Icelandic Journals: Notes on 1871 Journey

Wednesday, August 2, 1871, At the same place.
 
'I got up very well and light-hearted and with a furious appetite; breakfast of smoked mutton, salmon and curds which I think very good. I looked up the geography of Njala and wrote my diary quite contented with not going out into the weather.'
 
Morris the expedition’s cook, often refers to food and drink, and he does so with the kind of  gusto we’d expect in a personall etter rather than a travel narrative.  They have moved north, and are many miles from the settings and landscapes of the Njala, which hadn’t lived up to Morris's expectations. See my notes under July 10 and 13, and, most important, under July 21, where he wonders sadly about the great discrepancies betwen saga scenes and the muddy reality of the present. He is now, days later, working still on the Njala, while
expressing pure animal delight in food and warmth. Such mixings make Morris’s narrative interesting, perhaps unique.
 
'so we amuse ourselves very well; buy beautiful warm stockings of the goodwife; clean our guns, which want it sorely enough; . . . then I, seeing a netting needle and mesh propose beginning a net for the goodman which amuses me till it is time to get ready for cooking dinner, Faulkner meantime making a biscuit box into a sugar box for us is thoughtful over it, and Magnusson and Evans amuse themselves in a simpler way by sleeping.'
 
What amuses Morris is activity, getting his hand in, working away at something useful, and Faulkner is doing the same, while the other two members of the party—Morris waxing  ironic here—find amusement in sleep, hardly an acitivity,  certainly simpler than weaving a net or repairing a box.  Morris and Faulkner are enjoying themselves because they are involved in Useful Work,  a collocation all Morrisolaters will recognize, here being demonstrated in a completely apolitical context.  Morris purchased more than mere knitwear at many of the steads  the party visited in 1871 and 1873.  Orn Gislason has written about such memorabilia, present today at Kelmscott Manor (William Morris Society Newsletter-US January 2014, 25-27).