In 1874, the Danish king, Christian IX, visited Iceland for the first time. He brought with him a constitution for the Icelanders. It was not a document giving them independence but it was a beginning that would eventually lead to Iceland’s independence from Denmark.
Iceland was originally settled when Norwegian farmers fled the rule of King Harald. These were not Vikings set out to conquer but farmers who didn’t want to have to swear allegiance to this ambitious king who was consolidating small areas under his rule. These settlers brought cows, sheep, horses, families, slaves. They wanted land and independence. For a time they had that. However, because of internal conflict and bloodshed, a treaty was signed in 1262 with Norway and the descendants of those who had risked everything to escape Norway’s rule voluntarily placed themselves in a union with Norway that, in essence, made them subject to Norway.
In 1380 the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway were united and, since Iceland was considered part of Norway, Iceland came under Denmark’s control. The Danes had no need of Iceland’s exports but were able to exploit Iceland for whatever value they could find. The result was hundreds of years of exploitation and poverty.
June 17 is celebrated because it is the birthday of Jon Sigurðsson. While many people worked to obtain Iceland´s indpendence, Jon was considered the leader of the independence movement.
There were many stages to the gaining of independence. However, the king´s visit in 1874 was the critical first step. The king still held the power of a veto over the decisions made in Iceland. However,he had come to Iceland. He´d stood on Icelandic soil. He´d met the people. He´d gone to see the wonder of the Great Geyser and even though the Great Geyser was unimpressed by royalty and didn´t spout, the king had still camped there in the midst of the blasted wilderness. He dined at Thingveller and met Iceland´s upper class, the well-to-do farmers. Perhaps the most telling detail of the king’s visit was that n neither he nor his son could speak Icelandic. The king could not speak to his subjects unless they spoke Danish.
Change is often a slow process. The constitution was revised in 1903. A minister of Icelandic affairs who was to live in the capital city, Reykjavik, was appointed. In 1918 Iceland was recognized at the Kingdom of Iceland. In 1944, Iceland was recognized as a fully independent country.
On this June 17, think on this process. The agitation for independence and self-rule began well before the visit of Christian IX. The process went on for 70 years. With not a shot fired. With no  houses blown up. With no children murdered. This is utterly remarkable, not just on the side of the Icelanders but, also, on the side of the Danes. Think on Libya, on Syria, on the French Revolution, on Ireland, on Ethiopia, on the disintegration of Jugoslavia, on, on, on.
Let us celebrate June 17th in 2012 with prayers for all those vocal and silent Icelanders who were determined to have independence but let us also let us pray for those in Denmark who listened, who thought, who agreed and negotiated in good faith. Let us give thanks for the violence that did not occur, the deaths that did not happen.
Praying seems to be out of fashion today. But science won’t give thanks to those Icelanders and Danes who, over a long period, gave the world a lesson that was and is badly needed. Ask the dead in Homs how they would have valued a dialogue, a conversation, an argument, a dispute in words, in a framework where murdering children was not an option. ]
Celebrate Jon Sigurðsson for the world is desperately in need of more Jon Sigurðssons. But celebrate more than Jon Sigurðsson. Celebrate what, in human history, was a remarkable event, so remarkable that it has left nations friends instead of enemies.

Jón Bjarman: Memories a Year Later

Hanna Katrín Pálsdóttir and Jon Bjarman with son Pall shortly after they came to Lundar in Nov. 1958

by Nina Lee Colwill

When Jón Bjarman died on March 17, 2011, his loss was keenly felt in many places. And today, a year later, his absence continues to arouse bittersweet memories. For Jón touched numerous lives in his 78 years.  As his longterm friend and fellow pastor, Ingthor Isfeld said, “I remember Jón as a good conversationalist, a patient and empathetic listener, and a trustworthy friend, with a cup of coffee in hand.”

It would be easy to write about Jón’s many accomplishments: author; pastor to congregations in Canada and Iceland; pastor in towns and hospitals and prisons; advocate for the humane treatment of prisoners worldwide; and a driving force behind and lifetime president of the International Christian Youth Exchange (ICYE).  But Jón was far more than the sum of his achievements, and this is a tribute, not to his professional acumen, but to the love and admiration he engendered in others.

It’s difficult to think about Jón without thinking of Jóhanna Katrín Pálsdóttir—his Hanna. They were born less than a month apart; they fell in love at 16, married at 21, and spent the next 57 years together in Canada, USA, and Iceland. Their hospitality is legendary—a tradition that Hanna continues with joy.

The founding of the Lundar Luther League, March 1959 Back row: Chris Erlendson, Norman Johnson, Michael Danielson, Ken Sigurdson and Jón; Middle row: Donald Coldwell, Linda (Rafnkelsson) Williamson, Lorne Foster, Joan (Andrews) Proctor and Hope (Olson) McNeil; Front row: Bill Breckman, Ethel (Arnason) Desjarlais, Margaret Johnson and Judy (Danielson) Thorsteinson
One of Jón’s most telling characteristics was the affection he inspired in children and teenagers. He worked tirelessly for ICYE and with teenagers in Lundar Manitoba, Akureyri, and Reykjavík. As his granddaughter, Hanna, wrote in Morgunblaðið, Our grandfather had a way with children. He treated us all with respect, and we felt our opinions were always fully valid. We had long discussions on all kinds of topics, and when we were a bit older, he became our most important teacher… Our grandparents were tireless in taking us to see a play, a movie, an exhibition, or just out to dinner.”1

Jón and Hanna with their grandchildren 1997
Jón was a brilliant writer who switched languages with ease.  His ability to bring his love of language into conversation was a constant joy to everyone who knew him.  Johann Ulfar Sigurdsson lived with the family for awhile: “During my time with Jón and Hanna in Lundar,” he said, “I realized that Jón had a very carefree and fun side to his personality and a keen sense of humour. Language fascinated him—such as the frequently humorous outcome when Icelandic and English were mixed together. He then started to mix the languages deliberately, creating some humorous outcomes.

Some twenty years ago, Jón was faced with a situation that would challenge the magnanimous spirit of the strongest person.  He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But even here his equanimity prevailed.  As he wrote in his book, Af föngum og frjálsum mönnum (Of Free Men and Jailed): “It is better to make fun of oneself and not to take oneself too seriously … Hanna…has not shown me pity, but treated me the same as before, made the same demands of me, and never viewed me as a patient.  Nevertheless she is considerate of me, stands by my side, and follows me in joy and sorrow.”2

Jón’s work life and personal life were so inextricably intertwined that people like Conrad Sigurdson, a friend of Jón and Hanna’s for over half a century, could easily envision him in work situations: “He was intelligent, kind, patient, and generous. He lived and worked for others. I can imagine how patient he was in his affiliation with the prisons and in his dedication to his work with international students.” 

Hanna and Jón on a cruise in the Mediterranean, Sept.2000
Even in his routine professional tasks – like the conducting of marriage ceremonies – Jón brought his unique poetic touch. In 2000 he married our daughter Erla Louise Colwill Anderson and our son-in-law, Ármann Ingólfsson in Akureyri, and, like the rest of us, Ármann marvelled at the way Jón “wove the histories of our two families together, mentioning my afi’s work in growing Kjarni Forest and talking about Erla’s ancestors, some of whom lived on the Kjarni Farm. He drew an analogy between planting trees in a barren place and consoling and encouraging people in desperate situations.  It made me think of Jón’s work with prisoners and hospital patients.  I can’t think of a person I would rather have had presiding over our wedding.”

Conrad Sigurdson sums it up perfectly: “Over the years we shared in all that Jón was to others.  Thinking of Jón brings good memories of a beautiful friend and wonderful friendship.  Our world is a better place because Jón was a part of it.”


1 Translation by Páll Jónsson, son of Hanna Pálsdóttir and Jón Bjarman

2 Translation by Ármann Ingólfsson, son of Hrefna Hjálmarsdóttir and Ingólfur Ármannsson
(This article was first published in Lögberg-Heimskringla, Canada’s oldest ethnic newspaper. LH is published in English and on-line subscriptions are available.)

At Last, In Iceland, 1900

And so, your wooden boxes for the horses are ready, your fishing equipment is packed, also your shotgun and shells. You’ve got flannel shirts, some woollen underclothing, a good stout mackintosh. You’ve a bottle of that good Scotch whiskey the guidebook recommends.
According to the guide book–remember it is the year 1900–“pack saddles, guides, and ponies can be hired, the usual charge for a pony and a saddle being 2 kroner per diem, and that for a guide from 4 to 6 kroner per diem, the kroner being equivalent to about 1 shilling 1 pence. Guides and tents can be hired at the capital—Reykjavik. It may be well to mention, however, that tents for those who wish them are usually obtainable from most of the farmers. This saves the trouble and expense transporting them about the country.”
Now, that surprised me. I, for one, didn’t realize that tourism had become such an established business from 1875 to 1900 that farmers kept tents for hire. That didn’t fit in with my impression of Iceland. Interestingly, the short, recommended tour is the same tour that people take today, except today, they go on buses instead of on horseback. The writer recommends Thingveller, Geysir, Mt. Hekla, Gulfoss.
After suggesting that tents can be rented from the farmers, the author cavils a bit and says that while the local people used to charge very little, as Iceland has become more of a tourist attraction, the prices have gone up. Also, most farms only have one tent and that is often old and dilapidated.
The author also suggests that the tourist make certain that he’s got a firm agreement about the price of hay. In this, he’s simply repeating what travelers have commented on since the 1700s. Hay is precious. Some farmers will charge whatever they think they can get for it.
Conditions in Iceland have changed enough that he can say that a night’s lodging “is obtainable almost everywhere throughout the country at the higher class farms, where the best room in the house is invariably reserved for the use of tourists.”
For tourists only visiting Thingveller and the Geysir, there is lots of accommodation. However, for people going farther afield, they have to be careful about their numbers. A party of two can “depend wholly on the farms and parsonages for quarters, and mainly for provisions. At all of the better class farms, there is an abundance of excellent coffee, milk, pancakes, butter, rye bread, smoked, salted, or fresh mutton, and fish…with a few preserved provisions and biscuits, travellers will not fare badly. Of course, at a little expense, another pony can be freighted with say one hundred weight of tinned luxuries and a case or two of wine.”
“The usual charge for a night’s lodging at a farmhouse, with supper and breakfast, varies from 2 to 3 kroner….the daily expense of two tourists travelling together with one guide and their ponies amounts to rather less than 1 pound per day each.” The day of providing shelter and food for travelers without charge but with the giving of a gift, a gift that was often refused, has passed. At one time, a farmer might have one foreigner as a guest in a lifetime. Now, the explorers, the members of Royal Societies, scientists, have been replaced by the curiosity seekers.
Our good Icelandic entrepreneur, Thorgrimur adds a note that nowadays, pasturage for the horses is usually 16 to 20 ore per head, and saddles are charged at 60 ore per day, except when ponies are hired by the month when saddles are free.”
In spite of the much better accommodation, traveling by horse is still hard, the weather unpredictable. Therefore it is recommended that the traveler bring good stout sea-boots, reaching up the thighs and a light pair of porpoise hide shooting-boots for ordinary wear. A good stout macintosh is indispensable and should be made of waterproofed tweed.
The writer emphasizes that everything has to be packed into the wooden boxes made for horse travel. The test of both the packing and the boxes is once they are packed, to roll them down a lengthy flight of stairs.
Reykjavik he praises. “It is pleasantly situated on the shore of a shallow bay on the north of a headland. Seen from a vessel in the harbour, the town has rather a colonial appearance, with its white painted wooden stores built round the curve of the shore with their little jetties stretching far out into the harbour….the streets are broad, and cleanly kept, and the drying of fish is mainly confined to the shore.”
“The chief buildings, none of which can boast of any architectural beauty, are the Cathedral, the Senate, the College, Hospital, Government House, the Antiquarian Museum, and a Free Library.”
“There are two  hotels and a few boarding-houses, in all of which charges are very moderate; a number of stores where everything required by the Icelanders is sold from a needle to an anchor; a post office, two booksellers, a number of silversmiths, printers, harness-makers, photographers, one druggist, a hatter, and several handy-craftsmen.”
This change is absolutely remarkable. In 25 years, Reykjavik has grown, people have been able to break free from the clutches of the farms. They have begun to have professions and trades. Heavens, there is even a road. The author says, “What strikes the stranger most is the almost entire absence of wheeled vehicles, though now that a good road has been made between Reykjavik and Thingvellir, a few vehicles and bicycles are to be seen.” A good road. This is like a miracle. With good roads being built, everything will change.
It has only been 26 years since Christian IX visited and gave the Icelanders their constitution. The picture of Iceland then, given by Bayard Taylor and Samuel Kneeland, or a few years before that, by Richard Burton, was of a populace locked into a rural, agricultural fiefdom which beggared everyone but Danish merchants and a few select farmers. Douglas Scott is giving would-be travelers a picture of a country that while still exotic is changing, is entering a new age.
(With quotes and notes from Sportsman’s and Tourist’s Handbook to Iceland by Douglas Hill Scott)

The Icelandic Wasteland

Wasteland with Words


Sigurdur Gylfi Magnússon

This is a book that every North American of Icelandic descent should own. And read. And reread.

I‘ve read Wasteland once from the beginning to the end. Now, I‘m reading it, one chapter at a time, from the last, then the one that came before it. It may seem a strange way to read a book but I want to read the chapters individually and, at the same time, to move from the present to the past.

I don‘t know why but I had to order my copy from England. This book should be on the shelves of any bookstore where there is an Icelandic North American population. Tergesen‘s should have a case and Lorna shouldn‘t let anyone out of the store without a copy.

The chapters include topics such as Icelandic Connections: The Lure of the New World, Death and Daily Life, Urban Living: Industry, Labour and Living Conditons, The Myth of the Model Woman: Gender Roles in Urban and Rural Iceland, Children in Urban Areas.  That‘s just a sample. Don‘t be scared off by the chapter titles. The writing is easy to read and the details and descriptions clear.

This is the best description in English that I‘ve come across of both historic description of Iceland and the shift to modern day life. Every chapter is worth reading and rereading. This isn‘t a novel or soap opera. The information requires close attention. I found that it made me thoughtful. This is a book the reader wants to understand.

The chapter most directly connected to North Americans of Icelandic descent is the Icelandic Connections: The Lure of the New World. In it, Magnus says , “The Icelanders were the last of the Scandidnavians to start emigrating to the New World. The main emigrations from Norway took place in the 1830s and the ‘40s, from Sweden in the 1840s and ‘50s, from Denmark in the 1850s and ‘60s, and from Finland in the 1860s and ‘70s….By and large the Icelanders stayed put througout the first decades of the second half of the nineteenth century, in spite of difficult conditions at home such as sheep scab, deteriorating climatic conditions and poor fish catches. This failure to follow in the footsteps of their Scandinavian cousins was probably, more than anything else, down to simple lack of opportunity: until around 1870 shipping to and from Iceland remained very infrequent and irregular.“

“Later, after 1874, the shipping companies that arranged passages from Scotland to America started sending special ships to Iceland to pick up passengers. As the turn of the century approached the fare dropped considerably, from around 200 kr. to a little over 100 kr.“

The author discusses, in some detail, the conflict over emigration, with excerpts from various publications. The excerpts make clear how heated the conflict was.

One of the great strengths of the book, for me, is the copious use of quotations.

In the chapter on Urban Living: Industry, Labour and Living Conditions, he tells us that “In the final decades of the nineteenth century Reykjavik developed into the main centre for manufacturing, commerce, service, transportaiton, communicatonsa nd administration. By 1890 its population had grown to almost 3,900, 5.5 per cent of the total population of the country. By 1910 this figure had risen to 11,600 (13.6%), by 1920 to 17,450 (18.5%) and by 1930 to 28,300 (25.8% ).“ The change was not easy.

“In an article in the newspaper Lögrjetta in 1906, ‘Fátæku heimilin í Reykjavik´(The Poor Homes in Rekjavík), another doctor, Steingrimur Matthiasson, gives a graphic account of the conditions in which much of the population of Rekjavik was forced to subsist. Like other family doctors, Steigrimur was well familiar with the situation at first hand from his visits to families throughout the town.

“‘To start with the basement slum on entering or leaving one generally hits one‘s head on the doorframe. Inside it is dark and gloomy as there is no sight of the sun from one end of the year to the next except as a reflectionin the windows of the house opposite. The air is damp and the walls are rotten and covered in mould. There is no proper heating, just a small stove where the food is cooked and the steam from the pot fills the room and mixes in with the foul-smelling air emanating from all the people that huddle there night and day.‘“

The author quotes from many autobiographies. Icelanders are nothing if not honest and they don‘t try to prettify their daily lives.

Toward the end of the book, Magnus takes us into Iceland‘s present. He, like the people who wrote their autobiographies about life on the farms and in early Reykjavik, minces no words.

“Iceland is in some senses a wasteland. One can, if one wishes, see some kind of reflection of the physical surroundings in the Icelanders‘ culutural obsession with literacy, an urge to impose order on the desolation of the Icelandic landscape, to build a wasteland with words. But wasteland can come in other forms. In October 2008 the population of Iceland sat helplessly as the country‘s entire financial, banking and political systems collapsed around them in the course of a few days.“

He goes on to discuss the economic disaster, the kreppa, and what he believes brought it on and what it presages for the future. I find his take interesting but, for me, it‘s the Iceland before the collapse that interests me in this book. I can read all I want about the crash and its aftermath on The Reykjavik Grapevine, Iceland Review, or in numerous other publications.

If you are interested in understanding Icelandic society, its powerful links to its past, the societal forces that moved inexorably toward creating the crash, why your Icelandic relatives behave the way they do, and many other things, buy this book, read it, ponder it. Give a copy to any of your relatives or friends that care about their Icelandic heritage.

There is a letter in this book that is worth the entire price. It is hard today for people to understand how helpless everyone was in the face of disease. Children nowadays get immunization shots as a matter of course. Before such immunization was available, there was nothing to be done when people contracted diptheria. You lived or you died.

A letter by Elin Samúelsdóttir to her brother-in-law after one of her children had died and while her other children were desperately ill with diphtheria is wrenching.

“I am sending you a few lines. I can only write briefly, I feel so wretched, there is so much pain in me. But again it has pleased God to inflict a deep wound on me. I have lost my darling, fair-haired, my little angel, my youngest flower. Oh! My dear friend, there is no way I can describe the sense of loss.”

Read this book and say a prayer for Elin and for all the others who, through no fault of their own, for they did not make the weather cold, nor keep the fish from coming, nor create the diphtheria, the typhoid, the measles, the myriad diseases the spread among the people, suffered greatly but persevered. Heroic are those who get up in the morning in the face of tragedy and milk the sheep and pound the cod, who scythe the hay, who make the best of what they’ve got.

The Dinner Party, Trollope, Reykjavik, 1878

 Sketch by Jemima Wedderburn Blackburn (1823–1909)
It’s 1878. John Burns has come to Iceland from Castle Wemyss on the yacht, Mastiff. He’s brought his wife and fourteen guests. Their purpose is neither academic nor literary. They’re in Iceland to see the famous geysers. In this, they join many other visitors who have come to observe, marvel at and try to understand the geysers.
Iceland is in crises. The weather, volcanic eruption, Danish rule and the stranglehold on the political and economic process by the ultra-conservative landowners has created poverty and hopelessness for many. Iceland is locked into its past by its elite. In the meantime, England has traded canals and coaches for railways. In 1806 the first fare-paying passenger train has gone into service. In 1863, fifteen years before the Mastiff anchors in the harbour at Reykjavik, England has its first subway. By 1800, London has a population of 950,000 and is growing toward what will become a population of 6 million in 1900. Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, may have a population of 2,500. That is what Trollope has been told but from his observations, he doubts the population is that large.
In Iceland, the country suffers from a history of Icelandic bishops determined to ban all frivolity, all entertainment unless it is religious. As well, there are not the resources to purchase the supplies necessary or provide support for the fine arts. The state of Icelandic culture is captured by Halldór Laxness, in his novel, The Fish Can Sing. It presents a tragic picture of an Icelandic singer who is supposed to be a great success in Europe. The local merchants believe that he must be a great singer because he can sing louder than the noise made by eleven hundred pigs a day being butchered in a slaughterhouse in Denmark. In England, that frivolity and leisure activity has turned into a sophisticated culture. The big news of the day is that an Australian cricket team has arrived. Oxford defeats Cambridge in their first golf match. Gilbert/Sullivan’s opera “HMS Pinafore,” premieres in London. What seems most amazing is that “the first rugby match under floodlights takes place in Salford, between Broughton and Swinton.”(Wickipedia) What would the Icelandic bishops thought of all that?
As different as chalk and cheese, the Mastiffs and the Icelanders. At dinner there will be sixteen English, fourteen Icelanders.
The guest list provided by Trollope includes the following:
Governor HILMAR FINSEN, and his wife, Lady OLUFA FINSEN.
Mr. THORBERG (Governor Praefect or Amtman) and his wife.
Mr. A THORSTEINSON (Treasurer)
Bishop P. PJETURSSON, and his wife.
Miss THORA PJETURSSON, his daughter (our particular friend).
Mr. J. PJETURSSON, (Head of the Superior Court.)
Mr. J. THORKELSON (Rector of the Latin College).
Mr. J. ARNASEN (Inspector of the Latin College).
young ladies in full Icelandic costume).
Mr. JON JONSSON (Sheriff of Reykjavik).
(To an Icelander, the one puzzling thing about the guest list is why Thora, so often described for  her beauty, so obviously a woman, and definitely, the daughter of the bishop, would be described as  his son? However, it is an understandable error and, more to the point, it is an indication of what will happen to the Icelandic naming system in North America.)
To celebrate the supper, the Mastiff is decked out with flags and her guns are fired. The Mastiff’s boats collect the Icelandic party and bring the visitors to the ship.
Trollope is seated between the beautiful Thora and the Governor’s wife, Mrs. Finsen. Thora he leaves to entertain other guests and devotes himself to Mrs. Finsen. It is this same Mrs. Finsen who received Christian IX when he came to Reykjavik and did it so well that Bayard Taylor says about her, “The door of the Governor’s house opened and Madame Finsen appeared, dressed in a simple black silk, without any ornaments. She descended the steps of the first garden terrace, curtsied at the right moment to the royal guest, a little less deeply to the Prince, and accompanied them to the door. This sounds like a very simple matter ; but not many ladies would have accomplished it with such admirable grace, tact, and self-possession.”
Mrs. Finsen speaks English and Trollope says that during the course of the dinner that Mrs. Finsen tells him so much of her life that he might know an Englishwoman for thirty years and not learn as much about her. He describes Mrs. Finsen as “comely, brown, pleasant, smiling lady, with a large face, bright eyes, and a look of homely good humour that I have never seen excelled”. It might be a compliment but it has an edge to it and it is impossible not to think of some of the descriptions in Pride and Prejudice of the country behaviours that embarrass Elizabeth.
They have dinner but, alas, there is no menu to show what the visitors brought for this grand meal. What might there have been on the table that would have amazed the Icelanders? When the king banqueted, it was fresh grapes. After dinner there are toasts, then they all go on deck to dance.
Sketch by  Jemima Wedderburn Blackburn (1823–1909)
Trollope is quite interested in the fact that “Thora was dressed as she might have been dressed in Paris or in London….Our other Iceland beauties, Sigridur and Gudrun, were there in the full picturesqueness of their native costume. It was all very unlike the dresses of our own girls, but most unlike no doubt in the head-dress. This consisted of a white hat, with, I think, yellow bands to it, made something in the shape of Minerva’s helmet, with the crest turned forwards. From this depended a light veil covering the shoulders, and hanging down the back, but leaving the face free. Then there was a jaunty jacket, partly open in the centre, with large bright buttons down the front and on the sleeves. The skirt beneath was of some bright colour, projecting forward like an extinguisher, coming even quite down to the ground so as to hide the feet, but with no inclination towards a train. In fact it seemed to be of exactly the same length before and behind. The head-dress, as may be seen in the excellent portrait furnished by our artist, for which Sigridur had that morning sat, is very pretty. The costume as a whole is picturesque and the jacket is becoming.”
After dining and dancing away the night, on Sunday morning, the English have a church service on board the ship, then go to a service at the Reykjavik church. There, Trollope notices that the ladies are all in their Icelandic costumes. He is told that the congregation has been ordered to show off their finery for the visitors.
There may be hunger abroad in the land and people trudging over mountain passes to reach harbours and ships that will take them, they hope, to a better life. There may be people who own little or nothing, who are considered such a burden on Icelandic society that their fares are being paid to North America because it is cheaper to get rid of them than for the sýsla to keep them. But, as always, there are those who are well connected, well paid, well fed, well dressed, well educated, well entertained. No one on the guest list will go hungry the day after the banquet, or a month or year after the banquet; none will dress in rags, will sleep with the cattle, will walk for days over mountain passes and heaths in a desperate hope of a new life in a New Iceland where they can have their own land.
The English guests, having proven excellent hosts and, having met their social obligations, are ready to turn to the true purpose of their trip. To the geysers. The marvelous, legendary geysers. The geysers that, today, still draw busloads of tourists from around the world. Except this trip in 1878 will be made on horseback.
(Quotes from How The ‘Mastiffs’ Went to Iceland, Anthony Trollope)