A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 770 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01.
of the newly discovered country.  He accordingly sailed for Winland with a vast quantity of household furniture, implements of all kinds, and several cattle, and accompanied by sixty-five men and five women, with whom he began to establish a regular colony.  He was immediately visited by the Skraellingers, who bartered with him, giving the most valuable furs for such wares as the Icelanders had to give in exchange.  The natives would willingly have purchased the weapons of the Icelanders, but this was expressly and judiciously forbidden by Thorfin.  Yet one of them found means to steal a battle-ax, of which he immediately made a trial on one of his countrymen, whom he killed with one blow; on which a third person seized the mischievous weapon and threw it into the sea.  During a stay of three years, Thorfin acquired a large stock of rich furs and other merchandize, with which he returned to Greenland; and at length removing to Iceland, he purchased an estate in the northern part of Syssel, and built a very elegant house which he called Glaumba.  After his death, his widow Gudrid made a pilgrimage to Rome, whence she returned, and ended her days in a nunnery in Iceland, which was built for her by her son Snorro, who was born in Winland.

Sometime afterwards, Finbog and Helgo, two Icelanders, fitted out two ships, carrying thirty men, with which they made a voyage to Winland.  In this expedition they were accompanied by Freidis, the daughter of Eric-raude; but by the turbulence of her disposition, she occasioned many divisions and quarrels in the infant colony, in one of which Finbog and Helgo were both killed, together with thirty of their followers.  Upon this Freidis returned to Greenland, where she lived for some time universally detested and despised, and died in the utmost misery.  The remaining colonists were dispersed, and nothing farther that can be depended on remains on record concerning them.  Even the Icelandic colony in Greenland has disappeared, and the eastern coast, on which especially it was settled, has become long inaccessible, in consequence of the immense accumulation of ice in the straits between it and Iceland.  To this it may be added, that, in the beginning of the fifteenth century, a prodigious number of people were carried off in Norway and Iceland by a disease or pestilence called the Black Death; probably the scurvy in its worst state, occasioned by a succession of inclement seasons and extreme scarcity, impelling the famished people to satisfy the craving of hunger upon unwholesome food.  Deprived of all assistance from Iceland and Norway, the colonists of Greenland and Winland were in all probability extirpated by the continual hostilities of the Skraellingers, or Eskimaux; and the fabulous idea of any remnant of those in Winland having still an existence in the interior of Newfoundland, is entirely unworthy of any consideration.

[1] Forster, Hist. of Disc. in the North, 82.

[2] Every quality must be judged of by comparison; and, contrasted
    with the inhospitable regions of Iceland and Greenland, in lat. 65 deg.,
    this country, which was as far south as even beyond the south of
    England, must have appeared admirable.—­E.

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