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countries. The public have been living very much in an ideal world, fed with tales and novels, with history "done into" romance, and poetry, produced not by the majesty of elevating thought, but by a kind of physical excitement, or by dressing up some miserable abortion of fancy, in the castaway shreds of a noble idea. Any work which has a tendency to call back the minds of the young to sober thought and accurate information, and to store them with materials for reflection and intellectual improvement, should be hailed with satisfaction. In the work before us, every parent may furnish his children with a rich repast, and every Lyceum may obtain matter which will be interesting and valuable to its members; the scholar, by consulting the appendix of the Edinburgh edition, will find rare and valuable information on the literature of Iceland; the statesman, or political economist, may see an illustration of the influence of some principles in the social relations, which are seldom found developed in actual life; those who are interested in the natural phenomena of our planet, will find important accessions of knowledge respecting the general appearance of volcanic formations; and those who delight in facts bordering upon the marvelous, will at every turn find their curiosity. abundantly satisfied. Not that we think Dr. H's. Journal superior to what many others might have written, though his descriptions have uncommon simplicity, truth, and accuracy, without the tedium of too great minuteness. Not that the work is free from faults: the style is sometimes disfigured with Scotticisms; the sentences are often negligent in their construction; and there is occasionally a want of sufficient knowledge of mineralogy and geology, to make the descriptions satisfactory and intelligible. But Dr. H. we need not say, did not travel, like Baron Humboldt, to enlarge the boundaries of science, but to do the work of a pure and benevolent mind, which, awake to all knowledge, and grandeur, and beauty, could not but pause here and there, in its kind and merciful enterprise, to speak of the wonders with which it was encompassed, as an illustration of the power and majesty of God.
The most striking circumstance presented to the eye of the traveler in this ice-bound island, is the volcanic nature of its origin. In a region of almost perpetual frost, it seems to be the opening of a vast subterranean cavern of fire. Any one will be surprised in reading Dr. H's. Journal, to find how naturally his mind runs into the theory of Cordier, whether right or wrong, that the earth is a mass of liquid fire, with its external surface somewhat cooled. The almost inconceivable quantity of substances, which have been thrown from volcanoes, and the tremendous power by which they have been ejected, proclaim at all events, that the reservoir is of immense dimensions, and the supplies for the flame inexhaustible.
Etna is supposed to have increased to twenty times its original size, and is now thirty miles from the base to the summit, with a base 150 miles in circumference! Streams of lava thirty or forty miles in length, several miles in breadth, and from ten to forty feet in thickness, have flowed in different directions from the crater. The same is emphatically true of Iceland. Dr. H. in his journey is constantly speaking of this and of that stream of lava, until one is amazed at their immense extent. One is mentioned twenty miles in length, by six or eight in breadth; another has filled ravines hundreds of feet in depth, and desolated large portions of the island. One branch of the Skaptan volcano flowed fifty miles, with a breadth of from twelve to fifteen, into the low country. Another branch of the same eruption flowed forty miles, with a breadth of seven miles, and this one hundred feet in thickness, on the plains, and six hundred feet in the Skaptâ channel! We extract the following account of this eruption from the American edition.
Upon the 10th of June, 1763, the flames first became visible. Vast fire-spouts were seen rushing up amid the volumes of smoke, and the torrent of lava that was thrown up, flowing in a south-west direction, through the valley, till it reached the river Skaptà, when a violent contention between the two opposite elements ensued, attended with the escape of an amazing quantity of steam; but the fiery current ultimately prevailed, and forcing itself across the channel of the river, completely dried it up in less than twenty-four hours. The cause of its desiccation soon became apparent: for the lava, being collected in the channel, which lies between high rocks, and is in many places from 400 to 600 feet in depth, and near 200 in breadth, not only filled it up to the brink, but overflowed the adjacent felds to a considerable extent; and pursuing the course of the river with great velocity, laid waste the farms in its way. In the mean time, the thunder, lightning, and subterraneous concussions were continued, with little or no intermission; and besides the crackling of the rocks and earth, which the lava burnt in its progress, the ears of the inhabitants were stunned by the tremendous roar of the solcano, which resembled that of a large caldron in the most violent state of bullition, or the noise of a number of massy bellows, blowing with full power
into the same furnace.
On gaining the outlet, by which the hills that confine the channel of the Skapta open into the plain, it might naturally have been supposed, that the burning flood would at once have deluged the low fields which lay directly before it; but, contrary to all expectation, it was arrested for some time, by an immense unfathomed abyss in the bed of the river, into which it emptied itself with a great noise. When this chasm was filled, the lava, augmented by fresh effusions, rose to a prodigious beight, and, breaking over the masses that had cooled, it at length proceeded southwards across the plain. It also rushed into the subterraneous caverns, and during its progress under ground, it threw up the crust either to the side, or to a great height in the air. In such places, as it proceeded below a thick indurated crust, where there was no vent for the steam, the surface was burst in pieces, and thrown up with the utmost violence and noise to the height of near 180 feet.
On the 18th, another dreadful ejection of liquid and red hot lava proceeded from the volcano, which now entirely covered the rocks that had towered above the reach of the former floods, during their progress through the channel of the Skaptâ, and flowed down with amazing velocity and force over the masses that were cooling, so that the one stream was literally heaped above the other. Masses of flaming rock were seen swimming in the lava. pp. 124, 125.
This eruption occasioned immense damage. Besides the farms injured and destroyed, it was the occasion of the destruction of 9,336 human beings, 28,000 horses, 11,641 head of cattle, and 190,488 sheep. The earthquakes attendant upon this eruption threw down 1,459 houses!
The last eruption of Kötlugiâ in 1755 and 1756, was another most awful scene.
It was inconceivably more dreadful than any of the preceding, and was rendered the more famous by the terrible convulsions to which, at the same time, a great part of the terrestrial globe was subjected. Not only were the British isles rocked by repeated and violent shocks of an earthquake, houses thrown down, rocks split, and the waters of the sea and lakes heaved up; but in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Holland, France, and Italy, the same phenomena were experienced. Spain and Portugal, however, suffered most from the shocks. Numerous villages, convents, and churches, were demolished; the largest mountains shaken from the foundations; and the low grounds inundated by the swelling and overflowing of the rivers. Lisbon, in particular, exhibited a scene the most tragic and melancholy. The most ponderous edifices were heaved up and shaken; steeples, towers, and houses, thrown down; the ground and streets danced under the feet of the inhabitants; and many thousands of them were buried in the ruins. Nor was the earthquake confined to Europe. It stretched over into Barbary, and destroyed upwards of a dozen cities on the coast of Africa. Its concussions were also felt in Persia, in the West Indies, and in America.
The inhabitants of the tract about Kötlugia were first apprised of the impending catastrophe on the forenoon of the 17th of October, by a number of quick and irregular tremifications, which were followed by three immense floods from the Yokul, that carried before them almost incredible quantities of ice and gravel. Masses of ice, resembling small mountains in size, pushed one another forward. and bore vast pieces of solid rock on their surface. After the rocking had continued some time, an exceeding loud report was heard, when fire and water were observed to be emitted alternately by the volcano, which appeared to vent its rage through three apertures, situated close to each other. At times the column of fire was carried to such a height, that it illuminated the whole of the surrounding atmosphere, and was seen at the distance of a hundred and eighty miles: at other times, the air was so filled with smoke and ashes, that the adjacent parishes were enveloped in total darkness. Between these alternations of light and obscu rity, vast red-hot globes were thrown to a great height, and broken into a thousand pieces. The following night presented one of the most awful and sublime spectacles imaginable. An unremitting noise, like that produced by the discharge of heavy artillery, was heard from the volcano; a fiery column of variegated hues rose into the atmosphere; flames and sparks were scattered in every direction, and blazed in the most vivid manner.
The eruption continued, with more or less violence, till the 7th of November, during which period dreadful exundations of hot water were poured forth on the low country; and the masses of ice, clay, and solid rock, that they hurled into the sea, were so great, that it was filled to the distance of more than fifteen miles ; and in some places where formerly it was forty fathoms deep, the tops of the newly deposited rocks were now seen towering above the water. pp. 131-133.
The whole island indeed appears to be one vast volcanic production, on which Dr. H. enumerates thirty different volcanoes, and every few years there are new eruptions which extend the mainland into the sea. In the north western part of the island are several mud volcanoes, of which Dr. H. gives the following description.
I had scarcely recovered from my consternation, when a more terrific scene opened on my view. Almost directly below the brink on which I stood, at the depth of more than six hundred feet, lay a row of large caldrons of boiling mud, twelve in number, which were in full and constant action; roaring, splashing, and sending forth immense columns of dense vapor, that, rising and spreading in the atmosphere, in a great measure intercepted the rays of the sun, which stood high above the horizon in the same direction. The boldest strokes of poetic fiction would be utterly inadequate to a literal description of the awful realities of this place; nor can any ideas, formed by the strongest human imagination, reach half the grandeur, or the terrors, of the prospect. I stood for about a quarter of an hour as if I had been petrified, with my eyes intensely fixed on the dreadful operations that were going on in the abyss below me, when, turning to the left, I had a full view of the tremendous Krabla, the Obsidian Mountain, and two or three other volcanic mountains, whose names I could not learn with any cer
Leading our horses down the side of the mountain, in a zig-zag direction, we advanced towards the hverar; but, as the steeds grew rather restive, and the soil began to lose its firmness, we left them behind us, and proceeded, with wary step, amongst numerous burning quagmires. Excepting two, which lie at the distance of twenty yards from the rest, they all crowded together into one vast chasm of the lava. Some of them remain stationary within the crevice, but roar terribly, and emit much steam; others boil violently, and splash their black muddy contents round the orifice of the pit; while two or three jet, at intervals, to the height of four or five feet. The most remarkable, however, is that at the northern extremity of the chasm. Its smallest diameter, down to the surface of the puddle, may be about fourteen feet, but it opens gradually to the edge, where the chasm is at least twenty feet across. The water, which was quite turbid and black, was comparatively quiet about two minutes, when it broke forth in a most furious manner, jetting to the height of between ten and fifteen feet, and splashing between the jets, in oblique directions, on every side, which rendered it dangerous to stand near the margin. What increased the danger, was the softness of the soil, which appeared to fill other chasms close to the great one, so that on making sudden leap, to escape being scalded, a person can hardly avoid plunging into semi-liquid beds of hot clay and sulphur, an alternative still more shocking. The jetting is accompanied with a harsh roar, and the escape of a vast quantity of vapor strongly impregnated with sulphur. It lasts four minutes, after which the liquid again subsides to its former state. The two apertures, that lay at a short distance from the rest, were filled with thick mud, which moved so sluggishly that it could scarcely be said to boil, but, as the surface was considerable, it puffed no small quantity of steam in a very amusing manner. To a considerable distance around these springs, and a long way up the mountain, the soil is extremely soft, and so hot, that you cannot hold your hand more than three inches below the surface. PP. 87, 88.
The Geysers, or fountains which at intervals spout forth hot water, are perhaps the most curious of the phenomena described in the Journal. They occur in the southern portion of Iceland, and in a somewhat level tract of country. On turning the point of a mountain, says Dr. H.,
We could descry, from the clouds of vapor that were rising and convolving in the atmosphere, the spot where one of the most magnificent and unparalleled scenes in nature is displayed:-where, bursting the parted ground, Great Geyser
hot, through scorching cliffs, is seen to rise, With exhalations steaming to the skies!"
Electrified, as it were, by the sight, and feeling impatient to have our curiosity gratified, Mr. Hodgson and I rode on before the cavalcade; and just as we got
clear of the south-east corner of the low hill, at the side of which the springs at situated, we were saluted by an eruption which lasted several minutes, and during which the water appeared to be carried to a great height in the air. Riding on between the springs and the hill, we fell in with a small green spot, where we left our horses, and proceeded, as if by an irresistible impulse, to the gentle sloping ground, from the surface of which numerous columns of steam were making
Though surrounded by a great multiplicity of boiling springs, and steaming apertures, the magnitude and grandeur of which far exceeded any thing we had ever seen before, we felt at no loss in determining on which of them to feast our wondering eyes, and bestow the primary moments of astonished contemplation. Near the northern extremity of the tract rose a large circular mound, formed by the depositions of the fountain, justly distinguished by the appellation of the Great Geyser, from the middle of which a great degree of evaporation was visible. Ascending the rampart, we had the spacious bason at our feet more than half filled with the most beautiful hot crystalline water, which was but just moved by a gentle ebullition, occasioned by the escape of steam from a cylindrical pipe or funnel in the centre. This pipe I ascertained by admeasurement to be seventyeight feet of perpendicular depth; its diameter is in general from eight to ten feet, but near the mouth it gradually widens, and opens almost imperceptibly into the bason, the inside of which exhibits a whitish surface, consisting of a silicious incrustation, which has been rendered almost perfectly smooth by the incessant action of the boiling water. The diameter of the bason is fifty-six feet in one direction, and forty-six in another; and, when full, it measures about four feet in depth from the surface of the water to the commencement of the pipe. The borders of the bason, which form the highest part of the mound, are very irregular, owing to the various accretions of the deposited substances; and at two places are small channels, equally polished with the interior of the bason, through which the water makes its escape, when it has been filled to the margin. The declivity of the mound is rapid at first, especially on the north-west side, but instantly begins to slope more gradually, and the depositions are spread all around to difierent distances, the least of which is near an hundred feet. The whole of this surface, the two small channels excepted, displays a beautiful silicious efflorescence, rising in small granular clusters, which bear the most striking resemblance to the heads of cauliflowers, and, while wet, are of so extremely delicate a contexture, that it is hardly possible to remove them in a perfect state. They are of a brownish color, but in some places approaching to a yellow. On leaving the mound, the hot water passes through a turfy kind of soil, and, by acting on the peat, mosses, and grass, converts them entirely into stone, and furnishes the curious traveler with some of the finest specimens of petrifaction. pp. 40, 41.
After remaining four or five hours, and witnessing various phenomena, loud and frequent reports were heard.
Concluding from these circumstances that the long expected wonders were about to commence, I ran to the mound, which shook violently under my feet, and I had scarcely time to look into the bason, when the fountain exploded, and instantly compelled me to retire to a respectful distance on the windward side. The water rushed up out of the pipe with amazing velocity, and was projected by irregular jets into the atmosphere, surrounded by immense volumes of steam, which, in a great measure, hid the column from the view. The first four or five jets were inconsiderable, not exceeding fifteen or twenty feet in height; these were followed by one about fifty feet, which was succeeded by two or three considerably lower; after which came the last, exceeding all the rest in splendor, which rose at least to the height of seventy feet. The large stones which we had previously thrown into the pipe were ejaculated to a great height, especially one which was thrown much higher than the water. On the propulsion of the jets, they lifted up the water in the bason nearest the orifice of the pipe to the height of a foot, or a foot and a half, and, on the falling of the column, it not only caused the bason to overflow at the usual channels, but forced the water over the highest