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Imperial Library at Vienna, of which a Facsimile has been transmitted to the Society by the Chief of the Library, Count Dietrichstein. 2. Are Frode's account of Vineland, written in the same or in the following century; and also 3, of the eminent Icelandic chief Are Marson, one of his own ancestors, who in the year 983 was driven to a part of America situate near Vineland, then called Hvitramannaland or Great Ireland, whose inhabitants (of Irish origin) prevented him from returning, but at the same time treated him with great respect. 4. Other ancient accounts respecting the Icelandic hero Biörn Asbrandson, in his day one of the lomsburg Warriours under Palnatoke, and fighting along with them in the battle of Fyrisval in Sweden; he also in the year 999 repaired to one of the coasts of America, where he was detained in the same manner, but resided there as chief over the natives for about 30 years. 5. Account of an Icelandic mariner, Gudleif Gudlaugson, who was driven to the same coast in the year 1027, and who was rescued from death or captivity by his above mentioned countryman. 6. Extracts from the Annals of Iceland of the middle ages, in so far as they relate to America, particularly Bishop Eric's voy. age to Vineland in 1121; the discovery of new countries by the Icelanders in the Western Ocean in 1285 ; an expedition from Norway and Iceland in the year 1288—90 ; and also a trading voyage from the ancient colony in Greenland to Markland in America in 1347, as recorded by contemporaries. 7. Ancient accounts of the most northern districts of Greenland and America, chiefly visited by the Northmen for the purpose of hunting and fishing; among these a very remarkable account (from a letter of a Greenland clergyman) of a Voyage of Discovery undertaken by some clergymen from the Bishopric of Gardar in Greenland, in the year 1266, being -as is corroborated by an astronomical observation-throngh Lancaster Sound and Barrow's Strait to regions which in our days have for the first time been made correctly known through the zealous exertions of Sir William Parry, Sir John Ross, and Capt. James Clark Ross, and other British navigators. 8. Extracts from the ancient geographical works of the Icelanders, to which is added an outline taken in the thirteenth century representing the earth in four inhabited quarters. 9. An ancient Faroish Qväji wherein Vineland is named, and allusion is made to its connection with Ireland.
“ To which are added, I. A description accompanied by delineations and occasionally by perspective views of several Monuments, chiefly Inscriptions, from the middle ages, found partly in Green land and partly in the States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in North America, on the one hand confirming the accounts in the Sagas, and on the other illustrated by them. II. Detailed Geographi. cal Inquiries lately undertaken at the instance of the Society, whereby the sites of the regions and places named in the Sagas are
explored, and are pointed out under the names by which they are now commonly known, viz. Newfoundland, Bay of St. Lawrence, Nova Scotia, and especially the States of Massachusetts and Rhode. Island, and even districts more to the South, probably situate in Virginia, North Carolina, and in Florida, which is supposed to be the most southerly land mentioned in the most authentic Saga-accounts, although sundry of the Northern Geographers of the middle ages would seem to intimate their knowledge of the easterly direction taken by the continent of South America. They are chiefly based on the accounts in the ancient MSS. and on the explanations of the astronomical, nautical and geographical statements contained in the same, which besides receive the most complete confirmation from accounts transmitted by distinguished American scholars, with whom the Society have entered into correspondence, and who, after several journies undertaken for that object in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have communicated accurate illustrations respecting the nature of the countries, their climate, animals, productions, etc. and have furnished the Society with descriptions and also with delineations of the ancient Monuments found there. III. A Chronological Conspectus, arranging under their proper dates the several voyages to America and the most important events which occurred in that quarter of the world. IV. An Index of Persons, in which the names of those persons (of both sexes) who took part in the American Voyages are printed in a different type. V. A Geographical Index, in which the same method is followed in regard to names of places mentioned in America. VI. An Index Rerum, containing among other things the names of the various productions of the American countries. VII. Genealogical Tables, showing the lineage of the most eminent of the Northern discoverers of America, continued down to our days, whereby it is demonstrated that many persons now living in Iceland, Norway, and Denmark, as also the celebrated sculptor Thorwaldsen in Rome, do actually descend from them, that is from men, who 800 years ago were the chiefs of the American natives, or who were at that remote period born in America.
"The work consists of sixty-five sheets large Quarto, and is accom. panied by eighteen large engravings, viz. eight Facsirniles, some of which represent entire pages of the best of the MSS. employed on the present occasion, in order to give a clear and complete idea of their nature; by dint of much pains the artist has succeeded in representing them with great accuracy, both as regards the outlines of the letters, which were often much faded away and difficult to discern, and also the color of the different parchments. Further four Maps, viz. 1. One of Ancient Iceland, being the first ever made, representing its republican division about the year 1000, constructed by the Icelandic geographer Björn Gunnlaugson with the aid of Finn Magnusen and other Icelandic scholars. 2. A Map of the district of Julianehaab in Greenland, probably comprising the Eystribygd, as it was called, (also important in a geographical point of view,) constructed for the Society by Capt. William A. Graah R. N. from observations and measurements made by him in the country itself, and from such other authorities as were available. On this map are noted the numerous sites (rudera) of churches and houses of the ancient colonists, as far as these are known. 3. A General Chart of the Northern Icy Ocean, and of the Coasts of the Atlantic for the purpose of exhibiting a view of the voyages of dig. covery. Here is delineated the Eastern part of North-America, together with such names of countries, capes, firths, islands, and places, from Lancaster-Sound to Florida, as were adopted by the ancient Northmen. 4. A Map of Vineland, also with the ancient Northern appellations. Finally, six Engravings being delineations, and partly prospects of the Greenland and American monuments from the middle ages treated of in the work ; several of these are very remarkable, and, for the most part, hitherto quite unknown, such as Inscriptions on Rocks in Massachusetts and Rhode-Island, which from the disquisitions contained in the work, would seem to have been partly intended to indicate the Landnam, or the occupation of the country, effected by the ancient Northmen.
“For the convenience of those who prefer reading English to Latin, there is given in English a historical view of the Voyages of Discovery, accompanied by the geographical disquisitions, on which account the maps thereunto referring have also English names. Moreover the several communications received from the North American Members of the Society's Committee on the Ante-Columbian History of America are also inserted in English.”
The reception which this volume has met with, in America, is decidedly favorable. So far as the principal facts are concerned, we have heard but one opinion. All who have examined it, concur in their testimony respecting the value of the historical materials it embraces, the research and literary labor bestowed on them, and the care with which the leading conclusions are drawn. It is not only evident that America was visited before the era of Columbus, as has been often asserted, but it seems placed beyond doubt that the Northmen made repeated voyages into the northern Atlantic, early in the 10th century, and visited and wintered at various points on the New England
A comparison of the ancient and existing maps, and a careful application to this coast of the geographical terms found
in the ancient Norwegian and Icelandic Mss. demonstrate, so far as such a problem can be solved, that those hardy navigators visited the entire shores of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, hutted themselves for the winter at several points, and brought over cattle, and other means of colonization. It is also quite evident that the discovery and settlement of the country had been purposed and materially planned, and that it was carried on, for a time, with a zeal worthy of all success.
There is as much geographical and general information, embraced in the brief journals of these early sea voyages, as could be looked for, or as was common to the
In saying this, we may as well express the opinion long entertained, of the ancient journalists of voyages to America, even down to the middle of the sixteenth century, that they were most particularly deficient in every pre-requisite for their office. The business of keeping the journal, or writing ihe account of an expedition appears to have been left to him, of the party, who was fit for nothing else, in the conceptions of the era. Fighting, discovery, and wild adventure, and not literature, were the characteristics of those ages. It is not surprising, therefore, that we find this department so poorly supplied.
Enough is preserved, by the Scandinavian adventurers, to show that they were more familiar with the arts of navigation and nautical astronomy, than with the science of noting human speech, or describing men and manners. The coast scenery and productions are more minutely noticed. Bays, islands, channels, streams, rocks and straits, were familiar to this race of men, for they dwelt in a part of the globe, unsurpassed for its display of these features. "And the language of Scandinavia appears to have been well provided with terms for such objects, and with principles of ready and graphic combination to express their varied appearances. It seems to us, that this facility in the Icelandic tongue, bas proved one of the best means, in adjusting the geography, if it has not furnished the key to those early, and century-forgotten voyages.
In allusion to the productions and natural features of the country, the pine tree, the grape vine, and the long sandy beaches, strike us as the most characteristic traits of the New England coast in a state of nature. And it must be borne in mind, that this coast, in its forest state, produced the beach grape, the best of all the wild species, which has now disappeared, or is only to be found, if we are rightly informed, at a
few places. What is said of “precious” woods, requires to be received with every allowance for baste and inexactitude of observation. Similar statements are found in the journals of voyagers to other parts of North America, where there never grew a mahogany tree.
We think the climate of New England not too favorably represented. There have been years, it is true, when owing to heavy falls of snow and long continued severity, cattle would scarcely sustain themselves. But even in these seasons, there would be less injury done them, while the country was covered with forests, which would shelter them from the severe northeast winds. And so long as the country was a wilderness, it may be supposed there were numerous fields of grass and native herbage, near the influx of rivers and along the open bays. In ordinary seasons, cattle would winter in New England at this time, if they could range where there was natural herbage. We have known caitle to winter themselves, as far north as latitude 46°, on mere browse.
We have less reason to be satisfied with the accuracy of the descriptions, given by the north-men, of the natives, who were encountered on the New England coast. We doubt whether the Esquimau race, ["Skroellings”] ever inhabited it. These tribes have their affinities with the Greenlanders, and the course of their migration appears, at all times, to have been directed through the Arctic circle and along the Arctic ocean completely across this part of the American continent. It is certain that on the landing of the Pilgrims, just 600 years after the death of Thorwald Ericson, in Massachusetts bay, the Algic * race possessed the entire coast. They were found not only at Plymouth, near the very burial place of Ericson, but north as high as the Penobscot, and the French discovered branches of the same generic stock on the southern shore of the gulf of St. Lawrence. Verozani and the Cabots and Hudson found them south, along the Atlantic, as far as they sailed. It does not seem probable to us, that the Esquimaux could have been found, without these characteristics of the race, his bone fish-spear, and his seal-skin canoe. The natives encountered by Ericson, evinced a degree of bravery hardly compatible with our notions of the Esquimaux. A few days of fair sailing would bring the Scandinavian adventurer from the slaty coasts of Helluland,
This term is a derivative from the words Alleghany and Atlantic.