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moral condition of this one Syssel, as reported by Dr. H., makes a grievous approach to that of some five bundred districts of the British Isles. It is, any where in the world, a pernicious thing for many human beings to exist near together; and the employment of fishing being the only one in the hamlets of this peninsula, abandons the people, in the intervals occasioned by stormy weather, to idleness, drunkenness, and the usually and naturally attendant vices, repressed in some respects, but ag. gravated in others, by extreme poverty.
The Traveller acknowledges to have felt no small alarm at one spot on this part of the coast ; a very narrow pass, over most rugged and difficult ground, between the sea on one side, and stupendous overhanging precipices on the other, with vast projecting masses of rocks, apparently threatening every instant to fall, and often actually fulfilling the menace, to the destruction of numbers of adventurous passengers. The evidence of some such disruptions having thundered down within a few preceding hours, gave a lively stimulus to bis fears, the signs of which, however, he was bound to repress in consideration of his company : two young ladies of the friendly family of a Danish adininistrator, who happened to be not at home, would pay their guest the compliment of attending him some distance, in company with the clergyman of the station, who was to be bis guide ; and they performed the service with an easy defiance of the terrors of the pass ; of which, nevertheless, the dangers are so really imminent, that many of the natives prefer a long circuitous route to avoid it. In the morning of the following day, Dr. I. was roused from his repose in his tent, (he very seldoin slept within any house,) by a prodigious sound, apparently from a cause very near him.
On drawing aside the curtain,' he says, 'I found that a disruption had taken place in the face of a mountain at no great distance. The air was nearly darkened with the quantity of dust that was borne upwards by the wind, and immense masses of rock were hurled down, tearing the ground as they rolled along, and, giving a fresh impulse to the rocks and gravel that had already fallen, the whole rushed down with amazing velocity into the plain.'
It was somewhat fortunate that he should, for once, witness the actual occurrence of a striking phenomenon. It is possible that some captious reader might otherwise be found to bint a suggestion of its being very strange that during a traverse of so many hundred leagues, during so many months, there shoud be no instance of the aciual contemporary spectacle of one of any class of those mighty movements, with the memorials of which almost the whole region is described as covered. It might have been suspected that a fervid imagination has a little magnified their importance or their multitude,
Can these enumerated monumental results of the great agencies of Nature in past time, presented in close succession throughout the tour, be all really of so magnificent an order, if the traveller may at this time compass the whole island, and searcely witness, excepting the Geysers, one present display of those agencies which he can describe as eminently grand? To such an insinuation, if such there were, it might be replied, that the tour of the whole island would not be likely to make the traveller the spectator of a greater number of transient, grand phenomena, than he would have witnessed in remaining stationary, for the same number of months, in any one spot where the great but slow agencies of Nature were in the course of producing such phenomena; as an object moving in a shower of hail or raia, would not receive a greater proportion of the falling element than if standing perfectly still the same length of time. Five or six months of travelling were thus but equivalent, with respect to the sight of contemporary mighty operations, to remaining so long fixed in any one of a hundred different spots of Iceland. Now, then, imagine the case that there had been a hundred observers placed during those months in these hundred stations, and that they had subsequently brought into one collective description all the magnificent transient phenomena they should have witnessed. If, on the average, each of them had to relate no more than two or three prodigious exhibitions, the whole assemblage would, nevertheless, form an amazing display of what bad taken place within that short period. It would, by the rule laid down, contain a hundred times as many wonders, of present occurrence, as our Author witnessed in his whole tour. It would in fact contain a far greater proportion; since a very large part of his time was necessarily spent in passing over tracts where, from the nature of the place, nothing extraordinary was likely to happen, even in the course of many years; whereas, the hundred observers might all have remained stationary, during the whole time, in situations where the great operations of Nature, tending to great catastrophes, were evidently going on. But what a majestic picture would thus be furnished of the continual achievements of that agency, slowly productive of extraordinary phenomena as it may appear, in the descriptive narration of a single observer !
Nevertheless, it will strike every reader that time has Wrought a very great change in the island with regard to the power of fire. In this respect, it looks like the vast deserted metropolis of some ancient and fallen empire. In contemplatiog the unnumbered volcanos, and the immensity of lava and other vestiges of the rage and dominion of fire, it is inevitable to believe, that there have been times when eruptions and earthVol. X. N.S.
quakes were of far more frequent occurrence than during the last few centuries, or in perhaps any age since the island was colonized ; though since that period there have been twentythree recorded eruptions of Hekla. This appears to have been the most active in maintaining the formidable sublimity of Iceland; but half a century has now elapsed since its last eruption. In some of the mountains whose extensive lavas proclaim their original character, Snaefell Yokul, for instance, the power of destruction has slumbered ever since the occupation of the island.
The observations at some spots on the southern shore of the Breidatiord, especially at Helgafell and the neighbourhood, give occasion to introduce some amusing reminiscences, historical and legendary, of the first rude pagan settlers in this part of the island. It retains the fame, and, as Dr. H. is satisfied, a substantial monument, of the residence and proceedings of Thorolf, a bold Norwegian nobleman, who took possession of the tract, a little before the end of the ninth century, and distinguished himself and the place by a fanatical devotion to the worship of Thor. This grim Moloch of the North was never sparing in his demands of human blood; and the report of the present existence of one of his most tributary altars,-that on which were sacrificed the culprits condemned in Thorolf's public court of justice, --incited our Author to an active search in and around the spot indicated by ancient remains to have been a place of convocation : the following is the result.
· We fell in with an immense number of small square heights, which are evidently the ruins of the booths used by the people at the public assembly. 'We here instituted a strict search after the Blotsteinn, or Stone of Sacrifice, on which human victims were immolated to Thor ; but sought in vain in the immediate vicinity of the booths, none of the stones in that quarter answering to the description which had been given of it. At last we descried a large stone in the middle of a morass at some distance, which, though rough and unshapen, was determined to be the identical “ Stone of Fear,” by the “horrid circle of Brumo,” in the centre of which it is situate. The stones which form this circular range; appear also to be of a considerable size ; but as they are now almost covered by the morass, it is impossible to ascertain their depth, except by digging. The circle itself is about twelve yards in diameter, and the stones are situated at short distances from each other. The Blot-steinn is of an oblong shape, with a sharp summit, on which the backs of the victims were broken, that were offered as expiatory sacrifices, in order to appease the wrath of the offended deity, and purge the community from the obnoxiousness of guilt. Within the circle, called in Icelandic domhringr, sat the judges, before whom the accused, with their advocates and witnesses, were convened, while the spectators crowded around the outside of the range in order to hear the trial.'
At Hvam, the necessity imposed on the Traveller of reposing, after a stage of great fatigue, in an Icelander's bed, in consequence of having left his tent and bedding behind in order to make a collateral excursion, excited, he confesses, some apprehension, perhaps as much as any of the secondary class of the torrents, chasıns, and impending rocks at other places in his progress; and be mentions circumstances little adapted to allay it. His insupportable sleepiness, however, was victorious, and he did not pay the dreaded fine for his long and delicious slumber: thanks to the care of his hospitable entertainer, as shewn in the new and cleanly appearance of the furniture of his couch. He very rarely adverts to the kind of danger here alluded to; but as it exists very extensively, it must form a deduction from the pleasure of a sojourn among the worthy people of Iceland. He found the family of the little farm remarkable for piety, cheerfulness, loquacity, and inquisitiveness. Their curiosity was directed particularly to the condition of the British farmers. This he mentions to have been frequently the case among these peasants; and he had great difficulty to answer their inquiries in a manner that should not give them a mortifying sense of contrast. His usual expedient to prevent or soften this, was to dwell strongly on the insignificance of the inequality of condition during the brief abode on earth, while eternal existence is in prospect. And this was, of course, a more consolatory suggestion than to have repeated to them the expression which he had heard from one of the most iotelligent of their clergymen, 'Our poverty is the bulwark of our hap
piness.' Such religious observations, he says, were always • well received, and seldom failed to elicit corresponding senti. ments.'
(To be concluded in the next Number.)
Art. IX. SELECT LITERARY INFORMATION,
Gentlemen and Publishers who have works in the press, will oblige the Conductors of the Eclectic Review, by sending Information (post paid) of the subject, extent, and probable price of such works ; which they may depend upon being communicated to the Public, if consistent with its Plan,
The Editors of the Biblical Register are sorry to be under the necessity of informing their friends, that the en. couragement which it bas received, bas not been such, as to justify individuals in continuing a Publication, at a very heavy certain loss, from which, under any circumstances, they would uot derive any profit; and that therefore no additional number will be printed. The seven Numbers which have already appeared, may be bad of Simpkid and Marshall, Stationer's Court, Ludgate. Hill, and J. Low, Gracechurch-street, stitched together, price 3s. These contain, amongst other important and interesting matter, a full account of the plan of Organizing and Conducting Bible Associations ; Historical Accounts of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and of the Naval and Military Bible Society; Reviews of various Pamphlels for and against the Bible So. ciety, &c. &c.; and are embellished with a Portrait of the Emperor Alexander.
Dr. Ayre, of Hull, will soon publish, in an octavo volume, Practical Observations on the nature and treatment of those disorders which may be strictly denominated Bilious.
Dr. A. B. Granville has in the press, Memoirs on the Present State of Science and Scientific Institutions in France ; interspersed with anecdotes, and illustrated by numerous plates and tables.
Dr. Clarke Abel will soon publish, Personal Observations inade during the Progress of the British Embassy through China, and on its Voyage to and from that country, in a 4to, volume, illustrated by engravings.
Mr. J. W, Whittaker, of St. John's College, Cambridge, has in the press, a Critical Examination of Mr. Bellamy's Translation of Genesis; comprising a refutation of his calumnies against the English Translators of the Bible.
Mr. John Nichols is preparing for publication, in three octavo volumes, the Miscellaneous Works of the late G, Hardinge, Esq.
Dr. Spiker's Travels through England are published at Berlin, and an English translation is preparing for the press.
Dr. Andrew Duncan will soon publish, an Account of the Life, Writings, and Character of the late Dr. Alex. Monro, delivered as the Harveian oration at Edinburgh for 1818.
Johu Galt, Esq. is preparing the Se cond Part of the Life of Benjamin West, Esq.
M. A. Picquot is printing, a Chronological Abridgement of the History of Modern Europe, compiled from the best English, French, and German histo: rians.
Mr. William Carey bas in the press, a Biographical Sketch of B. R. Haydon, Esq. with Critical Observations on his Paintings, and some notice of bis Essays in the public journals.
Dr. Hallarau has in the press a second edition, with considerable additions, of his Practical Observations on the Causes and Cure of Insanity.
In the press, an Historical Account of Discoveries and Travels in Asia. By Hugh Murray, F.R.S.E. Author of an Historical Account of Discoveries in Africa. In 3 vols. 8vo. with maps.
In the press, a Geographical and Statistical Description of Scotland. Ву James Playfair, D.D. F.R.S. and F.A. S.E. Principal of the United College of St. Andrew, and Historiographer to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. Ja 2 vols. 8vo. with a map.
In the press, Sermons: By the Rev. C. R. Maturin, Curate of St. Peter's, Dublin. In 8vo.
Dr. Alexander Monro, Professor of Anatomy in the University of Edinbugh, has in the press, an Account of the Sinall-Pox, as it appeared after Vaccination. Including, among many Cases, three which occurred in the Author's own Family. In octavo, with plates.
Preparing for publication, H. Butterworth's Catalogue of Modern Law Books, intended as a Guide to the purchasers of legal works.