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“The largest floe was from two and a half to three miles square, and in some places the thickness of the ice was from fifteen to twenty feet. Still these were 'fields ;' for in no one instance had we any difficulty in sceing the margins of them in more directions than one, by mounting a tolerably high hummock; and from a much less elevation than that of a ship’s masthead, the whole extent and form of such floes would have been very easily discernible. However, it was a satisfaction to observe that the ice had certainly improved ; and we now ventured to hope that, for the short time that we could still pursue our onward journey, our progress would be more commensurate with our exertions than it had hitherto proved. In proportion, then, to the hopes we had begun to entertain, was our disappointment, in finding, at noon, that we were in latitude 82° 43' 5", or not quite four miles to the northward of yesterday's observation, instead of the ten or eleven which we had travelled ! However, we determined to continue to the last our utmost exertions, though we could never once encourage the men by assuring them of our making good progress, and setting out at seven in the evening, soon found that our hope of having permanently reached better ice was not to be realised ;
LONG TIME GETTING TO 83o.
for the floe on which we slept was so full of hummocks, that it occupied us just six hours to cross it, the distance in a straight line not exceeding two miles and a half. At midnight, on the 22nd, we had a good observation in latitude 82° 43' 32", being, as usual, the mean of two observers. After this, our road once more consisted of small rugged masses, and little pools of water, requiring many launches. In addition to these impediments, the wind, which had been from the N.N.W. at our setting out, again shifted to north, and freshened up considerably. We halted at seven A.M., after a laborious day's work, and I must confess, a disheartening one to those who knew to how little effect we were struggling ; which, however, the men did not, though they often laughingly remarked that “we were a long time getting to this 83°!” Being anxious to make up, in some measure, for the drift which the present northerly wind was in all probability occasioning, we rose earlier than usual, and set off at half-past four in the evening.
“When we first launched the boats, our prospect of making progress seemed no better than usual, but we found one small hole of water leading into another in so extraordinary a manner that, though the space in which we were rowing seemed to be always coming
to an end, we continued to creep through narrow passages, and when we halted to dine at half an hour before midnight, had only hauled the boats up once, and had made, though by a winding channel, four or five miles of southing. This was so unusual a circumstance, that we could not help entertaining some hope of our being at no great distance from the open sea, which seemed the more probable from our having seen seven or eight narwhals, and not less than two hundred rotges, a flock of these little birds occurring in every hole of water. The wind was from the southward, with a thick fog, and the clear water increased so much, as we proceeded, that at six A.M., on the 9th, instead of hauling up the boats as usual we served an extra supper, and then pursued our way.
“The distance traversed during this excursion was five hundred and sixty-nine geographical miles ; but allowing for the number of times we had to return for our baggage during the greater part of the journeys over the ice, we estimated our actual travelling at nine hundred and seventy-eight geographical, or eleven hundred and twenty-seven statute miles. Considering our constant exposure to wet, cold, and fatigue, our stockings having generally been drenched in snow
IF THEY HAD HAD A STEAMER.
water for twelve hours out of every four-and twenty, I had great reason to be thankful for the excellent health in which, upon the whole, we reached the ship.
“There is no doubt that we had all become, in a certain degree, gradually weaker for some time past; but only three men of our party now required medical care, two of them, with badly swelled legs and general debility, and the other from a bruise ; but even these three returned to their duty in a short time.”
This enforced return of Parry is so interesting in its minutest details we have no scruple in our conscience in drawing so largely from it. It is only after a careful perusal of its stirring events that we can comprehend the regret this great man must have felt when at last compelled to return southwards, more especially since he had looked wistfully towards the northern sea, and could hardly detect upon its surface a floe large enough to float his party and boats upon, and the water to the southward of his position was so open, their progress home was through long lanes of water bounding thin fields of ice, so thin that they were incapable of offering support to the boats, and over water thinly covered with newly-formed films of ice a steamer would have found no difficulty, worthy of the name, in forcing a way through. And if it should happen that a steamer did get caught in the ice here, she would naturally drift south, at the rate of about six miles each day, that being the rate at which the ice fields move during the year.
Another difficulty to be anticipated on this Swedish journey. The reindeer, tractable at all times and easily managed by their Lapland keepers, may in some gale of wind prove untractable, and it is possible the whole may become separated, or they may drift away on the broken fields of ice. Such a loss is hardly to be endured. In that case two boats will be discarded as incumbrances no longer of service, and their fortune will be staked on the remaining and smallest of the three. The deer, we learned, were suffering from the journey, and two out of the herd had already died.
Should the deer fail them they will have recourse to the ordinary food of Arctic travellers, that“ pemmican” we have heard of so often and so few of us have tasted.
If the exploring party of twelve is forced to depend upon this little boat of some sixteen feet it will cause much discomfort to the explorers; but even this “detail” has been carefully studied, and we saw the dog-skin mantle which is to serve as their sleeping coverlid if it should come to this. Dog-skin is found far warmer