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German, who was one of the crew, in strolling into the woods, met with wild grapes, which he informed the Scandinavian navigators were such as, in his country, were used to make wine, upon which they gave to the island the name of Vinland.
The latitude deduced from the observation of the length of day, supposing it to be correct, would point out some of the rivers on the eastern coast of Newfoundland as the spot on which the adventurers wintered, several of which rivers take their rise in lakes; or it would equally answer to the coast of Canada, near the mouth of the river St. Lawrence. It is now known that vines grow wild in various parts of Canada, some of them pleasant to the taste and agreeable to the eye, such as the vitis labrusca, vulpina, and arborea;* but whether any species may grow on Newfoundland, we know so little of the interior, or even of its shores, that, after a settlement of more than two hundred years, no attempt has yet been made to collect a Flora of the island. But it is by no means necessary to suppose that the fruit found by the German was the grape. Wünbær or vin-ber (wine-berry)t is the generic name, among the nations where the grape was not known, for the ribesia and grossularia (the various species of currants and gooseberries);
* Forster's Northern Discoveries.
and of the former of these, Canada, Labrador, the shores of Hudson's Bay, and Newfoundland, afford several species.* There is, therefore, no reason to call in question the veracity of the relation on account of the circumstance which gave the name of Vinland to the new-discovered country.
Though Newfoundland has now been settled more than two hundred years, it is scarcely yet known with certainty whether, in the interior, any natives are found with permanent habitations on the island, or whether they are not merely annual visitors, who come over from the continent in the summer months for the purposes of killing deer, bears, wolves, and other animals, whose skins are valuable for clothing and their flesh as food; and for catching salmon in the rivers, and collecting fowls and eggs on the intermediate islands. Many of these Indians have occasionally been met with in their boats near the coast, but from the ill treatment they experienced from the European fishermen, they withdrew themselves at an early period from their intruders, and have since studiously avoided all intercourse with them. It is this which makes a recent expedition into the interior of the island, under the command of Captain
* Ribes prostratum is a native of Newfoundland ; and R. recurvatum, bearing a black berry resembling a grape, is found on the shores of Hudson's Bay. Persoon, Synop. Plant, i. p. 251,
Buchan, now on the northern voyage of discovery, the more interesting, from whose manuscript journal an abstract will be given in its proper place in the sequel.
Whether we are to consider Vinland as Labrador or Newfoundland is a matter of little importance, as the Scandinavians do not appear to have made any progress in the colonization of either country, though a recent discovery would seem to indicate the remains of an ancient colony, of which we shall presently have occasion to speak. These northern hordes, however, “thrust out of their exuberant hive,” flourished with great rapidity on Iceland, in spite of its barren soil and rigorous climate. Religion and literature even took deep root where every luxury and frequently the common necessaries of life were wanting. The genius of native poetry survived amidst eternal ice and snows. The want of shady groves and verdant meadows, of purling streams and gentle zephyrs, was amply supplied by the more sublime and awful objects of nature,-storms and tempests, earthquakes and volcanos, spouts of liquid fire and of boiling water, volumes of smoke and steam and ashes darkening the air and enveloping the whole island, were the terrific visitors of this ultima Thule of the inhabitable world. “ The scalds or bards," says Pennant, “retained their fire in the inhospitable climate of Iceland, as vigorously as 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 ruins of their edifices were still visible in 1721, when that pious and amiable missionary Hans Egede went
nat country, on its being re-colonized by the Treenland Company of Bergen in Norway, and have since been more circumstantially descri
The fate of the eastern colony was. if possible, still more deplorable. From its first settlen Eric Rauda in 983 to its most flourishing
n its first settlement by
* Introd. to Arct. Zool. i. p. 44.
about the commencement of the fifteenth century, it had progressively increased in population; and, by the latest accounts, consisted of twelve parishes, one hundred and ninety villages, one bishop's see, and two convents-one of which is supposed to have been that which is described by Zeno as situated near the spring of hot water. A succession of sixteen bishops is recorded in the Iceland annals; but when the seventeenth was proceeding from Norway in 1406 to take possession of his see, a stream of ice had fixed itself to the coast and rendered it completely inaccessible; and from that period to the present time, no intercourse whatever has been had with the unfortunate colonists. Thormoder Torfager, however, relates, in his History of Greenland, that Amand, bishop of Skalholt in Iceland, in returning to Norway from that island about the middle of the sixteenth cen
of Greenland, opposite to Herjolfsness, and got so near as to be able to distinguish the inhabitants driving their cattle in the fields; but the wind coming fair, they made all sail back for Iceland. Hans Egede conceives this account of Amand worthy of credit, from which, he observes, “we learn that the eastern colony continued to flourish at least one hundred and fifty years after commerce and navigation had ceased between it and Greenland ;” and he adds, “ for aught we know to