Being some account of a voyage in 1856 of the schooner yacht "Foam"
to Iceland, Jan Meyen, and Spitzbergen.
By the Marquess of Dufferin Sometime Governor-General of the Dominion
of Canada and afterwards Viceroy of India.
PROTESILAUS STUMBLES ON THE THRESHOLD
Glasgow, Monday, June 2, 1856.
Our start has not been prosperous. Yesterday evening, on
passing Carlisle, a telegraphic message was put into my
hand, announcing the fact of the "Foam" having been
obliged to put into Holyhead, in consequence of the sudden
illness of my Master. As the success of our expedition
entirely depends on our getting off before the season is
further advanced, you can understand how disagreeable it
is to have received this check at its very outset. As
yet, of course, I know nothing of the nature of the
illness with which he has been seized. However, I have
ordered the schooner to proceed at once to Oban, and I
have sent back the Doctor to Holyhead to overhaul the
sick man. It is rather early in the day for him to enter
upon the exercise of his functions.
THE ICELANDER - A MODERN SIR PATRICK SPENS
Greenock, Tuesday, June 3, 1856
I found the Icelander awaiting my arrival here, - pacing
up and down the coffee-room like a Polar bear.
At first he was a little shy, and, not having yet had
much opportunity of practising his English, it was some
time before I could set him perfectly at his ease. He
has something so frank and honest in his face and bearing,
that I am certain he will turn out a pleasant companion.
There being no hatred so intense as that which you feel
towards a disagreeable shipmate, this assurance has
relieved me of a great anxiety, and I already feel I
shall hereafter reckon Sigurdr (pronounced Segurthur),
the son of Jonas, among the number of my best friends.
As most educated English people firmly believe the
Icelanders to be a "Squawmuck," blubber-eating,
seal-skin-clad race, I think it right to tell you that
Sigurdr is apparelled in good broadcloth, and all the
inconveniences of civilization, his costume culminating
in the orthodox chimney-pot of the nineteenth century.
He is about twenty-seven, very intelligent-looking,
and - all women would think - lovely to behold. A high
forehead, straight, delicate features, dark blue eyes,
auburn hair and beard, and the complexion of - Lady S - d!
His early life was passed in Iceland; but he is now
residing at Copenhagen as a law student. Through the
introduction of a mutual friend, he has been induced to
come with me, and do us the honours of his native land.
"O whar will I get a skeely skipper,
To sail this gude ship o' mine?'
Such, alas! has been the burden of my song for these last
four-and-twenty hours, as I have sat in the Tontine Tower,
drinking the bad port wine, for, after spending a fortune
in telegraphic messages to Holyhead, it has been decided
that B - cannot come on, and I have been forced to rig up
a Glasgow merchant skipper into a jury sailing-master.