Icelandic Geography is a monumental work. In history Páll Melsteð’s (b. 1812) chief work, the large History of the World, belongs to this period, and its pure style has had a beneficial influence upon modern Icelandic prose.
Of the younger historians we may mention Þorkell Bjarnason (History of the Reformation in Iceland). Jón Þorkelsson (b. 1822), inspector of the archives of Iceland, has rendered great services to the study of Icelandic history and literature by his editions of the Diplomatarium Islandicum and Obituarium Islandicum, and by his Icelandic Poetry in the 15th and 16th Century, written in Danish, an indispensable work for any student of that period. A leading position among Icelandic lexicographers is occupied by Jón Þorkelsson, formerly head of the Latin school at Reykjavik, whose Supplement til islandske Ordbøger, an Icelandic-Danish vocabulary (three separate collections), has hardly been equalled in learning and accuracy. Other distinguished philologists are his successor as head of the Latin school, Bjôrn Magnússon Olsen (Researches on Sturlunga, Ari the Wise, The Runes in the Old Icelandic Literature—the last two works in Danish); Finnur Jónsson, professor at the University of Copenhagen (History of the Old Norwegian and Icelandic Literature, in Danish, and excellent editions of many old Icelandic classical works); and Valtýr Guðmundsson, lecturer at the University of Copenhagen (several works on the old architecture of Scandinavia) and editor of the influential Icelandic literary and political review, Eimreiðin (“The Locomotive”).
C. Küchler, Geschichte der isländischen Dichtung der Neuzeit (Leipzig, 1896); Ph. Schweitzer, Island; Land und Leute (Leipzig, 1885); Alexander Baumgartner, Island und die Faroer (Freiburg im Breisgau,1889).
ICELAND MOSS, a lichen (Cetraria islandica) whose erect or ascending foliaceous habit gives it something of the appearance of a moss, whence probably the name. It is often of a pale chestnut colour, but varies considerably, being sometimes almost entirely greyish white; and grows to a height of from 3 to 4 in., the branches being channelled or rolled into tubes, which terminate in flattened lobes with fringed edges. It grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, north England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. As met with in commerce it is a light-grey harsh cartilaginous body, almost destitute of colour, and having a slightly bitter taste. It contains about 70% of lichenin or lichen-starch, a body isomeric with common starch, but wanting any appearance of structure. It also yields a peculiar modification of chlorophyll, called thallochlor, fumaric acid, licheno-stearic acid and cetraric acid, to which last it owes its bitter taste. It forms a nutritious and easily digested amylaceous food, being used in place of starch in some preparations of cocoa. It is not, however, in great request, and even in Iceland it is only habitually resorted to in seasons of scarcity. Cetraric acid or cetrarin, a white micro-crystalline powder with a bitter taste, is readily soluble in alcohol, and slightly soluble in water and ether. It has been recommended for medicinal use, in doses of 2 to 4 grains, as a bitter tonic and aperient.
ICE-PLANT, the popular name for Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, a hardy annual most effective for rockwork. It is a low-growing spreading herbaceous plant with the fleshy stem and leaves covered with large glittering papillae which give it the appearance of being coated with ice. It is a dry-country plant, a native of Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region, the Canary Islands, South Africa and California. Mesembryanthemum is a large genus (containing about 300 species) of erect or prostrate fleshy herbs or low shrubs, mostly natives of South Africa, and rarely hardy in the British Isles where they are mostly grown as greenhouse plants. They bear conspicuous white, yellow or red flowers with many petals inserted in the calyx-tube. The thick fleshy leaves are very variable in shape, and often have spiny rigid hairs on the margin. They are essentially sun-loving plants. The best-known member of the genus is M. cordifolium, var. variegatum, with heart-shaped green and silvery leaves and bright rosy-purple flowers. It is extensively used for edging flower-beds and borders during the summer months.
ICE-YACHTING, the sport of sailing and racing ice-boats. It is practised in Great Britain, Norway and Sweden, to some extent, and is very popular in Holland and on the Gulf of Finland, but its highest development is in the United States and Canada. The Dutch ice-yacht is a flat-bottomed boat resting crossways upon a planking about three feet wide and sixteen long, to which are affixed four steel runners, one each at bow, stern and each end of the planking. The rudder is a fifth runner fixed to a tiller. Heavy mainsails and jibs are generally used and the boat is built more for safety than for speed. The ice-boat of the Gulf of Finland is a V-shaped frame with a heavy plank running from bow to stern, in which the mast is stepped. The stern or steering runner is worked by a tiller or wheel. The sail is a large lug and the boom and gaff are attached to the mast by travellers. The passengers sit upon planks or rope netting. The Russian boats are faster than the Dutch.
In 1790 ice-yachting was in vogue on the Hudson river, its headquarters being at Poughkeepsie, New York. The type was a square box on three runners, the two forward ones being nailed to the box and the third acting as a rudder operated by a tiller. The sail was a flatheaded sprit. This primitive style generally obtained until 1853, when triangular frames with “boxes” for the crew aft and jib and mainsail rig were introduced. A heavy, hard-riding type soon developed, with short gaffs, low sails, large jibs and booms extending far over the stern. It was over-canvassed and the mast was stepped directly over the runner-plank, bringing the centre of sail-balance so far aft that the boats were apt to run away, and the over-canvassing frequently caused the windward runner to swing up into the air to a dangerous height. The largest and fastest example of this type, which prevailed until 1879, was Commodore J. A. Roosevelt’s first “Icicle,” which measured 69 ft. over all and carried 1070 sq. ft. of canvas. In 1879 Mr H. Relyea built the “Robert Scott,” which had a single backbone and wire guy-ropes, and it became the model for all Hudson river ice-yachts. Masts were now stepped farther forward, jibs were shortened, booms cut down, and the centre of sail-balance was brought more inboard and higher up, causing the centres of effort and resistance to come more in harmony. The shallow steering-box became elliptical. In 1881 occurred the first race for the American Challenge Pennant, which represents the championship of the Hudson river, the clubs competing including the Hudson river, North Shrewsbury, Orange lake, Newburgh and Carthage Ice-Yacht Clubs. The races are usually sailed five times round a triangle of which each leg measures one mile, at least two of the legs being to windward. Ice-yachts are divided into four classes, carrying respectively 600 sq. ft. of canvas or more, between 450 and 600, between 300 and 450, and less than 300 sq. ft. Ice-yachting is very popular on the Great Lakes, both in the United States and Canada, the Kingston (Ontario) Club having a fleet of over 25 sail. Other important centres of the sport are Lakes Minnetonka and White Bear in Minnesota, Lakes Winnebago and Pepin in Wisconsin, Bar Harbor lake in Maine, the St Lawrence river, Quinte Bay and Lake Champlain.
A modern ice-yacht is made of a single-piece backbone the entire length of the boat, and a runner-plank upon which it rests at right angles, the two forming a kite-shaped frame. The best woods for these pieces are basswood, butternut and pine. They are cut from the log in such a way that the heart of the timber expands, giving the planks a permanent curve, which, in the finished boat, is turned upward. The two forward runners, usually made of soft cast iron and about 2 ft. 7 in. long and 2½ in. high, are set into oak frames a little over 5 ft. long and 5 in. high. The runners have a cutting edge of 90%, though a V-shaped edge is often preferred for racing. The rudder is a runner about 3 ft. 7 in. long, worked by a tiller, sometimes made very long, 7½ ft. not being uncommon. This enables the helmsman to lie in the box at full length and steer with his feet, leaving his hands free to tend the sheet. Masts and spars are