always dooms 
me to see things in a much more prosaic light than other 
travellers. I will not affirm that I am never wrong, but I 
possess at least the merit of stating what I have seen ex- 
actly as it appeared to me, and not embellishing my tale 
with the inventions of others. 

The want of courtesy and unfriendliness of the so-called 
" better classes." I have already alluded to. Of them I 
soon lost my preconceived good opinion ; and I next 
turned my attention to the working people about Reik- 
javick. The proverb which says, '''point d'argent, point 
de Suisse" may be applied with equal propriety to the peo- 
ple of this country. Never was there a truer word than 
" no money, no Icelander." 

It was hardly known, for instance, that a stranger ha- n 


arrived than I was assailed by a crowd of persons offering 
for sale the commonest kind of specimens, such as can be 
found any where ; for which a high price was always asked. 
At first I bought a great many of them from pure com- 
passion, or to get rid of my pursuers, and generally threw 
them away again immediately ; but I was soon compelled 
to stop making purchases, or I should have been besieged 
at all hours by a throng of every ago and sex. It was not 
with their wish to earn money by such an easy process 
that I found so much fault, but the effrontery with which 
they tried to impose upon me by exacting the highest price. 
For a beetle, that could be picked up under any stone, 
they would ask five kreuzers, C. M.,* the same for a snail, 
when thousands were lying about the coasts ; and for a 
common bird's egg, ten or twelve kreuzers. f It is true 
they would often take off two thirds of the price, if they 
found I refused to buy ; but this did not raise them much 
in my estimation, or go to prove that they were more than 
usually honest. The baker, at whose house I lived, men- 
tioned to me a striking instance of the national covetous- 
ness. He had hired a poor day-laborer to spread a coat 
of tar over his house. In the midst of his work the man 
had a chance to do another job, and without considering it 
worth while to ascertain if it were convenient for the baker 
to spare him for a few days, he went off, and did not return 
for a week to finish what he had begun, this conduct being 
all the more inexcusable as Mr. Bernhoft was in the habit 
of supplying his children twice a week with bread, and often 
gave them, butter too. 

I had the good fortune to experience something of the 
same nature myself. Mr. Knudson had engaged a guide 

* Four cents. TV. f Eight or ten cents. Tr. 

THEIR TH US T \ VOR Till NESS. 1 7 1 

for me, and one of my excursions was to begin in a few 
days, when the Stiftsamtmann. wishing to make a journey 
at the same time, sent for my conductor, who immediately 
agreed to accompany him, in the expectation of rather 
higher wages. He did not even take the trouble to come 
and make his excuses to me, but merely sent me word the 
day before I intended to set off, that he was sick and could 
not go with me. I could relate innumerable instances of 
the same kind, which are by no means creditable to the 

But I still allowed myself to think that I should meet 
with greater simplicity and uprightness in the more remote 
regions I was about to visit, and looked forward with great 
satisfaction to my journey into the interior of the island. 
Here I found much that was praiseworthy, it is true, but, 
sad to relate, the dark side of the picture was also very 
conspicuous, and I am compelled to acknowledge that the 
Iceland. peasantry, upon the whole, are far from being wor- 
thy to be held up as models. 

The most pre-eminent of their good qualities is their 
trustworthiness. I could leave my things lying about 
any where, for hours at a time, and never missed the least 
trifle. They never touched any thing that belonged to me 
themselves, nor suffered their children to do so. On this 
point they are so conscientious that when a countryman 
comes from a distance, and wishes to enter a hut, he will 
not fail to knock at the door even if it be open. If no one 
says " come in," he goes off again without offering to in- 
trude. It would be perfectly safe to sleep here without 
either bar or bolt. 

Crimes are of such rare occurrence in the country that 
the building erected for a jail at Reikjavick has long 
been converted into a residence for the Stiftsamtmann (or 


governor.) Small misdemeanors are punished at once 
either at the capital or wherever the Sysselmann may hap- 
pen to be sitting. Great criminals are sent to Copenhagen 
to be tried and punished there. 

My landlord at Reikjavick, Mr. Bernhoft, informed me 
that during the thirteen years he had spent in Iceland, 
only one great crime had been committed. A married 
peasant, having become the father of an illegitimate child 
by his servant maid, had burnt the infant immediately after 
its birth. The small offences generally consist in cattle 

As for the information possessed by the Icelanders, I 
was struck with astonishment to find, that almost without 
an exception, they could read and write ; though the latter 
accomplishment is rather more uncommon among the 
female sex, than with the men. These last, as well as the 
boys, often write firm, good hands. Books I found where- 
ever I went ; at least the Bible, and often poems and tales ; 
some of which are in the Danish tongue. 

Their understandings are generally very good. When 
I unrolled my map they would look at it intelligently, and 
apparently form a tolerably correct idea of its use. Their 
acquirements are all the more surprising when it is remem- 
bered that every father of a family instructs his own chil- 
dren as well as the orphans of his neighborhood. This takes 
place during the long winters, which last eight months of 
the year, and are consequently quite sufficient for the pur- 
poses of education. 

There is but one school in the island, at Bessestadt 
(which was removed in 1846 to Reikjavick). Boys only 
are received at this establishment who can read and write. 
They can go through a course of preparatory instruction for 
the priesthood or the bar ; but those who choose the latter 

SCHOOL'S. 173 

profession, as well as the future physicians, apothecaries, 
or Sysselmanns, must finish their studies in Copenhagen. 

In addition to the theological course, geometry, geo- 
graphy, and history are also taught at this institution, as 
well as several languages, such as Latin and Danish ; .and 
since the year 1846, also French and German. 

The principal occupation of the Iceland peasantry con- 
sists in the fisheries, which are conducted with the greatest 
activity during the months of February, March and April. 
The people from the interior then crowd the harbors and 
enter into a bargain with the dwellers on the coast, who are 
the fishermen proper, to help them for a share of the profits. 
The fisheries are also carried on at other seasons, but gene- 
rally by the coast population. During the months of July 
and August many of the latter go in their turn to the in- 
land country, and lend their services during the haying 
time, for which they are paid in butter, wool, and salted 
lamb. Others resort to the mountains and gather the Ice- 
land moss, which they use as a decoction, mixed with 
milk : or they sometimes grind it to meal and make un- 
raised cakes with it, which serve them in lieu of bread. 
The labors of the female sex consist in preparing the fish 
for drying, smoking, or salting ; in attending to the cattle, 
in knitting and collecting moss. Both men and women 
knit during the winter season. 

The hospitality for which the Icelanders are so cele- 
brated has been greatly overrated, in my opinion, as I do 
not consider them entitled to much credit on that score. 
It is true that the priests and peasants will readily receive 
any traveller from Europe, and entertain him to the best 
of their abilities. But they are well aware that neither 
adventurers nor beggars are likely to intrude upon them, 
and feel pretty sure that they will be well paid for their 


trouble. The compensation I offered on such occasions was 
always received, without the least hesitation, by peasant 
and priest ; though I must mention, to the credit of the 
latter, that I found them universally obliging and disposed 
to be of use ; they always appeared perfectly contented with 
my presents, and their demands, when I employed their 
horses on any of my excursions, were very moderate. Not 
so with the peasants ; whose charges were exorbitant in 
those parts of the country where a traveller is rarely seen. 

For ferrying me across a river they usually asked 
twenty or thirty kreuzers,* and then only myself and the 
guide were rowed over in a skiff ; our horses were obliged to 
swim. The guide who accompanied me to Hecla demanded 
five florins and twenty kreuzers, and seemed to be confer- 
ring a great favor upon me at that. He knew that I had 
no choice, and I was not likely to turn back for such a 

From all these facts it must be admitted that the Ice- 
land character is not remarkably disinterested, and that 
the people here know just as well how to take advantage of 
the traveller as the landlords and servants on the Con- 

One great passion of the Icelanders is drinking ; they 
would be much better off if they were only a little less 
partial to brandy, and rather more industrious. But it is 
horrible to think what deep root this vice has taken here. 
Not only on Sundays, but often during the week, I met 
with countrymen so drunk that I could not understand how 
they managed to keep their seats on horseback ; but, thank 
Heaven ! I did not see a single woman in that condition. 

Snuff-taking is another of their master-passions ; and 

* From sixteen to twenty-four cents. Tr. 


this habit seems to have as great a charm for them as 
smoking has with us. " They also chew incessantly. Their 
manner of taking snuff is so peculiar that I must be for- 
given for describing it. Most of the peasants, ^,nd even 
many of the priests, have no boxes, but they make use in- 
stead of a piece of bone, turned in the shape of a little 
powder-horn ; and when they wish to indulge themselves in 
a pinch, they throw back their heads, and putting the point 
of the horn to their nostril, shake out the snuff; and these 
genuine sons of nature are so little fastidious that they fre- 
quently exchange horns from nose to nose, without consider- 
ing it at all necessary to wipe or cleanse them in any way. 

Upon the whole, I doubt if the Icelanders can claim to 
be much in advance of the Greenlanders, Esquimaux, or 
Laplanders, in point of cleanliness. I am sure the sto- 
machs of my gentle readers would be turned were I to re- 
late half of what took place directly under my eyes while 
I was in that country ; and I should lay myself open to 
the charge of deliberate exaggeration, besides ; but I defy 
the most powerful imagination to conceive any thing in the 
way of filth and disgusting practices, which I have not 
witnessed in an Iceland household. 

In addition to these unenviable characteristics, they are ex- 
traordinarily lazy. There are many extensive meadow-lands, 
at a little distance from the coast, completely covered with 
bog, which can only be crossed with the greatest caution, 
and for which the people are more in fault than the soil. 
A few ditches would drain the fields, and excellent grass 
would spring up in abundance ; for it is well proved that 
such will grow in Iceland, as the little eminences which rise 
above the swamps are luxuriously overgrown with forage, 
herbs, and wild clover. I also saw many places where the 
earth seemed of an excellent quality, and others where it 
was mixed with sand. 


I often conversed on this subject with a gentleman by 
the name of Boge, who has resided* in Iceland for forty 
years, and possesses no little knowledge of husbandry. Of 
him I inquired, if by labor and industry it were not possi- 
ble to cultivate the fields and meadows to much greater 
advantage ; and he not only assented, but thought good 
potato-fields, as well as fine pasture grounds, might be ob- 
tained if the people were not so thoroughly inactive as to 
endure hunger, and deny themselves every luxury in the 
shape of cleanliness and comfort, rather than acquire it by 
work. What nature freely yields must suffice ; to force 
any thing from her never occurs to them. I only wish I 
could see a few Grerman peasants settled here, and things 
would soon look very differently. 

The north side of the island is said to afford the best 
soil. Potatoes grow there, and also a few trees, which 
reach the height of seven or eight feet, without any par- 
ticular pains or culture. Mr. Boge, who lived in that part 
of the country for thirty years, had set out a few sorb-apple 
and pear trees, which even grew to the height of sixteen 

In this northern region, the principal occupation is 
breeding cattle, particularly in the interior, where some of 
the farmers own three or four hundred sheep, ten or fifteen 
cows, and a dozen horses. Not many are in such flourish- 
ing circumstances, it is true ; but as a general thing, they 
are better off than the miserable population of the coast, 
who have to contend with an indifferent soil, and are, more- 
over, almost entirely engaged in the fisheries. 

. Before I take my leave of Iceland, I must relate a 
wonderful circumstance which I heard from a great many 
different quarters, and which is received as the truth not 


only by the country people, but by those who are considered 
the well-informed classes of the community. 

It is affirmed that the inland and inhospitable regions 
of this island are not, as is generally supposed, uninhabited, 
but that a singular race resides there, who are acquainted 
with all the pathways among these barren wastes. They 
are savages who hold no intercourse with their countrymen, 
excepting in the month of July, when they present them- 
selves for a day at one of the harbors, where they lay in a 
store of the various necessaries of life, for which they 
always pay in ready money. This is no sooner done than 
they suddenly vanish, and no one can tell where they are 
gone. Nobody knows them ; they never bring their wives 
and children with them, and never answer any questions 
which are put to them about their residence or their mode 
of life. Their speech is said to be somewhat more difficult 
to understand than that of the other inhabitants of Iceland. 
A gentleman, for whom I have too much regard to mention 
his name, once expressed a wish in my presence that he had 
twenty or twenty-five armed men at his command, when he 
would soon follow up this mysterious people to their secret 

Those who profess to have seen them, maintain that 
they are taller and larger than the other Icelanders ; that 
their horses are shod with horn, and that they have a great 
deal of money in their possession, which can only have been 
obtained by unfair means. But when I inquired who had 
ever been robbed by them, and when and where any such 
event had occurred, no one could tell. And as I doubt if 
a single individual could make a comfortable living in Ice- 
land by rapine, much less do I believe that it would furnish 
the necessary support for a whole tribe. 




I had now visited every part of Iceland which possessed 
any claims to iny attention, and having happily concluded 
all my travels in that country, I had nothing farther to do but 
to wait with inexpressible impatience till some vessel should 
sail which could bear me nearer to my beloved home. Alas ! 
I was detained week after week in Reikjavick, and niy pa- 
tience was daily put to the proof, till at last, after a long 
delay, I availed myself with eagerness of the first oppor- 
tunity which offered. 

Several ships went to sea during that period, it is true ; 
and Mr. Knudson, with whom I had made the passage from 
Copenhagen, invited me to accompany him on his return ; 
but they were all bound for Spain or England, and I was 
not inclined to follow that route at present. I was anxious 
to visit Sweden and Norway, as I was determined, if possi- 
ble, to take at least a short look at those picturesque 

At last I heard of two sloops which were to leave Reik- 
javick about the end of July ; one was bound for Altona, 
and the other for Copenhagen ; but I tried in vain to pro- 
cure a passage in the former, which was the best, as the 
only state-room had already been secured by a merchant 
from Reikjavick, and more than one passenger cannot be 
accommodated with any degree of comfort in these small 
vessels. I was therefore obliged to consider myself very 
fortunate at being able to obtain a berth in the second ; 
although my friend Mr. Bernhoft was of opinion that it 


was not in a fit condition for me to venture on so long a 
voyage, and offered to inspect it carefully before I trusted 
myself on board. But this L declined, for I had made up 
my mind to go ; and as I preferred to remain in ignorance 
if I were about to run any particular risk, I begged him to 
dispense with his proposed examination, and enter into a 
negotiation for me at once with the captain. 

Finally, we were informed that a Danish girl, who had 
been living here at service, was also desirous of embarking 
in this vessel ; she had become so thoroughly home-sick 
that she was resolved to return to her own country, let what 
would happen. And that settled the question with me ; 
for if home-sickness could make a girl like this so perfectly 
reckless of danger, my own eager longings to escape could 
surely do as much for me ; and I immediately determined 
not to be left behind. 

Our sloop bore the consolatory appellation of " Haabet" 
(the Hope), and was owned by a merchant named Fromm in 
Copenhagen. Her departure was fixed for the 26th, and 
from that day I hardly ventured to leave the house for fear 
of missing a summons to embark, which might be sent to 
me at any hour ; but unfortunately a heavy storm prevented 
our sailing till the 29th, and then came the oft-repeated 
trial of leave-taking. 

It cost me little to bid farewell to the country ; although 
I had seen so much that was wonderful, new, and interest- 
ing, I still pined to behold once more nay native plains, 
where nature is less grand and striking, it is true, but in- 
finitely more pleasing and attractive. But it was much 
harder to part with Mr. Knudson and the Bernhoft family, 
from whom I had received so much real kindness, and to 
whom I owed every facility and assistance I had enjoyed 
during my travels. A grateful remembrance of these ex- 
cellent people will live in my heart for ever. 


At noon I found myself on board the Hope, and could 
admire at my leisure all the flags and streamers displayed 
by the French frigate, which lay at anchor in the harbor, 
to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution of July. It 
was my best policy to divert my attention as much as pos- 
sible from the' ship ; for what I saw against my will 
convinced me that there must be a great deal to wish for 
in all the arrangements, and I determined not to inspect 
the cabin at all till we were fairly at sea and had parted 
with the pilots ; and with them every possible means of 
retreat was cut off. 

Our crew consisted, besides the captain and the mate, 
of two sailors and a lad who bore the title of cook ; but as 
it was also part of his duty to wait upon us, we employed 
him during the passage in the capacity of a valet. 

"When the pilots had bid us farewell, I looked about 
me for the cabin, which was to be our common apartment, 
as it was the only one, and discovered that the entrance 
was a hole about two feet wide, which opened at my feet 
and revealed a perpendicular ladder of five steps. I stood 
before it for some time, meditating upon the best way to 
descend, and at last thought it advisable to apply to our 
host, the captain, for information. He solved the mystery 
by seating himself on the deck and letting his feet down 
into the hole. Conceive of such an undertaking for us 
women, with our long dresses, while the ship was rolling 
and pitching during the bad weather ! However, a great 
many worse things might have happened to us ; and this was 
the consolation to which I always clung on such occasions. I 
soon managed to reason myself into the persuasion that I 
was of the same clay as my companions, only rather more 
spoilt and indulged ; therefore I ought to be able to accom- 
modate myself to any inconvenience which they endured ; 


and with that I took my seat at the entrance, and soon 
found myself at the foot of the ladder. 

At first, I could not distinguish any thing around nie 
on account of the prevailing darkness ; but I saw only too 
much when my eyes had become accustomed to the dim 
light, for dirt, disorder and discomfort, were reigning para- 
mount in the little cabin. I shall endeavor to convey 
some idea of the scene to those of my dear countrywomen 
who intend to accompany me through my travels in this 
book, as so few of them have ever enjoyed any opportunity 
of making a sea-voyage, and upon them a minute and de- 
tailed description will not be entirely thrown awaj r ; and I 
call any one who is used to a sea-life to witness that my 
account is true. 

This delightful sloop vied with myself in point of age, 
for we both dated from the past century. Unfortunately, 
in those days very little consideration was paid to human 
comfort in ship-building, and as much as possible of the 
space was reserved for the cargo ; which was perfectly natu- 
ral, after all, as the life of the sailor is properly spent on 
deck, and this vessel was never intended to accommodate 
passengers. The whole length of the cabin measured ten 
feet from one state-room to another, and its width was six ; 
the latter being encroached upon, moreover, by a chest on 
one side and a little table and two benches on the other, 
leaving barely room enough to pass between them. 

At dinner and supper we ladies, that is, the Danish girl 
and myself, were seated upon the benches, where we were 
squeezed so tight that we could hardly move. Our two 
cavaliers, the captain and mate, were forced to eat their 
meals standing, and the table was so small that they were 
obliged to hold their plates in their hands. In short, every 
thing about this ship was proportioned to its class, and not 
calculattd for the convenience of travellers. 


The air of the cabin was naturally rather close, as, be- 
sides being used for our eating, sleeping, and reception 
room, it was also appropriated to the purposes of storage, 
provisions of every kind being kept in the side-closets, be- 
sides oil-colors and many other things. I generally pre- 
ferred sitting on deck, where I was exposed to the storms 
and cold, and frequently wet through by the waves, to re- 
maining in the stifling air below. But I was sometimes 
driven down by a violent gale, or when the ship pitched so 
furiously that it was not safe for me to remain on deck. 
My Danish companion and myself could often neither sit 
nor stand ; we passed many a long day lying in our misera- 
ble berths ; and I could not help envying my fellow travel- 
ler, who could sleep uninterruptedly from morning to 
night, while I remained wide awake to count the tedious 
hours. The hatches were always closed when it rained, 
and we were left to breathe an oppressive atmosphere in 
Egyptian darkness. 

The fare on board this ship was exactly the same for 
passengers, captain, mate and crew. For our morning's 
meal we had wretched tea, or more properly dirty water of 
the color of tea, which the common hands drank without any 
sugar ; the officers making use of a small lump of candy, 
which they hold in their mouths, where it melted rather 
slower than refined sugar, while they poured down cup after 
cup to moisten the ship biscuit and butter which composed 
our breakfast. 

The dinners varied from day to day ; first we had a 
piece of salted meat, which having been soaked all night in 
sea-water, and cooked the next day in the same, was so in- 
tolerably hard, tough, and over-salted, that it required a 
seaman's palate to relish it. Instead of soup, vegetables, 
or dessert, we had barley grits, plainly boiled, without salt 


or butter, and eaten with syrup and vinegar. This dish 
was considered delicious by my companions, who could 
never cease wondering at my perverted taste when I pro- 
nounced it uneatable. 

The second day produced a piece of bacon, boiled in 
salt water, and the barley grits again. On the third we 
had codfish and peas ; and although the latter were hard, 
and cooked without butter, I found them more palatable 
than any thing I had yet tasted. The first dinner was re- 
peated on the fourth day, and so it went on during the 
whole passage ; a cup of coffee without milk always closing 
our noonday meal. The evening's repast was like that of 
the morning, tea-water and ship biscuit. 

I would gladly have provided myself in Reikjavick with 
a few fowls and some eggs and potatoes, but I found it im- 
possible to buy any thing of the kind. Chickens are only 
raised by the great people of the place ; the eggs of the 
eider ducks and other birds are to be had, it is true, but a 
sufficient quantity is barely obtained for daily use, and that 
only in the spring during the breeding time ; and potatoes 
were not yet in season. It may readily be imagined, there- 
fore, what a luxurious life I led on board this vessel. Had 
I been rather more comfortable, and better fed, I think I 
should have escaped sea-sickness altogether ; but in conse- 
quence of the bad air in the cabin, and the miserable table, 
I suffered a great deal the first day ; though I was well 
again the next morning, and felt so hungry, that I attacked 
a piece of salt meat, and some bacon and peas, as heartily 
as if I had been a sailor ; but the codfish, grits, tea and 
coffee, I never could meddle with. 

A genuine seaman never drinks water ; and I observed 
that our captain and mate, having neither wine nor beer, 
made use of tea in their stead, swallowing a vast quantity 
of it cold between their meals. 


On Sunday evenings we had a grand supper ; eight eggs 
were cooked for us four people, being some the captain had 
brought with him from Denmark ; and the men were al- 
lowed a few drops of punch-essence in their tea. 

Having made my female readers sufficiently acquainted 
with our sumptuous fare, I must now enlighten them a lit- 
tle about the table-linen, and the usual method of cleansing 
it. The cloth was a piece of an old sail, and it was so 
soiled and dirty that I never sat down to table without 
thinking what a pity it was that our appetites should re- 
ceive the additional shock of such a sight, and imagined 
that it would be infinitely preferable to have our dinner set 
out on the uncovered board ; but like most people who are 
apt to fancy themselves a great deal wiser than their neigh- 
bors, I found myself very much mistaken. One day I saw 
our valet belaboring a piece of sail-cloth, which was stretched 
on the floor under his feet, and was receiving a good sweep- 
ing from the ship's broom. By the manifold spots of dirt 
and grease, I immediately recognized my old acquaintance ; 
and that evening the table was bare. But the consequence 
was, that no sooner had the tea-pot been placed upon it, 
than it began to slide, and nothing but the adroitness of 
the captain prevented the whole contents from being poured 
into our laps. It was the same with all the other dishes ; 
and I was obliged to acknowledge that, bad as our table- 
cloth had been, it was better than none at all. 

Enough has been said, I think, to convince my readers 
that the hours I spent on board this ship must have dragged 
very heavily ; but another circumstance soon came to light 
that added a great deal of uneasiness to my other discom- 
forts. I found out, after a few days, that the vessel was 
leaking incessantly, and that it was necessary to pump it 
out every five or six hours. The captain tried to reassure 


me, by maintaining that this was the case with every ship, 
and that ours only leaked rather more than usual because 
it was old. I thought it best to believe him, since there 
was no escape for me ; and fortunately we had no serious 
gales, or else we might have been in real danger. 

We were twenty days at sea, and for twelve we were 
out of sight of land. The wind drove us so far to the west- 
ward, that we saw neither the Faroe nor the Shetland 
Isles. This I regretted less than I did our meeting so few 
whales and sharks, for I should have enjoyed very much 
falling in with more of these monsters of the deep. We 
were only fortunate enough to see the spout of a single 
whale in the distance, which rose in the air exactly like 
the jet of a fountain ; but the animal itself was too far off 
for its bulky form to be distinguished. One shark had the 
gallantry to swim round us for a few minutes, which afford- 
ed us an opportunity of observing it quite closely ; and we 
thought its length might have been from sixteen to eighteen 

I was very much amused with watching the flying-fish, 
with which the sea was completely covered for two even- 
ings, as far as the eye could reach. The nights were calm 
and mild, and we sat on deck by a brilliant moonlight, and 
looked at the happy little creatures at play all around us. 
We could easily tell the young fish by their high leaps. 
They were three or four feet long, and jumped five or six 
feet out of the water. Their springs resembled a little an 
attempt at flying, though their fins made but poor substi- 
tutes for wings, and they fell back almost instantaneously 
into the sea. The older fish seemed to have lost the power 
of flying, and only described a semicircle like the dolphins, 
not more than half their bodies appearing above the sur- 
face of the water. These flying fish are never caught, as 
, : ey are not fit to eat, and have no oil. 


On the thirteenth day, land was at last in sight again. 
We were then in the Skaggerack, with the peninsula of 
Jutland and the little town of Skaggen on our right. The 
former presents a very barren appearance from this side, 
being low and almost entirely covered with sand. 

On the sixteenth day we were in the Cattegat, where we 
were becalmed or driven about by head winds for nearly a 
week, being hardly able to accomplish more than fifteen or 
twenty sea miles a day.* When the weather was still, I 
amused myself with fishing, but I cannot say that I was 
particularly successful ; and although fish are generally 
said to be rather a stupid kind of animal, I found them 
quite cunning enough to decline biting at my hook. I was 
in daily hopes of having a good mess of mackerel for my 
dinner, but with all my efforts I only caught, one. 

It also afforded me some entertainment to watch the 
numerous ships sailing from all directions into the Catte- 
gat ; I counted more than seventy ; and as we approached 
the Sound, and they all thronged together through that 
narrow passage, the sight became still finer and more im- 
posing. We were favored with a glorious moonlight, other- 
wise I think we should hardly have escaped coming in 
collision with some of our neighbors, in spite of all our 
care and caution. 

We southern people can form very little conception of 
the extraordinary clearness and brilliancy of the moonlight 
at the north, where part of the light of day seems blended 
with the evening stars. All the lovely nights I have ever 
beheld in the Mediterranean, and on the coast of Asia, 
were far surpassed by those I saw in these Scandinavian 

* Nearly the same number of English miles. Tr. 



I fancied myself in the midst of a large fleet of mer- 
chantmen, and remained all night on deck to enjoy the rare 
spectacle of the crowd of sails pressing at once towards the 
entrance of the Sound. 

On our twentieth day out, at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, we entered the harbor of Elsinore, where a toll is ex- 
acted, or as the sailors call it, the ship must be " made 
clear." This is a very troublesome interruption, and gen- 
erally occasions a delay of several hours. The captain 
must go on shore, and before he returns the wind has often 
fallen ; and, thanks to this detention, it is later by many 
hours when the ship arrives at Copenhagen than it would 
otherwise be. Those vessels which reach Elsinore on a 
dark night must anchor in the Cattegat till daylight ; and 
those which arrive there earlier than four o'clock in the 
morning, must wait till that hour before the toll-office is 

The sailor is at liberty, indeed, to run by this passage 
without stopping ; but the privilege costs him five dollars 
more when he arrives at Copenhagen, where the toll can be 
adjusted as well as at Elsinore ; the vexatious detention at 
the latter place seems, therefore, to be only a pretext for 
exacting a higher tribute, as any officer who is pressed for 
time, and is favored by a good wind, would willingly sacri- 
fice that sum for the sake of sailing on his way unmolested. 

Our good captain, however, took neither time nor money 
into the account, but he laboriously settled the transaction 
by making the ship " clear" according to rule ; and the 
consequence was, that it was two o'clock before we hailed 
the good city of Copenhagen, which seemed almost like 
home to me, and struck me, in comparison with the land I 
had just left, as infinitely superior to any other place I had 
ever seen. After having been cooped up so long in the 


Bhip, where I had hardly room to move, I could have 
thrown myself on the ground when I landed, and raptur- 
ously kissed the earth, like Columbus. 

from CHjtttfjWgtfc 


The 19th of August, the very day after my arrival 
from Iceland, I embarked again on board the fine royal 
Norwegian steamer " Christiania," bound for the port of the 
same name, a distance of three hundred and four sea miles. 
We rapidly swept through the Sound, and reaching the 
Cattegat in safety, we turned to the right, and drew near 
to those shores which I had only seen as yet from afar. 

The fine chain of mountains, which forms the eastern 
boundary of the Cattegat, was soon in sight, and its ex- 
treme point, the Kulm, could be distinguished, stretching 
far out into the sea, with its light-house, the first of a long 
line of fires which reveal the manifold dangers to which the 
navigator is exposed on the rocky shores of Sweden and 

August %Qth. Bad weather is a very great trial for a 
traveller, and more especially when he is surrounded by 
the most beautiful scenery, as was the case with us to-day, 
when it rained in torrents while we were sailing by a very 
interesting part of the Swedish coast, and into the little 
" fiord" which leads to the harbor of Grottenburg. The sea 
resembled a wide stream at this point, shut in by noble 
cliffs, and interspersed with single rocks and reefs of various 
li eights, over which the foaming surf was breaking with a 


wonderfully fine effect. Scattered about among the cliffs near 
the town are the different buildings belonging to the royal 
Swedish iron-works ; and even American ships are attract- 
ed to the place in great numbers in search of that metal. 

The steamer remains at Gottenburg rather more than 
four hours, affording an opportunity of visiting the town 
proper, which is at a distance of about a short half mile 
(German), although its suburbs extend to the port. Very 
near the landing-place there resides a captain, who always 
keeps a carriage and horses in readiness to convey travellers 
to the city ; one-horse vehicles can also be obtained, or a 
seat in an omnibus, though the latter is said to move so 
slowly that nearly all the time is consumed in the drive ; 
and on the present occasion, all the former were engaged. 
Two of my fellow-passengers and myself, therefore, agreed 
to hire the captain's equipage, and we set off on our excur- 
sion with the rain pouring down upon our heads in streams ; 
an inconvenience of which we made very light, as my com- 
panions were entirely engrossed by the thoughts of their 
business, and I by my usual eager curiosity. I was not then 
aware that I should visit this place again, and to be so near 
such a pretty little town without seeing something more 
of it, was perfectly out of the question. 

The suburbs are built throughout of wood, and contain 
a great many pretty houses of a single story, which are 
generally surrounded by little gardens. Great rocks are 
scattered along the streets, and some of them have even 
been blasted to admit a thoroughfare ; small fields and 
meadows also lie among the houses. There is a magnificent 
view from one of the heights, where we looked between two 
gigantic cliffs, which formed a striking foreground to the 
picture, and saw the North sea stretched out beyond. 

The town has two fine squares, in the smallest of which 


is situated a large cathedral, while the other contains the 
town-house, the post-office, and a number of handsome 
dwelling-houses, of which there are also many to be seen 
in the other streets. All the buildings in Grottenburg are 
of bricks. 

The large square is divided by the river Ham, which is 
crowded with ships and barges loaded with provisions and 
fuel, adding greatly to the animation of this part of the 
town. The fish-market is worth visiting ; the greatest 
abundance of fish is seen there ; and some of them are of 
remarkable size. 

Here I found myself for the first time in a Swedish 
room, where I observed that the floor was strewn with the 
small, fine leaves of the fir-trees, which spread around a 
fresh and pleasant smell, much more wholesome, I have no 
doubt, than any perfume produced by art. This custom 
prevails throughout Sweden and Norway, but it is confined, 
unfortunately, to the taverns and the houses of the poor. 

At about eleven A. M., we continued our journey. Slip- 
ping carefully through the numerous rocks and reefs, we 
were soon once more in the open sea, though we continued 
near enough to the coast to observe the telegraphs standing 
out on the prominent cliff's. In the evening we reached the 
fortress of Friedrichsver, but it was too late to see it very 
distinctly. Here begins a ridge of cliffs called the " Scheren," 
which extends uninterruptedly for more than sixty sea 
miles, and forms the boundary of the Christian Sound. 
As far as the failing light would permit us to decide, the 
scenery in this gulf appeared to be wonderfully beauti- 
ful. Islets without number were scattered about, some 
of them showing a rocky, barren surface, and others 
overgrown by tall and slender firs. We took a pilot on 
%->ard, who understood his craft perfectly well, and brought 

19 \ 

" safely to the port of Sandesund, where we anchored, as 
the intense darkness made it dangerous to advance any 
farther ; and . we were also to wait for the steamer from 
Bergen, which was to take off some of our passengers in ex- 
change for some of her own. Unfortunately, the sea ran 
very high, and there was great difficulty in accomplishing 
the removal, as neither of the steamers was willing to lower 
a boat till nearly midnight, when one was let down from 
our side. I pitied the poor passengers from my heart, for 
they were evidently terribly frightened ; though, thank 
God ! no accident occurred, and they were soon safely deposit- 
ed in the other steamer. 

August Zlst. When I had an opportunity of taking a 
look at Sandesund by daylight, I found that it only con- 
tained a few houses. The sea is confined by steep walls of 
rock at this place, and barely retains the breadth of a good- 
sized stream, though it soon widens, and gains in beauty as 
the shores retreat. The bay resembles a magnificent lake, 
the islands being in some places so close to the background 
of mountains that they might be mistaken for part of the 
continent, while the creeks are like the mouths of so many 

A little farther on a whole chain of lakes appears to be 
in sight : and we thought ourselves at the end of our jour- 
ney, till a narrow passage among the crowded islands re- 
vealed another lovely scene beyond. A range of high hills 
stretches along the shores, clothed in dark woods to their 
very summits ; the rising hillocks are covered with rich 
fields and meadows, scattered with cottages and farm-houses, 
the whole forming an indescribably beautiful prospect on 
the mainland ; while an equally attractive variety exists 
among the islets, some of which were barren, some merely 


sprinkled with a few firs, and others again clad in fine woods 
and pastures. Occasionally the mountains are parted, and 
display a beautiful perspective through the ravines and 
valleys. The course of a bay could often be followed till it 
was lost in the distance, where it seemed almost to mingle 
with the clouds ; and the lovely valleys were frequently 
enlivened with little villages and hamlets. Were I but 
capable of doing justice to this rich and glorious Nature ! 
But I can hardly hope to convey an idea of my own enthu- 
siasm, much less to lay such a description of the scene before 
my readers as will induce them to share it. 

At the little village of Walloe the country loses much 
of its beauty ; the mountains sink to hills, and the groups 
of islands disappear from the bay. The village itself is 
partly concealed by the hills, though a row of huts and 
wooden houses appears in sight, which all belong to the 
salt-works, that article being here obtained from the sea. 
In order to reach the town of Moss, we made a stretch into 
one of the bays, which are so numerous on both sides ; that 
little town is built like an amphitheatre, and stands in a 
beautiful position. A large house with a conspicuous por- 
tico, near the shore, attracted our attention, and proved to 
be a bathing establishment. 

Near the village of Horten, which also lies in a very 
picturesque situation, there is a dock where ships are built 
for the government ; but their number must be small, for I 
saw but one at anchor, and none on the stocks. During 
the sail to Droback, we often passed groups of islands, 
through which a glimpse of the high seas was obtained. 
About eight sea miles beyond Horten, there is a mountain 
which forms a very striking object in the view ; it stretches 
out into the sea, which is divided here into two streams, 
and only reunited beyond. 


Christiania was not in sight ^ti.ll we were within ten sea 
miles of the place. This town and its suburbs, the fortress, 
the lately erected royal castle, the freemason's lodge and 
other buildings, surround the harbor in a handsome semi- 
circle, which is inclosed in its turn by fields, meadows, 
woods, and hills. The sea, reluctant to leave this enchant- 
ing region winds in small creeks through the fields and 
hills, to quite a distance behind the town. 

We reached Christiania by eleven o'clock, haying ac- 
complished the distance from Sandesund in seven hours, 
although we had stopped four times. But as every arrange- 
ment was made beforehand on such occasions, they caused 
very little delay, and we had soon exchanged passengers, 
sent our mails and merchandise on shore, and were generally 
on our way again in a few minutes. 


I had no sooner arrived here, than I went in search of 
one of my countrywomen, who is married to a lawyer, and 
resides in this place ; which proves that the saying, so often 
thrown in the teeth of the Viennese women, that " they 
cannot exist out of sight of their beloved St. Stephen's 
steeple," is not founded on fact ; for I have never seen a 
couple who appeared happier or more contented than this 
husband and wife, and yet Christiania is above two hundred 
miles* from the tower of Saint Stephen's. 

On my way from the port to the hotel, and from thence 
to 'the house of my friend, I crossed the whole city, which 
did not strike me as either very large or very handsome. 
The best part of it is that which has been lately built, where 
there are some wide streets of tolerable length, with a num- 

* Nine hundred English miles. Tr. 


ber of very good houses both of stone and brick. The other 
thoroughfares abound in wooden tenements, which seem to 
be on the eve of a downfall. The square is large, but irre- 
gular, and as it contains the market, where every thing that 
can be imagined is for sale, it is also very dirty. 

The suburbs are generally built of wood. Among the 
public edifices there are a few which ate rather handsome, 
particularly the new castle and the fortress, which are the 
finest buildings in the place. They are both most beauti- 
fully situated on a slight elevation, and command an en- 
chanting view. The old royal residence is in the town, and 
has nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary private 
dwelling. The building in which the " Storthing" (or Na- 
tional Assembly) is held, is large, with a conspicuous en- 
trance supported by pillars ; but the steps, like those of 
every stone house in these countries, are of wood. The 
theatre struck me as being of a good size for a place like 
this ; on the outside, at least, for I was never in it. The 
Freemason's Lodge is a handsome edifice, and contains two 
halls, which are also used for scientific meetings and public 
assemblies. The University appeared to be planned on al- 
together too large a scale ; it is not yet finished, but from 
its style and dimensions it would be an ornament to any of 
the great capitals. 

The situation of the butchers' stalls is very convenient ; 
they are built in a semicircle, and surrounded by an arcade, 
where purchasers can be sheltered at all times from the 
weather. The building is of brick left in its natural condi- 
tion, without mortar or cement. No other edifices of any 
consequence are to be seen, and most of the houses are of 
a single story. 

The custom, which is so common in all the Scandinavian 
cities, of putting the name at the corner of every street. 

<jilUL<TJAXlA. 195 

is a very great convenience to strangers, who are never 
obliged to go very far without being able to find out exact- 
ly where they are. 

This town has open canals, and, like many others, no 
lamps are lighted when the moon is, or ought to be, visible. 
Round the port there are wooden quays, and a number of 
large warehouses, also of wood, but roofed, as is generally 
the case, with tiles. The shops are simple and unpretend- 
ing, but the goods are handsome, though few are of domes- 
tic manufacture ; there is little enterprise of this kind here, 
and almost every commodity in use is imported from foreign 

I was grieved to see the number of ragged, ill-clad peo- 
ple who crowd the streets ; the young lads had a particular- 
ly bad expression. I thought ; and though they did not beg, 
I should have been sorry to have met any of them alone in 
a solitary part of the town. 

I was so fortunate as to arrive at Christiania during the 
session of the Storthing, which only occurs once in three 
years. It meets in January or February, and usually ad- 
journs at the end of three months ; but on this pccasion an 
accumulation of important business had induced the king to 
prolong the session, and it was this fortunate circumstance 
that afforded me an opportunity of attending several of the 
meetings. The sovereign himself was not present, how- 
ever, and was only expected in September to close the As- 

The room where this body meets is of an oblong shape, 
and of respectable dimensions. Four rows of cushioned 
benches, rising one above the other, are stretched along the 
wall, where more than eighty members can be accommo- 
dated. Opposite these benches there is a table on an ele- 
vated platform where the president and secretary are seated ; 


and a gallery surrounds the rest of the hall, to which any 
one who chooses may obtain admittance. 

Although my knowledge of the Norwegian language 
was very limited, I still made it a point to pass an hour in 
this Assembly every day during my residence in Christiania. 
I could judge, at least, of the fluency and length of the 
speeches ; but unfortunately the only orators I had an op- 
portunity of hearing, dropped their words in such a slow 
and formal manner, that it was easy to see they did not 
possess the gift of eloquence. I was informed there were 
not more than three or four speakers who could make any 
pretensions to that art ; and during my attendance no oc- 
casion seemed to present itself to call forth their powers. 

I have never seen any where so great a variety of con- 
veyances as I found in this place. The most common, but 
at the same time the least convenient, are those which are 
called carriols ; they consist of a very narrow, long, and 
uncovered box, reposing between two enormously high 
wheels, and provided with a very small seat, into which you 
must squeeze yourself, with your feet stretched out before 
you. a leathern apron drawn over your lap ; and there you 
must stay, without moving an inch, from the moment you 
get in till you get out again. There is a place behind for 
the coachman, in case the person who occupies the carriol 
should not" be inclined to drive himself ; but as it is by no 
means agreeable to have the reins shaking about your head, 
and the whip constantly flourishing in your ears, the services 
of a driver are generally dispensed with, even by women. 
Besides these curious vehicles, there are also phaetons, 
droschkis, chariots, and other light conveyances, but no 
covered carriages are to be seen. 

The beer carts struck me as very peculiar ; but I must 
mention first that there is a great deal of beer consumed in 


Christiania, and that it is not conveyed to the different 
houses in barrels, but in bottles. The carts are large cover- 
ed waggons, not more than a foot and a half in height, and 
divided into numerous compartments, each one of which 
contains a beer bottle. I observed that tin baskets with 
handles were used by the servants of this place to carry fish, 
meat, or vegetables ; straw baskets being only employed for 
clean and dry articles, such as bread, &c. 

There are no public gardens in Christiania, but the defi- 
ciency is compensated by all the roads leading into the 
country, which not only furnish delightful walks, but pre- 
sent a series of lovely views from every height in the neigh- 

Laadegardoen is the only resort much frequented by the 
citizens, either in carriages or on foot ; this place commands 
a magnificent prospect of the sea, with its innumerable 
islands, the surrounding hills, villages, and woods of fir and 
pine. There are also a great many country-seats scattered 
about, which are generally small but very neat, and pleas- 
antly situated amidst their gardens and orchards. Every 
thing about me looked so green and blooming that it wore 
a very southern aspect to my eyes ; it was only by the corn- 
fields that I recognized the North. Not that the grain was 
poor : on the contrary, I noticed many ears of wheat so full, 
that they were bowed to the ground with their own weight ; 
but it was now the end of August, and the harvest was 
hardly begun. 

The woods are traversed by delightful roads, where many 
a ravishing picture opens to the eye which one might pause 
for hours at a time to admire. These woods contain two 
monuments, neither of which is of much interest, however 5 
one is erected to the memory of Christian Augustus, crown 
prince of Sweden, and the other to that of Hermann Wedel, 
Count Jarlsberg. 



I was so much delighted with that part of Norway I 
had already seen, that I found it impossible to resist my 
desire to visit the wild and romantic region of Delemarkeu 
although I was frequently assured that for a woman, alone, 
and possessing so little knowledge of the language, it was 
an undertaking which presented great difficulties. But as 
no one seemed inclined to accompany me, and I was deter- 
mined to go, I did not hesitate to trust to my usual good 
fortune, and set off alone. 

Upon inquiry I found that I must not expect much in 
the way of accommodations or conveniences for travelling, 
during my journey. It was necessary to provide myself 
with a conveyance, and hire a horse from station to station. 
for although a little chariot can Ibe procured at any of the 
villages, it is nothing more than a wretched and uncomforta- 
ble cart. I therefore engaged a carriol at Christiania for 
the whole tour, and a horse for the first five miles to the 
little town of Drammen. 

I left Christiania on the 25th of August, at three o'clock 
in the afternoon : seated in my little vehicle, with the reins 
in my hand, after the fashion of the Norwegian women, I 
drove off as rapidly as if I had followed this occupation 
from my childhood, nourishing my whip to the right and 
left, to the evident astonishment of my horse, who plunged 
and ran in a surprising manner. * 

The road to Drammen is beautiful beyond description ; 
every landscape painter should visit a spot so highly favor- 
ed by nature, where all her charms are blended to entrance 
the spectator ; every prospect would furnish a number of 


pictures unsurpassed in loveliness. The vegetation was 
much more luxuriant than I had expected to find it so far 
North. Every hillock, yes, every rock or stone, was shaded 
by fir-trees ; the verdure was of the most lively shade ; the 
rich grass mingled with herbs and. flowers ; and at this sea' 
son the fields were swelling with the full and ripening ears 
of grain. 

I have seen many countries, and gazed upon many a lovely 
view ; I have been in Italy, in Switzerland, in the Tyrol, 
and at Salzburg ; but I have never been more enraptured 
than I was at the scene which was now displayed before my 
eyes. On one hand was the sea, which followed us with its 
numerous creeks and bays as far as the Drammen ; here it 
formed a pretty lake with a few boats on its still waters, 
and there again a stream which forced its way through hills 
and fields ; it next appeared like a wide and extensive plain, 
crossed by tall ships, which looked in the distance like 
gigantic swans ; and sprinkled with its countless islands 
varying from isolated rocks to smooth meadows, enlivened 
by a number of cottages half buried among the trees. Thus 
I drove, on for five hours, through wood and dale, with the 
most romantic prospects to attract my eyes on every side, 
till I reached the little town of Drammen, situated on the 
sea-shore, near the bank of the river Storri Elb, and sur- 
rounded by country-seats, many of which I passed as I ap- 
proached the place. 

The river is spanned by a long and beautiful wooden 
bridge, which is provided with a very handsome iron railing. 
Drammen is a well built town of 6.000 inhabitants. The 
hotel where I alighted was exceedingly neat and comforta- 
ble ; I was shown to a room which might have satisfied the 
most fastidious traveller in every respect ; but my supper, 
on the other hand, was rather a slender one. for it merely 


consisted of a few eggs, boiled very soft, without bread or 
salt ; and I was expected to eat them with a knife and fork ! 

August 25th. Having hired a fresh horse I drove on_ 
to Kongsberg, four miles from Drammeri. For the first 
mile and a half I saw a continuation of the romantic scenery 
of yesterday ; the sea had now vanished from the view, but 
my road lay by the side of the river till I reached a little 
emine-nce, from whence I could overlook a large and well 
cultivated plain, where clusters of houses, or solitary cot- 
tages, were scattered about. It is singular that throughout 
Norway there are so few towns or villages ; every peasant 
prefers to build his house in the midst of his own field. 

From this point the prospect becomes rather more mono- 
tonous ; it loses especially from the disappearance of the sea. 
The mountains are less elevated, the valley is narrower, and 
rocks and woods now surrounded me on all sides. The 
Norwegian rocks have a peculiarity which I have never 
observed elsewhere, they are always wet, the water trickles 
down their sides, which are covered with just sufficient 
moisture to make them shine like mirrors in the sun ; they 
are very abundant among the woods, and are often of a 
great size. 

This part of Norway, which bears the name of Dele- 
marken, appears to be tolerably populous ; even in the exten- 
sive, dark, and wooded tract which I crossed to-day, I saw 
a number of solitary cottages, which gave some life to the 
otherwise inanimate landscape. The Norwegian peasants 
are industrious, and every spot of ground, even on the 
steepest declivities, is covered with potatoes, barley, or oats. 
Their houses are cheerful and pleasant, and are generally 
colored of a brick-red. 

The roads were very good, particularly between -Chris- 
tiania and Drammen ; though I had little fault to find with 


those from the latter place to Kongsberg. There is such 
an abundance of wood in Norway, that the roads are in- 
closed on both sides by a fence, and every field or pasture 
is guarded in the same way from the inroads of the cattle ; 
in the woods, large logs are often placed across the worst 
places in the road. 

The dress of the peasantry in this part of the country 
is not in any way remarkable ; the only thing about the 
costume of the women which I particularly observed, was 
their absurd head-dress, which resembles an old-fashioned 
bonnet, shaped like a small turban, with an enormous front. 
It is made of any old material, and generally with the re- 
mains of worn-out dresses ; though the Sunday bonnets are 
sometimes a little more elegant, and I even occasionally saw 
one of silk. 

This head-dress is not worn in the neighborhood of 
Kongsberg, where the women have small caps like the 
female peasants of Suabia, and petticoats which fall from 
their shoulders, with very short waists, a most unbecoming 
attire, which ruins the whole appearance of their forms. 

Kongsberg is rather a. large place, most beautifully situ- 
ated on a little elevation in the midst of an extensive and 
finely-wooded valley. The whole town is built of wood, 
which is used for that purpose all over Norway, Christiania 
being the only exception I have seen. The streets are wide, 
and many of the houses are very pretty. The church is 
particularly handsome, and stands on a conspicuous emi- 
nence above the rest of the town. 

The river Storri Elb runs by the place, and a short 
distance below the bridge it forms a pretty little fall. 
When I visited the spot at noon, I found the waters lighted 
up by the bright sun, and as they dashed against the rocks 
they appeared to be of the color of the clearest amber. 


There are two objects of especial interest near Kongs- 
berg, the rich silver mines, and the beautiful cataract of 
Labrafoss. As my time did not admit of my visiting both, 
I decided in favor of the water-fall, taking all the wonders 
of the mines upon hearsay. I was assured that the deepest 
shaft is sunk eight hundred feet into the ground, and that 
it is exceedingly difficult for those who are accustomed to 
the light and air, to endure the cold, the damp, and the 
strong gunpowder smell of those subterranean regions.* 

I therefore hired a horse and drove to the falls, which 
are situated in a wooded valley about a mile from Kongs- 
berg. A short distance above the cataract the stream is 
perfectly calm and tranquil ; but it suddenly rushes towards 
the precipice, and is thrown in its whole width from a great 
height. A huge rock, standing like a wall in the basin 
below, offers an impediment to the progress of the waters, 
which are heaped up behind it till they overflow this boun- 
dary, and form several other smaller falls beyond. 

I stood on a high rock, but was not out of reach of the 
spray, by which I was almost blinded. My conductor also 
led me to the foot of the cataract, and made me look at it 
from every side. I was equally impressed with the variety 
and grandeur of the spectacle wherever I saw it. I observed 
in these waters that same transparent yellow shade I had 
already noticed at Kongsberg, and which was probably 
owing to the color of the rocks, as they are of a reddish- 
brown, although the stream itself is clear and colorless. 

At four in the afternoon I left Kongsberg, and drove to 
the little village of Bolkesoe, four miles from that place. 
This part of my journey was not particularly, agreeable. 

* In the mines of Sweden and Norway the ore is generally blasted 
with gunpowder. 


The roads were generally very bad, and we were surprised 
by a dark night, among the steep hills and wooded ravines. 
I could not help fancying how easy it would have been for 
my guide, who sat close behind me in the waggon, to send 
me out of the world by one quiet blow, and possess himself 
of my effects. But, relying on the excellent character of 
the Norwegian peasantry, I dismissed the thought, and 
devoted my whole attention to guiding my horse in safety 
over all the dangers of our road. I heard no so md but the 
loud roar of a torrent, which at times seemed to be very 
near, and then again was lost in the distance. 

It was ten o'clock before we arrived at Bolkesoe. We 
drove up to the door of a mean-looking hut ; and all the 
uncomfortable nights I had spent in Iceland being still fresh 
in my memory, I was seized with horror at the prospect of 
undergoing something of the same kind again. How agree- 
able was my surprise, therefore, when my hostess led me 
up stairs to a large, neat room, containing several good 
beds, besides benches, a table, chests, and even an iron 
stove. Wherever I went in this country I found the accom- 
modations equally good. 

In those parts of Norway which are rarely visited by 
travellers, there are no regular inns or post-houses; the 
peasants who are sufficiently well off, open their cottages to 
the wayfarer, and supply him with horses. But it is advisa- 
ble that those who undertake a jpurney through this part 
of the country, should carry a store of bread with them, and 
other provisions, if possible, for there is not much to be 
obtained from the larders of these peasant landlords. Their 
cows are sent for the summer to the mountain pastures, 
fowls are too great a luxury for them to pretend to, and 
their bread which is rolled out into large round cakes not 
more than an inch thick, and sometimes even less, is very 


hard, and for those who are not used to it, scarcely eatable. 
Fish and potatoes can always be counted upon, however ; 
and when there is sufficient time to send to the hills, very 
excellent milk can also be procured. 

This scarcity of food was not the greatest annoyance to 
which I was exposed, by any means ; it was still worse with 
my other wants; but as I shall have more to say on this 
chapter by-and-by, when I have had greater experience. 
I shall dismiss the subject for the present. 

August 2Qtk. It was not till this morning that I could 
form an idea of the situation of Bolkesoe, as it was too dark 
for me to see any thing of the place last night. It lies in 
a pleasant, wooded valley, on a little eminence, near the 
pretty lake of the same name. 

There is no carriage-road from here to Tindersoe (three 
and a half miles), and I was therefore compelled to leave 
my conveyance behind me and ride the rest of the distance 
on horseback. This region is quite still and uninhabited ; 
the valleys are narrowed to ravines, and two lakes of some 
extent lie among the mountains ; the larger one. called 
Foelsoe, is of a regular outline, being about half a mile 
(German) in diameter, and encircled by a fine range of hills. 
The dark shadows cast by the fir-clad summits of the hills 
on its smooth waters have a very fine effect. I rode for 
more than one hour by the shores of this lake, and had am- 
ple time to examine it very minutely, for it is a slow pro- 
cess to accomplish a journey on horseback in this part of 
the world. The guide always accompanies you on foot, and 
the horse, who knows his master's pace of old, is only too 
willing to accommodate his own gait to that of his owner. 
We were five hours on our way to Tindersoe, where we 
were obliged to cross a large lake in order to reach the 
water-fall, which was the object of my day's ride. 


It had been raining steadily for the last mile, and the 
sky looked any thing but promising ; nevertheless I deter- 
mined to proceed at once, and hired a boat with two men 
to row me across the lake. I was afraid of a storm, when 
I knew it would be impossible to find any one to accompany 
me to the falls. Every thing being ;n readiness in an hour 
or two, I set off in a pelting shower, though the clouds.were 
not so thick, fortunately, as to prevent my seeing something 
of the beautiful scenery around me. The lake is four miles* 
long, and in places not more than half a mile in width. It 
is entirely shut in by mountains, many of which are ter- 
raced, and effectually exclude every glimpse of the prospect 
beyond. The waters are dark, almost black, from the deep 
shadows of the firs by which these hills are generally cloth- 
ed 5 and the numerous rocks, rising perpendicularly from 
the bosom of the lake, are very dangerous during a gale, 
when a boat could hardly escape being dashed to pieces 
against some of them, and the adventurous traveller would 
be very likely to find his grave on this distant strand. We 
had a favorable wind, which bore us safely to our destina- 
tion. One of the ridges of rock affords a very remarkable 

This lake is divided at its centre by an island, about a 
quarter of a mile (German) in length ; here the hills press 
forward and form many beautiful little bays, few of which 
we could enter, however, on account of the rocks and cliffs 
which abound there, and make it impossible to approach 
the shore. 

The little patches of fields and meadows spread out 

rnong the cliffs, and the cottages, frequently lying on the 

brink of the most dangerous precipices, often arrested my 

* Eighteen English miles. Tr. 


attention ; the latter were sometimes situated immediately 
beneath a hanging rock, which looked as if it might have 
rushed down into the lake at any moment, carrying with it 
every thing which lay in its way ; and I was completely at a 
loss to know whether to attribute the choice of such a perilous 
position to the recklessness or the stupidity of their in- 

A great many beautiful falls are formed by the count- 
less streams flowing into the lake, though their number was 
probably increased to-day by the torrents of rain, which 
trickled in slender, silvery rills, down all the cliffs and 
precipices. This was a fine sight, but one I would willingly 
have dispensed with for the sake of feeling the sun again. 
It is rather a serious thing to be exposed to such a deluge 
from morning till night. I was wet through ; and seeing 
no chance of improvement in the weather, as the heavy 
clouds were now spread over the whole sky, my courage 
nearly failed me, and I was on the point of turning back, 
without having obtained a sight of the finest cataract in 
Norway, when it suddenly occurred to me that every drop 
of rain must add to its beauty, and I resolved to go on at 
any cost. 

At the end of three miles and a half, we reached Hau- 
kaness, a place where it is customary to pass the night, as 
there is a very comfortable farm-house there, and the falls 
are still at a considerable distance. 

August 27th. When I looked out at the sky this morn- 
ing, alas ! it was as dark as yesterday, and my weather-wise 
hosts assured me that it was not likely to amend. Never- 
theless, as I was willing neither to turn back nor to wait, I 
had but one course, which was to go on. So I ordered my 
boat, wrapped myself in my damp cloak, and re-embarked 
in spite of the threatened showers. 


I was well, rewarded for my resolution by the beauties of 
this end of the lake ; a wide mountain boldly advances and 
divides it into two deep bays ; we steered for the one to the 
left, and landed at the little village of Mael, at the mouth 
of the river Rykaness, and half a mile from the place we 
had just left. 

Here I engaged a horse for the other two miles and a haL 
to the cataract ; the road leads through a very narrow val- 
ley, constantly decreasing in width till there is only room 
for the bed of the stream, when the path winds up the 
heights and along the sides of the cliffs and precipices. The 
foaming torrent is generally in sight, but we were some- 
times at so great a distance that we could neither see nor 
hear it. The last half mile we were obliged to walk, as 
there were so many dangerous places that it was impossible 
to proceed on horseback. /We crossed a number of little 
falls on a bridge of logs, and the path was sometimes not 
more than a foot wide. But I leaned fearlessly on the arm 
of my guide, who led me safely through all these perils. 

On a pleasant day, this ride from Haukaness must be 
perfectly delightful ; and even in spite of the rain and my 
soaking garments, I was lost in enthusiastic admiration of 
the wild and romantic scene, and would not have abandoned 
my enterprise for any consideration. Unfortunately, the 
weather became less favorable every hour, the valley was 
shrouded in the thickest mists, and the rain streamed from 
the hills till our path became a perfect brook, and we often 
walked up to our ankles in water. 

At last we reached the spot where the falls are seen to 
the best advantage. At that moment the clouds had broken 
away, and I was so fortunate as to obtain a single glimpse, 
though it was but a short one, of the vast rocky mountain 
which divides the plain, and the wide torrent rushing over 


it. dashing against the projecting cliffs, and filling the air with 
spray, when an impenetrable veil sank once more over the 
wild ravine and hid the whole scene from my eyes. I seat- 
ed myself on a rock, and remained there two hours, waiting 
for the clouds to disperse again, but in vain ; and had it 
not been for the deafening noise and the trembling of the 
rocks beneath my feet, I should not have known I was so 
near this magnificent fall. 

After long tarrying and hoping straining my eyes 
without success for the sight "of a solitary sunbeam, I was 
reluctantly compelled to leave the spot. I could hardly re- 
frain from tears as I turned away ; and had the sky become 
only a shade lighter, I should not have been able to make 
up my mind to go. 

But I could not flatter myself with the least symptom 
of improvement, and was therefore obliged to follow my 
guide to Mael, where I sorrowfully entered my boat, and 
proceeded to Tindersoe without interruption. It was ten 
o'clock when I arrived there. The cold, the rain, and above 
all, my disappointed hopes, had affected me so much that I 
went to bed quite feverish, and felt convinced I should not 
be able to continue my journey the next day. My hardy 
nature prevailed, however, and at five on the following 
morning I was ready to mount my horse for Bolkesoe. 

I had -not a moment to lose on account of the departure 
of the steamer from Christiania ; this excursion had taken 
more of my time than I had been led to expect, which was 
principally owing to the constantly recurring difficulties and 
delays in procuring horses, boats and guides. 

August 28th. My horse had been ordered this morning 
at five, but it was seven o'clock before it was brought to the 


A short tour through the interior of this country was 
sufficient to make me somewhat acquainted with the annoy- 
ances and extortion to which a stranger is exposed in Nor- 
way. I think there is no country in Europe where the ar- 
rangements for travelling are so completely in their infancy 
as this. Horses, boats, and wagons can be procured every 
where, it is true ; and the price is settled by law ; but the 
peasants and landlords who manage the whole thing, know 
how to wear out the patience of the traveller by their in- 
tentional delays, till he is ready to pay double or triple the 
sum they ask, for the sake of hurrying their movements a 
little. The stations are very short, not often more than 
a mile, or a mile and a quarter (German) ; which makes it 
necessary to be constantly changing horses. When you 
arrive, there is generally no horse to be had, or the landlord 
will try to make you believe there is .none ; you are in- 
formed that one must be brought from the mountains, and 
that it will be an hour or two before it is ready. Thus you 
travel an hour and wait two. It is also absolutely necessary 
to have with you an authentic list of charges, as every 
trifling service, such as fetching the horse, or the saddle and 
bridle, must be paid for separately, as well as the boat or 
the carriage. If you do not happen to know the regular 
sum allowed by the law, you will be very much imposed 
upon ; and although it is all set down in a book kept at 
every station, this is not of much use to strangers, as it is in 
the language of the country, with which so few are familar. 
Complaints can be entered in this book, which is examined 
once a month by the nearest justice ; but the peasants and 
hosts appeared to stand little in awe of that tribunal ; the 
guide, for instance, who accompanied me to the falls of the 
Rykanfoss, tried to impose upon me by exacting eight times 
as much as he was entitled to for the use of a saddle, and 


six times as much for bringing my horse to the door. I 
threatened him with the book, but to no purpose, for he in- 
sisted on his demand, which I was finally obliged to pay. 
When I arrived at Mael, however, I kept my word, and en- 
tered a formal complaint in the presence of a number of 
peasants. It was not that the amount was so exorbitant, 
but I was provoked by his extortion ; and I am of opinion 
that we should all endeavor to seek redress when we are 
wronged ; for even if we are not benefited thereby ourselves, 
those who come after us may be. 

I must mention to the credit of the peasants at Hauka- 
ness, that when I informed them of the misconduct of their 
companion, they were very indignant, and made no effort to 
prevent my writing down his imposition in the book. 

I had my choice of two roads to conclude my journey ; 
one of which was said to offer the most beautiful scenery in 
Norway, particularly at Kroxleben, where there is a magnifi- 
cent view. But although the rain had ceased, the sky was 
still lowering, and heavy mists hung about the valleys ; for 
which reason I preferred to return to Christiania by the 
shorter route, or the same I had already travelled. 

When I reached a little village called Muni, about a 
mile beyond Kongsberg, where I arrived at seven in the 
evening, the accommodating landlord found means to keep 
me waiting three hours for a horse. As the same thing 
was likely to happen at every station, I hired one for the 
whole distance, paying three times the usual amount ; I 
then lay down to rest for a few hours, got up again at one, 
and drove the six miles* to Christiania, in eleven hours, 
having arrived there safely the next day at two o'clock. 

During this short trip, I found the people 

* Twenty-seven English miles. Tr. 


kind and obliging whenever I had no occasion to hire their 
services ; but the whole race of innkeepers, boatmen, guides, 
and drivers, was selfish and covetous, as is usually the case 
all over the world. To find perfect uprightness and honesty 
in that class of people, I believe one should be the first tra- 
veller who has ever appeared among them. 

This excursion was quite an expensive one ; but I think 
I could have accomplished it more reasonably by taking the 
steamer to Hammerfast, and purchasing a horse and chariot 
there ; when I could have driven about the country without 
any trouble, or annoyance. But it would be a very dear 
way of travelling for a family, with a covered carriage, and 
in some places it would be out of the question to proceed 
in that manner. 

The Norwegian peasants are strong and vigorous, but 
they are by no means handsome ; their faces are not even 
agreeable. They do not seem to be very thriving, and pay 
little regard to cleanliness. They are barefooted, and gener- 
ally poorly clad. Their cottages, which are built of wood, 
and usually roofed with tiles, are larger than those of the 
Icelanders, but almost as dirty and comfortless. The Nor- 
wegians seem to have a great weakness for coffee, which 
they drink without sugar or milk. The old women smoke 
their pipes in the morning and evening, as well as the men. 

From Christiania to Kongsberg, 9 miles, (German.) 

From Kongsberg to the falls of Lakafoss, 1 " " 

From Kongsberg to Bolkosoe, 3 " " 

From Bolkosoe to Tindosoe, 3 " " 

From Tindosoe by the Lake to Maelen, 3 " " 

From Maelen to the cataract of Rykanfoss, 2 " " 

22$ miles.* 
* Ninety-nine English miles. Tr. 


faro (CjnMtraw tn Itarltfjnlm, 

August oQth. Followed by the good wishes of my kind 
countrywoman and her husband, Mr. M., I left Christiania 
at seven in the morning for Gottenburg, in the same steam- 
er which had brought me there a few days before. On this 
occasion I was able to see much of the fine scenery in the 
Christiansund or " fiord," which had been concealed by the 
darkness during my former trip. In the afternoon we 
reached the little town of Lauervig, beautifully situated on 
a natural terrace, with a range of high hills in the back- 
ground. The fortress of Friedricksver lies on a rock before 
the town, and is encircled by cliffs, among which are scat- 
tered a number of sentry-boxes. The sea is spread out to 
the left. 

Here we were detained an hour, in order to surrender 
the passengers for Bergen to the steamer which awaited 
them. This spot is the keystone of the " fiord ;" we now 
steered for the open sea, and the land soon disappearing 
from the view, nothing but sky and water were in sight till 
we reached the " Scheren," or cliffs, the next morning, and 
shortly afterwards entered the harbor of Gottenburg. 

August 31 st. We had a high sea in the night, which 
delayed us several hours, though the same circumstance 
added much to the beauties of the scene as we approached 
the fort, near which the breakers were still dashing wildly 
over the cliffs and islands. The few passengers who 3ould 
keep their feet, and were not too sea-sick to remain on 
deck, had a great deal to say of the dangers of the late 

My astonishment has often been excited by the wonder- 


ful accounts of terrific storms I have received from people, 
who have never made a longer trip than fifty or sixty miles 
perhaps, on some canal or other ; but I began to understand 
what their stories were worth when I heard my fellow-tra- 
vellers call the sharp breeze of last night, which made ra- 
ther a rough sea for us, I must admit, a violent gale ; and 
no doubt they all made the most o it when they returned 
to their homes. But storms, thank Heaven ! are not quite 
so frequent. In all my sea voyages I have been exposed 
but to one when there was real danger (for I do not con- 
sider that I ran any serious risk during my tempestuous 
passage to Iceland), and that was when I was crossing the 
Black Sea to Constantinople, in the year 1842. 

It was nine o'clock before we arrived at G-ottenburg, 
though we should have been there at six. I was rowed to 
the town at once, in order to take the first steamer for 
Stockholm by the great ship canal, which unites the river 
Gotha to several inland lakes, and opens a communication 
between the North Sea and the Baltic. 

I found the city of G-ottenburg in an unusual state of 
excitement ; the king of Sweden was there on his return 
from Christiania, where he had been to close the session of 
tire Storthing. It happened to be Sunday, and the king had 
just gone to church with his son ; the streets were thronged 
with dutiful subjects on the watch for their sovereign when 
he left the cathedral. Of course I immediately mingled 
with the crowd, and was so fortunate as to behold the royal 
pair come out of church and get into their carriage, which 
drove directly by the place where I stood. The appearance 
of both father and son was very prepossessing ; and the crowd 
could never tire of gazing and striving to catch the friendly 
salutations which they dispensed to the right and left, as 
they returned to their dwelling, followed by the whole con- 


course of people who surrounded the palace when they 
alighted, and impatiently waited for the moment when they 
would show themselves again at the window. 

I could not have seen the inhabitants of the place to 
greater advantage, as every one was dressed in their best 
attire ; soldiers, clergy, officials, burghers, and populace, 
all being desirous of cfoing honor to the presence of their 

Among the crowds of country people, I observed two 
women whose costume was rather peculiar. They wore 
black petticoats, reaching half way up to their knees, red 
stockings, a bodice of the same color, and white chemises 
with long full sleeves. A handkerchief was tied round 
their heads. A few of the burghers' wives had little caps 
like those worn in Suabia, with a small, black embroidered 
veil thrown over them, which did not conceal their faces, 

I noticed here, what had already struck me in Copen- 
hagen, a number of boys among the drummers and musi- 
cians, who could not have been more than ten or twelve 
years old. 

The king remained two days at G-ottenburg, and during 
that time all the windows were illuminated, and festooned 
with fresh flowers, every evening. A few transparencies 
were also exhibited at some of the houses, but they did 
little credit to the ingenuity of the worthy Gottenburgers, 
being all exactly alike, with an enormous u 0" (for Oscar), 
surmounted by the royal crown. 

I was detained here till Thursday, and found to my sor- 
row, that I must not expect to travel much more expedi- 
tiously in Sweden than I had done in Norway. A steamer 
had left the place for Stockholm the day I arrived, but un- 
fortunately it had gone before I landed ; and at this season 

' ' /,' 0\\' I) ED & TEA ME Li. % [ 5 

there are but two a week. Thus I lost four days. The 
time seemed very tedious to me, as I had already seen the 
town and all the fine views from the suburbs, when I was 
here before ; and the other environs of the place afford little 
variety, as it is entirely surrounded by bare cliffs and 

September kth. The crowd of passengers was so great, 
that it was impossible to obtain a berth on board the steamer 
two days before it left Gottenburg ; and many gentlemen 
and ladies who were unwilling to wait till the next oppor- 
tunity, were obliged to content themselves with a place on 
deck. This was also my case, for I had not thought of such 
a contingency, and made no attempt to take my passage till 
it was too late to secure the best accommodations. When- 
ever we stopped we added to our numbers, and it was amus- 
ing enough to see the disconcerted looks of the new-comers 
when they found where they were to pass the night. It 
was evident that most of them were quite unaccustomed to 
the discomforts of travelling. Every nook and corner was 
appropriated as a sleeping place ; a few favored ones got 
possession of the tiny cabins of the engineer and mate ; and 
others ensconced themselves on the stairs, or in the pas- 
sages. I was offered a little corner in the engineer's state- 
room, which was intended for one person, and already held 
three or four ; but I preferred spending the night on deck, 
and one of the gentlemen having been so kind as to offer 
me a large cloak, I rolled myself in it, and slept more com- 
fortably than my companions in their close quarters. 

The accommodations on board the steamers which ply 
on the G-otha Canal, are not very delightful at the best ; the 
first class state-rooms are well enough, and each contains 
two or three berths. But the second cabin is very inferior, 


hammocks are swung in the saloon which is used in the day 
time for an eating-room. The arrangements for the lug- 
gage are worse yet ; the boats are small, and somewhat 
crowded for space, and the trunks, chests, portmanteaus, 
&c., are piled up on deck, with nothing to keep them in their 
places, and no protection from the weather. The sequel 
will show the result of this culpable carelessness. The rain 
and the high waves of some of the inland seas covered the 
lower deck with water, and most of the trunks were wet 
through before we reached the end of our journey ; and dur- 
ing a storm on the lake of Wenner, the boat pitched so 
much that the passengers were often threatened with the 
downfall of the whole pile, or came occasionally very near 
having a trunk or two roll over on their heads. The fare, on 
the other hand, is very reasonable, which surprised me not 
a little, as the numerous locks must make this canal a very 
expensive one. 

But now to my journey. We were off by five in the 
morning, and soon found ourselves in the River G-otha, whose 
shores are flat and uncultivated, and its valley bounded 
with a chain of barren, stony hills. At the end of two 
miles (German) we reached the little town of Kongelf, 
which has about 1,000 inhabitants; it lies among rocks 
which partially conceal it from the view ; the ruins of the 
old fortress of Bogas are seen on a, cliff opposite the town. 
From here the prospect improves in beauty. Patches of 
wood are seen among the cliffs ; little valleys open on both 
sides,, and the river itself, which is divided by an island, 
expands a little beyond this place to a considerable width. 
The cottages of the peasants appeared larger and neater 
than they were in Norway ; they were generally of a brick- 
red, and often grouped tegether in clusters. 

At Lilla Edet we came to the first lock, of which there 


are five at this place, and while the boat was passing through 
them, we had an opportunity of seeing the falls of the Gotha, 
which are broad and full, though rather low. 

The canal then sweeps for some distance behind the fall, 
and is either dug through the rock or confined within stone 
walls. The scenery around Akerstrom resembles a beauti- 
ful park; the valley is narrowed by fine hills, and the 
stream occupies its whole width, barely allowing space 
enough for a few little paths leading through the fir-woods 
which skirt the shores. 

In the afternoon we reached the celebrated locks of 
Trolhatta, a magnificent work, well worthy of the most 
powerful nations, and much beyond what one would expect 
from a country like Sweden. The eleven locks rise by gra- 
dations to the height of a hundred and twelve feet in the 
distance of three thousand five hundred feet. Their chan- 
nel is wide and deep, dug through the rock, and paved with 
flags ; they rise like the solitary steps of a gigantic stair- 
way, under which name they might take their place among 
the wonders of the world. Each lock is closed by a heavy 
gate, while the boat is slowly lifted to the level of the next. 
The scenery around is wild and romantic. 

As soon as we arrived at this spot, we were assailed by 
a crowd of boys, who offered themselves as guides to con- 
duct us to the Falls of Trolhatta. There is ample time for 
this excursion, as the steamer is detained here four hours, 
and it can be accomplished with ease in two. But the tra- 
veller should first take a bird's-eye view of the locks from 
a pavilion standing on a high rock which overlooks them 

The road through the woods to Trelhatta is exceeding- 
ly pretty, and the village itself is beautifully situated in a 
lovely valley, surrounded by hills and woodland, on tin 


bank of the river, whose white and foaming waters are 
strongly contrasted with its dark fringe of evergreens. The 
canal is only partially visible from this point, the last locks 
being concealed behind a small group of rooks ; and it was 
not without astonishment that we saw first the masts and 
then the boat itself appear above them, as if it were shoved 
into our sight by invisible hands. 

This fall is less remarkable for its height, than for its 
variety and the great volume of its waters. The principal 
stream is divided into two nearly equal cataracts by a rocky 
island on the extreme edge of the precipice, which is ap- 
proached by a long and narrow chain bridge, so frail that 
only one person can cross it at a time. It is kept locked 
by the owner, who charges ten kreuzers 0. M.,* for admit- 

I must confess myself to have been very much frighten- 
ed while I crossed the foaming torrent alone, and hardly 
ventured to look to the right or left, till I reached the 
island, where I could stand in a place of safety and look 
down upon the two falls on either side of me, and four or 
five others above , and below the bridge. It was a sight 
upon which I could have gazed for ever. 

The stream expands almost to the midst of a lake be 
yond Trolhatta, being divided into several arms by a num- 
ber of islands. But- the banks soon lose most of their beau- 
ties, and become quite flat and uninteresting. We reached 
the fine lake of Wenner (ten or twelve milesf long and seve- 
ral wide), too late in the evening to pass judgment upon its 
scenery ; and at the insignificant little borough of Wen- 
nersborg we were detained several hours. In the course of 

* Eight cents. Tr. 

From fort -fivo to fift-four miles. 

TKD10 US I) EL A Y. 2 1 9 

the day we had met at least six or eight steamers all owned 
by Swedish and Norwegian merchants, and it was a curious 
and interesting spectacle to watch these boats as they pass- 
ed up and* down through the different locks. 

September 5th. We were overtaken by a storm short- 
ly after we left Wennersborg, quite late in the evening, and 
our captain, after driving about the lake all night, consider 
ed it prudent to return to his anchorage till the wind abated, 
as our steamer was none of the strongest, and we had al- 
ready lost a boat during the gale, which was carried off by a 
large wave, having been probably no better secured than 
our luggage. 

At nine in the morning, the captain gave notice that we 
should proceed no further to-day. If all went well we might 
resume our course towards midnight. Fortunately a fisher- 
man's skiff lay near us, and a few of the passengers took the 
opportunity of going on shore. I was among the number, and 
to kill time I visited some of the cottages lying on the edge 
of a wood near the water. They showed traces of poverty, 
but generally contained two rooms, with several beds and 
other articles of furniture. The inhabitants were rather 
better clothed than in Norway, and they seemed to be mak- 
ing a tolerable meal of coarse black flour, boiled to a thick 
pap, and eaten with sweet milk. 

September 6th. Shortly after midnight we were on our 
way again, and five hours afterwards we reached the little 
rocky island of Eken, which is surrounded by others of still 
smaller size. This is one of the most important landings 
of the lake. A wooden warehouse of respectable size near 
the shore, contains the produce of the neighborhood, which 
is shipped on board the steamers at this place, where there 
are always several boats at anchor. 

Passing through the group of islands we found ourselves 


once more in the wide lake, which has little to distinguish it 
beyond its size. The shores are generally bare and monot- 
onous, only displaying a few hills and woodlands, and the 
back-ground is equally tame. The Castle of Leko occupies 
one of the best situations, lying on a rock surrounded with 
thick woods. A little farther on is the Kinne Kulle (kulle is 
the Swedish for hill), commanding an extensive prospect, 
not only of the lake but the adjacent country ; and it is said 
to contain a remarkable cave \ but unfortunately we flew by 
all these wonders, without being permitted to pause and 
visit them. 

At Bromoe there is a large glass manufactory, exclu- 
sively devoted to window panes ; we stopped here and took 
a great quantity on board. The buildings of the factory 
and other small houses, are very pleasantly situated on a 
height among the woods. 

At Sjotorp we passed through several locks out of the 
lake into the river again. The sail across Lake "VVenner 
had occupied above eleven hours. The stream winds through 
woodlands, and while the boat is toiling through the locks, 
we were able to enjoy an agreeable variety by walking part 
of the distance over a shady road. The wide valleys be- 
yond this place offer nothing remarkable to the eye. 

September 1th. Early this morning we passed through 
the pretty little Vikensoe, which, like all the other Swedish 
lakes, is rich in islands, and sprinkled with rocks and cliffs. 
The islets are generally overgrown with trees, which give an 
additional charm to their appearance. This little sheet of 
water lies three hundred and six feet above the level of the 
North Sea ; we had now reached the highest point, and we 
began to descend at every lock ; the whole number through 
which we passed was seventy. 


A short canal leads to the Bottensee, resembling a 
glassy mirror, broken by a few islets. The sail through 
this little lake is exceedingly pleasant ; the shores are diver- 
sified by ranges of hills, woods, valleys, fields and meadows. 
Lake Wetter, the next in the chain, is guarded by the for- 
tress of Karlsborg, and possesses two peculiarities ; one is 
the extraordinary clearness of its waters, and the other the 
frequent storms by which it is agitated, when the immediate 
neighborhood is quiet and undisturbed. The gales are said 
to spring up so unexpectedly, that it is often impossible to 
escape them, and many wonderful stories are told of the 
misdeeds of the genius of this little lake ; but we defied his 
malice and p assedgayly on without feeling its effects. Wad- 
stena is a beautiful building on the shores of the lake, used 
as a convent, or chapter, for single ladies of noble birth. 
Near Mount Omberg a celebrated battle was once fought. 

The next canal is short, and leads through pleasant 
woodlands to the little lake of Norrby. Travellers often 
walk this distance for the sake of seeing the monument of 
Count Platen, who conceived the plan of this gigantic enter- 
prise. It is inclosed within an iron railing j the tomb is 
covered with a marble slab, on which there is a simple 
inscription, with his name, and the date of his birth and 
death, in Swedish. On the opposite side of the canal is the 
little town of Motala, with its great manufactory of iron 

There are fifteen locks between the lakes of Norrby and 
Roxen, and the descent is a hundred and sixteen feet. The 
canal leads here through a pleasant country, crossed by fine 
roads and enlivened by neat houses and a few large buildings. 
The steeples of the village of Norrby are seen, though the 
place itself is nearly concealed by the woods ; and we only 
caught an occasional glimpse of it as we hurried along. The 


waters of this canal were of a bright, transparent green, and 
shone in the sun like the purest chrysolite. 

There is a very fine view from a height near lake Roxen, 
overlooking a large plain, scattered with woods, rocks and 
hillocks j a deej> bay stretches far into the woodlands, and 
on its shores lies a little town, whose varnished roofs glisten- 
ed in the last rays of the evening sun. While the boat was 
making its way through the locks we visited the church of 
Vretakloster, where the remains of several Swedish kings 
are preserved in handsomely wrought metallic coffins. We 
then crossed the lake, which is at least a mile in width, and 
stopped for the night at the entrance of the last canal, which 
was to lead us on the following morning into the waters of the 

September 8th. This canal is one of the longest, and 
crosses a large and rather handsome plain, where the little 
town of Soderkoping lies among a group of picturesque 
rocks, extending to' a great distance, in several directions. 

In Sweden, as well as in Norway, every valley, and every 
spot of earth is inhabited, and industriously cultivated. 
The country people seemed to be tolerably well dressed, 
and their houses were generally very comfortable ; many of 
the windows were ornamented with neat white curtains. I 
had ample time to visit a number of cottages, during the 
journey, which was a very tedious one ; I really believe I 
could have walked the whole distance from Gottenburg to 
Stockholm, and arrived as soon as the steamer ; for we not 
only lost a great deal of time in passing the locks, but we 
were also obliged to stop every night, because it is impossi- 
ble to go through in the dark, and consequently we were 
five whole days in accomplishing less than forty-five German 


It was not till afternoon that we reached the shores of 
the Baltic, which bear a perfect resemblance to those of the 
North Sea ; the same islands and reefs, the same cliffs and 
rocks, and we were as much at a loss as before to imagine 
how we could steer our course unharmed through so many 
impediments. The shores are indented by bays and rivers, 
lakes of various sizes are formed among the islands and 
woodlands, shut in by fine hills. The site of the castle of 
Storry Husby, on a high mountain in the bosom of one of the 
bays, is unsurpassed. A beautiful meadow is spread like a 
carpet from the rocky prominence to the water, and the back 
ground is filled in with magnificent fir-woods. Not far from 
this beautiful scene is a wooded islet, with a tower belonging 
to the great ruin of Stegeborg. It is not easy to imagine a 
more romantic prospect than the whole sail through this 
fiord, which presents an incessant variety of lovely views. 

Gradually, however^ the hills decrease in size, the islands 
become less frequent, and the sea, repulsing every other 
object of attraction, appears desirous to engage alone the 
attention of the traveller ; nothing remaining in sight but 
the sky and water, excepting the numerous cliffs, which it 
requires all the skill of a careful pilot to avoid. 

September Qth. To-day we left the sea again, and sailed 
through a short canal into the lake of Malar, celebrated for 
the number of its islands. The little town of Sotulje is 
beautifully situated in a valley at its outlet, at the foot of a 
steep hill. The lake at first is like a broad river, but it 
soon widens to a great extent ; we were four hours crossing 
it, and were in constant raptures at the beauty of the sce- 
nery. There are said to be a thousand islands scattered 
about in these waters, which we could readily believe when 
we observed how they were crowded in ever-changing groups. 


forming streams and bays and a chain of smaller lakes, like 
those in the magnificent fiord we had just left. 

The shores are equally attractive ; the hills and moun- 
tains sometimes press close to the water, and dangerous 
ramparts are formed in places by their steep and rocky 
sides ; the same beautiful variety, which I have already 
described so often, of dark .woods and smiling valleys, 
meadows, fields, villages and farm-houses, rapidly succeed 
each other. Many of my fellow-passengers thought there 
was something monotonous in these very changes, but I 
could not agree with them ; and I could have crossed 'this 
lake times without number and not have been satiated with 
admiring its beauties. The majestic accessories of the Swiss 
lakes were wanting, it is true ; but no other sheet of water 
possesses the peculiar charm lent to this one by its thousand 

On the summit of a steep declivity, such as there are 
several around the lake, a high pole is erected to which is 
fastened the hat of the unfortunate Eric. History relates 
that this king having fled from the field of battle was over- 
taken by a soldier on this spot, and, overwhelmed with shame 
at the reproaches of his subject, he desperately put spurs 
to his horse, and, clearing the precipice with one bound, dis- 
appeared for ever beneath the waters of the lake. His 
hat, which fell from his head as he made the plunge, was 
preserved to commemorate the event. 

Not far from this point the suburbs of Stockholm first 
appear in sight, stretching along an arm of the lake ; they 
are built like an amphitheatre on the rocky shores. Many 
pleasant country-houses are scattered about the slopes and 
hillocks; and the magnificent royal castle, built in the 
Italian style, and the Ritterholmer Church, with its towers 
of cast-iron and filagree-work, are already conspicuous in 


the distance, while the city itself, which covers the whole 
extremity of the lake, is spread beyond the suburbs on both 

We had hardly anchored in the haven of Stockholm, 
when several herculean women stepped forward and offered 
us their services as porters. They were Dalecarlians,* who 
abound in this capital, and earn their living by carrying 
luggage or water, rowing boats, and other occupations 
usually appropriated by the stronger sex. They have no 
lack of employment, being honest, industrious, and as strong 
and capable of enduring fatigue as any man. 

They wear short black: petticoats, red bodices, white 
chemises with long sleeves, short and narrow aprons of two 
colors, red stockings, and shoes with very thick wooden 
soles. They generally bind a handkerchief around their 
heads, or else they have a very small black cap which 
merely covers the back of their hair. 

It is easy to procure furnished apartments in Stockholm, 
or even single rooms, which can be hired from day to day 
at a moderate price, and they are consequently in great 
demand. I looked out for such a little chamber, and found 
a neat and cheerful one, which I engaged for a rix dollar a 
day, or, according to our money, thirty-two kreuzers ;f my 
morning's coffee being also supplied for that sum. 


As the principal object of the journey I am now relating 
was my visit to Iceland, and my hurried excursion through 

* Dalecarlia is a Swedish province, twenty German miles north of 

f About twenty-five cents. Tr. 


this small part of Scandinavia was a secondary considera- 
tion, I shall no doubt be forgiven if my account of it is as 
short as possible ; and these countries have also been so 
well described by other travellers, that my relation can 
possess but little interest for most readers. 

I remained at Stockholm six days, and did not lose one 
moment of that time. The town is situated at the junction 
of the Baltic and the lake of Malar, or, more properly, these 
waters are united here by a short canal, on whose banks 
are many of the finest buildings of the place. 

My first visit was to the magnificent Ritterholm Church, 
which is more like a vault and an armory than a religious 
edifice. The lower part is devoted to the royal sepulchres, 
and the monuments of the departed sovereigns are in the 
side-chapels. Equestrian statues of armed knights are 
ranged on both sides of the nave, whose equipments were 
once worn by different kings of Sweden. The walls and 
corners of the upper part of the church are adorned with 
flags and standards, said to number as many as five thou- 
sand. The keys of conquered fortresses and towns are 
suspended in the side-chapels, and drums and kettle-drums 
are piled on the floors, all of which trophies have been 
wrung from the enemies of Sweden on the field of battle. , 

Besides these warlike ornaments, the chapels contain, 
inclosed in glass cases, parts of the dress and accoutrements 
worn by some of the Swedish monarehs. The uniform worn 
by Charles XII. at the time of his death, and the hat 
through which passed the bullet that killed him, were par- 
ticularly interesting to me ; his riding-boots are near them 
on the floor. Not less remarkable is the contrast presented 
by the modish attire and the hat covered with gold and 
feathers which once belonged to the late king, the founder 
of the present dynasty. 

The Church of Saint Nicholas, on the same side of the 


canal, is the handsomest Protestant place of worship I have 
ever seen. Traces of the former Catholic times in which 
it was built are plainly visible, and its ancient ornaments 
have been left in a great measure as they were in those 
days. Several oil paintings, a number of monuments of 
different ages, and a great deal of gilding, adorn the interior. 
The organ is large and handsome. The entrance of the 
church is embellished by bas-reliefs in stone, and above it 
is a wooden statue, larger than life, of the archangel Mi- 
chael on horseback, with the vanquished dragon at his feet. 

Not far from this edifice is the royal palace, which I 
shall not attempt to describe, for my pen could not do 
justice to the magnificence and splendor not only of its 
exterior but of the decorations of the apartments inside. 
It is enough to mention, that I have seen nothing to equal 
it in all my travels, with the exception of the residences of 
the King of Naples, in which I include Caserta. It is not 
without astonishment that I beheld such a profusion of 
luxury and ornament in this northern kingdom, which is by 
no means endowed with a superfluity of riches. 

The Schifferholm Church is only remarkable for its 
situation and its temple form. It stands on a rock nearly 
opposite the palace, on a bay of the Baltic, which reaches 
to this spot and is crossed by a long bridge of boats. Saint 
Catharine's is another large and handsome church, near 
which is a stone where one of the Sturre brothers* was 

* The Sturre family was one of the most distinguished in Sweden. 
Sten Sturre introduced printing into Sweden, endowed the University 
of Upsala, and attracted many learned men to the country. He was 
mortally wounded in a battle with the Danes, and died in 1520. 

His two successors in the regency, Suante Nilson Sturre and the 
son of the latter, Sten Sturre the younger, also live in the grateful 
remembrance of their countrymen for their patriotic exploits. 


The Ritterplace contains the Ritterhouse, a remarkably 
fine structure, the old royal castle, and seyeral other private 
and princely residences, by no means to be compared, how- 
ever, either in size or numbers, with those at Copenhagen. 
The streets and squares are also much inferior to those 
in that town. 

Gross-Mossbecken, one of the hills in the suburbs, affords 
the finest view of Stockholm. It overlooks the sea and the 
lake, the town and its suburbs, extending to the tops of the 
rocky hillocks, and the pleasant country-houses, which lie 
in all directions on the banks of the water. The rocks and 
islands crowded in among the houses, and included within 
the limits of the city, offer a peculiarity which Stockholm 
possesses alone, and the situation of that place is certainly 
unsurpassed by that of any other capital in the world. The 
whole scene is inclosed in ranges of rock and wood-covered 
hills, stretching far out of sight in the distance ; few mea- 
dows or fields are mingled with this grand and magnificent 

On leaving this hill one should not fail to visit the 
enormous iron-warehouses of Sodermalm ; the metal is plied 
in huge bars in two large squares. The corn-market is not 
rema'rkable. Among the other edifices deserving of notice, 
are the bank, the mint, the guard-house, the palace of the 
crown-prince, the theatre, and a few others. The last men- 
tioned building is interesting from having been the scene 
of the murder of Gustavus III., who was shot at a great 
masked ball given in this theatre, and survived but a few 

The theatre is not open every night. The evening I 
visited it, a great festivity also took place at the Museum 
of Ancient Art : the distinguished artist, Vogelberg. a 
native of Sweden, had finished three colossal statues of the 


heathen deities, Thor, Valdor, and Odin, which <had lately 
arrived from Rome, and they were to be exhibited for his 
benefit in the great saloon, which was lighted up for the 
occasion. A numerous company had been asked to at- 
tend, and hymns were to be sung when the statues were 
uncovered. I was so fortunate as to receive an invitation 
to this ceremony, which was to commence at seven o'clock ; 
but first I went to the theatre. I was told it would open 
at half-past six, and thought I could spend half an hour 
there before I met my friends at the palace, from whence 
we were to go to the fete. I was at the theatre by six, and 
waited impatiently for the first stroke of the overture ; but 
at half-past six there were still no signs of its beginning. 
Upon examining my bill I then discovered, to my great 
dismay, that the opera would not commence till seven ; but 
as I was unwilling to go without having at least seen the 
curtain rise, I amused myself for another half hour with 
observing the decorations and arrangements of the house. 
It is rather large, and consists of five stories, but is not 
conspicuous for ornament or luxury. The price of the 
tickets is very high, and there is a great difference in the 
seats ; I counted twenty-six of various kinds, each of which 
had a settled price. 

At last the overture began, I heard it through, the 
curtain rolled up, and I saw the fatal spot where the king 
had fallen. This satisfied me, and as soon as the first 
air was finished, I rose to go. The person who sold the 
tickets hastened after me, and, seizing me by the arm, 
wished to supply me with a return-ticket ; but when I told 
him that I did not need it, as I had no intention of coming 
back, he insisted that the performance had just begun, and 
I had thrown away my money if I did not stay. Unfortu- 
nately, I knew so little Swedish I could not plainly set 


before him* all the important reasons which hurried me 
away ; so, without explaining myself, T silently took my 
leave. As I went, I overheard him telling an acquaintance, 
" Well, here is a woman who has sat for half an hour before 
the curtain, and as soon as it is raised she hurries off." I 
turned round, and saw him lay his finger significantly on 
his forehead and shake his head in a doubtful manner. I 
smiled, and considered this adventure as the second act of 
the dumb guest in Mozart's Don Juan. 

Having joined my friends at the royal palace, we pro- 
ceeded to our engagement, and I spent a delightful even- 
ing in the illuminated hall of the antiques and in the 
picture-gallery. I also had the pleasure of becoming per- 
sonally acquainted with Mr. Vogelberg, whose modest and 
unassuming deportment would have prepossessed me in his 
favor, even had it not been for the additional claim which his 
remarkable talents confer upon the admiration of all who 
know him. 

The royal park near Stockholm is a place well worth 
visiting, as it is difficult to imagine any thing finer of its 
kind. Nature has done every thing for the place, which 
abounds in beautiful woodlands, meadows, rocks, and hills ; 
and among them are scattered delightful country-houses, 
surrounded with flower-gardens and tasteful cafes and hotels, 
which are crowded with visitors from the city on Sundays. 
The park is traversed by excellent roads, and numerous 
paths lead in every direction to the most beautiful sites and 

A bust of the celebrated and favorite poet Bellmann is 
placed in a pleasant spot, where a festival is held in his 
memory every year. 

The Yale of Roses, a favorite part of this park, is a 
perfect little Eden. This resort was much beloved by the 


late king, who is said to have passed many hours in the 
small pleasure-castle which lies in a retired spot among the 
woodlands and flower-beds. There is a magnificent basin, 
cut out of a single piece of porphyry, in front of the castle. 
I was assured that it was the largest in Europe, but I am 
of opinion there is one in the Museum at 'Naples of much 
greater size. 

In the garden I passed the last agreeable hours which 
I was destined to spend with a most amiable family from 
Finland, called Boje, whose acquaintance I had made du- 
ring the passage from Gottenburg to Stockholm ; and the 
j)lace will always be doubly dear to my recollection on their 

I made another very pleasant excursion to one of the 
King's palaces at Haga, and visited at the same time the 
great cemetery and the military school at Karlberg. Haga 
is surrounded by a fine park, to which art could add but 
few attractions ; it is beautifully diversified by patches of 
woodland, meadow, majestic alleys, and lovely hills, the 
whole crossed by a number of roads and paths in excellent 
order. The castle itself is not large, and bears witness to 
the simple tastes of the reigning family. It is said to be 
the smallest of their country-seats. 

Opposite this park is the cemetery, which, having only 
been planned about seventeen years ago, still presents rather 
a new appearance. This would be of little consequence in 
any other land, but in Sweden the burying-grounds are used 
as public walks, and have fine alleys, with arbors and seats. 
This one is surrounded by dark woods, which shut it in 
completely from the outer world. It is the only burying- 
place outside of the city, the others all lying near the 
churches, and amid the houses, whose fronts often form 
their walls. Interments are still allowed to take place 


there, which is certainly familiarizing oneself very tho- 
roughly with the presence of the dead. 

A fine road leads from the great cemetery through a 
wood to Karlberg, where cadets and midshipmen receive 
their education. The large building appropriated for the 
school is situated on a rocky hill, washed on one side by 
an arm of the sea, and surrounded on the other by a hand- 
some park. 

Before I left Stockholm, I had the honor of being pre- 
sented to her Majesty, the reigning queen, who had heard 
of my travels, and took an especial interest in my journey 
to the Holy Land. In consequence of this distinction, I 
was allowed the uncommon privilege of visiting the interior 
of the palace, when not only the state apartments, but even 
the private rooms of the whole court were laid open to my 
inspection, although they were occupied at the time. I 
should hardly know how to begin, were I to attempt a de- 
scription of the splendid furniture, the treasures of art, and 
the exquisite taste which prevailed every where through- 
out the building. I was bewildered by the number of rare 
and costly objects I saw \ but the friendly and gracious in- 
terest which her Majesty expressed in my wanderings, made 
a still deeper impression, and the moments I was permitted 
to spend in her presence will always form a bright spot 
among the recollections of my northern tour. 

torsiim to tyt nfo Enpl <teth nf (Uripsjjnlm, mr 
tjj? Into nf aBfltar. 

Every Sunday morning, at eight o'clock, a small steam 
boat leaves Stockholm for this castle, and accomplishes 
the distance of eight German miles in four hours ; after re- 


maining at that place for the same length of time, it returns 
to the capital in the evening. I found this excursion a 
very interesting one, although the only part of the scenery 
which was new to me was the deep bay, at the extreme end 
of which is situated the castle of Gripsholm ; squally re- 
markable for its size, and its architecture^ and above all, 
for its colossal projecting towers. Unfortunately, the build 
ing is greatly disfigured by being colored of that favorite 
shade of brick-red so common all over Sweden. 

The fore-court contains two enormous guns very hand-' 
soniely wrought, which were captured in one of the wars 
with Russia. The apartments in the castle, which are still 
in good order, are not furnished with any degree of prodi- 
gality or splendor ; though the beautiful theatre may per- 
haps be considered an exception, as its walls are covered 
with mirrors from top to bottom ; the pillars are gilded, 
and the royal box is lined throughout with costly red vel- 
vet. It has not been used since the days of Gustavus III. 

The walls of this ancient building are extraordinarily 
massive ; those of the lower stories are at least three ells 
in thickness. The upper rooms are large and high, and 
most of the windows command a very fine view of the sea. 
With a sigh we turned from these lovely pictures, and re- 
verted to the sad events which had taken place in this 

King John III. and King Eric XIV. spent many years 
in close confinement within its walls ; the latter was accom- 
panied by four of his councillors, who afterwards lost their 
heads on the scaffold. 

The imprisonment of John III. was far from rigorous, 
as he was allowed the use of a large and handsome room, 
and enjoyed the society of his wife, who occupied two small 
apartments near his own. She was a voluntary captive, 


and was at liberty to leave the castle whenever she chose. 
Sigismund, son of this royal pair, was born here in 1566, 
and the room where he first saw the light was pointed out 
to ine. The monarch was not permitted to cross the thres- 
hold of his magnificent saloon, which he would no doubt 
have gladly exchanged for any peasant's hut, for the sake 
of calling himself free. 

Eric XIV. endured a much harder fate ; he was con- 
fined to a small, dark room, in one of the towers, with grated 
windows and a heavy oak door, through an opening in which 
he daily received his meals ; for greater security, there was 
also an iron door beyond. The room was surrounded by a 
narrow gallery, where guards kept watch over the king by 
day and by night. The unhappy prisoner is said to have 
stood for hours at a time at one of the little windows, with 
his head resting on his hands, gazing at the beautiful scene 
without. What must have been his fe.elings, when he looked 
upon the bright heavens, the smooth green turf, and the 
glistening sea ? How many of his sighs must have mingled 
with the breath of heaven, how many sleepless nights, 
how many days of anxious solicitude for the future, did 
he wear away during the two long years he spent in this 
narrow room ! 

Our guide assured us that the floor was more worn in 
that particular spot, and even the window-sill showed marks 
of his repeated visits ; but I cannot say that I observed 
any such traces. After two years of close captivity in this 
place, Eric was removed to another dungeon. 

The castle of Gripsholm has a picture-gallery of some 
extent, containing many royal portraits not only of the Swe- 
dish monarchs, but those of other countries, from the middle 
ages to our own time. There are also likenesses of distin- 
guished statesmen, generals, painters, poets, historians, and 

T<> Ui'^ALA. 235 

men of science ; every Swede, ill short, who has gained any 
reputation for himself or his country, and the most cele- 
brated beauties of the nation, are also allowed a place in. 
this distinguished band. The name and the date of the 
birth of each individual is placed on their portrait, and it 
is easy to seek out one's favorites without having recourse 
to a catalogue or a cicerone. For correctness of design or 
beauty of coloring, these pictures are certainly not remark, 
able ; let us hope, however, that the fidelity of the likeness 
atones for their want of merit in those respects. 

On my return several interesting sites were pointed out 
to me by some of my obliging fellow-passengers. Among 
them was Kakeholm, where the lake attains its greatest 
width ; the rocky island of Esmoi, on which a battle was 
won by a noted Swedish heroine ; Norsberg, where an en- 
gagement also took place ; and Sturrehof, the fine estate of 
a great Swedish family. A simple cross at Bjarkesoe is 
stationed on the spot where Christianity is said to have 
been first preached in Sweden. The lake of Malar is 
equally remarkable for its historical reminiscences and for 
the constant variety of its natural beauties, in which two 
respects it is not surpassed by any sheet of water in 

3mtrim[ fa. iUpsala mft tte 3nm IBnrks uf Itanra. 

September 12th. Between Stockholm and Upsala there 
is a constant intercourse ; a little steamboat plies daily 
(Sundays excepted) between the two places, the distance 
being nine German miles,* which is accomplished in six 

* Forty and a half English miles. TV. 


Attracted by this facility for visiting so renowned a 
city, I took my passage one beautiful evening in the steamer 
for ITpsala, and found myself very unpleasantly surprised 
the next morning by torrents of rain. However, I was too 
old a traveller to allow myself to be much disconcerted, 
and embarking at half-past seven, I was conveyed to my 
destination exactly as if I had been a bale of merchandise ; 
being obliged to remain quietly seated in the crowded ca- 
bin, without even enjoying the privilege of looking out of 
the window, for the rain without and the heat within made 
it impossible to distinguish any thing through the moisten- 
ed panes. Contrary to my custom, I did not go on deck, 
because I relied on being able to see all I was now losing, 
on my return. 

At three o'clock, after I had been an hour at Upsala, 
the weather began to clear up, and I immediately went out 
to explore the town. 

My first visit was to the beautiful cathedral. I paused 
at the main entrance and admired the high roof, which 
rests on two rows of pillars, and covers the whole church in 
one unbroken line. The interior of the building is devoid 
of ornament, with the exception of a chapel near the princi- 
pal altar, where the remains of Grustavus I. are deposited 
between those of his two consorts ; the ceiling of this 
chapel is blue and sprinkled with golden stars, and the mo- 
nument which covers his tomb is of marble, but in no way 
remarkable excepting from its size ; it consists of a sarco- 
phagus on which repose the three figures as large as life, and 
is surmounted by a marble baldaquin. The walls of the 
chapel are covered with fresco paintings commemorating 
the most important events in the life of this monarch ; one 
of the pictures represents him in a peasant's dress, on the 
point of entering a hut at the very moment when eager in- 

UPSALA. 237 

quiries about him are addressed to its owner ; and another 
when, in the same attire, he is standing on a barrel and har- 
anguing his subjects. The pictures are all explained in, two 
large tablets, framed in gold and painted in fresco ; but, unfor- 
tunately for stangers, they are in the Swedish language, and 
not, as is generally the case on such occasions, in Latin. 
Thus every native has an opportunity of becoming familiar 
with the history of this king. 

The most remarkable monuments in the other chapels 
are those of Catherine Magelone, John III.,. Grustavus 
Erick'son, who was beheaded, and the brothers Sturre, who 
were murdered. That of Archbishop Menander, is a speci- 
men of more modern art ; it is of white marble and in very 
good taste. The great Linnaeus also rests under a plain 
stone in this church ; his monument is not above his grave, 
but is placed in one of the side chapels, and consists of a 
remarkably beautiful slab of dark brown porphyry, on which 
his likeness is cut in high relief. The organ in this church 
is uncommonly fine and nearly reaches to the ceiling. A 
few precious relics are kept in a separate room, where I saw 
in a glass box the blood-stained garments of the unfortu- 
nate brothers Sturre, and observed the rents made by the 
blows of the poniard by which they were laid low. A 
wooden image of the heathen god Thor, is also preserved 
here, which appears to have been originally an Ecce Homo, 
and probably adorned some village chapel, from whence it 
was torn by the unbelievers, who have mutilated and dis- 
figured it even beyond the attempts of the first artist, who 
must have possessed no small talent in that way, and it is 
now an absolute scarecrow. 

The burying-ground, not far from the church, is re- 
markable for its beauty and extent ; it is surrounded by a 
stone wall, surmounted by an iron railing, each about two 


feet high, with a row of stone pillars at equal distances. 
This cemetery, like that of Stockholm, resembles a pleasant 
garden, with wide alleys, arbors, and grass-plots ; but it has 
the advantage of being much older, and in a more finished 
condition. The graves are half concealed by shrubbery ; 
many are adorned with flowers and wreaths, or encircled by 
hedges of roses. The whole place is much more like an 
agreeable resort for the living than a place of repose for 
the dead. 

There are only two tomb-stones that are at all conspi- 
cuous, and these are formed by huge rocks left in their na- 
tural state, which stand erect above the grave. One of 
them is exactly like a mountain ; it covers the ashes of a 
general, and is certainly large enough to accommodate 
those of all his host ; his survivors must have heard of the 
Trojan mounds. The inscription on the enormous tablet 
is peculiar, and appears to be in the Runic character ; this 
extraordinary monument thus uniting two vestiges of the 
ancient times from very diiferent quarters of the globe. 

The University of Upsala is a large and handsome build- 
ing, situated on a hillock and offering a fine facade to the 
town ; a park has been lately inclosed in its rear. Near this 
edifice, and upon the same eminence, is a royal castle conspi- 
cuous for its red walls ; it is very large, and has two mas- 
sive towers at the corners in front. In the centre of the 
vestibule is a bust of Grustavus I., larger than life ; a few 
artificial mounds like bastions are mounted with guns, and 
this spot, which is the highest in the neighborhood, com- 
mands a very fine view. 

The little town itself is built of wood and stone ; it is 
a pretty place, intersected by three fine wide streets, and 
adorned with a great many handsome garden spots ; but I 
could not admire the dark brownish-red with which the 

.I/AY/-;."' of r> A:\KMO HA. 239 

houses were colored, as I thought it gave a sombre appear- 
ance to the place even during the brightest sunshine. 

The environs are agreeable ; a wide and fruitful plain 
was sprinkled with light green meadows and yellow stubble- 
fields, contrasting with the dark woodlands ; the silver 
course of the river Fyris can be traced in the distance, and 
in the background are deep woods, in whose shades the 
eye is completely lost. The plain is crossed by excellent 

Before I left my post on the bastion, I cast a look at 
the garden stretched out at my feet and separated by a 
street from the castle ; it was not large, but appeared to be 
beautifully laid out. 

I should have been' glad to visit the botanical gardens 
which were the favorite resort of ^Linnaeus, where a fine 
bust of that great botanist is to be seen ; but the sun had 
now sunk behind the hills, and I repaired to my little cham- 
ber, to prepare for my journey to Daneinora on the morrow. 

September 13tk. I left Upsala at four o'clock in the 
morning, on my way to the celebrated mines which are seven 
miles from that place, having set off so early in the hope of 
being present when a rock was blasted in the pits, which 
were closed as soon as it was over. I had been told so 
often of the perpetual delays I must expect in travelling 
through this country, that I was resolved to have time 
enough before me on this occasion. 

About half a mile beyond Upsala lies Gamla, or old 
Upsala. I only saw the ancient church and burying-ground, 
containing a few large mounds, though most of them were 
small and insignificant. It is conjectured that these mounds 
contain the bones of several Swedish kings. I have seen 
tumuli of the same description in Greece, and also on the 


spot where Troy once stood. The church is not allowed to 
go to decay ; it is still in use, and I saw with regret the 
traces of fresh plastering among its gray and aged walls. 

Half way between Upsala and Danemora, there is a 
large castle, which has nothing but its size to recommend 
it. The river Tyris was then seen, and the long and re- 
markable lake of Danemora ; both were covered with sedge 
and reeds, and their shores flat and tame. The whole drive 
was through an uninteresting plain, where I observed no- 
thing worthy of notice save some rocks, which attracted 
my attention, because I could not imagine how they came 
there. The hills and mountains were far removed, and the 
surface of the plain is by no means stony. 

The little village of Danemora, lies in the woods, and 
contains a small churqji and a few scattered houses of vari- 
ous sizes 5 the usual mining apparatus appeared in sight as 
we approached, and I found I was so fortunate as to have 
arrived exactly at the right moment, and in time to witness 
the blasting of the ore. From the wide opening of the 
largest mine it is easy to see what is going on below ; and 
it is a rare and wonderful spectacle to look down into this 
abyss, four hundred and eighty feet* deep, and observe the 
colossal gates and entrances, which lead to the different 
pits ; the rocky bridges, projections, arches, and caverns 
formed in the walls of the mine, some of which extend to 
the upper world. The miners appear like puppets ; their 
movements can hardly be distinguished, till the eye has be- 
come somewhat accustomed to the darkness, and to their 
diminutive size ; the dim light was sufficient, however, to 
enable me to see several ladders, which seemed like play- 

It was nearly noon, and most of the workmen were leav- 
ing the mines ; they were drawn up in little casks by means 


of a pully, and it was really a fearful sight to see them sus- 
pended in the air in those small vehicles, each one of which 
often held three miners, one standing in the middle and the 
other two seated on the edge. I should have been glad to 
go down into the pit myself, but it was too late for to-day. 
The descent had no terrors for me, as I had been let down 
into the celebrated salt mines of Wieliczka and Bochnia in 
Galicia, many years ago, by a single rope, in a conveyance 
quite as dangerous as this one. 

On the stroke of twelve, a match was applied to four 
trains ; the man who lighted them immediately sprang back 
and hid himself behind a wall of rock. In a minute or two we 
saw the powder flash, a few stones were cast into the air, 
and immediately afterwards a loud detonation was heard, 
and the blasted mass fell in fragments around ; the tremen- 
dous explosion was caught up by the echo, and resounded 
to the farthest extremity of the mine ; and to add to the 
terrors of the scene, one rock was hardly shivered before 
another crash was heard, and immediately afterwards a 
third and a fourth. These trains are laid every day in the 
different mines. 

The other pits are still deeper, one of them being six 
hundred feet beneath the ground ; but their openings are 
smaller, and as they are not always perpendicular, the eye 
is soon lost in their depths, which produces a dismal effect 
upon the spectator. I would not be a miner on any ac- 
count ; life would be unendurable to me, shut out from the 
light and sun, and I turned my eyes from the dark caverns, 
to gaze with new delight on the bright and cheerful land- 
scape around me. 

I returned to Upsala the same day. On this short ex- 
cursion I had travelled post ; and having no carriage of my 
own. I found it necessary to engage a conveyance at every 


station^ which was nothing more than a common cart with 
two wheels ; the seat being a bundle of hay covered with a 
horse-blanket. If the roads were not remarkably good, a 
drive in such a wagon would give one a serious shaking, 
though I certainly preferred them to the Norwegian car- 
riols, where I was obliged to sit so long in the same posi- 

The stations are unequal, some longer and some shorter. 
The post-horses are owned, as in Norway, by the country 
people, who go by the name of Dschus peasants ; every even- 
ing they are obliged to collect a certain number of horses, 
and when a traveller presents himself, he can ascertain from 
a book how many horses a peasant owns, how many are 
then in use, and how many still in the stable ; he must, on his 
side, enter his name on the book, as well as the hour of his 
departure, and the number of animals he requires ; in this 
manner the whole thing is easily settled, and if any diffi- 
culty arise it is soon adjusted. 

There are also demands upon the patience of the traveller 
here, but by no means as many as in Norway. At every 
station there was a delay of fifteen or twenty minutes, to 
prepare the wagon and harness the horse, but never longer ; 
and I must do the Swedish postmasters the justice to say. 
that they never exacted a double price, or endeavored to tire 
me into offering it. The speed naturally depends upon the 
quality of the horse and the inclination of the driver ; but 
as a general thing, the animals have a very easy time of it. 
It is really ridiculous to see the small loads they are re- 
quired to draw, be it grain, bricks, wood, or any thing else, 
and the slow pace at which they move. 

The innumerable wooden gates in the road are a terrible 
nuisance to travellers ; the roads are all cut up into short 
divisions, and the driver is sometimes obliged to alight six 


or eight times in an hour to open and close the gates; this 
happens even on the great post-routes, though rath'er less 
frequently than in the by-roads. Wood is as abundant here 
as in Norway ; every thing is inclosed, even to scraps of 
land, which certainly do not seem worthy of the labor be- 
stowed upon the fence. 

The little villages through which I drove, or saw at a 
distance, were generally very pleasant and neat ; and the 
huts I visited, while the horses were changing, I found 
tolerably clean and comfortably furnished. 

The peasants of this part of the country wear a singular 
costume. The men, and often the boys, have long over- 
coats of a dark-blue cloth, and cloth caps ; at a distance, 
they might almost be mistaken for gentlemen in their tra- 
velling dress ; and it is curious to see so many persons ap- 
parently of that class following the plough, or mowing hay. 
Upon examination, however, the resemblance is not so 
striking, as their clothes are apt to be ragged and dirty, 
and under their surtouts they wear leathern aprons like 
those used by carpenters with us. I observed nothing pe- 
culiar about the dress of the women, excepting that they 
were generally poorly clad and often very ragged. As far 
as regards their clothing, the Swedes and Norwegians are 
much behind the Icelanders, although they have greatly the 
advantage in the comfort of their dwellings. 

September \kth. I returned to Stockholm to-day by the 
lake of Malar, and as the weather was favorable. I remained 
on deck to observe the country. For the first mile we follow- 
ed the course of the River Fyris, which winds between its 
level banks through woodlands and meadows to the sea. 

The large plain, in which lie New and Old Upsala, was 
soon lost in the distance, and after having passed two 


bridges, we found ourselves once more in the lake, which is 
here a" wide and expansive sheet of water, without islands. 
The shores are surrounded by a range of low and wooded 
hills. We soon reached the region of islands, where the 
scenery became much more interesting ; several fine coun- 
try-seats were pointed out to me, among which were the 
pretty little Castle of Krusenberg, lying most picturesquely 
on a beautiful height, and the magnificent Castle of Skuk- 
loster, a large, handsome, regular building, flanked by four 
mighty towers, which is situated close to the water's edge 
in the midst of a splendid garden. 

This part of the lake abounds in all those varied beau- 
ties which I have described before ; rocks and islands are 
scattered about, and in some places the latter are so crowd- 
ed as apparently to offer no further outlet for the waters ; 
or so near the shores as to seem a part of the mainland. The 
little town of Sixtuna lies in a small but lovely valley, 
scattered with ruins, said to be the remains of the old Ro- 
man town of Sixtun ; among them are several round 
towers. The Latin name is revived in that of the new place. 
The rocks and cliffs at this point are not without danger 
during a storm. We saw several other castles, one of 
which was unusually large for a private residence ; that of 
Rouse was only revealed by three fine cupolas rising above 
the trees ; the building itself was concealed by a low and 
bare hillock. The bridge of Nokeby is said to be one of 
the longest in Sweden. Here Stockholm appears in sight 
again, and steering towards that place, we landed once more, 
at two o'clock, in the capital of Sweden. 


/rnm itnrktinlm fa rmrcnnraft imfr lamhtrglj. 

ON the 18th of September I bid farewell to Stockholm, 
and embarked at noon in the steamer " Svithiold," of a 
hundred horse power, for Travemund. 

The fare for this passage was enormous ; the dis- 
tance is about five hundred sea miles, the time three days, 
and the price of the second cabin, without any meals, was 
forty dollars, or, according to our money, thirty-five florins 
C. M.* The table is, moreover, exorbitantly high, and as 
it is under the control of the captain, there is no one to 
whom one can complain of the extortion, which must be 
submitted to without any hopes of redress. 

One of the poorer passengers, who suffered exceedingly 
from sea-sickness, was anxious to obtain a bowl of soup from 
the steward, who referred him to our amiable commander ; 
he was informed that no deduction would be made, and if he 
wanted some soup, he must pay for his whole dinner ; this 
he could not afford to do, without scraping together every 
kreuzer he possessed, as the charge was several rix-dollars 
every day ; fortunately a few benevolent persons compas- 
sionated his case and paid for his meal. Some of the gen- 
tlemen had a few bottles of wine with them, which were 
taxed at almost as much as they were worth. 

The Swedish steamers do not appear to be remarkable for 
the strength of their machinery ; at least, in the opinion of 
some of my fellow travellers, no other reason could be assign- 
ed for our running into port whenever the wind or sea was 
high. We were detained twenty-four hours between Stock- 

'" Sixteen dollars and eighty cents. Tr. 



holm and Calmar, and at the latter place we anchored, and 
waited for a more favorable breeze. Several gentlemen who 
had important business in Lubeck, left the steamer' here, 
and pursued their journey by land. 

The scenery of this part of the Baltic bears the same 
character as that of lake Malar. One of the islands is 
united to the mainland by an extraordinarily long bridge, 
called Lindenbrog. We stopped at the little town of 
Wachsholm, in one of the bays, a*nd saw a fine fortress, on a 
rocky islet opposite that place, with a colossal round tower, 
and from the formidable number of cannon, it must be con- 
sidered a fortification of the first class. A few hours later 
we observed another, called Friedricksborg, which does not 
stand out so boldly as the one we had seen before, being 
partly surrounded by woods, as is also the case with the 
large castle on the opposite side. 

The only object now visible on our right was the craggy 
group of rocks on which lies the fortress of Dolero, and a 
sufficient number of houses to form a little village. 

September IQth. To-day we were in the rough and open 
sea. About noon we reached the Grulf of Calmar, formed 
by the peninsula of Scholand, and a long island called 
Oland. The " Jungfrau," a high mountain, of which the 
Swedes are very proud, was visible ; it stands on an island, 
but only appears so striking on account of the level scenery 
around it ; compared with its proud, and gigantic namesake 
in Switzerland, it is a mere insignificant hillock. 

September 2Qth. Last night we anchored on account of 
the head-wind, and it was not till to-day at ten o'clock that 
we arrived at Calmar. This little town lies on an immense 
plain, and possesses no object of sufficient interest to induce 


a delay, excepting, perhaps, its fine church and its old castle ; 
these we had only too good an opportunity to examine, as 
our captain gave us notice that we should remain -here for 
an indefinite period ; at first the sea was so rough that he 
declined sending us on shore, but after a while a boat was 
lowered, and the most curious among us were permitted to 

From its exterior, the church might be mistaken for a 
fine old specimen of ancient architecture, and it looks much 
more like a castle than a church. It has large corner towers, 
and its dome, as well as the other tower, are too low to 
attract attention. The inside of the building is remarkable 
for its extent, its height, and its extraordinary echo, which 
is said to lend a wonderfully fine effect to the tones of the 
organ. We sent for the organist, but unfortunately he was 
not to be found, and we were obliged to content ourselves 
with trying the echo with our own voices. From hence we 
went to the castle, which is not more than a ten minutes' 
walk from the church ; it was built in the reign of Queen 
Margaret, during the sixteenth century, and internally it is 
in such a state of dilapidation, that we considered it by no 
means advisable to remain very long in the upper rooms. 
The lower story has been kept in repair, and is now used as 
a prison; many hands were stretched out of the grated 
windows, and piteous voices begged an alms from us as we 
went by. More than a hundred and forty criminals are con- 
fined here. 

The wind abated a little in the afternoon, and at three 
o'clock we continued our journey. The Gulf of Calmar is 
tame ; its shores are flat, and without wood. 

Sept. 21st. When I came on deck to-day, the gulf was 
far behind us ; nothing but the open sea was visible on our 


right, and to the left was the barren Schmoland, and still 
more barren Schonen, which last showed no signs of life but 
a few fishing villages. 

At nine we cast our anchor in the haven of Ystadt ; this 
town is rather pretty, and has a large square which contains 
the house of the governor, the theatre, and the town hall. 
The streets are wide, some of the houses being of wood and 
some of stone. The old church is the most interesting 
object in the place ; it possesses an altar-piece carved in 
wood, which is preserved in the vestry, the composition and 
carving of which are admirable, although the figures are rather 
clumsy and irregular. The reliefs on the chancel, and a fine 
monument by the side of the high altar, must not be over- 
looked ; both of them are in carved wood. 

In the afternoon we had passed the Danish island of 
Malmoe, and at last, having been nearly four days on the 
journey, instead of two and a half, we happily reached the 
harbor of Travemund on the 22d of September, at two 
o'clock in the morning. My sea voyages were now at an end, 
to my great regret ; for I love the sea. Whether it be calm 
or ruffled, there is always something to admire in its bound- 
less surface ; to me it was equally delightful to glide along 
smoothly on the still waters, or to be rocked on the rest- 
less waves, which I have often watched for hours at a time 
during a storm, till I was wet to the skin by the rain and 
the sea. I had now become so good a sailor, that I was no 
longer troubled with sea-sickness, and there was no further 
drawback to interfere with my admiration of this element, 
so grand and so fearfully beautiful when it is roused, and so 
peculiarly fitted to raise our minds to the Creator. 

We had hardly anchored, when we were accosted by a 
whole host of drivers, each anxious to induce us to engage 
his services to conduct us across the country by Lubeck to 


Hamburgh, a distance of eight miles (German),* which is 
usually accomplished in nine hours. 

Travemund is a neat little village, with a single street, in 
which almost every house is a hotel. The drive to Lubeck 
(two miles) is perfectly delightful ; the road is excellent 
and leads through a pleasant wood, by a cemetery almost 
equal to that of Upsala in beauty, as it might be mistaken for 
a magnificent park if it were not for the monuments it con- 

I regretted exceedingly my not being able to devote one 
day to Lubeck; this old Hanse town, with its time-honored 
cathedral, and other churches, its handsome square and 
pyramidical houses, held out many temptations^ to detain 
me. But I could not stop ; and could only gaze and admire, 
as I hurried through the place. The side-walks and pave- 
ments are superior to those in any other northern city ; and 
the houses are generally provided with wooden balconies, 
where the inhabitants apparently spend the pleasant even- 
ings. The dazzling Hamburgh plate-glass windows re- 
appeared here. The Trave, which we had crossed between 
Travemund and Lubeck, encircles the latter town on one 

Near Oldeslo we saw the innumerable smoke columns 
and fine buildings of the salt-works ; and in the neighborhood 
of Arensberg an old and romantic castle, entirely surround- 
ed by water. From this place to Hamburgh the country 
becomes flat and uninteresting, .although it was rich in 
fruitful fields and meadows. 

This short excursion from Lubeck to Hamburgh is rather 
an expensive one ; and there are an incredible number of taxes 
and tolls, which the driver pays. First, it cost him a florin 

* Thirty-six and a half English miles. 


and sixteen kreuzers to obtain a permit to pass from the 
territory of Lubeck to that of Hamburgh ; he then paid 
double at the gates of Lubeck, because we left the city before 
five o'clock, at which hour they are first opened ; and at 
almost every mile he was obliged to hand over five or six 
kreuzers for the turnpike. 

This last annoyance is unknown in Sweden and Norway, 
where, after a certain sum has been paid yearly for every 
horse, they can go all over the country without restriction. 

The houses of the peasants are very large in this part of 
the country, which is explained by the fact that stables, 
sheds and barns, are all under the same roof; the frames 
are generally of wood filled in with brick. 

The towers of Wandsbeck and Hamburgh appeared in 
sight soon after we left Arensberg, both of those places 
being like a -single town, as they are only separated by 
the grounds of some pleasant country-houses ; though in 
comparison with Hamburgh, Wandsbeck cannot be ranked 
above a village. 

At two in the afternoon I reached the residence of my 
kind relatives, who received me with as much astonishment 
as if I had been raised from the dead. When I left Iceland 
I had forwarded to my cousin in Hamburgh a little box of 
minerals, by a ship which sailed at the same time for Altona ; 
and the sailor who had charge of it gave such an indifferent 
account of the vessel in which I had taken my passage, that 
as no news had ever reached him of my safe arrival in 
Copenhagen, although I had written from that place, he took 
it for granted I had gone to the bottom ; and hence his 
unlimited surprise at my re-appearance. 


/rom Itotorglj tn 36dk " 

My time was now very short ; and after spending a few 
plasant days with my relations, I took leave of them on 
the 26th of September, and set off in a small steamer on 
the Elbe for Haarburg, which place I reached in three 
quarters of an hour, when I changed my conveyance to the 
stage-coach, and proceeded to Celle (fourteen miles). There 
is little to be said of the scenery ; the country is flat and 
marshy, with a few fruitful fields and pastures scattered 

Sept. 27tk. We arrived at Celle in the night. Here I 
was obliged to hire a private conveyance for Lehrte (a mile 
and a half), where I took the cars for Berlin, passing a 
number of towns and villages by the way, though they were 
too far from the railroad to see any thing of them, as we 
flew rapidly by. 

The first was Brunswick, with its pretty ducal castle, 
built in the Gothic style, and lying just out of the town in 
a fine park. Wolfenbiittel appears to be a large place, from 
the number of its houses and churches ; it possesses a hand- 
some wooden bridge over the Ocker, with an elegant iron 
railing. There is a delightful public walk near this town, 
leading to a gentle eminence, crowned by a fine building, 
which is used as a coffee-house. 

Upon leaving the confines of Hanover, the swamps and 
heaths also disappeared, and were succeeded by a well cul- 
tivated country, with a number of villages and pretty little 
towns, which I was loth to pass so rapidly. 

We soon came to Schepenstadt, Jersheim, and Wegers- 
leben. which last belongs to Prussia. At Aschersleben we 
changed cars, as well as at Magdeburgh. At Salze I ob- 



served the fine buildings belonging to the extensive salt- 
works in that place. Jernandau is the seat of a Moravian 
settlement. I should have been glad to visit Kothen, as 
nothing can be more delightful than the situation of that 
little town, in the midst of blooming gardens ; but unfor- 
tunately, we only stopped for a few minutes. The environs 
of Dessau are also very pleasant. There are several bridges 
here over different branches of the Elbe ; and that over the 
river itself rests on mighty pillars. Of Wittenburg and 
Juterbog we saw nothing but a mass of roofs and* steeples ; 
the last-mentioned place has a very new appearance, as if it 
had lately sprung up. The sandy region begins at Luke- 
walde, and stretches uninterruptedly to Berlin, with the 
exception of a short range of wooded hills in the neighbor- 
hood of Trebbin. 

I had accomplished forty-six miles* to-day, between the 
hours of six in the morning and seven at night. In that 
distance the cars had been changed repeatedly ; there was 
an extraordinary number of travellers, in consequence of 
the Leipsic fair, and the train often consisted of thirty-five 
or forty cars, three locomotives, and at least seven or eight 
hundred passengers. Every thing was conducted with the 
greatest order, however ; and what was a great convenience, 
we could take our places at Lehrte for Berlin, although we 
passed through so many different state's, and we had no 
farther trouble about our seats or our luggage. The -at- 
tendants were all very civil. At every station the con- 
ductor announced with a loud voice how long we should 
stop two or three minutes, half an hour, &c. ; and those 
who felt inclined to refresh themselves, knew exactly how 
many minutes they might loiter at the neighboring hotel or 

* Two hundred and seven English miles. Tr. 


station-house. The cars are very easy of access, as they 
run into deep furrows at the stopping-places, and are flush 
with the ground ; consequently no steps are needed. They 
are divided into wide carriages, with two seats opposite 
each other, and a door at each end. Eight persons are ac- 
commodated in the first and second-class cars, and ten in 
the others. They are all numbered, so that every passenger 
can find his place with ease ; and no one is locked in. By 
these simple arrangements, it is easy for any one to get out, 
even when the train only stops for a couple of minutes, and 
take a short turn, or buy something to eat, without the least 
trouble or confusion. 

But when the cars are as long as a house, and hold 
sixty or seventy people, who are sometimes fastened in, I 
would not advise any one to attempt to make a move when 
the conductor opens the door and merely calls out the name 
of the place, without mentioning how long a delay there 
will be ; for by the time they have fought their way to 
the end of the car, slipped through the little door and down 
the steps, the whistle is heard again, and the train is in 
motion immediately, as the signal is given for the engineer, 
and not for the benefit of the passengers. 

Another great advantage on this road is, that there was 
not the least trouble with the passports, or the still more 
insupportable passirsehein. No troublesome police-officer 
intrudes to prevent the passengers from leaving the cars 
till they have found out all about each and every one of 
them. I should like to know how many days this journey 
would take, if it were necessary to produce one's passport 
as often as in some other states ; particularly if they 
could not be examined on the spot, but must be carried to 
the office for that purpose. * 

And all these annoyances, hard as it is to be believed. 


must often be submitted to more than once in the same 
territory ; one need not come from a foreign land ; but 
merely in passing from one provincial capital to another, 
the most vexatious investigations are repeatedly endured. 

This is the only country where I have ever experienced 
any thing of the kind ; my passport was always demanded 
at the hotel at every capital where I remained any length 
of time. In Stockholm, a singular arrangement prevailed, 
however ; every stranger who visits that place, if it be but 
for twenty-four hours, must provide himself with a Swedish 
passport, for which he pays one florin and twenty kreuzers.* 
This can only be viewed in the light of an ingenious con- 
trivance to obtain that sum from the traveller, as the offi- 
cials are apparently ashamed to exact as much for a simple 
vise on his papers. 

95irlfn, ntrfr Extern to t&m 

Berlin is the handsomest and most regular town I have 
ever seen ; the finest streets, squares, and palaces of Copen- 
hagen, can hardly bear a comparison with this place. 

I had but few days to spend there, and lost no time in 
visiting all the most remarkable objects of curiosity, many 
of which, such as the magnificent palace of the king, the ex- 
tensive picture-gallery, the museum, and the large cathedral, 
are all within an easy distance of each other. 

The cathedral is large and regular ; on each side of 
the entrance there is a chapel surrounded by an iron lat- 
tice-work, where several kings lie buried, beneath antiquated 


* Ninety-two cent*. Tr. 

BERLIN. 255 

sarcophagi, which bear the name of the royal graves, and 
near this spot is a huge monument under which reposes one 
of the dukes of Brandenburgh. 

The Catholic church is built in the style of the Rotunda 
at Rome, with the only difference, that it is not lighted from 
above, but by a circular row of windows. This church is 
adorned by several statues, and a tasteful, though simple 
altar ; the portico contains several fine bass-reliefs. 

The architecture of the Werderische church is more 
modern, though it may also be called Grothic. The towers 
have handsome bass-reliefs in bronze ; the walls of the in- 
terior are wainscoted to the galleries, inlaid with colors 
and terminated by a row of carved wood-work. The organ, 
has a clear, full tone ; it is adorned with a painting, which 
savors more of mythological taste than our present religious 
notions. A crowd of Cupids hover among labyrinths of 
flowers above three beautiful female figures. 

The mint, and the academy of architecture, are very 
near this church ; the first is adorned with handsome stat- 
uary, but the latter is an unpretending building of a quad- 
rangular form, and resembles a very extensive private 
dwelling. It is painted red. 

Near the king's residence is the Opern-Platz, in 
which is situated the celebrated opera-house, the arsenal, the 
flKiiversity. the library, the academy, the guard-house, and 
several royal palaces. The square is ornamented by the 
statues of three generals, Count Billow, Count Scharnhorst^ 
and Prince Bliicher ; they are all fine works of art, but I 
was not impressed with the costume, which was an ordinary 
cloak, thrown open in front to display part of the magnifi- 
cent uniforms. 

The arsenal, which is one of the handsomest edifices in 
Berlin, is a large square building ; but as it was, unfor 


Innately, undergoing some repairs during my visit, I was 
not able to see the interior, with the exception of a few 
enormous halls on the ground-floor, which I looked at 
through the window, and found to contain whole rows of 
formidable guns. The guard-house is near the arsenal ; it 
has a portico, with a row of columns, bearing a resem- 
blance to a fine temple. 

The opera-house is built in the shape of a parallelo- 
gram, and stands alone. The entrances are unworthy of so 
fine a building ; even the principal one is narrow, and of a 
dark color, like the door of an insignificant church; the 
others are even lower, and no one would guess that they led 
to such a magnificent scene within. The interior of the 
theatre is elegant and luxurious beyond description. The 
seats of the parterre are comfortable and well cushioned 
arm-chairs ; they are not inclosed, and each seat is num- 
bered. The boxes are only divided by a partition, not more 
than a foot high, and the fashionable world who frequents 
them is full in sight ; the boxes of the first and second 
tier, as well as the seats in the pit, are covered with dark 
red silk damask. The royal box is carpeted like an elegant 
saloon. The ceiling of the theatre is adorned with fine oil 
paintings, framed in gold. But the master-piece is the 
enormous chandelier, which has the appearance of being in 
massive bronze, and has a threatening look, suspended over 
the heads of the spectators ; in reality, however, it is made 
of pasteboard, and its weight is far from dangerous. Nu- 
merous gas-lights illuminate tne whole building ; and the 
only thing I missed, in the otherwise complete arrangements, 
was a clock ; no Italian theatre is ever without one. 

The other palaces and edifices of the Opern Platz are 
more conspicuous for their size than their architectural 


An extraordinarily wide stone bridge, with a handsome 
railing, leads across a small branch of the Spree, and con- 
nects this place with the one which contains the palace of 
the king. The royal museum is a fine building, with a 
high portico painted in fresco. The picture-gallery pos- 
sesses many chefs-d'ceuvres, and I regretted extremely that 
I had so little time to devote to these treasures of art, and 
to the collection of antiques ; I could allow myself but 
three hours to see them all. 

An uncommonly broad and long street stretches from 
the academy, and is adorned by a double row of lime-trees, 
from which it takes its name of Unter den Linden (or 
under the limes) ; this beautiful promenade extends to the 
handsome Brandenburgh Gate, near which is the public 
park. Among the streets which abut upon the Linden, the 
longest and finest are the Friedrichs and the Wilhelms- 
strasse. The Leipzigerstrasse is also a well-built thorough- 
fare, but does not run in this direction. 

The French and German churches stand in the Gens- 
d'Armes Platz ; but they are only conspicuous for their 
high cupolas, pillars, and porticoes ; their interior is small 
and unpretending. The royal theatre, in the same place, 
is a large and tastefully fitted up building, with colonnades, 
and statues of the Muses. 

I went up to the top of the telegraph tower, for the sake 
of the view over the level environs of Berlin. A very civil 
attendant was so good-natured as to explain the signals to 
me, and allowed me to look at the distant telegraphs 
through the telescope. 

Konigstadt, on the opposite side of the Spree, offers 
little that is worthy of notice. The principal street, the 
Konigstrasse, is long, but narrow and dirty. This place 
presents a striking contrast to Berlin proper ; the only re- 


inarkable buildings are the post-office and the theatre, and 
all the streets are narrow, short, and full of angles. 

The shops in some parts of Berlin are very magnifi- 
cent ; and I saw many window-panes which reminded me 
of Hamburgh, though they did not attain the extravagant 
dimensions so common in that city. 

There is not much to be seen in the neighborhood :( 
Berlin ; the Thiergarten (or public park), and. Charlotten- 
burg, are the most agreeable excursions ; and now that the 
railroad has lessened the distance so much, Potsdam may 
also be said to belong to the immediate vicinity of the 

The park lies just outside of the Brandenburgh Gate ; it 
is cut up into several divisions, one of which reminded me 
of our beloved Prater. The beautiful alleys were crowded 
with carriages, horsemen, and pedestrians ; the woods were 
enlivened by elegant coffee-houses, and children were frol- 
icking on the turf; all of which carried me back so vividly 
to the Prater, that I could hardly understand why I saw 
no greeting on any familiar face. The Krollische Casino, or 
winter garden, is situated in this part of the park ; I hardly 
know what name to bestow on this edifice ; it resembles a 
fairy palace. The most costly decorations, gilding, paint- 
ing, draperies, &c., are exhibited in the splendid saloons, 
halls, temples, galleries, and boxes. The principal hall, 
which can accommodate eighteen hundred persons, has no 
windows, but receives its light from a glass roof; the galleries 
and smaller saloons are divided from this one by colonnades. 
All the niches and corners are adorned with flowers, in 
costly jars ; and in winter the scene is one of perfect en 
chantment. The Sunday reunions and concerts are always 
crowded, in spite of the prohibition against smoking. The 
building will hold five thousand people. 


Near the Potsdam Gate the park has all the appearance 
of a pleasure garden, with its trim alleys, flower-beds, ter- 
races, islands, fish-ponds, &c. The Luiseninsel, where there 
is a fine monument to Queen Louisa, is well worthy of a 
visit. The Odeon is the best coffee-house in this part of 
the park, but it cannot be compared with the Casino. The 
numerous country-houses in this neighborhood, are exceed- 
ingly handsome, and generally built in the Italian style. 

This place is at half an hour's distance from the Bran- 
denburgh Gate, and omnibuses are always in readiness to 
convey any visitors to the spot. The road crosses the park, 
at the extremity of which is a pretty little village, adjoining 
the royal castle, a long but shallow building of two stories, 
the upper one being very low and occupied only by ser- 
vants. The roof is terraced, and in its centre is a hand- 
some cupola. 

The garden is unpretending, and far from large, but it 
contains a fine collection of orange-trees. In a dark ar- 
bor, is the small building which contains the mausoleum of 
Queen Louisa and her fine statue by the celebrated, sculptor 
Rauch ; the remains of the late king also repose here, by 
the side of his beloved consort. A little beyond is an island 
with statuettes, and a large pond where some swans were 
proudly sailing about. It is to be regretted that no dirt 
will adhere to these white-feathered birds ; " for if it did, we 
should see here a wonderful race of black swans, as the 
stream where this island lies is one of the dirtiest puddles 
I have ever seen. 

Let no one who is already tired visit these grounds, for 


there are very few seats ; though musquitoes abound in an T 

The distance from Berlin to Potsdam is hardly four 
Grerman miles, which are accomplished by the railway in 
three quarters of an hour. The arrangements on this road 
are very convenient ; for instance, the cars are marked with 
the names of the different stations, which prevents a vast deal 
of confusion, as all the passengers for any particular place 
can get in and out at once without running against the 
other travellers. 

The drive is by no means interesting ; but Potsdam 
itself is a place so well worthy of no^e, that one day bare- 
ly suffices to see all that it contains. The Havel flows di- 
rectly by the town, and is crossed by a long and remark- 
ably handsome stone bridge, with iron rafters and railing. 
The royal castle lies on the opposite bank ; it has a garden 
in the rear, not very extensive, indeed, but sufficiently so to 
be an agreeable resort for the public, to whom it is thrown 
open. The building is on a very grand scale, but it is not 
a favorite residence with the court ; the preference being 
given to the beautiful summer palaces in the neighborhood, 
and in winter to the capital. 

The place in front of the castle is far from handsome, 
as it is neither large nor regular, and riot even level ; it 
contains the principal church, which is still uncompleted, 
but promises to be a fine edifice. The town is well built, 
and rather large 5 the streets, particularly the Rauner- 
strasse, are wide and long, but very badly paved, the point- 
ed side of the stones being generally uppermost. There is 
a side-walk, however, about two feet wide, for foot-passen- 


gers. The only public promenade is a place near the canal 
with several alleys. 

The first that I visited among the royal country-seats 
was Sans-Souci, lying in the centre of a pleasant park, 
on an elevation which is cut into six terraces ; on each of 
these is a conservatory, with whole alleys of orange and 
lemon-trees. The castle is of a single story, and is so com- 
pletely shut in by trees, arbors, and vines, that very little of 
it is to be seen. I was not admitted to the interior, as it 
was then occupied by the royal family. 

A little path leads to the artificial ruins of two temples 
of various sizes lying on a hillock, which commands a view 
of the rear of the palace of Sans-Souci, and of the new pa- 
lace, only separated from the first by the park, and at a dis- 
tance of less than a quarter of an hour. There is also an 
extensive pond on the same hill with the ruins. 

Nothing more magnificent can be conceived than the 
new palace, built by Frederick the Great. It is in the 
shape of a parallelogram, ornamented with columns and 
arabesques, and covered with a terraced roof, surround- 
ed by a stone balustrade, and embellished with statues. 

The saloons and other apartments are large and high, 
splendidly painted and furnished ; all the walls being hung 
with tape'stry and adorned with numerous oil paintings, 
some of which are master-pieces. One of the rooms on the 
ground-floor is entirely inlaid with the handsomest shells. 
There is really no end to the wonders of this fairy palace, 
which, nevertheless, is not inhabited. In the rear are two 
small but very elegant buildings, communicating with each 
other by a colonnade in the shape of a half moon ; and very 
handsome flights of steps lead to terraces which surround 
the first floor of these little castles, which are now used for 
barracks, and are certainly the finest edifices I have ever 
seen devoted to that purpose. 


From here a pleasant road led to the .delightful little 
castle of Oharlottenhof. Coming from the new palace, I 
could hardly imagine it to be the residence even of the 
crown prince ; it appeared much more like a small pavilion 
attached to the great palace, where the royal family might 
occasionally assemble for a collation, than a dwelling for 
one of its members. But when I had examined all its 
rooms, and admired the prevailing luxury and taste, I was 
ready to admit that it was worthy to accommodate the heir 
to the throne. Fountains were playing on the upper ter- 
races ; the walls of the corridors and vestibules were paint- 
ed in magnificent frescoes, like those of Pompeii ; the 
rooms themselves being adorned with the finest paintings, 
engravings, and other treasures of art. The greatest 
splendor was displayed . throughout the whole establish- 

Not far from this little gem is a Chinese Kiosk with a 
number of figures, which are mostly in a mutilated and 
damaged condition. 

Each of these royal palaces is surrounded by a fine 
park, all three of which are so close together that they might 
be mistaken for the same inclosure ; they contain hand- 
some woods, and fields, with shady walks and drives ; 
though not many flowers are to be seen. 

After having leisurely examined the whole, I returned 
to Sans-Souci, to witness the celebrated play of the foun- 
tains, which takes place twice a week, on Tuesdays and 
Fridays, from noon till evening. The streams of water 
from the two basins in front of the palace, are extraordi- 
narily high and powerful. It is delightful to stand near 
them when the sun is shining, and watch the rainbows in 
the spray. The water also flows from a high vase sur- 
rounded with wreaths of living flowers, and forms a beau- 


tiful fall, as clear and transparent as the purest crystal ; 
the fall is surmounted by two wreaths of flowers twined 
together. The little grotto of Neptune has a miniature 
cascade thrown from a vase over a basin of shells. 

I had still to visit the marble palace on the opposite 
side of Potsdam, at about half an hour's walk from the 
other castles. The park around it is flanked on the left by 
a row of exceedingly neat cottages, all built exactly alike, 
and only separated by orchards, and flower or vegetable 
gardens. The palace is near the end of the park, on the 
bank of a little lake formed by the river Havel. The 
name of the Marble Palace, which it bears, is not entirely 
undeserved, though it differs in many respects from the 
marble buildings of Venice, or the mosques of Constanti- 
nople. The walls are of bricks, left to their natural color, 
but the facings and window-sills are of marble, as well as 
the wide portal. The castle is partly surrounded by a 
colonnade. The steps are of handsome white marble, and 
several of the rooms are paved with the same. The interior 
is not so luxuriously fitted up as the other palaces in 

I had now seen every thing worthy of note of which 
that place, and the other environs of Berlin, could boast ^ 
and on the following morning I continued my journey to 

In conclusion. I must mention one regulation in Berlin 
which strangers have great cause to approve, and that is, 
the moderate price of hack hire. It is not necessary to 
make any bargain; you merely take your seat and say 
where you wish to go, in whatever part of the city it may 
be ; it will only cost you five groschen.* A number of 

* About eleven cents. Tr. 


droschkis are also to be found near the railroad, which can 
be hired at a very reasonable rate, and will convey the tra- 
veller to any hotel in the place. I wish the Viennese hack- 
men were equally accommodating. 

October 1st. I went by the railroad through Leipsic 
to Dresden, where I took the mail-coach at eight o'clock 
in the evening, by which conveyance I reached Prague in 
eighteen hours. 

The beautiful scenery of the Nollendorfer hills was 
lost upon us of course, as we passed it in the night. We 
observed two fine monuments on the following morning ; 
one. a pyramid fifty-four feet high, is erected to the memory 
of Marshal Count Kolloredo, and the other to the Russian 
troops who fell in the wars of Napoleon. 

We went on through a lovely country to Teplitz, a 
bathing place, equally celebrated for its medicinal springs, 
and the uncommon loveliness oits environs. The remark- 
able isolated rock of basalt, called Boren, which attracts 
the attention of the traveller in this neighborhood, is well 
worth the trouble of a closer inspection, though we could 
not spare the* time for that purpose, as we were hurrying 
towards Prague in the hope of reaching that place in season 
"for the six o'clock train to Vienna. 

Our dismay can be imagined, therefore, when on arriv- 
ing at the gates of Prague, our passports were deliberately 
carried off and not returned to us. In vain we referred to 
the vis of Peterswalde on the frontier, in vain we pleaded 
our hurry. We were coolly dismissed with the consolatory 
remark, " That is nothing to us ; to-morrow you may 
come to the public office, and you will get your papers." 
From this there was no appeal, and twenty-four hours were 


I must be allowed to mention an amusing little incident 
which occurred to me during the journey from Dresden. 
The coach was occupied by one female passenger besides 
myself, and two gentlemen. The lady happened to have 
read my travels in Palestine, and inquired, when she 
heard my name, if I were the author of that work ; I ac- 
knowledged the fact, and the conversation turned upon that 
country, as well as those I had lately visited. One of the 
gentlemen, Mr. Katze, was a very well-informed man, and 
spoke quite fluently on travelling, the manners and customs 
of other lands, and various topics of the same nature. Our 
other fellow-passenger no doubt possessed a great fund of in- 
formation, but he took little pains to display it on this occa- 
sion. Mr. K. left us at Teplitz, but the unknown went 
on to Vienna with me. In the course of the day he ad- 
dressed me with the following remark " Don't you think 
Mr. K. told you his name on purpose to have it mentioned 
in your next book of travels ? If you will promise me as 
much, I will tell you mftie." I could hardly conceal a 
smile, and assured him he was probably quite mistaken in 
his suspicions ; and, as we poor women are often unjustly 
accused of being curious, to refute the accusation I must 
beg him to let me remain in ignorance as to who he was. 
This the worthy man could not do, however, and before we 

parted, he introduced himself as Nicholas B ; but I 

think I shall not betray his confidence any farther to the 
public ; in the first place because I did promise to do so, 
and in the second place, I fear it would not be rendering 
him a very great service. 

The railway from Prague to Vienna passes through 
Olmiitz, increasing the distance to sixty-six miles.* This 

Two hundred and ninety-seven English miles. Tr. 


road is far from being well managed. There are no hotels, 
and we were obliged to content ourselves all day with fruit, 
beer, bread and butter, and things of that sort. The con- 
ductor called out at every station that we were going on 
immediately, and although we were often detained half an 
hour, no one ventured to leave the cars. The conductors 
were not remarkable for the suavity of their manners, a 
peculiarity which I was half inclined to ascribe to the cli- 
mate, for we had hardly reached the limits of the Austrian 
territory, at Peterswalde, when we were accosted very 
gruffly by the controller ; twice we wished him good even- 
ing, but without taking any notice of this civility, he im- 
mediately asked for our papers in a pretty loud and harsh 
tone, no doubt supposing we were deaf, as we certainly 
thought he must be. At Ganserndorf, six miles from 
Vienna, something of the same kind occurred again. 

On the 4th of October, after an absence of six months, 
I hailed once more the celebrated tower of St. Stephens, 
so dear to most of my countrywomen. 

I had endured and suffered much ; but had the diffi- 
culties and dangers of this journey been tenfold what they 
were, they could not have dampened my courage, or ex- 
tinguished my ardent longing for a change of scene. I felt 
myself amply repaid for them all. I had seen life under a 
new aspect ; I had seen a people different from almost every 
other ; and above all, I had increased my store of recollec- 
tions, and laid up a treasure upon which I shall look with 
delight till the latest moment of my existence. 

I now take my leave of my kind readers, begging them 
to receive with indulgence these unassuming sketches, 
which have at least the merit of truth to recommend them. 
If they have derived any gratification from their perusal, 
let their countrywoman claim a slight place in their me- 
mory as her reward. 


In conclusion, I must beg leave to offer as an appendix 
to my work, two papers which may not be entirely without 
interest for some of my readers. 

No. 1. is a document I obtained in Reikjavick, giving 
an account of the salaries of the different functionaries 
employed by the Danish government in Iceland ; as well 
as several other taxes and fees. 

No. 2. is a list of the insects, butterflies, flowers and 
plants I collected in that island, and brought back with me 
to my native place. 



The Stiftsamtmann (or governor) of Iceland, . . 2,000 

Office expenses, 600 

The Amtmann of the Western Amt, .... 1,586 

Office expenses, 400 

House rent, 200 

The Amtmann of the Northern and Eastern Amt, . 1,286 

Office expenses, 400 

The bishop of Iceland, in addition to a salary from the 

School fund, receives from the public fund, . 800 

The members of the Superior Court : 

A Justice, 1,184 

First Assessor, 890 

Second Assessor, 740 

The Sheriff of Iceland, 600 

Office expenses, 200 

House rent, 150 

Bailiff of Reikjavick, 300 

First Constable of Reikjavick, who is also jailer, and 

has fifty florins more than the other constable, 200 

Second Constable 150 

The Provost of Reikjavick draws from this fund his 

house rent of . . . . . . . 150 

Sysselmannn of the Westmann Isles, .... 296 

The other Sysselmanns, each, 230 

' A florin, C. M., is forty-eight cents. Tr. 

SALARIES. 269 - 

Medical Department : 


First Physician of the island, 900 

House rent> 150 

Apothecary at Reikjavick, 185 

House rent> 150 

Second Apothecary at Sikkisholm, .... 90 

Six Surgeons, each, 300 

House rent of one, . . . . . . 30 

The others, 25 

A practising physician in the Northland, . . .100 

Two sages femmes at Reikjavick, each, ... 50 
The other sages femmes in the country, of which there 

are thirty, each, 100 

These women are under the superintendence of the 
head physician, who examines them and pays 
their salaries. 

Organist at Reikjavick, 100 

Salaries paid by the School Fund; 

The Bishop, 1,200 

Teachers of the High School : 

The professor of Theology, 800 

The first Adjunct, besides his lodging, receives, . . 500 

The second Adjunct, or deputy, . . . 500 

House rent, ..... .50 

Third Adjunct, 600 

House rent> 50 

The housekeeper of the school, . . . . 117 



(Animdlia, etiertebrata, Cuv.) 


Pagarus Bernhardus. Linn6. 

a) Coleoptera. 
Nebria rubripes. Dejean. 
Patrobus hyperboreus. 
Calathus melanocephalus. Fabr 
Notiophilus aquations. 

Amara vulgaris. Duftsihm 
Ptinus fur. linn. 
Aphodius Lapponum. Schh. 
Otiorhynchus lae vigatus. DhL 
Ot . . . Pinastri. Fabn 
Ot . . . Ovatus. Fabr. 
Staphylinus maxillosus. 
Bjrrhus pillula. 

b) Neuroptera. 
Limnophilus Lineola, Schrank. 

c) Hymenoptera. 
Pimpla instigator. Gravh. 
Bombus subterranus. Linn. 

d) Lepidoptera. 
Geometra russata. 
Geom. Alche millata. 
Geom. spec. nor. 

e) Diptera. 
Tipula lunata. 
Scatophaga stercoraria. 
Musca Yomitoria. 
Musca mortuorum. 


Helomyza serrate. 
Lecogaster islandicus scheff.* 
Anthomyia decolor Tallin. 

Littorina (Turbo Linn.) obtusata Ferus. 


Cystopteris fragilis. 

Equisetum uniglumis. 

Festuca uniglumis. 

Carex filiformis. 

Eriophorum caespitosum. 

Luzula spicata. 

Mr. J. Schefier, of Modling, late of Vienna, has drawn the following sketch of 
this new insect, which belongs to the family of Muscidae, and is most nearly related to 
the species Borborus. 

Antennae deflexae, breves, triarticulatae, articulo ultimo phaerico ; seda nuda. 

Hypoctoma subproninulum, fronte lata, eetosa. 

Oculi rotundi, remoti. 

Abdomen quinque annulatum, dorso nudo. 

Tarsi, simplices. 

Alae, incumbentes, abdomine longiores, nervo pnmo simplicJ. 
Legocaster islandicus. 

Niger, abdomine nitido, antenis pedibusque. rufopiceis. 


Luzula Campestris. 

Salix polaris. 

Rumex arifolius. 
Oxyria reniformea. 

Armeria alpina. (In the high regions of the interior.) 

Chrysanthemum maritinum. (On the sea-shore, and plentiful 

in the damp meadowa) 

Heriacium alphemim. (On the low meadow landa) 
Taraxacum alpinum. 
Erigeron uniflorum. (West of Hayenfiord, among the rocks.) 

Gallium pusillum. 
" verum. 

Thimus serpyllum. 

Myosotia Alpestris. 
Myosotis scorpiodes. 


Bartsia alpina. (In the northwestern valleys of the interior.) 

Pinguicula alpina. 
" vulgaris. 

Ai'changelica officuialk (Havenfiord.) 


Saxifraga caespitosa. (The genuine plant of Linnaeus. At 
Hecla among the rocks.) 

Ranunculus auricomus. 

" nivalis. 
Thalictrum alpinum. (Around Reikjavick, growing between 

the lava blocks.) 
Caltha palustris. 


Draba verna. 
Cardamine pratensis. 

Viola hirta. 

Sagina stricta. 
Cerastium^semi decandrum. 
Lepigonum rubrum. 
Silene maritima. 
Lychnis alpina. (On the mountain pastures near Reikjavick.) 

Empetrum nigrum. 


Geranium sylvaticum. (Near the lake of Thingvalla, in 

Parnassia palustris. 

Oeno thereae. 
Epilobium latifolium. (At the foot of Hecla, in the crevices 

of the rocks.) 

Epilobium alpinum. (West of Havenfiord, in the valley of 

Rutus articus. 
Potentilla auserina. 
Potentilla greenlandica. (Around Kalmanustunga ana Kollis- 

mula, on the rocks.) 
Alchemilla montana. 
Sanguisorba officinalis. 
Geum rivale. 
Dryasocto petala. (Around Havenfiord. 

Trifolium repens. 




This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 

on the date to which renewed. 
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall. 


MAY 1 9 J962 


LD 21A-50m-3,'62 

General Library 

University of California