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Expedition under Captain Ross and Lieutenant PARRY, in the
Isabella and Alexander.
MY DEAR SIR,-You were pleased ranging down the western coast of to say, on our departure from Eng. Baffin's Bay to the southward; but we land, that nothing would gratify you have learnt from experience, that in more, than to learn from me, as op- these regions one does not increase the portunities might occur, the progress cold by increasing the latitude, as I we made in our voyage of discovery. shall now proceed to shew you more On the strength of this flattering en- fullycouragement I wrote to you a long let I must premise, however, that I am ter towards the end of July, just as the writing to you without book. Our last whalers were about to take their commodore took possession of all the departure for England, which I find logs, journals, remark-books, and came safely to your hands. At that charts, and carried them off with him time our hopes and spirits got the bet- from the Humber to the Admiralty, ter of all doubts and fears; for though so that all our opinions and specula we were then beset on every side with tions on what we have done, and ice, yet we had seen enough, and learned what we have left undone, are at headenough, both from the Danes below, and quarters ;-I mention this in order to all the masters of the whalers around claim indulgence for any lack of precius, to be assured, that the ice was rapid- sion in dates and numbers; but the ly disappearing, partly from the heat main facts of the voyage are too strongof the sun, but mostly I believe from ly imprinted on my mind to need any the constant friction of one flaw or written monitor. mass against another, and from the About the 9th of August we got so action of the salt water upon them. I far up the coast of Greenland as to rebelieve I told you also of the fineness cognise the Cape Dudley Digges of of the climate, and that we had once, Baffin, but still hampered with the on the top of an ice-berg, the tempera- ice. When near this Cape, we very ture by Fahrenheit's thermometer at unexpectedly observed something like more than 80° when exposed to the human beings moving towards us on sun, and that the effect of his power the ice, which separated us, from the ful rays was not only felt, but very vi- shore about seven or eight miles. On sible in the streams of water which a nearer approach we perceived that poured down the sides of all these stu- they were actually men, sitting on low pendous masses, like so many moun- sledges, driven by five or six dogs in tain cascades. It is not however the each. When within a mile or less of sun's rays that chiefly contribute to the ships, they stopped short, but haldestroy the ice they are of too rare looed and shouted at a great rate. Just occurrence to produce any such per. at this time some signals were making manent effect; for the torrents conti- between the ships, which probably nue to fall, and the field-ice to dis- alarmed them, for they suddenly solve, apparently just as much in the wheeled round, and set off again to ordinary weather of the Arctic regions, wards the shoré in full gallop, at a which, generally speaking, is mild, speed which we supposed to be at least but foggy, and the atmosphere mostly equal to that of our mail-coaches; of loaded with clouds, or some kind of course we soon lost sight of them bevapour, as when the sun shines forth hind the hummocks of ice. Every in all his glory ;-when I say mild, I body regretted their sudden disappearmean that there is little or no wind, ance; and in order if possible to bring and that Fahrenheit's thermometer them back, and to explain our friendly ranges from 320 to 40° in the shade; intentions, Captain Ross caused å once, and I believe but once, it was white flag to be hoisted on a hillock of down to 24°, but very often above 40°. ice, on which was painted a hand holdI am now speaking of the month of ing a green branch of a tree-a colour August, and I may add that Septem- by the way, and an object not very ber brought with it no diminution of common in this part of the world; temperature, it is true we were then there were also left on the ice some
presents placed on á stool, and an Es, such as spirits could carry ; they askquimaux dog with beads about hisneck; ed him what skin it was made of? every thing however remained un- Thus, by degrees, they conversed totouched on our return from an attempt gether; and when Jack told them any to push to the northward through the thing that pleased them, or to which ice, and the poor dog was lying down they gave their assent, it was indicaon the very spot where we left him. ted by pulling their noses. In a short On the third day the natives were time they had got into familiar conagain observed at a distance, coming versation ; and Jack having learnt that towards us, they now approached there was plenty of water to the north, within a few hundred yards of the came running to the ship for a plank ship before they stopped, but percei- to enable them to cross. Captain Ross ving that they had no inclination to and Lieutenant Parry now went to come nearer, Jack Saccheus, the Es meet them. On approaching the ship quimaux whom you saw with his ca their astonishment was unbounded noe on the Thames, volunteered to go every object drew from them an ejaout to them. It required no small culation of hai-ya! accompanied with degree of courage to undertake this en- immoderate bursts of laughter. They terprise, as the southern Esquimaux laid hold of the ice-anchors, the åre firmly persuaded, that there is a smith's anvil, the large spars of wood, race of giants dwelling in the moun as if they could carry them off, and tains to the northward, who are ex. expressed the utmost astonishment apa ceedingly ferocious, and great canni- parently at their unexpected weight; bals, and Jack of course believed this they seemed like men who distrusted story of his countrymen. It happen- the sense of sight, and could not satised, however, fortunately perhaps for fy themselves of the reality of objects, all parties, that, at the place where until they had grasped them; to view they halted, the ice had separated, themselves in a looking-glass, but leaving a canal of a few feet in width. more especially in a concave mirror, They immediately began to talk and made themi almost frantic with joy and bawl in a language which Jack at first wonder, and drew forth such bursts of did not understand, but by a little at- laughter, and exclamations of surprise, tention he discovered that the lan were never heard before. The guage they made use of was that of masts of the ship, and a top-mast on the southern Esquimaux, somewhat deck, attracted their most profound atdifferent in the pronunciation, as well tention, which is not at all surprising, as in many of the words themselves, especially when they were assured that but he soon found that he could make they were pieces of wood. A man who out their meaning. The questions never saw a tree, nor even a shrub be they put to him, with great eager- yond a birch or willow twig of the ness, were to the following purpose : thickness of a crow's quill, must neWho are ye?-What are ye?--Where cessarily be incredulous that the do you come from?-Are you come from mast of a ship could be made of the the moon?-What are those two great same material. The two substances birds ?--Jack told them in reply, that with which they seemed be most he was a man like them ;—that he had familiar, were skin and bone ; and they a father and mother;—that he was always enquired of what skin our jacke made of flesh and bones, and that he ets, trowsers, shirts, hats, &c. were wore clothes ;-that the two great things made, and of what bone were our but which they called birds were houses tons, and most other solid substances. to live in. On hearing this, they all Glass of all kinds they took naturally called out, No, no, we saw them flap enough for ice. their wings, and they were sure that We gave them some bread, but they were Angekuk, or evil spirits, they spat it out ; some rum,
but they come to destroy them,--at the same could not bear it; and we learned time one of them pulled from his boot from Jack that they lived entirely on a sort of rude knife, which he held animal food, mostly on the flesh of out in a threatening posture, and said seals, sea-unicorns, bears, foxes, and he would kill him. Jack threw them birds; and when all these failed them, a shirt across the canal, that they that they eat their dogs. The bones might be convinced he carried about of the animals which serve them for with him substantial matters, and not food, supply them also with fuel ; and
a very fine soft moss, with long fi was found in the hut of a Southern brous roots, when dipped in fish oil, Esquimaux, with his collar bone brois used by them as candles or torches. ken. On inquiring how it happened, This moss grows in great plenty, and it turned out that his musket burst; very luxuriant. The bones also serve Jack having loaded it too deeply with them to make their sledges, which powder, on the principle (as he said) are fastened together with thongs of of “plenty powder, plenty kill.” skins. Their knives are certainly the It is very remarkable, that this new rudest instruments of the kind in the tribe of Esquimaux (which I find by whole world : they are nothing more the newspapers are ridiculously called than a flattened piece of iron, like a a New Nation) have no boats, nor any bit of a hoop, passed longitudinally in means of going upon the water, exthe groove of a fish's bone, and ex- cept on the ice, though the greater tending beyond it, at one end, about part of their subsistence is derived an inch ; and they are thus fixed, from that element; but we understood without the faculty of opening or shute that they managed matters very well ting. Mr Sabine took great pains, without them. The way in which through the medium of Jack's inter- they proceed to catch seals, is by going pretation, to learn where they got the to the openings or chasms in the ice, iron, and how they worked it; the re- lying down, and imitating the cry of sult of which was, that it was hewn a young seal, when the old ones imby a sharp stone, from a large mass mediately peep up; and while they found in the mountains at no great are endeavouring to scramble upon distance from the spot where we were; the ice, they are knocked on the head of course it was concluded that it must by the hunters, or run through with be native iron; and supposing it to a kind of spear made of bone. I rehave been recently discovered, this member reading of a similar practice circumstance may, in some measure, among the Southern Esquimaux. account for the rudeness of their man- They gave us some specimens of this ufacture, as the stitching of their Seal-music, and also of their songs, clothes and boots, and the putting to- which were any thing but music, and gether of their sledges, were by no accompanied with the most ridiculous
contemptible performances. gestures and grimaces. On the mur. They described two pieces of iron from ging of these notes in the ice, they alwhich they derived their supply; and so watch for the rising of the sea-unie each of which, by their account, might corns to blow, which it seems they are be equal to a cube of two feet. They frequently obliged to do. The flesh called it Sowie, and the place where it of this animal dried is a considerable was found Sowie-lick, the former of article of their winter food. Though which Jack observed to be the name afraid at first to go into the boat, they given to iron by the Southern Esquin appeared soon to be sensible of the ade
We now find, since our arm vantages of being able to float on the rival, that this iron turns out to be water, and one of them shewed a great meteoric, and that it contains the u. desire to get possession of Jack's casual proportion of Nickel; so that noe, after he had been told the use of Jack's interpretation, which some of it, of which he was before perfectly igus were disposed to doubt, has been norant; and nothing could more justified. Indeed he is a man on strongly prove their complete insularwhom the utmost dependence may be ity from their more southern neighplaced ; very intelligent, and always bours, than the circumstance of their ready to oblige; willing to learn, and not having the word kayiack (canoe) grateful to those who will take the in their language. trouble to instruct him, whether in Rude and ignorant as these poor writing, drawing, or any thing that creatures are, you must not believe he wishes to undertake,he is indeed what is stated in the newspapers, that a most valuable man. While speak- they had no knowledge of a Supreme ing of him I may observe, that we Being : this is not a subject to obtain were once afraid we had lost him, to correct notions about from savages, the great regret and sorrow of every whose language, we do not compreman on board. He had gone on shore, hend. Jack distinctly admitted that and did not return for two or three they entertained the same notions of days; but, on sending after him, he a good and evil spirit as their southern
neighbours do, and which all nations, it, melted the snow, and preserved the savage and civilized, with certain mo- colouring matter which it deposited. difications, seem to entertain. But I Various conjectures were hazarded as must quit the subject of these people, to this curious matter, and all the three lest I should tire you. One circum- kingdoms of nature were put in requistance, however, I cannot pass over, sition. Many a page was turned over which is this, that their winter habi, in our books of knowledge, with which tations were to the northward, and the Admiralty had liberally supplied that they came down south to pass the us; and, at length, some one, Captain summer where there is more ice and Sabine, I believe, found, in Rees Cye snow, and consequently more food to clopedia, the very thing we were in be had than in the former situation, search of, under the word “ Snow ;" a seeming paradox, the truth of which, but the account there given, left us however, was completely verified by just where we started. Saussure, it
On the very northern summit of told us, found snow of a bright red Baffin's Bay, which could not be less colour, on the Alps, and considered than 78°, there was much less snow the colouring matter as the farina of on the land, and much less ice on the some plant, while M. Ramond, who water, than we had hitherto met with found the same kind of snow on the in any part of Davis Straits, and these · Pyrenees, concluded it to be of minepeople had told us that we should find ral origin, and we now learn since our it so; well, therefore, might our new return, that ours at least is neither the friends deem this the happy country, one nor the other, but an animal suband conclude that all the world to the stance, the excrement of birds, as Mr south of them was ice and snow! And Brande supposes, from the quantity of if good looks and a cheerful demean- Uric acid it is found to contain ; and our may be considered as indications I have no doubt but he is right, for of happiness, they were certainly in in the very neighbourhood of it were the enjoyment of it: they were all in such myriads of birds, of the Auk excellent keeping, with faces as round kind (Alea Alce), that when they rose as the fiull moon, and exceedingly like up from the ice or the snow, they li. the people of Kamschatka and the terally darkened the sky; and close to Aleutian Islands. Their dogs, too, the spot where we landed, was one of were in excellent condition: they have their breeding places. If I say that long bushy tails like the fox, a rough they sometimes appeared in hundreds straggling mane round the neck, and of thousands, or even millions, it will have a general resemblance to the not give you an adequate idea of their wolf: they seem very quiet, and never numbers. We shot as many as we bark; but a young dog, since its ar- pleased, and fed the whole ship’s comrival at Deptford, has learnt to bark pany with them, being very palatable as loud and long as the noisiest dog in food, free from all fishy taste or smell, the place.
and they made most excellent soup. A breeze of wind, and an open sea, We used to bring down from twenty were occurrences of too rare and im or thirty at a single shot; and as we portant a nature to be neglected, and had reason to believe that these vast we accordingly availed ourselves of multitudes were chiefly confined to them, and steered to the northward, the upper part of Baffins Bay, we laid leaving these children of nature, and, in a stock for future supply, by place as we deemed them, of misery, with ing them in casks, with layers of poundout the smallest reluctance ; for, in ed ice between them. fact, they at last became bold and Having passed Cape Dudley Digges, troublesome, and attempted to steal we opened out a sound or strait, which every thing they could lay hands on. was considered to be that' of Baffin, We had not proceeded far, when a named “ Wolstenholm's Sound ;" but singular appearance, of a deep crimson the shallowness of the water, and the colour, on the surface of the snow, by ice within it, gave no hopes of a pasthe sides of the hills, attracted our ate sage that way, and we accordingly tention, and the more so when we passed it at the distance of 15 or 20 found it continuing in patches, for an miles. The “ Whale Sound” of Bafextent of ten or twelve miles. Hav- fin was not more promising ; but it aping landed near to one of the patches, peared to many very desireable that we collected a considerable quantity of we should have approached somewhat
nearer to “Sir Thomas Smith's Sound,” and every officer and man, on the inat the north-western extremity of the stant as it were, made up his mind that bay, which presented a very wide open- this must be the north-west passage ; ing; but we passed it at the distance the width of the opening, the extraor. of 50 or 60 miles. The land now dinary depth of water, the increased stretched S. W., and we ran parallel temperature, and the surrounding sea, with it, but at so considerable a dis- and the Strait so perfectly free from tance, that it was only to be seen at ice, that not a particle was seen floatintervals, when the weather cleared up, ing, were circumstances so encourage which it did, sufficiently to let us see ing, and so different from any thing we another opening, which we were will. had yet seen, that every heart panted ing to recognize as “ Alderman Jones' to explore this passage which was to Sound,” of Baffin. The weather was conduct us all to glory and to fortune. in general mild and exceedingly pleas- We had hitherto met with nothing ant,
and the sea in the whole of the that could in the smallest degree damp upper part of the bay, almost wholly our spirits; we had lived well, suffered free from ice, excepting now and then no fatigue, either from anxiety or bor a solitary ice-berg, floating, or a-ground. dily exertion; we had seen nothing like By the way, we could have no doubt, danger ; and we had been animated by from the immense glaciers which filled one sentiment; but nothing had yet the vallies along the shores of Baffin's occurred to inspire us with the hope Bay, and the great depth of water close of success in the great enterprise; we in with them, that the many hundreds had proceeded cheerfully, but without of these enormous masses we met with enthusiasm, and our ardour had rather in our progress through Davis' Straits, diminished as we begun to diminish some a-ground, and others a-float, had our latitude. But to find so grand an their origin in this bay. The appeare opening under such circumstances as I ance of these bergs is singularly cu have mentioned, and in the very spot rious, exhibiting the ruined forms of too of all others, most likely to lead castles and cathedrals, with their walls, us at once to the northern coast of gates, towers, and spires, in every staté America, was so unexpected, and at of decay; and they are sometimes so the same time so exhilarating, that I completely perforated, that boats may firmly believe every creature on board sail through them, in which case, if anticipated the pleasure of writing an the sun should happen to shine out, overland dispatch to his friend, either it is impossible to conceive a more bril- from the eastern or the western shores liant sight than that which is then of the Pacific. We stood directly into displayed. It is a scene to be met with this spacious inlet; the width cononly in the Arabian Nights Entertain tinued pretty nearly the same, as far ments; or if we are to look for its as we could see, and not a particle of parallel in real life, Hancock's glass ice on the water; neither was there shop in Cockspur street, in a sunny any appearance of land a-head. Every morning in the month of May, is the breast beat high, and every one was picture in miniature of an excavated desirous to mount the crows-nest, to ice-berg.
look out for the opening which should On the 30th August, when in lati- conduct us into the Polar Sea, near tude 744", or thereabouts, we sudden- the coast of the main-land of America. ly deepened our water from 150 or 160 We had not run, however, above ten fathoms, to the amazing depth of 750 leagues within the inlet, when the Isafathoms, and encreased its temperature bella bore up, and of course, the Alex from 32° to 36o. On the weather clear ander did the same, and we stood out ing up, we found ourselves a-breast of of the inlet ; why, we could not cona large opening, which we had no jecture, but under all sail. Our comdoubt, from its latitude, was that named modore, as it afterwards appeared, had by Baffin, " Sir James Lancaster's seen the land at the bottom of the Sound." From the northern to the inlet. It is impossible to describe to southern headlands, it appeared to be you the gloom that was immediately at least 50. miles in width. As we spread over every countenance, all their knew that Baffin had not entered this sanguine hopes being thus unexpectedsound, but stood away from it to the ly dashed to the ground. At the very south eastward, its appearance inspired spot where the Isabella bore up, the hope and joy into every countenance; depth of water was 650 fathoms, and