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the expanse. For full two hours we steamed abreast of the great Frederickshaab glacier (latitude 62°) and along the northeast contours of Melville Bay the eye failed to detect a break in the continuity of the ice wall for seemingly thirty miles or more. Where the eye follows a line of coast for any distance it is almost
sure to compass all the types of glaciers which belong to the land: the broad and lazy glacial plain, flattened out like a vast and continuous ice slide; the sharply pitched hanging glaciers, which, caterpillar-like, crawl down the steeper slopes at angles of twenty-five to thirty-five degrees; and the deeply fissured crevasse glaciers, whose forbidding aspect only too vividly recalls the wicked ice sheets of the Alps. These types are, however, but the expression of a common structure, modified by local conditions, and set into the particular mold which belongs to each particular region. To assume, as perhaps the greater number of geologists do, that the Greenland glaciers represent, both in their construction and workings, a distinct or individual type, is to do violence to truth.
In the many hours of silent contemplation of these vast ice sheets I often pondered the question of the possible thickness of the ice which was involved in their making. Agassiz's measure
ment of some eight hundred to a thousand feet in one or more of the Swiss glaciers conjured up visions of vast possibilities in the Greenland giants, yet nowhere could I satisfy myself that even that thickness which was measured in the Alps was to be found here. Perhaps in the far interior the ice may have that thickness and more, but on the tongue sheets and in their terminal walls we found no indications of it. Two or three hundred feet the ice certainly has, but how much more, if anything, I could not determine. Yet the majestic bergs which, fotilla-like, sail out from these slow-moving rivers of ice, and scatter themselves in hundreds and thousands over the blue mirror of the sea, rise in themselves full two hundred feet out of the water, and perhaps not less than seven or eight hundred feet of subaqueous anchorage gives to them that wonderful aspect of immobility which all who have seen it so much admire. Is the exact relation of the fallen berg to its parent still to be determined ? Seemingly so, for it is certain that in perhaps by far the greater number of cases the height of the berg bears no distinct relation to the thick
ness of the glacier of which it at one time formed a part. With my own eyes I saw but few bergs fall or being made, and these were all of insignificant dimensions. Like many of their larger sisters which undergo disruption, they lashed and foamed in the disturbed waters, rising serenely to no definite relation with the parent mass from which they parted.
The older accounts of travelers have invested the Greenland ice with a wicked sublimity particularly its own, which may be
said to be in part an expression of the real terrors of the arctic regions, and in other part a mere fiction of the imagination. What in Nature could be more terrorizing than those impending bergs, fang-armed like the jaws of some antediluvian monster, and rising hundreds of feet in height, which have been made to do service in the annals of nearly all arctic navigators for a full century or more! Yet how many are there who have in fact seen these fantastic symbols of the north ? In our two cruises among thousands of bergs of all conditions and sizes we saw only monuments of quiet and impressive beauty-nothing suggestive of near or immediate catastrophe. Aberg would tumble here and there, another would groan under the weight of its own dismemberment, and others would, perhaps, be licking up the parts that the sea had torn from them; but whatever it was, the work was accomplished in a peaceable manner, with a seeming consciousness that it had no regret for the results. Nor, indeed, were the results of any magnitude. Travelers have graphically described the commotion in the waters produced by the fall of one of these vast ice mountains, of the cannon-like detonations which were sent out by the snapping of the ice. I should compare the sound more with that of not very intense or even distant thunder, and the agitation of the waters to the churning of a heavily plowing steamship. There are, however, times when the bergs appear in an angry mood. When the after-storm sends them forth from their havens of rest, shooting billowy foam over and through them-it is then that they take on the mane of the lion. The surging waters open out in front of them like the parting in the path of a dolphin, and the bergs swing out triumphantly into the rocking sea. Vain and hopeless would then be the barring of the passage of the moving monster.
The glaciers of Greenland, like their children, have their quiet and angry moods. The flat ice sheets of the north, so firmly consolidated that for miles scarcely a trace of a crevasse is to be found, and whose inclination is such that over almost any part of them railroading could readily be made possible, typify the quiet phase of Nature—wholly different from that which is embodied in the structural form of the majority of the glaciers of the south and of those of Melville Bay, in which the crevasse character is so largely developed. The struggles of Janssen, Nordenskjöld, Whymper, Peary, and Nansen would hardly be intelligible to those whose first efforts in glacial climbing were realized among the solid ice sheets of the north, whose only difficult points, as a rule, are to be found not very far from the ocean front of the ice sheet. With seemingly few exceptions all the larger Greenland glaciers are rifted at their terminal falls, but the rifting, as in all other glaciers, depends upon the slope of the bed, the extent of the ice, and the general compression or extension that it has undergone. In but few instances did we find the rifting so complete as to debar easy circumvention through zigzagging, and rarely did the crevasses have a greater vertical plunge than from thirty to forty feet, or a width exceeding ten or fifteen feet; indeed, by far the greater number were of insignificant depth and breadth, offering little difficulty in their passage to the mountaineer provided with a glacial axe.
Our first attempt to scale a Greenland glacier was made on one of the minor ice sheets debouching on the northern face of Sonntag Bay, in latitude 78°. We had with us a steel-shod Hudson Bay toboggan, on which we loaded some two hundred or two hundred and fifty pounds of traveling impedimenta, and which
we had hoped to be able to drag with us. We had selected this glacier because from our anchorage it presented to the eye an attractively gentle slope, which was apparently interrupted by but few crevasses, and a terminal ice wall of but insignificant height. Approach to the ice border soon showed, however, how erroneous had been our perspective. The ice wall, instead of being fifteen to twenty feet in height, as we had assumed, in reality rose to the respectable proportions of some sixty feet, over which arched a dome of graceful and even curve. In a few minutes some of our party had cut their way to the top, but it was made manifest that any attempt to draw our sledge over would only result in disaster to it, and we accordingly abandoned the enterprise. We repeated our efforts still the same night on a larger but more auspicious-looking glacier, and without difficulty, by climbing over the scanty lateral moraine, reached the middle of the ice. The surface, as in nearly all the Greenland glaciers, was almost entirely destitute of rock débris, the sparsely scattered bowlders which in a broken, zigzag line tottered over the flanks of the ice sheet scarcely revealing the structure of a moraine. Two miles in advance of us the ice was solid, with only knifeedge cracks to indicate where it had parted and to mark the positions of possible past crevasses. It fell easily from the center to
either side, describing that symmetrical dome which was apparent from the water front; seaward it descended with so gentle a slope that over long areas it appeared to the eye only horizontal, and elsewhere the gradient could not have exceeded five degrees. Over this surface the toboggan could be drawn without difficulty, and so few were the hummocks that guy-lines could readily be dispensed with. We were still in the cooler hours of night, or rather of the “day of night," and the sun had made but little impression upon the surface. Here and there the crisp, granular ice showed symptoms of early dissolution, and an occasional water pool marked progress to the gradually advancing hours