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ascertain the truth of this statement, and found it corroborated in almost every particular by five different masters of whalers belonging to Aberdeen and to London, to whom, at different times, Olof Ocken, (the person alluded to,) master of the Eleanora of Hamburgh, (not of Bremen,) had given an account of the course which he steered along the eastern coast of Greenland, from Jan Mayen's island to the degree of latitude above mentioned; and it appears, from the joint testimony of the captain and surgeon of the Princess of Wales of Aberdeen, that the reckoning in his log-book was worked at the end of every watch, a practice which is also common among British whalers after making the ice;' and that both the master and mate were very intelligent navigators.' Since that time we have received from Hamburgh a copy of Captain Ocken's log, a chart of his route, and a letter addressed by him to Messrs. Elliott and Co. of Hamburgh; from all which it appears that he coasted Greenland with the land in sight, and among loose ice, but that the most northerly point which he saw was about 80° N. lat.
But we have the direct testimony of Mr. Scoresby the younger, a very intelligent navigator of the Greenland seas, for the disappearance of an immense quantity of arctic ice. In a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, he says, 'I observed on my last voyage (1817) about two thousand square leagues (18,000 square miles) of the surface of the Greenland seas, included between the parallels 74° and 80°, perfectly void of ice, all of which has disappeared within the last two years.' And he further states, that though on former voyages he had very rarely been able to penetrate the ice, between the latitudes of 76° and 80°, so far to the west as the meridian of Greenwich, on his last voyage he twice reached the longitude of 10° west;' that, in the parallel of 74°, he approached the coast of Old Greenland; that there was little ice near the land; and adding 'that there could be no doubt but he might have reached the shore had he had a justifiable motive for navigating an unknown sea at so late a season of the year.? He also found the sea so clear in returning to the southward, that he actually landed on Jan Mayen's island, which is usually surrounded with a barrier of ice, and brought away specimens of the rocks.
Another fact deserves to be mentioned. Dr. Olinthus Gregory, who sailed from Shetland to Peterhead in the Neptune of Aberdeen, on her return from the fishery, is said to have reported that Driscole, the master, not only landed on the east coast of Greenland about the latitude of 74°, but found and brought away a post bearing an inscription, in Russian characters, that a ship of that nation had been there in the year 1774; which post with its inscription was seen on board by Dr. Gregory.* It would seem indeed that the northern
*We strongly suspect, however, that instead of the east coast of Greenland, we should read the coast of East Greenland; a name which the whalers commonly give to Spitzbergen.
part of the east coast of Greenland has been approached at various times by different nations-Dutch, Danes and English. Hudson, in 1607, saw the coast nearly in the same latitude as that where Driscole is supposed to have landed; and actually sent a boat on shore in 80° 23'. It is from Hudson's Hold with Hope' in about 72° to Cape Farewell that the ice fixed itself to the land from which it has recently been detached.
That this is the case we can state from the best authority:-intelligence was received at Copenhagen, from Iceland, in September last, of the ice having broken loose from the opposite coast of Greenland, and floated away to the southward, after surrounding the shores, and filling all the bays and creeks of that island; and this afflicting visitation was repeated in the same year, a circumstance hitherto unknown to the oldest inhabitant.
We have said that the most probable cause for the sudden depar ture of all this ice, is that of its having brokeu loose by its own weight. It has been observed, however, as a remarkable coincidence, that its removal was contemporaneous with the period about which the variation of the magnetic needle to the westward became stationary. It is well known that in the sea of Baffin (gratuitously called a bay) the compass is affected in a most extraordinary manner; and that the variation is greater there than in any other known part of the world; so great indeed, as to lead to the belief that one of the magnetic poles must be situated in that quarter-But how does this, it may be asked, furnish a clue for the disappearance of the ice, which it would seem has also floated from thence in greater quantities than usual?
The connexion is certainly not very obvious, though there is reason to believe that it exists. The aurora borealis, for instance, is supposed to owe, if not its origin, at least its intensity to the changes which take place either in the freezing, thawing, or collisions of the polar ice; and in winter, even in Sweden, this intensity is so powerful, and the motions of the aurora so rapid, that a crackling noise is heard not unlike that of the furling of a fan, or the emission of sparks from the cylinder of an electric machine. At such times the magnetic needle has been observed to be so much affected, as to vibrate violently with a tremulous motion, and sometimes to fly round the whole circumference of the horizon. The theory of Dr. Franklin to account for the phenomenon of the aurora is not inapplicable to the present state of the polar ice. He supposes this meteor to be owing to the vast quantity of electricity accumu lated in the atmosphere, and unable to pass off into the earth on account of the non-conducting substance of ice with which the land and sea are there incrusted; this theory might serve to explain the first notice of the aurora borealis about a century after the
fixing of the ice along the coast of Greenland, as well as the rarity of its appearance of late years. At any rate, however, if the electricity of the atmosphere has so extraordinary an effect on the magnetic needle, and the changes which take place in the ice on atmospherical electricity, it would seem not unfair to infer, that the departure of the immense fields and mountains of ice, which for so many centuries have covered the arctic seas, may have had some effect in stopping the career of the western declination of the needle. We merely throw out the hint, to draw the attention of those scientific men, who may be employed on the expedition of discovery now in preparation; in the mean time, in our present ignorance of the immediate cause, we must be satisfied to ascribe the revolution that has taken place to the decree of Providence, who, as Paley observes, is the author of infinitely various expedients for infinitely various ends;' to consider it as the result of one of those prospective contrivances, which are appointed to correct the anomalies, and adjust the perturbations of the universe.
The fact, however, of the disappearance of the ice being established beyond any doubt, it becomes a subject of no uninteresting inquiry, Whether any and what advantages may arise out of an event which for the first time has occurred, at least to so great an extent, during the last four hundred years?
Among other objects which present themselves as worthy of research, the following are no less interesting to humanity than important to the advancement of science and the probable extension of commerce.
First-The influence which the removal of so large a body of ice may have on our own climate. Secondly, the opportunity it affords of inquiring into the fate of the long-lost colony on the eastern coast of Old Greenland. Thirdly, the facility it offers of correcting the very defective geography of the arctic regions in our western hemisphere; of attempting the circumnavigation of Greenland, a direct passage over the pole, and the more circuitous one along the northern coast of America, into the Pacific.
1. It would be a waste of words to enter into any discussion on the diminution of temperature, which must necessarily be occasioned by the proximity of vast mountains and islands of ice. The authentic annals of Iceland describe that island as having once been covered with impervious woods; and numerous places still bear the name of forest, which produce only a few miserable stunted birches of five or six feet high, and in which all attempts to raise a tree of any kind have for ages proved unavailing. The most intelligent travellers,* who, in our time, have visited this island, bear
Sir Joseph Banks, M. Von Troil, Sir John Stanley, Sir George Mackenzie, Mr. Hooker, Doctor Holland, &c.
testimony to the fact of large logs of wood being dug out of bogs, and found between the rocks and in the valleys. It is also said that good culinary vegetables were once produced on it; but the cabbages seen there by Mr. Hooker, in the month of August, were so diminutive that a half-crown piece would have covered the whole plant. Nothing but a deterioration of climate could have wrought these changes; and this can only be explained by the vast increase of floating ice, which,' says Hooker, not only fills all the bays, but covers the sea to that extent from the shore, that the eye cannot trace its boundary from the summit of the highest mountains.' Sometimes it connects the island in one continued mass with Greenland, when the white bears come over in such alarming numbers, that the inhabitants assemble and wage a national war against them. These masses of ice drive about with such rapidity, and rush against one another with so much violence, that the floating wood brought along with them is said sometimes to ake fire by the friction. During this conflict, the weather is unsettled and stormy; but when once the ice becomes fixed to the land, the air thickens, and dense fogs, accompanied by a moist and penetrating cold, destroy all vegetation, and the cattle perish.
Similar effects, but to a less extent, are said to have been experienced in Switzerland. So little is it there doubted that the progress of cold has kept pace with the progressive encroachment of the glaciers on the valleys, that the first prize of the Society of Berne for improving Natural Knowledge is appropriated to the best essay on this subject. In the absence of direct proof from thermometrical observation of the increasing chilliness of the climate, it is asserted, on the authority of their annals, that many parts of the Alps, now bare, once afforded good pasturage; that both historical evidence, and remaining traces, prove the existence of forests in places where no tree, at present, can vegètate; and that the lower limit of perpetual frost is constantly descending. The same effect has been experienced in North America. In the year 1816 the mays, or Indian corn, did not ripen along the whole coast from Pennsylvania to Massachusets--a circumstance which had not happened before in the memory of the oldest inhabitant:-at this time the ice was floating down the shores of the Atlantic as far as the fortieth parallel.
If such be the facts, and they cannot well be questioned, with regard to these countries, it is equally clear that our own climate, though in a less degree, must have been affected by this vast accumulation of ice on the east coast of Greenland. The distance between the centre of Iceland and Edinburgh is not more than twice, and that from Iceland to London not above three times, the distance between Iceland and the east coast of Greenland.
That our climate has been more particularly affected, in the course of the last three years, by the descent of the ice into the Atlantic, and more especially in the summers of the years 1816 and 1817, is a matter of record; for on comparing, by the meteorological register of the Royal Society, the four summer months, May, June, July, and August, of 1805, 1806, and 1807, with the four corresponding months of the last three years, it will be seen that a very considerable diminution of temperature has taken place in the latter periods.
Great- Mean Great Mean Great- Mean Great Mean Great- Mean Great- Mean est height. est height. est height. est height. height, height. height. height. May 720 52.4° 689 58.2° 75° 57.89 64° 53.3°
June 75 57.7
62.5 70 58.2
81 64.5 69 61
est height. est height. height. height. 84° 57.9° 64° 51.8
80 66.7 69 59.6
Here we find a difference of 11°, 12°, and 139, between the highest temperature of August, July, and June, in the year 1806 as compared with 1816; 16° and 17° between July and May of 1807, as compared with the highest degree of heat in the corresponding months of 1816; and no less than 20° in the month of May 1807 and 1817; and the mean temperature of the four months is invariably less by several degrees in 1816 and 1817, than in either 1806 or 1807, excepting in the month of June 1817, when ten or twelve hot days occurred with the wind at east ; the only ones we had during the summer. In the summers of both years the mercury invariably fell with westerly winds. It can scarcely be doubted, therefore, that the remarkable chilliness of the atmosphere in the summer months of those two years was owing to the appearance of ice in the Atlantic; and if this be admitted, as little can it be doubted that the destruction of so many thousand square leagues of ice holds out a rational and not an unpleasing prospect, of our once again enjoying the genial warmth of the western breeze, and those soft and gentle zephyrs, which, in our time, have existed only in the imagination of the poet.
The invention of the thermometer and the registry of the temperature are of too recent a date to enable us to compare the state of the atmosphere, before and after the accumulation of ice on the coast of Greenland; but there are reasons for believing that, previously to the fifteenth century, England enjoyed a warmer summer climate than since that period. It is sufficiently apparent that, at one time, vineyards were very common in England; and that wine, in very considerable quantity, was made from them. Tacitus states that vineyards were planted by the Romans in Britain; and Holin