« AnteriorContinuar »
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,
Which justice warrants, and true wisdom guides :
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
dam, and a fishing-bark; the two first under the command of Cornelis Cornelisz Nay, who had served as pilot with the Muscovites in the Northern seas. In the ship of Enchuysen Jan Huygens van Linschoten went as commis, or agent for the merchants. The ship of Amsterdam and the small bark were under Willem Barentsz, a seaman of great reputation.
On the 5th of June, 1594, the four vessels departed in company from the Texel, and, the 23rd of the same month, arrived at Kilduyn, an island and port near the entrance of the river Kola, in Lapland. From this place W. Barentsz sailed with the Amsterdam ships and the small bark for the North of Nova Zembla. The other vessels directed their course for the Waigatz Strait. In the navigation between Kilduyn and the Northern part of Nova Zembla, 140 fathoms depth of water was found ; and at one time of sounding, the depth was more than 150 fathoms, that length of line not reaching to the bottom.
On the 29th of July, Barentsz was in latitude by observation 77° N., the most Northern point of Nova Zembla, then bearing due East. Large impenetrable bodies of ice prevented him from advancing beyond this Cape, and it was therefore named Ys-hoek, or Ice Cape.
The two vessels under Cornelisz Nay, sailed from Kilduyn to the Waigatz. In this passage they had
soundings generally under 60 fathoms; they saw several of the vessels called Loddings, and killed a young whale which measured in length 33 feet.
The lodding is constructed of the interior bark of trees, and instead of nails or iron fastenings, the planks and other parts are sewn or bound together with cords. It has one mast and a square sail.
July the 21st, they saw land before them, which was believed, and which proved, to be Waigatz Island. Linschoten describes it elevated, of good prospect, covered with verdure, but without trees. At three leagues distance they had soundings at 32 fathoms depth ; and at a quarter of a league, 10 fathoms. At noon, the latitude was observed 70° 20' N. “A quantity of floating wood, trunks, branches, and roots of trees, covered the surface of the sea here, and the water was black like the water of the canals in Holland.” This muddiness seems to indicate that the wood came from a river not far distant. They sailed S.S.E. along the coast, with depth from 12 to 9 fathoms. There were rocks near the shore, but they showed above water. Snow lay on the land only in a few places.
As they sailed on, they saw wooden crosses, supposed to have been set up by Russians. They sent a boat to the shore, and a man was seen, who ran away very swiftly, although “hobbling from side to side as if
he had been lame, as the Laplanders and Finlanders generally do." The Hollanders pursued but could not overtake him. Two reindeer were seen, which also fled. There was much herbage on the land, flowers of every colour, some of them of fine odour; and lawns, the covering of which was more like moss than grass. Much wood lay heaped on the shores, whole trees large enough to have served for masts and yards if there had been occasion. Some lay far above any high water mark, which was probably effected by ice being forced on the land by the sea, and other ice.
The ships proceeded to the S. E. and South, anchoring at times.
A correct description of the navigation in Waigatz Strait is not to be expected from the early accounts.
Some things are doubtfully expressed, and could not be explained without danger of mistake ; but many useful particulars of information may be collected with safety. The imperfection of our present knowledge of this Strait may be imagined, from the charts lately constructed differing something more than two degrees in the latitude of Waigatz Island.
The 22nd they proceeded to the Southward, anchoring at times along the Western coast of Waigatz Island. At noon the latitude was observed 69° 45'N. In the evening they had a fresh wind at East, and sailed by land which they could not clearly ascertain