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of its fishermen might have been driven thither, and left behind them these relics of Christianity ; * or, as Forster supposes, some of the Norman pirates, with their booty, after plundering Ireland, may have directed their course to the westward, and left there these articles of their booty.t
Towards the close of the tenth century, a man of the name of Thorwald, being obliged to fly on account of a murder, set sail for Iceland. His son, Eric Rauda, or Eric the Redhead, having also been guilty of murder and many irregularities, soon followed. The latter set out from hence on an expedition to the westward in 982, and fell in with that part of the east coast of Greenland called Herjolf's Ness, and standing to the southward, entered a large inlet, which was called by him, or after him, Eric's Sound. He passed the winter on a pleasant island in this sound, explored the coast in the following year, and in the third year returned to Iceland; and by a lively description and the most lavish praises of its green and pleasant meadows, and the abundance of fine fish on the coast, he induced a number of settlers to accompany him to this newly discovered country, to which, in comparison of its appearance with Iceland, he gave
this discovery, as given by the northern historian
* Mallet's Northern Antiquities.
Torfæi Groen. Ant.
and Icelandic judge Snorro; but Torfæus and some others contend that this country, as well as Iceland, was known before the times above mentioned; and the grounds for this opinion rest chiefly on the privilege granted to the church of Hamburgh in 834 by Louis the Débonnair, and a bull of Pope Gregory IV., wherein permission is granted to the Archbishop Ansgarius to convert the Sueones, Danes, Sclavonians, Icelanders and Greenlanders; but it is now supposed that the last two names have been interpolated by the church of Hamburgh, with a view to secure to itself certain rights over these countries; and that, the better to carry on this pious fraud, it had falsified the documents. Whether this be really the case or not, the church, it would appear, succeeded in its object, the Norwegian colonies having continued to pay to the bishops and the holy see, in the way of tythe and Peter-pence, two thousand six hundred pounds, in weight, of the walrus or sea-horse teeth.
The Norwegians and the Normans flocked in great numbers to Iceland, and a regular trade was established between the colonists and the mother country. About the year 1001, as one of the colonists, of the name of Herjolf, with his son Biorn, were proceeding on a trading voyage, their ships were separated by a storm, and Biorn was driven to Norway, where he soon afterwards learnt that his father Herjolf was gone to Greenland. On this information he set sail to the westward, intending to join him, but being driven by a storm a great way to the south-west he discovered; by chance, a fine plain country well clothed with wood. The relation which he gave of this new discovery, on his return to Iceland, inflamed the ambition of Leif, the son of Eric, who had founded the colony on the coast of Greenland. He immediately equipped a proper vessel, and taking with him his friend Biorn, they proceeded together in quest of the newly discovered land. On approaching the coast they observed a barren and rocky island, which they therefore named Helleland; and to the low sandy shore beyond it, which was covered with wood, they gave the name of Markland. Two days after this they fell in with a new coast of land, to the northward of which they observed a large island. They ascended a river, the banks of which were covered with shrubs, bearing fruits of a most agreeable and delicious flavour. The temperature of the air felt soft and mild to the Greenland adventurers, the soil appeared to be fertile, and the river abounded with fish, and particularly with excellent salmon. On proceeding upwards they discovered that the river issued from a lake, n'ear which they resolved to pass the winter. On their return, they mentioned, among other things, that, on the shortest day, the sun was visible above the horizon eight hours; that a
when they attended on their chieftains to the mild air of Spain, or Sicily, and sung their valiant deeds."*
The Greenland colonies were less fortunate. The great island (if it be not a peninsula) known by the name of Greenland, is divided into two distinct parts by a central ridge of lofty mountains, stretching north and south, and coyered with perpetual ice and snow. On the east and the west sides of this ridge, the ancient Scandinavians had established colonies. That on the west had progressively increased until it enumerated four parishes, containing one hundred villages : but being engaged in perpetual hostility with the native tribes, in possession of this territory and of the neighbouring islands, to whom they gave the name of Skrælings, but who have since been known by that of Eskimaux, the colony on that side would appear to have been ultimately destroyed by these hostile natives. The rụins of their edifices were still visible in 1721, when that pious and amiable missionary Hans Egede went to that country, on its being re-colonized by the Greenland Company of Bergen in Norway, and have since been more circumstantially described.
The fate of the eastern colony was, if possible, still more deplorable. From its first settlement by Eric Rauda in 983 to its most flourishing period