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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