Letters From High Latitudes By Lord Dufferin


Our last stage from Thingvalla back to Reykjavik was got
over very quickly, and seemed an infinitely shorter
distance than - Page 100
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Our Last Stage From Thingvalla Back To Reykjavik Was Got Over Very Quickly, And Seemed An Infinitely Shorter Distance Than When We First Performed It.

We met a number of farmers returning to their homes from a kind of fair that is annually held

In the little metropolis; and as I watched the long caravan-like line of pack-horses and horsemen, wearily plodding over the stony waste in single file, I found it less difficult to believe that these remote islanders should be descended from Oriental forefathers. In fact, one is constantly reminded of the East in Iceland. From the earliest ages the Icelanders have been a people dwelling in tents. In the time of the ancient Parliament, the legislators, during the entire session, lay encamped in movable booths around the place of meeting. Their domestic polity is naturally patriarchal, and the flight of their ancestors from Norway was a protest against the antagonistic principle of feudalism. No Arab could be prouder of his courser than they are of their little ponies, or reverence more deeply the sacred rights of hospitality; while the solemn salutation exchanged between two companies of travellers, passing each other in the DESERT - as they invariably call the uninhabited part of the country - would not have misbecome the stately courtesy of the most ancient worshippers of the sun.

Anything more multifarious than the landing of these caravans we met returning to the inland districts - cannot well be conceived; deal boards, rope, kegs of brandy, sacks of rye or wheaten flour, salt, soap, sugar, snuff, tobacco, coffee; everything, in fact, which was necessary to their domestic consumption during the ensuing winter. In exchange for these commodities, which of course they are obliged to get from Europe, the Icelanders export raw wool, knitted stockings, mittens, cured cod, and fish oil, whale blubber, fox skins, eider-down, feathers, and Icelandic moss.

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