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Saabye suggests a plan for exploring East Greenland, which it appears could be carried into effect without much difficulty. It is simple enough. He proposes that settlements or 'loges' should be established one by one along the west coast till the line reaches Statenhook; and that then the settlers should turn the corner, and ascend the eastern coast in the same manner. When Saabye wrote, Julianshaab had not been settled; now the Danes have an outlying post even at Statenhook—half the line has therefore been formed. No danger is to be apprehended from the Greenlanders who inhabit the eastern coast, some of whom occasionally visit Julianshaab. The J alters, whom we shall soon mention, may be more terrific.
Thorhallersen's description of the ruins of the ancient Norwegian buildings at Julianshaab, and at other spots on the west coast, is now before us. The present colonists are able to breed cattle at Julianshaab, though not at the more northern settlements. The Norwegian houses, or the ruins supposed to have been Norwegian houses, are generally situated near a salmon stream. The walls are very thick and massy, more so than their height would seem to require. We suspect that the courses were laid without mortar. Over one of the streams at' Bals revier* is an ancient bridge, consisting of large flat stones,' which, besides forming a road over the stream, must have been of great use in assisting them to catch the fish.' Eggers assumed that the numerous vestiges of buildings at Julianshaab indicated a corresponding population, and this was one of the chief arguments by which he attempted to sustain his paradoxical opinion that East Greenland was situated on the west coast. Wormskiold, however, has shewn that such an inference is unwarranted. Many of the ruins were probably only inhabited in the hunting or fishing season. Others seem to have been farm-houses or cottages equally used as temporary residences: this he elucidates by explaining the custom of Norway. The Norwegian peasants are used to shift their cattle from pasture to pasture as the season advances and the grass is consumed; and at each of the spring and summer grazing farms, which are sometimes at a considerable distance from one another, they have a dwelling house with suitable byres and yards. The scanty herbage of Greenland would render it still more necessary to adhere to this course of farming; and thus buildings would be multiplied, although occupied for a short period only in each year.
Marks of husbandry can be traced in the soil, and the grass grows rank round the unroofed walls, which are standing in silence and solitude. The Greenlanders yet retain some remembrance of the former indwellers of the ruins. They boast that their ancestors overcame the ' Kablunaet,' or Europeans; and 'Pisiksarbik,'' the place of bow-shooting/ received its name from that war of desola
tion. Near the ruins which are supposed to have constituted the Norwegian settlement Annarvig, there is an ancient burial-place. Dead men's bones start through the grassy turf; and the Greenlanders know that they are the bones of the Northmen, and they yet fear to disturb them.
Let us now recal the romantic days of the hardy adventurers who sleep beneath the soil of Greenland, by turning to the life of Thorgill, the step-son of Thergrim Orrabeen, distinguished amongst them for his misfortunes and his courage. Like many of the heroes of Iceland his adventures were transmitted to posterity in the shape of a Saga of great but uncertain antiquity. All is not very sooth in these narratives of the olden time; much was believed which reason would reject, and Thorgill's Saga is told in a tone of fond credulity: yet the outline of the story may be considered as correct, and even its exaggerations are no less illustrative of the character and habits of the warlike compeers of the Sea-kings of the north, than the truth itself could be.
Thorgill was of a noble family, rich and powerful. From his youth upwards he had distinguished himself by his prowess against earthly as well as ghostly foes; and when Christianity was announced in Iceland, Thorgill was one of those who first became converts to its doctrines. Thorgill's constancy was destined to experience many trials, and soon after he had abandoned the errors of his ancestors, he dreamt a dream.—Thor came unto him in the night, and his looks were awful.—' III hast thou demeaned thyself to me,' said Thor:—' Thou hast cast the silver which was mine into a stinking pool; but my wrath shall yet reach thee for thy misdeeds.'—' God will help me,' answered Thorgill;—' I am right glad that all consorting between me and thee is now at an end.' Thorgill awoke, and found that the threats of Thor were not idle, the anger of the god had fallen amongst his swine; in a second vision, which troubled his sleep on the following night, Thor repeated his menaces, and was again defied. That same night an ox belonging to Thorgill experienced the ire of the tempting spirit. But on the third night Thorgill slept not, he watched with his cattle, and when he returned home in the morning his body was all livid and bruised. Thorgill told nought of what had befallen him; but the men of Iceland knew well that Thor and Thorgill had wrestled in the gloom. And his cattle died no more.
And now there came tidings from Erick the Red, who sent greetings to Thorgill, and prayed him to come unto him in Greenland. Thorgill was happily married, aud living in ease and honour, but the message of Erick was welcome to the restless warrior. He immediately determined to accept Erick's bidding, which he communicated to Thorey, his faithful consort. Thorey did not listen to
H H 3 it it without anxiety; she was not inclined to quit her home, and she attempted to dissuade her husband from the enterprize. 'My heart misgives me,' said she,' and good hap will not attend us: but betide what may, wherever you go I will follow.'
Thorgill placed his property in Iceland under the management of trusty friends, and embarked with his family and followers. Jostein, the foster-father of Thorey, with his wife Thorgard, consented to share the dangers of the expedition, and the twelve slaves of Thorgill were destined, as he thought, to assist in the cultivation of the colony which he intended to found, little anticipating the misfortune of which they were to be the authors.
Now it chanced that Thorgill's vessel was forced to lie-to in the firth of Leirvog, waiting for a fair wind; and in the night Thorgill dreamt a dream. There came unto him a mighty man, who spake with anger,—' III wilt thou speed on thy voyage unless thou returnest to my faith; but if thou wilt again believe in me, I will yet guard thee from evil.'—' I reck not of thy. care,' exclaimed Thorgill: ' my way is in the hand of Almighty God.'—And Thorgill awoke.
A fair wind rose, and the ship sailed out of the firth; but when they had lost sight of land the wind dropped, and they drifted day after day till meat and drink, began to fail them; and then Thor appeared again to Thorgill and taunted him, but Thorgill answered with defiance. Thorgill's companions, though they knew nothing of his visions, murmured, and said it would be well to make offerings to the deity of Valhalla. This their leader forbade. But Thor appeared to him for the last time, and promised to bring the vessel into a safe haven within seven days if he would believe in him. That will I never do,—was the answer of Thorgill.
After drifting some days longer there came a tempest, and the vessel stranded on the coast of Greenland: Thorgill now felt the deep malignity of the demon. The shipwreck took place at the close of autumn, and the ice-covered mountains rose on each side of the bay into which the vessel had been driven. They succeeded in saving some of their provisions from the wreck, but these were soon exhausted, with the exception of a small portion of meal; and the seals, or sea-dogs, which were caught by Thorgill and his companions in misfortune, constituted their chief food. In this miserable spot, and destitute of all help, Thorey was delivered of a boy, to whom they gave the name of Thorfind.
Yule came on,—the weather was fine on the morning of the cheerless festival:—as the sun rose on Yule-day, it seems they were notAvithin the polar circle.—When Thorgill and his men went out a loud scream was heard from the north-west. The short day closed, and TborgiU and Thorey retired to sleep. 'Be still and quiet at night-fall,' was the warning which Thorgill had given to his companion Jostein and his followers,' and keep to your faith.' Much was imported by this counsel; for Thorgill knew of the spectral foes who might assail them. Jostein and the rest came in with noise and merriment, and at length they laid themselves to rest, •when a loud knock was heard at the door of the hut. 'Good tidings!' exclaimed one, and rushed out of the hut; when he came in again, he was raving mad, and on the following morning lie died. On the next day the knock was heard again at the door, and another of Jostein's men went out, and fell stark mad, and died; but just before he gave up the ghost he recovered his wits, and told them how he saw the man who died yestermom flitting before him. And then a pestilence came'amongst Jostein's men, and six of them, together with Jostein himself, died, and were buried in the frozen snow. After Yule-tide the vampire corpses all rose out of their graves. The pestilence broke out afresh, and Thorgerd and all the survivors of Jostein's men fell sick and died before the end of the month Goe. These also became vampires in their turn, and swarmed day and night about Thorgill and his followers; they were mostly seen in that part of the hut where they had dwelt while living. At length Thorgill dug the bodies out of the snow, and burnt them in a bale fire, and the living were then at rest.
Now Thorey dreamt a dream. She saw fair groves and flowery gardens, and glorious shapes clad in bright garments. 'And I hope,' said she, when she told it to Thorgill,' that we shall soon be freed from our hardships.' 'Good indeed is thy dream,* answered Thorgill, ' for it points thee to that home where good shall alway befal thee, and where, amongst the holy ones, thy spotless life and patient sufferings shall meet with their reward.'
Thorey often besought Thorgill to devise some means of escaping from this land of desolation, but he answered that he could tind none. One day, however, he said that he would go up the ice-mountain to see if the ice were loosening itself from the land, which he did with his companions Thorlief, and Kol, and Stackard, leaving Thorey in the care of the slaves. They came back in the afternoon, and as they approached their hut they observed that the boat was no longer drawn up on the land. On entering the rude dwelling it was empty. Thorgill now apprehended that evil had happened. They stood still, and a slight convulsive sob was heard from Thorey's couch. They went up to it in eager haste, but she was breathless, and the little child was still sucking at the breast of the corpse.
Thorgill built himself a canoe; the ice now began to drift away from the land, and he and his men were able to row along the coast to Salone. There they remained during the following
H H 4 winter
winter. They continued advancing with caution until they reached a part of the coast bordered by steep icy mountains, and here they drew their canoe on shore and pitched their tent. Fresh trials awaited them. When morning dawned the canoe had disappeared. Thorgill now despaired; but at night he was visited by dreams of
J'oyful import; and lis knew that better fortune was near at hand. A oud voice was heard summoning the Icelanders to receive their boat again; and two gigantic women were seen for an instant by the Icelanders, then disappearing: these beings had carried off the canoe, and by them it was restored. And in this frail bark Thorgill and his men coasted along, till at length they reached first some straggling tents, the dwelling-place of one v\ho had ' foifeited his law/ and then the settlements of Erick die Red, the mam Icelandic colony. The remaining adventures of Thorgill, though highly interesting, are beyond our purview, and therefore, to borrow the usual phrase of the Icelandic historians when their personages make their exit, 'he now goes out of the Saga.'
That Thorgill Orrabeen was really wrecked on the coast of Greenland there is little reason to doubt. With respect to the marvels with which the Saga is embellished or disfigured, they are such as, in au age of credulity, arise out of natural causes and the working* of the human mind. Of these none are more credible in their way than the ominous appearances of the thundering deity: they give a lively and strong attestation of the inward struggles with which our hero received the new faith, at the same time that they prove the sincerity of his conversion.
The gigantic women seen by Thorgill are perhaps magnified in no small degree by the mists of Greenland; but they may be conjectured to have been the wives or sisters of the cannibals of Egede, a people akin to the Jotters, so often mentioned in the Icelandic Eddas. By the followers of Odin, the Jatters were represented as a race of savages towering in height above the rest of men, They dwelt in caves, forming no community, but dispersed in single families; they lived by fishing or the chase, but they despised the food thus earned when human ilesh could be procured, which they considered as a greater delicacy. Jotunheim, their chief seat, was a large tract situated in the very north of Asia, including the Siberian coasts of the frozen ocean and the adjoining countries, stretching westward as far as Finmark, and bounded on the east by the river Oby ; though the J setters frequently wandered, both to the east and west, far beyond each frontier.
Under the names of Thursi and Hrymthesse they were also found dispersed amidst the mountains of Scandinavia where they long continued the hatred and terror of the more civilized Asi, by whom, like the other primitive inhabitants of the north, they