Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the outer margin of our barrier and drifted away. The canal formed by laying sand on the ice was now quite through in most places, showing that the plan would, in this latitude at least, always ensure a ship's escape at an earlier season than by the reg. ular course of nature, provided it could be carried the whole way down to the open water.

I am now under the disagreeable necessity of entering on a subject which I had at one time ventured to hope need scarcely occupy any part of this narrative : I mean that of the scurvy, some slight but unequivocal symptoms of which disease were this day reported to me, by Mr. Edwards, to have appeared among four or five of the Fury's men, rendering it necessary, for the first time during the voyage, to have recourse to antiscorbutic treatment among the seamen and marines.

It will, perhaps, be considered a curious and sin. gular fact in the history of sea-scurvy, that during the whole of the preceding part of this voyage, none among us but officers were in the slightest degree affected by it, a circumstance directly contrary to former experience. To whatever causes this might be attributed, it could not, however, but be highly gratifying to be thus assured that the va. rious means employed to preserve the health of the seamen and marines had proved even beyond ex. pectation efficacious.

That a ship’s company began to evince symptoms of scurvy after twenty-seven months' entire depend. ance upon the resources contained within their ship (an experiment hitherto unknown, perhaps, in the annals of navigation, even for one fourth part of that period), could scarcely, indeed, be a subject of

wonder, though it was at this particular time a matter of very sincere regret. From the health en.

joyed by our people during two successive winters, unassisted as we had been by any supply of fresh antiscorbutic plants or other vegetables, I had be. gan to indulge a hope that, with a continued atten. tion to their comforts, cleanliness, and exercise, the same degree of vigour might, hunanly speaking, be ensured at least as long as our present liberal resources should last. Present appearances, how. ever, seemed to indicate differently; for, though our sick-list had scarcely a name upon it, and almost every individual was performing his accustomed duty, yet we had at length been impressed with the unpleasant conviction that a strong predisposition to disease existed among us, and that no very pow. erful exciting cause was wanting to render it more seriously apparent. Such a conviction at the

present crisis was peculiarly disagreeable ; for I could not but lament any circumstance tending to weaken the confidence in our strength and resources at a time when more than ordinary exertion was about to be required at our hands.

The 1st of August had now arrived; and yet, incredible as it may appear, the ships were as securely confined in the ice as in the middle of win. ter, except that a pool of water, about twice their own length in diameter, was now opened around them. I determined, therefore, notwithstanding the apparent hopelessness of sawing our way through four or five miles of ice, to begin that laborious process; not, indeed, with the hope of cutting a canal sufficiently large to allow the passage of the ships to sea, but with a view to weaken it so much

as in some measure to assist its disruption when. ever any swell should set in upon its margin. On this and the following day, therefore, all the gear was carried down for that purpose, and a large tent pitched for the ships' companies to dine in, the dis. tance being too great to allow them to return on board to their meals. On the 3d, however, we were saved a great deal of unnecessary labour, by the ice opening out at the crack before mentioned. so that our sawing might now be commenced with. in a mile of the Fury. After divine service, there. fore, all hands were sent from both ships to bring back the tent and tools to the point of Oongalooyat, and the parties were recalled from the walrus.fish. ery, except a single boat's crew: these also return. ed on board a few days after, the whole number of seahorses killed being eight, and one large seal.

On the 4th our sawing work was commenced, with the usual alacrity on the part of the officers and men, and three hundred and fifty yards of ice were got out before night, its thickness varying from one to four feet, but very irregular on account of the numerous pools and holes. An equal length was accomplished on the following day, though not without excessive fatigue and constant wet to the men, several of whom fell into the water by the ice breaking under them.

On the 5th, the register-thermometer, which had been placed in the ground in the winter, was taken up, though, to our astonishment, the ground above and about it had become nearly as hard and compactly frozen as when we dug the hole to put it down. How this came about we were quite at a loss to determine ; for the earth had been thrown

in quite loosely, whereas its present consolidated state implied its having been thoroughly thawed and frozen again. It occupied two men ten days to extricate it, which, as they approached the ther. mometer, was done by a chisel and mallet, to avoid injury by jarring. This, however, was not suffi. cient to prevent mischief, the instrument being so identified with the frozen earth as to render it im. possible to strike the ground near it without com. municating the shock to the tubes, two of which were in consequence found to be broken. Thus ended our experiment for ascertaining the tempera ature of the earth during the winter ; an experiment which it would seem, from this attempt, scarce. ly practicable to make in any satisfactory manner without some apparatus constructed expressly for

the purpose.

On the 6th the work was continued as before, and about four hundred yards of ice were sawni through and floated out, leaving now a broad canal, eleven hundred yards in length, leading from the open water towards that formed by the gravelled space.

When the lateness of the season to which the ships had now been detained in the ice is considered, with reference to the probability of the Fury's effecting anything of importance during the short remainder of the present summer, it will not be wondered at that, coupling this consideration with that of the health of my officers and men, I began to entertain doubts whether it would still be pru. dent to adopt the intended measure of remaining out in the Fury as a single ship; whether, in short, under existing circumstances, the probable evil did

not far outweigh the possible good. In order to assist my own judgment on this occasion upon one of the most material points, I requested the medical officers of the Fury to furnish me with their opinjons “as to the probable effect that a third winter passed in these regions would produce on the health of the officers, seamen, and marines of that ship, taking into consideration every circumstance con. nected with our situation.” Their answer was de. cidedly adverse to remaining; and it was fortified with such good reasons, connected with the health of the officers and crews, as scarcely to leave me. at liberty to adopt any other course than that of returning to England with both vessels.

Enclosing to Captain Lyon the replies of the medical gentlemen, I now also requested his opinion whether, under existing circumstances, he still considered it expedient to adopt the measure origi. pally intended, with respect to the separation of the two ships. I had scarcely despatched a lette: to this effect, when, at 10 A.M. on the 8th, the ice about the Fury began to move, the pools breaking up, and the gravelled canal soon entirely closing. A breeze springing up from the northward at this time, all sail was made upon the ship, and the ice gradually driving out as it detached itself from the shore, the Fury got into open water about one P.M. The Hecla, however, still remained in the middle of her winter's floe, which, though it moved a little with the rest at first, did not come out of the bay. In the course of the afternoon, finding her still sta, tionary, I determined to occupy the time in stretch, ing over to the northward, for the purpose of ex. amining the state of the fixed ice at the eastern

« AnteriorContinuar »