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Mulgrave) in 67° 45'. Could we only be certain then that Hearne aud Mackenzie actually arrived at the shore of the northern ocean, *
Hearne talks of the tide being out,' but that it flowed, by the marks on the edge of the ice, twelve or fourteen feet, and that it only reached a little way within the river's mouth ;' that the water at the mouth of the river was perfectly fresh when the tide was out, but it was the sea or some branch of it, by the quantity of whalebone and seal skins which the Esquimaux had at their tents, and also by the number of seals which appeared on the ice.' If the tide was out on the morning of the 17th it was in on the middle of that day, and he never quitted the margin of the river till the morning of the 18th : why then judge of its rise by the marks on the ice ?' The tide rises fourteen feet in the Thames as high as Woolwich, and is salt at low water at Gravesend ; how fourteen feet of sea water could leave that of the river perfectly fresh' close within the bar, is difficult to comprehend. As to his latitude of this spot, that is still less to be depended on; he tells us that in those high latitudes and at this season of the year the sun is always at a good height above the horizon, so that he had not only day-light, but sun-shine the whole night.' Now there is not a word of this ‘sun-sbine all night,' in his M.S. Journal, as quoted by Doctor Douglas; and indeed, he says in his printed book, that a thick fog and drizzling rain came on, and · finding that neither the river nor the sea were likely to be of any use, I did not think it worth while to wait for fair weather to determine the latitude exactly by an observation. What did he go for? he was selected for the journey because he could take an observation for the latitude, and yet in the whole of the journey of thirteen hundred miles and back again, he takes but one single observation ! But the latitude of the river's mouth, he says, may be depended on--what that latitude was, however, is never once mentioned; but by the chart it is about 73° 30'.-The result of his single observation at Congecathawhachaga was 68° 46' and the courses and distances from that place to the mouth of the river give a difference of about 30, so that the latitude we are to depend upon,' instead of 73° 30' as on the chart, is, by his reckoning, 71° 46'. Doctor Douglas states it from his Journal at 72°.—Dalrymple, however, and Arrowsmith, and all the chart-makers, have agreed to cut him down to about 69°, and if so, the sun was not always a good height above the horizon, for its declination being on the 18th July about 20°, he must have been, on that midnight, in the horizon.
Mackenzie's account is not more satisfactory. On his arrival among the Quarrellers, in latitude 68°, he was informed that the distance from thence to the sea, on the east side of the river, was not far, and on the west that it was still shorter; that the land on both sides projected to a point in the direction of the river, to which point be was proceeding,--at six miles beyond the Quarrellers, the river branched into a mul. titude of channels, separated by low islands, and banks of mud and sand. He took the mid-channel, which was to carry him to Benahulla Toe, or white man's lake, into which he entered in latitude 69° 1' N. This lake was quite open to the westward, and out of the channel of the river had only four feet, and in some places, one foot of depth ; he reached, however, an island to the westward. From the whole tenor of his statement, we certainly concluded that this was the sea, but are presently informed that his people could not refrain from expressions of real concern that they were obliged to return without reaching the sea. In the course of the night, they were disturbed by the rising of the water ; they also saw whales, but they were white; the guide, however, assured him they were the same that constituted the principal food of the Esquimaux; ‘ the tide appeared to rise sixteen or eighteen inches ;' he saw no natives, but found many of their huts, their domestic utensils, frames of sledges and of canoes made of whale-hone, which left no doubt on his mind that they were the deserted abodes of the Esquimaux. The latitude of Whale-island was 69° 14' N.-and with this slight and imperfect information, he returns from a long and painful journey, either not knowing or not chusing to say, whether he had been on the shore of the hyperbo. rean sea or not ; but evidently wishing it to be inferred, as the title of his book implies, and his chart asserts, that he had reached the frozen ocean.' Yet for some incomprehensible reason, he avoids even mentioning the name of the sea, but talks of a tide--a tide of sixteen or eighteen inches! The simple, easy and obvious test of dipping his finger in the water to taste if it was salt, seems not to bave occurred to him
as the titles of their books and all the charts assert, the existence of a passage would amount nearly to a certainty. The distance between Baffin's Sea and Behring's Strait is not more than 1,200 miles, of which that between the mouths of the Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers is about 400). On the charts the mouths of these rivers are nearly on the same parallel of latitude, i.e.about 69. Now there can be but little doubt chat the two continents of America and Asia have once been united, the trending of the coast of the latter continuing on the opposite side of Behring's Strait for more than 1000 miles nearly in the same line. On the American side, no land has been seen to the northward of the Icy Cape, and pone between it and Cape Lisburne ; Icy Cape is very low land, the Russians, whose regular establishments on the American continent extend as far north as 67° north lat. say that it is an island ; and so strong is the impression at Petersburgh of a practicable passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, round the northern coast of America, that Count Romanzoff, at his owu expense, has fitted out a stout vessel called the Rurick, commanded by Lieut. Kotzebue, son of the celebrated writer of that name, to make the attempt. She passed Plymouth last summer, where she was supplied with a life-boat, and during the summer of the present year, she is to endeavour to penetrate into the northern sea between Icy Cape and Cape Lisburne, or, on meeting with any impediment, to proceed round the former: it will be a singular event if the last, and we may almost say least of the maritime powers of Europe, should be the first to make this important discovery--so often attempted before she had a single ship on the ocean.
Thus then the coast of America may be presumed to preserve a line from Behring's Strait to Mackenzie's River, and from thence to Copper-mine River, a distance of 800 miles, fluctuating between the parallels of 690 and 70°, and we see not the slightest reason to question its continuance, in or near that line, for the remaining 400 miles to Baffin's Sea, or to the strait which connects it with Hudson's Sea: this is the only point to be discovered.-No human being has yet approached the coast of America, on the eastern side, from 66° to 72°. Davies, Baffin, and Foxe came nearest to it; but the attempts of the rest were chiefly confined to the southward. Middleton was in the way of making discoveries, if, instead of losing his time in Wager River, he had continued to coast to the northward,
The solution of this important problem is the business of three months out and home. The space to be examined, at the very if he did so, he is uncandid in not mentioning the result—if he did not, he is woefully deficient in that sagacity which has always been accounted a prominent feature in the character of a North-Briton. Under all the circumstances mentioned by these two travellers, we may perhaps conclude that both were near the sea-shore, but neither of them reached it.
utmost, is from the 67th to the 71st parallels, or (four degrees of latitude.
Two small schooners of 80 or 100 tons, under the command of a skilful Naval Officer, with a couple of Greenland fishermen to act as pilots through the ice, would be sufficient for the purpose. They should proceed at once up the very middle of Davis's Strait, keeping to the westward so as not to raise their latitude higher than 720, and having cleared Cumberland Island, edge away to the southward. Hitherto most of our adventurers have worked their way through Hudson's Strait, which is generally choked up with ice; then standing to the northward they have had to contend with ice drifting to the southward, with contrary winds and currents ; these inconveniences would be obviated by standing first to the latitudes of 71° or 72o and from thence southerly and westerly till they either reached Hudson's Bay, which would decide the question in the negative, or till they saw the north coast of America, which would go far to complete the discovery.
Disappointment is generally fertile in apologies for failures; we need not therefore be surprized if we find some assert that no such passage exists, and others pronounce its inutility if it should be discovered, from the uncertainty of its being free from ice any one year, and perhaps practicable only once in three or four years. Such an apology for our present ignorance of every thing that regards the geography, the hydrography, and meteorology of the north-eastern shores of America, might be pleaded by mercantile speculators, but can have little weight with those who have the interests of science at heart, or the national honour and fame, which are intimately connected with those interests. When the government offered a reward of £20,000 for the discovery of the Northwest Passage, and £5000 to him who should approach within one degree of the North Pole, it was not with a view to any immediate commercial advantages that this liberal encouragement was held out, but with the same expanded object that sent Cook in search of a “Southern Continent. If, however, the continent of America shall be found to terminate, as is most likely, about the 70th degree of latitude, or even below it, we have little doubt of a free and practicable passage round it for seven or eight months in every year ;
and we are much mistaken if the North-west Company would not derive immediate and incalculable advantages from a passage of three months to their establishment in Columbia River, instead of the circuitous voyage of six or seven months round Cape Horn; to say nothing of the benefit which might be derived from taking in their cargoes of furs and peltry for the China market at the mouths of Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers, to which the northern Indians would be too happy to bring them, if protected
by European establishments, at these or other places, from their enemies the Esquimaux.
The polar regions of the globe within the arctic circle offer a wide tield for the researches of a philosophic mind; yet, in point of science, very little is known beyond what is contained in the account of Captain Phipps's voyage to the neighbourhood of Spitzbergen. The natural history, though the best, is still but imperfectly known; the sea and land swarm with animals in these abodes of ice and snow, and multitudes of both yet remain to be discovered and described. It is an important object to obtain more accurate observations on those huge niountains of ice which float on the sea; it is no longer a question that the field or flaked ice is frozen sea-water, though itself perfectly fresh; and it is almost as certain, though doubted by some, that the huge masses which the Dutch call icebergs, are formed on the steep and precipitous shores, from whence those thunderbolts of snow' are occasionally hurled into the deep, bearing with them fragments of earth and stones. 'I came,' says Foxe, by one piece of ice higher than the rest, whereupon a stone was of the contents of five or six tonne weight, with divers other smaller stones and mud thereon.
It is a common but we believe an erroneous opinion, that the temperature of our climate has regularly been diminishing, and that it is owing to the ice having permanently fised itself to the shores of Greenland, which, in consequence, from being once a flourishing colony of Denmark, is now become uninhabitable and unapproachable. We doubt both the fact and the inference. It is not the climate that has altered, but we who feel it more severe as we advance in years; the registers of the absolute degree of temperature, as measured by the thermometer, do not warrant any such conclusion; and more attempts than one to land on the coast of Greenland must be made, before we can give credit to its being bound up in eternal ice-which is known to shift about with every gale of wind—to be drifted by currents—and to crumble and consume below the surface of the water. We suspect indeed, that the summer heat, which in the latitude 801° Phipps found to be on the average of the month of July at 42° of Fahrenheit, during the whole twentyfour hours, and once, when exposed to the sun, as high as 861°, dissolves fully as much of the ice and snow on the surface of the sea as the preceding winter may have formed.* It appears too, that
* In the Transactions of the Wernerian Society are published several Meteorological Journals of Mr. Scoresby, a whale-fisher of Hull, which, compared with that of Phipps, would seem tu sanction the idea of a decreasing temperature, the average height of the thermometer, in the months of July in 1811 and 1812, being only about 33°, and very often below the freezing point, though in a lower latitude by three degrees than that in which Captain Phipps observed it; but the fishing vessels penetrate the fields, of ice, the open spaces of which are frequented by whales; and there can be no donht this diminished temperature is owing to their being in the midst of an atmosphere chilled by the surrounding ico.
there are times in the depth of winter when the temperature is exceedingly mild; and the intense frosts are undoubtedly moderated by the caloric given out from the Aurora borealis, which in these regions affords not only an admirable compensation for the short absence of the moon, but imparts a considerable degree of warmth to the lower regions of the atınosphere, fillmg the whole circle of the horizon, and approaching so near the surface of the globe as to be distinctly heard in varying their colours and positions. . I have frequently,' says Hearne, · heard them making a rustling and crackling noise, like the waving of a large flag in a fresh gale of wind.' The electric aura, it is well known, will raise the mercury in the tube of the thermometer, but no experiments have been made to ascertain the degree of heat given out by these henbanes or petty dancers, as Foxe calls them, which must be very considerable; as Button says, 'the stream in the element is like the flame that cometh forth from the mouth of a hot oven.' Almost every voyager into Hudson's and Baffin's seas complains of the occasional hot weather, and the great annoyance of mosquitoes on the shores. Duncan, when surrounded with ice, had the thermometer in August at 56° in the shade, and 82° in the sun. Yet the cold in winter is more intense than they have yet been able to measure either by a mercurial or spirit thermometer. It is a well established fact, that on the eastern sides of great continents, the temperature is greatly below that in the same degree of latitude on the western sides : thus, while the whole of Hudson's Bay, the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland, down to 46° may be said to be, in winter, one mass of ice, not a particle of ice was ever seen in the sea on the western side of America, to the southward of 64° or 65o. The delicate humming-bird is not uncommon at Nootka, and was seen by Mackenzie at Peace River, in latitude 540 24. The cold of Halifax, in latitude 44° 40', is much more intense than that of London in 511°. Pekin, in less than latitude 40°, has generally a constant frost for three months every year; and ice, the thickness of a dollar, is not uncommon at Canton, under the tropics. On the coast of Jesso, in latitude 45° 0,4', Captain Krusenstern found the ground covered with snow in the middle of May, and vegetation more backward than at Archangel, in latitude 641°, in the middle of April.
Some of our old navigators ascribed the great variation and irregularity of the magnetic needle in Hudson and Baffin's Seas, to the effects of cold ;* and others to the attraction of particular
* Foxe observed that the needle near Nottingham Island had lost its powers, which, among other things, he ascribed to the cold air interposed between the needle and the point of its attraction Ellis conceived the cold to be the cause of the irre. gular action of the needle, and he says, that the compasses on being brought into a warın place recovered their action and proper direction.