« ForrigeFortsett »
have been involved by it; and the sore repentance which, on one account or other, it always costs us. But bad temper will never be conquered till it is felt to be a sin-a sin which every Christian man is bound to repent of and to forsake. It is not difficult to persuade people to acknowledge this in general terms, but the acknowledgment is vitiated by excuses which show that the guilt is not honestly recognised. No man ever thinks of defending himself against the charge of dishonesty or falsehood, by pleading that his proneness to the sin diminishes his responsibility; but proneness to violent and angovernable anger is constantly urged as a pallation of the offence. It is one of the most mischievous characteristics of this sin, that it almost always claims to be the necessary result of peculiarity of temperament. I have not unfrequently heard men speak of it as though it were a mere physical infirmity; and as though we had no more right to blame a man for his temper than for the colour of his eyes, his complexion, or his hair. So long as this excuse is admitted, conscience is silenced, and there can be no vigorous attempt to reform.
No doubt a man's physical constitution has very much to do with his temper. There are people to whom it is no great credit to be gentle and kindly. They are kept from violent passion, not by the strength of right principle, but by the sluggishness and weakness of their pulse. But it is the business of man's reason and conscience to tame the waywardness of animal impulses, and to compel them to serve the soul. If temperament is to be an excuse for causeless and excessive anger, the glutton and the drunkard may appeal to their physical constitation as an alleviation of their guilt, and many of the foulest offences may take shelter under the same convenient plea. Even the moralist refuses to admit that the soul has any right to excuse its wrong-doing by alleging the strength of the lower passions; it is the soul's darkest curse as well as its
THE central deserts of Iceland are unexplored. A man must be bold, and singularly favoured by weather, to investigate their mysterious recesses and to return with life. One region, part wild tumbled snow and glacier mountains, part plains of bristling lava, is as unknown as the heart of Africa. The glimmer of silver peaks has been seen from afar, across an impassable arm of lava, the confines of the great sea of molten matter have been skirted, but those billows of black ragged stone have never been traversed even in the old adventuresome days of Iceland. Sometimes violent shocks and a rising column of black cloud warn distant settlers that volcanic fires are still active in the heart of that
deepest degradation, to be unable to control them. The Christian who supposes that there are sins which the Holy Ghost cannot enable him to subdue, dishonours "the exceeding greatness of that power," which worketh in all that believe. There is no sin for which Christ atoned from which He cannot deliver us. There is no sin which He can pardon which He cannot give us strength to overcome. If there were fetters He could not break, diseases He could not heal, our trust in Him as our Saviour would be gone.
Let men consider what they are saying when they imply that a bad temper cannot be overcome. It is not an isolated evil, a mere local affection which leaves the rest of the soul uninjured. By it we are often betrayed into words and deeds most cruel and unjust; by yielding to it, we inflict undeserved misery; it violates the laws of charity; it hinders communion with God; it often destroys our religious usefulness.
A NORTHERN DESERT.
NOTES OF A JOURNEY INTO ICELAND.
Nor should the angry man forget that the very 'temperament" which occasions his sin, and which he sometimes pleads in alleviation of his guilt, renders possible forms of excellence which are unattainable by men whose blood is sluggish, and in whose souls no fire burns. Many of the very noblest men that ever lived, had slumbering volcanoes in them. The heat and impulse and vehemence which when unrestrained hurry us into harsh and unmeasured and violent language, become, when controlled, an element of invaluable power. Rapture in worship, zeal in Christian work, ardour in friendship, enthusiastic loyalty to a just and righteous cause-these are all possible to men whose passions are impetuous. There is hardly any other sin which lies so near to great virtues. Let anger be mastered, and there is not only a great evil escaped, but the same force which wrought the former mischief, gives inspiration and nobleness to the whole moral life.
R. W. DALE.
of the neighbouring mountains, when the clouds rain down sand till the ground is covered many feet deep, and every particle of vegetation is destroyed. I had an opportunity of observing a cutting made by a stream in this district, and I found traces of three several depositions of volcanic dust, the last as much as thirteen feet deep. Vegetation advances in Iceland with none of that rapidity with which it covers the flanks of Vesuvius, and sand in Iceland is many hundreds of years old before it becomes covered with a scanty growth of marram and moss campion.
Part of this elevated tableland of desert is studded with countless lakes of all shapes and sizes, discon
It must not be thought that a mossy, willowy bottom is common. You may travel all day without coming to one, but a few do exist, known only to certain individuals who haunt the waste during the summer, gathering the lichen islandicus, or seeking swans. This region bears some resemblance to the Siberian tundras, but it is more barren. The tundras are moss-covered, and nourish herds of reindeer; but the "heidis" of the centre of Iceland could not support any quadruped. For the most part this desert is devoid of living creatures, for birds will not frequent spots where there is no vegetation. Wherever a morass of moss, blaeberry, and willow is to be found, however, multitudes of wild fowl congregate. The lakes teem with red-fleshed Alpine trout and magnificent char, and where the fish are, there are to be found the swan and the diver. Swans breed in considerable numbers among these lakes, unmolested except by a hardy native who may venture into the wilds to shoot them for
nected, landlocked; some, quiet tarns of crystal clear water, others winding among the hills, ruffled and tossed into angry waves by the cutting blasts which howl over the waste. This wild region is utterly barren. The hills are bare, exposed stone, broken into angular fragments, and torn into gullies by the melting snows of spring. The elevated plains are masses of splintered trap and black mud, into which a horse will flounder to its belly. The dales are occasionally grey with moss, and partially clothed with stunted willow.
But every spring-thaw helps to destroy the little amount of vegetation which exists, as the icy water tears down the hill slopes and rips up the moss, or
bears away the sandy soil in which the willow their feathers. The swan is of only one species, the
cygnus musicus: some naturalists have asserted that
Another bird frequenting these lakes, also in couples, is the Great Northern Diver, a magnificent fellow in gorgeous metallic glitter of green and black, his wings and back sprinkled with white, and his breast of spotless purity. The size of the bird is great, his neck and head well-proportioned, the latter narrow and armed with a pointed darkcoloured bill, and furnished with bright crimson eyes, like rubies. The diver is a heavy bird, and a clumsy walker; but he flies well, though low, rising when alarmed from his lone dark pool with a weird cry, mingled with gulping whoops, like the laughter of a fiend. The diver is a very powerful swimmer, and it is difficult for a boat to keep up with him. He laughs at a storm, dancing like a cork on the waters, plunging through the waves and appearing on the other side with a fish in his mouth, which he swallows with a toss of his head.
In the neighbourhood of the lakes where there is |: vegetation the wimbrel stands on his long legs, uttering his wild sad cry, and seeming quite unconcerned if you present your gun. Have him we must, for we depend entirely for provisions in these wastes on what we shoot, and wimbrel, though stringy and tasteless, is not to be despised when little else is to be got. Ah! we have disturbed a covey of ptarmigan. They looked like grey stones, crouching so unconcernedly on the ground as we rode by. But the ptarmigan is sure before long to give notice of his presence, for he is proud of his voice, and one might pass within a few feet of the bird without noticing him, but for his tell-tale call, -riö, riö, riö,—which has given him his name in Iceland of Rjupr. We catch the zick-zack of the snipe in yon morass, and the ceaseless melancholy pipe of the golden plover sounds from every stouy hill around the tarn. Just here there is abundance of life; a gun-shot beyond the top of the rise you will not see or hear a bird. If you are lucky, you will catch sight of the great snowy owl, like a snowball sailing by, uttering its solemn note. haunts are somewhere among the unvisited, unknown recesses of the vast Jökulls which close the view on the south.
Here, close to us, is a little snow bunting, sitting wagging its tail and cheeping; lucky bunting that you are! had the owl but seen you, you would not be perched so unconcernedly there. How tame the little being is, or rather how stupid; you have only to steal up softly whilst it is occupied cheeping, and you can catch it in your hand. These rocks around us harbour countless buntings, but their nests are so far in among the crevices that it is a difficult matter to obtain an egg.
Have done with the birds : let us take a glance at the flora of this wild spot. This is scanty. The very moss in some places is turned black as coal by the icy tricklings from the snow, and it is only where there is a dry sheltered spot that any flowers can blossom. There are a few. The pale blue butterwort (Pinguicula alpina), on its sickly leaves,
trembles timorously in the piercing blasts which roll over the Jökulls, and yet bravely endures them. I do not think the little flower has as cheerful a hue here as in the south. It seems blanched with cold. The grass of Parnassus is also to be found, but the little bullet heads are not yet unfolded. On a southern slope of volcanic ash a scanty growth of creeping azalea may be discovered, and a few varieties of heath which I cannot identify just uow, as they have not yet flowered. In the marsh at the head of this tarn, in which my poor ponies are wading after the young willow-tops, I find the bog whortle and the blaeberry, now comiug into flower (Vaccinium myrtillus, V. uliginosum, V. vitis idea), and I light upon a bunch of Bartsia alpina, its rich plum-coloured flowers just beginning to open. On the lava rocks, especially when old, may be seen masses of pale Dryas octopetala a glorious flower, with its eight delicate milky petals and its sunny eye. Nowhere have I seen this plant in such perfection as in Iceland; the blossoms are larger there than I have seen in the Alps or the Pyrenees, but probably the volcanic constituents of the rock on which it lives are those best suited for its development. We may find a few saxifrages also, but they are more plentiful elsewhere than upon this desert. However the Saxifraga hirculus, S. aizoides, S. nivalis, S. hypnoides, S. cæspitosa, and S. tridactylites, may be discovered with a little trouble. One flower, however, which is sure to attract the eye, is the dwarf campion (Silene acaulis), of all gradations of colour, from pure snow-white to carmine pink, in dense masses of little blossoms, studding the sand, and growing where nothing else can grow. Brave, bonny little plant! I have become attached to it from association, as it has cheered my eye, wearied with the unrelieved monotony of black wastes for miles and miles in Iceland.
It was impossible to cross this desert in a day, and I was obliged to obtain a guide to direct me to some spot where I could encamp for the night, and where there was sufficient herbage for the support of my ponies. We were in the saddle for the greater part of the day, winding among barren stony hills, traversing rolling swells of exposed trap, trotting over sandy sweeps, skirting bristling barriers of lava, and threading our way among countless sheets of pale milky water, holding snow in solution, and not sufficiently warm to become transparent. At last, about six o'clock in the evening, we reached a lake about three miles long and a mile wide, on which my guide kept a boat for the purpose of fishing. He led us to a node of rock, covered with moss, at the foot of which was a heap of brushwood, which he had sent thither some days before, on the backs of ponies, to serve him as fuel when he came to spend a week in fishing. Our teeth were chattering with cold, and our whole frames shivering, though we were well on in the summer-within a day or two of the end of June: we were glad enough accordingly to secure some of this wood and
to make a fire. We had a couple of tents, and these were soon erected, though we had considerable difficulty in obtaining a suitable site, as the mossy ground was covered with lumps like enormous molehills as close together as they could stand. If we left the immediate neighbourhood of the rock just mentioned, we found ourselves in a quaking bog: and if we ascended the hill-side, we came upon bare stone on which we could not fix our tents, there being no possibility of driving in the pegs.
And now I must give an idea of the scene from the rise above this tarn, as viewed at midnight, when I made the sketch given on page SS.
Imagine, then, the lake, bright as a mirror, reflecting the blue-green of the sky, which was kindled with the beams of the sun, now touching the sea in the north, but which is invisible to us as some miles of rolling waste intervene. The middle distance is the Heidi, swell on swell of stone and sand, of a deep umber hue, deepening into black. Just at the lake-edge my little tent stands out a flake of white against the sombre ground-ah! you think there was moss where I pitched it-true; but the moss on these wastes is not green, but ash grey. My little flag, an admiral of the white pennant, charged with a red cross, is the only point of bright colour to relieve the monotony of the tints.
Over the last swell of the desert, where the umber is becoming purple with distance, rises with one start a mighty dome of ice, raised on precipitous flanks of trap, black when you are near them, but tinted the sweetest violet in the distance. The mighty pile of snow and ice rises from these abrupt scarps with a gentle curve, undinted to the very summit, looking soft and downy as a swan's breast. As the sun rests on the glittering heap it blushes to the tenderest rose and sparkles like a precious gem. The scene is entrancingly lovely. Far off behind this Jökull, which by the way is called Eirek's Jökull, stretches another-Lang Jökull, like a thread of white cloud, resting on the horizon, and lost in the distance at the south-east. To our right, Eirek's Jökull throws out a spur of precipitous rock, jauntily capped with snow, and beyond that, rises the cone of Strútur, an extinct volcano. To the north-west, as the air is so clear, we can catch sight of the marvellous Baula, a mountain which is considered one of the wonders of Iceland, as it is a perfect cone, running to a point, 3,500 feet high, with so rapid a slope that snow never rests on it.
To the north and north-east, we notice a couple of yellow hills, composed of sandstone, several hundred feet high. Trap and sandstone alternate, but the sandstone generally bears a small proportion to the amount of trap, the layers of sand being in general very thin. But these sand-hills are undoubtedly the remains of a very important sandbed which has overlain the trap, till the whole mass forming the Heidi was forced up, when denudation took place, and the sand was carried away, exposing the trap, except in a few spots, where it stands its
whilst the heart of Iceland is occupied by this vast elevated plain, studded at great intervals with sandhills. The dotted line shows the former position of the sand bed. This formation is to be met with in sections of the mountains as well, but dislocated, for it has been broken through by volcanic dykes, and by active volcanic vents. It is somewhat remarkable that the fossil shells met with in this sand are those of fresh-water crustacea, and marine shells are entirely absent. So that Iceland must have been upheaved from the bed of some vast fresh-water lake, and not from the sea bottom. Old mother Earth has gone through some odd changes in her time!
Iceland has been thrown up from a very considerable depth. The greatest depth of sea between Scotland and the Faroes is only 254 fathoms, and that is only in one spot: whereas 128 is the general depth, and so there is a plateau of land between the Faroes and Iceland at the depth of about 250 fathoms, when suddenly, off the coast of this island, it drops to 682: whilst between it and Greenland it descends to 1572. It would be interesting to see whether the sand-rocks in the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland, belong to the same system. It is impossible to identify basaltic rocks, as the constituents vary in different portions of what is the same bed.
The great central wilderness is, as I have already stated, almost entirely unexplored. Three tracks alone cross it throughout the length of the island, and the country right and left of these tracks is quite unknown. When I speak of a track, I do not mean a road. Roads there are none in Iceland, no, not even paths. A track-way over a waste is simply formed by piling three or four stones on the top of a rock. This is called a vardr. From this point an experienced eye can detect another vardır, perhaps on the horizon. Often I could not see them, but the Icelander has the eye of an eagle, and he detects one immediately. The horses have then to make the best of their way from one vardr to another, wriggling among stones, floundering into mud-bogs, picking their way among splinters of trap or lava, often making the most complicated windings to reach a spot on the horizon of a hill which you could strike with an Enfield. The reason of the country being so unexplored is just this: if you lose your track in these wastes, God help you! you are lost. The compass will not guide you correctly, for the needle does not always act when you are crossing igneous rock. You may wander for days before you reach grass, and if your
ponies die you will hardly be able to reach a place of safety on foot. The Icelanders had, and in parts have still, a conviction that the recesses of these wilds are inhabited by a race of men of their own stock, but slightly differing from them in their language and in their dress. They call these people Utlegumennir, and there are some curious stories told about them. They are supposed to be the descendants of outlaws and robbers, who in old times haunted these deserts, and who having discovered fertile valleys in the heart of the wilderness, are content to reside there, and inherit a feeling of enmity against the coast-dwellers, who expelled their ancestors from the community of their fellow-men. These people are said to be sadly deficient in iron, and to shoe their horses with horn. They are thought to have made their appearance occasionally when merchant ships have entered the fjords to trade with the natives. Of course the existence of this race is a possibility, but I cannot say anything for its probability. When we consider that the population of Iceland is only
"As the twig is bent the tree's inclined, Is an adage often recall'd to mind, Referring to juvenile bias."
The law is an inflexible one. A long and sad experience of failure in our philanthropy has taught us to see how seldom its action can be escaped, for it is a fact now universally recognised in England, that no plan for the elevation of the degraded sections of society is likely to succeed which does not begin with an effort to guard the opening years of human life against the inroads of evil. Looking for a moment away from any particular theological theory as to the causes of failure or the probabilities of success, and having regard only to the bare facts of experience, we have found that it is. in comparatively few cases only that you can reclaim one who has grown old in familiarity with evil. We have found that, admitting it to be possible, at day rate it is not easy to approach the drinker sudden with the liquor of a lifetime, and induce him to adopt habits of sobriety and abstinence. We have found that it is not easy to summon up the blush of modesty to the cheek that has become wrinkled in shamelessness and vice. We are not yet adepts in the alchemy by which a man, who from infancy to maturity has known no law but his own passions, can be at once transmuted into a model of virtue and self-control.
6800, and that it is a third larger than Ireland, and that this population is confined to the coast and to the banks of the rivers just above their entrance into the friths, it leaves ample room for a colony in the heart of the country to live undisturbed.
About two o'clock at night-if I may call that night when it is as light as now when I am writing, the sun just beginning to struggle up the sky again, and Eirek's Jökull still bathed in his beams—we turned into our tents for the night, putting four guides into a little horseman's tent, 5 feet 6 inches, by 3 feet 6 inches, which was close enough packing to keep them warm.
THE CARE OF THE LITTLE ONES.
WITH One of those touches of thoughtfulness that sometimes interrupt the rattle of his humour, Hood, the poet, has put a good old English proverb and its meaning into lines that we can easily remember:
been mocked by the feigned penitence of the hardened gaol-bird, till we have made it almost a proverb in disgust. Punishment has failed, and tenderness has failed also. It is early contact with evil that seems almost to have pledged him to continue in service with a bond whose relentlessness might have made him hesitate if he could have anticipated it. In spite of all openings to a better life which may be presented to him, there seems to be for him a fascination about evil which the virtuous find it difficult either to account for or to dispel. Divert him from it for a time indeed you may, by an amount of individual attention and supervision too exacting to be permanent. But once relax the pressure of these upon him, and the old tendencies immediately assert themselves in his relapse to a state of abandonment and crime which proves still more obstinate than the first.
Storm and rain came on, and we had a miserable night, the water pouring over the floor of our tents, and soaking all our bedding. We were somewhat aching and rheumatic when we crawled forth next morning to a breakfast on cold boiled plover and char. But travelling is a succession of pleasures and pain, of comfort and discomfort, of enjoyment and annoyance, and we must take all as it comes.
Stung by such experiences of the tenacity of habit, the public mind has gradually awakened to the necessity of giving a different turn to the efforts of its philanthropy. Prevention has been found to be not only better, but more possible, than cure. We have been led to suspect that it would better answer our purpose, both morally and financially, to spend more money and more care upon schools and reformatories and refuges for the young, than to go on idly perpetuating the old system of multiplying prisons, and hulks, and penal settlements in ever-increasing yet unsatisfied abundance. And the success which has hitherto followed our attempts, encourages us to do more in the same direction. The new theory of dealing with the evil dispositions of