Imágenes de páginas

bited considerable talent on a voyage to Nootka Sound, on this service. Mr. Dalrymple had long been of opinion that not only Greenland, but all the land said to have been seen by Baffin on the northern and eastern sides of the great bay bearing his name, was composed of clusters of islands, and that a passage through the 'fretum Davis,' round the northern extremity of Cumberland island, led directly into the North Sea, from the 70° to the 71° of latitude. It is thus marked on an ancient globe, the first, we believe, ever made in this country, and now in the library of the Inner Temple, which contains all the discoveries of our early navigators ; it is, in fact, the only remaining record of this kind, as charts were then rude and not in fashion. Davis himself refers to it; and Hackluit, in his edition of 1589, has celebrated this early specimen of geographical science.* On inquiring after this globe, we were told, that it had recently been new-coated, and that Mr. Arrowsmith's sketches had succeeded to the discoveries of Frobisher and Davis! We are slow to believe that the venerable Benchers of the Temple can have given their sanction to so barbarous and sacrilegious an act, as that of defacing this curious and valuable relic of antiquity.

• Hackluit apologizes to the gentle reader • for inserting into the worke, one of the best generall mappes of the world onely, untill the coming out of a very large and most exact terrestriall globe, collected and refurried, according to the newest, secretest, and latest discoveries, both Spanish, Portugall and English, composed by M. Emmerie Mollineux, of Lambeth, a rare gentleman in bis profession, being therein for divers yeeres greatly supported by the purse and liberalitic of the worshipful marchant, Mr. William Sanderson. This is the globe which the Benchers of the Temple are said to have white-washed.

† Mr. Dalrymple caused a copy to be taken of those parts of this globe relative to the present question. On this sketch, we see with pleasure, the Drogio and the Fries. land of the iwo noble Venetians, the Zeni; we observe the latter where it always was and still is, at the southern extremity of Greenland, a little above the 60th parallel of latitude; still holding its head above water, in spite of the volcanoes and the earthquakes created by the Duc d'Almadover and Delisle, the Abbé Zurla and Sig. Amoretti, to overwhelm it in the ocean. We see no reason to disbelieve (as some affect to do) the fact stated by Nicolao Zeno of the friars of the monastery of St. Thomas warming their rooms, cooking their victuals, and watering their garden from a spring of hot water; such springs are known to exist : and what should prevent these friars in that dreadful cold region from availing themselves of an article so obviously useful and effectual? Is there any thing more extraordinary in the friars of Greenland boiling their victuals in the water of a hot spring than the party in the suite of Lord Macartuey's enibassy boil, ing the fish in the hol springs on the margin of the volcanic crater, in which they were caught, on the island of Amsterdam? The blind monk whom Dethmar Plefkins saw in the monastery of Helgafiel, in Iceland, and who was himself thrust, when young, into the convent of St. Thomas, in the very early part of the sixteenth century, long before Ramusio published the letters of the two Zeni, corroborates all that Zeno stated, adding that the walls of the monastery were built of pumice-stone. There is one simple fact mentioned by Nicolao Zeno which no man in the fourteenth century could know or imagine who had not lived among the Eskimaux-their boats, he says, were framed of the bones of fishes and covered with their skins; and they were shaped like a weaver's shuttle-a description so just and a resemblance so perfect, that from that time to this, it has been adopted by every succeeding voynger. 13


Never was man more sanguine of success in any

undertaking than Mr. Duncan. In 1790 he went out in the Company's ship Sea-horse, to take the command of a sloop in Hudson's Bay, called the Churchill. He found, on his arrival, a crew who affected to be terrified at the idea of going on discovery; the Company's servants told him the vessel was totally unfit for such a purpose, and that she could not be made sea-worthy in that country; though Mr. Duncan says he has since learned that she had been constantly employed for twenty years afterwards. Seeing nothing to be done there he immediately returned to England, resolving to have no further 'concern with the Hudson's Bay Company—but the governors expressed so much regret and disappointment, and Mr. Dal rymple was so urgent for following up the discovery, that he consented to take the command of a strong well-built ship of eighty-four tons, called the Beaver, fitted to his mind, and stored for eighteen months. He left the Thames on the 2d May, 1791, but did not reach the height of Charles's Island in 630 lat. till the 2d August, nor Churchill River till the 5th September, when all hope of accomplisbing any thing that year was at an end. It is 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 burthen, ill-constructed, ill-found and apparently ill-suited to brave the mountains of ice through 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 remained in Churchill River till the 15th July in the following year, got into Chesterfield Inlet and returned to Churchill about the end of August; his crew having mutinied, encouraged, as he states, by his first officer, who was a servant of the Company. -Here grief and vexation so preyed on his mind as to render a voyage which promised every thing, completely abortive:--thus terminated the last and the least efficient of all the expeditions (excepting that of Gibbons) for the discovery of the North-west Passage!

All these failures, however, are by no means conclusive against its existence. We must bear in mind that not one of the adventurers proceeded, on the eastern side of America, beyond the Arctic circle; and that on the western side, or Strait of Behring, three points of land only to the northward of Cape Prince of Wales have been seen at a distance, the northernmost (Icy Cape) in lat. 70° 297; the vext, (Cape Lisburne,) in 69° 5', and the third (Cape

Mulgrave) Mulgrave) in 67° 45'. Could we only be certain then that Hearne aud Mackenzie actually arrived at the shore of the northern ocean, *


Hearne talks of the tide being out,' but that it flowed, by the marks on the edge of the ice, twelve or fourteen feet, and that it only reached a little way within the river's mouth ;' that the water at the mouth of the river was perfectly fresh when the tide was out, but it was the sea or some branch of it, by the quantity of whalebone and seal skins which the Esquimaux had at their tents, and also by the number of seals which appeared on the ice. If the tide was out on the morning of the 17tha it was in on the middle of that day, and he never quitted the margin of the river till the morning of the 18th : why then judge of its rise by the marks on the ice? The tide rises fourteen feet in the Thames as high as Woolwich, and is salt at low water at Gravesend ; how fourteen feet of sea water could leave that of the river • perfectly fresh' close within the bar, is difficult to comprehend. As to his latitude of this spot, that is still less to be depended on; he tells us that in those high latitudes and at this season of the year the sun is always at a good height above the horizon, so that he had not only day-light, but sun-shine the whole night. Now there is not a word of this 'sun-shine all night,' in his M.S. Journal, as quoted by Doctor Douglas; and indeed, he says in his printed book, that a thick fog and drizzling rain came on, and finding that neither the river nor the sea were likely to be of any use, I did not think it worth while to wait for fair weather to determine the latitude exactly by an observation.' What did he go for? he was selected for the journey because he could take an observation for the latitude, and yet in the whole of the journey of thirteen hundred miles and back again, he takes but one single observation ! But the latitude of the river's mouth, he says, may be depended on--what that latitude was, however, is never once mentioned; but by the chart it is about 73° 30'.-The result of his single observation at Congecathawhachaga was 68° 46' and the courses and distances from that place to the mouth of the river give a difference of about 3o, so that the latitude we are to 'depend upon,' instead of 73° 30' as on the chart, is, by his reckoning, 71° 46'. Doctor Douglas states it from his Journal at 72o.-Dalrymple, however, and Arrowsmith, and all the chart-ınakers, have agreed to cut him down to about 69°, and if so, the sun was not always a good height above the horizon, for its declination being on the 18th July about 20°, he must have been, on that midnight, in the horizon.

Mackenzie's account is not more satisfactory. On his arrival among the Quarrellers, in latitude 68°, he was informed that the distance from thence to the sea, on the east side of the river, was not far, and on the west that it was still shorter ; that the land on both sides projected to a point in the direction of the river, to which point he was proceeding,--at six miles beyond the Quarrellers, the river branched into a mul. titude of channels, separated by low islands, and banks of mud and sand. He took the mid-channel, which was to carry him to Benahulla Toe, or white man's lake, into which he entered in latitude 69° 1' N. This lake was quite open to the westward, and out of the channel of the river had only four feet, and in some places, one foot of depth ; he reached, however, an island to the westward. From the whole tenor of his statement, we certainly concluded that this was the sea, but are presently informed that his people could not refrain from expressions of real concern that they were obliged to return without reaching the sea. In the course of the night, they were disturbed by the rising of the water ; they also saw whales, but they were white; the guide, however, assured him they were the same that constituted the principal food of the Esquimaux ; ' the tide appeared to rise sixteen or eighteen inches ;' he saw no natives, but found many of their huts, their domestic utensils, frames of sledges and of canoes made of whale-bone, which left no doubt on his mind that they were the deserted abodes of the Esquimaux. The latitude of Whale-island was 69° 14' N.—and with this slight and imperfect information, he returns from a long and painful journey, either not knowing or not chusing to say, whether he had been on the shore of the hyperbo. rean sea or not ; but evidently wishing it to be inferred, as the title of his book implies, and his chart asserts, that he had reached the frozen ocean.' Yet for some incomprehensible reason, he avoids even mentioning the name of the sea, but talks of a tide-a tide of sixteen or eighteen inches ! The simple, easy and obvious test of -dipping his finger in the water to taste if it was salt, seems pot to bave occurred to him--.

as the titles of their books and all the charts assert, the existence of a passage would amount nearly to a certainty. The distance between Baffin's Sea and Behring's Strait is not more than 1,200 miles, of which that between the mouths of the Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers is about 40). On the charts the mouths of these rivers are nearly on the same parallel of latitude, i.e.about 69'. Now there can be but little doubt chat the two continents of America and Asia have once been united, the trending of the coast of the latter continuing on the opposite side of Behring's Strait for more than 1000 miles nearly in the same line. On the American side, no land has been seen to the northward of the Icy Cape, and pone between it and Cape Lisburne ; Icy Cape is very low land, the Russians, whose regular establishments on the American continent extend as far north as 67° north lat. say that it is an island ; and so strong is the impression at Petersburgh of a practicable passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, round the northern coast of America, that Count Romanzoff, at his own expense, has fitted out a stout vessel called the Rurick, commanded by Lieut. Kotzebue, son of the celebrated writer of that name, to make the attempt. She passed Plymouth last summer, where she was supplied with a life-boat, and during the summer of the present year, she is to endeavour to penetrate into the northern sea between Icy Cape and Cape Lisburne, or, on meeting with any impediment, to proceed round the former: it will be a singular event if the last, and we may almost say least of the maritime powers of Europe, should be the first to make this important discovery--so often attempted before she had a single ship on the ocean.

Thus then the coast of America may be presumed to preserve a. line from Behring's Strait to Mackenzie's River, and from thence to Copper-mine River, a distance of 800 miles, fluctuating between the parallels of 69° and 70°, and we see not the slightest reason to question its continuance, in or near that line, for the remaining 400 miles to Baffin's Sea, or to the strait which connects it with Hudson's Sea: this is the only point to be discovered.-No human being has yet approached the coast of America, on the eastern side, from 66° to 72°. Davies, Baffin, and Foxe came nearest to it; but the attempts of the rest were chiefly confined to the southward. Middleton was in the way of making discoveries, if, instead of losing his time in Wager River, he had continued to coast to the northward,

The solution of this important problem is the business of three months out and home. The space to be examined, at the very if he did so, he is uncandid in not mentioning the result—if he did not, he is woefully deficient in that sagacity which has always been accounted a prominent feature in the character of a North-Briton. Under all the circumstances mentioned by these two travellers, we may perhaps conclude that both were near the sea-shore, but neither of them reached it.


utmost, is from the 67th to the 71st parallels, or (four degrees of latitude.

Two small schooners of 80 or 100 tons, under the command of a skilful Naval Officer, with a couple of Greenland fishermen to act as pilots through the ice, would be sufficient for the

purpose. They should proceed at once up the very middle of Davis's Strait, keeping to the westward so as not to raise their latitude higher than 790, and having cleared Cumberland Island, edge away to the southward. Hitherto most of our adventurers have worked their way through Hudson's Strait, which is generally choked up with ice; then standing to the northward they have had to contend with ice drifting to the southward, with contrary winds and currents; these inconveniences would be obviated by standing first to the latitudes of 71° or 72o and from thence southerly and westerly till they either reached Hudson's Bay, which would decide the question in the negative, or till they saw the north coast of America, which would go far to complete the discovery.

Disappointment is generally fertile in apologies for failures; we need not therefore be surprized if we find some assert that no such passage exists, and others pronounce its inutility if it should be discovered, from the uncertainty of its being free from ice any one year, and perhaps practicable only once in three or four years. Such an apology for our present ignorance of every thing that regards the geography, the hydrography, and meteorology of the north-eastern shores of America, might be pleaded by mercantile speculators, but can have little weight with those who have the interests of science at heart, or the national honour and fame, which are intimately connected with those interests.

When the government offered a reward of £20,000 for the discovery of the Northwest Passage, and £5000 to him who should approach within one degree of the North Pole, it was not with a view to any immediate commercial advantages that this liberal encouragement was held out, but with the same expanded object that sent Cook in search of a Southern Continent.' If, however, the continent of America shall be found to terminate, as is most likely, about the 70th degree of latitude, or even below it, we have little doubt of a free and practicable passage round it for seven or eight months in every year; and we are much mistaken if the North-west Company would not derive immediate and incalculable advantages from a passage of three months to their establishment in Columbia River, instead of the circuitous voyage of six or seven months round Cape Horn; to say nothing of the benefit which might be derived from taking in their cargoes of furs and peltry for the China market at the mouths of Mackenzie and Copper-mine rivers, to which the northern Indians would be too happy to bring them, if protected


« AnteriorContinuar »