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impervious, and all hope being abandoned of their amount of very spurious philosophy, and attracted recovery, the part of Greenland which faces the the public attention to the subject of the longeast took the name of Lost Greenland.
neglected North-western Passage, and immediIn the summer months of the year 1815, in ately led to the revival of the discussion of the 1816, and 1817, islands of ice of unusual magni- subject, which was warmly embraced by Sir John tude appeared in the Atlantic, many of them as Barrow, at that time a secretary of the Admi, low as in the fortieth parallel of latitude. ralty.
Some of these islands consisted of icebergs Previously to originating any proposal of a having an elevation from 100 to 150 feet above repetition of an attempt to effect a North-western the surface of the water, and were several Passage, no pains were spared in collecting whatmiles in circumference; others consisted of flat ever information could be derived from the old islands of packed ice, presenting so vast an extent navigators, the traders in the service of the Hudof surface, that it was averred a ship from Boston son's Bay and North-west Companies. Sir had been three days entangled in one, near the Joseph Bankes also powerfully aided the new tail of the Great• Bank, near Newfoundland. undertaking. A plan was submitted to Lord “The Unitas Fratrum,” while proceeding to the Melville, then first lord of the Admiralty, by missions on Old Greenland, was beset on the Sir John Barrow, and was referred, in the ordicoast of Labrador for eleven days, by icebergs of an nary routine of business, to the President and unusual magnitude, many of which had rocks Council of the Royal Society, and being returned upon them, with gravel, soil, and pieces of wood. with their approval, was submitted to Lord LiverThe packet on her route from Halifax passed a pool, then prime minister, for his sanction. The mountain of ice nearly 200 feet in height, which sanction of Lord Liverpool having been obtained, was computed to be at least two miles in circum- orders were forthwith issued by the Board of ference. An unusual amount of ice was seen in Admiralty for the preparation of four ships, to be the months of May, June, and July, in 1817, in appropriated to the service in question. Two of the neighborhood of Newfoundland, Halifax, and these ships were intended to search for a passage * other northern ports of America ; insomuch that from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the other two the whole island of Newfoundland was so com- were to proceed from the sea of Spitzbergen pletely environed, that the vessels employed in towards the North Pole. the fishery were unable to get out to sea. The It is not easy to perceive what were the reasons source of this extraordinary quantity of loose ice which prompted the very sanguine expectations was supposed to be the coast of Greenland. which were entertained at this time in favor of the
In a letter addressed to Sir Joseph Banks, Mr. success of a voyage which had been hitherto uniScoresby says—"I observed on my last voyage formly unsuccessful. None of the old navigators (1817) about 2000 square leagues (18,000 square had even penetrated any part of the Polar Sea ; miles) of the surface of the Greenland seas in their discoveries had been confined to the straits, cluded between the parallels 74° and 80° perfectly inlets, and islands on the eastern coast of America, void of ice, all of which has disappeared within and the straits of Davis and Baffin on the western the last two years." And he further stated, that coast of Greenland. At this period nothing was though on former voyages he had very rarely been known of any entrance to the Polar Sea from this able to penetrate the ice, between the latitudes side of America : Captain Cook had indeed seen of 76° and 80°, so far to the west as the meridian the sea through Behring's Straits, and Hearne and of Greenwich, he had on his last voyage twice MacKenzie had arrived at the northern shore of reached the longitude of 10° west, and that in the North America at different points, and at different parallel of 74° he had approached the coast of times. Old Greenland ; that there was little ice near the It was urged in support of the intended expeland; and he added that there could be no doubt dition, that a current was constantly found setting but he might have reached the shore, had he had down Davis' Strait, and the Strait of Hudson's a justifiable motive for navigating an unknown sea Bay, and also along the shore of Spitzbergen, all at so late a season of the year.” Mr. Scoresby to southward; it was therefore said, that no doubt had also found the sea so clear, in returning to the could remain that there was a water communisouthward, that he actually landed on Jan Mayen's cation between the sea of the Pacific and the Island, which is usually surrounded by a barrier Northern Atlantic ; that the water supplied through of ice. It was also stated upon competent author- the Strait of Behring, into the Polar Sea, was ity, by intelligence received at Copenhagen from discharged into the Atlantic by some opening or Iceland, that in September the ice had broken other yet to be discovered. loose froin the opposite coast of Greenland, and Two expeditions, each consisting of two ships, floated away to the southward, after surrounding were fitted out for the purpose of northern disthe shores, and filling all the bays and creeks of covery ; the one, as we have said, was to proceed that island.
northerly into the Polar Sea, and endeavor to pass We shall not stop to inquire into the physical close to the Pole, and thus make a direct course to eause of these gigantic changes, which about this Behring's Strait ; the other was to push through time were developed upon the earth's surface ; Davis' Strait for the North-east coast of America ; suffice it to say that they gave rise to a vast and, if successful, was to proceed to the westward with a view of passing Behring's Strait. Four of seven years, that the severity of the cold had merchant vessels were hired, and were strength- annually increased. ened by all the means and appliances which the Thus it would appear that one of the main engineering skill of the day suggested. The Is- inducements for fitting out this expedition at this abella, of 385 tons, and Alexander, of 252 tons, particular period, was founded upon a fallacy; the were placed under the command of Commander breaking up of the ice, the sudden change in the Ross, (now Sir John Ross,) and the Dorothea and character of the seasons, were so many pleasant the Trent were placed under the command of dreams promoted by the warmth and comfort of a Captain David Buchan. The first two vessels London fireside ; indulged in only by travellere were ordered to proceed up Davis' Strait, and the whose dangers and labors are confined to imaginother two were, by the route of the North Pole, ary icebergs and unreal fields of ice, and who to make the best of their way respectively to Beh- seering's Strait. The Alexander was commanded by One wide, unvaried plain of boundless white Lieutenant Parry, and the Trent by Lieutenant only in the virgin whiteness of the hangings of a Franklin, and each bore a junior lieutenant, with snug and comfortably furnished English bedroom. two midshipmen, who had served their time, and On the 17th of June, the sea appeared to occupy passed their examination, and one assistant sur- the whole visible horizon ; and the vessels were geon. To each vessel was also appointed a mas-made fast by their ice-anchors to an iceberg. Here ter and mate, well experienced in the navigation Sir John Ross corrected an important error in the of the Greenland Seas and Davis' Strait, who charts, to the amount of 5° in longitude, and 30 were to act as pilots. All the men employed miles in latitude. They now worked through the were volunteers, and they and their officers were ice and reached Four Island Point. The ships to receive double pay.
were now placed in a perilous position by the moOn the 18th April, 1818, the Isabella and Al- tion of the ice, and the Alexander took ground. exander left the river, and on the 30th arrived at The ice, which had hitherto formed a solid and Lerwick; on the 3d of May the signal was made impenetrable mass, began to break up on the 2d for sailing, and the first ice was seen on the 26th of July ; and the vessels moved slowly forward, of the same month, nearly in the latitude of Cape through narrow and intricate channels, among Farewell. After this, ice was met with daily, mountains and loose pieces of ice. To the westand the weather became variable, the ships hold. ward the ice still retained its solidity, and it aping their course in a north-westerly direction peared that the only probable means of effecting towards the entrance of Davis' Strait. The tem- a passage further north consisted in keeping close perature now was about freezing point, that of the to the shore. On the 16th, the Isabella was surface of the water differing from the tempera- placed in a perilous situation, by being jammed in ture of the air by about two degrees. On the 4th between two ice floes, and lifted several feet out of June, a boule was cast overboard, and the ex- of the water. On the 17th of August, Cape periment seems to have afforded anything but a Dudley Digges was made, and was found to agree favorable result in confirmation of some precon- with the observations recorded by Baffin. The ceived notions upon the direction of the currents. inlets were filled with solid ice, and the interior About this time, also, the attention of Sir John of the country presented a range of lofty mounRoss was directed to the important subject of the tains covered with snow. On the 18th of August deviation of the magnetic needle, an important they passed Wolstenholme Sound, and saw Caportion of his duty, which, considering the imper- ry's Islands. An attempt was now made to find fect knowledge which was then possessed upon the the North-west Passage in Whale Sound, but they subject, was performed with marked diligence and were soon convinced that there was no navigable ability. We are here again informed that there passage in that direction. They now passed was no current, which appears the more surpris- Hackluyt's Island, and made Smith's Sound. ing, as the wind had blown for three successive Throughout the whole of this voyage, Sir John days directly down the Strait. On the 9th of June Ross seems to have taken extreme care in recordthey saw the island of Disco, but nothing of ma-ing the character of the soundings, and much valterial consideration is recorded from this date to uable information and light have thereby been the 14th, when the expedition reached Whale thrown upon the formation of the earth in these Island. Here Sir John Ross was informed that high latitudes. This is the more important, bethe winter had been unusually severe, a fact at cause much misapprehension had previously existed variance with the popular belief of the ameliora- upon the subject; and there was a pretty general tion of the Arctic climate which had been enter- expectation that the depth of the soundings near tained in England, an impression which had so the land was such an indication of the probability largely conduced to the sending of the expedition. of a passage, as inight be depended upon. We The inspector of the Danish settlement reported gather from the labors of Sir John Ross, that the that the sea had been frozen near his station early depth along shore, within three miles of land, in December, a period earlier than usual by at reaches to 445 fathoms, while in the middle of the least two months. Love Bay and Waygat's bay the soundings gave only 100 fathoms. It also Strait were still frozen, and he had remarked appeared that the formation of the bottom of the during his residence in Greenland, being a period bay was exceedingly irregular and mountainous
facts which show that it is somewhat difficult to snow, and the coast appeared habitable. Here the arrive at any correct conclusion upon the possibil- soundings were ascertained to reach from 200 to ity of effecting a passage in any particular inlet, 240 fathoms, for a considerable distance. by reasoning from such elements. In Behring's The ships still stood along the western coast, Strails, where there is a passage, the soundings and on the 29th steered towards the most distant give only 28 fathoms, and in the entrance to the land, which was indistinctly seen at half-past five White Sea we only reach nine.
in the afternoon. The temperature of the surface On the 20th August they attained their highest water was observed to increase from 32° to 36o. point of latitude, and here it does not appear Here they reached a wide opening, which proved sufficiently plain why Sir John Ross did not ex- the largest and the most important sound of any amine Smith's Sound, which had been stated by that had been seen on either coast ; it was what Baffin to be the largest of all the sounds he had Baffin had called Sir James Lancaster's Sound. discovered. His description of it is, however, In justice to Sir John Ross, we transcribe his sufficiently brief, yet well calculated to inspire the own narrative of this event; he says : curiosity of a man of science. Baffin says, in The rest of the day was spent in beating to the speaking of this sound, “ It runneth to the north westward ; all sail was carried, and every advanof 78°, and is admirable in one respect, because tage taken of the changes in the direction and in it is the greatest variation in the compass of strength of the wind. As the evening closed, the any part of the known world; for by divers good wind died away—the weather became mild and observations, I found it to be above five points or warm, the water much smoother, and the atmos56° variation to the westward.” The Admiralty side of the Strait, being clear of clouds, had beau
phere clear and serene. The mountains on each instructions certainly did not stand in the way of tiful tints of various colors. For the first time we such a course; the season was not too far ad- discovered that the land extended from the south vartced, and we are at a loss to understand why an two thirds across this apparent Strait; but the fog, opportunity so attractive and promising, and so which continually occupied that quarter, obscured consistent with the main object of the expedition, its real figure. During this day, much interest was neglected. Sir John Ross seems himself to
was excited by the appearance of this Strait; the have felt that this part of his proceedings required general opinion, however, was, that it was only an
inlet. Captain Sabine, who produced Baffin's acexplanation ; but we are by no means satisfied count, was of opinion that we were off Lancaster with the grounds of his conviction which led him Sound, and that there were no hopes of a passage to neglect this important examination. It would until we should arrive at Cumberland Strait ; to also appear, that Sir John Ross did not, in his use his own words, there was “no indication of a examination of Baffin's Bay, approach sufficiently passage, appearance of a current," " no near to the shore to enable him to carry out the drift wood,” and “ no swell from the north-west.” object of his mission with scientific accuracy.
Lancaster Sound a second time was overlooked The vessels now proceeded down the western after a period of two hundred years. Sir John coast to explore Jones' Sound, the next inlet Ross, it appears, was deceived by the appearance which afforded any probability of offering a pas- of the distant land, which seemed to meet and form sage to the westward. The bay was filled with an enclosed inlet. We cannot but think that, ice of a solid nature, and of a green color ; the considering the scientific character of the expediland appeared bare of vegetation, few birds were tion, insufficient care was exercised, and too little seen and no whales, nor any animal except seals, accuracy of observation pursued by Sir John Ross, which appeared to be abundant. Here the depth in allowing an optical illusion to turn him aside of water was 110 fathoms, and at the bottom of from the main object of the expedition. One of the bay was observed a ridge of very high moun- the first and most important objects to be attained tains, which extended nearly across the bay, and by men accustomed to scientific research, is to which were joined to another ridge from the south, guard the senses against the too facile illusions to not quite so losty. Sir John Ross being satisfied which they are obnoxious. Sir John Ross, howthat no passage existed here, the vessels stood to ever, had not been bred in this extreme school of the southward.
accuracy, and it does not appear that his companThe sun now set upon our navigators, after a ions were capable or willing to lend him the day of 1872 hours, and warned them of the ap- assistance which he lacked. proach of a long and dreary winter. The coast After quilting Lancaster Sound, the expedition of Jones' Sound was seen, and the ice became proceeded in a southerly course, passing two more heavier and more oompact. On the 28th the fog, inlets, which were filled with ice, and were quite which had gradually been stealing over the at- impenetrable. An uninterrupted chain continued mosphere, assumed a degree of dangerous densi- to extend along the coast, connected with the ridge ty; but the land at the latitude of 75° 27' was formerly observed in the bay. No bottom was still traced, and presented ridges of very lofty found in 550 fathoms, and the same general charmountains. The navigators, however, were una- acter, in all respects, was observed to exist on the ble to approach the coast within five leagues, on western as on the eastern side of the bay. On the account of the barrier of ice which defended it. 5th September, they reached Pond's Bay, which Here the mountains were estimated to be of the was then occupied by a long glacier, extending a elevation of 4000 feet, were partially covered with considerable distance into the sea. It was there
fore impenetrable. At noon, they were abreast I had performed valuable services in the North of Cape MacCulloch, when another bay was seen, Seas, which they admitted ; he was introduced to also choked with ice, and they remarked that the the expedition under the auspices and recommensame mountainous aspect characterized the interior dation of a gallant and experienced officer, who of the country. At sunset, they had run down was then a lord of the Admiralty, and took with about seventy miles of coast, and Sir John Ross him the character of being an active and zealous was satisfied that there could be no passage be- officer, and one well practised in the ordinary duties tween latitude 73° 33' and 72o. In running to of the seaman's profession. A very large amount the southward, the land was still traced to the of allowance must be made for the position of Sir latitude of 71° 22', where it had not been seen by John Ross, surrounded as he was by an accumulaformer navigators; and it was here remarked, that tion of unusual difficulties, having to perform duties the mountains near the shore assumed a new char- of a very varied, responsible, and difficult characacter, being more detached, of a rounder shape, ter ; with, as it appears to us, a very inexperiand their summits less clothed with snow.
enced and feeble staff of scientific assistants. It is From the 18th to the 21st of September, the clear that sufficient attention had not been exercised ships continued to beat to the southward, and on by the authorities in the selection of properly the latter day they stood across the bay so far as educated and competent persons for these duties ; again to reach the coast on its eastern side. Here and the consequence has been, that the observations they found the depth by sounding was forty fath- recorded upon the expedition do not always com
The weather being now broken up and un- mand that confidence and respect which observations settled, they suffered several gales of wind, and of this character ought to ensure. were greatly impeded in their progress; and this The expedition of Captain Buchan, undertaken was especially the case with the Alexander, whose cotemporaneously with that of Sir John Ross, sluggish properties stood much in the way of any although it was instrumental in introducing some successful progress in this expedition. Neither distinguished names to public notice, was in itself of the ships was capable of making much way almost barren of interest or novelty. The instrucwith a head wind ; both were heavy sailers, and tions furnished to Captain Buchan, directed him to seem to have been but little adapted to the pur- proceed without delay into the Spitzbergen seas, poses of the expedition. In this it cannot be de- where he was to endeavor to pass to the northward, nied that there existed a great want of care and between Spitzbergen and Greenland ; but he was attention in those departments of our service, not to suffer any delay on either of these coasts, which, considering the ample remuneration they but proceed in the prosecution of the main object receive for their modicum of science and skill, of the expedition, and endeavor to reach the North ought not to be deficient in that species of knowl- Pole. Great care was expended on that portion edge, experience, and circumspection, which we of the instructions which had relation to scientific look for in vain in the selection and fitting of the observation, but the character of the voyage did Isabella and Alexander. The very qualities upon not permit these instructions to be instrumental in which the success of the expedition mainly de contributing much benefit to the world. In short, pended, were wanting.
although the voyage had all the interest which On the return of Sir John Ross, his conclusion attaches to everything relating to the Polar Reregarding Lancaster Sound became the subject of gions, yet was it barren of any novel result, and much sceptical discussion ; and it was argued by contributed little to the cause of science. those experienced in naval perspective, that Sir On the 24th of May, 1818, the expedition John Ross had not sufficiently guarded against a reached Cherie Island, in latitude 74° 32', where common optical illusion, and that he had not pene- the walruses were so numerous, that one of the trated deep enough into the sound to form any crews succeeded in capturing about a thousand of accurate judgment upon the subject; for it was these animals in the space of seven hours. urged that a strait even of considerable breadth, On the 28th of May, the weather had become if winding or varied by capes, always presents to foggy and severe, and the ships separated; the. the spectator the precise appearance of an inclosed | Trent, commanded by Lieutenant John Franklin, bay. Discussion soon gathered an element of now Captain Sir John Franklin, standing to the angry sentiment, which made it assume a form northward, towards Magdalena Bay, the point indithat looked very much like persecution ; angry cated as the place of rendezvous. Here they again pamphlets were written upon the subject, accusa- met, and finding it impossible to penetrate the tions and recriminations appeared in indecent abun- barrier of ice, and the season being as yet but dance; and the zeal which was exhibited upon little advanced, it was determined to remain a few the occasion led to the adoption of a line of days in the bay, and they accordingly anchored conduct in some of the opponents of Sir John's there on the 3d of June. The ice existed as yet views, which were not very creditable to them, and in large masses, both in the cove and upper part we think scarcely excusable or justifiable by any of the harbor, but it was evident that it had already amount of zeal in the cause of science or popular become sensible to an elevation of temperature, for enthusiasm.
it was in a rapidly decaying state : and on revisitSir John Ross was an officer of great merit, ing the anchorage in the beginning of August it which his enemies did not attempt to deny-he had totally disappeared.
Captain Beechey has described Magdalena Bay | Literary history must come late in the intelin his account of this voyage. It is distinguished | lectual development of a nation. It is the history by four glaciers, the smallest being two hundred of books, and there can be no history of books feet above the sea, on the slope of a mountain. It lill books are written. It presupposes, moreover, is called, says Captain Beechey, the hanging ice- a critical knowledge-an acquaintance with the berg, and seems to be suspended by a point of sup- principles of taste, which can come only from a port so frail, that a slight matter would detach it wide study and comparison of models. It is, from the mountain and precipitate it into the sea. therefore, necessarily the product of an advanced The largest of the glaciers extends between two state of civilization and mental culture. and three miles into the land, and on account of Although criticism, in one form or another, the peculiar character of the appearance of its was studied and exemplified by the ancients, yet surface, has been named the Wagon Way. Other they made no progress in direct literary history. glaciers of a similar character were seen near the Neither has it been cultivated by all the nations Dane's Gut, the largest being estimated at about of modern Europe. At least, in some of them it ten thousand feet in length, by two or three hun- has met with very limited success. In England, dred feet in elevation.
one might have thought, from the free scope The navigators, during this expedition, remarked given to the expression of opinion, it would have the mild character of the temperature upon the flourished beyond all other countries. But Italy, western coast of Spitzbergen ; they suffered little and even Spain, with all the restraint imposed on or no sensation of cold, though the thermometer intellectual movement, have done more in this indicated only a few degrees above freezing point. way than the whole Anglo-Saxon race. The This is in strict accordance with what had been very freedom with which the English could enter observed in 1751, by Captain M'Callam, who sailed, on the career of political action has not only without obstruction from ice, from Hackluyt's withdrawn them from the more quiet pursuits of Head, as high as the latitude of 831°, and found letters, but has given them a decided taste for only an open sea, the weather being fine, and he descriptions of those stirring scenes in which they experienced no obstacle which would have hindered or their fathers have taken part. Hence the great him from proceeding further north ; being only preponderance with them, as with us, of civil induced to neglect the opportunity which the favor- history over literary. able condition of the elements offered, by a sense It may be further remarked, that the monastie of his responsibility to his employers, for the institutions of Roman Catholic countries have been safety of the ship which he commanded. Again, peculiarly favorable to this, as to some other kinds in the same year, Mr. Stevens, a very skilful and of composition. The learned inmates of the accurate observer, and whose testimony is beyond cloister have been content to solace their leisure all doubt, related to Dr. Maskelyne, that about the with those literary speculations and inquiries end of May he was driven off Spitzbergen by a which had no immediate connection with party southernly wind, which blew for several days, till excitement and the turmoils of the world. The he attained the latitude of 841°; and that, in the best literary histories, from whatever cause, in whole of this run, he met with little ice and no Spain and in Italy, have been the work of memdrift wood, and found that the cold was not exces-bers of some one or other of the religious frasive.
ternities. [To be continued.]
Still another reason of the attention given to
this study in most of those countries may be From the North American Review.*
found in the embarrassments existing there to the History of Spanish Literature. By George general pursuit of science, which have limited the
TICKNOR. New York: Harper & Brothers. powers to the more exclusive cultivation of works 1849. 3 vols. 8vo.
of imagination, and those other productions of LITERARY history is the least familiar kind of elegant literature that come most properly within historical writing. It is, in some respects, the the province of taste and of literary criticistn. most difficult, requiring, and certainly, far the Yet in England, during the last generation, in most laborious study. The facts for civil history which the mind has been unusually active, if there we gather from personal experience, or from the have been few elaborate works especially devoted examination of a comparatively few authors, to criticism, the electric fluid has been impercepwhose statements the historian transfers, with libly carried off from a thousand minor poinis, in such modification and commentary as he pleases, the form of essays and periodical reviews, which to his own pages. But in literary history the cover nearly the whole ground of literary inquiry, books are the facts, and pretty substantial ones in both foreign and domestic. The student who has many cases, which are not to be mastered at a the patience to consult these scattered notices, if glance, or on the report of another. It is a tedious he cannot find a system ready made to his hands, process to read through a library in order to decide may digest one for himself by a comparison of that the greater part is probably not worth reading contradictory judgments on every topic under at all.
review. Yet it may be doubted if the multitude * The readers of the Living Age will be gratified to
of cross lights thrown at random over his path will know that this article is attributed to Mr. Prescolt. not serve rather to perplex than to enlighten him.