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body of ice as far as the eye could reach. The vessel had been shut up for nine and twenty days, in the last fourteen of which she drifted from lat. 46° 57' to lat. 44° 37', about two hundred and eighty miles, or twenty miles a day S. E. by E., tremendous gales of wind blowing the whole time from the west to the north-west. Dayment says that, in the course of the
he saw more than a hundred very large islands of solid blue ice, known to the traders by the name of the northern or Greenland ice.
The brig Funchal, of Greenock, sailed from St. John's in Newfoundland, on the 17th of January of the present year. About fifteen miles to the westward of this port, she fell in with a field of ice coming down from the northward, about eight miles in breadth, and extending to the northward beyond the reach of sight. Having cleared this and proceeded westerly about two hundred and fifty miles, on the 20th, in lat. 471°, she encountered a still more extensive field floating to the southward, in the midst of which was an immense ice-berg; she got free from this, though not without difficulty, and brought with her a gale of wind with snow, sleet and rain, the whole way to Scotland.* It
may here be mentioned as a fact corroborative of the very extensive displacement of ice-fields and ice-bergs, that for the last three years the Hudson's Bay Company have had either one or two of their ships stopped, in their homeward-bound voyage, by the ice brought down from the northward, in the early part of September, which has obliged them to winter in the bay: a circumstance, which had only happened twice in more than a century-once about fifty years ago, and again in the year 1811.
From the vast floating bodies of ice, seen by the several vessels in the Atlantic, we infer, 1. that the dislocation in the arctic seas has been very general, whatever the cause may be, and that it still continues; 2. that the floating and thawing of such vast bodies of ice in a low latitude have been the causes of those extraordinary gales of wind from the west and south-west, accompanied with sleet and snow; and produced those storms and inundations which have visited not only these islands, but a great part of Europe, during the first three months of the year 1818; and that, unfortunately for us, so long as such fields and islands of ice continue to be carried away from the polar seas, and melted in the Atlantic, we have nothing to expect but a raw, moist, and chilly atmosphere, with westerly winds, both summer and winter;and 3. what is most to our present purpose, the descent of these ice-bergs and ice-fields to the southward, in the winter months, proves the perpetuity of the southern current, and that those who have formed their notions of this current from the reveries of St. Pierre on the melting of the polar ice, have adopted very erroneous ideas on the subject.* It is to be hoped, however, that the late unusual chills of the atmosphere will only prove a temporary inconvenience; in any case, we ought to be very thankful that, instead of an occasional chill-from the passing ice to its place of dissolution, we are not visited, like Iceland, Newfoundland, and the eastern coasts of America, with an annual congeries of ice on our shores, which would unquestionably be the case had these frozen bodies of the arctic regions been borne by the currents, from the outlets of the polar sea, in any other direction than that which they now take.f
* For the first of these facts we are obliged to B. Lester, Esq. M.P. for Poole; for the second to Captain Buchan, received by him from a passenger.
+ The cold on the eastern coast of America was unprecedented during the whole of the last two years. In Virginia scarcely a night without frost even in sunimer-in New
We have been thus circumstantial with regard to the current, as its existence affords, in our opinion, the best hope for the success of the expeditions now engaged in exploring a passage into the Pacific; but there is another point not less important to be established, though still more obscure than that of the currents we allude to an open polar basin, exempt from land or ice. Such an idea might well stagger those who had not directed their attention to the subject, and we were prepared to hear some Orleans the im
two inches thick, the ground covered with snow, and the thermometer down to 27o. At Malta' they have been shivering with cold. Etna has presented one mass of snow which descended lower than usual, and the whole continent has been visited with unusual storms of ind and torrents of rain. As these phenomena have occurred with the wind from the westward, they are every where ascribed to the approach and melting of ice in the Atlantic. Navigators generally feel a cold stream of air from an ice-berg long before it is seeu.
* Malte-Brun is one of those who by a dash of the pen can with the utmost ease convert an ice-inountain into a marine current, from the quantity which is daily (tous les jours) decomposed by the solar rays. If he had consulted Scoresby's Meteorological Journal for 1812, he would have found that in 774 and 78° lat. from ine 21st June to the 21st July, Fahrenheit's therinometer stood only one day as high as 37°, very often at the freezing point, and once fous degrees below it, in the shade. Wern. Mem. vol. ii. p. 170. As much ice therefore as the solar rays decomposed' on one side was probably recompused on the other. Our celebrated old navigator Davis, in stating his reasons for the existence of a north west passage, has sounder notions of the destruction of ice than M. Malte-Brun. “We know (he says) that the sea dissolveth this yse with great speede, for in twentie-four hours I have seen an ylande of yse turne up and downe, as the common phrase is, because it bath melted so fast under water that the heavier parte bath been upwarde, which hath been the cause of his so turning, for the heaviest part of all things swimming is by nature downwards, and therefore sith the sea is by his heate of power to dissolve yse, it is greatly against reason that the same should be frozen, so that the congelation of the seas can be no hinderance to the execution of this passage. The Worldes hydrographical Discription, 1595. We have no doubt that Davis is right, and that the action of the salt sea on the ice, and not its decomposition by the solar rays,' prevents an accumulation which otherwise in process of time would freeze up the globe.
+ We had scarcely written this sentence when we read in a Scorch newspaper (but we know not the authority) that an ice-berg, six miles in length, had grounded near Fula, the westernmost of the Shetland islands, about half the size of the mountain of ice, to the astovislıment and dismay of the inhabitants.
such question asked, as, Why should there be an open sea at the North pole, while a perpetual mass of impenetrable ice defies all approach within twenty degrees of the South pole? We might content ourselves with asking in our turn, Why is the northern temperate zone nearly filled with land, while the southern temperate zone is as nearly occupied by water?—Why is there a difference of temperature in the two hemispheres equal at least to ten or twelves degrees of latitude ? All such anoma.. lies as these find their just balance, we doubt not, in that system of compensations and counteractions which are discoverable in every part of the creation, and which may not only be necessary but essential and beneficial, though not fully comprehended by short-sighted mortals. The works of the Deity,' says Paley, are known by expedients; where we should look for absolute destitution—where we can reckon up nothing but wants--some contrivance always comes in to supply the privation.' this temper of mind, instead of a predetermination to find difficulties, if we direct our inquiries to the present question, we shall perhaps find that, because it was expedient, for some wise and good purpose, that the south pale should be blocked up with mountains of ice or land, or both, it became necessary that the north pole should be free from both; for our doctrine is, that where there is no land and a deep sea, there can be no permanent ice : and this opinion is so far from being new, that Frobisher, in his second voyage, expressly says, that the deep sea doth not freeze; and Davis proves, from his own experience, and the experience of all that have ever travelled towards the north, that the sea never fryseth.*
For more than two centuries the speculative geographers of Europe had maintained the necessity of the existence of a great southern continent-a terra australis incognita-on the principle that all the land, which had till then been discovered in the southem hemisphere, was insufficient to form a counterpoise to the weight of land in the northern half of the globe. No man, after the learned and ingenious president De Brosses, took up this: argument with more warmth than the late Mr. Dalrymple, hydrographer to the Admiralty. So strongly was this indefatigable inquirer impressed with the necessity of a great southern continent, that he actually created a terra australis cognita, whose probable limits he not only defined, but settled also its population, and calculated the great commercial advantages which Great Britain would derive from the mere scraps' which must fall from the rich table of a country, whose extent was greater than the whole civilized part of Asia, from Turkey to the eastern extremity of * The Worldes hydrographical Diseription. 1595.
China."* This vast continent, however, with all its wealth, power and population, vanished before the severe scrutiny of the immortal Cook; and Mr. Dalrymple lived many years in the full conviction, that the world continued, as usual, to preserve its equilibrium without the aid of a southern continent.
Whether any such counterpoise be necessary is not our business to discuss; but, supposing it to be so, it might be employed as an argument for the probability, we may almost add necessity, of a great polar basin, free from land, in the northem hemisphere; for it can hardly be doubted, that the immense mountains and fields of ice in the southern seas, which, commencing between the 50th and 60th degrees of latitude, except in very few places, are supposed to extend to the very pole, have been formed round a great nucleus of land, at no great distance from its outer margin; this is an opinion which Cook himself seemed to entertain, and that the ice had been fixed round it from the earliest time. Here then we have at once a south polar continent, extending probably to little short of three thousand miles in diameter, and consequently of larger dimensions than the north polar sea ; affording to the former an addition of weight, where weight would act with most effect, and taking off from the latter as much as may be supposed to maintain that equipoise of the two hemispheres, about which our early philosophical geographers were so anxious. It is rather surprizing that this counterpoise had not occurred to Mr. Dalrymple, as, in an early volume of the Philosophical Transactions, it had been recorded that, it was well known to all that sail northward, that most of the northern coasts are frozen up many leagues, though in the open sea it is not so, No, nor under the pole itself, unless by accident.'
But lest we should fall into the same error as this industrious geographer, we shall abandon all further speculations on this point, and proceed to state some circumstances which have a closer bearing on the subject, and from which some more conclusive inference may be drawn in favour of an open polar sea in the norther hemisphere.
The first observation that presents itself, is that of whales being rarely seen in deep water; but generally found in those parts of the arctic sea where the ice most abounds, and where it has taken
* The passage runs thus ;- The number of inhabitants in the southeru continent is probably more than fifty millions, considering the extent; from the eastern part, discovered by Juan Fernandez, to the western coast seen by Tasman, is about 100° of lougitnde, which, in the latitude of 40°, amounts to 4,596 geographic or 5,323 statute miles. This,' he continues, is a greater extent than the whole civilized part of Asia, from Turkey to the eastern extremity of China. There is at present no trade from Europe thither, though the scraps from this table would be sufficient to maintain the power dominion and sovereignty of Britain, by employing all its manufaetures and ships.'
the ground either on the shore or on banks. It is on these banks, and in the tranquil pools of water within the large fields of ice, that the arctic sea literally swarms with those marine insects which constitute the food of these huge animals. In the deep and fathomless part of this sea, midway between old Greenland and Spitzbergen,- deeper than did ever plummet sound,' --whales are rarely seen, and then not lying tranquilly on the surface, or playing about, because this deep sea affords them no food. As rarely therefore do the fishing vessels quit the ice and run in open water to the northward of Spitzbergen, being almost invariably disappointed in the expectation of finding whales. But vessels, which may thus have been tempted by an open sea to run to the northward for two or three degrees, have seldom met with any interruption from ice or land; and we know not what other explanation can be given of the absence of ice, than deep water and the absence of land.
Though we do not mean to assert with Davis, that the sea never fryseth,' yet we venture to maintain, from our own experience, that a deep and expansive ocean will not easily be frozen in an extreme diminution of temperature ; such a sea can never be tranquil in all its parts a sufficient length of time to be uniformly and permanently bound in icy chains.* Its surface may be partially covered, but the first breeze of wind and undulation of the water will break it up into patches, or pancake ice; these patches, carried away by the winds and currents, and uniting with others, float about till they finally fix themselves in narrow straits, or by the shores. Thus, though the inland Baltic, the White and Black seas, the gulf of St. Lawrence and the strait of Bellisle, are some of them occasionally, and others regularly every year, frozen up, the German Ocean, the Northern Atlantic, the Northern Pacific, and even the sea of Kamstchatka, have no ice but what is adventitious, or, in other words, such as may have been carried down by the rivers, or broken loose from the shores. This difference is not owing to the difference in position with respect to latitude, nor to any great difference of temperature, as those seas which are liable to be frozen, generally speaking, are situated more to the southward than those which never do freeze. Whenever the intensity of the
Captain Scoresby might well • anticipate' that his idle and thoughtless project, of travelling over the ice of the sea to the north pole, may be deemed the frenzied speculation of a disordered fancy.' We regret that a young man of some talent should have been betrayed, by a desire to make the vulgar stare, into such an inconsistency ; but it has served Malie Brun for an argument, such as it is, against the existence of a polar basin. One would have thought that a person of his reading and sagacity might have seen the absurdity of such an idea; and that, even supposing the polar sea to be frozen, it would present a surface so rugged and mountainous, as to make it an easier task to drive a broad-wheeled waggon over the summit of Mont-Blanc, than a rein-deer sledge to the north pole. VOL, XVIII. NO, XXXVI,