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of a large size. The latitude of the Quarrellers is about 67° 45'. On the 10th they passed three encampments of the Esquimaux. The river now began to widen fast, and to flow in a number of narrow meandering channels among low islands, on which were only observed a few dwarf willows.
On the 12th July they entered a lake, in latitude 69° 1', open to the westward, in which, out of the channel of the river, there was not more than
not exceed one foot. They arrived at an island, the deepest water in the passage to it for fifteen miles not exceeding five feet. From a high part of this island they could see the solid ice extending from the south-west by compass to the eastward. “In the south-west they could dimly perceive a chain of mountains, at the distance of more than twenty leagues, stretching farther to the north than the edge of the ice. To the eastward were observed many islands. Mr. Mackenzie says, “My people could not at this time refrain from expressions of real concern that they were obliged to return, without reaching the sea.” Yet we are told that the people were obliged to remove the baggage on account of the rising of the water; that this rising they concluded to be the tide ; and that it appeared to rise sixteen or eighteen inches: there were besides a great number of whales in the water, which, the guide informed them, were the same kind of fish which
constituted the principal food of the Esquimaux. On the island where they encamped, and which he called Whale Island, several red foxes were seen, one of which was killed. The latitude of Whale Island was 69° 14' N. No natives appeared either on the shore of the continent or on the islands ; but in various places were seen the remains of their habitations, their domestic utensils, frames of sledges and of canoes made of whalebone, which left no doubt on Mr. Mackenzie's mind that they were the deserted abodes of the Esquimaux.
If Hearne's account of his visits to the mouth of the Copper Mine River was unsatisfactory, that of Mackenzie to the mouth of that river which bears his name is still more so; for we are completely left in the dark, and almost without the smallest guide to form an opinion, whether the extensive but shallow water, in which Whale Island is situated, be the sea or a lake. He evidently means to impress the reader with an idea of its being the sea, but forbears even the mention of the word; yet the title of his book * implies, and on his chart it is asserted, that he had reached the “frozen ocean.” It is observed by a writer in a popular critical journal, † that “ the simple, easy, and obvious test of dipping his finger in the
America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans.
+ The Quarterly Review, No. XXXI. p. 167.
water to taste if it was salt, seems not to have occurred” to the traveller ; that “if he did so, he is uncandid in not mentioning the result:" and the conclusion drawn by the same writer, from all the circumstances mentioned by Hearne and Mackenzie, is, that both were certainly near the seashore, though neither of them actually reached it.
The inland journey of Mr. Hearne had drawn the attention of Mr. Dalrymple to the consideration of the imperfect geography of the northern regions of America, and the lands around the north pole. In the course of his inquiries he was furnished with some charts made by the Indians, and other documents, from the Hudson's Bay Company, which led him to conclude that, notwithstanding the numerous failures in the search after a northern passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, such a passage would ultimately be discovered round the north-eastern extremity of America, and that the surest way to it was up the Welcome. But as the naval administration of that day entertained less sanguine views on the subject, and as Mr. Dalrymple had experienced the truth of Dr. Douglas's observation, that “ the Governor and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company had made amends for the narrow preju
dices of their predecessors, and that no further obstruction would be thrown in the way of those
himself to the Governor of that Company, and prevailed on him to employ MR. CHARLES Duncan, a Master in the navy, (now Master-attendant of His Majesty's dock-yard at Chatham,) who had shewn considerable talent on a voyage to Nootka Sound.
Mr. Duncan was no less sanguine of success than Mr. Dalrymple. In 1790 he left England in one of the Company's ships called the Sea-horse, to take the command of a sloop named the Churchill, then in Hudson's Bay, and destined for the discovery. He found, on his arrival, a crew who affected to be terrified at the idea of proceeding to the northward on discovery. The Company's servants endeavoured to persuade him that the vessel was totally unfit for such a purpose, and told him, that there were no means in that country to make her sea-worthy—though Mr. Duncan has since learned that this same vessel was constantly employed for twenty years afterwards. Finding that every impediment was thrown in his way, and nothing likely to be done that season, he returned to England, resolving to have nothing further to do with the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. However, on his arrival in England the Governors expressed so much regret and disappointment, and Mr. Dal
rymple was so urgent for following up the discovery, that he was prevailed on to take the command of a strong well-built ship of eighty-four tons, called the Beaver, fitted to his mind, and stored with eighteen months' provisions. He left the Thames on the 2d May, 1791, met with much ice on entering Hudson's Strait, and was so hampered with it among the straits and islands, that he did not reach the height of Charles's Island, which is only in latitude 63°, till the 2d August; and on the 5th September entered Churchill River, when all hope of being able to accomplish any thing for that year was at an end. It has been observed, as something very 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 burden, ill-constructed, ill-found, and apparently ill-suited to brave the mountains of ice between which they had to force their way, and the dark and dismal storms 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's delay was
* Quarterly Review, No. X.XXI, p. 166.