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bergen. Turning to look seaward, a splendid scene repaid us somewhat for our regret at the careless waste of life. Our eyes wandered at will over the vast sea, where only a few blocks of ice lay scattered on its surface ; beyond these the ice-fields were spread so far as to seem limitless, while the peculiar Aretic sky lent a charm to the whole it is impossible to describe. We sat and watched the many curious features presented by the unusual prospect, and to us it realized an entirely new kind of enjoyment, which we can only compare to a feeling of profound satisfaction and relief.
We returned from our excursion to the shore. We shot a fox. Start not, my hunting friends! to us the fox is as sacred as to yourselves. Our fox was not russet red; he was a decidedly blue fox, and blue foxes may be shot with perfect propriety. Our blue fox was to us a perfect treasure; white foxes, brown foxes, and even black foxes abound in Spitzbergen ; but a little blue fellow was worth bagging, and we carried him gaily to the boat. As we were stepping on board, a blackish-coloured fox, closely resembling the surrounding objects seen in the dusk of evening, crept slyly after us. We could not make him out, however, and we gave up the pursuit. The sailors had seen two black foxes in our absence, which appeared to them to be as large as good-sized retriever dogs. For three days we
.: A REMOTE GUANO BED.
remained here in hopes of adding to our stock of oil, the sea being rather noted for its whales outside Prince Charles Island, but on the fourth we bore up for the fiord, having had no chance of gain.
Here a party of Swedes have entered into a curious speculation. Agriculturalists in England and elsewhere having once benefited by the application of guano to the soil, seem in nowise inclined to forego the gain it brings. The sea coasts and rocky islands, the cliffs and coral reefs of the world, are ransacked in search of the precious stimulant to vegetation, and the homes of countless birds we have seen cannot be far removed from deposits the farmer covets. So, here also have come the guano-hunters, and having prospected, they have settled to the work ; a hut large enough to shelter the gang of diggers has been constructed near the shore, and all the appliances are ready. But to winter here has been more than the Swedes would undertake, and for the present the place is deserted ; some few Norwegians we have met around the coasts have stopped for a time in the place, hunting, as we were lately doing, for whales, but, like us, they had no success. All the long season they waited for the whale that never came, and as there was nothing else, they left, empty as they came. All the season went by without a chance presenting itself by which a single boat could fill her hold with Arctic produce, and this account applied to all the few foreign whalers we had met throughout our cruise.
We bore down the coast to Green Harbour, where we found two fishing schooners at anchor; from them we obtained some salmon, said to be peculiar to Spitzbergen. They had been captured by a net which had been the property of the former Russian settlers, and although this net had remained unused for years, it was perfect in its preservation. We found in this fact fresh evidence, if further evidence were needed, of the strange effect this peculiar climate has in keeping everything exposed to it intact. Further up this bay we landed at a place where coal is indicated on the chart, and sure enough we found a rich-looking coal, good cnough for most purposes, considering the small portion we gathered, in order that we might have it tested in the galley fire, had been collected from the surface only. Some specimens we brought back gave promise of a much finer quality to be found at some distance below the surface, but we had no opportunity during our short visit of testing it in that particular way. This seam of coal crops out all along the surface for some very considerable distance. We once made inquiries of those on board the steamer off Red Beach if they had used this coal, but it was at once con
demned by the men as useless, so strong is the prejudice of people wedded to a preconceived opinion. Pushing on into Coal Bay, where we expected to find even a better quality, our surprise was great to see no indication of a seam, or any trace of coal whatever. There was nothing of interest here to detain us after this natural disappointment, and we sailed away further into Green Harbour ; and as this place looked a likely one for continuing our geological studies, only so lately roused by the search for carbon, we examined closely along the coast for fossils of every kind. Good eyes once opened upon any special subject are sure to be rewarded, and our search produced a heap of specimens of great geological interest, to us at least. Here we found shells, and wood, and leaves of trees fossilized, and showing the structures of their organization perfectly. Here in former times deciduous trees must have flourished, or why should their stems and leaves abound in a fossil state at the present day? We found semi-fossil bones of the whale and other animals of a later geological period; and we noticed that the water, so pure and delicious to the palate, was too hard to combine with soap in producing a lather in the usual way, and our cocoa paste declined to combine with it under any amount of compulsion.
“True fortitude is seen in great exploits,
In the last chapter we mentioned a fresh proof of the conservative nature of the Arctic climate, and the most recent fact which goes to illustrate it is the discovery of Barentsz relics at Nova Zembla last year. To understand these facts we give at some length the story of that remarkable man.
According to Burney the historian, permission to discover a way to India by Nova Zembla and along the coasts of Tartary, was readily obtained, in 1580, from the States-General of Holland, who took so great an interest in the enterprise, that they promised a gratuity of twenty-five thousand florins to the individuals who should undertake the voyage, if they succeeded, and also special privileges of trade during the space of eight years, to commence from the date of the discovery.
The first of these expeditions was undertaken by a ... ship of Zealand, a ship of Enchuysen, one of Amster