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return home. The main object of our voyage however, the principal, and to our idea the most essential to modern science, was the following up of the observations commenced by our friend in the preceding year.
He had noticed in the course of some deepsea sounding experiments, that the water is of a high temperature at a depth of 400 fathoms, showing a difference of go at that depth when compared with the temperature at the surface ; a fact so extraordinary as to lead scientific men to assume that this, our assertion, is so contrary to the laws laid down by modern savans, that they do not hesitate to declare that the statement we made was impossible to be received. To confirm these observations, then, was the main purpose of our journey this year (1872).
One word respecting our schooner : rigged with the usual foresail, topsail, and top-gallant sail, three jibs, fore-trysail and mainsail, she differed at first sight in no way from an ordinary pleasure yacht; but a second glance at her heavy spars, her massive bows supported with stout iron bands firmly bolted to her stem, and extending round the bluff of her bows to about twelve feet aft, evidently to protect her in encounters with the ice, her false gripe, to give her plenty of fore-reach, convinced us that the work cut out for her was no child's play. Looking closer, we found her frame was coated with double planking, to offer the strongest resistance that could be devised to protect her from the grinding pressure of the ice,--and an inspection of her interior confirmed our readily-formed opinion : her ribs and strengthening pieces were extra strong.
We soon gathered from her general aspect, that she was built for strength combined with speed.
In her former most prosperous voyage she was manned, on some mistaken theory, with a crew of Norwegian whale-fishers, but the superstitious fears of these curious people overcame every attempt to prosecute a voyage so well begun, and our friend was most reluctantly compelled to relinquish an opportunity of sailing into the sea whose very existence is denied by some, although the season was of rare suitability for such an exploit.
Quite a crowd of people composed of the friends of the hardy sailors who are to accompany us, and of others, nautically inclined, who seem to take a lively interest in a journey they do not hesitate to speculate on freely, all day long stand loitering about the schooner. They seemed never to grow weary in watching our operations, and we marvelled that so many hands could be spared in so busy a place, where there should be occupation for everybody ; but a kind of fascination held them to the spot, and when
everything was complete, and we were actually being towed away from these earnest onlookers, they were compelled reluctantly to leave off gazing on a ship about to sail round Spitzbergen.
The schooner and such attractions as Hull has to offer to a stranger so distracted our attention we hardly noticed the time slipping by. The 11th of May came at last, with a cold northerly wind and heavy rain, arguments which left no other alternative for us than the necessity of waiting for a favourable change. While we waited, Mr. Rickaby returned home from a sealing expedition to the west ice, between Jan Mayen's Island and Greenland, where he had been fortunate enough to secure, in lat. 73° north, some seven thousand seals. He had difficulties to contend with in this voyage, of no small degree. Frozen for three weeks in the pack that surrounded them, they drifted south as far as Iceland, but at length the ice gave way, and they were once more set free.
The pursuit of the seal at this early season (in March) is, therefore, an enterprise not unattended with danger
—but the tempting wages paid to needy and adventurous seamen on successful voyages always secures a crew, while the awful experiences of those who have escaped from former hazardous expeditions at this season of the year, seem to have little or no effect upon the men themselves or their ready listeners. Only in the previous year thirty-two American whaleships were beset, and their crews fearing to be compelled to endure all the horrors of an Arctic winter in ships but ill-provided with the necessary provisions, left them, and travelled over the ice to their more fortunate companions who were safe on the outside of the floe, and so escaped with their lives, only too glad to leave their own vessels to the mercy of the ice, and the savage onslaughts of the storms of the Arctic seas.
On Monday, the 13th of May, the warps are ready, a steam-tug has taken a final hold of the Samson to tow her out. The wharf is still lined with the same people ; there, in the crowd, are the wives and families of the married portion of the crew. The surging mass raise a parting shout as we slowly move towards the entrance of the dock, and hurrying to the next point of vantage, give many another hearty cheer, which told us plainly that their anxious and best wishes are sincerely with us.
We have Captain Wells on board, and he seems, even at the last moment, more than half resolved to come with us, but the ties of home are too strong upon him, and he fills up all the short remaining time at his disposal in giving final instructions, and many scraps of valuable advice. He explains many important facts
to be always kept in view, and as he fears they may be forgotten when occasion will demand their most careful attention, these, with other hints of equal value for our guidance, he has carefully written down and presented to us. We distinctly remember one solemn warning he gave us against too hastily landing upon ice, or even ice-bergs, in pursuit of game, and told us that once he himself had incautiously stepped on to a huge mass, with the intention of shooting an Arctic bear, when the great berg, so finely balanced in the sea that it needed but the addition of his weight to make it come crashing down with an awful noise, toppled over into the sea. The sea itself was lashed into a fury by the fall, and in the confusion that ensued he narrowly escaped being drowned. These enormous masses of ice often rolled over as we gazed upon them, owing to the water, being warmer below, causing the ice to thaw more rapidly, when the upper part, which is heavier, totters, the ice beneath is suddenly overbalanced, and the portion that was lately submerged is now suddenly tilted into the air through the disturbance of the equilibrium of the mass. At last the time came to part with our gallant friend, and our attention being drawn off from the receding tug-boat, we began to notice the fact that our schooner was already battling bravely with a high and heavy sea, the result of