Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

relief; but in the April following, when they were once more set free, they learned that the man who might have saved them all this woe by one short hour's help, had informed every anxious inquirer that the Diana was secure from danger, and needed no assistance from without. Most of the crew survived their difficulties, but the captain and nine of the men were unable to cope with the sufferings of their enforced exile, and died during the winter. The remainder of the men, with tattered clothes, ill-suited to the severity of the climate, reduced to mere skeletons from want of food, and by reason of the sickness induced by their miserable condition, managed somehow to work their tottering bark, crazy and liable every minute to go to the bottom by reason of her injuries ; drifting rather than sailing as far south as the Shetlands, some fishermen at length fell in with her in the month of May. These worthy fellows, struck by the miserable appearance of the unfortunate Diana, ventured on board, and found the nearly worn-out survivors, some in their beds incapable of helping themselves, others on deck in nearly as sad a plight. They brought the leaky vessel safely into harbour, devoted themselves to the task of restoring the poor fellows to health and to their friends; and we now had two of these Diana men on board with us, who,

[merged small][ocr errors]

but for certain indelible marks caused by the exposure and incessant toil at the pumps, seemed as capable of enduring the vicissitudes of many a future year's Arctic voyaging as the ablest seaman on board our schooner.

For two days we have the dense fog thick about us. It is in vain we strain our eyes in the direction of Van Mayen's Island, whose snow-clad peaks of Beerenberg have often been seen at a distance of ninety miles ; but we know that we are in the vicinity of land by

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

the presence of sea-birds on the wing, whose flight is ever round the ship and towards the land we cannot see. Has not Providence placed these winged messengers of warning to protect the heedless sailor from rushing on a dismal fate? This rock-bound rugged

coast lies directly in the ship's course, and as we near their home the whole air is alive with white-winged armies, and the high cliffs are tenanted with another host at rest. It is a place of marvels ;-as if to mock the wondering crew, two rocks stand out from the land so exactly resembling swift-sailing ships, that even a reference to the chart, where the fact is duly recorded, hardly convinces us of their unreality. On they seem to come with all sail set, and heeling over to the favouring gale. But they are rocks and not ships, after all.

The best known feature of the island of Jan Mayen is the magnificent Peak of Beerenberg. This mountain rises in icy splendour to a height of some six thousand eight hundred and seventy feet above the sea-level.

The coast presents a rocky aspect; in some parts the bold cliffs rise out of the waves, and at such places are altogether inaccessible on the western side. There are, however, several indentations, and amongst these there are many that deserve the name of bays, and in these bays there are many spots where good anchorage can be found. It was here the Dutch formerly made little settlements or fishing stations, at a time when the "right whale” was found at certain seasons along the rocky coast, and at these stations they “tried” down the oil by suitable boiling apparatus erected near

[graphic]

BRENT GEESE, EIDER DUCKS, AND YOUNG SNOW GOOSE,

« AnteriorContinuar »