Letters From High Latitudes By Lord Dufferin















































































 -  Sand and ashes irretrievably overwhelmed
thousands of acres of fertile pasturage. The Faroe islands,
the Shetlands, and the Orkneys were - Page 80
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Sand And Ashes Irretrievably Overwhelmed Thousands Of Acres Of Fertile Pasturage.

The Faroe islands, the Shetlands, and the Orkneys were deluged with volcanic dust, which perceptibly contaminated even the pure skies of England and Holland.

Mephitic vapours tainted the atmosphere of the entire island; - even the grass, which no cinder rain had stifled, completely withered up; the fish perished in the poisoned sea. A murrain broke out among the cattle, and a disease resembling scurvy attacked the inhabitants themselves. Stephenson has calculated that 9,000 men, 28,000 horses, 11,000 cattle, 190,000 sheep, died from the effects of this one eruption. The most moderate calculation puts the number of human deaths at upwards of 1,300; and of cattle, etc. at about 156,000.

The whole of this century had proved most fatal to the unfortunate people of Iceland. At its commencement smallpox destroyed more than 16,000 persons; nearly 20,000 more perished by a famine consequent on a succession of inclement seasons; while from time to time the southern coasts were considerably depopulated by the incursions of English and even Algerine pirates.

The rest of our day's journey lay through a country less interesting than the district we had traversed before luncheon. For the most part we kept on along the foot of the hills, stopping now and then for a drink of milk at the occasional farms perched upon their slopes. Sometimes turning up a green and even bushy glen, (there are no trees in Iceland, the nearest approach to anything of the kind being a low dwarf birch, hardly worthy of being called a shrub,) we would cut across the shoulder of some projecting spur, and obtain a wider prospect of the level land upon our right; or else keeping more down in the flat, we had to flounder for half an hour up to the horses' shoulders in an Irish bog.

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