ICELAND (in Danish, Jsland) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, immediately to the south of the polar circle. It extends from 63° 23' to 66° 33' N. lat., and from 13° 22' to 24° 35' W. long. Its distance from the north of Scotland is 500 miles, from Norway 600 miles, and from Greenland 250 miles. The greatest length of the island is 300 miles, from east to west, and its greatest breadth 200 miles. The area is estimated at 39,200 square miles, 7000 more than that of Ireland.
The geological formation of the island is throughout vol-canic. It rests on a foundation of palagonite, or palagonite tufa, called in Icelandic " m6berg" ; and on this foundation are raised plateaus of basalts, and mountains of trachyte and other volcanic ejections. The whole island seems to have been filled up by volcanic agency. In some of the mountains the lavas occur in tolerably regular parallel strata or terraces, separated here and there by layers containing lignite, as in the similar volcanic plateaus of Faroe and Greenland.
Coast. The whole of the south coast, from Hornafjorour in the south-east to Reykjanes in the south-west, is entirely un-broken by bays or firths. If such ever existed, they have been filled up by the glaciers and the sand and mud carried down from the volcanic ice-mountains situated close to the south coast. The coast-line is not, however, a straight line, but a broad arch, as the land swells out in the middle south-wards to a considerable extent. On the north of Eeykjanes a broad bay called Faxafldi (Faxi's Bay) cuts into the land ; it is bounded on the north side by Snsefellsnes, and has an area of 54 miles by 30. On the north side of Snav fellsnes the long BreiSifjorSur (Broadfirth) nearly cuts off the north-west peninsula from the rest of the island; it is 80 miles long and 40 broad. The BreiSifjorSur is noted for its great number of small islands, most of them in-habited, and all of them affording breeding places for the eider duck. To the north of the Brei<5ifj6rSur, innumerable bays cut into the peninsula at every turn, giving it some-what the look of the outstretched hand of a man; the longest of these is IsafjarSardjup (Icefirthdeep), 45 miles long. On the north side of the island, between Horn (Cape North) on the west and Melrakkashitta (Fox Plain) on the east, there are several large firths. Furthest to the west is Hunafl6i (Bearcubs' Bay), about 60 miles long, which nearly meets the BreiSifjorSur running in from the west; the tongue of land which separates them and con-nects the north-west peninsula with the rest of the island is hardly 5 miles broad. The other firths on the north side are Skagafjorour, EyafjorfSur (Firth of the Isles) 36 miles long, SkjalfandafjorSur, and Axarfjor<5ur (Axefirth). The Melrakkasletta is separated from Langanes, the north-east point of Iceland, by the pistilfjorour (Thistlefirth). The whole of the east coast of the island is indented by numer-ous narrow firths like those found in the north-west peninsula, but none of them are of any great length. Sailing round the island from point to point, the distance is 900 miles, but if we follow the coast-line it is not less than 2000 miles.
Interior. The centre of the island is a table-land, or rather a broad flattened ridge, sloping down to the north and the south, the average height of which above the level of the sea is about 2000 feet. It consists of arid sands and rugged tracts of lava, the most important of which bear the names of Odafiahraun (the Lava of Evil Deeds), Sprengisandur (Bursting Sand), and St6risandur (Big Sand). This wilder-ness is frequently broken by high and extensive ice-hills called jbkull (plur. joklar). The ice-hills rise to the greatest height in the south-east, where the most extensive ice-field in the island, called Vatnajokull, covers about 4000 square miles. The outliers of this ice-field come close down to the water, hardly leaving room for passage between them and the sea_; some of these are the loftiest summits in the island, as Oraefajokull, which is 6466 feet high. South of the west end of the Vatnajokull, called Skaptarjokull, stretches an inhabited slope, interrupted by several small hills, and intersected by considerable streams. The east-most part is called SiSa; then follow Landbrot, MeSal-land, and Alptaver. West of this the land rises again in the Myrdalsjokull and the Eyafjallajokull, the latter being 5593 feet high, and here again the mountains come close down to the sea. West of the Eyafjallajokull is the largest plain in the island, stretching westward to the mountain chain terminating in the low cape of Reykjanes, and backed on the north side by several isolated mountains, among which the far-famed Hecla is prominent; its height ap-proaches 5000 feet. This plain consists of stretches of grass land and marshes, affording abundance of grass for pasture and haymaking.
The southern and part of the eastern coasts of Faxafl6i, as far as Reykjavik, are very barren and desolate, being almost entirely rugged lava tracts; but the lower parts of the hills then begin to be clothed with grass, affording pasture for sheep, cattle, and horses. North of Reykjavik is a long and narrow firth called HvalfjorSur (Whalefirth), and further on a shorter one called BorgarfjorSur (Burgh-firth). Between the extremity of the latter and the central highlands there is a large and fertile district, consisting of grassy valleys, divided by low hills, and an extensive plain covered with marshy grasslands. This district is a fair specimen of many of the inhabited parts oi Iceland. The level land, the valley bottoms along the river banks, and in many cases the slopes of the hills, are covered with grass, but the soil is too frequently boggy and marshy. The hills are partly covered with heather, and in a few places with stunted dwarf birch. Districts similar in character to BorgarfjorSur are the Dalir (Dales) on the south side of BreicufjorSur, the Hiinavatnssysla on the south side of Hunafl6i, the SkagafjbrSur, the Flj6tsdalsherai5 on the east side of the island, and the western half of the plain lying between Eyafjallajokull and the Reykjanes range of mountains. The north-west peninsula consists, as already stated, of narrow firths divided by high and narrow mountain ridges, seldom lower than 2000 feet. In some places the top is a thin rocky edge; in others it consists of sharp-pointed peaks, denuded of all vegetation. Even at a consider-able distance the different rocky strata may be distinguished. Sometimes these hills, or rather cliffs, rise perpendicularly out of the water to a height of a couple of thousand feet, affording breeding-places to an immense number of sea-fowl. More frequently the lower parts of these razor-backed hills slope towards the firths, the stony slopes being partly covered with grass or heather. The farms are therefore found along the shores and in short valleys cutting into the hills from the ends of the firths. The east coasts of Iceland present exactly the same character as that of the north-west peninsula. From the end of Eyafjorfiur a long and fertile valley, bounded on both sides by lofty moun-tains, runs due south into the country for about 25 miles. The north-east corner of the island, called pingeyarsysla, has good sheep pasturage, although its hills and slopes are covered with heather instead of grass to a greater extent than most other districts of the island. It will thus be seen that the inhabited parts run round the coasts, and from
the end of the bays into the interior, the farms farthest inland being about 50 miles from the sea. Moun. As the snow-line is at an altitude of from 2500 to 3000 tarns. jestj aji tjle higher mountain-tops are cones covered with perpetual snow. Besides the ice-mountains already men-tioned, there are several on the western part of the central highlands, such as Hofsjokull, Langjokull, Eiriksjokull, &c.; Suaefellsjokull, at the point of the peninsula separating the Faxafl6i and BrehSifjorSur, reaches the height of 4713 feet. All these mountains are snow-capped. Most parts of the island are studded with hills ranging in height from 2000 to 3000 feet. The tops are usually bare and rocky, but the slopes are to some extent covered with grass and heather.
Most of the mountains of Iceland have been volcanoes, and at least twenty-five of them have been active within the historical period of the island, that is, the last 1000 years. It was observed by Mackenzie that there are two volcanic formations in the island, one consisting of flat sheets of basalt, the other of more irregular hilly accumulations of trachyte, obsidian, ashes, and other volcanic masses. The former of these, there can be little doubt, is of Tertiary agea part of the great Miocene volcanic plateaus, which on the one hand extend southwards through the Faroe Islands and the west of Scotland to the north of Ireland, and on the other stretch northwards and westwards far into Greenland. The other volcanic masses are of recent date. Iceland has thus been the theatre of volcanic activity at two widely separated periods, though we do not yet know whether during the interval the activity was wholly dormant. Of the existing volcanic mountains the best known is Hecla, from which eighteen eruptions have been recorded; the last took place in 1845-46. The intervals between the eruptions have varied greatly ; some-times it has remained quiet for six years only, at other times for seventy-two years. As with most other volcanoes, the height of this mountain varies with the eruptions. Thus before the eruption of 1845 its height was given on Gunlaugsson's map as 4951 feet, while Kjerulf measured the mountain in 1850, and found it to be only 4532 feet. The earliest historical eruption, that of 1104, is celebrated as the "sand-rain winter," the second, in 1158, as the "great darkness," from the quantity of ashes ejected. One feature of the Icelandic eruptions, not from Hecla only, but from other orifices in the island, has been the prodigious quan-tity of fine dust discharged and the great distance to which this material has been carried. Thus in the year 1766 a column of ashes rose out of the crater of Hecla to a height of 16,000 feet into the air. Volcanic dust from the Icelandic vents has frequently been borne by upper air currents so as to fall upon the Faroe Islands, and has even been carried in considerable quantities as far as Norway on the one side and the north of Scotland on the other. Next to Hecla, the Katla, or Kotlugja, in Myrdalsjokull may be mentioned; its last eruption (the thirteenth known) took place in 1860. The most tremendous volcanic outbreak in Iceland was that which took place in 1783 in or near the Skaptarjokull, on the north-west border of the Vatna-jokull. Two principal lava streams flowed from it: one of them was 50 miles in length, from 12 to 15 miles in breadth, and 100 feet deep, and the other was 40 miles in length. It has been calculated that these two streams cover an area of 420 square miles. This eruption de-stroyed directly or indirectly one-sixth of the inhabitants of the whole island, or one-half of all the live stock. From nearly all the outliers of the Vatnajokull eruptions now and then take place. To the north of Vatnajokull a range of volcanic centres extends as far as Myvatn. The last out-break here took place in 1875, when fine volcanic dust was discharged in great quantity, some of it being carried as far as Norway. The sea around the coasts of Iceland has
been frequently disturbed by volcanic outbreaks, especially off Cape Reykjanes.
On account of the same volcanic activity, hot springs are Hot frequently met with throughout the island. The common springs, name for them in Icelandic is " hverr " (cauldron). The chief of these hot springs is Geysir (Gusher). See GEYSEKS.
The only mineral worked to any extent in Iceland is Minerals, sulphur; the principal mines are those of Krisuvik and Myvatn. Of the Iceland spar used for polarizing optical instruments, only one mine has been worked, that of HelgustaSir in the east of the island. Limestone is found near Reykjavik, and has been worked a few years. Iron-ore is found in many parts of the island, but not in paying quantities, as suitable fuel is wanting. Aluminium occurs near Cape Reykjanes, but no attempt has been made to work the mine. Coal has also been found in one place, but has not been worked. There are considerable quan-tities of lignite, called in Icelandic surtarbrandur, in the north-west peninsula; some successful attempts have been made to use it as fuel, but it has not been worked to any extent. Peat is found, and is used as fuel, in most parts of the island.
Iceland is rich in streams and rivers, some of them Rivers, carrying a large volume of water; as, however, the fall is steep in every case, they are not navigable even by small boats. The longest are pj6rsa, running southwards from the central highlands, and Skjalfandafij6t and Jokulsa a FjSUum in the north-east, running northward. The last-named river is 113 miles in length, the other two 108 miles each. Of other rivers may be mentioned the Hvffca, part of which is called Olfusa, running nearly parallel with pjorsa, Hvit4 in BorgarfjorSur, Blanda running into Hiina-f!6i, Heratisvotn in SkagafjorSur, and Lagarfljdt in the east. There are several rivers named Hvita (white river), so called from their milky waters, caused by the glacial mixtures carried down from the highlands. The principal waterfalls areSk6gafoss and Seljalandsfoss, south of Eyafjallajokull, Godafoss in Skjalfandafljdt, and Dettifoss in Jokulsd a Fjollum. Of the lakes pingvallavatn, about 25 miles north-east of Reykjavik, and Myvatn in the north-east of Iceland are the largest. The former is 25 miles in circumference, and the latter 36 miles ; its waters are studded with thirty-four small islands, affording breed-ing-places to a large number of water-fowl.
The climate of Iceland is not nearly so severe as might Climate, be supposed from the latitude. At Reykjavik the mean temperature of the year is 39° Fahr., of the summer 53° and of the winter 29 18'. The temperature of Akureyri is 32° for the year, that of the summer 45° 5' and the winter 20° 7'. There is therefore great difference between the north and the south of the island. Another difference may also be noticed; while the climate of the south is wet and variable, that of the north is dry and regular. The mean temperature of different years sometimes varies as much as 10°, and the mean temperature of the same month has been known to vary as much as 27°. One feature in the climate has been noticed by all travellers, that is, the clearness and purity of the atmosphere, rivalling that of Italy, mountains being seen distinctly at a distance of 100 miles. The rainfall is considerable in the south and the east of the island, and snow-storms and gales are frequent in winter. Thunderstorms occur mostly in winter.
No cereal is grown in Iceland, but in some places there Vegeta-is found a kind of wild oats (Avena arenaria), called intlon-Icelandic " melur." Potatoes, carrots, turnips, and several kinds of cabbage have lately been cultivated with consider-able success. The grasses, wild and cultivated, are of the greatest importance to the inhabitants. The only trees | found are the dwarf birch, rarely higher than 12 feet, and
some willow and juniper bushes. The wild flora of Ice-
land is small and delicate, with bright bloom, the heaths
being especially admired. Wild crowberries and bilberries
are the only kind of fruit found in the island.
Animals. The only wild animal in Iceland is the fox, of which
both white and blue varieties occur; they are hunted for
their skins, and also because they often attack the sheep.
The domestic animals are the cow, the horse, the sheep,
the dog, and the cat. The cows are of a small breed,
resembling English shorthorns in general, and especially
Alderneys. The horses are also of a small breed, the average
height being twelve hands ; they are hardy and enduring;
many of them are never housed, and forage for themselves as
best as they can throughout the winter. They are exported
to Great Britain in considerable numbers, for use in the coal
mines. The sheep generally are of nearly the same size as
the Scotch blackfaced sheep; they are not unfrequently
sev,n with three or four horns. The genuine Iceland dog,
with his pointed snout, short ears, curled tail, and short legs,
has some resemblance to the Esquimaux dog and the Scotch
collie. Reindeer were imported in the last century, but
they fled to the mountains and became wild; they are now
nearly extinct. There are said to be ninety different species
of birds, fifty-four of them being water-fowl. The most
remarkable of the birds of prey are the Icelandic falcon
(Falco islandicus) and the eagle. The only game bird
is the ptarmigan, which is brown in summer and white in
winter. Of the water-fowl the eider duck is of the greatest
importance on account of its valuable down ; the killing of
it is therefore forbidden by law. Immense numbers of
gulls, puffins, and guillemots are seen near their breeding
places on the small islands and on the cliff's round the
coasts. The hooper, or whistling swan, is found in large
numbers in Iceland. The sea round the coast teems with
cod, haddock, holibut, and the basking shark; the fin-
backed-whale and seals of various kinds are also met with,
but in smaller numbers. In the lakes and rivers salmon
and trout are caught in considerable quantities.
Tillage. As no corn is grown, there is no agriculture to speak of,
and only a little spade husbandry connected with the
cultivation of kitchen gardens, where potatoes, turnips, and
carrots are grown. The area thus under cultivation covers,
according to the latest official returns, about 215 English
acres throughout the island. The cultivation of the soil
in Iceland can hardly indeed be said to have been at-
tempted; such experiments, however, as have been made,
have given good hope of success. Around every farmhouse
is a field called " tun," which is but rarely enclosed or fenced.
This is the only part of the land which is cultivated at all,
and all that is done there is to spread dung on the top of
the soil in autumn and scrape it off in spring. Even this
most primitive cultivation makes the grass twenty-five to
fifty per cent, better than elsewhere. The haymaking
season extends from the middle of July to the 20th of
September. The grass is cut with small scythes, first in
the home field, and then on the uncultivated grass-lands
belonging to the farms. Many of the fishermen hire
themselves to the farmers during the haymaking season;
and during the fishing season the farmers send their servants
to the sea-coast to fish.
T IVE According to the latest official returns the cattle in the
stock. island numbered 20,378, the horses (ponies) 31,312, and
the sheep 415,339. It is obvious, however, from the
quantities of wool exported that the number of sheep must
be at least double that stated in the returns.
Manu manufactures are confined to spinning, weaving, and
kctures. knitting the wool of the sheep. A sort of tweed, called in Icelandic " vaSmal," is the principal clothing of the inha-bitants. The spinning of the yarn is done by the women in winter, and almost every farm has an old-fashioned loom.
In the north considerable quantities of jackets and stockings are knitted and exported.
The trade with Iceland is entirely in the hands of Danish Trade, traders and a few Icelanderswho mostly reside in Copen-hagen. It consists almost entirely in exchange, or barter. The principal exports of the Icelanders are cod fish, about 6,000,000 fi> annually; train oil, 9500 barrels; wool. 1,500,000 ih; eider down, 7000 lb; and feathers, 20,000 lb. Ponies are now exported to Scotland,'about 2000 a year; and a few cargoes of live sheep have been sent over during the last two years. All bread stuffs have to be imported, as well as groceries, spirits, wines, and beer, tobacco, salt, building materials, and other items. Since 1854 the trade has been open to all nations; but any vessel trading with Iceland had to take out a sea pass at the cost of 2s. 3d. per ton down to 1879, when this duty was abolished. On the other hand, a trifling duty has been laid on spirits and tobacco.
There being no roads in the island, but merely tracks Commu-trodden down by the feet of the ponies, there are no carts mcatioK nor carriages of any description. In the firths boats are chiefly used for conveying goods and passengers; but all inland communication and conveyance is by ponies. These hardy animals carry each a burden of about 200 lb weight, under which they walk about 25 miles a day. All travel-ling is also on ponies; two are considered necessary for every traveller, and on them he can make from 30 to 40 miles a day.
Formerly Iceland was divided into four quarters, the Divi-east, the south, the west, and north. Now the north and sions. the east are united under one governor, and the south and the west under another. The island is further divided into 18 syslur (counties), and these again into 169 hreppur (rapes) or poor law districts. Ecclesiastically Iceland con-stitutes one bishopric, divided into 20 deaneries, and these again into 290 parishes.
Iceland is subject to the king of Denmark. According (jovern-to the constitution granted to Iceland in 1874, the king ment. shares the legislative power with the Al-thing, an assembly of 36 members, 30 of whom are elected by household suffrage, and 6 nominated by the king. The Al-thing meets every second year, and sits in two divisions, the upper and the lower. The upper division consists of the 6 members nominated by the king and 6 elected by the representatives of the people out of their own body. The lower division consists of the remaining 24 representative members.
The secretary for Iceland, who resides in Copenhagen, is responsible to the king and the Al-thing for the maintenance of the constitution, and he submits to the king for confirma-tion the legislative measures proposed by the Al-thing. The king appoints a governor-general, who is resident in the island and carries on the government on the responsibility of the secretary in Copenhagen. Under the governor-general (landshofSingi) are two under governors, one for the south and west, another for the north and east. Under these are the sheriffs (syslumenn), who act as tax gatherers, notaries public, and judges of first instance; the sheriff has in every "'hreppur" an assistant, called "hreppstj6ri." In every hreppur there is also a representative committee, consisting of from three to five members, who administer the poor laws, and look after the general concerns of the hreppur. These committees are controlled by the committees of the sj'slur (county boards), and these again are under the control of the amtsraS (quarter board), consisting of three members.
The administration of justice is carried out in the first Justice, instance by the sheriffs. From the sheriff courts appeals lie to the superior court at Reykjavik, consisting of three judges. Appeals may be taken in all criminal cases and most civil cases from this court to the supreme court at Copenhagen.
The state church of Iceland is the Lutheran; and all the Icelanders, without exception, belong to it. One bishop and 141 clergymen minister to the spiritual wants of the islanders. The bishop is appointed by the king. The parishes are 290, but the livings are only 141, from which it may be seen that many ministers have to serve two, and some even three parishes. The king appoints some of the ministers, and the governor-general others, with the advice of the bishop. The ministers are paid partly from the revenues of church property, and partly from tithes. Educa- The Icelanders have long been famous for their education tion. and learning, and it is no exaggeration to say that in no other country is such an amount of information found among the classes which occupy a similar position. A child of ten unable to read is not to be found from one end of the island to another. A peasant understanding several languages is no rarity, and the amount of general information which they possess might be envied by many who have had greater facilities for acquiring knowledge. Till within the last few years there were no elementary schools in the island; all children were taught by their parents or near neighbours. Now a few elementary schools have been started, but their number is still too small to make any general difference in the education. For classical and general education there is a college at Reykjavik, with seven professors and about one hundred students. There is also a college'for ministers, with three professors. The general physician of the island, assisted by two medical men, gives lectures to medical students; but those who propose to enter the legal profession have to attend the university of Copenhagen. National There is less difference in the material prosperity of the charac- Icelanders than in that of the inhabitants of more advanced teristics. countries. One does not find the abject poverty so often seen in large towns and among the agricultural population of some of the most civilized countries of Europe. On the other hand, wealthy men, or owners of extensive properties, are unknown, the richest man in Iceland deriving only £300 a year from his property. Although no abject poverty is seen, there are more paupers comparatively than in more populous countries, and the poor-rates in many parishes exceed all the other taxes put together. The Icelanders are often too liberal in granting relief, which in many cases breeds idleness, carelessness, and want of forethought. It is also to be noticed that in few countries is it so easy to live with as little labour as in Iceland. On account of the climate, out-of-door work cannot be conducted for more than five months of the year at most, but even this time is not used with so much energy and skill as it might be. The haymaking, carried on for two months in the year, is the only work which is prosecuted with anything like energy. Fishing is prosecuted not continuously but periodically. The want of activity among the Icelanders is to be ascribed partly to their slow tem-perament, and partly to their utter want of training. They are very fond of gathering any amount of miscellaneous information, but their want of training prevents them from turning it to practical account. There is no doubt that they are endowed with intellectual faculties of a superior kind, and, with proper training, might make far more of their country than they do at present. It appears that the island could easily support eight times the number of the present population, if its resources were properly developed. Crime is rare ; and the moral character of the Icelanders is about the same as that of the other countries of the north.
The census of 1870 returned the population of the island
as 69,763. In 1801 the population was only 46,240; in
1880 it is estimated to have increased to 73,000. The
birth-rate is about 33 per thousand, and the death-rate 24.
Nearly the whole of the population live on isolated farms,
the number of each family, including servants, being on an
average seven. The chief town or village is Reykjavik,
with about 2500 inhabitants. It is the seat of the
governor-general, the bishop, the colleges, and the superior
court. In the north-west is isafjoreair, with about 400
inhabitants, and in the north Akureyri, with the same
number. (j. A. H.)
== ADD HERE: Table of Icelandic Literature and History. ==
"With its isolated situation, inclement climate, scant natural advantages, and sparse population, Iceland is yet of high interest to the historian, philologist, and litterateur. To the first the excellence and exactitude of its historical records, the curious phases of life to which they bear witness, and the singular circumstances which have determined the existence and life of the Teutonic community for a thousand years apart from the rest of the European family, are all attractive. By the philologist the island is reverenced as the home of a tongue which (though like our own it has suffered deep phonetic change) yet most nearly represents in a living form the tongue of our earliest Teutonic forefathers. And by many more than these I students Iceland is fondly regarded as the land where, long before
the "literary eras" of England or Germany, a brilliant period of intellectual life produced and elaborated in its own distinct form of expression a literature superior to any north of the Alps before the Renaissance since the downfall of Old Rome in power, purity, and life.
To begin with history, in which we are chiefly concerned with the first and fourth periods of the island's inhabited existence, and first the "settlement." Shortly after the discovery of Iceland by the Scandinavian, c. 850 (it had long been inhabited by a small colony of Irish Culdees), a stream of immigration set in towards it, which lasted for sixty years, and resulted in the establishment of some 4000 homesteads scattered round the habitable fringe about the great bays and firths.
In this immigration three distinct streams can be traced. (1) About 870-890 four great noblemen from Norway, Ingolf, Ketil Hseng, Skalla-Grim, and Thorolf, settled with their dependants in the south-west of the new found land. (2) In 890-900 there came from the Western Islands Queen Aud, widow of Olaf the White, king of Dublin, preceded and followed by a number of her kinsmen and relations (many like herself being Christians), Helgi Biolan, Biorn the Eastern, Helgi the Lean, Ketil the Foolish, &c., who settled the best land in the island (west, north-west, and north), and founded fami-lies who long swayed its destinies. Besides this most important immigration of all there came from the Western Islands a fellowship of vikings seeking a free home in the north. They had colonized the west in the viking times; they had "fought at Hafursfirth," helping their stay-at-home kinsmen against the centralization of the great head-king, who, when he had crushed opposition in Norway, sailed after these turbulent colonists across the North Sea, and followed up his victory by compelling them to bow to his rule or fly again to fresh haunts whence they could not so easily interfere with his projects. Such were Ingimund the Old, Geirmund Hellskin, Thord Beardie (who had wed St Edmund's grand-daughter), Audun Shackle, Bryniulfthe Old, TJni, to whom Harold promised the earl-dom of the new land if he could make the settlers acknowledge him as king, a hopeless project, and others by whom the north-west, north, and east were almost completely "claimed." (3) In 900-930 a few more incomers direct from Norway completed the settlement of the south, north-east, and south-east. Among them were Earl Hrollaug (half brother of Hrolf Ganger and of the first earl of Orkney), Hialti, Hrafnkell Frey's priest, and the sons of Asbiorn. Fully three quarters of the land was settled from the west, and among these immigrants there was no small proportion of Irish blood. In 1100 there were 4500 franklins, i.e., about 50,000 souls. Organi- The unit of Icelandic politics is the homestead with its frankliu-zation. owner (buendi), its primal organization the hundred-moot (thing), its tie the goSorS or chieftainship. The chief who had led a band of kinsmen and dependants to the newland, taken a " claim" there, and parcelled it out freely among them, naturally became their leader, presiding as priest at the temple feasts and sacrifices of heathen times, acting as president and speaker of their moot, and as their respon-sible representative towards the neighbouring chiefs and their clients. He was not a feudal lord nor a local sheriff, for any franklin could change his goSor'5 when he would, and the rights of '' judgment by peers " were in full use ; moreover, the office could be bequeathed, sold, divided, or pledged by the possessor ; still the go"5i had con-siderable power and influence as long as the commonwealth lasted.
At first there was no higher organization, but disputes between neighbouring chiefs and their clients, and uncertainty as to the law, brought about the Constitution of Ulftiot, c. 930, which appointed a central moot for the whole island, the Al-thing, and a speaker to speak a single " law " (principally that followed by the Gula-moot in Norway); the Reforms of Thord Gellir, 964, settling a fixed num-ber of local moots and chieftaincies, dividing the island into four quarters (thus characterized by Ari:north, thickest settled, most famous ; east, first completely settled ; south, best land and greatest chiefs ; west, remarkable for noble families), to each of which a head-court, the " quarter-court," was assigned; and. the Innovations ofSkapti (ascribed in the saga to Nial) the Law-Speaker (d. 1030), who set up a " fifth court" as the ultimate tribunal in criminal matters, and strengthened the community against the chiefs. But here constitu-tional growth ceased: the law-making body made few and unimport-ant modifications of custom ; the courts were still too weak for the chiefs who misused and defied them; the speaker's power was not sufficiently supported to enable him to be any more than a highly respected lord chief justice, whereas he ought to have become a justiza if anarchy was to be avoided ; even the ecclesiastical innovations, while they secured peace for a time, provoked in the end the struggles which put an end to the commonwealth.
Christianity was introduced c. 1000. Tithes were established in 1096, and an ecclesiastical code made c. 1125.
The first disputes about the jurisdiction of the clergy were moved by Gudmund in the 13th century, bringing on a civil war, while the questions of patronage and rights over glebe and mortmainland occu-pied Bishop Arni and his adversaries fifty years afterwards, when the land was under Norwegian viceroys and Norwegian law. For . the civil wars of the 13th century broke down and exterminated the great houses who had monopolized the chieftaincies and abused their power for their own ends ; and after violent struggles (in which the Sturlungs of the first generation perished at Orlygstad, 1238, and Reykiaholt, 1241, while of the second generation Thord Kakali was called away by the king in 1250, and Thorgils Skardi slain in 1258) the submission of the island, quarter after quarter, took place in 1262-64, under Gizur's auspices, and the old Common Law was replaced by the New Norse Code " Ironside" in 1271.
The political life and law of the old days is abundantly illustrated in the sagas (especially Eyrbyggia, Hamsa-Thori, Reyk-dana, Hrafnkell, and Niala), the two collections of law-scrolls (Codex Regius, e. 1235, and StadarhoT s Book, e. 1271), the Libellus, the Liber-fragments, and the Landnamabok of Ari, and the Diplomatarium. K. Maurer has made the subject his own in his Beitrage, Island, Grdgds, &c.
The mediaeval Icelandic church had two bishoprics, Skalholl (S.,W., and E.) 1056, and Holar (N.) 1106, and about 175 parishes (two-thirds of which belonged to the southern bishopric). They belonged to the metropolitan see of Bremen, then to Lund, lastly to Nidaros, 1237. There were several religious foundations: Thingore (founded 1133), Thwera (1155), Hitardale (c. 1166), Kirkby Nunnery (1184), Stad Nunnery (1296), and Saurby (e. 1200) were Bene-dictine, while Ver (1168), Flatey after Holyfell (1172), Videy (1226), Madderfield Priory (1296), and Skrid Priory (14th century) were Augustinian. The bishops, elected by the people at the Al-thing till 1237, enjoyed considerable power and influence, and were most of them distinguished men ; two, Thorlak of Skalholt and John of Holar, were publicly voted saints at the Al-thing after due ex-amination of their claims to that distinction, and one, Gudmund, received the title of "Good" by decree of the bishop and chapter. Full details as to ecclesiastical history will be found in the Bishops' Lives (edited by Dr Vigfusson).
Iceland was not agricultural but pastoral, depending upon flocks Mode of and herds for subsistence, for, though rye and other grain would life, grow in favoured localities, the hay, self-sown, was the only regular crop. In some districts the fisheries and fowling were of importance, but nine-tenths of the population lived by their sheep and cattle, which gave them food, clothing, and such products for export as enabled them to import wood for building, iron for tools, and a few luxuries, as honey, wine, grain for brewing, and foreign clothes, fur, &c. Life on each homestead was regularly portioned out:out-door occupationsfishing, shepherding, fowling, and the important hay-making and fuel-gatheringoccupying the summer ; while in-door businessweaving, tool-making, &c., filled up the long winter. The year was broken by the spring feasts and moots, the great Al-thing meeting at midsummer, the marriage and arval gatherings after the summer, and the long yule feasts at midwinter. There were but two degrees of men, free and unfree, though only the franklins had any political power; and, from the very nature of the life, social intercourse was peculiarly unrestrained and unfettered ; go'Si and thrall lived the same lives, ate the same food, spoke the same tongue, and differed little in clothing or habits. The poorest franklin was the social equal of the proudest chief, and in a few generations the freed man or landless dependant might be-come their peer in public estimation, provided he got a homestead of his own. The thrall had a house of his own and was rather villein or serf than slave, having rights and a legal price by law. During the heathen days many of the great chiefs passed part of their lives in Norway at the king's court, but after the establish-ment of Christianity in Iceland they kept more at home, still visiting the Continent, however, for purposes of state, suits with clergy, &c. But the trade was from the first in foreign (Norse) hands almost entirely.
The introduction of a church system brought little change. The great families put their members into orders, and so continued to enjoy the profits of the land which they had given to the church ; the priests married and otherwise behaved like the franklins around them in every-day matters, farming, trading, going to law like laymen ; so that, in spite of the efforts of the more earnest church reformers, the church was powerless to promote centralization against the feuds and jealousies of the great houses.
The old life in the commonwealth was turbulent and anarchic, Effects but free and varied ; it produced men of mark, and fostered bravery, of the adventure, and progress. The great chiefs were indeed only greater union franklins ; but their wealth and comparative luxury gave them and leisure and opportunities for culture which raised them as examples change and leaders above their fellows ; the pride of birth preserved a of law. nobility of feeling and high standard of honour amid much of violence and chicane. But all this now ceased, and there was left but a low dead level of poor peasant proprietors without pride in the past, political interest in the present, or ambition of the future, careless of all save how to live by as little labour as possible, and pay as few taxes as they could to their foreign rulers. The island received a foreign governor (Earl, Hirdstjori, or Stiptamtsmadr as he has been successively called), and was parcelled out into local counties (syslur), administered by sheriffs (syslumadr) appointed by the king. A royal court took the place of the Al-thing courts;
the local business of the local things was carried out by the (hreppstjori) bailiff, a subordinate of the sheriff; and the go'Sor'S, things, quarter-courts, trial by jury, &c., were all completely swept away by these innovations, which have continued with mere changes of detail till the present century. The power of the crown was increased by the confiscation of the great Sturlung estates, which were under-leased to farmers, while the early falling off of the Norse trade threatened to deprive the island of the means of existence ; for the great epidemics and eruptions of the 14th century had gravely attacked its pastoral wealth and ruined much of its pasture and fishery, for the time at least. The union of the Three Crowns transferred, the practical rule of Iceland to Denmark in 1280, and the old Treaty of Union, by which the island had reserved its essen-tial rights, was disregarded by the absolute Danish monarchs ; but, though new taxation was imposed, it was rather their careless neglect than their too active interference that damaged Iceland's interests. But for an English trade, which sprung up out of the half-smuggling, half-buccaneering enterprise of the Bristol mer-chants, the island would have fared badly indeed, for during the whole 15th century their trade with England, exporting sulphur, eider down (which the English taught them the value of), wool, and salt stock-fish, and importing as before wood, iron, honey, wine, grain, and flax goods, was their only link with the outer world. This period of Iceland's existence is torpid and eventless : she had got peace but with few of its blessings; all spirit seemed to have died with the commonwealth ; even shepherding and such agriculture as there had been sank to a lower stage ; waggons, ploughs, and carts went out of use and knowledge; architecture in timber became a lost art, and the fine carved and painted halls of the heathen days were replaced by turf-walled barns half sunk in the earth, and lasting at best a generation ; the large decked luggers of the old days gave way to small undecked fishing-boats ; it is needless to add that letters were neglected, and that all remembrance of the commonwealth perished utterly.
The Re- The Reformation here as elsewhere had a one-sided effect: it forma- wakened men's minds, opening new vistas of hope and new fields of tion. thought, but it left their bodies and circumstances little changed, or, if at all, for the worse. Its necessary complement, a social and political revolution, never came to Iceland. The Hanse trade replaced the English for the worse; and the wretched Danish monopoly which succeeded it when the Danish kings began to act again with vigour, under the stimulus of European changes, was still less profitable. The glebes and hospital lands were a fresh power in the hands of the crown, and the subservient Lutheran clergy became the most powerful class in the island, while the bad system of under-leasing at rackrent and short lease with unsecured tenant right extended in this way over a great part, at least a quarter, of the better land, stopping any possible progress. The details of the religious change are uninteresting : nearly all who took active part in it on either side were men of low type, moved by personal motives rather than religious zeal; and, though it should be noticed that the fires of martyrdom were never lighted in Iceland, the story of the easily accepted Reformation is not altogether a pleasant one. "When it was once accomplished, the little knot of able men who came to the front for two or three generations, stirred by the new life that had been breathed into the age, did nobly in preserving the records of the past for a later time to value and appreciate, while Odd and Hallgrim exhibit the noblest impulses of their time. Decad- A new plague, that of the English, Gascon, and Algerine pirates, «nce. marked the close of the 16th century and opening of the 17th, causing widespread panic and some devastation in 1579, 1613-16, and 1627. Nothing points more to the helplessness of the natives' condition than their powerlessness against these tiresome foes. But the 18th century is the most gloomy in Iceland's annals. Small-pox, famine, sheep disease, and the awful eruptions of 1765 and 1783 follow each other in terrible succession. Against such fearful visitations, which reduced the population by about a fourth, little could be done, and when the only man who might have roused the Icelanders from their misery, distress, and impoverishment, thenoble and patriotic Eggert Olafsson, a hero of the old type, was drowned in full career in 1768, it is hardly to be wondered at that things grew from bad to worse, and that a listlessness and torpidity crept over the national character, the effects of which it is only beginning to shake off. The few literary men, whose work was done and whose books were published abroad, were only concerned with the past, and Jon "Widalin is the one man of mark, beside Eggert Olafsson, who worked and wrote for his own generation.1 Modern Gradually the ideas which were agitating Europe crept through times. Scandinavia into Iceland, and, now that scholars and travellers of mark and influence had drawn attention to the island, its claims were more respectfully listened to. The Continental system, which, by its leading to the blockade of Denmark, threatened to starve Iceland, was neutralized by special action of the British Government. Trade and fishery grew a little brisker, and at length the turn came. The rationalistic movement, an unlovely attempt at reform,
_1 For the periods succeeding the union, Danish state papers and the History of Finn Jonsson are the best authority.
headed by Magnus Stephenson, a patriotic, narrow-minded lawyer, did little good as far as church reform went, but was accompanied by a more successful effort to educate the people by means of bringing within their reach the practical knowledge of the day. A Useful Knowledge Society, such as Brougham delighted in, was formed and did some honest work. Newspapers and periodicals were published, and the very stir which the ecclesiastical disputes encouraged did good. "When free trade came, and when the free constitution of Denmark had produced its legitimate effects, the intelligent and able endeavours of a few patriots such as Jon Sigurdsson were able to push on the next generation a step further, in spite of such physical obstacles as the sheep disease. Questions of a modern political com-plexion arose ; the cattle export controversy and the great home rule struggle began. The intelligence of a people whose love for knowledge and mental attainments have always been high seconded its leaders well, and after thirty years' agitation home rule was conceded in 1874. The absolute syslumadr and Mrdstjori became popular officials assisted by elected boards. The Al-tMng, a mere council of powerless delegates, was replaced by a representative assembly of two chambers (composed of thirty members chosen by a a popular and wide suffrage, and six crown nominees) with legislative powers, and other reforms wTere comprised in this grant. Further political changes, such as the introduction of a jury system to replace the Danish umpire-and-assessor procedure, are now being considered by the liberal party. There are many peculiar circumstances present in the condition of Iceland, the absence of towns, equality of society in a sense which exists in no other European community, difficulty of communication, and the intense conservatism and dis-like of activity or change wdiich must necessarily characterize a com-munity so long isolated and "forced into lazy habits for lack of opportunity." But that emigration should have begun, and fami-lies left the old home for Canada and the United States to seek a better climate, a richer soil, and the hopes of progress which are so distant athome, is certainly remarkable; and, if the difficulties which must surround emigrants who have never seen a road, a tree, or a plough, on their first taking up an agricultural life, are overcome, the results may be very important to the mother country.
Poetry.Iceland has always borne a high renown for song, but Poetry, has never produced a poet of the highest order, a fact for which one can only account by noticing that the qualities which in other lands were most sought for and admired in poetry were in Iceland lavished on the saga, a prose epic, and that Icelandic poetry is to be rated very high for the one quality which its authors have ever aimed at melody of sound. To these generalizations there are but few excep-tions, albeit, in considering the history of this branch of Icelandic literature, we are at once met by an apparent contradiction to them, a group of poems which possess the very qualities of high imagina-tion, deep pathos, fresh love of nature, passionate dramatic power, and noble simplicity of language which Icelandic poetry lacks. The solution is that these poems do not belong to Iceland at all. They are the poetry of the ""Western Islands."
It was among the Scandinavian colonists of the British coasts that Poetry in the first generations after the colonization of Iceland therefrom a of the magnificent school of poetry arose, to which we owe works that for Western power and beauty can be paralleled in no Teutonic language till cen- Islands, turies after their date. To this school, which is totally distinct from the Icelandic, ran its own course apart, and perished before the 13th century, the following works belong (of their authors we have scarcely a name or two; their dates can be rarely exactly fixed; but they lie between the beginning of the 9th and the end of the 10th centuries), classified into groups:
a. The Helgi trilogy (last third lost save a few verses, but pre-
served in prose in Hromuiid Gripsson's Saga), the Raising of An-
ganty and Death of Hialmar (in Hervarar Saga), the fragments of
a Wolsung Lay (part interpolated in earlier poems, part underlying
the prose in Volsunga Saga), all by one poet, to whom Dr Vig-
fusson would also ascribe Voluspd, Vegtamskvi&a, 1'hrymskviSa,
Grbtta Song, a.nd Volundar-kviSa.
b. The Dramatic Poems:Flyting of Lbki, the Lay ofSkirni, the
Lay of Harbard, and several fragments, all one man's work, to
whose school belong, probably, the Lay underlying the story of
Ivar's death in Skioldunga Saga.
c. The Didactic Poetry :Grimnismal, Vafihrudnismal, Alvis-
d. The Genealogical and Mythological Poems :Hyndla-Lio8,
written for one of the Haurda-Kari family, so famous in the Orkneys ;
Ynglinga-tal and Haust-lbng, by Thiodulf of Hvin; Rig's Thul, &c.
e. The Dirges and Battle Songs,such as that on Hafur-firth
Battle, by Thiodulf of Hvin or Hornklofi, shortly after 870 ; Eirik's
Dirge, between 950 and 969; the Dart-Lay on Clontarf Battle,
1014 ; Biarka-mal (fragments of which we have, and paraphrase of
more is found in Hrolf Kraki's Saga and in Saxo).
There are also fragments of poems in Half s Saga, Asmund Kappa-Bana's Saga, in the Latin verses of Saxo, and the Shield Lays by
Bragi, &c., of this school, which closes with the Sun-Song, a power-mi Christian Dantesque poem, recalling some of the early composi-tions of the Irish Church, and with the 12th century Lay of Ragnar, Lay of Starkad, The Proverb Song (Havamal), and Kra-kumal, to which we may add those singular Gloss-poems, the Thulur, which also belong to the Western Isles. Poetry To Greenland, Iceland's farthest colony, founded in the 10th of Green century, we owe the two Lays of Atli, and probably HymiskviSa, land. which, though, as was to be expected, of a weirder harsher cast, yet belong to the Western Isles school and not to.Iceland. In form all these poems belong to two or three classes:kviSa, an epic "cantilena"; tal, a genealogical poem; drapa, songs of praise, &c., written in modifications of the old Teutonic metre which we know in Beowulf; galdr and lokkr, spell and charm songs in a more lyric measure; and mal, a dialogue poem, and Hod, a lay, in elegiae measure suited to the subject.
The characteristics of this Western school are no doubt the result of the contact of Scandinavian colonists of the viking-tide, living lives of the wildest adventure, tossed by war and storm, with an imaginative and civilized race, that exercised upon them a very strong and lasting influence (the effects of which were also felt in Iceland, but in a different way). The frequent intermarriages which mingled the best families of either race are sufficient proof of the close communion of Northmen and Celts in the 9th and 10th centuries, while there are in the poems themselves traces of Celtic mythology, language, and manners.1 Poetry of When one turns to the early poetry of the Scandinavian conti-the com- nent, preserved in the rune-staves on the memorial stones of mon- Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, in the didactic Havamal, the wealth; Great Wolsung Lay (i.e., Sigurd II., Fafnis's Lay, Sigrdrifa's Lay), and Hamdismal, all continental, and all entirely consonant to the remains of our own Old English poetry in metre, feeling, and treat-ment, one can see that it is with this school that the Icelandic "makers" are in sympathy, and that from it their verse naturally descends. The only difference between them is that, while the fundamental characteristics of shrewdness, plain straightforward-ness, and a certain stern way of looking at life are common to both, the Icelandic school adds a complexity of structure and ornament, an elaborate mythological and enigmatical phraseology, and a regularity of rhyme, assonance, luxuriance, quantity, and syllabification, which it caught up from the Latin and Celtic poets, and adapted with exquisite ingenuity to its own main object, that of securing the greatest possible beauty of sound.
The first generations of Icelandic poets were very remarkable men, and resemble in many ways the later troubadours; the books of the kings and the sagas are full of their strange lives. Men of good birth (nearly always, too, of Celtic blood on one side at least), they leave Iceland young and attach themselves to the kings and earls of the north, living in their courts as their henchmen, sharing their adventures in weal and woe, praising their victories, and hymning their deaths if they did not fall by their sidesmen of quick passion, unhappy in their loves, jealous of rival poets and of their own fame, ever ready to answer criticism with a satire or with a sword-thrust, but clinging through all to their art, in which they attained most marvellous skill.
Such men were Egill, the foe of Eirik Bloodaxe and the friend of iEthelstan; Kormak, the hot-headed champion ; Eyvind, King Hakon's poet, called Skaldspoiler, because he copied in his dirge over that king the older and finer Eiriks-mal; Gunnlaug, who sang at iEthelred's court, and fell at the hands of a brother bard Hrafn ; Hallfred, Olaf Tryggvason's poet, who lies in Iona by the side of Macbeth ; Sighvat, Saint Olaf's henchman, most prolific of all his comrades; Thormod, Coalbrow's poet, who died singing after Stickle-stad battle; Kef, Ottar the Black, Arnor the earls' poet, and, of those whose poetry was almost confined to Iceland, Gretti, Biorn the Hitdale champion, and the two model Icelandic masters, Einar Skulason and Markus the Lawman, both of the 12th century.
It is impossible to do more here than mention the names of the most famous of the long roll of poets which are noted in the works of Snorri and in the two Skalda-tal. It is evident that they must differ greatly in style and tone, as they range from the rough and noble pathos of Egill, the mystic obscurity of Kormak, the pride and grief of Hallfred, and the marvellous fluency of Sighvat, to the florid intricacy of Einar and Markus.
The art of poetry, which stood to the Icelanders in lieu of music, was, and is still, much cultivated in the island ; scarcely any pro-minent man but knew how to turn a mocking or laudatory stanza, and down to the fall of the commonwealth the accomplishment was in high request. In the literary age the chief poets belong to the great Sturlung family, Snorri and his two nephews, Sturla and Olaf, the White Poet, being the most famous "makers" of their
* Many of these poems were Englished in prose by the translator of Mallet, by B. Thorpe in his Scemunds Edda, and two or three by Messrs Morris and Mag-nnssen, as appendices to their translation of Volsunga Saga. Earlier transla-tions in verse are those in Dryden's Miscellany (vol. vi.), A. Cottle's Edda, Mathias's Translations, and W. Herbert's Old Icelandic Poetry. Gray's versions of Darradar-liod and Vegtamskvida are well known.
day. Indeed, it is in Snorri's Edda, a poetic grammar of a very perfect kind, that the best examples of the whole of northern poetry are to be found. The last part, Hattatal, a treatise on metre, was written for Earl Skuli about 1222, in imitation of Earl Rognvald and Hall's Hattalykill (Claris metrica), of 1150. The second part, Skaldskapar-mal, a gradus of synonyms and epithets, which con-tains over 240 quotations from 65 poets, and 10 anonymous lays a treasury of versewas composed c. 1230. The first part, an ex-quisite sketch of northern mythology, Gylfa-ginning, was probably prefixed to the whole later.2 There is some of Sturla's poetry in his Islendinga Saga, and verses of Snorri occur in the Gram-matical Treatise on figures of speech, &c., of Olaf, which contains about one hundred and forty quotations from various authors, and was written about 1250.
Besides those sources, the Kings' Lives of Snorri and later authors contain a great deal of verse by Icelandic poets. King Harold Sigurdsson, who fell at Stamford Bridge 1066, was both a good critic and composed himself. Many tales are told of him and his poet visitors and henchmen. The Icelandic sagas also comprise much verse which is partly genuine, partly the work of the 12th and 13th century editors. Thus there are genuine pieces in Nial's Saga (chaps. 34, 78, 103, 126, 146), in Eyrbyggia, Laxdcela, Egil's Saga (part only), Grettla (two and a half stanzas, cf. Landnamabok), Biorn's Saga, Gunnlaug's Saga, Havard's Saga, Kormak's Saga, Viga-Glum's Saga, Erik the Red's Saga, and Fostbrcedra Saga. In Nial's, Gisli's, and Droplaug's Sons' Sagas there is good verse of a later poet, and in many sagas worthless rubbish foisted in as ornamental wherever there was a chance of doing so.
To these may be added two or three works of a semi-literary kind, composed by learned men, not by heroes and warriors. Such are Konunga-tal, Hugsvinnsmal (a paraphrase of Cato's Distichs), Merlin's Prophecy (paraphrased from Geoffrey of Monmouth by Gunnlaug the monk), Jomsvikinga-drapa (by Bishop Ketil), and the Islenclinga-drapa, which has preserved brief notices of several lost sagas concerning Icelandic worthies, with which Gudmuudar-drapa, though of the 14th century, may be also placed.
Just as the change of law gave the death-blow to an already Medi-perishing commonwealth, so the rush of mediaeval influence, which seval followed the union with Norway, merely completed a process which poetry, had been in force since the end of the 11th century, when it over-threw the old Icelandic poetry in favour of the Rimur.
The introduction of the JDanz, ballads (orfornkvcedi, as they are now called) for singing, with a burden, usually relating to a love-tale, which were immensely popular with the people and performed by whole companies at weddings, yule feasts, and the like, had relegated the regular Icelandic poetry to more serious events or to the more cultivated of the chiefs. But these "jigs," as the Eliza-bethans would have called them, dissatisfied the popular ear in one way : they were, like our own old ballads, which they closely resembled, in rhyme, but void of alliteration, and accordingly they were modified and replaced by the " Kimur," the staple literary pro-duct of the 15th century. These were rhymed hut also alliterative, in regular form, with prologue or mansong (often the prettiest part of the whole), main portion telling the tale (mostly derived in early days from the French romances of the Carlovingian, Arthurian, or Alexandrian cycles, or from the mythic or skrok-sbgur), and epilogue. Their chief value to us lies in their having preserved versions of several French poems now lost, and in their evidence as to the feelings and bent of Icelanders in the " Dark Age " of the island's history. The ring and melody which they all possess is their chief beauty.
Of the earliest, Olafsrima, by Einar Gilsson (c. 1350), and the best, the Aristophanic Skida-rima (c. 1430), by Einar Fostri, the names may be given. Kimur on sacred subjects was called " Diktur"; of these, on the legends of the saints' lives, many remain. The most not-able of its class is the Lilia of Eystein Asgrimsson, a monk of Holy-fell (e. 1350), a most'' sweet sounding song." Later the poems of the famous John Arason, last Catholic bishop of Holar (c. 1530), Licmf ("Gleam") and Pislargrdtr ("Passion-tears"), deserve mention.
Taste has sunk since the old days; but still this Kimur poetry is popular and genuine, and in such hard and evil days as came upon Iceland after the fall of the old houses had destroyed such tradi-tional history and civilization as had fostered the saga, it is perhaps rather a wonder that the torch was still alight than that its glimmer was feeble and smoky. Moreover, the very prosaic and artificial verse of Sturla and the last of the old school certainly deserved the oblivion which came over them, as a casual perusal of the stanzas scattered through Islendinga will surely prove. It is interesting to notice that a certain number of kenningar (poetical paraphrases) have survived from the old school even to the present day, though the mass of them have happily perished. The change in thephonesis
' » This prose Edda (from which the Eddie Lays got their name) has been partly turned into English by Sir G. W. Dasent, by the translator of Mallet, and by Mr Anderson, and will be found treated of more at length under EDDA Mallet's Northern Mythology, a book which first drew Englishmen's attention to the religious ideas of their forefathers, is not to be depended on in any way be-
, longing, as it does, to the pre-scientiflc age. Bunsen's speculations at a inter
i ua;e are entirely fanciful and visionarv.
of the language is well illustrated by the new metres as compared with the old Icelandic Drott-kvcedi in its varied forms. Most of the older Rimur and Diktur are as yet imprinted. Many of the fornkvcedi are printed in a volume of the old Nordiske Literatur-Samfund.
Refor- The effects of the Reformation was deeply felt in Icelandic litera-mation ture, both prose and verse. The name of Hallgrim Petersen, whose period. Passion-hymns, ' ' the flower of all Icelandic poetry, " have been the most popular composition in the language, is foremost of all writers since the Second Change of Faith. The gentle sweetness of thought, and the exquisite harmony of wording in his poems, more than justify the popular verdict. His Hymns were finished in 1660, and published in 1666, two great Protestant poets thus being contem-poraries. A collection of Reformation hymns, adapted, many of them, from the German, the Holar-book, had preceded them in 1619. There was a good deal of verse-writing of a secular kind, far inferior in every way, during this period. In spite of the many physical distresses that weighed upon the island, ballads (fornkvcedi) were still written, ceasing about 1750, Rimur composed, and more elaborate compositions published.
The most notable names are those of the improvisatore Stephen the Blind ; Thorlak Gudbrandsson, author of Ulfar-liimur, d. 1707 ; John Magnusson, who wrote Hristafla, a didactic poem ; Stefan Olafsson, composer of Psalms, Rimur, &c., d. 1688 ; Gunnar Pàlsson, the author of Gunnarslag, often printed with the Eddie poems, c. 1791 ; and the famous Eggert Olafsson, traveller, naturalist, and patriot, whose untimely death in 1768 was a great loss to his country, which his energy and talents might have roused from its torpor. His Bunadar-balkr, a Geòrgie written, like Tusser's Points, with a practical view of raising the state of agriculture, has always been much prized. Paul Widalin's ditties are very naive and clever. Modern The Reformation had produced a real poet, but the material rise poetry, of Iceland has not yet done so. Many have written, but few have shown any great talent ; perhaps the best has been Sigurd of Broad-firth, many of whose prettiest poems were composed in Greenland, like those of Jon Biarnisson before him, c. 1750 ; John Thorlaksson's translation of Milton's great epic into Eddie verse is praiseworthy in intention, but, as may be imagined, falls far short of its aim. He also turned Pope's Essay on Man and Klopstock's Messiah into Icelandic. Benedikt Grondai tried the same experiment with Homer in his Ilion's Kvcedi, c. 1825. There is a fine prose translation of the Odyssey by Sweinbiorn Egillson, the lexicographer, both faithful and poetic in high degree. Many poems of varying but little merit will be found in the periodicals of this and last century, the serious verse being pseudo-classic for the most part and falsetto in tone. The satiric verse, such as John Thorlaksson's on Magnus Stephen-son's projects and "reforms," and the ditties on all kinds of sujets d'occasion, are better, but much of their meaning is lost to a stranger. With the latest school of poets who have begun to imitate foreign metres (unalliterative) and to translate foreign poets, it is hardly worth while to linger. A translation of Shakespeare and of several of Byron's poems may be noticed as curiosities. Of minor poetry there is still an abundant crop ; even in Gimli, the far-off Canadian colony, "In Memoriam " verses and wedding-hymns of irreproachable form, but wooden thought, are printed and admired. That Iceland, most idyllic of modern lands, is capable of supplying subject and material for something higher than all this there is no doubt ; but, before any-thing of real worth can be written, the old stock-in-trade of worn-out mythology and pseudo-patriotism must be thrown aside for ever. The saga. History and Biography.The real strength of Icelandic litera-ture is shown in its most indigenous growth, the "Saga." This is, in its purest form, the life of a hero, composed in regular form, governed by fixed rules, and intended for oral recitation. It bears the strongest likeness to the epic in all save its unver-sified form ; in both are found, as fixed essentials, simplicity of plot, chronological order of events, set phrases used even in describing the restless play of emotion or the changeful fortunes of a fight or a storm, while in both the absence of digression, comment, or intrusion of the narrator's person is invariably maintained. The saga grew up in the quieter days which followed the Change of Faith (1002), when the deeds of the great families' heroes were still cherished by their descendants, and the exploits of the great kings of Norway and Denmark handed down with reverence from the mouths of those that had fought and sung by their side. Telling of stories was a recognized form of entertain-ment at all feasts and gatherings, and it was the necessity of the reciter which gradually worked them into a regular form, by which the memory was relieved and the artistic features of the story allowed to be more carefully elaborated. That this form was so perfect must be attributed to Irish influence, without which indeed there would have been a saga, but not the same saga. It is to the west that the best sagas belong ; it is to the west that nearly every classic writer whose name we know belongs ; and it is precisely in the west that the admixture of Irish blood is greatest. In compar-ing the Irish tales with the saga, there will be felt deep divergencies in matter, style, and taste, the richness of one contrasting with the chastened simplicity of the other ; the one's half-comic half-earnest bombast is wholly unlike the other's grim humour; the marvellous, so unearthly in the one, is almost credible in the other ; but in both are the keen grasp of character, the biting phrase, the love of action, and the delight in blood which almost assumes the garb of a religi-ous passion.
When the saga had been fixed by a generation or two of oral reciters, it was written down; and this stereotyped the form, so that afterwards when literary works were composed by learned men (such as Abbot Karl's Swerri's Saga and Sturla's Islendinga) the same style was adopted.
Taking first the sagas relating to Icelanders, of which some thirty- Icelandic five or forty remain out of thrice that number, we find that they were sagas, first written down between 1140 and 1220, in the generation which succeeded Ari and felt the impulse his books had given to writing, on separate scrolls, no doubt mainly for the reciter's convenience ; that they then went through all the different phases which such popular compositions have to pass in all lands,editing and compounding (1220-1260), padding and amplifying(1260-1800), and finally collec-tion in large MSS. (14th century). Sagas exist showing all these phases, some primitive and rough, some refined and beautified, some again diluted and weakened, according as their copyists have been faithful, artistic, or foolish ; for the first generation of MSS. have all perished. We have also complex sagas put together in the 13th century out of the scrolls relating to a given locality, such a group as still exists untouched in Vapnfirdinga being fused into such a saga as Niala or Laxdcela. Of the authors nothing is known ; we can only guess that some belong to the Sturlung school. According to subject they fall into two classes, those relating to the older generation before Christianity and those telling of St Olaf's contem-poraries ; only two fall into a third generation.
Beginning with the sagas of the west, most perfect in style and Of the form, the earliest in subject is that of Gold-Thori (c. 930), whose west, adventurous career it relates ; Hen-Thori's Saga tells of the burning of Blund-Ketil, a noble chief, an event which led to Thord Gelli's reforms next year (c. 964) ; Gisli's Saga (960-80) tells of the career and death of that ill-fated outlaw ; it is beautifully written, and the verses by the editor (13th century) are good and appropriate ; it has been Englished by Sir G. Dasent; Hord's Saga (980) is the life of a band of outlaws on Whalesfirth, and especially of their leader Hord. Of later subject are the sagas of Havard and his revenge for his son, murdered by a neighbouring chief (997-1002); of the Heath Slaughter (990-1014), a typical tale of a great blood feud, written in the most primitive prose ; of Gunnlaug and Hrafn (980-1008), the rival poets and their ill-starred love. The verse in this saga is important and interesting. It has been Englished by Messrs Morris and Magnusson. To the west also belong the three great complex sagas Egla, Eyrbyggia, and Laxdcela. The first (870-980), after noticing the migration of the father and grand-father of the hero poet Egill, and the origin of the feud between them and the kings of Norway, treats fully of Egill's career, his enmity with Eirik Bloodaxe, his service with ^Ethelstan, and finally, after many adventures abroad, of his latter days in Ice-land at Borg, illustrating very clearly what manner of men those great settlers and their descendants were, and the feelings of pride and freedom which led them to Iceland. The style is that of Snorri, who had himself dwelt at Borg, and Dr Vigfusson is inclined to refer it to him. Eyrbyggia (890-1031) is the saga of Politics, the most loosely woven of all the compound stories. It includes a mass of information on the law, religion, traditions, &c, of the heathen days in Iceland, and the lives of Eirik, the real discoverer of Greenland, Biorn of Broadwick, a famous chief, and Snorri, the greatest states-man of his day. Dr Vigfusson would ascribe its editing and comple-tion to Sturla the Lawman, c. 1250. It is known to many English-men from Sir Walter Scott's paraphrase. Laxdcela (910-1026) is the saga of Romance. Its heroine Gudrun is the most famous of all Icelandic ladies. Her love for Kiartan the poet, and his career abroad, his betrayal by his friend Bolli, the sad death of Kiartan at his hands, the revenge taken for him on Bolli, whose slayers are themselves afterwards put to death, and the end of Gudrun, who becomes an anchorite after her stormy life, make up the pith of the story. The contrast of the characters, the rich style and fine dialogue which are so remarkable in this saga, have much in common with the best works of the Sturlung school. Mr Morris's Lovers of Gudrun is founded upon it.
Of the north there are the sagas of Kormak (930-60), most primi- Of the tive of all, a tale of a wild poet's love and feuds, containing many north, notices of the heathen times ; of Waterdale (890-980), relating to the settlement and the chief family in Waterdale ; of Hallfred the Poet (996-1014), narrating his fortune at King Olaf's court, his love affairs in Iceland, and finally his death and burial at Iona; of Peek-dale (990), which preserves the lives of Askell and his son Viga-Skuti; of Swarf-dale (980-90), a cruel coarse story of the old days, with some good scenes in it, unfortunately imperfect, chapters 1-10 being forged ; of Viga-Glum (970-90), a fine story of a heathen hero, brave, crafty, and cruel; it has been Englished by Sir Edmund Head. To the north also belong the sagas of Gretti the Strong (1010-31), the life and death of the most famous of Icelandic out-
laws, the real story of whose career is mixed up with the mythical adventures of Beowulf, here put down to Gretti, and with late romantic episodes and fabulous folk-tales (Dr Vigfusson would ascribe the best parts of this saga to Sturla ; its last editor, whose additions would be better away, must have touched it up about 1300 ; Messrs Morris and Magnusson have Englished it), and the stories of the Lightwater Men and Liot 0' Kail (1009-60). Gud-mund the Mighty and his family and neighbours are the heroes of these tales, which form a little cycle. The Banda-manna Saga (1050-60), the only comedy among the sagas, is also a northern tale; it relates the struggles of a plebeian who gets a chieftaincy against the old families of the neighbourhood, whom he successfully outwits; Ol-kofra Thattr is a later imitation of it in the same humorous strain. The sagas of the north are rougher and coarser than those of the west, but have a good deal of individual character. Of the Of tales relating to the east there survive the Weapon-firth east. cycle,the tales of Thorstein the White (c. 900), of Thorstein the Staffsmitten [c. 985), Englished by Mr Morris, of Gunnar Thidrand's Bane (1000-1008), and of the TVeapon-firth Men (975-990), all relating to the family of Hof and their friends and kin for several generations,and the story of Hrafnkell Frey's Priest (c. 960), the most idyllic of sagas and best of the eastern tales. Of later times there are Broplaug's Sons' Saga (997-1007), written probably about 1110, and preserved in the uncouth broken style of the original (a brother's revenge for his brother's death is the substance of it; Brand-krossa Thattr is an appendix to it), and the tales of Thorstein Hall of Side's Son (c. 1014), and his brother Thidrandi (c. 996), which belong to the cycle of Hall o' Side's Saga, unhappily lost; they are weird tales of bloodshed and magic, with idyllic and pathetic episodes.
Of the The sagas of the south are either lost or absorbed in that of Nial south. (970-1014), a long and complex story into which are woven the tales of Gunnar, Nial, and parts of others, as Brian Boroimhe, Hall o' Side,'Sec. It is, whether we look at style, contents, or legal and historical weight, the foremost of all sagas. It deals especially with law, the sole bond of a rough heathen community, and contains in itself, as it were, at once the pith and the moral of all early Icelandic history. Its hero Nial, type of the good lawyer, is contrasted with its villain Mord, the ensample of cunning, chicane, and legal wrong-doing; and a great part of the saga is taken up with the three cases and suits of the divorce, the death of Hoskuld, and the burning of Nial, which are given with great minuteness and care. The number and variety of its dramatis persona? give it the liveliest interest throughout. The women Iiallgerda, Berg-thora, and Ragnhild are as sharply contrasted as the men Gunnar, Skarphedin, Flosi, and Kari. The pathos of such tragedies as the death of Gunnar and Hoskuld and the burning is interrupted by the humour of the Al-thing scenes and the intellectual interest of the legal proceedings. The plot dealing first with the life and death of Gunnar, type of the chivalry of his day, then with the burning of Nial by Flosi, and how it came about, and lastly "with Kari's revenge on the burners, is the ideal saga-plot, and affords ample room for the finest treatment of incident. The author must have been of the east, a good lawyer and genealogist, and have composed it about 1250, to judge from various internal evidence. It has been overworked by a later editor, c. 1300, who inserted many spurious verses. It has been translated by Sir G. Dasent. Of Green- Relating partly to Iceland, but mostly to Greenland and Wine-land and land (N. America), are the sagas of the Floe-Men (985-90), a good North story of the adventures of Thorgils and of the struggles of ship-America, wrecked colonists in Greenland, a graphic and terrible picture; and of Eirik the Red (990-1000), two versions, one northern (Flatey-book), one western, the better (in Hawk's Book, and AM. 557, translated by the Rev. J. Sephton), the story of the discovery of Greenland and Wineland (America) by the Icelanders at the end of the 9th century. Later are the story of Thormod and Thorgeir, the Foster Brethren (1015-30), a very interesting story, told in a quaint romantic style, of Thorgeir, the reckless henchman of King Olaf, and how his death was revenged in Greenland by his sworn brother the true-hearted Thormod Coalbrow's poet, who afterwards dies at Sticklestad. The tale of Einar Sookisson (c. 1125) may also be noticed. The lost saga of Poet Helgi, of which only fragments remain, was also laid in Greenland.
Besides complete sagas, such as have been noticed, there are embedded in the Kings' Lives numerous small thcettir or episodes, small tales of Icelanders' adventures, often relating to poets and their lives at the kings' courts ; one or two of these seem to be frag-ments of sagas now lost. Among the more notable are those of Orm Storolfsson, Oginund Dijtt, Halldor Snorrason, Thorstein Oxfoot, Hromund Halt, Thorwald Tasaldi, Svadi and Amor Her-lingar-nef, Audunn of Westfirth, Sneglu-Halli, Hrafn of Hrut-fiord, Hreidar Heimski, Gisli Illugison, Ivar the poet, Gull-^Esu Thord, Einar Skulason the poet, Mani the poet, &c.
The forged Icelandic sagas appear as early as the 13th century. They are very poor, and either worked up on hints given in genuine stories, or altogether apocryphal. Some of them have been com-posed within the present century.
About the year of the battle of Hastings was born one of the History, blood of Queen Aud, who founded the famous historical school of Iceland, and himself produced its greatest monument in a work which can only be compared for value with the English Domesday Book. Nearly all that we know of the heathen commonwealth may be traced to the collections of Ari. It was he too that fixed Ari. the style in which history should be composed in Iceland. It was he that secured and put into order the vast mass of fragmentary tradition that was already dying out in his day. And perhaps it is the highest praise of all to him that he wrote in his own " Danish tongue," and so ensured the use of that tongue by the learned and cultured of after generations, when, had he chosen to imitate the learned of other lands, not only would the freshness and life of the northern history as we have it have been crushed out, but the vernacular literature (heightened and purified by his influence as it has now been) would have sunk and disappeared. Ari's great works are Konungabok, or The Book of Kings, relating the history of the kings of Norway from the rise of the Yngling dynasty down to the death of Harald Sigurdsson in the year of his own birth. This book he composed from the dictation of old men such as Odd Kolsson, who had preserved traditions in their family and got information from contemporaries, from the genealogical poems, and from the various dirges, battle-songs, and eulogia of the poets. It is most probable that he also compiled shorter Kings' Books relating to Denmark and perhaps to England. The Konungabdk is pre-served under the Kings' Lives of Snorri, parts of it almost as they came from Ari's hands, for example, Tnglinga and Harold Fair-hair's Saga, and the prefaces stating the plan and critical founda-tions of the work, parts of it only used as a framework for the magnificent superstructure of the lives of the two Olafs, and of Harald Hardrada and his nephew Magnus the Good. The best text of Ari's Konungabdk (Ynglinga, and the sagas down to but not including Olaf Tryggvason's) is that of Frisbok.
The Book of Settlements (LandnamabCk) is a most wonderful per-formance, both in its scheme and carrying out. It is divided into five parts, the first of which contains a brief account of the discovery of the island ; the other four, one by one taking a quarter of the land, de-scribe the name, pedigree, and history of each settler in geographical order, notice the most important facts in the history of his descend-ants, the names of their homesteads, their courts and temples, thus including mention of 4000 persons, one-third of whom are women, and 2000 places. The mass of information contained in so small a space, the clearness and accuracy of the details, the immense amount of life which is somehow breathed into the whole, can hardly fail to astonish the reader, when he reflects that this colossal task was sketched out and accomplished by one man, for his collaborateur Kolskegg merely filled up his plan with regard to part of the east coast, a district with which Ari in his western home at Stad was little familiar. Landnamabdk has reached us in two complete editions, one edited by Sturla, who brought down the genealogies to his own grandfather and grandmother, Sturla and Gudny, and one by Hawk, who traces the pedigrees still later to himself.
Ari also wrote a Book of Icelanders (Islendingabdk, c. 1127), which has perished as a whole, but fragments of it are embedded in many sagas and Kings' Lives ; it seems to have been a complete epitome of his earlier works, together with an account of the con-stitutional history, ecclesiastical and civil, of Iceland. An abridg-ment of the latter part of it, the little Libellus Islandorum (to wdiich the title of the bigger LiberIslendingabdkis often given), made by the historian for his friends Bishops Ketil and Thorlak, for whom he wrote the Liber (c. 1137). This charming little book is, with the much later collections of laws, our sole authority for the Icelandic constitution of the commonwealth, but, "much as it tells, the lost Liber would have been of still greater importance." Kristni-Saga, the story of the christening of Iceland, is also a work of Ari's, '' overlaid" by a later editor no doubt, but often preserving Ari's very words. This saga, together with several scattered tales of early Christians in Iceland before the Change of Faith (1002), may have made up a section of the lost Liber. Of the author of these works little personal is known. He lived in quiet days a quiet life ; but he shows himself in his works, as Snorri describes him, " a man wise, of good memory, and a speaker of the truth." Surely, if Thucydides is justly accounted the first political historian, Ari may be fitly styled the first of scientific historians.
A famous contemporary and friend of Ari is Ssemund (1056- Sa?mund. 1133), a great scholar and churchman, whose learning so im-pressed his age that he got the reputation of a magician. He was the friend of Bishop John, the founder of the great Odd-Verjar family, and the author of a Book of Kings from Harald Fairhair to Magnus the Good, in which he seems to have fixed the exact chronology of each reign. It is most probable that he wrote in Latin. The idea that he had anything to do with the poetic Edda in general, or the Sun's Song in particular, is of course unfounded and modern.
The flame which Ari had kindled was fed by his suecessors in the 12th century. Eirik Oddsson (c. 1150) wrote the lives of Sigurd
Sue- Evil-deacon and the sons of Harold Gille, in his Hryggiar-Stykki cessors (Sheldrake), of which parts remain in the MSS. collections of of Ari. Kings' L ives, Morkin-skinna, &c. Karl Jonsson, abbot of Thingore the Benedictine minister, wrote (c. 1184) a Life of Swerri from the lips of that great king, a fine racy biography, with a style and spirit of its own. Bbglunga-Sogur tell the story of the civil wars which followed Swerri's death. They are probably by a contemporary.
The Latin Lives of St Olaf, Odd's in Latin (c. 1175), compiled from original authorities, and the Legendary Life, by another monk whose name is lost, are of the mediaeval Latin school of Sgemund to which Gunnlaug belonged. Snorri, Snorri was known to his contemporaries as a statesman and poet; 'to us he is above all an historian. His position as a poet and his authorship of the prose Edda have been noticed above. Snorri was born in 1178, being on his mother's side sprung from the Myra family of Borg; he was brought up in fosterage with Ssemund's great grandson Jon Loptsson, a great chief. His career begins with his marriage, 1199, which made him a wealthy man. In 1205 he moved from Borg to Reekholt. He was twice lawman, and twice visited Norway, where he gained great influence with the king ; but when the civil war broke out he sided with Duke Skuli and disobeyed the king's orders, whereupon letters were sent out to his enemies to slay him (Skuli his patron having fallen), which command was carried out on the night of 22d Sept. 1241, his own friends and kins-men being his murderers. Snorri wrote the Lives of the Kings, from Olaf Tryggvason to Sigurd the Crusader inclusive ; and we have them substantially as they came from his hand in the Great King Olaf's Saga, which has been interpolated with thsettir and bits of other sagas in such a way as that they can be easily omitted ; St Olafs Saga, as in Heimskringla and the Stockholm MS. ; and the succeeding Kings' Lives, as in Hulda and Hrokkinskinna, in which, however, a few episodes have been inserted.
These works were no doubt indebted for their facts to Ari's labours, and to sagas written since Ari's death; but the style and treatment of them are Snorri's own. The fine Thucydidean speeches, the dramatic power of grasping character, and the pathos and poetry that run through the stories, along with a humour such as is shown in the Edda, and a varied grace of style that never flags or palls, make Snorri one of the greatest of historians.
Here it should be noticed that Heimskringla and its class of MSS. (Eirspennil, Jofraskinna, Gullinskinna, Fris-bok, and Kringla) do not give the full text of Snorri's works. They are abridgments made in Norway by Icelanders for their Norwegian patrons, the Life of St Olaf alone being preserved intact, for the great interest of the Norwegians lay in him, but all the other Kings' Lives being more or less cut down and mutilated, so that they cannot be trusted for historic purposes ; nor do they give a fair idea of Snorri's style. As Englishmen's knowledge of these works is often derived from Mr Laing's translation of a Danish version of Heimskringla (" Sea-Kings of Norway"), this caution is needed. Kings' Agrip is a 12th century compendium of the Kings' Lives from Lives Harold Fairhair to Swerri, by a scholastic writer of the school of by other Ssemund. As the only Icelandic abridgment of Norwegian history authors, taken not from Snorri but sources now lost, it is of worth. Its real title is Konunga-tal.
Noregs Konunga-tal, now called Fagrskinna, is aNorse compendium of the Kings' Lives from Halfdan the Black to Swerri's accession, probably written for King Hakon, to whom it was read on his death-bed. It is an original work, and contains much not found else-where. As non-Icelandic it is only noticed here for completeness.
Styrmi Karason, a contemporary of Snorri's, dying in 1245, was a distinguished churchman (lawman twice) and scholar. He wrote a Life of St Olaf, now lost; his authority is cited. He also copied out Landnamabok and Swerri's Life, from his MSS. of which our surviving copies were taken.
Sturla, Snorri's nephew, of whom more must be said below, wrote the Lives of Kings Hakon and Magnus at the request of the latter, finishing the first e. 1265, the latter c. 1280. King Hakon's Life is preserved in full ; of the other only fragments remain. These are the last of the long and valuable series of historic works which Ari's labours began, from which the history of Norway for 500 years must be gathered.
A few books relating the history of other Scandinavian realms will complete this survey. In Skioldunga-bok was told the history of the early kings of Denmark, perhaps derived from Ari's collec-tions, and running parallel to Ynglinga. The earlier part of it has perished save a fragment Sogu-brot, and citations and paraphrases in Saxo, and the mythical Eagnar Lodbrok's and Gongu-Hrolfs Sagas; the latter part, Lives of Harold Blue-tooth and the Kings down to Sweyn II., is still in existence and known as Skioldunga.
The Lives of St Knut and his Brethren are of later origin and separate authorships, parallel to Snorri's Lives of the great Norwegian Kings, but earlier in date. The Lives of King Waldimar and his Son, written c. 1185, by a contemporary of Abbot Karl's, are the last of this series. The whole were edited and compiled into one book, often quoted as Skioldunga, by a 13th century editor, possibly Olaf, the White Poet, Sturla's brother, guest and friend of King Waldimar
II., as Dr Vigfusson has guessed. Jomsvikinga Saga, the history of the pirates of Jom, down to Knut the Great's days, also relate to Danish history. Several versions of it exist.
The complex work now known as Orkneyinga is made up of the Earls' Saga, lives of the first great earls, Turf-Einar, Thorfinn, &c; the Life of St Magnus, founded partly on Abbot Bobert's Latin life of him, c. 1150, an Orkney work, partly on Norse or Icelandic bio-graphies ; a Miracle-book of the same saint; the Lives of Earl Rognwald and, Sweyn the last of the vikings, and a few episodes such as the Burning of Bishop Adam. A scholastic sketch of the rise of the Scandinavian empire, the Foundation of Norway, dating c. 1120, is prefixed to the whole. The Flatey-book text of this work has been translated by Mr Hjaltalin in Mr Anderson's Orkneyinga Saga.
Fcereyinga tells the tale of the conversion of the Fsereys or Faroes, and the lives of its chiefs Sigmund and Leif, composed in the 13th century from their separate sagas by an Icelander of the Sturlung school.
The saga has already been shown in two forms, its original epic Biogra-shape and its later development applied to the lives of Norwegian phies. and Danish kings and earls, as heroic but deeper and broader sub-jects than before. In the 13th century it is put to a third use, to tell the plain story of men's lives for their contemporaries, after satisfying which demand it dies away for ever.
These biographies are more literary and mediaeval and less poetic Lives of than the Icelandic sagas and king's lives; their simplicity, truth, chiefs, realism, and purity of style are the same. They run in two parallel streams, some being concerned with chiefs and champions, some with bishops. The former, as more important, will be taken first. They are mostly found embedded in the complex mass of stories known as Sturlunga, from which Dr Vigfusson has extricated them, and for the first time set them in order. Among them are the sagas of Thorgils and Haftidi (1118-21), the feud and peacemaking of two great chiefs contemporaries of Ari; oiSturla (1150-83), the founder of the great Sturlung family, down to the settlement of his great lawsuit by Jon Loptsson, who thereupon took his son Snorri the his-torian to fosterage,a humorous story hut with traces of the de-cadence about it, and glimpses of the evil days that were to come ; of the Burning of Onund (1185-1200), a tale of feud and fire-raising in the north of the island, the hero of which, Gudmund Dyri, goes at last into a cloister; of Hrafn Sweinbiornsson (1190-1213), the noblest Icelander of his day, warrior, leech, seaman, craftsman, poet, and chief, whose life at home, travels and pilgrimages abroad (Hrafn was one of the first to visit Becket's shrine), and death at the hands of a foe whom he had twice spared, are recounted by a loving friend in pious memory of his virtues, c. 1220 ; of Aaron Hiorleifsson (1200-55), a man whose strength, courage, and adventures befit rather a henchman of Olaf Tryggvason than one of King Hakon's thanes (the beginning of the feuds that rise round Bishop Gudmund are told here), of the Swine)"ell-men (1248-52), a pitiful story of a family feud in the far east of Iceland.
But the most important works of this class are the Islendinga Sturla Saga and Thorgils Saga of Lawman Sturla. Sturla and his brother Thords-Olaf were the sons of Thord Sturlason and his mistress Thora. He son the was born and brought up in prosperous times, when all was fair for his-the Sturlungs, but his manhood was passed in the midst of strife and torian. war, in which his family fell one by one, and he himself, though a peaceful man who cared little for politics, was more than once forced to fly for his life. While in refuge with King Magnus, in Norway, he wrote his two sagas of that king and his father. After his first stay in Norway he came back in 1271, with the new Norse law-book, and served a second time as lawman. The Islendinga must have been the work of his later years, composed at Fairey in Broad-firth, where he died, 30th July 1284, aged about seventy years. The saga of Thorgils Skardi (1252-61) seems to have been the first of his works on Icelandic contemporary history; it deals with the life of his own nephew, especially his career in Iceland from 1252 to 1258. The second part of Islendinga (1242-1262), which relates to the second part of the civil war, telling of the careers of Thord Kakali, Kolbein the Young, Earl Gizur, and Hrafn Oddsson. The end is imperfect, there being a blank of some years before the frag-mentary ending to which an editor has affixed a notice of the author's death. The first part of Islendinga (1202-42) tells of the beginning and first part of the civil wars, the lives of Snorri and Sighvat, Sturla's uncles, of his cousin and namesake Sturla Sighvats-son, of Bishop Gudmund, and Thorwald Gizursson,the fall of the Sturlungs, and with them the last hopes of the great houses to main-tain the commonwealth, being the climax of the story.
Sturla's power lies in his faithfulness to nature, minute observ-ance of detail, and purity of style. The great extent of his subject, and the difficulty of dealing with it in the saga form, are most skil-fully overcome ; nor does he allow prejudice or favour to stand in the way of the truth, a thing hard to avoid for one writing of con-temporary events in which his own kinsmen have been concerned. He ranks below Ari in value and below Snorri in power ; but no one else can dispute his place in the first rank of Icelandic writers.
Of the ecclesiastical biographers, an anonymous Skalholt clerk is
Bishops' the best. He wrote Hunger-waker, lives of the first five bishops of
lives. Skalholt, and biographies of his patron Bishop Paul, and also of St
Thorlak. They are full of interesting notices of social and church
life. Thorlak was a learned man, and had studied at Paris and
Lincoln, which he left in 1161. These lives cover the years 1056-
1193. The Life of St John, a great reformer, a contemporary of
Thorodd, whom he employed to build a church for him, is by
another author (1052-1121). The Life of Gudmuncl, as priest,
recounts the early life of this Icelandic Becket till his election as
bishop (1160-1202); his after career must be sought out in Islend-
inga. It is written by a friend and contemporary. A later life by
Arngrim, abbot of Thingore, written c. 1350, as evidence of his
subject's sanctity, tells a good deal about Icelandic life, &c. The
Lives of Bishops Ami and Lawrence bring down our knowledge of
Icelandic history into the 14th century. The former work is un-
hanoily imperfect; it is the record of the struggles of church and
state over patronage rights and glebes, written c. 1315; it now
covers only the years 1269-91; a great many documents are given
in it, after the modern fashion. The latter, Lawrence's Life, by his
disciple, priest Einar Haflidason, is a charming biography of a
good and'pious man, whose chequered career in Norway and Iceland
is picturesquely told (1324-31). It is the last of the sagas.
Bishop Jon's Table-Talk (1325-39) is also worth noticing; it con-
tains many popular stories which the good bishop, who had studied
at Bologna and Paris, was wont to tell to his friends.
Aomals. The Annals are now almost the sole material for Icelandic his-
tory ; they had begun earlier, but after 1331 they got fuller and
richer, till they end in 1430. The best are Annates Regit, ending
1306, Einar Haflidasons Annals, known as " Lawman's Annals,"
reaching to 1392, and preserved with others in Flatey-book, and the
New Annals, last of all. The Icelandic Diplomatariwn, edited by
Jon Sigurdsson, contains what remains of deeds, inventories, letters,
&c., from the old days, completing our scanty material for this dark
period of the island's history.
Litera- After the union and change of law genuine tradition died out
ture of with the great houses, and the kings' lives and biographies ceased
foreign to please. The ordinary mediaeval literature reached Iceland through
origin. Norway, and every one began to take delight in it and put it into a
vernacular dress, so neglecting their own classics that but for a few
collectors like Lawman Hawk they would have perished entirely.
Roman- The Norwegian kings, Hakon Hakonson, c. 1225, and Hakon V.,
tic c. 1305, employed Icelanders at their courts in translating the
sagas. French romances of the Alexander, Arthur, and Charlemagne
cycles. Some forty or fifty of these Riddara-Sogur (Romances of
Chivalry) still remain. They reached Iceland and were eagerly
read, many Rimur being founded on them. Norse versions of
Mary of Brittany's Lays, the stories of Brutus and of Troy, and
Scien- part of the Pharsalia translated are also found. The Speculum
tiflc Regale, with its interesting geographical and social information, is
works, also Norse, written c. 1240, by a Halogalander. The computistic
and arithmetical treatises of Stiorn-Odd, Biarni the Number-skilled,
d. 1173, and Hawk the Lawman, d. 1334, and the geography of
Ivar Bardsson, a Norwegian, e. 1340, are of course of foreign origin.
A few tracts on geography, &c, in Hawk's book, and a Guide to the
Holy Land, by Nicholas, abbot of Thwera, d. 1158, complete the
list of scientific works.
Mythical The stories which contain the last lees of the old mythology
sagas. and pre-history seem to be also non-Icelandic, but stuffed out and
amplified by Icelandic editors, who probably got the plots from
the Western Islands. Wolsunga Saga and Hervarar Saga contain
quotations and paraphrases of lays by the Helgi poet, and Half's,
Ragnar's, and Asmund Kappabana's Sagas all have hits of Western
poetry in them. Hrolf Kraki's Saga paraphrases part of Biarka-
inal; Hromund Gripsson's gives the story of Helgi and Kara (the
lost third of the Helgi trilogy); Gautrek's, Arrow-Odd's, Frithiqfs
Sagas, &c., contain shreds of true tradition amidst a mass of later
fictitious matter of no worth. With the Riddara-Sogur they
enjoyed great popularity in the 15th century, and gave matter for
many Rimur. Thidrek's Saga, a late version of the Wolsung story,
is of Norse comprsition, e. 1230, from North German sources.
Re- The mediaeval religious literature of Western Europe also reached
ligious and influenced Iceland, and the Homilies (like the Laics) were, wor <.s. according to Thorodd, the earliest books written in the vernacular, antedating even Ari's histories. The lives of the Virgin, the Apostles, and the Saints fill many MSS. (edited in four large volumes by Professor Unger), and are the works of many authors, chiefly of the 13th and 14th centimes (of course they were known in Latin long before); amongst them are the lives of SS. Edward the Con-fessor, Oswald of Northumbria, Dunstan, and Thomas of Canterbury. Of the authors we know Priest Berg Gunsteinsson, d. 1211; Kygri-Biorn, bishop-elect, d. 1237; Bishop Brand, d. 1264 ; Abbot Runolf, d. 1307 ; Bishop Lawrence's son Arni, c. 1330 ; Abbot Berg, e. 1340, &c. A paraphrase of the historical books of the Bible was made by Bishop Brand, d. 1264, called Gydinga Sogur. About 1310 King Hakon V. ordered a commentary on the Bible to be made, which was completed down to Exodus xix. To this Brand's work was afterwards affixed, and the whole is known as Stiom. The Norse version of the famous Barlaam and Josaphat, made for Prince Hakon, c. 1240, must not be forgotten.
The post-classical literature falls chiefly under three heads, Post-religious, literary, and scientific. Under the first comes foremost classical the noble translation of the New Testament by Odd Gottskalksson, litera-son of the bishop of Holar. Brought up in Norway, he travelled ture. in Denmark and Germany, and took upon him the new faith before Re; he returned to Iceland, where he became secretary to Bishop ligions Ogmund of Skalholt. Here he began by translating the Gospel of works. Matthew into his mother-tongue in secret. Having finished the remainder of the New Testament at his own house at Olves, he took it to Denmark, where it was printed at Roskild in 1540. Odd afterwards translated the Psalms, and several devotional works of the day, Corvinus's Epistles, &c. He was made lawman of the north and west, and died from a fall in the Laxa in Kios, June 1556. Three years after his death the first press was set up in Iceland by John Matthewson, at Breidabolstad, in Hunafloe, and a Gospel and Epistle Book, according to Odd's version, issued from it in 1562. In 1584 Bishop Gudbrand, who had brought over a splendid fount of type from Denmark in 1575 (which he completed with his own hands), printed a translation of the whole Bible at Holar, incorporating Odd's versions and some books (Proverbs and the Son of Sirach, 1580) translated by Bishop Gizar, but supplying most of the Old Testament himself. This fine volume has been the basis of every Bible issued for Iceland till 1826, when it was replaced by a bad modern version. For beauty of language and faithful simplicity of style the finer parts of this version, especially the New Testament, have never been surpassed in any tongue ; they stand worthily beside the work of Tyndale, Luther, and Ulfila, foremost monuments of the Teutonic tongues.
The most notable theological work Iceland ever produced is the Postill-Book of Bishop John Widalin (1666-1720), whose bold homely style and stirring eloquence made "John's Book," as it is lovingly called, a favourite in every household, till in the present century it has been replaced for the worse by the more sentimental and polished Danish tracts and sermons. Theological literature is very popular, and many works on this subject, chiefly translations, will be found in the lists of Icelandic bibliographers.
The Renaissance of Iceland dates from the beginning of the 17th Literary century, when a school of antiquarians arose and betook themselves works, to the task of reconstructing their country's history from the remains their pious care gathered and preserved. Arngrim Jons-son's Brevis Commentarius, 1593, and Crymogcea, 1609, were the first-fruits of this movement, of which Bishops Odd, Thorlak, and Bryniulf (worthy parallels to Parker and Laud) were the wise and earnest supporters. The first (d. 1630) collected much material for church history. The second (d. 1656) saved Sturlunga and the Bishops' Lives, encouraged John Egilsson to write his New Hunger-waker, lives of the bishops of the Dark Ages and Reformation, and helped Biorn of Skardsa (d. 1655), a bold and patriotic antiquary (whose Annals continue Einar's), in his researches. The last (d. 1675) collected a fine library of MSS., and employed the famous copyist John Erlendsson, to whom and the bishop's brother, John Gizurarsson (d. 1648), we are much beholden for transcripts of many lost MSS.
Torfams (1636-1719) and Bartholin, a Dane (d. 1690), roused the taste for northern literature in Europe, a taste which has never since flagged ; and soon after them Arni Magnusson transferred all that remained of vellum and good paper MSS. in Iceland to Den-mark, and laid the foundations of the famous library and bequest, for which all Icelandic students are so much beholden. For over forty years Arni stuck to his task, rescuing every scrap he could lay hands on from the risks of the Icelandic climate and careless-ness, and when he died in 1730, aged fifty-seven, only one good MSS. remained in the island. Besides his magnificent collection, there are a few MSS. of great value at Upsala, at Stockholm, and in the old royal collection at Copenhagen. Those in the university library in the latter city perished in the fire of 1728. Sagas were printed at Upsala and Copenhagen in the 17th century, and the Arna-Magnan fund has been working since 1772. In that year appeared also the first volume of Bishop Finn Johnsson's Historia Ecclesiastica Islandice, a work of high value and much erudition, containing not only ecclesiastical but civil and literary history, illustrated by a well-chosen mass of documents, 870-1740. It has been continued by Bishop P. Peterson to modern times, 1740-1840. The results, however, of modern observers and scholars must be sought for in the periodicals, Safn, Felagsrit, Ny Felagsrit, and others. John Espolin's Arbcekr is very good up to its date, 1821.
By far the best history of Icelandic classic literature is the bril-liant sketch by Dr Vigfusson, Prolegomena to Sturlunga Saga, Oxford, 1879, to which we must here acknowledge our obligations. It replaces much earlier work, especially the Sciagraphia of Halfdan Einarson, 1777, and the Saga-BibKotek of Millier. The numerous editions of the classics by the Icelandic societies, the Danish Société des Antiquités, Nordiske Literatur Samfund, and the new Gammel Nordisk Literatur Samfund, the splendid Norwegian editions of Unger, the labours of the Icelanders Sigurdsson and
Gislason, and of those foreign scholars in Scandinavia and Germany who have thrown themselves so heartily into the work of illustrating, publishing, and editing the sagas and poems (men like Munch, Bugge, Bergmann, Möbius, and Maurer, to name only a few), can only be referred to here. Seien- The first modern scientific work is the Iter per patriam of Eggert tific Olafsson and Biarni Paulsson, which gives a careful and correct works, account of the physical peculiaritiesfauna, flora, &c.of the island as far as could be done at the date of its appearance, 1772. The island was first made known to " the world by this book and by the sketch of Unno von Troil, a Swede, who accompanied Sir Joseph Banks to Iceland in 1772, and afterwards wrote a series of "letters" on the land and its literature, &e. This tour was the forerunner of an endless series of " travels," of which those of Hooker (1809), Mackenzie (1810), Henderson (1818), Gaimard (1838-43), Paijkull (1867), and, lastly, that of Captain Burton, an excellent account of the land and people, crammed with informa-tion of every kind (1875), are the best.
The maps by Olson and his colleagues, by Gunnlaugson, and by the French Admiralty are good. Kälund's work on the historical geography of the island is valuable and interesting. Safn and other periodicals above mentioned contain many able papers on scientific and sociological matters. Iceland is an interesting field for the pathologist and physician, and numerous medical treatises, Icelandic and foreign, have attacked it. Dr Hjaltalin, the present medical director, is perhaps the best modern authority.
The cathedral high school merged into a college in 1801, which was fixed at Bessastad during its palmiest days (1805-46), and is now at Reykjavik. Among its lists of masters several distinguished names figure, for example, Sweinbiorn Egilsson, whose Homeric translations were issued as college "programs." A law school has been recently formed at Reykjavik and a technical school at Mö'druvellir. The museum and library, both at Reykjavik, still in the rudimentary state, are to be newly housed and extended. Miscel- Iceland is emphatically a land of proverbs, which occur on laneons. almost every page of the dictionary, while of folk-tales, those other-keys to the people's heart, there is plentiful store. Early work in this direction was done by Jon Gudmundsson, Olaf the Old, and John Olafsson in the 17th century, who all put traditions on paper, and their labours have been completed by the magnificent collection of Jon Arnason (1862-64), who, inspired by the example of the Grimms, spent great toil on his self-imposed task. Many tales are but weak echoes of the sagas ; many were family legends, many the old fairy tales we all know so well, dressed in a fresh garb suited to their new northern home; but, besides all these, there are a number of traditions and superstitions not found elsewhere, the mass of which is of indigenous growth and origin. Some of Arnason's collections have been put into English by Messrs J. G. G. Powell and E. Magnusson, and Sir G. Dasent.
A few translations of popular and famous books, such as the Arabian Nights, one or two classics, and a tale, Piltr og StuTka (" Lad and Lass "), 1850, complete the notabilities of Icelandic biblio-graphy. Mr Lidderdale has prepared a list of Icelandic-printed books, which it is hoped may be published ; the excellent Catalogus of Möbius is of use for dates, &c., of editions.
Unlike England and France, Iceland has had but one golden age of literature upon which all her fame must rest. Of its creations it has been truly said that they fill a place none others could take in the high ranks of Aryan classics. The noblest of them are dis-tinguished by pure and strict form, noble heroic subject, and simple truthful self-control of style and treatment, free alike from over-wrought sentiment or extravagant passion, and raised equally above euphemism and commonplace, but ever inspired by a weird iEschylean power, grim and tender, and splendid as that which breathes through those historical books of the Old Testament, to which alone should the masterpieces of Iceland's greatest writers be compared.
The relations of Icelandic to the other Teutonic tongues may be best shown by a chronological treatment. It presents the following anomalies:on the one hand, it has a highly inflexional grammar, a pure vocabulary, and a simple syntax, points which would place it side by side with Gothic; but, on the other hand, it shows such strong marks of contraction and such deep phonetic changes, especially in the vowels, as can only be paralleled in the modern English. It is further noteworthy for its unity or lack of dialectic variation, and possesses exceptional advantages for the philologist in the com-plete seri3s of documents dating from the 11th century downwards in which its history may be most accurately and minutely studied.
There is little doubt but that the Teutonic tribes of the 4th cen-tury all spoke one language, that, in fact, of which the remains of tJlfila (which may be supplemented by a few inscriptions, such as those of the Golden Horn and the earliest Danish rune-stones, and a few stray words preserved in classic authors) afford us such a noble specimen. The first differentiation occurred when the English colony separated in the 5th century from the parent stock, and, following its own course of development, already by the time of Bede presented many new and peculiar characteristics in form and vocabulary. With the changes which produced the High German dialects it does not behove us to deal here, so we may pass on to the Viking Tide (775-925), the results of which were felt over a wide area, and are evidenced by the changes which gave to the tongue of those, tribes that took part in it a distinctly Scandinavian character.
Just as the earlier movement left its mark in Old English, so this one is clearly seen in the speech of the Scandinavian colonies of the West, especially in Icelandic, but it is still well marked in the Eastern Scandinavian dialectsSwedish, Danish, &c, as the fol-lowing points common to all east and west, and marking them off clearly from all other Teutonic tongues, will show :strong stem-contraction reducing all words as far as possible to a trochaic form; i-umlaut carried out very fully and consistently; the suffixing of the article ; and a peculiar vocabulary wdiich has chosen out of the common Teutonic stock certain words for daily use, rejecting others which are common to all the other sister tonguese.g., eld for fire, ekkia for widoio, gamol for old, eigi for not, ok for and, gora for do, taka for niman, &c. The later Danish rune-stones and those of Sweden, published by Wimmer, Save, Dybeek, &c., will be the best documents for this stage of the Scandinavian tongue.
We may now leave the Eastern Scandinavian dialects to follow their own course, which has led them through a path not entirely dissimilar to that which English has taken, and confine ourselves to the Western Colonial dialects. Those in their earliest monu-ments, the rune-stones of Man, the coins of the " Danish " kings and earls in Ireland and England, the lays of the Western poets in the Edda collection, and the earliest poetry of such Icelandic bards as Egill and Kormak, exhibit certain idiosyncrasies which show them to have already started on their own career. Such are the u-umlaut, the loss of to before r and I, the simplification of the vowel system (all aggravations, as it were, of the Scandinavian peculi-arities noticed above, while their vocabulary is, as one would expect, affected by the introduction of many English, Gaelic, and Latin words, especially those relating to ideas unknown in earlier heathen days, ecclesiastical terms, &c.). Of these western colonies we are only concerned with the most important, Iceland; the Orkneys and Hebrides have no linguistic monuments later than the Edda lays of the 10th and 11th, and epigonic poetry and rhymed gradus-jingles of the 12th century; the influence of the Danes on our dialects and book-English must be left to English philologists; while in Ireland only a few personal and local names now betray to the ear the former presence of the Ostman.
The fact that one of the first Icelandic writers, c. 1120, Ari's Earliest contemporary, Thorodd, is a grammarian, and one of no mean power, stage of is our greatest help towards ascertaining the phonesis of the tongue Ice-during the heroic age; and his evidence is supplemented by the landic, Icelandic poets, whose strict adherence to metres, which depend for their effect on a delicate harmony of sound and a rigid observance of quantity, is absolutely to be trusted. Thorodd's scheme for the proper phonetic representation of Icelandic (wdiich the English student may contrast with that of Orm, our first spelling reformer) is briefly as follows. The letters b,c,d,f,g,l,m,n,p,r,s,t, are used in their ordinary classic values (c always hard), the capitals B,K,D,F, G,L,M,N,P,K,S,T, being employed for the doubled letters Vb, &c. (each consonant of these doubles was of course separately and dis-tinctly pronounced as in Italian now, and, as Mr A. J. Ellis has proved, in Latin formerly); J> is used as in Old English for th; h for the aspirate pure or combined hi, hn, &c.; both these are of unvary-ing form; x for cs, gs, and rj for ng can only be found in medial and final positions. Thus we get twenty-eigl. t consonants. The vowels, a,e,i,o,u,y,ce,m long and short, have their ordinary values [pal. a,e,i,0,u,i,E,9i and aa, ee, &c], and to them Thorodd has added ao[ce] long and short. All these vowels may also be nasalized, d,e, &c, making twenty-seven in all; i and u, whether consonantal or vocal, do not vary in form. The following points characterize the tongue at this period:adherence to o in the terminations, right employ-ment of the subjunctive, which has since gone completely out of use, retention of s in inflexion and the substantive verb. Quantity was strictly observed in speaking, and also accent, and no doubt people, as in Old England, spoke much more clearly, slowly, and energetically than they do now. The introduction of quantitative metres measured by syllables is no doubt to be ascribed to Celtic influence, as are the line-rhymes and assonances and rhyme-endings, which, as any reader of Snorri's Hatta-tal or Earl Rognwald's Hatta-lykill will see at the first glance, completely separated Ice-landic poetry from the original Teutonic metric of the Continental rune-stones, of Beowulf, and of Havamal.
Thorodd's scheme was unfortunately never used in its strict completeness, but it is partly employed in the following MSS., which are of the highest authority for this era of the Icelandic : Elueidarius, c. 1130, ed. facsimile; Libellus, c. 1150, ed. Mobius; the Law Scroll-fragments affixed by W. Finsen to the end of his ed. of Cod. Regius Grdgds; the Stockholm Homilies, e. 1145, ed. Wisen : Physiologus, AM. 673, ed. facsimile; Agrip, c. 1185, ed.
Dahlerup. For others see Table II. Prolegomena to Sturlunga Saga, Oxford, 1879.
The first era of change, ascribed by Dr Vigfusson to about the lifetime of Snorri, is the mark left by the civil wars and the con-nexion with Norway (our 14th century Wars of the Roses transition is in many respects its parallel). It is seen in the normal spelling of the editions of the sagas, &c, and is best exemplified by the famous AM. 132, c. 1300, and the Annates Regii, 1290-1306 (accurately printed in pp. 348-91, vol. ii., Sturlunga Saga, Oxford, 1879),the loss of the s replaced by r, the vanishing of the u-umlauted d, the confusion of 03 and ce, ce and e, ao and eo (the latter of each couple prevailing), the hardening of the dental finals and the blurring of st, sic, &c. into z. This stage of spelling and pronunciation is that which should be adhered to in all works which must be printed in an uniform way, dictionaries, grammars, classic editions, &c. The student may be cautioned not to take the vagaries of Norse scribes, or Noricized Icelanders (such as Hawk) for important phonetic variations.
16th The second era of change is that which accompanied the Refor-
eentury mation, and witnesses to the mental and physical stir produced by
changes, that movement. It is only heard in the spoken tongue (for all
books, saVe a few printed during the last few years, follow the
normal type of the 14th and 15th century MSS. with few variations),
bat it is none the less deep and important. Its leading features
are the loss of quantity and intonation, the confusion of the
vowels y and u, ce and ai, ey and au, au and A, eiii and ey y y
(the latter taking the sound of the former in each case), the diph-
thongization of the long vowels I, e, 6, u,all changes which from
their symmetry must have taken place at one date,the differentia-
tion of doubled and touching consonants, 11, nn, gn, &c, and of
final r. The vocabulary, which during the connexion with Norway
and England through the "Dark Age had been enriched with many
French and English words, now received an important augmentation
in a new religious terminology from Germany, while the intercourse
with Denmark began to leave its mark in loan-words and Danicisms,
the stock of which tended greatly to increase, till a reaction arose in
the present century, which, though excusable, has been carried to
laughable lengths. The metre of Icelandic poetry had begun to
show signs of mediaeval influence (of French origin) even before the
death of Snorri, as a ditty in Sturlunga shows. During the Dark
Age the Rimur metric system, depending largely on time-ending and
burden for new effects though still retaining line rhyme and allitera-
tion (the latter being absolutely essential), revolutionized poetry,
and later the hymns of the Reformation, shaking themselves free
from the somewhat monotonous beat of the Rimur, contain examples
of many new and ingenious metres.
Absence The absence of dialects in Iceland results from the essential unity
of of life in that island, and the lack of any of the conditions which
dialects, during the Middle Ages produced dialects in England, Germany, and France, such as town-life with its guilds and varied interests, the great corporations, ecclesiastical, legal, and medical, which by their necessary use of Latin cut off the most highly educated classes from exercising any influence on the vernacular, and the caste influences of chivalry, &c., which sometimes, as in England, allowed the upper classes to use a separate foreign language. In early times before the Danish conquest there were no dialects, because, life being single, king and serf, soldier and peasant, mer-chant and priest must live and speak alike. So we see in our own days the newspaper, the state school, the railway, the conscription, and the theatre, all tending to bring about in each great European state a sameness of life, thought, and speech through every nook and corner of its area.
The general characteristics of the Icelandic tongue are those of a spoken speech, par excellence,a pure and correct vocabulary well suited to the every-day needs of a pastoral life, a pithy and homely vigour of idiom (this shows especially in the saws and proverbs which often recall those of Spain), a delicacy and regularity of syntax, which can express much with few and simple means, and an accuracy of terminology well becoming a legal-minded people. All these salient characters strike every observer, but the full beauty and power of the tongue as a vehicle of the highest expression can only be tested by a careful study of the masterpieces written in it. No one that has not read the finest chapters of Niala or Olaf Tryggvasson's Life, the Tales of Snorri, or a Gospel in Odd's trans-lation, not to speak of other works almost equally worthy of mention, can judge fairly of the capacity, force, and sweetness of this most classic language.
A few words are due to those whose labours have rendered the Philo-task of mastering it easy and pleasant. The oldest philologist, logical Thorodd, has been noticed; an anonymous grammarian of the works*, next generation, c. 1175, attempted a classification of letters and sounds; Sturla's brother Olaf, the White Poet, applied the figures, &c., of Donatus and Priscian to Icelandic, in which task he was followed by a continuator. All these treatises were published along with the Thulur, rhymed glossaries (compiled in the Western Islands, probably in the Orkneys), in vol. ii. of the AM. edition of the Edda, to a MS. of wdiich they are found affixed, Copenhagen, 1832.
Of modern works, those of Rask, the founder of modern Icelandic philology, Egillson, the learned author of the Poetic Lexicon, other-wise well known by his translation of Homer, and Fritzner, the first real Icelandic lexicographer, deserve reverent mention. But for all practical purposes their labours have been superseded and their designs fulfilled by Dr Gudbrand Vigfusson, whose Icelandic-English Dictionary, Oxford, 1869-75, must, whether one looks to its scientific philology, completeness, accuracy, or arrangement, be pronounced the best existing dictionary of any Teutonic tongue. It comprises a grammar and phonology, &c. The university of Oxford has recently published, under the editorship of Messrs Vigfusson and Powell, a very complete Icelandic Prose Reader. In the scattered opuscula of Dr Bugge, as well as in his notes to the poetic Edda, are to be found many interesting "equations" and observations on the langauge and comparative mythology of Scandinavia.
To English philologists the study of Icelandic is of high import-
ance, as bearing upon the grammar and vocabulary of our most
important dialect, the Northumbrian, to a scientific knowledge of
which it is absolutely necessary. A list of words occurring in
every-day English which we owe to the Scandinavian settlers of the
Danelaw will be found in the Oxford Icelandic Reader. To Irish
scholars the old northern tongue is also of interest, as not only did
those who spoke it borrow much from their Celtic friends and foes,
but there was also a certain amount of reflex action which it would
be desirable to fully trace out. As the most regular and pure of
the Teutonic dialects, its value to the comparative philologist is-
obvious. See also SCANDINAVIAN LANGUAGES. (F. Y. P.)