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attached to his own, and Lieutenant (now Commander) Ross, accompanied by Mr. (now Lieutenant) Bird in the other; Lieutenant (now Commander) Foster being left in charge of the Hecla. At Little Table Island, the highest latitude of land known on the globe, they left a deposit of provisions for their return. The following extract will put the reader in possession of the mode in which this gallant party pursued their journey :
Our plan of travelling being nearly the same throughout this excursion, after we first entered upon the ice, I may at once give some account of our usual mode of proceeding. It was my intention to travel wholly at night, and to rest by day, there being, of course, constant daylight in these regions during the summer season. The advantages of this plan, which was occasionally deranged by circumstances, consisted, first, in our avoiding the intense and oppressive glare from the snow during the time of the sun's greatest altitude, so as to prevent, in some degree, the painful inflammation in the eyes, called "snow-blindness,” which is common in all snowy countries. We also thus enjoyed greater warmth during the hours of rest, and had a better chance of drying our clothes; besides which, no small advantage was derived from the snow being harder at night for travelling. The only disadvantage of this plan was, that the fogs were somewhat more frequent and more thick by night than by day, though even in this respect there was less difference than might have been supposed, the temperature during the twenty-four hours undergoing but little variation. This travelling by night and sleeping by day so completely inverted the natural order of things, that it was difficult to persuade ourselves of the reality. Even the officers and myself, who were all furnished with pocket chronometers, could not always bear in mind at what part of the twenty-four hours we had arrived ; and there were several of the men who declared, and I believe truly, that they never knew night from day during the whole excursion.*
• When we rose in the evening, we commenced our day by prayers, after which we took off our fur sleeping-dresses, and put on those for travelling; the former being made of camblet, lined with racoon-skin, and the latter of strong blue box-cloth. We made a point of always putting on the same stockings and boots for travelling in, whether they had dried during the day or not; and I believe it was only in five or six instances, at the most, that they were not either still wet or hard-frozen. This, indeed, was of no consequence, beyond the discomfort of first putting them on in this state, as they were sure to be
* Had we succeeded in reaching the higher latitudes, where the change of the sun's altitude during the twenty-four hours is still less perceptible, it would have been essentially necessary to possess the certain means of knowing this ; since an error of twelve hours of time would have carried us, when we intended to return, on a meridian opposite to, or 180° from, the right one. To obviate the possibility of this, we had some chronometers constructed by Messrs. Parkinson and Frodsham, of which the hour-hand made only one revolution in the day, the twenty-four hours being marked round the dial-plate.
thoroughly wet in a quarter of an hour after commencing our journey; while, on the other hand, it was of vital importance to keep dry things for sleeping in. Being “ rigged" for travelling, we breakfasted upon warm cocoa and biscuit, and after stowing the things in the boats and on the sledges, so as to secure them, as much as possible, from wet, we set off on our day's journey, and usually travelled from five to five and a half hours, then stopped an hour to dine, and again travelled four, five, or even six hours, according to circumstances. After this we halted for the night, as we called it, though it was usually early in the morning, selecting the largest surface of ice we happened to be near, for hauling the boats on, in order to avoid the danger of its breaking up by coming in contact with other masses, and also to prevent drift as much as possible. The boats were placed close alongside each other, with their sterns to the wind, the snow or wet cleared out of them, and the sails, supported by the bamboo masts and three paddles, placed over them as awnings, an entrance being left at the bow. Every man then immediately put on dry stockings and fur boots, after which we set about the necessary repairs of boats, sledges, or clothes ; and, after serving the provisions for the succeeding day, we went to supper. Most of the officers and men then smoked their pipes, which served to dry the boats and awnings very much, and usually raised the temperature of our lodgings 10° or 15o. This part of the twenty-four hours was often a time, and the only one, of real enjoyment to us; the men told their stories, and “ fought all their battles o'er again," and the labours of the day, unsuccessful as they too often were, were forgotten. A regular watch was set during our resting-time, to look out for bears or for the ice breaking up round us, as well as to attend to the drying of the clothes, each man alternately taking this duty for one hour. We then concluded our day with prayers, and having put on our fur-dresses, lay down to sleep with a degree of comfort, which perhaps few persons would imagine possible under such circumstances; our chief inconvenience being, that we were somewhat pinched for room, and therefore obliged to stow rather closer than was quite agreeable. The temperature, while we slept, was usually from 36° to 45°, according to the state of the external atmosphere ; but on one or two occasions, in calm and warm weather, it rose as high as 60° to 66°, obliging us to throw off a part of our fur-dress. After we had slept seven hours, the man appointed to boil the cocoa roused us, when it was ready, by the sound of a bugle, when we commenced our day in the manner before described.
• Our allowance of provisions for each man per day was as follows: Biscuit
to make one pint. Rum
1 gill. Tobacco
3 ounces per week. Our fuel consisted entirely of spirits of wine, of which two pints VOL. XXXVII. NO. LXXIV.
formed our daily allowance, the cocoa being cooked in an iron boiler over a shallow iron lamp, with seven wicks ; a simple apparatus, which answered our purpose remarkably well. We usually found one pint of the spirits of wine sufficient for preparing our breakfast, that is, for heating twenty-eight pints of water, though it always commenced from the temperature of 32°. If the weather was calm and fair, this quantity of fuel brought it to the boiling point in about an hour and a quarter; but more generally the wicks began to go out before it had reached 200°. This, however, made a very comfortable meal to persons situated as we were. Such, with very little variation, was our regular routine during the whole of this excursion.'--p. 55-59.
This little adventurous party soon began to experience difficulties that, by ordinary minds, would, at once, have been set down for insurmountable. The sea continued to be covered with loose, rugged masses of ice, separated only by narrow pools of water, which obliged them constantly to launch the boats down one piece and haul them up another, having first unloaded, not only to lighten them, but to save the provisions from risk of loss. To these rugged masses next succeeded small floes of ice, on the upper surface of which were numberless irregular needle-like crystals, placed vertically, nearly close together, varying in length from five to ten inches, in breadth half an inch, but pointed at both ends, loose and moveable, fatiguing to walk over, and cutting the boots and feet. These floes were generally covered with high and irregular hummocks of ice, over which the boats were to be hauled, sometimes almost perpendicularly; not unfrequently the surface was covered with deep snow, into which, being half melted, the men slipped up to the knees at every other step, so that they were sometimes five minutes together in moving a single empty boat with all their united strength. Sometimes they had to drag the boats and sledges through large pools of water; and in all cases they had to make three or four journeys over the same floe, to bring up the boats, the sledges, and the provisions. The consequence of all this was, that they frequently advanced only two, sometimes three, and seldom more than four or five miles, directly north, in the course of a day. On one occasion, Captain Parry says, that after six hours of incessant toil and great risk, both to the boats and men, they had only accomplished about a mile and a quarter. Add to all this, the snow at one time fell heavily; and at others, the rain came down in torrents, keeping their clothes in a constant state of wetness. Once it continued without intermission for twenty-one hours, and was succeeded by dense fogs. * I had never before,' says Captain Parry, 'seen any rain in the Polar regions to be compared to this.' In one place it required two hours of hard labour to proceed one hundred and fifty yards.
In another, after eleven hours of actual and severe labour, requiring the whole strength of the party to be exerted, the space travelled over did not exceed four miles, of which scarcely two were made good to the northward. But this slowness of apparent progress was not the worst of their misfortunes; small as it was, it was not real. On the 20th of July, Captain Parry says,
• We halted at seven A.M., having, by our reckoning, accomplished six miles and a half in a N.N.W. direction, the distance traversed being ten miles and a half. It may, therefore, be imagined how great was our mortification in finding that our latitude, by observation at noon, was only $2° 36' 52", being less than five miles to the northward of our place at noon on the 17th, since which time we had certainly travelled twelve in that direction.'—p. 94. This discouraging circumstance was carefully concealed from
On the 22d they had the satisfaction of observing that the ice had certainly improved ; though the floes had not extended their surfaces so as to entitle them to be called fields, yet hopes were now entertained that their progress would be more commensurate with their exertions.
• In proportion, then, to the hopes we had begun to entertain, was our disappointment in finding, at noon, that we were in latitude 820 43' 54, or not quite four miles to the northward of yesterday's observation, instead of the ten or eleven which we had travelled ! However, we determined to continue to the last our utmost exertions, though we could never once encourage the men by assuring them of our making good progress, and, setting out at seven in the evening, soon found that our hope of having permanently reached better ice was not to be realized; for the floe on which we slept was so full of hummocks, that it occupied us just six hours to cross it, the distance m a straight line not exceeding two miles and a half.'-pp. 98, 99.
This laborious work was disheartening enough to the officers, who knew to what little effect they had been struggling, which, however, the men did not, though,' says Parry, they often laughingly remarked that “we were a long time getting to this 830!”. The weather was in general sufficiently warm, though frequently wet and foggy, and the ice again became broken into small rugged patches.
• The weather improving towards noon on the 26th, we obtained the meridian altitude of the sun, by which we found ourselves in latitude 82° 40' 234; so that, since our last observation (at midnight on the 22d), we had lost by drift no less than thirteen miles and a half; for we were now more than three miles to the southward of that observation, though we had certainly travelled between ten and eleven due north in this interval! Again, we were but one mile to the north of our place at noon on the 21st, though we had estimated our distance made good at twenty-three miles. Thus it appeared that, for the last 2 M 2
five days, we had been struggling against a southerly drift exceeding four miles per day.'-p. 102.
It now became,-indeed we may say it had for some time become,---hopeless to pursue the journey farther.
• It had, for some time past, been too evident that the nature of the ice with which we had to contend was such, and its drift to the southward, especially with a northerly wind, so great, as to put beyond our reach anything but a very moderate share of success in travelling to the northward. Still, however, we had been anxious to reach the highest latitude which our means would allow, and, with this view, although our whole object had long become unattainable, had pushed on to the northward for thirty-five days, or until half our resources were expended, and the middle of our season arrived. For the last few days, the eighty-third parallel was the limit to which we had ventured to extend our hopes; but even this expectation had become considerably weakened since the setting in of the last northerly wind, which continued to drive us to the southward, during the necessary hours of rest, nearly as much as we could gain by eleven or twelve hours of daily labour. Had our success been at all proportionate to our exertions, it was my full intention to have proceeded a few days. beyond the middle of the period for which we were provided, trusting to the resources we expected to find at Table Island. But this was so far from being the case, that I could not but consider it as incurring useless fatigue to the officers and men, and unnecessary wear and tear for the boats, to persevere any longer in the attempt. I determined, therefore, on giving the people one entire day's rest, which they very much needed, and time to wash and mend their clothes, while the officers were occupied in making all the observations which might be interesting in this latitude; and then to set out on our return on the following day. Having communicated my intentions to the people, who were all much disappointed in finding how little their labours had effected, we set about our respective occupations, and were much favoured by a remarkably fine day.'--p. 102—104.
It is impossible to convey, by any abstract we could give, an adequate notion of the exertions, the fatigue, and the sufferings which these poor fellows appear to have undergone during these thirty-five days, in acquiring this highest point of latitude; nor can the reader imagine to himself anything so dreary, desolate, and forlorn, as a sea covered with floating pieces of ice, unrelieved by a single object of animate or inanimate nature, and far from any land. If the plate (facing page 90) be not exaggerated, it will express more than words can convey, the dark and dismas solitude where all nature seems still, and wrapt, as it were, in a death-like gloom. This dismal picture, aided by the following description of Captain Parry, may somewhat assist in conveying an idea of this dull and lifeless region of the globe :• As soon as we landed on a floe-piece, Lieutenant Ross and mysel.