Imágenes de páginas

ing masses might have instantly broken into pieces. There was, however, no choice, except between this road and the more rugged though safer hum. mocks, which cost ten times the labour to pass over. Mounting one of the highest of these at nine P.M., we could discover nothing to the north. ward but the same broken and irregular surface; and we now began to doubt whether we should at all meet with the solid fields of unbroken ice which every account had led us to expect in a much low. er latitude than this. A very strong, yellow ice. blink overspread the whole northern horizon.

We stopped to dine at half an hour past midnight, after more than five hours unceasing labour, in the course of which time we had only accomplished a mile and a half due north, though we had traversed from three to four, and walked at least ten, having made three journeys a great part of the way. We had launched and hauled up the boats four times, and dragged them over twenty-five separate pieces of ice, After dinner we continued the same kind of travelling, which was, beyond all description, harrassing to the officers and men.

In crossing from mass to mass, several of which were separa. ted about half the length of our sledges, the officers were stationed at the most difficult places to see that no precaution was omitted which could ensure the safety of the provisions. Only one individual was allowed to jump over at a time, or to stand near either margin, for fear of the weight being too great for it; and when three or four men had separately crossed, the sledge was cautiously drawn up to the edge, and the word being given, the men suddenly ran away with the ropes, so as to allow

no time for its falling in if the ice should break. Having at length succeeded in reaching a small floe, we halted at half past six A.M., much wearied by nearly eleven hours' exertion, by which we had only advanced three miles and a half in a N.N.W. di. rection. We rose at six P.M., and prepared to set out, but it rained so hard and so incessantly that it would have been impossible to move without a complete drenching. It held up a little at five, and at six we set out; but the rain soon recommenced, though less heavily than before. At eight the rain again became heavier, and we got under shelter of our awnings for a quarter of an hour, to keep our shirts and other flannel clothes dry; these being the only things we now had on which were not thor. oughly wet. At nine we did the same, but before ten were obliged to halt altogether, the rain coming down in torrents, and the men being much exhaust. ed by continued wet and cold, though the thermom. eter was at 36°, which was somewhat above our usual temperature. At half past seven P.M. we again pursued our journey, and, after much laborious travelling, we were fortunate, considering the fog, in hitting upon a floe which proved the longest we had yet crossed, being three miles from south to north, though alternately rugged and flat. From this we launched into a lane of water half a mile long from east to west, but which only gave us a hundred and fifty yards of northing.

The floe on which we stopped to dine, at one A.M. on the 16th, was not more than four feet thick, and its extent half a mile square; and on this we had the rare advantage of carrying all our loads at one journey. At half past six the fog cleared away,

and gave us beautiful weather for drying our clothes, and once more the cheerful sight of the blue sky. We halted at half past seven, after being twelve hours on the road, having made a N.b. W. course, distance only six miles and a quarter, though we had traversed nine miles. We saw, during this last journey, a mallemucke and a second Ross gull: and a couple of small flies (to us an event of ridiculous importance) were found upon the ice.

We again pursued our way at seven in the even. ing, having the unusual comfort of putting on dry stockings, and the no less rare luxury of delightfully pleasant weather, the wind being moderate from the S.S.E. It was so warm in the sun, though the temperature in the shade was only 35°, that the tar was running out of the seams of the boats; and a blackened bulb held against the paint-work raised the thermometer to 72°. The floes were larger to-day, and the ice, upon the whole, of heavier di. mensions than any we had yet met with. The gen eral thickness of the floes, however, did not exceed nine or ten feet, which is not more than the usual thickness of those in Baffin's Bay and Hudson's Strait.

The 17th of July being one of the days on which the Royal Society of Edinburgh have proposed to institute a series of simultaneous meteorological ob. servations, we commenced an hourly register of ev. ery phenomenon which came under our notice, and which our instruments and other circumstances would permit, and continued most of them through, out the day. Our latitude, observed at noon, was 82° 32' 10", being more than a mile to the south.

ward of the reckoning, though the wind had been constantly from that quarter during the twenty-four hours.

After midnight the road became, if possible, worse, and the prospect to the northward more discouraging than before ; nothing but loose and

very small pieces of ice being in sight, over which the boats were dragged almost entirely by a “standing. pull.” The men were so exhausted with their day's work, that it was absolutely necessary to give them something hot for supper, and we again served a little cocoa for that purpose. They were also put into good spirits by our having killed a small seal, which, the following night, gave us an excellent sup. per. The meat of these young animals is tender, and free from oiliness; but it certainly has a smell and a look which would not have been agreeable to any but very hungry people like ourselves. We also considered it a great prize on account of its blubber, which gave us fuel sufficient for cooking six hot messes for our whole party, though the ani. mal only weighed thirty pounds in the whole.

Setting out at half past seven in the evening, we found the sun more distressing to the eyes than we had ever yet had it, bidding defiance to our crape veils and wire-gauze eye-shades ;* but a more effectual screen was afforded by the sun becoming cloud. ed about nine P.M. At half past nine we came to

difficult crossing among the loose ice, which, however, we were encouraged to attempt by seeing a floe of some magnitude beyond it.

We had to * We found the best preservative against this glare to be a pair of spectacles, having the glass of a bluish-green colour, and with side-screens to them.

a very

convey the sledges and provisions one way, and to haul the boats over by another. One of the mass. és over which the boats came began to roll about while one of them was upon it, giving us reason to apprehend its upsetting, which must have been attended with some very serious consequence : fortu. nately, however, it retained its equilibrium long enough to allow us to get the boat past it in safety, not without several of the men falling overboard, in consequence of the long jumps we had to make, and the edges breaking with their weight.

On the morning of the 20th we came to a good deal of ice, which formed a striking contrast with the other, being composed of flat bay-floes, not three feet thick, which would have afforded us good trav. elling had they not recently been broken into small pieces, obliging us to launch frequently from one to another. These floes had been the product of the last winter only, having probably been formed in some of the interstices left between the larger bodies ; and, from what we saw of them, there could be little doubt of their being all dissolved before the next autumnal frost. We halted at seven A.M., having, by our reckoning, accomplished six miles and a half in a N.N.W. direction, the distance traversed being ten miles and a half. It may therefore be imagined how great was our mortifi. cation in finding that our latitude, by observation at noon, was only 82° 36' 52", being less than five miles to the northward of our place at noon on the 17th, since which time we had certainly travelled twelve in that direction.

At five A.M. on the 21st, having gone ahead, as usual, upon a bay.floe, to search for the best

« AnteriorContinuar »