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6 How the ‘ ‘ Mastiffs ’ ’ went to Iceland. The first care was to land certain stores,—tea, sugar, and such like,—which Mr. Burns had brought as a present to the people. It is the necessity of their position that such aid should be essential almost to their existence. Then we walked up among the cottages, buying woollen stockings and sea-birds’ eggs, such being the commodities they had for sale. Some coarse cloth we found there also, made on the island from the wool grown there, of which some among us bought sufficient for a coat, waistcoat, or petticoat, as the case may be. They are a comely, good-looking people, bearing no outward signs of want. So much I am bound to say on their behalf. But their general condition is such as to have made me at least lament that so small an island, so far removed from the comforts of the mainland, should have become the abode of a few families. It is about forty-five miles from the nearest of the large inhabited islands,—forty-five miles, that is, from humanity; but St. Kilda is in itself so small that there is no ready mode for traversing that distance. There is no communication by steamer, except such a chance coming as that of ours. The whole wealth of the small community cannot command more than a small rowing- boat or two. When we landed, the men were in sore distress for a few fathoms of rope, which they obtained from the liberality of Mr. Burns. It was thus apparent that they were excluded from the world, as so many Robinson Crusoes ; and though the life of a Robinson Crusoe, or a few Robinson Crusoes, may be very picturesque, humanity will always desire to restore a Robinson Crusoe back to the community of the world. The island is about two-and-a-half miles long, and about seven in circum- ference; the highest land is about 1,200 feet high. As I have stated before, it contains about thirty acres of cultivated land, lying just in front of the cottages, on which potatoes and oats are grown. But it appeared, even in regard to this land, that it cannot return more than three to one for the seed committed to the earth. Within the memory of some of the inhabitants the returns were nearly treble what they are now. When the labour is counted up, the value of the land, and the difficulty of carrying seed to such a place,-—the produce of the
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How the Mastiffs went to Iceland

Ár
1878
Tungumál
Enska
Blaðsíður
98