Imágenes de páginas

and none

government, and by his perseverance and sanguine representations obtained the Furnace bomb and the pink Discovery, to be appropriated for this service, under the orders of Captain Middleton, a commander in the British navy, who had served as master in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company for many voyages. Middleton left England in 1741, wintered in Churchill River, and in the summer of 1742 proceeded up the Welcome to Wager River, and looked into (he says sailed round) what he was pleased to call Repulse Bay._From hence he returned to the southward. On his arrival in England, Dobbs accused him of wilfully misrepresenting his discoveries, to curry favour with his old employers, and of having taken a bribe of 5000l. from them not to make any

discoveries. He denies the bribe, but adınits that he might have said to some of the governors that he would discover the

passage of those with him should be the wiser for it. His officers too swore to his having misrepresented facts. The Lords of the Admiralty called upon him to answer the charges preferred against him by Mr. Dobbs, which he did at full length; but without satisfying them. To evince, on the contrary, how strongly impressed they still were with the probability of a north-west passage, their Lordships procured an act the following year (18 Geo. II.), for granting a reward of twenty thousand pounds to the person or persons who should discover a north-west passage through Hudson's Strait to the western and southern ocean of America; a discovery which the preamble states to be of great benefit and advantage to the trade of this kingdom.'

The offer of this reward immediately brought forward new adventurers, who raised by subscription a sum sufficient to equip two ships, the Dobbs commanded by Captain Moor, and the California by Captain Smith, which left the Thames in May, 1746. On the

I th August they reached the coast of America about Marble sland, and having made some observations on the height, direction and velocity of the tides, they stood to the southward and wintered in Port Nelson, where they were treated with great jealousy, and closely watched by the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. They remained here, we know not why, till the 1st July, when they again proceeded to the northward, and examined Wager's Strait; here the two commanders differed respecting the examination of Repulse Bay, and the ships returned to England, without having accomplished any other discovery beyond that of ascertaining Wager Water to be a deep bay or inlet. Two accounts of this voyage were published; one, containing many curious and sensible observations, by Mr. Ellis, the other, a laboured and conceited performance in two volumes, by the Clerk of the California.'


After this the spirit of discovery in the north seems totally to have sunk; and the Hudson's Bay Company were left in that state of apathy which seems most congenial to their habits and interests. They sent, it is true, Mr. Hearne thirteen hundred miles in search of copper, and after the lapse of a hundred years they discovered that Chestertield's Inlet at the distance of a hundred leagues from one of their establishments, was not the north-west passage ; but they never once thought of sending any one a little farther to the north, where probably in half the distance travelled by Hearne, the sea coast would have interrupted the traveller's progress.

The government, however, was vigorously prosecuting new dis coveries; and, after so many failures to the northward, it was resolved to employ the celebrated Cook to determine the exact situation of the two continents of Asia and America, or, in other words, to examine the Strait of Anian. On this occasion a new act was passed (16 Geo. III.) granting a reward of twenty thousand pounds to any person or persons who should discover any northern passage for vessels by sea, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in any direction or parallel to the northward of the fifty-second degree of northern latitude. In the same year Cook sailed from the Thames with the Resolution and Discovery. On the 9th August, 1778, he determined the western extremity of America, to which he gave the name of Cape Prince of Wales, to be in 65° 46' N. long. 191° 45'; and, when in lat. 66° 5', the width of the Strait which divides the two continents of Asia and America, to be about fourteen leagues. Standing to the northward he named a point of land on the American coast Point Mulgrave, the lat. of which was 67° 45'. He continued up the Strait till he was in lat. 70° 33', in an open sea, but soon after, in 70° 41', found himself

close to the edge of the ice which was as compact as a wall,' and ten or twelve feet high. In returning to the southward he saw, on the American side, a low point in lat. 70° 29', to which he gave the name of Icy Cape. As the ice was still near the ships in lat. 69° 32' while there was none in proceeding to the northward, he concluded that the whole was a moveable mass, though he could not detect any current. To a point of high land in lat. 69° 5', he gave the name of Cape Lisburne. It being now near the end of August, Captain Cook repaired to Oonalashka, and from thence to the Sandwich islands, with the intention of renewing the examination of the Strait the following year; but by his unfortunate death, that task devolved on Captain Clarke, who entered the Strait toward the end of June, 1779, on the Asiatic side. On the 6th July he had reached the lat. 67° N. and, after encountering much ice, that of 70° 33'. On the 19th, in 69° 34', he got sight of the land on the American side to the S. E. but could not

[ocr errors]



come near it—and this, with Cape Prince of Wales, viewed from the middle of the Strait, were the only two points he saw on the coast of America: after some further attempts on the Asiatic side, be returned to Kamschatka, though the month of July had not yet expired. Without attaching blame to Captain Clarke, whose constitution was so debilitated that he died before they Teached Kamschatka, or to Captains Gore or King, we think that, had Cook lived, he would not so soon have abandoned this great object. It is admitted in the narrative of the voyage, that the

impenetrable barrier of ice' occasionally breaks up and is moved about in every direction; that as far as their experience went,' the sea to the north of Behring's Strait is clearer of ice in August than in July; and that perhaps in September it may still be more free; it is also admitted that there is less probability of success on the Asiatic, than on the American side of the Strait; and yet it is known that Deschoeff succeeded in passing the Strait from the porth side of the Asiatic continent: under such admissions, it was certainly unfortunate that the attempt should so soon have been abandoned.

About the same time Lieutenant Pickersgill was sent in the armed brig Lion to examine the western parts of Baffin's bay-but the choice was unfortunate; he never once entered Baffin's bay; and Lieutenant Young, who superseded him and proceeded under similar instructions the following year, reached only the 72d degree of latitude, cruizing along the eastern instead of western side of Baffin's bay, and consequently among the ice which almost always clings to the shore. His talents, as Dr. Douglas observes,

were more adapted to contribute to the glory of a victory, as commander of a line of battle ship, than to add to geographical discoveries, by encountering mountains of ice, and exploring unknown coasts.', : The Hudson's Bay Company were again left free, for manyyears, from the apprehensions of a discovery of the north-west passage. Fortunately, however, for the world, it rarely happens that a generation passes away without producing men zealous for their country's weal, and the honour of science. Mr. Dalrymple, late hydrographer to the Admiralty, after carefully examming the question of the north-west passage, was decidedly of opinion that the problem was still to be solved; and conceiving with Dr. Douglas that the governor and committee of the Hudson's Bay Company had made amends for the narrow prejudices of their predecessors, and that no further, obstruction would be thrown in the way of those who might be sent on discovery,' he prevailed on them to employ Mr. Duncan, a master is the navy, and now master attendant of his Majesty's dock-yard at Chatham, who had exbibited considerable talent on a voyage to Nootka Sound, on this service. Mr. Dalrymple had long been of opinion that not only Greenland, but all the land said to have been seen by Baffin on the northern and eastern sides of the great bay bearing his name, was composed of clusters of islands, and that a passage through the fretum Davis,' round the northern extremity of Cumberland island, led directly into the North Sea, from the 70° to the 71° of latitude. It is thus marked on an ancient globe, the first, we believe, ever made in this country, and now in the library of the Inner Temple, which contains all the discoveries of our early navigators ; it is, in fact, the only remaining record of this kind, as charts were then rude and not in fashion. Davis himself refers to it; and Hackluit, in his edition of 1589, has celebrated this early specimen of geographical science.* On inquiring after this globe, we were told, that it had recently been new-coated, and that Mr. Arrowsnith's sketches had succeeded to the discoveries of Frobisher and Davis! We are slow to believe that the venerable Benchers of the Temple can have given their sanction to so barbarous and sacrilegious an act, as that of defacing this curious and valuable relic of antiquity.+


* Hackluit apologizes to the gentle reader · for inserting into the worke, one of the best generall mappes of the world onely, untill the coming out of a very large and most exact terrestriall globe, collected and reformed, according to the newest, secretest, and latest discoveries, both Spanish, Portugall and English, composed by M. Emmerie Mollineux, of Lambeth, a rare gentleman in his profession, being therein for divers yeeres greatly supported by the purse and liberalitie of the worshipful marchant, Mr, William Sanderson. This is thc globe which the Benchers of the Temple are said to have white-washed.

+ Mr. Dalrymple caused a copy to be taken of those parts of this globe relative to the present question. On this sketch, we see with pleasure, the Drogio and the Friese land of the two noble Venetians, the Zeni; we observe the latter where it always was and still is, at the southern extremity of Greenland, a little above the 60th parallel of latitude; still holding its head above water, in spite of the volcanoes and the earthquakes created by the Duc d'Almadover and Delisle, the Abbé Zurla and Sig. Amoretti, to overwhelm it in the ocean. We see no reason to disbelieve (as some affect to do) the fact stated by Nicolao Zeno of the friars of the monastery of St. Thonias warming their rooms, cooking their victuals, and watering their garden from a spring of hot water; such springs are known to exist : and what should prevent these friars in that dreadful cold region from availing themselves of an article so obviously useful and effectual? Is there any thing more extraordinary in the friars of Greenland boiling their victuals in the water of a hot spring than the party in the suite of Lord Macartney's enbassy boile, ing the fish in the hot springs on the margin of the volcanic crater, in which they were caught, on the island of Amsterdam? The blind monk whom Dethmar Plefkins saw in the monastery of Helgafiel, in Iceland, and who was himself thrust, when young, into the convent of St. Thomas, in the very early part of the sixteenth century, long before Ramusio published the letters of the two Zeni, corroborates all that Zeno stated, adding that the walls of the monastery were built of pumice-stone. There is one simple fact mentioned by Nicolao Zeno which no man in the fourteenth century could know or imagine who had not lived among the Eskimaux~their boats, he says, were framed of the bones of fishes and covered with their skins; and they were shaped like a weaver's shuttle-a description so just and a resemblance so perfect, that from that time to this, it has been adopted by every succeeding voyager.


[ocr errors]

Never was man more sanguine of success in any undertaking than Mr. Duncan. In 1790 he went out in the Company's ship Şea-horse, to take the command of a sloop in Hudson's Bay, called the Churchill. He found, on his arrival, á crew who affected to be terrified at the idea of going on discovery; the Company's servants told him the vessel was totally unfit for such a purpose, and that she could not be made sea-worthy in that country; though Mr. Duncan says he has since learned that she had been constantly employed for twenty years afterwards. Seeing nothing to be done there he immediately returned to England, resolving to have no further concern with the Hudson's Bay Company—but the governors expressed so much regret and disappointments, and Mr. Dal rymple was so urgent for following up the discovery, that he consented to take the cominand of a strong well-built ship of eighty-four tons, called the Beaver, fitted to his mind, and stored for eighteen months. He left the Thames on the 2d May, 1791, but did not reach the height of Charles's Island in 630 lat. till the 2d August, nor Churchill River till the 5th September, when all hope of accomplishing any thing that year was at an end. It is remarkable that our early adventurers, at a time when the art of navigation was in its infancy, the science but little understood, the instruments few and imperfect, in barks of twenty-five or thirty tons burthen, ill-constructed, ill-found and apparently ill-suited to brave the mountains of ice through which they had to force their way, and the dark and dismal storns which beset them—that these men should have succeeded in running through the straits to high latitudes and home again in less time than Mr. Duncan required to reach one of the Hudson's Bay Company's establishments, the route to which was then as well known as that to the Shetland islands.

Mr. Duncan remained in Churchill River till the 15th July in the following year, got into Chesterfield Inlet and returned to Churchill about the end of August; his crew having mutinied, encouraged, as he states, by his first officer, who was a servant of the Company. ~Here grief and vexation so preyed on his mind as to render a voyage which promised every thing, completely abortive :-thus terminated the last and the least efficient of all the expeditions (excepting that of Gibbons) for the discovery of the North-west Passage!

All these failures, however, are by no means conclusive against its existence. We must bear in mind that not one of the adventurers proceeded, on the eastern side of America, beyond the Arctic circle; and that on the western side, or Strait of Behring, three points of land only to the northward of Cape Prince of Wales have been seen at a distance, the northernmost (Icy Cape) in lat. 70° 20'; the next, (Cape Lisburne,) in 699 5', and the third (Cape


« AnteriorContinuar »