Imágenes de páginas

earnest entreaty, 'not to let his misfortunes tempt him to commit any rash act;' then, placing in his hand a guinea, with the delicacy of genuine benevolence, he hastily withdrew. Guy, roused from his reverie, followed the stranger, and warmly expressed his gratitude; but assured him he was mistaken in supposing him to be either in distress of mind or of circumstances, making an earnest request to be favoured with the uameof the good man, his intended benefactor. The address was given, and they parted. Some years after, Guy, observing the name of his friend in the bankrupt-list, hastened to his house; brought to his recollection their former interview; found, upon investigation, that no blame could be attached to him under his misfortunes; intimated his ability, and also his full intention to serve him; entered into immediate arrangements with his creditors, and finally, re-established him in a business, which ever after prospered in his hands, and in the hands of his children's children, for many years, in Newgate Street."

His humane plan of founding an hospital having been matured, Guy, at the age of seventy-six, procured from the governors of St. Thomas's Hospital, Southwark, the lease of a large piece of ground for a term of 999 years, at a rent of £30 a year. Having cleared the space which was then occupied by a number of poor dwelling-houses, he laid the first stone of his new building in 1722. He lived to see it covered in: but before the excellent machine had begun to work, he was laid in the grave; for the hospital received within its walls the first sixty patients on the 6th of January, 1725. His trustees faithfully effected the completion of his great and good design, and soon procured an Act of Parliament for establishing the foundation, according to the directions of his will. Large and profitable estates wrere afterwards purchased in Herefordshire and Essex, for the benefit of the institution : the lease of an additional piece of ground was also obtained, for which, with the former, the governors still pay an annual sum to St. Thomas's. On this were erected two handsome wings, connected by an iron railing and gates: and Guy's Hospital now occupies a site of five acres and a half. Against the stone front of the building, on entering, are two emblematic figures, ^Esculapius, the heathen god of medicine, and Hygeia, the goddess of health, daughterof jEsculapius. Inthewestwing isthechapel; and opposite, in the east wing, which is the older, is the Court-room. Here is a picture of Guy. Also a portrait by Phillips of the present Treasurer, B. Harrison Esq., who has filled that situation for nearly thirty-five years, and under whose kind and liberal management the hospital continues to prosper, and to fulfil the good its pious founder intended. The •wings, likewise, contain the residences of the principal officers.

Passing through the arches in the centre, we come to a long colonnade, on each side of which are two quadrangles, containing the wards for patients, there being altogether five hundred and thirty beds. ^5ome of the wards are for surgical cases, one for accidents; the remainder are filled according to circumstances. The buildings are airy, and well suited to promote recovery: and it is estimated that of about three thousand patients who enter in the course of the year, (the present average of admissions,) nine-tenths go out cured. Besides this, the hospital relieves upwards of fifty thousand outpatients. The means of usefulness, indeed, enjoyed by this admirable establishment, have lately admitted of an abundant increase, by the munificent bequest of 196,000/., made a few years since by Mr. Hunt;

a hundred inmates more being accommodated in consequence.

Passing directly through the colonnade, we arrive at the portion of the building which is assigned for the charge of twenty-lour female lunatics; some of whom, though they entered apparently hopeless cases, (as the epitaph on the founder implies,) have, we are happy to say, quitted their safe and hospitable retreat in a sound state of mind.

Further on, amidst trees which flourish well and give a look of cheerfulness, so delightful to many a languid sufferer when permitted to walk forth into the air, we reach the Museum. This is a neat modern building, comprising a valuable surgical collection, the principal feature of which is a vast variety of wax models, illustrative of the wonders of the human frame, and of remarkable cases of disease, executed with surprising accuracy by Mr. Joseph Towne of Guy's Hospital. M.


COMMERCE. II. Origin Of Navigation. The Ark. Ancient

Ship-building. Egypt. Roman Ships. Early

Commerce With India.

At what time the art of Navigation had its origin is unknown. We have no account of it3 existence previous to the time of Noah. It is, however, not improbable that the antediluvians were acquainted with it in some degree. A period of sixteen centuries, in which the life of man was so greatly protracted, it may reasonably bo supposed was not barren of inventions. But, however this may be, we have no account of any naval or commercial operations previous to the building of the ark. In the erection of that immense structure. Scripture informs us that Noah was particularly instructed from heaven. This would, doubtless, be necessary, whether he had any previous acquaintance with the art of ship-building or not. In framing a structure for purposes so widely di iTerent from those of common navigation, whatever general knowledge of that art he might have, would be of comparatively little use to him. The dimensions of the ark, too, were doubtless far greater than those of any work of naval architecture which he had before seen. The length of the ark is supposed to have been about five hundred feet, its breadth not far from eighty, and its height about fifty. Its burden is computed to have been about 81,000 tons.

The circumstances in which the immediate descendants of Noah were placed, were by no means favourable to the retention, much less to the improvement, of whatever naval skill they had acquired from their great progenitor. They were few in number, at some distance from the coast, in a country which furnished all the necessaries and many of the luxuries of life, and the world, untenanted and uncultivated, was all before them. The principal causes which have led to improvement in navigation, have been the desire of commerce with others, and the passion for discovery. In an unpeopled world, there were none with whom the immediate descendants of Noah could carry on commerce, and the regions around them were, as yet, too little explored, for them to think of searching for 'realms beyond the deep.' Hence it is not till several centuries after the Deluge that we find any records of commercial operations or attempts at discovery. Indeed, we have reason to think that a period of very considerable length elapsed before the people removed far from those mild and fertile regions, in which they found themselves at the cessation of the Deluge.

Among the countries earliest settled, after the Deluge, were probably Egypt and Greece. The contiguity of those countries to the regions from which the first migrations must have been made, the fertility of their soil, the salubrity of their climate, and the acknowledged antiquity of their history, all warrant this supposition. Yet of Greece we have no authentic accounts which carry us back further than 1000 years before Christ, and in regard to Egypt, though its settlement can be traced back further than that of Greece, we have no evidence that it was settled till a. considerable time after the Deluge. Tradition states, that the first settlements in Egypt were made by Misraim, grandson of Ham, 160 years after the flood.

Probably most of the early migrations of mankind were made by land; for not only the ocean, but even a channel, or frith, of any considerable extent, would, in the infancy of society, be invested with enough of terror to deter the unpractised wanderer from trying so dangerous a path to discovery. The colony that Misraim led to Egypt, probably preferred to cross the isthmus of Suez, rather than tempt the dangers, fearful indeed to them, of the Mediterranean antl Red Seas.

We may, however, safely conclude, that the inventive genius of man did not rest very long without attempting to find some way to surmount the obstacles to human intercourse and the settlement of the world, interposed by rivers and arms of the sea, and the still more formidable ones presented by the ocean itself. Doubtless, traditions, and probably some remains of knowledge relative to Noah and the ark, continued long to exist among his descendants. These would suggest the practicability of forming structures Which would form a safe means of conveyance across rivers and arms of the sea, as the ark had over the waters by which the world was covered.

The first attempts at ship-building and navigation after the Deluge, were probably the construction of rafts and canoes, and the guiding of them, with more or less skill, over the rivers that impeded the huntsman in nis pursuit of the chase, or the channels and arms of the sea that interrupted the communication between the occupants of opposite shores. Under these circumstances it would soon be found that the water, instead of impeding the intercourse of men with one another, furnished far better means and far greater facilities for carrying on that intercourse, than the land. Hence maritime intercourse between comparatively distant cities on the same coast would arise, and the commodities of one would be exchanged for those of the other. The conve nience of water as a means of transporting these commodities would become more and more obvious, as their commercial operations became more extensive, and this would excite increased attention to the arts of ship-building and navigation. In the course of the voyages thus made, new discoveries would from time to time occur, and these would stimulate the spirit of enterprise to more active efforts, and give it a higher tone. In this way we may safely conclude, that the foundation was laid for the advancement of commerce, and for the many splendid discoveries, which have attended and »ewarded the enterprise of subsequent ages.

Like all other arts the arts of ship-building and navigation were at first very imperfect. Naval operations which, in subsequent ages, would have been considered as unworthy of mention, were, in the earlier ages of antiquity, regarded with such wonder that the conductors of them were deified, and the names of the ships themselves transferred to the constellations of heaven. With many of the great principles and operations in navigation, which are now considered as the very elements on which that science is founded, the ancients were wholly unacquainted. The property of the magnet, by which it attracts iron, was known to them, but that more important property, by which it points to the poles, had entirely escaped their observation. They had no other means of regulating their course than the sun and stars. Their navigation of course was uncertain and timid. They seldom ventured far from land, but crept along the coast exposed to all the dangers and retarded by all the obstructions incident to a course so circuitous and so liable to interruption. A voyage which would now scarcely require weeks, then required months for its completion. Even on the calm waters of the Mediterranean they ventured to sail only in summer, and few indeed were the hardy spirits that did not shrink back as they thought of encountering the wild waves of the Atlantic. Winter laid an embargo on all their maritime operations. To put to sea at that season would have been deemed the height of rashness.

The art of ship-building appears to have made much more rapid progress than that of navigation. The account jf the commerce of Tyre, given in the twenty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel, affords strong evidence that the Tynans had made no small advances in this art, and it is reasonable to conclude that the naval and commercial operations in which the Tyrians and other ancient nations were engaged, would stimulate them to devise various means of increasing the strength, and speed, and conve

nience of their ships. The Romans transported from Egypt to Rome obelisks formed out of a single stone, of a length and size so enormous, that it is questionable whether they could have been put on board any modern ship whatever. This fact shows that the Roman ships must have been large and strong, and that a considerable degree of skill must have been exhibited in their construction. The following account of one of the ancient ships is given by Athenanis.

"It had forty ranks of oars, was four hundred and twenty-seven English feet in length and fifty-seven in breadth, and nearly eighty feet in perpendicular height from the taffrel to the keel. It was furnished with four rudders, or steering-oars, forty-five feet in length, and the longest of the oars by which it was impelled, were in length equal to the extreme breadth of the vessel. The crew consisted of upwards of 4000 rowers, and at least 3000 other persons employed in the different occupations connected with navigating so immense a fabric."

The earliest mode of conducting commerce was doubtless by caravans, which as appears from Scripture were known as early as the days of Joseph, and the merchants to whom he was sold probably belonged to a caravan. The earliest commerce with India, of which we have any authentic account, was carried on in this way by the merchants of Arabia and Egypt.

The Mediterranean and Red Seas were the scene of the first commerce carried on by water. This would naturally be the case, as those seas border on the countries where the human race was first planted, countries in former days distinguished for the richness and variety of their productions.

The first people of whose maritime commerce we have any authentic and distinct account, are the Egyptians. They are said, soon after the estabishment of their monarchy, to have opened a commerce with the western coast of India, though of the extent of this commerce we know but little. It appears, however, that its flourishing period was short, for pursuits of this kind were by no means congenial to the spirit of that proud and self-sufficient people, who regarded themselves as superior to all other nations, and their country as superior to all other countries Thus considering themselves the first of men, they looked down with contempt on other nations, and were disposed to stand at a haughty and repulsive distance from them. Sea-faring men were regarded by them with a feeling bordering on contempt. Their manners and institutions differed widely from those of other nations. Possessing a character, and cherishing a spirit, so entirely the reverse of that which commerce is calculated to form and to foster, it is not strange that they soon retired from the theatre of commercial enterprise, and left it to be occupied by a people possessing more of that free and social spirit which commerce requires.

Thk miseries of indolence are known only to those who have no regular pursuit; nothing in view, however eager, or arduous; nothing by which time maybe shortened by

occupation, and occupation rendered easy by habit.

Bishop Mant.

To endeavour to gain the perfect happiness promised in the next world, is the surest way to gain the greatest happiness this present world can bestow.—La Harpk.

Seek not proud riches, but such as thou mayest get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. —Bacon.

The lands and houses, the goods and chattels, which the parent bequeaths to his child in the hour of death, are scattered, and consumed, and swallowed up, by the rude assault of time; but the imperishable inheritance of a sound, religious education, is a treasure, which, throughout the fiercest changes and storms of life, bears the richest and surest of fruits.

The world is much mistaken in the value of a sceptre or a crown; we gaze upon its brightness, and forget its brittleness; we look upon its glory, and forget its frailty; we respect its colour, and take no notice of its weight. But if all those gay things which we fondly fancy to ourselves, are really to be found in greatness, yet still he pays too dear, that pawns his heaven for it; he that buys a short bliss, gives not twenty, or an hundred years' purchase, but (if mercy prevent not), eternity.—SANcaorr.

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors]

Amongst the many noble examples of the architectural skill of our forefathers, which yet remain in this country, there are few which possess a higher claim upon our interest than the majestic Castle of Conisborough, which, after a lapse of nearly one thousand years, still uprears its head; a visible relic of another time; a connecting link between the past and the present. If even the most insignificant memorial of former ages affords materials for thought to a reflecting mind, how much more should a ruin like that of Conisborough, which has by many been considered the most important of the few remaining strong-holds of our Saxon ancestors yet to be found in this country, engage the attention of the lover of history and antiquities. Of late years, however, Conisborough has acquired an interest of a new, and it may be safely affirmed a lasting character, from its being chosen by Sir Walter Scott for one of the principal scenes of his romance of Ivanhoe.

The origin of this Castle is unknown. Tradition assigns it a very remote antiquity, whilst several modern antiquaries seem disposed to attribute the foundation of the present structure to William, the first Earl of Warren, to whom the surrounding estate was granted by William the Conqueror. It is, however, indisputable, that a strong-hold of some sort existed here during the times of the Saxons. Geoffrey of Monmouth, and some of our old historians, indeed, have carried back its origin to a period preceding the Saxon invasion of Britain, but th«

narrative which they give must be looked upon as fabulous *.

The Conisborough estate subsequently passed from the family of Warren to Richard, Earl of Cambridge, who assumed the name of Richard of Conisborough, in consequence, it is said, of the castle having been his birth-place. After his death it passed into the hands of his grandson, King Edward the Fourth, and remained in the possession of the crown for more than two centuries, when it was given by James the Second to Lord Dover. It afterwards became the property of the family of its present possessor, the Duke of Leeds.

The historical records of Conisborough Castle are unusually scanty and imperfect, and the period when it fell to decay, like that of its origin, can only be guessed at. The plan of the structure, which must once have been of considerable extent and importance, is irregular, though rather inclining in form to an oval. The entire strong-hold, which crowns the summit of an elevation, was surrounded by an extensive fosse or ditch, still in many places forty feet deep, but now destitute of water, and full of

• According to these writers, "Hengist, the first Saxon invader, being defeated in this neighbourhood by the British Commander Aurelius Ambrosius, in the year 487, was obliged to take refuge in this castle, and hazarding a second engagement, was killed below lis walls." Near the entrance to the castle is a tumulus, which is said to cover the body of this chief; but Turner, the eminent histoiian of the Anglo Saxons, as well as other writers of high authoiity, are of opinion that he never, at any time, pentlrated into tb.o ■orthern counties at all.

lofty oaks and elms: on the northern side, however, where the entrance was placed, the fosse is completely filled with rubbish.

Before the invention of artillery, the castle must have been almost impregnable, but in later times, in consequence of the superior height of the neighbouring eminence on which the village of Conisborough is situated, it must have been greatly reduced in consequence, to which we may attribute its ultimate desertion. The remains, as far as they can be traced, extend about 700 feet in circumference; but the chief object of interest is the magnificent tower; the subject of our engraving; in describing which we shall avail ourselves of the substance of a very curious paper which appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for the year 1801.

This noble round tower is strengthened by six massive square buttresses, running from the base to the summit at equal distances. Eighteen feet from the ground, both the tower and buttresses expand, sloping gradually to the width of four feet, in order to give greater strength to the base The tower is situated at the south-eastern extremity of the castle, two-thirds of it being within the walls, which rest against it. The other face forms of itself the outward wall, and here the entrance, which is twenty-four feet frini the ground, and ascended to by a (light of thirty-two steps, is situated. On a level with this door is a lloor, on which we enter through the wall, which is here fifteen feet thick, and at each buttress twenty-three feet. It is an undivided apartment, twenty-two feet in diameter, of circular form, as is the whole interior of the structure. The wall is quite plain, and wholly destitute of any aperture for light except the entrance.

In the centre of the floor is a round hole, resembling the mouth of a well, which, however, forms the only entrance into a lower apartment, or dungeon, from whence, according to tradition, there was a subterraneous passage from the castle. Ascending by a flight of twenty-five stone stairs from the entrance-passage, lighted by two loop-holes, we reach the level of another apartment, but the floor has entirely fallen away. The fire-place, which is deserving of minute attention, is surrounded by a triple pillar on each side, with carved capitals supporting a chimney-piece twelve feet long, now partly ornamented with ivy. Opposite, is a large arched window, ascended to by tlirce bold steps. The only other objects in this room are a closet, and a niche and trough in the wall, which is here 13$ feet thick. An ascent of thirty-four steps leads to the next room, which has also a fire-place. Few persons ascend further than this, as the upper room is exceedingly difficult and dangerous of access, being only to be reached by venturing along a narrow ledge scarcely nine inches broad. On at last gaining an entrance, (says the writer,) the certain antiquity of the chamber, and the idea that here, perhaps, our warlike ancestors had oflbred up their prayers, or buckled on their armour, or taken their repose, filled us with a pleasing awe and veneration, that was heightened to superstition by a charming sound like that of an Eolian harp, which we both distinctly heard at several intervals, unable to conjecture how it was occasioned.

This beautiful room is of hexagonal proportion, and the ceiling is composed of a series of arches " decorated in the Gothic manner." It is very imperfectly lighted, there being only one large loop-hole or aperture in the wall, six feet in height, which diminishes in width from six feet on the outer wall of the tower, to thirty inches in the inner. The ceiling and other parts of this interesting chamber have been richly ornamented with carved-work, which is now much defaced; but the room is sufficiently perfect to afford a vivid idea of the state of the castle in the olden time.

Ojir antiquaries next ascended by a flight of twenty-five stone-stairs to the summit of the tower, which commands a prospect of exceeding richness and beauty, over field and flood. The buttresses, as depicted in our Illustration, rise several feet higher than the walls; in one of them appear steps; three others each contain a large arched alcove, whilst in a fifth is " a broad place exactly resembling an oven,

five or six feet in diameter and height;" its mouth is two feet square, and is on a level with a passage, which seems to have run round the tower. The wall is here ten and a half feet thick, so that it diminishes eighteen inches at every floor. The height of the three rooms we have described is 52 feet, and the total height of the buttresses 86 feet, but they have formerly heat of loftier elevation.

The village of Conisborough is of very high antiquity; by the Britons it was called Caer Conan, and by the Saxons Cyning, or Conan Burgh, both signifying a royal town; it must once have been a place of some importance, as it is handed down that it was the scat of a civil jurisdiction, which comprised twenty-eight towns.

This picturesque village stands, as we have already stated, on a lofty elevation, about six miles to the south-west of Doncaster, overlooking a rich and wooded country, through which the river Don meanders with a life-like effect. The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, is an ancient and remarkable structure, exhibiting the several characteristics of the Norman, the early English, and the later or decorated styles of architecture; so that it has evidently been built at different periods. The monuments are not destitute of interest, and a singular stone, carved with hieroglyphics, has frequently excited the attention of the antiquary. The following account of a feast in the olden time, is framed and hung up in a room at an inn in this village; it exhibits a curious example of the change which has taken place in the value of money.

The expenses of Sir Ralph de Beeston and Sir Gunon de Baldriston of Conisborough, on Monday, the morrow of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the fourteenth year of King Edward the Second,

A.D. 1321.

s i

Im bread, bot xviij d \ 6

Im 4 gallons of wine, bot ni 2 0

Im 12 gallons of ale, bot in Doncaster, xviij d 1 6

Im 16 gallons of ale, bot in Conisborough, xvj d 1 4

Im shambles meat, bot jj s 2 0

Im 8 fowls, bot 1 g 1 Q

Im 2 geese, bot viij d 0 8

Im eggs, bot iij d. 0 3

Im 2 lbs. of candles, bot iij d. ob. .. 0 3}

Im a woman's wages in fetching the ale, j d 0 1

Im provender for the horses, bot xvd 1 3

In the neighbourhood of Conisborough may be discovered several traces of a Roman road.


Tike speeds away—away—away:

Another hour—another day—

Another month—another year—

Drop from us like the leaflets sear;

Drop like the life-blood from our hearts;

The rose-bloom from the cheek departs,

The tresses from the temples fall,

The eye grows dim and strange to all.

Time speeds away—away—away,

Like torrent in a stormy day;

He undermines the stately tower,

Uproots the tree, and snaps the flower;

And sweeps from our distracted breast

The friends that loved—the friends that blest s

And leaves us weeping on the shore,

To which they can return no more.

Time speeds away—away—away:

No eagle through the skies of day,

No wind along the hills can fleo

So swiftly or so smooth as he.

Like fiery steed—from stage to stage,

He beare us on from youth to ago;

Then plunges in the fearful sea

Of fathomless Eternity.—Knox


This cape forms the most northerly point of the continent of Europe, and may be regarded as one of the most sublime wonders of nature. It is thus described by Sir Arthur De Capeli. Brooke*, who approached it from the land, and from whose ■work the accompanying view is taken.

At six in the evening we reached the North Cape; and, advancing to the edge of the precipice, contemplated the fearful steep between us and the ocean. Let the reader imagine a cliff exceeding in height that of Dover, and with Shakspeare's celebrated description of the latter, he may form a good idea of the North Cape, black from the polar storms, and proudly frowning upon the foaming element at its feet

The eye vainly endeavoured to catch the fleeting sails of some vessel steering its way through these desert seas: all was one wide roaring waste of waters. On the verge of the horizon black mists hovered, driving on from the arctic regions of Spitsbergen. To the eastward, at the distance of thirteen leagues, the North Kyn protruded boldly into the waves, and seemed to vie with its gigantic rival, being separated from it by the mouths of the great Porsanger and Laxe fiords. Looking to the, the lofty rocks of Stappcn seemed still close to us; and beyond them Maasoe and Jelmsbe presented their mountains, the rugged surfaces of which were softened by the distance.

Evening was now fast approaching; and the wind, which was strong and chill, warned us to prepare our tent for the night. This was a task of no small difficulty, as the bleak exposed surface of the Cape, and the hardness of the rock, which prevented our driving in the pegs, gave us good reason to fear, that hot our little tent only, but all it contained, might be swept away by the blast. Having at length found a projecting part of the cliff, which screened us in some measure, we pitched it within a few yards of this, securing it as well as wo, could by fragments of the rock, which we rolled on the edge of the canvass, to supply the place of pegs. As we had eaten nothing since an early hour iu ttie morning, and had walked some miles across the mountains against the keen air of Mageroe, we had by this time a pretty good appetite. Our provision was accordingly produced: and, having lighted a blazing Are with the wood we had taken care to bring, snug within our tent, we enjoyed our repast with a greater relish than the most luxurious feast would have afforded in a palace at home. When this was concluded, to drown fatigue, and celebrate our arrival at the Cape, a bowl of punch was quickly made; and, while the north wind, sweeping in howling blasts over the icy seas, whistled loudly round us, with our faces turned to the south on account of the wind, we drank "a health to those far away;" and the recollection of many an absent friend in that quarter prolonged our libations.

The hour was late before we reclined ourselves to rest, grateful for the shelter afforded us. Sleep soon overpowered all but myself; and the deep snorings of the Norwegian boatmen, and the Laplander, who was our guide,-proved that they had speedily lost all sense of the fatigues of the day. Feeling no disposition to sleep, I arose softly, and, stealing out of the tent, strolled round the Cape. It was already midnight. The sun had sunk beneath the horizon about an hour, but a reddish, angry tint, still marked its progress below it. A feeble twilight diffused itself around, just sufficient to mark the gigantic outlines of the cliffs. Toward the north black masses of clouds, with threatening looks, announced an approaching storm; and the billowy ocean, that dashed against the rocks, loudly bellowed its fury. I now returned to my slumbering companions, crept into the tent, every object of which was wrapped in gloom; and was soon lulled to sleep by the murmurings of the surge below.

Our small tent stood well the rude attacks of the north wind, which blew furiously in the night; and in the morning we commenced exploring the neighbourhood of the Cape, anxious to lose no time, as our stay would necessarily depend upon the supply of wood and provisions that remained.

The North Cape, which is in latitude 71° 10' 15", is a long extended headland, or tongue of rock, narrowest near its root, and enlarging itself towards its other ex

TraveU to the North Cap*.

tremity, where it becomes of a circular shape, and is indented by several chasms, that form small creeks. Its surface is flat, being what sailors call table-land, rising gradually from the part adjoining the land till about a quarter of a mile from its other extremity, when it declines with a gentle slope toward the sea. In this part is its greatest breadth; being, as I conjecture, nearly three quarters of a mile across. The whole of it is almost destitute of any vegetation, and thickly strewed with small broken fragments of rocks.

On the approach of winter, the storms of snow are often of very long duration, lasting for many days, and even weeks. They are preceded by heavy fogs, which drag in from the ocean in immense masses, like impenetrable walls, or moving bodies of water. This, however, is the case only with westerly winds; the weather being fine and clear when it blows from the eastward. The climate, with all its seeming disadvantages, is notwithstanding healthy; and dreary and dismal as it may appear to the inhabitants of more temperate zones, it holds out even its pleasures and enjoyments to the few settlers that reside there. It is fortunate that disease is so rare, as there is no medical person within 150 miles: the scurvy is the only disorder known, and this not to any great degree.

The son disappears to the inhabitants for more than two months in tho year; but, in return for this privation, it is for the same period above the horizon constantly day and night, and for the space of about three months there is an uninterrupted continuance of daylight. During the long winter-night, the aurora borealis, which shines with uncommon brilliancy at the North Cape, compensates for the loss of the sun; and its light is so great, that the fishermen are enabled to carry on their ordinary occupations as well as by the usual daylight.

No part of the North certainly conveys to the traveller so perfect an idea of desolation as Mageroe, or Lean Island; a name highly appropriate, destitute as it is of every thing but rocks, piled one upon the other in an extraordinary manner. The circumference of Mageriie, I was informed, is about seventy miles. It is very narrow, being intersected by long and extensive fiords, which run very deep into the land between the mountains, and nearly approach each other from the opposite sides of the land. On the mountains there are about two hundred rein-deer, belonging to some Field Laplanders, who remain with them the whole of the year, the Mageriie sound being too broad and turbulent, to allow of their crossing it to the continent. On some parts of Mageroe, where there is a little brushwood, hares, we were told, are found in sufficient plenty. These with the ermine and lemming, constitute the quadrupeds of the island.

Dr. Henderson, in his work on Iceland, mentions a curious circumstance respecting the foxes at the North Cape. "In the vicinity of the North Cape," he says, " where the precipices are almost entirely covered with various species of sea-fowl, the foxes proceed on their predatory expeditions in company; and previous to the commencement of their operations, they hold a kind of mock fight upon the rocks, in order to determine their relative strength. When this has been fairly ascertained, they advance to the brink of the precipice; and, taking each other by the tail, the weakest descends first, while tho strongest, forming the last in the row, suspends the whole number, till the foremost has reached their prey. A signal is then given, on which the uppermost fox pulls with all his might, and the rest assist him as well as they can with their feet against the rocks; in this manner they proceed from rock to rock, until they have provided themselves with a sufficient supply." Nothing, I confess, would have better repaid me for a long journey to the North Cape, than to have witnessed these curious proceedings, and to have beheld this very extraordinary link ©f foxes, suspended from the tremendous cliffs, and dangling mid-way between the ocean and their summits. There appeared a great scarcity of sea-fowl, and I observed very few even of the gull-tribe, which abounded most at the low rocks of Giesvasr.

The sea has decreased considerably on the Mageroo coast within the last fifty years. This is also the case with the other parts of Finmark; and it has been continuing so to do probably for some centuries. Even on the top of the North Cape, the action of water can be traced, at an elevation which is so considerably above the present level of the ocean. This decrease of it has not failed to have been observed by the inhabitants of these coasts, who

« AnteriorContinuar »