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Atlantic to the Pacific, has left it precisely where it was at the conclusion of his first voyage, in the course of which he went over the same ground. We call his last voyage the least successful, not only on account of the loss of one of his ships, which deprived him of the means of prosecuting the expedition, but because, unlike the former, it has added little or nothing to our stock of geographical knowledge. For all this, however, no blame attaches to either of the commanders; the same zeal, the same unabated exertion, and steady perseverance, were manfully employed by all the officers and men, on this as on former occasions. The unusual severity of the first season, on their passage outwards; and the change, of which they could not be aware, that had taken place in the position of the floating fields of ice that permanently occupy some part of Baffin's Bay, retarded the progress of the ships so long, that it was with much difficulty they were enabled to reach Port Bowen, on the eastern shore of Prince Regent's Inlet, before all further navigation, for that season, became impracticable, on account of the formation of
young ice on the surface of the sea. Had they been fortunate enough to reach this point three weeks or a month sooner, as they had every reasonable ground, from former experience, to anticipate, they would in all probability have crossed the southern portion of the Polar sea, and wintered on some part of the coast of America. Subsequent appearances of the sea towards that quarter justified such an expectation; but, at all events, it was hoped that, by starting at an early period of the following season from the advanced post they had gained, they would be able to make very considerable progress to the westward, perhaps to accomplish the great object of the expedition. They came to this conclusion from the flattering circumstance that, to the southward of Prince Regent's Inlet, neither ice nor islands were visible to obstruct their passage,' while a dark water-sky,' says Captain Parry, * indicated a perfectly navigable sea in that direction.
The winter in Port Bowen was passed pretty nearly in the same manner as former winters in the Polar Seas, while the ships were shut up in thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice,' and, with them, their brave crews doomed
there to pine, Immoveable, infixed, and frozen round.' Perhaps, indeed, this third winter was somewhat more dreary than former ones; there was a total absence of all human creatures besides themselves; and, we might almost say, of every object of animated nature. In other respects, as Captain Parry observes, a description of the aspect of nature would suit alike each winter they had passed in the ice, and the catalogue of oc
currences and adventures of one sojourn might serve very nearly as well for any other.
* To those who read, as well as to those who describe, the account of a winter passed in these regions can no longer be expected to afford the interest of novelty it once possessed; more especially in a station already delineated with tolerable geographical precision on our maps, and tbus
, as it were, brought near to our firesides at home. Independently, indeed, of this circumstance, it is hard to conceive any one thing more like another than two winters passed in the higher latitndes of the Polar regions, except when variety happens to be afforded by intercourse with some other branch of “ the whole family of man.” Vinter after winter, nature here assumes an aspect so much alike, that cursory observation can scarcely detect a single feature of variety. The winter of more temperate climates, and even in some of no slight severity, is occasionally diversified by a thaw, which at once gives variety and compara tive cheerfulness to the prospect. But here, when once the earth is covered, all is dreary monotonous whiteness-not merely for days or weeks, but for more than half a year together. Whichever
eye is turned, it meets a picture calculated to impress upon the mind an idea of inanimate stillness, of that motionless torpor with which our feelings have nothing congenial ; of anything, in short, but life. In the very silence there is a deadness with which a human spectator appears out of keeping. The presence of man seems an intrusion on the dreary solitude of this wintry desert, wbich even its native animals have for a while forsaken.'— pp. 40, 41.
As affording some amends for external deficiencies, their comforts and conveniences were considerably improved this voyage, and with these the general health of the seamen, which, if possible, exceeded that of all prior experience. This circumstance Captain Parry mainly attributes to his being able to keep up an uniform moderate temperature throughout every part of the ships, varying only from 56° to 63o, with a perfectly dry atmosphere: and these important advantages he was enabled to accomplish by means of Silvester’s “ warming apparatus,'—'a contrivance, he says, of which I scarcely know how to express my admiration in adequate terms.'
• The alteration adopted on this voyage of placing this stove in the very bottom of the bold, produced not only the effect naturally to be expected from it, of increasing the rapidity of the current of warm air, and thus carrying it to all the officers' cabins with less loss of heat in its pas sage; but was also accompanied by an advantage scarcely less important which had not been anticipated. This was the perfect and uniform warnıth maintained during the winter in both the cable-tiers, which, when cleared of all the stores, gave us another habitable deck, on which more than one-third of the men's hammocks were birthed : thus affording to the ships' companies, during seven or eight months of the year, the indescribable comfort of nearly twice the space for their beds, and
twice the volume of air to breathe in. It need scarcely be added, how conducive to wholesome ventilation, and to the prevention of moisture below, such an arrangement proved; suffice it to say that we have never before been so free from moisture, and that I cannot but chiefly attribute to this apparatus the unprecedented good state of health we enjoyed during this winter.'— pp. 44, 45.
The occupation of the seamen in their ordinary duties, the occasional diversion of their minds, and the regularity of their bodily exercise, were objects not likely to be neglected by so experienced and attentive a commander as Captain Parry. Their former recreations, however, derived chiefly from the acting of plays and the composition and reading of a Weekly Gazette, might now be supposed to have lost the charm of novelty: these, therefore, were not again resorted to, and in lieu of them Captain Hoppner, (of the Fury,) Parry's tried and trusty associate in these voyages, suggested and planned a masquerade, in which both officers and men should be able to take a share.
It is impossible that any idea could have proved more happy, or more exactly suited to our situation. Admirably dressed characters of various descriptions readily took their parts, and many of these were supported with a degree of spirit and genuine humour which would not have disgraced a more refined assembly; while the latter might not have disdained, and would not have been disgraced by, copying the good order, decorum, and inoffensive cheerfulness which our humble masquerades presented. It does especial credit to the dispositions and good sense of our men, that, though all the officers entered fully into the spirit of these amusements, which took place once a month, alternately on board each ship, no instance occurred of any thing that could interfere with the regular discipline, or at all weaken the respect of the men towards their superiors. Ours were masquerades without licentiousness-carnivals without excess.'— pp. 49, 50.
But an occupation not less assiduously pursued, and of much more important and permanent benefit to those engaged in it, was the re-establishment of schools.
* By the judicious zeal of Mr. Hooper, the Hecla's school was made subservient, not merely to the improvement of the men in reading and writing, (in which, however, their progress was surprizingly great,) but also to the cultivation of that religious feeling which so essentially improves the character of a seaman, by furnishing the bighest motives for increased attention to every other duty. Nor was the benefit confined to the eighteen or twenty individuals whose want of scholarship brought them to the school-table, but extended itself to the rest of the ship's company, making the whole lower deck such a scene of quiet rational occupation as I never before witnessed on board a ship. And I do not speak lightly when I express my thorough persuasion that to the moral effects thus produced upon the minds of the men, were owing, in a very high degree, the constant yet sober cheerfulness, the uninterrupted good
order, and even, in some measure, the extraordinary state of health which prevailed among us during this winter.'--pp. 50,5).
When to these methods of recreation and mental employment are added the various occupations of the officers in the duties of the ship, in taking observations relating to astronomy and navigation, in noting down the several atmospherical phenomena, in collecting specimens of natural history, it may readily be supposed that time did not hang heavily on their hands. A great number of important observations on the magnetic influence were condueted by Lieutenant Foster, which are about to appear in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and from which some new, curious, and highly interesting results are expected. In treating of Professor Barlow's plate for correcting the effect of local attraction, and the severe trial it had to undergo in latitudes where the compasses had before been rendered wholly useless, Captain Parry says, had tion a more complete and satisfactory triumph; for to the last moment of our operations at sea did the compass indicate the true magnetic direction.'
• Such an invention (he proceeds) as this, so sound in principle, so easy of application, and so universally beneficial in practice, needs no testimony of mine to establish its merits; but when I consider the many anxious days and sleepless nights wbich the uselessness of the compass in these seas has formerly occasioned me, I really should esteem it a kind of personal ingratitude to Mr. Barlow, as well as great injustice to so memorable a discovery, not to have stated my opinion of its merits
, under circumstances so well calculated to put them to a satisfactory trial.'—pp. 55, 56.
It is known that sounds are heard with more distinctness, and at greater distances in severely cold weather than at other times. At Port Bowen it was found that two persons could keep up a conversation with great facility between two stations at the measured distance of 6,696 feet, or about one statute mile and twotenths, the thermometer at 18 below zero.
The atmospherical phenomena in the polar regions during winter appear to be subject to much less change than in places situated in lower latitudes. Thus the range in the barometer and thermometer is very limited; the hygrometer rarely indicates any moisture; the snow that occasionally falls is composed of minute crystals, and scarcely covers the ground at the end of the season to the depth of four inches; the atmosphere gives no indication of electricity; and the aurora borealis is faint and seldom appears—but for the details of these subjects, so interesting to science, we must refer the reader to the volume itself, in the Appendix to which will be found much most valuable matter in the various departments of science,
It was not till the 20th July that the disruption of the ice allowed the ships to remove from their winter-quarters, and enabled them to stretch across towards the western shore of Prince Regent's Inlet, where, after some slight obstruction, they succeeded in making favourable progress along the land. This however did not continue long; the ice was perceived to approach the land, till at length it reached the ships and drove them both on shore, and the Fury was found to be so very seriously damaged as to make it impossible for her to proceed farther without repairs, and probably without, as Captain Parry calls it, the ruinous necessity' of heaving the ship down.
There being no harbour, it was necessary to form a sort of basin by means of the ice for the performance of this operation; the process was tedious and laborious, and various impediments occurred from the movement and pressure of the ice. They succeeded, however, after immense exertions, in heaving the Fury down: but this had scarcely been accomplished when a gale of wind destroyed the securities of the basin, which rendered it necessary to tow the Fury out, to re-equip the Hecla, and for the latter to stand out to sea. The Fury was once more driven on shore, and it now appeared on a close examination, that it was perfectly hopeless, circumstanced as they were, to make her sea-worthy, that it was absolutely necessary to abandon her. The incessant labour which every one underwent, upon this disastrous occasion, had a curious effect on the mind. • The officers and men,' says Captain Parry, 'were now literally so harassed and fatigued, as to be scarcely capable of further exertion without some rest; and on this and one or two other occasions, I noticed more than a single instance of stupor amounting to a certain degree of failure in intellect, rendering the individual so affected quite unable at first to comprehend the meaning of an order, though still as willing as ever to obey it.'
Whatever expectations Captain Parry might have rested on the result of heaving down and repairing the Fury, these were now at an end. With a twelvemonth's provisions for both ships' companies, (says the Captain,) it would have been folly to hope for final success, considering the small progress we had already made, the uncertain nature of this navigation, and the advanced period of the present season. I was therefore,' he adds,
reduced to the only remaining conclusion, that it was my duty, under all the circumstances of the case, to return to England, in compliance with the plain tenor of my instructions.'
Captain Parry adduces a number of instances to prove, what we have noticed on a former occasion, • that the western sides of seas and inlets, having a trending at all approaching to north and