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appear legitimate, from the fact that our crews, consisting of one hundred and twenty persons, have for four winters been constantly undergoing, for months together, a change of from eighty to a hun. dred degrees of temperature, in the space of time required for opening two doors (perhaps less than half a minute), without incurring any pulmonary complaints at all.
In speaking of the external clothing sufficient for health in this climate, it must be confessed that, in severe exposure, quite a load of woollen clothes, even of the best quality, is insufficient to retain a comfortable degree of warmth ; a strong breeze 'carrying it off so rapidly, that the sensation is that of the cold piercing through the body. A jacket made very long, like those called by seamen “ pea
jackets," and lined with fur throughout, would be more effectual than twice the weight of woollen clothes, and is, indeed, almost weather-proof. For the prevention of lumbago, to which our seamen are especially liable, from their well-known habit of leaving their loins imperfectly clothed, every man should be strictly obliged to wear, under his outer clothes, a canvass belt a foot broad, lined with flannel, and having straps to go over the shoulder.*
It is certain, however, that no precautions in clothing are sufficient to maintain health during a Polar winter, without a due degree of warmth in the apartments we inhabit.
Most persons are apt to associate with the idea of warmth, something like the comfort derived from a good fire on a win
* Most Greenland sailors use these ; but many persons, both officers and men, have an absurd prejudice against what they call “ wearing stays."
ter's evening at home; but in these regions the case is inconceivably different: here it is not sim. ple comfort, but health, and, therefore, ultimately life, that depends upon it. The want of a constant supply of warmth is here immediately followed by a condensation of all the moisture, whether from the breath, victuals, or other sources, into abundant drops of water, very rapidly forming on all the coldest parts of the deck. Á still lower temperature modifies, and perhaps improves, the annoyance by converting it into ice, which again an occasion al increase of warmth dissolves into water. Nor is this the amount of the evil, though it is the only visible part of it; for not only is a moist atmosphere thus incessantly kept up, but it is rendered stagnant also by the want of that ventilation which warmth alone can furnish. With an apartment in this state, the men's clothes and bedding are con. tinually in a moist and unwholesome condition, generating a deleterious air, which there is no cir. culation to carry off; and, whenever these circumstances combine for any length of time together, so surely may the scurvy, to say nothing of other dis. eases, be confidently expected to exhibit itself.
Every attention was, as usual, paid to the occu. pation and diversion of the men's minds, as well as to the regularity of their bodily exercise. Our former amusements being almost worn threadbare, it required some ingenuity to devise any plan that should
possess the charm of novelty to recommend it. This purpose was completely answered by a proposal of Captain Hoppner, to attempt a masquerade, in which officers and men should alike take a part, but which, without imposing any restraint
whatever, would leave every one to his own choice whether to join in this diversion or not. It is im. possible that any idea could have proved more happy, or more exactly suited to our situation. Ad. mirably dressed characters of various descriptions readily took their parts, and many of these were supported with a degree of spirit and genuine hu. mour which would not have disgraced a more refined assembly; while the latter might not have disdained, and would not have been disgraced by, copying the good order, decorum, and inoffensive cheerfulness which our humble masquerade presented. It does especial credit to the dispositions and good sense of our men, that, though all the of. ficers entered fully into the spirit of these amusements, which took place once a month, no instance occurred of anything that could interfere with the regular discipline, or at all weaken the respect of the men towards their superiors. Ours were mas. querades without licentiousness; carnivals without
But an occupation not less assiduously pursued, and of infinitely more eventual benefit, was furnished by the re-establishment of our schools, under the voluntary superintendence of my friend Mr. Hooper in the Hecla, and of Mr. Mogg in the Fury. By the judicious zeal of Mr. Hooper, the Hecla's school was made subservient, not merely to the improvement of the men in reading and writing (in which, however, their progress was surprisingly great), but also to the cultivation of that religious feeling which so essentially improves the character of a seaman, by furnishing the highest motives for increased attention to every other duty. Nor was
the benefit confined to the eighteen or twenty indi. viduals whose want of scholarship brought them to the school-table, but extended itself to the rest of the ship's company, making the whole lower-deck such a scene of quiet rational occupation as I ney. er before saw on board a ship. And I do not speak lightly when I express my thorough persuasion, that to the moral effects thus produced upon the minds of the men, were owing, in a very high degree, the constant yet sober cheerfulness, the uninterrupted good order, and even, in some measure, the extra. ordinary state of health which prevailed among us during this winter.
The extreme facility with which sounds are heard at a considerable distance in severely cold weath. er, has often been a subject of remark; but a cir. cumstance occurred at Port Bowen which deserves to be noticed, as affording a sort of measure of this facility, or, at least, conveying to others some defi. nite idea of the fact. Lieutenant Foster having occasion to send a man from the observatory to the opposite shore of the harbour, a measured distance of 6696 feet, or about one statute mile and two tenths, in order to fix a meridian mark, had placed a second person half way between, to repeat his directions ; but he found, on trial, that this tion was unnecessary, as he could, without difficulty, keep up a conversation with the man at the distant station. The thermometer was at this time--18°, the barometer 30.14 inches, and the weather nearly calm, and quite clear and serene.
About one o'clock on the morning of the 23d Feb. ruary, the Aurora appeared over the hills in a south direction, presenting a brilliant mass of light. The
rolling motion of the light laterally was very stri. king, as well as the increase of its intensity thus oc. casioned. The light occupied horizontally about a point of the compass, and extended in height scarce. ly a degree above the land, which seemed, however, to conceal from us a part of the phenomenon. It was always evident enough that the most attenua. ted light of the Aurora sensibly dimmed the stars, like a thin veil drawn over them. We frequently listened for any sound proceeding from this phe. nomenon, but never heard any. Our variation needles, which were extremely light, suspended in the most delicate manner, and, from the weak di. rective energy, susceptible of being acted upon by a very slight disturbing force, were never, in a sin. gle instance, sensibly affected by the Aurora, which could scarcely fail to have been observed at some time or other, had any such disturbance taken place, the needles being visited every hour for several months, and oftener when anything occurred to make it desirable.
The meteors called falling stars were much more frequent during this winter than we ever before saw them, and particularly during the month of De. cember.