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there is easy communication between Spitzbergen and England for many months in the year, or from about May to September or October. A ship can easily find a winter harbour as far north as 80° or even 80° 30'N. Ships have reached 81° 42' N., and men have reached 82° 30' N. If past efforts have resulted in the greatest advance north by this route, it seems probable that future attempts will also be more successful by this route than by the others. The failures to reach the Pole by this route have frequently been brought forward as an objection; but this objection equally applies to the Smith Sound route. The special advantage attached to this route is that, owing to its being the broadest gateway to the Pole, the Polar ice flows outwardly in greater quantity than by the others. This renders it probable that the ice zone is narrowest on this side, since more of it is able to escape to the southern seas to be melted, whereas, on the other side, much ice is arrested by land. The warm flow from the Atlantic also has an influence in lessening the formation and accumulation of ice within the Arctic circle. The flow of warm water from the Pole may conjecturally be inferred to be more voluminous in this direction than any other, which would have the double effect of narrowing the ice-baud and of rendering it brittle in structure and more easily penetrable.
“Fond men ! if we believe that men do live
Under the zenith of both frozen poles,
Sir John Davis's “ Nosce te ipsum,” 1596.
An invitation from a friend, casually given, to join him in two days' time, at the Port of Hull, from whence he intended to sail on a summer cruise to the far north in his schooner-yacht, left but little time to make the necessary arrangements for an undertaking of this kind ; but the desire to see for ourselves such wonders of the Arctic seas as fill all books of Arctic enterprise so far out of the beaten track of modern travel,-made peculiarly interesting at the present time, when the question of Arctic exploration is uppermost in the minds of men all over Europe, now that the question has been rendered doubly important by the general inquiry respecting the action and influence of the Gulf Stream in the higher latitudes, -overcame all our scruples on the score of shortness of notice, and we accepted the offer without much hesitation. All our available time was, therefore, devoted to the selection of a suitable outfit, such as our then limited knowledge of these seas suggested. We calculated on a journey of some months' duration, with a lurking apprehension of a possibility of having to winter somewhere in theby all accounts—inhospitable region, where, if people are once “ beset,” they must prepare to endure unspeakable privations. We laid in, on this account, many sea stores, which in our haste seemed to us. absolutely essential for such a contingency, and others besides, that, had we more time at our disposal, might fairly have been dispensed with.
We hastened to say good-bye to such of our friends as we considered might take some slight interest in our welfare, and from them we received in turn hearty assurance of good wishes, with predictions that the voyage we were about to enter upon could not fail to: be full of pleasurable enjoyment of every kind.
We were at Hull at the time appointed, and there we found the splendid schooner-yacht, in the care of the worthy harbour-master of that busy place, at whose hands our good ship was receiving the last finishing touches previous to starting on her voyage. To him had been confided the overlooking of all the manifold requirements of the undertaking, and Captain Wells, an old whaling captain, who had gathered experience
in many Arctic voyages, seemed to take a special pride in the work he was busy upon. At one time he actually determined to resign his official post for a season, and come with us; the Trinity Board, entering fully into the spirit that actuated him, agreed to keep his office, by deputy, during his absence. But the fates ruled otherwise ; he has given hostages to fortune, and his wife and family held him back. We were the losers by this resolve, for his great experience in the navigation of the northern seas, coupled with his knowledge of the curious and ever-changing phenomena of the Arctic weather in relation to the movements of the ice in the far north (a knowledge to be gained only by long experience and the keenest interest in the subject) would have been to us of the greatest possible value; for it is needless to say, that there is no book existing, except, perhaps, the valuable contributions of Scoresby, from whose pages we could hope to draw the requisite instructions to guide us in moments of difficulty or danger, much less to direct us in the course we should pursue when in doubt. These old whaling captains alone possess the requisite knowledge at the present time, and men of science have but little opportunity of formulating the valuable observations in daily use amongst these hardy explorers, won by long acquaintance with the dangers to which they are daily exposed ; the more intelligent passing unscathed, while the less observant are compelled to struggle on in hopeless mazes, which too often render their venture fruitless, if no worse fate attends them, as we will have occasion to mention further on.
It may be well to mention that our friend had in the previous year sailed to the north of Spitzbergen, and in lat. 81° 24' had seen open water and islands to the north-east of Spitzbergen ; but his intention was, on the present occasion, if the season would admit of it, to advance still further north, and on his return voyage, if possible, to coast along the east side of Spitzbergen, and after rounding the north-east point to circumnavigate the island, a feat which had never yet been accomplished except by Barentz, two hundred and seventy-five years ago. It must be remembered that in those days navigators had not in use such instruments for observation as we now possess, to enable them to navigate a ship and determine the position of the land, which, as far as the east coast is concerned, is but poorly dealt with by the chart-makers. For many years the whaling captains who continue to contribute fresh facts respecting the land, have only added to our ignorance by suggesting corrections which make confusion worse confounded, by reporting their views upon the actual position of the places they have visited, on their