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current; the ice-bergs that come floating down from the northward; and the whale struck in the sea of Spitzbergen and taken the same year in Davis's Strait;* these and the rude charts painted on skins by the Indians, which, though without scale or compass, mark the inlets from Hudson's Bay with tolerable accuracy, and carry the coast without interruption to the Coppermine River, are strong arguments in favour of a north-western communication between the Atlantic and the Pacific,
Indeed the best geographers are now of opinion that Greenland is either an island or an archipelago of islands; and this is no new idea. Among the Burleigh Papers,f in the British Museum, is one on the subject of a north-west passage to Cathaia in his lordship's own hand-writing, which begins thus :—“ Considering Groynelande is well known to be an islande, and that it is not conjoyned to America in any part; that there is no cause of doubte but that upon the north of Baccalaos the seas are open,” &c.
This supposed insularity of Greenland will most probably be determined by one or other of the expeditions. If in the affirmative, the next question that presents itself is, whether an uninterrupted communication exists between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The simple fact of a perpetual current setting from the Pacific into Behring's Strait, and a perpetual current down the coasts of Greenland and Labrador into the Atlantic, renders such a communication extremely probable; and it becomes almost certain, when we find the productions of the shores of the Pacific carried to the northward by the first current, and brought down into the Atlantic by the second. The journals of Cook, Clerke, Glottof, and Kotzebue establish this fact. And as we know, from the Russian, the English and the Dutch navigators, that a westerly current sets along the coast of Siberia and Europe, from the Kovyma to the White Sea, it is probable that the water, in passing through Behring's Strait into the Polar Sea, diverges on each side, and that the other part of it, following the trending of the American coast, gives rise to the current down the Welcome, as observed by Button, Fox, Middleton and others.
* Quarterly Review, No. XXXVI. Art. VIII.
In the Lansdowne Collection, vol. c Paper No. 4, ens dorsed Mr. Greynfeld's Vojadge, &c.
It must be admitted, at the same time, that although a communication may, and in all probability does, exist between the two oceans, it by po means follows that there must also be found a navigable passage for large vessels; though it is not unfair to infer that, where large mountains of ice can float and find their way, a ship may do the
same. This, however, is the point to be ascertained by the expedition under Captain Ross. While this officer, with two vessels under his orders, is employed in examining the unexplored part of the east coast of America, to the northward of the arctic circle, and in endeavouring to pass along the northern shore of that continent to Behring's Strait, to Captain Buchan is assigned the task of inquiring into the state of the Polar Sea to the northward of Spitzbergen. Should boih fail of success in the main objects of the expedition, from both may at least be confidently expected much valuable information, and improvement in the hydrography and the geography of the arctic regions; as well as many important and interesting observations on the atmospherical, magnetical, and electrical phenomena, which cannot fail to advance the science of meteorology ; and lastly, many valuable collections of objects in natural history, which inhabit a part of the globe where few researches bave yet been made in this branch of science. In short, from the zeal and abilities of the persons employed in the arduous enterprize, every thing may be expected to be done within the scope of possibility. Of the enterprize itself it may be truly characterized as one of the most liberal and disinterested that was ever undertaken, and every way worthy of a great, a prosperous and an enlightened nation ; having for its primary object that of the advancement of science, for its own sake, without any selfish or interested views. On this account it has justly excited the attention, and called forth the approbation, of maritime Europe; for it is well known that whatever new discoveries may be made, will be for the general benefit of mankind; and that if a practicable passage should be found to exist from the Northern Atlantic into the Northern Pacific, the maritime nations of Europe will equally partake of the advantages, without having incurred either the expense or the risk of exploring it.