A Visit To Iceland And The Scandinavian North By Madame Ida Pfeiffer































































































 - A Visit to Iceland and the Scandinavian North
Translated from German

by Madame Ida Pfeiffer


(From the 1853 Ingram, Cooke - Page 1
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A Visit To Iceland And The Scandinavian North Translated From German

By Madame Ida Pfeiffer

(From the 1853 Ingram, Cooke, and Co. edition.)

ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FIRST EDITION

The success which attended the publication in this Series of Illustrated Works of A Woman's Journey round the World, has induced the publication of the present volume on a country so little known as Iceland, and about which so little recent information exists.

The translation has been carefully made, expressly for this Series, from the original work published at Vienna; and the Editor has added a great many notes, wherever they seemed necessary to elucidate the text.

In addition to the matter which appeared in the original work, the present volume contains a translation of a valuable Essay on Icelandic poetry, by M. Bergmann; a translation of an Icelandic poem, the 'Voluspa;' a brief sketch of Icelandic History; and a translation of Schiller's ballad, 'The Diver,' which is prominently alluded to by Madame Pfeiffer in her description of the Geysers. {1}

The Illustrations have been printed in tints, so as to make the work uniform with the Journey round the World.

London, August 1, 1852.

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

"Another journey - a journey, moreover, in regions which every one would rather avoid than seek. This woman only undertakes these journeys to attract attention."

"The first journey, for a woman ALONE, was certainly rather a bold proceeding. Yet in that instance she might still have been excused. Religious motives may perhaps have actuated her; and when this is the case, people often go through incredible things. At present, however, we can see no just reason which could excuse an undertaking of this description."

Thus, and perhaps more harshly still, will the majority judge me. And yet they will do me a grievous wrong. I am surely simple and harmless enough, and should have fancied any thing in the world rather than that it would ever be my fate to draw upon myself in any degree the notice of the public. I will merely indicate, as briefly as may be, my character and circumstances, and then I have no doubt my conduct will lose its appearance of eccentricity, and seem perfectly natural.

When I was but a little child, I had already a strong desire to see the world. Whenever I met a travelling-carriage, I would stop involuntarily, and gaze after it until it had disappeared; I used even to envy the postilion, for I thought he also must have accomplished the whole long journey.

As I grew to the age of from ten to twelve years, nothing gave me so much pleasure as the perusal of voyages and travels. I ceased, indeed, to envy the postilions, but envied the more every navigator and naturalist.

Frequently my eyes would fill with tears when, having ascended a mountain, I saw others towering before me, and could not gain the summit.

I made several journeys with my parents, and, after my marriage, with my husband; and only settled down when it became necessary that my two boys should visit particular schools. My husband's affairs demanded his entire attention, partly in Lemberg, partly in Vienna. He therefore confided the education and culture of the two boys entirely to my care; for he knew my firmness and perseverance in all I undertook, and doubted not that I would be both father and mother to his children.

When my sons' education had been completed, and I was living in peaceful retirement, the dreams and aspirations of my youth gradually awoke once more. I thought of strange manners and customs, of distant regions, where a new sky would be above me, and new ground beneath my feet. I pictured to myself the supreme happiness of treading the land once hallowed by the presence of our Saviour, and at length made up my mind to travel thither.

As dangers and difficulties rose before my mind, I endeavoured to wean myself from the idea I had formed - but in vain. For privation I cared but little; my health was good and my frame hardy: I did not fear death. And moreover, as I was born in the last century, I could travel ALONE. Thus every objection was overcome; every thing had been duly weighed and considered. I commenced my journey to Palestine with a feeling of perfect rapture; and behold, I returned in safety. I now feel persuaded that I am neither tempting Providence, nor justly incurring the imputation of wishing to be talked about, in following the bent of my inclinations, and looking still further about me in the world I chose Iceland for my destination, because I hoped there to find Nature in a garb such as she wears nowhere else. I feel so completely happy, so brought into communion with my Maker, when I contemplate sublime natural phenomena, that in my eyes no degree of toil or difficulty is too great a price at which to purchase such perfect enjoyment.

And should death overtake me sooner or later during my wanderings, I shall await his approach in all resignation, and be deeply grateful to the Almighty for the hours of holy beauty in which I have lived and gazed upon His wonders.

And now, dear reader, I would beg thee not to be angry with me for speaking so much of myself; it is only because this love of travelling does not, according to established notions, seem proper for one of my sex, that I have allowed my feelings to speak in my defence.

Judge me, therefore, not too harshly; but rather grant me the enjoyment of a pleasure which hurts no one, while it makes me happy.

THE AUTHOR.

VISIT TO ICELAND

CHAPTER I

In the year 1845 I undertook another journey; {2} a journey, moreover, to the far North. Iceland was one of those regions towards which, from the earliest period of my consciousness, I had felt myself impelled. In this country, stamped as it is by Nature with features so peculiar, as probably to have no counterpart on the face of the globe, I hoped to see things which should fill me with new and inexpressible astonishment.

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