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Damascus. But the account became more threatening; and we were compelled to turn our faces towards Beirout by the way of Tyre and Sidon.
While at Safet, we went to a point an hour North of the town, whence we could see the Castle of Banjas and overlook the whole plain and lake of the Hûleh. The latter is but one lake, eight or ten miles long by four or five miles broad; the northern half being a mere tract of marsh covered with tall reeds or fags. Between this lake and that of Tiberias, the Jordan flows in a narrow valley, and forms no intervening lake.—On the way from Safet to Tyre, nearly two hours N. W. of Safet, we saw the crater of an extinct volcano ; which was probably the central point or Ableiter of the great earthquake of the preceding year, by which Safet and the adjacent villages were destroyed.
-We reached Beirout June 26, 1838; and thence returned to Western Europe by Alexandria, Smyrna, Constantinople, and so across the Black Sea and up the Danube to Vienna.
THE ANTE-COLUMBIAN HISTORY OF AMERICA.
By Henry R. Schoolcraft, Esq. Detroit, Michigan.
Antiquitates Americanae, sive Scriptores Septentrionales Rerum
Ante-Columbianarum in America. — Samling af de i Nordens Oldskrifter indeholdte Efterretninger om de Gamle Nordboers Opdagelsesreiser til America fra det 10de Aarhundrede. — Edidit Societas Regia Antiquariorum Septentrionalium. Hafniae, 1837. 4to. pp. 479.
INTRODUCTORY NOTE, BY THE EDITOR. [A very brief notice of this learned and interesting work appeared in the Repository for April 1838. Since that time we have not found it convenient to take up the subject of its important disclosures, until Mr. Schoolcraft has consented to favor us with the present Article. The work, however, has been in the country some eighteen months, and several notices of it have appeared; but it has excited less interest than the importance and attractive character
of its topics, as well as the learning and evidence with which they are presented, would lead us to expect. The light of authentic history is here shed upon what otherwise must have remained, to a great extent, the “ fabulous age” of our country.
That our readers may possess, in as brief a form as possible, an intelligible description of the volume referred to, we insert as an introduction to the Article of Mr. Schoolcraft, the following Prospectus, issued by the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, accompany. ing its publication.]
“ Alexander von Humboldt, who of all modern travellers has thrown the greatest light on the physical circumstances, first discovery, and earliest history of America, has admitted that the Scandinavian Northmen were the true original discoverers of the New World; a fact which several later writers of eminence have nevertheless either fatly denied, or called in question. The above mentioned great inquirer has however remarked that the information which the public as yet possesses of that remarkable epoch in the middle ages is extremely scanty, and he has expressed a wish that the Northern Literati would collect and publish all the accounts relating to that subject. The Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries considers it a matter of duty to comply with this wish, embracing a threefold purpose: that of illustrating ancient geography and history ; that of perpetuating the memory of our forefathers, and lastly that of everlastingly securing to them that honorable station in the history of the World, of Science, of Navigation, and of Commerce, to which they are justly entitled. This has appeared to the Society to be so much the more necessary, since the latest researches have rendered it in a high degree probable, that the knowledge of the previous Scandinavian discovery of America, preserved in Iceland, and communicated to Columbus when he visited that island in 1447, operated as one, and doubtless as one of the most powerful of the causes which inspired the mind of that great man (whose glory cannot in any degree be impaired by the prior achievement) with that admi. rable zeal, which bidding defiance to every difficulty enabled him to effect the new discovery of the New World under circumstances that necessarily led to its immediate, uninterrupted, and constantly in. creasing colonization and occupation by the energetic and intelligent races of Europe. For this his memory will be imperishable among the nations of the earth. Yet still we Northmen ought not to forget his meritorious predecessors, our own forefathers, who in their way had difficulties to contend with not less formidable, since without knowledge of the properties of the magnet, without aid of compass, charts, or mathematical science properly so called, they dared to navigate the great Ocean, and thus by degrecs discovered and partly colonized Iceland in the ninth century, Greenland in the tenth, and
subsequently several of the Islands and Coasts of America during the latter part of the tenth and beginning of the eleventh century.
“ It is the last of these epochs—very remarkable in the history of the world, yet not sufficiently known—that forms the subject of the work now announced. No separate work has hitherto been devoted to this subject, if we except the Vinlandia of Torfaeus, published in 1705, and now extremely scarce. That work, however, does not contain any collection of the original statements on which the investigation must be based, and such accounts as it does communicate are but few and incomplete. This collection therefore now makes its appearance for the first time as complete as possible, compiled from the numerous and valuable MSS. now extant, and accom. panied by a Danish and also a complete Latin translation; and by prefatory remarks, archaeological and geographical disquisitions, and other critical apparatus also in Latin. Of its contents we can here merely give a brief sketch, mentioning only the principal sections. Among these may be named, first the historical accounts of Erik the Red,
and the Greenlanders, extracted-and now for the first time accurately published—from the celebrated Codex Flatey. ensis, particularly concerning Biarne Heriulfson's and Leif Ericson's first discovery of the American Islands and Coasts, and the several voyages thither, performed by Leif's brothers and sister. Next the Saga of Thorfinn Thordson surnamed Karlsefne, descended from Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Ancestors, chiefly taken from two ancient MSS. never before edited, and in fact not previously known to the Literati, the one of which is supposed to be partly a genuine autograph of the celebrated Hauk Er. lendson, Lawman of Iceland, well known as a compiler of one of the Recensions of the Landnama-book. This very remarkable Saga contains detailed accounts of Thorfinn Karlsefne's and his company's three years voyages and residence in America, whereby an entirely new light is diffused over this subject hitherto so little known. The only knowledge that Torfaeus had of this Saga, which he imagined to be lost, was derived from some corrupted extracts of it contained in the collection of materials for the history of ancient Greenland left by the Iceland Farmer Biörn Johnson of Skardso. It is now for the first time submitted to the literary world in a complete form. The work here announced moreover contains every thing else that the Society has been able to collect and discover relating to that knowledge of the New World which our forefathers obtained from the early discoveries and researches of the Northmen. Among these we may mention, 1. Adam of Bremen's accounts of Vineland (in America) written in the eleventh century, being in fact communicated to him by the Danish King Sweyn Éstrithson, and compiled from authentic accounts furnished to him by Danes, and now for the first time published from the excellent Codex in the
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 ori. gin) 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 voyage 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-through 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 Greenland and partly in the States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in North America, on the one hand confirming the accounts in the Sa. gas, and on the other illustrated by them. II. Detailed Geographical 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 Chrono logical 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 accompanied by eighteen large engravings, viz. eight Facsimiles, 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 Biörn Gunnlaugson with the