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so rushes on in a career which makes him an outlaw with a price upon his head, the object of innumerable plots, at last the victim of witchcraft along with his youngest brother. After this cowardly murder, public opinion turns against his murderer, who is driven into exile, enlists as a soldier in Norway, and thus expects to escape the vengeance of Grettir's elder brother. But the short sword of his victim betrays; he is slain at once; a married lady of wealth and rank buys out the slayer from his dungeon and his doom; she falls in love with him, and they are married. Finally, they expiate their self-indulgence by monastic life at Rome, where their days end in blameless devotion. This ancient specimen of Icelandic art is surpassingly simple, sometimes beautiful, touching, and eloquent: it is filled with historical detail, and through its rare completeness will be the most treasured of these ancient poems. The moral, though never obtruded, is distinctly enough seen. Like every hero of the Samson sort, Grettir finds his marvellous strength, unattended by common sense, a curse rather than a blessing. Destiny seems to drive him on from outrage after outrage, to exile, hatred, fear, despair, an early grave. Having no self-command, he is never out of trouble. Hardly one of his victims but was happier than himself. His family and friends were injured the most by his rare physical gifts. The story seems only an exaggeration of what may often have occurred in the days of those fierce sea-kings. Their rugged isle nourished rugged natures, which, not content with battling the elements, made themselves renowned by bloody adventures on sea and land, kept up a state of chronic warfare at home, and yet live before us, after eight centuries, in grand proverbs, noble thoughts, generous purposes, and heroic achievements.
F. W. H.
THROUGH his acquaintance with the native tongue, his perseverance in exploring every part, his study of nature, and his hopefulness of spirit, Professor Paijkull's summer trip has done Iceland some justice, even in a translation.* He finds the importation of brandy on the increase, the clergy imbibing freely, seven quarts to a man being the annual consumption of the whole island. The people, as well as the clergy, and especially the physicians, need education; the want of ventilation in their low huts, the prevailing filthiness of living, and
* A Summer in Iceland. By C. W. PAIJKULL, Professor of Geology at the University of Upsala. London: Chapman, 1868.
the lack of intelligent medical treatment, causing the population to be decimated every little while by epidemics. Besides this plague of wasting disease, volcanic eruptions sweep away many a farmer with his herds, devastate the fields, and expose the survivors to fever as well as famine. Nor does this complete the chapter of woes. Denmark has systematically neglected, and a long time oppressed, its distant dependency; so that, a few years past, the natives were nearly obliged to freeze as well as starve, and population decreased rapidly. Now, however, every thing promises better, though French coasters still steal the Iceland fish, though the commerce of the world is shut against the Iceland merchant, and the ruling country continues ignorant of the island's great want. The Protestant Reformation expelled the Catholic priesthood, threw education back, and has ever been regarded as a national calamity. But the monopoly of trade, which the Dauish government sold for its own benefit, has sometimes threatened the hardy islanders with extinction, driven many to emigrate, and caused the death of not less than nine thousand persons in three years' time. The partially occupied land permits no pleasure-travel. Streams must be forded, deserts crossed, vast lava-beds stumbled over, terrible storms faced, and the meanest lodging accepted thankfully. Still it pays. So much that is curious is to be seen at the Geysers, so many grand prospects are to be enjoyed, such a strange people invite one's study, that an adventurous traveller like this scientific professor is more than repaid for his hardships and perils.
F. W. H.
IN "The Polar World," * a careful scholar already known by three publications of a similar kind, has furnished a full history of all that has been done, discovered, and experienced, in the Arctic or Antarctic seas. He has given, in fact, an encyclopædia of the geography, natural and political history, native tribes, commercial enterprises of the Polar regions. But his purpose of crowding into small space a vast fund of valuable information has not made the narrative tedious, or deprived the reader of many a thrilling adventure. The terrible experiences of Castren and Middendorff, of Wrangel and Steller, of Hudson and Franklin, mingle with the cheering successes of Parry and Kane, to make a narrative abundantly varied and altogether satis
*The Polar World. By Dr. G. HARTWIG. London: Longmans, 1869. 8vo, pp. 548.
fying; while fuller accounts of the native inhabitants are given than any one book has yet attempted; and those accounts commend themselves as truthful, avoiding poetical eulogy, and yet showing the favorable side of aboriginal character.
It shows the power of our nature to transform the dullest scene, that the miserable Fuegians- to whom a nail is a great gift, whose hunger sometimes drives them to consume their aged women, who occupy the very lowest grade in humanity — are yet attached to their wretched desert, contented with this poor semblance of living, and strangely fond of keeping up this wretched struggle for existence. Those whom Captain Fitzroy carried to England, and educated, fell back at once into savage life, retaining only the language they had acquired; while the attempt of Captain Gardiner to establish a mission among people who have hardly a trace of any religion, resulted in the missionaries' death by famine. Fortunately, these most southern Americans are exceedingly few; only the coasts of their island being inhabitable, and that not long in the same spot, because the limpets, or sea-eggs, which make their food, are soon exhausted, and they must move in their canoes to some other pasturage. It requires so little invention to knock a limpet from the rock or gather an edible fungus, or tear up a putrid whale, that their faculties are not developed at all. No arts are practised among them, no progress possible, except by removal to a more favored region; and yet every visitor finds them not only contented but happy in this forlorn condition.
F. W. H.
ALGERIA presents poor material for bookmaking. The general desolation of the country, the filthiness of the inhabitants, the unchangeableness of Arabic customs, have been exhausted by more picturesque writers than Dr. Naphegyi;* still, a very lively book and one certain to be popular has been made of some unusual perils, some romantic stories, and the slightest possible mixture of instructive incident. The practice of his profession probably raised him at times out of utter destitution, made him valuable friends, and sent him onward in his vague pilgrimage. At least, this is the only mystery about these adventures.
The gathering of coral in the Mediterranean is the only point that smacks of novelty, and this proves neither peculiarly interesting nor
* Among the Arabs, by G. Naphegyi, M.D. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1868. 12mo.
profitable. After narrating this, and some Bluebeard stories from Moorish annals, the ingenious doctor darts off suddenly into the midst of Polish or Mexican life, and vaults back again without ceremony into the heart of the desert, leaving upon the bewildered reader the same confused vision which the kaleidoscope gave to our childhood, but investing himself everywhere with peculiar skill in captivating the affections of Arab and European, male and female alike.
F. W. H.
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