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else conceived there was the fairest prospect of attaining the long wished object, we cannot even conjecture ; unless the appearance of the star Capella warned him of the approach of winter, and suggested to the whaling-master that the season was at an end. There occur unfortunate moments in the history of a man's life, when he is himself unable to account for his actions; and the moment of putting about the Isabella would appear to be one of them: for had Captain Ross then felt what he professes to feel in the Introduction to his book, that'his nautical education had taught him to act and not to question; to obey orders, as far as possible, not to discuss probabilities,' we are quite certain that he would not have stopped short where he did. Had he continued to advance, even supposing there was a continuity of land or ice, three hours more would have rendered his further proceeding impracticable; if, on the contrary, no such land or ice existed, three days more would have brought him very near to the meridian of the Coppermine river: in either case, the question would have been set at rest;—and Captain Ross, instead of Lieutenant Parry, would have had the merit of solving the problem, as far as Lancaster Sound is concerned: at present, he merely deceives himself in supposing that he ' has set the question at rest.'
The only remaining reason assigned by Captain Ross for abandoning Lancaster Sound was, that the weather appeared more unsettled, and therefore ' it became advisable to stand out of this dangerous inlet, in which we were embayed, being within it above eighty miles.' By the ' special chart,' he was about half that distance within it: Lieutenant Parry makes it thirty miles, and Captain Sabine the same. Captain Ross alone hints at danger.
We beg distinctly to be understood, that we do not say there is, but that Captain Ross does not know that there is not a passage through Sir James Lancaster's Sound; he knows no more, in fact, than he might have known by staying at home; and however invidious it may seem, we cannot but coutrast the indifference and want of perseverance on the present occasion with that of former navigators sent on voyages of discovery. It was the perseverance and the fortitude of Columbus, under every difficulty and discouraging circumstance, that led to the discovery of a new world. It was the same spirit of perseverance and determined resolution that condueted Magelhanes through 300 miles of an unknown and intricate strait, apparently embayed and land-locked at every ten or twelve miles, and without affording any of those ' indications' of 'currents, swells, and driftwood,' sought after in Baffin's Bay. Had this great navigator been influenced by the murmuring of some, who complained of the danger they ran for want of provisions, sions, and the little probability of a passage—had he speculated on 'indications/ instead of exploring—the splendid discovery, second only to that of the Cape of Good Hope, had been reserved for another.—But he persisted, and told the murmurers, with great composure, that' were it certain they should be reduced to the necessity of eating the hides that were on the ship's yards, his determination was to proceed, and make good his promises to the Emperor.' Captain Ross talks of danger in Lancaster's Sound, and of the bad sailing of the Alexander. A voyage of discovery implies danger; but a mere voyage, like his, round the shores of Baffin's Bay, in the three summer months, may be considered as a voyage of pleasure. There was very great danger when Cook persevered in penetrating through fields of ice, for eighteen or twenty degrees of latitude towards the southern pole, in ships not half so strong as the Isabella and Alexander. Vancouver, Flinders, and Broughton encountered innumerable dangers; but, great as they were, they did not prevent them from effectually performing the business they were sent upon. Reputation and risk are almost inseparable in the life of a naval officer; at least the former is rarely acquired without a large portion of the latter.
After what Captain Ross has stated with regard to the discouraging observation made by Captain Sabine on the improbability of a passage through Sir James Lancaster's Sound, it is but justice to that gentleman to give his own opinion in his own words, written and printed before he could possibly have seen Captain Ross's book. In speaking of the seven sounds mentioned by Baffin, he observes—' The last is Lancaster's Sound, which Baffin merely opened, but we sailed into it for about thirty miles. It is needless to enter into a detail here of the many encouraging coincidences which awaited us in this, the only one of Baffin's sounds into which we entered—the great depth of water, the sudden and considerable increase in its temperature, direction of the swell,* the width of the shores apart, being much more than that of Behring's straits, and the different character of the northern and southern shores, especially in the latter being wooded.'t Captain Sabine adds in a note,' It is worthy of notice, and has not been, I believe, remarked before, that the only one of Baffin's Sounds which has been since examined, namely, the" faire sound in latitude 70° 20'," where he anchored for two days on his way up the Greenland coast, proves to have been, in fact, the entrance
* It would appear from this and Lieutenant Parry's journal, that Captain Ross was mistaken in the direction of the swell, though that was one of his reasons for not proceeding.
f Journal of Literature, &c. for April.
Of of the Waigat straits - So easy is it for the most experienced person to be mistaken, except upon a very close examination.'* The southern shore being uooded in this high latitude is a new and very extraordinary feature, but it is in part confirmed by a landing on that shore, as we shall presently see. We have quoted the above passage as being totally irreconcileable with Captain Ross's statement of Captain Sabine's former opinions.
Lieutenant Parry and his officers, who had been straining their eyes in vain from the crow's-nest to find out the cause of the Isabella putting about, knew nothing of the reason of this extraordinary movement till they were fairly out of the sound.—It would not indeed have been consistent either to hail the Alexander or communicate with her by signal, while every thing was carried on so snugly in the Isabella, that even the officers were ignorant of what had happened. Their surprize, it may be imagined, was not diminished when they were informed of it on the following day. On this day a party was ordered on shore to take possession of the southern point of the entrance of Lancaster's Sound, and to make observations; on which occasion Captain Sabine * thought the weather too foggy for the dipping needle.' We confess we cannot see what objection the fog could oppose to the making of observations on the dip of the needle, which would have been particularly desirable on this spot'. Besides, the fog, it would seem, cleared up, for we are told that the variation of the compass was found to be 110° west, by several sights for an azimuth taken on shore by Lieut. Hoppner. From this observation it is concluded that, at the extreme westerly point in Lancaster Sound, the variation was 114° W. Lieut. Parry, who commanded the shore party, thus describes this part of the coast:—
'In this bay was a steep beach of sand and very small pebbles. There is always something pleasing in the idea of landing in a country where no European foot has ever trodden before, and we enjoyed our ramble here to day exceedingly. The land at the back of the bay is a valley of considerable size, the country gently rising as it recedes from the shore, and flanked on each side by high hills covered with snow, of which none was to be seen in the valley. The land was here by no means destitute of soil, and a number of very beautiful plants were sent to the Commodore, such as would make no despicable figure in an English garden. We walked along the side of the deep bed of a river about fifty yards broad, and not less than twenty-four feet deep, having a good stream of water running down it to the sea, at half a mile from which it
• Captain Ross and all the gentlemen employed in the expedition seem to think that by the word ' Sound,' Baffin meant an inlet terminated by land. It never had such a meaning among geographers and navigators, being used by them, as the wowi implies, to denote a sea, strait, bay, &c. which could bt icundcd. Tht Sound, for instance, leading to the Baltic, is a strait.
divided divided into two branches. We pursued the left branch for a mile, and could trace it a long way farther. There was something extremely picturesque in this place, and nothing but a few trees were wanting to make it very beautiful. An interesting circumstance occurred, however, which makes it highly probable that trees were not very far distant; for we picked up in the bed of the stream a piece of the bark of a birch tree, I believe of the silver birch, it having none of that brown colour which the bark has of that species of which the Indians at Quebec and Halifax construct their canoes. It was very white on both sides, and appeared to have peeled and dropped off in the course of nature. I saw no appearance of iron, but abundance of limestone. The tracks of bears of enormous dimensions were very frequent; and the recent one of some cloven-footed animal, seven inches and a half long by five inches and a half broad. I saw no traces of human habitations, but we have met with no spot within the Arctic regions which I should prefer to this. Indeed, it was impossible to fancy oneself within the polar circle, while walking upon tolerable good soil, entirely free from snow, and not a piece of ice to be seen to the utmost limits of a clear horizon in every direction.'*
This birch bark found by Mr. Parry, and part of the stem of a fir tree five inches in diameter, would seem to prove that the branches of the river proceed from a part of the country on which trees are growing.
We find nothing whatever of interest in the voyage after their departure from this spot. It is quite obvious they were homeward bound as expeditiously as they could well proceed, sometimes in sight of the land and at other times not, but always at such a distance as to obtain very little information respecting the numerous islands and inlets on this side of the bay. 'From Lancaster Sound,' says Captain Sabine,' to the entrance of Cumberland Strait, the coast was imperfectly known before, and was very imperfectly seen by us;' and yet Captain Sabine is said to have asserted, when opposite Lancaster Sound, that there was no passage through this coast, which he now admits to be 'imperfectly known.' It so happened that they came opposite to the mouth of Cumberland Strait, but not near it, on the 1st October: and ' as the 1st October,' says Captain Ross,' was the latest period which, by my Instructions, I was allowed to continue on this service, 1 was not authorized to proceed up this strait to explore it, which, perhaps, at the advanced season of the year, might be too hazardous an attempt.' We say, on the contrary, that he was fully authorized; and have not the smallest doubt, judging from his Instructions, that such a proceeding would have met with the unqualified approbation of his employers; and saved them the mortification of hearing from him that,' from the circumstance of a current being found at the entrance of this strait, there is no doubt a much better chance of a passage there than in any other place.' Having thus found the current of which he had so long been in search, the least he could do was to follow it up; and though it might be, and certainly was ' a subject of much regret that they had not been able to reach the strait's entrance sooner,' yet it was better late than not at all, and the time was wholly at command. But there appear to be different opinions as to the lateness of the season. At this very spot, lieutenant Parry observer—' Nothing can be liner than the weather We have had for some days past; and I feel confident from all I have lately witnessed, that the attempts at discovery in the polar regions have always hitherto been relinquished, just at a time when there is the greatest chance of succeeding; for eight or nine hours of night are not a disadvantage by any means equal to the advantage of a sea clear of ice, which can only be expected towards this time of the year.' There can, we think, be no doubt that the three months of August, September, and October are the most favourable in this respect. The new ice rarely begins to form before the latter part of December and till then the old ice continues to waste away.
* Private Journal of LJeutenaut Parry.
But the officers of the Alexander were of opinion that a southeasterly current had been experienced long before they approached the entrance of Cumberland Strait; and whatever Captain Ross may say or think to the contrary, there cannot remain the slightest doubt that the great body of the water in Baffin's Bay has a motion in that direction; else how could the great icebergs (to the amount of some thousands) which are principally formed in the northern part of the bay, be floated down till they are grounded in the narrows and shoals of Davis's Strait, whence, as soon as broken away till they again float, they are invariably swept along the coast of Labrador into the Atlantic where they are finally dissolved i As a further proof of what we are advancing, these icebergs have been observed over and over again by intelligent residents of Greenland, as well as by whale fishers, working their way to the southward directly in the teeth of both wind and tide, the action of these on a very small substance of the berg above water being unable to countervail that of the water on the vast body immersed in it. If the water of the polar sea circulates into the Atlantic, it is not by a superficial current, which the regular tides may overcome, but by the whole body of the water. A bottle thrown overboard from the Alexander off Cape Farewell on the 24th May, 1818, was picked up on the Island of Bartragh in the Bay of Killala, on the- 17th March, 1819, having